Joyce Scanlan was born in Fargo, North Dakota, in 1939. She received her elementary and secondary education at the North Dakota School for the Blind. Having a strong love of reading and theater, she went on to earn a B.A. in English and History and a master's degree in English at the University of North Dakota.
For the next five years she taught these subjects, along with social studies and Latin, in high schools in North Dakota and Montana. Then glaucoma took the rest of her vision, and Scanlan lost her self-confidence. She says,
"I quickly fled from the job because I had never known a blind teacher in a public school, and I had had such a struggle those last few weeks in the classroom that I was positive no blind person could ever teach sighted children."
She had trouble finding another job, but as she points out, her own attitudes were as bad as those of her prospective employers. She told a counselor who visited her in the hospital:
"I've never seen a blind person amount to anything yet, so there's no reason to think I can."
In 1970 the National Federation of the Blind convention was in Minneapolis, and Scanlan attended the meeting of the N.F.B. Teachers Division. She says:
"I met many teachers there who were blind. In fact, I met blind people from all over the country who were engaged in a great variety of occupations. I learned what the N.F.B. was all about and realized what blind people working together could do."
At that convention she also met Tom Scanlan, whom she married four years later.
Joyce Scanlan became active in the N.F.B. in Minnesota. In 1971 she organized a statewide student division. In 1972 she was elected vice president of the N.F.B. of Minnesota and president in 1973. That same year she was appointed to a newly created Minnesota Council on Disabilities--the only representative of a consumer organization on the Commission. Until 1988 she served on the advisory council to State Services for the Blind, a body established in large measure because of the work of the N.F.B. of Minnesota.
The most exciting undertaking of the N.F.B. of Minnesota, however, has been the establishment of its own rehabilitation center for the adult blind, with Joyce Scanlan serving as its executive director. B.L.I.N.D., Inc. (Blindness: Learning In New Dimensions) admitted its first class, consisting of two students, in January of 1988. This center is establishing a new standard for rehabilitation services in the Midwest. It is easy to understand why the National Federation of the Blind of Minnesota enjoys both respect and prestige. It is also easy to understand why Joyce Scanlan is regarded as able, tough and determined.
Scanlan was elected to the N.F.B. Board of Directors in 1974 and has continued to serve in that capacity ever since. In 1988 she was elected Secretary of the organization. She says:
" " " " " The Federation has made a great difference in my life. I still try to spend time attending the theater and reading, but I want to give as much time as possible to working in the N.F.B.. I wish I had known about it before 1970. I want to be sure every blind person I ever meet hears all about the Federation. If I have any skill as a teacher, I'll use it to benefit the Federation."
[ General Information
| A Philosophy Of Blindness
| Alternative Techniques ]
[ Civil Rights | Resources | Education | Rehabilitation | Employment ]
[ Products For The Blind | The Blind Who Lead The Blind ]
[ Organizations OF and FOR The Blind | Home Page ]
[ Site Text Map | Our Awards | Support Blind Net ]
Send your questions or comments .
Copyright © 1995, 2010, all rights reserved.
This web site is hosted
at Web Hosting Pad