THE BRAILLE MONITOR
Vol. 41, No. 2 February, 1998
Barbara Pierce, Editor
Published in inkprint,
in Braille, and on cassette by
THE NATIONAL FEDERATION OF THE BLIND
MARC MAURER, PRESIDENT
1800 Johnson Street
Baltimore, Maryland 21230
NFB Net BBS: (612) 696-1975
Web Page address: http://www.nfb.org
Letters to the President,
subscription requests, orders for NFB literature,
articles for the Monitor, and letters to the Editor
should be sent to the National Office.
Monitor subscriptions cost the Federation about twenty-five dollars per year. Members are invited, and non-members are requested, to cover the subscription cost. Donations should be made payable to National Federation of the Blind and sent to:
National Federation of
1800 Johnson Street
Baltimore, Maryland 21230
THE NATIONAL FEDERATION OF THE BLIND
IS NOT AN ORGANIZATION
SPEAKING FOR THE BLINDIT IS THE BLIND SPEAKING FOR THEMSELVES
by Barbara Pierce
Mr. Magoo, Disney, and the National Federation of the Blind
by Marc Maurer
Watch for Details
Impact of Braille Reading Skills on Employment,
Income, Education, and Reading Habits
by Ruby Ryles Ph.D.
Family's Fight for an Appropriate Education
by Jim Marks
Perceptions About Blindness by the Hundreds
by E. Randy Cox
Biblical Stereotypes of the Blind
by Elizabeth J. Browne
by Kevin D. Ledford
to Missouri's Governor
by Kevan C. Worley
Blindness, Couple Sees Joys of Life
by Darci Smith
and NFB Answers
by Betty Woodward
and From the Convention Hotel
by Norma Crosby
Museum's Hands-on Exhibits Let
Visitors See Dinos, Reach for the Stars
by Kelly Melhart
by Marc Maurer
Copyright 1998 National Federation of the Blind
[PHOTO/DESCRIPTION: President Maurer stands with the Governor of Maryland, who is holding an NFB mug. An NFB banner is visible behind them. CAPTION: The third annual Maryland Technology Showcase took place December 3 to 5, 1997, in the sprawling Baltimore Convention Center. Technology producers from across the country and around the world staffed booths in which they demonstrated the newest technology available to the public. The Showcase began with a breakfast hosted by the state of Maryland and attended by a number of dignitaries. During this event President Maurer (right) presented Governor Parris N. Glendening (left) with the Champion of Jobline 1997 Award in recognition of Maryland's being the first state to offer this employment information service to the public. Following the presentation, Governor Glendening, trailed by a number of representatives of the press, toured the Showcase. The National Federation of the Blind staffed a prominent booth during the entire three-day technology fair. Federation representatives demonstrated America's Jobline, the telephone-accessible listing of job openings, and discussed this exciting new technology with members of the press and public.]
by Barbara Pierce
We recently received a request to retract a statement made in the November, 1997, issue of the Braille Monitor. If we become aware that an error has been made, we are, of course, eager to correct it as soon as possible. If, on the other hand, we believe that our information is accurate, we are equally emphatic in our refusal to retract. In any case, the lead story in the November issue was a report on Tom and Mary Ann Sember's lawsuit against the Braille Monitor and its resounding failure in the Pennsylvania courts. Early in the article the following text appears: "Larry Israel, now President and CEO of Telesensory, Inc., has been quoted as commenting that the Federation would learn its lesson this time around."
On December 15 I received the following e-mail letter from Mr. Israel:
In the November, 1997, article regarding the Sember lawsuit, you say that I have "been quoted as commenting that the Federation would learn its lesson this time around."
I have never made such a statement, publicly or privately, nor even any statement which could reasonably be interpreted as saying or implying that. It does not reflect any opinion I have ever held about the Federation. The alleged quotation suggests hostility or animosity on my part towards the NFB, which is untrue and not an accurate representation of my opinions.
I regret that you have seen fit to publish this unattributed, unsubstantiated, and untrue quotation and hope that you will publish this statement denying its truth. I also would have been pleased to provide you with a statement of denial prior to your publication had you called me to verify the alleged quotation or at least to determine if I had any comment about it.
Very truly yours,
Larry Israel, President/CEO
The source for the quotation, who did not wish to be identified, has repeatedly confirmed the accuracy of the statement he says he heard Mr. Israel make. We leave it to Monitor readers to draw their own conclusions from the discrepancy.
[PHOTO/CAPTION: Marc Maurer]
Of Mr. Magoo, Disney, and the National Federation of the Blind
by Marc Maurer
At the 1997 convention of the National Federation of the Blind, a resolution was adopted which demanded that The Walt Disney Company refrain from producing a live-action film featuring the character Mr. Magoo. Mr. Magoo is a bumbling, stumbling, idiotic character who makes supposedly humorous mistakes because of his inability to see. As soon as he dons his glasses, he is rational and capable. Much of the time he refuses to wear his spectacles, and his lack of vision causes him to make foolish mistakes which (according to the writers of the movie) are funny. The misunderstandings of blindness caused by the Magoo character have bedeviled the lives of thousands of blind people.
At the time of the convention I wrote to Michael Eisner, President of The Walt Disney Company, asking him to come to the convention to discuss the matter. Not long after the convention a senior vice president at Disney indicated that he wanted to talk with us about the Magoo film. In August this vice president, accompanied by one of his associates, came to the National Center for the Blind. Our initial conversation was tentative, but fairly quickly we moved to substance.
A second meeting occurred with The Walt Disney Company's representatives in late September, and this meeting was followed by many, many telephone conversations, which continued until Thanksgiving.
As our discussions with Disney were getting underway last August, a Washington-based lobbyist and representative of the film industry told one of our members that there would be no changes in the Magoo film, that there would be no discussion about the presentation of blindness with major movie-making companies, and that there would be no result for the National Federation of the Blind from our challenge to the Disney company except scorn and ridicule. This movie industry representative told us that The Walt Disney Company is one of the principal shapers of public opinion in America. The National Federation of the Blind hasn't got a chance. People will think what Walt Disney wants them to think. They won't pay any attention to the blind, he told us. He seemed to think that we should give up, that we should offer an apology, and that we should leave the realm of public opinion to the experts.
When the Disney officials came to the National Center for the Blind, we repeated the conversation and asked if they had any comment. They responded that they had no wish to antagonize. They had come in good faith, they said, and they intended to discuss the substance of the matters we had raised.
During the next few months we offered The Walt Disney Company many suggestions, and we urged the company to portray blind people more accurately in film. The officials of The Walt Disney Company that visited the National Center for the Blind have come to recognize that the National Federation of the Blind has a base of knowledge and understanding much broader than they had ever anticipated. They have also come to respect our capacity and our point of view. They decided to add a message to the end of the filma message which makes an effort to mitigate the damage caused by the negative portrayal of the blind that is an unstated but inherent part of the character Mr. Magoo. The statement says: "The preceding film is not intended as an accurate portrayal of blindness or poor eyesight. Blindness or poor eyesight does not imply an impairment of one's ability to be employed in a wide range of jobs, raise a family, perform important civic duties, or engage in a well-rounded life. All people with disabilities deserve a fair chance to live and work without being impeded by prejudice."
Between the time of the adoption of our resolution in July and the release of the Magoo film in December, much interest was generated by the activity of the Federation challenging Disney's production of the Magoo movie. Thousands of newspaper articles reported the Federation's protest. Hundreds of radio stations carried interviews, and television stations coast-to-coast reported stories of the Federation's opposition. For weeks one of the top stories in entertainment circles was the Federation's objection to Magoo. I participated in a number of interviews, including the nationally televised evening news programs, "20/20" and "Public Eye."
Some of the commentary about Magoo was favorable, and some of it was not. Sometimes we were understood, and sometimes we were not. There were even those who attempted to make of us the butt of their jokes. When Barbara Walters of the "20/20" program attempted to make fun of the Federation for protesting the misrepresentation of Magoo, Federationists in Indiana picketed the local ABC television station. However, whether the coverage was complimentary or critical, the story persistednot only for weeks, but for months. The blind wanted to be treated with respect, and The Walt Disney Company wanted to make blindness synonymous with inferiority and humor.
Some people said we didn't have the wisdom to laugh at ourselves. Others, such as Bryant Gumbel, host of CBS's nationally-televised "Public Eye," recognized that we were not complaining about humor but about misrepresentation dressed up to look like humor. Here are some excerpts from the interview broadcast on "Public Eye." Bryant Gumbel introduces the topic. The interviewer is Bernard Goldberg. Of the seven people interviewed, three are from the National Federation of the Blind; one, Hank Saperstein, is the Executive Producer of the Magoo film; one is an advocate for those with muscle disorders; one represents the National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance; and one is an advocate for stutterers. Here are excerpts from the interview:
Bryant Gumbel: These days, no matter what the joke may be, it is harder and harder to make it to the punch line without offending someone. All of which has left us wondering about how thin-skinned the society would become. Our Bernard Goldberg went looking for some answers with an old character named Mr. Magoo.
Bernie Goldberg: He's been part of Americana for about fifty years. Nearsighted, stumbling, bumbling Mr. Magoo. And now, coming to theaters near you, the new Mr. Magoo, and this time it's no cartoon. That's Leslie Neilson playing Magoo. It's supposed to be a comedy, but not everybody's laughing.
Marc Maurer: We don't think blind is necessarily beautiful, but we don't think it's a good idea to make fun of people who are blind.
Goldberg: Marc Maurer is president of the National Federation of the Blind. He thinks Mr. Magoo is a menace to blind people. What would you say to the producers of Mr. Magoo?
Maurer: I think that they should consider the damage that they're causing. They should consider scrapping the film.
Goldberg: Never mind that Magoo isn't blind, that he's nearsighted. To Marc Maurer that's not the point.
Maurer: Magoo is not blind. We have heard that over and over. But when he's not able to see, he's an idiot. The message is sent. If you can see, you're all right. If you can't, you're not.
Joanne Wilson: My parents, they didn't know anything about blindness.
Goldberg: Joanne Wilson runs a center for the blind in Louisiana.
Wilson: All they knew is they saw me as a little child do some of the Magoo things. I mean, I tripped over my brother in the doorway; I ran my tricycle off a flight of stairs. You know, they saw me doing some of these things, and the only image they knew of blindness was the Mr. Magoo cartoon. And so it made me feel really embarrassed about being blind.
Barbara Pierce: Mr. Magoo goes around totally clueless about what's happening in his world.
Goldberg: Barbara Pierce is editor of the Braille Monitor magazine. She had some sight as a child and remembers watching Magoo on television.
Pierce: Mr. Magoo gives people the wrong idea of what it's like to be blind.
Goldberg: Yeah, but Magoo isn't a documentary; it's a comedy thing.
Pierce: It shapes ideas and understandings because that's what entertainment's all about.
Goldberg: (cutting her off) andand what? We watch Mr. Magoo, and we say blind people are a bunch of losers because they're always bumping into things? Is that what you're saying?
Pierce: We have...
Goldberg: (cutting her off again) Who says that?
Maurer: Mr. Magoo is a powerful image (Bernie Goldberg groans) and the image is one that says if you are blind you have no capacity.
Hank Saperstein: I think America better re-examine what's happened to our sense of humor.
Goldberg: Hank Saperstein is one of television's pioneers. He was part of the team that produced classics like "The Lone Ranger" and "Lassie." But he's best known as Mr. Magoo's dad. His company produced the first Magoo cartoons, and now he's executive producer of the movie.
Saperstein: I think that they're oversensitive. I think that they're making mountains out of molehills.
Goldberg: You see, that's what some blind people are upset about.
He's walking on a high wire, and he doesn't even know it.
Saperstein: But he doesn't fall off. He doesn't lose. The bad guy loses. The bad guy will fall off. And that's a lesson. Magoo's a winner, winner, winner, winner all the way. Two hundred films are there to prove it.
Goldberg: So what's your message to those people?
Saperstein: Lighten up. Get real. Sit back and laugh. It's a cartoon.
Goldberg: You have no sympathy with their argument.
Saperstein: I resent their argument.
Goldberg: And in these sensitive times Mr. Magoo isn't the only pop culture icon under attack. Remember the Nutty Professor? Guess which group doesn't like him.
Nancy Marciello: It made me angry, it made me upset...
Goldberg: She's Nancy Marciello, and she represents a group called the National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance.
Marciello: There were a lot of very negative stereotypes about fat people, in particular the scene around the dinner table. That in particular perpetuates the idea that people are fat because they're gorging themselves all the time, which of course is ridiculous.
Goldberg: Your complaint is that fat is somehow funny in American popular culture?
Marciello: And it's beyond funny. It's okay in our culture to discriminate against fat people.
Goldberg: And the Nutty Professor contributed to that?
Marciello: Because people have the mindset that fat people are fat because they eat too much, and it's their own fault.
Goldberg: That's not true?
Marciello: That is not true. I...
Goldberg: Those people aren't fat because they eat too much. And that's not all folks.
Ira Zimmerman: Let's try and educate the public about being more tolerant.
Goldberg: Ira Zimmerman is an advocate for stutterers. Over the years he's taken Warner Brothers to task. Yes, over Porky Pig.
Zimmerman: Kids made fun of my stuttering, and a few of them called me Porky Pig.
Goldberg: Look, if you had a magic wand, what would you do with Porky Pig?
Zimmerman: Probably roast him.
Saperstein: When do we stop this nonsense? At what point do we not let self-appointed do-gooders become the censors of free expression and a free society?
Goldberg: Self-appointed do-gooders?
Saperstein: I don't want to risk any blind person, fat person, short person, tall person, lame person, autistic person, speech-impaired, height-impaired, or any other one telling a nation what it can make as movies, television shows, and plays.
Goldberg: That's very politically incorrect. Very politically incorrect.
Saperstein: Hey, you're talking about the people that threw the tea overboard in the Boston harbor. You want to talk about political correctness, that's this country. We're politically incorrect. That's how we got to be where we are.
Goldberg: Well, there are stutterers...
Saperstein: How 'bout Disney naming the movie Snow White and the Seven Height-Impaired Pals? I mean, how far do we carry this nonsense?
Goldberg: It's a thin line between being sensitive and being oversensitive, and how you see it depends on which side of that line you're standing. You don't think you're being too sensitive about this?
Pierce: No, we see the level of damage that happens because of this. We've been through it before; we're bracing to go through it again. We don't think we are being absurd about it.
Goldberg: I'm not gonna kick a blind person after watching Magoo.
Maurer: But if you're asked if you want to have a blind person serve as mechanic on your automobile....
Goldberg: Well, you know what, no offense, I don't. I don't. I don't even like the guys who can see working on my automobile. (Pierce groans.)
Maurer: Precisely what you mean is that, if you're blind, you're gonna be less capable than if you're sighted, and that's the presentation of Magoo.
Goldberg: And this war on Magoo is going international. The Federations for the Blind in Great Britain and Germany have also weighed in against Magoo, threatening to boycott the film.
Saperstein: This is kookomania here that's going on with deciding now what should be made, what the public can be exposed to. The public will decide, as usual. They will either buy the tickets or they won't.
Gumbel: Bernie, I can hear a lot of folks listen to Mr. Saperstein, and applauding his point of view. He calls it kookomania, he calls it nonsense, he tells these people to lighten up. Would he feel the same way if the jokes were about his ethnicity?
Goldberg: Well, you're onto something, and I think it's called human nature. If I slip on a banana peel, that's not funny. That's a tragedy. If you slip on a banana peel, it's a riot. I mean, we're all sensitive to one degree or another about ourselves. But what are we supposed to do about it? No nearsighted jokes, no fat jokes, can't have any bald jokes, no short people jokes, no women jokes, I mean, what happens next? Some guy comes down and says, "Why did the chicken cross the road?" and we have the chicken lobby filing a complaint?
Gumbel: But it also depends on whose ox is being gored here; look, I don't like jokes about black folks. I can assume you don't like jokes about Jewish people. Can you not appreciate that for people who are blind, or heavy, or short, or stutterers, or whatever, that for them that is the equivalent of our race, our religion, our ethnicity?
Goldberg: Yeah. I think that all the people who were in that story are not only nice people, but sincere people. But if we continue down this road, you could make the case that we're gonna have a very polite America. And I put the word polite in quotation marks, but we're also gonna have a very bland America. Maybe we just need to, as Saperstein says, just lighten up a little.
Interviews such as this were seen by hundreds of thousands of people all over the country. The work we are doing came to the attention of many people who would not otherwise have been aware of Federation activities. Perhaps the people who most frequently applauded our efforts to curb the impact of Mr. Magoo were the parents of blind children. One letter from a parent of a blind child says:
I am a father/daddy to my beautiful daughter that is twenty-one months old and blind.
Tonight I was watching the TV, and the CBS program "Public Eye" had a segment about some blind adults advocating against the cartoon strip "Mr. Magoo." To say the least, I felt very insulted by the man that writes the script for that cartoon for the insensitivity he has to people who are blind. I was very impressed and happy to hear the blind people on the program "Public Eye" speak against such an uneducated and insensitive man and the cartoon. The comments of the producer of the Magoo film were very appalling. I felt like calling the TV show and letting him know what I think!
My family has felt the effects of such insensitive humor about people who are blind. Society as a whole, from our experience, is very uneducated and sometimes very insensitive to what it is really like to be blind or, for that matter, to have any disability. We experience it daily, whether at the grocery store, department store, or strolling in the neighborhood. Believe me, it still does not stop us from going out with our precious daughter, but it is very challenging sometimes. We can't educate everyone, but we sometimes try to explain to people because it is in our heart to do so. Being blind is not what they see on TV.
I'm thankful to see you take a stand against this insensitive cartoon, and if there is any advocating you have that we can assist with, please feel free to let me know.
Our twenty-one-month old daughter is our miracle girl. She is a preemie; she started at one pound twelve ounces, but now weighs twenty-one pounds. She is blind due to retinopathy of prematurity. Thank you for your effort and understanding.
This letter from the father of a blind girl is one of many that have come to the National Federation of the Blind. If there had been nothing else positive about our effort to modify the Magoo movie, our introduction to hundreds of parents of blind children would have made it worthwhile. However, there are additional benefits. We have come to know some of the senior officials in The Walt Disney Company. They have indicated that they will be willing to work with us on the proper presentation of blind people in film in the future, and they have stated that they want to help us distribute information about blindness and the work we do.
The work of the Federation is serious business. We must do what we can to ensure that blindness is not misunderstood. This undertaking is not always simple or straightforward. Subtlety is sometimes required to achieve our goals. We must be willing to take advantage of relationships with those who began by being at odds with us. We must take every road and every path that give opportunity to the blind. With respect to Magoo, I believe we have achieved more progress than any of us would have anticipated; and I believe that we are only at the beginning.
Watch for Details
From the Editor: Last December a federal court jury handed down a decision that included what may well have been one of the largest monetary penalties in history in a case in which no personal injury was at issue. The suit was brought by Independent Living Aids (ILA) against Maxi-Aids, two vendors in the blindness field. Preparing a report on this important verdict will be a massive undertakingthe transcript of the trial is over 3,400 pages. For the moment Monitor readers must be content with a press release announcing the bare facts circulated by ILA. Here it is:
Jury Decides in ILA's Favor in Lawsuit
and Grants $2,400,000.06 Verdict Against Maxi-Aids
In an action brought in Federal Court by Independent Living Aids (ILA), a jury of five women and four men decided unanimously that for ten years Maxi-Aids and its owners and officers, Elliott and Mitchell Zaretsky, had willfully infringed on ILA's copyrighted catalogs and its ILA trademark and had engaged in unfair business practices and deceptive advertising. In addition to finding in favor of ILA on two federal counts and two New York State counts, the jury awarded damages of $2,400,000.06, and Federal Judge Arthur D. Spatt advised that he would also consider requiring Maxi-Aids to repay ILA's legal expenses. The six-cent figure was tacked on symbolically, to reflect recognition of ILA's complaint that, within a two-year period, Maxi-Aids had won at least five bids from government agencies for Braille and low-vision watches by beating ILA's bids by six cents.
[PHOTO/CAPTION: Ruby Ryles]
The Impact of Braille Reading Skills on Employment,
Income, Education, and Reading Habits
by Ruby Ryles Ph.D.
From the Editor: As a society we have become increasingly alarmed in recent years about the growing illiteracy rate among our children and young adults. This increase is occurring, of course, at the very time in our nation's economic life when the need for true literacy is increasing. Today's jobs require much more skill and technical expertise than ever before, and unskilled and manual-labor jobs are on the decline. In response to this national crisis, literacy programs are springing up everywhere, and both governmental and private-sector programs are being created and publicized. Just about everyone agrees that increased literacy means increased opportunity and a better chance for a real share in the American dream.
For blind people improved Braille literacy has been the focus. It has always seemed self-evident that our chance for success and to share in the American dream increases in direct proportion to our ability to read and write effectively.
However, while our common sense has told us that blind people must master Braille to succeed, supposed common sense has also told many in the field of special education that such skills are not important for the blind and that tapes or computers or large print or magnification devices can be just as effective as (or maybe even more effective than) reading and writing Braille.
Now we have a chance to take a look at this important question, not merely applying common sense and using anecdotal experience, but examining empirical data derived from an objective, professional study. The results are not only interesting but enlightening and instructive. We can only hope that an entirely new body of knowledge is emergingdata that once and for all can settle the question of the critical need for Braille for all blind people who cannot read print easily, rapidly, and steadily.
This study was conducted several years ago by Dr. Ruby Ryles, now head of the Orientation and Mobility master's degree program at Louisiana Tech University. This was her first major study examining the effectiveness of Braille (since its completion she has done a much more extensive study of Braille-literacy skills). The following article was peer-reviewed and published in the May/June, 1996, issue of the Journal of Visual Impairment and Blindness.
Dr. Ryles began her professional career as a first and second grade teacher of sighted children. She specialized in reading and taught sighted children for nine years.
Then her son Dan was born blind. In order to help Dan more effectively, Dr. Ryles returned to school to specialize in the education of blind children. Armed with these new credentials and her practical experience as the mother of a blind child, she worked for a number of years teaching blind children in Arkansas, Alaska, and Washington State.
Because of her personal experience as a mother and teacher and her increasing understanding of the problems faced by blind adults, Dr. Ryles began to recognize the need for a new kind of training and preparation for teachers of the blind. She recognized the need for teacher training dealing with attitudes about blindness and stressing the need for Braille literacy. She began to understand that this very specific teacher training must occur if blind children are to have the chance to develop into confident, competent, and successful blind adults. Therefore, she enrolled in a doctoral program in special education at the University of Washington.
While she was working on her doctorate, Dr. Ryles conducted her first major study of Braille versus print for partially blind people. She did not consider the reason or reasons for the drastic decline in the use of Braille in America. Rather she was interested in obtaining objective information about the effectiveness of Braille: specifically, were economic and other benefits a predictable and measurable outcome when people had been taught and were using Braille?
In order to qualify for the study, candidates had to be congenitally legally blind, be between the ages of eighteen and fifty-five, and have no other disabilities. Of the seventy-four adults in the group, forty-three subjects had learned Braille as their "original, primary medium," and thirty-one had learned to read using print. This study begins to provide the objective information we need on the question of Braille versus print. The study reveals that those who were taught Braille from the beginning had higher employment rates, were better educated and more financially self-sufficient, and spent more time doing pleasure and other reading than the print users.
The pertinent parts of the study as reported in the Journal of Visual Impairment and Blindness follow:
The decline in the number of Braille readers since 1963 (American Printing House for the Blind, 1991) has been widely discussed by professionals and censured by consumer groups (Rex, 1989; Schroeder, 1989; Stephens, 1989). Although there is no consensus on the causes of this decline, a number of factors have been cited. Among them are the rise in the number of visually impaired children with additional disabilities who are nonreaders (Rex, 1989), disputes on the utility of the Braille code (Thurlow, 1988), the decline in teachers' knowledge of Braille and methods for teaching it (Schroeder, 1989; Stephens, 1989), negative attitudes toward Braille (Holbrook & Koenig, 1992; Rex, 1989), and the greater reliance on speech output and print-magnification technology (Paul, 1993).
Pressure from consumers and advocacy groups has led twenty-seven [now twenty-nine] states to pass legislation mandating that children who are legally blind be given the opportunity to learn Braille. These laws have created further controversy in the field (Rex, 1992; Schroeder, 1992; Virginia State Department, 1991). Whereas professional groups such as the Council of Executives of American Schools for the Visually Handicapped, have called for a renewed emphasis on teaching Braille (Mullen, 1990), others have stressed that Braille is only one educational option (Paul, 1993).
The majority of literature in the field regarding Braille reading is in the form of qualitative studies and position papers. Without the balance of quantifiable data, how can any position on the use of Braille be rationally supported or refuted? How can teachers determine when to teach Braille and to whom or consider more basic questions: Should the field continue to emphasize Braille? Do the outcomes of early Braille training justify the educational resources required to provide it? Can training in Braille reading be linked to measures of the economic success of adults?
A causal relationship between reading medium alone (either Braille or print) and the economic success of adults is difficult to establish. However, the possible effects of a particular reading medium on the lives of visually impaired children and adults warrant more objective and quantifiable research than has been conducted so far. The aim of the study presented here, which was part of a larger study of the reading habits and employment of legally blind adults, was to add to the knowledge in these areas.
Most disciplines accept that the primary indicators of socioeconomic status in this society are employment and education. Therefore, if higher education, employment, and financial self-sufficiency are considered indicators of success in adult life, the following research questions become evident:
1. What impact does early Braille training have on the
employment rates of visually impaired adults?
2. Does the skill of early Braille reading influence the
reading habits of visually impaired adults?
3. Do visually impaired adults who learned to read Braille
as their original reading medium have higher rates of economic independence?
A search of the literature revealed few longitudinal studies that measured or defined the success of educational decision makers in determining reading media for visually impaired children. For obvious reasons an experimental design was considered inappropriate for the study. Therefore, because the author was interested in obtaining quantifiable data, she chose a structured-interview design with a variety of open-ended, multiple choice free-answers, and dichotomous questions. She then conducted telephone interviews with adults who fit the criteria for inclusion. To assess interrater reliability, random subjects were informed that a third party would quietly listen in on the interviews and record answers on a scoring sheet.
Identification of subjects: The Washington State Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (WSLBPH) identified adults on this registration list who met the following criteria: they were legally blind, aged eighteen to fifty-five, and had no concomitant disabilities; fifty-five was chosen as the cutoff point to avoid the confounding effect of unemployment because of retirement or ill health in old age. Although the majority of adults in the state who are legally blind are registered with WSLBPH, the fact that the study was restricted to eligible adult patrons of the library who resided in Washington is a limitation of the study. (WSLBPH also serves some persons who live outside the state, but they were not included in the study.)
For the larger study WSLBPH mailed a packet to 900 identified people that included a letter explaining the study and a return postcard. The potential subjects were asked to return the postcard indicating their willingness to participate and to include their telephone numbers and convenient times for them to be interviewed. Twenty-three packets were returned unopened because of incorrect addresses, and 303 response cards granting permission to be interviewed for the larger study were received. To protect the potential subjects' anonymity, the response cards did not include identifying information, such as names and addresses. Thus it was not possible to do follow-up mailings to track non-respondents.
During the actual interview process fifty-one potential subjects who could not be contacted on the first try were called four or five times during the eight-week project before they were considered ineligible. Another seventy-seven were eliminated when they were called because they did not meet the criteria for inclusion but had not been ruled out during the initial screening. Most of those who were eliminated had concomitant disabilities (deaf-blindness or cerebral palsy); in addition, several were above the age ceiling of fifty-five, and one was under eighteen. From the pool of the remaining 175 subjects, a subgroup of seventy-four persons was identified who met all the criteria and were congenitally visually impaired. These seventy-four persons were the subjects of the smaller study reported here.
Interviews: The majority of the telephone interviews were conducted in the evenings, according to the subjects' preferences, and lasted an average of fifteen to twenty minutes. Numbers were assigned to the subjects, and the original phone numbers were not entered with the data.
During the interviews the subjects were asked thirty-five to forty questions. These questions were designed to elicit their visual history; current visual status; preference for and perceptions of past and present reading media (Braille or print; listening to audiotaped books was not included); educational background; and current employment, income, occupation, and reading habits.
The subjects' responses were categorized, coded, and analyzed using descriptive statistics (chi-square). To measure the accuracy of the scores and categories of responses, a second scorer simultaneously listened to the interviews and scored and categorized a randomly selected sample of eight subjects. The interrater agreement for the sample was 96 percent.
Subjects: All seventy-four subjects were congenitally legally blind at the time of the interviews, having been diagnosed as legally blind before age two, and therefore had no memory of normal vision. Of the seventy-four, forty-two were women and thirty-two were men, who lived in rural and urban areas. As was mentioned earlier, the subjects ranged in age from eighteen to fifty-five; seven (9 percent) were eighteen to twenty-four, twelve (16 percent) were twenty-five to thirty, eight (11 percent) were thirty-one to thirty-six, thirty-two (43 percent) were thirty-seven to forty-two, nine (12 percent) were forty-three to forty-eight, and six (8 percent) were forty-nine to fifty-five.
Thirty-one subjects were employed, six part-time and twenty-five full-time, and forty-three were unemployed, yielding an unemployment rate of 58 percent. (The unemployment rate for the 175 in the larger study was 66 percent, which parallels the national unemployment rate for visually impaired adults reported by Kirchner & Peterson, 1988). The subjects' annual personal incomes ranged from less than $7,000 to $70,000; the majority (thirty-nine, or 53 percent) reported annual incomes of less than $7,000.
The majority of the subjects (forty-two, or 57 percent) reported current vision levels of no light perception or light perception only (nineteen men and twenty-three women). In addition, twenty-two (29 percent) had vision levels between 20/300 and shadow vision, and the vision of the remaining ten (14 percent) ranged from 20/200 to 20/300. Eleven subjects said that their visual acuity had deteriorated before they graduated from high school, and eighteen said that it had deteriorated afterward; three reported improved visual activity during their school years.
With regard to educational levels, ten subjects (14 percent) had a high school education or less, twenty-three (31 percent) had attended college but had not graduated, twenty-four (32 percent) had bachelor's degrees, and seventeen (23 percent) had graduate degrees. The women tended to be slightly better educated than the men; twelve (12 percent) of the forty-two women, compared to six (19 percent) of the thirty-two men, had graduate degrees.
With regard to reading media, forty-three subjects (58 percent) had learned to read Braille as their original primary medium (hereafter referred to as the BR group), and thirty-one subjects (42 percent) had learned to read print as their original primary medium (hereafter referred to as the PR group) in childhood. One of the subjects who had initially learned to read Braille uses both Braille and print as an adult.
Employment: As figure 1 shows, the BR group had a significantly lower unemployment rate (44 percent) than did the PR group (77 percent) (X2=10.499; p<.0148). Of those who were employed, 16 percent of the BR group and 13 percent of the PR group were in professional positions, 23 percent of the BR group and 10 percent of the PR group were in skilled positions, and 16 percent of the BR group,but none of the PR group, were in unskilled positions. Furthermore, 42 percent of the BR group versus 23 percent of the PR group were employed full-time (forty or more hours per week), and 14 percent of the BR group, but 3 percent of the PR group, were employed part time (X2=7.031 p<.0297).
NOTE: Figure 1 represents visually the data reported in the text.
The extent of Braille use in adulthood was an important variable in examining the employment rates of the BR group. Using qualifying criteria for each category, the author determined Braille use to be extensive, some, or minimal. Extensive Braille use did not guarantee employment, but within the BR group it was apparent that the subjects who reported extensive personal and/or professional use of Braille had a far lower unemployment rate (33 percent) than did the total sample (58 percent). Of the twenty-four subjects in the BR group who were employed at the time of the study, twenty-two met the criteria for extensive Braille users.
Five subjects in the PR group were taught to read Braille after they learned to read print. None reported using Braille extensively, and all were unemployed at the time of the study.
Reading Habits: Addressing reading in this type of research design is problematic, particularly because the study was based on self-reported data. Therefore, three symbols of literacy in this society were examined: the number of hours per week spent reading (Braille or print), the number of books read in an average year, and the number of magazines currently subscribed to. Figure 2 compares the number of hours in an average week that the BR and PR subjects spent reading (for their jobs and for pleasure). It is significant that sixteen subjects in the BR group and five in the PR group read more than twenty-one hours per week (X2=13.852: p<.0166), whereas three in the BR group versus nine in the PR group read one hour or none during an average week.
NOTE: Figure 2 represents the number of hours spent reading each week--0 to 1 hours, Braille readers 3, print readers 9; 2 to 5 hours a week, Braille readers 4, print readers 9; 6 to 10 hours a week, Braille readers 9, print readers 4; 11 to 20 hours a week, Braille readers 10, print readers 4; and 21 or more hours a week, Braille readers 16, print readers 5.
As Figure 3 shows, the BR group read significantly more books per year than did the PR group (X2=23.138:p<.0008). Thirteen of the forty-three BR subjects but only three of the thirty-one PR subjects read twenty-one or more books per year, and three BR subjects versus fourteen PR subjects read no books per year. These findings are consistent with the greater number of hours per week that the BR group spent reading. Furthermore, in accord with the greater amount of time spent reading and books read, the BR group reported subscribing to significantly more magazines than did the PR group (X2=13.435: p<.0038). For example, eight BR subjects but eighteen PR subjects subscribed to no magazines (see Figure 4).
NOTE: Figure 3 represents the number of books read per yearzero books a year, 3 Braille readers, 14 print readers; 1 to 5 books a year, 16 Braille readers, 5 print readers; 6 to 10 books a year, 4 Braille readers, 7 print readers; 11 to 20 books a year, 7 Braille readers, 2 print readers; and 21 and over books a year, 6 Braille readers, 3 print readers.
Figure 4 represents magazine subscriptions at the time of the studyzero subscriptions, 8 Braille readers, 18 print readers; 1 to 3 subscriptions, 19 Braille readers, 7 print readers; 4 to 6 subscriptions, 9 Braille readers, 5 print readers; over 7 subscriptions, 7 Braille readers, 1 print reader.
Table 1 depicts the point basis for a scale on which each subject was assigned points based on values of the three variables previously discussed.
NOTE: The table represents points awarded for hours a week spent reading, books a year read, and magazine subscriptions. Hours spent reading a week: 0 points for 0 to 1 hour, 1 point for 2 to 6 hours a week; 2 points for 7 to 20 hours a week; 3 points for 20 or more hours a week. Number of books read a year: 0 points for 0 to 1 book read; 1 point for 1 to 5 books read; 2 points for 6 to 20 books read; and 3 points for 20 or more books read. Number of magazines subscribed to: 0 points for none; 1 point for 1 to 3 magazines; 2 points for 4 to 7 magazines; and 3 points for 7 or more magazines.
The total points attained by the subjects were plotted on a 10-point scale, and the subjects were divided into four groups. The subjects in Group 1 scored 0 or 1 point; those in Group 2 scored 2, 3, or 4 points; those in Group 3 scored 5, 6, or 7 points; and those in Group 4 scored 8 or 9 points. For example, a subject who read twelve hours in an average week, read four books in the previous year, and currently subscribed to six magazines would receive a total of five points and hence would be placed in Group 3.
Thirty-six percent of the PR subjects and four percent of the BR subjects were in Group 1, 35 percent of the PR subjects and 33 percent of the BR subjects were in Group 2, 26 percent of the PR subjects and 47 percent of the BR subjects were in Group 3, and 3 percent of the PR subjects and 16 percent of the BR subjects were in Group 4. The results were significant (X2=14.674: p<.0021), the most noticeable difference being in Group 1.
[CAPTION FOR TABLE 1: Basis for Scale.]
Education: The overall difference in the mean educational levels of the BR and the PR groups was small and not statistically significant (X2=4.035; p<.2577). The distinction between early Braille readers and early print readers was at the highest level of education: Thirteen (30%) of the 43 BR subjects but only four (13%) of the thirty-one PR subjects obtained graduate degrees. It is also worth noting that only two of the subjects in this sample (n=74) and in the larger sample (n=175) had doctoral degrees; both were in the BR group.
Self-Sufficiency: Although the overall income levels of the two groups were not statistically significant (X2=7.059, p<.2163), the representation of the BR and PR subjects in the three income rangeshighest range ($25,000 to $70,000), middle range ($7,000 to $25,000), and lowest range ($7,000 or less)--are of interest. The BR group was over-represented in the highest range, and the PR group was over-represented in the lowest range, but both groups were similarly represented in the middle range. Thus 25 percent of the BR group versus 7 percent of the PR group were in the highest range, 28 percent of the BR group and 31 percent of the PR group were in the middle range, and 47 percent of the BR group but 62 percent of the PR group were in the lowest range. In addition, the subjects' responses to the question, "Do you receive money on a regular basis from a nonemployment source, such as SSI (Supplemental Security Income), SSDI (Social Security Disability Insurance), public assistance, food stamps, or Medicaid?" were significant (X2=4.805; p<.0284): 49 percent of the BR group, compared to 74 percent of the PR group, regularly received such public entitlement benefits.
Past and Present Reading Ability: In any study self-reported data, especially retrospective data, must generally be considered suspect. Nevertheless, the subjects' responses to questions regarding their perceptions of their past and present reading ability tended to follow the other trends reported here:
1. As a junior high school student could you read as fast and
as fluently as your classmates? Nine of the thirty-one subjects in the PR group, compared to thirty-five of the forty-three subjects in the BR group answered yes.
2. Do you consider yourself a good reader today? Nineteen of
the thirty-one subjects in the PR group versus forty of the forty-three subjects in the BR group answered yes.
Visual Acuity: Of the seventy-four subjects, fourteen
reported having had 20/200 visual acuity since birth that had remained stable throughout their adult lives. This level of acuity is the upper limit of the definition of legal blindness. Thirteen of these fourteen subjects learned to read print and were included in the PR group; seven of the fourteen subjects received Braille instruction later in life but used print as their current primary reading medium. Four of the fourteen subjects were employed. Although most subjects in the PR group reported little knowledge of the Braille code, the four employed subjects in this group all reported knowing "some" Braille.
The only one of the fourteen who was taught to read Braille as a child said that she reads both print and Braille as an adult but uses print as her primary reading medium. She was one of the four who were employed in this group. Since this group contained thirteen PR subjects and only one BR subject, quantitative analysis of the data was not possible.
Instruction in Braille reading has traditionally been reserved for students with the most severe vision lossthose who cannot see print. It is typically assumed by the general public that the greater the amount of vision a child or adult has, the greater his or her advantage in employment and education. The findings of this study did not support that supposition: acuity was not a statistically significant factor in the employment or educational levels the subjects attained. However, the recipients of public entitlement programs were exceptions to these findings. Those with partial sight were represented in significantly greater proportions than were those with little or no sight (X2=6.045; p<.045). (This finding also held true for its subjects in the larger study [X2=7.648: p<.0218].)
Contrary to common perceptions, more sight was not synonymous with a lower unemployment rate and financial independence in this study. The subjects who reported the least visionlight perception only or no light perceptionhad an unemployment rate of 52 percent, whereas those with the greatest degree of vision--20/200--20/300--had an unemployment rate of 67 percent.
It is an effort of gargantuan proportions to attempt to isolate the impact of a reading medium on the life of an adult who is visually impaired. The interaction of a multitude of confounding variables (such as mobility, financial disincentives, and social biases) complicates and confuses attempts to study employment rates and measures of literacy or financial independence.
The legally blind adult subjects were chosen and screened to provide as representative a sample as possible of otherwise non-disabled visually impaired adults in the state of Washington. However, because questions of home support, motivation, intellectual ability, educational placement, and the like were not addressed, it is possible that an analysis that would include these variables would also yield significant results. Nevertheless, it is rational to expect that the diverse values of these independent variables existed in both the BR and the PR groups and thus should not have significantly altered the findings. However, these issues and their impact on the concerns addressed here should be the focus of future studies in the field.
It is sometimes confusing and always disturbing to read the staggering unemployment rates of adults with visual impairments. The implications for the future of today's generation of children with visual impairments are sobering for professionals in the field. Rather than focusing on the seemingly overwhelming task of determining why so many adults with visual impairments are unemployed, this study concentrated on one possible common factor of the 33 percent who are employed.
The impact of Braille reading skills on the subjects' employment rates was significantwith qualifications. Having a knowledge of Braille, even as a primary reading medium, did not increase a subject's chances of employment, but those who had learned to read Braille as their original reading medium and used it extensively were employed at a significantly higher rate. Thus the early acquisition and extensive use of Braille reading skills were the two factors that had a strong impact on employment rates. The subjects who had been taught to read Braille as children were employed (either full time or part time) at more than twice the rate of those who were taught to read print. However, the subjects who learned Braille after they learned to read print did not have a higher employment rate than those who had not learned Braille.
In this society the ability to read well is highly valued. It is an ability to which school districts devote copious amounts of funds and resources. Classroom teachers spend countless hours coaxing children to develop the lifelong habit of reading. In this study the BR subjects demonstrated those positive reading habits at a significantly greater rate than did the PR subjects. They spent substantially more time reading, read more books, and subscribed to more magazines. This finding is particularly noteworthy when one considers the comparative availability of print and Braille materials. Because higher education depends to a great extent on a background of reading skills and habits, it is not surprising that the BR group also had more graduate degrees.
Not only were the BR subjects more prolific readers, but they perceived their reading abilities, both as children and as adults, in a more positive light than did the PR subjects. Whether those who were taught to read Braille were actually more fluent, skilled readers as children than were those who were taught to read print is an issue for further study. The point of interest here is that the overwhelming majority of the BR subjects (81%) had elevated perceptions of their abilities compared to only 29 percent of the PR subjects.
Rehabilitation is also affected by the inability of visually impaired children to read. Excessive rehabilitation dollars are spent annually on visually impaired young adults who are recent graduates of public (and residential) school programs for visually impaired children. Rehabilitation programs that were originally designed to retrain adventitiously blind adults designate a large portion of their annual budgets to congenitally visually impaired adults who, in theory, should have been habilitated in childhood education programs. But in reality many visually impaired young adults are not sufficiently accomplished in literacy or alternative skills to complete higher-level degrees or obtain employment.
As Koenig and Holbrook (1989) noted, the 10-15 percent of visually impaired children who are totally blind should present little concern to educators regarding whether they should be taught to read Braille since those children who are cognitively and physically capable of reading will be taught to read Braille. It is the remaining 85 percent of visually impaired children with various degrees of residual vision who present the print-or-Braille dilemma to their multi-disciplinary teams. The results of this study suggest that teaching Braille as an original primary reading medium to children with visual impairments may encourage them to develop the positive lifelong habit of reading as adults, enhance their later employment opportunities, and thereby increase the possibility of financial independence.
As the field of education moves toward the full inclusion of students with disabilities in regular school programs, it is imperative that vision professionals resist the urge to normalize visually impaired children by insisting that they read only print. All too frequently decisions on reading media are based on available resources, rather than on the needs of students. According to Tuttle and Heinze (cited in Caton, 1991), over 1,400 additional certified teachers are needed nationwide to meet the educational needs of unserved and under-served children with visual impairments. Teachers of children with visual impairments are typically expected to teach sixteen or more students who are widely spread over large geographic areas (Caton, 1991). Given such conditions, dedicated itinerant teachers are frequently forced to assume consulting rather than active teaching roles. Children cannot adequately be taught to read (in print or Braille) by consultants.
It is tragic that school districts (and professionals) may opt to recommend print as a reading medium under such circumstances. This article does not address that critical shortage. However, it should be noted here that in the face of the restructuring of many university teacher-training programs, it is imperative to retain and support the growth of categorical teacher training programs in the field. The shortage of qualified teachers, as well as researchers, has contributed heavily to the problems the field now faces. Without qualified teachers alternative skills, such as Braille, which are specific to individuals with visual impairments, will by necessity be taught so infrequently that they will eventually become all but extinct. If the results of this study are an indicator, omitting Braille reading instruction from the curriculum of visually impaired children may well create a handicap far more debilitating than blindnesschronic unemployment.
American Printing House for the Blind. (1991).
Distribution of federal quota based on the registration of eligible students. Louisville, Kentucky: Author.
Caton, H. (Ed.) (1991). Print and Braille literacy: Selecting
appropriate learning media. Louisville, Kentucky: American Printing House for the Blind.
Koenig, A.J. & Holbrook, M.C. (1989). Determining the reading
medium for students with visual impairments: A diagnostic teaching approach. Journal of Visual Impairment & Blindness, 83, 296-302.
Koenig, A.J. & Holbrook, M.C. (1992). Teaching Braille reading to
students with low vision. Journal of Visual Impairment & Blindness. 86, 44-48.
Kirchner, C. & Peterson, R. (1988), Employment: Selected
characteristics. In Data on blindness and visual impairment in the U.S. (pp. 169-177). New York: American Foundation for the Blind.
Mullen, E. (1990), Decreased Braille literacy: A symptom of a
system in need of reassessment. RE:view, 23, 164-169.
Paul, B.J. (1993, Spring), "Low tech" Braille vital to high-level
literacy. Counterpoint, p. 3.
Rex, E.J. (1989), Issues related to literacy of legally blind
learners, Journal of Visual Impairment & Blindness, 83, 306-313.
Schroeder, F. (1989), Literacy: The key to opportunity, Journal
of Visual Impairment & Blindness, 83, 290-293.
Schroeder, F. (1992, June), Braille bills: What Are They and What
Do They Mean? Braille Monitor, 308-311.
Stephens, O. (1989), BrailleImplications for living, Journal of
Visual Impairment & Blindness. 83, 288-289.
Thurlow, W.R. (1988), An alternative to Braille, Journal of
Visual Impairment & Blindness, 82, 378.
Virginia State Department for the Visually Handicapped, (1991), A
Study of Braille literacy in Virginia's public schools (Senate Document No. 31), Richmond: Virginia State Department for the Visually Handicapped.
Reprinted with permission from the Journal of Visual Impairment and Blindness. Copyright 1996 by American Foundation for the Blind, 11 Penn Plaza, Suite 300, New York, New York 10001. All rights reserved.
[PHOTO/CAPTION: Marty Greiser
PHOTO/CAPTION: Cody Greiser]
One Family's Fight for an Appropriate Education
by Jim Marks
From the Editor: The following article first appeared in the Spring/Summer, 1997, issue of the Observer, the publication of the Montana affiliate of the National Federation of the Blind. Jim Marks is a member of the organization's Board of Directors. Cody Greiser is a bright, active ten-year-old (see "Around the Block, to the Mall, and Beyond" in the October, 1997, Braille Monitor). Cody's father is Marty Greiser, Secretary of the National Organization of Parents of Blind Children. Cody lives with his mother, Nancy Taylor of Polson, Montana. Both of Cody's parents have been fighting to get Cody the education he deserves. Even when the law is clear, it can be a struggle to insure that blind children actually get the free, appropriate education in the least restrictive setting to which they are entitled. This is the story of one family's fight for justice.
What you are about to read was gathered from interviews with some of the parties involved, observations of legal proceedings, and reviews of relevant documents.
Cody Greiser, who is blind, lives in Polson, Montana, with his mom, stepdad, and sisters. His dad is Marty Greiser of Dillon, a long-time member of the Montana Association for the Blind, and Secretary of the National Association of Parents of Blind Children, a Division of the National Federation of the Blind. Cody is ten years old and will be going into the fifth grade this fall at Polson's Cherry Valley Elementary School. Recently Cody found himself involved in a struggle for his literacy and his right to live with his family. It's hard to believe, but Cherry Valley School officials tried to take Cody away from his folks by forcing a placement in the Montana School for the Deaf and Blind (MSDB) in Great Falls. Although an administrative judge gave the family a mostly favorable decision following the April 1, 1997, hearing in Polson, the struggle is far from over.
The Family's Position
Cody's parents, Nancy Taylor and Marty Greiser, want their son to learn how to read and write in his neighborhood school. They do not want to take Cody from his home and loved ones to be placed in a residential program.
The family knows that blindness is a low-incidence disability and that ignorance on the part of the school system requires them to advocate fiercely for Cody's education. They carefully weighed what was best for Cody before reaching the conclusion that Cody was better off at home than at MSDB.
Finding qualified Braille instructors or aides can be difficult, the family acknowledges. So they proposed an option to Cherry Valley officials. They asked that Cody travel once a week to Thompson Falls, a town about fifty miles from Polson, in order to receive Braille instruction from Kim Bojkovsky. Bojkovsky is a certified teacher who reads and writes Braille fluently. She taught Cody when they both lived in Dillon. It happens that Bojkovsky is blind. [Kim Hoffman Bojkovsky was a 1988 NFB scholarship winner.]
The School's Position
"Some people in Polson, Montana, believe a sighted teacher can teach Braille better than a blind person," said Bob Long, Lake County Deputy Attorney and legal counsel for Cherry Valley School. He said this to one of the expert witnesses for the family during the April hearing. The witness was Joanne Wilson, President of the NFB of Louisiana and Director of the Louisiana Center for the Blind in Ruston. Wilson had just testified by telephone about the importance of having a teacher of blind children know how to read and write in Braille.
Surprisingly, the school had the burden of proof because it was the school that wanted Cody's education plan to change. According to Elaine Meeks, Cherry Valley principal, the school couldn't find a qualified teacher for Cody, making an MSDB placement necessary.
Meeks said that it wasn't a matter of money. The school had tried but failed to find a competent Braille instructor following the resignation of Cody's former aide. Meeks said the school had advertised regionally but later explained that "regionally" meant advertising in Polson, Kalispell, and Missoula. Meeks therefore said that the school could not provide Cody with a sound education and that MSDB was the only alternative.
Meeks rejected the family proposal to have Cody taught Braille once a week by Bojkovsky in Thompson Falls. She said such a thing would force a public school's support of a home school, adding that Cherry Valley couldn't supervise Bojkovsky properly unless Bojkovsky was willing to travel to Polson. Due to her pregnancy and other responsibilities in Thompson Falls, Bojkovsky had declined to travel. [Mrs. Bojkovsky is a minister's wife and gave birth to a daughter in April of 1997.]
Meeks denied the family's request to have Cherry Valley purchase Braille production equipment. The family wanted the school to acquire a computer Braille translation software program and a computer Braille embosser. Asserting the decision wasn't based on money, Meeks said the school's denial of technology purchases was due to the school's belief that Cody's Braille skills had not advanced far enough to warrant the purchase.
What the Experts Had to Say
Testimony was also given by two groups of experts. Speaking on behalf of Cherry Valley Schools were the MSDB principal and two MSDB outreach staff members. Speaking for the family were three members of the NFB.
The MSDB experts said that in Cody's case their institution was a more appropriate placement than Cherry Valley School. They said the MSDB outreach services couldn't compensate for the lack of a qualified teacher or aide in Polson, so it was their opinion that MSDB's residential program would serve Cody best. They dismissed the family's requests for Braille production equipment as well, saying that the equipment was expensive and no panacea. MSDB Principal Bill Davis admitted the hardship of placing a child in a residential school. He said the parents had to consider the long-term benefits of a good education over the short-term benefits of keeping Cody at home.
During the hearing the quality of education at MSDB was never fully discussed. Davis admitted that most of the blind children at MSDB had multiple disabilities. Cody's only disability is blindness, and he is unlikely to find as many peers in MSDB as he has in Polson.
Beyond the formalities of the administrative court, the family expresses strong concerns about the quality of the MSDB education. They point out that MSDB had to be sued only a few years ago when another family wanted their blind child taught Braille. Moreover, the Greiser family questions the credibility of the MSDB staff. They wonder aloud about the ability of MSDB staff to read and write Braille fluently and about staff abilities in other blindness skills. Notably, one of the MSDB experts testifying against the family had never even met Cody. As time goes on, fewer and fewer families with blind children opt for a residential program. Instead schools like MSDB become institutions for children with multiple disabilities, and blindness skills often take a back seat to other issues surrounding disability.
Testifying for the family were Joanne Wilson of Louisiana, Denise Mackenstadt of Washington, and Kim Bojkovsky of Thompson Falls. Wilson said Cherry Valley School hadn't tried hard enough to find a qualified Braille teacher. She testified about several options that Cherry Valley could have undertaken in order to get a qualified person involved in Cody's education. When she was asked about what was best for Cody, Cherry Valley or MSDB, she said it was a difficult decision which could only be made by the family. However, she pointed out that the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act requires education to take place in the least restrictive environment. She said she didn't know which school had the better educational program but that placement at MSDB probably wouldn't be the least restrictive environment mandated in the law.
Mackenstadt, a teacher's aide in a Bothell, Washington, public school, said it was her job to assist with Braille instruction and blindness skills in a mainstream school setting. She explained how well the education of blind children can work when the school possesses an inclusive, can-do attitude about teaching blind children. She also reinforced the doubt about whether Cherry Valley School had done all it could. She added to Wilson's testimony regarding places to find or train qualified Braille instructors.
Bojkovsky talked about what she had done with Cody when she was his teacher in Dillon and about what she could do for him in the future. She said the once-a-week time would be adequate, but not ideal. And the adequate instruction which allows Cody to remain at home is far better than putting him in any residential program, she said.
What the Judge Decided
Dennis Loveless, the Montana Hearings Officer for the Office of Public Instruction, decided mostly in favor of the family. He wrote: "Analysis of all the factors apparent in this case indicates that the continued education of Cody Greiser at Cherry Valley School under the program proposed by the parents would take advantage of appropriate available resources in the least restrictive setting."
Besides endorsing the family's wish to have Cody remain at Cherry Valley School with one-day-a-week instruction with Bojkovsky, Loveless also decided that Cherry Valley should acquire Braille production technology. He decided not to reimburse the family for legal fees and not to order any additional evaluations of the competency of Cherry Valley or MSDB staff. It is deeply ironic that Cherry Valley School will incur no legal expenses at all since it was represented by the Lake County Attorney's office. Equally ironic is the never-mentioned but undeniable fact that only those who spoke on behalf of the family read and write Braille well.
It Ain't Over
Even though the Loveless decision was clear, Marty Greiser reports that Cherry Valley School refuses to send Cody to Bojkovsky because they have now hired a Braille aide. The school claims the employment of the aide makes the Loveless decision largely irrelevant. The family asked to review the credentials of this aide, but no documents have been forthcoming. In addition, school officials denied the family's request to begin purchasing technology items until Cody's teachers come back to work this fall. In spite of the triumph in administrative court, it looks as though more court action is likely. It's a cinch that more advocacy will be imperative.
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 the National Federation of the Blind, 1800 Johnson Street, Baltimore, Maryland 21230, 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."
Changing Perceptions About Blindness by the Hundreds
by E. Randy Cox
From the Editor: Randy Cox is an active Federationist who lives in Utah. He is sighted, but he holds strong and healthy views about blindness and blind people. This is what he says:
My first contact with a blind person came when I was in high school. My father was assigned by our local church to check routinely on a member of our congregation who was in his seventies and didn't make it out to meetings very often. I accompanied my father on these visits for several months but never met the second man who supposedly lived there.
I asked my father why we had not met the other man and was told that he was blind and stayed in his bedroom in the back of the house. I later learned that the two men had been business partners, but when one became blind, they sold their hotels and restaurants and moved to central Florida, where the once wealthy, active entrepreneur became a reclusive, incapable shut-in.
My opportunity to meet this other man came when the man we checked on became very ill and had to be hospitalized for a time. My father and I volunteered to take care of the blind man during this period. I was shocked, however, when I received the list of instructions on what it would mean to "take care of him."
He never got out of his pajamas. Most days he refused to get out of bed. He had to be spoonfed like a young child, and often this proved to be as messy as feeding my younger brothers and sisters. He rarely spoke, and if he did, it was in an inaudible mutter I had difficulty understanding. If he wanted to go anywhere in the house, I had to position myself in front of him so he could place both hands on my shoulders. Then I would slowly shuffle forward, matching his halting, terrified steps.
Then there was helping him use the rest room. I pause to mention again that the only thing that had changed about this once dynamic, active businessman was that he had lost his eyesight. In all respects, for a man his age, he was perfectly capable, both physically and mentally.
Our perceptions come from what we think about what we have experienced. I came away from this encounter with the idea that blindness meant helplessness, dependence, atrophy, lethargy, and hopelessness. Consequently I concluded that blind people should be pitied.
My next contact with a blind person came on October 16, 1992. I had the pleasure of meeting and interacting with a woman named Kristen Eyring in a personal development seminar. She first got my attention when she walked into the room; I was immediately struck by her stunning beauty. Soon after the seminar got started, I learned she was also very intelligent, articulate, and well traveled.
As the seminar progressed, I pulled out of Kristen some of her accomplishments. I learned that she had been a member of a championship soccer team, had spent a semester studying abroad in Spain, had been chosen as one of 100 students from across the country to serve as Senatorial Scholars to Japan, had graduated from high school in three years, had done volunteer work for her church in Brazil, had traveled throughout Europe, and had been a 4.0 student in college. Incidentally, she was blind.
Throughout the seminar Kristen had no trouble crossing downtown streets, ordering in restaurants, getting to and from the meetings, and carrying out any number of tasks that my past experience said should have been impossible for her.
I was thinking about Kristen recently and how her example changed my perception of blindness forever. Had I never met her, I would probably still hold the beliefs I developed from my high school experience.
The power of one person's example, for good or ill, can be enormous. I wonder how many people there are, like me, who have changed their perceptions about blindness due to Kristen's example. I began adding them up.
There are her parents; sister; half-brother; nine step-brothers and sisters; grandparents; cousins; aunts; uncles; doctors; teammates; parents of teammates; teachers; classmates; members of her church congregation; those with whom she interacted in Brazil, Japan, Italy, and France; members of the seminar we attended; those who have seen and heard her on the television and radio programs she has appeared on; and the list goes on.
Before long, I realized Kristen has probably been an example to hundreds of people that blindness is not synonymous with helplessness, that the loss of sight doesn't mean you have to lose sight of your goals, that blindness is no reason to slow down. The impact Kristen has had is repeated across the country every day by other Federationists. In moments of discouragement, it is well for us to remember that individual perceptions about blindness are being transformed every time a competent blind person crosses a street or chairs a meeting or insists on doing his or her fair share of any task in the community.
You may have wondered why I remember that I met Kristen on October 16. That date is very important to me because a short time after that, Kristen Eyring became Kristen Cox, my wife.
[PHOTO/CAPTION: Elizabeth Browne]
Challenging Biblical Stereotypes of the Blind
by Elizabeth J. Browne
From the Editor: Dr. Elizabeth Browne is an active member of the National Federation of the Blind of Illinois and a frequent contributor to these pages. As a professor of theology she recently wrote a book that grapples with the Biblical portrayal of blindness. This is what she says about the project:
The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, But in ourselves that we are underlings.
Julius Caesar, Act I
Biblical representations of the blind have often caused unChristian rumblings in my very soul. How often have I sat, shrinking with embarrassment and, I confess, a little anger, as the sacred words are loudly proclaimed from the pulpit for all God's children to hear?
How often have I prayed for invisibility or for some kindly spirit to whisk me away from those accusing stares I felt were fixed in my direction? I could imagine people thinking, "If she really believed, she could see, too!"
How often Bible passages relate tales of blind beggars, not employed, not even in ancient sheltered shops, but right out there on the public roads, begging, shouting, pleading, abused, pathetic examples which caused me to question the significance of these embarrassing stories. We know them too well, and I imagine that many of you have also flushed with embarrassment at the stereotype presented throughout the scripture passages for all pious people to hear and to believe.
There is Bartimeus, the beggar, shouting out from his vantage point at the side of the road, "Domine ut videam!" "Lord, that I may see!" as the onlookers tried in vain to shut him up. I want to shut him up too, but I know that, "The fault, dear Brutus, is not in the stars," nor in the Bible, but in ourselves that we put up with this sacred stereotype.
Do not misunderstand me. I am deeply committed to my Christian faith, a believing churchgoer, and now proud to be a teacher of theology at Loyola University in Chicago.
Never suppose that these biblical stereotypes are dead, not even for a moment. They are very much alive and active in both religious and secular societies today. But how to deal with them? How best to confront these biblical words, these pathetic stories, and give them the true significance I know they contain? In order to bring some semblance of truth into the well-established folklore about blind people, I determined to take a serious look at the words of sacred scripture in order to evaluate its message objectively, with reverence, of course, but bringing to bear my own and others' experience and wisdom.
Remember the story in the Gospel of John, Chapter 9, about the man born blind?
As the disciples walked along with Jesus, they passed by a blind man (begging, of course) and asked, "Who has sinned, this man or his parents that he was born blind?"
My own parents had to endure the silent condemnation of relatives and neighbors when I lost my sight, and I am sure those who condemned them were sure that their judgment of my parents had a solid Biblical foundation.
So when I began graduate studies in theology, I began seriously studying and reflecting on sacred scripture. I encountered the harsh words of the book of Leviticus:
Aaron, none of your descendants throughout their generation who has a blemish may approach to offer the bread of his God. For no one who has a blemish shall draw near, a man blind or lame, or one who has a mutilated face, or a limb too long, or a man who has an injured foot or an injured hand, or a hunchback, or a dwarf, or a man with a defect in his sight or an itching disease or scab or crushed testicles; no man of the descendants of Aaron the priest who has a blemish shall come near to offer the Lord's offering by fire; since he has a blemish, he shall not come near to offer the bread of his God. (Lev. 21:16-21)
These words of the Bible said clearly that certain individuals should not even approach to offer worship. And, shockingly enough, this admonition has been the guiding spirit of religion as well as society (from that ancient, primitive law even unto our own modern times) and was not removed from the Canon Law of the Roman Church until 1983. Note, removed, but never recanted.
This opening salvo almost caused me to stagger back in disgust at this Biblical proscription. Where do I go now, I thought, as I tried to make sense of what I was doing in graduate theological studies. This is not for the likes of me, nor for any other like me with various taint or blemish.
Everyone from time to time feels that God is not listening, is turning away, but that is just our momentary feeling and nothing more. God does not regard blind people or women or any other marginalized person with disdain. I knew this, and a poem of John Donne seemed to say it for me.
Though thou with clouds of anger do disguise Thy face; yet through that mask I know those eyes, Which though they turn away sometimes Never will despise.
Enough! I must now begin to dig, to research, to analyze, and to reflect. My question became, "If persons are blemished in any way, are they automatically, spiritually, theologically excluded from religious consideration? That seems to be the resounding opinion of all those people in all those churches who fix their piercing gazes on the blind who sit, squirming, in their midst.
If she really believed, really had faith, she could see.
The unspoken wordsand accusationsthat resound loudly in our souls are that we must not have real faith, a really strong enough belief to allow the saving grace to flood into our blemished natures and bring back sight, which would make us truly children of a good and all perfect creator.
Inwardly, I thought, "Nonsense." Maybe all those people from countless congregations that listened to the same stories were inwardly convinced that, if only I had faith, if only I really believed, I too would be cured. I began to question inwardly, "Just what do they mean `cured'?" Whatever they thought, I was determined to ferret it out and forever silence its ugly message.
Eventually I would become a teacher of theology and be able to take the time to explore Biblical sources, the time to analyze their essential meaning, in order to determine their foundation and basic significance, both theologically and sociologically.
In my class I necessarily assign the entire Scriptures as a required text; however, using this text, I have come to grips with the embarrassing, negative, and unacceptable attitude toward the disabled, toward women, toward foreigners, and others which permeate both the Hebrew scriptures and the New Testament. Just how does one explain these biblical images which are so offensive to us? Just where did all this come from, and why have these negative stereotypes persisted throughout religious and secular societies, unquestioned, unexamined?
Too many outsiders have tackled this problem for us but have only added to the persistent false stereotype of blind people. Books and plays and movies and articles have presumed to explain just who we are, so now I decided that it was my turn to consider the place of the blind in the Bible and in society.
Basically, the quest came down to this ultimate question: Is blindness in the Bible a theological question or a sociological one? If theological, then we are indeed consigned to a lesser status; we are not fully children of a loving God. We are imperfect creatures and cannot reflect God's perfection. But, if these passages are sociological, cultural, then we can explain them in light of the primitive eras in which they were written. They can then be perceived to be as outdated as slavery, as unlawful as child labor, as simplistic as the beliefs in the flat earth theory of an unenlightened era.
This is the quest I undertook, and this quest would eventually lead me to the writing of a book, The Disabled Disciple, the fruit of my serious questioning about the place of blindness in the Bible; in religion; and, ultimately, in society. In my book I begin to develop a new and different understanding of blindnesson the model of liberation theology, which by its very essence confronts and then seeks to overturn structures that are antiquated, destructive, and false.
Of course, as members of the National Federation of the Blind, we are familiar with such confrontational tactics and would easily understand my forthright approach to this subject. Now, since nobody on the staff of the Braille Monitor is clamoring to review my book or, perhaps, because they have not yet heard of its existence, I thought I would write my own announcement of its publication, hoping to be as objective as possible, so that I might inform fellow members just what I have done and, more important, why I have done it.
My approach to this important question is, of course, far different from the proliferation of books concerned with the inclusion of the marginalized in all areas of society. It flows from the experience and expertise of someone who is actively working to live and to achieve true inclusion in every area of life, not merely the religious.
In my book I look at the origin of the stereotype of the blind from earliest time, from the words of Leviticus in the Hebrew Scriptures to the role of blind beggars in the New Testament, as well as public statements of the Roman Catholic Church, its law, and its persistent false stereotype of blind people. I also consider many aspects of the secular laws and what effect all these have had on the status of blind people today.
In the end I can only conclude that attitudes about blindness, in the Bible as well as in religious tradition, are not theological but sociological phenomena. This is an essential distinction which must never be overlooked. This is the solid foundation of a true understanding and appreciation of what blindness truly is and the goal toward which we should all continue to work. The publication of my book has been announced on the Worldwide Web, and several reviews have declared The Disabled Disciple: Ministering in a Church Without Barriers by Dr. Elizabeth Browne a "must read: for anyone interested in a theology of inclusion"; "the work has more than disinterested validity; it brings a personal knowledge and concern to this important discussion. [The author] brings to the subject a lifetime of personal experience, dedication, and involvement to this essential goal of mainstreaming, socially, academically, and religiously throughout her life."
Published in March, 1997, by Ligouri Press, The Disabled Disciple has 123 pages, eight chapters, a reader's postscript, an appendix, guidelines, excerpts of documents, including laws, and much more. It is obtainable by requesting it from your local religious or secular book store, or from Ligouri Publications, (800) 325-9521, for $12.95. It will also soon be available from Recording for the Blind & Dyslexic. I hope that those who read it will give me their honest opinion.
This is what I have done, and if the muse and my publisher continue to look favorably upon my humble efforts, I shall continue to pursue them in the near future. Until then, remember:
The fault, dear reader, is not in our stars (or in the Bible), but in ourselves if we are underlings.
My Undiscovered Future
by Kevin D. Ledford
From the Editor: Before the state rehabilitation agency serving the blind of Missouri decided it would no longer send Missouri residents to the Colorado Center for the Blind for rehabilitation training in the skills of blindness, Kevin Ledford requested to be sent to Denver for job and skills training. (See the July, 1997, issue of the Braille Monitor.) By his own account he had been completely unsuccessful in keeping jobs and had little faith in himself. The following is his story of what happened when he was able to benefit from an NFB adult training center's unique blend of hope, high expectations, and hard work. Kevin Ledford is a living reminder that anything is possible when a determined blind person is offered real opportunity. It's tragic that Missouri has closed the door on those in the state who would like to follow Kevin's example. This is what he says:
According to the old adage, "If at first you don't succeed, try, try again." Try again, I certainly did. Unfortunately it took me six years to figure out what I wanted to do with my life. During that time I asked others what I should do rather than listening to my own heart and daring to do what deep down I believed I could.
My story began with my graduation on June 2, 1992, from Theodore Roosevelt High School in St. Louis, Missouri. In 1993 I started working with the Missouri Division of Rehabilitation Services for the Blind. Since my graduation in 1992, I have held several positions as temporary manager and assistant manager in various Business Enterprise Program convenience stores and have worked in several fast-food chains. I even attempted the management training for the BEP program. I was unsuccessful in all these efforts. I made two attempts at college, but I was unsuccessful in getting readers, books on tape, and the other accommodations necessary for visually impaired students.
By June of 1996 I was preparing to lose my latest job, this one with Webster University Bookstore in Webster Groves, Missouri. I had been hearing about a customer service training program in Denver that had an excellent reputation, especially with its employment-placement rate, which averaged 90-100 percent and today is 93 percent. By the next week I had my plane ticket in hand, ready but scared to explore a new city where I had never been. I left the comfort of home, friends, and family knowing nothing about this new life in Colorado.
On June 17, 1996, I entered the Colorado Center for the Blind on South Broadway in Denverscared, unsure of my capabilities, and almost certain I was facing yet another failure. I was pleasantly surprised at the reaction I received from the staff. These teachers made me feel welcome, cared for, and a part of the team. With their help and continuous support, I began to feel better about my abilities, potential, and self-confidence.
To my surprise and extreme pleasure, I finished my training program with a job offer from PRIMESTAR as a sales and service consultant, which I started on November 4, 1996, on my way to a new beginning in Denver.
I began my association with the NFB by becoming a member of the Denver Chapter in July, 1996. Being a member, moving to Denver, obtaining a great job, making new friends, attending my first state and national conventions, and being involved with the Colorado Center for the Blind have made me aware what it means to be a functioning, successful, and competent blind person. Though I still have some useable sight, I am slowly losing it, so I have begun to prepare for that day.
I recently celebrated eight months on the job, and I will soon begin taking classes at the Metropolitan State College of Denver, where I plan to study accounting with the ultimate goal of a master's degree or higher with which I can move up in my company or possibly even start my own business. However, I will be careful. I will begin with just a couple of classes because I don't want to get in over my head right at the start.
People vary in their opinions of the NFB. However, if it weren't for the NFB's support, encouragement, and leadership, I know that I would not be who I am today. I am eternally grateful to the NFB, the Denver Chapter, and other Federationists. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. My sincere hope is that I can always make a difference to blind people and, more important, to the world.
[PHOTO/CAPTION: Kevan Worley]
Letter to Missouri's Governor
by Kevan C. Worley
From the Editor: The preceding article was an effective personal description of what the Colorado Center for the Blind did to rescue one Missouri citizen from a life of disappointment and failure. One might have thought that any state agency serving blind people or, in fact, any state official would have been pleased to know that such an option was available to citizens of the state. But Missouri is not just any state. (See the July, 1997, issue of the Braille Monitor for the story of Missouri's decision to stop sending residents of the state to the Colorado Center.) When he heard about the Missouri mess, long-time Missouri resident Kevan Worley wrote a letter to the governor telling his own story and urging him to intervene to protect other blind citizens who might be interested in receiving truly effective rehabilitation. Here is what Kevan Worley wrote:
Colorado Springs, Colorado
July 13, 1997
Hon. Governor Mel Carnahan
Jefferson City, Missouri
Dear Governor Carnahan:
As a former long-time Missouri resident, I was saddened to hear the other day that Missouri Rehabilitation Services for the Blind will no longer be sending clients to the Colorado Center for the Blind for adult adjustment-to-blindness training. This prestigious training center has given Missouri tax-paying citizens value for more than seven years. I could tell you stories of dozens of blind and visually impaired Missourians who have been assisted because they chose to attend what many consider to be this country's best training center for blind individuals, but I would rather share with you my own story.
As a Missouri resident I spent much of the decade of the 80's unemployed, drawing the Missouri Blind Pension, and floundering in self-doubt, confusion, and non-productivity. I had a few part-time jobs but was never able to keep them and was never able to find myself as a blind person or to define myself as a person who happened to be blind. I had not developed the skills that would allow me to compete on terms of equality and be productive, healthy, happy, alive, and willing and able to give to my community. But I was fortunate that in 1991 I had a rehabilitation counselor who was supported by the then director of Missouri Rehabilitation Services for the Blind, Mr. David S. Vogel. They supported my wish. In fact, they urged me to attend the Colorado Center for the Blind in Denver, Colorado.
I attended the Center from June, 1991, through December, 1991. Governor Carnahan, this training program changed my life. I cannot adequately express to you the tough challenges they laid down before me, the support they offered me in order that I might meet those challenges, the insight they helped me discover, the daily living skills of blindness they taught me, and the change of attitude they inspired me to achieve. This wonderful, comprehensive program for blind people has an expert staff of caring, educated blind role models and sighted instructors to teach independent travel skills, Braille, typing, computers, the art of dressing for success, cooking, cleaning, checkbook balancing, life management, job readiness, and moredepending upon the individual needs of the client.
During the last three months of my stay at the Colorado Center for the Blind, I worked twenty-five hours a week as an intern in the Public Information Department of the Regional Transportation District, downtown Denver. That experience was an integrated part of my program and prepared me to leave the Center adjusted and ready for real employment.
I left the Center at Christmas, 1991, and I have had full-time, quality employment ever since that time. Yes, I am indeed proud that I no longer flounder in unemployment, drawing the Missouri Blind Pension. I am a hard-working, community-minded, tax-paying, contributing citizen and, regardless of what some small group of blind people may say to the Missouri Rehabilitation Service, my success and the success of dozens of blind individuals in this country is due to the progressive, well-rounded, creative, and energetic people at the Colorado Center for the Blind.
I recently came across a statistic saying that during the past year the Colorado Center for the Blind had the number one job placement record of any private agency for the disabled, not just the blind but for the entire disability community. Not having had a connection with the Colorado Center for the Blind since 1991, I was happy to read that statistic, but I wasn't surprised.
Governor Carnahan, I know that you have much to occupy your time, but I urge you to do whatever you can to make sure that the blind citizens who are clients of the Missouri Rehabilitation Services for the Blind and want to attend a quality, progressive training center be allowed to do so. Perhaps no blind person or family member of a blind person has taken the time to appeal to you, but, as I say, I was a Missouri resident for many, many years and, in fact, met you on more than one occasion before you became governor. I believe that, if you review the situation personally, you will see quite clearly that there is no reason to keep deserving blind Missourians from being able to choose to attend the Colorado Center for the Blind.
I attempted to call Missouri Rehabilitation Services to find out what was going on, but employees there refused to speak with me about this matter, saying it was too touchy a subject for them to deal with. At least two of these folks, when I was a client a number of years ago, were very open and outspoken, but these people sounded almost scared to me. I have to wonder what is going on. I am hopeful that the Governor of Missouri will take the time to find out.
I really believe that, when any blind person is denied training, it actually hurts all blind people. If a blind guy from Springfield or a blind woman from Rolla is denied services and just sits around the house all day, they are not out there in the world with self-confidence, opening doors of opportunity and employment for all of us. You would think professionals at an agency for the blind in Missouri would understand the need to get blind people excellent training. I cannot comprehend how bureaucrats in an agency that once helped me have become so wishy-washy or bamboozled and bullied by what must be only a few in the blind community who, because of their own lack of self-worth, would keep other blind citizens of Missouri from having good training and an equal shot at success and self-respect.
When I attended the Colorado Center for the Blind in 1991, I learned to travel independently using a long white cane. I learned to travel with confidence in rural and urban settings using city buses and crossing major, complicated intersections with ease and grace. At the Center my fellow students and I prepared tasty meals for forty, fifty, and even sixty people and did it efficiently and attractively. We were expected to attend job-training classes, including outside job experiences. A variety of jobs was offered to us. We could pick from such things as receptionist and cafeteria dishwasher. On our own time we could even sell pull-tab tickets at the local National Federation of the Blind's bingo game. These real-world job experiences are simply not available to Missouri's blind citizens at any other training center that I know of. One of the most important components of my training at the Center was the classes in which we discussed our own attitudes about our blindness. We were taught and inspired to overcome our negative attitudes and the negative attitudes of others about blindness.
I know of many blind people who would say the same kinds of things to you that I am saying in this letter if they were contacted. Governor, I implore you to look into the problems at the Missouri Rehabilitation Services for the Blind and make the necessary changes so that blind people of your state can receive information about the Colorado Center for the Blind and, if they wish, make the life-changing choice to attend it.
Although I have lived out of state for several years, I still have hundreds of family members and friends back in Missouri. I will ask them to keep me informed about the situation at Missouri Rehabilitation Services for the Blind. I feel very sure that, once you investigate the situation, positive changes will happen.
Thank you very much for your consideration of my views.
Kevan C. Worley
President, NFB of Colorado Springs
Despite Blindness, Couple Sees Joys of Life
by Darci Smith
From the Editor: The following story first appeared in the October 17, 1997, issue of The Michigan Catholic. For those inclined to believe that only in recent years have blind people taken their place in the communities as fully contributing citizens, this is a salutary reminder that in every generation some blind people have managed to make a considerable contribution. Here is the story:
Robert and Jennie Mahoney have lived a life devoid of few joys: He served eighteen years in the Michigan Legislature, and together they raised ten children. Nothing short of miraculous is that both are blind.
"You're given one life, and you've got to do the very best you can with it," said Robert Mahoney, seventy-six. "And it's not easylife is hard. People today want to think that everything can be easy, and you don't have to struggle or fight or work for anything. "But half the joy in life is making some success out of it," he added. Robert Mahoney's successes prompted him to write his autobiography, Living Out of Sight, which he self-published in 1995.
Jennie Mahoney became visually impaired following a high fever at age three and lost the remainder of her eyesight at eleven. Robert Mahoney has been blind in one eye since birth and lost sight in the other as the result of detached retina suffered in a skiing accident while an eleventh-grader at Holy Redeemer High School in Detroit.
The two met at the Michigan School for the Blind in Lansing, where the young Jennie Kubinger studied for ten years, and Robert Mahoney attended for a year. She graduated and went on to become the first blind student at Adrian College, majoring in home economics. He earned his high school diploma from Detroit's Northern High School.
In 1941 they married and rented an apartment in Detroit and became members of St. Raymond Parish. To support his new wife, Robert Mahoney sold blind-made productsmops, brooms, brushes door-to-door. A few years before, he had been one of the first to obtain a Leader Dog out of Rochester, he said, and Patsy helped him on his route.
"I always figured that the grace of God was there that really helped us along," Robert Mahoney recalled. "We tried to follow our faith, all the teachings."
The young couple started their family in 1944 with the birth of their son Gary. Three daughtersRoberta, Rosemary, and Colleenand six more sonsDennis, Joseph, Mark, Michael, Bill, and Robertwould follow. "The first five, I think, were the hardest," said Jennie Mahoney, now seventy-eight. "As the kids got a little bit older, they could help a bit, even just running and getting a diaper for you helps." When the children were young, she recalled putting bells on their shoes to keep track of where the little ones were.
After twelve years in door-to-door sales, doctors told Robert Mahoneywho was born with two bad heart valvesthat he had to find a new profession. "I had everything against me when you come down to it: blind, a bad heart, and a big family," he said.
But then, as Robert Mahoney would say, "God opened a window." At the urging of a friend, Robert Mahoney ran for Democratic precinct delegate. A few years before, he had waged an unsuccessful campaign for the same office. This time, however, he won. All of his years as a door-to-door salesman paid off in grassroots connections. In 1954 he ran for the Michigan Legislature and won for his eastside Detroit district.
And so Robert Mahoney was off to Lansing as Michigan's first blind state representative. While he represented his constituents five days a week in the state capitol, Jennie Mahoney was home raising their brood. "Jennie said she used to have a nervous breakdown every day," Robert Mahoney laughed.
In 1956 the Mahoneys established a mail-order business, Michigan Notary Service, which sold seals, bonds, rubber stamps, and other notary needs. Jennie Mahoney took care of the business, basically run out of the couple's bathroom, while her husband served in Lansing.
"When the phone would ring, Jennie'd yell and say, `You kids be quiet, the business phone!'" Robert Mahoney explained. "She'd go into the bathroom, close the door, and put on her professional voice. . . . On the back of the toilet Jennie had her slate and stylus, and she'd write their name and address down in Braille." With information in hand, Jennie would move into her second officetheir bedroomand remove the typewriter from under the bed, Robert Mahoney said. "She'd get some material to mail out, type the envelope out, then put a stamp on it, and have the kids go to the mailbox," he added.
"It was really hard the first year, but then it kind of escalated and it was better," Jennie Mahoney recalled. Michigan Notary Service is still in business today, with the couple's daughter Colleen operating it.
Robert Mahoney stayed in the Michigan Legislature for eighteen years and is best known for introducing the bill that requires hunter safety classes for young people. To prove that anyone could buy a hunting license, the blind legislator went out and bought one himself. The bill passed the following year.
Faith is central to the Mahoney family, and the couple recalled attending daily Mass and the family praying the rosary together. While in Lansing Robert Mahoney joined other legislators for morning Mass each day. "Without that I don't think we could've made it," Robert Mahoney said of their faith. "The grace of God was there."
It was his pro-stance on busing and fair housing that eventually "drove him out" of his legislative position in 1972, Robert Mahoney said. "As a man and a Christian, I had to pay more than lip service to my principles and convictions," he wrote in his 1995 book. "It's always much easier to say the things people want to hear and so much harder to tell them what they should hear." Robert Mahoney went on to serve on the Wayne County Board of Commissioners and as a lobbyist, eventually moving his family to Lansing, then to Livonia, and finally back to Lansing again.
The advent of computers has made life easier for the blind, the Mahoneys reported. Most days Robert Mahoney can be found surfing the Web on a special Braille computer or sending e-mail to friends as far away as England. They also have printers to print both regular type and Braille, as well as a scanner that reads the daily mail. "And (mail) that we don't understand, why the kids are always coming over at lunchtime or in the evening," Jennie Mahoney said.
Now residents of Lansing, where they belong to St. Gerard Parish, the Mahoneys spend much time listening to books and magazines on tape, attending Mass, and playing cards or games. "Jennie and I play cribbage every day," Robert Mahoney said. "We play two games, and we have a tournament going all the time. It's really vicious," he laughed.
[PHOTO/CAPTION: a woman stands behind an almost life-size snowman, complete with hat, scarf, and white cane. CAPTION: Betty Woodward and an April Fool's Day snowman made by husband Bruce]
Questions and NFB Answers
by Betty Woodward
From the Editor: Betty Woodward is a member of the NFB of
Connecticut Board of Directors and President of the Greater
Hartford Chapter. She takes every opportunity she can to educate
the public about blindness and the work of the National
Federation of the Blind. This is what she says
One cold winter morning a fifth grader from a nearby town called me at our National Federation of the Blind of Connecticut Community Outreach Office. We have received many calls from students looking for information about blindness and Braille. Somehow Kristyn seemed different. She asked if she could come to our community outreach office and talk to me. Of course I said she certainly could.
A few days later Kristyn and her mom arrived at our office. She took out a notebook and pencil and, while her mother took a back seat, Kristyn asked me several questions about blindness, about Braille, about me, and about the National Federation of the Blind. She left our office armed with flyers, Kernel Books, and an offer from me to visit her school.
Early in May I found myself sitting in a classroom of first graders, their teacher, Kristyn, and my driver. To the best of my knowledge, these kids had never met a blind person before. They asked all of the usual how-do-you questions. But the question that topped them all that day was one addressed to my driver, "How did you get her into the car?"
"I didn't," my friend said. "She got in by herself."
What an opportunity we Federationists have to set an
example, to teach and to show, yeseven first graders--(or most especially first graders) that it is respectable to be blind, that being blind doesn't mean being unable to do all the things everyone else does or go everywhere everyone else goes.
I can talk to first graders or senior citizens and let them know by my attitude, abilities, and actions that I am living a full and complete life even though I am blind. These encounters give me the opportunity to let people know what the National Federation of the Blind means to me and how it has changed my life.
By the way, Kristyn has been diabetic most of her young life. I hope she will always remember the things we talked about.
[PHOTO/CAPTION: Norma Crosby]
To and From the Convention Hotel
by Norma Crosby
From the Editor: Now that 1998 is actually here, it is time to begin making serious plans for attending the National Convention, July 4 to 11. The first step is making your hotel reservation. For your convenience, here is the information you will need: room rates are singles, $41; doubles and twins, $43; triples, $45; and quads, $47, plus a tax of 12 percent. There will be no charge for children in the room with parents as long as no extra bed is requested.
To make room reservations write directly to Hyatt-Regency DFW, Post Office Box 619014, International Parkway, Dallas-Fort Worth Airport, Texas 75261, or call (972) 453-1234. Hyatt has a national toll-free number, but do not (we emphasize not) use it. Reservations made through this national number will not be valid. They must be made directly with the hotel. The hotel will want a deposit of $50 or a credit card number. If a credit card is used, the deposit will be charged against your card immediately, just as if you wrote a $50 check. If a reservation is cancelled prior to June 15, 1998, $25 of the $50 deposit will be returned. Otherwise refunds will not be made. Here is what Norma Crosby has to say about transportation in the Dallas/Fort Worth area:
Federationists attending the 1998 convention will find many things to occupy their time when the convention is not actually in session. However, in order to experience some of those pleasures, you will have to leave the airport and the comfort of the Hyatt Regency DFW, which is located on the airport grounds. Transportation into Dallas or Fort Worth can be a little complicated if you don't have access to a car. But knowing Federationists, I'm sure that groups will form and creative minds will find a way to get around the fact that both Dallas and Fort Worth are about twenty miles from the airport property. In an effort to help everyone make the arrangements that will insure their fun, here is some information about transportation companies which can provide visitors with rides to Dallas, Fort Worth, and most of the small towns surrounding the airport property. So, if you want to spend some time Texas two-steppin' in Fort Worth or enjoying a day at the Galleria and a night at the West End District in Dallas, use the following information and have lots of fun.
You can always use a taxi for a day of fun or a short errand, but if you have only a small distance to go, you will want to find several other Federationists to share your cab, since there is a minimum charge for leaving the airport property. In 1993 the minimum was $10, and it may have risen since then. That's expensive. However, four people could share a cab and pay only two or three dollars each. Federationists are always willing to share with one another, even if they have never met before. So, if you want to go to one of the area malls, you should organize a taxi group or contact one of the transportation services to try to negotiate a better deal than cabs can provide.
When you are planning to go to Dallas or Fort Worth, the transportation services are a good option if there are only one or two going. If three or four people want to make the journey, a cab might be preferable, but the services do offer group rates, and a little planning can net you a reasonable price and a private van. Most of the services listed here will come to the hotel and provide you with door-to-door service to almost anywhere in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex. Just call ahead and let them know what you want to do, and you'll soon be having a great time kicking up your heels in Big D or sipping a cold longneck in Cowtown.
Each of these services operates a little differently, so it's a good idea to check with more than one service to insure that you get the best rates possible. If you decide to make plans with friends after arriving at the convention, you should make note of the numbers listed and contact the services once your plans are firm. Here is the list:
AAA Atlas Limo & Bus 1-800-854-6678
Discount Shuttle 1-800-748-0789
Super Shuttle 1-800-BLUE VAN (258-3826)
Aside from questions about transportation, people have been asking what shopping and other services are available in the area immediately surrounding the hotel. So here is a bit of that information.
There are malls with food courts, major department stores, and specialty shops all around the airport. Those who attended the 1990 and 1993 conventions will remember the Irving Mall. There is also a mall in Lewisville, and recently Grapevine, the town just outside the airport property, opened a large, new mall. Of course, there are also restaurants and other attractions in the area. The Ball Park, home of the Texas Rangers, is located in Arlington. So is Six Flags Over Texas. Texas Stadium is in Irvingthat's where the Cowboys play, you know. The small towns in the airport area are filled with people who will treat visitors like family, and you should try to experience some of the cuisine and small shops in them.
Of course, having the money to eat, drink, and be merry in Dallas, Fort Worth, or Grapevine is important, and visitors will be pleased that the airport is home to a number of automatic teller machines. For your convenience ATM's are located in Terminal 2E by gates 4, 11, and 22; in Terminal 3E by gates 27 and 38; in Terminal 4E by gates 14 and 21; and in Terminal 2W by gate 11.
You should also note that one of the conveniences of meeting at the Hyatt Regency DFW is that it may not be necessary to get a cab to take you to the hotel. The airport runs a subway train that stops near the long corridor running between the east and west towers of the hotel. The ride is free, and the trains run frequently. So, if you have luggage that you can carry or roll, this is a great option to consider.
Finally, let me say to those who were not able to attend the 1990 or 1993 conventions, which were also held at this hotel, the facility is wonderful. The staff is a delight, and there are restaurants for every taste and pocketbook. Some people may be a little leery of coming to this hotel because they fear they won't be able to get to town to have a good time. I can tell you that those who came to the last two conventions at the Hyatt DFW managed just fine, and we have heard lots of positive comments about the facility, the two major host cities, and the hospitality people experienced. So come and join us. No problems are ever too big for Federationists to overcome working together. Transportation to Dallas and Fort Worth during the convention is small potatoes compared to the important issues we will be discussing and the decisions we will be making. Come be a part of the excitement and fun.
[PHOTO/CAPTION: The Fort Worth Museum of Science and History]
Science Museum's Hands-on Exhibits Let Visitors See Dinos,
Reach for the Stars
by Kelly Melhart
From the Editor: The following article appeared in the June
22, 1997, edition of the Fort Worth Star Telegram. It gives
families one more idea about things to do in the Dallas/Fort
Worth area before or after the convention this summer. The
article is reprinted by courtesy of the Fort Worth Star Telegram
At the edge of the Cultural District a dinosaur has taken up residence at 1501 Montgomery Street, an Acrocanthosaurus to be exact, a meat-eating dinosaur cousin to the Tyrannosaurus Rex. The fourteen-foot-tall, 40-foot-long dinosaur is part of the DinoDig exhibit at the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History, one of eight permanent exhibits. The outdoor discovery area allows children and adults to get their hands dirty while they dig for imitation dinosaur bones.
Missy Matthews, marketing coordinator for the museum, said all the exhibits are interactive and aid the learning process. "Studies have shown that that's the way people learn," she said. "When they can discover things for themselves, it is a much more meaningful experience than reading a label."
Other hands-on exhibits include KIDSPACE; Hands on Science;
History of Medicine; Your Body; IBM Calculators and Computers;
Rocks and Fossils; and People and Their Possessions, which includes the demonstration and discovery area, Hands on History. The museum combines the mysteries of the past with the technologies of the future to create a learning environment for children and adults, Matthews said.
"We are science and history," she said. "We are an educational institution, and so our overall criterion that the films and exhibits have to meet is to educate. "
The museum is also home to a 390-seat Omni Theater, the Museum School, the Noble Planetarium, the Museum Store, and the Courtyard Cafe.
The Omni shows educational films in a state-of-the-art theater that houses an eighty-foot domed screen and a seventy-two-speaker sound system. The science and nature films are shown for a limited time, but the short footage that gives a stomach-dropping helicopter's-eye view of Fort Worth precedes every show.
The Museum School on the lower level of the museum offers instruction for children from preschool through the sixth grade. Kit Goolsby, the museum's director of education, said the fifty-six-year-old school has such a reputation that parents stand in line every fall and spring to register their children in the unusual program.
"It is truly unique because it is based on the collections in the museum," she said. "The hands-on introduction to natural science, physical science, and history isn't possible anywhere else where you don't have the collections to support the curriculum."
The museum is open seven days a week. Admission to the exhibits is $5 for adults and $4 for children ages three to twelve and seniors. An exhibit pass is good throughout the month in which it is purchased. The exhibit pass does not include admission to the Omni or the planetarium, but discounts are offered for admission to all three.
The Omni Theater is also open seven days a week, and admission is $6 for adults and $3 for children and seniors. The Noble Planetarium offers shows Wednesday through Sunday. Cost is $3. Museum parking is free and is located in the Cultural District parking area on the west side of the Will Rogers Memorial Center.
[PHOTO/CAPTION: Emerson Foulke, 1929 to 1997]
Emerson Foulke Dies
by Marc Maurer
On Monday, December 29, 1997, Dr. Emerson Foulke, a long-time member and leader in the National Federation of the Blind, died of cancer at his home in Louisville, Kentucky. Dr. Foulke was well known in the field of research regarding blindness and Braille. He established the Research Laboratory at the University of Louisville, where he served as a professor of psychology for a quarter of a century. For over a year in 1995 and 1996 he was the director of the International Braille Research Center, an international research organization focusing on Braille and communications for the blind.
Dr. Foulke was a leader of the National Federation of the Blind of Kentucky. He was instrumental in the establishment of the Research and Development Committee of the National Federation of the Blind, and he was one of the principal researchers designing innovative products for the Federation. In 1993 he was granted the Distinguished Blind Educator of the Year Award by the National Federation of the Blind. He was widely published in the field of Braille and tactile communications. He worked extensively to enhance understanding of Braille codes and to ensure their ease of use. He is one of the best-known authors dealing with research into the use and importance of Braille.
These are facts about the life and contribution of Emerson Foulke, but they do not demonstrate the character of the man. He was enormously curious about the way things are done and how people think. He was warm and generous and always prepared to offer a joke or a story. He could be serious and analytical, but he felt that the leavening of an amusing anecdote or a shaggy dog story would help to lighten the mood and make the day go better. He was prepared to give a hand and help a friend, but he was also prepared to share his knowledge, his experience, and his resources with someone he had only recently met. Among his enormous curiosities, he conducted the most extensive research in the nation regarding the way in which blind people learn through tactile images. His contributions must be measured not in individual accomplishments but in the framework of the mind and spirit that he brought to creating a better life for the blind.
My life and the lives of many other Federation members have been enriched because Dr. Emerson Foulke was our friend. He is gone, but the spirit of excitement, of exploration, and of enthusiasm that was an essential part of him is with us still.
The obituary in the Louisville, Kentucky, Courier-Journal has this to say about Dr. Emerson Foulke, a Federationist who will be greatly missed:
Emerson Foulke Dies; Was U of L Professor
Innovator for the Blind
by Katherine L. Sears
Emerson Foulke, a retired psychology professor at the University of Louisville who established a research center that developed alternative forms of reading and communication for visually impaired adults, died of cancer Monday at his Louisville home. He was sixty-eight.
Foulke, who had been blind since he was two, worked to develop alternatives to Braille because most blind Americans can't read Braille, he told the Courier-Journal in 1976.
He founded the Perceptual Alternatives Laboratory in 1968 and served as its director until he retired in 1992.
Foulke developed techniques to compress information from audio tapes. His equipment could speed up recordings of books and text and still enable someone to retain pertinent information.
He also worked to increase the number of ideas that could be expressed in Braille to make it easier for people to understand complex subjects such as chemistry and math.
Foulke also developed for blind people a curved cane that wouldn't get caught in sidewalk gratings.
Lela Johns, an assistant of Foulke at the lab, said the university closed it after he retired. But Foulke continued to devise improvements to computer codes in math for the National Federation of the Blind, Johns said.
"He was still very active in the research for improving the educational techniques and communication for visually impaired people," Johns said. "He was a very challenging person to work for. He always wanted to learn more."
Louisville resident Tim Cranmer, who chairs the International Braille Research Center in Baltimore, said Foulke was known worldwide for his innovations in electronic communications for blind and visually impaired people.
"He is probably the most widely published and widely quoted (person) in the field of Braille research and tactile communications," said Cranmer, who also is blind. "His loss is absolutely profound as far as our field is concerned. We do not have a successor for Dr. Foulke."
Cranmer said Foulke recently received the Louis Braille Memorial Award, a 3-ounce solid-gold medallion and $10,000, from the International Braille Research Center, which Foulke helped establish in 1985.
Last year Foulke spoke to the World Blind Union meeting in South America. He also earned the Distinguished Teaching Award from the University of Louisville.
His survivors include his wife, Marilyn Foulke; sisters Margaret Meyer and Patricia Rountree; and a brother, Eldridge Foulke.
He willed his body to the University of Louisville School of Medicine. A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. January 10 at First Unitarian Church, 809 South Fourth Street.
[PHOTO/CAPTION: David Andrews]
[PHOTO DESCRIPTION: David Andrews is seated at a table with two full plates of food before him. He has a fork in hand and is clearly ready to dig in. CAPTION: David Andrews always appreciates good food, prepared by his own hands or anyone else's.]
The Ultimate Chinese Feast
by David Andrews
From the Editor: This month's recipes come from the National Federation of the Blind in Computer Science. When I consulted with division president Curtis Chong about gathering recipes, he was delighted to have the division represented by one of the finest cooks in the entire organization. Most people know David Andrews as the past director of the International Braille and Technology Center for the Blind at the National Center for the Blind and as the systems operator for the NFB's computer bulletin board. But many people in New Mexico, Baltimore, the Twin Cities, and lots of places in between also know him as an excellent Chinese cook. His outlook on cooking is casual; his style is free-wheeling; and his results are memorable. This is what he says:
One common stereotype about people who work around computers concerns our eating habits. Common wisdom would have us dining endlessly on Coke, pizza, Cheese Doodles, Hostess Twinkies, and the like.
While I have been known to call Domino's on occasion, I also know my way around the kitchen, as well as the dining room and the computer room. To emphasize the point, I here offer my instructions for the Ultimate Chinese Feast. This meal, if done in its entirety, takes preparation over several days and should not be attempted by the kitchen impaired. However, as Curtis Chong, the President of the NFB in Computer Science, can attest, the results are well worth the effort.
The menu for the Ultimate Chinese Feast includes hot and sour soup, chicken and cashews, stir-fried cabbage, Szechuan cucumber salad, meat or vegetable fried rice, steamed rice, and jasmine tea. You can, of course, omit some items from the menu or add more, as I once did, but be prepared to spend lots of time in the kitchen.
A note on ingredients: Most of the ingredients for these recipes are available from well-stocked supermarkets. They all now carry bamboo shoots, water chestnuts, and soy sauce. Most supermarkets now also carry ginger root, tofu, and snow peas. Some of the more esoteric ingredientstree ears, etc.will have to be obtained from Chinese or Asian markets or by mail order. The Chinese dark vinegar and Szechuan pepper used in the Szechuan cucumber salad recipe are necessary to achieve authentic taste, so make substitutions at your own risk, but it can be done.
Do not buy inexpensive grocery-store soy sauce such as La Choy or Chung King. This stuff isn't true soy sauce and is terrible. I would recommend Kikkoman. It is made right here in the good old U.S.A., is quite good, and is widely available.
A note about measurements: Many of my measurements are somewhat imprecise. If you are into measuring things exactly, take up baking; otherwise, head for the kitchen and experiment. You can vary most measurements according to your budget, the size of your guest list and cooking vessels, and your culinary preferences. I will provide guidelines, but I generally don't measure closely, so many of the amounts are approximations. Just use common sense and your hands and have fun!
The first step is making the stock for the soup. You can use canned chicken broth to save time, but I personally would never do such a thing.
Put a large chicken into a big pot (at least six quarts), cover with at least two quarts of water, and add a carrot, an onion, and a rib of celery, each of which has been cut into several pieces. You don't have to peel the carrot or remove the celery leaves because you are going to discard the vegetables at the end anyway. You can also add a couple of bay leaves and a handful of black peppercorns. Bring the liquid to a boil, cover, reduce the heat, and cook for at least two hoursthree or four is better. Add water if needed, you want at least eight cups of stock at the end. Turn off the heat and let the pot cool.
Pour off the stock into another container and refrigerate overnight. Sort through the remaining contents of the pot. Save the chicken meatto make chicken curry casserole. (That is a recipe for another day.) Discard the chicken skin, vegetables, and spices.
The next evening you can use the chicken stock to make the hot and sour soup. You will be able to lift the fat from the top of the stock since refrigeration causes it to rise to the top of the container and congeal.
Hot and Sour Soup
8 cups or more chicken stock
½ to 1 pound pork (from chops or pork steak)
3 tablespoons soy sauce
A handful of Chinese dried black mushrooms
5 or six tree ears
A handful of lily buds
1 package tofu
1 tablespoon black pepper or more to taste
¼ cup vinegar
2 eggs beaten
2 tablespoons corn starch mixed with ½ cup water
Method: Soak the mushrooms, tree ears, and lily buds in warm water for about half an hour. This stuff smells pretty funky but is good in the soup. These ingredients are available from Chinese or Asian markets. They may be called different things. The black mushrooms are usually called "that." Tree ears may be called "black fungus," and lily buds may be called "golden needles" or something else. They are all dried products. The tree ears are generally fairly large pieces of matter with many folds and crevices. The lily buds are thin and about two inches long.
After soaking, cut out the stems from the mushrooms and tree ears and cut them into strips. The stems may be quite tough. Remove the stem ends from the lily buds. Cut the pork into ¼ by ¼ by 2 inch strips and sprinkle with the soy sauce.
Bring the chicken stock to a boil and add the meat, dried Chinese matter, vinegar, and pepper. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for ten minutes. If you like your soup hotter, add some red pepper or tabasco sauce.
Drain the water from the block of tofu and gently squeeze a little more out. Cut into ½-inch cubes. Add to the soup after the ten-minute cooking time; cover and cook for three minutes.
Gently pour the beaten eggs into the soup, beating and mixing them in with a fork. Cook for a minute or two, then add the corn starch and water. Be sure that there are no lumps in the corn starch mixture. Stir well to prevent lumping and cook for another minute or two to allow soup to thicken a little. You can serve immediately with chopped green onions to garnish each bowl, or refrigerate the soup overnight for the feast. If your guests ask you what is in the soup, and they invariably will, be evasive until they are finished. They really don't want to know they are eating fungus.
Dave's Ginger Mix
One key ingredient in many of my Chinese dishes is something I will call "Dave's ginger mix." It is fresh ginger root with a little extra kick.
I wash one or more fresh ginger roots, cut them into chunks, and throw them into my food processorpeel and all. You are going to cook them anyway, so they won't hurt you. I add two or more fresh jalapeno peppers, stems removed, and at least three cloves of peeled garlic. You can vary these ingredients according to your taste.
Process this mixture into a coarse paste. Use it in the recipes below. You can also put it into a Ziploc bag, sealing and flattening the bag with the mixture inside. This makes a thin sheet of Dave's mix. Freeze the whole thing, bag and all; and, when you need ginger, break off a piece, thaw, and squeeze some of the liquid into the dish being prepared.
On the day of the event, get up early and start chopping. With Chinese cooking you need to do virtually all of the preparation ahead of time. Once you start stir-frying, you won't have a lot of time to chop and mix.
Also remember to call your house-cleaning person in advance. After all, one of the reasons for hosting such an event is that it's a great excuse to clean the old homestead.
Chicken and Cashews
2 or more boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 tablespoon Dave's ginger mix
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon corn starch
1 teaspoon salt
1 egg white
oil for stir-frying
2 more tablespoons Dave's ginger mix
5 or 6 dried red peppers (optional)
2 ribs celery
2 green peppers (or one green and one red)
¼ pound snow peas
1 package of fresh mushrooms
1 can bamboo shoots
1 can sliced water chestnuts
other optional vegetables
½ cup chicken broth or 1 chicken bouillon cube dissolved in ½
cup warm water
2 tablespoons oyster sauce
3 tablespoons corn starch
2 tablespoons soy sauce
a handful of cashews (about a cup or as many as you can afford)
Method: The secret of this recipe is marinating the chicken. Cut the boneless skinless breast pieces into strips about two inches long by ¼ inch thick. Depending on how thick each breast fillet is, you may want to lay the slices flat and cut each one in half lengthwise to make narrower strips.
Put the chicken, corn starch, egg white, salt, soy sauce, and 1 tablespoon of Dave's ginger mix together in a bowl, mix, cover, and refrigerate for at least two hours. Stir at least once during the marinating process.
Cut the celery diagonally into ¼ inch pieces. Cut the peppers into strips ¼ inch by two or three inches. Cut the onion into eighths and separate into pieces. Wash, dry, and slice mushrooms. Drain the bamboo shoots and water chestnuts, reserving the liquid. Wash the snow peas, dry, and remove the stems. I prepare the vegetables ahead of time, storing each in a Ziploc bag. It is important to keep them separate from each other since each cooks for a different amount of time.
Other optional vegetables include green or Chinese cabbage, zucchini, green onions, green beans, carrots, etc. Add according to your taste, budget, size of guest list, and size of wok. The mandatory vegetables can also be varied according to the same factors.
In a wok or frying pan heat 1 tablespoon peanut or vegetable oilnot olive oil. Get the oil fairly hot and add the chicken marinade and all. Stir-fry for five or six minutes, until the chicken is just about done. Remove from the wok and set aside. Some of the marinade ingredients will stick to the wok. Scrape them up and add them to the chicken if you wish, draining off oil. I stir-fry using an implement that is a cross between a spatula and a spoon. It has a handle, is round at the business end, and is perforated with dozens of small holes. It is slightly concave in shape. I found it in the kitchen-implement section of my grocery store. It is great for turning stir-frying food, and the holes permit you to remove the chicken from the wok, draining off oil at the same time.
Wash the wok and return it to the stove. Heat two tablespoons of oil, and add two tablespoons of Dave's ginger mix. Stir-fry for thirty seconds and add hot peppers if you wish. Stir-fry for fifteen more seconds, then add celery. Stir-fry for one minute, add green and red peppers and cook for another one to two minutes. Continue stirring the whole time. Add the onions and cook for another minute or so. Add the snow peas, mushrooms, and oyster sauce and cook for another two minutes. You can add any optional vegetables at the appropriate times. Experience and your taste for doneness will guide you.
Add the bamboo shoots, water chestnuts, and cooked chicken and mix to heat. Add the chicken broth and allow to heat for thirty seconds or so. Mix together the reserved bamboo shoot and water chestnut liquids, soy sauce, and corn starch. Stir well to dissolve the corn starch. Make a well in the middle of the wok and pour this liquid into it. Let it sit for thirty to forty-five seconds to thicken, add cashews, and mix everything together. Turn off heat and serve.
8 cups or more of green cabbage, bok choy, or a mixture of the
3 medium onions
2 tablespoons oil
1 tablespoon Dave's ginger mix
4 tablespoons soy sauce
Method: Coarsely chop the cabbage. Peel the onions, remove ends, cut into eights, and separate into individual pieces.
Heat the oil and stir-fry my ginger mix for thirty seconds. Add a handful of dried red peppers if you enjoy such things as I do. Add onion and stir-fry for about a minute and a half. Add the cabbage and continue stir-frying until the cabbage reaches the doneness you like; it should take four or five minutes. Add the soy sauce and cook for another thirty seconds.
This dish can be made in advance and reheated in the microwave without a major degradation in its quality. It is quick and easy and goes well with baked chicken. Since cabbage and onions keep for a relatively long time, you can almost always have the ingredients at hand, especially if you keep the ginger mix in the freezer. It is also delicious when mixed with cooked egg noodles.
4 cups or more cooked rice
3 tablespoons oil
1 cup of cooked meat (shrimp, pork, chicken, beef, or whatever you like)
¼ cup minced onion
¼ cup minced celery
¼ cup minced green pepper
½ cup chopped mushrooms
1 egg beaten (optional)
¼ cup soy sauce
Method: Cook the meat in advance and cut into ¼-inch dice.
The meat can be omitted if you prefer vegetable fried rice.
Heat the oil in a wok or large frying pan and add the ginger mix. Stir-fry for about thirty seconds. Add all the vegetables and stir-fry for about two minutes. Add the meat and mix everything together. Next add the rice, stir-frying constantly. It will take a while to get everything mixed together; don't add it all at once. Stir-fry to heat. Some of the mixture will stick to the wok. Don't worry about it. If you are going to all this trouble to cook dinner, someone else can wash the dishes.
Add the soy sauce and egg (the egg helps to bind everything together), mix well. Serve and modestly accept the praise.
Szechuan Cucumber Salad
2 medium cucumbers, (about 1 pound)
3 cloves garlic
2 green onions, minced
1 tablespoon Chinese dark vinegar
1 tablespoon chili flakes in oil
½ teaspoon ground Szechuan pepper
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons sugar
½ teaspoon sesame oil
Method: If you have tender summer cucumbers from someone's garden, you can leave most of the skin on the cucumbers. If you have the grocery store variety, remove most of the skin in lengthwise strips.
Cut the cukes in half lengthwise and scrape out the seeds. Cut each half into two pieces lengthwise once again. Then smack each piece with the side of a Chinese cleaver or the side of a big knife. This opens up the flesh to accept the sauce better. Finally cut strips into 1-inch pieces.
Mince the garlic until it is nearly a paste. A little added salt may help with this process. Mix the garlic paste with the rest of the sauce ingredients and pour over the cucumbers. Allow them to sit a few minutes, then serve.
Chili Flakes in Oil
Method: Heat ½ cup vegetable oil in a heavy saucepan until it starts to smoke. Turn off heat and allow to cool for three minutes. Add ¼ cup chili flakes (ground red chilies). The oil will foam and turn dark. Store covered in the refrigerator.
This dinner can be somewhat difficult to orchestrate, which is why you must make the soup in advance. It is also helpful to have all shopping, cleaning, and table-setting done in advance. Prepare all vegetables, sauces, and cooked rice the day of the feast. There are many good rice steamers on the market, including one sold by the NFB's Materials Center. You may wish to serve steamed rice along with the fried rice since many people like to eat their chicken and cashews on a bed of rice.
You can heat the soup and serve it to your guests when they arrive. This meal should be taken at a leisurely pace. The chicken and cashews should be started slightly ahead of the fried rice. While it is possible to man both woks, it is a little difficult. I usually draft one of the guests to stir one of the woks while I handle the other and parcel out ingredients and sauces for both at the appropriate times. People are usually glad to help because they want to know how it is all done.
As mentioned earlier, the cabbage can be heated in the microwave. And don't forget to boil water to make the tea. The experience can be a little hectic, but well worth the effort.
P.S. I once served this meal to Eileen Rivera, former President of the Baltimore Chapter, and she went into labor with her daughter Maria later the same evening. I make no claims either way, but it is an interesting fact.
Braille Books Needed:
Monitor readers may remember that in the March, 1997, issue we carried a notice from Judith Kramer offering free Braille books while her supply lasted. The response to the notice was overwhelming. Long after the books were gone, she received the following letter from Ethiopia:
November 12, 1997
Dear Mrs. Judith Kramer,
I am a blind teacher of history in Ethiopia. I also study law in evening classes. When I read in the Braille Monitor that you have available books in Braille, I felt great joy, because in my area there is no library, and I almost work and study empty-handed. As a result I determined to write for more information about the books and to request available books of history, law, or English. Hopefully, I expect your quick response.
If anyone has Braille books on the requested topics that could be donated, send them to Teklay Tesfay, P.O. Box 211, Mekele, Tigray, Ethiopia.
We have been asked to carry the following announcement:
I have for sale an electric battery-operated Canon typewriter with three cartridges and manual, $100; Scrabble board game, $50; Checkerboard and checkers, $15; Dominoes, $15; Braille compass, $25; and a Braille watch, $20. Contact Jake E. Miller, 434 N. Washington St., P.O. Box 5001, Millersburg, Ohio 44654, (330) 674-0015.
Patrick Comorato, Board Member of the Greater Philadelphia Chapter of the NFB of Pennsylvania, reports the chapter's recent election results. The new members are Margaret Mason, President;
Leon Conaway, First Vice President; Bernice Johnson, Second Vice President; Marilyn Klein, Secretary; and Lois Holmes, Treasurer. Patrick Comorato and Stanley Ingram are the new Board Members.
Computer System for Sale:
We have been asked to carry the following announcement:
I have for sale a complete computer system (two years old) including access technology. The system includes a Gateway 2000 p5-133XL computer. The full tower system includes a 133 MHz Pentium processor, 32 megabytes of memory, a 1.6 gigabyte hard disk, 3.5 and 5.25 inch floppy drives, a 3-disk quad speed CD-ROM changer, Creative Labs AWE32 Sound Blaster sound card and speakers, Matrox Millenium SVGA video board and 17-inch monitor, and a Jumbo 1.3 gigabyte tape backup drive. The system also includes Windows 95, DOS 6.22, Office 95, Encarta 95, backup software for the tape drive, and various other CD-ROM disks and other software programs. The system can also be sold with a SynPhonix 215 speech synthesizer, the latest versions of Artic's Business Vision and WinVision, and the SONIXTTS module. I am also willing to throw in a Hewlett-Packard 2p scanner with interface card.
I am asking $2,500 or best offer for everything. I would
prefer to sell everything together but might be willing to sell
the access hardware/software and the scanner separately if no one
is interested in the whole package. You can contact me by calling
(612) 696-1679 or sending e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org
NFB of Iowa member John TeBockhorst of SOS Send Our Silks, a
small company selling silk-flower arrangements, writes to say
that in the Miniature appearing in the December issue the
business Web site address was incorrect. The right address is
We regret the error.
Max Woolly Dies:
We recently learned that on Friday, December 19, 1997, J. Max Woolly, superintendent of the Arkansas School for the Blind until his retirement in 1982, died at the age of eighty-three. Until very recently Mr. Woolly, who received many honors in the blindness field, continued to be an influential force at the Arkansas School for the Blind.
We have been asked to carry the following announcement:
Accu-check II Freedom blood glucose monitor with voice output. Best offer. Call Doris at (402) 273-4361.
We have been asked to carry the following announcement:
Tina Hansen recently wrote to announce that in April of 1997 the Capitol Chapter of the NFB of Oregon elected the following members to office: Jackie Shepherd, President; Kathlene McGrew, Vice President; Tina Hansen, Secretary; and Donna Henry, Treasurer.
Ramona Walhof, President of the NFB of Idaho, reports the death of Ethel Vulgamore, former President of the Magic Valley Chapter in Twin Falls and organizer of the West End Chapter in Buhl. She died on December 7, 1997, in Twin Falls at the age of eighty-nine. Ethel lost her vision in her seventies, took training, and became dynamite in working with other blind people. Although Buhl is a small town (just over 3,000 people), Ethel was determined to have a chapter there, so she built it. When one of our deaf-blind members could no longer live alone, Ethel took her into her own apartment and looked after her. The beginning of her story appears in Walking Alone and Marching Together. Her memory continues in the hearts of those she touched. She lived a full life and continued active and productive through most of her eighties. She will be missed.
We have been asked to carry the following announcement:
Lucky Touch Fortune Cookie Company is a student-operated
business at the California School for the Blind that sells giant
fortune cookies (about six inches by five inches by four inches)
with combined large print and Braille fortunes, and regular-sized
fortune cookies with Braille fortunes. The standard cookies sell
for 40 cents each and the large ones for $6 each. We can also put
in customized fortunes. For more information please contact
Judith Lesner, Advisor, at (510) 794-3800, extension 300, or e-
mail to email@example.com
Audio Darts Tournament:
We have been asked to carry the following announcement:
Audio Darts of Pittsburgh will hold the first Harold Schledel Darts Tournament during the weekend of April 17 to 19, 1998, at the Best Western Motel, 3401 Boulevard of the Allies, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The room rate is $69 plus tax per night, and four persons may share a room. For room registrations call (412) 683-6100. The first event will be at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, and the tournament should conclude at 5:00 p.m. on Sunday. The cost of the entire tournament will be $60. Make checks payable to Audio Darts of Pittsburgh, and mail to Louis Wassermann, 2503 Silver Oak Drive, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15220. For more information, call Lois Briggs (412) 366-2630, Harold Schlegel (412) 921-0172, or Joe Wassermann (412) 687-5166.
We have been asked to carry the following announcement:
Kurzweil Personal Reader with scanner, software (version 2.2) and cassette and print manuals for $1,000 or best offer. Call Cheryl Daube at (312) 236-8569.
JAWS for Windows Needed:
We have been asked to carry the following announcement:
The Voice of Print of the Northwest Florida Radio Reading Service, Inc., a free service for the blind and physically handicapped, needs the Jaws Screen Reader for Windows 95 at a reasonable price or a tax-deductible donation to our nonprofit organization. We will greatly appreciate the help since our organization is run strictly by volunteers. For further information contact us toll-free at (888) 941-2888. Please leave your name and number, and we will return your call as soon as possible.
We have been asked to carry the following announcement:
Jumbo Braillewriter, $400 (negotiable); talking adding machine, $200 (negotiable); and Braille 'n Speak 640, $900, with carrying case and cable. Contact Kathy at (617) 969-3496 (cannot return long-distance calls).
Back Issues of the Braille Monitor on NFB NET:
NFB NET, the National Federation of the Blind's computer bulletin board system, now has over eleven years of Braille Monitors available for on-line reading or downloading. NFB NET went on-line in early 1991 and from the beginning has made available all copies of the Monitor dating from late 1990 to the present. However, users have steadily asked for older back issues.
With the help of Mrs Dyer, who was formerly in charge of the Records Center at the National Center for the Blind and who now serves as Dr. Jernigan's secretary, we are now able to make the Braille Monitor available on NFB NET, starting with the November, 1986, issue.
All issues can be either read on-line using the v (View)
command or downloaded to your own computer. They are available as
both ASCII text files and zipped versions of the same file. These
zipped files are much faster to download but require a special
unzip program to extract the file. This program is also available
from NFB NET. It has the name "PKZ204G.EXE"
Each issue's name starts with the letters BRLM and is followed by a two-digit year code, a two-digit month code, a period, and either a TXT or ZIP extension. For example, the November, 1986, Braille Monitor is "BRLM8611.TXT" or "BRLM8611.ZIP" and the January, 1998, Monitor is either "BRLM9801.TXT" or "BRLM9801.ZIP" All of the Braille Monitors are located in File Area 3.
You can reach NFB NET with a conventional modem by calling
(612) 696-1975. If you have an Internet connection, you can
Telnet to NFB NET free by using the address "nfbnet.org"
At its November, 1997, meeting the Greater Long Island Chapter of the NFB of New York elected the following officers:
David Stayer, President; Christine Faltz, First Vice President;
George Dominguez, Second Vice President; Loraine Stayer, Treasurer; Sara S. Berger, Corresponding Secretary; Lynn Juhlin, Recording Secretary; and Brad Greenspan and John Stevenson, Board Members.
Database of Accessible Books and Materials:
We have been asked to carry the following announcement:
The American Printing House for the Blind (APH) introduces Louis, the Database of Accessible Books and Materials for People Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired (formerly called CARL ET AL). Named Louis as a celebration and continuation of the work of Louis Braille, this cooperative database provides bibliographic location information for books and materials in Braille, large-type, recorded, and computer disk formats. These materials are available from 200 agencies across North America.
Louis is now available on the Internet at the APH Web site http://www.aph.org Louis can also be accessed by direct dial-in. Contact Christine Anderson, Resources Services Manager, to receive software for direct dial-in access.
There is no charge for access to Louis, but APH asks major agencies and schools submitting titles and searching Louis to make an annual contribution of $300. Contact Christine Anderson, Resource Services Manager, (502) 899-2338 or (800) 223-1839, or Gary Mudd, Public Relations Director, (502) 895-2405. You may write to American Printing House for the Blind, Inc., at 1839 Frankfort Avenue, P.O. Box 6085, Louisville, Kentucky 40206-0085, or fax a request to (502) 895-1509.
Summer Music Institute:
We have been asked to carry the following announcement:
The Music and Arts Center for the Handicapped is accepting applications from motivated blind musicians throughout the United States, in high school or beginning college, to participate in its third Summer Music Institute for Blind College-Bound Musicians. This three-week program, to be held in July at the University of Bridgeport, will provide exposure to music Braille, music composition by computer, keyboard, theory, and ensemble as well as strategies for study and independent living in a college setting. Enrollment is limited to fifteen students, who will be accepted based on their applications and over-the-phone interviews. Cost of the program, including tuition, room and board, and materials, is $2,500. Partial scholarships are available. Applications must be completed and returned by May 1.
The National Resource Center for Blind Musicians provides information to musicians, students, and teachers on music Braille and accessible music technology. The Center can provide advice about music systems or put people in touch with someone in its national network of blind musicians with experience in a particular aspect of the field.
For an application to the Summer Music Institute or to reach
the National Resource Center, contact the Music and Arts Center
for the Handicapped, 600 University Avenue, Bridgeport,
Connecticut 06601, phone (203) 366-3300,
Robert Greenberg reports the formation of the Orange-Durham Counties Chapter of the NFB of North Carolina on December 9, 1997. The officers are Robert Greenberg, President; Tonia Valletta, Vice President; and Denise Schlosser, Secretary/Treasurer.
Braille Materials Needed in China:
We recently received the following request from Larry Campbell, who conducts international programs for the Overbrook School in Philadelphia:
The Overbrook School for the Blind has been co-sponsoring a leadership development and English-as-a-second-language course for young leaders within the China Association of the Blind. While I have been to China on many occasions in the past, this time I was struck by the large number of young blind persons who are struggling to learn English. Most of them have little or no access to Braille materials in English other than those we are providing in conjunction with this course. Therefore the few magazines that do get there are read and reread until the Braille is virtually worn flat. For example, one young man with whom I spent some time was reading an old issue of Parenting magazine, which I think he must have had memorized from rereading it so many times.
It occurred to me that if NFB members had magazines or literature that they were no longer in need of, the materials could be put to very good use by these young people in China. The China Braille Press has set up a section of its library to accommodate such donations and to arrange for their circulation. In fact, Zhu Ming, who participated in the Overbrook International Program a couple of years ago, is now working in the Foreign Language Department of the China Braille Press. Send your Braille materials to Lawrence Campbell, Administrator, International Program, Overbrook School for the Blind, 6333 Malvern Avenue, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19151-2597, or China Braille Press, Foreign Language Dept., 39, Cheng Nei Street, Lu Gou Qiao, Beijing 10072, China.
We have been asked to carry the following announcement:
Zoomtext for DOS, good condition, never used. I bought wrong
version and would like to sell for $150. Contact Ricky Melchor,
593 S. Kam Avenue, Kahului, Hawaii 96732 or e-mail to
Donald Capps, President of the NFB of South Carolina, reports the formation of the affiliate's fifty-seventh chapter on November 18, 1997. We welcome the Allendale County Chapter into the Federation family. The officers are Robert Thomas, President;
Naomi Johnson, Vice President; and Vivian Durden, Treasurer.
Tactile Map List:
We have been asked to carry the following announcement:
Here is the 1998 book list of tactile drawings and maps from the Princeton Braillists:
Atlas of the Middle East, 69 pages, $20, including shipping.
Atlas of North and South America, three units in four
volumes: Unit 1, Northern North America, 59 pages; Unit 2, The United States, two volumes, 124 pages; and Unit 3, Middle and South America, 51 pages. Price of four volumes is $50, packaging and shipping, $6. Individual volumes, $15, packaging and shipping $4.
Basic Human Anatomy, 31 pages, $15 including shipping.
Maps of Individual U.S. States: Florida, 12 full-page maps
with keys; New York, 13 full-page maps with keys; Pennsylvania, 9 full-page maps with keys; Vermont, 9 full-page maps with keys. Cost of each booklet is $6 including shipping by free mail.
Maps of Morocco, 19-page booklet with seven full-page maps with keys, $5 including shipping by free mail.
Maps of Russia and its Former Republics, 16-page booklet with 6 maps with keys, $4 including shipping by free mail.
Send check or purchase order to the Princeton Braillists, 28-B Portsmouth Street, Whiting, New Jersey 08759-2049. Credit card and fax service is not available. Further information may be obtained by calling (732) 350-3708 or (609) 924-5207.
Choice Magazine Listening:
We have been asked to carry the following announcement:
Free audio tape anthologies of unabridged selections from over 100 magazines for anyone who cannot read regular print. Contact Choice Magazine Listening, 85 Channel Drive, Port Washington, New York 11050, (516) 883-8280, fax: (516) 944-6849.
We have been asked to carry the following announcement:
New complete Braille Blazer portable embosser and full case of Braille fan-fold paper; new complete DECtalk PC speech synthesizer, both complete and never taken out of packaging. Must sacrifice for $2,750 or best offer, shipped to you. Call Jerry Russell at (303) 769-4581.
Barriers to Employment:
We have been asked to carry the following announcement:
The Rehabilitation Research and Training Center (RRTC) on Blindness and Low Vision at Mississippi State University requests assistance in identifying innovative strategies or practices to assist those who are blind or severely visually impaired in overcoming barriers to employment. If you know of rehabilitation providers or employers willing to share their expertise in overcoming employment barriers, contact Amy Skinner at (800) 675-7782, or write her at MSU-RRTC, P.O. Drawer 6189, Mississippi State University, Mississippi 39762.
I pledge to participate actively in the effort of the National Federation of the Blind to achieve equality, opportunity, and security for the blind; to support the policies and programs of the Federation; and to abide by its constitution.