THE BRAILLE MONITOR

APRIL, 1979

VOICE OF THE NATIONAL FEDERATION OF THE BLIND

THE BRAILLE MONITOR

PUBLISHED MONTHLY IN INKPRINT, BRAILLE, AND ON TALKING-BOOK DISCS BY THE NATIONAL FEDERATION OF THE BLIND

KENNETH JERNIGAN, President

NATIONAL OFFICE
1800 JOHNSON STREET
BALTIMORE, MARYLAND 21230
(301) 659-9314

WASHINGTON OFFICE
1346 CONNECTICUT AVENUE, NW., SUITE 212
WASHINGTON, D.C. 20036
(202) 785-2974

LETTERS FOR THE PRESIDENT, ADDRESS CHANGES, SUBSCRIPTION REQUESTS, AND ORDERS FOR NFB LITERATURE SHOULD BE SENT TO THE NATIONAL OFFICE.

ARTICLES FOR THE MONITOR AND LETTERS TO THE EDITOR SHOULD BE SENT TO THE WASHINGTON OFFICE.

DONALD McCONNELL, Editor

MONITOR SUBSCRIPTIONS COST THE FEDERATION ABOUT FIFTEEN DOLLARS PER YEAR. MEMBERS ARE INVITED, AND NON-MEMBERS ARE REQUESTED, TO COVER THE SUBSCRIPTION COST. DUE TO ITS HIGH COST, BRAILLE IS AVAILABLE ONLY TO THE DEAF-BLIND AND THOSE WITH A SIMILARLY COMPELLING NEED FOR THAT MEDIUM. DONATIONS AND SUBSCRIPTION PAYMENTS SHOULD BE MADE PAYABLE TO NATIONAL FEDERATION OF THE BLIND AND SENT TO:

RICHARD EDLUND, Treasurer
NATIONAL FEDERATION OF THE BLIND
BOX 11185
KANSAS CITY, KANSAS 66111

If you or a friend would like to remember the National Federation of the Blind in your will, you can do so by employing the following language:

"I give, devise, and bequeath unto National Federation of the Blind, a District of Columbia nonprofit corporation, the sum of $_____ (or "_____ percent of my net estate" or "the following stocks and bonds:_____") to be used for its worthy purposes on behalf of blind persons."

If your wishes are more complex, you may have your attorney communicate with the National Office for other suggested forms.

THE NATIONAL FEDERATION OF THE BLIND IS NOT AN ORGANIZATION SPEAKING FOR THE BLIND—IT IS THE BLIND SPEAKING FOR THEMSELVES.

THE BRAILLE MONITOR

PUBLICATION OF THE NATIONAL FEDERATION OF THE BLIND

APRIL 1979

TABLE OF CONTENTS

MIAMI BEACH CONVENTION BULLETIN
BY BETH BOWEN

THE U.S. COURT OF APEALS RULES AGAINST THE CLEVELAND SOCIETY FOR THE BLIND A SECOND TIME

WORKERS AT THE HOUSTON LIGHTHOUSE VOTE ON A UNION BUT VICTORY IS POSTPONED BY MANAGEMENT DELAYING TACTICS
BY GLENN M. CROSBY

THE NATIONAL FEDERATION OF THE BLIND OF MAINE FIGHTS FOR THE RIGHT TO SECRET BALLOTS

N.I.B. AND SHELTERED WORKSHOPS: ANYTHING BUT REFORM

"AND A LITTLE CHILD SHALL LEAD THEM": THE LATEST EFFORTS OF THE AMERICAN FOUNDATION FOR THE BLIND

THE KOWALSKI CASE: THE UNIVERSITY OF KANSAS LAW SCHOOL LEARNS THE MEANING OF SECTION 504

THE LATEST RANKINGS IN THE ASSOCIATES CONTEST

STATE CONVENTION REPORTS: NEW HAMPSHIRE, MASSACHUSETTS, MICHIGAN, OHIO, AND ALASKA

ON THE ROAD TO SENEGAL: THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE INTERNATIONAL FEDERATION OF THE BLIND

RECIPE OF THE MONTH
BY MARC MAURER

MONITOR MINIATURES

THE DEADLINE FOR ARTICLES TO APPEAR IN THE JUNE ISSUE IS APRIL 10th.

Copyright, National Federation of the Blind, Inc., 1979

MIAMI BEACH CONVENTION BULLETIN

by BETH BOWEN

Have you ever dreamed of standing on a beach in the early morning with the surf washing around your feet, the breezes whispering in the palm trees, and the sea gulls calling to you from their morning swim? Have you ever thought of building sand castles, collecting seashells from a never-ending supply, or just lying in the sun on a long and lazy afternoon? Imagine yourself standing on the deck of a ship, the warm salt air caressing you, the moon casting eerie patterns on the water below, and the waves washing against the side of the ship. Suddenly you know, as thousands who stood there before you must have known, the peace and security that come with the absolute assurance of eternity.

If you have ever had these dreams, then they are about to come true; that is, they will if you have registered for the 1979 NFB Convention in Miami Beach, July 1 through 6. We have rooms in six hotels, all within easy walking distance and most facing the ocean with the famous Collins Avenue on the opposite side.

Your Florida affiliate is planning to do everything possible to make this NFB Convention the largest and best ever, and your vacation in our state the most memorable you've ever had. To enjoy some of the dozens of attractions our state has to offer, plan to come early and stay late. Whatever your interest may be, from living your wildest fantasies at Disney Worl to deep sea fishing off Key West, from the NASA installation at Cape Kennedy to Saint Augustine, the oldest city in the United States, you can find it right here in Florida.

For your convenience, we have arranged a couple of post-convention tours: (1) A four- to five-day cruise in the Caribbean; (2) A 3-day, 2-night trip to Disney World for as little as $59 double occupancy, all inclusive (except meals); children 12 and under, $30. For further information on either of these tours, contact Diana Bailey, Red Bird Travel Center, 5800 Bird Road, Miami, Florida 33155; telephone (305) 661-1516.

You will not want to miss our uniquely different Wednesday afternoon and evening tour. You will be transported from the hotels to the Bahia Mar Yacht Basin in Fort Lauderdale where, promptly at seven p.m., you will board the beautiful Jungle Queen. The boat sails up the New River with a pleasant and humorous commentary by the captain about the many interesting sights and people on the river. Upon reaching the Jungle Queen's exotic island, you will leave the boat and be directed to the uniquely different dining room where a delicious dinner of ribs, chicken, and shrimp with all the trimmings will be served. For hearty appetites, this is all you wish to eat. Following a hilarious and acclaimed vaudeville revue, you will once again board the Jungle Queen for your return moonlight cruise to Bahia Mar.

We don't mean to brag, but we can't think of a better convention to attend, or a better place to hold it, and we hope to see you in Miami Beach.

(Note: We would be amiss if we did not issue the following warnings: Coming to Florida can sometimes affect people in strange ways. We have known of people who come "just for a vacation" and can never quite bring themselves to return home. Even if you do resist the temptation to stay, don't be surprised if, one cold and dreary day, maybe while you are trudging home in the snow, quite suddenly you feel the warm sun on your face, the howling wind becomes a faint whisper through the palm trees, and from far away the call of the sea gull beckons you back to Florida.)

The time is getting mighty short for you to get in your reservations, and if you come without a reservation, your chances of getting a place to stay anywhere near the convention are slim. Unless you plan to sleep on the beach (and the police may have something to say about that), follow these steps to reserve a bed or beds:

(1) Send a reservation request to this address: Deauville Hotel, Ocean at 67th Street, Miami Beach, Florida 33141. Note in the request that you will be attending the convention of the National Federation of the Blind.

(2) Enclose a check or money order made payable to the Deauville Hotel for $20. This is a must. This $20 will be applied to your hotel bill; but if you cancel your reservation, the $20 will not be refunded.

(3) State the day you will be arriving and the day you will be leaving. The convention is from July 1 to 6, but the special convention rates will be available between Wednesday, June 27, and Sunday, July 8.

(4) State what kind of room you want—whether a single, double, triple, or quad.

(5) If you prefer a certain hotel, state which one, but also put down second and third choices. We cannot guarantee you will get your choice, particularly as reservations pour in and the hotels fill up.

Here are the six hotels we will be using and the rates in each. (In last month's Monitor, we mistakenly listed only five of the hotels.) The Deauville-singles are $15, doubles are $20. At the Carillon, singles are $18, and doubles are $22. At the Monte Carlo Hotel, both singles and doubles are $20. At the Sterling Hotel also, both singles and doubles are $20. At the Rowe Hotel, singles are $14, and doubles are $16. And at the Golden Sands, singles are $15, and doubles are $16. At all six of the hotels, triples are $5 more than doubles, and quads are $10 more than doubles.

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THE U.S. COURT OF APPEALS RULES AGAINST THE CLEVELAND SOCIETY FOR THE BLIND A SECOND TIME

The February Monitor reported a victory in one of the Federation's longest-running lawsuits. In 1971, 39 vendors employed by the Cleveland Society for the Blind charged that the Society had illegally withheld more than $1 million that should have come to them. The vendors also charged that the Society had violated their civil rights by requiring them-as a condition of employment—to sign a contract controlling the smallest details of their everyday lives.

The Society has been a veritable sacred cow in Cleveland. No one would wish to imply that this had anything to do with the delay, but it was not until 1975 that the federal court in Cleveland got around to ruling on the vendors' plea for justice—and even then, the ruling was scant comfort. It was that the federal courts had no jurisdiction. If not, one wonders where the blind could turn.

The Federation, which had undertaken the financing of the original litigation, appealed this unjust decision. In the meantime, Congress (reacting to situations like the one in Cleveland) had passed the 1974 Amendments to the Randolph-Sheppard Act, guaranteeing vendors a full evidentiary hearing at the agency level and—failing satisfactory resolution of their grievances there—an arbitration convened by the Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare. Most important to this case, the amendments guaranteed the right to sue for relief in federal court if the vendors still believed themselves wronged.

Using these amendments, the U.S. Court of Appeals overturned the lower court's dismissal of the vendors' suit. The appeals court stated that the vendors must go through the proceedings at the agency and HEW level, but then they could move right into court if they wished to do so. And while the hearing and arbitration were going on, the lower court was ordered to retain jurisdiction—to stand by to keep the case before it. There could be no more waffling about whether the vendors had a right to sue.

What could be fairer? Or more to the point, why would the Cleveland Society object to a decision that meant only that the vendors would get their day in court? Yet object they did. In their desperation to sweep the whole matter under the rug (and the depositions printed in the February Monitor will give some idea of the enormity of the mess they hoped to hide under that rug), the Society had its lawyers protest the appeals court ruling.

They petitioned for a rehearing on a whole host of grounds-all of them having to do with picayune technicalities. For instance, they claimed that some of the vendors were no longer vendors. Then they claimed that the vendors must sue individually, not as a group. They argued that the vendors should never have sued in the first place, but instead sought administrative relief, despite the fact that there were no arbitration rules in 1971 and the procedures for administrative relief that did exist were so vague as to be virtually nonexistent and useless.

Finally, the Society protested the part of the decision ordering the lower court to retain jurisdiction during the hearing and arbitration process. Now, realize that the Society has already delayed the lawsuit for eight years on the question of jurisdiction. It will take another year or two for the administrative reviews, after which the Society must hope to bring up the jurisdictional question all over again and delay another eight years.

Apparently the court of appeals was less than pleased with this maneuvering and evasion. Its second order was sterner than the first. (Under the circumstances, it is doubtful that the Cleveland Society for the Blind will ask for a third rehearing.) The court rejected all of the Society's contentions and affirmed its decision in our favor. So unless the Society takes their twice-denied claims to the U.S. Supreme Court (and since they stand to lose $1 million, they may do so), the vendors will yet have their day in court.

The astonishing part of all this is that, due to the Society's legal delays and shenanigans, the merits of the vendors' case and the actual evidence of misdeeds by the Society have never been discussed in court.

We still have a long way to go-an evidentiary hearing, an HEW arbitration, and then the trial in federal court. But this will come. We have the determination; and if we have the financial resources, we will stick with this case until the 39 vendors gain the money that is rightfully theirs and establish their civil rights as citizens. We mention the question of resources because the tactics being used by the Cleveland Society are well-known in the legal profession. If you feel you will lose your case when it is brought to trial, and if you know your opponent has a limited supply of money, the best defense is to delay and delay and delay-bringing up technical point after technical point in the hope that your opponent will run out of money and be forced to drop the suit. In that case you win by default. Of course, to carry out this tactic, you have to have plenty of money yourself. But the Cleveland Society runs a sheltered workshop. It also receives public contributions, and then there is the vending stand program. It's hard to know where the thousands of dollars being used by the Society to avoid having our suit come to court are coming from. Wherever the funds are coming from, it is safe to say that those who provided them-whether the blind or public contributors-little thought that their money would be used to fight the blind and avoid accountability.

This case is yet another answer to the question, "Why the National Federation of the Blind?" This is not just a case to determine the rights or get the back pay of 39 vendors. It is a case involving all of us who are blind. It is a warning to those who would ride roughshod over what they regard as the "helpless blind," and it is a beacon of hope for those who seek independence and first-class citizenship. Sometimes the road is long and the delays and the defeats discouraging, but we do not quit and we never give up. A decade ago it took several long years in the Weckerly case, but we prevailed. Likewise, even though the road stretches painfully ahead we will prevail in the Cleveland Society case. This is what the organized blind movement is all about. This is a reaffirmation of why the National Federation of the Blind.  

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WORKERS AT THE HOUSTON LIGHTHOUSE VOTE ON A UNION BUT VICTORY IS POSTPONED BY MANAGEMENT DELAYING TACTICS

by GLENN M. CROSBY

Note: Glenn Crosby is the president of the National Federation of the Blind of Texas.

Although it is yet unofficial, 7:00 to 10:00 a.m., Friday, January 5, 1979, may have been the three most important hours in the working careers of Lighthouse employees in Houston. The blind men and women employed in the industrial division of the Houston Lighthouse for the Blind cast off the chains of paternalistic, custodial oppression controlled by the Texas Commission for the Blind and the Lighthouse management. They stepped into the 20th century and seized the opportunity of having some say in determining their own destiny. They exercised for the first time a freedom recently gained by the blind (a freedom which most Americans take for granted) of collective bargaining by democratically choosing through the secret ballot process to join with the International Brotherhood of Teamsters.

The National Federation of the Blind is proud to have taken an active part from the very outset in this effort and is even prouder of this decisive victory. All of this happened even though everyone from the federal government on down "loves" and "takes care of" the blind. What is all the commotion about?

This election is the result of many ingredients fusing together to signal change. It is the accomplishment of a long and hard-fought struggle waged by the members of the National Federation of the Blind for the right of the blind of this nation to bargain collectively. It is also the culmination of a frenzy of activity conducted in recent months by a few courageous employees of the industrial division of the Houston Lighthouse for the Blind who happen to be Federationists and who worked to inform their fellow workers of the protection available to them in a collective bargaining unit and to urge them to sign pledge cards. It too is the result of the concern and caring for their fellow beings of the men and women who make up the International Brotherhood of Teamsters. It is also an expression of dissatisfaction with the custodial abuse of blind people by the blindness establishment-the federal government, the state commission for the blind, and the Lighthouse management. It is also tangible evidence of the deep-rooted desire of blind persons to have the same rights as their sighted neighbors, to have reasonable job security with fringe benefits and to earn a living wage in exchange for their labors. How did it all happen?

Last spring, the National Federation of the Blind won from the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), after many years of relentless effort, setbacks, and disappointments, a ruling which affirmed the right of collective bargaining for blind employees of sheltered shops. When a few Federationists working at the Houston Lighthouse learned of this good news at the 1978 NFB Convention, they returned home determined to take full advantage of their newly gained freedom. They sought and got help from the local group of Teamsters, began talking organizing to their colleagues, and began signing pledge cards. A request for an election was filed in early October. A hearing on the issue was set by the NLRB on November 1. Later, the election was granted. Everyone but management was overjoyed. One might find the answer to the question of why in a number of explanations.

The federal government has for years denied the right of collective bargaining to blind workers and has permitted them to be paid less than minimum wage in spite of the laws which protect most other workers. It has done this under the theory that they are being "rehabilitated" or are in "training." The Department of Health, Education, and Welfare provides federal dollars to the state commission for the blind for the purpose of rehabilitating blind Texans. The commission, however, customarily places its blind clients in jobs in lighthouses for the blind (87 blind persons were put in lighthouses during 1977). The commission, whose board chairman just happens to be a partner in the legal firm retained by the Houston Lighthouse to defeat the workers' organizing efforts, is required each year to check with blind lighthouse personnel to find out who would like to seek employment outside the lighthouse, and it is required to filed appropriate forms with the Department of HEW. But the commission is not required to actively search for such outside employement.

The Houston Lighthouse hires sighted job applicants directly. However, during the NLRB hearing, Lighthouse management admitted that blind applicants are first sent to the commission to be referred back to the Lighthouse for employment. The management claims that blind workers in the industrial division are "trainees" and treats them as such, but it is reluctant to admit that some of these folks have been "training" for 20 years and more. Allot this, of course, is cloaked in the phrase "taking care of the blind."

When management was notified that the workers wanted an election, its initial response was surprise. Since management "loves" its blind workers and looks after their interests and protects their rights, there was no need for an election. One unofficial view circulated was that all workers of the Lighthouse constitute a big, happy family, which did not need a collective-bargaining unit. One person replied that the family concept held true as long as management was permitted to play the role of daddy. Another unofficial view circulated was that collective bargaining could not be beneficial in any way to the blind workers. At the same time, though, management retained very expensive, high-powered legal counsel to defeat the efforts of the workers. There have been numerous other unofficial views circulated. Through it all, the blind workers held fast and remained undaunted. They knew victory was at hand.

One observer summed it up this way: "For years, managers of sheltered shops for the blind have sought and received exemptions from the payment of minimum wage to blind employees by claiming that the blind are incapable and unproductive and that they are clients rather than employees. The National Federation of the Blind has long challenged this false premise. With the selection of the Teamsters as their bargaining agent, the employees of the industrial division of the Houston Lighthouse for the Blind have carried this challenge one step further by standing up for both their right to collective bargaining and their right to what the government says is a minimum wage to maintain an acceptable standard of living. The National Federation of the Blind is elated by the resounding victory in favor of collective-bargaining rights long enjoyed by other groups and now enjoyed by the blind as well. This is a great day for the blind of this city and the nation, in that it means that the days of subminimum wages, deplorable working conditions, and demeaning treatment by supervisory personnel are rapidly coming to a close."

With all the "love" and "taking care of heaped upon the blind, the results of the election are still unknown. The reason is that management has appealed the decision ordering an election to the NLRB central office in Washington, B.C. This appeal is nothing more than an expensive and time-consuming tactic to stall off the inevitable. Officials of the NLRB took custody of the ballot box as soon as the election ended and are holding it in safe-keeping until the decision of the appeal is handed down. When the workers win the decision supporting the election, officials of the Teamsters and leaders of the Federation are confident that the election will carry. With victory just down the road, there is even more reason for blind people everywhere to join the Federation and to say in one unified voice, quoting our leader, Dr. Kenneth Jernigan: "We know who we are, and we will never go back."

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THE NATIONAL FEDERATION OF THE BLIND OF MAINE FIGHTS FOR THE RIGHT TO SECRET BALLOTS

Each time there is an election, the problem of the rights of blind voters arises. Actually, as happens in so many other areas, the real problem is not how blind persons will manage to vote, but how to deal with the welter of ambiguous and often silly laws covering the point. In 1978 the issue arose in Maine, and it had to do with the right to cast a secret ballot. The question is a simple enough one, and the basic right can be figured out by anyone who gives it a little thought. A secret ballot is necessary to allow voters to decide who they wish to have represent them and to make this decision without fear of reprisal. From whom are reprisals to be feared? Well, family members or friends are often guilty of ridiculing ballot choices. But the reprisals that count come from employers or government officials who have the power to punish political dissidents with the loss of a job or with legal harassment.

For years, most blind persons have cast their ballots by taking the person of their choice into the voting booth with them. Usually it is a husband or wife, but if the spouse cannot be trusted to follow the voter's directions (and, of course, many families have deep political rifts within them), it has been the blind voter's right to choose someone who can be trusted. This simple practice was allowed in the state of Maine for many years: but then some well-meaning but not so well-thinking legislators changed the law. The confusion this caused is explained by a letter written in June 1978 by Helen Collins, treasurer of the NFB of Maine, to Joseph Brennan, the state attorney general, as follows:

"DEAR MR. BRENNAN: I am writing to you concerning the revisions in election laws relative to assistance given certain persons, including the blind, in voting. As written, I believe the first of these revisions to be ambiguous, subject to various interpretations, and possibly even discriminatory by denying persons covered by this revision the right to a secret ballot.

"Each of the last three times I have gone to the polls to vote, ward officials have informed me of new revisions in the election laws, but these revisions have been interpreted by them in three different ways. At the primary elections last week, protesting the denial of my right to a secret ballot, I deliberately voided my ballot by voting for all candidates listed. I sincerely hope that a clarification of the revision can be made before the November elections in order to eliminate such problems at the polls in the future. It would be greatly appreciate if you would read the case which I present and advise me as to what action should be taken to protect my right and those of other citizens who may require assistance in voting.

"Election law changes were first brought to my attention last October 11 when Bangor was holding local elections to fill city council and school board seats. Since I am totally blind, my husband accompanied me (as usual) into the booth to cast my ballot. After voting, I approached the check-out table and was told by the precinct warden that because of a new law both she and my husband must sign their names on the outside of my ballot. Since I had never been so instructed in the past, I questioned the law. The city clerk happened to be present and read the new law to me and gave me the reference as title 21, subsection 862, the effective date being April 14, 1976.

"Although I felt my right to a secret ballot was being denied me, I allowed the warden and my husband to place their signatures on my ballot before replacing it in its envelope and depositing it in the box. I assured the warden, the clerk, and the city clerk that I did not hold them at fault for carrying out this new law, but I felt it was discriminatory and intended to check into it further and possibly suggest changes that should be made.

"Later I obtained a copy of the new legislation from the public library .... After studying these revisions in the election law, I feel there are a number of comments which should be made.

"To begin with, why should it be necessary to draw attention to the individual ballot of a 'voter who is unable to read or mark his ballot because of blindness or other physical disability or because of illiteracy or whose religious faith prevents him from marking the ballot' by requiring the signatures of a family member, persons chosen by the voter and approved by the election officials, or two election officials, one from each party, if such an aide is considered trustworthy by the voter himself? In the past, the law prohibited any identifying mark on a ballot, and the presence of such identifying mark automatically voided the ballot and it was not counted.

"I know of one case where a voter insisted on signing his ballot whenever he voted. He was told repeatedly that such action voided his ballot, but he continued the practice, and his vote was always discarded. It would seem there is at least a possibility that ballots with identifying marks would continue to be discarded.

"If a voter marks his own ballot, with the assistance of an aide who is considered trustworthy, it would seem that requiring the signature of the aide and warden on the voter's ballot represents gross custodialism, and this should not be tolerated.

"For example, when I go to the polls to vote, I give the worker my name and address. I take the ballot handed to me and enter the voting booth along with my husband who will assist me. I remove the ballot from the envelope, slide it into the slot, and secure it in place. With the stylus I locate the column of slots which designates the list of candidates. My husband merely reads the printed list of candidates or referendum questions to me and tells me when I have the stylus lined up with the slot by the candidate of my choice, and I puncture the slot. When I have made all selections, I remove the ballot, replace it in the envelope and wait outside the booth for my husband to complete his own ballot. We proceed to the checkout table, give names, remove the stub from the ballot, depositing each in the proper receptacle. Under ordinary circumstances, there is no reason for my husband to even touch my ballot.

"For the law to mandate that a person's secret ballot be removed from its envelope and endorsed by the warden and my husband suggests that because of a physical disability I must be treated like a child, an incompetent, or a second-class citizen. Our warden is well known, having served our precinct for some time, and my husband (a retired clergyman) is also known in Bangor. Ballots may be handled by served persons during the tallying process, and I'm sure it would not be difficult to identify a ballot with signatures on it.

"When I was told of this new law on October 11, I suggested to the election officials that possibly the legislature had intended for signatures to be written on the outside envelope rather than on the 'outside of the ballot.' I was told this probably was not the case since envelopes and ballots often became separated after being deposited in the box. My next question is, 'What difference would it make which ballot is mine if no one was interested in how I voted?'

"When the special referendum was held last December 5 for repeal of the Uniform Property Tax, I had no complaints regarding the way my ballot was processed. The acting warden interpreted 'outside of the ballot' to mean the envelope, and my husband indicated on the envelope that he had helped me. I assumed this procedure would be followed in the future, but such was not the case.

"After marking my ballot at the June 13 primary elections, I was told by the ward officials that another new revision had gone into effect June 17, 1977, requiring my husband's signature on my 'application.' Again I questioned the law, and the clerk read it to me. I argued that my ballot was not an 'application' and suggested that this law probably referred to absentee ballots. They insisted that 'application.' following this revision, must mean the ballot. I allowed my husband to sign my ballot as they requested, but I returned to the voting booth and deliberately voided my ballot to protest the required identification signature on it. I so informed the officials before depositing it in the box.

"That evening I spoke to the chairman of the board of registration and told her of the problems I had had at the polls. She read the revision in question and agreed with me that 'outside of the ballot' referred to the envelope and not the ballot itself. She also assured me that the revision read to me earlier that day at the polls, referring to 'application,' dealt with applications for absentee ballots, and an error had been made by following this revision at the polls.

"This fact was confirmed the next day when I obtained a copy of title 21, subsection 1253(2)(a) at the public library. Since the wording is similar to the previous revision and no actual reference to 'absentee ballots' was made in the revision read to me, the error can be easily explained. . . .

"Maybe all these details are not necessary, but I wanted to explain my reasons for believing the law to be discriminatory. Also, I felt you should know of the confusion this revision has caused in our area among dedicated ward officials who are trying to carry out the law. The blind and otherwise disabled are guaranteed equal rights under the Model White Cane Law and also in the amendments to the Human Rights Act, which now includes the physically disabled as a category in which discrimination is prohibited. I do not know if the right to a secret ballot is included as a 'right' under these laws; if not, I feel it should be.

"For the past 12 years I have been a member of the largest nationwide organization of the blind, the National Federation of the Blind, an organization which is striving for equality for all blind people. The right for the blind to participate in the political process, truly on the basis of equality with the sighted, is an important right which cannot be compromised.

"Thank you for reading my letter and considering my views. I look forward to hearing from you regarding action which may be taken to eliminate further problems for those who require assistance in voting.

"Respectfully yours,

"HELEN O. COLLINS,
"Treasurer, National Federation of the Blind of Maine, Inc."

The situation described by Mrs. Collins is a classic one. Blind persons have had no trouble voting using methods they work out for themselves. Then someone decides the law must be tightened up "for the good of the blind." They then proceed to revise the law without, of course, bothering to consult the blind themselves. The result is a law that accomplishes the very opposite of its intention—it begins to interfere with blind voters' rights in a way that had never occurred before.

The Maine law falls into the traditional pattern. Beyond its ambiguities, it contains some strikingly custodial assumptions. It allows the blind voter to obtain assistance from: "two election officials or from the voter's father, mother, brother, sister, husband, wife, son or daughter, as selected by the voter, or from a person selected by the voter with the approval of an election official, provided that such aide is of voting age and that no candidate for election shall act as aide."

This is not so far removed from the American Foundation for the Blind's infamous procedure for taking a sponge bath—the first step of which was to disrobe. Why should a blind voter's choice of an aide be subject to the approval of the ward officials? And is it feared that blind persons are so naive that they might wish to vote for candidate X but trustingly take opposition candidate Y into the booth to cast the ballot? Or maybe the blind person will choose an infant as an aide. And what if he or she makes any of these mistakes? Is that not a far sight better than what the law actually accomplishes-the suspension of blind persons' right to a secret ballot. The revised law, as Mrs. Collins correctly points out, has only one result, and that is that anyone can figure how out blind voters cast their ballots. If Joe Smith casts a secret ballot, and written on the ballot is the signature of "Mrs. Joe Smith," it does not take a law degree to figure out whose ballot it is.

Mrs. Collins sent copies of her letter to Maine Governor James B. Longley and Secretary of State Markham Gartley. The responses she received were markedly different in tone. The governor replied personally and affirmatively, stating, in part:

"You have well documented the potential ambiguities in the present law and you were correct in addressing your concerns to Attorney General Brennan. I am confident that Attorney General Brennan and his staff will be able to resolve the ambiguities so that there will be uniformity in the application of the laws. As well I am certain that Secretary of State Markham Gartley and his Elections Division staff will cooperate fully by insuring that all local officials are informed as to the fair and uniform application of these particular laws. . . .

"You ask in your letter for possible suggestions that I might have regarding action which you could take or other contacts which you should make in seeking equal status for blind voters. I believe that your first step should be addressing the specific changes that you would like to make in the present laws. Then I would suggest that the specific suggestions be brought to the attention of all persons, including myself, who will be working on legislation for the upcoming 109th Maine Legislature."

The governor also suggested that the matter be brought to candidates for state office and their responses be noted in determining whom to support. This the NFB of Maine did, even persuading an independent candidate for governor to make it a campaign issue.

Despite Governor Longley's certainty that the secretary of state would cooperate fully, the response from that official was a classic in its own way-the time-honored bureaucratic dodge. The response came from a deputy secretary of state named Doris Hayes, who wrote, in part:

"I appreciate your concern with having your ballot marked to indicate that assistance was given. However, I would point out that this is required of any person who has a physical handicap or religious belief which prevents them from marking their ballot without help. I don't believe it was intended to be discriminatory but perhaps was intended to eliminate the possibility of vote manipulation.

"The requirement that a ballot be marked by the two election officials or relative is not new. It has been in the statute for many years. The 1975 revision of this section was intended to clarify the requirement and eliminate the possibility of an incorrect interpretation in the signatory requirement."

The parallels between the Maine voting law revision and the Federal Aviation Administration's regulation on air travel for the blind are striking, as are the parallels between Ms. Hayes' response and those of FAA officials to the NFB's protests. In both cases, we are told that we have misunderstood. The new laws are to protect us, indeed, specifically to clarify older laws, and in any case, there is nothing really new here. The absurd assumption is that the blind really have no knowledge of existing practices concerning the blind. Ms. Hayes adds a peculiar sort of comfort. She points out that the law discriminates equally against all the handicapped and those with certain religious beliefs as well. It is hard to know what to do with that one.

The attorney general adopted a third method of dealing with the problem: he did not respond at all at first.

The NFB of Maine followed the governor's suggestion and drafted its recommendation for a change in the law. That change is worth noting. It recalls again our problems with the FAA and our earlier discussions with Amtrak on the same issue. In both instances, we suggested that all of the tortured procedures for handling blind travelers be replaced with a single sentence: "For the purposes of these rules, blind passengers will not be considered handicapped."

Here then is the Maine voting law as it was revised in 1975. Remember that according to the deputy attorney general, this revision was made "to clarify the requirement." The law reads as follows:

"A voter who is unable to read or mark his ballot because of blindness or other physical disability or because of illiteracy or whose religious faith prevents him from marking the ballot may obtain assistance in marking the ballot from two election officials or from the voter's father, mother, brother, sister, husband, wife, son or daughter, as selected by the voter, or from a person selected by the voter with the approval of an election official, provided that such aide is of voting age and that no candidate for election shall act as aide. When the assistance of election officials is requested, the warden shall designate two election officials representing different political parties, but in primary elections representing the same political party as the voter. When two such election officials assist a voter, they shall mark the ballot or assist the voter in doing so without attempting to influence his vote. They shall write on the outside of the ballot that it was marked by them or by the voter with their assistance and shall sign their names. When an aide, as described in this section, assists a voter, the warden shall write on the outside of the ballot that it was marked by such aide or by the voter with such aide's assistance and shall write the aide's name. In addition, the aide shall sign his name."

That is the present law. The NFB of Maine proposed that everything after the words "may obtain the assistance of be removed and replaced with the phrase "any individual of the voter's choice."

Following the NFB state convention, there was a great deal more correspondence with state officials. The news media became involved, and this helped move matters along. Finally, on August 29, 1978, Attorney General Brennan wrote a letter to Helen Collins that indicated the progress being made. He wrote, in part, as follows:

"After reviewing this correspondence and the resolution and proposed legislation which accompanied it, I feel I would have no problem in supporting the changes in section 862 of the election laws you have suggested. Should you need assistance in finding a legislator to sponsor this measure in the regular session which commences in January, please feel free to contact this office."

Two days later. Governor Longley wrote in a similar vein, as follows:

"I believe that you and your organization are approaching this matter in a very intelligent fashion. I can only urge you to continue your efforts in contacting both statewide and local candidates as you build support for your statutory change."

The situation is not yet settled as this article is being written in early February, but who can doubt that it will be settled and settled soon. The blind of Maine went about correcting the problem in true Federation fashion: They saw through the smokescreen of officialese to the discrimination that lay at the heart of the voting law. They mobilized a wide range of public support and then pursued their goal relentlessly.

Helen Collins' correspondence with Maine state officials illustrates the truth of a statement that underlies our whole philosophy as a movement: The real problem of blindness is not the blindness itself; it is the lack of understanding and the misconceptions which exist. Over the years, the Federation has made real progress in gaining civil rights for the blind. The white cane laws, the civil rights protections found in section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, the NLRB ruling granting blind workers the protections of the National Labor Relations Act, the imminent legislation giving us minimum-wage protection—all of these are achievements that together have placed blind persons in a new relationship to society, as first-class citizens with the normal rights of citizens. But as long as the age-old custodial stereotypes of blindness prevail in the public mind, we still have a long way to go. As in Maine, as with the Federal Aviation Administration, as with the contorted responses of agencies and institutions to the requirements of section 504, we will continue to run into barriers set up by those who believe they are helping the blind. And in too many cases, those barriers will be worse than the obstacles they are meant to overcome.  

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N.I.B. AND SHELTERED WORKSHOPS: ANYTHING BUT REFORM

The March Monitor reprinted the articles published in the Wall Street Journal January 24 and 25, 1979, articles that were the first major media expose of the way in which sheltered workshops for the blind exploit blind persons. (The articles grew out of the Federation's efforts to bring this scandal to public notice and specifically grew out of our legislation to end subminimum wages in the shops.) The response to the articles has been as great as we expected. At least one congressional investigation is underway and several television shows on the subject are under discussion.

To keep up the pressure for workshop reform, on February 5, 1979, we petitioned the U.S. Secretary of Labor to end subminimum wages in sheltered shops (also discussed in last month's Monitor) and at the same time distributed a press release to the national news media. The release read as follows:

FEDERATION OF THE BLIND ASKS SECRETARY OF LABOR TO END JOB EXPLOITATION

Washington, D.C., February 5—The nation's largest organization of blind persons today petitioned the Secretary of Labor to eliminate regulations which in effect legalize the exploitation of blind workers in sheltered workshops and private industry.

Kenneth Jernigan, president of the 50,000-member National Federation of the Blind, stated that the Federation will also seek federal legislation to end what he termed "a system set up to help the blind, but which now victimizes them."

The Federation's action comes in the wake of a series of Wall Street Journal articles which detailed conditions in the nation's "sheltered workshops"—the main benefactors of a clause in the Fair Labor Standards Act which permits the Secretary of Labor to exempt employers from minimum-wage laws and allows them to pay as little as one fourth the minimum wage to blind workers. The Wall Street Journal described blind persons, employed in the workshops of well-known charities, who were being paid less than $1 an hour while their sighted supervisors were earning in excess of $50,000 a year.

A provision in the Fair Labor Standards Act (section 14(c)) allows employers to pay blind workers less than the minimum wage if it can be shown that they produce at a level below sighted workers. The original purpose of the provision was to create employment opportunities for the handicapped. The Federation claims, however, that this provision has been taken advantage of by charities that run so-called sheltered workshops.

"Again and again these shops have been caught arranging phony productivity tests to gain certificates allowing them to pay as little as 58 cents an hour," Jernigan said. "A Labor Department official indicated to us recently that in his department's investigation of sheltered shops, violations of the certification procedure were found in as many as 80 percent of the cases. We could have told them that."

The Federation's petition notes that the affirmative action obligations for federal contractors, passed as part of title V of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, have created new employment opportunities for blind workers. The petition states, however, that Labor Department regulations allow employers to evade their obligations under title V.

"There is now ample evidence that blind workers can produce as well as their sighted co-workers," said James Gashel, who filed the petition as the Federation's Washington liaison. "Today blind persons have entered nearly every field of work and done so successfully. Blindness is not necessarily a handicap on the job. But as long as employers can save money by contracting with sheltered workshops exempt from minimum-wage requirements, they are not going to hire the blind. There is no longer any justification for the Labor Department regulations; they now work to keep the blind out of regular employment."

The Wall Street Journal articles quoted spokesmen for major corporations that contract with workshops as stating, "They [the workshops] don't charge a whole lot of money. It was cheaper than to have our own people do it." Statements filed with the IRS by workshops showed that the percentage of sales going to workers in the workshops was as little as seven percent, compared to approximately 23 percent in regular private industry. In addition, workshops can pay blind persons only carfare if they are in "training"—and "training" may continue for years.

The workshops claim that the low wages for blind workers are necessary to stay in business, due to alleged low productivity of the blind. The Federation claims, however, that the low wages are used to offset highly paid corps of sighted administrators who must be paid from workshop profits. At one workshop in New York, according to the Wall Street Journal, blind workers’ total wages during one year were $240,000, while the salaries of their supervisors totaled $530,539.

"For years the blind have been exploited by charities supposedly set up to help us," said Jernigan. "These charities have built up endowments of tens of millions of dollars, but they have not helped the blind. In many cases, they have actively opposed our progress out of the shops and into real jobs. The only help the blind have had has come from ourselves."

This release was carried in part by the Associated Press and printed in newspapers across the country. The Wall Street Journal reprinted parts of the release on February 6 and concluded its article as follows:

"Officials at the Labor Department said they would review the Federation's petition as soon as possible. Tm not unsympathetic to their concerns,' said Donald E. Elisburg, Assistant Secretary for Employment Standards.'"

Mr. Elisburg's statement may sound rather mild considering the magnitude of the abuses we were bringing to his department, but it is a dramatic departure from past Labor Department reactions to this problem. In the past, they have put us off, citing the difficulty of dealing with blind workshops without opening the whole can of worms of the general workshop system. We expect positive action from the Labor Department on our petition, particularly since Congress and the press are taking such a keen interest.

Meanwhile, what about the shops themselves? And what about National Industries for the Blind, the federal contracting agent for the shops which in 1977 (according to the Wall Street Journal) raked off at least $1,900,000 from workshop sales to support its activities? Are these agencies busy cleaning house to prepare for the investigations and reforms that loom ahead? Far, far from the case. National Industries for the Blind maintains a substantial Washington operation primarily to argue its case to the government. According to sources in Congress, the NIB Washington office is refusing to answer congressional inquiries, referring all callers to NIB's main office in Bloomfield, New Jersey. This did not sit well with legislators, who understandably wondered why anyone would maintain an office in Washington, D.C., whose staff refuses to answer questions from the government. The NIB Washington office, we might add, like NIB's other operations is supported with money raised by the labor of blind shop workers. If the blind were consulted in the matter, it is a luxury we would be glad to dispense with.

Since its Washington office is refusing to answer questions, we must look elsewhere to find out how National Industries for the Blind is responding to the calls for reform. For one thing, the Des Moines Register, has suddenly sprung to life after months of relative silence on the NFB. The Register had been battering at the Federation for nearly a year—as Federationists will not need to be told. The source of that campaign, we have found out, was as follows:

The Minneapolis Society for the Blind runs a workshop that has been caught violating Labor Department regulations, and the Society's board has been found guilty of breaking Minnesota state law-in both cases following complaints brought by the Federation. Some time ago, the director of the Minneapolis Society casually told a Federationist (who, of course, he did not know was a Federationist) that an old friend of his was an editor at the Des Moines Register. He went on to say that he had been feeding this friend what he called the "dirt on Jernigan" and that the editor friend had promised to use it when the time came.

The time came last year when the Register launched a campaign to smear Republican governer Robert Ray and to sabotage the campaign of Roger Jepsen to be elected to the U.S. Senate. The Iowa Commission for the Blind and the Iowa Public Broadcasting Network (IPBN) were the two Iowa state agencies that have generally been regarded as the most laudable parts of that state's government and they were the governor's selling points in defending his administration. The Des Moines Register began attacking the public broadcasting network with a viciousness that amazed many of its readers. The newspaper articles shattered the morale of the IPBN employees and brought the whole system into a shambles. This was round one.

The Iowa Commission for the Blind was an even better target for the Register because not only was it much more widely respected than IPBN, but its director, Kenneth Jernigan, was also a friend of Roger Jepsen, whom the Register hated even more than Governor Ray. In addition, in this round, the paper had the active participation of agencies such as the Minneapolis Society that have been embarrassed by the National Federation of the Blind, of which Kenneth Jernigan was President.

The Register began a series of articles attacking Dr. Jernigan, the Commission, the Federation, and anybody and everybody connected with him. The series (which eventually ran to well over 100 articles) contained such a variety of charges that it boggled the imagination. After a year of attack, not one of the charges had been substantiated. The two former Commission employees who were the main sources of the charges (at least the visible sources—the involvement of the out-of-state collaborators being left for Register readers to figure out for themselves) had become so careless in their public statements that they discredited themselves. As the 1978 senatorial campaign progressed, and after none of its charges against the Commission could be proved, the Register more and more ignored Dr. Jernigan and focused on its primary target, Roger Jepsen.

Roger Jepsen was elected to the U.S. Senate, the Register notwithstanding, and the past months have seen a cooling off of the whole affair. Then came the Wall Street Journal articles. Since the publication of those articles, agencies such as the Minneapolis Society, National Industries for the Blind (not to mention the American Foundation for the Blind, which created NIB, and the National Accreditation Council for Agencies Serving the Blind and Visually Handicapped, also created by the American Foundation to serve as protector and vigilance committee for the workshops) have been in despair. Even as the Wall Street Journal reporters were writing their stories, they began receiving packets of Register articles sent anonymously from, of all places, Minnesota.

Now, coincidentally (and who would believe for a instant that it is a coincidence), the Des Moines Register has begun a new campaign—dredging up its old charges but playing them with a disregard for truth that makes even the last campaign pale in comparison. The first of these articles appeared about two weeks after the following memorandum came into our hands. It is on the letterhead of National Industries for the Blind, under date of February 7, 1979, and reads as follows:

TO: All Workshops Associated with NIB

FROM: R. T. Millard, Director, Public Relations

SUBJECT: National Publicity

You will want to be aware that CBS "60 Minutes" program is considering the presentation of a segment on workshops for the blind on their regular news series.

Preliminary inquiries and interviews have been conducted by CBS-TV with NIB and the Jewish Guild for the Blind. Indications are that CBS may conduct additional interviews and/or visits with workshops in other locations across the country.

May we suggest you be prepared to receive representatives from CBS and other media and furnish them with information pertaining to your workshop as accurately and clearly as possible to describe fully the services your workshop provides blind people.

In other developments, the National Federation of the Blind has issued a news release to the national wire services (AP, etc.) advising that the Federation has requested the U.S. Department of Labor to investigate working conditions and what the Federation alleges to be "substandard wages" in workshops for the blind.

Stories resulting from these news releases will in all probability be appearing in some newspapers in the near future.

If you have good relations with the media of your local area it would be well to contact them prior to the impact of these negative news releases.

When the Wall Street Journal stories appeared, many people inside and outside the movement warned us that National Industries for the Blind and the workshops would try to counter the charges against them by attempting to discredit the Federation. Now, as 60 Minutes looks into the issue, the workshops' plight is more desperate than ever. We must expect that no efforts will be spared to make us look like radicals, militants, crooks, and every low kind of lying creatures. We can expect that these new Des Moines Register articles will be distributed as widely as possible by National Industries for the Blind, the workshops, and by the National Accreditation Council, as were the previous Register articles. Our jobs and reputations will be attacked; and judging from previous experience, we can be certain that these attacks will be limited by no ethical restraints whatever.

We could say a good deal about people who respond to objective criticism with vicious personal attack, but we do not need to. We know what our motives are; they are not related to personal gain or spite. Our charges are brought to the public because we are the blind who work in the shops. We are the blind who, after being "trained" for 20 years, still have no prospect for a real job or minimum wages. We have been told to wait and be patient, to live our whole lives in the bleakest poverty, to sit idly as our talents and those of our brothers and sisters are wasted and made to atrophy into nothing, and then have our degraded state be used to justify more of the same.

Many people wonder why we fight with such determination, why we would take on agencies on whose boards sit the richest and most powerful men and women in our society. We know that we call their wrath down upon us, that the newspapers they own and the public relations experts they command will be instructed to drive us back to our institutions and rocking chairs and teach us once again to beg with good humor. We know the power of our foes, but we also know with excruciating exactness what our alternative is. We know who we are, and we will never go back.

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"AND A LITTLE CHILD SHALL LEAD THEM": THE LATEST EFFORTS OF THE AMERICAN FOUNDATION FOR THE BLIND

The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid: and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together: and a little child shall lead them. (Isaiah 11:6)

Recently the following memorandum was distributed by the American Foundation for the Blind:

TO: Groups Serving Parents of Visually Handicapped Children in the United States

FROM: Susan Jay Spungin, Ed. D., National Consultant in Education

RE: The Establishment of a National Association of Parents of Visually Handicapped Children and Youth

DATE: January 2, 1979

The American Foundation for the Blind plans to invite a small group of parents to form an Ad Hoc Committee in order to determine the feasibility of forming a National Association of Parents of Visually Handicapped Children and Youth. The formation of such a group as well as its potential and priorities for action will also be discussed.

I would appreciate receiving any names and addresses of parents you might feel interested in such a project as well as some background information on them: ages and degree of visual disabilities of their child, past participation in parent associations, advocacy groups, community service, etc. At the present time the dates for the Ad Hoc Committee Meeting are scheduled for May 10-11, 1979. Consequently, I would appreciate hearing from you no later than January 30, 1979. Thank you for your consideration concerning this matter.

It gets hard to keep track of them all, these spawnings of the American Foundation for the Blind. Is this the fifth or the sixth time the AFB has pretended to respond to a need in the field for a new national organization? Lately these organizations have been formed and discredited so fast it's hard to keep track of them. But in the interests of history, we'll make a stab at it.

Part of the problem in keeping track of the AFB's fledglings is that some of them purport to be consumer groups while others are said to represent a so-called consensus of "professional" thought about what is best for the blind. The distinction is a broad one; but in AFB terms, it is razor thin if it exists at all. When you get down to it, the American Foundation for the Blind believes that it alone knows what is good for us poor blind folks, and that if we disagree it is only because we have been brainwashed with delusions of independence, or are experiencing the group equivalent of tantrum behavior, or something. Whatever it is, it is all the more reason that our views should be ignored.

First there was National Industries for the Blind (NIB). This was formed back in the days before the AFB had moved into the "consumer" field; no one would mistake NIB with its huge staff of retired military brass and sighted "experts" for an organization of the blind.

The American Foundation for the Blind's first real efforts to take over the consumer field came in the late 1950's and early 1960's when a handful of members of the National Federation of the Blind, attracted by the idea of high position in the movement but unable to persuade Federationists to vote for them, suddenly decided that the NFB President, Jacobus tenBroek, was a dictator and his administration a bunch of yes-men under his hypnotic spell. The AFB knew for a fact that Dr. tenBroek was beyond salvation. After all, they had tried to buy him out and get him to come work for the AFB. And any blind man who saw a conflict of interest between the AFB and the Federation—well, dictator is too mild a term.

So the AFB wooed this small but ambitious faction in the Federation and offered them support. And in the course of time, when the Federation had tossed them out of the movement, they formed the American Council of the Blind. Here was real progress: an organization that had some rank-and-file blind people in it (even if eventually most of them were agency employees or otherwise dependent on the blindness establishment). Here was an organization that could be trotted out whenever the reforming activities of the Federation got too hot or too close—an organization that could be sent out to the public and directed to say: "The National Federation of the Blind is a bunch of militant hell-raisers; they sure don't speak for us!" The American Council of the Blind might well have added: "The American Foundation speaks for us."

Meanwhile, though, the AFB found that it was losing ground in an area that for decades had been its private preserve—service agencies themselves. Remember that the American Foundation for the Blind, unlike most agencies, does not concentrate on offering direct services to the blind; it sees itself as a support unit for the agencies that do offer services. It wants to be regarded as a fount for service philosophy. It also, admittedly, sells over-priced or useless aids and gadgets (very often both over-priced and useless). And it carries on "scholarly research" of the kind that reinforces the myths about the inferiority of the blind by quantifying that inferiority and labeling it using the most up-to-date sociological jargon. The end result of all these activities is that the AFB feels qualified to set "standards" for others to follow.

But as more and more agencies began to listen to blind consumers and gear their services away from benevolent custody toward preparation for independent life, the AFB began to hear cries for help from those of its constituents (the directors of custodial institutions) who would lose their comfortable Jobs and traditional roles of authority if the trend continued.

So the AFB set up the Commission on Standards and Accreditation for Services for the Blind (COMSTAC). It lent COMSTAC staff and paid its way. It organized national conferences (from which dissident voices were carefully excluded) and wrote up papers and standards supposedly containing the essence of the best thought in the field. COMSTAC was going to set down once and for all what "high quality services to the blind" should be.

What it actually produced, of course, was the National Accreditation Council for Agencies Serving the Blind and Visually Handicapped, or NAC. From the start, NAC was entirely a creature of the American Foundation. NAC's staff came from the AFB and much of its money as well. At first, the AFB managed to get for NAC some grants from the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare; but when HEW cut off those grants, citing "poor performance" and "low acceptance of NAC accreditation by blind agencies," the AFB picked up the tab and now regularly supplies most of NAC's budget.

More recently, as coalitions became the fashion and as NAC and the American Council of the Blind became recognized for the puppet organizations they were, the AFB organized the Affiliated Leadership League of and for the Blind of America, or as it was so modestly dubbed, ALL. The blind of the nation promptly redubbed it SMALL, standing for "Some More Attempts Leading to Little." ALL now proudly claims some 50 member organizations, not bothering to explain that at least half of them are state affiliates or special interest groups of the American Council of the Blind. (And since the ACB reshuffles its state affiliates into myriad special interest groups and then calls each one of these a separate affiliate even though they have the same members, it has not been hard for ALL to recruit quite a number of "separate" organizations.) The rest of the organizations in ALL come largely from the members of NAC and National Industries for the Blind (although we don't mean to imply that we are speaking of two separate groups here either).

Creating the Affiliated Leadership League may have seemed like a good idea at the time. It was formed, according to the invitation letter sent out by Loyal Apple, executive director of the American Foundation, "because of a compelling need to unify actions—action, he later specified, needed to "discourage negative forces." "Negative forces" is one of the code phrases used by the AFB and NAC to refer to the organized blind movement. It was clearly hoped that ALL—a coalition of all the AFB's forces-could succeed where each had failed individually and could finally cripple the National Federation of the Blind.

It did not turn out that way. What happened instead was that it became clearer than ever that National Industries for the. Blind, the National Accreditation Council, the American Council of the Blind, and ALL were all in every way but name the American Foundation for the Blind. It was particularly exposing to the American Council of the Blind, which had enough memberships in ALL so that any action of ALL had to be an action of the ACB. When ALL passed formal resolutions, this last summer, opposing minimum wage for the blind and calling on the National Labor Relations Board to rescind its decision granting blind shopworkers the right to join unions, the game was up, the ACB's mask of consumerism fell with a crash.

So now we have a memorandum from the American Foundation for the Blind inquiring oh-so-disinterestedly whether there might not be a need for a new national consumer organization-the National Association of Parents of Visually Handicapped Children and Youth, or NAPVHCY.

Let's examine the notion for a moment. When the National Accreditation Council found that public and private rehabilitation agencies were no longer interested in its brand of "accreditation" because the blind clients of the agencies would have none of it, NAC quickly whipped up some special standards for schools for the blind, and not only schools, but pre-school programs. What kind of fuss, they likely reasoned, can mere school children raise. Here is a consumer population that, if necessary, can be spanked and sent to the corner. (Even this calculation, we have recently learned, was a bit hasty. The blind students at one of the schools NAC accredited last year have begun to demand that they be allowed to start a Federation chapter at the school. The school administration told them it was out of the question-they had no right to. We will see whether they have a right to or not. Most of the lawyers we have talked to believe they do have that right.)

Still, NAC is on the right track to a degree. We doubt whether pre-school blind children will ever carry much clout by themselves. And so, the right hand learning from what the left hand does, the AFB wants to form the National Association of Parents of Visually Handicapped Children and Youth. It raises images of the Children's Crusade, one of the bloodiest and most brutal episodes of the Middle Ages. Well, maybe not quite. Because the Foundation is calling on the parents of blind children. These are people—well-intentioned without a doubt—who for the most part have no direct experience whatever of blindness. These are people who very often are terrified by the stereotypes of blindness and by their fears of what may happen to their children unless the children can be protected and kept safe from the dangers of everyday life. These, above all, are people who listen with desperate gratitude to anyone wearing the label of "expert," and who will fight with fury if they can be led to believe it is for the good of their children.

They may even be people who can be mobilized, taught that the Federation is a "negative force," and sent out to do battle. "The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together: and a little child shall lead them." 

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THE KOWALSKI CASE: THE UNIVERSITY OF KANSAS LAW SCHOOL LEARNS THE MEANING OF SECTION 504

Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 was passed by Congress to ensure that handicapped persons will not be denied participation, denied benefits, or discriminated against in any program or activity receiving federal financial assistance. With respect to institutions of higher learning, the regulations put out by the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare to implement section 504, state (in section 84.42) that:

"Qualified handicapped persons may not on the basis of handicap, be denied admission or be subjected to discrimination in admission or recruitment by a recipient [of federal financial assistance] to which this subpart applies."

Section 84.3(k)(3) defines "qualified handicapped person" as a person "who meets the academic and technical standards for admission or participation in the recipient's educational program or activity."

What all this means is that a university may not consider a student's handicap, even indirectly, in deciding whether the student should be admitted. The decision must be based on the person's credentials. If the university's decision is even partly motivated by discriminatory considerations, it is illegal.

The rules must be tight, because over the years, employers and institutions have become crafty in disguising discrimination. They have learned that they can still exclude blacks or Jews or women or members of other groups they feel uncomfortable having around so long as they do not indicate that race or ethnic group or sex is the reason for denying a job or admission. That is why it is illegal in most instances even to ask questions on an application about any of these matters or to ferret out the information in less direct ways-such as requiring a photograph. Still, the information can usually be gotten, and admission or employment denied using some other excuse, so that it is difficult to prove the real reason.

The officials who make these decisions, however, are less wary when it comes to discriminating against the handicapped. They are often disarmed by their beliefs that it is obvious to one and all that a blind person cannot do certain things, and they are amazed to learn that it is illegal to bar them on that basis.

The case of Thomas Kowalski provides a good illustration of all these factors—of official evasions and phony excuses, of special admission requirements and unmeetable obligations. But through all of Kowalski's experience in trying to get into law school, the old steeotypes of blindness and discrimination break through loud and clear.

Much of what follows quotes from the investigation and statement prepared on Thomas Kowalski's behalf by NFB attorney Bert Bisgyer, who handled the complaint brought under section 504.

Thomas Kowalski developed diabetes in early childhood, although it did not seriously affect his sight until he was in college. In high school, he was an excellent student, and he was awarded a full scholarship to Saint Benedict's College in Kansas, where he began classes in 1966. Once in college, Kowalski began experiencing medical problems that continued for the next several years. In 1968 he enrolled at the University of Kansas, but his career there was interrupted several times for surgery (at the end of which, despite the surgery, he had lost all of his sight) and further disrupted by a period during which he and his doctors were attempting to discover the correct dosage level to control his diabetes. The mood and energy-level changes that accompany this process (as well as the periods of hospitalization) resulted in his graduating with a final cumulative average of 2.36 out of a possible 4 points. This was good, particularly considering the medical problems Kowalski went through, but it was not an accurate reflection of his ability. (The college, due to bureaucratic confusion or as the first stages of the discriminatory actions that later became blatant, persisted in misreporting his average as even lower-2.27.)

After graduation in 1970, and while he was still going through the periodic surgical efforts to save his sight, Kowalski took two demanding science courses at Donnelly College in Kansas, and was deemed by the college's academic dean to be a "fine student." Later he was asked to step in temporarily as a teacher of organic chemistry to pre-medical, pre-dental, and pre-veterinary students at Donnelly, and his performance was rated "highly satisfactory."

During the same period that he was teaching at night, Kowalski was working during the day at the Home Savings Association as a loan administrator. He was described by his employer as "effective," "efficient," "well respected and liked," and of "high moral character, with complete integrity in his personal and business life."

When Kowalski's sight finally was lost altogether, in 1974, and he was ordered to limit his activities for 18 months and remain under close medical supervision, he gave up his job and teaching. But he learned Braille, studied communication and electronic theory on his own (obtaining the highest grade amateur communications license), organized and taught a course in radio theory, and was named the Missouri-Kansas District manager for military amateur radio communications. In 1976, with his brother, Kowalski formed the Janmar Corporation, a toxicological production and analysis operation. It was as he handled the business and legal problems of this project that Kowalski became interested in pursuing a career as a lawyer. (As if this were not enough activity, in the fall of 1976 Kowalski studied the piano, organ, clarinet, flute, saxophone, and composition at Kansas City Community Junior College, receiving "A's" in eight of the nine courses he took at KCJC that year. In 1977, Kowalski developed a relationship with a practicing lawyer, Felix Kancel, to further his knowledge of the law, accompanying Kancel to court and observing how his office functioned.

We have described Thomas Kowalski's experience and qualifications at length to show that here was a man who had demonstrated his academic ability and his ability to function as a blind person. Only the first of these abilities, of course, should have been taken into account by the University of Kansas; but the other was there as well if they had looked for it.

In the spring of 1977 Kowalski contacted the Educational Testing Service (ETS) to arrange to take the Law School Admissions Test, or LSAT. He learned that ETS had done away with taped or Braille versions of the LSAT due to their belief that these versions were speculative and unreliable when compared to the scores of the regular LSAT.

When Kowalski first contacted Shirley Domer, the director of admissions at the University of Kansas law school, he did not emphasize his blindness. In response to the question on the application form as to whether he had a "physical or psychological condition which could adversely affect" his study of law, Kowalski stated that he had a "visual impairment" that he did not view as an "adverse condition." He also noted that the LSAT was no longer given to persons with visual impairments and asked whether letters of recommendation would be helpful. Admissions director Domer informed Kowalski that the law school waived the requirement for the LSAT for blind persons and that the school had admitted another visually impaired person that year. Domer discussed with Kowalski the period during which his grades had dropped due to the difficulties of adjusting to the proper treatment for his diabetes and indicated that she realized those grades were not a valid reflection of his potential. After further discussions in which Domer told Kowalski that his letters of recommendation and other submissions would suffice, and that all of the material looked good, she notified him that his application file was "complete."

Things had progressed fairly smoothly so far. But then in June 1977, Kowalski received a letter from Philip C. Kissam, chairman of the admissions committee, stating that admissions director Domer was leaving. Kissam wrote that her successor would contact Kowalski in the fall "to indicate specifically what information is desired." Kissam also wrote that Kowalski's application would be held up until the next winter due to its "lateness" and the "need for more information" in light of the "necessary absence of an LSAT score" and because of Kowalski's "relatively low grades as an undergraduate." This was the beginning of marked change in tone by the law school. Both of Kissam's reasons for deferring the application were in direct contradiction of Domer's statements to Kowalski. Some of this may be put down to the confusion attending a change in admission directors; but as the fall of 1977 went by, with phone calls and letters from Kowalski attempting to set things straight again, it became clear that Domer's successor, Mr. Griffin, and his boss Kissam were not eager to have Kowalski in the school.

For instance, Kowalski tried hard to find out what the admissions committee wanted from him. He was met with evasive answers, such as this one in a letter from Griffin in October 1977: "I can only tell you that the Admissions Committee will want to see additional evidence of your potential as a prospective law student." Griffin then added: "At this time, I'm not certain what that means, except to say that you may want to begin putting some information in writing for the committee to review. It will provide a basis from which to react, and since the original correspondence was somewhat vague, I think the committee needs something to act as a springbroad. If they want something more specific after that, they can request it. Of course, I will let you know from this end if there is anything you can do additionally, if I learn in advance what it might be." This statement and many others offered to Kowalski in writing and on the telephone approach the utterly meaningless. In terms of discrimination, though, such statements do have meaning. Since no one can provide data that is not specified, and since the committee would not admit Kowalski without such data, the statements meant that the committee was probably not going to consider Kowalski's application fairly but had not yet figured out their basis for rejecting him.

In December 1977, Kowalski finally arranged an interview with Griffin and a student representative of the previous year's admission committee. At the meeting, Kowalski presented letters of recommendation from his past employer and from the professor of a law course he had taken at KJKC (in which the professor concluded that Kowalski had no problem handling work assignments or taking tests and that he would make an excellent law student and an excellent attorney as well). Kowalski also presented a letter from his doctor explaining once again why his grades had been low during the period he was adjusting to his diabetes. After reading this, Griffin stated that it provided "sufficient explanation" for the low grades and "there was no need to elaborate further."

The student representative at the meeting told Kowalski that he could expect to be avoided by other students because he was different and was treading on "hallowed ground." When Kowalski replied that he had never been treated that way in the past, the student representative added that he could expect "minimal" or "no assistance" from other students. Griffin chimed in, saying that he "could not predict what the instructors' reaction to changing their classroom and testing procedures would be." It does not take an expert in discrimination to see that these statements were meant to discourage Kowalski from going any further.

The months went by, with Kowalski continuing to supply letters of recommendation and with Griffin dreaming up new reasons to explain why Kowalski's application had not yet been considered by the admissions committee. Kowalski began to press for a personal interview with the committee. In a statement that was later to haunt him. Griffin reported to Kowalski that the committee chairman, Mr. Kissam, had said to him: "Do not encourage Mr. Kowalski to come for an interview." Kowalski, expressing at last some of the frustration that had built up after the months of delay, asked Griffin whether Kissam believed that blind persons should sit at home in dark corners feeling sorry for themselves. Griffin answered "I don't think so," but after this exchange the interview was finally arranged. According to the lawyer's statement prepared to support the 504 complaint, that interview went as follows:

"On February 27. 1978, the interview was held as scheduled. There were two different sessions. In the first, Kowalski met with Professor William Kelly and student representative Maryann Slattery. During the second session, Kowalski met with Professor Marilyn Aynsworth and Chairman Phillip Kissam. Professor Raymond Goetz, who voted on Kowalski's file, failed to attend the interview.

"The first session began with Kelly and Kowalski engaging in light conversation about the pending Panama Canal treaties and Senator Dole's stand thereon. Griffin, who had no vote, then left the conference room, whereupon Kelly and Slattery inexplicably began by asking the other whether [either] had any 'specific questions' to ask Kowalski; neither did. They then asked Kowalski whether he had any questions to ask them. Kowalski replied that he did not, but because he did not wish the interview to end before it started, he inquired as to what areas in his application required clarification. After an extended pause, Kelly asked Kowalski to relate his work experience since graduating from K.U. Kowalski reviewed what appeared on his application for admission and further informed them that he had continued to take courses in selected areas after gradutation, had previously taught organic chemistry at Donnelly College at the same time he worked at Home Savings as a loan administrator, and was currently developing his musical abilities on the piano, clarinet, saxophone, flute, and bassoon.

"Kowalski was then asked about his duties as a loan administrator, and he related in some detail his various responsibilities before he had to leave on medical disability. Kowalski explained that his job consisted of loan collection, mediation and dispute-handling between notemakers and contractors, counseling the notemakers as to their legal responsibilities and liabilities, and other duties incidental to loan processing. Kowalski also advised Kelly and Slattery that Griffin and he had discussed the desirability of a June 1 entry date. When he then asked whether they had further questions, and they did not, that ended the first segment of the interview. In the course thereof, neither Kelly nor Slattery posed any legal hypotheticals or other such questions requiring analysis.

"Griffin then introduced Marilyn Aynsworth and Kissam. After a brief discussion regarding the failure of the heating system in the new law building which had made the conference room cold, the second session began. Kissam asked what subjects had been covered during the first session and Kowalski informed him. Kissam then stated that they had never conducted an interview at the law school, and said, I don't know what questions to ask.' Kowalski advised that he should ask whatever he wished. With that, Kissam stated that he did not want to be redundant, but he wanted to again discuss Kowalski's employment. They discussed Kowalski's organic chemistry teaching job at Donnelly College, with Kowalski describing the challenging class of pre-medical, dental, and veterinary students he instructed. Kissam then, in a condescending tone of voice, asked Kowalski, how did 'you' qualify to teach such a 'difficult course'? to which Kowalski replied that the retiring teacher, under whom he had studied the previous year, had with the dean's approval asked that he assume her position for an interim period, based on his performance in her class. After some further light discussion concerning Kowalski's interaction with students and faculty at Donnelly, he pointed out that he had then undertaken a tremendous work load in that period, what with teaching nights and concurrently working days at Home Savings.

"Kowalski then reiterated much of what had been said during the first session, outlining his duties of loan collection, mediation, and the inspection of contract completion. Kissam then asked whether Kowalski worked with 'legal documents,' to which Kowalski replied that he had been called upon to read loan papers, real estate abstracts, contracts, credit disclosures, and all papers required by FHA title I loans. Kissam then, again in a condescending tone, asked Kowalski whether he 'understood' the legal documents he read. Kowalski referred him to the file, stating that his employer had written a letter of recommendation, which was in the file, and that Kowalski believed the recommendation stated he had worked with such documents and had done a good job. In that conversation Kissam also asked what was Kowalski's experience with legal counsel at Home Savings. Kowalski explained that as a loan administrator he handled the day-to-day legal problems, but for the more substantial legal issues his company employed an attorney on retainer, with whom he consulted whenever a lawsuit was initiated. Kowalski stated that, in a related respect, in the past six to eight months, he had also observed firsthand the practice of attorney Felix Kancel in order to better understand the practicalities of a law office operation. Kowalski advised that he had accompanied Kancel to court and had observed him in that capacity, too. Throughout that experience, Kowalski continued, Kancel and he had discussed the necessary adaptations for a visually impaired attorney. Kowalski noted that there was a letter from Kancel in his file.

"Kissam then, in a cynical tone, asked Kowalski: What will 'you [in other words, a blind person] do with a law degree?' 'Will you use it in the running of your corporation?' Kowalski replied that that was a possibility, but he was not limiting the use of the J.D. degree to that alone. Kissam then asked Kowalski whether Home Savings will 'take you back' as an attorney. Kowalski responded that that was a possibility, but he was not inclined to pose such a question at this point. Moreover, Kowalski pointed out that after observing Kancel he saw no reason why he could not have the range of legal opportunities that were open to other J.D. recipients.

"In the course of explaining his duties at Home Savings, Kowalski had stated that he was regularly called upon to make judgments in certain situations. Kissam asked what was meant by the word 'judgments.' Kowalski explained that, often in the course of mediating a complaint between a contractor and a notemaker for property improvement work, he was called on to inspect the contractor's work and to make a determination whether, as the law required, a reasonable person would conclude that the job was complete. Kowalski further explained that contractors often withheld vital information from notemakers and that many notemakers did not understand their contract obligations, and he was called upon to use ingenuity to achieve a fair resolution. The case of an old woman with which he was familiar was then discussed, with Kowalski pointing out that in such cases he was also called upon to exercise good judgment in mitigating the situation. Kissam's response was to ask whether Kowalski had 'legal counsel' to make such determinations. Kowalski repeated that there was an attorney on retainer to handle the more difficult questions, but in most circumstances he relied on his own ability to mediate and resolve problems and to determine whether there had been substantial performance. Kissam then inexplicably asked outright how Kowalski could make any judgments since he was not an attorney. Kowalski replied that he could read well and could understand the appropriate documents and was able to reason and mediate in these situations. When, however, Kissam then asked for the fourth time what Kowalski meant by the term 'judgments,' Kowalski, who by then was having a difficult time determining whether Kissam was being socratic or condescending, replied that Kissam should define what he meant by that term. Kissam acknowledged that perhaps he should have done that at the start.

"With that, Kowalski asked Kissam why he was pursuing that line of inquiry, to which Kissam replied that the committee wanted to determine whether he could read and analyze large amounts of material, separate fact from opinion, and render a conclusion. Kowalski responded that he had performed satisfactorily at Home Savings, pointing out that there were two letters in his file from that employer attesting to his performance as well as a letter from attorney Carl Cornwell, who had instructed Kowalski in the last semester. And Corn well, Kowalski noted, had written a recommendation that stated Kowalski could analyze and argue a case in class. That letter, Kowalski also noted, rated him as the top student in his business law class. Kissam replied that he 'thought he could remember' a letter from 'some attorney' in Kowalski's file. With that, Kowalski, who wanted to clear up this matter, referred Kissam again to Cornwell's letter and asked that Kissam turn to it in the file to verify Kowalski's recollection. Kissam, however, made a telling admission, stating that he did not have Kowalski's file with him at the interview. Kowalski was amazed and could only reply that he had 'more or less envisioned you sitting there with my file in front of you so you could page through it and ask any questions that came to mind." Kissam then also admitted, 'I do not know where your file is; I think it's on Max's [that is, Griffin's] desk."

"Then, demonstrating inexplicable unfamiliarity with Kowalski's case, Kissam raised the subject of the LSAT by asking, 'What about the LSAT? You don't have an LSAT score. How come?" Kowalski explained that the examination was no longer offered in Braille or tape form, only in a large-type print version which he could not read. Furthermore, Kowalski continued, the Educational Testing Service, as a standard procedure, sent a letter with any visually impaired candidate's test results explaining that the results could not be reliably compared with the scores of sighted applicants. Kissam responded with the statement 'You say you don't have to take it because we waived it?' Kowalski, who was shocked at Kissam's lack of preparation, related that on May 3, 1977, former director of admissions Domer advised that it was university policy to waive the LSAT for visually impaired candidates. It was at this point that Aynsworth made her first major statement of the interview, maintaining that 'we need some scores in black and white to look at.' Kissam added, 'Yes, I think we do.' Kowalski asked Kissam what he would have him do, for he had not tried to avoid taking the exam; the university had waived it. Aynsworth, however, only reiterated that they needed 'something in black in white, some scores to look at.'"

The interview continued for some time in this ludicrous vein. The professors eventually asked Kowalski for high school test scores—as if these would indicate his present aptitude for the law. Professor Aynsworth worried that she would have to adapt her teaching procedures, and they all wondered how Kowalski could get his textbooks in a form he could use.

After the interview, Kowalski discussed with Griffin what had happened. Griffin told him the committee wanted to be sure he could handle the law curriculum because. Griffin said, 'I don't think the committee wants to admit you and cause you more problems on top of those you already have due to your handicap.' Kowalski asked whether he was talking about emotional problems or psychological trauma and associating these with his blindness. Griffin said yes and once more raised the question of his low grades when Kowalski was adjusting to diabetes. Griffin then worried about how Kowalski would get reader service (suggesting in the course of this that he marry his current reader), how Kowalski would get around the campus, and ended up suggesting that he apply to another school that had had blind law students before.

The law school delayed for another month, and it was only after Kowalski contacted the university's ombudsman and persuaded him to intercede on his behalf that he got the law school to make a decision. The law school rejected his application.

Who would expect anything else? The whole course of events leads up to this conclusion. The interview, the delays, the sort of questions put to Kowalski had only one motivation—the admissions committee did not believe a blind person could cope with law school and they personally were uncomfortable with the thought of having such a student. After appealing the committee's rejection (an appeal dealt with in a few minutes by the same committee), Kowalski filed his section 504 complaint. The lawyer's statement from which we have been quoting throughout this article concludes as follows:

"We respectfully submit that the evidence presented at the investigation overwhelmingly demonstrates that Kowalski was in actuality rejected by K.U. on account of his blindness. That evidence proves that the law school, while going through the motions, was predisposed to reject Kowalski to avoid what it perceived to be substantial changes in procedure and increased costs—both statutory irrelevancies."

The ways the law school violated the section 504 regulations were many; but leaving these to one side, Thomas Kowalski's experience with the University of Kansas contains almost every traditional element of discrimination against the blind. Many of these are the common experience of all minority groups—such as the school's discomfort at having a student around who is "different" or the evasions and delays that were used in the hope that the student would just give up and go away. But other elements are specific to the experience of blind persons. The "kindness" behind the denial of civil rights is one of them: The school didn't want to add any additional problems to the "psychological trauma" of Kowalski's blindness—a trauma they simply assumed must be present. They did not want to have Kowalski go through all the trials of law school and then end up with a degree he could not use—this was based on the belief that the only thing more useless than a blind law student is a blind lawyer. The school also created its own spectre of all the special adaptations that would be required to accommodate a blind student, despite that student's assurances that almost none would be necessary. Finally, when Kowalski-after more than a year of being put off—pressed for a decision on his application, school officials became hostile and regarded him as a problem; they felt he was too aggressive. Thus does "kindness" based on fear and condescension turn into something even less attractive.

These are the problems all of us are familiar with, that we have met time and again in nearly every aspect of our lives as blind persons. None of them has anything to do with lack of sight. But at last we are achieving statutory remedies for this traditional discrimination. In the Kowalski case, the University of Kansas, faced with what our attorney called "overwhelming" evidence, agreed to a settlement. The law school admitted Thomas Kowalski. It changed its application procedures, and it agreed to periodic monitoring by the Office for Civil Rights to ensure that its procedures are in compliance with section 504.

What was the role of the Federation in this case? That role is explained in a letter from Thomas Kowalski to Dick Edlund, NFB Treasurer and president of the NFB of Kansas. We conclude this article with part of that letter, written on August 26, 1978:

"DEAR MR. EDLUND: Allow me to take this opportunity to express in writing my sincerest appreciation for all the assistance, both financial and otherwise, which you and the Federation have given throughout the course of my section 504 complaint against the University of Kansas. Only as a direct result of your interest and, therefore, the interest of the National Federation of the Blind, was it made possible for me to pursue my law career objective. It was you, and you alone, who gave me an immediate response to my letters seeking assistance; and thus it is not erroneous to state that you are directly responsible for my being able to attend law school. This is a fact which, I assure you, I will not forget."

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THE LATEST RANKINGS IN THE ASSOCIATES CONTEST

We are making real progress in the Associates Program. This is the program, as most members know by now, for NFB members at large to contribute to the organization. The yearly dues to become a member at large are only one dollar, but if members at large wish to make a contribution beyond their dues, they become NFB Associates. The Associates Program picked up steam slowly. During its first five months (the program was first announced in the May 1978 Monitor) 883 persons became Associates, contributing $20,820. Then beginning October 1, we began the Associates contest, to see which Federationist would enroll the most Associates between October 1, 1978, and May 31, 1979. Cash prizes of $400, $300, and $200 will be awarded to the top three recruiters at next July's NFB Convention in Miami Beach.

The contest has really gotten things moving. In the March issue we listed the rankings as of December 31. 1978. At that time (after three months of the contest) 219 Associates had been enrolled, with total contributions of $4,364. In the two months since then, 210 new Associates have been added for a total of 429, with total contributions of $9,027.

It is not too late to pitch in and win this contest. The top two contenders have only enrolled 23 Associates. It will take some doing, but there are still two months to go. In order to be counted for the contest, the Associate forms must reach Dick Edlund or the National Office by the close of the working day on May 31, 1979.

Here then are the rankings, which show all Associates recruited between October 1, 1978, and February 28, 1979. The rankings are by the number of Associates enrolled. If two or more have recruited the same number of Associates, the ranking is according to the amount of money contributed. If there are still ties, the ranking is alphabetical. We also rank the states. Associates are attributed to a state if the Federationist who did the recruiting listed a state after his or her name on the line on the form for the NFB representative. If no state is listed there the state where the Associate resides is given credit. Finally, we list the states that have enrolled no Associates whatever. This list still contains 16 states-it should contain no states at all. The contest is meant to add some fun to the process, but the Associates Program is not just a game. Self-financing is the most serious and immediate challenge facing us as a movement. We either do it or we cease to exist.

Ranking of recruiters of NFB Associates, October 1, 1978 - February 28, 1979

Recruiter

Number of Associates

Money

State

1. JoAnn Giudicessi

23

$390

Mass.

2. Lloyd Jernigan

23

262

Mich.

3. Anna Katherine Jernigan

18

337

Md.

4. Fred Schroeder

16

335

Nebr.

5. Karen Mayry

14

206

S.Dak.

6. Kenneth Jernigan

13

1,540

Md.

7. Gail Flateau

13

305

Fla.

8. Jean Marie Moore

11

142

Colo.

9. Ralph Sanders

9

146

Md.

10. Lawrence Marcelino

7

132

Calif.

11. Marc Maurer

7

100

Md.

12. Herb Magin

7

70

Md.

13. Harvey Heagy

6

131

Tex.

14. Barbara Pierce

6

114

Ohio

15. Steve Machalow

6

105

Md.

16. Trish Miller

6

105

Md.

17. Jonathan May

6

90

Conn.

18. Judy Sanders

6

86

Md.

19. Mike Hingson

6

60

Mass.

20. E.U. Parker

5

145

Miss.

21. Al Evans

5

80

Mass.

22. Allen Harris

5

65

Mich.

23. Paul Burkhardt

5

50

Mass.

24. Joe Worthington

5

50

N.J.

25. Jim Omvig

4

70

Md.

26. Allen Sanderson

4

70

Alaska

27. Dick Edlund

4

45

Kans.

28. Terry Harris

4

40

Idaho

29. Larry Posont

4

40

Mich.

30. Al Maneki

3

70

Md.

31. Susan Stanzel

3

70

Kans.

32. Adrienne Asch

3

45

N.Y.

33. Jim Fox

3

30

Md.

34. Mrs. E. F. Lane

3

30

Kans.

35. Nina Palmer

3

30

N.Y.

36. Berneice Johnson

3

25

Iowa

37. Pat Eschbach

2

110

Ohio

38. Peggy Pinder

2

60

Conn.

39. Dr. and Mrs. Schroeder

2

60

Iowa

40. Alan Alcorn

2

50

Mo.

41. Catharine Amaral

2

35

R.I.

42. Norm Gardner

2

35

Idaho

43. Jim Glaza

2

35

Iowa

44. Diane McGeorge

2

35

Colo.

45. Ann Johnson

2

20

Iowa

46. Gary Mackenstadt

2

20

Mass.

47. Michael Rossi

2

20

N.H.

48. Clearman and Net Sutton

2

20

Md.

49. Ruth Swenson

2

20

Nebr.

50. Marshall Tucker

2

20

S.C.

51. Louie Vinson

2

20

Tex.

52. Carl Wyatt

2

20

Mo.

53. Sharon Omvig

2

15

Md.

54. Julie Dedan

1

200

Colo.

55. Neil Mitchell

1

100

Calif.

56. Cecile Paice

1

100

Mass.

57. Maxine Bohrer

1

50

Kans.

58. Lucy Carpenter

1

50

N.Y.

59. Diane Corson

1

50

Iowa

60. Mrs. Ray Halverson

1

50

Idaho

61. Jim Sofka

1

50

N.J.

62. Sandy Tulley

1

50

Tex.

63. Evelyn Weckerly

1

50

Mich.

64. John Cheadle

1

28

Nebr.

65. Associated Blind of Greater Brockton

1

25

Mass.

66. Clarita Golender

1

25

Md.

67. Beverly Hudson

1

25

Colo.

68. Don Hudson

1

25

Colo.

69. Don McConnell

1

25

D.C.

70. Ray McGeorge

1

25

Colo.

71. Don Morris

1

25

Md.

72. Louise Orick

1

25

Mo.

73. Mary Ellen Reihing

1

25

Nebr.

74. Georgina Silva

1

25

Calif.

75. Dorothy Singleton

1

25

Tex.

76. Dorothy Steers

1

25

Mich.

77. Franklin Van Vliet

1

25

N.H.

78. Ramona Walhof

1

25

Iowa

79. Doris Willoughby

1

25

Iowa

80. Mike Barber

1

10

Iowa

81. Steve Benson

1

10

Ill.

82. Jacquilyn Billey

1

10

Conn.

83. Jim Bowen

1

10

Fla.

84. Ken Brackett

1

10

R.I.

85. Neil Butler

1

10

Iowa

86. Shelia Byrd

1

10

S.C.

87. Don Cooper

1

10

Nebr.

88. Gail Cowart

1

10

Calif.

89. Carol Crosby

1

10

Tex.

90. Glenn Crosby

1

10

Tex.

91. Peg Frazee

1

10

Ill.

92. Mary Gibbons

1

10

Va.

93. Myrtle Golanis

1

10

Utah

94. Deanne Gueblaoui

1

10

Md.

95. Andrew Hoffman

1

10

Ohio

96. Mrs. Martin Howe

1

10

Wisc.

97. Tommie Johnson

1

10

Ga.

98. Dick Jones

1

10

Idaho

99. Sharon Kelly

1

10

N.J.

100. Budd Little

1

10

Idaho

101. Ray Lowder

1

10

Md.

102. Nancy Lynn

1

10

Fla.

103. Ron Metenyi

1

10

Md.

104. Barbara Nabutovsky

1

10

Fla.

105. Joe Paxson

1

10

Calif.

106. Bob Ray

1

10

Iowa

107. Cecelia Ross

1

10

Ill.

108. Harold Snider

1

10

D.C.

109. Jimmy Sparks

1

10

Ark.

110. Hazel Staley

1

10

N.C.

111. Stamford Chapter

1

10

Conn.

112. Ethel Untermyer

1

10

Ill.

113. Suzanne Whalen

1

10

Tex.

114. Curtis Willoughby

1

10

Iowa

115. Jim Willows

1

10

Calif.

Unknown recruiters

64

1,308

Totals

429

$9,027

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STATE CONVENTION REPORTS: NEW HAMPSHIRE, MASSACHUSETTS, MICHIGAN, OHIO, AND ALASKA

We have received reports of several state affiliate conventions that took place in the fall of 1978-in New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Michigan, and Ohio-and one convention that took place in January of this year. This one was the very first convention of the National Federation of the Blind of Alaska.

The report of the 1978 convention of the NFB of New Hampshire comes from Ed Meskys, who reports that over 100 attended the meeting, which took place in Manchester September 22 to 24. President Jernigan represented the national organization. He was interviewed the day before the convention on the local public television station; he participated throughout the convention; and he spoke to a capacity audience at the banquet Saturday night.

Much of the convention was devoted to discussions of the affiliate's project to create a commission for the blind in the state. There was a panel discussion on this as well as a resolution. There were also reports from officials of the state blind services and vocational rehabilitation departments and a demonstration of new technology for the blind. On Saturday, New Hampshire Federationists increased the state's contributions to the PAC Plan by over $100. In all, it was a very successful meeting. Officers elected for the next year are: Frank Snee, president; Franklin VanVliet, first vice-president; Teresa Herron, second vice-president; Ed Meskys, secretary; Bill Coleman, treasurer; and board members, Helen Hutchins, Edward Vachon, and Fred McGonis.

The NFB of Ohio held its 1978 convention October 13 to 15, in Toledo, as reported by Paul Dressell. Both Ralph Sanders and Dick Edlund were present representing the National Office. Doris Barcomb of the Bureau of Services for the Blind spoke about her upgraded program. Members of the state advisory committee expressed concern at the lack of Braille or cassette material prior to their meetings, and Ms. Barcomb promised to look into this. A noted ophthalmologist from Toledo discussed advances in eye care and prevention of blindness. The NFB-Lorain County won the affiliate award for the last year, and Ginny Coorey and Evelyn Beers shared the award for sighted Federationist of the year.

On Sunday, officers for the next two years were elected as follows: Robert Eschbach, president; Ray Creech, first vice-president; John Knall, second vice-president; Paul Dressell, secretary; George Gilbert, treasurer; and new board members, Barbara Pierce and Mildred Harrison.

Al and Mary Lou Phillips send a report of the 1978 convention of the NFB of Michigan, which took place in Saginaw, October 13 to 15. Enthusiasm was very high due to the accomplishments of the past year, including the establishment of a Michigan Commission for the Blind. Not only was President Jernigan present, but he was accompanied by his wife, Anna Katherine, and by his brother Lloyd and his wife, who live in Michigan. Also present was Connie McCraw from Maryland.

Preceding the convention, on Friday afternoon, an employment symposium was held, presented by Federationists and people from the community. Much of Saturday was devoted to the new Commission, including an address by Dr. Jernigan and presentations by four of the five members of the Commission board and many of its staff. There were also panels on low vision services, civil service, libraries, and radio reading programs. At the banquet Saturday night, several legislators were present for Dr. Jernigan's address. Charters were presented to the new Kalamazoo Chapter and the MIO Chapter.

On Sunday, Steve Handschu chaired a panel on the organized blind movement and its relationship to other organizations of handicapped persons.

The 25th annual convention of the NFB of Massachusetts, as reported by Rosamond M. Critchley, was one of the best and certainly the biggest, with 219 registered and 267 attending the banquet. The convention was held October 13 to 15 in Chicopee.

Saturday morning began with a keynote address by Peggy Pinder, who with Jim Gashel represented the National Office. The afternoon was devoted to panels on employment, mobility (with Federationist Jana Sims as a special guest from Missouri), Braille, and daily living skills.

Mistress of ceremonies at the banquet was Anita O'Shea, former state president and national board member. The Jacobus tenBroek Award was presented to John Ferguson and the Employer of the Year Award to Berkey Photo Film Corporation. The speaker was Jim Gashel. Sunday afternoon was devoted to a long and forthright discussion of the Massachusetts Commission for the Blind's proposed Five-Year Plan, with Commissioner Matava and one of her staff fielding questions and offering explanations.

The weekend of January 12-13, 1979, marked the first annual convention of the NFB of Alaska. It was held in Anchorage, with participants from Fairbanks, Juneau, and Anchorage. Ralph Sanders was the national representative.

Pat Young, deputy director of the Alaska State Department of Vocational Rehabilitation, spoke of past progress and future goals, with particular emphasis on shared goals for the only rehabilitation center in the state and the forthcoming battles to gain for a blind vendor the cafeteria in a new federal building in Anchorage. Jim Welch, director of the Louise Rude Sensory Impairment Center, gave an inspirational speech on social attitudes. Mitch Gravo, assistant to the city manager of Anchorage, gave a progress report on efforts to obtain the use of a municipal building for the Sensory Impairment Center. And Mary Jennings, regional librarian, brought the convention up to date on services and new equipment at the library.

At the banquet Saturday night, Sandy Sanderson, president of the NFB of Alaska, spoke in warm appreciation to Ralph Sanders for his dedication in coming from Baltimore to Anchorage in the coldest part of the year to join in the festivities.

Newly elected officers are Sandy Sanderson, president; Louise Rude, first vice-president; Darryl Nather, second vice-president; Euny Tengberg, secretary-treasurer; and Dr. Lee Hagmeier, new member of the board and chairman of the legislative committee.  

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ON THE ROAD TO SENEGAL: THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE INTERNATIONAL FEDERATION OF THE BLIND

The 1979 General Assembly of the International Federation of the Blind will be held the fourth week of July in Dakar, Senegal. Senegal is on the westernmost tip of Africa, and Dakar, its capital, right on the Atlantic. Senegal is also, for those who followed the television series Roots, the home of Kunta Kinte. Today, however, it is a country that is a mixture of traditional African culture and modern tourist facilities. The IFB general assembly will be held in one of these modern facilities, the International Conference Center, near the Yoff International Airport.

To aid Federationists who would like to attend the IFB meetings (at which NFB Second Vice President Rami Rabby will be our official delegate), we have arranged a package tour which includes airfare, hotel accommodations, and other items for a total price of $900 per person.

The IFB meetings will be from July 20 to 26, but to fit into the schedule of the air carrier (which does not run every day) the tour group will leave New York on July 14 (arriving in Dakar the next morning) and leave Dakar again July 28 between 1:00 and 3:00 a.m. This will allow some extra time to experience what to most will be a new culture and part of the world. The $900 includes the following:

• Rountrip air transportation including meals, via Air Afrique.

• Twelve nights accommodation (double occupancy) at the Meridien Bungalow Colony, within walking distance of the Conference Center.

• Continental breakfast each morning.

• Transportation from the airport to the hotel and back again.

• All hotel taxes, service charges, tips, and luggage handling.

• A half-day sightseeing tour.

• Scheduled shuttle service to and from the Conference Center.

• Final information on the program, mailing of tickets, and other tour information.

Among other possibilities, the Senegal Tourist Office can arrange a "Meet the People" program which would include dining in the homes of Dakar residents to get a real taste of the country and culture. Some of the available excursions are a village festival tour (4 hours, $21), a shopping tour (4 hours, $9), and a tour of the Goree Island slave prison (3 hours, $10).

If you want to be part of this package tour to Senegal (and, of course, we have not mentioned the meetings of the IFB, which win be the main attraction), here is what to do: To reserve a place, you must send a $100 deposit by May 1. The balance of $800 will be due before June 15. Both the deposit and the balance should be made payable to: National Federation of the Blind, and sent to the NFB National Office. 1800 Johnson Street, Baltimore, Maryland 21230.

If you wish to visit Senegal, there are a number of preliminary steps that must be taken. You need a visa for starters. If you are near Washington, D.C., or New York, you can go to the Senegalese Embassy (in D.C.) or the United Nations (in New York). Take your passport, three photographs of yourself, and $4.25. Or you can send a self-addressed, stamped envelope along with a request for a visa application to: Embassy of Senegal, 2112 Wyoming Avenue, Northwest, Washington. D.C. 20008. When you have filled out the application, send it along with your passport, the three photos, and $4.25 back to the Embassy. (Instructions will also come with the application.)

Then to enter the country and to get back in this country, you must have an international smallpox vaccination certificate (the form is available from any passport office) showing that you have been vaccinated no fewer than eight days before your arrival in Senegal and not more than three years before. You must also have a yellow fever certificate valid six days prior to your arrival and not more than ten years old. Cholera shots are recommended; they are required if you enter Senegal from an area infected with cholera. Anti-malaria tablets (chloroquin) are also recommended. These should be taken starting 15 days prior to arrival, all during your stay, and for four weeks after you leave. It is also advised that you have gamma globulin injections to prevent hepatitis infection. Finally, guide dogs may not be taken along. This is due to a U.S. Department of Agriculture regulation stating that any dog coming to this country from Africa must be quarantined for 30 days.

Having said all this, we again recommend that you consider attending if you possibly can. The IFB has 58 affiliates, giving you a chance to talk to blind persons from every part of the world. And the brochures sent to us by the Senegal Tourist Office show it to be a country of spectacular and unspoiled beauty.

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RECIPE OF THE MONTH

by MARC MAURER

ONION DIP

Ingredients

2 8-ounce packages cream cheese
1 pint sour cream
Dash of tabasco 
1/2 teaspoon thyme  
1 package Lipton's onion soup mix
1 large onion
Butter

Warm the cream cheese to room temperature and combine it with the sour cream, tabasco, and thyme. Chop the onion into fine pieces and saute until tender in a generous amount of butter. Add both the sauteed onion and the sauteing butter to the cheese mixture and add the package of onion soup mix. Mix throughly, adding milk to thin, if needed. The dip is better if made ahead of time.

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MONITOR MINIATURES

We remind Monitor readers that the address of the National Office of the Federation is now 1800 Johnson Street, Baltimore, Maryland 21230. It is an easy address to remember and should, over the years, become as familiar as was the Shasta Road address in Berkeley or the Randolph Hotel. The present location is far better equipped and more convenient than any of the past ones and should result in faster and better service to Federationists.

In the future, we hope to offer entirely new kinds of service as we develop and expand our concept of the National Center for the Blind, which is what the new facility is called. In the meantime, the 1800 Johnson Street address should be used for most kinds of correspondence. Letters for the NFB President should be sent there. Everything to do with Monitor subscriptions should also go to this address, as well as orders for NFB materials. So remember the address: National Federation of the Blind, 1800 Johnson Street, Baltimore, Maryland 21230; telephone (301) 659-9314.

The NFB of Vermont will hold its spring convention on April 21, 1979, at the Sheraton Motor Inn, Burlington, Vermont. The speakers scheduled include the governor, the secretary of human services, and others. Anyone wishing room accommodations should contact Alan Dalton, 101 Church Street, Apartment 410, Burlington, Vermont 05401 as soon as possible. The convention is a one-day affair.

At its January 21 meeting, the New York City Chapter of the NFB of New York State elected the following board of directors for the next two-year period: Rami Rabby, president; Suzi Spigle, first vice-president; Rita Chernow, second vice-president; Gilda Finazzo, secretary; Esther Hertz, treasurer; and Rosalee Larosa, David Arocho, and Adrienne Asch, board members.

In late February, Federationist Harold Snider was elected to another two-year term on the board of the National Committee-Arts for the Handicapped. The NCAH is an educational affiliate of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C., and is the only group with a congressional mandate to promote art programs for the handicapped.

Dan Keller, president of the Warrensburg, Missouri, chapter, wrote to Dr. Jernigan as follows: "All blind persons fishing for solutions to their problems should join the Federation. We will minnowmize their fears about blindness."

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