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The Braille Monitor – February, 2001 Edition


Monitor Miniatures


2001 Convention Scholarships Available:

Allen Harris, Chairman of the NFB's Jernigan Fund Committee, writes to announce the criteria for the 2001 Kenneth Jernigan Philadelphia Convention Scholarships. The following factors will be considered when awarding these twelve convention scholarships:

--Previous convention attendance (preference given to first-time attendees)

--Activity at the local, state, or national level

--Recommendation from the state president (formal letter not required; we will contact him or her)

--Amount of assistance requested

--Other sources of funding sought

When applying for a convention scholarship, please write a brief paragraph about why you wish to attend the convention. Submit your application letter and statement to Allen Harris, 4 1/2 Garden Alley, Albany, New York 12210 by April 15, 2001. Recipients will be notified on or about June 1. If you have questions about this program, call Allen Harris at (518) 436‑7867.

Win an Expense-Paid Trip to the 2002 Convention in Louisville:

The Jernigan Fund Committee will conduct a drawing again this year for a lucky pair of people to attend the 2002 convention with all expenses paid! A limited number of tickets will be in the hands of state presidents and ready for sale by April 1. Don Morris is chairing the Drawing Committee this year. Questions may be directed to him at 16547 Old Emmitsburg Road, Emmitsburg, Maryland 21727-8927, phone (301) 447-6380 The drawing will take place during the banquet on July 6 in Philadelphia. You need not be present to win.

Three New Magazines to Be Recorded

We have been asked to carry the following announcement:

Associated Services for the Blind announces that it is adding three more magazines to its inventory of recorded magazines: the Family Handyman, the Oprah Magazine, and monthly selections from the New Yorker magazine. Each magazine will be $36 per year. To add your name to the list, contact Recorded Periodicals, Associated Services for the Blind, 919 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19107, or call (215) 627-0600, extension 3206.

For Sale:

Zoomtext V.5 screen magnification for computer plus WordPerfect in a Compaq 486 computer with monitor and keyboard, mouse, and manuals. Asking $400. Call Steve Waltke at (517) 347-7046.


The St. Louis Chapter of the NFB of Missouri announces its new officers. They are Rhonda Dycus, President; Loretta Boavidez, Vice President; Kathy McCracken, Recording Secretary; Brian Schultz, Treasurer; Kerry Smith, Corresponding Secretary; and Delores Watson, Member at Large.

Magazine on Tape:

We have been asked to carry the following announcement:

WeMedia Inc. has recently partnered with the Jewish Guild for the Blind to provide WeMedia magazine on audiotape for people who are blind and visually impaired. You may order the November/December issue by calling (212) 769-6233. For further information contact Caryn Kaufman, Director of Communications, WeMedia, Inc., (646) 769-2837/TTY: (212) 375-6235, e-mail: <[email protected]>. Contact Peter Williamson, Director of Communications, the Jewish Guild for the Blind, (212) 769-6237, e-mail: <[email protected]>.


The Greater Orlando Chapter of the NFB of Florida has elected new officers. They are Jerry Heichelbeck, President; Paulette Gordon, Vice President; Leol Williams, Secretary; Ruth Heichelbeck, Treasurer; and Marilyn Baldwin, Evelyn Dawursk, and Katie Hicks, Board Members.

Nathaniel Wales
Nathaniel Wales


On October 28, 2000, Nathanael Wales (a 1997 NFB Scholarship winner, a 2000 tenBroek Fellow, and a young leader of the NFB of California, passed the Engineer in Training examination, the preliminary step to taking the Professional Engineer license examination. It is the first licensure examination taken by civil engineers in the United States. After four years of full-time work, passing a second examination, and obtaining the Professional Engineer license, licensed civil engineers can advance in civil-service positions and in the private sector.

Working with the detailed advice of NFB leaders, Nathanael successfully negotiated with the State of California's testing agency to use readers of his choice to take the exam. Nathanael attributes his success as much to the work of the National Federation of the Blind's efforts to ensure the right of blind examinees to readers of their choice as to his own hard work.

Congratulations to Nathanael and to all of our student members who continue to push for necessary and sensible reforms in academic and licensure testing.

New Chapter:

            The Kitsap County Chapter of the NFB of Washington was formed on September 30, 2000. The officers are Ivan Weich, President; Sharon Maalis, Vice President; and Jessamyn Ladby, Secretary/Treasurer. Congratulations to this new chapter in the NFB family.

Braille Fortune Cookies Available:

We have been asked to carry the following announcement:

Lucky Touch Fortune Cookie Company is a student-operated business specializing in special order Braille and large-print fortune cookies. The company can customize your order to fit your event, whether it's a birthday, anniversary, convention, holiday, wedding, etc. Place your order by phone. If items are in stock, allow two weeks from the receipt of payment. Customized orders require a week longer. To order, contact Lucky Touch advisor Judith Lesner, (510) 794-3800, extension 300; fax: (510) 794-3813; 500 Walnut Avenue, Fremont, California 94536.

Joe Ruffalo Carol Castellano
Joe Rufallo
Carol Castellano


We are pleased to announce that Joe Ruffalo, President of the NFB of New Jersey, received the Partner for Progress Award as part of the recent New Jersey Commission for the Blind and Visually Impaired's ninetieth-anniversary celebration. Carol Castellano, President of New Jersey's Parents of Blind Children Division, was the recipient of the Mary O'Donnell Advocacy Award. Each honoree was inducted into the Believe and Achieve Hall of Fame and was presented with a plaque. The awards were presented at a gala awards banquet, the culmination of a two-day ninetieth-anniversary conference held at Harrah's Hotel in Atlantic City, which featured workshops and exhibits. Joe and Carol were also workshop presenters, with Joe speaking on taking the initiative in a job search and helping blind teens achieve independence and Carol on the importance of Braille to blind students. Congratulations to Joe and Carol.


The Kansas City Chapter of the NFB of Missouri has elected new officers. They are Ruby Polk, President; Sheila Wright, First Vice President; Willa Patterson, Second Vice President; Alice Hebert, Secretary; Jeremiah Wells, Treasurer; and Samual Baldwin and Robert Gehlmeyer, Board Members.

Robert and Liane Reese
Robert and Liane Reese

Wedding Bells:

We are delighted to report that Liane Surbrook, who directs the Materials Center at the National Center for the Blind, and Robert Reese were married on December 30, 2000. One of the memorable aspects of the ceremony was that the Rev. Melvin Ray, who is himself a longtime Center staff member, performed the wedding. Congratulations and best wishes to the Reeses.

New Chapter:

Sioux Falls, South Dakota, is the home of the newly formed Falls Chapter. The officers are Mike Klimisch, President; Brian Dokken, Secretary; and Jeanette Stadfeld, Treasurer. We congratulate the members on becoming the fifth chapter in the South Dakota affiliate.

ADA Debate Update:

We recently received a press release from the ABA Journal summarizing current issues being debated concerning the Americans with Disabilities Act. Since the ADA affects the lives of all blind Americans and since the ADA Notification Act will be introduced again this session, we thought it might be useful to reprint most of the release. Remember that the NFB records the ABA Journal as a service to those interested in reading the publication. To subscribe, Contact NABL President Scott LaBarre, (303) 504-5979 or e-mail, <[email protected]>. The cost is $5 a year for students and $10 for others.


Press Release:

The Americans with Disabilities Act was passed in 1990 mandating that public places be made accessible to disabled citizens. A decade later proposed changes to the act promise to enhance it--or threaten to defang it, depending on whom you ask. The debate surrounding these proposed changes to the ADA is the subject of an article in the December, 2000, issue of the ABA Journal.

According to the Journal, the most prominent of the current proposals to amend the act is the ADA Notification Act, which would mandate that no one could sue a business for violating the ADA unless they notify the business in writing or in person of the alleged violation and then wait ninety days before filing suit. Lawyers who file suit prematurely would be sanctioned, and plaintiffs who violate the ninety-day notice requirement would be prevented from collecting attorney fees, even if they win the case. "This bill would allow small business owners to be made aware that they might be out of compliance before they have to hire an attorney and be forced to settle," Scott Vinson, policy analyst for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, told the Journal. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce supports the measure. Former U.S. Attorney General Richard Thornburgh, an ADA supporter since its inception, told the Journal that disability advocates should consider agreeing to the ninety-day notice period, if for no other reason than good public relations. "As a practical matter, most suits cannot be prepared and filed within ninety days, anyway," he said.

But according to the Journal article, not everyone agrees that the amendment is a good idea. James Carr, chair of the ABA Commission on Mental and Physical Disability Law, told the Journal about his concerns. "I worry that this amendment as proposed would reward delay and penalize people who are proactive about enforcing the ADA." John Kemp, vice president of the disability resource Web site <Halftheplanet.com>, says the ninety-day notice period is unnecessary because the ADA's requirements have been clear since the law was passed ten years ago. Business owners have already received sufficient notice of the statute's requirements, he told the Journal.

The ADA Notification Act isn't the only proposed change stirring up debate. In the past year a handful of other measures have been proposed to amend the act--and according to the Journal article this fact has some disability activists concerned. They fear that amending the act would open the floodgates for numerous business-friendly changes that would erode its landmark protections.

According to the Journal article an upcoming ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court may also have wide-ranging impact on the law. In October the court heard oral arguments in the case of University of Alabama v. Garrett, No. 99-1240, which asks whether the ADA applies to state governments. The plaintiff, an employee of the University of Alabama, was demoted upon her return to work after receiving treatment for breast cancer. Alabama argues that the Eleventh Amendment protects states from being sued in federal court for violating the ADA. A decision in the case is not expected before spring.

According to the Journal disability activists are concerned that the Court may continue its recent trend toward exempting states from federal laws and rule in favor of the school. Such a ruling, activists fear, could allow states to ignore the ADA in matters of employment as well as in the treatment of the disabled in state institutions and with regard to accessibility on municipal and state-owned property. The Journal reports that the American Bar Association has filed a friend-of-the-court brief arguing that the ADA protects fundamental constitutional rights and is therefore applicable to states.

Still many would welcome measures that would curb the ADA's reach. "The way the law is now, it benefits no one but the class action trial attorneys, who file suits in hopes of getting quick settlements out of cornered business owners," Vinson told the Journal. He also argues that the ADA is filled with technical requirements that many small-business owners should not be expected to decipher and implement. He cites examples such as exact heights of restroom grab bars and inclines on wheelchair ramps. It is yet to be seen whether a workable balance between the rights of the disabled and the cost of compliance for businesses can eventually be reached, but as the Journal article demonstrates, ADA enforcement will remain a contentious issue for the time being.



I pledge to participate actively in the effort of the National Federation of the Blind to achieve equality, opportunity, and security for the blind; to support the policies and programs of the Federation; and to abide by its constitution.

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