inform & connect logo. Image of Paul Schroeder.

Season 3 of Inform & Connect continues with Paul Schroeder, Vice President, Government and Community Affairs, American Printing House for the Blind.

In his role, Paul serves as a key advisor on matters pertaining to all government activities at APH, including educating U.S. Congress members by raising awareness of the unique learning needs of people who are blind or visually impaired and the products and services they need.

Paul has more than 30 years of experience and leadership in the field of blindness and visual impairment. He spent over 20 years with AFB, as vice president of programs and policy.

In observance of National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM), Paul and Melody discuss his career path, his passion for politics, and APH’s stewardship of several former AFB programs, among other topics.

Melody Goodspeed: Hey, everybody. Welcome to the American Foundation for the Blind podcast, inform and connect. We're so excited to have you here today. I hope everyone's having an amazing day and we've got a really special guest [inaudible] today and they're all really great, and I'm super excited to delve into this one because we're going to talk about some history. We're going to talk about connections, partnerships, and moving forward. But who I have with me today is the VP of programs and policy at the American Printing House for the Blind, Mr. Paul Schroeder. Paul, how are you doing today?

Paul Schroeder: Hey. I am well. Thanks so much for having me on. This is going to be fun.

Melody Goodspeed: It is totally going to be fun. We've had a lot of fun talking pre gaming, so it's been great.

Paul Schroeder: Well, and I should say, and I confused you by giving you both my titles, because of course we're going to talk about my AFB time, but I am now at the American Printing House, and actually the department is Government and Community Affairs, but one of these days I want to change it because we've got a whole bunch of stuff that doesn't fit that anymore.

Melody Goodspeed: Sorry about that. But hey, we're there. Thanks for correcting me. I so appreciate that. And I'm so sorry I messed up your title.

Paul Schroeder: Not to worry. It's my fault. I put it in your head.

Melody Goodspeed: Let's go ahead and start there. Yes. As you know, we are celebrating our Centennial and you've been, we've been talking about you, but you've been a part of that, too. Let's talk about your journey at AFB, or if you want to start before that. Wherever you want to start there, Paul.

Paul Schroeder: I served 23 years of hard time at AFB. It was actually, it was a lovely journey. I'll just quickly, before I was at AFB, I was with the American Council of the Blind for a couple of years and before that I was in Ohio doing disability work. I fell into disability advocacy as a young adult. It wasn't necessarily where I thought I would be or where I expected to be in my career. I fell into it in Ohio and then it became the blindness field in particular when I went to the American Council of the Blind, and then to AFB in '94.

Kind of fun because Carl Augusto, I knew him a little bit in Ohio where he was at Cincinnati and when I worked there, and then he left to go work for AFB and then I let Ohio to come work for ACB at around the same time and it was funny for me, not for him, because he had a hard time selling his house. In Columbus, we sold ours in a couple of days. I think it probably was we had a good entry level house being poor little lowly people on the chain at that point and Carl had a McMansion or something in Cincinnati that he couldn't unload. Every so often I'd see him and it was like, "Carl, how are you doing on the house sale?" It was probably like nine months. I don't know how long it took. It took him a while, though.

Melody Goodspeed: It's so funny you mention that, because Carl, we were just talking to him last week. You keep going.

Paul Schroeder: My life has circumnavigated Carl or something for almost my entire career. Certainly in my entire career in the blindness field. And as I said, I knew him a little bit before Ohio. It was great fun to join him more closely at AFB and work very closely with him for a good hunk of my time there.

Melody Goodspeed: When you were at AFB, can you tell us a little bit about what, I know policy is a big deal for you. Can you tell me why? What's your passion?

Paul Schroeder: I was a policy nerd. I'm one of those people that I just, I'm interested in politics. I find, and I get tired of political commercials like most people do, but it takes me a little longer because I find them interesting. Even as a kid, I would often tell people that I was a Scoop Jackson supporter in 1976 and most people are like, "Who and why?" I can't really give you a good answer for either one of those. Well, I can tell you who he was, but I can't tell you why necessarily. I've just always followed and been interested in political stuff, in the political world. I went to American University which is here in Washington, DC, which is where I am now or close by, and studied political science and international studies and that was certainly even then, obviously had the interest in politics and the political system and what we could do.

That's been consistent. I was lucky in Ohio to get connected to the governor's office. The governor at that point in the '80s had an office on disability, what is it called? Advocacy or something. Really interesting group of people that I got to know in that time, and that's really what sealed the deal for me in policy. But when I started at AFB, actually it was in Chicago and it was a couple of different things, including some of the early technology engagement and advocacy work that the blindness field was doing around influencing Microsoft and influencing congress as well on some early technology access requirements.

Melody Goodspeed: That is awesome. Did you have, when you were at AFB, being on the hill and doing that advocating and really pushing that accessibility?

Paul Schroeder: I got to do more of that at ACB. I got really lucky at several points in my life, one of which finding the job in Ohio where I moved to, as I put it at the time, I graduated American University. I'm living in Washington. Didn't have a job. Was having trouble getting those entry level jobs. We're talking about the mid '80s now. Most of the entry level jobs are mail sorting and answering letters and handwritten stuff. Either I didn't have a good way to explain to people how I could do that or I really didn't have ... The tools weren't there, obviously, to make that easy. Most of those entry level jobs were not available or I didn't have enough moxie to talk my way into them, I don't know. Whatever it was, I wasn't working.

My then girlfriend, now wife, we had met at American. She had gone back to Ohio and I will tell people that I decided I could I've more cheaply sponging off my wife in Ohio, my girlfriend in Ohio, than I could here in DC, so I moved to Ohio and the rest I got very fortunate. One of the things I like to tell people about jobs is it is so critical to work with whatever network you've got and I had a very minimal network in Ohio. I met one or two people early on and I'm honestly not sure how, but they're the ones that led me to this Governor's Office of Advocacy for People with Disabilities and the guy who ran the office, David T. Williams, who is just a real character, wheelchair user. Powerful advocate, good writer. He was in the hospital, actually, when I went and interviewed. Not with him, but with somebody else in the office. But they said, "You should go meet David. He's in the hospital, you should go meet him there." Seriously?

Melody Goodspeed: That's not a typical interview.

Paul Schroeder: You think I should go to the hospital, "Hi. I don't know you."

Melody Goodspeed: With some flowers and my resume.

Paul Schroeder: I didn't bring flowers. That would've been smart. But I went to meet him and I think it made an impression that either I was stupid enough or I had enough moxie to go do it and he let me get hired there. He approved the hiring. The rest is history.

Melody Goodspeed: That is the best hiring story I'm ever going to hear, I think.

Paul Schroeder: There's my point. Part of it's network and part of it is just taking advantage of situations. Look, I figured he's in the hospital, he can't go anywhere. He's stuck with me. He could ask security to remove me, but other than that ... I was going to talk about technology and policy. Part of life is taking advantage of those lucky opportunities that come your way. Early on at the American Council of the Blind, people started talking to me about telecom. What I knew about telecom was that we had moved from dial to push button phones and I didn't know a whole lot more than that. I knew how to play games with push button phones. I was one of those kids that knew how to, what do they call it? Freak their way into figuring out access codes to make free long distance calls. I think the statutes are up, so you can't prosecute me for it.

I did not know what was coming down the pike, but people started talking with me about all the potential information services that were going to be available. Of course, mobile phones were starting to be around. They were only in cars. They were big and ungainly. There were people who had a sense of what could be loosened up for people with disabilities. A lot of stuff had already happened in the deafness community with phones and TD wise, telecommunications devices. Early '90s, somebody came to me with this and I resisted it for a while and then I finally had the good sense to say, "I think I can ride this. This is an interesting policy area." There was a lot of good stuff happening in congress working to revise and reformulate telephone, telecom policy. We managed to get some early disability language in about requiring access to telecommunications equipment and services in the '96 amendments.

That for me opened up why I was interested in policy, particularly in technology policy, as I'll always hasten to tell people. And anyone in the blindness world who knows me will back me up. Don't ask me screen reader and Braille tech questions, I haven't a clue. But I can tell you about policy questions. When I say I'm a technology person, it's all about policy. I have zero expertise when it comes to the tools of the trade and blindness, or at least minimal expertise.

Melody Goodspeed: The policy is good, because I can't tell you about that and I admire that very much.

Paul Schroeder: Thanks.

Melody Goodspeed: Back talking about so many things about working and jobs, obviously that's something we're still today really having a struggle with getting those internship opportunities for blind and vision impaired or anyone with disabilities, and moving and having that same accessible experience. Have you seen that really change for the better?

Paul Schroeder: In some ways, yes. I marvel at a lot of you young blind people today and all the cool things people are doing. There's just a lot of, and a lot of it is made possible by technology and the improvements in access and technology that have come about from all the great work that companies have done and individuals have done around screen readers and screen access and Braille devices and magnification programs. It has opened up a lot of opportunities for people to pursue things that have nothing to do with technology except they use the technology on their jobs. That's been cool to see.

Where I think we're still struggling in many ways is still those entry level kinds of positions, those first rung positions that get a person started. And oftentimes those positions really have everything to do with can you show up on time, can you do a good day's work, and can you get something done at the end of the day. We still I think have had trouble solving that problem because a lot of those jobs, whether or not we want to be straightforward about it, they certainly are heavily benefited if you have vision. I'm not saying they require vision, but I'm saying they're certainly heavily benefited. It's easier to make your case to do fast food, retail, service industry stuff, if you've got vision. It can be done and I know people who do good stuff, but it's I think still harder.

Those entry level, those first rung positions are tough to get seemingly still. And look, we know there's discrimination. We' know there's a ceiling that it's hard for people to get past who have disabilities. I don't know that we've come up with a good name for it, but I heard somebody talking about the glass cliff the other day, so instead of a ceiling. It was a female and she was talking about the glass cliff for women, that they get to a certain point and you're in danger of sliding off. I think we're still struggling with a lot of those same issues in disability, only more so than any other group.

Melody Goodspeed: I completely agree with you and I think this is a good transition into talking about when we chatted a couple days ago, I was introduced to AFB when I lost my eyesight. I was a teacher and I thought, "My gosh, what am I going to do?" You grapple with all of that. And being able to get on Career Connect just was a really huge light for me to be able to talk to blind teachers and how am I going to do this, and actually knowing that I could have success with my new formed disability. Can we showcase to everybody how strong relationship that AFB and APH have? Can we talk a little bit about Career Connect and what you're doing with that?

Paul Schroeder: We sure can and yes, we do. AFB and APH have worked closely together, I think for as long as AFB's been around and APH has been around a little bit longer. But I think there's been a good relationship going back to the development of the talking book record and the work to get the National Library Service to support talking books. But we'll move up to the present or closer to the present. When I was at AFB, one of the things smart people, because I didn't come up with these ideas, but smart people came up with the idea of let's set up these online sites and information service areas for people seeking employment, for families wanting to make sure they get services for their kids and for older individuals new to vision loss and their caregivers who want to know about independent living and independent living services.

So we set up Career Connect, Family Connect, and Vision Aware respectively, and ran those programs as programs that had a similar kind of focus in a way, but didn't necessarily fully work together. Certainly there was cross corroboration and all that. Fast forward a little bit, I'm looking at the APH position back in late, middle of 2020 when the gentleman who did their governor affairs work was deciding to step down. I'm realizing, oh, APH has this Connect Center which are all these AFB programs. So I think it reflects the fact that both organizations saw value in what these were. AFB was moving in some different directions and I think identified APH as a potential source to pick those up and we have done so at the American Printing House now, and have put them into something called the Connect Center, so we're really trying to more explicitly have those programs work together with each other, reflecting that families have kids and young adults, and those young adults are moving into transition in careers, and people in careers are losing their vision and need to be aware of, hence Vision Aware, independent living and other opportunities.

There's every reason for those programs to connect to each other and be very seamless. That's happening. And then I looked a little further and I see that AFB Press had moved over to the American Printing House, so a lot of the books, and I had the pleasure of working with AFB Press for a little while in my time and was delighted to see that APH have taken up some of that work. And then in my area itself, which includes the museum at APH, I saw that we have the Helen Keller archives on an extended loan form the American Foundation for the Blind where of course Helen Keller worked. I was like, wow, it's old home. Plus there are several former AFB staff who now work at APH, so it really was, it was almost like coming back to the family after going off for a couple years, I don't know, in prison or something. I'm not making light of that. Years away from the folks and then I got invited back in and it was great fun.

The Connect Center, I'm now happy to say, is in my area, which I'm thrilled to be reunited with my old friends, Career Connect family, connect to Vision Aware, and am delighted with the work that AFB did to get those started and now we're trying to keep those moving forward and do some new good work with them.

Melody Goodspeed: Yeah. It is so important and I think just time has just really flown and we're about, but just to add to that is you're right. We're not just siloed. All of us, not just blindness and disabilities, but during COVID, we've all had to manage all of those things. You've got blind parents, which is myself, have sighted children and then you've got to try to juggle those guy. And then my end, trying to figure out their technology to support my son in school. I think they all do cross over. You can't silo. And then keeping up with being very aware or moving into a place where you are losing your sight or your vision ara stage and being, "Oh my goodness, I want to retire and I don't want to self disclose this."

There's so much that goes on and I love how these programs really give that support and give people a place to, for me, a place to just breathe and see that you can juggle all of this.

Paul Schroeder: I think that's right. Just two other things I would say. One is that it is so important to, wherever somebody is in their journey with vision loss, child with parents involved, adults, career, or wanting to live independently, it is so important to have information because you often are on your own, especially if you're in parts of the country that are a little more rural, perhaps. You may not know anyone you can talk to. Or you may not have anyone who really can help you as a peer, which has always been great with these sites is to have that. And I think so peer is part of that, but also helping people to understand that there's a set of services. You're entitled to these services. If you're not getting the services you need, we need to make sure that you know how to advocate or that you have the supports you need to advocate, whether it's for individual education for an IEP or for an employment program and vocation rehabilitation, or for independent living services from an agency.

Those are services that we're paying for as a country and you need to get them and we need more of them, frankly. If people do nothing else after listening to this and looking at both of our organizations, please do what you can to get congress to focus for even a nanosecond on the fact that there's precious little support given to services for the blind. I drive my wife crazy because we'll be talking about a military system or something and it's $35 million for a missile, and that's more than the older blind program gets in the year for the entire country on one missile. I'm not saying we shouldn't spend the money on defense weapons, but I'm saying a little bit of balance would be helpful and it's useful for people though think about the fact that we're spending this paltry $35 million for a program that serves potentially, I don't know, seven, ten million people, it could, across the country. That's not nearly enough support. I could say the same thing about education. We're very fortunate at APH to have an appropriation to support students who are blind.

But if you divide that out across the country and all of the kids who need services, this is not nearly enough to really make classroom education fully supported. All right. I'll take my soap box away. Stop.

Melody Goodspeed: No. I'm glad you did. That was needed. I was actually going to ask if people ... One more question, I know we're going a little over, but just you talked about advocating for yourself and getting to congress members. Where would you direct people to go if they don't know how to reach their senators or congressmen, staff? Where would you-

Paul Schroeder: Oh my gosh, the easiest, best place to start and it's one of my favorite sites is C-O-N-G-R-E-S-S dot gov. Everything you need to know is there, your senators, your representative. Easy to find. Bills. Status of bills. Explanations of things. Committees and understanding. It's a fun site, even if you don't have quite the nerd tendencies that I do. You can still find some fun information there. It is a good starting place for your advocacy efforts. And of course, AFB and APH are also good sites and the consumer organizations, ACD and NFB. There's plenty of good information out there and organizations doing great work where if you want to get connected into something that flames your passion, hopefully one of our organizations is doing it for you.

Melody Goodspeed: Paul, thank you so much. This has been so informative and fun and I'm going to go check out that site myself. Thank you so much. I know that we've got some questions so I'm going to bring in our fantastic John Mackin who is our manager of public relations at AFB and your past, I believe, you guys worked together, yes?

Paul Schroeder: We did. Does he require you call him fantastic? Because that was what I had to do back in the day.

John Mackin: How you doing, Paul?

Paul Schroeder: Good, John. Good to hear your voice.

John Mackin: Paul, before I jump into the questions, I wanted to add a quick footnote to what you were talking about earlier. One of the programs that APH became the steward of in addition to VisionAware, CareerConnect, FamilyConnect, et cetera, a little bit, I considered it a bit of an unsung hero, but it was the directory of services. I still use that to this day. I can't tell you how many emails come in and they're like, "I am in Tennessee. I am in Montana. I am in fill-in-the-blank state. What's around me? What's near me?" I'm going to say the URL for the podcast, I believe it's You can go and you can search by organization. I always go by state, because that's usually what people writing in need the access to information to. I think that also just deserves a little shout out in addition to all the other great programs.

Paul Schroeder: John, thanks for that plug. If you search APH Directory of Blindness, it's easy. It's relatively easy to find it. That is a good point. I had a congressional office in Mississippi call and was asking for really unrelated to what I do at APH, but was asking for information for somebody in the state and that's where I went, is to help find some connections in Mississippi for them. Thanks for that plug, and yeah, we're delighted to keep that going.

Melody Goodspeed: See, we called him fantastic and look what he does.

Paul Schroeder: I know. That's why we call him.

John Mackin: Well, let's get to some questions here. I'm going to start with one because Melody told me in advance that she likes it. But Paul, what do people misunderstand about you the most?

Paul Schroeder: That is a good question. I think what people misunderstand maybe about anyone who is the advocacy world and the policy world is how they fit into it. I would say for me, I am all about, and maybe people don't misunderstand this, but I am all about collaboration and connection. I had somebody call me the other day. We were talking and he said, "I know you're all about Kumbaya in the blindness world." I kind of am. Pollyanna, I had somebody else used to say I was a little bit Pollyanna-ish. I think it's what drives me is wanting to get things solved and some times that means I walk away from an advocacy session feeling like I don't know if we got as much as we could have, but I had to feel good about getting to yes with groups. I think what people misunderstand maybe about a lot of us who are in advocacy is where do we fall on the spectrum. Because there are other people who it's all about the battle. They want to win. They want to win at all costs and that's all that matters to them.

I like winning. I'm competitive. But I also like solutions and I like when we can get to a place of, if need be, a compromise where we can find an answer. I've had a lot of opportunities where that's just been a challenge. Sometimes you come away from that feeling like, "Did I get enough? Did I get enough done?" And there's really no answer to that. It's often the case in the policy political world is you just never know whether more could've been accomplished or whether you would've blown up everything and ended up with nothing at all.

John Mackin: Right. There's that cynical quote. I'm probably going to butcher it, but it's something about true compromise means everyone walks away unhappy.

Paul Schroeder: Yeah, that's about right.

John Mackin: Yeah, as long as we reach a middle ground. I love that answer. Thank you.

Melody Goodspeed: So do I.

John Mackin: Here's another good one. If you could have coffee with any historical figure, who would you choose?

Paul Schroeder: You know who I've been just more and more interested in? I don't know if we'd get along very well, but I really wish I could talk to Louis Braille. I do. Because-

Melody Goodspeed: Why do you think you wouldn't get along?

Paul Schroeder: I don't know. Here's this crazy teenager. I mean, talk about a smart ass, if I can add a little color. Coming up with his own code to be able to communicate with his buddies and stuff, and then having the audacity to say, "Yeah, this is what blind people should, this is what we should all have." I mean, at what, 16 or whenever when he's doing that. I wish I had the chance to, I wish we had more knowledge. I wish we had a different kind of a system where someone like Louis Braille would've been much more chronicled than he was in his life to understand who was this guy, what made him tick, what was his thing, how did he come up with this. How did he have the audacity to do that and what else was on his mind? Because clearly pretty fertile imagination. I love people that do that. I mean, that would be a blast.

There's a lot of political figures that of course I think would be just fun to talk with and to understand what their motivations were. It's funny, the more time I've spent at the American Printing House and digging into early education and the struggles as some of you know, Braille didn't just fall from the sky and get adopted by everybody. It was a battle. So the more I've looked into that, the more fascinated I am by just how much fun it would've been to get to know Louis a little bit. I don't speak French, though, so that probably would've been a challenge.

John Mackin: Because this was a hypothetical, I would also add that we would include a translator for this fictional conversation.

Paul Schroeder: Thank you.

Melody Goodspeed: Yes.

Paul Schroeder: Appreciate that.

John Mackin: There would be no language barrier.

Melody Goodspeed: Now I want to read more about him. That's fascinating.

Paul Schroeder: There's a great biography National Braille Press published several years ago.

Melody Goodspeed: If you think about it, he's like your modern day coder. He was coding.

Paul Schroeder: Yes. Good analogy. And absolutely. He would probably have a ball wit coding. Can you imagine what his head would've done?

Melody Goodspeed: Yes, it'd be epic.

Paul Schroeder: Absolutely.

John Mackin: That was great. Thank you for that. Let's see. Okay. As Melody mentioned earlier, you were the VP of programs and policy at AFB and you talk a little bit about how you were just always interested in government and public policy. Little bit of a curve ball in a sense, but if you were to switch careers and just do something else, what would you do? What would that be?

Paul Schroeder: If I won a lottery and money wasn't really a consideration, I used to tell people that what I would most love in the world is to bring my favorite things together. Now, some of them are no longer relevant, but that would be a place where there's guitars, used CDs, and coffee all available. That would be my shop. That would be Paul's place. I guess used CDs still could be a thing. Certainly guitars and coffee still are. I love music. I'm not a great musician. There's plenty of great musicians in blind world. I'm not one of them, but I do really enjoy playing, listening, tracking. During COVID, a couple of neighbors and I have started playing music together and it's become a thing now. Now I spend probably more time than I should trying to track down songs. What am I going to bring up next time? What kind of new stuff have I got? It's beginning to be a bit of a challenge because we've figured out we've played almost 300 different songs out there. Most of them not particularly well, but hey, they're getting what they pay for.

Something related to music probably is where ... But I will say when I started my world, my career, I had two offers, actually. I had the Governor's Office of Advocacy for People with Disabilities and I also had an offer to work in something called the Vista Program in a food bank. I was really fascinated by food and hunger issues. Still am. I just think that's an area that really needs way more attention than it gets. That could've been my path. I might've ended up working in food and hunger policy, because it was an area of interest and that opportunity was there and I decided to take the disability side.

Melody Goodspeed: That is awesome. I feel like I want to go to your shop with a latte.

Paul Schroeder: You would be welcome to come and hang out. We might convince you to learn to play a guitar if you don't.

Melody Goodspeed: I would love to learn. No, I don't.

John Mackin: I would also show up for some coffee and music, no doubt.

Paul Schroeder: I think this is going to be my retirement project. I'm just going to go ahead and set this up and if it makes enough money that I don't go broke, that's probably good enough.

Melody Goodspeed: Then I want to Braille all the vintage CDs, we'll say that. It'll be awesome.

Paul Schroeder: That's been one of the great things about having, for a time I worked for the company IRA, the technology smartphone access to visual assistant. My wife does not have the patience that others do for shopping for used records. Her thing was we'll go into a store and if you tell me what you're looking for, I will look to see if it's there, but I am not going to browse. I'm like, "Oh my god, if you don't browse, there's no point in doing this." Having IRA was great for a few times that I've gone into used CD stores because I could browse and it was a lot of fun.

Melody Goodspeed: Fun. I love it.

Paul Schroeder: But we stayed married nonetheless. Things can be accomplished.

John Mackin: Browsing used music, I'm thinking more there's a used vinyl store near me that I like to frequent, but browsing used music, old records, old CDs. There is a particular joy there, I agree.

Paul Schroeder: Yeah, the thing you forgot or you discover. You know that. You've been in there and you probably didn't even think you were looking for it and you walked out with it.

John Mackin: It's happened more than once.

Paul Schroeder: I'm sure.

John Mackin: What do you think, Melody? Time for one more?

Melody Goodspeed: I think we could do one more.

John Mackin: Okay. I like this question as a closer. It's something that I think we're going to start asking all of our guests to close out, but I was going to ask you to recommend three books to our audience, but I'm going to say two here because you already did one, which was the National Braille Press bio of Louis Braille. Did I get that right?

Paul Schroeder: Touch of Genius I think is actually the name of the book.

Melody Goodspeed: Oh, I'm getting that for sure.

John Mackin: Give our audience two more book recommendations and then we'll sign off.

Paul Schroeder: Well, it's in the news now, but I will say that very few books I have read recently affected me more than Bad Blood, the Theranos story of the Silicon Valley blood testing. Elizabeth Holmes is on trial now for bilking investors and we'll see what happens, but the book is extraordinary. I read it early on at my time at IRA. In part, it was useful for me to read about venture capital world and just how absolutely nuts it can be, but also to read many of the disturbing stories around people pushing their inventive mind maybe too far and going to the lengths. Very few, I think, went to the lengths of Theranos. That would certainly be one.

And I think the other one, if you're a political person at all, the biographies, there's four of them and hopefully soon a fifth one of Lyndon Johnson by Robert Caro, are just extraordinary. Yes, Lyndon Johnson, whether you like or don't like, interesting character. But what's wonderful about these biographies is just how much history he packs into. It's a real romp through the 20th century and even a little bit earlier, starting with Texas and the challenges of that area, just agriculturally and geographically, and then the challenges of the 20th century politically, the racism, the challenges of northern and southern democrats trying to figure out how to work together. It's a wonderful story. It's a very long read. You're talking already four volumes and as I said, a fifth one that hasn't come out yet on his years of him being actually as president. The volume on the senate for those of us who relish congress, which I think is number three, is just an extraordinary work of historical biography and well worth the time. It will take you some time, but it's worth it. The stories are colorful, the characters, and the events and the policies that are talked about in that time frame.

John Mackin: Robert Caro is a great author. I recognize his name from The Power Broker.

Paul Schroeder: That's right. A book I haven't read, but I understand is very powerful about Robert Moses, right? Very near and dear to you guys in New York.

John Mackin: Yes. I guess with that, I didn't mean to turn around and give you a book recommendation, but if you like Robert Caro, you will devour The Power Broker.

Paul Schroeder: I will try to get to it. I'm going to sneak one more in. That's called Desk 88. It's by Senator Sherrod Brown. Just a lovely little, fairly short book of biographies of senators who sat at Desk 88, the one he happens to hold, started by him noticing that Robert Kennedy's initials were carved into the desk.

Melody Goodspeed: Oh, wow.

Paul Schroeder: Which apparently a lot of senators do. Then he went back and did little biographies of other senators who sat at that desk and it's just a neat, it's kind of a cool device, but it's also a quick read but a very good read about, again, some of the movers and shakers in our 20th century senate.

John Mackin: Fantastic.

Paul Schroeder: There you go, I'm a very political, nerdy person obviously.

John Mackin: Melody, we're going to have to do another episode with Paul-?

Melody Goodspeed: Yes, we are.

John Mackin: Where we talk about nothing but history books.

Melody Goodspeed: Yes. I think it's what we got to do. This has been so colorful. I could keep going. But I thank you guys so, Paul, thank you so much for spending your afternoon with us. This has been so wonderful. I've enjoyed every bit of this.

Paul Schroeder: Well, I will come back any time. You are a delightful host and you get to throw John Mackin into the mix, an added treasure.

John Mackin: Thank you, Paul.

Melody Goodspeed: I think we're pretty fun to hang out with.

Paul Schroeder: Let's do it.

John Mackin: This is also usually where we'll plug our guest's social media channels. I know you said you weren't super active on social media, so I'll just say to check out APH on social media. I know that they are @APHfortheBlind is the Twitter handle and their website is Check them out.

Paul Schroeder: I think there's an @APHMuseum as well on Twitter, which has a lot of good stuff. That's Facebook and Twitter.

Melody Goodspeed: Yes. And also just to add to that you can visit us if you want to learn about what we're doing, our strategic direction, or see us, as Paul brought up, our digital Helen Keller archive just to really frame out that you have that, is beautiful, too. All you have to do is visit We thank you guys so much for hanging out with us today. Paul, John, always a pleasure hanging gout with you and we'll talk to you guys later. Take care and have a wonderful day.

John Mackin: You bet, thank you.

Paul Schroeder: Thanks guys, bye bye.