Braille Monitor                                                                                July 1986



Bill Coppage Thrown Out in Virginia

We are reliably informed that on Tuesday, April 29, Bill Coppage (Commissioner of the Virginia Department for the Visually Handicapped) was summoned to the Governor's office and told by the Governor's chief of staff that he was being let go. Coppage has headed Virginia's programs for the blind for many years, having seniority over most state directors in the nation. We are informed that he was completely surprised by his dismissal and that his job will terminate June 30 of this year. Coppage's replacement is to be John McCann, who serves as the President of the American Council of the Blind of Virginia and as Executive Director of the Affiliated Leadership League of and for the Blind (ALL). McCann, a blind lawyer from New York, has been in Virginia for a comparatively short time. He has not been popular with rank and file blind people in the state and is expected to have a stormy and controversial administration.

It is believed that the American Foundation for the Blind had a hand in Coppage's removal. There have been repeated reports of their belittling comments about him. As to McCann, he is reported to have said that (with a family in the offing) he had to find something better than his position with ALL, which reportedly offers relatively little in the way of salary and even less in the way of security.

The comments we have heard indicate that the blind of the state feel little regret at the departure of Coppage but that they take no joy in the appointment of McCann. Many seem to feel that the change in faces will not alter Virginia's tradition of lackluster state programs for the blind.