The Braille Monitor
Vol. 33, No. 8 August 1990
Barbara Pierce, Editor
Published in inkprint, Braille, on talking-book disc, and cassette by
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THE BRAILLE MONITOR PUBLICATION OF THE NATIONAL FEDERATION OF THE BLIND
Vol. 33, No. 8 August 1990
DRUGS, SEX, AND ALCOHOL ARE WAY OF LIFE AT CALIFORNIA CENTER:
REHABILITATION OFFICIALS SAY GOOD ENOUGH FOR BLIND
by Barbara Pierce
FROM THE DEPARTMENT OF LOOSE ENDS:
BLIND VETERANS CASE RESOLVED
by Barbara Pierce
POSITIVE NOTES: REPORT FROM SOUTH CAROLINA
OPEN MEETINGS AT FLORIDA SERVICES FOR THE BLIND, NAC STYLE
FEDERATIONIST NAMED TRUSTEE OF FLORIDA SCHOOL FOR DEAF AND BLIND
BOOK REVIEW: A HANDBOOK FOR ITINERANT AND RESOURCE TEACHERS
OF BLIND AND VISUALLY IMPAIRED STUDENTS
THE PALMER HOUSE REVISITED
A VICTORY FOR VIRGINIA VENDORS
by Charles S. Brown
SEVILLE ALLEN ELECTED CHAIRMAN OF THE
VIRGINIA BOARD FOR THE VISUALLY HANDICAPPED
by Charles S. Brown
BLIND WOMAN'S TOOLS AID SUCCESS
IS SPECIAL DESIRABLE?
by Susie L. Stanzel
NEW JERSEY: LAND OF GREAT POTENTIAL
by Donald C. Capps
Copyright, National Federation of the Blind, Inc., 1990
DRUGS, SEX, AND ALCOHOL ARE WAY OF LIFE AT CALIFORNIA CENTER:
REHABILITATION OFFICIALS SAY GOOD ENOUGH FOR BLIND
by Barbara Pierce
When Muhammad Karim, a young blind Californian, sought training in the skills of blindness, state officials tried to force him to take instruction in a program which he regarded as inappropriate. His requests for placement elsewhere were rejected, and when he brought evidence that the California Orientation Center for the Blind at Albany (the center he was being told he must attend) was characterized by widespread drug abuse, pervasive and open sexual promiscuity, and a general atmosphere not conducive to learning, rehabilitation officials seemed, so to speak, to shrug and take the position that that is the way society is these days. The circumstances surrounding Mr. Karim's case (his urgent attempts to get training, his insensitive treatment by California state officials, and his revelations of what is taking place at the California Orientation Center for the Blind at Albany) need to be known by the blind of the nation and by responsible program officials. Every day hundreds of blind people across this nation make rehabilitation decisions that, whether they know it or not, will profoundly affect the rest of their lives. These men and women have come to recognize that they must master at least some of the alternative techniques of blindness if they are to have any chance of improving the quality of their lives. For the most part they know nothing and care less about the program alternatives among which they must choose. Will the teachers come to me? Can I commute? How long do I have to stay? How hard is it going to be? These are the questions they ask, and it is usually on the basis of the answers they receive that they make their decisions on these answers and on the recommendations of their rehabilitation counselors.
But what about the people who know something of the rehabilitation facilities in their states and have informed opinions about their options? There are now a handful of private rehabilitation centers willing to take students from their own states (or anywhere in the nation) as long as those students understand that they must be prepared to work hard and invest long hours of their time to succeed. Blind people who have already experienced haphazard or shoddy rehabilitation instruction and who truly want to learn the techniques of blindness are understandably eager to enroll in one of these centers, in which dedicated staff members expect much and give even more.
As has already been said, Muhammad Karim is a bright young Californian who has never been given much of a chance to succeed. He goes where he needs to go (when he must do so) on nerve and the principle that, if you want to get there badly enough, you will. He has never been taught to cook or keep his clothing or home in order. He has already attended one California rehabilitation program, where for many reasons he says he learned virtually nothing. He has now become a member of the National Federation of the Blind, and he has learned about rehabilitation centers in other states. He believes that if he could attend one of these, he could learn the techniques and the philosophy that would enable him to live a productive life. Mr. Karim has acquired the maturity to recognize that he needs a disciplined, focused environment in which to work. If he is to master the skills he needs, he must be surrounded with people who believe in him enough to set high standards which they expect him to meet.
When Mr. Karim broached with his rehabilitation counselor the subject of attending the Louisiana Center for the Blind, she made it clear that there were several other rehabilitation options in California which had not yet been offered to him, and that he should consider one or more of these. Her recommendation was the California Orientation Center for the Blind (OCB) in Albany.
Federationists will remember that in the fifties this agency employed Dr. Kenneth Jernigan. It was here that much of the Federation philosophy and excellent teaching that would later distinguish the Iowa Commission for the Blind were pioneered. It is accurate to say that the independent rehabilitation centers in Colorado, Louisiana, and Minnesota have some semblance of being the grandchildren of the program almost forty years ago at the California Orientation Center.
But times and personnel change, and the California Orientation Center has fallen on hard times. The director is Allen Jenkins, a member of the board of directors of the National Accreditation Council for Agencies Serving the Blind and Visually Handicapped (NAC), whose credentials for leading (or not leading) are painfully laid bare in the documents that follow. His chief assistant is that same Al Gil, who often distinguishes himself at social gatherings by imitating a Greyhound bus (see article on American Council of the Blind convention in the October-November, 1987, Braille Monitor). At the Orientation Center today, students and teachers are, according to reliable sources, frequently absent from class; and, to say the least, a party atmosphere prevails at least this was Muhammad's impression, and he knew that this was not the environment he needed for success. His inquiries only confirmed his first impressions. He officially requested that he be sent to Louisiana, and his counselor officially denied that request. He then asked for an Administrative Review of her decision, and on August 3, 1989, his appeal was also denied. He then appealed that decision with the help of the National Federation of the Blind, and a hearing before the California Department of Rehabilitation Appeals Board was conducted on March 2, 1990. Here is the letter that Sharon Gold, President of the National Federation of the Blind of California, wrote to Dr. Jernigan the day following the appeal hearing:
March 3, 1990
Dear Dr. Jernigan:
Yesterday a hearing was held before the Appeals Board of the California Department of Rehabilitation in the matter of Muhammad Karim, who wishes to attend the Louisiana Center for the Blind as a client of the California Department of Rehabilitation. This appeal arose when Muhammad's rehabilitation counselor refused his request. I am enclosing herewith a copy of the brief and attached affidavits, which were filed in this proceeding.
In addition to Michael Baillif, Annette Coe, Charles Coe, Todd Elzey, Edith Esty, Joanne Fernandes, and Mildred Rivera, whose affidavits you will find attached, Louis Lucero, Maria Morais, Sheryl Pickering, Fred Schroeder, and Robert Stigile attended the hearing and testified for Muhammad.
George Allen, District Administrator from the Santa Barbara District Office of the Department of Rehabilitation, represented the Department; and Manuel Urena, Program Manager, served as witness for it. Muhammad's argument for attending the Louisiana Center is that there are no rehabilitation services suited to his needs in California. Notwithstanding the Department's contention that there are a number of services available to Muhammad, we showed during the hearing, and the Department agreed, that there are only two facilities in the state that could be considered at all the Vocational Independence Program (VIP) in Los Angeles and the Orientation Center for the Blind located in Albany. Muhammad has already spent time at VIP, where he was not taught the techniques and information necessary for successful rehabilitation. For example, in mobility training Muhammad reports that he was taught to travel by walking around a square block making only right turns and that he was never taught to cross a street. The Orientation Center's instructional program has deteriorated so much that it is unlikely anyone can receive adequate services there, and Muhammad does not wish to attend it at all.
Robert Stigile also spent time at VIP and testified to the inadequacies of the program offered there. Among other things, he testified that he is blind from retinitis pigmentosa, and even though everyone knew his vision was deteriorating, VIP refused to teach him Braille and other alternative techniques to prepare him for functioning as a blind person.
Last year, Robert went to OCB, where he hoped to receive the training that he did not receive at VIP. He was shocked and disappointed in what he found at OCB and therefore went home after one week. Robert offered testimony about poor class attendance by both instructors and students and rowdy dormitory life. He said that students appeared to carouse all night and sleep all day. Robert further testified that he often could not use his bedroom because of the sexual activities of his roommate and the roommate's girlfriend.
On two different occasions before leaving the Center, Robert testified that he attempted to discuss his disappointment in the entire program with Al Gil, who failed to recognize the problems or to offer any help to Robert. A three-way conversation between Robert, Al Gil, and Robert's rehabilitation counselor served to terminate his OCB experience at Robert's request, and he went home. I asked him during the hearing if he had met the OCB administrator while there. He answered that he had not. One can only conclude from this fact that Mr. Jenkins apparently had no interest in ascertaining for himself why a student was leaving after only one week.
Maria Morais visited OCB during the spring of 1988, when she was considering attending the Center for rehabilitation. She testified that she spent twenty-four hours at the Center and that she felt unwelcomed by the students and staff and frightened by the behavior of some of the students. During the Blind Law Class, Maria testified that a guest speaker presented a political pep talk for an upcoming local election which had nothing to do with blindness or blind law. One of the students asked what the subject matter had to do with blindness, and the instructor Henry Kruse said nothing. Another student said for all to hear that it didn't matter to her since, as a convicted felon, she couldn't vote anyway. Another student commented that she was a convicted felon, too. Maria further testified that later in the evening, when she was in the TV room, two male students made inappropriate advances toward her and also told her that drugs were available in the dorm if she wanted them. She said she was frightened by the whole atmosphere and went to her room, locking the door. To the allegations of heavy drinking and drug abuse among the students and sexual promiscuity within the dorm, Manuel Urena testified that the students are adults and rehabilitation is a learning process. He further stated that he is proud of OCB.
On the other hand, Dr. Allen was apparently horrified by the testimony submitted concerning the conditions at OCB. He first tried to attack Muhammad personally in an apparent attempt to discredit him before the Appeals Board. When that didn't work, he tried to diminish his share of the responsibility in the decision to require Muhammad to use California rehabilitation services by admitting that a person has a right to be in an alcohol- and drug-free environment. He further stated that he had spoken with Joanne Fernandes, that Mrs. Fernandes was very proud of her program and that he thought the program at the Louisiana Center had many good things to offer.
The Rehabilitation Appeals Board has 60 days to render its proposed decision and forward it to the Director of the Department of Rehabilitation. The Director may adopt the proposed decision without change, or she may review the decision in whole or in part and issue a separate decision, or she may send the matter back for further hearing. The Director has 20 days from the date of the proposed decision to choose among these options. I shall keep you apprised of the progress of this appeal.
Sharon Gold, President
National Federation of the Blind
That was Sharon Gold's cover letter, and the material that came with it might be described as lurid. Space will not permit inclusion of all the affidavits. Michael Baillif, a native Californian, and Mildred Rivera, a young attorney about to take a position with a California law firm, recounted in glowing terms their experiences at the Louisiana Center for the Blind. Todd Elzey described in agonizing detail the frustration of dealing with the California Orientation Center staff who would not do what was necessary to get the replacement batteries he desperately needed for his hearing aids while he was a student there.
Edith Esty admitted that, as a mature adult who knew what she wanted out of the rehabilitation experience, she had been able to make the training program at the Orientation Center work for her. But she said that there was always lots of noise, alcohol, and general temptation around, and a young person would have trouble getting the most out of the program. In his testimony, Manual Urena, Program Manager for the Department of Rehabilitation, admitted that students as young as sixteen can be enrolled at the Orientation Center, a fact which raises the possibility at least of statutory rape at a facility in which sexual activity is alleged to be frequent and wide-spread.
Here is the brief prepared by Muhammad Karim and the National Federation of the Blind of California:
STATE OF CALIFORNIA
IN THE MATTER OF
THE APPEAL OF
Case No. 335-58-6011
Muhammad Karim hereby appeals from the August 3, 1989, Administrative Review Decision of George A. Allen, District Administrator, Department of Rehabilitation, 350 South Hope Avenue, Santa Barbara, that, because the California Department of Rehabilitation offers rehabilitation training for the blind through the Orientation Center for the Blind, and alternative sources through the Foundation for the Junior Blind in Los Angeles, the Living Skills Center in San Pablo, the Lions Blind Center in Oakland, and local training by a Counselor-Teacher supplemented by a mobility instructor, the Department of Rehabilitation correctly declined to fund rehabilitation training for Mr. Karim through an out-of-state facility, the Louisiana Center for the Blind, located in Ruston, Louisiana.
Muhammad Karim is a twenty-two-year-old legally blind male, who is a client of the California Department of Rehabilitation. Mr. Karim gained most of his elementary education in Chicago before moving to the Los Angeles area, where he attended intermediate and secondary schools through the Los Angeles City Schools program for blind students, in which he continued to learn typing and the skills of Braille reading and writing. While in public school, he did not adequately learn mobility and the other skills necessary for independent living as a blind person.
Following Mr. Karim's graduation from high school, he spent approximately five months at the Vocational Independence Program of the Foundation for the Junior Blind in Los Angeles under the sponsorship of the California Department of Rehabilitation. While at VIP, Mr. Karim learned some elementary mobility skills; however, he was not taught to travel independently at a distance from his home, to cross streets, or to travel on public transportation independently. Also while at VIP, Mr. Karim was not taught to do his own cooking or laundry or to master the other skills necessary for successful independent living as a blind person. Realizing that he needed further training in independent living skills, on May 12, 1989, Mr. Karim wrote to Shelley Alshire, his rehabilitation counselor, requesting that the Department of Rehabilitation sponsor him at the Louisiana Center for the Blind, where he could learn the skills necessary to function as a blind person and also the proper attitude towards blindness. The counselor denied Mr. Karim's request for out-of-state rehabilitation training, and Mr. Karim requested an Administrative Review of the counselor's decision.
The Administrative Review was held on August 1, 1989, at the Santa Maria Branch Office of the Department of Rehabilitation. On August 3, George Allen, District Administrator of the Santa Barbara Office of the Department of Rehabilitation, held that Mr. Karim's rehabilitation counselor was correct in declining to authorize Department funding to train him for independence at the Louisiana Center for the Blind, an out-of-state facility, because suitable alternative sources of training are available in the State of California.
Is it appropriate for the California Department of Rehabilitation to refuse to sponsor rehabilitation training for Muhammad Karim at the Louisiana Center for the Blind in Ruston, Louisiana, an out-of-state facility?
Muhammad Karim contends that:
1. He needs rehabilitation training in the alternative techniques of blindness.
2. At the present time there is no program in California which meets his individual needs.
3. The Department of Rehabilitation should provide out-of-state rehabilitation training because suitable courses, training, and environment are not available to him within the State of California.
In his Administrative Review Decision of August 3, 1989, George Allen, District Administrator, outlined four alternative in-state options to the out-of-state rehabilitation training requested by Mr. Karim:
(1) training at the California Orientation Center for the Blind,
(2) additional training at the Foundation for the Junior Blind,
(3) a program linking the Living Skills Center in San Pablo and the Lions Blind Center in Oakland, and (4) local training combining the services of a Department Counselor-Teacher and a mobility instructor. California statutes mandate that the Department of Rehabilitation provide a residential rehabilitation center for the blind. At the center, blind clients are to receive an intensive program designed for maximum vocational and personal rehabilitation and for the preparation of blind persons for useful and remunerative work. Welfare and Institutions Code Section 19500 and 19501. The program at the center should include techniques of daily living, techniques of travel, physical conditioning, sensory training, instruction in Braille, instruction in skills for the handicapped, typing, and business principles and methods and shall provide for social and vocational diagnostic testing and individual counseling. Welfare and Institutions Code Section 19502.
As an alternative to the California Orientation Center for the Blind, the Department contracts with the Foundation for the Junior Blind in Los Angeles to provide rehabilitation training through its Vocational Independence Program and with the Living Skills Center in San Pablo. Each of these facilities has a residential program, which offers courses similar to those offered by the Orientation Center.
In addition to the residential programs offered by the Department of Rehabilitation, the Department is mandated to provide counselor-teachers who give individual instruction in those techniques which will enable the blind to adjust to daily living in the home and in the community. The counselor-teachers shall teach the blind reading and writing of Braille, typing, travel techniques, household arts and crafts...and such other instruction as may enhance their opportunities for personal rehabilitation. Welfare and Institutions Code Section 19525. The instruction by the counselor-teacher is supplemented by mobility instructors who work with the client in the neighborhood environment.
The Lions Blind Center of Oakland is a private agency not under contract with the Department of Rehabilitation. Individuals attending this center are assessed fees for services based on their income.
The Louisiana Center for the Blind is a residential center serving the citizens of Louisiana and persons from such other states as may request its services. About twenty-five percent of the students attending the Louisiana Center for the Blind are out-of-state residents who are receiving services under contract from their home states.
The center offers a well-structured program of training in the alternative skills of blindness and develops a positive philosophy of blindness and a strong belief in the capabilities of the blind. The staff and programs of the center emphasize self-discipline and self-motivation, and negative reinforcement is absent from the training.
At one time the California Orientation Center for the Blind provided a positive approach to the rehabilitation of blind persons. Through the years the curriculum has not kept pace with the times, and the rehabilitation training program has deteriorated to the point where both the students and staff members are casual about attending classes. The staff has poor self-esteem and displays negative attitudes toward blindness and blind people.
Whereas the Orientation Center has a duty to provide an environment in which blind and newly blind persons can find strength during the process of adjusting to their disability, the students and guests at OCB report that the environment of the dormitory is laced with alcohol, drugs, and promiscuous and perverted sexual behavior. It is reported that students return to the campus in a state of drunkenness and that some students bring liquor on to the premises.
Some students have left the Center without completing their training because of the complacent attitudes in the classroom, the negative attitudes toward blindness, and the environment of the dormitory. Other persons do not wish to attend OCB and subject themselves to the current environment at the center. Students and visitors have reported the availability of drugs in the dormitory and on the premises of the Orientation Center for the Blind. They have reported the odor of incense in the dormitory, which they believe to be a cover for marijuana. Most students are fearful of presenting documented statements concerning the availability and use of drugs on the OCB premises; however, an investigation by Chad Investigations of Richmond, California, reveals the presence of drugs, including cocaine, on the premises of the Orientation Center for the Blind. The investigation also confirms parties on the premises during which drugs and alcohol were present. This investigation further confirms some of the sexual relations between students and also mentions rumors of sexual relations between students and at least one member of the staff, who was reportedly fired because of her behavior with students. It has been reported that this staff member was later rehired and subsequently resumed these relations with the students. Finally, this report describes physical confrontations between students while on the premises of OCB.
Similar reports to those concerning the California Orientation Center for the Blind have come from students attending the Vocational Independence Program. However, Mr. Karim has already spent some months (March through August, 1985) at the Vocational Independence Program. Notwithstanding these months of training, Mr. Karim possesses limited mobility skills and reports that he was refused instruction in street crossing and adequate training in using public transportation.
The Living Skills Center in San Pablo provides a program which is unstructured and does not provide daily instruction in the alternative skills of blindness. Teachers go to the students' apartments to provide some instruction in daily living skills, such as the management of personal affairs and daily activities like cooking, cleaning, and doing laundry. Mobility training is based on daily activities in familiar areas and does not include long and intensive travel routes. The Living Skills Center is designed to be a stepping stone between the sheltered home environment and total independent living.
It has been suggested that Mr. Karim could incorporate instruction at the Lions Blind Center in Oakland with the program at the Living Skills Center. Students enrolled at the Oakland Lions Blind Center attend classes all day, one day per week; thus they do not have the advantage of continuity that comes with a daily training program.
The Louisiana Center for the Blind offers daily instruction in the alternative skills of blindness. Students attend class from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. with an hour lunch break. The Center provides intensive seminars for students, discussions which lead to the development of self-esteem and a positive image of blind persons.
The extra-curricular activities at the Louisiana Center for the Blind help the students progress from travel on foot in the one- half mile area between the Center and their apartment complex to independent travel throughout the state and across the country. Alcohol and drug abuse is not present at the Louisiana Center for the Blind. The General Information and Guidelines of the Center clearly state the rule that NO ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGES ARE PERMITTED ON THE PREMISES OF THE LOUISIANA CENTER FOR THE BLIND, INCLUDING THE STUDENT APARTMENTS. THE USE OF ILLEGAL DRUGS WILL RESULT IN IMMEDIATE TERMINATION FROM THE PROGRAM.
Muhammad Karim currently possesses little or no mobility skill with a white cane. He travels from place to place solely dependent upon sighted help. He is so fearful of street crossings that he is a potential danger to himself; thus he stands at intersections and waits for someone to take him across the street. He lacks the technique of locating obstacles with a cane and also lacks the self-confidence necessary to travel independently. Further, Mr. Karim cannot cook for himself, nor can he clean his home or properly handle his laundry. Therefore, Mr. Karim needs rehabilitation training in the alternative techniques of blindness.
Mr. Karim needs a structured, well-disciplined, and intensive rehabilitation training program. He needs the discipline of apartment living, compelling him to cook, shop, and clean for himself; and if that apartment were so situated that he had to walk some distance to attend mandatory daily classes, he would benefit greatly. No such program currently exists in California.
As evidenced by the above discussion and attached documentation, the environment at the California Orientation Center for the Blind, the only residential rehabilitation center for the blind administered by the Department of Rehabilitation, does not encourage students with high morals to attend. Mr. Karim finds both the dormitory and classroom environments offensive, and thus the OCB would not contribute to his successful adjustment to blindness. Further, the Vocational Independence Program has already proven to be unsuccessful for Mr. Karim, and neither OCB nor the Vocational Independence Program offers on-the-job training or a large computer lab, where he can use a Braille embosser, learn computer skills, and become familiar with several forms of speech-output software and hardware.
According to Title 9 of the California Code of Regulations, clients of the Department of Rehabilitation may be provided out-of-state training when: (a) Suitable facilities or courses are not available within the State. Because of the curriculum, environment, and philosophy of blindness exemplified by the Louisiana Center for the Blind, no California rehabilitation agency, combination of agencies, and/or field orientation services can provide comparable courses in this state. Therefore, the California Department of Rehabilitation should authorize funding for out-of-state rehabilitation training for Mr. Karim.
Date: March 2, 1990
I, Joanne Fernandes, hereby swear and depose:
1. My name is Joanne Fernandes.
2. I reside at 2509 Foxx Creek Road, Ruston, Louisiana, 71270.
3. I am legally blind, and during the mid-1960's I attended a residential rehabilitation facility for the blind where I developed a positive philosophy concerning blindness and received quality instruction in the skills of blindness.
4. I am a trained rehabilitation specialist and hold a Master's Degree in Counseling and Guidance.
5. Since 1985 I have been the Director of the Louisiana Center for the Blind, 101 South Trenton, Ruston, Louisiana, 71270, telephone (318) 251-2891, a privately owned, non-profit residential training facility which provides quality instruction in the skills of blindness.
6. The Louisiana Center for the Blind serves blind adults from Louisiana and throughout the United States. About one-quarter of the students come from states other than Louisiana and are funded by their home state rehabilitation agencies, which recognize the unique services offered by the Louisiana Center for the Blind.
7. The Center has a highly qualified staff, most of whom are blind persons, and adequate equipment to meet the individual and classroom needs of each student. The center houses a complete computer laboratory, where the students can use many different computers; Braille-embossing equipment; and screen-reading hardware and software.
8. Each student at the Louisiana Center for the Blind lives in a local apartment complex, where the student must plan all meals; cook for himself; and do all of his own laundry, cleaning, and shopping. On foot and using a white cane, the students independently travel the approximately one-half mile between the apartment complex and the training center. Generally during the evenings and on weekends the students at the Center are free to participate individually and collectively in community activities and to socialize with other residents in the apartment complex and in the community of Ruston, Louisiana.
9. The Louisiana Center for the Blind maintains and stringently enforces rules prohibiting the use of alcoholic beverages on the premises of the center and in the student apartments. The student use of illegal drugs results in his or her immediate termination from the program.
10. Daily required classes at the Louisiana Center for the Blind are scheduled during the hours of 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon and 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. and include Braille, one hour; Home Economics, two hours; Cane Travel, two hours; Typing, one hour; and Independent Study, two hours. The Independent Study class includes the following optional courses: Abacus, GED Training, Sewing, Computer Literacy, Handwriting, and Talking Calculator. Meeting twice weekly for two hours are classes in Exercise and a Seminar program, in which students discuss and develop a positive philosophy of blindness. A copy of the Louisiana Center for the Blind brochure Training Today ... For A Better Tomorrow! is included as Attachment #1. The Louisiana Center for the Blind General Information and Guidelines, which is distributed to incoming students, is included as Attachment #2.
11. In addition to the formal classes described in Paragraph 10, the Louisiana Center for the Blind regularly plans and carries out Field Trips, which are designed to place the students in a variety of situations which will increase their exposure to and successful participation in a broad range of experiences, many of which the sighted public and the newly blind themselves believe the blind can not accomplish and enjoy.
12. When beneficial to a student, the Louisiana Center for the Blind arranges for on-the-job training to help the blind person enter or re-enter the job market.
13. In the Spring of 1989 Muhammad Karim of California telephoned my office to inquire about entry into the Louisiana Center for the Blind. I subsequently met personally with Mr. Karim and discussed and evaluated his rehabilitation needs.
14. Notwithstanding the fact that Mr. Karim has experienced some rehabilitative training, he lacks the substantive skills in mobility and daily living that are required to function independently as a blind person.
15. The Louisiana Center for the Blind can offer Mr. Karim a full rehabilitative program, including training in mobility with the long white cane and in-depth instruction in word processing and other computer skills.
I, Maria T. Kirchhofer, a Notary Public in and for the State of Louisiana certify that Joanne Fernandes, personally known or satisfactorily proved to me to be the same, personally appeared before me and took oath in due form of law that the statements made in the foregoing affidavit are true and correct this 24th day of February, 1990.
I, Charles Coe, hereby swear and depose:
1. My name is Charles Coe.
2. I reside at 1500 7th Street #9-A, Sacramento, California, 95814.
3. I am legally blind with decreasing residual vision. Since I need and want to learn the alternative techniques necessary to function as an independent blind person, on or about June 26, 1989, I went to the California Orientation Center for the Blind to begin rehabilitation training. I remained at OCB until about July 31.
4. The Orientation Center for the Blind exercises loosely enforced rules concerning the behavior of the students in the dormitory and their attendance and participation in classes.
5. While at OCB, I observed that many students were frequently absent from classes. It appeared that these students slept during the day so that they could carouse around at night.
6. Some students left the premises and returned to the dormitory from evening outings, obviously intoxicated and in a drunken state.
7. Henry Kruse, the instructor of business skills and the abacus, canceled class on several occasions; and other staff members failed to report for classes.
8. The Center has an exercise room with assorted exercise equipment. Misuse of this equipment can cause serious injury to the individual using it. The students at the center did not receive proper training and supervision in its use.
9. The attitude of both the staff and students toward class attendance made continuity within the classroom and group participation among the students impossible.
10. There appeared to be much sexual promiscuity between students in the dormitory. Petting and other sexual familiarities between male and female students were common in public areas of the center.
11. At night, there was much noise and activity in the dormitory. On most nights, even after midnight, there was lots of noise and disruption with boombox radios blaring throughout the building and sleeping room doors opening and closing.
12. On two weekends during my stay at OCB, my wife came to visit me. The behavior of the students was such that I was embarrassed to have my wife on the premises.
13. Because of the lack of continuity in instruction, the poor attendance at classes by both staff and students, and the terrible environment in the dormitory, the California Orientation Center for the Blind did not satisfactorily meet my rehabilitation needs. Therefore, without completing my rehabilitation training, on July 31, 1989, I left OCB to return home.
I, Shirley O'Key, a Notary Public in and for the State of
California certify that Charles Coe, personally known or
satisfactorily proved to me to be the same, personally appeared
before me and took oath
in due form of law that the statements made in the foregoing
affidavit are true and correct this 28th day of February, 1990.
AFFIDAVIT OF ANNETTE COE
I, Annette Coe, hereby swear and depose:
1. My name is Annette Coe.
2. I reside at 1500 7th Street #9-A, Sacramento, California, 95814.
3. I am the wife of Charles Coe, a legally blind man who attended the California Orientation Center for the Blind from about June 26 through July 31, 1989.
4. During the weekend of July 1 and again during the weekend of July 15, I went to the Orientation Center for the Blind to visit my husband, who was residing in the student dormitory.
5. On both occasions, while I was at the dormitory at the Orientation Center, I found the behavior of the students shocking and disgusting.
6. Petting and other sexual familiarities between male and female students could be observed in public areas of the dormitory and around the center.
7. At night the students in the dormitory were rowdy and noisy, and several were apparently drunk.
8. One evening I stepped into the hall from the visitor's room on the second floor which had been assigned to my husband for our use during the weekend and found a door to a neighboring student room standing open. I could see into the room. A woman and two men were on the bed. The trio was obviously engaging in sexual activity with both men fondling the woman.
9. On one occasion I went into the downstairs guest bathroom, where I found pornographic pictures. In this same bathroom there was a bathtub full of water, which apparently had been vacated recently. There was a dildo in the bathroom, and women's undergarments could be seen lying around the room.
I, Shirley O'Key, a Notary Public in and for the State of California certify that Annette Coe, personally known or satisfactorily proved to me to be the same, personally appeared before me and took oath in due form of law that the statements made in the foregoing affidavit are true and correct this 28th day of February, 1990.
There you have a sample of the affidavits submitted by Muhammad Karim supporting his request for rehabilitation at the Louisiana Center for the Blind and illustrating his contention that the California Orientation Center for the Blind does not provide a conducive environment for a young man who needs discipline and a productive lifestyle if he is to master the skills he needs.
In preparing for this appeal, the NFB of California obtained access to reports on the Orientation Center prepared during the summer of 1988 by a private investigation service. An operative, posing as the brother of a blind man who was considering returning to California for rehabilitation, toured the Center, maintained surveillance of the facility for several days at a time during two periods several weeks apart, and struck up a friendship with a student named Ron, who provided him with a student's point of view. The reports are filled with routine information of the kind one would expect to find in any observation of a rehabilitation center. The operative found the facility clean and neat, and he worried about seeing blind students doing the things that most sighted people assume to be beyond the capacity of the blind precisely what one would expect to read as the comments of an uninformed observer. But scattered through the pages of this material are some disturbing comments and some information that provides evidence of the distressing limitations in the rehabilitation offered at the Orientation Center.
One would have thought, for example, that the Director of a rehabilitation facility serving some thirty-six residential students at the time (according to Ron's count) would have found enough work to do to keep him busy at the Center many hours a day. An informal check with the directors of the independent rehabilitation centers for the blind in Minnesota, Colorado, and Louisiana indicated that they spent an average of eleven to twelve hours a day at their centers and additional time working at home or attending meetings. All three laughed at the idea of leaving their desks for lunch, though they all made a point of saying that they would like to have lunch with their students more often than they can make time for. All of them say that they teach classes and are prepared to substitute for other staff members when necessary. In such a setting no student could complete the rehabilitation program without becoming very well acquainted with the director. Contrast these schedules with that of Allen Jenkins as reported by the investigator:
July 1, 1988
Subject: California Orientation Center
for the Blind
400 Adams Street
Director: Allen Jenkins
6/21/88: Surveillance began on the Director, Mr. Jenkins. The operative arrived at his residence at 7:30 a.m. There was no activity noticed until 9:00 a.m. when Jenkins was picked up in a lime green VW, California license 2JBH6O9.... This vehicle drove directly to the Center at 400 Adams, arriving there at 9:1O a.m. Jenkins got out of the vehicle and entered the Center.
At 11:30 a.m. Jenkins left the Center in an orange vehicle with a State exempt plate of 861151. This vehicle is apparently one used by the Center. At 12:45 p.m. Jenkins arrived back at the Center in the orange vehicle. The driver of this vehicle is unknown....
At 2:32 p.m. Jenkins left the Center in the same orange vehicle, this time being driven by a female believed to be his secretary. They went directly to Jenkins's residence. The female stayed in the vehicle, and Jenkins exited and walked to his residence. The operative surveilled the residence until 3:30 p.m. and no further activity was noted. The operative returned to the Center to see if the orange vehicle had returned there, and it was observed parked. Surveillance was terminated at this point.
6/22/88: The operative parked on San Pablo Avenue at the intersection near the entrance to the Center and waited for Jenkins. At 9:05 a.m. the lime green VW was sighted and went to the Center. Jenkins exited the vehicle and went into the office area. This vehicle drove away.... At 11:33 a.m. this vehicle [the orange car] left the Center being driven by what appeared to be the younger female in the second office in the Center. Jenkins was the passenger. They were followed to the area of the Marina where they parked at H's Lordships, a restaurant. They exited and went into the restaurant. The operative stayed in his vehicle and waited.
They apparently had lunch and left the area, returning to the Center at 1:08 p.m....
At 2:48 p.m. the orange car left, but the operative could not see who was in the vehicle. The operative was blocked by traffic and lost sight of the vehicle. The operative went to Jenkins's residence to see if the vehicle was there. On arrival, the operative could not see any sign of the vehicle and could not tell if Jenkins was in the residence. The operative waited for ten minutes to see if the vehicle would arrive and decided to go back to the Center. The orange vehicle was parked. The operative waited at the Center until 4:00 p.m. for movement with none occurring. It was apparent that Jenkins was in this vehicle earlier and had been taken to his residence. The operative telephoned Jenkins's residence and recognized the voice that answered as that of Jenkins. The surveillance was terminated at this point.
6/24/88: The operative arrived at Jenkins's residence at 8:30 a.m. and observed the green VW in front of the house. The operative drove to the area of the Center to wait for the arrival of the VW. At 9:09 a.m. Jenkins arrived in an '81 Plymouth coupe, 1BXXl94.... The operative had noted that this vehicle was one that had been parked in front of Jenkins's residence. Jenkins exited this vehicle and entered the Center....
At 12:11 p.m. the orange vehicle left the Center, driven by the same young secretary as before with Jenkins as a passenger. They were followed to the Marina, and again went into H's Lordships, arriving at 12:20 p.m. They went into the restaurant, and the operative later entered....
At 1:00 p.m. the female and Jenkins left the restaurant.
The operative followed, and they drove to a shopping center down the street from the Center. The female went into Long's Drug Store, and Jenkins remained in the vehicle. In a couple of minutes the female returned to the vehicle and said something to Jenkins. She then returned to the store. She came back to the vehicle a short time later with a medium brown bag. The contents appeared to be thin and rectangular and may have been cigars. At 1:20 p.m. they left the shopping center and drove to the Center.... The operative did not see any activity until 4:00 p.m. when he observed Ron walking down a pathway leading to San Pablo Avenue. This pathway was not being watched by the operative routinely. The operative concluded that Jenkins might have gotten by him without his noticing. The operative telephoned the residence, and the phone was answered by Jenkins. The surveillance was terminated at this point.
SUPPLEMENTAL INVESTIGATION, FRIDAY 8/12/88: Surveillance was established at the Center at 8:15 a.m. At 9:00 a.m. the subject arrived in the green Volkswagen. Jenkins exited this vehicle and went into the Center. At 11:35 a.m. the subject and a male driver (faculty member) left the Center in a yellow station wagon, license number E85O172. They proceeded to H's Lordships and had lunch.... They left the establishment at 12:58 p.m. and returned directly back to the Center.
At 4:15 p.m. the subject left the Center and went directly to his residence.
MONDAY 8/15/88: Surveillance was established at the Center at 8:15 a.m. The subject arrived as a passenger in the lime green Volkswagen, exited, and entered the Center. At 11:38 a.m. the subject left the center in a Honda Accord driven by a young Oriental female, California license 1SNB628. They went to H's Lordships for lunch.... At 12:48 p.m. they left the restaurant and returned directly to the Center. The subject left in the above Honda at 4:20 p.m. and went directly to his residence.
WEDNESDAY 8/24/88: Surveillance was established at the Center at 8:15 a.m. The subject arrived at 9:05 a.m. and went into the Center. He did not leave the Center until 11:48 a.m. He was a passenger in a vehicle driven by a young Oriental female in an Omni with State Exempt plate E861751. This vehicle was followed to the Baltic Restaurant, where these two individuals were observed to have lunch.... They left this restaurant at 1:30 p.m. and drove directly back to the Center, arriving at 1:45 p.m. There was no further activity on the part of the subject until 4:15 p.m. at which time he left the Center and was driven directly to his residence.
There you have the sections of both the original and supplementary reports that allegedly record the comings and goings of Allen Jenkins, and the impression they create is not comforting. To be sure, most of us would enjoy a job which provided a hefty paycheck, a nine-to-four day, an hour or more for lunch, and chauffeur service; but if blind adults are going to be offered the quality rehabilitation they need in order to take their rightful places in their communities, they need the support and guidance of professionals with more commitment than Mr. Jenkins's reported schedule demonstrates.
The investigator's report disclosed several other interesting and significant pieces of information and impressions from the student point of view. What follows is a series of passages from the report. Each provides a glimpse of life at the Orientation Center. As you read, compare the picture that emerges with that drawn by Mrs. Fernandes of the Louisiana Center for the Blind in her affidavit, and decide which facility you would prefer to entrust yourself to.
In June of 1988 the operative had an interview with Al Gil to discuss the possibility of his brother's coming to the Center. He asked for a tour after the interview but was told that it could not be arranged on such short notice. Another date was set for it, and on that morning a student named Ron was assigned as his guide. Ron showed the entire facility to the private detective and talked freely about the Center and the students and staff. Subsequently, the two had several other conversations, and the operative eventually told Ron that he was a detective engaged in an investigation of the Center. Here are excerpts from the report that are indicative of the more custodial facets of the program and that reflect student perceptions of the facility:
July 1, 1988
Subject: California Orientation Center
for the Blind
400 Adams Street
Director: Allen Jenkins
On 6/15/88 the operative went to the above location. Observation of the exterior of the grounds was that it was clean in appearance, and the grounds were maintained efficiently.... Adjacent to this room was the laundry room containing two washers and two dryers. This room also had glass windows to clearly see into. On the floor and on the washer and table were various pieces of clothing that someone had apparently overlooked when using the facilities. Ron advised the operative that this was where the laundry was done and the students had the option of using it on their own or having someone else do their laundry for them.
Next Ron took the operative to what was referred to as the personal care classroom. On the way there a black female seemed to be confused. She was saying some things out loud that were not discernible. As they were approaching her, she explained she was lost and wanted to go to her room. She had forgotten something for her class and did not want to be there anymore. Ron asked if he could help, and she said all she wanted was to get to her room. Ron directed her to the interior courtyard and sent her on her way. Ron and the operative then entered the personal care classroom. It resembled a small house with each section teaching students to adjust to normal home living. They walked in, and the operative noticed that the bottom metal door of a metal file cabinet was off and lying in a narrow hallway, easy for one of the students to trip on.... As Ron and the operative walked back into the first room, the teacher noticed the metal door on the floor and stated, Darn thing is broken again. She began to explain how she taught the students. (She did lean the door against the cabinet, out of the way.)....
Ron and the operative then went to the cafeteria. Everything here appeared clean and orderly. Ron stated that breakfast was served from 7:30 a.m. to 8:00 a.m., lunch from 11:30 a.m. to 12:00 noon, and dinner from 5:30 p.m. to 6:00 p.m....
Ron said they get clean towels twice a week and bedding once a week. Each student has the option to just pick them up or do their own in the laundry room. Ron and the operative went downstairs, and Ron gave the operative his home telephone number in case the operative wanted to call him about anything. During their discussion, Ron told the operative that occasionally there was alcohol in the dorm. It is not allowed, but it still happens, and sometimes they have little parties.... The operative arranged a meeting with Ron under the pretense that he wanted to take him out for some dinner and a few drinks. Ron appeared very elated at this and agreed to do so.
The operative arrived at the Center at 3:40 p.m., and Ron was waiting outside. They went to H's Lordships, where Ron related the following information during the course of the evening:
- There are approximately 36 students living at the Center now. This number varies. The breakdown of males vs. females was unknown.
- He stated there were times when the men and women at the Center would get together and have sexual intercourse in their rooms. The counselors are not supposed to allow this, but in most cases they look the other way. He stated that if they do get caught, nothing is done. He iterated that they are all adults; they can basically do what they want in this regard. He did not feel that this was a problem area, and no one that he knows of sneaks anyone in for the purpose of having sex. There are times when two people get lonely and want the sexual company of another of the opposite sex.
- There is no curfew for the students, and they can come and go as they please. There is no direct supervision of their habits while at the dorm.
- There are alcohol and drugs in the dorm. He knows of people doing drugs there those drugs being basically marijuana and cocaine.
It is not allowed by staff. However, it is still done and is difficult, but not impossible, for the staff to prevent. There is no drug dealing going on, and what is used is for personal consumption and is brought in by the students. At times friends of the students will bring alcohol or drugs in for them, but this is not rampant. He has no knowledge of any staff members being involved in the use or supply of drugs or alcohol.
- Sometimes the students get together and have parties where drugs and alcohol are present, but this is seldom. He felt that staff knew these parties were going on, but they did not say anything. Usually, in occurrences such as these, the staff looks the other way.
- Ron likes the Center and feels most of the students do also. He feels it has helped him very much. He stated you could get out of it what you want to put in. Some of the students do not really try that hard, and therefore they do not get that much out.
- Ron stated that it was hard to get into the Center, but that, if you knew someone it would be easy. He stated that Mr. Jenkins, Mr. Gil, and the head counselor had the power to get in whomever they wish.
- Ron stated he did not know much about Mr. Jenkins. He said that Jenkins did not interact with the students much, but Mr. Gil did. He has only spoken with Mr. Jenkins twice since he has been there (December, 1987, to August, 1988). Normally, Jenkins does not mix with the students. His knowledge of Jenkins is limited, but he thinks Jenkins is quiet and has been there since the Center was opened.
- Ron stated that everyone at the Center knew the operative was coming to visit the Center. The people at the Center always seem to know when there is going to be an inspection or a visit from someone. It is common knowledge that, when there is an inspection or a visitor, everyone is to be on their best behavior and that things are to be cleaned up more than usual. He stated that someone at the Center knows someone in the system who tells them when there is going to be an inspection by the State.
- Ron does not know the comings and goings of the staff. They all seem to be doing a good job, and he has had no problems. He has not heard any of the students having any problems with any of the staff. Sometimes they grumble, but this is usually in general and nothing in particular.
- Ron stated that he has not had to pay extra for anything at the Center. Everything he needs is provided for him. The gist of this conversation was there does not appear to be any internal graft occurring....
- As far as he knew, the Center is kept clean. There have not been any accidents due to neglect that he knew of. Most of the time safety seems to be of importance with the teachers.... When this meeting was over, the operative felt that Ron was being very candid and that he could approach Ron again if necessary and that Ron would be truthful with him....
END OF REPORT
Charles Del Biaggio, Owner/Manager
The following is an account of what Ron stated about the Center in a later interview: Ron was advised that the operative was actually investigating the Center and ascertaining whether or not there were any improprieties in the administration of it. Ron was asked if he knew anything about Jenkins's comings and goings. He stated he really did not know that much about Jenkins other than he wasn't there much. When asked how he knew that, he said he could smell his cigar when he was there.
Ron said that Jenkins had met a lady (he wouldn't say who) in Hawaii in November or December of 1987 while he was on a trip. All he knew was that this lady stayed with Jenkins at his house for December of 1987 and January of 1988. She then was enrolled in the school and is presently still attending. As far as he knew, there was nothing occurring between Jenkins and this lady that was romantic in nature. It seemed odd that this occurred, however.
Ron felt that the members of the staff at the Center were too loose with the students and there is not much discipline. He said the students run the school more so than the staff. The students come and go as they please and often do not attend classes. This practice prolongs their stay, and the State pays $1700.00 per month for each student. He stated he did not feel it was fair for this to be allowed.
As far as alcohol and drug usage are concerned on the property, Ron stated that there is no control over this. The students come and go as they please, and there is quite a bit of alcohol usage that he knows of. The counselors just look the other way in this regard. As for drugs, Ron stated he did not know of any of late. There was a past student that was heavily involved in them named Michael. Ron did not know how the drugs got in but assumed that Michael just brought them in when he wanted. These drugs included marijuana and cocaine. There was some other usage of these drugs by other students, but he did not feel that it was prevalent.
Ron told the operative of a fight that he got into the other day at the Center. He said the student who struck him was sighted. He stated that the counselor on duty had just left the room when it happened. The Albany police were called, and the other student requested the State Police be called also. The other student was expelled until Ron left school, which is August 29.
Ron knew of one other fight that occurred on the grounds since he had been there, but he could not remember when this was or what it was about. He knew of no physical abuse by any counselor but did say a female counselor in her middle 40's was having sex with a student. He would not say who this counselor was or who the student was, but the counselor works from 7:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. She was employed previously at the Center and fired for some type of sexual problem. He did not know why she was hired back but stated this was a typical example of how the school was run, too loose.
Ron felt that if the State ever investigated the administration of the school, they would probably close it up. Ron stated he asked the abacus teacher for an extra hour of class one day and was refused. He stated that if the school was closed, it would be because of the teachers. Most of them are good, but they are not dedicated to their profession. Basically they are good teachers, but they do not teach. Ron's feelings were that there was dead wood that needed to be cleaned out at the school. He stated after 20 or 30 years things fall apart. There is a new person at the Center on the staff named Carl Green who seems to bring new blood. He is a sighted man.
People staying there for a full year aren't applying themselves, and they are not supported by the staff. There is a student there now that misses two to three classes a day. Only 5 or 6 classes are required. The students there think that the Center is a Club Med and do what they want. He referred to a lady that was leaving the Center; but, before she did, she took two weeks off to go to Hawaii. She then came back and checked out. He could not understand this because there is supposedly a waiting list to get in. The State was paying for two weeks of her enrollment at the school while she was in Hawaii. Ron talked some more about his altercation at the Center with the other student. He said that the other student struck him first and Ron struck back. The State Police were called. Both men pressed charges against each other, but nothing happened. Ron was expelled for one week, returning on the 17th, and the other student was expelled until Ron leaves this Monday.
Ron feels that the students that are allowed to come to the Center need to be screened better. Mr. Gil is the one with the final decision as to who is allowed to enroll. He is a nice guy, but in business one cannot always be a nice guy. A few people presently at the Center only need mobility since they already know everything else.
Too many people there want to party. He was asked if it would be possible for the operative to bring a six-pack of beer into the dorm. He said it would be easy because most of the counselors are blind and they would not know.
He said that the students are over 21 and will go to local pubs to buy six-packs of beer and take it back to the school. He said this is not allowed because the Center is state property, but it happens all of the time. He said he did not feel it was that much of a problem. He said again that student attendance in classes was more of a problem.
Ron was asked if he would be willing to talk with someone else regarding the Center, and he said he would. He stated he could not give much of an opinion of Mr. Jenkins since he has only met him twice....
Ron stated that, as far as he knew, the Albany police have been called to the Center for various troubles three or four times since he has been there.
Finally, Ron stated his concerns are about the teachers going on vacation without having replacements. During that period of time, no one goes to those classes. Some of the vacations of the various teachers overlap, and there are times when there are two or three classes canceled daily because of vacations. This allows the students a lot of free time, and with so much time on their hands, they think of things to do that are not always productive.
There you have a small part of the documentation presented by Muhammad Karim and the National Federation of the Blind of California at the March 2, 1990, appeal hearing. The panel had sixty days in which to make its decision. The state notified Muhammad of the decision in early May. The proposed document, which was sent to the Director of the Department of Rehabilitation, bears the date of April 26. To no one's surprise, the Appeals Board upheld the earlier decision to deny Muhammad Karim's request for out-of-state training on the grounds that, among other things, The OCB is a suitable facility; it is provided by the State of California, and attendance at OCB would not impose undue hardship upon the appellant. The Board did encourage the Department to look into the allegations made in the previously mentioned documents.
At this writing it is not clear what the next step will be. An appeal in the California court system is a possibility, though the investment in time and money would be sizable. In recent months we have been reminded painfully of the scandalous treatment that California vendors have received at the hands of the Department of Rehabilitation. (See the January and June, 1990, issues of the Braille Monitor.) Now the state's finest rehabilitation facility has been charged with being a place in which neither students nor staff care particularly about attending classes; and alcohol, drugs, and sex seem to be the order of the day and of the night as well. Very few states in the country offer excellent or even good rehabilitation training, but one can hope that most blind students don't have to put up with the complications to life and concentration faced by those who are required to attend the California Orientation Center for the Blind.
FROM THE DEPARTMENT OF LOOSE ENDS:
BLIND VETERANS CASE RESOLVED
by Barbara Pierce
In the February, 1989, issue of the Braille Monitor we published a story entitled "Civil War or Backyard Skirmish? Blinded Vets Take to the Fox Holes." It reported on an ongoing struggle between the Blinded Veterans Association (BVA) and the Blinded American Veterans Foundation (BAVF). The latter group was created in 1985 by several disenchanted members of the forty-five-year-old Blinded Veterans Association. The Blinded Veterans Association said that the names of the two groups were similar enough to cause confusion to would-be contributors, so the BVA sought and obtained a federal court injunction in 1987 preventing the Blinded American Veterans Foundation from using that name or the words Blinded, Blind, or Veterans in combination. The Foundation immediately appealed this ruling, and the case was heard on February 6, 1989.
There the situation stood at the time of the February, 1989, article; and in the press of other business, we have neglected to report the final resolution of this dispute. In April, 1989, a three-judge panel in the U.S. Court of Appeals ruled against the Blinded Veterans Association, finding that Blinded Veterans is a generic term and that BVA's name and logo are not entitled to trademark protection. It sent the case back to the District Court for further consideration, and in late July the parties reached settlement in which the Blinded American Veterans Foundation agrees to display a disclaimer on all its literature saying that it is not affiliated with the Blinded Veterans Association a gesture it had been prepared to make from the beginning of the dispute, according to its press release and in return the BVA would drop its lawsuit. Subsequently the suit was dismissed with prejudice by the court, which means that neither side can raise the matter again.
When reached for comment, Ron Miller, Executive Director of the Blinded Veterans Association, said that his membership was disappointed at the court ruling. He said that despite the disclaimer on BAVF literature, potential contributors are still confused and are making contributions intended for the BVA to the BAVF. But the court has now spoken, and both sides are moving ahead with plans for the future.
REPORT FROM SOUTH CAROLINA
From the Editor: I first met Don Capps in the mid-fifties when I went to South Carolina to help put together the NFB affiliate. At that time he was head of the Columbia Chapter and one of the principal leaders in the state. As I remember it, there was a chapter in Spartanburg, another in Columbia, and a third one in Charleston. Don's first national convention was San Francisco in 1956, and he hasn't missed one since. Today the Federation in South Carolina is far different from what it was thirty-five years ago, but Don and Betty Capps are still in the leadership. In fact, the reason for this difference is primarily the team of Capps and Capps. Yes, there are other leaders in the state (many of them more than in most states), but that does not diminish the stature of Don and Betty. Quite the contrary.
All of this was brought to mind by recent developments in and out of South Carolina. As Federationists know, the New Jersey affiliate has been struggling for a long time to find itself, often being on the verge of destruction. On the Memorial Day weekend Don and Betty went to New Jersey to revitalize the organization and prepare for the state convention a week later. Their success was outstanding a new president (Dorothy Cafone), new board members, a substantive agenda at a well-attended convention, and the best prospects for stability and long-term growth we have had in New Jersey for many a year. How did it happen? How did one couple put together a successful convention and revitalize an affiliate in less than one week?
The answer can be found in two recent issues of Positive Notes , a weekly publication which Don sends to the chapter presidents and other leaders in South Carolina. He first started publishing Positive Notes in 1986, and he hasn't missed a week since. As you read, consider the amount of effort expended over a two-week period by the team of Capps and Capps. It goes a long way toward explaining the power and prestige of the National Federation of the Blind of South Carolina. Of course, quality of work counts as much as quantity, but without quantity quality won't matter. Here are excerpts from two issues of Positive Notes , along with a tribute to the President and First Lady of the National Federation of the Blind of South Carolina:
Positive Note Number 196
May 17, 1990
Another busy week Last Thursday night (May 10, 1990) the head of the South Carolina Commission for the Blind addressed the Columbia Chapter. One hundred and thirty-one persons attended the meeting, the largest turnout for the chapter in my memory.
Last Friday night we visited with the Aiken Chapter and discussed their transportation needs since we are trying to help them. This past Monday morning Commissioner Gist and I went to Union to attend a meeting. Our Union Chapter officers, Linda Scales and Jeff and Eve Scales, had arranged a meeting with several city, county, state, and federal officials. These officials included a legislator, the mayor, county commissioner, and the legislative aide to Congresswoman Liz Patterson. The needs of Union County's blind citizens were discussed, including awareness, education, transportation, and employment. It was the first trip of this nature that I have made with the Commissioner of the Commission for the Blind in the twenty-four-year history of the agency, and that should tell you something.
Monday night we traveled to Florence to meet with our chapter there and with Telephone Pioneers who sponsored a banquet. It was a wonderful occasion. The Florence Chapter is renting a van for its members to attend the National Federation of the Blind convention in Dallas. Tuesday night we were again on the road, traveling to visit with and speak to the Oconee County Chapter. As recently reported, this chapter has a traveling trailer canteen. In its first outing it earned $300. This chapter was on the ropes three years ago but was reorganized at that time and now has about thirty active members. It has more than $2,000 in its treasury and is giving a scholarship at the state convention for at least $500. Isn't that something? Its member, Mrs. Marie Yelajian, celebrated her ninety-fourth birthday at the chapter meeting. She is a special lady, and I recall visiting with and recruiting her for the chapter in April, 1987.
After attending this meeting we made the thirty-five-mile trip to Rocky Bottom to spend the night. We were greeted by the Bells, who were there looking after camp matters. The old dining hall is now coming down, making way for the new Morris facility. Tonight (Thursday, May 17) the Federation Center is having a fund raiser in the form of a covered dish supper provided by the membership, who also pay $5 per plate. The Center works hard to meet its budget. While we are glad a number of you have responded with your $28 deposit on the motels where we will be spending the night to and from Dallas, we do need to hear from many others.
Positive Note Number 197
May 24, 1990
Today (Thursday, May 24, 1990) the National Federation of the Blind of South Carolina is a bigger, better, and stronger organization than it was a week ago when I dictated the weekly positive note. This is because on Saturday evening, May 19, the Greater Summerville Chapter of the NFB of South Carolina was established. Thus, the Greater Summerville Chapter becomes the thirty-first chapter, representing continuing phenomenal growth of the NFB of South Carolina. With the formation of the Greater Summerville Chapter, our national organization is also now bigger, better, and stronger since the addition of each and every chapter across the nation strengthens the organized blind movement. On January 19 Betty and I traveled to the Summerville area to make a preliminary evaluation of the prospects of organizing a chapter. Exactly four months later the Greater Summerville Chapter became a reality. However, the organizing of chapters requires ongoing planning since names of prospective members in a given area are carefully secured from a variety of sources. I found the blind of the Greater Summerville area to be very receptive to the Federation. It seemed that they were just waiting for someone with an attractive program and with enough energy to establish a local organization in the area. The NFB of South Carolina has those programs and needed energy to attract new chapters.
Twenty-six persons assembled at a downtown Summerville restaurant Saturday evening, May 19, for a dinner meeting, and some two hours later the blind enthusiastically joined the Federation and now had their own local organization. This was the culmination of our calling on the blind of the area for two days, May 18 and 19. I believe the NFB of South Carolina probably has more chapters than any other state affiliate of the national organization, but whether it does or not, more chapters are planned for the future as continuing growth is assured. The new chapter has excellent officers, who are as follows: President, Mrs. Lorraine McDonald; Vice President, Mrs. Freda Hucks; Secretary, Shirley Council; Treasurer, Mrs. Wanda Korpanty; and Social Director, Mr. Clement Singleton. The new chapter immediately adopted a project of selling NFB of South Carolina World's Finest Chocolates to begin earning funds for its treasury. The chapter will expand since there are a number of prospective members who expressed the desire to be a part of the organization but were prevented from attending the organizing dinner. Congratulations to our new Greater Summerville Chapter, and welcome into the ever growing NFB of South Carolina family.
Tuesday night I spoke to the Greenville Chapter, which is also growing. Patricia Tuck is the newly elected president of that chapter, succeeding Mrs. Rosa Robinson, who did an outstanding job during her presidency. Final thought: There are three kinds of friends. One wants you to do something for him. Another does nothing especially for you and expects nothing in return. The third always seeks nice things to do for you, expecting nothing in return.
OPEN MEETINGS AT
FLORIDA SERVICES FOR THE BLIND, NAC STYLE
Most people know that fairness and the appearance of fairness are two different things. This principle is so thoroughly established that the Code of Ethics for lawyers discusses both. Those who practice law are required not only to be fair but to avoid the appearance of unfairness.
The Division of Blind Services (DBS) of the Florida Department of Education has been accredited by the National Accreditation Council for Agencies Serving the Blind and Visually Handicapped (NAC). NAC accreditation was once touted as an indicator of quality services.
However, rather than providing a kind of Good Housekeeping Seal, association with NAC has come to be recognized as a badge of another sort. Of course, not everyone who has ever associated with NAC has been tarnished by its heavy-handed procedures and irrelevant standards, but most have. Consequently, the current set of revelations from the Florida Division of Blind Services is not particularly astonishing. After all, this agency is NAC-accredited what would be more consonant with NAC behavior than shaky ethics and shady practice?
The Division of Blind Services is preparing a report for the legislature. Part of the process requires the agency to seek input from the clients or potential clients, those who have a right to be served by the agency. Consequently, public meetings must be held, in which the views of the blind can be gathered. It seems obvious that organizations of the blind should be included in such a process, and of course, the general public should also be informed so that concerned individuals can participate. This would be the fair way to handle the matter.
Carl McCoy has recently become the agency's director. His long association with NAC is painfully obvious in the way he has handled the public hearings regarding the agency's performance. DBS prepared and distributed a television spot for broadcast.
However, the stations were told to hold the announcement until the day of the meeting. Thus, agency administrators could claim that the public had been invited to participate without their having to deal with any unexpected opinions. They could trot out the television spot to demonstrate that public notice had been given, even though there was no opportunity for the public to come. Shady? Underhanded? Read the correspondence, and examine the behavior of the agency for yourself. Our forceful president in Florida, Marilyn Womble, has taken the agency to task. Is it any wonder that the Florida Division of Blind Services is critical of the National Federation of the Blind? Is it a surprise that agency officials don't want to hear comments from consumer representatives whom they have not hand-picked? Here is the correspondence disclosing the facts:
April 12, 1990
The Honorable Robert Crawford
Dear President Crawford:
As President of the National Federation of the Blind of Florida, I am writing to you to bring to your attention certain facts surrounding the formulation of a report being delivered to you by the Department of Education, Division of Blind Services. The Division of Blind Services (DBS) held meetings around the state for the purpose of seeking input from the blind regarding needs in the area of blind services. Ostensibly, these meetings were held in regional areas, consisting of several adjacent counties, and were open to all blind residents.
One of these meetings was scheduled for Gainesville, Florida, in November, 1989. I was contacted by an employee of a Gainesville television station who was concerned about the unusual manner in which the meeting was advertised. As you can see from the enclosed copy of the public service announcement sent to the station by DBS, although the text invites all blind residents to attend, the instructions to the station clearly restrict the airing of the announcement to the day of the meeting. Concerned that it must be a mistake, the employee called DBS and was advised that it was no mistake. He was told that airing it earlier might cause too many to attend and that DBS had already invited specific participants and didn't want additional blind persons.
I wrote to Education Commissioner Castor to seek explanation and remedial action since this limitation clearly violated the Sunshine Law and amounted to a fraud's being perpetrated on the Florida Legislature. See enclosed copy of letter by Betty Castor. Mr. Carl McCoy, Director of the Division of Blind Services, answered my letter to Commissioner Castor. As you can see from the enclosed copy, he confirms the method used in contriving the public forum.
I have recently been informed by Mr. Whit Springfield, Assistant Director of the Division of Blind Services, that DBS has concluded its regional meetings and will shortly be providing its findings and recommendations, based on the public forums, to the legislature.
Obviously, any findings or recommendations resulting from these sham public forums are useless since the constituency was hand- picked and the general public was systematically excluded. It appears DBS believes the best way to avoid dissent is not to invite those who may disagree. This may make for smooth and easy meetings, but it rarely produces an accurate picture.
I don't understand the attitude of DBS in structuring these fraudulent meetings, and I don't understand why Commissioner Castor continually referred my criticisms of DBS to that agency's Director. I urge you to take steps to ensure that DBS's contrived report is not given credence in the Legislature.
Marilyn Womble, President
National Federation of the Blind
cc: Marc Maurer, President, NFB
All Florida Senators
That was the cover letter Marilyn Womble sent to Florida state senators. Here is the DBS District Manager's memo to television stations and the spot announcement:
November 2, 1989
ATTN.: Station Manager
WCJB - TV 20
RE: Public Service Announcement
Dear Station Manager:
Please broadcast the attached article as a Public Service Announcement on Channel 20. It is specifically requested that the article be aired only on the following date:
THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 30, 1989
Your assistance is appreciated for ensuring that article will be broadcasted on date indicated; please do not broadcast on any other date. Feel free to call upon me should questions or concerns arise relative to this matter.
Henry J. Scott
Division of Blind Services
Public Service Announcement
for Broadcast on
THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 30, 1989
Division of Blind Services Forum
Florida Division of Blind Services will host a Needs Assessment Forum at the Gainesville Hilton Hotel on November 30, 1989. Blind and visually impaired residents from Alachua, Marion, Levy, and Columbia counties will be given opportunity to express opinions on issues which directly affect them in their daily lives. Information gathered will be utilized by Blind Services in planning services to address unmet needs of the visually impaired. Division of Blind Services Director, Carl McCoy, will deliver opening and closing remarks.
(Please do not broadcast any other date except on November 30, 1989.)
Henry J. Scott, District Manager
Division of Blind Services
There you have the text of the public service announcement and the explicit directions for airing it. Now read Carl McCoy's lame justification for stacking the deck in the agency's favor. Anyone who has ever planned public meetings knows that there is always a good chance that people will not attend unless they are very happy about a program that they fear is about to be ended or very unhappy about conditions as they are. Planners who are sincere about hearing from their constituencies make every effort to spread the word of the meeting as broadly as possible and encourage everyone to come. Then, if they are still concerned that not enough people will make the effort, they specifically invite people from the groups they suspect will be under- represented. That is the fair way to invite open feedback. Here is Carl McCoy's explanation of the DBS method of listening to consumers:
November 29, 1989
Marilyn Womble, President
National Federation of the Blind of Florida
Dear Ms. Womble:
Commissioner Castor's office has requested that we respond directly to you regarding your letter to her dated November 16, 1989. We appreciate your concern, and we are aware there has been some misunderstanding regarding this process, particularly in Gainesville.
We have, for many years, conducted public forums in order to receive input from consumers. However, we have been somewhat disappointed with this process because of its lack of structure and failure to attract a wide range of consumers with different priorities. Therefore, we elected to pilot a new approach to needs assessment.
The Focus Group concept is a structured format allowing consumers and other individuals impacted by our program an opportunity to express needs and problem areas of service delivery. The process calls for a group facilitator and group recorder, and ideal group sizes are around 15 individuals. In order to effectively organize and plan Focus Group sessions, a certain amount of assurance must be obtained that participants will be on hand. In addition we wanted to insure that parents and children had input, working age individuals had input, and non-working individuals had input. Therefore, we have arranged a format that allows a minimum of three groups of 15 people with similar needs and concerns.
Given these circumstances, known consumers in the community have been contacted and specifically asked to attend, but no one has been turned away from a meeting or refused participation in the process. Please be aware that this is a pilot process for the Division, and we are anxious to see how it will work. To date, we have conducted two (2) focus group sessions. Two more will be conducted in the near future. At that time we will review the process and make any changes necessary to insure full participation from all interested parties. Following completion of Focus Group sessions in all twelve districts, we would expect to have had direct quality contact with over 600 consumers throughout the state. In addition we are prepared to make telephone and mail surveys to add dimension to the needs survey.
As the leader of a statewide organization of blind people, we will certainly solicit your participation in the Focus Group process which is scheduled in Tampa between January and March, 1990.
Please contact me if you have any further concerns or questions regarding this new process. Thank you.Sincerely,
That is the letter Carl McCoy wrote to Marilyn Womble. True to his word, garbled though his promise was by a misplaced modifier, McCoy did see that Mrs. Womble was invited to the Tampa, Florida, meeting. Ted Hull, Manager of DBS's Tampa office, issued the invitation with the admonition that she could speak only about the problems that she herself had had with the Department for Blind Services. Mrs. Womble pointed out that she is not a client of the agency but that she speaks with hundreds of blind people every year who are. That made no difference; if she had no personal problems to discuss, she must remain silent.
The region served by the Tampa office covers seven counties, and it has 1,200 blind people on its rolls. Only 900 of these received written invitations to the meeting, according to Ted Hull. When Mrs. Womble inquired about why the other 300 had been overlooked and who they were, Hull admitted that he didn't know and that he would look into the matter. Mrs. Womble could see no reason to waste time attending a meeting at which she could not speak, so she did not go.
Now the much ballyhooed report is out, and one can only hope that members of the Florida Legislature will not depend heavily on it in making their decisions. The Department worked hard to ensure that its most astute and informed critics had no voice in the compilation of the report. We can only hope that the Legislature will notice the injustice and demand to hear both sides before making judgments about the Department's future.
FEDERATIONIST NAMED TRUSTEE OF
FLORIDA SCHOOL FOR DEAF AND BLIND
From the Associate Editor: Melody Lindsey is a past National Federation of the Blind scholarship winner. She has just been graduated from Stetson University and is a leader in both the Florida affiliate of the NFB and the national Student Division. The Spring edition of the Blind Floridian, the newsletter of the National Federation of the Blind of Florida, reprinted a story about Melody Lindsey first published in the Florida Baptist Witness.
Monitor readers will remember that the Florida School for the Deaf and Blind has achieved national notoriety in recent years because of profound problems in safely caring for the institution's residential students. (See the March, 1989, issue of the Braille Monitor.) Changes are being made, however, and the appointment of an energetic, bright blind consumer representative to the Board of Trustees is in itself a positive step. This is the way the Florida Baptist Witness reported the story:
Melody Lindsey, a 21 year-old Stetson University senior from Stuart, Florida, has accepted an appointment from Governor Bob Martinez to serve a four-year term as a trustee of the Florida School for the Deaf and Blind in St. Augustine.
Melody, who is a member of Tropical Farms Church in Stuart, will graduate in May with a bachelor's degree in English. The four-year commitment doesn't worry this young woman, who is possibly the youngest person ever appointed to the board. She says she has wanted to do something like this for a long time. Melody is blind. In her application to Governor Martinez, she pointed out that only one of the seven trustees is blind, an unequal representation, she believes. The school's charter states that one of the trustees must be visually impaired and one must be hearing impaired.
Founded in 1885, The Florida School for the Deaf and Blind is a state-supported residential school for the visually and hearing impaired. The school, which is tuition-free for Florida residents, currently has 450 students. The eldest of five girls, Melody has been a champion of the blind in Florida. Unlike many college students, her extra-curricular activities do not include a long list of campus organizations. She is a member of a sorority and the law fraternity, but the largest slice of her time, other than for her studies, has been dedicated to helping the blind.
She is a member of the National Federation of the Blind and Second Vice President of the organization's Florida affiliate. She is President of the Florida Association of Blind Students. It was at a recent State Convention meeting of the National Federation of the Blind of Florida, in Miami, that she learned of the open trustee position at the Florida School for the Deaf and Blind. She was interested, and several of her friends encouraged her to apply. I didn't tell my parents at first, because I wasn't sure I would get it, she recalled. As it became certain that I was a contender, I told them. My parents, as always, were very supportive. They were one of the first ones I called when I received word. They are so excited almost as much as I am!
Education is very important to Melody, who views life as a learning process. When looking at colleges or universities to attend, her choices were Florida State University, Duke University, or Stetson. All three schools were equal, as far as I was concerned, on the academic level, she said. When I visited Stetson, I found the atmosphere to be more personal...and the climate was better. I think through college I've learned a lot, she said. I've grown a lot spiritually. I've also encountered a lot more tests...to my Christianity.
Those tests have been part of the learning process, she said. I think overall it's helped me to grow, to become stronger...just in knowing what I believe in and who I am. At Stetson, Melody found there were few obstacles for the blind. It is easy for her to get around in her residence hall. When she had made her decision to attend Stetson, Melody came a week early to learn the campus and where her classes would be. She does it all herself. Though her path around campus and through life may be a little more perilous than others, Melody said her faith hasn't been tested any more than anyone else's.
I've had my share of tough times but no more than anyone else. Melody started school at 4. I guess they thought I'd have an advantage by beginning sooner, and they sent me to Hobe Sound Bible Academy, Melody said. School is all I've ever known. In addition to her work with the organizations of the blind, Melody has another interest, sort of a hobby, as she puts it. I enjoy local, state, and national politics, she said. I grew up in a political family, and I want to remain involved.
The daughter of Barbara and Richard Lindsey of Stuart, Melody says her parents have run for public office. Her mother was a state leader of the Republican Party. It was fun just being involved in a campaign, Melody said. My parents have worked in several political campaigns. It becomes a family project. Melody said she is planning to travel for a year after graduation and then apply to law school or maybe a graduate program in special education.
A HANDBOOK FOR ITINERANT AND RESOURCE TEACHERS
OF BLIND AND VISUALLY IMPAIRED STUDENTS
From the Associate Editor: From time to time this year you have read in these pages references to a new publication: A Handbook for Itinerant and Resource Teachers of Blind and Visually Impaired Students by Doris Willoughby and Sharon Duffy. The first copies arrived at the National Center for the Blind in January, 1990, and I was among the earliest to put down my $20 to purchase a copy. For the past five months it has been my consolation. Whenever I get depressed and angry about the injustice and discrimination still faced by blind people, I read another chapter or two of this book. In my position as Associate Editor of the Braille Monitor I hear a good number of the horror stories, and I write about many of them. But this book restores my faith that things can change that out there a few wise and dedicated teachers are doing a good job of giving blind youngsters the tools they need. At last we have a text to recommend to college and graduate students in special education who really want to learn to do things right. Here is a reference guide for parents who know that they don't know what is best for their children and recognize that they must become knowledgeable if their youngsters are to reach their full potential. Now the teachers who are looking for more good ideas or who know that they are floundering in waters too deep for them have a desktop manual bursting with suggestions and information.
It is our job to see that all these people learn about this book. That means talking with acquisitions librarians at university, college, and public libraries. School administrators should learn about it, and university instructors and students should hear the word from enthusiastic blind people and parents of blind children. The solution in most cases is not to purchase books and present them to libraries, university programs, and teachers. Most of us do not appreciate what we have not sacrificed, at least a little, to obtain. The book will be taken more seriously if we enable it to sell itself. I have handed my copy of the book to potential purchasers for examination. I have also photocopied the dust jacket reviews and the table of contents to send to people at some distance. Lorraine Rovig, a librarian by training, has written a brief review aimed at the professional audience. Print copies of it are available from the Materials Center at the National Center for the Blind. It is an excellent way of getting a short description of the text into the hands of those who should know about it.
For the sake of blind children today and tomorrow, we must spread the good news about this wonderful book. Here is Lorraine Rovig's review:
Handbook for Itinerant and Resource Teachers of Blind and Visually Impaired Students by Doris M. Willoughby and Sharon L. M. Duffy, NFB, Copyright, 1989, 533 pages.
* Illustrated, black & white photos, bibliography, appendices.
* ISBN 0-9624122-0-1 371.91'1 HV1631.W54 1989
* Softcover: $20.00 plus $3 shipping and handling from NFB. (Checks, money orders, credit cards, purchase orders from agencies; no C.O.D.)
Blind or visually impaired students are such a small part of the school-age complement of any school district that few classroom teachers, school administrators, or other school personnel have had any experience with them. Teachers who have gone through specialized courses at universities to obtain their state's VI Certification find that in the real world of working day by day with visually handicapped children, their college classes only began the training. The teachers, the parents of these handicapped children, and the children themselves must often reinvent the wheel for lack of information on how other such children succeed in the multitudinous tasks involved in a modern education. This Handbook by teachers Willoughby and Duffy provides help that has long been needed in an easily read format.
Both authors have many years of experience and complementary backgrounds for the task of compiling the largest, most practical handbook yet written on the subject. Doris M. Willoughby taught for eleven years in a regular second grade in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, before becoming certified to teach blind and visually impaired children. She then taught in this specialized field for three years as a resource room teacher, followed by fourteen years as an itinerant teacher, a profession in which she continues.
Sharon L. M. Duffy has been blind all her life. Having attended both a residential school for the blind and a public school, she brings personal knowledge of the point of view of a blind student to her professional qualifications. Miss Duffy has taught Braille and cane travel for many years, as well as other independent living skills, in Iowa, Idaho, Chicago, and now, New Mexico. Miss Duffy has helped blind children and adults learn how to cope with every type of travel problem from getting around the back 40 cornfield to riding the downtown subway. Her clear directions on successful methods of teaching cane travel to children from preschool age on up are accompanied by black and white photographs, a sequential list of skills, a most intriguing list of things not to do, and many, many suggestions for providing variety while building in success in a series of travel lessons.
The Handbook concentrates on teaching Braille from page 95 to page 140. These 45 pages are a must-read for teachers and parents. Willoughby and Duffy are outspokenly pro-Braille. Why to teach Braille, when to teach, how to teach, what to do when the student is having problems, or when the teacher is stumped all are covered. Additional ideas for incorporating Braille in the curriculum are found throughout the Handbook. All the topics one would expect in a book with this title are covered. There are chapters or subsections on: Working in Partnership with Parents, methods for success in mathematics, reading, physical education, shop courses (co-authored by John Cheadle, an innovative rehabilitation shop teacher), Testing and Evaluation, Fitting in Socially, science courses, geography, use of computers, handwriting, use of low vision aids, Home Economics and Daily Living Skills, dealing with multiple handicaps, Public Law 94-142, understanding medical assessments, and so forth. Each topic is written about in a straightforward, narrative style divided with headings, sub-headings, and lists, that allow the reader quickly to zero in on needed data. Let's look at the table of contents. Chapter 30, pages 255-258, is on Notetaking. That topic has the following divisions: CLASS NOTES Learning How Condensing A List of Directions to Give the Blind Student; THE CLASSROOM TEACHER'S PRESENTATION; MATERIAL ON THE CHALKBOARD; RESEARCH NOTES A List of Suggested Procedures by Which to Teach this Skill; THE NOTEBOOK A List of Ideas for Notebook Organization.
Handbook exceeds the expected with the kind of hard-learned advice from the school of hard knocks that only master teachers can provide. Willoughby and Duffy offer anecdotes, both positive and negative, that should save every reader from at least one mistake. Their clear directions and repertoire of ideas for each of the subjects covered will be of help even to the experienced teacher.
Unexpected in educational handbooks is the chapter of advice to the newly graduated teacher on building a workable rapport with other school staff who work with your student. There are serendipitous chapters on organizing one's professional paperwork, on the use of sleepshades, on techniques for teaching the use of a typewriter keyboard, and, in an appendix, a playlet to enhance the understanding of sighted classmates.
Few resource room or itinerant teachers have much experience with teaching the Nemeth Code. Yet it is the acknowledged Braille code for mathematics and science. One lengthy appendix offers an Easy Guide to the Nemeth Code while another teaches The Paper-Compatible Abacus.
Two sections of the Handbook are specifically addressed to the itinerant or resource room teacher who is blind or visually impaired. These chapters are not only a compendium of workable ideas for the intended audience, but would be most useful reading for blind students contemplating a professional career in any field.
One more thing must be said. Handbook for Itinerant and Resource Teachers of Blind and Visually Impaired Students is exemplary for its positive approach. The authors are pointed in their comments on educational approaches which build in defeatism. They are equally forceful in presenting techniques, tasks, and attitudes that will assist visually handicapped children toward equality in the classroom and in their future adult life. I recommend the purchase of Handbook for Itinerant and Resource Teachers of Blind and Visually Impaired Students to every teacher, administrator, or parent who is concerned with providing an equal educational opportunity to blind and visually impaired children.
THE PALMER HOUSE REVISITED
From the Editor: Many of us look back with fond memories to the NFB conventions at the Palmer House Hotel in Chicago 1972, 1974, and 1975. The Palmer House is a veritable aristocrat of hotels, and most of its staff live up to the part. The dining, the accommodations, and the treatment were elegant.
In planning for the 1972 convention the hotel staff and the city fire marshal took elaborate precautions for our safety and well-being. They thought that since blind people would be present by the thousands, raised maps of the premises would be needed. At first the Palmer House personnel got their feelings hurt because no one would take time to feel of their drawings, but soon they were laughing along with the rest of us at the misconceptions they had had. The same pattern prevailed concerning other aspects of the convention. By the time we came back in 1974, it was routine no special preparations, no problems. In view of this background the experience which Curtis Chong had on a recent visit to the Palmer House is particularly disappointing. It underscores the problem we have in educating the public and changing society's attitudes. The task is not impossible as our continuing progress demonstrates, but it is not easy and sometimes requires plowing the same field over. Nevertheless, we are getting the job done, conversation by conversation and letter by letter. Here is what Curtis Chong wrote to Jim Claus, the General Manager of the Palmer House:
May 4, 1990
Dear Mr. Claus:
I am writing this letter to recount an incident which occurred while I was a guest at the Palmer House hotel. It relates to how I, a blind person, was treated by your staff. It is not my intention to be unduly critical. Rather, I hope, through this letter, to improve your policies and procedures regarding the treatment of blind guests at the Palmer House. On Saturday, April 28, I checked into the Palmer House. As a systems programmer, I was attending a three-day seminar on data communications, which was being held at the hotel.
I checked in at the front desk and, as many guests do, asked for a bellman to assist me with my luggage. My request was cheerfully accommodated, and the bellman and I boarded the elevator. While on the elevator, this announcement was made over the two-way radio that the bellman carried: Attention all units. Stand by for a general broadcast announcement. We have a blind guest in the hotel. His last name is Chong. His room number is 18210. I repeat, we have a blind guest in the hotel. His last name is Chong. His room number is 18210.
I was rather taken aback by what was coming over the radio. The bellman said that it was standard operating procedure for such announcements to be made about people in my situation. (It was clear that he meant my blindness.) He went on to tell me that it was necessary for hotel staff to be aware of certain guests so that in the event of an emergency, they could be provided with assistance should evacuation of the hotel become necessary. I have stayed at many hotels in many states around the country. Never once have I been the object of a general broadcast which presumes that I have no more competence than a child or a helpless invalid. Not a single staff person at your hotel bothered to ask me if, indeed, I wanted or needed any special assistance during a hotel emergency. It was automatically taken for granted that I, a blind person, would be unable to fend for myself should a disaster strike.
In all the hotels where I have stayed, it has generally been assumed that I need no more assistance than any other guest. In fact, with respect to blind people, this assumption ought to be taken for granted. Suppose there really is an emergency and the hotel has one or more guests who happen to be blind. Unlike people with some other disabilities, blind people are not restricted to elevators or ramps. We can, with perfect ease, locate and use any stairwells provided for emergency evacuations, or any other facility in the hotel for that matter. Any policy which assumes that a blind guest will wait patiently in his or her room for some obliging hotel staff person to come along simply cannot be regarded as being in accord with reality. It simply doesn't work that way.
In this last decade of the twentieth century increased attention is being paid to persons with disabilities. Unfortunately this has resulted in the conglomeration of all disabled people into a single group referred to as the handicapped. This simplistic approach ignores the all too obvious fact that people with different disabilities, or characteristics if you will, possess a wide range of talents, abilities, and requirements for assistance. For example, while a person who is deaf may require a flashing indication that the phone is ringing, a blind person obviously does not. While a person in a wheelchair may require assistance negotiating a stairwell, a blind person does not.
When viewed in historical perspective, my experience at your hotel and the offensive two-way radio announcement that was made about the blind guest is surprising. Your fine hotel was used as the headquarters hotel for no less than three national conventions of the blind. In 1972, 1974, and in 1975 the National Federation of the Blind held conventions at the Palmer House. Literally thousands of blind delegates from all over the country attended those conventions. I myself was one of those delegates, and I have many fond memories of your hotel. You can understand why, in light of the foregoing, I had hoped to receive better treatment from the Palmer House of all places. I naturally took it for granted that hotel management had learned something from the experiences of accommodating three national conventions of the blind.
The mere fact that a practice is a standard operating procedure does not make it right. Before the civil rights movement it was standard operating procedure for some hotels in the South to deny rooms to persons who were black. Today, in a somewhat more enlightened era, no self-respecting hotel would even consider denying a room to a person for that reason. It is high time for the Palmer House to re-examine its policies and procedures dealing with the blind.
Let me say in all fairness that the two-way radio announcement made about the blind guest was the only offensive experience I encountered with the Palmer House hotel staff. In every other respect hotel staff treated me with propriety and courtesy. However, I do believe that steps need to be taken to correct your current policies and procedures regarding the treatment of blind guests.
First of all a policy should be adopted which clearly states that blind guests are to be treated exactly like other guests, requiring no more in the way of help, concern, and assistance. Secondly, to prevent future occurrences of inappropriate treatment of blind guests, hotel staff should be provided with positive information about blind people and blindness. In this regard you should contact the National Federation of the Blind at 1800 Johnson Street, Baltimore, Maryland 21230; phone: (301) 659-9314. For local assistance you may get in touch with the National Federation of the Blind of Illinois. Its President is Stephen O. Benson, 3032 North Albany Avenue, Chicago, Illinois 60618. The phone number to call is (312) 267-1123.
As I said at the beginning of this letter, I am writing not to be unduly critical but to press for positive change. Hotel policy regarding the treatment of blind guests needs to be modernized. Hotel staff need to understand that blindness is totally different from paraplegia, deafness, or any other disability. I believe and understand that the Palmer House prides itself on the quality of the service it provides to its guests, and I believe that you are not deliberately trying to give offense to people who are blind. However, the best way that the Palmer House can serve the interests of its blind clients is to treat them as normal, competent, human beings.
cc: Stephen O. Benson, President
National Federation of the Blind of Illinois
Marc Maurer, President
National Federation of the Blind
Dr. Kenneth Jernigan, Executive Director
National Federation of the Blind
A VICTORY FOR VIRGINIA VENDORS
by Charles S. Brown
Charles Brown is the President of the National Federation of the Blind of Virginia and a member of the Board of Directors of the National Federation of the Blind. Here is his account of a recent victory for the vendors of Virginia.
What organization or group really helps vendors when it counts? This is a fair question one which the vendors of the nation should consider carefully and objectively. Recent developments in the state of Virginia give a clear-cut, indisputable answer. Eighty thousand dollars is a sizable sum of money. A thousand dollars in the pocket of each vendor is not to be taken lightly. Here is how it happened.
In early April of 1990 the NFB of Virginia helped Virginia's Randolph-Sheppard Act vendors obtain the return of $80,000 from the Virginia Department for the Visually Handicapped (VDVH) and its nominee, Business Opportunities for the Blind.
The case arose as a result of a meeting on vendor issues called by Ed Peay, President of the Blind Merchants Division of the NFB of Virginia. I attended that meeting in Richmond on March 9, 1990. Many concerns were expressed, including the need to make the VDVH give more than lip service to the rights of vendors to have active participation in the management of the program. Vendors were also concerned about the tendency of the VDVH and its nominee to build its own bureaucracy with money collected from the earnings of the vendors. A symptom of these problems involved the agency's attempt to transfer $80,000 from one reserve account in order to create a new reserve account.
It seems that the money in question was no longer needed in the management fringe benefits reserve account. It also seemed reasonable for the vendors to assume that money no longer needed for the purposes for which it had been originally intended would be returned to them. The VDVH had other ideas. They wanted to set up a brand new reserve account. The problem is that the Randolph-Sheppard Act is pretty clear on the point that the state agencies are not supposed to be collecting money from vendors beyond the reasonable needs of the program.
Shortly after the vendor meeting the NFB of Virginia prepared the necessary paperwork for Joe Shankle to file a complaint challenging the VDVH on its proposed transfer of $80,000. Joe Shankle is Chairman of the Virginia Vending Facility Vendors' Council. He is also an active Federationist. After Mr. Shankle's complaint was filed, many other Virginia vendors filed similar complaints by executing documents prepared by the Federation. A number of these vendors, like Mr. Shankle, asked the Federation to represent them. Meanwhile a preliminary hearing date was set in the original Shankle case, and the NFBV was eagerly looking forward to presenting his case. Then, just before our state convention began on April 6, acting VDVH Commissioner Don Cox let Mr. Shankle know that he was willing to settle the case and distribute the $80,000 to the vendors, as we and the vendors had requested. This means that each of the state's vendors received about $1,000.
The Federation has had a long-standing commitment to work for Randolph-Sheppard programs that stress maximum participation by vendors in program management as well as maximum independence for vendors with respect to the use of their hard-earned dollars. I believe that this latest victory serves to underscore our Federation commitment. There are many reasons why we need the National Federation of the Blind and especially there are many reasons why the blind vendors of the nation need it. But the vendors of Virginia save a lot of unnecessary discussion by giving a simple answer, $80,000.
SEVILLE ALLEN ELECTED CHAIRMAN OF THE VIRGINIA BOARD FOR THE
by Charles S. Brown
As Monitor readers know, Charles Brown is the President of the National Federation of the Blind of Virginia and a member of the Board of Directors of the National Federation of the Blind.
On April 28, 1990, the Virginia Board for the Visually Handicapped unanimously elected Federationist Seville Allen to serve as the Board's chairman, effective July 1, 1990. The Virginia Board for the Visually Handicapped is the seven-member body that supervises the operation of the Virginia Department for the Visually Handicapped. From all appearances, Ms. Allen's victory that day was relatively easy. Appearances can, however, be deceiving. In fact, this victory was the result of more than twenty years of hard work by the blind of Virginia.
In 1978, when I first became President of the National Federation of the Blind of Virginia, the affiliate had already been working for some time to see if we, the largest organization of the blind in the Commonwealth, could obtain at least some representation on the Board for our state agency. In those days Bill Coppage was the director of the agency, and he was, to say the least, no friend of the Federation. The Board at that time pretty much acted as a rubber stamp for Mr. Coppage's decisions. He was very active in the American Foundation for the Blind and in NAC. During his tenure as the agency's director he served at one time or another on the boards of each of those organizations. It was therefore no surprise to the Federationists that none of our candidates for the Board was ever appointed, no matter how qualified they were. It also didn't seem to matter how many letters were written to the Governor on behalf of our candidates the Governor always found someone else to appoint. Meanwhile the Board continued to be out of touch with the blind population of Virginia. Board meetings were described by the Board's chairman during that period as just like Lions' meetings.
In any case, we kept at it. By the mid-1980s we had become more active as an organization in a wider array of state issues, making more friends at higher levels. Meanwhile in 1986 newly elected Governor Gerald Baliles decided to remove Mr. Coppage and appoint John McCann to replace him as Commissioner of the Department for the Visually Handicapped. While Virginia's blind people did not weep over the departure of Mr. Coppage, they certainly did not rejoice at Mr. McCann's appointment.
He was relatively new to Virginia and had very little previous management experience. He was also very much identified with the American Council of the Blind, a group with limited support in Virginia. In spite of our misgivings, it was our desire to try to work with Mr. McCann, and we wished him success in his important new position. During Governor Baliles' tenure, however, we formed a close working relationship with his Secretary for Health and Human Resources, Eva S. Teig. She even expressed some appreciation for our desire to have true representation of the blind on the Board. While that did not come about initially, more attention was being given to the need to appoint quality members to the Board. And as a whole the Board became much more effective in exercising its oversight role. Then, all of a sudden in the summer of 1988 there was an unexpected resignation for this position. We moved quickly to nominate Seville Allen for this position. Also at that time it was becoming apparent that Commissioner McCann was in serious trouble. It was therefore doubtful that he could have blocked Ms. Allen's appointment even if he had tried. In any event Seville Allen was appointed to the Board by Governor Baliles in September of 1988.
Ms. Allen was, of course, an excellent choice. She had served two terms on the agency's advisory committee on services, including a stint as chairman of that body. She was also serving as a member of the Arlington County Commission on Citizens with Physical Disabilities. In addition, she was and is very active in the Federation and known and respected by blind people throughout Virginia. She has for some time served as an elected member of the board of directors of the NFB of Virginia, as the editor of our affiliate newsletter the NFBVigilant , and as president of our Potomac Chapter. Since her appointment, Seville Allen has done her homework and made a number of significant contributions to the Board's deliberations.
The Board has had a lot to deal with. In the spring of 1989 Commissioner McCann resigned. He was replaced by Nell Carney, who served for three months before moving on to become Commissioner of the federal Rehabilitation Services Administration in Washington, D.C. Upon Ms. Carney's departure, a long-time employee of the agency, Don Cox, was named Acting Commissioner. In January of 1990 a new governor, L. Douglas Wilder, was inaugurated.
His administration has conducted a nationwide search for a new commissioner an approach originally recommended by the NFB of Virginia. An announcement as to Governor Wilder's choice for commissioner is expected soon. While all of these personnel changes were taking place, the Department for the Visually Handicapped, with the approval of the Board, was also called upon to issue revised regulations governing most of the agency's major programs. Further, the Board undertook a review of the usefulness of the agency's long-standing association with NAC, which began back in the Coppage era.
During these difficult times Ms. Allen's colleagues have come to know her as we have known her a constructive voice for positive change in programs affecting the lives of blind Virginians. Accordingly, on April 28, 1990, when the current Board chairman, Paul Bullock, announced that he would not seek re-election to the position, the Board turned to Ms. Allen for leadership, even though she is still a relatively junior member. This continues to be a time of challenge and transition for the Virginia Department for the Visually Handicapped. The blind of Virginia are confident that Seville Allen is well prepared for her important new leadership role.
BLIND WOMAN'S TOOLS AID SUCCESS
Karen Edwards was a 1984 winner in the National Federation of the Blind Scholarship program. Today she is a leader in the New Mexico affiliate as well as a devoted wife and mother. In addition she works at the Los Alamos National Laboratory. In all these activities she lives her Federationism. On March 31, 1990, the Journal North, the section of the Albuquerque Journal delivered to the northern half of New Mexico, printed a story by Camille Flores about Karen, which captures her philosophy of life and of blindness. Here it is:
At 28, Karen Edwards has a great career, a happy marriage, and a beautiful child. She's attractive, athletic, and smart. And, incidentally, she's blind.
Blindness is incidental to her busy life because she's developed such a bag of tricks to compensate for the handicap. She says it hasn't stopped her from doing anything she's ever really wanted to do. Next month she'll fly to California for a business conference, and she says her boss at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) never hesitated before asking her to go.
If there's a job that needs to be done, they trust me enough to know I'll find a way to do it, says Edwards, who has been blind since birth. Edwards, who earned a master's degree in human resource development from New Mexico State University, is an administrative specialist who helps design employee programs from hiring to training at the lab. Her work space is filled with equipment that helps her overcome the blindness, but it's not a crutch, she says.
Karen does her own research to come up with tools that can make her more productive, and so does everyone else at the labs, says LANL computer consultant Nick Blackwell.
Other people here have scanners, devices that read documents and transmit them into computer memory, but Karen makes better use of hers, he says. After the scanner puts information into her computer, Edwards uses a Braille printer to read it. Edwards says a positive attitude and surrounding herself with positive people enable her to accomplish so much.
About 70 percent of blind adults are unemployed, and it's mostly because sighted people find the idea of blindness so overwhelming; they just assume we can't do the job, says Edwards, who is president of the LaLuz chapter (Santa Fe, Rio Arriba and Los Alamos counties) of the National Federation of the Blind. Edwards earned a bachelor's degree in speech pathology, also from NMSU. She says faculty members were so negative about a blind person working with children, she feared they wouldn't allow her to go on to advanced studies.
All they did was point out the obstacles, and when I addressed their concerns, they found some more, she says. Instead of giving up, she found human resource development as an area where she could make a contribution and where people were willing to give her a chance.
But once out of graduate school, she began to fight the prejudices of potential employers. I received one rejection after another. My self-esteem was at its lowest, she recalls. Edwards, who was born and reared in Los Alamos, always dreamed of working for Los Alamos National Laboratory. But she was rejected there, too. Then one day she ran into her former junior high school counselor, now employed by the lab, who became my mentor.
We met once a month, and she educated me about the labs in general and, specifically, how to market myself. I would make appointments to talk to people here so they could meet me and learn what I could do, says Edwards, who has worked at LANL for the past 14 months. But work is only part of her life. She's happy to answer questions about how she manages a home, family, and social life.
About child-rearing and housework: My home life is so very typical, she says. Other than Braille cookbooks, I use very few special tools. Mostly it's just techniques I've learned over the years. She loves to read to her daughter Krista and uses printed books with Braille overlays. She and her husband Randy, who also works for LANL as a chemical technician, drive the 2 1/2-year-old to the baby sitter together every day.
About clothing and make-up: My mom and I love to shop and have the same taste in clothes, she says. I only need help with color, and I can do the rest.
Edwards' mom, Marty Arrelano, is a beauty consultant for Mary Kay cosmetics. She advises her daughter about color. How about social life? Skiing and cycling! she says. Randy leads her down the slopes, and the couple tool around Los Alamos on a tandem bike.
Edwards says her parents are responsible for her willingness to work, and sometimes suffer, to succeed.
When Edwards was 5, her mother and father Jose took her to Alamogordo, to the state school for the visually handicapped. I literally broke their hearts, she says, remembering that it took two matrons to hold her down as her parents turned to leave. Even then, I understood that, as soon as I learned the techniques that would enable me to live in the sighted world, I could come home. She returned to Los Alamos in the fifth grade. Then she attended Los Alamos Middle School, where a single teacher was willing to take her into the classroom. She had no background, no training to help her teach a blind child. She just had a lot of guts and a willingness to help me, Edwards remembers.
By the time she entered Los Alamos High School, she was a well-adjusted student. Edwards and her husband were high school students together, attended college together, and have been married for five years. Edwards says life is so wonderful that there's hardly anything she's really wanted to do that she hasn't done.
Well, there is one thing, she admits. I tried to ride Randy's motorcycle in a shopping center parking lot once and failed miserably stitches and everything. Not even a positive attitude, she says, could make her want to try that again.
IS SPECIAL DESIRABLE?
by Susie L. Stanzel
Susie Stanzel is the Treasurer of the National Federation of the Blind of Kansas and President of the affiliate's Johnson County Chapter. This article appears in the Spring, 1990, issue of the Freestate News, the publication of the NFB of Kansas.
As individuals in our society, each one of us wants to know he/she is a special person. This starts at birth and continues to grow as we do. Each baby wants a great deal of attention, and if the baby thinks he/she is not receiving enough attention, that situation is soon changed by crying.
As the child grows, this trend becomes increasingly evident. Each child wants to carve his/her own niche. If this is not done by good behavior, it is done by attention-getting naughty behavior. This need to be special is particularly noticeable in certain parts of our society. We as Federationists are trying to change what it means to be blind. All of us from time to time either consciously or unconsciously use our blindness to draw attention to our special needs. Some students, for example, want all the special privileges and exemptions they can get, taking advantage of the opportunity to have course work or parts of course work waived because of their blindness. There are some colleges and universities that provide note takers. Students who are blind are capable of making these arrangements themselves, thus gaining management skills and preparing for their futures when that kind of service won't be available. Instead, as human nature predicts, they take the easy route.
Although there are times when preboarding an airplane is helpful, it is a decision to be made by an individual and not regarded as a special need and/or privilege just because one is blind. It has come to my attention in these last few months that a blind Lions club is being organized in the Kansas City metropolitan area. Why should there be a Lions club exclusively for blind Lions when Lions is open to anyone who would care to join a club? In a Baptist church in Wichita there is a special class for deaf individuals. Recently there has been a move to form a special class for blind persons as well.
As another example of how blind persons receive special treatment, some sighted and even a very few blind persons think that auditory traffic signals are surely a great help to the mobility of blind individuals. I do not mean to say in all of this that there are no times when special treatment is good or desirable. However, before accepting special treatment or privileges, we need to give careful consideration to the price we will be paying for them. What happens when we want to get regular jobs in the regular work place? If the potential employer has observed all the special accommodations needed by the blind to function (such as audible traffic signals, university-provided note takers, etc.), it is possible, even likely, that the applicant will not receive equal consideration for the job, no matter what his/her qualifications are. There are plenty of other well-qualified applicants out there who do not need all that special assistance. On the other hand, if the employer had seen blind persons who were taking charge of their own lives, taking all the courses, traveling about independently, and managing ways to get class material, he/she would be far more likely to give a blind individual's application positive consideration. Often sighted individuals feel uncomfortable with blind persons, so they suggest either outright or subtly that the blind should participate in activities with their own kind. I have no problem with blind people participating in activities together, but there are plenty of opportunities to do that socially or in organizations such as the National Federation of the Blind.
I believe my point is very clear by now. We want to be equal , not special . Discrimination takes many roads. You might be given too many privileges or too few. What we in the National Federation of the Blind believe is that equal is the only way to go. Let's all examine the circumstances under which we take advantage of special person status and make sure that we don't pay too high a price both for ourselves and our fellow blind.
NEW JERSEY, LAND OF GREAT POTENTIAL
by Donald C. Capps
From the Editor: Don Capps (President of the National Federation of the Blind of South Carolina and a member of the NFB Board of Directors) and his wife Betty are two of the most dedicated, hard-working, and skillful Federationists in the organization today. They have been members since the mid-fifties, and Don has been a leader in the movement for about as long. Betty, loyal wife and committed Federationist that she is, has worked alongside Don steadily, and the two have become a team that can and does accomplish miracles almost as a matter of course. The following article recounts a case in point. It describes the revitalization of a state affiliate; the organization and execution of a state convention; and the discovery of talented, committed new Federation leaders. All this was done in a week a week that included a national holiday. Of such as Don and Betty Capps is the Federation made. Here is the way Don tells the story:
I like a challenge; I always have. When challenged the most, I work best. In early May I was contacted by our National Office. There was a clear tone of urgency in the telephone call. I was told that the then president of the NFB of New Jersey had resigned her office, having accepted a position with the New Jersey Commission for the Blind. And, as if that were not enough, I was also advised that the 1990 New Jersey Convention had been scheduled some time ago for June 2 in Newark but that nothing had been done about a convention program.
After hearing about this distressing situation, I was asked whether or not I would be willing to go to New Jersey for the express purpose of recruiting the best possible person to serve as state president. In addition, the assignment included recruiting new members across the state and restoring the vitality and enthusiasm of the affiliate. It might even include reorganizing the whole thing. On top of this I would have the unenviable responsibility of putting together a substantive convention agenda.
It was enough to make anyone say, No thank you, and suggest hopefully that there must be someone else in the national organization who could do the job, and do it better. The National Federation of the Blind of South Carolina is one of the biggest and busiest state affiliates in the country. As president I have my hands full. Going to New Jersey would mean an absence of at least ten days. My May calendar listed a number of scheduled events and commitments. In all honesty, I think that I could have respectfully declined to go to New Jersey with reasonable justification. However, it seems to me that my service and responsibilities to my fellow Federationists extend far beyond the borders of South Carolina. After all, I have been a long-standing member of the Board of Directors of the national organization, and even if I were not, I would still have the responsibility and obligation as a caring Federationist to do what I could to assist other state affiliates.
Fully understanding the magnitude of the assignment which confronted me, I accepted the New Jersey challenge, and I am glad that I did. From the Delaware River on the south to the Hudson River on the north, and from the Atlantic Ocean on the east to the Pennsylvania state line on the west, lies the land of New Jersey with its six million residents and thousands of blind persons. Arriving in Newark in northern New Jersey on Sunday afternoon, May 27, 1990, we traveled for the next week in search of prospective Federationists the length and breadth of New Jersey the New Jersey Turnpike, the Garden State Parkway, and mile after mile of the quaint back roads. Most of us have heard of Newark, Trenton, New Brunswick, Camden, Atlantic City, East Orange, Asbury Park, Jersey City, Hoboken, and Princeton; but have you previously heard of Pleasantville, Parsippany, Highland Park, Edison, Plainfield, Yardville, and Freehold? Well, we visited all of these places, and others.
I talked to and got to know many blind citizens across the State of New Jersey. Some had heard of the National Federation of the Blind; others had not. It was apparent from my discussions with them that they had been given misinformation about the NFB from historic adversaries, who seemingly believe that they are all-knowing professionals and frequently demonstrate a big-brother mentality. While all of us in the National Federation of the Blind know that the blind have as many individual characteristics as the sighted, there was one common thread in all of these contacts. After I shared the successful fifty-year NFB story, the blind of New Jersey liked what they heard and seemed merely to be waiting to be approached.
By Wednesday, May 30 (three days after Betty and I had arrived in Newark) the convention arrangements for the following Saturday had been completed. Some thought it could not be done on such short notice, but relying upon more than thirty years of putting state conventions together and on carefully thought out contacts, we were able to pull together a fine convention program. However, an attempt to contact Gerald Boyle, Acting Director of the New Jersey Commission for the Blind, concerning the convention was unsuccessful. I placed a telephone call to Mr. Boyle on Tuesday morning, May 29, but I was told that he was in a meeting and would return the call. While I received many calls at the Gateway Hilton, where I was headquartered, and many messages were left for me while I was out, there were no calls or messages from Mr. Boyle. After traveling throughout the state and talking with many blind persons disenchanted with the New Jersey Commission for the Blind, I concluded that perhaps it was just as well that Mr. Boyle never contacted me.
We approached everyone we met who could make a significant contribution to the convention, including successful blind persons in the state. By cultivating the understanding and friendship of the Gateway Hilton Hotel management, I was able to get all of the convention programs printed without charge, including banquet tickets and convention badges. The hotel even agreed to give a $50 door prize for the lucky winner to dine in their fancy restaurant. My son Craig made the short trip from New York City to help out on the registration desk. Before 9:00 a.m. on the day of the convention the delegates began to arrive. It was soon clear that our contacts across the state had paid off. There was an approximate 25-percent increase in attendance over the 1989 convention turnout. A number of blind persons who had never attended a New Jersey convention kept their earlier commitments to me and proudly registered for the convention. I made sure to greet each and every person, old and new. It is important for people to feel that they are welcome and that their presence is appreciated.
To learn more about prospective leaders, I made a point of talking with as many people as possible to evaluate their potential. By the time the convention got underway at 10:00 a.m., I had made up my mind about the person who (at least, in my opinion) should serve as president of the NFB of New Jersey. I was also clear on the others who (it seemed to me) should serve as officers and board members.
In giving the National Report, I of course, talked about the upcoming Golden Anniversary National Convention in Dallas, telling delegates that the NFB had been working for a half century to improve the quality of life for all blind Americans. I emphasized the NFB's commitment to education by pointing to the twenty-six scholarships to be presented at the Dallas convention, amounting to some $100,000 in all. I also discussed our successful Job Opportunities for the Blind program, through which hundreds of blind Americans have found competitive employment.
I spoke of our monthly magazine, the Braille Monitor, available in four formats: Braille, cassette, flexible disk, and print. It has the largest circulation of any publication in our field. As a result of our visit, blind people across New Jersey are being placed on the Monitor mailing list. It is essential for the blind in every state to be well-informed about matters vitally affecting their lives, and the Braille Monitor , the best publication in the field, disseminates the kind of information they need.
I told the convention that the National Center for the Blind is the finest facility of its type in the country hosting seminars, national board meetings, and gatherings of other national and international committees and organizations. The expertise of our members, including our staff at the National Center, enables us to assist blind persons in all walks of life. At the very outset the delegates were told that I was there in a volunteer capacity and was proud to be there because I deeply cared about them. In the banquet address I stated that the NFB was founded for the express purpose of creating a new way of thinking by blind persons. I told the delegates that our distinguished founder, Dr. tenBroek, believed in the dignity of each and every blind person. He maintained that all blind people have the right to reach their true potential. I said that Dr. tenBroek believed that the blind themselves know what is best for them and should, therefore, join hands and work together to solve their common problems. With the beginning of the NFB fifty years ago, a new and refreshing philosophy emerged, based on the concept that with hard work and opportunity blindness need not be a disaster and can be reduced to a mere inconvenience. With the blind working together in a spirit of brotherhood and sisterhood, the common good of all the blind is served.
During the business session of the convention, we thoroughly discussed the future of the NFB of New Jersey. I spoke about the tremendous potential of the New Jersey affiliate. From my extensive travel across the state, it was clear to me that the time is right for the establishment of several new chapters. The blind of New Jersey are ready and willing to participate in the Federation. I pointed out, however, that state and local leaders must be willing to travel and to work hard. Regular board meetings and frequent communication among officers and other leaders are essential. Apathy must be replaced by enthusiasm and energy. Following the convention, there was a reception at which the new leaders and members and those of long standing could get better acquainted. Mrs. Dorothy Cafone of Lyndhurst is the new president of the NFB of New Jersey. With her experience managing an oriental rug import business for many years, Mrs. Cafone is well equipped to lead the NFB of New Jersey into the future. As previously indicated, the National Office wanted me to find the best possible person to lead the New Jersey affiliate, and in Mrs. Cafone we have found that person. Five of the nine-member state board are new to the Federation. This board is well-balanced and unencumbered and possesses a free spirit.
Hardly had I arrived back in South Carolina before I received a telephone call from a new member of the NFB of New Jersey, Stephen Rogers of Manasquan. He was already involved in organizing a new chapter of the affiliate in the Monmouth County area.
Yes, I am glad I went to New Jersey and met the challenge head-on. Federationists need to work together, and I predict good things ahead for the New Jersey affiliate. Today the NFB of New Jersey is much stronger than it was a few months ago, and because of this our entire national organization has also been strengthened. Truly, New Jersey is a land of great Federation potential.
From the Associate Editor: While the rest of the world thinks of August as the last chance to enjoy the slow pace and warm weather of summer, mothers (of younger school-age children, at least) are pulling up their socks in preparation for another year of lunch- packing or of supervising lunch-packing. My children's elementary schools did not have cafeterias; and, even by the time my three reached middle school and the interminable lunch lines, they still didn't like the food that was available. So, if I wanted them to eat nutritiously in the middle of the day, it was the Snoopy lunch box and later the brown bag for me.
I thought it would be good for their characters if after the third grade they began packing their own lunches with advice and assistance from me, while I was getting ready for work myself. We eventually decided that making several loaves of bread into sandwiches at one time and then freezing our handiwork in individually wrapped packets worked better than getting up early enough to make a sandwich each morning. Any filling that will freeze can be used, but good old peanut butter and jelly is the very best. Lettuce does not respond well to the cold, however, and egg salad is a little dreary after it and its soggy bread have thawed.
My rule was always that there must be both a sandwich and fresh vegetables or a piece of fruit in the lunch. Adding dessert was the children's prerequisite. The fruit could present problems. I remember that we went through a period of orange smiles. I would cut an unpeeled orange into wedges and pack it in a small plastic container. The child could eat the pulp easily, and with the outside of the peel clamped against the lips, an enterprising youngster could startle friends and strangers with an orange grin.
We also resorted to what, as a Girl Scout, I knew as walking salads. Mother cores an apple, and the child packs the hole with peanut butter or peanut butter and raisins. This is a messy job and is not recommended as a school morning activity for any but the neatest, most coordinated child or the most patient mother. Lori Duffy, President of the Ohio Parents Division, makes vegetable cars out of sections of celery. Tooth picks can be driven through the celery to form the axles, and four carrot coins can then be fitted on the ends of the picks for wheels. The celery is then ready for a load of cream cheese or peanut butter. These works of art survive the dangers of a lunch box best if they are protected by a plastic container.
This brings us to dessert, the easiest part of a school lunch to prepare ahead of time. Cookies and such things freeze well and thaw quickly. Even today I go into high gear with cookie-baking in August. Teenagers are just as fond of cookies as smaller children and are able to tuck away even more of them. College students are the champion cookie-eaters of all time, however. It comes of being starved for home cooking.
So today, because I find myself traveling a good bit, because I still have one teenager at home and two other offspring requiring CARE packages, and because my husband's Shakespeare students meet once a week in our living room, I still have a great need for a freezer full of cookies.
One of the very best is the Monster Cookie recipe that I found in the Braille Monitor a number of years ago. Using, as it does, three pounds of peanut butter and a dozen eggs, it makes many, many cookies; and they freeze very well. I also try to keep pumpkin muffins on hand, though it is hard to do. They, too, freeze well, and I believe that one could substitute whole wheat flour for part or all of the white if one's youngsters would stand for such tampering. Mine will not. But the best thing about this recipe is that, if you septuple yes, I mean multiply by seven this recipe, you can use a whole twenty-nine-ounce can of pumpkin. It produces dozens and dozens of moist, spicy muffins, and if you get them into the freezer promptly, you can dole them out for weeks in school lunches or as after-school snacks. Here are some recipes to help you with your school lunch preparations this fall. Even if you aren't packing those endless brown bags, these are worth trying.
1-1/2 cups flour
3/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
l/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg,
freshly grated if possible
6 tablespoons butter or margarine
1 beaten egg
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup canned pumpkin
1/2 cup seeded raisins
Method: Combine the dry ingredients in a large bowl and cut in the butter or margarine using a pastry blender or two knives used scissor fashion. Stir in the raisins. In a small bowl combine egg, milk, and pumpkin. Stir liquid into the dry ingredients just until flour has been moistened. Line muffin tins with paper muffin liners, and fill each one- half to two-thirds full of batter. Sprinkle each muffin with a quarter teaspoon sugar. Bake muffins at 400 degrees for 18 to 20 minutes, until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Remove muffins to a cooling rack and freeze before family members discover how good they are straight from the oven.
by Pat Eschbach
Granola makes a great lunch time treat or after-school snack, not to mention its widely recognized virtue as a breakfast food. This recipe was provided by Pat Eschbach, who for years organized hospitality at national conventions.
1 cup whole wheat flour
1-1/2 cups instant dry milk
1-1/2 cups wheat germ
1/2 cup buckwheat flour
1 cup sesame seeds
6-10 cups rolled oats
1 cup sunflower seeds
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup coconut
1 cup cornmeal
2 cups raisins
1 cup oil
1 cup honey
2 tablespoons molasses
Method: Mix all dry ingredients in large roasting pan or any large pan. Put honey, oil, and molasses in pan and bring to a boil and pour over dry ingredients stirring constantly to mix thoroughly. Put on large cake roll pan (or cookie sheets that have sides). Place in oven at 325 degrees and bake for 30 minutes. It is best to remove every 10 minutes and stir. Add the raisins after the mixture has baked. Cool and place in tightly sealed containers and store in a cool dry place.
by Barbara Cheadle
Barbara Cheadle is the President of the Parents Division of the National Federation of the Blind. She has three children and has packed thousands of lunches.
2 cups rolled oats
1/3 cup whole wheat flour
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chopped nuts (optional)
1/3 cup water
1/3 cup oil
Method: Mix dry ingredients thoroughly. Place water and oil in small jar with a tight-fitting lid. Shake well until oil is emulsified. Add to dry ingredients, mixing with a fork to distribute moisture evenly. Work well with fork and press into greased pan. Dough should be about 1/3 inch thick and well pressed together to prevent crumbling. Mark in squares with knife before baking. Bake at 400 degrees until thoroughly dried and slightly browned. Yield: 24 squares.
PEANUT BUTTER FUDGE
by Joyce Scanlan
Joyce Scanlan is the President of the National Federation of the Blind of Minnesota and the Executive Director of BLIND, Inc., the NFB Rehabilitation Center in Minneapolis.
7 oz. marshmallow cream
18 oz. jar of peanut butter
2 lbs. powdered sugar
large can evaporated milk
1 stick butter
Method: In saucepan combine milk and sugar. Cook over medium heat until dissolved, add butter. Bring to boil and cook till a small amount dropped from a teaspoon into a cup of cold water forms a soft ball (about seven minutes). Remove from heat. Mix peanut butter and marshmallows together in separate bowl. Pour hot mixture over peanut butter and marshmallows. Mix well and pour into buttered 13x9 inch pan. Chill.
We have been asked to carry the following announcement: Castle , a quarterly cassette chess publication, is available. It pertains to the interests of the blinded chess enthusiast. The subscription is $9.00. Chess Life , excerpted on cassettes, can also be had free, but a one-time contribution of $7.50 is solicited in order to defray the cost of production of the master tapes. The contribution is optional. Upon request a cassette catalog can be had at no cost listing the books in the Galloping Knights, Inc. Library of Cassette Chess Books for the Blind. Inquiries may be sent in Braille, on cassette, or in print to: Gintautas Burba, 30 Snell Street, Brockton, Massachusetts 02401.
**Cards and Songs:
We have been asked to carry the following announcement: I sell Braille playing cards for $1.00 a rack pinochle style. I will also sell Braille copies of my book, Poems: Songs of Emotion for $5.00 a copy. Please contact me in Braille only: Ms. Gayle Sabonaitis, 11 Maxwell Street, Worcester, Massachusetts 01607.
**Get Me Started:
We have been asked to carry the following announcement: Sighted transcriber wants to buy Perkins Brailler in very good to excellent condition. Will prepay or reimburse shipping. Contact: Dennis B. Adamson, 400 Lisbon Avenue S. E., Rio Rancho, New Mexico 87124, or phone (505) 473-4482 days, or (505) 892-3850 evenings.
We have been asked to carry the following announcement: For Sale - (1) VISTA display enlarger for the IBM and compatible desktops. Includes board, monitor cable, software, mouse, and manual. Asking $800. (2) Hyundai XT compatible. 30 megabyte hard drive and 1 internal 5.25 360 kilobyte floppy drive. Monochrome monitor and VGA card. Includes Synphonix speech board and Business Vision, also some useful DOS utilities and WordPerfect 5.0. Asking: $1,400. If interested, contact: Enrique Allenye, 25 Elmwood Avenue #2, Burlington, Vermont 05401, phone: (802) 865-3741.
**Proud to Be Part of It:
Mary Donahue, Federationist from San Antonio, Texas, writes under date of May 14, 1990:
There is a victory for the National Federation of the Blind, and in particular, the NFB of Texas! I will finally get my orientation and mobility training without having to sign any liability waivers from the Texas Commission for the Blind. The person who will be working with me is a certain Betsy Harris, who teaches some cane travel and is also a low vision specialist at the Santa Rosa Low Vision Clinic here in San Antonio. From what I heard from another teacher of blind children, she is a strong advocate for cane travel. All I can say is: I am glad there is a National Federation of the Blind, and I am proud to be a part of it!
We recently received the following letter:
I am a white widow, fifty-six years of age, with no dependents. I am a sighted person and have my driver's license. I am five feet, two inches tall and weigh 140 pounds. I would like very much to meet a blind gentleman who is ready for a committed relationship. Maybe marriage. He must be between the ages of fifty-five and seventy. Would you happen to know of a blind man who would be interested? In Massachusetts there are many singles dating clubs but none for the blind and sighted singles to get together. Contact: Louise S. Staples, Post Office Box 2012, Taunton, Massachusetts 02780-0969.
**Help When Needed:
We recently received the following letter:
About two years ago an incident occurred in which MONITOR readers might find interest. My husband and I were fortunate enough to receive a kidney transplant for my husband at Presbyterian University Hospital in Pittsburgh. We are both blind. The question arose as to how to measure the cyclosporine drug. Recalling the Diabetics Division, I got in touch with the NFB main office and after several calls contacted Ed Bryant of the Diabetics Division. He gave us encouragement via the telephone during my husband's hospital stay. He also sent us his article about the device he invented which allows for self-measurement of the cyclosporine drug without sighted assistance. We had researched the matter. We knew of blind people who had pharmacists premeasure their dosage, but we preferred this foolproof independent method.
We shared the magazine in which this article appeared with other diabetic blind patients and medical staff at the hospital and dialysis unit and elsewhere. All were glad to have his information. It is two years now, and my husband's kidney is great. From both of us a special thanks to Ed Bryant and to the NFB for providing timely and useful help when we really needed it.
We recently learned of the birth of Paul James Posont. He was born on May 15 at 6:55 a.m. Paul James weighed eight pounds and six ounces and was twenty-one inches long. He has brown hair and brown eyes. We understand that baby Paul was in Dallas along with Katie, Peter, Mom and Dad. Congratulations to Larry and Donna Posont on the birth of Paul James.
The following item appeared in the May 9, 1990, New York Times:
A Printer Translates Into Braille
A new computer printer can translate letters and numbers into Braille characters and reproduce graphic images in relief, using standard office paper. The first graphics printer for the blind was introduced recently by Howtek, Inc., a Hudson, New Hampshire, company that developed the machine in cooperation with the National Federation of the Blind. Software included with the printer translates the alphanumeric fonts on the keyboard to standard Braille fonts, and an optional program translates to Grade 2 Braille, which contracts common prefixes and suffixes for faster reading by the blind person. Standard personal computer graphics software can be used to create maps, graphs, and drawings.
What sets Howtek's Pixelmaster printer apart is its ink-jet technology. Developed to overcome the problems of evaporation and clogging in liquid ink printers, Pixelmaster uses plastic-based ink, which melts within the printer to a liquid but solidifies instantly when it hits the page, leaving a slightly raised dot, line, or other form. By jetting four images on top of each other, the form is raised sufficiently to be read by a blind person.
Tim Cranmer, director of technology at the National Federation of the Blind, said No other product in the market today has the ability to print maps, charts, graphs, or images and Braille fonts directly from a computer.
Because the Pixelmaster prints alphanumeric characters along with Braille, it is expected to facilitate communication for sighted persons working with the blind. The printer has a retail price of $5,675, which includes the Braille translation software. It is being distributed through dealers specializing in the market for the blind.
We have been asked to carry the following: The NutraSweet Company has created a 60-page collection of Equal sweetener recipes printed in large type and Braille, now available to visually impaired and blind consumers at no cost. It features low-calorie recipes for appetizers, beverages, entrees, salads and desserts. These recipes have been calculated into approximate food exchanges, for the convenience of people with diabetes and others utilizing the Exchange System for meal planning. For a copy of the large-type or Braille version, write: Equal Consumer Affairs, The NutraSweet Company, Box 830, Deerfield, IL 60015.
On January 16, 1990, the Maryland State Senate passed the following resolution: Be it hereby known to all that the Senate of Maryland offers its sincerest congratulations to the National Federation of the Blind in recognition of its 50th Anniversary of promoting equal rights for blind persons, in the State of Maryland and throughout the nation. The entire membership extends best wishes on this memorable occasion and directs this resolution be presented on this 16th day of January, 1990. The resolution was signed by both the President and the Secretary of the Maryland Senate.
The Spring, 1990, edition of the Braille Spectator, the newsletter of the National Federation of the Blind of Maryland, reports as follows: Sharon Maneki, President of the NFB of Maryland, received the 1989 Woman of Achievement Award, presented by the Business and Professional Women's Network, Annapolis Chapter, for outstanding community service. Congratulations, Sharon!
**Greeting Cards Available:
Kristina Nuttings of Round Pond, Maine, designs greeting cards. She has created a birthday card and an all-occasion card with Braille messages inside. Her announcement about these cards reads as follows: Greeting cards with sayings printed in Braille are available from Prophecy Designs. For further information contact Kristina Nutting, P. O. Box 84, Round Pond, Maine 04564. Cards sell for three dollars apiece.
In December, 1989, Theresa Schaffer, treasurer of the Polk County Chapter of the National Federation of the Blind of Florida, wrote to announce the founding of the organization, which took place November, 1989. Somehow her announcement never reached the Braille Monitor . Was it the mails? Was it the gremlins? Who can tell? Nonetheless, the Florida affiliate has a new and vigorous chapter of which we can all be proud. The officers elected in November of 1989 are President, Joyce Mathis; Vice-president, Judy Black; Secretary, Helen Samuel; Treasurer, Theresa Schaffer.
**It Was Bound To Happen:
In the late 70s, when Washington State and California were riven with dissension, Sue Ammeter and Bob Acosta, the leaders in their respective states of the trouble-making factions, protested vehemently that they had no intention of ever joining the American Council of the Blind. For several years now Bob Acosta, having led his band of followers into the ACB fold, has been active in that organization's leadership circles. But the United Blind of Washington State, the organization that Ammeter and company formed, has continued to maintain its independence until now.
In her column in the First Quarter, 1990, issue of Newsline, the newsletter of the United Blind of Washington State, Sue Ammeter devoted almost four pages to the announcement of the upcoming merger of the UBWS and the Washington Council of the Blind. Here is a bit of what she had to say:
At the annual convention of UBWS, Resolution 89-91 was adopted, which directed the Board of UBWS to work with the Board of the Washington Council of the Blind to establish the time and place of a special meeting to consider the merger of our two organizations. The special meeting will be held on Saturday, March 3, 1990 at the Executive Inn in Seattle....We are pleased to announce that Mr. Oral Miller, ACB National Representative, has agreed to preside over our special meeting. At this meeting, we will be adopting a constitution and electing a slate of officers and board members. At this time newly elected ACB president LeRoy Saunders is planning to attend.
Like Bob Acosta, many in the United Blind swore fiercely that whatever they did, they would never join forces with the Council. But as in California it was only a matter of time until the transformation was complete.
At its meeting on Saturday, April 14, 1990, the Chicago Chapter of the National Federation of the Blind of Illinois elected the following board of directors for the next twelve months: Steven Hastalis, President; Rita Szantay, First Vice President; Peter Grunwald, Second Vice President; William Hafer, Secretary; Pamela Provost, Treasurer; and Board Members: Tony Burda, Brian Johnson, Ken Staley, and Deborah Kent Stein.
We have been asked to carry the following announcement:
I have several pieces of equipment that I would like to offer for sale. They are as follows: 1. Model `C' Optacon, $1,200; 2. Model `B' Optacon, $1,000; 3. Portable line scanner for Optacon, $75; 4. Small print lens for Optacon, $50; 5. CRT lens for Optacon, $75; 6. Small Talk lap-top computer with cassette drive, $500; and 7. TSI Calculator, $50. Contact: Cathlene Schroeder, 1434 Wellesley, N. E., Albuquerque, New Mexico 87106; or phone (505) 268-9282 evenings; (505) 841-8425 days.
**Medical Transcription Education:
We have been asked to carry the following announcement:
Health Professions Institute of Modesto, California, has developed a program for training students to be medical transcriptionists. Our Beginning Medical Transcription unit uses authentic physician dictation grouped by medical specialty. This twelve-hour unit prepares students to work in a physician's office or clinic transcribing chart notes, letters, history and physical examination reports, and consultations. Because this unit comprehensively covers every medical specialty, students can enter the job market with competitive skills. Advanced units are also available to train students to transcribe in a hospital setting.
For more information about a career in medical transcription or how to use the Beginning Medical Transcription unit for self-study at home, contact Susan Turley, CMT, RN, Curriculum Coordinator for Health Professions Institute, at (301) 744-4070. Mrs. Turley is currently advising blind students using this training program and is familiar with the use of a speech board and computer equipment. To receive a free catalog of products for medical transcriptionists or to order the Beginning Medical Transcription unit, contact: Health Professions Institute, 801 15th Street, Modesto, California 95354. Phone: (209) 524-4351.
**From the Flint Chapter:
We recently received a letter from the Flint Chapter of the National Federation of the Blind of Michigan, which said in part: Enclosed is a newspaper article that appeared in the Flint Journal earlier this year about one of our members, Norman Asselstine, who was chosen by President Bush as a Daily Point of Light. Norman has been blind for several years and is one of our most active and capable members. His schedule is remarkable not because he is blind but because of his activity at his age of eighty-two. He walks several miles a day to keep in good condition, uses the regular transportation system to get to where he wants to go, and is very active in his church, in Boy Scouts as a volunteer, in Big Brothers, and in the Greater Flint Chapter of the National Federation of the Blind. We hope that news of his well-deserved honor can be publicized through the Braille Monitor.
The Greater Flint Chapter of the National Federation of the Blind of Michigan is a dynamic organization. Recent activities include: manning an exhibit at a children's fair at a shopping center, where we demonstrated Braille and aids and appliances for the blind and distributed literature about blindness. We also make referrals to agencies serving the blind. We carried on similar activities at Mott Community College and at a health fair. We also maintain an exhibit at the Flint Children's Museum, where the youngsters learn about blindness and what it means. In addition, we have communicated with the police department, the Mayor's Office on the Handicapped, and the Mass Transit Authority in an attempt to increase understanding and promote intelligent relationships between city employees and blind citizens. We are currently working towards increased awareness on the part of drivers of the meaning of the white cane and guide dog and of the White Cane Law. Our officers are: Philip A. White, President; Georgia Clark-Kitchen, Vice President; Gene Heidenberger, Secretary; and Robert Vance, Treasurer.
**Some of the First:
Laurie Eckery (who, along with her daughter Lynden and her husband Jerry, is well known to Monitor readers) writes as follows:
Enclosed you will find fifty dollars to pay for my subscription to the Braille Monitor with enough to pay for someone else's (anyone who can't afford it or might have forgotten). This money is some of the first which I earned in my new job as hotel reservation agent for the Marriott World-Wide Reservation Center here in Omaha, Nebraska. So far I have enjoyed my work just fine. I am not as speedy as some, but I am thorough, patient, and customer-oriented. Computer skills are also new to me, but I am catching on quickly. I wanted the Federation to have some token of my appreciation for your part in helping me get to where I could retrain and get a job after all the unsuccessful experiences I have had in this venture.