Vol. 36, No. 10 November
Barbara Pierce, Editor
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NATIONAL FEDERATION OF
THE BLIND IS NOT
SPEAKING FOR THE BLIND--IT IS THE BLIND SPEAKING FOR THEMSELVES
Vol. 36, No. 10 November 1993
SCHOOLS FOR THE BLIND, AND FULL INCLUSION:
WHAT SHALL THE FUTURE OF EDUCATION FOR BLIND CHILDREN BE?
CORRECTNESS IN THE WORKPLACE
by Curtis Chong
VENDORS WIN RIGHT TO INDEPENDENT ELECTIONS
by Sharon Gold
A DOWNFALL: NAC'S SLIDE CONTINUES
by Barbara Pierce
CENTERING ON SUCCESS
BRAILLE READERS ARE LEADERS CONTEST FORM
TERMS WITH MYSELF AT THE COLORADO CENTER FOR THE BLIND
by Jaime Fradera
BLIND, INC., BUDDIES GIVE THUMBS UP
ART AT THE
by Janet Bixby
OF AN ARTIST AS A YOUNG GIRL
by Heather Kirkwood
FEDERATION OF THE BLIND 1994 SCHOLARSHIP PROGRAM
by Barbara Pierce
MORE ABOUT JURY SERVICE
Copyright © National Federation of the Blind, Inc., 1993
From the Editor: Probably the most vehement discussions and potentially dangerous struggles going on among those concerned about the education of blind children today involve instructional options for these youngsters. Full inclusion is the term that has replaced mainstreaming in special education circles. Those who espouse the most responsible articulation of this concept refuse to condone warehousing any disabled children at all in segregated classrooms because there they can too easily be forgotten by other educators and children alike, who are then free to learn in the regular classroom, without the complications that disabled children are generally presumed to cause. These theorists intend to include all disabled students fully in the regular classroom in such a way that they will fully benefit from the instruction and that all members of the class will learn and grow through both the educational opportunities and the social interaction.
Unfortunately, it is becoming obvious to many that this theory is being enthusiastically embraced by local education officials, not because they recognize that they have been short- changing the disabled students in their schools, but because they see in it the chance to eliminate all special instructional programs in favor of saving money by dumping everyone into the regular classroom. Properly implemented, full inclusion is not a cost-cutting measure because the responsibility remains to provide every child with the services he or she requires in order to take full advantage of regular classroom learning. But the concept that full inclusion must meet all the needs of every child is being lost in the mad dash to combine all children in one educational setting, regardless of the consequences.
At the other extreme of the discussion are the advocates of residential schools for the blind. At their best, such institutions can teach the skills and positive attitudes necessary for blind students to take full advantage of all educational opportunities available to them. All too frequently, however, these schools have become both centers of undistinguished teaching and nonacademic repositories of youngsters with low expectations for themselves and poor attitudes about blindness.
Between these two extremes are proponents of a range of instructional options from occasional itinerant instruction to full-time resource rooms and teachers in the public school. Others propose teacher's aids or outreach programs to assist blind students and their teachers. In short, possible solutions to this critically important problem proliferate because, while all of them are effective occasionally and in some settings, none has so far been demonstrated to deliver marked success consistently and widely.
There is no doubt that the full inclusion faction is growing in strength and power. The result is that with every passing month blind children are less and less likely to receive the Braille, abacus, cane travel, keyboarding, and other skills they need. While almost none of us familiar with today's residential schools is prepared to argue that they offer the obvious and universal educational solution for blind students, we freely admit that they can and sometimes do provide skills training that many blind youngsters simply will not get in the foreseeable future in any other school setting. It seems foolish to dismantle this component of the educational system for blind students in favor of full-inclusion programs that have not yet produced many successfully educated and integrated blind students and certainly are responsible for many poorly educated and socially inept ones.
Until recently such discussions as have taken place on this subject appear to have been less than constructive. Many of the most dedicated full inclusionists are parents of youngsters with developmental delays or orthopedic problems. They know little about the complications that blindness imposes on early learning in the regular classroom. Those committed to special programs for blind children are convinced that the inevitable result of full inclusion would be the eradication of residential schools and special programs for the blind.
In late September several leaders of the National Federation of the Blind met with an equal number of distinguished full- inclusion theorists to discuss the needs of blind children and how they might be met in an educational setting in which full inclusion--genuine participation of blind children--might take place. The group hopes to draft a set of principles and write several articles for publication in the coming months. Participants in the discussion hope that in retrospect this meeting may prove to have been the first significant step forward in the effort to resolve the serious differences that are endangering the educational future of blind children. The Braille Monitor will continue to report on this effort in the coming months.
At the NFB's 1993 National Convention a panel of educators looked at the question of full inclusion versus residential schools and other options for educating blind children. The four panelists were Fred Schroeder, Executive Director of the New Mexico Commission for the Blind and former Director of Low Incidence Programs for the Albuquerque Schools; Dr. Phil Hatlen, Superintendent of the Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired; Dr. Michael Bina, Superintendent of the Indiana School for the Blind and President of the Association for Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired; and Ralph Bartley, Superintendent of the Arizona State Schools for the Deaf and Blind. They examined the concept of full inclusion as it affects the parents and children with whom they work, and they pointed to possible new opportunities for residential schools to assist in the education of tomorrow's blind adults. Here are the remarks they made on Thursday, July 8, 1993:
Three years ago in this very room in Dallas, we celebrated the fiftieth anniversary of the founding of the National Federation of the Blind. We were celebrating a half-century of progress, and we renewed our commitment. As we celebrated the past, we also celebrated the emergence of a new philosophy of blindness growing from an understanding of our fundamental normality. As an organization and as a movement we have been blessed with leaders who could refine and sharpen our philosophy and articulate it in ways which helped give it life. By understanding our philosophy and believing in its essential truth, we as blind people have been able to put our beliefs into action in the way we live our lives. Consequently, we have grown in ourselves and grown as an organization, developing deeper conviction and sharper definition to our beliefs. As we celebrated our past, we celebrated the evolution of a new vision of blindness and a new vision of our potential. Through the leadership of Dr. tenBroek; Dr. Jernigan; and, most recently, President Maurer, we have come to understand that the major problem of blindness is not the lack of eyesight, but rather societal misunderstanding about blindness. In President Maurer's banquet address last year he described the "mysterious ten percent"--an understanding that learning is a process of building new information upon a foundation of knowledge already acquired. Hence, our philosophy could not have emerged full-grown, but rather developed steadily over time. Yet President Maurer pointed out that "learning cannot occur unless there is a teacher with the wisdom and the capacity to dream of the other ten percent." We in the National Federation of the Blind have had leaders capable of envisaging a new truth about blindness. Through our philosophy we are able to understand and withstand the prejudice we face. Our philosophy gives us the strength and the courage to assert a new conception of blindness. In other words, what we believe about blindness determines how we will act, and what society believes about blindness determines how we are treated. Not surprisingly, therefore, the programs and services available to the blind are conceived and developed out of society's beliefs about blindness.
At the time residential schools for the blind were founded, it was commonly assumed that blind children could not be educated alongside the sighted. Yet this thinking led to the creation of an educational system which, over time, resulted in tremendous benefit to the children it served. Many of the best educated and best prepared blind people in our society attended schools for the blind. As these institutions began experiencing overcrowding, the practice of mainstreaming blind students, particularly at the high school level, became increasingly widespread. During this time schools for the blind generally maintained high academic standards. So students mainstreamed into the public schools were expected to maintain academic excellence.
In the 1970's, as Public Law 94-142 came into being, a greater push for mainstreaming occurred. Yet P.L. 94-142 went beyond mainstreaming of children based at residential schools for the blind. With its provision for educating children in the "least restrictive environment," P.L. 94-142 put forward a new philosophy about the education of blind children. On its face, this new philosophy seemed to embody a more enlightened view of blindness. Certainly it is good if a blind child is educated alongside the sighted, having normal social interaction and competing academically. Yet the experience of the past two decades appears to suggest that the real goal of mainstreaming is, at best, illusive. Today the literacy rate among blind people is at an all-time low. Many reasons have been put forward to explain this decline, including advances in low-vision technology, shortages of trained teachers, and an increase in the number of blind people with multiple disabilities. Yet many of us in this room did not have multiple disabilities, did not have a lack of access to itinerant or resource room teachers, and did not have sufficient vision to read print competitively. Yet we were not taught to be literate.
In my view the decline in Braille literacy is directly tied to the low expectations of society. If society expects very little from blind children, then it is not surprising that these youngsters perform at a low level.
In the 1970's, when I was in graduate school, a commonly held view was that blind children should be placed in classrooms with sighted children of the same age to facilitate social interaction. The unspoken and unquestioned assumption was that blind children could not compete academically but, lacking this ability, should be encouraged to develop socially. I remember frequently hearing that "we live in a sighted world, and blind children need to learn to live with the sighted." No mention was made of blind children competing with the sighted.
There exists, therefore, a seeming dichotomy. Residential schools, while appearing more restrictive, historically have had strikingly stronger academic programs. On the other hand, mainstreaming programs premised on integration, while appearing more progressive, seem to have had strikingly weaker academic programs.
However, this apparent contradiction is only dichotomous because it is incomplete. While residential schools for the blind separated blind children, they did believe that the blind could be educated. These educators recognized that, given the right tools and encouragement, blind children could become literate and, therefore, proficient in all of the academic disciplines. The belief that blind children could be educated drove the development of the program as well as the expectations teachers had for their students.
The mainstreaming movement, on the other hand, was driven by a belief that children raised in isolation were ill-equipped to fit in socially and, therefore, seriously disadvantaged as they sought integration as adults. The push for social integration was premised on a positive assertion that the blind should not be segregated from the sighted, while simultaneously embodying the false belief that the blind could not truly compete.
What we need is a system that believes in blind children--a system that promotes fundamental literacy, academic excellence, and social integration premised on the blind child's ability to give, as well as to receive. We need a system rooted in the philosophy of the National Federation of the Blind--a system that believes in the capacity of blind people to become educated and to live full and active lives. Schools for the blind and mainstreaming programs can today be both viable and progressive. What is needed is not a new model of service delivery, but rather an overarching philosophy driving the delivery of services.
I ran a mainstreaming program in a large public school system for five years. All of our children received intensive training in the skills of blindness, including Braille, cane travel, abacus, and typing. But, more important, the children in our program knew that we believed in them and, over time, learned to believe in themselves. It is the element of believing in oneself that gives a person confidence and the courage to withstand and overcome society's low expectations.
The real challenge, therefore, is not in restructuring schools or developing new systems for service delivery but rather the same challenge we met when we organized as blind people fifty-three years ago. It is the challenge of changing the public's perception of blindness and, by so doing, raising expectations for what we can accomplish as blind people. Real integration is an expression of real acceptance based on the understanding that blind adults can carry their own weight and pay their own way. The same is true for blind children.
There is today a new extension in mainstreaming philosophy known as "full inclusion." Inclusionists believe in full integration of blind and other disabled children in regular school programs, and as with the adherents to other movements inclusionists believe both in the efficacy and the morality of their cause. Yet as has been noted of schools for the blind and the mainstreaming movement, the future for blind children still depends directly on what is expected of them. Inclusionists say they value diversity and believe that the diversity of our society must be reflected in our schools and classrooms. Yet I am afraid that this concept will be misinterpreted and misapplied to create a philosophy, not of valuing diversity, but of institutionalizing prejudice. What we believe determines what we do, and what society believes about us determines how we are treated.
To be effective, full inclusion must begin with positive beliefs in, and high expectations for, blind children and the ability to train them in the skills they need for full participation. We live in a diverse culture, and the ordinary classroom should reflect our diversity, but it should not trivialize it. The ordinary classroom, by virtue of being ordinary, represents society in microcosm and hence embodies all of society's prejudice and misunderstanding. Children need teachers who can train them and who can make demands upon them. The ordinary classroom teacher has no experience upon which to base expectations, nor does he or she have knowledge of the specialized skills of blindness.
I grew up as a blind child educated in the public schools. Because of the remaining vision I had at the time, I did not learn Braille. From the time I was very young the pattern of diminished expectations was evident. I was required to do only those things I could see well enough to do. The message was clear. To see was to be capable, and to be blind was to be incapable. To see was to participate, and to be blind was to sit quietly while others worked and learned. To see was to be included, but to be blind was to be left on the sidelines. This is not valuing diversity, but training inferiority. This is not a recognition of the fundamental value of all human beings, but the perpetuation and inculcation of prejudice. Blind children must have a core of skills upon which to build if they are to be competitive. With these skills they can develop the confidence they need to compete. If they can compete, then society will learn to view them differently.
Inclusion is not a place or an event, but a process--a process embodying the acquisition of skills and the development of self-confidence. The blind lawyer who beats his or her opponent in court, the blind teacher elected to a position of leadership in a local union, the blind farmer with the highest yield--these are the expressions of what we have learned to believe about blindness, and these are the events that will lead to real social integration. I do not want society to value diversity if that means gentle feelings toward those perceived to be less fortunate. What we believe determines what we do, and what society believes about us determines how we are treated.
We cannot allow our educational system to perpetuate negative attitudes and diminished expectations. We must demand of our educational system both good training and positive attitudes. The only way we can ensure the future for ourselves and for today's blind children is through the National Federation of the Blind. We must pass on our philosophy, our skills, and our confidence. If today's blind children hold true to the faith, they will build on this foundation and create new and greater opportunities. If they hold true to the faith, they will achieve full inclusion, not as a special education strategy, but through their ability and actions. If they hold true to the faith and build upon what the blind before them have accomplished, then collectively we as blind people will achieve dignity, self- respect, and true equality.
President Maurer, Dr. Jernigan, it is a pleasure and honor for me to be here. And it is my first NFB convention. I can't explain why; it certainly won't be my last.
While I want to acknowledge and tell you how much I like and respect my new NFB friends in Texas, I'd like to begin by saying today and tomorrow I'm most anxious to get reacquainted with my long-time friends from California, Sharon Gold and my dear friend Hazel tenBroek, whom I've known for many, many years. It's good to be here, and I'm proud to be here.
I also would like to acknowledge that, as an educator of blind children, I respect and deeply appreciate the material and the contributions of the NFB to the field of education of the blind. Mrs. Cheadle, you've done a lot for us who work in education. Fred, of course, has done a lot. Future Reflections, the Braille Monitor, Doris Willoughby's writings: all of these things have made me a better educator and helped me to serve blind children better. Fred, you're an impossible person to follow. I've done this a lot of times with Fred, and this is really tough. I feel like just saying, "Ditto," and sitting down.
I am going to present to you, though, a few comments and observations about inclusion. I'll begin by telling you just a very brief definition of me. And I'm going to start with an anecdote that happened very recently. You'll read this in an article in the upcoming Journal of Visual Impairment and Blindness. A student from the University of Texas came to the Texas School for the Blind one day, and she said to me, "Oh, I remember you; you were the one who came to our class at the University to talk about schools for the blind versus public schools." I stopped in my tracks and thought to myself, "I really said that; I really gave her that impression?" If I did, I certainly didn't want to. I am a firm believer in an array of services for blind children. I'm an educator of blind children who happens to be practicing his profession at the moment in a school for the blind. That doesn't make me a proponent of schools for the blind only. It makes me a proponent of the highest quality of services for every individual blind child in this country.
Let me give you some information about educational settings, because that's truly how full inclusion represents a threat to us. Very briefly I'm going to go through what was, what is being presented at the present time, and what I think should be. First of all, what was, we can cover very quickly. If we go back far enough, and I can join some of you in this exercise (I've been called older than dirt by some of my colleagues), by far the majority of blind students were provided a high-quality education in schools for the blind. Of course, the down side to this was that children were separated from family and community, sometimes by many miles and for many months. In the 1950's changes began; and, as we all know, within a brief period of time more blind children were receiving their education in public day schools than in residential schools. Then some additional changes began in the late sixties and early seventies. I mention this because I think that at one time we had a better array of service options than we do today.
When public school programs first began for blind children, we had resource rooms, where there was a teacher of blind children in the school building all day, every day. The way in which decisions were made about the placement of children in public schools was that blind children were provided a resource room and a resource teacher. Partially seeing (low-vision) children were provided an itinerant teacher. These two systems prevailed for many years side by side. As the retrolental fibroplasia population began graduating from high school in the late sixties, school districts suddenly found themselves with one or two blind children and a resource room that they could no longer fiscally afford. What happened was these children were absorbed into itinerant programs with no pre-planning, with no real thinking about whether this was the best and the highest quality education for the child.
This was an evolution that should probably never have occurred. What is today? Well, if you go out in public school programs in most communities, you'll find itinerant programs, and that's about it. To me, that's not acceptable in terms of responding with an array of services.
Let me just share with you a little item that I got about the State of Kentucky:
Special education services specifically tailored to the needs of children who are blind is in dire shortage in Kentucky. While over 1200 children, birth to twenty-one, are registered in the Kentucky Instructional Materials Resource Center's 1991 count of children throughout the state, only 373 of these 1200 were reported by local school districts as receiving service. Only twenty-four school districts out of a hundred seventy-eight had some type of certified teacher of the blind. Yet a hundred four school districts requested materials from the resource center (which I can't explain).
If we are serving children in itinerant programs--and let me emphasize the fact that I believe in an array of services, and I believe that itinerant programs are appropriate for some children--but to say that that's the only service delivery system we have is where I really have some problems. Fred mentioned literacy. I would have loved to hear the speaker this morning who spoke on Braille literacy; I would love to continue that discussion. My issue about Braille literacy has to do with the single blind child in a fifty-mile radius who sees the teacher of the blind an hour a week. Let me tell you that that child is going to be illiterate. That's happening all over this country. That is not good itinerant services.[applause]
Let me share with you some comments from parents. I'm going to extract a couple of paragraphs from some letters from parents. This is one who wrote: "Immediately following elementary school, it was obvious in spite of everyone's high intentions mainstreaming was not working for Tom. A few missing elements were: (1) Most teachers lacked skills to work with students who read and write Braille. Braille is not a crash course. (2) Some classroom teachers refused to work with our son. (3) Adequate support services for teachers of blind students are not maintained. (4) Textbooks and materials are frequently unavailable. Tom shed tears over this and eventually developed the attitude that books were only for other children. (5) Appropriate P.E. classes were non-existent. (6) No instruction in independent living skills. (7) No teacher available with good mastery of Nemeth code Braille and abacus. (8) No orientation and mobility training available. No teacher available to teach Braille music. There are no visually impaired role models, teachers, or mentors. Please understand the heartache and struggle each item represents. The missing resources and services are scarce commodities. Protective legislation cannot make schools provide resources if they do not exist in sufficient quantity. Even more significantly for some students, social and emotional needs cannot be met in the traditional setting.
"My son was not learning what he needed to become a productive, independent, happy adult. He was aware of the way that differences cannot be mainstreamed. In eighth grade he chose not to run for student council again, `because they will have to vote for me. I am the only blind student.' Teachers instinctively expected less from him, and he acclimated by lowering his standards. Despite our determination to integrate Tom, his needs could not be met in the local system." This young man is now at a school for the blind.
Another letter from a parent: "John's acceptance at the school for the blind was his salvation. From the very start he was encouraged to work independently and do for himself. He wasn't allowed to just get by. He was expected to do his work like everyone else with help being there when it was needed. His classes are small with his classmates being in his age group. He has blossomed with the help of wonderful teachers and school staff. He has realized that he can learn, and that change has been remarkable. He does his homework without being told or assistance and is proud of his accomplishments. His self-esteem has soared. One of the hardest and most significant changes brought on by our son's transfer to the school for the blind was the separation adjustment we were forced to make. Until that time he and I had never been apart for any extended length of time. He made the adjustment quicker than I did. I am deeply, deeply grateful for the efforts of the houseparents who have to balance making the children feel comfortable and loved while encouraging them to be independent."
A third letter from a parent: "Mainstreaming should always be the goal whenever possible, but only in those situations where the child's education will not be compromised. I'm concerned that the concept of full inclusion without provisions for exceptions in the event that a child does require assistance outside the regular classroom will take us a step backward. Full inclusion has been defined as providing all special education and related services in the regular classroom. I do not believe that the needs of blind or visually impaired children can be adequately met in all instances by having to remain in the regular classroom."
These are letters from parents indicating that they too are very concerned about full inclusion and about the direction in which special education seems to be going today. Let me assure you that full inclusion is not a fad. Full inclusion will not go away. Full inclusion is being promoted by the federal government, by state governments, and by local school districts. Full inclusion to the zealot means: all means all. If we say full inclusion means every handicapped child, then we mean every child with a disability, not some. There is no footnote to the full inclusionists' definition. Full inclusion means, don't research it; just do it. All means all, and just do it, is full inclusion. I want to assure you--and some of my colleagues disagree with me on this--I am frightened by the full-inclusion movement. We need your help. We all need to be working together to make sure that we continue to have options for children who are blind.
The Texas Education Association in this state, my fellow Texans, has decided to monitor school districts on the basis of full inclusion. The school district will receive a lower rating if they send children to the school for the blind or if they pull out children from regular classrooms. We need to do something about that. We need to do it on the national level too.[applause]
Before I spend a couple of minutes on what should be, let me just try explaining something to you in a slightly different way, in terms of full inclusion. Public Law 94-142 set up a system, a four-stage system that determines the education of a child: identification, assessment, IEP development, and placement. Remember that--identification, assessment, IEP development, and placement. What full inclusionists say it should be is identification, placement, assessment, IEP development. So the child is assessed based on the placement decision that's already been made. That's full inclusion, folks, and that's pretty frightening.
Let me conclude by emphasizing to you the fact that the NFB and a number of other organizations have collaborated on a full- inclusion position statement that's very, very good. I hope all of you will read it. I hope you will take it to heart, and I hope you will help in whatever way you can individually and as groups, to get the message across as to what constitutes a quality education for blind children.
Many, many years ago parents of blind children and educators of these students discovered a very important fact--there is no one best educational placement for a blind child. However, there is a best placement for a particular child at a particular time in her or his life. If the education profession is to meet the needs of all children, then there must be a number of placement options. Children must be able to move back and forth within these placements, depending on their needs at a particular time. To offer only one option is to shoehorn kids. There is a tremendous difference between making a program fit a child and making a child fit a program.[applause]
The lesson we have learned in my thirty-five years in this profession is that, if inclusive education is to work, IEP development must be comprehensive and include all the needs of the child. Placement should never be determined by a general philosophic position. Placement should always be determined by the individual needs of each child. Only when a full array of placement options is available will there be assurance that each child's needs will be met.
Both of the previous excellent speakers spoke about full inclusion, but really the best definition, and the most concise definition, I've heard of full inclusion is by Dr. Jernigan. Dr. Jernigan refers to full inclusion as mainstreaming with a vengeance. I'd like to ask Dr. Jernigan if I could continue to quote him on that.
Perhaps I will shock some of you today when I say residential schools are a thing of the past. But, before you think I have lost my mind, I also want to add that residential schools are also very much a thing of the present and most definitely a very much needed provision in the future.
As a residential school superintendent nowadays, I have to be very honest; my colleagues and I sometimes feel apologetic. Others would have us think we run second-class operations, things of the past, dinosaurs on the verge of extinction. Rather I contend we are places of distinction, and therefore I make no apology. I am proud that in the past and today and clearly in the future these schools are and will continue to be valid, beneficial, and very necessary for kids. Who can deny the success of our many graduates, like so many of you in the audience today? Please do not consider any of my comments today as anti-public school. I worked in public schools, and I strongly believe that they definitely have their place also.
Residential schools today, though, unfortunately are considered placements of last resort. The presumption under the law is that public schools are considered the first and many times the only option. The playing field needs to be leveled so that residential schools can be viewed in the same positive light the public schools currently enjoy. Residential schools (please listen carefully to this because I feel very strongly about this) also need to be rightfully on the menu so that parents and others who make decisions can fully consider and ultimately choose this option if it is in the child's best interest.
In Indiana, unfortunately, we had the parent choice provision taken away by OSEP (the Office of Special Education Programs) last year at a time when President Bush was calling for parent choice in regular education as a method of reform. Taking choice away from parents of blind kids and giving it to parents of non-handicapped students is what I call adverse discrimination.[Applause] While school for the blind programs have adjusted and changed, many people's attitudes about them have not changed. Today many myths persist which negatively influence decision makers, but most disturbing to me is that many children are being excluded from attending these schools to the point that today only seven percent of blind children in our country attend schools for the blind.
I'd like to go over some of these myths that make the playing field unlevel. This first one is that residential schools segregate blind children from society. We are told by others, most of whom have never set foot on a school for the blind campus, that we are segregationists. Well this to me is a very negative and inflammatory word choice. These well-educated experts are advocates for severely handicapped individuals and are not trained in blindness. Yet they are more than very strongly pushing for elimination of residential schools and, as the other speakers have already said, even public school resource rooms. These full-inclusion initiatives are counter to federal law, which mandates a full array of services.
Think of this as an analogy: in medicine it would be gross malpractice if doctors removed any proven reliable treatment or medicine from their arsenal which would have the potential to benefit even one patient and they substituted an unproven drug. I contend we should be widening our options and not in any way reducing them. Education, as well as medicine, would be taking a step backwards by doing so.
Residential schools do not segregate or restrict in a discriminatory manner, but rather positively and purposefully bring together children as do science, math, and music magnet schools, which consolidate students with special interests and aptitudes. And, interestingly, magnet schools are being advanced as a way to improve America's schools. Yet, in spite of schools for the blinds' proven track record as very productive places for boosting self-image, confidence, and solid skills for future success, they continue to be underutilized and not given the respect I feel they deserve. Doctors separate people needing medical treatment in hospitals, so is it inappropriate that we at some times, for some students when they need specialized placements, do so in special schools?
I am extremely proud of the Committee on Joint Organizational Effort and the position paper which Dr. Hatlen mentioned. This position paper challenges very strongly the requirement in the law that says, to the maximum extent possible, handicapped children must be educated with non-handicapped students. I feel that blind children shouldn't avoid contact with other blind children and that such contact is clearly beneficial. This requirement just doesn't make sense to me, but I guess the lawmakers are a whole lot smarter than I am.
One parent said it best: "How dare the lawmakers tell me who my child's friends will be! Is my child someone who should be avoided by other children?" I have seen in my experience awfully good friendships and counseling going on between blind students that our Ph.D. psychologists couldn't begin to match.[applause]
A 1991 study showed that fifty percent of residential school students were integrated in public school programs, where they could have the best of both worlds. We are vastly under-utilizing our residential schools. We have some classrooms which are nearly empty at a time when blind children in public schools are not receiving all of the services specified in their IEP's. Both placements should be used to benefit the child. Many would agree that all blind children can clearly benefit from residential school some of the time and that some can benefit from residential schools all of the time.
Meaningful integration is very possible in segregated settings, and just because a child lives at home, attends a neighborhood school, and is in physical proximity to non- handicapped children, that doesn't necessarily mean that they are truly integrated.[applause] We are all aware of integrated public school students who are isolated islands in the mainstream, but our critics don't call this inappropriate isolation segregation. It is less important to me where children go to school than that, wherever they go, they get what they need when they need it in a positive climate.[applause]
Today we hear calls for full inclusion in schools, but I contend the goal needs to be full inclusion in society. For too long we have been preparing students for graduation when we should have been preparing them with skills for life.[applause] Without this solid foundation like Braille and mobility skills, positive integration into schools now or later in life becomes extremely difficult. Swimming teachers (and I used to be one when I was younger) have long since abandoned throwing their students into the deep end of the pool to teach them to swim without carefully developing prerequisite skills. But our policy makers keep over-zealously pushing integration before the regular education staff are trained, attitudes are adjusted, and the blind child has the skills to survive--much less to be successful. The standard must be thriving and purposefully going in a positive forward direction as opposed to just surviving or just keeping your head above water. Integration should never become submerging.
We must admit and also address the fact that we have large numbers of under-served students in many programs throughout our country that are advertised as comprehensive when they are not. Two hours of Braille instruction per week, or worse, per month is clearly an intolerable injustice.[applause] In many cases these students are being shortchanged, and fortunately a strong outcry from parents, consumers, and professionals is increasing in intensity. An Indiana parent summed it up beautifully for me. She said, "We need to decide if we want our kids to be social or to be educated."
There is another myth, that our schools are only for students with multiple disabilities. I've had parents come to our school after many, many years of public education and say we wish we could have sent our son or daughter earlier. You have high functioning students there, and our child could have thrived in your environment, but our local district kept telling us that your school was only for multi-handicapped children. There was a study done in 1985 that predicted that by 1991 all residential schools would be primarily for multi-handicapped students. Another study done last year showed that over forty-five percent of the students in residential schools are in academic programs and that over thirty-nine percent of these students went on to college.
Another myth is that residential schools are too expensive. We spend approximately $30,000 per child on a national average, and the public schools spend about $3,000 per child per year. Our per capita costs are high, yes, but we likewise offer more than bare bones service. Using another medical analogy, we don't seem to worry about the cost for medical treatment when we roll our child, our spouse, or ourselves in for life-saving surgery. Why do we keep letting our pocketbooks rather than our consciences drive our educational decisions? I'd rather pay now than have some of our students pay for it later in life.
Quality and intensive programs come with a price tag, and I contend most strongly that not learning to read and write Braille or other skills well, when they should be learned, to me qualifies most clearly as life-threatening. Would you agree?[applause]
Also myth number four: local programs are better than center-based programs. We don't have a college or university in every city or town across the United States; yet in our field we are trying, even in light of the personnel shortage, to apply the chicken-in-every-pot, car-in-every-garage, vision-program-in- each-public-school-building philosophy. When we centralize like this, I feel we are spreading our services so thinly that we can barely tell that the services exist.
Also myth number five: residential schools are old-fashioned. To that I want to say, yes, to the extent that we model, require, and encourage old-fashioned basic skills, values, and manners. On solid skills I'd have to say we are old- fashioned.
In conclusion I want to say that we have made many changes, and I only hope that we succeed in educating the public that we are proud places for children to be educated and also that public attitudes need to be changed so that children can have the benefit of all options for them. Also, as AER President, if I could just add this little plug right here. I am very optimistic about the Committee on Joint Organizational Effort (JOE), and I'm excited about the JOE position paper on inclusion. We are developing another position on categorical services, and I pledge very strong leadership in AER to coming together as a field, consumers and professionals. That is our goal; and, as we have been cooperatively doing recently, I hope that we can continue to make the progress we have been. Thank you very much.
I'd like to express my thanks to President Maurer for the invitation to be here today and to participate in the panel. You have heard three speakers previously go through many of the issues that deal with mainstreaming, schools for the blind, and full inclusion. Briefly, before we get into questions today, I would like to give you an example of what one state is doing to try to move the schools for the blind so that they can positively impact what we see as the needs in the future. How do we move from some of the old and current stereotypes to taking a pro-active stance in the education of the blind? As Dr. Bina was saying, so that we can get away from being apologetic?
One of the things we need to do together is to start addressing some major issues out there, full inclusion being one of them, and together attack that particular issue. If we do not, serious problems will face our children. The NFB must find more people like Fred Schroeder and Mrs. Cheadle. There need to be people with their dedication and vision in every state--people who will see that in the years ahead the education of blind children does not falter. I know that each and every one of you is up to that challenge.
Let me share with you some of the things that have started in Arizona. Some of them started prior to my arrival there in September, 1992. Approximately three years ago, during the time that Bruce Gardner from Arizona was on the Board of Directors for the Arizona Schools for the Deaf and Blind, the legislature of Arizona authorized the establishment of a pilot program of three regional cooperatives, which were to allow the Arizona State Schools for the Deaf and Blind to provide educational services in the local school districts. In the State of Arizona I am not only in charge of the School for the Blind; I hire teachers in the Northern Regional Cooperative, which is made up of thirty-one school districts. Those local school district teachers work for the Arizona School for the Blind, and they work with children in the local school districts in northern Arizona. We can be assured that our attitudes and the skills that we require of our students on the center-based campus are going to continue in those local school district programs. That program was started with the support and the advocacy of the National Federation of the Blind. That's what it means.
This was not an afterthought. This wasn't trying to start something and failing and coming to the NFB later. This was starting a process early. This past October we had only one regional cooperative. Our goal in Arizona is to have eight regional cooperatives. We had asked our legislature to establish two additional cooperatives. I went to the Arizona affiliate state meeting this past October, and they were kind enough to provide me with a resolution supporting our request to the legislature, and in March of this year, despite the fact that we're going through a major downsizing and having some major economic problems, with the support from the NFB there will be two additional regional cooperatives in the State of Arizona--one serving the Southeast and one serving the Southwest.[applause] We will be able to continue the work that Bruce Gardner, Jim Omvig, and many others in Arizona have started.
Part of what we need to talk about here is some of the actions that we're going to take for the future. We here must give you more information about full inclusion and our concerns about the adverse impact that it can have on our children. We can also share with you some things that do work. In Arizona prior to the start of the Northern Regional Cooperative, which operates out of Flagstaff, there were thirty-one school districts that were serving approximately sixty or seventy deaf or blind students, according to their records. If you're familiar with the geography of northern Arizona, it starts with the Grand Canyon and goes north to Utah and Colorado. It is a large area. In those thirty-one school districts covering northern Arizona, there were only two teachers of the deaf to cover tens of thousands of square miles, and there was only one part-time teacher of the blind to serve that geographical area. Today we are serving one hundred four students, sixty-three of them blind, with a staff of seventeen. I do not believe that Arizona was unique in having populations of students that were underserved. We are gathering the data that say, "Look folks, you cannot have one teacher of the blind." We talked today here about students getting an hour a week. I think students in northern Arizona were probably lucky to get one hour a year of instruction in Braille with those demands. This is something that schools for the blind can do, and these are things that are going on now. The future can be now. We can do better.
This is one of my favorite topics, and I could go on forever. But I know that there are some important questions that people would like to ask in the audience. I definitely want to ditto the earlier remarks of my distinguished colleagues here. There is a lot to do. I know together that we can do it. I thank you for inviting me here, and I look forward to answering your questions.[applause]
At the close of these presentations President Maurer said:
It occurred to me as I was listening to these panel members today that there is a solution to many of the problems we are discussing, in fact all of them. That solution has to do with a cooperative effort between the organized blind and the schools. If it doesn't happen, the problems will continue; if it does, we can solve anything coming. And I thought, "Somebody ought to say that, and Ralph Bartley got up and did."
by Curtis Chong
From the Editor: Curtis Chong is First Vice President of the National Federation of the Blind of Minnesota and President of the National Federation of the Blind in Computer Science. He is also a Federationist who is constantly mindful of the ways in which he can educate the public about blindness every day. This is the way he describes his latest adventure:
One day early in August of this year, a memorandum came across my computer terminal (the age of electronic mail has arrived with a vengeance). A project leader was seeking a meeting with me to discuss plans to make corporate computer systems accessible to "sight disabled" financial planners. Although I was pleased to meet with the project leader to discuss something which I felt was important--namely, enabling blind financial planners to use the computer systems of IDS Financial Services with existing screen reading technology--I cringed at the use of the term "sight disabled."
This was not the first corporate communication I had received which consciously avoided the use of the perfectly respectable term "blind." However, it was this last experience which prompted me to take some decisive action. I simply had had enough. I therefore sent the following note to one Julie Johnson, the person at IDS charged with helping the company comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
To: Juliann Johnson
From: Curtis Chong, Communications Software Group
Subject: The Word "Blind"
I am becoming concerned of late that corporate communications I am receiving feel it necessary to duck the use of the word blind. I have heard terms such as sightless, sight impaired, and other such nonsense being used.
As a person who is blind and who feels no shame at using the word blind, I am disturbed that people may be getting the impression that blind is an inappropriate term to use. This has to be stopped!
One person who is working with OP&D [Organizational Planning and Development] was kind enough to tell me that the training she received regarding the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) made it specifically clear that blind was a word to be avoided at all cost. Why?
At a recent convention of the National Federation of the Blind, the nation's largest organization of blind people, a resolution was passed which affirmed that the use of the term blind was a good thing to be encouraged at all levels. When I can get hold of a copy of the resolution, I will forward it to you.
Can you help? Every time someone refers to me as "sight impaired," "visually handicapped," "sight disabled," and the like, I have to grit my teeth in order not to come back with a caustic rejoinder. As you may know, I am planning a presentation for DAN [DisAbilities Employee Network] in September having to do specifically with blindness. One of the points I intend to make at that seminar is exactly the point I am making here--namely, that it is OK and even preferable for the term blind to be used when referring to persons who are legally or totally blind. There are individuals who are truly visually handicapped--meaning that they have a visual disability--but who are not classified as legally blind. For these individuals terms such as visually disabled and visually handicapped may (and I emphasize may) be appropriate.
All I know is that, when referring to my condition, the term blind is infinitely preferable to euphemisms that seek to avoid the use of a word with which a lot of people seem to be uncomfortable.
That is what my note said, and I can tell you that it took on a life of its own. Copies of it were transmitted around the organization to literally hundreds of individuals. Within two days of the time I sent out the note, statements of support began pouring into my electronic in-basket. Here are some representative samples:
To: Curtis Chong and Glenn
From: Jay McKinney
Subject: The Word Blind
Three cheers for Curt and his common sense. They are refreshing in this day and age. When can we get rid of other nonsensical, demeaning, politically correct terms like "people of color" and "differently abled"? These also have the opposite effect of that intended. They earn snickers, not respect.
To: Curtis Chong
From: Anna Ravenscroft, Administrative Assistant
Subject: The Word Blind
Thank you for the clarification. I appreciate your honesty and willingness to confront this issue. It seems to me that there are so many issues out there that considerate, conscientious people get caught in the middle of trying not to offend but not knowing what will or will not offend. With the plethora of terms out there, the temporarily-abled get pretty confused after a while. It's nice to have someone speak up and let us know what's okay and what's not.
To: Curtis Chong
From: Julie Johnson
Subject: The Word "Blind"
Curt, I think your message has taken on a life of its own. It has gotten passed around to pages of people via PROFs [IDS' electronic mail system]. Because of that I think the message has been spread and will impact many people across the organization. You raise an important point and one which people have been struggling with for quite some time when addressing disability issues. Your feedback and perspective on the issues are very important and should be shared with the group when you do your DAN presentation.
I have gone to many different seminars on the ADA and other
employment law issues, and to tell you the truth, each one tells you something
different, and it makes one hesitant and unsure of what to say. I'd also like
to say that some people are hung up on terminology, and others have an attitude
like yours and are comfortable with being referred to as blind. Any feedback
In late August someone from Corporate Communications called me to ask if I would mind having my note on the word blind printed in Contact Magazine, the corporate publication of IDS Financial Services. Naturally, I said that I wouldn't mind in the least, so my note was ultimately published in the Opinions section of Contact Magazine for the month of September, 1993.
What effect did all of this correspondence and exchange of information have? The overwhelming flood of support I received has convinced me that average corporate employees felt glad and relieved that, finally, someone had the courage to stand up and tell them that it was OK to use the word blind within the company--and outside of the company, for that matter. Because they felt uncomfortable using the term blind, they naturally assumed that we, the blind, would feel the same. When they discovered that a blind person within their own organization was willing to stand up and adopt a strong position against euphemisms, many of their doubts and fears could not help being laid to rest.
by Sharon Gold
From the Editor: With the support and guidance of the National Federation of the Blind of California, the state's vendors have recently won an important right, one that may be of significance to vendors in other states. Sharon Gold explains what happened and what the vendors won. Those in other areas having trouble with nominee agency personnel inclined to take too active an interest in Vendor Policy Committee election results should take note. The California victory may well be useful to you. Here is what Sharon Gold has to say:
In 1936 Congress adopted the Randolph-Sheppard Act to establish a priority for blind persons to operate vending facilities on federal property. This was during a time when employment for blind people was virtually nonexistent. As it still is today, the program was federally funded and administered by state agencies for the blind, which trained and licensed qualified blind persons to work in vending stands. It promised jobs for blind people; but in 1940, when the National Federation of the Blind was founded, only a few blind persons across the country had so far been able to establish businesses under the Randolph-Sheppard Act.
In the years to follow, the program created by the Randolph-Sheppard Act grew, and vending stands that sold candy, cigarettes, and magazines appeared in the lobbies of federal buildings throughout the nation. The nature of the contacts between the blind vendors and the personnel of the state rehabilitation agencies administering the program encouraged relationships in which agency personnel could easily control the lives of the blind vendors, who depended on the program for their livelihood.
Since its founding in 1940, one of the major efforts of the National Federation of the Blind has been to protect the rights of blind vendors. To ensure that vendors would have a voice in their own program, in 1977 the NFB proposed an amendment to the Randolph-Sheppard Act to have Congress include a statutory provision for the creation of a committee of blind vendors within each state licensing agency. The purpose of this committee is to allow vendors elected by their peers to work in concert with the licensing agency in the management of the program.
When the amendment to the Randolph-Sheppard Act was adopted, the California Business Enterprises Program (BEP), like the other state programs, was required to establish a vendors policy committee. Districts were defined, and a vendor was elected to represent each. Unfortunately, since the establishment of the California Vendors Policy Committee (CVPC), the BEP administration has viewed the committee as a threat to its power over the program and thus has spent a good deal of effort and energy controlling the membership and work of the committee, rather than allowing it to be truly representative of the interests of the blind vendors.
In December, 1991, a regular election of the delegates to serve on the CVPC for the ensuing two years was conducted. It was administered by the Business Enterprises Program and the Client Assistance Program, both of which are under the umbrella of the California Department of Rehabilitation. Many vendors were displeased with the procedures established for the election. Questions arose about the Department's receipt of the ballots, the handling and certification of those ballots, and the counting of the votes.
Following the election, some of the vendors filed grievances. Although state and federal statutes provide that a vendor may grieve "any action" taken by a licensing agency concerning the operation of the vending program, the BEP made an arbitrary decision to prevent the vendors from filing their grievances by proclaiming them to be "challenges" rather than "grievances." There is no provision for "challenges" in either state or federal law. By renaming the "grievances" as "challenges," the Department of Rehabilitation and its Business Enterprises Program prevented the vendors from following the usual grievance procedure, which included the right of each grievant to file for a full evidentiary hearing before the Rehabilitation Appeals Board.
One of the grievants was Frank Rompal, Jr., President of the Merchants Chapter of the NFB of California. Mr. Rompal brought the matter to the attention of Region IX of the Rehabilitation Services Administration. The Commissioner, Gilbert Williams, advised William Tainter, Director of the California Department of Rehabilitation, that the Department was in violation of state and federal statutes when it failed to accept the vendors' grievances and that "a full evidentiary hearing process must be available as a condition of the Randolph-Sheppard Act, its implementing regulations, and your State licensing agreement under which you are authorized to fund and administer the Business Enterprise Program." This directive forced the Department to reopen the grievance process concerning the election. As a result forty-four vendors filed grievances against the Business Enterprises Program for its election procedures.
In response to the forty-four individual grievances that were filed, the administration of the Business Enterprises Program made an arbitrary decision to consolidate forty-two of them and left individual grievances standing for Frank Rompal, Jr., and Tom Linker, Jr., Secretary of the NFB of California Merchants Chapter. Pursuant to California regulations, an informal conference was arranged for each of the three grievances. Notwithstanding the fact that the grievants resided and worked in every part of the state, the informal conference was scheduled for Sacramento in an apparent effort to prevent the vendors from attending the conference. The informal conference was to be tape-recorded, and the BEP planned to be represented by legal counsel. Both of these procedures may be part of a full evidentiary hearing but are not customarily a part of an informal conference.
The grievants and their representative refused to participate in the unusual informal conference, and instead the grievants filed for full evidentiary hearings before the Rehabilitation Appeals Board. The hearings were scheduled; but, before they could take place, the California Department of Rehabilitation issued new regulations, taking full evidentiary hearings on grievances filed by blind vendors out of the jurisdiction of the Rehabilitation Appeals Board and placing the responsibility for such proceedings within the jurisdiction of the California Office of Administrative Hearings.
The three cases were assigned to an administrative law judge. At the request of the grievants, Judge Denny Davis set a preliminary hearing and mandatory settlement conference for June 24, 1993, which was eighteen months after the first grievances were filed and eighteen months following the disputed election. During this hearing a settlement was negotiated between the representatives of the Department of Rehabilitation and its Business Enterprises Program and me as the representative for the grievants.
The Settlement Agreement provides that the vendors will cease all claims against the Department of Rehabilitation in exchange for the following: (1) the Department will provide for the biennial election of delegates in a fair and unintrusive manner; (2) to ensure fairness and unintrusiveness, the Department will contract with a totally independent third party to handle all aspects of the election, including the mailing of nomination forms, the mailing of ballots, and the receipt and counting of the completed ballots; (3) the Department will cover the expenses for the third-party administration of the CVPC election from funds budgeted to administer the BEP; (4) Department and BEP staff will be in no way involved with the election procedures and will refrain from influencing vendors to seek election and from encouraging or discouraging vendors in casting their votes; (5) the Department will expeditiously handle all grievances, reviews, and hearings in accordance with state and federal laws and regulations; (6) when an informal review requires a conference between a vendor and the department, the conference will be held at a time and location convenient to the vendor, and no legal counsel will be present on behalf of either party; however, the vendor may bring an advocate of his or her choosing; and (7) if common issues and judicial rules allow for the consolidation of a grievance at the full evidentiary hearing level, the Department will pay from funds allocated for the administration of the Business Enterprises Program all reasonable travel expenses for vendors required to travel to the hearing, including a prepaid travel ticket, so as to afford every vendor an equal opportunity to participate in his or her hearing.
As this article is being written in late July, the Business Enterprises Program has just contracted with the County of Sacramento, Voter Registration and Elections, to administer the 1993 statewide elections for the California Vendors Policy Committee. The County will handle the verification of districts and mailing addresses; the nomination process; and the distribution, collection, certification, and counting of the ballots.
Now there will be third-party administration of the CVPC election by officials qualified and accustomed to handling voting by mail. This change in supervision of the election process, together with the termination of influence in the nomination and election process by BEP administrators, should make the election fair to all vendors and should be a significant step in returning the California Vendors Policy Committee to the blind vendors working in the California Business Enterprises Program. In case vendors in other states find themselves in a similar situation, with Business Enterprises Program officials taking unfair advantage of them in the election of representatives to their Vendors Policy Committees, here is the text of the California settlement:
BEFORE THE OFFICE OF ADMINISTRATIVE HEARINGS STATE OF CALIFORNIA
OAH Cases Nos. R-2, R-3,
In the Matter of:
Tom Tabar, et al., Appellants,
DEPARTMENT OF REHABILITATION, Business Enterprises Program,
In the Matter of:
Frank Rompal, Jr., Appellant,
DEPARTMENT OF REHABILITATION,
Business Enterprises Program, Respondent.
In the Matter of:
Tom Linker, Jr., Appellant,
DEPARTMENT OF REHABILITATION, Business Enterprises Program,
1. Tom Tabar, et al.; Frank Rompal, Jr.; and Tom Linker, Jr., appellants, and the California Department of Rehabilitation Business Enterprises Program (BEP), respondent, enter into this agreement to settle all claims relating to or arising out of these proceedings.
2. Appellants agree to cease all claims against the Department of Rehabilitation arising out of the 1991 election of delegates to the California Vendors Policy Committee (CVPC) and the original grievances that were filed during the period of time between December, 1991, and February, 1992, the subsequent grievances filed in September, 1992, and the Requests for Fair Hearing filed in November, 1992.
3. In accordance with 20 U.S.C. Section 107b-1, 34 C.F.R. Section 395.14, California Welfare and Institutions Code Section 19638, and Section 7222 of Title 9 of the California Code of Regulations, respondent agrees to provide for the biennial election of the California Vendors Policy Committee in a manner that is fair and unintrusive. To assure fairness and unintrusiveness, the respondent will contract with a third-party totally independent of the California Department of Rehabilitation for the administration of the election (e.g. the Office of the Sacramento County Registrar of Voters). The third party will handle all aspects of the election process including, but not limited to, the distribution and collection of nominating forms, the distribution and collection of ballots, the certification of the authenticity and the timeliness of receipt of the mailed-in ballots, and the counting of said secret ballots.
4. Respondent agrees to expend funds budgeted for the administration of the Business Enterprises Program to cover all expenses for the third-party administration of the biennial election of the delegates to the California Vendors Policy Committee.
5. Respondent agrees to assume a neutral position with respect to the delegate nominees and to provide written notification to all Department of Rehabilitation and Business Enterprises Program staff that all personnel are to be in no way involved with the CVPC election procedure and to otherwise refrain from influencing the outcome of the election (i.e. to refrain from encouraging or discouraging any vendor to seek election to a delegate position and to refrain from encouraging or discouraging any vendor in the casting of his or her vote).
6. Respondent agrees to abide by 20 U.S.C. Section 107d-1, 34 C.F.R. Section 395.13(a), California Welfare and Institutions Code Section 19635, and Sections 7227, 7227.1, and 7227.2 of Title 9 of the California Code of Regulations, in the processing and expeditious handling of grievances, informal administrative reviews, and full evidentiary hearings for all licensed vendors.
7. When an informal review requires a conference between the vendor and the respondent, the conference shall be held at a time and location convenient to the vendor. Both parties shall refrain from having legal counsel present at the conference so as to allow for the greatest opportunity for full discussion and resolution of the grievance. Nothing in this paragraph shall be construed as preventing a vendor from appearing with an advocate of his/her choosing.
8. In accordance with Section 7227.2 of Title 9 of the California Code of Regulations, full evidentiary hearings shall be held at a time and place "accessible to both the hearing officer and the licensee/vendor and at a geographical location convenient to the licensee/vendor." If more than one vendor has filed a grievance with common issues and judicial rules allow for the consolidation of the grievance at the full evidentiary hearing level causing a single location to be established for the hearing which is not in the geographical proximity to all licensee/vendor grievants, respondent shall pay the reasonable travel expenses for all licensee/vendors required to travel for the hearing from funds allocated for the administration of the Business Enterprises Program. The Department agrees to purchase all needed travel tickets in advance of the hearings to afford every licensee/vendor the equal opportunity to participate in his or her hearing. A vendor receiving a prepaid travel ticket and not attending the hearing must immediately return said ticket to respondent. All other travel and per diem expenses shall be reimbursed in accordance with the applicable state rules.
Date: June 24, 1993
Sharon Gold, Authorized
Representative for Tom Tabar, et al.;
Frank Rompal, Jr., and Tom Linker, Jr.
Brenda Premo, Deputy Director
Independent Living Services Division
California Department of Rehabilitation
John Erickson, Acting Administrator
Business Enterprises Program
California Department of Rehabilitation
Gwynne Pratt Bacigaluppi,
California Department of Rehabilitation
by Barbara Pierce
With each July comes the mid-year report of NAC (the National Accreditation Council for Agencies Serving the Blind and Visually Handicapped). The list of member agencies this year continues to tell the same story as did the year-end list in 1992. (See the May, 1993, issue of the Braille Monitor.) What follows is a brief summary of the data we can glean from the NAC mid-year 1993 list of members.
From NAC's point of view, there was one bit of good news during the first half of 1993. Two agencies were accredited by NAC for the first time. These were the Center for the Visually Impaired, Daytona Beach, Florida, and the Greater Pittsburgh Guild for the Blind, the agency directed by Dr. Richard Welsh, President of the NAC Board of Trustees. Since Dr. Welsh announced in February of 1992 that his agency was about to become a member of NAC, we have been waiting for a year and a half for this name to appear on the list. In addition, during the first six months of 1993 four NAC member agencies appear to have accepted reaccreditation for at least four years. These are the Miami Lighthouse for the Blind; Royal Maid, Mississippi; Kansas City Association (now Alphapointe Association); and the Catholic Guild for the Blind, New York.
At the same time, however, four current NAC members (including two that severed their connection with NAC in the middle of their terms of accreditation) decided not to accept reaccreditation. The four were the Northeastern Association for the Blind at Albany, New York (actually scheduled for reaccreditation in June of 1996); the Jewish Guild for the Blind, New York (accreditation not scheduled to expire until June of 1994); the Mississippi Division of Vocational Rehabilitation for the Blind; and the Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired.
This brings down to seventy-eight the number of NAC member agencies in the United States. Of a total of 130 agencies that have ever been willing to affiliate themselves with NAC, fifty- two (forty percent) have now thought better of it and left. This means that of the 500 agencies serving the blind that NAC itself proclaimed as its universe for accreditation, only twenty-six percent have ever been associated with it; and the number of those currently affiliated has now fallen to 15.6 percent.
Twelve member agencies were scheduled for reaccreditation during the first half of 1993, according to NAC's year-end list for 1992. As we have seen, one of these left, and four accepted reaccreditation. Of the remaining seven, two (the Savannah Association for the Blind and the Toledo Sight Center) had their memberships extended until December of 1994. Two more (Guiding Eyes for the Blind and the Oklahoma League for the Blind) were extended one year to June of 1994. And three (the Alabama Institute for Deaf and Blind, Independence for the Blind- Tallahassee, and the Visually Impaired Center-Flint, Michigan) had their reaccreditations postponed to December of 1993.
According to the December 31, 1992, NAC list, the accreditations of twenty agencies were scheduled to expire during the second half of 1993. Of these, one (Mississippi's state vocational rehabilitation agency) has dropped its affiliation, and five more have been postponed until sometime in 1994: St. Joseph's School for the Blind (New Jersey), June, 1994; Wisconsin School for the Blind, June, 1994; Foundation for Blind Children (Arizona), December, 1994; Georgia Industries for the Blind, December, 1994; and Illinois Bureau of Rehabilitation Services for the Blind, December, 1994. Including the three agencies that were pushed back to the second half of 1993, there are now seventeen member agencies scheduled for evaluation before December 31 of this year. Considering that NAC apparently managed to evaluate only six agencies (two new and four reaccredited) during the first half of the year, it seems unlikely that it will be able to handle the pile-up. Meanwhile, NAC's repeated claim that it makes a periodic assessment of the services performed by its member agencies and that this ongoing surveillance guarantees excellence is revealed ever more clearly as the sham it has always been.
Here is the list of the seventeen agencies slated to undergo reaccreditation before the end of the year: Alabama Institute for Deaf and Blind; Arkansas School for the Blind; Lions Blind Center, Oakland, California; Sacramento Society for the Blind; Center for the Partially Sighted, Santa Monica, California; Florida School for the Blind; Independence for the Blind- Tallahassee; Visually Impaired Persons Center, Fort Myers, Florida; Georgia Academy for the Blind; Illinois School for the Blind; Wichita Industries for the Blind; Visually Impaired Center-Flint, Michigan; Duluth Lighthouse (Minnesota); Mississippi School for the Blind; Oklahoma Division of Visual Services; Tennessee Volunteer Blind Industries; and Wisconsin Industries for the Blind.
NAC member agencies can be divided into four groups: schools for the blind, state vocational rehabilitation agencies, workshops on the National Industries for the Blind/General Council of Workshops for the Blind list, and everything else-- which can be loosely characterized as agencies that are either (a) private regional or (b) city-based. With the latest additions and deletions, the sub-group figures now look like this:
* Twenty schools out of a total of seventy-one (twenty-eight percent) are still on the NAC list. Thirty-four percent of all the schools ever accredited by NAC have now thought better of that affiliation and dissolved it.
* Twenty-one workshops out of eighty (twenty-six percent) are still accredited. Forty-eight percent of all workshops ever accredited, nineteen of forty, have now left NAC.
* Five out of fifty-one state vocational rehabilitation agencies (just under ten percent) are currently affiliated with NAC. Only thirteen such agencies were ever accredited, and eight of them have disassociated themselves, which is sixty-two percent. The last-ditch five are Arkansas, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, and Oklahoma. Oklahoma's term expires in December of 1993; Florida's and Illinois's expire in December of 1994 now that Illinois has been given an extension.
* In the catch-all category, thirty-two agencies out of a total of seventy-eight (forty-one percent) are still in the NAC fold. This means that fifteen out of the total of forty-seven regional agencies ever associated with NAC (thirty-two percent) have now gone their own way.
A total of nineteen states can now boast a NAC-free environment. Eighteen more have only one NAC-accredited agency. And only fifteen have more than one. This takes into account fifty states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. Of the fifteen states with more than one NAC-accredited agency, seven account for half of all NAC agencies in the United States. They are Florida, ten; New York, six; Georgia, five; Illinois, five; Pennsylvania, five; Ohio, four; and Tennessee, four.
The National Accreditation Council (at this stage the name seems ironic) continues to cling to existence by every desperate measure it can take. As the larger and better known agencies fall away, attempts are made to replace them with the smaller and more obscure. Even so, with every semiannual report, NAC's claim to plausibility--never mind professional integrity--becomes more precarious. As this article goes to press, groups that formerly supported NAC are meeting to discuss new initiatives in accreditation. One is left with the sense that NAC is a ghost at the accreditation table which everyone else wishes would quietly disappear.
One of the presentations at the Mid-Winter Conference of the National Association of Blind Students in February, 1993, was a panel of three people discussing the National Federation of the Blind adult rehabilitation centers. The presenters were Diane McGeorge, Director of the Colorado Center for the Blind and member of the Board of Directors of the National Federation of the Blind; Ollie Cantos, then a student at the Louisiana Center for the Blind and member of the Board of Directors of the National Association of Blind Students, and now its president; and Jennifer Lehman, then a student at BLIND, Inc., and President of the Minnesota Association of Blind Students. Each brought a personal perspective to this discussion. Here is what they had to say:
Over and over again today I have heard presenters say in various ways that if you intend to compete and succeed and genuinely be a player in life, you must have the necessary skills and a competitive edge. It may come as a shock to some of you, but as a blind person you had better be just a cut above. You can tell me that it isn't fair, but nobody ever said that life was fair.
One of my favorite parts of these conferences is "The Young and the Skill-less," because there is so much common sense as well as humor in those little plays. But look at the people who performed in the episode we saw today. I believe that one hundred percent of them have been students, teachers, or counselors at one of the three NFB adult training centers. And they show it. When you have the opportunity day in and day out, week in and week out, morning, noon, and night to have someone confront you with "What do you mean that's good enough? That is not good enough; you can do better than that," you can't help beginning to do better than that.
Recently one of our students came into my office to tell me exactly what was wrong with the Colorado Center. That's all right; any student is free to do that. I told him that every center is shaped by all the people who are a part of it, not just the staff. Each student brings his or her unique perspective, which he then proceeded to give me. In short he thought we were doing a pretty rotten job; center students conclude this from time to time. The heart of his complaint was that we just pushed too hard. We expected more than was reasonable. The constant pressure to stretch and change old attitudes demanded too much of people. People, he said, needed to be COMFORTABLE. I am about to declare that the C word and get it out of the language! In my opinion that's what's wrong with about ninety-seven percent of blind people; other folks have been making us comfortable for years. You don't get anywhere being comfortable. We make the strides forward in our lives when we push against that edge of comfort.
That is what good center training is all about, and that is what separates our centers from traditional rehabilitation training. I tell prospective students that we are not traditional, that we are innovative, and they say, "Yes, I know." But they haven't a clue--they haven't a clue, until they get there. The same thing happens when I hire summer staff. I tell them what I expect, and they say, "No problem." But it can be a problem when you have several junior or senior high kids who don't want to go rock climbing and you have to step out and be the role model even if you're scared to death. But it adds that sharp edge to your self-confidence. That's what NFB centers do for you, and that in turn provides the key to success.
I want to say one last thing. Somehow we must get across to people that it is respectable to attend one of our NFB centers. It does not broadcast the message that you are not a competent blind person. A belief is abroad in this land that, if you decide to go to a center, you must have some fault, some weakness, that there must be some areas that really need a lot of work--you can't cut up your meat; you can't butter your bread; you fell down the stairs because you didn't use your cane properly. That's crazy! The smartest people, the ones who really want that competitive edge, are the ones who decide to take the time out to come to one of the NFB centers.
Of course we work on skills, but the real emphasis is on helping people get to the point where they aren't afraid to get out there and do what they want to. Every single one of us has come from the same place. Not everybody has the courage to stand up and admit it, but I do. And I know a lot of other leaders of the Federation who will say, "There was a time when I backed away from doing things because I was afraid, but my involvement in the NFB is what got me over it." My involvement with the NFB and my experience in developing and running an NFB training center lead me every day of the world to question my own attitudes: Am I selling myself short? Am I selling the students short? Am I not expecting the highest goals? That edge of expectation is what we all need to develop if we are going to be successful. The key to success is pushing the edge; the key to success is not always looking for comfort and the way out; and the key to success is the National Federation of the Blind.
Several days ago I went to a Chinese restaurant for dinner. When I broke open the fortune cookie at the end of the meal, it said, "Yes, do it with confidence!" That is the perfect summation of the philosophy of the NFB training centers. Last year at this time I was struggling with the decision of whether or not to take a year out of my life, delaying law school, to attend the Louisiana Center for the Blind. I had been pretty successful in college, so I wondered if I couldn't go on to graduate school using the same techniques. I knew I had to learn Braille, of course, but perhaps I could work on that on my own. But in the end I decided to go to Louisiana. I must tell you that it has been the most incredible experience of my life.
Every day is full of classes, each of which lasts two hours and is filled with hard work on various skills. But in addition we spend four hours a week, students and staff alike, discussing issues connected with blindness, and we struggle to find ways of applying what we learn to our own lives. This is revolutionary. This philosophy becomes the foundation that allows us to put the rest of what we learn to full use.
For me as a blind person with some useable vision, wearing sleepshades during my training has been very important. I know that lots of professionals think that sleepshades are unnecessary, even foolish. But my experience has taught me that working under sleepshades has enabled me to gain the maximum benefit from the alternative techniques I am learning. In home economics, for example, I could use vision to help me light the stove or determine whether or not the water or oil was hot enough, but putting my head down close enough to see would be dangerous. I never knew how many alternative techniques there are. For the two years I have been a member of the Federation I have been told that blindness can be reduced to the level of a physical nuisance, and I believed it. But learning these skills has brought home to me the real truth of this statement.
Before I came to the Louisiana Center, I thought of myself as confident and fairly competent, but my training is making me truly competent and therefore genuinely confident. Sometime in the coming months my training at the center will end, but in a real sense it will never end. The NFB training centers open their students up to possibilities that we would never otherwise have had the courage to consider. To those of you who may be thinking about attending one of these centers, I would encourage you in the strongest terms to go for it. Certainly you will learn new skills that will be invaluable, but you will also learn to live life in a whole new way. Like me you will find that this is the biggest blessing of your entire life.
Imagine standing at the bottom of a giant canyon and looking up at the world above. There are two ways to get yourself out: one looks smooth and easy, but everything along the route is the same, and you can't actually tell if the path makes it to the top. The other path is rocky and steep. It looks difficult, but you can see that it goes to the top and that there will be spectacular scenery along the way. Last year my life resembled this canyon. I could have kept living my life the way I had been- -coasting along, letting other people and situations shape me. Or I could choose the challenge and stimulation of becoming a student at BLIND, Inc., in Minneapolis. Eventually I chose BLIND, Inc., because I got tired of always taking the easy way out.
I was born in Watertown, Wisconsin, where I was the first blind person to attend public school. In fact, I was the first blind person in the whole town. My parents expected me to go to public school and to do a lot of things. They are great parents, but there were some things that they didn't expect me to do. They assumed that I would get good grades, which I did, and take part in extra-curricular activities, which I also did. But I wasn't expected to run to the grocery store or cook a meal. I could put something into the oven for my mother, but I was not to get close to the open flame of the burners.
When I went places with my friends, I was not expected to use a cane and be responsible for myself. I was to hang on to someone's elbow because that was easier. I grew up relying on other people. Yet I thought of myself as an independent blind person. I told myself that I was normal. After all, my friends were sighted, and I could go everywhere with them. Somehow I failed to notice that my mobility method was to find someone who was going where I wanted to go and hang on to them so I could get there.
Sometimes I realized how unsatisfactory this method was. I got tired of hunting for people who were going--or whom I could convince that they wanted or were willing to go--where I needed to go. It could get very complicated, so sometimes I didn't go. That sacrifice seemed a lot easier than learning to use a cane and looking conspicuous and perhaps hitting something with the tip. And it was certainly better than getting a little lost, which seemed scary.
I graduated from high school and got ready for college. I knew that life on campus would be different. I would have to learn more about how to use a cane. For one thing, I had to get myself to classes. But I hated using that cane, and whenever I could, I quickly folded it up and stuck it in my purse so no one would notice it. When I was getting ready to go to college, a mobility specialist came to teach me routes--how to get to this class and how to get to that one. No matter where I wanted to go, he always began at my dorm because it was easier for him to teach me to find the cafeteria or a classroom building, for example, from a single starting point. It wasn't important to him that I be able to find one building from another. His idea was that I should learn one route to each building and be able to reverse it in order to get back again.
When I got to campus in September, there was construction on one of my routes, and I panicked. Very quickly I found a person who was going to the class in that building, and I was very friendly to her because I needed her help. Of course I never admitted that motive to anybody, least of all myself.
That's how things went for me until I got to my first National Federation of the Blind convention. Suddenly I was among thousands of blind people, and there was no way to manipulate them into helping me because there was no one around who could see. When I listened to them talk, they were discussing doing things I would have loved to do for myself. The thought crossed my mind that perhaps I could learn to do these things too, but then I rejected the idea. I was fine the way I was even though I couldn't cook or go to the store.
Then one day in January of last year I was walking back to my dormitory on campus. It was snowing hard. A friend had dropped me off in the parking lot, which is only about fifty feet from the door, if you go the right way. But I wasn't going the right way; I wandered in circles for a half hour because I didn't want to admit to anyone that I didn't know my way around this very small campus. That was the night I decided that I needed to go to BLIND, Inc. I needed to stop being afraid to go places because I couldn't find my way back. I had to stop depending on everyone else to do things for me and to show me what to do. I didn't know what kind of career I could have. I told my dad that I wanted to be a lawyer, and he said, "Oh you can't do that; you'd never be able to read all that stuff." I accepted what he said, but I knew that there had to be something different.
So after a lot of wavering I did come to BLIND, Inc., and I was right; there is a difference. It's a different world out there when you take control of your life and start to shape things for yourself. Now, if I have an errand to do, I go do it. If I want to ask someone to come with me because I enjoy the company, that's great, but I don't have to do it because I need them to get me there.
I want to say to any of you who may be considering going to a center, there is nothing wrong with you. There is something wrong with you if you are constantly selling yourself short, staying home, being alone, or saying I can't do that because I'm blind and I don't have the skills. If you don't have the skills, go some place where you can get them.
PURPOSE OF CONTEST
The purpose of the NFB's annual Braille reading contest is to encourage blind school children to read more Braille. It is just as important for blind children to be literate as it is for other children. Good readers can have confidence in themselves and their abilities to learn and to adapt to new situations throughout their lifetimes. Braille is a viable alternative to print, yet many blind children are graduating from our schools with poor Braille skills and low expectations for themselves as Braille readers. They do not know that Braille readers can be competitive with print readers. The NFB's Braille reading contest helps blind children realize that reading Braille is fun and rewarding.
WHO CAN ENTER THE CONTEST
Blind school age children from kindergarten through the twelfth grade are eligible to enter. The student competes in one of five categories. The first category is the print to Braille beginning reader. This category is for former or current print readers who began to learn and use Braille within the past two years. This includes: 1. formerly sighted children who became blind after they mastered print, and 2. partially-sighted print readers who are learning Braille. (NOTE: Kindergartners and first-graders are NOT eligible for the print to Braille category.) The other categories are: grades K-1; 2-4; 5-8; and 9-12. Students in ungraded programs should select the category which most closely matches their age and performance level.
PRIZES FOR THE CONTEST
First-, second-, and third-place winners are selected from each of the five categories. All winners receive a cash prize, a special certificate, and a distinctive NFB Braille Readers Are Leaders T-shirt. In each category first-place winners receive $75.00, second-place winners $50.00, and third-place winners $25.00. All contestants receive a Braille certificate and a special token for participating in the contest. Schools are encouraged to schedule public presentations of the certificates. Alternatively, presentations may be made in the classroom, or at the local National Federation of the Blind Chapter meeting, or in some other appropriate setting. Members of the National Federation of the Blind will award the certificates and other prizes whenever possible.
MOST IMPROVED BRAILLE READER
Special recognition will be given to the top five contestants, regardless of category, who demonstrate the most improvement over their performance in the previous year's contest. To be considered for the Most Improved Braille Reader award the contestant must enter the contest for two consecutive years and cannot be a winner in the current, or any previous, Braille Readers are Leaders contest. Winners of the Most Improved Braille Reader award receive ten dollars ($10.00).
RULES FOR THE CONTEST
Winners will be chosen based on the number of Braille pages read. The one who reads the largest number of Braille pages will be the first-place winner; the second largest the second-place winner; and the third largest the third-place winner. The completed contest entry form must be received by the judges no later than February 15, 1994. Contestants must submit with the entry forms a print list of the materials read. Entry forms without this list will be returned to the sender. This list must contain the following information: 1. student's name and contest category; 2. title of book or magazine; 3. magazine date; 3. author of book or article; 4. number of Braille pages read in each book, magazine, or article; 5. total number of pages read; and 6. signature of the certifying authority.
The certifying authority is responsible for: verifying that the student read the Braille material listed and that the material was read between November 1, 1993, and February 1,1994; filling out and sending in the contest entry form in an accurate, complete, and timely fashion; assisting the student in finding Braille materials to read for the contest.
Teachers, librarians, and parents may serve as certifying authorities. The certifying authority must also be prepared to cooperate if the contest judges have any questions or need additional information about an entry. All decisions of the judges are final.
For more information contact: Mrs. Sandy Halverson, 403 West 62nd Terrace, Kansas City, Missouri 64113; evenings: (816) 361-7813; or Mrs. Barbara Cheadle, National Federation of the Blind, 1800 Johnson Street, Baltimore, Maryland 21230; day: (410) 747-3472 or (410)659-9314.
1. What if I didn't know about the contest until after it began. Can I still enter? YES
2. If I enter late, can I still count the Braille pages I have read since November 1? YES, if your certifying authority will verify that you read those pages.
3. Can I count my Braille Textbooks? NO
4. Can I count textbooks if they are not the textbooks I am now using for my regular classwork? YES.
5. What if I don't finish reading a book? Can I count the pages that I did read? YES. However, be sure to note this on the entry form when you list that book.
6. Can supplemental reading books to beginning reading series be counted for the contest? YES.
7. What constitutes a Braille page? EACH side of an embossed piece of paper is considered one page. If you read both sides, then you have read two pages. This is true even if there are only two Braille lines on one side. On the other hand, you can only count the pages you have actually read. If a book has 35 pages, but you just read 10 of them, then you can only count 10 pages.
8. Can I count title pages, tables of contents, Brailled descriptions of illustrations, etc.? YES
9. I have to transcribe books for my beginning reader. Most of these books have only a few words on a print page. If the print book has more pages than my Braille transcription, how do I count pages for the contest? For the purposes of this contest, the number of Braille pages counted per book should never be less than the number of print pages in that book. This is so even if the teacher has transcribed the entire book onto one Braille page. To avoid confusion we suggest that the books be transcribed page for page--one Braille page for each print page--whenever space permits.
NATIONAL FEDERATION OF THE BLIND
BRAILLE READERS ARE LEADERS CONTEST
November 1, 1993 to February 1, 1994
Mail entry to:
Mrs. Sandy Halverson
403 West 62nd Terrace,
Kansas City, Missouri 64113
Address City State Zip
Parent's Name Phone (Home) (Work)
Certifying Authority: Name Address
Position: Parent [ ] Teacher [ ] Librarian [ ]
City State Zip Phone (Home) (Work)
School Name Address City State Zip Phone
[ ] YES [ ] NO Did you enter last year's contest (1992-93)?
[ ] YES [ ] NO Have you been a winner in a previous Braille Readers are Leaders contest?
Category: (Check one)
[ ] Beginning Print to Braille
(This category is for former or current print readers, grades 2-12, who began to learn and use Braille within the past two years.)
[ ] Kindergarten and First
[ ] Second through Fourth Grades
[ ] Fifth through Eighth Grades
[ ] Ninth through Twelfth Grades
One of the prizes for
the contest is a special T-shirt.
If you should be a winner, what size would you require? (Check one)
Children's: S (6-8) _______ M (10-12) ______ L (14-16)
Adult: S (34-36) _______ M (38-40) ______ L (42-44) ______
Name Category Total Braille Pages
Please use this form when turning in the list of books, magazines, and articles read. If additional paper is needed, be sure to put the student's name and his/her contest category at the top of EACH page and staple the papers together securely.
Title Author Number of Braille pages read
Name and date of magazine Number of Braille pages read Total Braille Pages
To the best of my knowledge, this student did read these Braille pages between the dates of November 1, 1993, and February 1, 1994.
Signature of Certifying Authority _____________________________________
Mail entries to
Mrs. Sandy Halverson
403 West 62nd Terrace
Kansas City, Missouri 64113
For more infomation, call Mrs. Halverson
evenings at (816) 361-7813; or Mrs. Barbara Cheadle days at:
(410) 747-3472 or (410) 659-9314.
ENTRIES MUST BE RECEIVED
NO LATER THAN FEBRUARY 15, 1994
by Jaime Fradera
From the Editor: Jaime Fradera is a Federationist who has been deaf and blind for some years. Like too many other disabled people, Mr. Fradera knows the anger and frustration of years wasted in vain attempts to achieve successful rehabilitation. For some twenty years he has been a client of the Texas Commission for the Blind. His vocational rehabilitation counselor has continued to work with Mr. Fradera to obtain genuinely effective training. When he became convinced that the Colorado Center for the Blind was the one rehabilitation facility available to him that might truly help him to become independent, his counselor assisted in the long bureaucratic battle to obtain the necessary approval to send him to Denver.
Jaime Fradera was a student at the Colorado Center for the Blind for a year. It was not an easy twelve months, but looking back, he now believes that it was the most rewarding and exciting, even life-changing, period of his life. Since graduating from the Colorado Center, Mr. Fradera has been hired as a staff member of the Center to do outreach work with deaf- blind people in the state. He travels independently several times a week to Boulder to teach a deaf-blind woman, and he is working hard to make the Colorado Center's program accessible to other deaf-blind people.
As Jaime Fradera was completing his rehabilitation program at the Colorado Center for the Blind, he felt compelled to put the story of his rehabilitation down on paper. It is moving and eloquent of both the pain of dreams left unfulfilled for years and the struggle to learn the skills and habits of thought and action that lead to independence. Here is that story:
I am a deaf-blind student at the Colorado Center for the Blind. Coming to Colorado is the realization of a personal dream that has taken many years of work, patience, and persistence to fulfill. My purpose in writing this article is to share with others part of that dream, my experiences as a student in the Colorado Center, and the way that applying the philosophy of the National Federation of the Blind has changed the direction of my life and my hopes for the future. I write this in the hope that others may find these experiences and observations about life in an NFB center interesting and maybe even helpful. Finally, I would also like to stimulate a discussion about the real meaning and definition of rehabilitation of blind people and to encourage traditional rehabilitation professionals to rethink and re- examine their beliefs about and expectations for the blind people they serve.
My story is not unusual, and my experiences in rehabilitation are shared by many blind people who are still suffering the soul-destroying effects of inactivity, lack of opportunity, and hopelessness. The orientation centers operated by the National Federation of the Blind have a proven record of success in equipping blind people to take their rightful places in society; and, if writing this article can help free a single blind person from the cycle of despair and help him or her believe that there is indeed hope, it will have been worth the effort.
I grew up in Texas, first attending public school through third grade, then the school for the blind in Austin. In 1965 the Texas school was a gloomy and forbidding place and, like most residential schools for the blind, very custodial. But all things considered, I got a pretty good general education there. While I was in high school, my Texas Commission for the Blind counselor sent me to the Criss Cole Rehabilitation Center for evaluation. After leaving high school, I was sent there again for training. Three years later I was sent there yet again for still more training. Nine years after that I was encouraged to go to the Helen Keller Center on Long Island for what turned out to be six dehumanizing months of still more training, testing, and evaluation. During these years I also worked with home teachers and mobility instructors sent by the Texas Commission for the Blind. There are no words to describe the pain, disappointment, anger, and despair I have known during the twenty years I have been a client of the Texas Commission.
As a result of that twenty years of rehabilitation, I learned to suspect and mistrust anyone in the blindness field who came to work with me; I learned that their words could not be taken at face value. And I learned that, unless I worked with someone who really believed in me as a blind person, I was never going to learn the things I needed to know to live and work in the real world. Reluctantly I came to believe that I had no future in Texas, that I needed a new climate and opportunities, that it was time for me to move on.
In 1987, with the help of my friends in the National Federation of the Blind, I spoke with Homer Page, now President of the National Federation of the Blind of Colorado, to explore the possibility of coming to Colorado to study at the University of Colorado at Boulder. I found Homer very encouraging and resolved that I would move to Colorado regardless of the time and effort it might take to do so.
Coming to Colorado turned out to be a considerable task. The Texas Commission claimed that the help I wanted was already available in Texas; and, although this was technically true in that they had field workers with certain job titles, I had by then totally lost faith in the Texas rehabilitation system. But after five years, the hard work of my vocational rehabilitation counselor, and a long series of meetings with other Commission staff, it finally became possible for me to enroll as a student at the Colorado Center for the Blind (CCB), and on January 8, 1992, I began my training.
The pace of life at the Colorado Center for the Blind is much faster than it is in other programs I have known. We live in an apartment complex located in suburban Englewood and commute to the Center in Denver via public transportation. We are expected to come to class on time and prepared, and we are to keep our apartments in livable condition after school hours. A thirteen- or fourteen-hour work day is typical here at the Center, and we learn to work and travel under weather conditions that are sometimes nothing less than horrendous.
Learning to travel in the snow has been an interesting experience. After a heavy snowfall curbs, sidewalks, and other features can be completely obscured, especially when the snow has been drifting. During the winter I am learning new techniques for finding these landmarks by observing the way the snow is banked. For several weeks after my arrival, the weather was bitterly cold, with temperatures in the teens and single digits. I quickly learned to dress appropriately.
I have found a number of significant differences between the training program here and the rehabilitation programs in Texas and New York. The Colorado Center staff believe that students must continually be pushed beyond what they think they can do in order to make progress and, indeed, that in order to improve skills students must learn to push themselves continually. The idea is not only to learn new skills, but also to form and internalize new habits of living and even thinking, so that the guidance and encouragement of the Center instructors will no longer be necessary to accomplish new things. This was hard for me to get used to because, although I knew I was making great progress, more and more was always expected.
At the CCB there is a free exchange of ideas between the students and staff. My ideas about what should be in my program were actually taken seriously. On my first day at the Center we had a discussion about whether I should travel using a guide since I cannot hear well enough to use many auditory cues. (It should be borne in mind that students at our NFB centers, unlike other places, are not usually taught to use sighted guides for traveling.) I had given this some thought and decided that in general I should not use a travel guide as long as I could follow directions because I could too easily become dependent on a guide to make decisions. With a guide to depend upon, I might stop paying attention to where I was or not use my travel skills to figure things out for myself. To my surprise, everybody seemed to agree with my thinking, and at no other time in my life have I done as much traveling without using guides as I have done here. It is gratifying to realize that I really have control over where I need to go and how I get there, using little more than the time-honored methods of riding busses and taxis, exploring, asking questions, and following directions. The problems of deaf- blindness are not as profound or complex as I had been led to believe. Basically they boil down to poor training, negative attitudes, and lack of opportunity.
At the Colorado Center there is also little distinction (except for administrative purposes) between students and staff. Diane McGeorge, our Director, and two of the teachers are blind, and they serve as good role models. None of the sighted staff show the snobby, condescending attitudes toward blind people to which I had become accustomed in Texas, and we all socialize and have fun together. Since I had become completely disgusted and disillusioned by the rehabilitation system and everything associated with it, it was interesting and refreshing to learn that our training included such things as learning to ski and hike high in the mountains or shooting rapids on a rubber raft-- about as far away from traditional rehabilitation as you can get.
Another interesting concept at the Center is the practice of peer teaching, having students teach and work with each other to pass on skills learned in the program. This is an important difference from traditional centers, in which only properly certified, professionally trained (and, yes, almost always sighted) teachers are qualified to work with the blind. We believe that the people most qualified to teach the skills of blindness are teachers who have already mastered these skills and use them every day.
During my first two months at the center I got much of my travel training and orientation from other blind people, and my Braille teacher, who is blind, showed me how to travel from our apartment complex to the Center every day until I learned to do it myself. When I came to the Center, I was nervous about trusting a blind person to teach me to travel, even though I had used blind people to guide me around at Federation conventions. One day early in my training my travel teacher was called away and assigned me to work with another student, who was to teach me how to cross the intersection down the street from the Center. This gave me the creeps. How could a blind person, with no teaching credentials or professional expertise, show me how to walk through an intersection? This could be dangerous!
After the teacher left us, we did the crossing three or four times, which was enough for me to make up some story about why there wasn't much point in doing this anymore. At the time I didn't tell anyone my real reason for quitting, which was that I didn't think that a blind student (who after all still hadn't graduated from the program) could be trusted. This was one example of the ways in which I had unknowingly internalized a stereotypical view of blind people--in other words, myself--even while believing myself to be a really progressive thinker. I soon recognized and understood what was happening, however, and after that thought nothing more about it.
At the NFB centers there is no lengthy, intrusive, condescending testing or evaluation procedure for new students. Time is not wasted on traditional rehabilitation fun and games with people's lives, and the only presumptions made are that we are normal, intelligent adults capable of controlling our own lives and that we are deserving of dignified treatment, consideration, and respect. This often meant that I had to deal with issues concerning personal management, self-discipline, and organization which were sometimes unpleasant. Changing old habits is never easy, but telling myself that the teaching methods used at the Center were based on the philosophy of the National Federation of the Blind made it easier to believe that everybody was genuinely interested in my welfare.
The most significant difference I have found between the CCB and other programs has been what has happened to me--what I have gained in the year I have spent at the Center. In the twelve months I have been in the program, I have made considerable progress in personal growth and in learning new skills. When I came to the Center in January of 1992, I had been discouraged from doing much traveling on my own, and as a result my cane skills had deteriorated. After a year in this program I now routinely ride public transportation and travel freely throughout the Denver metro area and beyond, scarcely giving the matter a thought. The freedom to travel has given me a feeling of control over my own life that I have never had before. A year ago, I hardly ever used a slate and stylus for writing, whereas now I use the slate almost exclusively for taking down information, and my writing speed and accuracy have greatly improved. In less than a year I went from cooking mostly frozen dinners to preparing meals for twenty people, and on several occasions I have cooked lunch for students and staff. I now feel more confident about my ability to understand and follow recipes and cooking directions. I am also learning to use a word processor in a limited way but will have full access to the computer as soon as I can begin working with a Braille display. Through challenges to my personal beliefs, I have been learning that I can understand and follow directions and instructions for doing such things as changing a bandage or cooking a meal.
I had always thought of myself as a really progressive, together Federationist, ready to go out and do battle with the old stereotypes of blindness and deaf-blindness; yet I had internalized the belief that as a blind person I must certainly be too stupid to remember or learn to perform the ordinary tasks of daily life. Learning that some of my beliefs might not necessarily be true was sometimes deeply embarrassing, but I am grateful now to have been liberated from many of these misconceptions. Even more important than the instruction and skills training I received, however, has been my new recognition that I am really a lot smarter and tougher than I thought I was when I came to the Center.
This progress has not come easily, and the price in emotional terms has been very high. I have had a number of problems during my training, among them difficulty adjusting to and keeping up with the often grueling pace of life here and the many demands made on me in the program. This has been the down side of my Colorado Center experience. At no other time in my life have I been expected, prodded, and even pushed to make so many decisions about so many things so quickly. My seeming inability to keep up with the demands of school, do all the things expected of me, and meet the high standards for students in the program has sometimes left me going home at the end of a day or a week feeling disheartened and exhausted. Now that I have the perspective of twelve months at the center, the benefit of hindsight, and the capacity to appreciate the long view, I think this is without question the healthiest and most supportive atmosphere in which I have ever lived. But in the day-to-day, routine demands and pressures of school and daily life, the Colorado Center has not always been pleasant or fun. On the other hand, even on many of the hardest, roughest, most exhausting days of my life here, something usually happens to make everything come around and help me understand that my future was worth my struggle to grow, that I really was making progress, that things really were going to work out.
Another problem I have had as a student at the Colorado Center for the Blind has been confusion over deciding when to work on projects important to me and when to work on assignments I was expected to complete during class time. Too often I have had a distressing tendency to slip into a pattern of passive dependency (as if I was in another institution), doing only what I was told, even when I knew my time would have been better spent doing something else. Of course, there were also planned activities scheduled by the teachers in which we all participated. For months after I arrived here, I realized that this confusion and anxiety over agendas and priorities was seriously interfering with the independent thinking and initiative I needed to develop and must continue to exercise every day if I were to benefit fully from the Colorado Center program. I think that at the gut level I was still afraid of asserting myself too much, getting into trouble in the program (as happened at another rehab center), being somehow exposed or embarrassed if I talked too much.
We make the analogy here between the demands of training and the demands of holding down a job. The idea is to learn good habits of time, money, and personal management that you can then carry over into employment. My experience in other rehab centers, in which many of the same phrases and rationales were used to justify what was done, had taught me that the best way to stay out of trouble was to be quiet and do what I was told, accepting that whatever it was was for my own good. I was assured that conformity to the rules and enduring the unpleasant situations was analogous to meeting the demands of an ordinary job and that therefore I must learn to accept the regimentation and structure of the program. Nothing I said or thought mattered. My response to this heavy-handed control was either open rebellion or passive and indignant resistance, putting most of my life on hold until I could leave the program. Although I knew that the CCB was an NFB center and that it would be profoundly different from the centers I had known, I began to respond according to the old patterns, as I would have done in other institutions--with suspicion, skepticism, and anxiety. Being in yet another rehab center brought back the memories of losing control over virtually all my privacy and personal affairs to the counselors and social workers. Such experiences were still vivid and painful.
I found conditions at the Center over which I had no control to be demoralizing. I eventually concluded that this was one of the tradeoffs I had to make in order to get the help I needed. Learning that at the CCB I really could believe what was said by the staff, that personal initiative was expected and highly encouraged, and that everyone loved and cared about me as a person, regardless of the way I had been treated in the past, has been without question the most difficult personal challenge I have ever had to face.
As I conclude this article, it is March of 1993. I have just graduated from the Colorado Center program. Ahead of me is a lifetime of learning, so this story is not yet complete. My Colorado Center experience has been so complex and intense that describing much of it is beyond the scope of a single article. The Colorado Center is not for everyone; some students, particularly those unfamiliar with the philosophy of blindness that presupposes normality and fundamental competence, leave the program feeling that they have been mistreated. But speaking for myself, I can safely say that, in spite of all the problems, inconvenience, and hardship, I have gained immeasurably from having gone through the program. It has demanded much of me but given more. The Center has succeeded in doing something that twenty years of conventional rehabilitation utterly failed to do: it has given me the self-confidence and the inner toughness I will need to live in the world, pursue my lifelong dreams, earn my own living, and assume the privileges and responsibilities of full citizenship.
It is to those who have supported me and brought me along in this movement, to those of you who believed in me even when I couldn't believe in myself, that this article is dedicated. You have taught me that I am living for more than just myself, that I have something to contribute to the human race, and that I have a duty and responsibility to help leave the world a better place. We are joined together in a great crusade, and little by little, day by day, hour by hour, each of us in our own unique and special way is changing what it means to be blind.
From the Editor: All three National Federation of the Blind adult rehabilitation centers conduct summer programs aimed especially at providing their unique brand of loving, demanding, high-expectation instruction to youngsters. At Blindness Learning in New Dimensions (BLIND), Inc., this past summer was the first time that students as young as nine were enrolled, and the program was a huge success. On Thursday, August 12, the Minneapolis Star Tribune carried a story about the five-week-long program. Here it is:
Buddy Program Allows Blind Adults
to Teach Blind Youth Independent Living
by Karine Michael
Erin Elliot listens closely as the traffic whizzes past her. When the din of moving cars stops, she and six other youths and their instructor begin walking across the congested downtown intersection at 4th Street and Marquette Avenue.
Erin, thirteen, sweeps her white cane along the sidewalk in front of her as she crosses, using its metal tip as a sensor to determine where the curb begins to rise.
The pedestrians, ranging in age from nine to thirteen, smile as they walk, cherishing their independence as they learn to navigate city sidewalks and streets.
The survival-skills lesson is one of several that the youths have gotten this summer. But unlike other programs, the lessons have been taught by those who have firsthand knowledge of the life skills they will need--blind adults.
BLIND, Inc., a Minneapolis-based learning and resource center for the blind, created its unique Buddy Program last winter, after receiving a $30,000 grant from the Minneapolis Foundation.
It paired a dozen blind youths from across the country with blind adults, who serve as teachers and guides. They have spent the past five weeks learning from the adults, who continually reinforce the idea that the blind can successfully live on their own.
Coordinator Judy Sanders said the program was created because of a need to serve kids who might not have exposure to essential skills, such as Braille, traveling with a cane, and home management. They also wanted the kids to have the opportunity to build close relationships with their peers. It is one of only three such programs in the country.
"Most programs are taught by sighted adults, who can relate to students on a limited level, but in this program students live with blind adults and can experience their day-to-day routine," Sanders said.
Seth Leblond of Portland, Maine, credits the program with boosting his assertiveness.
Seth, eleven, had already learned to use a cane from his mother, who is also blind, but he said the program has given him more of an opportunity to experience large public settings, such as the Mall of America, the farmers' market in downtown Minneapolis, and the Metrodome, where the group watched a Twins game.
"I really liked going to the grocery store without a sighted person guiding us [the group]," said Seth. "At home my dad always shops with me and my mom and guides us, so this was a new experience. Our group split up, and I got to walk around the store with three others and ask others where the food I wanted was."
The students live in a south Minneapolis apartment building, where nine of the twelve residents are blind. For the past month the building has served as a minischool, where students rotate through the halls to the four one-hour classes.
One apartment has been converted into a computer room, where voice-equipped computers teach typing skills.
Another class teaches Braille and gives students a chance to increase their Braille reading speed. Home management includes such things as grilling hamburgers, washing dishes, and making meals from scratch.
Students in the travel class take long walks every day to learn how to use the bus system and how to monitor traffic flow. Russell Anderson, a travel and mobility teacher for BLIND, Inc., said blind people must know streets, traffic, and directions better than a sighted person.
He said he learned to navigate streets from the "school of hard knocks" and has invented innovative methods of traveling. Anderson often designs a map of his destination with rubber bands tacked to his office bulletin board. That way he can feel the streets that he needs to travel and visualize his destination.
The program has attracted a diverse group of kids. Sanders said they come from vastly different learning environments. Some are attending schools for the blind, and others are going to public schools with sighted students.
Erin lives in Lombard, Illinois, and attends a public school. The thirteen-year-old is comfortable walking inside without a cane and has gotten involved in many activities, such as track and student council. Since she is the oldest in the group, she said this camp has given her the opportunity to show others that they too can have can-do attitudes.
"My blindness was a special gift from God; I like being unique," she said.
Erin said the one valuable new skill that she learned this summer is how to use a slate and stylus. A slate is a small paper holder with indented rows of holes that slides under the paper. The stylus is a small pick that punches holes in the paper to make perforated Braille messages.
Together the tools can be used to take class notes, create lists, and write letters--the same function a paper and pencil serve. In many schools, the Perkins Brailler, which is similar to a typewriter, is used to take notes. But the kids say it is heavy, loud, and not easily portable.
Erin says the new skill will allow her to take notes in class instead of waiting for all her schoolwork to be converted into Braille.
Sanders said some schools don't teach blind students Braille, but only work with computers.
"The level of independence is stifled because they can't enjoy reading and communicating with others," she said.
Outside activities have included tubing down the Apple River, going to the Como and Minnesota zoos, and visiting the Science Museum of Minnesota.
The group rides MTC buses as much as possible so students will become comfortable with public transportation.
Lisa Kidder, ten, attends the School for the Blind in Faribault, Minnesota. Although she has attended for seven years, there are some things that she didn't learn until she joined the Buddy Program.
"I never used a slate or stylus either, only a Brailler in school," Kidder said. She also learned to give herself a manicure.
Sanders said the program has been a positive experience for the teachers, as well as for the students.
"I hope we can obtain the funds to provide this program next year for students," she said.
by Janet Bixby
From the Editor: Janet Bixby is a member of the National Federation of the Blind of Virginia and the force behind the art show and sale at the Dallas convention last summer. Here is her description of the event:
It was twenty minutes before the opening of the eight-hour exhibit of the work of blind artists, and all was in readiness. The space was completely filled with the work of nine artists, plus the work of a number of students from the New Mexico adult rehabilitation center, who exhibited woodworking as a group. Steve Handschu chipped painstakingly away, demonstrating the carving of a briar pipe, while artists chatted with each other about their work.
Then the visitors began to come. What they saw was a diversity of work: acrylic and three-dimensional paintings, jewelry, ceramic sculpture, weaving, and woodwork. And the artists were as diverse as their work. They ranged in age from twenty to seventy-seven. Some had no formal training in art, while others had been trained as professionals.
The work brought forth excited exclamations from visitors. Some, seeing the paintings, asked if the artists were really legally blind. Others, touching three-dimensional paintings for the first time, said things like, "Wow, that's neat! I never saw anything like that," and "I never thought about it, but it would be nice to have a picture on my wall that was really for me."
Even small children touched some of the work and seemed to enjoy it. Yet some adults had to be encouraged to touch, even though that was the whole purpose of some of the work. It was a reminder that, not only must we educate people to accept the notion of blind artists, but we must educate blind and sighted people alike to appreciate art tactilely.
For the artists the exhibit provided a chance to sell their work and, perhaps even more important, a chance to share their creativity with others and get feedback. One artist who had refused to consider trying to sell his work found, for the first time, that he could and said excitedly, "I think I'll do more of this." Another person said, "My success here helps me think of myself more as an artist." One artist summed it up when she wrote, "Thanks for this chance to share my work. It's nice to have someone see it besides the dustbunnies under the bed."
At the end of eight hours, about two hundred visitors had seen the exhibit, and close to a thousand dollars worth of work had been sold, which benefitted NFB as well as the artists. Some people went away with a new appreciation of what art is, and some went away with a new appreciation of what blind people can do. All in all, it was a good beginning, and we plan to do it again next year. It's not too early for artists to begin work. For further information, contact Janet Bixby on tape or in Braille at 208 W. Boscawen St., Winchester, Virginia 22601; or call (703) 722-4712.
If you or a friend would like to remember the National Federation of the Blind in your will, you can do so by employing the following language:
"I give, devise, and bequeath unto National Federation of the Blind, 1800 Johnson Street, Baltimore, Maryland 21230, a District of Columbia nonprofit corporation, the sum of $_____ (or "_____ percent of my net estate" or "The following stocks and bonds: _____") to be used for its worthy purposes on behalf of blind persons."
by Heather Kirkwood
From the Editor: Heather Kirkwood is a college student and an active member of the National Federation of the Blind. Her primary interest is journalism, but she is also interested in art. It seems clear to me that she must have artistic ability since she enjoys sketching, drawing cartoons, and painting. I make this observation because, when I was a child with some residual vision, no one (least of all me) was interested in or showed admiration of my artistic endeavors.
Heather has not found it easy to establish herself as a serious amateur artist. It is the same old story: either she is dismissed out of hand because of her blindness, or fellow students are annoyed by her ability because they and the faculty assume that all sighted art students should certainly produce better work than she can. Luckily Heather is not easily discouraged, and she has learned from the Federation the tenacity wherever she is to keep working and keep educating. Here is what she writes:
As soon as I was old enough to grip a jumbo crayon in my small fingers, my mother bought a huge roll of newsprint and a set of eight Crayolas. When she was working in the kitchen, she would spread the newsprint on the floor and lay me in the middle of it. She placed a crayon in my fist and went about her work. Perhaps this was not the typical approach to nurturing a blind child, but that is what she did.
When I was old enough to attend birthday parties, I would often come home with coloring books. Within a few days, however, these would disappear. In later years I learned that my mother was the coloring book thief. She didn't steal my prizes out of cruelty, but rather out of what she considered kindness. As an art major in college, she had been taught that coloring books stunted creative development. She was determined to nurture creativity in her child. Visually impaired or not, her child would have the chance to grow up to be an artist.
This began the great contradiction of my life. In essence, I was a blind child who grew up sighted. Although I had been legally blind since birth, no one bothered to mention to me until the fourth grade that painting and drawing were two things at which I wasn't supposed to succeed.
Although this freedom from externally imposed limitations should have been an advantage to me, often the denial from which it sprang has been a great obstacle. Like many other legally blind children, I was not told that I might try a white cane until I was seventeen and was not introduced to Braille until the age of eighteen. Whenever such things were brought up, the experts, and even my family, dismissed them. As evidence that I did not require such alternative techniques, the experts held up my art work as supporting evidence. After all, shouldn't it be obvious that a child who could draw signs, animals, and even faces in such detail could see where she was going or what she was reading?
Because no one else considered me blind, I never considered myself to be blind either. I took all sorts of art classes, read art books, and participated in all of the other things that interested me. This is not to say that no one was aware that I was visually impaired; I had stacks of eye doctor reports to demonstrate my very limited visual acuity. It is to say that my lack of vision was considered a minor fact of my existence.
Sounds great, right? After all, the National Federation of the Blind has long maintained that blindness is only one of many characteristics of a person, like having blond hair or brown eyes. The problem was that the other half of the picture was missing. Blindness can be reduced to the level of a nuisance only when the proper alternative techniques are mastered. Because my blindness was considered so minor, I was never taught any of these skills. As a result, I went through high school with very few large print books, few books on tape, and no knowledge of Braille. When I had trouble in my German class seeing all the letters in words that were totally foreign to me, no one offered any help. In fact, my German teacher remarked that she forgot that I had a vision problem. When I couldn't see the examples in Algebra and asked the teacher to write in black, he was less than understanding.
No one was willing to help me work out alternative techniques because no one understood how much I needed them; not even I was aware of how difficult things were. I thought it was part of life to spend six hours on homework and go to bed every night with a headache. That was, after all, the price one paid for having good grades. When report cards came out, those good grades were held up as further proof that I didn't need any help. I didn't dispute the status quo because I assumed that was the way it was.
I sold my art work to pay for my debate trips. Life continued on this course until my senior year. It was not a change in my vision that caused a gradual change in my understanding of my situation. Instead, it was reality looking me in the face that scared me spitless. We were living in Germany, and I realized that at the end of the year I would have to return to the United States to go to college alone. I knew I would have to become more independent if this endeavor was to be successful.
We talked with my mobility teacher, but she seemed to have no adequate answers. She brought me a long cane (an NFB cane, in fact) and began teaching me to use it. I thought she had lost her marbles! As I walked down the street, tapping the cane back and forth on the pavement, I became more worried and frustrated. I could see the bike rack, the lamp post, the curb, and the street. That wasn't the problem. The question was, how would this long white cane make me more self-reliant? When she left, I put the thing behind the wardrobe. It only came out when I wanted a microphone with which to sing in front of the mirror. I was not learning to use the cane with sleep shades, so I really wasn't learning to do anything different. I was still trying to see where I was going.
As time passed, I became more frightened. I supposed that such fears were normal and went on humoring my mobility teacher in the hope that I might learn something besides the white cane. In fact I did. I learned to use landmarks and to read a map. I learned to listen for traffic patterns and not to be so shy about asking for directions (in German, of course). Still, in my opinion this was far from adequate.
As winter progressed to spring, I came upon the National Federation of the Blind while looking for scholarships. Not having a state president to contact in Germany, I called Joanne Wilson for help. My mobility teacher had known Joanne when she worked for the Louisiana School for the Visually Impaired. While I was talking with Joanne, she invited me to come to Louisiana that summer. In view of my insecurity about leaving home, I jumped at the chance. Here was a woman who seemed to know what she was talking about and who had real choices to offer. I really didn't know what I was getting into, but being a military brat, I adapt to change well.
I learned a lot in Louisiana and should have stayed longer. I learned to use a white cane and read Braille for the first time. I learned to make great red German cabbage and to use a computer with ease. In short, I learned to be a blind person. Most people think that blindness is something you are born with, but for many of us it is something that you learn to come to terms with.
I started out for college with a new-found sense of security about my future. Ready to take on the world, I walked into Basic Drawing 115--cane, pencil, and paper in hand. After the first class, I tried to talk to the professor about certain things. Would he mind if I moved my seat so that I could see the still life, and could I close the blinds because the light was too bright? He listened to me with a bewildered look on his face. After I was finished, the professor sighed and said that he supposed I would be able to draw after a fashion. I could probably express shapes or light and dark. I offered to let him see some of my work. I knew that this class would be useless if I could not instill in him any expectation or understanding of my work. I had to make him understand that I had alternative techniques for doing art work, just as I had alternative techniques for doing other things. I had not brought a lot of my art work to college because I did not plan to major in art. But I turned my room upside down looking for something I could show him and, after a while, returned with three pieces of my work. One look, and that was the end of that problem.
The next week I attended the first meeting of the newspaper staff. I was interested in journalism and wanted to participate. The paper was in need of a cartoonist. No one volunteered. Instead they hooted and hollered about how they couldn't draw a stick figure if their lives depended on it. Being a freshman, I was worried that I might inadvertently step on someone else's turf at the paper. Timidly I volunteered. The jovial room fell silent. No one knew what to say to the girl with the white cane. As a result, I was temporarily given the job for what eventually turned out to be two years.
Other than the paper, I had no way to display my art work. No one even seemed to know that I was the cartoonist. That might have been to my advantage since most of my cartoons were of a political nature, including campus politics.
I remained the phantom cartoonist until one day my art professor was defending the art requirement for graduation at a faculty meeting. He told his colleagues that I was one of his best students and that, if I could complete the requirement, any other student should be able to do the same. When I heard about this comment, I finally understood why I had so few friends in art classes. If I had demonstrated a lack of talent, I would have conformed to everyone's expectations. Life would have gone on, but because I displayed talent, suddenly expectations were raised for everyone else. I realized that I had done a poor job of educating this professor. He had failed to understand that there is no necessary relationship between the ability to see well and the ability to draw or to do anything else for that matter. He was a prisoner of the old stereotype instead of embracing a new evaluation.
At the recent NFB convention I had an opportunity to show my work (excluding my cartoons) for the first time since beginning college. I can't tell you how much that chance meant to me. The under side of my bed is not a rewarding audience. I do not claim to be a Picasso, nor do I even know how my work compares to that of others. That is not relevant to me. Art is a means of self- expression, not an exact replica of reality. Cameras can reproduce exact images. I enjoy doing my art work and am pleased to offer it to other people. But this talent has caused me trouble because blind people aren't supposed to be able to communicate a visual experience. I have not put down these stories from an impulse to brag or to receive recognition, but only to share a lesson. After all, that is what the NFB is all about.
So what is the moral of my story? As blind people we often fall into the trap of believing that we must conform to the expectations of sighted people, and, without questioning, we do so. I can't help wondering how many blind children have been denied the enjoyment of art for that reason, but the NFB has always pushed against the outer limits of expectation. I consider that it is a worthy mission for me to continue to do so even in what is considered to be an exclusively visual realm. I am proud to be an artist and a member of the National Federation of the Blind.
by Barbara Pierce
The members of the National Federation of the Blind have long recognized its responsibility to see that the next generation of blind people has an opportunity to acquire a first- rate education. The organization established its first scholarship in 1965, when it received a bequest from the estate of Thomas E. Rickard. Mr. Rickard was a blind attorney who attended the California School for the Blind and was a student at the University of California at Berkeley, where he studied under Dr. Jacobus tenBroek, founder of the National Federation of the Blind. The scholarship was named to honor Mr. Rickard's father, Howard Brown Rickard, and is awarded to students studying in the fields of law, medicine, engineering, architecture, or natural science.
In 1980 the organization received another bequest for the specific purpose of adding to our scholarship program. The bequest was from the estate of Dr. Isabelle Grant, a high school teacher in the Los Angeles Unified School District. After losing her sight, Dr. Grant became very active in the National Federation of the Blind and took a great interest in blind people overseas. This bequest established the Hermione Grant Calhoun Scholarship for blind women and is a living memorial to Dr. Grant's daughter.
This program was expanded in 1984 to twenty scholarships. For the past nine years the NFB has annually awarded more than twenty scholarships to distinguished blind students. This academic year the NFB will present twenty-six awards to outstanding blind scholars.
For the most part, people do not believe that blind post- secondary students who have the same dreams as their sighted counterparts are quite right in the head. If they are so foolish as to pursue such fields as international relations, electrical engineering, or medicine, they are dismissed immediately as "out of touch with reality." Even if they major in education, counseling, or computer science, but do not express a burning desire to "help other blind people live more satisfying lives," obstacles are still often placed in their paths.
We in the National Federation of the Blind begin with the premise that blind students have as much right as anybody else to try to fulfill their dreams, and we believe that blindness as such is no reason to assume that a given individual cannot do a designated job or enter a particular profession. The individual may not have the intelligence, dexterity, stamina, creativity, or alternative skills to do the work successfully, and some of these limitations may well prove insurmountable; but blindness, which is so often held up as the obvious explanation for any failure, is not really the culprit.
The National Federation of the Blind's 1994 scholarship program seeks to find the twenty-six most outstanding blind post- secondary students in the United States today and honor them for their ground-breaking work. We want to help them on their way as much as we can. We will present them with awards ranging in value from $2,000 to $10,000, and we will bring them as our guests to the 1994 convention of the National Federation of the Blind to experience firsthand the excitement and stimulation of a gathering of the largest and most dynamic organization of blind people in the country today.
Every state affiliate and local chapter can help in spreading the word of this extraordinary opportunity for America's blind students. Scholarship applications have been or soon will be mailed to financial aid offices in educational institutions around the country, but many of these will be filed for reference when students come to ask about financial assistance. It is very helpful to have local representatives deliver or mail forms to the actual college administrator who works with blind students. Being identified with such a valuable national scholarship program gives the local chapter and state affiliate prestige and respect, and the local touch insures that more blind students will actually have an opportunity to apply for these scholarships.
Anyone can order scholarship forms from the Materials Center, National Federation of the Blind, 1800 Johnson Street, Baltimore, Maryland 21230. State Presidents and members of the 1994 Scholarship Committee will be sent scholarship forms. These may be copied as long as both sides of the form are reproduced. Here is the text of the 1994 National Federation of the Blind scholarship application form:
National Federation of the Blind 1994 Scholarship Program
Each year at its National Convention in July, the National Federation of the Blind gives a broad array of scholarships to recognize achievement by blind scholars. All applicants for these scholarships must be (1) legally blind and (2) pursuing or planning to pursue a full-time post-secondary course of study. In addition to these restrictions, some scholarships have been further restricted by the donor. Scholarships to be given at the National Convention in 1994 are listed here with any special restrictions noted:
1. American Action Fund Scholarship -- $10,000; given by the American Action Fund for Blind Children and Adults, a nonprofit organization which works to assist blind persons. No additional restrictions.
2. National Federation of the Blind Scholarships -- sixteen to be given: two for $4,000; five for $2,500; nine for $2,000. No additional restrictions.
3. Anne Pekar Memorial Scholarship -- $4,000; given in loving memory of Anne Pekar by her parents, who say: "The purpose of the scholarship is to help others as Anne had tried to do in her various volunteer endeavors. ...It is our hope that this small gesture in her name will remind us of the wonderful things about Anne and, in particular, her concern about other people and her desire to help." Winner must be a woman between the ages of 17 and 25.
4. Melva T. Owen Memorial Scholarship -- $3,000; given in memory of Melva T. Owen, who was widely known and loved among the blind. She and her husband Charles Owen became acquainted with increasing numbers of blind people through their work in the "Voicepondence" Club. Charles Owen says: "There shall be no limitation as to field of study, except that it shall be directed towards attaining financial independence and shall exclude religion and those seeking only to further general or cultural education."
5. Howard Brown Rickard Scholarship -- $2,500; winner must be studying or planning to study in the fields of law, medicine, engineering, architecture, or the natural sciences.
6. Frank Walton Horn Memorial Scholarship -- $2,500; given by Mr. and Mrs. Charles E. Barnum, the mother and stepfather of Catherine Horn Randall. No additional restrictions, but preference will be given to those studying architecture or engineering.
7. National Federation of the Blind Humanities Scholarship - - $2,500; winner must be studying in the traditional Humanities such as art, English, foreign languages, history, philosophy, or religion.
8. National Federation of the Blind Educator of Tomorrow Award -- $2,500; winner must be planning a career in elementary, secondary, or post-secondary teaching. 9. Hermione Grant Calhoun Scholarship -- $2,000; Dr. Isabelle Grant endowed this scholarship in memory of her daughter. Winner must be a woman.
10. Kuchler-Killian Memorial Scholarship -- $2,000; given in loving memory of her parents, Charles Albert Kuchler and Alice Helen Kuchler, by Junerose Killian, dedicated member of the National Federation of the Blind of Connecticut. No additional restrictions.
11. Ellen Setterfield Memorial Scholarship -- $2,000; given in memory of Ellen Setterfield by Roy Landstrom, who says: "During the course of her life, she gave of herself to defend the dignity and self-respect of those around her." Winner must be studying social sciences at the graduate level.
CRITERIA: All scholarships are awarded on the basis of academic excellence, service to the community, and financial need.
MEMBERSHIP: The National Federation of the Blind is an organization dedicated to creating opportunity for all blind persons. Recipients of Federation scholarships need not be members of the National Federation of the Blind.
MAKING APPLICATION: To apply for National Federation of the Blind scholarships, complete and return the application on the reverse side of this sheet, attaching to the application all the additional documents there requested. Multiple applications are unnecessary. Each applicant will be considered for all scholarships for which he or she qualifies. Send completed applications to: Miss Peggy Pinder, Chairman, National Federation of the Blind Scholarship Committee, 814 - 4th Avenue, Suite 200, Grinnell, Iowa 50112; (515) 236-3366. Form must be received by March 31, 1994.
REAPPLICATION: We have often awarded scholarships to persons applying for the second or third time. Even if previously submitted, current applications must be submitted to be considered for current scholarships. Those who have previously applied are encouraged to apply again.
WINNERS: The Scholarship Committee reviews all applications and selects the scholarship winners. These winners, the same number as there are scholarships to award, will be notified of their selection by June 1 and will be brought to the National Federation of the Blind convention in July at Federation expense. This is in addition to the scholarship grant.
The National Federation of the Blind Convention is the largest gathering of blind persons (more than 2,000) to occur anywhere in the nation each year. You will be able to meet other blind students and exchange information and ideas. You will also be able to meet and talk with blind people who are successfully functioning in your chosen profession or occupation. Federal officials, members of Congress, and the makers and distributors of new technology attend Federation conventions. Above all, a broad cross section of the most active segment of the blind population of the United States will be present to discuss common problems and plan for concerted action. It is an interesting and exciting week.
AWARDS: The day before the convention banquet the Scholarship Committee will meet to determine which winners will receive which scholarships. The scholarship awards will be made during the banquet.
National Federation of the Blind Scholarship Application Form
Read reverse side of form for instructions and explanation. Form may be photocopied but only if reverse side is also included.
To apply for a scholarship, complete this application form and mail completed application and attachments to: Miss Peggy Pinder, Chairman, National Federation of the Blind Scholarship Committee, 814 - 4th Avenue, Suite 200, Grinnell, Iowa 50112; 515-236-3366. Form must be received by March 31, 1994.
Name (please include any
maiden or other names by which you have been known):
Date of birth:
School phone number:
Home phone number:
Institution being attended in spring semester, 1994, with class standing (freshman, senior, etc.):
Cumulative grade point at this institution:
Institution to be attended in fall of 1994, with class standing.
Send by separate letter if admitted to school after submitting completed application:
List all post-secondary institutions attended with highest class standing attained and cumulative grade point average:
High school attended and cumulative grade point:
State your major:
Awards and honors (attach list if necessary):
Community service (attach list if necessary):
Attach the following documents to completed application:
1. Send us a letter: What schools have you attended? What school do you plan to attend during the coming year? What honors have you achieved? What have you done to deal with situations involving your blindness? What are you like as a person? What are your goals and aspirations? How will the scholarship help you?
2. Send two letters of recommendation.
3. Provide current transcript from institution now attending and transcripts from all other post-secondary institutions attended. If you have not yet attended such an institution or have not completed one year of study, send high school transcript.
4. Send a letter from a state officer of the National Federation of the Blind evidencing the fact that you have discussed your scholarship application with that officer. We prefer that you discuss your application with the Federation state president, but a letter from any Federation state officer will suffice. President's address provided upon request.
From the Editor: In the July, 1993, issue of the Braille Monitor we published an article about recent developments in the ongoing struggle of blind people to win the right to serve on juries. Shortly after publication we received the following letter from Beatrice Simonds, who chairs the Governor's Advisory Council on the Blind in the state of Delaware. She pointed out that for some time now Delaware has had legal protection of the right of blind people to serve on juries. In fact, Earlene Hughes, then President of the NFB of Delaware, actually served on a jury as a result of the law Mrs. Simonds describes. Here is her letter:
July 27, 1993
Dear Dr. Jernigan:
I have read the article "Blind Citizens One Step Closer to Jury Service in the District of Columbia" in the July, 1993, issue of the Braille Monitor.
In 1979 one of our visually impaired clients was embarrassed in open court in Wilmington, Delaware, because he was told very emphatically by a judge that, because he was blind, he could not serve on a jury, even though he had been summoned to appear for jury duty.
The Director of the Division for the Visually Impaired in Delaware was Norman Balot, who was totally blind. Mr. Ballot and I received many, many calls about this. As a result the Governor's Advisory Council on the Blind, of which I am Chairman, instructed me to have legislation prepared and introduced in our State Legislature whereby a blind or visually impaired person could not be disqualified from jury duty. The Bill was Senate Bill No. 63. It passed the Senate with S.A. 3 on 2/1/79. We encountered strong opposition from the State's judiciary, and it did not pass the House of Representatives until April 1, 1980. It was signed into law by Governor Pierre du Pont on April 11, 1980, at 10:30 a.m. Delaware became the fifth state allowing the blind to serve on juries, joining California, Oregon, Minnesota, and Washington. Copy of this legislation, remarks made by Senator Charles E. Hughes, and a write-up appearing in the News-Journal paper on Saturday, April 12, 1980, are enclosed herein.
In the write-up in the Braille Monitor no mention was made of Delaware's enacting this law: therefore my reason for writing you.
In closing I hope that all fifty states will soon have enacted this same law. I would much rather have a blind or visually impaired person serving on a jury for me than some sighted people. This same sentiment was expressed in our State Legislature by many Senators and Representatives.
Kindest personal regards.
Mrs. Beatrice P. Simonds, Chair
Governor's Advisory Council on the Blind
The recipes this month come from Louisiana, a state which is renowned for its hot cuisine, particularly Cajun and Creole dishes, and many fine Federationists from the Pelican State have learned to prepare various tasty recipes.
LEMON CHEESE CAKE
by Jewel Banning
Don and Jewel Banning have been loyal Federationists for many years. Don currently serves as President of the New Orleans chapter of the NFB of Louisiana and as the affiliate's Second Vice President. Jewel works for Project Independence and is known as an excellent cook. She submitted the following New Orleans favorite.
1 18 1/2 ounce package lemon cake mix
1 cup butter, melted
1 8-ounce package cream cheese
1 pound confectioner's sugar
Method: Prepare the cake mix according to package directions, but use a spoon rather than the electric mixer. Stir only until the mixture is crumbly. Add two eggs and 1/2 cup butter. Press into lightly greased and floured 9 by 13-inch baking dish. Blend the remaining ingredients with electric mixer and pour evenly over pressed cake batter. Bake at 350 degrees no more than 45 minutes. Remove cake from oven. When it is entirely cooled, cut into small squares. Laissez les bons temps rouler!
FRIED GREEN TOMATOES
by Carol Sapp
Carol Sapp has worked at the Louisiana Center for the Blind since 1986. She has taught both home economics and cane travel. She hails from Arcadia, Louisiana, which is in the north central section of the state. Her recipe is simple but tasty and is enjoyed by us country folk on a regular basis, particularly when the tomatoes start to ripen.
4 medium green tomatoes, sliced
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup corn meal
1/4 cup cooking oil
Method: Season sliced tomatoes with salt and pepper. Coat both sides of each tomato slice with corn meal. Fry in hot oil until each side is golden brown. Place on paper towels to drain.
MS. NEITA'S PINK FLUFFY
by Neita Ghrigsby
Neita Ghrigsby is the office manager at the Louisiana Center for the Blind. Staff and students at the center look forward each year to the annual Thanksgiving dinner because Ms. Neita brings this delicious dish:
1 cup strawberry pie filling mix
1 large can fruit cocktail, drained
1 small can crushed pineapple, drained
1 can condensed milk
1 large container Cool Whip
1 cup chopped pecans
Method: Mix the strawberry pie filling mix and the condensed milk together. Stir in the drained pineapple and fruit cocktail. Add the chopped pecans. Fold in Cool Whip. In order for this recipe to be successful, you must refrigerate it overnight.
by Fannie Soileau
Harold and Fannie Soileau are long-time Federationists. Fannie is currently President of the Parents Division of the NFB of Louisiana and is the mother of Nicole, a recent graduate of the Louisiana Center for the Blind. The Soileaus live in Ville Platte, the heart of the Cajun country. Fannie is known for her spicy and delicious dishes, and the following recipe is a favorite in the Cajun culture.
1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 8-ounce package egg noodles
2 cans cream of mushroom soup
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup green onions, chopped
1/4 cup bell pepper, chopped
1 1/2 teaspoon dried dill weed
1 1/2 teaspoon pepper
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese or Velveeta
Method: Drop shrimp into boiling, salted water. Reduce heat and simmer for five minutes. Drain and rinse with cold water. Cook noodles as directed on package and drain well. Combine noodles with soup, sour cream, onions, green pepper, dill, pepper, and salt. Fold shrimp and cheese into noodle mixture. Place in baking dish and cover. Bake at 350 degrees for twenty minutes. Bon appetit.
by Mabel Businelle
Many students at the Louisiana Center for the Blind have prepared delicious meals as part of their home economics requirements. The recipes have been compiled into a cookbook which will soon be available in both print and Braille.
Mabel Businelle is from Lake Charles, and she attended the Center in 1986. While she was a student, she excelled in the kitchen and submitted several recipes to the student cookbook. Every Southerner loves his or her hush puppies, and Mabel's recipe is one of the best.
1 cup cornmeal
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 onion, grated
1/2 cup green onion, chopped
3/4 cup milk
Method: Mix all ingredients together until moist. Drop by tablespoons into a deep-fat frier in which the oil has been heated to 375 degrees. Cook hush puppies until golden brown.
BAKED RED FISH IN WINE
by Muriel Vasquez
Muriel Vasquez was born in Belize in Central America, but she has lived in New Orleans for many years. While a student at the Center, she prepared many tasty New Orleans-style meals as evidenced by the following recipe:
1 medium red fish
2 onions, sliced
1 cup white wine
3 cloves garlic, chopped
2 bay leaves
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 pinch dill
1 pinch thyme
1 pinch basil
juice of 1 lemon
salt and pepper to taste
Method: Clean fish well. Season both inside and out with cayenne pepper. Place onion slices inside fish and put fish in shallow baking dish and set aside. In a sauce pan combine wine, garlic, lemon juice, thyme, basil, bay leaves, and butter. Saute for about ten minutes. Pour mixture over fish and bake at 375 degrees for twelve minutes per pound.
**Jim Willows Honored:
On July 20, 1993, Newsline, a publication for employees of the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory published an article about long-time National Federation of the Blind of California leader Jim Willows. It speaks for itself. Here it is:
Jim Willows, a software engineer in the Safeguards and Security Engineering and Computation Division, has been named employee of the year by the California Governor's Committee for Employment of Disabled Persons.
A Laboratory employee since 1954 and blind the past thirty- two years, Willows will receive the award at a reception October 11 at the Anaheim Hilton. The committee recognizes one non- manager and one manager each year. Willows received the statewide award for a non-manager.
Willows, a member of the Advisory Committee on Services for the Blind of the California Department of Rehabilitation, took a few minutes Friday to think about his years at LLNL and his work with the blind.
"I've always been grateful that several of my friends, fellow engineers, went to our department head when I became blind and said, `Look, Jim may have lost his sight, but he hasn't lost his brain.'
"It's not always the big organized efforts that have an impact," said Willows, who is also first vice president of the National Federation of the Blind of California. "Sometimes the work of just a few people can make a big difference. And that's what I want to say at the awards banquet."
Willows himself is one of those people who make a big difference. Greg Davis, deputy associate program leader of the Fission Energy System Safety Program (FESSP), put it this way: "Over the years, Willows has been a role model for Livermore Laboratory employees who have become disabled and has helped those who have lost their sight to continue working," Davis wrote in support of Willow's award.
Davis noted that Willows has been a member of the Lab's Advisory Committee on Disability for a number of years. The committee is charged with expanding opportunities for disabled people at the Lab and serves as a steering committee for bringing more disabled persons into the Lab work force.
"Willows is an inspiration to both the disabled and able- bodied who know him and work beside him," Davis said. At the lab and "within the community, he has facilitated and promoted employment opportunities for the blind and disabled persons and has encouraged the blind and disabled to seek new or maintain current employment," Davis wrote.
Asked how he felt about receiving the award, Willows paused a moment. "I feel good," he said. "I'm pleased that someone saw fit to nominate me and talk about the things I do. "I guess while you're doing those things, you don't think much about it," he said.
Willows, his wife Mary, who is also blind, and the couple's two sons, Jim, twelve, and Don, nine, attended the National Federation of the Blind national convention in Dallas, July 1-10.
And they're all looking forward to October and the trip to Anaheim. "The hotel is right across the street from Disneyland," said Willows.
That's what the article said, and we can only add our congratulations to those of Jim's colleagues.
The following wedding invitation was received at the National Center for the Blind:
joined together in friendship
united forever in love.
Laura Mae Boisselle
Douglas Todd Trimble
together with our parents
request the honour of your presence
as we are united in marriage
on Saturday, August twenty-eighth
nineteen hundred and ninety-three
at one o'clock in the afternoon
at the home of Laurene Simpson
Doug Trimble is one of the leaders of the NFB of Washington. Congratulations to the Trimbles.
**Attention Chapters Doing Community-Access Television Programming:
We have been asked to carry the following announcement: The Tampa Bay Chapter of the National Federation of the Blind of Florida is producing a public access television show entitled 20/200. We are interested in hearing from others who are doing, or planning on doing, similar programs. We would like to share program ideas and formats and even exchange segments to air on each other's shows. Please correspond in any format, including ASCII files, with Marion Gwizdala, 820 Valley Hill Dr., Brandon, Florida 33510; or call (813) 684-8981.
**GW Micro Bulletin Board Now Online:
We have been asked to carry the following announcement:
GW Micro (manufacturer of Vocal-Eyes, Sounding Board, and other computer products for people who are visually impaired) has completed the installation of its Bulletin Board Service (BBS). The BBS will be available for use seven days a week, twenty-four hours a day with a maximum BAUD rate of 14,400 BPS for fast, efficient operation.
GW Micro started the bulletin board with offerings of demo versions of its software, product information, new Vocal-Eyes SET files, and electronic mail for questions, open discussions, and bulletin board suggestions.
For further information contact Crista Shaikh, the GW Micro BBS SYSOP, by telephone at (219) 483-3625; or call the BBS with your modem at (219) 484-0120.
Don Morris, Secretary of the Merchants Division of the National Federation of the Blind, reports the following changes in leadership which occurred during the Division's meeting at the 1993 NFB convention in Dallas. Larry Posont, who has served as Division President for a number of years, stepped down from that demanding position for personal reasons. Charlie Allen, First Vice President of the Merchants Division, became President; and the following people were elected in a complicated game of electoral musical chairs: Joe Van Lent, First Vice President; Don Morris, Secretary; and Larry Posont, Treasurer. Donna Posont, Kevin Worley, Fred Wurtzel, and Barbara Swygert were elected to fill two-year board positions. Andy Virden was elected to complete Joe Van Lent's term on the board. Wayne Shevlin, Second Vice President, and Norman Bolton, Carl Jacobson, and Ben Snow, board members, hold their positions for another year. Don Morris's report on this complicated election concludes with the following statement: "Blind vendors from across the country owe a debt of gratitude to Larry Posont for his leadership and hard work on our behalf. Congratulations to Charles Allen. We know you'll pick up the challenge and build on the accomplishments we achieved under Larry."
**West Virginia School for the Blind Directory in Preparation:
We have been asked to carry the following announcement:
The West Virginia School for the Blind Alumni Association is now gathering data for a directory of former students and friends to be published in April, 1994. Former students and alumni wishing to be included should send complete name, mailing address, phone number, date of entry to the school, and date of graduation or exit. This information should be sent prior to March 15, 1994, to Laura Collier, Directory Chairperson, 3470 S.E. Cobia Way, Stuart, Florida 34997.
**Lease/Purchase Program for the David Computer Now Available:
We have been asked to carry the following announcement:
BAUM USA announces that a Lease/Purchase program is now available for the DAVID Braille Computer. This low-interest program has been designed to help blind employees, small businesspeople, professionals, and students to increase productivity using high-efficiency equipment. This lease program is administered and funded by BAUM USA. The number of leases extended may be limited. Availability will be on a first-come, first-served basis.
The DAVID Lease program features two- and three-year lease/purchase options. It is based on low-interest financing, 8% APR, and carries no cost of lease administration (if carried full term). Initial deposit and payments to start the lease are in the range of $6,750. Monthly payments start as low as $275.
BAUM USA also has other promotional programs for the DAVID Braille Computer, in effect until the end of 1993:
- Credit towards the purchase of the DAVID for old Braille equipment, such as Versabraille.
- Free future upgrades for some exciting new software now under development for DAVID.
For lease details, qualification requirements, and other information, please contact BAUM USA, 17525 Ventura Blvd., Suite 303, Encino, California 91316-3843; or call (818) 981-2253, or (800) 225-3150. The Fax number is (818) 981-7124 and the number for CompuServe is 71155,3552.
**Updated Baseball Computer Game Available:
We have been asked to carry the following announcement:
The award-winning World Series Baseball Game and Information System is now being played in forty-one states and four foreign countries on IBM-compatible computers with screen readers and synthesizers. It comes with two baseball games, eighty-three teams, four ancillary programs, and six information programs. Following each season updates are released including the two pennant-winning teams and many improvements. Cost is still only $15 for the entire system and only $5 for updates. Write for more details or send your check to Harry Hollingsworth, 692 S. Sheraton Drive, Akron, Ohio 44319; or call (216) 644-2421.
Congratulations to Ken, Gloria, and Adam Canterbery on the latest addition to their family. Tyler Canterbery was born on July 27, weighing 7 pounds 8 ounces and 20 1/2 inches long. Ken is the energetic president of the Baltimore County Chapter of the National Federation of the Blind. He attended his first National Convention this year.
**Braille and Recorded Books Wanted:
We have been asked to carry the following announcement:
If any readers have Braille or recorded cookbooks on tape or records that are no longer wanted or needed, I would like to have them. I am also looking for a cookbook for the crock pot and for the book New England Cookery, which has recipes for dishes originally from England.
I would also like to have folk music of the British Isles. I am currently searching for good sources for where to get music of the British Isles on compact discs and cassettes. I lost my collections of cookbooks and recordings. I miss all my favorite artists like Hart, Pryor, Battlefield Band, Silly Wizard, and Zeb Redpath, to name a few. Please contact Belle M. Rousseau, 2209 Oddie Blvd., #128, Sparks, Nevada 89431 in Braille or cassette. No print, please.
**New Organization at Work and Growing:
Recently Mary Ellen Gabias, a long-time leader of the National Federation of the Blind now making her home in Canada with her husband Paul and their two young children, wrote to report the following:
Just a little over a year ago, June 8, 1992, to be precise, a new organization of the blind was officially chartered in Canada. That organization is the National Federation of the Blind: Advocates for Equality. The NFB:AE is a distinctively Canadian organization. We work at the local, provincial, and federal levels to resolve problems affecting the blind. Though our identity is clearly Canadian, our philosophy is immediately recognizable as Federation in origin. We are bringing the Federation home to Dr. Jacobus tenBroek's country of birth.
In the brief time since our founding, we have begun publishing a national newsletter. As far as we know, our newsletter called The Canadian Monitor is the only English language publication produced and circulated on the national level by any organization of the blind in Canada. A provincial organization in Quebec called le RAAQ, le Regroupement des Aveugles et Ambliopes du Quebec, produces and distributes an excellent French language publication.
Subscriptions to the Canadian Monitor are available on cassette and in print to all interested persons in Canada and the United States. It costs the NFB:AE approximately $10 per year to produce our publication. Members are invited and non-members are requested to help to cover the subscription costs. Free copies of our brochure "What is the NFB:AE" are also available on cassette and in print. To subscribe, write to P.O. Box 5058, Station A, Kelowna, B.C., Canada, V1Y 7P5; or call (604) 862-2352 or (604) 764-8005.
**Christmas Cards Available:
We have been asked to carry the following announcement:
Braille-print Christmas holiday cards now available in four colorful holly designs. Specify star, cross, wreath, heart, or assorted package. $9.95 postage paid. Free name personalization in calligraphy, if desired. Check, MasterCard, or VISA, phone and mail orders, prompt delivery. Contact Prophecy Designs, P.O. Box 84, Round Pond, Maine 04564; or call (207) 529-5318.
We have been asked to carry the following announcement:
My blindness is due to a neurological condition called Refsum's Syndrome. I would like to communicate with other people who have the same condition. You may contact Jack Cheslow, 2719 W. 178 Street, Torrance, California 90504-4116 in print or on cassette tape, but no Braille please; or you may call (310) 329- 5132.
We have been asked to carry the following announcement: Kurzweil Personal Reader, Model 73-15, Software 2.1, hand and auto scanners, $3,000. Artic Business Vision, version 2.4, $100. If interested, call Katie Ward at (818) 341-7201.
Mary Main, a member of the Stamford Area Chapter of the National Federation of the Blind of Connecticut and a beloved elder stateswoman of this organization, reports with sorrow the death of Ray Manchester. He died on September 10, 1993, just a year after his wife Sue's death. Sue had served as President of the Manchester Area Chapter. Both Ray and Sue suffered from diabetes. Ray will be greatly missed.
**Voice Label Now Available:
We have been asked to carry the following announcement:
Easier Ways, Inc., (formerly Aids Unlimited, Inc.) recently introduced the Voice Label, an electronic breakthrough based on digital recording. The Voice Label greatly enhances the accessibility to large segments of the population of everyday information that is presented in printed form. Blind and visually impaired, functionally illiterate, and dyslexic people all will benefit as well as many others. The various models of the Voice Label make many extremely valuable applications possible. For example, the Voice Label mounted in a city bus will automatically announce the number and route of the bus to all passengers waiting on the corner; a particular store in a mall can be identified orally; the front entrance to a building along the street can be located orally and the name of the building announced; instructions for the operation of equipment can automatically be presented orally. It can act as an aural pathfinder for getting from one point to another in a building, announce the entrance of an intruder or someone sneaking around the outside of the house, direct you to an object forty or fifty feet away--even though you may not be pointing the remote in the right direction, and handle many other specialized tasks aurally.
The Voice Label is now in production. For further information contact Easier Ways, Inc., 1101 N. Calvert St., Suite 405, Baltimore, Maryland 21202; or call (410) 659-0232 or FAX (410) 659-0233.
**Agency Director Beats a Retreat:
Monitor readers will remember the article in the June, 1993 issue of the Braille Monitor which described the struggle between the organized blind of South Carolina and Isabel Ewing, the Executive Director of the Charleston Association for the Blind. Ewing was determined to establish a sheltered workshop employing blind people at low wages, and the National Federation of the Blind of South Carolina was opposed to having such a facility in the state. The following is an excerpt from a newspaper article in the Charleston Post & Courier, August 23, 1993:
A woman who has led efforts to establish a manufacturing plant in Charleston to employ blind workers in the tri-county area has resigned her post.
Isabel Ewing, executive director for the Association for the Blind, will leave the non-profit organization September 30.
"It's just time for me to make some changes in my career," Ewing said. "It's time for someone else to come in and move it to the next level."
Ewing has come under fire from those opposed to establishing a manufacturing plant in Charleston, associated with the National Industries for the Blind.
"Basically this has not been about doing something for me, but this effort has been about blind people getting good paying jobs," said Ewing, who has been with the agency about four years.
"I knew I didn't want to be there to head the industry; I just wanted to get it started."
Ewing has been at the center of debate over opening an industry for the blind. National Federation of the Blind of South Carolina chapter president Donald Capps may have been her biggest adversary.
Capps has contended that such a business is merely a sweatshop that separates and exploits blind workers.
That is what the article said, and those who believe in the innate normality of blind people can only breathe a sigh of relief to think that a proposed workshop employing the blind has probably been stopped before it could begin.
**Computer Products Available:
We have been asked to carry the following announcement:
Ferguson Enterprises is proud to announce the following new products and services: Vocal-Eyes and other GW Micro products are now available in our store. We also stock Richard De Steno's games, which work well with speech. Purchase your WordPerfect 6.0 upgrade, and receive in Braille, cassette, or large print a 6.0 reference card, installation instructions, and your disks labeled in Braille or large print at no extra charge. You will find many new products in our Fall Catalog, which is available at no charge in large print, cassette, and on disk. Call about our monthly specials. We now accept the following credit cards: Visa, MasterCard, Discover, or American Express. Call (605) 546-2366 from 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m., Monday through Friday, and 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. on Saturday, Central Time.
Pamela Yaney, Secretary of the Marion County/City of Indianapolis Chapter of the National Federation of the Blind of Indiana, reports the following results of the chapter's annual election: Susan Jones, President; Joe Money, First Vice President; Pam Schnur, Second Vice President; Pamela Yaney, Secretary; and Steven Linn, Treasurer.
Elsie Appleby, President of the Worcester Chapter of the NFB of Massachusetts, reports the death of Leona Goguen on April 11, 1993. She writes that Leona was a charter member of the chapter, which was formed in 1948. She was serving as President at the time of her death. She had served several other terms as President through the years. Leona taught Braille and crafts to many and was an inspiration to all who knew her. Mrs. Goguen will be missed by all.
We are delighted to pass on the following announcement:
Gary and Mary Doty are pleased to announce the birth of Rebecca Jane Doty on August 5. She weighed 7 pounds, 14 ounces and was 20� inches long. Congratulations to all three Dotys.
**Reminder to Ask for Braille:
Several people have recently pointed out the importance of asking whether or not Braille or large-print menus, service brochures, and the like are available in public places. One producer of these materials reports that would-be customers often tell him that blind people don't express any interest in special format menus, so they have no intention of considering Braille materials until they see some indication that people want them. Places of public accommodation are not required by the Americans with Disabilities Act to provide Braille and large-print versions of their printed material for the public, only to make the information accessible to people who cannot read regular print. But it makes sense for those of us who prefer alternative format materials to use them if they have been prepared and to make a point of thanking the proprietor for providing them when they are available. Otherwise, despite the fallen costs of providing such materials, there will never be a groundswell of interest in acquiring them. Let's all form the habit of asking whether Braille or large print is available and using it when it is.
Here is a list of organizations that have made arrangements to provide Braille and large-print menus or service brochures: Embassy Suites Hotels and Fairmont Hotel chains, Olive Garden Italian Restaurants, Harrah's Casino Hotels, some Popeye's Chicken franchises, Cracker Barrel Restaurants, and McDonalds Restaurants. From time to time we will add to this list in the Miniature Section. Let us know where you have found Braille and large-print customer information.
We have been asked to carry the following announcement:
Romeo Braille embosser, model RB-20 (20 characters per second). Like new, about one hour of use, works perfectly. It cost $3,000 in 1988, asking $1,500, including Braille and print manuals. Hot Dots Version 1.5 also available. If interested, contact Jim or Becky Skinner, 707 Bridger Road, Lincoln, Nebraska 68521; or call (402) 474-9055.
**Graduate Research Fellowship in the Blindness Field Available:
We have been asked to carry the following announcement:
The Anne Sullivan Macy Fellowship is awarded annually to a doctoral student who is interested in conducting research in the field of blindness. We are particularly interested in visually impaired applicants who have work experience in a rehabilitation agency setting. Interested students would need to apply to the Mississippi State University Graduate School and the Department of Counselor Education and Educational Psychology doctoral program. Applications and supporting material must be received prior to March 1, 1994. A paid graduate assistantship of $650.00 per month is included, and the fellowship recipient would have an opportunity to participate in a variety of research projects at the Rehabilitation Research and Training Center on Blindness and Low Vision.
For more detailed information about the Anne Sullivan Macy Fellowship, contact J. Elton Moore, Ed.D., Director, Rehabilitation Research and Training Center on Blindness and Low Vision, P.O. Drawer 6189, Mississippi State University, Mississippi 39762; or call (601) 325-2001 or FAX (601) 325-8989.
**NABS President Wins Important Election:
Ollie Cantos is the President of the National Association of Blind Students (NABS) and a first-year student at the Loyola University School of Law in Los Angeles. He is also a member of the Board of Directors of the National Federation of the Blind of California. For almost three years Ollie has served as the NFB of California representative on the Los Angeles Legal Aid Board, which is comprised of several lawyers from the Los Angeles area and several people who are described as client-eligible and represent client-eligible populations. These latter also sit on the Client Board. Early in September of 1993 Ollie was elected to the chairmanship of the Client Board. Congratulations to Ollie Cantos!
**Seeking Pen Pals:
We recently received a letter from Vera Honc of New Orleans, Louisiana. She says that she believes she is the only blind Czech in America. This thought makes her feel somewhat lonely, so she is eager to hear from any blind person who speaks Czech.
She also wishes to assist two friends who would like to correspond with Americans but who do not speak English at all. Ms. Honc is prepared to translate letters in Braille or print or on cassette for anyone who would be interested in establishing a correspondence with either of her friends. The gentlemen in question are: Lubom�r Proke�, thirty-one years old, living in a small town in northern Moravia, part of the Czech Republic (former Czechoslovakia), who was born blind. He is interested in international politics, American literature, and the American way of life in general. Most of all, he is a computer enthusiast (quite knowledgeable, I might add) and would like to get in touch with another Eureka owner(s).
William Kraus, an elderly man, born in Germany, grew up in Prague (the Czech Republic) and now lives in Germany. He is an accomplished violinist and composer. Those interested in corresponding with either of these men or with Ms. Honc herself should contact her at P.O. Box 30065, New Orleans, Louisiana 70190.
**Networking Opportunities for Blind, Multiply-Handicapped Adults:
Colleen Roth, Chairwoman of the Parents of Blind Children committee on the Blind, Multiply-handicapped Child, reports that the Committee has been asked by some blind multiply-handicapped adults if we can arrange networking for them. If you are a blind multiply-handicapped adult who would like to network with other adults with similar disabilities, with parents of children with the same diagnosis, or with blind multiply-handicapped teenagers, please request our new questionnaire. You will be able to share the how-tos, the strategies you use in everyday life, the links you have forged, the opportunities you have found, and the volunteer and employment activities you have engaged in. Those interested in this networking opportunity may contact Colleen Roth at 1912 Tracy Road, Northwood, Ohio 43619; or call (419) 666-6212.
Robert Olsen, President of the Weber/Davis Chapter of the National Federation of the Blind of Utah, reports the following election results: Wayne Tippets, Vice President; and Mary Wilmeth, Secretary/Treasurer.
We have been asked to carry the following announcement:
I can knit and will gladly take orders for the following items: baby sets (sweater, bonnet, and booties, size 6 to 9 months), sweaters (for children and adults), shawls, afghans, dish cloths, potholders (both made of 100% cotton), and crocheted covered hangers for ladies' dresses, blouses, coats, and sweaters. Price information is available; please ask for it and for color cards, if desired. These cards also contain samples of yarn.
If you have lost contact and friendship with me and would like to renew friendship, please write to me in Braille or send letter-cassette tape. I will be happy to hear from you and will respond. I wish to correspond with blind people who have the following interests: working for the blind and deaf-blind, making new friends by correspondence, crafts and knowing about new types of crafts. I enjoy taking long walks. I can play the piano and plan to memorize hymns and some classical music. I also wish to correspond with blind and deaf-blind people who have OCD. Contact Adelaide E. Wink, 59 S. Lee Street, Beverly Hills, Florida 34465- 9130; or call (904) 746-3087.
**Braille Chocolate Greeting Bars Available:
We have been asked to carry the following notice:
THE CHOCOLATE EXPERIENCE, INC., has introduced a new and unique gift idea--Braille chocolate greeting bars. The eatable greetings are also available for fund-raising purposes and for resale. The Braille message is an integral part of the bar. A printed transcription is written in the bar too.
The handcrafted, gift-packaged chocolates are made to order of quality semi-sweet, milk, or white chocolate, and sugar-free milk or white chocolate (includes Mannitol as sugar substitute). The message is read through a plastic window in the box.
The available chocolate greetings are "Love You"; "Happy Birthday"; "Merry Christmas"; Happy Holiday"; and, new as of September, 1993, "Have a Nice Day"; and "Thank You."
Size: 7 inches by 4 inches. Approximate weight: 4.6 ounces to 5 ounces. Wholesale price: $2.25 for regular chocolate, $3.25 for sugar-free. A discount is available on orders of 100 bars or more.
Handling and shipping charges are additional; there is a $5.00 minimum shipping charge for the first 4 bars (via UPS). There is no minimum purchasing. For more information, please contact Judith Geva, 150-57 Bayside Avenue, Flushing, New York 11345; or call (718) 461-1873 or FAX: (718) 321-0217.
**Fat Gram Counter Now Available:
We have been asked to carry the following announcement:
Counting calories is out; counting grams is in. People everywhere are dropping pounds simply by knowing which foods to avoid--namely, those high in fat.
Some experts have gone so far as to say, "If you cut down on your fat, you will lose weight. It's as simple as that."
Discover for yourself which foods to snack on, like chocolate cake, and which foods to avoid, like graham crackers and corn muffins. Sometimes the advice is as simple as saying, "Cut your fat in half by switching from 2% milk to 1% milk." Find out why air-popped popcorn is better than peanuts, why pretzels are preferable to potato chips.
It's all in Harriet Roth's Fat Counter, which contains over 3,000 entries, including frozen entrees, listing the calories, grams of fat, cholesterol, and percentage of fat for each. Two volumes in Braille for just $6.95. New from National Braille Press, 88 St. Stephen Street, Boston, Massachusetts 02115; or call (617) 266-6160.
Sandy Jo Hansen, Secretary/Treasurer of the Black Hills Chapter of the National Federation of the Blind of South Dakota, reports the following election results: Noble Mellegard, President; Konnie Hoffmann, Secretary/Vice President; and Sandy Hansen, Treasurer. Jean Thompson and Joe Bolwerk were elected to serve on the Board.
**New Catalog of Low-Cost Braille Children's Books Available:
We have been asked to carry the following announcement:
Seedlings Braille Books for Children's new 1994 catalog is now available. Our first catalog ten years ago contained only twelve titles. Now we are pleased to offer close to 200 low-cost Braille books for children, ages one to fourteen!
Over thirty new books have been added this year including some book and tape sets for preschoolers, some new print-and- Braille easy-readers, as well as some great fiction for older children like The Hardy Boys, Boxcar Children, and Bunnicula.
These books are kept in stock, and prompt shipping is a high priority, but please order early to avoid the holiday rush. This year you can use your VISA or MasterCard.
To obtain a free catalog, contact: Seedlings, P.O. Box 2395, Livonia, Michigan 48151-0395; or call toll-free 800-777-8552.
**Self-Inking Stamp For Sale:
We have been asked to carry the following announcement:
The Albuquerque Chapter of the National Federation of the Blind of New Mexico is selling self-inking "Free Matter for the Blind" stamps. The self-inking design makes it easy to obtain a perfect impression and eliminates the need for messy ink pads. The stamp is also refillable. Please send $10 along with your name and address to Greg Trapp, 1330 Louisiana Blvd., N.E., Apt. 410, Albuquerque, New Mexico 87110.
**Home Shopping Available:
We have been asked to carry the following announcement:
Shop in the convenience and privacy of your home. Jett & Smith's Discount Shopping Service has gifts and products that are sure to please. Our catalogs include jewelry, luggage, kitchenware, flatware, sheets and towels, handmade sweaters, sweat outfits, toys, security products, etc. Cassette tapes and catalogs may be obtained free by calling (619) 325-9770.
In the August, 1993, issue of the Braille Monitor, a Miniature appeared requesting both stories about the ways in which Federation literature has helped people and reports on efforts to distribute our literature more widely. Kathy Kannenberg, chairwoman of the NFB Distribution of Publications Committee, asked that this information be sent to her. The correct address to which correspondence should be sent is: Kathy G. Kannenberg, 601 Dixie Trail, Raleigh, North Carolina 27607.
**From the Former Editor:
I got it at the National Convention: "C M ducks? M R N ducks. M R 2 ducks. L I B M R ducks." For those who care, the letter N stands for not in Braille.