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affairs. Consequently if we do something to rehabilitate the unfortunate people who have been handicapped for one reason or another, we make them happy, contented, and useful citizens. It was my pleasant experience following the First World War to do some part-time work for the Federal Board of Vocational Training. The trainees with whom I dealt had various types of handicaps. It was my duty to place them in jobs which they could do or learn to do with their handicap. When I saw the tremendous difference in attitude and outlook in these trainees when they learned to do something useful and thus become thoroughly independent, it was a revelation to me. They forgot about their handicap. They felt that they could hold their own in the competitive world. Their entire attitude, and even their personality, changed. Even though they had varied degrees of handicaps, some as much as loss of a leg, they did not feel that they were handicapped but were standing on their own ability and achievement on an exact par with those who had no physical handicap. This, I believe, would be one of the best results from the enactment of one of the bills which have been introduced to provide for the Federal Commission on Services for the Physically Handicapped. There are other benefits that would be derived as well, but in my humble opinion the result I have mentioned would be one of the most important benefits, not only to the individual, but also to society.
I appreciate the opportunity of making this brief statement.
Mr. KELLEY. We are glad to have a statement by the Honorable John F. Kennedy.
STATEMENT OF HON. JOHN F. KENNEDY, A REPRESENTATIVE IN
CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF MASSACHUSETTS
Mr. KENNEDY. Mr. Chairman, I would like to go on record in favor of H. R. 3188, a bill I have introduced which would establish a Federal Commission on Services for the Physically Handicapped.
It is very apparent from the uncoordinated and overlapping activities of the Federal Government in the field of care and rehabilitation for physically handicapped persons that a great need exists for the establishment of a single coordinating agency.
Estimates of the number of our citizens who are in some way physically handicapped range from 28 to 38 million. There can be no question of the necessity for well-directed action by the Federal Government in dealing with the specialized problems and difficulties of this large segment of our population.
Unless this country is to stand by idly and lose the services of the millions of disabled, it is imperative that our Government develop an effective program for these handicapped persons' rehabilitation which means medical aid for some, training for others, counseling and job placement for others.
H. R. 3188 in establishing a separate Federal Commission on Services for the Physically Handicapped is, I believe the first important step to be taken.
There is no doubt in my mind that by eventually absorbing into such a commission all of the rehabilitation activities of the Federal Gov. ernment—there are now over 40 governmental agencies involved in one way or another with the problem—the entire program of rehabili
tation of the physically handicapped could be administered more efficiently, more economically, and more effectively.
I hope that this committee will act favorably on H. R. 3188.
STATEMENT OF BENJAMIN BERINSTEIN, NEW YORK CITY
Mr. BERINSTEIN. Mr. Chairman and gentlemen of the committee, it is not my purpose to go into a detailed discussion of the items of the bill. That matter has been taken care of by previous speakers and will doubtless be discussed by others who are to follow.
I am interested as a blind person who has had to come up the hard way in a time when neither private agencies nor Government were doing anything of any consequence for handicapped people. As such a blind person who has earned his living in competition with you who see, for a great many years, in a difficult profession—I do not think it is immodest to say that much-I am interested in this matter from the point of view of the handicapped people themselves.
There are two things about this bill that I consider of outstanding importance. In the first place, the bill presents a coordinated program, something which we have not had until now. All we have had is patchwork. We started with private agencies. All work, all socialreform work, started with private agencies, with philanthropists, with people who had a great deal of enthusiasm and very little knowledge, but whose enthusiasm carried them to a certain point where the knowledge began to be acquired as a result of bitter experience.
There came a time very early in the education of the handicapped, for example, when it was seen that private philanthropy could not effectively solve any problem and so we have, for ex mple, the work in the education of the blind, which was commenced in this country in 1831, in New York. Within 6 years thereafter the first State school
6 for the blind was established in Ohio, showing that in education at least it was seen very early that private philanthropy could not solve the problem.
In other fields the matter has come on much more slowly. We have reached a point now, however, where it is beginning to be realized that it is absolutely essential that government, and in this particular situation the Federal Government, shall take a hand to work out, and carry out and coordinate a program which shall deal with all the handicapped, not just with one group, not just with two groups, not on the surface, but a program which will deal with the entire handicapped situation, continuously and effectively.
Now it is perfectly obvious that there are certain factors in dealing with the physically handicapped which will be the same for all physically handicapped groups, and that only by setting up a coordinated program can we put those factors together and then have the separate services which are necessary to handle the special problems of each particular group. The different services for the handicapped provided for in this bill will create that kind of a situation and we shall have, when this bill becomes law, a state of affairs in which there will be a basic source of information which will prepare a program. And then we shall have within that same source, the means for carrying that program into effect.
Now, of course, no Federal program will work effectively without the cooperation of the States, but experience has shown that the only way to get the cooperation of the States is by giving to the States something in return. Now, what do the States want more than anything else from the Federal Government, and that which the States always 'want? And that is so whether we talk about States' rights or whether we talk about anything else; no matter what we talk about, the States have always been ready to accept money from the Federal Government. And the way to get the States to do things is to offer them at least part of the money with which to do them. Experience has also shown that if you only offer part of the money, there are some States that still will not do those things.
Take, for example, in social security, the field of assistance to the blind. The amounts granted in some States are very satisfactory and very high and quite a distance beyond the matching of the Federal Government. In other States the amounts not only do not match what the Federal Government would give, but fall far below that, States where a blind person receives let us say $10 a month, $5 of which comes from the Federal Government and $5 from the State. And that is all that they get.
As one of the previous speakers said, blind assistance essentially is a relief hand-out. I do not think it was intended so to be, but that is what it has become. And what we have to have for the blind and for others is a service which will give them more than a hand-out, which will give them an opportunity to earn for themselves, to become decent, respectable citizens, who will be able to play their part in the community and, believe it or not, to become taxpayers, actually to make contributions, just as those handicapped people who have come up hard way are today making their contribution to the community both through their service and through actual tax payments.
There is another phase of this matter which interests me perhaps even more keenly and that is the relation of the handicapped themselves to the program.
I had occasion to observe over the years that whenever programs have been planned for the handicapped, those programs have assumed that it was not the handicapped who knew the problem, it was someone else who knew it, either the head of a private agency, or the head of some national association, or the head of some Government bureau, or some other person who was not handicapped, or some other group of people who were not handicapped who assumed to know the answers. They were the doctors and, if you please, the handicapped people were just a bunch of poor patients and they took the medicine that the doctor gave them, or else.
This bill proposes what I consider a radical change in that situation, Under this bill the physically handicapped themselves would have something to say about the program to be set up for them. In other words, you have representation of the physically handicapped in your Commission. Three of its members, or one-third of its members, are required to be physically handicapped persons.
Gentlemen of the committee, I do not know whether at first glance you see the real significance of this point. It is, of course, impossible for me to imagine what it is like to be able to see, because I have never seen. I assume it is equally impossible for you to imagine what it is to be blind because, fortunately for you, you have never had that condition to contend with. And so we cannot put ourselves in each
other's place. We know our own difficulties and our own problems and yet it is very significant that we have at last reached a point where Congress is actually considering a bill for the physically handicapped in which the physically handicapped are given a place, and a very important place in dealing with their own problems.
I know several people who are going to appear before this committee and are going to tell you that the physically handicapped do have a place in the program. And I am going to say say some things which I think need to be said at this point and which I am afraid will not be said unless I say them. As a blind person I am going to be just forward enough to make these point-blank statements.
Those physically handicapped who have heretofore had anything to say about programs for the physically handicapped, or who today have the opportunity to say anything about such programs, are physically handicapped people who are now or have been connected with private agencies or with Government bureaus set up to work for the physically handicapped. The independence of the thinking of such persons may well be questioned and their interest in keeping their own particular position or their own particular agency entrenched in the particular matter in which they are interested may also be questioned.
It is my thesis, gentlemen of the committee, that if the physically handicapped people of this country are to have something to say about their program—and the program will fail unless they do havě something to say—if they are to have the say that this bill provides for, then they must be physically handicapped people who have learned the hard way what it means to earn your living as a physically hand
a capped person in competition with people who are not physically handicapped, who have been obligated to come up just as any individual comes up; who have been obliged to make good without the assistance of private organizations, without the assistance of charity and without the assistance of Government; people who are absolutely independent in the sense that you, who are not handicapped, are independent.
Testifying for those people, I plead with you today that they may have the chance to deal with their own problem by telling you, or the Government agency which will have charge of this program when it becomes law, just how the problems which these physically handicapped people have to face today in order to earn a living in competition can be met. That is what they want to do.
All that this bill seeks to do, and all that the handicapped ask, and all that the physically handicapped have a right to ask is something which I like to call equalization, the providing of opportunities which shall come as near as it is possible to come and even that will not be too near—to making the physically handicapped person the equal in opportunity to a person who is not physically handicapped.
Now, I hope that you gentlemen will not permit some other patchwork measures that have been called to my attention, which fall wide of the mark and which obviously are calculated further to entrench existing agencies and existing private groups in this field; that you will not permit that sort of thing to draw your attention from the main point; that you will not permit proposals which will not result in a coordinated program but which will result in patching up programs now existing, to deflect your attention from what is needful for the handicapped.
I have departed somewhat from my prepared statement, but I think the points were sufficiently important to be worth while bringing to your attention.
I will be glad to answer any question, if you gentlemen have any.
Mr. KELLEY. During the war when there was a great scarcity of labor many industries and business concerns engaged the services of the blind and fitted them into positions and trades and trained them for positions where they did a very capable job; is that not true?
Mr. BERINSTEIN. Oh, yes. There were many, many millions of dollars worth of supplies and materials of various kinds made by blind persons in their own shops, and many of the very important industries employed blind people and were glad to get them. What happened? As was indicated earlier, the moment the war was over these blind people were and I was going to say put on the scrap heap, but that is not quite it—thrown back. Their contribution ceased to be appreciated.
What is worse than that, the economic value of these blind workers was just thrown out the window. We always come back to economics. We always come back to dollars and cents. Even there the physically handicapped are very, very worth while, and I think that the saving to the American people in dollars and cents by merely employing these people instead of allowing them to suffer and be idle is a very forceful argument for the passage of this particular legislation.
Mr. IRVING. I have no questions. I have enjoyed the discussion very much, and I thought it was very ably put.
Mr. JACOBS. Mr. Chairman, I only want to comment that long before Mr. Berinstein's statement came up I was aware of the fact that he was a member of the bar because of the clarity of his statement. I say that for the benefit of my brothers on the committee.
Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. Berinstein, would you mind giving a more detailed statement concerning the inadequacy of the present system of taking care of the blind as it has come within your scope?
Mr. BERINSTEIN. I shall be glad to try to do that.
As long as we are going to do it, we might as well start at the beginning
In the field of education the present existing system is adequate. There are schools for the blind all over the country. There are provisions for the higher education of the blind under the so-called Barden-La Follette Act. Those provisions are adequate, except that a difficulty is already arising because of an alleged shortage of funds.
Now I am not sufficiently close to the situation to know how widespread over the country that shortage of funds is. I am beginning to be told by rehabilitation people in my own State they do not have enough money to do all the things they think ought to be done, or to make all the provisions they think ought to be made. I would want
I to give that more study before speaking definitely to see whether perchance too much is being done in one direction and not enough in another direction; whether, for instance, tomorrow blind people are being sent to college at considerable expense and perhaps some others who might succeed in other fields are not getting adequate provision.
You know that, with the blind, as with the public generally, there is a tremendous movement on to go to college, and the colleges are overcrowded and a lot of people are there who should not be there. The