THE BRAILLE FORUM is available in braille, large print, half-
speed four-track cassette tape, computer disk and via e-mail.
Subscription requests, address changes, and items intended for
publication should be sent to Penny Reeder at the address above, or via e-mail to
Submission deadlines are the first of the month.
The American Council of the Blind is a membership organization made up of more than 70 state and special-interest affiliates. To join, visit the ACB website and complete an application form, or contact the national office at the number listed above.
Those much-needed contributions, which are tax-deductible, can be sent to Ardis Bazyn at the above mailing address. If you wish to remember a relative or friend, the national office can make printed cards available for this purpose. To remember the American Council of the Blind in your Last Will and Testament, you may include a special paragraph for that purpose. If your wishes are complex, contact the ACB national office.
To make a contribution to ACB via the Combined Federal Campaign, use this number: 2802.
For the latest in legislative and governmental news, call the "Washington Connection" toll-free at (800) 424-8666, 5 p.m. to midnight Eastern time, or visit the Washington Connection online at http://www.acb.org.
Due to an editing error, the price for Guideposts in braille was listed as $7 a year ("Here and There," Winter 2004). The actual cost is $7 an issue, or $84 a year. We regret the error.
On Thursday, October 23, acting executive director Melanie Brunson and I met at the Switzer building with Joanne Wilson, Commissioner of the Rehabilitation Services Administration. We had been invited over to touch base on general issues and to provide consumer input on behalf of ACB. Wilson made quite a point of her interest in this kind of input and observed how many groups have not taken advantage of similar opportunities to provide input in the past. The nature of our meeting allowed a free-form opportunity for us to raise any issue of our choosing, and that is exactly what we did.
I began by discussing matters related to freedom of choice in rehabilitation settings around the country, and by reminding Wilson of our previous discussions on this topic. Wilson's stated position was that freedom of choice is provided for in current RSA regulations. She has agreed to send the specific regulations to ACB for our review and comment.
I want to remind ACB leaders and members how important it is for us to promote our Thirteen Principles of Consumer Cooperation at all levels of government. I have now had several conversations with Wilson on this topic. However, I cannot point to specific affiliates who are working diligently to promote the Thirteen Principles in their states. I'd very much appreciate hearing some discussion on this matter. Do we need to distribute new copies of this document? Do we need some new initiatives with regard to these points?
From there, the discussion turned to the reauthorization of the Rehabilitation Act. According to Melanie, it is pretty clear now that many of the key provisions we have worked for will not be included in the Senate's bill. The House version is far worse in the opinion of many Washington insiders. I suggested to Wilson that ACB was prepared to continue our efforts, perhaps even working with the conference committee, to get key provisions into this act.
I don't recall, and a brief search through messages on Leadership and ACB-L does not show me, any meaningful discussion of our members' making proactive efforts with key senators concerning rehab reauthorization. It would be very helpful to me, Melanie and other leaders to hear of some of your work and efforts. If we do not all engage in concerted efforts in this area, we have only ourselves to blame when services are not improved, those in industrial settings are not protected from the discriminatory actions perpetrated upon them by RSA, and the Randolph-Sheppard program falls into more and more jeopardy.
In concluding this part of our discussion, we agreed that at least one bright spot in rehab reauthorization might be additional funding for the older blind program. With particular regard to this funding, we discussed a perception that has been shared with me by many members of ACB: that the infusion of funds into this program has attracted a good deal of unwanted attention from the independent living movement around the country. I told Wilson of my concern that in some cases this group had shown itself to be very unfriendly to the interests and needs of people who are blind, and that we need to be sure that, if and when independent living centers received money from this or any other rehabilitation programs, the funded organization can demonstrate a true ability to provide a reasonable level of appropriate services to the blind population served by the grant.
Wilson pointed out that this particular area of Title VII funding is not specifically available to independent living centers and that misappropriation of such funding should be brought to the attention of RSA.
Then Melanie asked for an update concerning the active participation regulations. Wilson explained that the regulations have become bogged down in the approval process and that discussion is still under way about the wording of key provisions. She is hopeful for more progress in the next six months, but also believes that the group which worked on the regulations originally may have to meet again to review new language.
Finally, I told Wilson that guide dog users believe that they do not have freedom of choice in rehabilitation settings around the country with specific regard to use of their dogs. Wilson said that her perspective is that there are about 90 agencies providing rehabilitation services to people who are blind around the country. Wilson said that approximately five of these centers require the non-visual curricula that some claim to be unfriendly to users of guide dogs. She believes that, based on this low number, a guide dog user has plenty of choice in the rehabilitation system around the country.
Melanie and I each pointed out that our members are unhappy at the prospect of being required to travel far from their homes in order to receive services, or even outside their home states. I also pointed to several progressive programs in the country such as in California and Washington that seemed to strike a more appropriate balance which accommodates guide dog users in learning a full range of rehabilitation skills. Wilson believes that difficulties happen so seldom that this really is not the problem that people perceive it to be. In concluding the discussion of this matter, I said to Wilson that if one of ACB's 10 largest affiliates believes this to be a problem, that perception should be considered by RSA as formal input from ACB and given due consideration.
The meeting lasted approximately 90 minutes. Commissioner Wilson engaged in specific dialogue on all topics raised on behalf of ACB's membership.
I look forward to discussion and input from ACB members on the topics raised herein.
By the time you read this, the members of Congress will have returned to Washington to take up where they left off prior to their December recess, President Bush will have delivered his State of the Union address for 2004, and the U.S. Supreme Court will have heard oral arguments in a historic case, in which the state of Tennessee will challenge the authority of Congress to impose penalties on states that discriminate against people with disabilities by denying them access to public buildings. In addition, the process of identifying who will be the Democratic Party's candidate for president in 2004 will be in full swing. As we look across the political landscape for the year ahead, it becomes apparent that the activities of all three branches of the federal government could have far-reaching consequences for people who are blind and visually impaired. These will, in turn, impact decisions made in our states, cities and neighborhoods for years to come. Whether this situation is seen as positive or negative will, I believe, depend upon our ability to exercise greater influence on our legislators and policymakers, thereby making a contribution to the design of our political landscape, rather than simply reacting to its current design.
My challenge to you, in 2004, is to become a landscape artist, and to make a concerted effort to draw up and implement plans for a re-design of the American political landscape that is accepting of people who are blind and visually impaired and is free of barriers to their participation in all facets of society. It may take some time, and most definitely will take some serious hard work, but I believe we can and must devote more of our resources to this project. I know that ACB has many talented members who have never thought about the possibility of applying their skill and imagination to impacting the political scene. If you are one of those people, I hope this will be the year when you will both think about that possibility, and act on it.
Here are a few of the reasons why I think this is so important. First, the members of Congress have a lot of unfinished business to deal with when they return to Washington at the end of January. Members of the Senate must act on the reauthorization of IDEA, and members of both houses will most certainly have to work out their differences regarding how special education should be provided in this country. As they do so, they will be hearing from state governors, school administrators, school boards, school teachers. Will they hear from students whose education will be affected by what the school boards, school administrators and teachers decide? Will they hear from parents whose children's future is at stake? Will they hear from concerned individuals who know, through their experience as people with visual impairments, what can happen to children who do not receive quality education? They should hear from these people, and that includes many of you who read this article. You can explain why it is important to get textbooks on time and what happened to you when you didn't. You can describe the difficulties incurred as an adult who never learned to read braille adequately. You can demonstrate that poor training in blindness skills can adversely impact an adult's ability to find meaningful employment or community participation. Those of us who work in Washington can cite statistics and research papers, but you, their constituents, can provide a name, a face, and a vote that a member of Congress can relate to when considering these questions.
We in ACB worked hard to convince the Federal Communications Commission to require TV networks to provide audio description of prime-time programming and we were successful. However, the FCC's rule was overturned by a federal court, on the ground that Congress had not given the FCC the authority to impose such a requirement. Last year, ACB worked with Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) to insert language granting the FCC the authority to require audio description on prime-time TV programs into the legislation authorizing the FCC's funding. To date, we have not found a House member to sponsor similar legislation, and the Senate has not yet acted on its bill. So, who will determine whether we have audio description on TV programs? Will it be the networks, who will most assuredly make their views known to members of Congress? Will it be the Motion Picture Association of America, who brought the suit that scuttled the FCC's rule? Or will it be the people who have benefitted from the audio description that was provided under that rule and is now either very limited, or in danger of disappearing altogether -- in short, you?
I could cite a number of other examples that would illustrate the serious issues on the public policy agenda during the year ahead, but in the interest of space, I will stop here. I think you get my point. During the year ahead, we can expect efforts, both within our states and on the national level, to roll back services, redefine civil rights, and recast priorities, all of which could have disastrous consequences for people with disabilities. Some of the motivation is financial, but I believe that a large part of the motivation is a false assumption that we are not important to the political process.
Therefore, our job for this year is to make ourselves important to that political process. Now, more than ever, we need to become involved in choosing our elected representatives and shaping the kinds of information and experiences that influence their thinking. We need to be sure that they know the blind or visually impaired people who live in their district or state. We need to be certain they are aware of the issues of concern to those people. In short, we need to begin to take seriously our role as designers of the political landscape, because it is our political landscape, and we have as much right and as much ability to impact it as anyone else does.
ACB can help you take on, or refine, your role as a political landscape artist. Once again, we are planning a legislative seminar. It will take place from March 21 through 23, 2004. It is our intent during this year's seminar to give you tools you can take home with you and apply to political situations you want to influence in your own communities, cities and states. Both those who are new to legislative advocacy and experienced politicos should find something that will pique their interest. As usual, we will spend the final day on Capitol Hill, where you will be able either to establish new contacts or renew previous ones. In either case, I encourage you to give serious consideration to attending this year's seminar. The issues discussed earlier in this article are among those likely to be on the agenda. I will have more detailed information about that agenda in the weeks to come, but you can be certain that it will be filled with issues of importance to you.
Please contact your affiliate president or the ACB national office and find out how to make your reservation for this year's legislative seminar. We need everyone we can get to help us design our political landscape.
(Editor's Note: Kim Charlson served as an elected member of the ACB board of publications from 1992-1998, and was the BOP chair from 1999-2001. She has been ACB's representative to BANA since 1998. We congratulate Kim on her election as the first braille reader to be elected as BANA chair in more than 20 years. This is great news for ACB and for braille readers all over the English-speaking world. Thanks to the Braille Revival League's "Braille Memorandum" for allowing us to reprint this article.)
The Braille Authority of North America (BANA) held its fall 2003 meeting in the Boston area from November 13-16. It was hosted by the American Council of the Blind and held at the Braille and Talking Book Library in Watertown, on the campus of the Perkins School for the Blind.
Kim Charlson was elected as the new BANA chair, and will take office in January 2004. Kim is the first braille reader to serve as BANA chair in over 20 years.
Kim is the director of the Perkins Braille and Talking Book Library, the regional library for braille and talking book services, which is affiliated with the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped of the Library of Congress (LC/NLS). She has distinguished herself as a recognized national and international expert on library and information services for people with disabilities, braille literacy, adaptive technology in libraries, and information access.
Kim serves on several committees for the LC/NLS, the American Library Association, and is a member of the State Advisory Council on Libraries of the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners. She is chair of the Massachusetts Braille Literacy Advisory Council, treasurer of the International Council on English Braille, and is an appointed member of the Governor's Advisory Council on Disability Policy.
Kim is also active in a wide range of consumer advocacy arenas including arts and cultural access, audio description, adaptive technology, civil rights, guide dog access issues and special education. She also serves as an appointee of the Secretary of State on the steering committee working to implement the Help America Vote Act in the commonwealth.
In addition to her many other responsibilities, Kim has published "Establishing a Braille Literacy Program in Your Community: A Handbook for Libraries and Other Community Organizations." She has contributed to numerous other publications, including a chapter on braille library services in the book "Braille: Into the Next Millennium," which was published by the Library of Congress. She is a contributing author to the book "Making Theatre Accessible: A Guide to Audio Description in the Performing Arts," published by Northeastern University Press; and she co-authored a chapter on audio description in the book "Video Collection Management and Development: Perspectives for Multiple Types of Libraries," 2nd edition, published by Greenwood Publishing Group. She has a master's in library science from the University of North Texas in Denton, Texas.
Other BANA officers elected include:
Vice-chairperson: Warren Figueiredo (Baton Rouge, LA) serves as the representative for the American Printing House for the Blind. Warren is employed as the Director of the Louisiana Instructional Materials Center, a support service of the Louisiana School for the Visually Impaired. He is active in many initiatives to promote the use of braille, and is working with BANA's Early Literacy Materials Production Committee to enhance the presentation and clarity of braille formatting and transcription for young braille readers.
Secretary: Mary Archer (Minneapolis, MN) serves as the representative for the National Braille Association. Mary is employed as the braille supervisor for the Minnesota State Services for the Blind. She is the president-elect of the National Braille Association. Mary works with BANA's Mathematics Technical Committee.
Treasurer: Sue Reilly (San Diego, CA) serves as the representative for the California Transcribers and Educators of the Visually Handicapped. Sue is employed as the supervising program specialist in the special education programs division for the San Diego City Schools. Sue also serves as BANA's webmaster.
Immediate Past Chair: Eileen Curran (Boston, MA) serves as the representative for the National Braille Press. Eileen is employed as the Vice President of Education Services at National Braille Press. She has served as BANA chair for the past three and a half years.
Two new members have recently joined the BANA board. They are:
David Grimes (Cincinnati, OH) has replaced Keith Tackett as the BANA representative for the Clovernook Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired. David is a proofreader at Clovernook. He will serve on BANA's bylaws committee.
Following the recent resignation of board member Jerry Whittle, the National Federation of the Blind named Ruby Ryles, Ph.D., (Ruston, LA) as its new representative to BANA. For the past seven years, Dr. Ryles has served as coordinator of two graduate degree programs (O&M and teaching blind students) at Louisiana Tech University.
The mission and purpose of the Braille Authority of North America is to assure literacy for tactile readers through the standardization of braille and/or tactile graphics. BANA promotes and facilitates the use, teaching and production of braille. It publishes rules, interprets and renders opinions pertaining to braille in all existing codes. It deals with codes now in existence or to be developed in the future, in collaboration with other countries using English braille. In exercising its function and authority, BANA considers the effects of its decisions on other existing braille codes and formats; the ease of production by various methods; and acceptability to readers.
For additional information contact: Kim Charlson, 57 Grandview Avenue, Watertown, MA 02472, phone (617) 926-9198, e-mail [email protected], or visit www.brailleauthority.org.
Though Birmingham stands in the heart of the Deep South, it is not an Old South city. Founded in 1871 at the crossing of two railroad lines, the city blossomed through the early 1900s as it rapidly became the South's foremost industrial center. Iron and steel production were a natural for Birmingham; underground lay abundant key ingredients -- coal, iron ore and limestone. As an industry town, Birmingham suffered greatly during the Depression. After World War II the city grew moderately while retaining its strong Southern character.
The decades of the 1960s and early '70s brought events that would forever change the city's image. This was the historic era of police dogs and fire hoses turned on civil rights demonstrators, of the bombed-out 16th Street Baptist Church. The city's national reputation was near ruins.The horrors of the 1960s still haunt the city today and have turned a permanent global spotlight on race relations -- good and bad -- on Birmingham.
The opening of the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute in 1993 did much to heal the city from within and in the eyes of the nation more than any other single event. With the opening of the Institute, the city was able at last to tell its own story, and by telling, to soothe some of the wounds of the past.
Unlike some larger Southern cities that have chosen to trade soul for growth and development, Birmingham has retained its true Southern character; it has been said that Birmingham is the last major Southern city in America. "That is," says one long-time resident, "because it is impossible for us to become like every place else."
The American Council of the Blind will be proudly celebrating its 43rd annual convention in this most traditional, vibrant and friendly city. Where better to carry on our philosophy of civil rights for the blind and visually impaired than in a city so rich in its own struggles?
When you come to the convention, scheduled for July 3-10, 2004 at the Birmingham Sheraton, be prepared for warm weather. The average temperature is 91 degrees in July. But do not despair -- you will be indoors most of the day, as the hotel is connected via a short walkway to the convention center. You will enter the convention center on the second floor, where the general sessions, exhibits and the ACB Caf‚ will all be in a row. Meetings will be held on either the first or third floor, accessible by elevators or escalators.
Each month I will feature one of Birmingham's Off Beat Places. If you want to get away from the hustle and bustle of the convention crowd, you can go to Soul Food at Pearl's -- ribs, fried whiting, turnip greens with ham hocks, fresh tomatoes, fried okra, squash, macaroni and cheese, pig ears, fried chicken, black-eyed peas, cornbread (no sugar), peach cobbler, pound cake and sweet potato pie. Enough said. I'll include the address in the convention program, and since I arrive at convention a few days prior to when you all start checking in, I will do some exploration and conduct a taste test for you!! As if that were not enough, Birmingham is now home to one of the largest Krispy Kremes in the country as well as the largest in the area with 24-hour drive-through service. Let's see if one of the tours is going that way -- we may have to put in an order!!
Once again, the reservation number is (205) 324-5000. As 2004 is now one-twelfth over, I hope your New Year's resolutions are still being practiced. One more resolution you need to make is to come to Birmingham this July to be a part of the largest and best consumer organization of blind people in the country. I hope to see you there.
The American Council of the Blind will present more than 30 scholarships and awards to outstanding blind students in 2004. All legally blind persons admitted to academic and vocational training programs at the post-secondary level for the 2004-05 school year are encouraged to apply for one of these scholarships. A cumulative grade point average of 3.3 is generally required, but extenuating circumstances may be considered for certain scholarships.
Applications and additional information will be mailed to all members of the National Alliance of Blind Students and to those who call the national office to request a copy. Both the information and application are also available on our web site at www.acb.org. Applications may be completed on line, but supporting documentation must be submitted in hard copy print to Terry Pacheco in the ACB national office no later than March 1, 2004. If you have additional questions, please call Terry at (202) 467-5081 ext. 19.
Leading scholarship candidates will be interviewed by telephone in April. The ACB scholarship winners will be notified no later than May 31, 2004. Scholarships will be presented at the 43rd annual national convention of the American Council of the Blind to be held July 3-10, 2004, in Birmingham, Ala. Scholarship winners are expected to be present at the convention if they have reached their 18th birthday. Generally, ACB will cover all reasonable costs connected with convention attendance.
Former leaders in and near the ACB community who have been memorialized by generous benefactors include Delbert Aman, Dr. S. Bradley Burson, William G. Corey, Dr. Mae Davidow, Nicholas S. DiCaprio, Eunice Fiorito, John Hebner, Grant M. Mack, Alma Murphey, Floyd Qualls, and Arnold Sadler. Special thanks should also be extended to those who remembered Kellie Cannon and Duane Buckley in such fitting manners. The Ross N. and Patricia Pangere Foundation scholarships are also given as a way of giving back to the community.
ACB also administers scholarship programs for our affiliates in Colorado, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, and Oregon.
We are hopeful that Kurzweil Foundation will continue its annual gift of the Kurzweil 1000 software to our winners.
This is our second year presenting Freedom Scientific Awards to several of our scholarship winners. These awards are for up to $2,000 in merchandise from the company.
Note: Potential candidates will be considered for other scholarships not yet verified, if available.
It's that time of year again: time to plan for the 2004 convention awards. This year it's Nola Webb McKinney seeking all those great nominations for the four individual and two affiliate awards. So put aside those new year's resolutions and start writing a nomination letter that will bring lasting feelings of pride and inspiration to all of us in ACB.
The Robert S. Bray Award is given in honor of the first director of what is now the National Library Service. This award is given periodically to a person who has made a contribution for improving NLS technology or a communication device or expanding access for blind people. It can be given to someone who makes opportunities through the mainstream media.
The George Card Award is given to an individual who has dedicated his or her life to work for blind people and making a real difference, someone whose leadership has improved the quality of life and has been a positive role model.
The Durward K. McDaniel Ambassador Award is given in recognition of a blind person who may or may not be a member of a blindness organization. This person spent his life integrating with the community.
The Distinguished Service Award is periodically given to individuals who have made important contributions which have advanced opportunities for the blind community. This award can be given to an individual or an organization.
The Affiliate Growth Award is based on the greatest increase in membership determined by the 2003-2004 membership reports.
The Affiliate Outreach Award is a special award based on a recommendation of a state president, usually to recognize a local chapter for a program. This program may not be a fund-raiser, but one that has been outstanding in their area, a program that has had a measurable outcome.
All of these awards are worthy of your attention, so please give them some serious thought. Submit your letters of nomination by March 15, 2004. Please send them to the national office marked "Attention: Awards Committee." You know someone who is deserving of one of these awards. Your effort in nominating them will give us all lasting memories of appreciation. Give me and my committee lots of letters to choose from.
Each year at the national convention of the American Council of the Blind, the board of publications (affectionately known as the BOP) presents awards. The first is the Ned E. Freeman Award, instituted in 1970 and named for the first president of the American Council of the Blind who, after completing his term of office, became editor of "The Braille Forum."
The board of publications accepts submissions for the Freeman Award from any writer on a topic of interest to readers of "The Braille Forum." Submissions may be published in the magazine if space allows. Articles appearing in the "Forum" between April 2003 and March 2004 are automatically eligible. Materials published by an ACB affiliate are also welcome. Send a print, braille or electronic copy of the published article accompanied by a letter of nomination.
While mastery of the craft of writing is a major consideration by BOP voters, favorable choices in the past seem to have been made because of interesting subject matter, originality in recounting an experience, or novelty of approach. A Freeman Award winner will receive a plaque and $100.
The Vernon Henley Award was established in 1988 to honor the man who created and first produced ACB Reports, a radio presentation distributed to radio reading services around the country. At the time of his death, he was chair of the board of publications, having assisted editors by conducting writing workshops and by recording for them on audiocassette materials otherwise not available to them. The award is presented to a person, either sighted or blind, who has made a positive difference in the media -- whether in radio, TV, magazines, or daily newspapers -- which may change public attitudes to recognize the capabilities of people who are blind, rather than focusing on outdated stereotypes and misconceptions. Programs and/or articles written and produced specifically for a visually impaired audience, as well as those intended for the general public, are eligible. Multiple articles or programs submitted by one author or organization will be judged as separate entries. The Henley Award is intended to be a vehicle for publicizing ACB throughout the general media, and to encourage excellence and accuracy in electronic and print coverage of items relating to blindness.
Recipients of these awards for the last five years are ineligible to enter the contests. Freeman Award winners 1999-2003: Larry Johnson, Ken Stewart, Lisa Mauldin, Barry Levine, and Mike Godino; Henley Award winners 1999-2003: Kyle McHugh, Jonathan Mosen, Carol Greenwald and Mathayu Lane, and Pat Price. Nor are those who are members of the ACB national office staff, members of the board of directors or board of publications during the awarding period eligible for the Freeman or the Henley awards.
Submissions for both awards must be postmarked no later than April 15, 2004. All submissions should be accompanied by a cover letter providing details about the submission, its origin, and any other pertinent information. Include your return address in the cover letter, and, if you want your manuscript returned, send a self-addressed, stamped envelope. Send submissions to ACB Board of Publications Awards, 1155 15th St. NW, Suite 1004, Washington, DC 20005.
During its 42nd annual national convention in Pittsburgh, Pa., the American Council of the Blind was pleased to honor and welcome a dozen new ACB life members. First among these dedicated stalwarts is M.J. Schmitt of Forest Park, Ill., who is ACB's current national second vice president. Others joining Schmitt included: Sine Darlow of Jacksonville, Fla.; Carolyn Hathaway of Canton, Ohio; Susan Thompson of Glebe, New South Wales, Australia; Donald G. Morrow of Chicago, Ill.; Nigel B. Ricards of Boca Raton, Fla., and Leland Kent Wimmer of Salt Lake City, Utah. In addition, several state affiliates honored devoted members of their organizations with ACB life memberships. For example, the Washington Council of the Blind so honored Jan Ames of Seattle, as did the Badger Association of the Blind for its current president, Kathleen Brockman of Milwaukee, Wis. The Mississippi Council of the Blind honored Fannie Benson of Hazlehurst; the American Council of the Blind of Colorado honored Sandy McAviney of Longmont; and the Missouri Council of the Blind honored Bessie Reece of St. Louis.
ACB thanks all of these affiliated organizations and individuals for their steadfast dedication to ACB's goals and objectives, and for their willingness to step forward and participate in ACB's life membership program. ACB's life membership roll has now grown to 197, tantalizingly close to the milestone of 200! We encourage like-minded individuals and affiliates to seriously consider becoming ACB life members or honoring your own deserving members through the program. For further information about ACB's life membership program, contact ACB's chief financial officer, Jim Olsen, at (612) 332-3242.
In June of 2003, the American Council of the Blind of Colorado Inc. (ACBC) became the first affiliate of ACB to have an emergency management needs committee to assist blind and visually impaired individuals residing in the state of Colorado. This committee is chaired by Rebecca Shields of Colorado Springs. A person who finds him or herself in need of the committee's assistance may call the toll-free hotline at (888) 775-2221. The committee can provide information about community resources that people can access and utilize to address emergency situations. Below you will find a letter of appreciation from one of the first individuals we assisted. We hope you find his letter uplifting and inspiring.
September 8, 2003
To The American Council of the Blind of Colorado Inc.
I am writing this letter to thank the American Council of the Blind of Colorado Inc. (ACBC) for all the help that was given to me in the form of referrals, agency advocacy, appliances, tools for the vision impaired, and genuine concern for my safety, through your representative, Mrs. Christine Hutchinson, who has acted as liaison between my situation and the ACBC. Not only has she been tireless in her efforts to help me, but she has also called me regularly to provide company and act as a counselor in helping me sort out my problems and give me structure. Her concern helped provide me safety by enlisting the services of the ACBC, which utilized its resources to make all the services that I am now getting possible.
In late May of this year, my school advisor contacted the American Council of the Blind of Colorado Inc. in an effort to enlist their help with my plight. I had just completed my first semester of college at Metro State College with a grade point average of 3.0. I was staying in a shelter in lower downtown Denver when I could get a bed, or sleeping on the parkway when I could not. I did not have a dime in my pocket and only the clothes on my back. I ate in sandwich lines twice a day at most. But my biggest hardship was that I was losing my sight. I entered a world of fear and frustration, as I was not able to get around on my own to find food, a job, or even to protect myself.
My desperation was communicated to my school counselor, Kathryn Montoya, who called the ACBC, and the angel, Christine, helped me "sight unseen," so to speak. She believed that I was worth helping and, thanks to your agency, has helped me with food certificates, appliances to preserve and prepare my food, and money to keep me in a hotel until Social Security disability or rehabilitation services could take over.
Currently, I am getting cane training, life skills training, and transportation skills instruction. I have an apartment through the rehabilitation services where I can continue with training while in a secure environment. Christine continues to call to check on me and I want to deeply, and sincerely, thank Christine Hutchinson and the American Council of the Blind of Colorado Inc. for helping me to get the help I needed and will need to have any kind of quality life. My life has changed so much since getting your help, and I will forever be grateful.
We in ACBC believe that, as people with visual impairments ourselves, we have a duty and responsibility to help improve the lives of others with visual impairments who are less fortunate. Our committee does not provide handouts; we provide a hand up to inspire, uplift and motivate others, for a brighter future. If your affiliate is interested in starting a similar committee, refer to our web site, http://www.acbco.org, for a copy of the outline which guides the committee's work. You can also contact Rebecca Shields at (719) 634-1851 or Christine Hutchinson at (970) 256-9128.
(Reprinted from "The Watertown Tab and Press," November 21, 2003.)
Albert Gayzagian cannot remember ever seeing anything. Yet, despite being blind since an early age, Gayzagian, 77, seems to have a greater ability to see life as it is than most people.
As a credit to his lifelong commitment to making life better for blind people, the Lincoln Street resident received the Lifetime Achievement Award at the 100th Anniversary Gala of the Massachusetts Association of the Blind on Nov. 13.
"What I hope is what I've done over the years has contributed just a little bit to making the lives of blind people a little better," Gayzagian said at the gala, held at the Fairmont Copley Plaza in Boston. He cited improvements he had worked toward, such as open employment, use of technology and a more open society.
"I am pleased to say that over the years a number of blind people have come to me and said things I've done or said have made a positive difference," Gayzagian added. "Still ... I haven't done enough."
At the gala, Gayzagian presented the Uncommon Vision Award to music legend Stevie Wonder, who was there to receive it. "Even though you are blind," Wonder told the crowd of about 300, "you are blessed to be given that challenge to do far better than you can imagine."
Gayzagian was born in Dorchester, but moved to Watertown with his family to attend the Perkins School for the Blind. He graduated from Perkins and went on to graduate from Watertown High School in 1944.
By 1949 he had obtained a bachelor's and a master's degree, both in English, from Harvard University, but had to wait three years before he found a job with John Hancock. "Nobody wanted to hire a blind person," Gayzagian said, as he relaxed in his living room with his guide dog, Joanie, at his feet. He added that he was lucky to find "a couple of bosses that recognized I could do more."
He worked his way through the ranks of the company for 25 years, starting as a typist in salary administration and retiring as a senior financial officer in 1991. During his time at the company, Gayzagian was part of a commercial in 1972 which demonstrated John Hancock's commitment to hiring disabled people.
In addition to his experience in the workforce, Gayzagian has been a part of many major organizations, including president of the Greater Boston Personnel Managers Club, chairman of the Boston Survey Group and chairman of the National Life Insurance Industry salary committee. In addition, he has served on the board of directors of the National Braille Press and the Governor's Committee on Employment and the Handicapped.
Gayzagian joined MAB's board in 1959, and has held several positions, including three years as president. He was also appointed to the board of directors of the Perkins School in 1976 and serves on the Alliance on Aging and Vision Loss.
"He's probably one of the smartest men I've ever met in my entire life," longtime friend Sydney Feldman said of Gayzagian. Feldman presented Gayzagian's award to him at the gala. As a volunteer reader for MAB, Feldman met Gayzagian in 1971 and despite moves, she still faithfully reads to him every week.
"I adore the man," she said. "He's awesome and very self-effacing."
She added that when anyone in her family needs help with technology, they immediately ask him, since he has "really availed" himself to the technology that is available for blind people.
Gayzagian wrote and edited several books about computer use for blind people, including one about the operating system Microsoft Windows. He described with ease what he uses in his home today -- Microsoft Excel and Word, and other mainstream programs, that use speech output to enable blind people to navigate the software programs as well as the Internet.
With his late wife Betty, who was also blind, Gayzagian adopted two children, becoming the first blind couple in Massachusetts to do so. The pair met at a convention in Springfield, and were married exactly 52 weeks later, Gayzagian said.
"It was hard at first, but it really worked out more smoothly than we thought it might," Gayzagian said. Gayzagian said he and his wife were unsure if they would find an agency that would let them adopt since they were both blind, in their early 40s and of two different religions.
But Gayzagian said everything was fine once they adopted Michael in 1969 and Cynthia in 1971. He said he and his wife worked out certain techniques for feeding them and when putting harnesses on them when they went out.
"I never really thought about it as a kid," Cynthia Gayzagian said. She said when she was growing up, her parents were friends with another blind couple who had three sons.
Gayzagian is also a member of the Commission on Disability in Watertown. Alex Liazos has served with him since its inception in 1991. The commission began as a committee and its designation was changed to commission in 1994 to grant it more power. "I admire all he's done given the obstacles of having to rely on the dog to get around," Liazos said. "He's incredibly independent. He's probably more active than we are."
Liazos also cited Gayzagian's skill in working on computers and his commitment to many organizations. "I just think he more than deserves the award," Liazos said.
But Gayzagian said he doesn't think what he has accomplished in his life is so out of the ordinary. "You don't think of it as something that would warrant any sort of award," he said. "You do it for that reason, not because you're trying to prove something."
George Fogarty was loved and respected by everyone who knew him. I feel privileged to have been asked to write about him. George has been a tower of strength to hundreds of blind and visually impaired people who were seeking their independence. He was involved with California Council of the Blind since its beginning and a charter member of ACB.
George was employed for many years by the Department of Education, where he worked to provide rehabilitation and employment services to people who were blind and visually impaired. I was one of his clients. George was particularly special to my family because he helped me get the job which allowed me to keep my family together after my husband was killed in 1976. He remained a friend and a force in our lives, even directing one of my sons on a career path he loves.
George always claimed that he did not find jobs for blind people. "I just found the opportunities and the blind sold themselves," he would explain. His excellent sense of humor, along with some Irish blarney and a lovely singing voice, will cheer those of us who knew and loved him as we remember his life and how he touched ours. He will live in our hearts forever. We could fill a whole issue of "The Braille Forum" and still not say enough good things about George. His nephew, Brian Fogarty, wrote him a fine tribute which appeared in local newspapers here in California's Bay Area, including "The Hayward Daily Review." I will conclude my remembrances with the article his nephew wrote. Every word is strongly seconded by those of us who knew and loved George.
George Fogarty, who spent a lifetime mentoring the blind, persuading skeptical employers to open meaningful jobs for them and using his talents advancing their cause for complete independence throughout California and the nation, died peacefully at home in Santa Rosa, Calif. He was 93. Born in San Francisco's Outer Mission District "when the hillsides were still covered with wildflowers," schooled at the California School for the Blind in Berkeley, George studied at UCF and earned a law degree at Lincoln Law School with the aid of volunteer readers and the use of braille.
Full of optimism, generous, fiercely self-reliant, firm in the belief that all have an equal chance to direct their own affairs, George was also courtly and gentle, a careful and concerned listener, a storyteller. George was a true egalitarian. He loved his work, his family and many friends, appreciated good food and far-flung travel. George always said he had a wonderful life. He was a wonderful man.
He was predeceased by his life's companion and "eyes" Martha, and his two brothers, Raymond and Bill. He leaves a legion of independent blind, cousin Mary Friman, his two nephews, Brian and Bill, and their families, who are grateful to his wonderful caregiver, Phinehas Njuno. At George's request, no service is planned.
It was the idea of blind people acting for themselves through organized effort that was the motivating force of John Taylor's long life; and it was an idea which was important to both the National Federation of the Blind and the American Council of the Blind.
For a brief period in 1961, in fact, he was the president of NFB, relinquishing that job because Kenneth Jernigan, director of the Iowa Commission for the Blind, insisted that no one should hold office in the NFB who at the same time was employed by an agency for the blind (John was deputy director under Jernigan). Taylor had little choice since he had a young family to support, but it is interesting to consider the number of years that Jernigan was NFB president while also being director of the commission.
Kenneth Jernigan and John Taylor had known each other since early childhood, when they attended the Tennessee School for the Blind. John was valedictorian of his class. He later received a B.S. from Tennessee Tech and his M.A. degree from George Peabody College for Teachers. He did not pursue courses toward a Ph.D. degree. (Neither did Kenneth Jernigan, whose "doctor" title resulted from honorary degrees conferred upon him.)
John was a teacher at the Tennessee School for the Blind and remained active in the NFB, being chief of the Washington office for a time. He continued with the organization after assuming his duties as deputy commissioner at the Iowa Commission for the Blind until the Iowa affiliate withdrew from the NFB. That chapter subsequently became the Iowa Council of the United Blind in the American Council of the Blind, where John held various positions as an officer and board member. He directed the Iowa Commission for the Blind after Kenneth Jernigan resigned until he retired in 1982.
The Iowa Radio Reading Service also benefitted from John's energy and initiatives, as did the Lions Club in Des Moines where he served as president and then district governor.
In addition to his official duties, John's own lifestyle served as a model for other blind people who knew him. He mowed his own lawn; cut the hedges; maintained careful supervision of his home and family; went for long, vigorous walks every morning; contributed five gallons of blood at the blood bank in Des Moines; and volunteered every Monday at the library serving blind patrons -- where he rewound cassettes and cleaned tape machines. He was president of the Library Users of America, a special- interest affiliate of ACB, for the allowed number of terms and a board member until his death.
People who spent time with John will not forget the way he beat his cane about to ensure his safety and, probably unintentionally, induced fear and trembling in those close by and ensured a clear path of travel. One Iowan reportedly told him recently, "I will wrap the thing around your neck if you do that again."
One can't appreciate John without also acknowledging the invaluable help given by his wife Teri. She kept notes for him when his brailling equipment wasn't handy, counted and recorded countless raffle tickets available only in print, and read, drove, and shopped for everything from crackers to technical equipment. John was pleased to be able to help her select and occupy a condominium that will be easier for her to handle than their long-time home. He is survived by two daughters, a son, three grandchildren, and his sister. One of those grandchildren, Emily, wrote the lovely essay "My Hero" which appeared in the October issue of this magazine.
The last paragraph reads: "My Papa has recently begun another journey, a walk where I can only take his hand for part of the way. Papa has been diagnosed with acute myelogenous leukemia. The doctors say there is nothing they can do. This time, when he goes away, he won't come back. It is no surprise to anyone that he has shown the same courage now as he has so many times before in his life. I can only look at him and think, 'He is so strong and brave, he can go anywhere.' Papa is, and will always be, my hero."
He is a hero to the rest of us, too.
Martha Kay Butler was born in Pine Bluff, Ark. on October 13, 1953 to Herbert and Mary Glen Butler. Her struggle along life's unpredictable journey began at age 10 months when she was diagnosed with retinoblastoma. She was treated for the cancer in Pine Bluff but lost one of her beautiful blue eyes. Her family then moved to Baton Rouge, La. At age two, the retinoblastoma recurred. Kay's father took her to the best doctors available in New York City. She survived the recurrence and became the first person to live with a recurrence of retinoblastoma. However, she lost the second eye. The orbital area of the first eye was also removed, forcing her to wear a patch to hide the damage.
Kay began kindergarten at the Louisiana School for the Blind and quickly adapted to reading and writing braille. Then her family returned to Arkansas, and she began the second grade at the Arkansas School for the Blind in Little Rock. At ASB, Kay developed friendships that lasted throughout her life. She was involved in numerous school activities, including choir, Girl Scouts, Y Teens, the Student Senate, the Library Club, and the Drama Club. She learned to play the piano, sang in numerous choir events, and performed in several plays. She loved to write and excelled in English composition and poetry and won creative writing awards. She was the secretary of her class and of several clubs, and graduated in June 1972 as valedictorian. During her years at ASB she also experienced the loss of her beloved mother to pancreatic cancer and the loss of a brother to Hodgkin's.
Following high school, Kay attended the summer college preparatory program at the Arkansas Enterprises for the Blind (now Lions World Services). During this summer she met Thomas L. Huckaby Jr. That fall, she began classes at the University of Central Arkansas in Conway seeking degrees in English and psychology. Then on May 12, 1973, she married Tom and moved to Austin, Texas, where he was employed as a taxpayers' service representative. Kay supplemented their income by working in the Austin Lighthouse workshop. Then on December 13, 1974 her life's journey took another drastic turn when she lost Tom to diabetic complications. She was widowed at age 21.
In the fall of 1975, she began studying English and psychology again at the University of Central Arkansas. In 1977, she left U.C.A. and began attending classes at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. She also attended classes at the Arkansas Enterprises for the Blind and quickly became a pioneer in the usage of computers by blind people. She was the first blind person to read a computer screen using an Optacon. In 1978, she was employed by Northwest Arkansas Economic Development District in Harrison as a secretary and consultant for the development of computerized braille transcription. She also composed nationwide news releases regarding technical material produced in computer braille.
She was one of the first blind people to use computerized word processing and synthetic speech units and was the first blind person in Arkansas to be employed as a Mag-Card operator with the audio typing unit. She used these innovative devices to transcribe a variety of documents, including highly sensitive ones for the Department of the Air Force in Little Rock for nine years. While employed at the base, she underwent surgical procedures for colon cancer and precancerous uterine fibroids. She also continued to use her creative talents by writing numerous articles for a local church newsletter.
In 1988, Kay moved to Stuart, Fla., and was employed as a braille proofreader for Triformation Transcribing. In 1992, she returned to Little Rock and was employed as a braille instructor at Lions World Services in Little Rock. She became a certified member of Toastmasters International. She then married after 18 years of widowhood and moved to North Carolina where she was employed as a schedule coordinator for Harmony Health Care. This marriage failed, and she lived in Tulsa, Okla. briefly before moving to Austin, Texas and later to San Antonio.
At the San Antonio Lighthouse she met Wayne C. Kuhn. While this romance was blossoming, she taught herself medical transcription and transcribed medical reports for numerous area physicians by using a computer with Vocal-Eyes and WordPerfect. She married Wayne on April 17, 1999 in the First Assembly of God Church. Later she joined Wayne's church and became a prayer group leader for her Sunday school class.
Kay was an active member of the American Council of the Blind of Texas and diligently served the San Antonio chapter for four and a half years as president. She used her organizational and communication skills to form the struggling chapter into a group filled with creativity and confidence. She attended three ACB national conventions in Louisville, Des Moines, and Houston. In the fall of 2002, she co-edited the Alamo Cookbook for her ACB chapter.
In 1999, she became employed at Anderson Transcribing Services in San Antonio. She enjoyed e-mailing and was on numerous lists, but her favorite was the retinoblastoma group. She enjoyed hosting gatherings of friends and ACB members with her husband in their home.
Kay's life was a difficult journey that wound through some rather dark valleys. She knew the harsh judgment and discrimination that blind people sometimes experience from the sighted world. She knew the heartbreak of failed relationships. Despite life's agonies, she managed to live independently and support herself, and never lost her desire to love people and to help her fellow man. On August 16, 2003, the cancer that had tried so many times to take her life finally did so. She left this world for a much better one, and if she could speak to us today she would say: "Do the best you can with what you have, don't stop loving people, and treat others the way you would want to be treated."
Kay once said that butterflies are colorful in spirit, and doves bring gentle and peaceful feelings. Her greatest desire in this life was to bring beauty and warmth to the people she loved; her greatest accomplishment was surviving each day as it was set before her.
Memorials may be made to the Alamo Chapter of the American Council of the Blind, 13703 Cedar Canyon, San Antonio, TX 78231.
In the accumulation of life
The me who has emerged
Has been molded
And defined by the
Love you have so
In the loss of you
And that boundless
I am diminished and
Bereft in that part
Of me once shared
The loss of you
Means never again
To partake of us,
The joy of our kindredness.
I will always
Remember our love,
Cherish it and be
Glad for it,
But never again
Will I rapture in its
The loss of you and
The place you once
Filled in my life
Leaves me immeasurably
In my present job in the telecommunications industry, I deal with a number of vendors who sell fairly complex equipment. I am supposed to make sure that all the approved vendors follow the program's rules in selling equipment; but, though I believe in being fair in applying rules, I have found that being fair does not always mean treating everyone alike. One vendor, for example, is the only one in the world who makes a type of telecommunications equipment which some multiply disabled and blind consumers require to use their telephones independently. This one very creative vendor is a small producer who often becomes so focused on what he is creating or improving that the more mundane aspects of his business, like providing customer service, sending in vouchers, and dispatching equipment on time, tend to slide. If this were any other vendor, he would have been removed from my vendor list many months ago because he does not comply with rules and procedures; but I would not dream of dropping this particular vendor, for that action would hurt many of the people who really need what he can provide.
This experience relates to the current situation ACB faces with the resignation of its executive director, Charles Crawford. Crawford has his own way of getting things done. On the ACB convention floor, he was often more political than the current ACB president wanted, and I can remember thinking that it might be more politically correct, and probably better for his own self-preservation, if Crawford would just have the sense to keep his opinions to himself in certain situations. Even when I absolutely agreed with him, I sometimes thought it would be better if he would just use a little self-restraint.
More often, however, I noticed with pride how far forward Crawford was bringing ACB as a recognized advocacy organization truly leading others in representing Americans who are blind and low vision. His energy was boundless, and his grasp of issues was amazing. As I treat the vendors in my own job differently depending upon what they bring to my program, I suggest that how much slack the executive director of ACB is cut in terms of rules and procedures should depend on the relative value he brings to the job, the organization, and the blindness community in general. In Crawford's case, I believe our ACB president, Chris Gray, made a mistake in not working more diligently to find another solution to handling disagreements to avoid having Crawford resign. There are not many people who could move ACB forward as Crawford was doing. His departure from the national blindness advocacy scene is very painful and destructive to all blind and low-vision Americans.
It may seem as if I am coming down overly hard on my long-time friend Chris Gray. Many would point out what an irascible and stubborn ole coot Crawford can be and would tell me that it must have been a handful for Gray to supervise Crawford. This may be true, and I would not have wanted Gray's job in doing so; but I did not seek that job and Gray did. Working with the ACB staff toward the betterment of the lives of blind and low-vision Americans is a part of that territory. Gray is the one we elected, so if someone like Crawford, who is so capable in moving the ACB agenda forward, is tempted to resign, it is the responsibility of the ACB president to find a solution for the problem rather than becoming part of it. I think Gray is a capable administrator who is a big enough person to fix a mistake which he and the ACB board have made. I encourage them to work hard to find a way to get Crawford's resignation rescinded and get him back on the job as quickly as possible. I do not suggest that Gray and Crawford will ever have a love fest; they do not even have to like each other. They simply need to do what is best for the field of blindness.
I have read enough on the various lists to realize how intense are the opinions being expressed and how extreme are some of the proposals being advanced. There are people who want to create yet a third blindness organization over this situation, who would return to the old "Free Press" because they are not pleased with "The Braille Forum," and who are calling for a special convention to dismiss the ACB president and the board of directors who have generally voted with him. They seem not to know that the ACB constitution does not provide for such a process. ACB, the Forum, and even what has happened with Crawford can all be fixed if the current ACB president and leadership will simply put the real prize, the long-term good of ACB itself, ahead of current differences.
I am therefore asking President Gray to undo the mistakes and get Crawford back on the job. I ask my friend Charlie Hodge, who works very hard in his capacity as chair of the ACB board of publications, not to surrender to the political pressures of the position. I close by asking Charlie Crawford to be big enough to allow President Gray and the ACB board to fix the errors. You have to come along for the ride or all of the suggestions I have made here are dilatory.
This month's letters began arriving in October. All but one were held over from the December/January issue until now, when we have somewhat more space. The contents of this column reflect the letters we had received by The time we went to press, January 15, 2004. "The Braille Forum" is not responsible for the opinions expressed herein. The editorial staff reserves the right to edit letters for clarity, style and space available. Following newly delineated board of publications guidelines, all letters have been trimmed to a maximum of 300 words. Opinions expressed are those of the authors, not those of the American Council of the Blind, its staff or elected officials. We can print your letters only if you sign your name and give us your address.
I'm writing to express my deepest thanks to those of you who reached out to me, responding to my October 2003 article in "The Braille Forum" entitled "More Than Just a Physical Challenge." The calls from friends I had not spoken to for a long time, as well as those living with the human immunodeficiency virus and blindness, have been encouraging. Your kind words and your stories were touching and inspirational. The letter to the editor from Joe Harcz from Michigan touched me in a profound way. Apparently, the article didn't just educate readers about AIDS, but it also opened minds to deal with stigma and prejudice regarding sexual orientation. I know of many blind and visually impaired individuals who experience oppression in life, sometimes in our community. Many lesbian, gay and transgendered folks who are disabled have difficulty integrating into the sexual minority communities. Let's hope that Blind Friends of Lesbians and Gays (BFLAG) can help in this area. ACB is a multi-cultural family, where I feel there is no room for segregation.
More on Charlie Crawford's Resignation
Dear Braille Forum Readers:
Those who established this republic wrote that leaders govern only with the consent of the governed. When leaders no longer represent the best interests of the governed or engage in actions which the governed deem to be contrary to their long-term welfare and prosperity, then the governed must overthrow those leaders.
At a speech presented to the American Council of the Blind of Ohio, a board member aptly stated that Charlie Crawford is the heart and soul of this organization. All who have the pleasure of working with or under his supervision have been able to experience the skill, intelligence, and character Crawford applies to the position of executive director. Crawford's advocacy skills are legendary.
Because Charlie advocated for members' rights to disagree with the current leadership, he has been forced to resign. This course of action is so potentially detrimental to the long-term prosperity of this organization and its better assertion of civil rights for blind and visually impaired Americans, that it is time that the governed via their affiliate representatives work to remove the current ACB president.
Dear Braille Forum Readers:
I am greatly saddened by Mr. Crawford's resignation. The impact of his leaving ACB could have wider ramifications than any one of us can imagine.
I have known Charlie for many years. He taught me everything I know about advocacy and instilled in me that you should not be afraid to speak up for yourself or on behalf of others.
At the Pittsburgh convention, President Gray supported a constitutional amendment which sought to prohibit ACB staff from expressing their views on ACB policies and from asking questions of those running for office, and to penalize them for doing so. Charlie spoke up against this amendment. Mr. Gray objected to Charlie's speaking out. The membership voted against the amendment.
Here it is three months post-convention. Mr. Gray held eight executive sessions and coincidentally Charlie resigned as ACB's executive director, stating there were "irreconcilable philosophical differences" between himself and Gray. How many other true leaders will be pushed out that door because they don't see or do things Mr. Gray's way?
You have heard from me about the Iowa guide dog case (February 2003), and my opinions have not changed. I am saddened to see that this divisive issue seems to have been a big factor in recent tensions between President Gray and Charlie Crawford. We have been told that specific details concerning Charlie's resignation cannot be discussed, but it doesn't take a rocket scientist to determine that the Dohmen case had something to do with it.
Although Charlie Crawford handled his opinions quite carefully, I surmise that he feels strongly that use of a guide dog should not be a deterrent to allowing admittance into a rehab program and to deny one admission because of the use of a guide dog was a clear violation of Stephanie Dohmen's civil rights.
I further speculate where Chris Gray's loyalties lie from his e-mails addressing and regarding GDUI and its president. Gray characterized GDUI leaders as "radicals" and "emotional."
The President's Reply
To Mr. Norman: Your letter to the editor contains two errors of fact. First, Mr. Crawford was not "forced" to resign; he resigned of his own free will. Second, the reason for his resignation had little if anything at all to do with "members' rights to disagree with the current leadership." Had this been a primary issue, the statement released by Mr. Crawford and agreed upon by me would have been very different.
To Ms. Hill: I took no position on the constitutional amendment to which you refer. Further, Charlie's resignation related in no way to the substantive discussion of that motion. The point you raise regarding the rights of staff to debate and discuss issues on the convention floor and participate in the political life of the organization is certainly a valid issue and something I would urge you and all ACB members to consider carefully. When one becomes a paid employee of an organization, rights and responsibilities as an employee differ greatly from those of a general member of the organization.
To Ms. Kragnes: The Dohmen case played no specific role in discussions between Mr. Crawford and the board that led to his resignation. Your speculations and innuendos regarding my position regarding Dohmen, GDUI and guide dogs generally is precisely as you suggest: speculation. As with most speculation based on rumor and hearsay and unsubstantiated opinion, your comments do not accurately reflect my position at all. I support the rights of guide dog users and have demonstrated this support many times in my organizational work for ACB and in my personal life.
I do not favor the interests of any one affiliate over those of another. I do stand for the necessity within the American Council of the Blind for affiliates to work meaningfully together and to seek common ground in doing so. Finally, I supported and the organization has fully complied with the Dohmen-related resolution, duly considered and passed at the 2003 Pittsburgh convention. Let's stop debating old history, often wrongfully portrayed and conveyed in this column, and get on with the work of the present and future.
Examining Our Priorities
In 2004 I will begin my 55th year with the organized blind movement. My late husband and I helped to form the first ACB affiliate in California and we were involved with the formation of ACB itself.
We have been told by Charlie Crawford that his resignation was prompted by irreconcilable differences. When a staff member reaches a point where he disagrees with management or feels that he/she can no longer accord with company policy, then there needs to be some type of change. In this case, Charlie resigned.
The board and the president have been accused of some type of conspiracy to keep information from the membership. Any of us who have dealt with personnel matters know that they cannot be aired publicly. For those of us who were not present to speculate about what happened is not only useless but harmful to ACB.
Congratulations to Melanie Brunson are in order; for through all the recent upheaval, she has continued to be our outstanding advocate, keeping us informed on serious legislative matters now pending. Many issues are in urgent need of our letters and phone calls. Let's get our priorities in order!
I was not surprised by Charlie Crawford's resignation, as it appeared to me that, on the floor at the national convention, he was showing signs of dissatisfaction with his position of executive director. But what does surprise me is how a few people want to blame his resignation on President Gray and some board members. Many have accused Gray of trying to micromanage, and stated that he only listens to a few members who have been around forever. I respectfully disagree. President Gray gave me a chance to serve on a committee even though I was fairly new to the organization, and I know this to be true of others as well. I have noticed as a member of the transportation task force that the president lets us do the work. This is not the behavior of a micromanager. At the convention and on the listservs, when people expressed concerns, he listened and tried to offer solutions that would satisfy all sides.
I am especially disturbed by some GDUI members' ongoing criticism about the Iowa case. President Gray and the board did what they felt was right at the time. I supported GDUI as I am a dog guide user, and hate to see discrimination of any kind. However, with that said, I would ask where was GDUI when Georgia was having a similar problem with its BEP agency. We asked for just a letter of support from GDUI and never got one. It was President Gray who wrote a letter to assist us with this cause.
In this organization we do not have to agree, but it is in our best interest to stay focused and not divide and conquer.
Keep up the good work President Gray, board of directors, and ACB staff.
(Editor's Note: In need of some relief from the winter doldrums? Try singing this version of "Winter Wonderland" aloud, preferably near your computer.)
Are you listenin'?
The 'puter screen,
With icons so bright,
They light up the night,
Welcome to the e-mail wonderland!
Are the hall talks.
Here to stay,
Is the Inbox.
Flagged "urgent, please read!",
And "answer with speed!".
Welcome to the e-mail wonderland!
In the morning e-mails start to add up.
No lunch today 'cause messages abound.
Just click away and hope the server stays up.
You can't do your job if it goes down.
You're not tired.
Has you wired.
The day's not complete,
Till the final delete,
Welcome to the e-mail wonderland!
In the morning e-mails start to add up,
No lunch today 'cause messages abound.
Just click away and hope the server stays up.
You can't do your job if it goes down.
The same old grind,
It is required.
You'll face unafraid,
That message parade.
Welcome to the e-mail wonderland!
In the September 2003 issue of "The Braille Forum," Carson Wood, immediate past president of the ACB chapter in Maine, wondered why the American Council of the Blind and the National Federation of the Blind staunchly resist becoming one single organization pursuing solutions to the many problems which continue to cause difficulties for people who are blind. No one doubts that the number of people who would be involved, the concentration of outstanding talent that would be accumulated, and the monetary advantages that would accrue would produce an extremely strong organization with far greater influence than either group can bring to bear working alone.
Let us, however, examine some of the deep philosophical disagreements which make such an accommodation all but impossible. These are not petty differences arising from old fractured relationships and deep personal resentments; rather, they are basic tenets on which each organization rests.
Perhaps one of the easiest ways to illustrate such disagreement arose some years ago when the California Council of the Blind sued the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) to have detectable warnings placed at the edges of the platforms so that people using white canes could enter and leave trains safely. Ten blind people had been among the many who had fallen onto BART tracks before this action was taken, but the NFB joined with BART to oppose it. NFB insisted that people who had successfully completed orientation and mobility training would not need this accommodation, and providing it was a waste of money. The organization also maintained that the presence of the textured edges constituted a daily reminder to prospective employers and to the society in general of the inabilities of blind people. The CCB suit was successful, but both organizations remained committed to the attitudes that fostered the expenditure of huge amounts of time and money.
Another source of division is the electoral process. The ACB, to avoid the very real possibility of being governed by a dynasty of strong individuals and to ensure a steady flow of new people in responsible positions, imposes term limits on its officers and directors. The president and other officers are permitted only three two-year terms. The NFB, on the other hand, believes that unanimity of approach and consistency in action are so important that officers may hold their jobs indefinitely. When new people are elected to responsible positions, there is nothing like the campaigning and investigation that characterize the ACB elections.
Freedom of expression is a value ACB fosters in the ACB e-mailing discussion lists, the letters to the editor in "The Braille Forum," and the emphasis in structuring committees to provide broad member representation. NFB offers no such opportunities in the belief that public airing of differing views within the organization discourages cohesiveness.
In the matter of services offered to members, too, the NFB and the ACB vary considerably. ACB has an 800 number available every day of the year including the Washington Connection and provides ACB Radio to bring information to blind people all over the world. NFB's free services cover the national job bank and are otherwise associated mainly with people attending the national convention, hotel subsidies and a hospitality room with readily available food.
Anyone who wishes to do so may visit the ACB Washington office and/or secure needed information on monetary aspects of the organization, but I have never heard that this openness is an NFB practice.
NFB is loath to accept -- and may even resist -- having guide dogs accompany their partners who attend orientation centers. The NFB centers also believe that students should be taught to perform the tasks connected with independent living skills under sleep shades because their vision may not remain stable, thus requiring them to behave as totally blind individuals. ACB recognizes that, though learning good orientation and mobility skills is an absolute necessity, people may retain their guide dogs as their chief means of mobility. The ACB philosophy also accepts the idea that people with low vision need to be taught how to use their remaining sight advantageously.
With regard to the operation of the Rehabilitation Services Administration, the NFB-trained commissioner has been able to alter the idea of a successful case closure to exclude employment in a workshop, ostensibly with the aim of providing better employment opportunities to people who are blind. Many of the blind people growing up today have other disabilities in addition to blindness that may make industrial work the best employment possibility open to them. With this recent rehabilitation approach, will they, then, be denied the mobility training to travel to the job site or perhaps the training in braille necessary to read appropriate instructional materials?
All of these matters are essential to the philosophy underlying the blindness field, not reflective simply of minor irritations kept alive by disgruntled individuals in the two organizations. May the ACB continue to adhere to the organizational goals it has adopted!
The announcement of products and services in this column is not an endorsement 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 held responsible for the reliability of products and services mentioned.
To submit items for this column, you may e-mail Sarah at [email protected], or call ACB at 1-800-424-8666 and leave a message in mailbox 26. Please remember that postal regulations prohibit us from including advertisements, and that we need information two months ahead of actual publication dates.
Easy Talk and GW Micro are offering a 10 percent discount off the retail price of Window-Eyes to all ACB members until March 20, 2004. And when you purchase either the standard or professional version of Window- Eyes, ACB will receive 10 percent of the cost of your purchase. Don't miss out on a good deal and on helping a great organization!
Window-Eyes standard costs $535.50; the professional version, $715.50. Shipping is free through March 20. Purchases can be made either by contacting the ACB Store at 1-877-367-2224 or online at www.acb.org, or by calling Easytalk at 1-850-906-9821. Verification of membership is required.
A new e-mail discussion group has been formed for social workers, VR counselors, teachers, psychologists, human resources professionals, system change practitioners, and any other person with a visual impairment interested in the field of human services. This list will allow members to share articles, provide support, ask questions, and generally converse in an unmoderated (but hopefully safe) environment. Students are especially welcome!
The founders of the list hope that this list will ultimately lead to a special-interest affiliate of the American Council of the Blind for people interested in the human services sector. To subscribe, send a blank message to [email protected]
Mobility International USA (MIUSA) is currently seeking young people with disabilities from diverse cultural backgrounds to apply for an upcoming international exchange program in Japan.
U.S. citizens ages 18-24 are invited to apply for a two-week U.S./Japan: Cross-Cultural Perspectives on Disability exchange program, scheduled to take place in July/August 2004. Participants will take part in discussions on disability rights and leadership, visit sites of historical and cultural interest in Japan, participate in workshops on traditional Japanese drumming and experience family customs, food and culture with members of the local community. Participants will also take part in a four- day international volunteer service project.
Activities will be designed to ensure that everyone participates equally. Sign language interpretation and materials in alternative formats will be provided. Other accessibility arrangements will be negotiated to ensure full participation. Individuals from cultural minority backgrounds and inexperienced international travelers are encouraged to apply. Partial scholarships are available for this program. For more information, please visit www.miusa.org, or contact MIUSA at (541) 343-1284 (V/TTY), (541) 343- 6812 (fax), [email protected] or write to PO Box 10767, Eugene, OR 97440.
The Rehabilitation Research and Training Center on Blindness and Low Vision at Mississippi State University is seeking applicants for the center training director. Job responsibilities include managing and implementing the center's training and dissemination program, developing proposals for external funding, managing and designing coursework and/or workshops both on-site and via distance education, and networking with national leaders in blindness rehabilitation to determine training needs/priorities of practitioners.
The position will be filled as an assistant research professor or as a senior research associate. Candidates for the assistant research professor rank will need a doctorate in rehabilitation counseling, rehabilitation teaching, orientation and mobility, or a closely related field, and 10 years experience in blindness rehabilitation; evidence of success in securing external funding, conducting blindness-related training, and publishing in peer reviewed or consumer publications; excellent writing skills; and understanding of state-of-the-art computer access technology, distance education principles, and adult learning theory.
Candidates for the senior research associate position will need a master's degree in rehabilitation counseling, rehabilitation teaching, orientation and mobility, or a closely related field, and 10 years experience in blindness rehabilitation. They will also need evidence of success in the areas mentioned above. Salary will be negotiated based on experience.
Send your letter of application referencing job #5149, your resume, a writing sample, three letters of reference and copies of transcripts to: Dr. Brenda Cavenaugh, Chair, Search Committee, RRTC on Blindness and Low Vision, P.O. Box 6189, Mississippi State, MS 39762. For further information, call (662) 325-2001. Applications will be accepted until February 16, 2004 or until the position is filled. MSU is an AA/EOE.
The Carroll Center for the Blind recently launched Carroll Tech. The program offers on-line classes in the use of popular applications using either JAWS for Windows or ZoomText.
Each of the 24 classes currently scheduled to take place during 2004 are designed to take full advantage of the World Wide Web. Over the course of six weeks, students take 12 lessons consisting of on-line manuals, streamed videos, e-mailed exercises, auto-graded quizzes and audio chat sessions.
Classes cover the use of the Microsoft Office applications, Outlook, PowerPoint, Access and Excel, and are offered at the introductory, intermediate and advanced levels. To take one of the Carroll Tech classes, students must pass a pre-qualifying quiz to assure that they have the word processing, web browsing, e-mailing and file management skills necessary to successfully complete the course work. Students must also demonstrate that the computer system where they intend to do most of their work is capable of accessing the course content, including streamed videos, audio chat sessions and on-line quizzes.
The cost per class is only $50 and is payable through PayPal, by personal check, credit card or purchase order. Each class is offered on a first-come-first-served basis; classes are limited to five students. For more information, to take the pre-qualifying quiz, or to suggest additional topics for future classes, log on to Carroll Tech at www.carrolltech.org.
The Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured (KCMU), along with the National Conference of State Legislatures, recently made available an online database on Medicaid benefits in the 50 states, D.C. and the U.S. territories. Check it out at http://www.kff.org/content/2003/20031027/. The database includes information about benefits covered by each state, for what populations the benefits are available, and the limitations, co- payments, and payment rules that apply to the benefits. You may search it by state or by benefit.
Freedom Scientific has released two additions to its PAC Mate family of accessible Pocket PC devices: the PAC Mate BX400 and PAC Mate QX 400, which use Microsoft's Pocket PC 2003 software and JAWS for Windows and contain a high performance Intel X scale 400 MHz processor. New models offer significant user benefits in the areas of affordability and convenience. Both can be converted from speech-only devices to integrated braille display devices and back again in seconds. Because the PAC Mate Portable Braille Display can be quickly and easily removed, it can also be used as your PC or laptop Braille display. For more information about the new integrated PAC Mate, including photos, answers to frequently asked questions and product specifications, visit http://www.freedomscientific.com/. Or call 1- 800- 444-4443.
Pamela Shaw has been appointed as Director of the Bureau of Blindness and Visual Services, Pennsylvania's state agency for the blind.
The Jewish Guild for the Blind recently awarded the first Alfred W. Bressler Prize in Vision Science to Richard A. Lewis, M.D., of the Cullen Eye Institute, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas. Lewis received his prize, $25,000, at a luncheon in New York in November.
The Flipper Stand, a new addition to the Flipper product line, allows users to view blackboards, screens and presentations more easily in classroom and audience settings. For more information, visit http://www.enhancedvision.com/flipper.php or call 1-888-811-3161.
FOR SALE: A Focus 44 braille display. Brand new, no more than a month old, with all the accessories, carrying case, cables, manual, keyboard stand and software. Asking $4,500 for it. Call Timothy Emmons at (251) 865-0465, or e-mail him, [email protected]
FOR SALE: Twin-tube fluorescent Dazor 2000 lamp. In excellent condition. Can be used as desk or floor lamp; has wheels for moving around. Asking $75. Contact Jan Baer at (262) 542-7391, via mail at P.O. Box 564, Waukesha, WI 53187-0564, or via e-mail, [email protected]ink.net.
FOR SALE: Braille Inferno braille printer. In excellent condition. This machine even speaks. Asking $2,500. Contact Lucia Marett in the evenings (Eastern time), (646) 486-1649.
FOR SALE: Keynote Companion. Asking $500. Vario 40-cell braille display. Asking $2,000 or best offer. Contact John Farnum via e-mail, [email protected]
FOR SALE: 20-inch Optelec Spectrum CCTV. Color and black-and-white. Magnification 4x-100x. Adjustable reading table; comes with owner's manual. Asking $1,100 plus postage and insurance. Call (703) 591-6674 and ask for Barry.
FOR SALE: Bookmaker braille printer, 80 CPS, parallel and serial connectors, braille and print manuals. Asking $2,000. Juliet braille printer, 60 CPS, serial and parallel connectors, speech adapter built in, braille and print manuals. Asking $2,500. Contact Tom at (317) 786-3307.
FOR SALE: Optelec Clearview 500 full color video magnifier. 16-inch monitor. Pristine condition, barely used. Asking $1,500 plus shipping. Contact Susan Hayden at (404) 255-1962 or [email protected]
FOR SALE: Alva 80-character braille display in excellent condition; can be used with either serial or parallel connections. Can hook up to three computers at once. Asking $3,500 (negotiable). Shipping not included. Juliet braille embosser. Can do single-sided or interpoint. Uses parallel connection. In excellent condition. Asking $2,100 including shipping. Must purchase using bank or postal money order; no personal checks. Contact Isaac Obie at (617) 247-0026, e-mail [email protected], or write to him at 755 Tremont St., Apt. 205, Boston, MA 02118.
FOR SALE: Braille Lite and disk drive. Hardly used. Asking $2,000 or best offer for the set. Contact Marie Bull at (909) 392-7975.
FOR SALE: Prisma CCTV. Asking $895. I'm also giving an adapter that converts the TV so you can use it if you do not have video hookups on your TV already. Contact Mr. Kim Ledford at (478) 923-9245 or e-mail him at [email protected]
FOR SALE: Telesensory Aladdin Ambassador Pro reading machine. Excellent condition, rarely used. It features good optical character recognition and offers simultaneous scanning and reading. It has the latest software and a 19-key standard keypad. Asking $1,200 or best offer. Contact Rob Turner via e-mail, [email protected], or call him at (408) 554- 9474.
SEEKING TO EXCHANGE: I have a Supernova version 5.11 screen reader magnifier software which I would love to exchange for Window-Eyes version 4.0. Contact Jide Jhyde via e-mail, [email protected]
WANTED: Mowat sensors, devices originally made by Pulse Data of New Zealand and marketed by Humanware, in good condition or in need of minor repairs. The device is no longer being made, but we will pay a reasonable price if required. Please communicate in braille or print. Send letters to: Dr. Robert J. Smithdas, 111 Middle Neck Rd., Sands Point, NY 11050.
94 RAMONA AVE.
SAN FRANCISCO, CA 94103
FIRST VICE PRESIDENT
825 M ST., SUITE 216
LINCOLN, NE 68508
SECOND VICE PRESIDENT
1027 DUNLOP AVE
FOREST PARK, IL 60130
3912 SE 5TH ST
DES MOINES, IA 50315
500 S. 3RD ST. #H
BURBANK, CA 91502
IMMEDIATE PAST PRESIDENT
20330 NE 20th Ct.
Miami, FL 33179