Vol. 31, No. 9                                              December, 1988

Kenneth Jernigan, Editor

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



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ISSN 0006-8829

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Vol. 31, No. 9                                              December, 1988


by Kenneth Jernigan





by Geerat J. Vermeij

by Barbara Walker


by Barbara Pierce

by Barbara Mattson

by Sharon Maneki

by Geraldine Burke

by Hazel Staley




Copyright � 1988, National Federation of the Blind, Inc.



by Kenneth Jernigan

The Braille Monitor has been in existence for more than thirty years. It started, to be exact, in 1957. But if you take into account the All Story Magazine (which you really have to), the history stretches far back beyond that.

The All Story was around when I was a boy at the Tennessee School for the Blind, but at that time it was straight fiction. Somewhere along the line (I'm not sure just when) Dr. Newel Perry of California began writing a legislative supplement. But as sometimes happens when things compete with the Federation, the supplement grew and the stories diminished so that by and by the name All Story wasn't appropriate. The transition occurred in the mid-fifties, and by 1957 the All Story was gone and the Monitor was in place.

In its thirty-one-year history the Monitor has had quite a variety of geographic locations and editorial configurations. It was edited in Wisconsin, in California, in Iowa, and in the District of Columbia; and of course it is now edited in Baltimore. During one period Dr. tenBroek was the editor. For a three-month hitch in 1960 I was editor. For quite some time Mrs. tenBroek did some of the editing and all of the layout and management. And there have been others Dr. Floyd Matson, who is now a professor at the University of Hawaii; George Card, who fell by the wayside in the internal struggles of thirty years ago; and Perry Sundquist. At the time we moved our headquarters to Baltimore in 1978, Don McConnell was editing the Monitor . He was located in the Washington office and was doing an excellent job. However, he left Federation employment just before the beginning of 1979 to accept a business opportunity, and I filled in as editor for a few months until we could find somebody else. That few months has now stretched to almost ten years, and I am still at it. Editing the Monitor has been and is demanding, time-consuming, burdensome and wonderfully stimulating and rewarding. It is just plain fun with, of course, a dollop of work thrown in. But fun or not, we have had so much organizational growth that something has to give. The dynamics of the Federation make it necessary. I have been looking for a long time (ten years, to be precise) for an associate editor and I am pleased to tell you that I have now found her. Beginning with this issue, Barbara Pierce, President of the National Federation of the Blind of Ohio and long-time leader at the national level, joins the Monitor staff.

Of course, Barbara is no stranger to Federationists or readers of this publication. She directs our national public relations campaign, participates prominently in national conventions, and is sometimes seen at NAC demonstrations. She wrote the Monitor convention articles for the 1987 and 1988 national conventions and is a frequent contributor to these pages. I believe she will do an excellent job as associate editor. I suppose I don't need to say that, for if I hadn't believed it, I wouldn't have asked her to serve.

To take this assignment Barbara resigned from her position as Assistant Director of the Alumni Association of Oberlin College, where she had worked for seven years. In her Oberlin job, which she tells me was extremely challenging and interesting, she engaged in an astonishing variety of activities conducted tours to England, handled the graphics for brochures, designed commemorative plates, kept minutes for the Alumni board, wrote bulletins, counseled students, and made the ultimate sacrifice of serving as wine taster to decide what beverages should be bought for ceremonial dinners. Just the sort of background needed for an editorial position with the Monitor.

So what will she do in her new position? She will read state and division newsletters to glean items for publication. She will do research on assigned topics for articles. She will think up topics on her own and do original writing. And she will serve as a sounding board, a copy girl, a work horse, and an ambulatory and auditory adjunct for the Editor. It would now appear that she will spend something like every other week in Baltimore and the remainder of her time working at home. A big order? Yes, but that's how we are.



In preparation for the 1989 National Federation of the Blind convention in Denver, Priscilla Simmons says: Here are excerpts from Leadville:

Colorado's Magic City

by Edward Blair, Pruett Publishing, Boulder, Colorado, Copyright, 1980:

The spring of 1849 saw the greatest western migration in American history. California gold lured men from all over the world. Colorado in 1849 did not exist, even in men's imaginations. It was merely a mountainous barrier that lay between the cities and farms of the East and the waiting wealth of California. The eastern part of Colorado, along a line south from Denver, was Kansas Territory. The northeastern corner of the Centennial State belonged to Nebraska; the rest, except a narrow slice along the present southern border that in 1850 became New Mexico Territory, was part of Utah Territory.

After the California excitement died down, a few men remembered stories they had heard about gold in the Rocky Mountains and returned to try their luck. By the time they reached Cherry Creek, near the present site of Denver, a large number had become discouraged. Only about a dozen stayed on. A couple of months later, in July of 1858, those who remained struck a pocket of gold in Dry Creek in what is now south Denver. Not long after the strike was made, a group of mountain traders wandered by while the prospectors were working the gulch. The prospectors' labor only netted about $800 worth of gold, but the traders carried the word and inflated the value. In Kansas City they told of a rich find at the base of the mountains in the western end of Kansas Territory. The rush was on!

After quoting from the book, Priscilla says: In July of 1989, 131 years later, members of the National Federation of the Blind will rush to Denver, coming together for one week of solid gold! Come early and visit Confluence Park, where the first gold was discovered in Denver. Or stay late and journey by bus to nearby Cripple Creek (another gold town) and enjoy an evening at the melodrama. Contact the National Center in Baltimore and make your reservations soon! Rates are low, and the members of the NFB of Colorado are planning to give you the most enthusiastic hospitality and the best convention in the NFB's history.



In recent years the National Federation of the Blind has devoted substantial effort and resources to its scholarship program. This has been done in the belief that if the blind are to achieve first-class status in society, they must have the opportunity to compete with others on terms of equality. This is another way of saying that the blind must be able to attend institutions of higher learning. To that end we continue to strengthen our scholarship program.

In 1989 twenty-six outstanding blind students will receive scholarships from the Federation, totaling $69,000 in cash plus payment of their expenses to the National Federation of the Blind convention in Denver during early July. Ten blind scholars will receive awards of $1,800; two will receive awards of $2,000; ten will receive awards of $2,500; three will receive awards of $4,000; and one (the student judged to be the most outstanding blind scholar in the nation) will receive a $10,000 scholarship award.

The Federation's commitment to excellence and achievement is long-standing. We have made this commitment real through our many Federation programs and projects. No Federation activity spotlights excellence and achievement more than our scholarship program, through which we honor and encourage America's distinguished blind students.

The Scholarship Committee for 1989 (their terms expire December 31, 1989) consists of the following thirty-two people: Peggy Pinder, Iowa, Chairman; Adrienne Asch, New Jersey; Jan Bailey, Minnesota; Michael Baillif, California; Steve Benson, Illinois; Jacquilyn Billey, Connecticut; Suzanne Bridges, Louisiana; Charles Brown, Virginia; Sharon Buchan, Alaska; Dawnelle Cruze, Virginia; Tami Dodd, Michigan; Joanne Fernandes, Louisiana; Priscilla Ferris, Massachusetts; Norman Gardner, Arizona; Sharon Gold, California; Charles Hallenbeck, Kansas; John Halverson, Missouri; Allen Harris, Michigan; David Hyde, Oregon; Christopher Kuczynski, Pennsylvania; Melody Lindsey, Florida; Ron Matias, Indiana; Homer Page, Colorado; Barbara Pierce, Ohio; Ben Prows, Washington; Mary Ellen Reihing, Maryland; Eileen Rivera, Maryland; Fred Schroeder, New Mexico; Larry Streeter, Nebraska; David Ticchi, Massachusetts; Ramona Walhof, Idaho; and Gary Wunder, Missouri.

Our Scholarship Application Form (copy reproduced at the end of this article) consists of a single legal-sized page with printing on both sides. We are making an initial printing of 50,000 of these forms. They will be sent to every college and university in the country, every agency doing work with the blind, every congressional office, every NFB state president, and every member of the Scholarship Committee. They will also be sent to anyone requesting them. These are worthwhile scholarships, which will be of real assistance to blind students.

The news about our scholarship program should be disseminated as widely as possible. To receive forms or to obtain further information, contact Peggy Pinder, Chairman, National Federation of the Blind Scholarship Committee, 814 - 4th Avenue, Suite 200, Grinnell, Iowa 50112; phone (515) 236-3366. Forms can also be had by writing to: Scholarships, National Federation of the Blind, 1800 Johnson Street, Baltimore, Maryland 21230. Here is the Scholarship Form:

National Federation of the Blind 1989 Scholarship Program

Each year at its national convention in July the National Federation of the Blind gives to legally blind persons pursuing or planning to pursue a full-time post-secondary course of study a broad array of scholarships. The following scholarships will be given at the National Convention in 1989:

1. Ezra Davis Memorial Scholarship; $10,000; endowed by Ezra Davis and given by the American Brotherhood for the Blind, a nonprofit organization which works to assist blind persons. Applicants must be studying (or planning to study) at the post-secondary level. No restriction as to gender, graduate or undergraduate level, or field of study.

2. National Federation of the Blind Merit Scholarships; nineteen to be given; three for $4,000; seven for $2,500; and nine for $1,800. Applicants must be studying (or planning to study) at the post-secondary level. No restriction as to gender, graduate or undergraduate level, or field of study.

3. Howard Brown Rickard Scholarship; $2,500. Applicants must be studying (or planning to study) law, medicine, engineering, architecture, or the natural sciences. No restriction as to gender or graduate or undergraduate level.

4. Hermione Grant Calhoun Scholarship; $2,500. Dr. Isabelle Grant endowed this scholarship in memory of her daughter. Limited to female students. May be studying (or planning to study) at either graduate or undergraduate level.

5. Frank Walton Horn Memorial Scholarship; $2,500; given by Mr. and Mrs. Charles E. Barnum, the mother and stepfather of Catherine Horn Randall. No restriction as to gender, graduate or undergraduate level, or field of study, but preference will be given to those studying architecture or engineering.

6. Francis Urbanek Memorial Scholarship; $2,000; given by Joe Urbanek in memory of his brother Francis, who died in January, 1986, at age eighteen; limited to blind high school graduates entering their freshman year of college.

7. Ellen Setterfield Memorial Scholarship; $2,000; given in memory of Ellen Setterfield by Roy Landstrom, who says: During the course of her life, she gave of herself to defending the dignity and self-respect of those around her. Restricted to students at the graduate level in the social sciences.

8. Melva T. Owen Memorial Scholarship; $1,800; given in memory of Melva T. Owen, who was widely known and loved among the blind. She and her husband Charles Owen became acquainted with increasing numbers of blind people through their work in the Voicepondence Club. Charles Owen says: There shall be no limitation as to field of study, except that it shall be directed towards attaining financial independence and shall exclude religion and those seeking only to further general or cultural education.

Criteria: All scholarships are awarded on the basis of academic excellence, service to the community, and financial need. Membership: The National Federation of the Blind is an organization dedicated to creating opportunity for all blind persons. Recipients of Federation scholarships need not be members of the National Federation of the Blind.

Deadline: Applications for National Federation of the Blind scholarships must be received by March 31 of the year in which the scholarship is to be awarded.

Making Application: To apply for National Federation of the Blind scholarships, complete and return the application on the reverse side of this sheet. Multiple applications are unnecessary. Each applicant will be considered for all scholarships for which he or she qualifies. Please provide all the applicable information requested and attach to the application all the additional documents requested on the application. Send the application to:

Miss Peggy Pinder, Chairman, National Federation of the Blind Scholarship Committee, 814 - 4th Avenue, Suite 200, Grinnell, Iowa 50112; (515) 236-3366.

Reapplication: We have often awarded scholarships to persons applying for the second or third time. Even if previously submitted, current applications must be submitted to be considered for current scholarships. Those who have previously applied are encouraged to apply again.

Winners: The Scholarship Committee reviews all applications and selects the scholarship winners. These winners, the same number as there are scholarships to award, will be notified of their selection by June 1 and will be brought to the National Federation of the Blind convention in July at Federation expense. This is in addition to the scholarship grant. The winners are America's finest blind students. The National Federation of the Blind Convention is the largest gathering of blind persons (more than 2,000) to occur anywhere in the nation each year. You will be able to meet other blind students and exchange information and ideas. You will also be able to meet and talk with blind people who are successfully functioning in your chosen profession or occupation. Federal officials, members of Congress, and the makers and distributors of new technology attend Federation conventions. Above all, a broad cross section of the most active segment of the blind population of the United States will be present to discuss common problems and plan for concerted action. It is an interesting and exciting week.

Awards: The day before the convention banquet the Scholarship Committee will meet to determine which winners will receive which scholarships. The scholarship awards will be made during the banquet.

National Federation of the Blind Scholarship Application Form

Read reverse side of form for instructions and explanation. Form may be photocopied but only if reverse side is also included. To apply for a scholarship, complete this application form and mail completed application and attachments to: Miss Peggy Pinder, Chairman, National Federation of the Blind Scholarship Committee, 814 - 4th Avenue, Suite 200, Grinnell, Iowa 50112. Form must be received by March 31, 1989.

Name (please include any maiden or other names by which you have been known):

Date of birth:

School address:

School phone number:

Home address:

Home phone number:

Institution being attended in spring semester, 1989, with class standing (freshman, senior, etc.): Cumulative grade point at this institution:

Institution to be attended in fall of 1989, with class standing. Send by separate letter if admitted to school after submitting completed application: List all post-secondary institutions attended with highest class standing attained and cumulative grade point average: High school attended and cumulative grade point:

Vocational goal:

State your major:

Awards and honors (attach list if necessary):

Community service (attach list if necessary):

Attach the following documents to completed application:

1. Send us a letter: What schools have you attended? What school do you plan to attend during the coming year? What honors have you achieved? What have you done to deal with situations involving your blindness? What are you like as a person? What are your goals and aspirations? How will the scholarship help you?

2. Send two letters of recommendation.

3. Provide current transcript from institution now attending and transcripts from all other post-secondary institutions attended. If you have not yet attended such an institution or have not completed one year of study, send high school transcript. 4. Send a letter from a state officer of the National Federation of the Blind evidencing the fact that you have discussed your scholarship application with that officer. We prefer that you discuss your application with the Federation state president, but a letter from any Federation state officer will suffice. President's address provided upon request.



Produced in Collaboration with
Daniel Finkelstein, M.D.
Associate Professor of Ophthalmology
The Wilmer Eye Institute
Johns Hopkins University
Baltimore, Maryland

Published and Distributed by
The National Federation of the Blind
1800 Johnson Street
Baltimore, Maryland 21230
Marc Maurer, President


I am pleased that the National Federation of the Blind has revised this useful publication and asked The Wilmer Eye Institute of Johns Hopkins University to become involved in its publication. As an ophthalmologist I have observed that patients usually need one place to receive information about dealing effectively with losing their vision beyond the medical advice they are given by the eye doctor. They frequently, for example, need assistance with Social Security benefits, aids and appliances, and a myriad of other things which can ensure continued independence and productivity. Most of all, they need encouragement in the maintenance of a positive attitude about themselves. The National Federation of the Blind, through the National Blindness Information Center and its network of state affiliates and over five hundred local chapters, provides such a resource. I urge readers to use it by calling or writing to the address displayed on the front of this book for information about all aspects of what one does and where one goes to receive assistance with loss of vision and moving beyond misleading stereotypes about blindness.

Daniel Finkelstein, M.D.



I. The Normal Eye and Its Function

II. Common Eye Conditions and Causes of Blindness in the United States

III. If Blindness Comes




The National Federation of the Blind (NFB) first published Blindness and Disorders of the Eye in 1977 because there was a need for a concise and readable publication in a single volume on common eye disorders and realistic attitudes about blindness. None existed then, and for the most part little has changed. However, many excellent works on specific eye disorders are available from organizations active in prevention of blindness, and many of them have been consulted in the preparation of this edition of Blindness and Disorders of the Eye. The titles of these are provided as references at the end of this booklet. We are pleased to present this revised and expanded edition in the continued belief that better information and adequate medical care can prevent much blindness or in some cases lead to its cure. If blindness does come, however, it is possible for those who are afforded proper training and opportunity to lead normal, productive lives by using alternative techniques which do not require the use of sight. Today, therefore, no one need remain unemployed or dependent solely because of blindness. We invite you to contact the National Federation of the Blind, 1800 Johnson Street, Baltimore, Maryland 21230, (410) 659-9314, for more information about education, rehabilitation, and general opportunities available to the blind citizen today.

Who is Blind? There is a tendency to think of only the totally blind as "blind." A relatively small percentage of blind people are in fact totally blind. Many more may be termed "legally" blind (for example, to determine eligibility for certain governmental services and benefits) if (a) they have a central visual acuity of 20/200 or less in the better eye with correcting glasses (that is, they can see only at twenty feet what a person with normal vision can see at 200 feet) or (b) have a field of vision which at its widest diameter faces an imaginary angle no greater than twenty degrees. In other words one is legally blind if, even with correcting glasses, he or she has ten percent or less of normal vision in either of these ways. The width of the visual field, affected by many of the conditions described in this publication, is as important as the central acuity, even though an uninformed person may assume that anyone with 20/20 central vision can see "perfectly."

A different and much more meaningful definition than the legal one, therefore, says that a person is blind if in a substantial number of situations it would be more efficient to use alternative, nonvisual techniques (traveling with a long white cane, reading and writing Braille, and so on) instead of relying on sight, regardless of the type of visual loss.

The fact that many who are blind have sight which is useful for some purposes has caused them to try relying on their partial vision in situations where alternative techniques would be more efficient for them. Unfortunately they are frequently pushed along this course by uninformed and misled professionals who do not really believe that a blind person can function competently and thus see alternative techniques as badges of inferiority. The sensible course of action for anyone with a substantial loss of vision is, of course, to learn alternative techniques and then to select the methods that work best for him or her in each situation encountered.

This is particularly true with respect to blind children who have some remaining vision and need to obtain such services as Braille instruction and cane travel . No one would argue that a child's vision is unimportant and should not be protected or that eye problems should not be discovered and treated as soon as possible. A great deal of helpful literature on prevention and detection of blindness in children is available, a sample of which is listed in the bibliography.

However, it is also easy to be misled with respect to the capacity of a blind child by such arguments as the contention that eighty-five or ninety percent of what we learn comes through our eyes. Such statements standing alone imply that deprivation of physical sight renders a person incapable of learning or less capable than the sighted. While (under ordinary circumstances) the brain and central nervous system rely heavily on and assimilate visual information, obviously sight is only one of the brain's sources of information. Blind people thus can and do use the other senses to obtain information otherwise obtained through physical vision. One should not, therefore, suppose that a blind child or adult is incapable of learning or that a blind person's intellectual potential is less than it would have been had he or she possessed sight. To do so would be to exaggerate greatly the impact blindness has on one's ability to lead a normal, satisfying life. Parents of blind children seeking to aid their children's realization of potential will find support and a wealth of information through the Parents of Blind Children Division of the National Federation of the Blind. The work of this division includes publication of Future Reflections, a quarterly magazine for parents of blind children, which provides information and insights into all aspects of rearing blind children from infancy to adulthood. A free subscription, along with other helpful information, may be obtained by writing the Parents of Blind Children Division, National Federation of the Blind, 1800 Johnson Street, Baltimore, Maryland 21230.

On the other end of the age spectrum, as the average age of the population increases, more families will likely be concerned with the problems of the aging blind. The sections which follow on presbyopia, "floaters," "dry eye," cataract, glaucoma, and retinal disorders will be of special interest to those with older family members.

The evidence of public misunderstanding and misinformation about blindness lies in what we commonly read in surveys on the subject: the public fears blindness more than any condition except cancer; children fear only the death of a parent more than becoming blind; and so on. Because of these attitudes people often seize upon such intricate and useless devices as electric or electronic guidance systems for the blind using wires in the floor and special canes or even wish for miraculous developments in artificial sight to escape feelings of helplessness and hopelessness at the thought of becoming blind. They trust elaborate and ingenious techniques to get around what they view as the outright calamity of blindness. It is doubtful, however, that anything serves the blind person as well as time-tested alternative techniques and a realistic and positive philosophy of blindness.

I. The Normal Eye and Its Function Anatomy and Physiology of the Eye

The eye begins in the human embryo as part of the brain, occurring first as a lateral outpouching and then an infolding. The inner layer of the infolding eventually becomes the retina, the inner coating of the eye with nerve fibers connected to the brain through the optic nerve, which transmits electrical impulse messages to the brain to produce vision.

The retina is like the film in a camera, receiving an upside-down light "picture," which is "developed" by the brain. The photoreceptors of the retina are rods and cones, the rods most responsible for vision in darkness and for peripheral vision and the cones more responsible for color vision, vision in bright light, and central vision. Vitamin A, usually present in adequate amounts in the diet, is necessary for the photochemical reaction in the retina to take place.

At the junction of the iris and the choroid there are small muscles called the ciliary body, which control the shape of the lens for focusing as well as opening and closing the pupil. What we see begins as light reflected from some object within our visual field. It strikes the cornea, the transparent outer layer of the eye, and passes through the pupil to the lens, which focuses the light through the transparent, gel-like vitreous onto the retina. The iris, a circular structure in front of the lens, changes the size of the pupil—smaller in bright light ("miosis") and larger (dilation or "mydriasis") with less light. The lens is held in place by fasteners called zonules. A gel-like material , the vitreous body, fills the cavity behind the lens. Muscles in the eye control the shape of the lens for proper focus, making it thicker for close objects and thinner for distant ones. The eye receives its blood supply from the middle layer between the retina and the sclera (see below), known as the uveal tract. This pigmented vascular layer is divided anatomically into the iris, from which the eyes get their color, and a back portion called the choroid. The amount of pigment in the iris varies, and in general one can say that a blue iris represents a lack of pigment while a dark brown iris displays a normal amount of pigment.

The outer coat or sclera is the "white of the eye" and is like a strip of tendon in consistency. The cornea is the front portion of the sclera. Just below the cornea is a chamber containing a continuously flowing clear, watery fluid called the acqueous humor, which is contained by the anterior and posterior chambers between the cornea and the lens and separated by the iris. Since the lens and the cornea have no blood vessels, they receive their nourishment from the acqueous humor, which constantly flows out of small channels located at the angle where the iris and the cornea meet. If this outlet of acqueous humor is impeded in any way, then the pressure in the eye rises and a condition known as glaucoma may result (see below).

Muscles on the outside of the eye are responsible for moving the eye so that it can "aim" at an object. When looking at close objects, the eyes converge and lens focus changes. This focusing power for close work is usually lost or impaired by the time an individual reaches the age of forty-five, a condition known as presbyopia (see glossary entry).

Visual Function

When we want to see something clearly, we aim our eyes in such a way as to place the object onto a depression in the central portion of the retina known as the fovea, which is surrounded by the macula lutea. The concentration of cones in this area makes this highly sensitive part of the eye most useful for acute vision. At the same time, however, we can indeed see objects below, above, and to the sides in our peripheral field of vision. The retina, therefore, has two visual properties: resolution (central vision) and detection (peripheral vision). A simple example illustrates this. If we hold up two fingers in front of our eyes and we can tell they are two fingers, we are demonstrating resolution. At the same time, a bird might fly overhead so that we could detect there is something up there, but we would be unable to resolve it and distinguish exactly what it is. A visual acuity test is for resolution; a visual field test is for detection. To determine a person's visual functioning, an examiner must know both the visual acuity and the visual field.

Three illustrations of why it is important to know both the acuity and the field should suffice. An eye with a cataract is, for example, analogous to a camera with a dirty lens. All the images are blurred, both central and peripheral. In such a case visual acuity may test at 20/200, making the person functionally blind. An eye with a macular hole, on the other hand, also tests at 20/200 visual acuity, but it is more analogous to a camera with a small spot on the film. A person with such a condition has poor central visual acuity but retains peripheral vision. Finally, a person with retinitis pigmentosa (see below) may appear to have excellent vision if his or her central visual acuity tests 20/20, but the peripheral vision can be so reduced that there is difficulty in functioning as a sighted person.

The Snellen chart, used to test visual acuities, consists of lines of letters and numerals visible to the average person with normal eyesight at different distances stated on the chart. In recording visual acuity, the first number is the testing distance and the second is the distance stated on the chart for the smallest letters read by the person being examined. For example, 20/20 vision is testing vision at 20 feet for a particular person, and it also says that the average person can see the same letter at 20 feet; 20/40 means that the smallest line read by the person tested at 20 feet was the one visible to the average person at 40 feet.

Blind spots in the visual field called scotomas do occur, frequently without being obvious to those who have them. This is why peripheral field defects are insidious, especially in such diseases as glaucoma, pointing up the need for routine eye examinations.

II.Common Eye Conditions and Causes of Blindness in the United States

This section includes information on only the most commonly encountered eye conditions, and it reduces a great deal of medical and technical detail to language understandable to the lay inquirer. Many medical facts have, in the interest of clarity and brevity, been simplified; therefore, this text is not in any way intended as a basis for self-diagnosis or lay diagnosis of anyone's eye condition, a job which belongs to the eye doctor. If you are wondering whether anything is wrong with your eyes, we urge you to see an eye doctor at once. If you cannot afford to pay, there are many agencies and funds which can help you. Some of the conditions described below are hereditary (passed on from one generation to another through genes and chromosomes), but there are many patterns of heredity, even for a single disorder. Specific questions about the inheritance of a particular characteristic in an individual or family should be directed to a genetic specialist. A family physician can usually provide the proper referral.

Approximately 500,000 people in the United States are legally blind—roughly 0.2% of the population. Blindness occurs most often in the older age brackets, with half of all blind people generally considered to be over 65; but a significant number of blind people are children or young adults.

Following are descriptions of the specific eye conditions which are most common or most generally known in the United States. In some cases the categories described overlap somewhat, and in most cases a given disorder has various forms and patterns, depending on the circumstances. In addi- tion, the anatomical diagram and text in Section One explain terms used to describe parts of the eye, and brief explanations of other eye conditions not generally considered to be leading causes of blindness may be found in the glossary. Generally we have not attempted to rank causes by percentages or numbers of cases since such statistics are constantly changing, and the analysis of them is a complex matter. The bibliography lists a few of the many references which may be used for further study


Albinism is a hereditary condition in which there is a lack of normal pigment in part or all of the body. The hair is white, the skin very fair, and the iris of the eye white or pinkish. The person with albinism usually has poor vision, an imperfectly developed retina, oversensitivity to light, and nystagmus (abnormal muscle movement causing constant twitching or jerking of the eyes).

Specially treated lenses can improve vision and can also lessen discomfort by reducing the amount of light entering the eye. There is no cure for albinism.


The general term amblyopia applies to poor vision which is not due to any observable disease and which cannot be corrected by glasses. It may be congenital (present at birth) or may develop later.

Sometimes the cause is unknown; however, blindness can often be prevented if proper steps are taken. A common example is "lazy eye" or amblyopia ex anopsia, affecting perhaps one to two percent of children. This condition occurs in a young child if one eye becomes so dominant that the other is suppressed and deteriorates through lack of use. This is likely to happen if the two eyes focus differently because of strabismus (see below) or because one eye is much more nearsighted than the other. One eye may fall into disuse as the person relies on images from the other. However, the eye may appear perfectly normal to others. If this problem is discovered and treated early enough (generally before the age of six or seven), often the unused, weak eye will regain its strength. Otherwise permanent loss of vision may result. Many service organizations provide free preschool screening tests in an effort to find and refer these children before the vision of one eye is completely lost. Treatment generally consists of correcting the basic inequality of the eyes through surgery or corrective lenses and/or putting a patch over the strong eye temporarily to force the weak one to work again. Eye examinations at birth and again by three years of age are recommended to increase chances of early detection and effective treatment.


The lens of the human eye is comparable to the lens of a camera or magnifying glass, and for obvious reasons it needs to be transparent and free of flaws. The development of what are called cataracts, or opacities and clouding of the eye's lens, blocks the passage of light through the eye. Various forms of cataract make up one of the leading causes of blindness in this country today. Although some cataracts are congenital (present at birth), likelihood of developing them increases with age. Chemical changes in the lens and diabetes have also been associated with development of cataracts, and chemical burns and heredity may cause them. All of the causes, however, are not known. Like the majority of eye conditions, they are not contagious. Cataracts are not painful. In fact the only symptom as far as the patient is concerned is from very slight to virtually total interference with vision. Cataracts may be manifested in dimmed, blurred, or double vision or a need for frequent changes of glasses . Typically a person with cataracts experiences difficulty in satisfactorily adjusting light for activities like reading while at the same time having to avoid glare. Driving at night may for this reason become very difficult. Not all cataracts require surgery, some being small enough that they do not seriously affect vision. For those large enough to cause visual problems, medication does not help; and the only effective treatment is surgery to remove the affected lens, implantation of an intraocular lens, and the subsequent wearing of conventional eyeglasses or strong contact lenses.

Much progress has been made recently in the development of improved forms of cataract surgery, including use of freezing probes and ultrasonic (not to be confused with laser) devices which make possible removal of the lens through a small opening in a process called phacoemulsification. The decision about whether and when to operate is dependent on factors such as the patient's age and occupation. The likelihood of regaining useful sight is generally good, with some estimates placing it as high as 95%, although complications may prevent successful treatment in some cases. It is no longer necessary to wait for cataracts to "ripen" before operating, and convalescence from the surgery is faster and safer than ever before.


This familiar condition is predominant in males (in about 8% as opposed to around 0.5% of females) and most commonly is a sex-linked inherited characteristic transmitted through the male chromosome, although it may also result from poisoning or retinal disease. Generally affecting both eyes, it most often takes the form of a loss of perception of one or two fundamental colors (red-green color blindness is the most common congenital variety), but occasionally it is complete, so that the individual literally sees only in black and white.

The exact mechanism of color blindness has not been fully explained, but some writers simply attribute it to an absence of one or more of the cone pigments or an abnormal presence of a mixture of two of the color-sensitive pigments in one cone. In any event, use of various charts to test for color blindness is commonly included as part of an eye examination, especially for drivers and workers in industry and transportation, where the ability to distinguish colored signals is important. One of the most familiar tests consists of a circle containing dots of different colors, in which the subject with normal color vision is supposed to discern one number, while a person with defective color vision is likely to see another.

Some have found the pattern of inheritance for this recessive characteristic confusing. To put the matter simply, a female will usually not be color-blind herself unless there is an abnormal gene for color blindness on both of the X chromosomes carried by all females. On the other hand a male, who carries only one X chromosome, will be color-blind if it contains an abnormal gene. Moreover, the female with only one abnormal gene inherited from her father can become a "carrier" and pass the trait on to a male offspring without being color-blind herself. There is no treatment for color blindness, and it cannot be overcome through any type of eye exercises.


The term congenital means "present at birth"; hence, this term includes some or all cases of many conditions listed under other headings in this publication. Some congenital eye conditions like retinoblastoma are truly hereditary (passed on through the genes and chromosomes), while others are the result of a disease or deficiency during pregnancy—for instance, German measles (rubella). Often the exact cause of a congenital defect is unknown. Following are examples of conditions which may be seen at birth as a developmental deficiency of unknown cause: aniridia—absence or near absence of the iris microphthalmos—an abnormally small eye, usually with poor vision megalophthalmos—an abnormally large eye present at birth anophthalmos—absence of the eyeball (an artificial eye can usually be worn, and the eyelids are usually present.) coloboma—a cleft or slot in the iris and/or retina, as a result of incomplete growth.


The cornea, a transparent layer over the front of the eye, functions as a refracting and protective "window" membrane through which light rays pass on the way to the retina. While there are no blood vessels in the cornea, there are many pain fibers, so that most injuries do cause severe pain. In addition, blurred vision results from injury to or disorder within the cornea. Problems in this area, resulting as they can in permanently blurred vision or blindness, are extremely serious and should receive immediate attention from an eye specialist. Corneal ulcers—Scarring or perforation due to corneal ulceration is a major cause of blindness throughout the world. Usually such ulcers can be treated if attended to quickly. Ulceration may be caused by bacteria such as streptococcus, viruses (herpes simplex keratitis being one of the most common), fungi, vitamin A deficiency, or other disorders. New drugs have aided the treatment of many of these conditions. Degenerative corneal conditions—Keratoconus, a rare degenerative condition which is inherited, causes a general thinning and an abnormal protrusion of the central cornea, as well as some scarring. Blurred vision results, and in advanced cases there may even be perforation of the cornea. While contact lenses (especially the new soft types) can aid vision in the early stages, corneal transplants are sometimes performed before extreme thinning takes place, and in such cases reading vision can usually be obtained. Other degenerative conditions include corneal dystrophy and arcus senilis, an extremely common condition in elderly people. Other types of corneal disorders may be indicated by pain, irritation, or blurred vision; however, some corneal ailments can be detected only by a trained eye specialist. Corneal Transplant (Keratoplasty)--When the cornea becomes scarred, hazy, or opaque or when there is danger of perforation of a corneal ulcer, an ophthalmic surgeon may remove the affected cornea and replace it with a healthy one taken from a donor. In many states it is easy for one to donate eyes for this purpose at death. Only the cornea is used in such cases. There is no immediate prospect of successful whole eye transplants. Surgeons would prefer to use the donated cornea immediately, but it may be used within sixty to seventy hours after death if handled properly. New techniques for this procedure involving surgery under a microscope and use of finer suture material have constituted a major advance in treatment of corneal disorders. Ordinarily using a knife called the trephine, which functions rather like a cookie cutter, the surgeon performs what is called a "penetrating keratoplasty." The defective cornea is cut with the knife and lifted out. A matching piece of the donor cornea is cut with the same knife , used to replace the excised piece of the defective cornea , and held in place by very fine sutures. The convalescence from this surgery is relatively brief and uncomplicated these days. Best vision returns when the sutures are removed about one year after surgery. Chances of rejection of the new cornea are rated by most authorities at from one to five percent.


This eye condition, a very common complication of diabetes, rivals glaucoma and cataracts as a leading cause of blindness in this country. Its incidence is rising as a result of the increased lifespan of diabetics, which has been made possible by improved medical technology and particularly by the synthesis of insulin in the early years of the twentieth century. The likelihood of retinopathy increases with the length of time a given person has had diabetes, so that many who have been diabetics for twenty or more years do become blind. Long-term diabetes often brings about changes in the tiny blood vessels in the retina (the lining of the back of the eye). There are two forms of diabetic retinopathy. The milder form, background or nonproliferative, is the more common. It involves development of microaneurisms in retinal capillary blood vessels, which usually do not cause serious vision loss. A relatively small number of diabetics develop the more severe, or proliferative, form of retinopathy, which can cause blindness. With its onset new, abnormal blood vessels may be formed; blood vessels may become engorged with too much blood and burst, or the retina may break loose from the back of the eye. In addition to the direct interference with vision caused by these events, blood from the burst vessels enters the vitreous (jelly-like) part of the eye and makes it cloudy instead of transparent. Modern medical treatment administered as early as possible in the course of the disorder can often slow the course of diabetic retinopathy. Laser treatments sometimes can seal or "weld" broken blood vessels or seal a detached portion of the retina back into place. Photocoagulation treatment consists of scattering hundreds of small, quick flashes of intense laser light across the retina in order to seal or dry up new blood vessels. It must, however, be undertaken before there is bleeding into the vitreous or detachment of the retina. Although in many cases these kinds of treatment are wholly or partially unsuccessful, the techniques are continually being refined. Medical science does not yet fully understand just what characteristics of diabetes bring about retinopathy. Although good adherence to a diet, regular administration of insulin, and other prescribed regimens will improve the patient's general health and help to lower the likelihood of complications in general, the most careful and conscientious patient may still become blind. On the other hand, some people have severe diabetes for many years and never develop eye problems.


Tears help keep the eye's surface clear and smooth. There are actually three layers of tears on the surface of the eye, and there are two kinds of tears: those intended as lubrication and those prompted by intrusion of something from outside the eye or by emotion.

If one for some reason does not produce enough of the first kind of tears, symptoms such as burning and irritation may result. Then, the second kind of tears may be produced as a reaction to the irritation. A certain degree of decrease in tear production occurs normally with age, but some physical conditions like arthritis and some drugs may also contribute to development of dry eyes. Through examination of the eyes and in some cases testing the rate of tear production, an ophthalmologist can determine whether treatment with artificial tears in the form of eyedrops is necessary. The doctor may also seek preservation of natural tears through closing the channels which drain them from the eye.


Many readers may be surprised to find that German measles is associated with blindness since it is commonly thought of as a very minor disease. Neither child nor adult is likely to be harmed permanently by a case of German measles, but an unborn baby may be very much affected. If an expectant mother has the disease during the first three months of pregnancy, she herself will probably hardly feel sick at all, but the disease is likely to infect her unborn child through the placenta, with serious results.

Many of these babies are born mentally retarded, and they also are likely to have physical problems. Heart disease, hearing disorders, and respiratory difficulties are particularly common. Many rubella children have cataracts or other eye problems like glaucoma, abnormally small eyes, or defects in the iris or retina.

A number of preventive efforts have been made to minimize this threat to the unborn. Children—especially girls—should be exposed to the disease or vaccinated if possible so that they may have mild symptoms and develop resistance to German measles for the future. Women who might be in the early stages of pregnancy should avoid contact with cases of German measles.


Glaucoma is another of the leading causes of blindness in the United States, perhaps accounting for one in every seven or eight cases. In this condition, the transparent fluid inside the forward part of the eye does not drain normally, and excess pressure is built up within the eye. If the pressure is not controlled, the delicate structure of the eye is increasingly damaged, resulting in blurred vision, a narrowed field of sight, and eventually total blindness. Symptoms may include intermittent blurred vision, nausea, inability to adjust eyes to darkened rooms, seeing colored halos around lights, and reduced side vision.

The causes of glaucoma are not fully understood. Some cases are hereditary, while others arise as complications of other eye disorders. Glaucoma, not a contagious condition, is most common after the age of thirty-five. The acute type of glaucoma appears as a sudden attack, characterized by great pain and discomfort as the eye pressure rises quickly from blockage of drainage canals. Such an episode can damage the eyes severely in a short time. More common, however, is the chronic type (affecting perhaps 2.5 million Americans), in which there is no pain and in which the damage to vision is so slow that it may not be noticed by the patient for a long time. The intraocular pressure rises because the drainage canals are blocked and the fluid cannot drain properly. Many cases are controlled by medication which relaxes and unblocks the drainage channels for the eye fluid. Sometimes surgery is necessary. In many cases, although not all, modern medical treatment can control the disease completely. As with other eye conditions, early detection and treatment to stop the progress of the disorder are important. Many sources recommend an eye examination every two or three years, especially for those over thirty-five. Developments such as optic disk topography mapping, the laser scanning ophthalmoscope, and color perimetry may assist in early detection and treatment of this disorder.


In an era when cures for disease are constantly being developed, injury remains a prominent cause of disability, and eye injuries are no exception. Preventable accidents injure the eyes of approximately 500,000 Americans each year.

Adequate protective eye guards (not just any goggles or eyeglasses) should always be worn during welding , in factories and laboratories, and in any other situation where the danger of burns or other injury exists. Children must be effectively taught not to point arrows, BB guns, or other sharp or dangerous objects toward the face. Farmers using anhydrous ammonia or other chemicals must observe suitable safety precautions since chemical burns are an important cause of injury on farms. Everyone should know the basic principles of emergency first aid in case an injury does occur. In case of a chemical burn, the eyes should immediately be rinsed thoroughly with water for at least fifteen minutes, and emergency medical care should be secured at once. For other injuries, it is generally best to leave the eye alone or if necessary to cover it with a loose bandage while securing emergency medical care. Hyphema, a hemorrhaging into the anterior chamber, is a sign of serious injury. In such a case blood will be visible through the cornea, and a doctor's help should be sought at once. In addition to direct damage due to the injury itself, the danger of infection is always present and may be even more serious. Moreover, injury to a single eye may result in pathologic symptoms in the other, a condition called sympathetic ophthalmia, which in the past often meant that total blindness ultimately resulted from injury to a single eye. Although the exact cause of sympathetic ophthalmia is not fully understood, it can usually be prevented today by prompt medical care. We do not have the power to foresee and prevent all injuries. With proper precautions, however, a great many accidents can be prevented, and the effects of those which do occur can be minimized.


As the inner surface or lining at the back of the eye, the retina serves a function similar to that of the film in a camera. The macula (the proverbial "apple" of the eye) is the part of the retina which forms the center of the "picture" and the sharpest image. Degeneration or breakdown of the macula may come from many causes. Some cases are hereditary, and others are caused by diseases such as arteriosclerosis. The course of the deterioration may be slow or rapid; however, the patient generally keeps good peripheral vision—that is, he can still see well around the edges of his visual field, although his central vision is blurred.

The most common form of this condition occurs in the elderly. In severe form this is called "age-related macular degeneration" (AMD), which occurs mostly in people over fifty years old. While a person with macular degeneration may retain substantial peripheral vision, the ability to read, sew, or drive may be seriously impaired. Magnifiers may help, and a small percentage of cases of a rare form of AMD may be candidates for laser treatment to seal off blood vessels which have grown beneath the retina or to repair the macula's weak spots by removing worn-out tissue and allowing new tissue growth.


Myopia results when the eyeball is longer than normal or when there is some change in the eyeball which causes the light rays to be bent abnormally. In either case when a distant object is observed, the parallel light rays passing through the lens into the eye tend to be focused in front of the retina rather than on it, and the result is a fuzzy image. Rays coming from nearby objects are more easily brought into focus, and thus the person is described as "nearsighted."

Most nearsighted people need only wear properly prescribed corrective lenses in order to see normally. These people are said to have simple myopia, which hardly ever causes blindness. A much less common condition, generally hereditary, is degenerative (or progressive) myopia.

Persons with this condition may not see well even with glasses. Complications such as retinal detachment, cataracts, or secondary glaucoma may appear with degenerative myopia.


Continuous jerky, involuntary movements of the eye muscles are called nystagmus. These oscillations may be in any or all directions, but are usually more pronounced in some directions than others and are usually fairly consistent in a particular individual. Sometimes dizziness is associated with nystagmus. The person with nystagmus has reduced visual acuity from being unable to maintain steady fixation on objects. The exact cause of nystagmus is not fully understood, but it seems to be associated with poor vision in a kind of "vicious cycle" that is, nystagmus makes it more difficult to see, while at the same time poor vision increases the likelihood of nystagmus. Usually this disorder cannot be cured. The individual may find he or she is more comfortable and sees better if the head is tilted or moved slightly to compensate for the involuntary movements, and often this will be done unconsciously.


The well-chosen name of this disease means "inflammation in the eyes of the newborn." Once a dreaded and very common cause of blindness, it is now preventable by means of modern hygiene and medical care. Ophthalmia neonatorum appears soon after birth, but it is not hereditary. It is caused by the entrance of bacteria from the mother's birth canal into the baby's eyes. Inflammation appears in the eyelids and cornea and may spread further if not treated. Often the bacteria are those of gonorrhea, but other bacteria (such as staphylococcus) may be the cause as well.

A successful treatment to prevent the development of this disease was discovered in 1880, and this treatment or its equivalent is now required by law. The eyelids of every newborn baby are cleansed, and drops of a silver nitrate solution (sometimes penicillin and other antibiotics) are put into the eyes. Effort is also directed, of course, to promoting good health on the part of the expectant mother so that she will not transmit harmful germs to her baby.


These two conditions of the optic nerve have become a special concern of those who work with young children. In optic nerve atrophy the problem is damage to or degeneration of the optic nerve. Generally it results from a condition occurring after birth, but it can also be hereditary. Frequently, it results from pressure against the optic nerve and resultant loss of blood supply to it, for example from hydrocephaly or tumors. Without blood the nerve cells die from lack of nourishment. In optic nerve hypoplasia there is a congenital deficiency of optic nerve fibers, which may exist independently or in association with other disabilities or defects. There is some evidence to suggest that this disorder is related to alcohol or drug use by mothers during their pregnancies, but in many cases the cause is unknown.

PRESBYOPIA (See glossary.)


Sometimes as part of the aging process, sometimes through inheritance of a predisposition toward them, and sometimes from other causes, people may develop breaks in the retina which often lead ultimately to detachment of the various layers of the retina from each other. As with other eye conditions, early detection and treatment of these problems can help prevent blindness. Sometimes there are not any dramatic symptoms associated with these breaks in the retina; however, such noticeable symptoms as "floaters," haziness or smokiness, or light flashes in the eye may indicate retinal problems. An immediate examination by an eye doctor is recommended. Treatment for retinal breaks involves use of cryotherapy or lasers. In the former, a freezing probe is applied to the surface of the eye over the point of the retinal break. Only the area around the break is frozen, prompting the growth of scar tissue and reattachment of the separated retinal layers at the edges of the break. Lasers are used to burn tissue selectively so as to reattach the separated retinal layers in a process similar to welding.


This condition is characterized by degeneration of the retina and the choroid, usually involving an abnormal development of excess pigment. It is hereditary, with a variety of patterns of inheritance and development. The pattern of development most frequently observed is as follows:

At approximately age ten or twelve, the youngster begins to experience some difficulty in seeing at night and in poorly lighted areas. His or her visual field also begins to narrow, although he or she may not realize this at first. The visual loss is progressive, so that the individual usually becomes legally blind by young adulthood and slowly loses more and more vision thereafter. Many adults with retinitis pigmentosa have a very tiny field of vision in which they see well under a good light but which is so small as to be of little use. Total blindness often results. There may or may not be additional problems, such as cataracts. There is no known treatment.


Retinopathy of prematurity (ROP), which sometimes advances to a condition known as retrolental fibroplasia (RLF), was thought for a long time to be caused by exposing a newborn (frequently premature) baby to a high concentration of oxygen in an incubator, but there is now less agreement and certainty about the cause. In any case, an abnormal proliferation of blood vessels in the eye occurs, and there may be subsequent development of scar tissue , with bleeding and detachment of the retina. Total blindness may result. Glaucoma, uveitis, cataract, and degenerative lesions of the eye may occur months to years after onset of the RLF stage. Strabismus and myopia are commonly associated with cases in which the blood vessels partially heal. In the large majority of ROP cases (about 80%) abnormal blood vessels heal completely in the first year of life. In other cases scars from incompletely healed ROP result in either mild or severe RLF. In the most severe cases (about 5%) retinal detachment results from formation of scar tissue and the resultant pulling loose of the retina from the normal position in the back of the eye. Recently cryotherapy (freezing part of the retina while it is immature) has drawn some interest as a possible treatment for ROP and is currently under study.

The history of ROP/RLF has affected the education of blind children in the United States. Because of the surge of RLF cases in the 1950's, large numbers of blind children reached school age at a time when social sentiment began increasingly to favor the "mainstream" placement of children with disabilities in the regular classroom. The parents of many RLF children worked successfully to arrange for education in the regular public schools, a trend which continues today.


Commonly called "crossed eyes" when the eyes turn in and "wall eyes" when they turn out, this condition is frequently due to muscle inequality. It can also result from trauma at birth, hereditary factors, or other disorders. It must be treated—usually with corrective glasses, medication, surgery, patching of one eye, orthoptic exercises, or some combination of these.


Trachoma is a contagious disease, caused by a virus, which affects the eyelids and the cornea. Though still common in many less developed countries, it has become rare in the United States. It can be prevented through modern sanitation and medical care.

The exact pattern of development varies with the individual, but the following symptoms are typical: The eye becomes painful, with burning sensations and oversensitivity to light. Vision is disturbed (or in some advanced cases destroyed) as the cornea becomes more and more opaque. An excess of tears is produced and often an additional discharge. The eyelids develop muscle spasms; and the eyelashes may be turned inward, further irritating the cornea.

In its early stages a case of trachoma can usually be cured by administration of suitable drugs and improved cleanliness and general health. Surgery is helpful in some cases. However, if the case is far advanced or if complications have set in, successful treatment may be impossible. Prevention is the best way to control this disorder.


Not all tumors and growths are cancer. A "benign" or "nonmalignant" tumor is not much different from the surrounding tissue. It stops growing after it reaches a certain size and does not spread to other areas of the body. Some benign tumors in or near the eye cause no trouble at all. Others, however, do interfere with sight or cause pain. Such a tumor may be removed surgically, and in many cases the eye recovers to become completely normal.

A cancerous tumor is much more threatening than a benign tumor. It is greatly different from surrounding tissue, grows rapidly without stopping, and often spreads through the lymph system to sprout growths in other parts of the body.

There are many different kinds of cancers which may appear in or around the eye. The most common is melanoma, a malignant spot of color. (Note: Some benign tumors are also called "melanomas.") Retinoblastoma is a cancer of the retina. Usually hereditary, it appears in very young children and is believed to be present at birth in an incipient stage.

If any history of this disease is known in a family, it is vital that each baby be examined frequently by an ophthalmologist. The eye specialist can detect the cancer before it is visible to the layman and before it causes any discomfort to the child. If the condition is untreated, the cancer will spread to the brain and elsewhere, causing death.

Successful treatment of a tumor is always much more likely if it is begun early. Radiation, drugs, and/or surgery may be used, but frequently complete removal of the eye and any other affected tissue may be necessary.


An inherited disorder present at birth or early in life, Usher's Syndrome involves hearing loss and a progressive loss of vision caused by retinitis pigmentosa (discussed above). The hearing loss associated with this disorder, which may be from mild to profound, usually does not progress. The retinitis pigmentosa, however, follows the usual pattern of progressive loss—first of night vision and gradually of peripheral vision. The incidence of Usher's Syndrome is estimated by the RP Foundation at about 1 in 15,000 to 30,000 births. There is no treatment for this disorder, but there has been some benefit from cochlear implants for those with severe hearing loss.


Inflammation of the uvea, the middle layer of the eye between the sclera and the retina, is called uveitis. Symptoms include light sensitivity, blurring of vision, pain, and redness of the eye. This condition can affect other parts of the eye—cornea, retina, sclera, for example—and may be serious enough to lead to loss of vision. It may come on slowly with little pain but with blurring of vision, or it may appear suddenly, accompanied by pain and redness of the eye.

Uveitis near the iris in the front of the eye is called iritis; that near the ciliary body is called cyclitis; and that in the choroid near the back of the eye is called choroditis. Many causes of uveitis have been identified, ranging from viruses like shingles, mumps, or herpes to funguses or parasites. Arthritis and injury have also been associated with uveitis. This disorder is generally treated with medication, although some complications may make surgery necessary.


With modern medical care, most cases of venereal disease can be cured. Ignorance and other barriers, however, often encourage the development of these diseases, and blindness can be the result. Advanced gonorrhea can cause pain, discharge, severe irritation of the eyelids and eyes, and corneal ulceration. As indicated earlier, the germs of gonorrhea may even infect the eyes of a newborn baby as the child passes through the birth canal of an infected mother.

Advanced syphilis may cause a rash on the eyelids, irritation of the cornea or retina, muscle paralysis, and degeneration of the nerves. Babies may be born with congenital syphilis acquired from an infected mother.

III. If Blindness Comes

Modern medicine can prevent or cure many diseases and conditions which formerly blinded large numbers of people if it is given the chance. We urge all readers to take advantage of the excellent medical care available today and to protect their eyes from injury so that unnecessary blindness may be prevented. When medical care cannot prevent or cure blindness, the National Federation of the Blind assures the reader that another course of action which leads to normal, productive living is available. That course is to secure good education and training in the use of alternative techniques and to develop the attitudes and beliefs necessary to reduce blindness from the level of a tragedy to a level which does not prevent the leading of a normal life, with full participation in economic and social activity. In this connection the following information should be of assistance:

(1) Although sight is not the single most valuable thing in a person's life, it is by all means to be protected carefully. One should, therefore, select a competent eye specialist with appropriate training and visit him or her for regular eye examinations to detect problems before they become acute. If one experiences problems with the eyes, he or she should visit the specialist immediately for diagnosis, treatment, or referral to avoid needless loss of vision. In that regard it may be helpful to point out that an ophthalmologist is a physician (Doctor of Medicine) who specializes in medical and surgical treatment of conditions of the eye and prescription of corrective lenses; an optometrist (Doctor of Optometry) is a specialist in examining the eyes and prescribing corrective lenses but not medication; and an optician (not a doctor) is a person skilled in grinding lenses and fitting them according to prescriptions written by optometrists or ophthalmologists. Ophthalmologists, formerly known sometimes as "oculists," are (in most parts of the country) the only eye specialists permitted to prescribe medication or perform surgery.

(2) If serious problems do develop, one should insist on candor from the doctor about his or her eye condition and the best estimate of where it will lead.

(3) If one discovers that he or she is, in fact, losing sight, he or she should not delay learning the alternative techniques which will be the passport to independence as a blind person. A call or letter to the National Federation of the Blind at the address shown on the front of this publication will enable us to put the newly blind person in touch with local educational and rehabilitation services and with local and state affiliates of the National Federation of the Blind. Through the Federation one learns the very fundamental truth that the real problem of blindness is not the loss of eyesight but rather the misunderstanding and lack of information which exist. We believe that if a blind person has proper training, and if he or she has opportunity, blindness need not prevent the leading of a normal life, with full participation in economic, civic, and social affairs.


The National Federation of the Blind is the largest organization of the blind in the United States. Interested sighted persons also join. Founded in 1940, the Federation has grown to include more than ten percent of the nation's blind (over 50,000 members).

The Federation is organized in every state and has local chapters in almost every community of any size in the nation. Where there is no local chapter, there are members at large. Each year the National Convention of the Federation is attended by approximately 2,500 blind persons, which makes it the largest gathering of blind people in the history of the world and one which is growing each year.

The ultimate purpose of the National Federation of the Blind is the complete integration of the blind into society on a basis of equality. This objective involves the removal of legal, economic, and social discriminations; the education of the public to new concepts concerning blindness; and the achievement by all blind people of the right to exercise to the fullest their individual talents and capacities. It means the the right of the blind to work along with their sighted neighbors in the professions, common callings, skilled trades, and regular occupations.

There are numerous governmental agencies and private charitable organizations and foundations providing services for blind people, but only the blind themselves (acting through their own organization) are able to speak for the blind. This is a basic concept of democracy.

The Newly Blind

Blindness knows no discrimination. Any child can be born blind. Any individual can become blind in childhood or later life. It is in the best interest of every individual to understand blindness and how to cope with its problems.

The newly blinded person faces a difficult adjustment. Studies have shown that only cancer is feared more than blindness. However, blindness does not need to be the tragedy which it is generally thought to be. One of the best medicines is to meet other blind people and learn of their jobs and the techniques they use in doing things without sight. Membership in the NFB provides this common meeting ground and, even more important, a sense of participation and restoration of confidence. Members of the NFB contact newly blinded persons to help them with problems of adjustment and orientation. Local chapters ordinarily hold monthly meetings, and state organizations usually meet annually. The National Convention is held each summer in a major American city and is the ultimate authority of the Federation, which establishes all policy. The newly blinded person must also know where and how to get the training and services he or she needs. The National Federation of the Blind can work with the person to find and provide information on available services from governmental and private agencies, as well as facts about laws and regulations concerning the blind. More and more of the governmental agencies and private foundations are becoming responsive to the views and needs of the blind and are learning new concepts and attitudes about blindness. The future looks bright. There is an overwhelming feeling of goodwill and a wish to help on the part of the general public. Most important of all, the blind are moving forward to speak for themselves and take a hand in the management of their own affairs through their organization, the National Federation of the Blind.

Programs and Services

Public Education—By means of speeches, pamphlets, and radio and TV appearances, members of the NFB strive to educate the general public to the fact that the blind are normal individuals who can compete on the basis of equality with their sighted peers. The Braille Monitor is a monthly publication of the NFB devoted to issues, news, and events which have special significance to the blind. It is published in Braille, in print, on record, and on cassette and is available without cost to the blind and sighted alike upon request to the National Office at the address on the front of this book.

Job Opportunities for the Blind—Blind persons seeking employment may use regular public and private employment agencies. However, because of widespread misconceptions about the abilities of the blind, special employment services may be helpful. Blind people today work as lawyers, psychologists, machinists, farmers, and hairdressers; but the best estimates indicate that 70 percent of those who are able to work still do not have jobs or work only a few days a month in sheltered workshops. Many thoroughly capable blind persons have never had a job.

To respond to this critically high unemployment rate, the National Federation of the Blind, in cooperation with the United States Department of Labor, developed a program called Job Opportunities for the Blind. JOB helps qualified blind people who are looking for work find employers with job openings. JOB also helps employers seeking competent workers and compliance with affirmative action requirements for hiring the handicapped find truly qualified employees. JOB conducts educational seminars about blindness for employers and career planning seminars for unemployed blind people.

Protection of Rights—There are barriers to full participation in society by the blind. The National Federation of the Blind stands ready to help blind people overcome these barriers when collective action is necessary to invoke protection of applicable state and federal laws in such areas as employment, education, housing, insurance, public transportation, and public facilities. Social Security Benefits—Legally blind persons who have paid into the Social Security system may be eligible for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) under the special rules which apply to the blind. Legally blind senior citizens considering early retirement should first learn if they might qualify for more benefits under SSDI. Blind persons who have little or no regular income or savings may qualify for monthly payments under the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program. Again, there are special rules which apply only to the blind. Local Social Security offices have information and applications. The National Federation of the Blind can help with problems in understanding the regulations, incorrect denial of benefits, or related problems. Rehabilitation—Every state has a public rehabilitation or vocational rehabilitation agency which provides training, counseling, and employment placement services to the blind. Sometimes the service is provided directly, and sometimes it is contracted out to private rehabilitation facilities. Some funds through the rehabilitation agency are usually available to students for college education or other post-secondary training. Our National Office can provide information about where to apply for services in your area.

Library Services—Every state has free library services for those who because of a physical or visual defect cannot read ordinary print books. Books and magazines are available (on loan or free of charge) in Braille, in large print, and on cassette and record. Special cassette machines and record players to use in listening to the taped or recorded reading matter are also loaned without cost to blind library users. For details about where and how to apply for services in your area you may contact us or your local library.

Free Reading Matter Mail Privilege—Recorded, Braille, and large print reading matter (including library books and magazines) may be mailed to and from blind persons free of charge if "Free Matter for the Blind" is written or stamped on the envelope or package. Braille watches, white canes, or other special appliances for the blind are included in this privilege. We will be happy to answer questions about the Free Reading Matter mail privilege.

Education of Blind Children—The passage of Public Law 94- 142, the Education of All Handicapped Children Act, established certain rights and protections for blind children and their parents. Blind children are now entitled to a free public education in the "least restrictive environment," and parents have the right to help plan their child's educational program. Contact us for more information about the education of blind children, parent organizations, newsletters, etc. Also, the National Federation of the Blind publishes a magazine for parents of blind children. This publication provides information and insights into all aspects of raising blind children from infancy to adulthood. A free subscription is available to parents and other interested persons by writing to Future Reflections at the address on the front of this publication.

Scholarships—Blind students can take advantage of the same scholarship programs that are available to sighted students and should be encouraged to do so. However, there are also scholarships which are only available to blind students. The National Federation of the Blind, for example, awards over $60,000 a year in scholarships to worthy blind students. Contact us for further details about these and other special scholarships for the blind.

Products and Aids—Technology has made many useful products available to the blind. Some aids make daily life easier (for example, the Braille watch) while others have opened up more employment opportunities for the blind (for example, talking computers). We can supply more information about local and national resources regarding products and technology for the blind.


Accommodation. The adjustment of the eye for seeing at different distances, accomplished by changing the shape of the crystalline lens through action of the ciliary muscle, thus focusing a clear image on the retina.

Artificial Eyes. See prosthesis.

Astigmatism. A refractive error which prevents the light rays from coming to a single sharp focus on the retina for near or distant vision. Binocular vision. The ability of a person's two eyes to focus on one object and to fuse the two images into one. Blepharitis. An inflammation of the eyelids. Buphthalmos. Abnormally large eyeball in infants, usually in cases of infantile glaucoma.

C.F. Abbreviation used in eye reports to note that the person tested counted fingers held up by the examiner.

Coloboma. A congenital cleft due to failure of some part of the eye to complete its growth.

Concave lens. Lens having the power to diverge rays of light; also known as diverging, reducing, negative, myopic, or minus lens, denoted by the minus sign.

Cones and Rods. The two kinds of receptor cells in the retina. Cones receive information related to visual acuity and color; rods receive information related to peripheral vision and vision under low illumination (e.g., night vision). Conjunctivitis (pink eye). Inflammation of the mucous membrane which lines the eyelids and covers the front part of the eyeball, ending at the cornea.

Convergence. The process of directing the visual lines of the two eyes to a near point. The near point of convergence is defined as the nearest point at which the two eyes can direct their gaze at the same time. Usually this is about three inches from the nose. Convex lens. Lens having the power to converge rays of light and bring them to a focus. Also known as converging, magnifying, hyperopic, or plus lens, denoted by a plus sign. Corneal graft (Keratoplasty). Operation to restore vision by replacing a section of opaque cornea with transparent cornea. Dacryocystitis. An infection or inflammation of the lacrimal (tear) sac.

Diplopia. Seeing one object as two, i.e. "double vision." Dyslexia. A reading problem which may be neurological in origin rather than strictly visual.

Enucleation. Complete removal of the eyeball through surgery. Evisceration of the eyeball. Surgical procedure in which the cornea and entire contents of the eyeball are removed, leaving only the sclera. This procedure is seen to leave more support for an artificial eye than does enucleation.

Exophthalmos. Abnormal protrusion of the eyeball. Field of Vision. The entire area which can be seen without shifting one's gaze or turning the head, about 150 degrees. Focus. The point to which rays converge after passing through a lens. The focal distance is that distance between the lens and the focal point.

H.M. Abbreviation used in eye reports (where visual acuity tests 1/200 or less) to note that the person tested can detect hand movements. Iridectomy. Surgery in which a piece of the iris is removed, particularly in some procedures for cataract extraction or treatment of glaucoma. Iris. The colored circular membrane suspended behind the cornea and immediately in front of the lens. Iritis. Inflammation of the iris. Additional symptoms include pain and discomfort from light.

Laser. A generated light of one wave length, all of which has the same energy and can be focused to a pinpoint to seal tears, breaks, etc. in the eye.

L.P. Abbreviation used in eye reports where visual acuity tests 1/200 or less to indicate that the individual can detect light, though without localizing the source. Occasionally one encounters variants such as "PLL" for "perceives and localizes light," and "No LP" or "nil" for total blindness.

O.D. Abbreviation for oculus dexter, the medical designation for the right eye.

Ophthalmoscope. An instrument with a special illumination system for viewing the inner eye, particularly the retina and associated structures.

Optic atrophy. An atrophy (wasting away) of the optic nerve tissue, which carries impulses from the retina to the brain, leading to visual loss.

O.S. Abbreviation for oculus sinister, medical designation for the left eye.

O.U. Abbreviation for oculus unitas, medical designation for both eyes.

Peripheral vision. Ability to perceive the presence, motion, or color of objects outside the direct line of vision. The measurement of this ability is just as important as that of central visual acuity in determining a person's total visual functioning. One may, it will be recalled, have 20/20 central vision with a loss of peripheral vision so severe that he or she is legally and functionally blind. Photophobia. Abnormal sensitivity to light and the attendant discomfort. Presbyopia. Decreased ability of eyes to focus on near objects and loss of elasticity in eye's lens, commonly associated with aging and generally corrected with reading glasses or bifocals. Prosthesis. An artificial eye and/or the procedure by which it is used to replace a missing eye. Artificial eyes can be made and fitted for normal appearance and movement by the eye muscles. Two artificial eyes or one in combination with a natural eye can usually be made to move together normally without special effort on the part of the individual. A properly fitted artificial eye is not uncomfortable to wear and is perfectly attractive in appearance.

Refraction. (1) The bending or deviation in the course of rays of light in passing from one transparent medium to another of different density. (2) The determination of refractive errors of the eye and correction by glasses.

Refractive error (ametropia). A defect in the eye that prevents light rays from being brought to a single focus on the retina. Refractive media. The transparent parts of the eye having refractive power: cornea, aqueous, lens, and vitreous. Retinal detachment. A separation of the retina from the choroid (vascular layer behind the retina). This results in a break in the connections between cones and rods and the pigmentary epithelium. The condition often results from holes and tears in the retina. Retinoscope. An instrument especially designed to determine the refractive state of the eye by projecting light onto the retina. Rods. See Cones and Rods. Scotoma. A blind or partially blind spot in the field of vision. Snellen Chart. The familiar chart seen in most doctors' offices, consisting of lines of letters or numbers in different sizes. Each line is labeled with the distance at which a person with normal central visual acuity can read it, most generally when he is standing or sitting twenty feet away from the chart. (See also Visual acuity.) Sympathetic ophthalmia. Inflammation in one eye following injury to the other. This condition can thus lead to total blindness.

Tunnel or "gun barrel" vision. Popular names for the severely contracted visual field associated with such conditions as retinitis pigmentosa. The loss of peripheral vision and retention of central vision gives the impression of looking through a long tube or tunnel. Uveitis. Inflammation of one or all portions of the uveal tract (includes iris, ciliary body, and choroid).

Visual acuity. Term commonly used to mean central visual acuity, the degree of sharpness with which one can distinguish detail in his or her direct line of central vision (that which registers on the small part of the retina called the macula). Distant visual acuity is expressed in terms of the test situation relative to the Snellen chart, using a number such as 20/100. This simply means that on the test the subject saw at 20 feet what a person with normal vision would see at 100 feet. For acuities less than 20/200, the first number becomes the actual distance at which the subject can read the 200-foot letter (for example, 5/200). Near visual acuity is tested using another chart of lines printed in different type sizes. (See also Peripheral vision and Snellen chart above.)


This listing includes both works consulted and references for further reading. Items marked with an asterisk (*) may be obtained free of charge or at nominal cost from the National Federation of the Blind, 1800 Johnson Street, Baltimore, Maryland 21230.

Adler, Francis H. Textbook of Ophthalmology. Philadelphia: W.B. Sanders Company, 1962.

The Aging Eye. New York: National Society to Prevent Blindness, 1980.

Allen, James H. May's Manual of Diseases of the Eye. Baltimore: The Williams and Wilkins Company, 1968.

Amblyopia: Lazy Eye. Baltimore: Maryland Society for the Prevention of Blindness, 1979.

AMD (Age-related Macular Degeneration). Schaumburg, Illinois: National Society to Prevent Blindness, 1987.

Answers to Your Questions About Usher's Syndrome. Baltimore: RP Foundation Fighting Blindness, 1988.

Beauchamp, George R., M.D. "Signs and Symptoms of Eye Problems in Infants and Children." NFB Newsletter for Parents of Blind Children 1 (January 1982), 8-9.

Berland, Theodore and Richard A. Perritt. Living With Your Eye Operation. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1974.

Burde, R., M.D., "Neuro-Ophthalmology," Lecture given to the Institute on Diseases of the Eye, St. Louis, Missouri, October 26, 1971.

Cataract—What It Is and How It Is Treated. Publication Number G- 4, 1/74. New York: National Society to Prevent Blindness, 1986.

The Cataract Book. Daly City, California: Krames

Communications, 1986. "Causes Of Visual Impairment In Young Children: Optic Atrophy and Optic Nerve Hypoplasia." VIP Newsletter 4 (January 1986): 2-3.

Chalkley, Thomas, M.D. Your Eyes: A Book for Paramedical Personnel and the Lay Reader. Springfield, Illinois: Charles C. Thomas, Publisher, 1974.

Contact Lenses. Daly City, California: Krames

Communications, 1983. Davis, Matthew D., M.D. "Eye Care: Focus on Prevention." Mahopac, New York: American Diabetes Association, 1987.

Department of Ophthalmology, Washington University School of Medicine, "Institute on Diseases of the Eye." St. Louis, Missouri: Washington University School of Medicine, 1973.

(Mimeographed) Diabetic Retinopathy. San Francisco: American Academy of Ophthalmology, 1987.

Dry Eye. San Francisco: American Academy of Ophthalmology, 1987.

Estimated Statistics on Blindness and Vision Problems. New York: National Society for the Prevention of Blindness, Inc., 1966.

Estimated Total Cases and New Cases of Legal Blindness By State, 1971. New York: National Society for the Prevention of Blindness, Inc., 1972.

The Eye and How We See. New York: National Society to Prevent Blindness, 1981.

Fenly, Leigh. "Taking an Earlier Look at Glaucoma." The San Diego Union (March 27, 1988), pp. D1ff.

The First Thirty Years: A History of the National Federation of the Blind. Des Moines, Iowa: National Federation of the Blind, 1970.

Glaucoma...Sneak Thief of Sight. New York: National Society to Prevent Blindness, 1984.

A Guide to Understanding Strabismus and Amblyopia. Daly City, California: Krames Communications, 1986.

*Jernigan, Kenneth. Blindness: Concepts and Misconceptions.

*_______. Blindness: The Circle of Sophistry.

*_______. Blindness: The Coming of the Third Generation.

*_______. Blindness: The Corner of Time.

*_______. Blindness: Discrimination, Hostility, and Progress.

*_______. Blindness: Handicap or Characteristic.

*_______. Blindness: Is History Against Us?

*_______. Blindness: Is Literature Against Us?

*_______. Is the Public Against Us?

*_______. Blindness: The Lessons of History.

*_______.Blindness: The Myth and the Image.

*_______. Blindness: The New Generation.

*_______. Blindness: Of Visions and Vultures.

*_______. Blindness: The Other Half of Inertia.

*_______. Blindness: The Pattern of Freedom.

*_______. Blindness: Simplicity, Complexity, and the Public Mind.

*_______. Blindness: That's How It Is at the Top of the Stairs.

*_______. Blindness: The Triple Revolution.

*_______. A Definition of Blindness.

*_______. Disability and Visibility: Uncle Tom, Blind Tom, and Tiny Tim.

*_______. Jargon and Research—Twin Idols in Work with the Blind.

*_______. A Left-handed Dissertation

*_______. Milestones and Millstones.

*_______. To Everything There is a Season.

*_______. To Man the Barricades.

*Maurer, Marc. Back to Notre Dame.

*_______. Preparation and the Critical Nudge.

The Retina Book. Daly City, California: Krames Communications, 1984.

"Retinopathy of Prematurity." Future Reflections Vol. 5, No. 2 (Spring/Summer 1986), 21-23.

Rogell, Gerald D., M.D. "Vitrectomy for Diabetic Retinopathy." American Diabetes Association, 1987.

Seeing Well As You Grow Older. Washington, D.C.: American Association of Ophthalmology, n.d.

Seeman, Bernard. Your Sight: Folklore, Fact, and Common Sense. Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1968.

Understanding and Living with Glaucoma: A Reference Guide for Patients and Their Families. San Francisco: The Foundation for Glaucoma Research, 1986.

Uveitis. San Francisco: American Academy of Ophthalmology, 1985.

Vaughan, Daniel, M.D., Taylor Asbury, M.D., and Robert Cook, M.D. General Ophthalmology. Los Altos, California: Lange Medical Publications, 1971.

Vision Loss: Information and Resources. Baltimore: The Wilmer Institute/Johns Hopkins Hospital, 1982.

Vocabulary of Terms Relating to the Eye. Publication Number P- 607, 4/73. New York: National Society for the Prevention of Blindness, Inc., 1973.

Who Are the Blind Who Lead the Blind? Baltimore: National Federation of the Blind, 1982.

Willoughby, Doris. Your School Includes a Blind Student.2d ed. Baltimore: National Federation of the Blind, 1981.

Your Child's Sight: How You Can Help. New York: National Society to Prevent Blindness, 1978.

Your Eyes...For a Lifetime of Sight. Publication Number G-510, 12/83. New York: National Society to Prevent Blindness, 1983.



One of the highlights of the 1988 convention of the National Federation of the Blind in Chicago was the appearance Thursday afternoon, July 7, of radio celebrity Paul Harvey. In the past some of Harvey's remarks have drawn criticism from the blind, but he demonstrated by what he said at the convention that he had read and understood our message.

The response of the more than 2,500 delegates was tumultuously enthusiastic. Introducing Paul Harvey, Dr. Jernigan said:

Paul Harvey broadcasts and newspaper columns have been reprinted in the Congressional Record more than those of any other commentator in this country. He has been the recipient of many honorary degrees, has earned eleven Freedoms Foundation awards, and has been elected to the National Association of Broadcasters Hall of Fame. A Gallup poll found that he was on the list of America's most admired men. Paul Harvey News is the world's largest communications conglomerate, comprised of 1,350 radio stations, plus an additional 400 stations of American Forces Radio around the world, and 300 newspapers. Those are the statistics, but they don't really show the impact that Paul Harvey has on the lives of people through his radio broadcasts. I can remember back in my days in Tennessee listening to Paul Harvey on the radio; and, whether for good or bad, Mr. Harvey, I thought that if Paul Harvey said it, it must be so. I am pleased, as I am sure all of you are, that Paul Harvey is here to speak to us. I want to present to you now Paul Harvey.

Good afternoon, Americans. Dr. Jernigan, thank you for your infectious enthusiasm but Diane, (dear Diane), I've been sitting back hearing about repelling off one hundred foot rocks, and have you any idea how inadequate that makes your speaker feel? I had thought that Captain Hank Dekker was something, negotiating stormy pacific seas with Braille charts and a Braille compass, but I'm going to tell you something. If Hank is not here, he's a sissy. I mean he's a sissy compared to some three thousand uncommon Americans I've watched most of the week gracefully navigating escalators, transportation, and traffic on Michigan Avenue. You have all been properly preoccupied today. Let me remind you that as usual our world was shaken awake by noisy headlines: Fear one hundred and fifty dead in North Sea fire. Muggy heat persists nation wide. Former Miss America arrested for shoplifting. Post Office crisis in Land of Lakes, Florida. The Postmaster is refusing to allow mail deliveries to Paradise Lakes Resort. That is the area nudists colony. Postmaster Henry Thompson says that he cannot and will not compel his letter carriers thus to expose themselves that is, he says, to expose themselves to possible embarrassment.

Paul Harvey, why in the world don't you news men use more good news? Why does it always have to be tragedy and destruction and discord and disaster and dissent? Well, now, my own network tried broadcasting a program of just good news. Do you know how long that lasted? Thirteen weeks. It was cancelled because not enough listeners wanted to listen to just good news. In Sacramento, California, a tabloid called itself the Good News Paper , printed nothing else, lasted thirty-six months and it went bankrupt. As far as I have been able to ascertain, there's only one newspaper in the U.S.A. today printing good news. It's a little tabloid that comes out down here in Indiana once a week, and they have to give it away because the good news that people say they want, they just won't buy. And that's at least one of the reasons why you can listen to any broadcast, and records are crashing, and it's the worst drought, and the most pollution, and the recession is a depression, and don't just sit there worry! My goodness, some broadcasters make a collision of two bicycles sound like the collapse of civilization. Performing weathermen in Chicago in the winter they never tell us it is zero any more, without adding that the chill factor is forty below. We never were so uncomfortable in the winter time until somebody invented the chill factor.

Let me in fairness say this in deference to our Chicago weathermen: They did predict seven of last winter's two snow storms. And with increasing competition for your attention from a multiplicity of media, the agitation is worsening. Birth control pills are bad for you; birth control pills are good for you; take your choice. In Jackson, Mississippi, the Internal Revenue Service got a call the other day. Somebody wanted to know if birth control pills are deductible, and the alert IRS agent on the other end of the phone said, Only if they don't work.

News isn't news any more. News is an around-the-clock warning.

Don't breathe. The air is toxic, and it's worse indoors than out. Don't eat. The food is contaminated. And don't drink water with chemicals in it. And for goodness sake don't drink water without chemicals in it. Coffee can cause pancreatic cancer. Coffee does not cause pancreatic cancer. Harvard Medical just reversed itself. Now, the FDA wants to declare mother's milk unsafe. Honest. The Food and Drug Administration suspects mother's milk may be unsafe, but so far they have not been able to ascertain where to put the warning label.

Let me see if I can help you better to understand today's headlines. Bad news pays. I'm on a foundation board which dispenses large sums for research, and many scholars and many institutions secure money for research by producing bad news, about population, resources, environment. And there is a demonstrable fascination with (there's a proved public preference for) bad news, because what's bad news to somebody is good news to many. The listener or reader of bad news can say to himself, Well, at least I'm not as bad off as those people. Then the printer whose printing machine broke down, or the salesman who bid too low, or the farmer who lost a crop, or the wild catter who drilled a duster can see his problem as not so bad after all. Bad news is good news. The reader doesn't want to read about some rich man who's healthy and happily married. That would tend to make the reader feel sorry for himself. But if that rich man is divorced or diseased or losing his money, that's more interesting reading because the reader can feel himself to be better off. There's always somebody in any hospital ward who is enough worse off to help us to feel comparatively fortunate. And thus, Americans, the plane crash which does not involve you, the beautiful actress with a mastectomy, the super rich car maker caught trafficking in cocaine, and the public official in hot water, and the ex-president in exile these will continue to be on page one for as long as the fire that burns them warms the rest of us. Before the blind person is reconciled, he has to ask himself, Why, God? Why me? Does a friend of yours (Paul Harvey) dare to presume on some soon broadcast, to try to answer that question with a question for those in his radio audience who are not blind to confront those less adequate than you with this question:

Whatever you are doing, could you do it with your eyes closed? Dave Johnson graduated from high school and Louisiana State University. For fourteen years he did data processing. He married what he calls the prettiest girl in New Orleans, and there's a lot of pretty in New Orleans. Dave hosted a weekly radio program in Dallas. For seven years, he was one company's top salesman in the southwest. So what? But could you do it with your eyes closed? Dave Johnson has been blind since he was eight. Then Dave, who loves animals Dave got this idea for building and operating a boarding kennel for dogs and cats, and a pet cemetery called Avelon Gardens, which local folks called the loveliest pet cemetery anywhere. Camelot Kennels and Avelon Gardens near McKinney, Texas, serving a five city area including Dallas. Dave and his wife Judy with their four sons give seven day twenty-four-hour care to the pets in their charge. I want to ask my listeners, Of course you could, but could you do it with your eyes closed? Last autumn I mentioned on the air that residents of the neighborhood in which I live had been advised there would be no more door step deliveries of newspapers. Now, somebody in a truck is going to toss the paper to the curb side. The explanation was that no youngsters wanted to work as newspaper delivery boys and girls any more. Then, I heard about John Miller of Omaha, a high school senior, newspaper carrier of the year. Remember it was March, five years ago. John, thirteen, decided that it was time he had a job. There was nothing special he wanted the money for, he just wanted to work. I don't know if you know the preparation that went into that, because in Omaha, when a boy decides to become a paper carrier, the newspaper sends a counselor to talk to him. The counselor who visited John was tough, but he was fair. Would John take his job seriously? Would he be conscientious? Would he be responsible? Would his job interfere with his school work? But after the interview was over, the counselor had to agree that John would make a fine newspaper delivery boy and was he ever right. It took John about a week to learn the route from brother Dan. After that, he was on his own. Each day he would come home from school, collect his newspapers, and start out. He didn't own a bicycle. He walked every inch of the way. It gave him a good opportunity, he said, to get to know his customers.

It took him about forty-five minutes to complete his rounds, and when he was through, each newspaper had been carefully deposited at each front door step all 150 customers. John Miller had had that route all through high school. It brought him a stereo and a trip to the National Boy Scout Jamboree in Virginia among other things. It's brought him something that he treasures more than all of those things that money could buy a singular honor, the distinction as the newspaper carrier of the year. And his customers say that it couldn't have happened to a nicer boy. But, I intend to ask my audience, just how gifted are you? Could you do what he did with your eyes closed? He did. Americans in this room, I am going to say something right now which is not said just for the audience in this room. The following word, I promise, will be repeated on some soon broadcast when the world is eavesdropping. Your National Federation of the Blind with vigorous leadership is helping its members to better understand their job opportunities and their legal rights, but I'm going to tell you something. It's helping the rest of us also. For one thing, it's been helping me to recognize how selective we have been in our concerns.

Americans somehow imagine that the good neighbor philosophy obligates us to assist those farthest from home, often to the neglect of the neighbor right next door. We weep crocodile tears over discrimination in South Africa, and yet we tolerate sheltered workshops in our own country, where blind people are allowed to make brooms for a dollar an hour. Now, that is selective indignation. Americans in their courts make much to do about equal rights for every race, every religion, every sex. That's fine, and yet we allow blind Americans only back-of-the-bus seating on airliners. Ever so carefully, our politicians make certain that the homeless and the junkies have help, and that convicts are made comfortable while dues paying, behaving blind people are having their children taken away from them by social workers.

We must be ever so careful oh, we must be careful never to offend any of these high paid athletes by invading their privacy to check their urine for drugs, and yet Listen to this: if you don't already know, Christen Knouse of Rutgers University, champion equestrian athlete, is barred from national competition because she's blind.

Make certain make absolutely certain, our misleaders insist, that employment opportunity is better than fair for some Americans who are disadvantaged, and yet employers (and this includes some of the biggest) still find reasons not to hire the work able blind. Prove it? Well, today, as you know, we celebrate a national unemployment rate of less than seven percent. Seventy percent of employable blind are without jobs. That's a tragic waste of our nation's most precious natural resource. Again, this is a preview. This is not just said for the applause in this room. This is to help enlighten a nation, as I have been enlightened. Election year legislation guaranteed that Social Security must be expanded for everybody. Everybody? In Illinois, right now, rehab agencies distribute billions of taxpayers' money while denying services to the impoverished blind. Americans are made to feel guilty and spend millions to rescue some endangered specie of snail-darter or bottle- nosed lizard while cruise lines refuse to book passage for the blind, and insurance companies (despite state laws which state otherwise) may refuse to sell them coverage, or charge them extra if they do. And has it bothered you? It sure does me. We send translators half way around the world to help some tribe rewrite books in its native language, and yet American educators (and even American educators of the blind) force the blind to use sight they don't have rather than teach them Braille, which they can read.

This flattering invitation to address you today and my preparation for it have added a new dimension to my own comprehension. You'll be noticing it during subsequent broadcasts. Through this recent association with the officers of your Federation I cannot be an instant expert, but maybe I can help some sighted person to see. Of all of the disabilities that flesh is heir to, the one dreaded most is the loss of eyesight. Of all of those who are different from what we consider normal, we have the most universal compassion for the blind, and I know you appreciate that. But I know that a lot of folks are more solicitous than is comfortable for you or useful for them.

I learned tardily about the phenomenal independence of blind people in these last few days. I'm going to share what I have learned. As a matter of fact, one of the lovely things I have learned is that he or she may use a white cane or a guide dog, or in traffic may ask to take my arm, and I am to let him decide. I am not to grab his arm.

And I have learned from my long time pilot friend Bill Cleo that sometimes he may prefer to lay his hand on my shoulder while he walks half a step behind to anticipate curbs and steps. And I am not going to talk to my audience about the wonderful compensations of blindness, because though there are compensations, they are nothing those folks would know anything about. But so dependent are most of us on our eyes, so enraptured are most of us by a sunset or a sunrise, that we dread perhaps more than anything the endless dark. And yet you know, when there is an experience that we want really to plant indelibly on our awareness, when there is an experience we want ultimately to enjoy and permanently to remember (maybe a measure of magnificent music, or flavor, or fragrance, or a kiss), we close our eyes. Americans, my new found friends of the National Federation of the Blind, it is dark in my own world when my work day begins at 3:30 in the morning and I must face another day, sorting with bare hands through the mud and blood we call news. And it is then that I rise to wash and dress and eat and drink and look at things and talk, and only God knows why but tomorrow, and tomorrow, and for all the tomorrows, I will remember this day and you and that you are but a scant half step behind me, and I will feel your hand on my shoulder, and with my eyesight and your vision, together, we're going to go as far as we want to go.

As Paul Harvey concluded, the delegates stood to give him an enthusiastic, cheering ovation. Harvey did not know that John Miller, who had been so prominently featured in his remarks, was present, but most of the audience knew. It seemed a fitting climax to the afternoon session for John Miller to come to the stage and be publicly recognized. It was an afternoon which will long be remembered and true to his word, Paul Harvey did as he said he would. He told the nation and the world about it, not once but several times. And as a result the lives of the blind will (at least to some extent) forever be better for it.



by Geerat J. Vermeij

The following address was delivered at the convention of the National Federation of the Blind in Chicago, Wednesday morning, July 6, 1988, by Dr. Geerat Vermeij, a professor at the University of Maryland at College Park.)

How, a skeptic might ask, could a blind person ever hope to be a scientist? After all, science is difficult if not impenetrable even for many sighted people; and, in any case, there is almost nothing in the way of books about science available to the blind. How would one carry out experiments? How would one gain access to the huge scientific literature? Perhaps a blind person could be a physicist, at least a theoretical physicist, but surely not a biologist. Why would the blind willingly choose biology, that most visual of all the sciences?

The answer is very simple. Science, and for me biology in particular, is absolutely fascinating. Someone is actually paying me to study shells some of the most beautiful works of architecture in all of nature in the expectation that broad principles with implications for our own species will emerge. What is more, I get to travel to exotic places, to read the scientific literature in all its fantastic diversity, to see my own papers and books published, and to teach others about science, that most powerful of all ways of knowing. What more could one ask of a profession? Like many of my colleagues, I came to science early in life. Even as a small boy growing up in the Netherlands, I picked up shells, pinecones, pretty stones, and the like. My parents, both of whom are avid natural historians, took pains to acquaint me with all kinds of creatures that lived in the grassy polders and in the innumerable ditches that crisscrossed the low land. The fact that I was totally blind made no difference at all. At the age of ten, shortly after moving to the United States, I became seriously interested in shells. Almost immediately I started my own collection, which soon grew to include all manner of other objects of natural history. My parents and brother were enthusiastic; they read aloud, transcribed, or dictated every book on natural history they could find. The reactions of my teachers in the local public elementary school ranged from polite acquiescence to genuine enthusiasm when I told them of my intentions to become a conchologist, a malacologist, or a biologist. If they thought about the incompatibility between blindness and biology, they kept it to themselves, or perhaps they expected my obsession to be a passing fancy soon to be replaced by more realistic plans. The interest in biology did not flag. As counselors more openly expressed their fears that I would be unable to find employment if I persisted in my plans to study biology, I entered Princeton University to concentrate on biology and geology. There I received strong support from nearly all my professors; they were giants in their fields, and their enthusiasm sustained my youthful confidence. I applied to do doctoral work at Yale. When I arrived for my interview in the biology department, the director of graduate studies was more than a little apprehensive. During my talk with him, he took me down to the university's shell collection in the basement of the Peabody Museum. Casually he picked up two shells and asked me if I knew them. He fully expected me to draw a blank, in which case he planned to tell me as gently as possible that biology was not for me after all. Fortunately, however, the shells were familiar to me. All of the misgivings of the director instantly evaporated. Thanks to his enthusiastic endorsement, I was able to enter Yale with a full graduate fellowship that left me free to travel and to carry out an ambitious research project culminating in the Ph.D. dissertation.

After Yale, I joined the Department of Zoology at the University of Maryland at College Park in 1971, first as an instructor. Moving up through the academic ranks, I was appointed Professor in 1980. Along the way, I married Edith Zipser, a fellow biologist whom I had met at Yale, and we had a daughter Hermine, who is now six. Very recently I accepted a new appointment to become Professor of Geology at the University of California, Davis. What do I actually do in my job that seemed so improbable to the skeptics? Again the answer is simple. I do what my sighted colleagues do: research, teaching, and service. My research centers on how animals and plants have evolved to cope with their biological enemies predators, competitors, and parasites over the course of the last six hundred million years of earth history.

When I was still a graduate student, working at the University of Guam Marine Laboratory, I noticed that many of the shells I was finding on the island's reef-flats were broken despite their considerable thickness and strength. It soon became clear that shell-breaking predators, especially crabs and fishes, were responsible for this damage. I began to suspect that many of the elegant features of tropical shells their knobby and spiny surfaces, their tight coiling, and the narrow shell opening often partially occluded by knob-like thickenings were interpretable as adaptations which enabled the snails that built the shells to withstand the onslaughts of their predators. Most interestingly, the shells I had collected in the West Indies and the Atlantic coasts of South America and Africa seemed to be less well endowed with this kind of armor than were the shells from comparable sites in the tropical Western Pacific. Armed with these observations and hypotheses, I applied for funding from the National Science Foundation to continue my work upon my arrival at Maryland. When the program director called me to say that I would be funded, he also informed me that the Foundation would not sponsor my proposed field work in the Indian Ocean because he could not conceive of a blind person's doing field work. I reminded him that I had already worked in field situations throughout the tropics, and that the proposed research critically depended on the work in the Indian Ocean. After a few minutes of conversation he relented and awarded me the full amount.

The research eventually led to laboratory studies of several large-clawed shell-crushing crabs in Guam and Panama, as well as to museum studies of claw sizes and shapes in crabs. In 1975 it occurred to me that the type of armor which is so widespread in today's tropical shallow-water snail shells was much less evident during the first four hundred million years of the history of snails. This observation led to studies of fossil shells and fossil predators, as well as to more work with living snails and clams, including aspects other than armor. Further research quickly showed that armor was only one of a host of enemy-related attributes of organisms that have changed greatly over the course of earth history. I published a synthesis of my findings and those of others in a book entitled Evolution and Escalation, an Ecological History of Life (Princeton University Press, 1987). At present I am trying to understand what happens evolutionarily and ecologically when species from two previously separated regions come together after the barrier between them disappears. Of particular interest is the so- called Trans-Arctic interchange, the invasion of marine plants and animals from the North Pacific to the North Atlantic Ocean following the opening of the Bering Strait about three million years ago. This kind of research has important implications for Central America, another area in which I have long been interested. If a salt-water sea-level canal were constructed across the Central American isthmus linking the Eastern Pacific and Western Atlantic Oceans, species from these two oceans could freely invade each other's ranges for the first time in at least two and a half million years, with potentially very serious consequences.

How do I do this research? It is a combination of field, laboratory, museum, and library work that has taken me all over the world to coral reefs, mangrove swamps, mud-flats, rock-bound open coasts, deserts, rain forests, research vessels, marine biological stations, secret military installations, great libraries, and big-city museums. I make large collections of specimens in the field, work with living animals in laboratory aquaria, measure shells in museums and in my own very large research collection, and read voraciously. Wherever I go I am in the company of a sighted assistant or colleague. Often this is my wife, but there are many others as well my long-time research associate Elizabeth Dudley, various graduate students, a technician from Singapore, even a fourteen-year-old Fijian boy. There is nothing unusual about this; every scientist I know has assistants. I keep detailed field and laboratory notebooks in Braille, usually written with slate and stylus. Once a week I go to the U.S. National Museum of Natural History, part of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, in order to work with the outstanding collection of mollusks and to peruse carefully all the scientific periodicals that came into the library the previous week. While Edith or Dr. Dudley reads to me, I transcribe extensive notes on the Perkins Brailler. Sometimes I will make just a few notations of the main point of a scientific paper, but at other times I transcribe all the data contained in a paper. My Braille scientific library now comprises more than eight thousand publications compiled in more than one hundred forty thick Braille volumes.

Like many of my colleagues, I spent a great deal of time writing. First, I prepare drafts on the Perkins Brailler, using the seemingly inexhaustible supply of memos and announcements that flood my mailbox daily. Once I am satisfied with the text, I type the manuscript on an ink typewriter. Dr. Dudley proofreads and corrects the manuscript, which is then submitted to an appropriate scientific periodical or book publisher for a thorough evaluation.

In all my work I find Braille to be vastly more efficient than any other form of communication. I also prefer live readers to tape recorders. How can you ask a machine to spell words, to ferret out a detail in a graph or table, and most importantly to skip whole sections or to scan the text for a particular point? Teaching has always been inextricably intertwined with research for me. I can point to several papers that would not have been written were it not for the fact that I was forced to think about problems in connection with a lecture on a topic quite far removed from my immediate research interests. Over the years I have taught a great variety of courses animal diversity, evolutionary biology, ecology, marine ecology, malacology, the mathematics and physics of organic form, and a seminar on extinction ranging from the introductory to the advanced graduate level. In the large introductory courses, teaching assistants take charge of the laboratory sections and help in grading papers. Again, there is nothing unusual in this. Professors in science departments at most universities depend heavily on teaching assistants. Like other research-oriented professors, I train graduate students. Thus far, seven students have received their Ph.D. degrees under my direction. The service part of the job is highly varied as well. There are the inevitable odious committee meetings and the many tasks that help make the department or the university run smoothly. I head search committees to find new faculty members, I conduct reviews of faculty performance, and I write as few memos as I can. An important service to the profession is the review of dozens of manuscripts and grant proposals. If one writes them, one ought to be willing to review them as well.

Of course, science isn't all fun and games. Science is competitive; it is hard work, full of tedious calculations, revising manuscripts for the nth time, of coping with the disappointment of having a cherished paper or grant proposal summarily rejected, and of quibbling about grades with a frustratingly inept student. Nobody in science is exempt from pressures and feelings such as these, but in the end the work is immensely rewarding and intellectually fulfilling.

In short, there is nothing about my job that makes it unsuitable for a blind person. Of course, there are inherent risks in the field work; I have been stung by rays, bitten by crabs, and detained by police who mistook my partner and me for operatives trying to overthrow the government of their African country, and I have slipped on rocks, scraped my hand on sharp oysters and pinnacles of coral, and suffered from stomach cramps. There isn't a field scientist alive or dead who hasn't had similar experiences. Life without risk is life without challenge; one cannot hope to understand nature without experiencing it firsthand. The blind, no more than the sighted, must act sensibly and with appropriate caution. Along with independence comes the responsibility of assuming risks.

What would I say to a blind person who is contemplating a career in science? Very simple. I would tell that person exactly what I would tell a sighted one: Love your subject, be prepared to work hard, don't be discouraged by doubters and by the occasional failure, be willing to take risks, get as much basic science and mathematics as you can take, and perhaps above all display a reasoned self-confidence without carrying a chip on your shoulder. You will need stamina, good grades, the support of influential scientists, and a willingness and ability to discover new facts and new ideas. It is not enough to do well in courses; one must make new observations, design and carry out tests of hypotheses that have been carefully thought out, and interpret and present the results in such a way that the work is both believable and interesting to others. Science is not for everyone, but I can think of no field that is more satisfying. What would I say to the educational establishment? I would tell them that the prevailing attitudes about science and the blind must be reformed. For too long the scientifically inclined blind have been steered only toward the social sciences and other safe disciplines, and away from fields in which laboratory and outdoor studies are important. I believe that the chief factor holding the blind back from science is ignorance, not only by virtue of woefully inadequate reading materials in the schools and libraries, but also because of the pervasive fear and discouragement by the establishment to let the blind observe nature firsthand. I once met a blind woman who professed an interest in biology, yet she had never been encouraged to touch the spiny leaves of the holly. Observation is the first, and in many ways the most important, step in a scientific inquiry. Without the freedom and encouragement to observe, a blind person (or anyone else, for that matter) is subtly but decisively turned away from science. The key to this freedom is equality, and the key to equality is opportunity and respect. The National Federation of the Blind has long championed the philosophy that the blind are fully as capable as the sighted given sufficient opportunity and training. Education with this philosophy as its cornerstone is built on the assumption that no discipline is closed to the blind. By a logical extension, this basic respect will open more doors to the world of science as we continue to press for full participation in society.

(Note: See the sixth Monitor Miniature. )



by Barbara Walker

The following paper was a presentation made during a panel on Blind Children: Problems, Opportunities, and Tomorrow, at the 1987 National Convention of the NFB in Phoenix, Arizona.

I had a headache this big! I took two Excedrin, and now it's gone. Based on these words from a recent television commercial, what's gone the headache or the Excedrin? It depends, of course, on your perspective. Most things do, including the way you deal with blindness.

But perspective doesn't have to be a stagnant thing. Take, for instance, my perspective on travel and the use of the long white cane. As a child with light, minimal color and no object or depth perception, with an immeasurably narrow field of vision, I was encouraged to use my sight for detecting contrasts between, for instance, a sidewalk and grass. As I grew, and the distance between my head and the ground increased, I began to use other things following directly behind someone else, foot shuffling, quick reflexes which allowed me to miss a top step and still land on my feet at the bottom, walking with one foot on the sidewalk and one on the grass, etc. to get places. When I was introduced to the cane in junior high, I was told that I wouldn't need it in familiar surroundings but should take it other places as a signal to drivers to stop for me, to pedestrians to move out of my way, and to anyone who saw it that I might need help. I kept it with me as little as possible and used it as quietly and as inconspicuously as I could. I carried this perspective through adolescence, through college, and into a job training the adult blind.

In December of 1974, accepting an opportunity to broaden my scope professionally (and personally to verify my belief that the National Federation of the Blind and the Iowa Commission for the Blind probably weren't all that they were cracked up to be) I visited the Iowa Commission for the Blind. The perspective I gained from a few short days in an environment where the bottom line was that it is respectable to be blind genuinely changed my life. With specific respect to cane travel, I began always to use my cane in unfamiliar places and oftentimes in familiar ones, especially at work, where I was a role model. And I discovered how much simpler it was to detect with one confident sweep of the cane the identity of something which, if I noticed it visually at all, might have been a hole, a shadow, a mud puddle, or a dark-colored object. And I now do everything I can to encourage parents and educators of blind children to get a white cane a tool for truly independent travel into those children's hands as early as possible.

Knowing that it is respectable to be blind also changed my perspective on other things. As a blind adolescent and college student, I was advised neither to date nor to spend too much time with blind friends, but rather to cultivate friendships with sighted people. One of the stated reasons for this was that I should avoid the potential of falling in love with a blind man because, in such a relationship or marriage, who would read things, drive, and do other essentials? Although I didn't totally buy into that perspective, it did affect me to the extent that I saw myself as an unlikely partner for anyone.

With my change in perspective about blindness came a change in my approach to others, and theirs to me. As I gained self-confidence, I earned respect from others. Blindness itself was no longer a liability in my own mind. But people's attitudes about blindness, including my own, were of utmost importance to me in developing and maintaining relationships.

The man I married almost ten years ago also believes that it is respectable to be blind. We get where we want to go. We get things read. We do all those other essentials which were said to be so out of the question for blind people.

And we are both blind. I am now a homemaker and mother in addition to being President of the National Federation of the Blind of Nebraska. My husband, Jim, and I have two small children. Marsha JoAnn was born on July 2, 1981, and John Peter arrived on November 16, 1983.

As a blind parent, I am, of course, faced with dealing with the age-old misconceptions about blindness sometimes even from my own children. There was a time, for instance, when Marsha, age five, said, while we were coloring together: That's a pretty good triangle for a blind person. I asked her what she meant. She said that the lines went too far, but that was okay because I couldn't see them. We had a short discussion about how I could remedy that problem and make a triangle that would meet her standards, whether or not I could see it. I placed my fingers at three points and drew among them. I put dots at three points and drew among those. I explained that I could get or make something triangular and trace around it, depending upon what I used. She became enthusiastically involved in what had become a game, and came to the conclusion that some of those methods also helped her to make specific kinds of triangles more easily and/or more quickly than doing it freehand.

All parents are tested by their own and by other people's children. With me, oftentimes these tests involve their perspective on blindness. On one occasion, after the completion of a project which included Marsha and two neighbor girls close to her age, I asked for volunteers for clean-up. The older of the two girls agreed to put away some dishes. After I left the room, she asked Marsha to do it. Marsha refused, reminding her that she had volunteered. The girl's response was: Her voice is a lot like yours. She won't know the difference. I did, of course, know, and the girl did the work.

I have encountered so many and varied reactions from people with respect to my parenthood that it is hard to choose which to relate. Before Marsha was born, for instance, someone called wanting to observe my labor and delivery in order to draw some conclusions about how a blind person bonds with a baby.

Practically from the moment of their birth, people have made reference to how wonderful it is that we have them to watch out for us, take care of us, be our eyes, etc. They have also been thought, without having observed them, to have innately exemplary behavior, making it unnecessary for us, for whom it would be so difficult, to discipline them. There are times when I think John's main goal in life is to dispel that theory. One day, for instance, while I was baking cookies, he went into the neighbors' yard and, when questioned by me, denied it. He had a bell pinned to his shorts, and it was obvious where he had been. I confined him to the house for one-half hour. After several minutes I couldn't hear him. After calling his name several times, I said that if he didn't answer by the count of three, he would be in real trouble. His response came from outside the locked front door. Before I could ask how he got there, he announced triumphantly, I went out my window, Mom. And that time he was telling the truth.

One of the most blatantly negative comments made about my role happened one day while my children and I were waiting for a bus. A woman said, I think gals like that ought to be sterilized! Although I was a bit taken aback by the statement, I was immediately able to get perspective. After thanking God that my children weren't old enough to know what that meant, I thought of Diane McGeorge's experience in which someone, in the presence of her children, said to someone else, It's the children of those people I feel sorry for. And I thought about Dave and Debbie Robinson's doctor telling them that their daughter's digestive problem was related to their blindness; and the Eckerys' daughter's teacher saying that it wouldn't be safe for them as blind people to be in charge of another person's child at a party because that child wouldn't be trained in how to interact with blind people; and the Wurtzel's difficulty in reaching a satisfactory solution to their son's problems in elementary school primarily because the school personnel were so convinced that his problems were the result of his parents' blindness, and situations in which children have been taken from parents solely on the grounds of their parents' blindness and on and on. I'm not glad that the McGeorges, the Robinsons, the Eckerys, the Wurtzels, and countless others have had those frustrating and humiliating experiences. But I am glad, for all of our sakes, that they have shared those experiences and their responses to them, not in some misery loves company sort of way, but in ways from which we can all benefit. Because of the perspective on blindness which I have learned through my involvement in the National Federation of the Blind, I was able to understand that comment for what it was a misguided response from an uninformed person. I walked away from the incident with my head held high, my self-respect intact, and renewed resolve to do whatever I could to promote our cause and help make that opinion of us obsolete. I educate plumbers, pest controllers, insulation experts, church and recreation people, other parents and their children, etc., about blindness and parenthood every day. Things like tying little shoes, bandaging cuts, slicing watermelon, refereeing disagreements, going places on foot or by public transportation, etc., go a long way toward convincing children that blind people can take charge.

As a family in which both parents are Federationists, we also find ourselves involving our children in many of our activities. They have both been diapered and/or fed by blind teen-agers and adults who had previously been denied those opportunities. They have attended conventions, public speaking engagements, legislative functions, and the like. They have participated in assembly lines for stamping, sorting, or addressing items. They have helped to prepare and/or sell things to raise money for or to publicize our organization.

The opportunities for changing what it means to be blind in a positive way are endless. And there are people out there, including my own parents, who, whether or not they have had previous experience with blindness, are willing to ask questions and accept our lives and materials as evidence that we can participate equally in society, given the proper training and opportunity. The presence and support of such people, coupled with the lives we live today before children (both blind and sighted) and the time we spend nurturing them and cultivating their attitudes, will do much toward carrying our message into the future that it is respectable to be blind.



As Federationists know, Seville Allen is one of the leaders of the National Federation of the Blind of Virginia. Writing in the September, 1988, newsletter of that organization, she says:

Ed Peay, of our Richmond Area Federation, spent his summer conducting a Braille survey of Virginia's public schools. As Federationists know, Braille is an essential tool. This alternative to inkprint reading makes us literate; not knowing Braille and being blind equal illiteracy. We often hear the argument, when we raise the question of teaching Braille, that students don't want to learn it and/or that the student doesn't need it. One would wonder: Does a six-year-old have the experience to know whether or not he/she wants it or should learn it? Do parents, who are given the choice as to whether or not their legally blind child should learn Braille, have enough facts upon which to base a sound decision? Are adequate Braille skills required in special education curriculum?

Most pathetically, school officials tell parents that their child has too much sight and, thus, doesn't have to learn Braille. While professional educators of blind children believe they are doing blind kids a favor by helping them hide their blindness, they are really reinforcing fear and prejudice. The denial of Braille keeps students from reaching their academic and often social potential. Blind students frequently fail in school or are passed on age to the next class. Intelligent students often become frustrated and develop inappropriate behavior and get labeled trouble makers. Blind students struggling to read print they can barely see, lose interest in school, drop out, and become dependent on welfare checks. Without Braille, one is most often also without self-respect due to inefficiency and inability to function alongside peers.

One of our top priorities during the coming year is to see to it that Virginia assures Braille as an alternative to inkprint reading. Ed Peay has set the pace, and we will take the results of his survey and use them to show that, once again, we know what we need and will work to make it happen.



by Barbara Pierce

When I was nine, my father walked in from work one day carrying a large, heavy case. My brother and I were consumed with curiosity, and my smugness and self-importance knew no bounds when he explained that the box was for me. Nothing, however, could have prepared me for the revolution that the heavy gray case would create in my life. The year was 1954, and the box was a Talking Book record player from the Library of Congress. If the President himself had presented me with the machine, I could not have been more astonished. I now know that, two years before, Congress had amended the Pratt-Smoot Act to include children in the Talking Book Program. But as I remember the lecture I was given that day, special arrangements had been made [I was certain that these had been at the highest levels of government], and it had been decided to allow me to read books on records because everyone knew what a careful and responsible girl I was. If I failed to operate the machine properly or (inconceivable catastrophe) if I broke one of the records, no other child would ever be given the privilege that I now saw shimmering on my horizon.

The record player was set up in the downstairs bedroom, and I began to read. The Privateer by Gordon Daviot, Little Men by Louisa May Alcott, and Bless This House by Norah Lofts: these were the first three books. I promised myself that I would memorize the author of every book I read and the order in which I had consumed their work. I did pretty well at it for the first twenty books or so, but then I began to understand just how many books a person really could read, and my good intentions dissolved.

Within a week the Talking Book machine was moved to my room so that the rest of the family didn't have to listen along with me. My bedroom never had much heat, and that winter I could only keep my hands warm by holding them over the glowing red light that indicated that the machine motor was turned on. I was lucky that those record players in the fifties threw out so much heat; otherwise frost bite would have found a contented victim. Until that intoxicating day when the Talking Book program walked into my life, I had had two choices when I wanted or needed to read a book. [I was not blind, of course, so no one ever thought of teaching me Braille.] First, I could don a pair of heavy glasses with tremendous magnification in one lens; hunch over the page of print in very bright light; and struggle letter by letter to decipher the text, praying the while for a picture or, better yet, lots of pictures to take up space.

My other alternative was to lie in wait for a member of my family. My brother, seven at the time, was good for comic books and not much more. Unfortunately, he favored Superman, and I preferred Scrooge McDuck. His verbal skills were taxed acutely by describing the pictures, and altogether Bobby was less satisfactory than my parents, if I could get them. I had already read Heidi and Charlotte's Web in ten-minute snatches, my mother's method of bribing me to do wretched eye exercises every day. My parents were generous with their time, but they were already helping me with every bit of my considerable homework, and there were limits to what even I was prepared to request. So the Talking Book machine and those amazing twelve-inch records played at 33 1/3 rpm really did change the topography of my life. I became the envy of my classmates. Not held down by such annoyances as vocabulary and spelling, I sailed into uncharted waters beyond my years. Teachers could easily be dazzled by book reports on the works of Dickens, Hawthorne, and Dostoyevsky. There were also those occasional passages which I found very illuminating but which I knew instinctively my parents had much better not overhear.

I know now that, had Braille been offered me in these formative years, I would today be a much better educated person, but it was to be another twenty years before I heard of the National Federation of the Blind, and there was no one in my life warning me that Braille was essential to my education. These were the personal recollections that drifted through my mind as I read Talking Books: Pioneering and Beyond by Marilyn Lundell Majeska, RC27607, BR7378, published by the Library of Congress, National Library Service for Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS). This book will evoke memories in everyone who has ever read Talking Books through the years. For example, have you ever tried to remember when the Talking Book Program really began? October, 1934. When the first Cassette players were distributed? 1,000 commercially produced cassette recorders were issued in 1968. When the last rigid disk book was produced? May, 1987. Such tidbits of evolutionary history dot the one hundred pages of this interesting little book.

Majeska traces the progress of the Talking Book Program from an impractical dream of phonograph books for the blind in the twenties to the production of light-weight, portable machines that provide hours of reading to blind and physically handicapped readers today. The history of turn table speed, needle standardization, record size and composition, magnetic tape, and tape cassettes is discussed with clarity and minute detail. It is all too possible today for readers on the receiving end of these technological advances to remain happily unconscious of the complexities underlying them. Without getting too bogged down in statistics and technical detail, Majeska manages to tell her story entertainingly.

She remains factual throughout the text. Her concerns are when things happened and what research went into them. The technological, budgetary, and philosophical issues that have rocked the program from time to time are never so much as mentioned. The effect is to suggest that the Talking Book Program has rolled down the years, shedding light on all and consistently bestowing wise benevolence on the blind. Nevertheless, as far as I can tell, Majeska does what she sets out to do with admirable accuracy. She has done her research, and the book is a treasure trove of useful statistics and interesting facts.

She provides the reader with a list of the Librarians of Congress since 1897 when the Library first began serving blind patrons, and also a list of the directors of the Project, Books for the Blind, later renamed NLS. The appendix lists in order the model numbers of every record player and cassette machine ever produced by NLS. The bibliography seems to be admirably thorough for the topics she considers. Talking Books: Pioneering and Beyond provides an entertaining and informative evening of reading. The program it chronicles has opened doors to thousands of people who all too frequently had been trapped in empty lives. It would be hard for blind Americans today to conceive of life without the Talking Book Program, and it is instructive to look back on its development. Also, as readers of this publication know, the members of the National Federation of the Blind can take pride in the fact that they have played a substantial role in helping shape this program which serves as one of the instruments of the advancement of the blind from second-class citizenship to first-class status in society. Our partnership with the libraries has been a significant step on our road out of slavery, a noteworthy milestone on our journey to freedom.



by Barbara Mattson

Barbara Mattson is a Monitor reader, who lives in Spartanburg, South Carolina. She has written an editorial response to a recent Monitor article. Here is what she has to say:

In the September-October, 1988, Braille Monitor Charlene Groves' article entitled Why Do They Have To Break Everything addressed independence. Her point was that independence can be carried too far and that we can give, as well as receive. Thus, even though you may be capable of crossing a street by yourself, you can accept assistance by simply saying, I can cross streets by listening to the traffic, but I'll be glad to walk with you. This informs the helper of how you adapt but also allows him to feel somewhat helpful and not totally rejected. He will, therefore, not hesitate to assist another blind person who may really need help.

Another article in the September-October Monitor entitled Of Elevators, McDonald's, and the Speed of Braille talked about the availability of Brailled menus and elevator buttons which permit a certain amount of independence. But the purpose of the Braille, my brother showed me, on the McDonald's drink lids puzzles me. Instead of labeling the kind of drink it is, the other and diet simply identify a beverage as regular or sugar-free. Searching for a reason for this, my brother said, Oh, maybe some irate blind person protested that his civil rights were being violated. This brought home to me the public's negative attitude toward what they may see as superfluous accessibility and reasonable accommodation. Before we can convince people that money is not wasted on accessibility, let us define what we think it is. Here is my opinion. Regarding Brailled elevators, or room numbers, if a blind person can't read them or doesn't know they are there, what good are they? Some places have raised numbers and letters which not only serve the blind but also the public. These, however, are not necessary in buildings that we frequent as long as someone is easily available to orient us to the room numbers and elevator on our first visit. Tour areas, however, are a different matter, so the ink print information should be available in Braille and/or audio.

Now, don't get me wrong. Ramps and restrooms for the orthopedically handicapped are certainly needed. The blind, however, can (at least, independently) enter a building with steps and use the baths with no problem. Thus, for us accessibility is simply being able to obtain the same information as others.

Regarding reasonable accommodation, we should ask for only minimal adaptations for our job. If we want no pity, we should adjust to the world, and not the world to us.

We need, therefore, to be aware of the public places, and even businesses, that are being built or renovated. Let us help them eliminate superfluous accessibility expense so they can provide adaptations where necessary.



by Sharon Maneki

Sharon Maneki is President of the National Federation of the Blind of Maryland. She also chairs the committee to select the Distinguished Educator of Blind Children for 1989.

The National Federation of the Blind will recognize an outstanding teacher of blind children at our 1989 convention, July 3-9 in Denver, Colorado. The winner of this award will receive an expense-paid trip to the convention, a check for $500, an appropriate plaque at the banquet, and an opportunity to make a presentation about the education of blind children to the National Federation of the Blind's Parents Division early in the convention.

Anyone who is currently teaching or counseling blind children or administering a program for blind children is eligible to receive this award. It is not necessary to be a member of the National Federation of the Blind to apply. However, the winner must attend the national convention. Teachers may be nominated by colleagues, supervisors, or friends.

The letter of nomination should explain why the teacher is being recommended for this award.

The nominee must meet two additional requirements: write a one-page letter describing his or her beliefs and approach to teaching, and answer the following ten questions:

1. List your degrees, the institutions from which they were received, and your major area or areas of study.

2. How long and in what programs have you taught blind children?

3. In what setting do you teach? (Example: classroom in school for the blind, special education classroom, itinerant program, etc.)

4. How many students do you teach regularly this year? What subjects do you teach?

5. How many of your students read and write primarily using: a) Braille, b) large print, c) closed circuit television, d) recorded materials, e) small print?

6. How many of your students use both print and Braille?

7. At what age do you recommend that your students begin: a) reading Braille, b) writing with a slate and stylus, c) writing with a Braille writer?

8. At what age do you recommend that your students begin to learn independent cane travel?

9. How do you determine which children should learn cane travel and which children should not?

10. a) At what age do you recommend that students begin typing? b) When do you expect them to be able to hand in typed assignments? Send all material by April 15, 1989, to: Sharon Maneki, Chairman, Teacher Award Committee, 9736 Basket Ring Road, Columbia, Maryland 21045. Telephone: (301) 992-9608. The education of blind children is one of our most important concerns. Attendance at a National Federation of the Blind convention will enrich a teacher's experience by affording the opportunity to meet other teachers who work with blind children, to meet parents, and to meet blind adults who have had experiences in a variety of educational programs. Help us recognize a distinguished teacher by distributing this announcement and encouraging teachers to submit their applications.

We are pleased to offer this award and look forward to receiving nominations from many well-qualified educators.



by Geraldine Burke

This article (which appeared in the September, 1988, newsletter of the National Federation of the Blind of Virginia) was written by Geraldine Burke, one of the long- time leaders of the Federation in that state.

Have you ever wanted to go on vacation and just get away from it all, but decided against going anywhere because you could not find anyone to go with you? Believe me, I have done just that on more than one occasion, so last May (when I began dreaming of a ten-day vacation in Miami, Florida, a place I had not seen in almost twenty-five years) I decided that it would be different this time. I would go alone, not only to prove to myself that I could do it, but also because I really needed privacy just to rest, relax, and refresh my spirit.

Having decided to go, I made my hotel reservations and bought my nonrefundable airplane tickets, before I could change my mind. Then, the terror set in. I was going to Miami! Alone! Since I was now committed, I started planning my vacation. My mother always said that where there was a will, there was a way; and with this in mind, I tried to anticipate the situations I might face and the tools I might need in each situation. My hotel was on the beach, because I knew that I would be spending a lot of time at the ocean. I needed a way to mark the place where I had spread my beach towel so that I could return to it after taking my periodic plunges in Miami's wonderfully warm water.

I brought a radio with me; and whenever I decided to take a dip in the ocean, I would turn it on and raise the volume slightly. I thought my beach neighbors might complain, but they did not. I think they understood what I was doing. I must say that my beach marker worked pretty well, except on those rare occasions when I drifted too far from where I had entered the water, or when there was someone nearby who liked the same radio station I did. Oh well, that's one way to meet people.

On the whole, I had a great vacation! I toured Miami, both by bus and by boat, and saw the winter homes of several famous movie stars. I took a tour of the Everglades and rode in an air boat, which can travel on water no more than six inches deep. I went to Key West and explored the town for three hours on my own, and I took a one-day cruise to the Bahamas, but that story is too long to tell here. Just don't let anyone tell you that you can't vacation alone. You can! It just takes some planning and the desire to have fun.



by Hazel Staley

As Monitor readers know, Hazel Staley is the President of the National Federation of the Blind of North Carolina and one of our most dedicated national leaders.

It is with deep regret that I must report the death of Clarence Collins on October 22, 1988. Clarence was the first president of our affiliate when it was reorganized in 1969. For years he and Helen were the only representatives from North Carolina attending national conventions, but they went faithfully. Clarence was my mentor when I first joined the Federation. I served as first vice president under him, and he taught me a lot. He has not been able to attend our state conventions for the last few years, but he attended our local chapter meetings until last month. Clarence was a good man and a good Federationist. Our lives were enriched by our association with him. A great leader has been taken from us. We can best serve his memory by picking up where he left off and carrying on.

His obituary in our local newspaper says in part: Mr. Clarence Eugene Collins died Saturday, October 22, 1988, at home. He was born February 6, 1904, in Lillington, North Carolina. Funeral services will be 11 a.m. Monday, October 24, 1988, at McEwen West Chapel. Mr. Collins attended the State School for the Blind in Raleigh, North Carolina, and Central High School in Charlotte. He was employed by the High Point Mattress Company, and the C.C. Coddington Buick Company in Charlotte before opening his own business in 1929. In 1931 he married the former Helen Starling, a teacher in public schools in Johnston County. Together, they owned and operated the Collins Service Station and later the Collins Mattress Company on Statesville Road. Mr. Collins organized the National Federation of the Blind in North Carolina and served as its president for four years. He maintained membership in the National Federation of the Blind and the state and local affiliate up until his death. For four years he was Editor of the Open Forum , a monthly newsletter containing articles and news of interest to the blind and interested persons. It was published in inkprint and Braille and had a statewide circulation.



by Barbara Cheadle

As Monitor readers know, Barbara Cheadle is the mother of a blind child; the President of the Parents of Blind Children Division of the National Federation of the Blind; and the Editor of Future Reflections, the magazine for parents and educators of blind children. She is also a first-rate cook.



2 � cups flour
� tsp salt
� cup shortening
Ice water, about 7 to 8 tablespoons (just enough to make dough stay together)


6 medium-sized tart, firm apples
� cup sugar
1 � tsp cinnamon


1 cup sugar
� tsp cinnamon
4 Tbs butter
2 cups water

Pastry: Mix flour and salt in mixing bowl. Add shortening and mix with a pastry blender, table knives, or fingers until crumbly (do not overmix). Sprinkle water lightly over mixture, blending it quickly with a fork or fingers just until dough can be formed into a ball (the less the dough is handled, the better the results). Roll out dough and cut into six, 7-inch squares. Filling: Peel and core apples. Place an apple on each pastry square. Fill center of each apple with sugar and cinnamon mixture. Dot with butter. Fold pastry around the apple, sealing edges. Place about 2-inches apart in an 8x10 baking pan. Chill. Syrup: Mix sugar, cinnamon, butter and water in a pan and boil for three minutes.

Bake: Pour hot syrup around chilled dumplings in baking pan. Bake immediately for 5 to 7 minutes at 500 degrees. Reduce temperature to 350 degrees and bake about 30-35 minutes. Serve warm with syrup spooned over dumplings.


Lemon, if desired
Sugar, if desired
Cinnamon, if desired
Nutmeg, if desired

Peel and core apples. Cut into chunks and put into kettle or heavy saucepan with a very small amount of water so that it covers about � of the apples. (The apples will release a lot of water and juice so it is best to start with too little water and add more if needed). Cover and let simmer until tender and mushy (about 10-20 minutes). Lemon juice will improve the flavor if the apples are not tart. Add sugar and spices according to taste.


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour two 9-inch round cake pans or two 8 � x 4 � loaf pans.

1 cup shortening
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
2 � cups flour
� tsp salt
2 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp ground cloves
2 tsp ground allspice
� tsp mace
2 cups hot applesauce
2 cups raisins
2 cups chopped walnuts

Cream shortening and sugar until smooth. Add eggs and mix. Mix together the dry ingredients and add to the creamed mixture along with the hot applesauce, nuts, and raisins. Beat until well blended.

Spread evenly in pans. Bake cake layers for about 40 minutes and loaf cakes about 1 hour. Let cake layers cool about 5 minutes and loaf cakes about 10 minutes before removing from pans. This is good even without the nuts and raisins.


Pie dough for one 8- or 9-inch pie shell 2 � quart baking dish or casserole dish (must be at least 2 � to 3 inches deep)

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

10 cups apples, peeled, cored, and sliced into tenths
� cup lemon juice
1 cup sugar
2 Tbs cornstarch
� tsp cinnamon
� tsp nutmeg
� Tbs (1/2 stick or � cup) butter

Roll pie dough to the shape of, and 1 inch larger than the size of, the top of your baking dish.

Mix together in small bowl the sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Put apples in large bowl, sprinkle with lemon juice, then add sugar mixture and toss apples until well coated. Put apples in baking dish, dot with butter, and place pie dough over the apples. Fold the extra inch under the edge and crimp. Prick crust with fork or cut 2 or 3 vents for steam. Bake for about one hour until apples are tender.

*This can be a very juicy pie. To avoid a messy oven you can either place the pie on a cookie sheet to catch the overflow, or you can put an oven-proof custard cup or cup upside down in the center of the baking dish before you add the apples. This not only draws the juices, but helps support the crust and keeps it from sagging.

The following two recipes are great fast and nutritious snacks for children:


Mix together about � cup of sugar with 1 or 2 tablespoons of cinnamon (vary amounts according to taste and need). Slice or cut apples into bite-size chunks. If cut into chucks, put a toothpick in each.

Dip apples into cinnamon/sugar dip, and eat!


Wash and core whole apples. Stuff apple cavity with peanut-butter and slice apples into wheels.

Variations: Add to peanut-butter any of the following: Coconut, nuts, raisins.


Monitor Miniatures

**Twice Blessed:

Recently good things have been happening to the Povinellis. Susan Povinelli is a materials engineer in the Corrosion Control Section of the Materials and Processes Branch of the Air Vehicle Division of the Naval Air Systems Command at the Department of the Navy. She is also one of the leaders of the National Federation of the Blind of Virginia and the wife of NFB of Virginia Treasurer Larry Povinelli.

A recent memorandum from the Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Manpower and Reserve Affairs to the Commander of the Naval Air Systems Control says in part: I am pleased to notify you of the selection of one of your employees, Mrs. Susan K. Povinelli, as the 1988 Department of the Navy Outstanding Handicapped Employee of the Year. Her nomination package will be forwarded for consideration for the Presidential level awards.

Good news, indeed, for the Povinelli family but there is more; and even better. Susan and Larry announce that a baby girl was born to them at 9:47 p.m. on October 19, 1988. She is Stephanie Elaine. She weighed 6 pounds, 14 ounces, and was 19-1/2 inches long. All are doing well. The Braille Monitor says: Congratulations to Federationist Susan Povinelli.


Federationists Tom and Marilyn Beach from Evansville, Indiana, write to say that the thirty-fifth annual convention of the NFB of Indiana was held in Evansville October 7-9, 1988. The meetings were well attended, and NFB Board Member Gary Wunder represented the National Office.

**Not Governors But Presidents, Not Democrats But Federationists:

Maybe about other minorities and other organzations, but not about women and the NFB. As a result of the fall elections, the democrats gained in the state houses, and the women gained in Federation state presidencies. Of the fifty-one state presidencies (the District of Columbia has an equal voice), twenty-eight are now held by women and a scant twenty-three by men. It might also be noted that as of last summer's convention three of our five national officers are women. Even so, we have not yet observed a move to form a committee on men's issues.

**More New Presidents:

In the November, 1988, Monitor we reported the election of three new state presidents. In this issue we report five more a change of more than fifteen percent. On the weekend of October 1 Janet Holtz replaced Gay Mohr as President of the NFB of North Dakota. On the weekend of October 15 (White Cane Safety Day) Charlotte Bellmyer replaced Mark Noble as President of the NFB of Oklahoma. On the weekend of October 22 there were two changes. Doug Elliott replaced Joan Abraham Tait as President of the NFB of Nevada and Ben Prows replaced Gary Mackenstadt as President of the NFB of Washington. On the weekend of November 12 Ted Young replaced Terry McManus as President of the NFB of Pennsylvania. The Monitor says: Congratulations to the retiring presidents for jobs well done and to the new presidents upon their election to office.

**Muddle in the Middle:

During recent years when anybody throughout the country has wanted a little comic relief to while away the tedium of a dreary day, all he or she has needed to do is think about the situation in Iowa. In the mid-80's the Iowa Commission for the Blind was plopped into a hodge-podge called the Department of Human Rights, not to be confused with the state's giant welfare department, which is called the Department of Human Services. One Nancy Norman (wife of one of the governor's inside cronies) had been the director of the Iowa Commission for the Blind but now became a coordinator of the Department of Human Rights. Then, a year or so ago she was made director of the Department of Human Services, a lucrative job and supposedly a political plum. An individual named Gretchen Hamlett was made coordinator of Human Rights. Now, it developed during the first part of last year that Hamlett's husband was widely publicized for violations in the slum housing he owned, and the newspapers had a field day. Not to be outdone, Norman followed suit. Last summer her husband was exposed as being an even bigger slumlord, having all kinds of building violations and owing a sizable chunk of back taxes on his property. In the meantime Norman was keeping up her end of the bargain by showing that she could embarrass the governor as much as her husband could. There were razzle-dazzles about mishandling of foster children (to the point that 60 Minutes got involved) and a variety of other public snafus. It was farce and slapstick and poor-taste carnival. The conclusion of the whole sorry mess is this: Norman has had to resign and take a newly created job at Iowa State University, and her husband apparently continues as a member of the Governor's kitchen cabinet. Presumably Norman will be relatively harmless where she now is and will not be further involved with the blind. Oh, incidentally, the blind of the state got the Commission for the Blind taken out of the Department of Human Rights last year and reconstituted as a separate agency. It is now the Iowa Department for the Blind.

**Read and Lead:

The Parents of Blind Children Division of the National Federation of the Blind and the National Association to Promote the Use of Braille announce the 1988-89 Braille Readers Are Leaders contest for students kindergarten through twelfth grade. The purpose of this contest is to encourage blind school children to read more Braille. It is just as important for blind children to be literate as it is for other children.

The contest dates are December 1, 1988, to March 1, 1989. All entries must be received no later than March 10. Students may enter the contest in any of five categories: (1) Print to Braille beginning readers (those who have read Braille for two years or less); (2) Kindergarten through first grade; (3) Second through fourth grade; (4) Fifth through eighth grade; and (5) Ninth through twelfth grade. Prizes will be awarded in each category. In addition, awards will be given to those five contestants who have shown the most improvement since last year's competition. Contest details and entry forms are available from: Braille Readers Are Leaders, National Federation of the Blind, 1800 Johnson Street, Baltimore, Maryland 21230; or by calling Barbara Cheadle, President of the Parents of Blind Children Division at (301) 659-9314.


On August 8, 1988, Barbara Walker (President of the NFB of Nebraska) was appointed to the Advisory Committee to Nebraska Services for the Visually Impaired. Writing in the fall, 1988, issue of News From Blind Nebraskans , (the newsletter of the NFB of Nebraska) Barbara says to the blind of the state: As your representative, I intend to do what I can to re-establish the credibility of a committee we brought into being in 1975.

**Need Brailler:

We have been asked to carry the following announcement: Wanted; Perkins Brailler; contact Richard Bennett, 408 North James Street, Lot 13, Newport, Delaware 19804. Phone (302) 999-7242.

**New Baby:

Michael and Gloria Taylor write: The Taylors now have their second child in five months and one day apart. Michael Levi and Keven Stanford now bless our home. This makes three children the Taylors have adopted in the past three years, two of which are living. What a happy couple. The parents, Michael and Gloria Taylor, are active members of the Salt Lake Chapter of the National Federation of the Blind of Utah. Name: Keven Stanford Taylor; Date: September 18, 1988, 7:55 p.m. (we picked him up on September 19, 1988); Weight: 10 pounds, 6 ounces, 22 inches long.

**From Japan:

September 6, 19188

Dear Mr. Maurer:

On behalf of the Kawasaki Delegation of the Handicapped and Helpers, we must express our sincere appreciation of your hospitality and kindnesses which we had during our stay in Baltimore. All members of our delegation returned back to Japan in safety and good condition, and especially with good memories of Baltimore. It is about one month since we left Baltimore, our splended sister city. We have had couple of meetings to have a talk about our nice trip and exchange photos each other since then. We can never forget that we were particularly honored as the Delegation from Kawasaki City. We are so glad to have visited your splendid facilities and have had a nice opportunity to tour the National Center for the Blind. We were so greatly impressed by your facilities and your generous instructions which were so interesting and instructive for us. We don't know how to express our thanks.

Taking advantage of this trip to Baltimore, we are firmly determined to do much more for having our relationship between both cities much deeper.

We have a plan to publish a memoir of our visit this time. We have had meetings couple times about that. We must apologize for writing too late. We hope our relationship may continue in good condition and be prospering forever. Thanks again.

Very truly yours,

Minato Ogawa
Chairperson of the Kawasaki Health Volunteers Club

Masao Kashikura
Chairperson of the Kawasaki Handicapped Association


From the Editor: I am sorry to have to report the death of Arthur Leading, one of the long-time leaders of our movement in Ohio. I am not sure when I first came to know Art, but I corresponded with him through the years. In his death I have lost a personal friend, and the Federation has lost a staunch member. He died at the age of eighty and (considering his dedication to the cause of the blind) appropriately on October 15, White Cane Safety Day. Through a long and active life Art Leading was a good and generous man. Perhaps no greater tribute can be paid to any of us.

**Rehabilitation Under Investigation by Government Accounting Office:

In a memorandum dated September 12, 1988, the President of the Council of State Administrators of Vocational Rehabilitation (CSAVR) says in part:

GAO Investigation of OSERS Continues All State Directors to be Interviewed:

Officials of the U.S. General Accounting Office (GAO) have informed the CSAVR Washington office that they have now, after a number of delays, allotted the necessary time to conduct CONFIDENTIAL telephonic interviews of all State Vocational Rehabilitation Agency Directors, as a part of the GAO's ongoing investigation of the management of the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS). The GAO, the investigative arm of the Congress, has asked the CSAVR Washington office to advise State Directors of the timing of the upcoming interviews.

Thus far, approximately six such interviews have been conducted, according to GAO officials. The GAO hopes to complete all interviews with State Vocational Rehabilitation Directors by late September, or early October, 1988.

GAO investigator Darlene Bell will be conducting these interviews. The GAO investigation was ordered in December, 1987, by Congressman Major R. Owens, Chairman of the House Select Education Subcommittee, following a Subcommittee Oversight Hearing at which RSA Commissioner Justin Dart and others delivered severe critiques of the management of programs administered by the OSERS.

**It Seems Worth Noting:

In a letter dated September 1, 1988, to its corporate members, NAC (the National Accreditation Council for Agencies Serving the Blind and Visually Handicapped) said concerning the proposed re-election of one of its board members: Allen Jenkins; Berkeley, California; Consumer Category; Administrator, Orientation Center for the Blind, Albany, California; Elected to NAC Board of Directors 1986; Member, NAC Commission on Accreditation; Member, Board of Directors, California Council of the Blind. **Appointed:

We have learned that on Wednesday, October 5, 1988, the Mahoning County Commissioners passed a resolution appointing Thomas Anderson (Second Vice President of the NFB of Ohio) to the Mahoning County Human Services Advisory Board.

**Gets Grant:

We recently received a news release from Recording for the Blind saying: Recording for the Blind has received a $750,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to help meet increasing demands by blind junior high and high school students for recorded books in mathematics and science. The grant will be issued to RFB over a three-year period.

**Life Options:

We have been asked to carry the following announcement: Life Options is a company which is committed to helping people grow, especially those who are blind or visually impaired. In February we begin the publication of a magazine called Options . In addition to offering new software and hardware for computer users, we will be offering a new concept called `GOING, GOING, GONE.' This section will highlight items you don't need or can't use any more: magnifiers; that extra Brailler you have been trying to sell but for which you can't find a buyer; a speech synthesizer you don't use anymore; items which only another blind person might want including services such as Brailled greeting cards, etc. Whether you want to buy or sell, this is your chance. At the present time we are planning four issues of the magazine per year at a cost of $10. Through June of 1989 we are also including two free ads in the price of your subscription. The magazine will be published on four-track cassette. For further information or for your subscription contact Fred Olver at: Life Options, Post Office Box 206, Wilmington, North Carolina 28402, telephone 919-343-9931. Orders will be accepted in Braille, on cassette, or in print.

**International Cook:

Cheryl McCaslin writes: We (the Cultural Exchange and International Program Committee) are going to start a new fundraising project. We will be producing an `International Dining' cookbook. This book will be sold in both Braille and print by all CEIP Committee members. Any of you can buy this cookbook, and all of you can be part of putting it together. We need your foreign recipes. Gather them together and send them to:

NFB of Minnesota, Attention: Joyce Scanlan, 15 5th Street Suite 715, Minneapolis, Minnesota 55402. We will be looking forward to hearing from each and every one of you with those delicious and tantalizing adventures.

**New Student Division:

Alvin Cohen, Secretary of the newly formed student division of the National Federation of the Blind of Florida, writes to say that this student division came into being during the convention of the National Federation of the Blind of Florida, September 28, 1988. The following people were elected to office: Melody Lindsey, President; Beth Bowen, First Vice President; Daniel Weiner, Second Vice President; Alvin Cohen, Secretary; and Gary Chambers, Treasurer.


Loraine Stayer writes: Excogitating, delightsome, and impecunious members (we rarely have any other kind) of the Writers Division of the National Federation of the Blind invite interested individuals to join the Division. Our quarterly magazine, Slate and Style , contains articles of interest to blind writers, poetry and short stories by members, a resource corner, contests, and a letters column. A one-year subscription (four issues on cassette or in large type) costs $5, or in Braille $10. The membership fee is included in the magazine fee. Back issues are $2.50 per copy as long as the supply lasts. Please make your check payable to the Writers Division NFB, note the medium you want, and mail to: Slate and Style , NFB, 2704 Beach Drive, Merrick, New York 11566.


Dottie Neely writes: Thanks to those persons who worked for, donated and made items for, and purchased items at the Elegant Elephant table during the Chicago convention of the NFB. Your contributions made this particular sale the best ever. Please accept my invitation to do the same great work next year at Denver, and perhaps we will raise an even larger amount to support the tenBroek Fund.


Stephen Benson, President of the National Federation of the Blind of Illinois and a member of the Board of Directors of the National Federation of the Blind, writes to say that elections were held at the 1988 convention of the NFB of Illinois. Those serving on the board are: Stephen Benson, President; Cathy Randall, First Vice President; Steve Hastalis, Second Vice President; Ruth Isaacs, Secretary; William Hafer, Treasurer; Bruce Breslauer, Patty Gregory, Chip Johnson, and Bill Isaacs, board members.


The members of the National Federation of the Blind of Virginia have tried for a long time to bring reform and modernization to the Virginia Department for the Visually Handicapped, but until recently no Federationist had ever been appointed to the VDVH board. Under date of September 29, 1988, Virginia Governor Gerald Baliles wrote to Charlie Brown (President of the NFB of Virginia) as follows:

It is with pleasure that I inform you of my selection of Seville Allen for appointment to serve on the Virginia Board for the Visually Handicapped. Your interest in this administration is greatly appreciated, and I hope that you will continue to provide me with recommendations of potential appointees. With kindest regards.


Gerald L. Baliles, Governor
Commonwealth of Virginia


In the September-October, 1988, issue of the Monitor we reported that the sign which had adorned the roof of the National Center for the Blind since November of 1987 was torn from its moorings on July 26, 1988, in a violent windstorm, doing considerable damage to the building as it fell. We are now pleased to be able to announce that the sign (more securely mounted) once again occupies its former place of centrality and splendor, shining forth to illumine the night and proclaiming its message throughout the day for all to see who pass through the purlieus of the City of Baltimore. Long may the sign and the principles for which it stands endure.