[NFBOK-Talk] {Spam?} Fwd: [Brl-monitor] The Braille Monitor, July 2016

Audrey Farnum atfarnum at icloud.com
Wed Jul 13 11:38:38 UTC 2016

Read the latest issue of the Braille Monitor below!

Audrey T. Farnum
Sent from my iPhone

Begin forwarded message:

> From: buhrow at lothlorien.nfbcal.org (Brian Buhrow)
> Date: July 13, 2016 at 1:36:05 AM CDT
> To: brl-monitor at nfbcal.org
> Subject: [Brl-monitor] The Braille Monitor, July 2016
> Reply-To: buhrow at nfbcal.org
>                               BRAILLE MONITOR
> Vol. 59, No. 7   July 2016
>                             Gary Wunder, Editor
> Distributed by email, in inkprint, in Braille, and on USB flash drive, by
> the
>      Mark Riccobono, President
>      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
>       Like us on Facebook: Facebook.com/nationalfederationoftheblind
>                      Follow us on Twitter: @NFB_Voice
>            Watch and share our videos: YouTube.com/NationsBlind
> 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 gwunder at nfb.org.
> Monitor subscriptions cost the Federation  about  forty  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
>      200 East Wells Street at Jernigan Place
>      Baltimore, Maryland 21230-4998
>                                 OURSELVES.
> ISSN 0006-8829
>      Each issue is recorded on a thumb drive (also called a memory stick
> or USB flash drive). You can read this audio edition using a computer or a
> National Library Service digital player. The NLS machine has two slots-the
> familiar book-cartridge slot just above the retractable carrying handle and
> a second slot located on the right side near the headphone jack. This
> smaller slot is used to play thumb drives. Remove the protective rubber pad
> covering this slot and insert the thumb drive. It will insert only in one
> position. If you encounter resistance, flip the drive over and try again.
> (Note: If the cartridge slot is not empty when you insert the thumb drive,
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> materials. If you remove the thumb drive to use the player for cartridges,
> when you insert it again, reading should resume at the point you stopped.
>      You can transfer the recording of each issue from the thumb drive to
> your computer or preserve it on the thumb drive. However, because thumb
> drives can be used hundreds of times, we would appreciate their return in
> order to stretch our funding. Please use the return envelope enclosed with
> the drive when you return the device.
> Vol.  59,  No.  7                                                       July
> 2016
>      Contents
> Illustration: National Federation of the Blind Honors Award Winners with
> New Exhibit in the Jacobus tenBroek Library
> New Ideas and Technology Make Transportation More Accessible
> by Gary Wunder
> A Matter of Attitude
> by Glenn Moore
> Under New Legislation, Proof of Child-Care Abilities Shifts for Blind
> Parents
> by Leo Traub
> TIME to Act on Real Employment for People with Disabilities
> by Tom Ridge
> Just Saying No to Reading Braille
> by Sheri Wells Jensen
> When New Laws Change Old Rights: What is Being Lost in All the Media Hype?
> by Brian Buhrow
> Running Out the Clock on Regulations Release
> by Parnell Diggs
> Throwing Away the Road Map
> by Sheila Koenig
> Ask Miss Whozit
> Recipes
> Monitor Miniatures
> © 2016 by the National Federation of the Blind
> [PHOTO CAPTION: Ellen Ringlein stands next to the new exhibit in the
> Jacobus tenBroek Library]
>  National Federation of the Blind Honors Award Winners with New Exhibit in
>                        the Jacobus tenBroek Library
>      The Jacobus tenBroek Library is pleased to announce the unveiling of
> our newest exhibit, which honors the Federationists and outside partners
> who have received the NFB's highest awards since 1955. This exhibit not
> only celebrates the important work of those who have received these awards-
> a notable list of politicians, philanthropists, teachers, inventors, and
> Federation leaders-it pays tribute to the respected pioneers they are named
> after.
>    . The Newel Perry Award: Established in 1955, this award is named for
>      the trail-blazing activist, mathematician, and mentor of Jacobus
>      tenBroek. It is awarded to leaders in the blindness field, blind or
>      sighted, who have worked as dedicated partners with the NFB.
>    . The Jacobus tenBroek Award: First awarded in 1976, this award is named
>      for the esteemed founder of the NFB and honors those Federationists
>      who have made an outstanding contribution toward independence for the
>      blind.
>    . The Kenneth Jernigan Award: Inaugurated in 2011 and named for the
>      beloved teacher, civil rights advocate, and past president of the NFB,
>      this award may be given to anyone who has made a significant
>      contribution to the blindness community either through their
>      participation in or partnership with the Federation.
>      Each award display consists of one description plaque which features
> an engraving of the NFB's current logo and explains the qualifications for
> receiving the award, who it was named after, and when it was established.
> The description plaque is then followed by a series of larger plaques
> containing the recipients' names and the years that they received the
> award. All text is produced in both print and UEB Braille on handsome brass
> plaques mounted on dark brown wood. These plaques will be updated as new
> awards are granted to worthy winners. The tenBroek Library would like to
> thank the team at the National Braille Press for their fine work on the
> production of these beautiful awards.
> [PHOTO CAPTION: Gary Wunder]
>        New Ideas and Technology Make Transportation More Accessible
>                               by Gary Wunder
>      Technology and new business ventures are always bringing new words
> into our language, and one that has emerged in the last few years is Uber.
> It is most easily thought of as an alternative to taxicabs, but at a deeper
> level it is a transportation service, and this entails a somewhat different
> relationship between drivers, passengers, and the company.
>      Traditional taxi services purchase vehicles and hire drivers to work
> specified shifts. Usually the company is required to have insurance, and
> there is little question that how a taxi driver behaves and what he says
> reflects on the company that employs him and that he is subject to that
> company's policies. In turn that company is responsible for enforcing those
> policies and for following any regulations that pertain to its business.
>      By any measure running a taxi business is difficult. If a business
> employs too few people, passengers do not like the wait. If a business
> employs too many people, the drivers make less than they need, turnover is
> high, and the result is still a poor experience for many riders. Getting
> the balance right takes skill, experience, and good luck, and there is no
> question that this new paradigm and the use of technology makes the task of
> managing supply and demand much easier for Uber than for most traditional
> taxi services.
>      Uber owns no cars and does not hire its drivers as employees.
> Instead, a man or woman with a vehicle, a smart phone, and the Uber app
> signs up to be a driver. These drivers are considered independent
> contractors by Uber. They do not have shifts or a certain number of hours
> they are expected to work. Rather, Uber offers drivers increasing financial
> incentives based on the amount of work they complete. If they want to work
> fulltime hours in a busy location, they can earn more than many entry-level
> wage positions. If they simply want to supplement their income, they can
> turn on the app and accept ride requests while they are out running errands
> or have free time and then turn it off again when they wish to stop
> working. Drivers encompass a wide range of individuals: everyone from
> grandmothers driving while waiting to pick up a grandchild from school to
> former fulltime taxi drivers working well over forty hours per week.
>      Unlike summoning a taxi cab, one does not call a dispatcher or worry
> about having enough cash to make a trip. Before using the service one must
> download the Uber app, install it on the smart phone, and then register
> with Uber by setting up an account and providing a valid credit or debit
> card which the company will use in billing for each ride. For simplicity in
> describing the process for summoning a ride, I will use the word "display"
> to describe what appears on the screen of one's smart phone. What is spoken
> will depend on what the screen reader is focused on, and some of the
> information the blind user will need must be accessed by swiping through
> the available information on the screen.
>      When a ride is wanted, the Uber app is activated and uses GPS to
> determine what is assumed to be the pickup location. If the phone displays
> the desired pickup address, the next step is to enter the destination
> address. This can be done either by typing or dictating an address or by
> entering a business name. A list of choices is displayed, and the user
> selects the preferred location.
>      Once the pickup and destination have been entered, a fare estimate
> consisting of lowest and highest fare is displayed. From this screen one
> can either request the ride or cancel the request. When demand is high, the
> Uber system will include a multiplier with each fare. This is done to
> provide incentives for more drivers to make themselves available; they will
> earn higher commissions in exchange for meeting the local increased demand.
> In order to get a vehicle during these peak times (which Uber refers to as
> Surge), one must agree that his or her fare will be increased by 1.5, 2, or
> some other multiple of the base fare. The system is actively responsive to
> major shifts in supply and demand and can account for the fact that some
> passengers will pay more for the instant convenience while others will wait
> for the price to normalize. The rules for the fare calculation do not
> change once the request has been made and accepted, so there is no fear
> that a multiplier will be added if the service gets busier while one is
> waiting for the requested ride or is in transit.
>      Once a request is made, there is a slight delay while the system
> offers the ride request to Uber's drivers. When accepted, the name of the
> driver, the make and model of his or her car, the number on the license
> plate, and the expected arrival time (ETA) are displayed. This screen also
> presents a button labeled "trip options" and if pressed can be used to call
> or text the driver to help in making contact. Unlike a traditional taxi, in
> which the dispatcher can give one only an approximate ETA for his or her
> cab and the rider has to remain vigilant to know when the cab arrives, with
> the Uber app the ETA is displayed on the screen, and if focus is set on
> this control, it is spoken. Whether the ETA is actively tracked or not,
> when the driver is about a minute away, an alert is sounded, and a message
> indicates that the car is about to arrive.
>      Once in the car, the driver will usually confirm that the destination
> previously entered is the one desired. If it is, the driver will be guided
> using the GPS which is a part of the app. If the passenger believes he or
> she has a better route, either because of distance or traffic, he or she is
> free to direct the driver.
>      At the end of the trip the app presents the rider with the fare and
> asks the rider to rate the service received on a scale from one to five.
> The rating can also be accompanied by comments to describe one's
> experience: "The driver was great, but the car smelled of smoke." "The
> driver was friendly, and I really liked his music."
>      The rider is then sent an email receipt of the transaction. Riders
> can reply to this email to request corrections to a trip charge, and Uber
> customer service staff can retroactively recalculate the amount charged or
> resolve other customer service concerns.
>      So beyond explaining this flexible and efficient transportation
> service, why is the Braille Monitor running this article? The problem that
> blind people are having is that Uber drivers are sometimes passing them by
> when they realize that their customer is accompanied by a guide dog.
> Currently drivers who do not wish to transport a service animal have felt
> free to decline on the grounds that they own the vehicle they are using and
> are free to choose based on whim, allergies, or religious preference whom
> and what they will transport without any consequences from Uber. Although
> failing to serve people who are accompanied by guide dogs and other service
> animals is a clear violation of the law, Uber has previously claimed it is
> not bound by state and federal laws on the theory that it does not provide
> the service; it merely makes available the technology for drivers to
> provide service. Its argument is based on the fact that it owns no vehicles
> and hires no drivers. It has argued that it is only the mechanism through
> which drivers and passengers are connected. A similar argument was made by
> Napster, the music service that helped millions of users get songs they did
> not buy. Napster claimed that it had no music and that it was merely a
> connecting point where people who wanted music could meet people who had
> it. The argument was challenged and soundly defeated, and Uber, perhaps
> because of this case law or perhaps wanting more favorable press and better
> community relations, has begun to alter its position.
>      In a proposed settlement now under consideration by the court, Uber
> has agreed that it will obey state and federal civil rights laws regarding
> the transportation of people with disabilities and their service animals.
> The proposed settlement will require that drivers sign a statement agreeing
> to comply with these laws, and they are warned in this document that
> failure to transport a human-dog team will result in termination of the
> driver's contract with Uber. Drivers may still demand that the service
> animal they transport be kept under control, and they are free to charge a
> passenger for any damage done to their vehicle beyond that which would be
> expected through normal wear and tear.
>      So why wouldn't Uber drivers want to carry passengers who have
> service animals? Some say they fear dogs; some say they are allergic; but
> overwhelmingly the opposition that seems to come from the small number of
> Uber drivers who object to a service animal in their car springs from the
> desire not to dirty their new vehicle. Uber encourages its drivers to have
> newer cars with clean interior, and the desire to protect that car, to keep
> it looking new, and to treat it as a valuable and significant asset seems
> to be the biggest objection Uber has found from its drivers. None of these
> concerns, however, relieve the driver of carrying out his duty to transport
> people with service dogs, and the failure to do so will result in
> termination.
>      Those wishing to learn more specifics about the proposed settlement
> and read the legal documents should go to <http://www.trelegal.com/blog/>.
>      It is hard to know how long the rates of this new company will remain
> substantially below those of competitors who drive taxicabs. Uber is
> currently subsidizing some of its transportation in getting its business
> recognized and used. Many of us have observed this technique when it comes
> to air travel; a new airline comes to town with prices that the old one
> cannot match, and when the competition is gone, rates begin to return to
> where they were before the upstart business came on the scene. In fairness
> we should note that airlines already serving an area may cut their rates,
> and, because they have established more capital, will sometimes drive the
> new providers out of business.
>      In an effort to be innovative and to keep prices down, Uber is
> actively looking at expanding into other areas of service. Can it be used
> to supplement or replace paratransit systems around the country? Will users
> be interested enough in saving money that they will carpool with strangers
> traveling in the same direction? The proposed settlement addresses the
> issues around driver preference and remains flexible so that the lawyers
> for the class can negotiate additional fixes as new problems arise from
> Uber's rapidly evolving business model. This flexibility will ensure that
> the solution to currently unknown problems can be resolved even where the
> normal legal system of litigation cannot keep pace with Uber's further
> innovations.
>      Like other companies that use advanced technology, Uber sometimes
> does not put accessibility front and center in its concerns about serving
> passengers. More than once it has deployed a new version of its app which
> is less accessible than the previous one. Sometimes the accessibility only
> poses an inconvenience, and at other times the changes are so significant
> that users of the service are urged not to update. As we continue to work
> with Uber, we believe that accessibility will become a more integral part
> of their process just as meeting the special needs of blind passengers is
> now very much on their radar.
>      The National Federation of the Blind has been a strong advocate in
> this case, and we have been ably represented by Tim Elder of the TRE Legal
> Practice, Michael Nunez and Michael Bien of the Rosen Bien Galvan &
> Grunfeld firm, and Larry Paradis and Julia Marks of the Disability Rights
> Advocates firm. Uber is a transportation service with tremendous potential,
> and the National Federation of the Blind is committed to seeing that it is
> one we can use easily and efficiently.
> Because the matter is a proposed nationwide class action, it must be
> approved by the court. The parties have requested that the court approve
> the settlement within the next six months. The settlement terms will not go
> into effect until the agreement is finally approved. Keep following these
> pages for further news on the progress in seeing this settlement through to
> policy.
>                                 ----------
> [PHOTO CAPTION: Glenn Moore]
>                            A Matter of Attitude
>                               by Glenn Moore
>      From the Editor: This article is gratefully reprinted from the
> Illinois Independent, the newsletter of the National Federation of the
> Blind of Illinois. How appropriate is the title of this newsletter given
> the subject Glenn Moore addresses: what does it mean to be independent? How
> should we react when others question our independence and think we are
> going too far in trying to demonstrate it? How do we turn our
> understandable frustration and irritation into meaningful public education?
> Here is what Glenn has to say:
>      It started last February, when a Federationist posed a simple
> question on the IL-Talk listserv. "How do you react when someone says that
> you spend a lot of time proving you can do things in spite of your
> blindness?" The question sparked a lively discussion. I suppose any answer
> to this question depends on what the comment meant in the first place. It
> also depends upon one's own disposition, attitude, and philosophy about
> blindness and living.
> What Does the Comment Mean?
>      I think one first wonders, "What was meant by that type of comment?"
> I find that usually people accuse me of trying to prove myself when I
> insist on doing something that makes them uncomfortable. I think this is
> often the case when people call attention to a blind person who is doing
> day-to-day things. Sometimes the person making the comment seems to think
> the blind person needs help but, out of stubbornness or an unwillingness to
> face his or her need, won't acknowledge it. I wonder if this belief comes
> from a subjective tendency to focus on the familiar.
>      At an NFBI convention a couple of years ago, Parnell Diggs related an
> encounter with a law professor. The professor told him he had no trouble
> imagining what it is like to be blind; he simply closed his eyes. Why do
> many blind people find such a remark to be offensive? The professor defined
> the experience of blindness literally, based strictly upon his own
> experience of vision. He understood blindness in negative terms as merely
> the absence of sight, and he reduced the blind person's life, ambitions,
> and capabilities by neatly fitting him into the category of a person
> lacking sight.
>      I think a lot of sighted bias against blindness is based upon the
> idea that blindness is an absence of sighted experience. People who think
> this way focus on the fact that blind people do not gain experience through
> vision, the sense most sighted people rely on and assume is needed to gain
> knowledge of the world. The truth is that, while sighted people have plenty
> of experience with being sighted, blindness is not an absence of experience
> and knowledge. It's a parallel experience of its own.
>      If I speak French in a country of English speakers, at times I'll
> miss something and will want to have it explained to me. However, it would
> feel insulting to be treated as though I have no language of my own, let
> alone the ability to comprehend the concepts that can be explained in
> either language. Blindness has a life and functionality just as sight does.
> For example, Braille is not an absence of writing; it's a writing system
> that is not visual.
>      A common reply to the query about proving oneself was that sighted
> people sometimes imply, or flatly accuse, a blind person of having an
> attitude. Some members of the sighted public certainly have attitudes, so
> why wouldn't some of the blind public have attitudes, too? However, what
> sighted people tend to perceive as an attitude in the blind may simply be
> the refusal to fall into expected roles. One lister commented, "There's a
> basic expectation that we should be grateful for any and all assistance and
> that we should not be assertive." Another lister noted, "Some of us seem to
> be more passive than is needed."
>      Though a comment from the public may actually be on target, it also
> reflects something about the speaker, who may react for lack of knowledge
> about blindness. "We blind often expect the sighted to somehow intuitively
> know what help or non-help to provide," one lister wrote. "We get upset
> when we feel aggrieved by the ignorant sighted. In the absence of actual
> knowledge, people invent knowledge in its place."
>      Another commented, "They see a blind person, and somehow the idea
> that the situation calls for new rules and exceptional behaviors kicks in."
> These comments make me consider that it's important to engage people with
> things they don't understand. If the unique and uncommon become rare and
> mystical, the word "attitude" may mysteriously appear.
>      The speaker who claims you're busy proving something may have yet
> another meaning, and it's not a very flattering one to himself or herself.
> Suppose the blind person is doing something appropriate, and the sighted
> person offers intervention that clearly is not helpful, wanted, or needed.
> The reason the sighted person finds fault may, in fact, have to do with his
> or her own convenience or agenda. Recently a friend of mine was waiting to
> board a bus with her guide dog. A woman next to her complimented the dog
> and asked the dog if she could pet it. My friend politely refused, saying
> that the dog was working. "Well," the woman replied, "I'm gonna pet you
> anyway," and so she did.
>      By addressing the dog while ignoring the owner and dismissing the
> dog's purpose for being there, I believe the woman expressed her contempt
> for what she saw as my friend's unacceptable privilege to have a dog in a
> public place. Her interference with the dog's work was a way to defeat that
> privilege and passive-aggressively claim her own privilege instead. Though
> this behavior was not an offer of help, it is not unlike accusing a blind
> person of copping an attitude for not accepting help that is "for your own
> good."
>      Sometimes a person who says you spend (or waste) time proving
> yourself because of blindness really expects to be inconvenienced if you
> are left on your own. The person offers help for his or her own convenience
> and then claims you have an attitude for refusing.
> What Does Proving Blindness Mean?
>      Besides exploring what may lay behind certain comments made to blind
> people, I also want to consider what it means to prove oneself as a blind
> person. Some of our listserv members expressed that they were not trying to
> prove anything or gain attention, but they felt that they were always being
> observed. One post reads, "Whatever we do in our lives, we are proving
> ourselves ... as blind people. That's just life."
>      Another list member wrote, "I feel I'm proving that I can do things
> all the time ... Maybe I have an attitude. I think it's a healthy attitude
> for a blind person." Others agreed. "It is a positive attitude that I have.
> And it is an attitude that keeps me going on a daily basis," said one.
>      Another commented, "It's that attitude that has got me where I am
> today." These quotes tell me that proving oneself as a blind person is not
> an attempt to affect others negatively, but rather a lifelong determination
> to be unaffected by obstacles.
>      Most of the varied listserv responses fit under the umbrella of the
> philosophy belonging to the organized blind movement. Most posts
> acknowledged that there are times during interactions when blind and
> sighted people, all of us with our own shortcomings, just don't get it
> right. "One should endeavor to never lose one's temper," one lister wrote,
> "but I also think we have to forgive ourselves if we are imperfect."
>      This comment fits well with another lister's observation that "if we
> spend time worrying about others' perception of us and try to please others
> ... we would never be able to live the lives we want. Life is too short."
>      One safe and winning bet that helps hedge uncertain situations is
> respect. A sighted person, or anyone offering advice or help, should be
> honest about why she or he is reaching out. Certain behaviors, such as
> putting hands on someone, are never appropriate unless it's necessary to
> protect a person from real danger.
>      There is more to know about blindness than what law professors
> imagine when they close their eyes. Many sighted people may feel frustrated
> or unsure about what is best to say or do when a situation seems not to be
> going as it should. As blind people we can teach them, as long as they're
> respectful. At the same time, they may know things about a given situation
> that will be useful to us. It's worth being open-minded without needing to
> give up being strong-minded.
>                                 ----------
> [PHOTO CAPTION: Melissa Riccobono attaches bells to her daughter's shoe]
>         Under New Legislation, Proof of Child-Care Abilities Shifts
>                              for Blind Parents
>                                by Leo Traub
>      From the Editor: This article originally appeared in the Capital News
> Service, operated by University of Maryland journalism students.
>      At just past 11 AM on a Thursday, Melissa Riccobono sits at her
> computer while her three-year-old daughter, Elizabeth, plays on the floor
> next to her with a pillow and some toys. 
> Using a Focus 14 Blue keyboard with Braille display and text-to-speech
> readout, Riccobono scrolls through her contacts, searching for a friend's
> email address. Suddenly, seemingly unprompted, she turns to her daughter
> and says, "Elizabeth, I think your bus is here."
>      Sure enough, idling in the street outside their Baltimore home is a
> big yellow bus, waiting to take Elizabeth to a city nursery school
> for blind children. Reluctantly, Elizabeth finishes her game and stands up.
> Riccobono helps her daughter into her coat and school backpack, and the
> pair move to the front door, collecting their long white canes from the
> umbrella stand in the corner. 
>      The rumbling sound of the bus was subtle, nearly imperceptible. Did
> Riccobono, a woman blind since birth, use some sort of superhero-like
> heightened sense to hear it pull up outside? Sensitive though Riccobono's
> hearing might be, she is a parent, and at just past 11 AM on Thursdays, she
> knows to expect her daughter's school bus. 
>      These sorts of assumptions about blindness are common, said Sharon
> Maneki, president of the Maryland chapter of advocacy and support
> organization, the National Federation of the Blind. 
> Sighted people, even courtroom judges, often resort to "what ifs" in
> evaluating blind people's parenting abilities, she said.
>      Under a bill passed by the Maryland legislature on the last day of
> session, in cases assessing parents' ability to care for their children,
> judges and claimants will need to follow new procedures before introducing
> a person's disability in court. Originally written for blindness, the bill
> was later amended to include all disabilities, physical or mental, and
> covers only private cases that don't involve public agencies, such as
> custody or visitation, as well as adoption or guardianship cases.
>      "The bill provides a lot more protections for disabled parents that
> we've never had before," said Riccobono.
>      Riccobono and her husband, Mark, president of the National Federation
> of the Blind, as well as Maneki and other advocates, have spent years
> working to create legal parity for blind people. This legislation is an
> important step in protecting the blind from being pre-judged for their
> disability, she said.
>      "As a blind person, you're always thinking, what if this (situation)
> is blamed on my blindness?" said Chris Danielsen, director of public
> relations for the National Federation of the Blind. 
> A Change in the Burden of Proof
>      One of the bill's key provisions is placing the burden of proof on
> the person making a legal claim against a disabled parent, Maneki said. In
> past cases, blind people were required to prove that they were capable of
> caring for a child, she said. "This has been a long-standing problem that
> we've had," Maneki said.
>      In 2007, Michael Bullis was sorting through a difficult divorce and
> custody proceeding over his then-five-year-old daughter, Julianna. A
> Baltimore County court had ruled Bullis, a blind man, was not fit to be
> left with Julianna without supervision. So for almost two years, Bullis
> said, he only saw his daughter in public places with either his ex-wife or
> one of her parents there.
>      "Needless to say, it was pretty humiliating," he said.
>      What bothered him the most, Bullis said, was that the court had
> determined his visitation rights based on a prejudiced assumption: that he
> was not a capable parent because he was blind.
>      "They say things such as, 'The blind person can't do anything, and
> they've never been able to do it,' even though they've been doing it for
> years," Maneki said.
>      He fought the decision in court, and the judge called for social
> services to conduct a home study to determine whether Bullis could provide
> appropriate care for his daughter.
> After performing the study, the social services caseworker said he would
> have approved the home for a sighted parent, Bullis said, but he was
> hesitant to clear it for a blind person. So Bullis spent the next hour
> addressing all of the caseworker's concerns and questions, demonstrating
> everyday tasks around his own house.
>      With Bullis' explanation, the caseworker filed a positive report that
> did not express any concerns about disability, and in 2008, the judge
> granted Bullis unsupervised visitation rights of his daughter.
>      "I wasn't going to let him go until he heard everything I had to
> say," Bullis said. "His report could have killed me."
>      The caseworker submitted the proper report, Bullis said, because the
> judge's letter only asked social services to evaluate his abilities, not
> his blindness.
>      "For some reason, with disability, you could bring up imaginary
> subjects and the court listened to it." 
> Fighting for Legal Parity
>      While his own case was ongoing, Bullis joined the National Federation
> of the Blind in pursuing state legislation to ensure other blind parents
> would not have to face the same uphill legal battle he faced, he said.
>      In 2009, the Maryland General Assembly passed a bill limiting the way
> courts consider a parent's disability in custody, visitation, and Child in
> Need of Assistance cases. Under the law, disability is only relevant if a
> court finds it affects the parent's ability to care for a child.
>      Sighted people sometimes forget how much experience the blind have
> with their disability, Riccobono said, and that they are not newly blind
> before becoming parents.
>      "Not every blind parent is perfect because not every parent is
> perfect," Riccobono said. "I always say, blind people don't keep emergency
> rooms open all by ourselves. There are plenty of sighted parents who have
> accidents, and that's why they're called accidents."
>      This year's original bill also set new rules for social services'
> treatment of disabled parents in Child in Need of Assistance cases. These
> are brought when the agency tries to prove that a person is not fit to be a
> parent, whether because of abuse or neglect or simply because they aren't
> capable of caring for a child. But after pushback from the Maryland
> Department of Human Resources, the social services cases were excluded to
> ensure a bill was passed this session, Maneki said. 
>      The Maryland Department of Human Resources, which oversees social
> services in the state, felt that the new rules would place an extra step in
> removing children from situations of neglect and abuse, Maneki said. 
> Supportive Parenting Services
>      If a court finds a parent's disability does affect the best interest
> of the child, the bill also introduces supportive parenting services as an
> alternative to limiting custody or visitation rights. A person will have
> the opportunity to show that with these services, their disability would
> not impede their parenting abilities. Supportive services could include
> parenting classes, skill-building, and connecting with other people who
> have the same disability, Riccobono said.
>      "Why reinvent the wheel if there are other parents out there who are
> doing it, and doing it well?" Riccobono said.
>      As president of support organization,
> Maryland Parents of Blind Children, Riccobono is accustomed to educating
> others about blindness and parenting. Two of her three children are
> legally blind, and she has used some of these parenting techniques with her
> own family. Some blind parents use noise-making tricks as ways to keep
> track of their children in busy areas. When Riccobono takes her young
> children to the playground or the mall, she sometimes attaches bells on zip
> ties to their shoes so she can follow the ringing sound. Other parents have
> their children carry Tic Tacs in their pockets or wear shoes specially
> designed to squeak, she said. 
>      The National Federation of the Blind may also be able to provide
> support, Danielsen said. Products like the KNFB Reader, an app that
> converts printed text to audio, and services like the NFB-Newsline, a free
> phone line that reads newspaper articles to subscribers, are available
> through the Federation's website. And if the National Federation of
> the Blind cannot provide the support, they can help others find the
> services they need, Danielsen said. In some cases, the organization has
> taken on legal representation of blind people, he said.
>      However, supportive services do not have to be limited to resources
> provided specifically for people with disabilities, Riccobono said. Any
> skill-building class that helps a blind person could potentially work in
> court, she said.
>      "Not all issues have to do with blindness," Danielsen said. "But
> where blindness has to do with it, the National Federation of the Blind can
> help."
>                                 ----------
> Leave a Legacy
>      For more than seventy-five years the National Federation of the Blind
> has worked to transform the dreams of hundreds of thousands of blind people
> into reality, and with your support we will continue to do so for decades
> to come. We sincerely hope you will plan to be a part of our enduring
> movement by adding the National Federation of the Blind as a partial
> beneficiary in your will. A gift to the National Federation of the Blind in
> your will is more than just a charitable, tax-deductible donation. It is a
> way to join in the work to help blind people live the lives they want that
> leaves a lasting imprint on the lives of thousands of blind children and
> adults.
> With your help, the NFB will continue to:
>    . Give blind children the gift of literacy through Braille;
>    . Promote the independent travel of the blind by providing free, long
>      white canes to blind people in need;
>    . Develop dynamic educational projects and programs that show blind
>      youth that science and math are within their reach;
>    . Deliver hundreds of accessible newspapers and magazines to provide
>      blind people the essential information necessary to be actively
>      involved in their communities;
>    . Offer aids and appliances that help seniors losing vision maintain
>      their independence; and
>    . Fund scholarship programs so that blind students can achieve their
>      dreams.
> Plan to Leave a Legacy
>      Creating a will gives you the final say in what happens to your
> possessions and is the only way to be sure that your remaining assets are
> distributed according to your passions and beliefs. Many people fear
> creating a will or believe it's not necessary until they are much older.
> Others think that it's expensive and confusing. However, it is one of the
> most important things you will do, and with new online legal programs it is
> easier and cheaper than ever before. If you do decide to create or revise
> your will, consider the National Federation of the Blind as a partial
> beneficiary. Visit <www.nfb.org/planned-giving> or call (410) 659-9314,
> extension 2371, for more information. Together with love, hope,
> determination, and your support, we will continue to transform dreams into
> reality.
>                                 ----------
>         TIME to Act on Real Employment for People with Disabilities
>                                by Tom Ridge
>      From the Editor: This op-ed is reprinted with the permission of The
> Hill. It appeared on May 19, 2016, and it makes a strong case for the
> payment of at least the minimum wage to people with disabilities.
>      Tom Ridge is a former member of Congress and a former governor of
> Pennsylvania, who served as the first director of the Office of Homeland
> Security under President George W. Bush. Here is what he has to say:
>      In 1990, Congress passed and President George H. W. Bush signed into
> law the historic Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). I have always
> supported the ADA and other laws designed to increase the participation of
> Americans with disabilities in our society because I believe that these
> Americans, like all other Americans, should have the opportunity to pursue
> the American dream. The ADA sought to achieve this goal by bringing
> Americans with disabilities out of the shadows and allowing them to
> compete, on a level playing field, with their non-disabled peers. The law
> was also intended to combat the discrimination born of misconceptions,
> stereotypes, and paternalism that Americans with disabilities face every
> day.
>      More than twenty-five years after its passage, the ADA has at last
> begun to accomplish many of its goals. But policies remain that undermine
> the vision of fairness and equal opportunity enshrined in this landmark
> law.
>      One of those policies is buried in the Fair Labor Standards Act,
> passed in 1938. While that law created better wages and working conditions
> for most Americans, it contained a provision that excluded people with
> disabilities from its protections, especially the minimum wage. Nearly
> eighty years later, the law still contains that provision, known as Section
> 14(c).
>      The provision allows employers who hold special wage certificates
> issued by the Department of Labor to pay workers with disabilities a
> "commensurate wage" that, generally, is less than the federal or state
> minimum wage. Some people working under special wage certificates earn mere
> pennies per hour.
>      Back in 1938, everyone assumed that a worker with a disability was
> less productive than a "normal" or "able-bodied" worker. Today, we know
> that workers with disabilities, given equal opportunity and appropriate
> tools or technologies, can perform as well as their non-disabled
> counterparts. Just ask employers like Lowe's or Starbucks, outstanding
> companies that have partnered with the National Organization on Disability
> to find job opportunities for talented men and women with disabilities, and
> they'll confirm this to be true. But despite that knowledge, Section 14(c)
> remains in force.
>      Some argue that the "commensurate" or subminimum wage is necessary to
> provide employment for some people with severe disabilities, and that
> merely giving these individuals something to do each day provides them with
> dignity and pride. This argument does not make sense to me. Americans with
> disabilities want the things that all other Americans want: homes,
> families, and the freedom to do with their lives as they wish. They cannot
> have any of those things on pennies per hour. If an American with a
> disability can't even buy a meal with his or her paycheck, he or she is
> likely to feel demeaned and insulted rather than dignified and proud.
>      This system sends the message to Americans with disabilities that
> they are not worth the same as other Americans, that society values them
> less. It traps them in tedious jobs with no prospect of advancement.
> Finally, it leaves them in poverty, dependent for survival on overburdened
> federal benefit programs like Social Security Disability Insurance. Some of
> these Americans remain in the care of family members, but what happens when
> those family members are gone? Other safety net programs must then fill the
> gap.
>      The subject of the minimum wage is a hotly debated matter. Much has
> been said about whether it should be raised, and to what level. But that
> question has no bearing on the plight of workers with disabilities who are
> currently not receiving it. Receiving the minimum wage, at whatever level
> it is set, is a matter of basic fairness. In 2016, there is no excuse for
> treating an entire class of workers differently from others based solely on
> the characteristic of disability. Such treatment is discriminatory, just as
> it would be if applied to individuals of a specific race, gender, or
> religious affiliation.
>      I support legislation filed in the House of Representatives by Rep.
> Gregg Harper (R-MS) and in the Senate by Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) that
> would phase out the Section 14(c) program. This legislation, the
> Transitioning to Integrated and Meaningful Employment (TIME) Act, would
> rightly refocus efforts to employ Americans with disabilities on helping
> them train for and find jobs in the mainstream economy. This is not an
> impossible goal; Ayotte's home state of New Hampshire has already
> eliminated subminimum wages without adverse consequences for workers with
> disabilities, as has the state of Vermont.
>      Much work needs to be done to give all Americans, including those who
> have disabilities, a chance to have the financial freedom and security we
> all desire. Repealing Section 14(c) is an easy step that we can take right
> now to move closer to that goal. I urge the House and Senate to pass the
> TIME Act with all deliberate speed. It is long past time to take this fair,
> commonsense step in the march to freedom for Americans with disabilities.
>                                 ----------
>                      Just Saying No to Reading Braille
>                            by Sheri Wells Jensen
>      From the Editor: Last month we ran an article discussing how absurd
> it would sound if all the arguments used against teaching and learning
> Braille were made against print. The article made good points, pointed up
> some ironies, and pretty much confirmed for most of us who read Braille
> that it is a skill we could not conceive of being without.
>      What the article did not answer was the question of why some people
> don't choose to learn a reading and writing system that is so effective
> and, for many of us, so essential. In looking back over past issues of the
> Braille Monitor, we came across an article written by Sheri Wells Jensen
> which appeared in two segments during 2002 and 2003. We thought it worthy
> of reprinting, because it presents us with arguments we don't normally
> consider, gives voice to people we don't generally listen to, and helps us
> find a path to better persuade those who might benefit from what we so
> enjoy when words appear under our fingertips. What Sheri said more than a
> decade ago has as much relevance today as it did when she wrote it. The
> introduction to her article was written by Barbara Pierce, and here is what
> she said:
>      Dr. Sheri Wells Jensen teaches in the English as a Second Language
> Department at Bowling Green University in Ohio. She is interested in
> psycholinguistics and language preservation. As a Braille user herself she
> thought that Braille Monitor readers would be interested in her
> observations and reflections on Braille literacy from a somewhat unusual
> perspective. This is what she says:
>      Growing up in the Midwest in a middle-class home, I took reading for
> granted. Everyone around me read. My girlfriends read love stories; my
> brothers read dopey boys' stuff like motorcycle and car magazines; my
> father read the newspaper; my mother read everything (lots of it out loud
> to me); and I read all the science fiction I could get my fingers on. The
> fact that my books were larger than theirs simply meant I had more trouble
> climbing the maple tree in our front yard while carrying one of mine.
>      Learning to read was neither optional nor especially interesting. It
> was just a thing you did as part of the natural order, like learning to
> ride a bike or to cross the street. It was so woven into the fabric of my
> culture that as a youngster I never imagined there were people in the world
> who could not read at all. When I did find that out (probably sometime in
> late elementary school) I had trouble imagining how exactly you could
> manage a happy, efficient life without writing things down and reading
> things other people had written for you. I could never have imagined
> deliberately choosing illiteracy, but this is exactly what I found more
> than once after graduating from college. It was a shock that took me awhile
> to get over.
>      Undergraduate diploma in hand, I went off to join the Peace Corps.
> After the initial three months of training, I was thrilled to find myself
> in a tropical coastal city (a twenty-five-minute, hair-raising bus ride
> from the best beaches you could ever imagine), working at a small girls'
> high school. Since many of these young women were the first in their
> families to get a high school education, they were eager students. They
> were being trained to take their places in the emerging Ecuadorian middle
> class and would probably get jobs as secretaries or clerical workers of
> some sort in small businesses. They'd make enough money to live comfortably
> in the city. One or two of them might even go on to college. For many of
> their families it was like a dream coming slowly true around them.
>      My job was to teach them enough English to answer a telephone, take
> simple messages, make an appointment, or at least apologize nicely for not
> being able to do these things and then pass the call along to someone who
> could. It was good work but not wildly exciting. So I was delighted a few
> months later to find that we would be putting English lessons on hold for a
> while in order to participate in a national literacy campaign.
>      The implementation of the campaign struck me as tremendously clever.
> It took advantage of the enthusiasm and energy of students like my girls,
> children of the relatively wealthy. Although poor by US standards, the
> young women at my school had enormous advantages by local standards. After
> all, they were well fed and secure and were going to graduate from high
> school in a country where many country people (campesinos) never made it
> past grade school.
> All high school students in the country were placed in pairs. The
> government plan specified that each pair be matched with a campesino who
> could not read. In order to earn that prized high school diploma, they
> would teach this person to read and write, sharing their knowledge, passing
> on the gift of literacy.
>      The high school students were trained in the basics of reading
> instruction and sent on their way. My girls joined the campaign with a
> particular mission. I had taught them the basics of Braille and techniques
> for getting started, and they were matched with blind campesinos. Except
> for the fact that they were teaching Braille, our girls received the same
> training as the other high school students.
>      It was person-to-person, Ecuadorian-to-Ecuadorian, making connections
> across class and lifestyle. I thought the plan was brilliant, and I sent my
> girls out with high hopes.
> Then I heard a disturbing story. It seems that a pair of high schoolers
> (mercifully not mine), armed with their picture books and alphabet cards,
> went out into the countryside to meet their assigned campesino. Most likely
> they'd had to travel for an hour or more on a jouncing, jolting, open bus,
> hanging on for their lives as the driver gamboled his way along the hills
> on the less-than-adequate roads. They probably arrived hot, dusty, and
> tired. Then they were introduced to their campesino as planned. They were
> told that the farmer would be happy to learn to read. He was ready to start
> right away. He was eager. He'd be delighted, in fact, assuming the kids
> would pay him. He was willing to accept payment in cash or in chickens, but
> he did expect to be fairly reimbursed for his time.
>      Yes, you read that right. The illiterate campesino was charging for
> his services as student. You might think of it as sort of a reverse
> tuition. If the privileged city kids wanted to graduate from high school,
> he figured they'd fork over the money straight away.
>      As you might imagine, I was appalled. I started making a list of
> names I would like to call the campesino if we ever met: crass . . . ill-
> mannered.... mercenary . . . I stopped making the list when I got to the
> word "ungrateful." I'd certainly heard that one before. It forced me to
> consider the situation with more care. What was up with this guy?
>      Campesinos are smart. They may not have formal education, but they
> know the land in all its phases and seasons. They have a savvy survivor's
> grasp of economics too. They know what to plant and how to sell it and how
> much they need to produce to feed their families. And they work hard. Their
> land is relatively poor and their equipment meager. They make up for this
> with sheer investment of sweat. They are rightfully proud too. At the end
> of each day they see what they have accomplished and know their children
> will eat. Still, why would such a person be indifferent to the gifts of
> literacy?
>      There are several reasons. First, his realistic grasp on reality
> tells him that he has no immediate use for such things. He has no letters
> to write, no books to keep, and no street signs to read. He gets the news
> he needs from passersby or from the radio. There is no public library from
> which he can check out books. If he had money for books, he has nowhere to
> buy them in his little village. He doesn't need to keep a calendar; his
> schedule is not that tight, and he can keep track of the birthdays or
> religious festivals important to him. In a small village everyone knows
> everyone else's business; if he forgets something, his uncle or sister or
> neighbor will remind him. He doesn't have to read recipes; he knows how to
> cook the simple food his family eats. There is no need for academic work or
> note-taking. If he wants to write a poem or a story, he simply makes it up
> and tells it to someone. If he or his audience remembers it, it was a good
> story, and it will be told and retold.
>      Second, he has a real appreciation of his free time. After a hard day
> of work, he wants a cool drink and a hammock to stretch out in. He wants to
> spend time joking with family and neighbors, catching up on the day's
> events, playing with his children, enjoying the sunset, or staring out
> across the ocean or up into the mountains. Why would he want to use this
> precious time learning to read when he feels no need for it? His life is
> complete and satisfying.
> Finally, in his village there is no social expectation that he learn to
> read-no stigma for illiteracy. He is not ashamed of not reading. It would
> be like you feeling ashamed that you cannot ride a unicycle. You might
> grant that unicycle riding would be interesting, but you probably don't
> feel bad that you can't do it: nobody else does, after all. I could point
> out to you that there are hundreds of jobs in circuses for good unicycle
> riders and that you could entertain yourself and your family, but you're
> still not going to dash out and sign up for lessons even if they're free.
> On the other hand, if I (for my own twisted reasons) want to pay you to be
> my unicycle student, why not? You probably aren't vehemently opposed to the
> idea, just indifferent.
>      As an educated middle-class American, it took me awhile to get used
> to this idea. But, when I finally began to be truly comfortable with the
> fact that not everybody wants what we think they should want, many things
> about living in Ecuador began to make more sense to me.
> A few years after I returned from Ecuador, I was reminded of this
> experience by a conversation with a friend. I was talking to him about why
> as a blind person he should learn to read Braille. Like the farmer he
> simply did not feel any lack. His affairs were in order and his life full
> and productive. From my perspective I could clearly see how his
> circumstances would be improved by learning to read, but he did not and
> does not live in my world.
>      I began to think about Braille literacy campaigns in a new way after
> that. I wanted to find out how a person lives so that Braille is not missed
> and what perceptions, assumptions, and coping techniques make it seem
> reasonable to go without reading. I thought, and think still, that
> understanding these things would make it easier for us to promote Braille
> to nonreaders.
> In an attempt to find these things out, I spent a few months of spare time
> talking with readers and nonreaders alike. I learned some very interesting
> things.
>      To be honest, it took me a good while to get over my shock at how
> Braille (and reading in general) were perceived in Ecuador. I'd always gone
> with the mainstream flow: it's clear and obvious that reading is good and
> therefore not reading is bad. I was slow to learn what the Peace Corps
> teaches: other people in other contexts lead perfectly reasonable lives. We
> have to work our way past pre-set, culturally imposed ideas about what
> "reasonable" means so that we can meet as human beings without prejudice.
> What may at first appear strange or even outrageous becomes sensible when
> we begin by assuming the people in question are intelligent, sensitive
> human beings making rational choices.
>      So I decided that I'd be wise not to decide anything about the
> attitudes and motivations of non-Braille-reading Americans. I still
> believed (and continue to believe) that knowing how to do something
> (reading, knitting, carving a duck out of a hunk of wood) is better than
> not knowing. But it became clear to me that this very conviction could get
> in my way, preventing me from understanding what I wanted to understand.
> Once I work my way past my own idea that not reading Braille is an
> inherently bad choice, I could begin to listen more openly with an attitude
> of respect and appreciation rather than judging nonreaders out of hand. I
> vowed that I would try to begin with humility and curiosity and see what
> others could teach me.
>      The usual approach would be to ask a series of questions, each one
> designed to elicit part of the data. But inevitably each question I create
> is tinged with my own perspective. We give ourselves away at every turn,
> revealing what we think good or right answers might be. Asking questions
> almost always sets up the kinds of answers we will get; that's why
> prosecutors, looking for a fatal flaw in a story, guide witnesses carefully
> through a series of interrogatives rather than saying, "So, Mr. Jackson,
> tell us all about it, Dude!" We set up our questions so that one answer is
> easier to give than another. We can even make it almost impossible for a
> person to answer genuinely.
>      I wanted to create a context in which a person could talk to me about
> Braille, a topic which might be sensitive, without feeling judged by me. I
> also didn't want to guide my interviewees too much, perhaps missing
> something important by not asking the right questions. There might well be
> reasons for not being a Braille reader that I haven't imagined yet so
> wouldn't ask about. Better to let people express themselves with as little
> guidance as possible, building up their own picture of reading and literacy
> and the interconnections between those things and identity.
>      Borrowing from the methods used by linguists and anthropologists to
> get at internal attitudes toward different languages, I decided simply to
> provide a topic, start a tape recorder, and let people talk.
>      I recorded conversations with four blind Braille readers and three
> blind people who didn't read Braille. Partly just for kicks and partly to
> make sure I wasn't missing anything, I then interviewed three sighted
> people both about print literacy and about Braille. All of these speakers
> were college-educated, some pursuing advanced degrees. Everybody had a lot
> to say once they got started. I began the conversation with a very general
> prompt such as, "Tell me all about Braille." Then I just let them carry on.
>      After my first couple of interviews, I had some idea of what kinds of
> things surfaced in these monologues, so I began to use those ideas as
> springboards for later subjects. When, for example, a Braille reader said
> that Braille equated in her mind with freedom, I might mention to the next
> interviewee that the word "freedom" had been used by a previous subject
> (without saying whether it had been a reader or nonreader) and ask him or
> her to respond to that idea.
> After the interviews I listened repeatedly to the tapes, checking for
> common themes and beginning to make myself a list. Here are some of the
> things readers and nonreaders had to say about Braille literacy, along with
> some of the more interesting quotes. Much of what they have to say will
> seem controversial: there is no doubt something in these quotations to
> offend everybody; so brace yourselves! I take this as a sign that people
> were genuinely speaking their minds without worrying about being judged and
> that they take the topic quite personally.
>      To protect the anonymity of my interviewees, I've numbered the quotes
> rather than using initials. Quotes from nonreaders are labeled with an "A"
> and those from Braille readers with a "B." I've also made no real attempt
> to balance the number of reader and nonreader quotes used here in response
> to each topic. I've simply included the best quotes wherever they seem
> appropriate. Each one, though, represents a theme found in the data.
>      Reading speed and difficulty with the system itself: Although these
> are almost always the first issues mentioned by experts as contributing to
> low Braille literacy rates, neither readers nor nonreaders had much to say
> about reading speed or the complexity of the Braille system. Braille
> readers, both fast and slow, prefer Braille. Nobody mentioned how hard it
> might be to learn to perceive dots with the fingers or complained about
> contracted Braille (what we all used to call grade II Braille) being just
> too hard to learn. The conclusion here seemed to be that, if you wanted to
> learn Braille in the first place or had learned it as a child, these
> problems were no big deal. If you did not perceive a need to learn Braille
> in the first place, you didn't have to think about its being either slow or
> difficult to acquire. Such issues were irrelevant. This, by the way, was
> the only way in which both groups of blind people differed significantly
> from my sighted interviewees, most of whom were quite unsure whether they
> would be able to learn Braille at all, based on its perceived difficulty
> and strangeness. Reading speed and difficulty were among the first things
> mentioned by sighted folk when talking about Braille.
>      Independence and Privacy: Braille readers volunteered that they felt
> access to Braille was key to independence. Nonreaders also valued
> independence; they simply did not equate learning Braille with substantial
> increases in independence. They possessed the means to accomplish the same
> goals as sighted and Braille-reading peers, so their overall sense of
> mastery remained intact. One nonreader in particular expressed a sense of
> community and interdependence as opposed to what he sees as
> counterproductive rugged individualism of both his sighted and Braille-
> reading colleagues. Note, however, that he by no means lacked a strong
> sense of self-determination as evidenced by his vehement reaction to a
> local rehabilitation agency that he viewed as overly paternalistic.
>      B1: "It's that independence that it [Braille] gives you to do your
> job as well as a sighted person."
>      B2: "I put labels on papers and stuff. I don't want to depend on
> people or wait and wait. I hate having other people read my mail, having
> someone I don't know know my damned business. I like to depend on people as
> little as possible. It's less frustrating."
>      A1: "I maximize the amount of control I can have . . . There's a lot
> of people who treasure what they think is their independence. What I think
> they're missing is they don't see how dependent they are all along. Do they
> grow their own food? Kill their own prey? There's a whole network of
> thousands of people."
>      A2 (referring to a local rehabilitation agency): "They like totally
> revamp you, and it's kind of despicable. They don't have any provision for
> somebody working [blindness] into their life plan. They want to totally
> remold you. It's infantilization. [They] think of you as a child who has to
> be retrained like potty training, how to cook and take care of your
> clothing. It's so patronizing in its fundamental attitude."
>      Negative Stereotype of Blindness: Readers of Braille feel that the
> ability to read Braille works to counteract negative stereotypes of
> blindness. Some expressed this as being more like sighted people and some
> as being efficient and graceful. Nonreaders on the other hand feel that
> Braille increases the gap between them and the sighted world, evoking
> (rather than counteracting) unflattering stereotypes of blindness, which
> they too reject. Both groups were quick to judge the other. Based on their
> own inexperience with the other's method, they were willing to draw quite
> dramatic conclusions and call names. These were the most difficult passages
> to work through since I kept stopping to wonder if this is a division
> within our community that we can afford.
>      B3: "I suppose Braille does make me feel more like a sighted person
> in a sighted culture. This is in part, I think, because reading is reading,
> whether it be Braille or print. I view feeling like a sighted person in a
> sighted culture positively, though I know some would disagree. This is not
> because I want to deny my blindness but because I don't feel a need for my
> blindness to be a primary identifier. If I'm not wasting time wading
> through a bunch of cross-cultural dynamics pertaining to being blind, I can
> spend more time dealing with professional concerns, making friends, just
> going about the business of life. I guess I think that I want to minimize
> the time that I and others have to spend paying attention to blindness as
> difference. Also there are times when it's important to pay attention to
> the ways in which blindness makes us different, so it's kinda nice, I
> suppose, that reading doesn't have to be one of them."
>      B4: "If I had to do it from memory or from a tape prompt . . . I just
> think that'd be kind of klutzy. That's what concerns me a lot. They'll
> [nonreaders] be with an earphone or headphones and the tape might have
> their outline on it, and they'll be speaking, but you could tell. It's very
> obvious. There's a break in the flow. Some of those things are kind of
> obvious in some people."
>      B5: "Before my life here I was in law school. I took a course called
> Trial Technique, where our final exam was we had to try a case in front of
> a group of jurors, and I had my Braille notes there, and I was giving my
> opening, and it was smooth because I had read it over. I had rehearsed it
> in my mind. I had practiced it before. And I think, if I had to rely on a
> tape recorder, there would've been a lot of stops and starts. It would have
> been jerky, and I would have lost the jury's attention."
>      B6: "And also to a sighted audience, I think that would be a
> distraction if they see somebody fiddling with a tape machine or listening
> or knowing that they have an earphone in. I mean, to me that would be
> obvious. If you're reading from a card, that would look a little bit more
> natural, even though you've got one hand on the card."
>      A3: "It is true that I have an image of Braille as making me more
> like a blind person: ugly associations that are standard. From when I was
> sighted and younger and saw how some blind people acted. It seemed kind of
> pathetic, some of it. Barely progressing along, tapping clumsily, and . . .
> unclean and . . . who knew what, and I think I associate Braille with some
> of those negative images."
>      A4: "It's true that I tend to think of thick, funny-looking books as
> part of a negative gestalt image of blindness. Braille is a musty old-world
> image about blind people stuck away, and that sort of thing . . . [Tape]
> seems more sleek and high-tech.
>      "Braille equals adjusted to blindness? In general, many readers
> believe that a blind person's failure to learn Braille reflects an
> underlying lack of adjustment to the loss of sight. Nonreaders,
> understandably, object to this interpretation, seeing the issue of reading
> media as a choice between valid alternatives. Braille is simply one method
> of accessing the printed word-not necessarily the best one-and it has
> nothing to do with lurking, unconscious maladjustment."
>      B7: [in response to the question of why a particular person didn't
> learn to read Braille] "Maybe that person wasn't comfortable with their
> vision loss."
>      A5: [in response to the statement above] "Sounds like someone's got
> some kind of schoolmarmish . . . . It reeks to me of some kind of
> Protestant, ethicky, prejudiced way of thinking . . . . It's a normative
> way of thinking. They like their blind people to be a certain way . . . .
> They like their blind people to be nice, disabled persons."
>      Definition of Literacy and Need for Reading: Again, understandably,
> the groups differ dramatically in their functional definition of literacy.
> Readers often take the hard line, equating literacy with unmediated visual
> or tactile reading. Some characterize voice synthesizers and tape recorders
> as props: only finger-reading is reading. Only finger-reading is
> sophisticated enough to give you flexible access to literature. Nonreaders
> take a more complex, cognitive/social stance. They tend to define literacy
> in terms of the ability to manipulate text or to freely use the register of
> written English. They emphasize intellectual ability to do the job over
> direct perception of written characters as a defining feature of literacy.
>      B8: "If you don't have vision and don't read Braille, you're
> illiterate."
>      B9: "Not only is speech slower when you want it to go faster, but you
> have less flexibility in varying the speed with which you read a given bit
> of text, and to control the speed, you can't simply let your hands or eyes
> stop or slow down, but you have to begin pushing buttons and changing
> knobs. When a word is spoken, it evaporates into the air and is forever
> gone. One can linger over a written word, savoring it, pondering it,
> fitting it into context, and so on. While one can go back and replay a
> tape, this involves added activity and repetition rather than contemplative
> pausing.
>      "Perhaps this is a literary thing, but often when reading a text, I
> will be struck by the author's choice of a given word, and sort of hang
> there for a moment, thinking about why she or he might have chosen that
> particular word or phrase."
>      A6: "I come on the scene at a time when I can leapfrog past Braille."
>      A7: "I don't need it to take notes with because I've got that covered
> with my little tape recorder. I don't need it to read because now I have a
> scanner and one of those Kurzweil things . . . and tapes and talking
> computers. I just don't need it. I sort of need it for labeling things. I
> wish some technology could leapfrog on that, too . . . ."
>      A8: "Do I feel illiterate? It's an interesting, funny question. Hmm.
> I don't feel illiterate because I . . . can manipulate text. I guess the
> feeling is that there's such an easy connection between manipulation of
> keystroke on computer and doing things with words and letters. Of course
> I'm not illiterate; I type."
>      A9: "How does that apply to reading? I'm so skilled at manipulating
> the reading aloud of the words: I can go one word at a time and have it
> spelled. The connections between doing that and the visual process of
> reading are so strong that it feels like literacy."
>      A10: "I manipulate tapes so easily. I can pause over the word that
> way. I've been known to replay a phrase five times if I want to get exact
> words. I can slow down. Some people are natural musicians. They just meld
> or merge with their instruments. They don't experience the barrier that
> they're working with bulky, mechanical objects. Their own energy flows and
> continues on over the instrument . . . and I feel relatively like that with
> cassette recorders."
>      Interpretation of and Distance from Texts: In addition to objecting
> to the barrier of the tape recorder, Braille readers express the idea that
> silent reading puts them in a more intimate relationship with the text and
> its author. Nonreaders either welcome the narrator's interpretation or
> ignore it without noticing.
>      B10: "To me there is greater distance between text and reader; there
> is a go-between, the person reading, or the speech output software. Some of
> those readers are dreadful . . . . I guess that's part of it too; speaking
> implies at least some level of interpretation. I have refused to read
> [i.e., listen to recordings of] certain books just because I didn't like
> the tone of a reader's voice or the way she or he dealt with questions of
> phrasing. But when I'm reading, I'm the one in charge of interpreting, and
> the only voice I have to deal with is the one inside my own imagination."
>      A11: "I find it enriching. There's enough room in my mind to
> accommodate both the author and reader as people I'm visiting. Whatever the
> reader is doing doesn't affect my interpretation of what the author is
> saying. It adds a dimension. I can extrapolate from the reader what the
> author is saying, including punctuating it differently. I'm doing an extra
> thing in my mind. Sometimes I get the same book read by the Library of
> Congress and by RFB or-you know the way RFB books are typically read by a
> string of readers. It's fun to have them switch."
>      Readers and nonreaders have more in common than we might have
> thought. Both groups have thought through their choices with some care.
> Both presented themselves as confident, adjusted, articulate adults who
> value independence and self-determination. Both were ambitious, organized,
> strong-willed, and hardworking.
>      Upon honest reflection, none of the non-Braille readers felt that
> they were missing anything. Nor did they seem especially defensive or shy
> (an attitude frequently evidenced by sighted people who are unable to read
> print.) They weren't especially hostile toward Braille; it just wasn't in
> their game plan. When I asked if they would be willing to find out more
> about Braille or take a preliminary lesson just for fun, nobody reacted
> with hostility or resentment. Their responses reminded me a lot of my own
> usual reaction when a salesperson tries to interest me in the latest, hot
> new mobility gismo: say a curb and flagpole detecting gadget. I think,
> sure, I could have a look, but lacking any evidence at all that I need it,
> the idea slowly slips lower and lower on my list of priorities until it
> quietly disappears off the bottom. I never quite get around to it. The
> salesperson stops calling eventually, probably with a sigh, thinking how
> much better off I'd be if only I weren't so closed-minded. By that time
> I've completely forgotten about it, feeling not one bit worse off.
>      So where does this leave me as an advocate for Braille literacy? It
> leaves me squarely where I started in Ecuador years ago, but now a bit
> wiser for having made the journey. No marketing approach or set of pointed
> questions or line of persuasive rhetoric can lead a person who is
> comfortable with his or her lifestyle to change approach radically. Why
> change when everything is already fine? That doesn't mean that I give up. I
> acknowledge that the charge-straight-in approach is not the best way. There
> is a way to affect even long-standing habits, but it's subtle and requires
> both more work and more self-examination and discipline than most public
> relations campaigns.
>      The only way I can see to effect what amounts to a cultural shift for
> nonreaders is to live a viable, better alternative. I didn't say present,
> demand, or preach; I said live. I can change my community only through
> gentle, joyful action, becoming the change I wish to see. Advocating that
> other people learn Braille is a less effective way of spreading Braille
> literacy than allowing everyone, blind and sighted, to see through our
> daily actions just how damned terrific, beautiful, and useful Braille is in
> its own right. It's not a second-class substitute for print that I can take
> or leave; it's our community treasure. Our collective understanding of
> these facts will shape the way we live, play, and work, and eventually it
> will shape the way Braille is perceived.
>      After all, the evidence that I need to go out and buy that curb and
> flagpole detector comes not in the form of the brochure from the
> salesperson but rather in the form of blind people I respect who quietly
> use their own as a matter of course and clearly benefit from it. Only then
> can I see that I may need one too. It doesn't do the salesperson any good
> to keep calling, and if I'm constantly harangued by users of the device
> saying that I must have one or I'm some kind of pathetic, dependent loser,
> my desire to go out and buy one evaporates completely.
> So at its heart this isn't about what nonreaders think or about what
> readers say. It's about what readers do and about the way we treat one
> another. We can't coerce or convince nonreaders to take up Braille or force
> newly blinded folk to learn it, but we can, through our own consistent
> joyful use of Braille, make it practically irresistible.
>                                 ----------
> [PHOTO CAPTION: Brian Buhrow]
> When New Laws Change Old Rights: What Is Being Lost in All the Media Hype?
>                               by Brian Buhrow
>      From the Editor: Sometimes one wonders whether what we hear and see
> in the news is a genuine attempt to cover the things that shape and mold
> our country or whether some of it is an attempt to dodge broader and more
> important issues. No matter how you come down on the issue, every
> legislative body should ensure that the bills it passes contain provisions
> directly related to the topic it is meant to address. If the bill is
> addressing the safe operation of motor vehicles, it should not be used to
> institute a new leash law or implement a food safety regulation.
>      Brian Buhrow is best known for his work as an engineer involved in
> the field of communications, but he was also an English literature major,
> and when we need someone to combine issues of the heart and issues of the
> head, it is hard to find anyone better. Here is what Brian has to say:
>      With all the noise recently in the news about the trans-gender issue
> and making sure they have equal and unimpeded access to restrooms and
> changing areas, there's been some discussion of North Carolina's new H-2
> law which says that state entities don't have to provide access to general
> restrooms for trans-gender folks. However, were you also aware that this
> same law repeals the right of individuals who may be terminated from their
> jobs or denied access to state services because of their race, sexual
> orientation, or disability to seek redress in the state courts for the
> discrimination practiced against them? When the governor was asked about
> this, his response was that, because he didn't have line-item veto and
> because he had to pass the H-2 law, he felt it was an acceptable tradeoff
> to sacrifice fifty years of civil rights gains for entire classes of people
> in order to address this hot button issue. He vowed to correct the
> injustice but was unapologetic about his action.
>      I am reminded of the Social Security laws of this country and the
> linkage that was lost between the blind and seniors when the earnings
> limits were raised for seniors but not for the blind. This happened about
> twenty years ago. When we went to Congress, we were assured this was a mere
> oversight and that it would be easy to fix with the next round of Social
> Security legislation that would come before Congress. Today, twenty years
> later, the issue is still unfixed, and every year we go to Congress and ask
> for this injustice to be corrected. By now, the earnings limits for seniors
> have been raised so high above those of the blind that Congress is telling
> us it would be too expensive to make the change now.
>      How ephemeral our rights really are when they can be wiped out with
> the stroke of a pen for a law that ostensibly doesn't have anything to do
> with us. We're a small minority in comparison with other minorities in
> North Carolina, but if other states draw up laws similar to North
> Carolina's and use their language, we'll find ourselves back in 1960 before
> we know it.
>      I think we are well-served by letting our membership know about the
> insidious side effects of these laws so that they can contact their state
> legislators and make it clear that we're not in favor of any law that
> abrogates our rights as blind people, whether or not it is an intentional
> effect of the law or not. For my part, I think this change in North
> Carolina is entirely intentional, and legislators were hoping to slip this
> nuclear option under the radar of their citizenry. How shameful!
>                                 ----------
> [PHOTO CAPTION: Parnell Diggs]
>                Running Out the Clock on Regulations Release
>                              by Parnell Diggs
>      From the Editor: Parnell Diggs is the director of government affairs
> for the National Federation of the Blind. Before taking his position in
> 2015, Parnell was a member of the national board of directors. He also
> served for more than fifteen years as the president of the National
> Federation of the Blind of South Carolina. Here is what he has to say about
> the interminable delay in issuing regulations that are so important to
> blind people wishing to participate fully in the commerce of our nation:
>      I was a huge basketball fan growing up. Born in Charlotte, North
> Carolina (and raised by parents who had lived in North Carolina all of
> their lives), I was imminently familiar with four universities in the state
> which made up half of the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC), which at that
> time was comprised of eight schools. I was always partial to the North
> Carolina teams.
>      One of my fondest basketball memories is of watching an ACC
> tournament game with my dad on a weekend afternoon as the North Carolina
> Tar Heels and the Virginia Cavaliers were involved in a game which had
> national implications because both teams were ranked high in the polls. I
> have not investigated the accuracy of my memories of the game (which are
> now approaching thirty-five years on), but here is the gist.
>      The Tar Heels had the ball and a one-point lead with thirteen minutes
> remaining-an eternity in college basketball, especially in a game that
> close. Tar Heel coach Dean Smith instructed his team to run the "Four
> Corners" offense, which arguably was actually no offense at all. The
> players spread out (using all four corners of the court) and passed the
> ball to each other without taking a shot until the end of the game.
>      It was only a few years later when men's college basketball rules
> were amended to implement a shot clock. There was already a shot clock in
> the women's game. I had forgotten about the old "Four Corners" offense
> until recently, when I read the Supplemental Advanced Notice of Proposed
> Rulemaking (SANPRM) on web accessibility, which is a right already
> protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
>      In July of 2010, the Department of Justice (DOJ) issued an Advanced
> Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM) leading us to believe that much-
> needed guidance for state and local governments and places of public
> accommodation on how to insure that their websites were accessible to blind
> consumers, as required under Titles II and III of the ADA, was forthcoming.
> For six years we waited with great anticipation.
>      At the time President Obama called the forthcoming regulations, "the
> most important updates to the ADA since its original enactment." The ANPRM
> was published on July 26, 2010, the twentieth anniversary of the ADA. On
> July 20, 2015, President Riccobono invited me to be part of a delegation to
> the White House to celebrate the twenty-fifth anniversary of the ADA.
> Nearly five years after the ANPRM, we were hopeful that an announcement
> would be made regarding the web accessibility regulations. We were
> disappointed.
>      No such announcement was made at the White House ceremony
> commemorating the ADA despite the President's earlier observation of the
> monumental importance of the web accessibility regulations. As 2015 drew to
> a close, we were again disappointed when DOJ announced that, in fact, the
> regulations regarding websites of public accommodations would not be
> released until 2018 at the earliest.
>      Then, as if that wasn't disappointing enough, on April 29, 2016, we
> were advised that DOJ would be issuing the above mentioned SANPRM, further
> delaying the release of the Title II regulations as well, which are
> applicable to state and local government websites.
>      In a press release issued at the time, Mark A. Riccobono, President
> of the National Federation of the Blind, said: "This deplorable
> announcement by the Department of Justice is another example of inexcusable
> foot-dragging on the issue of web accessibility, which is critical to the
> education, employment, and daily life of blind Americans. Delaying the
> equal access of the blind to American society by failing to provide clarity
> in technology accessibility is inconsistent with the administration's goal
> of full participation by people with disabilities. This failure also puts
> public entities seeking clear guidance on how to meet their obligations to
> consumers and constituents with disabilities at a severe disadvantage, with
> no direction on how to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act in
> the provision of information and services over the internet. The questions
> that DOJ raises in the Supplemental Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking
> did not newly arise in the six years since the original Advanced Notice of
> Proposed Rulemaking, nor is the continuing evolution of technology an
> excuse for revisiting them. The National Federation of the Blind
> unequivocally condemns today's action and urges the administration to issue
> proposed rules with regard to equal access under Titles II and III of the
> Americans with Disabilities Act without further delay. We further urge all
> political and civic leaders to join with us in calling on this
> administration to fulfill the promise made and bring clarity to the
> accessibility of public information, commerce, and education in the twenty-
> first century. Let's #UploadTheRegs."
>      The current status of the web accessibility issue is best summed up
> in our June 2016 edition of Imagineering Our Future, which reads as
> follows: "The need for access to public websites continues to be an area of
> critical importance to the NFB. Though the courts have increasingly
> identified that websites fall within the intent and scope of the Americans
> with Disabilities Act and cannot be vehicles of discrimination and
> exclusion against blind citizens, the federal government has yet to confirm
> regulations that would require websites to be accessible to individuals
> with disabilities. The NFB's advocacy for such regulations cannot stop
> until websites are accessible."
>      In May the US Department of Justice published its Supplemental
> Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking titled Nondiscrimination on the Basis
> of Disability; Accessibility of Web Information and Services of State and
> Local Government Entities in the Federal Register. In response to the new
> SANPRM, the NFB is gathering comments and stories from members to highlight
> the importance of access to state and local government websites. We need
> your stories, both positive and negative, regarding the importance of
> accessible state and local government websites-websites for voter
> registration, applying for a state or local government job, appealing a
> property tax assessment, renewing a library book, requesting food stamps,
> registering for a class at your local state or community college, or any
> other state or local government service. Visit <www.nfb.org/TitleIISANPRM>
> for steps on how you can help the NFB advocate for accessible websites,
> and/or contact Kyle Walls at (410) 659-9314, extension 2223, or
> <kwalls at nfb.org>. We will be gathering member stories through July 15.
> Those who are reading this article later in July should know that, while we
> would like your input by July 15, the DOJ deadline is August 8, 2016.
> Please get in touch with Kyle Walls if you would like to help, and he will
> tell you how to do that.
>      I know that President Obama is a big basketball fan. He would no
> doubt be familiar with the expression "running out the clock," as his time
> in office draws to a close over the next six months. Clearly, the most
> important updates to the ADA since their enactment will have to wait until
> a new administration is in place. The danger is that we do not know how
> important web accessibility will be to the next president.
>      While talking about the desire to provide guidance, it seems that the
> current administration is engaging in the old "Four Corners" offense when
> it comes to the release of the web accessibility regulations. I wonder if
> we need a shot clock.
>                                 ----------
> [PHOTO CAPTION: Sheila Koenig]
>                         Throwing Away the Road Map
>                              by Sheila Koenig
>      From the Editor: Sheila Koenig is a blind teacher of sighted middle-
> school students in Minneapolis. She is lively and energetic and has many
> interests. One of them is testing the boundaries that are often assumed to
> come with being blind-traveling known routes, being accompanied by someone
> with sight when venturing to new places, and doing extensive planning
> before taking a trip. Here is Sheila's story about going beyond these
> boundaries in her quest for choice and spontaneity:
>      It began as a seed planted in my writing and Zen class. In talking
> about being attached to plans, Ted (the instructor) mused that, whenever we
> have road maps, we ought to throw them away. Thus began the thread of
> thoughts: I like getting lost. I like the adventure. I like the stories. I
> like bonding with my companion in our shared lostness. But, I wondered,
> what if I was alone? Would I still enjoy getting lost? Would I embrace
> adventure and novelty, or would I confine myself to my own comfort zone? I
> decided there was one way to find out.
>      Without a road map and by myself I ventured to Red Wing, Minnesota.
> Red Wing is a community of about 16,000 people located in the southeastern
> part of Minnesota along the Mississippi River. I chose it because I wanted
> to go to a small town, a community where I could hear stories and meet
> people. I simply wanted to follow where the moments led.
>      A few days before my trip, I discovered a new journaling app called
> Zentries. Each time the app is opened, a new quote appears. When I opened
> the app to journal the night before my trip, the quote read, "The lesson is
> letting go. The lesson is always letting go. Have you ever noticed how much
> of our agony is all tied up with craving and loss?" by Susan Gordon Lydon.
> We live in a society that clings to security and certainty. Though taking
> various forms, consciously or unconsciously, we grasp for things to steady
> us, for permanence. For me this quote was emblematic of my trip. I was
> letting go of expectations, letting go of plans, and letting go of the
> known. 
>      The avenues of the trip were fascinating. In my first conversation
> with Lauren, the concierge at the St. James Hotel, I learned about a new
> bookstore. "I don't know why," he said. "But you look like someone who
> loves books." Amusedly I told him that I teach English. And I set out to
> find the bookstore. I learned about a sailing group in the Twin Cities, met
> a man considering a career change to education, met a kayak guide with a
> connection to the meditation center I attend, and learned about a
> science/art charter school in Napa, California. From my kayak guide I
> learned about a local bakery, and at the bakery I learned they made the
> crust for the pizza at the local brewery. The crust is outstanding!
>      My blindness mattered very little on this trip. I hired a driver to
> take me from Minneapolis to Red Wing. I knew that most of Red Wing could be
> accessed by foot, and I felt that part of embracing this journey was
> letting go of having all of the answers. Sometimes I think anticipating
> potential roadblocks can keep us from fully experiencing life. I could not
> have planned, for example, that Broken Paddle Guiding Company would offer
> to pick me up from my hotel because we were near the launch site of my
> kayak tour. I had kayaked only once before, on a small lake at a relative's
> cabin, but I was determined to feed my sense of adventure without worrying
> about the details. As it turned out, I was the only tourist signed up for
> the tour. After a quick lesson on land of basic paddling strokes, I set out
> in my own kayak. My tour guide accompanied me in his. We paddled the
> backwaters of the Mississippi and navigated the flooded forest
> successfully. I did get tangled in some branches, but his directions guided
> me out of the tangle. We talked about turtles, education, and meditation.
> My blindness was never an issue for me or for those I encountered.
>      Looking back on this trip nearly half a year later, I marvel at the
> joys I found. I had no expectations or preconceptions. In throwing away the
> road map, I was able to be present with the moments that evolved along the
> way.
>                                 ----------
> [PHOTO DESCRIPTION: A formal place setting, complete with place card
> bearing the Whozit logo and the words, "Miss Whozit"]
>                               Ask Miss Whozit
>      It is always a pleasure to hear from people who read the Braille
> Monitor, and the occasional thank you can often make my day. Even the
> questions and criticisms are often blessings in disguise, because they
> cause me to look outside what I have traditionally thought of as suitable
> material for this publication.
>      One of the more persistent questions I have received in the last year
> or so is why I have decided to discontinue the Miss Whozit column. The
> simple answer is that I have not. The idea of the piece, which started in
> 1989, was to answer questions that came from readers with the hope that we
> would both encourage questions some might feel embarrassed to ask of
> friends and family and that we might, through pooling the expertise of our
> membership, come up with good answers that would serve well if only they
> were shared widely.
>      Three of the questions that have appeared in the Miss Whozit column
> have come from me. When I asked them of those I loved and trusted, I felt
> they were ducked. Either I was told that they were not important, that they
> did not happen in my life, or that there was nothing I could do about them.
> I thought that the Braille Monitor might give me a better answer. It did.
> With the knowledge that it can and the hope that it will, we are reprinting
> some examples from the column. Enjoy.
> Dear Miss Whozit,
>      I did not have enough proper blindness training when I was young, so
> I'm never sure when it is appropriate for me to touch food when I'm eating
> food on my own plate or serving myself from a buffet. Can you help?
> Apprehensive
> Dear Apprehensive,
>      You have asked a good question. Miss Whozit believes that two basic
> considerations determine appropriate handling of food: sanitation and the
> rules of etiquette. Some foods are appropriate for touching: fried chicken
> on the bone, French fries, breads, and most relishes (celery, radishes,
> olives, carrot sticks, etc.), as well as cookies, candy, and small tarts
> and quiches.
>      However, it is Miss Whozit's firmly held opinion that most other
> foods should not be touched but maneuvered with knife, fork, or spoon. You
> should never touch food being passed until you have served yourself. If
> you're unsure what is on the platter or in the bowl being passed, quietly
> ask the person who passed it to you.
>      Miss Whozit is painfully aware that some blind people have not
> learned to serve themselves. She suggests that, if you can't do so
> confidently, you should ask a person near you to place a serving on your
> plate rather than skipping the item altogether.
>      You can eat the food on your own plate quite easily without
> inordinate touching by using a dinner roll or biscuit to stabilize what you
> want to slide on to the fork. The same thing can be accomplished using the
> European method of using the knife in the non-dominant hand to cut and
> stabilize food while wielding the fork in the other hand in the usual way.
>      Miss Whozit insists that everyone-and she does mean everyone-needs
> practice in handling table etiquette gracefully and competently. It is a
> necessary art if one is to be accepted socially, and like all others the
> skills must be mastered.
>      Miss Whozit has heard the rumor that the NFB argues that blindness
> can be reduced to the level of a nuisance, and she believes that it is a
> nuisance-nothing more-for a blind person to go through a buffet line.
> Because it is never acceptable to put your fingers in someone else's food,
> the blind person must accept the nuisance and learn how to cope with it.
>      Miss Whozit finds two ways acceptable: If an attendant is staffing
> the table, ask that person to assist you by telling you what is in each
> bowl and on each platter so that you can find the serving piece and serve
> yourself. Or, alternatively, simply have someone serve your plate for you.
>      When all is said and done, Miss Whozit dreams of a world in which all
> blind people are properly trained and graciously accepted by others.
> Dear Miss Whozit:
>      Over the years, even at NFB conventions, I have observed people,
> particularly those born blind or without families who taught them how to
> handle themselves in public. I have just enough vision to notice
> inappropriate behavior and sometimes correct myself when I observe the way
> sighted people behave. I can then ask for advice about how things should be
> done. It is often embarrassing but also rewarding.
>      One thing that should be addressed when people are ready for
> employment after going through our training centers is habitual rocking or
> other repetitive motions. Several sighted friends who have worked in the
> corporate world have asked me about this behavior, and frankly I cannot
> think of an adequate answer.
>      Why do people who are blind, particularly those who have been in
> residential schools, rock? I was helping in a booth in the exhibit hall one
> year, and my partner was sitting Indian fashion on a folding chair, rocking
> back and forth, swinging a keychain from side to side in front of his face
> and shaking his head. I do not know how he kept from falling out of the
> chair. In the course of conversation I discovered this man had been to
> college and had several degrees but had been unsuccessful for years in
> finding a job. I asked him if he had figured out why, and he said that he
> did not know. He said he wore clean jeans and t-shirts to the interviews
> and made sure he had showered that morning. I asked if he had ever taken a
> job-readiness class in college, and he said that he didn't need one. All he
> had to do was present his résumé and recommendation letters. Setting aside
> the question of inappropriate dress for an interview, he is not the only
> person I have seen rocking or exhibiting unusual behavior.
>      Should I have tried to say something direct enough to make him
> recognize his unacceptable behavior without making him angry or
> embarrassing him? Whether we want to admit it or not, the majority of
> people in human resources are sighted and extremely dependent on first
> impressions. I worked in an office for almost thirteen years and had to
> maintain a certain level of decorum. Aren't these subjects addressed at our
> training centers? What about the importance of good posture and appropriate
> body language?
> Sincerely,
> Decent Impression
> Dear Decent Impression:
>      You have raised a very important yet sensitive issue that often falls
> into the category of the elephant in the living room that everyone
> studiously avoids mentioning. It falls into the broad category of behavior
> often called "blindisms"-idly or vigorously rocking front to back or side
> to side, twisting the head from side to side, rubbing the eyes, fluttering
> fingers in front of the eyes to make sure they still work, twisting hair,
> and other equally odd mannerisms. The second part of the equation is the
> reaction of sighted people to any unusual, different, or even unacceptable
> human behavior.
>      Miss Whozit wishes to begin by pointing out a truth which should be
> self-evident but nevertheless needs occasional repeating: sighted people
> can see! Strange as it may seem, some blind people apparently forget this
> reality from time to time and engage in activities in public which are
> disgusting or embarrassing to those watching. Any human being, blind or
> sighted, may well engage in activities in private which are simply
> unacceptable when the behavior is or may be observed by others. Dr. Kenneth
> Jernigan wrote extensively on this topic in his article "The Barrier of the
> Visible Difference" in the Kernel Book Gray Pancakes and Gold Horses.
> Blindisms have been discussed and written about widely. Miss Whozit is sad
> to report that some people propound deep psychological and philosophical
> foundations to explain this phenomenon, and perhaps they are right.
> Unfortunately such explanations do not provide an excuse that lets the
> blind person off the social hook. Miss Whozit is convinced that the reasons
> for such behavior are simple. All small children engage in a variety of
> behaviors that are universally unacceptable. If little Suzie is sighted,
> her parents and other relatives will say, "Stop picking your nose [or
> whatever]! You may not do that. That is a nasty habit." Moreover, the
> concerned adults will keep at it until the habit is broken.
>      If little Suzie is blind, however, many parents and other adults seem
> to be reluctant or even afraid to hold the blind child to the sighted
> standard. When the parents listen to the faux experts in the field rather
> than the authentic experts (the organized blind), the expectation for
> normal and appropriate behavior becomes obscured. When this happens, what
> begins as a petty little habit eventually becomes a hard-wired
> characteristic which is nearly impossible to reverse.
>      These unacceptable mannerisms then run headlong into the social
> expectations of sighted society and reinforce the minority-group status of
> the blind. If a sighted person engages in some activity which is not the
> norm (some do), those around him or her dismiss the undesirable habit as
> the actions of a weirdo. Other sighted people are not tarred by the
> weirdness brush and are certainly not placed in that category just because
> of the odd behavior of one weirdo. When, however, a blind person exhibits
> such behavior, many in society judge all blind people by the unacceptable
> or bizarre behavior of the one. Like it or not, we blind people are already
> thought of as different and are scrutinized more closely. Adding the
> unacceptable behavior compounds the novelty of blindness and the attention
> it draws.
>      In his book Freedom for the Blind, Jim Omvig devotes an entire
> chapter to the topic of blending in and endeavoring to behave in such a way
> that one is acceptable to others. Miss Whozit pleads with parents of blind
> children to read this chapter and also to be relentless in their effort to
> stamp out overtly bizarre behavior or even silly little habits. What can
> and should adults do to combat such behavior in themselves or those they
> care about? If one recognizes personal blindisms, he or she should ask
> friends and family members to offer quiet, private reminders when the old
> habits surface. If friends or family members care about a person who is not
> aware of blindisms, they should go quietly to that person and ask if they
> can help. In either case a private plan should be devised to give a signal
> to the blind person as a reminder that he or she is engaging in the
> activity and should stop.
>      The sad truth is that until and unless the blind adult with such
> habits recognizes them and wishes to be rid of them, no one else can help
> very much. What we can do is to make clear to these friends just how much
> of a problem the behavior is and at what a disadvantage it will put the
> person socially and professionally. We do nothing but harm our children or
> friends by pretending that everyone else will understand or that the
> peculiar behavior will not be as much of a roadblock to social acceptance
> as poor grooming or disgusting table manners.
> Dear Miss Whozit,
>      Lately it seems that all of my girlfriends are dieting or at the
> least hyper-conscious about their carb count. For this reason we constantly
> seem to have lunch at salad bars. Another frequent occurrence is my
> family's visits to all-you-can-eat buffet restaurants. Both of these
> restaurant choices make for uncomfortable dining experiences for me. "Why?"
> you may ask. "Don't you enjoy salads? Or is it that you simply don't have
> enough room in your stomach for all that's available to eat?"
>      The answer is neither. Rather, when I go out to eat, I am unsure
> about how to identify salad dressings and the like at the salad bar. And I
> consider buffets simply nightmares waiting to happen. How do I handle these
> social situations? Eager for your response,
> Buffet Baffled ??
> Dear Baffled,
>      Learning to maneuver through a buffet line with grace and ease can
> feel overwhelming, but, once armed with accurate information and good
> skills, you too will be able to take advantage of the convenience and
> selection provided by this vast array of dietary indulgences. Remember that
> anticipatory anxiety of the unknown is often more unpleasant than the
> actual event.
>      We live in an interdependent society. Sometimes asking for assistance
> is necessary or prudent. As Federationists we have learned the truth of Dr.
> Jernigan's speech, "The Nature of Independence," in which he defines
> independence as doing what we want to do when we want to do it without
> inconveniencing ourselves or others. In that speech he also spoke about the
> importance of accomplishing tasks efficiently rather than always insisting
> on doing them alone. Going through a buffet line is one instance in which
> these two concepts merge.
>      Once you have made the decision to navigate a buffet line, it is
> essential to request assistance from someone. If others in your party are
> going through the buffet line, you can ask one of them to provide the
> visual information and any necessary assistance, or you can ask your server
> if an employee is available to assist you. Which decision you make depends
> on the circumstances. If you are the only one in your party going through
> the buffet line, solicit the assistance of someone on the restaurant staff.
> If you feel at ease asking a member of your party for assistance, it is
> quick and easy to adopt that solution.
>      Once you are ready to make your selections at the buffet, instruct
> the person providing assistance about your preference of the best way to
> move through the line. If you know ahead of time that you are looking
> specifically for salad items, provide this information. If you decide that
> life is really too short and you want to eat dessert first, say so. Let the
> person providing assistance know how you would like the items identified.
>      If you plan to plate your own food, ask that the items be identified
> in a column format going from back to front so you know where each item is
> located when you serve yourself. Be sure when serving your own food to keep
> extra napkins handy to wipe your fingers if you accidentally come into
> contact with stray food items or sauces. It is important to maintain good
> hygiene when handling serving utensils in a public place.
>      Miss Whozit wants to emphasize at this point that you are responsible
> for carrying your own plates, glasses, or bowls. You have requested
> assistance learning what items are on the line and perhaps placing the food
> on your plate, not providing service as a personal butler, carrying your
> selections from the line to the table.
>      One gentle reminder, if you are dining during peak customer hours and
> you realize that a line is forming behind you, make your selections as
> quickly as possible and keep moving. The beauty of a buffet is that you are
> often allowed to return for seconds. So be sure to ask your server ahead of
> time whether you are dining at an all-you-can-eat buffet.
>      Miss Whozit recommends that for your first attempt at negotiating a
> buffet line you go at a time when you will feel at ease so that you will
> begin to gain confidence in the techniques you devise. If you have a blind
> friend who is comfortable handling buffets, you might invite him or her to
> go with you so that you can ask for advice along the way. Remember when
> embarking on any new challenge, the most important thing is to believe that
> it is possible and gather as much information ahead of time as you can.
> Then just do it. As J. Laing Burns says, "You've got to believe if you want
> to succeed."
>                                 ----------
>                                   Recipes
>      This month's recipes come from the National Federation of the Blind
> of Arkansas.
> [PHOTO CAPTION: Terry Sheeler]
>                               Tortellini Soup
>                              by Terry Sheeler
>      Terry Sheeler is the state president for the National Federation of
> the Blind of Arkansas. Tony and Terry and their girls are all proud members
> of the NFB of NWA chapter. Terry has made these recipes for Tony and the
> girls for many years and now that the girls are grown and starting their
> own lives, it is fun to reflect back and see the girls making these family
> recipes that they have enjoyed for many years.
> Ingredients:
> 8 ounce container of chive and onion cream cheese
> 2 bags of frozen tortellini
> 2 pounds of hamburger meat
> 4 green onions, chopped
> 2 family-size cans of tomato soup
> 2 cans of beef broth
> 2 cans diced tomatoes with oregano/basil/garlic
> Garlic to taste
> Onion powder to taste
> Salt to taste
> Cumin to taste
> Pepper to taste
> Splash red wine vinegar
>      Method: Cook beef and season with garlic, onion powder, a small
> amount of cumin, salt, pepper and a small splash of red wine vinegar and
> set aside. In large pot combine tomato soup, beef broth, diced tomatoes
> with oregano/basil/garlic and chopped green onions. Stir constantly until
> it comes to a boil, add the chive and onion cream cheese, stir well so that
> it melts into the soup base.
>      You can either cook the tortellini separately and drain/add
> separately when cooked or add the tortellini to the soup base and let it
> cook in the soup base until done. Once tortellini and soup base are done,
> add the beef mixture.
>      Added suggestion: add real shredded parmesan cheese to the top of
> soup when ready to serve. This recipe makes a large pot and is great for
> families and group gatherings. If you don't need a large amount, you cut
> the recipe in half.
>                                 ----------
>                                Yeller Chili
>                               by Donna Walker
>      Dick and Donna Walker live in Malvern, Arkansas, about forty-five
> miles south of Little Rock. Donna is the first vice president of the
> National Federation of the Blind of Arkansas, secretary of the state's
> chapter at-large and secretary for the board of the Friends of the Arkansas
> Information Reading Service for the Blind Network.
> Ingredients:
> 2 1/2 pounds ground chuck
> 1 medium onion, chopped
> 4 15-ounce cans pinto beans with jalapeño peppers
> 4 15-ounce cans chili hot beans
> 1 or 2 10-ounce cans original diced Ro*Tel tomatoes
> 1 pound Velveeta cheese
> 1 to 2 cups heavy cream
>      Method: In a skillet brown ground chuck and onion. Season with salt
> and pepper to taste and drain off excess grease. In a six- or eight-quart
> crock pot (or eight-quart stockpot) combine beans (do not drain), Ro*Tel
> tomatoes, and browned meat. Cover and cook together until simmering,
> stirring occasionally. Use high heat in slow cooker or on very low heat if
> you use stock pot on top of the range. Add cheese and cook until nearly
> ready to serve. Stir in cream to get desired thickness.
>      Serve over mini Tostitos, Fritos, or Nacho Cheese Doritos crunched in
> bottom of bowl. We like the Nacho Cheese Doritos best.
>                                 ----------
>                             Jalapeño Corn Bread
>                               by Donna Walker
> Ingredients:
> 2 cups self-rising corn meal (I prefer yellow but white will work as well)
> 2 eggs, well beaten
> 1 cup milk
> 1/2 cup cooking oil
> 1 15-ounce can creamed corn
> 1/2 small onion, chopped
> 2 cups grated cheese
> 12 to 15 jalapeño slices, chopped
>      Method: Grease ten-inch iron skillet with shortening or cooking oil.
> Combine corn meal, eggs, milk, cooking oil and creamed corn in a medium
> mixing bowl. Stir in onions, peppers, and grated cheese. Transfer to
> skillet and bake at 350 degrees for forty-five to fifty-five minutes.
> Outside edge and top should be slightly crispy. Loosen outside edge with
> butter knife and cool a few minutes before serving.
>                                 ----------
>                              Country Cold Slaw
>                               by Nella Foster
>      Nella Foster lives in Northwest Arkansas. She is involved with the
> state affiliate and the at-large chapter. She owns and manages a small goat
> dairy, but still has time for hobbies like gardening, crafts, and baking.
> Ingredients:
> 4 cups finely chopped cabbage
> 1 cup grated carrots
> 1/4 cup sour cream
> 1/4 cup vinegar
> 3 tablespoons sugar
> 1 teaspoons salt
> Pinch of dried mustard
> Pinch of black pepper
>      Method: Mix together carrots, sour cream, vinegar, sugar, mustard,
> salt, and pepper. Pour over cabbage and mix well. I think this tastes
> better if it chills in the refrigerator for several hours or even
> overnight. You can garnish with a ring of green pepper if you wish. This
> makes six servings.
>                                 ----------
>                       Best-Ever Peanut Butter Cookies
>                               by Donna Walker
>      Donna says, "A lady I worked with for years used to make these-they
> are wonderful. I got her to give me the recipe when I retired because my
> husband loves peanut butter cookies. Her aunt got it off of the commodity
> peanut butter can back in the 1960s."
> Ingredients:
> 2 1/2 cups flour
> 1/2 teaspoon salt
> 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
> 1 cup peanut butter
> 1 cup granulated white sugar
> 1 cup packed brown sugar
> 1 cup butter or shortening
> 2 eggs, beaten
>      Method: Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Combine flour, salt, and baking
> soda; set aside. Mix together peanut butter, eggs, and fat. Add both white
> and brown sugar and blend with electric mixer. Add in dry ingredients. It
> makes a stiff dough. Drop by teaspoonful, or roll into that size balls, and
> flatten on cookie sheet. Bake for ten to fifteen minutes or until slightly
> browned on edges. Makes four to five dozen cookies, depending on size of
> cookies.
>                                 ----------
>                             Almond Short Bread
>                               by Nella Foster
> Ingredients:
> 1/4 cup butter
> 1 cup brown sugar
> 1 egg
> 1 cup flour
> 1 teaspoon baking powder
> 1/4 teaspoon salt
> 1/2 cup almond slivers
> 1 teaspoon almond extract
>      Method: Melt butter and blend with sugar, add egg and beat well. Sift
> dry ingredients together and then add to butter mixture. Stir until blended
> and then add almonds and almond extract. Mix thoroughly and spread into a
> greased eight-by-eight-inch baking pan. Bake at 350 for thirty minutes. Cut
> the shortbread into squares while it is still warm. It should make sixteen
> to twenty squares. If you toast the almonds first they will have more
> flavor.
>                                 ----------
>                               Punch Bowl Cake
>                              by Terry Sheeler
>      While there is cake involved, this isn't the kind of cake you bake.
> Instead this treat is created by layering the ingredients into a fresh and
> cool dessert, perfect for summer.
> Ingredients:
> 2 angel food cakes
> 1 large box of vanilla instant pudding
> 6 large bananas
> 2 pounds fresh or frozen strawberries
> 2 16-ounce containers of Cool Whip, thawed
> One large clear punch bowl
>      Method: In separate bowls break angel food cake into bite-size pieces
> or a little larger. Follow directions for vanilla pudding; pudding will be
> soft-set. Slice bananas. Quarter the fresh strawberries or thaw frozen
> strawberries and drain.
>      In the large clear punch bowl, layer the following: angel food cake,
> vanilla pudding, sliced bananas, sliced strawberries, and Cool Whip. Repeat
> all the layers until your punch bowl is filled and you have ended with your
> fifth layer of Cool Whip. Top with fresh strawberries if desired. Keep cake
> chilled until ready to serve and, when ready to serve, dip with a large
> spoon.
>                                 ----------
>                             Monitor Miniatures
>      Monitor Mart
>      The notice in this section has 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 product for sale.
> For Sale:
>       I have an Index Basic V4 Braille printer, with Duxbury Program. This
> two-year-old Braille printer is in excellent condition and has never been
> used. This is a small compact Braille printer that fits nicely on a
> desktop; menus are navigated by speech output so it is easily used by both
> sighted and blind individuals. All the original cables are included as well
> as the Duxbury Program which is needed to translate the information into
> Braille. I also have a case of Braille paper for the printer. I'm asking
> $2,900, but I'm willing to work with you on a price that is fair to the
> both of us. Please don't hesitate to contact me with any questions by email
> at <Kaylarichardson0590 at gmail.com>.
>                                 ----------
>                                 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.
> _______________________________________________
> Brl-monitor mailing list
> Brl-monitor at nfbcal.org
> https://nfbcal.org/mailman/listinfo.cgi/brl-monitor
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