Everybody's mountain; 10; The Atlanta Program for the Education For the Blind
Everybody's mountain a program in the recorded series written and produced by Robert Louis Shea on with the author as narrator. I was a citizen taxpayer on a mission behind the blackboard curtain of contemporary American education. I traveled throughout the United States for six months. I saw schools universities and educational experiments from Boston to Chicago from San Francisco to Miami. I began my journey in the valleys of generalization abstraction and controversy in education. I ended it on mountain tops of educational leadership and imagination. This broadcast is a report on one of those mountaintops the Atlanta program for the education of the blind. Author alone is an itinerant teacher of blind children in Atlanta Georgia. His work keeps him itinerant to and from forty two of the city's elementary junior and senior high schools tall erect broad shouldered. He was alert and curious about the layout of the new downtown motel as I led him up the exterior staircase.
His touch on my arm was light and confident. His smile and quick repartee told me that he saw instantly what I described. We had just met for the first time author lawand had been born blind. My mother taught me in public school since we did not know that any facilities existed for the education of blind children. This was through the second grade and the age of 8. I entered a state school for the blind where I received an elementary and high school education in the manner in which most blind people have been educated traditionally. What is that traditional land of. Primarily the teaching of scales considered necessary to overcome blindness. Those include Braille reading and writing typing. Some handicraft and a great deal of music loud has his master's degree in elementary education. He is at work on his doctorate in special education at Teachers College. There was an understatement in his words when he recalled that he very much
regretted leaving home at the age of eight for nine months each year at the state residential school for blind children. He finished high school away from home and then he went to the University of South Carolina. After coming from a traditional education for the blind and entering college life what were your experiences. I had had no practice naturally in taking notes nor had I had much practice and association with people who can see. Therefore there were some disadvantages some heartaches. When a person for some reason or other would not show up for a reading appointment are similar situations. Well you talked about studying music. Did you use the music at college. Music is very valuable socially for many blind persons and it is undoubtedly done a great deal for me. However it was my experience that at parties very often I was expected to play the piano to entertain other people whereas Actually I preferred to socialize with the others.
But you always got caught at the keyboard. I somehow became isolated by the very thing which was intended to open social doors for me. People often assume that every blind person is gifted musically Is that true often no more than it would be of. People in general took his job teaching blind children in Atlanta's public schools and one thousand nine hundred forty nine. There were two students at that particular time. Staying all day long with a single teacher in one room and a public school in the John faith school this was sort of like a rural school education wasn't up to that time. All grades had been educated in elementary school by one teacher and one classroom. Yes it was a lonely job. When his two pupils were absent on the same day. Author sat around doing nothing. Ms IRA jour Atlanta's tough minded benevolent superintendent of schools told him to go out and hunt for students. They both knew that half of the city's blind children weren't getting any
formal education at all. The Board of Education had no funds with which to discover them. It seemed to me that there were some things which very much needed correcting which went on before and after school. Not so much during the school hours because for example one student's mother was having to come with him to school and go home in the afternoon with him although the school was only three blocks from his home. There was a great deal then of dependents of the children and adults and other individuals dependent on adults and car responding attitudes which seemed to me to be on hold some a poor posture for one thing. There was one reflection of the poor attitudes inability to go independently to different parts of the building. And that type of thing. What about attitudes of the teachers and the parents. There was more or less the expectation that since Atlanta provided a special teacher for the blind that this person should carry the entire
responsibility and teach the traditional subjects of Braille reading writing and typing and handicraft and music to the blind children are Atlanta. Author recalls one boy who would walk along the holes in school with his head down and his hands groping along the walls. Loud when he was a boy had ridden the bike along country roads. He had taught himself to travel in the city using public transportation. He made the seventh graders work with barbells straighten up stright out go home and come to school alone. He rigged up a basketball net with a bell which rang when the ball dropped through. He began to advocate the integration of blind children in regular classes with the sighted ones. I was very much impressed to pick up this idea from the Cleveland public schools around the beginning of the century and from some other programs in the country which had attempted the ideas half a century old in this nation that a blind child has the right not
only to the same academic training available to the scene child but also to the acquisition of that training and healthy companionship and competition with a child who can see. In Atlanta as elsewhere in the south the drive for integration in the education of the blind moved slowly until the dramatic 1000 percent increase in the birth of blind infants compelled Atlanta parents to demand a survey of community services for all the blind in the city. The American Foundation for the Blind made the survey and one thousand nine hundred fifty four. Superintendent of Schools are a generally higher office at city hall remembers her reaction on first reading the survey. They have a zing take to me was that these children that were premature babies were planted after birth by the excessive oxygen in the incubating and we had not known about this before and we had been told in this report that they would hit the public schools in about two years. It was happening to premature babies that were being born
in various parts of the country. And so we called in the educational consultant with the National Foundation and asked them to help us prepare a program. The expanded public school program for Atlanta's blind children was begun in 1955 in the program's 42 different schools. The city's blind and partially seeing children are now enrolled in regular classes with sighted children. There were adjustments to be made not only among the children but among teachers and administrators in the city schools. I knew very little about a program for the blind. I knew that we have a residential school in Macon Georgia and my idea was that if blind children were educated at all they would have to be sent to a school of that type. The speaker is Miss Margaret Kendrick principal of the Joel Chandler house Elementary School in Atlanta named after the creator of the famous Uncle Remus stories who once lived in the neighborhood. Of course we play Uncle Remus stories we read Uncle Remus stories we go the outer
Ramus library we go up to Uncle Remus to his home and look at all the things he had once a year. Remus Memorial Association puts on our program and every year for a good many years now we put on the story of the tar baby. I have had enough tar baby to last a long time. Miss Kendrick taking your first blind class you would have us was a new experience for you. What misgivings Did you have about it. I had the usual misgivings she would have a bad taking on something far children who were handicapped. And the feeling that maybe you wouldn't be adequate. How do the teachers feel about blind children. At first the teachers felt as I did before we found that they were just children I have to believe the teachers are like I am we just forget that they have a handicap. Linda Westbrook is a blind third grader integrated into a Harris elementary class of 27 sighted children. A teacher is Mrs. Dix now a new words in Spanish
and this week. First word we have is who can tell me what a football is. Tommy is a biology keek you kidding right. Spell football. Linda and b a l l. Right. What can a word come by on a compound word. Can you give us a good Senate sound like imply football. Going to question on it now. Do you know how to play football. All right let's out write those stupid sentences. Question. They can play football. Linda's fingers poked familiarly at the keys of her Braille writer. Her senses took shape on a beige colored sheet of stiff cardboard. The letters forming little nuclear clusters of raised pinheads.
Have you finished. Would you please read what you just can't write. Can you play. Linda used a Braille writer at a low table when it was time for reading. She took her own chair and joined the group semicircle before the teacher. The other children held their regular readers in their laps. Linda was ready with the identical text. At her fingertips. We have a nice new story today. What is your name. Would you please read us. The sun was. The same with. The people on the coast were. He still. Here.
It was. Roy's Coast Guard helicopter is not a sound effect it is a commercial airliner whose perfect timing graciously contributed a realistic background. Linda Westbrook is 8 years old. If it weren't for Atlanta's integrated program her parents would have had to send her to the state residential school of Macon because of the program. Linda is where she and her family wanted to be at home and going to school with her sighted friends. Linda Brown met another little 8 year old is one of those friends. The two Linda sit together a blind child and a scene child. I call the seeing Linda Linda number two. Linda number two why do you sit next to Linda number one. Oh I hear you waking she's nice. Did your teacher ask you to sit next to him. No we asked you both.
Yes my mother was a leader year last year we were both listening to one of your oath remember the leader say she will play with Linda too when the other children on the playground. Oh yes we played together all the time in the morning we sat afternoon we had a recession and we all get to play different things. Linda number one in the West. What did you think when you came to Georgia to hersel about school. Well after all this was an ass who was too far to go at high school and this was such a good school a lot of Koreans in the principal and the teachers in the way they helped me. Why do you have any trouble getting around the school in the world. No I never have any trouble I could help anybody in that if I wanted to I could get somebody lost. What are your hobbies. When I had a source when playing died. All in different kinds now than. When i also my niece or coloring.
Been talking in thing. Do you like your face. I am very particular is geography. I am lucky on beach because I love to study and that in different places. I'm curious about what they doing and then I think seeing different family beautiful letters in my hand telling me when you grew up would you like to visit foreign places yet to be officially missionary thing. We live in America and thieving in any place I think. Why do you want to be a missionary Linda while I like to teach the gospel of Jesus Christ. A job a home and the right to be a citizen. We'll come to the blind in that generation. When each and every blind person is a living advertisement of his ability and capacity to accept the privileges and responsibilities of citizenship. This statement was made by M. Robert Barnett as executive director for the American Foundation for the blind. Then he goes on to say we professionals will have
no problem of interpretation. Because the blind will no longer need us to speak for them. And we like primitive segregation will die away as an instrument which society will include only in its historical records. Linda Westbrook's father is Howard Westbrook. He is an engineer employed by the Georgia Power Company. He and his wife plan to send Linda to college when she grows up. They are certain she will be able to meet the challenge of college life due in large measure to the experiences she is having in the normal competitive and cooperative context of Atlanta's integrated education for the blind. Mr. Westbrook You were recently offered a promotion in your work. Yes I was offered a job as commercial sales engineer mount by neighboring cities. I weighed in with a lady in a city that had a blind child and also taught with soup in the schools and found out there was no program for braille in this city. Well what about this mother that had a blind child. They were able to keep a maid and she put a lot of her
time all of her spare time in teaching the child railing helping her with through the screw. Did you take it to school. Yes. And she took around from class to car. I understand she did yes. What happened with the job I had to turn it down due to. Well we put our daughters education ahead of. Any financial gain that I might be able to undertake a blind child needs competencies over and above those possessed by a sighted companions in the classroom. He must read and write Braille as Linda dunce. He must learn how to use the pocket Braille slate which enables him to take notes easily Braille music is important. The use of an ordinary typewriter tape recorders especially the ability to explore and command his environment in school and in the community. A host of problems psychological mechanical physical. Must be solved with growing independence and confidence. This mastery of special skills is taught with
perceptive understanding counsel and guidance by the resource teachers and by the A10 or in teachers one of whom is off alone. North Fulton is a high school and Johnny Fearon is a blind teenager. And is about to teach him a special skill in the hall on the second floor. Have you ever used a cane Johnny. Well I've had a little experience with it walking from the bus line to the YMCA and going next door but not really enough to matter. I have a very nice new cane here provided by the American Foundation for the Blind in New York. I want you to examine all bent see what you think my SEE IS SO SHORT don't go in your pocket. And we open it up like this. I didn't believe you but it actually will go in the pocket. I just call on it here and it will be. All the way. That's good. Now. How do you think you would like to use one of these. Well I
don't. Really. See that the use of the cane is warranted. I find that I can get just about anywhere that I want to get by guidance with my hand. Well of course you have a great deal to carry around with your Braille machine and sometimes a typewriter and books and things like that. And that's one of the good features about this particular cane that it gets out of the way when you don't need it. And of course you have several more years in high school before you would go on to college and it will be quite awhile before you will be completely dependent on getting around by yourself. But it just may be you know that when you get outside of familiar surroundings downtown or on a college campus which is much larger than the school area here that maybe you might need one. Would you like to see how the veterans and Hines Illinois are taught to use the cane and are then able to go downtown even in Chicago in the loop. Yes there well we have the can open. You put in your right hand
and. I want to touch on the left and then on the right. Now as you step with your left foot you're going to touch on the right to clear the path which your right foot will occupy next. Now we're going to step left when I say left and touch on the right with the cane ready to go. Left. Right. Left. Easy does it. Left. Right lightly. Left. Right. Left. Easy keeping in step. Very well. How's it feel guilty. Pretty good. What are we coming to this debt. How do you know I can tell by the echo and I can tell it there's something above me. But she goes for quite a while as a hollow sound of in front and above you. Now you can touch the step with the cane do it. That's right. Now we turn our. Wrist outward on our right hand so as to have what they call the cross body technique. And now you can go up the steps and you can feel when you get to the top when you say here we go.
Up we go. Yeah. 10 years ago I was teaching Fred Shockley the use of a cane Shockley today as an undergraduate student at Emory University in Atlanta. He remembers with delight the horse show his first basketball through that net with the bell which Lown had had rigged up for him. Fred do you think the training you received in the integrated program helped you to prepare for college life. Yes I do because I got a very sound academic basis in my last year I got the. Personal reliance that came with learning to go from one place to another. Mr. Brown worked with me on such things as posture which has helped me socially since then. So I would think the whole experience quite rewarding. What are your plans for the future. I hope to go into college teaching in the future. I'd like to teach History and
Political Science. What opportunities are there for college teaching for blind people. Well I understand it is a rather new field but there are opportunities that has been broken through the stereotype of the blind beggar tolerated on the city streets by a permissive attitude of public authorities. Maybe headed for obsolescence. What about the next generation often what will happen if integrated education for the blind becomes more pervasive in America's public schools. When today is school children are adults. Particularly in the end. Well the job of selling blind persons to employers be eased if. Those employers have been in school with blind children. There's a great deal for people to learn about blind person's limitations and also about their potentialities. I read Gen. the only woman superintendent of schools in a large city in the United States administers an annual budget of approximately twenty two and a half million dollars. Miss
John how much does it cost the city of Atlanta to educate the blind annually. Well it's costing us at the breast about $60000 this is bought and teachers and a director of the program. I understand we get the cost is a great deal more than that because we get a great deal of volunteer help for typing in preparing Braille books and doing various other things transportation and so forth. So the program cost a great deal more than it's costing the Board of Education which is only 60 down. All Rilya Davis is the head of the department for exceptional children in Atlanta public schools. She calls on a number of lay groups which provide volunteer help in the blind program. These include the lions and women's clubs of Atlanta but the entire operation couldn't begin to function without the help of the Jewish temple sisterhoods especially the one in Chattanooga Tennessee. What exactly do they do for you. Well the ladies in Chattanooga spend many hours every day
simply copying text books their sit in Braille writers maybe as long as eight hours a day and copy a textbook into braille that the child would have to use in the classroom or training. But these ladies in Chattanooga took their respondents but. Groups of women all over the country are taught in about a six weeks coalesce in preparation for doing this kind of work. They must learn Braille. They must learn how to prepare a book. Oh I would know sometimes a month what satisfaction. One lady said to me there sincerely that she had rather read than do anything in the world in any way in the world that she could make it possible for a person who could not read to read that she wanted to do what would it cost to publish texts if you had to buy them in the commercial market. Well in first place would be impossible to produce them because there are so many of them in the second place we in Atlanta would certainly never be
able to pay for them. The probable cost would be around $200. And how many volumes. Well around a thousand. Superintendent Joe mentioned $60000 as the figure spent for the education of the blind out of the total annual budget of twenty two and a half million dollars. Miss Gerald do you consider that a fair shake for the blind children of Atlanta. It certainly is not because we have about 130 children in the program. The black and the Paschal is seen and 3 percent would be twice that number if we were serving all of them. What would you need more money for. But we need more money for teachers and we need more money for training teachers our greatest difficulty is that we do not have trained teachers. And then as we train teachers and serve more children with their money for equipment what do you think the significance of your program is for the country as a whole. Well if these children are here in Atlanta they are all over the country and the whole country is going to have to train for these children and for the poshest seeing children handicapped
children have not gotten a break particularly in the south we haven't been set up to train these children but they have a right to training. More so than the average Joe the average child is going to get it anyway and everybody is teaching to the average child and now they're beginning to teach to the severely a child but they're handicapped. Now it costs a great deal more money to educate a hand. Gerald why is the country so late generally in the field of special education. But because it costs money special education costs a lot more money than just regulate education for the average child and I have four budgets and money's been short particularly in southern cities and we just haven't had the money to train teachers and to train children in the special fields we're waking up in we are realizing that these little children have just as much a right to education as the average child of the child it's not handicapped and we're beginning to do a better job. We had a public hearing recently on
curriculum. And in discussing the curriculum a man arose and begged the Board of Education for a teacher for his damn child and they immediately said Dan let's give him a teacher for the deaf child. And it was our first teacher for a deaf child in Atlanta. In other words the people don't know about this language. They do not know about they do not understand a great many of them know about it but education costs in twenty two and a half million dollars is not enough for the education of the children of Atlanta and educational costs are growing day by day. And that's the trouble there's just not enough money to do the job at the present time. A lot of critics of the public school system say that money is in the hands of a lot of money is being wasted on frills in our educational system what about that. Well you would have to define a Frio and sometimes they define a frill as a Physical Education and sometimes they define it as athletics. And sometimes it's even been defined as foreign language in elementary schools. And now
since. But make the definition of a free will is changing considerably. What is the definition now I wonder mass ale. What do you think the community's attitude to the blind should be. The community's attitude should be to train these children and to give them an education just the same as other children. Parents are bland children. Parents of their lame children cannot up forward to send their children to special schools that cost a great deal of money. They have a right to public schools. Can you yourself if you had a branch I'll pay for an education that would come from some of these special schools throughout the country. Could the appeal by empathy. There but for the grace of God goes my child is not the ultimate appeal in the education of the blind. Neither is sympathy bordering on pity. Yes the blind are a paradox. Their interpreters represent to us that they need special treatment. Yet they proceed to treat them without unusual attitudes.
Blind Children Learning with their sighted friends are more like their sighted friends than different from them. Blindness however does intensify the needs. It makes it more difficult to discover their potentialities. 50 percent of the nation's blind children remain to be educated in integrated public school programs. Atlanta is but one lighthouse showing the way. Let us strive to finish the job in all our communities. Not alone for the love of on Neva. Not even exclusively for the enrichment of our children's lives. Let us do it for the widening vision that awaits each of us as an individual. So long as we fail to liberate to their fullest the capacities of the unseeing. It is we who are blind. In the light of the courage and inspiration to be gained in that liberation. It is we who will see more clearly. The education of the blind child is your mountain your children's Mountain your neighbor's
- Everybody's mountain
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- National Association of Educational Broadcasters
- National Educational Television and Radio Center
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- A series on educational leadership and imagination in the United States today.
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Narrator: Shayon, Robert Lewis
Producer: Shayon, Robert Lewis
Producing Organization: National Association of Educational Broadcasters
Producing Organization: National Educational Television and Radio Center
Writer: Shayon, Robert Lewis
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University of Maryland
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- MLA: “Everybody's mountain; 10; The Atlanta Program for the Education For the Blind.” 1959-01-19. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. April 12, 2021. <http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-j678xk7n>.
- APA: Everybody's mountain; 10; The Atlanta Program for the Education For the Blind. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-j678xk7n