Volume 41 Fall, 1998 No. 3

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Published Quarterly by The Kansas Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired, Inc.
P.O. BOX 292
Topeka Kansas 66601

An Affiliate of the American Council of the Blind





TOPEKA KS 66606-1753

200 E 32ND
HAYS KS 67601




Send address changes to:
Harold Henderson, Mail Coordinator
1010 Inverness
Wichita KS 67218

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NOTIONS by Nancy Johnson

HAPPY BIRTHDAY JWOD by Michael Byington







IN MEMORIAM by Steve Bauer




President's Perspective
By Sanford J. Alexander, III

As a blind person living in Kansas, would you be upset to wake

up one morning to the news that the Division of Services for the

Blind would no longer provide services to blind and visually

impaired Kansans as a separate, identifiable agency? Would it

disturb you to think that your needs as a person dealing with

vision problems would be handled by staff not fully trained in the

particulars of vision loss? Would it bother you that supervisory

staff would make decisions based on knowledge about blindness that

was not clear and absolute? Would you feel compelled to do

something to correct this situation?

If the answer to any of these questions was "yes" I would have

to ask you why the suddenness of such a story would prompt you into

action when the slow slide in that direction, to this point,

hasn't spurred you into action?

As those of you who have read this column for the past couple

of years will recall, the issue of preserving categorical services

for Kansans who are blind and visually impaired has been a priority

of K A B V I's public relations programs for many years. We helped

bring nationally recognized experts to a KRS Advisory Council

meeting a year or so ago to explain why preservation of categorical

services was such an important issue. We have sponsored and acted

on numerous convention resolutions designed to promote categorical

services and to preserve them in the KRS state plan. We have

vigorously worked against the erosion of these services during the

reorganization of KRS under the direction of Commissioner Joyce A.


Yet, day by day and event by event one can only conclude that

our efforts are on the edge of failure. The problem is that the

failure has been realized not in one great stroke all could

understand and stand against but through a series of small, almost

unnoticed steps. Unfortunately, judging from the amount of

reaction from the blind and visually impaired population, this

process, calculation or happenstance, has been quite successful at

nearing achievement of a targeted goal or a sad consequence.

You will recall from the last issue of K A B V I news that a

letter was sent to Governor Bill Graves regarding the obvious

difference in administrative practices in SRS. We pointed out that

while DSB was forbidden from even allowing a program expert to be

present in a Kansas Congressional Delegation office to clarify

issues and present background, the Commissioner of the Department

on Aging was testifying before a Congressional committee in

support of the independent living community services bill.

We suggested to the Governor that either this constituted a

very unfair disparity of practice between departments with SRS

reflective of favoring of general services over categorical

services; or, a miscommunication with SRS that enabled such a

disparity to take place. We requested clarification of this issue

and offered to, yet once again, explain why blind and visually

impaired Kansans strongly feel that they can be best served through

identifiable and separate services dealing with blindness. The

response from Commissioner Joyce A. Cussimanio, dated June 15,

1998, does little to dispell our misgivings with regard to the

future shape of identifiable services. Instead, small steps

continue to be taken that can do nothing but erode the integrity of

DSB services making them less responsive to blind people while

rhetoric continues to proclaim committment to their preservation.

What I find most disturbing from my perspective is that this

erosion has taken place slowly enough that it has not tripped the

warning alarm for many people. We have had changes, some quite

productive and positive, but many have set the stage for the

elimination of DSB as an identifiable program unit. It is not

clear, nor, frankly, important as to who is most responsible for

this plan. The results are what count and what blind and visually

impaired Kansans would have to live with for many years to come.

Several attempts have been made over the years to establish a

Commission for the Blind in Kansas. For various reasons these

efforts have failed. Unfortunately, at a time when the political

climate might have made success easier, the inability of the NFB

and ACB to reach agreeable common ground thwarted the attempt. A

couple of years ago it was suggested that the question should be

revisited and that representatives from both consumer organizations

should meet to work out a proposal both could support. Now,

unfortunately, we are in a climate of cost cutting, even at the

expense of quality programming for the sake of seeming savings,

making our task even more challenging. It is, however, perhaps the

last opportunity we will have in Kansas to preserve what has worked

for blind people for many years. It is imperative that we put

aside differences that have prevented past agreement on this

critical issue in order to craft a proposal supportable by all that

can be put into the arena of ideas.

This column is being written prior to K A B V I's convention. By

the time you read it, this issue will have been brought to the

membership for discussion and to the board for action. We may

already have embarked on one of the most important journeys in our

lives and may already be engaged in a struggle for survival of

services as we have known them. It will not, however, be something

that has jumped out of the bushes but something we have allowed,

through our complacency, to creep out almost unnoticed. Let's hope

it is not too late to snatch victory from the jaws of indifference.



by Nancy Johnson

If I had a quarter for every time I've heard or said - "I

can't," I'd be rich. "I cannot" means I am not able. How many

activities am I really not able to do? Because of the impairment

of vision, I can't see. If I had a condition that caused loss of

a limb's function, I couldn't perform the activities normally

assigned to that limb. I accept the word can't in that context.

The impairment becomes a disability when it interferes with my

performing routine daily activities. "I can't cook because I can't

see." "I can't do housework because I can't see." "I can't ask

friends to drive me to the store because that would be imposing."

"I can't accept responsibilities within an organization because I

can't see." Am I really not able to cook? Am I really not able to

do housework? Am I really not able to ask friends to drive me to

the store? Is there truly no job I can accept within my

organization? Or, would it be more truthful to say I'm feeling

embarrassed to do these things? Maybe I'm not comfortable doing

them. Am I too proud to do them? Might I simply prefer not to do

these and other things? Perhaps I've learned it's easier to let

others take care of things for me. I have become handicapped when

I allow my impairment to become a disability and my disability to

prevent my participating fully in society.

People who are newly experiencing vision impairment or

blindness may believe they are not able to cook, keep house, ask

for help to get places, accept responsibilities within an

organization, and perform many other activities. In time - and

with help from family, friends and professional persons - most of

us learn we can accomplish almost anything in spite of the visual

disability. When people begin asking, "How can I?" instead of

saying, "I can't," progress begins.

Take a look at your "I can't" statements to see if you're

really saying, "I can't" or something else. Then turn your

statements into "How can I?" questions. Ask, "How can I do this

with my fingers (ears, nose, tongue or mind)?" When you do that,

I'll wager you'll turn from a Can't-do person to a Can-do person.

And I'll also wager you'll feel better about yourself.

Granted, you may have to say, "It's hard," "it's unpleasant,"

"I don't like this," and other such comments. You might even have

to admit you don't want to perform the task. Most of us grunch a

bit when we're learning to do things differently or newly.

Eventually, we get past the tough spots to "I can." Remember the

story of the little engine? He had the whole train to pull behind

him all the way up the steep, steep mountain. He was just a little

engine. All the way up the mountain he told himself, "I think I

can! I think I can!" And HE DID! YOU CAN, TOO!


by Michael Byington

First, a refresher course so new readers of K A B V I NEWS

will understand what I am writing about. The Wagner O'Day Act was

adopted in 1938. The federal Act allowed certain items

purchased by the United States Government to be listed as products

to be manufactured by persons who are blind. Contracts to

manufacture the products were then assigned to industries

across the country that employed workers who were blind. The law

made it (at least in theory) mandatory that federal procurement

agents purchase the listed products from the manufacturers who

employ blind workers provided that the products in question could

be delivered on time and in accordance with quality specifications.

The Wagner O'Day law continues to function today but, in 1971,

Senator Jacob Javits introduced legislation which added employers

of persons who are severely handicapped. The Act is known today as

the Javits-Wagner-O'Day Act (JWOD). In addition to products,

services used by the United States government were included in the

law in the 1971 amendments.

In July of 1998, the JWOD Act turned 60 years of age. On July

15, 1998, the Committee for Purchase from the Blind and Severely

Handicapped (the federal agency in charge of JWOD) held a JWOD

birthday party in Washington, D. C. The party was held in

collaboration with National Industries for the Blind (NIB) and NISH

(formerly National Industries for the Severely Handicapped, now

using just the initials.) This author was honored to be invited to


Why celebrate the birthday of a law? It might seem a silly

waste of time and money. Sometimes, however, it is necessary to go

through a little pomp and circumstance to protect what we have.

Federal procurement reform and Vice President Al Gore's

"Re-Inventing Government" initiative have nearly killed the entire

JWOD Act several times over the past few years. Many segments of

the independent living lobby are also gunning to kill JWOD because

they have the misguided and inaccurate view that the law supports

segregated, dark, dingy, below minimum wage, exploitive employment

activities. This is largely untrue with regard to NIB agencies.

Some NISH agencies continue to fit the description, but they are

becoming fewer each year. Generally, between NIB and NISH, around

33,000 blind and severely disabled people are working. It is

doubtful that the independent living lobby has a way to replace

these jobs. Government procurement reform and the Re-Inventing

Government initiative probably have not intended to threaten JWOD

but, as federal programs go, JWOD and the Committee which

administers it are very small. Thus the Act and the Committee have

nearly been eliminated more through carelessness and

irresponsibility of Congress and the Executive Branch rather than

through malice. The independent living movement, on the other

hand, has intentionally attempted to kill JWOD essentially because

it is a program which pre-dated centers for independent living and

which these centers thus can not control. The bottom line is that

with all of these threats, it is necessary to remind members of

Congress that JWOD still exists, is still functioning well, and

needs to continue. It is essential to make sure that Congress, the

President, and the Vice President do not get careless and cavalier

again in continuing to craft procurement changes. These concerns

constitute the logic behind the otherwise seemingly silly process

of throwing a birthday bash for a federal Act.

The event itself was nothing particularly unique or creative.

It was an ice cream social held outside (in Washington's July heat)

in the courtyard of the Rayburn Building. Several congresspersons

have offices there. The event was pretty well attended by members

of both Houses of Congress. Many members who were not able to

attend sent staff. Several of the members of Congress in

attendance spoke of the impact JWOD has had in their States or

Districts. From Kansas, Bonnie Matles, staff for Congressman Vince

Snowbarger, Third District of Kansas, attended along with myself.

The Rayburn Courtyard has terraced steps throughout that lead

down to a large fountain in the middle. Most of us with low vision

joined people who were totally blind in using white canes so we

would not inadvertently miss a terraced step and go tumbling down

to an unplanned dip in the fountain. Some of the sighted folks

danced down a step or two as though they too should have been using

white canes. But nobody took a dip.

It is too bad no one from Kansas State Government observed the

JWOD birthday. Perhaps if State officials were to realize the

positive impact of JWOD, they would stop acting ashamed of the

State's role in continuing to operate Kansas Industries for the

Blind and operate the program more as the positive, growing

business it could be. It is also rather a shame Congressman Jim

Ryun, Senator Roberts, and Senator Brownback failed either to

attend or to send staff. Although I believe Senators Roberts and

Brownback understand the value of the JWOD program, their

appearance at the event would have been tangible reminders of same.

Congressman Ryun has visited one of the Envision facilities which

engages in JWOD production, but during that visit the Congressman

declined to express support for continuation of JWOD when asked to

do so. His failure to attend or to send staff to the event limits

our opportunities to educate him concerning the importance of the

continuation of the Act.


by Nancy Johnson


K A B V I'S Board of Directors met at the Salina Area Social and

Rehabilitation Services office in Salina from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00

p.m. June 6, 1998. Minutes and treasurer's report were approved.

Suzanne Alexander, who has served several years as newsletter

coordinator, resigned. A new coordinator is being sought to

proofread the final draft of the newsletter before it goes into

production. The Board thanks Suzanne for the time and effort she

has given K A B V I NEWS. Members who know individuals who could

accept coordinator responsibilities, please contact Nancy Johnson,

714 SW Wayne Ave., Topeka, KS 66606-1753, (785) 234-8449.

Extra copies of K A B V I news are sometimes available. Board

members suggested they might be distributed to doctors' offices,

low vision clinics, senior centers, or other places where

individuals with impaired vision might be found. Contact Sanford

Alexander if you wish to distribute extra copies of the NEWS.

The finance committee did not find appropriate insurance to

cover the auto auction project. The contract for that project was

reviewed and rewritten to put K A B V I into the most favorable

position possible. The contract was reviewed by a lawyer from

Kansas City who specializes in IRS law. The liability issue was

clarified as follows: The fund raising corporation's name is


appeals if needed. When a vehicle is donated to K A B V I, VDPC begins

work. It will retrieve the vehicle, liquidate it, and divide the

proceeds. Pete Palco's agency will place the advertisements for

charitable clients of VDPC. VDPC will not act as the professional

fund raiser but, rather, it will simply liquidate donated property.

This places the charitable client in the best possible position

relative to the handling and reporting of proceeds in a favorable

manner. Advertising affidavits, definitions, terms and mutual

responsibilities for advertising, transportation, commissions,

public awareness, etc. were reviewed. The Board decided K A B V I will

accept the revised contract and begin business associations with


Four scholarship applications are being evaluated at this


Four board positions will be elected at the Fall annual

meeting. Terms expiring are those of Tom Basgall, Darlene Howe,

Regina Henderson and Georgia Layton. Michael Byington will chair

the Nominating Committee and be assisted by Beulah Carrington and

Janelle Edwards. Nominations will be accepted from the floor.

Balancing income with outgo to conform with IRS 501(C)(3)

regulations by finding interested fund raisers has been

frustrating, but the Board believes the decision to work with VDPC

will help solve the problem. Volunteers who have given time to

K A B V I projects are asked to report the number of hours spent to

Sanford Alexander. The hours count toward maintaining 501(C)(3)


the Board continues to search for an accountant to perform a

"compiled audit." Reasons for the difficulty involve cost,

liability and potential oversight issues.

No new information was available relative to privatization of

Kansas Industries for the Blind. The DSB Advisory Committee has

not recently met. Changes in committee format are being

considered. The categorical services issue is still unresolved.

Oral Miller, Executive Director, American Council of the Blind

(ACB,) retired. K A B V I contributed two $25 door prizes for the

special convention meeting. ACB had a "roast" and other activities

in honor of Mr. Miller on the program throughout the week. They

welcomed presentations, anecdotes, stories, etc. about Miller. The

board asked Michael Byington to prepare a contribution, possibly a

song. Purchase of a $20 farewell gift was approved.

K A B V I Annual Meeting and convention dates are September 25,

26, 27, 1998 at the Topeka Downtown DAY'S Inn. Rates are $50 for

single, $55 for double, $60 for more, plus tax. That includes

complimentary breakfasts. Convention planning involves numerous

concerns including convention site, program content, subject

matter, exhibits, resolutions, special interest group activities,

and other convention matters. Planners work to motivate members to

attend. Facilities charge for each and every service they provide.

When K A B V I guarantees only a few rooms, a few meals, and much

service, members pay more for the privilege of attending.

Discounts come only with larger numbers. Members need to let

directors know what they believe is most important to have at their

conventions. The Board agreed to arrange convention sites (as

assessable as possible) for three years at a time, to be based on

input from the membership at large. When three-year contracts are

developed with facilities, prices remain at a lower level

throughout the period and keep convention costs down. Planning

also becomes easier because planners usually work with the same

facility staff for three years.

The National Accreditation Council (NAC), accredits agencies

that educate, train, and serve persons who are blind and visually

impaired. K A B V I contributed $50 to NAC in support of its ongoing


K A B V I President, Sanford Alexander, was invited to speak at

the Missouri Council of the Blind's convention.

K A B V I supported the new, innovative print access technology of

Wichita Air Capital Telephone Reader and of Lawrence Audio-Reader

Services with a one-time donation of $50 each.

All business was completed and the meeting was adjourned.


by Michael Byington

This article reports certain facts. It does so accurately.

It also expresses a bias that Director of Kansas Division of

Services for the Blind Suzannah Erhart and her boss, Rehabilitation

Services Commissioner Joyce Cussimanio, are absolutely wrong

concerning their policies about Kansas Industries for the Blind

(KIB.) I would be surprised if anyone with Envision or the K A B V I

Legislative Committee would disagree with this analysis but, the

fact is, I have not checked with these entities. The opinions

expressed here are my own exclusively and are not represented as

being those of any organization.

Director Erhart has established the policy that blind workers

at KIB shall be considered "in need of sheltered employment." This

is the only way they can get to work at KIB. Any position which is

reserved for a blind worker is considered a "sheltered position."

Thus, KIB will hire no one to fill a position reserved for a person

who is blind unless that person has an open vocational

rehabilitation case, has been through vocational evaluation, and

has established through testing and the sharing of history that

they have barriers to employment in addition to blindness.

This means a blind person who happens to get laid off of

another job can not go to KIB for work even if KIB is shorthanded

and needs to hire someone to meet production goals. It means a

blind person, for example, who is working fast food and who has no

benefits or opportunities for upward mobility is unable to apply to

work at KIB instead because KIB offers benefits and the opportunity

to move up the State employment ladder through transfer

opportunities which may be available to other totally integrated

and competitive State workers. It means a sighted person

applying to fill a position at KIB, which is not one reserved for

people who are blind, can get hired in about six minutes if KIB's

powers that be decide they want them. A blind worker, if

determined to be sufficiently hard-up to warrant working at KIB at

all, may take up to six months to jump through all the hoops

required just to go to work there. The policy smacks of

discrimination against the very people KIB was created to serve.

In fairness to Erhart, she alleges she has no choice but to

foster the above policy. She suggests that, unless there are other

reasons besides the fact of blindness for someone to work at KIB,

there is no justification for the existence of KIB. She implies

her superiors would entirely close the workshop if the policy

were to change to one that allowed any blind person who wants to

work to apply for KIB jobs when such jobs are open. The State

version of logic here is that it has been proven that blind people

can do many jobs and are capable of competitive employment; thus

there is no reason for blind people to work at KIB unless they have

something haywire about themselves in addition to blindness.

This narrow State position fails to acknowledge that, despite

the abilities of working age blind people to work competitively,

reliable, national statistics show 74% of all working age

blind are unemployed. This in and of itself should constitute

justification for the continuation and growth of jobs at KIB for

any blind person who needs them and can do the work. Only the

flawed logic of State bureaucrats, and apparently of the elected

officials who supervise them, would dictate otherwise.

The current State policy regarding KIB also insults and

classifies the current blind workforce at the industry. Several

highly capable and competitive people currently work at KIB. The

State is not doing them any favors with regard to potential upward

mobility by essentially dubbing them as "inadequate." But that is

what the current policy is doing.

In advocating that the policy change, I am certainly not

suggesting workers who have barriers to work in addition to

blindness should be excluded from KIB. They should indeed be given

opportunities to work there. They should perhaps be given certain

preferences over workers who have a competitive work history. If

no blind workers who have competitive work histories and/or

capabilities are to be hired, however, no blind role models will

exist for emulation by workers attempting to overcome barriers in

addition to blindness.

Meanwhile, KIB continues to shrink and downsize. It is not

actively seeking new contracts under either Javits-Wagner-O'Day or

State Use Laws. At best it is operating on a status-quo basis with

no strategy for creation of new jobs. Such policies of

non-aggression in contract procurement, and of no-growth, are

ultimately doomed to spell the destruction of the program.

David Schwinn, KIB Representative to the Services for the

Blind Consumer Advisory Committee, and Don Johnson, his alternate,

have joined me in voicing the view that KIB policies need to

change, that any blind person who has a desire to work should be

able to apply for positions, when open, at KIB. This was the

policy former Rehabilitation Commissioner Glenn Yancey supported,

and Mr. Yancey was moving toward this policy at the time he was


At this point, I have to give notice that Schwinn, Johnson,

and Byington have taken these arguments as far as we can. Schwinn

and Johnson already have jobs at KIB, and Byington is not

requesting to work there. The people who can move the needed

changes forward at this point are those blind citizens who have

inquired about work at KIB and who have been turned down because

they did not wish to have a vocational rehabilitation case opened,

or because they did not desire vocational evaluation just to work

at KIB as current policy requires. Sighted workers are not

required to jump through these hoops. I have heard a lot of

grumbling from people who fall into these categories and who want

to work at KIB, and I have heard even more grumbling through third

parties who have talked with such folks. At this point, however,

Erhart has drawn her line in the sand. She likes her policy. She

says her boss, Joyce Cussimanio, supports it and, come what may,

Erhart is not going to change it. I can write articles such as

this until the keys fall off my word processor and Erhart will not

change. Her hand will have to be forced by appeals of the decision

made by people who have actually been turned down for work at KIB.

This can be done through the Client Assistance Program, or it can

be done by filing complaints with the Kansas Commission on Civil

Rights and/or the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission of the

United States Department of Justice. Such actions need to be taken

by the parties who are actually injured by the illogical policies.

If you are blind and you think you might like to work at KIB,

apply. If you are then turned down, appeal. If you need help with

the appeal, I will be glad to assist on my own time. I can be

contacted at (785) 233-3839.


by Michael Byington

With the announcement of the retirement of Richard Thompson,

Blind Services Supervisor for the southern portion of Kansas,

Rehabilitation Services Commissioner Joyce Cussimanio has

announced her intent to eliminate specialist supervision of blind

services counselors. Cussimanio proposes instead to have blind

services personnel supervised by generalists who are in charge of

the rehabilitation of every category of person from mentally ill,

to orthopedically disabled, to environmentally sensitive, etc.

Cussimanio claims the front line workers will continue to be

specialists, but the supervision will not be. She claims technical

consultation for counselors will still be available in

the system.

I wrote the attached letter to Governor Graves on this subject

in my professional capacity with my employer, Envision. I am

sharing it with K A B V I readers because I think you all may also be

interested in this subject.

EDITOR'S NOTE: In the interest of saving space, only the body

of the letter has been printed.


Dear Governor Graves:

After many years of Service, Richard Thompson, Supervisor of

the Southern Region of the Kansas Division of Services for the

Blind Rehabilitation Program, has decided to retire. Joyce

Cussimanio, Commissioner of Rehabilitation Services, has announced

that she is considering not filling this position; instead she

would eliminate it and have supervision shared between the general

rehabilitation program and the Kansas Division of Services for the

Blind Rehabilitation Program. We feel that this would be a serious

mistake. We are asking you to urge Commissioner Cussimanio, and

her Supervisor, Secretary Rochelle Chronister, to maintain and fill

the Blind Services position in question. THE KANSAS DIVISION OF



Compared with other disability groups, blindness is a low

incidence population. Envision has been serving blind Kansans from

1931 through the present, and our considerable experience in this

field has shown us that, when specialty services for the blind are

administratively combined with programs serving other disability

groups, the needs of the blind are not considered with appropriate

expertise. They are frequently out-voted by larger disability

interests, and are quite often completely ignored as the system

moves toward a level of service which attempts to fit individuals

with unique and diverse needs into a same-services-for-all type


Commissioner Cussimanio has assured us that this will not

happen. She argues that specialist counselors for the blind will

still be available and that technical expertise in blindness will

be available. In other states where combining supervisory

responsibilities has been implemented in the manner now proposed

for Kansas, the result has been that the loss of specialist

supervision over the blind services counselors reduces their

effectiveness. They are forced to fit the special procedures and

techniques they use, and special knowledge and skill they possess,

into a one size fits all approach. We believe that Commissioner

Cussimanio is sincere in her conviction that quality of service

will not decrease, but history and practical experience causes us

to believe her optimism is unfounded. If the bottom line for

rehabilitation counselors for the blind is indeed the outcome

oriented goal of placing blind clients in jobs, then this process

must continue to be supervised by an expert in the field of


We enjoy an excellent working relationship with Commissioner

Cussimanio, and we look forward to its continuation. In most

instances she has been very responsive to our counsel concerning

decisions requiring expertise in blindness. In this instance,

however, we must assume that the pressure to combine positions is

coming from Secretary Chronister or from you, so it seems

appropriate to advocate for what we know works most efficiently at

your level of government.

Please intervene in this matter before decisions are finalized

which we all may regret. Thank you for your consideration of this


CC. Rochelle Chronister, Secretary, Kansas Department of Social

and Rehabilitation Services

Commissioner Joyce Cussimanio, Rehabilitation Services

Suzannah Erhart, Director, Blind Services

Suzie Stanzel, President, National Federation of the Blind of

Kansas (Braille copy)

Sanford Alexander, III, President, Kansas Association F/T

Blind and Visually Impaired, Inc. (Braille Copy)

Former Lt. Governor Sheila Frahm

Linda Merrill, President and C.E.O., Envision

Don Cox, Director of Rehabilitation, Envision (Braille Copy)


by Michael Byington


Envision has announced it will open a downtown Topeka office.

According to Michael Byington, Director of Governmental

Affairs for Envision, the location will be fairly small and will

not be immediately able to provide the full array of services

offered in certain other parts of the State. This could change in

the future depending on funding and local demand. To begin, the

Topeka location will house a White Canes and More Store which will

sell adaptive equipment, aids, and appliances for people

who are blind and low vision. It will house some members of the

Envision Deafblind Services staff and Governmental Affairs staff.

Byington reports a location for the new facility has not yet

been selected, but locations close to downtown bus transfer points

and near the State Capitol are being considered. Opening is

expected to occur sometime this fall or winter. The exact opening

date will be determined by adaptation needs of the selected



by William Lewis


You haven't lived till you have spent five hours at one of our

exciting K A B V I Board meetings. We get together, decide what we

will order for lunch, then sit down and start solving all the

worldS problems without taking a breath. Then, our brain storming

is interrupted by President Alexander's banging the gabble and

calling the Board meeting to order. This is when we have to start

working on K A B V I problems. Now, I don't know about you, but

working on our own problems seems much harder than working on the

world problems. Maybe you have noticed that sort of thing in your

own life experience.

For instance, one problem we have to do something about is

that of where to hold K A B V I Conventions each year? It does no good

to schedule one, and perhaps have nobody show up. So where do you

think our 1999 convention should be held, and how can we help keep

it affordable; or is it already unaffordable? We have considered

moving the conventions around the state, but transportation is

generally inadequate. Salina, for example, is located ideally, but

getting there is difficult, if bus transportation is needed. The

same applies to most other cities. What do you think? Where can

we hold them? We can handle the arrangements and programs, but we

need a location, where people will attend.

Another problem is what should our programs consist of? We

have plenty of resolutions each near, and lots of political issues,

but what should be added that really means something to you, and

which would motivate you to leave your comfortable house or

apartment to attend a convention that will cost you money? Sister

Ann Cecile and Paul Edwards have been a hit. Who else can we have?

What subject matter turns you on?

Everybody wants the conventions to be inexpensive. However,

the YWCA or public library do not book conventions. I thought we

could hold it in someone's back yard, but who has a yard without

chiggers? And I thought we might hold it in restaurant party

rooms, but where would we sleep later? After looking around to see

where other organizations hold theirs, I notice it is at hotels;

but that brings up another problem.

Hotel rates continue to go up. Hotels charge for all extras

except water. They insist that people

pay money to use their meeting rooms, unless the convention has a

large turnout. So what can we do? It has come down to a simple

logical dilemma: What price are people willing to pay to go to a

convention, visit with old friends, gossip with new acquaintances,

attend a few meetings, examine the exhibits, and take action to do

something about the forces which now are pushing the blind and

visually impaired out of the mainstream of life.

"Oh yeah? Like what?" You ask.

Like, computer technology moving away from text based systems

to colorful icons and mouses; like, SRS Categorical Services for

the disabled all under one roof; like, Congress planning to make

restrictions in SSDI and SSI; like, businesses finding ways around

the hiring of disabled workers, on the rationalization of higher

insurance and Workman Comp premiums; like, violence on the streets

toward people with disabilities; like, various business scams

directed toward people with disabilities; like, Utility companies

having to be taken to court by the states to force them to be

charitable toward those who

have but little income; like, decreasing availability of public

transportation; like, overloading the special transportation

services, without proper funding, making it impossible to maintain

a reasonable and predictable schedule for their users; like,

finding it harder to obtain volunteer reader services in the

neighborhood; like, noticing the utility bills increasing faster

than income; and last but most important, like, seeing the

cohesiveness of the blindness community falling away.

So what more do you need, whether sighted or visually

impaired, to be convinced that K A B V I is the organization for your

active support and participation. There are thousands of visually

impaired people in Kansas, but few band together in an organized

manner, to push for the services we need for gainful employment,

financial solvency, and a decent quality of life.

At K A B V I's September Topeka Convention, at the downtown DAY'S

INN, four board positions will be filled. What about you? Whether

sighted or visually impaired (it makes no difference), how would

you like to have your voice heard, and contribute your part on

committees. K A B V I is only an organization. It needs people, like

you, to make it productive and effective. Let us know what the

people in your community need. Otherwise, Congress, the State

Legislature, and even K A B V I will have no way of knowing there is

anything lacking. No news is

good news to politicians; but no news is bad news for you and me.

You and I have to speak out, and be active. Don't simply ride

the coattails of those who are still trying to get things done even

without you. Remember the words from the American revolution:

"together we stand, divided we fall." Well, I for one am still

standing, but at my age, I lean a little bit.


by Genevieve Schreiner

Shirley Smith, who has been battling a serious disease for

three years, has faithfully met with and read to children at the

Wichita Children's Center. For the most part, she uses print-

braille books. Some of them were prepared for her Braille

Association of Wichita. Some children have been tutored by her as


Miss Smith has been blind her entire life. She graduated from

the Kansas School for the Blind in 1947. She earned a Master's

degree from Wichita State University and spent several years

working there as a students' assistant.

Kiwanis is a civic organization dedicated to philanthropic

activities with children and senior citizens in the community.

Members of the Downtown Wichita Kiwanis nominated Shirley Smith for

the Volunteer of the Year award. On March 27, 1998, she was guest

of honor at a luncheon at the Broadview Hotel. In recognition of

her volunteer activities on behalf of children, she was presented

a plaque and a check.


by Steve Bauer

Ramon Tejeda, 76, a charter member of the Wichita Association for

the Visually handicapped died on June 17, 1998. He worked for 33

years at Cudahy as a meat curer. Ramon attended the Kansas State

School for the Blind in the 1940's. He was a life long active

member of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Catholic Church in Wichita.

Parishioners would refer to him as "Officer Ray," as he made it his

personal task to make sure that the lights were turned out and the

church building was secure each night. His booming voice will long

be remembered as a participant in daily Mass. Ramon didn't let

being visually impaired slow him down, he used to the fullest what

little vision he had. Survivors include: his wife of 46 years,

Catalina and a sister, Mary Alfaro of Wichita. A memorial has been

established with the Wichita Association for the Visually

Handicapped. Ramon, fuiste un buen amigo. (Ramon, you were a good







learned about the benefits of keyless door locks and the

Neighborhood Watch Program when a representative of the Hays Police

Department spoke to them. They were reminded to keep shrubs and

trees near windows and doors trimmed to eliminate hiding places for

intruders. Lighting for safety was also discussed. Low Vision

Specialist Kendall Krug addressed the group in May. NKAVI members

also planned a day in Abilene where they can tour the Eisenhower

complex, a variety of antique shops and Old Abilene Town. Abilene

is also home of the Greyhound Museum and the Museum of Telephony.


President has resigned that position to move to Wichita where she

will be close to her grandchildren. Gordon Gary will move into the

president's position. SKAVI members enjoyed a trip to the Stauth

Museum in Hays. They have also been involved again this summer

with Camp Mitchell, a summer camp for youngsters who are visually




Disabled American Veterans

40 Seward Avenue, Toms River NJ 08753-6626

Home Page: http:/twww.mtncom.comcip/dav-no2.htm




Blind Veterans National Chapter Newly Elected Officers

,Las Vegas - Robert Dawson of Wichita, KS, Disabled American

Veterans (DAV) Blind Veteran National Chapter (BVNC) member, was

elected Chaplain for the DAV BVNC 1998-1999 year at the DAV's 77th

National Convention held at the Las" Vegas Hilton. Robert's other

responsibilities included serving on the DAV National General

Resolutions Committee representing the DAV BVNC.

Floyd O. Britting of El Dorado, KS, Disabled American

Veterans (DAV) Blind Veteran National Chapter (BVNC) member, was

elected Judge Advocate for the DAV BVNC 1998-1999 year at the DAV's

77th National Convention held at the Las Vegas Hilton. Floyd's

other responsibilities included serving on the DAV National

Credentials Committee representing the DAV BVNC. DAV BVNC Commander

May appointed Floyd DAV BVNC Finance Committee Chairman for



Robert and Floyd were among some 4,000 delegates, family

members, and guests who convened at the Las Vegas Hilton for the

DAV National Convention to participate in planning the DAV's goals

and activities for 1999.

Among the important issues prominently featured during the

convention were several contentious issues that have harmed

veterans, including recerdy passed legislation that took $15.5

Billion in veterans' disability compensation to fund pork-barrel

highway projects. To prevent further unwarranted and

harmful cuts in the Department of Veterans Affairs budget, veterans

across the nation have launched a dramatic and innovative voter

registration and get-out-the-vote campaign to increase the

political clout of America's disabled veterans. Also among the

Convention highlights included a speech by Secretary of Veterans

Affairs Togo D. West, Jr. Ford Motor Company donated ten 1998 Ford

Super Club Wagon XL, 15-passenger vans along with two Windstar, 7

- passenger vans to the nationwide DAV Transportation Network.

These vans will be used to transport sick and disabled veterans to

and from VAMCs for care.

The DAV is a Congressionally-chartered, non-profit association

of more than one million veterans disabled in wartime military

service, The DAV is dedicated to one single purpose: building

better lives for our nation's disabled veterans and their families.

"A Nation that fails to Honor it's Veterans - Ceases to be a

Great Nation"





KISSIN' DON'T LAST, BUT COOKIN' DO: The Illinois Council of

the Blind (ICB) needs money, so they've decided to involve others

and have fun while making it. They're creating a cookbook with

the best recipes they can find, and they hope you'll share your

favorite recipes and cooking tips. Send your recipes, in your

format of choice, to the ICB office, P.O. Box 1830, Springfield,

IL 62705-1830, before January 15, 1999. Include your name, city

and state so you can be acknowledged in the book. To add to the

fun, enter their contest by submitting a catchy title for the

recipe book. The winner will receive a free cookbook in format of

choice and be announced September 26 at the ICB convention. The

cookbook will be available in July, 1999, and can be purchased at

the Illinois booth at the American Council of the Blind's

convention. You can order by mail if you wish to do so. Send the

following information and payment to ICB: Number of cookbooks to

reserve; Format - braille $25, large print $15, casette or computer

disc $15; and your Name, address, city, state and zip. Understand

that cookbooks will be shipped in July, 1999.

FOR SALE: Reusable C60 or C90 casettes, $.10 each or best

offer (OBO.) 5.5 inch computer disks, $.10 OBO. Vast library of

materials on mental health (subjects A to W) make offer. Call Bill

Lewis, (316) 681-7443.

714 SW Wayne Ave.

Topeka, KS 66606-1753

August 30, 1998




American Council of the Blind

Paul Edwards, President

1155 15th St. N.W., Suite 720

Washington, DC 20005


Dear Paul:

I appreciated your article, "Who's Killing the ADA?" in the

August BRAILLE FORUM. Attached are some thoughts and questions

your article brought to mind. If there's merit enough to warrant

sharing, print them. If not - thanks for the opportunity to



Nancy Johnson


Lately, I've been concerned that the blind community has lost

sight of long-term goals. There seems to be a feeling that people

with disabilities other than impaired vision or blindness see us as

having no disability. Recently, at the Region Vii Independent

Living Summit, I saw a number of blind and visually impaired

employees of independent living centers. I heard blindness and

impaired vision listed among disabilities in presentations. With

regard to categorical services, I heard it said that each

disability group has its own special set of needs but, at the same

time, there are commonalities shared by all of us.

Conversely, Some members of the blind community say

individuals who are blind don't want people with other disabilities

to "catch up with us" in terms of available services. Some say, if

we coalesce with other disability groups, we'll get lost in the

shuffle. I have to ask why anyone would think blindness or vision

impairment should be considered any "better" or "worse" than any

other disability. I also have to ask why we who are blind and

visually impaired think we'd get lost in the shuffle. Are we

afraid of the competition? Have not the years of advocacy we spent

before the passage of the Americans With Disabilities Act proved

our ability to advocate for our needs? Had not many of our needs

been met by legislation before passage of the ADA? Why do we think

braille should be immediately available everywhere? (Folks who use

wheel chairs don't yet have curb cuts at every corner.) Neither

braille nor curb cuts happen instantly.

The cover of THE BRAILLE FORUM says, "The American Council of

the Blind strives to increase the independence, security, equality

of opportunity, and quality of life for all blind and visually

impaired people." Admittedly, I haven't fully read the ADA. But

I see the goal as the same. "The Americans With Disabilities Act

strives to increase the independence, security, equality of

opportunity, and quality of life for all people with disabilities."

If we consider vision impairment or blindness a disability, the act

includes us. And, if the act includes us, then why are we not

making positive efforts to help it succeed. Who do we think we are

that we can say the act isn't helping us if we don't work with

everyone else to achieve shared goals? Why don't we work with all

other disability groups to achieve common goals and, at the same

time, strongly advocate for categorical services as needed by each

disability group?




CHARLES (CHUCK) SPENCER, Dodge City, died April 16, 1998. He

had been an active member of the Southwest Kansas Association for

the Visually Impaired.