Future Reflections
Vol. 14, No. 1 

Barbara Cheadle, Editor

Winter/Spring, 1995
Convention 1995: Make Plans for Chicago

by Kenneth Jernigan
Welcome to Chicago

by Steven O. Benson
National Seminar for Parents of Blind Children
**Pre-registration forms: NOPBC Workshops and Children's Field

My Dream for Macy

by Crystal McClain
Reaching for the Stars

by Julie Hunter
Federation Philosophy and the Education of Blind Children

by Gail Y. Katona
Individualized Education Program (IEP) Checklist

by Jennifer Haber and Leslie Seid Margolis
Reflections of a First-time Cane User

by Angelique Turner
From the Bookshelf: Care and Feeding of the Long White Cane
Some Thoughts about Physical Education and Blind Kids

by John Ross
The Braille Literacy Campaign: You Can Help
Ride Like the Wind

by Margie Watson
Recess Smarts

by Ken Volonte
Stop, Listen, and Observe: Your Blind Multiply Handicapped Child

is Trying to Tell You Something!

by Linda Zani Thomas
Choices and Their Costs

by Peter Grunwald
Serena Can Wait at the Bottom of the Hill

by Carol Castellano
Why Go it Alone?

by Margie Watson
Braille, Blindness, and the Right to Take Risks

An interview with William Raeder by D.C. Denison
Literacy Begins at Home: Family Involvement in the Home Literacy

Experiences for Children with Visual Impairments

by Christopher J. Craig
Print or Braille? I Use Both!

by Charles Brown

by Carol Castellano
Job Opportunities for the Blind

by Lorraine Rovig, Director, JOB
Parent Power

Hear Ye! Hear Ye!

                        CONVENTION 1995: 

                     MAKE PLANS FOR CHICAGO

                      by Kenneth Jernigan 
     Reprinted from the December, 1994, issue of the Braille


The time has come to plan for the 1995 convention of the National

Federation of the Blind. As Federationists know, our recent

National Conventions in New Orleans, Charlotte, Dallas, and Detroit

have been record-breaking in every sense of the word�excellent

programs, good food and facilities, and wonderful hospitality. But

Chicago in '95 promises to be the best we have ever had. All you

have to do is to remember our Chicago convention in 1988, and you

will know what a wonderful experience is in store.

     We are going to the Hilton and Towers Hotel at 720 South

Michigan Avenue in Chicago. You have to be there to believe it.

Read Steve Benson's article elsewhere in this issue, and you will

know what I mean. This exquisite hotel, built in the 1920's,

originally had over 3,000 rooms. In the 1980's it was remodeled to

have only 1,543 rooms, but the elevators (all fourteen of them) and

the rest of the infrastructure for a 3,000-room hotel were left

intact. Mrs. Jernigan and I have now been to the Hilton and Towers

for several planning meetings, and each time I am more impressed

than the last.  

     As usual, our hotel rates are good. For the 1995 convention

they are: singles, $47; doubles and twins, $49; triples, $54; and

quads, $57. In addition to the room rates, there will be a tax,

which at present is almost 15 percent. There will be no charge for

children in a room with parents as long as no extra bed is


     In recent years we have sometimes taken hotel reservations

through the National Office, but for the 1995 convention you should

write directly to Hilton and Towers Hotel, 720 S. Michigan Avenue,

Chicago, Illinois 60605, Attention: Reservations; or call (312)

922-4400. Hilton has a national toll-free number, but do not (we

emphasize NOT) use it. Reservations made through this national

number will not be valid. They must be made directly with the 

Hilton and Towers in Chicago.  
     Here are the convention dates and schedule;  
Saturday, July 1�seminars for parents of blind children, blind job

seekers, and vendors and merchants; several other workshops and

Sunday, July 2�convention registration, first meeting of the

Resolutions Committee, other committees, and some of the divisions. 
Monday, July 3�meeting of the Board of Directors (open to all),

division meetings, committee meetings, continuing registration.  
Tuesday, July 4�opening general session, evening gala.  
Wednesday, July 5�general sessions, tours. 

Thursday, July 6�general sessions, banquet. Friday, July 7�general

sessions, adjournment.
The displays of new technology; the meetings of special interest

groups, committees, and divisions; the exciting tours; the

hospitality and renewed friendships; the solid program items; and

the exhilaration of being where the action is and where the

decisions are being made�all of these join together to call the

blind of the nation to the Hilton and Towers Hotel in Chicago in

July of 1995. Come and be part of it�and for further information

read the following article from the Illinois affiliate for color

and details. 
                       WELCOME TO CHICAGO

                      by Stephen O. Benson
Reprinted from the December, 1994, issue of the Braille Monitor.
From the Editor: Steve Benson is not only a member of the Board of

Directors of the National Federation of the Blind but also the

President of the National Federation of the Blind of Illinois.

Moreover he is a resident of Chicago, so he knows whereof he speaks

when he talks about the host city for the 1995 convention of the

National Federation of the Blind. This is what he has to say about

the Hilton and Towers and the city that surrounds our convention

Chicago was incorporated in 1837. In 1840 little more than 4,000

people called it home. By 1860 it had swelled to more than 112,000.

The city's history, political and economic climate, energy, spirit,

and character are captured in its nicknames: Mudtown, City on the

Lake, City of Big Shoulders, Hogopolis, Hog Butcher for the World,

Railroad Hub of the Nation, Gem of the Prairies, City of Churches,

Financial Capital of the Midwest, Windy City, and Convention

Capital of the World. This latter claim is not made frivolously,

for Chicago is equipped to play host to the world�and the people

come. Chicago has 25,746 hotel rooms. An additional 41,000 rooms

may be found in the surrounding, collar counties. The largest

convention Chicago hosts, the International Machine Tool

Association, meets every two years and attracts more than 115,000

people. By the end of 1994 more than 3.8 million people will have

attended conventions in the Windy City. The anchor for all this

activity, McCormick Place, offers 1.3 million square feet of

meeting and exhibit space.
     Chicago hosted its first convention of the National Federation

of the Blind in 1950. The first political convention to meet here

was the Republican National Convention of 1860, at which Abraham

Lincoln was selected to carry the party's banner to the White

House. Many political conventions have woven strands into the rich

and varied fabric of Chicago's history, but none has made more

impact on the lives of blind Americans than the five NFB

conventions previously held here. So our 1995 national convention

in Chicago, the sixth, makes this city our �Sweet Home.� Taking

nothing at all away from the splendid conventions of recent years,

1995 will be the biggest and best by far. It is fitting, then, that

the site of next year's convention should be one of the most

spectacular hotels in the world.
     The Chicago Hilton and Towers, 720 S. Michigan Avenue,

Chicago, Illinois 60605, (312) 922-4400, is a Chicago landmark and

the flagship property of the Hilton chain. To the east of the

hotel, across Michigan Avenue, sprawls Grant Park with its

beautiful formal gardens, its wildflower garden, Buckingham

Fountain, museum campus, the Patrillo Bandshell, Columbia and

Chicago Yacht Clubs, Burnham Harbor and athletic fields. This is a

magnificent and proper setting for a hotel that received the 1994

Mobil Travel Guide's Four Star Award.
     When built in 1927 at a cost of thirty million dollars as the

Stevens Hotel, it was the largest in the world with 3,000 guest

rooms. It had a rooftop eighteen-hole golf course with real grass;

a 25,000-volume private library; an art gallery; a five-lane

bowling alley; a swimming pool; and its own hospital, police force,

fire department, and three-story industrial laundry still in

operation. To say that it was roaring-twenties opulent is an


     In 1945 Conrad Hilton acquired the property, and in 1951 the

hotel was renamed after its owner. In 1984 the hotel was renovated

with major structural changes, including the reduction of guest

rooms to 1,543 at a cost of 185 million dollars. Other changes

included converting two private ballrooms to a 5,000-square-foot

grand luxury suite, which rents for $4,000 per night and which, I'm

sad to say, none of us will occupy. The project not only restored

the hotel to its 1927 grandeur, it surpassed it in many ways and

placed the Hilton and Towers in a more competitive position for

today's business climate.

     The Hilton and Towers is a majestic structure that occupies a

full city block north to south and more than half a city block east

to west. The hotel boasts 120,000 square feet of exhibit space,

more than fifty meeting rooms, a 510-car attached garage, a

state-of-the-art fitness center, a full-service business center,

the Stevens Art Gallery, four excellent restaurants, three lounges,

a unisex hair salon, a shopping area, and twenty-four-hour room

service�and that doesn't begin to tell the story of this very

special facility.
     As you step through the Hilton and Towers front doors on

Michigan Avenue, you enter the spectacular Great Hall with its

restored gold leaf frescoes and elegant, graceful curving

staircases leading to the Grand Ballroom and other meeting space on

the second floor. Immediately to the right is Lake Side Green, a

two-story atrium lounge that features entertainment, billiards, and

light refreshment. Immediately to the left is a corridor leading to

the shopping area and escalators to the lower level exhibit area.

Continuing through the Great Hall, you come to the central (north

to south) corridor. Across this corridor, directly in front of you,

is the elevator lobby with fourteen elevators on the north, west,

and south sides. The east side of the elevator lobby is the open

side. If you turn right (north) in the main corridor, you will find

on the right side the assistant manager's desk, the hotel's

registration desk, and the bell stand. Across the corridor from the

hotel's registration desk is the Pavilion Restaurant. At the end of

the corridor is the Concierge. If you turn left, there are

rest-rooms for men and women on the right side. Straight ahead is

the carport.
     The Pavilion is a French country cafe surrounded by a spacious

veranda dotted with colorful flowering plants. Contemporary and

impressionist art adorn the area. The menu features sumptuous

breakfasts and lunch and dinner buffets, plus a wide selection of

burgers, pasta salads, sandwiches, and many daily specials. The

275-seat restaurant is open from 5:30 a.m. to 1:00 a.m.

If you turn left from the Great Hall (south) you will find on the

right side of the corridor Buckingham's, the hotel's fine dining

signature restaurant. This warm, club-like space seats 165 guests.

It is decorated in high-lacquered mahogany woods, gray and white

marble, beveled mirrors, and upholstered walls with brass accents.

Watercolors, line drawings, and paintings of Chicago's Buckingham

Fountain by local artists hang throughout the room. Buckingham's

features steak, chops, and seafood. It is open from 5:30 to 10:00

p.m. and requires reservations. For those interested, Buckinghams

claims the largest selection of single malt scotch whiskeys in the

city, a total of 106.

     Continuing south through the main corridor, on the left side

are Ciro's Jewelry; Parnell's Irish Shop; a flower shop; and W.H.

Smith's Store, featuring newspapers, magazines, toiletries, and so

on. On the right side are men's and women's rest-rooms. Kitty

O'Shea's Irish Pub and Restaurant is next on the left side. At the

end of the corridor, straight ahead, is Accent Chicago, featuring

souvenirs and gifts. Make a right turn, and on the right is

Chicago's own world-class Fanny Mae Candy. Here are treats

unequaled anywhere. Next on the right are escalators leading up to

the International Ballroom. Straight ahead and down several steps

is the newly renovated Continental Ballroom.

The southeast corner of the Hilton and Towers is an extraordinary

area. If you pause there for a bit of refreshment, you may hear

echoes of William Butler Yeats, Brendan Behan, Sean O'Casey, James

Joyce; or you may detect just a hint of the little people. You are

certain to hear the cadence and lilt of English as spoken on the

Emerald Isle. The place is Kitty O'Shea's Irish Pub and Restaurant.

The 150-seat pub is an authentic Irish tavern reminiscent of

centuries-old establishments in Ireland.

     Hilton sent a design team to Dublin and gave them the dirty,

thankless job of visiting some forty pubs to study floor plans,

decor, menus, and other little touches that could carry the

ambiance of those legendary gathering spots to Chicago. The Hilton

and Towers has done the job just right.

The oak plank flooring and ceramic floor tiles in green, orange,

black, and white; the hand-carved mahogany and marble bar; the

glass shelving; and ceramic mugs are imported from Ireland. The

antique beer taps were donated by the Guiness Brewery in Dublin.

The food is authentic, and the chef, bar men, and wait staff are

Irish natives working here on a culinary hotel exchange program.

Tradition and hospitality abound in this warm and merry place. True

to Irish custom, according to manager Eamon Brady, �Loyal customers

are honored by personalized mugs. You may have a ceramic Guiness

mug registered for your use and hung from the ceiling above the


     Distinguished Irishmen of Chicago have added a special touch

to Kitty O'Shea's. Past presidents and officers of the Irish

Fellowship Club have donated shillelaghs that have been carried in

the city's annual St. Patrick's Day parade. The black thorn staffs

hang in Shillelagh Corner.
     And then there's the entertainment. Nightly from 9:00 p.m. to

2:00 a.m., you can hear Irish balladeers sing the songs of the Old

Sod. Better than that, there are sing-alongs. You can lift your

voices in the singing of �Johnny McAdoo,� �Whistling Gypsy,� �Jug

of Punch,� �Jolly Tinker,� and many more rowdy and sweet aires.

Kitty O'Shea's is open daily from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 a.m., with

food served until 9:00 p.m. Partake of Irish lamb stew; shepherds

pie; potato and leek soup; and, if you like, Blarney Burgers. Don't

miss Kitty O'Shea's.
     For a moment let us revisit the magnificent Continental

Ballroom, which was recently renovated at a cost of two million

dollars. From its stunning 3,700-square-foot foyer to the

state-of-the-art sound system, to the twenty-three glittering

chandeliers and thirty-six wall sconces, this 10,000-square-foot

room, decorated in green, mauve, and violet, is well coordinated

with the decor of the hotel.

     The second floor of the hotel features the Versailles-inspired

16,600-square-foot Grand Ballroom with its twenty-two-karat gold

frescoes and crystal chandeliers and the nearly 22,000-square-foot

International Ballroom. In addition, the second floor houses the

Normandy Lounge, site of the Buckinghams-hosted Sunday brunch with

a 120-foot buffet. The elegant Normandy Lounge overlooks Grant Park

and is graced by chairs from the ocean-liner, S. S. Normandy. In

addition, north of the elevator lobby is the Boulevard Room. It is

worth noting that this was once a nightclub that featured a floor

show on ice.
     The Hilton and Towers has hosted every President since

Franklin D. Roosevelt and heads of state from Japan, England,

Sweden, Denmark, Greece, and Ireland. In addition, such notables as

Charles Lindbergh; Maria Callas; Frank Sinatra; Richard Burton;

Walter Payton; Michael Jordan; Babe Ruth; Ray Charles; and many,

many more have stayed at this hotel. Next year the Hilton and

Towers will welcome us, the National Federation of the Blind. Large

and elegant as it is, the hotel definitely has the warmth and

feeling of a fine home. Much of the credit for that goes to the

outstanding, well-trained staff. The Chicago Hilton and Towers will

be our home for a week in 1995. As we add a chapter to our history,

so too we will add a chapter to the history of this magnificent

hotel and to the history of Chicago. The Illinois affiliate looks

forward to being your host and to continuing the positive work of

the National Federation of the Blind. Welcome to Chicago!
                        NATIONAL SEMINAR 

                 for Parents of Blind Children 
     �You know, it really is okay to be blind.� This unexpected

pronouncement from a seven-year-old blind girl startled her family

at their dinner meal last July. This new level of confidence in

herself as a blind person was further demonstrated in the weeks and

months to come as the little girl willingly began to use her white

cane full-time�not just to school and for mobility lessons. What

made the difference? Her father, who has been a Future Reflections

reader for several years, took his daughter to the 1994 National

Convention of the National Federation of the Blind. Her dad

recounted the benefit of this experience in our Pennsylvania parent

support group magazine this past Fall. �[She],� he wrote, �learned

at the Convention that the cane provides independence and thereby

makes her the same as everyone else and not different.� 
     Of course, as all children, Laura must have new concepts

reinforced again and again. Mom and dad, Sheila and Michael Wolk of

Pennsylvania, will be taking her to many more NFB

activities�including state and national conventions�in the years to


     If you are among our many readers who have been putting off

coming to NFB National Convention, consider the potential value it

has to your family and don't put it off any longer! Join us in

Chicago July 1 to July 7�or as many days as you can�and discover

�The Benefits of Growing Up in the National Federation of the

Blind� for your family.
     Here are some of the many exciting events planned especially

for parents and children:
Saturday, July 1, 1995
The Benefits Of Growing Up In The 

National Federation Of The Blind

National Seminar for  

Parents of Blind Children
Sponsored by the 

National Organization of  

Parents of Blind Children 

Saturday, July 1, 1995 

Hilton and Towers Hotel 

720 South Michigan Avenue 

Chicago, Illinois

8:00 a.m. Registration.  Fee: $5.00. (This fee will also cover the

cost of all of the special workshops�such as the Beginning Braille

for Parents workshop�sponsored by the NOPBC during the convention.)

9:00 a.m. � 11:30 a.m.   General Session. Keynote Address:

Blindness: What Does it Mean in the Mind of a Child? by Ramona

Walhof, former preschool teacher, a blind businesswoman, and mother

of two sighted children. Other speakers will zero in on the

subjects of low-vision children, sighted siblings, other relatives

of the blind child, and sighted children of blind parents. Also on

the agenda is a panel of blind and sighted children, youth, and

adults discussing the impact of the NFB in their lives.

11:30 a.m. � 1:00  p.m. LUNCH (on your own)

1:00 p.m. � 5:00 p.m. 
Concurrent Workshops
SHOW TIME!: A continuous showing of new and classic videos. Among

those to be viewed will be: That the Blind May Read, the new NFB

documentary about Braille literacy; Here I Come, Ready or Not a

video depicting blind first-grader Alex Lesser going through a

typical school day; Kids With Canes, a classic video depicting cane

travel instruction for young children; and It's Not So Different,

a short video portraying the normal life led by a blind couple and

their young child.

PARENTS: A three-hour beginning Braille course for sighted parents

of blind children or teachers who want to learn Braille and/or

observe the techniques of teaching Braille to sighted parents. The

workshop is limited to 25 participants. The fee is covered by the

$5 registration fee for the parents seminar. Pre-registration is

encouraged. Please see the pre-registration form at the end of this

PARENT POWER: How are parents of blind children making a difference

in their states and communities? This workshop, inspired by our

popular new feature�also called �Parent Power��in Future

Reflections, will show you how to organize and conduct effective

seminars, projects, and programs; how to raise funds for your

activities; how to work with and within your local NFB affiliates;

how to organize a parent division in your area; how to prevent

parent burn-out; and so forth. The workshop will be broken down

into four 45-minute sessions. This will allow parents to circulate

to other concurrent workshops.
SPECIAL TOPICS: A very exciting session for parents of deaf-blind

children will be offered as one of three topics in this workshop.

Sally Ruemmler, the mother of a deaf-blind teen-age daughter and

co-chair of our Parents of Deaf-Blind Children Partnership

Committee is putting together an excellent program of support and

information for parents of deaf-blind infants and children. The

other two topics will be announced later. Before we establish the

other two Special Topics workshops we want to hear from you. Please

send your ideas and suggestions for the other two topics to:

Barbara Cheadle, 1800 Johnson Street, Baltimore, Maryland 21230;

(work) 410-659-9314 and (home) (410) 747-3472. Some of the current

suggestions under consideration are: Developmental Delays and

Multiple Handicaps in Blind Children; Low Vision and Alternative

Techniques of Blindness; and Social Skills and the Blind

MOVE IT!: The foundation for independence is mobility. This

workshop will explore ways in which parents of blind and visually

impaired children of all ages can facilitate movement and

independence. Discussion and demonstrations will also focus on the

ways in which the long white cane promotes greater confidence and

independent movement.
TO BE ANNOUNCED: Several exciting initiatives regarding the

creative use of toys and play activities for children are being

developed. We hope to kick these off at convention with some

special demonstrations. Stay tuned! We will announce any

developments as time allows through our state and local parent

divisions and chapters. 

Blind Youth  

Convention Orientation Session

3:00 p.m. � 5:00 p.m. (Saturday, July 1)  This session provides

blind youth (grades 6 through 12) a chance to get together early in

the convention. This allows them time to begin forming friendships.

It is also a structured opportunity to meet interesting and

competent blind adults. The adult counselors will take the youth

out in groups to familiarize them with the layout of the hotel and

convention site. The counselors will also lead discussion groups,

organize get-acquainted activities, and familiarize youth with the

NFB and the convention schedule. 
Kiddie Land Field Trip 

Saturday, July 1: Kiddie Land is a scaled-down, kid-size amusement

park. It is especially designed for younger children. The fee,

which includes admission to Kiddie Land, unlimited rides at the

park, transportation, and lunch, is $15.00 per child. Once again,

Carla McQuillan, President of the NFB of Oregon, has volunteered to

organize and lead the field trip. Carla owns and operates a

Montessori preschool program. She has extensive experience as a

teacher and an administrator, and she is also a parent. Since the

number of children who can be accommodated for this trip is limited

by space available on the bus and by the ratio of volunteer workers

to children, we urge you to use the form at the end of this article

and pre-register your children for the Saturday, July 1, day-trip.

The volunteer workers, by the way, are mostly blind parents,

teachers, and students who are willing to donate some of their

convention time to helping your children enjoy convention, too.

Children under the age of five and older children who choose not to

register for the Kiddie Land trip are invited to register for NFB

Camp for the day.
8:00 a.m. � 9:00 a.m. $15 per child. Registration or check-in time.

9:00 a.m. � 3:00 p.m.  Field trip. Lunch will be purchased at

Kiddie Land.

3:00 p.m. � 5:00 p.m.  Return to hotel. Special activities, games,

crafts, movies, etc. in the NFB Camp room in the hotel.

5:00 p.m. � 5:30 p.m.  Parents collect children.

Family Hospitality Night

6:30 p.m. � 9:30 p.m. (Saturday, July 1). Family Hospitality Night

is sponsored by the National Organization of Parents of Blind

Children and the National Association of Blind Students. Bring the

kids, relax, and meet other parents. We will be using the NFB Camp

room, so there will be plenty of toys and space to keep the kids

occupied! Teachers of blind children and blind teachers will be

there, too, to talk informally with parents about educational


Saturday, July 1, through Friday, July 7, 1995

The following schedule is subject to change according to changes in

the convention schedule, availability of workers, funds, etc. A

schedule will be available at convention when you register your

children for NFB Camp. Remember also to check daily for any changes

to the schedule.
Saturday, July 1: 8:30 a.m. � 5:00 p.m. On this day and this day

alone, lunch will be provided to the children on site. 
Sunday, July 2: Open in the evening only during the Parental

Concerns Committee meeting. See convention agenda for time.
Monday, July 3: Open in the morning and afternoon for those who are

attending the Board meeting in the morning and special division

meetings in the afternoon. Parents MUST pick up children during the

lunch break.
Tuesday, July 4: Open during morning and afternoon convention

general sessions. (Check your agenda for times. You will receive an

agenda when you register for the convention on Sunday.) Camp IS NOT

open during the lunch break. Children MUST be picked up promptly

after adjournment at noon and at the end of the day.
Wednesday, July 5: Camp is open only in the morning. There is no

afternoon convention session and therefore no camp session.

Children must be picked up promptly after the session adjourns.
Thursday, July 6: Open during morning and afternoon sessions.

Closed during the lunch break. Open during the evening banquet. See

agenda for time. Again, children must be picked up promptly after

the banquet adjourns.
Friday, July 7: Open during morning and afternoon sessions. Closed

during the lunch break. 
NFB Camp is NOT an ordinary child care service. It is a special

opportunity for children who are blind or who have a blind member

in their family to interact with each other and with blind adults.

Mrs. Willows, the volunteer director of NFB Camp, organizes

activities to maximize this interaction. At the 1994 NFB Camp, for

example, Mrs. Willows arranged for blind artists to come in and

conduct craft and art activities with the children. Other blind

persons, such as a blind horticulturist, also came and did special

projects with the children.

     Mary Willows (who is an experienced educator and the blind

mother of two children) and many other members of the Federation

put in many volunteer hours to the NFB Camp so that the convention

can be enjoyable and an enriching experience for every member of

the family.
     Parents are asked to make these donations for NFB Camp

activities: $50 for the week (including the banquet) for the first

child and $25 for each additional child; or $10 per child per day

and $10 per child for the banquet night if you do not want to

register for the full week. Parents will also be asked to pay a

fine for late pick-ups. There may also be additional fees for

optional day-trips. Trips and fees will be announced when you

register or check-in your children at the NFB Camp room at the

     Parents who cannot contribute the suggested donation should

contact Mary Willows to discuss the contribution they can make.

Mrs. Willows will also take pre-registration for NFB Camp. Contact

Mrs. Willows at 3934 Kern Court, Pleasanton, California 94566;

(510) 462-8575. She will need your name, address, and phone number;

the names and ages of your child(ren); and a brief description of

any special characteristics or needs of your child(ren). 

     Regarding teens who want baby-sitting jobs at convention, Mrs.

Willows will not locate or solicit such jobs but she will pass

prepared information on to parents who use the NFB Camp. Contact 

Mrs. Willows for more information.
Sunday, July 2, 1995
CONVENTION REGISTRATION: In order to get the fabulous room rates

you must register for the convention. Registration opens on Sunday,

July 2, and the fee is only $10 per person. Thursday night banquet

tickets may be purchased at registration, too. Banquet tickets

usually cost in the neighborhood of $20 to $25. You will get your

convention agendas (print or Braille) when you  register.

Pre-convention agendas which cover the activities on Friday, June

30, and Saturday, July 1, will be available free at the Federation

Information Desk. This desk will be located near the hotel

registration and lobby area. 
EXHIBIT HALL: Nearly every type of old and new computer technology

and other aids, appliances, toys, games, books, and so forth for

the blind and visually impaired will be on display at the NFB

Convention exhibit hall. The hall is open all day on Sunday, July

2, and various other times throughout the convention. See your

convention agenda for exhibit hall hours.
Monday, July 3, 1995
Annual Meeting of the  



1:00 p.m. � 5:00 p.m. 

At this meeting we have the exciting opportunity to meet and hear

from parents from all over the country. We discuss local and

national projects (such as our Braille Readers are Leaders

contest), elect officers, listen to a presentation from the 1995

Educator of Blind Children award winner, accept committee reports,

and discuss activities of our state and regional parent divisions

and chapters. This year we also have Mr. Christopher Craig as a

special guest speaker. Mr. Craig, a former NFB scholarship winner

and a doctoral student in special education, has been investigating

how blind and visually impaired children �emerge� into literacy and

how the family impacts upon that process. Readers may remember the

announcement in Future Reflections about his research and about how

the NOPBC assisted Mr. Craig in locating parents for his survey.
Tuesday, July 4, 1995
IEP Workshop:  



7:00 p.m. � 10:00 p.m. 

The Individualized Education Program (IEP) process continues to be

the key element in planning a good education for a blind or

visually impaired child. That is why, year after year, we conduct

this workshop at convention. And, year after year, we have a

consistently high attendance. This year we are adding a different

twist to the workshop. We will be discussing specific strategies

for Federationists who go to IEP meetings as advocates for others.

Although pre-registration for the workshop is not required, we are

urging you to pre-register this year so we can plan for the number

of handouts we will need in print, large print, Braille, and

recorded formats. Those who pre-register will have first shot at

the prepared handouts in the media of their choice. Please see the

pre-registration form at the end of this article.

In regard to other activates, there are so many special interest

committees and divisions that you are bound to find something up

your alley. Here is a partial list: Parental Concerns Committee,

Music Division, National Association to Promote the Use of Braille,

Diabetics Division, Writers Division, National Association of Blind

Lawyers, National Federation of the Blind in Computer Science, and

the National Association of Blind Students.
     The general convention sessions, which begin Tuesday morning,

always feature speakers of interest to parents. One year we had a

blind sculptor, another year a blind auto mechanic. Other speakers

are people of power and influence in the political, governmental,

special education, and rehabilitation arenas. These people come to

speak and inform, but they also come to listen and learn from the

collective voice of the blind. 

     Other events and meetings parents are encouraged to attend are

the Monday morning National Board meeting, the Resolutions

Committee meetings, the Thursday evening banquet, and the Friday

business session. The scholarship winners are introduced and asked

to say a few words at the Board meeting on Monday. They are all

introduced again at the banquet when the scholarship amounts they

won are announced.

     The Resolutions Committee meeting and the Friday business

session is the Federation in action. Through these forums of

democratic discussion and debate the NFB formulates policies about

the critical issues facing the blind of the nation. More than any

other convention activities these sessions demonstrate that this is

�where the action is� when it comes to blindness. 

Come, join us in Chicago in 1995 and discover for yourselves the

excitement and personal satisfaction that comes from participating

in a process that is creating a better and brighter future for our

blind children.


Saturday, July 1, 1995
Name of Parent or  

Responsible Adult:


City                           State     Zip

Home and/or Work  

Phone Numbers
As you fill out the following information, please include the

child's last name if it is different from parents' last name. Also

include a description of any characteristics which may require

medical or other considerations on the trip. Please note that

although we will keep the ratio of volunteer adult workers to

children low, we do not have the capacity to assign one adult  to

one child. The fee for the trip (including older siblings or

adults) is $15.00 per person. This includes the cost of

transportation, lunch, entrance to the park, and unlimited rides at

the park.



Age                     Grade

Blind, sighted,  

other characteristics:
Fee: $15 per person. Total enclosed $______
Please make checks payable to  National Organization of Parents of

Blind Children or NOPBC
Mail by June 10, 1995, to:  

Carla McQuillan 

 3988 Main Street 

 Springfield, Oregon 97478 

 (503) 726-6924


Saturday, July 1, 1995 


City                         State        Zip

Phone Number

I am (circle your selection): Parent   Relative Blind Adult    

Professional   Other_________
Please describe your level, if any, of Braille knowledge. Remember,

this is an introductory workshop designed for beginners.

Fee: $5. Total enclosed: $_________ The $5 fee also includes

registration for the Saturday, July 1, parents seminar. Those who

pre-register for the Beginning Braille for Parents Workshop will be

given proper credit for the parent seminar. 

Make checks payable to National Organization of Parents of Blind

Children or NOPBC. 
Mail to:  

NOPBC Convention Workshops 

1800 Johnson Street 

Baltimore, Maryland 21230
For more information contact 

 Barbara Cheadle  

(410) 659-9314  

or evenings at (410) 747-3472.


Tuesday, July 4, 1995


City                       State      Zip

Phone Number
Fee: $5.  Total enclosed: $_________  The $5 fee also includes

registration for the Saturday, July 1, parents seminar. Those who

pre-register for the IEP Workshop will be given proper credit for

the parents seminar. 
Format(s) I prefer (circle choice[s]):  

Braille   large print   tape   regular print
Please make checks payable to National Organization of Parents of

Blind Children (NOPBC). 

Mail by June 10, 1995, to:

NOPBC Convention Workshops 

1800 Johnson Street 

Baltimore, Maryland 21230
For more information call Barbara Cheadle at: (410) 659-9314 or

evenings at (410) 747-3472.
                        MY DREAM FOR MACY

What the NFB Convention  

Means to Me
by Crystal McClain
     We have made the NFB National Convention a family outing for

the last two years. Our family consists of myself, Crystal McClain,

my husband Mark, and our three daughters, Brianne, age twelve, and

the twins, Macy and Madison, ages four. This past year we also

brought along our neighbor girl, Emily. From this line-up you can

see we had quite a crew at convention!
     When we found out over three years ago that Macy was going to

be blind, we were frightened about the future. We didn't know what

type of life Macy could have, where she would go to school, or how

expensive raising a blind child would be. We were basically

ignorant about blindness.

     I originally found out about the National Federation of the

Blind through Future Reflections. I can't remember how I got signed

up to receive the magazine, but the important thing is that it

happened. After reading articles such as �Is Your Child

Age-Appropriate?� by Ruby Ryles, and �An Appropriate Education for

Cody� by Marty Grieser, I felt like I was headed down a brighter

path for Macy. Then I read the report about the 1992 NFB convention

in Charlotte, North Carolina. I decided then and there not to miss

another convention. So, I contacted Barbara Pierce, the president

of the NFB of Ohio. I then attended my first local NFB meeting,

which paved the way for our family to go to the 1993 NFB Convention

in Dallas. 
     I became less ignorant about blindness with each contact with

the NFB. I value the role the NFB plays in our life, and I am

committed to the NFB philosophy. Here are some of the general

things I have learned about blindness from the NFB and from Macy:
1. Blindness doesn't have to be a tragedy (unless you let it be).

2. Independence is a priority.

3. Networking with other parents is a must.

4. Blind adult role models are essential.

5. Parents and teachers must have age-appropriate expectations.

6. A positive attitude is critical.

7. Blind kids MUST USE A CANE.

8. Parents must know the law and their rights.

9. Parents are their child's first and best advocates.

10. �Adapt� instead of saying �can't.�
     Another thing about NFB Conventions is that I found out how

parents can miss out on so much if they come and only attend the

Parents Seminar and then leave. I feel I have learned so much by

staying and attending meetings such as the Parental Concerns

Committee meeting (this is for blind parents, but I learned a lot

from them); the meeting of the National Association to Promote the

Use of Braille (NAPUB); technology meetings and workshops; general

convention sessions, which always have such interesting topics and

speakers�I would pay twice the registration fee to hear Fred

Schroeder speak; and the Board of Director's meeting at which the

twenty-six scholarship winners are introduced. I find the

scholarship winners especially impressive. If people in our

children's schools could just see these high-achieving high school

and college students I feel that their expectations and attitudes

would have to change, if only a little.
     My knowledge of blindness has increased dramatically since we

became involved with the NFB. My friends and family have also been

educated about blindness, directly by Macy and indirectly by the

NFB. Macy's life, I realize, will have rocky times in it just as

Madison's (her twin sister) life will have rocky times. But I have

learned to maintain high expectations and to carry them through. I

can't wait until the NFB Convention in 2009. My dream is to see

Macy walk across the stage at the Board of Directors meeting and be

introduced as an NFB scholarship winner!
                     REACHING FOR THE STARS

                         by Julie Hunter
     Fifteen years ago on a warm June morning my husband, Bob, and

I drove to the hospital for our appointment with destiny. Because

of delivery problems with our first child, we had the luxury of

being able to choose the day and time of our second child's

surgical delivery. Later that morning, we were overjoyed to welcome

a baby girl into our family�finally, a girl where for generations

(on my husband's side) there had only been boys! She was a perfect

baby�healthy, dark hair, big blue eyes, and a pretty little face.

We couldn't have been happier! Little did we know that this tiny,

innocent babe in arms would turn our world on its ear.
     Our new daughter, Lauren, thrived in her first few months at

home. She was begrudgingly accepted by her two-year-old brother,

Mark, and gradually our family life fell into a happy new routine.

But as she grew, some little concerns tickled the backs of our

minds. She squinted when she was out in the sunlight�typical of

newborns we were told. She didn't smile when someone came to her

crib, but she would smile when held or spoken to. Finally, a jerky

eye movement that we assumed would pass with her infancy became

more and more obvious. Then came that fateful day when the doctors'

tests concluded that our daughter's retinas were not functioning

properly. She would have visual impairment, but no one knew to what

extent. She might even be able to drive, we were told. 
     Of course we were optimistic and clung to the best case

scenario�that the condition wouldn't worsen, that she would be

mildly visually impaired, but not (God forbid) blind. As the months

passed, it became obvious that this was not a stable condition. Her

visual acuity was gradually fading. We mourned for every lost

dream. We felt guilty that we had unknowingly passed on what we

were told was a recessive genetic defect. We felt depressed about

the future. But it's no fun living in depression, so something had

to give! That something was our first change in attitude about

blindness. This was our child! She was bright and charming, and we

vowed that vision or lack of it would not define her life. We

didn't want to hear any more sympathetic words from well-meaning

neighbors and friends. Give up your dreams? Not on your life!
     And so we were inaugurated into a whole new world�a world

which has caused us to re-examine our values and broaden our

horizon�a world which has brought us support, friendship, and a

cause we believe in. Who would have thought that such a tiny baby

born on a warm June morning would be responsible for all of that?

At what point do we move from seeing the glass as half-empty to

seeing it as half-full? For us it came gradually as we learned,

through the National Federation of the Blind, that the possibility

was there that our dreams for Lauren could be fulfilled. That

foundation was in place for us when we sustained our second

blow�discovering that Lauren also has a progressive hearing loss. 

As with the vision loss, which is now total, the hearing loss has

been gradual. Lauren is now fifteen years old. She got her first

set of hearing aids when she was eight. Her hearing loss has

progressed from mild to moderate, and now hovers on the line

between moderate and severe. Again, doctors are no help to us. They

don't know why and can't predict what the future holds in store. We

just live our lives and take what comes.
     But one thing we have learned over the years is that fear

about the future results from ignorance and failing to take

control. If you do all you can to learn about your nemesis, never

lose sight of your goal (which in our case is to achieve maximum

independence), and stay in charge of your destiny, then the future

is not so frightening. In relation to the deafness, we are still

into the process of learning. The more we learn, the less scary the

future seems. As we meet and talk to other parents with deaf/blind

children and with deaf/blind adults, we are reassured that there

can be a quality life for an individual who is blind and deaf. Our

job is to make sure that Lauren has the adaptive skills necessary

to remain an interactive member of society. There is work to do,

but I feel confident that my daughter will achieve her potential,

and no matter what the future brings, we will never stop reaching

for the stars.
                     FEDERATION PHILOSOPHY 

My Personal Experiences
by Gail Y. Katona, 1993 Recipient 

Distinguished Educator of Blind Children Award 

National Federation of the Blind
Editor's Note: The Distinguished Educator of Blind Children Award

brings not only honor, national recognition, a trip to the NFB

National Convention, and a substantial amount of cash, but it also

confers certain responsibilities upon the recipients. Because the

recipients become role models for other educators and for parents,

we ask them to give a major presentation at the annual meeting of

the National Organization of Parents of Blind Children. In this

presentation they are to outline their philosophy and approach to

education and describe very specific examples of how they go about

putting that philosophy into practice. The following address is the

presentation which was given by our distinguished 1993 Award

recipient, Gail Katona of New Mexico. 
     Good afternoon. It is a great pleasure and honor to be here

today and to have the opportunity to address you and share with you

some of my thoughts on the education of blind children. I was one

of those kids who always knew what I wanted to be when I grew up

and that, of course, was to be a teacher. I have an uncle who has

Down's Syndrome and my aunt, Karen Mayry, is blind. So I grew up

around people who were, as some folks saw it, �different.� I

remember when I was little crying and asking my mom why people

laughed at and pointed to my uncle, and wondering why people

thought that I (a child) had to help my aunt (an adult) just

because she was blind. It puzzled me that people found it amazing

and fascinating that my aunt led a normal life. Because I was

around these relatives often as a child, I was exposed to

stereotypical thinking and discrimination towards those who had

exceptionalities at an early age. I spent three summers when I was

a teen-ager living with my Aunt Karen and her husband. From

spending time with her and watching her run a household, go to

work, go waterskiing, play golf, take care of her husband, hand out

discipline to me when I needed it�basically leading a regular,

average life�I quickly learned that many people in our society sure

had the wrong ideas about the capabilities of blind people.
     I have been a member of the National Federation of the Blind

(NFB) since I was about 17 years old when I attended my first

National Convention in Minneapolis. Because of the NFB I have met

many capable, confident, and independent blind adults. I know

without a doubt that my young blind students too can and will grow

up, go to college or technical school, get jobs, raise families,

and be whatever they want to be in life (except of course pilots or

brain surgeons). In order for these kids to accomplish their goals

they need to become PROFICIENT in what we call the alternative

techniques of blindness, such as Braille and cane travel, and they

need a positive �I can do� attitude about being blind. I believe

all children can be successful and grow to their fullest potential

if they are taught with creativity, love, and encouragement; if

their teachers have high expectations of them; and if they get the

tools they need for success.
     I entered  college in the fall of 1980 at Kutztown University

in Pennsylvania. On my first day of class I wore an NFB T-shirt. I

sat in the front row, right in the middle because that's where kids

who get good grades sit, right?! Well, my professor looked at me

and said, �NFB?� I replied, �Yes, are you familiar with the

organization?� And he said, �I am. What do you know about it?� I

answered, �Well, I've been a member for a couple of years.� He

responded with, �Oh NO - you're one of THOSE people?� I was

surprised and came back with, �YES I AM AND DARN PROUD OF IT, TOO!�

(Mind you this exchange was taking place in a room full of

students.) He then called us (the NFB) a bunch of rabble-rousing

radicals who liked to get up on their soapboxes. My final response

was �Whatever they are, I'm one of them, and nothing will change

that.� Needless to say he and I bumped heads over the next four

years, but in May of 1984 I graduated with a dual major receiving

a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education and Teaching the

Visually Handicapped.
     In college I learned many teaching techniques and methods. I

learned Braille (we used the Library of Congress Braille

Transcribers Manual), how to use both the Perkins Braille Writer

and the slate and stylus, basic orientation and mobility skills,

and a little bit about the abacus. But it was through my

association with the NFB that I picked up my philosophy for

teaching blind children. Who better to learn from than those blind

adults who have been through the education system and KNOW

firsthand what is needed to be successful and make it in today's

     When I began teaching in Albuquerque nine years ago I had six

students, first through third grades in a classroom in a regular

elementary school. Over the years as our reputation grew and word

got out about our existence, the program continued to grow. We have

even had a few families relocate to Albuquerque so their children

could come to our program. Three years ago we had so many children

that I could no longer handle it by myself so we split into two

classrooms. For the past two years I have been team-teaching with

a lady named Rye Gerry who took over the primary students. Rye does

not have visually impaired certification but has many years of

teaching experience and has a masters in special education. More

importantly she has the skills to teach blind children: she is

proficient in the Braille code and spent many hours under

sleepshade learning cane-travel skills. Rye and I teach all

subjects like any other elementary classroom teacher. The only

difference is we teach using both print and Braille or only


     The thirteen students we taught this past year are blind, and

that's where the similarities end. More importantly they are

individual kids with a wide variety of strengths and weaknesses,

just as you would find in any classroom. Our students range from

kindergarten to fifth grade. Some students have learning

disabilities, a few have some physical difficulties, but most are

what I call �generic� kids�regular kiddos who happen to be blind.

Our goal is to teach the students the Braille skills and other

alternative techniques of blindness so they can go out into the

mainstream of the school and be able to compete equally with their

sighted classmates. Some of the students spend 90 percent of their

day mainstreamed into regular classrooms, some spend 90 percent of

their day with us, and the rest fall somewhere in between. We take

a very individualized approach with the students because we want

all children to be successful in their school experience. Some

kids, even if they had 20/20 vision, would still need a lot of

special support in school. Those are the students that spend most

of their day with us receiving individual attention.
     Our students' vision ranges from totally blind to legally

blind or what some people refer to as visually impaired. No matter

what their visual acuity is, we are a classroom for children who

are blind. We try to instill in the kids, their parents, other

teachers, and other sighted students the belief that being blind is

respectable. Blind is not a negative or �bad� word. Being blind is

simply a characteristic, and it doesn't define who you are.
     Although there are many differences among our students there

are three things they all have in common. The first is they are all

blind. The second is they are all learning to read and write in

Braille no matter how much residual vision they have. The third is

they are learning to be safe and independent cane travelers. Both

of these skills are taught while the child is wearing a sleepshade

(blindfold). We don't make a big deal about wearing a sleepshade,

that's just the way it is. Usually the kids don't fuss about it

either. We use sleepshades so the students will more quickly and

thoroughly learn to use the proper techniques instead of depending

on remaining vision, which oftentimes is ineffective and

     There are reasons why children who have some vision should be

taught to read and write in Braille. Some of our kids have

degenerative eye conditions and will not be able to efficiently use

print as primary reading and writing medium as they get older. They

are learning Braille at the same time they are learning print so

the skills will be in place as their vision decreases or

fluctuates. Others have such limited vision that they have to stick

their noses on the page to see the print. This obviously is not a

very quick or efficient way to read, and so the children quickly

fall behind other students in their work. Some of our low-vision

students do well with standard large print materials and can keep

up with their sighted classmates. However these kids also

experience eye fatigue and headaches after prolonged reading. They

are learning to use Braille so they will have an alternative to

print material. No, it is not traumatic for a student with vision

to learn Braille. It can be, though, if the teacher has a negative

attitude about it. We are not trying to �make a child blind� as

some feel. We are trying to provide students with the skills they

need so they can succeed in life.
     Yes, it is possible to learn and use both print and Braille at

the same time; even our youngest students are deciding for

themselves that Braille is often easier and quicker for their

school work.  Valene is one of our students who did not have

Braille skills when she started with us in first grade. She is a

child who could see out of one eye and could read large print if

she got really close to it. We started to teach her Braille,

wearing a sleepshade, and continued also with some instruction in

print. Valene picked up Braille very quickly and was really

enjoying reading. During her first year in school, she experienced

two or three hemorrhages which temporarily took away her vision. If

Valene had not been using Braille, her learning would have stopped

at this time. But because she had Braille training and was already

using a white cane for travel, her education could�and did�continue

uninterrupted. After the hemorrhage cleared, we again incorporated

print instruction with her Braille. By the beginning of second

grade Valene said, �Braille sure is quicker and easier than print!�

Valene has done all of her academic school work in Braille ever

since; she begins fourth grade this August.
     People often wonder when Braille should be introduced to a

child.  I've heard professionals say, �He's not ready to learn

Braille.� And the child is five or six years old! Or professionals

will say, �Why bother using Twin Vision� books? A two-year-old

can't read anyway!� My response to these statements is NONSENSE!

Braille needs to be introduced while a child is small at home or in

preschool. If you think about it, sighted kids are bombarded with

print from the time they are babies. They are learning that these

funny looking lines mean something. Our blind children need to have

Braille exposure at a very young age too. I'm not saying that we

should expect all two-year-olds to be able to read, but they need

to know that Braille exists.
     When do sighted children learn to read? Well, it varies

depending on the child. But by the time they are in preschool they

are at least being exposed to their print letters and numbers. And

by the end of kindergarten sighted kids are expected to at least be

able to recognize their letters and numbers and write their names.

Our blind children need to have the same expectations placed on

them. They also need the opportunity to meet these expectations.

Blind children should progress at the same pace as their sighted

classmates through the reading and writing process. Blindness does

not automatically cause a child to fall behind in his school work;

denying a child the opportunity to learn and use Braille may.

Part of literacy is also writing skills. We teach Braille writing

using both a Perkins Braille Writer as well as a slate and stylus.

The slate and stylus is a blind person's equivalent to a pencil and

paper; it is portable, quiet, and a must for taking notes. We also

teach our students how to write using a pencil. At the very least

our blind children need to know how to write their names in

cursive; think of all the situations in life where a person needs

to write his signature! We also teach our students how to type,

using both a standard electric typewriter and a talking computer.

It does not take a fancy adapted keyboard; we simply mark the F key

and the J key so they can easily find home-row. I try to begin

touch-typing instruction when a student is in second or third

grade. Keyboarding skills are really important. It allows the

students independently to turn in print assignments to their

classroom teachers. This really cuts down on the turnaround time it

takes for the Braille teacher to interline the print over the

student's Braille and then return it to the classroom teacher. It

depends on the individual student, but I expect many of my kids to

turn in typed assignments by the time they are in fourth or fifth

grade. Typing skills also give our kids a way to communicate with

their sighted classmates through notes or letters. 
     The use of a long white cane is not an option, it is a

necessity for our kids. Cane travel skills are an essential part of

a child's education. What child doesn't want the freedom and the

ability to go places by himself, when and where he chooses? Cane

travel skills for young children give them that freedom. Using a

white cane needs to be started at a very young age. I feel that by

the time a child can walk and hold a cane out in front of him, he

should have the opportunity to move about and explore his

environment using a cane. How do you know if a child needs a cane?

Basically, if children cannot safely and by themselves go places

other children their age go, then they need a cane.
     When Elisha started kindergarten with us she did not have a

cane. Since she had a LITTLE vision, she was never given a cane.

Well, the first day of school she was running down the hall and

didn't see the wall until she was a few inches from it. She quickly

put on her brakes (meanwhile my heart was in my mouth) and wham!

She went into the wall. Luckily she put her hand up so she really

didn't get hurt. That same day, going out to recess, she tumbled

down three steps and scraped her knees because she didn't see the

steps. I had a cane in her hand the next day and started

instruction immediately. Then I could relax and not constantly

worry about her safety. Now Elisha knows where steps are and where

walls are because her cane gives her the information she needs!

Jennifer is the opposite. While Elisha is a speed demon, Jennifer

is pretty slow-moving. Jen didn't walk alone until she was about

four years old, and she started at Zia Elementary a year later. She

was very tiny for her age, about the size of a three-year-old. And

when she started school she got her first white cane and began

learning how to use it. When the recess bell would ring, Jen would

pick up her cane from next to her chair and head out of the

classroom door. She would go down the hallway and just as she got

to the doors leading outside, the bell would ring ending recess!

So, she would turn around and make her way back to the classroom

and try again the following recess. Needless to say, Jennifer

didn't get much playing done outside.
     Were we mean? Some teachers and students thought so. Maybe it

would have been quicker and easier to take her by the hand and get

her outside. But what would Jennifer have learned? The message she

would have gotten is that she was incapable of doing it herself. It

took her a long time to speed up, and she's still no Speedy

Gonzales (except when there is pizza for lunch�then she flies!),

but Jennifer knows that she can get around all by herself, and we

expect her to do so. (Jennifer goes off to middle school in August

and is nervous but excited.)

     When students have a white cane they are expected to use it at

all times: on the playground, in the hallways, in the cafeteria,

going to the bathroom, on field trips, in the classroom, on the

bus, around their neighborhoods, in the store, etc. If they begin

at an early age to use a cane, the cane becomes a part of them. But

kids will be kids, and sometimes they forget and don't use their

canes correctly. I can't tell you how many times I've seen our

students dragging their canes behind, looking to see where they've

been I guess, or just holding the cane but not arcing it or using

it. And when they run into a pole, or fall off a curb, it is hard

for me to stand there and watch it happen. My students have heard

me say countless times, �Are you hurt? No? Good. But if you were

using your cane it wouldn't have happened.� If we always rescue a

child, they won't learn how to be good, safe, independent

travelers. We need to always encourage independence for our kids

and encourage them always to use their canes. Now I often hear the

other teachers in the school telling our kids to �Arc that cane and

use it�don't just carry it.� I don't know about you, but I have

better things to do with my time than to walk a kid to the bathroom

twelve times a day or to the drinking fountain or to the

playground. With the training in using a white cane, our children

have the independence to get around just like everyone else.
     Teaching is much more than passing on reading, writing, math

skills, and knowledge. Teaching is acceptance, patience,

flexibility, creativity, and having the honesty to admit we don't

have all the answers but will try to find out. It is assuming that

all children have the desire to learn, and then giving them the

tools they need to learn and to succeed. It is challenging students

to think and grow to their fullest potential. This is what I try to

do. It is a wonderful experience to watch my students mature and

learn to be capable, confident young people who just happen to be

Prepared by:  

Jennifer Haber and Leslie Seid Margolis* 

Maryland Disability Law Center
This checklist contains the federal legal requirements governing

the individualized education program (IEP) process and suggestions

for making the process as productive as possible. Please note that

state laws impose a number of additional requirements on school

systems. Please also note that any time the words �school system�

are used, the reference is also to any public agency that is

responsible for the provision of special education services to

students with disabilities.
___1. After the initial determination that a student needs special

education, a meeting must be held within 30 days to develop an IEP.
___2. A meeting to review or, if appropriate, revise an IEP must be

held at least one time per year. 
___3. The IEP must be in effect at the beginning of each school

___4. The parent(s) must receive notification of the meeting early

enough to ensure that they will have the opportunity to attend.
The meeting must be scheduled at a mutually agreed to time and

The meeting notice must indicate the time, purpose, and location of

the meeting and who will be in attendance.
If the purpose of meeting is to determine transition services, the

meeting notice must also indicate that the purpose of the meeting

is transitional planning; indicate that the student will be

invited; identify any other agencies that will be invited to send

a representative to the meeting.
___5. If neither parent can attend, the school system must use

other methods to ensure participation, including individual or

conference telephone calls. 
___6. A meeting may be conducted without a parent in attendance if

the school system is not able to convince the parent(s) that they

should come to the meeting. If the school system proceeds without

the parent, the school system must have a record of its efforts to

arrange a mutually agreed on time and place for the meeting. 

___7. When a parent does attend the IEP meeting, either in person

or by other means, the school system must ensure that the parent

understands the proceedings at the meeting. This includes arranging

an interpreter for parents with deafness or parents whose native

language is not English. 
___8. The parent has the right to review the student's complete

education file prior to any meeting.

     It may be helpful for parents to review school records prior

to an IEP meeting, including assessment results, medical reports,

and records from other agencies with which the student may be

involved. It also may be helpful for parents to talk with the

student's teacher(s) and with the student him- or herself.
     Prior to the meeting, it is helpful for parents to think about

the areas in which the student needs special attention, the kind of

attention that would be most successful, long- and short-term goals

for the student, and the kind of education setting the parents

think would be most appropriate for the student.
     It is also helpful for parents to think about what

modifications might be needed in order for the student to

participate successfully in the regular education and nonacademic

programs. Modifications might include curriculum changes, testing

procedure changes, a one-to-one or classroom aide, a computer, etc.

After thinking about these issues, the parent(s) should write down

any thoughts, questions, or concerns and organize any documents

they want to bring to the meeting.

The parent(s) may wish to contact an advocacy or parent education

organization for advice, information, or assistance prior to the


___1. The following participants must be at the meeting: 

a representative of the school system who is qualified to

administer the provision of special education; 

the student's teacher; 

one or both of the student's parents; 

the student, if appropriate; 

and other individuals at the discretion of the parent or school

system�for example, therapists from the school system or outside


___2. For a student who has been evaluated for the first time, a

member of the evaluation team must also attend the meeting. The

school system must also ensure that the school system

representative, the teacher, or some other person who is

knowledgeable about the evaluation procedures used and the

evaluation results is present at the meeting. 

___3. If the student does not attend the IEP meeting at which a

transition plan is developed, the school system must take other

steps to ensure that the student's preferences and interests are


___4. If the representative of any other agencies invited to a

meeting at which a transition plan is developed do not attend, the

school system shall take other steps to obtain participation.

     Parents are members of the team. They should feel free to ask

questions and participate in the discussion at the IEP meeting. The

discussion should be based on cooperation and mutual concern for

the student.
     Parents should ask for an explanation of assessment results,

unfamiliar terminology, and recommendations.

It is helpful to proceed through each item on the IEP, addressing

any areas of disagreement or concern on the parents' part. It may

be helpful to look at each goal and objective and determine if it

has been met, partially met, or not met. Going through this process

will help identify goals and objectives that need to be changed and

goals and objectives that should be carried over to the new IEP.

The meeting participants should discuss the type, amount, and

frequency of any related services the student requires.

The meeting participants should discuss whether the student needs

assistive technology devices and/or services to benefit from

his/her education.
     The meeting participants should discuss the amount of

programming the student will receive in regular education and in

nonacademic and extracurricular activities and services. As part of

this discussion, the meeting participants also should discuss any

supportive aids or services or any modifications necessary to

enable the student to benefit from participation in regular

education and activities.
     The meeting participants should discuss whether the student

needs extended school day or extended school year services.

___1. The IEP must be developed at the meeting. It is permissible

for the school system to come to the meeting with a draft IEP, but

the parent(s) must have the opportunity to participate in the

development of the final IEP. 
___2. The IEP must be developed before any placement decision is

___3. The IEP must include a statement of the student's current

educational performance. 

a statement of annual goals including short-term instructional


a statement of the specific special education and related services

to be provided; 

the extent to which the student will be able to participate in

regular educational programs; 

the projected dates when services will begin and how long they will

last; and 

appropriate objective criteria and evaluation procedures and

timetables for determining, at least annually, whether the

short-term instructional objectives are being achieved.
___4. The IEP for each student, beginning at age 16 or younger, if

appropriate, must include a transition plan comprised of:

a statement of the needed transition services based on the

individual student's needs, taking into account the student's

preferences and interests; 

needed activities in the areas of instruction, community

experiences, and if appropriate, acquisition of daily living skills

and functional vocational evaluation.
     If the committee decides that some of these services are not

necessary, the IEP must include a statement to that effect and the

basis upon which the determination was made.

If appropriate, a statement of each agency's responsibilities

should be included on the IEP.
Note: If any other agency fails to provide agreed-upon transitional

services contained in the IEP, the school system must initiate a

meeting as soon as possible to identify alternative strategies.

(This provision does not relieve the other agencies of

responsibility to provide or pay for services.)
___5. The parents shall receive a copy of the IEP if they request

a copy.

     The IEP should include all areas in which the student needs

specially designed instruction.
     The IEP should be designed to enable the student to attain

knowledge and/or skills and should not be a repetition of subjects

already mastered by the student.
     The IEP should include any supportive services or aids or

modifications necessary to enable the student to participate in

regular education or nonacademic or extracurricular activities. 
     The IEP should include any assistive technology devices or

services necessary to enable the student to benefit from his or her


     The IEP should include extended school day or extended school

year services if the committee determines that such services are

     The IEP should include any testing modifications that will be

provided to the student.
     The IEP should include the type, amount, and frequency of any

related services the student requires.
     The IEP should include the persons responsible for

implementing each piece of the IEP.

     The parent should always request a copy of the IEP.
___1. The IEP must be implemented as soon as possible following the

IEP meeting. 
___2. The student's placement must be based on the IEP and must be

the least restrictive environment in which the IEP can be

implemented. Unless the student's IEP requires some other

arrangement, the student's placement must be in the school he or

she would attend if not disabled.
Note: Federal and state special education laws include a number of

procedural safeguards, one of which is the parent's right to

challenge any aspect of a student's special education services or

placement, including the school system's failure to implement the

*Jennifer Haber, a law student at the University of Maryland law

School, was an intern at the Maryland Disability Law Center during

the fall of 1994. Leslie Seid Margolis is a managing attorney at

the Maryland Disability Law Center, Maryland's protection and

advocacy agency.
by Angelique Turner

Editor's Note: This article is reprinted from the Spring, 1994,

issue of the Buckeye Bulletin, the newsletter of the National

Federation of the Blind of Ohio. Angelique (Angel) Turner  received

a 1993 National Federation of the Blind of Ohio Scholarship. She is

also President of Ohio's Student Division. 
     I attended my very first Washington Seminar in February of

this year. While there, I was asked to put my impressions of the

event in writing. This seemed an easy request with which to comply.

After all, I was experiencing a great many firsts. For example, I

purchased my very first long white cane and began using it on the

long trek from the hotel to Capitol Hill. Much to my surprise,

however, when I sat down to write about my many new experiences,

the words simply were not there. So many things had happened that

I could not decide what to write about. But my writer's block was

short-lived. It ended suddenly and dramatically with an incident

that took place shortly after I returned from Washington.
     During the weekend immediately following the seminar, I felt

that some time for relaxation was definitely in order. Therefore,

I got together with some friends to attend a student production of

The Pines of Rome, and I decided to take my newly purchased NFB

white cane along for the trip. Since I am a new cane user, this was

not an easy decision to make, but my friends supported me in my

endeavors to explore my blindness more fully and thought the cane

was �cool.� However, as we started to leave my room, one young

woman, who had evidently missed the whole point of the conversation

leading up to the decision to take my cane, innocently commented, 
     �You're not going to carry that thing around with you, are

     I will omit the initial remark that popped into my head, for

I did not say it to her. However, I feel certain that it was

written all over my face. After a brief recovery, I innocently

replied, �Sure. Why not?� And then with cane in hand and a smile

painted brightly on my face, I walked out the door to enjoy the

     That incident combined with others that had occurred during

the Washington Seminar and on the trip home made me think more and

more about the societal attitudes and stereotypes that many people

in the blind community have incorporated into their own thinking.

Many blind people with some residual sight hinder their well-being

and progress by rejecting the alternative techniques of blindness

because of the negative attitudes and stereotypes associated with

being blind. For example, a person who fears that a cane makes him

or her look blind is unlikely to use it. If one feels that Braille

makes one look blind, one will not be eager to learn or use it. Our

attitudes about blindness begin to take shape when we are very

young. I can remember hating the coke-bottle glasses I owned when

I was six because everyone called me �four-eyes� and �blind bat,�

etc. I did not have blind adults to serve as role models for me.

For that matter, there was no one to teach me that it was okay to

be blind. In retrospect I remember how many kids came to school

damning their parents because of the brace-face brand seared into

their little egos. These were usually the kids that picked on the

special ed kids and others like me. Perhaps it is well for all to

recognize that every child gets called names along the way.
     But many parents and professionals in the field of work with

the blind keep the negative attitudes and damning stereotypes

alive. We in the blind community know all too well the harmful

effects of sight-saving classes with their emphasis on audio tapes

and their discouragement of independent travel. Yet to many parents

and professionals the fact that a blind child has to be taken to

the bathroom or have her food brought to her or that she must cling

to the corridor wall for direction is not particularly worrying, as

long as she doesn't have to use a cane. It doesn't seem to matter

that, even with large print a half inch from his nose, a bright

college student can read only ten print words a minute or that he

has to stay up all hours of the night reviewing five or six lecture

tapes simply to prepare the notes for the course, let alone study

for the exam he has the next day. And he thinks it is worth all of

that not to look blind.
     I am now struggling in college as a result of the so-called

sight-saving class and attitudes I was subjected to when I was a

child. I am still dealing with my blindness in all senses of the

word, and, as a new state student chapter president, I find it

difficult to give guidance to others when I am still searching for

answers. While at the Washington Seminar, however, I received a

great deal of support from other students and leaders in my

Federation family to provide me with a gentle nudge or a swift kick

to keep me going in the right direction. I sincerely hope that the

students of today's NFB will aim more and more to set positive

examples for the youth that are fighting society's stereotypes. I

will certainly try.
                       FROM THE BOOKSHELF


Instructions in Cane Travel for Blind People

by Thomas Bickford

(c) 1993 National Federation of the Blind, ISBN 0-9624122-7-9
     Author Thomas Bickford's faith in the blind traveler to become

independent�with or without the assistance of a good travel

teacher�is demonstrated over and over in this sensible,

down-to-earth, self-help guide. He draws extensively upon personal

experiences (Mr. Bickford is himself  blind and a  former mobility

teacher) to demon-strate to the reader that there is no special

difficulty or mystery to traveling independently and safely with a

white cane. 
     �To become an independent traveler,� he tells the reader �you

must, and I believe you can, learn to take care of yourself. The

best thing this booklet can do for you is to help you come to the

time when you don't need it.�
     Mr. Bickford begins with the basics��Getting Yourself Ready,�

�Getting the Cane Ready,� �Actually Walking Around��and moves on up

to more complex travel situations: �Crossing Big, Busy

Intersections,� �Subways, Escalators, and Elevators,� �Picnics,

Hiking, and Rough Country.� One segment near the end of the book is

especially reassuring, �No One Has to do Everything Perfectly.� 
     Although the book targets adults, parents of blind children

will find the information extremely valuable. It answers many

questions and addresses the fears parents typically have about

independent travel.

$2.00 large print 

$4.00 cassette tape 

$10.00 Braille

One case of 48, large print: $20
Send check or money order payable to the  

National Federation of the Blind to 

Materials Center 

National Federation of the Blind  

1800 Johnson Street 

 Baltimore, Maryland 21230 
For more information call (410) 659-9314 

 EST 12:30 p.m.�5:00 p.m.
by John Ross

Reprinted from the March-April, 1991 issue of the Feeling Sports

From the Editor: �P.E. class is a joke.� My sighted son's lament

about his regular physical education class in high school is no

comfort to me when I consider the sad state of physical education

for blind kids in this country. Here's how sad it is: The staff at

a summer program for middle-school blind kids have to reorganize

their program when they realize that many of the kids can't walk a

few city blocks without getting exhausted. These kids have no

medical or physical conditions which should limit them; they're

simply out of shape. A bright, talented teen-ager whose only

physical limitation has been his blindness has never learned how to

run. Throughout the years he has, with his parents' consent, been

exempted from all strenuous P.E. activities. A blind youngster and

her parents go to an amusement park. Her parents request a

wheelchair for her at the park. Again, there is only the blindness,

but the girl has no stamina and her parents have no patience. At

home or in school her only physical activity is to walk from room

to room or from the door to the bus or the car. The real irony of

the situation, however, is that the amusement park was only a side

trip to a Special Olympics event the youngster was attending.
`    Why do these things still happen and what can we do about

them? John Ross, the author of the following article, attacks these

questions and offers up some strong opinions. I have never met John

Ross and know nothing about him other than what you are about to

read in the following article. Furthermore, I don't agree with all

his opinions and conclusions. For example, I know many athletic

blind people, including my son, who find no challenge in beeping

baseball or in any beeping-ball sport; and  laws already exist

which protect the right of blind youngsters to participate in

school or community-sponsored sports. It's not new laws we need,

but a new understanding of blindness and more parents who are

willing to follow the example of Mr. Ross's father. 
     Despite our divergent views on how to solve the problem, Mr.

Ross and I share a common concern about the continued neglect of

physical education opportunities for blind kids in our schools.

What he has to say is thought-provoking and challenging. 
     I've been totally blind since age seven and know firsthand how

the system and society deal with visually impaired people. I give

high marks and ratings to a public system that provided me with an

excellent education. I always had skilled teachers and up-to-date

equipment to aid my learning process. They served me well enough

that I went on to earn two college degrees. 
     Because of my teachers' skills, dedication, and efforts, I

learned (and continue to extensively use) Braille. I also learned

how to operate a typewriter and a computer. They taught me good

study habits and the importance of competing equally in the

business world. I shudder to think what my life might have been had

it not been for those dedicated and wonderful people. I also

shudder to think what my life might have been if I didn't have the

kind of parents who wanted as much for me as my non-handicapped

brothers and sisters. 

     I grew up in a sports-oriented environment. My father was a

physical education teacher and my two brothers and two sisters

where involved in different and various sports activities. I, too,

wanted these same opportunities but it wasn't any easy path to

follow. During gym classes, I had to stay out of the action because

of �potential dangers and injuries.� If lucky, I could find another

sidelined student and play a game of checkers. This made both my

father and me furious. But, the accepted philosophy of educators

and the school board was adamant: No gym activities for blind

     However, my dad and brothers worked with me, and I learned

gymnastic skills, did well in swimming, and performed even better

in wrestling. Neighborhood rules were modified to allow me to

participate in football, basketball, and baseball games. In high

school, however, I was encouraged to substitute gym class

requirements for study hours. And I was refused the opportunity to

try out for any of the athletic teams. My dad fought this issue and

won a minor victory. He had to sign a disclaimer absolving the

school district of any liability in the event of an injury, and he

had to get a special health insurance program for me. But this

allowed me to letter in football, and I won the state high school

wrestling tournament. 
     Local educators and physical education instructors ridiculed

my dad for subjecting me to physical activities where I could

suffer serious hurts and injuries. Thank God he was willing to take

that risk. I had my share of injuries (which no one welcomes), but

I also greatly benefited from the joys and lessons that are part of

participating in athletics. The learned lessons, lasting

friendships, memories, and pure joy of participating in organized

athletic programs are rich with pluses and benefits. Because of my

father, it was my good fortune to have access to these

     But, oh, I hurt to think of the many, many, blind youngsters

who would love to have such opportunities but, because of

circumstances, are denied. And, unless individuals and parents

demand it, the doorways to unique athletic challenges and

opportunities will continue to remain closed.
     My college days ended over thirty years ago. Much of my

professional life has been involved with promoting physical fitness

and organized athletic programs for the visually impaired. Times

have certainly changed. Progress over the last twenty years has

been made. The options for blind people to engage in a wide variety

of athletic pursuits continue to grow and multiply. But, sadly

enough, this is not the case for our young blind kids. 
     Even schools for the blind drag their feet when it comes to

making new opportunities available. They do sponsor regional, and

some national, competitions in such sports as wrestling, bowling,

swimming, track and field; some are getting into gymnastics and

weight-lifting. But none of them have any real or progressive

programs for beep-baseball, golf, or the newly-developed field of

     The schools for the blind in Illinois and California do own

audio dart machines. However, to the best of my knowledge, neither

school has emphasized that activity (and it is the least likely to

pose danger or injuries for participants.) Beep-baseball is the

most interesting and challenging team sport available to the blind.

Golf is a definite skill sport but, with proper equipment and

training, many more blind adults and kids could be enjoying this

activity. The younger they start, the more skilled and proficient

they will become. Counselors, teachers, and school superintendents

who work with the visually impaired fail to take necessary steps

and actions that would make these opportunities available to their

     Because of this yoke of hesitancy, parents are virtually

unaware of what their children are missing. The bottom line is

fear: fear that a child may be injured and the parents or guardians

will initiate a costly lawsuit. State and federal legislators have

to be pushed and made aware of this fact so that children with

handicaps have the same opportunities to pursue and enjoy sport and

leisure activities. The main push has to come from parents who

demand that these shackles be removed. Parents have to band

together to form clubs and organizations to face these issues and

to pass laws that will insure that visually impaired children are

no longer excluded from such an important aspect of life and

     A skinned elbow or bloody nose is a small price to pay for the

opportunity to swing a bat and hit a pitched ball, and then, run

like the devil to beat an �out� call. Or to throw a dart and score

a bulls eye, or the sheer satisfaction of playing a game of golf

with a sighted or unsighted opponent. Every school district in

America should feel morally and legally obligated to make such

opportunities readily available to their handicapped students. 
     The following article is also reprinted from the same issue of

Feeling Sports newsletter:


     by Dr. Jim Mastro
     A good physical education or recreation program for visually

impaired children can be easy if common sense is used by the

educator. If teachers and recreation specialists use their

creativity and treat visually impaired children the same as normal

children, programs can be very beneficial.
     The following are hints that may help your program succeed:
     1. Preschool and elementary children should be taught that

movement can be fun and beneficial (with some adaptations for

safety). If you wait until these children reach twelve to fifteen

years of age it may be too late for visually impaired children to

learn to move with confidence.
     2. A good physical education program can provide the

prerequisite skills needed for further participation in sports; for

example, strength and agility. 
     3. Choose familiar environments for physical activity or take

time for orientation of the child to the surroundings.
     4. Allow the child to explore the physical education area

     5. Remove obstacles that would interfere with free movements.
     6. Use a radio or sounding device for cues in the gym and

swimming pool.
     7. An aerial guide line, contrasting colors, and textures can

be used for boundaries and for running.
     8. Use audible or brightly colored equipment (i.e. balls,

balloons, scarves, and goal locators).
     9. Accentuate auditory cues and verbal instructions.
     10. Expand your verbal directions to children. For example,

�Go over there� is inadequate. Where is there?
     11. Provide verbal descriptions, manual manipulation, and

Braille or large print instructions for guidance in activities as

     12. Maintain normal voice intensity.
     13. Provide auditory starts and stops of activities.
     These are a few hints that may help visually impaired children

in your programs. Remember that visually impaired students are the

same as sighted children in their physical education needs.
     FACT 1.�Braille is literacy!
     Literacy: An individual's ability to read, write, and speak in

English and compute and solve problems at levels of proficiency

necessary to function on the job and in society; to achieve one's

goals; and to develop one's knowledge and potential.
     For blind and visually impaired 
      students, Braille IS literacy! 
     Tragically, however, for decades our schools have downgraded

Braille to the level of just another information-gathering tool.

This has led to a nationwide crisis. 
     FACT 2. �Thousands of blind and visually impaired students are

functionally illiterate. 
     These students cannot read, write, or compute independently

and efficiently. Currently, there are about 50,204 elementary and

secondary level students who have only 10 percent or less of normal

vision. Of these, only 4,385 read Braille. The vast majority of the

remaining students use print materials even when reading with sight

is inefficient, inadequate, and a never-ending daily struggle. 
     FACT 3. �Something MUST be done!
     The National Organization of Parents of Blind Children and the

National Federation of the Blind have been engaged in a nationwide

Braille Literacy Campaign to eliminate illiteracy among blind and

visually impaired children and youth. Last year, that campaign went

national as we sought to amend the Individuals with Disabilities

Education Act (IDEA). However, that effort was put on hold when it

became apparent that action on IDEA would not be taken until 1995.
     By the time you receive this issue the Braille Literacy

Campaign at the federal level will have shifted from the back

burner to the front burner. Sometime this spring Congress must

begin tackling the re-authorization of the Individuals with

Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).  
     This, then, is the ideal time to push to get strong Braille

literacy provisions added to IDEA. It is the best opportunity we

will have for many years to get strong language at the federal

level which confirms the right of all blind children to basic

Braille literacy skills.
     FACT 4. �You can help. Write a Letter!
     Whom To Write:  
     a.) The two senators from your state (address: U.S. Senate,

Washington, D.C., 20510);  
     b.) your member of congress in the House of Representatives

(address: House of Representatives, Washington, D.C. 20515);  
     c.) *Congressman Randy (Duke) Cunningham, U.S. House of

Representatives, Washington, D.C. 20515; and *Senator Bill Frist,

U.S. Senate, Washington, D.C. 20510.  
     *Congressman Cunningham and Senator Frist chair the key

committees to which IDEA will be assigned.  
     What To Say: Tell them how you feel about the importance of

this issue. It does not need to be a complex or lengthy letter (in

fact, a one-page letter is best). Just tell them who you are, why

you are interested in Braille literacy, and specifically urge them

to support the addition of strong Braille literacy provisions to

IDEA. The letters may be the same, they can be hand-written or

typed, and they must include your name and address. 
     Send A Copy: Take one more extra moment and send a copy of

your letter to Mrs. Barbara Cheadle, National Organization of

Parents of Blind Children, 1800 Johnson Street, Baltimore, Maryland

     For more information 

     call Mrs. Cheadle at (410) 659-9314

                       RIDE LIKE THE WIND

                        by Margie Watson
     My five-year-old daughter, Katie, likes to ride her bike. That

surprises most people, because Katie is blind. My husband or I walk

about ten feet in front of Katie and tell her when to turn the

corner, but otherwise she rides straight ahead on her own.
     Last spring, we were getting our bikes out from the basement,

(Wisconsin snow keeps us off of them in the winter), and Katie told

us that she wanted to ride with us and not ride behind us while we

walked. Our first thought was to look into purchasing a tandem

bike. We learned that we could add on something called a stoker kit

which would make the back seat the right size for a child. The

problem with this idea was that it was expensive�about $1,000.

Another problem with the tandem bike was that the back-seat rider

would have to pedal at the pace of the front-seat rider. That would

be difficult for a five-year-old child. Disappointed, we figured

that we would have to forego family bike rides until Katie was big

enough for a tandem bike.
     Then we heard about a bike called the Allycat Shadow. It was

designed for bike-riding enthusiasts who also happened to be

parents. Essentially, it is a child-sized bike without a front

tire. A bar extends up from the handlebars which is then attached

to an adult's bike just below the seat. The Allycat Shadow would

make our own bike into a detachable children's tandem. It was the

right size for Katie (it holds children from ages four to ten up to

eighty pounds), and the price was reasonable. We immediately

ordered one.
     We are thrilled with Katie's new bike. For us it means an

affordable bike for Katie and that we can use the adult bike we

already have. For Katie it means that she can pedal (or not pedal)

at her own pace. And while riding with mom and dad, she is getting

the feel of balancing and learning to turn, as well as riding much

     For any family that enjoys family bike rides, we highly

recommend the Allycat Shadow. You can ask Katie how much fun she is

having riding her new bike�that is, if you can catch her.
     The photograph shows the Allycat Shadow attached to an adult

bike, (you would use your own adult bike). For more information, or

to order, contact 
     Allycat Shadow 

     P.O. Box 1242 

     San Carlos, California 94070 

     (800) 700-ALLY (2559).
     Members of the National Organization of Parents of Blind

Children will receive this special deal from Allycat: $159.95.

(Dealer may ask for confirmation of membership.) This price 

includes: shipping costs, a child's helmet, a velcro-attached bike

bag, and a water bottle. Again, it does not  include the adult

                          RECESS SMARTS

                         by Ken Volonte
     Editor's Note: Ken Volonte has been a member of the NFB

Writer's Division since its inception. He lives and works in

Stockton, California, as a marriage and family therapist.
     It's amazing how vitalized a high school reunion can make you

feel. You get to see people you don't care about any more and have

nothing in common with, that you didn't have anything in common

with even when you were in class. The reunion committee couldn't

locate any of your friends; but luckily for me, I didn't have that

problem because I was friends with everybody.
     Apart from the fun of reminiscing, reunions can stir up old

memories. That's what happened to me last Saturday night at my 25th

reunion. After dinner, I was approached by Ronda Crell. I never

much talked to her when we were in school. I think we only had one

class together in four years, but we went back as far as

kindergarten, so we talked for a good long time. 
     Since we had known each other for so long in school, we kept

asking each other what we remembered. Our questions probed for

specific feelings. This was different than nostalgia. We were

trying to recreate our lives as children and superimpose an adult

perspective on them. Our conversation was serious and intense, and

I suddenly remembered with great detail how it was that I came to

know the difference and meaning of my blindness�to really know it.

As parents, we sometimes forget that it's easier to learn something

from someone your own age.
     When I was five, I had Miss Elsy in the afternoon for

kindergarten. She always made sure that I was included in all of

the activities. One day I brought a Braille book to school that was

given to me by a lady from the Variety Club. She came to see me and

talk to my mom about ways to teach me skills I would need in

school. Anyway, Miss Elsy explained to the class that this book

would be how I would read when I was a big boy in the first grade;

and she read the story. Miss Elsy was always doing things like

that, making sure that my classmates knew that I was going to learn

just the same as they were.
     One day it was time to test our ability to follow directions.

We were all given books and told to do various things. �Put an X on

the baby,� said Miss Elsy. Of course, I put an imaginary X on an

imaginary baby. I followed all of the directions and felt like I

was really hot stuff. �That stinks.� It was Bruce Odelson. I hated

him. He was all the time bothering me.
     At recess, Bruce started throwing sawdust at my eyes and

calling me names. I ran as fast as I could to get away from him,

but he just kept coming and throwing sawdust. Somebody took my

hand, and we both ran. It was Francine Peticlere. She ran with me

while Ronda yelled at Bruce.
     When we were off by ourselves, Francine asked me if I knew why

Bruce was picking on me. I said that I didn't. �It's because you're

blind.� I knew that. Dr. Wesmith told me. �Do you know what that

     �Sure I know. It means I'm blind.�
     �Hold up some fingers.� She said this slowly, like she was

thinking out loud. �Don't tell me how many.� 
     This was fun.
     �You're holding up three fingers,� said Francine. �Now I'll

hold up some fingers. Don't feel my hands.� (My reaching for her

hand was automatic.)
     �You're holding up four fingers,� I said.
     �When you told me how many fingers I was holding up, did you

guess or did you know?� asked Francine. 
     I admitted that I had guessed. 
     �That's the difference. I knew.� 
     So there it was. Francine didn't say this out of meanness.

That's just how it was. At first, I felt inferior. Then I got used

to the idea and felt special. Now I'm back to feeling that my

blindness is just how it is. It took a little girl to explain this

to me, a friend with the heart and mind to care enough to explain

a difference more real than grownups could face. Even Dr. Wesmith

couldn't tell me about my blindness in a way that I could

understand. And the experts�so long as I could do the tests and was

happy�didn't have to think about my blindness and what it meant to

me at all. 
     It's always important for kids to know why things are

happening to them. Without my friend Francine's demonstration, I

might have wondered for a long time, �What's wrong with me?�
                   STOP, LISTEN, AND OBSERVE:
     Your  Blind  Multiply Handicapped Child Is  Trying  To  Tell 

You Something! 

by Linda Zani Thomas
     Editor's Note: Linda Zani Thomas is a member of the New Jersey

division of the  National  Organization of Parents of Blind

Children, and the president of the Little Angel Health Network, a

medical information service for parents. Linda also reports that

she is the mother of five-and-one-half year-old Marisa, a happy,

visually impaired, multiply handicapped child. 
     There probably isn't a parent around who doesn't pay attention

to where his or her child falls on the development charts. For the

parents of children with multiple handicaps, those charts can give

you nightmares. And as your child begins to slip farther and

farther behind other kids his age you begin to wonder: Which delays

are due to blindness? Which may be signals of other problems? How

can I help? Am I doing enough?
     First of all, here is some good advice that has served me

     1. If your child seems intelligent to you, you're probably

right! No matter what the experts say, no one knows your child

better than you.
     2. A visual impairment alone is extremely challenging. Add on

other handicaps such as cerebral palsy and cognitive dysfunction,

and your child's got a real challenge on his hands. Relax. Delays

are inevitable, but development will occur.
     3. You can't pull a flower out of the ground. Like your child,

a flower blooms when it's good and ready. All you can do is nurture

it and surround it with the best possible environment for growth.

The rest is up to him or her.
     4. Accept the fact that your child may take a different path

to development. The sooner you accept the challenges children face,

the sooner you will be able to help them make the most of what

they've got.
     The first place to start is to objectively observe your

child's daily routine. Start by keeping a diary of your child's

typical day. Jot down the times and duration of all his activities.

Write down your child's actions and reactions. What makes him

happy? Sad? Curious?
     Remember: Repetitive motions may not be random! Watch for the

rhythm of movements and gestures.
     Write down or record all sounds. Pay attention to their tone,

melody, rhythm, and intonation. Remember, crying is the earliest

form of communication. Be sure to listen for different types of

cries, i.e. scared, hurt, bored, or angry.
     Next, have a friend or other family member write down their

observations for a whole day on their own, then compare notes.

You'll be amazed at how purposeful your child's behavior really is!
                     CHOICES AND THEIR COSTS

                        by Peter Grunwald
     From the Editor: Some articles do not need any introduction or

explanation. This is one of them.
     In early 1952 my parents and their young daughter arrived in

the United States from Germany. They settled in Chicago, and in

September I was born. A few short months later, however, they got

the bad news that I had a cancer in the retinas of both eyes, known

as retinal blastoma. The doctors told them that the cancer was

already too advanced in the left eye to warrant any treatment, and

that eye was removed. But they did recommend that the right eye

could be treated with radiation, and that some sight in that eye

might be saved.
     Obviously the choices my parents faced were wrenching, and my

survival was hardly a sure bet. But they did elect to go ahead with

the radiation treatment. I am sure that the doctors thought that

there was a reasonable likelihood that the treatment would work,

and saving the sight in even one eye seemed important to all

concerned. Unfortunately, however, the treatment was unsuccessful

and soon the right eye was removed as well.
     Now came the daunting effort to raise a child and to learn

whatever was to be learned about blindness. While (especially in

the early years) my survival was still uncertain, my parents

entered the task with uncommon determination.They became among the

most educated and forward-thinking parents I have ever known

regarding blindness. I was not at all a sheltered child. I got

early cane training long before it was fashionable. I was

encouraged to become physically and socially active. My parents

also routinely took on the educational establishment to ensure a

quality education for me. My mother became fluent in Braille, and

she produced materials which would have otherwise been unavailable.
     Somehow I managed to grow to adulthood. I found my niche in

the work place as a piano technician, tuning, repairing, and

rebuilding pianos. I have been active in community affairs and in

the National Federation of the Blind and have been privileged to

serve in leadership positions. For the past fourteen years I have

been lucky enough to be married to a wonderful, strong, and caring

woman. There have certainly been difficulties and tribulation, but

I have had much of what is called the good life.
     However, now the events of my infancy have come back to haunt

me. However far from perfect our knowledge of cancer and its

treatment is now, it was far more limited then. Radiation is used

far more selectively now, and in much more controlled doses. Most

importantly, there is much more understanding of the long-term

ramifications of radiation treatment.
     In August of 1992, I was diagnosed with a new and fast-growing

cancer in the nasal and sinus area. This new cancer was almost

certainly the result of the radiation treatment. At this writing, 

(May, 1993), I have received (and will continue to have) a number

of chemotherapy treatments, and had an extremely major surgery. My

future is still very much undermined.
     I would guess that today, if my parents had it to do over

again, they would not have gone ahead with the radiation treatment

for me. Of course, they did not then have the experience of raising

a blind child to a reasonably happy and successful adulthood, nor

did they know successful blind adults. Saving my sight (even in one

eye) seemed important, and they got the best medical advice

available at the time. They then went on to become model parents.

Yet the decision forty years ago to try to save some sight, however

loving and well-intentioned, may yet cost me my life.
     Obviously most decisions which a parent may face are not this

dramatic, nor are the possible consequences. Yet each choice that

a parent makes does have ramifications, whether that decision seems

dramatic at the time or not. My wife Mary, for example, is blind

with some remaining vision. Her mother, too, lacked knowledge and

experience, and therefore went along with the recommendation of the

schools that Mary learn print and not Braille. Mary is bright and

inquisitive,  a naturally good student. Yet she dropped out of high

school because she could not keep up with the reading demands. She

is now a successful businesswoman, but she must rely on others for

much of her record-keeping and accounting. Her independence and

available options have been seriously limited because of

well-intentioned choices.
     My plea to all is to become as well-informed about blindness

as possible, and then spread your knowledge far and wide. My

parents could not have become more medically advanced than the

doctors. But if a true understanding of blindness, what it is and

is not, had been more prevalent in our society, perhaps they would

then have had a different perspective on the importance of the

sight of one eye.
     But today we all have available to us the great resource of

the National Federation of the Blind through which we can soak up

the knowledge and life experiences of tens of thousands of blind

people and then disseminate that collective wisdom throughout

society. In this way we can, for ourselves as well as others, avoid

making mistaken choices for the next generation of blind children.

Choices which, although made with love and the best of intentions,

still may be harmful in their consequences. This is my fervent

hope, and I invite all to join in this effort. 

                       by Carol Castellano
     From the Editor: Carol Castellano of New Jersey is one of the

leaders of the National Organization of Parents of Blind Children.

There is a connection between her correspondence of two years ago

(reprinted below from the October, 1992, issue of the Braille

Monitor), the article about �Choices� by Peter Grunwald on page 32,

and another article in this issue��Possibilities,� page 45�also by

Carol. If I had to assign a moral�that is, a lesson�to be learned

from these true tales, I think it would be this: Correct

information about blindness can help parents make choices from

which blind children will reap benefits�not suffer consequences.
     Here is Carol's letter:
     Madison, New Jersey 

     June 2, 1992
     Dear Dr. Jernigan:
     Recently I received a phone call from the principal of my

daughter's school. I was told that Serena, who is in first grade,

would no longer be allowed to wait for me after school at the

bottom of the hill with all the other children. She would now have

to be picked up in the office. When I asked if something had

happened, I was told, �We're concerned for her safety.� When I

questioned why there was concern for her safety, the principal

answered, �Because she is blind.�
     For two years, kindergarten and most of first grade, Serena

had been waiting with no problem for me to pick her up. Putting

this restrictive policy into effect in May of her second year in

that school seemed ludicrous. When I informed the principal that

there were laws against such discrimination, I was assured that

school personnel were not discriminating against Serena; they were

just concerned with her safety.
     I spoke to Mrs. Maurer soon after the phone call from the

principal, and it is at her suggestion that I am sending the

enclosed letter I sent to the superintendent of schools in our

school district.
     Had it not been for my contact with the Federation over the

years and my familiarity through the literature with NFB positions

on issues (the airlines issue in particular), I would not have been

able to formulate so persuasive an argument. I am happy to report

that the superintendent decided in our favor �in deference to the

strong feelings set forth in [the] letter.� Serena will continue to

come down the hill and wait for me at the corner.
     Can't wait 'til the National Federation of the Blind

convention in Charlotte.
Best wishes,
Carol Castellano

Madison, New Jersey 
May 22, 1992
     To the Superintendent of Schools:
     I am writing to explain our position on whether or not our

daughter, Serena Cucco, can safely wait for me to pick her up at

the bottom of the hill at Kings Road School.
     Serena has good safety awareness. She knows about the school

driveway, the street, the curb, and the traffic. She is aware of

the crossing guard and what his job is. She comprehends the scene

that is occurring as the children wait for their parents after

school. Generally, she does not stand on the sidewalk to wait. The

sixth grader who accompanies her down the hill usually stops on the

blacktop path, several yards back from the corner. Serena stands in

one place, alone or with other children or mothers, and waits

calmly, patiently, and alertly, to hear my voice.
     Unsafe behaviors do occur at the bottom of the hill outside

Kings Road School. Children play tag wildly, sometimes stopping

their running at the edge of the curb. Many children push and shove

each other practically into the street. Several children are kept

waiting for a long time before a parent comes to pick them up.

Parents continue to ignore safety instructions and park their cars

where the road narrows. As people parallel park along the street,

the rears of their cars jut into the sidewalk where children are

walking and playing. Parents continue to congregate at the corner,

even though they have been requested not to. Serena, however, is

engaged in none of these unsafe behaviors.
     Has a separate policy been put in place to guard the safety of

the children who play too wildly or push and shove at the corner?

Is a special watch being kept over the children whose parents do

not come for fifteen or twenty minutes? Or is Serena the only child

for whom a separate policy has been formed?
     We do not believe that our daughter is unsafe when she is

standing at the bottom of the hill waiting for me. If we thought

she were, we would be the first to request an accommodation. As we

understand it, the issue of safety was brought up by a teacher who

saw Serena waiting alone one day. This teacher was evidently

unaware that there have been many days over the past two years that

Serena has waited alone for me for several minutes and that I had

explicitly told the sixth-grader that she did not need to wait with

Serena until I arrived.
     As usual, without any discussion with us, a policy was decided

upon and I was issued an order: Serena would not be allowed to walk

down the hill; I was to pick her up in the office from then on.
     Those who decided on this plan did not consider the effect

this separate treatment might have on Serena's confidence and

self-image; they did not consider that this action would prevent

her from ever learning the skill of walking down the hill

independently, safely, and efficiently, and of course did not think

that perhaps we, the parents, might have something relevant to

contribute regarding the situation.
     This safety concern is the product of someone's inaccurate

perception, assumption, projection, or fear. It is not based on

reality. Reality is that Serena has waited on that corner for

almost two years entirely without incident. (The principal concedes

that there has never been an incident or even near incident in

which Serena was in any danger. The crossing guard, too, stated

that there have been no problems with Serena's waiting at the

bottom of the hill.)
     The perception that a blind person cannot be safe because she

is blind is typical of the way our society in general thinks about

blindness. It shows a lack of understanding of the fact that blind

adults lead independent lives and of the process of gaining skills

that leads to that ultimate independence. My husband and I know

blind adults who travel wherever they want to go independently; one

of our acquaintances (totally blind, I believe since birth), in

fact, travels the world as a member of the Foreign Service. Serena

will never gain the skills for efficient, safe, independent travel

if 1) she is not allowed to participate in activities such as

walking down the hill and waiting alone, and 2) her confidence and

self-image are undermined by custodial policies based on other

people's inaccurate perceptions about blindness.
     We wonder if, according to the person or people who decided

that Serena can no longer wait safely alone, a magic age will come

when suddenly she will be ready to wait alone. Will waiting alone

somehow become safe? A child surely will not gain the skill she

needs without the opportunity to practice. Independent mobility,

like most things children learn, is a process. Serena is learning

to cross streets, for example. This year she is crossing quiet

streets alone; I do not need to walk beside her because she is well

on her way to mastering the skills of knowing when she is in the

middle of the street, walking purposefully, looking for the curb or

cutout, and stepping up quickly and efficiently. I do not feel she

has mastered listening to traffic on a busy corner, and we do not

allow her to cross in traffic alone. It is a process, and as she

gains skill we, her parents, will allow her increasing independence

and responsibility.
     The Americans with Disabilities Act, and Section 504 of the

Rehabilitation Act before it, were written to counter historical

attitudes of custodialism that were based on false perceptions of

what disability involves. There are things my daughter cannot do;

but please do not keep her from doing something she can do

perfectly well and with safety just because of someone's perception

that she cannot be safe because she is blind.
     The anti-discrimination laws do not allow exclusionary

policies to be made on the basis of a person's disability. The ADA

uses such language as �No qualified individual with a disability

shall, by reason of such disability, be excluded from participation

in or be denied the benefits of the services, programs, or

activities of a public entity, or be subjected to discrimination by

any such entity� (Title II: Sec. 202). The ADA also ensures that

�nothing in this Act shall be construed to require an individual

with a disability to accept an accommodation, aid, service,

opportunity, or benefit which such individual chooses not to

accept� (Title V: Sec. 501 d).
     We hope that the seeds of custodial attitudes will not be sown

or nourished by policies decided upon by the Madison School

District. We don't want Serena or those dealing with Serena to view

her as dependent and not capable. We hope you will help us in our

striving toward a self-sufficient, independent future for Serena.
Carol Castellano
                        WHY GO IT ALONE?

                        by Margie Watson
     Reprinted from the Fall, 1993, issue of the Wisconsin

Chronicle, the publication of the National Federation of the Blind

of Wisconsin:
     Several years ago my husband and I attended a seminar for

parents of blind children sponsored by the NFB of Wisconsin.

Federationists shared their insights and personal experiences, and

the supportive environment of that seminar affected us very

positively. In the years to follow, however, our family often went

it alone: resolving issues and addressing concerns as best we

could. Increasingly, we came to feel a great deal of frustration

that we were wasting our time reinventing the wheel. At this time

I renewed contact with Bonnie Peterson, President of the NFB of

Wisconsin. After I expressed my feelings of frustration and

aloneness to Bonnie, she strongly urged me to attend the 1993

Convention of the National Federation of the Blind to be held in

Dallas, Texas.
     When Bonnie learned that, because of limited finances, I would

be attending the convention alone for only a few days, she arranged

for financial assistance. This meant that our family was able to

attend the convention for the entire week. My husband Marc and I

were astounded at this unexpected generosity. We were very

interested to learn why Bonnie felt the convention was so essential

that she would commit limited resources to see that we all got

there. The answer became evident soon after we arrived in Dallas.
     Like many other parents we felt great pleasure and

satisfaction at the warm welcome we received. Certainly Bonnie had

meant for us to network so that we could help our four-year-old

daughter Katie learn good Braille and cane skills. To be sure, she

also wanted us to be alert to the harmful and commonly-held

attitude that blind children cannot be expected to keep up with and

compete with their sighted peers academically or socially. This

information and the availability of the National Federation of the

Blind as a resource empowered us and undeniably made the convention

extremely valuable for us. But I do not think that this was the

only reason, or even the most important reason, that Bonnie had

wanted us to attend. There was something more that was happening�a

kind of magic that is a part of the National Convention.
     This magic has to do with the philosophy of the National

Federation of the Blind. Throughout its literature the NFB repeats

its conviction that it is respectable to be blind; that blindness

is just one characteristic; and that when a person receives the

proper training and opportunity, blindness can be reduced to the

level of a mere nuisance, enabling him or her to compete on equal

terms with the sighted. As parents of a blind child, we said that

we believed this philosophy, but I'm not sure whether we really did

or whether we just desperately hoped that it was true. The

convention changed that. At the convention we saw that these

beliefs are undeniable realities.
     There were well over two thousand Federationists in attendance

at the National Convention. The sheer magnitude of this number made

it impossible to stereotype people. Day after day for a week we

observed confident, competent blind people successfully achieving

their goals. This experience was invaluable in shaping our attitude

toward blindness, and we now have no doubt that great things lie

ahead for Katie because we now truly share the philosophy of the

     The importance of an organization that promotes positive

attitudes toward blindness became readily apparent at the banquet

when the student scholarships were announced. The high aspirations

of these students underscored the importance of the NFB.

Federationists not only encourage students to dream big dreams; we

also see to it that these dreams become realities by being

successful role models, by promoting good attitudes toward

blindness, and by providing financial support to demonstrate the

confidence that students will attain these lofty goals.
     In 1994 the NFB National Convention will be held in Detroit,

and in 1995 it will be held in Chicago. This is a golden

opportunity for families who live in the Midwest. When you attend

a convention of the National Federation of the Blind, you can have

no doubt that the NFB is changing what it means to be blind. Come

and share in the magic. Being part of the NFB means that you and

your child will never again have to go it alone.

     Editor's Note: The following article is reprinted from the

April 29, 1990, issue of the Boston Sunday Globe Magazine. 
by D.C. Denison
     William Raeder, 54, is the managing director of the National

Braille Press. We spoke in his office on St. Stephen Street in

     Out of 500,000 legally blind people, only 80,000 read Braille.

Why so few? 
     There are a number of reasons. One is that a large percentage

of people become blind in their elder years and may not want to

learn how to read again. It takes a lot of motivation. Another

reason is that in our society, we don't believe that blind people

have the same right to literacy as sighted people do.
     Why do you say that? 
     When a sighted child goes to school, they are automatically

put on a literacy track. Reading and writing are a key part of

their early curricula. When a blind child goes to school, many of

those schools assume that tape recorders can do the job.
     What's wrong with tape recorders? 
     Well, suppose your child is entering first grade, and the

teacher gets up and says, �We have a wonderful announcement to

make: We don't have to put your child through the rigors of

learning how to read, because we've got everything on tape.� You

wouldn't be very happy. Why? Because there are some very important

differences between reading and listening.
     What are some of them? 
     Reading is a very active process: You're in contact, either

with your eyes or your fingers, with something that's totally

static. It's entirely within your own control, to move from word to

word. This is particularly important with reference materials and

nonfiction. Tape recordings work pretty well for fiction; you can

just sort of sit back and enjoy it, like a movie. But for the

materials that we need in order to conduct our lives�cookbooks, or

computer manuals, or the Harvard Business Review�you don't just sit

back and listen to them, you study. And that means that you want to

go back to the last phrase, and so on. You just don't have that

intimate control over a tape recorder.
     You said that the teaching of Braille is also a privacy issue.

     Well, how do you have privacy over your financial matters when

you have to have a bank statement read to you? Or how much privacy

do you have when you have to ask someone to read you information

about AIDS? A few years ago, when the government sent out AIDS

literature, we sent out the same information in Braille. And many

blind people were grateful. They never thought they would get the

kind of material that would let them cut through that privacy

     In the past, Braille publishers translated a lot of religious

     texts, didn't they? 
     Oh, yes. Braille has a number of abbreviations for words that

occur frequently, and many of these abbreviations were established

in the 19th century when Braille was developed. And if you look at

the words that are abbreviated��spirit,� �lord,� �behold��it tells

you something. By contrast, �plow,� �horse,� and �tractor� aren't

contracted. So Braille was basically the Bible and a lot of

religious writings. The attitude was: What does a blind person

need? Well, they need solace.
     What kinds of books are you publishing today?
     Books that give blind people the information they need to

carry out responsible functions in life. Right now we're raising

money to put Dr. Spock's Baby and Child Care into Braille. Sighted

people rush out to buy that book because they need the information.

So do blind people. And it's not available. We've also been

publishing more computer books. If you go to a bookstore, you'll

see shelves and shelves of computer books. How is the blind person

supposed to get that information?
     Are there any technical breakthroughs that you think are

     Well, there is a device called a paperless Braille display

that uses little metal or plastic pins that stick up through a

plate and allow you to read a line of Braille. Then you touch a

button, and it puts up the next line of Braille. The only problem

is that it can only display 22 characters, which is a very small

window to a page of information. So I think the next breakthrough

would be a full-page display that wasn't too expensive. Once you

get that, you could also use diagrams and maps. So that would be a

great breakthrough.
     What was the response when you started publishing Dr. Ruth

     Westheimer in the Braille Syndicated Columnists Weekly? 
     I suspect most people were in favor it, because Braille

readers are accustomed to having a very small amount of material.

The selection is very narrow. So even if someone is on the fence

about Dr. Ruth, they are in favor of having something different in

     I read that you also publish the Red Sox schedule every year. 
     Yes, but that's sort of a vestige of a bygone age. The Red Sox

are into the entertainment business. And the idea was: Blind people

need to be amused. So let's give them materials that will keep them

amused. I once heard someone use the term �companionative� to

describe the books and other materials designed to be simply

companions for blind people�to help them while away the time, to

make their lives a little less boring. That's from the age of pity

and charity. I'm not being critical of the Red Sox, or religious

literature, but we're trying to move beyond that, to the next

     What's the next stage? 
     Support and responsibility. That's the attitude that we're

trying to encourage. We assume that the blind person is mature,

intelligent, and responsible�equal in all three of those things to

their sighted counterparts. We also assume that they're responsible

for their own lives. We're talking about independence for blind

people, and the right to take a risk.
     What do you mean by the �right to take a risk�? 
     I mean that in American society, risk-taking is something that

we admire. Except if you're disabled. We admire risk-taking by our

athletes and our entrepreneurs, but we say to our disabled: �Don't

take a risk. Be careful. Take charity. Take welfare.� I'll give you

an example. Just this morning I was attending a press conference on

a dock in Charlestown. I had a portable cane, so I knew exactly

where the edge of the dock was. But it was obviously a new

experience for someone there to see a blind person functioning

independently on a dock, because she literally put her arm around

my back and informed me that she was going to prevent me from

falling into the drink. My feeling was that I was responsible for

myself, and if I wanted to risk falling in the water, that was my

decision. I didn't want anyone to take that responsibility. It's a

well-meaning prejudice, of course, but it's the kind of prejudice

that prevents society from providing blind people with certain very

important opportunities. 
                    LITERACY BEGINS AT HOME 

Family Involvement in the Home Literacy Experiences for 

Children with Visual Impairments
Christopher J. Craig, Ed.D.
     Editor's Note: Christopher Craig is a former NFB Scholarship

     As the father of three, I have had the opportunity and

pleasure to see two of my children emerge into literacy. The term

emergent literacy refers to a process which begins at birth and

continues until children begin to read and write conventionally.

That is, this process ends when children are able to gain meaning

from words either in print or Braille and use these written words

to communicate with moms, dads, siblings, friends, and teachers.
     In recent years, professionals have become very interested in

this process for children who are blind or have low vision. There

is some research which suggests these children begin kindergarten

with fewer concepts about written language than their peers with

normal vision. However, until recently, there has been virtually no

research on how this process might be similar or different for

children with visual impairments or how the family or home literacy

experiences for these children impact on literacy development.

Thanks to the help of the National Federation of the Blind, there

is now at least some information on which to build a program of

research in this area.
     In September of 1993, Barbara Cheadle and other members of the

Parents of Blind Children assisted me in disseminating survey

instruments developed, in part, by parents of children with visual

impairments to families throughout the United States. Through the

use of the toll-free number at the American Printing House for the

Blind, parents were able to call if they had questions or needed

help in completing the questionnaire. As a result of the efforts

made by Mrs. Cheadle and other members of the parents organization,

I was able to complete my doctoral dissertation and hopefully make

a contribution to the professional literature on educating blind

children. This article briefly summarizes some of the findings of

this research and suggests some ways in which families can improve

the home literacy experiences for children with visual impairments.
     The survey instrument was designed to collect information on

a variety of issues identified as important in the professional

emergent literacy. Respondents were asked to indicate whether they

believed their child would be primarily a print reader, primarily

a Braille reader, or both a print and Braille reader. These groups

formed the basis for comparison on issues such as reading aloud by

adults and siblings and participation in reading and writing

activities in the home. The extent to which learning to read and

write is regarded as a priority in the homes of children with

visual impairments and the expectations parents have toward their

children's literacy development were also examined.
     Reading Aloud
     Reading aloud to children has been identified as one of the

most important practices for fostering literacy development. While

the results of this research indicate the children who comprised

the print group were read to more frequently by adults in the home,

all three groups were read to an average of three to four times a

week. In addition, where there were siblings and other children

living in the home, the children who comprised the print/Braille

group were read to more frequently by siblings. However, the

respondents who indicated that their children would be primarily

print readers on average spent more time as a family reading and

talking about books per week.
     Family Outings
     Another practice which is believed to impact on literacy

development is making outings to places which help to build

understanding for stories. Visiting a zoo, farm, shopping mall, and

park are all examples of experiences which might be referenced in

children's books. Children who comprised the print, Braille, and

print/Braille groups were comparable on this item and made outings

to these places an average of one to two times a week.
     These groups were not, however, comparable in the frequency of

using the library or bookmobile. The children who comprised the

print and print/Braille groups used these resources more regularly

than the Braille group. In fact, the results suggest that many of

the children who comprised the Braille group had never visited a

library. This finding is not surprising given the interviews I

conducted with parents prior to the beginning of this study. Many

parents whose children read Braille stated �the library is simply

not a place for my child.�
     Independent Reading and Writing
     Differences were found between the print and Braille groups in

the amount and range of participation in reading and writing

activities in the home. For example, 75.6 percent of the

respondents who comprised the print group checked the item �chooses

books to read or to be read aloud.� By contrast, 35 percent of the

respondents from the Braille group checked this item. In addition,

65.6 percent of the print group checked the item �asks questions or

made comments about books during reading,� compared to 52 percent

of the Braille group. With regard to pointing to pictures during

reading, 75.6 percent of the respondents who made up the print

group checked this item. By contrast, 40.7 percent of the Braille

group checked the item �points to or examines pictures you can

feel.� Finally, 50 percent of the respondents who made up the print

group checked the item �retells stories or pretends to read using

print.� Only 41 percent of the Braille group indicated their

children exhibited comparable behaviors using Braille.
     Of course, these findings can be attributed in part to the

differences in the amount of material available in the home in the

chosen medium. While the majority of the respondents who comprised

the Braille group indicated that they had been provided early

literacy material in Braille such as touch books or shape books,

only 33 percent indicated that they or someone else in the home

read Braille. Thus, the children who comprised the Braille group

had less access to material in Braille and fewer opportunities to

observe others in the home reading Braille.
     With respect to writing activities in the home, 72.2 percent

of the respondents who comprised the print group indicated that

their children scribble with pencils, magic markers, and paint

brushes. By contrast, 27.6 percent of the Braille group checked the

item �scribbles in Braille using Braille writer or slate and stylus

(just makes dots).� In addition, 17.8 percent of the print group

checked the item �tells stories for others to write down in print.�
     Only 12 percent of the respondents who made up the Braille

group indicated their children engaged in comparable behaviors

using Braille. Finally, 44.4 percent of the print group checked the

item �copies letters or words in print,� compared to 15.4 percent

of the Braille group who have comparable behaviors using Braille.
     Priorities and Expectations
     Among the respondents who indicated that their children had no

additional disability such as a speech impairment or mental

retardation, learning to read and write was ranked as the highest

goal for their children, followed by learning self-help skills and

communicating effectively. By contrast, the respondents who

indicated their children had one or more additional disabilities

ranked learning self-help skills as the highest goal, followed by

communicating effectively and learning to read and write. Only half

of the respondents who have children with additional disabilities

indicated their children would some day learn to read and write

     1. The family and home is a key component in the literacy

development of young children with visual impairments who will use

print and those who will use Braille. While it may be next to

impossible to provide your child access to the same amount of

material in Braille that is readily available in print, try to

target a few places in the home and times during the daily routine

to increase your child's exposure to either print or Braille. For

example, designate an area in your house as a reading center or

corner. Be sure there is a variety of material available in either

print or Braille which is physically accessible. That is, the child

can easily pull books off the shelf or obtain them with little

effort. If a sibling generally begins the day by mindlessly eating

a bowl of Captain Crunch with his or her nose three inches away

from the box, make this a regular literacy event for your child

with the visual impairment. Label the box with Braille or encourage

the child with low vision to examine the box with an optical

device. Describe in detail what the box looks like, or have the

sibling read aloud the printed material. 
     2. Encourage �pretend� reading and writing. Whenever you

perform mundane tasks, such as paying the bills or reading

something for school or work, involve your child. Have him or her

pretend to do these tasks as well. If your child will be a Braille

reader, encourage scribbling using the Braille writer or slate and

stylus. Make over what your child produces in relation to what you

are doing.
     3. As part of the �On the Way to Literacy Project,� APH has

adapted several classic children's books with tactual

representations of visual concepts. These materials, as well as

other children's books which have been adapted tactually, can be

used to form the basis of a shared reading experience for you and

your child. Encourage your child to point to pictures and examine

them visually and/or tactually. When possible, maintain a high

standard for your child's comprehension and involvement in stories

you read aloud.
     4. Explore ways in which your child's early intervention

program or school can serve as a resource to you in your efforts to

promote home literacy experiences. The Individuals with

Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) specifies the responsibility of

school districts in providing assistive technology to students in

special programs in order to insure a free appropriate public

education. The IEP team can make determinations concerning the need

for providing equipment and material for use in the home. 
     5. Finally, if you believe your child will be a Braille

reader, by all means learn to read Braille. Grade I Braille can be

learned quickly and can be a fun activity for you and your family.

Involving the family in the learning of Braille or in the use of

optical devices creates opportunities for your child to learn that

reading and writing serves a functional or meaningful purpose in

your home and that your family values literacy in either print or

                       PRINT OR BRAILLE? 

                           I USE BOTH!

by Charles Brown
     Editor's Note: Yes, there really is a Charlie Brown. He has

practiced law for almost twenty-five years and currently serves as

assistant general counsel for the National Science Foundation. He

is also a member of the Board of Directors of the National

Federation of the Blind and the Federation's Virginia state

president. Charlie is married and the father of two sons, ages

twenty and sixteen.
     As a leader in the National Federation of the Blind, I am an

enthusiastic participant in our Braille literacy campaign. I know

how important Braille is to me, even though I have a good deal of

usable vision. �Low vision� blind kids are primary victims in

today's crisis in Braille literacy.
     Yes, Braille is important to me, but I also use print. I use

it a lot.
     Even totally blind folks need to know print. Print is all

around us�raised letters and numbers are on everything from kids'

blocks to restroom doors. Our language assumes a knowledge of the

print alphabet. Like sighted folks, blind folks need to know what

a T intersection is, or an S curve, or a U turn. Blind folks need

to know why O is used synonymously with the number 0 (in Braille

zero corresponds with the letter j). How does Zoro make the �mark

of the Z� on the chest of his victims?
     My totally blind friends routinely sign their names, make out

checks, and type letters to their friends. I strongly believe that

the schools must teach blind kids to read, write, and touch-type

(keyboard) print. Print is part of living in the world even if you

never see a word of it.
     Many blind people, like me, can see print. Does knowing

Braille mean I should ignore what I can see? Nonsense! My office is

full of print, and I use it everyday.
     I've always been able to read ordinary sized print with decent

lighting, provided I held it right up to my face. If I were in

school today, there would be a good chance that I would not be

taught Braille. My print skills would probably be judged as �good

enough.� But, thankfully, when I was starting school in the

fifties, my parents and the others responsible for my education

realized that I could not read print fast enough or long enough

(comfortably) to compete as a true equal with sighted folks my age.

So I also learned Braille; and I competed pretty well in school. I

did well enough to get through Harvard College and the Northwestern

University Law School�using mostly Braille, tape recordings,

readers, and my typing skills.
     Just after I graduated from law school, the closed circuit

television (CCTV) was invented. I got one of the first models and

have used CCTVs in my career as a lawyer ever since. With a CCTV,

I can read print faster, longer, and more comfortably than I could

before the CCTVs came along.
     I use the CCTV in my office to read all the papers and files

that come across my desk, to read cases and articles in books and

periodicals sitting in my bookcases, or form items checked out from

the law library. I also use the CCTV to fill in forms and prepare

hand-written notes.
     As so many other working Americans do these days, I constantly

use a computer. Some blind folks use speech output devices to gain

computer access, but I use screen enlargement software. I use my

computer to write legal opinions and memoranda. I use it to handle

my electronic mail and for so much more. When it became time for me

to become computer literate, I had a real leg-up on most of my

sighted colleagues. I was already an excellent touch-typist.
     A number of screen-enlargement software packages are on the

market, and they are mostly pretty inexpensive. Many members of the

NFB use screen enlargement programs. One of the great fringe

benefits of being a Federationist is the ability to check out each

other's packages and exchange demos. We talk about color contrasts,

letter shapes, cursors, Windows compatibility, etc. I need to know

what's out there in order to know what will work for me. It's

almost as if no two �partials� see alike. What works fine for me

may be frustrating or even useless to someone else.
     When I leave my office, Braille looms larger in my briefcase

and in my life. I use a Braille slate to take notes at meetings. It

is one of the fastest, least disruptive, and most efficient

note-taking devices I know�at least for me. I like to get

periodicals in Braille because, unlike print, I can read Braille

rapidly and comfortably anywhere; on the bus, for instance.
     I still use recorded materials, too. For example, I get the

American Bar Association Journal on tape (produced by the National

Association of Blind Lawyers, a Division of the NFB).
     Like most lawyers, I must often make prepared oral

presentations. For one thing, each year I teach about thirty

seminars on the Government ethics rules to employees of my agency.

I design the lesson plans, write the case studies and other

hand-outs, and conduct the classes. The participants get the

materials in print, but I Braille all of my materials, outlines,

quotations, slides, etc. This way I can have these items literally

at my fingertips. I cannot credibly do the essential teaching part

of my current job in print. I'd hate to think of trying to teach

hiding behind a CCTV, or holding papers up in front of my face. Eye

contact and rapport count so much in effective and convincing

teaching. That's why I use Braille.
     I use Braille outlines for my speeches (including any

quotations I'll be using). Braille is also my primary medium for

meeting agendas when I am chairing. I cannot afford to let a

struggle with print get in the way and distract from my messages.
     Sometimes I need to make a very formal address, and I write it

out completely in Braille. This way I can concentrate on my

delivery, without worrying about phrasing. I can focus on voice

modulation, gestures, and eye movements. Remember, lawyers are

supposed to be convincing.
     As a lawyer, church leader, and civic activist, I use Braille

when it is the best medium, and I use print when it works best.
     It all seems so obvious and second-nature to me that I am

shocked when some so-called experts talk so loosely about the

�choice� between print and Braille. Did learning Braille impair my

ability to learn and use print? Not at all! Some people even say

that learning print and Braille is comparable to learning two

languages. No way! It's all English. I can fully attest�as I recall

my struggles with four years of high school French�that learning

both Braille and print is nothing at all like learning two

     Parents often come to me looking for advice about the

education of their children. The advice I give is basically pretty

simple. Their children need, I tell them, to find alternative

techniques for reading, mobility, and the like. These techniques

need to be, on the whole, as effective as those used by sighted

peers�assuming they want their kids to be prepared to compete on

terms of equality. Braille and print are just two parts of the

total mix.
     Print or Braille? It's a silly question not worth asking, as

far as I am concerned. Most blind kids need to learn both.

by Carol Castellano
     It took my daughter Serena a long time to decide just what she

wanted to be when she grew up. Whereas my son was only four when he

decided that he would be a dinosaur scientist, it wasn't until she

was seven that Serena realized that her destiny in life was to be

a folksinger. Happily she played the chords to her favorite song,

�Michael Row the Boat Ashore,� on my guitar.
     Then came the Presidential campaign of 1992. Serena was eight.

She sat rapt before the television listening intently to the

speeches of both parties. After the summer's two national

conventions, she realized that it wasn't a folksinger that she

wanted to be after all�it was a folksinging Senator. By late fall,

having heard all three Presidential debates, Serena was going to be

     Her barrage of questions about how she could learn to be

President and conversations about what politicians do kept up for

so long that my husband and I were convinced she really might go

into politics when she was older.
     In the late spring of this year, Serena went out with her

father to pick early snow peas from the garden. Coming inside with

her basket of peas, she told me she was very interested in

gardening. �That's wonderful,� I replied. �You'll be a big help to

     Overnight Serena's interest must really have taken root,

because the next day she asked me if I thought the gardens at the

White House were too big for the President to tend, since the

President is such a busy person. �Yes,� I replied. �I'm sure

there's a staff of people who take care of the White House

gardens.� �Well then, I won't be a gardening President,� she told

me. �I'll just be a gardener.�
     The desire to be a gardener was still but a tender shoot when

Serena took a piano lesson�just a few weeks after picking those

peas�and realized it was a pianist she wanted to be!
     Serena is at such a wonderful stage of life! Interested in

everything, trying everything out, she sees the world as her plum,

ripe for the picking. She believes in herself, as we believe in

her. And since what people believe largely determines what they do,

it is critically important for parents of blind children (and other

adults in the child's life) to have positive beliefs about

blindness and what blind people can do.
     If we are told (in a journal article or by a teacher of the

blind, say) that blind children usually do not or cannot learn how

to do a certain task, and if we come to believe this, chances are

we will not give our child the experience or opportunity anyone

would need in order to do this task. And chances are the child

won't learn to do it. Imagine, though, if we�and our blind

children�were never told that blind people couldn't accomplish a

certain thing. Imagine what the results might be if everyone

believed that blind people could do anything they wanted to! Well,

I believe this�and attending NFB National Conventions has

solidified this belief for me.* It is this belief which guides the

way I bring up my daughter. 
     Sometimes in the literature I read the phrase �accepting the

child's blindness.� That word acceptance always causes me concern;

what different people mean by acceptance can be entirely opposite

things. To some, �accepting the child's blindness� means

accepting�or coming to believe�that because the child is blind,

there will be limits to what the child can do, limits to what he or

she can understand, limits to what he or she can learn. (They often

refer to these beliefs as �being realistic.�) It is easy to see

what the effects of that kind of thinking will be.
     When I consider the term �accepting the child's blindness,� I

think about accepting that the child is blind, learning and coming

to believe that blindness need not stop the child from achieving

what he or she wishes, and allowing, indeed insisting, that the

child learn the alternative techniques of blindness that will

enable him or her to achieve the desired results!
     Find a way, parents. Keep all the doors open. Glory in the

exhilarating feeling of watching a child look toward the future and

see only possibilities.
     *Post Script: At National Conventions of the National

Federation of the Blind there are opportunities to meet blind

people from many walks of life. My husband and I know personally or

have heard speak a blind high school teacher, college professor,

mathematician, scientist, car body mechanic, industrial arts

teacher, Foreign Service officer, engineer, a high-performance

engine builder, and a man who has sailed solo in races from San

Francisco to Hawaii. Attendance at National Conventions has enabled

us to see firsthand that blindness does not have to stop people

from achieving what they want to achieve. This knowledge gets

passed along to our daughter and, equally as important, to the

teachers and other professionals who work with her. Go to a

National Convention! It might turn out to be the most important

thing you do for your blind child's future.
by Lorraine Rovig, Director, JOB
     Do you need more input on how to succeed at a job search? When

you think about your job prospects, do you crave some positive

recharging of your emotional battery? Do you wish someone who knows

that BLIND PERSONS DO REGULAR JOBS would put on a job seminar and

do it for FREE? Okay, we will.�

                       will hold its FREE 
                   1995 NATIONAL JOB SEMINAR 
July 1, 1995 * Saturday * 1 - 4 p.m. 
Chicago Hilton And Towers
     This year, JOB is paying special attention to the growing

profession of customer service representative. Some such jobs pay

$5 per hour and some start at $11 per hour plus benefits. Speakers

from top training centers for blind adults along with employed

blind persons will share their tips for success in this growth

industry of the `90's. 
     That's not all. In its fast-moving three-hour program, JOB

will pack in blind speakers from many different lines of work.

Check out their tips for success. One agenda item features NFB

chapter members in a single chapter who, in just two months, have

helped SIX fellow members to find decent work!
     Come, meet your kind of people�folks who know how to get

things done. Ask questions of those who have been where you are and

succeeded. Network! Build up your personal think tank rolodex.

You'll meet good people to call on for help when you are back home

and get stuck. Bring copies of your resume. Keep your notebook

handy. Pick up valuable JOB publications at the seminar and on the

JOB table in the exhibit hall. Job seeker, professional job

developer, or employer�this seminar will help. 
     Are you a legally blind resident of the United States and

looking for work? Then you are eligible for a FREE subscription to

the only taped job magazine in the country, the JOB RECORDED

BULLETIN. To get started, call JOB at (800)  638-7518 (8 a.m. - 5

p.m. EST) and ask for a JOB Sample Pack. This package includes a

copy of last  year's national JOB seminar, a copy of the latest

bulletin (both on 2-track cassette), a JOB Application Form, a JOB

Publication Order Form, and a one-page explanation of the program.

Look and listen; borrow any ideas you hear from other blind

Americans that will fit your job search. We share what works.

(Counselors�you are eligible for a sample package, too. Please call

or write on your agency's letterhead.)
     In addition to its annual FREE seminar, JOB offers exciting

NETWORKING BREAKFASTS during NFB Convention Week (July 1 - 7). Each

breakfast is BYOB (Buy Your Own Breakfast), begins in the hotel

coffee shop at 7 a.m., and offers a friendly gathering of

like-minded people. Job seekers, job developers, employers,

parents, and others who want to �talk jobs� are welcome. JOB

breakfast coordinators take reservations, help keep the

conversation on topic, and help everyone get a chance to speak. For

information about how you may reserve a seat at any networking

breakfast, call JOB (800) 638-7518). 
                          PARENT POWER
     The following reports are from three of our newest parent

division affiliates of the National Organization of Parents of

Blind Children. For more information about the NOPBC and the

nearest state or regional chapter to you, contact:
     Mrs. Barbara Cheadle, President 

     National Organization of 

     Parents of Blind Children 

     1800 Johnson Street 
     Baltimore, Maryland 21230 

     (410) 747-3472.
     National Organization of Parents 

     of Blind Children 
     Goals and Objectives
     1. To create a climate of opportunity for blind children in

home and society.
     2. To provide information and support to parents of blind

     3. To facilitate the sharing of experiences and concerns among

parents of blind children.
     4. To develop and expand resources available to parents and

their children.
     5. To help parents of blind children gain perspective through

partnership and contact with blind adults.
     6. To function as an integral part of the National Federation

of the Blind in its ongoing effort to eliminate discrimination and

prejudice against the blind and to achieve for the blind security,

equality, and opportunity.
                      REPORT FROM NEBRASKA

by Joe Larson, President 

Nebraska Parents of Blind Children
     Two Nebraska families, Joe and Gail Larson and Mark and Carol

Smith, met for the first time when the NFB Convention convened last

July in Detroit, Michigan. Both couples are parents of blind

children. Angela Larson is fourteen years old, and Eric Smith is

two years old. After attending the parents seminar, the Smiths and

Larsons were convinced that Nebraska needed an NFB parents

division, too. We wanted to bring all the advantages of an NFB

parents group to our state�the positive philosophy, the networking

with parents, the competent blind role models, the political savvy

of the NFB, the information, the parent-to-parent support system,

and the commitment to creating better opportunities for our blind

     After the convention, we lost no time organizing our parent

chapter. On August 21, 1994, our chapter came into being at an

organizing meeting in Omaha, Nebraska. Joe Larson was elected

President; Carol Smith, First Vice President; and Kim Becker,

Secretary/Treasurer. The first order of business was a fund raiser.

Joe had successfully organized charity golf tournaments for other

organizations and offered to do one for the newly-formed Nebraska

Parents of Blind Children. The date was set for September 17, 1994.

With the help of two local radio stations in Omaha, advertising

spots were donated for the tournament. In a six-week period we

recruited eighty golfers to play in the tournament. All golfers

received a T-shirt with the NFB logo on it and other prizes. The

first-, second-, and third-place teams received trophies. Plans are

already underway for the second annual golf tournament, and the

radio stations are eager to help again!
     We have wasted no time helping blind children in Nebraska with

the money we have raised. At the annual White Cane Banquet on

November 5, sponsored by the Omaha chapter of the NFB, we presented

a Braille writer to a program that has thirteen blind children and

is in desperate need of equipment. 
     Through all our activities such as the golf tournament, which

was as much a public-education effort as it was a fund raiser, we

expect to have a positive impact on all blind children and their

parents across the entire state.
                    REPORT FROM WEST VIRGINIA

by Keri Stockton, President 

Parents of Blind Children Division 

of the NFB of West Virginia
     Three cheers for the new West Virginia parents division!

Although we are small, we have been quite active since we organized

in August, 1994, at our NFB state convention. Along with Nicolas

(my son who is blind) I have contacted parents, schools, and vision

teachers to let them know about our parents group and our

Children's Cane Bank. Nicholas and I have made several

presentations about blindness and blind children to groups such as

the Head Start teachers from a ten-county area. We also plan to

participate in a special Children's Day at the legislature this

     We are especially proud of our Children's White Cane Bank,

which was up and ready for business the day we organized. The bank

provides free white canes to blind children of all ages in West

Virginia. Nicolas started raising funds for the bank months ago. He

got a special piggy-bank  for the White Cane Bank. Soon, others

learned about his bank and began making contributions. Then he took

it with him to the  NFB Convention in Detroit. By that time the pig

was so fat he had to push it around in a doll-stroller. Thanks to

everyone who helped him, he raised enough to get the cane bank

started. We hope with this bank to help all blind children in West

Virginia to get the tool that will enable them to move and walk

easily, as free of the fear of falling as Nicolas.
     I guess everyone comes to the NFB by a different path, and it

was a fall that brought Nicolas and me to learn a better way.

Nicolas was not yet two years old when he learned how to descend

the stairs standing up. But one day he missed a step and fell. Down

he came, thump, thump, thump�screaming at each smack of his face on

the uncarpeted tread. When he reached the bottom, he cried for a

long time. He was so small and so upset; I held him for about an

hour. When he could talk again, he said, �Those stairs, those bad

stairs!� It was clear he was in pain. He said, �My head was just

like a drum; Bum, Bum, Bum.� At that point, I cried.
     I swore to him that day that if there was any way to help him

walk safely up and down stairs, and to help him not trip over

things he couldn't see on the floor, I would find it. I called the

NFB that day and spoke to Barbara Cheadle and learned about

children's canes. To make a long story short, Nicolas got one, and

he was the youngest child in West Virginia to use a cane. He has

enjoyed discovering his world in ways I've treasured watching. He

pulls a child-size shopping cart at the store, hikes, and camps�all

with his cane doing what he calls, �Tap-taps� out in front.
     What about the piggy? Well, it is collecting pennies (and

nickels and dimes and dollars) again, and who knows how many it

will collect this year. Penny by penny, and one member at a time,

both the piggy and the West Virginia Parents of Blind Children will

keep growing and providing new opportunities for the blind children

of West Virginia.

                      REPORT FROM WISCONSIN

by Margie Watson, President 

Parents of Blind Children of the  

NFB of Wisconsin
     The Parents of Blind Children Division of the NFB of Wisconsin

was formed in August, 1994. Margie Watson and her husband Marc (who

is Vice President) are parents of three children, the oldest of

whom is blind. Jodie Cowle, Secretary, is a long-time blind member

and leader of the NFB in our state. Diana Reinhardt, board member,

has a son who is blind. These leaders bring many talents and

experience to our new parents division.
     Our first events occurred during the NFB of Wisconsin Annual

Convention in October. On Friday night, parents gathered to discuss

cane travel issues and to view the �Kids with Canes� video. On

Saturday, the Parents Division invited Mrs. Mary Ann Damm,

President of the Volunteer Braillists and Tapists, Inc. of Madison,

to speak about the services the group offers. She described the

monthly library hour for blind children, a Braille library for

children and adults, and the annual holiday Braille book sale.

Parents and NFB members alike were excited to see all of the

Braille children's books on display.
     In November, our new cane bank presented 18-month-old Ziggy

Reinhardt with his first cane. In the coming weeks parents will be

gathering to write letters to government officials to gain their

support in obtaining Braille literacy provisions in the revision of

IDEA. We are also organizing a spring fund raiser to offer

financial aid to families attending the 1995 NFB Convention in

Chicago. Our parents division is off to a strong start.
                     REPORT FROM WASHINGTON

by Barbara Freeman, President 

Parents of Blind Children Division 

of the NFB of Washington 
     Mrs. Barbara Freeman gave the following report on October 15,

1994, at the annual luncheon meeting of the POBC of Washington:
     It has been a year since the blind children and parents of

this division formally joined the Federation family. Everyone here

should be proud of what we have accomplished. We have made great

strides both in educating ourselves and the community about

blindness and in supporting each other in our efforts to provide

all of our blind children�the gifted, the developmentally

threatened, and the multiply handicapped�with the best possible

opportunities to reach their highest potential.
     The adults of the affiliate have given every help in our

efforts to form a strong, vital organization. They have generously

provided funding. Individual members have given time and attention

to any child who needed a mentor, tutor, or advocate.
     We put on a successful parents seminar in March for twenty

families. Our parent division national president, Barbara Cheadle,

attended. Our student division put on a teen-age seminar at the

same time. The teen-agers used public transportation, cooked pizza,

and discussed the cost of special privilege.
     For the first time, State Services for the Blind hired someone

recommended and endorsed by the Federation affiliate to teach their

preschool conference. Joe Cutter, a pediatric orientation and

mobility specialist from New Jersey, put on an unusually positive

seminar on teaching mobility skills to preschoolers. Joe's workshop

was the best-attended preschool conference ever sponsored by State

Services for the Blind. Record numbers of parents and mobility

instructors from Washington, Oregon, and British Columbia, Canada,

attended. We touched the lives of hundreds of blind children with

that one seminar. 
     We held a family picnic in August that introduced more new

parents to our movement and gave us all a chance to talk with one

another and to admire each other's children.
     Most importantly, we have all grown more comfortable with

blindness, and we have advocated for our children. Every parent

here has already gone out of his or her own way to come here to

learn how to help his or her child. Our children can't wait for

society to come around and provide opportunities for them. We, the

parents, must see to it that we create those opportunities.
     Debbie Day sought out and obtained a private grant to take her

son Tim to our National Convention in Detroit, Michigan, this

summer. Carol Linhart took her whole family to the Detroit

Convention. Barbara Weller arranged for summer tutoring for her son

Steward and also organized our summer picnic. Ivy and Frank Jen

successfully advocated with their school district to continue their

son's placement in an integrated preschool. Melanie Savage has

convinced her school district to provide her multiply handicapped

daughter with physical and occupational therapy and pre-Braille

skills. (The school system had wanted to �warehouse� her at the age

of seven.) Jim and Barbara Call are in the process of negotiating

Braille instruction for their daughter Terra, who is losing her

sight. Denise Mackenstadt taught cane travel to a little girl from

Russia this spring. The girl, who was sponsored by Save the

Children, went blind while here and had but a short time before she

returned to Russia.
     Many others have also been creating opportunities for their

children. It is this will to provide the best for our children that

binds us together as a community and overrides differences of

religion and social class. This will to provide the best for

Washington's blind children also joins us in fraternity with the

adult blind members of this affiliate and the National Federation

of the Blind. Together we can provide all of our children with

hope, pride, and opportunity.
Camp Tuhsmeheta
     We have been asked to print the following announcement:
        Camp Tuhsmeheta is located on 297 acres of oak/maple

forests on the Morgan Mills chain of lakes. As a camp it is our

philosophy that all blind children deserve the opportunity to be

successful in the out-of-doors. They should have the chance to meet

other blind children, make new friends, learn new skills, and grow

in self-confidence. To this end we offer a week-long session for

elementary school age campers, a two-week session for junior high

campers, and a two-week adventure canoe trip in northern Michigan

for senior high campers. We also have week-long sessions for

families and deaf-blind or multiply impaired children and adults.

The registration fee is $25 and the cost per week is $175. We do

try to locate local service clubs to pick up the $175 costs. For

further information about the 1995 camp season contact Robert

Burnett, Executive Director, Camp Tuhsmeheta, P.O. Box 128, Indian

River, Michigan 49749; (616) 238-7003.
National Conference for Active Learning
     The following announcement comes from the Blind Children's

         Turning Latent Potential into Dynamic Ability for Infant,

Preschool, and Multi-impaired Blind and Visually Impaired Children,

June 19 - 23, 1995, Novi, Michigan, sponsored by the Blind

Children's Fund and the Penrickton Center for Blind Children,

featuring Lilli Nielsen, Ph.D. of Denmark.
        This Conference is designed to provide parents, teachers,

related professionals, and students with a foundation in Dr.

Nielsen's Active Learning Approach theory, but with emphasis on

actual practice, techniques, and hands-on demonstrations.

Participants will have the opportunity to learn firsthand about the

innovative and unique growth environments, such as �The Little

Room,� �The Resonance Board,� �The Bench,� and other equipment

created by Dr. Nielsen. Dr. Nielsen has presented her Active

Learning Philosophy in conferences throughout Europe, Australia,

South America, Africa, and the United States. For registration

information contact Blind Children's Fund, 2875 Northwind Drive,

Suite 211, East Lansing, Michigan 48823-5040; (517) 333-1725. A

discount is available for those who register prior to May 1, 1995.
Book for Children and Parents about Sex and Growing Up
     The National Braille Press has asked that we print the

following announcement about the availability of the book, Asking

Questions about Sex and Growing Up, by Joanna Cole: 
         This unique book uses a question-and-answer format to

offer straightforward information on subjects that often concern

and mystify young people: how girls' and boys' bodies differ and

how their bodies change during adolescence, what happens during

masturbation and sexual intercourse; preventing pregnancy, sex

abuse, and sexually-transmitted diseases. In a clear,

easy-to-understand text, a noted author of books for children

provides a reassuring blend of facts and practical guidance written

for the audience that needs it most. When kids learn about sex from

adults they trust, they learn values along with facts. Ages 8 and

up. Two small volumes in Braille, $4.95; and one volume in print

(w/postage), $7.25. Prepay to: National Braille Press, 88 St.

Stephen Street, Boston, Massachusetts 02115. (617) 266-6160.
Utah Student Division Formed
     From Insight, the newsletter of the Salt Lake chapter of the

NFB of Utah: 
          The National Federation of the Blind of Utah announces

the reorganization of its student division, the Utah Association of

Blind Students (UABS). Thirty-one people attended a back-to-school

party sponsored by UABS on September 24, 1994.  Members of UABS met

Ollie Cantos, President of the National Association of Blind

Students, and enjoyed goal ball, swimming, food, and dancing. The

students also elected new officers and established goals for the

upcoming year. Congratulations to the new officers of UABS: Nick

Schmitroth, President; Anitra Webber, Vice President; Marne West,

Secretary; Anna Wilkinson, Treasurer; Dan Cameron and Sylvia

Schultz, Board Members.