Convention Miniatures


NFB Cane Game:

            Merry-Noel Chamberlain and Michael Neese, coordinators of the first ever Cane Game, held at the 1999 National Convention in Atlanta, would like to congratulate the two grand prize winners, Hannah Weatherd and Allison Hilliker. Sponsored by the students of Louisiana Tech Orientation and Mobility Master's Program, the Cane Game promoted, acknowledged, and encouraged proper cane use during the convention by children up to the age of eighteen. Participants were divided into two major groups. White ribbons were attached to the canes of the younger children involved in the Cane Game while older teens received a purple ribbon. Students in the Orientation and Mobility Master's Program at Louisiana Tech placed stars on the ribbons when they observed participants using their canes properly. Congratulations to Hannah and Allison for a job well done.


National Association of Blind Entrepreneurs Means Business:

            On July 2, 1999, the National Association of Blind Entrepreneurs held its third annual division meeting in Atlanta. It plans to set up a Web site, and Robert Leblond, Web designer for Perspectives Information Access Specialists, will be donating his talent and time to the site. Among other postings the Web site will include a directory of current members and what they do. Those members who do not have e-mail addresses will be listed with a phone number unless we are directed to do otherwise. Those who have not paid their membership dues and who want to be listed in the member database may send $5 dues to Paul McIntyre at 6050 South Land Park Drive, No. 18, Sacramento, California 95822.


            Our Web site is currently under construction and will be limited only by our creativity: something this division is not lacking.


            Next year in Atlanta the division plans to hold a murder mystery dinner theater. All NFB members are welcome to purchase tickets to this exciting evening. We will keep you posted and provide more details later. You won't want to miss it!


            The following were elected to National Association of Blind Entrepreneur Board positions: Connie Leblond, President; Ted Young, First Vice President; Sharon Gold, Second Vice President; Jeremiah Beasley, Secretary; Paul McIntyre, Treasurer; and Board Members Jim Skelton, Joe Urbanek, and Marie Cobb.


Merchants' Report:

            Don Morris, President of the Blind Merchants Association, reports that the National Buyers Group conducted an extraordinarily successful food show on Wednesday, June 30. Over 800 people toured about thirty booths and talked with some eighty suppliers and manufacturers about new products and opportunities. Snackpack sales were excellent this year, enabling the division to contribute $1,000 to each of the four major NFB funds. Sorry that corsages and boutonnieres were not available for the banquet this year, but we promise that they will be next year.


            The division elected four people to two-year terms on its Board of directors: Nick Gacos, New Jersey; Billie Ruth Schlank, Virginia; Fred Wurtzel, Michigan; and Kim Williams, Tennessee.


You Just Never Know:

            Scott LaBarre, President of the National Association of Blind Lawyers, writes as follows:


            National Federation of the Blind conventions are interesting and fun to attend for a plethora of reasons. Part of the fun is discovering the unexpected.


            This year at the Annual Meeting of the National Association of Blind Lawyers we had a rare, perhaps a unique, occurrence. Adam Milani, a law professor from the Mercer University School of Law, was speaking about a recent article he had written about the disabled and the law of torts. In particular he referred to a Washington, D.C., Court of Appeals case called Poyner v. Loftas. In that case a blind man fell off an unprotected ledge and sought relief against the landlord. Professor Milani had begun criticizing the D.C. Court of Appeals for applying the law incorrectly when someone asked for the floor. I recognized the person, and he announced that he was William Poyner, the actual plaintiff in the case. None of us knew Mr. Poyner would be attending our meeting.


            We lawyers discuss cases in the abstract all the time. In fact, cases are discussed so impersonally that it is often easy to forget that at one time or another such cases actually involved real people and very real issues. It was both surprising and refreshing for us to have Mr. Poyner with us in the meeting. It reminded us that the legal matters we handle every day have significant and profound effects on somebody's life.


            Professor Milani's speech about his article was also remarkable in another way. Milani based it on a Law Review article called "The Right to Live in the World: The Disabled and the Law of Torts," written in 1966 by our very own founder, Dr. Jacobus tenBroek. In a real sense Professor Milani's work represents an update of Dr. tenBroek's.


            As both law student and lawyer I have run across many references to Dr. tenBroek's work, not only with respect to the blind and disabled, but also in doctrines of Constitutional law. Dr. tenBroek died the year I was born, making it impossible of course for me ever to have met him, but through his writings and his scholarship Dr. tenBroek truly lives on. Part of what makes the National Federation of the Blind so strong is the unrivaled leadership we have had. Professor Milani's speech reminds me and the members of the Lawyers' Division how blessed we were and are to have had a founder like Dr. tenBroek. Without his towering intellect and leadership the organization would undoubtedly never have attracted Dr. Jernigan and then Dr. Maurer. In other words, we would never have had the Federation as we have come to know it.


            When I arranged for Professor Milani to speak on our agenda, I never realized doing so would have such ramifications. If you have never been to a Convention of the National Federation of the Blind, don't you think it's about time?


Healthcare Professionals Meet:

            On Friday, July 2, 1999, a group of about thirty healthcare professionals with a wide range of careers met at the NFB convention to discuss their interest in networking and forming a division. The group decided to meet again next year actually to form the division. They agreed on the need to learn more about the problems blind healthcare professionals face, to educate sighted professionals about the abilities of blind colleagues, to establish a mentoring program for people entering these professions, and to find ways to encourage blind students considering health careers. If you are interested in changing what it means to be a blind healthcare professional, contact Dr. Donna Balaski, 66 Devon-Wood Drive; Waterbury, Connecticut 06708-2302, e-mail <[email protected]>. We look forward to meeting you at next year's Convention--Atlanta 2000.


NFB Banners Available:

            The Greater Summit County Chapter and the NFB of Ohio were selling 2-foot by 8-foot indoor/outdoor poly-vinyl banners during the Atlanta convention. These professionally-made banners have the NFB name in white and the logo in gold on a Federation blue background. The cost for one banner is $35, including postage and handling. These banners are grommeted and have heavy-duty stitching. If you order in quantities of ten or more, we can ship them in a box rather than mailing tubes, and your cost drops to $30 per banner.


            Purchase your banner by sending a check or money order made payable to NFB of Ohio and send it to Bruce Peters, 1670 Liberty Drive, Akron, OH  44313. Phone and fax: (330) 865-8471. More information is available online at <>.


Blind Professional Journalists Meet in Atlanta:

            Deborah Kendrick recently wrote with the following report:


            "Just like any other press club," was the comment John Walter, managing editor of the Atlanta Journal Constitution, made to me, just before attending the third annual gathering of the NFB Blind Journalists Group, held July 2, 1999, as part of the National Federation of the Blind convention. The comment indicated that this speaker would bring the tone and information needed to make our meeting a success. While it was clear in our conversations in weeks prior to the meeting that he had no particular experience with blindness, this thirty-year veteran journalist had instinct enough to gauge what this serious, albeit eclectic group would feel like.


            About thirty-five NFB members attended the session--an equal mix of working journalists, students, and journalism job seekers. The session was moderated by Bryan Bashin, a former TV journalist and freelance science writer cum agency director and me, Deborah Kendrick, a Cincinnati-based newspaper columnist and freelance writer/editor. We opened the session with tales of our own experiences as journalists who happen to be blind, sharing techniques for getting stories and meeting deadlines. After introduction of all participants and some follow-up discussion to our presentations, I introduced Mr. Walter.


            "Could I come early and listen in to get a feel for the group," Mr. Walter had asked the day before, a question characteristic of the unassuming thoroughness and depth of our speaker. Of course he could and of course he did. He came, in fact, before our meeting convened and was among the last of us to leave the room!


            In a warm, engaging delivery, John Walter recounted his own history as seasoned newspaper editor, replete with hard fact and amusing anecdote. He spoke candidly about the nature of newspapers today, the hiring of reporters, and the use of freelancers. Rather than talking at us, Mr. Walter engaged in a two-hour forum with us that was lively, informative, entertaining, and at times even a bit controversial.


            So what did we talk about? Well, what all journalists talk about, of course: how to get a good story, snag the interview, take complete notes, and write crisp copy. We talked about selling an editor on you and your talent, the pragmatic steps to submitting your work, and solving the issues unique to blindness, such as transportation and photographs.


            There's something delicious in discovering that you are not the only one, not the only journalist who is blind. That was the joy for many of us as we gathered for the first time in 1997 at the NFB convention in New Orleans. In our brief history we have found among us journalists from throughout the United States as well as Australia, Hong Kong, and Finland. Our Atlanta gathering was one more milestone in our growth and had the satisfying conclusion that each member present brought something of value into the room and took something else of value away.


            Would you like to join us? Check out our listserv, moderated by Bryan Bashin and Elizabeth Campbell, by sending a message to <[email protected]> leaving the subject line blank, and in the message body use the words "subscribe nfb-bpj first name last name," Or join us next year when we will again meet in Atlanta with possible speakers from CNN and the Atlanta Journal Constitution and with the unpredictable but certain energy that comes from so much talent gathered in one room.


Convention Lessons:

            More than 175 people attended the National JOB Seminar this year. One of the graduates from the Targeted Jobs Initiative Program, Kevin Winslow, attended his first National Convention. He is from a small town, about 300 people, in Kansas. Kevin currently travels with a guide dog, Brandon.


            During the first day of convention Kevin's dog became a bit upset with all the people and the layout of the hotel. Brandon is used to the wide open spaces of a farm and very few people. Kevin was not able to find the relief area for the dogs right away, and Brandon got sick. The dog was very upset, so Kevin went back to his hotel room. He sat there alone for the rest of the night. By morning the dog was still upset. Kevin decided that he had come all that way to learn more about the NFB and was not going to stay in his room for the rest of the week. He got out his cane and left Brandon to relax. Two days later he took Brandon to a convention session. Now Kevin knew where he was going and could tell the dog where to go, keeping his dog relaxed.


            Kevin discovered that his cane skills were better than he thought. He also learned that a guide dog needs instructions to find his way around a big hotel. He says that next time he won't get upset with the dog if they cannot find something. Instead he will ask others for information so that he can direct his dog. These are the real-world lessons to be learned at an NFB convention.


JOB Seminar Tapes Now Available:

            The 1999 Job Opportunities for the Blind seminar, held at our National Convention in Atlanta, Georgia, is now available on cassette. This back-to-basics seminar focuses on the how-to's of looking for a job in today's job market. Hear presentations from employers about what they are looking for when they interview a prospective employee. Presenters list important tips for blind job seekers when putting together a resume that will be compatible with electronic formats.


            To order your cassette copy, write to the Materials Center at the National Center for the Blind, or call (410) 659-9314 between 12:30 and 5:00 p.m., EDT.



            The following divisions notified us of elections that took place during their annual meetings at the Atlanta convention:


            Diabetes Action Network: Ed Bryant, President; Eric Woods, First Vice President; Sandie Addy, Second Vice President; Bruce Peters, Treasurer; Sally York, Secretary; and Gisela Distel and Paul Price, Board Members.


            Human Services Division: Doug Elliott, President; David Stayer, First Vice President; Bob Barbera, Second Vice President; Shawn Mayo, Secretary; Julie Deden, Treasurer; and Debi Delorey and Marie Kouthoofd, Board Members.


            Music Division: Linda Mentink, President; Mary Brunoli, First Vice President; Karen McDonald, Second Vice President; Mary Donohue, Secretary; and Ben Snow, Treasurer.


            NFB in Communities of Faith: the Rev. Robert Parrish, President; Linda Mentink, Vice President; Lauren Merryfield, Secretary; and Maureen Pranghofer, Treasurer.


The Cane Raisers' Greatest Hits:

            Several new Federationists who attended the NFB Convention for the first time in Atlanta were much taken with the songs sung at the banquet. We who have been around for a while sometimes forget that not everyone who appreciates the sentiments expressed in these old favorites can join in our singing. Luckily the Cane Raisers, Federationists from the Sligo Creek Chapter of the NFB of Maryland, have prepared a cassette tape recording that includes many of the best NFB songs. The cost is $5 per tape, and checks should be made payable to the NFB of Maryland. Send orders to Lloyd Rasmussen, 11909 Coronado Place, Kensington, Maryland 20895.


1999 Convention Tapes Available:

            We are pleased to announce that the convention tapes for the 1999 convention are now available in either two- or four-track format for $25. To order, contact National Federation of the Blind, Materials Center, 1800 Johnson Street, Baltimore, Maryland 21230.



Picture of Newlyweds Ellie and Raymond Bullard.


Newlyweds Ellie and Raymond Bullard

Wedding Bells:

            On Sunday afternoon, July 4, NFB of Mississippi Board Member Elsa Barrantes and Mississippi affiliate member Raymond A. Bullard were married in the ballroom of the Marriott Marquis Hotel. The Reverend Sam Gleese, President of the NFB of Mississippi, officiated at the ceremony, and a number of Federationists were members of the bridal party. Congratulations and much joy to Ellie and Raymond.