The Braille Monitor
37, No. 4
Barbara Pierce, Editor
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FEDERATION OF THE BLIND IS NOT AN ORGANIZATION
SPEAKING FOR THE BLIND--IT IS THE BLIND SPEAKING FOR THEMSELVES
Union Executive Committee Meets in Australia
by Kenneth Jernigan
by Day; Live Rich by Night
by Kenneth Jernigan
the Connie Leblond Case
by Barbara Pierce
Year-End Report for NAC
by Peggy Elliott
News: Past, Present, and Future
by David Andrews
Talk About Blindness: Remarks Delivered to a Group
of California Nurses
by Sharon Gold
The Real Scoop
on Radio Work
by Brian Johnson
the Blind Student
by James H. Omvig
in the Middle Kingdom: My Return Visit to China
by Thomas Bickford
of '94--What to do in Detroit
by Sue and Don Drapinski
1994 Convention Attractions
Copyright 1994 National Federation of the Blind
LEAD PHOTOS: 1) A kangaroo lying on the ground. 2) A koala bear in a partially enclosed eucalyptus tree. CAPTION: April is an autumn month in Australia, but it was high summer when Dr. and Mrs. Jernigan left last January for a meeting of the Executive Committee of the World Blind Union. The koala (above) and the kangaroo (below) are both residents of a wildlife sanctuary that the Jernigans visited while they were in the country. It is abundantly clear from these pictures that both animals recognize and enjoy a comfortable living arrangement when they find it.
[PHOTO/CAPTION: WBU North America/Caribbean delegates seated at a table in a meeting room. From left to right are Euclid Herie, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Canadian National Institute for the Blind; Gary Magarrell, Executive Director of the Ontario Division of the Canadian National Institute for the Blind; Susan Spungin, Associate Executive Director for Program Services of the American Foundation for the Blind; and Kenneth Jernigan, President of the WBU North America/Caribbean Region, attending the meeting of the World Blind Union Executive Committee in Melbourne.]
[PHOTO/CAPTION: Kenneth Jernigan stands with members of the WBU Executive Committee. Shown left to right at the WBU Executive Committee meeting in Melbourne are Shahid Memon of Pakistan, President of the Asian Blind Union; Imed-Eddine Chaker of Tunisia, President of the African Blind Union; and Kenneth Jernigan.]
[PHOTO/CAPTION: David Blyth stands at the head table where the WBU Executive Committee meets. David Blyth presides at the meeting of the Executive Committee of the World Blind Union in Melbourne.]
[PHOTO/CAPTION: The main entrance of the Royal Victorian Institute for the Blind in Melbourne, Australia.]
[PHOTO/CAPTION: Entrance of Association for the Blind's library, taken from the street. The library of the Association for the Blind in Melbourne, Australia.]
[PHOTO/CAPTION: Dr. Jernigan bends and pets a wombat, which is lying in a wheelbarrow. Kenneth Jernigan pets a wombat at a wildlife preserve in Australia.]
[PHOTO/CAPTION: Kenneth Jernigan feeds a courteous kangaroo.]
[PHOTO/CAPTION: Kenneth and Mary Ellen Jernigan standing at an outside marketplace, with shoppers around. Kenneth and Mary Ellen Jernigan at the Victoria Market in Melbourne.]
WORLD BLIND UNION EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE MEETS IN AUSTRALIA
by Kenneth Jernigan
As President of the North America/Caribbean Region, I am one of the officers of the World Blind Union and a member of its executive committee. The officers usually meet twice a year, and the executive committee meets at least once in the interim between the quadrennial conventions. Such a meeting of officers and executive committee occurred in Melbourne, Australia, in late January of this year, and Mrs. Jernigan and I attended.
We left Dulles Airport on the evening of January 20, and I approached the flight with my usual misgivings. As most of those who have even a casual acquaintance with me know, I have a real fear of flying. It wasn't always like that. In the 1950's I flew more than a million miles and enjoyed every minute of it. I did, that is, until the day I had the misfortune of being on a plane that caught fire on takeoff. We made it back to the airport without mishap, but just a few days later, I was coming out of Reno when one of the two engines on the plane didn't develop power, and we almost crashed. That did it. I felt like a gun-shy dog, and I haven't changed since. But there are times when I simply have to fly--so I do it.
But back to the Melbourne trip. Because of the price of tickets, we went the long way 'round. We flew from Dulles seven hours nonstop to Frankfurt, Germany--and then after a two-hour wait, twelve more hours nonstop to Singapore. There was another two-hour wait, and then eight more hours nonstop to Melbourne. When you consider that Melbourne is sixteen hours ahead of Baltimore and that the trip took more than thirty hours, you can see why we had to unscramble our days and nights once we got there. Actually we weren't as tired as we had expected to be.
I think I can best summarize the Melbourne experience by dividing it into four categories: the meeting of the World Blind Union officers and executive committee, my visits to agencies doing work with the blind, my contacts with local blind people, and what you might call extracurricular activities. Let's take first things first and deal with the WBU.
The meetings were held at the facilities of the RVIB (Royal Victorian Institute for the Blind), one of the two principal agencies doing work with the blind in the State of Victoria. WBU president David Blyth is an employee of RVIB, heading up its division of employment services, and he and the rest of the RVIB staff exerted themselves mightily to see that all of us were comfortable and well-treated.
The meetings were about as inspiring as such things usually are, but there were ebbs and flows. As far as I am concerned, two events stand out. At the beginning I should say that I am probably in the minority in putting these two items at the top of the list. The first dealt with some of the countries which were formerly part of the Soviet Union, and the second had to do with the relations between the WBU and the International Disability Foundation.
Several of the former Soviet Republics (those located in Central Asia) had applied for membership in the WBU, and the question of what region they should join was being considered. The World Blind Union is divided into seven regions: Africa, Asia, East Asia/Pacific, Europe, Latin America, Middle East, and North America/Caribbean. Since the former Soviet Republics under discussion are clearly in Asia, I wondered what we were talking about. I was quickly enlightened.
I was told that since they had formerly been part of the Soviet Union, and since the Soviet Union had been part of Europe, the Republics in question might feel more comfortable being part of the European Blind Union. When I got the drift of the argument and recovered from the shock, I suggested that perhaps the United States should also be part of the European Blind Union. After all, we were formerly colonies of England. And maybe we could also add Canada, Australia, and a sizable portion of Asia--not to mention most of Africa and the Middle East. Of course, we mustn't forget Latin America, which belonged to Spain--except for Brazil, which belonged to Portugal. My humor was not appreciated, nor was the logic lurking beneath it.
After some discussion the question was postponed for later decision, but the matter points up a problem which bedevils the World Blind Union and which will not go away. There is a serious imbalance in WBU representation. Of the somewhat more than 300 votes, Europe has 120. North America/Caribbean has 12, and Asia (with its billions of people) has fewer than 100. The other regions are similarly under-represented. When I called attention to these statistics, I was told that I should not be concerned since Europe does not vote as a block. Perhaps--but I was neither comforted nor convinced. The fact that the European leaders apparently see no problem or injustice in this situation does not bode well for the future. In Cairo the WBU president (a European) demonstrated that Europe has enough votes to prevent any change in the constitution regarding ratio of delegates. Even so, the WBU is a voluntary organization, and it is questionable whether the rest of the world will forever tolerate the current skewed voting pattern. There are twelve officers of the World Blind Union. Four of these (one-third) are European. No, Europe does not always vote as a block. It would be surprising if it did--but it manages.
The issue concerning the International Disability Foundation was more immediate and equally basic. From what I can gather, the International Disability Foundation (IDF) is the brainchild of a former U.N. employee named Hans Hoegh. The IDF is raising money throughout the world (including the United States) in the name of people with disabilities as a group. Arne Husveg, president of the European Blind Union and a fellow countryman of Mr. Hoegh, proposed that the WBU accept financial help from the International Disability Foundation and free office space in the center it plans to establish at The Hague in the Netherlands. I contended that if the WBU accepts such help from the International Disability Foundation, it will be violating its announced policy of supporting specialized services and organizations of and for the blind. Mr. Husveg, with his usual penchant for avoiding personal attacks and dealing with issues, said that my logic was shallow and my outlook one of calamity and pessimism. He went on to say that it would be all right to accept money and office space from the IDF if the WBU were assured that it would have a substantial voice in IDF's policies and decision making.
I argued that it didn't matter how much voice the WBU had if it accepted IDF office space and money. Hoegh's International Disability Foundation could and would correctly say that it was raising money for the World Blind Union, and the World Blind Union would find it increasingly difficult to raise money on its own and separately. Mr. Husveg argued that the United Nations wants all disability groups to work together and that, therefore, the WBU must either engage in such joint action or not have U.N. recognition. I told him that legislative and executive bodies consistently pressure all disability groups to merge and speak with a common voice. This means spending less money for the needs of the blind and other groups, and it makes it easier for the disabled to be lumped into an amorphous, colorless mass and ignored. These pressures to merge are not a new problem, but we gain nothing by meekly submitting to them. The United Nations and the rest of the world will recognize and deal with organizations and specialized programs for the blind if we reasonably and vigorously insist on it, but they certainly will not if we quietly lie down and die.
Ultimately the lure of the money carried the day. I asked for a roll call vote, and when the tally was taken, the North America/Caribbean votes were unanimously against the proposal. We were the only ones who voted against it, however. A few other delegates abstained, but nobody else stood to be counted. The decision was that Mr. Husveg (representing the WBU) will negotiate with Mr. Hoegh and that if he is satisfied that the WBU will have sufficient voice in IDF decisions, the WBU will locate its principal office in the disability center at The Hague with the other disability groups and that the WBU will accept IDF financial support. In my opinion this was the most critical vote taken at the meeting, and also in my opinion it has within it the seeds of the possible destruction of the World Blind Union.
There are many more things that I could say about the meetings, but I will leave them for another time. For now let it suffice that the organization seems to have stabilized its finances and got itself on an even keel. Its budget is skimpy when compared with the urgent needs that exist throughout the world but impressive when compared with the problems that have been faced and solved. There can be no question that Dr. Euclid Herie has done a competent job of fiscal management and stewardship. An effort is being made to establish a separate foundation to fund the WBU, but the project is still in the formative stages.
In view of commitments I made concerning money, I should mention at least one other matter. It involves the Louis Braille birthplace and museum at Coupvray, France. Every blind person in the world owes a debt to Louis Braille. He gave us the means of literacy, and ultimately of freedom and equal participation in society. The home where he was born has been operated for many years as a museum. It is now in such bad repair that it is in danger of total destruction. It has been closed to the public for safety reasons, and its future is in doubt.
When the World Blind Union was established in 1984, it assumed responsibility for the upkeep and operation of the Louis Braille Museum, but there has never been enough money. We of the National Federation of the Blind have made contributions from time to time, and so have a few others from here and there throughout the world. Mostly, however, people have simply debated and tried to assess blame.
At the Melbourne meeting we were told that the Louis Braille Committee of the World Blind Union and the French organizations of the blind had recently held discussions with the mayor of Coupvray and that an architect had been employed to make plans and get cost estimates. We were further told that approximately $110,000 is needed to make permanent repairs to the Louis Braille home. This would not be simply a patch job but a thorough renovation. We were told that the mayor of Coupvray has said that he will find $55,000 if somebody else will provide the other $55,000.
At the conclusion of the report, the usual debating and finger-pointing began. It seemed clear that no conclusive action would be taken and that the Louis Braille home would likely be allowed to continue to deteriorate. Feeling that we not only had an obligation to the memory of Louis Braille but also to the blind of future generations, I could not remain silent. Trusting that the blind of the United States would back me, I said that if the facts were as reported, I would go home and try to raise the $55,000 to match the pledge of the mayor of Coupvray. In fact, I said I would try to find somewhat more than $55,000 if the estimates proved low. Although there was general approval, even this proposal brought a certain amount of wrangling. Nevertheless, it was agreed (with one negative vote being cast) that I should make the effort.
I am now in the process of finalizing the matter, and I hope that the blind and our friends throughout the United States will rise to the challenge. I invite local and state affiliates of the Federation, individual blind persons, and friends of blind persons to make contributions to this cause if they wish. Donations should be sent to the National Federation of the Blind, 1800 Johnson Street, Baltimore, Maryland 21230. Checks should be made payable to the National Federation of the Blind, and an accompanying letter should indicate the purpose of the contribution. Donations may also be made by credit card by calling (410) 659-9314. Obviously such contributions should be in addition to what individuals and affiliates already intend to give.
Before talking about the agencies doing work with the blind in Australia, I should probably give a few background facts to put matters in perspective. Australia has about 17,000,000 people. Most of them live in cities along the southern and eastern coasts. Some live in cities along the northern coast, and a few live along the western coast. Only a scattering live inland. The country is divided into six states, the most populous being New South Wales, with Sydney as its capital. Victoria (with Melbourne as its capital) is the second most populous state, having something over 4,000,000.
Australia's monetary unit is the dollar. One American dollar is worth about a dollar and thirty-two cents in Australian money. They have less paper and more coins than we do. There are both one-dollar and two-dollar coins, and no paper until you get to a five-dollar bill.
Two major agencies for the blind headquarter in Melbourne. They are the Association for the Blind and the Royal Victorian Institute for the Blind (RVIB).
Mrs. Jernigan and I met with John Cook, the executive director of the Association for the Blind, and we visited the Association's library. A number of blind people told us that the Association regards itself as somewhat of a rival of RVIB and that it tends to cater to blind persons who are perhaps a little less in the mainstream than those who deal with RVIB. Be this as it may, Mr. Cook told us that his budget is about 15,000,000 U.S. dollars per year. The Association has a Braille library and a library of two-track regular speed cassette recordings. It does not provide tape players to the borrowers.
The Association has one service both worthwhile and unique which I had occasion to use. It operates a radio station (call letters 3RPH) on the regular AM band. This station operates twenty-four hours a day seven days a week and has good programming: newspapers, books, special features, and some of the broadcasts from the BBC. The reading is done by volunteers, and they are well-trained and do a good job.
Mr. Cook said that there was originally an FM station devoted to programming for the blind and that a number of AM broadcasters thought it would have more commercial value than the stations they owned. Therefore, a deal was worked out. AM station operators were permitted to bid for the FM channel used by the blind, and the successful bidder was given the FM license. In turn, the blind were given an AM frequency and certain operating funds. Yes, I know it sounds strange, but that's what Mr. Cook told me--and I am certainly glad the station was there.
Mr. Cook told me that the Association also operates a dial- up newspaper for the blind. He said that it started in September of 1993, that annual subscriptions cost about $100, and that there are about 100 blind subscribers. I used a regular touch tone phone and called the newsline. The volunteer readers seemed to be doing a good job. By pressing different numbers I could select what part of the newspaper I wanted to read and could scan forward and backward. The volunteers put the newspaper on tape, which is then handled by a computer to interact with the telephone calls--much in the same way, I believe, that New Mexico and the NFB of California are doing.
Mr. Cook further told me that the association operates nursing homes, day centers, low-vision centers, and telephone peer-group conversations and counseling. I did not see any of these programs in action, so I have only a general notion of their functioning and effectiveness.
Since the WBU officers and executive committee meetings were held at the RVIB facilities, I met quite a number of the staff, including Peter Evans, the executive director. Mr. Evans was cordial and responsive. RVIB also has a library, but unlike the one operated by the Association for the Blind, it distributes four-track slow-speed cassettes and provides cassette players. RVIB has a Braille library, but it is quite limited. New South Wales and RVIB plan to join together to create a national library for Australia, which would apparently distribute both Braille and recorded material throughout the continent. RVIB has a newspaper service for the blind, too. It is distributed on cassette and consists of regional or suburban newspapers. I gather that for the most part these are weeklies, thus making time not such a critical factor.
As head of employment services for RVIB, David Blyth holds the highest position of any blind person employed by the agency. He is in charge of two workshops, one for persons whose primary problem is blindness, and one for persons with additional problems. He told me that some eighty people work in the shops. I was told that wages for the shop workers range from $160 per week for the slowest to $250 per week for the best.
These wages should be viewed in the context of the pay received by other Australian workers. There is a governmentally created industrial commission, which establishes minimum wages for all Australian workers who are paid wages or salaries. The minimum (called an "award wage") varies with the classification of the employee. The lowest award wage is $280 per week. Thus, as in the United States, shop workers do not get the minimum wage.
However, Australia does have a universal "pension" for the blind, which is not subject to a means test. The pension has been in existence since early in the century but was only freed from the means test in 1975. No other disability group has this benefit. I was told that the pension for the blind is $160 per week for a single person and $120 per week for a married person. If two blind people marry, each receives $120 per week. Presumably if they live together unmarried, each will continue to receive $160 per week, which leads to the conclusion that living in sin is rewarded and marriage discouraged. This is no different, however, from some of the Social Security programs in the U.S.
Let me be sure I am making my meaning clear about the nature of the pension. Whether rich or poor, young or old, employed or unemployed, retired or otherwise, each and every blind person in Australia is entitled to a pension regardless of any other income or circumstance. If shop workers complain (as many doubtless do) that they are not being paid the minimum wage, the government can (and doubtless does) reply that when the wages of a shop worker are added to his or her pension, more than the minimum award wage is being received.
As part of RVIB's employment services, David Blyth does more than supervise the workshops. He has programs for both industrial and professional training and placement. The training programs are coordinated with the activities of the workshops. Incidentally, a brochure published by RVIB says that the shops do packaging, mop manufacturing, and production of wood products.
RVIB runs a school for the blind. Formerly it was for residential students, whose primary problem was blindness. Now, students are mainly housed in foster homes and mostly have multiple handicaps.
The RVIB gets its money from the sale of workshop products, from private fund-raising, and from the government--with the largest part coming from the government. Apparently these government funds are not direct appropriations but grants and contracts. The total budget is about 13,000,000 Australian dollars per year. As I review my summary of the activities of the RVIB, I see that I have failed to mention that the organization sells and distributes aids and appliances for the blind.
As to contacts with individual blind persons, I should begin by saying that the National Federation of Blind Citizens of Australia is the largest and most active consumer group in the country. When I worked in California in the 1950's, Hugh Jeffreys visited Dr. tenBroek in Berkeley to talk about establishing an organization of the blind. I worked with Hugh on organizational details such as what kind of constitution and by-laws should be written and the qualifications of members. I was pleased to see Hugh again when I was in Melbourne. I met him and a number of other Federation members and leaders one night at a barbecue held at RVIB for the WBU visitors.
Mrs. Jernigan and I had dinner one evening at the home of Martin and Helen Stewart. Martin works in the shop and is head of the union. The shop workers' union is part of the trade union system in the country. I urged Martin to become more active in the National Federation of Blind Citizens of Australia, pointing out to him that the shop workers union can never be as strong as the total body of the Federation and that the trade union movement will never make the problems of the blind a prime focus. The exchange was spirited and friendly, but I am not sure how far I got. Incidentally, Helen (who is sighted) drives a street car, which is called a tram. The Stewarts have an adorable, active baby and seem to be a happy, productive working couple. They were excellent hosts, and we became friends.
Also under the heading of contacts with blind persons, I should mention that Mrs. Jernigan and I had dinner and spent an evening at the home of David Blyth, where we not only enjoyed the company of David but also that of his wife Jessie and their son, David, Jr. The Blyths went out of their way to make our stay in Australia comfortable and pleasant. We had become acquainted with David, Jr., earlier when he came to the United States to attend a Federation convention with his father. At the Blyths' home we sat in the back yard in summer weather, admired the lemon tree, and picked plums.
Let me move now to miscellaneous activities, which might be called extracurricular. As I have already said, it was summer, a sharp contrast with the sub-zero temperatures we had left in Baltimore. One afternoon it got to 105 degrees.
We took a day before the formal meetings began and drove out into the country, with Jessie Blyth and David, Jr., serving as our guides and companions. First we went to a wildlife preserve, and I was able to touch the animals. As we went in, we were given bread to feed the kangaroos, and they were eager to have it. The kangaroo with whom I became most intimately acquainted was a little more than waist high. It was a very courteous kangaroo. While it was eating bread from my hand, one of its teeth touched me. But the kangaroo didn't bite. It simply shifted a little and kept coming after the bread. When it thought the pieces of bread were too large, it took them in its front feet (which look like little hands), broke them into smaller bits, and then ate them.
Just before we met the kangaroo, we saw a man hauling a wombat in a wheelbarrow. Mrs. Jernigan asked if the animal was sick, but the man said that he was simply transporting it to a new location, which led me to observe that the wombat has it made. Humans work to feed it, and they haul it around when it needs to go somewhere. All it has to do is relax and take it easy. I petted the wombat, and it felt somewhat like the pigs we used to have on the farm. I didn't think the wombat would bite me, but I kept my hand just at the back of its head so that I could turn with it when it moved. Now and again it raised up, looked around, stretched luxuriously, and settled down again. It seemed to have a pretty good life.
I was also able to examine and pet a koala bear. It was being held by one of the game preserve employees, and it seemed to enjoy being petted. Just as a precaution, I kept my hand at the back of its head, too.
We were told some interesting things about the animals. The koala is very picky about its eating. The game preserve employees go out and cut the tenderest branches from the eucalyptus trees and bring them to the koala. They say that it rejects about ninety-five percent of what they bring and eats only part of the rest. It sleeps nine or ten hours a day, eats for about four hours, and rests most of the remainder of the time. It, too, has a pretty good life. As one of the employees said, "I have to work hard to feed that bear."
We learned that the koala and the wombat originally came from the same stock. The koala took to the trees, and the wombat moved into burroughs under ground. There were also ostriches and emus. I certainly didn't pet (or try to pet) either of them. The emu has a long sharp beak and kept sneaking up behind me and trying to get the kangaroo's bread. I also had the chance to hear magpies, and I now know what it means when somebody is accused of chattering like a magpie.
When we left the game preserve, we went to the Seppelt Winery at Great Western, almost a hundred miles northwest of Melbourne. They took us twenty-five feet underground to a network of tunnels cut into granite. These tunnels, which are said to be the most extensive network of underground wine cellars in the southern hemisphere, were dug (probably with convict labor) during the middle of the last century. They contain millions of bottles of wine. It was quite an experience. The main tunnels are fairly wide, with branching corridors of ten or twelve feet in width running for miles in all directions. We walked down the center, and on both sides were endless stacks of bottles in layers on top of each other four to six feet high. The guide said we should not touch anything, but I interpreted his injunction liberally. Mrs. Jernigan and I drifted toward the back of the group and let everybody get around a corner. Then I made an examination, which I felt sure the management would have wanted me to do if the question had arisen.
The temperature in the tunnels is constant year-round, about fifty-five degrees. At the end of one of the side tunnels there is a good sized room, which would hold thirty people or so. It is the place where the winery formerly stored its most valuable brandy, but it has now been converted into an ultra swank private restaurant, where occasional VIP dinners are served. It is called the Brandy-Nook. Mrs. Jernigan, who thinks about such things, wondered whether the women in their fancy dresses would get cold.
When we came upstairs to the winery showroom, we were offered tastings and examined various sale items. Among other things, we found some exquisite hand-blown wine glasses. I had never seen anything like them. They were called port pipes because of the little stem on the side through which the wine is to be sipped. Needless to say, we bought some of them and now proudly display them.
While we were in Melbourne, we found time to visit grocery and department stores to compare prices and merchandise. On one such occasion in a large department store, the salesperson was especially polite and helpful. She walked all the way across the store with us to more than one location to try to help us find a given item. Mrs. Jernigan said that we would not find a salesperson in the U.S. who would be so accommodating, but I suggested to her that human nature being what it is, you probably would. The salesperson would not likely help a native but might very well bend over backward to accommodate a foreigner. Our Australian hosts confirmed this by saying that they rarely get such service.
We went to a music store and found what we were told were typical Australian songs. Many of you doubtless heard one of them on a recent presidential release, "Fry Me Kangaroo Brown." There may be other selections that are more typical (and we bought some of them), but I doubt that any of them are more fun than "Fry Me Kangaroo Brown."
Apropos of nothing I learned a new expression while I was in Australia. I have often heard people advised to put their "best foot forward," but I have never heard the expression, "He has been on his back foot lately."
Prince Charles was visiting Melbourne while we were there, and he was taking quite a beating from some of the newspapers. One of them said, "He's been on his back foot lately." It wasn't meant to be complimentary.
Australia was an unforgettable experience. We left on February 2 and came back through Hawaii, where we attended the state convention. Enroute from Melbourne to Hawaii we crossed the international date line, which meant that we arrived in Hawaii before we left Melbourne. So with jet lag and scrambled days, we flew home and stepped back into the snow and cold.
[PHOTO/CAPTION: Arne Husveg seated at table wearing earphone for interpreting device. Arne Husveg, President of the European Region of the World Blind Union.]
TALK POOR BY DAY; LIVE RICH BY NIGHT
by Kenneth Jernigan
One of the headlines of the London Times for Sunday, August 15, 1993, reads as follows: "Talk Poor by Day; Live Rich by Night: The Corrupt Heart of the UN Bureaucracy." Developments at the meeting of the World Blind Union Executive Committee in Melbourne in late January of this year make the London Times headline and accompanying article of interest to Monitor readers. The web of events is complicated and thought-provoking.
A number of years ago (I think it may have been in London in 1989) Arne Husveg, president of the European region of the World Blind Union, talked to the WBU officers about a new way to raise money for the organization. He brought with him to the meeting one Hans Hoegh, his fellow countryman from Norway. Mr. Hoegh was billed as a UN functionary of some importance. He was to be instrumental in establishing an organization called the International Disability Foundation (IDF), which would raise money and do other good things for people with disabilities, including the blind. Mr. Hoegh assured us that his IDF would have strong support from the UN and would be backed by UN Secretary General Javier Prez de Cullar. He also implied that the World Blind Union had better get with it and get on board. Otherwise, it would have a hard time raising money and would get short shrift from the UN.
Some of us said that we were concerned about having the WBU submerge itself in the general melting pot of the generic disability movement, but we were silenced by promises of money and threats of not being recognized by the UN. We left that London meeting with visions of sugarplums dancing in our heads and with glowing assurances that the ties between the World Blind Union and the proposed IDF would constantly strengthen and result in fame and fortune.
In Melbourne this January the drumfire continued. With the North America/Caribbean delegates standing alone and voting no, Mr. Husveg carried the day and held high the banner of Hans Hoegh and his International Disability Foundation. As reported in the previous article, the WBU Executive Committee decided (with certain reservations) to move its headquarters into Mr. Hoegh's International Disability Center in The Hague and to accept money from the International Disability Foundation. Apparently Mr. Hoegh, who is now secretary general of the IDF, is still headquartering in Geneva, Switzerland, until a place is prepared for him at The Hague in the Netherlands.
So why do I bring all of this up since much of it was mentioned in the preceding article? Well, there have been subsequent developments. To begin with, I have now read the article which appeared in the London Times for August 15 of last year, the headline of which I quoted earlier. Here is part of that article:
Neelam Merani is living high off the hog. The 52- year-old United Nations official spends his days relaxing on the sun-drenched terrace of his luxury apartment in Geneva, overlooking the city's lake. At night he and his Swiss wife, Esther, do the round of elegant parties on the UN's international cocktail circuit.
The hundred thousand pound (at least 150,000 U.S. dollar) salary that supports the Meranis' comfortable lifestyle includes a special allowance to cover the high cost of living in the Swiss city. Merani no longer works, but his salary continues to be paid out of UN funds.
Two years ago Merani (an Indian-born UN career official, who joined the organization in London in 1964) was moved from his position as head of a UN campaign to raise global awareness of natural disasters. Grandly titled the International Decade for Natural Disaster Reduction (IDNDR), the project was part of the UN's refugee programme.
But a year after its launch in 1990, the IDNDR was dubbed the "disaster decade" by critics, who accused its secretariat of waste, mismanagement, and inefficiency. In one year alone the campaign spent half its 1 million pound income on salaries and staff travel.
Merani was blamed, he says unfairly, for the failure. Some in the UN unkindly nicknamed him the "master of disaster." He was moved sideways to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), which studies weather patterns. Later he was told to go home on "special leave" and wait further orders. Although he still lists his occupation in the Geneva directory as "UN functionnaire," he has not been asked to lift a finger for the UN since.
Merani's bosses at UN headquarters in Geneva decline to discuss his case. They have drawn a veil over his existence. They say he has "left" the UN and is no longer on its payroll. But Merani insists he is still being paid.
Merani is one of at least 39 UN staff--15 professionals and 24 general service employees--who are retained on full salary without having a real job. Officially known as supernumeraries, they cost the taxpayers and donors who fund the UN an estimated 2 million pounds a year.
Critics say Merani's position and that of other supernumeraries, nicknamed "desk warmers," demonstrate how millions of pounds that should be earmarked for relief supplies and peacekeeping efforts are spent instead supporting a vast and uncontrolled bureaucracy.
Dick Thornburgh, a former American attorney- general, appointed last year to root out waste in the UN, said: "There are a number of senior people who have high positions and no assignment and yet there is no capability to terminate these people's jobs."
Internal audit reports reveal an alarming pattern of abuse, mismanagement, and greed, which has become endemic in the organization. In the last two-year period alone, 540 million pounds have been squandered, one former senior UN official said.
Money which the public might assume was destined for the needy in drought-stricken or war-torn areas has instead been spent on projects that have nothing to do with aid or peacekeeping.
At a time when the organization is appealing to member countries and the public for tens of millions of pounds in voluntary donations, senior UN officials continue to enjoy generous benefits, perks, and job- for-life expectations that would never be tolerated outside.
The hub of the UN's international operations, and the root of most of its problems, is a monolithic 38- story office complex overlooking the East River in Manhattan, New York.
Here, 14,000 permanent staff are attached to the UN Secretariat and its dependencies. Their job is to service the principal UN organs--the general assembly, the security council secretariat, and the economic and social council--which shape UN policies and administer its programmes.
When it was founded in 1945 to promote a new world order after the second world war, the UN employed just 1,500 people.
Yet, 48 years later it has become a bureaucracy run wild, employing more than 51,600 people internationally with a further 9,600 consultants employed by its agencies. Total spending by the UN for the two years ending in 1991 has mushroomed to nearly 10 billion pounds.
Facilities at the UN's headquarters reflect the lavish lifestyles of many of its senior officials. They include a gourmet restaurant, an expensively furnished bar, and a lounge exclusively reserved for UN delegates. There is even a meditation room.
Alan Keyes, a UN assistant secretary until 1987, was overruled in his objections to the installation of expensive heating equipment in the underground garage. "I thought it was a waste of money to worry about keeping cars warm when the people we are meant to be looking after could not even afford cars."
Some of the worst losses, according to the UN's own audit reports, are in programmes designed to help the most disadvantaged people....
One of the worst examples of abuse followed the decision by Prez de Cullar in April 1988 to appoint Hans Hoegh, a one-time Norwegian florist, as his special representative to raise funds for the promotion of the UN Decade of Disabled Persons. Hoegh's office spent 1 million pounds in two and a half years on "running expenses." The UN's own board of auditors stated: "No substantial funds have been raised for projects under the auspices of the United Nations. The objective ... was not met."...
This is what the London Times reported last August, and I want to make perfectly clear what I am saying and what I am not saying. Although I have felt uneasy about Hans Hoegh and his operation from the beginning, I cannot prove that there is anything wrong with what he is doing or the way he is conducting himself. During the Melbourne discussions I asked Mr. Husveg whether Mr. Hoegh was being paid (or would be paid) for his work as secretary general of the International Disability Foundation-- and Mr. Husveg said no. The reason I asked the question was because I had been informed that Mr. Hoegh was trying to get a high salary (probably $100,000 a year) to do similar work for another disability organization and that he had been rebuffed by that organization. I do not know whether this is true, but I was given the information by a person whose integrity and truthfulness I respect.
I have no evidence that would contradict Mr. Husveg's statement that Mr. Hoegh is receiving no salary. I am simply uneasy about the entire relationship between the World Blind Union and the IDF, especially the danger that the interests of the blind will be lost in the giant melting pot of the overall disability stew. Moreover, I am skeptical about Mr. Hoegh's ability to raise funds and about his standing in the international community. I am also troubled by the fact that Mr. Prez de Cullar as Secretary General of the United Nations appointed Mr. Hoegh to a UN PR and fundraising position that was not successful--and then, after leaving his UN post as Secretary General, accepted the presidency of Mr. Hoegh's International Disability Foundation, Mr. Hoegh having also by that time been separated from UN service. Both Mr. Prez de Cullar and Mr. Hoegh were high-paid officials of the UN. Both are now out. Who in reality set up the IDF deal, and for what purpose? Who brought the other on board--and why? For that matter, how many other former UN employees are looking for refuge in the International Disability Foundation? You will meet one of them (Mr. John Strome) later in this article. Is either Mr. Prez de Cullar or Mr. Hoegh, or both of them, being paid? Probably not. Mr. Husveg says Mr. Hoegh is not. Nevertheless, I am still troubled.
Apparently there are others who are also troubled. Early in January of this year Mr. Hoegh sent what seems to be a form letter, with appropriate variations, to a number of governments. The one which was sent to Canada reads as follows:
On behalf of our President, Mr. Javier Pérez de Cuéllar, we ask your consideration of the Government of Canada's assistance in a most important and constructive international initiative.
Having reached a vital stage in our development progress, we request a Grant from the Government of Canada in the amount of 90,000 Dutch Guilders ($60,700 Cdn Approx) to be applied toward the salary and relocation costs of a Canadian citizen, Mr. J. A. John Strome. As you may know, Mr. Strome, after finishing his appointment with the United Nations Office in Vienna, has worked with us as a Consultant and has extensive knowledge of this initiative from its earliest conception. Mr. Strome would be available to take up this very important position of Centre Coordinator as of 1 February 1994.
Enclosed is a letter of support from the City of The Hague regarding the nomination of Mr. Strome for the position of Centre Coordinator.
Also enclosed, as background information, are materials pertinent to the development, activities, and progress of the International Disability Foundation. Your very earliest response indication would be greatly appreciated.
The International Disability Foundation
The response of the Canadian government (sent by fax) is instructive. Here it is:
January 28, 1994
Thank you for your letter of January 7, 1994, regarding the establishment of an International Disability Centre in the City of The Hague.
As you know, Canada has a long history of support and involvement in issues of concern to people with disabilities. We have participated in a number of international initiatives and continue to encourage attention to disability questions through many international forums.
Canada wants to meet contemporary economic and social challenges in a responsive yet proactive manner. One exemplary initiative is our national comprehensive review of social policies and programs. This is a major undertaking which includes income support systems, training, and employment programs. Services which impact people with disabilities are an important part of this review, and they are a special consideration for our attention.
With this in mind, I must advise that it is premature and probably pre-emptive to identify the International Disability Centre as a priority project for us. Of course, we are concerned about partnerships and international cooperation on disability questions, but we are in no position to make any commitments beyond initiatives already underway.
Now more than ever, our government must identify cost-effective ways and means of developing its international disability agenda. We realize the importance of sharing experience and expertise over the coming year, and wish you well in the work of the International Disability Centre, as well as the International Disability Foundation.
The employment status of John Strome, as raised in your note, is of concern to us. Certainly, John's contribution and dedication to persons with disabilities, in Canada and abroad, is well recognized and we do appreciate your collaboration in this regard. Your consideration in ensuring John's continued contribution to the work of the IDF will be appreciated.
Status of Disabled Persons Section
Government of Canada
This is what the Canadian government said, and apparently John Strome immediately felt the bite. He complained that his repatriation expenses (presumably the UN money earmarked to bring him home after his tour of UN duty) was no longer available since they had been used by Hoegh's IDF to bring him to Switzerland for IDF employment, for which Canada was expected to foot the bill. He spoke of what he called "late-arising internal circumstances," which probably meant Canada's unwillingness to pay the tab and Hoegh's resulting embarassment and pique. Under date of January 28, 1994, (the very date of Ms. Lawand's faxed letter to Hans Hoegh) Mr. Strome sent the following telefax:
TO: Skip Brooks
Status of Disabled Persons Secretariat
Hull Quebec, Canada
Urgent I speak with you later today (after 13:30 hours your time). I can be reached at home (+41 22 788- 6600). Due to late-arising internal circumstances, employer not reimbursing my monies for January nor considering my repatriation expenses which they used from UN to bring me here. Now stuck in Geneva--broke, hungry, and needing advice.
Hot on the heels of the Strome communication came a fax (curt and brief) from Hans Hoegh. Here it is:
February 1, 1994
To: Mrs. Nancy Lawand
From: Hans Hoegh (International Disability Centre, The Hague)
Many thanks for your fax of 28 January 1994.
As you know, John Strome's contract with the International Disability Foundation expired 31 December 1993. We prolonged it for one month waiting for your answer.
As it was made clear right from the beginning, the International Disability Foundation has no financial resources to ensure John's employment in The Hague.
What is one to make of all these charges, communications, maneuverings, and pleadings? I don't know--but I do know this: I for one hope that the World Blind Union will rethink its contemplated involvement with Hans Hoegh and his International Disability Foundation. His behavior and record speak for themselves. There are troubles enough in the world without going out and trying to find more.
[PHOTO/CAPTION: Connie Leblond standing at a microphone.]
VICTORY IN THE CONNIE LEBLOND CASE
by Barbara Pierce
Four years ago Connie Leblond, President of the National Federation of the Blind of Maine, decided that, with both her children well settled in school, it was time to look for a job. She turned to the Maine Employment Security Commission for leads, but Maine is not a state renowned for its enlightened attitudes about the abilities of its blind citizens, so she was first told that as a blind person she could not expect to hold down a job. In fact, it took her three months to pry out the name of even one employer with a job opening for which Mrs. Leblond knew without question that she was qualified.
In March of 1990 she went to the office of the Sentinel Telephone Answering Service to fill out an application. Her husband Bob drove her to the appointment and came in with her to fill out the form at her dictation. Bob Leblond uses a support cane, and Connie uses a white cane. Observing Connie's cane, the woman at the desk asked if she had a vision problem, and Connie told her directly that she was blind. When she went on to say that she wished to apply for a job, Connie was told firmly that a blind person could not do the work. It took her a few minutes to realize that she was in fact talking with the owner of the business, Theresa Milliken, and not a receptionist. She asked repeatedly for an application and was told that there were already too many applicants for the position for her form ever to be considered. Connie explained that she had previously worked as a switchboard operator, and she asked to examine the equipment being used in this business. The request was denied. Mrs. Milliken explained that Connie could not read the business Rolodex, and Connie said that she could Braille the information for herself in the office so that the cards could continue to be used even while she was working with them. By the close of the discussion it was clear that there was no way Connie Leblond was going to be allowed to compete for this job. As the couple left Bob remarked in sorrow that he hoped Mrs. Milliken never lost her sight, for if she did, her life would be as good as over.
The following day Connie reported her experience to the Employment Security Commission, which advertises that it works with Equal Employment Opportunity businesses. She was told there was nothing to be done. This was not a message that Connie Leblond was happy to hear. She had been shaken by her encounter with Mrs. Milliken, and she wondered fleetingly whether it might be true that she could not do the job. Then she gave herself a mental shake and a lecture. This was the state of Maine, where the public's attitudes about blindness have been shaped for decades by repressive agencies and institutions. She was the President of the Maine affiliate of the National Federation of the Blind, and unless she and the Federation stood to fight, nothing in Maine was ever going to change. Connie contacted President Maurer, who assured her that the NFB would stand behind her and suggested that the next day she call her lawyer.
The first step was to contact the Maine Human Rights Commission. A hearing officer was assigned to the case. She investigated the situation and then conducted a hearing to which Mrs. Milliken never bothered to come. Eventually the hearing officer recommended to the entire Human Rights Commission that it find in Connie Leblond's favor. In the fall of 1992 the Human Rights Commission conducted its own hearing, absent Mrs. Milliken, and unanimously found in favor of Mrs. Leblond, fining Sentinel Service, Inc., $5,000. Astonishing as it may seem, Mrs. Milliken simply ignored the decision and the fine.
Even when Connie Leblond's attorney threatened that the next step was court, she continued to refuse to pay the amount she owed Connie. According to the Leblonds, she had apparently decided that, if she simply ignored the entire situation, it would eventually go away. But in the summer of 1992 the case went to Maine Superior Court. Connie Leblond was given only twenty- four hours' notice of the hearing, but she and her attorney were there, which is more than could be said for Mrs. Milliken. Mrs. Leblond was a little disturbed to overhear Mr. Milliken, an attorney in the city, walk straight into the judge's chambers (where Connie was not allowed to set foot), call the judge by his first name, and announce that he could find neither his wife nor her attorney. The judge decided to postpone the hearing for a day in the hope that Mrs. Milliken and her attorney would turn up, which in fact they did.
Not surprisingly, given this interchange, Connie was inclined to wonder how impartial the judge was likely to be. When the hearing began, it was clear that the defense attorney had decided to use two strategies. The first was to suggest that all blind people were unable, by virtue of blindness, to do the job at Sentinel. But since Mrs. Milliken had made no effort to determine whether Connie Leblond could do the job, this effort did not amount to much.
He then tried to paint Connie as a person who was spoiling for a fight. Displaying a very aggressive attitude, he first accused Connie of being the President of the National Federation of the Blind of Maine and her husband of being a member of the organization. Much to the judge's amusement, Connie agreed to the truth of both these statements, pointing out that the NFB of Maine does not discriminate against sighted people. The attorney went on to ask whether it wasn't true that Mr. Leblond had been using a white cane on the day he accompanied Mrs. Leblond to Sentinel, and hadn't she tried to confuse Mrs. Milliken about how much she could see. Connie set him straight by pointing out that her husband used a support cane and by reporting her statement that she was blind at the beginning of the interview.
Finally the question arose of whether and how Connie could actually do the work required by an answering service. She talked about her Braille and typing skills, but it wasn't until she mentioned her closed-circuit television system that the judge perked up. Suddenly he could understand that Connie really did have a way of writing and reading. Her statements to the effect that she might well not use such a device in a work setting were ignored.
The hearing was over in less than a day, but it took the judge a year to render his opinion. In the summer of 1993 he announced that Connie Leblond had indeed been denied an opportunity to compete for the job at Sentinel and awarded her $20,700 in back pay and attorney's fees. Sentinel immediately appealed the decision to the Maine Supreme Court. The case was heard on November 5, 1993, and the court rendered its opinion on December 22. Here it is:
Maine Supreme Judicial Court upholding verdict by the Superior Court Judge.
SENTINEL SERVICE, INC.
Submitted on briefs November 5, 1993
Decided on December 22, 1993
Before Roberts, Glassman, Clifford, Collins, Rudman, and Dana, JJ. Collins, J.
Sentinel Service, Inc. appeals from a judgment entered in the Superior Court (Cumberland County, Perkins, J.) in favor of Connie LeBlond in an employment discrimination action brought pursuant to the Maine Human Rights Act, 5 M.R.S.A. 4551-4632 (1989), wherein the court awarded $20,700 back pay. We affirm the judgment.
Connie LeBlond, a legally blind woman, went to Sentinel, a company that provides answering services to doctors and businesses in the Portland area, to apply for the position of switchboard operator. Theresa Milliken, president of Sentinel, was the first person that LeBlond encountered. When LeBlond explained that she had come to apply for the job, Milliken asked her if she had a vision problem. LeBlond replied that she was a blind person, whereupon Milliken told her that a blind person could not do the job. LeBlond's subsequent attempts to explain her switchboard experience and her ability to use her own adaptation equipment were rebuffed by Milliken, who simply restated her opinion that a blind person could not perform as a switchboard operator for her company.
Six days after this incident, LeBlond filed a complaint with the Maine Human Rights Commission alleging that Sentinel had unlawfully discriminated against her on the basis of her blindness. After an investigation the Commission concluded that there were reasonable grounds to support the discrimination claim. Sentinel refused to participate in the informal conciliation process. See 5 M.R.S.A. 4612(3). LeBlond filed a civil action. After a non-jury trial the court found that Sentinel had unlawfully discriminated against LeBlond and ordered Sentinel to cease and desist such practices. See id. 4613(2)(B)(1). The court also awarded LeBlond civil damages of $1,000, id. 4613(2)(B)(7); attorney fees, id. 4622; and back pay in the amount of $20,700. Id. 4613(2)(B)(2). Sentinel appealed from the judgment entered on the court's order.
Under the Maine Human Rights Act it is unlawful for an employer to "discriminate against any applicant for employment because of race or color, sex, physical or mental handicap, religion, ancestry or national origin, or age." Id. 4572. One of the defenses available to employers is the "bona fide occupational qualification" (BFOQ) defense, wherein an employer is allowed to discriminate against an entire class of persons protected under the Act, on the ground that the class of applicants, by its very nature, is not able to perform the job. Id; see Percy v. Allen, 449 A.2d 337, 343 (Me. 1982). Because the BFOQ defense runs contrary to the non-discriminatory intent of the Act, however, we have held that it must be construed very narrowly, using a two-prong test whereby the employer must show: (1) that the essence of the business operation requires the discriminatory practice and (2) that there was a factual basis for the belief that all or substantially all persons in the excluded category would be unable to perform the job in a safe or efficient manner. Rozanski v. A-P-A Transp., Inc., 512 A.2d 335.341 (Me. 1986); see also Maine Human Rights Comm'n v. Canadian Pac., 458 A2d 1225, 1232 (Me. 1983). The court found that Sentinel failed to meet the requirements for a BFOQ defense. Because the employer has the burden of proof on a BFOQ defense, we will uphold the findings of the trial court unless the evidence compels a contrary finding. Plourde v. Scott Paper Co., 552 A.2d 1257, 1260 (Me. 1989). Sentinel did not prove it had an established and justified policy for excluding blind applicants, nor did it show that the "essence" of its business operations required the exclusion of such applicants. The BFOQ defense does not, in this instance, excuse discriminatory conduct in the hiring process.
Sentinel also contends that the court's award of back pay was excessive in that it was not reduced by an amount LeBlond could have earned through "reasonable diligence." Maine Human Rights Comm'n v. City of Auburn, 425 A.2d 990,998 (Me. 1981). We reject this contention for two reasons. First, Sentinel did not carry its burden to prove that the employee could have mitigated her damages by finding other employment. Id. at 999. Second, we will uphold an award of back pay absent clear error by the grant of the award or an abuse of discretion in the amount awarded. Here the record reflects LeBlond's compliance with section 4622, which is a prerequisite to the court's authorization for the grant of the award. We have previously stated that it is not an abuse of discretion when the court awards back pay in amounts "designed to make the employee whole and not to penalize the employer unless that penalty is authorized by statute." Rozanski v. A-P-A Transp., Inc., 512 A.2d at 342. This award, which properly reflected the amount LeBlond would have earned if she had been hired by Sentinel minus the small sum she earned in another job, was designed to make LeBlond whole and did not inappropriately penalize Sentinel. The entry is:
Attorney for Plaintiff: Alan J. Levenson, Esq., Portland, Maine
Attorney for Defendant: Seth Berner, Esq., Portland, Maine
There you have the words of the Maine Supreme Court decision. At the time this article is being written (late February) the Leblonds have yet to see a penny of the cash settlement or the reimbursement for attorney's fees owed to the National Federation of the Blind. Recently, when Connie called her lawyer to inquire what was happening, she was told that Mr. Milliken was now ill and Mrs. Milliken had decided to sell her business and retire. Because Sentinel Services, Inc., owns the couple's home, the Leblonds have instructed their attorney to place a lien on the house so that, when it is sold, the Leblonds and the Federation will be certain of getting their court- determined settlement. Such cases are seldom neat and clear-cut. This one will dribble to a close months or years from now. One could wish that the defendant had come away from this experience with a clear understanding that blindness is not a definitive indication of incapacity and that the judges had understood the efficiency and effectiveness of Braille as an alternative technique. These things did not happen, but a blind woman has stood up for her rights and won, and the organized blind have stood together to support her. We can take pride in our accomplishment. The first step is always to win justice; afterward we can take the time to educate people about what the victory means. There is still plenty of opportunity for education in the state of Maine.
[PHOTO/CAPTION: Peggy Elliott sits at a table microphone, reading Braille notes.]
ANOTHER DISCOURAGING YEAR-END REPORT FOR NAC
by Peggy Elliott
Peggy Elliott is the Second Vice President of the National Federation of the Blind. She is also an attentive and interested observer of the goings-on at the National Accreditation Council for Agencies Serving the Blind and Visually Handicapped (NAC). Here is her most recent report.
And what do we hear from NAC these days? Well, NAC began in 1993 with eighty accredited agencies in the U.S. Eight agencies left; and two joined, leaving NAC with seventy-four at the end of the year. One wonders what on earth those two joiners were thinking of, wasting their funds by associating with a dying accrediter.
NAC's lack of finances continues to affect its operations. Some of the time telephone callers now reach NAC's answering machine. Apparently there is insufficient cash to staff the office full-time.
Then there is the extension game. NAC clearly has insufficient funds and staff to handle routine accreditations. In addition, more and more agencies are hesitating to begin the lengthy and expensive re-accreditation process with NAC. Why pay for something that may not exist in a year or two? Of course, for those who are interested, NAC offers accreditation on the cheap-- an on-site team from your own area to keep travel and lodging costs down. In other words, your local pals can accredit you. And even when the team comes from further afield, you can count on having it drawn from the ever-shrinking club of NAC supporters. For example, AER President Michael Bina told the 1993 Convention of the National Federation of the Blind that the Indiana School was accredited with an on-site team consisting of a fellow NAC- accredited school superintendent from Arkansas and NAC's paid staff director from New York. Well, you get what you pay for, and it is convenient to be able to pay for such a small accreditation team which is obviously predisposed to accredit.
But back to the extension game. In 1993 fourteen agencies whose accreditation was scheduled to expire in that year saw their expiration dates extended into 1994. Some of these may have been requested by the agency; some may have been the agency's polite way of putting off the decision to reaccredit; some undoubtedly arose when the agency declined re-accreditation and NAC awarded an extension anyway, while it tried to find a way of re-enlisting the agency. Of the fourteen whose terms were extended, one has now dropped accreditation anyway, and others are sure to follow.
Twenty-six of the seventy-four accredited agencies, or thirty-five percent of all accreditees, have accreditation terms now expiring in 1994. How many of these will still be associated with NAC in another year? And, while we're on the subject, will there be a NAC with which to associate?
Here are the names of the eight agencies that dropped accreditation in 1993:
Lions Blind Center, Oakland
Georgia Industries for the Blind, Bainbridge
School for the Blind
Division of Vocational Rehabilitation for the Blind
Northeastern Association of the Blind at Albany
Jewish Guild for the Blind, New York
School for the Blind, Austin
Community Services for the Blind and Partially Sighted, Seattle
The two misguided agencies that joined NAC for the first time in 1993 are:
Center for the Visually Impaired, Daytona Beach, Florida
Greater Pittsburgh Guild for the Blind
Here is a list, using common names, of the agencies whose accreditation is scheduled to expire in 1994. The list is arranged by state, and those thirteen agencies on extensions from 1993 are marked with an asterisk:
*Foundation for Blind Children, 12/94
Lions World Services, 12/94
*Santa Monica Center for the Blind, 12/94
*Independence for the Blind, 6/94
VR Agency, 12/94
Ft. Lauderdale Lighthouse, 12/94
*Savannah Association for the Blind, 12/94
Blind and Low Vision Services of North Georgia, 12/94
Philip Rock School, 6/94
*VR Agency, 12/94
Grand Rapids Center, 6/94
*Duluth Lighthouse, 6/94
*St Joseph's School, 6/94
School for the Blind, 12/94
*Guiding Eyes for the Blind, 6/94
*Toledo Sight Center, 6/94
Columbus Vision Center, 6/94
*Oklahoma League for the Blind, 6/94
*VR Agency, 6/94
York County Association, 6/94
Feinbloom Center, 12/94
School for the Blind, 12/94
School for the Blind, 12/94
*School for the Blind, 6/94
[PHOTO/CAPTION: David Andrews seated at a table microphone, using a computer keyboard.]
[PHOTO/CAPTION: Man with headphones sits in a sound booth reading the business section of a newspaper. CAPTION: Glenn McConnell is one of the many volunteers who spend time reading newspapers to the blind at NEWSLINE for the Blind, headquartered in Sacramento and operated by the National Federation of the Blind of California.]
READING THE NEWS: PAST, PRESENT, AND FUTURE
by David Andrews
From the Editor: One of the small frustrations most blind people live with is their inability to glance through a newspaper at will, reading a story here and skimming through a feature there. For most of us this limitation is nothing more than an annoyance, but we would be pleased to have an easy way to gather the information our sighted colleagues in the office or civic organization take for granted in their conversation.
The technology revolution is beginning to alter this situation for many blind Americans, and it is clear that we are only at the start of the changes. They are exciting and a little unnerving. David Andrews, Director of the International Braille and Technology Center for the Blind, knows more than most of us about the technology that will soon bring us all the daily news in accessible formats. In the following article he summarizes the past and present in news delivery to the blind and looks into the future of this exciting new technology. This is what he has to say:
In a January 16, 1787, letter to Colonel Edward Carrington, Thomas Jefferson said, "The basis of our government being the opinion of the people, the very first object should be to keep that right; and were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers, or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter." Most of us have heard part, if not all, of this quotation before. It shows how important the existence of newspapers was to Thomas Jefferson. If we who are blind are to take our place in society as equals, as we in the National Federation of the Blind know that we can and will, we must have access to the information and ideas presented in newspapers. Without access to current in-depth information, information which is necessary to formulate opinions and participate in community life, we are likely to be observers of our society rather than participants. This article explores the ways in which blind people have read newspapers in the past and present and speculates about how we are likely to do so in the future.
Traditionally, if blind and visually impaired people wanted to read a newspaper, they had to have a sighted person read it to them. This could be a friend, family member, employee, or other paid or volunteer reader. In one sense this system is ideal because it gives the blind person maximum control over the procedure. However, it has two major drawbacks. First, a human reader may not always be available or willing. Second, most blind people are unable to find as many volunteer or paid readers as it would take to read a daily newspaper regularly. This is why technology-based solutions are so attractive and have received such attention lately.
In the past twenty-five years a variety of technology-based methods for reading the printed word have been developed. While none of these has been a complete solution, they have all increased the options available to blind and visually impaired persons.
There have been a number of attempts to produce personal reading machines for blind people, such as the Optacon and the Stereotoner. Developed in the early 1970's, the Optacon from TeleSensory, Inc. of Mountain View, California, does allow some people to read the newspaper and other printed material. It has a small camera--about the size of a package of chewing gum--which is manually passed across a printed page a line at a time. The camera picks up the images of the letters and transfers them to the main unit about the size of a desktop cassette recorder. A set of small pins vibrates, reproducing the actual shapes of the images on the print page. The pins are felt with the flat surface of the index finger. The Optacon is still produced and is used by a few persons but certainly is not a practical or widely used solution. The device is expensive ($3,695), somewhat fragile, and quite difficult to use. It requires a lot of training and practice, and few people have been able to achieve a reasonable reading speed with it. The average Optacon user probably reads twenty to thirty words a minute,and a very few say they can read at eighty to a hundred words per minute. While the latter speed is a noteworthy achievement for an Optacon user, it isn't sufficient for long-term, regular reading. TeleSensory attempted to add speech output to the Optacon in the early 1980's, but these efforts were unsuccessful.
Another attempt at a reading machine was the Stereotoner. This was a device that transformed the images of print letters into musical tones. While an interesting idea, the machine proved to be very difficult for most people to use. One user told me that "You could kind of read with it."
Late in the 1970's the first so-called reading machine came on the market. It was developed by Dr. Raymond Kurzweil of Kurzweil Computer Products, which is now a division of Xerox Imaging Systems. Kurzweil's machine, which cost over $50,000 at the time, was large and didn't work very well. Incidentally, it was developed in part with the financial assistance and advice of the National Federation of the blind. To this day Kurzweil credits the NFB with providing the consumer input necessary to design the machine's keypad, a modified version of which is still in use.
Twenty-five years later, reading machines are much smaller and more reliable. They read a wide variety of printed material and cost from $5,000 to $6,000. PC-based reading systems are even less expensive. (See The Braille Monitor, August, 1993, for a complete review of stand-alone reading machines.) While these machines are used by a number of blind people and are also available in some colleges and universities, as well as in public libraries and libraries for the blind, they are still not satisfactory for reading newspapers for two reasons. First, the poor print quality of most newspapers presents difficulties. Second, with the prevalence of continued articles, it can be difficult, if not impossible, to follow a story.
There have been a few attempts around the country to record newspapers or portions thereof onto cassette tapes and to send them to blind people. I was able to use such a service in high school in northern New Jersey. I also understand that such services are quite common in Great Britain and Australia. However, this method is labor-intensive and not very timely for daily papers.
I have also heard of at least two Braille daily newspapers, one in Hong Kong and one in France. Both are produced from files obtained directly from the publisher. These Braille editions provide only some of the news stories and none of the advertising, classifieds, or other material carried by the print versions. While this is an interesting possibility, it is unrealistic to expect a mass-produced Braille daily newspaper in the foreseeable future. Logistical difficulties and expense make it impossible. As Braille embossing technology and refreshable Braille displays become more available and drop in price, we will see more individuals using them in conjunction with on-line services to produce personal Braille copies of newspapers. It would, for example, be quite feasible to download news articles from CompuServe or another on-line service, transfer them into a laptop computer with refreshable Braille display, and read them in Braille while commuting to work.
Because of the difficulty with recording, Brailling, and personal or machine reading, different methods of reading newspapers to blind and visually impaired people have been developed and pursued. The first and still most common uses a closed-circuit radio frequency or sub-carrier signal of an existing FM radio station to broadcast to blind listeners. This service is most often called a radio reading service. Each FM station has a sub-carrier signal--a portion of its signal that isn't normally used. Blind people are loaned special pre-tuned receivers which pick up only that station's sub-carrier signal or Subsidiary Communications Authorization (SCA). This ensures that the general public won't hear the broadcast, which guarantees the copyright protection of the newspapers being read. Community- minded volunteers usually do most of the reading on these sub- carrier services. In addition to SCA's, some reading services use open channel broadcasting, cable, or television Separate Audio Programming (SAP) frequencies to distribute their programming.
The first Radio Reading Service went on the air in Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota, on January 1, 1969. Very shortly thereafter, the second one, which was established and run by the Iowa Commission for the Blind, began broadcasting using an open channel. According to the 1993 directory of the National Association of Radio Reading Services, there are now 124 such services around the country.
The most recent method for conveying newspapers to blind people involves the use of a touch tone telephone. The blind person uses the telephone to call a service by which he or she can listen to a daily newspaper. The tones on the touch tone phone are used to choose the newspaper (if there is more than one available), pick the section of the paper to be read, listen to or skip the current story, speed up or slow down the reading, etc. By using the push buttons on the telephone, the listener has complete control over what is read and when. This type of service has variously been called a "Newspaper for the Blind," "Talking Newspaper," "Dial-Up" or "Dial-In" newspaper, or "NEWSLINE for the Blind" or "NEWSLINE." NEWSLINE for the Blind is a registered trademark of the National Federation of the Blind.
The NEWSLINE concept was pioneered by James Doherty of Flint, Michigan, with his Newspapers for the Blind or Talking Newspaper early in 1987. There are now six NEWSLINE services in the United States and two overseas. They serve the following areas: Flint/Detroit, Michigan; Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota; New Mexico; Washington, D.C.; California; and northern New Jersey. Overseas they are located in Switzerland and Melbourne, Australia. In addition, a service is expected in the relatively near future in Lawrence, Kansas. The New Mexico and California operations are the only services to offer statewide toll-free service. They are also the two services that have had close and continuous NFB involvement from the beginning. The New Mexico service, which I helped establish and managed during its formative years, is run by the New Mexico Commission for the Blind, directed by NFB Board of Directors member Fred Schroeder. The California service, which is the largest in the country, is a program of the NFB of California and directed by NFB Board member Sharon Gold.
As mentioned above, there are currently six NEWSLINE services on-line in the United States, with a seventh likely some time in early or mid-1994. The first one was Newspapers for the Blind in Flint, Michigan. It went on-line in early 1987 and currently has about 1000 users. The system reads one paper each in Detroit, Flint, and Kalamazoo and offers local access in a number of other Michigan towns. In addition, it records six magazines, including Time, People, Sports Illustrated, McCalls, Prevention, and Accent. The service, which must raise all its own money, has struggled financially; and monetary restrictions have placed some limitations on the services offered.
The next service to go on-line was Dial-In News and Information in Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota. It went on-line in March of 1990. This is the only NEWSLINE service to charge a monthly subscription fee, $6.00 per month. The service currently has 200 users. Dick Davis, Director of Minnesota State Services for the Blind, says that this low number is due in large part to the fact that his agency has not tried to market the service. According to Davis, the state agency is now in the process of adding part-time staff assistance and mounting a marketing campaign. By contrast, the state agency also runs a traditional radio reading service, the first in the U.S. Davis says that they have over 15,000 listeners statewide with approximately half in the Twin Cities area.
In June of 1990 NEWSLINE for the Blind was put on-line by the New Mexico Commission for the Blind. The service is located in Albuquerque and currently has approximately 1000 users. It offers toll-free service to other parts of New Mexico, and approximately one third of its users are from outside Albuquerque.
Other services include those run by the Washington Ear, a radio reading service in the Washington, D.C. area; NEWSLINE for the Blind, run by the National Federation of the Blind of California; and EIES of New Jersey, a radio reading service located in South Orange, a town outside of Newark, in northern New Jersey. The Washington NEWSLINE has approximately 800 users. By contrast, its parent radio reading service has over 2,000 listeners. The California NEWSLINE has approximately 2,000 users as of early 1994. It offers toll-free service at night and on weekends, and most users access the service in this way. Finally EIES of New Jersey, an SCA radio reading service, has just started a NEWSLINE system called TeleReader. The service is only a few weeks old at the time of this writing and not fully operational, so user numbers are still small.
The University of Kansas Audio-Reader Network, a state-run, statewide radio reading service network, has received a grant from Lions International to establish a NEWSLINE in Kansas. The grant pays for fifty percent of the costs, and Audio-Reader had to raise the other fifty percent, which it has done. As of late January, 1994, it is raising additional funds to pay for toll- free telephone lines. It expects to go on-line some time in 1994. A number of newspapers themselves have embarked on audio projects. This kind of service from a newspaper is generally called Audiotext. These services have for the most part offered stock quotes and business information, sports and weather, soap opera summaries, and perhaps a little news. Commercials may also be embedded in the messages. Stock quotes seem to be the most popular offering on Audiotext services.
While there may be some useful information on Audiotext services for blind people, they have not proved to be a substitute for NEWSLINE or other programs specifically designed for blind people. Though very useful for some purposes, Audiotext has proved glitzy and shallow, not in-depth. While it would be nice to get our information directly from the newspaper itself, this does not seem likely in the foreseeable future.
Both radio reading services and NEWSLINE services have their advantages and disadvantages. Radio reading services offer a method for conveying relatively large amounts of information to a large audience. By using volunteers, they save some money and are easy to use. The listener has only to turn on the receiver. They offer companionship to people, particularly the elderly, who generally have lots of time and stable schedules.
On the negative side, costs per listener are relatively high. Staff, studios, and special pre-tuned closed-circuit radio receivers must all be paid for. In some instances air time must also be purchased. In particular, receiver costs are a real problem for many services. These units are currently selling in the $100 range, and no change is likely because of the low numbers involved. According to recent information obtained from the Illinois State Library, the current per-listener cost in that state is $41 per year. These figures are typical of those in other parts of the country.
Another major disadvantage is that radio reading services operate on a fixed schedule, and the individual listener has no control over what is read or when. If reading service X reads the Chicago Tribune at 8:00 a.m. and you can't listen at that time, there is little you can do. While it is possible to set up a tape recorder on a timer, realistically few listeners do so. Listeners are also unable to control the pace or speed of the reading, cannot archive or store materials easily, and cannot skim or control the reading in any other way. Further, SCA signal and audio quality are often poor, and reception problems plague many listeners, particularly those living in outlying areas. SCA reception can also be a problem for people living in large cities because of interference from buildings and other obstacles.
The main advantage of a NEWSLINE service is that it gives the user complete control over what he or she reads and when. Anything on the system can be read whenever the listener chooses. It is also easy for a user to scan a newspaper, skipping from story to story and from section to section, reading what catches his or her interest, in the same way a sighted person reads the paper. This is impossible with radio reading services. The NEWSLINE service director also knows exactly what is being read and what is not. This information is useful in fine-tuning the service and is tangible information which can be used to demonstrate the value of the program. Conversely, if people aren't using the service, that will be known too. In general the per listener cost for NEWSLINE services seems to be lower than that for closed-circuit, radio reading services. Further, the initial investment isn't as great because studios can be smaller or nonexistent. Moreover, receivers do not have to be purchased. It is also possible to run a top-quality NEWSLINE service with a smaller staff than a comparable radio reading service would require.
On the negative side, NEWSLINE services tie listeners to their telephones, although a speaker phone reduces the inconvenience of having to hold the handset. It will not, however, reduce the need for using the instrument and telephone line for reading. It is difficult to move around or do other things while reading. It is also necessary to have a touch tone telephone. Like radio reading services, NEWSLINEs also use volunteer readers and are fairly labor-intensive. Finally, some seniors may not wish to use a NEWSLINE-type service because of the active initiation and participation involved.
It is difficult to predict what the future holds, although some speculation is in order. Newspapers are increasingly coming to regard themselves, not as disseminaters of information printed on paper, but as organizations that collect and package news in a variety of formats, including electronic publishing. Currently dozens of newspapers are available through on-line services like CompuServe, Dialog, and the Dow Jones News/Retrieval Service. CompuServe, for one, has the texts of over fifty-five newspapers available on-line. In general, though, these publications are expensive to access and do not allow for on-line browsing. They are primarily intended for searching and are laid out as databases. They are mostly used by corporations, professional researchers, and well-heeled news junkies.
As newspapers become more committed to electronic publishing, it is difficult to predict or measure the impact this trend will have on blind people. A number of newspapers are increasingly offering their information through on-line services. However, the tendency is to use graphically based services such as Prodigy or America On-Line--services that are not accessible to blind persons.
The National Federation of the Blind is currently negotiating with two newspapers, one local and one national, to offer some kind of dial-up, computer-accessible newspaper. The dial-up version would employ speech synthesis, not human readers as previous NEWSLINE services have done. If this project goes forward, we will conduct a pilot project to demonstrate the feasibility of providing a dial-up newspaper using speech synthesis as well as a computer-accessible paper, one that is downloadable to and readable on a blind person's computer. The project will allow us to develop all necessary software for processing and presenting a data feed from a newspaper to blind people in a usable format. It will also gather information on whether people prefer listening to synthesized speech or human readers over the telephone on a regular basis. Such a system would offer large savings of time and human effort in presenting a complete newspaper. With such a system everything could be done quickly and efficiently. We estimate that a complete newspaper could be on-line within two hours of receiving the raw data feed from the newspaper.
There are a number of projects in Sweden, England, Germany, and the Netherlands designed to give blind people access to newspapers by computer. The oldest of these is in Sweden, where the text of a newspaper is automatically transmitted to the end- user's computer in the middle of the night through an FM sub- carrier signal. The user can read the paper in the morning, using the special software provided by the service. At this point such services are still relatively small and expensive but warrant watching.
In ten to twenty-five years I believe most people will get their newspapers, books, and periodicals electronically. This could be by computer from an on-line service, such as CompuServe, from a network like Internet, or from some derivative of the so- called information superhighway. It could also be from a service provided by your telephone company, cable company, or newspaper. We are seeing computers, CD-ROM, television, radio, electronic games, and other forms of entertainment and video come closer and closer to each other. It is likely that they will all meet in some sort of information/entertainment appliance. As long as the National Federation of the Blind is diligent in ensuring that blind people have access to new hardware and software as they are developed, we have much to gain from the electronic age. Further, the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act, the growing public awareness of the needs of disabled people, and the increased availability of information in digital format should ensure our access to information in the future--if, as I say, we are diligent.
Another possible scenario for information access involves the use of a small, portable information reader. This could be a device, about the size of a book, which displays information on a small screen. The information could be a book, which is read from some sort of memory chip, or it could be current information such as a newspaper which is available through some sort of broadcasting mechanism or by plugging the device into a phone line, cable system, or other network. The danger with this kind of device is that it will be a closed system, one that doesn't give us a means of inserting access hardware or software such as a speech synthesizer or Braille display.
It is likely that the way in which blind people access information will change in the near and long-term future. More and more people will get reading machines and PC-based scanning systems, and these products will continue to improve, although I am not sure that they will ever be used extensively for reading newspapers. There will still be a role for human readers because of the degree of control this method allows. The National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped is currently doing research on the talking book machine of the future. This device will almost certainly employ some sort of digital medium, such as a CD-ROM disk. Whether or not it will also be used to access commercially available data, only time will tell. Further, more and more blind and visually impaired people are using computers regularly and will explore computer-based methods for obtaining news. Recording for the Blind reports that approximately two thirds of its patrons have and use computers. Further, the impact of the much ballyhooed information superhighway is unknown at this time, but there will be an impact. It is likely that the quantity of digital access as well as its availability will increase. This can only promise much for blind people. Nevertheless, we in the National Federation of the Blind must remain diligent to ensure that blind people have full access to future information retrieval technologies, whether they be hardware- or software-based.
Much effort has gone into developing the current radio reading service systems. On paper at least, such services are a good idea, but the reality is somewhat less positive. While these services will deny it, most past studies have indicated that they have few regular listeners. Most of the success stories are anecdotal in nature. While it is difficult to contemplate the shutdown of existing services, it is increasingly difficult to defend programs that are disproportionately expensive, reach few people, and offer little impact and user control. Technology is changing, and once users have seen the power of user control (the ability to read what you want when you wish) there will be no going back. On the other hand, it is unlikely that the current NEWSLINE services will be a permanent solution for blind people either. Presumably, as newspapers, books, magazines, and other information become available and widely distributed in digital form, the need for dial-up services intended specifically for blind people will be obviated.
I believe that in the interim a hybrid NEWSLINE service may be developed. It could use a combination of human readers and synthesized speech to present an entire newspaper.
At this time there may be no ideal way to deliver newspapers in their entirety to blind people. Times, technology, and expectations are changing. Technology will play an increasing role in the years to come. With the development of the information superhighway and the increased availability of newspapers, books, periodicals, and other information, it will become easier for us as blind people to stay informed about the world around us. We must be willing and able to experiment with and use the new technologies and services as they become available. We live in truly exciting times!
[PHOTO/CAPTION: Sharon Gold]
SOME STRAIGHT TALK ABOUT BLINDNESS: REMARKS DELIVERED TO A GROUP OF CALIFORNIA NURSES
by Sharon Gold
From the Editor: Recently Sharon Gold, President of the National Federation of the Blind of California and a member of the NFB Board of Directors, was asked to speak at three continuing-education classes for Southern California nurses wishing to renew their state nursing licenses. She was asked to address two topics: growing up as a blind child and blindness and the responsibilities of the medical profession. This is what she had to say:
Love is a four-letter word with a big meaning. If each of us in this room shared our thoughts right now about love, we would probably all say something about the great need for more love in the world. Indeed we would do well to nurture the growth of love among us. However, while we all need to increase our sensitivity or love for one another, it is important to recognize that we can be cruel to one another even in our loving. Yes, to speak directly to the point of our discussion today, love can be a form of child abuse, giving rise to the need to defend the child.
My parents were devastated when they learned that their first-born child was blind. Neither my mother nor my father knew a blind person, But what was even more devastating than the blindness was the way the doctors handled the situation. They were kind men who didn't wish to upset my parents by telling them their baby couldn't see. You may be thinking that perhaps the doctors did not know that I was blind; and, of course, you may be right. However, my eyes were cloudy because I had congenital cataracts. My mother noticed the cloudiness immediately and inquired about it. The doctors said that they would put drops in my eyes, and the cloudiness would go away. In those days mother and child stayed in the hospital for several days, and each day the doctors put drops in my eyes and tried to avoid discussing my ophthalmological condition with my mother.
As I have already said, these doctors were kind and loving men. They meant only good for my parents, and they certainly meant no harm to this new-born baby. But however shocking and cruel it may have seemed to the doctors, it would have been more loving and kind to have openly discussed the actual condition of my eyes and my blindness with my parents.
You are all probably observing my gray hair and are thinking that this happened a long time ago and that surely it would not happen today. You are right about the long-time-ago part. This event took place fifty years ago, and I wish it were different today. Sometimes it is. However, there is still real reluctance to discuss blindness when it strikes a family. The tendency is still to bypass the subject or to minimize the situation.
My mother concluded that it would do little good to cry over the fact that I was blind. She decided the sooner she and Daddy began to deal with the situation, the better it would be for all of us. Therefore, my parents made a conscious decision to raise me as they would have any other child. Children need to be encouraged, have their behavior molded, and be disciplined. I was no different.
But disciplining a blind child can often be a problem if there are visitors in the house or if the family is away from home and in the company of others. Sending a child to his or her room until the identified bad behavior is over may be acceptable discipline for a naughty sighted child, but it may strike visitors differently when the child being punished is blind. Indeed, any disciplinary measures at all may raise severe criticism from third parties.
One evening, when I was very young, my parents had dinner guests. It was their custom with me (and later with my sister) to include me at the dinner table rather than feeding me beforehand and excluding me from eating with the family and the guests. Mother always set a beautiful table, and this evening was no exception. I had my place setting, complete with a glass of milk. However, I wanted something in the middle of the table. Instead of asking for what I wanted, I took the child's shortcut. Standing up on my chair, I leaned over the table to reach what I wished to have. In the process I knocked over my milk, spilling it all over the table and the floor. My mother picked me up with one hand (as only a mother can do) and swatted me on the behind with the other while firmly sitting me back down on the chair. As she began cleaning up the mess, she noticed that the guests were very quiet. It became evident that they were upset when they voiced their intent to leave because my mother had punished me for spilling my milk. They reasoned that, because I could not see the milk, I should not have been punished for spilling it. Mother explained that I had not spilled the milk because I had not seen it but because I had been doing something I should not have done--standing on a chair and leaning over the table to get what I should have asked to have passed. Mother told her guests that, if I had been sitting properly at the table and had knocked over the milk because I did not see it, nothing would have been said. The milk would simply have been cleaned up.
Many parents have difficulty raising their blind children because of the attitudes of others. Peer pressure is powerful at all ages, and it doesn't cease to exert that power at adulthood or parenthood. Good parents demonstrate their love by teaching their children self-discipline and by expecting and praising good behavior. Withstanding the criticism of well-meaning friends and relations can be very hard for parents, especially parents of blind children. Yet, like sighted children, blind youngsters need standards for self-discipline and good conduct, and bad behavior should not be excused away by blindness.
Through the National Organization of Parents of Blind Children, a division of the National Federation of the Blind, and its magazine Future Reflections, parents of blind children receive support from each other. This network promotes the notion that it is important to set standards for blind children similar to those set for sighted ones. Through sharing ideas and experiences, these parents hope to raise normal, well-mannered children who will grow into successful blind adults.
Through its library of Twin Vision© Books, the American Action Fund for Blind Children and Adults provides a great service to parents of blind children as well as to blind parents raising sighted children. Twin Vision books are children's story books which have been disassembled, interleaved with Braille transcriptions of the printed text, and reassembled into a book. The facing page to each print page contains the Braille text. Parents of blind children can subscribe to this library service and read the Twin Vision books to their preschool children who can then touch the Braille while the parent reads. School-aged blind children can read along with the parent. The Twin Vision books are also wonderful for blind parents who can read the Braille to their sighted children while they follow along, looking at the pictures and reading the print text.
Today we are very aware of child abuse. Doctors, nurses, and teachers look for the physical signs and report such symptoms to the authorities. It is customary to look for bruises or other signs of physical abuse, but there are other kinds of child abuse, as well, and we are coming to recognize forms that do not come from a physical beating. The mother who was still feeding her blind child baby food when he was ten years old was abusing him as surely as if she had beaten him. He was thin and underdeveloped. His facial muscles were atrophied. Her excuse for feeding him baby food was that, since the child was blind, he could not learn to chew. This parent thought that she was providing tender, loving care to her son when in fact this was a blatant form of child abuse.
Similarly, parents who require fewer household chores from their blind children than from their other youngsters are also abusing the child. These lowered expectations damage the blind child's relationship with siblings and diminish his or her self- esteem. Further the child's development is delayed because he or she does not learn tasks that are age-appropriate--picking up her toys or clothes, making his bed, setting and clearing the table, helping to wash the dishes, carrying out the garbage, helping with the laundry, caring for the family pet, and assisting with the countless other chores that a well-adjusted child learns to do growing up.
Verbal abuse is another type of mistreatment that can be as debilitating to a child as a physical beating. Reminding a child of his or her shortcomings often increases the tendency to make mistakes, eliciting further parental criticism. Constant exposure to the preconceived and inaccurate notions of others about his or her perceived limitations can be very harmful to a blind child's appropriate psychological development. We all thrive on encouragement, and discouragement stunts our growth.
All children have dreams. Some are realistic and some are pure fantasy. Almost every child has dreamed of being a fireman or nurse or doctor. Scurrying about the floor, racing to an imaginary fire, gathering up the hooks and ladders, and putting out a raging fire are all part of a child's play, and that play translates into growth and development. Similarly, children play nurse or doctor and cure the worst ailments with the magic resident in the doctor or nurse's kit. This type of play is expected of sighted children, but as soon as the blind child starts down the hallway with a toy fire truck, some adult is likely to squash the fantasy by the not very subtle reminder that, since he or she is blind, putting out fires would be an impossibility.
By the way, I am not at all certain that helping to put out fires is an impossibility for a blind person. Certainly there are blind doctors, nurses, pharmacists, and others in the medical professions. Every time I decide that a blind person cannot do a particular task or job, I soon learn that there is a blind person somewhere performing that task and doing it as well as, or better than, his or her sighted colleagues. The National Federation of the Blind has taught us that with proper training and opportunity we can compete on terms of equality with our sighted neighbors.
Toys are a very important part of all children's growing and developing. There is a tendency to think that blind children need special toys. Although I am not suggesting that blindness should never be considered when selecting toys, I am suggesting that many perfectly fine toys are sometimes eliminated from the blind child's collection because some adult has decided that, under the circumstances, they are unsuitable. My mother thought that choosing a toy was an important part of every child's education and development. When I was still too small to reach the counter, mother would put each toy in my hand for me to see so that I could choose the one for us to buy. When I grew large enough to reach the counter, I independently walked up and down the aisles in the dime store and carefully inspected each toy so that I could make my choice.
Many times children find their own toys. One day, when I was about eighteen months old, I found a ladder that a painter had left leaning against the side of the duplex in which we lived. Being a curious child, I climbed straight up it. When my mother discovered where I was, she was fearful that, if she called, she would startle me. Ultimately she decided to take off her shoes and socks so that she could quietly climb the ladder and carry me down to safety without frightening me.
Another day I found an open gate and rode my tricycle out of the yard and into the big world. I was found blocks from home, having a wonderful time exploring on my own. As you can see, my childhood was not much different from that of other curious children. Mother and Daddy never believed in "can't." Mother was fond of saying that "I can't" never did anything, but "I'll try" can do many things.
Mud is always a fine and inexpensive toy. How many mud pies do we all recall making as children and eating, too, for that matter? When I was a child, all milk bottles were glass, and the empty bottles lined the back steps waiting for the milkman. I added to the fun of making mud pies by taking the bottles from the step and carrying them to my outdoor kitchen. I thought it great fun to fill one bottle with water and pour it from one bottle to the next. However, when a neighbor happened to observe this activity while visiting my mother one day, she admonished mother for allowing me to play with the glass milk bottles. Mother's response to her criticism was that, if I were to drop one of the bottles and cut myself, I would heal. In the meantime I was learning valuable lessons, including how to pour water from one bottle to another without spilling it.
In the early 1940's children were more likely to go out and find their own toys. When we didn't have anything to do, we climbed trees or walked along walls. There were no televisions or electronic games. Today toy manufacturers look for ways to build what they call educational toys that will take the place of the coordination we developed from wall walking, tree climbing, and the countless other things we found to do when we were children.
Visual toys are also an important part of a blind child's growing up. We live in a world in which most people see, and it is important for blind children to learn that fact at an early age. One time someone sent me a machine that showed pictures which were in a roll inside the machine. There was a crank on the top which, when turned, changed the picture. Since I could not see the pictures, an adult described them to me. I made up a story about each one and set about presenting picture shows to the smaller neighborhood children. This was excellent stimulation to my imagination, which needed little encouragement, and it also taught me much about pictures. However, it also taught the neighborhood children that blindness made no difference to the quality of the picture show and the stories that went with it.
The discussion this afternoon would not be complete if I did not talk a little about being a blind adult. Opinion polls have shown us that blindness is feared second only to cancer. The average person equates blindness with inferiority and even stupidity. At the office of the National Federation of the Blind of California we spend much time talking to the adult sons and daughters of older people about blindness. We emphasize that Mother or Dad is the same person she or he was before becoming blind. These people have the same need to do for their children as they did before losing their sight. They are often eager to pour coffee, cook dinner, and do the countless other little things that show their love, and they are still perfectly capable of doing them. We stress that these parents should be encouraged to do for themselves and others. Even if you simply want to help, jumping up and grabbing the coffee pot only makes the older parent feel inadequate. Remember that the person without a reason to get up in the morning has very likely lost the reason to live.
As nurses and other medical professionals, you are a very important part of your patients' lives. Your attitude toward blindness and the blind person will help determine the quality of the life your patient is able to create. If you accept and promote a healthy parent-child relationship, your influence can reinforce the attitude that it's okay to be blind and to expect proficiency from a blind child. Similarly, you will make the difference with grown children as they deal with the onset of blindness in their elderly parents.
Some of you deal directly with blind children and adults in hospital settings. We need and desire the same respect other patients receive and the flexibility and optimism that enable one to get well. If physical therapy is in order, the blind patient needs the full scope of physical therapy that the sighted patient would receive. If walking the halls will help a patient progress, then the blind patient needs to walk the halls too. You must set aside the presumption that a blind person cannot be expected to do such things. It will be helpful if you keep in mind the fact that fear often arises from accepting false evidence that appears to be real, and concluding that blindness necessarily prevents a person from doing a given task is almost always false.
I appreciate this invitation to speak to you today, and I welcome the opportunity to discuss blindness. As professionals and as individuals you are important to blind people. Thank you for helping us teach the world that it is respectable to be blind.
[PHOTO/CAPTION: Brian Johnson works with stereo equipment, and a young child stands by. Brian Johnson, pictured here with a young helper, acts as disc jockey at an NFB National Convention dance.]
THE REAL SCOOP ON RADIO WORK
by Brian Johnson
From the Editor: The Job Opportunities for the Blind (JOB) program is conducted by the National Federation of the Blind in partnership with the United States Department of Labor. Each year at our National Convention, there is an afternoon-long seminar filled with straight talk about finding and keeping jobs. Mostly the speakers are knowledgeable blind people who draw on their personal experience to assist those who are still dreaming of an interesting job at good pay. At the 1993 JOB seminar, Brian Johnson, one of the leaders of the NFB of Illinois and an experienced announcer in the Chicago radio market, told the audience the real story of making a living in radio work. This is what he said:
"This way, sir," she said, as I walked to the main part of the building, but she walked just far enough ahead of me so that I couldn't take her arm. "Why is she doing this?" I thought. I assumed every other agency for the blind in the country and, for that matter, staff members of agencies, had the courtesy to welcome me in the standard fashion I was used to. But there she was and there she went; and, if I didn't keep up with her, I'd be left in the dust.
That was in 1978 after I had made the decision to leave the radio station I had worked for as program director to pursue a career as a rehabilitation counselor because at age twenty-three I thought I could change the world for blind people in my state. That, of course, was not to be the case. The more disturbing knowledge that underlay my decision to leave radio was that I knew I could not go from that radio station to a larger market because I was blind. So I used a career in rehabilitation as a cop-out.
In 1972 I started working at my college radio station and moved on to the local station in town when it decided to offer an exchange. We students would do radio shows at no charge for the local station, WEIC, which was in financial trouble, in exchange for course credit in communications from the university. The free talent for the station materialized; The course credit never did. So I suppose you could say that I have worked for a sheltered workshop for DJ's. But I cannot stress enough how much fun I had on the radio while I was in college.
That kind of high-level enjoyment is coming back now for me as a voice-over. A voice-over concentrates on reading script and commercial-narration copy. A DJ plays recordings on turntables, tape machines, and compact disk players in a radio station and does some announcing in between.
One time I entered a radio station's talent show, held at Six Flags in St. Louis. The MC was none other than Wolf Man Jack. He welcomed all of us to the show and wished us good luck. So I stood up and yelled [imitating the Wolf Man's voice]: "Ah, bring on the wolf man!" He looked around, wondering where his double was.
Now to get to reality. Being in radio was a lot of fun. I met girls in college who just liked hearing me on the air, so we'd get something going for a while, anyway. Lots of people cheered for us at public appearances, and the small town newspapers wrote about me as the "wonderful blind radio announcer." That was before I joined the National Federation of the Blind and came to know better.
Now here is the money part. In 1977, after five years of working at that station, I worked as program director for $500 a month. The station owner bounced payroll checks, and we'd have to go to the bar he frequented to get our money to pay rent. When I was working as a rehabilitation counselor, I met a fellow named Pete with whom I worked part-time doing radio shows. I was scared down to my shoes when I heard him in Chicago on the country station. But two years ago I got up the nerve to call him, and he set me up with a contact he knew at a local TV station. That was June of 1991, and I've been doing voice-over in the Chicago market ever since.
I have brought a demo tape and a copy of my latest commercial to read for you. This sponsor was a furniture store called Circle Furniture. I taped this commercial three or four days ago. It has what we in the business call a laundry list--a list of products or sale items. Remember, I'm supposed to do this in thirty seconds or less. [Mr. Johnson then read the commercial in a brisk, lively manner with one very small stumble.]
Did I make any mistakes? Yes I did, very good. I made one. That would not have been a take. I would have had to do it over. I was invited to the Chicago market because I was reliable and responsible and would not damage my friend Pete's credibility. Most important, I knew someone who had made it to the Chicago market because I had paid my dues by working in a smaller market first.
The demo tape I brought and am now sending around to ad agencies and radio stations was put together in the studio of a country station in Chicago by my friend Peter and me. Here is my demo.
[The tape that was then played included six very different spot announcements, several with music or other sound effects, and a brief message from him which included his telephone number.]
If you are of a mind to go into the business, here are some rules-of-thumb that I've learned along the way:
1. Be confident in yourself as a blind person. The person at the agency for the blind I mentioned at the beginning was not a staff member but a student. At the former Iowa Commission for the Blind students and staff were equals. When I was working for rehab and wishing that I wasn't, there was a glimmer, a spark of conviction in all that sea of fear in me that the best place to find out what blind people can really do was the National Federation of the Blind. I went to Iowa at my own expense because I knew that they knew more about helping blind people than the rehab officials I worked for did. During that trip I learned more about real belief in blind people--in other words, in myself--than I had ever experienced before in my life. So work on improving your blindness skills: travel and Braille, including slate and stylus--I was reading that commercial in Braille. You have to go to radio and TV stations and ad agencies independently the first time. You can do it.
2. If you think you're marketable, get a tape recorder and start reading ads on tape. Get them from magazines and newspapers or copy them down from radio commercials. If you've really got it, the sound and inflection of your voice will tell the tale.
3. Don't be afraid to network. Call people whom you know in the business, people who can give you good advice. That also means staying in touch with Job Opportunities for the Blind and the National Federation of the Blind. More and more blind people are exploring radio as a career. This is not a job for the thin-skinned. Be prepared to take criticism. Even if you think you sound wonderful, don't be crushed if somebody says, "That's terrible. Do it over and make me like that product. I don't know how you're going to change it so I'll like it, but just do it." Don't be intimidated. Also be ready and able to take direction. While you're reading that spot or while you're on the control board, the client or the producer or the station owner who may know far less than you do is the boss.
4. Do not quit your full-time job! [laughter and applause] At this stage I'm not fully self-supporting as a voice-over. I have jointly, and I do mean jointly, set up a rehab program with my counselor for computer equipment and living and business expenses.
The point that should be repeatedly hammered home is this: we as blind people ought to try doing what we want to do and being what we want to be. The jobs that most state agencies want us to do are usually not the jobs we dreamed about as children. Here's the most important message I'm learning as I'm starting to be a voice-over. We have the right to succeed or fail on our merit, just like everybody else. We have the right to good rehab services that will result in real jobs and not generic rehabilitation that holds us down and keeps us on the Social Security rolls. Don't let anyone take away your chance to try. And I will say to anyone who cares to listen, I absolutely could not do what I'm doing and be up here demonstrating it to you without the National Federation of the Blind. I would like to paraphrase what Dr. Jernigan and President Maurer have said and we have affirmed at the end of our banquet speeches for decades: my brothers and my sisters, the future is ours. Come join us on the air waves, and we'll make it come true!
[PHOTO/CAPTION: James Omvig]
EMPOWERING THE BLIND STUDENT
by James H. Omvig
From the Editor: For many years now Jim Omvig has been a leader at every level of the National Federation of the Blind. The following article is drawn from material prepared to assist faculty members at the University of Arizona as they searched for a professor to head the program to train teachers of blind and visually impaired students.
Jim Omvig graduated from a residential school for the blind and attended college and law school using the skills and techniques commonly used by trained blind people. After working for several years in both Washington, D.C., and New York City as an attorney with the federal government, he changed careers and became professionally involved in work with the blind. He worked for nine years in Des Moines, Iowa, as Director of the Orientation and Adjustment Center of the Iowa Commission for the Blind, which was directed at the time by Dr. Jernigan. For the next six years he served in Baltimore, Maryland, as Director of the Social Security Administration's program to create greater employment opportunity for blind and disabled people. Finally, he moved to Anchorage, Alaska to direct the Alaska Center for Blind and Deaf Adults, where he worked for several years before retiring to Tucson, Arizona, because of ill health. Mr. Omvig is the recipient of numerous honors and awards and currently serves in a volunteer capacity as national Treasurer of the American Action Fund for Blind Children and Adults. Here is his article:
The buzzword for the nineties in education, rehabilitation, or even in certain parts of government itself is empowerment. While this is a word which is used frequently even though its meaning is vague and elusive, it is a good word and a valid concept when it is understood properly.
Empowerment: just what does it mean, particularly in the context of providing a quality education for the blind student? Although I have not seen it stated like this before, I believe that the concept includes four elements--three which have a direct impact on the blind or visually impaired student and a fourth which has an indirect impact. Whatever empowerment means, it is clear that both the public and the residential school have the responsibility to provide it for their blind students and that doing so is much more complex than empowering the sighted student in the public school.
I checked the dictionary for the meaning of empowerment, and I wasn't totally satisfied with what I found. It says, "to give power or authority to." This is all right as far as it goes, but I believe that, as this word is used today, the meaning is much broader and more comprehensive.
I think that, for the students with whom we are concerned, the full and accurate meaning would go something like this: "A school may be said to empower the blind or visually impaired student to the extent that he or she is equipped with the tools--the knowledge, skills, motivation, and self-confidence--which are necessary to enable him or her to take charge and to make sound judgments and decisions based upon fact, skill, and ability so that the student can be the best adult which he or she is capable of becoming." This is quite a mouthful, but it works.
The four essential ingredients involved in empowering the blind or visually impaired student are as follows:
1. The school must provide the student with the same quality and level of education he or she would have received as a sighted student. In the past schools have often thought that less is all right for blind students; or, even worse, they have mistakenly believed that the blind were not capable of achieving what the sighted could achieve. When expectations are lowered, it necessarily follows that the educational outcome will be less than good enough. Empowerment means that an equal education, provided by the school, is a must.
2. The school must teach the student the skills and techniques necessary in order to function efficiently and competitively as a blind or visually impaired person. These include Braille reading and writing, travel with the long white cane, use of adaptive technology, etc. Trying to do things in the same ways as a fully sighted person when you are not fully sighted simply does not work. Empowerment means that the school must equip the student with those alternative skills and techniques which are necessary for a blind or visually impaired person to function competently and to be competitive in a predominantly sighted world.
3. The school must help the student adjust to his or her blindness and to accept it. Students initially dealing with blindness typically feel different, inadequate, frustrated. Such students do not know that having a serious eye condition is perfectly normal, and as a result they are bound to have an extremely limited and inaccurate view of what is possible for them in the future. Empowerment means that the school must help these students develop feelings of adequacy and self-confidence and must teach them that it is perfectly okay to be blind and that they can have a satisfying and fulfilling future.
4. Finally, the school must help the student (indirectly) by helping the parent. Again, until something or someone intervenes, parents are almost certain to have the same negative feelings and ideas about blindness as their children, and this negativity rubs off. They are understandably disappointed, frightened, angry, and concerned about the future. They do not know that it is possible for their youngsters to have a normal, meaningful, successful, and happy life. Empowerment means that the school must help the parent to become a positive and constructive influence in the student's life--positiveness, too, rubs off.
As one who has been blind for a long time and who has more than thirty years of experience in work with the blind, I can vouch for the fact that each of these four ingredients is essential if a truly quality education is to be provided. The school certainly does have the responsibility to empower the blind or visually impaired student, and the techniques for accomplishing it are proven and well known.
Remember that the first and most important step in the process is to contact and work with experienced and qualified blind adults who can serve, not only as role models for the students and teachers, but also as valued advisors on what works and what doesn't. We have experienced it all, both the bad and the good, and our knowledge is essential to true empowerment.
[PHOTO/CAPTION: Tom Bickford (center) and his brother-in-law speak with a blind man who lives in Shanghai.]
BLINDNESS IN THE MIDDLE KINGDOM:
MY RETURN VISIT TO CHINA
by Thomas Bickford
From the Editor: Travel anywhere in the United States or around the world; and, when you come across a blind American confidently swinging along and educating the public about blindness at the same time, you have probably found a member of the National Federation of the Blind. Recently Tom Bickford (author of The Care and Feeding of the Long White Cane, a little book now available for purchase from the NFB Materials Center, and a long-time Federationist) visited China with members of his family. Here is an article he wrote about the experience:
It was our last morning in China. We were leaving the Temple of the Jade Buddhas in Shanghai when I heard a tapping on the walk behind us. I asked my brother-in-law, with whom I was walking, to look back and see what the source of the sound was. He said that it was a blind man and wanted to know how I had known to ask. I explained that I know how blind people tap even if they don't use the same technique I do. We hurried over to the tour bus and asked our local guide to act as interpreter.
I introduced myself as a blind man from America. The Chinese man, perhaps a little shorter and younger than I, gave me a firm handshake and a big smile. He said he was just returning from getting his bean peeler repaired. He opened a cardboard box several inches long with something inside mounted in a plastic housing. I never did discover the function of a bean peeler, but it was important to my new friend. I asked about employment, and he said he worked in a factory in another part of the city. I told him I worked in Washington, D.C., making books for blind people. We shook hands again very cordially, and he went on his way, giving an occasional tap to the ground before him and the wall beside him.
The cane, whose tapping had originally attracted my attention, was made of unpainted wood. It was only about waist high--short by my standards. But we had not had time for lengthy discussions, and he was making his own way in his own country. Earlier in the trip I asked another one of our tour guides what opportunities there were for blind people in China. She spoke of special schools and job training. The only employment mentioned was in massage work. I was left with an impression of segregated training and limited opportunities. There seemed to be very little, if any, expectation for blind people to take an ordinary place in society along with their sighted peers.
In 1966 I visited the School for the Blind in Leningrad. I asked about employment for graduates of that school. Some graduates did go on to higher education, but the two kinds of employment mentioned were typists and, again, masseurs. This last is honorable and socially worthwhile work, but it is no more suited for all blind people than it is for all sighted ones.
At another time in our China trip we visited a factory where jade was cut into decorative figures. Our guide took care to point out a married couple working there, both of whom were deaf. I gathered that in China, like America, deafness was less of a handicap in employment than blindness was.
Because my parents were missionaries and my three sisters and I were all born there, a family reunion trip to China seemed to be just the thing, and 1993 was the year. There were sixteen of us, all related by blood or marriage. We had a private tour two weeks long, but two years in the planning. We visited seven cities, the first four of which had special memories for us. We saw places we had known as children and met people who had known our parents.
In Beijing, (say bay-jing, as in jingle) we went to Tien An Men Square, (say tyen on mun) a truly large open area with memorial buildings around the edge and posted lists (in several languages) of the kinds of demonstrations not permitted without prior approval. Not far away was the first McDonald's in China. You would recognize the menu and the flavors. We toured the Forbidden City and the Imperial Palace of the Manchu Dynasty, prominently featured in the movie, The Last Emperor.
On a day trip outside the city we stopped at the Ming tombs, only a few hundred years old--not much by Chinese standards. Then we climbed part of the Great Wall of China, and I do mean climbed. That part of the wall zigzags through the hills, and the steps along the top are from ancient times. Only the handrails along the sides are modern additions. The wall was originally a military defense with vertical stone sides ten meters high and five meters across the top. The part we saw was in its original condition. The "great" part comes from its length since it wanders for thousands of kilometers across northern China.
Wherever there are tourists, there are tourist traps. My sister called them "Hello shops." "Hello, T-shirts?" I bought two for my daughters that said, "I climbed the Great Wall of China." A week later, while going up the Li River (say lee) on a tour boat, there was a knocking at the window, and we heard it again. "Hello, T-shirt?" This time the hopeful vendor was wearing high rubber boots and paddling his bamboo raft.
"Hello, special price for you." With all of these people you can haggle for a price, but it is considered poor style to haggle if you do not intend to buy.
Some Chinese say they will eat anything that moves except a car. Others say they will eat anything on four legs except the table. I tell you that if they catch it, they don't worry about the legs. I won't go into further detail because you may be reading this just before dinner.
Lunch and dinner each day were Chinese food. I improved my skill with chopsticks and did not use the offered fork more than once. Dinner one day was Peking Duck, banquet fare even in China, and the duck was very fat. We had asked that one dinner be jiaotzes (say jyow-zuz). We would call them boiled wonton. I liked them the way our cook made them in my childhood home. But I never before had the variety of fillings that was served to us on this trip. I actually enjoyed some of them. Rice was always served and soup usually. The rest of the food was cut small and soaked in what I think was soy sauce and sesame oil, very strong. I lost eight pounds which I am starting to gain back.
My favorite foods were the snacks as remembered from childhood. The honey malt taffy rolled in sesame seed was still very good. The best was still tonghula (tong-hula, as in the Hawaiian dance). The fruit is a haw from the hawthorn and looks like a crabapple. They stab about ten haws on a bamboo stick and dip it all in a sugar syrup to form a heavy glaze. The sharp tang of the fruit and the sweet glaze make a wonderful balance.
A blind traveler from the West needs to know about doorsills. At main entrances to buildings that survive from before the twentieth century there is often a high doorsill. These barriers extend the full width of a wide double doorway. They may be only a narrow board set on edge, but most of the doorsills we found on this trip were heavy timbers, eight inches or more high, and thick. The proper form is to go all the way over in one step, not to step up onto then down off the doorsill. The three reasons that I know for doorsills come from ancient times. The first reason is practical--they keep some dirt out. The second reason is sociological--they keep women with bound feet in. The third reason is from demonology--demons have very short legs.
Having blown my international travel budget on the trip to China, I won't be missing the 1994 Maryland convention because of being out of the country again, and I plan to be in Detroit as well. If you want to hear more about the trip, find me after meetings, and I will tell you about my souvenirs or the availability of Braille watches in China or why there is now a copy of The Freedom Bell in the library of a high school in the City of Tienjing (say tyen-jing, as in jingle).
If you or a friend would like to remember the National Federation of the Blind in your will, you can do so by employing the following language:
"I give, devise, and bequeath unto National Federation of the Blind, 1800 Johnson Street, Baltimore, Maryland 21230, a District of Columbia nonprofit corporation, the sum of $_____ (or "_____ percent of my net estate" or "The following stocks and bonds: _____") to be used for its worthy purposes on behalf of blind persons."
[PHOTO/CAPTION: Detroit's Greektown, location of many fine restaurants.]
[PHOTO/CAPTION: Entrance to the Henry Ford Museum.]
THE ROAR OF '94--WHAT TO DO IN DETROIT
by Sue and Don Drapinski
From the Editor: By the time you read this article, the 1994 Convention of the National Federation of the Blind will probably be less than ten weeks away. The June 5 deadline for tour reservations will be just around the corner, and the time will certainly be at hand for making transportation arrangements. If you have not yet made your convention reservation at the Westin Hotel, you must do so as soon as possible. Our block of rooms is limited, and this is one convention you don't want to miss. Our hotel rates (singles $38, doubles and twins $43, and quads $48, plus tax) are extraordinary. There will be no charge for children with parents if no extra bed is required. Make your reservations by writing Westin Hotel, Renaissance Center, Detroit, Michigan 48243, Attention: Reservations; or call (313) 568-8000. Do not use the Westin toll-free number because such reservations will not be valid. The hotel will want a deposit of $45 or a credit card number. If a credit card is used, the deposit will be charged against your card immediately. Deposits for reservations cancelled before June 20, 1994, will be entirely returned to you by the hotel. Requests for refunds after this date will not be honored. Here is what the Drapinskis have to say about things to do in Detroit:
We have been receiving increasing numbers of inquiries from people with all sorts of questions. Is there anywhere to go while I'm in Detroit? Are there any good places to eat near the hotel? Are cabs the only way to get around, and are they expensive? With this article we will try to give you specific answers to these questions as well as provide details that you may find interesting and informative about the Detroit area. What you should know without a doubt when you finish reading this article is that there are an infinite number of things to do and places to go in Detroit. If you choose, you can fill every spare moment with fun and excitement.
It's difficult to determine what is most important to people, but everyone seems to have at least a moderate interest in eating. We believe that you will find a wider variety of food establishments this year than at any recent convention. Within the Renaissance Center itself there are over twenty restaurants--including fast food at McDonald's and Burger King; coffee, cookie, and donut shops; sandwich stands; and ethnic fare at Italian, Greek, Tex-Mex, and Chinese restaurants. In the Westin Hotel is the Summit Steakhouse, which is a memorable experience in fine dining--a bucket of all-you-can-eat peel-and-eat shrimp is complimentary with each entree. But there is no need to stop with the establishments in the Renaissance Center (referred to by locals as the RenCen). The People Mover, an elevated train which can be boarded within the RenCen, will take you to any of thirteen stops along its route. The fare is fifty cents, and within walking distance of the stops are such places as Lindell AC Bar and Grill, famous for its collection of national sports memorabilia and its claim to fame--the best ground round in town. Cobo Hall and Joe Louis Arena, home of many concerts, specialty shows, and sporting events, are along the People Mover route, as well as the financial district, which is the place for architecture enthusiasts to stop. The Guardian, Buhl, Ford, and Penobscot buildings are each unique in design. Culinary delight can also be found here at the London Chophouse and the Pontchartrain Wine Cellars. Another stop is the Millender Center (also accessible by skywalk from the RenCen) which is home to more shops, including a pharmacy and 333 East Street Restaurant.
For antique buffs the DuMouchelle Art Gallery is right next door. A stop at the Bricktown Station puts you in the midst of quaint pubs, jazz music, and more eateries. If you choose to experience Greektown, you will find many restaurants, bakeries, and pastry shops specializing in Greek cuisine. Greektown is also the home to Fishbones, a Cajun seafood restaurant as well as Trapper's Alley, which is an old fur and leather processing plant transformed into a mini-shopping mall with, you guessed it, more restaurants.
In choosing Cadillac Center Station, you will find Henry the Hatter, who has been fitting famous heads since before the turn of the century, and a potpourri of fashion stores from designer shoes to fine Italian sportswear. Other stations will put you within walking distance of many more restaurants, art galleries, and the theater district, including the Fox Theater, the Gem Theater, and the Second City Comedy Club. Windsor, just across the Detroit River, is accessible by both the Windsor Tunnel Bus and the Ambassador Bridge. (Remember to bring proof of citizenship with you: U.S. birth certificate, voter's ID, alien registration card, or passport.) As you can see, fifty cents goes a long way on the People Mover. For those interested in art, each People Mover station houses a collection of public art. If you choose, you can exit the People Mover at each station to view the art; and, as long as you don't exit through the turnstile, you pay only one fare.
If exploring the town is not what you had in mind, the following ideas provide a variety of things to do without ever leaving the Renaissance Center. Do a little shopping to get postcards and souvenirs for those at home, stop at the Post Office to mail the cards, and swing past Federal Express to mail the souvenirs. Now move on to Mrs. Field's for a bag of freshly baked cookies, stop at Videoville to rent a movie, and return to your room for a night in at the movies. For a little variety stop at one of the many restaurants for dinner and then on to the Renaissance Theaters to enjoy one of several first-run movies.
Commuter Transportation Company, which has an office in the lobby area of the Westin hotel, is the best choice for transportation to and from Metro Airport. Reservations are not necessary, and van transportation is available at each terminal in the airport. One-way fare is $13; round-trip fare is $24. However, if you are traveling in groups of 1 to 4, you can call ahead and make a reservation for the Commuter Express. The cost is $28 one way for up to four. The toll-free reservation number is 1 (800) 488-7433. Another choice is Metro Car. Their charge is $35 one way for up to four people. They require twenty-four hours notice, and the toll-free number is 1 (800) 456-1701.
For those people arriving early, the highlight of the International Freedom Festival is the world's largest fireworks display, which will occur on Wednesday evening, June 29. Fireworks can be viewed from the hotel; or, if you are interested in a spectacular evening, Detroit Upbeat, Inc., is offering on a limited basis an evening under the stars. The price of $65 per person includes a cruise on the Detroiter, a two-deck paddle wheel boat; hors d'oeuvres; cash bar; dinner including bread, salad, vegetable, potatoes, 5-ounce chicken breast, 5-ounce beef tenderloin, pastry, and coffee or tea; musical entertainment for listening and dancing; and popcorn during the fireworks. The tour begins at 6:45 p.m. near Stroh's River Place and will return to the same location at approximately 11:30 p.m. Space is very limited; so, if you are interested, please call Detroit Upbeat at (313) 341-6810 to make reservations. No refunds issued or cancellations accepted for this tour.
In the March Monitor article we mentioned the Henry Ford Museum/Greenfield Village tour. Many of us who live in the area take the Village and Museum for granted; however, it is an experience of a lifetime that everyone should take the opportunity to enjoy. Greenfield Village/Henry Ford Museum is a ninety-three-acre collection of Americana. Some of the features include Thomas Edison's Menlo Park Laboratory, the Wright Brothers' home and bicycle shop, the car that President Kennedy was riding in when he was assassinated, and the actual chair that Abraham Lincoln sat in on that fateful evening at the Ford Theater. The Suwanee steamboat takes you for a summertime cruise around a picturesque lagoon. And, back to eating, the enchanting Eagle Tavern, known for its early American fare, is a popular spot.
Hopefully, after reading this article, your new question is, "How can I do it all?" instead of "Is there anything to do?"
And don't forget, door prizes should be sent to Don Drapinski, NFB of Michigan, 111 W. Woodward Hts., Hazel Park, Michigan 48030; or call (810) 546-6910.
1994 CONVENTION ATTRACTIONS
From the Editor: Every year's National Convention is an absolutely unique event. The agenda items, the exhibits, the new friends and business acquaintances: all these give each convention its own character and significance. Some activities lend a luster to the convention in part because they do take place every year and provide helpful fixed points in the whirl of events. In this category are the meetings of the Resolutions Committee and the Board of Directors, the annual banquet, and many seminars and workshops of the various divisions and committees. Here is a partial list of activities being planned by a number of Federation groups during the 1994 Convention, July 1 through 7. Presidents of divisions and committee chairpeople have provided the information. The pre-convention agenda will list the locations of all events taking place before convention registration on Saturday, July 2. The convention agenda will contain listings of all events taking place after that time.
[PHOTO/CAPTION: Federationists examine artwork displayed at the 1993 blind artists' exhibit.]
On Tuesday, July 5, from 2:00 to 9:00 p.m., the second annual exhibit of work by blind artists will be held. Artists who displayed their work last year will be back, and we expect some new and interesting additions. If you enjoy art or think you might if you had enough experience with it, put the exhibit on your must list of things to do at the Convention.
We welcome all artists to participate in the 1994 art exhibit. The only requirement concerning your work is that it be original. In addition, if you can't bring it yourself, you must send it with someone who will act as your representative. That person must spend at least part of his or her time at the exhibit, setting up and showing your work and is the one who will see that your work and any money owed you is returned to you after the convention. You may sell your work or not, as you choose. Remember that a fifteen percent commission on all works sold goes to the NFB.
This year we would like to do a better job of labeling. If possible, please label your work in both Braille and print or get someone to help you. If you need help with one or the other type of labeling, please send me, Janet Bixby, the information you want on the labels and specify which type of labeling you need. This information must be in my hands no later than June 1, and the deadline for letting me know your display plans is June 15. Tell me what type of art you do, approximately how many pieces you hope to bring, and approximately how much space you will need. The sooner I hear from people, the better it will be.
We will make arrangements for you to ship your work in advance if you wish. Details will be sent to you later. More information about this exhibit will be forthcoming, so be on the lookout for it. In the meantime, if you have questions or comments, call Janet Bixby (703) 722-4712; or write me at 208 W. Boscawen, Apartment 11, Winchester, Virginia 22601-4139.
Blind Educators to Meet
The National Association of Blind Educators (NABE) will hold its annual meeting Sunday, July 3, at 1:00 p.m. at the 1994 convention of the National Federation of the Blind. This year we will focus on the blind educator in the public school systems of the 1990's. What are our expectations for our careers, and what should we expect from administrators, parents, and students?
The public schools today are much different from what they were some years ago when parents and students respected teachers and administrators did what they were paid to do. Now in too many schools the teacher is responsible for everything which occurs. In short, the teacher has been expected to cure the ills of society.
Since teachers are paid to educate students in this new environment, it is up to us in NABE to find our rightful place in what has become a new profession. Blind educators with much experience at all levels of education from preschool to the university level will share experiences and techniques. We will also discuss how to deal with many negative factors in the educational work place. Good self-esteem is essential for long-term psychological well-being. As blind educators we must learn our rights as well as our responsibilities. The ADA may assist us, but all the skills and techniques needed by the blind educator are defined and explained at our meeting.
Be in Detroit July 1 to 8, to learn from and join a very progressive group of blind educators.
Blind Industrial Workers of America
The Blind Industrial Workers of America (BIWA) plans to sell split cash drawing tickets at the convention for $1 apiece. The drawing will be held banquet night. Premo Foianini, BIWA President, says you must be present to win.
For the past five years the National Federation of the Blind of Louisiana has held a Braille-a-thon as a public-education and fund-raising event at its state convention to promote Braille literacy. This year the National Association to Promote the Use of Braille (NAPUB) has decided to conduct a similar fund-raiser at the National Convention with half the proceeds going to NAPUB and half to the national treasury.
This is the way it works: Volunteer Braille readers will pledge to read a set number of Braille pages (the number to be chosen by them) sometime between 9:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. on Friday, July 1. For several weeks prior to the convention these volunteer readers will work to procure sponsors. Then, at a time convenient to them during the hours of the Braille-a-thon, the volunteers will go to the room designated for the event in the Pre-convention Agenda to complete their page goals. Some read as many as three hundred pages, and others read only a few. We hope to attract both excellent Braille readers and brand-new ones. Everyone who reads Braille can help. You don't have to read lots of pages in order to raise an impressive amount of money; an alternative strategy is to find sponsors who will make appropriately large contributions for each page read.
If you would like to participate and receive sponsor sheets for use in signing up your friends and business associates as backers during the coming weeks, contact either Betty Niceley, 3618 Dayton Avenue, Louisville, Kentucky 70402, (502) 897-2632; or Jerry Whittle, 101 South Trenton Street, Ruston, Louisiana 71270, (800) 234-4166.
[PHOTO/CAPTION: NFB Camp provides the opportunity for young Federationists to enjoy themselves during the annual convention.]
General Child Care Information
As usual, child care will be available during the 1994 convention. Again this year the volunteer director of child-care services (christened last year and now known as NFB Camp) is Mary Willows. Mrs. Willows is an experienced educator, the mother of two children, and a long-time leader in the National Federation of the Blind of California. This volunteer job is a major undertaking. It takes a tremendous amount of time from many Federation parents who care deeply about making the NFB Convention an enjoyable and enriching experience for every member of the family who attends.
Child care is provided not only during the parent seminar on Friday, July 1, 1994, but during the convention sessions, the banquet, and other special meeting times as resources allow. Parents are asked to make these donations for child care: $50 for the week (including the banquet) for the first child and $25 for each additional child; or, if you do not need the full week of NFB Camp, $10 per child per day, and $10 per child for the banquet night. Parents who cannot contribute the suggested donation should contact Mary Willows to discuss what donation they are able to make. Mary will be available in the NFB Camp room before and after sessions. Please contact Mary as soon as possible to indicate the number of youngsters in your family who will be participating in NFB Camp during the week. Be sure to tell her about each child's special needs if any. We also need to know the age of each youngster and whether each is blind or sighted. Checks for child care made payable to NOPBC and registration information should be sent to Mary Willows, 3934 Kern Court, Pleasanton, California 94588; (510) 462-8557. Since the suggested donation does not cover all expenses, other donations from individuals and groups will be much appreciated.
Committee on Associates
The Associates Committee is dramatically expanded this year and has great potential for success during the 1994 calendar year. However, the results of the 1994 enrollment year will be available at the committee meeting at 7:00 p.m., Sunday, July 3. In addition several awards will be presented as well as remarks by an exceptional speaker. Registration will begin at 6:45 p.m. (essential for door prizes).
On Monday at noon the committee will conduct a workshop for those who have questions about techniques for associate enrolling. The workshop will not exceed forty-five minutes. For details contact Chairman Tom Stevens, (314) 445-6091, evenings.
[PHOTO/CAPTION: Members of the Committee on Concerns of the Deaf-Blind are pictured here taking part in a committee meeting. Committee Chairman Boyd Wolfe (at mic) works with Connie Ryan, using a Tellatouch.]
Committee on the Concerns of the Deaf-Blind
The National Federation of the Blind Committee on the Concerns of the Deaf-Blind is planning three meetings during Convention week in Detroit this year. All meetings will take place at the Westin Hotel and will begin at 8:00 p.m.
On Friday, July 1, there will be a seminar on assistive listening devices, conducted by Kathleen Spear. Saturday evening, July 2, we will have an interpreters' workshop. All those interested in being interpreters for deaf-blind people attending the convention are urged to attend to learn methods of communicating with deaf-blind people and to get acquainted with each other.
The Committee strongly urges that deaf-blind people attending the convention register immediately when they arrive or as soon as Convention registration begins on July 2. This will enable you to receive an agenda with which to choose the meetings you plan to attend and for which you will need an interpreter. Everyone who has served as an interpreter in the past or who is interested in trying this activity is warmly invited to attend the Saturday evening gathering to get acquainted.
Tuesday evening, July 5, the committee will conduct its annual meeting. All committee members are urged to attend, as well as anyone else who is interested and able to attend. As committee chairman, I and all of the other members of the committee will be looking forward to seeing you at the greatest NFB Convention ever. Every year attendance at both the meetings of deaf-blind people and at general Convention activities has increased. We are looking forward to watching this trend continue.
Any deaf-blind person who may need assistance when coming to the Convention is urged to contact Boyd C. Wolfe, Chairman, 944 West Main St., Apt. 1010, Mesa, Arizona 85201. Please write in Braille or call me on your State Relay Service at (602) 890-8061. Anyone who may have suggestions or advice about matters concerning deaf-blind people is urged to do the same.
[PHOTO/CAPTION: Diabetics Division leaders (left to right), Bill Parker, Ed Bryant, Karen Mayry, and Tom Ley, are pictured here at the head table of the 1993 Diabetics Division meeting.]
Ed Bryant, President of the Diabetics Division, reports that the Division will hold two seminars at this year's convention. The first will cover technology for diabetes self-management by the blind. Discussions will feature adaptive insulin measuring devices and blood glucose monitors with voice enunciation. The meeting will take place at the Westin Hotel, Saturday, July 2, from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m.
The second seminar is our yearly Diabetics Division seminar/business meeting. A keynote address is being arranged, probable subject to be organ transplantation. This meeting will take place on Sunday, July 3, beginning at 6:30 p.m. Seminar locations will be listed in the Convention agenda, available upon registration. Plan, prepare, and be rewarded. This year's convention will be great.
During this year's National Convention (Friday, July 1 through Thursday, July 7) dialysis will be available. Individuals requiring dialysis must have a transient-patient packet and a physician's statement filled out prior to treatment. Patients should have their dialysis unit contact the desired location in the Detroit area for instruction on what must be done. A mandatory prepayment of twenty percent (approximately $26) must be made before each treatment. This amount is not covered by Medicare.
Please schedule treatments early because space is limited. Most dialysis locations require at least a thirty-day advance notification, and service is provided on a first-come, first- served basis. For transportation to and from dialysis centers within the Detroit city limits, contact the Suburban Mobility Authority for Regional Transportation (SMART); telephone (313) 961-6030. Fare from the Westin Hotel to and from dialysis locations is $1 each way. Call ten days ahead. Note: SMART serves only locations within the actual city of Detroit.
1. BMA of Detroit, 4727 Saint Antoine, Suite 101, Detroit, Michigan 48202; telephone (313) 831-2510. Ask for Jackie. BMA has two units that are close to the Convention site, one about five minutes away, the other about fifteen.
2. Greenfield Health Systems, 30100 Telegraph Road, Suite 200, Bingham Farms, Michigan 48025; telephone (810) 642-5038. Ask for Tiffany. This is the corporate office, which patients or social workers must contact in order to make arrangements. They have several units less than thirty minutes from the Westin Hotel.
3. St. John Dialysis Center, 22151 Moross, Suite G3, Detroit, Michigan 48236; telephone (313) 343-3991. Ask for Cora Coleman. St. John has several units, the nearest fifteen to twenty minutes away from the Westin.
Space is limited, so please schedule treatments early. If your dialysis unit cannot confirm a space for you, contact Diabetics Division President Ed Bryant for assistance at 811 Cherry Street, Suite 309, Columbia, Missouri 6201; or call (314) 875-8911.
Ham Radio Group
The NFB Ham Radio Group, D. Curtis Willoughby, President, will conduct an Emergency Preparedness Seminar at 7:30 a.m., Friday, July 1, location to be announced in the pre-convention Agenda. The group's annual meeting will convene immediately following the noon recess of the Wednesday Convention session.
The Human Services Division
Doug Elliott, President of the Human Services Division of the National Federation of the Blind, reports that the Division will meet on Sunday, July 3, from 1:00 to 5:00 p.m. Keynote speakers kicking off the session will be Commissioner Donald Gist of the South Carolina Commission for the Blind and Mr. Fred Schroeder, Director of the New Mexico Commission for the Blind. Both men provide human services to a statewide population and supervise others who do so.
Other topics for discussion will include blind human service professionals working in private practice and in hospital settings, confidentiality of records as a barrier, and work with violent patients. The effects of blindness on professional aspirants, job seekers, and potential employers will be emphasized.
Registration will begin at 12:30 p.m. Cost of registration is $10 for working professionals and $5 for students and those not yet employed in the field.
[PHOTO/CAPTION: Lorraine Rovig, Director of the Job Opportunities for the Blind program]
Job Opportunities for the Blind National Seminar
The 1994 National JOB Seminar will take place in the Westin Hotel, Renaissance Center, Friday, July 1, from 1:00 to 4:00 p.m. Sponsored by the National Federation of the Blind and the U.S. Department of Labor, JOB (Job Opportunities for the Blind) offers a fast-moving three hours of blind Americans' sharing information on their jobs--how they got them, how they keep them, and what they recommend to others. Blind people and those helping them get jobs with decent pay will find a supportive, knowledgeable, and down-to-earth program with a positive attitude. This seminar is free.
Any legally blind resident of the United States who is looking for work in the U.S. is eligible to become a JOB applicant. No need to wait till July--call (800) 638-7518 and ask for the free sample JOB Packet and JOB Application Form.
Anyone who works with blind job seekers is also welcome. Come hear the real scoop on what works in job placement and what jobs blind people are doing. Any employer interested in hearing blind employees talk about their jobs will never have a better opportunity.
Time at the seminar will be made available for those with a job opening. Any announcements produced as handouts will be made available throughout the week at the JOB table in the exhibit hall. Any personnel recruiters who would like free exhibit space in the hall, announcement of their availability at convention, a place for interviews, or a JOB liaison to assist in locating possible job applicants at convention are invited to call JOB to make these arrangements.
Networking at Convention: While we are on the topic of employment, what job would you like to do? There may be another person at convention who is already doing what you dream of doing. Ask JOB to help you find people in your field of interest, and consider reserving a spot at a job networking breakfast.
Write to JOB, NFB, 1800 Johnson Street, Baltimore, Maryland 21230; or call JOB at (800) 638-7518 (8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. EST) to talk with the director, Miss Rovig.
JOB Networking Breakfasts: Convention week goes so fast and has so much packed into it that JOB had to cogitate hard on how to help people find each other and then sit still long enough to network to their mutual benefit. The breakfast meetings were born of necessity and continue through popularity. The breakfast coordinators are all blind people working in the particular field. Folks meet at the appointed restaurant, individuals order off the menu or graze the buffet, the coordinators help folks get acquainted, and whatever job-related topic folks want to talk about gets discussed.
Because it is still April, we don't yet know where in the hotel we'll hold each networking event. Locations will be posted during convention week at the NFB hotel information tables and at the NFB Information Desk. Many good conversations and good contacts have grown out of serendipitous juxtapositions at job networking breakfasts. You want to come? Okay, see you in Detroit. It's as easy as that.
Brand new in '94--A JOB Breakfast for First-Timers--Do you want to meet new people fast, have a chance to network about jobs and job searches, and get your questions answered about how this week-long convention works? Beginning at 7:00 a.m., Saturday, July 2, join an old-timer at tables for four or six. We will have room for the first sixteen first-timers. The coordinator is Lorraine Rovig, JOB director: (800) 638-7518.
A JOB Networking Breakfast (7:00 a.m.) for anyone interested in sharing ideas for job hunting. Limit of five plus Miss Rovig. Contact her for reservations at (800) 638-7518.
The Fifth Annual Blind Lawyers Breakfast, 7:00 a.m. Sunday, July 3. This year the attendees will break up into groups of four or six per table so that it is easier to talk. On this same day the National Association of Blind Lawyers will hold its yearly national seminar. No reservations needed for breakfast or seminar. For information contact NABL president and our breakfast coordinator, Bennett Prows from Washington state: (206) 823-6380.
The Third Annual Science and Engineering Breakfast, Sunday, 7:00 a.m., July 3. The one in Dallas was a great success, and you won't find better company than at this Sunday morning feast. Professionals in science and engineering and those interested in these fields are invited to join the fun.
To make reservations, contact Chairman John Miller, California, by June 15. Call (619) 587-3975, or write to S & E Breakfast, c/o John Miller, 4178 Decoro Street, #39, San Diego, California 92122.
A 7:30 a.m. JOB Networking Breakfast for anyone interested in sharing ideas for job hunting. Limit of five plus Miss Rovig. Contact her for reservations at (800) 638-7518.
The Second Annual Breakfast for Braille Proofreaders and Transcribers will be held at 8:00 a.m., Monday, July 4. Braille and Independence Day go well together! The breakfast coordinator, Mrs. Mary Donahue, Texas, may be reached in the evenings at (210) 826-9579. Reservations are helpful but not required.
The Second Annual Breakfast for Blind Employees in Medical Fields will meet at 7:00 a.m., July 5. The breakfast coordinator, Janet Lee from Minnesota, may be reached at BLIND, Inc., (612) 339-8401 or evenings: (612) 434-7933.
A 7:00 a.m. JOB Networking Breakfast for anyone interested in sharing ideas for job hunting. Limit of five plus Miss Rovig. Contact her for reservations at (800) 638-7518.
The Third Annual Blind Artists and Crafts Persons Luncheon will take place on Wednesday, July 6, during the break while the 3,000 conventioneers "in convention assembled" go to lunch. The artists' group has grown so large that breakfast has been changed to a lunch meeting. Come hear some good ideas for selling your product, and meet your fellow artists. Reservations would be helpful. Contact Janet Bixby, Virginia, at (703) 722-4712. Janet is also coordinating the second annual convention art gallery for exhibition and sales.
Brand new in '94--A JOB Breakfast for Blind Machinists and Mechanics. Allen Lincoln from Connecticut and Alan Downing from Arizona will be coordinators for this one. Al Lincoln is a machinist and mechanic, while Alan is a mechanic and electrical engineer who specializes in classic Corvette restoration and Indy cars. We were thinking of calling this the "manly breakfast," but women in these fields will certainly be welcome. If smoothly purring motors and greasy hands interest you, join this group at 7:00 a.m., Wednesday, July 6. Reservations helpful, not required. Alan Downing can be reached at (602) 531-6708.
Brand new in '94--The Green Thumb Career Breakfast, a JOB breakfast for horticulturists and others interested in selling what they grow, will take place at 7:00 a.m., July 6. The coordinator, Pete Donahue from Texas, can be reached evenings at (210) 826-9579.
The Last-Chance JOB Networking Breakfast at 7:00 a.m. for anyone interested in sharing ideas for job hunting. Limit of five plus Miss Rovig. Contact her for reservations at (800) 638-7518.
[PHOTO/DESCRIPTION: Woman (wearing an apron and curlers) sits at the bedside of an apparently ill spouse, reading him the Bible. CAPTION: Two of the Louisiana Center for the Blind Players are pictured here during one of their performances at the 1993 NFB convention.]
Louisiana Center Players
The Louisiana Center for the Blind Players will present two performances of Time for Every Purpose, an original play by Jerry Whittle, a member of the Center staff. The performances will be presented at 7:00 and 9:00 p.m. Sunday, July 3, and tickets are $3.00 each. The play is about eight students at the Louisiana Center for the Blind and their experiences at their first national convention.
The Merchants Division of the National Federation of the Blind will conduct a seminar on Friday, July 1, on Tax Law and Financial Planning for Retirement. The session will run from 9:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. and from 1:30 to 4:00 p.m. The cost is $30.
[PHOTO/DESCRIPTION: Woman plays piano and sings into microphone. CAPTION: Julie Melton of Michigan is pictured here competing in the 1993 Musical Showcase of Talent.]
On Monday, July 4, the popular Musical Showcase will take place from 8:00 p.m. to 10:30 or 11:00. Contestant registration will take place, preferably at the Music Division meeting Saturday evening, or from 6:30 p.m. to 7:45 at the latest on the night of the Showcase.
Sorry, but there will be no children's contest this year. However, the Music Division Board has decided to lower the age of contestants in the other categories to twelve.
This year for the first time we plan to sponsor a contest for professional musicians. And of course our usual contests for original compositions and for performance will also take place again this year, but each contestant is limited to entering one competition only. Electronic accompaniment may be used, but unison singing with a recording will not be accepted. Also, please no long monologues before selections since each contestant has only five minutes in which to introduce his or her selection and perform it. There will be a $2 entry fee for Music Division members and a $3 fee for nonmembers. The first-place prize in each contest is $100, and the second-place prize in each is $50.
The judges will evaluate contestant performances on musical interpretation; appearance; and, in the composition contest, originality. Those interested in serving as one of the three judges should contact Mary Brunoli with information about their qualifications. We hope to offer a small honorarium to each of the judges. Contact Mary Brunoli before June 25 at 31 Sherbrooke Avenue, Hartford, Connecticut 06106, (203) 522-0206, or look her up at the National Convention.
On Saturday, July 2, after the 6:30 p.m. Division Board meeting, the Music Division will hold its annual meeting at 8:00 p.m. We hope to have a representative from the Music Library of the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, but the program will be brief because of election of officers. Speaking of which, Mary Brunoli says she hopes to identify a bright-eyed and bushy-tailed someone who is interested in all kinds of music and who would like to be the next Music Division President. She would like, however, to remain on the Division board but lacks the campaign funds to say more.
National Association of Blind Lawyers
This year's annual meeting of the National Association of Blind Lawyers, consisting of a business session and seminar, will be held from 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. on Sunday, July 3. Blind attorneys, law students, and anyone else interested in the practice of law should attend this year's meeting.
Although the agenda is not finalized at this writing, the program promises to bring together interesting speakers on timely topics. We will discuss the latest in civil rights law and litigation concerning the blind; methods and techniques of law practice to enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of the blind lawyer; updates on technology, specifically in legal research; and much more.
Membership in the National Association of Blind Lawyers is $10, and you can register at the door on the day of the meeting. By registering, you will be sure to be on our mailing list for the coming year to receive the ABA Journal and other publications we are planning to distribute. We are also working to make sure that the hours you spend being educated at the National Association of Blind Lawyers meeting can be used for your continuing legal education credit in any state in the Union. Join the attorneys of the National Federation of the Blind and make a difference.
[PHOTO/CAPTION: Mary and Edwin Hurt prepare to enjoy Monte Carlo night at the 1993 convention.]
The National Association of Blind Students
The National Association of Blind Students (NABS) is active and on the move, and this year's meeting promises to be more exciting than ever before. Energy will be high, and enthusiasm and fun will characterize the evening of Saturday, July 2, 1994. At 7:00 p.m. students from every part of the country will be present at the Convention meeting of the student division. We want you to be a part of the collective action and solidarity that characterize our movement. Each year more and more students make the conscious decision to take an active role in changing the lives of blind students for the better, and we expect to see the growth in momentum continue in 1994.
But the excitement does not end at the conclusion of the Saturday night meeting. Come and enjoy a game of poker, UNO, blackjack, or other Monte Carlo Night favorite while having fun with fellow Federationists, raising money for the student division, and staying in the spirit of Monte Carlo by gambling for three cash prizes. Gaming action will start at 7:00 p.m. on Tuesday, July 5. Let's make 1994 a year to remember. Be a part of what's happening, and don't forget to encourage your friends to do the same.
[PHOTO/CAPTION: Paul Gabias, President of the National Association of Guide Dog Users.]
National Association of Guide Dog Users
The annual meeting of the National Association of Guide Dog Users will be held on Friday, July 1, from 12:30 to 5:00 p.m. Registration will begin at 12:30 p.m., and the meeting will begin promptly at 1:15 p.m. This year's agenda is packed, innovative, and exciting. You won't want to miss it.
The meeting will begin with elections and other business and will be followed by several interesting program items. We know that blind people are involved in many occupations which require the monitoring of the safety of other people. There are blind shop teachers, blind teachers of young children, blind day care workers, and blind teachers involved in physical education, including wrestling and the martial arts. There are also blind mobility instructors, including cane travel teachers and guide dog travel instructors. Yet for many people, blind and sighted alike, the fact that blind people can safely teach other blind people the techniques involved in using a guide dog or a cane is still very much an enigma.
To help deal with this issue, two blind people who have successfully trained guide dogs, Cheri Heppe and Paul Gabias, will discuss their experience as trainers. At least two of the people they have trained (Bill Schiavo and Mary Ellen Gabias) will also share their experiences as students with blind instructors. In addition, Arlene Hill from the Louisiana Center for the Blind will discuss her vast experience as a blind cane travel teacher. A student from the Louisiana Center for the Blind will also speak.
Several guide dog schools are expected to discuss the particular methods they use to teach their guide dogs subway platform safety. It is expected that they will also discuss methods which graduates should use to maximize platform safety. At the time of this writing the Guide Dog Foundation for the Blind in Smithtown, New York, has agreed to deal with this topic, but we are expecting confirmations from other schools shortly.
Brad Scott, the director of training at Leader Dogs for the Blind in Rochester, Michigan, will talk to us about developments on the U.S. Council of Dog Guide Schools. The executive directors and directors of training meet separately, for the most part, and he is secretary for the meeting of the directors of training. However, he is in a position to comment on both meetings.
A representative from the Office of Governmental Affairs of the National Federation of the Blind will also discuss with us measures we can take to solve the quarantine problem for people travelling with guide dogs to Hawaii. The meeting will end with a discussion about what is new at the guide dog schools. Representatives from each school will be given an opportunity to discuss developments at their training centers.
Over the last few years our seminars entitled "A Guide Dog in Your Life" have been very popular. Last year we dealt with the retiring dog; this year we will deal with the new dog. We will discuss issues relevant to first-time guide dog handlers and problems related to switching from an old dog to a new one. We will deal with dog transfer problems from trainer to blind handler and the myriad of ways these control problems can be expressed in the working situation and beyond. We will also deal with issues related to integrating the new dog into one's life, including work, family, and other social situations.
This seminar will be held on Saturday, July 2, from 7:00 to 10:00 p.m. Come one, come all.
The Guide Dog Foundation will have a demonstration dog available for test walks during the Convention. If they wish, other schools are invited to provide the same service.
Again this year we are making special arrangements to insure that the hotel relief area for the dogs will be as convenient and clean as possible. Instead of relying on hotel personnel to maintain this space, we will hire outside workers to keep it clean. This should result in a more pleasant facility for owners and dogs alike; but, as you would expect, the new arrangement will cost a good deal. For this reason we voted at last year's business meeting to have each dog owner pay $25 for use of the relief area. This fee is payable at division activities early in the week. Those owners who cannot do so at that time can pay it to Priscilla Ferris, Division Treasurer, who is President of the National Federation of the Blind of Massachusetts, so she is easy to find on the convention floor. If you cannot pay the fee, please contact Paul Gabias as soon as possible to work out another arrangement. He can be reached at 475 Fleming Road, Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada V1X 3Z4; phone (604) 862-2352.
National Association to Promote the Use of Braille
You are invited to help celebrate a most important birthday. The National Association to Promote the Use of Braille (NAPUB) will be ten years old when we gather for the National Convention in Detroit this summer. Some very exciting events have been planned, and we need you to help celebrate as we review our accomplishments since 1984.
Membership in NAPUB helps the Federation to identify the Braille users in our organization. If you use Braille for nothing more than labeling important papers and packaged foods, writing addresses and telephone numbers, or just making Braille cassette labels, you should invest one dollar in dues so you can be counted among those who are using Braille in a practical way. Otherwise we have no accurate way of knowing how many Braille users there are.
So you all come and join in the fun while also joining a great NFB division.
The NFB in Computer Science Division
The 1994 meeting of the National Federation of the Blind in Computer Science will take place during the NFB convention in Detroit, Michigan. The meeting will commence at 1:00 p.m. Sunday, July 3.
We plan to split our program into two broad areas of interest:
First, we will be discussing how blind people can have independent access to applications written for X Windows--that is, the graphical user interface for UNIX. Although we now have some access to applications written to run under Windows and OS/2, there is now no commercial offering for blind people who need access to graphical applications running under the UNIX operating system. Yet quite a bit of academic research and work is going on in this area, and we would like to hear about it at our meeting.
Second, in view of the tremendous growth in the use of electronic computer networks by blind and sighted computer users alike, we will be putting together a presentation dealing with systems such as CompuServe, Genie, and the Internet.
This being an even numbered year, we will also be electing officers and board members for the Computer Science division. We will also make available time for an exchange of technical views and information. Any one wishing to have additional agenda items added to the program should contact the President of the National Federation of the Blind in Computer Science: Curtis Chong, 3530 Dupont Avenue North, Minneapolis, Minnesota 55412; or Internet, [email protected]
NFB NET Training Seminar
Unless you live under a rock, you have probably heard much talk lately about the so-called National Information Infrastructure or Information Superhighway. We in the National Federation of the Blind have had our own Information Superhighway in the form of NFB NET, our computer bulletin board service, for the past three years.
If you don't know how to use your modem, if you want to learn about off-line reading and QWK packets, or if you want to learn about uploading and downloading files from NFB NET, then you should attend the third annual NFB NET training seminar, which will be held as part of the 1994 NFB National Convention in Detroit, Michigan, on Friday, July 1. The seminar will take place from 1:00 to 5:00 p.m. The exact location will be announced in the pre-convention agenda, which will be available in Detroit.
Topics to be covered will include the basics of telecommunications, calling NFB NET, registering as a user, navigating around the system, and leaving and receiving messages. Other topics to be covered will include uploading and downloading files, locating information, getting the Braille Monitor and other NFB publications, changing your parameters on NFB NET, using off-line readers, and more. There may also be time to discuss other on-line services and bulletin boards which feature things of interest to blind computer users.
Attend the third annual NFB NET Training Seminar and learn how to be among the first to get the Braille Monitor each month and find out about all the late-breaking news that is regularly available on our Information Superhighway. The seminar will feature explanations and real live examples by NFB NET's Systems Operator, David Andrews. All you need to bring is something to take notes with and your questions. See you on the first of July.
[PHOTO/CAPTION: While parents are taking part in a day-long sseminar on Friday, July 1, children at this year's convention have an opportunity to tour the Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village. One ofthe exhibits they will explore is the 1880's Firestone Farm, pictured here.]
The National Organization of Parents of Blind Children
The National Organization of Parents of Blind Children (NOPBC), a Division of the National Federation of the Blind, is once more planning a daylong seminar for parents at the annual NFB Convention. The seminar agenda includes topics that are always appropriate--"Planning Your Child's Individualized Education Program (IEP)" and "How to Choose the Right Technology for Your Child"--as well as some topics never, or seldom, explored in previous national parent seminars--such as "Readers and Drivers: The Other Alternative Techniques" and "Learning Through Play: A Panel Discussion about Toys, Games, Hobbies, Recreation, and Sports." Other subjects on the agenda include "Parents: The Blind Child's First Mobility Teachers" and "From Taking Notes to Taking Out the Trash."
Registration for the seminar will begin at 8:00 a.m. on Friday, July 1. The seminar will begin at 9:00 with the keynote address, "Cheap Mistakes: When Children Need to Fail." The registration fee for the seminar is $8.00 per family for those who wish to join or renew their membership in the NOPBC. The fee is $5.00 per person for those who do not wish to become members. The seminar will conclude at 5:00 p.m.
As usual, a special day-long field trip has been planned for children ages five to twelve. Donna Posont of Michigan is organizing and supervising this year's trip to Greenfield Village. Mrs. Posont is a blind mother; an active member of her local chapter and state NFB affiliate; and an active member, as well, of the Parents of Blind Children Division of Michigan. She has conducted many local field trips and other activities for children for the Michigan parent division. Here is what she has to say about the July 1 field trip:
On Friday, July 1, 1994, children between the ages of five and twelve are invited to take a field trip to Greenfield Village, which is one of the most extraordinary places you can visit. It provides unique educational experiences based on the authentic objects, stories, and lives of America's famous inventors. On this ninety-three-acre outdoor exhibit stand the Wright brothers' bicycle shop; Thomas Edison's Menlo Park laboratory; and the Logan County Courthouse, in which Abraham Lincoln worked as a lawyer. These are not replicas; they are the actual buildings. You will also find a working blacksmith's shop, an 1880's farm, and a 1913 carousel. These are one-of-a-kind exhibits you don't just look at--you experience them! And, because of a contact we have with a member of the Greenfield Village staff, we will have a special guide for our group who will be dressed in Colonial costume and who will explain the exhibits as we examine them. We will gather in the hotel near the parents' seminar room on Friday morning between 8:00 and 9:00 a.m. The price for the trip is $20.00 per child. This includes the cost of transportation and lunch. We will return at 5:00 p.m. or before. Parents will be told Friday morning where to pick up their children in the afternoon.
Since the number of children who can be accommodated for this trip is limited, we urge you to pre-register your children for the Greenfield Village daytrip. Children will be accepted on a first-come, first-served basis. Please contact Donna Posont if you have any questions about the day-trip, if you want more information about pre-registration, or if you have a child with special needs. To pre-register your child or children, send your check for $20.00 per child and the names, ages, and indication of special needs of each youngster, including whether the child is blind or sighted, to Donna Posont. Her contact information is 20812 Ann Arbor Trail, Dearborn Heights, Michigan 48127; phone, (313) 271-3058.
Two other very special workshops for qualified parents, teachers, and other members of the Federation will take place Friday concurrently with the afternoon session of the 1994 National Parents of Blind Children Seminar. These workshops, "Braille Methods" and "The Nature and Nurture of Cane Travel and Independent Movement in the Early Years," will be conducted from 1:00 to 5:00 p.m. These workshops are open to two groups of people: 1) blind adults and parents of blind children who are willing and able to work within their Federation affiliates to use and share their new knowledge for the benefit of others and 2) teachers and others who work professionally with blind children.
The Braille Methods workshop will be conducted by Claudell Stocker, a nationally known Braille expert. The NLS Literary Braille Competency Test was developed under her direction as the former head of the Braille Development Section of the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS). Mrs. Stocker also conducted the very popular "Beginning Braille for Parents" workshops at our last three national conventions. This workshop is an advanced course, however, and all participants must be able to read and write grade II Braille. A maximum of twenty people may register for this workshop.
Joe Cutter, who is both an early childhood specialist and an orientation and mobility instructor, will be conducting the cane travel workshop with the help of Carol Castellano, President of the Parents of Blind Children Division of the NFB of New Jersey, and George Binder, a children's cane travel instructor in New Mexico. Mr. Cutter assisted Fred Schroeder with a cane travel workshop at National Convention a few years ago. He has been a proponent of giving canes to blind preschoolers and even toddlers for many years. The purpose of this workshop is to train participants in the concepts, philosophy, and strategies which undergird the successful nurture of independent movement, confident cane travel, and good orientation and mobility for young blind children. With this knowledge participants will be better able to advocate for quality cane travel and O&M programs for children; and teachers, O&M specialists, and other professionals who attend the workshop will be better prepared to provide these quality programs.
The maximum number of participants in this workshop is fifty. We urge NFB parents divisions and state affiliates to consider sending a representative to this workshop.
To preregister for either of these workshops, send your name, address (including city, state, and zip code), telephone number, and check in the amount of $10.00 made payable to National Organization of Parents of Blind Children to NOPBC Convention Workshops, National Federation of the Blind, 1800 Johnson Street, Baltimore, Maryland 21230. Also please indicate if you are a parent, teacher, or other professional and whether you are blind or sighted. If you are registering for the Braille Workshop, please describe your level of Braille knowledge or experience.
Other activities during the convention will include an opportunity for blind youth to get together for a discussion. This will also take place the afternoon of Friday, July 1. Friday evening NOPBC will sponsor a Parent Hospitality Room in the NFB Camp room from 6:00 to 10:00 p.m. There will be food for everyone (specifics will be announced at the seminar) and plenty of toys and space for the kids to play. Susan Benbow of New Mexico and other teachers and blind adults will be on hand to talk to parents one on one about particular educational concerns. If you wish, they will also demonstrate the use of the slate and stylus or other simple activities to you and your child.
As usual, the annual meeting of NOPBC will also take place during the convention. This year's meeting will be on Sunday afternoon, July 3, from 1:00 to 5:00 p.m. An IEP workshop will also be held for parents on the evening of Monday, July 4, from 7:00 to 10:00 p.m.
Public Employees Division
At 1:00 p.m. Sunday, July 3, the Public Employees Division will meet. This year we will discuss implications of the Administration's National Program Review for blind federal employees.
Specifically, what are the possible consequences for blind employees of down-sizing or, as this administration sometimes says, right-sizing? Will there be layoffs? What will happen to readers? Can we expect continued computer support? A representative from OPM is being invited to discuss this topic.
Two public employees with unusual jobs will describe them. Finally, a representative from the Michigan Human Rights Commission will speak on the ADA and state and local employment. See you in Detroit.
Public Relations Workshop
Could your chapter do more to educate the public about the National Federation of the Blind and the abilities of blind people? Would you like some ideas about effective ways to publicize White Cane Safety Day, Braille Literacy Week, fund- raising activities, and NFB seminars and workshops? Have you ever wished that you knew how to begin doing these jobs right and where to look for help? The answer is the Public Relations Workshop at the 1994 Convention of the National Federation of the Blind. It will begin at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, July 1. Members of the Public Relations Committee will explain how to do radio and television interviews and talk shows, write press materials, give lively and informative talks to civic groups and classes, and even take advantage of community access cable television programming. Don't miss it.
Social Security Seminar
On Tuesday afternoon, July 5, there will be an outreach seminar on Social Security and Supplemental Security Income: What Applicants, Advocates, and Recipients Should Know. The purpose of this seminar, which will be conducted jointly by the National Federation of the Blind and the Social Security Administration, is to provide information on Social Security and Supplemental Security Income benefits for the blind. Seminar presenters will be Sharon Gold, Member of the Board of Directors of the National Federation of the Blind and President of the NFB of California, and J. Kenneth McGill, Special Assistant to the Associate Commissioner for Disability, Office of Disability, Social Security Administration.
Organized in 1982, the Writers Division has as its goal the encouragement of persons who happen to be blind to write. Whether they write novels, short story fiction, letters to the editor, or poetry, the Division offers aspiring and experienced writers the opportunity to express themselves, to showcase their work, and to improve their writing skills.
The Division will conduct a workshop on short story fiction writing and on poetry, concluding with readings of poetry. This workshop will be held on Friday afternoon, July 1. Registration will start at 1:15, the program at 1:30; cost will be $5 per person. Program details are incomplete, and people can call Tom Stevens at (314) 445-6091 evenings or Lori Stayer, (516) 878- 8618, for further details. Pre-registration is available.
In the past year, the Division has attracted two best- selling authors as speakers. Set your cap for a stimulating and rewarding afternoon in the relaxed, informal atmosphere of the Division.
The Division meeting, including a lively agenda of both business and presentations on writing, will be on Sunday afternoon, with registration at 1:15 and starting at 1:30. Watch Slate and Style for further details, or contact the persons above.
[PHOTO/CAPTION: Allen Harris, President of the National Federation of the Blind of Michigan.]
This month's recipes are from the National Federation of the Blind of Michigan, hosts of the 1994 National Convention.
by Sunny Emerson
Sunny Emerson is an active member of the Parents Division of the Michigan affiliate and the National Organization of Parents of Blind Children.
5 boxes, frozen chopped spinach
1 pound feta cheese, crumbled
11/2 pound small curd cottage cheese
12 eggs, well-beaten
2 sticks butter, melted
1 pound phylo Dough (strudel)
Method: Thaw spinach, drain well, and squeeze out all moisture. Beat eggs, then add feta cheese, cottage cheese, spinach, pepper, and a little salt to taste. No salt may be needed since the cheeses are salty. Butter a 12-by-171/2-by-2- inch pan. Line with half of the sheets of dough, each brushed with melted butter before the next is laid on it. Spoon spinach mixture evenly into the dough. Fold overhanging edges onto spinach mixture. Layer the remaining sheets of dough brushed with melted butter to form top of pie. Tuck in the overhanging strips of top crust so that all sides are neat. Before baking, cut pie in diamond shapes. Bake in 350-degree oven one hour or until golden. Makes a lot, freezes well before or after baking.
TURKEY OR CHICKEN DIVAN
by Don Drapinski
Don Drapinski has been a committed member of the National Federation of the Blind since 1982. He has served as President of the Detroit Chapter and is currently serving as First Vice President of that chapter.
4 cups cooked, cubed chicken or turkey
1 bag frozen broccoli cuts (20-ounce)
1 can cream of chicken soup
1/2 soup can of mayonnaise
1/2 soup can of milk
1/2 to 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese (optional)
Method: In a 9-by-13-inch pan, layer the chicken and broccoli. Mix soup, milk, and mayonnaise and spread over broccoli, trying not to leave any exposed. (If you choose to use the cheddar cheese, it should also be mixed with the soup.) Sprinkle top with bread crumbs and bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.
LOW-FAT CHEESE AND PEPPER CALZONES
by Fred and Mary Wurtzel
Fred Wurtzel is the First Vice President of the Michigan affiliate, and Mary is the President of the Lansing Chapter.
6 ounces tofu, well drained
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon ground pepper
4 ounces part-skimmed mozzarella cheese, cubed
1/2 each, red and green bell pepper
11/2 cups flour
2 ounces grated parmesan cheese
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/3 cup margarine
1/2 cup plain yogurt
2 teaspoons skim milk
1/8 teaspoon paprika
Method: Blend tofu, thyme, and pepper. Stir in mozzarella and red and green peppers. For the crust, mix dry ingredients and cut in margarine. Add yogurt. Divide and make four 7-inch circles, Spread each with filling. Seal and brush tops with milk and paprika. Bake on cookie sheet. Poke tops with fork before baking to let steam escape. Bake at 400 degrees for 12 minutes.
FRUIT AND CEREAL BRUNCH CAKE
by Fred and Mary Wurtzel
1 cup Total cereal
1 cup orange juice
1/4 cup oil
2 small bananas, thinly sliced
1/2 cup flour
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup raisins
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
Method: Mix cereal and juice. Let stand two minutes, stir in rest of wet ingredients, then add dry ones. Bake in 8 by 8 pan at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup chopped nuts
1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup oleo, softened
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
Method: Mix all ingredients together and spoon over warm cake. Broil one minute.
CHICKEN AND STUFFING CASSEROLE
by Allen Harris
Allen Harris is Treasurer of the National Federation of the Blind and President of the Michigan affiliate. He and the rest of the affiliate are eagerly awaiting the opportunity to host this year's National Convention.
1 package boneless chicken breasts, cooked & cubed (approximately
1 package Stovetop chicken stuffing mix with its seasoning
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 soup can of water
3 teaspoons butter or oleo
Method: In a 9 by 13 pan, layer the chicken first, then the stuffing and seasoning mix. Spread surface with the undiluted soup. Add water. Cut the butter in thin slices and place on top. Cover tightly with foil or lid and bake 40 minutes at 300 degrees.
by Joy Osmar
Joy Osmar is past President of the Lansing Chapter, current Second Vice President of the Detroit Chapter, and chairperson of the National Convention planning committee.
1 pound box rainbow pasta, cooked and drained
1/4 cup finely chopped green onion
1/2 cup finely chopped cucumber
1/4 cup finely chopped celery
1 envelope Hidden Valley Ranch Original
1 cup milk
1 cup mayonnaise
Method: Mix pasta, green onion, cucumber, and celery. Then refrigerate for at least one hour. For dressing, mix Hidden Valley packet, milk, and mayonnaise and cover. Refrigerate for at least one hour. Combine mixtures and refrigerate for at least one more hour.
by Donna Biro
Donna Biro and her daughter Laura first found the Federation at the 1992 NFB of Michigan convention. Since that time the Biro family have all been active members of the affiliate. Laura was a 1993 winner of both national and state NFB scholarships.
1 bunch broccoli, chopped
1 medium purple onion, chopped
5 slices bacon, fried crisp and crumbled
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
3/4 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons dark vinegar
Method: Toss all non-dressing ingredients. Mix dressing ingredients well and combine with broccoli mixture.
CHICKEN OR TURKEY KABOBS
by Larry Posont
Larry Posont is a long time Federationist and immediate Past President of the NFB Merchants Division.
2 pounds skinless chicken or turkey breast
1 bottle Italian dressing (regular size)
1 large green pepper
1 large onion
8 ounces whole mushrooms
10 kabob sticks
Method: Two days prior to cooking, pound meat approximately 20 times on each side. Cut in bite size chunks and marinate in the dressing. Stir twice each day. Cut onion and green pepper in chunks. Thread chunks of chicken, pepper, onion, and mushrooms on the kabob sticks in any order. Depending on how much chicken you have, this recipe will make 8 to 12 kabobs. Preheat gas grill 10 minutes. Cook on low, turn every 4 to 5 minutes. Takes 10 to 14 minutes to cook to completion. Serve with rice. For variety, cherry tomatoes can also be used on the kabob sticks. Instead of Italian dressing, experiment with any of the variety of marinades and sauces found in fruit markets and specialty stores. Barbecue sauce can also be used.
LOW-FAT PUMPKIN MUFFINS
by Donna Posont
Donna Posont is also a long-time Federationist, is very active in both the Merchants Division and the Parents Division, and is the resident child care expert for Michigan state conventions.
1 large can pumpkin
1 1/3 cups grated carrots
2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons vanilla
3/4 cup sugar
1-1/2 cups whole wheat flour
2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons pumpkin pie spice
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/3 cup raisins (optional)
1 cup nuts (optional)
Method: Mix pumpkin, eggs, vanilla, and sugar. Add carrots and milk and mix. Add dry ingredients and mix. Add raisins and nuts. Bake in muffin tins and paper cupcake liners for 30 minutes at 350 degrees. Makes approximately 3 dozen.
** For Sale:
We have been asked to carry the following announcement:
Swan 500C with matching power supply/speaker, RF filter, Turner hand-held microphone, approximately 50 feet of RG8U coaxial cable, and owner's manual; asking $300 or best offer, includes shipping and insurance.
LP's and pre-recorded tapes from the '50's through the '80's, $3 each, includes shipping and insurance. I will negotiate price if the rest of my collection is being considered for purchase. For more information, contact (through Braille, print, or cassette) Barry Wood, 6904 Bergenwood Avenue, North Bergen, New Jersey 07047; or call (201) 868-3336, evenings and weekends.
We have received the following announcement from the Royal National Institute for the Blind. Here it is:
RNIB will, from February, 1994, begin producing Conundrum, a monthly magazine containing a wide range of puzzles and brain teasers. The 48-page Braille magazine will also feature a prize competition in each month, with an occasional special prize of considerable value. The range of puzzles will include crosswords, anagrams, word searches, general knowledge, and logic puzzles.
We hope that customers will suggest their favorite type of puzzle for inclusion in the magazine and that we will be able to offer topical crosswords chosen by customers from time to time.
If you require further information or would like to order Conundrum, please contact RNIB's Customer Services Department at Bakewell Road, Orton Southgate, Peterborough PE2 6WS in writing or by phone on: 07-3-337-0777 from 8:45 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Editor's Note: It should be remembered that British time is five hours ahead of eastern standard time.
** New Chapters:
We are happy to report the creation of two new chapters in the Federation family. On Tuesday evening, February 15, 1994, the Greater Batesburg-Leesville Chapter became the forty-second Chapter of the National Federation of the Blind of South Carolina. Its newly elected officers are Cynthia Bass, President; Harvey Cockrell, Vice President; Angela Senn, Secretary; and Sylvester Holmes, Treasurer. Then on Saturday, February 19, the National Federation of the Blind of Southeast Ohio was created by an enthusiastic group in Athens, Ohio. The officers are Dr. John Smith, President; Brenda Blake, Vice President; Helen Witherell, Secretary; Tom Sagar, Treasurer; and James Witherell, Board Member. Congratulations to the members of both these new chapters.
** Study Buddy Needed:
We have been asked to carry the following announcement:
I am having trouble passing lesson fourteen of the National Library Service proofreading and Braille transcription course. I wonder if someone else who is taking the course would be interested in having a study buddy.
I also have two items for sale. The first is a taped copy of the American Heritage Dictionary with recorded instructions and tape-storage binder. The set is in excellent condition. I am asking $150 or best offer. I also have a Dymo labeling tape adapter for use on the Perkins Brailler. There are no instructions with it, but it is easy to use. I can explain its operation over the telephone if necessary. I am asking $25. Contact Ronald C. Kolesar, 9910 East Peach Street, P.O. Box 102, Girard, Pennsylvania 16417-0102: Phone, (814) 774-5709.
** Arkenstone First Reader Program Available:
We have been asked to carry the following announcement:
Arkenstone, Inc., has announced the availability of a complete reading machine for under $1400. With the First Reader Program, blind people can obtain a complete reading system or can acquire components to add to their existing products.
Through its upgrade programs Arkenstone has accumulated a limited number of previously used Arkenstone Reader systems. These systems have been reconditioned and are available for reuse. "Most reading systems cost between $4,000 and $6,000. Many people who never thought it possible to purchase a reading machine will now have the opportunity to read," said Jim Fruchterman, president. He continued, "Arkenstone's nonprofit goal is to spread reading technology to the people who need it. The First Reader Program makes systems available at low cost directly to people with disabilities who would otherwise not be able to afford this type of technology."
The following products are available under the First Reader Program:
* The Complete First Reader, including a PC, voice synthesizer, screen access program, and Arkenstone reader with reconditioned scanner and hardware - $1,375
* The Complete First Reader with the above configuration and a new HP IIp scanner - $1,875
* Arkenstone Reader with reconditioned scanner - $500
* Arkenstone HOT Reader with reconditioned scanner - $700
* Arkenstone Reader with new HP IIp scanner - $1,000
* Arkenstone HOT Reader with new HP IIp scanner - $1,200
A limited number of systems are available, and the units are available on a first-come, first-served basis. The program limits purchases to one system per person or organization. Interested people should contact Arkenstone directly.
Arkenstone provides a thirty-day, money-back guarantee and one-year warranty for units purchased. Support will be provided through Arkenstone's toll-free 800 number, regular phone lines, facsimile or electronic mail. Service replacements will be made by ground shipping at Arkenstone's expense.
Arkenstone is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to distributing reading technology to the people who need it. Products are distributed in the U.S. and abroad by a network of more than eighty dealers who are experienced in providing computers and adaptive equipment for the visually impaired. Arkenstone also provides information and technical support directly to people with disabilities through its 800 number, which supports all of the U.S. and Canada. Arkenstone, Inc., is located at 1390 Borregas Ave., Sunnyvale, California 94089; (800) 444-4443, (408) 752-2200; or FAX (408) 745-6739.
[PHOTO/DESCRIPTION: Aerial view of meeting of Resolutions Committee and some of audience in attendance. CAPTION: The 1993 Resolutions Committee.]
** Making Resolutions:
President Maurer provides the following reminder to members of the National Federation of the Blind:
The streamlined resolutions process adopted by the Board of Directors for managing resolutions at the 1993 convention will continue in effect for the 1994 convention. The basic nature of the resolutions process will not change, but the Board of Directors has taken steps to see that the process is streamlined.
Any member may sponsor a resolution, but it must be in the hands of the President or the chairman of the Resolutions Committee at least two weeks prior to the convention. Resolutions which have not been given to either the President or the Chairman may come before the Resolutions Committee only if they have been signed by at least three members of the Resolutions Committee and have been placed in the hands of the Committee chairman or the President before noon of the day that the Resolutions Committee first meets. Resolutions which receive favorable consideration by the Committee will come to the convention for consideration and action. Those that do not will not come to the convention floor unless five of the voting delegates from the states indicate that those five states will sponsor the resolutions.
In the past the resolutions presented to the Committee have sometimes been redrafted by Committee members. The Resolutions Committee will no longer be assisting in the drafting process. Resolutions must be presented to the Committee in final written form. The only changes which will be made after presentation to the Committee will be technical or grammatical.
Ramona Walhof of Idaho Chairs this committee. Her address and phone number are: 1301 South Capitol Boulevard, Suite C, Boise, Idaho 83706-2926; phone (208) 343-1377. The first meeting of the Resolutions Committee will be held at the convention in Detroit at 1:30 Saturday afternoon, July 2, 1994. The meeting room will be listed in the program, which you will receive at registration. There will be other meetings of the committee throughout the convention as needed. This is one of the most important committees of the Federation. It considers and proposes the resolutions which set the policy of our organization.
Although the agenda has not yet been finalized, most (perhaps all) of the Thursday general convention session will be taken up with discussion of resolutions and other internal business. We must allow opportunity for full and thorough deliberation, and this seems the best way to do it.
Sometimes a resolution is given to the Chairman of the committee, and no one is present to explain why the resolution is needed. This leads to confusion and time wasting. Therefore, it is essential that someone be present who can speak on behalf of the resolution.
The resolutions passed by the convention are the statements of policy which determine the actions and direction of the organization for the following year. This is why it is vitally important that the resolutions receive serious attention and that adequate time be allotted for their discussion and debate.
** For Sale:
We have been asked to carry the following announcement:
I have for sale a Compaq 286 IBM-compatible computer with Votalker internal synthesizer and PC Talk Enhanced speech software. The cost is $700. If interested, contact Donna Simms after 6:00 p.m. (Pacific time) at (818) 902-0223.
** Home Study Course on the Catholic Faith Available:
We have been asked to carry the following announcement:
Would you like to know more about God and serving Him through the Catholic faith? A free home study course is available in ten cassette tapes. Please refer to it as "Our Second Edition." These lessons are taken from the Paulist Fathers home study course and have optional questions and answers for each lesson. We invite you to send for lesson one on cassette tape by contacting Catholic Inquiry for the Blind, 228 N. Walnut St., Lansing, Michigan 48933; or call (517) 342-2500.
** National Church Conference of the Blind:
We have been asked to carry the following announcement:
The 1994 National Church Conference of the Blind will be held from July 24 to 29 at the Holiday Inn Airport in Birmingham, Alabama. In addition to Bible studies, enjoy talent time, singing, seminars, tours, exhibits, banquet, and a wonderful time of Christian fellowship. For further information contact Frank Finkenbinder, P.O. Box 163, Denver, Colorado 80201; or call (303) 455-3430.
** French Braille Club Seeking Penpals:
We have been asked to carry the following announcement:
Twenty-five sighted boys and girls between twelve and fifteen years of age, members of the Braille Writing Club, would like to correspond in Braille with visually impaired children about their ideas, music, or other subjects and to establish amicable links. Subscription is free. Send only a letter to present oneself in print or Braille to Mrs. Bretelle, College Les Molires, Club Braille, 78690 Les Essarts Le Roi, FRANCE.** Braille Materials Available:
We have been asked to carry the following announcement:
I have materials available in specific subject areas including training and development, course evaluation, organizational development, and team-leader training in industrial settings. These free materials are available in Braille and may be obtained by contacting Justin McDevitt at (612) 823-0405 after 5:00 p.m.
** Into Every Life a Little R.A.I.N. Should Fall:
We have been asked to carry the following announcement:
The Radio Amateur Information Network, RAIN, is unique in the world of amateur radio. Its bimonthly publication, The RAIN Journal, is a tone-indexed, 90-minute cassette magazine containing actual interviews with the movers and shakers in ham radio, along with taped excerpts from information forums held each year during the Dayton Hamvention. In addition there are thought-provoking columns, written and read exclusively for RAIN, plus humorous, thoughtful anecdotes carefully selected from packet radio.
The RAIN Journal is produced by Hap Holly/KC9RP, a blind ham known for his RAIN Dialup, which updates Fridays at (708) 827- RAIN (7246) and is heard weekly on repeaters nationwide via telephone and satellite. This publication will be of special interest to the blind ham radio enthusiast, whose access to print ham publications is often quite limited.
A one-year subscription costs $12, $2 per issue. For an additional $5, subscribers will receive a Hansa Plastics Free Matter mailer, laminated address card, and one ninety-minute cassette. The subscriber can recycle that tape or send a replacement one if he or she wishes to build a permanent RAIN library. Checks or money orders should be made payable to RAIN and sent to RAIN, P.O. Box 2565, Des Plaines, Illinois 60017- 2565. A demo tape is available on request by sending a free matter mailer with a note to the above address. In your note please let RAIN know that you read about it here.
** For Sale:
We have been asked to carry the following announcement:
For sale, Artic Business Vision speech package, asking $700; VersaBraille P2C classic, needs repair, $500 or best offer; man's Braille quartz wrist watch, needs repair, free. If interested, contact Doug Rose, 207 Dickenson Ave., Newbury Park, California 91230; or call (805) 499-8377, Pacific time zone.
** Representatives Needed:
We have been asked to carry the following announcement:
Raymond and Beth Graber, members of the NFB, are representatives for Seeing Technologies, Inc. Their products include CCTV's (both side-by-side and Inline), black and white with 12 to 27-inch monitors; custom-built height-adjustable table on wheels; See-PC-Vision, an add-on board for IBM and compatibles that enables PC owners to turn their computers into full-screen CCTV reading machines for the visually impaired by adding a video camera; and Magic computer-screen-enlarging software. They presently have twelve visually impaired representatives and are looking for more. Following are areas in which jobs would be open: Baltimore/Washington, D.C., area; upstate New York; South Carolina; Georgia; Washington; Oregon; Idaho; Indiana; and Michigan.
To inquire call 1 (800) 462-3738 and ask for Gary Domstrand, President. All correspondence should be sent to Seeing Technologies, Inc., 7074 Brooklyn Blvd., Minneapolis, MN 55429; or FAX (612) 560-0663.
** Book Available:
The following brief review appeared in the January 29, 1994 issue of Science News. Dr. Geerat Vermeij is a distinguished marine biologist who addressed the 1988 convention of the National Federation of the Blind. He continues to build a remarkable career. Monitor readers will remember that he received the prestigious MacArthur prize in 1992. Here is the review:
Rather than list types of shells, Geerat J. Vermeij investigates what shells can tell us about biology. In his book, A Natural History of Shells, he notes that shells are fossils inscribed with a detailed record of events that mark the lives of mollusks as they grow. The author examines the architecture, adaptation, distribution, and history of shells and shows how the natural environment alters their evolutionary course. Princeton University Press, 1993, 207 pp., hardcover, $29.95. To order by Visa or MasterCard, call 1 (800) 544-4565. In the D.C. area call (202) 331-6953.
** Correspondents Wanted:
We have been asked to carry the following announcement:
I would like to hear from people interested in starting a crocheters' corner. I would also be interested in personal pen pals. I am thirty-six years old and a Christian. My hobbies are crocheting, knitting, doll collecting, and cooking. I will accept letters only in Braille. Contact: Donna Jean Webb, 1106 North Olive Street, Gladewater, Texas 75647.
** Experimental Procedures:
President Maurer prepared the following announcement about experimental procedures which are being tested in the aids, appliances, and materials department of the National Federation of the Blind. Because of the volume of orders this department now receives, we are trying to organize the work of providing these items more efficiently. Calls will be taken for aids, appliances, and materials from 12:00 noon until the end of business. These calls will not be taken before noon unless there is an emergency. This will enable the staff to handle the mail orders, pack materials, and process the paperwork associated with them as well as perform other duties in the department during the morning hours. These procedures should speed the delivery process and make obtaining aids, appliances, and materials more efficient. This experiment is likely to save us money while it increases the speed and efficiency with which we fill and ship orders. So remember, those wishing to place telephone orders should contact the Aids, Appliances, and Materials Center between 12:00 noon and the end of business, eastern time.