APRIL, 1976



A Publication of the

National Offices

Washington Office





Editor                                                                         Associate Editor
PERRY SUNDQUIST                                                HAZEL tenBROEK
4651 MEAD AVENUE                                              2652 SHASTA ROAD
SACRAMENTO, CALIF. 95822                               BERKELEY, CALIF. 94708




If you or a friend wishes to remember the National Federation of the Blind in your will, you
can do so by employing the following language:

"I give, devise, and bequeath unto NATIONAL FEDERATION OF THE BLIND, a District of Columbia nonprofit corporation, the sum of $_____ (or, "_____ percent of my net estate", or "the following stocks and bonds:_____ ") to be used for its worthy purposes on behalf of blind persons."

If your wishes are more complex, you may have your attorney communicate with the Berkeley Office for other suggested forms.


APRIL 1976
















Editor's Note.—On February 20, 1976, James Gashel presented the following testimony before the Subcommittee on the Handicapped, of the United States Senate Committee on Labor and Public Welfare.

As you know, Mr. Chairman, the Federation is the Nation's oldest and largest membership organization of the blind. We now have a state affiliate in each state in the United States, and we have local chapters in virtually all sizeable population areas in America. The Federation is the blind speaking for themselves, for in the best traditions of our democratic system, this is our reason for organizing. This great national movement of the blind has never been paralleled in the history of this country or, for that matter, in the world. Today among our membership we count more than fifty thousanda broad cross section of the blind population of these United States.

It is in this role, Mr. Chairman, that we come before this subcommittee today. The issues before us concern the rehabilitation programs established by the Congress to assist blind and otherwise disabled citizens. Indeed, these hearings constitute the first major congressional review of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Public Law 93-112. as amended by Public Law 93-516). We commend the subcommittee for its initiative, and we express the sincere hope that these hearings will provide the necessary stimulus for both legislative and administrative action.

Any analysis of these rehabilitation programs, Mr. Chairman, must begin with reference to their original purpose and intent. In our judgment, the principle of "vocational rehabilitation" is as valid today as it was when the Smith-Fess Act was originally adopted by the Congress in 1920. This principle emphasizes the employment goal and gains its chief support from the practical economics involved. While we thoroughly recognize that frequently state agency performance has failed to measure up to the lofty objectives embodied in the original thinking which has built these work-oriented programs, we take the position that the concept of productive employment for the disabled is sound and deserves reemphasis and full implementation.

Mr. Chairman, the relatively small expenditures of capital in the effort to rehabilitate disabled persons is returned many times over. We estimate, for example, that for each blind person placed in productive employment, the taxpayers of America have saved $100,000, and of course this fails to take account of the human value-the personal satisfaction gained by the individual, his family, and the community in which he lives. Indeed, most of us would jump at the chance to reap such a high return on our personal financial investments.

It is with this in mind that we approach a review of the status of current efforts and offer our suggestions for appropriate modifications.

(1) State Agency Organizational Structure

Originally established and conceived as a distinct program directed at meeting the employment needs of persons with physical disabilities, the vocational rehabilitation programs have gradually become submerged into larger units of state government. The principle invoked seems to have been that of economy of scale. The usual public administration theory is that organizational concepts must follow functional lines. Thus, it is reasoned that it takes the same type of skill to buy a typewriter as it does to purchase a battleship; to collect sales taxes as to collect income taxes; to account for equipment as to account for revenues; and to build highways as to build hospitals.

While this typical public administration model meets the presumed advantages of a neat organizational chart, it has always failed and still fails to meet the actual human needs of programs designed to assist people. Particularly this is true of vocational rehabilitation programs which ought to be of necessity oriented toward meeting the specific needs of each individual to be served.

With this as a background, Mr. Chairman, we strongly oppose any proposals (advanced by the Administration or otherwise) which would seek to abandon the concept that vocational rehabilitation services must be provided by a distinct unit of state government responsible for delivery of such services to the disabled.

The trend toward human resourcestype superagencies is, in our view, the most ominous threat which vocational rehabilitation has ever confronted. Specifically, in state after state the distinct status and integrity of programs for the blind has been traded for administrative arrangements which divide decision-making, dilute service delivery, and disperse accountability. Under these plans, the people who suffer are those who were supposed to be reached.

In the area of services to the blind, a recent study has forthrightly supported these conclusions by observing that: "The strongest, best organizational pattern for an agency to service the blind is clearly the separate commission, separate agency form, with direct access to the governor and legislature of that state." In commenting on the disadvantages of the current trend toward placing agencies for the blind into larger umbrella structures, the study concludes: "These changes in structure have in many instances ruptured the internal operational stability of these complex rehabilitation areas. This has resulted in: (1) a loss of high skilled professionals at each level of operation—especially the policy-making level; (2) a severe loss of final decision-making authority; and (3) less control over budget, spending, and accounting therefor. In a few states it would appear that all control has been lost over these three areas . . . ."

Mr. Chairman, we conclude that these "experimental delivery systems" (the euphemism adopted by some to describe a further waiver of the sole state agency requirement) do not have the advantages which the organizational theorists and efficiency experts repeatedly proclaim. Rather than resulting in more appropriate and better services reaching the client, they have always entangled him in endless yards of red tape. Nor have these superagency arrangements resulted in making more funds available for rehabilitation programs or in a closer coordination of such programs with other related functions of state government.

Accordingly, we call upon the Congress to reaffirm the concept that vocational rehabilitation services are to be provided by a distinct unit of state government, clearly and directly responsible for the administration of such programs. In the sphere of services to the blind, we have witnessed a crippling fragmentation in too many states, and we therefore ask the Congress to reverse this trend by recognizing the continued validity of the separate agency approach.

(2) Independent Living Rehabilitation

The concept of independent living rehabilitation (the so-called ILR Program) has been around for some time. In the 1973 Act, largely as a result of the increased emphasis on services to persons with the most severe disabilities, the Congress directed the Secretary to conduct a comprehensive study of the needs of such individuals. One of the concerns raised in the "Comprehensive Needs Study" is the feasibility and desirability of establishing an independent living rehabilitation program.

The National Federation of the Blind recognizes the need for developing improved services to disabled individuals who are not adequately served or for whom there is no clear and reasonable expectation of achieving the employment objective currently in the Act. While entering this new phase, however, we must add a word of caution. The original objective of rehabilitation was to place the disabled into productive employment, and therefore, new initiatives (no matter how praiseworthy) must not be allowed to erode the efficacy of this concept.

In the area of services to the blind there is a particular need to expand programs for assisting the older blind. According to the "Comprehensive Needs Study," sixty percent of those whose visual loss places them within the range of a functional definition of blindness are age fifty-five or older, but these people are virtually unserved by current rehabilitation efforts. Such individuals should have available to them a broad range of services such as home teaching services, orientation and mobility services, personal adjustment services, library services, assistance in obtaining adequate housing and assistance in identifying and utilizing educational, recreational, and other community resources leading to social participation and breaking out from a life of loneliness and isolation.

Truly one of the greatest impediments facing the modem multiservice state agency for the blind is the mounds of paperwork and miles of red tape which stand between its qualified professionals and the delivery of services to all clients regardless of age or objective. We believe that a major step forward will be taken in serving all blind persons if the Congress authorizes funds under this Act to be expended for the provision of a broad range of services to blind persons, and particularly to those who may not reasonably be expected to benefit in terms of a vocational objective.

This authority should be contained in a separate title of the Act. Also every effort must be made to insure that programs are structured and operated in such a manner that efforts to provide what are essentially independent living rehabilitation services to those blind persons for whom such services are appropriate (particularly the older blind) do not diminish state agency initiative or or responsibility to implement vigorously the traditional vocationally oriented programs.

Mr. Chairman, experience demonstrates that the particular field of services to the blind is a separate and distinct discipline. Services to the blind should, therefore, be administered as a total package. This package contains the traditional vocational rehabilitation services, along with other services which are not specifically defined as vocational rehabilitation, even though many have a clear relationship to the employment objective. Among these services are: (1) counseling services to blind children and their parents; (2) production and distribution of special reading materials and specialized equipment to blind persons of all ages; (3) both medical and educational services directed toward the prevention of blindness; (4) services to deaf/blind youths and adults; (5) homemaker and other home-instruction programs for blind individuals; (6) the distribution of talking book machines and cassette tape players; (7) warehousing and distribution of special aids, appliances, and devices utilized by blind persons in doing without sight many of the things for which sight is used by those who possess it; (8) services to older blind persons; (9) orientation, mobility, and personal adjustment services; and (10) other social, educational, and employment-related services designed to increase the independence and self-sufficiency of individuals who are blind or visually impaired.

It is our position, Mr. Chairman, that this broader range of services provided to blind persons by agencies serving the blind should be recognized under the Rehabilitation Act and that Federal funding should be made available for such purposes. Particularly, we would emphasize that such funds should be granted in a manner which does not simply add to the burden of administering already complex programs. In fact, the intent of our recommendation is to free state agencies for the blind from the substantial burden of administrative detail which now impedes their efforts to offer appropriate services to individuals who need them.

(3) Placement in Competitive Employment

Among the many recommendations of the "Comprehensive Needs Study" is the finding that agencies for the blind must respond to the need for more imaginative leadership in efforts to place clients in the competitive labor force. Indeed this underscores what we, the blind, have argued for years. Despite our expressed desire for innovative approaches in expanding employment opportunities for the blind, there is still a severely limited range of employment options available to all but the most aggressive.

While it is true that the traditional stereotyped occupations of chair-caning and broom-winding are being replaced, it is equally true that the tendency to limit vocational choices still prevails. Thus, although we have progressed somewhat in the direction of more challenging and appropriate employment objectives, clients are too often restricted to certain predetermined areas such as computer programming and teleservice information work. In fact, these are now becoming the new stereotypes. Even more distressing, though, is the continued and unchecked reliance on sheltered workshops as places of employment for the blind.

Mr. Chairman, while we will have more to say about the findings and recommendations of the Sheltered Workshop Study as they relate to services to the blind, we take this opportunity to urge the subcommittee to establish training and placement priorities under the Rehabilitation Act. Such priorities should include an emphasis on employment in the public and private sectors outside the sheltered environment of the workshop. Priorities should also be given to use of on-the-job training as a means of preparing handicapped individuals for entry into the competitive labor force in view of the finding by the study that jobs traditionally available in the workshops are of little value in preparing handicapped individuals for work in open industry.

A necessary first step in implementing a priority system, particularly with respect to closures, is to require state agencies to separate and publicly disclose the number of closures they achieve in variously specified categories; that is, those rehabilitated into competitive employment (defined as full-time employment outside of a workshop or rehabilitation facility, where the individual earns at least the minimum wage), those placed in workshop facilities, those closed as unpaid family workers, and so on. This type of reporting system would give an improved picture of placement activities and it would be to the benefit of all parties concerned. We are aware that there has been much talk of a weighted closure system, and we strongly urge implementation of arrangements which will curtail the numbers game in favor of services to clients.

(4) Sheltered Workshops as Employment, Training, and Placement Facilities

The 1973 Act directed the Secretary to conduct an original study of the role of sheltered workshops in the rehabilitation and employment of handicapped individuals. The study, conducted by Greenleigh Associates, has now been transmitted to the Congress with appropriate recommendations of the Secretary.

Upon reviewing the findings of this report, we were not at all surprised to find many conclusions similar to those contained in testimony which we have presented to the Congress for years. For example, the study reveals that workers in the shops are paid at a level far below the poverty line. Even though workshops for the blind tended to have wages higher than general workshops, the average earnings of the blind worker were found to be only $2,610 annually. Also, as we have repeatedly testified, the placement efforts of the workshops were found to be virtually nonexistent, with workshops for the blind lagging behind general workshops and having a paltry seven percent placement rate according to the study.

Mr. Chairman, as we have consistently urged, we believe that it is time for the Congress to act on behalf of those disabled and blind Americans who have been pushed aside from the main channels of economic productivity. The data has been gathered and the studies are complete. The time for solutions is now at hand.

Today we renew our call for the rights of those Americans in sheltered employment outside the competitive labor force. Mr. Chairman, we believe that justice demands that these disabled individuals be guaranteed at least the Federal minimum wage and that they be afforded the full benefits of workman's compensation and additional fringe benefits which are normally considered a matter of right for workers in competitive industry. In addition, there must be full recognition of the right of workers in sheltered employment to organize and bargain collectively. There is literally no justification for continuing to foster a system which, according to the study, perpetuates a category of second-class workers.

Mr. Chairman, we are particularly distressed that workshops for the blind have resisted the need for reform and have instead sought to cloak themselves with respectability through a process of accreditation by the National Accreditation Council for Agencies Serving the Blind and Visually Handicapped (NAC). Indeed, the study discloses the true failings of such workshops and thus reveals that accreditation has, more often than not, served as a means of propping up a sagging system which has neglected its obligation to respond to the needs of those it purports to serve. If accreditation of workshops for the blind by NAC is ever to become meaningful, it must find ways of reflecting the best interests of the clients. Such interests include requiring that workers receive at least the minimum wage, that every effort be made to place them in competitive employment, that goals be set and shops be expected to maintain a high level of performance with respect to actual placements in open industry, and that clients who work in the sheltered settings be afforded all rights, privileges, and benefits of workers in competitive employment.

Mr. Chairman, the time is at hand for these goals to be made a reality.

(5) The Means Test and Other Economic Need Provisions

The regulations currently in place offer the states an opportunity to impose a test of economic need on vocational rehabilitation clients. We strongly oppose continued use of the means test since we think it is counterproductive with respect to fulfilling the purposes of the Rehabilitation Act.

A disabled individual's need for services is derived not from his economic status but from the fact of his disability. The period of adjustment and rehabilitation is also one of severe economic stress for the individual and those around him. It is incongruous, therefore, to condition training opportunities on the client's ability to pay for them.

Actually, the Rehabilitation Act and the Regulations recognize the validity of this argument by providing that a test for economic need may not be imposed on provision of certain specified services—evaluation of rehabilitation potential; counseling, guidance, and referral services; and placement. The point is surely clear. The principle has been established that there shall be no economic need test for certain types of vocational rehabilitation services.

Mr. Chairman, we see no justification for imposing such a test arbitrarily on eligibility for other services and thereby discouraging or deterring disabled individuals from taking advantage of such services. We do not believe that a serious cost factor is involved, and we therefore urge the prohibition of a means test.

We have yet another concern in this regard. The act and Regulations also provide that the state agencies must make a maximum effort to take advantage of other grant assistance in developing arrangements for paying the costs of training in institutions of higher education. While we recognize the validity of the principle of utilizing the resources of other grant programs, we are also aware of major abuses of this provision as it has been interpreted in the states. For example, in the State of Michigan blind students were required to submit to the state agency detailed financial data concerning their parents' income and resources. While in some instances this data was used as a determinant for eligibility for other grant assistance, in other cases it was used as the basis for the denial of services by the State Agency for the Blind. The Michigan incident is not an isolated example.

Mr. Chairman, we accordingly urge the subcommittee to clarify the congressional intent on this issue. Every effort must be made to assure that endeavors to take advantage of other available resources will not themselves be used as a means or an excuse for not providing funding through vocational rehabilitation when such funding is called for in the circumstances.

(6) Client Assistance or Client Advocacy

The 1973 Act authorized funding of "client assistance" pilot projects. We believe that the times demand rethinking of this program. The emphasis, in our opinion, ought to be on client advocacy. The "client assistance" projects have perhaps served a useful function insofar as they have better informed some disabled individuals about the nature of the rehabilitation process and the rights and opportunities available through it, but in this regard these projects have merely served a function which should be expected of all VR personnel, especially rehabilitation counselors.

To solve the problem which is only partly and inadequately addressed by the "client assistance" project concept, we recommend the establishment of a complaint and appeals procedure which could be operated similar to the hearings and appeals process under the Social Security Act.

The current regulations require that state agencies provide opportunity for administrative review and for a fair hearing, but if clients are aware of these options at all, they often see them as empty gestures. As in other programs, such as Social Security, Veterans, and now the Randolph-Sheppard Vending Facilities program, the actual concept of due process must prevail in vocational rehabilitation.

Mr. Chairman, we are particularly pleased that the subcommittee and the Congress saw fit to provide for a fair hearing and arbitration process to deal with disputes which arise in the administration of the program authorized by the Randolph-Sheppard Act. We believe that this was one of the major steps forward taken in the 1974 Amendments. Because of this action, blind vendors are no longer solely at the mercy of administrative whim. They now have both arbitration and judicial review.

Mr. Chairman, as a means of guaranteeing the client's rights and enhancing his full participation in the rehabilitation process, we recommend implementation of a uniform and fair complaint and appeals procedure. There are, as indicated, several models now operating in various of the human service programs. The Social Security form, with perhaps slight modifications, is the most appropriate for VR programs, which have three levels of administration (state, regional, and national), each of which might serve as a level for receiving and processing appeals, with the guarantee of judicial review.

(7) Affirmative Action: The Promise and the Hope

Section 501 of the Rehabilitation Act requires Federal agencies to develop and file with the Civil Service Commission affirmative action plans under which they will employ and advance in employment qualified handicapped individuals.

For a long time the Federal Government has had what has been termed a "selective placement" program for the handicapped. It was to this unit of the Civil Service Commission that the new duties of affirmative action have been assigned. As far as we can tell by firsthand experience, there has been little movement beyond the more traditional "selective placement" concept into the new and more enlightened era of affirmative action for the handicapped in Federal employment.

It is ironic, Mr. Chairman, that while the Federal Government seeks to require government contractors to develop and implement affirmative employment programs, similar initiatives in Federal employment are so limited. Instances of open discrimination against the blind who attempt to enter Federal employment are abundant. One blind attorney was first accepted on the basis of his personal qualifications and later rejected on the basis of his blindness for a position with the Internal Revenue Service as a revenue officer. Another blind man was told that he could not be employed as a contract compliance officer with the Department of Labor because of his inability to drive an automobile. The job was in an urban area with public transportation readily available. A third blind applicant was rejected as a Social Security claims representative on the basis that he could not handle the heavy reading involved, and he was advised to apply for a teleservice information specialist position. When he did so, this blind man was once again rejected, because he was considered overqualified.

The common element in each of these cases, aside from the fact of discrimination, is that those aggrieved had no recourse for reversing the unjust action. Certainly we do acknowledge and salute progressive efforts of Federal agencies to employ blind and disabled individuals, but the success stories should not cause complacency when it comes to protecting the rights of those for whom the system has not worked as may have been intended.

The problem in this area of Federal employment, Mr. Chairman, is that there is usually nowhere to turn when an opportunity has been denied and when that denial seems to be unjust. If affirmative action is to be at all meaningful, it must truly be more than a paper promise. To insure that this will be the case, we call for a complaint procedure, drawing the concept from the Section 503 program. It is imperative that such a complaint procedure be uniform, and to accomplish this, its administration should be placed in the hands of the Civil Service Commission. We would be opposed to a system which would assign complaint review and processing solely through the agency which denied the employment or advancement in the first place. Also, there must be a guarantee for judicial review of decisions rendered by the Civil Service Commission.

The complaint procedure which we recommend would utilize the already existing Federal Employees' Appeals Authorities, which exist at the regional level in the Civil Service system. FEAA's would receive, investigate, and resolve complaints brought by handicapped individuals who believe that any Federal agency, department, or instrumentality is failing to comply with the affirmative action provisions of Section 501. Consistent with due process, the Appeals Review Board of the Civil Service Commission would also accept cases under this section brought on appeal from the FEAA's. Finally, there must be assurance by the Civil Service Commission and each Federal agency, department, or instrumentality that a finding of agency noncompliance with affirmative action provisions will result in a reversal of the action which prompted the complaint originally. A major problem which has existed is that even when handicapped individuals have been able to prove discrimination, the original decision is maintained. It is alleged that there exists no authority for reversing a personnel action, once taken. Thus, even though the handicapped individual is successful in proving his case, he may not be afforded the opportunity to work.

The Congress must now act, Mr. Chairman, to make the promise of Section 501 come true.


Mr. Chairman, this is our overall appraisal of the current status and functioning of programs under the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended. We hope that the subcommittee will pay close attention to the thoughts and recommendations presented. The National Federation of the Blind stands ready to provide additional views or documentation if you should wish. We are also prepared to work with the members and the staff of the subcommittee to develop appropriate amendments.  

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Editor's Note.Underscoring Mr. Gashel's remarks about lack of enforcement of the anti-discrimination sections of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 are the remarks of Congressman Dodd of Connecticut. During discussion of the Rehabilitation Act Amendments in the House of Representatives on February 17, 1976, he stated:

Mr. Speaker, I rise to express my strong support for the extension of authorizations for the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. The Rehabilitation Act marks a major commitment of the Federal Government to aid the states in meeting the needs of the disabled, and it is essential that we continue the funding of these necessary programs to aid the handicapped, in coping with their disability through rehabilitation services which strive toward the goal of enabling the disabled to play meaningful and productive roles in our society.

However, in our extension of the authorizations for the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, it is imperative that we do not forget that beyond the funding provisions of the Rehabilitation Act, this legislation guarantees the civil rights of the handicapped vis-a-vis the Federal Government and/or Federal contractors and recipients of Federal financial assistance. Section 501 of the act prohibits employment discrimination against the handicapped in the Federal Government. Section 503 safeguards the rights of the handicapped vis-a-vis contractors with the Federal Government. Section 504 prohibits discrimination against an otherwise qualified handicapped individual solely on the basis of his handicap, under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.

Unfortunately, since passage of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 there has been little effective enforcement of these civil rights provisions. A GAO study done at my request last summer revealed very limited progress in implementation of section 503, and virtually no implementation of section 504—aside from the assumption of the responsibility by the Office of Civil Rights of HEW for enforement of this section as pertains to HEW. After three years no agency has yet been assigned overall responsibility for implementation of section 504. Since the summer, an Executive order has been under consideration by the Justice Department, and presently the White House, which would vest overall responsibility for enforcement of the act with HEW's Office of Civil Rights. However, as yet there has been no action by the President, and thus millions of handicapped Americans, whose civil rights Congress in 1973 acted to protect, as yet have no agency from which to seek redress for discrimination but instead face a bureaucratic vacuum of enforcement.

To borrow a phrase from Congressman Charles Vanik which he used to describe the entire Rehabilitation Act of 1973, it is indeed true that the enforcement mechanism of the civil rights portion of the act is an "orphan of neglect," lost in an immense bureaucratic quagmire. This week the Senate Subcommittee on the Handicapped, of the Senate Committee on Labor and Public Welfare will undertake oversight hearings on the implementation of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. Given the lack of enforcement to date of this act, such hearings are vitally needed, and I believe that there is a similar hearing to be held by the House Select Subcommittee on Education, of the House Education and Labor Committee.

In order for the handicapped to assume productive and meaningful roles in society, it is essential that in addition to provision of services that the barriers of discrimination in employment, architecture, education, and so forth be removed. Section 504 stands as an affirmative step by the Congress to remove these barriers vis-a-vis recipients of Federal financial assistance—the only issue which remains is its enforcement.

Therefore, on this day when we are acting to extend the authorizations for this act, I would like to urge the President to act affirmatively by signing the Executive order which would create a mechanism for enforcement, so as to insure protection of the rights of the millions of Americans involved in programs, institutions, and so forth, receiving Federal financial assistance.

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According to Webster a "voluntary" action is one which "implies freedom and spontaneity of choice or action without external compulsion." NAC and all of its "big brothers and little sisters" would like to have us believe that its strength lies in its integrity and its ability to earn respect through recognition of its standards; not to require it through methods reminiscent of Hitler's Germany or George Orwell's 1984.

This is another case, though, where actions speak louder than words. On February 20, 1976, the American Foundation for the Blind, testifying in public hearings before the Subcommittee on the Handicapped, of the Senate Committee on Labor and Public Welfare, made the formal proposal to require NAC accreditation of all agencies serving the blind. This is perhaps the most ominous power grab ever perpetrated on the blind by AFB, and it is made even more so by the open participation and approval of our company union—the American Council of the Blind.

When NAC opened its doors in 1967, it put out the word to the blind and their agencies that its services were offered to the field as a means of strengthening programs and that all agencies were "invited" to join up on a strictly "voluntary" basis. The key word, of course, was "voluntary" (no requirements, mind you). Alex Handel said it when he spoke to us in Houston at the 1971 Convention. Peter Salmon said it, as he trembled in fear of violence from the blind. Dan Robinson said it in his many letters to President Jernigan, and so did Doug MacFarland when the House and the Senate began to ask him questions. I think I have even heard Bob Barnett allege that accreditation is intended to be a "voluntary process," and without a doubt, Lou Reeves has allowed such a notion to slip through his lips.

From the very beginning, though, it was clear to the blind that, all protestations to the contrary notwithstanding, accreditation by NAC was never truly intended to remain voluntary, even if it started out that way. The signs have always lurked just beneath the surface. They include the heavy investment of money for several years by the Federal Department of Health, Education, and Welfare; and even heavier investment of money and manpower by the American Foundation for the Blind; and the not-very-subtle maneuvering by NAC to convince state agencies to require accreditation of rehabilitation facilities from which they purchase services, California being the most striking example of this unprofessional behavior.

Obviously, one of the hazards facing any voluntary system is that it must be generally respected among those it seeks to attract into its orbit. In this regard NAC has failed and continues to fail. In recent years it has made little headway in gaining accredited members (the lifeblood of any accrediting body), and its forward momentum seems to have ground to a virtual standstill. Probably this is because NAC has spent most of its time, particularly in the last three years, making war on the blind—the very people it purports to serve.

The actual extent to which NAC has failed to function as a meaningful force in work with the blind is revealed by data uncovered during the GAO investigation. According to NAC's own long-range plan as reported by GAO, NAC had expected to accredit an average of twenty-five agencies and schools per year from 1973 to 1977. By 1974 NAC had expected to reach a "critical mass" of one hundred accredited members and a minimum of 165 by 1976. Further, GAO reports that during the SRS team visit in March 1973, NAC told the team that it expected to have accredited two hundred agencies and schools by 1978, thus bringing fifty percent of what it considered to be the total universe of agencies under its wing.

As indicated though, NAC's performance has not even begun to keep pace with its public expectations. In July 1974 NAC was claiming fifty-six accredited members, while today it reports only fifty-eight. This is a mere thirty-five percent of the number it had expected to reach by this point and a paltry 14.5 percent of what it considers its universe. In other words, whatever else is said about NAC, the statistics tell the story, and they reveal an accreditation system in serious trouble.

Thus it is not surprising to witness NAC embarking on the latest of its lifesaving initiatives. Clearly having failed to attract adherents through persuasion, arm twisting, and sometimes worse, NAC now seeks to require accreditation of sheltered workshops and rehabilitation facilities providing services through agreements with state agencies for the blind. Spearheading the drive is none other than the AFB backed by the ACB and the American Coalition of Citizens with Disabilities.

Consider the significance of this new power play. The American Foundation for the Blind (now paying well over fifty percent of NAC's annual cost of operation) proposes to the Congress that accreditation be made a requirement if workshops for the blind are to be eligible for Federal funding. The implications are obvious. The Foundation having a controlling financial interest in NAC proposes to require that agencies wishing to operate in the field must submit to this "voluntary process."

Thus what the blind have said for years is now on the drawingboards, and the grand plan has at last been unveiled by its authors. Under the guise of approving services for the blind, it is proposed that workshops and rehabilitation centers must meet "nationally recognized standards." Never mind the facts of the Kettner case and similar incidents in workshops throughout the land. Never mind the national Study on Sheltered Workshops which reveals that in terms of job placement, the workshops for the blind fall far short of any reasonable standard, having a placement rate of only seven percent annually. And never mind the fact that despite standards, the income of blind workers in workshops for the blind averages a paltry $2,610 annually. The blind are expected somehow to ignore such shortcomings and be content with "accreditation"who cares what their wages or benefits might be.

But we will not be content, and we will not be controlled-our voices will be heard. We, the blind, will expose this latest power play and call upon the Congress and the public to join with us as we continue to struggle against those traditional forces which would seek to dominate our lives. If there was ever any doubt about their intent and purpose, that doubt has now been laid to rest. George Orwell's 1984 is yet eight years away, but in the field of work with the blind, beware, for Big Brother is making an early move.

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Editor's Note.—Mr. Cole is Coordinator of Development Programs, Office of Program Development, Rehabilitation Services Administration. This article is reprinted from an HEW publication.

"Ridiculous!" "Right on!" "What do you mean by that?" "How can they help?" "It’s about time!" "Well, let's think about it." Do you associate any of these reactions with the position you are now taking when innovations for the state-Federal program for vocational rehabilitation are under discussion? The program is being scrutinized, you know. Mostly, perhaps, because it has always held great promise for responding to significant social and personal needs. It is a time-tested system and there is an accountability tract which invites criticism. It's also a program which can survive criticism by offering a reponse and alternatives. That is what this article is all about.

An interesting and remarkably productive group of projects started in June 1974. They are known as Client Assistance Projects. As this name indicates, they are consumer oriented, but they are administered by state vocational rehabilitation agencies. That fact alone could raise a question for some people because a main purpose mentioned in the law creating these projects is to personally help clients who are having difficulties in understanding the service system, and those who are having problems regarding the services which flow through that system. It has been quite a challenge to quickly establish eleven such projects that are geographically dispersed around the country and with each having a flexible methodology. What is most important is that over two thousand handicapped persons have already benefited in tangible ways.

These are pilot projects, first authorized by the U.S. Congress under the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. During debate on the bill in Congress, client assistance projects were considered a controversial program because of their association with the word "advocacy."

Some felt that the traditional vocational rehabilitation program, over fifty years in existence, had deep commitments to the personal welfare of handicapped people and, therefore, needed no other official client advocates "interfering" with the counselor-client relationship.

Others, heeding the public testimony of dissatisfied and frustrated handicapped persons and groups, argued for an experimental program identified with ombudsmen who would use advocacy rather than adversary methods in overcoming problems. Astute foresight was reflected in several stipulations written into the final law with respect to project organization and operation. Let's look at these major constraints and briefly consider the problems which might be evoked:

In the first instance, there have been numerous professional "anxieties" expressed about the potential interference and monitoring by new project personnel who would have very little VR program background. However, the first annual reports just received from the original eleven projects indicate that because considerable time during the first months was used in staff education (in both directions), significant respect, confidence, and in some cases, reliance developed between ombudsmen and agency professional staff. The following quote from one project seems to be representative: "When client assistance was beginning to organize, and they were doing their initial public relations with counselors and supervisors, I was worried that they would be extremely biased in favor of the client. From their statistics and my own personal experience, this was a needless worry. ... In all cases, client assistance can help with client-counselor communications, thus leading to better services for the handicapped."

In the second instance, the lines of authority appear to be direct and workable although exercised differently from project to project. For example, one ombudsman adopted a policy of communicating only with counselors when clients raised a problem, even though there were natural linkages with supervisors regarding system or administrative problems needing attention. This was prompted by a conviction that cooperation and sensitivity was a much better style than behaving as an adversary allied only with clients regarding their complaints.

In all states where there are projects, the top agency administrators have encouraged candor in examining service delivery problems, and they have frequently given public acclaim to project staff who offered constructive suggestions for program changes.

In the third instance, the general attitudes, logic, and sincerity manifested by the ombudsmen have generated counselor interest so that closed cases have been reopened, or additional services have been provided so that new and better rehabilitation outcomes were achieved. Each project reports instances where they have overcome hesitant or negative reception from their counselor peers. In some cases this has called for patience and perseverance.

I have had the privilege of seeing these projects develop and move ahead in sensitive and constructive fashion during their initial year of operation. In a very warm sense, I see the ombudsmen as a "motley crew," with backgrounds such as social worker, former client, businessman, counselor, teacher, minister, and personnel specialist. Some are young, others not so young. There are men and women, and those with various ethnic and cultural styles. In today's jargon, I'd say they are indeed "turned on!"

What are some of the accomplishments demonstrated by these initial eleven projects during about eight months of operation? In general, we can say they are helping individual clients get back into the VR service system and achieve better levels of rehabilitation; they are articulating specific program barriers and causing constructive changes in the system; they are increasing community understanding (and respect) for the traditional VR program; they are raising the consciousness of some VR professionals so that routine services are upgraded; and they are studying their own methods and behavior so that innovative approaches might be analyzed and good features replicated.

Some specific examples of accomplishments can be taken from the first annual reports which are now being reviewed. Here are some:

Each project has a responsibility to evaluate its efforts, and some projects are using rather sophisticated means for looking into clients' needs and outcomes. As these projects mature, it is assumed that other outcomes and judgments will be enunciated.

Does it make sense to have ombudsmen introduced into an already well-established counselor-oriented program? Can professionals who are inexperienced in the vocational rehabilitation system describe and interpret that system to others in correct and meaningful ways? Will clients relate well and accept advisors who "work for" the agency which may have rejected or frustrated them? Will agency administrators welcome and hire a new breed of professionals who are capable of criticizing their own program when necessary?

The answer to each of those questions is "yes, it is happening now in eighteen projects across the country!"

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"Although it is clear that the budget must be cut in order to be balanced, cuts must be made which have the maximum economic impact with the minimum social effect. The cuts scheduled for Wednesday will have just the opposite effect—a tremendous hardship on those who rely upon these services with no or even a negative economic consequence." These were the firm words of New York State Assemblyman Andrew Stein upon learning of cutbacks in personnel scheduled for the New York State Commission for the Visually Handicapped.

In 1974, the New York State Commission for the Visually Handicapped had 187 members statewide. As of January 1, 1976, twenty-two positions were lost to attrition. In addition, at the onset of this year, ten vital staff members of the Commission received notice of termination of their positions. Included in these positions were Counselors, Vending Staff, Small Business Representatives, and Mobilty Specialists.

With elimination of these ten positions. Commission staff would have been reduced to 155 members statewide. We have over 45,000 registered blind in New York State; and this means one Commission staff person to serve three hundred blind persons. By eliminating these ten positions, the State would save $150,000 in salaries and lose over $6 million in Federal funds, since such funds are matched on at least a 20%-State, 80%-Federal basis.

As a direct result of personnel and money cutbacks, inevitably, many blind people will go without services and others will be placed on long waiting lists. At this moment, there are some Commission offices unable to open new cases for lack of proper clerical and professional personnel. In turn, this means that the blind will not receive proper training for employment—employment which would enable a blind person to take his rightful place in the mainstream of life, employment which would enable a blind person to contribute via his skills and payroll taxes to the economy. Without training, the blind will virtually be forced to remain on some form of public assistance.

Certainly, we have had differences with the Commission and have often been at odds with Commission policies and procedures. However, we also realized that our differences would not be solved by either personnel or money cutbacks to the Commission. In fact, such cutbacks would only give the Commission a further excuse for not functioning at a superior level. The cutbacks were to be effective at the end of January and little time remained for us to muster our forces to stop it, but surely we would try.

An Around-the-State memo informed our members of the situation, and immediately letter-writing campaigns began. Many members sent telegrams to the Governor while others endeavored to make personal contacts with their representatives in the State Legislature. Through the able assistance of tile Staff of the Jewish Braille Institute, and under the direction of its Executive Director, Dr. Jacob Freid, a letter was drawn up and sent to every member of the State Legislature to assure that our elected representatives were aware of this crisis and its importance to the blind community.

Rita Chernow, president of the New York State affiliate, and Sterling France, first vice president, paid a visit to the Director of the New York State Commission for the Visually Handicapped, Mr. John Baldwin. Although cordial, Mr. Baldwin indicated that as a public servant, his protests to the cutbacks in the Commission must be made through proper channels. However, he was receptive to actions being taken by the various consumer groups of the blind and felt that positive, direct actions by consumer groups might be just the thing to prevent the cutbacks. While there, Ms. Chernow and Mr. France discussed other issues concerning the blind with Mr. Baldwin, particularly that of consumer participation. On the surface, this visit with Mr. Baldwin may not appear that significant, but combined with our other actions and in view of subsequent events, this meeting may well prove to be a foundation for improved rapport.

The Governor's Office heard from the Federation also, as several of our members were able to make contacts with the Governor's staff. For the most part, the Governor's Office simply tried to explain the economic crisis in the State, but there was no attempt to either deny or ignore the fact that such cutbacks would be of detriment to a segment of the population which without essential services would be at a loss to attain first-class citizenship. The Governor's Office was reminded that it had a responsibility to all the people and that by permitting such cutbacks, it would be falling far short in its obligations to the citizens of the State.

To culminate our efforts, we participated in a press conference with Suzi Spigle, co-chairperson for public relations, representing us. Although various groups and organizations of and for the blind also participated, Ms. Spigle had previously prepared and circulated an NFB press release informing the press that we would be present at the press conference. Once again, Assemblyman Andrew Stein set the pace and tone as he denounced the cutbacks to the New York State Commission for the Visually Handicapped. In the concluding paragraph of Assemblyman Stein's own press release, he states: "Government can no longer afford to respond out of emergency, without forethought, without planning. I do not believe that anyone has carefully considered the social and economic consequences of these proposed cuts. I am confident that these cuts will be restored, either by the Governor or by the Legislature."

And then it happened: the cutbacks were rescindeda small but important victory for the blind of New York State. No doubt there is a real and severe economic crunch in New York State, and no doubt future cutbacks are in the offing. If nothing else, we have learned that by sticking together, working together, and fighting together, we can keep secure programs and services for the blind in our State. We have won a battle in what will be a warbut we have begun.  

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Programs for the blind in Kentucky have been a tangle of custodial attitudes, petty sniping by administrators at staff, and political maneuvering for a long time. Services to the blind, disabled, and others fell victim during the last decade, in Kentucky as elsewhere, to the popular notion that administration would be improved by adding layers of bureaucrats in a large umbrella agency. About two years ago, the blind, as consumers and professionals, began to demand a rightful place in policy-making in order to effect improvements in programs and services.

In Kentucky, the State Superintendent of Public Instruction, under the cabinet Secretary of Arts and Education, sits atop all education and rehabilitation programs. The State Board of Education prescribes rules and regulations which govern services, personnel, and administration on recommendation of the Superintendent of Public Instruction. This empire includes the Bureau of Rehabilitation Services (BRS) of which the Division of Services for the Blind (DSB) is a part; the Kentucky Industries for the Blind, which contains the Rehabilitation Center for the Blind as well as the business enterprise program; and other vocational services.

By 1974 the complaints became so insistent that President Jernigan wrote to Superintendent of Public Instruction Lyman Ginger suggesting that they get together to discuss the matter. Dr. Ginger replied that he would be glad to meet our President at an upcoming Kentucky Federation convention but went on to explain that the problem arose because some blind people were spreading erroneous information with no basis in fact.

By July of 1974, the Kentucky Federation, whose membership includes some staff people of agencies dealing with services, began to raise questions about the effectiveness of rehabilitation and other services and asked that inquiry be made into the practices of the Bureau of Rehabilitation Services. Their own suggestion was that the most positive step toward improvement would be to have all services for the blind under the administration of a commission directly responsible to the Governor. The Superintendent of Public Instruction countermoved. The State Board of Education recommended that services for the blind be moved out of the Bureau of Rehabilitation but remain under the administration of the Department of Education. That recommendation aroused such controversy that the Superintendent of Public Instruction was forced into another familiar maneuver. He side-stepped by calling for a study by an outside management firm, in this case Cresap, McCormick & Paget.

It is difficult for professionals accustomed to controlling their clients to encounter a strong, cohesive, and knowledgeable organization of blind people who have a clear and precise idea about what the goals of programs for the blind should be. When so confronted, the reaction of bureaucrats is frequently to publicly criticize their own personnel, members of the organized blind, and any who might support them, by saying that they are in the first instance not really suited for their positions, and in the second, that the blind generally are misinformed, ignorant of the real situation, and militant to boot.

In any event, the management firm was to do the study and make recommendations to the State Board of Education.

On March 18, 1975, a summary, promising future delivery of the full report, was presented at a meeting of the State Board of Education. The blind were invited and did attend that meeting. Charles Allen, president of our Kentucky affiliate, wrote to Superintendent Ginger on April 7, saying of that meeting: "I appreciate your invitation to attend the . . . meeting at which the . . . summary report was presented. Reflect with me upon the situation. Although a report was presented [whose recommendations if adopted] could affect the lives of the blind all the way to our graves, we had no Braille copies to read and were not allowed to ask questions. I mention this without malice and only that you may understand why there is a Federation.

"I listened to the report with a sense of astonishment. Its conclusions could have been reached without an expensive research team. Although many Federationists recommended a comparison with the Iowa Commission for the Blind, the recommendation was ignored, denying you valuable knowledge concerning services for the blind. I also regret that one of the research team is affiliated with the American Council of the Blind. If organizational affiliation was to be permitted, then why was not the Federation represented? It was actually our understanding that no affiliation was to be permitted at all on the research team. . . ."

The Governor appointed a committee composed of representatives of four government departments to review the report and make recommendations. When Charles Allen brought to the Governor's attention that no one outside the administration was on the committee, he was told that the matter was an internal one. Consequently, if he had objections he should take them up with the proper administrator—Dr. Ginger. Eventually, Mr. Allen was added to the review committee along with some others. That group was to meet for the first time on May 7. 1975.

Meanwhile the preliminary report had been circulated. It brought to the Governor's Office and to Superintendent Ginger a storm of protest for its inaccuracies, reporting based on no real knowledge of operations, and the bias of its conclusions in favor of the current administration. [This should have come as no surprise, since many "consultants" are carefully groomed to do just that.] Protests came from staff as well as others including our various state and national offices.

Fred Gissoni, supervisor of the Rehabilitation Center for the Blind and president of the Kentucky Association of State Workers for the Blind, a chapter in the NFB state affiliate, wrote a lengthy analysis of the preliminary report. He criticized the work of the consultants, set forth his views of the present program, and suggested improvements to cure the shortcomings of both, noting that he and the organized blind had been doing the latter for some time. He seemed almost amused that the researchers should discover that the Bureau of Rehabilitation Services was in bad shape. Since the request of the professionals in the Rehabilitation Center for a greater voice in "establishing, developing, and strengthening operational standards," had been ignored, and since they have no say in budgetary or personnel matters, the present condition might have been expected to result. When the consultants made the discovery that the Kentucky Industries for the Blind and the Kentucky Rehabilitation Center for the Blind, located under one administration "appear to be functionally and administratively incompatible." Mr. Gissoni noted that that information was not exactly new or startling since "the Superintendent of Public Instruction has said it. The Deputy Superintendent has said it. The Department of Education Personnel officer has said it. The chairman of the State Board of Education has said it. I have said it. Now, CMP has said it." And, it might be added, the National Federation of the Blind has been saying it for about four decades.

Discussed at length was the suggestion that the headquarters for the distribution of reading material be moved from one city to another and the adverse affect that action would have upon the blind. Kentucky has had within its services for the blind a Rehabilitation Materials Unit which has provided transcription and brailling services for students and created other aids for blind people when their employment and educational needs called for them. The consultants suggested that the unit be dissolved because it does not "legally" exist though it had received budgeting and personnel assignments for three years. The imbalance of sighted to blind in the proposed Advisory Committee and the proposals for possible administrative changes, their weaknesses and strong points, were evaluated.

The most amazing charge which Mr. Gissoni found in the consultants' report was that "DSB [Division of Services to the Blind] leadership and many staff members are deeply involved in advocacy for the blind. In many instances, they have allowed these concerns to become intermingled with their professional roles as service providers, and in some cases, the advocacy role appears to have taken precedence over the service delivery role. Not only has service delivery to clients been adversely affected by this diversion of staff efforts, but the image of the Division as an impartial agency serving all blind clients has been tarnished. Advocacy activities by DSB staff have favored a particular point of view on service delivery and its organization as espoused by one organized group. Clients and staff not sharing this view report being uncomfortable with the overt biases of DSB service providers."

To this Mr. Gissoni wrote in his critique: "Those present at the State Board meeting on March 18 may recall that the CMP representative said that in some states there was some concern about the participation of those involved in delivery of services for the blind and program administration in national advocacy organizations for the blind. The CMP representative did nothing to substantiate the case that such participation in Kentucky has impeded or is impeding the functioning of the Division. It was a flat statement which he did not support. He might have argued with equal vigor that in some states-Iowa, California, Nebraska, to name three-professional leadership in state services for the blind also plays a prominent role in national leadership in the organized blind movement." Mr. Gissoni notes that he has personal knowledge on this point because those sighted and blind "staff members of the Division of Services for the Blind and the Kentucky Rehabilitation Center for the Blind who belong to any organization of the blind belong to the NFB. One Division staff member is a chapter president; one staff member of the Rehabilitation Center is a chapter president." He finds this attack on the NFB by the CMP who are supposedly an impartial, outside group "an irresponsible utterance. It is not worthy of any management consultant firm."

The charge that the interest in and advocacy of the NFB point of view impedes delivery of services is specious. The NFB has always, on grounds of principle, declared that its efforts are for the benefit of all blind people. To suggest that it could be otherwise is downright silly. The attack on advocacy and the NFB speaks volumes about the caliber and attitudes of this firm which argues for "impartiality." The authors of the report have confused "impartial" with "objective." It would be wrong, it is wrong, and is probably the basic weakness of many state programs for the disabled, that administrators and staff members alike have confused the meaning and application of these words. The NFB would hope that all who work with the blind, especially in the field of rehabilitation, would be very partial, meaning that they would become advocates for the independence of the blind because they believed that the blind could become independent; and that they would be objective enough not to let their personal biases interfere with this "objective" as expressed in the statutes, state and Federal. Impartiality has no place in a rehabilitation program. The staff members who have been crying for years for a voice to aid in improving rehabilitation programs in Kentucky know that behind the "impartiality" suggested by the consultants lurks dislike for disabled people whose lives should be governed only by the able-bodied, and fearful indecision usually covered by paper changes in administration to insure that blind persons stay in the lower echelons of policy-making. The paper changes do look good when the administration appears before legislative bodies looking for additional funds, but they do little for clients. Recent studies by competent management groups have shown the NFB standards in rehabilitation to be correct: Rehabilitation programs are only successful when administration, staff, and strong interest groups join hands in advocacy for blind clients.

The consultants' report presented the Kentucky administration with five organizational alternatives, each of which was to meet the following criteria: improve the delivery of services to the clients; simplify organizational arrangements, if possible; be easily implemented; and be appropriate to the current and future needs and resources of the Commonwealth of Kentucky. [Whether these criteria are appropriate is not now the question; but it should be noted that they are those which the consultants found necessary to fulfill the charge as given to them by the State administrators.] The alternatives were as follows: (1) Continue present arrangements with improvements in administrative operations. When measured against the criteria, the consultants concluded that "it is clearly not adequate for present or future delivery of services." (2) Merge the present Division of Services for the Blind and the Division of Kentucky Industries and the Rehabilitation Center. This they found relatively simple and inexpensive to implement and they thought it would be possible to meet current needs with resources available. (3) Establish a Bureau of Services for the Blind on the same organization level as the Bureau of Rehabilitation Services. It would cost more to implement this arrangement but it would probably result in improved service delivery and meet needs for growth. (4) Integrate services for the blind into the general program of rehabilitation. The consultants found that this proposal met their criteria for improvement of service and organizational coherence. They recognized, however, that it would be vigorously opposed by organized client groups. (5) Create a separate commission for the blind outside the Department of Education. The consultants thought this proposition would meet all criteria except ease of implementation. It would require legislative changes and be costly to set up and, the consultants added, interestly enough, that it would "exceed the requirements and resources of present programs and needs." but did not indicate why or how.

In the end, the consultants recommended two of the above alternatives: the creation of the Bureau of Services for the Blind (number three above), and as second choice, a Division of Services for the Blind (number two above).

Federationists around the State and the country wrote letters expressing concern about what was happening and what might happen to programs for the blind in Kentucky. On May 5, 1975, our Washington Office Chief, James Gashel, addressed the following letter of support to Charles Allen, president of our Kentucky affiliate. Copies went to all State officers, administrators, and board members in the Kentucky Department of Education as well as to the major newspapers in the area. The letter put everyone on notice that the National Federation of the Blind would support only realistic improvements in programs for the blind in that State:

DEAR PRESIDENT ALLEN: As you know, the national office of the Federation has been increasingly concerned at the growing threat to Kentucky's services to the blind-a threat which comes not only from within the Department of Education but from within the very bureau in which the Division of Services for the Blind is located. Last year Dr. Kenneth Jernigan, President of the National Federation of the Blind, wrote a letter to Dr. Lyman Ginger, head of the Department of Education, putting him on notice that the Federation would take vigorous and decisive action if the nationally respected Kentucky programs for the blind were jeopardized. The problem appeared to center around Mr. Coffman, head of the Bureau of Rehabilitation Services, whose personal vindictiveness seemed to have gotten out of hand and spread throughout the Department affecting not only the objectivity of his own judgment but that of other officials of the Department as well-including, perhaps. Dr. Ginger himself.

Late last year the State Department of Education decided to conduct a so-called "study" of the Division of Services for the Blind. The blind of the State objected because it was clear that the "study" was calculated to achieve predetermined results. Indeed, the "study team" contained a well-known member of a small group known as the American Council of the Blind, which is largely composed of dissidents who splintered away from the National Federation of the Blind a number of years ago and who have ever since been hostile to good programs for the blind (including the Kentucky program).

Mr. T. V. Cranmer, the able supervisor of Kentucky's Division of Services for the Blind, is nationally recognized as a leader in the field. The staff and program which he has built arc universally esteemed.

This week the cabinet of the Department of Education, which has been expanded to include representation from the Governor's office and others, will be considering the future of Kentucky's blind citizens. The findings of the cabinet would seem to be a foregone conclusion since they will be based upon the fallacious report of the so-called "study" already referred to. This "study" was built upon data generated for the obvious purpose of discrediting the Division of Services for the Blind and its staff.

I am writing this letter (copies of which are being sent to the press and others) to assure you that there will be full national support for the organized blind of Kentucky and the Division of Services for the Blind to combat the hanky-panky which threatens the future of the blind of the State and their service programs. The response will not be hasty, but it will be certain and measured. It will be appropriate, and it will be sufficient to meet the need. If circumstances demand, it may include legal action, a campaign to inform the public, demonstrations by hundreds of blind people, and similar steps. We simply cannot allow Kentucky's programs for the blind to be subverted because of personal pique, politics, or any other irrelevant consideration. The Governor, the Legislature, and the general public of the State of Kentucky have indicated their intention that the blind of the State be given training and opportunity. That intention must not be thwarted. Let those who think otherwise be warned.

Very truly yours,

Chief, Washington Office.

The administration deemed it advisable to appoint a subcommittee of the group which was to study the CMP report for more detailed scrutiny and to formulate recommendations to be brought to the full committee in early June. Charles Allen was a member of that subcommittee. By June 4 it was clear to him that action was called for. He submitted, on behalf of the organization, an outline for a separate commission on services to the blind as the ideal solution to existing problems. This decision was supported by resolutions within the organized blind community and by a position paper from the Kentucky Association of State Workers for the Blind which pointed out, once again, the fact that most professionals working in services for the blind in Kentucky were isolated from "direct contact with policy-making government leaders and from funding sources by layers of bureaucracy," and were dominated by that bureaucracy.

After months of meetings, research, interviews, and interim reports, the Committee to Review Organizational Patterns for Services for the Blind submitted its own recommendations to Dr. Ginger on August 28, 1976. "It is the unanimous opinion of the committee that both the efficiency and effectiveness of delivery of services will be strengthened and enhanced by restructuring the organizational pattern facilitating delivery of services for the blind as soon as possible. The recommended restructuring, acknowledged to be dependent upon the quality of the personnel performing organizational roles and functions prescribed by the structure, is the result of the committee intent to suggest a structure that would achieve the goals identified. . . . Furthermore, the efficiency and feasibility evaluation process followed by the committee resulted in the following conclusions: (1) Services for the Blind should be provided through a self-contained operation responsible for (a) planning for, delivery of, and evaluation of vocational rehabilitation services; (b) liaison relationships with maintenance and academic service agents: and (c) coordination of advocacy monitoring, and accountability functions between clients, services delivery agents, and the executive and legislative branches of State government."

The plan was presented in full organizational detail complete with flow charts and administrative follow-through. Stimulated by the CMP report and their own study they came to a different structural arrangement than did the consultants. Since it is a consensus work, it has its defects, as all such work must. But it seemed a workable instrument to the committee. The operations were to be run by an Executive Administrator directly responsible to the Superintendent of Public Instruction. The administrator, in turn, was to be guided to some extent by a Citizens Advisory Committee appointed by the Governor to "advise the Executive Administrator on matters of policy, program, and client needs." The Advisory Committee was to be composed of fifteen to thirty Kentuckians, the majority to be blind, representative of some geographic balance, and was to include known leaders of organizations of the blind and representatives of the consumers of rehabilitation services.

In early July the Kentucky Federation, along with other groups, was asked to submit names for the Governor to consider for appointment to the Advisory Committee. The names were sent to Dr. Ginger. However, they did not reach the Governor's desk for two months. The implication was clear. The administration had accepted the committee's recommendation to establish a Bureau for Services to the Blind, the second choice of the consultants, but was not going to wait for the recommendations of the Advisory Committee before appointing personnel. The organized blind became uneasy since they had hoped that Tim Cranmer would be retained as head of rehabilitation services. He was then, as he had been for some time, Director of Rehabilitation Services for the Blind. This possibility now seemed in doubt since blind consumers would have no direct input into the decisions about personnel.

The administration decided to go ahead with the establishment of the Bureau for the Blind. Superintendent Ginger wisely sought advice on the subject from the State's Attorney General. On September 12, 1975, he asked that official the following questions: "May the State Board of Education, upon recommendation of the State Superintendent of Public Instruction, remove the Division of Services for the Blind from the direct administration of the State Rehabilitation Agency and attach it to the Office of the State Superintendent? If not, would there be other legal avenues open to accomplish the purpose and to implement the recommendations made by all of the study committees and approved by the State Board of Education?" To the first question the Attorney General replied that it was not within the powers granted to the Superintendent by the laws. To the second question, the Attorney General replied that "it is clear the Governor must prepare an executive order effecting the intended reorganization and such reorganization would then be subject to legislative confirmation in the 1976 Session of the General Assembly." Superintendent Ginger received like replies when he asked about moving the business enterprise program and the Division of Services for the Blind.

On September 29, 1975, Governor Carroll appointed a twenty-person Advisory Committee for the Division of Services for the Blind, all to serve four-year terms. Seven of the twenty were Federationists, three represented the ACB. On October 6, 1975, Superintendent of Public Instruction Lyman Ginger sent a memorandum to Ben Coffman, Assistant Superintendent of the Bureau of Rehabilitation Services, setting forth the reorganization of the divisions within the Bureau of Rehabilitation Services, in spite of the Attorney General's opinions. There were to be five divisions: rehabilitation services, special programs and training, Eastern Kentucky Rehabilitation Center, special and technical services for the blind, and vocational rehabilitation services for the blind. Under the latter fell the Kentucky Industries for the Blind, the business enterprise program, job development and placement, the adjustment and continuing education center, and client services. It can quickly be seen that it is the last division which houses the core programs and the others are mostly service and supportive groups. Necessary personnel changes were to be effective immediately, employees being informed of their new positions by mail. The memorandum indicated that the Advisory Committee was to be convened as soon as possible—but not early enough to have any input into the personnel changes of which they were notified in that document.

Superintendent Ginger evidently found it necessary to explain the functions of two of the divisions in more detail and issued a further memorandum on October 20. He explained that two of the five divisions had been organized by function in order to provide continuation of services for the blind and expansion of services if and when needed. One of the divisions—Special and Technical Aids for the Blind-was to have Tim Cranmer as its director. The memorandum attempted to make this assignment appear very important and did state the truth when it said that "Mr. Cranmer has received national recognition for his work in this area and it is believed that he can continue to develop programs and provide services on a statewide basis for special and technical aids and assistance." It did not cover the very blatant fact that Mr. Cranmer had been removed from the area of his greater professional competence as Director of Rehabilitation Services for the Blind. That important directorship was given to Charles Cox, and Paul Collins was appointed assistant director. It should be noted that in this document which was to make something of his new position, Mr. Cranmer's name was consistently misspelled.

For his efforts to improve programs for the blind, Fred Gissoni, like Tim Cranmer, was rewarded with what was euphemistically described as a great "adventure" with exciting possibilities in a new office in Louisville as a counselor. His new office was small, contained the minimum of furniture, had bare floors and undraped windows. It had no telephone, typewriter, or other equipment. And his clientele was comprised of one person who lived in a town 112 miles away. Fred Gissoni was unsure about how long his sentence in this professional Siberia would run. But it is the price he paid for being a Federationist. However, he and the others know it was worth the cost.

A resolution was adopted and circulated by the Kentucky Federation on October 31. It was therein noted that the reorganization adversely affected the delivery of rehabilitation services to the blind; that it did not conform to the recommendations of the State Board of Education or those of the Advisory group, that it was in direct conflict with the opinion of the Attorney General, and that it really did not effectively centralize all rehabilitative services.

The changes which occurred after months of meetings and pleadings and work, along with regulations which taxed students for books and supplies and services on a needs basis, brought the Kentucky Federation's students to the picket line in protest. Their fears that the Rehabilitation Materials Unit and other essential services were going to suffer from the reorganization were widely reported in the local press.

The Kentucky Federation determined to move on its own to seek substantive improvements in rehabilitation services. It decided to take legal steps against the reorganization, which seemed unlawful under existing statutes. In addition, it began the long process in the Legislature for legislation to create a commission for the blind. The Kentucky Federation prepared detailed legislation to this end. These actions were given wide circulation. In November 1975, Superintendent Ginger revealed how he really felt about rehabilitation of the blind when he was reported by one newspaper as saying, "This is the bitterest struggle over the least significant issue I've had. The personality conflicts have become irreconcilable. . . . The leadership of the Federation is fewer than ten people." Well, does one expect to have more than ten officers in a state organization, even though it represents over a thousand people? Or course the implication is that it is only those ten people who have objections or who want to see better programs for the blind. As one might expect, the spokesman for the ACB affiliate in Kentucky came out in support of the reorganization and said that the blind personnel involved should have been fired since "All they've been is obstructionists."

The Kentucky Federation of the Blind has members who are not afraid of mounting the barricades or who are inclined to retreat. The bill for a separate agency is in the Kentucky Legislature working its way through the legislative process. It is moving along and has gained support. All have high hopes that we can report successful passage of the legislation soon.

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Albion, Michigan, December 8, 1975.

Winnetka, Illinois.

Thank you very much for your Christmas greeting card. The Hadley School is a fine and thoughtful institution.

In the greeting card, I found an envelope with a request for a financial contribution to the Hadley School. Because Hadley is accredited by the National Accreditation Council for Agencies Serving the Blind and Visually Handicapped (NAC), I cannot in good conscience contribute money.

Hadley is a good school; I have taken courses at Hadley, and I am presently enrolled as a corresponding student. I am appalled to think that a fine school such as Hadley is accredited by such a damning and damaging organization as NAC.

Being blind and having concern for our fellow blind citizens, I cannot allow myself to support NAC or affiliated agencies and schools. NAC, as it is presently structured and operating, hurts the blind. It neither represents the blind, nor do its standards provide for adequate and meaningful services to the blind. Hadley does not need NAC accreditation to continue as one of America's finest schools for the blind.

I, as one among many thousands of blind persons, urge you to disaccredit yourself from NAC. Should you decide to do so, I shall be glad to contribute financial support to the Hadley School. Furthermore, I shall persuade all of my friends and relatives to not contribute to the Hadley School so long as it maintains NAC accreditation.

Your friend,

National Federation of the Blind.

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Editor's Note.—Professor Marsh teaches in the Law School at Indiana University. He represented Miss Garshwiler and the NFB in this case.

The telephone call received by Linda Kay Garshwiler was one which is all too familiar to all blind people. The caller was sorry but he had just discovered that Linda is blind and therefore it would not be necessary for her to come in for her scheduled appointment the next day to interview for a position as a junior high school English teacher. The interview had been scheduled only one hour earlier but the school personnel director had not completely studied Linda's application when he made the first call. When he examined the file more closely, he discovered Linda is blind. It seemed clear to him at the time that a blind person could not teach school.

The experience was a familar one, but this time the outcome was different. Linda Garshwiler was willing to fight for her legal rights, and with the support of Dr. Kenneth Jernigan and the National Federation of the Blind and Marc Maurer, president of the National Federation of the Blind of Indiana, Linda was able to vindicate those legal rights. Today Linda Garshwiler is not sitting at home brooding about the job discrimination she has suffered because of her blindness. She is in the classroom in Justice Junior High School, Marion Community Schools, Marion, Indiana, teaching her seventh- and eighth-grade English classes.

It is not difficult to understand why the personnel director of the Marion Community Schools called Linda Garshwiler initially on August 29, 1975, when a teaching position became vacant a few days before classes were to begin. Linda had graduated from St. Francis College, Fort Wayne, Indiana, the previous June and her resume was one which would catch the eye of any personnel director. Linda had completed the requirements for a bachelor of arts degree in education in the prescribed four years with a cumulative grade-point average of 3.44 on a scale in which 4.0 is perfect. Linda earned this grade-point average by receiving thirty A's, twenty B's, and only two C's in her four years at St. Francis. Linda's college credit included ten weeks of student teaching at Crestview Junior High School, Hunington, Indiana. All persons who evaluated her student teaching gave her the highest possible rating on the evaluation form.

Linda did not earn her outstanding grade-point average because she spent all her time studying. She was active enough in campus activities to earn a listing in "Who's Who in American Colleges and Universities." Her activities included performing in several college theatrical productions.

These outstanding credentials led the personnel director to call Linda for the interview. However, when it was discovered that Linda is blind, that one fact cancelled all her positive accomplishments. Another teacher was given the job. If the National Federation of the Blind had not intervened, it is likely that Linda would never have heard from the Marion Community Schools again.

But the National Federation of the Blind did intervene in Linda's case. On December 10, 1975, the case of Linda Kay Garshwiler and the National Federation of the Blind versus Marion Community Schools. Cause No. F-75-134, was filed in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Indiana in Fort Wayne.

In the case three legal principles were asserted as having been violated by Marion Community Schools in this instance of blatant job discrimination on the basis of blindness.

First, it was alleged that the refusal to interview Linda and the failure to offer her a teaching position was in violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States. The actions of the personnel director had created two classifications of applications-sighted persons and blind persons. The Equal Protection Clause is a limitation on the use of such classifications by state institutions, such as public schools, and the case contended that classifying applicants on the basis of sight was an impermissible classification.

Second, it was alleged that the actions of the personnel director constituted an impermissible irrebuttable presumption. The personnel director had made a presumption, not supported by fact, that a blind person could not be a competent junior high school teacher. The case contended that this irrebuttable presumption was in violation of the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States. This position was based on a decision of the Supreme Court of the United States in which the Court held that a public school could not presume that a pregnant person was incapable of teaching school past the fourth month of pregnancy. [Cleveland Board of Education v. LaFleur, 414 U.S. 632 (1974).] In that case, the Court held that while some teachers in this group may not be physically capable of continuing with their jobs, other teachers would be quite capable. The Court held that the due process clause required a more individualized determination.

We believe this legal theory seems to squarely apply to Linda's case. It is true that some blind person would not be capable school teachers (just as some sighted persons are not competent school teachers) but this does not justify a presumption that no blind person can be an outstanding classroom teacher. The facts are very plainly and simply to the contrary. A more individualized determination is required.

Finally, in addition to these two constitutional theories, it was alleged the actions of the Marion Community Schools were in violation of a Federal statute which prohibits discrimination on the basis of physical handicap by any institution which receives Federal financial assistance. [29 U.S.C. §794.]

Shortly after the case was filed, the Marion Community Schools recognized their legal and moral responsibilities. Linda Garshwiler was offered a full-time teaching position for the second semester of the 1975-76 school year and was given full back pay for the first semester. Linda began her new job as a junior high school English teacher in the Marion Community Schools on February 9, 1976.

It is of course too early to tell whether Linda will be an outstanding school teacher, an average school teacher, or incompetent (I personally happen to believe that she will be outstanding.) But the important thing is that she has won the opportunity to find out. As the first blind school teacher in a public school in Indiana, Linda Garshwiler, with the support of the National Federation of the Blind, has gone a long way toward lowering one more barrier of discrimination against blind people not only in Indiana but throughout the United States.

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J. K. Lasser's Your Income Tax, available to sighted readers for almost forty years at thousands of newsstands, has been made available in Braille on a wide basis this year for the first time, the Library of Congress has announced.

The Braille edition of the popular tax guide, 1976 edition, will be available by February 15 through the regional libraries in all parts of the country that cooperate with the Library in operating the national library network for blind and physically handicapped readers. Braille and recorded books and magazines and playback equipment are produced under contract for the Library's Division for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, which supplies them through cooperating libraries to approximately half a million readers in the Nation.

Produced with the permission of the J. K. Lasser Institute, which prepared the print edition, and Simon and Schuster, publishers, the Braille guide was embossed for the Library by the American Printing House for the Blind in Louisville, Kentucky. The Braille edition consists of thirty embossed pamphlets, one for each major section of the single-volume. 316-page paperback guide.

Other Braille tax aids available for blind readers from regional libraries are selected 1975 tax forms and instructions supplied by the Internal Revenue Service.

Blind readers interested in using Your Income Tax in Braille should request it by number (BR No. 2824) from the network library that regularly sends them Braille books and magazines. Those readers who do not know the name of the regional library designated to serve them should write or call the nearest public library or write to Division for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. 20542.  

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Boston, February 19, 1976

The history of mankind is the story of the triumph of reason over superstition, of knowledge over belief, of fact over prejudice; and the progress of mankind is but the result of that triumph. In every area of human endeavor advancement has come only with the crumbling of the barriers of ignorance. It has been so with science, with religion, with industrial technology, and with human relations: and it is still so today. The struggle for enlightenment and justice has been and is the great issue of the age.

The civil rights movement, which grew in the 1950's and reached its peak in the mid-1960's, and the women's rights movement, which began in earnest somewhat later and is only now reaching maximum crescendo, have popularized the term "discrimination" and focused national attention on human problems long ignored. The historians will note that this was indeed an era of social change, represented by the crumbling of traditional stereotypes and myths and characterized by much less rigid customs and expanding social roles.

Without question these forces of social change at work in our society have impacted on the lives of each and every citizen—rich or poor, black or white, male or female, young or old. If they have accomplished nothing else, they have at least helped us to be more receptive to new concepts and more suspicious of old notions. It is upon this mind-set, this willingness to explore in a quest to discover unknown truths that we place our belief in the future.

I suppose that it is only human for each of us to feel that our particular situation is unique and that our problems are not generally understood by the rest of society. Recognizing this, therefore, I hope you will pardon me when I observe that probably no group has been more victimized by myths and misconceptions than has that group which society generally refers to as '"the handicapped."

Since I am blind and since I represent the National Federation of the Blind (a national membership organization of the blind, created, directed, and controlled by the blind themselves) much of what I am about to say will be drawn from the field of blindness, but I think the arguments to be advanced have a much broader application.

To begin with, I contend that the real problem facing the blind today is not blindness, and in a broader sense, the real difficulty which the disabled confront is not their disability. This is a simple enough thing to say, but how can it be so?

Some insight can be gained by a brief look into our past. The heritage of the blind and the disabled is indeed revealing. In ancient times disease and disability were commonly ascribed to possession of the body by evil spirits, and those stricken were often thought to have given up their souls. The impaired or the seriously ill were in some groups considered to have lost their status in the community and could be destroyed with a clear conscience.

Even in the golden age of classical Greece the disabled fared little better. Both Plato and Aristotle approved the casting out of impaired children. Among the Spartans they were left to die in mountain gorges, and in Athens the condemned infants were deposited in clay vessels and abandoned by the roadside.

In ancient Rome the citizens openly sanctioned the practice of drowning defective children and baskets for this purpose were sold in the marketplace. If by accident blind Roman children survived into adulthood, they could expect to be sold into bondage—girls as prostitutes and boys as galley oarsmen.

It is further reported that in 1771 at the annual fair of St. Ovid, in Paris, an innkeeper had a group of blind men attired in a ridiculous manner, decorated with peacock tails, asses' ears, and pasteboard spectacles without glasses, in which condition they gave a burlesque concert for the profit of their employer. This sad scene was repeated day after day and greeted with loud laughter by the gaping crowds.

While we have obviously advanced far beyond such unhappy characterizations, our progress is definitely not in the truest sense complete. We are today still victims of yesterday.

For example, review with me the dictionary definition of blindness. In addition to sightless, Webster notes other common uses for the term: "Blind - lacking discernment; unable or unwilling to understand or judge; made without reason or discrimination, as, blind choice; apart from intelligent direction or control, as blind chance; insensible, as, a blind stupor, hence drunk."

Virtually all of the connotations of the word "blind," in short, are those of inferiority, incompetence, and even downright stupidity. Since language habits carry revealing associations of unconscious attitudes and values, it is of no little significance that society continues to speak of an unreasoning choice as a "blind choice," and of an insensible stupor as a "blind stupor."

Of course if this were merely a problem of semantics, we could leave it with the linguists and the lexicographers, but such is unhappily not the case. The barrier is more than one of language and it extends from the far reaches of our distant heritage into the present age of enlightenment and scientific advancement. Do I exaggerate? I think not. Perhaps a case study will prove the point.

Several years ago when I served as president of our student division, I witnessed a graphic illustration of the attitudinal barriers at work. The case involved a young undergraduate who had applied to Stanford University to do graduate research in the field of history. His name was Frank Graff. His grades were good, and he clearly had the intellectual capacity necessary for a rigorous academic program.

According to Stanford, however, such credentials were not sufficient not sufficient, that is, if the applicant is blind. The rejection letter which Graff received is a classic. It reads:

"DEAR MR. GRAFF: I am sorry to have to tell you that the Department of History has recommended that you be denied admission to Stanford University for graduate work. I think that I can best indicate the department's reason by quoting directly from the note on the report. 'Mr. Graff is a young man of superior courage and quite possibly superior intellect as well. But blindness in a research historian is virtually an insuperable handicap.'

“The basic problem, of course, is that work on the graduate level involves scanning thousands of pages of material during research work, whereas that at the undergraduate level is more nearly confined to a reasonably manageable body of standard histories and monographs. Your experience as a student in undergraduate history courses is not an accurate indication of the kind of problems that you will face as a graduate student.

"I can assure you that the committee in the History Department took full account of your statement, including your explanation of how you intend to surmount your difficulties. I am very sorry indeed to disappoint you after what is undoubtedly a gallant achievement on your part, but those involved felt that in this case the kindest path was to prevent frustrations before they occurred, and I myself concur in their views.

"Sincerely yours,"

How is one to respond to such arrogance? Blindness in a research historian is considered an insuperable handicap. Note the artificial barriers. The basic problem, says the dean, is that the blind cannot scan vast bodies of printed material, and the assumption obviously is that the sighted can. Never mind the fact that there are thousands of blind persons already competing successfully in the various research professions; this evidence is somehow conveniently ignored.

Beyond that, note the presumption of "superior courage"—this is a common barrier erected in the path of the disabled. The prevalent thinking seems to be that persons with disabilities (while able to perform certain routine and repetitive tasks) are definitely not able to compete with others when it comes to more complex and normal work activities. Hence, ordinary accomplishments—such as graduating from high school or earning reasonably high marks—are met with exclamations of praise and talk of "gallant achievements."

The blind, for example, are often considered marvelous by the sighted when they perform successfully such superhuman miracles as crossing a relatively quiet city street. This thinking imposes on the disabled an unimaginable handicap. If, for example, a prospective employer is overwhelmed when a blind applicant arrives at the scheduled interview at the right place and on time, and if he begins the discussion by expressing his amazement in great gushes of passionate praise, the blind applicant might just as well dismiss the session as a learning experience because there will likely not be an offer of a job. Consider, if the employer seriously questions the blind person's ability even to get to the job site, he will most certainly have more serious doubts about the actual performance of the work involved.

With this in mind, Professor Jacobus tenBroek (in his own time, himself a scholar in constitutional law and legal history and coincidentally the principal founder of the National Federation of the Blind) replied to Stanford University on Graff’s behalf. His letter reads in part:

"Graff got in touch with me because though I am blind, I have been in the academic world for thirty years. He has consulted me about the problems of a blind person seeking to enter and to make his way in that profession. I have advised him that there is no reason why he can't do the work, including work in history.

"Working with the use of readers undoubtedly presents some problems not experienced by an academician working with the use of his own eyes. The point you particularly mention—the ability to scan—is in some cases a good one. Lots of my seeing friends in the profession, however, can't scan either and proceed very much at a pace that I achieve. Indeed, by necessity the plodder may do more careful work.

"In terms of production, I have been able to hold my own with most of my colleagues, having authored or co-authored four books and roughly fifty articles in the journals. Most of these have been in constitutional law and legal history. Nor do I reply solely on my own experience. There are literally dozens of blind persons teaching and researching in the colleges and universities of this country. I am personally acquainted with a good number of them. Some of them are productive: others not so much so, as in the case of our seeing colleagues. Productivity and competence to do research and writing are not, I am firmly convinced, functions of visual acuity but of mental perceptiveness and habits of labor.

"I know nothing about the extent to which Frank Graff possesses these latter qualities. Indeed, I would not only be content that you should apply your usual standards, but would insist that you do so. Exclusion on grounds of blindness alone, however, is by everything that I know about blind people and about myself altogether unwarranted-if you will permit me to say so."

Professor tenBroek's response lays bare the actual issue. The question is not whether the blind can scan (or for that matter, whether anybody else, blind or sighted, can scan). The question more legitimately is, can we do the work, and the only way to answer it is to offer the opportunity to try.

What Professor tenBroek is arguing is that the Stanford deans have imposed a requirement on the blind which is not imposed on others. Indeed, in the academic world this is a common barrier which arises. When considering the credentials of an applicant who is blind or those of a person with some other disability, the admissions officers undoubtedly reflect on their own methods and attempt to place themselves in the position of the prospective candidate. This, of course, is unreasonable since these officials seldom, if ever, have any background in the alternative techniques which might be available to the disabled to perform fully the duties of the work involved. The result is the unconscious imposition of a double standard. This done, the only action which seems rational is to reject the application. In fact, according to Stanford, this act of rejection was not only rational; it was morally right, or as they put it, "the kindest path."

Unfortunately, the decision in this case was neither rationally sound nor morally justified. Even so, one does not often like to admit the error of his ways, and those who inhabit the academic world are no exception to this general human characteristic. Thus the dean of the Department of History at Stanford replied to Professor tenBroek. In his letter he argued that Graff's rejection had turned on a number of considerations, only one of which was Graff's handicap. On that score, though, the dean stood firm. Here is what he said:

"We do believe . . . that an inability to glance through bodies of material is a substantial disadvantage to a man working in history and that it is more of a disadvantage in history than it would be in other academic fields. In some ways Mr. tenBroek's own achievements, which we recognize and salute, are a proof of his own personal indomitability and in no sense a reason for discounting the importance of the handicap."

I would observe that the plot indeed thickens. In the first instance the blind were required to scan substantial bodies of printed material while their sighted colleagues were only expected to do the work, no mention of methodology attached. Now we are required not only to scan printed matter, but also to be "personally indomitable," and do I have to point out that personal indomitability is not a condition imposed on our seeing colleagues? The barriers are truly not physical, but they are substantial.

The Stanford response also contains another argument commonly used to support the traditional attitudinal barriers. The contention is that any particular field (whichever one is being discussed) is more impractical for the disabled than most others. Using this line of argument the potential employer or the admissions officer can tell the disabled candidate to go elsewhere and feel that he has done the poor soul a favor. Of course, what he fails to account for is the virtual inevitability that somewhere there is someone competently performing the task he thought impossible, and thereby proving his apprehensions to be groundless.

These are the thoughts which Professor tenBroek carried in his mind as he responded to Stanford in a final letter. In part this is what he said:

"Professor Van Slyke argues that inability to scan bodies of material is a substantial disadvantage in history, and that it is more of a disadvantage in that field than in others. I concede the first point, but doubt the second. Vast bodies of material must be covered in all the social sciences. In law, the reading is particularly heavy. Even though one is not doing legal research, the practitioner, the professor, and the judge all must keep abreast of the work of innumerable courts, and success in any given lawsuit may well depend upon research competence. Yet there are somehwere between one and two hundred blind persons practicing law in the United States-at least a dozen judges from trial, courts to the Supreme Court and a handful or more teachers and scholars. So even though we should admit the disadvantage of inability to scan, it does not follow that this is such a disadvantage as should or does rule blind persons out of the research professions.

"What is even more critical in my point of view than the fact that the department decision rests on preconceptions about blindness rather than on actual knowledge, is the fact that a test is applied to Graff which is not applied to other applicants. The History Department, I am sure, does not examine students in terms of their ability to scan before it admits them. To my certain knowledge there are lots of professors in the social sciences on the Berkeley campus who have a very poor ability to scan, and some of these are in our History Department. The same surely must be true of graduate students here and elsewhere.

"If in a meeting of a department in the social sciences or in history, a faculty member should propose to establish a scanning test for all graduate student admissions, I think I would be opposed to it on general grounds. The question really isn't can a student scan; it is can he do the work, and this is dominantly a question of intellectual capacity. If he actually produces, who cares what his methods are. But in the absence of a department's adopting any such test to be applied to all students, there can be no justification whatsoever for applying it to particular students, and especially for selecting the students to whom it is to be applied on the basis of general misimpressions about the nature of blindness and its limitations.

"I am flattered by Professor Van Slyke's characterization of me as personally indomitable. This is a mode of argument which has always plagued the task of opening employment opportunities for blind people. First, the prospective employer says that it may be possible for blind persons to work in somebody else's field, but not in mine. Then he explains away the successful blind people in his field by pointing to their unusual qualities. As a matter of fact, as I have pointed out before, blind people have succeeded and do succeed as teachers and scholars in history and other social sciences, in law, and in many more fabulous fields. A blind person of my acquaintance, over the disbelief and resistance of the faculty, took a Ph. D. in chemistry and is now a research chemist. Another blind person of my acquaintance did the same in nuclear physics. The argument is always the same: it may be that they can succeed somewhere else. What is overlooked in using the argument about exceptional blind persons is the number of them there are and the variety of fields in which they have succeeded. But, in addition, if the successful blind are to be explained away in terms of their particular qualities, would it not make sense for the prospective employer to test for those qualities in the newly appearing blind persons? For example, does the Stanford History Department have any reason to suppose that Frank Graff is not 'personally indomitable?' . . ."

As a postscript, I should say that Frank Graff was accepted for graduate work in history at another prominent university, and so far as I know, he has made his way in his chosen career. The issues, though, in this case study are much more general than the personal advancement of one blind student. On trial at Stanford were the blind and in a broader sense anyone not possessing the physical characteristics arbitrarily considered requisite to success in typical academic pursuits. Among other lessons contained therein, the Stanford experience validates the theory that truly the handicap of blindness lies not so much in the physical fact as in the misconceptions of sighted people about it and the exclusionary actions which they take on the basis of those misconceptions. Does a blind person really have any ability? Usually the presumption of society is that he does not, that his disability drives out all ability, that blindness is not only inconveniencing but incapacitating. This time-honored presumption, to be sure, flies in the face of all forms of evidence available. It contradicts the record of experience, defies logic, and ignores the findings of science, both natural and social, and all too frequently, it prevails.

Here is yet another example. On October 16, 1975, an undergraduate blind student majoring in the biological sciences wrote to the Director, Program in Physical Therapy, California State University at San Francisco. His letter was brief and to the point, setting forth academic qualifications and incidentally mentioning his blindness.

Back came the answer, and here it is:

"DEAR MR. MITCHELL: Thank you for your correspondence of October 16, and your interest in this physical therapy program.

"I do not know what you have been told regarding this program; however, I would not encourage your continued interest in this particular program. This is an intensive 'crash'-type program which requires a heavy amount of reading and the rapid assimilation of concepts. Certainly, your aims for your baccalaureate degree are sound and would be good preparation for physical therapy education. However, I cannot urge you too strongly to investigate the other programs within the State such as at California State University at Northridge and Fresno. These programs are much less intense and demanding by virtue of their consuming more time in the delivery of their programs. The equipment utilized in physical therapy and in this program is not modified for the necessary assistance to a blind student. I am sure you would find the unusually fast pace of this program and the adjustments necessary to be quite demoralizing.

"If you wish to see me personally, I will be happy to discuss the conditions with you. But at this point in your studies and with time to redirect to a less demanding program, I think your time would be better spent investigating the possibilities within the programs mentioned above.

"Sincerely yours,"

Once again the traditional stereotypes are operative. "While the blind can probably compete somewhere else, our program is altogether too demanding for them." "The pace is too fast here." "Concepts must be assimilated rapidly." "The reading is too heavy, and our equipment is not modified."

Plainly the barrier is up on the campus and written across it are the words of rejection and disbelief. In this instance, with no information to go on other than the knowledge that the student is, in fact, blind, the judgment has been handed down, a decision rendered, and the blind as a class have been found guilty, tried in absentia.

This has often been characterized as an age of progress and enlightenment, but of the many superstitions and misconceptions which have barred the way to progress, perhaps none have been more firmly entrenched or have more stubbornly resisted the light of reason than traditional concepts about blindness. These two case studies reveal that the blind have been considered a group apart, a helpless and hopeless lot. They have been relegated to positions of social isolation, subjected to legal discriminations, and denied that most fundamental right of all men, the right to work for their daily bread and to earn their self-respect. In the best Christian tradition, they have been entitled to the protection of society but not to participation in it. They have been expected to submit cheerfully, even gratefully, to the patronizing custody of a system which, while giving them charity out of kindness, has robbed them of the opportunity to exercise their individual talents and capacities. They have been thought of not as unemployed but as unemployable.

These are the time-honored notions, the traditional concepts, but even the most respectable of fallacies cannot withstand truth forever. The barriers have at last begun to crumble, and we are beginning to emerge from our long subjugation. In this effort we believe that the scientific community in America can and will play an important and leading role. Without question it has often been the scientists both natural and social who have led in the advancement of new ideas, and often they have done so at their own peril. In the sixteenth century narrow-minded religious leaders persecuted Gallileo for his new theories of the universe. In the twentieth century we, the blind and physically disabled, are calling upon the scientific community to join with us in the cause of abandoning superstitution and prejudice and replacing them with the truly rational concepts of equality and opportunity. Let the word go out from this day forward that a new era has been reached in the affairs of mankind-an era in which men will be judged not on their disabilities hut on their abilities, for this is truly the scientific spirit.  

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The fourth annual convention of the National Federation of the Blind of Mississippi was held at the Downtowner Motel in Jackson, on January 24, 1976. The registration was the largest in our history. Eighteen visitors from Alabama led by their president, Euclid Raines, and three from Louisiana helped to overrun our facilities.

The morning session was filled with general business matters including the first installment of the report from the National Office by John Taylor, and the election of officers. Officers elected were: E. U. Parker, president; Melba Barlow, first vice president; Albert Beasley, second vice president; Gordon Goss, secretary; John Holley, treasurer; and Hugh Barlow and Robert Bates, directors. Clifton Boyd and Robert Everett are the other two members of the board.

The first afternoon session consisted of reports from our agencies: Robert Sibley, Executive Director of Mississippi Industries for the Blind; Ted Campbell, Librarian, Library Commission, Services for the Handicapped; Jim Carballo, Director of the Vocational Rehabilitation Agency; R. C. Benton, Superintendent of the Mississippi School for the Blind; and a letter was read from Herman White of the Special Education Division of the Department of Education.

Mr. Benton introduced Miss Trudie Vickers, a counselor in the preschool counseling program who described the work being done with blind preschool children throughout the State within the past two years. The program should be a valuable new link in the education of blind children and their families. An important feature of the program is that parents of blind children are given from three to ten days training per year on the special problems of rearing and teaching a blind child.

The Superintendent also introduced Mr. John O'Callaghan, the first full-time director of the Campus Life Program. Since Mississippi School for the Blind is a residential school, a long-time problem has been how to best utilize the student's time outside school hours. Mr. O'Callaghan's report centered on the organized activities such as sports, recreation, religious emphasis classes, dancing classes, and so forth. The convention was pleased to hear that competition in wrestling and track was with both blind and regular school teams.

The highlight of the second afternoon session was a panel moderated by Max Cole, Commissioner, State Department of Public Welfare. Members of the panel were: C. W. Pressley, Martha Douglas, Carolyn Peets, and Lorraine Williams. These four people are the first permanent blind employees of the State office. They described the process of applying for jobs, the training necessary to fill each of their positions, what each does, and the minor mechanical modifications made in equipment. These four jobs were made available as a result of a cooperative effort by the National Federation of the Blind of Mississippi and the Welfare Department. All four were employed by the State office in 1975. Mrs. Douglas works as a telephone receptionist for Social Services. The other three are employed in the word-processing center. It is important to note that the International Business Machines Corporation (IBM) furnishes an instruction manual written by a blind employee and has available advisory services especially designed for blind persons who operate their equipment. As a matter of fact IBM sent this blind employee to Jackson for two days to assist in the training, and have this service available to anyone using their equipment at no cost. Another interesting note is that IBM referred one of the blind applicants. Mr. Cole reports that all of these employees scored in the top five of more than 150 taking the competitive examination for each job; and according to a recent evaluation, all were ranked at the top in work accomplishment. He predicts that, as a result of the good performance of these employees, more blind persons will be employed and promotions are in their futures. We might add that under Commissioner Cole, the Public Welfare Department has had an outstanding record of improved efficiency-but that is another story.

At the banquet Commissioner Cole was presented the First Annual Employers Award by President Parker. The plaque had mounted on it a hand-carved horse by Tommy Johnson, one of our totally blind and loyal members.

The NFB of Mississippi banquet has outgrown the present facilities of the Downtowner Motel. An enthusiastic crowd greeted the presentation of the award to Mr. Cole and the short address by Mr. Mike Crestman, who represented the Governor's Office. The Finch Administration continues to show the interest in the National Federation shown by former Governor Waller. Mr. Crestman assured us of the interest of Governor Finch and the future cooperation of his administration.

The convention was concluded with an excellent address by John Taylor, Assistant Director in charge of Field Services of the Iowa Commission. Mr. Taylor was head of the organizing team which launched the National Federation of the Blind of Mississippi on January 15, 1972. Earlier in the day he had made two reports on the activities of the national organization.

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Editor 's Note.—Pat Maurer needs no introduction to Federationists.



1 package white cake mix
4 eggs
2 tablespoons flour
½ cup water
¾ cup oil
1 package strawberry jello (small)
1 ten-ounce package of frozen strawberries (thawed)


Combine the cake mix, eggs, flour, water, and jello and beat for two minutes. Add one half of the strawberries. Beat for another minute. Add the oil and beat for one minute more. Bake in a jelly-roll-type pan (13"xl5") for 35 to 40 minutes at 350 degrees.

Frosting.—Combine the following ingredients and frost the cake:

½ cup margarine
3 cups powdered sugar
remaining strawberries and juice
½ teaspoon vanilla extract

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We lose a Federationist. Wayne E. Bonnell was a quiet, personally private, and reserved man. His political outlook was conservative and his belief in the American way of life ran deep. It had been good to him and he supported it fully. Wayne Bonnell was a veteran of World War 1, a member of the Fort Dodge American Legion Post, a full participant in many phases and groups of the Masons, and took a lively interest in the Boy Scouts. He owned and operated a successful business.

Mr. Bonnell is probably best known to most Federationists, however, as the husband of Nell Bonnell, one of the three members of the outstanding Iowa Commission for the Blind. With his wife, Mr. Bonnell participated in NFB programs, including state and national conventions where many Federationists across the country came to know and respect them both. The NFB of Iowa gave him its highest tribute, the Altig Award, in 1974, for his many services to the blind of that State.

Probably no one was more surprised than Wayne Bonnell to find him on the barricades in Chicago in 1973, carrying a picket sign condemning NAC. One can be sure that he did so out of conviction that the cause was just, for he was not one to take such unconventional behavior lightly.

With his death in January of 1976, his family and the Federation suffered a grievous loss. We can do him no greater honor than to follow his example and proclaim our belief, as he did, by personal effort in support of the National Federation of the Blind.

The basic premium paid for supplemental medical insurance under Part B of Medicare will increase from $6.70 a month to $7.20 for the twelve-month period beginning next July. About 24.4 million persons will be covered by Part B in the fiscal year beginning July 1, including 2.2 million disabled persons under age sixty-five. The Secretary of HEW is required by law to review in December the cost of the supplementary medical insurance program and to set a premium rate which, together with the Federal contribution, is estimated to be sufficient to cover all expenditures that will be incurred in the twelve months beginning next July 1. The law also requires that any increase in the premium amount next July 1 be limited to the percentage by which Social Security benefits increased in 1975. If there were not an eight percent limit on the premium increase, rising medical costs would require an actuarially sound premium of $10.70 a month.

Laurie Beach, secretary and public relations chairperson, NFB of Lincoln, Nebraska, reports on a "Mini Seminar With Maxi Results." It was an effort to strengthen Federationism in all of Nebraska, and to bring about better communication between the State's chapters. President Jernigan's speech "Why I Am a Federationist" set the tone. A good deal of time was devoted to NAC-tracking. Small group discussions on legislation and membership were held in the afternoon. More than $1,338 was raised for funding on the State level. It was, indeed, a "mini seminar with maxi results."

Stan Beauregard, vice president of the NFB of Vermont, reminds us that Town Meeting Day is just about the oldest of all Vermont traditions and now that it is at hand, the NFB is making certain that blind voters will not be deprived of their rights in '76. It has asked the Secretary of State to insure that local voting officials understand that a blind voter has the right to have a person of his choice assist him in the voting booth. The only restriction is that the person selected must be a legal resident of the city or town wherein the blind voter is registered. This request to the Secretary of State follows reports that the 1959 law was being ignored in many places. The Secretary's Office will issue the needed clarification. 

Mrs. Carole Jones, 1722 Waltham Avenue, Cincinnati, Ohio 45239 states that the Alumni Association of the Kentucky School for the Blind wishes to contact all former students of the school. Please write to Mrs. Jones, giving your name, address (with ZIP code), and phone number.

Senator Jennings Randolph has introduced S. 1607 to authorize the employment by Federal agencies of reading assistants for blind employees and interpreters for deaf employees.

A Superior Court Judge in Alameda County, California has ruled that homeowners who are recipients of benefits under the SSI program have been illegally denied the State's Homeowner's Property Tax Exemption. The exemption saves the average homeowner in Alameda County three hundred dollars on his annual property tax bill. The class action suit was brought in behalf of a blind couple. The decision is expected to be appealed by the State authorities. If the ruling withstands attack on appeal, it is expected to affect some 100,000 home-owning recipients of SSI throughout the State.

Science for the Blind Products, 221 Rock Hill Road, Bala Cynwyd, Pennsylvania 19004 has just issued its recorded "sound-sheet" catalog—Aud-a-log—which is available free of charge to anyone who requests it. It is not only a sales catalog but a useful explanatory tool to those persons who are interested in the capabilities and sounds of its technical devices.

Bernard Krebs, Director of the Braille Library of the Jewish Guild for the Blind, and the founder of what is now the National Braille Association, is retiring from the Guild after more than forty years on its staff. He has been a pivotal factor in expanding the availability of both literary and informational materials in Braille. He is the author of the "Transcriber's Guide to English Braille," used by all Braille transcribing volunteers in the United States and Canada. It is the successor to his first book, published in 1941, which for the first time systematized Braille as it is known in this country and Canada.

On December 13, 1975, Mrs. Linda Lopez de Miller wrote the following to the headquarters of Greyhound Bus Lines: "On Monday morning, November 17, 1975, I went aboard the 1:20 a.m. run from Memphis, Tennessee, to Detroit. Michigan. As I was about to sit down in the front seat across from the driver, I was informed that I could not sit there because it was against Greyhound's regulations. The driver said that it was against regulations for handicapped people to sit in the front seats of the bus. I have been travelling on Greyhound buses ever since I can remember, and even though I am totally blind, I have never been refused the right and privilege of sitting on a seat of my choice. Personally, I did not appreciate being treated like a child." On December 19, 1975, Mrs. Miller received the following reply from Greyhound headquarters: "In reply to your letter of December 13, I am pleased to inform you Greyhound has no regulation restricting handicapped persons to any particular seating area on our buses. As you may be aware, Mrs. Miller, smoking aboard Greyhound coaches must be confined to the seating area specially designated for this purpose. Unless you choose to smoke while travelling with us, you certainly have every right to occupy any vacant seat of your choice. Our policy will be reviewed with the driver referred to in your letter. Please accept my apology for any inconvenience caused you in the recent incident in Memphis."

The NFB of Indiana reports that it had a most successful convention last October. The National Office was represented by First Vice President Donald Capps. The group heard addresses by a number of State officials and discussed with them the problems of the blind. It was at this convention that the affiliate changed its name to the National Federation of the Blind of Indiana. Officers elected were: president, Marc Maurer; vice president, Jim Lewis; secretary, Joe Money; associate secretary, Jean Wagner; treasurer, Ethel Lawson.

Good news from the State of New Jersey. A new chapter of the New Jersey Council of the Blind has been formed—the United Blind Federation of New Jersey. Officers of the new affiliate are Robert McLain, president; Barry Wood, vice president; Sharon Kelly, recording secretary; Judith DePaul, corresponding secretary; and Richard Conti, treasurer. Members of the executive board are Michael Moran, Ralph Wise, Richard Beckum, and Fernando-Silva.

The Braille Institute of America library has kindly made available the following books in Braille and cassette for those planning to attend the NFB Convention in July. These books give a broader view in some areas about the history and places of interest in Los Angeles and environs. They may be obtained by writing to: Library, Braille Institute of America, 741 North Vermont Avenue, Los Angeles, California 90029. The hooks available are:

(1) Los Angeles From Mission to Modern City, by Remi Nadeau. 9 cassettes. (This is not available in Braille at the present time.)

(2) TWA's Getaway Guide to Los Angeles, by Stanley Haggart. 9 cassettes and also in Braille—6 volumes.

(3) Where to Find It in Los Angeles; A Shopping Guide, by Beulah Roth. 5 cassettes. (Not available in Braille at the present time.)

(4) El Pueblo Grande; A Non-Fiction Book About Los Angeles, by John D. Weaver. (Available in Braille only at the present time—3 volumes.)

(5) Feet First: City side and Countryside Walking Tours in Los Angeles, by Robin Tucker. 2 cassettes. (Not available in Braille at the present time.)

(6) Explorer's Guide to the West: Cities, includes Los Angeles, San Diego, and San Francisco, by Gousha Publishing Company. (Available in Braille only—2 volumes.)

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