Born in 1934, Betty Niceley was largely raised by her grandparents, who managed a series of country stores in Kentucky. She remembers three of these, each one larger than the one before. The family lived beside the stores, doing whatever needed to be done. It was all part of the family lifestyle--stocking shelves, filling orders, cashiering--and it was good experience for a blind child who might have had trouble finding work elsewhere.
At the age of nine, Betty Niceley left home to attend the Kentucky School for the Blind in Louisville. There she believes she got a reasonably good education. However, she transferred back home to Bell County High School, where she graduated. Her senior class chose her queen and the person most likely to succeed.
Niceley attended Georgetown College in central Kentucky where she received a Bachelor's degree in English and a secondary teaching certificate. It was at this time that she met her husband Charles. The Niceleys now have a daughter and two grandsons.
Her first real job after graduating from college was with the American Printing House for the Blind in Louisville. She did public relations and development work as well as filling in wherever Braille expertise, poise or common sense were needed. After thirteen years at the Printing House, she changed jobs and began teaching Braille at the Rehabilitation Center operated by the Kentucky Department for the Blind. When the state's Independent Living Center opened in the fall of 1980, she joined the staff and again found herself doing whatever needed to be done. She teaches people of all ages Braille, techniques of daily living and rudimentary travel skills. She also does virtually all the outreach education for groups who need instruction about blindness and dealing with blind people.
Betty Niceley first joined the Federation in 1968, although she had known about it for a long time without, as she puts it,
"finding the time to get involved."
Then, she joined and it was not long before her commitment and performance were such that she was elected Secretary of the National Federation of the Blind of Kentucky. At about this time she was also President of the Greater Louisville Chapter, a position she held until 1975. Niceley has served as President of the National Federation of the Blind of Kentucky since 1979.
In 1977 the State of Kentucky created a separate Department for the Blind, responsible directly to the Governor. Niceley points to this as one of the N.F.B. of Kentucky's many accomplishments of which she is especially proud.
When my poor vision worsened and I became totally blind in my senior year of college, I had little trouble adjusting. I had learned to read and write Braille as a child and kept up both skills. That is one of the reasons I have been so excited about the National Association to Promote the Use of Braille (N.A.P.U.B.).
Betty Niceley was elected its first president, a position which she still holds. She was elected to the Board of Directors of the National Federation of the Blind in 1985 and re-elected in 1987 and 1989.
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