The Braille Monitor

Vol. 30, No. 2                                                                                            February 1987

Kenneth Jernigan, Editor

Published in inkprint, Braille, on talking-book disc,
and cassette by

The National Federation of the Blind
Marc Maurer, President

National Office
1800 Johnson Street
Baltimore, Maryland 21230
NFB Net BBS: (612) 696-1975
Web Page Address: http//

Letters to the president, address changes,
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National Federation of the Blind and sent to:

National Federation of the Blind
1800 Johnson Street
Baltimore, Maryland 21230


ISSN 0006-8829


         Vol. 30, No. 2                                                                          February 1987




by James Gashel

by James Gashel

by Marcia Dunn

by Loraine E. Stayer




by Kenneth Jernigan

by Judy Rasmussen


by Ben Prows


by Stephen Benson


by Edwin Eames and Toni Ann Gardiner



Copyright, National Federation of the Blind, Inc., 1987



Have you made your reservations yet for this year's National Federation of the Blind convention in Phoenix? Better hurry. The headquarters hotel (the Hyatt Regency Phoenix) is filling rapidly, and so are the other two hotels (the San Carlos and the Heritage). The dates are Saturday, June 27, through Saturday, July 4; and the rates are $25 for singles, $28 for doubles and twins, $30 for triples, and $34 for quads. This is in addition to the tax of 7.4%.

The Arizona affiliate is planning tours to Rawhide, a re-creation of a ranch and town of the old West. There will be outdoor barbecues and all of the trimmings.

Within a block of the hotel is Heritage Square, which shows what Phoenix was like in the last century-- houses that can be toured, an array of restaurants (complete with mesquite cooking and fine Mexican food), and a variety of stores and shops.

Besides the hospitality and fun, there will be the serious business of the convention--meetings of parents, vendors, blind lawyers, blind secretaries and transcribers, the National Association to Promote the Use of Braille, and at least a dozen other special interest groups and committees. There will be the discussions at the general convention sessions to set priorities and determine action for the year ahead.

Phoenix in 1987 is definitely where the action is--thousands of dollars of wonderful door prizes, excellent hotel and meeting accommodations, stimulating program items, display and demonstration of new technology for the blind, and all of the excitement that accompanies a convention of the National Federation of the Blind. Don't miss it, and get your reservations in today. Write: Convention Reservations, National Federation of the Blind, 1800 Johnson Street, Baltimore, Maryland 21230.



by James Gashel

Peter Wilson is blind. He was born in 1966 in San Jose, California, and he has lived mainly in Saratoga, California.

Peter graduated from high school in 1984. On December 20 of that year he applied for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits. He was later denied, and an appeal was necessary. Sharon Gold (President of the National Federation of the Blind of California) assisted Peter in the appeal, and a favorable decision has now been reached. The victory (insofar as Peter Wilson is concerned) is significant, but the outcome could also be of great benefit to other blind people who are (or may be) in Peter's circumstances. Here are the details.

Some background on the SSI program may be necessary. Eligibility for SSI depends first on being aged (age 65 or older), blind (using the 20/200 and field restriction standard definition of blindness), or disabled (being unable to engage in substantial gainful activity). Anyone who meets one or more of these criteria must also be financially in need in order to qualify for regular monthly SSI checks.

Financial need is evaluated on the basis of income and resources. "Income" refers to funds received from work, investments, or other benefit programs. Most forms of regular assistance (whether in kind or in cash) from any source may also be counted as "income." But not all income is counted. The law allows for certain exemptions, depending upon the type of income (earned or unearned) and the purposes for which it is being used.

Some resources are also not counted. "Resources" may be cash, funds held in checking or savings accounts, stocks, bonds, and the equity of any personal or real property. A home used as the principal residence of an SSI recipient is not counted as a resource. An individual SSI recipient may have up to $1,800.00 in countable resources during 1987. In 1988 $1,900.00 will be permitted, and in 1989 $2,000.00 of countable resources will be allowed for an individual to keep on hand while still getting SSI. Couples (when both people are eligible for SSI) can have $2,700.00 in 1987. In 1988 the couples' resources allowance will increase to $2,850.00, and in 1989 the couples' resources exemption will be $3,000.00.

When Peter Wilson applied for SSI benefits in 1984, he had stocks, bonds, and other negotiables valued at $33,400.00 or thereabouts. The conventional wisdom would be that Peter is not eligible for SSI, having resources in excess of $33,000.00; but the hearing decision (issued on October 24, 1986) correctly concluded (as did we in the National Office of the National Federation of the Blind) that Peter was and is eligible for SSI.

Note the use of the term "countable resources." Of course, $1,800.00 of Peter Wilson's $33,400.00 would be exempt under the first legal exclusion mentioned in this article. That leaves $31,600.00 with which to deal. The exemption of these remaining resources can be accomplished. The method for doing it is the SSI "Plan for Achieving Self-Support," known as the "PASS."

A PASS (Plan for Achieving Self- Support) can be used to put aside or disregard income or resources of an SSI recipient. There is no legal or theoretical limit on the amounts that may be excluded to be used for a PASS. The essential legal requirement is that the funds (whether income or resources) are held separately from other funds of the SSI recipient and are exclusively devoted to meeting costs that are required for the recipient to complete the Plan for Self-Support.

As long as the SSI recipient's plan is aimed at a reasonably achievable vocational goal, any amounts of income or resources that are needed to fulfill the PASS will not be considered by the Social Security Administration in figuring either entitlement to or the amount of the SSI payments.

Peter Wilson wants to be a physicist. He chose to go to Harvard University, and the California Department of Rehabilitation agreed to pay some of the costs. His application for SSI was denied on January 24, 1985, apparently for the reason (not clearly stated) that it would not be necessary for Peter to attend Harvard in order to be a physicist. But the regulations about self-support plans (20 CFR Section 416.226) do not give Social Security personnel any say as to where a student chooses to go to school. The criteria for a PASS are: (1) that it be designed specifically for the individual; (2) that it be in writing; (3) that the PASS be designed for an initial period of not more than 18 months, but which may be extended for a total period of up to 48 months; (4) that it show the individual's specific occupational goal; and (5) that the PASS designate what resources the individual has or will receive for the purposes of the plan and how these will be used to attain the occupational goal. The PASS must also show how the resources that are to be set aside will be kept identifiable from other funds or resources. The plan must be approved by the Social Security Administration. Approval by a vocational rehabilitation counselor or agency is not required.

Thus, there is no authority for the Social Security Administration to withhold SSI payments merely because a student decides to attend an expensive private institution of higher education, such as Harvard University. If the student has the resources (or if someone else will provide them), the amounts necessary to pay the educational costs identified in the PASS must be disregarded in figuring SSI entitlement. This decision literally says that the PASS provisions of the Social Security Act were intended by Congress to help people overcome their need for SSI checks, rather than limiting their career choices or means of achieving their vocational goals. In short, SSI cannot be used to put people down, keep them dependent, or tell them they cannot go to Harvard.

This is truly another great victory for the National Federation of the Blind. Of course, we rejoice in Peter Wilson's newly-won opportunity; but more than that, blind people everywhere can take heart at what has been accomplished by this single case. As the Administrative Law Judge who wrote the decision stated: "This is a case of first impression." Several times he noted the absence of any court or other decisions that might have offered guidance.

But now there is a decision, and a good one. Sharon Gold has done an excellent job in bringing about this victory. Now, the blind of the nation can benefit from this latest accomplishment. This is why we have the National Federation of the Blind. The remainder of this article consists of relevant portions of the Administrative Law Judge's decision. It should be carefully read and considered. If there had been no National Federation of the Blind, the outcome of this case would have been quite different--or, perhaps, the case would never have occurred at all.


Social Security Administration Office
of Hearings and Appeals


Peter Wilson

Supplemental Security Income Based on Resources

Neither the legislative history of the law establishing the PASS criteria nor the actual language of the statutes, regulations or agency guidelines for the PASS suggest that a PASS should be disallowed on the basis of the educational institution (or the cost thereof) at which the individual chooses to obtain his or her training. In denying the initial claim and the claimant's reconsideration request, the District Office failed to address any of the merits of the plan itself or to indicate how the basis for denial was related to the underlying law or regulations. The undersigned Administrative Law Judge finds that the PASS meets the broad criteria of the Act, and moreover, it was prepared in conjunction with the State Department of Vocational Rehabilitation, who found that the goals were reasonable. In enacting Section 301 and the pertinent sections of the Act, Congress was striving to establish incentives and procedures whereby individuals who might otherwise be completely dependent upon others or upon governmental assistance programs might achieve self-support through vocational or educational training. The relevant facts in this case suggest that the claimant has particular skills and a potential for achieving a degree of competence that might result in self-support as a trained physicist.

The narrow issue raised in this hearing request is whether the claimant's PASS is legitimate and, if so, whether the denial of his claim was proper under the circumstances. As it was originally submitted, the PASS (Exhibit 9, pages 2-5) was insufficient in some aspects. However, that insufficiency is not, in and of itself, cause for denial since normally, in the development and adjudication of a claim for benefits, the agency must advise the claimant when additional information which could cure a defect in the documentation of a substantial eligibility factor is needed. In this case, a request to the claimant and to his representative has resulted in obtaining additional documentation which overcomes the insufficiency of his original PASS. That documentation, which is attached to Exhibit 30 in the file, provides a comprehensive outline of the resources, income and disbursements by the claimant, on a chronological basis, in achieving his self-support goal.

The Administrative Law Judge has been unable to find any case law which deals directly with the issues and problems raised in this case. However, the undersigned concludes that the cost- effectiveness approach, as applied by the District Office, in denying the claimant's initial SSI application is inappropriate and is unsupported by the language of the statute or the regulations....

The undersigned Administrative Law Judge concludes, on the basis of the preponderance of the evidence, that the claimant's PASS should be approved. As noted above, this hearing decision resolves only the issue of the PASS and leaves unanswered any other questions as to the claimant's eligibility for SSI payments since no other issues were raised in this hearing request.


After careful consideration of the entire record, the Administrative Law Judge makes the following findings:

1. The claimant filed a valid application for supplemental security income payments on December 20, 1984, with a protective filing date of December 1, 1984.

2. The claimant's Plan for Achieving Self-Support (PASS), with appropriate modifications, represents an acceptable plan within the guidelines of the Social Security Act and should not have served as a basis for the denial of his claim for SSI.

3. The resources and income identified in the PASS would be excludable as part of an approved PASS if the claimant were otherwise found to be eligible for SSI payments (20 CFR 416.1181 and 20 CFR 416.1226).

4. This decision resolves only the issue of the validity of the claimant's Plan for Achieving Self-Support (20 CFR 416.1225).


It is the decision of the Administrative Law Judge that, in light of the documentation provided and the fact that the claimant is following the specific goals outlined in his plan, that the claimant's Plan for Achieving Self- Support is valid and should be approved.

The component of the Social Security Administration responsible for authorizing supplemental security income payments will advise the claimant regarding all other disability and non-disability requirements for these payments, and if eligible, the amount and the month(s) for which payment will be made. Particular attention should be addressed to the specific eligibility factor noted in the foregoing decision.

Patrick J. Maloney
Administrative Law Judge
October 24, 1986


by James Gashel

The Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program pays monthly cash benefits to people under age sixty- five who have worked a sufficient amount of time in Social Security-covered employment or self-employment, provided they are blind or disabled under the law. Licensed vendors in the Randolph- Sheppard program are presumably blind under the Social Security Act since the definition of blindness used in both laws (Randolph-Sheppard and Social Security) is identical. However, that does not mean that every blind vendor automatically qualifies for an SSDI check.

This article is written to respond to the many questions which continue to arise from vendors or persons assisting them in determining their potential eligibility for SSDI checks. In many respects the circumstances under which vendors operate and receive their income are unique and have unique implications that must be understood to deal effectively with Social Security issues. Social Security personnel can apply the requirements of the law correctly only if we are able to give them the facts they need to evaluate income and earnings. This is particularly important for the vendors and their advocates. However, many of the facts and concepts presented here apply to all blind persons in dealing with Social Security. Nonetheless, we will highlight the particular considerations that apply in the case of vendors.

Besides being blind, there are two other principal eligibility factors for SSDI benefits. You need to have worked enough under Social Security covered employment or self- employment. The amount of past work required of any blind person is an individual determination, depending on when the person became age 21 and the year in which blindness began, or (if blind before or while working) the year in which the person stopped doing substantial work. For blind people who became age 21 in 1950 or later, quarters of coverage are calculated as follows: one quarter is needed for each year elapsing after the year age 21 was attained, up to and including the year before the person became blind or stopped doing substantial work, whichever occurred later. For blind people who became age 21 before 1950, the years that are counted to have enough quarters of coverage begin with 1951 up to the year before blindness or the loss of substantial work occurred, whichever came later. It is not required that quarters of coverage be earned in any particular year. It is only that the number of quarters (regardless of when earned) needs to total the number of years required for each individual. Younger people who became blind or stopped doing substantial work in their 20's, for example, can qualify with as few as six quarters, but no less. Older people may need as many as 36 quarters in 1987 if they first become blind and/or stop doing substantial work in that year.

Any blind person who has enough quarters of coverage as described here is called "fully insured." The Social Security Administration will tell you how many quarters of coverage credits you have. During 1987 you are credited with a quarter of coverage by having earnings of $460.00 during a calendar quarter.

Four quarters will be credited with earnings of $1,840.00 for the calendar year 1987, regardless of when the money is earned during the year.

Being blind and being fully insured are the first two important eligibility conditions for SSDI checks. Disabled people who are not blind must also meet a third condition which is called "recently insured." They must have worked enough to earn quarters of coverage in at least 20 out of the most recent 40 quarters. This means that a substantial number of their quarters of coverage must have been earned during at least five out of the most recent ten years. Social Security personnel sometimes erroneously apply this recent work requirement to blind people. But remember, the blind need only be "fully insured," not "recently insured."

What does it mean when we say that a blind person stopped doing substantial work? In addition to blindness and being fully insured, not doing substantial work is the third principal condition of eligibility for SSDI if you are blind. Generally, any blind person whose "countable income" is less than $680.00 per month in 1987 ($650.00 in 1986) is not doing substantial work. The amount of time spent at work and the amount of actual labor or management work done does not count. Only income is evaluated in the case of blind people applying for SSDI benefits.

All income is not necessarily "countable income." Your real income before taxes may be much higher than $680.00 per month. But allowed deductions to reach "countable income" may reduce the income to less than $680.00 per month. If someone helps out in a vending business but is not paid, the reasonable value of the unpaid help should be deducted from the vendor's income. The unpaid help is a bonus that must be subtracted to find the vendor's "countable income." The vending machine income that some vendors receive from machines that they do not operate or service should also be subtracted to reach "countable income." This money does not reflect the level of the vendor's work activity. The vending machine income is entirely excluded because it is a subsidy. But that is not true of income from vending machines that the blind vendor services. It must be counted.

"Unincurred business expenses" are another form of subsidy that must be excluded from real income to reach "countable income." Although space for the vending facility is provided without charge in most instances, the value of the space is an "unincurred business expense." Without the contribution of the space the vendor would have to pay the cost, so the free space artificially inflates the vendor's income. Its value should then be subtracted from the vendor's real (before taxes) income. The building management should be able to provide an estimate of the charge per square foot if the space had to be rented. Free utilities are also an "unincurred business expense," but their value can be determined. It is the amount of the utility costs (even though the vendor does not pay them) that should be subtracted from the vendor's income.

"Impairment-Related Work Expenses" should also be considered and subtracted from the vendor's income. Paid help for clerical assistance, reading, driving, and other services of a work and impairment-related nature can be deducted to determine "countable income." Buying devices that are blindness-related and used in part (or entirely) for work is another form of Impairment-Related Work Expense. Monthly installment payments on accounts for equipment purchases can be subtracted to reach "countable income." So can care of a dog guide or the purchase of some medications. Special transportation services, such as taxi fares when public transit is not available or cannot be used, are also deductible. Impairment-Related Work Expenses can actually be any costs resulting from blindness and necessary (at least in part) for work.

In sum, real (before taxes) income is not necessarily "countable income," especially in the case of blind vendors. The Social Security Administration is only interested in identifying "countable income" and will exclude other income that is not an accurate measurement of work. The exclusions include any subsidies, the reasonable value of unpaid help, unincurred business expenses, and Impairment-Related Work Expenses. Once these standard deductions have been made, "countable income" that is below $680.00 per month during 1987 will not be called substantial gainful work. If "countable income" is above $680.00 per month after all of the deductions have been made, substantial gainful work has been achieved, and eligibility for SSDI checks will stop after a trial work period is over. The trial work period will normally be over if there have been earnings of $75.00 in any month for nine months, not necessarily consecutive months.

Social Security Disability Insurance is insurance, not welfare. You have to earn entitlement by working and paying in during enough calendar quarters. Once you meet the eligibility conditions, benefits can then be paid. Being poor is not one of the conditions. Rich people also qualify for Social Security.

The question of whether one agrees or disagrees is not really relevant. The law is the law. While the Social Security Act is not everything that it might be, the work incentives we have won give blind people the opportunity to get a foothold and begin to support themselves without abrupt termination of their Social Security benefits. Whatever one may think of the law, it is certainly better for the blind than it used to be. And the blind are not now lumped with other groups of the disabled. Disabled people who are not blind can only earn $300 per month before their SSDI checks are terminated. Moreover, they have a much harder time than the blind in establishing initial eligibility for benefits.

In numbers there is strength, but numbers alone are not enough.

Knowledge and concerted action are also required. The National Federation of the Blind is a force to be reckoned with. It grows stronger each day. What would life for the blind of this nation be like if the National Federation of the Blind did not exist, and never had existed?



by Marcia Dunn
Associated Press Writer

(This Associated Press article appeared November 28, 1986, in the Sharon, Pennsylvania, Herald.)

Pittsburgh--A blind man aboard a USAir jetliner who was cited by police after refusing to give up his seat near an emergency exit says the order to move was discriminatory and just one of many "indecencies" facing handicapped travelers.

"We don't ask for preferential treatment. We don't ask to sit on the emergency row. (But) we figure we have the same right to luck of the draw as any passenger," said the passenger, Terry McManus, President of the National Federation of the Blind of Pennsylvania.

McManus did not budge from his seat, which he said he was assigned by chance, until police officers arrived to escort him off the plane and cite him for defiant trespass Wednesday evening.

Airline officials "will tell you it's a matter of safety, that they're afraid blind people can't exit. Yet they will ply the people in exit rows with as much liquor as they can drink," McManus, 36, said Thursday night.

"They don't ask them if they have any heart problems, they don't ask them if they have any mental problems.... But blind people, they just automatically assume we can't handle it," he said.

John Rader, a reservation supervisor for USAir, said the airline normally assigns seats near emergency doors to people who are "physically capable of getting the door open in case the situation should arise."

"We do pick and choose the people who can sit near an exit door. Other than that, there are no limitations for anybody," he said.

Rader said he did not know why McManus would have been assigned a seat near an emergency exit.

McManus said he and his wife, Cathy, 33, who also is blind, asked only that they not be seated by the plane's bulkhead when they checked in at Greater Pittsburgh International Airport for USAir Flight 372, which was scheduled to depart at 7:20 p.m. Wednesday.

The Pittsburgh couple, who were traveling with a guide dog, were headed for a National Federation of the Blind executive board meeting in Baltimore.

McManus said he and his wife were among the first to board the plane, along with other handicapped passengers. He said they were asked to move as soon as they sat down.

"We were told, 'You can't sit there.' We told them, 'No. 1, we are perfectly able to evacuate an aircraft in an emergency situation.' Secondly, we showed them a card. . .clearly stating there is no federal policy regarding blind and handicapped (seating) and any policy that does exist is the policy of the individual airline," he said.

The card, according to McManus, contained a statement on the subject by Transportation Secretary Elizabeth Dole.

"The stewardess said, 'Well, Elizabeth Dole doesn't run this airline,'" he said.

McManus said he and his wife spent more than an hour trying to convince airline officials to let them remain in their seats.

"We talked to everybody. They continually said, 'We can't fly this plane with you sitting on this aisle,'" he said.

Concerned about the dog's safety, Mrs. McManus finally decided to leave the plane after being informed the flight was canceled and passengers would be placed on other flights. A few minutes later McManus quietly was escorted off by police officers, according to Allegheny County Police Sgt. Robert Orlowski.

McManus was cited and released, pending a court hearing. He then caught an overnight bus with his wife to Baltimore.

McManus said he plans to file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Transportation after he returns to Pittsburgh late Sunday via USAir--"God willing."

"It's absurd," he said. "What they really ought to do is say, 'Let me show you how this exit works. If we really have an emergency, you do this and that.' I don't plan to die if there's any possibility of me staying alive."



by Loraine E. Stayer

Having just come back from a convention of the National Federation of the Blind of New York State, I feel eminently qualified to make the statement in my title.

Every time I board a plane (probably an average of four times a year) my back goes up, and my stomach knots in tension. But the cause of this isn't fear of flying. I've been up and down too often to worry about that, though I admit to a prayer or two before take-off. No, the reason for my anxiety is that my husband is blind, and the airlines have of late been writing and enforcing whimsical policies regarding blind passengers.

Today we were told we might not sit in an exit row (in the name of "safety") and were placed one row in front of the smoking section, despite my complaint of being sensitive to tobacco smoke. One of our friends, a young woman with a guide dog, was shifted out of seat 5A on the grounds that "the two-seat section wasn't wide enough for the dog." She was put into seat 1E and then told she might not sit there because it was a bulkhead exit row, and the dog lying on the floor would block passengers in case of an emergency. I invited her to sit with me and was told that since I was in a two-seat section, that wasn't allowed. The other passengers in her new row (7E) traded with me. It got me away from the smoking section, for which I was grateful, but it inconvenienced a number of other passengers and insured that I couldn't sit near my family. I challenged the "rule," and the flight attendant assured me solemnly that the pilot's manual said it was so. This, despite the fact my friend had flown up to the convention on the same plane seated in the two-seat section, row 1, seat A! No one had moved her then, and the presence of her guide dog insured that she would be the first one out of the exit in the event of an emergency.

Midway through the flight, the same flight attendant told my friend she would have to wait until everyone else left the plane before she got off. My friend told me later she had no intention of waiting, and that she could get off as quickly as anyone else.

Having had a multitude of experiences I assured her that once we had landed she could do as she pleased and no one would bother her, and it proved to be so.

Twice in my flying experience I have heard blind persons referred to as "the blinds." It is a piece of particularly appalling airline jargon. I can only conclude they think of blind persons as pieces of furniture to be moved around as they please, with about as much feeling as said furniture.

Other members of NFB have related that they were told they could not sit in aisle seats. Some were told on their return trips that they could not sit in window seats. Often we hear that blind persons can't sit in exit rows over the wings but must sit in the bulkhead row exit seats. Or conversely that they may not sit in the bulkhead seats. Or they are told they may not sit in the row in front of an exit row or the row behind. Federal regulations are quoted as the reason, though FAA representatives at our national convention have assured us there are no such federal regulations.

Airline personnel get extremely nervous when a blind person with a cane or a dog appears, though they welcome blind persons who consent to the indignity of riding in a wheelchair, or who allow themselves to be shifted from seat to seat in a never-ending game of musical chairs. If two or more blind persons ride the same flight, the flight attendants often go into a fearful tizzy. They begin talking about safety, though there are no real studies to show that blind persons have ever caused or even been involved in airplane accidents or that it takes blind persons longer to get out of a plane than anyone else. (It doesn't. It takes just as long for sighted people to leave, owing to the narrowness of the aisles and the multitude of carry-on luggage.)

Obviously the issue here is a power struggle and a case of discrimination against one class of people. This is plainly illegal, and blind people often must go to jail to prove it.

The questions in my mind as I prepare for my next airplane flight are these: If there is only the exit row left, will I be excluded from the flight because my husband is blind? Will I actually get to my destination, or will I wind up in a police station because my husband was arrested for sitting in his assigned exit row seat and refusing to be moved around like a piece of baggage? If he may not sit in a two-seat section, does that mean we can't ride in a plane that has no three-seat section? If he can't sit in the aisle seat and he can't sit in a window seat and he can't sit in the front row or the wing, what is really left for us but to take the train?



At the 1986 convention of the National Federation of the Blind in Kansas City there was a panel discussion on air travel and the blind. One of the participants was Gabriel Phillips, Executive Vice President of the Air Transport Association of America. The Air Transport Association of America, which represents the larger airlines of the nation, is one of two such organizations. The other is the Regional Airline Association, which represents the smaller airlines.

On Tuesday, July 29, 1986, officials of both the Air Transport Association and the Regional Airline Association came to the office of the National Federation of the Blind in Baltimore for discussion and negotiation. Representing the Regional Airline Association was its Vice President, Tulinda Deegan. She said that her organization saw no reason for any restrictions on blind passengers and that she felt that they would be willing to make an official policy statement to that effect.

During the next few weeks discussions continued with Ms. Deegan, and several draft statements were considered. On September 23, 1986, the board of directors of the Regional Airline Association adopted a policy statement, and in late October the membership of the Regional Airline Association followed suit. This action by the smaller airlines of the nation is a significant step in the advancement of the civil rights of the blind. Here in its entirety is the policy statement:



Carriage of Blind Persons

The Regional Airline Association recommends that the following policies advocated by spokespersons for the blind be considered by its members with regard to the provision of air transportation to blind and visually impaired persons. This policy statement and guidelines are subject to modifications as each air carrier deems necessary to insure the safety of the individual and the flight and the health and safety of other persons, and further subject to any requirements deemed necessary in the interest of safety or in the public interest by the Federal Aviation Administration pursuant to 14 C.F.R. 121.586(c).

(1) Blind and visually impaired passengers should not be considered as "handicapped" for purposes of air travel.

(2) Blind and visually impaired persons to the maximum extent possible should be accepted and served under the same policies, terms and conditions, applicable alike to all persons who are not blind or visually impaired, unless the passenger requests special services.

(3) Airlines should not discriminate against blind or visually impaired persons on the basis of blindness or visual impairment in the provision of air transportation.

Specific Guidelines for the Provision of Air Transportation Of Blind Persons

The following points have been developed to give specific guidance to airline personnel in working with blind and visually impaired travelers.

1. Offer Assistance. Airline personnel should always directly address the blind traveler and should not ask any person accompanying the passenger to speak for the passenger.

If it appears appropriate, assistance should be offered. Sometimes the offer will be accepted and sometimes it will not. In any event, let the blind person decide, and act accordingly.

When blind persons wish to be guided, it is desirable that they hold the attendant's arm rather than the other way around. Using this technique the attendant can stay approximately one-half step ahead so that turns, steps, etc. can be anticipated.

If airline personnel are providing assistance to a blind person traveling alone, they should be cautioned to forewarn the passenger of corridors or a portion of the corridor that suddenly becomes a moving walk. Blind persons can handle this situation if they are aware of its existence.

Blind people generally employ one of two methods for independent travel. Many use long white canes, often made of aluminum or fiberglass, while others prefer the dog guide. Both techniques enable the user to travel from point A to point B with little or no assistance. In maneuvering through crowded corridors at air terminals, some blind travelers may wish to be accompanied by ground personnel if this service is available. Some would rather make their way from gate to gate and about the terminal unassisted. Again, this should be their choice, and if in doubt, ask.

Blind passengers using fiberglass, metal, or wooden travel canes which are flexible, folding, or collapsible may keep their canes with them, provided that they are stowed beneath passengers' seats without protruding into the aisle, between the fuselage and the passenger's seat, or in enclosed overhead compartments. Proper onboard stowage of travel canes for the blind is covered in the FAR's 14 CFR 121.589(e).

2. Boarding and Deplaning. Boarding and deplaning present no difficulty for most blind people. The modern methods of independent travel have provided blind passengers with both the necessary skills and the confidence to handle escalators, steps, ramps, and so on. Most blind passengers prefer to board and deplane along with the other passengers, and they do not require special assistance beyond the boarding areas. In situations where enclosed movable ramps are not available, the blind may appreciate some guidance from the terminal building to the aircraft.

Wheelchairs, special electric carts, and other such conveyances are not appropriate when assisting blind travelers. Most have a strong preference for moving about under their own power, and they are thoroughly capable of doing so. The fast-paced walking through crowded hallways, which is sometimes necessary in making close connections, poses no problem for the blind. Most of them have little, if any, difficulty maneuvering about airports and making connecting flights. If a prolonged layover is necessary, most blind travelers wish to occupy themselves in the same manner as other passengers by shopping, visiting, and so forth.

3. Preflight Boarding. It is not necessary for flight attendants to conduct special hands-on preflight emergency briefings for blind passengers. These passengers can follow the normal preflight briefings given to everyone. They will be able to locate underseat life jackets and overhead oxygen mask compartments without assistance. Flight attendants should not provide hands-on instructions in fastening or adjustment of seat belts for blind passengers under different circumstances than they would do so for all passengers. That is, a flight attendant would normally provide assistance to any passenger who is unable or reluctant to use a seat belt. It is not necessary to specially inform blind passengers about the location and operation of emergency exits unless this information is requested by the passenger. Many blind persons would appreciate having emergency briefing cards written in Braille, but should not be required to read them by the crew to any greater extent than the crew would require other passengers to read the printed briefing cards. If a blind passenger appears anxious, nervous, or unsure about flying, flight attendants should take the same remedial action as with other passengers.

There are no Federal Aviation Regulations (FAR's) which restrict the seating of blind passengers. Therefore, blind passengers may be seated according to preference and seat availability anywhere in the aircraft.

4. Guide Dogs. Airline personnel should not give food or water to a guide dog unless requested to do so or with specific consent of the dog's master.

Schools which train dog guides generally teach the dogs to lie under the seats at their master's feet and not in bulkhead rows. Some blind passengers using dog guides prefer to sit in bulkhead rows and some prefer to sit elsewhere. The blind person using the dog guide is the best judge of the most appropriate seating arrangements based on the training which he and the dog received.

Again, ask the passenger.

5. Emergency Evacuation. In an emergency a blind person will, of course, require the same briefing information as other passengers and will follow directions along with them. Should it become necessary to evacuate the aircraft, blind passengers using canes or dogs will follow other passengers out of the aircraft. It is the master's responsibility to see that the dog is wearing its harness so that the pair can leave the area quickly once they are on the ground. The harness also helps to activate the dog's sense of responsibility and assurance. If dog and blind person should become separated in the course of evacuation, the dog should be led by its leash after its master has left the plane. Flight attendants should keep in mind that the master is responsible for issuing commands to the dog guide, that the dog only understands the specific set of commands, and that the blind passenger is responsible for the actions of the dog guide.



The following letter was written by Cherie Heppe, one of the leaders of the National Federation of the Blind of Connecticut. The incident she relates is symptomatic of a pattern. The final steps up the stairway of freedom are always the most difficult--the most resisted, the most resented.

And in what is happening today in America the National Federation of the Blind is both catalyst and focus. It cannot be said too often that no minority ever goes from second-class status to first-class citizenship without passing through a period of hostility. To those who already have first- class citizenship or who approve of the status quo, the answer is simple: Don't rock the boat. Wait. Be patient.

But what of those who are still on the stairway waiting to emerge? Is first- class status only for future generations and not for them? And if they never insist upon their rights or rock the boat, what assurance is there (in fact, what reason at all to believe) that some miracle will give better treatment to their children--or their grandchildren--or their great-grandchildren? It has to start somewhere, and the actions necessary to alter the status quo are rarely pleasant:


Hartford, Connecticut October 3, 1986

Messrs. Dean Bonnano & Ray Clark Connecticut Transit Bus Company
Hartford, Connecticut

Dear Sirs:

This letter will follow up my telephone conversation of October 3, 1986, in which I reported the deplorable incident that took place today and which is described herein. Your administrative offices had closed by the time I telephoned, so a woman identifying herself as operator four took down my complaint. The inexcusably bad treatment and behavior leveled at me by the bus driver caused me to be quite shaken and upset. I wish to register a formal complaint with Connecticut Transit and request a written response and determination.

I am a totally blind student attending Trinity College. Coming home from my organic chemistry lab, I took the F bus to downtown Hartford, transferred to an E bus, and disembarked at Sigourney Street and Farmington Avenue to transact some business at the bank. When I finished I returned to the bus stop to wait for a westbound bus to go home.

At four o'clock a bus pulled up, quite crowded, as is usual for that line at that time of day. People were standing in the aisle up to the driver's position with room for several more. I boarded the bus. The driver began by loudly saying I could not stay on the bus because of the crowded condition and must get off. The driver placed her hand over the coin slot of the fare box, preventing me from paying my fare. While she continued in this manner, a gentleman next to me had dropped his nylon travel bag, which I picked up and gave to him. He stood virtually in the same place as I stood on the bus, but he was not being asked to disembark due to crowded conditions.

I tried to explain that, just as the other passengers, I rode on crowded buses regularly with no problems for anyone. The driver would not hear my explanations. I continued by observing that, at one time, a group of people had been forced to sit at the rear of the bus. So now, why could I not ride like other passengers at the front of the bus? The driver said this was not a race issue and advised me to "shut up." She said I was standing behind the white line and could not ride standing beyond the white line. Several passengers were also riding in the space beyond the white line, albeit they tried to back up after hearing the driver mention it.

The driver said she would not continue on her route while I remained on the bus. She asserted that I obstructed her view. Since I have ridden on many crowded buses in the position I then occupied and since no other driver experienced difficulties in seeing, I could not understand how this driver could be having so much trouble. The driver said I blocked the door of the bus. The several other passengers standing pressed into the aisle behind me were not mentioned.

Although the driver was stopped in the bus station, she said she was blocking traffic and had to move. At this point passengers joined the driver's heckling and began jeering and taunting me, saying: "Yah, blind lady, get off the bus," and "Come on, we have to get going." The driver then threatened to call the police to have me removed from the bus but seemed to be asking someone outside the bus door to call the police for her. Since the buses are equipped with two-way radios (presumably in good working order) to be used to summon assistance, why didn't the driver use the radio to call for help?

The driver would not listen at all. She suddenly began coughing and choking, as if something had lodged in her throat or as though she were experiencing some kind of medical problem. When someone from outside the open bus door called out, "Are you all right, Mrs. Jackson?" the coughing and choking ceased abruptly.

The driver now said that another bus was right behind hers and I could take that one. I asked the man whose bag I picked up what the driver's badge number was. Before he could answer the driver said her number was #1627. I must assume from her reactions to the inquiry about her well-being from outside the bus that her name is Mrs. Jackson. Since all I wanted was to get home, I decided to take the bus which driver #1627 said was right behind hers. As I disembarked, I repeated her number to her, saying I wanted to be sure to remember it right. Driver #1627 said she would remember me, too.

The next bus was not right behind the first but came ten minutes later at 4:10. This bus was just as crowded as the first, with people standing in the aisle, ahead of the white line. The driver of this bus, #1181, seemed to think nothing of my boarding and riding the bus. Because of the crowd, I stood exactly where I had been standing on the first bus. The driver said I did not obstruct his view at all, since the buses came equipped with mirrors. He said that passengers often stood forward of the white line in crowded conditions, as several of us were doing. The driver said I was not blocking the bus door and, in fact, people got off at several stops prior to mine with no more difficulty than usually experienced on crowded buses.

The transportation of blind passengers on public transportation is a right guaranteed to the blind by both state and federal law.

The carriage of blind passengers is not a matter of whim or caprice. I, along with many blind people, must ride buses and other public transportation daily. I use the bus much as a sighted person would use an automobile--to run errands, attend school, visit friends, and engage in the activities of everyday life. I handle myself in a reasonable and competent manner. I am an American citizen and deserve to be treated as one.

The woman driver's conduct is unspeakable, and her overreaction and threats are completely unacceptable in a civilized society. For this reason I have written this letter, with the expectation that such an incident will not be repeated. Please be so kind as to look into this matter and send me a written determination and response regarding the outcome.

Sincerely, Cherie Heppe


by Kenneth Jernigan

In the November, 1986, Braille Monitor we carried an article entitled "The Rocky Road of Thiel." We said that according to our information Hans Thiel (the inventor of the Thiel Braille embossing device) had made a deal with VTEK of California, formerly Visualtek, to sell his machine in this country and that the honeymoon between Thiel and VTEK was reportedly finished almost before it got started. We said that Thiel had reportedly hired an attorney and was contemplating legal action. We also said that we had been told that VETK had sold very few machines at the time of the writing of our article.

As might have been expected, Larry Israel (the rather short-fused head of VTEK) was unhappy with our article. In a letter dated December 4, 1986, he accused us of irresponsible journalism, said we had probably been "used," and said that Lee Brown (the organizer of the group which bought Maryland Computer Services) had been "spreading lies about Thiel and VTEK since about mid-May." He also said that he dared Lee Brown to sue him for what he had said. Here in its entirety is Mr. Israel's letter:


Santa Monica, California December 4, 1986

Dear Dr. Jernigan:

I am distressed by the article THE ROCKY ROAD OF THIEL which you published in the November issue. It contains misleading and untrue information, without any indication of a source. More particularly, after indicating that Thiel made an arrangement with us, you say "... our information indicates that the honeymoon was over almost before it started."

Subsequently, you say: "We are told that Mr. Thiel is furious and has engaged legal counsel preparatory to a possible lawsuit. It is said that Thiel wants nothing more to do with VTEK and is urgently trying to find ways to break his contract with them."

All of what you were told, or heard, as reflected in the above quotations, is completely false. Your publication of it is likely to be quite damaging to Thiel and to VTEK. It was never true, and it is not true now. I don't know who told you these lies, although I strongly suspect it was Lee Brown, since he has been spreading lies about Thiel and VTEK since about mid-May (and I cordially invite him to sue me and try to prove the falsity of that statement in a court of law!). I am dismayed that you would repeat this information without attribution. "Our information indicates" and "we are told" and "it is said" are disreputable ways of disclaiming responsibility for the publication of scurrilous information. And if your informant asked you to not reveal the source of this information, then you are being severely abused by someone who is using you to spread lies, with the deliberate intent of causing damage to our firm. What you have done is journalistically irresponsible.

As for Lee Brown contemplating legal action, he has been threatening that since at least May, against VTEK, Thiel and the U.S. Customs Service! Such "threats" were made to me personally in a phone conversation, in which Mr. Brown said he would file for an injunction to prevent the importation of Thiel printers for us to resell. Anyone with the most rudimentary knowledge of law would know that to be an entirely futile undertaking, and Mr. Brown has, to the best of my knowledge, never filed any legal actions connected with this situation (certainly not against VTEK). Since he made the same threat to Mr. Thiel, Mr. Thiel did hire an attorney in this country to ensure that his rights and interests under U.S. law were thoroughly protected. Mr. Thiel's attorney confirmed that the agreement between VTEK and Thiel is completely in order, and that there was no further agreement with Maryland Computer Services.

For you to then refer to our press release, which you reprint in full, as having "wry significance," is to cast aspersions on VTEK's integrity as well as on the seriousness and validity of our commitment to marketing Thiel printers in this country.

The fact is that Maryland Computer Services neglected its responsibilities to its own customers while it was having financial difficulties. Many Thiel users from around the country later called us, asking for help in getting Thiel maintenance, and I would be happy to refer you to them by name and address if you wish to verify the truth of this. VTEK has undertaken to provide service at reasonable cost for all existing Thiel printer installations, even though doing so has in fact been a profitless venture for us. We are committed to ensuring that the blind community in the United States continues to benefit from the availability of Thiel printers.

VETK has sent a technician to Germany for service training, and has had two other technicians trained here in this country. Jack Wood was hired as our Product Manager for Thiel printers, and has been doing a fine job in that capacity. We have incurred considerable expense to prepare a better quality manual than existed previously. We have hired and trained staff personnel to support this printer, and we have laid in a stock of spare parts for use as needed in servicing the equipment. Shortly before Thanksgiving I visited Mr. Thiel personally to review our joint marketing programs and to review his development efforts on an interpoint embosser. I had dinner with him, his wife and his chief financial officer, in his home near Frankfurt. Does that sound like the honeymoon is over, or that he is contemplating a lawsuit?

Under the circumstances I believe that you owe us an apology for printing this astounding set of unattributed rumors, which can be proven to be untrue in all material respects. I further request that you publish this letter in the Braille Monitor so that all your readers can be aware of the misleading and false information with which they were presented. It is unfortunate that publication schedules will result in many months elapsing between publication of the falsehoods and publication of the truth!

If you intend to publish remarks disputing the accuracy of what I have said, I would appreciate the courtesy of seeing them prior to publication, and having the opportunity to respond in the same issue.

Very truly yours, Larry Israel, Chairman


There are those who might call Mr. Israel's letter somewhat harsh, but allowances must be made for temperament. We recognize that individuals react differently and with varying degrees of emotion to the appearance of their names in print.

Upon receiving Mr. Israel's letter we thought it only right to call Mr. Brown and read it to him. He seemed undisturbed and at peace with himself. He said that last spring he had, indeed, suggested to Mr. Israel that he might file a lawsuit against him.

He said this suggestion occurred in a conversation in which Mr. Israel had tried to intimidate him. Mr. Brown said that he had read the November article and that, so far as he could tell, it seemed to be accurate.

Mr. Brown, as one might expect, has a different view from the one held by Mr. Israel as to what has happened and how things are. He says that Maryland Computer Services was top heavy with management and had a good deal of internal squabbling, that the situation has been stabilized and may be saved by merging some of the management functions of Triformation Systems and Maryland Computer Services, and that the future looks bright. He further says that it is true that he contemplated a suit against Thiel because of Thiel's failure to live up to agreements with Maryland Computer Services. He says that Thiel would not come through with needed parts or with machines which had been ordered and that at least three orders probably went to VTEK because of this.

He says that his lawyers told him that he could likely get an injunction to prevent VTEK from importing Thiel machines but that he refrained from legal action because he did not wish to involve the field in turmoil and because, in a sense, the whole thing was in the process of becoming somewhat irrelevant. He explained this by saying that Triformation Systems would soon be announcing a new Braille embossing device which would be better than the Thiel machine, lower priced, and more up to date in its technology. He said that the new Braille embossing device would probably sell for something in the neighborhood of $12,000 and would probably be on the market by late next spring or early summer. He said that it was his opinion that this had not been a good year for the sale of Thiel machines and that, after seeing some of the parts and machines shipped from Thiel to Maryland Computer Services, he can understand why this might be.

Mr. Brown had no firm data on how many Thiels VTEK may have sold, and it will be noted that (with all of his insistence on setting the record straight) Mr. Israel did not tell us in his letter. He did not dispute our information that he had made very few sales. Mr. Brown said that Maryland Computer Services had sold some eighty-five Thiels before losing the contract.

So where does all of this tempest in a Thiel pot leave us? Mostly nowhere so far as Mr. Israel's fumings are concerned. At this stage there are apparently three relatively large producers of technology in the blindness field: Telesensory Systems, Inc. (TSI), VTEK, and the combined Maryland Computer Services and Triformation Systems. With respect to TSI, there are persistent rumors that it is undercapitalized and in financial trouble, but these have not been verified. Most people I talk with seem to feel that the Optacon is well past its peak and generally outmoded although still used by some. The VersaBraille is well regarded by some, but there seems to be a general feeling that its price is too high and that the pushiness and pressure tactics for which TSI is so well known are a continuing burden to the company.

VTEK is thought to be more stable, but it has the drawback of the reputation and erratic temperament of its owner and principal spokesman. Many people feel uneasy about dealing with Mr. Israel.

Both Triformation Systems and Maryland Computer Services have had their troubles and have undergone sweeping reorganization, but Lee Brown (the force which seems to have brought stability to both) appears to be stable, determined, and knowledgeable. He says that his Text Embossing Device (the TED-600) is performing extremely well and gaining wide acceptance. The price ($37,500) is out of the reach of most individuals, but if the machine performs as advertized, it could well be worth the money of organizations, agencies, and libraries. Mr. Brown says that the machine does interpoint Braille, easily interfaces with most computers, and (though rated at 600 characters per second) is usually scaled down to something over 400 for long-term, relatively maintenance-free operation. As already reported, Mr. Brown says that a new device to compete with the Thiel is ready for announcement. He also indicates that he wants input from blind consumers and is prepared to consider developing and manufacturing whatever devices and technology blind users indicate they want. It may well be that the combined Maryland Computer Services/ Triformation Systems entity will forge ahead and dominate the field.

But, of course, there are a growing number of newcomers and smaller companies which are coming to prominence and gaining recognition. The field of technology for the blind seems highly fluid and full of new ideas and exploration. Any way you look at it, this can only be good for the successful competitors and also for the blind. In such an atmosphere the ill-tempered clamoring of Mr. Israel seems nothing more than untimely and irrelevant.



by Judy Rasmussen

This article appeared in the October, 1986, Braille Spectator, the newsletter of the National Federation of the Blind of Maryland. Judy Rasmussen is an investigator with the Office of Landlord-Tenant Affairs in Rockville (Montgomery County), Maryland. She is also blind. When Judy sits across the desk from a landlord, blindness is not the thing at the center of thought or conversation. In that situation Judy is what the modern lingo calls an "authority figure." Usually the landlord wants something--or, more often, wants to avoid something. At the very least, Judy and the landlord meet as equals, with the edge probably being with Judy.

But what happens when a blind person applies to the landlord to rent an apartment--in short, when the new realities and the old stereotypes come face to face and clash? The lesson one is tempted to learn is that public education does not work, that it is a waste of time and money--but this would be a mistaken conclusion. Education and the changing of attitudes are a slow process, much slower than force or violence or legislation--but they are also more effective, more permanent, and more certain. The effort we spend on public education is never wasted.

Yes, the landlord resisted, but forty years ago the outcome would almost certainly have been different. The White Cane Law, which the National Federation of the Blind has succeeded in getting adopted throughout the country to insure equal access to public accommodations (including housing), would not have been on the books. Judy would not have had the job she holds. The landlord would not have had the experience of having dealt with her in tenant negotiations. The blind person (also a Federationist) probably would not have had the money to rent the apartment, might not have known of his rights, and likely would not have had the background and courage to resist. The climate of the 1940's is totally different from the climate of today. And when did it all happen--and why? It happened meeting by meeting, letter by letter, Monitor article by Monitor article, banquet speech by banquet speech, state and national convention by state and national convention, conversation by conversation, and thought by thought in the minds of blind person by blind person--it happened in the step-by-step, year-by-year, growth and activities of the National Federation of the Blind. Yes, education works--for the public at large, and also for us.

Here is one part of the story as told by Judy Rasmussen:


"How will you do your laundry? How much education do you have?

How will you cook." Who do you suppose would ask these questions? A prospective employer? A friend wanting to know more about how you function as a blind person? Someone you meet on the street? If you guessed any of the above, you're wrong. Just a few weeks ago these questions were asked of Pat Gormley, a blind member of the Sligo Creek Chapter of the National Federation of the Blind of Maryland, as he applied to rent an apartment in Prince Georges County. Pat had located an apartment on the second floor of a building which was convenient to shopping and public transportation. The landlord stated to Pat that she did not want to rent him the apartment because it was on the second floor, and her insurance company would not allow it. She was concerned that Pat would not be able to exit safely should a fire occur. Even after Pat's assurances that he had successfully negotiated stairs all his life, the landlord still refused to rent him the apartment. She suggested that Pat might wish to rent another apartment in another building she owned, this apartment being located on the first floor. Pat did look at this apartment but felt that it was not nearly as convenient to transportation and shopping and advised the landlord that he preferred the apartment on the second floor.

Pat was in constant touch with members of the Sligo Creek Chapter. The landlord confirmed to me that everything Pat had stated was true. She suggested that we talk with her attorney about her insurance rates.

The landlord's attorney stated to me that he would also be concerned about renting an apartment on the second floor of a building to a blind person. He suggested that maybe "special bells" could be placed in Pat's apartment in addition to the smoke detector. He did agree, however, that the landlord could not discriminate by letting blind people live only on certain floors, but there was still the problem of fire. The attorney was advised that should Pat not be allowed to rent the apartment and since Pat qualified in every way, the Sligo Creek Chapter, NFB, planned to contact the press and file a complaint with the Prince Georges County Human Relations Commission.

The landlord agreed that Pat was qualified for the apartment, but she stated that since she served on the Montgomery County Housing Opportunities Commission, she was not allowed to accept tenants applying for low-income housing in Prince Georges County.

After checking with the proper agency officials, we found that this was not true. We were told that the landlord could accept low-income tenants in Prince Georges County. The landlord had run out of arguments--Pat was qualified for the apartment, the landlord could not discriminate by only allowing blind people to live on certain floors, and the landlord could accept low income tenants in Prince Georges County. After much consultation, the landlord agreed to rent Pat the apartment. On October 3, 1986, Pat telephoned me and stated that he had been given the keys to the apartment and that he could move in the next week.

You would think that landlords and attorneys would be familiar with the civil rights of minorities by now. You would also think that an attorney who represents several landlords in our area would not consider that it was necessary to have "special bells" in someone's apartment, in addition to the smoke detector which the landlord is required to maintain. It is astounding to me that this landlord has been in my office negotiating cases and, presumably, treating me as an equal. Yet, if I had applied for an apartment in one of her buildings, she would have asked me the same questions. It would not have mattered whether I was a highly paid executive or someone receiving SSI. I am still blind, and she would not have rented to me.

I believe that if it had not been for the National Federation of the Blind of Maryland, Pat Gormley would not have been allowed to rent the apartment. As Delegate Elijah Cummings so aptly stated in his speech at the National Federation of the Blind convention in Kansas City last July, "As long as one of us is enslaved, none of us is free."



by Ben Prows

The organized blind have been fighting the insurance industry for many years to achieve equality with our sighted peers in our ability to receive all the benefits provided in various insurance policies. As Federationists know, Washington State's Insurance Commissioner has been somewhat reluctant in the past to work with us to force the insurance companies to provide insurance to the blind on an equal basis.

Readers of the Braille Monitor will remember the exchanges of correspondence between the Commissioner's office and Scott Lewis of the NFB in which the stereotypical notions about the blind as risks were trotted out as justification for not adopting the National Association of Insurance Commissioners' model insurance regulation prohibiting discrimination on the basis of blindness. Over the past year, however, there has been a marked change in the attitude of the Office of the Insurance Commissioner. We have carried on extensive negotiations with Commission staff, and as a result we have gotten Washington State Insurance Commissioner Marquardt to agree that insurance discrimination against the blind must not continue.

The following press release to all insurance companies doing business in the state of Washington was released at the beginning of November, 1986. This is a significant step forward for the blind in the fight to eliminate irrational discrimination. It is the result of hard work on the part of the National Federation of the Blind. No other organizations or individual blind persons have participated in the process.

This action by the Washington State Insurance Commissioner is just another reason "why the National Federation of the Blind."


Marquardt Tells Insurers To Beware Discriminating Against The Blind

OLYMPIA--State Insurance Commissioner Dick Marquardt says he is concerned that instances of discrimination by insurance companies against blind persons have occurred in Washington. In a bulletin issued this week to all life and health insurance companies doing business in Washington, Marquardt directed the companies to be certain that their underwriting practices are in full accord with state anti-discrimination laws.

In discussions with the Commissioner's staff, Ben Prows, an officer of the National Federation of the Blind of Washington, reported getting calls from blind persons asking about their rights in dealing with insurance companies. Prows says he believes that more incidents of blind people being refused or charged more for life, health, and disability insurance have occurred here than have actually been reported. Prows also noted increasing concern nationally about insurance problems being encountered by blind people in their dealings with companies and agents.

Marquardt says several Washington laws applying to insurance prohibit unfair discrimination because of sensory, mental, or physical handicaps. Although fair discrimination based on substantiated differences in risk or exposure is allowed under Washington's Insurance Code, the Commissioner says his office is not aware of any data with sufficient credibility to establish differences in risk between blind and sighted people, based on blindness alone. To the contrary Marquardt says there are two studies that show blind but otherwise healthy persons are equal or better life insurance mortality risks than sighted persons in similar circumstances.

All but six states now have laws on their books to deal with discrimination against the blind in life and health insurance, according to industry sources, and many are similar to Washington's. Marquardt says the companies would be wise to review all state laws against discrimination and make sure that the policy manuals used by their employees and agents are in accord with those laws.

Prows says that his organization is anxious to help the companies know and comply with state laws on discrimination, and so the national office of his group is acting as an information center. Companies or individuals wanting information on mortality and morbidity studies involving blind persons, as well as proposed state and federal legislation dealing with discrimination against the blind, are urged to contact James Gashel, Director of Governmental Affairs for the National Federation of the Blind, by writing him at 1800 Johnson Street, Baltimore, Maryland 21230, or calling (301) 659- 9314.



Virginia Reagan, who lives in Missouri, is committed to the church, but she is also committed to the truth of Federationism and the first-class citizenship of the blind. When she read what she regarded as an untrue statement in her church magazine, she did not remain silent. She spoke out--not just in the interest of the blind but also (and at least as important) in the interest of truth:


Rogersville, Missouri
October 22, 1986

George W. Hunt,
S.J. Editor

Dear Father Hunt:

I would like to call your attention to a statement made in the October 11 issue of AMERICA in the editorial "Defining Help for the Underclass," which was in error. You listed the physically disabled and the blind among those of the "underclass," and many put us there. But then you stated: "Since these poor will never be economically self- sufficient, they will always depend on the aid of family, friends, or in their default, the agencies of the state."

This is just not true. Being both in a wheelchair and blind myself, I know many physically disabled people and blind people. Many of us do not depend on family, friends, or state agencies for financial help. I know many blind people who work. I also know people with severe physical disabilities, such as quadriplegia, who work as well. I know many others, both blind and physically disabled, who are capable of being economically self-sufficient if potential employers would just give us a chance.

At the risk of being unkind, I will express my honest opinion. The help of state agencies is sometimes very slow in coming, and a person could starve or freeze while they are waiting for it. But for an incorrect blanket statement such as yours to appear in a fine Catholic magazine such as AMERICA is just devastating. We, the people of God, are working so hard to make everyone feel like an equal part of the Church, and a statement such as yours seems to try to separate us from the rest of the Body of Christ.

I hope you will print some kind of statement in your next issue to the effect that this was a general statement and many of us are economically self- sufficient. After all, the physically disabled and the blind are gifted as well as having limitations; this means we are just like everyone else except for having some part of our body that does not function in the usual way.

I should mention that I receive AMERICA on cassette tapes from Xavier Society for the Blind.

Sincerely, Virginia Reagan


by Stephen Benson

(This article was taken from the December, 1986, Month's News, the newsletter of the National Federation of the Blind of Illinois.)

Several years ago I asked Rami Rabby, who was born in Israel and educated in England, "What is the biggest difference between Israel, England, and the United States?"

After a moment's pause Rami said, "Well, in this country you can pick up a telephone, call your elected representative, make an appointment, and have a very good chance of actually meeting with him or her to discuss substantive issues. You just can't do that anywhere else in the world."

I believe there is another significant difference--that is, of course, the National Federation of the Blind. Blind people are a minority, a small minority. Only through collective action can we improve the quality of our lives and the lives of blind people in the future.

The Federation speaks with an eloquence unsurpassed by any group of Americans. We are a vehicle for change. We are a bastion of independence and freedom, a democracy in a democracy. We take our goals "Equality, Security, and Opportunity" seriously. We take our responsibilities as free and independent citizens, who compete on equal terms with sighted people, very seriously.

Only in America can several hundred blind people gather in the nation's capital to educate the Congress about the needs of blind people. Each year, at national convention, we renew our solemn promise to ourselves and to future generations of blind people, to continue to work effectively, collectively, to improve the quality of life for all people. Each February we gather in Washington to act on our solemn promise.


Holly Frisch is a long-time member of the National Federation of the Blind. She has a dog guide. On June 7, 1986, she attempted to hire a taxi, but the driver refused to transport her because she was accompanied by a dog guide. She brought the matter to the attention of the District of Columbia Hackers' License Appeal Board, and the decision which the Board handed down has implications not only for blind people in the District of Columbia but throughout the nation. Here in its entirety is the decision:


Government of the District of Columbia Hackers' License Appeal Board

November 28, 1986 ORDER

IN RE: Homayoon Majdi (Respondent) Hollis Frisch (Complainant)

This cause came before the Hackers' License Appeal Board upon notice dated July 2, 1986, to the respondent to show cause why his public vehicle license should not be suspended or revoked or a monetary fine imposed upon a complaint against him for refusing to transport and improper conduct in violation of 15 DCMR 819.5 and 822.6.

This cause was heard by the Board on July 23, 1986. The Board consisted of Betty A. Franklin, Chairperson, Lucille Johnson, and William Wright. Both the complainant and the respondent were present and did testify concerning the complaint. Upon consideration of the evidence adduced at the hearing, the Hackers' License Appeal Board makes the following:


1. On June 7, 1986, at approximately 10:30 p.m., the respondent was operating a Yellow Cab #39 at the front entrance to the John F. Kennedy Center, Washington, D.C.

2. That on the date and approximate time mentioned above, the complainant attempted to hail the respondent's cab and was refused. The complainant is blind and has a guide dog.

3. That the complainant requested that an usher hire a cab for her; that the usher attempted to hire the respondent but he refused because a guide dog's presence would prevent him from collecting other fares.

4. That the respondent admits refusing because his passengers would not ride with a big dog; that the respondent's passengers had not yet entered the cab but were waiting outside the cab while the respondent attempted to solicit additional fares.

5. And that the respondent refused to transport a passenger while holding his taxicab forth for hire.


On June 7, 1986, at approximately 10:30 p.m. at the front entrance to the John F. Kennedy Center, Washington, D.C., the respondent did refuse to transport a passenger while holding his taxicab forth for hire in violation of 15 DCMR 819.5 which provides:

"819.5: No driver of a taxicab shall refuse to transport a passenger while holding his taxicab forth for hire. Any taxicab occupying a taxicab stand shall for the purposes of these regulations be considered to be held forth for hire. Any taxicab being operated on the streets: (a) when not occupied by a paying passenger; or (b) when not displaying an 'On Call,' or 'Off Duty,' or 'Out of Service' sign as authorized by Sections 815.6 to 815.8, 813.10, 815.7 to 820.4; shall for the purpose of this chapter be considered to be held forth for hire."

The respondent did not want to transport the complainant because she was a "blind lady with a big dog," and that his potential passengers would not ride with him had he accepted the complainant. No driver who engages in shared riding shall accept a subsequent passenger accompanying any animal (other than a seeing eye dog) without the consent of the prior passenger or passengers already being transported, as cited in 15 DCMR 802.13.

The respondent had only potential passengers standing at his cab, but no one was in his cab. He stated that his potential passengers would not tolerate a dog, the reason for this was unknown to the respondent. The driver was also aware that the other drivers would not transport the complainant because of her guide dog. Surely he could have transported the complainant, and located another cab for the potential passengers if they refused to ride with the complainant. As a licensed driver the respondent owes a higher duty of care to the public, and for this failure he must be held accountable.


Based on the foregoing findings of fact and conclusions of law, it is the unanimous decision of the Hackers' License Appeal Board that a fine of $300.00 be imposed on respondent.

This decision takes effect five (5) days after the date of this Order. On the effective date (or the next working day if the effective date falls on a weekend or holiday), respondent must pay his fine by taking enclosed fine notice to the D.C. Treasurer, Room 1140, of the Municipal Center.

Respondent has five (5) days after the effective date of this decision to petition the Board for reconsideration, or thirty (30) days to appeal the decision to the D.C. Court of Appeals. Filing of such actions, however, does not stay the decision of the Board. Respondent is still required to pay the fine imposed.

Betty A. Franklin


by Edwin Eames Baruch College (CUNY)

Toni Ann Gardner
Kings Park Psychiatric Center

As authors of the widely acclaimed best seller "A Guide to Guide Dog Schools," we have received hundreds of thousands of queries about new ideas and new directions in the guide dog movement. Stimulated by the outpouring of interest in the future of the movement, we have decided to become pioneers by creating a new guide dog school. Let us acquaint you with the unique features of our school and what we can do for you.

Have you hesitated about getting a guide dog because they are so big? Are you a guide dog user who has trouble getting your large dog under tables in crowded restaurants and out of the way in busy buses and subways? Are people always tripping over your dog? Are you afraid that your dog will get hurt? We have solved your problem! Out Of Sight, our new school, will provide you with a dog which can fit anywhere. Our breed of dogs, pocket poodles, will never be obtrusive. They are the smallest of the toy poodles and never weigh much more than three pounds. They can be carried in pocket, purse, briefcase, backpack, special pouch, or in one's hand. Since our dogs are completely portable, they need never touch the floor. Therefore, you don't have to worry about people tripping over them or even about having to wipe their feet.

Have you hesitated about getting a guide dog because you are allergic to dog hair? For those of you with guide dogs, are you fearful of wearing wool in the winter because it is always covered with your dog's hair? Poodles do not shed and are recommended by most physicians as non-allergic.

Are you afraid that if you get a guide dog he or she will eat you out of house and home? Are you being eaten out of house and home by your present large guide dog? Do you have severe backaches from carrying tons of food when you travel with your guide dog? A five-pound bag of dog food will last our dog six months!

Are you reluctant to get a guide dog because you like to sleep late on your days off? Do you resent your present guide dog because you have to put on all of your winter clothes and take the dog out into the freezing air on a day when you're not going anywhere? Have you had to buy stock in the baggies company because of the necessity of picking up after your dog? All of these problems are solved as our dogs are trained to relieve themselves in a kitty litter pan. You never have to go outdoors if you don't want to.

Do you think twice about getting a guide dog because you have heard there are problems getting into public places with your dog? Have you ever had a taxi driver, restaurant owner, theater operator, or hotel proprietor challenge your right to keep your guide dog with you? Are you tired of hearing: "You can't bring that dog in here!" Your problems are over! Our dogs are so small that they are rarely seen. In the event that you are challenged, just slip your dog out of sight! Then you can reply: "What dog?"

Have you rejected the idea of getting a guide dog because you don't want to leave your family to spend a month at a guide dog school some distance from your home? At our school we invite you and your entire family to spend the weekend having fun in the sun while you train. In one short week you can effectively learn to work with a pocket poodle. You can carry the little dog in the palm of your hand and when the dog wiggles to the left, you turn left. When the dog wiggles to the right, you turn right. And when the dog lifts its little nose in the air, you stop because you're now at a curb or obstacle. If the dog puts its nose down, you are at a flight of stairs. The most complicated part of the training program is learning how deftly to slip your dog out of sight into your pocket; this is known as "the ole sleight-of-hand routine."

You and your family are invited to spend a luxurious weekend at the Hawaii Hyatt Hilton Hotel. Rooms are deluxe, meals are delicious, and every recreational facility is within reach. Between training sessions you may wish to spend time on the beach.

In our scientific matching process, you enter the hotel banquet room barefoot, and the first of the 500 trained pocket poodles in that room to lick your toes becomes your guide dog. One of the new frontiers in guide dog ideology is the concept that the dog should select you. Scientific studies have demonstrated that this procedure drastically reduces the number of poor matches.

We provide aftercare anywhere in the continental United States.

Should you for any reason have to return with your guide dog to Hawaii, do not fear the quarantine. After all, your dog is Out of Sight! We are anticipating establishing an annual mandatory walk-a-thon reunion. However, there are some logistical problems. The most serious one is the mass smuggling of pocket poodles back into Hawaii.

Who is eligible to receive an Out of Sight Guide Dog? Any blind person who can contribute $50,000 or more is eligible for an Out of Sight Guide Dog. The school as a charitable trust will pay all travel expenses and hotel accommodations. We will also provide a well trained, healthy Out of Sight Guide Dog. You don't have to walk fast or have good balance. All you need is a sleight of hand.

What are some of the additional advantages of our dogs? Small dogs, as we all know, live much longer than larger dogs. Often, our traditional guide dogs must be retired when they develop arthritis. However, since an Out of Sight Dog is carried in the palm of your hand, this need not be a problem. The advantage of carrying your guide dog in the palm of your hand is that you need never fear about scavenging, sniffing, or running after other dogs. No longer do you have to feel like an inadequate weakling when you cannot pick up your 85-pound dog to weigh him or her. You just hold our dog in the palm of your hand, and step on the scale. It will barely register a difference from your own weight. All of our dogs are trained to fetch on command. Our dogs are willing workers but do have difficulty lifting up heavy wallets and key chains. However, they are excellent at retrieving bobby pins and toothpicks.

Despite the phenomenal success in our new concept of guide dog training, we must recognize some disadvantages. With larger guide dogs, you had the problem of their painful stepping on your feet. With our guide dogs, however, should you step on your dog, a replacement may be needed at once. Another problem is cats. Your Out of Sight Dog is trained to get along well with cats. However, if the cat mistakes your guide dog for a mouse, a replacement might be needed at once.



(Laura Aune is a member of the National Federation of the Blind of Minnesota and works in the state office of the affiliate.)


by Laura Aune

2 large packages cream cheese softened to room temperature
1 pint whipping cream


Whip the cream until stiff (do NOT add sugar). Add cream cheese and whip with beater until thoroughly mixed. Now is the time to add whatever you wish. Some of the things I add are: garlic, salt, chopped onions, canned (drained) shrimp, or chopped green olives. The dip with green olives is wonderful for fancy tea sandwiches. This is a good dip for vegetables, chips, or whatever your heart desires.

by Laura Aune

2 or 3 ripe avocadoes

1 large package cream cheese softened to room temperature

1 16-ounce tub sour cream salt to taste

1 teaspoon lemon juice

1 teaspoon red pepper spice (or to taste)

1 small onion, finely chopped 1-1/2 cups shredded lettuce

12 ounces grated cheddar cheese 

2 tomatoes
chopped taco chips


Peel and seed avocadoes and beat. Add cream cheese and 8 ounces of sour cream, salt, lemon juice, and red pepper. Beat until smooth. If avocadoes are not quite ripe, dip will be lumpy but will still taste as good. Then add onions and mix well.

On large plate or platter spread mixture evenly. Then cover completely (to avoid the avocado from turning brown) with the rest of the sour cream. Top with lettuce, cheese, and tomatoes. Serve with taco chips and enjoy.


(Eileen Bleakley is the wife of Harold Bleakley, who is the President of Aids Unlimited. The Bleakleys are members of the Baltimore Chapter.)


by Eileen Bleakley

1 pound crab meat
bread crumbs (approximately 1/4 cup)
1/2 cup miracle whip (or other mayonnaise)
1 tablespoon worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon prepared mustard
1 tablespoon lemon juice
dash tabasco

Pick over crab meat, mix with bread crumbs, miracle whip, and seasonings. Fill buttered ramekins (or shells). Cover with buttered crumbs and bake 20 minutes in preheated 350 degree oven.

Serves 4.


by Eileen Bleakley

1/4 cup margarine
1/4 cup flour
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
2 teaspoons chopped onion
1 tablespoon worcestershire sauce
2 cups milk
salt and pepper to taste
2 cups cooked, drained mussel meats (freshly steamed are best)
1 cup bread crumbs mixed with
2-3 tablespoons butter or margarine

In saucepan over low heat, melt margarine, blend in flour. Remove from heat. Add parsley, onion, worcestershire and milk. Cook until thick (stir constantly). Season. Pour mixture and mussels into buttered shallow baking dish, top with crumbs. Bake uncovered in preheated oven at 375 degrees for 20 minutes or until crumbs are brown.


by Eileen Bleakley

1/2 cup shortening
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
3 mashed bananas (very ripe)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1-1/2 teaspoons salt
1 cup nuts (broken walnuts or pecans)
2 cups flour

Mix in order given. Bake in preheated 350 degree oven 45 minutes to an hour (until toothpick comes out clean).


by Eileen Bleakley

brown 1 pound ground beef and 1 onion, chopped

1 16-ounce can stewed tomatoes
1 small jar spaghetti sauce
garlic powder--generously
salt and pepper to taste
1 heaping teaspoon oregano
1/2 package finest noodles (thinnest)
1 cup water
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

Simmer all until noodles are done--stir to keep from sticking.

Serves 4 generously. Leftovers are microwavable if larger batch is desired.


(Darla Hamilton is Peggy Pinder's secretary.)


by Darla Hamilton

1 cup chocolate cookie crumbs
1/4 cup melted butter
3 tablespoons sugar
3 8-ounce packages cream cheese (room temperature)
1 cup sour cream
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons flour
3 eggs, separated
2 tablespoons cream de cacao
1 6-ounce package semisweet chocolate chips, melted
1 cup whipping cream

Combine cookie crumbs, butter and sugar. Press evenly on bottom of 9-inch springform pan. Chill while preparing filling.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Beat cream cheese, sour cream, sugar, and flour thoroughly. Add egg yolks, one at a time, blending well after each addition. Whip egg whites until almost stiff but not dry. Gently fold into cheese mixture. Fold in creme de cacao. Gently swirl slightly cooled chocolate through cheese mixture to give marbled effect. Transfer carefully to springform pan. Bake 60 minutes. Turn off oven and let cake cool with door open. When cool, remove sides of springform. Whip cream. Spread over cheesecake.


by Darla Hamilton

2/3 cup all purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
5 tablespoons well-chilled butter, cut into small pieces

3 8-ounce packages cream cheese, room temperature
1-1/2 cups sugar
4 eggs, room temperature
2 egg yolks, room temperature
2 cups flaked coconut
1 cup whipping cream
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
Toasted coconut (optional)

For crust: Combine flour and sugar in large bowl. Using pastry blender or 2 knives, cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse meal. Gather into ball. Wrap in plastic. Refrigerate 15 minutes.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Press dough into bottom of 10-inch springform pan. Bake until golden brown, 15 to 20 minutes. Cool slightly. Reduce temperature to 300 degrees.

For filling: Using electric mixer, beat cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Beat in eggs and yolks one at a time. Mix in flaked coconut, whipping cream, fresh lemon juice, vanilla and almond extract.

Pour filling into crust. Bake until edges of filling are firm, about 70 minutes. Let cheesecake cool completely.

Remove springform. Cover cheesecake with plastic wrap. Refrigerate 4 hours. Just before serving, sprinkle with toasted almond. Makes 12 servings.



We recently received the following card in the National Office:

We've added someone special To our family--it's true; And now we're introducing This precious child to you:

Name: Christopher Allen Robb Morris
Age: 16 months
Joined our family on: December 4, 1986
Parents: Dick and Dianna Morris

Dick is Recording Secretary for the Springfield Chapter of the National Federation of the Blind of Missouri and state board member.

**Egg Head:

The Reverend Henry Ward Beecher Called a hen a most eloquent creature. The hen pleased with that Laid an egg in his hat, And so did the Henry Ward Beecher.


E.U. Parker of Mississippi recently underwent surgery on his neck. He is now home from the hospital for recuperation. We wish him well, and speedy recovery.

**Elected: Ed Meskys writes:

"On Saturday, November 15, 1986, the Lakes Region Chapter of the National Federation of the Blind of New Hampshire held its elections. The following were elected: President, Louise Caldon; First Vice President, Ed Meskys; Second Vice President, William Richard Huber; Secretary, Mildred Dickey; and Treasurer, Beryl Dow."


We have been asked to carry the following announcement:

Smith Corona Model 8000 electric cartridge typewriter with bulletin print. Approximately 18 extra cartridges and parts. Very good condition. $300 including UPS. Contact Richard Brock, 15806 Fernway Road, Shaker Heights, Ohio 44120; (216) 752- 0355.

**Receive Service Award:

Allen Schaefer of Illinois writes: "At the annual Christmas dinner of the Prairie State Chapter of the National Federation of the Blind of Illinois Bill and Ruth Isaacs of Bourbonnais received the Miller Service Award. This is the Chapter's highest award for outstanding and dedicated service. The 1986 Award Committee was headed by Helen Vitko of Morris. Tributes to the Isaacs were presented by Jack and Charlene McLaughlin of Frankfort, Chapter President Allen Schaefer of Mazon, and state Second Vice President Steve Hastalis of Chicago.

"Bill Isaacs is a charter member of the Prairie State Chapter and serves as Vice President. He is also a member of the state Board of Directors and a board member of the National Association of Blind Educators. Employed as an Associate Professor of History at Olivet Nazarene University, he is active in the Kankakee community and the College Church of the Nazarene. Ruth Isaacs serves on the chapter board and was recently elected state Secretary. The Isaacs are leaders in the financial development of the Federation and were honored last summer as second place winners in the national competition to recruit NFB Associate members."

**California Guidelines:

We have been asked to carry the following announcement:

The California State Department of Education announces that it has developed a set of guidelines for the education of visually impaired children. The "Guidelines" are available in Braille for $25 per set. They are also presumably available in print. Price not specified. The Braille Guidelines will be sent Free Reading Matter unless UPS shipment is desired, in which case an additional $5 should be sent. Contact: M.S.M.T., 1186 Yulupa Avenue, Suite 349, Santa Rosa, California 95405.

**New Chapter:

Hazel Staley writes:

"On Tuesday evening, December 2, 1986, our state Secretary, Mabel Conder, and I met with a group of blind people in Concord and organized the National Federation of the Blind of Cabarrus County. There are eleven members of the Chapter. Officers are as follows: President, Terry Bostian; Vice President, Frances Copeland; Secretary, Janie Garland; Treasurer, Alice Dussault; and Board Member, Willard Newaome. These people have studied our literature and are very enthusiastic about the Federation. Several of them are planning to attend our convention in Phoenix.

I believe that this chapter will be a great asset to our affiliate and to our total movement."

**No Hassle in Airline Exit Row:

Theresa Herron, President of the National Federation of the Blind of New Hampshire, writes:

"On November 30, 1986, I was booked with USAir to fly from Baltimore, Maryland, to Manchester, New Hampshire, by way of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. At 5:55 p.m. I boarded flight 1930 for Philadelphia. Since it was a commuter flight, the seating was 'open,' and I seated myself across from the rear door by which we had entered. It did not occur to me it was considered an exit row until the usual pre-flight blurb, to which I paid scant attention until the row and door were mentioned and registered on my consciousness. In the unpredictable manner of the airlines, nothing had been said to me about my sitting in an exit row, only an offer to take my cane, which I politely but firmly declined. The flight was full, and some people were asked to exchange seats in order for children to sit with their parents, but not a word to me about the exit row across from the rear door. One never knows what the policy will be from one flight to another or one airline from another, simply inconsistent."

**Inherited or Contagious?

The following item is taken from the July-September, 1986, newsletter of the Diabetic Division of the National Federation of the Blind:

Question: Is diabetes inherited or how does one catch it? First, one does not catch diabetes. As far as we know, it is not the result of an infectious agent although in certain cases an infection may possibly precipitate an auto-immune process that could result in the development of Type I Diabetes. The exact mode of inheritance of diabetes is not well worked out. Nevertheless, there is no doubt that it runs in families. One factor making it difficult to understand and determine the genetics of diabetes is that it is probably a group of many different diseases that have in common hypoglycemia but which have different modes of inheritance.

**Airlines Ever on Our Minds:

Mary Ellen Halverson writes in Gem State Milestones, the newsletter of the National Federation of the Blind of Idaho:

Our family recently attended a Thanksgiving banquet at church. Before the dinner everyone was visiting in the upstairs lobby area. Soon a gentleman announced that it was time for the banquet, which would be held downstairs. He said that there were highchairs for the babies and that those families with little ones might go on down ahead of the crowd. He then invited senior citizens to go on down so that they could get settled ahead of the rush.

At this point a warning signal went off in my head, and I said to my husband, "Pre-boarding!" Would some well-meaning person come to us and suggest that we, too, go on ahead of the group? I am happy to tell you that this did not happen, and we proceeded with the rest of the bunch. Furthermore, no one offered to put my cane in the coat closet, nor did they seem to see it as a potential missile! Our family sat where we chose and settled in for a very enjoyable banquet.

**Guide to Guide Dog Schools:

"The Baruch College Guide Dog Book Fund announces the publication of A Guide to Guide Dog Schools in both print and cassette form. Written by Edwin Eames, Toni Ann Gardiner, and Avrama Gingold, this book describes the ten operational guide dog schools in the United States. In addition to describing the schools, basic issues related to getting a guide dog are explored. You can obtain a copy of A Guide to Guide Dog Schools in print form for $5.00 or in cassette form for $3.50. Checks or money orders should be made payable to: Baruch College Guide Dog Book Fund. No other form of payment will be accepted. Orders should be sent to: Professor Edwin Eames, Box 511, Baruch College, 17 Lexington Avenue, New York, New York 10010."


On November 23, 1986, the following people were elected to office in the Mahoning Valley Chapter of the National Federation of the Blind of Ohio: President, Louise Anderson; Vice President, Mary Lou Cahill; Secretary, Dolly Andervich; Treasurer, Mary Ann Dravecky; Two- Year Board Member, Helen Tabak; and One- Year Board Member, Katherine Goldman.

**For Sale:

We have been asked to carry the following announcement:

"Dorland's Medical Dictionary, Braille edition, 49 volumes, excellent condition. Best offer. Janell Peterson, 303 Harvard Avenue, East, Apt. 302, Seattle, Washington 98102; phone (206) 328-4778."


The November-December, 1986, Blind Missourian says:

"Annette Grove, member of the Gateway City Chapter, has recently accepted an appointment from the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF). She will begin her work in January of 1987 and expects to be assigned to six agencies during the year. Annette is currently the director of the Byron Lippman Counseling and Rehabilitation Center in St. Louis. This facility has been accredited by CARF for the past fifteen years. Therefore, Annette is quite familiar with the standards and the process involved. Unlike some accrediting bodies, CARF places particular emphasis on consumer involvement in decision making. Good luck to you, Annette, and congratulations to the Commission on their selection."

**Fired--More Iowa Shenanigans:

Time was when public officials and members of the press in the state of Iowa were about as sane and level-headed as any you could find anywhere in the country--especially, when it came to programs for the blind. But that was another era. The Cedar Rapids Gazette for November 20, 1986, reported as follows:

The State Board of Regents Wednesday fired Richard M. DeMott, who had been superintendent of the Iowa Braille and Sight Saving School in Vinton for nine years.

In a unanimous decision, the regents censured Demott, 45, for failing to cooperate with the regents' executive secretary, R. Wayne Richey, in this year's budget and planning process.

During the open session at a meeting in Iowa City, Richey accused DeMott of withholding budgetary information, of forwarding "misleading and inaccurate information," of purposefully avoiding conversation with the board office and, finally, of "performing a great disservice to the students and faculty" of the Iowa Braille and Sight Saving School.

DeMott denied the accusations.

In an interview immediately after the firing, DeMott indicated that he was the victim of a political battle with Richey over a proposal floated earlier this year to merge the Iowa Braille and Sight Saving School with the Iowa School for the Deaf....

This article is typical of the coverage carried throughout the state, and one hardly knows what to believe. Early in 1986 the Regents did, indeed, float a proposal to merge the schools for the deaf and blind, plus the fact that they have never shown much real understanding of or interest in learning about the real problems of blindness. On the other hand, DeMott has (to use the kindest terms one can muster) been a lackluster superintendent. He may very well, as charged, have withheld information and been muleheaded. But then, there is the ineptness of the Governor and his staff and their positive genius for always managing to end up being part of the problem instead of part of the solution on anything dealing with blindness. Finally there are certain sensation-hunting newspapers, which apparently feel that to aggravate tension and exaggerate facts will increase the sale of papers. A distasteful spectacle--and that is exactly what it is, witnessed by the entire nation. So DeMott has been fired. Ho hum. Who's next? Who cares? One day the public of Iowa--an eminently sensible (even if overly patient) lot--will have had enough; and then the reckoning is likely to be both far-reaching and severe. Not everyone in the state has forgotten what good programs for the blind can be. Not everyone has totally flipped.


We have been asked to carry the following announcement:

"SOCIAL POLICY, a magazine for social change, is now available on audio tape cassette. The magazine focuses on a wide breadth of issues: from the new feminism, voting rights, and the self- help movement to disability rights, initiatives for full employment, and more. Beginning with the first issue of 1986 (Winter) cassettes of the quarterly publication are available for $5 each (plus $1.50 for postage and handling). A year's subscription (4 issues) is available at the regular subscription price of $20, including postage. Address inquiries or your order to Social Policy, 33 West 42nd Street, Room 620N, New York, New York 10036 or call (212) 840-7619."


In mid-December the Des Moines Chapter of the National Federation of the Blind of Iowa issued the following press release:


The Des Moines Chapter of the National Federation of the Blind of Iowa held its annual election of officers Friday evening, December 12, 1986. The new President is Curtis Willoughby, a telecommunications engineer. First Vice President is Fred Moore, a businessman. Second Vice President is Joel Jeffries, an attorney. Secretary is Dick Webb, a musician; and Treasurer is Jacquie Cummings, a computer programmer and homemaker. Elected to the organization's board of directors were Les Secor, a sheet metal shear operator; Bill Pearce, an attorney; April Enderton, a homemaker; and Wayne Cooley, a Drake University student majoring in actuarial science. All officers and board members are blind.

**New Grandparents:

Jim and Sharon Omvig are the proud new grandparents of Brittany Anne Omvig-- born to Jamie and Margaret Omvig of Baltimore--November 26, 1986. She weighed in at seven and a half pounds and measured twenty-one inches.


In the Fall, 1986, HSMAI Marketing Review (the magazine of the Hotel Sales and Marketing Association International) an article entitled "Does Your Hotel Welcome Handicapped Guests," appears. The author of the article is Harold Snider, President of the National Federation of the Blind of the District of Columbia and President of the Society for the Advancement of Travel for the Handicapped. The HSMAI Marketing Review is sent to more than 30,000 hotel managers and is widely read.

**AAAS Announces:

We have been asked to carry the following announcement:

"The Project on Science, Technology, and Disability of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) maintains a Resource Group of Scientists and Engineers with Disabilities. Members of the Resource Group consult with schools and colleges, employers, legislators, and other disabled persons, thereby helping to open doors to education and careers in math, science, and engineering for interested disabled people.

"In addition, the National Science Foundation has awarded AAAS a grant to publish the Second Edition of the Resource Directory of Scientists and Engineers with Disabilities in Spring, 1987. The Directory lists names and other data about scientists and engineers with disabilities and is a resource for educators and students seeking information on better access to educational programs. The Directory is especially useful to scientists and engineers who become disabled mid-career and wish to learn coping strategies others have developed.

"AAAS requests that disabled scientists, engineers, and students of these disciplines cooperate in this national effort by identifying themselves. AAAS will contact those persons identified and will provide more information about joining the Resource Group and being listed in the Directory. AAAS will not use, without permission, the names of individual scientists or students of science who respond. Please write or call Diane Lifton, Project on Science, Technology and Disability, AAAS, 1333 H Street, NW, Washington, D.C. 20005; (202) 326-6678 (Voice/TDD)."


The "Recipe" column is one of the most popular items in the Monitor each month. Federationists from throughout the country tell me that they collect the recipes, try them, and enjoy them. In response to this upsurge of interest the Editor has pledged to have not fewer than six recipes in upcoming issues of the Monitor--but the recipes have to come from somewhere. We would like to feature recipes from a different state each month. This can be done if Federationists from all of the states make it possible by sending us recipes. Please do it--immediately. Let us know who should be credited for the recipe, along with any other tidbits of information you wish to include.

**Killed in Accident:

As we go to press, we have just learned that on the evening of Monday, January 12, 1987, Richard H. Evensen, his wife Loraine, and his guide dog were killed in an accident in Wheaton, Maryland. Mr. Evensen, Head of the Braille Development Section at the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, had worked at NLS since the early 1970's. Before coming to NLS he lived in Boston. He was a graduate of Harvard and had a master's degree in library science from Catholic University. He was a member and former chairman of the Braille Authority of North America. We have very few details about the circumstances of the deaths of the Evensens. We are informed that they had got off a bus near their home and were starting to cross the street when they were hit by an oncoming car.