I spoke about philosophy class being my favorite part of the day at the Commission. That philosophy was put to practice by the things that we did. Often times, we would make trips to other state agencies for the blind; where we would see what was happening for their blind clients. It often times was quite depressing. I put it that way, because there were workshops where blind people were working, that were paying sub-minimum wage. & if they weren't doing that, they were learning such things as working a telephone, pouring water from a pitcher to glass, then back to pitcher, & so on. This would be repeated over & over again. It seemed like, there wasn't the progressive attitude that Dr. Jernigan brought to the blind of Iowa. It was quite a contrast; & it made us appreciate more, the things we were learning in Iowa.
The first week that I was at the Commission, we went to Clear Lake. Believe it or not, I had my first & only experience, trying to water ski. That experience was short-lived. What can be said about that, was that I'm sure that I drank more of Clear Lake, than I did staying upright. There were some in our group that did quite well.
We also had shop class. We learned to use the various saws & other machines. Many of them, (That is to say,) many of the Orientation Students, were able to make some beautiful things for themselves. I never reached that objective. It was all, a part of having confidence in ourselves, & working on the self-esteem.
We attended conventions of the National Federation of the Blind. It's an organization, 50,000 members strong from all the States. The Federation would work hard to get legislation passed that would be for the betterment of the blind. It would also fight off, discrimination cases that would come about. In short, the National Federation of the Blind, was the blind, speaking for ourselves. There were agencies for the blind, that thought they had our best interest at heart. That was not always the case.
Submitted by Gary Gjerstad