The Braille Monitor

             Vol. 39, No. 7                                                                                                            July 1996

Barbara Pierce, Editor

Published in inkprint, in Braille, and on cassette by

The National Federation of the Blind
Marc Maurer, President

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ISSN 0006-8829


             Vol. 39, No. 7                                                                                  July 1996

by Kenneth Jernigan


by Debbie Blumberg

by Bruce Gardner

by David Walker

by Carolyn Brock

by Bill Meeker


by Philip D. Schuyler



by Cortney Osolinski



by Peggy Pinder Elliott

by Betty A. Walker

by Judith M. Tunell

by Loretta White

by Donald C. Capps



Copyright 1996 National Federation of the Blind

[LEAD PHOTO: The lead photograph is taken from the doorway of the dining room at the National Center for the Blind. Pictured are two long dining tables set for a formal dinner with tablecloths, floral centerpieces, crystal, and pre- set salads. The new piano is located behind the tables, in front of the west windows. CAPTION: On April 1, 1996, the National Federation of the Blind hosted a formal dinner honoring the officers of the World Blind Union and other guests. The dinner took place in the newly remodeled dining room at the National Center for the Blind. Columns were removed, and a walnut and oak floor installed. The piano is a Yamaha conservatory grand with the Disklavier system that enables a musician to record the performance on a computer diskette. At a later date the instrument, performing as a player piano, can reproduce the original performance. The piano was presented to the National Federation of the Blind by Deane and Marty Blazie and Tim Cranmer.]

[PHOTO #1: CAPTION: Dr. Euclid Herie (left) and David Blyth (right) PHOTO #2: CAPTION: left to right, Dr. Rodolfo Cattani, Mr. David Blyth, and Mr. Pedro Zurita PHOTO #3: This picture shows four musicians dressed in period costume and playing Renaissance musical instruments. CAPTION: In the banquet facility in Machiavelli's residence, musicians playing authentic instruments and dressed in period costume serenade the guests. PHOTO #4: This picture is of a group of people seated at a U-shaped table hard at work in a meeting. The two visible walls behind the group are filled with built-in bookcases containing Braille books floor to ceiling. CAPTION: The spring, 1996, meeting of the officers of the World Blind Union took place at the National Center for the Blind. The group gathered in the large conference room for day-long meetings. PHOTO #5: Imed Eddine Chaker is pictured in the International Braille and Technology Center. PHOTO #6: Shahid Memon and his two sons.]



by Kenneth Jernigan

Shortly after the World Council on the Welfare of the Blind (the WCWB) was established in 1949, the NFB became a member. There were then, as there are now, six U. S. delegates, but that is where the resemblance between then and now stops. In those days the Federation was what is sometimes called a voice crying in the wilderness. The agencies doing work with the blind in this country either ignored us or fought us, and that is pretty much what we did to them.

By 1964 Dr. Jacobus tenBroek and the rest of us in the Federation thought that a new beginning should be made internationally, so we spearheaded the establishment of the International Federation of the Blind (IFB). As some will remember, representatives from more than a dozen foreign countries came to our 1964 convention in Phoenix. It was there that the formative meetings of the IFB were held. A few days later in New York, where the WCWB was holding its fourth quinquennial meeting, the establishment of the IFB was completed with the adoption of a constitution and the election of officers.

Dr. tenBroek was chosen as the first IFB President, and the organization got off to a good start. Who knows what the course of IFB's history would have been if Dr. tenBroek had not succumbed to cancer and died in 1968. It is one of the might- have-beens. As it was, the IFB went into a long decline and in 1984 was submerged into the WCWB. The new body got a new constitution and a new name, the World Blind Union (WBU).

We were not represented at WBU's founding assembly in 1984, but we attended the first North America regional meeting in Washington shortly thereafter. I represented the NFB at that Washington meeting, and as Federationists know, I was elected regional President in 1987, a post I have held ever since.

Starting with 1984 (and especially 1987) our international involvement accelerated steadily. At a meeting in Montreal in April of this year I was again elected regional President. The term runs for four years and will conclude at the end of the WBU Assembly in 2000. A question which has been on my mind from the beginning and which now has increasing relevance is this:

How much emphasis should we give to international affairs, and how much to national? From its establishment in 1940 the National Federation of the Blind has had one primary mission. It is stated quite clearly in Article II of our constitution, which says:

The purpose of the National Federation of the Blind is to serve as a vehicle for collective action by the blind of the nation; to function as a mechanism through which the blind and interested sighted persons can come together in local, state, and national meetings to plan and carry out programs to improve the quality of life for the blind; to provide a means of collective action for parents of blind children; to promote the vocational, cultural, and social advancement of the blind; to achieve the integration of the blind into society on a basis of equality with the sighted; and to take any other action which will improve the overall condition and standard of living of the blind.

Even though our constitution makes it clear that we are to be a vehicle for collective action by the blind of the United States, it does not prohibit us from working with the blind of other countries. Yet the emphasis is unmistakable. Therefore, as our overseas involvement grows, how much money and human resources should we devote to our international effort, and how much to matters here at home? Specifically, and in my own case, how much of my time and energy should be spent here, and how much abroad? Whatever the answer, we should make the decision consciously and not just stumble into it by default. Meanwhile, there is no question that during the past year quite a chunk of my effort, my writing, and my travel time has been devoted to matters beyond our borders.

In April of 1995, for instance, Mrs. Jernigan and I went for five days to Caracas, Venezuela, to attend a WBU officers meeting. Anybody who thinks that American cities have a crime problem should visit Caracas. There are signs and warnings posted everywhere, and we were admonished not to go into the downtown area without proper security. To those Americans who enjoy guilt feelings and who think that everything American is inferior to everything anywhere else in the world, I can only say that my overseas travel during the past eight or nine years would have been a valuable lesson in perspective.

The time in Caracas was pleasant, and our hosts did everything possible to make our stay enjoyable. One of my most unforgettable memories of that trip is the visit Mrs. Jernigan and I made to the Saudi Embassy in Caracas for dinner at the invitation of Sheikh Abdullah Al-Ghanim. When I asked if the gunshots we could clearly hear in the distance posed a threat, the Saudi Ambassador answered with an obvious smile in his voice: "You are guests at the Saudi House. There will be no problem." The armed guards who stood at the gate and patrolled the perimeter underscored his words and left no doubt concerning his meaning or, for that matter, his ability to fulfill the promise.

The substance of the Caracas meeting was not spectacular, but it was solid. It was the sort of involvement with detail that must take place if an organization is to grow and have meaning. As was the case with his two predecessors at earlier meetings, David Blyth did a good job as President in Caracas; but even though he was almost three years into his term, he was just beginning to hit his stride.

This is no criticism of David Blyth. He has done an excellent job as President. Rather, it points up what I believe to be one of the weaknesses of the World Blind Union structure. Although there is something to be said for giving different regions an opportunity to elect a World President, continuity and experience suffer. If the WBU could keep for two or more four- year terms a President who was doing a good job, I think it might accomplish more. There are, of course, counterbalancing arguments. As to the general functioning of the WBU, there are other structural and constitutional changes that I think would strengthen the organization, but we must work with what we now have, not just what we think might be an improvement.

One incident occurred as we were leaving Caracas that I think would be of interest to Federationists. Mrs. Jernigan and I had allowed all of the time that we thought could reasonably be needed to get to the airport, and then had added about an hour for good measure. But as our taxi crawled down the highway, we kept wondering what the problem was and how traffic could possibly be backed up so much. As time went by and our taxi inched along, we began to be afraid we would miss our plane. Finally the mystery was solved. We were on a multi-lane superhighway, and at one point on the road ahead, every lane was blocked by a soldier, who was stopping every car to pass out a propaganda leaflet. As soon as we received our leaflet and were waved on, the road was clear, and the traffic flowed.

One more thing. In Venezuela, as in many other countries, you have to pay a tax to leave. I don't remember how much it was, but it is usually somewhere between twenty and forty dollars. A quaint custom--a sort of farewell/goodbye.

No sooner had I got home from Venezuela than I headed for Canada for an international conference on audio technology and library services. In August I was back in Canada again for a planning session for the meeting of the World Blind Union General Assembly which is to take place in Toronto this summer. These two trips are typical of what has been happening since the establishment of our WBU regional organization. I go to Canada at least two or three times a year, and Dr. Herie and other Canadians come here about as often. The relationship is a good one, and the exchange of ideas and information is constructive.

Last October (in fact, it was October 25) Mrs. Jernigan and I boarded a plane at Dulles airport and flew to Rome. The World Blind Union Executive Committee was meeting in Tirrenia, a resort area where the Italian organization of the blind has a headquarters and training center. Pisa would have been closer to Tirrenia than Rome, but the flight would have been on a smaller plane--and anybody who knows anything at all about my habits and proclivities knows that I have a miserable time flying. I pick the biggest plane I can get and occupy the time en route in misery and prayer.

Anyway, we spent a couple of days in Rome, going to the local headquarters of the Italian organization of the blind and doing what other tourists do--St. Peter's Basilica, the Fountain (of three coins in--yes, we threw our coins in, and were told they would be collected for charity at the proper time), the Colosseum, and other such. Then we boarded a train for Pisa, were met by representatives of the Italian Blind Union, and were taken to Tirrenia. It is a small town on the sea coast, and nearby is a large U. S. army base.

Dr. Rodolfo Cattani, who is one of the leaders of the Italian Blind Union and also Vice President of the WBU, was more than gracious in hospitality. He and the other Italian leaders did a good job in trying to anticipate our needs. They took us to Pisa one afternoon to see the Leaning Tower--which, incidentally, had a fence around it and was not open to the public because it is leaning too much these days. The authorities are trying to find a way to stabilize it. Of course, they could probably bring it to a full vertical, but that would take the pizazz out of it, not to mention being close to sacrilege. I am sure they will get it worked out. Meanwhile, I couldn't get close enough to touch it.

As to the nuts and bolts of the meeting, most of it centered on plans for the upcoming WBU Assembly in Toronto and related matters. President Blyth presented proposed constitutional amendments--the creation of the position of Second Vice President (there is now only one Vice President), increasing the number of delegates from six to ten for countries with more than 250 million population, and allowing the constitutional officers to have a vote at meetings of the General Assembly. Some people favored these amendments, and some people didn't. They will be discussed and presented at the meeting of the General Assembly in Toronto.

Various committee reports were discussed and voted on. Probably the most controversial was the report of the Technology Committee, seeking to establish a code of good practices for the producers and vendors of technology. It was decided to ask the Committee to consider changes in the proposed code, and I understand that they are working on it. Curtis Chong is our representative on the Committee, and he tells me that it appears that language can be presented that will probably be agreeable to all concerned.

A brief discussion was held concerning the status of Puerto Rico. Enrique Elissalde, the President of the Latin American Union, felt that Puerto Rico would be better served and represented by being part of the Latin America region instead of continuing as part of the North America region. The North America representatives on the Executive Committee pointed out that Puerto Rico is now represented as part of the United States and that transferring its affiliation to the Latin American Union would cause problems with the U. S./WBU relationship. Among other things, it was noted that there is now an NFB affiliate in Puerto Rico and that while some Puerto Ricans might wish to be represented through Latin America, others clearly do not.

I understand that a delegation from Puerto Rico was present at a meeting of the Latin American Union of the Blind this spring in Cuba and that a resolution was adopted recommending Puerto Rican affiliation with Latin America. I presume that the question will come up in Toronto, but I think that the matter will probably be settled amicably. I believe the U. S. delegation will be unanimous in its wish to have the blind of Puerto Rico represented through the organizational structure of our region. In view of the provisions of the WBU Constitution, I think this attitude will be determinative, but of course one can never tell.

But back to the meeting in Tirrenia. It was announced that Dr. Herie would probably be (the probability later became a certainty) a candidate for WBU President in Toronto this summer. There were the usual regional reports, and there was a report from the Committee on the Status of Blind Women. A determined effort is being made to increase the number of women delegates and participants in WBU affairs. Immediately prior to the General Assembly in Toronto, there will be a World Women's Forum, and financial assistance is being offered to encourage the attendance of women from developing countries.

The Tirrenia meeting dealt with one more item of particular interest to our region. The Executive Committee decided that the group membership of the Caribbean countries would be discontinued and that individual countries in the Caribbean should be encouraged to apply for WBU membership.

On the last evening in Tirrenia, we went by bus to the former home of Machiavelli, just outside of the city of Florence. It was an unforgettable experience, with players and waiters in fifteenth-century costumes and with what was said to be (and I am prepared to believe it) an authentic replication of fifteenth century food. Before dinner we went through the rooms of the house, and I found the experience extremely interesting. I sat in Machiavelli's chair, visited his wine cellar and felt of barrels higher than my head, and examined the general layout.

Our bus didn't get back to Tirrenia until close to 3:00 in the morning, and we had to catch a taxi for the airport at around 5:00. Thereby hangs a tale of strange occurrence. We had to go something like 100 miles to Milan, and our taxi driver spoke no English. Of course we spoke no Italian. Now, before we left Baltimore, Sue at the Singer Travel Agency had impressed upon me (in fact, she had put it in large letters on some piece of paper or other) that there were two airports in Milan and that I had better pick the right one or suffer the consequences. And, of course, when the paper was needed, it couldn't be found.

The cab driver made it clear through a series of gestures, and otherwise, that he knew exactly which airport we wanted--so off we went in one of the fastest mountain-road rides I had ever taken. One Milan airport is called Malpensa. The other is called Linate. We wanted Malpensa. We arrived at Linate; the cab driver departed; it was time to board; we were forty or fifty miles from Malpensa; what to do! We raced outside, found a taxi driver who spoke almost no English but made it clear he would get to Malpensa on time or risk a wreck, and raced toward the goal. The speed and hairpin turns of that earlier drive from Tirrenia to Milan were forgotten in the greater excitement of the present peril.

Suffice it to say that we got there (just barely, but we did), and we boarded the plane for home. It was a long trip. We flew to Frankfurt, Germany; changed planes; and came back to Dulles.

The WBU officers meet every year, and this spring they came to the National Center for the Blind in Baltimore. The meetings were on April 1 and 2, but most of the officers arrived a day or two earlier. We were pleased to host the gathering, and it was one of the most harmonious we have ever had. We tried to reciprocate the hospitality that our representatives have received in other countries. We met people at the airport, took them shopping, and held a formal dinner in the dining room here at the National Center for the Blind.

The interaction with all who came was pleasant and rewarding, but there was naturally more contact with some than others. Pedro Zurita, Secretary General of the WBU, stayed at the National Center, as did Dr. Cattani, Dr. Chaker (President of the African Blind Union), Enrique Elissalde, and Shahid Memon (President of the Asian Blind Union). Mr. Memon brought two of his children with him, and Sir Duncan and Lady Watson spent a very pleasant evening with us at the Center.

The subject that claimed most attention during the meetings was the upcoming meeting of the WBU Assembly in Toronto in August. Mr. Maurer and I, along with a number of other Federationists, will be in Toronto during the last ten days of August, first for the meeting of the Women's Forum and then for the General Assembly. I believe Dr. Herie will be elected President, probably without opposition, and I think that the Assembly and Women's Forum will be harmonious and successful. The extensive planning that the Canadians have done would be hard to equal.

Besides the travel I have detailed, I have done extensive writing and engaged in a great deal of discussion concerning the World Blind Union and related activities during the past year. And you should keep in mind that what I have described has occurred during that period of time (I am now writing in late May). So I come back to the question with which I started this article. How much of our effort should be devoted to national and how much to international affairs? And how much of my time and effort should be devoted to which? The question is real, and we must deal with it. It is not something that President Maurer or I can decide personally. It is organizational, and it is basic to our future. Meanwhile, the participation in the WBU continues, and I think productively.



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 the 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."



[PHOTO #7/CAPTION: Bobbi Miller]


From the Editor: It is probably too soon to determine the true effect of the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). One thing can be said, however: its mere presence on the books is illuminating a number of moral swamps in the legal landscape--places where, despite the new protections granted to the disabled, those who have no interest in helping disabled people get back to work can drown would-be workers in the morass of narrow-mindedness. The victim this time is Bobbi Miller, a correctional officer at a penitentiary in Illinois. In 1993 she suddenly lost much of her vision and took a leave of absence from her job to adjust to her situation and to acquire the necessary skills of blindness. That accomplished, she tried to return to work, knowing that there were jobs at the prison that she could do--provided that she had reasonable accommodation--every bit as well now as she could have done them before she became blind. It developed, however, that she was up against a rule stipulating that every correctional officer must be capable of doing every job done by every other correctional officer. Her union was willing to waive this provision of the contract, but Department of Corrections officials were adamant--Miller could not return to work because she could not guard prisoners and in a lock-down she could pose a security risk. In fact, Bobbi Miller can name several other prison employees who are disabled and who have stayed in the same jobs for extended periods of time.

But instead of trying to work out a way for Mrs. Miller to do her job, prison officials fired her outright in April of 1994. Eventually, having sought and received a right-to-sue letter from the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission (EEOC), Mrs. Miller brought suit against the Illinois Department of Corrections in federal court. The State Attorney General, acting on behalf of the Department of Corrections, asked that the suit be thrown out on summary judgment, arguing that, as the duties of correctional officers are defined, Bobbi Miller cannot carry out the essential functions of the job because she is blind, and that the Department was under no necessity to redefine the job for her, even if the position so defined already existed in the prison system. On March 1, 1996, U.S. Judge Richard Mills sided with the state and dismissed the case on summary judgment.

This judge has a reputation among Illinois attorneys for siding with employers, so this decision was not particularly surprising, and his decisions are frequently overturned on appeal. Mrs. Miller, with help from the National Federation of the Blind, is planning to appeal this decision; we can only hope that it will be reversed. On March 10, 1996, Tim Landis wrote a story which appeared in the Springfield State Journal-Register. He did a good job of laying out the issues. This is what he said:


Visually Impaired Woman Wants to Go Back to Corrections

by Tim Landis

The federal judge who ruled against her considered Bobbi Miller's a tragic story.

Hired as a guard by the Illinois Department of Corrections in 1988, Miller began work at the Lincoln Correctional Center. In 1992, she transferred to the Graham Correctional Center near Hillsboro.

"I enjoyed law enforcement. It's a different type of work. It's different each day," said Miller.

Before joining the state prison system, Miller, the mother of two children, both college age, had worked as a dispatcher for the Menard County Sheriff's Department.

But in the summer of 1993 her correctional career unraveled.

Miller blacked out at her rural Raymond home. When she regained consciousness, most of her vision was gone. Doctors blamed the problem on severe head injuries Miller suffered seven years earlier, when her vehicle had been struck by a drunken driver.

Miller took a leave of absence from the Department of Corrections and attended a school for the visually impaired in Chicago to learn to live with her condition.

Though she was considered legally blind, Miller inquired in the fall of 1993 about returning to work at Graham.

"I felt very confident and was ready to go back to what I knew and had dealt with for years," she said.

Citing her disability, however, the Department of Corrections refused. In April, 1994, she was notified that she was being fired. That decision was upheld the following month by a hearing officer for the State Department of Central Management Services.

After completing an alternative employment training program operated by the state, Miller took a lower-paying job in November, 1994, as an aid to teachers and students at the Illinois School for the Visually Impaired in Jacksonville.

She and her husband Don sold their home near Raymond to be closer to her new job.

But Miller has not given up her fight to return to corrections work.

Joined by the National Federation of the Blind, Miller filed suit in federal court last August, claiming her dismissal was in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Noting that she has partial sight, Miller asked to be returned to the Graham Correctional Center at the same grade and pay.

Miller, now forty-five, insisted that, with some accommodations--such as a guide dog, special glasses, large-print computer screens, and Braille--she could perform most of the duties required of a correctional officer.

Other individuals with disabilities have been safely employed in the state prison system, she noted.

"I know the work backward and forward, visually sighted or not," she said. "I would not take on anything that would cause a threat to the safety of myself or the corrections institution."

While there were discussions of assigning her to switchboard or armory supervision, the state refused to create such permanent positions, contending it would require changes in a union contract with prison employees.

Correctional officers must perform a variety of duties, including security and clerical work, attorneys for the agency said. And the ADA does not require employers to create special positions to accommodate workers with disabilities, they said.

The department also argued that Miller's blindness would create a health and safety hazard to herself and other correctional officers.

"To require the Illinois Department of Corrections to make accommodations to blind individuals to work as correctional officers is impossible, given the very nature of the work," said legal briefs filed by the Illinois attorney general's office.

In a ruling released last week, U.S. Judge Richard Mills agreed.

"A tragic story; the court certainly sympathizes with Miller's plight," Mills said. "Unfortunately, it does not appear it (the ADA) provides her with any relief."

The Act prohibits employer discrimination based on a worker's disabilities. It also requires that people with disabilities be considered qualified if, "with or without reasonable accommodation, they can perform the essential function of the employment position."

While the Act bars discrimination against employees with disabilities, Mills said the ADA does not require employers to create jobs for workers who can no longer perform their old duties. Neither, he said, is an employer required by the Act to find another job or change the duties of the job.

"It is clear under the ADA that an employer is not required to restructure a job by eliminating the job's essential functions," Mills said.

The National Federation of the Blind plans to help Miller with an appeal to the U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago.

"What we will argue is that there were and are positions that can be reasonably accommodated for her, and she can perform the essential functions of those positions," said Scott LaBarre, a Denver-based attorney for the group.

The union that represents prison guards--the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees--offered to waive certain work rules to allow Miller's return to Graham Correctional Center, LaBarre said.

The Federation has attempted to target similar lawsuits around the country involving visually impaired workers.

Miller's case is an opportunity to show that the visually impaired can work at a variety of nontraditional jobs if given the opportunity, LaBarre said.

"Most people do not think a blind person can work anywhere in corrections," LaBarre said. "We're saying that, with reasonable accommodations, they can work in that field."

Because of the pending litigation, attorneys who argued the case for the state declined comment.

A spokesman for the attorney general's office, which represented the Department of Corrections, said the ruling acknowledged the security risks involved in Miller's request.

While getting back to corrections work is her primary goal, Miller said she hopes her fight also will help overcome misconceptions and stereotypes about the visually impaired.

"It's a disability that most people don't understand or take the time to understand," she said.

Like Miller, most people classified as legally blind have some vision. Only about 10 percent have no usable sight. Someone is considered legally blind if one has less than 20/200 vision.

Neither does Miller consider her situation a tragedy. She said she has learned lessons of her own by working with blind students at the Jacksonville school and by volunteering her time to programs for the visually impaired.

"I don't allow myself to worry about `what ifs,'" she said. "I just want to be given a chance to go back and prove myself."

There you have the article, and that is where things stand at the moment. The story has one interesting little footnote. Several days after it ran, the following letter to the editor appeared in the State Journal-Register in support of Bobbi Miller. Here it is:

Group Backs Woman's Effort to Retain Job

Dear Editor,

I am responding to your article in the March 10 issue concerning the plight of Ms. Bobbi Miller, a visually impaired employee of the Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC) who lost her job due to her disability. I agree with Scott LaBarre of the National Federation of the Blind that with reasonable accommodations Miller should be employable within the IDOC system.

While I agree that IDOC is "not required to restructure a job by eliminating its essential functions," nor does it have to "create jobs for workers who can no longer perform their old duties," it does require such entities to offer open light-duty positions to qualified employees with disabilities should such positions be available. One would think that in the vast (and growing) IDOC system, there might be an open position that Miller would be quite capable of performing.

Moreover, who's to say that with the right accommodation Miller couldn't do her old job? In reading the article, the IDOC seemed quite rigid in what they perceive a person is capable of. I wonder if their perceptions are based on fact or simply myth and stereotype.

In any case the Coalition of Citizens with Disabilities in Illinois (CCDI) wishes Miller the best in her appeal to the 7th Circuit Court!

Robert F. Kilbury, Rh.D.
CCDI Executive Director

This case is currently on appeal with the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. We are waiting to present oral arguments on the matter.


[PHOTO #8: In the first picture a woman stands at a table spreading filling on three pieces of rolled out pastry. CAPTION: Yelda Quesada making a pastry filled with meat. PHOTO #9/CAPTION: Wayne Osborn, shown with Marieta Quesada, bakery founder and President, Association of Blind Women]


by Debbie Blumberg

From the Editor: The following article first appeared in the January 26, 1996, edition of the Tico Times, an English-language publication in Costa Rica. Mary Ellen Jernigan's brother Wayne Osborn, who is a professor of Latin American history at Iowa State University at Ames, was recently in Costa Rica on sabbatical leave writing a history of the United Nations University for Peace, which was established there in 1980. After seeing the article, he and his wife Ruth visited the Santa Lucia Bakery, met with a number of the blind women involved in its management and operation, and sampled the products. They report that the bakery is, indeed, a going concern:

Owned and staffed almost entirely by blind women, La Panader�a Santa Luc�a provides steady work while creating a wide variety of tempting breads and pastries.

On the south side of Plaza V�quez near downtown San Jos‚, the bakery opened in July, 1993 and, according to owner Marieta Quesada, is the first business in all of Latin America created by a group of blind women.

"It was very hard, because we had to convince our families, our communities, and our Costa Rican society that we, being blind women, could start a business," she said.

The idea for the bakery originated at a series of informal meetings Quesada and a group of twelve other blind women held to share common problems, ideas, stories, and humor.

"It was there that the idea to create work for ourselves was born," Quesada explained. Three members of the group, including Quesada, work at the bakery. All have been blind from birth, suffering from a condition known as pigmentary retinosis [probably retinitis pigmentosa]. In Quesada's case, she was able to see well enough as a child to learn to read, write, and draw. Each day, however, her condition deteriorates, and she now works with only Braille.

All of the women are from limited economic backgrounds, and the majority are married with children or are single mothers. They also all come from large families, are Ticas in their early thirties, and live in various parts of San Jos‚.

The women fittingly adopted the name Santa Luc�a, patron saint of the blind, for their business venture. According to legend, the daughter of a wealthy family was opposed to her arranged marriage.

When the time came for the wedding, she fell to her knees, praying, and offered God her beautiful eyes if He would save her from this doomed marriage. Santa Luc�a appeared, took her vision, and saved her. When the palace guards arrived to carry her away by force, they couldn't budge her. From that point on, Santa Luc�a has been associated with the blind.

To open the bakery, the women had to take out a loan, which they received from a local business, El Productor RL, after presenting the project to the company. They recently paid off the last of the debt for their machinery and equipment.

Although there are two sighted employees, their duties are no more demanding than those of the blind women. Each woman bakes the bread, sells the goods, and cleans the bakery. Quesada says their job is twice as hard, first of all because they are women doing a job normally done by men in Costa Rica, and secondly because they are blind.

Employees explained that it has been difficult to make money, and they are just managing to break even. Salaries are approximately $36 a week. Quesada commented that she is looking for additional funding and hopes to be able to move to a larger building and employ more women.

The women have always welcomed student volunteers and over the past year have opened the doors to six students from the Institute for Central American Development Studies (ICADS) program, which offers homestay and volunteer positions to participants and to one student from Kenya through the Amigos del Mundo program. Volunteers also have an opportunity to improve their Spanish.

The bakery primarily caters to the surrounding community, though some tourists occasionally wander in. Among the many delicious goods are pineapple and chicken empanadas; flautas; pastries with meat, cheese, or cream; buns; and freshly baked loaves of whole wheat bread.

The bakery is open from 5:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., Monday through Saturday. Though they have no phone, Quesada can be reached during store hours through a pay phone outside the business at 255-4499.


[PHOTO #10/CAPTION: Bruce Gardner]


Leadership in the NFB

by Bruce Gardner

From the Editor: Bruce Gardner was elected last September as President of the National Federation of the Blind of Arizona. He is Senior Attorney with the Arizona Public Service Company. Bruce and his wife have six children, and he is very active in his church. In short, Bruce Gardner is a busy man. During the weeks preceding his first affiliate Board of Directors meeting as President, Bruce did a good bit of thinking about and planning for the organization under his administration. The following article is a distillation of his thinking and the discussion that took place at the October board meeting. It should be helpful to the members of every other Federation chapter and state affiliate. Here it is:

Dr. Kenneth Jernigan began his 1976 National Convention banquet address entitled, "Blindness--of Visions and Vultures," with the following story:

"Behold a king took forth his three sons to judge their fitness to govern the kingdom, and they stopped by a field, where a vulture sat in the branches of a dead tree. And the king said to the oldest son, 'Shoot--but first tell me what you see.'

"And the son replied: 'I see the earth and the grass and the sky...'

"And the king said, 'Stop! Enough!' And he said to the next son, 'Shoot--but first tell me what you see.'

"And the son replied, 'I see the ground and a dead tree with a vulture sitting in the branches...'

"And the king said, 'Stop! Enough!' And he said to the youngest son, 'Shoot--but first tell me what you see.'

"And the young man replied, his gaze never wavering, 'I see the place where the wings join the body.' And the shaft went straight--and the vulture fell."

Dr. Jernigan, referring to the National Federation of the Blind throughout his banquet address, said, "A vulture sits in the branches of a dead tree, and we see the place where the wings join the body." His message was clear: as members of the NFB, we must keep sight of our vision of the future and not become distracted from our true purpose.

With this in mind, as the newly elected President of the NFB of Arizona, I decided that in order to capitalize on the strength of past leadership in the state and help our affiliate reach new heights, it was important that we be united in our understanding of the purpose of the NFB and of basic leadership principles. Additionally, it is important that we set goals and organize ourselves to reach those goals. Therefore, our first Board meeting following our state convention was dedicated entirely to these topics. All members of the affiliate were encouraged to attend.

I have now been asked to share my notes of that meeting with other Federationists. With the addition of some further thoughts, here is what we discussed: (1) What is the NFB and What is its Purpose? (2) Leadership in the NFB; (3) Goals and Objectives; and (4) Specific Committee Assignments.

What Is the NFB and What Is Its Purpose?

What is the National Federation of the Blind? In order to understand the NFB properly, we must recognize that it consists of two parts: an organization and a philosophy.

The organization is made up of blind people for blind people. That is significant. However, without the philosophy, the organization would not be much different from the ACB, or for that matter, the Lions Club or dozens of other organizations. Without the philosophy it would simply be another group of volunteers who have come together for the common purpose of doing good. Fortunately, the NFB is not just another blind organization--it has a philosophy.

What is the Philosophy?

* That blind people are normal people--simply a cross section of society--who just happen to be blind.

* Given real opportunity and effective training, the average blind person can do the average job in the average place of business as well as his sighted neighbor and can participate fully in the affairs of family, community, and nation.

* The real problem of blindness is not the lack of eyesight (because there are alternative ways to do what you would have done with eyesight if you had it), but the public's (and often the blind person's) attitude about blindness.

* With real opportunity and effective training, blindness can be reduced to the level of a nuisance.

In other words, NFB philosophy is nothing more or less than the truth about blindness. It is not speculation, wishful thinking, or fantasy. Tens of thousands of NFB members over the last fifty-five years have proven the truth of this philosophy. Unfortunately, the truth is not widely known, and misconceptions about blindness abound. However, the truth is no less true for its relative obscurity, but rather more valuable.

What is the purpose of the NFB? The over-all purpose of the NFB is to help blind people to be successful and to enable them to live and manage their lives normally, independently, and freely. According to Dr. Jernigan, a blind person needs three specific things in order to be truly independent, self-sufficient, and successful:

* He must know the truth about blindness--that is, he must come emotionally as well as intellectually to believe that he can be truly independent and live a productive, normal life. It is much easier to learn the truth intellectually than it is emotionally, but the emotional belief is key.

* He must acquire competence in the alternative skills which enable a blind individual to be truly independent. These are skills such as Braille, independent travel, and personal management.

* He must develop a complete understanding of the public attitudes about blindness and why those negative attitudes are what they are. And he must get to the point where society's attitudes (and the things which will happen because of those negative attitudes) do not bother or upset him so that emotions do not get in the way of success. You can't do what you need to do when you lose your temper.

How can the NFB fulfill its purpose of helping as many blind people as possible to become successful? Once we understand the NFB'S overall structure, philosophy, and purpose and once we understand the three ingredients which it takes for a blind individual to be truly successful, we can more easily envision how the NFB can fulfill its purpose. I believe it can do this by focusing its efforts in the three areas that constitute our three-fold mission. They are: sharing our philosophy (the truth) about blindness, strengthening our members, and advocating for the blind.

* Sharing the philosophy: Although we of the NFB know the truth about blindness, we gain nothing by keeping it secret; it must be shared. Our first responsibility is to share it with blind people who do not know the truth about blindness or about the NFB. As we have already discussed, a critical need of any blind person is to come emotionally to believe the truth. Since we know it, we have a moral obligation to pass it on to others.

Second, we must share the truth with the general public. We of the NFB are seeking the complete integration of the blind into society, and in order for us to accomplish this objective, the general public must become aware of the normality and capabilities of the blind so that they can accept blind people and make a place for us once we have been trained and have emotionally accepted our own blindness.

* Strengthening our members: The members of the NFB are at different stages of development--society is continually eroding our understanding of and commitment to the truth about blindness. Therefore, it would be as foolish to assume that a member of the NFB needs no additional philosophical help and support as it would be for a good Christian to assume that, because he read the Bible fifteen or twenty years ago, he does not need to read and study it any more. We should be constantly working to develop a deeper intellectual and emotional understanding of the truth about our blindness. Therefore, we must constantly strengthen our own members.

* Advocating for the blind: Our third broad mission is advocacy. We must advocate for the protection of civil rights, for quality educational programs for our blind children, and for quality rehabilitation services for blind adults. This involves state and national legislation, grievances, hearings, and demonstrations.

Everything we do in the NFB should fulfill one or more of these major objectives or be a supporting activity (such as fund- raising) which leads to successful implementation of these three major objectives. Overemphasis on one of these objectives will result in insufficient emphasis on another. The NFB strives for a balanced approach to fulfill its three-fold mission.

Leadership in the NFB

In the management of any business or governmental or private organization there are four basic styles of leadership, which are helpful to understand. First, there is the command style. In this the administrator makes the decisions and tells others what will be done and who will do it. Second, there is the input or counsel style. Here, after receiving input from others, the leader makes the decisions and announces them to others. Third, we have the democratic style. Here, the leader allows a majority vote to rule. And fourth, there is the consensus style. In this one the leader continues the discussion until all agree upon a plan--possibly a plan which was no individual's first or second choice, but something everyone can live with.

In an organization such as the NFB, each of these four styles is appropriate at different times, depending upon the circumstances and issues involved. It is generally understood that the consensus and democratic styles are effective in building unity, team spirit, and membership support. However, the more critical, far-reaching, or visionary the decision must be, the less effective the consensus or even the democratic style is likely to be. The role of a true leader is to have a vision of where the organization needs to go and the ability to employ a combination of the various leadership styles to make the vision a reality.

Three old adages can be instructive in illustrating the need for a mentoring approach to leadership in the NFB. (1) "A lazy mother does everything for her children." (2) "If you give a man a fish, you feed him for a day. If you teach him how to fish, you feed him for a lifetime." And (3) "He who can do the work of ten men is great. But he who can get ten men to work is greater."

In the NFB leaders must be mentors. We must be willing to set the example and say, "Come, follow me," but we must also make sure that we strive to enrich and empower others to learn to do for themselves and to do their share of the organizational work. It is inappropriate for the elected leaders to think that it is their responsibility to do all of the work. Also it is important for us to tap all of the resources which we have available in the organization, and we must help all of our members develop their talents and potential (even when they think they don't have any) by giving each of them the opportunity to serve in some capacity in the organization. NFB leaders must delegate, spread the work, mentor, and follow up because members need to experience and live the philosophy, not just hear it.

Goals and Objectives

When a chapter or state affiliate is setting its goals and objectives for the coming year, conducting a brain-storming session with our members can be very helpful. It is important to keep in mind the mentoring approach to leadership and the four leadership styles and to remember that our ultimate objective is to assist blind people. We should also keep in mind the three-fold mission of the NFB as we make our plans.

The major 1996 goals and objectives for the NFB of Arizona are: 1) establishing NEWSLINE; 2) getting a large Arizona attendance at the 1996 National Convention in Anaheim; 3) putting on a major fiftieth-anniversary state convention in September; and 4) strengthening our own members and the NFB of Arizona so that we can help more blind people be successful and also have more legislative clout.

Specific Committee Assignments

Once we understand the organization, its philosophy, the three things which every blind person needs in order to be successful, and the three-fold mission of the NFB, our work and the committees needed to do the work can be clearly envisioned. Most of the committees fall directly under the three main purposes, and several others support the basic mission.

(Note: It would not be wise or even possible to have each committee reporting directly to the State President. Accordingly, for efficiency of operation many of the following committees will report directly to other Executive Officers.)

Committees Charged with Spreading the Philosophy

Public Relations Committee: one major effort must be to reach the public effectively through the media. This includes airing radio and television spot announcements about the NFB, broadcasting our films on television, and placing articles and stories about the Federation in the print media.

Public Speaking Committee: Members of this committee give speeches at schools, civic organizations, employment or church groups, and teachers' or parent groups. This Committee should prepare white papers to help rank-and-file members make effective presentations. The committee also conducts training sessions in successful public speaking.

Dissemination of Publications Committee: This committee sees that our literature--"Do You Know A Blind Person," "What Is the National Federation of the Blind," "If Blindness Comes," etc.--gets into to the hands of the public. We can also create our own local and state informational materials. All these materials should be placed in doctors' offices, libraries, bank lobbies, utility-company mailings, etc.

Information and Referral Committee: This committee will handle the NFB of Arizona's telephone message machines, return calls, make appropriate referrals, and identify potential new members.

(Note: The major purpose of these first four committees is to educate the public and to find blind people who need our help or who wish to join with us in our work.)

New Member Mentoring Committee: Once we have identified new blind people, we must have a way of retaining information about them so that they do not inadvertently slip away, and we must have a mechanism to communicate the truth about blindness to them. Whenever possible, the one-on-one approach is best. Give them copies of banquet addresses. Talk about their experience with blindness. Invite them to dinner. This committee should prepare new-member packets and assign an experienced mentor to each new contact.

Newsline Committee: This committee's task is to obtain the financial and public support necessary to make NEWSLINE a reality in Arizona. Although NEWSLINE will greatly benefit our own members, it is mentioned here under Spreading the Philosophy because establishing NEWSLINE will require extensive outreach into the community.

Committees Charged with Strengthening Our Members

Philosophy Committee: This committee has two primary functions. First, it will conduct a statewide philosophy seminar at least once each year. Second, it will work steadily with local chapters to develop ways to get members to read and study NFB literature--banquet speeches, Federation periodicals, Kernel Books, and Walking Alone and Marching Together, etc. One possible approach is to establish a contest with points and prizes for those who read NFB literature. Each chapter meeting should contain philosophical meat--substantive discussion about what distinguishes us from other organizations.

Telephone Committee: The state affiliate must help chapters and members stay well informed about NFB issues and develop a strong network of close relationships. This committee must get the word out quickly. Each chapter is encouraged to develop a similar plan so that information flows quickly and accurately throughout the organization.

New-Chapter-Organizing Committee: As we learn of new areas where organizing can be done or as existing chapters get so large that they should be split up into smaller geographic areas, this committee will be available to spearhead the work.

National Convention Arrangements Committee: One of the most important things we can do to strengthen our members is to get them to National Conventions. This committee has two main functions: to work out the logistics of getting members to the National Convention and to work with the Philosophy and other committees to help motivate and inspire members to want to go.

Convention-Planning Committee: This committee has one function each year: responsibility for organizing the state convention--finding the site; choosing the dates; and negotiating the rates for rooms, meals, equipment, etc. During anniversary years the Committee should also plan special activities and programs.

Braille Literacy Training for Adults Committee: This committee will participate in the Braille Literacy Training Project established by our national organization. The project matches Braille-using mentors with adults wishing to learn Braille and assists the mentors in their teaching.

Job Opportunities for the Blind Committee: This committee, chaired by the JOB Coordinator, participates in our national Job Opportunities for the Blind project--conducting seminars, speaking with employers, identifying blind job-seekers, and working with the Director of the Job Opportunities for the Blind Program.

Awards Committee: This committee identifies candidates for the affiliate's special merit awards, makes selections, and arranges for plaques, etc.

Scholarship Committee: This committee circulates state scholarship applications, reviews candidates, makes selections, and arranges for the winners to attend and participate in the state convention.

(Note: A vital part of strengthening our membership is to encourage each chapter to hold discussions of NFB philosophy at each chapter meeting. Also each chapter should appoint a librarian to circulate NFB literature like the Kernel Books among members so they will have constant access to good training materials.)

Committees Charged with Advocating for the Blind

National Legislation Committee: This committee works with the National Office on needed action, contacts chapters or individuals to notify them of needed action, and participates in the annual Washington Seminar.

State Legislation Committee: This committee works on all facets of state legislation and plans and coordinates annual legislative events.

Grievance Advocate: The advocate handles complaints, grievances, and hearings involving problems blind people are having with either state or federal agency programs.

Governor's Council on Blindness: The NFB of Arizona holds three positions on the Arizona Governor's Council on Blindness and Visual Impairment. These three individuals represent the NFB of Arizona at Council meetings, advocate for NFB of Arizona positions, and remain vigilant to make certain that the Council does not take positions or actions harmful to the blind community.

Supporting Activities

Materials Inventory Coordinators: Just as modern business practice requires just-in-time inventory, we need to have the materials available from our National Office closer to home. Our state coordinators should have commonly requested and needed items on hand so that local members and committees don't have to keep their own stock pile of materials or contact Baltimore each time something is needed. The coordinators might also keep a few canes, cane tips, and other aids and appliances on hand.

Fundraising Committee: This committee will deal with two broad areas--preparing grant applications and traditional fundraising projects such as walk-a-thons, yard sales, or other new projects through which our own members can help to raise funds for the organization.

Newsletter: This committee is responsible for writing and editing the state newsletter, gathering information from chapters and divisions, and producing and distributing the final product.

Computer Committee: This committee keeps track of membership and other computer lists, prepares mailing labels, and carries out similar organizational duties.

PAC, Associates, and SUN Committee: The chairman of this committee is responsible not only for reporting on the affiliate's rank in these National fund-raising programs, but also for devising ways of encouraging broader participation from all members of the affiliate.

(Note: Local chapters and divisions will need to appoint representatives to work with the state committee chairmen for many of the committees listed.)

Do we expect to staff all of these committees immediately and have them functioning efficiently? No! We do not intend to run faster than we are able or to take on so many things at once that we cannot do anything well. We know implementing this plan will take time, but we have a vision of how the NFB can and will operate in Arizona. "A vulture sits in the branches of a dead tree, and we see the place where the wings join the body."


[PHOTO #11/CAPTION: David Walker]


by David Walker

From the Editor: One of the most difficult and painful dilemmas facing people who are gradually losing their sight is the question of when to begin carrying and, even more important, using the long white cane. One imagines how conspicuous and awkward it would feel to carry a long stick and wave it around, advertising to the world the fact that one is blind. It is easy to understand why week after week, month after month, even year after year people who really aren't safe traveling without a cane put off the decision to begin using it. David Walker of Missouri understands the problem, and he also understands that the key to making a successful transition to using the long cane is attitude. One's technique can improve with practice and the opportunity to observe good cane travelers. But if one never moves beyond the feelings of fear and inadequacy, it doesn't matter how good one's technique is; the person is likely to leave the cane standing unused in the corner. Here is what Dave has to say on the subject:

I recently talked with a young woman who was concerned about a friend with retinitis pigmentosa (RP) who refuses to use a white cane despite difficulty in traveling. I too have been concerned about this when meeting blind people who will not use a cane because they cannot accept their blindness. I hope this article, written by a person with RP, will reach this woman's friend and others struggling with this issue and help them adopt a positive attitude about their blindness and travel.

I grew up with RP. I learned to cope with the progressive loss of vision which caused me to alter methods of doing some things and cease only a few activities as a matter of safety and common sense. One of the activities which required alterations was independent travel. My adjustments were gradual because of the slow progression of RP and because of my own evolving understanding. I imagine this is common among others with RP.

Giving up my ten-speed bike was one of the most difficult things in my life since I had a great love of cycling as an independent mode of travel beyond a reasonable walk. However, my gradual loss of sight in my mid-twenties forced me to reconsider riding a bike after a few close calls and the resulting reductions in my biking to restricted hours and reduced speed. I had to resign myself to the fact that safety was a real issue and eventually sold the ten-speed extension of my powerful legs and independent nature.

My first experiences with a white cane were humiliating. I was a client of Services for the Blind in Michigan in the early sixties, long before I sold my bike. At the time I had very good partial vision. I could read the signs on the buses, identify traffic lights, and see oncoming vehicles at quite a distance. I really didn't need a white cane, but I was talked into getting one from the Lions Club so that I could ride the buses free in Detroit. I was commuting into the city from the suburbs daily for piano-tuning training, and the saved bus fares in the maintenance money I was getting from the agency looked good to me. Keep in mind that I had never heard of the National Federation of the Blind, so I didn't realize how much damage those so-called free rides do to the self-respect of the individual and the public's attitude toward blind people in general.

When I first held that thirty-eight-inch folding white cane with the bright red tip out in front of me as I walked, I felt as obvious as a neon sign. I was convinced that everyone was staring at me. I felt very odd. I was with the fellow student who had taken me to the place where I got the cane, so I didn't feel completely alone. It wasn't until Charlie and I went our separate ways that I began to feel really conspicuous. When I got on the bus and started to move toward a seat that I could see clearly, two people from opposite sides of the bus grabbed my arms and said, "Sit here." I found that reaction both unnerving and intrusive since I could follow only one instruction at a time. Besides, my freedom to choose my own seat had just been diminished by two strangers. After a few months of such experiences and of people telling me I wanted to go where I didn't want to go, I tossed my cane in the closet.

For years after that I didn't use the cane because of such experiences and because I could still see fairly well to travel on foot and on my bike. I never denied that I was legally blind; I just didn't like the idea of people feeling sorry for me and thinking they had to tell me where I was going. When I went with family members or friends at night, they always warned me of objects so I could walk around them. When my buddies and I went to a bar, they would give me oral cues or an arm to get through the dimly lighted bar. I was comfortable doing this with family members and friends with whom I had grown up.

In 1970, while I was a student at a community college, I had to take a couple of night classes. And although I was familiar with the campus, I was uneasy about the thought of traveling from building to building in the dark, walking into students, or falling down stairs. So I took the old cane out of the closet and put it in my brief case. I remember how uncomfortable I felt using that cane and worrying about what fellow students might say if they saw it in my hand at night, even though they didn't see me using it during the day. Actually, the thought that they would recognize that I was legally blind did not bother me as much as the idea of falling down stairs or walking into people without using the cane. At least the cane would warn me of stairs, other objects, and people despite its shortness. I also learned that most people would not try to drag me where I didn't want to go as had happened before, so I became more comfortable with the cane.

While I attended Michigan State University with its very large and complex campus, I began using the cane more and more frequently. I found that it was very helpful in finding paths in the snow; sidewalks; and those very hard, shin-bruising, concrete benches all over campus. As Charlie had told me back in the sixties, "The cane does a lot of talking to you," and it helped professors understand that I was blind when I was requesting reasonable accommodations for exams. I had developed some pretty good cane travel skills while at MSU, and I taught some other blind students how to get around campus, but I did not use conventional technique.

While I was a student at Michigan State in 1972, my brother introduced me to the National Federation of the Blind. I attended a state board meeting held in Lansing and met local Federationists. I recognized that the Federation and I shared a common philosophy, and through discussions with members and reading the Braille Monitor, I developed a better attitude about travel. I came up with a saying while helping a blind student learn her way around campus: "If you can get lost, you can get unlost."

After graduation I moved to Rochester, New York, and became more active in the Federation, but I still used my unconventional cane technique. Since I was in a new city and had to do a lot of traveling and nudging people and other objects became more frequent, I signed up for instruction in cane travel with a local agency. My positive attitude and past cane travel experience made learning more conventional techniques easy. Before I started lessons, I bought a longer fiberglass cane from our National Office, which set me on a new path of independence. Many people, however, have trouble taking that first, positive step-- conceiving of the cane as a true alternative, leading to independence; but believe me, avoiding those very embarrassing situations by using decent cane technique is far better for one's self-esteem than falling down stairs, walking into people, or having a serious accident with a motor vehicle.

I have met many legally blind people who are obviously in need of cane skills but who try to appear sighted. This is a serious mistake. If people think you are sighted and don't realize you are not, they will not take steps to avoid a collision. The person with diminished vision has the responsibility not to put himself or others in danger. Refusing to use a cane in such circumstances is irresponsible. Those who fall down stairs or walk into poles while trying to look sighted and therefore cool by not using a cane succeed only in looking like fools.

One day while returning to campus from the store, I encountered a blind guy crossing Grand River Avenue, a very busy street in East Lansing, Michigan. He was carrying groceries but had his cane tucked under one arm, pointing behind him. I thought, "What the hell are you doing?" I approached him and introduced myself, without saying what I was thinking. We became good friends. I got him to use the cane a little, but I could never get him to use his cane properly. He had been struck by numerous bicyclists on campus because they did not realize that he was blind when he stepped into their path without a cane. Had he used his cane, those cyclists would have seen it and taken preventative measures. The major problem with this blind person is that he does not accept his blindness, despite all the efforts of rehab services and friends to help him become a self- respecting blind person.

My late brother Jim, who had excellent cane travel skills and even taught cane travel and attitude-adjustment, went through denial as have so many others. Once, before either of us used a cane, he and I were in a bar with sighted friends. Jim went to the men's room, which was past the pick-up point where waitresses got their orders. Less than a minute after he left the table, we heard the crash of glasses and a tray. I remember commenting, "He got her." Jim had not seen the waitress stepping from the bar with a full tray of drinks, and she had no way of knowing that he was blind in the dark. They collided. If Jim had been using a cane and the excellent travel skills he later developed, he could have avoided that embarrassing public event.

During the time when I refused to use a cane, I remember suddenly stepping down a flight of stairs I didn't see in a dark hotel lobby. Luckily, I regained my balance, but not until I had run down several steps to catch up with myself and bounced off a door frame. A few experiences like these and also finding the National Federation of the Blind helped me gain a healthier attitude.

I can't count the number of times I have observed legally blind people dodging themselves in mirrors as they travel down the corridor of a hotel. It is sometimes amusing to watch such antics, but it's not really funny. This kind of public display makes our job of educating the public about the abilities of blind people more difficult. It also gives writers lousy material for television programs. If these blind people used canes, they would realize they were approaching a mirror and not an oncoming person.

I once stopped by the office of a blind woman here in town to do an errand for her. I told her that I had just walked several blocks along the newly repaired section of Madison Street to see what it looked like. (The curbs and sidewalks had just been replaced.) Her response was curious since she has known me for several years. She said, "Boy, you're brave." I told her that bravery had nothing to do with it; they were just sidewalks. It was not bravery but attitude.

I can assure those of you who share my old prejudices about the white cane that a change in attitude is very rewarding. If you think you do not look blind without a cane or do not want to be identified as a blind person by using the cane, consider the alternatives. You look more foolish falling down stairs, bumping into people and objects, dodging yourself in mirrors, than if you were to walk with skill and grace, with dignity and self-respect, using a long white cane. The first step is to develop a positive attitude about blindness and alternative methods of travel. After that the rest comes much more easily. Before you know it, you are gaining confidence, and that positive attitude goes with you everywhere.



by Carolyn Brock

From the Editor: the following story is taken from the Winter, 1996, Observer, a publication of the NFB of Montana. Carolyn Brock is a teacher and an active member of the Montana affiliate. Here is her delightful report of her visit to the home of Louis Braille:

Blind or sighted, most people have heard of Louis Braille. They generally know that he was French, lived over a hundred years ago, lost his sight as a child, and grew up to develop the system of raised dots which has become the means of reading and writing for blind people all over the world. But there is much more to the story.

I had read Kenneth Jernigan's article published in the July, 1994, issue of the Braille Monitor, discussing the NFB's financial contribution to the restoration of the Braille home in Coupvray, France, just east of Paris. The article also included a detailed description of the homesite itself. While planning a two-month stay in France last summer, my husband and I decided that a visit to the Braille home would be a worthwhile excursion.

On a previous trip to France in 1991, I had visited several centers for the blind, both in Paris and in Burgundy. Everywhere I was impressed with the pride that blind French people feel in the work of Louis Braille; at each center I was repeatedly reminded that Braille was originally a French system. This summer I learned that sighted French people share that same pride. Several days before the planned trip to Coupvray, we visited the Pantheon, the huge domed memorial to great French citizens in all fields of endeavor. Almost as soon as we walked in the door (I carrying my white cane), we were approached by a museum administrator who explained to me again how proud the French are of Louis Braille and directed us to his memorial site. I was given the English language version of a small book about Braille and the village of Coupvray.

The visit to Coupvray lived up to our expectations. It is only a mile or two from Euro-Disney and has only recently been surrounded by the sprawling metropolitan suburbs. But Coupvray itself retains its country village flavor. The old part of the village is very much as it must have been in 1769, when Louis Braille's grandfather built the original house. Like most village houses of the time, it was a single room with a niche for the parents' bed built into an outer wall. In the next generation Louis Braille's father, a saddle-maker who also owned vineyards, was successful enough to build an adjoining workshop accessed by leaving the living quarters and walking around the outside of the house to the workshop entrance. Over the years the Brailles had the money to add an upstairs bedroom each time a child was born, with two different stairways leading up from the two sides of the house. To this day the house is on the edge of the village, with a rutted road, navigable only to a 4-by-4 vehicle, leading off into the woods just behind the house.

Into this family, very affluent for villagers of the time, Louis Braille was born in 1809, the last of four children. He was blinded at age three in an accident with his father's work tools. When he was fifteen, his family sent him to the School for Young Blind in Paris, an expense which no ordinary village family would have been able to afford. At school in Paris young Louis was an outstanding student.

He was taught the system of tactile writing being used at the time, which used conventional letter shapes. This embossing system had been developed by Valentin Hay (who standardized the use of the white cane in Europe, and after whom the largest center for the blind in France is named). The disadvantage of the system was that there was no way for an ordinary blind person to write it. Young Louis also saw an experimental system, using raised dots instead of letters, developed by a French army officer, to communicate with his men at night. Not only was the raised-dot system easier for a blind person to read; it could also be written with very little special equipment. Louis Braille went to work refining the system. The result was the French version of Grade I Braille, with a symbol for each letter of the alphabet and the basic punctuation marks.

After becoming the first blind teacher at the school, Braille set to work teaching his pupils this new system of reading and writing. The result could have been predicted by anyone familiar with the story of Braille in modern times. The blind students loved the Braille system and used it to take notes and to write to each other. The other teachers at the school, all of them sighted, were totally opposed since they could not read it. But Louis Braille continued to teach the system, and by 1840 the French Ministry of Education had little choice but to accept it as the standard method of writing for the blind. It has since been modified for use in virtually all of the world's major languages and contracted into Grade II versions to fit each one.

The Braille house in Coupvray is a monument to this remarkable chain of events. The living room of the house is still sparsely furnished, much as it was in the early nineteenth century. In the huge fireplace hang cooking pots used at the time. Next to the fireplace, in a child-sized chair, sits a life- sized doll of a little boy, Louis Braille at age four or five, dressed in the clothing of the period.

Next door in Simon Braille's saddle-making workshop are the crude wooden workbench, table, and chairs, much as they must have been during Louis Braille's childhood. Display cases contain collections of the saddle-making craft.

Climbing either set of stairs, one arrives at a landing, where the wall has been knocked out, uniting the two staircases and thus the two halves of the house. On the landing stands a life-size girl doll, one of the Braille sisters, also dressed in authentic clothing. She indicates the way to Louis Braille's room, which now houses the rest of the museum. An attic room, still farther up, is yet to be completed.

It is in Louis Braille's room that a visitor gets a sense of the magnitude of Braille's accomplishment. Here are displays of the early equipment used to write Braille, primitive ancestors of our interpoint embossers and refreshable computer screens. But the most moving tribute to Louis Braille comes from the testimonials to him which are displayed throughout the room. There are cards and letters from all over the world, many of them bearing stamps commemorating the work of Louis Braille. Over and over, in many languages, they tell the stories of blind people whose lives were enriched and transformed by the work of this one person. It is a fitting monument to a man who over a century ago began changing what it means to be blind.


[PHOTO #12/CAPTION: Bill Meeker and his wife Cheryl Orgas]


by Bill Meeker

From the Editor: Blind people who live in Wisconsin and manage to retain a positive attitude about blindness are a long- suffering and necessarily tough-minded lot. The teachers of blind students fight hard to avoid certification of their ability to read and write Braille. The Business Enterprise Program is in shambles, according to a report compiled by the state agency's own advisory council. Now comes the latest indignity. Bill Meeker is a member of this hearty band of blind people. He is one of the leaders of the National Federation of the Blind of Wisconsin. Here is his description of the state agency's latest shenanigans:

The Goddess of Irony loves a good laugh, probably because it is always at someone else's expense. Goal 6 of the May, 1995, Three-Year Service Plan for the Blind of the Wisconsin State Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR) reads as follows:

To establish a system to ensure services are provided only by qualified personnel who show a positive attitude about the blind or visually impaired population. Subpart a., Incorporate into the annual performance review for all employees the following:

1. Provide examples or instances of how you demonstrated a positive attitude toward blind and visually impaired people.

2. Utilize blind or visually impaired people who have a positive attitude about blindness to evaluate the response.

3. If the evaluation is negative, additional training should be required and recorded in the performance review.

By way of comment on this lofty if jargon-filled goal, which was developed by a task force including consumers of its services, DVR said in part, "The Division believes that certification [though it is not clear what kind], with the educational attainment [whatever that means], is supportive of a positive attitude toward people with disabilities."

Come now the following two letters:

Bonnie Peterson, President
NFB of Wisconsin
Milwaukee, Wisconsin
March 7, 1996

Dr. Judy Norman-Nunnery, Administrator
Division of Vocational Rehabilitation
Madison, Wisconsin

Dear Dr. Norman-Nunnery:

It has come to our attention that the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR) has placed signs to mimic streets and roads, and making puns in its Central Office building, located at 2917 International Lane, to help the public find a given office. Instead of placing a sign over the Office for the Blind that read "Office for the Blind," the sign reads, "Blind Alley." You did not call it "Blind Boulevard" or "Blind Street."

In the vernacular of our language, an alley is a place people customarily throw their garbage. Is the Office for the Blind the place you customarily throw your garbage, and are blind people the supposed "garbage" you throw? The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, 3rd edition, defines "Blind Alley" as a mistaken, unproductive undertaking. Your message is that Wisconsin believes education and training of the blind is a mistake and an unproductive undertaking.

Perhaps you find the sign "Blind Alley" funny; the National Federation of the Blind of Wisconsin does not. Perhaps you find the sign "Blind Alley" helpful; the National Federation of the Blind of Wisconsin does not. I doubt you would put signs like this in the State Capitol reading "Governor's Gulch, Assembly Asylum, and Senate Sewer." Those would not be funny or helpful either. When people want to find a given office, they expect a sign showing the office in question's name.

Your sign "Blind Alley" is demeaning, insulting, unprofessional, and rude. The National Federation of the Blind of Wisconsin requests immediate removal of the sign "Blind Alley." We suggest you replace it with one reading "Office for the Blind." Thank you for your time and consideration of this matter.

Bonnie Peterson


Bonnie Peterson, Chairman
Council on Blindness
Milwaukee, Wisconsin
March 11, 1996

Dr. Judy Norman-Nunnery, Administrator
Division of Vocational Rehabilitation
Madison, Wisconsin

Dear Dr. Norman-Nunnery:

It is our understanding the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR) has placed signs to mimic streets and made puns in its Central Office building, located at 2917 International Lane, to help the public find a given office. Instead of placing a sign over the Office for the Blind that reads "Office for the Blind," the sign reads, "Blind Alley." You did not call it "Blind Boulevard" or "Blind Street."

At the March 8, 1996, meeting of the Council on Blindness the following motions were unanimously approved: that the sign "Blind Alley" be removed immediately and a letter of apology be sent to the major organizations of the blind in Wisconsin, and that any sign used portray a positive image of blindness.

The Council on Blindness does not find your sign "Blind Alley" funny or helpful. When people want to find a given office, they expect a sign showing the office in question's name.

The sign "Blind Alley" is demeaning, insulting, and unprofessional. The Council on Blindness requests immediate removal of the sign "Blind Alley." It might be a nice idea to replace it with one reading "Office for the Blind." Thank you for your time and consideration of this matter.

Bonnie Peterson


Oops, so much for "certification, with the educational attainment" being "supportive of a positive attitude toward people with disabilities."

My own Webster's Third International defines "Blind Alley" as "something that offers no opportunity for progress or advancement."

The question arises of what one is to do with an agency so clueless that it offends both the NFB and a state advisory organization comprised of members of both blindness organizations and unaffiliated blind and sighted people by naively proclaiming what blind consumers already know to be the truth about itself. Should we follow DVR's own guidelines and "Utilize blind or visually impaired people who have a positive attitude about blindness to evaluate the response," and insist that, "If the evaluation is negative, additional training should be required and recorded in the performance review"? Seems to me the first part of that has already been done. And receiving training, probably in-house, and recording it in a performance review to be read by the management that allowed the sign to be posted in the first place will fix everything, right?

Should we, in the words of one person, "Have them put the sign back up since this is the first time they've been so forthright about anything, let alone about themselves." Or should we suggest similarly truthful, but non-pejorative, signage such as "Abandon All Hope Ye Who Enter Here"? Then again, maybe "Office for the Blind" says the same thing.

To its credit The Wisconsin Department of Health and Social Services, through its Administrator, forthrightly apologized for the action of its so-called certified professionals:

Madison, Wisconsin
March 15, 1996

Bonnie Peterson, President
National Federation of the Blind
of Wisconsin
Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Dear Bonnie:

Thank you for your letter regarding office signs at our Central Administration office.

I agree with your assessment that the signs are inappropriate in any setting. They are especially inappropriate in a division that has the responsibility for assisting people with disabilities obtain employment. As a result I have directed staff to remove all signs except those indicating their names, effective immediately.

Again, thanks for your letter.

Judy R. Norman-Nunnery, Ph. D., Administrator

But the same people who authored or condoned the posting of the original sign are still working at the same jobs with the same attitudes, and it is uncertain whether Doctor Norman- Nunnery, who has had sharp disagreements with the NFB in the past and is in the midst of a major reorganization of state agencies, is willing or able to exercise the oversight necessary to change habits and attitudes built over many complacent years. This instance of self-embarrassment illustrates a long-standing problem that consumers have had with Wisconsin DVR. It could be a springboard for true change. If not, the Goddess of Irony might stick around for a few more laughs, and blind consumers can continue to walk down "Blind Alley."



by Philip D. Schuyler

From the Editor: The following article first appeared in the November 1995, issue of Natural History:

Early on a summer afternoon in Cairo, Egypt, the central hallway of Al-Nour wal Amal Association is quiet and empty. Shafts of sunlight, thickened slightly by dust, filter in from open doors on either side, leaving most of the corridor in dark shadows, a refuge from the blistering heat outside. It's Sunday and almost time for a rehearsal of the association's orchestra. One by one the musicians, women ranging in age from their midteens to late thirties, drift in from school or from outside jobs. Most of them wear a head scarf, or veil, which has become a symbol of conservative Islam. For all its modesty, however, their clothing reflects considerable care in the cut of the long dresses, the matching of colors, and the drape of the scarves. Despite the dimness, many of the women wear sunglasses.

When they reach the end of the hallway, the women greet Sherifa Fathi, who has taken her place at a desk outside the rehearsal room. Sherifa teaches Arabic and music at the association's primary school and also prepares the parts for each new piece. During the summer she may work eight or more hours a day, taking dictation or copying music at her desk. As she reads, she runs her hands across the page from left to right, but as she writes, her right hand moves in the opposite direction. She is writing in Braille, and like all who write Braille with a slate and stylus, she works in reverse, raising the pattern of dots by making small indentations on the back of the page. Al-Nour wal Amal (Light and Hope) is a center for blind girls and women.

In the rehearsal room five fans (including one on top of the piano) mute the sounds of conversation and tuning but fail to dissipate the heat. At four o'clock exactly, Ahmed Abu el-Aid, the conductor, enters the room. A sighted man in his early sixties, he is often called the Maestro, and with his chiseled features and silver hair he certainly looks the part. When the musicians are ready, Abu el-Aid announces the program for the day, beginning with a piece they've only just started rehearsing, Dvo k's Slavonic Dance in G minor.

Although most of the musicians can make out shadow and light, form and color--the association accepts applicants with partial sight as long as their corrected vision is no better than 20/400, the Egyptian standard for legal blindness--there is no point in leading the orchestra by waving hands or a baton. Instead the Maestro keeps time by slapping his lectern with the handle of a flyswatter. Then, once the music is well underway, he leaves the desk and walks through the orchestra, quietly coaching one section on their next entrance or gently correcting the position of a cellist's wrist and elbow.

Al-Nour wal Amal Orchestra is by no means the only group of blind musicians in the world. Indeed there have been so many blind performers throughout history--from Homer, the legendary singer of epic poems, to Blind Lemon Jefferson, the blues player- -that blindness and music are easily associated in the popular imagination. In a number of cultures, including those of Ukraine and Japan, the performance of certain kinds of religious song was formerly reserved for brotherhoods of blind performers. In Egypt the chanting of the Qur'an was once practically the only way for a blind boy to earn a living, and today Qasr al-Nour, the Cairo center for blind boys, has its own musical ensemble. The blind may be steered toward music simply because it is an activity they can pursue despite their disability. But many people--including a number of musicians at Al-Nour wal Amal--are convinced that an increased sensitivity to sound is a kind of compensation for the loss of sight.

"That's just a myth," insists the Maestro, who has been involved in music education for thirty years. "If the blind had a special musical gift," he continues, "we wouldn't need to test our students. But in my experience the blind are just like the sighted. The only difference, really, is that the blind have more problems because a normal orchestra depends absolutely on sight. The musicians have to have one eye on the conductor and the other on the score. There are blind musicians--excellent musicians--all over the world; but they are soloists. We thought of bringing them together in an orchestra." In fact, the center has two orchestras with about thirty-five members each. The principal ensemble, which includes some women who have been with the group since the beginning, performs in Egypt and abroad. the second, an ensemble of younger girls, was formed primarily as a training group but also performs for school audiences in Egypt.

When the Maestro uses the word "orchestra," he means, specifically, an ensemble that plays what musicologists call Western European art music (or "classical music." if you're shopping at Tower Records). In Abu el-Aid's view, the ensemble at the blind boys' center does not qualify as an orchestra because the group plays Arab music exclusively. The melodies and rhythms of Arab music can be extremely subtle and complex, but the organization of the ensemble is relatively straightforward: all the instruments play essentially the same melody, and an accompanying drumbeat provides an audible point of reference. It is far more difficult, the Maestro maintains, to coordinate the chords and simultaneous melodies of Western harmony and counterpoint.

The Western European art music tradition has long been a part of the Cairo cultural scene. In the early nineteenth century Muhammad Ali, who ruled from 1805 to 1848, instituted Western- style military marching bands as part of an effort to modernize his army. A successor, Ismail Pasha, built the Cairo Opera House, which opened with Verdi's Rigoletto in 1869 to celebrate the opening of the Suez Canal. Two years later it held the world premiere of the specially commissioned opera Aida. In this century Kings Fouad and Farouk were generous patrons of both European and Arab music. Since the overthrow of the monarchy in 1952, the governments of Gamal Abdel Nasser, and later Anwar el- Sadat and Hosni Mubarak, have also encouraged Western music through the founding of the Cairo Conservatoire and continued support of an opera company and a national orchestra.

Elements of Western music--especially the use of large orchestras with massed violins--have also influenced the style of Egyptian popular music since the beginning of this century. Nevertheless, according to Abu el-Aid, "Most of the listening public here doesn't know what classical music is. Brahms and Chopin don't have many listeners in Egypt." Egyptians do, however, like "clear, sweet melodies," and the Maestro indulges their taste (and his own) by planning mixed programs with selections of traditional Egyptian music, Western-style music by Egyptian composers, and above all European music from the later Romantic period.

The emphasis on the Western classical tradition helps insulate the orchestra from the criticism of conservative Muslims, some of whom maintain that music encourages licentious behavior. Although a few of the women at Al-Nour wal Amal are Christians, most are Muslims, and some of them were concerned enough about the propriety of their musical activity to seek the advice of a religious scholar. As Isman Fawzi, a bassist in the orchestra, explains, "Some people say that music is haram-- forbidden--but the sheikh told us that we should consult our hearts and our feelings. He said that, as long as the music doesn't make you dance or behave immodestly, it's all right." By these standards the women judged the orchestra's music to be morally pure, which is ironic since much of their repertory was originally designed to inspire (or at least emulate) passion through dance: Strauss waltzes, excerpts from Carmen, Khatchaturian's "Sabre Dance," Falla's "Fire Dance," and Saint- Sa‰ns's "Bacchanale."

Overall, the choices reflect the Maestro's desire to develop a repertory that will be accessible and educational to Egyptian and foreign audiences alike. Within a few years of its formation in the later 1950's, Al-Nour wal Amal Orchestra had progressed enough to give public performances in Egypt--at the Opera House, the American University, and on television. And the quality of the orchestra improved dramatically when Abu el-Aid took over as conductor in 1984. In 1988 at the instigation of the Egyptian ambassador in Vienna, the orchestra made its first trip abroad to Austria. This was followed by another tour of Austria the next year and later by trips to Germany, England, Sweden, Spain, Morocco, Jordan, the Arabian Gulf states, Thailand, and Japan.

The orchestra is the most conspicuous project of the association, which was founded in 1954 by Istiqlal Radi, the daughter of a wealthy landowner. Radi's previous work with the Red Crescent, the equivalent of the Red Cross in the Muslim world, had made her aware of the problems of the blind in Egyptian society. Even today, according to Nafissette Khafagy, the director of social work at Al-Nour wal Amal, "a blind girl, especially in the countryside, has nothing to do but sit in the house until she reaches a point where she is retarded--not mentally retarded, but socially retarded, culturally backward. She's afraid to work. She's afraid to speak." By the early 1950's the government-supported training center for blind boys was already in operation, and Radi wanted to offer similar opportunities to girls. Until her death in 1977, Istiglal Radi devoted her energy, her influence, and her fortune to creating an environment where blind girls could develop to their highest potential.

Over the years Al-Nour wal Amal has grown into a kind of conglomerate. Eighty girls and women live in the dormitory at the association's center in Heliopolis, a quiet, middle-class neighborhood in Cairo, and dozens of others commute to the center to study and work. About half the group attend a school accredited by the Egyptian Ministry of Education, with a full curriculum of primary and secondary courses. The others, enrolled in a rehabilitation program under the auspices of the Ministry of Social Affairs, manufacture carpets, basketry, socks, knitwear, and plastic bottles in the association's workshops. The sale of these products helps support the center and gives each worker a small salary (sometimes a major source of income for their families).

The center tries to prepare all the girls for an independent life by offering training in physical education, cooking, and home economics. For those in the rehabilitation program, marriage is the most likely path to a life outside the center, and should a young woman get engaged, the association will help her put together a trousseau and even provide her with a wedding dress. The staff and volunteers will also help the couple find an apartment and get a telephone line--major issues in a city of ten million. For those who remain in the dormitory, the association will engage a lawyer, if necessary, to protect their interests in disputes over inheritance.

Life in a dormitory can be hard on a little girl, but it is often the best choice. For example, Ma'ali Salaheddin, eleven, who attends the primary school and plays the violin, seems to thrive at the association, to judge from her curiosity and general high spirits. She has a blind brother and three sighted sisters, and when she goes home on weekends and vacations, her parents' apartment gets crowded. The family lives in a small flat, with a refrigerator in the bedroom, a washing machine in the entrance hall, and a tiny sitting room filled with a complete suite of locally crafted Louis Quinze furniture--red velvet and thick gilt paint on roughly carved frames.

Ma'ali's parents love their daughter--her mother often visits her at the center, and her father proudly displays a newspaper photograph of Ma'ali with the training orchestra--but they believe that she is better off at school. For one thing, their apartment is more than an hour's ride by taxi (and even longer by bus) from Heliopolis, making a daily commute impossible. Furthermore, after all expenses of the children's unsuccessful eye operations, the family cannot afford to buy toys for them, much less pay the equivalent of $100 for a violin for Ma'ali. Although Ma'ali and her brother are resourceful at devising games to play with the handful of toys in the house, the facilities are much better at the centers for the blind. Besides, says their father, they spend much of their time at home on the telephone, talking to their classmates. The children miss their parents and siblings when they are in the dormitory, but they claim that they are happy when it is time to go back to school.

Music and academics together seem to provide the best chance for success in the world outside the association. The younger musicians usually rank at the top of their class in school, earning high scores by national standards. Many go on to the university or the Cairo Conservatoire. After graduation a number of the women have found work in teaching, government administration, or private business, thanks in part to a law (originally designed to assist veterans of the October War of 1973) requiring that handicapped people make up at least 5 percent of the work force in any organization with more than 150 employees. Rather than looking for charity, however, the women simply want the chance to demonstrate that they can do work that is usually reserved for a sighted person. "When we play," says Iman Fawzi, the bassist, "we prove ourselves as Egyptians, as blind people, and as women. We show the world what we can do."

"The first group of girls didn't know what they were getting into, and look what they've accomplished," says Samha el-Kholy, founder and director of the music program. "This younger generation will be even better, I'm sure of it." Professor el- Kholy, who for many years also served as the director of the Cairo Conservatoire, urges the group to maintain its high standards. "People are so kind," she says. "They think, `Oh, these girls are blind, it's very nice that they can play at all.' But this is exactly what we are trying to avoid. Blindness should not be an excuse for mediocrity, but now I'm very sure that we have passed this phase. They have a special sound, they understand what Abu el-Aid wants them to do, and they play very well together. The crescendos and the diminuendos! And the ritardandos, oh my goodness, they do that so well! Sometimes I have my mouth open. How do they do it!"

When the orchestra prepares to rehearse a new piece, each musician learns her part separately by studying the Braille notation. Louis Braille was himself a blind musician, and his system--largely unchanged since its inception in 1824--can represent all the elements of a musical score. In contrast to standard musical notation, however, Braille provides an entirely linear description of the details of the music. The left- and right-hand parts of a piano piece, for example, may appear as separate paragraphs. The simultaneity of sounds, represented graphically in a visual score, is not immediately apparent.

Gradually, through touch and play, each musician adds successive fragments of the melody to her memory, fixing its shape. Once all the players have learned their parts, the conductor's real work begins. Abu el-Aid takes sections of the orchestra one by one and shows the women how their parts fit together. Then he repeats the process with two sections, then three, until he has put the piece together like a mosaic. The process is not easy even if the musicians have already heard the piece in recordings.

At the rehearsal of the Dvo k piece, for example, the orchestra sounds as if it has transformed the Czech dance into something by Charles Ives--simple, familiar tunes rendered interesting by staggered (and staggering) meters and the shrill dissonance of instruments just slightly out of tune. "Where are you, trumpets?" Abu el-Aid asks mildly, finally stopping the music. The trumpets remain poised at their players' lips while the Maestro points out where they missed their cue. Later, during a break, the Maestro seems a bit disappointed in their performance, but he reminds us guests from abroad that this was only the second rehearsal of the Dvo k. "Later on, they'll play something that they have already done in concerts," he promises. "You'll see. It's like a computer: you put in the program, and it runs automatically."

When the musicians return, Abu el-Aid raps sharply on the lectern, with a ruler this time. "Tchaikovsky, girls," he calls out. "Chinese, two, three, four." The orchestra launches into the music without hesitation, and the Maestro puts down the ruler and walks away with a flourish, like a matador turning his back on a bull. The excerpt from the Nutcracker Suite seems a bit out of place on a July afternoon in Cairo, but true to the Maestro's word, the orchestra plays perfectly, with no direction or cues. The performance is precise, enthusiastic, and perhaps automatic, but it is a great deal warmer and more human than any computer. And with a dozen violin bows moving in perfect synchrony, the orchestra looks as good as it sounds.

Two days later--rehearsal afternoon for the junior orchestra--the hallway is once more quiet and empty. Suddenly three young girls come clattering down a stairway arm in arm; in a flash of yellow and purple and green, they rush down the hall and disappear through one of the doors. Shortly after, another girl follows slowly, alone, taking short, gliding steps; with her arms held slightly out from her sides, she seems to float gently in an adagio ballet. Other girls join the group, and soon the squawk of an oboe and the groan of a contrabass begin to echo through the rooms. Out in the hall a clarinetist stands straight as a pillar with her back to the wall, alternately practicing Mozart and blowing green bubbles with her gum. In the shadows a cellist caresses her instrument as she tries to memorize a new piece, running through a couple of measures of music and then pausing to check the music sheets lying under the strings.


[PHOTO #13/CAPTION: Ed Bryant]


Often people want to know what the largest circulation publication in the blindness field is. The answer is not in doubt, and it is easy to give:

Columbia, Missouri

March 26, 1996

Dear Dr. Jernigan:

About this time each year I update you on the circulation of Voice of the Diabetic. To date, the circulation is more than 133,000.

See you in Anaheim.

Best regards,
Ed Bryant

That succinct letter from Ed Bryant, Editor of the Voice, tells a story of success that is unequaled in the field of blindness and that would be hard to equal in any field. Ed's dynamic work, along with that of the other officers of the Diabetics Division of the National Federation of the Blind, is the reason for it. It is not too much to say that we are changing not only what it means to be blind but also what it means to be diabetic. A recent letter from Ed to the rehabilitation agencies of the nation shows how it works:

Columbia, Missouri
January 5, 1996

Dear Folks:

Voice of the Diabetic is the free quarterly news magazine published by the Diabetics Division of the National Federation of the Blind. An important part of our support and information network, the Voice (current circulation 121,000+) contains articles by diabetics and health professionals, reviews of the latest adaptive equipment and research findings, recipes tested and tasted, medical questions answered by an insulin-dependent physician, and an extensive resource list.

We show readers who are blind or losing vision the skills of independent self-management, like how to draw insulins and test blood glucose levels independently. We help motivate our readers to strive for the achievable goals of independence and good diabetes control. Because both education and positive attitude are essential, we present our articles in an upbeat manner, spreading the word that, regardless of ramifications, people with diabetes have options; and that their world is far greater than whatever limits may be imposed by the disease or by anyone's preconceived ideas about the abilities of blind people. We help dispel the stereotype that diabetes inevitably means a shortened lifespan and multiple complications. Studies such as the Diabetes Control and Complications Trial (DCCT) have proven that diabetics who strive for good control and maintain positive outlooks are far more likely to remain productive, independent, and in the mainstream.

Many rehabilitation professionals find our publication helpful in encouraging their clients to keep their diabetes under control. Just like an in-person support group, we reach out to fellow diabetics, sharing what we know from having been there ourselves. Our positive attitude is contagious and is meant to infect your clients. The Voice helps show them that they are not alone and that neither their blindness nor their diabetes should keep them from being independent, active, and employable. Diabetes control is a discipline--but the Voice helps show that it is achievable.

The Diabetics Division of the National Federation of the Blind, a support and information network for all diabetics, especially those who are blind or are losing vision, maintains a number of committees ready to help those with concerns about diabetes. As covered in our free pamphlet, "Diabetes, Complications, Options" (enclosed) these committees encompass such topics as Blindness/Visual Dysfunction, Amputation/Prevention and Treatment, Heart Disease and Stroke, Insulin Pump, Pancreas Transplantation, Renal Failure/Dialysis and Kidney Transplantation, Resources/Aids and Appliances, Male Impotence/Sexual Dysfunction, etc. A reader with specific concerns about diabetes can easily be put in touch with others having similar experiences. We in the Diabetics Division are part of a family. We look after each other.

Over 14,000 health professionals receive the Voice; many distribute it to their clients and patients as free literature. Multiple copies in standard print or 15/16 IPS audiocassette are available at no charge for distribution each quarter (we publish four times a year). A subscription form is included. Feel free to duplicate as needed.

Who in your state rehab agency has the authority to allow us to mail the Voice, free of charge, to all diabetic clients? We'll contact him or her. We'd like to mail each client, at our expense, a packet consisting of a cover letter (copy enclosed), a copy of "Diabetes, Complications, Options," and two copies of the Voice, one in standard print, and one on audiocassette. We can ship the prepared mailing to you for labeling, so as not to compromise client anonymity.

Today, although the largest publication in the blindness field, and the largest in accessible format in the diabetes and blindness field, we reach less than one percent of the current diabetic population in the U.S. Diabetic retinopathy is the leading cause of new blindness in the United States, and the Centers for Disease Control predict 15,000 to 39,000 people will become blind from diabetes this year. Our work has just begun. Please help us reach out.

Incidentally, I am an insulin-dependent diabetic and have been so for thirty-six years. I have been blind for more than sixteen years and had a kidney transplant in 1983. I know diabetes and blindness firsthand. Interested persons can contact me at the address shown above. Anyone desiring a sample copy of Voice of the Diabetic, should also contact the address shown above. Please specify desired format(s).

Thank you very much for your time.

Best regards,
Ed Bryant
First Vice President
Diabetics Division
National Federation of the Blind
Editor, Voice of the Diabetic


From the Editor: In late April I attended the convention of the National Federation of the Blind of Louisiana as the national representative. It was a wonderful convention, not least because one of those attending it was Joel Fernandez, President Joan Wilson's son who was gravely ill this past winter. Joel was participating fully in convention activities and behaving not at all as if he had recently been close to death for weeks. Everyone present gave thanks for Joel's miraculous return to strength and health.

One of the programmatic highlights of the convention was a panel presentation by some of the affiliate's youngest members. They had been invited to talk about the importance of the National Federation of the Blind in their own lives. This is what two of them had to say:

[PHOTO #14/CAPTION: Wayne Pearcy]

I Wish Blind Kids Had Freedom

by Wayne Pearcy

I like being a blind boy. I think it's fun. I get to use a cane. I get to go to a lot of conventions. I get to make Braille pictures. I get to act in plays about blind people. These things make me feel like I have freedom. Some things make me feel like I don't have freedom. I have a principal who doesn't treat me right. I had a problem with the bleachers. The third graders sit on bleacher number four. The kindergartners sit on the bottom bleacher. Because I was blind, my principal made me sit with the kindergartners every morning in the gym. But Mom and Dad talked my principal into letting me sit with my third grade group. I'm so glad I have Mom and Dad to turn to. They helped me get back my freedom.

We blind kids go through a lot because of people who can see. My principal talked my teachers into not letting me do things. I feel sorry and ashamed that I go through all this discrimination. I think blind kids should raise the flag for freedom. Because I don't have a flag for freedom, I'll use my hand.

Advice from a Fourth-Grader

by Amber Chesser

My name is Amber Chesser. I am a fourth grade student at Hayden R. Lawrence Elementary School in Rapides Parish. I am in the gifted program, and I really love school. I am here to talk to blind children, parents of blind children, and teachers of blind children.

First, I would like to tell you a few of the things that I have accomplished in my life. I can skate, swim, and ride my bike. I am in the process of trying to learn to ride without training wheels on my new bike. I love to read Braille, type on the computer, watch movies, and cook. I am learning to play the piano, and I read Braille music, which is very different from Braille print. I can write in cursive and speak Spanish. I have a baby brother; and I change his diapers, play with him, and make his bottles for my mother. I make my own bed, but not every day. And last of all, I love to talk on the telephone like anybody else.

I am not saying all this to brag on myself. I am just showing you how much a blind child can do. They can only do those things if they are really determined. They have to believe in themselves enough, and then they can ask their parents or teachers for help. I want to tell parents of blind children and teachers of blind children that the kids can do anything, but you also have to believe in them. You can't just say, "No, you might get hurt." You have to encourage the children. I said before that the children have to believe in themselves, and the teachers and parents do also, but the children are the ones who have to have the strongest belief.

As parents you need to let children take risks. If they are trying to ride their bike without training wheels and they fall and hurt themselves, don't let them give up. It's okay if they are scared to do something. Let them have time to not be scared and then let them do anything that is not dangerous. For example, you wouldn't want to let them drive a car, but if they want to go to a friend's house to spend the night, let them. You should also let them go to the Buddy Program in Ruston. When I went there the first year, my mom had a hard time, and I did too. I was very homesick. My mom kept asking me if I wanted them to come and get me, but I said no and I stayed the whole four weeks. The second year I was a lot better, and now I want to go back this summer. If you want your children to be independent and happy, let them do things, and remember that you have to believe in them and don't let them give up.

Now to the teachers of blind children I would like to say this. You also have to believe in your students. I have a lot of teachers this year. They had never had a blind student in their class before. They had to learn, and soon they treated me like any other student. You might have to learn too. Don't be afraid to ask the students things. My teachers were interested in how I did things. The students were also interested. If your student needs help with work, help him. He will tell you if he doesn't understand. Let the other students help the blind child, but don't let them help all the time. My teachers don't. If you want your students to be independent, you need to help them. In second grade my teacher didn't show me around the room, and my mother asked her to do that. After she did, I was able to go and get anything I needed. If you want good students, let them be independent.

I would like to say this to blind children. You can do anything you want to if you just try. Don't ever give up. If you make a mistake, it's okay. In school, if you need a little more help than other students, ask. If you drop something, get out of your seat and look for it. Don't just sit and wait for someone to notice it and pick it up for you. When people don't know me and they want to get to know me, they ask me things. People will do that to any blind person because they are interested. Sometimes I get tired of answering, but I go ahead and answer. You need to do that also. Don't just ignore them. One of my friends was very interested, so I gave her an alphabet card, and she quickly learned to read and write Braille. At first I didn't believe she could do it. Now we write notes to each other. In science this year one of our units was on Braille. My teacher invited me to do a presentation on Braille to all of her classes. It was neat.

If I could make one point to the children here today, it would be to go to the Buddy Program in Ruston. It is really fun. The first year I went I was really homesick. The second year was better, and this summer I can't wait to get back. It was very helpful to me. I learned a lot of good skills, and I'm hoping to improve those skills and learn more each year.

I'd like parents, teachers, and blind children to always remember this. You have to have confidence.


[PHOTO #15 & #16: There are two photographs of Cortney Osolinski. In the first she is dressed in a gorilla costume, and her cane is wound in artificial vine. In the second she is wearing a Christmas nightgown, and her cane is decorated like a candy cane. CAPTION #15: Cortney Osolinski in her award-winning Halloween costume. CAPTION #16: Cortney Osolinski ready for Christmas]


by Cortney Osolinski

From the Editor: We in the Federation frequently remind one another that our children are our future. This is, of course, not strictly true. Many, many people become blind as adults, and our chapters and affiliates certainly count on their participation and growing leadership skills as well as those of the blind children who grow up in the Federation family. But children do provide a powerful symbol for us of promise and possibility.

In the previous article you met two delightful and wise young people who are already well on their way to becoming competent and confident adult Federationists. Now meet another. Cortney Osolinski lives in New Jersey. She will be eleven in August, and, as you will conclude when you read the following letter and article, she has personality running out her fingers. She recently wrote the following letter to the Editor of the Braille Monitor. It and the article she enclosed are self- explanatory. Here they are:

Vineland, New Jersey

Dear Sir or Madam,

My name is Cortney. I'm in fourth grade, and I am a member of the Garden State Chapter of the National Federation of the Blind of New Jersey. I am a writer, and I have just won a contest. My poem, "A Blind Dog," was accepted for publication in the anthology A Celebration of Young Poets.

I want to be a paleontologist and a dog trainer. I have three ribbons and several awards from horse-riding competitions. I play the violin ("Ode to Joy" is my favorite), and I have a yellow belt in Karate.

My favorite thing to do is go to NFB conventions. I get my own key to our room, all my best friends are there, and I don't have to go to bed at 9:00 p.m. There is a lot of Braille to read, and I always have a party in my room with no adults.

I hope you like my article, "Almost One Hundred and One Ways to Decorate Your Cane."

Cortney Osolinski

I would like to share with all my NFB friends some of my ideas on how I decorate my cane, but first let me tell you why I decorate it: for holidays, sports events, parties, and just for fun! I love my cane now. I didn't when I was little, but now I think even my sighted friends wish they had one. In fact, some of my ideas came from them. They're always telling me what they would do if they had one.

I disguise my cane at Halloween so it will not give me away, and it really adds to my costume. Last year I won second prize in a contest. I would have won first, but I didn't have my plastic bananas in time. I was a gorilla, and my cane was covered with fake green vine. No one knew it was me, and some of the little kids thought I was a real ape! In the parade I stopped and pounded on my chest every few feet and made gorilla calls.

My mom said I have to include her rules for me when I decorate my cane so:

1. Keep the handle clear so I still have a good grip.

2. I can't go outside at night with my cane covered in dark colors.

3. I have to use my old cane or not damage my good one.

4. Only do to my cane what I know is safe (and fun). I'll start with Christmas because everyone loved my "candy cane," and it was my NFB chapter President Mrs. Everlee Dow who said I should share my ideas with Braille Monitor readers.

The Candy Cane: Start at one end and wrap with red garland or ribbon, leaving one-inch spaces all the way up. It looks great like that, but you can add a piece of curved styrofoam and wrap it too. You can put a big red bow right where you taped the styrofoam on.

Lights Alive: Spiral-wrap a battery-operated string of about twenty lights the whole length of your cane. This one's great at night, and all my friends want a turn holding it!

Are You Listening: Tie bells near the handle. Mom likes this one when we're in a hurry because everyone hears me coming and steps out of my way. We can even run through the mall.

O Tannenbaum: Cover your cane with green shiny paper. Add garland and little silk or plastic balls all over it. I think I'll ask Santa to put presents around it too. He is blind, you know.

Christmas Flowers: Tie fresh or fake poinsettias near the handle of your cane.

Frosty: Cover your cane with white cotton. Put a little plastic top hat just under the handle, button eyes, and a paper carrot nose.

Yummy Cane: Tape mini candy canes or any wrapped Christmas candy all over your cane. This is my favorite.

Shepherd's Staff: This is for when you're in a school, church, or club play. You can be a shepherd when you go Christmas caroling.

New Year is next:

Celebrate: Tape a "Happy New Year" banner lengthwise down your cane.

Party Animal: Dangle streamers of many colors all over your cane.

Numbers: Tape the number of the New Year once or all over your cane.

Super Bowl Sunday, or any sports event:

Pigskins: Tape brown cut-out footballs dangling from your cane.

Home Team: Wrap your cane in your team colors.

Cheers: Tape a shaker or pompom near the handle.

Mascot: Hang a stuffed animal or picture of team mascot on your cane.

Hokey Hockey: Cut out the club part of a hockey stick and tape it onto the bottom of your cane.

Now some things for Valentine's Day:

Cupid's Arrow: Put feathers at the top and a cut-out paper arrow point near the tip.

Love and Kisses: Cover your cane with red hearts and Hershey's kisses.

Love Stinks: Dangle a paper cut-out of a skunk and red hearts from your cane.

Wrapped With Love: Wrap your cane from top to bottom with red foil heart garland.

That Someone Special: Dangle the picture or the name of your Valentine from the cord or handle of your cane.

Next is St. Patrick's Day:

Luck of the Irish: Make a giant shamrock by wrapping your cane with green paper and cut out four leaves to tape just under the handle.

Top of the Mornin': Put a paper Leprechaun near the top of your cane, colored paper going down the length like a rainbow, and a paper picture of a pot of gold near the tip.

Kiss Me, I'm Irish: (Mom's favorite) Put a "Kiss me, I'm Irish" pin on your cane, shirt, coat, hat, or socks.

Shamrock Special: Cover your cane with shiny shamrock stickers.

Glowing Green: Remember at Christmas to get extra green lights and use a battery-powered string of twenty lights to wrap your cane.

Next is Easter:

The Egg Hunt: Wrap string around green Easter grass covering your cane. Then glue little plastic eggs in.

Peter Cotton Tail: Glue or tape lots of colored cotton balls all over your cane.

Jesus Died For Me: Cut white paper to make your cane into a cross and tape it on. Braille and print your favorite Easter verse across the cross.

Haul a Nail: Tape a nail on your cane as a reminder.

Tastiest: Tape covered chocolate Easter eggs all over your cane.

Fourth of July and the National Convention:

Star Spangled Banner: Tape red ribbon stripes around your cane, leaving room for blue star stickers in between.

Flag Pole: Tie a small flag near the top of your cane.

Okay, now for my favorite: Halloween. Make your cane into something that goes with your costume like:

French Maid: Create a feather duster on your cane.

Cheerleader: Tie a pompom or shaker to your cane.

Jail Bird: Attach a painted-black styrofoam ball and chain to your cane.

Witch: Make your cane into a broom stick.

Indian: Your cane can be a totem pole.

Barber: Turn your cane into a barber's pole.

Baby: Make it a lollypop.

Queen or Fairy: Do some magic of your own and make a magic wand.

Devil: Make a pitchfork.

Native: A spear.

Tarzan, ape, or dinosaur: wrap your cane with fake green vine.

Stranded Island Survivor: Your cane can become a palm tree.

Farmer: It's a hoe.

Clown: Make it a leash and add a paper dog.

King: Make a scepter.

Fisherman: It becomes a fishing pole.

Mummy or Grave Digger: It can be a shovel.

Bride: Attach a bouquet of flowers and a draped veil.

Bunny: Turn your cane into a giant carrot.

Cave Man or Dog: Make it a big white bone.

Accident Victim: It can become a crutch.

Really Bad Accident Victim: tape a small plastic baggie with ketchup at the top of your cane; then tape one end of a red shoe- string licorice whip to the bag and the other end to your arm. It's an IV pole.

Band Leader: It can be a baton.

Sailor: It can be a lighthouse. Use a little flashlight on the top.

Cave Man: Make it a club.

G.I. Joe: You can make a rifle.

Henry the Eighth: Turn your cane into a turkey leg.

Bo Peep: Make the Christmas candy cane without the stripe.

Casper: Turn your cane into Uncle Stretch.

Scarecrow: The cane becomes a skinny bail of hay.

Hawaiian: Cover it with flowers.

In the fall you can make your cane into a big sunflower. When I was little, my mom always put something on the cord of my cane to keep my hands busy, like snap-together beads or toy chain links. She says that, if she had a cane, she would put a stress ball on it. You could put Rosary beads or a picture of your children or family on it. I think that my mom's best idea is getting the plastic eyes you can buy at the craft store for making stuffed animals and taping them near the tip of your cane. I think it helps new kids I meet and even adults understand what a cane is. It explains itself this way and saves me from having to try.

I always have lots of fun with my cane. I love my cane. And since we'll be together for a long time, I plan on having lots more fun with it. I hope you do too.

Look for my next article on "One Hundred and One Inventions to help me and other blind people, like a cane/umbrella and a toothbrush whose handle holds the toothpaste--just one pump, wet, and you're set. Well, I don't want to give too much away.

You think that I'm insane

Because I love my cane?

It might just bring me fame;

See, now even you know my name.



From the Editor: This month's issue has developed something of an international flavor. The following brief article demonstrates that blind people around the world are making progress in demanding and winning equal treatment. The article appeared in the March 22, 1996, edition of The Hindu, India's national newspaper. Here it is:

At a time when the physically handicapped are being brought into the mainstream by recognizing the fact they are differently abled and can be useful members of society if the latter gives them some concessions, a Delhi woman had to go through untold mental agony to get a current account opened in a premier bank, which boasts of running some good social projects across the country--all because she is visually handicapped.

Ms. Preeti Singh, a resident of Swati apartments, Patparganj, had proved herself as a successful entrepreneur, but the State Bank of India (SBI) did not have the compassion to appreciate her. She could not exercise the citizen's privilege of opening a savings bank account in the bank's Zakir Nagar branch-- not until the National Human Rights Commission intervened in the matter.

The NHRC Chairman, Mr. Justice Ranganath Misra, darted off a strong objection to the SBI Chairman, Mr. P.G. Kakodkar, asking whether the action by the subordinate manager of the bank branch was justified. "In case you support the action of rejection and ground for the refusal on blindness, I would like you to respond to the human rights issue involved," Mr. Kakodkar was told. This resulted in the matter getting amicably settled in favor of the Granny woman.

Mrs. Preeti Singh approached the bank sometime in March last year and requested that she be allowed to open a current account but was refused on grounds of her visual disability. She sought the facility as she had been sanctioned a loan by the Delhi Financial Corporation (DFC) for her business, and it required her to have an account in the name of her organization so that the loan could be disbursed.

Her passion to reach out to disabled persons was behind the loan-seeking venture. She was employed at the Granny's as their Marketing In-Charge and was also an aerobic instructor. Besides, she had held computer training programs for people with vision impairment--qualifications which many normal persons lack.

But the bank would have nothing of it. Their rule book stated that the blind could have only savings bank accounts. Even an official like the Branch Manager could not take the independent decision of allowing her to open a current account.

Undeterred, Mrs. Singh approached the NHRC and gave a graphic account of the efforts she made to get an account opened. Upset over the callousness of the premier bank and its top officials, Mr. Justice Ranganath Misra wrote to the SBI Chairman: "It is a fact she is a blind person, but she had been working as a marketing executive in an organization until recently. The issue of a blind person being denied banking facility has its own projections which merit national consideration."

The SBI bowed down to this missive and in a letter dated February 28, 1996--almost a year after the refusal--the SBI Chairman informed the NHRC that the question had been examined, taking care of the mutual interests of blind persons and the bank; and appropriate guidelines have been issued.

The woman's victory is being considered as an important landmark in accepting the rights of the physically handicapped. As Mrs. Singh says: "Give us disabled people a chance; we too can be an asset to society. All that is needed to help us along is a little love, understanding, and encouragement."


[PHOTO #17/CAPTION: Sheila Koenig]


From the Editor: One of the things Bruce Gardner talked about in an article elsewhere in this issue was the need to work with the media to educate the public about blindness and the true abilities of blind people. When it's done right, it looks easy. But getting a good story requires a good reporter, and a Federationist who knows how to work in comments about the importance of a positive philosophy and the work of the NFB as he or she tells a personal story.

The following article first appeared in the March 4, 1996, edition of The Sheboygan Press. It is an excellent example of what we should all be doing. It appeared following the Washington Seminar, but one can often interest reporters in doing such pieces in conjunction with any significant Federation activity. Sheila Koenig was a 1995 National Federation of the Blind scholarship winner. She is an active and committed Federationist. Here is the story The Sheboygan Press wrote about her:


by Nancy Pieper

Describe twenty-one-year-old Sheila Koenig and you'd say she's petite, dark-haired, soft-spoken, bright--words like that.

Oh, yes. And blind.

But most of all, she's an achiever.

Sheila has been named one of twenty-five outstanding blind students in the nation by the National Federation of the Blind.

Citing Sheila and the others honored as "the hope of the nation's blind," Federation President Marc Maurer said their demonstrated excellence was "living proof of our contention that the blind can compete on terms of equality with the sighted."

Actually you'd tend to characterize Sheila as "visually- impaired." Born with congenital cataracts and glaucoma, she can see just enough with her left eye to read large print with the aid of glasses if she holds the material right next to her face.

But Sheila says "visually impaired" suggests something's wrong.

"I'm blind. People think of blindness as a disability, but I think of it just as a characteristic, like being tall or short or fat or thin. Blind people can do anything that sighted people can do. They just have to find ways to adapt."

Sheila is still fine-tuning her adapting skills.

She earned a 4.0 grade point average this past semester at Cardinal Stritch College, but she says her goals would have been more easily accomplished if she had received some useful tools early on.

Braille is a "really big issue for the blind," says Sheila.

"Only three percent of blind children in Wisconsin read Braille. Blind children are functionally illiterate. And partially-sighted children aren't taught Braille because it's assumed that they don't need it. But I can't even begin to tell you how much easier it would have been for me if I had learned Braille."

Instead she had to bury her face in huge large-print books in school. They were cumbersome, conspicuous. Reading was painfully slow.

"I taught myself Braille last summer," she says, "but I don't have much speed. If I'm going to be an efficient person, Braille has to be a part of my life."

Because she learned it so late, it'll take time for Sheila to become fluent in Braille. So she still studies with large print. She does homework on a computer.

Sheila also knows she needs to master using a cane.

"I never used a cane, again, because everyone assumed that, because I had some sight, I didn't need one."

This summer she'll attend a camp to learn proper cane use.

"You learn wearing sleep shades, and it's really scary for lots of people. But as you do more and more difficult things, you gain the confidence to go anywhere."

Mastery of these skills enables the blind to live independently, Sheila says.

Raised in Sheboygan by loving parents, who always encouraged her to meet all challenges, Sheila nevertheless had never met another blind person.

But when the National Federation of the Blind awarded her a $3,000 Educator of Tomorrow Scholarship in 1995, she attended its annual convention. More than 2,000 blind people of all ages were there.

She says, "I can't even explain to you what it was like. I met people in all sorts of careers: lawyers, teachers, writers, psychologists, social workers, marine biologists...they got anywhere they wanted to go with confidence, gracefully. They were intelligent, articulate.

"I guess in the back of my mind I had a small doubt (about being able to achieve), but after meeting the people in the Federation, I knew I could do anything I wanted to do."

Sheila realized then that the attitudes of the blind, as well as the sighted, need to change. She intends to be a teacher.

Enrolled as a special education major, she switched to English and Spanish "...because I fell in love with languages. People don't always realize that words have the power to create feelings, to reinforce prejudices, to change people. Really, I think words are one of the most powerful forces that we have."

She recently returned from Washington, D.C. with a delegation of Federation members who hoped to use "powerful words" to advocate for the blind with Congressmen and Senators.

Many of their contacts were rewarding, but a couple were not. One lawmaker rudely dismissed their inquiries. Another was "powder-puffing his face and sifting through his mail" while the group was with him, things that Sheila felt would never have happened to constituents who weren't labeled "blind."

And she'll work to further the Federation goals: to require that all blind children be taught to read Braille and to educate the public that the real handicap of blindness is not the lack of sight, but the social attitudes that keep blind people from fully achieving.

At the same time that article was being written, Sheila decided to write a letter to the editor of the paper describing what had happened in Washington when she met with her own Congressman. This is what she said:

Dear Editor,

I recently went to Washington, D.C., with the National Federation of the Blind to meet with Representatives and Senators to discuss current issues concerning blind people. I had never before met with my Representative, F. James Sensenbrenner, and looked forward to discussing those issues important to me.

Only three percent of blind children in Wisconsin are able to read Braille, the rest being illiterate. Why don't they know Braille? Simply, the teachers who teach Braille can't read it themselves. Strong language in IDEA (the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act) would decrease if not eliminate this illiteracy by requiring all blind children to learn Braille. If only three percent of sighted children could read ink print, a national outrage would erupt.

In a booming, angry, degrading voice Congressman Sensenbrenner bellowed, "Sounds like an unfunded government mandate to me." He clearly knew nothing about the issue. Despite the fact that taxpayers are already paying these teachers' salaries, Sensenbrenner would have nothing more to do with it. He did not ask if I had been taught Braille, so I couldn't tell him about the endless speeches and presentations I had memorized or the agonizing moments when I feared that I would be called upon to read aloud, dragging my nose across the pages of a large-print book.

He would decide what was best for me, regardless of my own experiences. Does he not care about children, literacy, or education?

I left my first meeting with my Congressman feeling hurt, ashamed, and degraded. When we send people to Washington, do they forget that we are the ones who sent them?

It is precisely this dismissive attitude that makes "politics" a dirty word and stirs disillusionment among the people.

You'll probably see a picture of me standing next to Congressman Sensenbrenner in his next newsletter (the picture was taken before our meeting) with a caption reading something like "Sensenbrenner discusses important issues with blind citizens."

Well, here is the truth of that meeting. I sincerely hope that, when any of you meet with Sensenbrenner, he treats you with the respect and dignity that any constituent deserves.

Sheila Koenig


[PHOTO #18/CAPTION: Peggy Elliott]


by Peggy Pinder Elliott

From the Editor: Peggy Elliott is the Second Vice President of the National Federation of the Blind and the President of the National Federation of the Blind of Iowa. Here is her contribution to the latest in our Kernel Book series of paperbacks, Tapping the Charcoal, beginning with Dr. Jernigan's introduction:

Peggy Pinder Elliott, a long-time member of the National Federation of the Blind, is familiar to readers of previous Kernel Books. In this story she reflects on the importance of using the right three-letter words in dealing with blindness. Here she shares with us her journey from "How" to "Why Not?"

One of the hardest things for me to understand about blindness was the little three-letter word "how."

When I first lost my sight, I was a teenager. My brothers and sisters and I were all planning to attend college and find good jobs after graduation. Without ever expressing this to anyone, I thought that my sudden blindness meant that this was no longer possible for me. It wasn't anything specific. It was just that I didn't know how a blind person would go to college, how a blind person would find a job, how a blind person could perform work that anyone would want to pay for. Although I didn't know it at the time, it was that little three-letter word that was causing all the trouble.

Several years after I lost my sight, I met people from the National Federation of the Blind. Incidentally, the three-letter word changed. How was no longer important, but two other three- letter words were. They were why and not. And I needed them both. The question was not "how" but "why not."

The change happened because I had finally met other blind people. Some sighted people, particularly my family, had insisted that blindness did not make any difference, that I could still study, still excel, still attend college, still get around and do the things that other people do. I mostly stayed in my room and told people that I loved to read. But inside myself I hotly resented this cheery and cruel advice. These sighted people were not blind. How could they understand how hard it was?

Meeting other blind people made all the difference. I could no longer say, "Blind people can't do this or that." I now knew blind people who were doing the things I wanted to do.

This change in me came from the National Federation of the Blind and the insistence of its members that blind people could figure out how to do things. It took a while for me to come to understand this, and my Federation friends patiently kept working with me, encouraging me, insisting that I stop feeling sorry for myself. The Federation ideas took root, and I began to do all those things I thought I couldn't, ending up with a law degree from Yale.

Then I started to deal with the three-letter word how in the job market. My first job interview was memorable. When I arrived for the interview, I found that there were eight people in the room to do the interviewing. Apparently, the potential employer had decided that everyone in authority in the office needed to be in the room to get a look at the blind person. That was a bad sign.

The interview began with the office chief asking the administrator to describe the position to me. It was an assistant prosecutor's job, a commonly understood entry-level position in which one handles all the less grave offenses from filing a charge to disposition of a case.

The administrator said, "When you come to the office in the morning, you will read police reports, and, when you read the reports, based on the reading of the reports, after thoroughly reading them, you will upon reading. . . ." He got stuck. He just stayed in the same sentence, never finishing it, continually uttering the word "read."

After a bit of this, I interrupted him, saying that I thought I understood that reviewing police reports was part of the job as well as other tasks he hadn't mentioned. If he wanted to describe the other tasks, I would be interested. If he preferred to discuss how I would do the reading, I would be glad to discuss that as well. He never spoke again during the forty- minute interview.

It was obvious that he didn't know how I would do the reading. I explained that blind lawyers hire readers and train them in confidentiality just as lawyers have always hired secretaries and trained them in confidentiality. I explained that I was accustomed to working that way and to meeting time deadlines. None of it mattered. The whole office, present by way of its supervisors, had decided that a blind person couldn't do the job they did, and that was that.

My next interview was the exact opposite. I knew it was going to be. A friend of mine in the National Federation of the Blind who worked in the same city in which I was interviewing called me. The friend said that he knew the potential employer; the potential employer had called him and asked how a blind person could do the job, and my friend had explained to him that he should just ask. My friend also gave some examples to the potential employer of how he does his job.

When I arrived for the interview, the potential employer came in alone. He sort of sauntered in, obviously comfortable, and said casually that he would like to know how I was going to do the reading. That made all the difference in the world.

Both interviews were for the same type of job and started on the same topic, but one began with an assumption that I couldn't do the job while the other began with an open mind, opened by a successfully employed blind person. I was offered this job and took it.

For me, the National Federation of the Blind provided that first vital understanding that there are answers to the question how?

For most jobs the answers are as simple and inexpensive as they were in my case. For many jobs there is already a blind person doing the work whose ideas and practical know-how can be drawn upon for the employer or the blind person who wants to work in the same area.


[PHOTO #19/CAPTION: Betty Walker]


by Betty A. Walker

From the Editor: October 15 is White Cane Safety Day across the country. It provides an opportunity for members of the National Federation of the Blind to educate the general public about the rights and capabilities of blind citizens. Last year Betty Walker, who chairs the Public Relations Committee of the Jefferson City Chapter of the NFB of Missouri, tried an interesting variation on the usual letters to the editor and other public education efforts. It seems to have had some success. She passes it on in the hope that other chapters can use her idea as well. Here is her cover letter to me, followed by her letter to the editor:

Dear Barbara,

As public relations chairman of the National Federation of the Blind of Jefferson City, I wrote the enclosed letter to the editor of our local paper to inform the public and eliminate misconceptions about blindness and the use of the long white cane. I hoped this novel approach might be an attention-getter.

Whether or not it got the attention of the general public, it did change the attitude of the principal toward me at the public school where I work. Prior to the publication of the white cane letter she constantly told me I was approaching stairs, doorways, etc. Even after several attempts to educate her and assure her that I knew where I was going, one day she said, "Betty, you are not in your office," as I knocked on the door of a classroom to speak to the teacher.

I replied, "I know I am not in my office; I am at room 15, and I came to speak to Mrs. Blank."

The day following the publication of the white cane letter in the paper, a laminated copy appeared in my mailbox from the principal with a note that read, "Very good article, Betty." Comments from the principal to me now are things like "Good morning, Betty," and other appropriate conversation-openers. She no longer tells me where I am or where I am going. I hope the letter had as positive an impact on the general public as it did on the principal.


Betty A. Walker


Jefferson City, Missouri
October 15, 1995

Dear Editor:

First, let me tell you who I am. I am a long white cane used by a blind person. I am writing because October 15 is National White Cane Safety Day.

With proper training my owner can use me to travel safely and efficiently. I am moved from side to side in an arc slightly wider than my owner's shoulders. If something is in our path, I will hit it first, which lets my owner know that something to be avoided is in front of us. The sounds I make when I touch things let my owner identify what I am touching and provide necessary information about the environment.

You may think that I am a bit too tall, but to be most useful to my owner, I should reach to his or her nose. This allows my owner to walk quickly and gives him or her enough reaction time to avoid obstructions and stop when necessary. I no longer need to have a crook for a handle or a red tip. These are things of the past. The law states that I may be either white or metallic in color, with or without a red tip. I may be electronic, but usually not. My owner is always in control of me and his or her travel.

My owner uses me to find landmarks such as curbs, steps, light poles, doorways, etc. He or she recognizes curbs by the way my tip drops. The absence of the wall I'm tracked along indicates door openings. My owner can identify soft and hard surfaces-- tile, carpet, concrete, and grass--because their textures are so different to my touch. Steel and wooden poles, cardboard boxes, glass walls, aluminum framing, fire hydrants, human legs, and dogs each feel different and are clearly recognizable.

When my owner uses me to cross a street, he or she extends me in front to indicate the intention to cross. My owner knows when to cross by listening to the traffic. When the parallel traffic is moving, he or she has the green light; if that traffic is stopped but traffic on the street to be crossed is moving, the blind pedestrian has a red light. At crossings where there is no traffic light, the same traffic sounds indicate when it is safe to cross. If my owner is standing near the curb, perhaps at a bus stop, with me standing straight at his or her side, the chances are that my owner is not planning to cross the street but waiting for a bus, cab, or friend.

Remember some basic rules of courtesy when you approach my owner and me. Just because my owner is blind, he or she is not necessarily lost or in need of help crossing the street. Help may be welcome, but most blind people who are traveling independently are very much aware of where they are going. Don't feel insulted if your thoughtful offer to help is refused. If your assistance is accepted, let the blind person take your arm, which you can leave relaxed at your side. Never grab the cane or cane hand or arm. The panic the blind person feels is similar to that you would feel if someone covered your eyes or grabbed your arm or steering wheel while you were driving. The cane is an extension of the blind person's arm and mind when traveling. Noisy vehicles such as buses and cars with poor mufflers can impair a blind person's ability to hear traffic clearly. If a blind person refuses to cross a street when you have stopped to yield the right of way, loud traffic noise may keep him or her on the curb because the sound of the entire traffic pattern is being masked.

White Cane Laws state that a person operating a motor vehicle must yield to a blind person carrying a white cane. If you would like more information about me or about blindness in general, call the National Federation of the Blind at (314) 634-7969.

[PHOTO #20/CAPTION: Judith Tunell]


by Judith M. Tunell

The following was submitted to the News and Views of Blind Arizonans.

Judith M. Tunell, First Vice President, and Captain R. Lewis, a member of the Board of Directors of the NFB of Arizona, serve as commissioners on the Phoenix Mayor's Commission on Disability Issues. Much of the work done by the Commission is done in subcommittees.

In January, 1996, the Architecture and Transportation Subcommittee Chairman, Linda Lund-Wyatt, asked if another subcommittee member would accompany her to review the signs at the newly remodeled Phoenix Civic Plaza. Mrs. Lund-Wyatt wanted to be certain the signs were in compliance with Americans with Disabilities Act requirements and the plans and specifications previously reviewed by the subcommittee and approved by the Phoenix Planning Commission. Judith Tunell volunteered when she heard that the signs included Braille.

Knowing that two sets of hands proofreading the Braille would be better than one, Judith asked one of the expert Braille readers of the Phoenix Chapter, Norma Robertson, to accompany her and Mrs. Lund-Wyatt on the first review. To their astonishment, Norma and Judith found that there were errors on each of the signs, including elevators and restrooms. Mrs. Lund-Wyatt asked Judith to give the report at the next subcommittee meeting. The chairman of the Mayor's Commission on Disability Issues had been very involved in the review of original Civic Plaza Plans and expressed the Commission's serious concerns about the errors in the Braille in a letter to the Phoenix City Engineer's Office.

Norma and Judith were then asked by the Phoenix Engineer's Office if they would read and check all of the signs at the Civic Plaza. They agreed and were escorted through the three-building complex by a staff member of the Civic Plaza, who recorded Judith and Norma's response at each sign. It took over three hours to read more than 150 signs at restrooms, elevators, stairs, meeting rooms, stage dressing rooms, offices, ballrooms, etc. at this gigantic complex. The disappointing result was that every sign was incorrect! Some had the letters so close together that they were unreadable; others had misspelled words, capitalization errors, or numbers incorrect.

The Phoenix Engineer's Office was grateful for the NFB members' assistance for two very important reasons: (1) the Engineer's Office did not have anyone on staff who could read Braille; and (2) the final payment to the contractors for the signs was due to be paid within two weeks of the review. If the city had issued its final check, it would have been harder to negotiate corrections from the contractors.

The National Federation of the Blind served a great purpose for the City of Phoenix and generated good will because of this effort. We saw a need and responded to it. It was fun to do it as a team, and we were respected for our knowledge.


[PHOTO #21/CAPTION: Loretta White]


by Loretta White

From the Editor: The following story first appeared in Tapping the Charcoal, the latest in our Kernel Book series of paperbacks. It begins with Dr. Jernigan's introduction:

Coming to terms with the fact that your child is blind and is going to stay that way is perhaps one of the most difficult challenges a parent can face. There are at first the terrifying questions: Does she live in a world of darkness? Can she go to school? Can she be happy? What will happen to her when I die? These are the questions Loretta White, now a leader in the National Federation of the Blind's parents organization, had to deal with when she learned her daughter Niki was blind. Here is what she says:

My name is Loretta White, and I live in Maryland with my husband and four children. Their ages are sixteen, six, almost five, and almost three. I am also a licensed day care provider, so most of my time is spent with and around children.

My daughter Niki will be five in November. Niki has been totally blind since birth. It's most likely due to retinopathy of prematurity, but since she was adopted from India, we don't know for sure. Niki came home from India when she was five months old.

We took her to a pediatrician for a checkup a couple of days after we got her. He told us that her eyes didn't look quite right, so he wanted us to have her checked by an eye doctor. The doctor he sent us to didn't do children, so all he did was take a quick look and tell us that, yes, she has cataracts; he then referred us to a pediatric ophthalmologist.

I took Niki to the appointment by myself while my husband watched the other children. I was expecting to have her seen and then scheduled for cataract surgery. I spent the entire day there.

The doctor had a wonderful reputation, but I quickly found out in the waiting room that he had the bedside manner of Attila the Hun. I was pretty nervous to begin with. Once the technicians had examined her eyes, done their tests with the drops, and completed the sonograms and what not, the doctor came in and quickly looked at her eyes.

Then, with the same demeanor one might use to comment on the weather, he told me that my daughter's blindness was total and permanent. I'm sure he must have read the look on my face and realized that I had not known.

Then he added, "Well, it's not that bad. It's like a Hershey bar. If you've never eaten chocolate before, you wouldn't miss it because you can't miss what you never had." Then, after a couple of minutes of very uncomfortable silence, he gave me the name of a doctor who might try some heroic surgery, wished me luck, and left the room. I never saw that doctor again.

Somehow I collected myself and my baby and made the hour- and-a-half drive back to my home. It took me a long time to forgive his brutal honesty, but I will never forget it. On that afternoon I would really have appreciated some compassion. Also I did not appreciate the belittling of my child's condition. Things could always be worse, but so what? Right then they felt awful.

We went through anger at the doctors and also at the adoption agency who had placed her. From what we were later told, anyone who examined her should have seen the detached retina and scar tissue mass. And yet we had paperwork that said she had an eye examination and that her eyes were in good condition. Knowing probably wouldn't have changed our minds about her, but we certainly could have been prepared and avoided the shock.

We also tried the heroic surgery. We took her to a doctor in Tennessee who had had some success at reattaching retinas. We put ourselves in debt mustering up the finances to make three trips to Tennessee (two for surgeries and one for a checkup).

We did all this knowing initially that her chances of regaining any usable sight were less than ten percent. But at that time we were so frightened of blindness we were willing to try almost anything.

Before Niki came into my life, I had virtually no experience with blindness. The only blind person I had ever known was Tammy, who lived across the street from my family for a short while when I was six.

I can still see this eight-year-old girl in my mind. All she ever did was sit and rock, sometimes poking at her eyes. Her speech consisted mostly of repetitions of what she had just heard. She never played with the other kids or even went to school. She just sat and rocked. As you can imagine, that memory haunted me for a while after we found out Niki was blind.

If the only experience you've had with blindness is seeing a man begging on a city street, you're hardly going to feel excited about your child's future. And if the parent doesn't have a positive image of blindness, how can the child hope to develop a positive self-image?

As we began to deal with blindness, we were full of questions. We wondered what children with little or no sight are really like. Do they live in a world of darkness? Do they grow and develop like other children? Where do they go to school? Do blind people ever get married? How do they earn a living? Can they be happy? Can they live independently? What will happen to my child when I die?

When we finally decided Niki was going to stay blind, we began to look for help. I made a form letter requesting information and sent it everywhere. Then one day I got a phone call from the National Federation of the Blind. This was a turning point for me and for my daughter Niki.

Through the Federation I have met successful blind individuals from all walks of life and from all over the country. By observing and interacting with these people, I have been able to revise my perceptions of blindness. Reading about it in a book will teach you in your head, but by living it, you learn it in your heart.

Children learn what they live. I want my child to know in her heart that she can be successful and independent because she has grown up watching successful and independent blind adults around her.


[PHOTO #22/CAPTION: Don Capps]


by Donald C. Capps

From the Editor: Don Capps, President of the National Federation of the Blind of South Carolina and the senior member of the NFB's Board of Directors, recently presided at the organizing of that affiliate's fifty-second chapter. No other state comes close to having that number of chapters. Don writes a weekly memorandum to affiliate leaders, called "A Positive Note." It is lively and interesting. The week following the chapter organizing he wrote the following "Positive Note," which captures the flavor of the community home of South Carolina's newest chapter. This is what Don says:

For the first time historic Fairfield County now has its own organization of the blind. Tuesday evening, April 23, the fifty- second chapter of the NFB of South Carolina was established, climaxed by a dinner meeting at a Winnsboro restaurant. Having a population of only 3,500 in Winnsboro and the entire Fairfield County area having a population of some 20,000, there was an excellent turnout of twenty-eight persons at the organizing dinner. Some of Fairfield County's most prominent families were represented. The chapter has excellent leadership. Officers elected include Kenny Branham, President; Lorena Marthers, Vice President; Diane Williams, Secretary; David Douglas, Treasurer; and Larry Prioleau, Social Director. To her credit and with the strong support of her husband Kenny, Eileen Branham was instrumental in forming the chapter. Eileen explained it this way: extremely concerned over the diminishing vision of Kenny, Eileen was recently flipping through the Columbia telephone directory (she works in Columbia) and came across the listing of Rocky Bottom Camp for the Blind. She immediately telephoned the Federation Center and talked with our Administrative Assistant, Carol Hendrix, who assured her that an NFB of South Carolina official would go to Winnsboro and meet with Kenny to discuss his recent blindness.

About one month ago Betty and I traveled to Winnsboro and had a good visit with Kenny. While in Winnsboro we reserved a restaurant for the organizing dinner. From that point, with strong support from the NFB Center staff, we began making contacts with blind citizens throughout Fairfield County. Attending Tuesday evening's dinner were the Honorable Tim Wilkes, Member of the General Assembly, and the Honorable Mary Lynn Kinley, member of Fairfield County Council, both residing in Winnsboro. Both Representatives Wilkes and Councilwoman Kinley addressed the gathering and pledged their wholehearted support. As a matter of fact, both enthusiastically joined the chapter. All day Tuesday we called upon several blind residents of Winnsboro. Betty and I were joined by Eric Duffy of Columbus, Ohio, Treasurer of the Columbus Chapter and Director of Field Services of the NFB of Ohio. Eric arrived over the weekend, spending the entire day Monday at the Federation Center, where David Houck and Mrs. Hendrix spent considerable time with him to show him how the NFB of South Carolina operates. Barbara Pierce, President of the NFB of Ohio, had requested me to permit Eric to observe how we organize chapters. Eric now knows.

Winnsboro is one of the state's most historic towns, established in 1785. The Fairfield County Courthouse, located in Winnsboro and constructed in 1823, was designed by the famous South Carolina architect Robert Mills, who studied with President Thomas Jefferson. Mills also designed the Washington Monument. The Robert Mills house of Columbia is a tourist attraction. Winnsboro is the home of the longest continuous operating town clock in the U.S. It has operated continuously since 1833, and its works were made in France. Winnsboro is steeped in both Revolutionary and Civil War history since battles were fought there. The British General Cornwallis occupied a house still standing on the downtown square. A number of antebellum homes built around the town square continue to be much admired, attracting many tourists.

The NFB of South Carolina is very proud of its fifty-second Chapter and cordially welcomes the Fairfield Chapter into our ever-growing Federation family. We're confident the chapter will enhance the quality of life for the blind of the area. Because of the new chapter, both the NFB of South Carolina and our national organization are bigger, stronger, and better.



This month's recipes were submitted by members of the National Federation of the Blind of Texas.

[PHOTO #23/CAPTION: Norma Crosby]


by Norma Crosby

Norma Crosby is the President of the Houston Chapter of the National Federation of the Blind of Texas and a long-time leader in the organization.


1 chicken boiled and cut into bite-sized pieces
1 large bunch green onions and tops, chopped
� stick margarine or � cup butter
1 garlic clove, minced
1 16-ounce can tomato sauce
1 4-ounce can chopped green chilies, drained
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon cumin
� teaspoon salt
� teaspoon oregano
� teaspoon basil
2 cups Monterey Jack cheese, grated
2 cups Longhorn or cheddar cheese, grated
1 pint sour cream
12 corn tortillas

Method: Saute onions and minced garlic in butter. Add tomato sauce, green chilies, sugar, cumin, salt, oregano, and basil. Simmer approximately fifteen minutes. In a separate bowl combine the cheeses. Mix the chicken pieces with just enough sour cream to moisten. Save the remainder of the sour cream.

Dip each tortilla in hot tomato sauce to soften. Place a portion of the chicken mixture on the tortilla and add a portion of the cheese mixture. Roll up and place seam-side down in a baking dish large enough to accommodate twelve enchiladas. Mix remaining tomato sauce mixture with remaining sour cream and spread over enchiladas, allowing mixture to seep between tortillas. Top with remaining cheese. Cover and bake at 350 degrees for thirty to forty-five minutes.

[PHOTO #24/CAPTION: Zena Pearcy]


by Zena Pearcy

Zena Pearcy is a member of the Austin Chapter. She also serves as chairperson of the NFB of Texas Parents Committee. Her son Wayne addressed the NFB of Louisiana convention in April; his remarks are reprinted elsewhere in this issue.


1 9-ounce package cream cheese
� cup chopped pecans
1 can whole jalapeno peppers

Method: Slice Jalapenos lengthwise. Remove seeds. Mix cream cheese and pecans together in a bowl. Spoon mixture into jalapenos. Serves 12 to 15 Yankees or two to three Texans.

[PHOTO #25/CAPTION: Mary Barker]


by Mary Barker

Mary Barker is a member of the Wichita Falls chapter. Her candied pecans are a favorite of the Texans who attend the Washington Seminar.


1 cup water
2/3 cup sugar
4 cups pecans

Method: Pour these ingredients into a saucepan. Bring to a boil. Keep at a boil until all water has been absorbed by pecans. Then pour onto cookie sheet. Spread pecans out evenly. Bake in 250 degree oven about thirty to thirty-five minutes, until they are completely dry. Watch carefully to avoid burning. Very good snacks.

[PHOTO #26/CAPTION: Mary Ward]


by Mary Ward

Mary Ward is the First Vice President of the Austin Chapter. She is a graduate student at the University of Texas at Austin.


1 cup yellow cornmeal, preferably stone ground
3/4 teaspoon salt
� teaspoon baking soda
2/3 cup buttermilk
1 cup cream-style corn
1/3 cup shortening or oil
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup grated Monterey Jack or cheddar cheese
Jalapeno pepper to taste, stems removed, seeded and chopped

Method: Combine cornmeal, salt, and baking soda. Mix wet ingredients. The amount of Jalapeno depends on who will be eating the cornbread. You will need one for Yankees, a big fistful for Texans. If you are using canned Jalapenos, be sure to drain them very well. You may still have to reduce the liquid. Fresh ones work much better. Combine the dry and wet ingredients. Pour batter into a medium sized, greased 8- or 10-inch cast iron skillet. You may also use a greased 8-inch square baking pan. Bake at 375 degrees for 30 to 40 minutes. Bread should leave the sides of the pan.

[PHOTO #27/CAPTION: Lola & Preston Pace]


by Lola & Preston Pace

Lola Pace is the immediate past President of the Wichita Falls Chapter. Lola also serves as a Board member of the NFB of Texas.


2 cups chopped celery
1 chopped bell pepper
1 small can Le Sueur Peas
1 large can Shoe Peg Corn
1 large can French Style Green Beans
� cup chopped onion

1 small jar chopped pimentos
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup white vinegar
� cup oil
1 teaspoon salt
� teaspoon black pepper

Method: Combine all vegetables, drain, and set aside until marinade is ready. Combine last five ingredients in a saucepan. Bring marinade mixture to a boil, remove from heat, and let stand until cool. Then pour over vegetables. Store in refrigerator several hours. Be sure hot mixture has cooled to keep crispness in vegetables. This makes a large salad and will keep safely for several days.


by Wanda Hamm

Wanda Hamm is the President of the Austin Chapter of the NFB of Texas. She has more recipes than Texas has cows.


1 tablespoon butter or margarine
1 heaping tablespoon scallions, chopped
1 heaping tablespoon Monterey Jack cheese
3 eggs beaten
1 heaping tablespoon Longhorn cheese
2 corn tortillas

Method: Melt the margarine in a small skillet over medium heat. Grate the cheese. Add eggs, scallions, and cheeses. Scramble the ingredients together until they are cooked. Add tortillas (cut into quarters). Serve with fresh salsa. Serves one.


by Wanda Hamm


1 15-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/3 cup crushed pineapple
1/3 cup chopped cherries
1/3 cup chopped pecans
1 8- or 9-inch pie crust

Method: Blend milk and lemon juice together. Stir in cherries, pecans, and pineapple. Mix well. Spoon mixture carefully into baked pastry or graham cracker crust. Chill for two hours. Garnish with additional cherries.


by James Campbell

James Campbell is the Second Vice President of the Permian Basin Chapter of the National Federation of the Blind of Texas. He is active in chapter fund-raising and public relations. James first developed the following recipe for inclusion in the chapter's Variations recipe tape, which can be obtained from the chapter for $5. The recipes, including this one, are easy to vary by altering the herbs and spices.


4 or 5 medium potatoes, washed, peeled, and grated or chopped
1 medium or large onion, chopped
2 or 3 tablespoons jalapenos or chili peppers (optional)
2 teaspoons chili powder
dash paprika
1 teaspoon pepper
salt to taste

Method: Slice or chop jalapenos or chili peppers. Combine these with onion, potatoes, and spices. Spray a large frying pan with non-stick cooking spray. Heat a small amount of oil in the pan over medium heat and add hash-brown mixture. Cook potatoes fifteen to twenty minutes, or until mixture reaches desired doneness. Serves four.



[PHOTO #28/CAPTION: Donna Panaro]


A miniature appeared in the April issue about Kristin Panaro, a blind child from New Jersey. The picture accompanying the miniature was of Valerie Ryan, incorrectly identified as Donna Panaro, Kristin's mother. This is the picture which should have been included. We apologize for the error.

Brailler Repair Available:

We have been asked to carry the following announcement:

Has your Perkins Brailler become a little sluggish? Is the backspacer no longer reliable? Whatever problems you are having, let Alan Ackley recondition it for you. Trained at Howe Press, he uses only factory parts. A certified transcriber, he knows how Braille should look. He has restored more than 1,000 Braillers from over forty states and Canada. Fast turnaround, reasonable charges, and all work is guaranteed. Call Ackley Appliance Service at (515) 288-3931, or write to 627 East 5th Street, Des Moines, Iowa 50309. Look for Ackley Appliance Service in the Exhibit Hall in Anaheim this summer.

[PHOTO #29/CAPTION: Pauline Gomez, 1920 to 1996]

In Memoriam:

From the Editor Emeritus: With the death of Pauline Gomez, another of our stalwart members has passed from the scene. I first met Pauline over forty years ago and enjoyed a close friendship with her throughout the rest of her life. Some of the words that come to mind when I think of Pauline are: vivacious, open, sincere, gracious, determined, and generous. She was all of those things, and much more. I mourn her passing as not only an organizational but also a personal loss. Here is her obituary as it appeared in the May 2 edition of the New Mexican:

Pauline L. Gomez, 76, passed away at her home in Santa Fe, Wednesday, May 1, 1996.

Pauline was born in Moriarty, New Mexico, March 29, 1920.

She was blind from birth.

At the age of five, she was sent to the New Mexico School for the Visually Handicapped in Alamagordo, graduating in 1940.

She was the first blind student to attend the University of New Mexico, graduating in 1945.

In 1946, she started "Los Ninos Kindergarten" which was a learning center for hundreds of children for the next 30 years.

In 1956, when the New Mexico Federation of the Blind was organized, Pauline became a charter member. She attributed her enthusiasm, dedication, and appreciation of life to her membership in this organization.

Pauline was an active member of the community. She was a member of the Santa Fe Women's Division of the Chamber of Commerce, the American Association of University Women, and the St. Francis Cathedral Altar Society.

Among her honors and awards are: Santa Fe Woman of the Year in 1967; First runner-up of the Handicapped Woman of the Year; first recipient of the Blind Educator of the Year; in 1985 Pauline was made a "Santa Fe Living Treasure."

In 1989 Pauline was recognized in Newsweek magazine as a national hero. Her work and efforts, as teacher and leader of New Mexico's organization for the blind, earned her distinction as an outstanding individual from New Mexico.

Wanted to Buy:

We have been asked to carry the following announcement:

I am looking to buy an older model Optacon in good condition at a negotiable price. I am willing to make weekly or monthly payments, whichever the person requires. I will also be happy to reimburse shipping and handling payments if needed.

If anyone has an Optacon for sale, please contact Laura Davis at 2103 Vernon Court, Louisville, Kentucky 40206, or call (502) 893-5260 after 4:00 p.m. EDT; or (502) 895-2405, extension 443 (work, 7:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., Monday through Friday).

[PHOTO #30/CAPTION: Melody Lindsey]

Five New State Presidents Elected:

The spring state convention season has brought a number of changes in the list of affiliate presidents. Here is the list of the new state leaders: Alaska, Melody Lindsey; Georgia, Leslie Fairall; Nevada, Linwood Gallagher; Vermont, Sue Toolen; and Utah, Kristen Jocums. Congratulations to each of these new presidents.

For Sale:

We have been asked to carry the following announcement:

TSI Advantage CCTV system, including a clean 19-inch Sanyo composite monitor and an automated "X-Y" viewing table. Used only occasionally, the equipment is in excellent condition. Looks and works like new. I am selling this very nice reading system merely because I no longer have need of it. Functions include fully adjustable magnification control, horizontal or vertical split- screen capability, positive or negative image viewing for both camera and computer input signals, on- or off-line guides, single-line scrolling and a full spectrum of camera, computer, and monitor video adjustment controls. Sanyo monitor is equipped with an adjustable height and tilt monitor stand. Automated "X-Y" table includes fully adjustable line spacing, reading rate, left and right margin settings, and optional foot pedals for easy hands-free automated operation. All necessary cables and owner's manuals included. This outfit is great for reading, writing, or doing those too-small-to-see crafts or household repairs. Asking just $1,500 or best offer plus shipping. Must sell as soon as possible.

Interested parties should call or write Mr. John Chilelli, 1241 East 26th Street, Erie, Pennsylvania 16504, (814) 459-9981 between 5:00 and 11:00 p.m., Eastern Daylight Time.

Supplies Needed for Blind Students in Lesotho:

We have been asked to carry the following announcement:

The Kingdom of Lesotho is a small country in southern Africa. St. Catherine's Christian High School is located in Maseru, the capital city of Lesotho. Out of ninety-two students at the school, sixteen are blind. There are no special classes for blind students, and they do not have any special equipment or school supplies.

The blind students need Braille writers, slates and styluses, and Braille paper. Some Braille books could also be useful.

The Joint Ministry in Africa of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and the United Church of Christ will be grateful for any donations of Braille writers, slates and styluses, Braille paper, and books. Please send or bring your donations to Joint Ministry in Africa, Disciples Center, 130 East Washington St., Indianapolis, Indiana 46208. For further information call Pat Sanborn at (317) 635-3100, extension 287. Thank you for your help.

For Sale:

We have been asked to carry the following announcement:

I have for sale a number of computer systems and peripherals. While I have grouped them together logically and would prefer to sell them as packages, I would be willing to consider the sale of individual items if I am unable to sell the packages. Make me an offer.

1. Zeos 486/33 MHz computer with brand new one gigabyte SCSI hard drive and its own Adaptec host adapter, 3.5- and 5.25-inch floppy drives, eight megabytes of memory, NEC external triple- speed CD-ROM drive with its own Trantor SCSI host adapter, Creative Labs AWE32 Sound Blaster sound card, 28.8K-baud Telepath internal (US Robotics) modem, Colorado Memory Systems Trakker 700 external tape backup unit, Trident SVGA color adapter, 14-inch color monitor, three serial and one parallel port, DOS 6.22 and Windows 3.1. I am asking $1500 or best offer for the whole thing.

2. 486 DX/2 66 MHz IBM-compatible computer with brand new Micronics motherboard, 4 megabytes of memory, 210-megabyte IDE hard drive, Double Talk PC internal speech synthesizer, US Robotics 16.8K-baud external modem, VGA color adapter and 14-inch monochrome monitor, two serial and two parallel ports. I am asking $1000 or best offer for this system.

3. Packard-Bell 286 laptop with one megabyte of memory, 20 megabyte hard drive, built in 3.5-inch floppy drive, external 5.25-inch floppy drive, built-in 2400 baud modem, DOS 6.22, and carrying case. The system weighs approximately 14 pounds, and I am asking $250 or best offer.

You can send me e-mail at [email protected] or write me at David Andrews, 1776 St. Clair Ave., Apartment 304, St. Paul, Minnesota 55105; or call David Andrews evenings and weekends at (612) 696-1679. You can also leave me a message on NFB NET by calling (612) 696-1975.

Now Available:

National Braille Press has compiled the first-ever 1996 Blind Community E-mail Directory containing close to 600 e-mail addresses of blind individuals and blindness-related organizations. Send for your copy in Braille or on disk for $9, or in print for $12 (includes postage).

The 1996 AT&T Area Code Handbook, containing the latest area code listings by city and state, is now available in Braille (two volumes) or on disk for $4.95 from National Braille Press.

Send your orders to National Braille Press, 88 St. Stephen Street, Boston, Massachusetts 02115, (800) 548-7323, fax (617) 437-0456.

Radio and Electronics Catalog Available:

We have been asked to carry the following announcement:

FM Atlas in Minnesota has a new radio and electronics catalog in print. By early summer the tape version will be available, and any member can write or call to request a copy. The cost is $2.

Included in the catalog is a radio that both the manufacturer and I think will be a good performer for blind people. It is the Reel Talk Radio Talk Show Timer-Recorder, which records at � speed. It was designed to record talk shows, and I offer it modified with an FM/SCS circuit so that it will play and record reading services to the blind. The special switch positions added to the machine are Brailled. The Reel Talk RT-101 is $118 postpaid with modification. That price is less than the normal list price for the radio-recorder alone. Some of the units are refurbished by my young technician. Contact FM Atlas at P.O. Box 336, Esko, Minnesota 55733-0336, or call (800) 605-2219. VISA or MasterCard is accepted.

[PHOTO #31/CAPTION: Pat Barrett]

Teaching with Thank-yous:

Pat Barrett is a long-time Federationist who is now an active member of the National Federation of the Blind of Minnesota. He takes seriously his responsibility to educate the public about blindness and the abilities of blind people. He looks for opportunities to do the job,and he takes advantage of the chances he gets. The following letter is a case in point:

To Whom It May Concern:

My daughter had the opportunity last week to see your "Body Works" presentation during a school field trip. I happened to be looking through the workbook she brought home and saw pages discussing Braille. My wife and I are both blind.

On page 12, I read the following sentence, "Braille is an alphabet used by people who are partially sighted or blind." My wife and I were very pleased that you worded the text this way for two reasons. First, it tells it like it is and does not add the mystery and drama that is too often made about blindness in publications. Second, you are to be commended for including partially sighted people in that statement. A tragedy concerning literacy exists in this country. Partially sighted school kids are frequently not taught Braille along with print. My wife and I would be more literate in Braille today for work and leisure if we had been taught Braille consistently in school.

Thank you for your matter-of-fact treatment of Braille. It is refreshing to see publications (particularly those designed to teach children) that tell it like it is about blindness.

All of my family are active members of the National Federation of the Blind, the largest organization of blind persons in this country. I have shown the workbook to our local chapter President Peggy Chong. She, too, was pleased with the publication and will be contacting you about it.

Keep up the good work.


Patrick Barrett
Member, Metro Chapter, NFB of Minnesota


Raised-Line Maps and Drawings Available:

We have been asked to carry the following announcement:

The Princeton Braillists announce the completion of a four- volume atlas and a volume of basic human anatomy drawings which can be useful to blind students in any health or biology class.

The Atlas of North and South America is divided into three units. Unit 1, Northern North America. This unit, complete in Volume I, contains fifty-nine pages with twenty-two maps. It includes overall political, physical, and special purpose maps of the United States and Canada, showing boundaries, mountains, rivers and bodies of water, elevation, major cities, climate, land use, and resources. Tables of important facts are included.

Unit 2, the United States. This unit, complete in Volumes II and III, contains one hundred twenty-four pages with fifty maps. The United States is divided into six regions. Volume II includes Northeast, Southeast, and Middle West. Volume III includes Southwest, Rocky Mountain Region, and Pacific Coastal Region. Maps for each region show state boundaries, capital cities and transportation centers, mountains, rivers, bodies of water and other physical features, vegetation, resources, and farm products. A table of important facts is given for each region.

Unit 3, Middle and South America. This unit, complete in Volume IV, contains fifty-one pages with twenty maps. It includes political, physical, and special-purpose maps plus tables of important facts for Mexico, Central and South America, and the Caribbean Islands.

The information in these maps is based on and adapted from Heath Social Studies Classroom Atlas, published by D.C. Heath & Company, 1987. Each unit is self-contained and can be used alone. The price of the four-volume atlas is $50, plus $6 packaging and shipping. Individual volumes may be ordered for $15 each, plus $4 shipping. Allow four to six weeks for delivery.

Basic Human Anatomy is an eighteen-drawing, thirty-one-page supplement of tactile drawings that show cross-sectional views of the head and brain, nose-mouth-throat, tooth, respiratory tract, heart, digestive system, villus, urinary tract, kidney, nephron, nerve, eye, ear, skin, male and female reproductive systems, and fetus in the womb.

Drawings are labeled with keys that give both the technical term and the familiar name; no other descriptive material is included. These drawings are useful for health, general science, biology courses, or for general knowledge beginning at the grade- school level.

The price of this supplement, including packaging and shipping, is $15. Address all orders with check to the Princeton Braillists, 28-B Portsmouth Street, Whiting, New Jersey 08759. For additional information call Ruth Bogia at (908) 350-3708 or Nancy Amick at (609) 924-5207.

New Check Register Available:

We have been asked to carry the following announcement:

Our new large-print check register was designed with the same attention to detail as our large-print daily appointment calendar: bold lines and headings (20-point print), plenty of room to write, and heavy-weight paper with no show-through even when you use a bold line pen. Each register has room for 280 entries. You'll love the convenience of having a check register that allows you to write and read with ease. Money management will be a pleasure rather than a chore. Order your large-print check register today. The cost is $7.50 each and includes tax, shipping, and handling. Send your order to Visually Unique, P.O. Box 2841, Dallas, Texas 75221-2841.


We incorrectly listed Patrick Gormley's zip code as it appeared in the May issue notification about acquiring copies of Tips for Tough Times prepared by the Maryland Attorney General's office. The correct zip code is 20782, and the extension is 3808. The file name of the March issue of the publication on NFBNET and other handicapped-related electronic bulletin boards is All subsequent file names will be ttt followed by month and year.

Also Noble Melegard's recipe for potato soup should have included one stick of butter or margarine in the list of ingredients.

New Jett Enterprises Catalogue Coming Soon:

We have been asked to carry the following announcement:

Coming in September is the No Frills, Just Priced Right, free cassette or 3�-inch diskette catalog. We offer over 300 exciting products for everyday living and a collection of special gifts for all occasions. We have expanded our selection of liberating products to include specific items that many of our customers have requested.

Our goal is quality merchandise at prices that are just right. When requesting your free cassette or 3�-inch diskette catalog, please call (619) 778-8280, fax (619) 320-4837, or write Jett Enterprises, 3140 Cambridge Court, Palm Springs, California 92264. If you are already on our mailing list, you will automatically receive our catalog in September. We do not ship outside the U.S. Please let us know if you have a change of address. We are here to help you and look forward to your call.

For Sale:

We have been asked to carry the following announcement:

GE Monaural, 4-track cassette recorder, excellent condition; Braille, print, cassette instructions; voice and tone indexing capability. Plays and records 2- and 4-track cassettes, auto shut-off, built-in mike, ear phone, eight hours of recording on a charge, input and output jacks, six hours of recording on a 90- minute tape. Maintained thus far by AFB. $125 firm. Call Tim Hunn at (209) 222-2143.


Karen Mayry, President of the National Federation of the Blind of South Dakota, reports the affiliate's election results: Karen Mayry, President; Eileen Tscharner, Vice President; Denise Jones, Secretary; and Ken Rollman, Treasurer. Peggy and Irene Klimisch and Minnie Erickson will serve as members of the Board of Directors.

For Sale:

We have been asked to carry the following announcement:

I have for sale a Perkins Braille writer for $300. I also have an electric- and battery-operated Canon typewriter for $100. Contact Jake E. Miller, 434 N. Washington St., P.O. Box 50011, Millersburg, Ohio 44654, (330) 674-0015.

New Chapter:

Eric Field, President of the new Porter County Chapter of the National Federation of the Blind of Indiana, reports that the chapter was formed on March 30, 1996. The new officers are Eric Field, President; Christina Saxton, Vice President; Debby Lombardi, Treasurer; and Ron Saxton, Secretary. Congratulations to the members of the Porter County Chapter.

For Sale:

We have been asked to carry the following announcement:

For sale: Cardinal 2400 bps internal modem, US Robotics 9600 bps external modem, Artic Symphonix 210 speech card, and complete Arkenstone ScanJet Plus scanner. Please make an offer on each item. Call Bryan Sattler at (518) 459-2177. Internet address is [email protected]

Book-Ordering Service Available:

We have been asked to carry the following announcement:

Undercover Book Service obtains books for customers who want delivery and know what they want without browsing in a bookstore. We will order any book in print, and we even find second-hand copies of out-of-print titles. Prices are comparable to those in bookstores.

For the convenience of our customers, we keep their addresses and billing information on file. We accept MasterCard, VISA, and American Express. We take orders by phone, fax, postal mail, and e-mail. We ship via postal book rate, priority mail, and UPS. Contact Undercover Book Service at 21899 Rye Road, Shaker Heights, Ohio 44122, (216) 295-1919, (800) 733-9944 (USA), (216) 295-1917 (fax), or e-mail [email protected]

RFPI Quarterly Magazine and Program Available in Accessible Formats:

Timothy Hendel has asked us to carry the following announcement:

Radio For Peace International (RFPI) is a shortwave station which broadcasts from Costa Rica and can be picked up by anyone in North America who has a shortwave radio. They broadcast programs about peace, the environment, tolerance, and other progressive topics. Jean Parker, a blind person from Colorado, produces a weekly program about disability. There is a special women's program called FIRE (Feminist International Radio Endeavor). Most programs are in English; some are in Spanish.

RFPI is member-supported, just like National Public Radio. Members receive a quarterly publication telling about the RFPI programs and containing articles about the station and its concerns.

I am on the advisory board of RFPI. In order to include more people, RFPI will send the quarterly magazine on tape to anyone who joins and says that he or she is blind or wants the publication on tape. The list of programs is also available in Braille. The announcers at RFPI record the tape, and I duplicate and mail it. I also produce the Braille schedule.

Anyone who wishes to join should send a $35 check to Radio For Peace International, P.O. Box 20728, Portland, Oregon 97294.

Anyone who does not wish to join until hearing a sample of the tape or reading a sample Braille schedule can contact Timothy Hendel in any format, including phone (205) 539-5678. Send a C90 tape, and you will receive a copy of the current issue of the RFPI magazine. It is not necessary to send anything in order to receive the Braille schedule.

Hoping to buy:

We have been asked to carry the following announcement:

Used Braille printer wanted. Contact Ziya and Tulay Senturk at 121 Sponable Street, Marengo, Illinois 60152, or call (815) 568-2911.

Lake Tahoe Tour Available:

We have been asked to carry the following announcement:

Lake Tahoe Travel in conjunction with the Resort at Squaw Creek presents Lake Tahoe tours for the visually impaired by John Curletto. Land packages only from $379 (per person, double occupancy). Remaining tour date is September 6-7, 1996. Package includes sighted guides for activities, two nights' lodging at the resort at Squaw Creek and hotel tax, welcome reception, and orientation at Resort at Squaw Creek. Features included are river rafting on the Trucker River (may substitute with another activity depending on conditions), dinner/dancing cruise on the Tahoe Queen (cost of dinner not included), driving tour to south Lake Tahoe/visit to south Lake Tahoe casinos, all transportation included to and from activities.

Tour leader John Curletto has been visually impaired since the age of four.

Air packages are available. For rates and reservations call Lake Tahoe Travel at (800) 251-7171 or (916) 583-8000. Single rates are available. Experience the Resort at Squaw Creek, Lake Tahoe's finest deluxe resort.

For Sale:

We have been asked to carry the following announcement:

For sale: American Vest Pocket Dictionary (seven Braille volumes); Swan 500C amateur radio transceiver, 10-80 meters coverage with matching power supply, speaker, hand-held microphone, and TV interference filter (a valid amateur radio license is required); Paragon stereo audio mixer (connects to receivers, tuners, tape decks, turntables, and microphones); 13- inch black and white C-Tech 20-20 CCTV (used only a few hours); EVAS 286 IBM-compatible computer with color monitor, Artic Vision speech program, Sonix speech synthesizer card, WordPerfect 5.1, and medical software; LP records from the '60's through the '80's of mostly rock and country music. (Wish to sell in lots.)

To discuss prices and availability of these items, correspond in any medium except handwriting to Barry and Louise Wood, 6904 Bergenwood Avenue, North Bergen, New Jersey 07047- 3711, or call (201) 868-3336 after 5:30 p.m. EST and any time on weekends. A donation will be made to this organization on items sold.

Leber's Congenital Amaurosis Network Established:

Colleen Wunderlich has asked us to carry the following announcement:

I'm establishing a support network for individuals with Leber's Congenital Amaurosis. This is a rare autosomal recessive disorder which results in abnormally developed rods and cones on the retina. This condition causes blindness or visual impairment. Other symptoms may occur in conjunction with affected vision, such as kidney disease and facial malformation.

Many hereditary disorders, such as macular degeneration, Marfan Syndrome, and retinitis pigmentosa have already established support networks. A Leber's network has not yet been established.

The objective of this network is to provide a way in which affected individuals can receive information about Leber's, such as its symptoms and mode of inheritance as well as the latest research updates. Patients and their families may also work together to obtain funding for increasing the amount of research on the genetic causes of Leber's as well as possible cures. Members can also relay information about educational resources, discuss common interests or hobbies, and give and receive advice about issues associated with blindness.

If you are affected with Leber's or if you have an affected family member or friend, please contact Colleen E. Wunderlich for further information. Contact her at Johns Hopkins Hospital, Maumenee Building, Room 517, 600 North Wolfe Street, Baltimore, Maryland 21287-9237, (410) 955-5214.