The Blindness Revolution

Jernigan in His Own Words

Edited by:
James H. Omvig, Institute on Blindness - Louisiana Tech University

A volume in the series: Critical Concerns in Blindness. Editor(s): Edward C. Bell, Louisiana Tech University.

Published 2006

This book recounts the dramatic story of the transformation of the Iowa Commission for the Blind from a verifiably ineffective service agency to perhaps the most outstanding and effective adult service program in the nation in the span of 10 short years. What happened in Iowa was revolutionary, and the character of work with the blind in America and around the world was altered forever—the alternative civil rights–based service model worked. Using Kenneth Jernigan's own writings of Board meeting minutes, reports, and letters, I present the details of the remarkable story from an activist's point of view.

This book will certainly be of interest to those who work in the field of blindness, particularly those who work in agencies serving the blind, but this book is more than just a study in public administration. Omvig's research fills in significant gaps in the history of the blind movement and offers the reader a front-row seat to a pivotal moment in blind history.

— Brian Miller, University of Iowa

Preface. About the Author. Acknowledgments. Foreword. Introduction. The Problem and the Solution. Jernigan: The Man, The Revolutionist. Courtesy and Good Manners: from Humble Beginnings. “Vision,” Timing, and Risk-Taking. Knowledge of and Commitment to an Agency “Defined Philosophy.” The Vision Remains, But Plans Change: Flexibility, Ingenuity, and Perserverance. An Apparent Death Knell for the New Program: Optimism, Determination, and Resolve. Resilience, Ability to Strategize, and Prescience: Dreams and Drudgery. Compassion, Knowledge of the Political Process, and Communication Skills. Determination, Conviction, and the Empowerment Motive: Washing Dishes and Other Such Tidbits. Compromise, Personal Involvement, and Meeting Challenges: More Erbe Antics. An Inevitable Conflict: Civil Rights versus Institutionalized Ignorance. Trustworthiness and the Calm After the Storm. Recognition, Discrimination, Foreign Visitors, and, Oh Yes, Iverson Departs. More Growth and More Optimism: The Vending Program, State Civil Service, Governmental Reorganization, Job Offers for Jernigan, and the Revolution Expands Beyond Iowa’s Borders. The Visioning Extends to Federal Food Service Opportunities, State Civil Service, Governmental Reorganization, and Blatant Discrimination. A Hero in History: The Revolution is Validated. Epilogue.