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The Braille Monitor,  August/September 2001 EditionThis is a line.

Convention Miniatures

Ordering Braille Is Beautiful:

Those who attended the convention learned that "Braille Is Beautiful" is a Braille-literacy-awareness project developed by the Federation with financial support from the Annie E. Casey and UPS foundations. The objective is to educate sighted youth and their families about Braille and the capabilities of blind people. You can order this program through the NFB Materials Center in either of the following forms:

The "Braille Is Beautiful" Video Set contains two videos designed for shorter presentations to schools and civic groups. It includes the NFB video, That the Blind May Read, and a new video, Jake and the Secret Code, an engaging video depicting a mother and her ten-year-old son (both sighted) visiting the National Center for the Blind. While there, the two get separated, and the boy's adventures expand his and his mother's understanding of Braille and blind people. The set also includes a discussion guide, available in print and Braille, a slate and stylus for demonstrations, and a Braille alphabet card, all packaged in an attractive case. This set sells for $100, plus shipping.

The "Braille Is Beautiful" Curriculum Program consists of structured experiential learning activities for use in grades four through six. The program consists of five learning units outlined in a Teacher's Guide. They introduce basic Braille and accurate information about blindness. The program, packaged in one sturdy box, includes the Video Set, six slates and styluses, Braille alphabet cards, Braille paper, Kernel Books, a resource guide, student workbooks, instructions for a service learning project, Braille labeling sheets, and the complete Teacher's Guide. Pilot versions of "Braille Is Beautiful" conducted in public school classes this spring demonstrated that this program easily inspires and engages students.

Learning formats within this curriculum include large- and small-group work, fact sheets, quizzes, interactive games, and applied projects. Topics covered include biographies of famous blind people, frequently asked questions from kids about blindness, adaptive technology used by the blind, history of Braille, uses of Braille in daily life, learning to read and write Braille, story writing, and a service project beneficial to the blind.

The cost of the full curriculum program is $350, plus shipping. "Braille Is Beautiful" promotional brochures are also available from the NFB Materials Center.

To order either version, contact the NFB Materials Center at e-mail: <[email protected]>, fax: (410) 685-5653, or phone: (410) 659-9314. Be prepared to give a credit card number or prepay by check made payable to National Federation of the Blind in the amount either of $110 for the videos only or $360 for the entire curriculum. These prices include shipping. Braille is beautiful; let's spread the word!

Election Results:

A number of NFB divisions have reported the outcome of elections conducted during their annual meetings at the 2001 convention. Here are the results we have received:

National Association of Blind Merchants:

Division President Kevan Worley reports that reelected to two year terms on the division's Board of Directors were Kim Williams and Nick Gacos. Also elected to two year terms were Robert Vick and Lorraine Magnussen. Check out the division's brand new Website <www.blindmerchants.org>.

The NFB Diabetes Action Network:

Elected July 3, 2001 were president, Ed Bryant (Missouri); First Vice President, Eric Woods (Colorado); Second Vice President, Sandie Addy (Arizona); Treasurer, Bruce Peters (Ohio); Secretary, Dawnelle Cruze (Virginia); and Board Members Gisela Distel (Hoskinson), (New York), Paul Price (California), and Sally York (California). We are sorry to report that on July 23 Gisela Distal suffered a serious heart attack.

The National Organization of Parents of Blind Children:

The Board remains the same this year except that Marla Palmer (Utah) replaces Samual Baldwin (Missouri) as a member-at-large.

The National Association of Blind Entrepreneurs:

The officers for the coming year are Marie Cobb, President; Paul Gabias, First Vice President; Barbara Esposito, Second Vice President; Billie Ruth Schlank, Secretary; Jim Bonerbo, Treasurer; Alice Gosse and Gerald Griggs, two-year Board Members; and Robert Jaquiss and Al Morgan, one-year Board Members.

The division voted to establish a registry of blind entrepreneurs. If you are interested in being listed on the registry, contact Marie Cobb at (410) 644-6352 or e-mail: <[email protected]>.

The National Association of Blind Musicians:

Officers elected at the 2001 convention are Linda Mentink, President; Deborah Brown, First Vice President; Karen McDonald, Second Vice President; Mary Donahue, Secretary; and Bea Hodgkiss, Treasurer.

The National Association of Blind Rehabilitation Professionals:

At the 2001 annual convention the National Association of Blind Rehabilitation Professionals elected the following officers: President, Shawn Mayo (Minnesota); First Vice President, Vickie Chapman (New Mexico); Second Vice President, Carlos Servan (Nebraska); Secretary, Chris McKenzie (Arkansas); Treasurer, Shelia Wright (Missouri); and Board Members Tony Lewis (California), Brian Bashin (California), Noel Nightingale (Washington), and Jane Lansaw (Nebraska).

Check us out in Louisville, and see how we are changing what it means to work in the rehabilitation industry.

The National Association of Blind Students:

At the 2001 convention the following officers were elected to serve: Angela Wolf, President; Jason Ewell, First Vice President; Thomas Philip, Second Vice President; Brooke Sexton, Treasurer; Kimberly Aguillard, Secretary; and Rod Barker, Robin House, Stacy Cervenka, and Allison Hilliker, Board Members.

The National Association of the Blind in Communities of Faith:

The new officers are Robert Parrish, President; Linda Mentink, Vice President; Kathy McGillivray, Secretary; Maureen Pranghofer, Treasurer; and Priscilla Ferris, the Rev. Sam Gleese, Nicole Gleason, and John Boyer, Board Members.

The Human Services Division:

The new officers are Julie Deden, President; Marie Kouthoofd, Vice President; Debi Delorey, Secretary; Douglas Elliott, Treasurer; and Stewart Prost and Melissa Lehman, Board Members.

Tell the world who we are with NFB information placards
Tell the world who we are with NFB information placards.

NFB Information Placards for Sale:

We have been asked to carry the following announcement:

The Lorain County chapter of the National Federation of the Blind of Ohio created five full-color, eight-and-a-half-by-eleven table placards to sell at the convention. They are suitable for identifying an NFB display or information table. These signs will give a professional look to any display. The topics are NFB, Braille, NEWSLINE, parents of blind children, and blind seniors. The set of five costs $20. You can buy the NFB placard only for $5. For your convenience we can also provide a plastic easel for displaying one placard at a cost of $10. Most office supply stores also sell these easels, but they are usually more expensive. Add $2 to cover the cost of mailing placards only or $7 if you want an easel as well. Make checks payable to NFB of Ohio. Send checks to Sherry Ruth, 6922 Murray Ridge Road, Elyria, Ohio 44035, phone: (440) 324-4218, e-mail: <[email protected]>.

Pennsylvania T-Shirts Still Available:

The National Federation of the Blind of Pennsylvania has a limited number of T-shirts left from the convention. These shirts show the skyline of Philadelphia with fireworks bursting above, the Liberty Bell, the NFB logo, and rowers on the Schuylkill River. The words "Philly fun in 2001" complete the design. The shirts picture is done in five colors on an off white background. They are available only in adult small, adult extra large, and adult 2XL. If interested, send $12 plus $3 for postage and handling to the NFB of Pennsylvania, 42 S. 15th Street, Suite 222, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19002. Make checks payable to the NFB of Pennsylvania, and be sure to indicate which size you want and where we should send your T-shirt.

Among the Missing:

Among those missing from the convention this year were Brian and Priscilla McKinley Miller, one of our true Federation couples. Both Brian and Priscilla have been tenBroek Fellows in the NFB Scholarship Program, and both have been active leaders in the National Association of Blind Students, where they met, and in the NFB of Iowa. They were not able to be with us in Philadelphia, however, because on June 11 Priscilla received a new and very much needed kidney, which was donated by Brian. They report that they are still moving slowly but feeling good, Priscilla much better than she has felt in years. Our best wishes for a speedy and complete recovery go to both Priscilla and Brian.

Proposed Travel and Tourism Division:

Stephanie Scott of Georgia writes to say: "During the convention President Maurer spoke with me about an idea to start a new division titled the Travel and Tourism Division. I suggested this division to Dr. Maurer because I enjoy traveling and discovered that many other blind people enjoy it as well. If you are blind and enjoy traveling, become a member of the Travel and Tourism Division. Contact Stephanie Scott at (404)763-1551 or by e-mail at <[email protected]>."

Plan Ahead:

The South Fulton Chapter of the National Federation of the Blind of Georgia is sponsoring a bus trip to the 2002 NFB Convention in Louisville, Kentucky. If Atlanta is on your way to the convention next summer, you might want to look into hitching a ride with the chapter. Everyone is welcome while the seats last. A donation of $100 will cover round-trip bus accommodations, refreshments to and from Kentucky, and admission to an after party following the NFB Banquet. A $50 non-refundable deposit is due by October 1, 2001. For more details call Stephanie Scott, President, at (404)763-1551.

Ted Young, March 2, 1942 to June 29, 2001
Ted Young, March 2, 1942 to June 29, 2001

In Memoriam:

NFB of Pennsylvania President Jim Antonacci wrote the following tribute to Ted Young, the longtime leader of the Pennsylvania affiliate.I first met Ted Young in 1990 when he invited me to attend an NFB chapter meeting. Prior to that time the only blind people I knew seemed to be timid, retiring, and somehow small. At about six foot four inches, Ted surely did not fit that mold. In fact, one person described him as "larger than life." Whenever Ted entered a room, everyone knew it.

He was loud and boisterous with an almost unparalleled love of life. He was a workaholic who expertly juggled the needs of the NFB of Pennsylvania, his wife Eileen, his daughter Susan, and his business. Ted first joined the NFB in the late 1960's and is the author of many of the protest songs which we sing today. In fact, many were actually written on picket lines. If you wanted to find Ted, you did not look in an office behind a desk but where the work was being done. Invariably he was the first to arrive at a work site and the last to leave.

Whether we were folding and stapling newsletters or relaxing with a beer at one of Ted's infamous Labor-Day parties, there was always talk of past accomplishments, current trends, and future expectations, as well as songs and stories. He was always able to offer hope and enlightenment where it was needed. He had faith in our abilities and offered encouragement when we doubted ourselves. An example of this occurred in 1999 when, having been NFB of Pennsylvania President himself for eleven years, he suggested that I run for the office with his support in the November election. He told stories about Dr. Jernigan and often commented that he wished we all could have known him. But more than all of this, Ted made us feel special. He helped us to achieve full independence and learn for ourselves that it was ok to be blind.

Ted was diagnosed with small cell cancer only days after returning home from the 2000 National Convention in Atlanta. He underwent chemotherapy, and as recently as last February we dared to hope that he had won the battle. Unfortunately, the cancer had actually spread, and there was little hope for recovery. Ted, however, fought until the very end. He reviewed plans for the 2001 convention in Philadelphia and made phone calls to arrange for baseball tickets and help to secure funding for the grand prize of $1776 at the banquet. Every one of us in the NFB of Pennsylvania wanted Ted to be well enough to attend even one day of the convention, but it was not to be. He died the day before we attended the ball game for which he had arranged tickets.

I believe Ted was present at the convention in each of us who had known him. As I went through the week, attending to the various duties of the president of the host affiliate, I heard phrases from others which were things Ted would have said to me. We are all better for having known him and for having had our lives touched by such a wonderful man. Thank you for being there, Ted, and for the battles which you helped to win for us. I trust we are strong enough to take over where you left off.

Coincidental Independence:

One of our newer Federation leaders, writing under the name of Donna Blake, sent the following little piece shortly after the close of the convention. It is a bit longer than Miniatures usually are, but it captures one element of our national conventions so accurately that it seemed appropriate to close this convention report with it. Here it is:

The dictionary defines independence as freedom from control by another. Independent is defined as not depending upon the support of another for survival, self–supporting. These two very powerful words are both part of the normal vocabulary of the National Federation of the Blind. It is no surprise to me why our conventions are held each year over the July-Fourth Holiday, the celebration of independence for our nation. The convention this year held special significance for me, not only because it was held in Philadelphia, the home of our nation's earliest beginnings, on its two hundred twenty-fifth anniversary, but also because it marked my fifth year of renewed personal independence.

My first time at an NFB convention was in New Orleans in 1997. It was there I learned that being blind was not going to be anything like I had imagined. At that point I still had some useful vision and watched as three thousand of my fellow Federationists went about their day-to-day lives without any concerns. Blindness did not mean a life of dependence, loss of freedom, and isolation. The convention inspired me to remain active in both my personal and professional lives, to continue to strive to meet the high standards I had always held for myself. I had a wonderful time, but I quickly realized the importance of learning the skills that I would need to get along as a confident blind person; this was the first challenge to meet. I left the convention with a feeling of hope and confidence that, in spite of the loss of my vision, maybe things would be okay.

As soon as I returned home, I contacted my state rehabilitation agency and became very active in working with my rehabilitation counselor to establish a plan and set the goals that I wanted to achieve. My counselor was a bit surprised that I was so knowledgeable for a newly blinded person. I responded that I needed to be informed about all my options if I was going to complete my IPE (Individualized Plan for Employment) successfully.

With my renewed sense of self-confidence and commitment to personal independence, I knew I could not permit others to determine my future. I became fully aware, whatever my counselor might have been thinking, that my personal needs for independence were always going to be more important to me than what others might believe my capabilities could be. I may not have had all of the best ideas in mind, but if the result were to be successful, it would be up to me alone and no one else. By the same token I would be just as responsible for my lack of success if I entered this partnership unprepared or unwilling to work hard to achieve those goals. As fate would have it, I am now my counselor's boss. I am pleased to report that we actually have a very good working relationship.

This year I had to leave the convention early because of another commitment. I had no sooner walked through my front door upon my return home than my phone rang. My caller was the spouse of a person who had lost sight to glaucoma. The couple had called me in desperation because they were at a complete loss about where to turn for help. Was this coincidence? I think not. I call it divine intervention. We talked for a long time on the phone, I supporting, advising, and encouraging. The following day they were on a plane to Philadelphia to attend their first NFB Convention and also on their way to creating their own Declarations of Independence.

Since this experience I have had the opportunity to reflect upon the renewed sense of what I fondly think of as patriotism to the Federation. Each year new speakers attend and new members join, new topics are discussed, new resolutions are ratified; and, most important, the force of the Federation resonates in each of us. The Federation instills in us the recognition that our inner strength and self-determination will carry us forward.

As I write this, fewer than twenty–four hours have elapsed since the close of the 2001 Philadelphia Convention. It is mid afternoon, and my phone is ringing. It is the couple I talked to earlier calling to recount their first experience with the NFB. Their story is one of which many Federationists have personal experienced. It demonstrates that hope prevails. It reaffirms the desire for independence, gives us the enthusiasm to begin learning the alternative skills we need to continue life as independent people.

We hold these truths to be self-evident....

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