THE BRAILLE FORUM is available in braille, large print, half- speed four-track cassette tape and computer disk. Subscription requests, address changes, and items intended for publication should be sent to: Nolan Crabb, THE BRAILLE FORUM, 1155 15th St. N.W., Suite 720, Washington, DC 20005. Submission deadlines are the first of the month.
Those much-needed contributions, which are tax-deductible, can be sent to Patricia Beattie at the same address. If you wish to remember a relative or friend by sharing in the council's continuing work, the national office has printed cards available to acknowledge contributions made by loved ones in memory of deceased people.
Anyone wishing to remember the American Council of the Blind in his/her Last Will and Testament may do so by including a special paragraph for that purpose. If your wishes are complex, you may contact the ACB National Office.
For the latest in legislative and governmental news, call the "Washington Connection" toll-free at (800) 424-8666, 6 p.m. to midnight Eastern time Monday through Friday.
The advocacy services staff at the ACB national office is proud to announce the establishment of a new, electronic Job Bank. The Job Bank is posted on the internet and contains job listings sent to ACB and other appropriate listings. This service is available now! To access the Job Bank, please contact our web site at http://www.acb.org, and then click on the ACB Job Bank link. Thank you, and good luck.
It was my intention to use my September message to tell you how I was dividing responsibility among the officers of ACB. This is not an easy task and I have not completed it. As a result, I want to spend a little time talking about the future of ACB.
I am writing this message having just returned from the Kansas convention where I was invigorated by the range of issues that affiliate is tackling. We are building floor-to-ceiling book cases in our computer room so my computer at home is off limits right now. Miami-Dade Community College, where I work, is about to start another school year. To put it mildly, things are hectic. Still, now is as good a time as any to be talking with all of you about some of my thoughts regarding ACB's future direction. I suppose that I have been led to these thoughts because I have just finished my first term as your president and have been elected to serve a second one. At these times of transition, there is value in looking ahead and asking some hard questions.
These are questions I will not be alone in asking. Our board of directors will be having a retreat just before our board meeting at which we will spend a little time looking at some of the very questions that I will raise here. In fact, part of the genesis of this message was my efforts at planning for our retreat.
One of the things I have been thinking a lot about over the past few weeks is what makes people not join our organization. This might seem like a rather negative thing to be concerned about, but I don't think it is. If we can establish why people are not interested, maybe we can change what we do. The more I thought about this issue the more I became convinced that there are a whole range of reasons why people don't become members. In my view, many of them have very little to do with ACB and a lot to do with the kind of world we live in right now.
When I checked the trends that seem to me to exist, I found that there was a lot of evidence to support the hypothesis I was beginning to consider. Virtually every volunteer organization in the country is finding it more and more difficult to recruit new members. Articles on the subject focus on everyone's increased work load. They also point to the fact that many people are now having to do two jobs just to keep their heads above water. Some articles also explore the impact of the information age. They say that with television, the internet, and home theater systems, people are spending more time at home meeting their entertainment needs and less time involved with others.
If we apply the same kind of microscope to people who are blind and examine the influences on them, the situation is equally interesting. Most young people have not attended schools for the blind and have been brought up in a society that does not offer them much chance to associate with many other blind people. The picture they have of blind people does not differ much from the picture the rest of society cherishes. It really isn't until young people are out of school that they have either the leisure or the inclination to examine who they are. All too often they are so busy trying to find work, trying to establish some independence for themselves, and trying to keep ahead of technology that blindness consumer organizations are the last thing they are inclined to look at very carefully.
I cannot count how many young people have asked me why they should take some of their valuable time to join consumer organizations. While it's easy enough to provide them with lots of answers, most of the time these answers are alien to them. In a very real sense, the problem is that many blind people today have no sense of their history. When they attended schools for the blind they were surrounded by tradition, and there were many alumni who had become a part of consumer groups. How does a blind person who has never been with other blind people see him- or herself? I would submit that they are much more likely to see that they have a disability rather than that they are blind. I would also contend that more and more blind people today are attempting to immerse themselves in mainstream society as a way of avoiding their disability. I don't see this as a conscious decision to deny their blindness so much as it is a failure to consider that blindness has any positive potential in terms of their identity.
If what I am suggesting here is even close to being correct, there are significant implications for how all of us should market ACB. We need to ask ourselves what would persuade a person such as the one I have been describing over the past few paragraphs to become involved with ACB. I am not sure I have all the answers but I'm sure that the question is a relevant one. Society is changing. People who are blind are changing with it. Our long-term viability as an organization will depend on our ability to look into a crystal ball and accurately forecast where society will be as we develop our membership recruitment strategies.
ACB will have a role to play in preserving and expanding the rights of blind people as long as discrimination is the norm. We have much to do! The seminal question we need to work on answering is how can we attract this new generation of blind people who have no notion of what "blindness culture" is?
We may also have to look at three other groups. It is a given that the majority of those who are blind in our society are older. It is also a given that people are living longer and remaining healthier. How can we work to attract people to ACB as soon as they begin to have vision problems so that their adjustment to blindness will be smoother and our capacity to benefit from their enthusiasm and effort can be maximized? Second, many of the blind people in this generation are multiply disabled. Are we doing as much as we can to reach out to them? Third, and last, we have to encourage more people who are deaf-blind to be a part of ACB. There is challenge in this message but there is also potential. If we would begin to significantly expand our membership, the first step is understanding the barriers we face! Then, overcoming them is just a matter of planning and implementation!
We have all heard about the minister who received many loud and supportive "Amens" from many members of the congregation while preaching against sin in the abstract. However, when he started preaching about the need of the church for greater financial support, he was greeted with "Preacher, you have now stopped preaching and gone to meddling." I would not agree that he had "gone to meddling" but had turned to a reality which every member and friend of worthwhile voluntary organizations should consider when thinking about what the organization is, what it could be, what it is doing and what it could be doing.
The leadership of the American Council of the Blind showed excellent judgment two decades ago when it launched ACB into the thrift store business as another source of support for a fast-growing and active organization. That step was taken in the realization that major programs could not be undertaken if supported mainly by the nominal membership dues which have not changed much since then. While thrift store income has been vitally important to ACB over the years, it must be remembered that such stores are businesses which are subject to the same up-and-down conditions that affect other businesses -- factors such as changing neighborhoods, competition, parking and traffic changes, changes in wage and employment regulations, zoning changes, etc., etc., etc. Further, the opening of new stores or upgrading of existing stores is an enormously expensive undertaking which generally reduces income for a substantial period of time. As ACB attempts to develop a prudent business reserve fund for growth and upgrading we are facing essentially an income plateau unless we can get more assistance from our members, our friends and other sources. As an organization we have never engaged in practices which many people consider embarrassing or heavy- handed -- such as publishing the amounts raised by each affiliate or insisting on a part of all funds raised by affiliates -- but have sent out just one dignified fund-raising appeal each year. Unfortunately, far fewer than 10 percent of our members have been making donations or pledges and that is not a good percentage for an organization whose members are dedicated to improving the independence and well-being of blind and visually impaired people in all walks of life.
Within the next few weeks ACB's only fund-raising appeal of the year will be sent out to all members and many friends. We recognize that each member has many obligations and that is why we ask for small but meaningful commitments from each person -- such as a minimum of 50 cents a week. And what would that pay for? It costs approximately $20 a year to send "The Braille Forum" in braille or on computer disk to one person and that figure, of course, does not include the costs connected with editing and composition. However, a donation of 50 cents a week will not pay for the cost of just one call a week on ACB's toll-free line to the Washington Connection; such calls are toll-free to the callers because ACB pays for them.
We want to thank the hundreds of members and friends who have assisted ACB in the past and we hope they will remain equally supportive. We also want to thank the many members and friends who have assisted ACB by making designations to ACB through the Combined Federal Campaign or United Way campaigns conducted by their employers. Although some United Way campaigns make it difficult to designate money to ACB, you should not be discouraged; simply insist that the money be sent to the American Council of the Blind at its address in Washington, D.C., and let the national office know that the designation has been made so appropriate follow-up can be initiated if problems arise. Likewise, some employers have matching gift programs by which they will match amounts designated for eligible organizations, so ask your employer to contact us if that option is available.
Now what was that I heard about someone meddling?
At its 36th annual national convention at the Adam's Mark Hotel in Houston, Texas, the American Council of the Blind awarded its 1997 scholarships. ACB scholarships, based on academic achievement, extracurricular activity and the extent of vision loss, are given to students from throughout the country in academic and professional curricula at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Hundreds of qualified students applied for these scholarships, and over $50,000 was awarded to 26 winners. Eighteen of the winners attended the ACB convention, where they were honored on Thursday, July 10 during a convention plenary program.
The 1997 scholarship winners are:
Floyd Qualls Memorial Scholarships:
Heidi Sherman is a doctoral candidate in medieval Russian history at the University of Minnesota. Heidi has participated in archaeological digs in Russia and is starting a course in Old Norse.
Lucille Stern is a doctoral candidate in clinical psychology at the University of Rhode Island. Lucille has won several awards for academic achievements, and her book, "Child-Centered Family Therapy," was recently published.
Timothy Cordes, a senior majoring in biochemistry at the University of Notre Dame, plans to apply to medical school. Tim has brown belts in both jujitsu and tae kwon do.
Suleyman Gokyigit is a junior in computer science and engineering at the University of Toledo. Suleyman works as a systems administrator and plans to start his own software company.
Michelle Burke, an entering freshman at the University of California- Riverside, is planning to major in foreign languages. Michelle spent last summer in Spain as an exchange student.
Arthur Congdon is an entering freshman at Temple University with a physics major. He plans to do research in muscular dystrophy.
Norine Punahele will graduate from Hawaii Community College in December and will start at the University of Hawaii at Hilo in January. Norine plans to work in the field of juvenile justice after earning a bachelor's degree.
Jennifer Weyer is a graduate of the University of Portland and worked this summer at a women's center in Alaska. She is attending the Oregon School of Massage.
Melva T. Owen Memorial Scholarship:
Pavla Francova is working on a master's degree in counseling at West Chester University. She is from the Czech Republic and will return there when her education is completed. Pavla is a world-class athlete and has won medals at both the winter and summer Paralympics.
National Industries for the Blind Grant M. Mack Memorial Scholarships:
Michael Gravitt is a business major at Longwood College and will graduate in December. Mike is the president of the National Alliance of Blind Students (NABS), an ACB affiliate, and has owned his own business.
Mark Riccobono is a marketing and economics major at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He came to the ACB convention from England where he had just completed a summer class. Mark has an internship at Disney World this fall.
Steven Timmer, a business major at Central Michigan University, plans to receive a Ph.D. in business information systems. Steve received an honorable discharge from the U.S. Marine Corps in 1986. More recently, he carried the torch at the 1996 Olympics.
Dr. Mae Davidow Memorial Scholarship:
Quinton Ramirez, a computer science major, is an entering freshman at Southwest Missouri State University. Quint has played the trombone for seven years and has received many honors in the music field.
Arnold Ostwald Memorial Science Scholarship:
Nathanael Wales is an entering freshman in civil engineering at the University of California at Davis. In 1996, Nat received the Youth of the Year Award from his local Optimist Club. He plans to go to law school and participated on a Mock Trial Team throughout high school.
Anne Pekar Memorial Scholarship:
Kimberly Morrow is completing a doctoral program in higher education administration at the University of Kansas. Kim has served as a board member for the National Association of Blind Teachers and is active in the Kansas Association of the Blind and Visually Impaired, an ACB affiliate.
Kellie Cannon Memorial Scholarship:
Keith Wessel is a junior at the University of Illinois. Keith is a computer science and engineering major and already works for a computer company and as a DJ. Keith is the editor of "The Student Advocate," the NABS newsletter.
William G. Corey Memorial Scholarship:
Zachary Battles is entering the Honors Program as a freshman at Pennsylvania State University and plans to earn a Ph.D. in computer science. Zach attended the Presidential Summit on Volunteerism.
Arnold Sadler Memorial Scholarship:
Darla Dahl is working on her master's degree in rehabilitation counseling at Western Oregon State College where she has helped the Office of Disability Service train readers and notetakers. Darla has won numerous scholarships.
John Hebner Memorial Scholarship:
Frank Lopez is enrolled in a master's program at California State University at Sacramento. Frank has received many academic honors, including several scholarships. He is also the father of seven children.
Commonwealth Council of the Blind Scholarships:
Jonathan Avila is a junior with a computer science major at Mary Washington College. Jon writes computer programs, has helped his teachers install computer hardware, and has created his own web page. Jon is also the secretary of NABS.
Rebecca Hart is an entering freshman at Radford University. She has served as a representative to the Advisory Committee on Services for the Virginia Department for the Visually Handicapped. Rebecca is also a Lions Club volunteer.
ACB of Colorado Scholarships:
Robin Barnes is an entering freshman at The Colorado College where she plans to major in East Asian studies. She wants to become a Japanese language interpreter. Robin has studied flute for five years and has won four gold medals at music competitions.
Kimberly Waegele is a senior at the University of Southern Colorado with a special education major. Kim was a cheerleader at public school and sings opera. Kim is also the treasurer of NABS.
ACB of Maine Scholarship:
Diana Knox is a psychology major in the Honors Program at the University of Southern Maine. She plans to earn a master's degree and become a guidance counselor. Bay State Council of the Blind Scholarship:
Alla Pouzyreva, a management and marketing major at Newbury College, is a native of the Ukraine. She plans to develop and manage a descriptive video program, an idea she got as a volunteer at WGBH.
Delbert K. Aman Memorial Scholarship:
Nana Isbell is a senior at National College with a major in business administration. Nan intends to pursue graduate degrees and teach at the college level.
Applications for the 1998 ACB scholarships will be available in the late fall of 1997. All legally blind students are encouraged to apply. For more information, contact the ACB national office weekdays at (800) 424-8666 between 2:30 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. Eastern time.
Jonathan Avila says thank you to the audience, ACB, and the scholarship committee for awarding him a scholarship.
Kimberly Morrow thanks ACB for awarding her a scholarship.
Pavla Francova expresses her appreciation for the scholarship that will help her finish her master's degree.
When I last reported to you regarding the case of Jeana Martin, a formerly licensed Randolph-Sheppard vendor from California, her case had just been decided in her favor when the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California enforced an earlier arbitration panel award of nearly half a million dollars in back pay and attorneys' fees over the state sovereign immunity contentions of the state licensing agency. The agency through its director, Brenda Premo, appealed the case to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit at San Francisco. In its appeal, the state licensing agency basically made two arguments: first, that Randolph-Sheppard Act arbitration panels are barred from making compensatory awards such as in this case against state licensing agencies by virtue of the Eleventh Amendment to the Constitution, and that the same amendment also barred federal courts from issuing orders enforcing such compensatory arbitration panel awards; and second, that the state licensing agency had been denied due process and equal protection of the laws before the arbitration panel by virtue of certain specific evidentiary and procedural rulings made by the arbitration panel.
On July 11, the court announced its unanimous opinion in Premo et al v. Martin. Circuit judge Dorothy W. Nelson delivered the court's opinion, in which circuit judges Alfred Goodwin and Steven S. Trott joined, affirming the district court's judgment in favor of the wronged blind vendor and enforcing the arbitration panel's award, including the remedial and compensatory monetary award against the state licensing agency. In her opinion, Nelson treated the state licensing agency's Eleventh Amendment arguments very seriously. She first held that the language of the amendment itself only speaks to the judicial power of federal courts and simply does not apply to an administrative tribunal such as an arbitration panel. Thus, the court answered in the negative the question presented as to whether the Eleventh Amendment bars compensatory awards made by Randolph-Sheppard Act arbitration panels against wrongdoing state licensing agencies. In doing so, the court of appeals also affirmed the underlying findings of the arbitration panel and the district court that the agency had improperly removed Martin from her vending location and eventually unjustly revoked her vendor's license.
The court then turned to the more difficult issue of whether the Eleventh Amendment bars federal courts from enforcing via court orders compensatory awards made by Randolph-Sheppard Act arbitration panels against wrongdoing state licensing agencies. After considerable soul-searching, the court held that such court enforcement orders made upon judicial review of remedial compensatory arbitration awards against such agencies are not barred by the amendment. The court pointed out that the language of the Randolph-Sheppard Act itself mandates that entities which participate as state licensing agencies commit themselves to forward unresolved disputes between themselves and disgruntled vendors to binding arbitration including judicial review of such awards in federal court under the provisions of the Administrative Procedure Act. The court further pointed out that in this case the State of California did not simply sit back and receive federal funds, but actively participated in numerous aspects of the state/federal cooperative program under the Randolph-Sheppard Act for many years as a recognized state licensing agency. In fact, California freely and actively participated in the arbitration panel proceedings which resulted in the award which was the pending subject of review in this case. In such circumstances, the court held that California had waived its Eleventh Amendment immunity and had consented to the authority and jurisdiction of the federal courts to review and, where appropriate, enforce a compensatory arbitration panel award against a state licensing agency. The court also held that in enacting the arbitration provisions of the Randolph-Sheppard Act in 1974, Congress had intended to make wrongdoing state licensing agencies subject to final and binding arbitration, and that in order to be truly final and binding, Congress must have intended to abrogate wrongdoing states' Eleventh Amendment immunity and make them subject to court enforcement orders on judicial review of arbitration panel awards.
The court then turned to California's due process and equal protection of the laws contentions. The state argued first that the denial by the arbitration panel of a continuance of the trial date which it had sought constituted denial to it of due process. The court rejected this argument easily, pointing out that when the request for continuance had been denied by the arbitration panel, the state still had about 60 days in which to prepare its case for trial. Second, the state contended that the refusal of the arbitration panel to disqualify one of its members (Robert Humphreys, who had been named to the panel by Jeana Martin) had unduly biased the impartiality of the panel. The state contended that Humphreys had much earlier written a letter on Jeana Martin's behalf to the state licensing agency in which he had announced his opinion on one of the legal issues which was before the panel, and that therefore he was incapable of serving as an impartial arbitration panel member. The court pointed out that whatever bias or lack of impartiality Humphreys might possess had been fully disclosed in advance to the state licensing agency, and that the act itself envisioned some degree of partiality by providing that both the disgruntled licensee and the state licensing agency were to name arbiters to the panel who presumably were inclined to support their respective legal positions. The court then ruled that the refusal of the panel to disqualify Humphreys did not constitute a denial of due process or equal protection of the laws to the agency. Third, the state argued that the admission into evidence at the trial before the arbitration panel of expert testimony proffered by Durward K. McDaniel constituted a denial of due process since McDaniel had earlier acted as Jeana Martin's counsel of record and because the McDaniel testimony was biased in favor of the former vendor. The court quickly disposed of these arguments, pointing out that McDaniel was a recognized expert regarding the Randolph-Sheppard Act and program who had been duly qualified as such before the arbitration panel. The testimony he proffered was relevant to the issues pending before the panel and could be given whatever credence or weight by each panel member that it deserved. Also, the agency had had ample opportunity to cross-examine McDaniel, and through such cross-examination to impeach the witness' credibility, or to point out to the panel any undue bias. For all these reasons, the court ruled that the admission into evidence of the expert witness testimony of Durward McDaniel before the arbitration panel did not deny the state licensing agency due process or equal protection. The court affirmed the decision of the district court enforcing the compensatory award made earlier by the arbitration panel against the California state licensing agency. This decision is an important landmark in upholding the rights of licensed blind vendors, and as such, we as advocates for the blind should hail it with hearty cheers. As of this writing, it is still unclear whether the California state licensing agency will seek Supreme Court review of the decision.
(Reprinted with permission from "A 4th Course of Chicken Soup for the Soul," copyright 1997 Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen, Hanoch McCarty and Meladee McCarty. Published by Health Communications, Inc., Deerfield Beach, Fla.)
(Editor's Note: It's rare when we get an opportunity to look at blindness from the perspective of a sighted child of a blind parent. The authors of "Chicken Soup for the Soul" have granted permission for us to include this tribute to a blind mom from her grown, sighted daughter. We thought the perspective was unique enough to deserve some attention.)
My first awareness of her was her hands. I don't remember how old I was, but my whole being and existence were associated with those hands. Those hands belonged to my mom and she is blind.
I can remember sitting at the kitchen table coloring a picture. "Look at my picture, Mom. It's all finished."
"Oh, that's pretty," she replied, and kept right on doing whatever she was doing.
"No, look at my picture with your fingers," I insisted. She then came to me, and I ran her hand all over the picture. I always enjoyed her excited response that the picture was lovely.
It never occurred to me that it was strange how she felt things with her hands, how she touched my face or things I showed her. I did realize that my dad looked at me and at the things I showed to him with his eyes, and so did Grandma or any other person who came into our house; but I never thought it unusual that Mom didn't use her eyes.
I can still remember how she combed my long hair. She put the thumb of her left hand between my eyebrows, just at the top of my nose, and her forefinger at the crown of my head. She was probably lining up those two points, and then she'd bring the comb from her forefinger down to meet the thumb. Thus, she hoped the part would be down the middle of my head. I never questioned her ability to do this task.
When I fell down many times at play, came in crying and told Mom that my knee was bleeding, her gentle hands washed my knee and skillfully applied a bandage.
One day I found out, unfortunately, that there were certain things my mother wouldn't touch. I found a tiny dead bird lying on the sidewalk in front of our house and brought it into the house to show Mom. "Look what I found," I said, as I took her hand to touch the bird. "What is it?" she asked. She lightly touched the dead creature in my outstretched palm, and I could hear the terror in her voice as she asked once more, "What is that?"
"A little dead bird," I answered. She screamed then and quickly drew back her hand and ordered me and the bird outside and admonished me never to let her touch such a thing again.
I could never quite reckon with her powers of smell, hearing and touch. One day, I saw a plate of cookies that Mom had just placed on the table. I slyly took one and looked at her to see what she would say. She didn't say a word and, of course, I thought as long as she didn't feel with those hands what I'd done, she didn't know. I didn't realize that she could hear me chew. Just as I passed by her munching my cookie, she caught my arm. "Next time, Karrey, please ask me for that cookie instead of taking it," she said. "You can have all you want, just ask next time."
I have an older brother and sister and a younger brother, and none of us could quite figure out how she knew which one of us did a certain thing. One day my older brother brought a stray dog into the house and sneaked him up the stairs into his bedroom. In a short while my mom marched up the stairs, opened his bedroom door, and ordered the dog to be put outside. We were amazed she figured out how she knew there was a dog in the house.
As I grew older, I realized that Mom reared us psychologically. And with those sharp ears and nose of hers, she put two and two together and usually came up with the right answer. She had heard the dog's toenails clicking on the bedroom floor.
And that nose of hers. How it knew so much! One day my friend and I were playing with dolls in my bedroom. I slipped into Mom's room and doused the dolls with some of her perfume. Then I made the mistake of running downstairs to ask Mom a question. She immediately told me that she knew I had been in her bedroom and used her perfume.
Those ears. How they knew the things we did. I was all alone in the living room one night doing my homework with the TV running softly. Mom walked into the room and asked, "Karrey, are you doing your homework or watching TV?" I was slightly surprised but answered her and went on with my homework. Later I thought about it and wondered how she knew that I was the one in the living room and not one of my brothers or sisters. I asked her. "Sorry, honey," she said, patting my head. "Even though your adenoids are gone, you still breathe through your mouth. I heard you."
Mom had a good sense of direction, too. She had a tandem bicycle and we took turns riding with her. I sat on the front seat and steered and pedaled and she sat on the back seat. She always seemed to know where we were and called out directions loud and clear. She always knew when we were approaching an intersection or when a fast-moving car was coming up on the right side.
How did she know that while I was taking a bath one night, when I was about nine years old, that I hadn't washed any part of myself? I was busy playing with the toys in the water and having a great time. "Karrey, you haven't touched your face or ears or anything, have you?" I hadn't, but how did she know? Of course she knew that a little girl playing with toys in a bathtub would not stop to wash. I realized that she also used her mind's eye in rearing us.
The one thing, however, that used to concern us was the fact that Mom never really knew what we looked like. One day when I was about 17 and standing in front of the bathroom mirror combing my hair, I asked, "You really don't know what any of us look like, do you, Mom?" She was feeling my hair to see how long it was.
"Of course I do," she answered.
"I know what you looked like the day they laid your tiny little body in my arms for the first time. I felt every inch of you and felt the soft fuzz on your head. I knew that you were blond because your daddy told me so. I knew that your eyes were blue because they told me so. I know that you are very pretty because people tell me you are. But I really know what you are like -- what you are like inside." My eyes grew misty.
"I know that you're lithe and strong because you love being on the tennis court. I know that you have a good nature because I hear you talk to the cat and to small children. I know you are tender-hearted. I know you are vulnerable because I've seen your hurt reactions to someone's remarks. I know that you have character because you have the courage to stand up and defend your convictions. I know that you have a respect for human beings because of the way you treat me. I know that you have wisdom because you conduct yourself wisely for a girl your age. I also know that you have a will of your own because I've seen a hint of temper, which tells me that no one can dissuade you from doing the right things. I know that you have family devotion because I've heard you defending your brothers and sister. I know that you possess a great capacity for love because you've shown it to me and to your father many times. You have never indicated in any way that you were short-changed because you have a blind mother. So, dear," and she drew me close to her, "I see you and I know exactly what you look like, and to me you are beautiful."
That was ten years ago, and recently, I became a mother. When they laid my precious little son in my arms, like my mother, I was able to see him through my eyes and know how beautiful he is. But some time I'd like to turn out the lights and hold him and touch him and see if I can feel all the things that my mother felt.
April is a wonderful time to visit Thailand, formerly called Siam. This ancient country has never been occupied by a foreign power and has always had a series of kingdoms. It still has a council of kings that take turns ruling for periods of seven years each. Their power is ceremonial. The country has a government much like ours.
My wife and I learned firsthand about southeast Asia, Thailand, and the New Year Songkran Festival. We spent two weeks in northern Thailand visiting Chiang Mai, Mae Hong Son (near the Burma border in an area called the golden triangle) and Sukhothai.
Thailand is hot, humid, and beautiful. It became a series of kingdoms around the 12th century. Now it is a modern evolving democracy. English is a required language in the schools and spoken with Thai everywhere. A great deal of effort is being made to upgrade the government, schools, and economy. Thailand produces all of its own food and exports food, silver, lacquer, and wood products.
We stayed with a Thai family with three teenage children in a four- bedroom, two-bath home.
The home, 19 kilometers from downtown Chiang Mai, was in a semi-rural setting. Roosters would start crowing around 5 a.m. and neighbors would be harvesting tomatoes, squash, and other vegetables in the fields early.
The home was built and finished both inside and out with teak wood. It was neat and clean. The floors were cool under bare or stocking feet.
Our meals usually began with soup, which we ate with a short-handled spoon, and the meal was rice with vegetables and a hot curry sauce. Desserts were a wide selection of fruits such as papaya, pineapple, and mango. Water was the beverage of choice, though tea and coffee were available for the guests. The vegetables included yams, squash, onions, pea pods, and beans.
In the month of April, when summer is its hottest, the people of Thailand welcome their traditional new year. Celebrated more in the northern provinces than in the south, it is three days of rituals, festivities, and water play.
The rituals take place in the Buddhist temples, in homes, and at shrines. At the temples, there are special ceremonies for rededication of lives by prayers and by earning merits. Taking gifts to the Buddhist monks is one of many ways to earn merits. The people take cooked rice, fruit, incense sticks, flowers, sand, banners, and scented water to the local temple which is called a wat. There, everyone lights three candles and honors the Buddha images by bowing to the floor three times from a kneeling position. The three honors represent gratitude for the Buddha's life, his teachings, and for the monks who still teach his precepts. Money contributions are made for the work of the temple. The monks of each temple, when you visit, chant the appropriate litany as the people sit in the prescribed manner on the floor, hands together, fingers extended pointing up and out at a 45-degree angle in homage (called a wai).
Among the festivities are parties to honor the elderly. Each family has a party at which the elderly are given gifts as one or more members of the family tell how wonderful they are and what they have contributed to the family. Taken in order from the eldest, it may also include the eldest brother and sister because of their responsibilities to the parents and the younger members of the family. After the scented water has been poured on the honoree's hands and gifts have been presented, the honoree gives a blessing to those assembled. Anyone who cannot be present at the party is obligated to call later upon the elderly in their families to bring presents and receive the blessing. Guests are served assorted Thai whiskey, tea, or water, and foods ranging from candy made from rice to dried fish. The visits go on for three days.
There are also family reunions. Families visit the monks who are members of their families and take food, new robes, detergent, toothpaste, etc. They visit the sites where the ashes of their ancestors are stored in pagodas. After encircling all the family pagodas with a string to show ongoing family unity, scented water is poured on each memorial.
Visits are made to the homes of dignitaries whom people wish to honor. Gifts are taken along with scented water in a metal bowl. Those being honored receive their guests, the gifts are acknowledged, a blessing is given by the honoree, and refreshments are served. There may be a long line of people waiting to honor a particular dignitary. A frequently honored person is the tax collector.
The festivities include village parades with floats, dancing, beauty pageants, costumes, and contests. The people paint their faces and their vehicles with temporary white paint for good luck. The Buddha images are dressed in saffron-colored bunting, crowned with flowers and washed with water scented with fresh flowers.
Some villages have a campaign to raise money to buy and decorate a log to be used to support the limbs of the "tree of life," a tree on the grounds of each temple which represents the tree under which the Buddha became enlightened. To do this, dancers in the main street of the village stop traffic to exact a "toll" to provide funds for the project. The Thai dance music is amplified with speakers in the back of pick-up trucks. There is a festival mood with drinking of Thai beer and whiskey.
People congregate at rivers and waterfalls to wade and splash water on each other. In the near 100-degree temperatures, it is very refreshing. Swimsuits are not worn -- partly because of the innate modesty of Thai people, but also because it is more fun to get wet wearing all of your clothes!
You may honor and give a blessing to a friend, relative or total stranger by pouring scented water on his or her hands. This can also be done by sprinkling water slowly up the arm and down the back. This three- day ritual has been extended to as much as six days of water play on the streets and highways.
The water play takes many forms. A common one is to stand beside the road with a large container of water and throw a pan or bucket of water on cars and trucks as they pass. Motorcycle riders are prime targets.
Chiang Mai, the largest city in the north, (population 100,000) is the undisputed capital for water play. People drive for hours to participate in the Thai style of "Wet and Wild." As many as 12 people with two 55-gallon barrels of water in the back of a small pick-up truck will wander up and down the streets throwing water on everyone they see.
It is all great fun. Everyone has a wonderful time being "honored." If you do not wish to get wet, stay away from the activity or give the "King's X," an upheld hand. Going to Thailand without experiencing Songkran is like going to New Orleans and missing Mardi Gras. Don't do it.
Sukhothai, capital of the northern kingdom until about 700 years ago, has many ancient wats (Buddhist temples). Our host there was Dam, the ex- mayor of Sukhothai. He invited us to participate in a ceremony blessing his new home. Six Buddhist monks chanted to bless the house and then ate. Monks are totally dependent on others for food and are forbidden to eat after twelve noon. The deputy governor's wife, one of the guests, then blessed each of us individually, pouring water over our left shoulders.
We returned to Chiang Mai for a farewell dinner with our hosts and hostesses and many of their friends and family. We were entertained by the stylized native dances portraying the different sections of the country. A male sword dancer performed a special dance. He gave a very energetic 20- minute exhibition of throwing swords over, under, and around his arms and legs. My wife was relieved that he still had all of his appendages when it was over.
Our first and last impression was of a memorable visit with warm and friendly people who are working hard to obtain their share of Western modern living.
Important information for blind travelers:
1. If you are on a scheduled tour and stay in Western-style hotels, your living conditions will be similar to an American hotel, but never, ever drink tap water!
2. If you leave the tour, drink only bottled water, which is cheap and readily available.
3. Always carry pocket-size tissues for after-meal napkins and for toilet tissue.
4. Be sure to bring several sealed moist hand wipes to clean your hands before eating and to refresh yourself during the hot and sticky day.
5. Your table setting will be a fork on your left and a spoon on the right. The fork is held prongs inverted in the left hand and is used to push food onto the spoon. It replaces bread as a pusher.
6. Rinse your toothbrush in bottled water only.
7. Do not let shower water enter your mouth.
8. Your shower will give you limited warm water. First, stand and rinse. Second, lather with soap. Third, rinse quickly.
9. In state parks, museums, road side parks and many homes there may be "squat toilets." This is a water-filled hole in the floor. There will be a two- or three-inch lip around the 18-inch diameter hole. Use your cane to locate the inside circumference of the hole. Face forward, placing your heels so they touch the lip on either side. Proceed in a squat position similar to a downhill skier. Make sure that you have the packet of tissues handy and be careful that nothing falls from your pockets.
10. Carry a fanny pack turned to your front to hold passport and cash in both dollars and currency of the country. I keep dollars and other currency separate. It is handy to separate both into three or four denominations. This may be done better with two wallets kept in separate pockets or in your purse. Keep tipping money -- one-dollar bills -- within easy reach.
11. Blind people in southeast Asia do not travel. They stay at home and are taken care of by the extended family. People will be curious and usually overly helpful. Your cane may be grabbed and placed on the next step for fear that you will not know where to place it. It is not understood that your cane is not for support.
(Editor's Note: This document is a work in progress. Additional, more complete versions will be made available in the future.) Goal
The purpose of this document is to set forth guidelines for the provision of financial and technical assistance to state and special- interest affiliates. Policy Statement
The American Council of the Blind is committed to promoting the development and financial stability of its affiliates. To this end, the officers and board of directors desire to provide for the provision of financial and technical assistance within budgetary constraints.
In recognition of this desire, the officers and board of directors seek to set forth guidelines which will assist affiliates requesting assistance and the board of directors in responding appropriately.
(Reprinted with permission from "Horizons," September 1997.)
As schools open around the area, readers with children in private and parochial schools should be greatly encouraged by the decision of the United States Supreme Court in Agostini v. Felton, 65 USLW 4524 (1997), holding that teachers employed under Title I of the Education Act could provide instruction on the premises of sectarian schools.
Agostini is important, particularly since it reverses a decision, Aguilar v. Felton (473 U.S. 402 (1985)), which had barred teachers from providing supplemental remedial instruction on sectarian premises as an inappropriate entanglement, contrary to the mandate for separation of church and state in the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
The Agostini decision is not per se a special education case. It is an interpretation of the general education law. However, a review of the opinion in Agostini reveals that the decision rests in significant part on Zobrest v. California, a 1993 Supreme Court decision which authorized sign language interpreters for deaf students on the premises of a parochial school.
Readers should be aware that the recent extension of IDEA is consistent with Agostini and Zobrest. It is clear that under Subpart B of IDEA special education and related services can be provided on the premises of parochial and private schools. Even though the U.S. Department of Education has not yet issued regulations implementing the IDEA amendments, parents should still be able to obtain services at the parochial schools as a result of the decision in Agostini.
It is likely that the Agostini decision will spur great debate about educational services. No doubt there will be much verbiage about educational vouchers, charter schools and choices. Unless people with disabilities and their advocacy groups get involved, do not expect to read and hear much about special education in the forthcoming dialogue.
People who care about special education should join the debate. The issue is and should not be public schools versus private/parochial/vouchers. The real issues are educational service delivery issues, where and how most effectively to provide children with a quality elementary and secondary education.
Since the issue is the education of children, there is every reason to include children with special needs and their education in the debate. People with disabilities and their parents and advocates should be active participants, not observers, in the debates over school vouchers and service delivery, even if the stated issue is not special education. The ramifications are profound, as Agostini illustrates, and need to be considered in terms of special education services as well as regular, general education.
It has always struck me as somewhat ironic that many people who are interested in social policy issues tend to funnel their input through the particular prism of their interest group, in other words to think parochially. The decision of the Supreme Court in Agostini could catalyze major, long-term changes in the delivery of educational services, transcending the delivery of services under Title I of the 1965 Educational Act. In the short run the most profound implication of the Agostini decision involving services at parochial schools is to remind people with disabilities and their advocates NOT to think parochially. Stay tuned and stay involved.
At our recent national convention, delegates voted not to support a pair of resolutions which took opposing positions concerning the upcoming release of a new "Mr. Magoo" film by the Disney Corporation. I chose to withdraw a third resolution, deciding instead -- given the drift of the discussion -- to write this "From Your Perspective" piece. My hope is that in the relative calm following the convention, logic and reason will prevail and many more of you will understand why ACB's "non-position" is as counterproductive as the "shoot from the hip" approach taken by the National Federation of the Blind. While it is too late for the membership to react as a body in this matter, be assured someone will give us yet another chance to take a stand.
The resolution which I wrote called for the American Council of the Blind to take two actions: 1) drafting a letter to the Disney Corporation expressing this organization's profound displeasure and concern over the pending release of the movie, and 2) preparing and disseminating a press release to selected news media outlets to coincide with the actual release date of "Mr. Magoo."
I believe unequivocally that "Mr. Magoo" hurts blind and visually impaired people. The first and most important reason is that he is harmful to our image, regardless of the fact we know Mr. Magoo isn't actually blind. In the minds of a significant portion of the sighted public (particularly among pre-teens and teens, who will be the likely audience), Mr. Magoo is blind!
Beyond this, every survey I've come across on the topic of what influences contemporary thinking indicates that the media, particularly movies and television, are the primary shapers of attitudes in America today. Do you recall just a few years ago when a majority of children questioned said that their role model was Bart Simpson? For better or worse, the big and little screen (film and TV) have an overarching impact on our lives, especially our attitudes and ideas.
There is an old saying in the advertising business: "Perception is reality." This means that what someone perceives or believes to be so is that individual's version of reality. The public's image of a group or an idea is based on their perceptions of that group or idea. Creating a proper image for a political candidate typically helps that candidate get elected. The voter identifies with some aspect of the candidate (e.g., position on an issue, political ideology, appearance), and supports him or her.
The marketing of tens of thousands of products is also predicated on this basic concept. We buy one brand of shampoo over another brand because we have been persuaded -- or have persuaded ourselves -- that our choice is best for us. Consider the Marlboro Man and Joe Camel, if you are still skeptical. Hence, if blind and visually impaired people are perceived -- even by a relatively small segment of society -- as bumbling, incompetent fools, this is our image among that segment of society. It is probable that at least a few of those who believe such nonsense will eventually be employers and/or supervisors.
Why, the true skeptic may still be asking, is the public's image of us so important? Because it is this image which lies at the heart of so many of the issues/problems blind people must confront on a daily basis. As one who worked as a disability awareness trainer for many years, I am absolutely convinced that our most difficult issues/problems stem from negative public attitudes toward, and stereotypes about, blindness. Obviously, blindness is a serious disability, not just a mere nuisance. Nonetheless, to my way of thinking, the misconceptions and stereotypes which continue to exist about blindness in society today represent just as serious an obstacle to our success as the reality of blindness itself.
One of the most significant and long-standing issues facing us is the 70 percent plus unemployment rate among blind people of working age. This figure has remained fairly constant for many years prior, and for the seven years subsequent to, enactment of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Many in ACB argue that if only technology were made fully accessible to us, this figure would improve dramatically. They rightly point out -- by way of illustration -- that an increasing number of employed blind people are (or will be) losing their jobs due to the growing use of inaccessible technology. Almost every issue of "The Braille Forum" contains an article (sometimes more) reporting on some activity designed to further the cause of more accessible hardware and software. No one can reasonably question the need for such efforts.
It seems to me, however, that this organization should expend equal time and effort on what I am certain is a more basic reason for our unconscionably high unemployment rate: the aforementioned negative attitudes and stereotypes surrounding blindness and blind people. Consider that we were just as unemployed before the advent of computers as we are since their introduction. Does anyone really believe even if every computer system suddenly became completely accessible tomorrow that our unemployment problem would magically disappear? I certainly hope no one is so naive!
There is one additional and compelling reason why ACB should have taken a stand against Mr. Magoo. In 1997, it is entirely inappropriate to portray anyone in a stereotypical manner. Somehow, I can't imagine the Disney Corporation releasing a new "Step'-n-Fetch-It" or "Little Black Sambo" film. How about a new "Charlie Chan" flick? Not likely! Those who know me have never accused me of riding the PC (political correctness) bandwagon. Nevertheless, I think sensitivity to, and avoidance of, trite and discredited stereotypes is a concept which is here to stay. That concept is based on simple respect and courtesy for those who are different from ourselves.
During discussion of the two defeated resolutions, I heard several speakers say that we should "lighten up" and "learn to laugh at ourselves." I don't disagree. However, I submit that it is one thing for us to chuckle over some of the situations we experience as the result of our blindness (as we did with the Theater by the Blind during the banquet), and quite another for someone else who is not visually impaired to laugh at those situations. Weren't we admonished as children that it wasn't nice to laugh at someone? Why is it acceptable now to do so when it involves a character who is perceived by many as visually impaired? I say that it wasn't OK when we were children and it most emphatically is unacceptable today! Bland acceptance of Mr. Magoo is a poor response to overbearing political correctness, or to those of us who won't "lighten up" when we hear an inappropriate remark about blindness from someone who hasn't a clue what it's like to be blind.
On break following discussion of the Magoo resolutions, President Edwards suggested to me that the issue of whether, and to what extent, ACB should be trying to influence public attitudes toward blindness would be a good topic for a future convention program item. I wholeheartedly concur with this suggestion. We need to fully consider this question in the manner this organization does best: in open and candid discussion of all points of view, in front of all members who choose to attend. "Mr. Magoo" will not be an issue at next year's convention, but public perceptions about blindness and ACB's response to those perceptions should be of vital concern to this organization's membership for many conventions to come.
Nick DiCaprio, John Carroll University's first totally blind student, who excelled as an undergraduate and returned as a psychology professor, died of cancer on April 5. He was 67.
He was the son of an Italian immigrant, and first appeared in a story and photo in a Cleveland daily newspaper in 1938 as a nine-year-old accordionist who yearned for higher education. DiCaprio next appeared in articles telling of his graduating magna cum laude as John Carroll's Beaudry Scholar in 1954.
He earned a master's and a doctorate from Case Western Reserve University and returned to John Carroll as an instructor in 1958 after lecturing part-time at Notre Dame College. DiCaprio also maintained a small private practice early in his career. He retired as a full professor this year, after having been chairman of the psychology department from 1986 to 1994.
DiCaprio wrote several books, including "Personality Theories: Guides to Living," "The Good Life: Models for a Healthy Personality," "Adjustment: Fulfilling Human Potentials," and "Personality Theories: A Guide to Human Nature."
He founded the Foresight Club, a group of successful, independently employed visually impaired professionals and business people. The group met monthly to support its members and discuss workplace issues. He was also an accomplished pianist and speaker.
He is survived by his wife, Rita (nee Lausche); son, Paul; daughter, Lauren Kinkopf; and two grandchildren.
An award was designed in his honor, the Distinguished Alumni Award in Psychology, to be given to a deserving alumnus each year. DiCaprio was to have been the first recipient of this award; the department presented it to his wife in his honor.
The American Council of the Blind has grown over the years because of the efforts of dedicated people who made a difference. On July 12, 1997, one of these people, Myrtle Echols, died, leaving a legacy of "making a difference."
Myrtle Echols graduated from the Arkansas School for the Blind in 1931 and later attended Arkansas Enterprises for the Blind, now Lions World Services for the Blind. For about 30 years, Myrtle was a vending stand operator in Arkansas, retiring in 1979.
As a charter member of the Arkansas Council of the Blind, she served on the board and was very active in both state and local chapter activities. She was a life member of ACB. Myrtle attended 23 consecutive national conventions, which gives full evidence of her convictions. She was also a member of the Randolph-Sheppard Vendors of America.
Myrtle will be remembered for her untiring efforts on behalf of the council, and she will be missed by her many ACB friends as well as her family.
** EMPLOYMENT SEMINAR
The Pennsylvania Council of the Blind will be conducting an employment seminar in conjunction with its state convention. It will take place at the Brunswick Hotel in Lancaster, Pa. on Friday, November 7, 1997 from 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Designed for blind and visually impaired job seekers and people interested in career enhancement, this seminar will cover such topics as resumes, job interviews, adaptive technology, effective communication, partnering with service providers, mediation, self-employment and networking. The seminar will also include a job readiness test, success stories by employed blind people, and an open discussion of employment issues. The $10 registration fee includes lunch and a packet of job information in accessible media. For more information, call the Pennsylvania Council at (800) 736-1410 or (215) 238-1410.
** NEWS FROM CALIFORNIA
The Humboldt Council of the Blind held a dinner "fun raiser" to raise money for audible pedestrian signals. It plans to hold one dinner a month. Reservations are required. For more information, contact the Humboldt Council of the Blind, P.O. Box 175, Eureka, CA 95501-0175; phone (707) 822- 1961, or e-mail [email protected].
The announcement of new products and services in this column should not be considered an endorsement of those products and services by the American Council of the Blind, its staff or elected officials. Products and services are listed free of charge for the benefit of our readers. "The Braille Forum" cannot be responsible for the reliability of products or services mentioned.
** AIRLINE ACCESS
The Georgetown University Law Center's Institute for Public Representation is representing a deaf-blind Maryland woman in her suit against Continental Airlines. The suit claims that Continental violated the Air Carrier Access Act and its implementing regulations by insisting that the woman have an attendant. The act's implementing regulations state that airlines can require a disabled person to travel with an attendant only under certain circumstances; specifically, when a passenger with both "severe hearing and severe vision impairments ... cannot establish some means of communication with carrier personnel, adequate to permit transmission of the safety briefing" required by the Federal Aviation Administration rules. If the airline and the passenger disagree over the need for an attendant, the airline must pay for the attendant. In this case, the woman was told that she needed an attendant and would in the future have to pay for the attendant herself. If you would like to help, write directly to the airline companies, including Continental, to ask about their policies and procedures, as well as the kind of training they provide their employees.
** NEW PSA CAMPAIGN
The Seeing Eye has launched a new public service announcement featuring Betty White. This PSA targets access to taxis; the first PSA targeted access to restaurants. The announcement has been sent to more than 1,700 radio stations throughout North America.
** ROP SURVEY
Do you have retinopathy of prematurity (formerly called retrolental fibroplasia)? Do you have some useful vision? If so, you have an opportunity to participate in an information-gathering survey. Cathy Bickerdike and another woman have been searching for studies involving ROP adults, finding none, and they would like your help. To get your survey, write to ROP Questionnaire, 1337 Marigold St. NE, Keizer, OR 97303-3552. They hope that the survey's results will warrant a major medical study for adults with ROP.
** ON-LINE JOBS
If you're looking for a job and wouldn't mind relocating to Texas, there are two job banks available on the World Wide Web you should check. They are: TWC Job Express and Governor's Job Bank, http://www.twc.state.tx.us/joblists/express.html.
** CHOICE MAGAZINE
Choice Magazine Listening is a free service that provides tapes of current magazine material to the blind. It offers articles, short stories and poetry from current magazines such as "The New Yorker," "National Geographic," "Scientific American," "Smithsonian," "Gourmet," "Travel and Leisure," "Sports Illustrated," "Time" and others. To apply for a free subscription, or to receive a brochure, write to Choice Magazine Listening, Dept. TM, 85 Channel Dr., Port Washington, N.Y. 11050, or phone (516) 883-8280, or e-mail to [email protected], using "subscription" as the header and including in the message your name, address, phone number, and whether you have a four-track cassette player. Tapes are only distributed in the United States.
** NEW WEB SITE
Ackley Appliance Service now has a site on the World Wide Web. The address is http://ourworld.compuserve.com/homepages/braillerman.
** PEPPER SPRAY
If you are interested in learning more about or buying pepper spray for self-defense, contact Debra Carroll in print or on tape at P.O. Box 38242, Baltimore, MD 21231. Please note that pepper spray may be illegal in some areas; check with your local authorities before purchasing.
** SELECTED SHORTS
Do you enjoy short stories? If so, you might like to listen to these tapes. Selected Shorts are short stories read on tape by Broadway and Hollywood actors and actresses. Volume I includes Richard Ford's "Communist," Grace Paley's "A Conversation with My Father," and Toni Cade Bambara's "Gorilla, My Love." Volume II includes Max Steele's "The Cat and the Coffee Drinkers," Gail Godwin's "St. George," and Philip Roth's "The Conversion of the Jews." Inside Volume III, you can find Michael Cunningham's "White Angel," Flannery O'Connor's "Everything That Rises Must Converge" and Edna O'Brien's "Violets." Volume IV is a celebration of baseball, including such stories as Roger Angell's "Game Six," Lawrence S. Ritter's "The Glory of Their Times" and John Updike's "Hub Fans Bid Kid Adieu." Comedy is Volume V's theme, including such pieces as Garrison Keillor's "What Did We Do Wrong?," Chet Williamson's "The Personal Touch," and S.J. Perelman's "Farewell, My Lovely Appetizer." Volume VI includes Laura Cunningham's "Sleeping Arrangements," Sandra Cisneros' "The House on Mango Street" and Alice Munro's "Forgiveness in Families." Volume VII includes Marcel Ayme's "The State of Grace," Pam Houston's "How to Talk to a Hunter" and W.P. Kinsella's "The Thrill of the Grass." Volume VIII's theme is food fiction, and includes such pieces as M.F.K. Fisher's "I Was Really Very Hungry," Nora Ephron's "Heartburn," Roald Dahl's "Taste" and Angela Carter's "The Kitchen Child." Volume IX includes Amy Bloom's "Silver Water," Daniel Menaker's "The Treatment," and Terry McMillan's "Ma'Dear." Volume X is the newest volume, and includes Louise Erdrich's "The Bingo Van," Bernard Malamud's "The Magic Barrel" and Rachel Simon's "Little Nightmares, Little Dreams." Each volume is $16.95; if you buy three volumes, you deduct $3 from your total. (New Yorkers must add appropriate sales taxes.) Shipping costs $3.50 for the first item, and 50 cents for each additional item. Send your order, with check made out to Symphony Space, to Gifts, Symphony Space, 2537 Broadway, New York, N.Y. 10025-6947.
** TRAVEL & TOURS
Cook's Travel & Tours offers personalized service to the visually impaired community. If you would like to arrange travel, or get more information, contact Rick Cook at (541) 488-2459, or e-mail him at [email protected].
** BRAILLE PACKAGING
Hunter Graphics, an Orlando-based package design company, in collaboration with the Colonial Carton Company of Clayton, N.C., now offers braille on folding cartons. The company's services include writing foreign language braille fonts for computers and retro-fitting programs to put braille on existing packaging layouts. Check their web sites at http://www.huntergraphics.com and http://www.colonialcarton.com.
** HAM QUESTIONS
Transcription Technologies, Inc., is starting a library for purchase only of popular accessible materials, including radio scanner frequencies and all five question pools for the amateur radio licensing exams in all formats, with or without the multiple choice answers. For more information, contact the company at (860) 643-1234, or write to Transcription Technologies, Inc., 470 Tunnel Rd., Vernon, CT 06066, or e-mail [email protected].
"Bill's BIG TYPE Cookbook" is now available. It contains recipes for 31 main dishes and meats, 12 side dishes, 26 salads, dressings and dips, 12 cold drinks (and a few hot), 27 breads, rolls, etc., 41 desserts, and 16 soups, sauces and jams. A sample unit costs $20; shipping and handling charges will be prepaid if you use a credit card or send payment with the order (and $3.50 if you prefer to pay from the invoice). If you live in Minnesota, include your state sales tax exemption number or add 6.5 percent sales tax. Volume 1 is called "Dinner Cookbook," and volume 2 is the "Sweets Cookbook." Send your payment along with your order to RBP Products, 5045 Dawnview Terrace, Golden Valley, MN 55422-3530; to order (with credit card) by phone, call (888) 522- 0506.
** 14TH REVISION
Tri Visual Services offers the 14th revision of "A Resource Guide To Computer Access For Visually Impaired People." It contains information on 123 companies that provide products and/or services of interest to blind and visually impaired computer users, and is organized by subject with alphabetical cross-referencing. It is available in large print, PC diskette or braille, and costs $20 per copy. Send your check, money order or purchase order to Tri Visual Services, 1713 J St., Suite 211, Sacramento, CA 95814; phone (916) 447- 7323. To order by credit card, contact Ann Morris Enterprises at (800) 454- 3175.
** NEW BOOKS
The Naval Institute Press has two of its "Now Hear This" book series on tape: "Crossing the Line: A Bluejacket's World War II Odyssey" and "The Bridge at Dong Ha." "Crossing the Line" is abridged to fit on four 90-minute tapes, and costs $28.95. "The Bridge at Dong Ha" is contained on two 90-minute tapes, and costs $16.95. For more information, call (410) 295-1081.
** EMPLOYEE OF YEAR
Marie Blum was recently named the 1997 Private-Sector Employee of the Year by National Industries for the Blind. Blum had been a homemaker for many years and sought to re-enter the workforce in 1994. After training at the work adjustment program in the rehabilitation department of Arizona Industries for the Blind, she landed a job at Laboratory Environmental Support, Inc. When the company cut back its work force a year later, she was laid off. She currently works for Hospitality Franchise Systems as a customer service reservations agent, making reservations for Ramada Hotels in the United States and Canada.
** JAVA ACCESS
Sun Microsystems Inc. has preview specifications for its Java Accessibility API, which is designed to allow assistive technologies to access Java. It is available for public review at http://java.sun.com/products/jfc/.
** BOOKS ALOUD
Cassette books for blind and physically disabled adults and children are available on loan from Books Aloud, Inc. The library offers more than 3,700 titles on various topics. Large-print listings of books for adult readers are available, as is a list on cassette. A listing of children's books is available only in large print. Clients receive new book listings several times a year. This service starts when the company receives an application and a verification of disability form. There is no charge to borrow books; however, readers are asked to make a one-time donation of $25 to help defray administrative costs. For more information, write to Books Aloud, P.O. Box 5731, San Jose, CA 95150, or phone (408) 277-4878 or (408) 277-4839.
** GLOBAL SOUNDS
The Global Sounds of GBX users will soon be available on compact disk. "Global Sounds" is a collection of music, poetry, humor and stories from users of the Global Blind Exchange Internet Project. If you want your sounds heard, send your entry now! Send it no later than November 1 on cassette, mini-disk or reel-to-reel tape to Dan Kysor, 1601 W. El Camino Ave., Apt. 111, Sacramento, CA 95833.
** BRAILLE LITERACY
"Instructional Strategies for Braille Literacy" is a new handbook that provides instructors with specific strategies for teaching braille. It's available from the American Foundation for the Blind Press. This book is the third major component of AFB's National Braille Literacy Mentor Project, which was established in 1989. It is available in print and braille; for paperback, the ISBN is 0-89128-936-4; for braille, it's ISBN 0-89128-288-2. It costs $38.95 plus $5 postage and handling. To order, or get more information, call AFB Press at (800) 232-3044. Send orders (with payment) to AFB Press, Customer Service, 11 Penn Plaza, Suite 300, New York, N.Y. 10001.
** CABO TRADING
Cabo International Trading offers computer systems for the blind. The basic system includes the computer, a flatbed scanner, optical character recognition software, screen-reading software and a speech synthesizer. Systems are built to the buyer's needs and wants. Contact the company at 28W066 Commercial Ave., Barrington, IL 60010; phone (847) 381-6000, or e-mail [email protected].
** NEW WEB SITE
Kaleidoscope Television, in a joint venture with TCI Digital Health Group, Inc., now has Kaleidoscope Interactive, a web site located at http://www.ktv- i.com. This site offers health, wellness and ability information on demand. More than 250 organizations have provided content for the site, including the American Medical Association, the American Cancer Society, the American Heart Association, and National Easter Seal Society. It includes a "reading room" that links to medical references, chat rooms, and even an area for kids only, which has health-related games and information for children of all ages.
** ASK ILIAD
The Rehabilitation Research and Training Center on Blindness and Low Vision at Mississippi State University, in cooperation with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, has a project that makes internet resources more accessible to the blind. It's called Iliad -- a search engine accessed through e-mail for use by those who are not equipped to use Web search engines. Iliad is an electronic information assistant that retrieves and processes information from the internet. For instructions on using it, send e-mail to [email protected] with the subject line "start iliad" (no quotes). For more information about starting an Iliad search, and/or to provide suggestions for optimizing Iliad, contact Brenda Cavenaugh, Tara Laney or Martin Giesen at (601) 325-2001, or send e-mail to [email protected].
** TMS COMPUTERS
TMS Inc. of Lavonia, Ga., has several products for visually impaired computer users. The company has Zoomtext Plus, Zoomtext for Windows 95 or 3.1x, Zoomtext for DOS, Magic Deluxe, Jaws for Windows 95, Window Eyes 3.1x or 95, Window Eyes combo, Open Book software, HP 5P scanner, Accent internal and external speech synthesizers, DECtalk internal and external speech synthesizers, Double Talk speech synthesizers, Microsoft's natural keyboard, Kurzweil Voice for Windows, Window Bridge, and much more. Contact Robin Cleveland at TMS between 8:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. Eastern at (800) 768-1168. Visa and MasterCard are accepted.
** E-MAIL LIST
BRL now has the Blind User E-mail list, which contains more than 2,400 addresses. Use this list to make new friends and renew old acquaintances. It costs $25 for an e-mail copy; $27 for a disk copy. Addresses are in Eudora format and Pine format. All major credit cards are accepted. Call (800) 407- 5839.
** WEB SITE UP
The Alabama Institute for Deaf and Blind has two new sources of information on services and job vacancies. One is its new web site, http://www.aidb.state.al.us, which contains information on the institute's programs and services. The other is the AIDB Job Line at (205) 761-3382.
** BRAILLE SERVICE
The Central Iowa Center for Independent Living has a braille transcription service available. For more information, call (888) 503-2287 (TDD users dial (515) 243-2177), or e-mail [email protected].
** NOW TIMES
A free turn-around cassette edition of the National Organization for Women's "National NOW Times" is available to people who are unable to use standard printed materials. Send requests to: Print Handicapped Services, 519 E. Main St. #8, Spartanburg, S.C. 29302 or phone (864) 585-7323 and leave your name and address.
** OMNI 2
Kurzweil Educational Systems Inc. recently released version 2.0 of its Omni 1000 reading system. It offers the ability to find key words or phrases within a document, editing of scanned text, magnification of scanned documents, and the ability to specify unlimited bookmarks within a document. It also has a 75,000-word talking dictionary, the ability to insert a scanned page within a document, and background scanning. It is available as software only, or a complete system that includes a Pentium processor, 32 megabytes of RAM, hard disk, floppy and CD-ROM drive, keyboard, a color scanner, synthetic speech, speakers and a microphone. Prices range from $1,000 to $4,000 depending on configurations and options. For more information, contact the company at 411 Waverley Oaks Rd., Waltham, MA 02154; phone (800) 894-5374, or e-mail [email protected].
** READ ALONE
National Technology for the Blind and Visually Impaired has the Galileo reading machine available. Galileo has a 1.2-gigabyte hard drive, a 3.5-inch floppy drive and a DECtalk speech synthesizer. It is a stand-alone reading machine; you can save what you've read onto the hard drive or the floppy drive. And it can read text files off your friend's IBM-compatible disks, too. The company also has CCTVs with five- to 20-inch monitors, tutorials on Windows 95, Explorer, and more. For more information, call toll-free (888) 893-4276 or write the company at 105 Sawyer St., South Portland, ME 04106.
** FALL CONFERENCE
The International Conference on Parents with Disabilities and Their Families will be held October 23-26, 1997, at the Oakland Marriott Hotel in Oakland, Calif. The conference will feature international speakers addressing a wide variety of topics related to parents with disabilities, including child custody, adoption, pregnancy and birthing, legal rights and assistive technology. A national task force on parents with disabilities and their families will convene at the conference. Pre-conference workshops will be held on adaptive parenting equipment, parents with cognitive disabilities, and reproductive health. For more information, contact Through the Looking Glass, 2198 Sixth St., Suite 100, Berkeley, CA 94710; phone (800) 644-2666 extension 123 or (510) 848-1112 extension 123; e-mail [email protected] or check the web site at http://www.lookingglass.org.
** TECHNOLOGY EXPO
The Pennsylvania Initiative on Assistive Technology will be holding an assistive technology expo November 2-4 at the Hershey Lodge and Convention Center in Hershey. This is the first statewide exposition to showcase products and services for the disabled and elderly. It is sponsored by the initiative, as well as the Pennsylvania Departments of Aging, Education, Labor and Industry, and Public Welfare. Exhibitors are expected to display the latest devices assisting people with disabilities in areas such as computer access, mobility aids, vision aids, communication devices, alerting systems, software, and telecommunications devices. There will also be opportunities for attendees to evaluate new products through interactive demonstrations. The admission fee is $5 per person; group and individual discounts are available. For more information, contact EXPO Administration-Contract Consultants, Inc., at (717) 774-5455; TDD users call (717) 774-5598, or e-mail [email protected].
** INNOCENTS ABROAD
"Innocents Abroad" is a radio show now in its sixth year of production. Each week, the show's guests take listeners somewhere new. The producers look for the unusual and unique in planning their show. For more information, contact Innocents Abroad Radio Productions, P.O. Box 673, Mendocino, CA 95460; e-mail [email protected]; or phone (707) 974-7821.
** BRAILLE GUEST BOOK
Have you ever given or received a wedding guest book, then had to get someone to write the information down, then have it read back to you? Joan DiChiera has come up with an alternative: a braille guest book. It is in a notebook with pages for wedding guests, reception guests, bridal party, gifts, etc. If you would like to have a book personally prepared for you, contact Joan DiChiera, 3429 Orlando Ave., Baltimore, MD 21234, or phone (410) 444-2676.
** FREE AMSLER GRID
The Jewish Guild for the Blind has the Amsler Grid available free to those who call or write with their requests. The grid is a test for macular degeneration. The four-inch square, white on black grid is printed on the front of a card, with instructions for its use on the back. For your copy, write to The Jewish Guild for the Blind, 15 W. 65th St., New York, N.Y. 10023, or phone (212) 769-6237.
** OKLAHOMA REUNION
The Oklahoma School for the Blind Alumni Reunion will be held May 8-10, 1998. This is the school's 100th anniversary. Mark your calendar now! If you have moved, or are not currently on the mailing list, please send your name and address to Carolyn Patocka, OSB, 3300 Gibson, Muskogee, OK 74403.
** CHECK GUIDES
Sturdy black pocket checkwriting guides are now available. They have spaces for the date, payee, numeric and written amount, signature and memo fields. Each one costs $5.50. Also available are credit-card-sized signature guides, which can fit on a keychain or in a wallet. Each signature guide costs $1.50; you can purchase both guides for $6. Send a check or money order and a self-addressed, stamped envelope to George Gray, 1002 Johnson St., Pasadena, TX 77506-4618.
** MUSIC TAPES
Music for piano or keyboard, chord and pedal organ, or guitar is available on cassette. Musical styles range from classical to jazz, pops to religious, show tunes to old favorites, from easy to difficult. Teaching tapes are also available for theory/piano. There are accompaniment tapes for instrumental and vocal music. For information, contact Jeanine Linster at 409 30 1/4 Rd., Grand Junction, CO 81504; phone (970) 434-8639.
** BRAILLER REPAIRS
The Selective Doctor, Inc. specializes in the repair of Perkins braillers and IBM typewriters. Brailler repairs are $45 for labor, plus the cost of the parts. You can send your brailler to The Selective Doctor, Inc., P.O. Box 28432, Baltimore, MD 21234; free matter shipping is accepted. Please insure your brailler; return insurance will be added to your bill. For more information, call the company at (410) 668-1143.
When I last brought you up to date regarding developments surrounding the dedication of the FDR Memorial on May 2, 1997, companion legislation was pending in Congress. House and Senate resolutions, supported by President Clinton, ensure that at least one depiction of President Roosevelt as a disabled person will be permanently added to the memorial. The U.S. Senate had adopted and sent over to the House of Representatives S.J. Res. 29 sponsored by Sen. Daniel K. Inouye (D-Hawaii) on May 1, under unanimous consent. Both the Senate's passed joint resolution and its House companion measure (H.J. Res. 76, sponsored by Rep. Maurice Hinchey (D-N.Y.)) had been referred to the Committee on Resources, where the legislation appeared to be stalled.
However, the leadership of the House of Representatives gave its blessing to the resolution and sent it to the House floor on July 8.
ACB staff and the resolutions committee were made aware that the FDR Memorial legislation was coming before the House of Representatives for action on July 8, and therefore, two resolutions (resolutions 97-01 and 97-02) were passed by the convention on July 7. Resolution 97-02 placed ACB on record as supporting enactment of S.J. Res. 29 regarding a depiction of President Roosevelt as a disabled person being added to the permanent design of the memorial. Resolution 97-01 addressed a separate problem which had been discovered around the time of the memorial's dedication: the placement of overly enlarged, illegible braille on the Wall of Programs within the memorial. Resolution 97-01 expresses our dismay concerning this artistic but illegible braille and suggests some remedial solutions to the problem through the provision of raised character and braille signage replicating the artistic braille and complying with the standards for raised character and braille signage included in regulations such as the Americans with Disabilities Act Accessibility Guidelines (ADAAG) and the American National Standards Institute's (ANSI) A117.1 Standard for Accessible Design for the Disabled.
The text of the two convention resolutions was promptly forwarded electronically to Washington, D.C., and was entered into the Congressional Record as part of the floor debate on S.J. Res. 29 on July 8. In particular, Rep. David E. Bonior (D-Mich.) pointed to ACB's resolution 97-01 in his floor remarks. Bonior expressed his hope that the advisory committee established under the joint resolution to advise the Secretary of the Interior should also make recommendations to the secretary regarding other access issues such as the illegible braille on the Wall of Programs addressed in ACB resolution 97-01. S.J. Res. 29 passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 369 to 39. On July 24, S.J. Res. 29 was signed into law by President Clinton as Public Law 105-29. ACB can take considerable pride and credit for the successful enactment into law of this piece of cross-disability advocacy legislation. I also hope that the advisory committee established under the new law will take Bonior's suggestion seriously. I would urge the advisory committee to look seriously at the suggestions made in ACB resolution 97-01 for remedying the illegible braille issue.
FOR SALE: Blazie Type and Speak notetaker. 3.5-inch disk drive. Charger and headphones. No manuals included. Best offer. Write (no braille) to Bryan Sattler, 131 Clayton Rd., Schenectady, NY 12304 or call him at (518) 370-1773.
FOR SALE: Smith-Corona electric typewriter. Excellent condition. $50. Contact Chris at [email protected] or phone (413) 584-0807.
FOR SALE: Artic Business Vision (1988 version). Asking $250. Contact Edwin Heyboer at (616) 772-4811 or e-mail him at [email protected].
FOR SALE: Used CCTVs: Optelec 20/20 plus (20-inch monitor), Telesensory Vantage (14-inch monitor), Voyager XL (19-inch monitor) and Chroma Color (20- inch monitor). Call Tom at (941) 346-3937.
FOR SALE: Versabraille II+ with dual external disk drive, two AC adapters, several braille and print manuals, all cables. Asking $1,000. Contact Joel Pincus at (941) 656-1511 evenings and weekends. No collect calls.
FOR SALE: HP 2P scanner. Includes interface cable and card, power cord, Word Scan and Photo Scan software, OSCAR, and all manuals. Asking $180 plus shipping in the United States. Contact Mercedes Leong at (415) 665-1000, or via e-mail at [email protected].
FOR SALE: 19-inch Visualtek Voyager XL (black-and-white model). $1,000 or best offer. Contact Wanda James at (901) 685-9906.
WANTED: Used brailler. Contact Joseph Kamara, 1375 Fairmont St. NW #205, Washington, DC 20009; phone (202) 588-5585.
WANTED: The Northwest Florida Radio Reading Service, Inc., The Voice of Print, is looking for a donated or low-priced synthesizer and screen-reading software. The service is a 501 (C) 3 organization, and donations are tax- deductible. For additional information, or to arrange for a donation, contact Ben Bazo, (888) 941-2888 or (850) 944-4652; fax (850) 944-3563. Write to: The Voice of Print, 6102 Chicago Ave., Pensacola, FL 32526.
Sue Ammeter, Seattle, WA
Ardis Bazyn, Cedar Rapids, IA
John Buckley, Knoxville, TN
Dawn Christensen, Holland, OH
Christopher Gray, San Jose, CA
John Horst, Wilkes-Barre, PA
Kristal Platt, Omaha, NE
M.J. Schmitt, Forest Park, IL
Pamela Shaw, Philadelphia, PA
Richard Villa, Irving, TX
Carol McCarl, Chairperson, Salem, OR
Kim Charlson, Watertown, MA
Thomas Mitchell, North Salt Lake City, UT
Mitch Pomerantz, Los Angeles, CA
Jay Doudna, Lancaster, PA
Ex Officio: Laura Oftedahl, Watertown, MA
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FIRST VICE PRESIDENT
57 GRANDVIEW AVE.
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SECOND VICE PRESIDENT
825 M ST., SUITE 216
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556 N. 80TH ST.
SEATTLE, WA 98103
CRYSTAL TOWERS #206 NORTH
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IMMEDIATE PAST PRESIDENT
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Oklahoma City, OK 73107
ELIZABETH M. LENNON, Kalamazoo, MI
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