Future Reflections
Vol. 10,  No. 2	

Summer, 1991

Barbara Cheadle, Editor	


In Memory of Charlotte Verduin	1

by Barbara Cheadle

Cherranne	2

by Charlotte Verduin

Canes and Preschoolers: The Eight-Year Revolution	4

by Barbara Cheadle

A Letter to Orientation and Mobility Specialists	6

Orientation: What Is Your Role?	8

by Eileen Rivera

Why She Walked Out On Me	11

by Zach Shore

A Cane In Our Lives	13

by Carol Castellano

Slate-Mates: A Pen-Pal Program for Blind Youth	15

Dianne Millner to Attend National Library Conference	16

A Meditation on Moore's Mountain	17

by Ramona Walhof

Kids Korner	22

    * Student Division, National Federation of

the Blind

    * A Role Model for the Blind:■Blind Water Skier■

  * Being Blind (My True Story)

The Blind Men and the Elephant: Educating the Public	23

by Ronda J. Del Boccio

Jude's Kids	25

by Jude Lincicome

The Committee on the Blind Multiply Handicapped Child:

  What Is

It and What Does It Do?	29

by Colleen Roth

Parenting Our Blind Children	30

by Shirley Baillif

The Braille 'n Speak: Benefits for the Busy Professional

  and a

Helpful Tool for Learning Braille	32

Betsy Zaborowski, Psy.D.

National Braille and Technology Center Opens (photo)	33

Hear Ye! Hear Ye!	34


by Barbara Cheadle

Early in April the National Center for the Blind got a call from

Cathy Randall, a federationist in Illinois, with some sad

news■Charlotte Verduin, second vice president of the Parents of

Blind Children Division, had died of diabetic complications on

April 7, 1991. 

Charlotte's health had not been good for several years, but she

never slacked in her determination to get her daughter Cherranne

(who is blind) the best education possible, nor did she waver in

her dedication to the National Federation of the Blind. When

complications of diabetes made it impossible for her to walk much,

she came to NFB national conventions in a wheelchair. Her cheerful,

indomitable spirit was an inspiration to all who knew her.  

I remember when Charlotte atttended her first national convention

of the National Federation of the Blind in 1985. Her daughter,

Cherranne, was about five years old. At that time blind children at

conventions were still something of a novelty. Parents were just

beginning to discover what a gold mine of information and role

models the National Federation of the Blind is for parents and

blind children. I recall Charlotte's telling me that she was so

impressed with the people, philosophy, and attitude she encountered

at her first convention that she made herself a promise to bring

Cherranne to every annual National Federation of the Blind

convention. And, despite her nagging health problems, Charlotte

kept that promise. Cherranne has grown up with blind friends,

mentors, and models■a rarity for most blind children.

Although Charlotte was soon elected to an office in the Parents of

Blind Children Division, her willingness to work was never

contingent upon holding some title. When something needed doing

that she could do, she did it. In the six years that she was a

member of the National Federation of the Blind she published

articles in Future Reflections; the Braille Monitor; the NFB of

Illinois newsletter; and the Voice of the Diabetic, a publication

of the Diabetic Division of the National Federation of the Blind.

She had been a Headstart teacher for a number of years (as long as

her health allowed her to work) and at the time of her death was

working on a master's thesis about echolalia (verbal imitation) in

blind children.

Charlotte is survived by her daughter Cherranne, her parents Jacob

and Bethy Verduin; a brother, Lans Verduin; sisters Leslie and Jan

Verduin; and sister and brother-in-law Holly and Dana Heren (who

are now Cherranne's guardians and acting parents). Charlotte will

be sorely missed not only by her family, but by her friends and

colleagues in the Parents of Blind Children Division of the

National Federation of the Blind. 

by Charlotte Verduin

Editor's Note: Charlotte Verduin delivered the following

address July 2, 1988, during the Parents of Blind Children Seminar

at the 1988 national convention at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in

Chicago. It was originally published in the Braille Monitor and is

reprinted in this issue as both a memorial to Charlotte and as a

testimony to her effectiveness as a mother and a leader in the

National Federation of the Blind Parents of Blind Children

My daughter, Cherranne, is eight years old. She enjoys listening to

Alf on t.v., reading, and roller skating. She reads, and she does

three-column addition and subtraction. She goes to school at our

neighborhood public school. Cherranne has been blind since birth

due to Retinopathy of Prematurity. That's Retrolental Fibroplasia

in the old language. I lived through her infancy, babyhood, and

preschool years, so that makes me an expert. How expert may be

judged by the product. I hope my ideas that follow will help you in

shaping your own best products. First, you need to think positive!

I decided to have a ■can do■ baby even before I took her home. This

was a mental outlook, a philosophy that became an approach; and

even a baby picks up on confidence. There are two tips to increase

confidence and decrease anxiety. First, learn about child

development. It's a natural topic of conversation among family and

friends. There are good books to help you: one called The First

Twelve Months and another entitled Infants and Mothers. Both books

include easy-to-read charts and show the sequence of your major

developmental milestones. I found Parents' Magazine easy to read

and very helpful, and it covers age ranges up to the teen-age


Second, recognize that each child's timetable will be right. There

is no ■normal■ child. Each child will progress through the many

tasks of learning at an individual pace. The same child will learn

some things fast and some things more slowly. In the mythical

■normal■ child, this is referred to as ■ranges of accomplishment.■

Such children are referred to as ■precocious,■ ■on task,■ or ■late

bloomers.■ Because our children are blind, ■precocious■ and ■on

task■ are usually overlooked. We don't have late bloomers; our

children are ■delayed.■ Don't buy into this negative outlook.

The National Federation of the Blind emphasizes ability through

alternative techniques. I have found that in parenting there are

alternative techniques too. There is a popular statistic out there

that states that 70 to 80 per cent of learning is visual. If that

has any value, to me it only shows the need to augment or replace

visual methods with an alternative multi-sensory approach. How to

do that? In infancy, Cherranne had an ■exciting crib.■ I paid

attention to the texture of her toys. For example, she had two

turtles... one was solidly stuffed terry cloth, bumpy and rough;

the other was loosely stuffed and crocheted, soft and clutchable,

good for sinking little fingers into and shaking! Cherranne's crib

had bells, squeaky toys, a chime ball, a ■happy apple,■ and a music

box. The chime ball and happy apple are both round and make noise.

But one has a stem and leaves and a deep bell, and the other is

smooth and round and has a tinkly chime.

I filled her world with smells and odors... the stink of a new

plastic toy hammer, a doll stuffed with potpourri. Bath time, meal

time, and changing time are all full of smells, some pleasing, some

not so pleasing. Sensory awareness on the parent's part shows the

child how rich the world is. It leads the baby to interact with his

or her surroundings. You can improve nursery rhymes, songs and

games with actions. Baby doesn't have to see you reaching your arms

up ■so big■; you stretch baby's arms out■■so big.■ It's the same

game, but it's much more useful.

Talk about daily activities■■Here comes the t-shirt over your head;

first put in your left arm, now put in your right arm.■ These

thoughts help to organize the baby's thoughts. The baby starts to

look forward to things happening and the order in which they

happen. The key in infancy, I thought, was interaction, not

reaction. Bring your baby's attention to the world and spark that

natural curiosity that babies have. 

For toddlers, encourage exploration. You can utilize the child's

trusting nature at this time to attempt new physical activities. Be

brave, and teach your child to be brave. Toddlers love to help and

imitate. Explain how to do things and get them involved. Toddlers

can pick up toys and bring them to you. Toddlers can read along and

turn pages with you. Every toddler under creation discovers the

favorite toys■pots, pans, and lids! Mixing bowls are really fine

too. While they are having a thrilling time ■doing it myself,■ they

learn all kinds of things about in and out, up and down, big and

little, and so on.

Continue talking about daily activities. More and more is being

understood. Cherranne learned to do many things as we talked over

the dishes. High up on a stool, wearing an apron that got soaked

anyway, reaching into the soapy water, rinsing in the clear water,

and stacking in the drainer, we noticed the differences between

cups and plates and saucers, forks and spoons. She started

counting; she even started adding before she was three years old.

She took one fork in one hand and one fork in the other hand. How

many forks did she have? She had two. At this age the child

recognizes order, sequence, and relationships. The key now is

interaction with more purpose towards independence in daily living

skills, social skills and mobility.

At preschool age, it is time for programs. Now is the time for

involvement with other children. Infants and toddlers learn a lot

from their parents and their family environment. But preschoolers

begin to learn more and more from their playmates. Preschoolers are

very proud to enlarge their world. It may begin about age two and

never ends. It gets very intense at preschool ages. Answer your

children's questions, and even sometimes before they ask questions.

Also, turn the question around on the child, encouraging the child

to use language to express his/her thoughts about the world.

Preschool is the time to begin Braille... learning to move from

left to right on a page, going from the top to the bottom of a

page, learning to turn pages in a book, recognizing simple shapes.

Many preschoolers can learn to Braille their names at the same time

as their sighted peers learn to write.

This brings me to a point of advice to parents. You may not want to

hear it, but I think it is extremely important for you to learn

Braille. I don't know how anyone can help a child go through school

in any subject if the parent doesn't know enough Braille to catch

the children's errors and help them out. Sighted parents can

quickly learn Braille by sight. I took lessons for six weeks to

learn Braille. The Library of Congress has a self-help Braille

instruction book you can borrow from your regional talking book

library. Cherranne is now in third grade, and as she learns a new

sign in school, I learn it right along with her. I have enough

basic understanding of Braille to keep up with her.

Preschool blind and legally blind children should absolutely begin

to use a long white cane. There are two essential rules for cane

travel. The first is the child's rule... ■The tip stays on the

ground.■ If the handle is in the child's hand, and the tip is on

the ground, you are never going to go wrong. The parent's rule is,

■The cane goes everywhere and the child uses the cane everywhere he

or she goes.■ As Barbara Walker says, it's a whole lot easier to

say it than to live it!

The key again at this age is interaction, but at this age more

often child-initiated. We can produce independent, competent blind

children. For society to recognize their value, we have to sell our

product. We have to brag on our children and believe in your

child's ability to be independent and give him or her every

opportunity to advertise.


by Barbara Cheadle

In 1980 you couldn't buy a white cane for a preschooler for any

amount of money. They didn't exist. I know because we tried to find

one for our two-year-old son. My husband ended up cutting down an

adult-size cane for our son to use. The adult handle was too large,

so he made a smaller one using layers of electrician's tape. 

There weren't any canes because there wasn't any demand. There

wasn't any demand because the Orientation and Mobility (O & M)

profession didn't believe in giving canes to young children. O & M

professionals had been taught how to teach adults, and children

were taught the same way■as if they were just smaller versions of

adults. Naturally, this meant most children couldn't meet the O &

M standard for cane "readiness."  Occasionally a bright, precocious

child would get a cane in elementary school, and very rarely a

preschooler would get a cane, but almost always blind youth had to

wait often until fifth or sixth grade■usually later■to get one. 

But by 1982 this was beginning to change. 1982 was the year that

the National Federation of the Blind first offered child-size white

canes for sale (see the July, 1982 issue of the Future Reflections,

formerly the NFB Newsletter for Parents of Blind Children). To the

best of my knowledge, these were the first mass-produced children's

canes in this country. About the same time Fred Schroeder■a blind

O & M instructor, an educator, and a leader in the National

Federation of the Blind■began giving canes and lessons to all blind

children as soon as they entered school in the Albuquerque, New

Mexico, school district. (He supervised the Albuquerque Low

Incidence Programs from August, 1981 through June, 1986. See the

article, "A Step Toward Equality: Cane Travel Training for the

Young Blind Child," in the Winter, 1989 Future Reflections). His

success raised doubts about the traditional approach to cane travel

for kids and gave the professionals a new model to follow.  Then,

in 1983, while Mr. Schroeder was in the middle of implementing his

program, the Parents of Blind Children Division of the National

Federation of the Blind began distributing the video, "Kids With

Canes." This video, originating in Nebraska, showed innovative

approaches to teaching cane travel to youngsters as young as five.

Both the New Mexico program and the "Kids With Canes" video set the

stage for encouraging even earlier use of the cane. The following

year, 1984, Future Reflections printed an article which openly

promoted canes for preschoolers, "Canes and Blind Preschoolers,"

March/April/May, 1984. Since then Future Reflections has featured

a steady number of articles which focus on cane travel for young

blind children; articles such as: "God, Table Manners, and

Independent Travel: A Mother's Viewpoint"; "We Have Just Begun to

Fight;" "Joseli;" "One White Cane Saga;" "Dan;" "Cane Travel for

Preschoolers;" and "Parental Attitudes Can Make the Difference." 

Although there were a few O & M instructors eager to experiment

with this new approach, the O & M professionals on the  whole

fought this trend■they wanted nothing to do with this grass-roots

movement. (And that is what it is. Information and encouragement

came from the National Federation of the Blind, but parents■as it

should and had to be■took the lead.) Perhaps the professionals felt

threatened or inadequate to the challenge. Certainly some were

downright offended to think that non-professionals (parents! blind

people!) could actually teach them something about O & M. Please do

not misunderstand me. There are, and have been from the beginning,

O & M instructors who are open-minded and earnest in their desire

to form a partnership with blind consumers and parents. But the

overall tone has been one of arrogance and elitism.

Nevertheless, this revolution in the approach to cane travel and

children, as led by parents and nourished by the National

Federation of the Blind, could not be denied or turned back. And

the reason is in the children themselves. Invariably, young blind

children love the white cane. The joy and eagerness with which they

accept the cane is sufficient evidence alone of the need to make

this a standard practice.

Maybe that is what finally turned the tide. Although there is still

resistance from individual instructors and institutions, there is

a new tone of acceptance (although cautious and usually overlaid

with tedious professional jargon) within the O & M field. What

evidence do I have for this judgement? There are many signs and

indications■such as the warm reception given to the 1989 Handbook

for Itinerant and Resource Teachers of Blind and Visually Impaired

Students. Written by Doris M. Willoughby and Sharon L. M. Duffy and

published by the National Federation of the Blind, it includes four

chapters on teaching cane travel to children from preschool age on

up. The mild reaction to what had once been considered an extremist

approach, was one sure sign that the revolution was coming to an

end. But the surest evidence came in the form of a catalog. In the

"New Products" section of its 1990-91 aids and appliances catalog,

the American Foundation for the Blind■the granddaddy of the

blindness establishment■offers childrens cane's in sizes from 24"

on up. It seems appropriate, somehow, that the end of the

revolution should be marked by the same action which marked its

beginning when, eight years ago, the National Federation of the

Blind was the first organization ever to sell mass-produced

child-size white canes (24" and up).

Although there will still be individual battles and skirmishes as

parents slug it out with die-hard O & M instructors, it is only a

matter of time before it will be standard practice to give canes to

preschoolers. However, as we have learned from the recent war in

the Middle East, it isn't good enough to win the war; one must then

win the peace.

Parents will now be faced with a whole new set of problems and

questions. Most of these are not new to the adult blind, but they

will be new to parents. Do parents have to wait for permission from

an O & M instructor to get a cane? What if the parents and the

instructor disagree about the type of cane or its length?  Should

you wait to get a cane until your child can get O & M lessons

(however long that may take), or should your child have a cane

right away? Can blind people safely teach or demonstrate cane

travel to children? What do you do if your school can't find an O

& M teacher, or if the teacher can only come once a month? What do

you do if you get a poor O & M teacher and your child begins to

lose confidence, not gain it? Most of these questions can be boiled

down to these fundamentals ■What do the professionals really

believe about blindness? Does your child's O & M teacher truly

believe that a blind person can learn to travel safely and

independently, or does he or she have a limited definition of

independence and low expectations for your child? 

As we straddle the end of one era and the beginning of a new one in

our approach to independent mobility for blind children, parents,

more than ever, need information and guidance. In this issue there

are no fewer than four articles which address independent travel

for the blind ("A letter to Orientation and  Mobility Specialists

," "Why She Walked Out on Me," "Orientation: What is Your Role?"

and "A Cane in Our Lives.") In them are a few straightforward

answers (Yes, competent blind people can safely teach and

demonstrate independent mobility; and yes, it is best to get a cane

for a child as soon as possible, even if instruction is not yet

available.); plenty of inspiration; and best of all, a

philosophical blueprint to follow for the mobility-related problems

that will have to be solved individually by parents and blind

Editor's Note: The following letter exchange took place

as a result of the Winter/Spring, 1990, Future Reflections article,

"Cane Travel for Preschoolers."
April 13, 1990

Future Reflections

1800 Johnson


Baltimore, Maryland 21230

Dear Sirs:

An article in your Winter/Spring issue entitled "Cane

Travel for Preschoolers?" was certainly thought-provoking. As

orientation and mobility instructors, we agree that preschoolers

can benefit from the use of a long cane, and know many other

professionals who also concur.

We do, however, worry about the advisability of allowing

a child to use a cane without any instruction or monitoring by a

trained professional. Without such instruction, motor patterns may

develop which will be extremely difficult or impossible to "refine"

later in the child's life. Poor motor patterns lead to mobility

that is neither safe, efficient, or graceful.

Parents may make excellent monitors once they know which

patterns to encourage, and in partnership with the orientation and

mobility instructor, should be seen as a vital component in their

child's acquisition of travel skills.

Yes, canes for preschoolers can enhance many aspects of

their lives. Appropriate instruction maximizes the benefits in

motor development, sensory development, and cognitive development

that increased travel opportunities provide.
Tom Barnard

John Zimbelman

Parent/School Advisors

Idaho State

School for the Deaf and the Blind
May 30, 1990

Mr. Tom Barnard

Mr. John Zimbelman



Idaho State School for the Deaf and Blind

Dear Mr. Barnard and Mr. Zimbelman:

I have your letter of April 13, and I appreciate your taking the

time to share your thoughts about the "Cane Travel for

preschoolers" article in the last issue of Future Reflections. It

is a pleasure to hear from orientation and mobility instructors who

are providing canes and instruction to preschoolers. As you have

pointed out in your letter, there are so many positive benefits to

the early introduction of cane travel.

I understand your concern about children getting good instruction

in using the cane. It would be ideal if every blind child in this

country could have prompt, adequate training in all the necessary

special skills of blindness, including cane travel. Unfortunately,

this simply does not happen. Shortages of funds, teachers, and

outmoded attitudes about blindness all contribute to many, many

situations where parents of blind children■ especially very young

children■simply do not have access to good professional guidance

and instruction.

Parents often face a difficult dilemma. They can wait and do

nothing until the system can, or will, provide orientation and

mobility. (In which case the older child will most certainly have

developed a pattern of dependency and undesirable motor habits,

such as a slow, awkward "duckwalk" kind of gait. On top of all

this, the child is likely to have the typical adolescent reaction

to using the white cane (such as fear, embarrassment, and

rejection.) Or the parents can get the child a cane right away and

trust that the confidence, positive attitudes toward the cane, and

patterns of independence which early use of the cane promotes, will

outweigh the disadvantage of a lack of professional instruction.

Because we know children cannot be put on hold while our society

finds ways and means to increase the quantity and quality of

services to blind children, the National Federation of the Blind

has developed literature for parents and professionals which can

help bridge this gap. I have enclosed past issues of Future

Reflections which contain articles about cane travel and the young

child. One article contains specific do's and don't's for parents

who wish to encourage independent travel; another one describes

what a parent should know and do so that the child will be ready

for formal cane travel lessons; and yet another one has actual

photographs and descriptions of cane techniques. The most current

as well as the best and most complete instructional guide to cane

travel for preschoolers and the young child is contained in the

newly published Handbook for Itinerant and Resource Teachers of the

Blind and Visually Impaired. (A review of this book is in the

Future Reflections Winter/Spring, 1990, issue.)

None of this literature is, of course, a substitute for good formal

cane travel instruction which emphasizes positive attitudes and

builds confidence as well as skills. However, it can, as I said,

help bridge the gap created by inadequate or even nonexistent


Again, I truly appreciate your comments. I am sending a copy of our

correspondence to Mrs. Ramona Walhof, President of the NFB of

Idaho. I am sure that she, too, would be pleased to know of your

views regarding blind preschoolers' use of the long white cane.
 Cordially yours,

(Mrs.) Barbara Cheadle, Editor



National Federation of the Blind

by Eileen Rivera.

Editor's Note: The following article is reprinted from

the Fall, 1990, issue of theBraille Spectator, a publication of the

National Federation of the Blind of Maryland. The author, Eileen

Rivera, is the very capable president of the Greater Baltimore

Chapter of the NFB of Maryland.
Perhaps no single skill contributes more to the success and

self-confidence of the blind than does independent travel. Hence,

the availability of high quality travel training is essential.

Above all, good orientation and mobility (O & M) training enables

blind persons to "get ahead", to confidently travel freely and

independently anytime, anywhere.

The appropriate roles, responsibilities, and qualifications for

professionals in the orientation and mobility field have been hotly

debated over the years, remaining in the forefront of the blindness

literature. In July, 1990, the Metropolitan Washington Orientation

and Mobility Association Newsletter printed Dona Sauerburger's

thoughtful commentary "Orientation, What Is Our Role?", written in

response to Gwen Nelson's piece "Who is Able to Teach?", published

in the Braille Monitor, May, 1990. It is clear from Ms.

Sauerburger's article that she is a dedicated professional who

regularly gets her clients out traveling independently.

As a blind member of AER, trained by an experienced blind travel

instructor, I am responding to Ms. Sauerburger's request for

additional perspectives and philosophies from visually impaired

travelers. I like to compare O & M instruction to driver education.

Each conveys an important set of skills. One need not have an

advanced degree to drive safely or provide quality driving

instruction. One need not have an advanced degree to travel safely

or provide quality O & M instruction. Once trained, drivers can

find their own way and ask directions when they get lost. Likewise,

once properly trained, blind travelers can find their own way and

ask directions when they get lost. Drivers rarely depend upon their

instructors for orientation to a new neighborhood, nor do they

require additional instruction for refining their driving skills.

Likewise, well-trained blind persons need not depend upon their O

& M instructors for orientation to a new setting, nor for

refreshing their mobility skills since independent travel has

become an integral part of their lives.

What makes good orientation and mobility training?  Ms. Sauerburger

noted that good training is based on client choice and client

responsibility. Good O & M training also teaches students how to

gather pertinent information and orient themselves. A critical

component of high quality training not mentioned by Ms. Sauerburger

is the introduction of the student to competent blind travelers,

individuals who can serve as mentors and role models.

The sad truth is that good travel training is the exception rather

than the rule. Barriers exist. The worst of these barriers are

attitudinal. First, consider the agencies. Many vocational

rehabilitation agencies have low expectations for their blind

clients. They do not expect them to become independent travelers.

Second, there is a shortage of O & M instructors, so clients are

not receiving sufficient training. Third, despite a severe shortage

of certified travel instructors, an important source of new

instructors■blind people■is systematically being overlooked.

Finally, increased concern about professional liability obstructs

good client-instructor relations, further impairing comprehensive

travel training.

Generally, O & M services are provided in a haphazard and piecemeal

fashion. Consider the "get by" attitude of many agencies for the

blind. Priorities are shifted away from the basic skills of

blindness toward the "quick fix" solutions, as is the custom in

Maryland. The Maryland Department of Vocational Rehabilitation

arbitrarily limits the level of O & M instruction to not more than

20 hours. With training time so restricted, instructors forego

comprehensive instruction. Transferable skills remain untaught, and

instructors are forced to reduce O & M training to a series of

"safe" and well-defined travel routes. Such an approach rarely

results in the self-confidence essential to independent travel.

Since piecemeal training will likely remain the norm for years to

come, the question arises as to how the professionals should

respond when a blind person returns to them for additional

orientation. I believe these instructors have the duty to provide

the requested orientation. Additionally, really good instructors

will seize this opportunity to provide additional independent

orientation skills that will foster real independence and

self-reliance in the future.

Ms. Sauerburger questioned whether a blind travel instructor would

have encountered the same difficulties as the sighted one in

orienting Ms. Nelson to her new neighborhood. I expect that each

instructor could effectively provide the requested orientation (as

well as any mobility training) despite the unfamiliar neighborhood.

The outcome would most likely depend upon the instructor's skills

and creativity, not the instructor's visual acuity.

Ms. Sauerburger raised the issue of professional liability, a

significantly worrisome topic for professionals in the field.

Specifically she asks: "Does the traveler take responsibility for

his or her own orientation (including accepting liability if

something goes wrong), or is the O & M instructor still liable if

an accident happens after having oriented a traveler? If this

depends on the skill level of the client, then whose responsibility

is it to determine what the client's skill level is? If Ms.

Nelson's instructor did not discourage her from taking the shorter

route and she is injured crossing the busy street, would the

instructor be considered responsible?"

"I have heard some O & M instructors express the opinion that only

a qualified instructor should provide instruction to blind people,

and I have talked with several professionals (not O & M

instructors) who would not orient a blind person because they might

be held liable if something went wrong."

My research has yet to reveal a single liability claim against an

O & M instructor for an accident occurring after training was

completed. In fact, there is no evidence that blind persons are

involved in a disproportionate share of accidents, nor that these

accidents are attributable to O & M instructors. Holding an

instructor liable for such an accident seems as remote as finding

a driver's education teacher responsible for an accident involving

a former student.

I have heard professionals hide behind the liability issue,

refusing to provide a long white cane until a student has completed

the prerequisite training in sighted guide and protective arm

techniques. Their rationale is that providing a cane too early will

promote a false sense of security and encourage the traveler to

expose himself to inordinate risk outside the home. My experience

is that rudimentary cane skills are superior to no cane at all. For

centuries visually impaired persons have found canes of value even

without any formal training. This is not to say that excellent O &

M skills can be reduced to a mere tapping of a long white cane.

However, such a simple technique, regardless of the shape of the

arc, immediately promotes safety, not risk!

While I know of no legal action against an O & M instructor, I have

witnessed increased defensive actions on the part of instructors.

Even Ms. Sauerburger needs to document clearly a client's choice of

an unsafe travel technique and route:

"I don't consider it my responsibility to be making decisions about

which is the best route■travelers usually know their own abilities,

limitations and preferences. If I observe anything that I consider

unsafe about their travel techniques or the routes, I inform them

(and document in my notes that I informed them), but I feel that

they will decide their own priorities and preferences, and will

decide whether to try to correct any unsafe techniques."

Other instructors are requiring blind travel students to sign

liability waivers before providing travel instruction. Reportedly,

a blind woman in Texas was told that before she could have O & M

training, she and her husband must sign a waiver of liability

releasing the Texas Commission for the Blind and the O & M

Instructor from any possible suit which might result from an

accident or injury to her, both during training and after its


In response to the use of these liability waivers, the annual

convention of the National Federation of the Blind adopted

Resolution 90-15 resolving to eliminate such practices. The

Federation asserts that many, if not all, blind persons can learn

to travel safely and independently, when taught by a competent

instructor who believes in the capabilities of blind persons.

In conclusion, I wholeheartedly agree with Dona Sauerburger on many

points. I respect her efforts in encouraging clients to take a more

active role in, and have more responsibility for, their own

orientation. Theirs should be the leading role. I also agree with

her suggestion that O & M instructors and clients should clearly

delineate respective expectations and responsibilities before

initiating services. Such open communication will only promote

understanding and facilitate training.

In my mind, the appropriate role of the mobility instructor goes

far beyond the transfer of orientation and mobility skills. The

finest mobility skills remain unused if one lacks the confidence to

put them to work. For this reason, instructors must develop and

embody a positive philosophy about blindness, a philosophy which

believes in the true equality of the blind traveler to the sighted

traveler■a philosophy which promotes real independence and

self-confidence on the part of blind and visually impaired

orientation and mobility clients.

by Zach Shore

Reprinted from the March, 1991 Braille Monitor.
                   From the Braille Monitor 

Associate Editor Barbara Pierce: 

As the president of a state

affiliate, I get lots of telephone calls from people with problems.

Some of them are folks hoping to get rid of a young dog by giving

it to a blind person to act as a dog guide. At the opposite extreme

are those blind people so depressed and damaged by their

perceptions of blindness that there is very little anyone can 

initially do to help them. Most, however, are people urgently in

need of someone to listen and understand what they are going

through. I can listen; I hope I can understand; and when I can, I


The following article, which appeared in the fall, 1990, edition of 

Insight, the newsletter of the National Federation of the Blind of

South Dakota, reminded me painfully of two calls I received this

past week. The first was from a woman who became blind rather

suddenly last February. She and her husband have two sons about to

enter their teens, so she has many responsibilities in her home and

no current interest in getting a job. Right now she does not

believe that blind people can hold down jobs anywhere, but then she

herself is also prey to the stereotypes. She does not even believe

she can go up or down stairs without the strong probability of

falling. She needs rehabilitation and has established her

eligibility to receive it with the state, but she has been calling

her counselor for months to beg for training. Mostly he does not

return her calls, but this week he told her■or at least so she

says■that she could not have any training because she does not want

to work outside her home. I am now trying to get to the bottom of

that misunderstanding, but in the meantime, I found myself talking

to her about ways of moving about safely and easily in her home. 

The other call was similar. This woman was sent to her local

rehabilitation center for training of various kinds last winter.

She was given some cane travel training, but the instructor based

his teaching heavily on use of her remaining sight. She questioned

him about what would happen if she lost that bit of vision, and he

told her to think positively. She woke up one morning seven weeks

ago to discover that she was totally blind. She called the agency

that had given her the original training, but they told her that

her case was closed and there was nothing they could do. In

desperation she called the Federation. One of our members drove to

her home to give her a usable cane and stayed to work with her a

little. She was calling me because she was veering badly and could

not safely cross streets. She is about to be married and does not

want to be a prisoner of blindness in her own house. I found myself

giving her advice about what causes veering and how to correct the


I wonder what the professionals who so violently disapprove of the

blind helping other blind people with cane travel would have had me

do. Granted, I was not out on the street with either of these

women, but if I had been close enough to them, I would have been.

That would have been far more helpful to them than my telephone

instructions. Of course I can help to see that both of them get the

cane travel lessons they need, but simple humanity demands that I

pass on to them the information I have and they so desperately


Zach Shore is one of our most dedicated and talented younger

leaders. Having graduated last spring from the University of

Pennsylvania, he has now moved to Seattle, Washington, where he is

an active member of our Washington affiliate. Here is what he had

to say at the South Dakota convention last May:

Zach Shore: I have been speaking before large groups since my high

school days. Over the years I have made people laugh, cry, and get

excited. Some I have even put to sleep. But not until I spoke in

Rapid City at the state convention of the NFB of South Dakota had

I ever given a speech which angered anyone to the point of leaving

the room.

What I said in that presentation was so offensive, so morally

reprehensible, and so emotionally disturbing to one woman that she

could not even remain in the room to hear the whole of my remarks.

What did I say to evoke such a response? Did I attack any agencies

or blaspheme against any groups? Not at all. Did I mock or insult

this particular woman? Not at all. Did I use profanity or make

obscene gestures? Certainly not.

What, then, could I have said to prompt such an emotional reaction?

It is very simple. I told the convention how I went with Andre, a

twelve-year-old blind student, to his new middle school and gave

him his first cane lesson. Most people in the audience seemed

pleased to hear about Andre's success. This irate woman, however,

would hear none of it. Why not? This rehabilitation counselor and

mobility instructor felt compelled to walk out because she believes

it is wrong for me to instruct anyone in cane travel when I am not

certified to do so.

This counselor is correct about one thing: my college degree is not

in education, and I am not a certified mobility instructor. To some

degree her distress is understandable. Credentials are generally

important and meaningful. I would not want someone to perform

surgery on a child if that person had not graduated from medical

school and obtained the necessary certification. And, if mobility

instruction really required a master's degree and an official

certificate of approval, I would refuse ever to teach any blind

person cane techniques until I had obtained the necessary

documents. But of course this is not how it is.

I believe that the incensed counselor, and many other professionals

like her, are outraged by something much deeper than our lack of

certification. They believe that blind people are truly unsafe and

therefore are endangering another's life when we teach travel. Many

people, both sighted and blind, espouse this view. When they say

it, they reveal their lack of belief in the blind. If they do not

believe that blind people can travel well enough to teach the

techniques, then how can they believe that the blind can ever be

safe, efficient travelers at all?

When Andre first began exploring his new middle school with a long

cane, he was uncertain and sheepish, but he caught on quickly. He

stopped staring at his feet and started looking forward.

Negotiating stairs no longer seemed like an obstacle course.

Finding classroom doors became easy for the first time. He moved

faster and with self-assured strides. After only 30 minutes Andre

was feeling comfortable and much less frightened. That was when we

met his vision teacher.

This woman explained that she would arrange for all of Andre's

classes to be located on the same floor. She also assured him that

he would get plenty of extra time to get from one class to the

next. As she recited her incantation about how difficult it would

be for him to navigate the school building, all of Andre's newfound

confidence melted away. The more she talked, the more Andre's

demeanor mimicked her defeatist words. I tried to counteract her

spell by saying that Andre might be a bit slower at first; but, if

he were pushed to keep up with his classmates, I was certain he

would do just fine. Unfortunately for Andre I was unable to

convince her.

Blind people are teaching other blind people to travel

independently every day, and they are doing it without

certification. They cannot obtain certification solely because the

Association of Educators and Rehabilitators of the Blind (AER)

refuses to certify any and all blind mobility instructors. But

these blind mobility instructors will go on doing their jobs while

irate professionals wave their degrees and stamp their feet. None

of this is to suggest that all professionals are bad or against us.

That is not true. The blindness system, however, is predominantly

out of touch with the realities of what the blind can do.

This is not an issue of safety or of certification. It is simply a

matter of fact that blind people can both travel and teach travel

safely, whether professionals choose to believe it or not. The

angry counselor does not believe the blind are as capable as she,

and this is why she walked out on me. It is for that very same

reason that we cannot, must not, walk out on Andre.

by Carol Castellano

Last Christmas, when she was five years old, our daughter Serena

received a cane from Santa Claus. To be sure, her father and I were

a lot more excited about it than she was that first day, but it

wasn't long before Serena discovered just what it would mean to

have a cane in her life.

She realized immediately that by holding that long object out in

front of her, she could avoid bumping into things with her nose.

She also found that she could get advance warning of steps, curbs,

changes in the terrain, and the like. She no longer had to rely on

holding someone's hand to avoid potential danger. Suddenly she was


It took her about a week and a half to incorporate the new tool

into her existing repertoire of travel skills■and then there was no

stopping her. The sidewalk was hers. Unfamiliar stairways■no

problem. The way to our neighbors' house was easily learned and

Serena strolled over to deliver a package. At the mall she was free

to explore corridors and enjoy the echoes. Finding elevator doors

was a snap; escalators provided great amusement (for her, not me).

We were able to begin teaching her how to cross our quiet street

alone, a skill appropriate to her age. We began to walk to the park

like other families, holding hands sometimes for the pure pleasure

of it and not because we had to.

One day my husband and I walked over with the children to the local

school to vote. While we were busy signing in, Serena went off

exploring. She followed the strains of an orchestra which was

rehearsing in the school auditorium, a few hallways away. Halfway

down the aisle, heading for the stage, was the new Miss

Independence. What possibilities the cane opened up!

I recall how it used to strike me as a little odd to see in the

Braille Monitor picture after picture of people posing with their

canes. Were they showing pride in being blind, I wondered?  Were

they trying to prove a point?  Eventually I came to understand that

the white cane is both a symbol of independence for blind people

and a basic tool of making independence a reality. Matter-of-factly

showing the cane in a photograph expresses the fundamental normalcy

of blind people's lives.

In this year's Halloween picture of my children, the Queen of the

Prom stands holding her cane next to brother Superman. It's not a

display; it's not a soapbox issue. To us, a cane in Serena's hand

is just the most natural thing. When our NFB friends gathered for

a picnic in our backyard, Serena at one point was hanging around in

the kitchen comparing canes with the rest of the gang. Just the

most natural thing.

When I look back, I realize that getting the cane was the most

significant event to happen to our family this year. It vastly

changed Serena's level of independence; it changed mine.

At Grandma's house, we can simply direct her to the steps; no

longer do I have to hang onto her along with anything else I might

be carrying; she can proceed independently at her own pace. At the

library I can rush ahead with my pile of books, without worrying

about her tripping on the steps or falling into the fountain. When

we arrive at friends' houses, she can navigate the front walks and

stairways herself. Serena goes from our car in the driveway, along

the walk, up the front steps, and into the house alone; I do not

have to walk her. Since we are in and out of the car so many times

each day, this skill was very important to my freedom.

The cane greatly raised our expectations. It is natural now for

Serena to move along independently. We expect this of her; more

importantly, she expects it of herself. Would Serena have

progressed as much if she hadn't had a cane?  I think not. Her

curiosity and urge to explore would have been thwarted; she would

not have been able to move about nearly as freely beyond the four

walls of our home. Her development would have been needlessly


It is hard to believe that canes are not given as a matter of

course to young blind children, since the cane is probably the most

important external factor in the development of independence. What

does it say about the attitudes of many professionals towards blind

people and independence if they will not give canes to children? 

Could it mean that it is satisfactory, in their eyes, for the blind

always to be followers, always to be led?

It is impossible to understand■and chilling to ponder■why anyone

would argue against normal, natural independence in a child's life.

That is what the cane makes possible. It provides the opportunity

for the blind child to make the normal developmental moves away

from his or her parents, to be just like any other child, expected

and encouraged to venture with increasing independence into the


One day a few weeks ago, Serena's cane got stuck in a crack, and

when she pulled it out it broke. The magnitude of the disaster

suddenly struck her.

"Ooooh," she whined, "now we're going to have to hold hands."
With thanks to Joe Cutter, 0 & M instructor, a creative and

innovative person who teaches parents to teach their children and

who believes in and respects other people, sighted and blind.


Sponsored by:

Parents of Blind Children Division,

National Federation of the Blind

New Mexico Commission for the


Do you have a blind son or daughter who loves to read Braille and

is always disappointed because he or she never gets Braille letters? Do you

have a blind student who needs encouragement and motivation to improve his or

her Braille skills? Do you have a Braille reader who would really like to have

a friend to talk to about the sort of things that only another blind person

could understand?

If you do, then SLATE-MATES may be just what your child or student

needs. SLATE-MATES is a Braille pen-pal matching service for blind school-age

children and youth. The service is co-sponsored by the Parents of Blind

Children Division of the National Federation of the Blind and the New Mexico

Commission for the Blind.

This is what one mother had to say about what the SLATE-MATES

"Just a quick note to update [you about] [my daughter] and her

Slate-Mates. ■They have really hit it off with each other. They've exchanged

pictures, talking tapes, and several Brailled letters, and neither finds the

other dull. They both have a lot in common and find it difficult to meet

sighted friends even though they are mainstreamed into high schools. Thank you

ever so much for your part in the SLATE-MATES program. In fact, you'll never

know how much I appreciate this service which gives so much pleasure to my

To sign up for the program just fill out and mail in the following

SLATE-MATES Profile. Once the profile is received, it will be matched up with

another youth's profile. (Sometimes there is a delay while we wait for a

profile to come in that fits your request, so we appreciate your patience.)

Once we have a match we send each applicant a copy of his or her new

pen-pal's SLATE-MATES Profile, and the rest is up to the new slate-mates.

Please complete the following form and return to:


c/o Fred Schroeder

New Mexico Commission for the


PERA Building, Room 205

Santa Fe, New Mexico 87503



Age_____ Male [   ]   Female [   ]  Grade___________




I would like my Slate-Mate to be:__________age (please specify a range) and: 

Male [   ]    Female  [   ]

I would like: [   ] one Slate-Mate   [   ]

more than one Slate-Mate (please specify number of Slate-Mates you desire.)

* What is a slate? A slate is an inexpensive portable Braille writing device.

It is a metal or plastic frame,  usually about 2"x8" in size, which holds the

paper  in place while dots are punched into the paper with a stylus (a small

handheld tool with a metal point).It is the equivalent of a sighted person's

pencil or pen. It  is the most effective and portable method for taking notes

in class, and for other spontaneous note-taking needs when out and about in

the world. Blind children should learn slate skills no later than junior

high/middle school. 



Comments from Barbara Cheadle, President, Parents of Blind Children

Division, NFB: Leadership ability reveals itself in many ways. If

I were defining it, however, I think I would say it is the ability

to see what needs to be done, then doing it. 

At the 1990 annual business meeting of the NFB Parents Division,

parent Dianne Millner of California volunteered to serve as chair

of the Library Committee. As president, I gave Ms. Millner the same

instructions I gave every committee chair: Become an expert on your

subject; share your information with other parents through

individual contact and through writing an article for Future

Reflections; promote a positive philosophy about blindness; and

find ways to improve services and opportunities for blind children

through your committee activities. 

This was in July. It didn't take long for Dianne Millner's

leadership abilities to surface. As she gathered information she

discovered that a White House Conference on Library and Information

Services was scheduled July 9-13, 1991. Assuming that this would be

an excellent opportunity to influence the direction of library

services for blind youth, she proceeded to apply to attend the

conference as a delegate. Her application was accepted, and now

parents of blind youth have one more staunch advocate (Mr. Maurer,

President of the National Federation of the Blind is also a

delegate) at this influential national conference. 

Dianne Millner is a excellent example of the parents who are taking

on leadership roles in the National Federation of the Blind Parents

of Blind Children Division. She is aggressive; sensitive;

intelligent; committed to the philosophy and goals of the National

Federation of the Blind; and dedicated to achieving equality and

opportunity for her child and for all blind youth. 

All these qualities shine through in the following statement and

resume which Ms. Millner sent with her delegate application. Dianne

not only deserves our congratulations and admiration, she needs our

input and support. Ms. Millner has requested that parents who have

ideas, problems, or suggestions for improvements in library

services to blind youth to contact her: Dianne Millner, #32

Sequoyah View Court, Oakland, California 94605; day: (415)

836-3630, evening: (415) 568-1408




Both my three-year-old (Ashley) and two-year-old (Tori) love books.

One daughter is sighted; the other is totally blind. Each night

before bed I snuggle up to each one individually and read their

favorite books in print and Braille.

It has quickly became apparent to me that there is not as wide a

variety of books for Ashley as there is for Tori.  Additionally,

because we are an African-American family, it is more difficult for

me to find ethnically diverse or African-American oriented

children's literature in Braille.

In part because of this concern, I recently was appointed by the

president of the Parents of Blind Children Division (POBC) of the

National Federation of the Blind (the largest consumer organization

of blind individuals in the United States) to serve as chair of the

Library Services Committee of the POBC. One of my functions is to

compile information on resources of Braille books for blind

children and to suggest ways to increase such resources.

I take my task seriously. Library services for the blind are likely

the most important link to society for blind children and adults.

Without such services, my daughter will not be able to compete

successfully in school, college, or social settings.

I feel that I should be selected to attend the White House

Conference because of my appointment as chair of the POBC Library

Services Committee, because I am the concerned mother of a blind

preschooler, and because I am an African-American who wishes to

encourage the production of a wide variety of Braille books

including ethnically diverse books.

In going over my POBC notes, I ran across an excerpt from a speech

given by Frank Kurt Cylke, Director of the National Library Service

for the Blind and Physically Handicapped of the Library of

Congress, which he gave at the NFB National Convention in 1985. Mr.

Cylke stated:

"Thanks in great part to the concern of Barbara Cheadle [President

of the POBC] and to National Federation of the Blind members

interested in children, we are placing an added emphasis on work

with children...It may be stated that we must place a great effort

on refining our program for children...." (Emphasis added).

Much remains to be done. I wish to be part of that effort.

Dianne M. Millner

Ms. Millner graduated Phi Beta Kappa from the University

of California at Berkeley and is a graduate of Stanford Law School. 

During law school, Ms. Millner served as a legal extern to

California Supreme Court Justice Matthew Tobriner.

After graduation from law school, Ms. Millner practiced

law with Pillsbury, Madison & Sutro. There her practice emphasized

real estate, business, and bankruptcy law. Ms. Millner also has

served as a legal writing and research instructor at Hastings

College of the Law.

In 1978, Ms. Millner received a summer fellowship from

the National Endowment of the Humanities to study at Harvard Law

School. Ms. Millner is listed in Who's Who In American Law, Who's

Who Among Black Americans, and The World's Who's Who of Women. She

is past chair of the Corporate and Business Liaison Committee of

the William Hastie Lawyers Association of San Francisco.

Ms. Millner is a member of the American Bar Association

Real Property Section, the California Community Redevelopment

Agencies Association, the Urban Land Institute, the Real Property

and Business Law Sections of the State Bar of California and the

National Bar Association Commercial Law Section.

Ms. Millner's primary areas of practice are real estate,

redevelopment agency law, real estate hazardous waste matters,

bankruptcy and creditors' rights, and general corporate and

commercial law.

by Ramona Walhof

Editor's Note: Ramona Walhof is President of the National

Federation of the Blind of Idaho and a member of the Board of

Directors of the National Federation of the Blind. The following

article appeared in the Spring/Summer, 1989, Gem State Milestones,

the publication of the National Federation of the Blind of Idaho,

and was later reprinted in the Braille Monitor.
For the past several days I have been in Spokane interviewing for

a new office manager for our Community Outreach office. Yesterday

I talked with an absolutely delightful gentleman, who began by

stuttering and stammering about blindness. I did my best to put him

at ease.  One thing he told me was that he had seen an area for the

blind in a city park. It had special Braille signs. Gently I

suggested that it is hard for blind people to find the Braille

signs which are scattered in parks. He assured me that there was a

rope to follow from sign to sign. I did not (since I was

considering the man for a job) philosophize with him about how that

had affected his attitude, but I wonder how many sighted people

visit that park and learn just a little more to limit their

expectations of blind people. And I wonder how few blind people

visit that park and enjoy the Braille trail. The rope, of course,

is not a solution. It exaggerates the problem■and it is right there

in Spokane today.

That experience reminded me that I had promised Mary Ellen

Halverson that I would write about Moore's Mountain and the trail

for the blind established by the Department of Forestry (a

different kind of trail), so here it is.

One of my first experiences with nature trails for the blind

occurred in 1966 in London. I was spending a summer in Europe as

part of my studies for a degree in foreign languages, and while I

was in England, a friend invited me to go to a famous British park

to see a Braille trail. She was proud of it, and I went with her

partly out of politeness.  I appreciated the interest someone had

in the blind in constructing such a trail, but I found what my

friend had to say much more interesting and complete than the

limited information on the Braille signs.  In the United States I

have found the same thing to be true. Where there are special

trails or areas for the blind in museums, blind persons are often

not encouraged to visit the rest of the grounds or facility.

Sometimes we are forbidden. Directors and curators feel pride in

special adaptations for the blind and often call attention to them

for the wrong reasons and in very demeaning ways, implying (even if

it is seldom said) that blind persons cannot appreciate museums and

nature without adaptations, which reflect negatively on public

attitudes and job opportunities for blind people.

Although ropes and Braille signs may not be the best way to help

blind persons enjoy nature and museums, often we may wish to use

different methods of ■looking■ from those employed by sighted

visitors.  I well remember visiting a place called Living History

Farms near Des Moines, Iowa, where I took my children when they

were quite small.  There were live animals and old machinery to

show how farming was done in 1920, 1880, and 1840. I took advantage

of the opportunity to look (with my hands) at steers, which were

being used and cared for as oxen. They were huge and interesting.

I also enjoyed looking at old machinery, hands-on. My kids enjoyed

different things (such as pumping water from the well), and they

also had a good time. The whole place was accessible and enjoyable

to me as well as to thousands of others.

When I was working at NFB headquarters in Baltimore, I was

contacted about such matters. One call came from Judy Taylor (now

Judy Jones of Twin Falls, Idaho). She was then working in Florida

for a museum, and she had been requested as a blind staff member to

help make a certain area enjoyable for the blind. I think she said

they were considering a Braille trail. She had some misgivings but

wanted to do what was good for the blind and the museum. If my

memory is accurate, she came up with some adaptations which were

useful to the blind without changing the character of the area and

took the occasion to insure that blind people would be encouraged

to visit the entire museum and grounds.  We understand that some

items in museums are (because of age or other conditions) fragile

and should not be handled, but many do not need this protection.

Recorded commentaries in art galleries are often as interesting and

informative for the blind as for the sighted. Some tour guides give

excellent descriptions, which are appreciated by blind visitors.

Accessibility for the blind may consist of a variety of different

approaches, most of which are not exclusively for the blind.

A year or more ago Jan Gawith of the Western Chapter of the

National Federation of the Blind of Idaho was contacted by staff

members of the Forestry Department, which had some money to make a

trail on Moore's Mountain accessible to the blind. Fortunately they

asked us what to do. Jan and other members of the NFB came up with

some suggestions.  A tape would be made to carry on the trail,

along with a portable tape player, which would be available to

borrow at the beginning of the trail. Instead of a rope or hand

rail, there would be a rough wood border six or eight inches high

along the right-hand edge of the trail, which could be followed

with a white cane. The wood would look good since it would be taken

from the area and fit into the terrain.  This is truly a mountain

trail, 5,000 or 6,000 feet high, north of Boise above the Bogus

Basin ski area. The trail was nearly finished last fall, and

several members of the Western Chapter of the NFB of Idaho went up

and walked along it one Saturday in October. I regret to say that

I was out of town that day and did not get to go, but I am looking

forward to an opportunity to do it. Our members are quite happy

with the way it turned out, and so is the Forestry Department.  

On April 14, 1989, there was a meeting at Boise State University to

discuss ■making the forest accessible to the handicapped.■ Our

member, Dana Ard, who attended the meeting, was pleased with the

tone of the discussion. The goal of the group is to make it

possible for the handicapped, including those in wheelchairs, to go

into the forest to camp and relax with friends and family. That

would require leveling, widening, and paving some walkways.

Currently most campgrounds could not accommodate a person in a


At the April 14 meeting there seemed to be a good understanding

that all handicapped people do not require the same adaptations as

those needed by individuals in wheelchairs. Dana felt good about

the meeting.  A few days later there was a news report on KBOI

radio, and obviously the reporter (who had not been at the meeting)

did not understand.  Her news story indicated that the blind

probably could not go into the forest without these proposed

accommodations. It is safe to assume that more people heard the

news story than attended the meeting, so we have some work to do

with the reporter and KBOI.

It is fair to say that some adaptations are useful to the blind. I

think of computers, for example. If a person needs to get

information out of a computer once a week and a sighted secretary

is using the computer frequently, it doesn't make sense to install

speech or Braille output. Having the secretary provide the data

would be better. On the other hand, when a blind person is using

the computer regularly and often, speech or Braille output is the

sensible way to go. Perhaps the situation is not exactly the same

with nature trails■but I wonder.

A few years ago I went backpacking and camping with my teen-agers

and one of their friends in an area near Red Fish Lake. We had

planned to take a six-mile hike up the mountain to a small lake,

camp overnight, and come back down the next day. I was not prepared

for what I found.  I was carrying a forty-pound backpack; was

wearing tennis shoes instead of hiking boots; and was somewhat

overweight, inexperienced, and physically out of shape■and in

addition, the trail was six or eight inches wide. On the left was

a drop-off toward a large creek or river. On the right was a steep

mountain going up. The trail was rough, crooked, rocky, and

beautiful. We were 7,000 feet above sea level. The air was thin,

and the sun was hot. I was with three sighted teen-agers, and

blindness was not an asset. We traveled about two miles along that

trail, and for me it was slow and painstaking. I appreciated the

assistance of my daughter, who went at my pace just in front of me

while the other two covered far more territory on ahead. After two

miles of mixed enjoyment and toil, I decided to turn back, to the

disappointment of three kids■and, incidentally, me. That decision

was not made simply because of blindness, but blindness was one

factor in my ability to negotiate that trail. Along with my

inexperience, blindness helped to slow me down. We camped at the

bottom of the trail instead of the top.

I expect to find the trail on Moore's Mountain more pleasant. It is

wider, and the guiding border along the edge will make it easier to

follow. It is truly a mountain trail■with all of the rocks, plants,

animals, insects, dramatic views, and general atmosphere which

cannot be found anywhere else.

However, I certainly would not want to be barred from doing

backpacking with my kids at Red Fish. Blind persons must insist on

their right to be included in all areas, not just certain ones that

have special modifications.

Like the sighted, the blind must have the right to make decisions,

attempt difficult feats■and, yes, take risks. We must insist on the

freedom to reach for more than we can grasp, try when we may not

succeed, and learn for ourselves ■with no more interference than

the sighted experience. That is the very essence of learning,

growing, and indeed a full life. How many sighted mountain climbers

would ever have reached the peaks if they had been judged by the

standards which society has traditionally imposed on the blind? I

wonder how many of those who have been reading this article have

already said (either to themselves or others), ■Well, naturally she

couldn't successfully compete on the trail at Red Fish. No blind

person could do it. Moreover, this torpedoes her whole NFB

philosophy of independence and competitiveness.■

Those who have had such thoughts should read again and think again. 

They have not understood. Let them read on. There are blind people

in Idaho who go backpacking regularly and are far more skilled at

it than I. There is no question that experience and equipment make

anyone far more successful, so I say that there is room for a

variety of approaches.

Speaking of experience, consider the conditioning and opportunities

which have traditionally been available to the average blind

child■or, for that matter, the average blind adult. My son Chris

(sighted) first went backpacking with the Boy Scouts.  He has

become good at it and has the necessary equipment and confidence.

At a young age he learned to enjoy and respect the wilderness and

be quite self-sufficient.  My daughter Laura (also sighted) went

backpacking with a junior high church group for a week and also

learned to enjoy the wilderness.

I wonder how many blind children have had these kinds of

opportunities, or are having them today, or will have them

tomorrow. In our state the Lions and the school for the blind

sponsor an annual winter camp for blind teen-agers. Blind kids from

throughout the entire state go there and, I gather, have a good

time. And they accomplish at least two things:  First, they get to

know each other. Most have no contact with other blind people in

their communities. Second, they get some good outdoor experience,

which may be rare for some of them. But I wonder how many of those

teen-agers would (even by those who applaud their going to the

special camp) be encouraged to go camping in the wilderness with

scouts or church groups.

To a large degree, wilderness opportunities for blind children and

adults will depend on what you and I as members of the National

Federation of the Blind do. Working with the forestry department on

Moore's Mountain is part of it, and educating news commentators is

another. Meeting with other groups of handicapped people who wish

to make the forest accessible is still another. Being vigilant

about attitudes and living active positive lives will do even more.

That is what the NFB is all about. We talk to civic and school

groups, sell cookbooks, work on legislation, try to educate the

airlines, and build better training and employment opportunities

for the blind. And we work to see that opportunities are available

for the blind in parks, museums, and the wilderness. It is all part

of what we are and what we do.

More and more people are coming to Idaho to go camping and

backpacking.  Wilderness backpacking trails are challenging and

scenic, and Idaho provides many unique and interesting experiences.

I myself have climbed down rocky and steep slopes to wade in Indian

bathtubs, hiked a very easy trail through the Birds of Prey

Reserve, walked and crawled in and out of caves at the Craters of

the Moon, and climbed the sand dunes at Bruno. There are other

places I have visited or still wish to see in Idaho, and I am sure

that many other blind people in this state have done likewise. I am

equally sure that many blind people have been cautioned,

discouraged, and prevented.

So while our chapter discussed the trail at Moore's Mountain, I

reflected and meditated. When I can find the time, I am going

hiking at Moore's Mountain■and I may have another try at the trail

at Red Fish Lake.

Postscript: The following item about Moore's Mountain appeared in

the Fall, 1990, issue of the Gem State Milestones.

by Mary Ellen Halverson
On Saturday, July 14, Western Chapter members and friends headed

for Moore's Mountain.  As you may recall, the Forest Service has

worked with the Western Chapter in establishing trails around

Moore's Mountain.  We were very pleased the Forest Service came to

us for input regarding any special needs we as blind people might

have for hiking along the trail. In general, we know that blind

people can go hiking and camping anywhere they like with no

problem.  However, the Moore's Mountain trail has a couple of minor

accommodations that make for a pleasant and leisurely stroll around

the mountain top.  A five- or six-inch high "kick board" has been

set along the right hand side of the trail so that our canes can

easily find it. It is unobtrusive and natural looking. The Forest

Service will also be producing a tape which will describe sites of

interest along the way. The texture of the kick board will change

as one approaches one of these sites.

Best of all, the trail is natural, complete with stinging nettle,

horsemint, big granite rocks within one's reach, and fields. If you

prefer a more rugged hike, Idaho has many beautiful forests and

wilderness areas to offer!

The Student Division of the National Federation of the Blind is an

organization dedicated to considering and acting upon issues of

concern to blind students. With affiliates in over 20 states around

the country, and a Board of Directors with members in widespread

geographic locations from Connecticut to California, the Student

Division provides an excellent nationwide network for blind


The Student Division incorporates two basic areas of endeavor. It

is both a self-support network for blind students and a mechanism

for political action. Serving as the collective voice of organized

blind students in America, the Student Division meets on a

continuing basis with such major service providers as Recording for

the Blind and the Educational Testing Service. Our affiliates,

called Student Chapters, also work on both levels (personal network

support and collective action) to promote better opportunities for

blind students in their areas.

We are devoted to changing what it means to be a blind student in

America. There are great opportunities both to give and receive

through involvement in the National Federation of the Blind Student

Division. For information, contact:
Michael Baillif

 NFB Student Division President


Larga Vista Road

Valley Center, California 92082



World Champion Blind Water


Helps Find Jobs For The Blind
Editor's Note: This article was written by Darrell Fry

and published in the St. Petersburg Times. It was later reprinted

in a publication of the National Federation of the Blind of

"The hardest part is just believing it can be done and that you'll

be safe out there," Ted Henter Jr. said. "There's always that fear

of smacking into something."

Henter, a St. Petersburg resident, is a world■champion water skier.

Henter's also blind.

The 38-year old man, who grew up in the Panama Canal Zone, has been

water skiing since he was 7 years old.  He lost his sight in a 1978

automobile accident in England, but saw no reason to give up water

skiing just because he was blind.

"My family and friends knew it would be no big deal, but when I

told other people they were quite surprised," said Henter, who was

also a motorcycle racer before the accident. "It never occurred to

them that blind people could ski."

Indeed they can. Henter is the United States National Blind Slalom

champion and the U.S. Blind Trick Skiing champion. And two weeks

ago at the inaugural World Water Skiing Trophy for the Disabled in

Wraysbury, England, Henter took the gold medal in the slalom and

the bronze in the trick competition. The event on Heron Lake near

London drew more than 40 disabled skiers from 10 countries.

"They had an event for (ski) jumping and only one person made a

successful landing," said Henter, who also snow skis, roller skates

and surfs. "I've never done that and I didn't want to try it then."

The slalom course for blind skiers is different from  one used for

sighted skiers. Instead of following a course outlined by buoys,

the blind skiers zig-zag back and forth across the wake of the

boat. The skier who crosses the wake the most times within a

specified time is the winner.

But the trick skiing event isn't much different from regular

competition. Henter's best moves are 180- and 360-degree mid-air

turns and a trick called "side-sliding" in which he turns his skis

perpendicular to the rear of the boat.

Henter gets help from his father and wife in the boat. One person

drives while the other gives signals to Henter by blowing a

whistle. For instance two short blasts from the whistle tell the

start. One short blast means he's in position and signifies the

start of his run. Two more short blasts means the run is over and

one long blast as the boat heads for shore tells him to let go of

the tow rope.

Through his example, Henter has been trying to show other blind

people that there's nothing they can't do.

In 1985, Henter who has a degree in mechnaical engineering from the

University of Florida, started his own business in St. Petersburg

called EnTech Co. It's a consulting firm for companies interested

in hiring blind people for various jobs.

Business is good, Henter said. When he's not on skis, he's flying

around the country training blind people for various jobs. One of

his biggest clients is Federal Express.

"I also design software and hardware that makes computers talk, so

blind people can use them," he said.

"I want to help change the way society looks at blind people. Once

people realize a blind person can water ski, then they'll realize

blind people can be employed, and they can be successful.


(My true story)

by Sindy Greenwell, Grade 5

Lothian Elementary


Ann Arundel County [Maryland]
Reprinted from the Baltimore Sun newpaper, Monday, March

25, 1991.

I was born blind. I could read large print until I was 5.

Now I'm 10 and totally blind. I go to a public school. Being blind

requires a 10-pound brailler and a cane about one meter long. The

more I grow, the bigger the cane. My friends are very helpful, and

I can trust them. I can climb on the bars at recess. I can do

anything I want if I try. You see, being blind doesn't mean a

thing. Just because I may mess up on something doesn't mean it's

the end of the world. I could always try again. And I don't need

much help on things, either. Now you know what it's like being



by Ronda J. Del Boccio 

Reprinted from the Minnesota Bulletin, Summer/Fall 1990;

the newsletter of the National Federation of the Blind of

The story about the seven blind men and the elephant keeps coming

back to haunt us. Recently I attended a presentation at a local

church in which the speaker used it. After he finished, I talked

with him about the negative portrayal of blindness in that tired

old metaphor.

"What the story means is that a person who cannot see cannot know

truth," I explained. "The story incorrectly equates eyesight with


I spoke in a straightforward yet undefensive manner.  After all, I

was interested in persuading the gentleman to my point of view, not

in creating an enemy for life. I helped him understand the harmful

effect such a story can have by using my own experience. I

explained that as a blind person I am not likely to mistake the leg

of an elephant for a tree trunk.

"I know what the story is trying to point out, but perhaps there is

a way to say the same thing without making any group of people seem

unobservant or ignorant," I said.

Often, people do not think about the way characters are portrayed

in stories. When we make them aware of discrimination they are

usually willing to listen and to change the stories they use,

provided we educate them in the spirit of good will.

The speaker thanked me for making him aware of the negative image

of blind people. He had not realized that the story reinforces

stereotypes about blindness. As I talked with him, a more positive

allegory came to me. I share it here as an alternative to the

elephant story. It does not present any person or class of persons

negatively. Here is the story I told to the speaker.

On a bright spring morning, several people walked along a path

through the woods. They came to a tall oak tree whose thick trunk

and sturdy branches revealed its great age. They stopped to admire

the tree, each in a unique way. Before continuing their journey,

they shared their experience of the tree.

"What a beautiful tree!" one of the group exclaimed.

"I love the shade it provides," said a young man. "It must make a

nice resting place on a hot summer day."

"Did you hear all those birds?" asked an older woman "This tree is

big enough to provide a home for dozens of birds and animals."

"I hadn't thought of that," said a younger woman "But I was

thinking about how long the tree has been here. It must have been

a sapling before the Europeans colonized the country."

"You must be right. I noticed how thick and strong the bark is,"

someone else added.

"Some woodpeckers have burrowed into the tree," an older man


"It would be fun to climb to the top and look at the rest of the

woods," a child squealed.

"I'm sure it would," said one of the men "I enjoy the smell of the

leaves and the damp earth."

"The roots must dig deeply into the ground. I wonder what they look

like," a teenage boy mused.

"This is truly a beautiful tree," one of the company observed.

And all agreed. 


by Jude Lincicome

From the Editor: When Jude Lincicome came to her first National

Federation of the Blind function with her three preschoolers in

tow, everyone who met her agreed on one thing: she had a great

bunch of kids! Sarah was so bright and personable, Danny so cute

and polite, and you could just hear the wheels turning in Jeremy's

head as he took everything in. They were curious, alert, and just

sparkled with the joy of living. The paraphernalia which marked

these kids as physically disabled (motorized wheelchairs, leg

braces, etc.) quickly receded to mere background significance

within a few moments after meeting these personable children. 

The woman who can take credit for these lovely children is Jude

Lincicome. Jude is the single adoptive/foster parent of seven

children, all multiply handicapped and medically fragile. She

currently has three children at home, including three-year-old

Jeremy, who is blind. (By the time this article is published, she

will have added one more child to her family.) Jeremy, like her

other children, doesn't have just one disability (the blindness).

He was a "preemie" whose multiple problems began when he was three

days old. He had an intestinal perforation and immediate surgery

was required in which about one third of the intestine was removed.

He had an ileostomy for many months. Later, he developed a lung

disease (broncho-pulmonary dysplasia and reactive airway

disease■which, Jude says, is something like having continuous

asthma) and suffered intra-ventricular bleeding on both sides of

the brain. As a consequence of the bleeding, he has mild cerebral

palsy which has weakened the left side of his body. In addition to

the retinopathy of prematurity (the major cause of his blindness),

he has glaucoma in his left eye. 

Of his development, Jude says, "For a child that was supposed to be

a vegetable all his life [because of the intra-ventricular

bleeding] he's turned out to be pretty much on age level." Eating

was a problem at first because of difficulties caused by the

broncho-pulmonary dysplasia/reactive airway disease/cerebral palsy

combination of conditions. However, Jude and Jeremy persisted, and

today he can scoop with a spoon, feed himself, and handle a cup

independently. Jude also expects Jeremy to master both cane travel

and Braille. He is working on learning his shapes, loves to "read"

along with his finger with mom as she reads to him, knows where to

find the page number in a book (though he can't read it yet), and

best of all, enjoys books and looks forward to learning to read. He

will soon have a cane. So far, Jeremy is very mobile in his

environment■walking to and from the bus on his own■and loves to

run, Jude says. She is afraid, however, that if he does not get a

cane soon that he will lose this momentum. The professionals have

resisted, but Jude is persistent and is confident that he will have

cane instruction soon.

Busy as she is with her own children, Jude finds time to advocate

for other parents who call on her for information and advice and

also to help find adoptive homes for disabled children who need a

family. Because of her pediatric nursing background and her

practical experience in mothering disabled, medically fragile

children, she is also often called for consultation by hospital

social workers, doctors, and nurses. 

The following article is based on a speech Jude gave at a parents

seminar sponsored by the Maryland Parents of Blind Children

Division of the National Federation of the Blind. In it, Jude

shares her very personal feelings and philosophy about raising 

multiply disabled, medically fragile children. She is plainspoken

with strong opinions, and is not afraid to raise issues that others

consider taboo. Here is "Jude's Kids."

Jude: Hi everybody, I'm real glad to be here. I think the first

thing I want to share with you is that all of my children are

adopted. I'm working on getting my seventh child, and she will be

with us in probably about a month and a half. All of them have been

multiply handicapped. The little boy sitting next to me is my most

handicapped child right now. When I found him he was totally unable

to do anything. He had never been expected to do anything and

therefore he did nothing. He was thirteen months old. He could not

hold his head up; he did not swallow; he did not reach for toys; he

did not roll over. His eyes turned toward the bridge of his nose.

His left arm and both legs were paralyzed, and he had no social

smile. So I guess that's pretty much the picture of a child who is

a slug. And literally, he was very slimy. He had yucky coming out

of everywhere on his body. I guess because of that no one had even

gotten him up in a rocking chair and rocked him. 

Well, what you see now before you is a little boy who can count

from one to ten (although his mouth doesn't work too well). He's

extremely polite. Last weekend we had to take him to the hospital

because he was in shunt failure. When the paramedics left■he was

lying there almost unable to breathe■He said to them, "Thank you."

He's a real special little fellow. 

I think what I wanted to share with you most were a few little

ideas about being a parent. I think I can qualify although I've

never had any biological children. But then, I've had more children

than most. I think that being a parent of a handicapped child is

being an expert when all the professionals around you think that

you're a mother. You know your child. You know exactly what your

child can do and cannot do. And believe me, it's a whole lot more

than what anybody else will want you to believe. I was told that

this child here would never sit up■never sit up! [He is sitting

next to her as she speaks.] I have another little girl out there

who is in a motorized chair, but she can walk. I was told she would

never sit up either, that she would be retarded. She's very bright.

She is going to be mainstreamed as soon as she is old enough to go

to school. She's been walking since she was about fifteen months

old. I had to make her first braces because no one would let me

have any. "She'll never walk," they said. 

In the school system I am the expert at the ARD meeting for other

children. Other parents call me and say "Come with me; I need some

help." The professionals look at me and they say, "Wow, we really

are lucky to have this lady here because we can really get some

good stuff done for this child." But yet, I can go from one ARD

meeting for someone else's child where I am the expert, into an ARD

meeting for my own child (and the only thing that's changed is that

I have eaten lunch) and I am stupid. I am a mother. I know not what

I am talking about. My expectations for my child are totally


Being the parent of a special needs child has an awful lot of

implications that you would never think of such as: (and when I get

finished I suspect that you guys will think that I've been peeking

in your house) You get out of the shower before you're done and the

soap's still on because your kid cried and you have to know what's

going on. Or, you have to stop going to the bathroom■real quick,

right?  You have to miss a lot of work because your kid is sick and

nobody else knows how to take care of him or her. You and your

husband have planned for a long time to go somewhere, and all of a

sudden you can't go because your kid doesn't look exactly right or

your baby-sitter says "I'm sorry, but I have something else I need

to do". And everybody else is going, but you're sitting at home.

The friend that you had all your life, the one you shared all your

intimate secrets with and who had so much in common with you, all

of a sudden you're strangers. You do an awful lot of

soul-searching, an awful lot of self-examination. You feel like

you're banging your head against a blank wall. You're trying to

figure out what is going on: "I don't understand this. Why am I so

different? Why did all this happen to me?"  You almost feel that

you're growing another part to your body, and it's shaped like a

kid, and it's attached, and you can't get it off. It goes with you

when you wash the dishes. It goes with you into the bathroom. It

goes with you to work. Even though it's not with you, it's there.

Right?  It invades your thinking, your planning, your work, your

play, your body functions. You now have something added to your

body, to your whole being. 

Is it any wonder then that your spouse has no idea what you look

like anymore? Does it stop you from talking to one another, because

even he or she doesn't understand? That's a real big problem,

people. We need to keep talking to one another. Talk about

important things. Talk about how you don't like this, how you're

not having very much fun at this party. Because believe me, your

spouse isn't having very much fun at this party, either. Here's a

biggy. You never thought you'd cry so much in your life. You have

so many tears. Where do they all come from? They can't possibly

come from me. I never cried like this before in my life! But you

know the tears that you cry are not just tears of pain. Those tears

will also become tears of joy. I have never in my life experienced

the joys that I now know because of my children. Believe me, I know

what the pain is because I had a doctor let one of my children die

because he wouldn't recognize me as an expert. So I know the pain. 

But being a parent of a special needs child and a multiply

handicapped child is, I think, kind of like the metamorphosis of a

butterfly. When you first discover that you are the parent of a

special needs child, you feel like a caterpillar. You don't like to

touch yourself. You don't like the way you look. You're sure you

look yucky to everybody else. You feel like that caterpillar. But

the thing is that you're eating up everything. You're learning

everything. You're taking everything in. You're watching

everything. You're probably reading everything you can find, right? 

You are slowly but surely making that caterpillar large, full, and

soon it's going to go into that chrysalis. Something is going to

click in your head and you'll say "This wasn't so bad after all."

And you look at your child. You've been really, really working

hard, and all of a sudden your child starts to blossom and meet

your expectations. He or she starts to meet his own expectations.

The people around you are doing a pretty good job. Do you know

what's happening to you?  You've come out of that cocoon and you're

a full-blown butterfly. And believe me, I think you're a whole lot

better person because you've gone through this with your child

(this thing attached to your body, right?). Somehow you now know

joy better than anybody else.

The eastern people in their religions have something called the yin

yang. Has anybody heard of that?  By golly, it is real. Because

your pain is so intense, your ability to feel joy is multiplied

ten-fold. That is the yin yang. Without that pain you would never

be able to feel that joy, that euphoria over your kid's reaching

for a toy for the first time. He didn't know it was there, but he

had faith that it was there. He was right!  Does that bring tears

to your eyes? Do you remember that? I remember that. It's a very

scary world, but it's also a very, very happy world. The joys that

you feel are sparked by the very tiniest of things. Once, one of my

sons was having difficulty in passing his urine. When he finally

had a big diaper full of urine, I was ecstatic! If anybody had ever

told me twenty years ago that I would be ecstatic over ■, well,

it's not something you can tell most of your friends. 

I have a friend who has a child that was born with no brain. She

has a brain stem, so that means the heart beats. She breathes.

Somehow she can suck a little bit, but even that's going. She is

blind, she is deaf. She doesn't have the front part of the brain

which would allow her to feel any kind of pleasure. So she is a

child that just lies there. That mother said the most outrageously

wonderful thing to me. She said to me, "Jude, you will never, never

know how blessed I am with this baby. She has taught me the real

true meaning of love, of giving, of learning, of accepting, of

cooperation, of communication."  When you come to think of it guys,

why are we here on this earth?  Isn't that all it?  Isn't that it? 

She learned that from her child with no brain. How many of us have

ever felt like maybe somebody kind of did a dirty trick to us?  But

this lady feel genuinely and thoroughly blessed with her child who

will never even smile at her; never reach for her; never give her

anything but herself, for whatever that is. 

We've been talking about pain and we've been talking about joy, but

there's one other emotion that's very much present when you parent

a special needs child. And it's not one that you need to keep

around. You need to keep around joy for obvious reasons. You need

to keep around pain, too, because without the pain you can't know

the joy. But guilt is a very, very destructive emotion. It serves

absolutely no purpose. But for some reason, we as human beings

think we need to tuck it in our pocket, keep it, and treasure it.

We think, "I must have done something for this to have happened. My

husband had to have done something to make this happen. It's in my

genes. God must be punishing me." Did you ever think any of those

things?  In the soul searching and the self-examination that I

talked about before, you somehow don't come up with, "Wow, were you

ever a neat lady!" or "Wow, you are some super man." You come up

with, "I must have done something wrong." These feelings can be so

damaging, especially in the way they affect your child. Because if

you are guilty of something, then you have to somehow make it all

right, right? You end up making it all right by saying "Oh, isn't

he cute? Don't make him do that, he's crying. He doesn't want to do

that today. Oh, go get it for him. Look at him. He's trying so

hard." That, ladies and gentlemen, will be the one thing that will

kill your child's chances. He's going to think that this world owes

him something, but this world does not owe any of us anything. It

will never give us anything that we don't take for ourselves. 

So, take the guilt that you have. Look at it. Examine it. Do

whatever it is that you need to understand it, and then throw it in

the trash because that's where it belongs. To begin with, it

doesn't make any difference whose fault it was or whether it was

anybody's fault. Here you are. It is you and your child. The only

way your children are going to perform those miracles that I know

you can make them give is for you to accept yourself and accept

your child for whatever and whoever you both are. I've performed

three miracles so far, and I'm about ready for a fourth one because

she's coming to live with us soon. 





by Colleen Roth

Note from Barbara Cheadle, President of the Parents of Blind

Children Division of the National Federation of the Blind: Ever

since I appointed Colleen Roth and Ruth Van Ettinger as co-chairs

of the Committee on the Blind Multiply Handicapped Child, the role

of this important group has been mushrooming. Here is Colleen

Roth's brief report on the committee and its efforts:

The focus of the Committee on the Blind Multiply Handicapped Child

is children and adults with blindness and some other disability,

which can be physical or mental. Individuals in this group range

from those with above average intelligence and a physical

disability to those with profound mental retardation in addition to


We share information with families and professionals who work with

this special population. In general we find that blindness is not

the primary disability when mental retardation or other

developmental disabilities are involved.

We circulate a periodic update, which is sent to all the families

and professionals who have requested information, and we continue

to prepare new materials that these families and educators need. We

currently have 250 families and professionals on our mailing list.

We also network families and professionals with others coping with

similar situations. We get the information we need to match people

up by sending out questionnaires. Families who have requested

information are sent a questionnaire which helps to determine the

child or adult's functional level, age, the medical diagnosis, and

the areas in which the child or adult needs assistance. The

responding individual can also indicate whether the family or

care-giver wishes to network. A questionnaire is also sent to

professionals asking them about the settings in which they work and

the population they serve. We also ask whether or not they wish to

network with other professionals. All information received is

confidential. Only the name, address, and a brief description of

common characteristics is sent to those we match up for networking.

The rest (contacting each other and how much and what kind of

information is shared) is left up to the network pair. So far, we

have matched up 52 families and 72 professionals.

We also circulate a Braille Monitor article entitled "Education of

the Blind Mentally Retarded Child," a toy resource list (toys are

selected on the basis of a child's mental age), and two articles on

feeding.We have had several requests for information on dealing

with self injury. We now have order forms for a pamphlet on this

topic published by the Institute for Disabilities Studies,

University of Minnesota. If you are interested in receiving this

booklet, please write to us for the order form, and we will be glad

to send one to you.

Mrs. Ruth Van Ettinger serves as co-chair of the POBC Committee on

the Blind Multiply Handicapped Child. Her area of expertise and

interest is higher functioning blind and otherwise disabled

children. She will be corresponding with those who have an interest

in these youngsters. She will also contribute material to the

update and other mailings

If you wish to receive the update or any of the articles listed

here or if you are interested in our committee network, please

write to Mrs. Colleen Roth, Co-chair, POBC Committee on the Blind

Multiply Handicapped Child, 1912 Tracy Road, Northwood, Ohio 43619,

or call (419) 666-6212.

Requests for all items, including information about higher

functioning blind children, should be sent to Colleen Roth at the

Northwood address. If you have any ideas, suggestions, or comments

for the update, please submit them in writing. 

If you copy or pass on our materials to others, please be sure that

the name and address of our committee is included so that those who

get it know how to contact us directly for more help and


Please spread the word about this committee and network! Your

support and involvement is vital to our committee's growth and


by Shirley Baillif

Reprinted from The Blind Citizen, Fall 1990; a

publication of the National Federation of the Blind of California.
The following speech was presented by Shirley Baillif during a

panel presentation by parents of blind children on Saturday

afternoon at the 1990 NFB of California Convention. Mrs. Baillif is

the mother of Michael Baillif, who is the past president of the

California Association of Blind Students and is the current

president of the Student Division of the National Federation of the

Blind. Michael is also a second-year student at Yale University

School of Law.

Years ago there was a popular song that said in part:

"You've got to accentuate the positive. Eliminate the negative.

Latch on to the affirmative, and don't mess with Mr. In-between."

If I were asked to give one piece of advice regarding our topic

this afternoon, "Parenting Our Blind Children", that little ditty

would express my philosophy.

When our son became totally blind at age 13, one month before

entering high school, we felt we were in an abyss■lost in a

situation about which we knew little or nothing.  When Michael, who

was an active young teenager, more interested in sports than

academics, turned to me and said, "Mom, what will I do now?"  the

Good Lord gave me the good sense not to see a dismal picture of a

young boy growing old, helplessly striving to eke out a living.

Instead I answered him honestly by saying in effect, "Michael, I

have never known a blind person well enough to know how the blind

accomplish the tasks they do, but I have encountered a few blind

people indirectly and I know they have not only graduated from high

school, but have gone on to graduate from college, become

professionals in various fields, or have had their own businesses.

Honey, if they can do it, you can do it■you just have to learn

how." And that is exactly what we set out to do.

As soon as Michael was released from the hospital, I called our

local high school district, told them the situation, and received

an answer of absolute dismay. This was a new situation to them. The

few blind students they had had in the past came to the high school

district through the elementary district where they had learned

basic skills. They would have to get back to me. Michael was

fortunate enough to then be contacted by two positive-thinking

special ed teachers■one for instructing him in handling his

classroom studies and one for mobility.

All through his high school years, Nancy, his classroom special ed

instructor, kept reminding me of the fact I should protest if his

IEP's (Individual Education Plans) weren't what I thought they

should be. How could I protest something I knew little or nothing

about? Michael was progressing in his skills and doing more than

quite well academically. In retrospect, however, I can see where

Michael missed out on some phases of his special education. His

teacher insisted he learn Braille, which he did, reluctantly. He

felt Braille to be old-fashioned, outdated by tape recorders and

talking books. You see, he was never introduced to the slate and

stylus, so he saw no practical use for Braille. How this opinion

has changed and how we have learned!

Also, Michael never ate in the cafeteria during his high school

days, so this phase of mobility was never touched upon. He missed

more than one meal during his first year of college. This happened

whenever he missed contacting a friend who would help him with his

tray and, so Michael would not trip someone with his cane, his

friend would guide him through the crowd to find an empty table. I

learned about the technique used to independently accomplish this

feat through a video shown at an NFB Convention involving

elementary school children! They made it look so simple.

Our family was introduced to the NFB when Michael was searching for

college scholarships. Michael is not a "joiner" just for the sake

of being part of a group. He has to be interested in it for one

reason or another. He made one exception though. After receiving a

scholarship from the NFB of California, he felt he was obligated to

give back $5.00 of it and become a member of the Student Division.

It turned out to be the best investment he has made or ever will


There is no way I can even begin to express how much the NFB has

meant to our family or how much Michael has been influenced by the

role models of the NFB leaders, both on a state and national level.

And, I cannot tell you how much his peers within the Federation

have become, not only special friends of Michael's, but like a

close-knit family to his father and me as we watch their lives

unfold as they strive for and accomplish their individual goals,

overcoming the stumbling blocks that have been thrown in their


I have learned so much since those days spent with Michael at

UCLA's Jules Stein Eye Institute, and now I want to share this

knowledge with other parents as they come face to face with the

destiny of their blind offspring. This is why I am so excited about

starting a support group for parents of blind children in our area.

I have a young mother of a newly blinded child, whom I met through

a mutual friend, to thank for showing me there is this need; and I

have the NFB to thank for giving me the encouragement and positive

attitude to meet this need.

Mary Willows asked me to read the flyer I have made up to be passed

out through the school system to the parents of blind children. It

reads: "A Support Group for Parents of Blind Children is being

formed in North County. First meeting" (then the day, date, time,

and place will be given). "You are invited to come as we share our

concerns, experiences, problems, and victories. Our goal is to see

that our children will lead full, independent, and productive

lives. For further details, please contact:" (then I listed my name

and telephone number and the name and number of one other person.) 

The day before I left to come to the Convention, I received a phone

call verifying permission to use the fellowship hall of our church

as the meeting place for this group. When I get home, I will call

the young mother in Oceanside who will be a contact person in that

area, and we will set the date for our first meeting. Whether there

are four or forty in attendance, we will, in true Federation

spirit, relate to them that:

"You've got to accentuate the positive. Eliminate the negative.

Latch on to the affirmative.And don't mess with Mr. In-between."





by Betsy Zaborowski, Psy.D.

The following article was originally published in the

Spring 1990 issue of the Newsletter of the Human Services Division,

National Federation of the Blind. The author is the president of

this division.

It is now possible for me to comfortably write this

article after putting in a ten-hour day at the office. Just a few

months ago, if such a task needed doing and I was tired, I would

have to put it off till my eyes had rested. Now I lay my tired body

down, shut off the lights, and play with this wonderful computer,

the Braille 'n Speak.

I began to learn Braille about 5 years ago.  I, like so

many  blind persons who have some usable vision, was never taught

Braille.  And also, like others, I began to lose additional vision

in my 30s. Quickly (to my surprise) I learned the basics of Braille

as I began my internship in clinical psychology. Keeping an

appointment book and taking notes with a slate and stylus was slow

but possible, and I was determined to complete my doctorate on

time.  But when it came to writing in a proficient manner that

enabled me to edit my work, the Braille I had learned in a few

months was not enough.  I got through my doctoral paper using

dictation and readers to edit. Writing became a task I avoided. Now

that I am in private practice and teaching at Johns Hopkins,

writing has become an even more essential skill.

Learning Braille is not a difficult task, but practicing

the skill in a disciplined manner has always been a struggle for

me.  I recognized I made progress reading and writing in Braille

whenever I applied myself, but a busy schedule and some usable

vision served as excuses. Increasingly, however, I found myself

frustrated with the inefficiency of struggling to read and edit by

enlarging, so it became clear an alternative was needed. After

observing others talk about and work with voice access computers I

knew this was the route for me. But like so many others of my

generation I had my share of computer phobias. Terms such as hard

drive, bytes, K of memory, and talk of numerous software options

would induce a slow panic.  I would think to myself, "You are a

global thinker, one who is comfortable with abstract thoughts, not

paying attention to details or the exactness and precision that

computers (so I thought) demand." Now don't get me wrong; I usually

view new learning as a challenge and see myself mastering things

quickly, but this computer stuff was feeling so contrary to my


Well, as a good psychologist should know, in vivo

practice is the best treatment for phobias.  So I thrust myself

into the computer age and the `90s by buying a Braille `n' Speak.

When talking to Dean Blazie, the inventor and distributor of the

Braille `n' Speak, I confided in him that learning all the commands

seemed much worse to me than studying for the psychology licensing

exam.  He used humor to reassure me and promised support and

availability in time of crisis.  My husband did wonder if a

specially adapted padded case could be developed to insure the

safety of the machine (and himself) when I throw it across the room

in a fit of impatience.

To everyone's surprise my progress with this tool was

swift and without incident. The immediate feedback features, help

file, and flexibility to use a combination of grade 1 and grade 2

Braille, facilitated for me the rapid access to the many uses of

this little portable computer. I call myself a grade 1 1/2 Braille

user and improving.  As one writes one can have the machine echo

back what has been written;  thus errors such as reversals of

Braille signs can be easily detected and corrected. It is amazing

how fast I have been able to automatically write in Braille.

The Braille `n Speak is also small and portable, making

it easy to take to the various meetings I attend, as well as to

work with it at home and at the office.  I use this tool to write

items that in the past often were left undone.  It is actually fun

and headache-free to write now.  Recently I was asked to write a

book review, an article for a psychology association newsletter,

and  numerous memos and communications related to committee work.

The Braille `n Speak has made it substantially more convenient and

efficient to complete these tasks. I write everything from

telephone numbers to long articles. On the job, intakes and

evaluation reports are done in a timely manner. I use a print

printer at home, and I am now feeling brave enough to think about

a Braille printer and a larger computer with all those disc drives

and other stuff. I don't imagine I will ever be a computer jockey,

but it does feel good to be over this phobia.

Please contact Dean Blazie (Blazie Engineering, 3660

Green Mill Road, Street, Maryland 21154; (301) 879-4944) or the

National Braille and Technology Center [see photo and address on

this page] if you are interested in learning more. Communication is

the name of our professional game, so these types of tools are

essential if we are to keep up. Good luck with your phobias■I hope

you have as good a resolution as I have had.

The following information comes from Tom Balek, Secretary

of the Parents of Blind Children Division of the NFB. He is also

active in the Kansas affiliate of the National Federation of the


On April 2 Kansas governor Joan Finney signed into law

House Bill #2208, commonly known as the Braille Literacy Law. The

bill, sponsored by Representative Dick Edlund, will require school

districts to make instruction in Braille available to any visually

impaired student who desires it.

The bill had passed both the House and the Senate

unanimously. In addition to Representative Edlund, who is blind and

former president of the Kansas affiliate of the National Federation

of the Blind, a number of proponents testified before the education

subcommittees of both bodies. They included Larry Waymire, vice

president of the Capitol Chapter of the NFB in Topeka; Susie

Stanzell, president of the state affiliate of the NFB; Ralph

Bartlett, superintendent of the state School for the Visually

Impaired, and Jeff Balek, a blind third-grade student from Berryton

Elementary School.

Studies indicate that literacy among the visually

impaired has deteriorated in recent years. Educators often use tape

recordings, text magnification equipment, and text-to-speech

computer and scanning devices as the primary methods for delivering

information and curricular material to students. Each of these

alternatives to print has its own merits and drawbacks.

Magnification equipment allows low-vision students to read print,

but it is expensive, cumbersome, and a slow and sometimes painful

process. And there is concern that students who learn only by

listening never obtain the basic skills of literacy, namely,

effective reading and writing.

The Braille Literacy Bill insures that no student who

needs and wants instruction can be denied it. The National

Federation of the Blind has promoted the legislation across the

country, and many other states have already passed or are

considering similar bills.

In February, 1991, nearly 300 blind Federationists from

around the country converged on Washington, D.C., for the annual

Washington Seminar. The purpose of the annual seminar is for  blind

people to meet with congressmen/women and discuss the legislative

needs of the blind for the coming year. The following four

priorities were identified at this year's seminar:

1. Congress should amend the Rehabilitation Act of 1973

to establish the client's right of choice in selecting agencies to

provide rehabilitation services. (This issue is very timely to

parents because of the new amendments to the education law which

provide for transition services for disabled youth.) Unlike

Medicare patients who can choose their own doctors, or college

students who can use federal aid to go to the college of their

choice, blind and disabled rehabilitation clients are required to

utilize designated state agencies. This should be changed.

2. Congress should insure that politics in the form of

accreditation does not threaten programs serving the blind. The

nearly financially bankrupt National Accreditation Council for

Agencies Serving the Blind and Visually Handicapped (NAC) is making

a last ditch effort to stay afloat by asking Congress to tie

federal funding to accreditation. Considering that NAC has a

25-year history and track record of poor performance and hostile

relations with consumers, Congress should reject this politically

motivated maneuver.

3. Congress should safeguard business opportunities for

blind vendors on Federal highways. In 1982 the "Kennelly

Amendment," gave blind businessmen and women the priority to

operate vending machines at highway safety and rest areas. This

important source of income for blind men and women is being

threatened by proposals to commercialize the services at these

sites. Congress should take action to protect employment

opportunities for the blind from being overrun by big commercial


4. Congress should amend Section 8(a) of the Small

Business Act to include individuals with disabilities as a defined

minority group for purposes of eligibility in the Minority Small

Business and Capital Ownership Development Program. The social and

economic disadvantage which accompany disabilities are well-known

and should be beyond dispute. The Americans with Disabilities Act

(PL 101-336) now provides the legal mandate needed for SBA to take

this necessary action.

It is common practice for editors to omit by-lines on 

articles they have written for their own publications. I do so

myself. Sometimes I will give my article a by-line, sometimes not.

This issue contains examples of both practices.In the last issue of

Future Reflections (Vol. 10, No. 1) I reprinted the article

"PreBraille Readiness" from the VIP Newsletter. I printed it

without a by-line, for that was how it was originally published.

Since then, I have been informed that Donna Heiner is  the author

of the article and, therefore, should receive credit as such. Donna

Heiner, as you may guess, was the editor of the Vip Newsletter at

that time. She is no longer involved in work with blind children

but,  nevertheless, likes to stay informed by reading such

publications as Future Reflections; which  is how this correction

came to be. 

Eight-year-old Seth Leblond, the blind son of Robert and

Connie Leblond, leaders in the New England Parents and Educators of

Blind Children Division of the NFB, was selected as one of the

winners of the "Yes I Can" award sponsored by the Foundation for

Exceptional Children for the 1989-90 school year. Seth and his

family traveled to Toronto, where he received his trophy. All the

winners were interviewed before the official ceremony began. When

Seth was asked what this award meant to him, Seth said that it

meant that he had worked hard and well. When asked what he wanted

to do when he grows up, he replied without hesitation, "I'm keeping

my options open." 

The following information is from Working Mother.

Over and over again. That's the way kids like to view

their favorite videos or listen to tunes on audiocassettes. But

which tapes are really worth these repeat performances? For more

than a hundred suggestions, refer to A Parent's Guide to Video and

Audio Cassettes for Children, by Andrea E. Cascardi (Warner Books).

This handy book will save you the time of searching for

quality tapes for children. Video recommendations include The

Foolish Frog and Other Stories, which features a toe-tapping

animated version of a folk song sung by Pete Seeger, and the

reassuring Mister Rogers: Dinosaurs and Monsters. Audiocassette

choices range from the hilarious stories in Lyle, Lyle Crocodile

and Other Adventures of Lyle to Tom Glazer: Music for One's and


Cascardi's guide is divided by age groups, from newborn

to 12. Look for it in bookstores, or order a copy by sending $8.95

to: Warner Books, 666 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10103.

Dianne Millner of California came across this information

and passed it on to be shared with other parents.

Here is a special gift your child or grandchild can

treasure for the rest of his or her life. Create-A-Book is

personalized throughout with your child's name and other important

information about your child. Among the different titles to choose

from are: The Big Parade, Baby's Create-A-Book, My Birthday

Surprise, and My Beach Adventure. All books can be made in Braille,

and six titles are available in large print. Books are

professionally printed and illustrated and come in a protective

hard cover. For more information and an order form, write to:

Create-A-Book Today, P.O. Box 81707, Las Vegas, NV 89180. Telephone

number: (702) 871-5004.

The October, 1990, Number 14 issue of the NICHCY News

Digest focuses on the theme: "Having a Daughter With a Disability:

Is It Different For Girls?" Although the issue focuses on how

parents can promote independence for disabled daughters, the advice

is also excellent for the parents of disabled sons. Single copies

of the issue are available free of charge upon request. Write to:

National Information Center for Children and Youth with Handicaps

(NICHCY), P.O. Box 1492, Washington, D.C. 20013; or call

1-800-999-5599 (toll-free except in D.C.); (703) 893-6061 (in the

D.C. area); (703) 893-8614 (TDD). 

TFB Publications has a number of Braille and large print

pamphlets which discuss facts and information about sexuality,

menstruation, pregnancy, breastfeeding, and so forth. Many of the

pamphlets are written for teenagers, especially teen girls. The

prices range from less than a dollar to $5.00 or so. TFB also does

Braille transcription, large print reproduction, and cassette tape

duplication. To request a catalog, write to: TFB Publications, 238

75th Street, North Bergen, NJ 07047; telephone: (201) 662-0956.

We've been asked to carry the following information.

Recording for the Blind (RFB) is initiating an electronic

text or E-TEXT program. Electronic, or computerized, text is

material encoded as digital data on a computer diskette. A blind or

print-handicapped person can access the material with a personal

computer, to which a speech synthesizer, Braille display, or

character-enlarging equipment is attached. In addition to

distributing computer diskettes, RFB plans to distribute audio

cassettes on which the electronic text has been "read" by a speech

synthesizer. RFB is beginning its E-TEXT program by making its own

publications available on computer floppy disks, upon request. It

will officially begin production of educational materials in E-TEXT

with the establishment of its first electronic studio, scheduled to

open in 1992 at RFB's headquarters in Princeton. Currently,

individuals or organizations may receive RFB News or A Guide to

Using Recording for the Blind's Services on either a 3 1/2" or 5

1/4" IBM diskette by calling or writing: Recording for the Blind,

Office of Public Affairs, 20 Roszel Road, Princeton, NJ 08540;

(609) 452-0606.

The following question and answer is reprinted from the

VIPS Newsletter, Louisville, Kentucky. The author is Craig Douglas,

M.D., pediatric opthamologist.

Q. Are conditions such as trauma and juvenile cataracts

associated with juvenile glaucoma?

A. Yes. A very small percentage of individuals who

receive a direct blow to the eye may have damage to the drain of

the eye and subsequently develop increased pressure in the eye.

This may present either at or shortly after the time of trauma or

may actually present anywhere from months to years following such

an injury. If one has a significant injury to the eye, then

periodic examinations to rule out glaucoma later on are warranted.

Also children who have had cataract extraction are unfortunately at

an increased risk to have glaucoma, with anywhere from 5-10% of

these children subsequently developing increased pressure.

Hopefully, new cataract extraction techniques will lower this

incidence, but even with new techniques we are finding that

pressures may later become elevated. This may happen anywhere from

5 to 20 years following cataract extraction and is more common in

children that have had cataract extraction at a very early age as

opposed to the teenage years.

The following information is a reprint of  part of a

letter that was published in Kid-Bits, a newsletter of the Kentucky

School for the Blind:

[A] June 27, 1990, letter from John Brock, Superintendent

of Public Instruction, Kentucky Department of Education, was

addressed to local school superintendents and special education

coordinators. The letter contained the following item plus

information about a task force being formed to study qualification

for O & M instructors in Kentucky. 

■In response to local district request for clarification,

the Office of Education for Exceptional Children recognizes

orientation and mobility training for blind or visually impaired

students as a related service which may be considered by the

Admission and Release Committee as required to assist a blind or

visually impaired student to benefit from special education. EHA-B

funding may be utilized to pay for the provision of such services■■

Reprinted from Network, the newsletter of New Jersey

Self-Help Clearinghouse.

Have you ever wondered why migrating geese fly in V

formation? As with most animal behavior, there is a good reason

from which we can learn a valuable principle of mutual aid.

  As each bird flaps its wings, it creates an "uplift"

for the bird following. By flying in their V group formation, the

whole flock adds 71% more flying range than if each bird flew


  Whenever a goose falls out of the group formation, it

suddenly feels the drag and resistance of trying to fly alone, and

quickly gets back into formation to take advantage of the "lifting

power" of the bird immediately in front.

  When the lead goose gets tired, it rotates back into

formation and another goose flies at the point position.

  The geese in formation honk from behind to encourage

those up front to keep up their speed.

  When a goose gets sick, wounded, or shot down, two

geese drop out of formation and follow him down to help and protect

him. They stay with him until he is either able to fly again or

dies. Then they launch out on their own, with another group, or to

catch up with the flock.