Vol. 35, No. 9 October
Barbara Pierce, Editor
Published in inkprint, in Braille,
on cassette and
the World Wide Web and FTP on the Internet
The National Federation
of the Blind
Marc Maurer, President
1800 Johnson Street
Baltimore, Maryland 21230
NFB Net BBS: (612) 696-1975
Web Page Address: http//www.nfb.org
Letters to the president,
subscription requests, orders for NFB literature,
articles for the Monitor, and letters to the editor
should be sent to the National Office.
cost the Federation about twenty-five dollars per year.
Members are invited, and non-members are requested, to cover
the subscription cost. Donations should be made payable to
National Federation of the Blind and sent to:
National Federation of the Blind
1800 Johnson Street
Baltimore, Maryland 21230
FEDERATION OF THE BLIND IS NOT AN ORGANIZATION
SPEAKING FOR THE BLIND--IT IS THE BLIND SPEAKING FOR THEMSELVES
Vol. 35, No. 9 October 1992
SERENA CAN WAIT AT THE BOTTOM OF THE HILL
ARCHITECTURAL BARRIERS FOR THE BLIND: THE MYTH AND THE REALITY
NATIONAL COUNCIL OF STATE AGENCIES FOR
THE BLIND ISSUES POLICY STATEMENT ON BRAILLE LITERACY
MAKING THE ADA WORK FOR US
by Ed Eames
SETTLEMENT IN MARYLAND VENDORS' LAWSUIT
by Donald J. Morris
BLIND VENDOR STILL IN JAIL
by Donald J. Morris
SOCIAL SECURITY FOR THE BLIND: THE PROGRAMS OF TODAY AND THE
PLANS FOR TOMORROW
by Gwendolyn S. King
THE NATIONAL FEDERATION OF THE BLIND 1993 SCHOLARSHIP PROGRAM
by Barbara Pierce
BLIND PROFESSOR RECEIVES MACARTHUR AWARD
THE PITFALLS OF COMPLACENCY
by Curtis Chong
THE VOICE OF THE DIABETIC: SPREADING THE WORD MADE EASY
by Ed Bryant
SOUTH CAROLINA: BIGGER AND GROWING
Copyright National Federation of the Blind, Inc., 1992
From the Editor: As Federationists know, Carol Castellano of New Jersey is one of the leaders of the Parents of Blind Children Division of the National Federation of the Blind. She is also a determined, committed, and knowledgeable Federationist. As evidenced by the following correspondence, she has taken the time to study the literature and learn the law. She knows her Federation philosophy and lives it. The hearts of all of us should be gladdened by this correspondence and what it implies. Here it is:
Madison, New Jersey
June 2, 1992
Dear Dr. Jernigan: Recently I received a phone call from the principal of my daughter's school. I was told that Serena, who is in first grade, would no longer be allowed to wait for me after school at the bottom of the hill with all the other children. She would now have to be picked up in the office. When I asked if something had happened, I was told, "We're concerned for her safety." When I questioned why there was concern for her safety, the principal answered, "Because she is blind."
For two years, kindergarten and most of first grade, Serena had been waiting with no problem for me to pick her up. Putting this restrictive policy into effect in May of her second year in that school seemed ludicrous. When I informed the principal that there were laws against such discrimination, I was assured that school personnel were not discriminating against Serena; they were just concerned with her safety.
I spoke to Mrs. Maurer soon after the phone call from the principal, and it is at her suggestion that I am sending the enclosed letter I sent to the superintendent of schools in our school district.
Had it not been for my contact with the Federation over the years and my familiarity through the literature with NFB positions on issues (the airlines issue in particular), I would not have been able to formulate so persuasive an argument. I am happy to report that the superintendent decided in our favor "in deference to the strong feelings set forth in [the] letter." Serena will continue to come down the hill and wait for me at the corner.
Can't wait 'til the National Federation of the Blind convention in Charlotte.
Madison, New Jersey
May 22, 1992
To the Superintendent of Schools: I am writing to explain our position on whether or not our daughter, Serena Cucco, can safely wait for me to pick her up at
Serena has good safety awareness. She knows about the school driveway, the street, the curb, and the traffic. She is aware of the crossing guard and what his job is. She comprehends the scene that is occurring as the children wait for their parents after school. Generally, she does not stand on the sidewalk to wait. The sixth grader who accompanies her down the hill usually stops on the blacktop path, several yards back from the corner. Serena stands in one place, alone or with other children or mothers, and waits calmly, patiently, and alertly, to hear my voice.
Unsafe behaviors do occur at the bottom of the hill outside Kings Road School. Children play tag wildly, sometimes stopping their running at the edge of the curb. Many children push and shove each other practically into the street. Several children are kept waiting for a long time before a parent comes to pick them up. Parents continue to ignore safety instructions and park their cars where the road narrows. As people parallel park along the street, the rears of their cars jut into the sidewalk where children are walking and playing. Parents continue to congregate at the corner, even though they have been requested not to. Serena, however, is engaged in none of these unsafe behaviors.
Has a separate policy been put in place to guard the safety of the children who play too wildly or push and shove at the corner? Is a special watch being kept over the children whose parents do not come for fifteen or twenty minutes? Or is Serena the only child for whom a separate policy has been formed?
We do not believe that our daughter is unsafe when she is standing at the bottom of the hill waiting for me. If we thought she were, we would be the first to request an accommodation. As we understand it, the issue of safety was brought up by a teacher who saw Serena waiting alone one day. This teacher was evidently unaware that there have been many days over the past two years that Serena has waited alone for me for several minutes and that I had explicitly told the sixth-grader that she did not need to wait with Serena until I arrived.
As usual, without any discussion with us, a policy was decided upon and I was issued an order: Serena would not be allowed to walk down the hill; I was to pick her up in the office from then on.
Those who decided on this plan did not consider the effect this separate treatment might have on Serena's confidence and self-image; they did not consider that this action would prevent her from ever learning the skill of walking down the hill independently, safely, and efficiently, and of course did not think that perhaps we, the parents, might have something relevant to contribute regarding the situation.
This safety concern is the product of someone's inaccurate perception, assumption, projection, or fear. It is not based on reality. Reality is that Serena has waited on that corner for almost two years entirely without incident. (The principal concedes that there has never been an incident or even near incident in which Serena was in any danger. The crossing guard, too, stated that there have been no problems with Serena's waiting at the bottom of the hill.)
The perception that a blind person cannot be safe because she is blind is typical of the way our society in general thinks about blindness. It shows a lack of understanding of the fact that blind adults lead independent lives and of the process of gaining skills that leads to that ultimate independence. My husband and I know blind adults who travel wherever they want to go independently; one of our acquaintances (totally blind, I believe since birth), in fact, travels the world as a member of the Foreign Service. Serena will never gain the skills for efficient, safe, independent travel if 1) she is not allowed to participate in activities such as walking down the hill and waiting alone, and 2) her confidence and self-image are undermined by custodial policies based on other people's inaccurate perceptions about blindness.
We wonder if, according to the person or people who decided that Serena can no longer wait safely alone, a magic age will come when suddenly she will be ready to wait alone. Will waiting alone somehow become safe? A child surely will not gain the skill she needs without the opportunity to practice. Independent mobility, like most things children learn, is a process. Serena is learning to cross streets, for example. This year she is crossing quiet streets alone; I do not need to walk beside her because she is well on her way to mastering the skills of knowing when she is in the middle of the street, walking purposefully, looking for the curb or cutout, and stepping up quickly and efficiently. I do not feel she has mastered listening to traffic on a busy corner, and we do not allow her to cross in traffic alone. It is a process, and as she gains skill, we, her parents, will allow her increasing independence and responsibility.
The Americans with Disabilities Act, and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act before it, were written to counter historical attitudes of custodialism that were based on false perceptions of what disability involves. There are things my daughter cannot do; but please do not keep her from doing something she can do perfectly well and with safety just because of someone's perception that she cannot be safe because she is blind.
The anti-discrimination laws do not allow exclusionary policies to be made on the basis of a person's disability. The ADA uses such language as "No qualified individual with a disability shall, by reason of such disability, be excluded from participation in or be denied the benefits of the services, programs, or activities of a public entity, or be subjected to discrimination by any such entity" (Title II: Sec. 202). The ADA also ensures that "nothing in this Act shall be construed to require an individual with a disability to accept an accommodation, aid, service, opportunity, or benefit which such individual chooses not to accept" (Title V: Sec. 501 d).
We hope that the seeds of custodial attitudes will not be sown or nourished by policies decided upon by the Madison School District. We don't want Serena or those dealing with Serena to view her as dependent and not capable. We hope you will help us in our striving toward a self-sufficient, independent future for Serena.
On Friday afternoon, July 3, the delegates to the 1992 convention of the National Federation of the Blind settled down to examine the vexed question of dealing appropriately with the alleged architectural barriers that are supposed to endanger blind people on every side. Studying and then stipulating methods of warning us about these hazards has consumed time and attention from the American National Standards Institute Committee on Accessibility for several years.
The Federation's position has been that most of these supposed dangers are imagined and the rest can be easily and efficiently detected by proper use of the long white cane or guide dog. Since society can never install warnings at every location in which some person with insufficient vision might be hurt, we would do far better to concentrate our efforts on improving the quality and availability of travel training in this country so that all Americans with limited vision can move about safely.
Almost a year ago, President Maurer asked the Federation's Second Vice President Peggy Pinder to attend the upcoming meetings of the ANSI Committee on Accessibility as the NFB's representative. In her Friday afternoon speech, Miss Pinder told the audience what happened when she took that assignment. Here is what she said:
ANSI has long been a sort of joke in the National Federation of the Blind. I first heard of ANSI in the mid-seventies as the people who thought that the blind needed detectable tiles and knurled doorknobs. For years, ANSI (which stands for the American National Standards Institute) symbolized misguided officialdom-- people who decided how to rebuild the world to take care of problems they thought the blind had without ever once consulting the blind ourselves.
Knurled doorknobs were invented by somebody as a tactile way of alerting the blind that they were about to enter a hazardous area. These included stages, boiler rooms, and loading docks--all places where blind people I know work. The concept was that the blind didn't know where they were, didn't know where they were going, and wouldn't find out until it was too late unless the sighted people around them built cues into the environment to warn them of danger. We laughed and used ANSI as an example of willful wrong-headedness.
Detectable tiles emerged from the same premises. These were defined as deliberately shaped or roughened areas within the walking surface, placed to alert the blind that there was danger ahead. The dangers included those same loading docks as well as transit platform edges, streets, and parking lots. As the concept of detectable tiles grew, it metastasized into a cure-all for all the travel ailments of the blind, not only warning us of dangers but also providing what is called "wayfinding," the marking of a path so that the blind can detect it with cane or foot and follow the markings to the destination. Again we laughed. Didn't these people know that canes or dogs, used and controlled by the blind person with good training and experience, already provided us with all the information we needed for safe travel and for wayfinding? Didn't they care? Apparently not. They never asked us if we wanted the detectable tiles. They just standardized them and supported their installation.
All of this had long been part of my background when President Maurer called me last November to give me an assignment. He said that he needed me to go to an ANSI committee meeting.
I didn't actually refuse to go. I tried to temporize, to suggest alternatives, to raise doubts as to whether anybody really, really needed to go. Mr. Maurer waited me out, every now and then patiently reiterating the assignment. When I got done, I had, of course, agreed to go. I thought one of the two of us must have flipped, and I was pretty sure it was me. Go to ANSI, that group of narrow-minded, humorless, professional custodians who had entertained us for the past fifteen years with their updates of the new paternalism and whose 1986 standard had suddenly been adopted more or less complete in the federal accessibility regulations? I couldn't really think of very many places I'd less rather be! And I went.
Through conversations with other ANSI accessibility committee members, I learned that my assessment of the ANSI committee had once been accurate. However, as the building code and manufacturer communities began to take accessibility more seriously in the mid-'80's, ANSI had decided to assign one of its veteran trouble-shooters to the accessibility committee, Mr. Richard Hudnut. Although he has never said this himself, I gather from the bits and pieces of history I have heard from others that Mr. Hudnut reached much the same conclusion we in the Federation had reached about the ANSI accessibility committee, and he dug in to make changes. He recruited fine minds and strong people from all sectors affected by the accessibility standard, using his long service and distinguished stature in the standards community to attract others who shared his commitment to effective, cost-efficient problem solving. When I arrived for the meeting in December as the representative of the National Federation of the Blind, the ANSI standard was much improved from the almost archaic 1986 version now largely copied in federal law. The only parts that hadn't changed much at all since the mid-seventies were those dealing with the blind. Knurled doorknobs were gone, but the detectable tiles were there in profusion, now grown to cover the edge of every parking lot and reflecting pool and the 6 feet in front of every corner in the country where there is a ramp. Detectable tiles are now defined scientifically as "raised truncated domes with a diameter at the base of nominal 0.9 inches, a height of nominal 0.2 inches, and center-to-center spacing of nominal 2.35 inches and shall contrast with adjoining surfaces, either light on dark or dark on light." In addition to all these protections for the blind, I found that ANSI had somehow gotten the wrong standard for Braille, a standard which lacked the specification of all five dimensions necessary to define Braille. The Braille standard required production of a dot much higher than we see in books, yielding signs that are actually painful to read, and it failed to prohibit what amounts to proportional spacing in Braille, allowing a signmaker to push cells together to save space, and actually making the Braille incorrect. For example, alarm if you push it together in Braille becomes tharm. And I've seen a sign that said exactly that.
The Braille was no problem. I had with me a copy of the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped Specification 800 from its engineering manual. I also did a little drawing, tracing around a penny to create a diagram of three Braille cells. On this penny drawing, I then displayed the various relationships that had to be defined and controlled. I told the committee that the NLS specifications had been the standard for Braille in this country for more than fifty years, for so long, in fact, that NLS no longer has records about when it was first adopted. Wherever the other standard came from, it wasn't the one everyone used, and it was producing Braille different from that to which we are all accustomed. The ANSI committee promptly and a little irritably adopted the NLS standard with some muttering under its breath about who had foisted off upon it some other standard than the standard standard.
In light of the Braille discussion, it is interesting to review the committee membership. In addition to people representing the three model building codes, numerous disability groups, manufacturers of various products, and state and federal accessibility officials, membership has long been held on this committee by the American Foundation for the Blind and the American Council of the Blind. The American Foundation representative served as chairman of the membership committee and strongly opposed the NFB application for membership on the ground that ACB already represented the blind on ANSI. Although no one from the NFB was in the room, the ANSI committee voted thirty- three to three to admit the NFB to membership. During the Braille discussion at the December meeting, both AFB and ACB remained silent, and neither chose to answer the questions regarding where the wrong standard had come from or why the right one was never presented before.
During the week-long December meeting, I spoke to anyone who would listen about the NFB's objections to truncated domes. Many of the people with whom I spoke indicated that they had no idea that the domes were unnecessary, hazardous in themselves, and expensive. They said that they would be glad to remove them. In addition, people who had worked with the domes waxed quite eloquent about problems of installation and maintenance. The dome discussion at the December meeting took place on Friday afternoon with a thin crowd present, and my motion to delete the whole section failed by one vote. I was horrified since I could count at least four or five people who would have voted for the motion if they had still been there. Well, I thought, there will be another meeting in June. We can work between now and then.
I discussed the setback with Mr. Maurer and told him that I thought there was probably a group of other people in the same position we were--knowing that the current draft of the standard wasn't right yet. I suggested that, if we cooperated with these other committee members by voting negatively on the standard and working for further change, our combined strength might prevail. I suggested that the same group might serve as a broad-based and strong force for advocating change in the Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board (ATBCB) rules based on the improved ANSI standard. He told me to try it.
The NFB worked with building owners and managers, state building code officials, and other disability groups in voting no and seeking further change. At the same time, our arguments had taken root, and the committee leadership had decided that ANSI should be published as it stood and used as the basis for asking ATBCB to change its rules. Our group of negative votes threatened both the consensus and the plan for immediate publication. I got numerous calls, assuring me that "we can get the tiles out next time." But, if we wanted to get rulemaking started, we would have to go along and play by the rules and let the detectable tiles stay in this standard since any change in substance would delay publication of the standard for at least a year.
Again I discussed all this with Mr. Maurer, and he decided that the Federation should vote against the draft standard anyway and seek elimination of the domes before we agreed to the standard. As he put it: "The Federation isn't afraid of making people mad. What we are afraid of is failing to stand up for the dignity of blind people. We won't ever do that. Go for it."
My job was to take Mr. Maurer's instructions and translate them into reality. As usual, he told me to do the thing which would build the best future for blind people. I went for it! The problem was to find a way of getting the domes out without triggering a backlash against the Federation. One track for this activity involved helping the building code people see that they could play an important role in changing the federal regulations which also have domes in them. It was necessary to get the power of a broad array of support for eliminating the domes from the federal regulation. In fact, we had been so successful in convincing the code people to work to change the federal regs that they began pushing hard for immediate publication of the existing ANSI standard as promised without removing the dome language. They argued that, having delivered the ANSI document on time, the Committee would have a solid position from which to pressure the federal government into changing its regulations. The second track was yet to be found.
I went to Chairman Hudnut. I just plain told him what the problem was: the Federation could never support a standard with the domes in it, and yet the Federation didn't wish to cause unnecessary trouble. I asked him if he, with his long experience on ANSI committees, saw any way out of the dilemma. I did not know Mr. Hudnut's position on truncated domes then, and I do not know it now. He has never said, and he has never voted. But I had confidence in him that, as an active and committed chairman, he would provide advice to any committee member who sought it. He did, explaining to me the method to use to dump the domes and still publish this year.
Mr. Hudnut also pointed out that, using the same procedure, a member such as the Federation which had voted negatively could decide to change its vote to affirmative, thereby strengthening the consensus which ANSI seeks for its standards.
The truncated dome discussion at the June meeting a month ago took almost three hours. The AFB and ACB explained how necessary these tiles were and how important it was to have precise measurements. Here is the summary of the Federation's arguments against the domes as I filed them in voting negatively on the standard:
1. Truncated domes in particular and detectable tiles in general are unnecessary for the blind and unsafe for everyone. Without tiles and domes blind persons now move safely throughout the current environment, proving that tiles or domes are unnecessary to achieve access.
2. When achieving their intended purpose (interrupting normal cane use), tiles or domes actually pose a hazard to the blind cane user since they deliberately break the normal flow of information through the cane at precisely those points in which normal information is most vital.
3. Tiles or domes potentially pose a safety hazard to all persons since they will stubbornly retain ice, snow, and debris; pose an ongoing maintenance problem; and catch the heels or wheels of unwary passers-by. The domes are sort of like symmetrical little cobblestones, a surface we have given up for many good reasons, including safety and maintenance.
4. The studies which claim to show the necessity and value of domes or tiles are methodologically flawed and are all based on the assumption that tiles or domes are necessary, the exact point that is not yet proven.
5. The Federation is supportive of accessibility for all disabled people and is concerned that the domes or tiles, applied widely, will constitute an accessibility barrier for persons using wheelchairs and for those with other mobility impairments.
6. The Federation is vigorously opposed to the installation of domes or tiles on subway platforms and specifically urges that these not be installed unless and until there is specific evidence that they are needed because:
a. Locations with known drop-offs such as subway platforms are areas in which cane users are particularly sensitive about interference with normal cane use, and interference is specifically intended by installation of the domes or tiles; and
b. The Federation believes strongly that accessibility should be affordable as well as effective. Recent estimates from a large metropolitan transit authority indicate that retrofitting a single station will cost at least $40,000 (for the tiles alone, not for any of the additional retrofitting) and that ongoing maintenance of the installation will, over time, cost even more.
Once again, the blind are being forced to insist that we are already safe; can already handle the responsibility of watching out for our own safety; and do not need others to take care of us under the guise, this time of that new buzz word of the '90's, "accessibility." In other words, I said to ANSI that we blind people have the tools and the knowledge and the ability to find our way ourselves, that we take this responsibility for ourselves as other Americans do and gather the information we need from the current environment to do it safely and efficiently just as other Americans do. We don't need the world re-engineered for us. We use it as it is. What we need is good training and good attitudes about ourselves. Then just turn us loose and leave us alone. We will be fine.
Others at the ANSI meeting joined in. Numerous committee members indicated that they simply were not convinced that the expense and disruption were necessary. For example, you Californians know about the BART statistics. In the San Francisco subway system detectable tiles were installed on every platform edge. But the statistics show large decreases in accidents before the tiles were installed and actually showed an increase after installation. A representative of people using wheelchairs said that the people he represents believe the tiles may very well pose a difficulty and even a complete barrier to persons in wheelchairs and with other mobility impairments.
The elevator guy pointed out that his industry has been compelled to spend millions on devices to level elevator cars precisely; why then, he asked, are others being instructed deliberately to unlevel walking surfaces? The hotel guy pointed out that experience in his industry shows that the occurrence and severity of slip-and-fall accidents can be inversely correlated with the amount of foot surface one has in contact with the walking surface. The domes are designed to reduce the walking surface on purpose.
When the vote was finally taken, the count was nineteen against the domes and only seven in support. The domes and detectable tiles of any kind are out of the standard.
With the ANSI standard much revised and strengthened in general, with Braille correct, and with the "detestable" tiles (as I have heard several federal officials call them), removed, the ANSI standard is now for the first time something close to what we in the Federation would like. There are still problems, but they are minor compared to the ones we have already solved. The next step is to help to bring about changes and improvements in the federal regulation by teaming up with other like-minded folks whom we have found through ANSI. So, President Maurer, I went as you asked and did as you directed. We now can look forward to a day when detectable tiles are in nobody's standard anywhere. There is work to do, but we now have friends and contacts all across the country with whom we can work to make these changes. So far as I'm concerned, nobody's laughing at ANSI any more.
Richard Hudnut, Chairman of ANSI's Committee on Accessibility, followed Peggy Pinder to the podium. He confessed later that he had not been sure when she began her remarks where she was heading. He was much relieved when it became clear that she had been pleased by the Committee's recent activity.
In addition to chairing the Committee on Accessibility, Mr. Hudnut serves on the American National Standards Institute Board of Directors and chairs its Appeals Committee. He has also served as an independent consultant retained by the Builders Hardware Manufacturers Association for the past twenty-seven years, and he has occupied a number of other positions that demand shrewdness and practical good sense. Here is what he had to say:
I understand now why Peggy didn't tell me what she was going to say; I'm not sure what I'm going to say. But I'll struggle through it just the same. I was going to say that my introduction was more generous than it was deserving; however, with some of Peggy's remarks I'm going to be very modest and say, "Yeah, it was deserving." Although I have met a few blind people in my life, this is the first time I have had a chance to speak to an audience largely composed of blind persons. I am glad that so many of you have gathered, have made the decision to take your lives into your own hands and to make decisions for yourselves. I also know that there are far too many people in our country who have not yet realized that our fellow citizens who are blind are and should be fully welcomed into our society. There is unfortunately still a great deal of prejudice, misunderstanding, and inequality in our society. I hope that this message today will describe for you at least one step toward the elimination of these.
My topic is the activities of the American National Standards Institute A117 Committee on Accessibility. When one thinks of access, people in wheelchairs generally come to mind, and indeed the arrangement of building elements to make travel and building usage possible for these people is more obvious to most, for example, than Braille on elevator car controls.
The Committee responsible for writing the ANSI A117.1 Standard is made up of a number of special interest groups both from the building user and the building owner points of view. Additionally, there are representatives of the building code enforcement community, manufacturers of products being regulated in some fashion, and various groups involved with disability. At present the committee membership is made up of organizations representing these constituencies. We have recently determined that individuals not sponsored by a specific organization, but with expertise not presently represented, should be eligible for committee membership. In short, the objective is to offer participation to every entity having a direct and material interest in the content of the Standard and who can contribute to its worth.
The genesis of the ANSI process is consensus, a word also very important to your organization. ANSI has worked for decades on approving standards for almost anything you can think of. When an ANSI standard is desired, ANSI requires the people who would be affected by the standard (i.e., manufacturers, users, builders, building code people, experts in the area) to be represented. Under the ANSI banner, these people are gathered into a single room and encouraged to reach a consensus, forging the concepts and phrases which will literally standardize safe and efficient design and use of whatever the standard covers. In effect we use the country's motto: Out of many, one. ANSI has been very successful in supporting this over the years, and the standards it approves are used daily in numerous areas. When accessibility became a topic of discussion, ANSI accredited the A117 committee in the early seventies to begin the forging of a standard that would distill into usable words the how-to of access.
The content of the Standard covers a very broad array of subjects, and it is for this reason that the committee membership is quite large, about fifty as a matter of fact. This entails presentations by those with mobility impairments, those who are deaf, those who are blind, those with restricted use of their limbs, and those who speak as advocates without having any of these disabilities. Those of us on the Committee who are not identified with a cause or type of disability sometimes find ourselves in the difficult position of listening to disagreements among the advocates of the people we are attempting to serve. This is part of what happened in the detectable tile discussion.
We also hear from those with a different sort of self-interest involving the required use or non-use of products or the configuration, size, and placement of such products. We can at least to an extent overcome the zealous product manufacturer looking for what I call the legislated sale. While there are many products that undeniably may make things somewhat more convenient, these products are not necessarily essential for access or egress. However, when these products are championed by a segment of those interests we are attempting to serve, such as a disability group, we must then pay attention. This is another part of what happened in the detectable tile discussion.
As so eloquently expressed by your leadership, people with sight are not the experts on blindness. People who are blind are the experts on blindness. But when two organizations, each made up of people who are blind, flatly disagree on a given issue, it poses a problem. We then find ourselves in the unenviable position of choosing sides. Naturally this involves listening to the two or possibly more points of view and deciding which is the more persuasive.
While blindness is obviously a disability in the strict, descriptive sense of the term, it certainly does not strike me as a devastating, life-ruining condition. Instead, I find your position that it is nothing more than a nuisance is much more accurate. It reminds me of a process we are going through in revising the building codes by mainstreaming the provisions in A117.1 that are regarded as equally beneficial to all people whether physically disabled or not. I know that the most common use of the term "mainstreaming" in your organization refers to choices of educational settings. However, in the building code context we use "mainstreaming" to mean the insertion of requirements in a building code that are applicable to everyone. One example in the accessibility context for which some people have resisted another kind of mainstreaming is emergency building evacuation. As for me, I totally reject and resent some emergency evacuation plans I have seen prohibiting people with disabilities from using the exit stair enclosures. And who are these disabled people? Those who are blind, among others. The justification? "The guide dog might cause problems. The cane might trip people. The disabled would slow egress for those who are not disabled." And other silly reasons. What is even more distressing is the understandable lack of outcry by disabled persons victimized by these silly restrictions for fear of losing employment.
The controversy over tactile cues symbolized by the use or non-use of truncated domes was an especially difficult problem for the A117 committee. They are required by the Access Board Guidelines. They were proposed and tentatively adopted by the A117 Committee, and it was not until the National Federation of the Blind became active on the Committee through the very effective participation of Peggy Pinder that we became aware of the disagreement among people who are blind as to the usefulness of truncated domes--difficult because it went beyond an argument among people who are blind. It included concerns expressed on behalf of people in wheelchairs, people who use walkers or canes, and others who saw what they perceived as a possible tripping hazard.
In other words the whole truncated dome discussion taught me that we have not yet perfected the networking method necessary to bring all of the views we need to everyone's attention in time for enlightened study and action. Without the full range of views, which most certainly includes the expertise and advocacy of the National Federation of the Blind, the ANSI Committee on any given issue is in danger of adopting criteria based on emotional gut reaction, even if it seems instinctively incorrect. In this instance, the NFB position will likely prevail because it was felt by most to be the most enlightened. At any rate, a substantial majority of the Committee (Peggy gave you the vote) chose to agree with the NFB position and removed the requirement for truncated domes, as did the Board for the Coordination of Model Codes, a group under the Council of American Building Officials, which also serves as the Secretariat of the A117.
Let me talk a moment about my frustration over the lack of coordination among the provisions of the ANSI accessibility standard, the Access Board guidelines, and the ADA itself. The Access Board guidelines were largely based on pre-existing Board criteria and the ANSI standard published six years ago. Members of the ANSI Committee updated, revised, improved, and strengthened our new accessibility standard using the ANSI consensus process. So the new standard about to be published is somewhat different and we think better than the Access Board guidelines. We would like to help the Access Board further improve its guidelines as well as bringing about standardization among standards. With this in mind, both the A117 Committee and the Board for the Coordination of Model Codes (BCMC) will be recommending to the Department of Justice to begin rule-making procedures to resolve this and other issues.
I know that your organization knows about ANSI, ADA, ADAAG, BCMC, and DoJ. The Americans with Disabilities Act itself is certainly the most widely discussed civil rights enactment, with more impact than any such legislation since the original Civil Rights Act in 1964. I know that your organization had reservations about the ADA from the beginning and insisted on the inclusion of a provision which allowed any disabled person to refuse special treatment of any kind. Without this provision you believed that the ADA could become a source of segregation of the blind. With it you have determined to work hard to make sure that the ADA does not come to separate and stigmatize the blind. You are in the forefront of working to make ADA a true civil rights act instead of another link in the chain keeping the blind out of full participation in society. That President Bush consulted with your Executive Director Dr. Jernigan relative to this Act and conferred upon him the Distinguished Service Award is a great tribute to him, but more important, to all of you--the members of the National Federation of the Blind.
Thank you so much for listening, and I hope you will go away from this session with hope for the future and the knowledge that, working together, we are making significant progress.
That is what Richard Hudnut said in his remarks at the NFB convention. Until a last-minute illness kept him at home, Lawrence W. Roffee, the executive director of the Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board (ATBCB) was to have taken part in this panel presentation. He subsequently sent Peggy Pinder a copy of the remarks he had intended to make, and they are particularly interesting because they express the views of the man who heads the ATBCB. He began by observing that "The NFB has the reputation of being one of the better organized and articulate advocacy organizations." He went on to summarize the NFB's philosophical position on architectural barriers as he understands it: "For too long many people--those with various disabilities and those without disabilities--have made assumptions about the relationship of people who are blind to the built environment. There have been too many incorrect assumptions about the abilities of people who are blind.
"Ms. Pinder's comments to the Board on our recent request for information on our research agenda are particularly appropriate. She wrote: `My plea to the ATBCB is to begin, not with studies, but with careful thought about what is being studied and why. Assumptions about blindness and its effects on the abilities of the people whom it affects are so deep in the human psyche that they must be consciously identified and rejected before proceeding with any study.'
"The same," Mr. Roffee continued, "can be said about assumptions about any person with any kind of disability. The Access Board is now finding that assumptions about the abilities of a variety of people with disabilities are incorrect or at least need to be closely questioned. It is becoming quite evident that many of the early studies that underlie most current accessibility standards are based on questionable assumptions.... The Board will be examining and giving careful thought to the basic assumptions that underlie many of the technical standards."
A little later he said, "I think it is becoming more and more accepted that legislation cannot be passed for people with disabilities, regulations cannot be developed for people with disabilities, accessibility standards cannot be developed for people with disabilities, and local businesses cannot make their establishments accessible for people with disabilities." He went on to state his hope that the time is coming when everyone will recognize the necessity of doing these things with disabled people. He summarized his thought by saying: "The [ATBCB] standards must be based on reality and cannot stigmatize any sector of the public."
Mr. Roffee's prepared remarks concluded with a paragraph that, even in his absence from the convention session, captured the view of everyone in the room at the close of this fascinating agenda item. He said, "I think that it is possible to take the myth out of accessibility. There are many indications that it is starting to happen. You and I know that it will not happen overnight. We also know that there will be numerous political battles along the way. On behalf of the Access Board, I look forward to working with this organization, the ANSI Committee, and many other organizations to make it happen and get rid of the myth."
From the Editor: The National Council of State Agencies for the Blind (NCSAB) met in Alexandria, Virginia, in mid-May of this year. I appeared on a panel at their May 13 meeting and found the group enthusiastically receptive to what I had to say. One of the actions taken by the group at their meeting was the adoption of the following statement:
A Policy Statement of the
National Council of State Agencies for the Blind
In today's information age literacy represents the primary tool by which individuals compete. Literacy, unlike other skills, is not an end in itself, but rather the means to a virtually unlimited variety of ends. It is the key to prosperity since literacy opens the way to information by tearing down barriers of myth and ignorance.
Braille is the primary means to literacy for the blind. Braille has been described as having liberated a whole class of people from a condition of illiteracy and dependency and given them the means for self-fulfillment and enrichment. Nevertheless, large numbers of blind people do not know Braille and, therefore, find themselves in a state of functional illiteracy. As a result, blind people have lacked many of the fundamental opportunities which enable them to become self-supporting, contributing members of society.
The National Council of State Agencies for the Blind (NCSAB) is an organization composed of the directors of forty-two public agencies charged with providing rehabilitation services for blind persons pursuant to the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended. The purpose of this Act is to develop and implement comprehensive programs of vocational rehabilitation and independent living for individuals with handicaps in order to maximize their employability, independence, and integration into the workplace and the community. As such, the NCSAB, through this policy statement, wishes strongly to emphasize the importance of Braille literacy for blind persons as the central means through which blind persons are able to maximize their employability, independence, and integration into the workplace and the community.
It is the position of the NCSAB that, given proper training and opportunity, the blind are able to function competitively in society. Central to this conviction is the understanding that true equality is a product of having the skills necessary to compete and the confidence to put those skills into practice. Thus, NCSAB encourages a strong emphasis on the mastery of literacy skills and on the development of an attitude that recognizes the true ability of blind people. In this way, blind persons will have the tools truly to integrate themselves into the workplace and the community, thereby fulfilling their potential as contributing, participating, taxpaying members of society.
by Ed Eames
Ed Eames is the President of the Fresno Chapter of the National Federation of the Blind of California.
For the reputed forty-three million disabled Americans, the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 has potentially far- reaching effects. It is a civil rights bill reaching into every facet of our lives including employment, transportation, leisure, recreation, etc. With its emphasis on rights rather than privileges, the ADA can become an important element in our fight for independence and full integration into American society. However, we as blind citizens must determine which provisions of the Act and its attendant regulations should be used to further our goals of security, equality, and opportunity.
Based on recent experience, I want to explore three aspects of the bill that have implications for me and other NFBers. These are public transportation, car rental and prisoner rights.
As a result of the ADA transportation regulations published on September 6, 1991, every municipality with a public transportation system was mandated to establish an ADA advisory council. Members had to be drawn from the disability community, as well as the transportation providers. This committee had to work on a plan to comply with the regulations scheduled for implementation on January 26, 1992. I was asked to join this group in Fresno and currently serve as chairperson of the Fresno Area Express (FAX) ADA Advisory Council.
Since moving to Fresno five years ago and joining NFB, I have appeared before several committees dealing with the unmet needs of blind passengers using the public transportation system. A request I made year after year was to have drivers announce stops where two or more bus routes intersect and at other major intersection points. I was always assured this request would be taken into consideration, but nothing ever happened. Imagine my joy, when I discovered the ADA regulations required this accommodation! Not only would this be helpful to us as blind passengers. It would also help visitors not familiar with the bus system, seniors, those involved in conversations, and multitudes of others.
As chairperson of the ADA Advisory Council, I pushed for involvement of the disabled community in sensitivity training for drivers who would have to conform to the law. Many promises were made to Council members about involvement, but we were not consulted. Our Council strongly recommended discussions with the drivers to inform them of the various elements of the law. Once again, we got promises rather than action. Approximately a week before implementation, drivers were notified by mail about the need to announce stops. For several weeks after the starting date, daily reminders were given to the drivers by central radio dispatch indicating the legal requirement of making announcements. Needless to say, many drivers resisted this change in their usual routines.
As chairperson of the Council, I wanted to avoid a direct confrontation with the drivers while still obtaining compliance with the law. I invited bus driver union representatives to our meetings and got them involved in the advisory process. Despite these efforts, I continued to hear about bus drivers' violating the law by refusing to make announcements.
On June 2, 1992, Lon Kafton, secretary of our NFB chapter, and I decided to investigate these complaints. Lon and I rode in eight buses between the hours of 11:30 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. Four drivers announced stops; four did not. I then filed formal complaints against the four non-announcers.
Shortly after filing the complaints, I contacted a local television station about this issue. They sent a reporter and a camera man to ride with me on two buses. In the presence of the television camera, both bus drivers announced stops. In spite of this compliance, the reporter put together a story based on my letter of complaint to the head of FAX and his response. Current reports indicate a much greater compliance with this element of the law. Since the filing of the complaints and the airing of the story, every bus driver with whom I have ridden has announced stops.
In April I flew to Phoenix, Arizona, with my wife, Toni, and a sighted friend, Deb Harper. Several weeks prior to the trip, we arranged to rent a car at the airport from Dollar car rentals. When we arrived at the airport, the counter clerk refused to rent to us because we wanted to charge the car on our credit card and have Deb as the driver. The clerk was adamant in his position that this was company policy. I asked to speak with his supervisor, who proceeded with the same litany: "It's company policy." Recognizing the futility of my efforts, I went to Budget car rentals, where I had no problem renting a car with Deb as listed driver and me as payee. Unfortunately, I had to pay more for the Budget car, since I had not made an advanced reservation.
After returning home, I filed a complaint with the United States Department of Justice. I was contacted at the end of June by a lawyer working for the Department. She is investigating the matter and believes my rights under the ADA have been violated. She suggested that in addition to the federal action, I hire a private lawyer and pursue the matter in the civil courts. This is an action I am considering.
Two years ago Willie, a member of our local NFB chapter, was convicted of second-degree murder and sentenced to fifteen years to life in prison. He is appealing his conviction and wants access to the prison law library in order to participate in preparing his appeal. During the last two decades, federal courts have guaranteed these rights to participate in the appeals process for all prisoners.
Willie is legally blind and needs magnification in order to read print material. The authorities in the California Department of Corrections claim Willie has the same access rights to the law library as all other prisoners. In fact, they suggest that if he needs help locating necessary law books, a library clerk can provide assistance. When I pointed out this would not give Willie access to the material since he can't read the books, they did not think this was a relevant issue.
After several attempts to break through the bureaucracy, Toni and I, as NFB field representatives, filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Justice in late January. Since our filing this complaint, Willie has been transferred to the California Medical Facility at Vacaville. However, he still has no access to the law library.
The Department of Justice is investigating our complaint. Richard Waters, the lawyer in charge of the case, has obtained permission to investigate conditions at Vacaville. He will be coming to California and has asked us to join him in his investigation. We plan to do so.
It should be obvious from these three ADA-related issues that this legislation can be used to further our goals of equal rights and opportunities. However, it is up to us to learn the full implications of the law and use it to further our cause. One of Dr. Jernigan's famous rallying cries was to join him on the barricades. In a similar fashion, I urge all NFBers to gather together on the ADA compliance battlefront.
by Donald J. Morris
From the Editor: As Federationists know, Don Morris is a long-time active member of the Federation. He now operates O'Leary's Emporium, a vending facility at the National Fire Academy in Emmitsburg, Maryland. As Don said in the letter accompanying his article, "There is no way that blind vendors in Maryland could have achieved this success without the strength and support of the National Federation of the Blind. With only twenty percent of vendors taking part in the withholding action we achieved an excellent settlement. Who knows what might have been accomplished if more had been willing to stand with us in our effort to bring the Maryland Vending Program into compliance with the Randolph-Sheppard Act."
That is what Don Morris says, and his comments underscore the point we repeatedly make. The Maryland vendors were illegally being charged a high percentage of withholding from their earnings--and not just on the net as the federal law requires (and had required since 1974) but on the gross. Moreover, they were subject to whatever whim the Division of Rehabilitation (the state licensing agency) might choose to exercise since the rules and regulations required by federal law had never been promulgated. Yet, only twenty percent of the vendors were prepared to stop paying the illegal withholding fee (or, as it is called, the set-aside) even though the NFB assured them that it had the determination, the strength, and the resources to protect them.
Not only vendors throughout the nation but other blind people as well should take to heart the lessons of the Maryland vending case. If we as blind people will only have the faith, the guts, and the good sense to stand together in the NFB, we will prevail. The seventeen vendors who stood up to be counted profited by doing so--and strange as it may sound, some of those who didn't stand up thought that they should receive an equal percentage of the money which had accumulated from the set-aside which the seventeen had shown the courage not to pay. The settlement was good (indeed, it was excellent, a total victory), but think what it might have been if a majority (or, better yet, all) of the vendors had stood together with the NFB. Here is Don Morris's article:
The benefit of collective action is well described in the following scenario regarding a recent NFB victory in Maryland. Maryland blind vendors were denied opportunity for earnings and protection under the law as a result of a decades-long failure of the Maryland Vending Program for the Blind to honor the Randolph-Sheppard Act. Here's how it happened...
1974 - Randolph-Sheppard Act amended requiring state licensing agency to obtain redesignation from Rehabilitation Services Administration; adopt updated rules and regulations for state's vending program; provide upward mobility training; take set aside (if any) on net proceeds, not gross sales.
1978 - Rules and regulations published by Rehabilitation Services Administration to implement 1974 Amendments.
1983 - Maryland continues to collect set-aside on gross sales; has not obtained redesignation as state licensing agency; does not provide upward mobility training; has still not adopted updated rules and regulations to conform with the 1974 federal law.
1984 - Blind vendors agree to give up all fringe benefits (Blue Cross/Blue Shield, bookkeeping and accounting service, program paid retirement, vacation and sick leave, extermination service, fair minimum return) in exchange for the elimination of all set-aside charges.
November, 1984 - The Committee of Blind Vendors and the State Licensing Agency complete negotiations on updated Rules and Regulations. State Licensing Agency submits them for "legal review and sufficiency" (Note - the Rules were submitted to an assistant attorney general assigned to the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation).
July, 1985 - Fringe benefits are eliminated, but in violation of 1984 agreement a set-aside (though reduced) still continues--and in violation of the 1974 federal law set-aside is still charged partly on gross instead of entirely on net.
September, 1987 - NFB of Maryland Convention - Vendors discuss with Dr. Jernigan our efforts to achieve compliance by the Maryland Vending Program with Randolph-Sheppard Act. Dr. Jernigan assures blind vendors we would be supported if we refused to pay any set-aside until the Maryland Vending Program is in compliance with Federal Law.
October 1987 - Seventeen blind vendors refuse to make set aside payments to the Maryland Vending Program citing Program non-compliance with Randolph-Sheppard Act and Regulations.
Christmas Eve, 1987 - Certified letters received by all seventeen vendors notifying us of termination in 30 days if we don't pay up.
January, 1988 - Injunction obtained by NFB to protect the rights and status of the seventeen blind vendors. Lawsuits filed in State Court and Federal District Court to require program compliance with the Randolph-Sheppard Act. Set-aside continues to be withheld and threatened termination is put on hold pending resolution.
March, 1988 - Updated rules and regulations previously approved by blind vendors are finally approved by the State Licensing Agency. The State Licensing Agency submits a request to Rehabilitation Services Administration for redesignation.
May 1988 - Redesignation by RSA achieved fourteen years after the amendments. Maryland was the last of all States in the country to achieve such redesignation. Blind vendors resume payment of set-aside. Set aside that was withheld earlier remains unpaid.
Variety of legal actions, briefs, filings, depositions, and motions continue throughout. Deposition of State Licensing Agency personnel and the discovery reveal documentation of violations of the Randolph-Sheppard Act.
1989 - Circuit Court declares that blind vendors must exhaust "administrative remedies" contained in the Rules and Regulations for the Maryland Vending Program for the Blind. The catch of course is that there were no valid rules and regulations at the time we entered into the Suit.
July, 1990 - We filed the appropriate request for the administrative review. This is the initial step; it is informal in nature; and it was conducted by employees of the State Licensing Agency. Guess what: They found in favor of themselves!
January, 1991 - The next step in this often delayed process is the full evidentiary hearing. We made our request and the hearing was convened. This hearing was conducted by a "neutral judge," an employee of the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation. During testimony State Licensing Agency personnel admitted, "Yes, we violated the Randolph-Sheppard Act, but we thought it would be in the best interest of blind vendors to do so."
February, 1991 - Admitted guilt notwithstanding, the DVR hearing officer also declared that the State Licensing Agency was blameless. The State Licensing Agency demanded that the seventeen of us pay them the set-aside we had withheld.
April, 1991 - The final administrative procedure commenced with our petitioning the Federal Department of Education, Rehabilitation Services Administration, to convene an ad hoc arbitration panel to hear our grievance.
May, 1991 - RSA acknowledged our petition and agreed to convene an arbitration panel but suggested to the State Licensing Agency that they exert their best efforts to settle this matter before it comes to arbitration.
Throughout the remainder of 1991, negotiations were conducted by our attorneys and the Attorney General. While blind vendors refused to give the withheld set-aside to the State Licensing Agency, we did agree to establish an escrow account under the control of the NFB attorneys. This money was to be held until all remedies had been exhausted. Standard issues of the Braille Monitor are not sufficiently large to detail all of the settlement proposals which went back and forth. Relevant however, is the settlement which was achieved, the highlights of which include:
SET ASIDE which had been paid at 9.75% of net proceeds would immediately drop to 8.5% January 1, 1992; 7% in July, 1992; 5.5% July, 1993; 4% July 1994; 3% July 1995. It will continue at a rate no higher than 3% until the year 2009.
VENDOR FRINGE BENEFITS: Each blind vendor will receive $2,000 per year to be applied to fringe benefits of the vendor's choosing: life insurance, retirement, health insurance, etc. This benefit will be adjusted for inflation annually. The fringe benefit payment is also guaranteed through the year 2009.
KENNELLY HIGHWAY VENDING INCOME: Maryland has a very successful Highway Vending Program. It generates hundreds of thousands of dollars of royalties to the program each year. One hundred percent of the Kennelly income will be utilized in the Maryland Vending Program. This likewise is guaranteed through the year 2009.
WITHHELD SET-ASIDE: The approximately $50,000 set-aside withheld by the seventeen vendors was refunded from the escrow account to all blind vendors in Maryland (fifty percent going to the seventeen of us who withheld and the balance distributed to the others).
Additionally, the seventeen of us were "...released and discharged from any and all claims for set-aside for 1987 and 1988." Furthermore, the State agrees "...not to retaliate in retribution for their withholding set aside during that period or for participating in the lawsuit."
In exchange for the above settlement, we had to agree to drop the matter and keep straight faces while the State included a disclaimer that they did not admit any wrongdoing.
In 1987 Dr. Jernigan assured us that if we took the action necessary to bring the State of Maryland into compliance with the federal law, protect our rights, and increase our income, none of us would lose our job because of taking that stand. I have always believed Dr. Jernigan, but I must admit that when my Christmas Eve letter of termination came and as one forum after another refused to rule in our favor, I questioned what I was doing. The questions weren't out loud, but I did ask them of myself. Clearly this is one more example of why the NFB. Although the seventeen of us represented less than twenty percent of all vendors, our unified action, supported greatly by the NFB, prevailed. As is often the case, we lost skirmishes and battles along the way, but perseverance and commitment by the NFB WON THE WAR. To Dr. Jernigan, President Maurer, and all of the nation's members of the NFB, Maryland vendors thank you.
by Donald J. Morris
From the Associate Editor: When the rights of blind people are in question, one never knows when lightning is going to strike or where. On May 13, 1992, Sharon Maneki, President of the National Federation of the Blind of Maryland, and members of the state's merchants division, received the first news of Baltimore County's impending action against Bill Ramsey, the blind vendor who ran the food and sundries concession at the county jail. The following five days of hectic activity resulted in the gathering of a large group of blind supporters at the May 18 meeting of the Baltimore County Council on Bill Ramsey's behalf. Here are the details as written by Don Morris, Treasurer of the Maryland Merchants Division, in the Summer, 1992, edition of the Braille Spectator, the publication of the NFB of Maryland:
The title of this article might surprise you; you'll be even more surprised to learn that this is good news. Bill Ramsey, a long-time vendor in the Maryland Vending Program, has successfully operated the prisoners' commissary at the Baltimore County Detention Center. Bill has done an excellent job, receiving praise from county officials and from satisfied customers. That's not all. Bill has donated television sets and other such items to the benefit of prisoners' recreation areas, and he has been an all-around good citizen.
All of this aside, County officials had decided to throw Bill out of jail and bring in another vending company that promised to pay the county a big commission for running the place.
A reporter for the Baltimore Sun newspaper learned of the plan at a county budget meeting. He reported on the proposed action, and the matter was brought to the attention of the National Federation of the Blind of Maryland's Merchants Division. Joe Byard, president of that group, and George Fear, member, called radio stations and started telling Bill's story. The Maryland Committee of Blind Vendors, the official advisory body for the Maryland vending program, passed a motion to come to Bill's defense, but other than that the Committee took no action.
Sharon Maneki learned that the County Council would be meeting on Monday, May 18, and suggested that Federationists attend to take part in the citizens' speak-out portion of the meeting. Because of the quick work done by Sharon and Joe, approximately thirty blind people (blind vendors and members of the NFB) came to the meeting. Testimony on behalf of Bill and the vending program was provided by Sharon Maneki, Jim Gashel (Director of Governmental Affairs for the NFB and long-time advocate for blind vendors), Joe Byard, George Fear, and Al Hill (another Maryland blind vendor).
The Council listened with interest and promised to talk to the County Executive. On Wednesday morning, two days after the Council meeting, County Executive Roger Hayden reaffirmed the County's satisfaction with Bill Ramsey. He went on to say that Baltimore County no longer has any plan to remove Bill from the business he has built or the customers he serves.
The people who organized support for Bill and who spoke on his behalf were certainly the leaders in this crisis, but it is also true that many other people played an important part in persuading the County Council to keep Bill Ramsey in his vending location. Everyone who attended the meeting or made phone calls or wrote a letter helped to win this victory. The National Federation of the Blind can fairly take credit for protecting the rights of a blind vendor who was at the mercy of the political establishment. Here is the letter I wrote to William Howard, Chairman of the Baltimore County Council, explaining the situation:
May 18, 1992
Honorable William Howard, Chairman
Baltimore County Council
This letter is written in support of Bill Ramsey and for continuing his opportunity to support himself and his family by serving the needs of prisoners at the Baltimore County Detention Center.
Mr. Ramsey is a blind person who has been a participant in the Maryland Vending Program for the Blind (MVPB) for more than ten years. For the past eight years he has operated the prison commissary facility in Baltimore County.
In the middle 1970's Baltimore County recognized that it was a losing proposition to operate this facility with County Detention Center employees. Baltimore County approached the Maryland Vending Program for the Blind to learn of any interest on the part of MVPB in operating this activity. In the early days the operation was only marginally profitable. However, the application of management expertise by the MVPB and the commitment of the blind managers operating the facility have made this a viable facility. This commitment, coupled with increased detention center population, results in this facility's now generating an income which puts Bill Ramsey approximately on a par with the average income of all other working Marylanders.
Unlike most of those working Marylanders, however, Mr. Ramsey bears expenses not typically faced by other taxpayers. Mr. Ramsey is blind. As a blind person doing business in the Maryland Vending Program for the Blind, Mr. Ramsey is required to remit 8-1/2 percent of his income to the MVPB. This assessment helps to fund the Maryland Vending Program and helps to create additional employment opportunities for other blind people who are striving to be taxpayers, not tax users.
According to Department of Labor statistics, seventy percent of all able-bodied working-age blind people are unemployed. When unemployment among the sighted population reaches a level of seven percent, society is rightly concerned. Even at that high level (seven percent), work opportunity for blind people is worse by tenfold. If Baltimore County denies Bill Ramsey the opportunity to pay his own way, Bill Ramsey will no longer contribute to society but will be dependent on public assistance for his livelihood.
Mr. Ramsey has sighted employees who will likely join the growing ranks of unemployment recipients. They, however, will have better prospects for future work than will Bill Ramsey. If Baltimore County forces him out of the small business he has built and nourished, not only will Bill suffer, but the taxpayers (including those in Baltimore County) will be required to provide Bill's maintenance and support. This will benefit no one.
Baltimore County Detention Center establishes the prices for which Bill can sell his merchandise; they establish the products he is permitted to sell; they require that Bill employ and pay for off-duty guards to assist in the delivery of merchandise to prisoners; and, of course, they require that Bill maintain absolute security to prevent the distribution of contraband which could threaten the lives of working prison employees.
It is true that Baltimore County does accounting for prisoner funds and makes appropriate deductions for those prisoner accounts when purchases are made from the commissary. This cost is borne by Baltimore County. Please note--this expense will continue whether Bill Ramsey or any name vending company is operating the commissary.
Bill Ramsey is a good business person. Where profits can be made consistent with good customer service, Bill will make them. Presumably another vendor would try to do the same. In a recent newspaper article Baltimore County representatives were quoted as saying, "Another company would pay the county $50,000 for the opportunity to run this commissary." That is simply not consistent with reality. Any corporate entity that tries to run this facility with a non-resident manager, instead of an on-site entrepreneur, will simply not be able to generate sufficient funds to make such commission payments to Baltimore County, to generate corporate profit, and to provide customer service of the quality now being offered. This would not be the first instance in which unrealistic promises were made in an attempt to gain a foothold. Once Baltimore County has gone through the ordeal of changing to the new supplier, you will likely hear that previously unforeseen conditions are causing the new supplier to renege on the original deal and that projected commissions will not materialize.
Baltimore County Detention Center employees argued that the unappropriated funds generated from vendor commissions will permit them to provide accouterments for prisoners at no cost to the County. But in the newspaper article they failed to mention that on a number of occasions Bill Ramsey has donated television sets and related items to the Baltimore County Detention Center for use as deemed advisable by Detention Center officials.
Consistent with State budget reductions, Baltimore County must surely face similar budget pressures. While this is a very real and pressing problem, it is simply not acceptable to expect one blind person to pay the cost of correcting it. Surely you will want to avoid, if possible, assessing higher taxes to Baltimore County residents; this is a laudable objective. However, taking 100% of Bill Ramsey's income is not an acceptable means of achieving this end.
Bill Ramsey is facing a dilemma in that, if he does nothing, he loses his livelihood. If he speaks out, he runs the risk of alienating Detention Center officials. Caught in this dilemma, Bill was forced to speak out. As a result, evidence of retaliation has been reported to me in that Bill was left locked in an isolation area between two cell blocks for more than twenty minutes.
Not only must Baltimore County Council representatives support Mr. Ramsey in his effort to provide for himself and family while serving Baltimore County; you must take appropriate measures that will assure that Mr. Ramsey does not experience any further harassment or misuse of official powers.
Very truly yours,
Donald J. Morris, Treasurer
National Federation of the Blind
P.S. The media and public sentiment are overwhelmingly on the side of right. Bill Ramsey is receiving support expressed in the strong public outcry against Baltimore County. Your prompt action in favor of Mr. Ramsey will quickly broaden this support to include Baltimore County, this time as the good guys.
That was the letter I wrote to the Baltimore County Council on the day of its meeting to consider this issue. The following day the Baltimore Sun carried a story by Larry Carson, which described the meeting and the testimony that was heard. The article was published the day before the Council actually decided to retain Bill Ramsey in his location. Here it is:
Baltimore County Council Hears Appeal To Keep Blind Vendor
A group of about twenty blind people went before the Baltimore County Council last night to ask that Bill Ramsey, a fifty-two-year-old blind vendor, not be forced out of his business of operating a snack and toiletry shop in the county's detention center in Towson.
The administration of County Executive Roger B. Hayden is considering a proposal to hire another contractor--who is not blind--to run the stand in exchange for a percentage of the profits.
"Where is it going to stop?" asked Alfred Hill, who is legally blind and operates a similar stand at the Social Security Administration in Woodlawn.
Sharon Maneki, President of the Maryland chapter of the National Federation of the Blind, told the council that replacing Mr. Ramsey with another private contractor who is promising to pay the county part of his profits would "set a dangerous precedent and will weaken the program for the blind."
James Gashel, another Federation officer, said unemployment runs around seventy percent among the blind and that 4,000 blind vendors compose the largest single employment group among people with the disability nationally. The vendors operate in many public buildings under a 1936 federal law that created the blind vendors program. "He's not just another contract vendor," Mr. Gashel said of Mr. Ramsey.
by Gwendolyn S. King
From the Associate Editor: The final item on the Wednesday afternoon agenda of the 1992 convention of the National Federation of the Blind was an address by the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration, Gwendolyn King. In introducing her, President Maurer pointed out that the NFB has had a productive working relationship with the Social Security Administration for a number of years. The Federation assists individual blind people to obtain the Social Security benefits to which they are entitled--exactly what the agency would have us do. We also assist Social Security officials whenever possible. Working together, we are gradually improving entitlements for blind Americans.
Mrs. King was sworn in as the eleventh Commissioner of the Social Security Administration on August 1, 1989. In the intervening years, she has made a conscientious effort to improve the programs which she administers. Recognizing her work on behalf of SSA program recipients, the convention delegates welcomed Commissioner King enthusiastically. This is what she said:
Thank you very much and good afternoon. I will tell you that I arrived at the Convention Center this afternoon just in time to hear your distinguished president describe the horror stories of your members with Social Security--first a $32,000-overpayment which was in error, then a $10,000-overpayment which also was in error, and on and on. And my Regional Commissioner from Atlanta, Gordon Sherman, who is with me today, leaned over and said, "Commissioner, he's warmin' 'em up for you." [Laughter]
Let me just say what a pleasure it is to be here. The Social Security Administration works with a lot of good strong advocacy organizations. And I stand here today to tell you in all candor that there is no organization that works more closely or more productively with us and no organization that has a clearer agenda for bettering the lives of its members than the National Federation of the Blind.
I also want to applaud your impeccable sense of timing in scheduling this meeting. By juxtaposing your convention with the upcoming holiday weekend, I think you send a very important and very necessary message. Independence is not just a virtue that we celebrate and enjoy collectively as a nation. Independence is also a right and a privilege that belongs to each individual citizen who seeks to attain his or her goals, aspirations, and dreams without being held back or held down by any impairment.
This weekend we will celebrate the 216th anniversary of our nation's independence. And of the 216 Independence Days America has experienced, this year's is most significant because this is the first Independence Day in which the law of the land includes the Americans with Disabilities Act.
This year we can celebrate an Independence Day in which men and women and children with disabilities can enjoy more opportunities and a greater degree of independence and fairness than ever before in our nation's history.
America is changing, changing in a way that your organization has advocated for some time. After too many years in which people without sight, people without hearing, people in wheelchairs were not given an opportunity to show their talents and display their abilities, we are finally coming around. It's taken a while. In fact, society's and government's awakening to the rights of citizens with disabilities reminds me of a story of a man who came across a dog one day, a dog who was lying on a porch whimpering, whining, and moaning.
The man asked the dog's owner, "Why is he moaning and whining like that?"
The dog's owner said, "He's lying on a nail."
The man said, "Well, why in the world doesn't he get up and move?"
The dog's owner said, "I guess it just doesn't hurt him enough yet."
For far too long in this nation the plight of Americans with disabilities must not have hurt us enough to move. We knew it wasn't right to deny opportunities to people with physical or mental impairments. We knew it wasn't right to treat Americans with disabilities as an invisible segment of our population. But it must not have hurt us enough to move.
Well I'm proud to say that that has now changed. We are committed to a new day, a fairer day for citizens with disabilities, not only through the signing of landmark legislation, but also through policies and programs intended to give people the help they need to take advantage of newly opened doors and newly created opportunities. There is a strong realization by this administration that laws like the ADA must be accompanied by strong, determined helping hands to give people the opportunity to make the most of this new era. And I hope and expect that the strongest of those helping hands will come from the Social Security Administration.
We have a challenge ahead of us. According to the Easter Seal Society, there are more than thirteen million working-age people with disabilities in this country. In 1990 more than eight million of them were not working. I can give you some figures from the Social Security Administration. Last December nearly 230,000 SSI beneficiaries who were blind or disabled were actively working. But those 230,000 people represent only 6.2 percent of all of our beneficiaries with disabilities.
Those numbers lead one to wonder, how can we move all the people who want to work from dependency to working self- sufficiency? Where are the answers going to come from?
I think the answers are within our reach. We can find the keys to independence, self-sufficiency, and opportunity for all, if we simply move in the right direction together.
At the Social Security Administration, I believe, moving in that direction requires that we too listen. Because I know you speak for yourselves. I know you've given us good advice and good direction in the past. There are three steps that we must take in Social Security. We need to do a better job locating and assisting the people who need our help, who are already eligible for our benefits, but who are not getting them. Second, we need to make our programs effective and responsive to the needs of our beneficiaries. And, third, we need to develop new and better ways to help our beneficiaries achieve lives of independence, productivity, and greater fulfillment. Let me take them one at a time.
Before we can begin, we have to reach all the people who need our help. In Supplemental Security Income and Social Security Disability Insurance we have instruments that can provide critical financial assistance to those who need it. The challenge with these programs, SSI in particular, is in finding the people who are eligible for benefits but are not now enrolled.
For nearly three years we have been conducting an intensive SSI outreach campaign, a cooperative effort with advocacy groups, community organizations, and concerned citizens throughout the country. And I think we are achieving some very significant short-term and long-term goals.
In the short term we are substantially increasing the number of people receiving SSI benefits. In March of 1992, for example, we provided SSI benefits to over 85,000 people who are blind. That is the highest such total in the history of the SSI program. Overall we have increased SSI applications and awards by over forty percent in the last two years. Those percentages represent thousands of people getting critical SSI assistance that they weren't getting previously--assistance that translates into food and clothing and shelter.
In the long-term, we are working on creating innovative outreach mechanisms and techniques that will be in place for years. We have engaged in cooperative agreements with organizations from coast to coast to develop outreach programs. We had, for example, an agreement last year with St. Joseph's School for the Blind in Jersey City, New Jersey, to establish a statewide outreach strategy to identify children and young adults who are blind and who may be eligible for SSI. We expect to enter into additional agreements this year with organizations that have outreach proposals designed specifically to help people who are blind. We have hired a contractor, who is in the process of evaluating the St. Joseph program to see if we can replicate it in other states and regions throughout the country.
My goal is to create an SSI outreach structure that will endure. The faces in government will constantly change, but I want SSI outreach to people who are blind, who are aged, who have a disability to remain an urgent national priority.
Reaching out to people also involves good communication skills. That, too, is a priority at SSA. We've taken a number of steps to make our programs and our public information more accessible. We provide materials about our policies and programs to 110 radio reading service stations each month.
We have worked with the Library of Congress to prepare both a cassette tape and a Braille booklet on SSA programs and benefits to the library's network of 160 libraries across the country. We want to continue to make our materials available and accessible to you, and I want you to know that I always welcome any new ideas from you to help us do that.
Step two in our process to achieve self-sufficiency and independence has to do with making our programs as effective and responsive as they can be. It doesn't do us much good to conduct an effective outreach campaign if the benefits that we're offering people are seriously flawed.
When I looked at the SSI program, I saw that it was fundamentally a program created eighteen years ago that had never been reviewed by any group outside of government to see if the people we were helping were even feeling that the program was working adequately and effectively as far as they were concerned. So I decided to take a closer look. I assembled a group of experts and advocates and asked them to conduct a series of public hearings throughout the country to see what people think about SSI and the way the Social Security Administration manages it. We wanted to hear both the bad and the good, and boy did we hear it!
We got some very frank and candid comments about problems that people are having with SSI, that people thought we needed to fix right away. We have been told that SSI benefits were too low. We've been told that the rules on in-kind support and maintenance are far too stringent and that, by reducing benefits when family or friends lend a helping hand, we are discouraging family members from playing any kind of a helping role. We've been told that the resource limits set by the SSI laws are too low, that people cannot set aside money for medical bills and other emergencies for fear of losing their SSI benefits.
Now that we've collected all of these comments, we move on to the next step. We are going to be publishing that report of the modernization group in the Federal Register. We're going to take those comments and put together a blueprint for improving the SSI program, which we will try to get included in next year's legislative agenda.
We're already trying to improve the services in our offices, and that service, I think, will continue to get better in the near future, for two major reasons: First, technology is always helping us. We're automating the SSI claims-taking program, getting rid of all those paper forms and collecting electronic data. We've had promising results during our testing of the process, and I believe we're going to expand it to most of our offices in the country next year.
We're taking further steps to deal with the huge increase we've had in disability applications over the last couple of years, an increase that was unprecedented in the history of Social Security and that resulted in a number of delays in the processing of claims.
The Office of Management and Budget released $100 million in contingency funds to SSA. I nagged them and nagged them and nagged them. Finally they called and they said, "Mr. Darman had two messages for you. The first is, he's releasing the one hundred million. The second is, he doesn't want to hear from you anymore this year." I thought I had done my job well.
With that money we will be able to process over 200,000 additional disability cases this year. We've also undertaken a series of initiatives to streamline the disability process. With these additional monies and with the initiatives, we are now able to provide decisions in most states within a reasonable period of time, and improving the disability program will continue.
It means maintaining up-to-date medical evaluation criteria. When SSA's Commissioner spoke to you last year, our Office of Disability had just initiated a comprehensive review of the adult and child special senses and speech criteria in the listing of impairments, and we were in the process of soliciting input from outside experts and advocacy groups. Jim Gashel of your organization gave us invaluable information and advice.
We've done a good deal since then. Written comments have been received and analyzed. We are collecting the information we need, but we still have a lot of work to do. The process will continue; we will keep you apprised of our progress, and we continue to appreciate your insight and your suggestions.
With these improvements underway, that brings me to the third step toward self-sufficiency I want to talk about today. That is developing better ways to help our beneficiaries achieve independent, productive, fulfilling lives.
One of the problems I've always had with government is that it doesn't tend to be too creative in its thinking. In government we always think that everything can be reduced to one or two options that we can pick from, and everything will be all right. It reminds me of the young man who was applying for a government job. He saw the question, "Do you favor the overthrow of government by subversion or undermining it with actions that are militaristic." He thought it was a multiple-choice question, so he circled subversion. We're always looking for the easy way out, the easy choices. But you know, sometimes the options are all difficult. I think, when that happens, we have to remember the words of that great American philosopher Mae West, who said, "When it comes to a choice between two evils, I always pick the one I haven't tried before." We need to pursue a number of avenues to try to help people get away from dependency and move toward self-sufficiency. And we should not limit ourselves with narrow options that come to us because of cost.
First of all, we're improving our communication to people who may wish to begin moving into the work force. We are finding that a number of people are eager to move to the work force. Thanks in large part to suggestions made by Jim Gashel, we began developing a series of letters about work incentives targeted to specific groups. Two of the first three letters we developed were targeted toward recipients who are blind. And I thank the National Federation of the Blind for helping us develop the appropriate language for both letters.
The first letter was sent to nonworking SSI recipients who are blind to offer advice about the various work incentive provisions that are already available to them. The second letter will go to working SSI recipients who are blind to inform them of specific exclusions of work expenses for which they are already eligible.
We're also very much aware of the fact that many SSI recipients may be reluctant to seek or accept a job unless they know how those earnings will affect their SSI and Medicaid benefits. This is a critical issue. If an SSI recipient wants that information and we don't get it to him quickly enough, he might lose a potential job opportunity.
We have provided all of our field offices with a computer software program which will take information about the SSI beneficiary that is already in our records, combine it with that person's anticipated earnings and work expenses, and then provide a written estimate of how much that person can expect to receive in SSI benefits for the next five months. I think, with this new service in place, people can feel more confident about making that difficult decision to re-enter or enter the work force.
Many of you are familiar with PASS, our Plans for Achieving Self-Support. For those of you not acquainted with it, PASS is a program in which SSI recipients can use some of their income to attain a particular work or education goal. For example, a person could set aside money to go to school or get job training or start a business, and SSI will not count that set-aside income when we determine that person's eligibility.
With the assistance of your organization and others, PASS is working. It's the kind of program that is focused and compassionate. It builds a bridge between dependency and independence. It allows people to take the steps they need to take to move forward. And I thank you again for your advocacy in promoting this valuable program.
Another endeavor underway at SSA is called Project Network. Project Network is a new direction for government, a way to make government assistance more personal, more caring, and custom-designed to an individuals's needs and concerns.
We are providing participating SSI and disability insurance beneficiaries with a case manager, a person who is familiar with the beneficiary's background, with the beneficiary's work or educational goals, and with the beneficiary's particular rehabilitation needs. The case manager will work with the beneficiary in designing a custom-made, personalized rehabilitation and employment plan and then stay with that beneficiary every step of the way--lining up rehabilitation and training services, making employment contacts, acting as the center of a network of essential services.
We're testing a number of different models in the SSA field offices, with private and public agencies. This is going to be a two-year pilot program. It is already underway in the Dallas-Fort Worth area and will begin this fall in Spokane, Washington, and Tampa, Florida. I am optimistic about it because I think it can drastically improve our effectiveness in helping people with disabilities to make a successful leap into the work force.
Let me just close by thanking you again for inviting me to join you today. These are exciting days for the Social Security Administration, for the National Federation of the Blind, and for all of us who desire a world that offers equal opportunity to every individual.
When I think of your organization and the fight you have carried on for independence and self-sufficiency, for dignity and respect for people who are blind and visually impaired, I am reminded that your organization is living proof that being without sight does not preclude you from having the gift of vision. The high hopes you have for your fellow citizens and the high enterprises you have undertaken will pay great dividends to those today and those tomorrow who will not allow their sightlessness to stand in the way of their hopes, their dreams, or their personal vision. I am proud to stand with you in your endeavors, and the Social Security Administration looks forward to working with you for many years to come. Thank you very much.
Sponsored by National Federation of the Blind Parents of Blind Children Division National Association to Promote the Use of Braille
The 1992-1993 ninth annual Braille Readers are Leaders Contest is dedicated to the memory of Gus Gisser. Deaf-blind, Gus was born over 70 years ago in a time of limited opportunities and little encouragement for the disabled. Rising above the harsh odds, he traveled independently and mastered Braille. Gus loved children and was dedicated to promoting Braille literacy among blind and deaf-blind persons of all ages. In memory of his dedication to Braille and his love for children, special awards will be presented this year to deaf-blind contest participants. These awards are made possible by a generous donation from the National Federation of the Blind of New York.
Purpost of Contest
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 lifetimes. The NFB's Braille reading contest helps blind children realize that reading Braille is fun and rewarding.
Who Can Enter the Contest
Blind school age children from kindergarten through the twelfth grade are eligible to enter. The student competes in one of five categories. The first category is the print to Braille beginning reader. This category is for former or current print readers who began to learn and use Braille within the past two years. This includes: 1. formerly sighted children who became blind after they mastered print, and 2. partially-sighted print readers who are learning Braille in addition to, or in place of, print. (NOTE: Kindergarteners and first-graders are NOT eligible for the print to Braille category.) The other categories are grades K-1; 2-4; 5-8; and 9-12. Students in ungraded programs should select the category which most closely matches their age and performance level.
Prizes for the Contest
First-, second-, and third-place winners are selected from each of the five categories. All winners receive a cash prize, a special certificate, and a distinctive NFB Braille Readers Are Leaders T-shirt. In each category first-place winners receive $75.00, second-place winners $50.00, and third-place winners $25.00. (Please read the segment on Deaf-Blind Awards for details about these special awards.) All contestants receive a Braille certificate and a special token for participating in the contest. Schools are encouraged to schedule public presentations of the certificates. Alternatively, presentations may be made in the classroom, at the local National Federation of the Blind Chapter meeting, or in some other appropriate setting. Members of the National Federation of the Blind will award the certificates and other prizes whenever possible.
Most Improved Braille Reader
Special recognition will be given to the top 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 and cannot be a winner in the current, or any previous, Braille Readers are Leaders contest. Winners of the Most Improved Braille Reader award receive $10.00.
Rules for the Contest
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 completed contest entry form must be received by the judges no later than February 15, 1993. Contestants must submit with the entry forms a print list of the materials read. Entry forms sent in without this list will be returned to the sender. This list must contain the following information: 1. student's name and contest category; 2. title of book or magazine; 3. magazine date; 3. author of book or article; 4. number of Braille pages read in each book, magazine, or article; 5. total number of pages read; and 6. signature of the certifying authority.
The certifying authority is responsible for:
- Verifying that the student read the Braille material listed and that the material was read between November 1, 1992, and February 1, 1993;
- Filling out and sending in the contest entry form in an accurate, complete, and timely fashion;
- Assisting the student in finding Braille materials to read for the contest.
- Teachers, librarians, and parents may serve as certifying authorities. The certifying authority must also be prepared to cooperate if the contest judges have any questions or need additional information about an entry. All decisions of the judges are final.
Students eligible for the special one-time only deaf-blind awards are those whose hearing impairment has a noticeable impact on their educational program. The top deaf-blind student in each of the five categories receives $50.00, and each deaf-blind participant receives a contest T-shirt. The certifying authority must mark the appropriate box on the entry form, which identifies the applicant as a deaf-blind participant, and sign a statement (also on the contest entry form) verifying that the participant meets the contest deaf-blind criteria. (The judges may, at their discretion, request additional verification, such as medical or school records, of the hearing impairment.) The deaf-blind prizes will be awarded in addition to any other prizes the participant may win.
For more information contact: Mrs. Sandy Halverson, 403 West 62nd Terrace, Kansas City, Missouri 64113; evenings: (816) 361-7813; or Mrs. Barbara Cheadle, National Federation of the Blind, 1800 Johnson Street, Baltimore, Maryland 21230; day: (410) 747-3472.
1. What if I didn't know about the contest until after it began. Can I still enter? YES
2. If I enter late, can I still count the Braille pages I have read since November 1? YES, if your certifying authority will verify that you read those pages.
3. Can I count my Braille textbooks? NO
4. Can I count textbooks if they are not the ones I am now using for my regular classwork? YES.
5. What if I don't finish reading a book? Can I count the pages that I did read? YES. However, be sure to note this on the entry form when you list that book.
6. Can supplemental reading books to beginning reading series be counted for the contest? YES.
7. What constitutes a Braille page? EACH side of an embossed piece of paper is considered one page. If you read both sides, then you have read two pages. This is true even if there are only two Braille lines on one side. On the other hand, you can only count the pages you have actually read. If a book has 35 pages, but you just read 10 of them, then you can only count 10 pages. Also you CAN count title pages, tables of contents, Brailled descriptions of illustrations, etc. as long as you really read those pages.
CONTEST ENTRY FORM
NATIONAL FEDERATION OF THE BLIND
GUS GISSER MEMORIAL BRAILLE READERS ARE LEADERS CONTEST
November 1, 1992 to February 1, 1993
[ ] YES...I am a deaf-blind or hearing impaired Braille reader. I verify that this participant meets the criteria for the deaf-blind awards for this contest. ______________________________ (signature of certifying authority)
[ ] YES [ ] NO Did you enter last year's contest (1991-92)?
[ ] YES [ ] NO Have you been a winner in a previous Braille Readers are Leaders contest?
Student's Name___________________________________ Age _______ Grade___________
Address __________________________________________ City________________________
Parent's Name _____________________________ Phone (Home)__________________ (Work)__________________
Certifying Authority/Position: Parent [ ] Teacher [ ] Librarian [ ]
Phone (Home)__________________ (Work)__________________
Mail entry to: Mrs. Sandy Halverson, 403 West 62nd Terrace, Kansas City, Missouri 64113
Category: (Check one)
[ ] Beginning Print to Braille
(This is for children, grades 2-12, who have begun to learn and use Braille within the past two years.)
[ ] Kindergarten and First Grade
[ ] Second through Fourth Grades
[ ] Fifth through Eighth
[ ] Ninth through Twelfth
One of the prizes for the contest is a special T-shirt. If you should be a
winner, what size would you require? (Check one)
Children's S (6-8) ______ M (10-12) ________ L (14-16) _____
Adult S(34-36) ______ M (38-40) ________ L (42-44) _____
Name ___________________________ Category ____________Total Braille Pages
Please use this form when turning in the list of books, magazines, and articles read. If additional paper is needed, be sure to put the student's name and his/her contest category at the top of EACH page and staple the papers together securely.
Number of Braille pages read:____________
Number of Braille pages read:____________
Number of Braille pages read:____________
Number of Braille pages read:____________
Number of Braille pages read:____________
1. Name and date of magazine:_________________________________________________
Number of Braille pages read:___________
2. Name and date of magazine:_________________________________________________
Number of Braille pages read:___________
3. Name and date of magazine:_________________________________________________
Number of Braille pages read:___________
Total Braille Pages : _________________
To the best of my knowledge, this student did read these Braille pages between the dates of November 1, 1992, and February 1, 1993.
Signature: ______________________________________________ (Certifying Authority)
Mail entries to: Mrs. Sandy Halverson 403 West 62nd Terrace Kansas City, Missouri 64113
For more information call Mrs. Halverson evenings at (816) 361-7813; or Mrs. Barbara Cheadle day at (401) 747-3472
ENTRIES MUST BE RECEIVED NO LATER THAN FEBRUARY 15, 1993
by Barbara Pierce
If you were a college or graduate student, what could you do with $10,000, or even $2,000? Tuition, books, rent, adaptive equipment: the demands are endless, and the money one has available never stretches far enough. As the parent of three students, I know how unbalanced the equation can be that arranges demands on one side and resources on the other. And all of us know just how many more expenses blind students have than most others.
That is why the National Federation of the Blind established a scholarship program many years ago and why we expanded it in 1984. For the most part, people do not believe that blind post- secondary students who have the same dreams as their sighted counterparts are quite right in the head. If they are so foolish as to pursue such fields as international relations, electrical engineering, or medicine, they are dismissed immediately as "out of touch with reality." Even if they major in education, counseling, or computer science but do not express a burning desire to "help blind people live more satisfying lives," obstacles are still often placed in their paths.
We in the National Federation of the Blind begin with the premise that blind students have as much right as anybody else to try to fulfill their dreams, and we believe that blindness as such is no reason to assume that a given individual cannot do a designated job or enter a particular profession. The individual may not have the intelligence, dexterity, stamina, creativity, or alternative skills to do the work successfully, and some of these limitations may well prove insurmountable; but blindness, which is so often held up as the obvious explanation, is not really the culprit.
The National Federation of the Blind's 1993 scholarship program seeks to find the twenty-six most outstanding blind post- secondary students in the United States today and honor them for their ground-breaking work. We want to help them on their way as much as we can. We will present them with awards ranging in value from $2,000 to $10,000, and we will bring them as our guests to the 1993 convention of the National Federation of the Blind to experience first-hand the excitement and stimulation of a gathering of the largest and most dynamic organization of blind people in the country today.
Every state affiliate and local chapter can help in spreading the word of this extraordinary opportunity for America's blind students. Scholarship applications have been or soon will be mailed to financial aid offices in educational institutions around the country, but many of these will be filed for reference when students come to ask about financial assistance. It is very helpful to have local representatives deliver or mail forms to the actual college administrator who works with blind students. Being identified with such a valuable national scholarship program gives the local chapter and state affiliate prestige and respect, and the local touch insures that more blind students will actually have an opportunity to apply for these scholarships.
Anyone can order scholarship forms from the Materials Center, National Federation of the Blind, 1800 Johnson Street, Baltimore, Maryland 21230. State Presidents and members of the 1993 Scholarship Committee will be sent scholarship forms. These may be copied as long as both sides of the form are reproduced. The 1993 Scholarship Committee has been appointed. This hard- working group will gather in the spring to evaluate hundreds of scholarship applications. They will also work closely with the scholarship winners during the convention in Dallas, Texas. The following people have been appointed to serve on the 1993 Scholarship Committee: Peggy Pinder, Iowa, Chairman; Adrienne Asch, New York; Steve Benson, Illinois; Charles Brown, Virginia; Sharon Buchan, Alaska; Douglas Elliott, Nevada; Priscilla Ferris, Massachusetts; Michael Gosse, Pennsylvania; John Halverson, Missouri; Allen Harris, Michigan; David Hyde, Oregon; Bill Isaacs, Illinois; Carl Jacobson, New York; Kristen Jocums, Utah; Susan Jones, Indiana; Tami Dodd Jones, Michigan; Kathy Kannenberg, North Carolina; Scott LaBarre, Minnesota; Melissa Lagroue, Alabama; Reggie Lindsey, Tennessee; Sharon Maneki, Maryland; John Miller, California; Maria Morais, New Mexico; Homer Page, Colorado; Barbara Pierce, Ohio; Ben Prows, Washington; Eileen Rivera, Maryland; Fred Schroeder, New Mexico; Larry Streeter, Nebraska; C. Edwin Vaughan, Missouri; Ramona Walhof, Idaho; Jim Willows, California; Joanne Wilson, Louisiana; Gary Wunder, Missouri; Robin Zook, Utah.
Here is the text of the 1993 National Federation of the Blind scholarship application form:
NATIONAL FEDERATION OF THE BLIND 1993 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 1993 are listed here with any special
1. Ezra Davis Memorial Scholarship; $10,000; 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.
2. National Federation of the Blind Scholarships; sixteen to be given: two for $4,000; five for $2,500; nine for $2,000. No additional restrictions.
3. Anne Pekar Memorial Scholarship; $4,000; given in loving memory of Anne Pekar by her parents, who say "The purpose of the scholarship is to help others as Anne had tried to do in her various volunteer endeavors. ...It is our hope that this small gesture in her name will remind us of the wonderful things about Anne and, in particular, her concern about other people and her desire to help." Winner must be a woman between the ages of 17 and 25.
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. 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.
8. National Federation of the Blind Educator of Tomorrow Award; $2,500; winner must be planning a career in elementary, secondary, or post-secondary teaching.
9. Hermione Grant Calhoun Scholarship; $2,000; Dr. Isabelle Grant endowed this scholarship in memory of her daughter. Winner must be a woman.
10. Kuchler-Killian Memorial Scholarship; $2,000; given in loving memory of her parents, Charles Albert Kuchler and Alice Helen Kuchler, by Junerose Killian, dedicated member of the National Federation of the Blind of Connecticut. No additional restrictions.
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, attaching to the application all the additional documents there requested. Multiple applications are unnecessary. Each applicant will be considered for all scholarships for which he or she qualifies. Send completed applications 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, 1993.
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 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, 1993.
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, 1993, with class standing (freshman, senior, etc.):
Cumulative grade point at this institution:
Institution to be attended in fall of 1993, 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.
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." ******************************
Those who attended the 1988 convention of the National Federation of the Blind, held in Chicago, Illinois, will remember that one of the speakers was Professor Geerat Vermeij, a marine biologist whose address was entitled, "To Sea with a Blind Scientist." He spoke passionately of his love of science and his conviction that blindness need not prevent anyone with the ability to engage in the scientific discipline from pursuing that goal. He also warned his audience that, in his experience, a thorough knowledge and extensive use of Braille were essential to good record keeping. His self-confidence and insistence on acquiring the opportunities for research that are necessary to a first-class working scientist exemplify Federationism in one of
Through the intervening years we have watched Dr. Vermeij's progress with interest. From the University of Maryland, where he was teaching when we first helped him win his battle to obtain a place on a research ship which he had been denied because of blindness, he moved on to the Department of Geology at the prestigious University of California at Davis, near Sacramento. His career has continued to be distinguished, and this summer he received a truly extraordinary honor.
On Tuesday, June 16, 1992, the MacArthur Foundation announced the names of the recipients of the famous MacArthur Awards for 1992. Dr. Vermeij is one of this year's honorees. Many newspaper stories were written about the winners. The following is the relevant portion of a front-page article from the June 16 edition of the Sacramento Bee, which describes Professor Vermeij's honor. Here is the article:
Davis Professor Wins $280,000 as "Genius"
by Ramon Coronado
Geerat J. Vermeij has been blind since age three, but he has made a career out of seeing things most people can't see.
The fifty-four-year-old University of California, Davis, professor, collects, studies, and teaches others his observations about seashells.
"What they tell us has broad implications," said the Dutch immigrant, who believes the study of the evolution of shell- bearing marine animals imparts lessons about architecture, the world economy, and even the arms race.
Citing Vermeij for his lasting discoveries about how animals protect themselves against predators and factors affecting extinction, the MacArthur Fellowship Foundation on Monday selected Vermeij as one of the winners of one of its genius grants.
This year's fellowships from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation ranged from $150,000 to $375,000. The grants, which have been presented by the huge philanthropic organization since 1981, went to thirty-three artists, scientists, leaders, and thinkers who were recognized for their talent and creativity.
Vermeij, who likes to be called Gary, was awarded $280,000 to spend as he wishes. He said he plans to use some of the money to travel and some to help students.
Sitting in a small den in his Davis home Monday night, Vermeij was surrounded by bookshelves filled with volumes of Braille, many of which were specially transcribed for him.
"When you go into science, there's essentially nothing in Braille," said the Princeton and Yale graduate, who has authored two books of his own.
For Vermeij, who came to this country at age nine, the study of shells was a lifelong ambition.
"I have known what I wanted to do since fourth grade," he said, recalling his fascination when a teacher brought shells from a Florida beach into a New Jersey classroom.
The biggest obstacle during his education, he recalled, came when a state agency for the blind declined to pay someone to read books about shells to him.
Eventually the state agency backed down, and Vermeij went on to earn his Ph.D. in biology and geology. He taught zoology at the University of Maryland for seventeen years before arriving at the University of California at Davis in 1988, where he is now a professor in the geology department.
That is what one reporter had to say upon the announcement of Dr. Vermeij's award. On August 17, in conjunction with the presentation of the MacArthur Awards, the Fresno Bee carried a more complete profile of this distinguished scientist. Here it is:
With a Touch of Class, Blind Scientist Makes His Mark
Professor is a World Authority on Mollusks, Animals that Build Shells
by Jules Loh
"I do not think of blindness as an advantage," the professor was saying the other day, in all seriousness. Well, of course not.
But neither was Geerat Vermeij, the blind professor, speculating on possible reasons why he was chosen just recently for a $280,000 grant to use as he pleases, no strings attached.
There's no reason to suspect the award was for anything other than solid scientific accomplishment. That and the safe bet that with financial distractions removed, further meritorious research would result.
Vermeij's curious remark was in response to an even more curious comment on his blindness by a colleague. The man was admiringly puzzled by Vermeij's almost uncanny perception of subtle differences in the structure of seashells.
He had watched Vermeij turn shells in his hands, inspecting each tiny ridge and crevice with patient fingers, and had wondered if his insight could be in part because Vermeij was, as he put it, "unencumbered by sight." Unlike others, Vermeij did not rely on color, often an undependable clue to identification, and seemed to see more.
Geerat Vermeij (his name is pronounced Ver-MAY; his friends call him Gary), a professor of paleobiology at the University of California at Davis, is a world authority on mollusks, animals that build shells.
Scientists know him as the one whose work has moved the understanding of mollusks from the merely anatomical to the analytical. Vermeij's research has uncovered the ways shells work, why some species have survived their predators and others become extinct.
Thus he has added a significant line of inquiry into the study of evolution. One of his books, subtitled "An Ecological History of Life," is considered a large contribution in the field of marine conservation.
He has written three books and about ninety research papers. He edits Paleobiology, the premier journal in that field, and will take over in the fall as editor of Evolution. He also teaches several geology courses at the university.
Scientists across the world know Vermeij not just from his work but personally. His field trips have taken him to about forty countries whose shorelines have become as familiar to him as the shells he brings back. He is equally at home on a reef or in a mangrove swamp as in a lecture hall or museum.
The $280,000 fellowship from the MacArthur Foundation, he says, will allow for even more travel.
"When there's an opportunity to go I can just go," he says. "Money is valuable, but time is even more valuable. Now I can buy an occasional bit of time."
But why? The blind poet asks, "Doth God exact day labor, light denied?" Vermeij's reply, like Milton's, is his work schedule. Like Milton, he has neither time nor inclination for self-pity.
"Blindness is a nuisance that can be largely overcome," Vermeij says. "It is not a disaster. It is not to be pitied or revered. It is just a condition that has to be dealt with as you get on with life."
Geerat Vermeij is forty-five, of average height, lean, with sharp facial features and a thin reddish beard and mustache.
He was born in a small town in the Netherlands where doctors diagnosed his poor eyesight as infant glaucoma. "I remember seeing colors, although shapes were never very sharp," he says. He remembers the colors, also the pain from pressure that would have caused brain damage. At age three, "quite sensibly," he says, they removed his eyes.
He had his ninth birthday on a ship bound for the United States, specifically to New Jersey, a state which his parents found to have a most enlightened program for the blind.
"I had been in a school for the blind since I was three," Vermeij says. "It was a boarding school. It was horrible to be away from home, but there was no alternative.
"In New Jersey, the state commissioner for the blind believed--as did my parents, and I agree--that the blind should go to public schools."
The state provided textbooks in Braille and he caught up quickly. He graduated from Nutley, New Jersey, High School first in his class, the 1965 valedictorian.
"Back in fourth grade," Vermeij recalls, "I had a teacher who was directly responsible for one of the most important turns in my life.
"Her name was Caroline Colberg. She came back from a vacation in Florida that year with a bunch of shells and put them on the windowsill to decorate the classroom. I was astonished.
"When I was a kid I collected things as kids do--pine cones, acorns, leaves, all of it, including shells.
"But those Florida shells were so much more elegant in shape and texture than anything I'd seen before. To me they were works of art. I still think so.
"The first scientific question I think I asked myself was, `Why are these shells so much prettier than the shells in Holland? Why don't they have the same chalky texture?'
"The question is still valid. I've gone some way to answering it but I don't have the complete answer by any means." Questing after the answer, Vermeij took a bachelor's degree, summa cum laude, from Princeton in three years and went straight into the doctorate program at Yale, which he also completed in three years.
"My thesis compared tropical snails with temperate ones. It was an OK study. It got published," he said, and added, smiling, "like many other unimportant studies."
Vermeij has considerably higher regard for the papers he has published since, at a pace that causes other scholars to blink.
"I believe in the publish-or-perish system," he says. "Scientists who don't publish are shirking their responsibility. Many who don't are afraid to be wrong, a misplaced fear. You're apt to be wrong sometimes. So long as you're not wrong all the time it's OK."
Vermeij comes right out with what some researchers might also consider a heresy, their obligation to teach.
"The research certainly enriches my teaching," he says, "but it also works the other way around.
"Sometimes I give a lecture and a question will arise in my own mind that I don't have an answer to, or just an interesting problem. If I didn't have to teach, they probably might not have occurred to me."
Vermeij taught for seventeen years at the University of Maryland, the last nine as a professor of zoology, before moving to the University of California three years ago.
His years at Maryland, he says, gave him the enviable opportunity to work every Saturday in the world's largest collection of crustaceans at the nearby Smithsonian Institution's Natural History Museum.
Even so, to live in California with a whole ocean at his doorstep had been his ambition.
"This is where I've always wanted to live," he says. "I couldn't be happier."
In his university office are a bank of drawers containing his precious shells and fossils and others, newcomers, on his work table waiting to be studied, classified, stored away. "They give me inspiration."
Shelves hold one hundred-fifty bound volumes of his own Braille notes of the 10,000 papers and books he has read, cross- referenced so he can locate citations for his own writings. Colleagues are astounded by his recall of everything he has read or heard.
His home is a ten-minute bus ride from campus. He and his wife, Edith, whom he met at Yale where she was a molecular biology student, have a ten-year-old daughter, Hermine.
The new federal law to ban job discrimination against the disabled may help advance a quiet crusade Vermaij has been waging all his life. But the problem, he says, begins long before the first job application.
"One of the general sadnesses is that the blind are discouraged by presumably well-intentioned people from pursuing what they want to pursue.
"I was turned down for a trip to the Aleutians aboard a boat owned by the University of Alaska. Too dangerous. Insurance and all that. But I had met the person who turned me down aboard the same boat in New Guinea.
"Many blind people feel themselves terribly inferior as a consequence of having been told that so many times. A very important first step is to make people feel it's okay to be blind."
Actually, he says, in his opinion sight is not the most inconvenient of the five senses to lose. "Hearing would be worse, although a deaf person might not agree. Or touch."
Nobody, he feels, should be denied a chance at the fullest life possible by someone else's notion of what's good for them.
"They should have equal opportunity. That, of course. But not," he said, groping for the term, "you know...affirmative action. Not that. People shouldn't have to wonder, or have others wonder, about their true merit. I believe that can only hurt the people it's designed to help.
"I see it as my main mission to be as successful as I can be at my chosen profession and that it represent real scientific accomplishment. If that rubs off on the blind, that's fine."
Geerat Vermeij, then, appears to have a further response to that colleague who was puzzled by a sightless professor's uncanny grasp of the remarkable beauty of a seashell:
No, there is no advantage to being blind. Nor should there be.
by Curtis Chong
From the Associate Editor: Curtis Chong is the Vice President of the National Federation of the Blind of Minnesota and President of the National Federation of the Blind in Computer Science, the computer science division of the National Federation of the Blind. His experience with disabled student services offices is unfortunately not uncommon. In the Spring, 1992, issue of The Student Slate, the publication of the National Association of Blind students, he wrote of his experience and warned his readers of the pitfalls that can befall those who rely unquestioningly on the services of disabled students offices. Here is what he has to say:
Many years ago, when I first began attending the University of Hawaii, I came across a program called Kokua. Kokua is a Hawaiian word meaning "help." The espoused purpose of the Kokua program was to help handicapped students attending the University of Hawaii; and, since I was blind, I was eligible to receive the help offered by the program.
Kokua maintained a staff of college students who served variously as readers, note takers, and guides. They were paid with rehabilitation funds. Kokua staff, for example, would perform the tedious and frustrating tasks involved in registration. Instead of having to stand in line for hours in a large and crowded gymnasium to register, blind students had merely to provide the helpful Kokua staff with the list of classes they wanted to take, and, presto! they were registered.
Much of the time of the Kokua student staff was used recording college textbooks. The service was so efficient that blind students never had to find out during the previous semester what texts were going to be used for the current semester; Kokua had enough student readers available to tape books on demand. Most blind students at the University of Hawaii loved the Kokua program. It did everything for them. They didn't have to plan ahead to have books taped. They never had to hire their own readers. They didn't have to stand in long registration lines. When tests needed to be taken, everything was handled by Kokua. Blind students didn't even have to learn how to travel independently; there was always a guide available to take them from class to class.
In short, blind students at the University of Hawaii became complacent, taking the services they received for granted. Perhaps even more tragic, many of them failed to recognize that their complacency was ruining their long-term prospects for a successful and productive future.
Consider the hiring of readers. The students employed by the Kokua program were paid for with rehabilitation funds. In fact, by the time I began attending the University of Hawaii, blind students were expressly prohibited from using rehabilitation funds to pay for their own personal readers. They were required to use the services of the Kokua staff. Thus, they were deprived of the invaluable experience of seeking out, hiring, supervising, and occasionally firing personal readers.
Many blind students never learned to be independent travelers, preferring instead to depend upon the helpful guides furnished to them by Kokua. Never venturing into unfamiliar territory on their own, they necessarily limited their prospects for future employment.
Each and every blind student on the University of Hawaii campus was regarded as a non-entity by most of the professors on campus. When a question came up about how a blind student would take a test, professors would invariably consult with the Kokua office rather than with the blind student. In fact, the Kokua staff members, not blind students, were consulted concerning all problems on campus involving blindness.
There were a few blind students on the University of Hawaii campus, including me, who recognized the existence of the problem and tried to deal with it. The system was, however, deeply entrenched, and our efforts were hampered by the fact that we were working in opposition to the basic desires of the many blind students who wanted to have things as easy as possible. Nevertheless, we did manage to achieve a small measure of success. We were able to establish a study area for blind students in one of the university's libraries, independent of the Kokua office. This allowed blind students to study on campus after Kokua staff locked up at 5:00 p.m. Additionally, we were able to prevail upon the state rehabilitation agency for the blind to permit rehabilitation funds to be used to pay for readers hired by individual blind students.
Back when I first started going to college, programs like Kokua were in the minority. Today, just about every major college campus in the country has some form of office specifically designed for students with disabilities. Some are more positive than others. It is human nature to take the easy way out and to let such offices do everything: recruit and hire readers, guide students from class to class, determine how tests will be taken, and provide staff to accomplish the tedious activities of course registration. Now as never before, blind students cannot afford to be complacent. For if they rely upon disabled student offices to handle even the most rudimentary aspects of their education, they will be selling themselves short and denying their tremendous potential to achieve true equality with their sighted peers.
If you are attending a college or university with an office for disabled students, ask yourself whether or not it is providing its services in a manner calculated to promote true independence. Is it encouraging students to gain invaluable expertise in the management of sighted readers? Are students expected to travel about campus independently? Are college professors encouraged to deal directly with the blind students in their classes instead of going to the office for disabled students? Are blind students expected to handle registration activities for themselves? If these questions cannot be answered in the affirmative, blind students must take immediate action to correct the situation.
Blind students cannot afford to permit complacency and the natural desire to take the easy way out to bolster an environment which encourages dependence, laziness, and irresponsibility. In today's corporate world there are no special services available to blind employees. Although my employer, IDS Financial Services, chose to purchase some assistive technology for me once I proved I could do the job of systems programming, company officials would laugh at the suggestion that a staff of readers and guides be made available to a blind employee. I am expected to travel anywhere to obtain technical training, and I am expected to manage my own sighted readers. IDS is not unique in this regard.
It is vitally important for college students to develop basic skills in independent travel, management of readers, and execution of their own college affairs; and it is critical that these skills be learned before or during college. Failure to develop these skills at the right time can and often does result in the loss of a paying job.
by Ed Bryant
From the Editor: Ed Bryant, who is a well-known Federationist from Missouri, is the editor of the Voice of the Diabetic, the publication of the Diabetics Division of the National Federation of the Blind. Here is what he has to say:
The Voice of the Diabetic, a nationally distributed quarterly magazine published by the Diabetics Division of the National Federation of the Blind, contains articles and information on all aspects of diabetes and blindness. Emphasizing self-management, alternative techniques, and independence, the Voice is an upbeat, positive publication that offers support and information to blind diabetics, those who are losing vision due to diabetes, the health profession community, and to other interested persons. The current circulation of the seven-year-old magazine exceeds 43,000 and is expected to grow. The Voice is formatted in print and on one-half-speed audio cassette.
The Voice is now offered free upon request to any interested person who informs us that he or she wants to become a member of the Diabetics Division. Although there is no membership fee, donations are gladly accepted. Most persons want membership. However, some do not. Persons not wishing membership can still receive issues of the Voice without charge. However, those nonmembers not paying the $15 yearly subscription fee may be removed from the mailing list. Persons requesting the Voice should specify the desired format: audio cassette, print, or both.
Because an estimated 15,000 diabetics become blind each year, the need for the Voice has skyrocketed. To reach those who are unaware of the Voice, distributors are needed to make the publication available at locations of public patronage, such as libraries, pharmacies, doctors' offices, hospitals, supermarkets, beauty salons, etc. Every copy distributed in such places educates the public about the work and philosophy of the NFB. Such distribution has recruited thousands of diabetics to membership.
The Diabetics Division needs a coordinator in each state. Duties of the position would entail apprising affiliate and local chapter presidents of the division's outreach activities, as well as assisting with Voice distribution. Although helpful, personal experience and/or expertise about diabetes is not required.
I request state presidents to contact me if they have someone in mind for state coordinator. Individual Federationists interested in becoming a state coordinator should contact their state president and/or me. For information regarding distribution, interested persons should communicate with me directly. Persons wishing to receive the Voice as a member or nonmember should contact the Voice editorial office. Direct your communications to: Ed Bryant, Editor, Voice of the Diabetic, 811 Cherry Street, Suite 309, Columbia, Missouri 65201; phone: (314) 875-8911.
From the Editor: From Friday, July 31, to Sunday, August 2, 1992, Mrs. Jernigan and I had the pleasure of attending the convention of the National Federation of the Blind of South Carolina, which was held this year in Greenville. It was truly an invigorating and uplifting experience, for the NFB of South Carolina is one of the most active affiliates we have, as well as possibly the biggest. More than 350 people were in attendance throughout the meetings and at the banquet; top state officials and civic leaders were present; and the atmosphere was one of optimism, belief, and confidence in the future.
Much of the credit must, of course, go to president Don Capps and his wife Betty. They give their full time to the Federation, and they are building an organization which is unparalleled in strength and performance. Many other state and local leaders are also emerging and deserve credit. Their influence is being felt far beyond the borders of the affiliate.
Throughout the convention there was talk of organizing a chapter in every county of the state, and I have no doubt that it will be done. At that time there were thirty-six chapters and three statewide divisions. Now there is already a thirty-seventh. As Monitor readers know, president Capps publishes on a weekly basis a summary of activities called a "Positive Note." This bulletin goes to leaders throughout the state, and in view of the sustained success in organizational growth in South Carolina, it seems worthwhile to print Positive Note 313. All of us would do well to reflect on the South Carolina example and try to emulate it:
Positive Note No. 313
The NFB of South Carolina has another important family member. The Greater Bamberg Chapter was organized Tuesday evening, August 18, and became the 37th chapter of the NFB of South Carolina which continues to grow and grow. Not only does the Greater Bamberg Chapter strengthen the NFB of South Carolina, but it also makes our national organization stronger as well. Thus, the NFB of South Carolina is now comprised of 40 chapters and divisions with no state affiliate of the NFB having more. At a downtown Bamberg restaurant, 26 persons attended Tuesday evening's organizing dinner, which was successful in every respect.
Here is how it all started. At the recent Charlotte National Convention Shannon Watson, recently elected vice president of the NFB of South Carolina student division, and other students joined Betty and me for lunch. Believing fully in young people, and particularly in the young people of the NFB of South Carolina, I asked Shannon if she would be willing to accept the primary responsibility for organizing an NFB chapter in her area. Without hesitation, Shannon gleefully accepted the assignment. Six weeks later, I am glad to report that Shannon, with the help of other Federationists, was successful.
This time it was not primarily and principally Betty and myself who did the actual leg work in making this chapter a reality. Instead I called upon other capable, and I might add, younger Federationists to work in the Bamberg area to assist Shannon. Parnell Diggs, recently elected treasurer of the NFB of South Carolina and vice president of the Columbia Chapter, along with his fiancee, Kim Gossett, an associate member of the Columbia Chapter, spent last Friday in the Bamberg area calling upon blind persons. Monday Mike Sutton, president of the Columbia Chapter and member of the NFB of South Carolina board of directors, spent all day calling upon blind individuals in the Bamberg area. Our thanks to Parnell, Mike, and, of course, Shannon for a job well done.
It was my pleasure to preside over the organizational meeting and talk about the many accomplishments of the Federation. We were pleased that the editor of the local newspaper was present and promised to do a feature story on this new chapter including using a picture of the newly elected officers.
Appropriately, Shannon Watson was elected president of the chapter. She is very bright and energetic and will undoubtedly make an excellent president, and she has lovely and supportive parents. Shannon is a sophomore at the College of Charleston. She has attended two national conventions, as well as several conventions of the NFB of South Carolina, and served as a counselor at the recent children's camp at Rocky Bottom. She has a winning personality, and her enthusiasm is contagious.
Robert Anderson, Sr., was elected vice president with Justin Nevins, who attends Francis Marion University, being elected secretary-treasurer.
Plans are already under way to organize the 38th chapter in another part of the state. The accomplishments of the NFB of South Carolina are such that we have the capacity and ability to organize a chapter in any part of the state. Please understand, however, that it does take dedicated members like Parnell, Kim, Mike, and Shannon to take time out from their many activities to make the necessary contacts.
It also takes money to travel throughout the state and to host organizing dinners. Applying strict conservative fiscal management in organizing a chapter, it still requires several hundred dollars, particularly with the NFB of South Carolina giving the new chapter a start-up treasury of $100.00. However, the NFB of South Carolina cannot utilize its limited funds in any better way than to invest them in the blind themselves, just as we did in Bamberg.
When you have an opportunity to participate in White Cane Week or to make living memorials, all Federationists should do so as these funds are spent wisely and solely on behalf of the blind.
Final thought: Whatever fills your mind will control your life.
From the Associate Editor: This month's recipes are from Delaware.
by Gerri Driver
Gerri Driver is a member of the Board of Directors of the National Federation of the Blind of Northern Delaware.
2 small packages grape Jell-O 2 cups boiling water
1 medium can crushed pineapple
1 can blueberry pie filling
1 8-ounce package cream cheese, softened
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup nuts, chopped
Method: Dissolve Jello in 2 cups boiling water. Add crushed pineapple and blueberry pie filling. Refrigerate until mixture is set. Combine the remaining ingredients to make the topping and pour over the Jello mixture. You may wish to substitute cherry Jello and cherry pie filling.
by Gerri Driver
1 16-ounce can fruit cocktail, drained
1 8- or 10-ounce can mandarin oranges, drained
3-1/2 ounces coconut
1 bag small marshmallows
1 8-ounce package sour cream
Method: Mix all ingredients together and let stand overnight in refrigerator.
by Gerri Driver
1 9-inch baked pie shell
1 cup sugar
3 tablespoons flour
3 tablespoons strawberry Jell-O
1 cup water
Method: Mix sugar, flour, Jello, and water well. Bring to a boil and cook for 1 minute. Cool. Pour over crust with whole or cut-up strawberries. Chill four hours. Serve with whipped topping.
by Patricia Beck
Pat Beck is a member of the Board of Directors of the National Federation of the Blind of Delaware.
1 pound ground beef
1/2 cup onion, chopped
1 large clove garlic, minced
2 6-ounce cans tomato paste, (1-1/3 cups)
2 cups water
2 tablespoons dried basil, crushed
1-1/2 teaspoons salt
1-1/2 to 3 cups fresh ricotta or cream-style cottage cheese, drained
2/3 cup grated Romano or Parmesan cheese
2 slightly beaten eggs
1/4 cup snipped fresh parsley
1/2 teaspoon salt
8 manicotti shells
1/2 cup grated Romano or Parmesan cheese
Method: In large saucepan brown meat lightly and drain excess fat. Add onions, garlic, tomato paste, water, parsley, basil, 1-1/2 teaspoons salt, and pepper. Simmer uncovered about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Meanwhile combine ricotta or cottage cheese, 2/3 cup Romano or Parmesan cheese, eggs, parsley, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and pepper. Cook manicotti shells in boiling, salted water till tender and drain. Rinse shells in cold water. Stuff shells with cheese mixture. Use a small spoon or cut the shells lengthwise with scissors, open to fill. Pour half the tomato/meat sauce into 12 by 7-1/2 by 2-inch baking dish. Arrange stuffed manicotti in a row. Top with remaining sauce. Sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup Romano or Parmesan cheese. Bake in 350 degree oven for 30 to 35 minutes. Makes 6 to 8 servings.
PORK CHOP OVEN DINNER
by Patricia Beck
6 pork chops, about 3/4 inch thick
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon garlic salt
1/2 cup water
1 tablespoon snipped fresh parsley
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1 bay leaf
6 small carrots, drained, pared, and halved
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
Method: Trim fat from chops. Heat fat in skillet. When about 2 tablespoons melted fat accumulates, remove trimmings. Combine flour, salt, pepper, and garlic salt. Dip chops in mixture and brown well, about 15 minutes per side. In 3-quart casserole, combine water and next five ingredients. Sprinkle carrots and potatoes generously with salt. Place in the liquid. Arrange chops atop, add onion slices, and cover. Bake at 350 degrees for 1-1/4 hours or till vegetables and meat are tender, basting once or twice. Skim off excess fat, remove bay leaf, and garnish with parsley. Makes 6 servings.
BAKED TUNA SUPREME
by Patricia Beck
1 10-ounce package frozen broccoli
1 9-ounce can tuna, drained
1 10-1/2-ounce can condensed cream of mushroom soup
1/4 cup milk
1/2 cup cubed sharp processed American cheese
1 cup soft bread crumbs
1 tablespoon butter or margarine, melted
Method: Cook broccoli according to package directions, omitting salt in cooking water, and drain. Arrange in a 10 by 6 by 1-1/2-inch baking dish. Flake tuna and place over broccoli. Combine soup, milk, and cheese. Heat till cheese is melted. Pour over tuna. Combine crumbs and butter, sprinkle over top. Bake in moderate oven (350 degrees) for 20 to 25 minutes. Makes 6 servings.
The Kanawha Valley Chapter of the National Federation of the Blind of West Virginia has compiled a cookbook called Welcome to Our Table. The book is now available only in print, but the chapter hopes to sell enough copies to be able to produce it in Braille. The price is $10 plus $2 shipping and handling. Send orders to: Ed Greenleaf, 502 Piccadilly Street, Charleston, West
Editor's comment: This is a well-put-together book. It has over 100 pages plus an index and a section on household hints. It is well worth the money.
**For Sale T-1200:
We have been asked to carry the following announcement: Toshiba laptop computer with a 20 meg hard drive and a 3.5 inch floppy disk drive. Computer will come with the accent speech card, extra battery pack, and carrying case. Computer was purchased in August, 1990, and has not been used much. Price $2,500. Call Denise Avant (312) 878-9518 between 7:00 and 9:00 p.m. or anytime on weekends.
**NFBTRANS Source Code Available:
Over the years, many people have made suggestions about what they think NFBTRANS, the Braille translation software written by the National Federation of the Blind, should do. Some of these changes we have implemented, and some (for a variety of reasons) we have not. Now, however, we are doing something virtually unprecedented in the blindness field.
As a service to the computer-using and Braille-reading communities, the National Federation of the Blind is releasing the source code to NFBTRANS. You are now free to obtain the source code by downloading it from NFB NET, our computer bulletin board service, and you may make whatever changes to the program you desire. Do you want NFBTRANS automatically to format files? Go ahead and write the code. Do you want NFBTRANS to take its settings from a configuration file? Go ahead and write the code. NFBTRANS is written in Pascal; and Charlie Cook, its author, reports that he could convert the code to C for those who would prefer it in that language.
In releasing the source code we require only the following things: 1. Do not use NFBTRANS as the basis for a commercial program. We are releasing the source code to the computer community as a gift, not to enrich individuals or companies. 2. If you make changes, please upload the modified source code and executable programs to NFB NET so that we can share them with others and possibly incorporate your changes into a much improved master program.
NFB NET can be reached by calling (410) 752-5011. Our modem can make connections between 300 and 9600 baud. Your other parameters should be set for 8 data bits, one stop bit, and no parity. The source code can be found in File Area 4, and modified programs and source code should be uploaded to the same area. Message Area 4 is for the discussion of NFBTRANS. If you have things you would like to see in the program, leave a message in area 4. NFB NET will act as a collection point for everyone's ideas and will try to find willing programmers to make the suggested changes. NFBTRANS author Charlie Cook has also promised to check in on NFB NET periodically so that you can reach him with your questions by leaving him a message.
If you have any questions about any of this, you can leave a message for David Andrews on NFB NET or call him at the National Center for the Blind, (410) 659-9314.
We have been asked to carry the following announcement:
Social Security Report
Social Security Beneficiaries
Need Volunteer Payees
While most people receive their Social Security and Supplemental Security (SSI) benefits directly, some people need assistance in managing their finances. Benefits to these individuals are paid through representative payees who receive the checks on behalf of the beneficiaries and provide for their personal needs.
The process of assigning a representative payee begins when Social Security is made aware that a beneficiary cannot handle his or her own benefits. Usually, this occurs when another person applies for benefits on the beneficiary's behalf.
In each case, medical or other evidence must establish that the beneficiary is not capable of managing his or her own benefits before a representative payee will be assigned. For many beneficiaries, a family member or friend serves as the payee. But for a growing number of individuals, no one is available to fill this role. In an effort to ensure that beneficiaries who are unable to handle their own finances have qualified representative payees to act in this capacity, the Social Security Administration is recruiting organizations with a base of responsible volunteers.
For groups interested in pursuing payee programs or for more information about Social Security, we have produced an educational closed-captioned video, "Serving as a Representative Payee". For more information, please call or write to: Louise Ross, Office of Public Affairs, Social Security Administration, P.O. Box 17743, Baltimore, MD 21235; (410) 965-4031.
**Growth in Florida:
From the Editor: President Maurer recently received a letter from Wayne Davis, the President of the National Federation of the Blind of Florida, which underscores the growth and progress which the Federation is experiencing in that state. The letter said in part:
"I am writing to give you a picture of the growth we have experienced here in the NFB of Florida in the past year. As you well remember, we got our merchants division chapter started at our 1991 state convention. The president is Richard Cruz of Tallahassee. In March of this year we started a new chapter in Pinellas County, which is the St. Petersburg area. The president of that chapter is Doug Towne. In May of this year we started a new chapter in Pompano Beach. Joseph Naulty, who resigned as president of the South Palm Beach Chapter to start the new Pompano Beach Chapter, was elected president. During the first week of June we organized the Gator Chapter in Gainesville, and the president is Julaine Arient-Rollman."
Not only are the members of the NFB of Florida building and strengthening the affiliate, they are also energetically engaged in the day-to-day work of the Federation. Janet Caron, vice president of the newly established Pompano Beach Chapter, was recently awarded a plaque honoring her as "Advocate of the Year" by the Broward County Human Relations Division's Advisory Board for Persons with Disabilities.
It is evident that Wayne Davis and the other members of the NFB of Florida are building a united, strong organization, one that will bring benefit to the lives of the blind of the state and nation.
**Kurzweil for Sale:
We have been asked to carry the following announcement: Kurzweil Reading Machine (model #7315-20)--This model has desk- top scanner. Does not have hand scanner. Version 2 software. Includes manual in print, Braille, and cassette. Machine and manuals in excellent condition. Would like to sell for $6,000, but will consider best offer. Contact: Mitchell Green, 1511 F Street, Lincoln, Nebraska 68508, phone: (402) 435-8953.
**Expanding Public Service:
June 22, 1992
Dear Mr. Maurer:
I am proud to tell you that I have been elected by popular vote as trustee for the town of Nederland, Colorado. I am the first-ever elected blind person to serve in this office.
I also came out of the Boulder County Democratic Party Convention with a unanimous delegate vote as the candidate for Colorado State House of Representatives, District 13. Unfortunately, I was disqualified for this office by the Secretary of State due to a length of time registration qualification.
I am a member of the Boulder, Colorado, Chapter of the NFB and attribute much of my public work to the encouragement of Homer Page. I give you this information to say thank you to NFB and to encourage others to try, try, try. See you in Charlotte!
David H. Shortridge
**Want to Adopt a Child:
We have been asked to carry the following announcement:
"Christian couple, married 18 years and childless, seeks to adopt a son between the ages of three and twelve. Couple offers a rural home, education in private Christian school, and enough love and personal attention to spoil any child. Couple will accept child of American, European, Hispanic, Oriental, Asian, or (most especially) Jewish birth. Couple also accepts mild exceptionalities such as partial sight, speech impediment, mild retardation, loss of one limb. Couple cannot afford private attorneys' fees or securities required for foreign children. Therefore, there is an opportunity for some person or persons who would like to provide for an orphan to have a part by providing this initial fee if necessary. Contact: Joyce and John Stiff, Route 5, Box 215, Savannah, Tennessee 38372, phone (901) 925- 5108. No collect calls, please."
Junerose Killian of Connecticut has asked that we carry the following announcement:
Have you canes that are unwanted, outgrown, or no longer needed? The Cultural Exchange and International Program Committee of the NFB sends canes to our blind brothers and sisters in developing countries. Please send these cane donations, Free Matter, to: Mrs. Junerose M. Killian, 7 Champlin Hill Court, Niantic, Connecticut 06357. To Monitor readers overseas: If you request a cane, please indicate your height so that we may send a cane of appropriate length.
Buddy Gray is a Federationist who operates a piano tuning and music center in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. He sells guitars, drums, pianos, electronic keyboards, band instruments, sheet music, and books. Federationists who are in the market for any of these items should consider dealing with Mr. Gray. Not only is he a Federationist but he says he will give a donation to the Federation for each purchase that is made by a Monitor reader-- which means, of course, that you should identify yourself as one when ordering from Mr. Gray. Contact: Buddy Gray Music Center, 505 15th Street, Tuscaloosa, Alabama 35401; phone (205) 345-1296.
John Neville has asked us to print the following:
Eureka laptop computer for sale. It is in excellent working condition with upgrades. Asking $2,000. If interested, please write to Neville Physiotherapy Clinic, 810 Vernon Street, Nelson, British Columbia, V1L 4G5, CANADA; or call (604) 352-2414.
**Good News for Personal Computer Users:
We have been asked to print the following:
Recording for the Blind announces its first catalog on computer disk. The Quarterly Disk Catalog, QDC for short, is now available from RFB. Each issue of the QDC lists every book added to RFB's audiotape library during the previous three months. The QDC also contains the catalog of RFB's entire electronic text collection, called E-text.
The Quarterly Disk Catalog comes complete with a reading program called READ and step-by-step instructions. QDC entries include title, author, publisher, date, and edition, as well as an annotation and subject headings describing the book, its table of contents, and the RFB shelf number for easy ordering. A QDC subscription is $12 per year. To subscribe, send your name and address, along with your payment (check, money order, MasterCard, or Visa), to RFB Customer Services, 20 Roszel Road, Princeton, New Jersey 08540; or call toll free at 1-800-221-4792.
We have been asked to carry the following announcement:
For over eleven years Aids Unlimited, Inc., has been supplying Touch 'N See Tactile Markers with Braille and raised characters for elevators, rest rooms, other rooms and spaces, or to handle almost any special need. Touch 'N See Tactile Markers meet the requirements of ADA. To meet the increasing demand of all types of organizations to comply with ADA, the Easier Ways Division of Aids Unlimited, Inc., is appointing qualified blind persons nationally as manufacturer's representatives to market Touch 'N See Tactile Markers. For further information call Hal Bleakley at (410) 659-0232 Monday through Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Eastern Time, or write: Aids Unlimited, Inc., 1101 North Calvert Street, Suite 405, Baltimore, Maryland 21202.
Sandy Jo Hansen, Vice President of the Black Hills Chapter of the National Federation of the Blind of South Dakota, reports that on June 4, 1992, the chapter held its annual election. The following members were elected to office: Joe Bollwerk, President; Sandy Hansen, Vice-President/Treasurer; Irene Sears, Secretary; and Nobel Mellegard, Board member.
**Bowlers Not Bowled Over by Bowl-A-Thon:
The Capital District Chapter in Albany, New York reports the following success story:
On Saturday, May 2, 1992, our NFB chapter held its annual bowl-a-thon to raise funds for the chapter and the state affiliate. The unusual thing about this event was that we pulled it off without rails or sighted volunteers to keep score, guide bowlers to the alleys, or help them find balls. Though we had thought one volunteer was going to come, he was not able to.
In true NFB spirit, one member figured out how to keep score, those with better hearing helped others find the alleys, and some used sheer guts and determination in order to keep our fund-raiser from going into the gutter. A good time was had by all--reconfirming our conviction that blindness is merely a nuisance.
**T-Shirts for Sale:
Hazel Staley, President of the National Federation of the Blind of North Carolina, writes to say that the affiliate still has a few T-shirts commemorating the 1992 convention for sale. They are five dollars each, plus one dollar per shirt for shipping. We still have all sizes. Shirts may be ordered by contacting Hazel Staley, 5310 Farm Pond Lane, Charlotte, North Carolina 28212.
More than thirty-five friends helped long-time NFB member Joe DeBeer celebrate his ninetieth birthday on Saturday, June 6, 1992, at the home of Federationist Jan Bailey in Rochester, Minnesota. Monitor readers will remember Joe from his lively presentation during our fiftieth anniversary convention in Dallas, Texas. Joe attended his first National Convention in 1941 but had been active back home in Minnesota for years. To this day Joe stays active in the Federation in his community. He is looking forward to his one hundredth birthday.
**FEMA Adds Emergency Publications:
We have been asked to print the following:
Three additional emergency public information booklets have recently been made available by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) in formats accessible to visually impaired persons.
FEMA Director Wallace E. Stickney said the three publications are part of FEMA's commitment to provide emergency preparedness self-help information to all sectors of the American public.
The "Checklist for Emergency Preparedness" (L-154) provides general information for personal and family emergency preparedness to meet a variety of situations. "Your Family Disaster Supplies Kit" (L-189) lists tips on the types of resources to keep on hand should an emergency such as an earthquake or hurricane occur. "Emergency Food and Water Supplies" (FEMA-215) offers suggestions on life-sustaining foods and means of obtaining potable water if utilities break down.
The three pamphlets have been combined into one special publication available in Braille or on a single audio cassette. Copies of the "Emergency Preparedness Checklist" alone are also available on 16-2/3 rpm flexible soundsheets. FEMA plans to produce other public information materials in accessible formats in its ongoing effort to meet the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
To order, write to FEMA, P.O. Box 70274, Washington, D.C. 20024. To order all three publications on cassette or in Braille, ask for FEMA Publications L-154, L-189, and FEMA-215 combined, and specify format. Specify flexible soundsheet if you wish to receive the "Emergency Preparedness Checklist" (L-154) alone.
We have been asked to print the following:
Spanish Made Simple, by Jackson and Rubio, includes complete text of inkprint book through chapter fourteen and Spanish- English, English-Spanish glossaries in six Braille volumes, excellent condition, and complete inkprint text included, $45. If interested, please do not send money, but reply in Braille or cassette if possible (no phone calls, please) to Janell Peterson, 303 Harvard Avenue, East, Apt. 302, Seattle, Washington 98102.
On May 23, 1992, Ever Lee Hailey (President of the Garden State Chapter and member of the Board of Directors of the National Federation of the Blind of New Jersey) and Daniel Dow (a computer programmer, accounting teacher, and consumer advocate, who works for the New Jersey Commission for the Blind) were married at the Mt. Olivet Baptist Church in Haddonfield, New Jersey. Congratulations to the newlyweds!
**New Catalog of Braille Books Available:
Seedlings Braille Books for Children's new 1993 catalog became available September 1, 1992. Twenty-nine exciting new selections have been added, bringing the total number of books available in Braille to one hundred sixty-two.
Prices have not been raised for the seventh straight year, and the average price is just $8.00 per book (which is half of what it costs to produce the books).
The types of books offered range from board books for infants, complete with print, Braille, pictures, and textures, to Nancy Drew Mysteries for eight- to twelve-year-olds.
These books are kept in stock, and prompt shipping is a high priority, but please order early to avoid the holiday rush. To obtain a catalog, write to Seedlings, P.O. Box 2395, Livonia, Michigan 48151-0395; or call (313) 427-8552.
**Planning to Move?
Since 1989 the National Federation of the Blind has had an agreement with North American Van Lines regarding members who use North American to move household articles from one place to another in the forty-eight lower, contiguous states (which does not include Alaska and Hawaii). Several members have used this service and have saved a considerable amount of money in doing so. North American recently increased the amount of discount which they will offer us. If you arrange for North American Van Lines to move, you will get a contract that will let you move with forty-two percent off the normal moving costs and thirty- five percent off the normal storage costs. In addition to the rate reduction, for those who use this program North American will make a contribution to the National Federation of the Blind equal to two percent of all costs of moving.
If you want to contract with North American Van Lines to move your posessions, you should call Cindy Rupples at 1-800-873- 2673. Tell her that you are a member of the National Federation of the Blind, that you have heard about the agreement between the National Federation of the Blind and North American Van Lines giving these discounts, and that you want to sign up for your move. Then remind her that two percent of the moving costs will be contributed to the National Federation of the Blind.
The National Association to Promote the Use of Braille held its annual convention meeting on June 30, 1992. The following officers were elected to serve one year terms: Betty Niceley, President; Mike Freeman, Vice President; Nadine Jacobson, Second Vice President; Linda Mentink, Secretary; and Dr. Emerson Foulke, Treasurer. Dues for NAPUB are now $5 and should be sent to Mrs. Betty Niceley, 3618 Dayton Avenue, Louisville, Kentucky 40207.
**Modern Maturity and New Choices Magazines Now Available:
Catherine Randall, who chairs the National Federation of the Blind Committee Dealing with the Concerns of the Senior Blind, reports the following information: Senior blind friends can order Modern Maturity magazine from the Arizona Regional Library for the Blind through inter-library loan by contacting their regional libraries for the blind. New Choices magazine is offered on flexible disk from the National Library Service. Those interested in receiving a subscription should contact their regional libraries for further information.
Mrs. Randall gave particular thanks to Frank Kurt Cylke, Director of the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, for his responsiveness to the needs of older blind Americans.
**Job Opportunities at the U.S. Department of Justice:
For the past several years the National Federation of the Blind, our Job Opportunities for the Blind Project, and the National Association of Blind Lawyers have been working closely with the United States Department of Justice to direct qualified blind persons to fill positions available in the Department. A representative from the Selective Placement Program of the Department's Equal Opportunity Office has participated in NFB conventions to recruit qualified blind lawyers.
On June 4, 1992, Attorney General William Barr held a meeting in Washington, D.C., with representatives of the disabled community. Its purpose was to discuss ways to locate qualified blind and disabled persons who might be interested in applying for employment in the Justice Department.
Sharon Gold, President of the National Association of Blind Lawyers, was invited to attend this meeting. She commended the Department of Justice and Attorney General Barr for taking the lead in publicizing employment opportunities in the legal profession to the blind and disabled community and recommended that this information be disseminated through the Rehabilitation Services Administration to the state departments of rehabilitation and other agencies serving the blind and disabled. In this way those counseling blind and disabled persons would be aware of the many career opportunities within the U.S. Department of Justice for attorneys, interns, and others interested in related careers, both in Washington, D.C., and across the country.
For more information, contact the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Personnel Management, Washington, D.C. 20530.
We have just received the following announcement from Ronda Del Boccio: We are pleased to announce that the High Plains Chapter of the NFB of Colorado came to life this summer. This Greeley-based chapter has already begun working on issues of local importance, including improving bus and paratransit service. The chapter officers are as follows: President: Ronda Del Boccio; Vice President: Peggy Woodward; Secretary: Harold Luke; Treasurer: Peter Reum; Board Member: Gertrude Duff.
**Computer Game for Sale:
"Run for President," Version 3.0, is now available. This is an IBM and IBM-compatible computer game that works well with speech output and has great sound effects. The player runs against the computer for President of the United States, travelling around the country and gathering electoral votes. The version 3.0 upgrade costs $5 to authorized users and $20 to new purchasers. For your copy send a check to Richard DeSteno, 20 Meadowbrook Road, Short Hills, New Jersey 07078. For more information call (201) 379-7471. The game will be sent on a 5 1/4-inch diskette unless a 3 1/2-inch one is required.
**Ninety-Ninth Birthday Celebration:
Sharon Maneki, President of the National Federation of the Blind of Maryland, reports in the Summer/Fall, 1992, edition of the Braille Spectator:
On a sunny Saturday afternoon, May 23, a dozen members from the Central Maryland and Sligo Creek Chapters brought a birthday cake, punch, cookies, coffee, and an assortment of gifts to the Columbia home of Anna Cable to celebrate her ninety-ninth birthday, which actually was to occur on June 29. The earlier date was chosen since most of the participants would be at our national convention on Anna's birthday.
Everyone at the birthday party could not help being impressed by the physical strength, mental prowess, and zest for life shown by this magnificent woman. She still lives independently in a home managed by Catholic Charities. She remembered the names of spouses and children of members of the Sligo Creek Chapter whom she had not seen in years. She regaled us with stories of her youth in Ohio. A charter member of the Sligo Creek Chapter, she recalled an earlier incident in the chapter's history when membership had diminished and a vote was taken to dissolve the chapter. She could not vote for dissolution; the Sligo Creek Chapter has grown and prospered ever since.
Anna learned to read Braille in her sixties and was an avid Braille reader for many years. She was baking cookies for Sligo Creek Chapter bake sales as late as eight years ago. She confessed that she had to give up writing letters on a typewriter last year and is now forced to carry on her correspondence, including writing periodically to a group of fifth graders, with the assistance of a reader.
At the end of an enjoyable gathering, Anna Cable unwrapped her many birthday gifts. Her response to a gift certificate for dinner for four at Morgan's, donated by the Columbia Hilton, was typical: "When do I go?" The certificate is valid for the next twelve months. There is no doubt at all that Anna and her friends will get over to Morgan's one of these days for a fine dinner. Happy birthday, Anna! Our hopes and our prayers go with you. You are an inspiration to all of us.
Four-month-old Navigator with forty-character display, eight-dot computer Braille cell. Price includes all manuals, accessories and shipping. Still under warranty. Will consider any offer above $5,500. Contact Maureen Young, evenings or weekends at (619) 260-1213. No collect calls please.