« ForrigeFortsett »
public programs to the private agencies, the degree of recognition given to the right of clients to be consulted in the formulation of policy is still more con spicuous by its rarity. Here the rule would almost seem to be: Clients should be overseen but not heard.
Therefore, the Bailey bill would not invade State sovereignty: It would merely prevent State invasion of the constitutional rights of the people. It would prevent, moreover, the use of Federal funds in the conduct of such invasion. More that that, it would bring to the administration of welfare programs the information, the insights, and the judgments of those who themselves experience blindness. It would thus democratize and improve the administrative process. A bill which has these simple, constitutional and democratic virtues deserves enactment by the Congress of the United States.
Mr. Chairman, you will recall when we passed the last general piece of legislation on rehabilitation that there was some serious discussion in the committee. I remember that I was on the conference committee with the Senate on the final passage of that legislation and that the discussion was that we were perhaps vesting too much regulatory power in the agencies and leaving these people without representation.
You will recall the appearance of our friend, Paul Strachan.
Mr. BAILEY. There is a field of vital interest and there is just a possibility that some improvement is needed on our present procedures in this direction.
At this time, Mr. Chairman, the State chairman of our Association for the Blind of West Virginia, Mr. Cerone, on my left, desires to make a brief statement, and he in turn will introduce his friend, the mayor of Anmoore, W. Va.
Mr. ELLIOTT. Before we go to that, let me say for the purpose of the record that the work of Robert A. Horn, styled “Groups and the Constitution," will be received by the subcommittee and made a part of its files as requested by the gentleman from West Virginia.
Before we go on to the next item, let me say to you, Mr. Bailey, that I certainly have greatly enjoyed your learned, scholarly, and authoritative statement.
Mr. Bailey. May I say to the chairman that most of it was borrowed and little of it was original.
Mr. ELLIOTT. I would like to say further to my friend from West Virginia that he will understand, however, that his citation of V.1.4/P v. Alabama will not carry as much weight with me as it might with some others.
Mr. BAILEY. I was just a little bit afraid of that.
Mr. Bailey. Would you withhold the question until these gentlemen have put in their statements?
Mr. DANIELS. I want to clarify one point.
Mr. Bailey, is your bill the same or similar to the Baring bill known as HI.R. 14?
Mr. Bailey. Yes. IIis was practically the same bill.
Mr. DANIELS. I have a similar bill in, so that there is no quarrel between us.
Mr. ELLIOTT. Mr. Cerone, the president of the West Virginia Federation of the Blind, Wheeling, W. Va., may proceed.
We are happy to have you, Mr. Cerone.
STATEMENTS OF C. CHRIS CERONE, PRESIDENT, AND VICTOR
GONZALEZ, CHAIRMAN, LEGISLATION COMMITTEE, WEST VIRGINIA FEDERATION OF THE BLIND, INC.
Mr. CERONE. Mr. Chairman and members of the subcommittee, for the record I am C. Chris Cerone, serving my third term as president of the West Virginia Federation of the Blind, Inc.
From 1923 to 1933 I was instructor at the West Virginia School for the Blind. I am a piano tuner and at the present time I am conducting a vending stand business in the city-county buildings of Wheeling, W.Va.
Mr. Victor Gonzalez, chairman of our legislative committee, will give you a summary of a prepared statement and the West Virginia Federation of the Blind would like this prepared statement to be incorporated in the record.
Mr. ELLIOTT. We are very happy to have you and will be very happy to receive the statement.
You may proceed, Mayor Gonzalez, in any manner that you see fit.
Mr. GONZALEZ, Mr. Chairman and members of the Subcommittee on Special Education, of the full Committee on Education and Labor, I wish at this time to express the appreciaiton of the blind people of West Virginia and myself to Congressman Bailey and to the committee, in particular, for permitting us to take this time. I shall not take up too much of your time since this is written testimony and therefore you will be able to read it yourselves, but there are a few statments which I would like to make and which I would refer to you in this testimony to give further reasons why I, as a blind person myself, and we the blind of West Virginia, are vitally interested in the Bailey bill, H.R. 1097 and other related measures which have been introduced during the last session and during this session of Congress.
I would like to, first of all, state that I am one of many of the blind persons in West Virginia who have been unable to receive aid from the department of the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation of the State of West Virginia and for that reason have assumed a great deal of interest in the West Virginia Federation of the Blind, Inc.
Having now served approximately 14 months as chairman of the legislative committee of that worthy organization, I have taken also a great deal of interest in the enactment of legislation for their benefit.
I would like to now refer you to the 11th Annual Report of the West Virginia Society of the Blind, Inc., which in my opinion is nothing more than merely a mouthpiece for the State director of vocational rehabilitation, a nonprofit organization which organized to take advantage of the Randolph-Sheppard Act which is operating of various stands for the blind.
I would like to refer you, first of all, to paragraph 3 of this report which reads as follows:
The society requires each blind operator to file weekly reports of their business transactions. Constant attention is given by the supervisor and assistant supervisor in regard to sales, appearance of operators, appearance of stands, relationship with customers, maintenance of equipment, and any problems confronting the operator.
I would like to call your attention to the following sentence, please: Experience has proved that blind persons are best served by business enterprises, when the establishment and operation of such enterprises are subject to the planning, control and supervision of the division.
This gives further proof that some organizations for the blind do not have faith in their clients and even inform the public of their thinking; yet, they are supposed to assist the blind to improve their standard of living.
I would also, Mr. Chairman, like to present to you as exhibit 2, a letter addressed to our president, Mr. Cerone, from the Community Foundation for the Blind at Wheeling, W. Va., which is a nonprofit organization, notifying him of a change in the organization constitution and bylaws making it impossible for a blind person to become president of that organization.
Fortunately for the blind people of West Virginia, Mr. Chairman, our Governor, His Excellency Cecil Underwood, invited a survey team to come to West Virginia and evaluate the present programs and offer recommendations of improving those programs or maybe offer new programs for the blind.
It is interesting to note that the department or State agencies which receive favorable comment from the survey praised the survey and stated it was done in a rather businesslike and satisfactory manner.
The agencies which were criticized for a lack of faith in their clients and a lack of a progressive program criticized the report, stating it was weak and ineffective.
In closing, I would like, Mr. Chairman, to remind this committee that when a blind person must enter into a business of his own in an effort to make a living for himself, and a State director, whose duty it is to assist the blind, is opposed to the blind joining organizations of the blind, whenever a nonprofit organization operating a vending stand program for the blind suddenly begins to train other handicapped groups to operate the stands, when a nonprofit community organization for the blind amends its bylaws to prevent a blind person from becoming its president, the situation is serious and the trend toward overprotection and custodianship becomes crystal-clear. We. who are blind, urge this committee to enact legislation which will permit us to join organizations of the blind without threats of coercion or intimidation in providing for consultation with representatives of our organizations in the formulation, administration and execution of federally supported programs which bear directly upon
In brief, we are asking for nothing more and nothing less than the right to assemble freely and to make our views known and have them considered by those administering programs designed to help us.
Mr. Chairman, briefly, in connection with the second part of the Bailey bill, which would prohibit these employees of the various
agencies from interfering with the organized blind, I would like to merely state that an employee of the director of vocational rehabilitation in the State of West Virginia, attended a meeting of our stand operators uninvited and proceeded to bring with him a tape recording machine and recorded the proceedings of this meeting and returned to the office the following morning and played the tape back so that everybody knew what went on. I feel that that is, if not direct, indirect intimidation upon our people.
Therefore, I would appreciate if this committee, in its infinite wisdom, will vote favorably upon these bills and report them to the committee and that the committee will see fit also to bring them before the membership of the House.
In closing, I would also like to briefly refer, Mr. Chairman and members of this committee, to H.R. 1855, the Matthews bill, which sets up a temporary committee to survey the existing conditions of the blind and to set up a committee. We of the blind invite such investigations and such studies but we also feel that equal representation should be had on any such committee created and established by any congressional law or any congressional resolution.
Therefore, I would like to recommend to this committee for its consideration that that bill may be amended and, if necessary, a new bill introduced making the committee on this three from organizations of the blind, three from the agencies both public and private who are responsible for administrating programs of the blind, three from the general public, and a representative of the U.S. Senate and a representative of the House of Representatives.
We feel then, Mr. Chairman, that we would have equal representation.
As that bill calls for now, these agencies administering these programs can call a meeting of a quorum and our organization not even be there.
I want to again thank you for giving us this opportunity.
Mr. ELLIOTT. Thank you very much, Mayor Gonzalez. We have heard you with interest. I shall look forward to reading in full your written statement which, without objection, will be made a part of the record immediately following any questions that the members of the subcommittee may have of this witness.
I recognize the gentlewoman from Oregon, Mrs. Green.
Mrs. GREEN. I notice on the first page of H.R. 14, Congressman Bailey, and I presume your wording is the same, that “The Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare shall to the fullest extent practicable consult and advise with authorized representatives of organizations of the blind."
Then Mayor Gonzalez, in his statement, refers to several organizations. I judge most of them have joined the West Virginia Federation of the Blind.
Mr. GONZALEZ. The one organization that I referred to, Mrs. Green, there is actually really the West Virginia Federation of the Blind and its affiliated local organizations.
The organization so known as the West Virginia Society for the Blind is merely a nonprofit organization established and created to take advantage of the Sheppard-Randolph Act, which gives the right of having these various stands placed in federally owned buildings and operated by blind people. That was the intent of the law but our
State organization, the West Virginia Society for the Blind, receiving both Federal and State funds has, with the assistance of vocational rehabilitation, trained we know of two people who are not blind bringing them into the program. That was one even after the committee received these bills that were introduced last year.
We feel that that is an encroachment upon our people.
Mrs. GREEN. Is the Community Foundation for the Blind the same as the blind commission?
Mr. GONZALEZ. It is another nonprofit organization working for the blind. It is normal-sighted people or sighted people who use the blind to their own best interests.
Mrs. GREEN. Both are nonprofit? Mr. GONZALEZ. Both are nonprofit. Mrs. GREEN. What about the West Virginia Federation of the Blind? Is that nonprofit?
Mr. GONZALEZ. The West Virginia Federation of the Blind is an organization of the blind people themselves. Our bylaws strictly call that two-thirds of our entire membership shall be blind.
Mrs. GREEN. Is it nonprofit!
In some States that have not incorporated all of their blind organizations, might it be true that there would be a dozen or so organizations for the blind?
Mr. GONZALEZ. Mrs. Green, I would like to call your attention to the fact that there is a difference there.
You have the same misunderstanding that most people do. There is a difference between organizations for the blind and organizations of the blind.
Organizations of the blind are blind people themselves attempting to help themselves to improve their economic, educational, and social conditions.
Mrs. GREEN. I would have the same question. In many States, would you not find many organizations either of the blind or for the blind?
Mr. GONZALEZ. No, ma'am. You may find many organizations for the blind.
Mrs. GREEN. We had the veterans organization, which is an organization of the blind, and others that testified and the Federation of the Blind is not the only organization of blind people.
Mr. GONZALEZ, Mrs. Green, in West Virginia we have but one organization of the blind.
Mrs. GREEN. What I am trying to find out is in many States would there not be several organizations of the blind or for the blind?
Mr. GONZALEZ. Not on a statewide basis; no, ma'am. They would all be primarily affiliated with the State organization.
Mrs. GREEN. I wonder, Mr. Chairman, if we could get the staff of the committee to find out the number of organizations of the blind in various States. It seems to me that this is necessary. If there are many organizations, I do not know how the Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare can always consult and advise with many different organizations.
Would this be in the best interests of the blind or would it lead to chaos and confusion?