The Organized Blind


The Organized Blind

     "KNOCK, KNOCK!" The woman used the blunt top end of her long white cane to create a good solid rap on the door.

     "I bet that bell doesn't work and that's why he hasn't answered yet." Said the man. Raising a small note book up very close to his eyes he said, "I know this is the right address, I had him repeat it."

     "HELLO!" The breathless home-owner greeted his visitors when he opened the door. "I was in the back. I didn’t realize that was the door bell.”

     Seated in the living room, "you wanted to talk to me about joining some group, right?"

     "Yes." The man began, "As I was saying, with you being new in town, we wanted to make you aware of the local consumer group of the blind."

     "Yes!" The woman chimed in. "There is so much to be gained from becoming an active member."

     "Well, I’ve never have seen a reason to become a member of a blindness related organization." Answered the home-owner.

     "I use to be of that same mind once too." Said the man.

     "There are many kinds of organizations for the blind, but this one is of the blind." Said the woman.

     "Okay I'm listening, tell me why. Then I tell you what I think about it."

e-mail responses to

**1. “I have been on both sides of this topic. The way I see it, it's a persons
own choice, but I think its a good thing for the Blind to join different

As a 31 year old with RP, I have learned quite allot from an email list I am
on from others who have this same eye condition. By joining a Blind group a
person may be able to learn something that he/she didn't know before. I
just enjoy knowing and meeting different Blind people because I know they go
through the same types of things and struggles as I do.

I don't belong to the NFB or the ACB, but I attend different Blind groups
and I would suggest for anyone to consider joining a group. The NFB and the
ACB work very hard to make the lives of the Blind in this country easier.
They work on national and state legislation which impact the Blind.

These groups can also assist you in different ways. I am an advocate and I
push legislation and do anything to make the lives of the Blind easier. So
if and when you decide to join or not to join a Blind group you should keep
in mind that we are the leaders in this world and we need to learn to work
together to make the lives of Blind children a better and more accessible

Kevin L. Maynus Systems Advocacy Specialist (Beckley, West Virginia USA)

FROM ME: “I saw two major reasons for joining a group- to advocate for changes to make the lives of the blind more successful and for support of one another in the unique characteristics of being blind in a sighted world, adjustment for the newly blind and for all. Let’s see how many times we find these two mentioned.”

**2. “I think blind groups are valuable as well as other disability groups in
order to learn more, get support and to have political power. I think it is
a natural thing as cancer patients might have a group. I don't think it is
a big deal = I think the blind should be in disability groups and
able-bodied groups as they have the need and should be welcomed as anyone
else is. I would be interested in hearing from readers about
groups where they weren't welcome and for what reasons.”

“I forgot to add that the reason I formed my women's disability network whose
web address is listed below is that many disabled people including the blind
have multiple needs - they may have multiple handicaps or have issues with
their handicap. That is another reason I think we need to work together and
pool resources - there isn't time to get hung up about things. Thanks again”

Catherine Alfieri (Pittsford, New York
Monroe County Women's Disability Network

**3. “I have been a member of the local chapter of a state advocacy group of the blind for the past 6 years. In that time I have become involved in several capacities. I have served on the Board of Directors, I have testified
before the state legislature, I have invited other non-profit group members to speak to our group and been involved in many other blindness-awareness related activities. I saw how working with other blind people differs from
working for blind people when I was asked to participate in an evaluation of a state rehabilitation center for the blind. The state rehabilitation agency asked several members of the various state advocacy groups to spend 3
days evaluating the center's programs, processes and procedures. Interestingly, the rehabilitation center was engaging in many activities that were actually counter-productive to the rehabilitation process.

The group I am affiliated with meets once per month and discusses issues related to blindness: Voting rights, Diabetes camps for blind children, Technology training for blind individuals who may not qualify for state
rehabilitation services, etc. the reason I feel that it is more effective
being a group of blind people working for blind people is that we seem to better understand the subtle issues related to blindness. We have experienced the reactions of employers when we have gone on job interviews.
We have seen, first hand, the importance of getting legislation passed relating to issues facing blind people.

My only hope is that we can all get together and work in concert with one another. there must be communication among and between the groups. I realize that differences will exist in ideology and the means taken to get
things done, but I think we need to be careful to be inclusive in our efforts. I especially like this "Thought Provoker" forum, as it gives blind people of all groups the opportunity to express their views and work
together to change attitudes.

Finally, one additional benefit of a group of blind people is the mentor and support available to newly blinded individuals. I have seen people who recently lost their vision visit our monthly group and really get involved.
It gives people an opportunity to share ideas, fears and frustrations with others who have probably experienced the same types of issues.”

David Ondich (Dallas, Texas USA)

FROM ME: “communication between groups and a coordination of effort. Is this happening? If so how? If not why? Think it should?”

**4. “The consumer organizations for the blind have existed for most of this century in one form or another. Now that two exist, most of what's heard about their activities is fighting between the two organizations. This is
not surprising since one of them was the parent to the other of them. Gain, gain what? Certainly not effective advocacy and help with finding that next job. The Bureau Of Labor Statistics Employment demographics in 1984 made it clear that those consumer organizations had interests elsewhere or were very
ineffective with their employment help. See, in order to consume, you first have to be able to pay for what you consume. The equipment for the blind has in many cases astronomical markups on it so you're not going to be
buying much of that equipment on SSI or welfare of any form. So no job nothing to gain. As published in October 1984 Mathilde Ziegler magazine, 76% of the working aged blind had never had their first job. 12% of working
aged blind had part-time or seasonal work, 12% of working aged blind had the full-time jobs, and all who were working were grossly over-qualified for positions they held. Now, perhaps this situation has improved in the year
2000, but if so, why haven't I read about such improvements? I read the blindness-related lists pretty much regularly, and would think the Clinton Administration or any other government administration that had an
improvement to show as a result of their work would be shouting it to the high heavens if for no other reason to try to help their party out with a few more votes in the coming election. But I don't hear anything from those
sources either. So really, what is their to be gained by an active association with either or both of these organizations?”

Later: “If all of the blind consumer organizations had managed to push the boulder
of discrimination 1 millimeter you could make that argument. What allot of the critics are asking is what's 1 millimeter worth?”

Jude DaShiell (Lexington park, Maryland USA)

FROM ME: “Who can counter this account?”

**5. “I feel that we should be a community helping each other. Reading this story brought one thing to mind, what would happen if we were the "normal" and sightedness was the "abnormal". How would be treat the sited people?

Another thought, is this home owner blind as well?”

Reinhard Stedner (USA)

**6. “I think I'd do pretty much what I would do in a given case scenario at my job site--ask questions, find out the facts, read any info that happens to be available. If it were to my liking, I'd join, assuming I had the time to
do so, and be as active as I could be. If I didn't, and the viewpoints expressed by those wishing to get me involved didn't quite coincide with my own, I'd not.”

John D. Coveleski (New York, New York USA

**7. “I feel that when we look for a group to join we all try to find something we are interested in so we can get involved in . If someone try to get you to join a group they need to sell what that group stands for or what
kind of activities they get involved with and if you all agree then you most likely will join . I think one that one of the ways groups loose many of their members happens to be the lack of keeping them busy or the
projects don't interest them any more. I think one other way groups loose folks is the don't keep in touch with members often enough . I find that keeping busy and keeping in touch is the most important things that needs
to happen .”

Ed "Doc" Bradley

FROM ME: “Keeping the troops busy and interested. Yes, any other key elements to keeping your people?”

**8. “united we stand divided we fall

yes indeed, I believe in being a participant in a blind consumer organization. when I lost my sight back in the 70s, recordings began to arrive in my mail box. I guess someone found out about me somehow.
these recordings came from the NFB and were the beginning of the formation of my philosophy on blindness. these days, however, I am finding more and more blind folks who are critical
of blindness consumer organizations.

I suppose many of their arguments are valid, but without such organization, we would be farther behind than we presently are.”

Brian (Blind-X List)

**9. “Over the years, since my blindness, I haven't had any success with blindness related organizations; however, I have had great success with e-lists such as, b(blind-x and Odyssey.) Most of the organizations that I have come in
contact with have been clannish. If you're not in the (in group) you might as well not be in at all.”

Yvonne Newbert (Blind-X list)

FROM ME: “What about this, “in Group,” Thing? If this exists in organizations for the blind, is it the same or different then in groups of sighted people? If it is… how do we either live with them and go on with the group or how do we work with them to not develop and cause problems?”

**10. “I was born sighted and had 20/20 vision until 16 years ago when I lost my sight in an auto accident. All my family and friends had no idea how to deal with a blind person. I felt alone and knew that nobody around me
understood how I felt. I spent three years in and out of the hospital and rehabilitation. Two years after that I spent a year in Arkansas at Lion's World Services for the Blind and it was then that I was around other blind
people. It was a relief to be around people and not have to explain. I had to learn how to be a blind person in a sighted world.

I now work for the Forest Service. When I started working I needed adaptive equipment to do my job. It took a lot of time and energy to get it all together. It was a struggle. I knew I couldn't be the only blind person
working for the Forest Service so I set about trying to find all blind employees. So far I have located seven. I am trying to start a newsletter so we can share ideas, experiences, and support. So far communications
between most of us has been over the telephone and email and this has been helpful. There is a common ground for us. We understand the issues or problems we have had to deal with as blind people working in a sighted
world. And, hopefully, we can work together to help one another.”

April Lea Porter (Blind-X List)

FROM ME: “Above is a reason to organize; is it not? Might they also wish to seek others like them out side of their particular employment?”

**11. “A few years ago, I visited an ear-nose-throat specialist because of
chronic sinusitis, and as invariably happens if someone knows another blind person, the doctor said, "My son-in-law is blind." He went on to regale me with the young man's professional successes, how wonderfully
well-adjusted he was, etc. I asked his name, stating that I was an activist in the National Federation of the Blind.
"Oh, he doesn't have anything to do with those blindness groups," the doctor replied. "He does so very nicely; he doesn't have a need for that."
"Other blind people might have a need for *him*," I thought to myself, bristling.
I was outraged that someone might look down on another for having the gall to work with others sharing a common characteristic to make the lives of others who share the trait better. I ranted about what he was implying
about me to my husband as we drove home. Then I thought back to my first NFB convention, which I attended only
because I had won a scholarship, in the summer of 1987. I remember thinking how militant and propagandist the sessions seemed; I felt as if I was being brainwashed to become hostile to agencies,
institutions, etc. I agreed with a lot of what was being said, but as far as I was concerned, my mother had fought for my opportunities and spoken for me as I grew, not this loud bunch of rabble-rousing
strangers. Where was this wonderful organization when the PTA wanted me out of the regular classroom, when I was being physically and emotionally terrorized on the playground, when I was told there weren't any
successful blind role models to look up to? All these things they were taking credit for, and I hadn't even known of NFB's existence, and I sure as heck didn't owe these people anything. Now, thirteen years later, I am an active officer in my local chapter and the president of the state division for parents of blind children. And I
rankle at the utter apathy and unwillingness to do anything to improve the opportunities of their *own* children's lives, let alone the lives of other blind persons' by the parents I work with. They attend meetings
only when they need something and bad-mouth me specifically and the NFB in general because they don't want to make waves, no matter what others’ children may need and not be receiving. As long as *their* child is
getting what satisfies them, no one else matters, and all they want to do is have parties and commiserate.
And I now realize that without knowing me, without thinking of me individually at all, the NFB made many things possible for me that would not have been the case without them. I now understand how much advocacy
goes on without the beneficiaries, present or future, knowing about it, and become frustrated and angry when I have to tackle an injustice with a tiny group, or sometimes alone, because everyone else's priorities are
apparently higher than improving society for the blind, or because it's easier to call me and others militant and unyielding while sitting back and reaping the rewards of our commitment. For each blind person who
fails to become self-sufficient, my life, and the lives of my two blind children, become harder, because like it or not, as is the case with other marginalized groups sharing a particular trait, the public lumps us
together. Every person can make a difference in a consumer organization: the more
who join, the larger the collective voice, the greater the human and other resources, the more credibility and legitimacy for the cause in the eyes of the legislature, the media and the public. I used to become incensed,
in my late teens, when Dr. Jernigan would say that we had a responsibility to help work for the betterment of our blind brothers and sisters, to continue the work and dedication which helped us gain improved status in
society. Now I become troubled when blind people and their families grumble about their circumstances, but do nothing to try to change them, and bad-mouth the consumer organizations without knowing how much blood,
sweat and tears -- well, at least sweat and tears -- goes into the work that we do day after day.
I am often overwhelmed by the sheer number of children, for example, not being properly trained to become independent blind adults. But without the help of their parents and TVI's and other support staff with proper
attitudes, I am mostly powerless. people have to look at the big picture, not just at what's going on in *their* lives.”

Christine Faltz

**12. “I think most of us join a group because 1. Either we have something to offer them or 2. Because we will personally gain from the affiliation. I personally have been a member of a local consumer group most of my adult life. There is so much for a community to learn and gain from its various sub-groups and in order for the community and for its people to be one, we all must step forward and make our needs and our abilities known and work together to make our community a healthy one. That is where I am coming from; from within me to all of us being of the community.”

Marvin Spears (USA)


**13. “This is an easy on before me as I was also a newcomer in this community.. Our organization, which I remain active in is called " The Visually Impaired Association of Columbia/ Greene counties".. Several
folks and their spouses, friends and significant others get together once a month to listen to guest speakers and each other, learning about what is going on which would be beneficial for those in the blind community...Some
are cane users, others use a dog Guide and some more use the elbow of whomever they came with... Many of us also belong to other groups such as Knights, Elks, Rotary and Lions clubs but the V.I.A. is a focus/ social
group which works together on local and National issues and interests. Most are very positive and have a great sense of humor.. The whiners we overlooked occasionally try to cheer up... Net results and
benefits of this close knit group is to be realistic and positive about what we can do together and as a community to utilize options, which might otherwise be known. One would only hope that all of us, somewhere on this planet could find some friends to meet with in person and if not, there are several great blind groups out on the net.. the flip side of this would to have a frown on one's face, however take the time to smile,
meet a friend, blind or not and pass on a smile a day...”

Lee A. Stone (Hudson New York USA

FROM ME: “What do you think, can you gain from a non-blindness group?”

**14. “ gain what? Certainly not effective advocacy and help with finding that next
job. The Bureau Of Labor Statistics Employment demographics in 1984 made it
clear that those consumer organizations had interests elsewhere or were very
ineffective with their employment help. >>

“You asked who could counter this argument. Probably most of us could. I was a JOB representative in my state for many years. Blind people seeking jobs mainly needed support, because it took many applications before someone would agree even to entertain the possibility of hiring a blind person. People who
have been beaten down time after time often give up. However, give those same people support, and they will keep going, and find jobs.

Example: There are two people in our chapter who used to work at the sheltered shop. One of them had the labor department come and evaluate his work, which was far superior than the shop had said it was. Why? Because I
told him he had nothing to lose if he did that. They were paying him $7 every two weeks. They did not like me, I'll tell you that, when they had to pay him nearly minimum wage. But after this, he said, hey, wait a minute.
I'm worth more than this. With the support of NFB, and this JOB rep personally, he was able to convince the local Commission for the Blind to send him to a rehab facility in Louisiana. He came back after having
graduated with flying colors, and preparing a meal for 40 people convinced he definitely could do it. He marched into a department store which had a restaurant, and told them, if he could cook a meal for forty people, he could
definitely make hot dogs for the restaurant, as well as do some janitorial work if they needed it. They said, 40 people, really? You're hired. He now makes better than $10 an hour.

The other, a woman, took a similar route, after having searched for a job for better than five years, went to the rehab facility, came back, and started looking for work. She is now working full time. Nor is she underemployed.
She has support from the NFB, and the Commission, but not from her family. But two out of three ain't bad, and she
believed us, and kept plodding away.

Without NFB, the Louisiana Center for the Blind would not exist, and if it did, would not hold the positive philosophy that tells Blind people they are worth something. I won't talk to the statistics, but I can vouch for the

Lori Stayer (Merrick, NEW York USA)

**15. “I have mixed feelings regarding blindness consumer groups, personally, I have no use for joining one. I grew up in a small town one of two blind children and the other girl was partially sighted and was therefore an
easier fit into the sighted social structure. From the moment I lost most of my vision I was a problem and a responsibility and I had to fight and claw for what I needed. I didn't have any group advocating for me or
seeing I got an equal education, I had a very persistent mother and itinerant teacher. In college, I fought once again for fair treatment and necessary adaptations on my own. When I entered the work force I fought
and clawed once more for a job gaining what I could on merit and because I was fairly articulate. When I realized the State of Massachusetts didn't have the means to assist a blind person with other disabilities, I packed
my bags and single handedly moved here to New Mexico where I got the job I have now on my own. I bought my own computer and have co-founded two audio role-players writers clubs specifically targeted for the blind. I did a
good bit of this more with the help of friends than any organization. Yet I'm not what I'll call for a lack of a better term, mind blind, If it weren't for the strong presence of the NFB in this state and especially in this city I'd have had a harder time getting through the first interview at both the jobs I have and with out the advocacy groups the 766 law would never have come to be and I'd have never have had the mixed blessing of a public school education so in my mind blindness organizations have there place and do a great deal for the blind even if I personally
don't care to join those sorts of organizations. However I wouldn't have a problem speaking to such a consumer group and sharing my experience so that people can see that you can accomplish a lot even if all you have to
rely on is you.”

Sue Ellen Melo (Albuquerque, New Mexico USA)

FROM ME: “Notice this lady, though not a member of a group, she knows that credit is owed to blindness related groups and all that they have done to make life better for the blind. Generally, how much of what has been accomplished in this country can be attributed to the organized blind?”

**16. “You asked for it and you have it. Hello again people, my name is Jared Rimer. I haven't written in awhile, but something struck my nerve and I just had to share it. Robert, I am no part of any blind organization but I am
part of the ACB-announce listserv hosted at Charlie Crawford and others know what they are doing and I receive weekly highlights from the office of the national office and I hear plenty going on from this group.
Who says that no organization is not doing anything for the blind? Response number four and I disagree. Robert, the next weekly response will be coming either today or tomorrow, and I would like to tell you that this
organization does a lot even if you are not members, you subscribe to the list and hear what everyone is doing over there. I'll shut up and hibernate now.”

Jared Evan Rimer Woodland, California USA)

FROM ME: “Subscribing to a groups listserv is a good way to see what is going on within that organization. I say also look at their news magazine too. What other methods are there for learning about the philosophy, a groups accomplishments, internal stresses, etc.”

**17. “To me the key sentence in this one is: there are "so many organizations for the blind, but this one is of the blind." It is empowering, takes ownership
of itself and is steered by people who know what they are about and what works best for them. Some of the key phrases that I gleaned from many of the responses are: People belong to "get support and have political power," to "mentor and support” as well as "change attitudes." There is a good example of networking, where an employee searches out other Blind workers and publishes a newsletter to communicate and share experiences. People who want to make the world more accessible for the Blind children coming up and who want to make their community a healthy one. Outstanding!”

Suzanne Lange (Chico, California USA)

FROM ME: “ this is from a sighted professional in the educational side of blindness.”

**18. “I think that the Home Owner was pretty nice to tell the blind person about a
group for the blind. He wanted that person to fit in. I think a cane can
be a good way to knock on the door, especially if the doorbell doesn't work.
I think when that person came in, since the person living in the home
couldn't see, I think if they had a doorbell, they would know somebody was

Beth Kats (San Marcos California USA)

FROM ME: “RAP, RAP, RAPPING with one’s cane- No one can say that a blind person can’t come up with an alternative on the spot when needed!”

**19. “I've been a member of the NFB for the past 20 years. As part of the organization, I've learned a great deal, both about myself, and about the world and organizations, in general.

As a young person, joining the NFB, I had much to learn about myself. I always thought I was comfortable with myself as a blind person, because my family gave me a good foundation. I still believe that I was "well adjusted". But, I did learn to feel a little more comfortable with myself as a blind person. I learned how to advocate for blindness issues and that I can be assertive without being overpowering or terribly outspoken. I've learned that there's definitely a comfort level in having other blind people around; people who have experienced some of the questions or problems I may have. This has made me a much more confident adult, and I truly appreciate that gift from the NFB.

I've also learned a lot about politics through the NFB. we have a lot of influence in our state and national legislature, and I believe that this is as it should be. However, I've also learned that there is a certain level
of politics involved in being part of an organization. This is probably the thing I dislike most about the NFB. I suppose that I am still a little naive, but I tend to take people at face value. I trust that they mean what
they say, because I do. So, when I learned, that agendas are often more important than forthrightness, it came as a devastating blow to me. But, I guess this is the way in any political organization.

So, the thing I've finally learned is to carry on with the basic foundation and solid philosophy of blindness which I learned 20 years ago from the NFB, and separate myself from the politics, which I find so distasteful. That
seems to work to a certain extent, but it has also excluded me from the vital work which I loved to much. I don['t quite know how to resolve that. But, overall, I believe I've received the best of the organized blind and
can use that in my life, and apply it to help others.”

Cindy Handel (Willow Street, Pennsylvania

FROM ME: “Thinking you are okay with yourself, with your disability is one thing. As this lady stated in the first half of her response, having the chance to mix in with others with similar experiences can be a plus, take you into a dimension of awareness and adjustment and effectiveness that can’t not be otherwise be reached. {That was a Robertism.{

As for the politics within an organization, if you have an extremely active group, can politics be avoided? Can these inner politics be a positive?”

**20. “Truly, getting outside of one’s self is a smart move. There is so terribley much negative that comes with vision loss that one person can’t at first understand it all. Belonging to a group speeds this learning and strengthening necessary to be your best, no matter how bad your vision gets. Truly, blindness or visual impairment of any level is more of a shared experience than anyone can imagine.”

Betty Smith (Langcaster, Maine USA)

**21. “First of all, I am not sure if the persons living in the home are blind, but there is nothing wrong with recruiting other members of society. We can enlist whatever support available from like minded individuals who have an interest in promoting employment, education, opportunity and equality . Of
course, I am in favor of membership in organizations, especially for the blind, who are one of the smallest groups and smallest groups with a disability. The blind also have some very specific needs in terms of
training and access to society that are different and in some cases more costly than others. Tack on to that the 70% unemployment rate, with 70% of those employed being underemployed. In my opinion, only when one becomes
involved in an organization can their voice be heard and an impact made. It has been the organized blind who have made the difference legislatively locally, statewide and nationally. Response #3 from David came close to home
since I am involved in the changes at the Rehab Center initiated by members of the organized groups. Blind persons need to become aware of organizations and consider participation especially today when there are many voices more
numerous than ours advocating taking away or reducing the monies and services organized blind persons have fought so hard to secure and maintain.”

Edwin Kunz (Austin, Texas USA)
FROM ME: “Yes, many members of organized groups of of or for the blind are sighted; family, professionals, employers, etc. Do you think this is good?”

**22. “First of all I am coming from the once sighted world and I can say through my experiences blindness, sighted or spinal cord injury group they are all the same, even though they are different in what they are trying to
accomplish. The first "support group" I belonged to after losing my sight was more of a social one and all older. There really was nothing they would talk about, the majority of the conversations that took place were about
gossip and taking trips. Granted, not everyone in the group was in this frame of mind, those that were into "rights" are the ones I tried to learn from. May be the frame of mind was due to the meetings taking place in the local rehab. center which also housed the local sheltered workshop. Was and is there some what of a feeling of apathy in our area? Yes, very much so none the less after I learned those daily living skills I broke away for
some time to attend college, but still kept in contact with some of the more stronger members who knew about what the real issues were. What happens is the majority of members in the groups out this way are older, they don't
like change and they don't like to rock the boat so to speak. One of the bigger problems that exists is the frame of mind something is better than nothing. Another problem we face is transportation. which adds to that
helpless feeling. I know in every group or organization there are the strong members who like to take charge and attempt to improve the lives of either people with disabilities or people who are blind. I know it's not
about making ones life easier, but being able to have equal and fair treatment. I've come to learn not to allow those negative members influence me like they once did. Now if you attend meetings and become an active
member, hold an office or volunteer to head committees and give suggestions and things of sorts and they're not heard and this happens time after time after time then that particular group is not for you. Continue your search
and keep in touch with those friends or people you share the same interests with and with time you'll come in contact with more people who share those same interests which just might lead to a stronger force. What happens when people or organizations join forces?

Luis Romam (

FROM ME: “How about it? Shopping around for a group?”

**23. “Experience and history offers two cautions to those interested in passing legislation. First passing legislation is only one point on the triangle. The second point on the triangle is legislative maintenance. From what I
read on the internet, legislative maintenance failed miserably as it effects the blind community with respect to the ADA What is legislative maintenance? The ability to protect passed legislation from being gutted by
the court system, and the ability to have needed amendments passed to improve the original legislation. The third point on the legislative triangle is enforcement. The first two points are worth absolutely nothing
without that third point. If enforcement will not be effectively performed and monitored by the relevant parts of government then time effort and money were wasted in what may prove to be a lost cause. Only way out of this bind then especially if legislative maintenance originally took a beating is to
build cases and file cases to reverse the failed maintenance damage where it was taken. This can be very beneficial in two respects. First on an abstract legal level, but second it refocuses attention on enforcement at
some point in the future. For legislative maintenance, the best strategy is to analyze what was removed from a law by the courts. Once a list is compiled, given cases happening after the decisions rank the struck down
provisions in order from most likely reversed to least likely reversed and focus on reversing the most likely provision that can be reversed to the original statute content. Actively search for any cases that can aid in
that repair. If you want to break a wall, your best way through is to analyze the wall to locate its weakest point and focus only on that weakest point with whatever tools are at your disposal.”

Jude T. DaShiell (Lexington Park, Maryland USA)

**24. “I have been considering the different questions/comments on the list. First of all, I lost my vision in my late 40s due to an accident. I was a
competent, successful professional. Being declared blind destroyed my life
as I had known it.

Being a "consumer", "client", or whatever PC term is used has taught me a valuable lesson. The blind/visually impaired are treated with a plantation
mentality unless they are prepared to create solutions by moving others out of their comfort zones. State Bureaucrats and case/social workers are typically incapable of understanding the needs of someone like me. They have programs for "blind since birth" and some items for the "over 65 crowd" who
have a multiplicity of services available.

My personal experience with multiple disabilities *vision is the apparent one* and a trained Service Dog is that even the blind will discriminate against someone who doesn't follow the "party line". I was told that I couldn't attend a support group for blind because my dog wasn't a "Guide Dog"
registered with a Guide Dog Association.

NFB has supported an agency in my state that focuses on closing cases by attempting to force highly-educated people into food service jobs, etc. I
have threaded lawsuits and spoken with top agency people in order to have my needs met.

Most of the blind people I've met live lives of no purpose. Now, before I get flamed; there are many of you who lost your vision and are surrounded by
loving families, spouses, friends who support you, advocate for you, pay your bills, provide insurance and medical care, transportation, etc. You are
truly blessed. I had been divorced before my vision loss. I was independent and had a career. I think it's wonderful that you can attend conferences, speak out and look like a "super-blind" person. However, I invite you to
walk in my shoes. Even at this point, I would say that NFB does not consider my particular situation when they hang out with the politicos. On a personal
note, I've requested the Braille Monitor on tape when I joined NFB several months ago; I've never received a copy. And so it goes....if you're blind
and alone.”

FROM ME: “Is there any group of people who organized who have created a perfect organization?”

**25. “I have been blind since birth and am currently a psychiatric social worker and have been employed since my graduation with a Master's in Social
Work which I received in 1975. Although I received help from the Mass. Commission for the Blind with tuition, I have had little contact with the
blind or with agencies that serve them since my graduation then until this year, when the same commission helped me to buy adaptive computer equipment. I have had blind clients--both those who lost their sight recently and those
who have been born blind or partially sighted. I try my best to help them to be independent.

I currently live alone since both my children are off at college and I am divorced. This is a huge change for me, meaning that there are many things I now have to figure out how to do on my own. Although I have always considered myself a very independent, almost too independent at times,
person, I now realize how much I actually came to depend on my husband and kids to help with small, everyday things. I am lucky to have friends, but I still find myself paying for services from others such as help with bills,
shopping, etc. I have generally avoided much contact with blind people and organizations helping the blind, partly out of some feeling that this
somehow makes me feel more "normal". I realize that this is my problem, really, as those blind friends I have had have been invaluable sources of
support and shared humor at situations which only the blind have to face. As I have just got a screen access program and am now a new computer user, I am hoping that this technology helps me to get in touch with others who share similar problems to mine and, who knows, I may even turn political re issues which affect us all.”

Zhenya (NFB-talk)

**26. “Hi Robert and list,
I wasn't sure how to respond to this particular Thought Provoker. This
seems to be a heavy subject for me because it gave me a lot to think
about. This particular issue challenged me to take a look at my beliefs,
and why I believe the way I do.

When I was a freshman in high school, I attended a state NFB meeting the
camp for the vision impaired in Casper, Wyoming. At the time, I didn't
understand the politics, let alone what the NFB stood for. To be honest,
it was one of the most boring meetings I've ever had the privilege of
attending. However, I did receive assistance from the NFB in the form of
scholarships and the like.

When my husband Donovan and I were first engaged, I would visit him in
Lincoln, Nebraska at the orientation center he was attending at the
time. Through the center, I was exposed to the NFB philosophy, and he
introduced me to the critical issues that the NFB was fighting for. At the
time, I still wasn't convinced that it was the organization for me. A mutual
friend of ours changed my mind. He sat me down, and convinced me that
another friend's experiences didn't have to taint my own.

Later, we became members of the ACB because that was the only organization
available here in Laramie, Wyoming. Though our hearts wasn't in it, we
worked to make it an effective organization though there wasn't many of us
who attended the meetings. There's no doubt that the philosophies of the
organizations are as different as night and day, and I had a problem with
what I was practicing as an ACB member. We later dropped out of the ACB.
Though we still aren't members of the NFB officially at this time, we
believe wholeheartedly in the philosophy. Experience has been a wonderful
teacher, and now I'm convinced that what I believe now is it for me. Sorry
to write such a long message, but this was like letting the lion out of the
cage for me. Take care everyone.”

Bonnie Ainsworth (Laramie, Wyoming

**26. “Read "Why the National Federation of the Blind" for some wonderful,
well-thought-out discussions of this topic!”

(BlindKids list)

**27. (In response to #24) “In a message dated 9/25/00 1:16:41 AM Eastern Daylight Time,

Most of the blind people I've met live lives of no purpose. Now, before I get flamed; there are many of you who lost your vision and are surrounded by loving families, spouses, friends who support you, advocate for you, pay
your bills, provide insurance and medical care, transportation, etc. You are
truly blessed. I had been divorced before my vision loss. I was independent and had a career. I think it's wonderful that you can attend conferences, speak out and look like a "super-blind" person. >>

I don't think we can let this slur go by. I've been a member of NFB since 1973, shortly after my wedding. During that time, I've met professors, high school teachers, sheltered shop workers, beggars, lawyers, social workers, medical transcriptionists, and yes, even Fred Schroeder. With the exception
of a few people who are super intelligent and would do well in any circumstance, I have not, repeat not, met the Super Blind. Yet all these people were and most still are NFB members. Do many live lives of quiet
desperation? I've seen that in people who are afraid to maintain their membership in NFB, and therefore nothing can change for them. Some started out pretty desperate, but slowly, the support and experiences of others let
in a glimmer of hope which acted in life changing ways for those who allowed themselves to hope. Being able to hope does not make a person a "super blind" person.

I can't tell you how annoyed that assumption makes me. It would be better if the young lady who said this would get to know NFB members a little better, even if it is by means of attending local chapters and not conferences. BY
the way--a couple of times we were able to attend those conferences only because we received assistance from our local chapter. If anyone is super in any way, it's in the generosity of heart that shines from our members.”

Lori Stayer (Merrick, New York USA)

P.S. Sorry if I answered twice, but for heaven's sake, you picked an emotional topic!”

FROM ME: “Now… where is it I should draw the line on too pointed of language and not allow it in?
My stance/intent is to have some dialogue and discussion, wherein getting emotional about it is acceptable, but no real hard stuff; not against a person or an organization. Yet… some personal commentary is necessary by you and some latitude of acceptance into the forum by me. Think of this, with this particular PROVOKER, some comparison of groups, as for your reasons why one is for you over another is okay, if its mainly “your inner feelings” as to why one makes sense to you and not that you/we get into running down the other guy.”

**28. “When I was growing up, I went to a school and was mostly around blind people in my age group. I guess we felt that in order to make it in the sighted world after graduating we should mainly associate with sighted people. However, when I attended college, I was fortunate to be able to associate with disabled and able bodied people. I belonged to Sigma Delta
Sigma or SDS the organization for disabled students and Alpha Tau Omega or ATO a fraternity. SDS allowed me to be aware of what problems people with disabilities had and also helped me find better ways of doing things that I
may not have thought of. Also it was good to have an organization where I felt I could make a difference.

I have belonged to the American Council of the Blind but haven't been as active lately because of transportation. I also belong to a few list servs such as Justice For all. I am glad I had a small part through JFA in
passing The Work Incentives Improvement Act and the ticket to work.

I have heard some people say that by joining an organization you are labeling your self. One big positive in joining a blind organization or any organization is that There is strength in numbers. I think the
organization they wanted the person in the thought provoker to join was a consumer group.”

Paul oeser (Hendersonville, Tennessee USA)

FROM ME: “How about the above reference to labeling? Anyone else feel this way too? Or here is yet another thought- How about this, that kind of labeling is good?”

**29. “However, I would say that I can't imagine why anyone wouldn't be a part of an organized blind movement. Occasionally, we make it on our own with no help from anybody. Often, though, even if we
think we did, we didn't. We made it because we had initiative to pursue a dream, a job, an opportunity. But often, if the organized blind hadn't been working for similar opportunities for others along the way, I wouldn't have
achieved what I was seeking. Why? because a pebble dropped in a bucket will get little notice. The bucket won't be much heavier. Put hundreds of them in there, and the weight is almost not to be lifted. At our convention this
weekend, I heard three parents of blind children talk about problems with IEPs, the need for kids to learn Braille, the need to put a child in a higher functioning pre-school, etc. If they hadn't had the NFB directly or
indirectly behind them, where would they be? They would have been nowhere because the professionals know what's best for their kids. I head a woman give a talk on job readiness, and then she admitted that, having been given the opportunity to give the talk, she did some soul searching and realized
that she was dragging her feet in her job search because of fears. She'll probably work harder now because she realizes more fully she has the support of the organized blind. I myself gave a talk about my business and, because
I knew I had to do so, I was able to find the strength to market my own business, and probably have got some more work as a result. I hate marketing, but if I was going to talk to the organized blind about my
business and how to make it more successful, then I have to do it myself. Besides, there are times when we can laugh together, cry together, plan together, rejoice together, because we all know that we are among others who
have experienced the same rejections, successes, etc., for the same reasons.”

Cindy Ray (Leon, Iowa USA)

**30. “When I lost my sight, I found it very helpful to get into contact with some
other blind people. I did so mainly over the net at first and eventually got to know a few people in person. Most of the people I met belong to one of the two large blindness organizations.

While I appreciated the positive outlook on blindness that the organization and also my friends held, I think it takes a certain kind of personality to fit into that organization's structure and to fully benefit from its
teachings and the training it provides at its training centers. No doubt many people benefit from the training they receive there, but there are also those who do not make it through for a variety of reasons. I for one
realized that I don't think I could put up with a lot of the philosophy that is taught by the organization and the condescending attitude that is sometimes taken towards those who hold a different opinion and take a different approach.

Somebody on this last round said that they were disappointed when they discovered that agenda was more important than people. I agree with that. I have not joined an blind consumer organization, but some of the people I met have adopted or identify with that philosophy to the degree that it carries over into their personal lives and the way they handle their relationships. I personally think there is something wrong when changing a person's attitude and making them see the way a group or the particular individual does becomes more important than just developing and maintaining the relationship no matter what and to consider dropping someone like a hot potato just because they don't confirm to certain standards. Granted, this might be the individuals, but I also didn't like hearing books or writers ridiculed for their approach to blindness just because it happened to be different from the outlook of that organization.

I am well aware that many of the opportunities we have today would not exist without the input from the blind consumer organizations. However, I think it could be even more effective if the existing organizations did not compete and attack and ridicule the other but actually worked together for the common good and common cause. Moreover, I wish that the system was different in that there was not only a very few blind organizations but rather a federation of many smaller and local ones that met regularly and agreed and worked together on the common issues while respecting different approaches and different attitudes at times.

I see similarities in this to the many different denominations in the Christian faith. I think denominations are there to meet different people's needs and preferences but that every Christian regardless of their
denominational affiliation is a member of the church universal. With the organized blind movement as well as the different Christian churches, I think we would benefit from concentrating on the many things we have in
common rather than single out and bicker about the differences.

Personally, I realized that I think I am not made out of the wood that would easily fit into a large blindness organization. I don't like being indoctrinated and told what to believe nor do I fit easily into any club
type setting anyway. I hope to maintain contacts to people who are blind and hope to be able to give and take support as well as sometimes help with practical issues. I might also support a cause that is being addressed by a
blind organization, but I would not want to become a member of any organization for such a purpose.

I don't look down on people who find strength and a purpose in their lives in being active in organization. I think there are people who are good at that and who profit both from membership as well as being given a certain
attitude there, but I don't think that is for me and would like to have that respected by others as well.”

FROM ME: “An interesting thought- Who shapes who? Do the members of an organization mold its attitude, its philosophy, its ways of handling its members and all outsiders or is it the organization that changes the members to be as it is?”

**31. “Here in South Africa we probably do not have as many support groups for the blind as you have in America. The existing groups are: the South African Blind Workers Organization, Tape Aids for the Blind, the South African
Library for the Blind; then we have social groups in the different areas (cities in different provinces); we have sports clubs: Cricket for the blind, the Chess club and the Blind Bowlers Association.
Most of these groups were started by blind people who had to fight for their place in the sun and wanted to make life a bit easier for the rest of us. Of course they could not make the path of life totally straight for those of
us who would follow, but I believe that they created a culture of caring and sharing.

I am a member of the South African Blind Workers Association and, as the editor of our branch's magazine, I do my best to encourage and inform my readers. Someone referred to the gossiping she encountered at a social
group for the blind where people did not have much to talk about. Oh yes, I encounter this as well, but I try to steer the conversations away from the negative. Why? Definitely not because I am an angel! I do that because I
believe that in a self-help group like this one, we should learn to respect one another and give credit where credit is due. The gossip that irritate me most is when people try to bring one another down by belittling someone
who achieved something. The group does not necessarily fight battles on my behalf. No, I fight them myself, but recovery after a fight is so much quicker when I meet with my blind friends. I have lots of sighted friends and often go places with them. I do not meet so often with my blind friends, because the groups do not get together very often - about four times a year. My sighted friends often show me new gadgets on the shelves in the shops. I tell my blind friends about these things, either in the magazine, or when I meet with them in the groups. Most of them also have sighted friends who shares information with them which they in turn share with us in the groups or in magazines. The South African Blind Workers Organization also has a Braille Printing Press which had small beginnings. Years ago a blind person approached his sighted wife to help him by reading a document to him, which he typed into Braille for someone else who had to have the document under his fingertips so to speak. Today it is a printing press which employs both visually
impaired and sighted people. This printing press provides literature in the eleven official languages of our country. I am proud of the people who started these self-help groups fifty, sixth years ago and I have no problem belonging to them. However, when I was younger I had a bit of a problem with being associated
with blind people, because I believed the sighted would not want to befriend me. Now I know better.”

Janie Fourie (Pretoria, South Africa

**32. “This is truly an interesting thought provoker to come in on for my initial comments. I have mixed feelings concerning consumer groups which Identify themselves as being the know all for a specific community. Usually what happens in these situations, only those thoughts of the leadership is given as an option for the organization at large to agree with. The problem I have with these groups is that there usually is not any allowance for a difference of opinion with the leadership of the organization. I can speak from personal experience on this issue which I don't feel is relevant here. The important point of any organization which represents a group of people, whether they have a disability or not, is that the leadership of
the organization allows for all opinions to be heard and discussed accordingly. People should not be ostracized for having an opinion that goes against the grain of the leadership within an organization.

A second issue I have with such organizations is that it is up to the people within the organization to state their opinions in a professional manner which should then be heard by the leadership of the organization.
If you have an opinion which differs from someone else, it is up to you to state why you feel different and then it is the power of discussion and persuasion that allow us to either to agree or continue to disagree. This
is the cornerstone of what makes people people and allows discussion groups like this to survive.

I guess, my only comments to the woman who rapped her cane on the door, was she sure that there wasn't a door bell to ring or was it an assumption on her and her companion's part that there wasn't. I felt the home owner had
the right attitude as did the other participants, Let me hear your opinion and then I will decide if it is something I believe is something I can become involved with.”

Jeffrey Pledger (President,

**33. “I joined the nfb in 1997. When I went to the Louisiana Center for the blind. I like going to the national convention every year it's a lot of fun. I've
been to acb meetings I don't like the acb.”

Anne Mauro (NFB-talk list)

FROM ME: “Here is a statement of what was referred to earlier, shopping around for a organization that suits you.”

**34. “Hi, I have been blind all my life, but have only been a NFB member sense April. I received a scholarship from ACB, there for had to attend there conference, and they where so unorganized, didn't have my room, didn't know I was coming, secretary didn't bring the minutes to be approved, and they
surfed us for every meal, and had as many sighted members as blind ones. They have no student division to speech of, and the lady who was to lead the student meeting didn't even show up. Bad weekend to come across that way
when I was making my decision. I can't thank the nfb enough for all they have made me see possible being a blind member of society.”

Brandy Wojcik (NFB-talk list)

FROM ME: “We’ve seen some specific complaints of disorganization on both NFB and ACB sides. Never good, but what does it speak of?”

**35. “Thought that I'd way in with my opinion on this organized blind thing, ACB thing, and NFB thing.

I think that its worth noting here that I emailed the ACB once not long ago and asked them what their philosophy was and how it related to the NFB's philosophy on blindness. Also, how a newly blinded person could get involved
in their organization. I have yet to get a response from them. AS far as I am concerned, the only way to find out about ACB philosophy is to, if you can, listen to their ACB Radio's Blind Line. That show, broadcast on
Wednesday nights between 8 and 10 PM Central time, talks about general and specific blindness issues. And, it seems to take a down the middle line of reasoning, in that, it doesn't take sides as far as philosophy on blindness
goes. The host asks great questions which have made me think about things. I found particular interest in listening to their show that they did in November of last year shortly after the suit was filed against AOL. On that
show, they had both Curtis Chong and Paul Edwards, the president of the ACB. To listen to the show by the way, you would need either the latest version of Winamp or Real Player, which can be obtained by going to

Anyway, as for my involvement and how I came to the NFB, I really can't add anything onto what others have said, because many of their stories are mine as well. The only thing that I can add is that the NFB seems to be the only
blindness related organization of the blind who has a wholesome, if not logical and everyday, view on blindness. Why is it that an organization's or group's view on blindness has to be so complicated. That's something that
I'll never understand.”

Wayne Merritt (NFB-talk list)

**36. (In response to #24.) “Certainly each of us has our own particular challenges to face as blind people and simply because we are human. There is no doubt that there are things in your life that I can't completely understand, and I have probably faced a thing or two that would allude your understanding as well. However, many of us have found that our blindness tends to give us something in common in spite of our different circumstances.

I was not certain how to interpret your statement that "there are many of you who lost your vision and are surrounded by loving families, spouses, friends who support you, advocate for you,
pay your bills, provide insurance and medical care, transportation, etc. You are truly blessed. I had been divorced before my vision loss. I was independent and had a career. I think it's wonderful that you can attend conferences, speak out and look like a 'super-blind' person. However, I invite you to walk in my shoes."

If you think that persons such as you describe above are representative of who attends conventions, I can only disagree. For many, the convention is a method of searching for those very things
you outline above, friends, advocacy, and sometimes even a sort of family. Most convention attendees are not the superblind that you describe, either. I have witnessed people using the convention as a chance to practice getting on and off escalators, knowing that those around them will understand, and there are other examples. I don't know enough about you to suggest specifics, but I sincerely hope you don't sell us or yourself short.”

Steve Jacobson (NFB-talk list)

**37. “When I first read this new "Provoker" I was word lost. Meaning that I didn't know how to answer it. I've since read the two updates, which was very interesting, and thought more on this. I feel that we all want to be part of something, be it a support group, a E
mail list or whatever. I've been getting a local support group newsletter for many years now and have never attended a meeting. I want to go so much, but the thing that holds me back is my own fear. So last year I got a name off the register list and sent an E mail to this person thinking that we had
a common ground - RP. I never heard from this person and he/she lives in the local area. To me that was my first rejection, in my mind, of having RP. Then a year and a half ago, I got a E letter from a lady from Michigan that
had reached out to me due to a seeing my name on this same register. Our common bond being RP. We've written back and forth some and it was too much later that I received a personal invitation to join a group of people that
had RP. I joined them and got to know some wonderful people. It felt so good to be part of something and someone's life, my first real acceptance of RP. Since this all happened, I have joined other blindness lists via the
Internet and it's like my world had exploded into this wonderful feeling. I can actually share with and help others in personal growth, and it's good to be part of life. For the first time in my life I have acceptance,
companionship and have developed some wonderful E mail friends. This is what joining a blindness group(s) has done for me. Now I feel like I can take this a step further by going to one of the support groups, a face to face
personal meeting with others that will understand some of what I'm going through and have been through. It feels good to have this feeling. Thanks for putting up with this lengthy posting - I do get long winded.”

Angelica (RPlist)

**38. “You all will pardon me please, I'm using a web account to receive THOUGHT PROVOKERS through, not the most stable for writing at times. This PROVOKER brought as many questions to me as answers really. Why would a person not want to join a specific organization either for or of the blind? Really only two reasons come to mind and when thought about those two come down to one. Barring the transportation factor or the lack of
numbers such as where I am being in a small town; it comes to either fear of being politically labeled, or just not wanting to get involved with issues as a group. Admittedly some groups may have a political leaning, left or right. So then it becomes a matter of choice as in all things political right? Is there a solution other than that? Yes, try starting your own group if you have some others who are like minded. How did the existing groups get started? Same way.

Now as for the "not wanting to get involved" question, which is what this comes down to anyway isn't it? I'm not sure I have an answer for that. I look at my status, I am involved in several different groups, but none of
them are specifically for or of the blind. They involve other civic or human interests. Or are fraternal in nature.
But my opinion such as it is says, what harm is there in joining a group of the blind. Be thankful you have the choice and find one which is to your personal interests, and level of assertiveness that you are wanting to deal
With. Numbers increase effectiveness. Thanks.”

Thomas McMahan (Illinois USA

FROM ME: “ I do hope all of you/us will do as this gentleman is doing, joining other non-blindness groups too. Why do you think I am pointing this out? How would this be of value” Who would benefit from this the most?”

**39. “Organized groups of any type have a give and take system to them and how well we access and use the group we attend will, for the most part, depend on our own give and take attitude. Keeping a good
balance is essential to our value and appreciation of the groups we attend.”

Sally R. Baird

**40. “The reason I joined a Organized Blind group was to do some paying back. It's a way I can help others. Because of my blindness I have been helped a lot. The group I joined was a way of paying back for all the help I have Received. That is why I started. Only a small part of the blind community are members of the two main groups of Organized blind and the way figure it "somebody has to do it.

Once I got started it became fun. It's still fun. It also feels good so why not? As long as it's fun, feels good and I feel I am doing some good I will stay with it. I do encourage others to join for the same reasons. Of course there are many other reasons to join a group of Organized blind but these are mine.”

john Flemming (Grants Pass, Organ USA

**41. “I personally think the big draw to joining an organization for or of the blind is not so much for the advocacy and support but for the sense of belonging to a larger group. We as blind people are a very small minority in the bigger sighted picture. Belonging to an organization of the blind makes us feel we are not alone in the world. That we are a part of a bigger social circle. While we want and need to interact with all people another blind person or of group of blind people better understand many of our frustrations and how we may perceive things and situations. I know my blind friends understand some of my views much better than any sighted person could.“

Robyn Wallen (Saint Louis, Missouri USA)

**42. “I joined because I need the support of others who have some of the same characteristics as myself. I point them out as being- my vision loss, my problems I have with ignorance of the sighted public, problems with ignorant and discriminatory businesses in hiring, with my family and their difficulties in knowing and accepting all about my blindness, and for me in my emotional struggles with all of the above.

I also know, but don’t take a real direct role with, are all the public laws and such that need to be addressed to make our walk through life a fair one.

But most of all, it is knowing that there are other nice people like me that I can talk too and either discuss blindness or not but know that they are not judging me because of my blindness.

I would also say that the feeling of accomplishment of being a part of a group that gets things done for individuals and for our country and possibly for the world is a good feeling. Helping to make a change is a responsibility we must all take in order to improve our lives and world for our children.”

Magdalene Morr (USA)

**43. I joined this group and a couple of other internet lists. I wanted to see what other people not like me think on a subject that I know little about, but fear. I am willing to learn.”

Bobby Lee (Covington, Kentucky USA)

**44. “I’m not a joiner. But I know what you are thinking. He belongs to this group. Well, Here I can lay back and watch and maybe learn. I had to write and send this in.”

**45. “The visually challenged group that I belong to is a social one. We need to have fun. We do have a guest speaker at some meetings and we do learn from those. But I do not like to be an activist. That makes me nervous. However, we need those types around too.

Let us all keep up the good work.”

Sally M. (New Jersey USA)

**46. “Like others have written, I do not like the lime light but can recognize what the consumer groups have done for all of us. I also wish they could get along better. Guess we are just people.”

Bob T. (California, USA)

**47. “There is strength in numbers. This is something to be said about not having to re-invent the wheel and learning from others. We are all citizens of this world, the blind, the visually impaired and the sighted.”

Robert Laning (USA)

**48. “This thought of labeling is interesting to me. Labeling can be detrimental to us as blind individuals, even though we personally may not be a member of one of these organizations. This is true especially when the organization has a reputation of being militant or unappreciative. In many instances I
have heard sighted individuals state that some of the large blind organizations are showing UN-appreciativeness and causing harm to our individual dignity as people. Much good has been derived from the persistence and genuine concern of some determined intelligent individuals
in the blind community both in the past and now, and this should not be overlooked. We, however, can make a real difference in how we are viewed by obtaining proper training to do effective work and by presenting ourselves as normal kind considerate individuals in our own communities and thereby
build for ourselves a firm foundation in our local area, showing that we are viable capable members of society. Sometimes, when getting involved in organizations, the common person in his own home element is overlooked. It can be compared with being unable to see the trees because of the forest.
Let us realize the benefits of the forest without overlooking the individual trees.
It seems to me that local support groups for blind individuals dealing with the areas of particular concern for the specific problems of the area would prove to be more beneficial. What do you think of this?

Freda Trusty-Dotson (Dallas, Texas USA

**50. “First, I wish there were more groups around the West Michigan area that could meet this need. If they are there, they are not advertising themselves. I am aware of one group aimed toward serving seniors coping with sight loss. I am 32 and do not fit this criteria. Second, labels were briefly referred to, in reference to these groups. I have recently discovered that visually impaired people are not the only groups not wishing to have a label. Couples facing infertility also fail to accomplish much in the way of policies because of the fear of being labeled "defective". I thought it interesting that fear of being labeled is a universal emotion. Third, if I were to join an organized group, I would prefer one comprised of blind professionals. It would be wonderful to be able to compare notes occasionally!

Marcia Beare, M.S.W (Michigan USA)

**51. “I am very discouraged with "blindness organizations." I used to belong to one, and have investigated both, but I strongly disagree with the militant attitude expressed by one group, and am not sure the other one does much good. I think educating people has to be done one by one in any case, so I
choose to stay clear of such organizations. , I think that certain organizations have fallen into the trap that so many rehab agencies get into: they want blind people to be independent, but they want that
independence to be on the organization's terms, and if the person doesn't agree with the organization, they are not viewed as independent, nor cooperative, or anything else positive.”

Carol Ashland (Eugene, Organ USA

**52. This is another great Thought Provoker. I hope this response goes through as I have been experiencing a strange problem with Outlook Express and it appears
to have been deleted. But anyway here's my response. I have often given thought to joining one or the other blindness organization. For awhile my brother
and I were on an email listserv run by the Illinois chapter of one organization. It went great until one day when a topic came up which apparently was
controversial. I think it was audio description. I can't recall exactly what the two of us said, but we were booted off the list for good, basically for
not agreeing with the majority. I then joined a few listservs run by the other blindness organization, and I felt very welcome. My father took me and my
brother to part of an NFB National convention in Chicago, and we were warmly greeted by everyone. At the time none of us knew much about either the NFB
or the ACB. We stopped off at the Blazie notetaker table while attending the convention, and that is where we purchased our Type 'n Speaks. We also attended
one of the sessions presided over by President Marc Maurer. This was in the mid-90's so he had just been elected President. We also saw a friend from summer
camp who ran the exhibit hall. I am now faced with the unbelievably bureaucratic VR agency in Illinois, and I am seriously thinking of joining one of the
organizations. I recently emailed its president to inquire about membership. But I have yet to find out if he has gotten back to me, because of my email
not working properly. I also read the book "People of Vision: A History of the American Council of the Blind," and found it most interesting. I had previously
heard people talk briefly about the split into two organizations and then I read on an email list that this book was available. I ordered it on cassette
from my talking book center. My mother and I also attended a picnic hosted by the metropolitan Chicago chapter of the organization of which I want to become
a member. We were very warmly greeted by everybody in attendance, and the food was great. I sat next to a friend from summer camp and we had a very nice
conversation. Here again, I think it is up to each individual to decide which organization to join, or to join either at all. I knew someone who was a
member of both.

Jake Joehl, Chicago Illinois USA