The Braille Monitor
Vol. 30, No. 9 October/November 1987
Kenneth Jernigan, Editor
Published in inkprint, in Braille, and on cassette by
The National Federation of the Blind
Marc Maurer, President
1800 Johnson Street
Baltimore, Maryland 21230
NFB Net BBS: (612) 696-1975
Web site address: http://stage.nfb.org
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National Federation of the Blind and sent to:
National Federation of the Blind
1800 Johnson Street
Baltimore, Maryland 21230
THE NATIONAL FEDERATION OF
THE BLIND IS NOT
SPEAKING FOR THE BLIND--IT IS THE BLIND SPEAKING FOR THEMSELVES
MAKE NO LITTLE PLANS
by Steve Benson
1987 SCHOLARSHIP PRESENTATIONS
SCHOLARSHIPS FOR 1988
THE NATIONAL FEDERATION OF THE BLIND CONVENTION 1987
by Barbara Pierce
by Marc Maurer
THE FIRST TIME
by Konnie and Kim Hoffman
by Kenneth Jernigan
BACK TO NOTRE DAME
by Marc Maurer
ON THE MYSTERIES OF REHABILITATION, AGENCY COMPLAINTS, AND
NAC'S STANDARD BEHAVIOR:
IF YOU CAN'T CONTROL, MISREPRESENT
by Marc Maurer
NO NAC FOR MISSISSIPPI INDUSTRIES FOR THE BLIND
KEITH DENTON DIES
by Kenneth Jernigan
NONE TOO PARTIAL
by Arie Gamliel
WHAT DO BLIND CONSUMERS WANT FROM A SPEECH SYNTHESIZER
NFB BRAILLE TRANSLATOR GOES TO MOSCOW
FLORENCE BLUME NAMED WOMAN OF THE YEAR
TAKE TIME FOR SUCCESS
by Tom Stevens
THE 1987 CONVENTION OF THE AMERICAN COUNCIL OF THE BLIND
by Homer and Marci Page
AWARDS FOR EDUCATORS
CONSTITUTION OF THE NATIONAL FEDERATION OF THE
BLIND AS AMENDED 1986
Copyright, National Federation of the Blind, Inc., 1987
The time has come to plan for the 1988 convention of the National Federation of the Blind. Phoenix in 1987 was one of the most successful meetings we have ever had, and 1988 will be even better.
We are going to Chicago. We have not been to the Windy City since 1975 when we met at the Palmer House, one of the finest hotels in the nation. Everyone who attended that 1975 convention was delighted with the setting and the arrangements.
Chicago in 1988 promises to be even more enjoyable than it was in 1975. The convention will be held at the Hyatt Regency Chicago on Michigan Avenue, close to the Lake and in the midst of one of the best shopping districts in the country. For that matter, the hotel is connected to the Illinois Center, which has an extensive underground shopping complex, complete with restaurants and stores of every kind, ranging from McDonald's to a superb bakery. Our hotel rates continue to be the envy of all who know us--singles, $24; doubles and twins, $28; triples, $30; and quads, $34. Taxes (currently 10.1 percent) are additional. There will be no charge for children in the same room with their parents.
The NFB of Illinois is planning an exciting array of tours and hospitality, and the program agenda will be vintage Federation. Make your reservations early. Also, remember that we need door prizes from state affiliates, local chapters, and individuals. Please remember that prizes should be relatively small in bulk and large in value. Cash, of course, is always acceptable. In any case we try to have no prize of less than $25 value. Drawings will occur constantly throughout the meetings, and the prizes will aggregate many thousands of dollars. In Phoenix in 1987 the grand prize, which was drawn at the banquet, was $1,500 in cash. We are not certain what Illinois will give for the grand prize in 1988, but you can be certain that it will be worthy of the occasion. If you have door prizes, bring them with you to the convention, or send them to: Mr. Tony Burda, Convention Prize Chairman, 720 South Euclid, Oak Park, Illinois 60302.
The displays of new technology, the meetings of special interest groups and divisions, the hospitality and renewal of friendships, the solid program items, and the general excitement of being where the action is and where the decisions are being made all join together to call the blind of the nation to Chicago in the summer of 1988. Come and be part of it.
For the past few years we have been handling convention reservations through the National Office, but for the 1988 convention (since there are enough rooms in the headquarters hotel to handle all of the delegates) you will make reservations directly with the hotel. There is a toll-free number. For all states except Nebraska, Hawaii, and Alaska the number is (800) 228-9000. For Nebraska the number is (800) 228-9001. For Alaska and Hawaii the number is (800) 228-9005. The phone number for the hotel (not toll-free) is (312) 565-1234. If you wish to make reservations by telex, the number is 484-582. If you wish to write for reservations, address correspondence to: NFB Convention Reservations, Hyatt Regency Chicago, Illinois Center, 151 East Wacker Drive, Chicago, Illinois 60601.
There is every indication that we will break all attendance figures at the 1988 convention. Therefore, even though we have a block of 1,125 rooms, you should not delay making reservations. Our block of rooms will be held until Tuesday, June 7, 1988. After that time reservations will be accepted on a space-available basis. Room deposits are not required unless you wish to guarantee that your room will be held for arrival after six o'clock in the evening, in which case one night's room deposit plus tax must be sent, or a credit card number must be given. If reservations are canceled prior to six o'clock p.m. of the arrival date, any deposit which has been made will be returned, but you should be sure to get a cancellation number from the hotel for future reference. Checks for deposit to guarantee rooms should be made payable to: Hyatt Regency Chicago.
A few rooms (on a first come first serve basis) have refrigerators. These are parlor rooms with fold-away beds. If you want one, request it, but keep in mind that you will probably not get it unless you are one of the very first to ask. There is always an inducement to make reservations early.
When making reservations be sure to include the following information: a) that you are attending the National Federation of the Blind convention; b) name, address, and telephone number; c) arrival date; d) departure date; e) type of room requested: single (one person in a room), double (two people, one bed in the room), twin (two people, two beds in room), triple (three persons, two beds in room), or quad (four persons, two beds in room); f) names of roommates and arrival and departure dates for each.
Even though the 1988 convention is still several months in the future, the enthusiasm and excitement are building. Come and be part of the largest, most dynamic meeting of blind people ever to be held anywhere at any time. See you in Chicago in 1988.
by Steve Benson
(As Federationists know, Steve Benson is President of the National Federation of the Blind of Illinois.)
"Make no little plans; they have no magic to stir men's blood."
The words of Daniel Burnham, planner of Chicago's magnificent lake front, aptly describe what the Illinois affiliate has in store as host of the 1988 national convention. Chicago (crossroads of the world, convention host to millions, home of three of the five tallest buildings of the world, city of three and a half million souls from every corner of the globe) will stage a performance unmatched in our convention history.
The Chicago Hyatt Regency hotel stands almost equidistant from the city's Magnificent Mile (North Michigan Avenue), site of the world's most exclusive retailers, and State Street, anchored by Marshall Field's stately block square nine-story shopping extravaganza, the Palmer House (aristocrat of hotels), and C. D. Peacock, an exquisite retailer of the finest gems, precious metals, crystal, pewter, and other extraordinary items. Peacock is the oldest continuous business in Chicago, celebrating its 150th anniversary.
Chicago, though only 154 years old, has a rich and flamboyant history in commerce, politics, the fine arts, the performing arts, education, architecture, broadcasting, transportation, manufacturing, and world trade. Chicago has long been described as a city of ethnic neighborhoods and, indeed, it is. In those neighborhoods is an amazing variety of fine restaurants, reasonably priced. As any city, Chicago is a living, growing, changing entity. It is an exciting place to live, to work, and to visit. It is where you will want to be. It is where you ought to be from July 2 through July 9, 1988. You will undoubtedly want to come early and stay late, though.
The Illinois affiliate has made no "little plans" in preparation for next summer. There will be a variety of affordable tours to satisfy almost any interest or curiosity in and about Chicago. One of the tours will be to the Museum of Broadcast Communication. Many programs in radio and television's "golden age" originated in Chicago. This unique museum makes classic programs accessible to the visitor. It truly is a fascinating place. That is only one tour. Many others are planned, details of which will appear in future Monitors.
On Sunday, July 3, the Chicago Symphony, perhaps the finest orchestra in the world, will give a free concert in celebration of Independence Day and in conjunction with "Taste of Chicago," where one can enjoy samples of the city's finest restaurant presentations. This annual event is just five blocks from the Chicago Hyatt Regency. While the food is not free, the Sunday night concert is.
Evening hospitality will begin Saturday, July 2, with a "50's Sock Hop," featuring a very special disc jockey. Other special entertainments are planned that will make your stay in the Windy City memorable. Tours, hospitality, and special events will, of course, be kept in perspective. After all, the primary reason for being at the Chicago Hyatt Regency will be the 48th annual convention of the National Federation of the Blind.
The Chicago Hyatt is a worthy host. For the first time since 1975 our national convention will be held under one roof. The Chicago Hyatt (with its more than 2,200 rooms and suites, five restaurants, two huge ballrooms, and dozens of spacious smaller meeting rooms) is truly an impressive setting. The exhibit hall in this hotel has the capacity to house exhibits of up to 70,000 square feet. It has two towers, joined by a concourse one level below the street, and a skyway, one level above the street. Stetson Drive, which separates the towers, is almost a private road.
The Chicago Hyatt has more than impressive physical statistics.
It has unexcelled warmth and hospitality. The NFB of Illinois's 19th annual convention was held at the Hyatt on Labor Day weekend. Not one of us ever passed a hotel staff person without hearing a genuinely friendly greeting. More important, the hotel staff didn't try to be too helpful. They kept their distance unless asked for help.
One more note about the hotel. Our annual banquet was simply the best this writer has ever tasted. The food was perfectly prepared, flawlessly served, and just so good it was fun. We in Illinois are so pleased with the hotel's dress rehearsal that we can't find enough words of praise.
We are looking forward to hosting three thousand registered Federationists. All roads and airways lead to Chicago. Get your hotel reservations in early. Come to Chicago in 1988. There's lots of room. Bring several friends. We are looking forward to meeting you.
On July 2, 1987, at the annual banquet of the convention of the National Federation of the Blind in Phoenix, Arizona, twenty-six scholarships were awarded. The Master of Ceremonies for the banquet was Donald Capps, President of the National Federation of the Blind of South Carolina and one of the long- time leaders of the national movement. He said: "The National Federation of the Blind makes a very serious commitment toward the education of the blind of this nation. Peggy Pinder, our Second Vice President, is the Chairperson of the Scholarship Committee. At this time it is my pleasure to present to you Peggy Pinder."
Miss Pinder then came to the microphone and said: "Would all scholarship winners please come forward. The National Federation of the Blind is, above all, an organization of commitment. We are committed to understanding the status of blind people today; committed to ending discriminatory treatment against blind people; committed to creating opportunity for all blind people; committed, as the airlines will one day learn, to ending their mistreatment of the blind; and committed to one another. Tonight we in the National Federation of the Blind symbolize our commitment to our fellow blind men and women by awarding twenty- six scholarships.
"This year the Federation received over 400 applications from blind men and women throughout the country, who are attending or planning to attend institutions of higher learning, and tonight we will give to twenty-six (the twenty-six finest blind scholars in the United States in 1987) scholarships amounting to $68,000. In addition, each of these twenty-six outstanding scholars will be given a National Federation of the Blind Convention Scholarship. This means that each of the winners has come to the convention at the expense of the Federation. From all of this, you can see the tangible form of the commitment our organization is prepared to make to the advancement of educational opportunities for the blind--almost $100,000 in this year alone.
"It is now my pleasure to introduce to you the twenty-six winners. We have a number of scholarship categories, and I will read each category by name, and then in each category tell you who are the winners.
"The first category is the National Federation of the Blind Merit Scholarship. Eight of these scholarships (each in the amount of $1,800) will be given.
"Cherie Heppe, Connecticut. Cherie will be entering the Los Angeles College of Chiropractic in the fall, where she intends to study for a degree in Chiropractic medicine, and then to practice her chosen profession.
"Jonathan Jakenta, California. Jonathan will be a junior in the fall at San Diego City College in California, where is he is working towards a bachelor's degree in psychology. He intends to continue his studies to earn a medical degree and one day be a psychiatrist.
"Mark J. Kalashian, Massachusetts.
Mark will be a freshman in the fall at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, where he will be studying a variety of languages. He plans ultimately to have a career in journalism or in the teaching of languages.
"Ruperto J. Moreno, Florida. Ruperto is a student at Florida State University at Tallahassee, where he is studying a number of foreign languages. Incidentally, he speaks quite a few of them. Ruperto intends to have a career in the teaching of languages.
"David H. Plankinton, Oregon. David will be a sophomore in the fall at Clackamas Community College in Oregon City, Oregon, where he is studying for a degree in electrical engineering. He intends to have a career in that field.
"Linda F. Ripley, West Virginia. Linda is going back to school to earn a master's degree in history at the University of Maryland. She intends to emphasize women's studies and ultimately to find a career in university teaching.
"Arleen Sethi, New Jersey. Arleen will be a freshman this fall at the Wharton School of Business, where she intends to study business. She is planning a career in international trading. "Calvin J. Lee, Jr., Alabama. Calvin will be a junior in the fall at Auburn University, where he is studying computer science.
He plans a career in computer engineering.
"We have one final $1,800 National Federation of the Blind Merit Scholarship. This special NFB Merit Scholarship was endowed by warm family friends of Stephen and Peg Benson, a family by the name of Nudd. This scholarship is being awarded to Beth Anne Hatch of Maine. Beth will be a junior in the fall at St. Michael's College in Vermont, where she is studying journalism. She intends to have a career in journalism and has a particular interest in broadcasting.
"The next scholarship has special significance. It has been endowed in memory of a person who has meant a very great deal to someone in this organization. It is the Francis Urbanek Memorial Scholarship in the amount of $1,800. It is being given to Michael P. Dante of Maryland. Michael will be a freshman at Johns Hopkins University in the fall, where he will study towards a bachelor's degree in mathematics. He intends to have a career in corporate finance or in law.
"Next we have the Melva T. Owen Scholarship in the amount of $1,800. This scholarship, at the request of the donor, is restricted to an undergraduate. It is being given to Christine Marie Faltz of New York. Christine will be a freshman at Princeton University in the fall, where she intends to study English. She plans a career in journalism.
"The next scholarship is for $2,000. It is being given in memory of the father of Catherine Horn Randall--who, as you know, is one of the leaders of the National Federation of the Blind of Illinois and is in the room tonight. This is the Frank Walton Horn Memorial Scholarship. It is being given to Zachary Shore of Pennsylvania. Zach will be a sophomore in the fall at the University of Pennsylvania, where he is majoring in Slavic studies. He plans a career in government service.
"Next, in the amount of $2,500, we have the Howard Brown Rickard Scholarship, the most longstanding scholarship which we give. It was endowed by a man who wanted to encourage achievement by the blind in the hard sciences. It goes this year to Eric Lee DeWald of Hawaii. Eric will be a freshman in the fall at the University of Hawaii in Honolulu, where he will study for a degree in electrical engineering. He intends to make his career in that field.
"The next two scholarships (in the amount of $2,500) each are Hermione Grant Calhoun Scholarships. These scholarships were endowed by Dr. Isabelle Grant, a long-time member of this organization, who wished to encourage high achievement by blind women. Consequently, only women are considered for these scholarships.
"The first winner is Suzanne Ament of Indiana. Suzanne is a Ph.D. candidate at Indiana University at Bloomington, where she is studying Russian history. She intends to become a university professor and a consultant in her chosen field.
"The second winner is Kathy Nimmer of Indiana. Kathy will be a freshman in the fall at Trinity College in Illinois, where she will study English. She plans a career in special education.
Next (in the amount of $2,500 each) we have seven National Federation of the Blind Merit Scholarships. The winners are:
"Phillip Eric Duffy, Ohio. Eric will be senior in the fall at Otterbein College in Columbus, Ohio, where he is studying for a degree in political science and sociology. Eric intends to have a career in politics and government service.
"John Carl Fritz, Wisconsin. John will be a senior in the fall at the University of Wisconsin in Platteville, where he is studying toward a bachelor's degree in animal science with an emphasis on computers. John intends to have a career in dairy management with an emphasis on the computerizing of production.
"Marla Jean Herron, Oklahoma. Marla will be a senior in the fall at Oklahoma State University at Stillwater, where she is studying toward a joint degree in French and English. She intends to become a university professor.
"Lynn D. Mattioli, Pennsylvania. Lynn will be a freshman in the fall at Albright College in Pennsylvania, where she will study toward a bachelor's degree in home economics. She intends to work in the field of nutrition and dietetics.
"Joel Shin, New Jersey. Joel will be a freshman at Princeton University in the fall, where he intends to study for a degree in physics. His aspiration is to find a career in research science, and he will tell you if you ask him that he is going to win a Nobel Prize some day.
"Brian C. Smith, Georgia. Brian will be a sophomore in the fall at Georgia State University, where he is studying toward a degree in business administration. He intends to earn a graduate degree and find for himself a career in personnel management.
"Jay F. Yi, California. Jay will be a Ph.D. candidate in the fall at Stanford University, where he will study towards a degree in applied mathematics. He will make for himself a career (you can count on it) in biostatistics.
"Next (in the amount of $3,000 each) we have three National Federation of the Blind Merit Scholarships. The winners are:
"Thomas Arnold Ley, Louisiana. Tom will be a senior in the fall at Louisiana Tech in Ruston, where he is studying toward a degree in mathematics and physics. He is planning a career in science and intends to teach to others the subjects he himself loves.
"Susan Emily Qashu, Arizona. Susan will be a junior this fall at Smith College in Massachusetts, where she is working toward a joint degree in mathematics and Latin American studies. Susan intends to become a researcher in the area of education and mathematics.
"Laurence L. Smith, Idaho. Laurence will be a senior in the fall at Boise State University, where he is studying for a degree in social work. He plans a career in counseling, possibly in alcohol or drug dependency counseling.
"You have now met twenty-five of the twenty-six winners. The final scholarship (the American Brotherhood for the Blind, Ezra Davis Scholarship) is in the amount of $10,000. I will tell you the name of the winner, then I will tell you something about her.
She has not only won the most valuable scholarship we have to give this year but also the opportunity to speak briefly to the entire convention. The winner is Maria Ernestina Morais of California. This is her fifth straight National Federation of the Blind convention. This year Ernie will be a junior at California State University at Fresno, where she is studying towards a degree in social work. Ernie intends to become a genetic counselor. Now, for a few words, here is our $10,000 scholarship winner, Ernie Morais."
Miss Morais came to the microphone and said: "This is such an honor that I don't know how to describe how I feel right now, but I would like to thank Peggy Pinder and the entire Scholarship Committee, and especially the fabulous mentors I've had this week. The only regret that I have tonight is that Muzzy Marcelino couldn't be here with us. I don't know what else to say except thank you--and I'll do my best to promote the philosophy of the Federation. I would also like to thank Dr. Jernigan and President Maurer for everything they have done for me and for all blind people in this country. I thank all of you very much."
Miss Pinder returned to the microphone and said: "I would like to close by addressing just a few words to you scholarship winners. You have shown commitment by the record you have compiled thus far. Each of you has shown a commitment to hard work, a commitment to achievement, and a commitment to living full lives. This week we have demonstrated to you our commitment, by giving to you the greatest gift we in the Federation have to give--the National Federation of the Blind. During this week we have met with you, laughed with you, listened to you, partied with you, and worked hard beside you. Most important of all, we have given you our encouragement, our support, and our love. Yes, we have given you scholarships, and with them we hope that you will continue the achievement you have already demonstrated. But we have also given you the Federation. Through the Federation you can help us change the world. We ask you to receive this gift and use it as we have--with hard work and with the intention of achieving our goals. Together you and we can translate our commitment into a better life for the blind. Congratulations, winners!"
This segment of the banquet program was concluded by Mr. Capps, who said: "Thank you, Peggy Pinder, and congratulations to all of the scholarship winners. They represent some of the nation's finest, and they are tomorrow's leaders of the NFB."
In recent years the National Federation of the Blind has devoted substantial effort and resources to its scholarship program. This has been done in the belief that if the blind are to achieve first-class status in society, they must have the opportunity to compete with others on terms of equality. This is another way of saying that the blind must be able to attend institutions of higher learning. To that end we continue to strengthen our scholarship program.
In 1988 twenty-five outstanding blind students will receive scholarships from the Federation, totaling $67,000 in cash plus payment of their expenses to the National Federation of the Blind convention in Chicago during early July. Ten blind scholars will receive awards of $1,800; one will receive an award of $2,000; ten will receive awards of $2,500; three will receive awards of $4,000; and one blind student (the one judged to be the most outstanding blind scholar in the nation) will receive a $10,000 scholarship award.
The Federation's commitment to excellence and achievement is longstanding. We have made this commitment real through our many Federation programs and projects. No Federation activity spotlights excellence and achievement more than our scholarship program, through which we honor and encourage America's distinguished blind students.
The Scholarship Committee for 1988 (their terms expire December 31, 1988) consists of the following thirty people: Peggy Pinder, Iowa, Chairman; Adrienne Asch, New York; Jan Bailey, Minnesota; Michael Baillif, California; Steve Benson, Illinois; Jacquilyn Billey, Connecticut; Suzanne Bridges, Louisiana; Charles Brown, Virginia; Tami Dodd, Michigan; Joanne Fernandes, Louisiana; Priscilla Ferris, Massachusetts; Norman Gardner, Idaho; Sharon Gold, California; Charles Hallenbeck, Kansas; Allen Harris, Michigan; David Hyde, Oregon; Christopher Kuczynski, Pennsylvania; Melody Lindsey, Florida; Homer Page, Colorado; Barbara Pierce, Ohio; Mary Ellen Reihing, Maryland; Eileen Rivera, Pennsylvania; David Robinson, Nebraska; Fred Schroeder, New Mexico; Karl Smith, Utah; Larry Streeter, Virginia; David Ticchi, Massachusetts; Ramona Walhof, Idaho; and Gary Wunder, Missouri.
Our Scholarship Application Form (copy reproduced at the end of this article) consists of a single legal-sized page with printing on both sides. We are making an initial printing of 40,000 of these forms. They will be sent to every college and university in the country, every agency doing work with the blind, every congressional office, every NFB state president, and every member of the Scholarship Committee. They will also be sent to anyone requesting them. These are worthwhile scholarships, which will be of real assistance to blind students. The news about our scholarship program should be disseminated as widely as possible.
To receive forms or to obtain further information, contact Peggy Pinder, Chairman, National Federation of the Blind Scholarship Committee, 814 - 4th Avenue, Suite 200, Grinnell, Iowa 50112; phone (515) 236-3366. Forms can also be had by writing to: Scholarships, National Federation of the Blind, 1800 Johnson Street, Baltimore, Maryland 21230. Here is the Scholarship Form:
National Federation of the Blind 1988 Scholarship Program
Each year at its national convention in July the National Federation of the Blind gives to legally blind persons pursuing or planning to pursue a full- time post-secondary course of study a broad array of scholarships. The following scholarships will be given at the national convention in 1988:
1. Ezra Davis Memorial Scholarship; $10,000; endowed by Ezra Davis and given by the American Brotherhood for the Blind, a nonprofit organization which works to assist blind persons. Applicants must be studying (or planning to study) at the post-secondary level. No restriction as to gender, graduate or undergraduate level, or field of study.
2. National Federation of the Blind Merit Scholarships; eighteen to be given; three for $4,000; seven for $2,500; and eight for $1,800. Applicants must be studying (or planning to study) at the post-secondary level. No restriction as to gender, graduate or undergraduate level, or field of study.
3. Howard Brown Rickard Scholarships; two to be given, each for $2,500. Applicants must be studying (or planning to study) law, medicine, engineering, architecture, or the natural sciences. No restriction as to gender or graduate or undergraduate level.
4. Hermione Grant Calhoun Scholarship; $2,500. Dr. Isabelle Grant endowed this scholarship in memory of her daughter. Limited to female students. May be studying (or planning to study) at either graduate or undergraduate level.
5. Frank Walton Horn Memorial Scholarship; $2,000; given by Mr. and Mrs. Charles E. Barnum, the mother and stepfather of Catherine Horn Randall. No restriction as to gender, graduate or undergraduate level, or field of study, but preference will be given to those studying architecture or engineering.
6. Melva T. Owen Memorial Scholarship; $1,800; given in memory of Melva T. Owen, who was widely known and loved among the blind. She and her husband Charles Owen became acquainted with increasing numbers of blind people through their work in the "Voicepondence" Club. Charles Owen says: "There shall be no limitation as to field of study, except that it shall be directed towards attaining financial independence and shall exclude religion and those seeking only to further general or cultural education."
7. The Francis Urbanek Memorial Scholarship; $1,800; given by Joe Urbanek in memory of his brother Francis, who died in January, 1986, at age eighteen; limited to blind high school graduates entering their freshman year of college.
Criteria: All scholarships are awarded on the basis of academic excellence, service to the community, and financial need.
Membership: The National Federation of the Blind is an organization dedicated to creating opportunity for all blind persons. Recipients of Federation scholarships need not be members of the National Federation of the Blind.
Deadline: Applications for National Federation of the Blind scholarships must be received by March 31 of the year in which the scholarship is to be awarded.
Making Application: To apply for National Federation of the Blind scholarships, complete and return the application on the reverse side of this sheet. Multiple applications are unnecessary. Each applicant will be considered for all scholarships for which he or she qualifies. Please provide all the applicable information requested and attach to the application all the additional documents requested on the application. Send the application to: Miss Peggy Pinder, Chairman, National Federation of the Blind Scholarship Committee, 814 - 4th Avenue, Suite 200, Grinnell, Iowa 50112; (515) 236-3366.
Reapplication: We have often awarded scholarships to persons applying for the second or third time. Even if previously submitted, current applications must be submitted to be considered for current scholarships. Those who have previously applied are encouraged to apply again.
Winners: The Scholarship Committee reviews all applications and selects the scholarship winners. These winners, the same number as there are scholarships to award, will be notified of their selection by June 1 and will be brought to the National Federation of the Blind convention in July at Federation expense.
This is in addition to the scholarship grant. The winners are America's finest blind students.
The National Federation of the Blind convention is the largest gathering of blind persons (more than 2,000) to occur anywhere in the nation each year. You will be able to meet other blind students and exchange information and ideas. You will also be able to meet and talk with blind people who are successfully functioning in your chosen profession or occupation. Federal officials, members of Congress, and the makers and distributors of new technology attend Federation conventions. Above all, a broad cross section of the most active segment of the blind population of the United States will be present to discuss common problems and plan for concerted action. It is an interesting and exciting week.
Awards: The day before the convention banquet the Scholarship Committee will meet to determine which winners will receive which scholarships. The scholarship awards will be made during the banquet.
National Federation of the Blind Scholarship Application Form
Read reverse side of form for instructions and explanation. Form may be photocopied but only if reverse side is also included.
To apply for a scholarship, complete this application form, and mail completed application and attachments to: Miss Peggy Pinder, Chairman, National Federation of the Blind Scholarship Committee, 814 - 4th Avenue, Suite 200, Grinnell, Iowa 50112. Form must be received by March 31, 1988.
Name (please include any maiden or other names by which you have been known):
Date of birth:
School phone number:
Home phone number:
Institution being attended in spring semester, 1988, with class standing (freshman, senior, etc.):
Cumulative grade point at this institution:
Institution to be attended in fall of 1988, with class standing. Send by separate letter if admitted to school after submitting completed application:
List all post-secondary institutions attended with highest class standing attained and cumulative grade point average:
High school attended and cumulative grade point:
State your major:
Awards and honors (attach list if necessary):
Community service (attach list if necessary):
Attach following documents to completed application:
1. Send us a letter: What schools have you attended? What school do you plan to attend during coming year? What honors have you achieved? What have you done to deal with situations involving your blindness? What are you like as a person? What are your goals and aspirations? How will the scholarship help you?
2. Send two letters of recommendation.
3. Provide current transcript from institution now attending. Transcripts from all other post-secondary institutions attended. If you have not yet attended such institution or have not completed one year of study, send high school transcript.
4. Send a letter from a state officer of the National Federation of the Blind evidencing the fact that you have discussed your scholarship application with that officer. Preferable but not mandatory that you discuss application with state Federation President. President's address provided upon request.
by Barbara Pierce
Nearly two thousand members of the National Federation of the Blind gathered in Phoenix, Arizona, for the forty-seventh annual convention held June 27 through July 4. The superlatives that run through every convention summary come to mind when recalling this year's gathering. Those who attended will remember the beauty and comfort of the Hyatt Regency, headquarters hotel, and the Heritage and San Carlos, overflow hotels; the spacious efficiency of the Civic Plaza, site of the convention sessions and the cavernous exhibition hall; the warmth of the welcome given us by Ruth Swenson, President of the NFB of Arizona, as well as the Cactus Kid and the whole Arizona delegation; beautiful sunshine; excellent restaurants; and, most of all, the love and fellowship of the Federation, friendships made and strengthened and inspiration given and received. The items of the convention agenda were particularly timely and interesting this year. A U.S. Senator, two members of the House of Representatives, the Governor of Ario the blind came to speak and listen to us, the blind of the nation.
Yet, this convention was more than the sum of these things. It was a watershed of sorts. Last year in Kansas City, Marc Maurer was elected President of the National Federation of the Blind. This convention marked the first time many of us had seen him conducting our business and serving as our President. He chaired the convention sessions with vigor and fairness. Elsewhere in this issue you will read both the Presidential Report and the Banquet address that he delivered. Electricity and joy surged through the convention hall at the close of each of these two addresses as the delegates recognized that once more the organization had elected a President who can lead decisively and articulate its deepest hopes and dreams.
Saturday, June 27, saw the beginning of the preconvention activities. Many people took advantage of a day-long seminar on cane travel. Many more attended the annual seminar for parents and educators of blind children. This year's program focused on both blind children and blind parents, and the presenters were insightful and inspiring. Simultaneous with the parents' seminar was a seminar for blind and sighted children. Judging from the enthusiasm with which the youngsters sang about their day when they were invited to perform from the convention dais later in the week, they had a wonderful time learning that they are not alone in their experience of blindness.
By Sunday, with two days to go until the first convention session, the hotels were packed, elevators were jammed, and hundreds of people an hour were pouring through our streamlined registration tables. By noon more than a thousand had registered and gone on into an exhibit hall crammed with displays and demonstrations. Throughout the afternoon and evening thirteen committees and divisions conducted business as many delegates raced from meeting to meeting in an attempt to sample as much as possible. The Resolutions Committee, according to tradition, met for several hours Sunday afternoon with more than a hundred people in the audience. The committee considered twenty-two resolutions, one of which was subsequently withdrawn. The texts of the resolutions adopted by the convention are printed elsewhere in this issue.
The Board of Directors conducted its annual preconvention meeting Monday morning, and hundreds of Federationists took advantage of the air-conditioned shuttle buses to observe the meeting. Many more braved the blazing sun and walked the three blocks to the Civic Plaza. During the meeting this year's twenty-six scholarship winners were introduced to the membership.
Each student was awarded an expense-paid trip to the convention in addition to an academic scholarship. These ranged in value from $1800 to $10,000. The recruiters who signed up fifty or more people as NFB Associates were presented with their red, white, and blue Associate ribbons. The winners in the Associates contest were Terry Dingus, from Arizona; Tom Stevens, from Missouri; Sandy Sanderson, from Alaska; Frank Lee, from Alabama; Bill Isaacs, from Illinois; Oral Jackson, from Pennsylvania; and Russell Anderson, from Indiana. Each of these people won $100 except that Bill Isaacs's name was drawn twice, and since every recruiter name was placed in the hat once for each Associate recruited, Bill, of course, won $200. Doug Boone, of Oregon, who, by the way, had recruited only one Associate, won $400, and Verla Kirsh of Iowa won the grand prize of $600. The Board voted to conduct an identical contest next year to encourage Associates recruitment.
Monday afternoon and evening were crammed with more committee and division meetings and seminars, nineteen in all. The evening ended with hospitality and the annual Celebrity Auction to raise funds for the Merchants' Division.
Tuesday's convention session opened with the roll call of states, in which all fifty states and the District of Columbia were present. In the afternoon Mr. Maurer gave the Presidential Report. Five Federationists then spoke about their jobs, reminding everyone that the blind really are competing in diverse and interesting fields. The panelists were Judy Rasmussen, Investigator, Office of Landlord Tenant Affairs, Maryland; Homer Page, Deputy Mayor of Boulder, Colorado, Director of the Office of Services to Disabled Students, Director of the Problem-Based Education Program, and Professor at the University of Colorado at Boulder; John Halverson, Deputy Regional Division Director, Office for Civil Rights, Region VII, Department of Health and Human Services, Kansas City, Missouri; Catherine Horn Randall, President, Jacksonville Theater Guild and Alderman, Jacksonville, Illinois; and Barbara Pierce, Assistant Executive Director, Alumni Association, Oberlin College, Oberlin, Ohio.
Duane Gerstenberger, Director, Job Opportunities for the Blind, and Paul Mayrand, Director, Office of Special Targeted Programs, Employment and Training Administration, U.S. Department of Labor, Washington, D.C discussed the Job Opportunities for the Blind program and the impact it has had on employers and blind job-seekers.
Terry Drinkwater, a producer and correspondent with CBS Network News, spoke about the broadcast media's unconscious discrimination against the blind. He urged delegates to complain to television officials when problems occur or when programs contribute to the public's misconceptions about blindness.
Elections took place on Wednesday morning. Sid Allen of West Virginia and Terry Herron of New Hampshire had announced that they would not stand again for election to the Board. Priscilla Ferris, President of the National Federation of the Blind of Massachusetts, and Joanne Fernandes, President of the National Federation of the Blind of Louisiana, were elected to replace them. The Board of Directors is now composed of Marc Maurer, Maryland, President; Diane McGeorge, Colorado, First Vice President; Peggy Pinder, Iowa, Second Vice President; Allen Harris, Michigan, Secretary; and Dick Edlund, Kansas, Treasurer. The other members of the Board are: Steve Benson of Illinois, Charles Brown of Virginia, Don Capps of South Carolina, Glenn Crosby of Texas, Bob Eschbach of Ohio, Joanne Fernandes of Louisiana, Priscilla Ferris of Massachusetts, Frank Lee of Alabama, Betty Niceley of Kentucky, Joyce Scanlan of Minnesota, Fred Schroeder of New Mexico, and Gary Wunder of Missouri.
Following the election, Justin W. Dart Jr., Commissioner, Rehabilitation Services Administration, Department of Education, spoke. His title was "Rehabilitation and Employment for the Blind: New Legislation, Current Programs, and the Future." His remarks were truly enlightening--though doubtless not in the way he meant. Certainly they were discouraging to those who still hope for assistance from the Rehabilitation Services Administration.
The next item was a panel presentation and discussion on "Technology for the Blind: Now and Tomorrow." Participants were: Curtis Chong, President, National Federation of the Blind in Computer Science and Systems Programming Specialist, IDS Financial Corporation, Minneapolis, Minnesota; Dr. James Bliss, President, Telesensory Systems, Inc., Mountain View, California; Larry Israel, Chairman of the Board, VTEK, Santa Monica, California; Curtis Willoughby, President, Willoughby Enterprises, Inc. and Circuit Design Engineer, Northwestern Bell Telephone Company, Des Moines, Iowa; Lee Brown, President, Enabling Technologies, Stuart, Florida; Deane Blazie, President, Blazie Engineering, Churchville, Maryland; and James Willows, Chairman, National Federation of the Blind Committee for the Evaluation of Technology and Electronics Engineer, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Livermore, California. The presentations were thoughtful and the discussion lively. It is clear that the organized blind movement is speaking with an increasingly influential voice in the field of technology.
Wednesday afternoon and evening were filled with tours and entertainment to suit every taste. Several hard-working committees also took the opportunity of a few free hours to meet one more time.
The Thursday agenda was so crowded that the session convened a half hour early, with the opening item being a talk by Dan Crawford of Tennessee entitled "I Am Blind and a Genuine Horse Trader." United States Senator Dennis DeConcini from Arizona spoke on the subject "The Right of the Blind to Work and Compete: A Senator's View on Freedom Through Employment." We have come to look forward to the presence of Frank Kurt Cylke, Director of the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, at the annual convention. His topic this year was "New Technological Developments for the Blind at the Library of Congress." "Budget Priorities and Library Services for the Blind" was the title of the remarks made by Congressman Vic Fazio, Chairman, Subcommittee on Legislative Branch Appropriations, Committee on Appropriations, United States House of Representatives.
"Sheltered Workshop Reform: Wages, Jobs, and the Right to Organize" was the subject of a presentation by James Gashel, NFB Director of Governmental Affairs. He reviewed the current legislative picture and described NFB efforts to expand the opportunities for blind workers in the sheltered workshop system.
Congressman Jim Kolbe, Member of the House of Representatives from Arizona, spoke on the subject, "Education, Training, and Employment: Keys to Independence and Freedom for the Blind." In the afternoon David A. Rust, Associate Commissioner for Disability, Social Security Administration, addressed the convention. His topic was "Changing Approaches to Rehabilitation and Employment: Comments on Programs and Plans of the Social Security Administration."
The remainder of the afternoon was devoted to a discussion, "The Federal Policy of Nondiscrimination Concerning Air Travel." Dr. Kenneth Jernigan delivered a major address, and Eileen B. Hoffman, District Director, Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service, reviewed the process of regulation negotiation now taking place among the parties interested in establishing what constitutes discrimination against disabled air passengers. Unfortunately, after having agreed to send a representative to take part on the panel, the Airline Pilots Association withdrew from the program without explanation. Following these presentations, members of the audience gave moving descriptions of their experiences at the hands of airline personnel.
The banquet was, as always, the highpoint of the convention. The twenty-six scholarships were awarded, and Maria (Ernie) Morais from California, winner of the $10,000 award, spoke movingly of the Federation's impact on her life. President Maurer's banquet address, entitled "Back to Notre Dame," captured the mood, set the tone, and placed in focus the activities of the entire week and, indeed, the spirit of the Federation in planning for and moving toward the coming century. As Master of Ceremonies, Donald Capps, long-time national Board Member and President of the National Federation of the Blind of South Carolina, conducted the activities of the evening with a skill and sensitivity that blended the past and future into a dynamic present, an atmosphere which strengthened the pride of Federationists in their heritage and reinforced their optimism concerning the future.
The Friday program consisted for the most part of a general business session. Amid the reports and resolutions, one panel of dedicated Federationists inspired the audience to a standing ovation. Fred Schroeder, an educator and now Director of the New Mexico Commission for the Blind; Barbara Walker, President of the NFB of Nebraska and a blind parent of sighted children; and Debbie Hamm, sighted parent of a blind child and President of the Northwest Chapter of the Parents Division of the National Federation of the Blind, addressed the subject, "Blind Children: Problems, Opportunities, and Tomorrow." Some of those present, exhausted by a week of hard work and equally hard play, left late Friday or early Saturday morning. Others stayed for the annual Job Opportunities for the Blind Seminar. Everyone vowed to make plans early to attend the convention next year in Chicago. The Windy City is waiting.
by Marc Maurer, President
NATIONAL FEDERATION OF THE BLIND
JUNE 30, 1987
I was elected to the presidency of the National Federation of the Blind one year ago. During the past twelve months I have come to have a greater understanding of the spirit of our movement than ever before. It has been a year of real unity and tremendous growth. I have worked closely with Dr. Jernigan, who (shortly after last year's convention) agreed to serve as Executive Director of the Federation; and, of course, I have worked with you the members concerning state and local problems throughout the nation. Although I have been a member of this organization for almost twenty years, and although I have served in a number of capacities, I have come during the past twelve months to appreciate in a different way the scope of our activities, the complexity of the work we do, and the depth and breadth of leadership we have. If anyone doubts the level of our commitment or the unity of our purpose, let that person come here today and see the blind in our thousands at this convention.
This year has been one of the busiest we have ever had. Our position as a leader in affairs of the blind has become ever more widely recognized. The Xerox Corporation held a training session last November for its district personnel managers. The meeting took place in the secluded Xerox Corporation Training Center at Leesburg, Virginia. Only one organization involved with the blind (and, for that matter, only one dealing with the handicapped) was invited to come and speak. The invitation was extended to the National Federation of the Blind. Our message was clear and strong--blind people want work, and we are good employees. I am confident that our November meeting with Xerox and the contacts since then will result in more and better jobs for blind workers.
Another company that sought our assistance is Creative Marketing and Design. This company works with eye doctors to promote eye examinations. But examining the eye is not always enough. The most upbeat, positive organization dealing with blindness is the National Federation of the Blind. Creative Marketing and Design recognized this and asked for our help, so we gave it. Every mailing they do this year (and there will be more than a million letters) will contain our literature and spread our message of hope and opportunity.
We have participated in meetings of the World Blind Union Executive Committee and the North America Region. Dr. Jernigan has served as our representative on the Executive Committee of the World Blind Union. The focus of our participation has been to improve opportunities for the blind of this country, as well as the blind of the world. Although there had not been an election scheduled for the spring meeting of the North America Region, Dr. Jernigan (in recognition of his outstanding contributions to help the blind become first-class citizens) was chosen president of the World Blind Union North America Region. His election to the presidency of the North America Region makes him an honorary officer of the world organization.
Last summer at the convention Dr. Jernigan reported that the airline battles were widespread and intense but that progress was being made. That is still where we are today. The problem is typified by what happened to Sharon Gold and other Californians who were returning home from last year's convention. They were arrested for sitting in exit row seats to which they had been assigned by the airline, and then United personnel became so hostile because Sharon and the others would not move that they were not only personally abusive but almost incited mob violence.
This is not an isolated instance. Unfortunately it is coming to be the rule instead of the exception. We will have a full discussion of the airline problem later in the week, but there are a few things I should mention to you now.
Last July, immediately after our convention, officials of the Air Transport Association and the Regional Airline Association came to the National Center for the Blind for discussions. A week later the next step was taken. I (along with a representative of the Air Transport Association) appeared on a news program, which was carried on the Cable News Network. The debate was, to say the least, spirited. ATA attempted to justify its discriminatory seating policies by saying that small children could not be seated in the exit row. But of course, we are not children, and we will not be treated like children. The message was delivered to ATA, and it was also broadcast to the nation on television.
Last August, in response to our "persuasion," the federal Department of Transportation requested public comments on air travel discrimination issues concerning the blind. The Department received 732 comments responding to its notice. Two hundred forty-nine (or 34 percent) of these comments came from people who did not identify themselves as blind but supported the views of the Federation. Four hundred fifty-six (or 62 percent) came from blind people or organizations representing the blind. Over 96 percent of the comments favored nondiscrimination and supported the position of the National Federation of the Blind.
Last September Congress passed (with our urging, and the urging of others) a bill to prohibit acts of discrimination against the handicapped by the airlines, and President Reagan signed it as Public Law 99-435. You will be hearing about the process for adopting regulations to implement the law later in the convention. The first step is called a regulatory negotiation--or, in federal jargon, a "reg neg." This means that we (along with others who are affected, including the airlines) have been sitting down in the presence of federal mediators to try to work out a rule that will prohibit discrimination in air travel. The process started in June. The mediator leading these negotiations will be speaking at this convention later in the week. With all that has happened over the past year--the pattern of abuse, the arrests, the questions for the Department of Transportation, the interest by a substantial and growing number of members of Congress, the passage of a new federal law, and negotiations over the nondiscrimination rules--it is clear that we are marching toward freedom on the airlines. And we intend to continue that march until we get there.
We are also active in matters concerning vendors. Over a year ago we helped eight Maryland vendors file grievances. The problem was that the Maryland Division of Vocational Rehabilitation had illegally required the vendors to pay for repairs of state-owned equipment and then had failed to make promised reimbursements. The vendors came to the Federation for help. The state agency had no intention of paying, but we know the law and how to use it. Last September the vendors received reimbursement for equipment repairs totaling $45,000. The payments came as a direct result of the actions we took.
Dennis Groshel is a blind vendor at the Veterans Administration Hospital in St. Cloud, Minnesota. The Veterans Administration has been taking the position that its facilities are exempt from the Randolph-Sheppard Act. Therefore, the VA Hospital in St. Cloud was planning not to renew a contract with the Minnesota state agency. If the plan to terminate the facility had been permitted to go forward, Dennis (a Federation member) would have been out on the street by mid-July.
The position of the Veterans Administration is a direct violation of the law. At our urging the Minnesota state agency requested an arbitration, and Jim Gashel has been named as one of the arbitrators. We are going forward with this case, and we expect to win.
In Michigan the Commission for the Blind requested our help when a tank construction facility operated by the Department of Defense decided not to honor the Randolph-Sheppard Act by awarding a contract for a large cafeteria and vending operation. A request for arbitration was made and the panel was appointed. All of a sudden the Department of Defense decided to negotiate. Being good military strategists, the Defense Department had a fallback position. If there was to be a vending facility, they said that the vendor must pay a percentage of the income of the operation to the employees at the plant to improve their morale. It was a bad day for the Tank Corps. The vendor will not pay a percentage, but he or she will take over the tank plant cafeteria and vending operation in November.
In Kansas we are involved in an arbitration to assist Jerry Griggs. Jerry has been a staunch Federationist for many years. Ironically, the dispute in Kansas is with the Federal Aviation Administration, but the problem does not involve the airlines. Jerry Griggs is facing a situation of illegal competition from a commercial enterprise. At first the state agency in Kansas was unwilling to fight to protect Jerry's rights, so we had to bring pressure. It has worked. The state agency has now asked for our help in the arbitration, and Jim Gashel will serve on the arbitration panel.
Lessie Hall is a blind vendor and a long-time Federationist from Memphis, Tennessee. We are helping him in a dispute involving a promotion. Lessie has sixteen years' seniority in the program, and he was qualified to operate the vending facility he sought; but he was passed over. The Tennessee Commissioner of Human Services has already determined that the State's promotion decision was illegal, but the stand was not awarded to Lessie. He should have been promoted, and we intend to prove it.
The South Carolina Commission for the Blind told Melvin Barrineau (a blind vendor) that he must sell Pepsi products from his vending machines and that he could not sell Coca-Cola. We agree with Melvin that decisions of this sort are properly the choice of the vendor, not the state. It is the vendor, not the state, who must make a living from the business. If the vendor decides to stock products that no one will buy, he or she (not the state) will pay the price. Conversely, if the vendor has what people want, he or she will make a profit--so we are going to have an arbitration in South Carolina.
Don Hudson and Richard Jack are blind vendors in Colorado. Last year Dr. Jernigan reported that we had initiated a lawsuit on their behalf because the agency for the blind had decided that a vending operation in a mail handling- center in Colorado would be too profitable to give to one blind vendor. The agency wanted to split the operation and divide the profits between two vendors. In short these officials seemed to feel that the substantial income was too much for a blind person and that modest (perhaps meager) earnings would be enough. When we suggested that perhaps the same principle should apply to the salaries of the agency officials--that is, split the income and put two into the position when the earnings get too high, they did not seem to think the situations were the same. The case is now before an arbitration panel.
In another arbitration involving the Tennessee agency, we have won a favorable decision on behalf of Betty Moffit. The award involves a payment of damages totaling $9,174.13. Betty has said that when she is paid, the entire amount (including the thirteen cents) will come to the Federation. More than the money, we were able to use this arbitration to protect the vending facility operated by Betty from illegal competition. This is another solid victory for blind vendors and the Federation.
During the first weekend in April we held a vending conference in Detroit. It was one of the best attended, most enthusiastic meetings of blind vendors we have ever had. Opportunities for collective buying were discussed, and plans for more extensive self- organization and involvement by blind vendors were laid. The conference illustrates (and the cases I have outlined underscore) the fact of what it means to be a vendor in the National Federation of the Blind.
During the last few months Little Randolph-Sheppard Acts (prepared from model legislation which we drafted for the purpose) have been adopted by the legislatures of Pennsylvania and West Virginia. Rounding out the picture of vending matters, we are now in the final stages of negotiations for new vending regulations in Maryland. Similar regulations are now in draft form for the state of Indiana. One battle, one state, and one issue at a time, we are changing what it means to be blind--not only for blind vendors but also for the entire blind population. This is why we have the National Federation of the Blind.
It has been another successful year in our dealings with the National Accreditation Council for Agencies Serving the Blind and Visually Handicapped (NAC). In North Carolina the Governor Morehead School for the Blind gave NAC the boot last fall. The same decision was made in Rhode Island and announced at the convention of our affiliate. Rhode Island Services for the Blind dropped NAC accreditation at the end of 1986. The trend has continued in 1987. Earlier this year the Center for the Visually Impaired in Elyria, Ohio, dropped its NAC accreditation. There are also growing signs that the American Foundation for the Blind (NAC's founder, principal funding source, and long-time sponsor) is having second thoughts. Only a month ago the American Council of the Blind tried to persuade the Mississippi Welfare Board to force Mississippi Industries for the Blind to accept NAC accreditation. From NAC's point of view the discussion was not held at a low level. Dennis Hartenstein, Executive Director of NAC, and Otis Stevens, former President of NAC and the First Vice President of the American Council of the Blind, came to argue for NAC. But we were also represented at the meeting. When the votes were cast, the decision was unanimous-- no NAC for Mississippi Industries for the Blind.
Blind workers in sheltered workshops are among those who suffer most under the stigma of second-class status. Their wages and working conditions are unbelievably bad. More than that, they are constantly threatened and subjected to abuse--especially, if they try to organize (a right which the rest of American labor secured almost fifty years ago.) So we continue to work to assist our blind brothers and sisters in the shops--and this has been a year of progress.
The Raleigh Lions Clinic case in North Carolina started four years ago at the time of our 1983 convention in Kansas City. Several of the shop workers wanted to join a union. Shop management said no. Union cards were signed, and a hearing was held in 1983. The regional director of the National Labor Relations Board found in our favor. He ordered the Raleigh Lions Clinic to permit an election for the union. But the workshop appealed to the entire National Labor Relations Board in Washington. We filed a brief on behalf of the blind workers.
In September of last year there was a further hearing before another hearing officer. We submitted another brief. The decision came down on March 11, 1987. The National Labor Relations Board ordered that the results of the 1983 election must be tallied and announced. Unfortunately, because of the vulnerability of the workers and the pressure exerted by management, we did not win the election. That is not unusual for the first time in these cases. But this decision means that the Raleigh workshop is subject to the National Labor Relations Act. The negative election results cannot erase or diminish the victory we have achieved once again before the National Labor Relations Board. The blind have the right to organize. That is the encouraging and indisputable victory in Raleigh, and we will go from there.
Last year at this time the management interests of the workshops were seeking federal legislation to allow them to receive contracts reserved by law for small businesses. We said that this would be fine if the workshops would behave like businesses and stop claiming to be places of therapy. In fact, shops claim to be work places when that suits their interests, and therapy places when that suits their interests. We told them they could start by paying decent wages and recognizing our right to organize. But the workshops were not buying it. They wanted the small business contracts, but they were not prepared to treat the blind like other workers in small business in order to get them.
Congress agreed with us. Parren Mitchell, then Chairman of the House Committee on Small Business, bluntly told the workshop management representatives that no bill would clear his committee without first providing at least the minimum wage to blind workers. I wish I could say that the workshops agreed, but as you might expect, they did not. As you might also expect (in view of our stature and influence) their legislation did not pass the Congress. The lesson for the workshops is clear. We the blind are now on the scene, organized and determined. Legislation about sheltered shops which does not receive our endorsement is unlikely to pass. That, too, is why we have the National Federation of the Blind.
An example of what I am saying also occurred in amendments to the Fair Labor Standards Act. This is the law requiring the minimum wage for most workers in America and permitting subminimum wages to be paid to the blind. We have long sought an end to the practice of paying the blind less than the minimum wage-- and here, too, we have made progress.
Because of legislation which we supported that was passed last fall, any blind worker who receives a subminimum wage now has a right to require the workshop to prove in a hearing that the subminimum wage is justified. I mean this literally. Any worker has the right to a hearing, and if the workshop does not show up to prove that the subminimum wage is justified, the presumption of the law goes with the blind worker. Even if the workshop does come to the hearing, the presumption will be that the minimum wage must be paid unless the workshop can prove that the subminimum wage is reasonable. We will use this provision to the fullest. With vigorous action we can cut the widespread practice by the sheltered shops of paying blind people subminimum wages. This, too, is why we have organized.
One thing more concerning the sheltered shops: We continue to work to change the Javits-Wagner-O'Day Act. This is the federal law that gives contracts to workshops if 75% of their direct labor is performed by the blind. But the workshops are run by the sighted, and the sighted get better jobs and more pay than the blind--and they are less likely to be laid off than the blind. We intend to change that. On May 21st of this year we had a hearing before the House Subcommittee on Employment and Housing. I testified in that hearing, along with Don Morris of Maryland (formerly a manager in a shop program) and Willie Armstrong (a shopworker from Alabama). The Javits- Wagner-O'Day Program is symbolic and symptomatic of the problems faced by the blind, and we are determined to make changes. We are determined to have first-class citizenship, with all that the term implies. If the questioning of witnesses in the hearing means anything (and I have data to indicate that it does), we are on the verge of major breakthroughs. The days of business as usual in the Javits-Wagner-O'Day Program are coming to an end.
We continue to lead the way in representing the interests of the blind before the Social Security Administration, and our relationship with top officials of that agency continues to be good. David Rust, the new Associate Commissioner for Disability at the Social Security Administration, will be attending this convention. His presence symbolizes the close ties we have with Social Security.
Here is only one example: the notice that was sent to about 36 million Social Security beneficiaries last January carried new information to explain that blind and disabled beneficiaries can work and have earnings. Similar notices, sent in prior years, gave the misleading impression that earnings by blind people were not permitted. This year's notice more accurately and clearly explained the facts. The rewrite occurred because of our convention resolution last year. In fact, we were consulted on the precise language of the notice that was sent out.
Of course, we also help with Social Security cases involving disputes concerning benefits and eligibility. A prime example is the appeal filed by Bill Saker of Colorado. Bill sought our help when the Social Security Administration claimed that he was no longer eligible for disability benefits. Bill is blind, and he was not working. The dispute with Social Security involved about $7,000 which we thought Bill was entitled to receive. The issue was whether the income he received during an internship made him ineligible to receive benefits. We thought that it did not, and we were right. Bill has now received the full amount of the benefits to which he was entitled.
Althea Pittman of Maryland also had a problem with Social Security. Quite some time ago she received a notice stating that an overpayment of $21,000 in disability benefits had been made to her. She first sought the advice of someone not involved in the National Federation of the Blind. Not surprisingly, Althea was advised that she would have to pay back the money, all $21,000 of it. But she did not have the money to pay. Even so, Althea signed a statement saying that she did not want a waiver, and she did not disagree with the overpayment. She only wanted to work out a schedule for paying back what she thought she owed. That is when we got involved. And (again, not surprisingly) it now appears that Althea was entitled to every penny of the disability benefits she received.
In the case of Sandy Sanderson, of Alaska, the Social Security Administration sought to recover $37,184. This is the amount they said he had received as an overpayment. In November we had a hearing in Anchorage, and the decision came down in December. Need I tell you the result? It is important to the blind that the National Federation of the Blind exists--in this case, $37,184 important.
Then, there is the Peter Wilson case. If you study the Monitor (and all of you should) you know about this case. The Social Security Administration said that Peter Wilson was not eligible for Supplemental Security Income benefits. He had resources (money put aside) in excess of $33,000. In the normal case he would not have been eligible to receive SSI benefits.
The Social Security Administration said that no one with $33,000 could remain eligible for SSI checks. Besides, the officials did not approve of Peter's plan to go to Harvard. In a hearing (which Sharon Gold handled) we said that Peter was entitled to exclude the $33,000 because it was needed to finance his education at the university. We pointed out that the law permits him to receive SSI benefits while he is in school. The decision has been made. Peter is attending Harvard and using the $33,000--and the SSI checks are still coming.
Last September Kevan and Debbie Worley and their two children went to the Trailways Bus Station in downtown St. Louis. They were planning an outing for the day. Little did they know that their proposed trip would become an incident focusing national attention on the need to protect the rights of blind people to travel without unreasonable interference.
Kevan wanted to buy bus tickets for his family to travel to Festus, Missouri, about 40 miles south of St. Louis. The agent at the bus station refused to sell the tickets. She said that Kevan and Debbie would need to present a letter from a doctor. They explained that they only wanted to buy bus tickets to Festus and that they wanted to pay the regular fare. They did not want a handicapped ticket or a reduced fare, so no doctor's statement would be needed. But the agent persisted in refusing to sell them tickets.
You know the rest of the story. The police came and arrested Kevan. He was the victim of physical violence and verbal abuse. Even so, he (not the police officer) was charged with disturbance of the peace. Kevan did not violate the law, however. We demonstrated that in the courts. There was no disturbance of the peace caused by Kevan. Within hours of the incident the blind of the nation were rallying for a public protest. We made signs, and we picketed the bus station at the very spot where Kevan had been thrown to the pavement by the police. The press came in force. Even the police came, and grew increasingly friendly--as well they should. The Kevan Worley case is behind us, but we must not forget its lessons. That, too, is why we have the National Federation of the Blind.
Connie Leblond, one of our leaders in Maine, filed a complaint against Head Start when she was told that her blind son could attend classes only when the regular teacher was present. When the regular teacher was sick or absent, Connie's son Seth must stay home. Our complaint against this kind of unreasonable treatment was filed, and the decision was made last fall. The Office for Civil Rights ruled that this behavior of the Head Start Program is discrimination and that it must be stopped. This spring we got a decision in the Carol Coulter case. Carol is a Federationist from Missouri, who wanted to operate a day care center to keep small children. She was denied an unrestricted license solely on grounds of blindness. The Missouri Division of Family Services tried to require her to have a sighted person present with the children at all times, but Carol Coulter (with our help) fought back. The ruling on her civil rights complaint has been made, and the unrestricted license will be granted.
Then, there is Debra Duncan. She was denied a day care license in California because of blindness despite the fact that she cares for two children of her own. Her case will go to a hearing before the California State Department of Social Services later this month. Debra will not be alone. We will be with her, and we expect to get the license.
When Sheila Killian and a sighted friend tried to patronize a Raspberries Ice Cream Parlor in California, they were not served because of the presence of Sheila's dog guide. After a lawsuit, which we backed, the Raspberries Ice Cream Parlor had to pay Sheila $3,900. That was an expensive lesson. It is one that should be learned by anyone in the country who tries to deny the rights of the blind. Expensive or not, we will continue to teach--and when we do, we will expect service with a smile.
Geerat Vermeij is a blind marine biologist at the University of Maryland. He was scheduled to participate in a research cruise to the Aleutian Islands; but a professor at the University of Alaska (the institution which operates the ship) raised objections to his going. The reason--need I tell you?-- was concerned with safety. Dr. Vermeij is prominent in his field and has traveled throughout the world doing research. Nine years ago, in fact, he went on a research cruise on the very ship in question. In the resolution of this case you can see the Federation at work. Jim Omvig (from his headquarters in Alaska) and I (working from the National Center in Maryland) collaborated. The matter has been resolved. Geerat Vermeij will participate in all activities of the research project (from ship to shore and otherwise), and there will be no discrimination--but there probably would have been if it had not been for the National Federation of the Blind.
In the banquet speech at last year's national convention Dr. Jernigan described the details of the Terry McManus case. A bus driver told Terry that he would have to sit in a seat for the handicapped when there was only standing room on the bus. Terry said he preferred to stand, and he did. Rather than driving the bus, the operator asked all of the other passengers to leave. Terry stayed, and he stood. The rest of the story you know. The bus was driven on its route with Terry still standing-- and all alone. This spring the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission ruled that the Port Authority of Pittsburgh had violated the law.
Our determination no longer to be second- class citizens was vindicated once again.
Last year Mary Freeman of Maryland sought a job with the Internal Revenue Service of the United States. She applied in the usual manner. She took a competitive civil service test, and she passed it with an excellent grade. But the Baltimore District Office of the IRS still refused to hire her. Had she been sighted, Mary Freeman would have had a job at IRS without difficulty. But Mary Freeman is blind.
When Mary applied for the job, she was told that she would need to be trained by Arkansas Enterprises for the Blind. Sighted people are trained by IRS. They are paid during their training. But IRS told Mary Freeman that she would be responsible for obtaining her own training from Arkansas Enterprises for the Blind, and that she would not be paid while she was doing it. No job would be guaranteed even if she successfully passed all of the required tests.
This was discrimination. As part of our assistance to Mary we contacted the appropriate IRS official in Washington. Significantly, he had attended last year's convention in Kansas City. Sometimes I am asked what good it does to have government officials here to speak to us. The next time I get such a question I think I may simply say, "Mary Freeman." The matter was settled quickly. On March 9th of this year, Mary started her training at the IRS District Office in Baltimore. She was not required to go to the Arkansas Enterprises for the Blind, and she was paid from the day her training began. She is now working every day as a taxpayer service representative and is being considered for promotion. This is another example of what we can achieve through collective action and organized effort--in other words, the National Federation of the Blind.
Ben Rushton is a blind father living with his children in South Carolina. Several years ago, when he was blinded in an automobile accident, his former wife brought legal action to remove the children from his custody on the grounds that a blind father could not exercise proper parental supervision. Don Capps and other Federationists assisted with this case, and the decision has now been reached. This spring the court agreed with us and said that blindness is not grounds for withdrawing child custody. This is one more case in which the rights of blind parents have been protected by the know-how and determination of the organized blind.
Again this year there are more and better scholarships than ever before. You will meet the students who are receiving them at this convention. Past results demonstrate that the Scholarship Program has been an unqualified success. Our Scholarship Program has been widely publicized--being mentioned in Seventeen Magazine, newsletters from Congressional offices, and student aid publications. As a result of our effort, blind students have better opportunity than ever before, and we are also reaching people we have never reached.
The current round of remodeling and renovation at the National Center for the Blind is almost finished. The Records Management Center, recording studios, new offices, dining facilities, and other renovations at the National Center for the Blind are nearly ready for use. Beyond a doubt our National Center is the most productive and the finest facility of its kind in the nation. With this resource goes responsibility. We must ship specialized aids, appliances, and materials to state and local affiliates throughout the nation and to others who need them, and the figures show that we are doing it. During the past year we have duplicated and distributed 7,000 Presidential Releases, and we have sent out more than a million pieces of literature. The volume of material we are handling has increased more than twenty percent over what we were doing a year ago; and this does not include circulation of the Monitor, which is also up substantially and accelerating. As you know, we began making the Monitor available on cassette a few months ago, and this means still wider circulation to come. Two years ago, when we were producing 18,000 issues of the Monitor each month, I thought we were close to the saturation point; but the rate of increase during the intervening time has been faster than ever before in our history. Today we are producing almost 26,000 copies per month--and still growing.
Our aids, appliances, and materials have been moved to new quarters, occupying more than 14,000 feet of shelf space, and this does not include the more than 28,000 boxes of material stored at the ground floor level in the Barney Street Wing. We have now computerized the operation, and this should increase efficiency and result in even better service.
We now distribute the American Bar Association Journal on tape, and we are publishing Future Reflections (the magazine for parents of blind children) and also The Voice of the Diabetic(the newsletter of our Diabetic Division). The circulation of these publications is increasing at a rapid rate, and there are others--the "Blind Educator, the newsletter of the National Association to Promote the Use of Braille, Slate and Style (the magazine of the Writers Division), The Brief (which as you would imagine is published by the National Association of Blind Lawyers), the newsletter of the Merchants Division, and the magazines and newsletters of other divisions and local affiliates.
The Job Opportunities for the Blind
(JOB) Program is still one of the most successful efforts we have ever undertaken. This year alone we have distributed 14,000 JOB Bulletins to blind applicants, and we have provided information to 6,000 employers. More than 2,000 blind job seekers have been assisted by the program since our last report, and the number of blind people who have been employed (which is, after all, the figure that counts) has topped the 700 mark since the beginning of the program.
During the past year guests from a number of foreign countries and many agencies doing work with the blind have visited the National Center for the Blind. Last fall the chairman of the Royal National Institute for the Blind came from England to examine our programs and learn about our success. This spring an industrialist who manufactures products for the blind in India came to the Center and talked with us about the future of technology. Shortly after last year's convention a representative from one of the organizations for the blind in Israel toured the Center and sought advice about methods for promoting self-organization for the blind in that country, and there have been more---many more.
All of the things I have been discussing with you can be summarized in a very few words: hope, opportunity, information, and the belief that it is respectable to be blind. Recently a letter came to me which illustrates what we are, how we are perceived, where we are going, and what we must do. The letter came not from some other country or California or Tennessee or New Mexico but from Baltimore. This is what it said:
I am a young mother at the age of nineteen. My son is eleven months old and his name is David. David is blind.
I received a packet of information through the mail from your organization. I can't send money, but I would greatly appreciate your help.
I was scared from the start about being a mother, but now raising a blind child terrifies me. I want to be the best mother for David that I can, and I want him to lead a normal childhood.
I have heard relatives refer to David as poor blind David and I don't want that. I want them to think of David first, not his blindness.
I am so happy to have found your organization. If it would not be any trouble, could you send me information about your organization.
How can we respond to that letter? This blind boy and his mother urgently need our help, and of course they will get it. The circumstances surrounding their situation (our educational mail campaigns; the confusion of the parents of blind children and their need for help; our accumulated resources of literature and know-how; our members who have achieved success and who still recognize the importance of participating in the movement and continue to draw strength and knowledge from it while serving as role models; our capacity to care; and our strength to make the caring count)--all of these bring together in a single composite what we are and what we must remain.
During the past twelve months we have grown mightily, but we have not diluted our commitment or our personal intimacy of relationship to each other or the people who seek our help. We are stronger today and better organized than we have ever been, but with all of our accomplishments much still remains to be done. As I look back through the year just ended, I am proud of what we have achieved together--you as members and I as President--and I am extremely grateful to each of you for the support and trust which you have given to me, your new President.
I have tried to merit that support and trust, and I shall continue to try to merit it. Regardless of the accomplishments I make in the years ahead (and hopefully there will be some) or the mistakes (and certainly there will be many), I will need to count on your continued understanding and backing. In this, the first year of my presidency, I find that I do not know as much as I would like to know, but there is one thing of which I am absolutely certain. The letter from the young mother with the eleven-month-old son named David strikes home to me. I myself have a son named David. He is three years old, and so far as I know, he has normal sight. When my son David and that other David (the blind eleven-month-old child of the nineteen-year-old mother) come to manhood, they must find a better world for the blind than we have today. That is my job. That is your job. That is our job as members of the National Federation of the Blind-- and we must not fail to accomplish it. We do it for the leaders who laid the foundation of this movement and pioneered its development--leaders like Muzzy Marcelino, who died last fall; we do it for ourselves and the blind of today; and we do it for the blind of tomorrow, the children who are now too young to do it for themselves--the blind children and also the sighted children, who will live fuller lives if the blind are not degraded as subhumans and written off as second-class citizens. In the tradition of Dr. tenBroek, who brought our Federation into being in 1940, and of Dr. Jernigan, who is here today as the living symbol of our achievements and our battle for freedom, we must continue to build and look to the future. We in the National Federation of the Blind are dreamers and planners and builders. The past year (with all of its problems) has been good, because we have worked to make it good. The coming year (again, with all of its problems) can be even better; and I believe it will be, because we will work to make it better. This is my commitment; this is my pledge; and this is my report to you.
by Konnie & Kim Hoffman
Konnie and Kim Hoffman are twin sisters from Lemmon, South Dakota. Karen Mayry, President of the National Federation of the Blind of South Dakota, says they attended the South Dakota School for the Visually Handicapped through the ninth grade. At the time of the 1987 convention in Phoenix they had just graduated from high school.
Obviously both Konnie and Kim (like most of the rest of us) were deeply moved by their first NFB convention. Here is what they had to say about it:
What the National Convention of the National Federation of the Blind Meant to Me
by Konnie Hoffman
I am eighteen years old, and until this past year I have not been very active in this wonderful organization. From the things some anti-Federationist people have told me, I gathered that this group was just a lot of talk and little action. I'm sure most of you have heard the same things at one time or another. I had not at that time received the Braille Monitor, so I could not really learn for myself and form my own opinions as to what the National Federation of the Blind was all about. Although my parents had received the magazine for several years, they didn't find time in their busy schedules to share the articles with me and my twin sister, Kim, who is also blind. I must be honest with you so you will see how very much the Federation has changed my mind so drastically. Frankly, though, I wondered, as a lot of others do, what being a member could really do for me.
Although I hate to admit this, the truth is I had selfish motives in joining the Federation at first. They were giving away scholarships, and since both Kim and I are planning to attend college in the fall, every dollar really helps. So we applied and thought maybe we should become members. But now I can sincerely assure all of you that whether I ever win a scholarship from the Federation of the Blind or not, I shall always be a loyal member and do anything I can to help the cause of this group.
How did this change in me occur? Well, thanks to our wonderful South Dakota state president, Karen Mayry, Kim and I, for the first time, attended the national convention this year in Phoenix. At first we were hesitant about making the trip, but Karen is a very determined and convincing person, and it wasn't long before Kim and I were really looking forward to going. I knew as soon as I got there that I would never be sorry I came. Everybody made us feel at home right away. In fact, I made so many wonderful friends while there that I really hated to leave. I can hardly wait until next year (for, of course, I am planning to go to Chicago in 1988 for another great convention) when not only will I become reunited with all those I left behind in Phoenix, but I'll again be able to sit in on the very inspirational meetings where I learned so much that I shall never forget.
The self-confidence I obtained during my week at the convention is almost unbelievable. I thought it would probably wear off after I left, but if anything, it's become even stronger. I'm not afraid to do anything now since I realize that the policy of the National Federation of the Blind (that we who are blind are as good and as capable as anyone else) is really true. It was proven time and time again through the marvelous speakers I heard in Phoenix. Although I know that (because sighted people are not educated to the fact that blind people can lead "normal" lives) it will be a challenge every step of the way, I am no longer the least bit afraid to reach for my goals and not to give up until they are accomplished. And the best thing about the whole experience is that I know that if I ever have any difficulty that I can't handle alone, the National Federation of the Blind will be behind me all the way and do anything they can to help.
It's almost impossible for me to say which part of the convention I liked best. It all helped me in various areas of my life, and I could relate in some way to everyone who spoke. We have an excellent President in Marc Maurer, and I'm so glad I was able to be present at his first convention as President. I just can't say enough good things about him, Dr. Jernigan, and everyone else on the national board. I feel I have known all of them a lifetime, though as yet I've never been personally introduced to them. I count it a privilege that I was able to attend this convention and am only sorry I missed out on so much in previous years. Perhaps the banquet was the highlight of my week, but again I loved every bit of the convention so much that it's really hard to say. I wish I could elaborate further on what each particular segment did for me, but it would probably take a book to express all the thoughts and insights I gained simply from seven days at the convention of the National Federation of the Blind. I would strongly urge anyone who is wondering whether or not it would be worthwhile to attend one of these conventions to do so and find out for him or herself just what this organization really is. I will always be grateful to the National Federation of the Blind for all they've done for me, and I'm proud to say that now, together, we can work together to make the world a better place for blind people.
Why I am Now a Loyal Fan of the NFB
by Kim Hoffman
This year, thanks to the persistent prodding of our South Dakota State President, Karen Mayry, I was finally persuaded to attend the national convention of the Federation of the Blind, and am I ever glad I went! Unless you have ever attended one of these conventions in the past, there is no way you could understand what I mean when I say that I will never be the same again after having attended this past one in Phoenix. It has given me so much confidence and determination to stick to my rights as a U. S. citizen. I have felt so encouraged just knowing I'm not alone in my efforts to overcome the misconceptions and prejudices of our sighted neighbors.
I've been to a lot of conventions, but I have never before encountered as friendly a group of people as I did at the NFB convention. I think it is quite remarkable when a person can say that she attended a convention with more than 2,000 other people and didn't find one person whom she didn't like. I can honestly say that is the case with me. I made so many new friends and met so many neat people that, although it is impossible to remember all of their names, I will be eagerly looking forward to meeting them at the 1988 convention in Chicago.
I am going to be starting my freshman year in college this fall to major in elementary education, so one part of the convention which I found especially helpful was the seminar for blind educators. All the talks in that seminar were very enlightening, but I enjoyed the talk by Mary Willows most of all. She is blind and told about her interview before she got her teaching job. Her success story was both encouraging and inspirational.
Dr. Jernigan and President Maurer are great! I have been reading Dr. Jernigan's articles in the Monitor for a while, but that just can't compare with actually hearing him speak. Both he and Mr. Maurer are so dynamic, and their leadership ability is so outstanding that one cannot keep from being impressed.
I just can't say enough about the convention and how much the NFB now means to me, but I hope by now you have got the message that I loved the convention, and I would encourage anyone who has never attended one to do so. I hope to see everyone who reads this next year in Chicago!
by Kenneth Jernigan
The language is replete with such expressions as: "out to lunch," "one brick short of a full load," "a missing wheel," et cetera. And it is not just the average citizen who is sometimes tagged with these epithets. Very often (and very appropriately) it is a member of the media.
Surely there is not some peculiar characteristic about the newspaper or television business which attracts the wierdo, the would-be "smarty" who is not really smart, or the particularly obtuse. Alternatively surely there is not some esoteric urge by these groups which drives them to seek employment with the media.
Yet, the evidence accumulates.
Take, for instance, the recent convention of the National Federation of the Blind in Phoenix. Thee were issues aplenty being discussed--newsworthy issues, issues of real significance. To give only one example, a nationwide action concerning the airlines was announced, and the media were given prior notice. If the same announcement had been made by an organization of comparable size (an organization of women, blacks, Jews, Catholics, fundamentalists, Arabs, or anybody else you can think of), the media would have been there in droves. There would have been nationwide headlines and network television coverage, but there was not a peep. We had to go (checkbook in hand) to the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, and USA Today to get the message printed--and then there was interest (lots of interest throughout the entire country, and action from the general public as well) thus proving that the story had news value in the first place.
In this context consider the behavior of the Arizona Republic. It holds itself out as a first-class newspaper, cock of the walk in Phoenix; but its coverage of our recent convention was, to say the least, spotty and unperceptive--maybe even unprofessional. Did its reporters trumpet the issues being discussed by the nation's largest gathering of the blind? Did its front page tell the world about the airline problem? No. What, then, did the Arizona Republic find that was worth reporting about our convention?
Here is a sample. Note that the reporter was so enterprising that she could not even get our name right. Also note that she says that the blind were "carefully tapping across the street." Were they really more careful than their sighted counterparts? Was this fact or stereotype? Fortunately, there are countertrends and other currents in the media, or one would wonder if the entire tribe of journalists had taken leave of their senses.
As I have already said, surely the members of the press are not more prone than others to have broken doorbells, be one brick short of a full load, have a missing wheel, or be out to lunch. Yet, sometimes one is forced to wonder:
July 5, 1987
Eyes Right--A delegation of Japanese labor leaders visited Phoenix last week, talking to local labor authorities and touring the city. On the last day of the visit, one of the Japanese asked if there were something in Phoenix harmful to people's eyes.
The local labor leader, puzzled over the question for several seconds before remembering that 2,000 members of the National Federation for the Blind were having their convention in town. For several days, almost every downtown street corner was occupied with a blind citizen with a white cane, carefully tapping across the street.
An Address Delivered by MARC MAURER President, National Federation of the Blind At the Banquet of the Annual Convention Phoenix, Arizona, July 2, 1987
Once in a great while there comes a dramatic change--an event so striking in its effect that forever after a new direction is inevitable. But more often, change does not have the appearance of drama. Instead, there is a slight shift in emphasis--an alteration of mood. Often the change that tips the scale is so slight that (at the time it occurs) it is completely unrecognized. Only later, with the long view of history, can it be seen that this was the particular moment, the watershed, the critical juncture.
Today, the world (whether Christian or non-Christian) counts time from the birth of Christ; but twenty centuries ago, at the time the event occurred, the vast majority of Roman citizens were totally unaware of it. Even if they had known, it would have seemed of no significance.
Fire is generally regarded as the essence of drama. Flames shoot dozens (even hundreds) of feet into the air, but fire is merely oxidation at a rapid rate. Although it is momentarily spectacular, its consequences are far less significant than those of other forms of oxidation. In the total range of rust, rot, leaf mold, and metabolism fire is (so to speak) only a flash in the pan, a momentary aberration. Of vastly more importance to the people of the world are the slow, unspectacular chemical changes which take place every day--the oxidation of millions of tons of matter, occurring so slowly as to pass without comment.
This does not mean that drama is unimportant, that fire can be dismissed with a shrug and a yawn. Nor does it mean that the actions of everyday life have no effect or drama. The events which cause hope and despair, joy and depression, are of tremendous significance even when they pass unnoticed and without remark. The process of quiet but dramatic change is an integral part of being human. It is also the very essence of the National Federation of the Blind. The cumulative effect of the drama without fanfare which is reflected in the growth of our movement and the lives of its members is perhaps more spectacular than any other single event which the decades have brought, regardless of how pivotal and far-reaching that event may have seemed at the moment.
In 1940 Dr. Jacobus tenBroek and a handful of others formed the National Federation of the Blind. Only later was it fully recognized that these pioneers had done something so dramatic that the lives of the blind throughout the world would never again be the same. The spirit which came into being at our founding in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, took root quietly. There was no roll of drums, no clap of thunder, no blazing fire to celebrate the event--only Dr. tenBroek and the small group who gathered with him to dream and plan for the future and take the first steps toward making it happen. They did not-- indeed, could not--know what the final outcome would be. They were people of discernment and tremendous insight, but they could not have imagined that from that humble beginning would spring the organized blind movement of today--the powerful fifty thousand- member National Federation of the Blind which we have become and now are. Still, they believed--that a future could be created, that the years would not slip away with only emptiness for the blind, that it was possible for the blind to build and grow and come together in one great family. That dream, that faith, has partly been realized---but the road stretches far ahead, and the rest is for us to do. And we will do it. We will do it by education and unspectacular change if we can. We will do it by more dramatic means if we must--but we will do it. As Dr. Jernigan has so often said: We are simply no longer willing to be second-class citizens.
For forty-seven years we have been working quietly (and sometimes not so quietly) to win our way to first-class status in society. There have, of course, been public demonstrations, dramatic confrontations, and historic documents; but these have not been the primary vehicles of change and accomplishment. Instead, the individual hopes and dreams of blind people--the cumulative effect of their unspectacular daily decisions and actions--have come together to create the positive and powerful force which is represented here tonight. No one who is in this room or who is in any way connected with affairs of the blind needs to be told what that force is. It is the National Federation of the Blind.
When I joined the Federation in 1969, there had already been twenty-nine years of hard, dedicated work; and the results were plain. The Federation had built a solid record of accomplishment. There was a body of literature about blindness which undergirded and gave direction to our efforts. The ideas and basic assumptions contained in the writings of Dr. tenBroek and Dr. Jernigan had been put to the test. There was no doubt that blind people could compete successfully in business or the professions. The programs of the Federation had demonstrated that this was not speculation but fact. The theories worked. Blind people got jobs. The question was not if or whether but how and when. The problem of 1969 was to expand the scope of our activities. We needed more than a demonstration. We needed opportunity, and not just for a few.
In 1969, as I came to be part of the movement, I did not know that these things were true. Only in retrospect did I know it. In one sense I did not (when I joined this movement) understand the organization at all, but even in my ignorance, the Federation spoke to me with quiet force. For the first time in my life what I thought made a difference. It was absolutely astonishing to me that this was so--that anyone would do something because I, a blind person, wanted it done. I did not understand the reason for such unusual behavior, or appreciate its significance; and although I was fascinated with the Federation, I must confess that I did not think it would change my life--at least, not very much.
As I was growing up, I (like all others, blind and sighted alike) was conditioned by my culture and society. I hoped that there would be something interesting or important for me to do, but I was afraid that blindness might keep me from it. When I came to the Federation, I found blind people working and making substantive contributions. I was told that blindness need not be a terrible limitation. I hoped that the Federation was right, but I had doubts. Nevertheless, I said that I believed, and I tried to act as though I did. It was only later that I realized (with something of a shock) that the belief had come to be a reality in my life--and a good while before I recognized it.
Dr. Jernigan taught me about blindness and the organized blind movement--and there were others. I talked with blind people who were lawyers, teachers, factory workers, and farmers. At Federation meetings blind leaders spoke of the power of collective action. Soon I began to repeat what those around me were saying: that blindness could be reduced to the level of a physical nuisance, that with proper training and opportunity the average blind person could do the average job in the average place of business--in short that it was respectable to be blind.
Then, I went to college at Notre Dame--and it was a sudden plunge into ice water. On a campus with six thousand other students, I found myself completely isolated and alone. I could not find a single other person who understood what I thought I understood or believed what I said I believed, the simple truth that blind people had capacity and could compete. I met no one else who thought it was respectable to be blind. The coach in the athletic department told me that I should not take any gym classes because I might get hurt. When signing up for an accounting course, I was praised by the professor for my great courage. Then (without even changing gears) the professor promised me a good grade. I got the idea that I did not have to earn it, that just being there and being courageous would be enough. I worked hard to deserve that grade, and I worked hard for the other grades I got, too. It was an unforgettable experience; and although I have physically returned to that campus only once since graduation, I have (sociologically speaking) been back to Notre Dame many times through the years.
That first semester I learned with real force (I might say with dramatic force) that blindness could not stop me, but I also learned that prejudice and misunderstanding might. Something had to be done. The situation was intolerable. All of those professors and students had to be told. I needed help. I needed the National Federation of the Blind. As the years at the university passed, I became increasingly active in our movement. My priorities crystallized and became clear.
After college I did graduate work, and in 1977 I finished law school. In 1978, with the help of Federation members, I got a job in the office of the General Counsel at the Civil Aeronautics Board. With my philosophy and idealism in hand, I went to that job willing and anxious to work. I wanted to give of my time, my effort, and my energy. I wanted to advance myself and the cause of the blind. The Civil Aeronautics Board made United States civil aviation policy. Here, I thought, is an opportunity for me to do something really useful. However, I soon discovered that a pattern existed--a pattern which reminded me of the professor who told me that I was courageous, and promised me a good grade. I felt right at home. It was just like being back at Notre Dame.
My assignments were almost always routine. If there was a trip to London for an international negotiation, somebody else was asked to go. If a hearing officer needed to take testimony in a small town to determine the feasibility of air service, I was never sent. These assignments (calculated to vary the routine) were highly prized and much sought after. Others went while I stayed home--and was courageous. Sometimes there was not enough routine work to fill my day. So I was left to occupy my time as I chose. My superiors would have been content if I had spent my time listening to the radio or reading. They would have been content--but I would not have been content. I did not want the rest of my life to be a sham and a deception, a guaranteed succession of endless raises and lack of meaningful work. Discrimination is not necessarily confined to the job interview or the entry level. It can also happen after employment is permanent and safe.
My job with the federal government was absolutely secure. It would have lasted until retirement through a long and restful life. There was something else: we all tend to be conditioned by our environment. I knew that if I stayed long enough and my salary became high enough, I might begin to succumb to temptation and rationalize. I might become accustomed to the lack of useful activity and gradually lose my initiative, my sense of values, my perspective, my willingness to leave, and my soul.
Not only had the Federation taught me about blindness but also about self-examination, objectivity, and perspective. In 1981 I left the Civil Aeronautics Board to start my own law practice. I knew that I might starve, but I also knew that if I starved, it would be a starvation of the body and not of the soul. I knew that I would be free, and not a token or a cipher. Slavery does not have to be a matter of chains and whips. It can also be a captivity of the mind and a shackling of the spirit. Every person in this room can give testimony to that. We in the Federation have cut our teeth on it, and we never stop learning it. On a daily basis we continue to teach it to ourselves and each other, and we give it in strong doses to new recruits. This is why some, who do not understand our philosophy, call us militant.
In the practice of law my dream that I might do something worthwhile and useful came true. Again, Federation members and leaders helped and encouraged me. As part of my practice I frequently found myself representing blind persons. The textbooks tell us that American law is based on fairness and justice regardless of who is involved or what the circumstances may be. My job was to help make this principle applicable to the blind as well as the sighted.
When I represented blind people, my opponents were often major employers, airlines, departments of government, or agencies doing work with the blind. Although the approaches of these different entities might vary, their opinions about blindness usually did not. Whether it was an airline, an employer, a department of government, or a service agency for the blind, what they said about blindness was always just about the same. I felt right at home. It was exactly like being back at Notre Dame. The blind are courageous; they will get a good grade; no need to work; and plenty of meaningless assignments. Of course, when I insisted on equal treatment for my clients, attitudes hardened. Those across the table now thought the blind (and that included me) were ungrateful, unreasonable, and unrealistic--not courageous at all but just plain radical and militant.
If (after my experiences at Notre Dame and the Civil Aeronautics Board) anything else was needed to confirm me in my opinion that the National Federation of the Blind was not only needed but necessary, I found it in the practice of law. It is not that people mean to be unreasonable or that they are deliberately cruel. Rather, it is that they have the ancient fear of the dark and that they equate blindness with darkness, and darkness with evil and lack of ability to perform. Despite the progress we have made (and we have made a great deal of it), regressive attitudes about blindness are unfortunately still the norm.
The director of sales for Elsafe Hawaii, Incorporated (a company that markets safes), writes to say that he is selling a special safe for the blind. He says:
I would like to take this opportunity to acquaint you with this product, as it seems to be particularly well suited to the needs of the blind. This safe is operated by means of a combination that is entered via a keypad identical to a standard telephone keypad. There are no keys required for normal operation--and, therefore, nothing to lose. I would like to make the members of your organization aware of this product.
The conclusion is inevitable. This man believes that the blind, incompetent as we are, cannot keep track of the simplest objects--including keys. To help the unfortunate blind he wants to sell us special safes, but one wonders if he understands the implications of his own letter. If blind people cannot manage keys, how can we collect anything of sufficient value to put into his safe?
A radio commercial from the Corning Glass company for Corlon lenses opens with a man speaking to a coat rack. He does not possess Corlon lenses, so he mistakes the coat rack for an assistant in the eye doctor's office. As the commercial proceeds, the man causes a stir by almost sitting (inadvertently) on the lap of a lady in the waiting room. Without the lenses he cannot see her. Finally, this poor unfortunate (blinded by the absence of Corlon lenses) attempts to leave the office through a closet and becomes completely befuddled. Sight, according to this advertisement, is required to prevent a person from mistaking a coat rack for a human, from becoming lost in a closet, and from social blunders such as sitting in other people's laps. The inescapable conclusion is that blindness means almost total helplessness with a dash of buffoonery thrown in for good measure. I cannot recall having spoken recently to a coat rack, and I doubt that you can; nor do I think the reason why blind people sit in laps is usually that they do not know what they are doing. We are frequently exploited by companies which take advantage of the stereotypes about us to sell products, regardless of the truth of their claims or the harm they do.
The Konica Medical Corporation of Wayne, New Jersey, provides darkroom equipment to hospitals. Not long ago, Konica became aware of two blind people working as darkroom technicians in a Florida medical center. As a gesture of good will, Konica issued a press release about the valuable work of these two blind employees. The release said in part, "Visually Impaired Technicians Find Rewarding Careers at Medical Center." The article went on to say, "Imagine, if you can, what it would be like to live without the ability to see the world around you. Simple tasks like walking, eating, and reading would take on a whole new complexity."
As I studied this press release, I felt conflicting emotions. The headline tells us that blind people are at work in rewarding careers at a hospital; and even though I think blind people are often pushed toward the darkroom in the mistaken belief that the absence of ordinary light makes this job especially suitable for them, I recognize that darkroom work is a useful activity in a competitive occupation. But the body of the release ruins the headline and takes it all away. It declares that the blind have trouble with the most mundane tasks. Is it really so hard for us to walk? And how about eating? We don't seem to have had much trouble at this banquet. Of course, reading requires the use of alternative techniques such as Braille, recordings, sighted readers, and the like; but even here the situation is more a matter of coping than crying.
The message of the companies in private industry is based on a common theme. They say that blind people are different and less able than others. Even when these companies attempt to be positive and offer commendation, they say that we cannot do anything as well as the sighted and that we are very limited, very special, very deprived, very brave, and very subnormal. People with this kind of attitude refer to the blind and other groups as "handicapable" and "physically challenged," and they use other such cutesy euphemisms--euphemisms which are uncalled for, unhealthy, unhelpful, unconvincing, and unbecoming.
But if private industry is uninformed, having relatively little exposure to the blind and facts about blindness, surely the agencies doing work with the blind are more enlightened. One would think so, but as we have learned to our cost, the exact opposite is often the case. Consider, for instance, the South Carolina Commission for the Blind. That agency was brought into being in the mid-1960's through the efforts of Don Capps and the other leaders of the National Federation of the Blind of South Carolina. There was also assistance from beyond the borders of the state. Dr. Jernigan went to South Carolina to testify before the committee which the legislature had established to study the matter, and a leading South Carolina legislator came to Iowa to examine the programs which Dr. Jernigan was operating at the state Commission for the Blind. Justifiably the blind of South Carolina regard the Commission for the Blind as theirs.
Imagine, then, how they feel (and how responsible staff members at the South Carolina Commission feel) when an official publication of the Commission embodies the worst of the harmful stereotypes about blindness and is massively circulated throughout the state. They are understandably outraged. But let the brochure speak for itself. It consists of fifty-eight so-called "helpful suggestions for families and friends of blind persons," grouped under six headings as follows: "General," "With People," "In the House," "Traveling," "Guiding," and "At the Table." You may have thought that the proposition in the Konica news release (that eating for a blind person takes on special complexity) was simply to be dismissed as the chatter of a well- intentioned kook.
Listen, then, to the experts. Here is what the South Carolina brochure says about eating. Twelve "helpful suggestions" are listed under the heading "At the Table." I can do no better than give them to you as they come, word for word from the brochure. Here they are:
1. Maintain usual standards. 2. Tell him what is in the dish or on the plate which is being passed. 3. Don't pass things across in front of the blind person. Expect him to share in the passing of food. 4. Address the blind person directly so that he will know that he is being asked to pass something. 5. Mention what is on his plate so that he will know how to handle the food. 6. At first, if he wishes it, cut meat, and butter the bread. 7. Get in the habit of placing the meat to the front of his plate. It is easier to cut there. 8. Use good-sized napkins. 9. Don't make unnecessary comments when food is spilled. 10. If food is spilled on clothing, mention it casually so that it can be removed at once. 11. Ask the individual if he wants sugar or cream as these are difficult for him to serve himself unless the sugar is in lump form and the cream in individual pitchers. 12. When serving food, mention where it has been placed so the individual will not accidentally knock over a glass, paper cup, sherbet (sic), cup and saucer, etc.
Although these "helpful suggestions for family and friends" cannot, by any stretch of the imagination, be called subtle, the pamphlet does not say precisely what it means. Let me offer the writers at the South Carolina Commission for the Blind some "helpful suggestions" of my own. Let me say in clear statements what their pamphlet necessarily implies, and what (though they might deny it) I think they really mean. Keep in mind that they are talking about you and me. Here, then, is the truthful rewrite:
"Maintain usual standards." You do not need to be sloppy just because a blind person (who will undoubtedly be sloppy) is at the table.
"Don't pass things across in front of the blind person. Expect him to share in the passing of food." The blind person, just like a three-year-old, will be flattered if you let him help. If he isn't motivated by the flattery, you may have to prod him a little.
"Mention what is on his plate so that he will know how to handle the food." The blind person is probably not accustomed to eating in polite society and will likely not be able to identify food without your help. In any case, it is your responsibility, not the blind person's.
"Use good-sized napkins." Of course, the blind person will be messy and spill things, and you must look out for him or her. After all, it is your responsibility. Certainly the blind person is not in charge. You are.
"Ask the individual if he wants sugar or cream as these are difficult for him to serve himself unless the sugar is in lump form and the cream in individual pitchers." After all, the blind person can't ask for what he wants. You must take the initiative and take care of him.
When I first came across this brochure, I felt that I had gone back to Notre Dame, for it deals with something much more far-reaching than table talk. It embodies a whole way of life, an entire philosophy, and a complete cultural tradition. Through every line is the implicit assumption that somebody else is in charge and that even if the home and the table belong to the blind person, he or she is no longer in control, no longer the host, no longer an equal among equals. If you are still not convinced after all you have heard, consider these other samples from the pamphlet. Here they are exactly as they appear:
Talk and act naturally when with a blind person. Be frank. If he needs to shine his shoes, tell him so. Do not needlessly hurry a blind person. He will appreciate a calm approach to the matter in hand. Let him do everything possible for himself. In helping a blind person, do not make him conspicuous by the way you do things. Read his mail promptly and refrain from commenting on the content of the letter unless requested to do so. A second reading is often appreciated. Refrain from uncouthness in the presence of a blind person; he can hear you picking your teeth. Be alert but restrained; do not startle a blind person needlessly. Don't let a blind person's hand dangle in the air. If obviously it is his purpose to shake hands, grasp his hand and greet him. Don't limit your knowledge and interest in the blind generally to the blind mendicant who is sometimes a social parasite from choice. Do not patronize blind persons; they're 'just regular people' more than you realize. In conversation, address the blind person by name if he is the one expected to reply. Otherwise, he may not know the remark is being directed to him. Leave the possessions of a blind person where they have placed them unless you indicate specifically where they may find them. When traveling, describe interesting and beautiful scenes. Comment casually on sensations which blind persons can enjoy such as pleasant odors, a cooling breeze, the tinkle of a brook, etc. When taking an individual into a restroom indicate position of toilet, paper, washbowl, soap, and towels. When walking with a blind person, mention familiar landmarks so that he can get his bearings. Don't push a blind person ahead of you. Walk straight across the street. To do so diagonally may cause the blind person to trip when reaching the curb.
There you have in summation the philosophy of the South Carolina Commission for the Blind, and I believe that I have never in all of my life seen such a concentrated dose of distortion and false notions. Is it any wonder that the blind of the state are at war with the agency? How could it be otherwise?
I have no doubt that Don Capps and the other Federationists in South Carolina will teach the Commission a new way of looking at blindness. Our role may not be as limited or our temperament as passive as the South Carolina custodians think.
And, of course, it is not just South Carolina. There are other agencies in other states. Consider, for instance, the Mary Bryant Home for Blind Men and Women, located in Springfield, Illinois. Keep in mind, as I describe this facility to you, that it is not a place exclusively designed for the elderly. It is meant for the young as well. I feel it necessary to make this point since otherwise you might have difficulty believing what you are about to hear.
Therefore, I offer in evidence a letter dated March 23rd, 1987, to directors of rehabilitation agencies in a number of Midwestern states. The letter is signed by the Administrator of the Mary Bryant Home, who has the rather intriguing name of Frances Trees.
The letter says:
As you are aware, there comes a time in the lives of many visually impaired persons when they are unable to live independently. Some younger persons return to their homes following their education from a school for the visually impaired. In many cases, these young men and women are returning to homes where both parents are employed outside the home, and find themselves staying alone all day with nothing to do.
Some older persons no longer have a support system to aid and assist them to live independently. Many are sent inappropriately to nursing homes, where they are often endangered by not being able to protect themselves.
The Mary Bryant Home is a resource I wish you would consider when it comes to assisting individuals or families to deal with the issue of placement.... Currently our residents range in age from 24 to 96 years of age....
Sincerely, Frances J. Trees
As we examine what the Mary Bryant Home says about itself, remember that some of the residents are as young as twenty-four and that they are at the Mary Bryant facility because, as Administrator Trees says, "these young men and women are returning to homes where both parents are employed outside the home, and find themselves staying alone all day with nothing to do." Here are direct quotes from the packet of literature sent by Administrator Trees to the rehabilitation directors:
The building is rectangular in shape, which allows the residents to walk in a circular pattern for exercise--especially during inclement weather.... The home is arranged for convenience, on one level--no stairs.... Hand rails are installed throughout the home.... Our full and part-time staff provide round- the-clock service to the residents seeing to their health, safety, nutritional, recreational and emotional needs....
Leave of absence may be taken by residents for a short period of time providing the person taking the resident out sign a release of responsibility for injuries, accidents, or illnesses which might occur during the time they are away from the Mary Bryant Home.... Personal property, other than clothing, may be brought to the home only with the prior approval of the Administrator....
Food is prohibited in the resident rooms. BEER, WINE, AND OTHER INTOXICATING LIQUORS: Only when approved by the resident's physician please, and all items of this nature are to be kept at the Medicine Room, not in resident's room.... Incoming calls for residents may be received on the house phones, but it would cause less confusion and less interruption if these calls were to be made between the hours of 1:00 p.m. and 4:30 p.m.... Visiting hours are from 10:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Visits will be restricted when adversely indicated in the opinion of the resident's physician and so documented in the resident's clinical record....
Smoking in resident rooms is prohibited for both residents and visitors. Residents who are capable of handling smoking supplies with safety may smoke in the activity room, and we request visitors to smoke only in these areas also....
There is more, much more--but I think I have given you enough to make the point. Any self-respecting blind person faced with such an outrageous conglomeration of insulting rules, directives, requirements, and restrictions would walk out the door three minutes after arriving. Of course, most blind people that I know would resist going to such a facility in the first place. With all of the work we have done to change public attitudes, many people still feel that the blind should live in segregated homes, or sometimes nursing homes. In this connection I recently received the following letter:
My mother has been legally blind for about twenty years. During all that time she has been in a nursing home in Rochester, Indiana, and she is only forty-three years old. She has not in all that time had any training that the blind need, such as how to read Braille. The nursing home has been her only world because of her inability to get around. I feel my mother desperately needs help. She needs to be taught the things the blind need to function in society. She is much too young to be in a nursing home.
I wonder if the National Federation of the Blind can help in this matter. I don't have money or the know-how to assist her, and I was told maybe you could help. She's wanting to get out of the nursing home.
Twenty years of a person's life is a long time--and for this woman (and many others like her) those twenty years are a bleak memory of twisted hell--of desolation, pain, and lack of opportunity. We in the National Federation of the Blind are organized to make it absolutely certain that brochures like the one issued by the South Carolina Commission for the Blind stop being written, that facilities like the Mary Bryant Home either change their philosophy or go out of business, and that blind men and women have something better to do with their lives than go into nursing homes in their twenties. We are committed to changing public attitudes so that manufacturers will not believe that we cannot keep track of our keys, so that companies can no longer get away with picturing us as helpless and pathetic unless we have eyeglasses, and so that the public will no longer tolerate advertisements which exploit the concept that we are especially suited to work in the dark. We are determined to educate not merely the public at large but also our fellow blind and ourselves--and, of course, we are doing it.
On Saturday, May 23rd, of this year I did not physically leave Baltimore--but on that day (as I have so often done) I went back to Notre Dame. I was in a clothing store, trying on the very suit I am wearing tonight. At a critical juncture in the fitting, the salesman said to the sighted person who was with me: "Can you take off his shoes?" I suppose I don't need to tell you that I did not walk barefooted to Notre Dame. I removed my own shoes.
The changes we are making in public attitudes often seem slow and long in coming, but (like oxidation) they remove more trash and debris than the flames of spectacular conflagration. Since our founding in 1940 we have removed a tremendous amount of garbage--some by conflagration, and a great deal more by steady oxidation. We also (even those of us who have never been to Indiana) continue to return to Notre Dame--but (thankfully) the visits are becoming fewer and farther between.
For those of us who are blind, the world holds more promise today than ever before in history. It is not that incidents of the kind I have described are more numerous now than they formerly were. Rather, it is that we are more aware of them and more prepared to take appropriate action. Once they were universal. Now, they are only usual. But since 1940 there has been a new element, a new force which has changed the balances. You know what it is as well as I do. It is the National Federation of the Blind. As everyone in this room knows, we are thoroughly organized, fully aware of where we have been and where we are going, and absolutely unstoppable.
No power on earth can now send us back or keep us from going the rest of the way to freedom and first-class citizenship. We know it; our opponents know it; and the public at large is beginning to learn it. As we approach the end of the twentieth century, our mood is optimistic, and our hearts are joyous. My brothers and my sisters, let us march to the future together!
Sandusky, Ohio August 8, 1987
To The Braille Monitor
I have been listening to the discussions about federal rehabilitation funding for a while now, but there are some things that I, and probably others, do not understand or are having difficulty understanding. Maybe some clarification can be given on these points. These points are as follows:
1. How is the funding each state receives determined? a) Matching funds?
b) An outright grant? b-1) If a grant, what criteria are used to determine the size of the grant to each state? b-2) Is it the number of still active client files? b-3) Or is it the number of case files that are closed out each year?
2. If federal funding is, as you say, increasing, then why are the states (among them, Ohio) always crying that they are having a funding shortage?
3. If federal funding is increasing, why are the states blaming the federal government for funding problems?
In closing, it would be interesting to get some answers to these questions. Maybe the readers have more questions on this matter. And also it would be interesting to see how each state ranks concerning the two following areas: 1) education of blind and visually impaired people; and 2) rehabilitation efforts for blind and visually impaired people.
Baltimore, Maryland September 2, 1987
Dear Mr. ---:
I have your letter of August 8, 1987, concerning federal funding for rehabilitation, and I think the questions you raise are good ones. At present I will not try to give you detailed answers but an overview. Believing that you have raised points which many Monitor readers would like to have discussed, I shall try to find time in the reasonably near future to write an article about the matter. I will, that is, if too many things don't get in the way and crowd it out.
Question: "How is the funding each state receives determined? a) Matching funds? b) An outright grant? b-1) If a grant, what criteria are used to determine the size of the grant to each state? b-2) Is it the number of still active client files? b-3) Or is it the number of case files that are closed out each year?"
Answer: There is a section of the federal Rehabilitation Act under which funds are allocated to the states, and annual appropriations for that section have been steadily increasing-- well beyond the inflation rate. The yearly appropriation is now considerably over $1,200,000,000, and it will likely go to $1,300,000,000 for fiscal 1988. By federal law each state gets a portion of this appropriation, based on a complex formula determined by the state's population and average per capita income in relation to the population and per capita income for the country as a whole. The state must appropriate matching funds of about one dollar for every four federal dollars it is to receive. This is a general statement, and it must be emphasized that there are exceptions, refinements, and complexities in the law. The amount of federal money which each state receives (and has received for preceding years), as well as the state money used for matching purposes, is a matter of public record. Upon request the federal Rehabilitation Services Administration should provide the relevant information to anybody who asks for it. If there is any problem, a congressman or senator (or, for that matter, the National Office of the Federation) can see that the data are provided.
Contrary to the situation in the earlier days of the federal Rehabilitation Act, neither the number of cases (whether active or otherwise) nor the number of closures (whether real or imagined) has anything to do with the matter. The state gets its money on the basis of population and per capita income. This is true of the main funding section of the Act, but it is not true of cases that are to be financed from the Social Security trust fund. With respect to those cases, the state can be reimbursed one hundred percent for the money it has spent on clients it has successfully rehabilitated. In addition, the state can receive money to cover administrative costs for doing Social Security rehabilitations. Until the 1980's the state was limited in the amount of money it could receive as reimbursement for Social Security rehabilitations. For all practical purposes that limitation has now been completely removed.
Question: "If federal funding is, as you say, increasing, then why are the states (among them, Ohio) always crying that they are having a funding shortage?" Answer: Once the poet Robert Browning was asked what he had meant by something he had written ten years earlier, and he is said to have replied: "Ten years ago only God and Robert Browning knew what it meant. Now, only God knows." The facts are as we have repeatedly given them in the Monitor; yet, the rehabilitation agencies evermore loudly complain that they are being bankrupted and sent to the poor house by the present Administration in Washington. Maybe they feel that this is an easy way to avoid responsibility for poor results. Maybe they feel it is a way to get more money from the state legislatures or private donors. Maybe they feel it is a way to silence consumer complaints and be left alone to do whatever it is they do. Or maybe it is a combination of all of these things with a modicum of mystery and self-pity thrown in for good measure. In any case I am relatively certain of at least one thing. Robert Browning is dead and does not know why they do it.
Question: "If federal funding is increasing, why are the states blaming the federal government for funding problems?" Answer: It seems to me that the answer to the last question will serve for this one as well, thus furthering the cause of verbal economy and keeping within the spirit of the times.
As to the question of how each state rates with respect to education of blind people and rehabilitation of blind people, we can easily obtain the published data--especially, regarding rehabilitation; but it will be a great deal more difficult to factor in the exaggerated claims, the esoteric definitions of the word "rehabilitated," and the downright falsehoods. As I have already said, the issues you have raised merit a full-length article, which either I or (if I can get them to do it) somebody else should write.
Kenneth Jernigan, Editor
by Marc Maurer
The National Accreditation Council for Agencies Serving the Blind and Visually Handicapped (NAC) prints a magazine which it pretentiously calls "The Standard-Bearer." The Spring 1987 issue of "The Standard-Bearer" reports ". . . Three organizations had their accreditation status withdrawn: Kansas Division of Services for the Blind, Topeka, Kansas; Michigan School for the Bind, Lansing, Michigan; Rhode Island State Services for the Blind and Visually Impaired, Providence, Rhode Island. . . ." Of course, it comes as no surprise that NAC is willing deliberately to misrepresent the truth. This has been a custom of certain NAC personnel for many, many years. However, this item in "The Standard-Bearer" is a perfect example of NAC's dedication to excellence and truth. Contrary to the assertion in "The Standard-Bearer," these three agencies for the blind--Kansas Division of Services for the Blind, Michigan School for the Blind, and Rhode Island State Services for the Blind and Visually Impaired--did not (as NAC has said) have their accreditations "withdrawn." The truth is that NAC was unceremoniously informed that its presence in these agencies would no longer be tolerated.
NAC was kicked out. For NAC to assert that the agencies for the blind in question were unable to maintain NAC accreditation and that NAC therefore withdrew their accreditation goes beyond a simple distortion of the truth. But, then, when did NAC ever foster fairness or accuracy or evenhandedness?
NAC (the National Accreditation Council for Agencies Serving the Blind and Visually Handicapped) is desperately struggling to stay alive amid signs of its inevitable demise. In order to succeed in the business of accreditation, the agency doing the accrediting must be generally respected among professionals in its field, and it must have a good public reputation. NAC has neither of these essentials.
NAC's continuing slide toward ruin came squarely into focus recently in Mississippi. The occasion was a meeting of the Mississippi Board of Public Welfare, which took place on June 8, 1987, in a conference room at the headquarters plant of Mississippi Industries for the Blind. MIB is governed by the state welfare board and is not NAC- accredited.
The members of the American Council of the Blind in Mississippi have been trying for years to get MIB into the NAC camp of so-called "accredited agencies." They made an all-out effort in September of 1984. At that time the Mississippi Welfare Board invited representatives from NAC and the National Federation of the Blind to present opposing points of view on NAC accreditation for MIB, but NAC declined to appear. Its Executive Director, Dennis Hartenstine, said he did not want to engage in public debate over the merits of NAC accreditation. Presumably he thought NAC's merits would speak for themselves, and apparently they did since Mississippi Industries for the Blind did not apply for accreditation.
Writing in the November, 1982, issue of the Braille Forum (the publication of the American Council of the Blind) Grant Mack, who was then ACB President, announced that his organization was launching a campaign to get agencies to accredit with NAC. His words on behalf of NAC were stern, but his tone was desperate and defensive. He said in part: ". . . ACB will use all its power to encourage every agency to seek accreditation. Those agencies which have turned their back on accreditation in the past will no longer do so with impunity." Perhaps Grant Mack's words were more revealing than he knew, for if the ACB did indeed use "all of its power," the thing that was demonstrated was probably not what NAC or the ACB wanted to show. In short, NAC's attempts to "encourage" (what a twisted use of the word) agencies to accredit have utterly failed.
The June, 1987, meeting of MIB's board was a vintage confrontation. Sam Gleese, President of the NFB of Mississippi, was present to speak as a former MIB employee and current NFB state president. Melba Barlow, immediate past president of the NFB of Mississippi, attended as a current MIB employee. James Gashel represented the NFB National Office. E. U. Parker, known well as a strong Federation leader in Mississippi and nationally, addressed the meeting as a former member of the Mississippi Board of Public Welfare. As might be expected, this group opposed NAC accreditation for Mississippi Industries for the Blind.
The proponents of NAC accreditation were represented by Dr. Otis Stephens, current President of the American Council of the Blind, and Dennis Hartenstine, NAC's Executive Director. Mr. Hartenstine had apparently abandoned his no-debate rule. The current President of ACB's Mississippi affiliate was also present. Anybody who wanted to speak could first have eight minutes and (at a later time) two additional minutes for rebuttal. Following the speech- making the board considered the matter in public session, and board members could ask questions of anyone who had made a statement, either for NAC or against it.
Mr. Hartenstine was asked if NAC had withdrawn accreditation from any agency within the past twelve months. After attempting to evade the question, he admitted that NAC had not revoked the accreditation of any agency during the past year. Then, he tossed the ball to Dr. Stephens to give an answer to past accreditation withdrawals. Mr. Hartenstine seemed uncertain about the facts, or uncomfortable about revealing them.
Having considered the matter in full and open session, MIB's governing board voted unanimously not to seek accreditation. This decision was made despite a demand from Mississippi Vocational Rehabilitation for the Blind that accreditation be sought. The Mississippi rehabilitation agency, which controls the distribution of many federal and state grants to facilities such as MIB, was insisting that the Board of Public Welfare agree to use some form of accreditation as a prerequisite for receiving state and federal funds. Demands like these are a form of blackmail used by a few state agencies which want to support NAC.
But the Mississippi Board of Public Welfare would not be bullied into sacrificing its principles.
The board seemed pleased with MIB's reputation and national standing, and as the discussion proceeded, it was apparent that they felt that affiliation with NAC would not be a positive factor. In the end a decision had to be made, and the vote conclusively demonstrated that the NAC proponents had completely failed to make their case. They could not show the board a single convincing reason why MIB should affiliate with NAC. Even though NAC was represented by its brightest stars (Dennis Hartenstine, its Executive Director; and Dr. Otis Stephens, the national leader of the ACB) not a single vote could be mustered for accreditation--truly an indicator of NAC's lack of standing and prestige.
At the conclusion of the meeting Otis Stephens tried as best he could to put a positive face on the decision. He said that it was "kind of a standoff." Nobody won, according to Dr. Stephens, since the board voted not to peruse any form of accreditation at all. He indicated that he felt good to think that the vote was not really a rejection of NAC--just a rejection of accreditation.
He said it would really have been a loss if the board had voted to go with another accrediting group--such as CARF (the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities), for instance. This would have been a direct vote against NAC, Stephens said. His unstated conclusion seemed to be that no accreditation for MIB would be better than CARF. So Stephens decided that the outcome before MIB's board was a draw.
Agencies and organizations throughout the country will read the Mississippi results and understand. The National Braille Association has recently bowed out as a NAC sponsor, and other long- time NAC supporters are beginning to ask questions. Cash grants from the American Foundation for the Blind, once given so lavishly, are now in jeopardy, and other distress signals are going up. In the confrontation in Mississippi NAC's leaders could not save the day. In fact, it is becoming increasingly apparent that for NAC--nothing can save the day.
by Kenneth Jernigan
As I was traveling in an automobile on Wednesday, September 2, 1987, from Baltimore to Chicago, reading "The Observer," which is the newsletter of our Montana affiliate, I learned of the death of Keith Denton. Many Federationists of the present generation have probably never heard of Keith Denton, but he was a stalwart and a pioneer of the forties and fifties. The news of his death called up many memories.
He was the principal founder of our Montana affiliate, which was to join the Federation a decade later. Here in part is what the Montana Observer said about him:
In Memoriam--Keith E. Denton, 1899- 1987. The man who, in the beginning, did more than anyone else to form an organization of the blind in Montana, is dead. Keith Denton's heart just stopped beating on the evening of July 18, 1987. Funeral services were held on July 31 in Kalispell, where he and Eva (his helpmate for sixty-three years) had made their home the past fifteen months. He was an imposing figure, and he spoke with a voice that commanded attention....
Keith was a highway construction supervisor in 1941 when he lost his sight in a welding accident. He came as a reluctant student to the first summer school in 1945, which was then a camp school sponsored by the Lions Club. Before the close of that session a committee had been formed, with Keith as chairman, to draft a constitution and by-laws that would be adopted when a convention was held in 1946. He was elected first vice president at that convention and, within six months, became president. He served in that capacity until 1955, longer than anyone else to date....
Keith had other interests also. He was chairman of the Lakeside Schoolboard for a number of years and, maintaining his interest in highway matters, he was Secretary of the Highway 93 Association for many years.
And so another stalwart has departed from us. The best tribute we can pay him is to renew and continue our efforts toward improving life for our fellow blind.
This is what "The Observer" had to say, and I thought back to my first contacts with Keith. Montana (along with eight other states) joined the Federation in that year of explosive growth between the 1955 and 1956 conventions. San Francisco was the climax of that year with forty-five states represented and more people at the convention than we had ever had. It was the crest of the wave of the first great expansion of our movement, and the delegates were full of the joy of feeling what it meant to be a Federationist.
In those days I was traveling almost constantly throughout the country--organizing, recruiting, and helping lay the foundations for what was to come. The civil war of the late fifties was still in the future, and the mood was ebullient and upbeat.
It was in that atmosphere that I went to Montana shortly after the state had joined the movement and met and talked with Keith. He was obviously the leader of the affiliate and was full of plans for the future and pride for what had already been accomplished. I was in my late twenties, and he was in his late fifties; but our rapport and mutual understanding were almost immediate.
The Montana affiliate was (as it still is) operating a summer school for the adult blind at the University of Montana at Bozeman, and I went there to observe and also to attend the state convention. I have been back periodically through the years, and each time I have talked with Keith and found the conversations satisfying and rewarding.
He was never as active at the national level of our movement as I would have liked, and through the years I chided him gently for it, but this in no way jarred our relationship. And make no mistake--he was a Federationist. Whatever else, he was a Federationist. Like so many others of that earlier generation, he is now gone, but his memory must not fade from the national conscience of the movement. He had integrity and spirit and guts, and he fought as hard as he could with the tools that he had and the resources available to him to make life better for blind people. He had less opportunity than many, but he seemed to understand almost instinctively that the road to improvement required collective action by the blind. Of such as these has the Federation been built.
by Arie Gamliel
(When Arie Gamliel was a teenager, he moved from this country to Israel, where he finished high school and earned a bachelor's degree at Hebrew College in Jerusalem. In 1976 he returned to the United States and finished a master's degree at Boston College. He attended his first NFB convention in 1971 at Houston and has been an ardent Federationist ever since. In the early 1980's he lived in New York City and was President of the New York City Chapter. In 1983 he went back to Israel and has lived there ever since. He is now Coordinator of Rehabilitation Counseling for Blind Children at the Center for Child Development in Jerusalem.)
Hanni is a vivacious, carefree sixteen-year-old young lady. I've known her for over two years. She is into all of the typical activities engaged in by her peers. She has the same concerns and problems as other teenagers.
Yet, in two respects, one positive and one negative, Hanni is perhaps a- typical. At the age of eleven, for one thing, a series of operations culminated in a partial loss of vision. The response of the professionals and others who worked with her was an attempt to encourage or require (depending on how you look at it) her to use her remaining vision at all costs. She used an assortment of visual aids when it suited her, and at times she tried to use nothing. It goes without saying that she was not required or even encouraged to learn Braille or the use of a cane.
On the other hand Hanni had a burning ambition. She loved babies and little children. From the first moment I met her she stated, repeatedly and emphatically, that she intended to become a nursery school assistant or "nanny." As far as I was concerned I promised her that I would do whatever I could to help her achieve her goal, and I gave her my blessing.
Hanni took my blessing graciously, but she didn't need it. She convinced her school counselor to procure her a place in a Jerusalem school specializing in preparing kindergarten teachers and nannies. This was straightway done. The school knew she had a vision problem and didn't seem to make a fuss about it. All seemed well and good.
But then a complication occurred. Before entering high school blind Israeli children must undergo a five-day evaluation at the country's main rehabilitation facility located just outside the port of Haifa. The purpose of the evaluation is a) to determine what, if any, academic aptitudes exist, and b) to determine the level of adjustment to blindness, be it physical or psychosocial of the youngster. As far as Hanni was concerned we already knew what her vocational inclination was, and we even knew where and how she intended to pursue it. So, to that extent an evaluation was not required. I did hope that an evaluation of her knowledge, or lack thereof, of alternative techniques would result in a recommendation for her to learn Braille and cane travel. In that vein did I advise Hanni and the staff of the facility (which incidentally calls itself a Lighthouse).
Hanni was evaluated and seemed to take it in stride. About three weeks later I was invited to a conference to review the findings regarding her and a couple of other students within my jurisdiction. I was cordially greeted by the head of the "Lighthouse," the head of the evaluation unit, and the staff psychologist; and we got down to business. In due time Hanni came up for review. The evaluation was more or less objective cataloging perceived strengths and weaknesses, and her vocational objective was noted. Then suddenly the bombshell fell. The recommendation suggested was that Hanni attend the Jerusalem School for the Blind in order to further a positive adjustment to blindness. I couldn't believe it, and I said as much in no uncertain terms. What about the vocational objective duly noted.
What about the school to which she had already been accepted. Herein, I was told, was precisely the problem. "You see," said the chief evaluator, "Hanni would be frustrated. It is our responsibility to encourage her to be realistic in the choice of her profession." I was incredulous, although perhaps I shouldn't have been. I responded first of all by saying that we had no business protecting Hanni or anyone from frustration, assuming of course that such would be her lot, which as far as I was concerned was not a foregone conclusion. Besides, said I, what on earth is unrealistic about Hanni's vocational objective? "Come on now," said the chief. "Do you really think a person with a visual impairment can work with small children? Even if she could, do you think people would hire her and entrust their children to her?" I responded that, in my innocence, I thought that the very reason for our existence as professionals was to help blind people in precisely such situations. We should, I said, help them develop techniques if any were needed. And we should be advocates for the abilities of the people we serve, not reinforcers of negative stereotypes.
"That's all very nice," was the response. "But we have to deal with the world as it is. We can't change the way things are. And as things are now, people with a visual impairment will never find employment as nannies even if they could function as such, so that's that."
It seemed rather obvious that whatever eloquence and logic I could muster would not cut the mustard with these people. At any event a fundamental philosophical problem existed which would not be solved at one stroke. So I took a more subtle and yet more direct approach. I quashed the report. I hid it so deep in a file that even I lost it.
Now surely the point here is not what I did, for I did what any Federationist would have done. Rather, a two-fold concern is apparent. First, one cannot help but speculate as to how many partially and totally blind people, of whatever age, are prevented from achieving a lifelong dream because someone who supposedly knows all thinks the dream is merely a fantasy. We all know that there are far too many. Second, with all of our affirmative action and our emphasis on human rights, professionals still exist who can exercise their brand of enlightened despotism on people who merely seek self-actualization. Any blind person with any amount of awareness has seen this so-called "enlightenment" for what it really is and knows what it does. For this very reason we have organized, and for this very reason we have much work before us.
Hanni was lucky. What might have been a serious obstacle turned out to be of no consequence, and she started her new school year in the fall alongside her classmates. Apart from regular adjustment problems to her new school, Hanni seemed to be doing fine. Yet, even if she didn't know it, her stigma as a visually impaired girl shadowed her.
The Jerusalem Center for the Prevention of Blindness, which I serve as a consultant, was dissatisfied with the results of their referrals to the aforementioned Lighthouse. They organized a special staff meeting to discuss the matter and invited me. We discussed a number of problematical cases, and I brought up the matter of Hanni. After I'd finished, the clinic's eye doctor said: "Well, I must say that in that respect they have a point."
"Which is what?" I said incredulously. "That it is a huge responsibility to
permit a person with a vision problem to undertake such a course of study." She further elaborated that the "burden" of the professional was a double agony. For one thing, she said, she as a doctor was constantly being asked by schools, parents, and just about anybody else for that matter, whether a blind child could function in a given situation, for example whether the particular vision problem of a child would permit or prevent participation in a given outdoor activity. I couldn't help interjecting at this point.
"Tell me, Israela," I said, addressing her by her first name, as is customary. "You are an eminent eye doctor. As an ophthalmologist, what do you know about the alternative techniques of blindness." She asked me to clarify the term, which was obviously new to her. So I said: "Do you know of, or have you had any experience with, the techniques used by blind people in order to function without sight?"
"I know nothing at all of such things," she replied.
"In that case, I said, "how can you in good conscience permit yourself to be regarded as an authority on a subject about which by your own admission you know nothing?" She conceded to the point but felt that it was overridden by her public responsibility for the well being and safety of her charges. Again I interposed, wondering whether we were mandated to be responsible for our consumers, or whether it was rather our duty to foster and encourage the responsibility of our consumers.
She replied: "The bottom line is the other agony I wish to mention. How many parents would permit their little ones to be placed in the charge of a visually impaired nanny? I know I wouldn't."
I was truly dismayed. This young ophthalmologist had been particularly gracious and helpful to me throughout our working relationship. On previous occasions, both official and otherwise, she had expressed sympathetic responses to my comments on blindness. She seemed truly to understand until we got to the bottom line. Wisely has it been observed that when you dig beneath the surface and get to where we really live, down at the gut level, beneath the veneer and polish, a hard core of prejudice and fear abides; and ophthalmologists are, to say the least, not immune. I didn't let the matter rest. I spoke my views as politely and as forcefully as possible. I also resolved to keep a close watch on Hanni. I resolved that as far as I had anything to do with it, she would not encounter negative reinforcements.
But one thing I did not count on were self-induced obstacles. During a routine consultation which I had with her school advisor, the subject of alternative techniques came up. The advisor asked whether I thought it wise that Hanni learn Braille and typing. I replied that not only was it wise, but that it was essential. The advisor expressed surprise at this. She related that Hanni had stated that professionals with which she was involved had stressed the need for her to rely on her residual vision rather than use devices for the blind. I related that I had several times expressed my fundamental objection to this approach to those professionals and to Hanni. The advisor seemed quite delighted. She stated that Hanni quite obviously encountered difficulties with print, and she was sure that her overall academic performance would improve if she had alternative techniques at her disposal. We were, needless to say, pleased with each other's approach. She asked me if I would state my views to Hanni. I said I wouldn't mind in the slightest and asked if she would back me up. She was quite amenable, and we sent for Hanni. We told her that she was doing very well and that all her teachers were impressed with her abilities in working with children. We then emphasized the need for her to foster and develop academic skills, specifically by learning to type and to read and write Braille. Hanni listened in silence, and then asked: "Why do I need to learn Braille. I can see some."
I said, "For one thing, everyone who has any kind of vision problem ought to know Braille as a matter of principle."
"But shouldn't I use print also?" she asked.
I said: "You should use anything you can use. You should have as wide a range of possibilities as you can develop. How well do you use print now?"
"Not too well," she said. "Therefore," I said, "be prudent and learn Braille to help you now and to cover all eventualities." We both stressed that her vision was not a thing to rely on exclusively.
"Hanni," said the advisor, "you look overwhelmed."
"I'm all right," she said, "but I need to think this through." After Hanni had left the room, her advisor wondered if we had been wise to bring up the issue of Braille.
"Well," I said, "she chose a profession knowing full well the difficulties and risks involved. If she thinks she's able to take such a responsibility upon herself, she's got to know the whole score."
"I hope she can stand it," said the advisor.
"She's tough stuff," I said. "Besides, she hasn't much of a choice."
Later that week I got a call from Hanni. "Am I going to go totally blind?" she asked.
"Probably not," I said.
"But if I have to learn Braille, doesn't that mean I'm going to go blind?" I again explained that one thing didn't necessarily have anything to do with the other. "And do you think it's important?"
"I do," I said.
"After we talked at school I was depressed for a while," she said. "But I think I'm getting over it."
I again reiterated that I had every confidence in her, which seemed to cheer her up quite well.
Again, one is driven to speculate as to what might have happened if Hanni had been encouraged to learn Braille as a child. Is it not possible that if she had been brought up to regard herself as a blind person with some sight, rather than a sighted person with a visual impairment, she might be even more capable than she is now? And Hanni is a particularly resilient person. How many partially sighted people don't have the strength and stamina to withstand the pressure of traditional norms and values.
A day or so later I was accosted by Hanni's psychologist--yes, she has a psychologist. "You spoke to Hanni about learning Braille," she accused.
"Guilty," I said. "So what."
"She's depressed," she cried, "and she doesn't want to see me anymore."
I should say parenthetically that, knowing the psychologist, I could well imagine Hanni's not wanting to see her anymore, but the Braille was surely not the culprit. Being tactful, I said: "How do you know that the Braille is to blame?"
"I can feel what the poor girl is going through," she said. "I wonder how I'd feel if someone told me I needed to learn Braille.
I should have been consulted before such a traumatic subject was raised."
Good luck, Hanni. You're going to need every bit of it.
(The following address by Curtis Chong, President of the National Federation of the Blind in Computer Science, was delivered at a conference called Speech Tech '87. It is reprinted from the Summer, 1987, Computer Science Update, the publication of the National Federation of the Blind in Computer Science.
When the blind discuss speech technology, we are not thinking about methodologies which will convert the spoken word into something that a computer will understand. Our problem is not that we cannot enter data into the system. Rather, when it comes to computers and methods of using them without sight, we often turn to speech synthesis as a possible method for giving us information about the contents of a computer's video display. In other words, our concern is getting the information out in the most efficient and effective manner, not putting it in.
The device used most often by blind people to extract information from a computer is the speech synthesizer. The device attached to the computer via a parallel or serial connector, or it can be an internal board. Wheather it is an external unit or an internal board, the synthesizer's primary function is to convert a string of ASCII text into a series of discrete sounds called phonemes. When these phonemes are combined together, the sound that emerges strongly resembles human speech.
Most of the synthesizers on the market today do not sound quite human. The voice that is generated often exhibits a robotic quality. nevertheless, speech synthesizers have played a major role in providing blind people with independent access to computers. Today, you can find thousands of blind people who use speech synthesizers of one kind or another in conjunction with a computer.
Of course, when blind people use a computer, they need more than a speech synthesizers. Something in the computer needs to control the flow of data to the synthesizer so that the blind person will receive a sufficient amount of information about the contents of the video display. This is typically referred to as a screen review program. Screen review programs can do much to overcome the shortcomings of various speech synthesizers. However, it is not my intention to discuss these programs here. Rather, I am interested in pointing out those characteristics that we as blind consumers would find helpful in any speech synthesizer that is being marketed.
For the most part, speech synthesizer manufacturers have not designed their products specifically for use by the blind. As a result, no one speech synthesizer on the market today can be classified as the "ideal synthesizer" for the blind. Nevertheless, thousands of blind people throughout this country use a wide variety of speech synthesis systems, imperfect though they may be. Based on our accumulated experience with these systems, we have formulated some ideas about improvements that we think need to be made to the various speech synthesizers on the market today.
Our primary concern with respect to speech synthesizers is in the area of employment. Our aim as consumers is to maximize the amount of information that a blind person is able to extract from the synthesizer. Moreover, we strive to make it possible for the blind person to initiate various synthesizer functions in the least possible amount of time. In other words, the name of the game as far as we are concerned is productivity.
Perhaps the most obvious factor for productivity improvement with respect to a speech synthesizer is speed. Some synthesizer developers seem to adopt the approach with respect to speed that: "If I can't understand it, it's talking too fast."
In fact, as far as blind computer users are concerned, the faster the synthesizer talks the better. It is not reasonable for an engineer (who does not use the synthesizer as the primary tool for obtaining information) to listen to a unit and determine that it is talking too fast. The odds are that an experienced blind computer use will be able to comprehend audio output from a synthesizer at a rate far beyond that which is comfortable to the synthesizer developer. The design philosophy should be to get the synthesizer talking at a rate that none of the engineers can understand and then to make it talk even faster. Of course, the synthesizer should be equipped with a speed control so that those users who prefer to listen to slower speech will be able to do so. In other words, the synthesizer should be able to cater to a wide variety of listeners: from the slower beginner to the high-speed expert.
Of course, it goes without saying that a synthesizer should be made to sound as human-like as possible. This is not to say, however, that speed should be sacrificed in favor of a human-like voice. Many blind users of speech synthesizers have opted for a more robotic sound from a lower-priced synthesizer simply to get more speed and responsiveness from the unit. However, sighted employers and/or co-workers often wrongly determine the value of a speech synthesizer solely on the basis of how human the speech sounds. They do not realize that the synthesizer manufacturer may have sacrificed speed (a more important factor as far as the blind person's productivity is concerned) in favor of human-like sound.
In addition to being able to talk at a fast rate, a speech synthesizer must be responsive. It must be able to execute commands instantaneously without requiring a person to wait for the speaking of words or phrases to be completed. One of the most frustrating things that a synthesizer can do is to keep on talking after the operator has extracted all of the meaningful information. For example, suppose I instruct a synthesizer to read line 5 of the video display. Supposed that the first word I hear convinces me that I'm not interested in line 5. Suppose, further, that I decide that I really want to read line 12 because the first word I heard on line 5 has given me enough information to know that line 12 is the line I am really interested in. I should be able to cause the synthesizer to read line 12. The reading of line 5 should be stopped, and the reading of line 12 should start immediately.
Most of the synthesizers in today's market are not as responsive as we would like. The most glaring example of this deficiency is the DECTalk synthesizer which, undoubtedly, has the most human-like voice on the market. However, it is really a drag for the quick and experienced blind computer user. When the user requests the DECTalk to stop speaking, the unit typically speaks one or two words before speech is terminated. In other words, the DECTalk can hardly be considered to be free of the inertia which plagues most speech synthesizers. (To do the DECTalk justice, it is one of those speech synthesizers that can be listened to for hours at a time without fatigue.)
One inertia-free system that we know about is the SynPhonix hardware/software system for the IBM PC and compatibles marketed by Artic Technologies of Troy, Michigan. Essentially, this system consists of a SynPhonix internal speech board packaged with the necessary software to drive the synthesizer. This system combines the virtues of speed and inertia-free operation to produce an environment which really permits a blind person to build up speed using a computer. Although the SynPhonix speech board does produce a sound that is somewhat mechanical in nature, this short-coming is more than offset by the productivity gains that the speed and responsiveness of the system provide. We have been able to use the SynPhonix speech board with screen review systems that support it, and we have found that very little drag is experienced with the unit. Another responsive synthesizer is the Echo, marketed by Street Electronics. Although the Echo only has two speaking rates (slow and fast), it has been used by a large number of blind persons interested in operating talking computer systems.
What are other important characteristics in a well-designed synthesizer?
Certainly, the synthesizer would have a very large buffer. This would enable it to handle almost anything that the computer could throw at it without having an overflow situation occur.
If, for some reason, the synthesizer's buffer should become full, there should be some mechanism (preferably hardware) which the synthesizer can use to tell the computer to stop sending data. In the vernacular of the industry, the synthesizer should be able to "hardware handshake" with the computer using a variety of software handshaking protocols: XON/XOFE, ENQ/ACK, etc. at the user's discretion. (In those situations where handshaking is not available, the need for a large buffer becomes even more critical.)
If the synthesizer is an external unit, it should be able to interface with the computer through one of two communications ports: serial or parallel. The interface should be as standard as possible to minimize the necessity for the creation of specially-wired cables. This is a particularly significant problem in the case of RS232 serial communication which, as everybody knows, is not really as "standard" as it could be.
If the synthesizer is an internal speech board, our conception of an ideal unit would be that all text-to-speech functions would be performed on the board itself. There should be no software on the computer to perform speech synthesizer functions, as is currently the case with the SynPhonix speech board. As far as the system is concerned, when it communicates with the synthesizer, it should be sending data through one of the standard communication interfaces. In other words, the speech board should appear to the system as a serial or parallel communications interface.
The synthesizer should be designed so that the speech rate, volume, filtering, pitch and tone quality of the speech can all be varied separately, both through hardware controls and through software (codes sent to the synthesizer from the computer). (Of course, hardware controls for these factors are not as desirable on an internal speech board.) It should be possible to about the speech, either by pushing a button on the synthesizer itself or by sending the synthesizer a "silence" command. The silencing function should be performed immediately, regardless of any other work that the synthesizer is performing.
The synthesizer should not be delayed by a repetitive string of carriage returns, as is the case with the Votrax Personal Speech System (PSS). As a matter of fact, the synthesizer should not pause at all when receiving a carriage return but should, instead, regard the carriage return as the signal to begin speaking. (This seems to have been adopted as a standard by a few synthesizer manufacturers.)
It should be possible to "download" a dictionary of exceptional words to the synthesizer. This would enable the user to correct the pronunciation of certain words that the synthesizer may not be handling correctly.
If the synthesizer is external to the computer, it would be nice if it could be operated on standard batteries so that it could be connected to a lap-top computer. These computers are enjoying increasing popularity, both among the sighted and among the blind. However, as far as the blind are concerned, no one has yet designed a truly usable battery-powered external speech synthesizer. At this stage, the most promising work, in terms of access to PC-compatible lap-tops, has been done by the Artic Technologies people. An internal speech board is currently available for the Toshiba lap-top computer. I particularly enjoy using the Toshiba lap-top with the Artic speech board because I don't have to lug an extra piece of equipment around with me to make my computer talk.
It goes without saying (but I'll say it anyway) that the speech generated by a synthesizer should be clear and understandable--even at the highest rater of speech. It is true that speech that is clear and understandable to one person may be totally unintelligible to another. The determination of whether or not a synthesizer is producing clear and understandable speech is still a rather subjective judgment. However, before a synthesizer manufacturer releases a synthesizer to the marketplace, every effort should be made to ensure that the speech is acceptable to a wide cross section of the population. It would be helpful if experienced blind synthesizer users could be involved in the evaluation of speech synthesizers before they go to market.
Although the blind population does not represent a majority of the speech synthesizer market, it certainly will represent a significant portion of that market. Therefore, it is helpful for synthesizer manufacturers to give some thought and attention to factors that will help the blind when developing speech synthesizers. Blind people have grown accustomed to the increased access to computers which today's speech synthesizers have afforded; and we will not sit idly by, hoping that synthesizer manufacturers will, somehow, understand our needs. We will, instead, use all available options to make the developers aware of our requirements.
Information USA, the first official American cultural exchange exhibition to tour the Soviet Union since 1979, welcomed 212,813 visitors in Moscow this summer from June 4 to July 8. The exhibition was displayed in a central pavilion on the grounds of the Park of Economic Achievements of the USSR.
Attendance averaged 7,600 people per day, with most visitors waiting in line two to four hours. Once inside, the Soviet visitors gathered around each of the twenty-four Russian-speaking American guides, tried out touch screen video programs, experimented with computer software, and listened with headphones to recordings--all designed to show how Americans use communication technology in their daily lives.
So what does all of this have to do with us, and why write about it in the Braille Monitor? There was a Braille display, and the print was converted into Braille by NFBTRANS (the National Federation of the Blind's Braille translator). This was the only Braille translator used in the exhibit, and it excited a considerable amount of favorable comment.
The President of the National Federation of the Blind of the District of Columbia--Harold Snider--trained U.S. Information Agency personnel in the use of NFBTRANS and the Braille printer. He received letters of appreciation from those in charge of the exhibit.
(This article appeared in the July 1, 1987, Union, New Jersey, Citizen. It emphasizes once again the fact that leaders and members of the National Federation of the Blind participates broadly in community affairs.)
UNION--Florence Blume of this township recently received the GFWC Junior Women's Club of Connecticut Farms twelfth annual Woman of the Year Award at its installation dinner.
"This award is presented each year to an outstanding resident of Union. It not only recognizes achievement but also that spirit of volunteerism and sharing with others in an effort to make a change for the better," relates a club spokesperson.
Mrs. Blume has lived in Union for eight years with her husband Tom and their children, Tommy and Melissa. She has been a member of the National Federation of the Blind of New Jersey since 1970 and has served as that organization's President for the last year.
Flo served on the State Advisory Board of the New Jersey Commission for the Blind from 1980-83; and from 1980-82 she served on the Board of the Library for the Blind and Handicapped in Trenton.
Currently she is serving a three-year term as appointed volunteer member of the Union County Advisory Board for the Handicapped. In this capacity she has worked on a job expo concerning job training possibilities, and helps evaluate new county plans to assure accessible entrances and barrier free facilities. In May of this year Mrs. Blume received her master's degree in social work from Rutgers University.
The GFWC Junior Woman's Club of Connecticut Farms Woman of the Year Award was presented to Florence Blume "in recognition of her tireless efforts to promote and protect the right of all individuals to achieve their fullest potential."
by Tom Stevens
As a leader in the National Federation of the Blind for more than a decade, one of the questions I have wrestled with is that of how to best utilize time. It passes, whether I want or not. Thus, the only way I can get the grasp on it is to hop on the conveyor belt.
If I can regard time as a conveyor belt, traveling at a constant speed for a finite distance, I can get a grasp on how I can take advantage of its passing. Of course, I might walk beside it, using my own energy. Or I can stand still and let it pass by, with no possibility of my using it to read a destination.
Some people say to me that they do not have time to recruit Associates. I am often tempted to ask if they missed the last meal? Or when they last missed a meal. The point is that the business of eating is given priority, very high priority, in our lives. We make certain that the day contains stops for meals, at least three.
I happen to think that the search for members-at-large (Associates) can have a high priority at least one time in our lives each year. Eating has priority at least a thousand times annually. No, I am not suggesting that you miss a meal to plan to recruit Associates. But you could do so very effectively, if you would like.
When I boarded the plane to fly from Kansas City to Phoenix, I had committed a specific block of time for that flight--for arrival at the airport and for travel from airport to hotel. In fact, I had begun planning well in advance by sending in my convention reservation, by calling airlines for the most economical fares, etc.
When I attend a chapter meeting, I plan time for traveling to and from, as well as estimating a block of time for the meeting and inevitable chatting afterwards. I also expect to participate in the meeting and to accept responsibility for certain tasks or to participate in certain events. It is time I set aside from the finite amount of time granted to me for each day, for a week, and for my life.
As a leader, I also know that there are three major priorities: public relations, membership, and funding. Almost everything we do can be placed in one of those categories, and they are often so interwoven that they may be indistinguishable.
For me, Associate recruiting is a part of every one of those. It does several things. First, it announces the existence of the National Federation of the Blind to the potential Associate. Since the information has an address that is both local and national, two points of reference are provided.
Do you find that friends are interested in what you do? I do. Many of them have never been more than a hundred miles from home. Even at that, the fact that I travel here and there is regarded with interest. Additionally, they are interested in the Coulter day care case of in the Whittenberg child custody case or in the advocacy for an identification card for persons who are not licensed to drive. Frankly, they may find us doing a task they wished they had done.
As for funding, there are three levels at which it is needed. These are: local, state, and national. When I order brochures and speeches from our National Office, I am actually seeing the result of Associate dollars at work. The benefit is local, though the dollars are sent to Baltimore. Our dollars work in scholarships, and that money is spent right in our state. Thus, by promoting a program at our national level, I actually economize the costs and make it possible to assist someone in our state in many other ways. The Associates I take time to recruit benefit people everywhere, including people in my state and community.
Take time once a year to establish an Associate recruiting plan. That may take a couple of hours in your year of 8,760 hours. After your plan is developed, a few minutes periodically will help you reach the goal of a read or a blue or a red-white-blue ribbon. After all, you will have deserved to wear it. Here are some ideas:
1. Write down the names of people you know and their addresses and phone numbers. Use your Christmas card list and lists of relatives, teachers, fellow travelers, and even service clubs.
2. Write them a letter explaining a project in which you have interest and how Associates might assist. One page in length is usually enough. Then, write a second letter on a slightly different subject, but with the same goal. If you need or want help in writing the letters, just ask. Have them typed, leaving off the salutation, date, and signature. Then have them copied. Type in the salutation unless you use "Dear Folks," which is okay if family or close friends. Add the date and signature, insert into a business envelope (including a brochure, Associate form, and a self-addressed envelope), and mail. Wait for the postman to bring news. But while waiting, you can also call the person and ask if they received it and if they can help you. That will raise your response rate to fifty or so percent.
3. In about three weeks mail the second letter to those who did not respond to the first. Again, calling helps responses.
4. Always, always send a "thank you" letter. Again, give them some feedback on how they may have helped.
5. Mail the Associates to our National Office. Do not wait more than a week. To hold them increases chance of loss and deprives the Federation of the use of the money.
6. You may have spent tow or three hours preparing for an annual effort. That would be an incredibly small part of your available annual hours. Maybe every week you spend a few minutes, or maybe you do it all in a surge. Be alert to potential Associates. Be ready to inform them about us.
There is no big secret to the success you can have as an Associate recruited. To gain moderate success (to wear a read or blue ribbon), plan for it. Earn it. You deserve it--or will.
If you think you are beaten, you are:
If you think you dare not, you don't;
If you like to win but think you can't,
It's almost a cinch you won't.
If you think you'll lose, you're lost;
For out in the world we find,
Success begins with a fellow's will;
It's all in the state of mind.
If you think you're outclassed, you are;
You've got to think high to rise;
You've got to be sure of yourself;
Before you can ever win a prize.
Life's battles don't always go
To the stronger or faster man;
But soon or late the man who wins
Is the man who thinks he can.
by Homer and Marci Page
Sometimes it is said that there is no real difference between the National Federation of the Blind and the American Council of the Blind--that they both after all, just want to do what is best for the blind and that the differences are only personality conflicts. It is suggested that the two organizations should "get together" and "stop confusing legislators and the public." One need only attend an NFB convention and an ACB convention to learn what the real differences are.
We attended the 1987 annual convention of the American Council of the Blind from July 10 through 18. We registered for the convention, attended the board of directors meeting, sat in on many of the special interest groups, and were present at all of the general sessions. We partook of the organized hospitality, went on a tour to the Santa Monica Center for the Partially Sighted, and attended the banquet. We sat in on the legislative and membership workshops and attended a briefing for the first-time attendees. We visited with other convention attendees, we counted the number of persons who participated in each event; and we made a tape recording of each meeting, workshop, or session that we attended. We studied the program, the press kid, and a daily convention information sheet which was published by the convention organizers. We kept a daily diary and continually checked and rechecked our observations. The report which follows attempts to organize all of the information into a single, understandable statement. However, there is no substitute for actually attending an American Council of the Blind convention. We recommend that everyone do it--once.
After checking in at the Los Angeles Airport Hilton hotel on Friday evening, July 10, and taking our bags to our room, we came downstairs to the lobby to find what information we could about registration and the convention. We inquired of a desk clerk whether he know where there might be an information desk for the American Council of the Blind convention. Her replied that he did not know but that the assistant manager might. The assistant manager said that, yes, she did know, but that it was on the second floor and that we should use the elevator. She then said, "Let me take you. We can use the elevator. I am afraid for you to use the escalator."
Of course, we have grown accustomed to this type of response on the part of hotel personnel and others who are not familiar with the capabilities of the blind. We would not have thought anymore about it but for a paragraph that we came across in the press materials distributed by the ACB organizers. It read: "Preparation for a convention of 3,000 blind people--Hotel accommodation and consideration, Brailling room numbers, elevators, menus, soda machines, etc.; designation guide dog 'relief areas,' hotel staff sensitivity training, coordination of hundreds of community volunteers to serve as sighted guides, planning tours, and much more."
We could not help but wonder what had been said to the hotel staff during their sensitivity training sessions that would have made them fearful for the safety of the blind persons who were coming to the hotel.
We were further alerted to a pattern of custodialism by a passage which was printed prominently in the convention program. It read: "Note: Due to heavy traffic turning at intersections, and construction that may be in progress during the convention, it is recommended that blind persons not walk to restaurants without some sighted assistance." (Page 9, 1987 ACB convention program.)
We went out to check the streets surrounding the hotel. There was, indeed, some construction being done on the front of the hotel, and there was a busy urban street running in front of the hotel. However, it was, by no stretch of the imagination, especially dangerous or difficult.
There was a briefing for first-time attendees. We learned that sighted guides were available to help in many ways. One could, if he desired, call a guide who would come to his room and take him wherever he might wish to go. One could have a sighted guide to accompany him on a tour. However, this would require that the blind person desiring such a service purchase a ticket for his sighted guide. It might be possible to avoid this expense, however, since there would be provided free of charge one sighted guide for every three persons going on the Disneyland tour.
This arrangement created some tense moments. Several days later a volunteer told us that Bob Acosta, the President of the ACB of California, was really angry because the van carrying the sighted guides has gotten lost, and a bus load of blind persons had shown up at Disneyland without their sighted guides. The Disneyland people had called Mr. Acosta. "They were really mad," she said. She went on to say that she had to go out to the swimming pool and grab anyone that she could who could see and rush them over to Disneyland.
Late in the week we were waiting for an elevator to take us to the lobby. A woman was waiting with us for the elevator to come. She asked if we know if the guides were still available. She said that she had tried to call for one, but no one had answered the phone. She said that she had not had anything to eat that day. It was early afternoon when we saw her. She needed to find someone who could take her to a restaurant.
The pattern continued throughout the week. We were served our salads at the banquet but found that there was no salad dressing on the table. We soon learned why. The waiter came around and put dressing on everyone's salad. It was not an additional surprise that when the entree arrived, it was beef tips, requiring no cutting.
The custodialism followed us to the airport. During the Saturday morning general session someone asked if arrangements had been made to have helpers at the airport. Bob Acosta got to the microphone and assured everyone that airport personnel had been alerted to the needs of the ACB travelers. When we got off the shuttle at the airport, we were greeted by a group of persons who identified themselves as representatives of Travelers' Aid. We were able, after some conversation, to convince them that we preferred to handle our luggage alone and find our flight without their assistance.
The pre-registration application requested that the applicant indicate his level of vision. At the "partial vision" level he was asked if he would need assistance from a sighted guide. There was no such question for the totally blind. The implication was clear. It was that each totally blind person would obviously need a sighted person to be with him or her at the convention and that it was the responsibility of the convention organizers to provide that sighted guide.
Surely nothing more needs to be said. Certainly there is nothing wrong with using the assistance of a sighted person when it is needed, but that is not what we are dealing with here. The pattern or condescension and custodialism is unmistakable, and it pervades every aspect of the organization.
The Blind and the Visually Impaired
Nothing is more obvious at an American Council of the Blind convention than the unrealistic and harmful distinction that is made between the blind and the visually impaired. One of the larger special interest groups of the ACB is the Council of Citizens with Low Vision, which is reported to have over 1,300 members. The touchiness and the overemphasis on the imagined difference between those who have a little sight and those how have none are truly amazing and, yes, somewhat pathetic. Moreover, this painful hairsplitting is not only false but also insulting and demeaning, both to the totally blind and to the partially sighted. The harmful effect of this artificial distinction between the blind who are total and the blind who are partial is a constant negative in the functioning of the organization and its individual members.
Our first real indication of just how far-reaching and crucial this distinction is for the ACB came at the annual Board meeting, which was held on the first Saturday of the convention. Carla Franklin (a board member, president of the Kentucky affiliate, and chairperson of the convention arrangements committee) made a report to the Board concerning the committee's evaluation of locations for the 1989 convention. She and others had visited a location in Houston. The hotel had, as part of its interior design, a large number of mirrors. Ms. Franklin reported that the hotel has agreed to cover all of these mirrors. Another member of the board, not understanding why this would be a desirable thing to do, asked what the purpose of this action would be. She told him that this would prevent persons with low vision from walking into walls. Some additional discussion took place around the theme of how hotel sites should be accessible to low vision people, as well as to the blind.
We learned more about the false and limiting philosophy underlying the distinction between the blind and the visually impaired at a seminar conducted by the Council of Citizens with Low Vision. A woman raised a question from the audience. She directed her question to a panel of experts. She said that she had a good deal of vision. However, when she went out walking with her friends, there was always confusion. One friend was "really great," she said. This friend took her arm, placed it under hers, and they just "took off." But it was different with another friend, who was not so assertive. Consequently, the woman from the audience said that she often tripped over curbs when they were out walking together. She wanted to know how she could better manage these situations.
The panel of experts was very sympathetic to her plight. They had numerous suggestions about how she could more easily communicate with her friend concerning her need for help. The shocking aspect of this exchange was that not one of this panel of so-called "experts," even in passing, suggested that she might get and use a cane when she went out on these walks.
Whether tripping over curbs or walking into mirrored walls in hotels, the result of the philosophy which characterizes the ACB seems to be to render less competent the low vision people that the orgaization is trying to help. The distinction between the blind and the visually impaired come up over and over again throughout the convention. Whenevre a speaker would slip and say only "the blind." he would immediately correct himself by adding "the visually impaired." It was an unfortunate spectacle, which promoted neither organizational harmony or a constructive public image.
It is common knowledge that only about twenty percent of the blind of this nation are totally blind. It is also common knowledge that the problems of blindness are primarily attitudinal, not physical. One of the methods which society uses to keep its stereotypes about blindness intact is the technique of attributing every accomplishment whihc the blind person makes to whatever residual vision he or she may have. Since almost nobody who is blind has more than ten percent of the visual acuity possessed by a person with normal eyesight and since inherent in the philosophy of the ACB is the notion that ability diminishes as eyesight diminishes, the inevitable conclusion is that all blind people (whether total or partial) are inferior to the sighted--at least ninety percent inferior, which leaves little room for meaningful distinction between the degrees of blindness in the relative scale of social values.
The Numbers Game
In the passage which we have already quoted from the press materials provided by the American Council of the blind, the claim was made that 3,000 persons would participate in their 1987 annual convention. Bob Acosta frequently announced throughout the convention that it was the largest meeting of blind persons in the history of the world. ACB members were often heard to complain how difficult it was to maneuver through the thousands of people who were at the convention. They were led to believe that there were, in fact, serveral thousand people at the convention. However, as we shall demonstrate, this was simply an outright deception.
What impressed us was how small the ACB convention really was. There were 600 to 650 actual participants in the convention. There were 100 to 150 sighted volunteers who were additionally involved in the convention. These numbers were based on thorough counts which we took each day of the convention. We checked and doublechecked them and confirmed them in a variety of ways.
The ACB numbers game begins with preregistration. Attendees of the convnetion are asked to pre-register. However, one does not just register for the ACB convention. One also registers for the various special interest groups also meet in conjunction with the ACB convention. Therefore, one person may be counted a number of times; and, in fact, for voting and certainly in membership figures for the organization, this procedure of counting is followed extensively. We were told when we registered that there were over 1,000 pre-registrations. Later we were told by a sighted volunteer that there had been over 1,500 pre-registrations. We believe that there were quite a number of people who pre-registered who did not attend the ACB convention. One of our primary indications of this was the way in which the drawing for door prizes proceeded during convention.
Bob Acosta was the door prize chairman. He drew names out of a cardboard box to determine who the winners might be. During the first two days of the convnetion he would draw as many as ten names before someone would eb found who was in the room. There were 525 persons in attendance on teh first day of the convention and 458 on the second. The third day no door prizes at all were drawn. On the fourth day twenty names were drawn before the first winner was found. Later in the day (and one must determine for oneself why) a real change took place in the pattern of the drawing of door prizes. Winners were in the room, and only the occasional name drawn would be absent. People in the audience would say that the person was in his or her room or on a tour or had gone home, but it was clear that some cleaning up of the act had been done. Prior to this time there had been utter silence when a name had been drawn and the person was not present. It was obvious that there were names of many persons in the door prize box who had not attended the convention at all. It is perhaps the case that these persons had sent in a pre-registration form, or perhaps there is some more subtle explanation.
The meeting of the board of directors was help on Saturday, July 11. There were forty persons present in addition to the board members. Compare this with the numbers which are present at NFB convention board meetings. On Sunday many of the special interest groups met. The Council of Citizens with Low Vision held a seminar. There were sixty persons present. The Randolp-Sheppard Vendors of America met. Sixty persons attended. The Visually Impaired Data Processors International group help a seminar with 126 people in attendence. The American Blind Laywers Association had seventeen persons at its meeting. The exhibit hall had approximately seventy-five persons viewing exhibits at any one time. Again, compare this with the crowds that come to the NFB exhibit hall. Slightly under one hundred persons were involved in tours during Sunday. Perhaps fifty persons could be counted at pool side. As on walked through the hotel corridors, visited the restaurants, and rode the elevators, it became quite obvious that there were only about 600 persons at the convention.
A concert was presented featruing Les Brown and his Band of Renown. There were approximately 250 persons at that concert. One of the major parties of the week was sponsored by ACB's Virginia affilate. It drew approximately 300 persons. The largest single gathering of the convention was the banquet on Friday night. The hotel chef fold us that he served 765 meals. There were over one hundred sighted guides who had come to the banquet to assist ACB members. All of these figures confirmed our initial belief that there were between 600 and 650 persons present at the convention, if the sighted volunteers are excluded
The numbers game is a very peculiar game indeed at the ACB convention. Press materials said there would be 3,000 persons in atendance. Bob Acosta siad over and over throughout the ocnvention that it was the largest gathering of blind persons in the history of the world. On the opening day of the convention the auditorium was set up with 1,000 chairs. There were 525 persons in attendance. During the roll call each state affiliate and special interst group was asked to report how many seats they would need for the convention. Over 1,300 seats were requested. The next morning the room had been rearranged, and quite a number of chairs had been removed. There were 458 persons in the auditorium.
Bob Acosta, when reporting the need for seats for the California delegation, told the audience that California needed from 350 to 400 seats and that they were climbing. The largest number of persons in the California delegation throughout the entire convention was ninety.
The ACB leaders claimed over and over throughout the convention that they represented the largest and fastest growing organization of blind persons in the nation. We have some information which can shed light on just how many members the ACB really has.
The ACB has a peculiar voting procedure. Each state affiliate and special interest group receives one vote for every twenty-five dues-paying members that it has. It is, therefore, possible to calculate how many dues-paying members there are in the organization. Since there is a great deal of duplication in the ACB membership count, it is more accurate to count only the votes held by state affiliates. One would presume that an individual would be a member of a state affiliate as well as any special interest group in which he or she might hold membership. Therefore, duplication can be avoided by only counting the membership in the state affiliates. There is a limitaion to this procedure, however. Any one state can only have twenty-five votes. There are five states that are capped at twenty-five votes. They are California, Florida, Missouri, Oklahoma, and Pennsylvania. We know then that these states have (or certainly claim they have) at least 625 members, bu we don't know how many more they might have. Bob Acosta says that California has 3,000 members. This figure is suspect, to say the least--especially if he wildly exaggerated figures about attendence at the ACB convention are taken into account. The states had 438 delegates at the 1987 convention. If this number is multiplied by twenty-five, we get a total of 10,950. If a few thousand more were added, taking into account members-at-large and members in those states that have more than 625 persons on their rolls, we would arrive at a figure of perhaps thirteen to fifteen thousand. However, a word of caution must be said. In view of the exaggerated claims about national convention attendence, the state membership figures may also be inflated. In other words the actual figure may not be 13,000 at all but six or seven or eight, or even less.
The deception which is perpetrated by the ACB leadership with regard to numbers of persons attending their national convention and total membership within the organization raises serious questions about the credibility of that leadership. Many of the rank and file members of the ACB may themselves question that credibility. Certainly the election of officers at the 1987 convention reflected a deep alienation which exists between the previous administration and teh membership of the organization.
Dissension and Disorganization
It was clear at the board meeting on the first Saturday of the convention that there was going to be a great deal of dissension at the 1987 ACB convention. The first issue of controversy focused around the coice of the 1989 convention site. A committee headed by Carla Franklin of Kentucky had visited four locations. These locations wer in Richmond, Houston, Dallas, and Louisville. The committee recommended the Louisville site. The board voted eight to five to support the committee's recommendation.
The final decision on the selection of a covention site was made by a vote of the convention during a general session. Quite a lot of campaigning for the 1989 convention took place during the course of the convention. On Thursday night the Virginia affiliate held a party. Representatives from teh Richmond city government, Tourist Bureau, and Marriott Hotel were in attendance. Free drinks, food, and door prizes were provided. The next morning the Richmond delegation madea presentation to the convention, and the issue was widely debated. Several years ago the ACB convention was held at the Galt House in Louisville. As it turns out, ACB members did structural damage to the hotel, and every person who attended had a surcharge put onto his or her bill in order to pay for the damage. Many people were still angry about this arrangement. Even though the rates appeared to be higher in Virginia (ranging from $46 in the headquarters hotel to $34 in a satellite hotel), when compared to the Galt House (which offered rooms at $36), the convention voted to select the Richmond location and consequently to overturn the recommendation of the convention committee and the board of directors. This was not simply a friendly vote. It was an angry voice.
The dissension continued throughout the convention. On Monday morning National Industries for the Blind held a breakfast and workshop. Julie Lynch, a blind woman who serves on teh board of directors for the Seattle Lighthouse for the Blind, directed a question to NIB spokesmen who had been conducting the meeting. She said that she was the only blind person on the board of the Seattle Lighthouse and that blind people were kept in subservient jobs, while sighted people had all of the good administrative jobs. There were scattered words of support from the tables, but the speakers met her remarks with utter silence. Soon a speaker from the Chicago Lighthouse for the Blind began to talk in opposition. She was hostile and argued that the Lighthouse employed blind persons in administrative positions. Mrs. Lynch answered that, if that were the case, then Chicago was indeed fortunate, because this was not the pattern in Seattle, and she did not believe that it was the pattern in very many other places either.
There was a rather consistent complaint throughout the convention that the price of registration was far too high. In addition to an initial registration fee, one had to pay for every activity. This included the special interest groups, the special breakfast and lunches, and all of the receptions and concerts. The cost of the banquet was $30. The two of us paid $133 each to register. We passed up a few of the activities.
One of the activities was a Mexican Night. This event was sponsored by the National Association of Blind Students and the International Friendly Circle of the Blind. The cost for this event was $17. We heard numerous people comment that not only was the price too high but the food had run out and they did not even get their dinner.
Typical of the complaints about the convention organization was the one that came from a small boy, who must have been about ten years of age. He said that he had left early from a movie that had been shown for the children. It was a "Bugs Bunny" cartoon, and he said that it was boring.
A more serious split within the convention began to appear at the Tuesday morning general session. Both Grant Mack and Otis Stephens were absent from the session. Durward McDaniel, the Second Vice President, was left to chair the meeting. He and members of the audience became involved in a rather bitter quarrel over the way in which he was chairing. At one point during the meeting, the chair of the resolutions committee was introduced to present resolutions. Mr. McDaniel made a comment concerning one of the resolutions. A person from the floor said, "Who is chairing this meeting? We shouldn't have two chairs." Mr. McDaniel tried to clarify his position. He defended Mr. Edwards, the chair of the resolutions committee. The speaker from the floor informed him that it wasn't Mr. Edwards that he thought was out of line.
The split really surfaced at the nominating committee, which was supposed to recommend Otis Stephens of Tennessee for president, Durward McDaniel of Texas for first vice president, Allen Jenkins of California for second vice president, Elizabeth Lennon of Michigan for secretary, and Leroy Saunders of Oklahoma for treasurer. We overheard a conversation prior to the meeting of the Randolph-Sheppard Vendors of America board meeting on Saturday that the administration was planning to put up Allen Jenkins for second vice president and that there was a lot of opposition to someone from California getting put into that position, after only being a member of the organization for such a short time. This opposition took shape in the nominating committee meeting. Charles Hodge of Virginia defeated Allen Jenkins by a vote of thirty-three to twenty-nine to win the endorsement of the nominating committee.
The split was even deeper than the battle in the nominating committee would suggest. When elections took place on the last day of the convention, Otis Stephens was elected president without opposition according to script. However, the position of first vice president was hotly contested. In addition to Durward McDaniel, three other names were placed in nomination. They were Paul Edwards from Florida, Karen Perzentka from Wisconsin, and Delbert Amman from South Dakota. The seconding speeches for the four nominations told a great deal about the division within the ACB. McDaniel was portrayed as the candidate of tradition. He was a founding father of the organization. Edwards was said to be the candidate of knowledge and technical skill. He was the young candidate for the future. Perzentka was the feminist candidate. No woman has ever held a position in the ACB higher than secretary. Amman was the fiscally conservative candidate of responsibility. Mr. Amman's seconder said that Amman had not run for a board position the year before because he was disillusioned with the organization. Amman had suggested many times, the seconder said, that the organization should establish a cash reserve, but his warnings had been ignored. It was asserted that if he had been listened to in the past, the financial disaster now owing the ACB could have been avoided.
The election was closely contested during the first round. Edwards, McDaniel, and Perzentka were very close, but Edwards and McDaniel finished first and second. They therefore moved to a runoff election. Edwards led substantially in the runoff and was declared the winner.
The election then moved to the second vice presidential position. Hodge and Jenkins were nominated, and after the lengthy election procedure was conducted, Hodge emerged as the winner. He said in his acceptance speech that he had been told that an independent candidate, coming into California and facing the large California standing vote could not possibly win, but he had; and this was a testimony to the democracy that existed in the ACB. It is, however, much more a testimony to the inability of the California Council of the Blind and its president, Bob Acosta, to produce a substantial number of Californians who would attend the convention and participate in the standing vote. They simply didn't deliver the numbers that they had bragged about. It was also a testimony to the disaffection of the rank and file of the ACB from the immediate past administration.
The convention followed the recommendations of the nominating committee regarding the positions of secretary and treasurer. Charles Hodge, who had just been elected second vice president, had been a board member. The convention gave a sop to the administration by electing Durward McDaniel to fill the board position vacated by Hodge.
The degree of disaffection shown by the ACB membership was further demonstrated at the board meeting which followed the convention. The ACB operates thrift shops. The organization has a board which governs this enterprise. This board is elected by the ACB board of directors. Grant Mack, the immediate past president of ACB, was nominated to serve on the thrift shop board. He was opposed and (although he was elected) the vote was only ten to five. One would think that simple courtesy to a past president would have secured his unanimous election to the thrift shop board, but it didn't. The reason may well lie in the disastrous financial situation into which the Mack administration has led the ACB.
The ACB Financial Crisis
Throughout the convention there were indications of the extent of the financial crisis in which the ACB now finds itself. Chris Gray, chair of the board of publications, spoke to the convention about the cuts which had to be made in publications. The Braille Forum was being cut back. Other informational pieces could not be produced. The Board was considering low-cost ways to get their message out.
Much was made of the staff cutbacks which have occurred during the past year. Everyone was reassured that while staff cuts had been made, there were not cuts in services. The remaining staff, it was said, had shifted its responsibilities and worked hard to fill the gaps. Volunteers had been enlisted, and the work had gone on in spite of the deep and painful cuts.
The treasurer's report was postponed two times but was finally given during the last session. The report was silent on the issue of revenue. Yes, this is not a misprint. The report literally did not say how much money was received. It only presented the "budget" in the most general of terms. Yet, the reality of ACB's financial disaster was clear to see. The budget for this year is $403,000. $198,000 had been spent to date. ACB plans to set $50,000 aside to begin to retire its debts. No mention was made of just how large these debts are. Through the end of May the thrift shops were reported to have returned $143,000 to the ACB. During the course of the convention three states made contributions to the ACB national treasury. The contributions totaled $1,500. We were told that the thrift shops were doing badly in all of their locations; so closing down the ones that were losing money would not solve the problem. It was suggested that the members would have to give more, but no plan to promote this (or even a request from the leadership) was forthcoming. The only conclusion which can be drawn is that the $403,000 budget for 1987 may be more a dream than a reality.
Perhaps one of the low points in the history of blind people in the nation came on the last day of the convention. During one of the elections when the standing vote was being counted and everyone was truly bored, Grant Mack, the President of the American Council of the Blind, called Al Gill of California to the microphone. He said, "Al, we will all be leaving soon, and not everyone will be flying. Some will be taking the bus. Now, they tell me that you can tell us about the Greyhound bus."
Al Gill said, "Had I known that was why I was being called to the microphone, I wouldn't have come."
People from the audience and Grant Mack encouraged Gill to go forward. As it turned out, Al Gill does sound affects, and one of his best is that of a Greyhound bus leaving the depot. Mr. Gill performed, but his colleagues wanted more. It seems that he also does the sound of the toilet on the bus being flushed. Everyone wanted him to include that sound effect as well, but he refused. Instead, he performed the sound of a college marching band.
The undignified level to which the ACB convention sank when it resorted to Ming empty minutes during its convention with sound effects is but the final insult given to the blind of the nation by the 1987 ACB convention. The custodialism and the lack of pride which this organization teaches to its members and the public are worthy of disgust and contempt. The deception practiced by the leadership is an offense to its own members and to the general public. The dissension, disorganization, and disastrous financial situation in which the ACB now finds itself give testimony to the inability of the organization to speak effectively or bring its programs into being. The 1987 convention of the ACB leaves the outside observer startled by the shocking lack of organizational integrity, strength, and vitality. It is an aging organization with few young members.
The future of the blind of America must be shaped by a vision which has more dignity, more pride, more confidence, and more competence than the ACB has to offer. One need only attend an ACB convention to understand what the alternatives are and why there is only one truly representative organization of the blind in the United States today. For the vision of the future of blind persons which the NFB holds out is one that has promise. The future which the National Federation of the Blind is making is one which is full of hope for young and old alike. The alternative is despair and negativism. The choice is not hard to make.
At the 1988 convention the National Federation of the Blind will be making two awards to educators. Are you a candidate for one of them? Do you know someone who is?
In 1987 the National Association of Blind Educators, a Division of the NFB, established the Outstanding Blind Educator Award. This year the National Association of Blind Educators would again like to recognize the achievements of blind professionals who have demonstrated superior ability in their work as educators. The Outstanding Blind Educator Award will be presented during the meeting of the National Association of Blind Educators, which will take place Monday afternoon, July 3. The winner will also be invited to make a presentation of his or her approaches in education at that time. Additional recognition will be given at the NFB banquet Thursday evening, July 7. The honoree will be presented with a plaque appropriately inscribed to reflect the significance of the recognition being bestowed. The honoree will also receive a cash award of $500 plus an expense-paid trip to the 1988 NFB convention.
Selection of the Outstanding Blind Educator will be by a three-member committee comprised of three Outstanding Blind Educators, each of whom is also a member of the National Association of Blind Educators. The chairperson of the committee is Patricia Munson of California. Anyone wishing to nominate an Outstanding Blind Educator should submit the following information in writing to: Mrs. Patricia Munson, 833 Key Route Boulevard, Albany, California 94706:
1. A letter of nomination may be submitted by the nominee or on behalf of the nominee before April 15, 1988. The letter should include a professional profile of the nominee as well as information on community service or other distinguishing activities.
2. Letters seconding an individual's nomination may be submitted by a friend or colleague to the committee chairperson. These letters may be used to expand upon information already submitted and add additional information which may be helpful to the committee in making its decision.
The Outstanding Blind Educator Award represents a real opportunity to honor a blind person who has made substantial contributions both in his or her professional work and to the organized blind. Please submit your nominations early.
The second award to be made to an educator by the NFB in 1988 is called the Distinguished Teacher of Blind Children Award. Anyone who is currently teaching, counseling, or administering in a program for blind children may be considered eligible to receive this award. The selection committee for the Distinguished Teacher of Blind Children Award is chaired by Ramona Walhof at 1301 South Capitol Boulevard, Suite C, Boise, Idaho 83706, and the committee includes teachers with much experience. Teachers may be nominated by colleagues, supervisors, or friends. The letter of nomination should simply state why the teacher is being recommended for the award. Two additional requirements must be met by the teacher being nominated.
To apply for and win this award, it is not necessary to be a member of the National Federation of the Blind, but the winner will be expected to attend the 1988 NFB convention. It is a wonderful opportunity for any teacher working with blind children to meet others in the same field, as well as parents and blind persons who have had experience in a variety of educational programs. The convention will be held at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Chicago July 2 through July 8, 1988. The winner of this award will receive an expense-paid trip to the convention and will be invited to make a presentation on the education of blind children to the NFB Parents Division early in the convention. In addition, the winner will receive a check for $500 and an attractive plaque at the NFB banquet Thursday evening, July 7.
Each nominee must submit to the Selection Committee chairman:
1. A one-page letter describing your beliefs and approaches in your work; and
2. The answers to the following ten questions:
1. List your degrees, the institution from which they were received, and the major area(s) of study.
2. How long and in what programs have you taught blind children?
3. In what setting do you teach? (Example: classroom in school for the blind, special education classroom, itinerant program, etc.)
4. How many students do you teach regularly this year? What subjects do you teach them?
5. How many of your students read and write primarily:
a) Braille, b) large print, c) closed circuit t.v., d) recorded materials, e) small print?
6. How many of your students use both print and Braille?
7. At what age do you recommend that your student begin:
a) reading Braille, b) writing with a slate and stylus, c) writing with a Braille writer?
8. At what age do you recommend your students begin to learn independent cane travel?
9. How do you determine which children should learn cane travel and which should not?
10. a) At what age do you recommend students begin typing?
b) When do you expect them to be able to hand in typed assignments?
The National Federation of the Blind is most happy to be able to offer these two awards. We are looking forward to receiving nominations for many well-qualified educators.
State of New York Executive Chamber
The National Federation of the Blind New York State has established itself a mover in promoting independence and pride among persons who are blind. New York State members have been participants in the 50,000 strong nationwide network of individuals striving to secure equal rights and opportunities for visually impaired persons in all spheres of political, cultural, social, economic, and religious life.
The New York affiliate, now in its 31st year, was instrumental in gaining passage of legislation that amended the State's Human Rights Law to extend its provisions to persons with disabilities.
Members of the National Federation of the Blind of New York State continue to captivate state-wide attention and support of their endeavors to gain legislation and to nurture the type of attitudinal awareness required for blind persons to interact as fully integrated, contributing, and responsible citizens.
As thousands of blind persons who actively participate in various walks of life can attest, blindness need not be a deterrent to personal growth and achievement. People who are blind have made invaluable contributions to the diversity and viability of New York State. They have enriched in meaningful ways the quality of life shared by all New Yorkers.
The National Federation of the Blind of New York State's ongoing commitment to inspire individuals who are blind to seek and secure their rightful place within society warrants recognition and support.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, Mario M. Cuomo, Governor of the State of New York, do hereby proclaim October, 1987, as
National Federation of the Blind Month
in New York.
Given under my hand and the Privy Seal of the State at the Capitol in the City of Albany this fourth day of September in the year One Thousand Nine Hundred and Eighty-Seven.
Mario M. Cuomo, GOVERNOR
by Betty Pacelli
Betty Pacelli is First Vice President and Bruce Woodward is Treasurer of the National Federation of the Blind of Connecticut. Although this recipe was submitted by Betty Pacelli her mind (this being written in mid-September) is probably not currently on cooking, for on October 17, 1987, she and Bruce are planning to be married. By the time you read this the Woodwards should be man and wife.
1 package Duncan Hines Deluxe Yellow Cake Mix
1 can (20 ounces) crushed pineapple in syrup, undrained
1 can (21 ounces) cherry pie filling
1 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup (one stick) butter or margarine, cut in thin slices
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a nine- by thirteen- by two-inch pan. Dump undrained pineapple into pan; spread evenly. Dump in pie filling and spread into even layer. Dump cake mix onto cherry layer; spread evenly. Spread pecans over cake mix. Put butter over top. Bake at 350 degrees forty-five to fifty-three minutes. Serve warm or cold.
The following recipes were submitted by Joyce Porter, who is a member of the Board of Directors of the National Federation of the Blind of West Virginia and the wife of Dick Porter, the President of the NFB of West Virginia.
SOUTHERN PEANUT BUTTER PIE
1 unbaked pie crust
1 cup dark corn syrup
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup salted peanuts
For best results, chill pie crust before baking. Take directly from refrigerator and fill. In mixer combine all ingredients except for peanuts. Well mixed filling will be fluffy. Fold in peanuts and fill pie shell. Bake in preheated 400-degree oven for fifteen minutes. Reduce heat to 350 degrees and bake for thirty to thirty-five minutes. NOTE: I collect peanut butter pie recipes. This one is my favorite so far. Hope other Federationists will share their favorite peanut butter pie recipes with me.
A DIFFERENT KIND OF CHEESE BALL
2 packages softened cream cheese (large ones)
2 packages dried beef
Onion powder (optional)
Soften cheese and work it thoroughly with your hands. Shred one package of beef and work into cheese. Shake Worcestershire sauce bottle into cheese and mix. Shake garlic powder three times and mix. Do the same with onions if you wish to use them. Make into a large ball and wrap it with the other package of beef. Chill and serve. This is delicious served with small pieces of your favorite bread or crackers.
1-1/2 pounds ground chuck
1/3 cup seasoned breadcrumbs
1 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon garlic powder
Form into small meatballs and bake in preheated 350-degree oven for twenty minutes or until balls are brown. A shallow baking sheet works well.
SAUCE: Combine one and one-half cups of catsup, three tablespoons vinegar, six tablespoons Worcestershire sauce, and six tablespoons sugar. One large chopped onion is optional. Pour sauce over meatballs and bake in the oven (which has already been set at 350 degrees) for forty-five minutes. After balls are brown transfer them to a deep baking dish before pouring sauce over them.
These meatballs are great for office parties, because they can be heated in the microwave just before serving. I find that for best results make them the night before they are to be served, refrigerate, and heat to preferred temperature just before serving. They can also be frozen and served later.
CHOCOLATE PECAN PIE
1 cup light brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
1/2 cup flour
2 sticks melted butter
2 cups pecans (chopped)
1 tablespoon cocoa
1-12 ounce package semi-sweet chocolate bits
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream butter and both sugars. Add cocoa and flour; continue beating. Add eggs one at a time and continue to beat at high speed. Add vanilla and continue to beat until mixture is light and fluffy. Stir in chocolate bits and pecans. Fill each pie shell approximately two-thirds full. You should have enough mixture for two very full and delicious pies. Decorate tops with pecan halves if you wish. Bake forty-five minutes. Make sure pies are cool before wrapping.
HINT: If you wish to serve this pie hot, you may stick it into the microwave for a couple of minutes. Very good served either hot or at room temperature.
DOUBLE DECKER FUDGE
2 cups Reece's peanut butter chips
1 stick melted butter
1/4 cup cocoa
1 teaspoon vanilla
4-1/2 cups sugar
17 -ounce jar marshmallow cream
1-1/2 cups canned milk
Line a nine- by thirteen-inch pan with aluminum foil. Place one cup of peanut-butter chips into a medium bowl and set aside. Into a second bowl place melted butter, cocoa, and vanilla; beat until smooth. In a medium saucepan melt another stick of butter. Add marshmallow cream, sugar, and milk. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until the mixture comes to a roaring boil. Cook five minutes and continue to stir. I find that a big heavy wooden spoon is perfect for this, because you can scrape sides of pan without scraping off coating if pan has been treated with Teflon or a similar substance. Remove from heat and add half of the mixture to the peanut butter chips-only bowl. Pour remainder of mixture into the cocoa mixture and blend well. Beat peanut butter mixture until chips are completely melted. Spread evenly into foil-lined pan. Pour second mixture over top and spread. Let candy cool completely before cutting.
HINT: Some cooks may prefer to thoroughly grease pan instead of lining it with foil. If you line the pan with foil, it should separate easily from candy, but I have tried it both ways; and if your pan is thoroughly greased, it should cut easily. This recipe makes approximately four pounds.
We recently received the following press release:
"The latest edition of THE SECOND BEGINNER'S GUIDE TO PERSONAL COMPUTERS FOR THE BLIND has been completely revised and is available for $11.00. This second edition includes consumer reviews of the six most poplar screen-reading programs for the IBM PC, seven speech programs for the Apple, and the most effective program for the Commodore 64 Talking Computer. The reviews are comparative: Find out which program has the highest number of features of any screen review system on the market today, etc. There is also a review of a talking speller, a low-cost spreadsheet, and a listing of magazines by and for blind computer users. There is a phone book in the back containing useful numbers. To order this 178-page Braille edition send a check for $11.00 to National Braille Press, 88 St. Stephen Street, Boston, Massachusetts 02115 or charge to MasterCard or Visa by salting 617-266-6160. Orders are shipped Free Matter, or add $3.00 for UPS shipping. Book can also be had in print or on cassette."
Association of Radio Reading Services:
According to a press release which we recently received, 110 radio reading stations now participate in the Association of Radio Reading Services. Some of these stations operate twenty-four hours per day, and it is generally felt that the reading of the local newspaper is the most popular feature of the program-aft- For information about your closest radio reading service contact: The Association of Radio Reading Services, 1010 Vermont Avenue, N.W., Suite 1100, Washington, D.C. 20005; or phone (202) 347-0955.
The summer, 1987, VTEK "News and Views" describes a number of new computer items and applications. Here are excerpts:
VTALK: "VTALK from VTEK is here. VTALK is a powerful, sophisticated speech output device enabling blind computer operators to know quickly and easily exactly what is on the computer screen. VTALK reads aloud text on the screen and text typed from the keyboard."
SMALL TALK PLUS: "SMALL TALK PLUS, the versatile talking, portable note-taking device from VTEK now contains Term-Talk, the built-in terminal emulation program, in addition to its other two built-in programs—a word processing program and a scientific calculator. SMALL TALK PLUS also features a built-in microprinter, LCD screen, and tape drive, providing unsurpassed versatility and convenience to the note-taking needs of blind people."
IMPRINT: "The inexpensive solution to simultaneous Braille and print. If you use a Perkins Brailler, you'll benefit from MPRINT. MPRINT enables the Perkins Braillist to print and Braille simultaneously, saving time, increasing productivity, enhancing the efficiency of any office or work station where the Perkins is working. Attach MPRINT to the bottom of the Perkins Brailler, plug it into any serial or parallel printer, and you're getting quality print...print you've formatted for your needs."
VTEK's address is: 1625 Olympic Boulevard, Santa Monica, California 90404.
It is Respectable to be Blind:
A fancy, formal printed card (the kind used to announce births, deaths, and what not) recently arrived in the offices of the National Federation of the Blind. Here is the entire text:
"The Board of Managers and Robert L. Guarino, Director, The New York Institute for the Education of the Blind, wish to announce that as of September 18, 1986, the school's name will be changed to The New York Institute for Special Education, 999 Pelham Parkway, Bronx, New York 10469; (212) 519-7000."
Jim and April Enderton are Federationists from Des Moines. We recently received the following announcement:
"There's so much love and hope and joy all wrapped up in our little boy! Name: Kevin Christopher Enderton; Date: July 20, 1987; Weight: seven pounds, seven ounces; Length: twenty-one inches; Parents: Jim and April Enderton."
Just prior to the NFB convention in Phoenix Hank LaBonne, President of the Chattanooga Chapter of the National Federation of the Blind of Tennessee, had gall bladder surgery. There were complications, so instead of coming to Phoenix Hank spent the time in the hospital. He is now home and recovering. You can't keep a good man down.
The Brockton Chapter of the National Federation of the Blind of Massachusetts not only exemplifies initiative but also demonstrates the fact that it knows how to reach the Mayor of the city. The Mayor of Brockton proclaimed October 15, 1986, White Cane Safety Day. He proclaimed November of 1986 National Federation of the Blind Month. He proclaimed May of 1987 White Cane Safety Month. The city government of Brockton, Massachusetts, certainly knows of the existence of the National Federation of the Blind.
The July, 1987, Star magazine compliments the American Council of the Blind on a television public service spot which it says they are running. Star says of the ACB announcement:
"There is no narration, only a driving rock-oriented sound track. There are no images, only type that reads: 'For a blind person, this commercial sounds like a beer or a soft-drink commercial.
Why are we fooling them? Because they need money and they're too proud to ask for it. So please give generously."'
The Star columnist says: "It's done tastefully. The emotion is there, but without sad implications. It's not like begging. A very clever idea."
That's what Star says, but it's not what we say. The connotations and implications of the ACB announcement are many, and they are all bad. The blind are not children. Yes, we have pride, but it is the mature pride of adults (of equals), not what is shown in the announcement. It is not surprising that the Star columnist thinks the announcement is clever and appropriate. It fits his image of the blind—and also, apparently, the ACB's image—of the blind in general and of themselves.
Betty Kendall, Secretary of the Cleveland Chapter of the National Federation of the Blind of Ohio, writes:
"We are saddened by the death of our friend and colleague, Susan Hall Franklin, by drowning on June 27, 1987. She was a member of the Cleveland Chapter of the NFB of Ohio. Thank you."
We have been asked to carry the following announcement:
"For sale: APH-GE Cassette Recorder/Player, portable, rechargeable batteries, in very good condition, plays NLS and regular speed 4-track: $100. Contact in Braille for more information or to find out if still available: Janell Peterson, 303 Harvard Avenue, East, #302, Seattle, Washington 98102."
The following press release was recently issued jointly by the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped and the National Federation of the Blind:
The National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS) the National Federation of the Blind (NFB) announce the availability of the first-ever, mass-produced Braille Edition of John Bartlett's Familiar Quotations.
Blind writers, students, and other interested readers now have access to this important reference tool, which lists more than 22,500 quotations, sayings, and writings of English and American authors. A detailed index serves as a key to locating and identifying passages in the book.
Braille production of Bartlett's is a joint effort of NLS and NFB with the permission of Little, Brown, and Company, the print edition publisher. Gift funds from the estate of Leonard R. Stachura were used to purchase the metal plates needed to produce the 105-volume set.
NLS has distributed copies for reference use in forty-three cooperating Braille-lending libraries around the county. NFB is offering the set at cost in soft-bound and hard-bound editions. Individuals and schools or other organizations may purchase the soft-bound edition for $230 and the hard-bound edition for $630 directly from NFB at: 1800 Johnson Street, Baltimore, Maryland 21230.
The following people have been elected to office in the Potomac Chapter of the National Federation of the Blind of Virginia for the 1987-88 year: President, Seville Allen; First Vice President, Robert McDonald; Second Vice President, Nancy Painter; Treasurer, Larry Povinelli; Recording Secretary, Geraldine Burke; Corresponding Secretary, Susan Povinelli; and Board Members: Louise Ruhf, Bill Meeker, and Jerry Yeager.
Request from the Philippines:
We recently received the following request in the National Office:
"You may just call me Boni for short. My father, who is a permanent resident of the U. S., has filed a petition for me; and if God willing, I would someday be an immigrant to your country. For this reason, I want to have some friends in the U. S. I'm a bachelor, five feet, nine inches in height, and with fair complexion. You may send me Braille or typewritten letters. So if anyone, especially falling within the age group of twenty-four and thirty-three, wishes to correspond with me and be my friend, address your letter to: Bonifacio V. Lucio, Philippine Printing House for the Blind, DECS Compound, Arroceros Street, Manila, Philippines."
Terry and LouAnne George of Oregon announce the birth of LeAndrea Tennae, who came to be a part of the George family at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, July 28, 1987. LeAndrea Tennae weighted nine pounds, four ounces, and was twenty-two inches long. Terry George has been a long-time member of the National Federation of the Blind and is now President of the Portland Chapter. He was staunch in Federationism during the time that the organization was under severe attack in the state of Idaho.
Ray Graber, Federationist from Kansas, writes: "I would like to sell my Intex-Talker Text to Speech Synthesizer. It is like new; has a serial and a parallel port; built-in speaker; and external speaker plug. Also, it has a manual with full operating instructions. It is a $450 value for $125 plus $5 shipping. Contact me at: 1603 Quail Ridge, Hutchinson, Kansas 67501; (316) 665- 5463."
Karen Mayry, President of the National Federation of the Blind of South Dakota, writes:
Julie Hawkins, 94 and charter member of the NFB of South Dakota affiliate, died on August 3, 1987. Julia was recruited by Eric Smith and Sharon Duffy in 1975 when they helped to organize the South Dakota affiliate. She was active in the Black Hills Chapter, served on the local board, and participated in all activities until she moved to the Rapid City Care Center about a year ago. She fought for her rights as an individual and believed in the philosophy of the Federation. Often she said, "The rights we attain will help the youngsters of tomorrow."
For the 1987-88 year the following people were elected to office in the Lawrence Chapter of the National Federation of the Blind of Massachusetts: President, Tony DelPozzo; Vice President, Al Durso; Treasurer, Rita Librizzo; Recording Secretary, Josephine Benoit; Corresponding Secretary, Natalie Scire-Melisi; Sergeant at Arms, Tona LaHoude; and Public Relations, Edith Sandborn.
We have been asked to carry the following announcement:
Vis-Aids, Inc., 102-09 Jamaica Avenue, P. O. Box 26, Richmond Hill, New York 11418, is a distributor of aids and appliances for the blind and visually impaired. We have a good reputation for our quality, service, and discounted prices. All orders are shipped within twenty-four hours. Why not call for a free catalog today. Our phone number is (718) 847-4734."
We have been asked to carry the following announcement:
"BIT Corporation is pleased to offer you its new 1987 product catalog. This expanded catalog features more than twenty new items, including an automatic telephone dialer, TV band radios, and labeling aids. It is now available in large print, Braille, and on audio cassette. Consumers wishing to receive a catalog or to order a format other than print may contact BIT by writing to calling: BIT Corporation, P. O. Box 70, MIT Branch, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02139; (617) 661-9555, or (800) BIT-0211 (outside Massachusetts )."
The following item appears in the August, 1987, Palmetto Blind, the publication of the National Federation of the Blind of South Carolina:
"Mrs. Yvonne Howze is the new principal of the South Carolina School for the Blind. She succeeds Mr. Dennis Thurmond, who recently accepted the position of Superintendent of the Iowa School for the Blind. Mrs. Howze has been associated with the Alabama school for the Blind for several years."
Writing in the August-September, 1987, Month's News (the publication of the National Federation of the Blind of Illinois) Steve Benson says:
"Dave Andrews, member of our state board, Chicago Chapter Second Vice President, and resident auctioneer who doubles as General Manager of Chicagoland Radio Information Service (CRIS), will leave Illinois in early August to take a position as General Manager of the Kansas Radio Information Service. Dave's steadfastness, wit, and culinary prowess will be missed in Illinois. His presence here has enriched all of us. He will undoubtedly be an asset in Kansas. Dave, we wish you well in your am endeavor. We will see you at the Chicago Hyatt Regency during the first week of July, 1988."
Maryann Barrios, Corresponding Secretary of the Orange County Chapter of the National Federation of the Blind of California, writes:
"On July 16, 1987, Brent and Patty Rasmussen of Westminster, California, welcomed a new addition to their family. They have adopted a two-month-old baby boy. His name is Brian David, and he is the Rasmussen's first child. Brent and Patty are both members of the Orange County Chapter of the NFB of California. Went is the Treasurer for our chapter, and Patty has served as Secretary and as a board member."
We are pleased to carry the following announcement: A new chapter of the NFB was started in Connecticut. On May 9, 1987, officers of the Meriden Area Chapter of the National Federation of the Blind of Connecticut were elected. They are as follows: President, Kathleen Kleczkowski; Vice President, Leslie Beaudry; Treasurer, James Thaxter; Secretary, Pearl Cote; and Board Members: James Duvall, Ray Lawson, and Ted Wernicke. Congratulations to the new chapter.
Recording for the Blind:
Recording for the Blind (located in Princeton, New Jersey) issued a press release dated August 6, 1987, which said in part:
"What is recording for the Blind? RFB has developed a series of five brochures to answer questions about its free service to blind and other print handicapped persons. Recording for the Blind is a national, nonprofit service organization that provides recorded educational books to anyone who cannot read standard printed material because of a visual, physical, or perceptual disability. RFB is: a recording service relying on work of more than 4,000 volunteers in 29 recording studios across the country; a library containing more than 70,000 recorded books, the largest resource of its kind in the world; and a delivery system circulating 130,000 books each year. For information call or write: Recording for the Blind, Office of Public Information, 20 Roszel Road, Princeton, New Jersey 08540; (609) 452-0606, extension 246."
We have been asked to carry the following announcement:
"Would you like to know more about God and serving him through the Catholic faith? A free home study course is available in ten cassette tapes. Please refer to it as 'Our Second Edition.' These lessons are taken from the Paulist Fathers home study course and have optional questions and answers for each lesson. We invite you to send for Lesson 1 on cassette tape by contacting Catholic Inquiry for the Blind, 228 North Walnut Street, Lansing, Michigan 48933; (517) 342-2500."
Computers to Buy and Sell:
We have been asked to carry the following announcement:
"I have Talking Transend Modem card and software Apple compatible for sale at $495. The registration can be changed to the new owner. Documents Talking Word Processor Apple Plus compatible for sale at $150. Franklin ACE 1000 computer, which is Apple Plus compatible with a single disc drive 64K, is great for beginners. Will sell the above altogether or separately as priced above. Am looking for Apple 2-E or Apple 2-C or Apple C-G's. For information contact: Mae Yingling Jones, 700 North Denning Drive, Apt. 101, Winter Park, Florida 32789."
Fred Wurtzel, long-time Federationist from Michigan, writes:
"On June 8, 1987, Daryl Castner of St. Louis, Missouri, died of cancer at his parents' home near lapsing, Michigan. Daryl was thirty-one years old and had lived in Missouri since taking employment there as a rehabilitation teacher in August, 1982. Daryl reflected what Federationism calls us to be. He was more than an independent traveler. He traveled with enthusiasm and determination. He was an accomplished Braille user. He charcoal-grilled wonderful steaks, which I was privileged to share on more than one occasion. Daryl worked at Alternatives for the Blind in Living and Employment (ABLE), where he taught typing, did career counseling, led seminars on blindness, and carried out varied duties as assigned as anyone who works for a small private agency does as a matter of course. Daryl was a committed Christian, whose faith led him to pursue a theology degree while undergoing extensive treatments for cancer."
We recently received the following release:
"Dr. Owen G. Clayton, a member of the Orange County Chapter, National Federation of the Blind of California, has recently self-published The Elements of Buralo, a monograph presenting details of the writing systems, phonology, morphology, and syntax of Buralo, an a priori constructed language on which he has been working at intervals for some twenty-five years. Dr. Clayton has worked as a senior technical writer and technical support analyst for Computer Sciences Corp. and as assistant editor of the Astro News of Los Angeles AFS, and is currently a freelance writer/linguist living in Mission Viejo." For information contact: Dr. Owen G. Clayton, 24726 Embajadores Lane, Mission Viejo, California 92691-5219.
Ann Morris Enterprises:
We have been asked to carry the following announcement:
"No-spill ice trays, microwave oven cookware, computer cookbooks, cassette cabinets, large digit items, and a gift wrapping service are just a few of the many new offerings from Ann Morris Enterprises, Inc., 26 Horseshoe Lane, Levittown, New York 11756. Request your large print or cassette catalog today."
Carries His Weight:
Ken Chrane, Federationist from CoIorado, is an AT&T operator in Denver. Recently his supervisor sent us a letter from a satisfied AT&T customer:
"On Saturday, August 1, one of your operators (Ken Chrane #0137) helped me tremendously for over thirty minutes to get me a number in W. Berlin. He finally got nine possible numbers to try. After the first six he was going to try the last three, but the circuits were busy, so I called and asked for him later so I wouldn't have to repeat the whole process. After all this, Ken finally got the number I needed. Terrific, and job well done! Ken wasn't in a hurry to give information then go on to the next customer like a lot of operators. Ken was helpful, courteous, and extremely patient—very patient. He helped until he knew that the person I wanted was on the line. Again, thanks to Ken Chrane for a fantastic job well done."
Ben Prows Honored:
Federationists know Ben Prows as one of the leaders of the National Federation of the Blind of Washington, but he is also active in other areas of self-organization and self-help. The July-August issue of the newsletter of the National Treasury Employees Union (Chapter 215 in Seattle) carried the following item:
"Officers and Stewards of Local 215 gathered on Friday, June 26, 1987, to honor Ben Prows who recently resigned as Chief Steward.
"Ben is one of our 'originals' and was an alternate negotiator on our original contract with DHHS which became effective October 5, 1980. Ben was also a negotiator on the DHHS EPMS Agreement executed during the summer of 1981. In addition, Ben has continuously served as a Steward since the inception of our Local and rose to the Chief Steward position in January, 1985.
"Ben's legal expertise and sense of humor will be missed by all who know him. However, Ben will remain a most supportive member.
"Refreshments were served at the conclusion, and Ben was presented with a leather attaché case. We were pleased to have Ben's wife Susi also present for the occasion."
We recently received the following press release:
"The Catholic Association of Persons with Visual Impairment (CAPVI) has opened its office in Washington, D.C., announced Monsignor Paul Lackner, President of CAPVI.
"The association was formerly known as the American Federation of Catholic Workers for the Blind and Visually Handicapped (AFCWBVH), founded in Pittsburgh in 1954. At a meeting (August, 1984) in Philadelphia the board of directors voted to form a new organization in which membership, formerly open to professionals only, would be open to nonprofessionals as well. To emphasize membership to all visually impaired persons, the name was changed to Catholic Association of Persons with Visual Impairment. Now located in Washington, D.C. (with mailing address: c/o NCPD, P. O. Box 29113, Washington, D.C. 20017; telephone number 202-529-2933), CAPVI shares office space with the National Catholic Office for Persons with Disabilities. The purpose of CAPVI is to advocate for the independence of visually handicapped persons so that they may be accepted and accept themselves as part of the local community."
Braille Programming Book:
We have been asked to carry the following announcement:
"Getting your hands on a computer programming book in Braille is next to impossible. And yet, the precision of computer programming demands the kind of attention to detail and scrutiny that can only come from Braille access.
"Now you can own your own Braille copy of 'The C Programming Language' by Brian W. Kernighan and Dennis Ritchie—considered the bible of programming books.
"C is a general purpose programming language and is not tied to any one operating system or machine. This five-volume Braille set is priced the same as the print book: $24.95, and is transcribed according to the rules of the code for computer Braille notation.
"To order your copy, send a check to National Braille Press, 88 St. Stephen Street, Boston, Massachusetts 02115, or call (617) 266-6160 and charge it on your Mastercard or Visa."
Karen Nolte writes: "We have started the Grand Island Chapter of the National Federation of the Blind of Nebraska: President, Ardyce Earl; Vice President, Joe Cervenka; Secretary-Treasurer, Karen Nolte; and Board Member, Bruce Goehring."
We are informed that Marsha Crickmore Anderson, Federationist from Indiana, and David Anderson (who live in Anderson, Indiana) are the proud parents of twins, who were born on August 29, 1987. In the motif of twins Mary Ann weighed five pounds, five ounces and Joseph David weighed six pounds, six ounces. Mary Ann was nineteen and a half inches long and arrived in the world at 11:49 p.m. Joseph David was twenty inches long and arrived at 11:50 p.m. Both parents and twins are doing well. May they live happily ever after.
Here is the official NFB pledge. It appears on the back of the membership card and is used by many local chapters and state affiliates at the beginning of meetings:
"I pledge to participate actively in the efforts of the National Federation of the Blind to achieve equality, opportunity, and security for the blind; to support the programs and policies of the Federation; and to abide by its Constitution."
Phoenix, Arizona, July 3, 1987
At the 1987 convention of the National Federation of the Blind a total of twenty-two resolutions were considered and acted upon. One of them was withdrawn by its sponsor, and one was defeated by vote of the convention. Here is a summary of the resolutions followed by the complete text of those which were adopted.
87-01: expresses the Federation's support for H.R. 192 to amend the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The bill, now pending in the 100th Congress, seeks to prohibit employment discrimination based on handicap. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 makes it unlawful for most employers to discriminate on the basis of sex and against members of certain racial or ethnic minorities. Discrimination on the basis of handicap is not included, however. That would be corrected if Congress adopts H.R. 192.
87-02: calls for the repeal of a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regulation and Advisory Circular pertaining to air transportation for the handicapped. The resolution notes that the regulation and Advisory Circular (issued in 1977) are now out of date. Moreover, they are inconsistent with the nondiscrimination requirements of Public Law 99-435, the Air Carrier Access Act. The resolution declares that all steps necessary to achieve the repeal of FAA's outmoded regulation and the withdrawal of the Advisory Circular will be taken.
87-03: urges Congress to pass legislation to overturn the Supreme Court's decision in Grove City College vs. Bell. That decision places severe limits on the application of federal civil rights laws that extend to recipients of federal financial assistance. Bills that would restore broader civil rights protection for employees or participants in federally funded programs are now pending in the House of Representatives and the Senate. The House bill is H.R. 1214. The Senate bill is S. 557.
87-04: requests the cooperation of the Social Security Administration (SSA) and the Congress to improve and expand rehabilitation services for blind beneficiaries. Funds from SSA are now used to reimburse state vocational rehabilitation agencies for their costs to provide services that lead to successful employment of the blind. The resolution notes, however, that similar reimbursements from SSA funds are not available to private or public agencies other than vocational rehabilitation. This limits the opportunities which blind beneficiaries have to achieve successful employment. Therefore, the resolution declares that blind beneficiaries should have greater freedom to select effective rehabilitation programs (whether public or private) to be paid for through expanded use of SSA funds.
87-05: calls upon the Congress of the United States to improve employment and upward mobility opportunities for the blind by amending the Javits-Wagner O'Day Act. The Act, now in its fiftieth year, provides special Federal contracting advantages to sheltered workshops if 75% of the direct labor is performed by blind or severely handicapped persons. There are no requirements for the workshops to hire blind managers or supervisors, however. The resolution asks Congress to include upward mobility and other affirmative action requirements in the law.
87-06: deplores discriminatory restrictions on blind passengers imposed by certain airlines. The resolution notes that the carriers have not provided evidence of the need for the restrictions, even though the Secretary of Transportation requested such evidence in a notice published in the Federal Register of August 22, 1986. The resolution seeks the cooperation of the air carriers to cease applying such limits on blind passengers since it is now clear that no evidence exists to justify them.
87-07: seeks participation of the National Federation of the Blind in an upcoming White House Conference on Libraries and Information Services. Legislation to request and authorize the President to convene such a Conference is now pending in the 100th Congress. Needs of the blind for greater access to information, and the technology that is now capable of responding to these needs, should be considered during the White House Conference.
87-08: declares that scholarships awarded by the National Federation of the Blind should not be considered as "similar benefits" by state vocational rehabilitation agencies. The Federation awards scholarships to blind students in excess of $65,000 per year, intended to assist the recipients in meeting their higher education costs. The scholarships are awarded on the basis of merit, not as an entitlement. Nonetheless, some vocational rehabilitation agencies have identified these scholarships as a "similar benefit" and have made corresponding reductions in financial or other support. In some cases support from vocational rehabilitation might be terminated altogether due to a "similar benefit." The resolution says that NFB scholarships should not reduce or eliminate the assistance provided by vocational rehabilitation.
87-09: seeks civil penalties (including fines) for the deliberate injury or destruction of a dog guide. The resolution notes that local prosecutors do not actively pursue charges against those who may be responsible for the injury or destruction of dog guides. The remedy called for by the resolution is to establish a civil cause of action, giving blind victims of dog guide abuse the right to pursue their own claims in court. Recovery of damages and attorneys' fees is urged.
87-10: urges state vocational rehabilitation agencies to assist in developing "Plans to Achieve Self-Support" (PASS) for blind recipients of Supplemental Security Income (SSI). The PASS is used to allow SSI recipients the opportunity to have income and resources specifically devoted to their self‑support efforts. The income and resources identified in a PASS are then not considered so they do not reduce or eliminate SSI benefits. The resolution asks the Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA) to establish a special training program for counselors to assist their clients to obtain approval of a PASS.
87-11: This resolution concerning use of computer technology to be implemented in the Library of Congress books for the blind and physically handicapped program was withdrawn by request of its sponsor.
87-12: expresses continued opposition of the Federation to a quarantine of dog guides entering the State of Hawaii. New information has come to light pertaining to the prevention of rabies. Therefore, the resolution calls upon the Department of Agriculture of the State of Hawaii to establish a means to allow dog guide users to travel freely with their dog guides to and from the State of Hawaii.
87-13: solicits the cooperation of Assessment Systems, Inc. of Philadelphia to make state licensure examinations for social workers available to blind persons in Braille. The examination for licensing social workers in forty-one states is now required to be conducted with a reader selected by Assessment Systems, Inc.
87-14: urges volunteer enlistment opportunities for blind persons in military service. Noncombat and support positions are specifically identified. The resolution notes that the failure of the armed services to utilize blind persons in noncombat and support positions for which they are trained and qualified is a violation of Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended.
87-15: establishes a Federation award "for the outstanding educator of blind children" to be awarded from time to time as appropriate. The award is intended to recognize outstanding educators of the blind and to stimulate quality performance in the education of blind children.
87-16: demands that "Braille reading and writing be made a part of the curriculum for all blind students attending elementary and secondary schools." The resolution emphasizes the need for Braille literacy and the use of a slate and stylus at an early stage in the process of learning to read and write.
87-17: condemns and deplores a public mass transit conference sponsored by the American Foundation for the Blind during January, 1987, in Washington, D.C. The resolution urges the American Public Transit Association, the Urban Mass Transit Administration, and transit carriers across the country to work with blind people themselves who use transit systems regularly. The best way to do this and to obtain the real views of the blind is through cooperative exchanges with the National Federation of the Blind.
87-18: asks that catastrophic health insurance coverage be available to blind persons receiving Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits. Health insurance coverage for catastrophic illnesses is being considered by the 100th Congress.
87-19: solicits the cooperation of major car rental companies to work with the National Federation of the Blind to develop reasonable policies which make it possible for blind people to rent motor vehicles. The resolution notes that most of the major companies require a person renting a motor vehicle to have a valid driver's license and major credit card. These policies could be changed with the assistance and support of the companies involved.
87-20: This resolution concerning regulations and procedures for payment of attorneys' fees in Social Security eases was defeated by the convention.
87-21: commends "those states which have enacted programs to provide telecommunications devices for the deaf-blind" and calls upon all states that do not have such programs to enact them. The resolution notes the Federation's policy of supporting improved communication methods for the deaf-blind and identifies telecommunications devices as a necessary improvement.
87-22: condemns and deplores "the ridiculous policy of the United States Department of Education" which was explained by Justin Dart, Commissioner of the Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA). The policy in question gives all meaningful decision-making authority in rehabilitation to the education department's assistant secretary for special education and rehabilitative services. Thus, the Commissioner of the Rehabilitation Services Administration is not empowered to schedule meetings with members of other departments or to approve travel expenses for attendants at large national meetings, such as the NFB convention. The policy described by Mr. Dart would mean that the RSA commissioner is merely a figurehead in the federal structure.
WHEREAS, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 is the most comprehensive Federal law prohibiting employment discrimination in both private-sector and public-sector jobs; and
WHEREAS, employment discrimination based on blindness is still not covered by Title VII even though blind people are often the victims of unjust and discriminatory treatment by employers or potential employers; and
WHEREAS, a bill (H.R. 192) now pending in the first session of the 100th Congress would remedy this enormous gap in protection against employment discrimination by making discrimination based on handicap an unlawful employment practice, prohibited by Title VII; and
WHEREAS, on June 17, 1987, the Subcommittee on Employment Opportunities of the House Committee on Education and Labor considered H.R. 192 in a public hearing, and favorable action on this measure seems likely in this session of Congress; and
WHEREAS, substantial unemployment and underemployment of the blind directly results from attitudes and practices of employers that treat the blind as a separate and less able class in the work force; and
WHEREAS, the legal means successfully to contest this misclassification and its accompanying unjust treatment (including refusal to hire the blind) are often not available: Now, therefore,
BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this third day of July, 1987, in the City of Phoenix, Arizona, that this organization express its continuing thanks and commendation to the sponsor of H.R. 192, the Honorable Joe Moakley of Massachusetts, for his unwavering efforts on behalf of equal employment rights and opportunities for the blind; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that we urge all members of the 100th Congress to support the principles of H.R. 192 by actively endorsing this legislation and working and voting for its enactment into law.
WHEREAS, a Federal Aviation Regulation (14 CFR, Section 121.586), although misapplied to the blind, was purportedly adopted to require airlines to provide air transportation to handicapped individuals, described as "anyone who may need the assistance of another person" in exiting quickly from an aircraft during an emergency evacuation; and
WHEREAS, in tandem with this regulation the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) also issued an "Advisory Circular" (120-32) containing mostly nonsafety-related, informational material for airlines to use in "serving" the handicapped, and it should be noted that the Advisory Circular on its face far exceeds the purely safety-related mission of the FAA in dealing with the airlines; and
WHEREAS, the FAA's implementation of this rule and Advisory Circular since 1977 has permitted a confusing mixture-of safety-and nonsafety-related, discriminatory procedures to be developed and exercised by each airline within its discretion, resulting in ill-conceived and unjustified, nonsafety related service limitations being placed on blind passengers by many air carriers; and
WHEREAS, the discriminatory impact of this regulation and Advisory Circular (and their discriminatory implementation) have now become unlawful by virtue of the nondiscrimination requirements of the Air Carrier Access Act (Pub. L. 99435); and
WHEREAS, even the alleged original purpose of FAA's regulation and Advisory Circular is now obviated by the Air Carrier Access Act, a statute which supersedes this regulation: Now, therefore,
BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this third day of July, 1987, in the City of Phoenix, Arizona, that this organization call for the removal of 14 CFR Section 121.586 from the Code of Federal Regulations and the withdrawal of Advisory Circular 120-32; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that, if necessary to accomplish this objective, a rulemaking petition shall be filed by this organization with the FAA requesting the removal of this regulation; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization take all necessary actions (both administrative and judicial) in order to secure the prompt repeal of FAA's now unlawful regulation and Advisory Circular.
WHEREAS, the decision of the United States Supreme Court in Grove City College vs. Bell held that recipients of Federal Financial Assistance are only required to observe federal nondiscrimination laws under those programs or activities for which funds from the United States are actually received; and
WHEREAS, this interpretation of the law has placed severe limits on the scope of civil rights protection for blind people, whereby federal fund recipients are not obligated to comply with nondiscrimination requirements of federal agencies and are not subject to civil rights investigations or enforcement procedures in any program that does not utilize federal funds; and
WHEREAS, recipients of federal funds can use the Supreme Court's Grove City decision by applying creative accounting and other procedures deliberately to evade the reach of civil rights laws and regulations; and
WHEREAS, H.R. 1214 and S. 557 now pending in the 100th Congress (respectively introduced by Representative Augustus Hawkins of California and Senator Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts) are bills designed to overturn the Supreme Court's Grove City decision, saying instead that any recipient of Federal Financial Assistance must comply with the federal civil rights laws without any exemption for specific programs and activities: Now, therefore,
BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this third day of July, 1987, in the City of Phoenix, Arizona, that this Federation enthusiastically support the prompt enactment by Congress of legislation to overturn the Supreme Court's Grove City decision; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that we urge all members of the 100th Congress to cooperate in obtaining swift consideration and prompt, favorable action on this top priority civil rights measure.
WHEREAS, the Social Security Act's provisions relating to reimbursement for the costs of vocational rehabilitation services allow payments in most circumstances to be made only to a state vocational rehabilitation agency (or to a state agency for the blind) for providing services authorized in accordance with the Rehabilitation Act of 1973; and
WHEREAS, the Social Security Administration's (SSA) exclusive reliance on services from state agencies approved under the Rehabilitation Act severely limits each blind individual's possibility for achieving substantial gainful activity due principally to the philosophical and service (as well as bureaucratic) inefficiencies of most state agencies; and
WHEREAS, rehabilitation, training, and employment of the blind would improve substantially under a program designed to give blind persons greater freedom in selecting the agencies and services they need rather than being forced to accept the limitations of the state agencies; and
WHEREAS, cooperation by SSA and the Congress is essential to establish and improve reimbursement policy allowing blind beneficiaries a greater choice of services and agencies to provide them: Now, therefore,
BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this third day of July, 1987, in the City of Phoenix, Arizona, that this organization endorse a positive initiative to expand and improve rehabilitation, training, and employment opportunities for the blind beyond the exclusive use of state vocational rehabilitation agencies; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that we request the cooperation of the Social Security Administration and the Congress, as may be necessary, to provide for reimbursement authority and procedures sufficient to make this improved program possible.
WHEREAS, this is the fiftieth year of the Javits-Wagner-O'Day Act, known originally as "An Act to Create a Committee on Purchases of Blind-made Products," approved June 25, 1938; and
WHEREAS, Congress has never altered this Act's basic employment philosophy that jobs for the blind in sheltered workshops should be direct labor in nature and that nonblind persons should be employed at normal or higher salaries to manage and supervise the blind and their work; and
WHEREAS, this fifty-year-old employment philosophy is now grossly out of date and wholly inconsistent with the proven modern-day ability of the blind to compete on terms of equality at all levels in the work force, including in the management and supervision of sheltered workshops; and
WHEREAS, better jobs and fair employment opportunities for the blind in sheltered workshops will only occur if the basic employment philosophy of the Javits-Wagner-O'Day Act is changed to recognize the true abilities of the blind to perform work of all types on a par with others: Now, therefore,
BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this third day of July, 1987, in the City of Phoenix, Arizona, that this organization urge the members and responsible committees of the Congress to adopt a modern-day, accurate employment philosophy for the blind under the Javits-Wagner-O'Day Act; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this revised employment philosophy for the blind in sheltered workshops shall give blind persons priority for all jobs beyond the current requirements for the blind to work in direct labor only.
WHEREAS, by official notice published in the Federal Register of August 22, 1986, the Secretary of Transportation offered commercial air carriers the opportunity to submit any evidence they may have to justify procedures that place limits on the carriage of blind passengers; and
WHEREAS, the carriers and their trade associations expressed varying positions on restrictions that should or should not be placed on blind passengers, but none of the carriers or their trade associations actually provided evidentiary material to the Secretary of Transportation, relying instead on uninformed and unsupportable opinions and beliefs, but not on facts; and
WHEREAS, discrimination against the blind in air travel and otherwise is always a product of belief and myth, and with particular respect to air travel such discrimination is a violation of federal law and a further violation of the laws of most states; and
WHEREAS, federal regulations are not necessary for air carriers to implement policy of nondiscrimination toward the blind, and some carriers actually seem to be making efforts in that direction while other carriers ridiculously persist in exercising their discriminatory policies against the blind: Now, therefore,
BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this third day of July, 1987, In the City of Phoenix, Arizona, that we continue to oppose and deplore the discriminatory restrictions on blind passengers that some airlines still exercise in the face of contrary federal law; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that all air carriers are hereby urged to show good faith in observing the requirements of the law by removing all of their restrictions on air transportation for the blind for which there is provably not the slightest degree of evidentiary basis.
WHEREAS, Congress is considering legislation (House Joint Resolution 90 Senate Joint Resolution 26) to authorize and request the President to a White House Conference on Libraries and Information Services to be held later than 1989 (House Joint 90 having passed the House on June 8, 1987, with both resolutions now in the Senate); and
WHEREAS, blind individuals have unique, special, and growing needs in relationship to libraries and information services, and these needs should be considered during the White House Conference; and
WHEREAS, it is essential that blind users of library and information services participate in the planning of and have substantial representation and participation in the White House Conference on Libraries and Information Services; and
WHEREAS, the National Federation of the Blind is the only entity capable of providing strong representation of the needs of the blind in the White House Conference on Libraries and Information Services; and
WHEREAS, special library services for the blind still provide our principal source of reading matter, and such programs (even where competently managed) will necessarily be limited in what they alone can provide, yet advances in information technology have created many new opportunities for the blind that still must be explored: Now, therefore:
BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this third day of July, 1987, in the City of Phoenix, Arizona, that this organization seek to participate in the White House Conference on Libraries and Information Services; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that we request the assistance of all responsible officials to make participation in this conference possible.
WHEREAS, the National Federation of the Blind annually provides in excess of $65,000 in scholarship grants to meritorious blind students; and
WHEREAS, the purpose of these scholarship grants is to provide for books, equipment, and educational materials not provided by state departments of rehabilitation; and
WHEREAS, these grants cannot be construed as similar benefits, as defined under the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended; and
WHEREAS, at least one state rehabilitation agency has considered the scholarship grants as similar benefits, thus cutting back on services to a client receiving an NFB scholarship grant; and
WHEREAS, considering scholarship grants as similar benefits constitutes a disincentive to the recipient, as well as to the provider of scholarship grants: Now, therefore,
BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this third day of July, 1987, in the City of Phoenix, Arizona, that this organization call upon the Secretary of the United States
Department of Education to issue a directive to state rehabilitation agencies which will clearly exclude National Federation of the Blind scholarship grants from being considered as similar benefits, as defined in the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended.
WHEREAS, the use of a dog guide is one of the choices blind persons make to achieve independence in traveling about safely; and
WHEREAS, in the past, some dog guides have been deliberately injured or killed by malicious persons, who do not care about the value or importance of the dog to the blind user; and
WHEREAS, these victimized dog users have found that local prosecutors are not willing to file or vigorously pursue criminal charges against deliberate destroyers of dog guides; and
WHEREAS, the choice of going to court to enforce penalties against such persons should be placed in the hands of the victimized dog user; and
WHEREAS, the way to give victimized dog users this choice is to create a civil cause of action by the dog user in which recovery can be had for deliberate destruction of a dog guide after simplified, streamlined proof has been offered: Now, therefore,
BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this third day of July, 1987, in the City of Phoenix, Arizona, that this organization call upon the state legislatures, through our state affiliates, to create a cause of action in favor of victimized dog guide users and to provide that the victimized dog guide user receive $1,000 plus attorneys' fees from the destroyer of the dog guide.
WHEREAS, Title XVI of the Social Security Act provides for a Plan to Achieve Self-Support (PASS); and
WHEREAS, the PASS has proven helpful to many blind people in retaining assets to more readily achieve self-support, financial independence, and freedom from public subsidy; and
WHEREAS, the PASS must be specific in informational content and written in a proper format; and
WHEREAS, the PASS is not well understood by the personnel of state rehabilitation agencies receiving funding under Section 110 of the Rehabilitation Act; and
WHEREAS, the PASS would be beneficial to state rehabilitation agencies in achieving quality client closures: Now, therefore,
BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this third day of July, 1987, in the City of Phoenix, Arizona, that this organization call upon the Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA) to require rehabilitation agencies receiving funding under Section 110 of the Rehabilitation Act to provide training to rehabilitation personnel in the proper preparation of the Plan to Achieve Self-Support (PASS), as provided under Title XVI of the Social Security Act; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization call upon RSA to require that state rehabilitation agencies actively promote the use of the PASS by their clients.
WHEREAS, dog guides are a form of Independent mobility used by blind persons; and
WHEREAS, said dog guides are a highly specialized and trained mobility tool and are the only dogs relied upon for independent mobility; and
WHEREAS, blind people throughout the United States of America have the right to travel with freedom and independence, as guaranteed by the United States Constitution; and
WHEREAS, the notable and singular exception to the aforementioned right is a quarantine imposed on dog guides by the State of Hawaii; and
WHEREAS, this quarantine amounts to an abridgment of the Constitutional right of a blind person to travel freely within the United States of America; and
WHEREAS, historically, the Hawaii quarantine has been rationalized on the basis that the State of Hawaii is allegedly rabies free and that such a quarantine is necessary to prevent the introduction of rabies into Hawaii; and
WHEREAS, in a meeting assembled at the Department of Agriculture in the State of Hawaii on May 28, 1987, Dr. George Baer of the Rabies Laboratory of the National Center for Disease Control reported that there were only 100 known cases of dog rabies in the continental United States in 1986 and that none of these cases was transmitted to humans; and
WHEREAS, Dr. Baer also reported that if rabies vaccine is administered to dogs, prior to exposure to rabies, the vaccine is nearly 10 0% effective; and
WHEREAS, special identifying markings, including but not limited to nose prints, teeth castings, tattoos, and recognizable breed characteristics, can be used to insure positive identification of a dog guide; and
WHEREAS, positive vaccination, registration, and identification programs make it possible for the Department of Agriculture of the State of Hawaii to establish a means to allow dog guide users to travel freely with their dog guides to and from the State of Hawaii: Now, therefore,
BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this third day of July, 1987, in the City of Phoenix, Arizona, that this organization call upon the Department of Agriculture of the State of Hawaii to establish a standardized program of vaccination, registration, and identification for dog guides used by the blind; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this Federation demand that the Department of Agriculture of the State of Hawaii immediately establish a program of vaccination, regulation, and identification, which will make it possible for dog guide users to travel freely to and from Hawaii and anywhere else in the United States of America.
WHEREAS, licensure for social workers is required in forty-one states and the District of Columbia; and
WHEREAS, the licensing examinations, which are developed and administered by Assessment Systems, Inc., in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, for the American Association of State Social Work Boards and its member states, are not made available in Braille to blind candidates for licensure; and
WHEREAS, the use of a reader selected by Assessment Systems, Inc., is the only alternative method in which the examination may be administered; and
WHEREAS, Assessment Systems, Inc., uses cost and the potential breach of security as excuses for denying blind people the right to be examined under conditions which would give them parity with their sighted colleagues; and
WHEREAS, other testing services which administer standardized tests do provide tests in Braille to blind candidates without incurring high costs or jeopardizing security: Now, therefore,
BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this third day of July, 1987, in the City of Phoenix, Arizona, that this organization call upon the American Association of State Social Work Boards and Assessment Systems, Inc., to work with the National Federation of the
Blind to ensure that blind candidates for social work licensure are provided the option of taking the licensure examination in Braille or in any other medium of their choice.
WHEREAS, the United States Department of Defense will not accept blind persons into any position whatsoever in the armed forces; and
WHEREAS, the National Federation of the Blind has long advocated that the blind should be able to serve their country in the wide variety of noncombat and support services essential to a modern armed services for which blind and sighted volunteers are equally qualified; and
WHEREAS, in the 1980's, blind volunteers who are highly trained and sophisticated professionals in fields essential to the military have applied for specific, noncombat positions for which they were qualified; and
WHEREAS, these qualified blind volunteers were rejected by the Department of Defense solely on the grounds that they are blind; and
WHEREAS, it is an insult to all blind persons to deny them an opportunity to serve their country in the armed services; and
WHEREAS, outright rejection of blind persons by the military is a violation of Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended (29 USC 794), which prohibits discrimination based on blindness in federally conducted programs: Now, therefore,
BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this third day of July, 1987, in the City of Phoenix, Arizona, that this organization reaffirm its longstanding policy of insisting that the blind can serve and should be able to serve in the armed forces of this nation; and
BE IT RESOLVED that this organization call upon the United States Department of Defense to stop violating Section 504 and to begin immediately accepting qualified blind volunteers into specific, noncombat positions for which they are trained and qualified.
WHEREAS, an important goal of the National Federation of the Blind is to improve education for blind children; and
WHEREAS, there are substantial differences in quality and philosophy of educators at universities and elementary and high schools regarding techniques and goals achievable by blind children; and
WHEREAS, the National Federation of the Blind wishes to provide an incentive for teachers to encourage blind children to develop a high degree of self-respect, good skill in Braille reading and writing, independent travel, and to have healthy experiences in extracurricular activities, as well as a high quality academic education; and
WHEREAS, teachers of blind children are regarded as expert in all the above mentioned areas and thus have a huge influence on the development of blind children, often much more than any individual teacher influences the lives of sighted children: Now, therefore,
BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this third day of July, 1987, in the City of Phoenix, Arizona, that this organization establish an award for the outstanding educator of blind children to be presented, when appropriate, during the annual convention, said award to be advertised widely throughout educational journals.
WHEREAS, fluency in reading and writing is fundamental to the education of all students, including blind students; and
WHEREAS, Braille is the accepted and most efficient system of reading and writing for the blind; and
WHEREAS, an essential part of learning to read and write Braille is early instruction in the use of a slate and stylus; and
WHEREAS, Braille literacy opens the door to employment and first-class citizenship to the blind of this nation; and
WHEREAS, there is an increasing number of blind students, including those with some residual vision, who are graduating from secondary schools without Braille literacy skills: Now, therefore,
BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this third day of July, 1987, in the City of Phoenix, Arizona, that this organization demand that Braille reading and writing be a required part of the curriculum for all blind students attending elementary and secondary schools; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that instruction in the use of the slate and stylus commence at the onset of Braille instruction and continue throughout the instructional program.
WHEREAS, the American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) held a conference entitled "The Visually Impaired Traveler in Mass Transit: Issues in Orientation and Mobility", which was cosponsored by the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) and the American Public Transit Association (APIA) in Washington, D.C., on January 11 and 12, 1987; and
WHEREAS, the participants in this conference included "orientation and mobility specialists", rehabilitation professionals who purport to teach blind persons to travel independently, as well as transit officials from the United States and several other countries; and
WHEREAS, the formal presentations and activities, as well as comments of participants, demonstrated a complete lack of belief in the ability of blind persons to travel independently, unless rail and bus systems are modified with the installation of such outrageous and expensive features as materials of contrasting texture and color on stairs and platform edges and special signs and lighting; and
WHEREAS, in an exercise at Gallery Place Subway Station, sighted orientation and mobility specialists, simulating blindness, tripped noticeably on the escalators and walked very hesitantly using poor cane techniques; and
WHEREAS, in the simulated train emergency, some of the so-called "specialists" expressed nervousness and a WMATA official directed that blind passengers leave their canes behind and follow sighted persons in a train evacuation between stations; and
WHEREAS, activities of this conference, including simulation of blindness by sighted persons, perpetuated demeaning and discriminatory treatment of blind passengers by the transit industry; and
WHEREAS, given proper training and opportunity, blind persons travel independently, efficiently, and safely on all modes of public transportation; and
WHEREAS, blind persons who travel daily by mass transit are the true experts on transportation issues affecting them, not the self-serving professionals in work with the blind: Now, therefore,
BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this third day of July, 1987, in the City of Phoenix, Arizona, that this organization condemn and deplore the American Foundation for the Blind for convening the conference—"The Visually Impaired Traveler in Mass Transit: Issues in Orientation and Mobility", thereby severely harming the blind by giving credence to the erroneous notion that blind persons cannot travel or otherwise lead their lives unless the world is specially modified for them; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization once again strongly urge the American Public Transit Association, the Urban Mass Transit Administration, and transit carriers across the country to work with the more than 50,000 member National Federation of the Blind for meaningful consumer input regarding all matters affecting blind transit passengers.
WHEREAS, Congress is considering various options for providing catastrophic health insurance protection, principally by expanding the existing Medicare Program to include this coverage; and
WHEREAS, catastrophic health insurance coverage should be available to all blind participants in Medicare and should not be restricted only to those individuals (blind or not), who have attained the age of 65; and
WHEREAS, costs for catastrophic health insurance protection would not be affected adversely by including blind Medicare participants regardless of their age: Now, therefore,
BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this third day of July, 1987, in the City of Phoenix, Arizona, that this organization call for legislation to include blind Medicare participants of any age in any program of catastrophic health insurance that Congress may adopt.
WHEREAS, the National Federation of the Blind is the oldest and largest organization of blind consumers in this country; and
WHEREAS, in the course of business and personal endeavors blind people, like others in our society, find it necessary to rent motor vehicles; and
WHEREAS, it is the practice of many car rental companies to require possession of a valid driver's license and a major credit card; and
WHEREAS, since blind people do not possess a driver's license, they are therefore prohibited from renting motor vehicles: Now, therefore,
BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this third day of July, 1987, in the City of Phoenix, Arizona, that this organization call upon the major car rental companies to work with the National Federation of the Blind to develop reasonable policies which make it possible for blind people to rent motor vehicles from these companies.
WHEREAS, the National Federation of the Blind is concerned with the needs of the deaf-blind; and
WHEREAS, communication is essential to their participation in community life; and
WHEREAS, it is the policy of some states to provide telecommunication devices for the deaf-blind: Now, therefore,
BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this third day of July, 1987, in the City of Phoenix, Arizona, that this organization commend those states which have enacted programs to provide telecommunications devices for the deaf-blind; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that we call upon all states that do not have such programs to enact such legislation.
WHEREAS, for its National Convention each year, the National Federation of the Blind invites selected federal officials to address and participate in its meetings—federal officials who can speak authoritatively concerning the programs administered by the agencies which they represent and who have the authority to make policy decisions on issues which may arise at such meetings; and
WHEREAS, Mr. Justin Dart, Jr., Commissioner of the Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA), United States Department of Education, was invited to and did participate in the Annual Convention of the National Federation of the Blind on July 1, 1987, in Phoenix, Arizona; and
WHEREAS, during the question and answer period following Mr. Dart's formal presentation, he consistently stated that he did not have the authority to make simple decisions concerning actions which his agency might take—for example:
(1) When Mr. Dart was asked whether RSA would support federal legislation to improve upward mobility opportunities for blind sheltered shop employees, he stated that as RSA Commissioner he did not have authority to support such legislation;
(2) When he was asked whether he would attend or send a responsible official to attend the next annual meeting of the largest organization of blind vendors in the United States, the National Federation of the Blind Merchants Division, to discuss major problems with the Randolph-Sheppard Program, he stated that as RSA Commissioner he did not have the authority to authorize travel for RSA officials to attend national meetings of blind consumers and that, infact, he had paid his own expenses to attend the Federation's meeting in Phoenix since he did not have the authority to authorize his own travel; and
(3) When he was asked to convene a meeting with Rehabilitation, Education and National Federation of the Blind officials to straighten out confusion as to whether Rehabilitation or Education is responsible to provide basic services for blind college students, he stated that as RSA Commissioner he did not have the authority to call a meeting; and
WHEREAS, it is unthinkable that an agency head appointed by the President of the United States to administer a major program should not have the authority to make those simple decisions necessary to administer the program effectively: Now, therefore,
BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this third day of July, 1987, in the City of Phoenix, Arizona, that this organization condemn and deplore the ridiculous policy of the United States Department of Education as enunciated by Commissioner Dart, which make the Office of the Commissioner completely ineffective; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization call upon the Secretary of Education to alter this ludicrous policy so that the RSA Commissioner has the authority to take meaningful action; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this intolerable situation be brought to the attention of President Reagan and members of the United States Congress.
ARTICLE I. NAME
The name of this organization is The National Federation of the Blind.
ARTICLE II. PURPOSE
The purpose of the National Federation of the Blind is to serve as a vehicle for collective action by the blind of the nation; to function as a mechanism through which the blind and interested sighted persons can come together in local, state, and national meetings to plan and carry out programs to improve the quality of life for the blind; to provide a means of collective action for parents of blind children; to promote the vocational, cultural, and social advancement of the blind; to achieve the integration of the blind into society on a basis of equality with the sighted; and to take any other action which will improve the overall condition and standard of living of the blind.
ARTICLE III. MEMBERSHIP
Section A. The membership of The National Federation of the Blind shall consist of the members of the state affiliates, the members of divisions, and members at large. Members of divisions and members at large shall have same rights, privileges, and responsibilities in The National Federation of the Blind as members of state affiliates.
The Board of Directors shall establish procedures for admission of divisions and shall determine the structure of divisions. The divisions shall, with the approval of the Board, adopt Constitutions and determine their membership policies. Membership in divisions shall not be conditioned upon membership in state affiliates.
The Board of Directors shall establish procedures for admission of members at large, determine how many classes of such members shall be established, and determine the annual dues to be paid by members of each class.
Section B. Each state or territorial possession of the United States, including the District of Columbia, having an affiliate shall have one vote at the National Convention. These organizations shall be referred to as state affiliates.
Section C. State affiliates shall be organizations of the blind controlled by the blind. No organization shall be recognized as an "organization of the blind controlled by the blind" unless at least a majority of its voting members and a majority of the voting members of each of its local chapters are blind.
Section D. The Board of Directors shall establish procedures for the admission of state affiliates. There shall be only one state affiliate in each state.
Section E. Any member, local chapter, state affiliate, or division of this organization may be suspended, expelled, or otherwise disciplined for misconduct or for activity unbecoming to a member or affiliate of this organization by a two-thirds vote of the Board of Directors or by a simple majority of the states present and voting at a National Convention. If the action is to be taken by the Board, there must be good cause, and a good faith effort must have been made to try to resolve the problem by discussion and negotiation. If the action is to be taken by the Convention, notice must be given on the preceding day at an open Board meeting or a session of the Convention. If a dispute arises as to whether there was "good cause," or whether the Board made a "good faith effort," the National Convention (acting in its capacity as the supreme authority of the Federation) shall have the power to make final disposition of the matter; but until or unless the Board's action is reversed by the National Convention, the ruling of the Board shall continue in effect.
ARTICLE IV. OFFICERS, BOARD OF DIRECTORS, AND NATIONAL ADVISORY BOARD
Section A. The officers of The National Federation of the Blind shall be: (1) President, (2) First Vice President, (3) Second Vice President, (4) Secretary, and (5) Treasurer. They shall be elected biennially.
Section B. The officers shall be elected by majority vote of the state affiliates present and voting at a National Convention.
Section C. The National Federation of the Blind shall have a Board of Directors, which shall be composed of the five officers and twelve additional members, six of whom shall be elected at the Annual Convention during even numbered years and six of whom shall be elected at the Annual Convention during odd numbered years. The members of the Board of Directors shall serve for two-year terms.
Section D. The Board of Directors may, in its discretion, create a National Advisory Board and determine the duties and qualifications of the members of the National Advisory Board.
ARTICLE V. POWERS AND DUTIES OF THE CONVENTION, THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS, AND THE PRESIDENT
Section A. Powers and Duties of the Convention. The Convention is the supreme authority of the Federation. It is the legislature of the Federation. As such, it has final authority with respect to all issues of policy. Its decisions shall be made after opportunity has been afforded for full and fair discussion. Delegates and members in attendance may participate in all Convention discussions as a matter of right. Any member of the Federation may make or second motions, propose nominations, and serve on committees; and is eligible for election to office, except that only blind members may be elected to the National Board. Voting and making motions by proxy are prohibited. Consistent with the democratic character of the Federation, Convention meetings shall be so conducted as to prevent parliamentary maneuvers which would have the effect of interfering with the expression of the will of the majority on any question, or with the rights of the minority to full and fair presentation of their views. The Convention is not merely a gathering of representatives of separate state organizations. It is a meeting of the Federation at the national level in its character as a national organization. Committees of the Federation are committees of the national organization. The nominating committee shall consist of one member each state affiliate represented at the Convention, and each state affiliate shall appoint its member to committee. From among the members of the committee, the President shall appoint a chairperson.
B. Powers and Duties of the Board of Directors. The function of the Board of Directors as the governing body of the Federation between Conventions is to make policies when necessary and not in conflict with the policies adopted by the Convention. Policy decisions which can reasonably be postponed until the next meeting of the National Convention shall not be made by the Board of Directors.
The Board of Directors shall serve as a credentials committee. It shall have the power to deal with organizational problems presented to it by any member, local chapter, state affiliate, or division; shall decide appeals regarding the validity of elections in local chapters, state affiliates, or divisions ; and shall certify the credentials of delegates when questions regarding the validity of such credentials arise. By a two-thirds vote the Board may suspend one of its members for violation of a policy of the organization or for other action unbecoming to a member of the Federation. By a two-thirds vote the Board may reorganize any local chapter, state affiliate, or division. The Board may not suspend one of its own members or reorganize a local chapter, state affiliate, or division except for good cause and after a good faith effort has been made to try to resolve the problem by discussion and negotiation. If a dispute arises as to whether there was "good cause" or whether the Board made a "good faith effort," the National Convention (acting in its capacity as the supreme authority of the Federation) shall have the power to make final disposition of the matter; but until or unless the Board's action is reversed by the National Convention, the ruling of the Board shall continue in effect. There shall be a standing subcommittee of the Board of Directors which shall consist of three members. The committee shall be known as the Subcommittee on Budget and Finance. It shall, whenever it deems necessary, recommend to the Board of Directors principles of budgeting, accounting procedures, and methods of financing the Federation program; and shall consult with the President on major expenditures.
The Board of Directors shall meet at the time of each National Convention. It shall hold other meetings on the call of the President or on the written request of any five members.
Section C. Powers and Duties of the President. The President is the principal administrative officer of the Federation. In this capacity his or her duties consist of: carrying out the policies adopted by the Convention; conducting the day-to-day management of the affairs of the Federation; authorizing expenditures from the Federation treasury in accordance with and in implementation of the policies established by the Convention; appointing all committees of the Federation except the Nominating Committee; coordinating all activities of the Federation, including the work of other officers and of committees; hiring, supervising, and dismissing staff members and other employees of the Federation, and determining their numbers and compensation; taking all administrative actions necessary and proper to put into effect the programs and accomplish the purposes of the Federation.
The implementation and administration of the interim policies adopted by the Board of Directors are the responsibility of the President as principal administrative officer of the Federation.
ARTICLE VI. STATE AFFILIATES
Any organized group desiring to become a state affiliate of The National Federation of the Blind shall apply for affiliation by submitting to the President of The National Federation of the Blind a copy of its constitution and a list of the names and addresses of its elected officers. Under procedures to be established by the Board of Directors, action shall be taken on the application. If the action is affirmative, The National Federation of the Blind shall issue to the organization a charter of affiliation. Upon request of the National President the state affiliate shall provide to the National President the names and addresses of its members. Copies of all amendments to the constitution and/or bylaws of an affiliate shall be sent without delay to the National President. No organization shall be accepted as an affiliate and no organization shall remain an affiliate unless at least a majority of its voting members are blind. The president, vice president (or vice presidents), and at least a majority of the executive committee or board of directors of the state affiliate and of all of its local chapters must be blind. Affiliates must not merely be social organizations but must formulate programs and actively work to promote the economic and social betterment of the blind. Affiliates and their local chapters must comply with the provisions of the Constitution of the Federation. Policy decisions of the Federation are binding upon all affiliates and local chapters, and the affiliate and its local chapters must participate affirmatively in carrying out such policy decisions. The name National Federation of the Blind, Federation of the Blind, or any variant thereof is the property of The National Federation of the Blind; and any affiliate, or local chapter of an affiliate, which ceases to be part of The National Federation of the Blind (for whatever reason) shall forthwith forfeit the right to use the name National Federation of the Blind, Federation of the Blind, or any variant thereof.
A general convention of the membership of an affiliate or of the elected delegates of the membership must be held and its principal executive officers must be elected at least once every two years. There can be no closed membership. Proxy voting is prohibited in state affiliates and local chapters. Each affiliate must have a written constitution or bylaws setting forth its structure, the authority of its officers, and the basic procedures which it will follow. No publicly contributed funds may be divided among the membership of an affiliate or local chapter on the basis of membership, and (upon request from the National Office) an affiliate or local chapter must present an accounting of all of its receipts and expenditures. An affiliate or local chapter must not indulge in attacks upon the officers, Board members, leaders, or members of the Federation or upon the organization itself outside of the organization, and must not allow its officers or members to indulge in such attacks. This requirement shall not be interpreted to interfere with the right of an affiliate or local chapter, or its officers or members, to carry on a political campaign inside the Federation for election to office or to achieve policy changes. However, the organization will not sanction or permit deliberate sustained campaigns of internal organizational destruction by state affiliates, local chapters, or members. No affiliate or local chapter may join or support, or allow its officers or members to join or support, any temporary or permanent organization inside the Federation which has not received the sanction and approval of the Federation.
ARTICLE VII. DISSOLUTION
In the event of dissolution, all assets of the organization shall be given to an organization with similar purposes which has received a 501(c)(3) certification by the Internal Revenue Service.
ARTICLE VIII. AMENDMENTS
This Constitution may be amended at any regular Annual Convention of the Federation by an affirmative vote of two-thirds of the state affiliates registered, present, and voting; provided that the proposed amendment shall have been signed by five state affiliates in good standing and that it shall have been presented to the President the day before final action by the Convention.