The Braille Monitor
Vol. 33, No. 9 September 1990
Barbara Pierce, Editor
Published in inkprint, Braille, on talking-book disc, and cassette by
THE NATIONAL FEDERATION OF THE BLIND
MARC MAURER, PRESIDENT
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THE BRAILLE MONITOR PUBLICATION OF THE NATIONAL FEDERATION OF THE BLIND
Vol. 33, No. 9 September 1990
by Barbara Pierce
FIFTY YEARS OF GOLD
by Marc Maurer
THE FEDERATION AT FIFTY
An Address Delivered by KENNETH JERNIGAN At the Banquet of the
Annual Convention of the National Federation of the Blind Dallas,
Texas, July 5, 1990
NATIONAL FEDERATION OF THE BLIND AWARDS FOR 1990
1990 SCHOLARSHIP PRESENTATION
AWARD FROM THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES
WALKING ALONE AND MARCHING TOGETHER
BY THE ANNUAL
OF THE NATIONAL FEDERATION OF THE BLIND
THE NATIONAL FEDERATION OF THE BLIND
AS AMENDED 1986
Constitution of the National Federation of the blind
Copyright, National Federation of the Blind, Inc., 1990.
by Barbara Pierce
There is always a danger in anticipation. Do any events ever live up to our expectations? Looking back on the birthday and holiday celebrations of childhood, most people will admit to a string of disappointments running through their memories of those occasions that they had expected to be most thrilling. Many Federationists, if we are honest with ourselves, would probably admit to having felt a tinge of worry before our golden anniversary convention for fear we were perhaps expecting too much that it was really impossible for any convention to live up to the billing this one had been receiving. But now that it is behind us and we are settling down to the task of writing the next chapter in the history of the emancipation of the blind, we can safely proclaim that this was truly an unforgettable experience a high mark for the planners of the NFB centennial celebration in 2040 to set their sights on.
The Hyatt Regency DFW was splendid, and the hotel staff was absolutely first-rate. In addition to hotel restaurants, there was a glorified hot-dog stand near the convention ballroom and the exhibit hall. On the busiest days there was also a delicious buffet, which guaranteed that one could get a tasty, efficiently served, inexpensive meal without a long wait. And, although the elevator lobbies were frequently crowded, the fact that the hotel had two towers (each only moderately tall) meant that many of us could resort to the stairs to get to our rooms without much difficulty.
The convention began at a dead run on Saturday, June 30, 1990, with shuttles to a nearby mall; a trip to Six Flags Over Texas for older children; wonderful activities for the younger ones (including a delightful clown who spends her serious time as an attorney and active member of the NFB); two workshops for writers; and the annual day-long seminar for parents and educators of blind children, this year entitled Who Are the Professionals and What Should They Do? The importance of striving to establish healthy, thorough, well-balanced rehabilitation for blind youngsters was demonstrated early in the seminar by a panel of charming teens from the summer program of the Louisiana Center for the Blind. Before ducking out for a day of fun at Six Flags, these youngsters told parents and teachers about coming to terms with blindness and learning that they really are capable of achieving, now that they are developing good attitudes from strong role models and are being taught the alternative techniques that will ultimately make them competitive adults.
Here's what Angela Howard, age thirteen, had to say in part: I never really saw a blind person before in my life. I just thought what everybody else thought, that they were kind of weird standing on the corner selling pencils, with one red sock and one blue sock...But after I met Ernie and Zack and all of them, they were kind of normal well, they are not normal, but they're not weird. [laughter] I mean, they're not like a blind person. I mean, they're not like I thought that blind people were; they were different. And I thought that I could still be that way. A panel of parents, medical professionals, and educational specialists of various kinds discussed the role of professionals from their different perspectives and concluded that, essential as their expertise is, there is simply no substitute for informed parents and good blind role models.
Rather than getting a good night's sleep in preparation for the exhausting day and week ahead, many conventioneers whooped it up with the host affiliate at a Texas-style hoe-down. Hospitality in general this year took place in two different locations one with tables for quiet conversation and group singing around a piano, and the other with space for dancing and the type of music usually enjoyed by the young or, at least, by those who like the loud. Texas warmth and welcome were available in both hospitality areas, in the Texas suite, and everywhere else a Texan was to be found.
Sunday morning was given over as usual to convention registration and exhibits. With the streamlined system perfected by the Federation registration team, hundreds of people an hour passed through the line and went on to discover what was new in the exhibit area. Technology of every description was on display, as well as an amazing range of items for sale by professional vendors, NFB divisions, state affiliates, and local chapters. In the NFB store three new products were of special interest. The NFB cookbook, which includes every recipe that appeared in the Braille Monitor during the first fifty years, was available for the first time. It is a handsome, spiral-bound book that will lie flat when open, and each recipe includes a note about the person who contributed it. After preliminary work by the Minnesota affiliate, the California affiliate assembled this masterpiece, and we are all grateful to have it. It sells for $15, and those who did not snap it up at the convention can order it from the National Center for the Blind. Gold, silver, and bronze NFB anniversary medallions were also for sale in the exhibit hall, and many Federation desks and pockets across the nation are graced now by one of these mementos of our fiftieth-year celebration. They can still be purchased from the NFB at $500 for the gold, $25 for the silver, and $5 for the bronze. The new carbon-fiber straight canes were available for the first time, and many Federationists took advantage of the opportunity to buy this tougher, lighter version of the standard NFB cane. The carbon-fiber telescoping canes which were test marketed at the 1989 convention were also available in a number of lengths this year. The straight canes cost $30, and the telescoping ones are $35. As always, the exhibit hall this year was everyone's favorite place to spend a little extra time dreaming and having fun.
Twelve committees and divisions met Sunday afternoon or evening, and sixteen did so on Monday. In addition, Mary Kay Cosmetics conducted a seminar on Sunday evening for those interested in color coordination and grooming. It was a tremendous success, and the NFB received a sizable contribution as a result. The Resolutions Committee debated and eventually sent to the floor twenty-two resolutions for consideration by the convention later in the week. The texts of these resolutions appear elsewhere in this issue.
President Maurer gaveled the annual meeting of the Board of Directors to order at 9:00 a.m. on Monday, July 2. As usual, a number of announcements and presentations were made, including gifts to the national organization of $4,000 from the Cambridge, Massachusetts, chapter and $90,000 from the Connecticut affiliate. Early in the meeting, at a time when the upcoming election was being discussed, Bob Eschbach of Ohio announced that, after fourteen years of service on the Board, he did not plan to allow his name to be placed in nomination this year. He commented that he was grateful and honored to have shared in the leadership of the National Federation of the Blind throughout these years but that it was time for younger hands and hearts to have this opportunity. He assured the organization that he would continue to serve wherever he is needed, and he reiterated once again the truth that we all understand leadership in the Federation is characterized by service.
In responding to this announcement, President Maurer said, I know of no one who has served more faithfully in the National Federation of the Blind than Bob Eschbach. The most exciting moment of the morning was the unveiling of Walking Alone and Marching Together: The History of the Organized Blind Movement in the United States, 1940-1990 . This monumental work, written by Floyd Matson, has over 1100 pages and sells for $30. (After October 1, 1990, there will be an additional charge of $3 for shipping and handling.) Dr. Matson, who was Dr. tenBroek's student and later his colleague and friend, was present to autograph copies bought during the convention. His hand was undoubtedly tired by the time Friday evening arrived. The very first copy of the book was presented at the beginning of the Board meeting by President Maurer to Mrs. Hazel tenBroek.
President Maurer said:
Dr. Jernigan was just showing the audience a copy of our book. I have here that copy. It has been inscribed by the author and is the first copy of this book to be distributed. It is only right that this organization's first First Lady should be the one to receive it. I want to present to you, Mrs. tenBroek, the history of what Dr. tenBroek began fifty years ago. Here is Walking Alone and Marching Together .
Mrs. tenBroek responded: What an exciting moment for the Federation and for me. I would like to say a few words about Floyd. I first knew him when he was a graduate student at the University of California at Berkeley. We saw a lot of him at our house. I am sure, from what I know of Floyd, that this book is probably one of the most competent things that has been done in the history of blindness. The scholarship class of 1990 was introduced to the convention at the Board meeting, and an impressive group of students they are. Peggy Pinder, Chairman of the Scholarship Committee, announced that $71,000 would be divided among these young men and women as scholarships in tribute to their academic excellence and dedication to community service. In addition, all twenty-six NFB scholars were presented with convention scholarships to enable them to be our guests at the convention again this year.
Dr. Tim Cranmer, Chairman of the Research and Development Committee, demonstrated to the organization a rough prototype of the NFB scientific calculator, which will carry out computations to fifteen places to the right of the decimal point. At last year's convention, Dr. Abraham Nemeth introduced the NFB's calculator program for use with IBM-compatible computers, and by next year the committee hopes to have the first models of the stand-alone scientific calculator for inspection. Dr. Cranmer demonstrated the operation of the prototype and allowed the audience to hear its voice, which bears a remarkable resemblance to that of Dr. Jernigan.
Traditionally the NFB recognizes those who have worked hardest and most successfully in the effort to recruit members-at-large (associates). This year we announced both the top ten member-recruiters and the top ten money-raisers. President Maurer announced them as follows: Number ten, Sharon Davis, Michigan, with 51 Associates, and Larry Streeter, Nebraska, with $1,250; number nine, Marc Maurer, Maryland, with 63 Associates, and Fred Schroeder, New Mexico, with $1,420; number eight, Verla Kirsh, Iowa, with 64, and Mary Ellen Jernigan, Maryland, with $1,815; number seven, Gary Jones, Illinois, with 66, and Duane Gerstenberger, Maryland, with $1,830; number six, Fred Schroeder, New Mexico, with 81, and Norman Gardner, Arizona, with $2,370.50; number five, Frank Lee, Alabama, with 83, and Bill Isaacs, Illinois, with $2,571; number four, Norman Gardner, Arizona, with 150, and Tom Stevens, Missouri, with $2,596; number three, Bill Isaacs, Illinois, with 185, and Jim Omvig, Arizona, with $2,809; number two, Tom Stevens, Missouri, with 204, and Marc Maurer, Maryland, with $3,468; and number one in both categories, with 258 Associates and $8,516 raised, Kenneth Jernigan, Maryland. At 10:00 a.m. on Tuesday morning, President Maurer gaveled the first general session of the 1990 convention to order, and Glenn Crosby, President of the National Federation of the Blind of Texas, welcomed the convention to the Lone Star State. Harold Snider, until recently the Director of Outreach for Persons with Disabilities at the Republican National Committee, made a presentation to President Maurer. He said:
Mr. President, Dr. Jernigan, fellow Federationists: This morning I have the great pleasure and privilege to present to Marc Maurer, on behalf of the President of the United States, Goerge Bush, and the Republican National Committee, a Presidential medal in honor of the 50th anniversary of the National Federation of the Blind. This inaugural medal is a bronze circle two and three quarters inches in diameter. On the obverse is pictured the American eagle and a bust of President George Bush, with the President's signature beneath and his name printed around the edge. The reverse side of the medal displays a picture of the sculpture of Freedom from the Capitol dome with the words E Pluribus Unum at her feet. The inscription says Forty-first President of the United States of America. The words Inaugurated, January 20, 1989, and Two Hundredth Anniversary of the Presidential Inaugural appear around the edge. In accepting this award, President Maurer said: I shall be pleased to display this medal proudly, and I do so for this organization, which has meant so much to so many blind people.
The remainder of the Tuesday morning session was devoted to the roll call of states. The Tuesday afternoon general session began with the annual Presidential Report. In addition to reviewing the past year's battles and accomplishments, President Maurer looked back in this fiftieth-anniversary report to the progress that has been made by the Federation during its entire history. In summing up the role that the Federation has always played and the work it continues to do, President Maurer said:
When it comes to civil rights for the blind, we are really the only ball game in town. Nobody else has the knowledge, the skill, the determination, and the conviction that we possess. Nobody has the tenacity and the willingness to meet conflict half-way or the ability to settle arguments with finality. We have a reputation and we deserve it.
The report, which appears in full elsewhere in this issue, was filled with evidence of what we the blind are doing to earn our rightful place in the community, and it rang with the promise we have made to ourselves and to the coming generations that we will not rest until this work is complete. The final words of the 1990 Presidential Report were a summation of our record, our work in hand, and our dreams for tomorrow:
I have met the great body of the Federation, and I am absolutely certain that the first fifty years are only the beginning. With the Federation as our vehicle, and a spirit of determination as our driving force, we will create a climate of equality for all of the blind. The stakes are too high and the costs of failure too great to do anything less. With all of the problems we face, our future has never looked better. Therefore, with joy, with enthusiasm, with purpose, let us go to meet our second half century. This is my hope, this is my certainty, and this is my report to you on this golden anniversary. Following the tumultuous response to the Presidential Report, Congressman Martin Frost (representative from the twenty-fourth district of Texas) spoke to the convention on the subject Representing the People in Congress: The Blind Are Heard in Washington. During the question period that followed Congressman Frost's remarks, a lively exchange took place between Dr. Jernigan and the speaker.
Dr. Jernigan: I want to talk to you for a moment about the air carrier bill we have in Congress. That bill, you may know, says that you can't discriminate against people by limiting where they sit on planes on the basis of their eyesight. It's about as simple as the amendment you mentioned to the Americans with Disabilities Act. Senator Hollings introduced that bill in the Senate, and it has thirty-four or thirty-five co-sponsors. It passed out of Senate committee after hearings. It undoubtedly would have passed the Senate had it not been for the fact that it got involved with people trying to put all kinds of Christmas tree amendments on it. There was a motion, as you heard in the Presidential Report and as you may have known anyway, for cloture, so that there could be a vote on the bill itself. That vote was fifty-six in favor; it fell short. We will deal with it in the Senate. In the House we have a different problem. There are 182 of your colleagues in the House who have co-sponsored that bill. For whatever reason, I regret to say that you have not yet seen fit to do that. Now, the real problem we have in the House is not that we cannot muster the votes to pass the bill; the real problem is that Congressman Oberstar, who heads the Sub-Committee, has said that he doesn't like the bill, and he isn't going to give us a hearing. It doesn't matter how many co-sponsors we have. That seems to me a little high-handed. It seems to me the American way is, if you've got 182 of the members of that body who have put their names to a bill and co-sponsored it, at least we deserve the right to be heard even if the committee votes us down. I'll say just this to you, and then I want to ask you a question. You are a member of the majority party in the House. You are not a man without influence; you are a member of the Rules Committee. You have some seniority. The problem that we keep facing is that people say they have great respect for our noble and heroic and courageous wish to be independent they have a lot of compassion for us, but this is a matter of airline safety. That's all very touching and all very phoney. That is, compassion in this matter is inappropriate, either way it goes. If we really are a greater hazard than others sitting in exit row seats, then we don't want to sit there; we shouldn't sit there; and anybody who wants us to sit there is nuts. Compassion has nothing to do with it. On the other hand, if we're not a greater hazard than others, then compassion still has nothing to do with it because in that case, if we are moved arbitrarily from those seats and, therefore, put at greater risk because whoever sits closest to the exit door, as you may know, has the best chance of getting out in case of a disaster in that case we still aren't dealing with compassion. We're dealing with pure discrimination. But it is a matter of fact and not sloppy emotionalism, either way you cut it.
For years we were told by the Federal Aviation Administration that we did not constitute a greater risk than others in those seats, and only when the airlines put pressure on them and a lawyer in the FAA dealt with some of the Flight Safety people did they reverse themselves. Furthermore, we participated in a test evacuation of one of the big DC-10 planes and made video tapes. We offered that in evidence before the Senate committee. We went to the White House, as you have heard, and talked with President Bush, and he said, Well, if it's not a matter of safety, why I'll put a stop to all this discrimination if I can if I have the power. Well, of course he has the power. He said, by the way, that his evidence was that Secretary Skinner was so much concerned that he went down there himself to see if a blind fellow could open one of those doors. Can you imagine that? That is comparable to asking somebody with no experience to go to a hospital and see what could be done with surgical instruments it's foolishness! Secretary Skinner may be a good man, but he has no knowledge of what a blind person can do in a plane. Only these two final things: There has never been, in the whole history of aviation, any recorded incident when a blind person impeded the evacuation of a plane or was any way involved in a hazardous procedure in a plane. There have, however, been instances and they are documentable; one of our members was involved in which, when there was smoke in that plane and the lights were out, a blind man it would also apply to a blind woman, but this happened to be a man helped other passengers get out of that plane. We have the testimony of a pilot who flies the big jets saying that, in his experience and in his professional opinion, (remember that this is a sworn statement) the plane would be safer if you had an otherwise able-bodied blind person sitting in that exit row, just because of the kind of case I have described to you. With all of that, I am asking you two things today: Will you try to help us get a hearing before Congressman Oberstar's committee regardless of whether you think you can support the bill or not? That seems to be the American way to do things. And the second thing is will you either based on what we have said to you, or, if that isn't sufficient, based on evidence which you will let us show you will you co-sponsor our bill and make it 183? Please answer those two for me. Congressman Frost: The answer is yes to both, and I will be happy to visit with Congressman Oberstar, whom I know very well. I can't guarantee that I can convince him that he should hold hearings on this bill, but I'll be happy to take it up with him. Dr. Jernigan: Okay, and on the other thing, what do we need to do to deal with you on whether or not you might consider being a co-sponsor?
Congressman Frost: Oh, I think you've persuaded me; I think you can count me in that number.
Dr. Jernigan: All right, that's all we can ask. Thank you.
The remainder of the afternoon session was devoted to four agenda items. Ramona Walhof an independent businesswoman, member of the National Federation of the Blind Board of Directors, and Secretary of the NFB's Merchants' Division spoke on the topic Highway Vending: A Major Recent Component of the Randolph-Sheppard Program. Wolfgang Zoellner (Deputy Commissioner, Public Buildings Service, General Services Administration) next discussed Randolph-Sheppard Program in America: Prospects for the 1990s. Research Projects That Help the Blind was the title of an adddress delivered by Marie Leinhaas, Director of Clinical Social Work, Wilmer Vision Research and Rehabilitation Center, Johns Hopkins University. The afternoon ended with a report from Mohymen Saddeek, President of the BIT Corporation, on What's New in Products for the Blind. At 5:15 that afternoon, buses began transporting conventioneers to and from the site of the Texas Barbecue at Bear Creek, a seven-minute drive from the hotel. In addition to a delicious dinner of mesquite-grilled beef, corn, baked beans, cole slaw, and fruit cobbler, conventioneers enjoyed free soft drinks and beer all evening provided by our host affiliate. There were live music and much conviviality under the Texas stars. But the Wednesday general session began punctually at 8:30 a.m. with the election of officers and half the at-large members of the Board of Directors. Those still having another year of their terms to serve are Donald Capps, South Carolina; Joanne Fernandes, Louisiana; Priscilla Ferris, Massachusetts; Betty Niceley, Kentucky; Fred Schroeder, New Mexico; and Gary Wunder, Missouri. The following officers and members of the Board of Directors were elected enthusiastically to serve until July of 1992:
President, Marc Maurer. In his response to the convention's thunderous election by acclamation, President Maurer said: Thank you very much for that vote of confidence. Before this convention Dr. Jernigan and I were talking about the movement, and each of us encouraged the other to try to make it to the hundredth anniversary. He said to me that he'd be there and he hoped that I'd make it. I thought the same thing I hoped that I'd make it, too, and I hope he's there. It is a wonderful organization, and I very much appreciate your support. First Vice President, Diane McGeorge, Colorado, who responded to her election by saying:
Thank you all very much. It is a privilege to be elected; it's a privilege to be a part of this organization. I look at the agenda this morning, and I can't wait to get to the history because I think that the last fifty years has been terrific but, with the leadership of President Maurer and the Board and all of you, I know that the next fifty years is going to be even more terrific. Thank you again.
Second Vice President, Peggy Pinder, Iowa, who said: Mr. President, the National Federation of the Blind has given me the security to know who I am, the opportunity to know where I am going, and the equality to know I can do it. Dr. Jernigan has taught me that it is my duty to give to others what has been so generously given to me. You, Mr. President, have taught me by your example about service to others and dedication to principle. I hope that I can continue to do what you, Dr. Jernigan, and you, Mr. Maurer, have taught me to give, to serve, and to be dedicated. And I, too, Mr. Maurer and all my friends in the Federation don't you all? plan to be at the hundredth anniversary convention of the National Federation of the Blind! Secretary, Joyce Scanlan, Minnesota, who responded: Mr. President, fellow Federationists, thank you very much for this honor. I am sorry that I have only been around for twenty of the last fifty years, but I really look forward with a good bit of hope and certainly a good bit of determination to the next fifty years. I expect that during that time we're going to have one hundred percent employment of blind people, and we're going to be able to sit on the airplanes in any seat without being hassled. And if I don't make it for all of these next fifty years, I do have a DIG policy.
Treasurer, Allen Harris, Michigan, who said: Thank you Mr. President and my friends in the Federation. The single most important influence in my life has been the National Federation of the Blind. Whatever I am or will become is as a result of the opportunities and sacrifices made for me and for all of us by those who came before us in the National Federation of the Blind. They were working when we did not attend conventions. Subsequently we have been able to, and now we look forward to the future. It is an honor to be able to give something back to the thing that is most important in my life and, when we think about it, the thing that is most important in the lives of blind people. You may think it could be different, but as we look at our history and contemplate our future, the National Federation of the Blind is the single most important influence in our lives, and it will continue to be that way. Thank you. Steve Benson, Illinois, was returned to the Board of Directors for another term. He commented: Thank you Mr. President; thank you fellow Federationists. This is my twentieth convention nineteenth consecutive. I come from a family of great longevity. I have a number of family members who have lived to be 110 and 105. I figure I've got a good shot at the year 2040. I said the other night at the Membership Committee meeting that there is nothing magical about what we do. It requires hard work. We are changing what it means to be blind, but we have a lot yet to do. If we don't do it, it's not going to get done. So let's roll up our sleeves and for the next fifty years work as we know how to work to accomplish our goals. Thank you. Charles Brown from Virginia, known to his friends as Charlie, was also elected to serve another term on the Board. He said: Folks, it's hard to express what an honor it is to be elected to this position. I hope that many of you will have this opportunity; certainly many of you are deserving of it. This is a group that is hard-working and competent and successful; and, when you have an opportunity to sit on the national Board of such an organization, it is really humbling. I really appreciate the trust you have bestowed on me, and I hope and pray that I will be worthy of it. Thank you. Glenn Crosby, Texas, said: I want to thank everybody here for that fine vote. You just can't imagine what a privilege it is to serve as a member of the Board of Directors, and certainly there is no outfit like this one. There is nothing in this world that can compare. It has been rewarding to me to have been a part of the fifty years that we have traveled so far, and I look forward to attending that centennial convention, and I hope it's here in Texas.
To the position previously held by Robert Eschbach of Ohio, the convention elected David Hyde, President of the National Federation of the Blind of Oregon. David responded by saying:
Mr. President, I am humbled by the honor that this organization has bestowed upon me this morning. I remember a very warm day warm for Corvallis, Oregon in '74 when President and Mrs. Maurer came to Oregon and got in touch with a college student who thought he was very much too busy for this organization and thought that if he went to one of the more difficult places for him to get around at Oregon State, he might be able to say, `well I was there, and I'm sorry you didn't find me.' In true Federation style Mr. Maurer found me and sent me home with what felt at the time like fifty pounds of literature. I found that here is an organization that was saying to other blind people what I thought I had been trying to say and had thought was a brand new idea back when Martin Luther King was leading black people to Selma. I had said, `Why don't blind people do that? That's a wonderful idea.' I would like to take the opportunity briefly to thank those people who have brought me along in this movement. Judy Sanders and Peggy Pinder said to me at my first convention, Los Angeles in 1976 almost the first thing they did say to me `Let's put you to work.' I also want to thank Mr. Maurer and Dr. Jernigan for the time you have taken with me over the last sixteen years. You've taught me, and you have cared for all of us in this organization. My brothers and sisters, there is no greater tribute than to be honored by one's own people. I'll do the best that I can. Thank you.
Frank Lee, Alabama, was elected to his third term on the Board of Directors. He responded: I want to thank the members of this movement for your vote of confidence and for the great honor you have bestowed on me to put me into a position of leadership again. I will continue to do all I can. I was thinking that the very next year after I was elected to the Board for the first time I won the Associates contest. So it looks like I'll have to win it again in 1990-91. Thank you very much. Ramona Walhof, Idaho, was elected to the final seat on the Board this year. In her brief remarks she said: When I am organizing, I always tell new recruits that you pay your dues for the privilege of working, and I guess that I have to take that seriously as well. I must say that one of the joys of working in this movement is that there are so many people to work with. That makes it rewarding, challenging, and fun. I thank you for your confidence, and I thank you for the privilege of working in this group.
Following the election the convention heard the annual report from the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped delivered by its director, Frank Kurt Cylke. Mr. Cylke's title was Six Decades of Service. His report reviewed important NLS programs of the past year as well as looking back over sixty years of serving the blind. As usual, several members of the NLS staff were present throughout the convention, talking with Federationists, solving problems, and discussing ongoing issues of mutual concern.
During the remainder of the morning Dr. Jernigan orchestrated a fascinating review of the Federation's fifty-year history. A twenty-six-minute-long tape of the sounds of that history was played for the convention, and two Federationists who joined the movement in each decade spoke of their recollections of the organization at the time that they became active. These representatives were Hazel tenBroek, California, and Joe DeBeer, Minnesota, from the forties; Tim Cranmer, Kentucky, and Don Capps, South Carolina, from the fifties; Marc Maurer, Maryland, and Ramona Walhof, Idaho, from the sixties; Barbara Pierce, Ohio, and Barbara Walker, Nebraska, from the seventies; and Michael Baillif, Connecticut, and Ruby Ryles, Washington, from the eighties. Except for the banquet, of course, this agenda item was the high point of the convention for most delegates. The voices from the past and the personal accounts of unswerving dedication to improving the lives and prospects of blind people reminded us all of our heritage and inspired renewed commitment. The afternoon and evening were filled with a special seminar on Social Security; committee meetings; a Monte Carlo Night, sponsored by the Student Division; and tours, tours, and more tours. A shuttle bus carried conventioneers to and from a nearby mall, and the hotel swimming pool did a land office business under the Texas sun. Applying the Rules of Physics: Blindness No Barrier was the first item on a packed agenda Thursday morning. Dr. John Gardner, Professor of Physics at Oregon State University, was the speaker; and his remarks were fascinating to everyone and particularly useful to several student scientists in the audience.
The convention next turned attention to Implications of the Americans With Disabilities Act: What Is the Future, What Is in Store for the Blind? The participants on this panel chaired by President Maurer were William Lucas, Director of the Office of Liaison Services, United States Department of Justice; Sandra Parrino, Chairman of the National Council on Disability; and William McCabe, Chairman of the Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board. These panelists discussed frankly their hopes for the Americans With Disabilities Act and the concerns and reservations about it held by members of the National Federation of the Blind.
Justin Dart, one-time Commissioner of the Rehabilitation Services Administration and now Chairman of the President's Committee on Employment of People with Disabilities, then made a surprise appearance on the podium. Mr. Dart came to Dallas to present Dr. Jernigan with the Distinguished Service Award of the President of the United States. A complete report on this exciting presentation appears elsewhere in this issue. Fair Labor Standards: What Blind Workers Need to Know About Their Rights was the subject when James Gashel, National Federation of the Blind Director of Governmental Affairs, and William Brooks, United States Department of Labor, Assistant Secretary for Employment Standards, addressed the convention. Assistant Secretary Brooks has the authority to protect blind sheltered shop workers who still face low wages and lack of opportunity for advancement. Mr. Brooks seemed genuinely interested in working with the Federation to help blind workers obtain fair treatment. Donald Gist is the newly appointed director of the South Carolina Commission for the Blind. He attended the 1990 Convention of the National Federation of the Blind as part of his effort to learn firsthand about the problems and potentials of blind people. On Thursday morning he addressed the convention on the subject, New Beginnings: Development of State Programs in Partnership with the Blind. We look forward to a long and productive relationship with this dedicated and energetic director of a state rehabilitation agency.
Building a Day Care Program: A Career for the Blind was the title of Carol Coulter's lively and interesting talk, which concluded the Thursday morning session. Carol is an active member of the Missouri affiliate and a busy and productive member of her community. The afternoon session began with an address by Nell Carney, Commissioner, Rehabilitation Services Administration. Her title was The Rehabilitation Services Administration: Its Relationship to Blindness and Consumerism. Mrs. Carney reported on RSA programs and new efforts to work with consumers of rehabilitation services. Perhaps the most exciting part of her presentation was the thoughtful, honest, straightforward way in which she answered the searching questions put to her. She is clearly trying to change business as usual at the RSA, and she appears genuinely to want the participation of the National Federation of the Blind. Federation leaders repeatedly assured her that, if she will try to come half way, we will meet her and then some.
Donovan Cooper, a Federationist from California, spoke to the convention about The Skills of Blindness Employed in the Federal Court. This was a moving and interesting talk about his work as a management analyst in the United States Bankruptcy Court. Dr. Euclid Herie, Managing Director of the Canadian National Institute for the Blind, has become a close friend of the organized blind of this country in the past several years. He and Dr. Jernigan have worked together in the leadership of the World Blind Union, and Dr. Herie has attended our past several conventions. His topic this year was Roots and Wings. After making his address, he presented President Maurer with a recording of a history of his organization during the last decade, intended for inclusion in the time capsule being prepared for the NFB's centennial celebration. He also made another presentation. This is what he said:
I have just given your President a three-dimensional plaque of a beaver gnawing on a tree. The beaver, as you know, is industrious; and it is also the symbol of Canada. He is a most persistent, determined animal something like the history of the Federation. The plaque says: In friendship we congratulate and pay tribute to the National Federation of the Blind on the occasion of your fiftieth anniversary. Your heritage and collective action have established security, equality, and opportunity by blind persons speaking for themselves in America and throughout the world.
Dr. Herie was followed by two Federationists who talked about their jobs and their understanding of the role which the National Federation of the Blind has played in their success. Diane Starin of California spoke about The Philosophy of Blindness at Work in Equestrian Training and Shearing Sheep. Don Morris of Maryland told the audience entertainingly how I Could Have Been a Bookkeeper.
Larry King, the noted interviewer and talk show host, then amused the audience with recollections of his life as a public figure. He also discussed effective ways of making our voice heard in the halls of power and pledged himself to be our friend. In his own characteristically emphatic way, he placed himself firmly on our side of the airline-seating dispute by saying:
I fully support you on this dumb airline thing. When you buy your ticket, when anyone buys a ticket in a commercial enterprise, they are equal to anyone else who buys a ticket to go anywhere and should be treated as such.
The final agenda item of the afternoon was entitled Work Incentives and Rehabilitation: Plans and Initiatives of the Social Security Administration. The speaker was Susan B. Parker, Associate Commissioner for Disability, Social Security Administration. The Thursday afternoon general session concluded promptly at five so the hotel staff could prepare the space for the evening's festivities.
The annual banquet was characterized by exuberance, laughter, good food, and fun. President Maurer had his hands full as the master of ceremonies. As always, there was lots of singing and as usual, it was characterized more by enthusiasm than musicality. The souvenir mugs for this fiftieth-anniversary banquet were especially attractive, with the anniversary logo on one side and pictures of Dr. tenBroek, Dr. Jernigan, and President Maurer on the other.
The awards presentations were particularly exciting this year. The Blind Educator of the Year Award was given to Dr. Abraham Nemeth, inventor of the Nemeth Braille mathematics notation system. The Distinguished Educator of Blind Children Award went to Doris Willoughby, co-author of the comprehensive new handbook for teachers of blind children; and the winner of the $10,000 Ezra Davis Memorial Scholarship was Robin Zook of Colorado, who attends graduate school at Brigham Young University in Utah. Presentations of the two awards and all twenty-six scholarships are described elsewhere in this issue.
As was appropriate on this landmark occasion, Dr. Jernigan delivered the very special banquet address. Entitled The Federation at Fifty, this stirring and thought-provoking speech was unlike any banquet address we have ever been given. It was filled with recollections and passages from fascinating letters that illustrated Dr. Jernigan's explication of the roots and first flowering of the National Federation of the Blind. The tone was more reflective and thoughtful than usual, and the audience hung on every word. Dr. Jernigan's insight into our history and his blazing affirmation of our hopes and dreams for the future united the Federation audience to face the challenges ahead with joy and commitment. The closing words of the speech captured the essence of its promise and our commitment to ourselves and to the blind:
I think that the new generation that is on the horizon will provide leaders and members who will be present fifty years from now when we meet for our hundredth anniversary. We must never forget our history. We must never dishonor our heritage. We must never abandon our mission. With love for each other and faith in our hearts, we must go the rest of the way to equal status and first-class membership in society. My brothers and my sisters, let us march together to meet that future. Following this deeply inspiring address, we heard briefly from several distinguished officials at the head table. These included Nell Carney, Sandra Parrino, Frank Kurt Cylke, Susan Parker, and Euclid Herie all of whom had already taken part in the convention program. We were delighted to have these distinguished officials and friends as guests at our banquet.
The general session on Friday was filled with organizational business. Reports and discussion of resolutions packed the agenda, and conventioneers began worrying about how to fit everything they had acquired into luggage that was already full when they arrived. Though a number of tired Federationists climbed aboard buses Friday evening for the long drive home, many more stayed on for the Job Opportunities for the Blind seminar on Saturday. In fact, many conventioneers stayed until Sunday in the hope of catching up on sleep and recovering a little from the busiest, most exciting, and inspiring convention we have ever had.
The Texans were right about things in the Lone Star State they really are just a little (or a lot) bigger than life-size, and Texas hospitality is every bit as warm as the Texas weather. Those of us who were lucky enough to share in this fiftieth-anniversary celebration will never forget it, and those who plan the hundredth have their work cut out for them if they intend to surpass this convention. It is only fair to point out that, during the Friday general session, members of the Louisiana delegation were circulating through the audience, passing out brochures describing New Orleans and promising wonderful food and music in the French Quarter, where our headquarters hotel for the 1991 convention is located.
We have much to do in the coming year. One measure of the distance we have come in the past half century is our painful recognition of just how much is left to do. Blind children are still being shortchanged in education. Blind adults must still fight for adequate rehabilitation and equal employment. And every one of us faces condescension and discrimination with soul-destroying regularity. All of these (and more) are the battles we face in the coming year, but walking alone in our daily lives or marching together in convention assembled, we are the National Federation of the Blind; and we are winning our battles, one skirmish at a time. The 1990 fiftieth-anniversary convention brought home to us in a way that we have never quite seen before that the future is in good hands because it is in our own hands.
FIFTY YEARS OF GOLD
The summer is coming to a close, and with it the fiftieth-anniversary convention of the National Federation of the Blind fades into history. But there are a number of mementos of the celebration, which will remain, reminders of the accomplishments of our first half century and the fun we have had celebrating them. First and foremost, of course, is the book, Walking Alone and Marching Together . An article about this history of the organized blind movement appears elsewhere in this issue. But the publication of other books also marks this milestone.
The Minnesota and California affiliates of the Federation compiled all the recipes that have appeared in the Braille Monitor during the first fifty years. Special commendation for this project goes to Sharon Gold and Cheryl Pickering, who did the lion's share of the work. The book has a soft cover and is spiral-bound so that it lies flat when open. Many of the notes about the contributors have been brought up to date, and reading this mouth-watering publication not only convinces the most doubtful skeptic that blindness need not discourage anyone from ambitious cooking, but provides hundreds of glimpses in the introductory notes of the Federation at work everywhere. The new cookbook can be ordered from the Materials Center at the National Center for the Blind, 1800 Johnson Street, Baltimore, Maryland 21230. Checks should be made payable to the National Federation of the Blind. The book costs $15 a copy; at this time it is available only in print.
At Dr. tenBroek's death, Dr. Jernigan prepared a recorded tribute to him entitled Jacobus tenBroek: The Man and the Movement . Because it includes many of Dr. tenBroek's most important and best-loved speeches and because it tells in moving words the story of our founder's life, through the years it has been one of the most popular pieces of literature in our collection. But it has never been available in print or Braille. Now, in honor of our golden anniversary, a new edition of Jacobus tenBroek: The Man and the Movement is available in all three formats. A preface by Dr. Jernigan has been added, but otherwise it is the book many of us have loved for years and the rest have wished they could enjoy. Dr. Jernigan read the new preface to the convention on Thursday morning, July 5. Reading it will give you the flavor of the entire book. It is a publication well worth the reading and rereading. Here it is:
I first met Jacobus tenBroek in the summer of 1952. He was in the prime of his vigor as an author, a college professor, and the leader of the organized blind movement in the United States; and I was the newly elected president of the Tennessee affiliate of the National Federation of the Blind. We were immediately drawn to each other he as mentor and role model and I as protg and willing student. But our relationship was not one of difference and distance. Rather, it was one of collegiality and partnership in a joint effort the bringing of equal rights and first-class status to the blind. In 1953 I moved to California to work on the faculty of the state orientation and adjustment center for the blind, and since the Center was in Oakland and Dr. tenBroek lived next door in Berkeley, we were in constant communication. During the next five years I spent many delightful hours in the tenBroek home, where Dr. and Mrs. tenBroek served sumptuous meals, entertained interesting guests by the roaring fire in their 1,600-square-foot living room, and provided mental stimulation and lively talk. For me it was a time of growth of finding myself, of making lasting commitments, and determining what my life's work would be.
In 1958 I moved to Iowa to become director of the state Commission for the Blind, but my relationship with Dr. tenBroek did not weaken. Year by year it grew stronger as we worked in the common cause of building the National Federation of the Blind. Through the trials of the organization's civil war, the rebuilding of the mid-1960s, and the period after he learned that he had cancer in 1966 Dr. tenBroek and I were an inseparable team. He faced his terminal illness as he faced everything else in his life, matter-of-factly and looking to the future. By the fall of 1967 it was clear that he had only a few months left, and I began to write and assemble Jacobus tenBroek: The Man and the Movement . It was never intended as a print or Braille publication but as a recording of the actual sounds of his speeches. He died on March 27, 1968, and that very afternoon (with heavy heart) I finished my work on the master tapes and sent them off to the recording studio.
The national convention was held in Des Moines that summer, and every person who attended was given the recording of Jacobus tenBroek: The Man and the Movement . That was twenty-two years ago, and much has happened during the intervening time. The Federation has grown in power and influence; the National Center for the Blind has been established in Baltimore; and a whole new generation of blind Americans has come to leadership in the movement. But essentially the National Federation of the Blind is still the organization which Jacobus tenBroek planned and loved and labored to build. The basic philosophy is the philosophy which he propounded; the underlying structure is the structure which he established.
Therefore, it seems particularly appropriate in this year of the Fiftieth Anniversary of the National Federation of the Blind that Jacobus tenBroek: The Man and the Movement be reissued and this time not only in recorded form but also in print and Braille. He was the first president of the organization, and he will be a principal element in the administration of the last president, whoever and whenever that may be. In writing this preface and working to issue this publication, I give tangible expression to the debt which I owe to Jacobus tenBroek and to the love which I bore him. He was the guiding force of my formative years and the touchstone of integrity by which I have measured the actions of my later life.
The third generation of the movement is now in the flower of its strength, and the fourth generation is coming to maturity. The National Federation of the Blind is in good hands, and the spirit of Jacobus tenBroek is vibrantly alive in the unity of purpose and the drive to freedom of its leaders and members.
May 18, 1990
The Man and the Movement is available for $5 from the Materials Center at the National Center for the Blind. The commemorative medallion in gold, silver, and bronze is the official memento of our golden anniversary. On the obverse are the words 50th Anniversary Texas 1990 in print and NFB 50 in Braille. The zero of 50th provides the outline for the NFB logo, and a flying flag with the Lone Star visible on it is also pictured. The reverse displays pictures of the three most outstanding presidents of the National Federation of the Blind together with the dates of their elections.
Each of these medallions weighs one ounce, and they are available from the Materials Center at the National Center for the Blind at $500 for the gold, $25 for the sterling silver, and $5 for the bronze.
This year's banquet mugs were especially attractive. Decorated in black and white, they display the same picture of Dr. tenBroek, Dr. Jernigan, and President Maurer as appears on the commemorative medallions. On the other side of the mug is the fiftieth-anniversary logo. The mugs are available for $3 apiece from the National Center for the Blind.
Finally, in honor of the occasion, the Music Division of the Federation conducted a contest for song-writers. Entries were submitted to the division, and the winner was chosen during the convention. The winners were Linda Milliner, President of the National Federation of the Blind of Sacramento, and Dan Fry, one of this year's scholarship winners and an active member of the Student Division. Their winning entry is set to the melody of The Yellow Rose of Texas and was played for the convention at the close of the Wednesday morning general session. Here it is:
Fifty Years of Gold
We have gathered here in Texas, for all the world to see;
We're proudly celebrating our anniversary. Let us raise one voice with gladness, declare it loud and bold, Oh, NFB we honor you for fifty years of gold.
It's a long way from Wilkes-Barre and the call to organize. For fifty years we've prospered with leaders brave and wise. With persistence we have triumphed over roadblocks in the way.
We are the Federation, and we are here to stay.
It's the greatest national movement that blind guys ever knew.
Our pride's as rich as diamonds, our love's forever true.
We will talk about our heritage and sing of unity.
The blind will march together; we are the NFB.
The organized blind movement is a liberating cause.
We've climbed the stairs to freedom without a single pause.
We have stood upon the barricades to fight what's clearly wrong.
With meaningful objectives we have kept our movement strong.
Fifty years of dedication proves the blind have made the choice, To be seen for who we are and to be heard with our own voice. With singleness of purpose we will hold the torch on high, And spread our message far and wide like starry Texas skies.
It's the greatest national movement that blind guys ever knew.
Our pride's as rich as diamonds, our love's forever true.
We will talk about our heritage and sing of unity.
The blind will march together; we are the NFB.
One way and another, it will be a long time before the golden anniversary celebration of the National Federation of the Blind is forgotten.
National Federation of the Blind
Dallas, Texas, July 3, 1990
At the fiftieth anniversary of our founding as a nationwide civil rights organization of blind people, the National Federation of the Blind has the enthusiasm, the know-how, and the determination to meet the problems faced by the blind and to ensure that we go the rest of the way to independence and equality. In 1980, only ten years ago, we had only recently established the National Center for the Blind. Today, this facility, fashioned by the blind of the nation, is unparalleled in the field of work with the blind. But a building, even the most impressive and practical of structures, is only valuable if it is used. As the nerve center and headquarters for all our efforts, the National Center for the Blind gets an astonishing amount of use. In slightly more than ten years we have built a facility which is admired by our friends and envied by others. In fifty years we have built an organization with enough understanding and enough power to cause similar responses.
Early in May Dr. Kenneth Jernigan, Executive Director of the National Federation of the Blind and Editor of the Braille Monitor , was invited to participate in a press conference to interview President George Bush at the White House. Dr. Jernigan asked President Bush about civil rights for the blind in air travel. The final results from this meeting are not yet known. However, for the first time in the history of the United States civil rights for the blind are being addressed by the chief executive of our nation. Never before in history have these matters been regarded by so many as so important. They have become significant because of the efforts of the blind throughout the nation because of the collective action of the National Federation of the Blind.
In June the United States Senate voted on a motion for cloture involving our Air Travel Rights for Blind Individuals Act. Civil rights legislation for the blind has sometimes been a minor part of much larger legislative packages. However, this bill is focused entirely on the right of blind people to be treated as equals with the sighted in air transportation. It is totally and completely ours. The United States Senate had this civil rights bill as its pending business for several days. In the neighborhood of two percent of the legislative year of the Senate has been devoted to equal opportunity for the blind. To be successful the cloture petition required not a simple majority but sixty percent of the entire Senate. Fifty-six senators cast their votes with us. There are those who believe that the failure of this motion to be adopted will stop us from achieving the right to travel by air without harassment that the discriminatory regulations adopted earlier this year by the Federal Aviation Administration will remain unchallenged but you and I know better. The tactics we use may change, but the strategy will remain the same. Our objective is to win full first-class status for the blind, and we will find a way to do it.
In the 1950s we were battling for the right to be considered for employment in the civil service. In the 1990s it is the airlines and the Federal Aviation Administration that are trying to insist that the blind are second-class. We lost in the original civil service confrontations, but hundreds of us are employed by the government today. The motion for cloture did not pass, but more than half of the Senate voted for it. And there will be a time when discrimination against the blind in air travel will be a thing of the past. The question is not whether but when. In the October issue of McCall's magazine there appeared a full-length feature article about the National Federation of the Blind, concentrating on the work of the President. Personal details of my home and family life helped to fill out the story and provide background. How often we have said that the blind aspire to have a home, a family, and the responsibilities of citizenship. This article describes one family in which these aspirations have become a reality. I am informed that this article will have been circulated to more than fifteen million people.
Shortly after the McCall's story, the Maurer family was interviewed on a program called Parent Survival Guide, broadcast by Lifetime Television cable network. Being disseminated to forty-nine million homes, this interview was shown once in the early fall and again just before Christmas. On April 25, 1990, the Wall Street Journal carried a report about blind people in business. Although the blind have very often been the victims of discrimination in the job market, we have frequently been able to demonstrate our capacity by establishing our own businesses. The Wall Street Journal reported this success. Discrimination cannot stop us. We will find a way to circumvent it. For many of us the method is a company or an enterprise of our own. The headline of the article is, For the Blind, Business Ownership Opens a Closed Door:
Entrepreneurship Rises Along With Self-Esteem and Lender Confidence. The first three paragraphs of the Wall Street Journal article set the tone. Glenn Crosby, President of the National Federation of the Blind of Texas and a member of the national Board of Directors, is featured. Here are those paragraphs:
Like many other small-business owners in Houston, Glenn M. Crosby had to retrench in the wake of the Texas oil slump. Having sold or closed three restaurants, he is left with only one. But his Mr. C Sandwich Shop earns a profit, and is the source of considerable pride. I have survived, while a lot of sighted people in the same business have not, says Mr. Crosby, who is blind.
Many blind people such as Mr. Crosby are becoming entrepreneurs these days. Like other minorities before them, they are finding that entrepreneurship can create opportunities for people who otherwise might have found the door shut.
This spirit of independence is what makes us the unstoppable movement we are. This belief in ourselves has helped to shape our organization, the National Federation of the Blind. We were also mentioned in the letters to the editor column of the Newsweek magazine for May 7, 1990. Newsweek had printed a story called, Making the Most of Sight. The basic assumption of the report was that technology can be of great help in making those with a little remaining eyesight competitive. Strongly implied is the notion that if you can't see enough to use this technology, your ability to perform diminishes dramatically. According to the reporter, for those who are really blind there is virtually no hope. Also implied is the idea that techniques used by the blind are inferior. Of course, these implications are false. They mislead the public into believing that the important factor for a blind person is the machinery available rather than the talent of the individual. Our experience demonstrates that a well-trained blind person can (using Braille and other techniques) compete effectively with the sighted. In the May 7, 1990, issue of Newsweek , we responded to the negative tone and substance of the earlier report in a letter to the editor. Our position was clearly articulated by Mr. Miller, an employee of the National Federation of the Blind. No group of people can become a consolidated entity without tradition a sense of history an understanding of where it is going and what its members are within the structure of society. Because this is so, one of the most exciting events of the last year is the publication of the most thorough history of the organized blind ever to be compiled. Our book (Walking Alone and Marching Together, by Dr. Floyd Matson) contains the facts not merely about those who have done work with the blind, but also about the blind themselves, organized to take collective action and accomplish common goals. Consisting of over 1,100 print pages, Walking Alone and Marching Together acknowledges the work that has been done by the agencies for the blind. But it also does something else something more important something that has never been done in the history of the blind. It tells of the actions of the blind themselves as an organized movement of our growth as a force and our emergence as a people. It tells of our struggles for equality, of the problems we have faced, and the achievements we have made. It is fitting that this book (costly as it has been to print) should be published by the organized blind, for it is our story the story of the blind of America the story of the National Federation of the Blind. This past winter the Director of Public Affairs for the Pepsi Cola Company came to the National Center for the Blind to ask for our advice and assistance. Pepsi was planning to produce and distribute an advertisement in which the principal character is the blind musician, Ray Charles. In the course of the meeting to discuss the ad, a number of plans were reviewed for making commercials that depict the blind as the normal, practical, independent people we are. The portrayal of the blind in television commercials and on television programs has such an enormous impact upon our public image that it is of vital importance to help shape the impression being created. There are still descriptions of the blind on television which are not as positive as they could be. However, in our advisory role to companies such as Pepsi Cola, we can do much to change the focus and alter the image presented by the networks. It is to be expected that major American companies will increasingly seek our advice in planning advertising campaigns that depict the blind. Our own public service spots blanket the airwaves. In the neighborhood of one and one-half million dollars' worth of airtime was contributed to the National Federation of the Blind during the last year. These announcements help to educate the public about the ability of the blind. They tell employers that we can work, educators that we can participate in the classroom, and the public at large that our hopes and dreams are the same as those of the sighted. Our battle is one for understanding in the minds of those who make up this society. Much of what we do can be done most effectively by public education. Our campaign to distribute public service announcements is among the most important undertakings that we have, and it is bringing results.
Our interaction with other organizations dealing with blindness from throughout the world continues to be productive. In the past year Dr. Jernigan, as President of the North America/Caribbean Region of the World Blind Union, attended meetings of the Executive Committee of that organization in England and in Poland. The delegates from the North America/Caribbean Region met at the National Center for the Blind last December to discuss matters of importance to the blind in this hemisphere and throughout the world. We were able to trade information about technological progress which is likely to be of assistance to blind job applicants here and abroad. Our spirit of self-determination is a constant source of stimulus to blindness organizations in other lands. As blind people throughout the world gain independence, it becomes easier for those in the United States to achieve first-class status too. Dr. Jernigan also traveled to Kingston, Jamaica, to help the blind of the West Indies by providing information about self-organization and by presenting a reading machine.
Because of our interaction with other groups we have been able to establish cooperative arrangements with organizations in the blindness field in our own country. The director of research of the American Foundation for the Blind participated in a meeting of our committee on research and development at the National Center for the Blind last winter. There was an exchange of ideas regarding the most effective technological devices to assist the deaf-blind. Sharing of information increases the rate of progress. The National Federation of the Blind is today, as it has been for a number of years, on the cutting edge in technology for the blind. If we really need to have a thing developed, we will find a way to get it built and will probably do much of the groundwork ourselves. That is one more reason for the National Federation of the Blind.
For quite a number of years the relationship between the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped of the Library of Congress and the National Federation of the Blind has been one of harmony and partnership. In May Dr. Jernigan was invited to make a presentation to librarians from throughout the United States in the NLS network. Because reading is essential for education, the Books for the Blind Program may well be the single most important long-range service for the blind in the United States. As the methods for providing reading matter to the blind are further developed, and as new ways are established of delivering this vital service, we believe that the close working relationship we have with the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped will also continue to develop and grow. The blind of America need good library service. The National Library Service is committed to providing it. When those responsible for government programs to serve the blind come to feel a spirit of community with the organized blind of America, the result is predictable and can be stated in a word progress. Those who are losing vision visit the eye doctor to get their sight restored. If the doctor cannot fix the medical problem, the newly blinded person is dismissed from the care of the medical profession. Sometimes the newly blinded individual finds the organized blind movement, and sometimes not. This spring we have begun work with Johns Hopkins University on two projects that should substantially increase our involvement with those in the medical profession. Johns Hopkins University Medical School is inviting members of the National Federation of the Blind to make presentations about our organization to classes of medical students. In addition, we are participating in a joint research project to examine the attitudes of eye doctors and other health care professionals toward their blind patients and clients and to quantify the advice being given by these practitioners. With greater understanding by the doctors that the National Federation of the Blind is an available resource, an increasing number of blind people will be stimulated toward independence without wasting months and years in unproductive, dreary inactivity. Until 1990 we have not concentrated substantial resources in the medical field but we know that literally thousands of blind people are faced with demolished dreams and a dead end in the doctor's office. This need not be the case, and we are changing it. We who are blind know how to reconstruct shattered hopes. We have the means and the will to provide inspiration and facts to the people who believe that their blindness makes them incapable of conducting a normal existence. In fact, this is one of the major reasons we have created the National Federation of the Blind. The Federation sponsors an insurance program for blind merchants. It has been in operation since the early eighties. Some time ago a few people decided to appropriate our insurance for their own use. We informed them that the National Federation of the Blind had created the program and that it could not be lifted for the benefit of private persons. A lawsuit was filed to protect the interests of the organized blind. After much maneuvering on the part of the defendants, we have been able to pin them down. The insurance program we have been supporting is again in the hands of those who sponsored it in the first place. We intend to retain what is ours. And one thing more. Sharp practices and devious methods will not be tolerated in programs that bear our name. The National Federation of the Blind insurance program for blind vendors and merchants is now fully in operation and available to those who need it.
There have been a number of cases this year involving civil rights of blind individuals. Dave Schuh is a blind accountant. Until the last day of 1989 he was working as a supervisor of accounting at a Pillsbury products plant in Denison, Texas. When he began to request certain job accommodations (such as a Kurzweil Personal Reader and other computer equipment), Pillsbury officials started planning for the elimination of his job. But his job ratings were excellent. Dave Schuh applied for several transfers to vacant positions at other Pillsbury locations. Despite his superior qualifications, he was not considered for any of these vacancies. Company rules say that preference is to be given to persons whose positions are eliminated, but the rules were ignored in this case.
Pillsbury, a large federal contractor, is required to take affirmative action in employing the handicapped. The evidence demonstrates unquestionably that it did not happen for Dave Schuh. We have proceeded with a complaint against Pillsbury on his behalf. We are demanding that the company correct its mistakes by paying back wages, offering him another job, and making certain accommodations. If Pillsbury officials persist in disregarding Dave Schuh's rights, all of their federal contracts are in jeopardy. Thus far, the complaint process is proceeding quite well. The Department of Labor has agreed with us. Pillsbury violated the law. The company will pay, or we will find a method for seeking enforcement of these federal findings. And there are those who ask why we have the National Federation of the Blind. Dave Schuh will have his rights, and we intend to see that he does.
Although Richard Frost had been performing the duties customarily demanded of a federal employee at the GS-11 level, he was only being paid the salary of a GS-9. He asked for promotions but was not awarded any. Several years ago, Richard Frost filed a complaint of discrimination against his employer, the Department of Housing and Urban Development. We represented him during most of the proceedings. The federal housing department has insisted that the negotiations be kept (as they would put it) confidential. Despite this demand for secrecy, I can tell you that we reached a favorable resolution this spring. There is no longer a complaint against this federal agency. There is no longer a request for promotion and reassignment. There is no longer a demand for back pay. Richard Frost has told me that it is eminently worthwhile to be a member of the National Federation of the Blind. They may insist upon hiding the details, but we can handle ourselves when it comes to an argument, and we know how to promote the best interests of blind employees. In Florida, Adam and Denise Shaible have been facing discrimination because they use dog guides. The Island Club Condominium Association in Fort Lauderdale insisted that they sign a special agreement as a condition of purchasing their condominium. This agreement demands that the private patio attached to their new home be converted to a dog run. Of course, such requirements are in violation of federal law. Nevertheless, they would have been imposed on the blind in Florida if there had not been an organization prepared to prevent it. A law which remains unenforced may be an interesting statement of social policy or a curiosity in the annals of the past. But we have the means and the will to put these statutory provisions into effect we are the National Federation of the Blind. Robert Gumson is a blind man living in Needham, Massachusetts. He has applied to be a day-care assistant. Based on fears about Mr. Gumson's blindness, the Massachusetts Office for Children has refused to issue him the necessary license. Officials have said that state regulations assume that supervision of children must be done by visual observation, but there is nothing in the regulations to substantiate this discriminatory claim. Mr. Gumson would have been licensed long ago if he had been sighted. Despite the evidence that he is fully able to perform the tasks of a day-care assistant, the Office for Children has remained adamant. Consequently, we are assisting with a complaint. In recent years we have won the right for blind people to work in the day-care business in Missouri, California, and elsewhere; and we intend to bring non-discrimination to Massachusetts. The Office for Children must realize that equal opportunity applies to the Northeast as much as it does to the central states or the Far West.
Last year I reported to you that we had commenced a lawsuit in South Carolina on behalf of Joe Urbanek. Carnival Cruise Lines had proclaimed a policy which discriminated against the blind. All blind persons were required either to be accompanied by attendants or to sign release forms waiving the legal protections usually available to travelers. When Joe Urbanek was told that he would have to sign such a release, he refused. As a result, the cruise line told him that he could not board their ship. On December 21, 1989, a court decree ended the dispute. Liability releases will not be required. Blind passengers will not be treated differently from others. When Joe Urbanek asks for a ticket and pays the tab, he will receive the same courteous treatment as any other passenger. He will walk the deck of the cruise ship, and blindness will be no bar. This is the power of collective action, and Merry Christmas to Carnival Cruise Lines. We are assisting the National Treasury Employees Union in a grievance on behalf of several blind employees of the Internal Revenue Service. Working conditions for the blind throughout the Internal Revenue Service will be affected. Blind information specialists were expected to answer questions about income tax law and regulations, but they were not given the necessary technical manuals in a usable form. This information is, of course, already available in the computer. However, it was not provided to the blind. Because blind workers were expected to use out-of-date documentation, their answers were sometimes incorrect. Officials in the Internal Revenue Service charged incompetence. However, the blind had been competently giving the answers that had been recorded in the out-of-date manuals they were given. We are currently taking steps to ensure that the materials are made available in a usable form and that the performance of the blind is judged by a reasonable and fair standard.
We continue to work in a number of areas to help blind people obtain quality rehabilitation services. One of the most effective ways to improve the rehabilitation system is to create a legislative mechanism which authorizes individual clients to select the agency that will provide their training. A bill which we initiated that is now pending in the House of Representatives would create the process for individual choice. Early this spring hearings were held before the Social Security Subcommittee of the House Ways and Means Committee. I expressed the views of the National Federation of the Blind concerning the urgency of the need for this legislation. A number of other blind witnesses also made presentations, and the hearing record is sprinkled with the testimony of Federation leaders from throughout the land. The result is that the Social Security Administration is now establishing a pilot program which has as one of its main features free choice of rehabilitation programs for Social Security beneficiaries.
Of course, if the errors committed by the agencies for the blind are simply adopted by Social Security, this pilot project will work no better than the current program of rehabilitation; but if Social Security really tests the concept of free choice (and I believe that it will), there should be a noticeable change. When blind people control their own lives, enlightened self-interest will do the rest.
James Storey and Catherine Monville receive services from the Maryland rehabilitation agency. Rehabilitation officials told them that they could not obtain training from centers operated by the National Federation of the Blind because those centers were outside of Maryland. But the rehabilitation services offered to the blind of Maryland are inadequate, so we filed appeals. Here are the results. Both James Storey and Catherine Monville are students at National Federation of the Blind centers, and the state of Maryland is paying the bill.
At our 1989 convention we adopted a resolution which declared that the Americans with Disabilities Act must not be employed as a vehicle to force the blind to use special rooms, equipment, and services modified for the handicapped unless they wished to do so. We said that if an amendment to this effect were not adopted, we would reluctantly oppose the bill. This new law is intended to be a comprehensive prohibition of discrimination on the basis of disability. It applies to employment, to public facilities, and to most private businesses. When it is implemented, the Americans with Disabilities Act could affect almost every activity of our lives.
Accommodation to the needs of the disabled is the underlying principle of the act. Rather than seeking equality of opportunity, this bill asks for alteration of existing businesses, programs, and facilities to achieve equality of result. This form of civil rights has not worked for us in the past. Programs that have been modified to accommodate the handicapped have often first been offered to us on a voluntary basis. Later, accommodated programs become mandatory. On busses there are seats for the handicapped. Some bus drivers insist that the blind sit there or get off the bus. It is possible that hotel operators will set aside rooms for the handicapped that the blind are required to use. This could have been the result of the Americans with Disabilities Act. However, an amendment was included in the bill which gives each of us the right to accept or reject any accommodation. This principle must be implemented in regulations developed under the act. If it is not, this civil rights statute could be used to establish restrictions which were not authorized by law until its enactment. However, we will monitor the progress of draft regulations, and we will insist on our right to participate on a basis of equality in programs established to serve the general public. The role of the National Federation of the Blind is to be a watchdog on the programs and activities designed to serve blind people. Nowhere is the need for our organization more strikingly demonstrated than in connection with the Americans with Disabilities Act. In the name of civil rights we might have faced reduced opportunity, but our amendment has avoided this negative result. This is one more reason for the National Federation of the Blind.
Richard Skipper is a blind vendor in North Carolina. Laurie Eckery is employed by the Marriott Corporation in Nebraska. Tom Anderson has been a social worker, a clerical employee, and a dispatcher. He lives in Ohio. Tony Jaramillo has been employed for many years in the industries program of the New Mexico Commission for the Blind. These blind people are among those who have received extensive assistance from the Federation in dealing with alleged Social Security overpayments during the past year. The amounts that Social Security was attempting to recover ranged from $7,000 to $60,000. In each of these cases the Social Security Administration has been forced to withdraw its claim of an overpayment. It is beneficial to be a member of the National Federation of the Blind.
Gladys Penney, who is 63 years old, has been blind since birth. She last received a paycheck in 1951. In 1979 she heard that she might be eligible for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits. She applied, but her request was denied. The decision said that her Social Security coverage expired in September 1956 and that she was no longer qualified for disability benefits. Although Gladys Penney filed several applications for disability insurance after 1979, the results were always the same. Then, she learned of the National Federation of the Blind. We agreed to help. An additional hearing was held, and a decision has been reached. In its previous rulings on her claim the Social Security Administration had failed to apply the administrative provisions related to blindness. The denials would have been correct if Gladys had not been blind, but she is. We explained the applicable rules, and in March of this year the Social Security Administration paid Gladys Penney the benefits she should have had since 1979. She is presently receiving a Social Security check each month. The amount of her back payment was more than $23,000.
Pete Salas is a blind vendor at the federal building in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Several years ago he learned from the National Federation of the Blind that the Social Security rules defining substantial gainful activity probably made him eligible to receive Social Security Disability Insurance. With our help he applied, but his application was rejected. Following a hearing last fall he was awarded disability benefits. However on January 18, 1990, Pete Salas was officially notified that his claim was being reviewed by the Social Security Appeals Council in accordance with a request from the office of disability relations at Social Security headquarters. Their protest memorandum said that the hearing officer had made an error of law in failing to consider the extent of Pete Salas's work activity in conducting his vending business.
The Social Security Administration has always tested substantial gainful activity for blind people in terms of money. If the money received by a beneficiary is earned, and if there is enough of it, substantial gainful activity has occurred. If it has not been earned, or there is too little of it, substantial gainful activity has not occurred. In the first instance, benefits will be withheld. In the second, they will not. An alteration of the test for substantial gainful activity as proposed in the Pete Salas case would cost hundreds of beneficiaries tens of thousands of dollars. Such a policy shift cannot be initiated without authorization by law. So we took action immediately. On March 26, 1990, the Appeals Council concluded its review, reinstated the hearing officer's decision, and ordered the Office of Disability Operations to process the claim. Pete Salas will be receiving continuing benefits, and he has been paid the money due him amounting to over $36,000. Furthermore, many blind people (most of whom have never even heard of this decision) have been protected. In Colorado we have achieved total victory on behalf of all of the vendors of that state. Four years ago officials of the state agency for the blind announced that they would take the best vending facility in the state and divide it between two blind persons. In making this decision they arbitrarily exercised judgment about how much money a blind vendor should be allowed to earn. We could not afford to have such a limit imposed, so we took the matter to court. We obtained an injunction, and the facility was never divided. Administrative appeals and an arbitration followed. A settlement has now been achieved. The state must negotiate new regulations with the vendors if any facility is to be split in the future. The business will not be divided, and the Federation will be reimbursed for attorney fees. We are working to uphold the rights of blind vendors in two other arbitrations involving the states of Minnesota and Michigan. The Minnesota case involves a long-standing dispute between the blind vendor program and the federal Department of Veterans Affairs, formerly the Veterans Administration. Observance of the blind vendor priority at VA hospitals is at issue. In Michigan the arbitration involves application of the blind vendor priority at Postal Service sites. We have joined with the state agencies in these cases to secure the rights of blind vendors. Regardless of what some of our opponents may say, when state agencies step forward on behalf of the blind, we support and work with them. We are glad to have them stand with us and share our know-how and expertise.
Then, there is the State Department. As long as anybody can remember, the State Department has rejected all blind foreign service candidates on grounds of blindness. Rami Rabby successfully completed the Foreign Service written examination three times and the oral examination twice. The State Department responded by establishing a policy that no blind person could take the test. They said that there was no discrimination, that reading was necessary, and that sight was required for reading. Congressman Gerry Sikorski attended our convention last year. He pledged to work with us to open Foreign Service jobs to qualified blind persons. The Congressman was as good as his word. Last October, State Department officials announced at a hearing that they would abandon their policy of rejecting the blind, and they initiated discussions with Rami Rabby about a job. The commitment of the State Department has been firmly stated. Future applicants will not be disqualified because of blindness. One more opportunity is available to the blind, and it happened because of the National Federation of the Blind.
These cases are an indication of the work that we do on an ongoing basis. There are many others. When it comes to civil rights for the blind, we are really the only ball game in town. Nobody else has the knowledge, the skill, the determination, and the conviction that we possess. Nobody else has the tenacity and the willingness to meet conflict half-way, or the ability to settle arguments with finality. We have a reputation, and we deserve it. Those who want a tough, resourceful advocate in matters dealing with the blind join hands with us; they become a part of the National Federation of the Blind. This year we have completed installation of new elevators and finished other remodeling at the National Center for the Blind. Our complex of buildings in Baltimore is the finest of its kind in the nation. Our facilities have helped to make it possible to carry on the extensive programs of the Federation. Without them we would be much less effective. Our growth during the past ten years has been dramatic. We are operating more programs today and assisting more blind people than ever before, and I confidently believe that our expansion will continue. Again this year our activities have brought visitors from a number of foreign lands. Following our 1989 convention, the past president of the World Blind Union, Sheikh Abdullah M. Al-Ghanim of Saudi Arabia, spent several days examining our programs. There have also been visitors from England, Ireland, West Germany, Sweden, Japan, Canada, Poland, Australia, Jamaica and other Caribbean countries. We continue to distribute a very substantial volume of material to the blind of the nation. During the past year over 20,000 aids and appliances and more than a million pieces of literature have been shipped and distributed. The total weight of these items is estimated at over 30,000 pounds.
Our Job Opportunities for the Blind program has remained one of the most effective job placement services for the blind in the nation. It has now been in operation for ten years. During all that time almost 150,000 contacts have been made with employers. More than 65,000 job-related publications have been sent, and over 900 blind people have become competitively employed. We have continued our efforts to computerize. In our Records Center there are in the neighborhood of 600 documented discrimination cases, 7,000 photographs, and 20,000 file folders. These must be organized, and the computer is one very efficient method for doing it. This is only an example of the efficiency we gain with technology. Our experts tell us that we now have more than one hundred times the computer power which was required to put the astronauts on the moon. An extraordinary amount of paperwork is handled each year at our National Office. The computers we have obtained (and there are now more than fifty of them) greatly increase our efficiency.
Our monthly magazine, the Braille Monitor, is by far the most widely read publication in the blindness field. We are now publishing in the neighborhood of 30,000 copies each month. With this and our other publications we are educating an ever-growing number of individuals about the nature and needs of the blind. Our magazine for parents and educators of blind children, Future Reflections , has a circulation of over 10,000 copies. Our Diabetics Division newsletter, Voice of the Diabetic, is mailed to over 30,000 locations. Our other publications (the Student Slate, the newsletter of the National Association of Blind Educators, the newsletter of the National Association of Blind Lawyers, and the publications of the other divisions, committees, state affiliates, and local chapters) are proclaiming our message about blindness and creating a new spirit in the land. And of course, there are the other materials we disseminate: the American Bar Association Journal, Presidential Releases, and JOB Bulletins. In carrying on our activities we record, duplicate, and mail from the National Center for the Blind approximately 50,000 tapes each year. The literature of the Federation is growing tremendously. This year we have made available the Handbook for Itinerant and Resource Teachers of Blind and Visually Impaired Students, by Doris Willoughby and Sharon Duffy. This handbook of techniques and resources used by the blind has been acclaimed by those in the field of education as one of the most valuable publications ever produced.
Our scholarship program has received more attention in 1990 than ever before. Over 500 blind applicants sought our assistance. The results of this program demonstrate its value. Not only do we distribute in the neighborhood of $100,000 each year to blind students, but because of our efforts blind college applicants throughout the country are encouraged to seek higher education. There are many ways to comprehend the importance of our organization. A cataloging of our accomplishments is one of them, but the work we do is measured not only by statistics but also in the personal lives of the people who gain opportunity as a result. Our Monitor circulation, the thousands of pounds of material we distribute, our hundreds of chapters and tens of thousands of members are an indication that we care about the future of the blind. As I have traveled to state conventions, local chapter meetings, and other functions, I have met the Federation in person. The lives and experiences of you the members make this organization what it is the warmth, the caring, the commitment.
In our first fifty years we have built a solid and substantial organization. We have solved literally thousands of problems. We have come to believe in our ability to meet the challenges that lie ahead in the future. The first fifty years are finished, but the next half-century is still to come. The challenge is formidable. It will transform the lives of the blind not only of this generation but also the generations to follow. You know this task as well as I. We must begin with the dream of a future bright with promise of a time when the blind are accepted as equals of a day when we can confidently say, We have attained our freedom. If we keep faith with each other and our heritage, we can complete what Dr. tenBroek began in 1940. A new era for the blind that is our objective. Can we have it? Of course, we can. If we believe with all our hearts, if we think and plan with all our minds, if we work as hard as we know how, and if we care with every atom within us, the goal can and will be achieved. It is within our reach! Do we have the intellect, and will we use it? Is there, in our midst, sufficient imagination? Are we capable of the sustained labor that must be expended? And do we possess the generosity of spirit necessary to care for one another and support our movement? Are not these characteristics the very substance of the National Federation of the Blind? You know they are, and so do I. I have met the great body of the Federation, and I am absolutely certain that the first fifty years are only the beginning. With the Federation as our vehicle and a spirit of determination as our driving force, we will create a climate of equality for all of the blind. The stakes are too high and the costs of failure too great to do anything less. With all of the problems we face, our future has never looked better. Therefore, with joy, with enthusiasm, with purpose, let us go to meet our second half-century. This is my hope; this is my certainty; and this is my report to you on this golden anniversary.
THE FEDERATION AT FIFTY
An Address Delivered by KENNETH JERNIGAN
At the Banquet of the Annual Convention of the National Federation of the Blind
Dallas, Texas, July 5, 1990
If the engineers of 1800 had possessed complete drawings for a transistor radio (one that could be bought today for $10), they couldn't have built it, not even if they had had billions or trillions of dollars. They lacked the infrastructure the tools, the tools to build the tools, and the tools to build those; the plastics, the machines to make the plastics, and the machines to make the machines; the skilled work force, the teachers to train the work force, and the teachers to train the teachers; the transportation network to assemble the materials, the vehicles to use the network, and the sources of supply. All of this is generally recognized, but it is far less well understood that what is true of material objects is also true of ideas and attitudes. In the absence of a supporting social infrastructure of knowledge and beliefs, a new idea simply cannot exist. So far as I can tell, there are only three possible reasons for studying history to get inspiration, to gain perspective, or to acquire a basis for predicting the future. In 1965 Dr. Jacobus tenBroek, the founder and leader of our movement, spoke at our twenty-fifth banquet, reviewing the first quarter century and charting the road ahead. We were meeting in Washington, and more than a hundred members of Congress were present. I was master of ceremonies, and some of the rest of you were also there. Tonight (twenty-five years later) we celebrate our Golden Anniversary, and the time has once again come to take stock. Where are we, where have we been, and where are we going? In a sense the history of our movement begins in the distant past in the medieval guilds and brotherhoods of the blind in Europe, in the tentative stirrings of organization in China, and even earlier but the National Federation of the Blind is essentially an American product. Its genesis is native. Although (as we all know) Dr. Jacobus tenBroek presided at the founding of the National Federation of the Blind in 1940 at Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, he had a teacher (Dr. Newel Perry), who laid the foundations and served as precursor. And Dr. Perry, in turn, had a teacher, Warring Wilkinson.
Most of what we know about Wilkinson is contained in the eulogy which Dr. tenBroek delivered at the time of Dr. Perry's death in 1961,1 but our knowledge is sufficient to tell us that Wilkinson was a worthy teacher of the teacher of our founder. He was the first principal of the California School for the Deaf and Blind. He served in that capacity for forty-four years, from 1865 to 1909. He not only loved his students but also did what he could to move them toward the main channels of social and economic participation. Particularly, he saw the potential in young Perry, sending him from the California School for the Blind to Berkeley High to complete his secondary education. To do this Wilkinson (who was ahead of his time both in his understanding of education and the needs of the blind) had to overcome numerous obstacles.
I was fortunate enough to know Dr. Perry, meeting him when I moved to California in 1953. He was then eighty, and he spent many hours with me reminiscing about what conditions for the blind were like when he was a boy. He came to the California School for the Blind when he was ten penniless, blind, his father dead, his home dissolved. Two years earlier he had lost his sight and nearly his life as the result of a case of poison oak, which caused his eyeballs to swell until they burst and which held him in a coma for a month. It was at the School, of course, that he first met Warring Wilkinson. While going to high school (from which he graduated in 1892) he lived at the California School for the Blind. He also lived there while attending the University of California from 1892 to 1896. His admission to the University (as had been the case with high school) had to be secured over strong resistance. Again, Wilkinson was the pathfinder, young Perry his willing and anxious instrument. Wilkinson's role in Perry's life as a youth can hardly be overestimated: father, teacher, guide, supporter in Perry's own words, `dear Governor.' After graduating from the University, Dr. Perry devoted himself to further education and to the search for an academic job. He took graduate work at the University of California, meanwhile serving successively as an unpaid teaching fellow, a paid assistant, and finally as an instructor in the department of mathematics. In 1900, following a general custom of that day, he went to Europe to continue his studies. He did this for a time at the University of Zurich in Switzerland and then at the University of Munich in Germany. From the latter he secured in 1901 the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Mathematics, with highest honors.
He returned to the United States in 1902, landing in New York, where he was to remain until 1912. He had about eighty dollars in capital, a first-class and highly specialized education, and all of the physical, mental, and personal prerequisites for a productive career except one, eyesight.
During this period he supported himself precariously as a private coach of university mathematics students. He also applied himself to the search for a university position. He displayed the most relentless energy. He employed every imaginable technique. He wrote letters in profusion. In 1905 he wrote to 500 institutions of every size and character. He distributed his dissertation and his published article on mathematics. He haunted meetings of mathematicians. He visited his friends in the profession. He enlisted the aid of his teachers. He called on everybody and anybody having the remotest connection with his goal. Everywhere the outcome was the same. Only the form varied. Some expressed astonishment at what he had accomplished. Some expressed interest. One of these seemed genuine he had a blind brother-in-law, he said, who was a whiz at math. Some showed indifference, now and then masked behind polite phrases. Some said there were no vacancies. Some said his application would be filed for future reference. One said ironically: `For what as an encouragement to men who labor under disadvantages and who may learn from it how much may be accomplished through resolution and industry?' Some averred that he probably could succeed in teaching at somebody else's college. Many said outright that they believed a blind person could not teach mathematics. Many of these rejections may, of course, have been perfectly proper. Many were not. Their authors candidly gave the reason as blindness. Dr. Perry failed not because of lack of energy or qualification but because the necessary infrastructure of attitudes and beliefs did not exist to allow it to be otherwise so he did not find a job in a university. Perhaps it was better for the blind (for those of us gathered here tonight) that he did not but for him what pain! What absolute desolation and misery! And he had to face it alone no family, no supporting organization of the blind only himself and the bleak wall of continuing rejection year after year. He might have quit in despair. He might have become embittered. But he did not. Instead, he returned to California and settled down to build for the future. If he could not have first-class treatment for himself, he was absolutely determined that at least the next generation of the blind would not be denied.
He taught at the California School for the Blind from 1912 to 1947 and day after day, month after month, season after season he exhorted and indoctrinated, preached and prepared. He was building the necessary infrastructure of ideas and beliefs. Those who were his students went on to become his colleagues, and as the number grew, the faith was kept. There would be a state-wide organization of the blind in California. It did not happen until 1934, but when it came, it was built on a solid foundation. And there would also be a National Federation of the Blind but not yet. Dr. Perry was to that generation what Warring Wilkinson had been to him. In the words of Jacobus tenBroek, his most brilliant student and the man who would lead the blind in the founding of their national movement: We were his students, his family, his intimates, his comrades on a thousand battlefronts of a social movement. We slept in his house, ate at his table, learned geometry at his desk, walked the streets interminably by his side, moved forward on the strength of his optimism and confidence.
Dr. tenBroek graduated from Berkeley High School in 1930 with, as he said, plenty of ambition but no money. He was prepared to enter the University of California but was denied state aid to the blind, a program then newly instituted as a result of Dr. Perry's efforts in sponsoring a constitutional amendment, which had been adopted by the voters of California in 1928. In Dr. tenBroek's words, The reason for the denial was not that my need was not great. It was that I intended to pursue a higher education while I was being supported by the state. That was too much for the administrative officials. Almost without discussion, Dr. Perry immediately filled the gap. Just as Warring Wilkinson had earlier done for him, said Dr. tenBroek, he supplied me with tuition and living expenses out of his own pocket for a semester while we all fought to reverse the decision of the state aid officials.
It was, Dr. tenBroek said, ever thus with Dr. Perry. The key to his great influence with blind students was, first of all, the fact that he was blind and therefore understood their problems; and second, that he believed in them and made his faith manifest. He provided the only sure foundation of true rapport: knowledge on our part that he was genuinely interested in our welfare. So the new generation came to maturity, and Jacobus tenBroek was to be its leader. Born in 1911 on the prairies of Alberta, Canada, he was blinded by an arrow in a childhood game and moved to California to enter the school for the blind. He went on to earn five academic degrees from the University of California at Berkeley a bachelor's in 1934, a master's in 1935, a law degree in 1938, and a Doctorate in Jurisprudence in 1940; and from the Harvard Law School a Doctorate in Jurisprudence in 1947. There is no need for me to talk to this audience about Dr. tenBroek's brilliance his learned articles and books, his chairmanship of the California Board of Social Welfare, his scholarly pre-eminence and national acclaim, his writings on constitutional law that are still the authoritative works in the field. Rather, I would speak of the man the warm human being who fought for acceptance, led our movement, and served as my mentor and role model the man who was my closest friend and spiritual father. When Dr. tenBroek was first trying to get a teaching position in the 1930s, the climate of public opinion was better than it had been a generation earlier, but he faced many of the same problems which had confronted Dr. Perry and sometimes with identical letters from the same institutions. It was, he said, almost as if a secretary had been set to copying Dr. Perry's file, only changing the signatures and the name of the addressee. Here is what Dr. tenBroek wrote to Dr. Perry in March of 1940. At the time he was studying at Harvard:
Last November a large midwestern university was looking for a man to teach public law. Having read my published articles but knowing nothing else about me, the head of the department in question wrote a letter to the University of California inquiring whether I would be available for the position. Cal. replied that I would and accompanied the answer with a considerable collection of supporting material. However, when the department head learned that I was blind, the deal was off although none of the competing applicants had as good a paper showing.
This incident seems to me of particular interest because, although I have been refused other jobs, this was the first instance in which blindness could be traced as the sole explanation for rejection. Of course, in other cases blindness was also the determining factor, but the fact could not be demonstrated as well.
There were other letters and other rejections but on June 8, 1940, Dr. tenBroek was able to write to Dr. Perry:
We have justification for hanging out the flags and ringing the bells. I have been offered and have accepted a job at Chicago University Law School. The job pays $1,800, is denominated a half-time position, and lasts for only a year. But it is a job nevertheless. And the Harvard people, who exerted no end of pressure to get it for me, regard it as an excellent opportunity. The position is designated `tutorial fellowship' and consists in supervising the research of the first-and second-year law students. It involves no actual classroom teaching, except possibly by way of an occasional fill-in job. This was how Dr. tenBroek (the man who fifteen years later was to win the Woodrow Wilson Award for the outstanding book of the year in political science and who was always the most sought-after professor at the University of California) was to begin his teaching career.
Yet, even today there are sighted people (and also some of the blind people who ought to know better) who tell me that the blind are not victims of discrimination. Yes, the tenBroek job search was fifty years ago, but you know and I know that we have not yet come to first-class status and equal treatment in society. The framework of ideas and beliefs to make it possible, though long in the building, is still not complete. Warring Wilkinson, Newel Perry and his students, Jacobus tenBroek and the founders of our movement, and the Federationists of succeeding decades have worked year after year to improve the climate of public acceptance and make opportunity available for the blind, but the job is not yet finished. Each generation has built on the work of the one before it. Each has fought and hoped, dreamed and drudged for the one to follow and also for the blind then alive.
What we have done must be seen in perspective; for no act of the past (no gain or denial) is irrelevant, and no present behavior of ours can be divorced from tomorrow. We are close to freedom, and we must finish the journey.
1940 was notable for something else besides Dr. tenBroek's debut at the University of Chicago. It was also the year of the founding of this organization. With the passage of the Social Security Act in 1935 the federal government had supplanted the states in providing assistance to the blind. In 1939 Congress and the Social Security Board combined to pressure the states having the most forward looking programs (chief among them California but also Pennsylvania, Missouri, and Wisconsin) to repeal their progressive laws. This supplied the immediate impetus for the formation of the Federation, but of course the momentum had been building for a generation. The event occurred at Wilkes-Barre on November 15 and 16, 1940, coincident with the convention of the Pennsylvania Federation of the Blind. In a letter to Dr. Perry dated November 19, 1940, Dr. tenBroek said in part: The confab at Wilkes-Barre gave birth to an organization, the National Federation of the Blind of which you, vicariously through me, are president. The long-range aims of the organization are the promotion of the economic and social welfare of the blind, and its immediate and specific aims are the sponsorship of the principle of Senate Bill 1766 and an amendment of the Social Security Act.
Seven states were represented at the organizational meeting Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Missouri, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and California. We arrived in Wilkes-Barre in the middle of Friday afternoon.... On Saturday morning, while the Pennsylvania state meeting was going on, I had several back-of-the-scenes conversations with Pennsylvania leaders.... In the afternoon... we drew up a skeleton constitution, which we presented to a meeting of all of the delegates to the national meeting, beginning about four o'clock and ending about the same time twelve hours later.... The meeting was interrupted at 5:30 in the afternoon long enough to give the other delegates a chance to eat dinner, and the Pennsylvania leader (Gayle Burlingame) and me a chance to appear on the local radio, where we lambasted hell out of the Social Security Board.
On January 4, 1941, Dr. tenBroek wrote to Dr. Perry concerning the details of getting the new orgnization started. With the National Federation of the Blind not yet two months old, he said, its permanence is definitely assured. The factor guaranteeing that permanence is the closely knit nucleus composed of Minnesota, Pennsylvania, and California. We three have now had enough experience with each other to know that we can make a go of it.... We can add to this trilogy the state of Wisconsin. I had a letter from Minnesota yesterday to the effect that they are ready to pay their assessment but that they wish assurance that Pennsylvania and California are also ready before they mail their check. I also had a letter from Pennsylvania stating that it is ready but wishes assurance that Minnesota and California are ready. I have written to both of these states requesting them to make out their checks, payable to the Treasurer of the National Federation, and to send them to me, with the stipulation that I shall not forward them to the Treasurer until I have the dues from each of the states of California, Pennsylvania, and Minnesota. Consequently, if California is ready, I suggest that you follow the same procedure.... But the new president did not limit himself to procedural matters. The Federation immediately assumed its present-day role of working to improve the quality of life for the nation's blind. In a letter to Dr. Perry dated March 15, 1941, President tenBroek described the efforts he had been making to get changes in the administration of public assistance to the blind. Here, in part, is what he said: After a week in Washington I have more unsocial exchange to report than specific accomplishment.... Gradually working our way upward, Gayle Burlingame and I first presented our case to Jane Hoey, director of the Bureau of Public Assistance, and her associate, a lawyer named Cassius. Next we went to Oscar Powell, executive director of the Social Security Board; and finally to Paul V. McNutt, administrator of the Federal Security Agency. Hoey is simply another social worker of the familiar type but with a higher salary than most. Cassius has lost none of his qualities since Shakespeare described him, except that his wit has been sharpened by a little legal training. Powell is a very high calibre man with a fine sense of argumentative values, a considerable store of good nature, and unusual perception. He simply is not a believer in our fundamental assumptions. McNutt, on the other hand, is a lesser Hitler by disposition and makes our California social workers look like angels by comparison. Hoey and Powell had argued that the new ruling of the Board did not necessarily result in a reduction of a recipient's grant by the amount of his earnings or other income. McNutt took the position that it did and, moreover, that it should. `Are you saying to us,' I asked McNutt, `that blind people should have their grants reduced no matter how small their private income and no matter how great their actual need?' His answer was that he was saying precisely that. I formulated the question in several other ways, only to get the same reply. I can't say that I wasn't glad to get this official declaration from McNutt since it provides us with an official declaration by the highest administrator of them all that ought to be of immense propagandistic value to us. Moreover, McNutt's conduct during the conference has provided us with the most perfect example of the arbitrary and tyrannical methods of the Board that we could hope to have.
In the remaining week that I shall stay in Washington, we shall attempt to carry our appeal to the last administrative step. Senator Downey of California and Senator Hughes of Delaware are attempting to secure for us appointments with Mrs. and President Roosevelt. As things stand, the only course open to the blind of California is to urge the legislature to retain the blind aid act in its present form and tell the federal government to go to hell. Even if we can get a favorable amendment to the Social Security Act, it certainly will not be until after the California legislature adjourns. This is what Dr. tenBroek wrote in 1941, and although we have often said in this organization that the first task which the Federation faced after its founding was to help the blind of the nation get enough money for bare survival, I sometimes wonder if we have made the point with sufficient clarity to convey the desperation of it. The report which was prepared following the 1941 convention of the Federation in Milwaukee says in part:
Mr. Stephen Stanislevic of New York City reported as follows:
`The blind population of New York State is roughly estimated at 13,000. Of these, more than half are in New York City. A very small number of our people, a few hundred in all, are at present employed in sheltered industries, on government projects, at newsstands, or in miscellaneous enterprises. The majority depend for sustenance either upon private bounty or upon Social Security grants. The average monthly grant per individual is $27 in New York City and $23 in the up-state counties. This is the paltry pittance which the wealthiest state in our Union sees fit to dole out to those of its citizens who are blind.'
Mr. Hugh McGuire explained that in Indiana there are approximately 2,600 blind and that between 2,200 and 2,300 are drawing assistance with the monthly average of $20. That was forty-nine years ago, and much has happened in the interim. Not that it happened by chance, of course. Mostly we made it happen. How many times since 1940 has the National Federation of the Blind led the way in social reform in this country, not only for the blind but also for others? To mention only three examples, we pioneered exempt earnings for the recipients of public assistance; we pioneered fair hearing procedures in rehabilitation and other public programs; and we pioneered jobs for the disabled in government service. As I have already said, our first task as an organization was to initiate programs to enable the blind to get enough to eat. In 1940 and the decades immediately following, most of the blind of this country were desperately poor, and there were almost no government programs to help. When people are hungry, little else matters. Later (although many of us were still in poverty and, for that matter, are now) we worked on rehabilitation and employment, and today we emphasize civil rights and equal participation in society. But essentially our role is what it has always been seeing that blind people get equal treatment and a fair shake.
It is not only in basics but also in detail that our operation today is often much the same as it was in past decades. Let me give you a rather specialized example. I have made a lot of banquet speeches at these conventions, and certain key ideas are central to them all. I can sum up the essentials in a few sentences. The real problem of blindness is not the blindness itself but what the members of the general public think about it. Since the agencies doing work with the blind are part of that general public, they are likely to possess the same misconceptions that are held by the broader society. The blind, too, are part of that broader society, and if we are not careful, we will accept the public view of our limitations and thus do much to make those limitations a reality. The blind are not psychologically or mentally different from the sighted. We are neither especially blessed nor especially cursed. We need jobs, opportunity, social acceptance, and equal treatment not pity and custody. Only those elected by the blind can speak for the blind. This is not only a prime requisite of democracy but also the only way we can ever achieve first-class status.
These are the essential points of every banquet speech I have ever made. The banquet speeches are meant to be widely circulated. They have the purpose of convincing those in work with the blind and the public at large that they should rethink their notions about blindness. They also have the purpose of stimulating our own members to increased activity and added vigor. Hopefully the speech will be sufficiently inspiring, entertaining, and literate to make people want to listen to it and later (when it is distributed) to read it. The difficulty is that just about the same thing needs to be said every year, but it has to be restated so that the listeners (and ultimately the readers) will feel that it is different and maybe even new. After a while, putting it all together becomes quite a problem. I don't think I ever talked about this matter with Dr. tenBroek, and I certainly did not attend the 1949 convention at Denver. With this background let me share some correspondence with you. Kingsley Price was a Californian, who became a college professor and was living in New York in the 1940s. In a letter dated April 8, 1949, Dr. tenBroek wrote to urge him to attend the Denver convention. The problem does not arise, Dr. tenBroek said, out of an unmixed desire to enjoy your company. I would like to get you to give the principal banquet address. This is something that I have not been able to dodge very often in the seven conventions that we have had. [Conventions were not held in the war years of 1943 and 1945.] The banquet address, Dr. tenBroek continued, is a kind of focal point in which the problems of the blind, their peculiar needs with respect to public assistance, employment, and equal opportunity are formulated and presented both with an eye to rededicating and stimulating the blind persons present and an eye to enlightening and possibly converting the many sighted persons who have been invited to attend. For me, this has always been a job of rehashing and repeating certain central ideas. My imagination and new methods of statement have long since petered out. The next alternative is to get a new `stater.' This is what I would like you to be.
We would, of course, introduce you as a New Yorker since there are far too many Californians in the limelight as it is. We also, if we thought hard, could find one or two other chores about the convention for you to do.
Please think this matter over as long as you want, but let me have an immediate answer.
Among other things, Dr. tenBroek obviously wanted to get Price to become more active in the movement, and he probably thought the banquet speech might be a way to do it. There has always been a tendency for the successful members of a minority to try to avoid involvement.
The only trouble with this behavior is that it won't work. At an earlier period many blacks tried to straighten their hair and hide in white society, but then they realized that it was better to make it respectable to be black. The corollary, if I need to say it, (and every one of us had better know and understand it) is that it is respectable to be blind. That's what the National Federation of the Blind is all about.
No blind person in this country is untouched by our successes or, for that matter, our failures and no blind person can avoid identification with the rest of us. This is true regardless of how the blind person feels about it and regardless of how we feel about it. Blindness is a visible characteristic, and all of us are judged by each other whether we like it or not. The feeling I have toward those blind persons who try to hide in sighted society is not anger but pity and, yes, I am talking about those who are regarded (and who regard themselves) as highly successful.
When Professor Price replied to Dr. tenBroek, he said that he might be able to come but would probably do a bad job making the banquet speech. He should not have been deceived by the light tone of Dr. tenBroek's letter of invitation, for Federation presidents take banquet speeches seriously. In a letter dated April 21, 1949, Dr. tenBroek set him straight:
I am not now, nor on June 20th shall I be, in the least inclined to accept a bad job in the banquet address. If I were willing to accept a bad job, I can think of at least a hundred persons of assured competence to satisfy the requirement.
The banquet address is the focal point of the whole meeting. It has come to be regarded as the most important thing that is done at a convention. Many people of influence in the community are invited to hear it. The Governor of the State often is present, and the occasion is used to give him instructions as to what his policy should be towards the blind. The address is expected to be of such a character that it can be published and circulated the nation over with some advantage to the blind.
The address must be on the subject of the nature of the problems of blindness, and the discussion should be frank and forthright. Amplification of points by way of personal experience is always helpful and attractive. One conclusion that must always be reached is that the blind should speak for themselves because they are the only persons qualified to do so. I enclose a copy of my Baltimore address, which may give you an idea of what needs to be said. The same truths have to be retold, but the hope is that they will be dressed up in a new and fresh style, even to the point of appearing to be different truths. One further word: It may be that the address will be broadcast direct from the banquet hall. Consequently, both speech and delivery need to be well in hand.
I hope these admonitions are solemn enough to convince you of the importance of doing a good job and yet not so solemn as to scare you away. We are desperately in need of a new voice and a new brain to do this job and a man from New York has geographical advantages as well.
In considering our past I am mindful of the fact that except for inspiration, perspective, and prediction, there is no purpose to the study of history. Certainly we can find inspiration in the lives of Warring Wilkinson, Newel Perry, and Jacobus tenBroek. Often in lonely isolation they worked for a distant future which they knew they would never see but which is our present. Using meager resources that they could ill-afford to spare, they fought to build a framework of opportunities and benefits which constitute the underpinning and foundation of what we have today. How can we be unmoved by their story? It speaks to us across the years calling us to conscience, giving us strength for the battles ahead, reminding us of our heritage, and underscoring our duty to those who will follow. Yes, there is inspiration in our history, and it also gives us perspective. Otherwise we might become discouraged. Even today, with all of our work, more often than not when we come to one of these conventions and talk to the press, they assign their medical reporters to deal with us. They want to write stories about our guide dogs, the causes of blindness, and how capable we are because we can do the ordinary tasks of daily living, like cutting our food or finding our way. But the balances are shifting. Each year a few more reporters are beginning to understand that our story is not one of physical loss, or courage in the face of deprivation, but lack of opportunity and denial of civil rights. A perfect example is the recent story in the Wall Street Journal about the blind who are running their own businesses. It contains not a scrap of pity, nor a wasted word about those who (though blind) are valiantly struggling to earn a living.
Of course, it contains drama but it is the drama of a people fighting to rise to first-class status in a society which treats them like children and wonders why they object. Recently I went to the White House and talked with the President of the United States about the problems we are having with the airlines and the Federal Aviation Administration. We are being excluded from exit row seats on airplanes, but year after year the Federal Aviation Administration has said that there is no issue of safety in our sitting there. Now (because of pressure by the airlines) they have changed their minds. As we have become painfully aware, the issue of seating is only one tiny part of an overall pattern of bullying and harassment which blind persons face today in air travel. The difficulty which always confronts us when we try to discuss this issue is the talk we get about compassion and how commendable it is that we are trying to be independent all of which is a bunch of nonsense. If we pose a hazard in exit row seats, we shouldn't sit there and we wouldn't want to. If we don't pose a hazard in exit row seats, then we have as much right to sit there as anybody else, and to try to make us move is an infringement of our civil rights. In either case compassion has nothing to do with it. When I tried to convey these ideas to President Bush, his response made it clear that he had been thoroughly briefed and by somebody who hadn't the faintest idea about the issues. In answer to my question the President said that if there was no evidence that we constituted a greater hazard than others in exit row seats, he would put an end to the rule if he had the power to do so which, of course, he has. I wasn't very hopeful about the outcome because of two things. President Bush kept avoiding the word blind , gingerly referring to us as the non-sighted, and he said that Secretary of Transportation Skinner had personally tested an airplane door to see whether an individual without sight could open it which is comparable to my going (with my lack of experience) to a hospital to see what can be done with surgical instruments.
The President assigned his lawyer, Boyden Gray, to look into the matter and get back to me. The results were what might have been expected. Mr. Gray did not talk to us, nor did he look at the video tape of our test evacuation of an airplane. Instead, he talked with Secretary of Transportation Skinner, who told him that we constituted a safety hazard which data he ceremonially transmitted to me.
So was it just an exercise in futility? Not at all. This is where perspective helps. In 1940 Dr. tenBroek was not able even to get a hearing from President Roosevelt even though two United States senators tried to help him do it. Moreover, my talk with President Bush was only one brief skirmish in our long airline fight, and the history of our past efforts tells us that we will ultimately win. It is true that Dr. tenBroek did not get to talk with President Roosevelt, but it is also true that most of the Social Security reforms for which he fought have been adopted and mostly they have been adopted through the efforts of the National Federation of the Blind. Likewise, we lost the recent motion to cut off debate on our airline bill in the United States Senate, but we had fifty-six votes. And when has any other group in the blindness field ever been able to bring a bill of its own to the floor of the United States Senate and have it be the pending business of that body for several days? Never and never with the number of votes we mustered. Again, this was only a single skirmish in an individual battle in a long war a war which has been going on for more than a century, a war which we are winning, and a war which we intend to finish. Yes, our history provides us with both inspiration and perspective and it also gives us the basis for prediction. Of course, no individual can be sure of what will happen tomorrow, but I feel absolutely certain that this organization will continue to grow and lead the way in improving the quality of life for the blind. The outward appearance of the issues may shift, but the basics will not change not until we have achieved equal treatment and first-class status in society. And we will achieve it.
In examining our past I have not attempted to assess my own role and contributions. How could I? I have been too close, loved too deeply, put too much of my life into the process. All I can say is this: When Dr. tenBroek was dying, I made certain pledges to him. I have tried to keep those pledges. I shall always try to keep them. And when in 1986 I thought the time had come that the movement would best be served by my leaving the presidency, I did it. The decision was not easy, but I think it was right. I believe that President Maurer was the best person we could have chosen for the position and that he will lead this organization into the twenty-first century stronger, more vibrant, and more committed than it has ever been. And there is something more: I think the new generation that is on the horizon will provide leaders and members who will be present fifty years from now when we meet for our hundredth anniversary. We must never forget our history; we must never dishonor our heritage; we must never abandon our mission. With love for each other and faith in our hearts we must go the rest of the way to equal status and first-class membership in society. Let us march together to meet the future.
1. All of the material concerning Dr. Perry except what I got from my own discussions with him is taken from Newel Perry:
Teacher of Youth and Leader of Men, by Jacobus tenBroek, Braille Monitor, February, 1976. The quotes from Dr. tenBroek are taken from letters in the files of the National Federation of the Blind.
NATIONAL FEDERATION OF THE BLIND AWARDS FOR 1990
National Federation of the Blind awards are not given lightly. If an appropriate recipient does not emerge from the pool of candidates for a particular award, it is simply not presented that year. However high our standards are as a matter of course, they become even more rigorous during milestone conventions. Honorees on these special occasions must be particularly distinguished. Great care is lavished on their selection, and equal pride surrounds the bestowal of the awards. This golden anniversary year saw the presentation of only two awards. Here's how it happened the night of the banquet, July 5.
The Blind Educator of the Year Award
At the Thursday, July 5 banquet Fred Schroeder, representing the National Association of Blind Educators, presented the 1990 Blind Educator of the Year award. This is what he said:
This evening I am here as the chairman of the selection committee for the Blind Educator of the Year Award. This is an award presented by the National Association of Blind Educators, which is a division of the National Federation of the Blind. Patricia Munson, President of the division, asked me to chair this committee; and as we begin this presentation, I would like to thank the members of the selection committee, Lev Williams of Tennessee and Maria (Ernie) Morais of California. As always, we had many applicants all of whom were of a very high caliber. The work of the committee was very difficult, yet it is a rewarding experience to serve on this committee and to review the applications of distinguished blind educators. I think it is particularly appropriate that the division honor a blind educator in light of the fact that Dr. tenBroek, himself a distinguished professor, was the founder of the National Federation of the Blind. He led the blind out of hopelessness into the promise of the National Federation of the Blind. Dr. Jernigan was also a teacher, and he has led and taught many of us, helping us chart the course of the future and articulating our philosophy over the years. President Maurer, while not an educator by profession, has certainly distinguished himself as a teacher among us and as our leader in the third generation. Each year, as we begin the process of determining who should receive the Blind Educator of the Year Award, we look for someone who is a distinguished teacher, but we also look for an individual who has contributed to the nation. As we look back over the four years that the Blind Educator of the Year Award has been given, the people who have received it certainly symbolize the best in teaching and the best in service to the blind. The first recipient, for example, was Pauline Gomez of New Mexico. Last year our own Patricia Munson, now President of the Division, was the recipient. It is with great pleasure this evening that I present the fourth annual Blind Educator of the Year Award to Dr. Abraham Nemeth. We have a plaque to present to him and also a check for $500 from the national organization. Those of us who know Dr. Nemeth know that he is in fact an outstanding educator. Dr. Nemeth was born and raised in the Lower East Side of Manhattan in New York City. During his elementary and secondary education, he attended both public school and the New York Jewish Guild for the Blind in Yonkers. After completing high school, Dr. Nemeth began his college training at Brooklyn College, where he majored in mathematics. Unfortunately a rehabilitation counselor got hold of him and pressured him by saying that a blind person couldn't pursue that field. He eventually forced Dr. Nemeth to change his major to psychology. In 1940 Dr. Nemeth earned his bachelor's in psychology and began working on a graduate degree at Columbia University. In 1942 he was awarded a master of arts degree in psychology. But Dr. Nemeth is a Federationist with all that that implies. No rehabilitation counselor could keep him down. In 1964 Dr. Nemeth earned a Ph.D. in mathematics at Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan. He is indeed a distinguished teacher. He has taught at Manhattan College in New York and later went on to teach at Detroit University in Detroit, Michigan. He retired in 1985, at which time he moved to Southfield, Michigan.
Dr. Nemeth has also made numerous contributions to the blind. In 1952 he created the Nemeth code for Braille mathematics. In 1954 he created the dictionary of Braille music symbols, another great contribution in the blindness field. He is a member of the National Federation of the Blind Research and Development Committee, and he developed a computer program which drives the NFB scientific calculator, the best calculator on the market. Dr. Nemeth, as I present to you this plaque, I would like to read the inscription. The plaque has the logo of the National Federation of the Blind, and it says:
National Association of Blind Educators A division of the
National Federation of the Blind Blind Educator of the Year
Award July 5, 1990
Abraham Nemeth, Ph.D.
Leader, colleague, and friend
Dr. Nemeth, who was clearly moved deeply by the award, responded as follows: It is very rare that I have few words to say, but this occasion caught me completely by surprise. Usually I tell people, 'Before I begin to speak, I would just like to say a few words.' But at this particular time, I don't have a few words to say before I speak. It is a great honor to me to be recognized by such a wonderful movement as the National Federation of the Blind. The Federation makes it possible for blind people to dare to dream; and, as someone said this afternoon, if you don't dream, it will never come true. I just wish everyone here in this whole movement the blessing of the good Lord. I don't know what else to say; I'm just overcome.
The Distinguished Educator of Blind Children Award
Sharon Maneki, President of the NFB of Maryland and chairwoman of the Distinguished Educator of Blind Children Selection committee, then presented this year's award. She said:
Fellow Federationists, this evening it is a great privilege and honor to talk about a distinguished educator. The National Federation of the Blind believes in the future of blind persons. What better way to insure that future than to invest in our blind children? So we have designed the Distinguished Educator of Blind Children Award. The recipient of this award this evening is truly a distinguished educator. It is most appropriate that she be recognized at such a special convention, our 50th anniversary. She is an educator who has not only influenced the children in her school district, Heartland, Iowa, but she has influenced blind children, their teachers, and their parents throughout the nation. She is an author of, not one book, but three: Your School Includes a Blind Student; A Resource Guide for Parents and Educators of Blind Children ; and, her most recent endeavor, A Handbook for Itinerant and Resource Teachers of Blind and Visually Impaired Students . Whenever we have a question, we call on her, and she comes to the rescue with a thought, an idea, a suggestion. I'm sure all of you now know who this recipient is, so it gives me great pleasure to present this award to Doris Willoughby. First of all I would like to present Doris with a $500 check. We also have an appropriate plaque. It too, has the logo of the National Federation of the Blind, and it reads:
National Federation of the Blind honors Doris Willoughby, Distinguished Educator of Blind Children, for your skill in teaching Braille and the use of the white cane, for generously devoting extra time to meet the needs of your students, for inspiring your students to perform beyond their expectations, and for sharing your wisdom with your colleagues and parents across the nation through your writing, July 5, 1990.
Doris Willoughby responded as follows: I am very much honored, and the greatest honor is to make a contribution to the education of blind children. That's what really matters equal opportunity for blind children. I could never have done any of this without the background of the National Federation of the Blind. I would like particularly to mention the help given in the preparation of this most recent book by Sharon Duffy, the co-author; to Curtis Willoughby, my husband, who did all the programming, including those marvelous pictures of the abacus; and to Dr. Cranmer and Dr. Nemeth, who made it possible to have the information about the abacus and about math. I would also like to mention Kim Bosshart, who received this award last year and who is here again this year. She is a great help to all of us. Again, I would like to say that I could not have done any of this without the National Federation of the Blind. It is a great honor to be here.
1990 SCHOLARSHIP PRESENTATION
In recent years, one of the highlights of every convention has been getting to know the group of scholarship winners, many of whom are attending their first National Federation of the Blind convention. And one of the most exciting parts of the annual banquet celebration is the presentation of the scholarship awards. Peggy Pinder, Chairman of the Scholarship Committee, calls the winners to the podium, where they receive the congratulations of President Maurer and Dr. Jernigan; a certificate designating the particular scholarship which each has won; and a special certificate from the Committee of One Thousand, presented this year by Dr. John Redwine. Because this was the fiftieth anniversary celebration, each member of the scholarship class of 1990 also received a bronze medallion as a special memento. Peggy Pinder began the presentation with a few words to the winners. Here is the way it happened at the banquet:
The National Federation of the Blind stands for success fifty years now of bringing security, equality, and opportunity to blind Americans. In our fifty years we have achieved success in countless areas: from opening the Civil Service at the federal and and state levels to blind persons to almost closing down NAC; from stimulating literacy and the use of Braille among blind people to quelling the excesses of rehabilitation; from taking on the airlines to taking down our own history in the new book, Walking Alone and Marching Together . But our most important success of all has been in the way that we view ourselves and in the way that we are viewed by our fellow citizens. Our success is right here in this room with us this evening fifty years of success in changing what it means to be blind. The Scholarship Program of the National Federation of the Blind, like the Federation itself, is based on success. Blind people from every state in the nation applied for these scholarships. We received a total of over five hundred applications. From this outpouring of achievement and success, your Scholarship Committee has selected twenty-six men and women as the 1990 golden anniversary scholarship winners. Since they have been with us since Saturday evening, many of you have met them this week. They are achieving success in their chosen fields of study. I want to remind each of you that every person in this room has participated in the scholarship program in 1990. With us this evening are some people who have individually endowed scholarships in memory of loved ones. In this room also are the members of the Committee of One Thousand, whose work is helping to make more and more scholarship funds available. And most of all, in this room are three thousand of us who constitute the donors of all the awards designated as National Federation of the Blind Merit Scholarships. We're all donors of these scholarships. As I present each one, I will read the name of the person who has won it and then tell you a little about him or her. The first category of the twenty-six awards will consist of $2,000 scholarships. We will then progress to $2,500 scholarships and $4,000 awards. The final award this evening, will be worth $10,000. The person who wins this one will not only have been chosen by his or her fellow blind Americans as the outstanding blind student of this year, but will also have earned the opportunity to speak briefly to this wonderful fiftieth-anniversary gathering of the National Federation of the Blind.
As each scholarship winner comes across the stage, he or she will also be given an NFB commemorative bronze medal to symbolize his or her membership in the class of 1990 golden anniversary scholarship winners. As I introduce each of these winners, I am sure that you will agree with the scholarship committee that these men and women, like the National Federation of the Blind, stand proudly for success. The first scholarships I will read are the National Federation of the Blind Merit Scholarships valued at $2,000. There are nine such scholarships. Carrie Elizabeth Amestoy of Georgia: Carrie will be a sophomore in the fall at Harvard College, where she is studying towards a B.A. in English. Carrie has indicated a variety of interests consistent with her wide achievement and success. She is interested in being a writer, a journalist, or possibly a lawyer. Or she might consider a career in business. You can tell from her application that this one will be a success wherever she goes. Elizabeth Regina Butler of Mississippi: Elizabeth will be a freshman at Mississippi University for Women in the fall, where she intends to earn a bachelor's degree. She is looking at careers in education, special education, and counseling with a particular interest in family development. Misty Michele Collins of Arkansas: Misty will be a freshman at the University of Central Arkansas. She will earn a degree in English.
She is interested in becoming a writer. Misty indicates that she intends to write fiction as well as nonfiction, and she has already promised the National Federation of the Blind that she, like Dr. Matson, will autograph any of her books for us. Sara Jane Cripps of Tennessee: Sara will be a freshman at Tennessee Technological University in the fall, where she will study for a bachelor's degree and ultimately for a juris doctorate. Sara intends to be a lawyer. She has a wide variety of interests, including having competed at the national level in goat-tying and American painted-horse competitions. Sara is a winner.
Lisa Marie Heins of Illinois: In the fall Lisa will be in the second year of a graduate program at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale, studying towards a master's degree in community nutrition. Lisa intends to apply her skills and interests in dietetics and community health throughout the rest of her life. Bradley Clark Kadel of Illinois: Brad has recently earned a bachelor's degree from Luther College in Iowa and is heading this fall for his first year of graduate study at American University. Brad intends to earn a Ph.D. in history and English and intends to be a professor at the university level. Any of you who have met Brad already know that he will succeed in that as he did when he attended the University of Nottingham for one year during his undergraduate career. Janice Michelle Karin of Illinois: Janice, who is seventeen years old, will be a junior in the fall at the University of Chicago, where she is already half-way towards her bachelor's degree in physics. Janice intends a career in either research or applied astronomy with a particular interest in working with our country's space program. She also writes poetry.
Cheryl L. Meadors of Arizona: Sherry will be a junior in the fall at the University of Arizona at Tempe, where she is on her way towards a bachelor's degree in social work. She has a deep interest in human services and social work and intends to earn a master's degree on her way to reforming the vocational rehabilitation system in this country.
Royce E. Oliver III of Georgia: After earning a bachelor's degree with honors at Harvard College, Royce entered Columbia Law School last year. He'll continue his studies there this year, where he will be a second-year student. It helps, though, in starting your second year to know that in your first you won the Columbia Law School Moot Court competition. Congratulations Royce! That concludes the National Federation of the Blind Merit $2,000 Scholarships. The next presentation will be the Hermione Grant Calhoun Scholarship, which bears a name of much honor and tradition in the Federation. It is in the amount of $2,000 and was given by one of our long-time leaders who was herself deeply interested in international travel, study, and improvement of the blind.
Judith Louise Rasmussen of Wisconsin: Judith has completed all her work for a doctoral degree except for her dissertation at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, where she will earn a Ph.D. in French literature. Judith intends to be a professor at the college level in French to start with, a discipline in which she is now serving as a teaching assistant. She also intends to continue to broaden her abilities and has just won a scholarship from another scholarship-granting authority to go to Cairo to study Arabic.
The next award is titled the Francis Urbanek Memorial Scholarship.
It is also in the amount of $2,000 and is endowed annually by a faithful member of the National Federation of the Blind of South Carolina in loving memory of a brother.
Ross Stewart Kaplan of Pennsylvania: Ross had a wide variety of choices in his studies in the fall, and he has finally decided to spend his freshman year at Vassar. Ross will study towards a bachelor's degree in education or psychology or political science or.... If you talk to him, you know his interests are endless. He will be a success no matter what he chooses. The next award is the Ellen Setterfield Memorial Scholarship endowed by a warm friend of the National Federation of the Blind in the amount of $2,000. This scholarship is restricted to graduate students in the social sciences and was endowed specifically by the donor in memory of a loved one, endowed to encourage study by the blind in the social sciences at the advanced level. Danny G. Wells of Georgia: Danny has finished all but his dissertation at the University of Georgia at Athens, where he is studying towards a Ph.D. in political science. Danny intends to be a professor of political science at the university level as well as continuing to do research. In the course of his work, he has earned another scholarship in addition to ours this summer and will be spending a month at Calvin College. Danny has also trained and shown horses.
The next scholarships are also entitled National Federation of the Blind Merit Scholarships. There are seven of these, each in the amount of $2,500.
Daniel Badger Frye of South Carolina: After earning his bachelor's degree at Erskine College in South Carolina, Dan is now headed for one of the top twenty law schools in this country, the University of Washington Law School in Seattle, where he will be a first-year student in the fall. Dan intends to earn a law degree and continue his activity in the Federation, where he has served in a number of roles. He has also worked for a Congressman and has helped to found and to organize student chapters around the country.
Jeanine Lineback of Texas: In the fall Jeanine will be a sophomore at the University of Texas at Austin, where she intends to complete her studies toward a bachelor's degree in history. All you have to do is ask her, and she'll tell you she's going to earn that master's; she's going to earn that Ph.D.; she's going to be a professor of history and also a professor of foreign languages. We're lucky to have Jeanine in the National Federation of the Blind, where she has been active already for a number of years. Adam E. Linn of Massachusetts: Adam will be a freshman in the fall at Harvard College, where he intends to earn a bachelor's degree. Adam's specific intentions are as yet undecided, and he is a wise man. He is going to sample the smorgasbord before he decides. But he does have particular interests in business and law. Keep an eye on this young man; he'll be going somewhere. Kyle Elizabeth McHugh of Massachusetts: Kyle has been working for five years as a legislative assistant to Senator Patricia McGovern, who serves as the Chairman of the Senate Ways and Means Committee in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. She's decided to go back to school to further her education and was admitted this year to a one-year program at the John F. Kennedy School of Government, which is a part of Harvard University. She'll be attending that program to earn her master's degree in public administration, after which she intends to become a public health administrator and begin to make some of the changes and reforms, the need for which she knows well.
Holly Lorraine Pilcher of Florida: Holly is another one of our winners this year who began her Federationism early, for she already serves as a chapter officer even though she has just completed high school. In the fall she will be a freshman at Boston University. She intends to earn a bachelor's degree there in economics and ultimately to be a lawyer. Laura E. White-Correia of Alaska: Laura will be a senior in the fall at the University of Alaska at Fairbanks, where she is currently studying for her bachelor's degree in the field of education and English. Laura wants to be a teacher of English at the junior high school level, where she has a special interest in teaching the next generation of sighted children the capabilities of the blind.
Francis E. Wozniak of Missouri: Frank will be a junior in the upcoming academic year at Southwest Missouri State University at Springfield, where he and his family make their home. Frank is working toward the bachelor's degree in computer information systems and also in psychology. He intends to earn a master's degree and then become a computer programmer in private industry. He was a founding member and serves as President of the Student Division in Missouri.
Next we come to our oldest scholarship and one for which I have a personal affection since it is the scholarship which I received when the Federation gave but one: the Howard Brown Rickard Scholarship in the amount of $2,500. This scholarship is restricted to students in the areas of law, the natural sciences, engineering, and architecture.
Geoffrey N. Courtney of Texas: Geof will be a senior this fall at the University of Notre Dame, where he is studying towards his bachelor's degree in the honors program in history and philosophy with a concentration in English. Geof is already being recruited by graduate schools. The next award will be the Melva T. Owen Memorial Scholarship in the amount of $2,500. It is restricted to a person who is in an undergraduate school and is also of long standing in the Federation.
Kathy Gale Kannenberg of North Carolina: Kathy will be a senior this fall at North Carolina State University in Raleigh, where she is studying towards a bachelor's degree in math and math education. She intends to be a math teacher at the high school level. Kathy was also a founding member of her student chapter, the National Federation of the Blind of North Carolina Student Division. The next award is the Frank Walton Horn Memorial Scholarship in the amount of $2,500, and the generous donors of this scholarship, the Barnums, are with us this week. Also with us are their daughter Cathy Randall and her husband Bob. Amy S. Zellmer of Wisconsin: Amy will be a freshman this fall at Harvard/Radcliffe, where she intends to earn a bachelors degree in biology and math.
Amy intends to make herself a career in biological and environmental engineering.
The next three awards, in the amount of $4,000, are also called National Federation of the Blind Merit Scholarships. Michael T. Ferrence of Pennsylvania: Michael will be entering law school this fall at the Dickinson School of Law in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, where he intends to earn his juris doctor degree. Mike has a particular interest in labor law and is also proud of the fact that he was born and raised in Wilkes-Barre. Berenice Wong Ong of California: Berenice will be a sophomore this year at the University of California at Berkeley, where she is studying for a bachelor's degree in business administration and accounting. Berenice intends to be a lawyer with an emphasis on taxation. Some people have resisted the idea of her going to college. She has told everyone that brought up the subject to her that she intended to earn a college degree and to make her way, and she is going to do it. Angie Page of Colorado: Angie will be a second-semester junior this fall at the University of Colorado at Boulder, where she is studying political science. I think I can say that she intends ultimately to be a lawyer and has an abiding interest in politics. Along with serving as President of the National Federation of the Blind of Colorado Student Division, Angie is also working now on the campaign of Josie Heath, who is compaigning to be the next United States Senator from Colorado. Angie has served several internships in the Colorado State Legislature.
The final and most valuable scholarship is also the one whose recipient has earned the right to speak briefly to the convention of the National Federation of the Blind. I will read you the scholarship and read its description, and then, as she comes forward, I will tell you something about our American Brotherhood for the Blind Ezra Davis Memorial Scholarship winner this year. This scholarship is in the amount of $10,000. Robin Elaine Zook of Colorado: Robin is currently in the first year of a doctoral program at Brigham Young University, where she is studying toward an M.A. and ultimately a Ph.D. in genetics and molecular biology. Robin intends to be a teacher at the university level. She is currently also working on a long-term research project involving analysis of DNA and finds her love of research strong enough to wish to continue research as well as to teach. She wants particularly to focus on human disease genetics. In addition to all of these interests (she has served, for example, as a lab instructor at her university) Robin has also trained and ridden horses, including jumpers. She has not only trained the horses, she has trained the people to care for and ride them.
A former student of hers now serves as the riding instructor at Stanford University. Here is Robin Zook.
Thank you. Several months ago I was experiencing a great deal of difficulty dealing with my visual loss. I went to the library and began reading the literature that deals with blindness. The more I read this literature, the more discouraged I became. Then I found the NFB literature, and I began to develop the philosophy of this organization. Dr. Jernigan, Mr. Maurer, I want to thank you for establishing the atmosphere in which this organization can flourish. Federationists, I want to thank you for teaching me many things, especially that it is respectable to be blind. We're ending the first fifty years of this organization, and I think that we've come a long way in these fifty years. We'll be entering the next fifty years of this organization, and I am confident that we can change what it means to be blind.
Peggy Pinder concluded the presentation by addressing a few closing remarks to the scholarship winners. She said:
Now there is a record of success and achievement! I'd like to take just a minute more to say a few words to the scholarship winners themselves. We have given to each of you a scholarship that consists of money.
We have also given each of you a scholarship to attend this convention and to spend this week with us in the National Federation of the Blind. But we believe that neither of these gifts is as valuable as the final gift. It is made up of many little things of the times this week when we have talked about using Braille or a cane, of our laughter together over things forgotten by the day after, of our debates about the content of resolutions, and of the evenings when we have danced under the stars and in the bars. It is made up of the times this week when we have shared as new friends and fellow Federationists our understanding of blindness and the role it plays in our society. All these things, taken together, comprise our gift to you, which is the National Federation of the Blind itself. This is our organization. We are the ones who recognized that it was necessary. We are the ones who founded and built it and who now take joy in its flourishing and its success at this golden anniversary celebration. We, the blind people of this nation, have taken our lives into our own hands and have determined to make our own success. We offer this Federation that we have built to you, and we ask you to accept it in the spirit in which we give it, recognizing it as the vehicle which can bring about change and improvement for the blind. We ask you to understand that there is one thing that I, at least, have never found anywhere else the profound understanding that exists among us in the blind community. We have come to recognize that it is not so much our blindness that knits us together; rather it is our deep love and respect for one another, our commitment to each other, and our insistence that every blind person shall have a chance. Scholarship winners, we were working for these goals before any of you were born and will continue to do so throughout the next fifty years. The way we do it is through the Federation, and the thing that makes the Federation work is our love. Scholarship winners, with love we give you the National Federation of the Blind. Take it as we give it. Cherish it as we have done. And help to make it in the next fifty years achieve progress that we in this room cannot even imagine. Congratulations, scholarship winners, for all of your gifts.
AWARD FROM THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES
From the Associate Editor: Of the many highpoints and surprises of the fiftieth anniversary convention of the National Federation of the Blind in Dallas one of the most noteworthy was the appearance on Thursday morning, July 5, of Justin Dart, Jr., Chairman of the President's Committee on Employment of People With Disabilities. Mr. Dart, former commissioner of the Rehabilitation Services Administration and one of the most prominent national leaders in the disability field, came to make a presentation from the President of the United States. He spoke as follows:
I am very proud to be here today with so many great soldiers in the struggle for justice. I congratulate you each one of you on fifty years of contributions to the quality of human being. And I congratulate each one of you who has worked and sacrificed over the years to bring the Americans with Disabilities Act to the threshold of victory. I congratulate you on the equal accommodations amendment that considerably strengthens ADA. And I congratulate you on your advocacy for justice in the Air Carrier Act. You are the true patriots of the twentieth century. It is my honor now to recognize the accomplishments of one of the great American pioneers of the twentieth century. It would be ludicrous for me to read to this gathering the resume of Dr. Kenneth Jernigan. But I do want to give you some personal observations. Most of the prominent people in our society are famous principally for being famous. They hold political, commercial, sports, entertainment, or mass media positions which make them automatically famous whether or not they make lasting, positive contributions to the culture. Too many of them play stereotyped roles with strained conformity and calculated flamboyant pandering to prejudice and fad. The person we honor today is different, because he has created in human culture a positive quality that was not there before because the monuments to his life will live and will multiply long after the buildings of Donald Trump and the pyramids of the pharaohs have turned to dust. He has created new, independence-oriented approaches to the field of rehabilitation. He has been a great pioneer organizer and leader of the National Federation of the Blind. His leadership of NFB has given impetus and direction to the movement to emancipate people with all disabilities who form the world's most oppressed, isolated, unemployed, impoverished, and dependent minority. Instead of using us (his followers) to make a place for himself in the hierarchy of the status quo, he has led us with the extraordinary intellectual and political courage and dedication to principle that is necessary truly to represent our interests. He is a profound philosopher and a uniquely articulate communicator who has given us revolutionary concepts that liberate and empower. He has taught us that blindness (that disability) is a characteristic of the human condition which is well within the range of the normal. He has taught us that people with blindness like all people have not only a right but also a responsibility to be fully equal, fully productive participants in the mainstream of our culture. He has taught us that equality and productivity cannot be handed down by paternalistic authority but can only be gained as we who have disabilities speak for ourselves and empower ourselves to participate fully in the decisions that control our destinies. And he has taught us that our nation and every citizen has a primary responsibility to create a society in which full equality and full productivity are not only rights but realities. He has consistently followed eloquence with effective action, with promises kept, administration accomplished, bills paid, and battles won. His contributions will live as long as human culture exists. They will live in the lives of individuals with blindness and with other disabilities who have been liberated from the bondage of prejudice and paternalism. They will live in the lives of all human beings, whose quality of life will be forever enriched.
On behalf of President George Bush it is my very great honor now to present to Dr. Kenneth Jernigan the Distinguished Service Award of the President of the United States.
At the conclusion of his remarks Mr. Dart gave Dr. Jernigan an engraved plague signed by President George Bush. The plaque reads: The President of the United States cites with pleasure Kenneth Jernigan for distinguished service in encouraging and promoting the employment of people with disabilities. July 5, 1990, George Bush.
WALKING ALONE AND MARCHING TOGETHER
As Monitor readers know, we introduced this summer at the Fiftieth Anniversary convention of the National Federation of the Blind in Dallas a history of the organized blind movement in the United States from 1940 to 1990. The author, Dr. Floyd Matson, was present and autographed copies of the book which were bought at the convention. We have now prepared a flier giving information about the book and are sending an initial mailing of 65,000 copies to libraries, colleges, universities, and high schools throughout the country. Here is what the flier says:
WALKING ALONE AND MARCHING TOGETHER: A HISTORY OF THE ORGANIZED BLIND MOVEMENT IN THE UNITED STATES, 1940-1990
by Floyd Matson
A Story Never Told
This book tells a story as true as it is dramatic that has never been told before. It is a story of the epochal struggle and ultimate triumph of a singular American social movement, that of the organized blind, which evolved over the space of half a century from a small vanguard of visionary men and women, no more than a handful in a scattering of states, into a nationwide community of fifty thousand members recognized throughout the world as a major force in the field of blindness and civil rights. Unlike previous histories of blindness and the blind, which have dealt almost entirely with the work of benefactors and agencies for the blind, this magisterial study by a distinguished cultural historian Floyd Matson breaks new ground in focusing upon the actions and aspirations of the organized blind themselves. It follows the progress of the movement from its historical origins in the remote past to the pioneering adventure of its founding in 1940, then through the early years of lonely struggle for the right of the blind to organize (indelibly associated with the name of John F. Kennedy). Then we see the turmoil of civil war, followed by renewed harmony, and explosive growth in both size and stature as symbolized by the multi-faceted National Center for the Blind.
* ©1990, 1116 pages
* ISBN 0-9624122-1-X
* Black and White Photographs, Index, Bibliographies, Biographies.
FOR THE FIRST TIME, THE STRUGGLES OF THE BLIND AS AN EMERGING MINORITY IN THE UNITED STATES IN THEIR WORDS AND FROM THEIR VIEWPOINT.... A landmark publication? Absolutely! I recommend this text for all university or high school level teachers or libraries concerned with American history, post-war politics, social studies, minority rights, affirmative action philosophy, or `the handicapped.' Full of useful supplementary material!
--Allen Harris, Chairman, Social Studies Department and Chairman, Curriculum Council, Edsel Ford High School, Dearborn, Michigan
...a fascinating story of the rise of one segment of American society to first-class citizenship based on its own grassroots efforts. John Halverson, Program Division Director, Federal Office for Civil Rights, Region VII Eye care professionals, researchers, and rehabilitation specialists serving individuals facing vision loss will gain essential insight and perspective....
--Eileen Rivera, Administrative Director, Wilmer Vision Research and Rehabilitation Center, Johns Hopkins University
FOR TRAINING TODAY'S PROFESSIONALS....
This book is an important tool for training professionals who work with minority groups or disabled persons. Every educator who has responsibility for designing and implementing programs to bring minority groups or disabled students into the mainstream should know this story, and no teacher of the disabled should enter a classroom without understanding the aspirations of the blind told in this book. Homer Page, Ph.D., Professor of Education, Graduate School of Education, University of Colorado at Boulder
Floyd Matson has lectured and written widely in the fields of minority rights, social thought, and political action. He is the author or editor of eleven books and is the co-author with Jacobus tenBroek of Hope Deferred: Public Welfare and the Blind (1959). He also collaborated with tenBroek on the award-winning Prejudice, War, and the Constitution (1954), detailing the constitutional implications of the evacuation of Japanese-Americans from the West Coast during World War II. Professor Matson teaches American Studies at the University of Hawaii.
NOW AVAILABLE HANDBOOK FOR ITINERANT AND RESOURCE TEACHERS OF BLIND AND VISUALLY IMPAIRED STUDENTS
* by D. Willoughby and S. Duffy
* ©1989, 533 pages
* Soft cover, photos, bibliography, appendices.
* ISBN 0-9624122-0-1
...LEARN HOW TO COPE WITH EVERY TYPE OF TRAVEL PROBLEM... 45 PAGES ON TEACHING BRAILLE...TIPS FOR EVERY SCHOOL SUBJECT... ADVICE FOR THE NEW TEACHER... UNDERSTANDING MEDICAL ASSESSMENTS... APPENDIX ON THE NEMETH CODE AND THE ABACUS...
The largest, most practical handbook yet written on the subject.
Patricia Munson, President, National Association of Blind Educators
You may use credit card, institutional purchase order, or check made payable in full to: NATIONAL FEDERATION OF THE BLIND, 1800 Johnson Street, Baltimore, Maryland 21230; Telephone (301)659-9314.
__Check or money order enclosed
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Send __ copy/copies Walking Alone and Marching Together @ $30.00 each plus $3.00 each for shipping Send __ copy/copies Handbook for Itinerant and Resource Teachers of Blind and Visually Impaired Students @ $20.00 each plus $3.00 each for shipping.
Copies of this flier are available in quantity from the National Office of the Federation. Every local chapter and state affiliate (in fact, every individual member of the Federation) should get the flier and take responsibility for its distribution. We should see that Walking Alone and Marching Together is in every library in the country and we should not just try to buy it and give it to the libraries but persuade them to buy it. After all, libraries have budgets for this purpose. We should also inform those in special education, social science, political science, civil rights, and other programs of the contents and availability of Walking Alone and Marching Together. This means that we ourselves must become knowledgeable about the book. It is being produced on cassette and in Braille by the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped and should be ready in these formats in a few months. Meanwhile we have the print edition, and we should get the needed information from it. But whatever we do and however we do it, we must scatter this book throughout the length and breadth of the nation. It tells the story of the blind as it really was and is, and it is up to us to see that that story is widely known. The flier gives the overall picture, but here for further detail is the Introduction:
The Dark Ages And the Dawn of Organization
The year 1990 holds extraordinary significance for blind Americans. It marks the golden anniversary of the National Federation of the Blind and so memorializes the first half-century of collective self-organization by the blind people of the United States. This book is the story of those fifty years of Federationism in America: the history of a unique social revolution, democratic and nonviolent but not always peaceful; the drama of an irresistible force some call it blind force colliding again and again with the seemingly immovable objects of supervision and superstition; and the narrative of a minority group once powerless, scattered, and impoverished coming together as a people and forging an independent movement, gaining self-expression and learning self-direction, proclaiming normality and demanding equality.
The story begins, officially, with the establishment of the National Federation of the Blind in 1940. But the historic significance of that event can be fully understood only against the background of earlier attempts to improve the dependent status of the blind through self-organization and self-help. It is a little-known fact that organizations of the blind have existed in one form or another for many hundreds, possibly thousands, of years. The earliest record of their existence comes, perhaps surprisingly, from China where blind paupers (most of them apparently beggars like others of the disabled) banded together for mutual protection nearly a millennium ago, giving rise to numbers of guilds and associations (composed entirely of blind people) which were able in time to achieve full legal and social status. The extraordinary self-determining and self-sufficient character of these pre-modern Chinese associations has been described by a blind sociologist, C. Edwin Vaughan, writing in the Braille Monitor (April, 1988):
In Medieval China for at least 1,000 years guilds of craftsmen, workers, and merchants were common. Their purpose was to prevent exploitation from government officials and to provide internal regulation of trade and craft areas of employment. There was in Beijing, formerly Peking, a guild comprised of blind persons who made a career of singing, entertaining, and storytelling. Parents would seek to place a young blind son into this guild so that he might learn a trade for his future lifelong employment. As he succeeded in the required skills, he would rise in status in the guild to the level of master.
Blind guild members in China were self-governing. The guild was governed by a board of forty-eight members of whom forty-seven were blind. The secretary was the only sighted person. The guild governed itself with regard to membership, including the discipline of members, the charges for services, and the recruitment of new members into the guild. The guild met twice each year, and the meetings lasted until 5:00 a.m.
But it was in Europe, during the Middle Ages, that independent guilds and brotherhoods of the blind came to be most highly organized and successful in their purpose. One of the most impressive of these self-contained groups was known as the Congregation and House of the Three Hundred, which flourished in Paris in the thirteenth century. In this remarkable congregation lived several hundred blind men and women who successfully governed themselves through a popular assembly and were, within the severe monastic limits of the enterprise, entirely self-sufficient. In time, however, the suspicions and stereotypes of the wider society worked against this extraordinary experiment in self-government by the sightless. Both the administration and the statutes of the congregation, as an historian tells us, underwent in the course of time a number of changes, with a considerable loss to the blind of their original rights and a corresponding increase of the influence of the sighted. 1 Still other free brotherhoods of the blind, as they were called, flourished throughout Europe during medieval times. Most of them were in the form of guilds, and it is worth noting briefly the character and function which these voluntary associations embodied. First of all, of course, they were a means of mutual protection at a time when blindness was regarded either as a communicable disease or as punishment for sins, and when the sightless might be cruelly punished or put to death with impunity. But the blind brotherhoods also had a positive role to play; they were a vehicle of self-expression and representation for the blind in the affairs of the community.
In that respect they were a force, not for segregation, but for integration of the blind into the carefully articulated society of the period. For these guilds of the blind were not unique in the age of feudalism; they coexisted with a wide variety of other specialized associations, each with its particular rights and status, which together made up the medieval community. Through such groups, largely voluntary, the blind and others of the disabled gained a collective identity and a degree of security which was otherwise denied them. Indeed, group membership was essential to all men and women as a source of recognition and identification. The unattached person during the Middle Ages, as the historian Lewis Mumford has written, was one either condemned to exile or doomed to death; if alive, he immediately sought to attach himself, at least to a band of robbers. To exist, one had to belong to an association: a household, a manor, a monastery, a guild; there was no security except in association, and no freedom that did not recognize the obligations of a corporate life.
What was true for the prosperous and able-bodied there was no security except in association was more profoundly true for the blind; and it is likely that they enjoyed a greater measure of physical and economic security within the corporative, guild-oriented society of the Middle Ages than in any previous period of history certainly more than in the so-called golden age of classical antiquity, when the common fate of blind males was to be sold into galley slavery and that of blind females to be sold into white slavery. Nor would the first centuries of the modern era compare favorably with the medieval situation. For the blind, as for others of the disabled, the breakup of the feudal order and the emergence of the modern world were in crucial respects not progress but retreat. The movement from group status to individual contract and more specifically the enactment of the infamous Elizabethan Poor Laws not merely deprived the blind of their fraternal guilds but left them scattered, alienated, and utterly dependent upon the charitable impulses of a new society indifferent at best and frequently cruel in its treatment of the handicapped. In this atmosphere it is not surprising that organizations of the blind, like trade unions and other independent associations of the poor, were actively discouraged and discredited. Within the various separate institutions that grew up to take care of them the almshouses and workhouses and subsequently the schools, homes, lighthouses, and sheltered workshops the blind were in effect segregated not only from normal society but also from each other.
It was not until the last quarter of the nineteenth century that voluntary associations of blind people began again to take shape, initially in the form of local and specialized groups. One of the first on record was the Friedlander Union of Philadelphia, organized in 1871; six years later came the New York Blind Aid Association, also composed predominantly of sightless members. By the 1890s there were a number of such groups across the country, many of them composed of alumni of the state schools for the blind. These alumni associations, representing as they did the educated minority of the blind population, tended to take a limited view of their responsibilities and interests, rather than seeking to represent the blind generally. They were the forerunners, but not yet the pathfinders or trailblazers, of the twentieth-century movement of the organized blind. Like the medieval blind guilds, the early alumni associations were largely defensive in character, for the primary stimulus to their organization came from the tragic failure of the special schools for the blind to attain the great objective which had been the dream of the pioneer educators (such men as Valentin Hauy of France, Johann Klein of Austria, and America's Samuel Gridley Howe), namely, the goal of economic integration of the educated blind into the mainstream of society. Before resuming our narrative of self-organization, it is worth recalling this misadventure of the schools and the shock of recognition which it provided. From their beginnings toward the middle of the nineteenth century, American residential schools for the blind followed the model of the European schools in placing their main curricular emphasis upon vocational training which chiefly meant instruction in the skills of weaving, knitting, basketry and chair-caning, plus music and other arts. It was the conviction of the early schoolmasters that once their blind wards had shown the ability to master these trades they would be embraced forthwith by a tolerant and receptive society. It is confidently believed, said one school official in 1854, that the blind, with proper instruction, will be able to maintain themselves free of charge from their friends or the state. There will be as few exceptions among this class, according to their numbers, as among those who have sight. 2
In their idealism, these early schoolmen showed themselves to be true heirs of the Enlightenment. Like their counterparts in general education, as well as in social and penal reform, they believed that it was necessary only to strike the chains from their wards in order to make them at once free and self- sufficient. But it was not long before they discovered their error which was that while the blind were being prepared to enter society, nothing was being done to prepare society to receive them. The old prejudices and aversions of employers and the general public remained intact; the newly trained graduates of the schools were given little or no chance to prove their abilities, but instead found all doors closed against them. Our graduates began to return to us, according to a school official, representing the embarrassment of their condition abroad, and soliciting employment at our hands. 3 The response of the schools to this rebuff was perhaps only natural, but it was also unfortunately defeatist. Instead of undertaking programs of public education, selective placement and the like in order to break down the occupational barriers against their blind students, the schoolmasters simply abandoned the goal of normal competitive employment altogether. As a blind leader of a later era, Jacobus tenBroek, was to write of this episode: At the first signs of public resistance, the optimistic philosophy of the school men crumbled; they conceded in effect that they had been wrong in believing the blind capable of competition and self-support; they were prepared to accept as irremovable the prohibitive stereotypes against which they had formerly ranged themselves, and to assist in reinforcing the ancient walls of segregation and dependency. 4 TenBroek's critical words were appropriate to the fact; instead of a place in the sun, the blind students were offered a shelter in the shade of the school yard, where they might safely practice what were already known as the blind trades without fear of competition or contamination from the seeing world.
As one report of the period sadly concluded: The proper preventive is the establishment of a retreat where their bread can be earned, their morals protected, and a just estimate put upon their talents. 5
That statement might stand as a prophetic description of the sheltered workshop movement which arose as a result of the bitter experience of the schools for the blind with vocational training and employment. The role of the workshops will be discussed in later pages; but it is pertinent here to note that the blind alumni associations came into being in the wake of this episode, providing something of a buffer against the total loss of confidence and self-respect among the educated blind. One such alumni group was that which was formed in 1895 by graduates of the Missouri School; within a year of its founding the Missouri group opened its ranks to graduates of other schools and took on the name of the American Blind People's Higher Education and General Improvement Association. It drew support promptly from blind individuals and groups in a dozen states across the country, and before the turn of the century had held conventions in Missouri and Kansas. In 1903 the character of the group as an organization of the blind was abruptly transformed when representatives of several school administrations appeared at its convention bearing a plan for a wholly different kind of association to include not only the blind but also school and program administrators. In 1905 the Association formally abandoned its old identity altogether and became the American Association of Workers for the Blind thus ending the first tentative attempt on the part of blind Americans to organize independently on a nationwide basis. This denouement was not, however, quite as destructive a blow to the principle of self-organization and self-expression as it would seem. For one thing the impulse to organize on local and state levels, once set in motion by the alumni of the schools, grew steadily and soon embraced other groups of blind persons. At the same time the development of general-purpose national agencies combining all areas of work for the blind agencies such as the AAWB and (later) the American Foundation for the Blind represented a forward step toward the professionalization and modernization of this special (and traditionally backward) field of services to the blind. Following its reorganization to include sighted professionals in 1905, the AAWB soon became what one observer has described as the N.A.M. (National Association of Manufacturers) of work for the blind. During the next decade and a half, the AAWB consolidated its position until it became the recognized voice of the numerous professional agencies about the country, not limited to one or two functions but speaking to the needs of the blind population generally. In 1921 the American Foundation for the Blind was established, primarily as a research and coordinating arm of the agencies for the blind; in effect, if the AAWB filled the role of an N.A.M. in work with the blind, the Foundation took on the stature of a combined Dupont-General Motors in the blindness system.
The American Foundation for the Blind provided the framework for the organizational pattern of the service agencies which was to prevail undisturbed until the advent of the National Federation of the Blind in 1940. This pattern, carried out by a host of agencies at the state and community levels, often under the guidance of the AFB, embraced four distinct areas of endeavor: those of research, resources, services, and representation. All four of these functions including even that of representing, or speaking for, the blind were, for their time, entirely legitimate and constructive; indeed, the AFB made great progress over the years with regard to the first three functions. It initiated the first substantial and systematic research into blindness and its problems; it developed and made available for the first time a variety of significant resources, and it greatly expanded the range and quality of services to the blind educational and economic as well as recreational and social. As for its role in those years as spokesman for the blind, the American Foundation for the Blind at its worst was better than no spokesman at all and at best was an effective champion for modernized policies and much-needed legislation. As Jacobus tenBroek, Kenneth Jernigan, and other leaders of the organized blind have repeatedly maintained, the agency structure of work for the blind during the decades prior to 1940 controlled at the top as it was by the AFB and the AAWB resembled nothing so much as a colonial regime of the nineteenth-century variety imposed, with benevolent purpose and some constructive effect, upon a dependent and inarticulate people. Like other colonial administrations, furthermore, the agency system was destined to give way to a democratic form of self-government when its blind wards should come to find their own voice and to declare their independence.
That critical turning point was to come in 1940 as the natural and almost inevitable climax of the spontaneous urge toward association on the part of blind people in state after state. Many of these groups were outcroppings of the school alumni combinations, such as the Alumni Association of the California School for the Blind formed by the legendary Newel Perry and a handful of hardy colleagues before the turn of the century for the announced purpose of helping blind people (as Dr. Perry declared) to escape defeatism and to achieve normal membership in society. Although it cannot be said that these early associations among the blind were yet prepared to demand the full rights of equality and normality, Newel Perry's declaration set the precedent and pointed the direction in which they were to evolve. Over the next three decades local organizations of blind men and women within half a dozen states came together to form statewide associations. Among them were the Central Committee of the Blind of Illinois; the Badger Association of the Blind in Wisconsin; the Pennsylvania Federation of the Blind; the Mutual Federation of the Blind in Ohio; and the California Council for (later of ) the Blind.
The fundamental purposes of the multiplying local and state associations of the blind during these years were no different from those which had animated the free brotherhoods of the Middle Ages: mutual protection, group identity, and a measure of self-expression. To these must be added the more modern urge to demonstrate to the seeing world the capacity of blind men and women to lead their own lives and govern their own affairs. Moreover, within these organizations were incubating the more practical objectives which were to find expression in the national movement of the blind. Among them were the vision of full and open employment of blind persons in the mainstream of competitive pursuits, programs of public aid providing the incentives needed to enable the blind to achieve self-support, and vocational rehabilitation programs geared to individual talent and ability rather than to the stereotyped trades of the workhouse and the workshop. These were, of course, barely imagined vistas of possibility in the period prior to the Great Depression and the New Deal of the 1930s. Social provisions for the blind were traditionally limited to state and county programs, in accordance with the ancient customs of the Poor Law. But with the vast increase of poverty and unemployment during the Depression and notably with the passage of the Social Security Act of 1935 public welfare and job opportunity became a national concern, and with it the particular needs and problems of blind Americans.
The growth of a national consciousness and a sense of solidarity on the part of blind Americans corresponded with this broader public awareness of the need for national (or federal) solutions to the problems of disadvantaged groups. But the assumption of federal responsibility for public welfare and Social Security was far from being an unmixed blessing. While the Social Security Act injected new energies and revenues into the old aid programs, it also introduced a battery of conditions and requirements which often bound the blind recipient more tightly than ever in dependency and red tape. In short, as Jacobus tenBroek pointed out, the expansion of public aid from the states to the national level did not eliminate the evils of the traditional system it only made them national. The negative side of the federal assumption of responsibility for welfare came to be felt most sharply under the 1939 amendments to the Social Security Act. These changes required that under any state program for the blind to which federal funds were contributed all the income and resources of the blind recipient must be counted in fixing the amount of the aid grant, if any. What this meant, in fact, was that a basic goal for which the blind had been striving the exemption of reasonable amounts of income as an incentive to self-support was to be eliminated by federal edict. In various ways during the depression years the center of gravity in public welfare was shifting rapidly from the state capitals to Washington. It was now Congress, along with the White House, which took the decisive steps forward or backward in the fields of welfare aid, vocational rehabilitation, public health, disability insurance, sheltered workshops, and a host of related services directly affecting the lives and livelihoods of blind men and women.
Inevitably, the nationalizing of welfare led to the nationalizing of the organized blind movement. Various factors, internal and external to the movement, combined in this preliminary period to nourish a growing sense of brotherhood, of common needs and aspirations, both among blind students mingling in their residential state schools and among blind workers meeting and sharing grievances in their all-too-sheltered workshops. A powerful rallying cry emerged during the course of the Depression decade in the form of the struggle to save Social Security from the Social Security Board that is, to protect blind recipients of aid from the means test and other onerous conditions newly imposed by the federal agency. The campaign to salvage and reform the program of aid to the blind, and in so doing to transform relief into rehabilitation, was to dominate the agenda of the National Federation of the Blind at its founding convention and to remain a guiding theme through its first decade. Newel Perry summed up the nature and trend of the evolving national movement in a 1940 editorial. During the last forty years, he wrote, a growing group consciousness has been noticeable among the blind of our country. Practically every state and large city now has an active organization with a membership composed exclusively of blind persons. These clubs seek to improve the economic conditions of the blind through the enactment of legislation and through other means. The dream of a national organization is now to be realized.
1. Richard S. French in From Homer to Helen Keller (New York: American Foundation for the Blind, 1932).
2. Quoted in Harry Best, Blindness and the Blind in the United States (New York: Macmillan, 1934), p. 474.
3. Ibid ., p. 476.
4. Jacobus tenBroek and Floyd Matson, Hope Deferred: Public Welfare and the Blind (Berkeley: University of California, 1959), p. 251.
5. Quoted in Best, op. cit., p. 476.
With this information from the flier and the Introduction all of us should be able to talk knowledgeably about Walking Alone and Marching Together. It is our book, and we must see that no college or university, no public library or high school is without it. We should also try to get it reviewed in magazines and newspapers, and we should buy it and give it to our families and friends or, better still, let them buy it for themselves and purchase other copies for those who won't. Remember that a book sells best during the year of publication not necessarily the calendar year but the ensuing twelve months. In short, let us spread the message and carry the word. The price is $30 per print copy plus $3 for shipping and handling. The price per copy for the Braille and cassette editions has not been set but will be announced soon and will be as reasonable as we can manage. The success or failure of this important project is now in your hands.
From the Associate Editor : September marks both the end of the summer and the beginning of the academic year a calendar which, in one way or another, dominates most of our lives. But even if no one in the family attends school, we all usually feel the revving up that comes with cooler weather and the resumption of tight schedules after the relaxation of the summer. It has always seemed more psychologically appropriate to me to celebrate the new year in the fall, when everything is starting up again. That, of course, is what members of the Jewish faith do, and I commend such good sense. Rosh Hashana (the Jewish New Year) occurs on September 20 this year, so we wish every one a Happy New Year in this month of beginnings. Here are some traditional festive dishes, which are family favorites in the homes of several Federationists and readers of the Braille Monitor:
by Claudell Stocker
Claudell Stocker is the head of the Braille Development Section of the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped. She is also an enthusiastic collector of recipes and an excellent cook. This is her favorite recipe for honey cake, a traditional New Year treat.
¾ cup sugar
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
½ cup honey
½ cup strong, hot coffee
1-½ cups sifted flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon each ginger, nutmeg, cloves & allspice
½ cup finely chopped nuts
¼ cup raisins
1 teaspoon lemon juice
½ teaspoon grated lemon peel
1 tablespoon brandy, optional
¼ cup confectioners' sugar
Method : Place eggs, sugar, and oil in mixer bowl and mix on medium speed until smooth and creamy. Combine honey and hot coffee and stir until honey is dissolved. Sift dry ingredients and add alternately to batter with coffee-honey mixture, mixing well after each addition. Add nuts, raisins, lemon juice and peel, and brandy, and mix well. Pour batter into a greased and wax-paper-lined 9- by 13-inch cake pan. Bake one hour at 350 degrees. Turn out of pan and remove wax paper. Turn upright. To serve, sprinkle top with confectioners' sugar.
LUKSCHEN KUGEL (NOODLE PUDDING)
by Adrienne Asch
Adrienne Asch is a loyal Federationist, finishing her Ph.D. and living in New York City. In the note that came with this recipe she says, Here is a wonderful, rich, and easy dessert served hot or cold. I have served this at nearly every major gathering I have held for the last twenty years. The recipe given here should make 12-15 servings, and doubling or quadrupling it is no problem. It requires only a larger baking dish and a little more preparation time.
8 oz. medium egg noodles
½ pound dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 large eggs
1 cup sour cream
1 cup large-curd cottage cheese
1 cup golden raisins
2 apples (peeled, cored, and chopped into 2-inch pieces)
¼ pound sweet (unsalted) butter or margarine
greased circular 9-inch by 2- or 4-inch pyrex baking dish
Method : Cook the egg noodles in boiling unsalted water until tender. Drain well and rinse thoroughly to remove starch. (It is important to keep the noodles from clumping together.) While the noodles are cooking, melt the butter. In a large bowl stir brown sugar, vanilla, and eggs until sugar lumps disappear and mixture is creamy. Add the melted butter, the sour cream, and the cottage cheese. When the noodles are cooked and drained, add them and mix thoroughly. Add the chopped apples and raisins, mixing thoroughly. Make sure that the noodles, apples, and raisins do not cluster together and fall to the bottom of the mixture.
Pour into a greased baking dish. Sprinkle cinnamon generously over the surface and bake uncovered at 350 degrees for one hour. (When I have doubled the recipe, the 9 x 4-inch pyrex dish still works fine for mixing and baking. When I have quadrupled the recipe, I have mixed everything together and baked it in a turkey roasting pan; it was perfect, if not elegant for the job.) You will know it is done when there is a sweet aroma emanating from your kitchen and when the top layer of noodles and apples is a bit crusty to the touch. Serve hot, or cover the dish with foil and refrigerate. Kugel will keep for days if it lasts that long.
by Suzi Prows
Suzi Prows is a long-time leader in the National Federation of the Blind. She now lives in Washington state with her husband Ben, who is President of that affiliate. Chicken soup is laughingly referred to as Jewish penicillin by the women who prepare it, but there is basis in fact for the widely acclaimed healing powers attributed to this comforting dish.
1 small fryer chicken (either whole or parts)
4 large carrots
4 celery stalks
6-8 sprigs parsley
1 medium yellow onion, peeled
Method: Rinse chicken and place in eight- to ten-quart stock pot. Peel and cut carrots in half, and cut celery stalks in the middle. Tie parsley sprigs in a bunch (preferably using white thread). Place the vegetables in the stock-pot with the chicken. Add enough water to cover.
Bring the soup to a soft boil, then simmer covered on low about three to four hours. Turn off the stove and let cool to room temperature or about one hour. Remove the vegetables and chicken before refrigerating the broth overnight.
Next day, take congealed fat off the top of the broth. You may wish to reheat and serve the broth alone, or return the vegetables and chicken meat. The traditional way for the holidays is to add matzo balls to the broth without vegetables. The matzo ball recipe can be found either in the February, 1990, Braille Monitor , or on the box of Manischewitz Matzo Meal.
by Suzi Prows
Here is the Prows family's variation on the traditional New Year favorite.
3-½ cups sifted flour
¼ teaspoon salt
1-½ teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
½ teaspoon ginger
¾ cup sugar
4 tablespoons salad oil
2 cups dark honey
½ cup brewed coffee
1-½ cups chopped nuts (either walnuts or almonds)
Method : Sift together flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and ginger. Beat the eggs, gradually adding the sugar. Beat until thick and light in color. Beat in the oil, honey, and brewed coffee; stir in the flour mixture and the nuts. Oil an 11 x 16 x 4-inch baking pan and line with aluminum foil. Or, if you want two smaller cakes, use two 9- inch loaf pans. Turn the batter into the pan or pans. Bake in a preheated 325 degree oven, 1-1/4 hours for the large cake, 50 minutes for the two smaller cakes, or until browned and a toothpick comes out clean. Cool on a rack before removing cake from pan.
Comments from Newlyweds:
We recently received a letter from Joe and Janet Triplett. The letter says in part: We want to thank you so much for announcing the engagement of Joe Triplett and Janet Smith from Texas at the Denver convention last year. On March 10, 1990, we were married in Cincinnati, Ohio, at Walnut Hills Baptist Church. It is interesting to note that the best man, maid of honor, organist, and soloist were totally blind. We had a small reception after the ceremony. In the middle of the bus strike we returned to our home in Houston, Texas. In the middle of April we moved here to Tulsa, Oklahoma, and we like it very much.
**New Service Available:
The Reader Project is a commercial electronic book publisher for computer users with disabilities. It provides books through computers and functions as an on-line bookstore. Books are delivered over a telephone line and can then be read on a personal computer at home. Books are produced in their entirety and retain their original page numbers. Indexes and tables of contents are included. Books can be transferred to your computer in about ten minutes. These books may be stored on hard or floppy disks, making it possible to build your own personal library. The price of each book will be the retail hard cover price of the print book.
The Single User Reader Package, which sells for $495, includes the software and a small hardware attachment which plugs into a computer port. The software is designed to work with refreshable Braille displays, speech, and large print. Systems requirements:
IBM and compatible computers with at least 512K RAM and MS-DOS 3.3 or higher. For more information or to get on the mailing list, call (800) 321-8398(TEXT).
**New Chapter, Continued Progress:
Donald Capps, President of the National Federation of the Blind of South Carolina, writes as follows: The thirty-second chapter of the National Federation of the Blind of South Carolina was organized Friday evening, July 13, 1990. The blind of Marlboro County attended an organizing dinner at a Bennettsville restaurant and listened carefully to what I had to say. They obviously liked what they heard since all twenty-three persons in attendance proudly joined the NFB of South Carolina. Thus, the Marlboro County Chapter, the thirty-second chapter of the NFB of South Carolina, came into being. The Marlboro County Chapter has excellent officers. They are: President, Billy Hendrix; Vice President, Mrs. Maggie Boan;
Secretary, Mrs. Louise Thigpen; Treasurer, Mrs. Inez Barrington; and Social Director, Mrs. Lucy Quick. The creation of the Marlboro County Chapter not only strengthens the NFB of South Carolina but also makes much stronger an already strong NFB.
Under date of July 11, 1990, Henry Kluizenaar of South Carolina writes:
Dear Dr. Jernigan:
I regret to inform you that my wife, Dorothy, died on May 21, 1990. I realized after arriving home from the 1990 convention in Dallas that I had not written you. Dorothy had attended the Chicago and Denver conventions and were it not for her illness and death she would have been at the 1990 Dallas convention. She was an active participant in the work of the blind and was an associate member of the South Carolina Greenville Chapter.
Recently Karen Mayry, President of the National Federation of the Blind of South Dakota, received the following letter:
I have the honor to inform you that I have appointed you to the Board of Services to the Blind and Visually Impaired pursuant to the provisions of Chapter 28-10-25 of the South Dakota Codified Laws. Your appointment is effective July 1, 1990, and shall continue until July 1, 1992. Your service to the citizens of this state is appreciated.
Very truly yours,
George S. Mickelson, Governor
State of South Dakota
At a recent meeting of the San Antonio Chapter of the National Federation of the Blind of Texas the following officers and board members were elected: President, Albert Wilson; First Vice President, Martha LaQue; Second Vice President, Caroline Sada;
Recording Secretary, Bonnie Severonson; Corresponding Secretary, Mary Donahue; and Board Member, Belinda Lane. Board members who are continuing their terms of office for one more year are Manuel and Peggy Gonzalez.
**Lenscrafters/NFB Joint Project:
We recently received the following press release:
An Overwhelming Success
The carwash held by Lenscrafters on Sunday, June 10, was an overwhelming success according to its organizers. Over a dozen Lenscrafters employees washed one car every two minutes for five hours, raising more than $400 for the Metrowest Chapter of the National Federation of the Blind. We were delighted by the enthusiasm of the Lenscrafters volunteers, said Dennis Polselli, President of the Metrowest Chapter of the NFB. Their sensitivity in promoting the event was greatly appreciated by chapter members.
We more than doubled our goal, which was to raise $200 for the NFB, added John Barron, general manager of Lenscrafters Natick. The media and area merchants were very helpful in lending their support to this cause.
Nearly 200 area residents participated in the festivities that included a Braille display, free helium balloons, distribution of literature, and a barbecue.
Lenscrafters plans on holding a similar event in mid-August. Polselli and Barron extend their gratitude towards the volunteers and area residents that participated.
Pauline Murphy, President of the St. Joseph Chapter of the National Federation of the Blind of Missouri, writes as follows:
Jerry Maccoux, a member of the St. Joseph Chapter of the NFB of Missouri, has just received the Employer of the Month Award from the St. Joseph State Hospital, where he works as a music therapist. On May 19, 1990, the St. Joseph Chapter of the NFB of Missouri traveled to Chillicothe, Missouri, where we formed the National Federation of the Blind of North Central Missouri. Although we did not elect officers or approve their constitution until June 9, 1990, they decided to form their chapter on May 19.
They are starting out with ten members, and their officers are:
President, Vernon Coldiron; Vice President, Jammie Pauls; and Secretary-Treasurer, Martha Young.
It is with great sadness that I report the death of Patrick Peppe on May 31, 1990. Pat died of unexpected complications from heart surgery. He was forty-nine. Long-time Federationists will remember that in the early 1970s he was one of the organizers of our first demonstrations against NAC. As an officer in the New York affiliate, he worked to insure that the state's antidiscrimination law included the blind and others with disabilities. Although no longer active with the NFB, he found ways to work for the rights and opportunities of blind people, and he carried his convictions about equality for blind people into his university teaching and into his other political work. The NFB can be proud of the work he did, and his friends inside and outside the blind community will recognize a deep loss.
We have been asked to carry the following announcement: For sale: Toshiba T1200F with internal Accent 1200 synthesizer and external 5.25 360K disk drive. All items are in very good condition and were purchased in September, 1989. Price: $2,195, which includes UPS shipping to anywhere in the U.S. and Canada. Contact: Keith Bucher, Post Office Box 130, Reader, West Virginia 26167. Phone (304) 386-4332.
**Believe It... It's True!:
The following item appears in the Spring-Summer, 1990, issue of The Blind Educator , the publication of the National Association of Blind Educators:
In September of 1988 I had just returned home from Ruston, where I was a student at the Louisiana Center for the Blind. I was confident in myself and readily accepted a transfer from the elementary school, where I had taught for thirteen years, to a local junior high school. Anticipating `Back to School Night,' when the parents visited their children's classes, I remember planning answers to parents' questions about my blindness. Before any questions came, I planned to launch into an explanation of my blindness and reassure parents I was capable of teaching and disciplining my students. I was proud of my openness in discussing my blindness. After `Back to School Night' this past September I returned home, and as I parked my cane inside the door, I realized that I had never mentioned my blindness to the parents. All we had discussed were the important issues: the students, their progress, and the educational process. My blindness was not a factor in the students' education not this year nor had it been the year before. It hadn't mattered to the students or to the parents, yet I had felt a need to prove I was okay. During the Buddy System program this year we have stated over and over:
`Your blindness really doesn't matter!' Believe it it's true!
At a recent meeting of the Stamford Chapter of the NFB of Connecticut the following were elected: Sue Manchester, President; Louis Pape, Vice President; Judy Murphy, Recording Secretary; John Padilla, Corresponding Secretary; and Candace Boshka, Treasurer.
We have been asked to carry the following announcement by John Oliveira of South Dartmouth, Massachusetts:
Direct Marketing Services is seeking telemarketers nationwide to assist in marketing products. You will work at home full- or part-time on a commission basis processing phone orders. Some of the products you will be assisting in marketing are: informational directories, long distance services, credit card services, magazine subscriptions, compact discs, and video cassettes. For a personal over-the-phone interview please call John Oliveira between 6:00 and 10:00 p.m. EST at (508) 997-1095 Monday through Thursday.
Sharon Maneki, President of the National Federation of the Blind of Maryland, writes as follows: Do you have trouble taking your dog guide into a Chinese restaurant? We have the perfect solution to this problem. You can obtain a card written in Chinese explaining your right to be accompanied by a dog guide. Send a $1.00 donation to the NFB of Maryland at 9736 Basket Ring Road, Columbia, Maryland 21045, for a three- by five-inch card printed in Chinese and English.
We have learned of the death on June 13, 1990, of Pat Bedard of Des Moines, Iowa. He reportedly died in a fishing accident on the Minnesota-Canadian border when he fell from a boat. A number of Federationists throughout the country will remember Bedard from his attendance at NFB conventions in the sixties and seventies.
**Book on Business:
We have been asked to carry the following announcement:
Attention: Blind Entrepreneurs! I am currently writing a book regarding blind folks who have started businesses of their own, with or without agency assistance but excluding the typical vending stand operations. The idea is to give would-be business persons good, sound advice from those who have personal experience in the creation and running of a business. If you are such a person and would be willing to be interviewed by tape or phone, please contact me. Each person whose business is used in the book will receive a copy of the book free of charge in the format of his choice. The book will thus serve as a networking tool among blind business owners as well as an encouragement to those just starting out. Write to: Janiece Betker, 1886 29th Avenue, N.W., New Brighton, Minnesota 55112; or call (612) 639- 1435 (family home) or (612) 631-2909 (home office). Suggestions regarding the book are always welcome.
Sharon Maneki, President of the National Federation of the Blind of Maryland, writes as follows: I am pleased to announce that on Thursday, May 31, 1990, the Frederick County Chapter of the National Federation of the Blind of Maryland came into existence. Forty-six people joined the chapter. The officers are: President, Steve Harris; Vice President, Tana Lawrence; Secretary, Teresa Gregg; Treasurer, Bud Jarrett; and Board Members, David Kukucka and Trudie Morical.
We look forward to much good work from this vibrant new chapter.
**Consider the Lock-In:
Jerry Whittle of Louisiana has asked that we carry the following announcement: The Writers Division of the National Federation of the Blind will sponsor a Writers' Lock-In at Rocky Bottom Camp in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains of South Carolina. The lock-in will begin on Tuesday, October 30, 1990, and conclude on Sunday, November 4, 1990. The purpose of the lock-in is to provide the writer a beautiful setting and the support group to help him or her complete a manuscript, grant proposal, or any other type of writing. The agenda includes motivational exercises in the morning, work and play during the day, and critiquing and fellowship in the evenings. The cost is $100.00, and this includes accommodations and all meals prepared at the camp. If you are interested and would like more information, call Jerry Whittle at (318) 251-2891. My home number is (318) 251-0626. If you prefer to write, send your inquiries to: Jerry Whittle, 22 University Boulevard, Ruston, Louisiana 71270. Hope to hear from you in the near future.
**Writing Media for the Blind:
We have been asked to carry the following announcement:
If you often write for work or recreation, please consider volunteering to participate in my master's thesis research. This study examines the writing media available to blind and low vision writers. My thesis adviser and I are blind, sharing an active Federationist spirit. Your participation will occur only by mail, starting with completion of a questionnaire. After completing this questionnaire, some participants will be recruited for a writing experiment. If you wish to volunteer, please write (in Braille or ink print) to me at this address: James Canady, 1330 New Jersey Street, Lawrence, Kansas 66044.
The Toledo Federation of the Blind, a chapter of the National Federation of the Blind of Ohio, tells us that its officers for 1990-91 are: President, Helen Johnson; First Vice President, Colleen Roth; Second Vice President, Ethel Lewis; Secretary, Sandra Bresler; Treasurer, Geraldine Bresler; Two-Year Board Members, Rita Bresler and Helen Tate; and One-Year Board Members, Ruby McDowell and Seth Haslem.
Joy Relton, one of the leaders of the National Federation of the Blind of the District of Columbia, writes with the joyous news that she and her husband Gary gave birth to Matthew Leonard Relton on May 23, 1990. Matthew weighed 8 pounds, 10 ounces and was 20-1/2 inches long. Congratulations to all three of the Reltons.
**South Dakota Convention Report:
Karen Mayry, President of the NFB of South Dakota, reports as follows: Another smashing success is the best way to describe the May 19, 1990 National Federation of the Blind of South Dakota state convention. Fred Schroeder represented our national office. His contributions throughout the day were invaluable. Participants from other states Wyoming, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, New Mexico, and Canada allowed us to learn about activities with the blind elsewhere. Canada seems to have no comparable organization, but other state representatives told us about the many projects in their respective NFB chapters. State officials, Library for the Blind staff, friends, and members joined in the 15th anniversary of our state affiliate. Door prizes, a baked goods auction, anniversary cake, a $1,000 scholarship award, and a fantastic banquet completed the day's activities.
Sharon Gold, President of the National Federation of the Blind of California, was recently appointed by Gwendolyn S. King, Commissioner of Social Security, to a 26-member panel of experts charged with conducting the Social Security Income Modernization Project. Its purpose, is to determine if the SSI program is meeting and will continue to meet the needs of the population it is intended to serve in an efficient and caring manner, recognizing the constraints in the current fiscal climate. The panel, whose meetings in Washington, D.C. and around the country are to be announced in the Federal Register, will consider recommendations proposed by group members and the general public. Sharon Gold's long experience in assisting blind SSI recipients equips her admirably for this important service. We congratulate her on this well-deserved honor and commend the Social Security Administration for what appears at the outset to be a serious intention to update and improve an important social program.
At our 1990 convention
a new recording of Christmas carols entitled Christmas With
You, which has been produced by a member of the National Federation
of the Blind, Vern Sullivan, was presented. This recording
(available on compact disc and on tape) is offered to chapters and affiliates
as a fundraiser. There are original Christmas carols composed
by Mr. Sullivan. There are also the old familiar favorites. Tapes
sell for $10. They may be purchased by chapters for $5. The chapter
retains $5 from each sale. Compact discs sell for $15. These
may be obtained for $7.50. The chapter retains $7.50. The recording
is being promoted for broadcast by FM and AM radio stations.
Fifty percent of the proceeds from air play rights will be given
to the Federation. To order these recordings contact: Sul-Mar
Music, 837 Highway 301 South, Smithfield, North Carolina
27577; (919) 934- 6507.
RESOLUTIONS ADOPTED BY THE ANNUAL CONVENTION OF THE NATIONAL FEDERATION OF THE BLIND
The policies of the National Federation of the Blind are established by resolutions adopted by the national convention. Each year the Resolutions Committee meets early during the convention in the presence of hundreds of Federationists, many of whom speak concerning the matters under consideration. Resolutions are discussed, revised, and ultimately withdrawn or recommended for passage or disapproval by the full convention. Here is a summary of the resolutions presented at the 1990 convention in Dallas, followed by the full text of the resolutions which were adopted. The Fiftieth annual convention of the National Federation of the Blind adopted twenty-two resolutions, and a twenty-third was voted down by the Resolutions Committee. Following is a brief summary of the twenty-two resolutions:
90-01: Addresses efforts to save the Kennelly Highway Vending Program.
Background: Several years ago at the urging of the National Federation of the Blind, Congresswoman Kennelly introduced legislation which established a highway vending program to give blind persons a preference in the operation of such highway facilities. The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) is currently tampering with the legal preference given to the blind.
Resolved: That the National Federation of the Blind take all possible steps to prevent the evisceration of the Kennelly Highway Vending Program.
90-02: Designates the blind as a minority for small business purposes.
Background: A Small Business Administration program offers business advantages to small contractors who are members of designated minorities. The Small Business Administration decides which groups qualify as minorities which will receive the special contractual advantages, but it has never identified the blind as such a protected minority. Resolved: That the National Federation of the Blind work with the Small Business Administration to have the blind designated as a minority for business contract purposes.
90-03: Urges National Federation of the Blind involvement with publishers of special education textbooks. Background: Frequently special education textbooks present inaccurate and damaging information about blindness and the blind. This harmful situation could be remedied if the National Federation of the Blind were able to work out an arrangement with publishers so that materials could be previewed and corrected before actual publication. Resolved: That the National Federation of the Blind work toward the establishment of a mechanism through which the blind could review and propose changes in future publications of special education books. 90-04: Commends Senator Hollings of South Carolina for his efforts to pass the Air Travel Rights for Blind Individuals Act. Background: The blind continue to experience discrimination in air travel. Senator Hollings has worked with the Federation for the passage of S. 341 to eliminate the problem. Resolved: That the National Federation of the Blind commend Senator Hollings for his outstanding work and that we reaffirm the commitment of this Federation to obtain a clear national policy against discrimination on ground of blindness in air travel. 90-05: Supports continuation of AMTRAK service and funding. Background: Legislation to eliminate federal funding for AMTRAK has been introduced.
Resolved: That the National Federation of the Blind work for continued funding of AMTRAK so that blind travelers can take advantage of rail service.
90-06: Calls for clear and accurate regulations issued under the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Background: In Resolution 89-01 the Federation took the position that it would support passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act only if it were amended to make certain that the blind would not be forced to accept unneeded and unwanted accommodations. The Federation was successful in securing such an amendment. As soon as President Bush signs the bill into law, federal agencies will begin to develop rules and regulations.
Resolved: That the National Federation of the Blind work with the various federal agencies to make certain that the proposed rules and regulations include clear language about the right of every individual to accept or reject any accommodation. 90-07: Urges direct sales companies to make their sales materials available to the blind.
Background: Many blind persons have chosen careers in the field of direct sales. Historically the companies have not provided sales materials in a form accessible to the blind. Resolved: That the National Federation of the Blind work with direct sales companies to encourage them to make training and sales materials available on cassette or in Braille. 90-08: Calls for a change in the Department of Labor's policy against compensation for attorneys' fees. Background: Blind employees who are being paid subminimum wages need legal representation when they are challenging the level of wages being paid. However, the Department of Labor has declared that compensation for legal expenses and attorneys' fees cannot be ordered on behalf of individuals who successfully pursue subminimum wage complaints. Resolved: That the National Federation of the Blind work with the Department of Labor and Congress for changes so that legal expenses and attorneys' fees in subminimum wage cases can be ordered. 90-09: Urges that improper state policies be altered in order to protect the IWRP rights of clients.
Background: Under the current Rehabilitation Act, each blind rehabilitation client is entitled to participation in the development of an Individualized Written Rehabilitation Program (IWRP), which sets forth the steps by which the client will achieve his or her vocational objective. Resolved: That the National Federation of the Blind work to make certain that clients' rehabilitation options are not taken away by state rules and policies.
90-10: Condemns the negative portrayal of the blind by NBC and its program, Empty Nest.
Background: In a February, 1990, episode of Empty Nest, NBC portrayed the blind in a negative and demeaning manner. Resolved: That the National Federation of the Blind urge NBC to eliminate this specific episode of Empty Nest from its library of materials.
90-11: Calls for protection of adequate funding for revenue forgone. Background: The Federation must be able to do its outreach and educational mailings under reduced postal rates. These reduced rates are funded by revenue forgone. A current proposal would significantly reduce this postal subsidy. Resolved: That the National Federation of the Blind work with the Congress to fund revenue forgone adequately to insure affordable postage rates for the NFB and similar organizations. 90-12: Recommends proposals for SSI modernization. Background: The Social Security Administration is planning to modernize the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program. The National Federation of the Blind has proposed several items for inclusion in the plan. Resolved: That the National Federation of the Blind urge all responsible officials and members of Congress to include the NFB proposals in the modernization. 90-13: Demands that dog guide schools stop asking applicants about their organizational affiliations.
Background: Some dog guide schools have begun to question the organizational affiliations of blind persons during the application process. This practice has the possibility of leading to discrimination based upon an applicant's organizational affiliation.
Resolved: That the National Federation of the Blind demand that dog guide schools eliminate questions about organizational affiliation from the application process. 90-14: Calls for privacy of information about dog guide school applicants. Background: Dog guide training schools have established a Council of Guide Dog Schools purportedly to develop standards of training. However, recent reports suggest that, through this new council, dog guide training schools have been sharing personal information about blind applicants without their permission.
Resolved: That the National Federation of the Blind demand that the Council develop a release of information form which must be signed by the applicant before personal information may be shared among schools. 90-15: Condemns and deplores the use of waiver-of-liability forms by instructors of cane travel. Background: An employee of the Texas Commission for the Blind recently demanded that a blind client sign a waiver of liability releasing the Texas Commission from responsibility if the client were injured either during orientation and mobility training or in independent travel upon the completion of training. Resolved: That the National Federation of the Blind condemn and deplore the use of liability waivers by orientation and mobility specialists. 90-16: Urges that the Department of Labor require sheltered workshops to develop affirmative action programs. Background: Under Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended, sheltered workshops for the blind are required to develop and implement meaningful affirmative action programs. However, nothing has been done.
Resolved: That the National Federation of the Blind insist that the Department of Labor take a get tough stand to make sheltered shops promote affirmative action for the blind. 90-17: Advocates choices in rehabilitation training paid for by Social Security.
Background: Many state agencies for the blind offer little or no training to help the newly blinded individual adjust to his or her blindness. Even so, under existing law, the newly blinded individual who is being rehabilitated with Social Security funds is frequently limited to services in the state where he or she resides, even when those services are inadequate or nonexistent. This situation places many Social Security beneficiaries at an extreme disadvantage.
Resolved: That the National Federation of the Blind work actively with the Social Security Administration and the Congress to establish the right of the blind client to choose where he or she will receive rehabilitation training.
90-18: Commends the United States Department of State. Background: In resolution 89-04, the National Federation of the Blind condemned the State Department because of its flagrant discrimination against blind applicants for foreign service positions. Because of Federation pressure, the State Department has changed its position and will consider the applications of qualified blind persons. Resolved: That the National Federation of the Blind commend the State Department for the nondiscriminatory position which it is now taking. 90-19: Urges funding for public transportation.
Background: Many blind persons use public transportation. A move has been made to decrease federal funding significantly for these services. Resolved: That the National Federation of the Blind urge continued federal support for public transportation programs.
90-20: Calls for the abolition of the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) marriage penalty.
Background: If two single blind SSI recipients decide to marry, their combined SSI benefits will be reduced substantially. Resolved: That the Federation urge an end to the SSI marriage penalty. 90-21: Commends Recording for the Blind for disassociating itself with the National Accreditation Council for Agencies Serving the Blind and Visually Handicapped. Background: Only the poorest agencies for the blind continue to seek NAC accreditation (or reaccreditation) in the hope that accreditation will cover up their inadequacies. In the past Recording for the Blind sought and received accreditation. However, it has announced that it will not seek reaccreditation when its current accreditation runs out.
Resolved: That the National Federation of the Blind commend Recording for the Blind for disassociating from NAC. 90-22: Calls for improvement in services to older blind Americans. Background: As a result of Federation efforts, programs for older blind persons have become a reality. However, these are not always as good as they should be sometimes because of inadequate funding. Resolved: That the National Federation of the Blind support an expansion of funding for services to older blind Americans along with the development of quality assurance criteria.
90-23: Was withdrawn by its author.
WHEREAS, the Kennelly Highway Vending Program (Section 111 of Public Law 97-424) provides employment opportunity for blind entrepreneurs and also provides a valuable non-tax source for blindness programs; and
WHEREAS, Congresswoman Barbara Kennelly worked willingly and enthusiastically with the National Federation of the Blind in securing this important legislation and the resulting opportunities; and
WHEREAS, the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) is a trade association comprised of State highway officials who are charged with the responsibility of establishing rest areas on Interstate highways; and
WHEREAS, AASHTO looks covetously at the Kennelly Highway Vending Program and the income it produces as a potential funding source for the completion of their charge; and
WHEREAS, AASHTO has developed a detailed proposal for its membership (see AASHTO report titled Report of Task Force on the Commercialization of Interstate Highway Rest Areas, dated October 19, 1989) wherein the Kennelly Highway Vending Program would be at worst nullified, and/or would be at least deleteriously curtailed; and
WHEREAS, AASHTO is willing to sacrifice the Kennelly Highway Vending Program and the blind people and programs it serves on the basis that rest areas can thereby be built with private, not public funds by commercializing these rest areas; and
WHEREAS, the Federal Highway Trust Fund has a current positive balance of more than 10.6 billion dollars; and
WHEREAS, the AASHTO report itself acknowledges that there is popular taxpayer support for the establishment of rest areas:
BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this sixth day of July, 1990, in the City of Dallas, Texas, that this organization, its officers, and members take every action necessary to prevent this attempted evisceration of the Kennelly Highway Vending Program.
WHEREAS, the Minority Small Business Capital Ownership and Development Section 8(a) Program is a federally funded program to assist socially and economically disadvantaged small business contractors into the mainstream of business through government contracting; and
WHEREAS, there is clear and convincing evidence that the blind of the nation are a minority group in the negative and destructive sense of the word, as evidenced by the fact that the blind face massive social and economic discrimination in the same way as do other specified minorities, and, even more damning, over seventy percent of all employable blind persons are either totally unemployed or severely under-employed because of this minority status; and
WHEREAS, the Section 8(a) Program has not been extended to include the blind as an identified and eligible minority in an affirmative effort to overcome both past and present discrimination; and
WHEREAS, the Small Business Administration has actually ruled that a small business owner's blindness does not establish minority status:
BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this sixth day of July, 1990, in the City of Dallas, Texas, that this organization urge the Small Business Administration and the Congress of the United States to include the blind as an identified and eligible minority with equal opportunity, equal protection, and equal participation under the Minority Small Business Capital Ownership and Development Section 8(a) Program.
WHEREAS, more than 16,000 people are graduated annually from special education programs conducted by hundreds of colleges and universities across this nation; and
WHEREAS, thousands of additional college students take introductory courses in special education; and
WHEREAS, the vastness of the nation's involvement in special education is demonstrated by an expenditure of more than 15 billion dollars each year; and
WHEREAS, hundreds of thousands of college textbooks are published which purport to introduce students to the various facets of special education; and
WHEREAS, many of these authors are not familiar with blindness and visual impairment, and as a predictable result introductory textbooks in special education generally contain misleading, inaccurate, and custodial statements about blindness and blind people, such as:
1. Braille is harder to learn and slower to read than print,
2. the slate and stylus are less practical than the Brailler because, when using them, it is necessary to make indentations in the paper,
3. blind students should be taught to use the continental method of holding silverware when eating because it is simpler and neater, and
4. blind people cannot use tools effectively and must be protected from themselves when using such items as knives; and
WHEREAS, such obviously untrue and custodial statements, which appear in several editions of textbooks, perpetuate myths and misunderstandings about blindness and make a powerfully negative impact on the lives of blind people; and
WHEREAS, one way to change what it means to be blind and to enhance the education and rehabilitation of the blind is to publish more accurate and favorable textbooks; and
WHEREAS, two sets of textbook authors and editors, using advice and literature from the National Federation of the Blind as a basis for change, have already improved such texts:
BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this sixth day of July, 1990, in the City of Dallas, Texas, that this organization initiate a nationwide project to eliminate inaccuracy and custodialism regarding the blind and visually impaired in special education literature, especially introductory textbooks.
WHEREAS, the United States Senate has considered the Air Travel Rights for Blind Individuals Act (S. 341 and H.R. 563) but has failed to invoke cloture by a vote of 56 yeas to 44 nays; and
WHEREAS, the vote on the cloture petition itself shows that a clear majority exists in the Senate to pass the Air Travel Rights for Blind Individuals Act, when considered strictly on its merits; and
WHEREAS, the Air Travel Rights for the Blind bill represents the struggle of the blind to be understood as competent and to gain social acceptance as equal members of society; and
WHEREAS, Senator Ernest F. Hollings of South Carolina has worked diligently in the Senate to steer this bill through his committee and has ably managed the bill on the floor; and
WHEREAS, Senator Hollings has shown meritorious political leadership in bringing the issue of discrimination against the blind to a national focus:
BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this sixth day of July, 1990, in the City of Dallas, Texas, that this Federation express official thanks and commendation to Senator Ernest F. Hollings for standing tall as a national leader on behalf of equal rights for all blind people; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that in praising Senator Hollings for his historic efforts on behalf of the blind, we reaffirm the commitment of this Federation to obtain a clear national policy against discrimination on grounds of blindness in air travel.
WHEREAS, public transportation is essential for blind persons to lead normal, active, productive lives; and
WHEREAS, AMTRAK is the nationwide passenger rail system; and
WHEREAS, Congress is reconsidering legislation authorizing and funding continued operation of AMTRAK, following a Presidential veto; and
WHEREAS, state and local involvement and support are important components of AMTRAK's service:
BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this sixth day of July, 1990, in the City of Dallas, Texas, that this organization and its affiliates call upon the Bush Administration, the United States Congress, and state and local authorities to support the continuation and expansion of AMTRAK service.
WHEREAS, several agencies of the Federal government are now preparing to implement the Americans with Disabilities Act, designed to expand significantly the civil rights of persons with disabilities, including the blind; and
WHEREAS, the Act requires that reasonable accommodations be made for the disabled in employment and that accommodations for the disabled also be made by agencies providing public services, hotels, restaurants, recreational facilities, and providers of public transportation; and
WHEREAS, accommodations even well-intentioned ones can become discriminatory when they limit individual exercise of the various forms of freedom that the law seeks to provide; and
WHEREAS, the right of each individual to accept or reject any accommodation is a fundamental civil rights principle for blind persons, and federal regulations and standards must now assure that this right is observed and enforced:
BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this sixth day of July, 1990, in the City of Dallas, Texas, that this organization demand that the right of any individual to accept or reject any accommodation be stated prominently and clearly in all regulations and standards developed to implement the Americans with Disabilities Act; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization consult with agencies and officials at all levels of government and in the private sector to assure that individual choice in accepting or rejecting any accommodation is clearly identified as one of the basic nondiscriminatory rights provided by the Americans with Disabilities Act.
WHEREAS, some blind persons have chosen careers in the field of direct sales; and
WHEREAS, many direct selling companies provide sales and training literature to their distributors; and
WHEREAS, blind persons have found it difficult, if not impossible, to obtain such literature on cassette or in Braille; and
WHEREAS, the literature that is available is often of no use to the blind direct-seller because it is out-of-date and inaccurate; and
WHEREAS, Braille and tape production facilities have sometimes refused to put literature in appropriate media for blind distributors, stating that it is too difficult or too tedious to transcribe; and
WHEREAS, the best solution to this dilemma is for direct-selling companies to make literature available to their blind distributors in media useful to them; and
WHEREAS, many direct-selling companies have shown very little interest in putting their literature into media accessible to the blind, citing a low demand for it, but at the same time, have shown more interest in accommodating other disability groups (e.g., closed-caption videos for the deaf and translating sales literature into foreign languages); and
WHEREAS, making sales and training literature available in Braille and on cassette would enable blind distributors to conduct their businesses more efficiently and would enhance recruitment opportunities for new blind distributors in the direct sales field:
BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this sixth day of July, 1990, in the City of Dallas, Texas, that this organization encourage direct-selling companies to make sales and training literature available in media accessible to the blind; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization, through the National Association to Promote the Use of Braille, stand ready to assist direct selling companies in finding the best arrangement for achieving this goal.
WHEREAS, workers being paid subminimum wages are entitled to challenge their employers' wage determinations through hearings to be provided under the Fair Labor Standards Act; and
WHEREAS, legal representation is essential for the proper presentation of cases in hearings on wage determinations; and
WHEREAS, the Department of Labor has stated that compensation for legal expenses and attorney fees cannot be ordered on behalf of individuals who successfully pursue subminimum wage complaints; and
WHEREAS, this position is insensitive to the need for legal representation of blind persons whose subminimum wages force them to live at the poverty level while challenging their well-financed sheltered workshop employers and their handsomely-paid attorneys; and
WHEREAS, the Department of Labor's position against attorney fees in subminimum wage cases is contrary to the policy of the Fair Labor Standards Act:
BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this sixth day of July, 1990, in the City of Dallas, Texas, that this organization deplore the policy of withholding compensation for legal and attorney fees in subminimum wage complaints filed under the Fair Labor Standards Act; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this Federation enlist the cooperation of the Department of Labor and the Congress, if necessary, to obtain changes in the regulations (or the law) so that legal expenses and attorney fees in subminimum wage cases can be ordered.
WHEREAS, individualized planning to meet the needs of each client is a cornerstone of the Rehabilitation Act and an obligation of each state vocational rehabilitation agency; and
WHEREAS, the promise of an Individualized Written Rehabilitation Program for each eligible blind person is substantially undermined by state agency policies which apply to all clients in virtually all cases, regardless of circumstances; and
WHEREAS, examples of agency policies which violate the individualized planning principle include, but are not limited to, the following:
(1) inflexible ceilings on funds for reader service,
(2) prohibitions on using readers for educationally-related research and study activities outside of specific course work,
(3) refusal to pay for even a portion of the costs of higher education services from private institutions,
(4) refusal to pay for services obtained beyond state boundaries in all but exceptional circumstances,
(5) prescribed evaluation procedures and training programs for almost all clients regardless of individual need, ability, or expressed preference,
(6) refusal to pay for graduate education, and
(7) refusal to establish eligibility and pay for costs of study and equipment for career enhancement and promotion; and
WHEREAS, the erosion of individualized planning for clients of rehabilitation should be reversed by statutory and policy changes to be considered when the Vocational Rehabilitation Program is reauthorized:
BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this sixth day of July, 1990, in the City of Dallas, Texas, that this organization demand that the right of each client to an Individualized Written Rehabilitation Program be upheld and strengthened as a matter of law and federal policy; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization call upon responsible federal policy-makers and the Congress to assure that policies of state vocational rehabilitation agencies do not obstruct individualized planning in the provision of rehabilitation services to the blind.
WHEREAS, it is the mark of a responsible media corporation that it refrains from perpetuating negative stereotypes which denigrate any identifiable group within society, including the blind; and
WHEREAS, on Saturday, February 24, 1990, the National Broadcasting Company, Incorporated (NBC), aired on television an episode of the comedy series Empty Nest which fostered demeaning attitudes about blindness by giving the viewing public the impression that blind people are insecure and dependent; and
WHEREAS, the characters in the episode treated the blind man as though he were helpless and stupid, which was intended to elicit laughter from the studio audience directed at the blind; and
WHEREAS, such ridicule of blind persons has long-term negative consequences including prejudice and discrimination against the blind in employment opportunities and denial of first-class citizenship to the blind; and
WHEREAS, further damage to the blind through redissemination of this offensive portrayal of the blind can be prevented by elimination of the February 24, 1990, episode of Empty Nest from the library of material available for any type of redistribution; and
WHEREAS, on the same evening as the broadcast of the offensive Empty Nest episode, another NBC program called Golden Girls also referred to a blind person in a degrading fashion, demonstrating once again what the blind have long known that NBC has a low corporate opinion of the abilities and achievements of blind persons:
BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this fifth day of July, 1990, in the City of Dallas, Texas, that this organization demand that the National Broadcasting Company, Incorporated (NBC) eliminate the February 24, 1990, episode of Empty Nest from its library of materials; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization call upon Brandon Tartikoff, President of the National Broadcasting Company, to take the initiative to work in partnership with the National Federation of the Blind to create standards for handling blind characters and references to the blind so that an accurate image is conveyed when NBC produces or selects television programs which portray blind persons.
WHEREAS, stable and affordable postage rates are essential to provide outreach and public information programs on behalf of all blind persons in the United States; and
WHEREAS, such efforts are supported in part through federally subsidized postage rates under an annual appropriation of funds to the United States Postal Service for revenues forgone on free and reduced-rate mailings; and
WHEREAS, the Postal Service has announced plans for rate increases which could amount to a 33 percent higher postage cost for the National Federation of the Blind beginning in February, 1991; and
WHEREAS, the President's budget request for $485 million for fiscal year 1991 will not provide sufficient funds for revenue forgone, and the resulting postal rate increases for the National Federation of the Blind would then be much greater than 33 percent; and
WHEREAS, it is false economy to force groups such as the National Federation of the Blind to absorb substantially higher postage costs since support for direct services must drop as the postage bills climb; and
WHEREAS, the tax-supported subsidy of certain postage rates makes possible many essential services provided by private sector groups, thereby decreasing the general tax burden for providing the same services by government agencies:
BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this sixth day of July, 1990, in the City of Dallas, Texas, that this organization urge the Congress to reject the President's budget for revenue forgone and act decisively to support stable and affordable postal rates directly affected by the revenue forgone appropriation.
WHEREAS, Gwendolyn S. King, Commissioner of Social Security, has appointed a panel of 26 experts to review the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) Program and to develop proposals for its modernization; and
WHEREAS, based on policies adopted by this organization, the National Federation of the Blind has submitted an agenda of modernization proposals, including:
(1) adjustment of income and resource limits to reflect inflationary changes since 1974, (2) annual adjustment of income and resource limits indexed to cost-of-living increases, (3) prompt approval of plans to achieve self-support, (4) outreach activities to explain SSI blindness rules, (5) flexibility for recipients in the choice of obtaining rehabilitation services, (6) limit of time on the Social Security Administration for recovery of overpayments, and (7) work incentive counseling to be available upon request; and
WHEREAS, these proposals raise serious policy and administrative issues that must be faced in any meaningful attempt to modernize the SSI Program:
BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this sixth day of July, 1990, in the City of Dallas, Texas, that this Federation salute the Social Security Commissioner and her staff for initiating an SSI modernization; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that we urge all responsible officials and members of Congress to endorse the proposals submitted by the National Federation of the Blind in order that needed improvements can be made.
WHEREAS, there are established and recognized residential training schools throughout the United States which train dog guides for use by the blind; and
WHEREAS, a growing number of these schools now include in their application process questions intended to elicit information about the applicant's affiliation with consumer organizations of the blind; and
WHEREAS, some of the dog guide training schools ask a question concerning organizational affiliation both on the application form and during the oral interview, and at least one school has extended this question to third parties by including a question about the organizational affiliation of the applicant on the character reference questionnaire, which must be completed by a third party for the application to be fully processed; and
WHEREAS, since the sole purpose of a dog guide training school is to train the dog guide and the blind person to function as a unit, the only possible purpose for attaining the information concerning organizational affiliation is to prejudice the student/staff relationship; and
WHEREAS, a blind person's organizational affiliation has no bearing on his or her performance while in training with the dog guide or the ability successfully to use the dog guide following training; and
WHEREAS, the right of association is protected by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, and the eliciting of information about the organizational affiliation of a student violates the precepts of the Constitution and statutory law:
BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this sixth day of July, 1990, in the City of Dallas, Texas, that this organization abhor the inclusion of any question by dog guide schools that elicits from the applicant any information about the organizational affiliation of the applicant; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization demand that each and every dog guide training school review its application process and eliminate any and all questions which may elicit any information from the applicant about his or her affiliation with any organization, especially consumer organizations of the blind.
WHEREAS, dog guide training schools in the United States recently formed the Council of Guide Dog Schools; and
WHEREAS, the establishment of this Council is alleged to have been for the purpose of developing standards for the training of dog guides; and
WHEREAS, although there may be an intent to develop standards for training dog guides, it is reported that dog guide schools are using this Council to share personal information about applicants who may wish to apply to a different school when seeking a replacement dog; and
WHEREAS, this sharing of information extends to those applicants who, for whatever reason, have been unsuccessful in the completion of the training program in one school and thus wish to enroll in another; and
WHEREAS, such an exchange of personal information may be helpful in the training of persons with dog guides; and
WHEREAS, although this exchange of information may be helpful, such information may also prejudice the dog guide training school against the blind person; and
WHEREAS, this personal information is currently being shared without the knowledge or consent of applicants an action by the Council of Guide Dog Training Schools and its member schools which flies in the face of all decency; and
WHEREAS, in almost every instance, the contents of the file maintained by the school are unknown to the applicant and unavailable for review and inclusion of rebuttal to negative evaluations:
BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this sixth day of July, 1990, in the City of Dallas, Texas, that this organization demand that the Council of Guide Dog Schools develop an appropriate Request and Authorization for Release of Information form specific to the sharing of information between dog guide training schools; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Request and Authorization for Release of Information form be signed by the student/applicant prior to the interschool sharing of any personal information from the student's file; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization call upon each school to make progress and training files available for review by individual students during the training period and by each graduate; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that each blind person be afforded the opportunity to place in his or her file any letter of rebuttal he or she considers appropriate to refute information contained in that file.
WHEREAS, the primary means of independent travel for the blind is through the use of the long white cane; and
WHEREAS, some blind persons who want to learn cane travel are told by orientation and mobility specialists or by other vocational rehabilitation workers that they are unsafe travelers, even after these persons have demonstrated their ability to travel; and
WHEREAS, recently, in the State of Texas a blind woman demanding proper cane travel instruction was told that she and her husband must sign a waiver of liability, releasing the Texas Commission for the Blind and the orientation and mobility instructor from any possible damage suits which might result from an accident or injury to her, both during training and after its completion; and
WHEREAS, the National Federation of the Blind operates orientation and adjustment centers which have proven that many, if not all, blind persons can learn to travel safely and independently, when taught by a competent instructor who believes in the capabilities of blind persons, thereby diminishing the concern for liability; and
WHEREAS, liability waivers are just one more hurdle that blind clients must cross in order to obtain quality orientation and mobility training; and
WHEREAS, travel training provided by many state vocational rehabilitation agencies is inefficient and inadequate and is taught by incompetent instructors exhibiting negative attitudes about blindness and blind people:
BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this sixth day of July, 1990, in the City of Dallas, Texas, that this organization deplore and condemn the use of liability waivers by orientation and mobility instructors and state rehabilitation agencies; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization insist that such vocational rehabilitation agencies employ competent orientation and mobility instructors, who possess a positive philosophy about blindness; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that if the practice by rehabilitation agencies of requiring clients to sign liability waivers continues, this organization shall work with state legislatures to pass laws prohibiting the use of such documents.
WHEREAS, all sheltered workshops in the Javits-Wagner-O'Day Program are federal contractors or subcontractors and thereby subject to Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973; and
WHEREAS, Section 503 requires federal contractors to take affirmative action to employ and advance in employment qualified handicapped individuals; and
WHEREAS, this affirmative action mandate has existed for almost two decades, but hiring practices of workshops still have not changed blind persons are hired for direct labor, and sighted persons are hired for management and supervisory positions; and
WHEREAS, promotion of blind people into management or supervision receives little more than lip-service from the workshops; and
WHEREAS, by historically failing to enforce the affirmative action obligation in workshops, the Department of Labor has turned its back on blind workers, relegating them to subminimum wages and dead-end jobs:
BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this sixth day of July, 1990, in the City of Dallas, Texas, that this organization insist upon a get-tough stand by the Department of Labor to promote affirmative action in sheltered workshops so that meaningful progress can be made toward ending the pay inequities and job discrimination against the blind in sheltered workshops.
WHEREAS, the Social Security Administration has expressed an increasingly strong interest in promoting work incentives in the Disability Insurance and Supplemental Security Income Programs; and
WHEREAS, effective adjustment-to-blindness services are essential to give blind persons the skills and attitudes necessary to achieve self-support; and
WHEREAS, the Social Security Administration is required by law to provide funds for successful rehabilitation efforts but can do so only if the services are obtained from a state vocational rehabilitation agency; and
WHEREAS, this limitation restricts both the Social Security Administration and its beneficiaries from obtaining the best services possible, whether from a state agency or otherwise; and
WHEREAS, alternative referral and funding arrangements could improve access to quality services for beneficiaries and would be cost effective:
BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this sixth day of July, 1990, in the City of Dallas, Texas, that this organization affirm its strong support for choices in rehabilitation; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization work actively with the Social Security Administration and the Congress to enact legislative changes to improve access to rehabilitation and productive employment opportunities for the blind.
WHEREAS, in Resolution 89-04, the National Federation of the Blind condemned and deplored the State Department's refusal to work constructively with the blind to develop an affirmative action program and actively to recruit blind persons for positions in the Foreign Service; and
WHEREAS, State Department officials have since advised the Congress, the media, and the National Federation of the Blind that the policy of denying Foreign Service appointments to blind persons has been rescinded and positive steps will be taken to recruit the blind into the Foreign Service; and
WHEREAS, the State Department's announced new policy is a complete retraction of its former stand, which must now be matched by the actual hiring of blind persons and their assignment to posts in foreign lands:
BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this sixth day of July, 1990, in the City of Dallas, Texas, that this organization acknowledge the progress represented by the State Department's new policy on employment of the blind; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that in the spirit of cooperation and goodwill for the State Department's new-found understanding we invite officials of the Foreign Service to work with this Federation in their efforts to recruit and employ qualified persons who are blind.
WHEREAS, the National Federation of the Blind has time after time supported a strong public transportation system; and
WHEREAS, the National Administration is suggesting that Federal support for public transportation be reduced or eliminated and that state and local government take up the Federal portion of the cost; and
WHEREAS, many state and local governments do not have a commitment to public transportation:
BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this sixth day of July, 1990, in the City of Dallas, Texas, that this organization go on record as urging the continued support by the Federal government of public transportation; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the non-driving public, of which the blind are a segment, has a right to move from point to point in this country with ease and reasonable cost.
WHEREAS, individuals, including blind individuals who are married or unmarried, have certain basic minimum economic needs; and
WHEREAS, the purpose of the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) Program is to meet these needs by providing a standard federal payment amount with states having the option to supplement this amount; and
WHEREAS, both members of an SSI couple are by law each eligible for benefits as individuals in their own right; and
WHEREAS, two single individuals living alone have a combined presumed minimum need of $772 ($386 each), but two married individuals in an SSI couple are presumed to need only $579; and
WHEREAS, this difference in treatment between individuals and couples under SSI is a marriage penalty for which there is no rational or economic justification:
BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this sixth day of July, 1990, in the City of Dallas, Texas, that this organization support an end to the marriage penalty in the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) Program and urge the United States Congress to recognize that all individuals have the same presumed minimum need, regardless of their marital status.
WHEREAS, Recording for the Blind (RFB) has had a long-time relationship with the National Accreditation Council for Agencies Serving the Blind and Visually Handicapped (NAC); and
WHEREAS, John Kelly, Director of Library and Borrower Services of Recording for the Blind, attended the Annual Convention of the National Federation of the Blind during which he disclosed to NFB officials that Recording for the Blind has decided to sever its relationship with NAC and not seek reaccreditation upon the conclusion of its current period of accreditation:
BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this sixth day of July, 1990, in the City of Dallas, Texas, that this organization commend Recording for the Blind for making the decision not to reaccredit with the National Accreditation Council for Agencies Serving the Blind and Visually Handicapped.
WHEREAS, the Independent Living Rehabilitation Program was established in order to provide services to those individuals who by reason of age or other circumstances are not eligible for vocational rehabilitation services; and
WHEREAS, the National Federation of the Blind developed and presented to Congress the original legislative proposals which resulted in a special program of grants for services to older blind persons; and
WHEREAS, state administrators of services for the blind have claimed that improved services to older blind persons will result from placing the older blind program on a formula grant basis and substantially increasing the available funding; and
WHEREAS, services to older blind individuals should be expanded but not merely through the wider distribution of increased funds; and
WHEREAS, older blind persons deserve quality services; and
WHEREAS, the National Federation of the Blind is prepared to support increased funding for older blind services available by formula grant to every state, provided that the agencies are willing to establish and adhere to quality-assurance criteria to be developed in partnership with the blind:
BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this sixth day of July, 1990, in the City of Dallas, Texas, that this organization support an expansion of funding for services to older blind Americans along with the development of quality-assurance criteria; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization invite the representatives of agencies serving the blind to join with us in a combined effort to create the standards by which quality services to this important population will be assured and expanded.
THE NATIONAL FEDERATION OF THE BLIND
AS AMENDED 1986
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 the 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.
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.
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 from each state affiliate represented at the Convention, and each state affiliate shall appoint its member to the committee. From among the members of the committee, the President shall appoint a chairperson.
Section 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 5019(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.