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Oral History Interview: Mary Ellen Gabias

Identifier: 05-C2015.3

Scope and Contents

1 audio recording, 1:49:19 in length. An interview log with time stamps has been created, but the recording has not been transcribed. 0:06    Introductory Statements 0:37    Cause of Blindness 1:03    Childhood: Where did you grow up? What was your family like? 2:00    Parents advocate for educating blind students in the public school system 4:00    What was it like to be in the public schools? 7:01    Did you have to come to terms with your blindness? / Limits of your culture. 10:02    Finding the Federation made her angry and increased her expectations of herself. 12:00    Remembers how she used to wish she would be sighted by 21 – so she could be an adult. 12:43    Toledo Society for the Blind – focused on low expectations. 15:15    Did you receive blindness related training from them? … No 16:03    Coming to understand how I dealt with/understood blindness. 17:45    How did you come to find the National Federation of the Blind? Junior achievement; went to college 21:05    I got a copy of the Braille Monitor. 23.20    Her mother signed her up when they got a card in the mail. 25.00    She was appointed to a constitution committee so she could learn. 26.20    She becomes Vice President of her student affiliate; decides to make the chapter larger. 27.45    Created a packet of information for students to be able to effectively engage with the state agencies. Getting more positions as a result. 29.00    The First Leadership Seminar in 1973. 34.00    Revelation that she didn’t have faith in other blind people. 35:27    How did the revelation change how you dealt with other people you met? 38:30    People shouldn’t be judged based on skill level. 43:30    What did you do for your career? 52:00    Sheltered shop 54:00    Left the sheltered shop and went to convention 55:00    Landing the dream job; disillusionment 57:00    Taking on an analyst position; dealing with corrupt politicians 1:04:00    Getting a job from Dr. Jernigan; moving to Baltimore 1:07:14    The 1978 Airline Story; FAA policy 1:17:48    The start of the Canadian Federation of the Blind 1:22:38    A CFB civil war; the new CFB 1:24:40    Main goal of the CFB; Canadian politics 1:27:45    Working on guide dog legislation in British Columbia 1:29:42    National Library for the Blind 1:33:35    Public transit: next stop announcement 1:35:23    Not large in numbers but doable; logistics 1:38:50    Federal legislation isn’t the issue in Canada like the US 1:41:02    The Canadian character. 1:43:14    What battles are you looking forward to waging? What keeps you invigorated? 1:45:37    Reflection: What if? / Gratitude / We will make change!


  • Created: 2015
  • Other: Majority of material found in 2015
  • Other: Date acquired: 09/18/2015


Conditions Governing Access

Access to these papers is governed by the rules and regulations of the Jacobus tenBroek Library. Consult the Archives staff for further information.

Conditions Governing Use

The Jacobus tenBroek Library holds copyright on some, but not all, of the material in our collections. Requests for permission to publish material from this collection should be directed to the Archives staff. Researchers who obtain permission to publish from the Jacobus tenBroek Library are also responsible for identifying and contacting the persons or organizations who hold copyright.

Biographical or Historical Information

[url=]The Federation in Your Journey: The Courage to Try[/url], Braille Monitor, November 2012

Note written by Mary Ellen Gabias


1.00 items

1 digital audio recording, 103MB other_unmapped

Language of Materials



Oral history interview with Mary Ellen Gabias collected by Anna Kresmer on September 18, 2015, in the Recording Studio at the National Federation of the Blind Jernigan Institute.

Source of Acquisition

Anna Kresmer

Method of Acquisition

Collected as part of the NFB Oral History Program.

Other Descriptive Information

Interview Log prepared by Alexander Lester, June 2016

Archon Finding Aid Title
Anna Kresmer
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the Jacobus tenBroek Library, National Federation of the Blind Jernigan Institute Repository

200 East Wells Street
at Jernigan Place
Baltimore MD 21230 US
(410) 659-9314