[blindkid] RFB&D fundraising

Carrie Gilmer carrie.gilmer at gmail.com
Sun Feb 15 23:15:51 UTC 2009

Dear Michele,
I don't know why you would feel shame in sharing with us the full story.
Indeed, I am very grateful you did. I also believe Carol and others will
rejoice in the full knowledge that as an individual Cooper does indeed today
have great Braille skills. I do not believe Carol had any intention or even
thought about personally tearing down Cooper or his parent.

Carol can indeed speak for herself, and perhaps it struck you so personally
since you do know Copper and had the emotional experience you describe, but
it did not strike me (Carol's post and quote) as a tearing down of others.
Additionally I should add that I know board members and leaders in the RFB&D
entity. They are wonderful people with high expectations for the blind,
believe in Braille, and can work with the blind as colleagues-and we have
had NFB members as members of the RFB&D board. Now they have been in dire
financial straights recently is my understanding. And I as well as Carol
would definitely not want them to go away or even be diminished-we value the
service they provide. 

For a very few auditory is the only path to literacy. BUT for most it is a
supplement and should be a definite supplement only. Tragically there are
many who have it as primary when it should be supplement. Additionally we
constantly fight the MYTH that Braille itself is slow and difficult. This is
plainly-a lie, a full unadulterated lie-myth-fabrication, complete
inaccuracy. IF Braille is slow and difficult for someone it is completely
due to something inherent in the someone-NOT in the medium of Braille. Just
as some have difficulty with print and it is hard to learn to read-or they
are slow print readers-it is not within print that lies the difficulty or
slowness but the individual-for a variety of reasons. 

The quote as written that Carol posted is mostly being sent to those who
have no or little knowledge of Braille. I think it not a stretch to say they
tried to tug at the heart to get funds. This is something we all do
admittedly and we make the great effort to tug at the heart without
compromising the accuracy about blindness or its tools or what it means. I
think it safe and reasonable to say this particular tug at the heart of
donors gives a false impression about Braille and gives us the idea Cooper
had difficulty with Braille and had to stay behind from the field trip
BECAUSE Braille is so hard he could not keep up--IF ONLY HE HAD RFB&D to
replace that hard Braille. Well, the truth is something with Cooper himself
had difficulty keeping up-or maybe he had poor instruction or not enough
practice, BUT IT WAS NOT THE BRAILLE, just as we would not blame print if
Cooper in this situation (and I am sure, in fact I know sighted kids who
have to stay in from field trips and recess because they are behind). Also
what does the running and the playing have to do with it? A book on RFB&D
will help him not feel isolated? 

So, I have to tell you Michele, I am very disappointed and aggravated that
MY FRIENDS at RFB&D took this quote and misrepresented the nature of Braille
and blindness and even Cooper's situation and the REAL benefits of RFB&D for
him or any other student in a desperate plea to get funds. And I would ask
them to think better before sending out such a tear jerker in the future.

I believe this is the voice of reason Michele. I believe this is from open
minds and hearts, and we think they MEANT no mis-representation and will
forgive them, and hope to help them do it better next time. 

As for uniformity as you mention it. And I am somewhat befuddled by what you
mean by that is putting it nicely. We are all robots-taking some
brain-washed stance? That is the rumor some like to spread about us. 

Is uniformity necessarily a bad thing? There are many things we all believe
strongly and uniformly. I think stealing is wrong. Do you? I believe in our
constitution. I believe all men are created equal. Millions of us do. Are we
brainwashed? Robotic in our belief that democracy is the most superior form
of government men have devised? 

We have a uniform and solid philosophical belief about the nature of
blindness. We hold it so strongly and live the evidence and witness the
evidence lived out as proof in the lives of tens of thousands of blind
people everyday-that we now have come to say we have unshakable knowledge.
Within that we know: it is respectable to be blind. The blind have the right
to live in the world. Braille is equal to print. The average blind person
can do the average job as well as the average sighted person. Isolation does
not come from blindness or its tools but from societal attitudes and lack of
proper training.

With an open heart and mind and all the love I have,
Carrie Gilmer, President
National Organization of Parents of Blind Children
A Division of the National Federation of the Blind
NFB National Center: 410-659-9314
Home Phone: 763-784-8590
carrie.gilmer at gmail.com
-----Original Message-----
From: blindkid-bounces at nfbnet.org [mailto:blindkid-bounces at nfbnet.org] On
Behalf Of Michele Chauvin
Sent: Sunday, February 15, 2009 2:23 PM
To: blindkid at nfbnet.org
Subject: [blindkid] RFB&D fundraising

Wow!  I'm almost ashamed to share this.  Not because of the content, but the
irony.  Cooper happens to live in my state.  He is a very well-spoken
teenager with wonderful Braille skills, who is a very competent, capable
young man.  He joined a group of 6 other adults, who traveled to Austin and
spoke before our State Board for Educators Certification.  In
Texas, certified teachers can take an exam in almost any area of education
and get an additional certification.  The blindness community in our state
has rallied to strongly encourage our legislators to change this regarding
CTVIs.  We do not believe it's OK for just any teacher to take a couple of
courses and an exam, then teach our kids, without ever completing the rest
of the coursework or internship, which provides a period of much needed
mentoring from an experience CTVI.  Cooper brought some type of Braille note
taking device with him to the podium that day, and he read his
 entire written testimony.  All the board members stopped in their tracks to
listen to this eloquent and clearly well-educated young man read his
moving speech.  I had to follow him, which was not easy.  So I opened with
that, "Hard act to follow," as I choked back tears of pride.  And, Cooper is
not even my son.  I could only imagine how proud his mom would have been. 
She was unable to attend with him, though his CTVI traveled with him and
also spoke that morning.

Anyway, you might want to think before you respond, both in actions and in
words, regarding others in the blindness community.  If we only tear each
other down, how will we help our children and families progress together
towards a common good.  In all honesty, I am disappointed with these
clearly uninformed (and that is putting it nicely) responses, especially
Carol.  I thought you, along with several others I know, were voices of
reason with an open-minded, open heart attitude.  I hope I was not wrong.

From: "Carol Castellano" <blindchildren at verizon.net>
To: <blindkid at nfbnet.org>; <nopbc-board at nfbnet.org>
Sent: Sunday, February 15, 2009 12:15 AM
Subject: [blindkid] RFB&D fundraising

Hi All,

I recently received the RFB&D "Family News" in the mail.  In their appeal
for "a generous gift," they give a few real life stories.  Here's a quote
from the story on the front page:

"Then came school.  Cooper was aware of the sighted kids, running and
playing and doing their schoolwork independently.  He sometimes felt
isolated.  But he was always able to keep up--until the third grade.  Cooper
tried his hardest to read his books in Braille.  But it was very difficult,
and it took him a long time.  But the end of the year, he had to miss a
special class field trip because he had not met his reading requirements."

OY!  Stuff like that makes me so aggravated!


----Inline Message Follows-----

Hello Carol and listers,

    And the good RFB&D supplied him with his textbooks in an audio format. 
Cooper lived happily ever after because he never truly learned to read; 
something he would have done had he continued to receive his textbooks in 
Braille. Dribble like this comes out of guide dog schools and certain other 
agencies for the blind in their fundraising campaigns and other 
publications. They fill their coffers while doing serious harm to the blind.

Peter Donahue

----Inline Message Follows-----

All the more importance for the National Federation of the Blind--you just
never know where such attitudes continue to linger!

Mark F.

Mark Feliz




VOICE: 480-890-8943
FAX: 480-835-3036

blindkid mailing list
blindkid at nfbnet.org
To unsubscribe, change your list options or get your account info for

More information about the BlindKid mailing list