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It is almost impossible to list in one document the special interest groups that could demand this type of legislation, if the precedent is set. To name a few more in addition to the categories of the disabled would be the veterans of the Armed Forces, all of the professions, including lawyers, teachers, ministers, doctors, nurses, all of the business groups, including bankers, merchants, importers; and again-on, and on, and on.
In summary I will state then that we feel that a bill to study the status of services for the blind is certainly needed at this time and just as most certainly we oppose a bill granting special pressure privileges to any organization, be it of the blind, or otherwise.
Mr. Elliott. Thank you very, very much, Mr. Simmons.
May I say that following the statement you have just made your written statement will be included in the record in full.
Are there any questions, Mr. Daniels?
Our next witness is Mr. Robert Barnett, executive director, American Foundation for the Blind, New York.
STATEMENT OF M. ROBERT BARNETT, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR,
AMERICAN FOUNDATION FOR THE BLIND, INC.; ACCOMPANIED BY WINFIELD RUMSEY, EXECUTIVE ASSISTANT; IRVIN P. SCHLOSS, WASHINGTON REPRESENTATIVE; AND NANCY DIANA, SECRETARY TO MR. SCHLOSS
Mr. BARNETT. Mr. Chairman, may I bring forward three members of my staff at this time? Mr. ELLIOTT. You certainly may.
Mr. BARNETT. Mr. Chairman, to my left is Mr. Winfield Rumsey, my own executive assistant in our New York office. To my right is Mr. Irvin Schloss, who is our representative in Washington, and who is to testify later, and his second, Mrs. Diana.
While I am looking for my Braille notes I will with your permission identify myself just a bit more.
I am M. R. Barnett, presently the executive director of the American Foundation for the Blind. I was born in Florida. I live in New Jersey and I work in New York City. I lost my own sight when I was 16 years old as a result of a gunshot wound. I was pilfering oranges in a Florida orange grove.
I went to the Florida State School for the Blind for 2 years, finished my high school there, and went to college. After college I worked on a newspaper about 3 years as a reporter and have written for several other newspapers and the Associated Press.
I worked for about 2 years as a director of public relations for a small university. I was an instructor in journalism concurrently at the university level with the rather lowly rank of instructor, not a professor. I left that to go into the field of rehabilitation and other services for the blind with the Florida State Agency for the Blind called the council. I went with it first as a placement officer.
I was promoted from that to supervisor of the agency's overall employment program, which included such things as the vending stand program as well as placement and training of other kinds.
I was promoted to the directorship of that agency in 1945. The directorship became vacant because of the untimely death of a man named Henry Johnson. I was the director of that Florida agency then, a public governmental agency, for 4 years.
I have been in my present job since 1949.
My work has permitted me to travel in virtually every State in the country and about 20 foreign countries. Either in my official capacity or in a personal capacity I have had occasion to consult with foreign governments in about 8 or 10 countries as well as observe the programs abroad and here.
A word or two, I think, is in order at this point about the American Foundation for the Blind. It does not represent anybody except itself. It is not an association. It is an agency of the more or less standard variety of most of American voluntary research and information agencies. It is national. Its officers are in New York and in Washington.
Through its sister corporation called the American Foundation for Overseas Blind we are able to give some of our services through that organization through its regional offices in Manila, the Philippines, Paris, and Santiago, Chile.
The foundation was incorporated in 1921, at that time a Delaware corporation. It was recently reincorporated in New York State. It has a board of trustees and a paid staff. It has membership in the sense of nonprofit corporate membership, but not in the sense of an association. It has a staff of about 150 people totally, that including clerical and janitoral as well as professional and administrative. They are all paid.
The American Foundation for the Blind back in the twenties came to the notice of Miss Helen Keller, whom we all know to be quite well know. Miss Keller became identified with the American foundation about 1924. She is not a trustee. In the strictest sense she is an employee.
This is the only agency for the blind in the United States that Miss Keller is administratively associated with. She is associated in honorary and other capacities with several others of course.
I mentioned a while ago the principal purpose of the American foundation and, Mr. Chairman, if I may interrupt myself just a moment, we came rather heavily weighted down with stacks and stacks of things here, sir.
With your permission I would like from time to time in my testimony to submit to the members of the committee as exhibits certain published material. I do not ask, sir, that they be made a part of the record because every one that I will circulate is a readily available document to any individual or group who wishes to have it.
If the committee would like to have it for its files, I would be very happy to have you keep it.
Mr. ELLIOTT. Without objection the committee will receive as exhibits such materials as Mr. Barnett may care to hand to us, and those materials will be made a part of the committee's files.
You may proceed, Mr. Barnett.
Mr. BARNETT. Thank you, sir. Two of those that have already been circulated to you I will now call your attention to without discussing the foundation too much more in detail. One is a little program fleet there called Facts About the Foundation and the other is the latest annual report that we have published, which is the report of the fiscal year which closed June 30, 1958.
Then to resume where I was, you will see from that that the activities of the foundation as an agency are rather extensive, quite complex, and I would not wish to take your time to tell you all about it. In general our basic purpose was, and the reason we came into existence in 1921, we were to make an attempt to fill the gap
that existed then, and still does to a great extent, in research and knowledge, dispensing information, both to agencies and individuals, that need it.
We still have that basic purpose and we are still trying to do our best in meeting our purpose. I should mention also, to make it quite clear, that we are unlike most other national health and welfare agencies in that we do not own or operate any local chapters. We do have certain vested interests. As a result of our activities we have collected around the central core of our purpose certain other activities, such as manufacturing:
We are one of the two suppliers, nonprofit suppliers, in the United States of talking book records for the U.S. Library of Congress program. I am conscious here, sir, of what time it is getting to be.
We are perhaps the principal importer or other procurer of watches that can be read by touch. We do not give them away. We sell them to agencies or individuals at cost. The watch I am wearing, for example, is a $17 watch. It is a gold, 17-jewel watch and would cost $17.50 to the purchaser,
This particular model is imported from Switzerland. The cane that I am carrying is another example. Mr. Rumsey, you might just show one of the catalogs of special agency appliances, which I think has about a hundred different items in it, sir.
Mr. ELLIOTT. Do you sell these aids, Mr. Barnett, to individuals or only to organizations?
Mr. BARNETT. To individuals or organizations. Mr. ELLIOTT. In other words, anyone who desires may order one of these aids that are listed in the catalogue?
Mr. BARNETT. That is right.
Mr. BARNETT. There is some listing in the catalogs of things that are directly typed. I believe there is a reference, for example, to other places where you can get such things as braille slate and so on that would not be sent by us. If someone writes to us we put them in touch if we do not have it ourselves.
We have three divisions to our agency other than office management, and accounting, and so forth. Those three service divisions, each headed by its own director responsible to me, pretty largely cover this broad purpose. We do maintain a staff of specialists in various profession areas, such as education, rehabilitation, and so on, and in our division of community services, which is available to any community that wants it, we attempt to give advice on community organization with a staff which is pretty generally across the board based on social work.
We have a technological division that at one time, in cooperation with others, some private industry, for example, developed the first talking book record principle. We have developed a few other gadgets such as a little machine called the teletouch with which a person who is deaf and blind, and that is another special group with severe problems, can be talked to by a person who does not know braille.
It looks like a little typewriter and as the person pushes the alphabetical keys, the print keys, on one side, on the other side a braille symbol raises under the finger of the deaf-blind person.
Unless you have questions I will try not to detail any more about the foundation because as you see from my prepared testimony, I think there are about 19 pages of it. It begins immediately on the subject before this committee of the two categories of bills which you are directing your attention to this week.
Mr. DANIELS. Mr. Chairman.
Mr. DANIELS. I would like to ask Mr. Barnett if the American foundation has studied the various bills before us?
Mr. BARNETT. Yes.
Mr. DANIELS. Which of the bills do they recommend to this committee for favorable consideration ?
Mr. BARNETT. You will find that on about the fourth page of my testimony under the two captions. One says reason for opposition. One says reason why we favor a study. That is on page 4. In general, sir, I would consider it, and the organization permits me to say, unfortunate if any bill which embodies the principle in H.R. 14 should be passed into law, and I have several reasons.
We are, however, very much for a study and have been advocating one since 1951. Our comments about how best to study the particular study bills you will find on pages 16, 17, and 18, we tend to favor the language of H.R. 5243_introduced by the Honorable John E. Fogarty. If you wish me to I will go into our reasons.
Mr. ĎANIELS. The American Foundation for the Blind, as you say, was incorporated in the State of Delaware in 1921 ?
Mr. BARNETT. Yes.
Mr. DANIELS. You stated that you had a board of trustees, a group of officers, as well as a staff of 150 persons and all of the members of the staff are paid?
Mr. BARNETT. That is right.
Mr. BARNETT. Oh, no. The members of the board of trustees are not paid.
Mr. DANIELS. Just the working staff ?
Mr. BARNETT. The executive director, myself, and all the working staff.
Mr. DANIELS. What is the source of the funds by means of which you pay this staff?
Mr. BARNETT. Unfortunately the public relations department did not number the pages in that annual report, but I think about the third or fourth page from the back you will find our financial statement. However, to answer your question more directly, our operations last year were just under $2 million, the total in and out level for 1 year's time.
You will see there that a little over $1 million came from the general public. There are about 140,000 of our members who receive aid directly from our Helen Keller fund and other vested funds and the balance is our own incoming activities, our sales devices, our sales of publications, and we had some income from research grants from other foundations.
I am not sure whether in that year we had any Government contractural income. The Library of Congress reference on that page is not a contract for research or development. That was the purchase of talking book records. If you leave out our legacy income, which is never predictable, but over the past few years has been rather substantial, we are usually about 33 to 45 percent self-supporting as result of our own activities. The rest comes from the public, sir.
Mr. DANIELS. That is set forth in this brochure, AFB 36th Annual Report!
Mr. BARNETT. That is right.
Mr. ELLIOTT. Yes, you may proceed, Mr. Barnett. In view of our time factor, since we are likely to have a rollcall in the House fairly shortly, and in view of the fact that we have your 18-page statement here, I wonder if you would mind summarizing, with the understanding that the full statement will be made a part of the record immediately following your summary.
Mr. BARNETT. All right. The meat of my testimony then, Mr. Chairman, will be found beginning on about page 4 where I have a caption which says, “Twelve Problem Areas." I was going to present that to you, but, as you say, it is in the record and about twothirds of those have footnotes referring you to the pamphlets, monographs, or reports which have been circulated.
The reason I had hoped to discuss, and very, very briefly, all too briefly, each of these 12 problem areas was to show you, hopefully, that there is a very significant problem of blindness in the United States and it is very complex. It is made up of so many different problems that it is very difficult in any one sitting to comprehend the whole story of it.
Mr. ELLIOTT. Mr. Barnett, I hope you didn't misunderstand me. I said you could proceed in any manner that you care to. It is purely a suggestion about the summarizing and if you want to present your entire written statement you may do so. If you want to discuss it in the 12 categories into which you divided it you may do SO. I just don't want to be misunderstood about that. Anything I said otherwise was purely a suggestion.
You may proceed.
Mr. BARNETT. I quite understand and I am also conscious of the fact that there are many other witnesses here who have come from out of town that want to be heard too, so I will move along as rapidly as possible.
The 12 areas then I would hardly do good to just list. I will skip the first, which was the statistical picture. During the week you