Webmaster's Note: In case you were wondering about the effectiveness of the Freberg/Seeing Eye spots, here is a follow-up article from the American Council of the Blind:


by Sharon Lovering

During the July 6 opening ceremonies of the 36th annual national convention in Houston, Texas, the American Council of the Blind named the recipients of awards.

Carol McCarl, chair of the board of publications, thanked Kim Charlson, Jay Doudna, Tom Mitchell, and Mitch Pomerantz for their work this year. She reminded her listeners that the Ned E. Freeman Excellence in Writing Award "enables you to be a participant if your article was put in and published between April [1996] and March [1997]." This year's winner was Deborah Grubb; Ken Stewart, author of "Runners High," was the runner-up.

"Thank you so much for this honor," Grubb said. "A writer is rarely at a loss for words, and I am. My little article started out as an e-mail message on the guide dog users list, and Kim Charlson, who is one of the kindest and most loving and most helpful people, called me up and said, 'You have to write this as an article for the Forum.' And so my little effort has won me this award. And from the heart, I say thank you."

The winner of the Vernon Henley Memorial Award was The Seeing Eye, for its public service announcements regarding restaurant and taxicab access. Accepting on behalf of The Seeing Eye was David Loux, the school's director of field services. "Thank you very much on behalf of The Seeing Eye, its board of trustees, its staff and its graduates, and really on behalf of all dog guide users, and I believe on behalf of all blind people," Loux said. "Because some of you are, and because some of you work with those who suffer creative genius, you can well imagine it was quite interesting working with someone like Stan Freberg: behind the scenes you don't see much different than what you see out front, what many of us have come to know as the Stan Freberg personality. But really, this award needs to be shared with Stan Freberg and with Betty White as well. It is indeed a pleasure to accept this on behalf of The Seeing Eye and really on behalf of all who take the step to move independently throughout this entire country."

At the banquet on Friday night, the winners of the McDaniel and Distinguished Service awards were honored. "It is so much more fun to give awards than to receive them, because when you have to receive them you're usually crying and you've got your mascara running down your face," said Dawn Christensen, chair of the awards committee. "And when you're giving them, you can just smile and give the award and know that the person you're giving it to is so excited that they're not going to be able to talk and you expect them to talk, and it's just a lot of fun."

The 1997 Distinguished Service Award was presented to Kathy Megivern of Alexandria, Va. Her nomination read: "For nearly 25 years, Kathy has worked and volunteered tirelessly on behalf of bettering the lives of blind people. In 1973 she worked for Durward McDaniel as administrative assistant for ACB. 'Durward and Aileen were like parents to me,' said Kathy, whose own parents had died. Because Kathy didn't have enough money for room and board while attending law school at night, she lived in the McDaniels' house during that time. This probably gave Kathy the understanding of what life is like every day for a blind person.

"Following law school, Kathy remained at ACB and became ACB's staff attorney. Her job included directing ACB's lobbying efforts as well as assisting individual members with legal problems. She wrote on legislative issues for 'The Braille Forum' and traveled to many state conferences.

"Since 1983, Kathy has been executive director of the Association for Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired, an organization with 5,000 members who are professionals in the field of blindness education and rehabilitation. Even though she has all the responsibilities of managing a staff, developing/managing a budget, supporting activities of AER's president and board of directors; planning AER's national conferences; writing for the newsletter; and keeping up with all blindness-related issues on Capitol Hill, one always sees Kathy at meetings of and for blind people, and usually she is working as a volunteer behind a table. We also read articles she has written for 'The Braille Forum' on issues of national importance on blindness issues.

"Long before I moved to the Washington area, I knew of Kathy as a national leader in the field of blindness, and an active advocate for blind people. After moving to the D.C. area, I also learned what a real friend she is on a personal basis. During the year when we were neighbors, Kathy volunteered to drive me to the grocery store and helped me do my shopping. She also drove me to meetings of the Alexandria Commission on Persons with Disabilities where she served as chair for several years. She has always been willing to pick up anyone in the area needing a ride to a meeting or local conference. These acts of thoughtfulness go far beyond her professional life. Despite her own battle with rheumatoid arthritis, Kathy Megivern has made a personal and professional career of improving the world for blind people." (This nomination was submitted by ACB member Billie Jean Keith.)

"Thank you very much," Megivern said. "Thank you, my former neighbor Billie Jean [Keith] over there, who I know wrote the letter. This means a lot to me, obviously. I started out -- I had no idea when I answered that ad in The Washington Post back in 1973 how it was going to change my life, but the influence of a very special gentleman named Durward McDaniel made all the difference in my life, and I thank you very much."

The winner of the Durward K. McDaniel Ambassador Award was Scott Marshall. "He is a tireless advocate both personally and professionally," Christensen said. "He also has been in the business for around 20 years. ... he has worked in virtually every aspect of making the lives of blind and visually impaired people better. He is a rare combination of a creative thinker and an activist on many issues. He always generates fresh ideas, and ... works with other organizations of and for the blind to ensure that whatever the needs of blind and visually impaired people are, there's someone out there fighting for those needs."

"Thank you very much," Marshall said. "I cannot tell you what this award means to me -- I guess I just did. Usually I am not lost for words. I remember coming to Washington in 1981 to take over what is now Julie Carroll's job ... This is the greatest organization of blind people in the world, and I better stop while I'm ahead."

Also at the banquet, the Virginia Association of the Blind received its official charter.

The deadline for nominations for the Bray, Card, McDaniel and Distinguished Service awards is April 15, 1998.