[Nfbaz-news] NFBA president's October monthly message

Bob Kresmer krezguy at cox.net
Fri Oct 4 18:14:24 UTC 2013

October 3, 2013 

Hello, fellow Federationists, 

Thank you all for the very successful 2013 state convention!  I believe we
enjoyed ourselves and had a very productive convention with lots of help
from committee chairs, division presidents, lots of volunteers, and our host

The Friday after our convention, I received a call from a dog guide school
to which I had applied about six months ago.  I was told that if I got there
right away, I could begin training with a female Doberman and learn to be a
guide dog user.  I go to Columbus Ohio on Sunday, October 6 and will be
there until November 1.  

NFBA First vice - president, Donald Porterfield will step up in my place for
a month.  He is planning the October 15 White Cane Safety Day rally in
Phoenix, to which we are all invited to participate!   Donald will email us
the operational details of our activity in a separate message.  You can
communicate with him at - 
First vice - President Donald Porterfield
  (520) 850-2180
Email donaldpfield at gmail.com 

* Here are the results of the 2013 NFBA elections - 
President Bob Kresmer 
First vice-president Donald Porterfield 
Second vice-president Mark Feliz 
Treasurer Donna Silba 
Secretary Marcus Schmidt 
Board members - Debi Chatfield, Amy Murillo, Deborah Smith, Sharonda
Greenlaw, Garret Mooney, Somaya Tarin, 

Attached is the file containing our NFBA resolutions passed at our 2013
convention.  Please take a look, as the resolutions direct the  actions of
our affiliate in the upcoming year! 
Also attached is our most current NFBA roster in MS Word format and RTF

* From Sharonda Greenlaw, president Phoenix chapter - 
It's time to bowl again for our Meet the Blind Month activity!!!!! I know
that this is a late announcement, so please share it with everyone you know
who is spontaneous!!!

National Federation of the Blind of Arizona Greater Phoenix Chapter Annual
Bowl-A-Thon 2013 Sharonda Greenlaw, President Voin White, Fundraising

When:  October 5, 2013
Where:  Brunswick Desert Sky  Bowling  Lanes 7241  W. Indian School Phoenix,
Arizona 85301
 Time:  1:pm. To 4:00 pm
Cost: $10.00 for 3 games, shoes and a ball.

Come join us at the bowling alley and have fun! Help us   with your
tax-deductible donation today.

* Affiliate president's annual report presented at our recent NFBA
convention -  

Since we last met in convention, we have continued our efforts to improve
life for blind Arizonans.  We continue to do what we always do - work with
federal and state legislators, make presentations to change stereotypes, and
reach out to the communities.  

We have worked closely with state and private agencies of and for the blind,
including RSA, Southern Arizona Association for the Visually Impaired, ASDB,
University of Arizona, Governor's council on blindness, among many others.  

As we reach out to these agencies and people, we receive strong support from
those who become allies and new members.  As a prime example - at our NFB
national convention this year, we became one of the top ten states in
registrations. We were able to announce 77 participating Arizonans, of which
51 were first timers.  We should recognize, however, that of the 77, Saavi
registered 63 students and staff.  RSA has also become an ally in
recognizing the importance of the consumer groups on the rehabilitation of
their customers, and authorizes payment of the expenses of convention
participation.  Those vocational rehab customers are offered the option by
the RSA to receive their training from several agencies, including the
Colorado Center for the Blind and SAAVI, both of which send students to our
national conventions as a matter of course.  

This year, both the deputy administrator of RSA, Karin Grandon, and program
manager of blind services, Diane McElmury, attended the full week of
convention, and received additional reinforcement of the benefits of the
consumer organization in providing role models, peer instruction, and
information on current and historic issues.  RSA is restructuring the
training of their blindness staff to include experiential training at the
agencies which provide training to their customers, including training time
under sleepshades at SAAVI and the Colorado Center.  Eventually all rehab
counselors, teachers, business enterprise staff, and supervisors will have
had training in our philosophy of positive attitudes. 

NFB of Arizona is given the opportunity to meet with each new vocational
rehab customer, to acquaint them with our history, philosophy, and advocacy.
As a result of the summer youth transition program administered by RSA, we
have invigorated our student division and chapters with new members who have
already been exposed to training and national convention.  

We are working with the Business Enterprise program and the Arizona
Association of Blind Merchants to completely analyze the existing program
and policies, and reform and improve the merchants program.  This is not
just a short term fix, but a way of empowering the blind merchants to not
only recognizes their rights, but to carve out a way to more effectively
manage their responsibilities and obligations.  As one result of
cooperation, the BEP management is actively exploring better ways to train
new operators, and provide for continuing education for experienced
merchants.  We have offered our assistance to management and the operators,
who have agreed to work together with us.  

We are working with the University of Arizona graduate school in the
training of future teachers of blind and visually impaired children.  We
assist by providing blind working adults who will mentor these future
teachers of blind children, among other ways of assisting the university
faculty.  I spoke with a meeting of 400 students in the schools of medicine,
nursing, law, and social work about the myths and stereotypes regarding
blindness and blind people, and methods of overcoming these stereotypes in
hospitals, doctor's offices, and social services agencies.  Almost every
time we reach out to public and private agencies, we build alliances.    

We have established an at - large chapter which meets with blind persons
outside the major metropolitan areas by telephone conference.  Largely as a
result of the telephone meetings, enough members agreed to start up a
northern Arizona chapter, a long awaited goal of many of our members.   

Since we last met in convention, we have lost some of our long term members
- Bob Eschbach, Delphine Todachini, Barbara and Tom O'Brien.  We know that,
while busy with reaching out to bring in new members, we continue to respect
the wisdom and accumulated experience of the backbone of the organization.  

We continue to develop new fundraising methods to continue the work we do.
Largely due to our 2012 successful Caribbean cruise project, we were able to
support the participation of members in the Washington seminar in February
and our national convention.  We will be able to be the 21st state to create
a BELL program for very young children based in Tucson in the summer of
2014.  We will be able to help re-invigorate our student and parents
divisions with new and inspiring projects.  

Our future is bright, we develop new programs, we build alliances, we
recruit new members, and we train them to advocate for themselves, we do the
work of the NFB. 

Thank you for your support as we forge ahead. 
Bob Kresmer 

* From NFB vice president, Fred Schroeder, presented in 1996 while he was
commissioner of Rehabilitation Services Administration.  Our current
difficulty with congress who proposes to consolidate rehab services is not
new - as it was also defeated in 1996.  Here is what he has to say about
partnerships and alliances - 


by Fredric K. Schroeder 

Last year the public rehabilitation program faced a serious legislative
challenge. S. 143, introduced by Senator Nancy Kassebaum of Kansas, sought
to consolidate America's job training programs into a single workforce
development system, which would have been block granted to the states.
Initially the workforce consolidation proposal included vocational
rehabilitation; however, Senator Kassebaum soon recognized that, while there
is significant advantage in linking vocational rehabilitation to the
consolidated system, the comprehensive nature of vocational rehabilitation
makes it uniquely different from other job training programs. As a result S.
143 was modified to provide important linkages between vocational
rehabilitation and the generic system while maintaining specialized services
through a distinct program of vocational rehabilitation. 
In the House the treatment of vocational rehabilitation was approached much
differently. Congressman Howard (Buck) McKeon of California introduced H.R.
1617, which proposed merging vocational rehabilitation into a generic
block-grant job-training program. In essence this plan would have entirely
voucherized rehabilitation services. Many questions persisted throughout the
H.R. 1617 debate. In particular blind people questioned whether generic
workforce- development personnel would have the knowledge and experience to
assist a newly blind person in developing a plan of services which would
ensure access to instruction in cane travel and Braille reading and writing
in a context that would promote the development of self-confidence and
positive attitudes about blindness. Under the McKeon plan, who would provide
these services given that in twenty-one states and territories there are no
private service providers offering services to the blind, and even where
private services do exist, what would have happened if a blind person spent
his or her voucher and was still unable to find work? 
On September 19, 1995, Congressman Jay Dickey of Arkansas and Congressman
Gene Green of Texas introduced an amendment on the House floor to remove
vocational rehabilitation from H.R. 1617. As you know, the amendment was
adopted, thereby staving off the amalgamation of rehabilitation services
into a generic job training system. And why was this vote successful? Why
was it possible to persuade forty-one Republican Members of Congress to join
with the minority in opposition to House leadership? In a word the answer is
advocacy--not the advocacy of state rehabilitation professionals, although
they did their part; not the advocacy of those professional associations
providing rehabilitation services, although many of them did their part as
well. But in truth and in fact it was the advocacy of consumers and, more
specifically, the advocacy of blind people, organized through the National
Federation of the Blind. 
In the Spring of 1995 the National Federation of the Blind convened a
meeting at the National Center for the Blind in Baltimore of representatives
of the major blindness organizations. At that meeting a group was formed to
provide coordinated advocacy from throughout all sectors of the blindness
field--professionals joining with consumers, but perhaps of greater
significance, professionals joining with consumers in an effort led by the
blind themselves. There is an important lesson to be learned from this
experience. If the rehabilitation system is to survive, it will do so only
as long as blind people and others with disabilities regard the system as
capable of delivering high quality rehabilitation services. If consumers
lose faith in the system, then no amount of professional advocacy can save
it. The only protection that the rehabilitation system has is the degree to
which it wins the confidence of those people who come to the system for
In 1992 the Rehabilitation Act was amended in a number of important ways.
Perhaps the most important change was the addition of a clear policy
explicitly providing for a client's right to equal partnership throughout
the rehabilitation process. And what was the driving force behind this
change? It was the National Federation of the Blind. The National Federation
of the Blind believed that blind people and others with disabilities must
have the right to make informed choices about their vocational goals, the
services that will enable them to reach those goals, and the entity to
provide those services. 
The choice amendments demonstrate the fundamental principle that blind
people and others with disabilities must be active participants in the
rehabilitation process. It is the client's future that is at stake and the
choices that are made must make sense from the perspective of the client.
Similarly, the way rehabilitation services are administered must also make
sense from the client's perspective. 
There has been a longstanding belief that the rehabilitation system is
cumbersome and slow to respond. As a result the 1992 amendments included a
provision that eligibility decisions must be made within sixty days from the
date of application, unless the client agrees to an extension of time. While
this is the law, it is important to keep in mind the driving force leading
to this change. The sixty-day requirement was added in response to the
frustration which many clients experienced, and it is that frustration which
must be addressed by our system of rehabilitation. If a client is determined
eligible on the sixtieth day and he or she believes that a determination
could have been made on the third day following application, then the client
will perceive the system to be bureaucratized and unresponsive. By contrast,
if there are good and legitimate reasons why a determination of eligibility
cannot be made in sixty days and the client agrees to an extension, and if
the client perceives that his or her counselor is working hard to move the
process along, then the client will continue to have faith in the system.
The law alone cannot solve the problem. Shortly after the 1992 Amendments
were enacted, we saw a decrease in the time it took to determine clients
eligible for services. At the same time we saw an increase in the time it
took for an IWRP (Individualized Written Rehabilitation Plan) to be
developed after a determination of eligibility was made. Rather than waiting
to be determined eligible, clients were waiting for plans to be developed.
Compliance with the new law did very little to address the frustration that
stimulated the sixty-day eligibility requirement. If the rehabilitation
system is to be defended, then recipients of rehabilitation services must
believe that the system is worth defending. 
As a result the Rehabilitation Services Administration has entered into a
collaborative effort with state rehabilitation agencies to streamline our
nation's vocational rehabilitation service-delivery system. In February of
this year, RSA entered into an agreement with the Council of State
Administrators of Vocational Rehabilitation (CSAVR) to promote the
streamlining initiative with state vocational rehabilitation agencies
throughout the United States. We believe that by streamlining the
rehabilitation process we can address much of the frustration which clients
have experienced and ensure that the system continues to respond to the
demand for increased efficiency for and partnership with clients entering
the system. If we are successful in creating an efficient system driven by
the principle of informed choice resulting in high quality jobs, then the
public program will legitimately be able to withstand any challenge. The
measure of our success will be the degree to which clients of the system
perceive there to be value in the system. 
The perception of value has two parts. First, there must be a perception of
value within the process. Clients must believe that rehabilitation
counselors are well trained and able to provide needed services. But a
perception of value in the process alone is not sufficient. The client must
also obtain a satisfying job with good pay, good benefits, and the prospect
for upward mobility--a good quality job and an efficient process leading to
that job. There is some evidence that the system is beginning to respond. In
fiscal year 1995 209,509 clients were successfully placed in employment, an
increase of 3.2 percent over the previous year. For blind people the rate of
increase was even greater. In fiscal year 1994 (the most current year for
which data are available), 11,409 blind people were successfully
rehabilitated, an increase of 6.3 percent over the previous year. 
The Randolph-Sheppard Program, which celebrated its sixtieth anniversary on
June 20 of this year, continues to be an important source of high quality
employment for the blind. As of fiscal year 1995 there were 3,510 blind
vendors operating 3,414 vending facilities located on federal and other
property. The program generated $408.9 million in gross income and $80.2
million in net earnings to vendors, for an average annual earnings of
$26,420 per vendor. Our priority is on employment, and the system continues
to make steady progress in this area. But, when we say employment, we do not
mean simply a job. We do not want to press the system so hard for numbers
that counselors are encouraged to seek out only the quickest and cheapest
placements for the easiest-to- place people. We do not want to place such a
premium on numbers that counselors are driven to work with a large number of
inexpensive cases and to shy away from employment opportunities that may be
less certain, more complex, and more expensive. We want people to find jobs,
but beyond this we want people to find job that they themselves find
satisfying--jobs that anyone in society would be glad to have. The 1992
Amendments describe this concept in terms of employment outcomes consistent
with an individual's "strengths, resources, priorities, concerns, abilities,
and capabilities." In other words, jobs that people want and value. 
As I have previously mentioned, we at the Rehabilitation Services
Administration believe that the most important measure of our work is the
degree to which clients of our services perceive value in the system.
Accordingly we have restructured our comprehensive monitoring to focus on
high-quality employment. Did the individual go to work? Is there evidence of
informed choice throughout the process? In essence, was it a job consistent
with the individual's strengths, resources, priorities, concerns, abilities,
and capabilities--a job that was valued by the client. We have a
responsibility to monitor for compliance, but our prime responsibility is to
ensure that the rehabilitation process delivers high-quality services as
measured by the recipients of those services. 
The system must be pressed to be efficient. The system must be pressed to
place more and more people in employment each year. But, most of all, the
system must work in partnership with those it serves. Without this
partnership circumstance and not imagination will drive our system. Without
this partnership economics will dictate that clients be tracked into the
most expedient jobs at the lowest possible cost. Without this partnership
the system will be doomed to stagnation and failure. 
Together blind people and professionals can work as partners to create new
and expanded opportunities. Yet, as we look to the future, one important
truth remains. Throughout history the inspiration for change has invariably
come from blind people themselves. As long as there have been blind people,
there have been those who have been able to see beyond society's
expectations. There have been those who have had the courage and the will to
strive for something better than what was known. These people, mostly
unsung, are real heroes in the movement of the blind toward first-class
On May 1, 1996, Pauline Gomez passed away. Pauline was a lifelong resident
of Santa Fe, New Mexico, and a founding member of the New Mexico affiliate
of the National Federation of the Blind. Pauline was an example of a blind
person who wanted more out of life than conventional thinking of her day
would have believed was possible. Pauline wanted to be a teacher at a time
when it was assumed that the blind could only teach blind children at
schools for the blind. But Pauline did not want to teach at a school for the
blind; she wanted to stay in her home community of Santa Fe. To teach, she
needed a college education. After graduating from high school, she enrolled
at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque. It did not matter to Pauline
that no other blind person had ever attended the University of New Mexico.
She wanted to be a teacher, and to be a teacher she needed an education, so
she did what she needed to do. After completing her education, she opened a
private kindergarten in her home in Santa Fe. As the reputation of her
school, Los Ninos, grew, eventually Pauline built a separate school on the
property adjacent to her home. Although Pauline retired in the early 1980's,
it is still true today that virtually every prominent family in Santa Fe has
had its children taught by Pauline. 
In her life Pauline embodied the teachings of the National Federation of the
Blind--the teachings of Dr. tenBroek, Dr. Jernigan, and President Maurer.
Through her life and work she has changed forever the attitudes of society
about the capacity of blind people to live full and normal lives. But her
life did more than simply change the attitudes of sighted people in her
community. Through her work in the National Federation of the Blind, Pauline
inspired countless other blind people throughout New Mexico and the nation. 
I was one of those young blind people whom she touched and inspired. Through
the way she lived her life, Pauline encouraged me to believe I could be more
than I had ever thought I could be. I owe to Pauline an unpayable debt, not
simply a debt of gratitude, but a debt of responsibility. It is the debt
that we as blind people collectively owe to all those who came before us.
For throughout our history we have had our pioneers. We owe a debt of
gratitude to Pauline Gomez for daring to challenge society's assumptions
about us, and we owe a debt of responsibility to keep alive her pioneering
spirit and to continue challenging those beliefs and attitudes that would
relegate us to lives of diminished opportunity. 
The rehabilitation system can and should be our partner. But it is blind
people themselves who must chart their own course. This has been our
history, and inevitably it will be our future. The private and public
agencies can speed our progress, but they cannot set our goals for us. The
Rehabilitation Services Administration is committed to a system wherein
blind people and others with disabilities can look to the rehabilitation
program for meaningful partnership along the road toward first-class status:
partnership that includes professional services drawn from the best of our
experience, research, and technology; partnership that includes informed
choice as a living part of the rehabilitation system; partnership rooted in
the belief that today's impossibility is tomorrow's probability; partnership
with the expertise and the resources to make it meaningful; partnership that
results in a good job with good wages, good benefits, and a promising
future; and, most important, partnership that is felt by the individual
client who walks through the door of the local rehabilitation office in need
of help. 

Thanks for reading this all the way through, 

Bob Kresmer, president NFBA 
Toll free (888) 899-6322 

Vehicle Donations Take the Blind Further, and may qualify you for a tax
deduction.  Donate your unwanted car to the National Federation of the Blind
For more information, please visit:
www.carshelpingtheblind.org<http://www.carshelpingtheblind.org> or call

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