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.
CORRECTION Due to an editing error, the plaintiff's name mentioned in "Supreme Court Decides Significant ADA Case" (August) was misspelled. The correct spelling is Yeskey.
Reporting to this convention is a highlight of my year. It gives me a chance to talk with you about the accomplishments of the American Council of the Blind and to share with you both our triumphs and our problems. It also gives me a chance to think about where we are and where we're going and to share some of those thoughts with you too. We continue to live in a society that is becoming increasingly hostile to the interests of people with disabilities and that requires us to be more and more vigilant to be sure that the rights and privileges that we have worked so long and hard to acquire aren't taken away by people more interested in political grandstanding than in the welfare of the people by whom they're elected to serve. At the national level and in many states we continue to see politics replacing government as the order of the day. Our job as ACB is to make sure that the interests of blind people are not sacrificed on the altar of political irrelevance that seems to be so much in order. The blindness community is not large as compared to other minorities. It's crucial that we develop and implement strategies to project our rights together and to protect our rights together. To do that, the American Council of the Blind has reached out to other organizations to work on being certain that those outside our community cannot say that the blindness system is divided. Developing consensus positions, I can assure you, is not easy. Getting agencies and blindness service providers to join with us in lobbying before the Congress has been one of our objectives this year. And the American Council of the Blind co- sponsored the Josephine L. Taylor Leadership Institute with the American Foundation for the Blind. And I was very excited by the fact that we were able to go to Congress with people from our states who are service providers along with people from our states who are consumers and say to Congress that our community speaks with one voice. We have reached out and will continue to reach out to the National Federation of the Blind as well so that they know how we feel and we know what their positions are. We must do this. We will continue to do this because, when we can manage it, people who are blind and those who serve them, all of those people who are blind must speak with a single song on our lips. If we're not able to do that, all blind people will lose. This year we continued to work closely with other organizations in the blindness community.
The American Council of the Blind and the American Printing House for the Blind jointly sponsored a regional meeting of the World Blind Union this year which was held in Louisville in April. I presented a workshop at the spring conference sponsored by National Industries for the Blind and am a member of the search committee that is seeking a new chief operating officer for NIB. I also participated in a focus group sponsored by NIB early in March that developed a range of exciting recommendations for making NIB more responsive to the needs of the blind people they serve. I'm excited by some of the developments that are happening at NIB and continue to be excited at our ability to work more closely with National Industries for the Blind.
Another instance of our capacity for cooperation is particularly exciting for me. This year, for the first time, we're holding our convention in conjunction with the convention of another group. We are joined this year by the National Association of Parents of the Visually Impaired! Parents and their children will have a chance to get to know up close and personal the very best group of blind people in this country! And they'll also have an opportunity to share their concerns with us! I'm going to be offering a keynote address to NAPVI on Tuesday afternoon called "Building Our Future Together" and I'll tell you more about their program as the week goes on. If we do a good job this week, many parents will leave here feeling a lot better about their children with visual impairments! Who knows, they may even discover what we already know: that it is really quite OK to be blind! We'll get a chance to tell them about what we do at the same time as we get a chance to hear what they do.
At the same time as we have reached out to cooperate, there are signs that are disturbing. (I say this every year.) It's pretty well-known that two organizations have chosen not to attend our convention this year and both have chosen to attend the National Federation of the Blind convention in Dallas this week. Neither organization is so small that they could not afford to attend both conventions. The organizations are Blazie Engineering and Recording for the Blind and Dyslexic. Every organization has the right to choose where they go and where they don't go. I am not here to tell either organization they must come to ACB. I am more concerned to say something else! Both these organizations are supposedly committed to serving all people who are blind! They have this commitment to serving all people who are blind whether they are members of organizations or not! I believe that all blind people should be concerned when service providers attempt to divide blind people! I sincerely hope, ladies and gentlemen, that people at the National Federation of the Blind are as concerned as we are at the ACB that any group of blind people is receiving unequal treatment. If they're not concerned about the unequal treatment we've received, then they should expect to receive unequal treatment themselves. I hope that NFB recognizes that when an organization chooses to provide unequal treatment, they hurt all blind people. As long as we countenance unequal treatment, we contribute and encourage others to discriminate against us. There are consequences that go far beyond the simple decision not to come to our convention. We must be sad that these organizations chose not to attend our convention. We must be sadder that an organization of blind people is not concerned about the unequal treatment of other people who are blind.
I also feel I must talk with you about one other recent occurrence. Ten days ago a meeting was held at the National Center of the Blind in Baltimore between the board of directors of the Randolph- Sheppard Vendors of America and leaders of the Merchants Division of the National Federation of the Blind to discuss the possibility of merging their two organizations. Both Marc Maurer, the president of the National Federation of the Blind, and Dr. Kenneth Jernigan, president emeritus of that organization, were involved in these meetings. If I planned to meet with an affiliate of the Federation, I would feel I had a responsibility to let their leaders know this was happening! I received no indication from the Federation that this meeting was taking place. I was informed by our Randolph-Sheppard Vendors president that the meeting was scheduled. And I'll be meeting with the board of directors of RSVA on Thursday of this week and I'm confident that ACB will continue to work for and with the Randolph-Sheppard Vendors of America. Ladies and gentlemen, I have no quarrel with vendors from both organizations seeking to build cooperation with each other. I said earlier that our community is too small to allow us to speak with a divided voice. But I do have a quarrel with the leadership of the National Federation of the Blind who appear by their actions to be more interested in competition than in cooperation! The American Council of the Blind will continue to work with all organizations of and for the blind and will seek to further the ability of blind people to speak with one voice! The ACB is not in competition with the NFB. We are interested in improving the lives of blind people! We'll go about the business of doing that and let the Federation do whatever it chooses!
Going about that business is what we do best and we have much of which we can be proud this year! All of you know that the American Council of the Blind has been engaged in a law suit with the transit authority in Washington, D.C. I am proud to report that tactile warnings are being installed in key stations in the WMATA system. We have not yet got all that we want but WMATA has learned that the American Council of the Blind will not stand idly by while blind people are killed or injured for the sake of their pretty granite edging. They have also learned that federal laws apply throughout the country. Washington, D.C. is not exempt! The American Council of the Blind will not rest until every station in the WMATA system has tactile warnings. And let other transit agencies learn too that no more blind people will die while they drag their feet over compliance!
Ladies and gentlemen, this is a significant victory for ACB and for blind people. It is not the only one we celebrate tonight! Led by our affiliate, Guide Dog Users, Inc., a settlement has been reached that will assure that blind people can now travel between the mainland and Hawaii with their guide dogs. Once more, ACB has demonstrated that we will commit the resources of time and money that are needed to win. While we have spent a considerable amount to achieve this victory, much of the time and expense of winning this victory has been borne by Guide Dog Users, Inc. They are now in debt to the tune of $60,000 which is a huge expenditure for one affiliate to bear. We are proud that Guide Dog Users, Inc. is an affiliate of ACB! Dog guide schools, state affiliates of ACB, ACB itself and many others have also contributed to the legal fund that has been needed. We have been working on this issue for almost two decades and finally we have won! Dog guide users can now use the mobility method of their choice in Hawaii. Some people have suggested that the next step is to hold a convention there. We'll hear much more about this victory later in this convention. For now, let us simply celebrate another major victory that ACB has helped to win.
We continue to work in many areas and we are making progress in many. This year ACB collaborated with other organizations to defeat an effort made in Wisconsin to close the school for the blind there. This is another victory for us, but it is sort of a pyrrhic victory, because there are still efforts to curtail the usefulness of the school and there are still efforts in that state and in many others to deprive blind children of the opportunity to have a full continuity of services available to them, which is what the law requires. We will continue to fight efforts to deprive children of every opportunity available for education as long as people continue to try to deprive them of those rights. Through the Wisconsin Council of the Blind and other interested groups including our affiliate, the Badger Association, we mounted a campaign that made it impossible for the superintendent of public instruction in that state to close the school. And this is another victory that we helped win!
We have long believed that blind people have a right to expect that the built environment is designed so that it meets our needs. Many of the initiatives of our Environmental Access Committee serve to underscore this belief. As blind people, we have a right to expect that street crossings, room doors and other elements of the world in which we must travel become more user-friendly to people who are blind. A fourth victory that we have won this year as a direct result of the efforts of our Environmental Access Committee is the inclusion of audible traffic signals in federal law. This, ladies and gentlemen, in case you haven't noticed, is another significant accomplishment for ACB. ACB, in all of these four areas, through our committees and our affiliates, has led the way to these significant changes.
Certainly there are still threats. There are elements of the Rehabilitation Reauthorization Act which are not good and we'll continue to work with other organizations of and for the blind to influence the final version of this act which is being worked on now by a conference committee of the Senate and the House of Representatives. There are continual challenges to the Randolph- Sheppard program and to the blind priority under the Javits-Wagner- O'Day Act. In many states, there are threats to the provision of separate rehabilitation services for people who are blind and to the continued viability of residential schools for children who are blind. All of us must continue to fight for what we value. What we value is our right to participate as fully in every aspect of the life of our community as we possibly can. Another way to state ACB's mission, it seems to me, is that we are determined to enable every blind person in this country to have the same rights to full participation in our society that everybody else takes for granted. Access to technology continues to be an important barrier that many find it difficult to overcome. This year we have continued to work on this issue through the task force on technology which now includes representation from the Association for Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired, the American Foundation for the Blind, National Industries for the Blind and now the National Council of State Agencies for the Blind. This group played a pivotal role in forcing Microsoft to hold its disability summit. More significantly, ladies and gentlemen, "The Braille Forum" was the very first publication to break the excited if tangled story of Microsoft's European off-screen access project. Our April issue was a little late but that was a small price to pay for carrying the first news of this potential breakthrough in access to Windows. We did it; we won!
Our web site has continued to grow and gets better from week to week. We have now reached the stage where I believe it is imperative that we hire a part-time person to professionally manage our site and to build in even more features and options. Tonight, ladies and gentlemen, we are attempting for the very first time to broadcast this session live over the internet. Even if technical difficulties make this impossible, a real audio version of tonight's proceedings will be on our web site by tomorrow morning. What that will mean, ladies and gentlemen, is that people who are blind and people interested in things about people who are blind from anywhere in the world will be able to listen to who we are. That's a victory! We still have a long way to go on the issue of technology. While we have certainly not been idle, technology is changing so rapidly that we are hard-pressed to keep ahead of it. We cannot lessen our efforts to affect technological access. As I have said before, I truly believe that there will be no jobs a decade from now for people who cannot use technology. It is that simple! It is that unequivocal!
We have won another victory this year and it hasn't received much publicity. At the spring meeting of the North American and Caribbean Region of the World Blind Union, ACB proposed, and it was accepted, that a committee be formed from among the members of that body to develop and implement joint initiatives on technological access. This group is chaired by Brian Charlson of the American Council of the Blind. Ladies and gentlemen, this group includes representatives from Canada as well as the United States and also, of course, includes representation from the National Federation of the Blind! If there is a single issue where it is appropriate for the blind to speak with one strong voice it must be this one! And this committee should, I hope, bring us closer to doing that! Internally, this has been an interesting year. And that is very similar to the phrase you may have heard, "We live in interesting times." There have been many sad losses for ACB and many gains. Three count them, three of our professional staff left ACB earlier this year. I am happy to say that all three of these positions have now been filled. Julie Carroll left to become a legislative specialist with the Paralyzed Veterans of America. I'm happy to say she didn't get far, because she now chairs our Environmental Access Committee. She has been replaced by Alfred Ducharme, a lawyer who was working in Atlanta but who was educated in Massachusetts. Mark Richert, our advocacy services director, went on to bigger and better things in the Washington office of the American Foundation for the Blind, to which we have already contributed Scott Marshall. Mark didn't get far either; he's serving on our resolutions committee this year. Mark's replacement is a lady called Melanie Brunson, and she'll be starting later this summer, but we have prevailed on her to come to our convention so she can get to know some of you. Melanie is a lawyer and advocate from southern California, and one of Cathie Skivers' chapters in California will have to find another president because Melanie is moving.
When Holly Fults left, her duties were undertaken by Sarah DeYoung, who has managed to do a marvelous job of juggling the many elements of the affiliate and membership services position. I wrote a letter of recommendation for Sarah last year which must have been too darn good because she is leaving ACB at the end of this convention to accept a place at a law school in Michigan. I want to thank Sarah for all her hard work and for the tremendous job she did stepping into the breach at the last minute. We knew that this was coming so we have been recruiting to fill this position permanently. I am happy to announce that this position will be filled by two people who will be job-sharing. Many of you know both of the people who will be going to work for ACB and they both bring to this position a wealth of experience and knowledge. They are Billie Jean Keith, our former board of publications chair, and Barbara Hayes, our current convention information desk coordinator. This is ACB's first experience with job sharing so we'll have to see how it works. We are very lucky to get both of them and I'm sure they will do a wonderful job.
Of course the other major event that has occurred in terms of staff is that Oral Miller announced his retirement at our mid-year meeting. Oral has been actively involved in the American Council of the Blind since 1969 and a partial list of his accomplishments with ACB is 17 pages of braille long! You'll be glad to know that I am not going to enumerate it all here. This week gives us an opportunity to celebrate his career with us and his many contributions to the betterment of the lives of people who are blind. And now that you've done that, I should really tell you that Oral's not exactly retiring! In fact, I don't know of anyone who ever accused him of being retiring. Oh, sorry. The board of directors has prevailed on him to work for another year on a project on which he has particular expertise and one which we believe deserves more attention. Far too many blind people don't get access to recreation programs and far too many communities have no idea how to serve people who are blind. Oral will be working under contract with us to see if we can make a difference in this vital area!
ACB tried our own experiment in democracy this year with the officers of the American Council of the Blind. I have purposely not talked about all that has been going on with ACB because the officers will be reporting to you on the areas that they have been working on this Thursday. What I must say to all of you is that my officers make it possible for me to do this job. What I must also say to you is that my board of directors makes it a pleasure, most of the time. ACB is very fortunate to have found the group of dedicated leaders it has. I also want to thank the existing staff of the national office who particularly this year have had to pull the weight of all the empty positions themselves. Just because there are vacancies, there is no less work. I also want to thank the staff of the Minneapolis office. Without their help and guidance, we wouldn't be having a convention this year. They're the folks who handle registration and the preparation of tickets and the accounting for this convention. And if you think it's easy to mount a convention for over 2,000 people, I welcome you to go ahead and do it. It's a mammoth and thankless task and I would like us all to applaud the efforts of our staff and our convention committee. By the way, in case you've been locked away from the grapevine for the past day or so, you may be interested in knowing that ACB is going to Louisville, Ky. in the year 2000 and will be in a single hotel there.
I was reading an article the other day, in braille by the way, which represented the first time I had seen the phrase the Age of Knowledge to describe our times. I like the phrase because it does such a good job of demonstrating that information is not enough. We must also know things. I know some things about the American Council of the Blind. I know that, looking back at the past year, we can be proud of all the changes we have helped to make. I know that we are more than just a group of blind people who come together every year! We are a force for change that will make sure that others know our needs and know what will happen if they're not met! I know that we are much more of the sum of our parts because we're not just us, we are the will to achieve, the empathy for the pain of others, the laughter after a good joke, the sound of singing in the night, the taste of cold beer, the mingled scents of dozens of perfumes and the love we have for each other. We are the past. We're also the future. We're the young, the old; ladies and gentlemen, we're the American Council of the Blind. And you know what, ladies and gentlemen? We're wonderful!
In an open letter Dean Blazie of Blazie Engineering said that one of the reasons he goes to National Federation of the Blind meetings is because ACB is a social organization! He's right, you know. We are that! If I've done a good job of highlighting just some of what we have accomplished this year, I hope it will be clear to Mr. Blazie and to all of you that we may be a social organization, but we sure get a lot done while we're having fun! And, ladies and gentlemen, I'll take our social organization over any other organization in the world! It is an absolute privilege to be your social director and I just want all of you to know that you're the best party I've ever been to! Thank you very much.
Indeed, the annual ACB national convention requires an enormous amount of planning, time, effort and other resources and it is certainly one of the major activities on the ACB calendar, but the pace of activity picks up throughout ACB almost immediately upon its completion. As explained in the separate article in this issue, the 1998 national convention was truly outstanding and unique in many ways, one of which was the participation of the National Association of Parents of the Visually Impaired (NAPVI) in both joint and separate sessions. We commend NAPVI for giving its members and their visually impaired children an opportunity to meet and observe more than 2,000 capable, independent blind adults. Many ACB members made presentations at NAPVI activities and gave both the parents and the blind children the benefit of their experience, which in some cases was considerably different from the purely academic information that had been given to them by inexperienced teachers. Consider, for example, the friendly, frank and objective observations which Arkenstone's Mike May and I had an opportunity to make regarding the use of a guide dog and/or cane as a mobility aid.
The members of the staff of the ACB national office are always pleased to meet with international guests or provide information requested by their embassies. Such contacts are sometimes commercial in nature in that the purpose of the contact is to promote the production or marketing of a service or product in the USA. We thought the recent contact from the embassy of a developing nation in southeast Asia was to be of this commercial nature, but it turned out to be considerably different and very interesting. More specifically, the individual who accompanied the diplomat was interested in educating us concerning the seemingly amazing powers that reportedly had been discovered by the developer and teacher of a system of martial arts unique to his country. The developer or teacher started with the premise that practitioners of martial arts must be able to locate their opponents and other objects without being able to see them. From this premise the concept was applied to blind and visually impaired people. As evidence of the success of this extremely demanding discipline, our visitor showed us a video of reportedly blind people riding bicycles independently through very crowded streets by detecting the magnetic images of everything on the street by means of holding one hand out in front of them.
After discussing issues relating to the training and filming techniques, "Braille Forum" editor Nolan Crabb, calling upon the skepticism that is an essential part of his training in journalism, and I, calling upon the skepticism that is a necessary part of my legal training, stated that we needed to learn much more about the discipline and the other matters before endorsing it or its teaching. How many of our readers recall a phrase that appeared as part of an old radio adventure story regarding "a strange hypnotic power that had been learned in the Orient many years ago and that clouded men's minds so they could not see" the possessor of the power?
Although the celebration took place several days after the actual anniversary date of the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act, the White House hosted a very impressive ceremony which it was my pleasure to attend to reaffirm ACB's commitment to the goals of the ADA. The event, which was mercifully held inside the White House on an extremely hot day, was attended by many cabinet-level officials including, among others, Attorney General Janet Reno, Health and Human Services Secretary Donna Shalala, Secretary of Labor Alexis Herman and Small Business Administration Administrator Aida Alvarez. President Clinton in commemorating the signing of the ADA and in directing further implementation of it and other federal laws, said, in part:
"... This landmark civil rights law is making it possible for millions of Americans to participate more fully in society through employment, access to public facilities, and participation in community and leisure activities and to do their part to make us a stronger and better country. At the same time, we are reminded that significant challenges remain. Far too many of the 30 million working-age adults with disabilities are still unemployed, especially those with significant disabilities. To address employment barriers for people with disabilities, I issued Executive Order 13078 on March 13, 1998, establishing the National Task Force on Employment of Adults with Disabilities. ... The task force already has identified important ways to reduce barriers to work for people with disabilities, and I hereby direct you to act on these findings.
"First, although awareness of the ADA is increasing among persons with disabilities, employers, and the general public, too many people still are not aware of their rights and responsibilities under the ADA. There is a particular need to educate the small business community, which employs most of the private work force and includes the vast majority of employers. I therefore direct the Attorney General, the chair of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and the administrator of the Small Business Administration to expand public education regarding the requirements of the ADA to employers, employees, and others whose rights may be affected, with special attention to small businesses and underserved communities, such as racial and language minorities that may not have ready access to information that is already available.
"Second, lack of adequate private health insurance options is a disincentive to leave Social Security programs for work. ... I therefore direct the Secretary of Health and Human Services to continue to take all necessary actions to inform governors, state legislators, state Medicaid directors, consumer organizations, employers, providers, and other interested parties about Section 4733 of the Balanced Budget Act of 1997. Section 4733 allows states to provide Medicaid coverage for working individuals with disabilities who, because of their earnings, would not qualify for Medicaid under current law. ... "[Signed] William J. Clinton"
As announced earlier this year, I will be stepping down later this year from my position as executive director of the American Council of the Blind. Soon thereafter I will begin providing consultative, advocacy, research, monitoring and program planning services to ACB focusing on the expansion and enhancement of sports and recreational opportunities for blind and visually impaired people. Though I will continue to perform my present duties for several weeks following the installation of the new executive director, who has not yet been selected, I want to take this opportunity to thank most sincerely everyone who extended their commendations and best wishes to my wife and me during the ACB national convention in Orlando. I hope to communicate eventually with every affiliate or individual who remembered us so thoughtfully and generously. Though my duties will be changing, I intend to remain very active in the programs of the American Council of the Blind and, in fact, to become much more active in some areas than has been possible in the past. My wife and I also thank everyone who has communicated their concerns and best wishes as she prepares for major surgery in the very near future.
Oral Miller thanks banquet attendees for their wonderful gifts, including a trip for two to Vienna, Austria.
Skip and Barbara Hayes take a break from the information desk at convention. They stand in front of a painting of a cup of coffee. Barbara is sharing the job of coordinator of affiliate and membership services with Billie Jean Keith.
The Monday session began with a final reading of the credentials report. The California Council of the Blind had been penalized by the reduction of one vote from its voting total for submitting its list late. California Council President Cathie Skivers argued that the affiliate had supplied its money on time. She pointed out that the affiliate headquarters had moved from Burbank to Hayward -- a considerable distance. While she suggested that last year's list be used, she was assured that a current list was necessary. She pointed out that one full-time and one part-time person make up the staff of a statewide affiliate with 46 chapters. "There's never been a question that the California Council has more than the required number of members to achieve the 25-vote total," she asserted.
Rochelle Foley, chair of the Credentials Committee, said affiliate lists were sent out by the ACB national office between January 23 and 28. On June 3, the California Council submitted an incomplete list. Foley said three other affiliates were late in providing their information this year as well. "We believe these rules exist for a reason," she said. "We did give the same penalty to other affiliates. We stand by our decision."
By voice vote, the convention agreed to deny the appeal. The convention then passed its first resolution of the week, one commending ACB Executive Director Oral Miller for his years of service and dedication to ACB. The resolution declared the 1998 convention "Miller Time."
ACB Secretary Cynthia Towers introduced Jenine Stanley, president of Guide Dog Users, Inc., an ACB affiliate. Stanley introduced Michael Lilly, a former Attorney General for the state of Hawaii and the lead attorney for Guide Dog Users, Inc. in its lawsuit against the state. The affiliate and other interested parties sought to open Hawaii's borders to guide dog users from the mainland U.S. and elsewhere. Until recently, the state had strict quarantine laws which separated guide dogs from their handlers for more than a month when visiting the state. Lilly said he first heard of the quarantine issue from a second cousin in 1984. Eight years later, now in private practice, he was approached and asked to take the case. "I learned for the first time that while quarantine could only guarantee about 78 percent effectiveness in preventing rabies," he said, "vaccines were almost 100 percent effective." He said when he filed the lawsuit in 1993, quarantines were already obsolete. The suit was aided by the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. "I have said that quarantine was a Berlin Wall for the blind," he commented. "Just one month ago, June 6, ... that wall came down." He said while the resolution of the case is not perfect, it works, as was witnessed by ACB member Linda Cote, who cleared quarantine on June 21 in 20 minutes. "Linda is the first person to land in Hawaii with a dog since 1912 without going through quarantine," Lilly said.
Following Lilly's presentation, he was given an award by GDUI. The affiliate, in turn, gratefully received a check from the Virginia Association of the Blind for $1,000 to help defray the costs of the lawsuit.
The group turned its attention from guide dogs to digital radio with remarks by Robert Brummond, vice president of the National Association of Radio Reading Services (NARRS). He reminded his listeners that radio reading services began with old discarded equipment from public radio stations. Today, many services are using far more sophisticated and newer equipment than when the movement began. "Unless you've been on Mars," he said, "you know that we're in the midst of a digital revolution." He said despite the digital revolution, the FM subcarrier (the current delivery system for most radio reading services) is still the most cost-effective way to get the most information to the largest number of people. He demonstrated and explained briefly digital technology, asserting that it is less expensive than analog or regular broadcasts because it requires less maintenance. Digital information can be more easily manipulated by different types of equipment. "This flexibility will allow us to virtually pick up our newspaper in the morning, take it along with us, and read it whenever we want to."
Following Brummond's presentation, ACB board member Pam Shaw announced a host of gifts presented by affiliates to Oral Miller, who retires from his position later this year.
The convention next heard from Kristina (Kicki) Nordstrom, vice president of the World Blind Union, and chair of the WBU committee on the status of women. "I have a dream that all blind people around the world ... will be valued for our capacity, skills, and ability, and not for our disability," Nordstrom said. Nordstrom, who hails from Stockholm, Sweden, called for international solidarity among blind and visually impaired people. She urged her listeners to make use of the technology that can help them overcome many of the obstacles that they face. She also called for equality among women and men. She explained some of the roles of the World Blind Union and its consultative relationship with the United Nations. The WBU represents some 140 million blind people throughout the world and is the biggest international organization of disabled people in the world, according to Nordstrom. She urged U.S. leaders in the blindness field to encourage other nations within the North American region to become part of the World Blind Union.
Frank Kurt Cylke, director of the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped of the Library of Congress, was the next speaker. He announced that the American Printing House for the Blind has been authorized to perform braille competency testing for transcription and/or instruction. He said the "Entertainers" bibliography is now available. Also available now is a listing of new braille music transcribers. Cylke said in addition to the Union Catalog, a listing of materials in alternative media produced throughout the world, NLS is attempting to compile a comprehensive list of educational materials which will include state and local producers of educational material in addition to that made available by Recording for the Blind and Dyslexic of Princeton, N.J. He said the ongoing transition of recorded magazines from records to four-track cassette will ultimately lead to materials produced in a digital format. "What form that will take is something we're not sure about just yet," he admitted. "We do know that it will not be a CD-ROM. It will be the technology that follows the CD- ROM."
Cylke said converting the entire recorded library to CD-ROM and providing readers with the lowest cost CD-ROM reader available would cost the Library of Congress some $180 million. He said the decision as to what kind of digital technology to ultimately use is affected by five factors. First, NLS must remain a free library service. Second, it must remain a consumer-driven organization. Third, since NLS pays no royalties to copyright holders for non-dramatic works, it must utilize a non-standard format for book production in order to protect the copyright of the copyright holder. Fourth, the program must continue to be available to severely disabled people as well. Fifth, NLS's primary focus must remain on the recreational or informative reading level similar to that of a public library. He said in transitioning to a new delivery system, the first assumption to be made is that the new technology would be digitally based. The second assumption is that the current four-track half- speed cassette format will be in use for as much as 15 more years. The third assumption is that NLS will likely use a modified consumer product that will be available.
Following Cylke's remarks, Carl R. Augusto, president of the American Foundation for the Blind, updated the convention regarding the activities of the AFB during the past year. He said AFB continues to advocate for separate state vocational rehabilitation agencies for the blind in every state. He reaffirmed the foundation's position on education, stating that "that means a school for the blind and full inclusion in the regular classroom."
Augusto credited ACB President Paul Edwards with helping to save the Wisconsin School for the Blind, and he cautioned his listeners that "we have won the battles; we have not won the war." He talked about new publications produced by AFB during the past year and new public service campaigns dealing with education and employment issues. He said AFB has launched research attempting to determine how many people there truly are in the U.S. who are blind or visually impaired. Reliable statistics aren't currently available. According to Augusto, AFB plans to work with the federal government to determine these statistics. He said AFB remains vigilant regarding telecommunications, technology, and world wide web access.
ACB Second Vice President Stephen Speicher opened the session with a note that the program would be changed a little. The first speaker was Tuck Tinsley of the American Printing House for the Blind. "In April APH and ACB co-hosted the North American/Caribbean regional delegation of the World Blind Union, and it was an honor for APH to work with ACB," Tinsley said. "The re- engineering of APH has focused on four major activities this year. Those activities are: restructuring of management; renewed customer commitment; a commitment to quality; and an Improve for Success program, which is a program focusing on efficiencies." Activities focused on the restructuring of management include the formation of an executive committee, an update of the strategic plan, restructuring the business office, implementation of a new product development process, and substantial commitment to research and development. "Any organization has to have the processes to make it run smoothly, and we're continually looking at ours, and we had a major overhaul this year," he noted.
APH's strategic plan has eight goals: 1) increasing the percentage of items that ship on time; 2) decreasing the time to develop new products; 3) increasing the number of new products developed each year; 4) increasing sales; 5) decreasing the percentage of sales returned or repaired; 6) increasing dollars donated; 7) decreasing the number of product complaints, and 8) improving employee safety. The business office has been restructured in order to serve customers better, Tinsley said. And APH has a new product development process, which includes a product review committee, which is the first group to see a new product, and a product development committee for each new product developed. If you have ideas for new products, he added, send them in. This year the company aims to get 52 new products out to customers.
The second major initiative APH has undertaken this year has been to renew its commitment to customers. Activities to implement this initiative include: forming a customer relations department, the expansion of advisory services, establishment of a contract administration department and a business development department. "Customer relations combines customer service, order entry and technical service personnel, and we've added the staff necessary to satisfy customer demands in that area," Tinsley said. The new director of advisory services is Bob Brasher, formerly of the Arkansas Department of Education. Also new in the advisory service area is Will Evans, who spent 40 years at the Kentucky School for the Blind, and an assistant for him to handle special product requests.
The new contract administration department features Phyllis Campana as its director. Campana formerly was the head of APH's braille production area. The business development manager is Tony Grands, who brings 31 years of experience in sales.
APH's third major initiative is its commitment to quality. The company has a strategic partnership with Toyota Motor Company, "which has been instrumental in reshaping our braille production area." Toyota's engineers are working with APH to improve APH's braille and help produce more braille for less money. APH recently joined the Center for Quality Management, which focuses on the four revolutions of management: focus on the customer, total participation, mutual learning, and continuous improvement. The center's goals tie in with APH's initiatives and Toyota's as well, Tinsley noted.
The fourth major initiative is an efficiency program, called the Improve for Success program. APH divided its plant into 11 areas; all members of the plant are on at least one quality improvement team. These teams identify areas to improve within their sections. The teams have prioritized; each has three top things they want done. "The neat thing about this which is kind of unique for a non-profit is that we're going to take the money saved through this efficiency study and give 20 percent of it back equally in checks to employees," Tinsley said. "So if we save $2 million, which there's a good chance we will, then $400,000 we would divide that by the number of employees in the plant and they would each get a check. So there's a lot of initiative from that for those individuals to benefit." The teams are looking at everything from changing the environment (such as wobbly tables or bad lighting) to changing the processes APH uses.
Tinsley finished his remarks with an announcement that it would provide, beginning in September, a third choice for "Reader's Digest": an electronic braille edition on a 3.5-inch MS-DOS formatted disk translated into grade two braille that can be used on any braille-capable computer equipment (such as the Braille 'n Speak). It costs $25 per year.
On behalf of the commonwealth of Kentucky, Tinsley then presented Oral Miller with a bottle of silky smooth Kentucky mint juleps.
Speicher then introduced the civil rights panel moderator, Mark Richert, who in turn introduced the panel: Chris Kuczynski, assistant legal counsel to the ADA policy division of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and one-time winner of an ACB scholarship; Janine Worden, senior trial attorney with the disability rights section under the civil rights division of the U.S. Department of Justice; and Arthur Lopez, director of the Office of Civil Rights for the Federal Transit Administration. There is a trend in the courts to "get rid of a lot of ADA cases on very threshold grounds like whether an individual has a disability," Kuczynski said. He believed EEOC had an important role to play in eliminating discrimination on the basis of disability. "EEOC is responsible for implementing Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act," he stated. "Title I prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability, and as part of that obligation of non-discrimination, requires employers to provide reasonable accommodation where necessary to qualified individuals with disabilities. It applies to private employers and to state and local government employers with 15 or more employees. When Congress adopted the ADA it took the provisions of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act ... which prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, sex, national origin, religion and it implemented those procedures for enforcement into Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act. And therefore Title I requires that any individual who wants to file a claim of discrimination must first file a charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and go through an administrative process. You cannot, in short, go directly into federal court on your own under Title I of the ADA." Kuczynski mentioned the process for filing a claim of discrimination. First, you must file a charge of discrimination with the agency; EEOC has about 50 field offices throughout the United States, and each accepts complaints. Then EEOC investigates the matter. Each case is treated differently according to a charge priority handling system. "A" priorities are those in which EEOC believes it will find discrimination occurred; "B" priorities are those which will require more investigation to find that discrimination occurred; and "C" priorities are cases in which it is unlikely to find discrimination occurred. In "C" priority cases, EEOC can issue those individuals a right-to-sue letter. "A right- to-sue letter, at whatever stage in the process you receive one, or if you receive one from EEOC, is your ticket into court," he said. "It says I have finished the administrative process, I've gone through the EEOC, they've decided not to pursue, not to litigate this case, not to settle it, they've now given me permission to go into federal court and institute a claim on my own of employment discrimination."
You have 90 days from the time you receive the letter to go to federal court, he stated. He advised his listeners to have an attorney available at the time they file a charge with EEOC. In order to find out the time period by which you must file a charge, check with the field office nearest by calling toll-free (800) 669- 4000.
Arthur Lopez spoke next. "We know that those $150,000 buses -- and $200,000 if they're low-floor -- that are lift-equipped are not accessible if they don't call stops," he said. "That's something that we've had to teach the agency and teach the transit community. I understand you're going to have some people on transportation here tomorrow ... I hope that this organization continues to talk with the APTA group, the American Public Transit Association, because I think you can work hand in hand." He mentioned that when the secretary of transportation asks for a disability group, "he always asks for the American Council of the Blind." Lopez said he knew there were problems with fixed-route transportation. "... We are working hard to do ... a lot of the things that I personally believe we should have been doing since 1990," he added. "We know that transit was the catalyst in the '60s for the civil rights movement. ... Think about Rosa Parks. It was on a bus. The same kind of things that you're trying to do is get on the bus and stay on the bus and get a ride and, in your case, get off the bus." Despite the many problems, Lopez urged his listeners to "remember that it was transit after the courts ordered desegregation and it was buses [that] brought people of color to malls, to stores, to places that they had never been before, and it is transit [that] is bringing folks with disabilities to places where they have never been before." He mentioned paratransit, and told people, "If they are not calling stops on the fixed-route [bus], you are automatically eligible to ride ADA [paratransit]. If they do not allow you to do that, we need to hear from you!" Write them a letter or an e-mail detailing what route you were riding, what time it was, and whether stops were called. "You don't need eyes to hear that someone didn't call a stop," he said. Call toll-free (888) 446-4511, or send e-mail to [email protected]
Janine Worden spoke next. She said speaking with ACB members was a "refreshing change" from telling judges why the ADA does protect people. "Like the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, our enforcement of the Americans with Disabilities Act is largely complaint-driven. We enforce Titles I, II and III of the Americans with Disabilities Act: Title I cases that involve state and local government agencies where there are claims of employment discrimination, where the cases have been initially filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and then referred to us. We take a look at the case, we sometimes do supplemental investigation and we sometimes choose to litigate those cases against state and local government agencies after we make an attempt to settle the case without litigation. Under Title II, we do cases involving the full range of discrimination issues relating to state and local government programs, activities, benefits and services, and that also includes employment, as Chris said. ... Under Title III of the ADA, we enforce provisions relating to places of public accommodation. That means places like a hotel, where perhaps the signage isn't the way it's supposed to be so that you can figure out what room you're going into."
The Department of Justice would like to hear from you about any problems you've had with inaccurate braille signage. Worden asked listeners if they'd had problems; they applauded and hollered. "If it's true then we need to go out and do a compliance review to make sure that the signs are telling you ... when you're going into the ladies' room as opposed to the men's room. We think that's kind of important!"
The Access Board and the Department of Justice also want to hear what signage isn't required that you need to be able to find your way around a place, such as directional signs. Worden asked her listeners to write Justice and the Access Board, and/or to meet with them to let them know what needs to be addressed. Call toll- free (800) 514-0301.
Moderator Mark Richert then asked the panel to attack, modify or defend several attitudes, including "there's nothing in the ADA for blind people." After the discussion, the panel took questions from the floor.
Following announcements, door prizes and a break, the convention heard from Sakimori Ikeda of the Plextor Company in Japan. Plextor produces a digital talking book player called Plextalk, and it plays books on CDs. "Reading books is very important for mental food," Ikeda said. "Reading books gives us much important information." The machine is portable and easy to operate, he added. With books on CD, readers can skip pages, skip chapters, find the index and so forth much more easily. After the demonstration, Pam Shaw presented some gifts from the affiliates to Oral Miller.
Attendees next met the international guests: Sumiko Nakano, who works with the Japan Federation of the Blind; Walter Spillum, a retired businessman; Ryuichi Kawada, program director of Japan Broadcasting Service for the Blind; Kazuya Hosoda, a Microsoft programmer; Constance Lee, a physician originally from Singapore; Sachiko Wada, an employee of the Vocational Center of the Visually Impaired; and Kayo Hukami, a freelance writer; and Maki Ueda, an ophthalmology student. And there were people from other countries as well, including Kristina "Kicki" Nordstrom of Sweden, others from Asia, and some from Canada.
Dr. Ed Bradley gave the nominating committee report, and the session was adjourned.
The Wednesday session began with a presentation by Dr. Wen-Shiong Tsung. He was awarded a life membership in ACB and given a distinguished service award for his achievements. Tsung, in turn, donated $10,000 to ACB on behalf of the blindness organization in Taiwan.
The convention then heard from a panel dealing with public transportation. William Millar, president of the American Public Transit Association, Nancy Smith, director of Project Action, Julie Carroll, chair of the transportation committee of the Consortium of Citizens with Disabilities, and Marilyn Baldwin, commissioner with the Florida Commission for the Transportation Disadvantaged. Baldwin, who is legally blind, credits the ADA with opening doors of opportunity regarding transportation. She said funding shortages are making transportation less accessible to blind riders as well as to older Americans and others with disabilities who rely heavily on it. She urged consumers to get involved with local transit agencies. "Without this input," she explained, "less-than acceptable decisions can be made ... and credibility of transit agencies can be harmed." She said Florida receives input through local citizens advisory committees and coordinating boards. William Millar, American Public Transportation Association president, said his organization is a membership organization of transit operators. He spoke of the Transit Equity Act for the 21st Century, referred to as TEA-21, which was signed into law in June. "This act allows for a 50 percent increase in spending on public transportation," he said. "And it provides the opportunity for as much as a 70 percent increase if only the appropriations committee would appropriate all the money that the Congress allows." He said the bill emphasizes local planning decisions. He urged ACB members to get involved with local transit agencies and local government where the planning stages of public transportation are involved.
He suggested that talking technology would play an increased role in the transit access picture for blind and low vision riders. Julie Carroll said TEA-21 calls for the accommodation of pedestrians in all highway development. The bill also requires planners to consider the installation and maintenance of audible traffic signals. The section creates a federal match of up to 80 percent for the installation of audible traffic signals. The bill also set aside money for enhancing access to employment by low- income riders.
Nancy Smith, representing Project Action, began by describing what her organization does. Acting under the umbrella of the Easter Seals Society, Project Action believes that true independence comes only with the cooperation of the disability community and the transit operators. Project Action primarily provides technical assistance to transit operators, helping them more fully comply with the ADA and other transit-related laws. The group also provides training and publications regarding accessible transit. The group has recently completed bus stop announcement training with drivers in select cities in conjunction with ACB. Additionally, Project Action has been involved with talking signage and other access enhancement tools including tactile maps.
Paul Edwards pointed out that two of the most important issues for blind and visually impaired people are detectable warnings on subway and other rail platform edges and the enforcement of requirements on making announcements regarding major intersections and bus stops. Millar said his group could best help by informing its members of steps taken in communities where bus stop announcements or detectable warnings were successful.
From transportation, the group turned its attention to what to wear on the bus, at work or wherever. Lynn Cooper, an image consultant from Chicago, provided convention attendees with updated information on image and fashion.
She became interested in working with blind people when she heard the dismal unemployment statistics. She said while every member of her audience has much to offer the world, it will not notice unless the individual's image is appropriate. "We live in a predominantly visual culture," she explained. "The fact is, that being a predominantly visual culture, that's the currency. If we're going to allow people to come to us ... and allow them to take advantage of those beautiful things within us, we need to make a cultural connection."
She said the world constantly makes assumptions based on what it sees. "I'm not here to blow new-age smoke up your skirt or your pant legs," she said. "The fact is, people out there are ready to assume that if you have a handicap, particularly a visual impairment, that all of the can'ts are out there waiting for you." She said people make lasting impressions of one another in as little as seven seconds. Legislation, she said, allows blind and visually impaired people to play the game, but it does not explain the rules. She urged her audience to be aware of cultural gestures. The OK sign may mean "OK" in North America and something quite different elsewhere.
She encouraged people to shake hands at the entrance and exit of each interaction. Cooper warned against intimate "talkshow" handshakes on a first encounter. The "talkshow" handshake, she explained, is one in which one shakes hands and touches the forearm of the other person with the hand not involved in the shake. She encouraged her listeners to smile and make eye contact where possible. Appearance and grooming are vital parts of succeeding in the visual currency.
Terry Hayes Sales, a talking book narrator at the American Printing House for the Blind in Louisville, Ky., followed Cooper's remarks. She assured her listeners that "while the physical plant has changed a great deal over the years, the mouth and the brain still work, and I'm grateful for that. I must take this occasion to deny the ugly rumor that I was present when the APH was formed 140 years ago," she quipped. "I didn't begin working there until four or five years later."
She described her early years in radio and auditioned as a talking book narrator. "These recorded books have allowed me to portray many different characters," she reminisced. "I've played the part of royalty, pioneer women, philosopher, politician, and prostitute. I was Maria Van Trapp in 'The Sound of Music' long before Julie Andrews."
She read samples from some of her "sort of favorite" books to loud applause from the audience.
Following her remarks, Kathey Wheeler, chair of ACB's Constitution and Bylaws Committee, read various proposed amendments, and Pam Shaw announced further gifts to Oral Miller.
The Thursday session was full of honors and reports. First Vice President Brian Charlson introduced scholarship committee chairman John Buckley, who presented scholarships. An article about the winners will appear in the October issue.
Following scholarship presentations, Charlson introduced an unscheduled speaker, Charles H. Crawford, commissioner of the Massachusetts Commission for the Blind. "I think there are a couple of very important subjects we need to discuss," he said. "The first is access to information about consumers. It has been, in recent years, a discussion that has long since been overdue, and the reality is that blind people across this country who happen to come into contact with the rehabilitation system ... Blind people in general must have an understanding of what consumer organizations are available to them, and by that understanding make their own personal choice as to whether they wish to align with one of the other organizations. We cannot as a community survive if all the people in the blindness community are not aware of the issues, are not aware of the people that have come together to work on those issues, and don't have an opportunity to meaningfully change their own life through participation in a consumer organization."
The second area Crawford discussed was technology. Many jobs require the ability to access technology and use it productively, he said. Without the help of others, the goal of accessing, manipulating and using the information as well as a sighted person would be nearly impossible. Collaboration is crucial. "One of the chronic complaints from consumers and I think it's a realistic one is that it takes so incredibly long to get equipment from state agencies," Crawford said. "But the reality is that the reasons for those delays are oftentimes not within the ability of a state agency necessarily to change. What has to happen is there needs to be a strategy developed which strategy will address both the federal and state government and the rehabilitation agency and consumers to make sure that there's a new model developed that allows for consumers to have access to technology when they need it, not necessarily when the government can get it to arrive. That's not going to be an easy challenge to meet, but we can do it if we work together."
His final topic was partnership, "because I think ... that is the major challenge that all of us face. For far too many years we have cast each other into these kind of archetypes, stereotypes ... they don't help. We need to have state agencies that are sensitive to and responsive to the issues that are brought forth by consumers, not just any one group, by consumers. If you go to a state agency and you hear a chronic line of idealogue from the perspective of a particular doctrine with respect to what that agency believes in, and if that's not something you believe in, then you have a responsibility to educate the state agency to a different point of view." If you go to a state agency that needs help making its policies more consumer-friendly, he said, then you have a responsibility to educate the agency to another point of view. But if the state agency doesn't want to adopt that point of view, or change, then your responsibility is to help get the agency to a point where it can implement progressive policies. Consumers need to tell agencies when things need to change, and they need to be persistent, he said. State agencies should expect honesty, responsiveness and support from their consumers. "If we're real partners, then what we do for you is as important as what you do for us, and if we don't do anything for each other, then the cause is lost," Crawford stated.
Charlson then gave Paul Edwards the floor. Edwards gave his officers time to report on what they've done during the year.
Charlson presented his report first. His primary areas of responsibility were technology/information access and membership. He thanked the committee chairs, Kim Charlson and Debbie Grubb of the membership committee, and Debbie Cook of the information access committee. He then discussed what the membership committee was doing to retain members and assist affiliates, such as those in Idaho and Wyoming, in keeping up the effort. The committee has also been looking into benefits for members, such as insurance. "During the next six months each president of each and every affiliate will be receiving a census," Charlson said. The information collected on this form will help the organization in order to help affiliates better. He urged affiliates to participate.
Second Vice President Stephen Speicher's responsibilities this year included five committees: awards, chaired by Dawn Christensen; constitution and bylaws, chaired by Kathey Wheeler; credentials, chaired by Rochelle Foley; nominating, chaired by Ed Bradley; and resolutions, chaired by Michael Byington. He thanked all his committee chairs, who promptly thanked all their committee members. "And that will complete the first half of the work Paul asked me to do this year," Speicher quipped. One thing that has been introduced this year is the at-convention resolution checking, so that resolutions will be able to get into your hands sooner. The other half of his assignment dealt with moving forward on the long-range plan. He asked his listeners whether they'd had caucuses, and if in those caucuses any of the candidates for office had discussed the long-range plan. Their answer: silence.
Speicher said he had two images for how it would be implemented: a maritime image and a landlubber's image. "The maritime image is this: you're out in the middle of the Chesapeake Bay and you're swimming out there and off in the distance is an oil tanker moving in a particular direction," he quipped. "You want to change the direction. You swim over to the oil tanker and you start to push. It would be helpful if the crew of the tanker and you were of one accord about what ought to happen.
"My second image comes from the land, and it involves young colts and their ability to race in the Preakness. When young colts are born, as you know, they typically come out with four legs. And although those four legs are attached to the same body, they don't always agree about the direction that ought to be pursued by that body. Those legs work very hard and they get a lot of work done, but that colt is not yet ready to run in the Preakness until there's some agreement reached about the direction that ought to be run." He requested that his listeners tell their elected representatives their points of view on having a long-range plan.
Treasurer Patricia Beattie presented her report next. She thanked the members of the budget committee, LeRoy Saunders and M.J. Schmitt, as well as Jim Olsen and Doug Psick, for their work this year. She also mentioned the resource development committee as "something that I think that all of us are going to have to knuckle down now and try to make something more happen with that committee in the coming year."
Beattie also talked about the environmental access committee, which is focusing on the built environment, such as transportation, intersections and street crossings, stairs and so forth. "As you know, we have been victorious in getting WMATA, the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, to begin putting down detectable warnings on the edges of the platforms," she said. "But the lawsuit continues because we have not yet resolved all of the issues, but lots and lots of battles have been won and the other transit authorities in this country know that the American Council of the Blind will not stand still for them not following the law and the regulations for detectable warnings." In the next year, one of the things the committee will be focusing on is making national standards that make intersections accessible. She mentioned that there is a policy on grants and loans to affiliates; more details will be available on that policy later.
Secretary Cynthia Towers spoke next about her responsibilities other than roll calls. She was responsible for five committees: multicultural, chaired by Jesus Garcia; women's concerns, chaired by Connie Weadon and Jill Tobin; aging and blindness, chaired by Teddie Remhild; scholarship, chaired by John Buckley; and deaf- blind, chaired by Patti Sarchi. She thanked her committee chairs and President Edwards. Edwards asked the convention to rise and thank the ACB officers.
Following the officers' reports, life memberships were presented to Roberta Douglas and Marilyn Donnelly. Pam Shaw then presented gifts to Oral from three affiliates: Old Dominion Council of the Blind and Visually Impaired, a check for $100; National Alliance of Blind Students, an indoor/outdoor thermometer; and Friends-In-Art, a set of Showcase tapes from 1983-present, as well as an FIA hat and T-shirt. Chris Gray gave him a braille book "full of words that your friends, your colleagues, and a lot of blind people around the country that maybe you haven't even met have wanted to share with you and to say to you about your contributions and your work in ACB." And he shared a few pieces from the book. Executive Director Oral Miller presented his report next. "Generally we remember very well the 'first' time we do something that's especially enjoyable," he said. "And that's certainly the situation as I recall my first ... report to the American Council of the Blind in 1982. ... But my memories of this my last report as the executive director of the American Council of the Blind will be emblazoned just as vividly in my memory because these memories will include wonderful knowledge about countless beautiful experiences, friendships, successes, achievements, changes, and yes, obstacles overcome along the way, accompanied with that optimism and determination that Commissioner Crawford referred to about things that are to come.
"There are almost no words that really can thank you for your wonderful, your beautiful and humorous expressions of commendation and appreciation and encouragement I've received this week as I leave this position, not, as that letter I believe from Carl McCoy said, not to retire but to be able to concentrate my efforts on an area of service and education which the American Council of the Blind has always realized is very important but has not been able to focus on specifically. In other words, I'm still going to be active in the American Council of the Blind in various capacities ..." He talked about his upcoming role in the areas of sports and recreation for blind people. Miller also talked about success. "You know success is not just a big booming victory," he said. "Those big booming victories, of course, are extremely important, such as that hard-fought victory we won in Hawaii ... But important victories take other forms too. Victories are important as those individual victories or solutions. As you know, only 10 to 20 percent of the iceberg is above water. We should rejoice, for example, about empowering that lady to overturn that requirement of an airline that before she could get on the airplane or make a reservation she had to have a detailed medical veterinary report regarding her guide dog, far more detailed than was ever required of anyone else, or that teacher who was empowered to overturn the board decision that was made initially very unwisely to the effect that blind children in that region really didn't need to have braille because they had technology to take the place of braille. ... And this list goes on and on and on. These victories, ladies and gentlemen, count." Miller said that "excellence is not just visible victories." He quoted Aristotle, saying, "We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit." He believed it was a shame that some people judge only the major victories and assume that the less-visible victories don't count or aren't taking place. He mentioned the Levi Strauss ad, the attacks on the Randolph- Sheppard Act, and many other victories, and stressed the need to remain diligent and vigilant, "because those attacks are going to come on and on." He mentioned several major victories, including the one with Microsoft to produce accessible equipment and the one against WMATA to get detectable warnings on subway platforms. And he talked about the Visually Impaired Student Congressional Internship Program, calling it a great success. He thanked the five senators -- Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.); Wayne Allard (R-Colo.); Rick Santorum (R-Pa.); Ron Wyden (D-Ore.); and John Chafee (R-R.I.) -- as well as Sarah DeYoung and other staff members for all their work. Miller stressed the fact that members can help and have helped ACB enormously. He stated that they could help in the movement to an executive directorship, as well as in stabilizing the financial situation, by giving or raising more than $3 per person. "ACB cannot be and should not try to be everything to all people," he noted. He cited the example of "what's ACB going to do about the fires in Florida?" and how the national office handled it. He thanked the national office staff, volunteers and Jim Olsen and his staff in Minneapolis. "There's no way here I can thank everybody for the fabulous personal and professional experiences and successes and challenges which you've helped me meet," Miller said. "In some cases I've met them successfully; in other cases, not as well as I would have liked. I'm anxious to continue working with and among you as I direct my energies in a different direction ... a direction from which ACB has already benefitted greatly, and that is activities such as my voluntary involvement in a number of the activities that I'm going to be doing now."
Following Oral's report, Kathey Wheeler presented several amendments to the constitution and bylaws.
The Friday and Saturday sessions were taken up with elections and other convention business.
The ACB quilt features squares from every affiliate and words to the ACB song in the middle. Several squares feature eye-catching items, such as the one from Vermont, featuring a large black-and- white cow, and that of the D.C. Association of Workers for the Blind, showing fireworks around the Washington Monument. The Missouri Council of the Blind won the quilt in the raffle.
Carol McCarl reads a letter from the board of publications to Oral Miller, beginning the process of honoring Oral. The convention was dubbed the "Miller Time" convention.
Jenine Stanley, Michael Lilly and Linda Cote share a smile after talking with the convention about the guide dog victory in Hawaii.
Bob Brummond tells his listeners about digital radio and radio reading services.
Kicki [kiki] Nordstrom and her son, Anders, standing behind her chair at the banquet, enjoy their visit to the convention and the United States.
Frank Kurt Cylke talks about how digital technology will affect the National Library Service.
AFB President Carl Augusto says his organization continues to advocate for separate state agencies for the blind.
Tuck Tinsley, president of APH, talks with his listeners about the re-engineering of his organization.
Arthur Lopez, director of the Office of Civil Rights for the Federal Transit Administration, tells the audience that his office realizes that buses are not accessible if the drivers don't call out stops.
A representative of the Plextor Company gives a demonstration of the Plextor digital talking book player.
Sumiko Nakano and Walt Spillum of Japan are just two of the many international guests present at the convention.
Ed Bradley presents the nominating committee report to the convention.
Oral Miller awards Dr. Wen-Shiong Tsung of Taiwan a life membership plaque.
Lynn Cooper tells her listeners that they have much to offer the world, but that the world won't notice unless the individual is appropriately dressed, made up and well-mannered.
Winifred Downing and Terry Hayes Sales take a break from the convention to enjoy some refreshments in the president's suite.
ACB Secretary Cynthia Towers prepares for the roll call of affiliates.
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.
PRESIDENT AND CEO
National Industries for the Blind is seeking a new president and chief executive officer. He/she will be responsible for all NIB functions and activities. This person must: continually energize the organization by inspired leadership and personal example to meet the mission and organizational goals; develop an open relationship of mutual trust with the General Council of Industries for the Blind and its member agencies; will develop and maintain close, effective relationships with the Committee for Purchase from People Who Are Blind or Severely Disabled, NISH, the major government procurement agencies and departments, and the key private organizations concerned with blindness and blind people; develop and maintain an effective marketing and sales function to meet organizational goals and deal with the rapid and dramatic change in the manner in which the federal government buys products and services; establish an aggressive new product and services development function focused on government and the private sector; examine and reorganize, as needed, the staff and functions of NIB to be responsive to the changing marketplace and the needs of the associated agencies; will serve as the principal spokesperson for NIB and its associated agencies in dealing with all branches of the federal government, the business community, the public, the press and the blindness community; will run NIB in accordance with the highest performance standards found in the business community while never losing sight of the fact that NIB is in business to serve the best interests of people who are blind; and will play an important, continuing role in assisting the nominating committee of the NIB board in attracting outstanding, well-qualified directors, especially from the private sector. To qualify, you must have successfully managed a complex organization of similar or larger size and have at least 10 years of senior management experience; must have proven ability to function effectively in an environment of rapid change; will have experience in both government and business, or have been in a business that sold products or services to the federal government which provided familiarity with government procurement; will be accustomed to working with a board of directors; can demonstrate effectiveness in a matrix management environment; ideally will have knowledge of blindness and the issues facing blind people in society; and must have at least a bachelor's degree from an accredited college or university. (Advanced degree preferred.) You must also be an outstanding manager and team builder; an outstanding communicator; financially sophisticated and computer literate, including general business skills; outstanding communication skills, both verbal and written; and understand the marketing function and have marketing experience. Send your cover letter and resume to Abram Claude Jr., Ray & Berndtson Inc., 245 Park Ave., 3rd Floor, New York, NY 10167; fax (212) 370-1462.
FOR SALE: Romeo RB-25 braille embosser. Has printed less than 100 pages. Asking $1,500. Contact Tonia Trapp at (505) 266-4018 or [email protected]
FOR SALE: Reusable C-60 or C-90 cassette tapes, 10 cents apiece or best offer; 5-1/2-inch computer disks, 10 cents apiece or best offer. Vast library of materials on mental health (on subjects from A to W) on cassette tapes and computer disk, make offer. Call Bill Lewis at (316) 681-7443.
FOR SALE: One reconditioned Perkins brailler. $350. Contact F.G. Dalton at (724) 668-2836, or write him at RD 1 Box 428, New Alexandria, PA 15670.
FOR SALE: Doubletalk voice synthesizer, brand new. $125. ASAP and ASAW screen readers for DOS and Windows, $275. Call Ty at (785) 228-0188.
FOR SALE: Magnicam CCTV. Includes cables, camera and carrying case. Connects to any television. $450. For more information, call Tammie Hansen at (801) 255-2281, or write her in braille or on tape at 8176 S 1300 E #B-204, Sandy, UT 84094-0805. No print letters and no collect calls.
FOR SALE: Kurzweil Personal Reader model 7315. In excellent condition. Comes with hand and automatic scanners and scanning aids, as well as all supporting documentation (braille, cassette and print manuals). Asking $750. Call Dennis Miller at (660) 627- 4857.
FOR SALE: WordPerfect 6.0B for DOS. Asking $100. Includes shipping. Call Dan at (520) 284-3775, or e-mail him at [email protected]
FOR SALE: Optacon 2 in excellent condition. Accessories include extra battery pack, tracking aid, braille manuals and AC charger/adapter. $2,500 or best offer. Contact Oswal in braille, print or on tape at Box 3927, 200 Bloomfield Ave., West Hartford, CT 06117, or via e-mail at [email protected]
FOR SALE: Reading Edge -- reads books, newspapers, magazines and letters. Portable reading machine. Still in shipping container. Never used. Latest upgrade. Comes complete with manual and audio instruction cassettes manual with braille labels. Asking $2,935. Contact Lyndon at (561) 585-7952 or [email protected]
FOR SALE: Aladdin CCTV, barely used. $1,800 or best offer. Brand- new TV magnifier. $500 or best offer. Flashlight magnifiers, one small and one large. Comes with chargers and batteries. $250 or best offer. May be combined as a package. Contact Fred Meerman at (517) 655-2668, or write him at 1798 Harvey, Williamston, MI 48895.
FOR SALE: One Franklin Language Master Deluxe with manuals on tape and in print. $350 or best offer. One Doubletalk external speech synthesizer, $150 or best offer. One DECtalk Express in excellent condition. $650. Contact Rodney Neely at 2309 Longview Ave. SW, Apt. C, Roanoke, VA 24014; phone (540) 344-6800.
FOR SALE: Perkins brailler. Like new. Comes with instruction manual and hard carrying case. $400 or best offer. Call George at (815) 625-1151.
ACB BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Sue Ammeter, Seattle, WA
Ardis Bazyn, Cedar Rapids, IA
Alan Beatty, Fort Collins, CO
John Buckley, Knoxville, TN
Dawn Christensen, Holland, OH
Christopher Gray, San Francisco, CA
Debbie Grubb, Bradenton, FL
Sandy Sanderson, Anchorage, AK
M.J. Schmitt, Forest Park, IL
Pamela Shaw, Philadelphia, PA
BOARD OF PUBLICATIONS
Carol McCarl, Chairperson, Salem, OR
Jay Doudna, Rosemont, PA
Winifred Downing, San Francisco, CA
Charles Hodge, Arlington, VA
Jenine Stanley, Columbus, OH
Ex Officio: Laura Oftedahl, Watertown, MA
20330 NE 20TH CT.
MIAMI, FL 33179
FIRST VICE PRESIDENT
57 GRANDVIEW AVE.
WATERTOWN, MA 02172
SECOND VICE PRESIDENT
825 M ST., SUITE 216
LINCOLN, NE 68508
556 N. 80TH ST.
SEATTLE, WA 98103
906 N CHAMBLISS ST
ALEXANDRIA VA 22312
IMMEDIATE PAST PRESIDENT
2118 NW 21st St.
Oklahoma City, OK 73107
ELIZABETH M. LENNON, Kalamazoo, MI
Return to the Braille Forum Index.