[Nfbc-info] Fw: The Braille Monitor, December 2008

Bruce Sexton Jr. bjsexton at comcast.net
Sat Mar 21 20:54:23 UTC 2009

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Brian Buhrow" <buhrow at lothlorien.nfbcal.org>
To: "Multiple recipients of list" <brl-monitor at nfbcal.org>
Sent: Wednesday, December 03, 2008 3:34 PM
Subject: The Braille Monitor, December 2008

> Vol. 51, No. 11  December 2008
>      Barbara Pierce, editor
>      Published in inkprint, in Braille, and on cassette by
>      Marc Maurer, president
>      National Office
>      1800 Johnson Street
>      Baltimore, Maryland 21230
>      telephone: (410) 659-9314
>      email address: nfb at nfb.org
>      Website address: http://www.nfb.org
>      NFBnet.org: http://www.nfbnet.org
>      NFB-NEWSLINE® information: (866) 504-7300
>      Letters to the president, address changes,
>      subscription requests, and orders for NFB literature
>      should be sent to the National Office.
>      Articles for the Monitor and letters to the editor may also
>      be sent to the National Office or may be emailed to bpierce at nfb.org.
> Monitor subscriptions cost the  Federation  about  twenty-five  dollars 
> per
> year. Members are invited,  and  nonmembers  are  requested,  to  cover 
> the
> subscription cost. Donations should be made payable to  National 
> Federation
> of the Blind and sent to:
>      National Federation of the Blind
>      1800 Johnson Street
>      Baltimore, Maryland 21230-4998
> ISSN 0006-8829
>            © 2008 by the National Federation of the Blind
> Vol. 51, No. 11                                          December 2008
>      Contents
> Convention Bulletin 2009
> Of Disrepute and Dysfunction at the Eye Dog Foundation for the Blind
> by Daniel B. Frye
> NFB Protests Opening of Blindness in 37 States
> by Barbara Pierce
> A False Image of Blindness
> by James Fetter
> Are Protesters of Blindness Missing the Point?
> by Rene Harrell
> International Travel Still No Picnic for the Blind
> Blind Aide Raises the Bar of Expectations
> by Jordy Yager
> Important Notice About Target Settlement
> Distinguished Educator of Blind
> Children Award for 2009
> by Joyce Scanlan
> The 2009 Blind Educator of the Year Award
> by David Ticchi
> Social Security, SSI, and Medicare Facts for 2009
> by James McCarthy
> Recipes
> Monitor Miniatures
> [LEAD PHOTO/CAPTION: The Jernigan Institute Members Hall decorated for the
> holidays]
> [PHOTO/CAPTION: The Detroit Marriott Hotel at the Renaissance Center]
>                          Convention Bulletin 2009
>                                 **********
>      It is time to begin planning for the 2009 convention of the National
> Federation of the Blind taking place at the Detroit Marriott, Renaissance
> Center. It has been many years since we made a significant change in our
> schedule, but we are doing so this year. Please pay close attention to the
> dates and schedule so that you are not taken by surprise.
>      Once again our hotel rates are the envy of all. For the 2009
> convention they are singles and doubles, $62; for triples, $66, and for
> quads, $68. In addition to the room rates there will be a tax, which at
> present is 15 percent. No charge will be made for children under eighteen
> in the room with parents as long as no extra bed is requested. Please note
> that the hotel is a no-smoking facility.
>      For 2009 convention room reservations you should write directly to
> the Detroit Marriott Renaissance Center, 100 Renaissance Center, Detroit,
> Michigan 48243, or call (313) 568-8000. The hotel will want a deposit of
> $60 or a credit card number. If you use a credit card, the deposit will be
> charged against your card immediately, just as would be the case with a 
> $60
> check. If a reservation is cancelled before June 1, 2009, $30 of the $60
> deposit will be returned. Otherwise refunds will not be made.
>      Guest-room amenities include cable television, coffee pot, iron and
> ironing board, hair dryer, and high-speed Internet access-this last for a
> fee. Wireless access is available in the lobby.
>      The Marriott Renaissance Center has several restaurants: Forty-Two
> Degrees North (open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner), Starbucks, Musashi
> by BarOne (open for lunch), and Volt (open for lunch and dinner). In
> addition Coach Insignia is an elegant restaurant at the top of the tower,
> and on the Promenade level guests will find a food court. The hotel also
> has a fitness center and day spa.
>      The 2009 convention of the National Federation of the Blind will be a
> truly exciting and memorable event, with an unparalleled program and
> rededication to the goals and work of our movement. Make plans now to be a
> part of it. The schedule this year is a full day shorter than we are
> accustomed to. Preconvention seminars for parents of blind children and
> other groups and set-up of the exhibit hall will take place on Friday, 
> July
> 3, and adjournment will be Wednesday, July 8, following the banquet.
> Convention registration and registration packet pick-up for those who
> registered online will begin on Saturday, July 4, and both Saturday and
> Sunday will be filled with meetings of divisions and committees, including
> the Sunday morning annual meeting, open to all, of the board of directors
> of the National Federation of the Blind.
>      Immediately following the Motor City March for Independence-the Walk
> for Opportunity, the general convention sessions will begin on Monday, 
> July
> 6, and continue through the banquet on Wednesday, July 8. Note that
> Tuesday, July 7, will include both morning and afternoon convention
> sessions. Thursday, July 9 will be available for tours for those who enjoy
> getting to know something about our convention city. To assure yourself a
> room in the headquarters hotel at convention rates, you must make
> reservations early. The hotel will be ready to take your call or deal with
> your written request by January 1.
>      Remember that as usual we need door prizes from state affiliates,
> local chapters, and individuals. Once again prizes should be small in size
> but large in value. Cash, of course, is always appropriate and welcome. As
> a general rule we ask that prizes of all kinds have a value of at least 
> $25
> and not include alcohol. Drawings will occur steadily throughout the
> convention sessions, and you can anticipate a grand prize of truly
> impressive proportions to be drawn at the banquet. You may bring door
> prizes with you or send them ahead of time (identifying the item and donor
> and listing the value in print and Braille) to Mary Wurtzel, 1212 N. 
> Foster
> Avenue, Lansing, Michigan 48912, (517) 485-0326.
>      The best collection of exhibits featuring new technology; meetings of
> our special interest groups, committees, and divisions; the opportunity 
> for
> tours; the most stimulating and provocative
> program items of any meeting of the blind in the world; the chance to 
> renew
> friendships in our Federation family; and the unparalleled opportunity to
> be where the real action is and where decisions are being made--all of
> these mean you will not want to miss being a part of the 2009 national
> convention. We'll see you in Detroit in 2009.
>                                ------------
> [PHOTO/CAPTION: Pictured here are the attractive but unoccupied grounds of
> the Eye Dog Foundation for the Blind training campus in south Phoenix. 
> This
> photograph was taken from just outside the property.]
> [PHOTO/CAPTION: Visitors are urged to blow their horns for assistance when
> they arrive at the locked gates of the Eye Dog Foundation campus.]
>    Of Disrepute and Dysfunction at the Eye Dog Foundation for the Blind
>                              by Daniel B. Frye
>                                 **********
> What would cause a committed core of volunteer puppy raisers working for
> the Eye Dog Foundation for the Blind (EDF), a guide dog training school
> based in Bakersfield, California, with training operations in Phoenix,
> Arizona, to engage in a collective act of civil disobedience, declining to
> return their animals for further training by the school? What 
> extraordinary
> circumstances would cause these volunteers to fear for their lives and
> livelihoods and the safety of the puppies in their charge? Why would over
> 50 percent of the board of directors and three successive directors of
> training and their support teams terminate their association with this
> organization during the last two years? What administrative problems could
> cause potential students to wait over a year for an application for
> services, to be denied timely assistance managing their dogs' serious
> medical problems, or to be denied the opportunity to purchase something as
> simple as a replacement leash for a working EDF service animal? How is it
> that a multi-million-dollar foundation that appeals to the general public
> for funds to train guide dogs for the blind has not graduated a single
> human-dog team during the last year? And what reputable organization would
> be so insular in its operations that contact information for its governing
> body is not available on request and most communications from the school's
> own puppy-raising community, donors, and the media are fielded by legal
> counsel instead of by the executive director?
> The answers to these and other disturbing questions may be partially found
> in the long and sordid story of the Eye Dog Foundation's history and
> operations. Concerned members of the EDF volunteer puppy-raising community
> initially contacted the Braille Monitor about this story. After examining
> the facts, we concluded that the blind community, program volunteers,
> donors, and appropriate oversight authorities across America deserve to
> know about both the troubles and triumphs at EDF. In this way the
> interested parties may become aware of the school's past and make informed
> decisions about their association with it in the future. The details are
> complicated, but here is what we know.
>      According to Joey Etienne, the court-appointed EDF receiver for much
> of 2007, the Eye Dog Foundation for the Blind, Incorporated, was founded 
> by
> Lequita McKay in 1952 to breed and train guide dogs for the blind. McKay
> was apparently one of the earliest female attorneys licensed in California
> to specialize in high-profile wills, trusts, and estates. She apparently
> merged her passion for training guide dogs with her law practice,
> persuading many of her clients over twenty years or more to donate to or
> make generous bequests to EDF.
>      By the middle to late 1960s, the EDF had amassed enough money to
> start training and placing guide dogs with blind handlers. Etienne said
> that, at some stage in the latter 1960s, McKay "somehow got crossways" 
> with
> the California Board of Guide Dogs for the Blind (the board), the only
> governmental entity in the United States of its kind responsible for
> licensing guide dog trainers and regulating guide dog schools operating in
> the state. It is generally agreed that a settlement was reached between
> McKay's Eye Dog Foundation and the board in about 1967 in which the board
> relinquished regulatory jurisdiction over EDF in exchange for McKay's
> commitment not to raise funds for EDF in California and to train guide 
> dogs
> outside the state. The school's corporate status and headquarters, 
> however,
> were permitted to remain registered in California.
>      The EDF's work appears to have continued without public incident for
> the next thirty-seven years or so. We talked with several current EDF
> consumers, and, while Patricia Kepler and Petra Janes are presently
> disappointed with various aspects of recent interactions with school
> personnel, both report being generally satisfied with the quality of the
> guide dogs they have received over the years.
>       During this extended period of peace, a number of cultural patterns
> of EDF's governance and day-to-day management emerged that foreshadowed
> trouble and perhaps even enabled some of the more overt instances of
> chicanery that have occurred in recent years. From 1967 through 1988, when
> the EDF purchased its training campus in south Phoenix, Arizona, the 
> school
> remained a small concern compared to major guide dog schools elsewhere in
> the country. In 1988 EDF abandoned its practice of providing in-home
> training for a few students, and started offering a more conventional
> course of study to guide dog classes at its newly acquired property in
> Phoenix.
>      According to Patrick Frase, EDF assistant executive director for
> about two years before affairs at EDF began to unravel in 2006, the
> school's small size and low public profile gave McKay an inordinate amount
> of control. Frase explained that McKay manipulated the composition of the
> EDF board so that it consisted of longtime friends and members of her
> family. He reported that customary and transparent business practices such
> as preparing annual reports and maintaining consistent meeting minutes did
> not regularly occur. Frase confirmed that, with the approval of her board,
> McKay sat on the EDF board while drawing an annual salary of between
> $86,000 and $89,000 as the organization's executive director.
>      Frase said he believes McKay may have used EDF for "suspicious if not
> illegal personal tax advantages," and he reported that "red flags" were
> raised for him when he saw how much money was spent, considering the small
> number of dogs trained and graduated during his tenure. The Braille 
> Monitor
> has also learned from Wendy Wonderley, a former EDF board member who
> ultimately resigned as a casualty of the organizational uproar soon to be
> described, that under McKay's leadership, retiring employees of the school
> (namely McKay herself; Ruby Bell, McKay's sister; and Lucille Gibbons, a
> longtime McKay friend until the 2006 split) were entitled to receive
> generous fringe benefits, including proceeds from a "profit-sharing
> account," comprehensive medical coverage, and a lump sum bonus equivalent
> to one half of their annual salaries. Wonderley commented that this was an
> irresponsible fiscal policy for an organization the size of Eye Dog
> Foundation (presently valued at somewhere between $7 and $10 million) to
> adopt.
>      Despite these allegations of wrong-doing and corruption, Frase
> emphasized that he believes that McKay genuinely wanted to be of help to
> blind people through the training of high-quality guide dogs, and he
> believes that it was her positive motivation that allowed her to function
> unscathed and unmasked at EDF during her fifty-five-year association with
> the school. Mr. Frase's employment with EDF was ultimately terminated
> because of his irreconcilable differences with McKay. Wendy Wonderley
> confirmed, in terms more vague than those of Mr. Frase, her feeling that
> McKay exercised an unusual degree of control over EDF, but she too 
> believes
> that McKay was sincerely committed to the mission of the school. Wonderley
> put it succinctly when she said, "Lequita was a benign dictator."
>      McKay's reign at Eye Dog Foundation seems to have come to an
> unceremonious end during the autumn of 2006. According to Wendy Wonderley,
> a series of rapid-fire EDF board transactions and legal skirmishes in the
> Kern County Superior Court between the two factions of the school's board
> of directors over the next twelve months resulted in Gwen Brown's wresting
> control of the EDF board and the organization's executive directorship 
> from
> McKay and those loyal to her. Since the division on the EDF board and the
> ensuing struggle for power were the genesis of the most recent round of
> troubles, we will provide a brief chronology of events from September 2006
> through September 2007.
>      The following timeline has been provided largely by Wendy Wonderley,
> but important dates have been confirmed by Joey Etienne and supporting
> court documents. We also contacted Gwen Brown by telephone, but she
> declined to be interviewed. Instead she wanted to talk only about who
> prompted our decision to report this story before abruptly terminating the
> telephone conversation. We repeatedly requested in writing an interview
> with Ms. Brown through her legal counsel in California and Arizona. On
> October 27 H. Steven Schiffres of Rosoff, Schiffres, and Barta, general
> California counsel for the EDF, responded to an October 20 Braille Monitor
> request for an interview, which listed potential interview topics with
> Brown but did not ask specific questions or present evidence for comment 
> as
> would have been the case in an actual written interview. In his letter Mr.
> Schiffres refused the interview and made few substantive statements, 
> noting
> that the Braille Monitor's October 20 inquiry did not offer details and
> documentary evidence inviting a thorough response. Since our letter had
> been only an invitation for an interview and not a written set of
> interrogatories, his statement was technically correct. Nevertheless, his
> statements will be included in this article when they are responsive to
> claims critical of EDF and Brown. Finally, a statement from John D. Clark
> Jr., EDF's legal counsel in Arizona, was submitted to the Braille Monitor
> for publication. Apparently Clark has been employed to represent EDF only
> in its effort to recover the dogs currently being housed by EDF volunteer
> puppy raisers. Clark's statement is printed in full elsewhere in this
> article.
>      On September 23, 2006, both Gwen Brown, now executive director and
> chairperson of the EDF board, and Wendy Wonderley were named to the EDF
> board. Michael Hannon is a member of that board and an attorney licensed 
> in
> California. Several sources report that Hannon is Brown's spouse and
> Wonderley said that Hannon nominated Brown to the school's board. 
> According
> to Wonderley, Brown received the support of all EDF board members except
> McKay, who reportedly warned her colleagues that Brown's appointment would
> be disastrous for EDF. Wonderley said that in retrospect she regrets her
> support of Brown's nomination to the board.
>      Wonderley said that on October 8, 2006, Brown called an emergency
> board meeting. It is undisputed that at this meeting McKay resigned as EDF
> executive director, but the parties differ about whether McKay's
> resignation of her paid position included resignation from the school's
> board.
>      According to Schiffres's October 27 letter, the Brown faction of the
> EDF board (Gwen Brown, Michael Hannon, and Lucille Gibbons) believed that
> McKay resigned from both the executive directorship and her board 
> position;
> the McKay faction (Lequita McKay, Wendy Wonderley, and Louis Harris)
> understood McKay to have resigned only her position as executive director,
> while retaining her voting seat on the board.
>      On October 21, 2006, the EDF board held another meeting, in which
> four new board members were nominated, but none were elected because the
> board was deadlocked. Squabbling continued about whether McKay had the
> right to exercise her vote as an EDF board member.
>      Wonderley reports that the McKay faction then filed a lawsuit against
> EDF and the members of the Brown faction over whether McKay continued to
> hold a seat on the EDF board, since a three-to-three split prevented
> governance of the organization. Wonderley said that the McKay faction 
> asked
> the judge to dissolve the Foundation and to transfer its assets to Guiding
> Eyes for the Blind in New York.
>      On November 17, 2006, yet another EDF board meeting was convened, but
> Ms. Wonderley said that she was not given notice of this gathering. She
> says that, to support her and to deny the Brown faction a quorum, McKay 
> and
> Harris refused to attend this meeting. Wonderley said that during this
> meeting she was voted off the board and that Brown was confirmed as EDF's
> executive director. Naturally the McKay faction dismissed the actions of
> the November 17 board meeting as illegal since a quorum was not present.
> The McKay faction tried to overturn the decisions ratified at the November
> 17 meeting in their lawsuit.
>      On December 21, 2006, the McKay faction of the EDF board filed an ex
> parte application for appointment of receivership to neutralize the Brown
> faction, who were making day-to-day decisions about the operation of the
> school. A hearing before Judge Louis P. Etcheverry of the Kern County
> Superior Court was scheduled for January 31, 2007. According to Wonderley,
> failure of legal counsel for the Brown faction to file responses caused 
> the
> hearing to be continued to February 8.
>      On February 8 Judge Etcheverry issued an Order for Appointment of
> Receiver and Preliminary Injunction in favor of the requests that the 
> McKay
> faction had made to the court. In summary Judge Etcheverry ruled that
> McKay's retirement as executive director did not operate to remove her 
> from
> the EDF board. The judge also confirmed the composition of the EDF board,
> which included Wonderley as a board member, repudiating the EDF board's
> actions of November 17, 2006. Finally, Judge Etcheverry placed EDF in the
> hands of a receiver to evaluate what was needed to make the organization
> functional.
>      On February 21, 2007, Judge Etcheverry signed the official order
> appointing Joey Etienne as EDF receiver. Wonderley reports that on the 
> same
> day Brown attempted to convene another EDF board meeting at which she
> asserted her entitlement to a salary as executive director. Wonderley says
> that she was again not given notice of this meeting. Receiver Etienne
> confirms that he had to suspend Brown's EDF salary during the
> organization's receivership.
>      Etienne submitted his recommendations to the court on the future of
> EDF on May 8, 2007. He recommended that the organization headquartered in
> California be dissolved and that its assets be transferred to the Eye Dog
> Foundation of Arizona created by McKay to manage some minor school 
> matters,
> which for all practical purposes existed on paper and had performed few
> actual services. Because of the deadlocked board Etienne suggested that a
> diverse group of Arizona advisors work with a nonprofit manager to create 
> a
> new board and establish a reconstituted foundation within the existing
> framework of the articles of incorporation and bylaws of the Eye Dog
> Foundation of Arizona. Finally, he recommended that he oversee the EDF
> dissolution until a smooth transition to the Eye Dog Foundation of Arizona
> could be achieved.
>      On May 16, 2007, Judge Etcheverry entered a default judgment in favor
> of the McKay faction of the EDF board. On June 11 the receiver's report 
> was
> accepted, but for reasons that remain unclear the case was transferred to
> Judge Palmer of the Kern County Superior Court. Taking the opportunity to
> persuade a different judge before Judge Etcheverry's default judgment was
> officially registered, counsel for the Brown faction successfully argued
> before Judge Palmer on July 11, 2007, to have the original default 
> judgment
> set aside. Several days later, on July 20, McKay unexpectedly died.
>      Following McKay's death, the substantive grounds for the original
> lawsuit no longer existed, so the impasse on the EDF board was broken. In
> view of these developments, Judge Palmer directed the parties to settle at
> a hearing on August 16. The court directed that the settlement should
> relieve the receiver of his duties at a hearing on September 6 and that
> control of the foundation should be passed back to the school's board. The
> board was directed to replace McKay on the board in accordance with EDF's
> bylaws.
>      It appears that an unusual set of circumstances conspired to snatch a
> legal victory on the merits of the case from the McKay faction of the EDF
> board. Wonderley reports that the Brown faction quickly capitalized on
> these developments and scheduled a board meeting for September 25. A 
> quorum
> was present. The EDF board moved to reinstate Brown as the school's
> executive director, affirming its confidence in her by ratifying all the
> actions she had tried to take during the past year. Jerome Washington and
> Christopher Uboma, candidates supportive of Brown, were elected to the
> board. Persuaded that she could no longer provide accountable oversight 
> for
> EDF and not wanting to be responsible for future decisions taken by the
> Brown-dominated board, Wonderley tendered her resignation at the 
> conclusion
> of the September 25 meeting.
>      In reviewing Brown's performance as EDF's executive director, we have
> learned that three successive directors of training and most of their
> support staff have left the school since September 2007. Manny Gonzales,
> EDF director of training from February 11, 2006 to September 5, 2007, said
> that he left a job and program he loved because of the micromanaging
> harassment he received at Brown's hands. Specifically he said, "Gwen was
> disrespectful of staff. She made unfounded and outlandish accusations
> towards us. She was ignorant when it came to knowledge of guide dog
> practices. She had no experience in assessing the O&M skills of blind
> people, but she'd regularly presume to intercept and divert applications
> from students. You couldn't reason with her; you couldn't talk to her."
> Gonzales is a certified guide dog trainer through the state of California,
> and he has a degree from New Zealand's Massey University in orientation 
> and
> mobility. Without exception, everybody with whom we spoke for this story
> praised Gonzales's competence as a guide dog trainer. In concluding his
> interview with us, Gonzales said, "Any self-respecting guide dog trainer
> with any sense would now not remain at Eye Dog Foundation. What's 
> happening
> under Gwen Brown's leadership is a shame." Patti Savage, a respected puppy
> coordinator with EDF from September 2004 through November 2006, grew weary
> of working for Brown almost ten months before Gonzales decided to leave.
> Among Savage's grievances against Brown were allegations that the acting
> executive director interfered with her professional judgment to take dogs
> in her care for special medical treatment and that staff were regularly
> required to dip into their own pockets for operating cash because Brown
> would not provide the needed funds.
>      During the almost four months following Gonzales's departure, EDF had
> no director of training, certified or otherwise. In the weeks after his
> departure, Barbara Kuhns, EDF office administrator hired in July 2007 by
> the receiver, and Paula Brown, EDF puppy coordinator, both left their jobs
> and temporarily shut the Phoenix facility down. Kuhns said, "For the last
> month of our employment, Paula and I would leave work together for fear of
> our safety. Gwen was intimidating and created a threatening environment.
> She regularly would tell Manny that she had somebody watching him."
> According to Kuhns, both she and Savage left EDF still owed some back pay.
> Representatives from the EDF volunteer puppy-raiser community told the
> Braille Monitor that during this period they received little to no
> communication from Brown about what was happening and that all puppy 
> raiser
> classes were suspended without notice.
>      Bryan Young was hired to replace Gonzales as director of training on
> December 15, 2007. While not certified as a guide dog trainer by
> California, Young brought considerable experience, having worked for EDF
> for several years in the middle 90s and with several other schools,
> including Leader Dogs in Rochester Hills, Michigan.
>      Young reported that problems existed for him and the school from the
> beginning of his EDF employment. He said that his pay was often late,
> sometimes issued on personal EDF checks and occasionally on more
> conventional payroll checks. He also reported irregularities with the
> deduction of state and Social Security taxes from his pay. Finally, Young
> says that he has still not been paid for almost two weeks of work 
> following
> his abrupt decision to resign on July 4, 2008.
>      Above and beyond these issues, Young told us that Brown tried to
> micromanage the school, second guessing and failing to act on his
> recommendations to release animals not suitable as guide dogs and refusing
> to forward student applications to him when advised that dogs were almost
> ready for placement. Additionally, Young said that Brown created
> operational difficulties and safety hazards at the school when she took
> actions, including canceling dog food deliveries to the campus and
> terminating the school's cell phone services, which jeopardized the over-
> heating alarm systems in the vans used to transport dogs for off-campus
> training. Young explained that he ultimately spent his personal funds to
> purchase food for the animals in his care. Both Young and Kuhns told us
> that bills from many creditors were paid late or not at all.
>      Counsel for Brown and EDF counter that significant administrative
> disruptions occurred because of a delay in moving accounts back to the
> control of EDF from the receiver, which may have resulted in some bills
> being paid late. EDF counsel states that all creditors have been made 
> whole
> at this stage or that payments have intentionally not been honored for
> cause, including breach of contract or nonperformance. Young says that he
> is continuing to try to resolve his pay dispute with EDF, and Wonderley
> says that EDF officials are declining to pay McKay's estate her retirement
> entitlement.
>      According to Young, as executive director Brown cultivated a terrible
> and intimidating relationship with the staff. He said that Brown called
> Michelle Tenny, puppy raiser coordinator under his charge, at all hours of
> the night to let her know "just how replaceable" she was. Finally he
> reported that at one stage during his seven-month employment he was
> approached by a representative of a company who told him that Brown had
> hired his firm to install surveillance equipment on campus. According to
> Young, the company representative ultimately said that ethically he
> couldn't be part of this bizarre assignment and left the property without
> finishing the job.
>      According to Young, in April 2008 Executive Director Brown hired Doug
> Hunter as Young's supervisor. This relationship was short-lived, though,
> because Hunter remained on staff for less than ten days. Young said that
> Hunter told him, while being driven to the airport, that he didn't know if
> he'd ever come back and that he couldn't get a commitment in writing from
> Brown about the terms of his employment.
>      Young and Tenny both abruptly resigned their positions with EDF on
> Friday, July 4, 2008, when, as Young tells it, Brown was unresponsive to
> his repeated requests for authorization to have an EDF dog receive
> emergency medical care, which ultimately required surgery. Exasperated and
> bewildered by the oppressive and hostile environment that Brown created,
> Young said that he and Tenny "had simply put up with enough." In preparing
> to close the Phoenix property for the second time in less than a year in
> the absence of staff to operate it, Young told the Braille Monitor that he
> contacted the volunteer puppy raisers whose dogs were in the school's
> kennel to come and collect the animals for safe keeping until new staff
> could be identified.
>      In early August Brown hired Dexter Morin as EDF director of training.
> Since Morin resigned his position on October 5, just as this story was
> coming to our attention, we did not have an opportunity to interview him.
>      According to DaCoda Whittemore, EDF assistant guide dog trainer and
> facilities manager from August 12 to August 26, 2008, and several of the
> school's volunteer puppy raisers, Morin, in his early twenties, was
> recruited from Noah's Assistance Dogs in Crete, Nebraska, where he had
> helped to train perhaps a handful of dogs. Ruth Dutton, an EDF volunteer
> puppy trainer, told us that she had been in contact with Morin's former
> supervisor, Mike Renner, after being alarmed at Morin's lack of 
> experience,
> and was advised that he was dedicated to the profession but was by no 
> means
> ready to assume the responsibilities of a lead guide dog trainer. Mike
> Renner, director of Noah's Assistance Dogs, told the Braille Monitor that
> in fact Morin was associated with his program briefly through the
> AmeriCorps Program, but, when funding for this position was terminated, 
> Mr.
> Morin continued with the school as a volunteer. Mr. Renner confirmed that
> "it would be quite a stretch" to expect Morin to function as director of
> training for any reputable guide dog training facility. Denise Warner was
> hired as Morin's puppy coordinator, and she remains employed at EDF at 
> this
> writing.
>      Whittemore's description of her brief tenure at EDF mirrors the
> pattern of discontent and concern expressed by Gonzales and Young. 
> "Despite
> having eight years of experience in the field of animal behavior science,
> it became apparent that I was not going to be allowed to do anything. I
> would fax ideas for on-campus improvements, but my communications were
> ignored. I was told that I could not discuss anything about internal
> operations at Eye Dog Foundation with anybody. I saw no generation or
> meaningful preparation of working dogs at all while I was at Eye Dog
> Foundation. I would caution those in the public about contributing to this
> school without finding out what their money is really being used for. I
> decided to leave this part-time job and pay full-time attention to my own
> business."
>      In response to the concerns of the volunteer puppy-raiser community
> and others about the organization's ability to retain qualified staff,
> counsel for EDF concede in their letter of October 27, 2008, that 
> retaining
> professional personnel is a difficult task. They further acknowledge that
> "some turnover" in staff has occurred during the past year, but counsel
> contends that the EDF board strive to identify qualified staff and that
> currently no key positions are not staffed by competent individuals. This
> claim is hard to accept since the only staff present at the Phoenix
> property when we tried to tour the facility on Thursday, October 16, 2008,
> was Denise Warner, puppy coordinator formerly under Morin, and a man 
> called
> Rick, who described himself as a grounds caretaker without any 
> professional
> background with service animals. We are unclear whether Warner's role has
> changed since Morin's departure; she did claim to be qualified to train
> guide dogs during the brief over-the-fence conversation we had with her.
> Despite the invitation on the EDF Website to visit the campus, the staff
> refused us admittance to the Phoenix property for a tour and instead
> referred us to Brown in California to arrange any future visits.
> [PHOTO/CAPTION: Puppy raiser Wallace Swerkes and his dog Kaiser]
> [PHOTO/CAPTION: Puppy raiser Alice Wies and Litta]
>      EDF has a devoted and passionate volunteer puppy-raiser community of
> almost fifty people (spouses and family members included) working with
> between twenty-four and twenty-nine dogs, who could potentially be trained
> as guide dogs at the school. A puppy raiser agrees to raise a puppy for a
> guide dog training facility for the first eighteen to twenty-four months 
> of
> its life, working on socializing and other basic skills before returning 
> it
> to the school for formal training. Those who undertake this investment of
> time, love, and money are special and committed people who genuinely care
> about animals and are dedicated to having their dogs matched with a blind
> dog handler.
>      In investigating this story, we met with puppy raisers of at least
> eleven EDF dogs. All of these puppy raisers expressed an abiding desire to
> raise their dogs to fulfill their mission as guides for blind people.
> Despite (or perhaps because of) this common commitment, all eleven sets of
> puppy raisers are resolved not to return their assigned animals to EDF
> while they believe the school is unable to train adequately or care safely
> for the dogs. Each of these puppy raisers has a compelling personal story
> of deceit or promises broken by the EDF administration, but the bottom 
> line
> for each is that each is unwilling to jeopardize his or her investment of
> time, energy, love, and money by returning a dog to what they believe is 
> an
> unsafe and unproductive situation. If circumstances were better at Eye Dog
> Foundation or if alternative arrangements for the welfare and training of
> the animals could be arranged, each puppy raiser told us that he or she
> would gladly relinquish the animal for an objective evaluation and 
> possible
> successful training as a guide dog.
> [PHOTO/CAPTION: Former EDF office administrator and volunteer puppy 
> raiser,
> Barbara Kuhns]
>      Anna Thomasson, Diana Anderson, Gail Stouthamer, and Barbara Kuhns
> have voluntarily assumed leadership on behalf of almost all the EDF puppy
> raisers. They told the Braille Monitor that EDF puppy raisers were left to
> manage the training of their dogs on their own for the almost four-month
> period between the resignation of Gonzales and the hiring of Young in late
> 2007. They report that the administration gave them no notice of this 
> staff
> transition nor any direction about how they were to care for and train
> their animals in the interim. Despite being alarmed by this development,
> they all agreed to resume the bimonthly puppy raiser classes with Young
> once he started working for EDF.
>      In addition to the extended interruption in support from EDF during
> the autumn of 2007, puppy raisers identified other general concerns during
> 2008, including frustration that trainer recommendations for release of
> dogs deemed unsuitable to guide were not honored expeditiously, worries
> that the school was not placing ready dogs with blind candidates, doubts
> about the school's ability to care for its animals safely, anger that EDF
> stopped providing regular heartworm and tick medications for the animals,
> reservations about the low morale and stress of EDF training staff as a
> result of their work environment, and annoyance at Executive Director
> Brown's refusal to communicate regularly with them about their grievances.
>      Following a January 2008 meeting in which Brown did come to Phoenix
> to meet with the closely bonded community of EDF puppy raisers, she has
> been unwilling to meet with them again, despite written requests that she
> do so.
>      After Young resigned as director of training in July 2008 and Brown
> hired the unqualified Morin to take charge of the program, most of the
> puppy raisers decided to stop attending puppy training classes because the
> classes would not be effective and could be harmful to the animals. Even
> so, puppy raisers continued to request a meeting with Brown to address the
> deteriorating safety and training at the school. They say that their
> requests were met with silence.
>      In early October John Clark, an Arizona attorney that Brown hired to
> secure the return of the EDF dogs, started issuing demand letters to most
> members of the school's puppy-raiser community, threatening legal action 
> if
> the dogs were not returned in five days. Barbara Kuhns points out that the
> capacity of the EDF kennels is about twenty, so, if everybody complied 
> with
> the request, the school would be unable to care for all of the dogs. At or
> about the same time, Morin resigned his position as EDF director of
> training, leaving only Denise Warner on campus to care for the dogs. In 
> his
> October 5 letter of resignation, Morin advised Brown that he was turning
> over the remaining dogs (there were only two or three on campus at the
> time) to the puppy raisers since Denise was not at the campus when he
> decided to leave. Despite Morin's explanation of this action (an action
> that previous trainers had taken when they terminated their EDF
> employment), Thomasson and Anderson told us that Brown filed a police
> report alleging that the dogs had been stolen from the property. Following
> is the text of the demand letter that Clark sent to Anna Thomasson on
> behalf of EDF. Since most of the letters were similar, we print this one
> mostly to show the tone that the EDF adopted toward its volunteers. In
> response we print a representative reply to a similar demand letter from
> puppy raiser Gillian Roberts addressed to the EDF's executive director,
> which clearly articulates the primary points that all of the puppy raisers
> are making:
>                                 **********
> Anna Thomasson
> Re: The Eye Dog Foundation Puppy Named Nisha
> Dear Ms. Thomasson:
>      I represent the Eye Dog Foundation (the "Foundation"). Pursuant to
> the Puppy Raiser Agreement dated January 20, 2007, you were to provide
> foster care for Nisha. A copy of the Agreement is enclosed.
>      The Agreement clearly provides that Nisha is the property of the
> Foundation. Further, in signing this bailment agreement, you undertook
> certain obligations with respect to the puppy and the Foundation. I
> understand that you have breached at least two parts of this Agreement. 
> You
> have not followed the instructions of the staff, and you have not attended
> all the Training Classes.
>      DEMAND IS HEREBY MADE that you immediately return Nisha to the
> Foundation at its office at 8252 South 15th Avenue, Phoenix, AZ 85041. If
> you cannot provide transportation for Nisha, call Dexter Morin or Denise
> Warner at (602) 276-0051 to arrange transportation.
>      Please be aware that you have a fiduciary duty to the Foundation.
> Breach of that duty, such as by attempting to convert the dog to your
> ownership or as conspiring with others to deprive the Foundation of its
> property, could subject you to legal liability.
>      You are also directed to return any of the Foundation's equipment
> that you borrowed. Nisha and the equipment must be returned within, at the
> most, five (5) days from the date of this letter to avoid any further
> proceedings.
>      If you have any questions regarding this demand letter, please write
> me at the address set forth above. Do not discuss your concerns with 
> Dexter
> Morin or Denise Warner.
> Very truly yours,
> John D. Clark
> Enclosure
>                                ************
> [PHOTO/CAPTION: Puppy raiser Gillian Roberts and her dog Noni]
> October 4, 2008
> Ms. Gwen Brown
> Executive Director, Eye Dog Foundation
> Dear Ms. Brown:
>      I am writing as Noni's puppy raiser to notify you that the Eye Dog
> Foundation (EDF) is in breach of its puppy raiser agreement with me.
> Further, it has become clear from recent actions by EDF and its staff that
> EDF cannot currently ensure the safety of the animals under its care. I
> provide a remedy acceptable to me at the end of this letter. I would point
> out that I am an experienced puppy raiser, having in the past raised dogs
> for both Canine Companions for Independence and Guide Dogs for the Blind,
> both well established and well respected organizations. Here are the facts
> to support my concerns with EDF:
>      First: I believe that EDF with its currently constituted board of
> directors and staff is unable or unwilling to fulfill its publicly stated
> mission of being "dedicated to giving guide dogs to the blind and visually
> impaired at absolutely no cost to them" <http://www.eyedogfoundation.org>.
> This mission is also a commitment to the volunteer puppy raisers who pour
> love, time, and significant money into the care and preparation of a puppy
> that they believe will be destined for that career. EDF has not graduated 
> a
> single guide dog team in more than a year, despite the fact that in the
> spring of 2008 there were several dogs in the kennel ready to be teamed 
> and
> clients available for them.
>      Second: EDF has been unable to retain qualified guide dog trainers.
> In thirteen months, there has been complete turnover of training center
> staff twice. This includes the loss of three fully-qualified guide dog
> trainers. The staff currently at the training center is not qualified by
> any measure recognized within the guide dog industry to be training these
> dogs and is therefore not competent to run a program that will produce
> guide dogs that can be safely placed with visually impaired partners.
>      Third: The puppy raiser agreement requires me to attend classes once
> per month. This implies that EDF will provide those classes and further
> that those classes will be conducted by qualified trainers. From mid-
> September 2007 to early March 2008, almost six months, EDF failed to
> provide classes for the dogs. During the first four months of this period,
> at considerable inconvenience to my husband and me, I continued with 
> Noni's
> training, including sessions with a number of professional trainers. At 
> any
> time that EDF has offered classes, I have eagerly attended in accordance
> with our agreement and only missed class for valid reasons. I attended two
> sessions with the new staff, during which my only contact was with Denise
> Warner, puppy coordinator. It was apparent in those sessions that Ms.
> Warner had absolutely no background with service dogs and no understanding
> of appropriate training methods. Given that experience, I believe that
> continuing training with Ms. Warner would be detrimental to Noni's
> development as a guide dog.
>      Fourth: EDF has signaled that it intends to unilaterally redefine
> what constitutes a release of a dog. In the past, and as understood by the
> current puppy raisers, the (qualified) director of training determined
> whether a dog was to be released from the program. Despite this
> understanding, which is reinforced by consistent past practice and
> acknowledged by you, Ms. Brown, some of the puppy raisers have been told
> that the rules have changed and that now you, Ms. Brown, and/or the board
> must decide whether a dog is to be released from the program. Not only is
> it impermissible to unilaterally change the terms of our agreement, but in
> addition, to the knowledge of the puppy raisers, neither you, Ms. Brown,
> nor any member of the board has the training that would qualify you or 
> them
> to determine whether a dog should be released from, or retained, in the
> program.
>      EDF has given clear indication that it does not intend to honor its
> contractual obligation to allow puppy raisers the option to adopt the dog
> they raised if ultimately someone (qualified or not) determines their dog
> will be released from the program. My agreement states that "if the puppy
> needs to have a career change, the first priority will be to place it with
> an appropriate service organization. Second priority will be to place the
> puppy with original raiser at no cost." In a meeting with approximately
> thirty puppy raisers on January 12, 2008, you, Ms. Brown, affirmed our
> understanding that we would have first rights to our dogs if they are
> released from the program. When we asked for clarification of the puppy
> raiser agreement regarding the potential placement with "an appropriate
> service organization," you, Ms. Brown, once again assured us that
> historically dogs have not been placed with other service organizations,
> and they would be returned to us if they are released.
>      Recent past conduct underscores EDF's new resistance to returning
> released dogs to their puppy raisers. In mid-February, the former director
> of training, Bryan Young, signaled that a number of dogs were to be
> released from the program, yet four of those dogs were kept in EDF's
> kennels for almost five months--until July 5--when they finally were
> returned to puppy raiser homes.
>      For EDF to direct that these highly intelligent dogs, raised in
> family homes and accustomed to daily socialization, not be returned to
> puppy raiser homes and instead be kept in a kennel after no longer being
> deemed suitable for guide work is unconscionable and demonstrates a lack 
> of
> intent to fulfill EDF's contractual obligation to puppy raisers.
>      Fifth: It has become clear that the staff at the training center does
> not have the experience to control the dogs in their care. I know of one
> recent incident in which one of the dogs at the center was sufficiently
> injured in a dog fight to require veterinary care. From the information I
> have, it is clear that staff inexperience was a major contributing factor.
> I could not conscionably return Noni to an unsafe environment, nor do I
> believe I would be legally required to do so.
>      Sixth: On July 5, 2008, EDF abandoned Noni. She was boarding at the
> training center, one of twelve dogs present, when the training staff
> resigned and the center abruptly closed down. You, Ms. Brown, had 
> cancelled
> food orders for the center on June 30 when the center was out of food,
> possibly leaving the dogs, both boarders and dogs which had been returned
> to EDF, to starve. It was up to the training staff, acting on their own 
> and
> concerned for the dogs' welfare, to purchase food and arrange for care for
> them, including one dog which required emergency life-saving surgery. We
> were out of state and had to rely on two other puppy raisers to care for
> her until we could return.
>      I am committed absolutely to Noni's fulfilling her mission as a guide
> dog. This is why I became involved in the program at EDF. However, I no
> longer believe that EDF can deliver on its commitments, and, perhaps more
> importantly, EDF cannot ensure her safety. To resolve this, I request that
> EDF release Noni to a nationally recognized guide dog organization, or to
> me on the understanding that I will make due diligence to donate her (with
> no benefit to me) to an appropriate service dog organization. In either
> case I will assume the cost and responsibility of delivering her to that
> organization.
>                                ************
> Sincerely,
> Gillian Roberts
> CC:
> Mr. John D. Clark, Jr, Attorney at Law
>                                ************
>      Finally, in accordance with a commitment to Clark and the EDF, we
> print the following statement from the school about the puppy raisers'
> failure to honor the demand letters. Here it is:
>                                 **********
>      1. The Eye Dog Foundation for the Blind is a nonprofit California
> corporation that was established, as the name suggests, to provide guide
> dogs for the blind. It is authorized to operate in Arizona.
>      2. The Eye Dog Foundation for the Blind owns more than twenty-five
> puppies that were placed under bailment contracts with parties who were to
> raise the puppies, i.e., puppy raisers.
>      3. Each of the Contracts clearly states that each of the dogs belong
> to the Foundation, and gives no ownership rights whatsoever to any of the
> puppy raisers. The puppy raisers merely had the right to raise these
> puppies.
>      4. The Contract also stipulates that the puppy raisers were required
> to comply with the Foundation's directives regarding the puppies.
>      5. Last week the Foundation directed each of the puppy raisers in
> writing to return the Foundation's puppies to the Foundation within five
> days.
>      6. It now appears that the puppy raisers are refusing to comply with
> the Foundation's directive to return the Foundation's puppies.
>      7. The puppy raisers are apparently attempting to raise a number of
> specious issues to divert attention away from their clear breaches of the
> bailment contracts. None of these issues give the puppy raisers the right
> to deprive the Foundation of its puppies, which is what the puppy raisers
> are apparently attempting to do.
>                                 **********
>      Seemingly backed into a corner and with no access to legal
> representation to fight against this multimillion dollar organization, the
> EDF puppy raisers contacted the offices of the Attorneys General in both
> Arizona and California. Receiving no satisfactory response from these
> authorities, they then approached the Braille Monitor and the local ABC
> affiliate in Phoenix to register their concerns and to attract attention 
> to
> the issues occurring at the school. Following is the text of the story
> found on the Website of the local ABC affiliate in Phoenix that 
> accompanied
> the brief video spot that was also produced and aired in early October:
>                                 **********
>      A custody battle is brewing over twenty-five "service dogs in
> training" in the Phoenix area. The future service animals are owned by the
> Eye Dog Foundation for the Blind, a California-based nonprofit group that
> operates a training center in Phoenix. But a large group of volunteers,
> foster families that agreed to help raise the dogs, are refusing to return
> them.
> [PHOTO/CAPTION: Puppy raiser Dianna Anderson and her dog Kensi]
>      "I couldn't feel comfortable handing this dog back to a foundation
> that is not functioning and feel good about it," Diana Anderson said.
> Anderson and twenty-five other volunteers entered into agreements with the
> foundation to provide the dogs a home and bring them to training sessions
> at the foundation's facility in south Phoenix.
>      The goal of the foundation is to train the dogs and then place them
> with the blind. But volunteers like Eldon Ploetz say the foundation is in
> shambles, that dogs are not receiving the necessary training, and they
> claim not a single dog has been placed with a blind person in more than a
> year. Ploetz and his wife have helped raise and foster Kiesha, a German
> shepherd.
>      In late September Ploetz received a letter from the Eye Dog
> Foundation's attorney stating, "DEMAND IS HEREBY MADE that you immediately
> return Kiesha to the Foundation." The letter continues, "I understand that
> you have breached at least two parts of this Agreement. You have not
> followed the instructions of the staff, and you have not attended all
> the Training Classes." Other volunteers received similar letters.
>      But the volunteers claim the trainers are not properly certified, and
> the ones that have been hired have not stayed on with the foundation.
> Additionally, they say the Foundation had been shut down for weeks and 
> they
> have neglected the dogs.
>      "We understand they cut off the food for the dogs that were in the
> kennel," Ploetz said. Ploetz's wife said she would rather go to jail than
> give Kiesha back to the foundation.
>      "They are valid concerns," said DaCoda Whittemore, a former
> operations manager who worked at the foundation's training facility for
> only a week. Whittemore said the dogs are "absolutely" receiving better
> care with the foster families, "not just because the management isn't
> functioning properly, but there's no staff qualified at the foundation at
> this point to be able to take and care for these dogs properly." Dexter
> Morin, a former trainer at the facility, agreed with Whittemore, 
> submitting
> his resignation earlier this month.
>      Before leaving, Morin turned over several dogs to the foster families
> rather than leaving them alone at the training facility. In his 
> resignation
> letter, Morin wrote, "I contacted the puppy raisers to inform them of my
> concerns of leaving the dogs on the premises without the guarantee that
> they would be attended to." Morin goes on to say, "I in good conscience
> turned them over to the puppy raisers for the safe keeping of the dogs."
>      The Eye Dog Foundation and its attorney have declined our repeated
> requests for an on-camera interview. In a statement to ABC 15, the
> Foundation's attorney, John D. Clark, wrote, "The contract clearly states
> that each of the dogs belong to the Foundation, and gives no ownership
> rights whatsoever to any of the puppy raisers." The letter goes on to 
> state
> that "the Foundation directed each of the puppy raisers in writing to
> return the Foundation's puppies to the Foundation within five days. It now
> appears that the puppy raisers are refusing to comply with the 
> Foundation's
> directive."
>                                 **********
>      There you have the ABC story.  In an effort to resolve the impasse
> amicably, EDF puppy-raiser leaders Anna Thomasson and Gail Stouthamer
> initiated a dialogue with Clark to find a solution to the custody problem
> acceptable to all parties. Among the suggestions that the puppy raisers
> offered were to turn the dogs over to a functioning guide dog school
> equipped to evaluate and train the dogs for guiding service if 
> appropriate.
> Optimism about resolution of this matter was briefly high among the puppy
> raisers following signs of good-faith conversations with Clark, but he
> abruptly ended the settlement talks after receiving a request from the
> Braille Monitor to interview his client for this story.
>      No further progress on resolving the standoff between concerned puppy
> raisers and the foundation has been realized since Clark's retaliatory
> measures against the puppy raisers for their decision to alert the Braille
> Monitor to this story. Afraid of the financial and legal liability that
> they will all face as a result of their collective decision to engage in
> this act of civil disobedience in support of producing high-quality guide
> dogs for blind consumers and for the welfare of the animals themselves,
> puppy-raiser leaders say that they are nevertheless resolved to do the
> right thing on principle. The puppy raisers are looking for legal
> representation, but to date they have been unsuccessful in finding counsel
> willing to advocate for them pro bono.
>      Throughout this long ordeal some EDF puppy raisers have reported
> feeling varying degrees of intimidation from and fear of Gwen Brown.
> Thomasson, for instance, received several unidentified cell phone calls on
> October 7, 2008, in which the caller, who Thomasson believes to have been
> Brown, said, "Ok, Anna Thomasson. It's me and you, me and you and Barbara
> Kuhns. We're going to go for it, okay? Me and you--you and me, okay?" 
> Later
> this same week Thomasson received an anonymous large envelope in the mail
> which contained letters addressed to Gwen Brown that had been resealed 
> with
> tape. Another puppy raiser, who had initially agreed to be interviewed for
> this story, called to insist that his name not be used for fear that Brown
> or one of her "operatives" would somehow harm his family or the dog that 
> he
> had raised. Several sources for this story also report having had
> conversations with Brown in which she has made threatening comments like,
> "I can't wait until the Lord makes my enemies my footstools" and other
> vague but pointed remarks. Finally, Anderson told the Braille Monitor that
> she was quite disturbed when Brown ended an unpleasant telephone
> conversation with her with the comment, "Oh, so you have children, do 
> you?"
>      Several EDF consumers told the Braille Monitor of instances of
> nonresponsive or insensitive treatment at Brown's hands. Patricia Kepler 
> of
> Oregon said that Brown was unresponsive to the fact that her dog had been
> injured on public transportation, and she explained that her dog was
> offered no retraining or post-accident evaluation services. Instead, 
> Robert
> Torence of the Seeing Eye generously came out to help her work with her
> dog. She says that both the Seeing Eye and Guide Dogs for the Blind have
> been invaluable to EDF consumers since the school has essentially stopped
> functioning. She also cited an instance in which Brown told her simply to
> go to Pet Smart when she needed a replacement leash for her guide dog. "Of
> course any responsible administrator of a reputable guide dog school knows
> better than to recommend that a student use a pet leash for the taxing 
> work
> that a service animal performs," Kepler said. Finally, Veronica Elsea of
> California told the Braille Monitor that she has been trying to get a 
> guide
> dog from EDF since July 2007, and she reports having received the
> application only within the last few weeks.
>      The final facet of this story involves allegations that Gwen Brown,
> on behalf of EDF, attempted to make or made inappropriate withdrawals from
> EDF of California and EDF of Arizona bank accounts. As previously 
> reported,
> Eye Dog Foundation of Arizona was a distinct entity from Eye Dog 
> Foundation
> of California that existed largely to manage minor Arizona-related matters
> for the school. According to Eldon Ploetz, EDF puppy raiser and treasurer
> of the Eye Dog Foundation of Arizona, Brown was never a member of the
> governing board or a financial signatory on bank records of this small
> Arizona entity. Ploetz accuses Brown of inappropriately withdrawing ten
> thousand dollars from an Eye Dog Foundation of Arizona account, but he
> acknowledges that, once the bank realized its error and asked her to 
> return
> the funds, she did so. Schiffres, on behalf of Brown and EDF, explains 
> this
> incident in his letter of October 27, 2008, as follows:
>                                 **********
>      Ms. Brown did withdraw $10,000 from an Eye Dog Foundation of Arizona
> account at Wells Fargo Bank. She went to a Claremont branch of Wells Fargo
> and filled out a withdrawal form (in the absence of having any available
> checks) and presented appropriate identification. The bank teller (name
> unknown) checked the bank's signature card records to confirm Ms. Brown's
> authority to make the withdrawal. Ms. Brown advises that the teller
> appeared also to have obtained the approval of the bank manager. The
> withdrawal was thus approved, and Ms. Brown received $10,000. She used 
> same
> to pay counsel on behalf of Eye Dog Foundation for work performed on its
> behalf.
>      Approximately two weeks later the Wells Fargo branch manager called
> Ms. Brown, advising her that she was not shown as a signatory on the
> account and requesting that the monies be repaid. Ms. Brown's response was
> that he should double-check his records because she was in fact an
> authorized signer, as was confirmed by the teller. The manager then
> responded that the names on the account were two other board members,
> Ms. Wonderley and Mr. Harris, and he claimed Ms. Brown had never been a
> signatory on the account.
>      Although the bank manager's information that Ms. Brown lacked
> authority to make a withdrawal on the subject account was incorrect, 
> rather
> than argue the point, Ms. Brown simply took the pragmatic approach. She
> used her own personal funds to reimburse the Eye Dog Foundation of Arizona
> account at Wells Fargo Bank in response to the Bank's request, thereby to
> avoid even the appearance of impropriety. It was subsequently learned that
> the receiver had apparently empowered Wendy Wonderley and Louis Harris to
> take over control of that account, and they had presented the bank with
> documentation that superseded the bank authorization for Ms. Brown to sign
> on the account. This was not revealed to Ms. Brown at the time or to her
> counsel; nor was the Bank subsequently informed by Ms. Wonderley or Mr.
> Harris, or by the receiver, that upon extinguishing the receivership,
> control of the account had reverted to Eye Dog Foundation's board, of 
> which
> Ms. Brown was its duly elected executive director. Had either notice been
> provided, the entire episode would never have occurred.
>                                 **********
>      In the face of such contradictory information, the Braille Monitor is
> unable to verify fully or accurately where the truth in this incident
> actually lies, but we have records (minutes and the articles of
> incorporation for the Eye Dog Foundation of Arizona) that show that Ms.
> Brown was not a member of this organization's governing body. 
> Nevertheless,
> no doubt can exist that, while the Eye Dog Foundation of Arizona and the
> Eye Dog Foundation of California were separate legal entities, these
> organizations worked together in an allied cause. Subsequent to the
> dissolution of the EDF receivership, Mr. Ploetz reports that Brown, in her
> capacity as EDF executive director, has now entirely drained the Eye Dog
> Foundation of Arizona bank account and has absorbed its resources into the
> Eye Dog Foundation of California operation. Ploetz alleges that Brown had
> no right to do this since she has never had anything to do with this
> entity. He reports that he filed a criminal complaint with the IRS
> regarding Brown's second Eye Dog Foundation of Arizona withdrawal in the
> spring of this year. Without resources to operate the Eye Dog Foundation 
> of
> Arizona, Ploetz told us that its board dissolved the small Arizona-based
> organization in the spring of 2008. In response to this second allegation,
> Schiffres said, "Your letter references a pending IRS criminal probe into
> Ms. Brown's alleged taking of funds from Eye Dog of Arizona ("EDA")
> accounts. We are not aware of any such inquiry. However, we are unaware of
> any claimed impropriety regarding said accounts by Ms. Brown. We therefore
> must question the accuracy of your information."
>      Both Ploetz and Wonderley tell the Braille Monitor that Brown also
> attempted inappropriately to withdraw $30,000 from an EDF of California
> account, but they both confirm that this attempted transaction was
> ultimately blocked by the bank and that these funds were never taken.
> Counsel for Ms. Brown, however, contradicts this claim and explains the
> incident like this:
>                                 **********
>      Your letter references an attempted withdrawal of funds from Arizona
> accounts. The true facts are as follows: As you are presumably aware,
> several years ago the Eye Dog Foundation board was provided a statement of
> resignation by Lequita McKay, executive director. The resignation was
> understood to include her director position and a new executive director--
> Ms. Gwen Brown--was voted in. Then Ms. McKay and her supporters on the
> board claimed that she did not intend to resign as director, leading to a
> board deadlock. This, in turn, led to a lawsuit and the imposition of a
> receiver. Following Ms. McKay's death, which mooted the issue of board
> deadlock, and the presentation of opposition proof and briefing, the court
> held in favor of the Gwen Brown faction of the board and made an order
> extinguishing the receivership. Unfortunately, the practical effects of 
> the
> suit, receivership, and elimination of the receivership, lasted much
> longer. Several months passed during which we were unable to get court
> orders signed for the reinstatement of the new board and Ms. Brown. The
> result was a major dislocation of the Foundation's business. It is in this
> context that this and your other questions must be considered.
>      On a date subsequent to the receiver's appointment, Eye Dog
> Foundation received a letter from Citibank advising of a maturing 
> six-month
> CD. Ms. Brown and another board member, Mr. Hannon, responded by going to
> the Citibank branch in Upland with the intention of ascertaining Eye Dog
> Foundation's available options for the handling of the CD precisely 
> because
> the account was at the time in receivership. They met and spoke to a
> Ms. Hong and specifically advised her that the account was subject to the
> receivership. Ms. Hong responded that notwithstanding what she was being
> told by Ms. Brown and Mr. Hannon, there was "no hold" on the account. She
> indicated she would have to contact her home office to obtain further
> instructions. Ms. Brown believes that Mr. Hannon signed a document given 
> to
> him by Ms. Hong at that time. Ms. Hong stated that the document was needed
> in order for her to make the home office inquiry. That was the extent of
> the first visit to Citibank, which occurred on a Friday. The following
> Monday or Tuesday Ms. Brown had a telephone conversation with Ms. Hong. 
> Ms.
> Hong this time advised that the account should have been blocked.
> Consequently, Ms. Brown and Mr. Hannon thought the matter was resolved.
> They gave Ms. Hong no instructions concerning the maturing CD because, 
> upon
> receiving the bank's confirmation that the CD was on hold, meant they had
> no power or authority to act with regard to same. There was no attempt to
> withdraw $30,000 from the Citibank account.
>                                ************
> [PHOTO/CAPTION: Litta, EDF puppy in training]
>      This is what we know. The Braille Monitor has been careful in
> reporting this story to keep our narration to facts or circumstances
> confirmed by at least two people. What we personally believe as a result 
> of
> our investigation, however, could fill several more pages.
>      Blind consumers, oversight authorities, and others interested in the
> welfare of guide dogs should understand that the Eye Dog Foundation is
> clearly in trouble. They currently have no dog trainers on staff who meet
> industry standards for working with guide dogs. The qualified trainers 
> that
> they did employ have resigned, citing the hostile and oppressive work
> environment created by Executive Director Brown, who seems to know little
> about the day-to-day issues of guide dog instruction or practice. The
> school has not issued a guide dog to a blind handler in well over a year.
> The caring and conscientious EDF volunteer puppy-raising community is so
> concerned about the absence of quality training and the general safety of
> the dogs that they are engaged in an unprecedented act of civil
> disobedience, willingly submitting themselves to legal jeopardy for their
> principles. And the EDF governing board (an insular body indeed, in which
> its members' contact details are not readily available to the public and
> most of its members will not speak about their knowledge of events) is now
> merely a rubber stamp for Brown, since all the members who disagreed with
> the current administration have died or resigned in frustration. We note
> that, to the best of our knowledge, no consumers have ever served on the
> EDF board. This is a distressing situation to be sure. Finally, the EDF
> operates under a dark shadow while it remains under investigation from the
> California Attorney General and the IRS.
>      Caveat emptor (let the buyer beware) should probably be the watch
> phrase for those who have dealings with the Eye Dog Foundation in future.
> Only time will tell what will happen with this organization. We sincerely
> hope that matters can be resolved. The blind of America can only benefit
> from a well-run guide dog school that specializes in the training of 
> German
> Shepherds, but at present the prospects for the foundation seem poor.
>                                ------------
>                         Consider a Charitable Gift
>      Making a charitable gift can be one of the most satisfying
> experiences in life. Each year millions of people contribute their time,
> talent, and treasure to charitable organizations. When you plan for a gift
> to the National Federation of the Blind, you are not just making a
> donation; you are leaving a legacy that insures a future for blind people
> throughout the country. Special giving programs are available through the
> National Federation of the Blind (NFB).
> Points to Consider When Making a Gift to the National Federation of the
> Blind
> Will my gift serve to advance the mission of the NFB?
> Am I giving the most appropriate asset?
> Have I selected the best way to make my gift?
> Have I considered the tax consequences of my gift?
> Have I sought counsel from a competent advisor?
> Have I talked to the planned giving officer about my gift?
> Benefits of Making a Gift to the NFB
>   1. Helping the NFB fulfill its mission
>   2. Receiving income tax savings through a charitable deduction
>   3. Making capital gain tax savings on contribution of some appreciated
>      gifts
>   4. Providing retained payments for the life of a donor or other
>      beneficiaries
>   5. Eliminating federal estate tax in certain situations
>   6. Reducing estate settlement cost
> Your Gift Will Help Us
> Make the study of science and math a real possibility for blind children
> Provide hope for seniors losing vision
> Promote state and chapter programs and provide information that will
> educate blind people
> Advance technology helpful to the blind
> Create a state-of-the-art library on blindness
> Train and inspire professionals working with the blind
> Provide critical information to parents of blind children
> Mentor blind people trying to find jobs
> Your gift makes you a part of the NFB dream!
>                                ------------
> [PHOTO/CAPTION: Ed Morman and Ellen Ringlein picket the movie, Blindness.]
>               NFB Protests Opening of Blindness in 37 States
>                              by Barbara Pierce
>                                ************
>      When the NFB announced in late September that we planned to conduct
> informational pickets at movie theaters across the nation when the 
> Fernando
> Meirelles adaptation of José Saramago's 1995 novel, Blindness, opened on
> October 3, a wave of comment washed across the blindness listservs and 
> into
> the national press. Of course lots of folks cheered, but we also read lots
> of comments ranging from Miramax's condescending expression of "sadness"
> that we had so misunderstood its high-minded artistic statement of dismay
> at the crudeness and barbarism of human nature to grumpy dismissals of our
> outrage as childish tantrums. Many of our critics, particularly those in
> the blindness community, criticized us for raising the subject only when
> the film was about to open. These folks had forgotten, if they had ever
> bothered to learn, that we passed a condemnatory resolution about the 
> plans
> for this film at our 2007 convention, soon after plans for its production
> were announced. Miramax completely disregarded our objections at the time
> and carried on with making the film.
>      We began making plans to conduct informational pickets on October 3
> everywhere we could find space to do so. On September 25 seven members of
> the national staff went to see a preview screening of the film in
> Baltimore. When the film ended, a Miramax employee asked if the group had
> enjoyed the movie. They commented that it was not an experience one was
> likely to enjoy. She agreed and volunteered that they were promoting it as
> a horror film. The NFB members agreed that it was indeed pretty 
> horrifying.
> They went on to point out that its portrayal of blindness was hugely
> inaccurate, a concept that obviously surprised the young woman.
>      In fact, the film was exactly what anyone who had read the book might
> have expected it to be. Clearly efforts to warn the public that the film
> was damaging to blind people had to go forward.
>      Affiliate presidents were encouraged to make protest plans. So in
> seventy-two locations around the nation organizers ordered brochures and
> picket signs from the national office. Volunteers rounded up sticks and
> stapled the signs to them so that marchers had something to hold up. We
> modified the national press release and circulated it to local media so
> that they would know where to find blind people objecting to being 
> depicted
> as an allegory for everything that is depraved and base in human nature.
> The Associated Press published a story on September 30 that was picked up
> across the country. This is what it said:
>                                ************
>              Blind Activists Plan Protest of Movie, Blindness
>                               by Ben Nuckols
>                                ************
>      Blind people quarantined in a mental asylum, attacking each other,
> soiling themselves, trading sex for food. For Marc Maurer, who's blind,
> such a scenario-as shown in the movie Blindness-is not a clever allegory
> for a breakdown in society. Instead it's an offensive and chilling
> depiction that Maurer fears could undermine efforts to integrate blind
> people into the mainstream. "The movie portrays blind people as monsters,
> and I believe it to be a lie," said Maurer, president of the Baltimore-
> based National Federation of the Blind. "Blindness doesn't turn decent
> people into monsters."
>      The organization plans to protest the movie, released by Miramax
> Films, at seventy-five theaters around the country when it's released
> Friday. Blind people and their allies will hand out fliers and carry 
> signs.
> Among the slogans: "I'm not an actor. But I play a blind person in real
> life." The movie reinforces inaccurate stereotypes, including that the
> blind cannot care for themselves and are perpetually disoriented, 
> according
> to the NFB. "We face a 70 percent unemployment rate and other social
> problems because people don't think we can do anything, and this movie is
> not going to help-at all," said Christopher Danielsen, a spokesman for the
> organization.
>      Blindness director Fernando Meirelles, an Academy Award nominee for
> City of God, was shooting on location Thursday and unavailable for 
> comment,
> according to Miramax. The studio released a statement that read, in part,
> "We are saddened to learn that the National Federation of the Blind plans
> to protest the film Blindness." The NFB began planning the protests after
> seven staffers, including Danielsen, attended a screening of the movie in
> Baltimore last week. The group included three sighted employees. 
> "Everybody
> was offended," Danielsen said.
>      Based on the 1995 novel by Nobel Prize winner José Saramago,
> Blindness imagines a mysterious epidemic that causes people to see nothing
> but fuzzy white light-resulting in a collapse of the social order in an
> unnamed city. Julianne Moore stars as the wife of an eye doctor (Mark
> Ruffalo) who loses his sight; she feigns blindness to stay with her 
> husband
> and eventually leads a revolt of the quarantined patients.
>      The book was praised for its use of blindness as a metaphor for the
> lack of clear communication and respect for human dignity in modern
> society.
>      Miramax said in its statement that Meirelles had "worked diligently
> to preserve the intent and resonance of the acclaimed book," which it
> described as "a courageous parable about the triumph of the human spirit
> when civilization breaks down."
>      Maurer will have none of it. "I think that failing to understand each
> other is a significant problem," he said. "I think that portraying it as
> associated with blindness is just incorrect."
>      The protest will include pickets at theaters in at least twenty-one
> states, some with dozens of participants, timed to coincide with evening
> showtimes. Maurer said it would be the largest protest in the sixty-eight-
> year history of the NFB, which has 50,000 members and works to improve
> blind people's lives through advocacy, education, and other ways.
>      The film was the opening-night entry at the Cannes Film Festival,
> where many critics were unimpressed. After Cannes Meirelles retooled the
> film, removing a voice-over that some critics felt spelled out its themes
> too explicitly. Meirelles told the Associated Press at Cannes that the 
> film
> draws parallels to such disasters as Hurricane Katrina, the global food
> shortage, and the cyclone in Myanmar. "There are different kinds of
> blindness. There's two billion people that are starving in the world,"
> Meirelles said. "This is happening. It doesn't need a catastrophe. It's
> happening, and because there isn't an event like Katrina, we don't see."
>      Miramax is a division of The Walt Disney Company.
>                                ************
>      Between the AP story and the individual articles in papers across the
> country covering local protests, hundreds of newspaper articles were
> published, and more than fifty TV stories aired our position on this film.
> We are pleased to report that, according to David Germain, AP movie 
> writer,
> "Miramax's Blindness, featuring Julianne Moore, Danny Glover, and Mark
> Ruffalo in a nightmare tale about a plague of sightlessness, took in just
> $2 million, averaging an anemic $1,185 in 1,690 theaters," during its all-
> important first weekend. We don't wish to claim more effectiveness than is
> justified. Clearly Blindness is an unsuccessful and disturbingly 
> depressing
> film in its own right, but it can't hurt that blind people across the
> country stepped forward to register our anger at being used as an allegory
> for all that is depraved and base in human nature. Lest you conclude that
> we are making too much of the implications of this movie, here is an
> accurate plot summary of the film:
>                                ************
>      Blindness is based on a novel of the same name by the Portuguese
> writer José Saramago. The premise of the movie is that unnamed residents 
> of
> an unnamed city in an unnamed country suddenly and mysteriously become
> blind. Those who experience the blindness see only a white glare, so the
> blindness is sometimes called the "white sickness." The blindness is
> contagious, and the government immediately quarantines the victims in an
> abandoned and dilapidated mental asylum, with orders that anyone 
> attempting
> to leave is to be killed.
>      The prisoners are given food and supplies, but deliveries are
> inadequate and become increasingly irregular. The asylum also becomes
> filthy because the blind inmates, as portrayed in the movie, cannot find
> their way to the bathroom and simply relieve themselves on the floor or in
> their own beds. Some of the inmates die from infection or disease or are
> shot by guards when they try to escape or when they simply become
> disoriented and wander too close to the fence.
>      The inmates of Ward One, led by an ophthalmologist's wife, who can
> still see but feigns blindness to remain with her husband, fare slightly
> better than the rest; the implication is that this is solely because she
> assists the blind, portrayed as being unable to do anything for 
> themselves.
> As food supplies dwindle, another group of blind inmates whose leader has
> acquired a gun and dubbed himself "the King of Ward Three" begins to
> terrorize the others. The armed clique in Ward Three hoards all the food,
> extorting money and valuables from the other inmates and eventually
> demanding sex with the women from other wards in exchange for allowing the
> rest of the inmates to eat. One of the members of this clique who was born
> blind and is not a victim of the white sickness knows how to read and 
> write
> Braille and is given the task of taking inventory of the valuables stolen
> from the other inmates.
>      When the women from Ward One go to ward three to exchange sex for
> food, one of them is beaten to death as she is raped. The doctor's wife
> later kills the King of Ward Three, but the man who was born blind takes
> his place as leader of the armed gang and threatens to avenge the king by
> killing the doctor's wife. Being blind, however, he is unable to shoot 
> her,
> and she escapes unharmed. The rest of the inmates finally decide to do
> battle with the gang in Ward Three; just before the showdown someone sets 
> a
> pile of bedding alight, starting a fire that soon engulfs the entire
> asylum. During the ensuing confusion the man who was born blind shoots
> himself. When the surviving inmates, including the group led by the
> doctor's wife, escape the burning asylum, they discover that no soldiers
> are standing guard and they are free.
>      Outside the makeshift prison everyone has become blind, and the city
> has descended into total chaos. No government services or businesses are
> functioning, and nomadic groups of mostly naked blind people wander 
> through
> the streets, squatting in abandoned houses and shops for shelter and 
> taking
> food where they can find it-including in rubbish heaps. There is no
> electricity or running water, so the streets and buildings of the city are
> as filthy as the asylum was. Dogs that people used to keep as pets have
> gone wild and roam in packs, feeding on refuse and human corpses. The home
> of the doctor and his wife, however, is intact, and their group sets up
> residence there. The movie ends just as they regain their sight-as 
> suddenly
> and mysteriously as they had lost it.
>                                ************
>      We conclude this summary of the October 3 protest with two further
> documents. The first is a review of the film. The second is a post to an
> NFB listserv. It is only one of many on this topic, but it does a
> remarkable job of articulating the views of blind protesters.
>                                ------------
> [PHOTO/CAPTION: James Fetter]
>                         A False Image of Blindness
>                               by James Fetter
>                                ************
>>From the Editor: James Fetter is a graduate student at Notre Dame
> University. He is writing his dissertation, but the weekend after our
> nationwide protest of the film, Blindness, he offered to write a book
> review of José Saramago's novel on which the film is based. When Saramago
> first won the Nobel Prize for this novel, I looked for a reviewer without
> success. I was delighted to take James up on his offer. This is the 
> result:
>                                ************
> Blindness
> By José Saramago
> Copyright 1995
> Translated by Giovanni Pontiero
> New York: Harcourt Brace & Company, ©1995, 294 pp.  $22
>                                ************
> In the novel Blindness, which inspired a recently released movie by the
> same name, Nobel laureate Jose Saramago uses blindness as a metaphor for
> moral depravity, filth, and social collapse. In an unknown city full of
> people who are never named, an inexplicable and incurable epidemic of
> blindness strikes without warning, causing all but one of the city's
> inhabitants to lose their sight. After an attempt to control the epidemic
> by placing the infected in quarantine fails, complete social breakdown
> quickly follows, and the newly blind inhabitants of the city wander
> aimlessly, foraging for food and laying waste to their own city in the
> process. This is the basic premise of José Saramago's novel entitled
> Blindness, published not long before the author was awarded the Nobel 
> Prize
> for literature in 1998. Now that the movie Blindness, based on Saramago's
> novel, has just been released nationwide, it is worth revisiting this 
> novel
> and the negative stereotypes of blindness Saramago propagates and
> embellishes throughout its 294 pages.
> With few exceptions the blind characters in Saramago's novel lose not only
> their sight but also their ability to tend to their most basic bodily
> needs, their courage in the face of intimidation, and their sense of
> morality and decency. When the government attempts to stop the epidemic by
> placing the infected in quarantine, the women are willing to be raped and
> humiliated in order to obtain food from a gang of thugs in Ward 3 of the
> dilapidated mental hospital in which the blind have been imprisoned. The
> men, including the husbands of the female victims, more or less accept 
> this
> state of affairs and even encourage the women who protest to tolerate the
> brutality to which they are subjected. The reign of terror is ended, not 
> by
> the blind, but by the sole sighted person in the facility, the wife of an
> ophthalmologist, who decides to slip into Ward 3 while the thugs are 
> raping
> several other women and kills their leader with a pair of scissors.
> The blind prisoners, as well as the blind residents of the city depicted
> after the mental hospital burns to the ground and some prisoners escape,
> have forgotten how to use the toilet, and they defecate in the streets,
> which run with filth. They also routinely walk around on all fours while
> navigating through an unfamiliar environment, and they either cannot, or
> don't care to, wash themselves or their clothes. Except for the small 
> group
> of main characters led, of course, by the ophthalmologist's sighted wife,
> they cannot organize themselves or collaborate on anything other than rape
> and extortion.
> Saramago's portrayal of those who were born blind or have been blind for
> much of their lives is equally misleading. The only character born blind
> and able to read Braille sides with the criminals and uses his literacy to
> keep an inventory of their stolen goods and the women they have raped. He
> even leads them for a time after the sighted woman kills their leader.
> Aside from the Braille-reading criminal, Saramago's other scattered
> references to the blind who lived among the sighted prior to the epidemic
> depict us as unable to cross the street without sighted help and as 
> lacking
> the moral compass possessed by our sighted peers.
> As should be clear even from these few details, Saramago's book is filled
> with false images of blindness and the effect of this disability on those
> who have it. Saramago portrays us as unable to care for ourselves and our
> most basic bodily needs without sighted assistance, and he seems to think
> that we would descend into depravity of the worst kind if left to our own
> devices. By describing the blind in this fashion, Saramago reinforces
> popular prejudices against us and adds a few of his own, namely the
> implication that the blind tend toward crime and moral obtuseness.
> To be fair, a scenario such as Saramago's would likely result in a great
> deal of social dislocation, since those who lose their vision need time 
> and
> training to adapt to their new situation. Even those of us who are born
> blind need to learn certain skills in order to be independent, and we 
> would
> sorely miss the absence of anyone who could drive a car, fly a plane, or
> perform the few other tasks for which sight is required. Also one must 
> keep
> in mind that people imprisoned in a run-down mental hospital that lacks
> several modern conveniences and the necessities for basic hygiene may lose
> a certain amount of self-respect and the drive to improve their
> circumstances.
> Furthermore, Saramago did not write this book in order to vilify the 
> blind.
> His goal was to demonstrate the fragility of human society and, using
> allegory, to show that basic human decency is, in his view at least, an
> illusion and that it too would largely vanish, if society collapsed. In
> light of recent disasters, such as Hurricane Katrina and the Asian 
> Tsunami,
> this message is worthy of serious consideration.
> It is thus all the more unfortunate that Saramago chose to convey this
> timely message by misrepresenting an entire group of people. Many of
> Saramago's critics have praised him for writing convincing descriptions of
> alternative realities which differ from our world in only one important
> respect and for working out the consequences of these differences. By this
> measure Blindness falls far short of the mark, and the only reason that
> this work met with such critical acclaim is that the damaging stereotypes
> Saramago employs in his narrative are so widespread as to be deemed common
> knowledge. Thus, instead of challenging our assumptions about our fellow
> man, as he is so often credited with doing, Saramago panders to widespread
> erroneous assumptions about the blind, and in doing so, he treats us much
> as he claims we would treat one another if left to ourselves.
>                                ------------
>               Are Protesters of Blindness Missing the Point?
>                               by Rene Harrell
>                                ************
>      The following thoughtful letter by Rene Harrell appeared on our
> teachers of blind children listserv on October 4, 2008. It has been
> slightly edited for publication.
>                                ************
>      I think you have posed a philosophical question that the majority of
> our society is asking in response to hearing that blind people take great
> exception to their depiction in the movie. It waffles between "What's the
> big deal?" and "You are missing the point." In fact, a movie reviewer who
> writes for our local paper (the Colorado Springs Gazette) was quoted in an
> article covering the protests yesterday making pretty much this point. To
> quote the article directly, "Every person goes blind over the course of a
> few days," Fibbs said of the film. "Society implodes overnight. That's the
> point of the film--the frailty of mankind and our propensity for
> inhumanity. It's a spiritual blindness, not a physical blindness, that the
> film wishes to address." The author himself also denies that physical
> blindness has any part to play in the over-arching meaning of his novel 
> and
> has said that protests against this film are "a display of meanness based
> on nothing at all."
>      I too have read the novel. I read it while in college after it was
> first released in English. I personally am not a huge fan of his overall
> literary style, but Saramago's overall tone and intent came through with
> crystalline clarity. You could not walk away from that book without
> understanding the over-arching allegory about the inner struggles and 
> moral
> frailty of humankind. In protests over this novel and this film I don't 
> see
> a denial of Saramago's allegory; I see a challenge to his metaphor.
>      This seems to me a similar debate to the racial discourse over Joseph
> Conrad's Heart of Darkness. While the literary style (and sheer volume) of
> the two novels are vastly different, both books take aim at what is left
> when the constructs of civilization are peeled away and all that is left 
> is
> humanity in its basest form. Both books use a metaphorical construct of 
> the
> other as the primary vehicle for plunging their readers into the
> psychological process of human degeneration. For Conrad's contemporary
> readers Africa was "the Dark Continent." Those who picked up his novel in
> 1902 or read it in its magazine form in 1899 would have had an immediate,
> almost subconscious socially conditioned response to the setting of his
> novel. Conrad was master of the written word with an uncanny perception of
> humanity. He was also a white European male writing for an audience of
> white Europeans. As such he understood the psychological impact that the
> use of the other--in this case the African continent and the African 
> people-
> -would have. Conrad needed a metaphor and a symbol that would evoke a
> primal emotive response from his readers as he contrasted the ideas of
> primitiveness, savagery, barbarism, brutality, and evil with notions of
> civilization, good, and morality in mankind. Even as Conrad projects a
> great deal of ambiguity and direct juxtaposition of the light/good 
> dark/bad
> social and emotional contextual understanding of his day, he relied on the
> profoundly racist social understanding of his day for his novel to work.
> His novel at the time was a psychological thriller precisely because the
> fear of Africans and the continent of Africa were so deep-seated and deep-
> rooted that they could strike emotional chords of fear instantaneously and
> subconsciously in the white colonialist readers who were the target
> audience for this book. Intelligent, thoughtful literary critics in a 
> post-
> colonial Africa can be forgiven if they don't share the same emotive
> response that Conrad was seeking in the writing of his novel, even if that
> vastly different emotive response does not change the literary merit or 
> the
> larger themes at work in the novel.
>      In the same way Saramago uses the other, in this case the blind, as
> the necessary metaphorical vehicle he needs in order to evoke a specific
> emotional and psychological response in readers as he crafts his statement
> on bad and good in human civilization. Blindness is essential to Saramago
> because the most crucial aspect in his degeneration and devolution of
> humanity is disorientation. He uses the concept of disorientation
> extensively as a literary technique (no one has names in the asylum, and
> his punctuation style makes it very difficult to discern precisely who is
> speaking) and in turn to further an emotional understanding of the
> confusion, powerlessness, helplessness, degradation, and fear that come
> from being disoriented. For this Saramago needs to play specifically on 
> our
> collective, deep-rooted societal understanding of blindness. A big part of
> societal fears of blindness, even on a subconscious level, is the 
> inability
> to orient oneself and perceive and ascertain information without sight.
> Saramago needs this automatically understood fear in order for his novel 
> to
> lay bare his version of humanity and to have his readers follow him. This
> is why he needs his central character, the heroine of the book and the
> literal eyewitness, to retain her sight. This is why no other metaphor of
> dreaded disease such as leprosy, AIDS, or some made-up contagion that 
> would
> lead to a slow and horrific death would suffice. Saramago might have shown
> humanity stripped bare, in panic over a contagious disease; it has been a
> common plot device in many novels and films treating the issues he is
> discussing. But none of those as a context works here because he is
> exploiting a very specific sense of loss and powerlessness, disorientation
> and fear that comes from the sighted culture's understanding and
> presumptions about blindness. Saramago is not writing this novel for those
> who are blind, nor does he display a knowledge and psychological
> understanding of blindness and the implications of blindness from the
> perspective of those who are actually blind. Instead he has written a 
> novel
> for the sighted, sharing their understanding and context of blindness. He
> uses the other as a metaphorical construct that those who share in his
> understanding will instantly recognize.
>      Now from the perspective of the other comes a vastly different view.
> They do not share the same emotive and automatic fear response that he has
> carefully embedded in his novel. The other get to decide for themselves
> whether their depiction is something to be shared or rejected; something
> that is accurate or inaccurate. You cannot write about the other, using
> them as an object necessary to transmit your themes successfully to your
> readers, and then tell them they do not have a right to view your work
> differently from the way you do. It doesn't mean they don't get it or that
> they are missing the point. It is precisely by understanding your point
> exactly and getting it fully that they are able to deconstruct the 
> validity
> of the author's literary construct, because the reality is that, if
> blindness were not viewed the way it is by sighted society, the metaphor 
> of
> physical blindness as it relates to decivilization in this novel would
> fail. It would not be a deep-seated psychological thriller making sighted
> people aware of the animalistic nature within us all; it would be 
> something
> else. If the emotional and psychological response to blindness is 
> necessary
> to make this novel successful at conveying its point, then the blind have 
> a
> right to enter that conversation and respond to the view of themselves 
> that
> is portrayed.
>      To dismiss these critiques and literary deconstructions as missing
> the point or being overly PC is actually rejecting intellectual discourse
> in favor of knee-jerk, defensive posturing. Saramago's response to the
> blind protesting his novel and movie is a case in point. Saying that the
> protesters are showing a "display of meanness with no point at all" is the
> phrase of a man who is offended by the fact that others could be offended
> by his work. He is then doing what he expects others not to do--be 
> offended
> rather than understanding. Second, by saying there is "no point at all" in
> the response of the blind to his film and novel is to say he is neither
> open nor receptive to the exact self-examination that his book is supposed
> to lead to. The fact is that at the end of his novel people have their
> sight restored as quickly as it left. The enduring hope in the goodness of
> mankind then prevails for those sighted readers who can see themselves in
> the journey from civilization to savage chaos and the regeneration of
> mankind. What then is left for the blind reader who has been blind and 
> will
> remain blind long after the restoration of sight and civilization in his
> novel? Why is the blind reader not supposed to see his humanity bound up 
> in
> the physically blind of the novel but only in the goodness and hope that
> sight provides? Why is it okay for Saramago to ask his blind readers to
> subject their sense of self to his depiction of their lives, but it is not
> acceptable to ask Saramago to subject his sense of self to theirs?
>      At the end of the day I can read his novel and understand why those
> with sight don't get the big deal. While I personally have never been a 
> big
> fan of his literary style, I can even set aside myself and appreciate the
> larger metaphor and the skillful mastery he displays as he makes it. I can
> appreciate that critics, readers, and movie-goers feel that bogging
> ourselves down in the minutiae of whether or not the blind can dress
> themselves or find the bathroom is missing the point of what the novel and
> film are trying to tell us. And to a degree the practical specifics are
> missing the point. For the most part those reading his novel aren't
> pondering whether or not blind people can dress themselves or even
> necessarily believing that blind people can't dress themselves. But the
> larger themes of his novel are absolutely tied to a broad, immediate, and
> even subconscious emotional fear of the disorientation and disempowerment
> of being blind. The feeling and fear that blindness leads to loss of
> fundamental human capacity is absolutely necessary to this novel's plot
> line and its larger themes being believable and understandable. From the
> perspective of those who are actually blind, the blind themselves and 
> those
> with intimate knowledge and understanding of blindness have every right to
> discourse about the accuracy of that metaphor and their feelings about
> being used allegorically to make points that may or may not be related to
> themselves.
>      It is unfortunate that, rather than being open to this kind of
> discussion, he simply dismisses the actions of the blind as angry
> individuals with nothing better to do with their time. It is unfortunate
> that those who dismiss the blind as missing the point demonstrate their 
> own
> lack of understanding of the point that the blind are protesting in the
> first place. And unlike Africans in post-colonial Africa and African
> Americans in the United States deconstructing the use of race in 
> literature
> or women discussing the view of feminism in twenty-first century American
> politics, the blind make up such a small percentage of the population that
> their collective voice is not always heard or respected at the table. All
> the more reason for the blind to do whatever it takes to get their voice
> heard and a seat at the table, even if it means protesting. Just some
> random thoughts on a Saturday afternoon.
>                                ------------
>             International Travel Still No Picnic for the Blind
>                                ************
>      From the Editor: We in the United States have fought our share of
> airline wars, and unfortunate incidents continue to occur with distressing
> regularity at ticketing desks, with TSA screeners, in gate areas, and
> onboard aircraft. Employees avoid speaking to us directly if they can find
> anyone else to whom to address their questions. Cabin crew members take it
> into their heads to check our ability to fasten the seat belt or suggest
> moving us into or out of bulkhead seats. In short, when a blind passenger
> gets to his or her destination using a domestic air carrier without having
> experienced a frustrating or annoying incident, the event is worth
> celebrating.
>      It is useful, if dismaying, therefore to be reminded of how much
> different things can be, particularly in the developing world. On October
> 16, 2008, I was copied on an exchange of email messages that remind us 
> just
> how far we must still travel before blind people can count on only the
> degree of frustration and inconvenience that surround other international
> airline passengers. The first message was written by Rami Rabby, who 
> served
> for a time as secretary of the National Federation of the Blind. The
> response is from Larry Campbell, chief executive officer of the
> International Council for the Education of People with Visual Impairment.
> The letters are painfully self-explanatory. Here they are:
>                                ************
> [PHOTO/CAPTION: Rami Rabby]
> From: Avraham (Rami) Rabby, Tel-Aviv, Israel
> To: President Hu Jin Tao, People's Republic of China
>                                ************
> Dear Mr. President,
>      I am a blind person, retired from the diplomatic service of the U.S.
> Department of State and now living in Israel. On September 16, 2008, I
> traveled on an El-Al flight from Tel-Aviv to Hong Kong, where I joined a
> small group of sighted American friends, all of us associated to a greater
> or lesser degree with the Hadley School for the Blind, a highly renowned
> international correspondence school for the blind, which operates a 
> branch,
> Hadley/China, in Fuzhou. Our threefold purpose was to participate in the
> twentieth anniversary celebration of Hadley/China, to visit a number of
> other schools and service agencies for the blind and disabled, and to 
> spend
> some time sightseeing. I write to you because, on one occasion at the Hong
> Kong International Airport and on a second occasion at the Great Wall, I
> was subjected to profoundly demeaning and humiliating treatment by
> officials whose condescension toward the blind and low expectation of 
> their
> abilities were more egregious than any I have encountered elsewhere on my
> extensive international travels.
>      On the first occasion my fellow travelers and I were scheduled to fly
> from Hong Kong to Fuzhou on Dragonair flight 660 at 8:50 a.m. on Sunday,
> September 21. After boarding the aircraft, three of us, who were all
> assigned to the same row, agreed that I would sit in the aisle seat.
> Imagine my astonishment when one of the flight attendants ordered me to
> move to the window seat because, she said, "blind people must sit by the
> window." I asked why; she simply said that was the rule; so, in the 
> absence
> of any rational explanation, I declined to move. This exchange proved to 
> be
> just the beginning of an hour-long argument: I, on the one hand, 
> repeatedly
> asked for a rational explanation of the blind-by-the-window regulation,
>while, on the other hand, all members of the crew, including the captain,
> as well as other airport officials, adamantly refused to provide me with 
> an
> acceptable rationale. They did say the regulation was aimed at "the safety
> of passengers," apparently ignoring the fact that I too was a passenger
> with the same rights and safety needs as my sighted counterparts. I begged
> the captain to call his superiors and ask them for a rational explanation,
> but he repeatedly rejected my appeals and, instead, attempted in vain to
> embarrass me by telling me that I was preventing all my fellow passengers
> from reaching their destination, again ignoring the fact that I too was a
> passenger and that a senseless regulation was preventing me too from
> reaching my destination.
>      Finally, at approximately 9:50 a.m., the captain said he had no other
> option but to call the police, whereupon two officers of the Hong Kong
> Police boarded the aircraft, forcibly lifted me out of my seat, and 
> removed
> me from the plane. Jim Fruchterman, a member of our group, documented the
> incident with his camera and added a narrative of his own to the
> photographs, before posting the story on his blog
> (http://benetech.blogspot.com/2008/09/dragonair-hauls-rami-off-plane.html),
> which I have attached for your review.
>      Once I was in the passenger lounge, I asked the Dragonair staff to
> contact the Israeli Consulate in Hong Kong (since I was traveling on my
> Israeli passport) and, failing that, to notify the Israel Embassy in
> Beijing of the incident. There was no answer at the consulate, and the
> Dragonair staff refused to call the embassy. The Dragonair staff did
> contact Omer Kurlender, El-Al's security manager at Hong Kong 
> International
> Airport, who promptly came to see me. It is with his encouragement that I
> am writing this letter. However, more important, I also fell into
> conversation with Mr. Alaric Youd, an officer of the Hong Kong Police, who
> was the only person throughout this ordeal willing to say publicly what I
> had suspected all along, namely, that the reason Dragonair insists that
> blind passengers sit in window seats only is their fear that, in the case
> of an emergency evacuation during takeoff or landing, a blind passenger
> seated in an aisle seat would inevitably impede the rush of all sighted
> passengers toward the exits. If this is not the reason for Dragonair's
> blind-by-the-window regulation, please let me know what the real reason 
> is.
> May I take this opportunity to thank Officer Youd for his moral support 
> and
> to appeal to you and to the Hong Kong Police authorities that he not be
> punished for his candor and honesty.
>      Eventually the Dragonair staff told me they would schedule me on the
> next flight to Fuzhou, this time on China Eastern Airlines. I wondered if
> history was about to repeat itself, but, when I arrived at the China
> Eastern Airlines counter, the reservationist immediately asked "Would you
> like an aisle seat, a middle seat, or a window seat?" and added, "We have
> no regulation about where blind passengers should sit."
>      On the second occasion, on September 28, we were visiting the Great
> Wall. Like most members of our group, I decided not to walk up the Great
> Wall but rather chose the more leisurely transportation option of an
> individualized cable seat, much akin to seats on ski lifts familiar to
> blind skiers or to seats on ferris wheels, much loved by blind visitors to
> fairgrounds throughout the world. However, upon arriving at the admission
> gate, again imagine my astonishment when the gate agent barred my entry,
> declaring, "No blind people allowed." Alleging here too that the issue was
> one of safety, the officials in charge urged me to ride up the Great Wall
> on what they called "the special cable car for the blind," which was
> located some distance away. Having no alternative, I decided to try the 
> so-
> called special cable car for the blind, although I suspected this was
> nothing more than a ruse by the officials at the Great Wall to get rid of
> me; and indeed I was right. A sign at the embarkation point for the 
> special
> cable car for the blind read, "free cable car for leg-disabled." Not only
> that, but the place was deserted, and the free cable car for leg-disabled
> was not in operation, presumably pressed into service only when advanced
> notice is given of the arrival of a disabled tourist.
>      Mr. President, within the past three months China has staged what are
> generally regarded as the most impressive Olympic and Paralympic Games
> ever. While the whole world was watching, you showed us the best China has
> to offer. However, the two experiences I have related to you lead me to
> wonder if China's Olympic and Paralympic face was only its public face,
> and, if behind that public face there lurks a hidden reality which, at
> least for the blind and disabled, tells a different story far less
> wholesome and far less welcoming.
>      The fact is that the executives at Dragonair have no empirical
> evidence, only false assumptions, that blind airline passengers in an
> emergency evacuation would not be able to find the exits as quickly and
> efficiently as their sighted counterparts. Surely any of the blind
> Paralympics competitors could have convinced those executives that their
> argument is deeply flawed. I myself would be happy to demonstrate to them
> how fast the average blind person can move when necessary. And what about
> emergency evacuations from an airline cabin plunged into darkness or
> filling with smoke? In that situation blind passengers would not only move
> faster than those around them but would be able to take charge and lead
> fellow passengers to safety. But underlying Dragonair's 
> blind-by-the-window
> regulation is not only a false premise about the physical abilities of the
> blind but a far more disturbing implication, namely, that the lives of
> blind passengers are not as important as the lives of sighted passengers
> and that their need for survival is somehow not as urgent.
>      As for the exclusionary policy of the authorities at the Great Wall,
> it too reflects outdated notions about blindness and blind people that are
> utterly false and should be condemned by modern societies everywhere.
> Behind the advice given to me to use the free cable car for leg-disabled 
> is
> the traditional thinking that blind persons not only have dysfunctional
> eyes but dysfunctional legs too. Again one must ask how this myth still
> survives in a country which has just concluded hosting the Paralympic
> Games? Moreover, the free cable car for leg-disabled reflects that
> pernicious tendency on the part of so many authorities always to opt for
> segregative solutions rather than inclusive and integrative solutions when
> seeking to accommodate the perceived needs of people with disabilities.
>      Mr. President: it is my understanding that China has recently
> ratified the International Convention on the Rights of Persons with
> Disabilities. May I suggest that, if you wish to comply with the spirit of
> that Convention, you immediately embark upon a national drive to eliminate
> prejudice, discrimination, low expectation, and paternalism toward people
> with disabilities from all public life in China and replace them with a
> belief in the abilities of people with disabilities and with policies that
> demand equality of opportunities for them in the mainstream of Chinese
> society. I know that you have the capacity to do this because, during my
> visit to the Shanghai World Financial Center, I detected notations in
> Braille on the elevator panels of that magnificent building. All you now
> need to do is to inculcate that same message of welcome, equal access, and
> complete social integration in such unenlightened companies as Dragonair,
> at such national monuments as the Great Wall, and everywhere else in your
> otherwise wonderful country.
>                                 ************
> Sincerely,
> Avraham (Rami) Rabby
> CC:
> Mr. Guy Kivetz, Spokesman, Political & Press Officer, Embassy of Israel,
> Beijing
> Omer Kurlender, Security Manager, El Al - Hong Kong and Seoul
> Gary Oba, Consul, Consulate General of the United States of America,
> Guangzhou
> Larry Campbell, Chief Executive Officer, International Council for the
> Education of People With Visual Impairment
> Editor, The Economist
> Marc Maurer, President, National Federation of the Blind, USA
> Jane Connors, Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, United
> Nations, Geneva
> Maryanne Diamond, President, World Blind Union
> Ms. Maureen C. Y. Tam, Chief Executive, The Hong Kong Society for the 
> Blind
> Penny Hartin, Chief Executive Officer, World Blind Union
> United Press International
> Editor, Wall Street Journal Asia
> Chan Yau Chong, President, Hong Kong Union of the Blind
> Charles Young, President, Hadley School for the Blind
> Barbara Pierce, Editor, the Braille Monitor, National Federation of the
> Blind, USA
> Akiko Ito, Disabled Persons Unit, United Nations, New York
> Associated Press
> Dragonair (by fax)
>                                ************
> Email from Larry Campbell
>                                ************
>      Rami: Thanks for copying me on this. We need more people to speak out
> when situations like this occur. You may be aware that a few years ago,
> when Air Asia refused to board one of the members of our regional advisory
> committee in Jakarta, I raised quite a stink that got the community of
> disabled persons in Malaysia (and elsewhere in the region) really 
> activated
> and a protest rally in Kuala Lumpur (Air Asia's headquarters city), which
> resulted in a significant change in Air Asia policy and a public apology
> from the president of Air Asia for refusing to board blind passengers who
> are not accompanied by a sighted person. (They still have a quota on the
> number of unaccompanied blind passengers on a flight, which we later found
> out about.)
>      We were all feeling pretty good about the changes at Air Asia for a
> few months when we conducted a training program in Vietnam and another 
> low-
> cost Asian carrier refused to board Sugio (another Indonesian) because he
> was traveling alone. A sighted passenger stepped forward offering to
> accompany Sugio and was told that was fine with the airlines, but he would
> have to sign legal documents taking complete and full responsibility in
> case anything happened. The man then backed off, and Sugio was not allowed
> to board and had to stay and wait for a Garuda Indonesian flight to take
> him home.
>      In both cases, like you, these two were totally humiliated by the
> treatment they received. I am afraid our protests in the second case got
> nowhere, and we are still out of pocket for the additional airfare, to say
> nothing of the way Sugio had to suffer through this ordeal. With low-cost
> carriers springing up by the day, I feel like someone trying to press down
> a bubble in an air mattress: you press it down in one place, and it pops 
> up
> in another. The UN Convention should be a tool we can use more 
> effectively,
> but this is really going to take a coordinated, consistent, and long-term
> effort.
>      As for the Great Wall story, that is a new one to me. Please do keep
> me posted on this matter, and thanks again for sharing it with me.
>                                ------------
> [PHOTO/CAPTION: Stacy Cervenka]
>                  Blind Aide Raises the Bar of Expectations
>                               by Jordy Yager
>                                ************
>      From the Editor: The following story appeared in the Wednesday,
> September 24, 2008, issue of the Hill, a staff publication serving Senate
> and House employees in Washington. Stacy Cervenka is an active member of
> the National Federation of the Blind. Here is the text of the profile:
>                                   ************
>      It seemed like a regular Capitol tour: Statuary Hall, the old Supreme
> Court, the Capitol Rotunda, where John Trumbull's paintings, commissioned
> in 1817, hang, depicting the signing of the Declaration of Independence 
> and
> the surrender of General Burgoyne and Lord Cornwallis. The only
> irregularity to the tour was that it was unusually good, said one of
> Senator Sam Brownback's (R-Kan.) sightseeing constituents. Well, that and
> the fact that it was given by an aide to Brownback who is legally blind.
>      Stacy Cervenka, twenty-eight, has been visually impaired her entire
> life, but the condition has not stopped her from becoming Brownback's
> newest legislative assistant and one of the best tour guides in the 
> office.
> The Minnesotan first came to the senator's office as an intern in 2004, 
> and
> the senator hired her full-time eighteen months later. "My first day as an
> intern I was thinking that I would probably have to raise the bar of their
> expectations," Cervenka said. "I thought, they're probably not going to
> expect me to do much. They'll probably have me licking stamps or
> something."
>      Instead she was immediately sent to retrieve a chart from the
> printing and graphics department for a presentation Brownback was to give
> on the Senate floor. "I was like, 'Oh my gosh, I've only been here an 
> hour;
> I don't even know where that is,'" she recalled.
>      But she stepped up to the task, completed it, and has continually
> gained the trust and reliance of Brownback and her colleagues. Now she
> handles a host of legislative issues, including abortion, bioethics,
> education, disability rights, veterans' and Native American issues, crime
> and prisons, and healthcare. Brownback's office is known for having
> staffers and interns with atypical backgrounds. A fifth intern from the
> American Association of People with Disabilities recently finished a 
> stint,
> and interns from Sudan, Korea, and Israel have also graced the three-term
> senator's office. "I think the senator's office is always interested in
> hiring a diverse crop of interns," Cervenka said.
>      Cervenka admitted she was nervous when she first began giving tours,
> which she did daily as a staff assistant. "I was kind of concerned about
> how people would react to me when I said, 'Hi, I'm your tour guide; I'm
> blind,'" she said. "I mean, I don't say that, but I do come out with my
> cane, and I wondered whether they were going to say, 'Ugh, we don't really
> want to go with you.'" Thankfully, the only reaction she ever received was
> graciousness.
>      For the most part Cervenka no longer gives tours, although she'll
> still do it to honor a special request. For example, she recently led a
> tour for a group of blind teenagers from the Teen Empowerment Academy at
> the National Federation of the Blind. Cervenka is still known for giving
> one of the best tours on the Hill, and this, combined with her legislative
> work, has made her well-known.
>      When she's not working on the Hill, she volunteers for several blind
> groups across the country. At a recent National Federation of the Blind
> event in Dallas, she told a young girl that she worked in Brownback's
> office and would be leading them on a tour when they visited the Capitol
> the following week. The blind girl turned to Cervenka and said, "Do you
> know Stacy Cervenka, who works for Senator Brownback?"
>      "It was really funny," Cervenka said.
>      Cervenka travels to the Senate Hart Office Building by Metro,
> navigating the streets and the halls, which she said are mostly blind-
> friendly, with a cane. She has software on her computer that announces
> every action aloud and a Braille display with pins that pop up and down
> according to the letters in a word. "It's been really easy, and the office
> has been really great about getting me everything I need," she said.
>      In her more than two years on the Hill, Cervenka's fondest memory is
> when U2 lead singer Bono came to Brownback's office to speak with him 
> about
> helping people with AIDS in Africa. "They had gotten done with the 
> meeting,
> and people were milling around. I stuck out my hand just to say 'hi,' and
> he's all, 'Aw, give me a kiss!' and he threw his arms around me and gave 
> me
> a big kiss," Cervenka said.
>      While she loves her current job, she fantasizes about traveling the
> world, like Bono, in search of dynamic change. "My dream job would 
> honestly
> be as a reporter for National Geographic and to be in the middle of some
> rebellion in Botswana, but I don't think that's where I'm going," she 
> said.
>      Cervenka doesn't pretend that her other senses give her superhuman
> abilities, but she said they are quite fine-tuned, given her need to rely
> on them more frequently than other people do. "I wouldn't say that I have
> hearing like a dog. I use it to cross the street and to tell when people
> are coming, but I wouldn't say that they're bat senses," she said.
>      In her work on the Hill, Cervenka hopes she will be able to spread
> the awareness that people with disabilities are just as capable, if not
> more so, of handling workplace environments. "I get to meet people from a
> lot of different fields and talk about the issues that they want to 
> discuss
> with the senator," she said. "They get to see me as a blind person working
> in an office environment. I always hope, when they go back to Kansas or
> wherever they're from and a blind person were to apply for a job, they
> remember me and give that person a chance."
>                            ---------------------
>                  Important Notice About Target Settlement
>                                ************
> Attention Legally Blind Individuals Who Have Attempted to Visit Target.com
> While in California Since February 7, 2003:
>                                ************
>      You may be entitled to payment of money as part of a settlement of a
> lawsuit filed against Target concerning access to its Website. The
> settlement has been granted preliminary approval by the court in charge of
> the case. If you are a legally blind individual who tried to access
> Target.com while in California at any time since February 7, 2003, you may
> be eligible to be paid damages of up to $7,000. To find out more about the
> settlement and to submit a claim, please go to <www.NFBtargetlawsuit.com>
> and follow the instructions on this settlement Website. You may also
> request a claim form from the Claims Administrator, whose contact
> information is set forth below. Please provide your name, address, and
> phone number when you contact the Claims Administrator. All claims must be
> submitted on line by January 8, 2009, or by mail postmarked no later than
> January 8, 2009. Late claims may be denied.
>      All questions should be directed to the Claims Administrator. Please
> do not contact Target Corporation concerning this settlement. Contact
> information for Claims Administrator: NFB v. Target Claims Administrator,
> RG2 Claims Administration LLC, P.O. Box 59479, Philadelphia, PA 
> 19102-9479.
> Phone number: (866) 742-4955.
>                                ------------
> [PHOTO/CAPTION: Joyce Scanlan]
>                       Distinguished Educator of Blind
>                           Children Award for 2009
>                              by Joyce Scanlan
>                                ************
>>From the Editor: Joyce Scanlan chairs the committee to select the
> Distinguished Educator of Blind Children for 2009.
> The National Federation of the Blind will recognize an outstanding teacher
> of blind children at our 2009 convention next July. The winner of this
> award will receive an expense-paid trip to the convention, a check for
> $1,000, an appropriate plaque, and an opportunity to make a presentation
> about the education of blind children to the National Organization of
> Parents of Blind Children early in the convention.
> Anyone who is currently teaching or counseling blind students or
> administering a program for blind children is eligible to receive this
> award. It is not necessary to be a member of the National Federation of 
> the
> Blind to apply. However, the winner must attend the national convention.
> Teachers may be nominated by colleagues, supervisors, or friends. The
> letter of nomination should explain why the teacher is being recommended
> for this award.
> The education of blind children is one of our most important concerns.
> Attendance at a National Federation of the Blind convention will enrich a
> teacher's experience by affording him or her the opportunity to take part
> in seminars and workshops on educational issues, to meet other teachers 
> who
> work with blind children, to meet parents, and to meet blind adults who
> have had experiences in a variety of educational programs. Help us
> recognize a distinguished teacher by distributing this form and 
> encouraging
> teachers to submit their credentials. We are pleased to offer this award
> and look forward to applications from many well-qualified educators.
> Please complete the application and attach the following:
> 1. A letter of nomination from someone (parent, coworker, supervisor, 
> etc.)
>   who knows your work;
> 2. A letter of recommendation from someone who knows you professionally 
> and
>   knows your philosophy of teaching; and
> 3. A letter from you discussing your beliefs and approach to teaching 
> blind
>   students. In your letter you may wish to discuss topics such as the
>   following:
>    4. What are your views about when and how students should use Braille,
>       large print, tape recordings, readers, magnification devices,
>       computers, electronic notetakers, and other technology?
>    5. How do you decide whether a child should use print, Braille, or
>       both?
>    6. When do you recommend that your students begin instruction in the
>       use of a slate and stylus or a Braille writer?
>    7. How do you determine which students should learn cane travel (and
>       when) and which should not?
>    8. When should keyboarding be introduced?
>    9. When should a child be expected to hand in print assignments
>       independently?
>                                ************
>                      National Federation of the Blind
>               Distinguished Educator of Blind Children Award
>                              2009 Application
> Deadline: May 15, 2009
> Name: _______________________________________________________
> Home address: _________________________________________________
> City, State, Zip: ______________________________________________________
> Phone: (H) ____________________ (W) ____________________________
> Email: ______________________________________________________
> School: ______________________________________________________
> Address: _____________________________________________________
> City, State, Zip: _________________________________________________
> Use a separate sheet of paper and answer the following:
>   1. List your degrees, the institutions from which they were received, 
> and
>      your major area or areas of study.
>   2. How long and in what programs have you worked with blind children?
>   3. In what setting do you currently work?
>   4. Briefly describe your current job and teaching responsibilities.
>   5. Describe your current caseload (e.g., number of students, ages,
>      multiple disabilities, number of Braille-reading students).
> Attach the three required letters to this application, and send all
> material by May 15, 2009, to Joyce Scanlan, Chairperson, Teacher Award
> Committee, 5132 Queen Avenue S, Minneapolis, Minnesota 55410, (612) 920-
> 0959.
>                                ------------
> [PHOTO/CAPTION: David Ticchi]
>                  The 2009 Blind Educator of the Year Award
>                               by David Ticchi
>                                ************
>      From the Editor: Dr. David Ticchi is president of the NFB of
> Massachusetts and an experienced educator in his own right. He was named
> Blind Educator of the Year in 1998. He chairs the 2009 blind educator of
> the year award selection committee. This is what he says:
>                                ************
>      A number of years ago the Blind Educator of the Year Award was
> established by the National Organization of Blind Educators (the educators
> division of the National Federation of the Blind) to pay tribute to a 
> blind
> teacher whose exceptional classroom performance, notable community 
> service,
> and uncommon commitment to the NFB merit national recognition. Beginning
> with the 1991 presentation, this award became an honor bestowed by our
> entire movement. The change reflects our recognition of the importance of
> good teaching and the impact an outstanding blind teacher has on students,
> faculty, community, and all blind Americans.
>      This award is presented in the spirit of the outstanding educators
> who founded and have continued to nurture the National Federation of the
> Blind and who, by example, have imparted knowledge of our strengths to us
> and raised our expectations. We have learned from Dr. Jacobus tenBroek, 
> Dr.
> Kenneth Jernigan, and President Marc Maurer that a teacher not only
> provides a student with information but also provides guidance and
> advocacy. The recipient of the Blind Educator of the Year Award must
> exhibit all of these traits and must advance the cause of blind people in
> the spirit and philosophy of the National Federation of the Blind.
>      The Blind Educator of the Year Award is presented at the annual
> convention of the National Federation of the Blind. Honorees must be
> present to receive an appropriately inscribed plaque and a check for
> $1,000. Nominations should be sent to Dr. David A. Ticchi, 321 Harvard
> Street, Unit 306, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 02139. Letters of nomination
> must be accompanied by a copy of the nominee's current résumé and
> supporting documentation of community and Federation activity. All
> nomination materials must be in the hands of the committee chairman by May
> 1, 2009, to be considered for this year's award. For further information
> contact David Ticchi, (617) 530-9178.
>                                ------------
> [PHOTO/CAPTION: James McCarthy]
>              Social Security, SSI, and Medicare Facts for 2009
>                              by James McCarthy
>                                ************
>      From the Editor: Jim McCarthy is a government programs specialist for
> the National Federation of the Blind. He concentrates on Social Security
> issues and provides an annual summary of Social Security changes:
>                                ************
>      Once again we toast the passing of the old year while awaiting the
> new one. Along with the inevitable best-of lists and retrospectives, this
> inevitable passing of time is accompanied by annual adjustments to the
> Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), Supplemental Security Income
> (SSI), and Medicare programs. The changes include new tax rates, higher
> exempt earnings amounts, and SSDI and SSI cost of living increases, as 
> well
> as alterations to deductible and coinsurance requirements under Medicare.
> In 2007 upper income Americans began facing larger Medicare Part B 
> premiums
> than the majority of us. Below are the updated facts for 2009.
>                                ************
>                                  Tax Rates
>                                ************
>      FICA and Self-Employment Tax Rates: The FICA tax rate for employees
> and their employers remains at 7.65 percent. This rate includes payments 
> to
> the Old Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance (OASDI) Trust Fund of 6.2
> percent and an additional 1.45 percent payment to the Hospital Insurance
> (HI) Trust Fund, from which payments under Medicare are made. 
> Self-employed
> persons continue to pay a Social Security tax of 15.3 percent, which
> includes 12.4 percent paid to the OASDI Trust Fund and 2.9 percent paid to
> the HI Trust Fund.
>      Ceiling on Earnings Subject to Tax: During 2008 the ceiling on
> taxable earnings for contributions to the OASDI Trust Fund was $102,000.
> For 2009 the maximum amount of taxable earnings rises to $106,800. All
> earnings are taxed for the HI Trust Fund.
>                                ************
>                    Social Security Disability Insurance
>                                ************
>      Quarters of Coverage: Eligibility for Retirement, Survivors, and
> Disability Insurance (RSDI) benefits is partially based on the number of
> quarters of coverage earned by any individual during periods of work.
> Anyone may earn up to four quarters of coverage in a single year. During
> 2008 a Social Security quarter of coverage was credited for earnings of
> $1,050 in any calendar quarter. Anyone who earned $4,200 for 2008
> (regardless of when the earnings occurred during the year) received four
> quarters of coverage. In 2009 a Social Security quarter of coverage will 
> be
> credited for earnings of $1,090 during a calendar quarter. Four quarters
> will be earned with annual earnings of $4,360.
>      Trial Work Period Limit: The amount of earnings required to use a
> trial work month is subject to annual increases. In 2008 the amount was
> $670, and in 2009 it rises to $700. In cases of self-employment, a trial
> work month can also be used if a person works more than eighty hours, and
> this limitation on hours worked will not change unless expressly adjusted.
>      Exempt Earnings: The monthly earnings exemption referred to as
> Substantial Gainful Activity for blind people who receive disability
> insurance benefits was $1,570 of gross earned income during 2008. In 2009
> earnings of $1,640 or more per month, before taxes, for a blind SSDI
> beneficiary will indicate substantial gainful activity once any unearned
> (or subsidy) income is subtracted and all deductions for 
> impairment-related
> work expenses are applied.
>      Social Security Benefit Amounts: All Social Security benefits are
> increased by the largest cost of living adjustment (COLA) since 1982-5.8
> percent beginning with checks received in January 2009. The precise
> increase will vary based upon the amount each individual now receives.
>                                ************
>                        Supplemental Security Income
>                                ************
>      Standard SSI Benefit Increase: Beginning January 2009, the federal
> payment amounts for SSI individuals and couples are as follows:
> individuals, $674 per month; SSI couples, $1,011 per month. These amounts
> are increased over the 2008 level of $637 per month for individuals and
> $956 per month for SSI couples.
>      Student Earned Income Exclusion: The Student Earned Income Exclusion
> is adjusted each year. In 2008 the monthly amount was $1,550, and the
> maximum yearly amount was $6,240. For 2009 these amounts increase to 
> $1,640
> per month and $6,600 per year. The SSI program applies strict asset
> (resource) limits of $2,000 for individuals and $3,000 for SSI couples,
> which can be changed only by Congress.
>                                ************
>                                  Medicare
>                                ************
>      Medicare Deductibles and Coinsurance: Medicare Part A coverage
> provides hospital insurance to most Social Security beneficiaries. The
> coinsurance payment is the charge that the hospital makes to a Medicare
> beneficiary for any hospital stay. Medicare then pays the hospital charges
> above the beneficiary's coinsurance amount.
>      The Part A coinsurance amount charged for hospital services within a
> benefit period of not longer than sixty days was $1,024 during 2008, with
> an increase to $1,068 in 2009. From the sixty-first day through the
> ninetieth day there is a daily coinsurance amount of $267 per day, up from
> $256 in 2008. Each Medicare beneficiary has sixty lifetime reserve days
> that may be used after a ninety-day benefit period has ended. Once used,
> after any benefit period, these reserve days are no longer available. The
> coinsurance amount to be paid during each reserve day used in 2009 is 
> $534,
> up from $512 in 2008.
>      Part A of Medicare pays all covered charges for services in a skilled
> nursing facility for the first twenty days within a benefit period that
> follows a three-day in-hospital stay. From the twenty-first day through 
> the
> one hundredth day in a benefit period the Part A coinsurance amount for
> services received in a skilled nursing facility will be $133.50 per day, 
> up
> from $128 per day in 2008.
>      Most beneficiaries have no monthly premium charge for Medicare Part A
> coverage. Those who become ineligible for SSDI cash benefits can continue
> to receive Medicare Part A coverage premium-free for at least ninety-three
> months, after the end of a trial work period. After that time the
> individual may purchase Part A coverage. The premium rate for this 
> coverage
> during 2009 will be $443 per month. This is reduced to $244 for 
> individuals
> who have earned from thirty to thirty-nine quarters of Social-Security-
> covered employment.
>      In 2009 the Medicare Part B (medical insurance) deductible is $135,
> as it was in 2008. This is an annual deductible amount. The Medicare Part 
> B
> monthly premium rate charged to each beneficiary for the year 2009 remains
> at $96.40, making this the first year since 2000 that there has not been 
> an
> increase. For those receiving Social Security benefits, this premium
> payment is deducted from your monthly benefit checks. Individuals who
> remain eligible for Medicare, but are not receiving Social Security
> benefits because of working, must pay the Part B premium directly on a
> quarterly basis-one payment every three months. Like the Part A premiums
> mentioned above, Part B is also available for at least ninety-three months
> following the Trial Work Period assuming an individual wishes to have it
> and, when not receiving SSDI, continues to make quarterly premium 
> payments.
>      Americans with higher incomes now pay higher Part B premium amounts,
> based on their income. For singles the 2009 income threshold for higher
> premium amounts is income that exceeds $85,000, and for couples filing
> jointly the 2009 threshold is $170,000. It is estimated that 5 percent of
> Americans are affected by these higher premium amounts mandated by the
> Medicare Modernization Act. If you believe you may be affected, you should
> contact the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). (The contact
> information is given below.)
>      Programs That Help with Medicare Deductibles and Premiums: Low-income
> Medicare beneficiaries may qualify for help with payments. Assistance is
> available through two programs-the QMB (Qualified Medicare Beneficiary
> program) and the SLMB (Specified Low-Income Medicare Beneficiary program).
> For the QMB program an individual's income cannot exceed 100 percent of 
> the
> Federal Poverty Guidelines, also called the Federal Poverty Level.
> Individuals qualify for the SLMB program when income is greater than 100
> percent, but less than 120 percent, of the Federal Poverty Guidelines. The
> newest guidelines will be announced in February or March of 2009;
> additionally, Alaska and Hawaii have higher amounts than are applicable to
> forty-eight of the fifty states and the District of Columbia.
>      Under the QMB program states are required to pay the Medicare Part A
> (Hospital Insurance) and Part B (Medical Insurance) premiums, deductibles,
> and coinsurance expenses for Medicare beneficiaries who meet the program's
> income and resource requirements. Under the SLMB program states pay only
> the full Medicare Part B monthly premium. Eligibility for the SLMB program
> may be retroactive for up to three calendar months.
>      Both the QMB and SLMB programs are administered by the Centers for
> Medicare and Medicaid Services in conjunction with the states. The rules
> vary from state to state, but the following can be said:
>      Resources, such as bank accounts or stocks, may not exceed $4,000 for
> one person or $6,000 for a family of two. Resources generally are things
> you own. However, not everything is counted. The house you live in, for
> example, doesn't count; and generally one car also doesn't count.
>      If you qualify for assistance under the QMB program, you will not
> have to pay:
> 1. Medicare's hospital deductible amount, which is $1,068 per benefit
>    period in 2009;
> 2. The daily coinsurance charges for extended hospital and skilled nursing
>    facility stays;
> 3. The Medicare Medical Insurance (Part B) premium, which is $96.40 per
>    month in 2009;
> 4. The $135 annual Part B deductible;
> The 20 percent coinsurance for services covered by Medicare Part B,
> depending on which doctor you go to.
> If you qualify for assistance under the SLMB program, you will be
> responsible for the payment of all of the items listed above except for 
> the
> $96.40 monthly Part B premium.
>      If you think you qualify but you have not filed for Medicare Part A,
> contact Social Security to find out if you need to file an application.
> Further information about filing for Medicare is available from your local
> Social Security office or Social Security's toll-free number (800) 772-
> 1213.
>      Remember that only your state can decide if you are eligible for help
> from the QMB or SLMB program and also that the income and resource levels
> listed here are general guidelines with some states choosing greater
> amounts. Therefore, if you are elderly or disabled, have low income and
> very limited assets, and are a Medicare beneficiary, contact your state or
> local Medicaid office (referred to in some states as the Public Aid Office
> or the Public Assistance Office) to apply. For more information about
> either program, call the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS)
> on its toll-free telephone number (800) 633-4227, or go online to
> <http://www.cms.hhs.gov/ContactCMS>.
>                                ------------
>                                   Recipes
>                                ************
>      This month's recipes come from members of the NFB of Pennsylvania.
> They thought briefly of collecting healthy recipes for holiday vegetables
> and appetizers that you can graze on and never gain a pound. Then reality
> set in, and they decided to provide their favorite holiday cookies and
> desserts, reasoning that everyone loves to try a brand new cookie recipe.
> So, if you are among the virtuous who can pass up tempting holiday treats,
> you too can safely enjoy reading the following collection of Pennsylvania
> favorites.
>                                ************
>                      Chocolate Chip Shortbread Cookies
>                              by Pat Antonacci
>                                ************
>      Pat Antonacci is the wife of NFB of Pennsylvania President Jim
> Antonacci. She is one of those people who are always in the background
> helping to further the NFB's mission. Her father was a professional baker,
> and these goodies are from his files.
>                                ************
> Ingredients:
> 1/2 cup butter, softened
> 1/2 cup sugar
> 1-1/4 teaspoons vanilla
> 1 cup flour
> 1/4 teaspoon salt
> 1/2 cup chocolate chips
>                                ************
>      Method: Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Beat butter and sugar in large
> bowl until fluffy. Add vanilla. Combine flour and salt and add slowly. 
> When
> these are totally incorporated, stir in chocolate chips. Divide dough in
> half and press each part into a greased eight-inch round cake pan. Bake
> twelve minutes until edges are golden brown. Cool, remove from pans, and
> cut.
>                                ------------
>                              Oatmeal Chippers
>                              by Pat Antonacci
>                                ************
> Ingredients:
> 1/2 cup butter or margarine
> 1/2 cup shortening
> 1 cup sugar
> 1 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
> 2 eggs
> 1-1/4 teaspoon vanilla
> 2 cups sifted flour
> 1 teaspoon baking soda
> 1 teaspoon salt
> 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
> 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
> 2 cups quick-cooking rolled oats
> 1 6-ounce package semi-sweet chocolate morsels
> 1 cup chopped walnuts, optional
>                                ************
>      Method: Cream together butter and shortening. Gradually add sugars
> and beat until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Blend in sifted
> dry ingredients, mixing thoroughly. Stir in oats, chocolate chips, and
> nuts. Drop by rounded spoonfuls two inches apart onto greased baking 
> sheet.
> Bake in pre-heated 375-degree oven for nine to twelve minutes. Remove and
> cool. Makes eight dozen.
>                                ------------
>                            Sour Cream Apple Pie
>                              by Pat Antonacci
>                                ************
> Ingredients:
> 2 eggs
> 1 cup (8 ounces) sour cream
> 1 cup sugar
> 6 tablespoons all-purpose flour, divided
> 1 teaspoon vanilla
> 1/4 teaspoon salt
>1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
> 3 cups cooking apples, peeled and chopped (Granny Smith preferred)
> 1 unbaked pie shell
> 3 tablespoons butter or margarine
>                                ************
>      Method: In large bowl beat eggs and sour cream. Stir in sugar and mix
> well. Add salt and two tablespoons flour. Mix well. Stir in apples. Pour
> into pie shell. Mix butter, brown sugar, and remaining four tablespoons of
> flour to make crumbs and set aside. Bake pie for fifteen minutes at 375
> degrees, then sprinkle crumb mixture on top and bake an additional twenty-
> five minutes, till apples are tender when pierced with a table knife. Cool
> on a rack and serve.
>                                ------------
>                           Holiday Touch Brownies
>                       by Chuck and Esther Morgenstern
>                                ************
>      Chuck is the treasurer of the NFB of Pennsylvania, and Esther
> operates her own Randolph-Sheppard vending stand.
>                                ************
> Ingredients:
> 1 package Betty Crocker brownie mix
> 3/4 cup Hershey's mint chocolate chips
> 3/4 cup walnuts, chopped
>                                ************
>      Method: Prepare brownies according to package directions, but add
> mint chocolate chips and chopped walnuts. Bake as directed.
>                                ------------
>                         Gingerbread Cutout Cookies
>                       by Chuck and Esther Morgenstern
>                                ************
> Ingredients:
> 1 box of gingerbread cake and cookie mix
> 1/4 cup hot water from tap
> 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
> 2 tablespoons margarine or butter, melted
>                                ************
>      Method: Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a medium bowl stir together
> box of cake and cookie mix and one-fourth cup hot water. Stir in flour and
> margarine or butter using spoon until homogeneous dough is formed. Divide
> dough in half. Place half on a floured, cloth-covered surface. If dough is
> too soft to roll, cover and refrigerate for about one hour. Roll dough to
> one-eighth-inch thickness for crisp or one-fourth-inch for chewy cookies.
> Cut into your favorite holiday shapes with floured cookie cutters. Place 
> on
> ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for six to nine minutes or until edges are
> firm. Do not overbake. Cool one minute before removing from cookie sheet.
> Decorate with prepared icing.
>                                ------------
>                             Butter Pecan Balls
>                              by Connie Johnson
>                                ************
>      Connie Johnson is the secretary of the NFB of Pennsylvania and the
> president of the Erie County Chapter. Connie is also employed full-time by
> the Social Security Administration.
>                                ************
> Ingredients:
> 1 cup (2 sticks) butter or margarine, softened
> 1/2 cup sugar
> 1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla
> 1 cup pecans, chopped medium fine
> 2 cups sifted flour
> Confectioner's sugar
>                                ************
>      Method: Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Put butter or margarine in
> mixing bowl and mix until fluffy. Gradually add sugar and vanilla. Add
> pecans and stir well. Add flour, a quarter cup at a time. Dough will be
> stiff, but do not add liquid. Shape into one-inch balls and place 
> one-and-a-
> half inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for fifteen to
> eighteen minutes, or until cookies have browned lightly around the edges.
> While still warm, roll in confectioner's sugar. Yields five dozen cookies.
>                                ------------
>                        Crackle Top Molasses Cookies
>                              by Connie Johnson
>                                ************
> Ingredients:
> 3/4 cup shortening
> 1 teaspoon soda
> 1/2 teaspoon salt
> 2 teaspoons ground ginger
> 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
> 1 cup sugar
> 1/4 cup unsulphured molasses
> 1 large egg
> 2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
> Granulated sugar
>                                ************
>      Method: Combine first five ingredients in mixing bowl. Gradually
> blend in one cup sugar, mixing well after each addition. Beat in molasses
> and egg. Stir in flour, a half cup at a time. Chill dough two to three
> hours, overnight, or until dough is stiff enough to handle. Shape dough
> into three-fourth-inch balls. Dip the tops in granulated sugar. Place 
> balls
> on a greased cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for ten to twelve minutes 
> or
> until bottoms have browned lightly. Yields about three dozen cookies.
>                                ------------
>                        No-Bake Peanut Butter Cookies
>                              by Connie Johnson
>                                ************
> Ingredients:
> 1 stick butter or margarine
> 2 cups sugar
> 1/2 cup water
> Pinch salt
> 1 teaspoon vanilla
> 1 cup crunchy peanut butter
> 3 to 4 cups quick oats
>                                ************
>      Method: Combine first four ingredients and allow to boil for one-and-
> a-half minutes. Add remaining ingredients and stir together. Drop by
> teaspoonfuls onto wax paper. Cool and enjoy.
>                                ------------
>                               Pumpkin Muffins
>                                by Lynn Heitz
>                                ************
>      Lynn Heitz is the first vice president of the NFB of Pennsylvania and
> a two-time NFB national scholarship winner. She is employed with the 
> Office
> of Long Term Living of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
>                                ************
> Ingredients:
> 2 medium eggs
> 3 cups flour
> 1 cup brown sugar
> 1 cup milk
> 1 cup canned pumpkin
> 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
> 2 tablespoons sugar
> 4 teaspoons baking powder
> 1 teaspoon salt
> 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
> 1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
> 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
> 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
> 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
> 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
>                                ************
>      Method: Mix all ingredients together. Fill muffin tin cups almost to
> top. Bake at 325 degrees for twenty-five minutes. Makes about fifteen
> muffins.
>                                ------------
>                             Pumpkin Cheesecake
>                                by Lynn Heitz
>                                ************
> Ingredients:
> 1 9-inch pie shell
> 6 ounces cream cheese, softened
> 3/4 cup cooked pumpkin
> 2 medium eggs
> 1-1/2 cups sugar
> 1/4 cup flour
> 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
> 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
>                                ************
>      Method: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Beat cream cheese, eggs, and
> sugar together until mixture is smooth. Add pumpkin. Stir in flour, 
> nutmeg,
> and cinnamon. Beat well. Pour mixture into unbaked pie shell and bake one
> hour or until table knife comes out clean when inserted in center.
>                                ------------
>                             Caramel Apple Tart
>                                by Sue Wilcox
>                                ************
>      Sue Wilcox has been a volunteer reader at the NFB of Pennsylvania for
> many years. She is a retired rehab counselor from the blindness system.
>                                ************
> Ingredients:
> 1 unbaked packaged refrigerated piecrust. (Let stand according to package
> directions.)
> 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
> 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
> 1 teaspoon finely shredded lemon peel
> 2 medium tart green apples, peeled, cored, and cut into 1/2-inch-thick
> slices
> 1/2 cup caramel apple dip
> 1/2 cup pecans, chopped
> 1/4 cup apple jelly
> Powdered sugar
>                                ************
>      Method: In a bowl combine granulated sugar, cinnamon, and lemon peel.
> Add apple slices, tossing to coat. Place unfolded piecrust on a large
> baking sheet. Spread caramel apple dip over crust to within two inches of
> edges. Place apple mixture on top of caramel. Sprinkle with nuts. Fold
> edges of crust two inches up and over apples, crimping edges as necessary.
> Bake in preheated 425-degree oven twenty minutes or until crust is golden
>brown and apples are just tender. Meantime, in a small saucepan melt apple
> jelly over low heat. Brush melted jelly over entire tart and edges.
> Sprinkle with powdered sugar. Bake for one hour. Serve warm. Makes eight
> servings.
>                                ------------
>      Monitor Miniatures
>                                ************
>      News from the Federation Family
>                                ************
>                                ************
> Elected:
>      The Minnesota parents division held elections on Friday, October 10.
> The results are as follows: president, Carrie Gilmer; vice president,
> Brenda Johnson; secretary, Dorie Miller; treasurer, Phillip Richardson; 
> and
> board members, Jean Bening and Sue Kress.
>      They also made plans to create a flyer about Minnesota Parents of
> Blind Children, Saturday School, and Teen Night to insert in the affiliate
> brochure and distribute to doctors' offices, diabetic and oncology 
> clinics,
> and hospitals. They formed a team to revive the division newsletter. They
> plan to hold informal technology fairs for parents and students 
> separately,
> where parents can get informal, one-to-one help from NFB members 
> throughout
> the year in two-hour workshops without having to plan large seminars
> dealing with the logistics of food, funding, childcare, etc. Finally, the
> group has made plans for blind teens to mentor the students at Saturday
> School. Minnesota parents are on the move!
>                                ************
> Elected:
>      Elections for 2009 officers were conducted October 11 at the monthly
> meeting of the Blackhawk Chapter of the NFB of Illinois. The results were
> as follows: president, Bob Gardner; vice president, Lois Montgomery;
> treasurer, Kathy Abbott; secretary, Donna Miles; and board members, 
> Patrick
> Olson, Don Carey, and Jay Blanchard.
>                                ************
> Imagination Fund March for Independence:
>      Joe Ruffalo, Imagination Fund steering committee member and NFB of
> New Jersey president, writes as follows: As you know, I love to keep it
> simple. If you take the first letter from each of the words "Imagination
> Fund," you make the word "IF."
> IF we all tried harder to make contacts.
> IF we all worked toward a plan.
> IF we showed leadership in informing the public of our mission.
> IF we concentrated on the same target.
> IF we dreamed of our possibilities.
> IF we keep believing, dreaming, and learning..
>      The Imagination Fund gives everyone in our organization the
> opportunity to make a difference. If you are ready to participate, 
> register
> now at <www.MarchForIndependence.org>.
> Top Ten Teams in 2008
> Greater Baltimore Chapter Team, $2,507
> Idaho Lamplighters, $2,640
> Ruff Ruff Pet Care, $2,665
> Junior Blind Olympic Friends, $2,678.75
> Minnesota Brass, $2,820
> Team Mackenzie, $2,972.77
> Mattie's Menehune Marchers, $3,045
> Voice of the Diabetic Team, $4,485
> Empowerment, $26,797
> The Imaginators, $29,285
> Top Twelve States in 2008 Contest
> California, $7,820.75
> Minnesota, $8,090
> Iowa, $9,201
> Ohio, $9,370
> Illinois, $10,148
> Virginia, $13,718
> New Jersey, $14,274
> Texas, $16,589
> Florida, $16,747
> Louisiana, $24,577
> Colorado, $48,455
> Maryland, $108,630.82
>                                ************
> Elected:
>      The NFB of California held elections at its annual convention in
> Irvine, California, on October 19, 2008. The following people were elected
> to the board: president, Mary Willows; first vice president, Nicolas
> Crisosto; second vice president, Robert Stigile; secretary, Shannon 
> Dillon;
> treasurer, Jonathan Lyens; and board members, Tiffany Manosh, Ever Lee
> Hairston, and Lisamaria Martinez.
>                                ************
> Elected:
>      The NFB of Ohio conducted its election of officers on November 2,
> 2008. Elected were president, J. Webster Smith; first vice president, Eric
> Duffy; second vice president, Barbara Fohl; secretary, Deborah Kendrick;
> treasurer, Sherry Ruth; and board members Crystal McClain and Bruce 
> Peters.
> By acclamation the Convention voted to confer the title of president
> emerita upon retiring president Barbara Pierce, who served twenty-four
> years as president and who had been a board member since the late
> seventies.
>                                ************
> Job Available:
>      The National Federation of the Blind of Ohio is accepting
> applications for its position of director of field services. This person
> will work closely with the affiliate president to carry out day-to-day
> organizational duties. These will include but are not limited to working
> with members of the legislature on matters of importance to the organized
> blind; representing the NFB at meetings in the blindness field; assisting,
> advising, and advocating for blind consumers and parents of blind 
> children;
> and offering support to NFB members and chapters across the state.
>      Interested candidates should use access technology efficiently; write
> effectively; be interested in the political process and issues in the
> blindness field; have some experience working with people; travel
> independently; and be able to use initiative, seek guidance, and
> distinguish when to do which. The applicant chosen must be willing to
> relocate to Columbus, Ohio.
>      This is probably an entry-level position. To some degree it will come
> to reflect the individual skills and interests of the person hired.
> Applicants must understand and embrace the NFB's philosophy of blindness.
> The candidate chosen will work closely with the NFB of Ohio president,
> first vice president, and president emerita.
>      The salary is negotiable, depending on experience, but is likely to
> start at about $33,000. Benefits are included. Candidates are welcome to
> apply until the position is filled. If interested, send résumé, cover
> letter discussing strengths and significant experience, and the names and
> contact information of two people with whom we can discuss your candidacy
> to Dr. J. Webster Smith, P.O. Box 458, Athens, Ohio 45701-0458. Documents
> may be emailed to <Jsmith1 at ohiou.edu>. Those interested in discussing the
> position with its previous holder may call Eric Duffy evenings at (614) 
> 562-
> 5524 or J.W. Smith at (740) 592-6326.
>                                ************
> [PHOTO/CAPTION: Terry Bradshaw]
> Terry Bradshaw to Serve as National Ambassador for Braille Literacy:
>      The National Federation of the Blind announced November 3 that Terry
> Bradshaw, Hall of Fame NFL quarterback and current football analyst and
> cohost of FOX NFL Sunday, will serve as a National Ambassador for Braille
> Literacy. As an ambassador Terry will help advance the NFB's Braille
> Readers Are Leaders campaign, a national initiative to promote the
> importance of reading and writing Braille for blind children and adults.
> The Braille Readers Are Leaders campaign kicked off in July of 2008 with
> the unveiling of the design of a commemorative coin to be minted in 2009 
> in
> recognition of the two hundredth anniversary of the birth of Louis Braille
> (1809-1852), the inventor of the reading and writing code for the blind
> that bears his name.
>      Dr. Marc Maurer, president of the National Federation of the Blind,
> said: "The National Federation of the Blind is pleased to have Terry
> Bradshaw as part of this historic initiative to bring Braille literacy to
> all of the blind children and adults in America who need it. As one of the
> most popular personalities in America, Terry Bradshaw will surely have a
> huge impact as a national spokesperson for Braille literacy. There can be
> no doubt that the ability to read and write Braille competently and
> efficiently is the key to education, employment, and success for the 
> blind.
> Despite the undisputed value of Braille, however, only about 10 percent of
> blind children in the United States are currently learning it. Society
> would never accept a 10 percent literacy rate among sighted children; it
> should not accept such an outrageously low literacy rate among the blind.
> The Braille Readers Are Leaders campaign, with the support of influential
> Americans like Terry Bradshaw, will reverse the downward trend in Braille
> literacy and ensure that equal opportunities in education and employment
> are available to all of the nation's blind."
>      Terry Bradshaw said: "I am honored and pleased to serve as a national
> ambassador for the Braille Readers Are Leaders campaign. I strongly 
> believe
> in the importance of literacy for everyone, and I am excited to help make 
> a
> difference in the lives of blind children and adults throughout the
> country."
>      For more information about the Braille Readers Are Leaders campaign
> and the Louis Braille commemorative coin, please visit <www.braille.org>.
>                                ************
> Elected:
>      The NFB of Washington conducted its affiliate elections on November
> 2, 2008, with the following results: president, Michael Freeman; first 
> vice
> president, Kris Lawrence; second vice president, Maria Bradford; 
> secretary,
> Don Mitchell; treasurer, Doug Johnson; and board members, Kyle Parrish and
> Ben Prows serving two-year terms, and Gary Mackenstadt and Bob Sellers
> serving one-year terms, replacing Maria Bradford and Doug Johnson.
>                                ************
> NFB Writers Division Contests for Youth and Adults:
>      The dates for the 2009 Writers Division contests are January 1
> through (postmarked) April 1. A great new feature this year is that, in
> addition to our annual short story fiction and poetry contest for adults,
> we have added a writing contest for youth. See all requirements below.
>      The Youth Writing Contest is intended to promote Braille literacy and
> excellence in creative writing. Entries will be judged on creativity and
> quality of Braille. We are looking for creative writing in fiction and
> poetry. This is a contest for students who use Braille. Entries must be
> submitted in hand-embossed Braille, using either a slate and stylus or a
> Braillewriter. No computer Braille entries will be considered. Submissions
> must be Brailled by the entrant. Elementary students (K-5) may submit
> contracted Braille, uncontracted Braille, or an acceptable combination of
> the two. Students in higher grades will be expected to submit stories or
> poetry in contracted Braille.
>      There are six categories: elementary fiction, elementary poetry,
> middle school fiction, middle school poetry, high school fiction, and high
> school poetry. Elementary is K-5. Middle school is 6-8. High school is 9-
> 12.
>      Three cash prizes will be awarded in each of the six categories.
> First prize per contest is $25, second prize is $15, and third prize is 
> $5.
> Submissions for fiction may not exceed one thousand words. Poetry may not
> exceed twenty lines. Authors may submit multiple entries, and all work 
> must
> be original and unpublished. Each entrant must provide an identical print
> copy for possible publication.
>      Entries must be accompanied by a cover sheet containing entrant's
> name, address, phone, email, entry title, and school and grade of entrant.
> Winners will be announced at our division meeting during the July 2009 NFB
> national convention in Detroit, Michigan. Send all youth entries to Fred
> Wurtzel, 1212 N. Foster, Lansing, Michigan, 48912.
>      The NFB Writers Division adult short story and poetry contests will
> take place during the same period as the youth contest: January 1 through
> April 1. Top prize in each contest is $100, second prize is $50, and third
> prize is $25. Winners will be announced at our division meeting during the
> July 2009 NFB national convention in Detroit.
>      Short stories can be up to 3,000 words and can be in any genre. All
> work must be original and previously unpublished. If you wish to submit,
> you are required to send a cover sheet listing all entry titles, name,
> address, phone, and email (if available). All documents must be double
> spaced, and, if you are sending hardcopy, documents cannot be handwritten.
> The cost to submit a single story is $5.00. You can send either a check or
> money order made out to the NFB Writers Division.
>      Submissions may be hardcopy with check enclosed. Send these to Tom
> Stevens, 1203 S. Fairview Road, Columbia, Missouri 65203. You may also
> email submissions with cover letter to <cthls at earthlink.net>. Payment for
> electronic submissions can be by PayPal if arrangements have been made by
> then, so check the division Website, 
> <http://www.nfb-writers-division.org>.
> If you must mail the check, use Tom Stevens's address above.
>      Entrants are invited to submit original poetry of up to thirty-six
> lines. If you wish to submit, you must send a cover sheet listing all 
> entry
> titles, name, address, phone, and email (if available). All documents must
> be double spaced and may not be handwritten. The cost is $5 for up to 3
> poems. Send your check or money order made out to the NFB Writers 
> Division.
>      Send hardcopy submissions and checks by mail to Lori Stayer, 2704
> Beach Drive, Merrick, New York 11566. You can also email submissions and
> cover letters to <LoriStay at aol.com>. The entry fee can be paid using 
> PayPal
> if available or mailed to Lori at the above address.
>                                ************
> Elected:
>      The NFB of Indiana conducted its convention October 31 to November 2,
> 2008. The Parents Division elected new officers as follows: president, Jan
> Wright; vice president, Nancy Cole; secretary, Lisa Rodriguez; and
> treasurer, Chris Hollingsworth.
>                                ************
> Congratulations:
>      As we were going to press, we received the following announcement
> circulated to the staff at the National Center for the Blind. It will be 
> of
> interest to everyone in the Federation family.
>      On Thursday, November 6, 2008, Anne Taylor took her oath to become a
> United States citizen. We have always been proud of Anne's many
> accomplishments and contributions as the director of our International
> Braille and Technology Center for the Blind, but this has to rank as a
> personal milestone for this competent and personable native of Thailand.
> May she prosper and continue her immeasurably valuable expertise and
> commitment to our nation.
>                                ************
> Elected:
>      The Illinois Association of Blind Students held its election of
> officers and board during our fall business meeting in Bradley, Illinois,
> at the state convention. The new board members are president, Aly
> Slaughter; first vice president, Michelle Wesley; second vice president,
> Brandi Winecki; secretary, Aricelli Avina; treasurer, Ronza Othman; and
> board members, Debbie Stein and Cassandra Certeza.
>                                ************
>      In Brief
>                                ************
>      Notices and information in this section may be of interest to Monitor
> readers. We are not responsible for the accuracy of the information; we
> have edited only for space and clarity.
>                                ************
> Braille T-Shirts Available:
>      Introducing Braille Tees--the clothing line that naturally raises
> awareness and engages others in lively conversation. Braille Tees reveal
> their message in uncontracted (Grade I) Braille so that beginning Braille
> and nonBraille readers can follow letter by letter. Braille Tees come with
> many sayings and in many styles and colors, and we print on only the best-
> quality garments available on the market. We can put Braille on any
> printable surface and also accommodate custom orders. A portion of every 
> t-
> shirt sold goes to charity, so call today to set up a fundraiser or sale,
> and be sure to ask about wholesale pricing. For more information visit us
> at <www.BrailleTees.com>, or call us toll-free at (877) 410-9866. You're
> going to love these tees.
>                                ************
> [PHOTO/CAPTION: Leading the Way students raft down the Colorado River.]
> [PHOTO/CAPTION: The 2008 Grand Canyon expedition team poses for a group
> photo.]
> Leading the Way Invites Applicants for 2009:
>      If you knew one trip could change your life, would you take it? Last
> summer twelve students, six of them blind or visually impaired, embarked 
> on
> a truly life-changing adventure: rafting the Grand Canyon. They spent two
> weeks shattering expectations and using adversity to their advantage as
> they explored science, culture, leadership, and service within the canyon
> walls.
>      Developed in partnership with world-renowned blind athlete Erik
> Weihenmayer, the Leading the Way program teams high school and college
> students who are blind, visually impaired, and sighted for an unparalleled
> science, community service, leadership, and cultural adventure. In 2008 we
> traveled to the Grand Canyon, the Inca Trail, and the Amazon. In 2009 we
> are returning to the Grand Canyon and piloting our first group combining
> students who are hard of hearing, deaf, and hearing on a trip to Costa
> Rica.
>      Not only an amazing experience for the participants themselves, each
> Leading the Way expedition is paired with a social awareness and media
> campaign used to educate a much broader constituency. These campaigns
> provide a message of hope and inspiration while helping to break down
> barriers, misconceptions, and prejudices about people with disabilities.
> Leading the Way has been featured on CBS Sunday Morning, The Travel
> Channel, ABC Nightline, and World News Tonight.
>      To see if spots are still available on the 2009 Leading the Way
> expedition, send an email to <leadingtheway at globalexplorers.org>.
> Scholarship funds are available. To learn more about the program, go to
> <www.globalexplorers.org> and click on Leading the Way under the main
> photo.
>                                ************
> City Off Limits to Blind Thief:
>      On October 6, 2008, the Edinburgh Evening News published the
> following story:
>      A blind shoplifter from Glasgow has been banned by a court from
> entering Edinburgh city center. George Hamilton, forty-nine, reportedly
> faces being locked up if he is found in any shops, bars, or restaurants in
> the center of the capital over the next twelve months. The ban was handed
> down when he made his latest appearance in court for shoplifting and the
> sheriff heard he had ninety-six previous convictions.
>      Hamilton, who lost his sight in 1990, relies on his heightened senses
> of hearing, touch, and smell to carry out his thefts. He said: "I've been
> banned from Marks & Spencer before for shoplifting, but not a whole city.
> It's a pity-I liked Edinburgh."
>                                ************
> Back Magazine Issues Needed:
>      I am a professor of animal behavior at Sacramento City College and of
> perception at the University of California-Davis. I confront the many
> interesting ways in which nonhumans might experience their worlds. I am
> also an avid reader of science fiction. In recent years, because of my
> studies in comparative perception, I have become fascinated with the
> possibilities emerging from worlds in which the dominant sentient life 
> form
> resembles one of Earth's modern carnivores, such as lions, tigers, or
> bears. For many years I have received Analog Science Fiction/Science Fact
> and Asimov's Science Fiction in cassette format from the Library of
> Congress's National Library Service. I have read scores of interesting
> stories with themes involving anthropomorphic lions, wolves, bears, and
> dolphins. Recently I embarked on a project to accumulate science fiction
> materials that focus on nonhumans in science fiction to develop a
> compendium of this material. Unfortunately I have not preserved the hard
> copies of my past issues as an audio archive. Further, the older editions
> of these magazines are not available through my local cooperating library.
>      Therefore I would like to hear from readers who have back issues of
> these magazines or know of others who might possess them. I am interested
> in all back issues of both magazines, especially those produced before
> 2005. The format is not important. I can transcribe materials from both 
> the
> 8-1/3 RPM flexible discs and the 15/16 IPS quarter-track Talking Book
> formats issued by the Library of Congress. I am interested in procuring
> them either temporarily or permanently. I would be willing to compensate
> anyone for time and effort spent locating these potentially interesting 
> and
> valuable materials. Any assistance that anyone can provide would be 
> greatly
> appreciated.
>      Contact Chris Tromborg, 217 Baja Avenue, Davis, California 95616;
> (530) 753-2763; or <cttromborg at ucdavis.edu>.
>                                ************
> Music Lessons Available:
>      You can learn to play your favorite musical instrument by ear with
> Bill Brown's courses for the visually impaired. Because these courses use
> no print or Braille, they are easy to use and give quick results. There 
> are
> courses for the piano, guitar, flute, violin, harmonica, and many other
> instruments. These courses cost $39 each and are also available for free
> checkout through the National Library Service. Now learning to play your
> favorite musical instrument is easy. For more information call (888) 778-
> 1828 or visit the Website at <www.musicfortheblind.com>.
>                                ************
>                                ************
>      Monitor Mart
>                                ************
>      The notices in this section have been edited for clarity, but we can
> pass along only the information we were given. We are not responsible for
> the accuracy of the statements made or the quality of the products for
> sale.
>                                ************
> For Sale:
>      I purchased a 32-cell BrailleNote with a Braille keyboard during a
> convention special in 2005, including a disc drive, an AmbiCom wireless CF
> card, and a 1-gig ATA card. I now wish to sell the unit and accessories
> because another product fits my needs better. Its condition is great. I
> allow the battery to discharge every time, which should keep it in good
> order according to the manual, though it sometimes seems to show funny
> percentages. This does not affect performance.
>      This BrailleNote has Keysoft version 6.2, build 23, hardware revision
> C, kernel version 6-6/24/2005, operating system-Windows CE, version 4.20.
> Asking $2,000. HumanWare says that this unit is not eligible for a service
> contract at this time. It would need to be evaluated to determine if it 
> can
> go back under warranty/service contract. The cost to evaluate the unit is
> $145. Upgrading software to 7.5 would cost $585. If you want to do an SMA,
> you must first be current; then you can purchase an SMA for $195. If you
> are interested, email Beth at <fb-oe at cox.net>.
>                                ------------
>                                 NFB Pledge
>      I pledge to participate actively in the efforts of the National
> Federation of the Blind to achieve equality, opportunity, and security for
> the blind; to support the policies and programs of the Federation; and to
> abide by its constitution.

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