Future Reflections October 1981, Vol. 1 No. 1

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A Message From the President By: Dr. Kenneth Jernigan

The Inauguration of a newsletter is always serious business, a momentous occasion. If the newsletter succeeds and achieves its purposes, it will grow and influence lives. If it fails, it will simply be one more lost dream, joining the many others which lie forgotten on the trash pile of history.

Although prophecy is always a chancy business, I feel confident that this newsletter will not fail. The need for it is too great, and the hope and determination which have launched it are too strong. It brings to bear (for the assistance of the parents of blind children) the focus of the experiences of the organized blind movement for the past four decades. It is a reaching out by the blind of this generation to offer help and encouragement (through parents) to the blind of the next generation.

When the blind came together to form the National Federation of the Blind in 1940, the picture was about as bleak as it could be. There was very little in the way of training or opportunity or understanding. There was no employment and no belief that the blind were capable of working competitively even if the job had been available.

The world of today is different. The blind now have more choices and possibilities open to them than ever before in history, and most of the progress can be traced (directly or indirectly) to the work of the National Federation of the Blind. But we have a long way to go to equality. If the blind children of this generation are to have the chance to lead a fully normal life as they grow to adulthood, the work of the past forty years must be used as a foundation and a steppingtone. And (valuable though some of their efforts are) we cannot depend upon the professionals in the field to do the work for us. We must do it for ourselves--we the blind of this generation and we the parents of blind children.

We have no vested interest in this or that program, no agencies to protect, no axes to grind. We have only our collective experience of blindness, and our yearning to help make things better for the blind of the next generation. Neither do the parents have any vested interest to protect--any agencies or programs or jobs or professional jealousies. They have only their love for their children and the desire that those children have the opportunity to lead normal lives and realize their full potential. Our interests and those of the parents are identical.

This is why I am pleased to participate in the launching of this newsletter and why I feel certain of its success. We can do what must be done if we work together, and the stakes are too high for us to do otherwise.

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