July 11-14, The Blind History Lady will be available at booth A35 in the exhibit hall at the national convention of the national Federation of the blind at the Rosen shingle Creek resort in Orlando Florida. She will have handouts and electronic copies of many of her articles at the booth. Look for the New Mexico table in the exhibit hall. Or you can find Peggy Chong, the Blind History Lady in the New Mexico delegation. 

In early August, The Blind History lady travel to Minnesota for research and consultation on the history of the blind 

October, the Blind History Lady will be presenting at the Southwest conference on disability in Albuquerque New Mexico. There will also be a booth with additional information regarding the Blind History Lady. 



Teddy Barber, a scientist and community volunteer, will be the next Hall of Fame inductee at White Sands Missile Range. Barber’s nomination package singles out his outstanding work as a physicist with the Atmospheric Sciences Laboratory, his work to assist handicapped employees at White Sands, and his volunteer efforts with the Boy Scouts and his church in Las Cruces. He was a well-rounded individual who made a lasting impact at work and in the community.

What made it more remarkable is that Barber accomplished it with the proverbial “one hand tied behind his back.” Barber was almost blinded at the age of 16 and spent the rest of his life with less than five percent of his vision in one eye and less than three percent in the other. He didn’t drive a car and many simple things we take for granted were out of his reach, but that didn’t stop him.

Barber was born in Redmond, Oregon, on May 14, 1932. After his vision was damaged at 16, the state of Oregon paid the costs for a reader. With that aid, Barber got his life together and graduated from Madras Union High School in 1952.

Barber then enrolled at Oregon State University where he earned a bachelor of science degree in general physics. Half of Barber’s tuition was paid by the Oregon State Commission for the Blind. He had to work a plethora of odd jobs to pay the other 50 percent – everything from warehouseman, dishwasher and lab assistant to farm laborer where he threw hay bales onto trucks. Ironically, Barber was given one concession in college – he was exempt from the physical fitness requirement.

Graduating in 1957, Barber soon accepted a job in June 1958 as a physicist, GS-5, at the missile range’s Atmospheric Sciences Laboratory. At the lab, Barber was responsible for “formulating and performing research studies in atmospheric remote sensing.” His nomination package goes on to state, “Through laboratory and field experiments, as reported in presentations, journal papers and technical reports, he helped advance radiometric and LIDAR (light detection and ranging) techniques to determine the vertical distribution, concentration, and diurnal variability of atmospheric aerosol, and investigated the effects of boundary layer aerosol on propagation of radiation.” He also helped develop and improve a technology to remotely measure the wind.

For the Army, this research had real-world implications in determining atmospheric impacts on artillery and high-energy laser propagation.

In 1979 Barber earned a master of science degree in physical chemistry from New Mexico State University.

With his impressive resume of work developing, Barber was recognized by WSMR as the Outstanding Handicapped Employee for the year 1980. The next year, the Department of Army awarded him the same recognition for the whole Army.

Most of Barber’s work was done with only a few adaptations to his work place. In 1979, that changed when several devices with the latest technology were turned over to Barber. Not only did they assist him in his work but he became a bit of an expert and was able to criticize and offer suggestions on their design. He participated in panel discussions on the devices and completed case studies on equipment to aid those with poor vision.

In 1981, he presented an information paper concerning technical advancements at the national meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He also served on the association’s Handicapped Scientific Advisory Group.

Locally, Barber dedicated time to visually handicapped projects, to the Federation for the Blind and to the New Mexico School for the Visually Handicapped. Twice, in 1982 and 1986, Barber received the President’s Trophy nomination for the state of New Mexico. The nominations were forwarded by the New Mexico governor’s committee on the Concerns of the Handicap and were made “for outstanding performance in surmounting his handicap and facilitating employment of other handicapped individuals.”

In 1985, Barber was named Handicapped Worker of the Year by the Las Cruces Committee on the Concerns of the Handicapped.

As an outdoor enthusiast and a mentor to young men, Barber found an outlet in Las Cruces with Troop 69 of the Boy Scouts of America. He served as an adult leader beginning in 1964 and as scoutmaster from 1967 to 1987. As part of the troop, Barber participated with the boys on numerous camping and hiking trips as well as some huge, multi-day backpacking trips in the Southwest.

During his tenure as scoutmaster, 16 boys earned their Eagle Scout awards. These young men went on to become professionals and leaders in their communities. Of the many awards associated with Boy Scouts he received, Barber’s most personal one might be from the Eagle Scouts of Troop 69 in 1986 designating him the “Eagle Maker.”


Michael Naranjo 

It’s in his DNA. Michael Naranjo grew up surrounded by creativity and beauty. His mother was Rose Naranjo, a famous Santa Clara Pueblo potter who worked in clay. As a young boy growing up in the stunning landscape of Northern New Mexico, in the Pueblo and Taos, Michael hunted, fished, and was immersed in Native American culture. His dream to become a sculptor was almost extinguished when fighting in Viet Nam he lost his sight and the use of his right hand from a nearby grenade explosion.

    Dreams die hard. He has not let his blindness stop him from creating beautifully powerful art. A determined Michael fought his way back to a new and rich way of experiencing life. His journey led him to Rome where a special scaffolding was built so he could touch Michelangelo’s famous works including Pieta and David. In Washington DC he was finally allowed a “touching tour” of the national treasures. “I gave my eyes for this country, and I felt I had a right, as a sculptor, to touch our national treasures.,” he claimed.

    Michaels bronzes of animals, human figures, and Pueblo dancers are in private, public and museum collections in the United States and around the world— from Santa Fe the Bataan Memorial Building and our State Capitol, the Smithsonian Institution, the White House, to the Vatican. He has met Richard Nixon, and President Clinton and had a private audience with Pope John Paul II. Michael was on CBS’s Morning with Charles Kurault and Diane Sawyer. His inspirational life story is depicted in books.

    Always humble and gracious, Michael has been honored for creating beauty in his art and never allowing his “disability” to be a barrier from what resides in his heart and soul. Among Michael’s many honors are The Governor’s Award for sculpture by Governor Jerry Apodaca; The “Outstanding Vietnam Veteran Award by President Carter and Governor Bruce King; the Profiles in Courage Award by NM Vietnam Veteran’s Association; the Distinguished Achievement Award by the American Indian Resources Institute, National Press Club, Washington DC. In 1999, to highlight his inspiration to others, Michael was the first artist to receive the Outstanding Disabled Veteran of the Year award. In 2014 President Obama spoke during the dedication of the American Veterans Disabled for Life Memorial in Washington. In his speech, Obama talked about a quote from Michael which is engraved in the memorial. It says, “When you’re young, you’re invincible. You’re immortal. I thought I’d come back. Perhaps I wouldn’t, there was that thought, too, but I had this feeling that I would come back. Underneath that feeling, there was another, that maybe I wouldn’t be quite the same, but I felt I’d make it back.”

    Known as “the artist who sees with his hands Michael “serves as a powerful example of the human spirit and the infinite possibility of one’s potential.” He generously and unconditionally shares his talent. He is a mentor and inspiration through his lectures, teaching especially to youth. He has donated pieces of his work to schools and organizations. He helped four Pojoaque high school students create a bronze elk, the school’s mascot. He has spearheaded touch art exhibits around the country allowing the visually impaired a tactile experience of the art.

 With his wife Laurie, Michael started the Touched by Art Fund non-profit to raise money to bus children to introduce them to the museums and galleries in Santa Fe.

    The following quotes illustrate Michael’s far reaching influence.

    “An uncommon determination and belief in himself inspired a strength and spirit that has served countless others”

    “Michael emanates joy, peace, and gratitude for life and his humility about the excellence of his art totally overwhelm me.”

    “Michael has become a light in the darkness not only for those with a disability aspiring towards the arts, but to all of humankind, as to why it is so important to follow one’s ideals. He hopes that through his work, he can stand as an example of what can be done, and encourage others to go on.”

(Story by Nancy Dahl)