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with us, not against us. After all, your avowed purpose is to help the blind, not fight us.
Mr. Chairman, because of the good work and invaluable service provided to us by R.F.B., we support adoption of your bill to assist Recording for the Blind, Inc., subject only to an amendment being added. I will be pleased to work with the staff on the specific language for such an amendment, but the intent will be to specify that during the period of federal financial assistance under this act no funds from Recording for the Blind, Inc., may be allocated to the purposes of the payment of dues, purchase of materials, or for meeting the expenses of on-site reviews, or for any other activities or purposes in connection with accreditation by the National Accreditation Council for Agencies Serving the Blind and Visually Handicapped.
This position is consistent with my opening plea that financial resources made available to promote library and recording services for the blind be expended in a cost effective manner. We see no benefit (and in fact we see great harm) to Recording for the Blind, Inc., by its affiliation with NAC. The funds which R.F.B. spends on maintaining its accredited status (including annual dues and periodic on-site reviews) could be spent for recorded books for blind readers.
This position is also consistent with the trend in work with the blind for agencies to withhold financial contributions from the National Accreditation Council until NAC makes certain reforms. The latest group to withhold its financial support from NAC is the National Council of State Agencies for the Blind (the organization consisting of all state directors of rehabilitation and other services for the blind).
Finally, the position of Recording for the Blind, Inc., itself. At its May 1975 Board of Directors meeting. R.F.B. decided to evaluate its continuing relationship with NAC. Both of the witnesses appearing here today on behalf of R.F.B. have indicated to me, in one way or another, their belief that R.F.B. should cease its affiliation with NAC. Particularly, Mr. Krentz has stated to me, both privately and publically, his "commitment" to see to it that Recording for the Blind, Inc., does not continue as a MAC accredited member. Mr. Carothers has made similar representation, suggesting that the real problem which R.F.B. faces is how gracefully to get out of NAC and candidly observing that R.F.B.'s Board of Directors would have made a "different decision" today than it did five years ago when it affiliated with NAC. Under these circumstances, knowing as I do the position of both of the gentlemen from R.F.B., I would think that they would have no hesitancy in supporting our amendment. If such support is, in fact, forthcoming from Recording for the Blind, Inc., we can move forward with a fully cooperative effort to achieve passage of this legislation. Failing such support (which failure we do not anticipate) we would have no alternative but to express our vigorous opposition.
Mr. Chairman, I hope that this makes clear our position, and I know that you and the members of this Subcommittee will make every effort to amend this legislation on the lines that we have suggested. We stand ready, Mr. Chairman, to work with ou and the members toward this end, and hopefully for the eventual passage of the bill to assist Recording for the Blind, Inc.
SOUTHERN CONFERENCE OF LIBRARIANS
We, the members of the Southern Conference of Librarians for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, assembled at the Second Biennial Meeting in Atlanta, Georgia on April 23, 1975, encourage the Division for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, with regional and subregional library, as well as consumer participation, to develop quantitative minimum support standards for regional and subregional libraries. As a start, our assembly recommends adoption of ALA minimum per capita standards for public library service. Funding and staffing standards should be based on the total blind and physically handicapped eligible population.
We do not feel that the existing VAC Standards are relevant to present day library service, which has advanced greatly since VAC Standards were published almost ten years ago.
RECORDING FOR THE BLIND, INC.,
New York, N.Y., May 23, 1975. Dr. KENNETH JERNIGAN, President, National Federation of the Blind, Des Moines, Iowa
DEAR DR. JERNIGAN : As you may perhaps be aware, our Board of Directors took up the question of RFB’s continued membership in the National Accreditation Council during the Board's May 20th meeting. It was our understanding that if our Board determined not to withdraw from the NAC, the NFB would boycott our services and picket our units commencing with the NFB's July convention in Chicago.
We want to make it very clear that under these circumstances, there is no possibility that Recording for the Blind will accede to your demand that we withdraw from NAC.
Recording for the Blind is an organization of dedicated volunteers. We take great pride in our accomplishments in providing blind students with the educational tools so necessary to becoming self sufficient citizens. On many occasions you yourself have indicated that we provide an important service.
During the course of our investigations we have become aware of a number of serious charges leveled at the NAC. Until we have had an opportunity to fully evaluate these charges, we are unable to draw any conclusions on the merits of these charges. However, while we would not want it construed by the public that we either condone or condemn the NAC, these charges are sufficiently distressing that we have decided to remove the NAC seal from future RFB letterheads as soon as is practicably possible.
We intend to carry out a thorough reassessment of our position with the NAC. However, we cannot and will not do so under coercion or duress. When we are assured that an atmosphere conducive to calm reasoned deliberation has been established we will be prepared to proceed with our assessment. Very truly yours,
John W. Castles III,
NATIONAL FEDERATION OF THE BLIND,
Des Moines, Iowa, June 2, 1975. Mr. John W. CASTLES, President, Recording for the Blind, Inc., New York, N.Y.
DEAR MR. CASTLES: Your letter of May 23, 1975, is a strange one-one would almost be tempted to say a petulent one. You do not, you tell me, intend to be coerced by us; nor, I reply, do we intend to be coerced by you. Shall we shake hands on it?
You tell me that it is your "understanding" that we have indicated that we are going to do all sorts of dire things. It would be interesting to know how you arrived at those understandings and upon what foundation they are based.
As I say, your letter is a strange one. The WAC controversy has raged for years. During most of that time the blind, to my certain knowledge, have repeatedly tried to get Recording for the Blind to dissociate itself from NAC, pointing out NAC's unethical and unprofessional behavior and the harm it does to the blind. Mostly Recording for the Blind has seemed to refuse to listen. Under the circumstances it would not be surprising if the nation's blind should ultimately become impatient-especially since they have always had great respect for your organization.
Yet, with all of this background you blithely make the following statements :
During the course of our investigations we have become aware of a number of serious charges leveled at the SAC. Until we have had an opportunity to fully evaluate these charges, we are unable to draw any conclusions on the merits of these charges. However, while we would not want it construed by the public that we either condone or condemn the VAC, these charges are sufficiently distressing that we have decided to remove the NAC seal from future RFB letterheads as soon as is practicably possible.
Mr. Castles, one, would think you had just now become aware of NAC for the first time that you had only yesterday heard the charges and seen the evidence. The blind of the nation will undoubtedly applaud your decision to remove the NAC symbol from your stationery-unless that is, you decide it is not "practicably possible" month after month. You seem to be threatening us by saying that you will carry out your "reassessment” only when you are assured that an atmosphere “conducive to calm reasoned deliberation has been established.” It you are saying that the blind have no right to urge you to cease your association with NAC and that (regardless of the right or wrong of the matter) you will not cease that association unless the blind promise to be "good," you have failed to understand the temper of the blind or the climate of the times.
Yes, we think Recording for the Blind has done good and constructive work. However, we think you behaved irresponsibly in seeking accreditation from NAC, and we think there is no disgrace in admitting it. In fact, quite the con. trary. If you wait a little longer, your deliberations and investigations will be unnecessary, for NAC will be dead-and the blind of the nation will doubtless remember accordingly. Until such time as NAC's death occurs, the atmosphere is not likely to be "conducive to calm reasoned deliberation."
In view of the tone of your letter I am not sure why you wrote it at all. The blind of the nation wish Recording for the Blind well and think highly of its work, but we also wish it to get out of NAC since NAC does damage to the lives of the blind. Surely this is not an unreasonable attitude, or one that is difficult to understand. You have the data and the evidence, and we know that you have it. Further, you know that we know that you have it. Therefore, we await your decision and hope that you will work with us, not against us. After all, your avowed purpose is to help the blind, not fight us. Very truly yours,
President. Mr. LEIMAN. Thank you, all three of you—Mr. Krents, Mr. Carothers, and Mr. Gashel. Your testimony was certainly interesting, and it brought to my attention questions that I didn't even know existed, and it has certainly been informative.
I don't feel that I should get involved with the question of jurisdiction of the different agencies that deal with the problems of blind, but I just want to let you know they will be cognizant of them as this bill works its way through the legislative process, that we will certainly keep in mind all the implications, the comments, and the concerns that you gentlemen showed us today.
As far as the kind of amendment that you are proposing. I really can't comment on that. but I will be happy to take a look at it and see just how we do or do not involve such language in the bill.
If there are no other comments, and the timing is perfect, I am on my way to the quorum call, which I hope is the last week of legislation this year, barring the callback because of the Presidential vetoes.
Thank you for coming.