The Braille Monitor                                                                        December 2005


Advocate for Blind Urges Shift in Attitude

by Gary Massaro

From the Editor: As you will find when you read the Federation Family section of this month's Monitor Miniatures, on October 9 the NFB of Colorado conducted its election, and for the first time in a number of years, the members elected a new president. Here is the story that appeared in the Rocky Mountain News on Wednesday, October 5, 2005:

Diane McGeorge is stepping down, but not slowing down, especially when she talks. McGeorge, seventy-three, is retiring this weekend after thirty years as president of the Colorado branch of the National Federation of the Blind.

She will stay active, still be a voice for the Federation. And what a voice. It is a snare drum of words--rat-a-tat-tat--when she's talking about issues important to her. But don't call her a militant. She prefers to be called an activist. Here, in a nutshell, is what she's all about: "We believe in change. The basic problem is attitude. That's what we work so hard to bring about, a change in attitude," she said. "Blind people are just like sighted people--except we don't see."

This year marks the fiftieth anniversary of the organization at its state convention Friday through Sunday at Adam's Mark Hotel in Denver. McGeorge said the organization's greatest accomplishment has been the Colorado Center for the Blind, which is available primarily to Colorado's 13,000 blind people, but also others from around the globe. "We have a worldwide renown," she said. "We had a student from the United Arab Emirates who took what he learned here and established a center there."

The center offers a variety of courses, including computer skills. "We teach them independence. We teach them that they don't have to wait for other people to do things for them. We give them self-confidence," McGeorge said. "We just did all these things because they needed to be done."

McGeorge grew up in Nebraska, around Omaha. She came to Denver to go to Barnes Business College and became a medical transcriber. "When I did it, it was a brand new field for blind people to get into," she said. "I needed a job bad. I was a good speller and a good typist. So I took a class."

She met her husband Ray, who is also blind. He had volunteered to teach her how to get around town. They hit it off, have been married fifty-one years and raised two sons. Ray, a retired machine operator, is volunteering with the growing population of senior citizens who are losing their sight--an estimated twenty million Americans by 2020, he said.

McGeorge and her husband live in Denver. "When we bought our home two months after we got married, we automatically selected it where we would have good transportation," McGeorge said. "Public transport for a blind person is essential. I can't just jump in my car and drive to work."

She gets around with a cane or a guide dog. Meningitis took her sight when she was two. "I don't see it as a handicap," she said.