logo shows State of California with an eye in the middle

Winter, 2008, Volume 52, No. 1

Published in Braille, Large Print, Cassette, Diskette, Online, and Email

Jeff Thom, President
7414 Mooncrest Way
Sacramento, CA 95831
916-995-3967 cell

Executive Office:
California Council of the Blind Sacramento, CA 95814
916-441-2100 voice
916-441-2188 fax
toll free 800-221-6359
Email: ccotb@ccbnet.org
Website: www.ccbnet.org
Webmaster: webmaster@ccbnet.org

Los Angeles Area Office:
Mitch Pomerantz
1115 Cordova Street
Pasadena, CA 91106

Dan Kysor, Director of Governmental Affairs
Executive Office
916-812-1542 cell

Please send all address changes to the Executive Office.

Editor: Mike Keithley
191 East El Camino Real #150
Mountain View, CA 94040

Call the CALIFORNIA CONNECTION at 800-221-6359 for an update on legislation and CCB events Monday through Friday after 4 p.m. and all day on weekends. You may listen to either English or Spanish versions.

Members are requested and nonmembers are invited to pay a yearly subscription fee of $10 toward the printing of THE BLIND CALIFORNIAN.

If you or a friend would like to remember the California Council of the Blind in your Will, you can do so by employing the following language:

"I give, devise, and bequeath unto the California Council of the Blind, a nonprofit charitable organization in California, the sum of $____ (or ____) to be used for its worthy purposes on behalf of blind persons."

If your wishes are more complex, you may have your attorney communicate with the Executive office for other suggested forms. Thank you.


In accepting material for THE BLIND CALIFORNIAN, priority will be given to articles concerning the activities and policies of the California Council of the Blind and to the experiences and concerns of blind persons. Recommended length is under three pages or 1800 words. If space constraints make it necessary to divide an article, every effort will be made to discuss the matter with the author before publication.

The deadline to submit material for the spring issue of the BLIND CALIFORNIAN is March 1.

Please send all address changes to the Executive Office.


by Mike Keithley

How many times has your trusty, groovy technology shown its nasty side and became temporarily useless? It's happened to me often enough that I've appreciated the value of cultivating a fallback technology.

For me, braille is that fallback: it's easy to use and all I have to remember is to have a pocket slate and stylus with me. Braille is also the common ground in that just about everyone knows, or should know, how to read it. And in the deaf-blind world, it's an absolute must.

"You're joking," you say. "I don't know braille, and there's so much to do around here that I don't have the time to learn it. And I get by quite easily, thank you very much."

Well, that may be so, but I think you're selling yourself short and missing out on the value of a low-tech system that sometimes runs rings around the gadgets we use, and saves the day and perhaps our bacon. Aside from this, braille is the common medium for blind people, which means that it's a communication method everyone can understand. "What's this here smooth paper? Guess I've got to scan it, but I don't have the time. Now if that paper had braille on it, I'll be off and running."

So why don't more of us know braille? It's because, for some people, dealing with braille is the final acknowledgement that they've entered the visually impaired world and given up the dream of trying to see. I had the same problem in dealing with my declining hearing through the years. It used to be that I could hear well enough that I thought I could manage in a hearing world without working on alternatives. That ended in the early 80's when my left ear became deaf. At that time I understood that it was necessary to abandon the high ground of trying to be normal in the hearing world and face the fact that I wasn't, and never would be, normal.

So I began to learn finger spelling, palm-printing, and tactile sign; and did things like taking off my hearing aids for long periods of time or walking around the neighborhood, deaf. You'd think these actions weren't very productive, but I learned that they are possible within limits, and knowing it can be done is a reassuring fallback, and I don't feel totally crippled.

And there was braille. With my self-imposed moratorium on audio books-- which were becoming hard to hear anyway--I began reading more books and magazines in braille. I also had the good fortune to have Hewlett-Packard's help in getting my first VersaBraille. But I still remember the first time the batteries in that device wouldn't charge--they had notorious memories--and the machine became useless. Out came my slate and stylus and I was off and running until I had a chance to do something about those batteries.

So trusting too much in our modern technology isn't a good idea. Having a workable fallback when it fails is an excellent one. And this is especially true when we're in a group with one ancient BrailleNote, three laptops (each using different operating systems), two Nanopads and a braille embosser that isn't working with anything. Now there's a great use for braille--the common- ground fallback.

And now for an important announcement: The Hamilton Beach talking microwave oven, which has been out of production for some time, is now available at WalMart and other stores for $79. You'd better get yours soon!

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by Jeff Thom

I am going to open this article with a little teaser, as they say in the journalism biz, for my convention report coming later in this issue of the BC. The idea of a report, blandly regurgitating the happenings at our fall convention is, I am quite sure, not universally appealing. I intend to use a somewhat different approach. The emphasis will be less on a digest of convention happenings and more on why attending a CCB convention has something for everyone, and is an opportunity not to be missed. So don't think about skipping over my report, at least until you've given it a good look. Now, back to matters at hand.

By the time you read this, the holiday season will have come and gone and I hope it has been a happy one for all of you. January reminds me of many things: the possibility of skiing; the old grind beginning again; and, of course, all those New Year's resolutions, most of which I don't implement. With respect to the California Council of the Blind, it's a time to reflect upon the year just concluded, and, primarily, to look ahead; for it is the future, not the past, that really matters.

Taking a look at 2007, we have many accomplishments of which we can be proud. For example, a tremendous amount of work, much of it at the local level, led to the ground-breaking agreement with the city of San Francisco for installation of accessible pedestrian signals. Perhaps of greatest importance is the fact that the initial number of signals guaranteed by this agreement is only the beginning, and we have built a foundation that will provide the opportunity for CCB members in San Francisco to make their city a model of accessibility for years to come.

We have worked hard to improve the Business Enterprise Program by beating back attacks, passing AB 959 to free loan funds to help blind vendors, and working to force the Department of Rehabilitation to begin a process that recognizes the need to make necessary changes that ensure that the program continues to provide excellent employment opportunities for blind persons.

Without the use of lawsuits, which can be detrimental to the relationships of the concerned parties and risk legal decisions that do more harm than good, we continue to work on a variety of issues from accessible websites to point- of-sale machines that can be used by those who are blind or visually impaired.

The provision of scholarships to college students, meeting the needs of individuals who are homeless or who have other crises, information and referral services, and advocacy at the local level on a variety of issues, are just a few of the reasons why the California Council of the Blind continues to be the leading organization of blind and visually impaired consumers in the state. However, many challenges lie ahead in 2008 and some of them relate to setbacks we have had in 2007. For example, AB 238, our legislation to require coverage for reader services under the In-Home Supportive Services program, was vetoed by the Governor. We must do a better job of making the administration understand that the reading of documents is very likely the most usable service that the program can provide for our population; and we must ensure, in this era of diminishing state resources, that the Governor will obtain the federal funds that are available to cover these services, thus requiring very little state cost. It will take work from all of us, but CCB has never shrunk from a fight and we certainly won't end this one until we prevail.

Another important challenge will be to turn around our fiscal situation. Like many non-profits, due to changes in laws regarding vehicle donations, our largest source of funding has been drastically reduced. Thus we will, for the third straight year, run a deficit. While our resource base is still quite good, and a large part of that deficit has been due to one-time costs, we must remember that we cannot always expect the stock and bond markets to provide us with the amount of revenue that we have been acquiring over the last few years. Thus, my primary focus during 2008 will be to strengthen our fundraising efforts, both in small and large ways, to build a foundation that more adequately ensures our strong fiscal future. All of you can help in this effort. For some that might mean increased donations or becoming a life member. For others, it might mean helping your chapter hold a fund-raiser for the state organization. For still others, it might mean providing us with ideas or giving us contacts that we might use to further our fund-raising efforts. Again, we have overcome far more difficult challenges in the past; and, working together, we will certainly overcome this one.

However, 2008 presents many old battles that we must continue to fight and some new ones as well. California has often led the way for the rest of the nation, and CCB must strive to see that our state continues that trend in two important areas.

First, we must work to bring about the availability throughout the health care system of talking pill bottles for the blind and visually impaired people who need them. Secondly, California, as it has done in other areas, should begin to find ways to fund landmark research that will solve the safety issues presented to blind persons and others by the so-called quiet cars.

Furthermore, we need to enact legislation that will enable parents of blind and visually impaired children to be provided with the knowledge that, if they believe that the California School for the Blind is the most appropriate placement for their child, they can fight to show that it would be the best placement, even if their school district is not in agreement. And we need to roll back the appalling change made by the state Legislature in 2007 that will cost SSI recipients money every single year, whether the state is suffering through hard times or rolling in excess revenue.

You are just as aware as I that these issues represent only the tip of the iceberg. However, the California Council of the Blind has always been willing to play the role of David against any Goliath, and we will certainly continue to do so. As Theodore Roosevelt, a true American legend if ever there was one, said:

"When the going gets tough, the tough get going."

Well, with all of us working together, we will be tough in 2008 and everybody else had just better watch where we're going.

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by Rob Turner

In preparation for this column, I decided to look up previous articles to get a feel for what was expected. It turns out that the column was absent in 2006 and the winter issue of 2007. Mike Keithley wrote it for the previous three issues and described several excellent chapter projects. Clearly, the success of this column depends on your submissions.

Since this is my first time putting this column together, I thought it would be a good idea to briefly introduce myself and provide contact information. So here goes.

I am Rob Turner. I've been a member of CCB since 1969 with the exception of perhaps two or three years in the mid seventies, when I lived in Sonoma County. Back then, there wasn't a local chapter. After that, I joined the San Francisco chapter and was a member for approximately sixteen years. I served as president for two years and recording secretary for four years. Next, while working in the South Bay in the access technology field, I was an active member of the Silicon Valley chapter. Now here in Southern California, I've been president of the Glendale Burbank Area chapter for two years. As chairman of the Credentials Committee, I know how to contact all of you presidents. From now on there will be no excuse for future Around the State columns to lack content. Unless of course there is nothing going on, and that's highly improbable. So if you don't contact me, I'll just have to contact you.

Undoubtedly you're all eager to know how to reach me. My cell phone number is 818-445-8853, and my e-mail address is rbturner1@sbcglobal.net.

If your chapter has an interesting project or event coming up next spring, be sure to let me know about it. If you or one of your chapter members is involved in a community project or has an idea that would be of interest to our readers, please pass it along. Let's make this a great column with lots of relevant content.

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by Jeff Thom

So why attend a convention of the California Council of the Blind? Why not save your money and keep your valuable time for whatever keeps your life busy enough as it is? For those of you who have never attended a CCB convention, this report will demonstrate how there is really something for everyone. For those of you who have, it will not only give you a synopsis of what went on at this year's fall 2007 convention, held October 25-28 at the Four Points LAX Sheraton in Los Angeles, but also let you know how hard we try to make our conventions what you want them to be. After all, isn't that what the California Council of the Blind is all about?

Thursday morning was highlighted by a seminar initiated by chapter presidents and expanded to include other chapter officers. Attendees received an incredible amount of valuable information, but perhaps none more important than the realization that although each chapter and affiliate is different in various ways, many of the problems faced by chapters and affiliates are common ones. The backbone of this organization is its local chapters and special-interest affiliates. This seminar illustrates the fact that local chapter and special interest leaders assisting each other are the best way to ensure the continued growth of CCB.

For those of you who enjoy having fun, and many of us fall into that category, this convention gave you lots of opportunities. Thanks go to the Association for Multi-cultural Concerns for hosting the Welcome to Los Angeles Party on Thursday afternoon and to the East Los Angeles Chapter for hosting the hospitality room each night of the convention.

The topic of employment is obviously an important one to those of us who are blind or visually impaired. Our Rehabilitation Services committee, chaired by Tricia Leetz, and our Technology committee, chaired by Louis Herrera, work hard to ensure that you have access to information that will give you the best opportunity to become employed and stay that way. At this convention, along with giving some glimpses of some of the available assistive technology, these committees held a workshop on the impediments that technology can sometimes create to becoming employed. For a blind or visually impaired person, it isn't always easy to get it right when it comes to ensuring you have the appropriate technology for a given job.

The convention was busy with respect to employment and other rehabilitation services in other ways as well. We invited the new director of the Department of Rehabilitation, Tony Sauer, to address us at our first General Session on Friday afternoon; but we did far more than just that. We asked Mr. Sauer, and he heartily agreed, to call stakeholder meetings with respect to two department programs that are falling far short of their potential: the Business Enterprises Program for the Blind (BEP) and the residential program established at the Orientation Center for the Blind (OCB). For years, blind vendors have been urging important changes to turn the BEP program around and ensure that it will continue to provide excellent job opportunities for blind individuals, and I am proud of CCB for its work in helping to give vendors this upcoming opportunity. I am equally proud of CCB, its Rehabilitation Services committee, and the current and former clients of OCB, including the OCB Alumni affiliate under the leadership of David Jackson, for their efforts in regard to laying the groundwork for a better future for the center.

Kudos go to Louie Herrera and his committee for another new event at this year's convention: setting up basic and advanced training courses on the Window-Eyes screen-reading technology. Our conventions should be providing what you, the membership, want, and these training sessions clearly did just that.

Are you interested in finding out how CCB is run, and about the important decisions facing the organization? I strongly invite you to attend all or part of a convention Board meeting, held on Thursday evening. You will learn about CCB financial matters, the work of a few of our committees, and important decisions such as where future conventions will be held. There is even time at the end to make public comments, but you can just as easily provide your thoughts to any of us who serve on the Board when you feel we are heading in a wrong direction or that something needs to be done that we haven't considered.

Friday and Saturday mornings are devoted to special interest affiliate and committee meetings. Space doesn't permit a lengthy description of the various workshops held at the Fall 2007 convention; but some topics included: when should bus stops be called out to passengers, the implications of ethnic and cultural diversity on our daily lives, transition programs for blind and visually impaired high school students, updates on activities of the State Guide Dog Board and on what's happening at various guide dog schools, and information on accessible signage research. I'd like to take this opportunity to specifically mention Sean Ryan, the new president of Blind Students of California, who is working hard to re-energize that group so that it can advocate for and inform blind and visually impaired students, about issues of importance to them. If you are a blind or visually impaired student, or know someone who is, call the CCB office at 916-441-2100 and obtain Sean's contact information.

The opening General Session, held on Friday afternoon, was one to remember. I cannot recall a convention being so moved as it was by remarks from Jesse Acosta, a blind Iraq War veteran, and member of the East Los Angeles Chapter. He has refused to let his blindness destroy his life and he intends to give other veterans the best opportunities possible to ensure that they can do likewise.

Are you a Greyhound bus rider? Well, the Friday session also featured a discussion on ADA services provided by Greyhound, and included a number of excellent questions from the audience. Did you know that, as part of the Section 8 program, cities operate low-income home ownership programs? Well, if you attended Friday afternoon's general session you would have learned, from a representative of the City of Los Angeles Housing Authority, about that city's program and that, not surprisingly, it is in dire need of funding.

It's hard to find a kinder, more intelligent, more hardworking man than the late Ahmad Rahman. This former chapter president and member of the CCB Board of Directors was honored several times during our convention: at the luncheon of the Association for Multi-cultural Concerns, the Friday evening General Session when remembrances were made for various CCB members who passed away during 2007, and an extremely moving ceremony at the Banquet in which he was inducted into the CCB Hall of Fame and in which more than a dozen of his family members participated.

Did you know that the United Nations passed a treaty on persons with disabilities and that the United States, unlike dozens of other nations, has, due to the actions of the Bush Administration, refused even to consider its ratification? If you had attended Friday evening's session, you would have heard about this treaty from Cathy Martinez, long-time friend of CCB and executive director of the World Institute on Disability.

Any democratic organization worth its salt must have some hotly contested elections, and our elections this fall definitely filled the bill. Things started mildly enough with Eugene Lozano being elected as 1st Vice President, Rhonda King being elected as 2nd Vice President, and Gabe Griffith moving from his seat on the Board of Directors to become the new CCB Secretary. Then things became rather interesting, even though, somehow, four incumbents, Peter Pardini, Richard Rueda, Ann Kysor, and Jerry Arakawa, were re-elected. First, an election was held to fill the seat of Jane Kardis who is completing her last term after an outstanding eight years of service on the Board. In a crazy 3-way race, Donna Pomerantz was victorious; and then the excitement really began with the contest for the seat vacated by Gabe Griffith. In a 5-way race, Ken Metz was the eventual winner, after two run- offs. Congratulations not only to all who won, but also to the many excellent candidates who did not. I have little doubt that many of them will be leading this organization in the years to come.

The CCB Convention Committee, and its chair Gene Lozano, are to be commended for their hard work on providing an outstanding array of speakers; and Saturday afternoon's list amply demonstrates this. No issue is of greater significance this year in the state Legislature than health care reform; and we were fortunate to have Sam Thomas, from the American Association of Retired Persons, explain to us several of the health care proposals floating around the halls of the Capitol. The CCB is, at its heart, about advocacy, and Saturday's session included a comprehensive state legislative report from our Governmental Affairs Director, Dan Kysor. Those of you who know how hard Dan works will understand why we receive such excellent state legislative reports about all the bills of interest to us.

Saturday's session also contained one of the most fascinating and disturbing presentations in my memory. Mr. Jerry Baik, from the Los Angeles City Attorney's Office, spoke about the epidemic of identity theft in this country and how hard it is to prevent. By the time you read this, the convention, much of which was broadcast live on ACBRADIO, will be up on our website, www.ccbnet.org, and you may also receive convention tapes, free of charge, by contacting the CCB office. You won't want to miss Mr. Baik's remarks.

And now the banquet. With Louie Herrera at the helm this time as Master of Ceremonies, I was in safe hands. I usually enjoy CCB banquets because I don't have to do very much. Louis introduced students for their scholarship awards and handed out plenty of sweepstakes drawings and other prizes (but none for me). With dessert about over, we brought on our keynote speaker, Mitch Pomerantz, President of the American Council of the Blind. Actually, we made him work rather hard at this convention, calling upon him three times. It was an honor to have one Californian follow another as ACB's President, but especially one who had worked so long and hard for this organization and will always know how important we are to the blind and visually impaired of California.

When an organization's mission is to improve the lives of those who are blind or visually impaired, it's no wonder that advocacy is so important to us. Thus, on Sunday morning as part of our Business meeting, we debate resolutions that will set our policies for years to come. From the calling of bus stops, to the California School for the Blind, and a dozen topics in between, we set the pace for future advocacy.

The fun, the cameraderie, the workshops and other speakers, and most of all the people: they are what make our conventions so great. We'll soon be advertising the number for making reservations for the upcoming 2008 spring Convention, to be held April 10-13 at the Arden West Hilton in Sacramento. Try it just once and, if you haven't attended for a while, you just might get hooked.

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by Charles Nabarrete

[This award-winning article is reprinted from the fall, 1997 BC.]

One of my nephews recently asked me if I could perform marriages since he was planning to get married this summer. I told him that, because I am not a "regular" judge, I would have to get special authority to perform the ceremony, but that I would be happy to do so. Other Administrative Law Judges (ALT's) in my office had informed me that, as an ALT, I could be appointed as a Deputy Commissioner of Civil Marriages by the County Registrar's office.

After I was sworn in as a Deputy Commissioner and given a written script of how to perform a civil marriage, I proceeded on a new adventure.

The day before the wedding rehearsal, I started to worry about what I was going to say in addition to the words of the marriage ceremony itself. I had asked my nephew's fiancee if she had a particular poem or passage that she wanted to read, but she said I could choose something appropriate to say. Being rather laconic by nature and training, I thought it would be best to outline ahead of time some felicitous remarks. I began by looking into what the Bible had to say about marriages; but I realized that, since my nephew's fiancee had asked me not to include any promise that she would be subservient to her husband, those verses would not be a wise choice. Since family from both sides were going to be present, I decided that it would be best to speak in grand and laudatory terms about the two young people who were getting married: when in doubt, try to make everyone feel warm and fuzzy!

When I arrived at the chapel for the rehearsal, the owner of the chapel addressed me as "minister." I thought to myself, not in this lifetime. When the wedding party arrived (late), they asked me how the ceremony should proceed. After I explained to them that I would say a few words and then call for the marriage vows, they replied that what they really wanted to know was the order they would use in marching into the chapel and where everyone should stand. Well, since my wedding ceremony in 1973 had been very simple and since I usually slept through marriage ceremonies, I thought this was a classic example of the blind leading the ignorant. However, with the assistance of the chapel owner, we were able to work out a respectable wedding procession with my son Joaquin providing the organ music. We were also able to work out a few signals for me to know what was transpiring. When the bride arrived at the front pew of the church, my nephew would cough, and when the couple was ready to place the wedding rings on each other's left ring finger, the bride would clear her throat.

The ceremony was scheduled for 2:00 p.m. on July 5, and I had to catch a flight out of Ontario airport, which was about 15 miles from the chapel, at 3:55 p.m. to Houston to attend the ACB convention. When the wedding party was late again, I began to get very nervous; but after we finally started at about 2:40, everything went very well. The bride was radiant as she walked into the chapel behind the bridesmaids with the chapel bell ringing and my son playing a rousing rendition of the wedding organ. I remembered all my lines and didn't miss any cues. The bride and groom were bursting with happiness, and the families and friends who were present were proud and sentimental. As I dashed off to catch my plane, the guests were joyfully throwing birdseed on the bride and groom, since using rice is now considered politically incorrect. All in all, it had been a great day.

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From the Ccb-l Mailing List

There is a wonderful food distribution program for anyone who needs it. It distributes restaurant-quality food and doesn't require paperwork to qualify. The program is called Angel Food Ministries, and there are currently distribution sites in Southern California and 33 other states. Foods include quick frozen meats and other frozen items, dairy, fresh vegetables and fruits, plus other shelf items. This program is very helpful to the working poor who do not qualify for food stamps or other food distribution programs, or for those who want to supplement these programs.

Here's how it works: Once a month you go to a site near your home and pay $30 for each unit of food you wish to purchase. You will get $50 or more worth of food for this price, and it will feed an adult for about a month. You are then eligible to purchase bonus specials for $18 plus each additional unit you buy. About two weeks later, your food arrives at the site where you purchased it; and you pick it up there, bringing a large box with you.

The food is distributed by churches, and your local church can become a distribution site by filling out a form on Angel Food's website:
www.angelfoodministries.com. There is also a toll free office line at 888-819- 3745.

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by Jim Fruchterman

I'm happy to share some incredible news which will transform Bookshare. The Office of Special Education, Programs of the U.S. Department of Education, has made a major five-year award of $32 million to Bookshare. This funding is to support all schools (K-12 and post-secondary) and students with qualifying print disabilities in the United States, giving them access to the entire Bookshare collection of accessible electronic books and to software for reading them. As of October 1, 2007 we will cease charging schools and students to join Bookshare as members.

At this time, I can't begin to share with you all of our plans for Bookshare with this funding; but we are planning on adding more than 100,000 new educational books and materials to our existing collection of over 34,000 titles. We are going to reach out to every student, every family with a disabled student and every school in the U.S. to offer them the chance to join the Bookshare community and transform the practice of making books accessible. We are going to coordinate with schools and publishers to deliver the best quality content possible while lowering their costs as we meet our shared obligations to serve every student with a disability in the nation. We expect to provide millions of books to them through this new program over the next five years, and at a tenth or less of the historical cost of providing these services.

We expect that the improvements to serve students will make our service better for all Bookshare users, and that our track record of being highly responsive to our members will be enhanced through this funding.

Our volunteer community is an essential part of what made this grant possible, and you are a crucial part to making Bookshare a success in the future. Your commitment to our shared vision of better access to information is the core of where we are heading. We want to make equal access to educational materials for disabled students a reality!

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by Winifred Downing

More than 150 years have passed since a young man at the school for the blind in Paris introduced braille to students and teachers. Louis Braille developed a system of cells, each composed of six dots, with which all the letters of the alphabet, the Arabic numerals, and music notation could be expressed, and in that single stroke of genius, delivered to blind people the ability to read and write. There are no words adequate to express the importance of this accomplishment, for it made possible the education of blind persons all over the world because that basic structure is still used.

How much, though, the world has changed in that 150 years--the automobile, the airplane, radio, television, space flights, and the computer with its attendant paraphernalia. It isn't remarkable, then, that braille, too, should experience change.

Fifty years ago, blind children were educated in residential schools where braille books were routine and teachers employed terms and explanations tailored to the understanding of blind students. Now, however, the vast majority of blind children are mainstreamed, thus having to accommodate to an environment that is increasingly visual. Textbooks are chosen for their visual appeal with symbols, graphics, print styles, and format arrangements to which the teacher refers that must somehow be made meaningful to blind students.

The braille that blind adults now use is not adequate to the task though efforts have been made to extend its applicability. We have the basic literary braille that all users know, but we also have separate codes to express mathematics, chemistry, and computer language. Since these additional codes were developed independently of each other, there are often varying ways of expressing the same thing, like three different dollar signs, different parentheses, and different placement of numbers. A number of adults are familiar with these codes and have worked around the various inconsistencies; but these individuals learned the different codes over a period of many years as their need required, whereas the blind child must learn at least three of them in the first years of elementary school. It is a daunting task along with all the daily adjustments the student must make with minimal help from an itinerant teacher.

Realizing the significance of the problem, under the auspices of the Braille Authority of North America (BANA), a group of experts from braille publishing organizations and other authorities in the blindness field began working toward the development of a single code, the Unified Braille Code (UBC), to express all the material covered in the individual codes now employed. It also embraced the need to produce a computer program to allow for automatic translation from print to braille and vice versa in order to furnish the many varying textbooks used by students throughout the country.

In the standard braille that we use today, the letters from a to j function as the numbers from 1 to 0, each such symbol differentiated from the letter by preceding it with the numeric indicator. These numbers are made with the upper four dots of the 6-dot braille cell. The mathematics code introduced by Dr. Abraham Nemeth almost 60 years ago specified writing the numbers in the lower four dots of the cell, thus distinguishing them by placement from the first ten letters of the alphabet. Recounting the personal and political influences that persuaded the BANA group to reject the use of lower numbers is beyond the scope of this article; but that approach doomed the new Unified Braille Code from the beginning. The need to indicate constantly when a symbol means a letter and when it signifies a number makes a simple algebra problem a nightmare. Also, since the 6-dot cell can produce only 62 different characters with the blank space as a 63rd, the greatest possible use must be made of each character to express the many different print symbols necessary to cover all the important fields.

The changes in literary braille proposed by the UBC are perhaps only unpleasant, but technological use of the code has been judged impossible. Both the National Federation of the Blind and the American Council of the Blind voted to oppose the adoption of the UBC, and I know of only one person trained in technology who has not completely rejected it. Work on the code has, nevertheless, continued over the last 15 or 16 years; and several English-speaking countries have been influenced to accept it though neither Great Britain nor the United States, the principal braille producers of the world, have done so.

Convinced that BANA's decision concerning the writing of numbers would inevitably lead to the failure of the UBC, Dr. Nemeth set about preparing a system that would provide an unambiguous single code capable of expressing the needs of the 21st century and so planned that further development will be possible if the need arises. With the encouragement of the National Braille Association and the tireless work of Dr. Nemeth, Joyce Hull, and Bob Steppe, the Nemeth Uniform Braille System (NUBS) has been completed and is soon to be presented to BANA. Though the UBC has been in development for more than 15 years, BANA has insisted that the NUBS could not be presented until every aspect was completed.

The material is so arranged that the student, teacher, transcriber, and publisher can learn only what is necessary for the particular task to be done. The literary braille transcriber, for example, need not conquer the entire math code but can look ahead in the book for the necessary information needed to express something required by a specific document. All the braille contractions and most of the punctuation symbols and important rules for writing braille are retained. There will be one book containing the complete system and including the philosophical considerations about braille that Dr. Nemeth has regarded as underpinnings. There will also be an abbreviated version for literary braille transcribers to ensure a continuous supply of transcribers.

Here are a few elements of the Nemeth system:

1. Numbers are always written in the lower four dots of the cell. The first time the reader sees a page numbered that way is surprising but soon becomes routine.

2. There are two modes of braille, narrative and notational, necessary to extend the fields of information that must be included in any system that meets today's needs. The narrative mode covers all usual words; I think "dictionary" when I consider "narrative". The notational mode deals with all numbers and individual letters. There are several ways of knowing when the notational mode is being entered; the numeric indicator always signifies notational, and the space following the number in the majority of cases means that the narrative mode is resumed. Different symbols are used for the period and the comma in the notational mode to avoid the literary period and comma which in NUBS mean the numbers 4 and 1.

3. An upper-case letter in standard braille is preceded by dot 6, the lowest right-hand dot of the cell. For successive words in upper case, each is preceded by 2 dot 6's. For a passage in upper case letters in NUBS, two dot 6's followed by dots 5-6 are used before the first word of the passage and after the last word a single dot 6 followed by dot 3. Italicized and bold print passages are handled similarly thus saving a great deal of space and substantially decreasing the number of characters to be identified.

Joyce Hull has given several workshops on NUBS at the conferences of the California Transcribers and Educators of the Visually Handicapped (CTEVH), and I have conducted two at the Braille Revival League (BRL) meeting at conventions of the California Council of the Blind and one for the national BRL gathering at a convention of the American Council of the Blind. The workshop materials are so well done that they can go a long way toward explaining NUBS to any curious reader. Anyone wishing the book should contact me: Winifred Downing, 1587 38th Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94122; 415-564-5798; wmdowning@mindspring.com. A separate workshop book is available concerning scientific aspects of NUBS; again, just request it though not until you have gone through the first book.

Let's have braille that is as relevant to the needs of blind persons today as was Louis Braille's original presentation to the people of that period.

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by Rhonda King

Summary of Pre-Convention Board Minutes: April 12, 2007

President Jeff Thom called the meeting to order at 7:12 p.m. and Rhonda King took roll call; Gene Lozano was absent. After the agenda was read, Jeff introduced out-of-state guests Donna Seliger and Marlaina Lieberg, and other convention announcements were made.

Minutes for the October 26, 2006 pre-convention board meeting, December 13, 2006 conference call, January 18, 2007 conference call and the March 25, 2007 conference call were read and approved. Following this, Jeff announced that June 1 would be the target date for the CCB office to move to Sacramento. The Hayward office lease terminated at the end of May.

Chris Gray gave the Treasurer's report for 2006, and followed with a report for the first months of 2007. Chris reminded the membership that the budget approved for 2007 is a deficit budget, but that CCB is dedicated to doing everything in its power to make it as small as possible. He commended the Board for finding ways to reduce expenditures, and he thanked Peter Pardini and the organization for their support thus far. The Treasurer's report was adopted. Chris also said that the 2004 audit had been received and approved, and he would attempt to get the audits for 2005 and 2006 completed in 2007. He pointed out that additional funding would be required to achieve this.

Mitch Pomerantz reported on the proposed budget for 2007. Discussions about moving the office to Sacramento required two meetings of the Finance and Budget committee. The budget's projected revenues were passed. A motion was made, which passed on a 7-6 roll call vote, to adopt the projected expenses. Yes: Mitch Pomerantz, Rhonda King, Jerry Arakawa, Gabe Griffith, David Jackson, Ann Kysor, and Peter Pardini; No: Chris Gray, Cathie Skivers, Jane Kardis, Louis Preston, Barbara Rhodes, and Richard Rueda. The Finance and Budget report was adopted.

Bernice Kandarian gave a Publications committee report. She explained that a new printer for the large print edition of the Blind Californian had been engaged, and that production costs have dropped considerably. She then listed the production costs of other formats. She pointed out that the Email version was very cost effective as long as subscribers didn't get their BC in other formats. Dwindling supplies of cassette tape are causing concerns about the viability of the cassette edition. Bernice then announced the success of the booklet "Failing Sight and the Family Plight" and that it is now in Spanish and would soon be available in a Chinese version. Bernice finished by saying CCB's website is still in need of improvement and that CCB needs to re-evaluate its goals and place more emphasis on public relations by using the website as a valued tool. Her report was approved.

Ardis Bazyn presented a travel website as a possible fund-raiser for CCB. A motion was passed to have this matter referred to the Fund-raising committee and that a report be brought to the next CCB board meeting. Regarding student stipends to the ACB convention, a motion passed that only one student would be sent to the convention this year due to current budget constraints.

The two hotels being considered for the spring 2008 CCB convention are the San Mateo Marriot and the Hilton Arden West in Sacramento--both charging $95 per night. A motion passed to refer this matter to the Convention committee. Cathie Skivers gave reports on the Newel Perry Endowment Fund and the Ellen Murphy Trust Fund. These reports were approved. Cathie also reported on ACB's Durward McDaniel First-Timers fund, and a motion passed for CCB to contribute $500 to this fund.

Rhonda King reported on the various fund raisers being conducted by CCB, such as the scholarship sweepstakes and the Ensenada cruise. Mitch Pomerantz talked about the MMS (Monthly Monetary Support) program offered by ACB.

Jerry Arakawa reported on the CCB First-Timers committee. The committee chose Janet Farrar as its first recipient and she was provided with a stipend of $500 to attend her first CCB convention. Jane Kardis reported on the Advocacy committee, outlining its activities surrounding an 89-year-old woman who had received a one-time payment of $360 to help her secure an apartment.

Jeff Thom talked about the caucus breakfast to be held at the ACB convention in Minneapolis, and he pointed out that it would be exclusive to CCB members only. A motion was passed to have the breakfast.

Following public comments, the Board proceeded into executive session, where it discussed employee salary and benefits. A motion passed to accept the Personnel committee's recommendation to employ a new administrative assistant after relocating the office to Sacramento. A motion was then passed to exit executive session and adjourn the meeting at 10:34 p.m.

Summary of CCB Business Meeting Minutes, April 15, 2007

This summary reflects all business matters during the three days of the spring 2007 CCB convention.

On Friday evening, April 13, Frank Welte presented the CCB Credentials report, and delegates from chapters and affiliates were present. The following chapters and affiliates were not seated at this convention: Antelope Valley Chapter, Butte County Council of the Blind, Pyramid Chapter and the Association for Multicultural Concerns.

The Nominating Committee met at the close of the Friday evening general session, and its report was presented on Saturday afternoon, April 14. Jane Kardis' term has expired, so that position was open. There were two officer and five director positions up for election, and the following persons were nominated: Gene Lozano for Second Vice-President and Rhonda King for Secretary; Jerry Arakawa, Ann Kysor, Peter Pardini, Richard Rueda, and Steve Fort were nominated to fill Jane Kardis' seat. Elections will be held during the fall convention.

The remaining business at the Sunday morning business meeting on April 15 follows:

President Jeff Thom called this meeting to order at 9:07 a.m. He said the meeting was going out live on ACB Radio, and he thanked Chris Gray for encouraging him to set this up and Dan Kysor for doing the streaming. After Gussie Morgan gave the Invocation, Jeff made some announcements. Rhonda King read the Board recommendation to have summaries of the business meeting minutes of October 2005 and April 2006 published in the Blind Californian for the membership to peruse and then note additions or corrections at the fall 2007 business meeting. It passed. Rhonda then read the minutes of the October 29, 2006 business meeting. It was noted that all CCB business, such as credentials, nominations and elections, be included in the business meeting minutes. Additionally, it should be noted that full-text copies of all resolutions can be acquired from the CCB office. The minutes were approved.

Jeff thanked Marlaina Lieberg for all her work during the convention, Chris for the great job he has done as Treasurer, and Chris thanked Peter Pardini for his continued support and help to make the transition so smooth. Jeff also acknowledged and thanked the many volunteers and other individuals who helped make this convention a success.

Chris Gray gave a Treasurer's report for 2006, and followed it with a report for the first months of 2007. He reminded the membership that the budget approved for 2007 is a deficit budget. His report passed.

Gerald Konsler, Chair of the Constitution and Bylaws Committee, was absent and Roger Petersen gave its report. There were no amendments recommended, but the committee felt that it is time to publish the CCB Constitution and Bylaws in the various formats and make it available to all members. The committee will turn this matter over to the CCB Board of Directors and the Publications committee. The report was approved.

Gabe Griffith, Chair of the Resolutions committee, presented sixteen resolutions. With the exception of 2007 A-3, all of them were adopted and the resolutions report approved. These resolutions appear in the summer, 2007 issue of the Blind Californian.

Ardis Bazyn gave the Membership committee report. She spoke about a membership listserv that can be developed so chapters and affiliates can share ideas, but a chapter representative must be designated and contact information be provided. Jeff noted that a President's listserv is now available for a similar purpose. Ardis then discussed the COTY (Chapter of the Year) award, and chapters and affiliates can qualify for this award for 2006 and 2007.

Gene Lozano reported for the Convention committee. He asked for feedback regarding this convention and suggestions for future programs and/or locations of future conventions. He then gave a report for the Committee on Access and Transportation (CAT). He spoke about the Parks and Recreation issues that are currently being worked out and said that monitoring of accessibility improvements must be done by those concerned. He has also been asked to sit on the access committee for Greyhound, and has received input regarding access and assistance from persons who are blind or visually impaired. Greyhound has an ADA compliance office, and he suggested utilizing this avenue when the need arises.

Melody Banks spoke about the Hate Crimes and Domestic Violence Task Force. She said the committee would be presenting a domestic violence training program in the spring of 2008.

Jeff asked if there was any old or new business and there was none; and the meeting was adjourned.

Note: Upon request, the executive office can provide the full text of resolutions, minutes, treasurer reports, and the credentials report.

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compiled by Mike Keithley

Braille Reading Course

Are you eager to read contracted braille with greater ease? Hadley's new course, "Experience Braille Reading," introduces you to many different kinds of braille texts. This tuition-free course for high school and adult continuing education students helps you improve your reading skills at your own pace in the comfort of your home.

"Experience Braille Reading" includes 15 lessons. The first eight cover short stories, travel itineraries, poetry, song lyrics, calendars, nonfiction, restaurant menus, catalogs and recipes. The remaining seven lessons cover children's stories, directions and instructions, word puzzles, financial reports and statements, myths and legends, and advanced nonfiction. The prerequisite is the ability to read and write contracted braille.

"Reading braille not only opens up a world of enjoyment, but is also an important tool that can greatly increase your independence," instructor Linda Perry says. Why not enroll today? To do so, just call Student Services at 800-526-9909.

Life With a Guide Dog?

What is life like with a guide dog? The Hadley School for the Blind's new story-based distance education course "Guide Dogs" can help by giving you important information about guide dogs and their handlers. If you are blind or visually impaired, or if you are living or working with individuals who are considering a guide dog, this course will provide insight into the decision- making process as you learn about the guide dog lifestyle.

"Guide Dogs" includes five lessons and supplemental information. Using fictional characters, the course discusses the guide dog lifestyle, dispelling some common misconceptions, and describing the successful guide dog and its training. The course also offers information about applying to guide dog schools, examines the relationship between the handler and the dog and explores daily life with a guide dog. The appendix has a self-assessment to help a person in the decision-making process. Note: This course is not intended as a training course for guide dog use.

"By entering the lives of the fictional characters in this course, you gain important information about having a guide dog. The information can help you weigh the benefits of such a companion and make the right decision for you," says instructor Patti Jacobson, who has had her current guide dog, Chrissi, since 2004.

Students in Hadley's High School, Adult Continuing Education and Family Education programs may take the course now at no charge. Professionals may enroll in this course online through The Hadley School for Professional Studies (www.hadley.edu/hsps) at a tuition of $99 (U.S. funds only), beginning in January 2008.

For questions about this course or to enroll in any class, call Student Services at 800-526-9909.

This course was made possible through the support of Fidelco Guide Dog Foundation, Guide Dog Foundation for the Blind, Guide Dogs for the Blind, Guide Dogs of America, Guiding Eyes for the Blind, Leader Dogs for the Blind and The Seeing Eye.

Founded in 1920, The Hadley School for the Blind is the single largest, worldwide distance educator of persons who are visually impaired. Hadley offers over 100 tuition-free courses to eligible students. The school's 10,000 annual enrollments are from all corners of the United States and more than 100 countries. Courses are available to students who are visually impaired, family members, and professionals. Visit us on the Web at www.hadley.edu or call 800-323-4238.

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by Catherine Skivers

CCB was founded in 1934 and in 1940 it was one of the seven state organizations of the blind that got together in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania to form the National Federation of the Blind. By our 25th year, 1959, many of its original members and leaders had left to form another organization, Associated Blind of California, which eventually became the first American Council of the Blind (ACB) affiliate in California. In 1978, the California Council left the National Federation of the Blind and had no national affiliation until 1984, when it was accepted as an affiliate of the American Council of the Blind on the understanding that it would merge as soon as possible with the Associated Blind of California, which had changed its name to the American Council of the Blind of California. The merger occurred in 1985, and the new organization retained the CCB name. Our committee will be presenting interesting and factual information about all these changes and the many people who were involved in them.

Preparation of the history of the California Council of the Blind has become quite a challenging project for the History committee. Throughout the years, we have been able to collect many documents written by different members of our organization. Most of them are in braille since, in our early days, this was the only format that was available. George Fogarty recorded eight tapes which outlined his thoughts on what transpired through the years. We also have a tape of his last speech before the Redwood Empire Chapter.

We thought that since we're going to put everything together, our first CCB history will be on tape because it can be heard by sighted or visually impaired people and allows everyone to hear the actual voices of many of our founding members.

For example, we have a tape made for us by Bob Acosta describing his battle to become a teacher in California and how he successfully taught for 34 years. Frances Mannino has written a lovely segment about Tony Mannino, her husband, and President of this council. When the organization merged, Dr. Leone Jenkins wrote a song for our consolidation. We have the tape of the song, directed by John Di Francesco and featuring a chorus. I'm sure most of us haven't heard this, and it's great to hear John introduce the chorus and to hear how well they did. Many members of that chorus are still with us today, and I know it will bring back memories to them.

Perry Sundquist and Patricia Urena put together a 50 year history of CCB. We managed to find one print copy from which the committee made a braille version and Mike Keithley produced a tape using synthetic speech.

We found it interesting that there were very few references to women in that history. We all know that women have made significant contributions to the council ever since it started. It is interesting to note that the group that left in 1959, known as the Associated Blind of California, had two women presidents spanning the first 12 years. CCB waited until 1997 to elect its first woman president, and I think you know who she was. It is interesting to note that Robert Campbell was President of CCB and later President of our ACB affiliate before we merged. I was second President of the Associated Blind of California, and eventually President of CCB.

We will be doing a segment on those persons who are in the Hall of Fame. We will be telling a little something about them and their involvement with CCB. Our history will include people like Ernest Crowley, a blind man who served in the California legislature for 24 years, and Don Wilkinson, who was a Superior Court Judge in Eureka, California. It is filled with the accomplishments of countless blind men and women whom we need to know about.

The dedication and commitment of many individuals and other organizations is what has made CCB the organization it is today. While it is important for us to increase our membership, it is equally imperative that our members understand the continuing need for advocacy and representation on behalf of blind Californians. One of the most amazing things to us working on this history is that so much of what we had accomplished since 1934 has been lost. In many instances, we will have to do it all over again. We think that educating the public about the need for specialized services is as important as it has ever been. There is much that has been done and much that remains, and we're going to need you to help us do it. We are going to try to put a little something about our history in each Blind Californian until such time as it is completed.

Members of the History committee are Roger Petersen, Bernice Kandarian, Gussie Morgan, Don Queen, Chris Gray, Al Gil and Joe Smith; and I have the privilege of chairing this wonderful committee.

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by Evelyn Drewry

As our Fall CCB convention approached, I was eagerly awaiting the opportunity to attend. Conventions are such a great way to stay up on what is going on as well as connect with old friends. However, my plans literally went up in smoke.

Sunday, October 21 started out like a typical autumn day here in the San Diego area. Were it not for a Santa Ana [dry, fierce wind off the desert], the day would have been quite pleasant; but for those of us here in Southern California, Santa Anas are a common occurrence, and life usually goes on despite their pesky presence. Things began to change in the early afternoon when a fire started northeast of Ramona in what is called the Witch Creek area. For so many of us here, our thoughts went back to the Cedar, fires which caused so much destruction exactly four years ago. For me, the idea that we could be in for the same scenario was almost unthinkable.

As time went by, the winds picked up and the fire grew in size and intensity. By early evening, we were forced to accept the fact that we should be prepared to evacuate our home, if necessary. As Jim, my husband, kept an eye on the smoke in order to gauge when or if we should leave, we went about our preparations. I must confess that I felt frustrated about my inability to see what was going on with the smoke, but there were so many things which needed attention that I was able to focus my energy onto what I could do.

We received a phone call from our friends Linda and David offering us their guest room if we decided to evacuate. I was touched by the offer as I knew it was heartfelt, but a part of me still thought we would not have to leave. Once night fell my inability to see the smoke seemed less of an issue as Jim couldn't see it either. Thank God that the flames were still too far away. However, what you cannot see can still cause harm; and when our entire community was told to leave, we decided to take Linda and David up on their offer.

I'll never forget the surreal quality of the evening. As I stood in our driveway, smelling the smoke and struggling to remain standing, I felt as though I was observing rather than participating. The traffic was extremely heavy on our way out of town, but everyone seemed to be courteous and calm. Perhaps I wasn't the only one who felt as though in a dream.

I had to smile when Jim told me there was a woman walking out of town with a horse. I wondered why she wasn't riding him, but I'm sure she had her reasons. The traffic was moving so slowly that she reached the first major intersection before we did. The rest of the trip to Poway, where Linda and David live, was uneventful; and we eventually arrived.

By this time the fire had spread and the high winds were making things very frightening and unpredictable. There was a very real possibility that the four of us would be evacuated from our new home, but we decided we would pool our resources and stay together if that came to pass.

Fortunately, we were able to stay put. There were fires burning on both sides of us, but we felt fairly secure where we were because there was an evacuation center within walking distance. I'm sure that had they moved that center to a new location, we would have moved with it. I could relate to Linda's frustration of not being able to look out the window to see which neighbors had left and who was still home, but so many things were happening that it was fairly easy to focus on what we could do rather than what we could not see.

As time went by, the threat of the fire faded, but due to a problem with the water system here in Ramona, residents were unable to return home until Friday. I was extremely grateful that the fire had not come near our neighborhood, and I wanted nothing more than to return to my home.

Linda and David were the perfect hostess and host as they made us feel just like family, and at some levels the four of us managed to have fun during the five days we were together. But when I finally figured out the strange angles in her hallway and could walk right into the bathroom without first opening a couple of wrong doors, I knew I had been there too long.

Although it is an often over-used expression, there is truly no place like home; and I felt like kissing the ground when I finally returned there Friday morning. I didn't even mind cleaning up ash because at least I had a home to clean.

Although I fervently hope to never to relive that experience, I now know it is a real possibility. Rather than live in fear of a recurrence, we plan to take a serious look at our home and property and make any realistic changes which might make things more fire resistant in the event we have another fire.

I'll just sum up by saying that the Spring convention is definitely on my docket, so, barring any unexpected acts of man or nature, I will be there!

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by Bonnie Rennie

There are many important jobs in CCB, and one increasingly vital role is CCB's Webmaster. In this article, we'll meet Joel Isaac, who has recently and bravely taken on this crucial volunteer work.

Before we get to know a little more about him, it might be helpful to consider what a Webmaster does and how Joel sees his role in helping us in CCB. A Webmaster is the one who sets up or displays all content on a website. "I make sure that everything is working properly and that everyone who uses the site has a good experience," explains Joel. "I feel like I'm part Webmaster and part engineer. I want to make it easier for our members to navigate the information and to post their articles and other items on the site."

This is a time when more and more people are relying on computers for the information they need. This is true for CCB members using their adaptive software and for those recently dealing with vision loss and looking for help and encouragement. Likewise, their sighted friends and family members, wanting to help, may do a search and find their way to our website. When we add to this list professionals in the blindness field and those who might wish to donate money or assistance, we can easily see how valuable a user- friendly and attractive website is to CCB. The Webmaster makes it all happen.

Joel Isaac is a fairly new member of CCB. He and his wife make their home in Irvine, CA. He grew up in the Los Angeles area and didn't begin to deal with vision loss issues until he was well into college. He says he has retinitis pigmentosa. Though he was concerned about the potential for vision loss for many years, he did not consider himself as having low vision/blindness until about five years ago. He now has low vision and is starting to learn Braille.

Joel says a turning point for him was his involvement with the Department of Rehabilitation. It gave him the technology and the tools he needed, to continue succeeding at work. According to Joel, he discovered that with his adaptive software and patience, he could still work effectively in his job at Lindora. He designed and developed the Lindora Weight Loss Online Program website, and held this job for six years, deriving much satisfaction from how his website helps those whom Lindora serves. Joel says, "It was a very delicate job, because people working on weight loss are very sensitive to stressful situations encountered when they're online." He recently left the Lindora company. Clearly, Joel's expertise in making things easier to navigate online enhances their weight loss efforts.

He found CCB and has become active in the Orange County Chapter. He gains something from everyone he meets. When asked how CCB has benefited him, he said:

"CCB has helped me to see all the diversity in this group, and gain a whole new perspective. I used to think everyone with vision loss had the same issues I did. But I was exposed to people with different needs and different ideas."

When asked about hobbies, he says that he enjoys music and art. He uses the limited vision he has to create paintings. He took an outdoor painting class; but since the instructor taught so much from a visual perspective, he found the class challenging.

Joel plays the piano and enjoys many aspects of music. In the last year, he has taken up playing various primitive flutes, made of wood and bamboo. He says that practicing with his flutes gives him something to do while waiting for his Access ride.

He wants our various CCB committees, special-interest affiliates and chapters to make good use of CCB's website, which will continue to be a vehicle for public relations, education, encouragement, and more. In his role as Webmaster, "empowering and facilitating people's access to our website," Joel Isaac is leading the way.

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by Dr. Catherine Schmitt Whitaker

What do your e-mail address and voice mail message say about you? One may ask what this question has to do with employment. The answer is a lot! Yet, this topic is often overlooked in the job search or professional networking process.

Your E-mail Address

What were you thinking when you created your e-mail address? Did you give thought to how a prospective employer may respond or what your friends would say? If you are in the job search or networking process, you may want to think twice about your e-mail address, and how others may perceive it. Your ISP provider, "aol.com" or "hotmail.com", typically does not make a difference. The prefix you choose prior to the @ sign does matter.

Your choice of an address provides a clue as to your personality and decision-making skills. "Boso555@aol.com" or "squeky69@earthlink.net" would probably not promote confidence for a potential employer. Appropriate addresses could be "michele.new@hotmail.com" or "sperry5@earthlink.net".

It is advisable to stay away from using the underscore character in your address. This character can be lost if underline is used or if information is entered on an application form line. Also, be aware of your signature information at the bottom of your e-mail message. It may be helpful to an employer if you indicate your name, e-mail address and telephone number as part of the signature. In some e-mail programs, the name of the person, not the e-mail address, is noted on the to/from line.

If an e-mail address is included on the resume or application, make sure to check your e-mail box on a daily basis. The potential employer expects a quick response, even if he took two weeks to contact you. If he e-mails you, he probably e-mailed other applicants. You do not want to be the only person not to respond within a day. Also, make sure that an undeliverable message due to a full mailbox does not stop an employer and you from making contact.

Voice Mail Messages

An employer who dials a telephone number listed on a resume or application expects to speak with a person or hear an acceptable voice mail message. "Leave a message," or "Hey dude, I am out on the town, leave a message at the beep" are probably not pleasant to a potential employer's ears. Humor, slang and cool phrases are fine for friends, but not potential employers. Tasteful humor or slang may be appropriate for companies with a humorous or hip company image like Southwest Airlines or Hot Topic. The difficulty is identifying a shared meaning for "tasteful." Therefore, it is better to err on a conservative, yet friendly message.

An appropriate voice mail message will identify the person or telephone number dialed, with a brief welcome inviting the caller to leave a message. An example of an effective message sounds like:

"Hello, this is Cathy, and I am not able to take your call at this time. Please leave your name and phone number, and I will return your call as soon as possible."

Smile when you record the statement, which will add natural warmth to your message.

If you leave a pager number as part of the message, be sure to return the page. Once, I left a page for an applicant. When the person telephoned, he began:

"You left me a page, who are you?"

This does not demonstrate strong communication skills. Positive and strong communication skills for the above applicant would sound like:

"Hello, this is Jay Marsh. I received a page from this phone number, how may I help you?"

It is important to remember that the employer may have made five telephone calls since he left the message for you. The more information you can provide to trigger his memory of your application, the more positive the opportunity for you.

Pay attention to your e-mail address and voice mail message during your job search and networking process. Positive first impressions will keep you in consideration for the job.

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by Richard Rueda

Several months ago, I was asked to consider writing a periodic column for the Blind Californian that focused on transition and employment of blind and visually impaired young adults who are entering the work force for the first time through efforts such as transition workshops, supported work experience and numerous other career experience events and summits.

Working as the Transition Coordinator for Blind Field Services, of the Dept. of Rehabilitation, I come across countless opportunities and resources for our youth entering into rehabilitation services for the first time. To that end, it is the department's goal to best serve these young people by providing experiences and opportunities that will ultimately foster and provide them with the tools for meaningful and competitive careers. However, before the dream of waking up one day and having that choice job in hand, several steps must be achieved. This is where Blind Field Services comes into play.

Over the course of future publications, it is my hope to provide readers of the Blind Californian with a glimpse of what it is that our BFS staff and I do on a daily basis to not only serve adult consumers but, just as importantly, engage and motivate our future blind workforce. I thought that I would initiate the first column by providing you with an edited outreach letter that has begun to circulate to the dozens of teachers of the visually impaired and the statewide education system. I hope this will provide you with a tangible sense of how Blind Field Services is taking the task of best practices into working with young people toward productive careers. After reading this article, I invite you to contact me should you have comments, suggestions and ideas for future submissions, as well as to speak to the mechanisms of transition.

Since 2003, when the Blind Field Services district, a division of the Dept. of Rehabilitation, was established to work with blind and visually impaired persons to seek and retain competitive employment, rehabilitation counselors have welcomed youths in transition into their caseloads. Among the many ways Blind Field Services is working toward successful and meaningful employment outcomes is through its initial offerings of age-appropriate transition services to eligible blind and visually impaired young adults from age 16 and up.

For example, the recently initiated Summer Work Experience Program, where students work alongside blind vending stand operators at their place of business, has met with tremendous success. This paid summer work program provides students with first-time, real-life work. In addition, transition planning workshops, that include career readiness courses and computer training, are services that BFS can provide to blind California high school students.

In 2008, Blind Field Services is reaffirming its commitment to serving transition aged students 16 years of age and older. It is our goal to reach out to and identify blind and visually impaired students who meet the eligibility requirements and provide them with transition planning opportunities that build on skill-sets that promote movement from high-school to vocational training or college, gainful employment and, ultimately, independent living.

With support from CCB and other consumer group movements who know of eligible young people, we can provide low vision evaluations, adaptive technology assessments and a host of prevocational services to students 16 and older. If chapter members, officers and other supporters know students, or their parent, who could benefit from knowing about our existing and expanding transition opportunities for blind and visually impaired high school aged students, please refer them to their local rehabilitation office.

Richard Rueda, Youth Employment Transition Coordinator for Blind Field Services, can provide students and their parents with transition workshops and contact information for a rehabilitation counselor serving blind students near their homes and schools. He can also provide you with technical assistance to facilitate the formulation of transition-based IEP's and connect students to a wide variety of resources that will foster completion of the extended core curriculum in high school.

Thank you for your collaboration with the Dept. of Rehabilitation's Blind Field Services unit. We are excited to provide meaningful transition services to your students. They are our future leaders.

Contact Richard Rueda, Youth Employment Transition Coordinator, Dept. of Rehabilitation, Blind Field Services; 1515 Clay St, #117; Oakland CA 94612; 510-622-3083 (voice); Email: rarueda@dor.ca.gov.

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by Dan Kysor

Now that CCB is firmly in place at California's Capitol, it is with great anticipation that we continue to build our efforts to bring our various resolutions to further government and legislative policies: from quiet car research safety funding to lifting the permanent cost of living freeze for California's aged, blind and disabled SSP/SSI recipients. (See the 2007 Fall Resolutions Summary.)

The legislature has permanently frozen the cost of living adjustments for SSP recipients from January to May of 2008, with a possible increase coming in June through December. Additionally, the Governor cut $1.2 billion from transportation services. Communities are cutting bus routes and paratransit services, and we need to watch this situation closely.

CCB has been meeting with the California Department of Social Services to discuss issues of concern to California's blind and visually impaired consumers. In particular, foster care issues; a possible food stamp program to offset COLA freezes; educating welfare child protective workers, who enforce child welfare laws, on blindness issues and preclude the use of blindness to prevent parent/child reunification; rising levels of homelessness; and emergency and homeless shelters that violate access laws by refusing to accommodate blind and visually impaired individuals.

Accessible voting is disappearing in California, and we must fight to maintain our civil rights. Electronic voting is being eliminated in favor of paper balloting. The new Secretary of State, Debra Bowen, has provisionally decertified all electronic voting machines except Hart. Diebold and Sequoia may only have one machine per polling place. All optical scan voting machines have been eliminated altogether. ES&S, which are optical scan voting machines, are not certified yet.

Before we get into state legislation, it is important to note some significant appointments by the Governor:

Anthony Sauer is the new director of the Department of Rehabilitation. Tony is well known in the disability community and has directed both a public IHSS authority and independent living center.

Cathie Bailes succeeds Jim Armstrong as the Blind Services Manager in the Division of the Blind, Blind Field Services District. She was a supervisor for 15 years in the San Diego field office.

The Braille and Talking Book Library has a new manager: Mike Marlin. He is a blind consumer of services and was a librarian in Washington state and Arizona. The California Special Media and Technology Center, CSMT, commonly known as the state's School Book Depository for the blind, has a new administrator: Jonn Paris-Salb. He has a lot of special education experience.

The California Department of Social Services (CDSS) has two new individuals who directly impact services to blind and visually impaired Californians. John Wagner is its new director. John is 45 years old and hails from Massachusetts. Lisa Bandacari is now the manager of the Office of Special Services, previously known as the Office of Services for the Blind; and she replaces long-time manager Tom Lee, who is now a deputy director of CDSS.

Linda Wyatt, disability education advocate and former teacher of the visually impaired, is the new Consultant for Low Incidence Disabilities within the Department of Education's Special Education Division.

Now for the highs and lows of the first half of the 2007-08 legislative session. I was kept quite busy with a myriad of resolutions that turned into state legislative policies and one that, unfortunately, was not.

[Editor's Note: The term Chapter refers to a legislative bill that has been signed into law by the governor. This term is usually followed by a number such as "Chapter 74 of the statutes of 2007."]

AB 238 by Assembly-member Jim Beall of San Jose was vetoed by Governor Schwarzenegger. Our bill would have added reader services to tasks within the in-home support services program, IHSS, for blind and visually impaired recipients. The California Department of Social Services (CDSS) opposed the bill on the grounds that there would be problems in receiving reimbursement from the Federal Medicaid program; and that reader services- -providing "instrumental activities of daily living", such as paying bills, reading medical information, shopping, and menu planning--doesn't meet the spirit engendered under the IHSS program. We believe that reader services qualify under Medicaid reimbursement as "activities of daily living" in the same manner as identification of clothing color, reading food labeling, etc. These standards are already met and the state will most certainly be able to obtain Medicaid reimbursement. Another argument in opposition to AB 238 was that the bill cannot guarantee that a recipient will find an IHSS provider with sufficient reading expertise to meet his or her needs. We believe that local IHSS registries can provide excellent assistance in this regard; but it is ultimately the responsibility of the IHSS recipient to determine the skills needed for a particular task.

As CCB President Thom so aptly stated: "The Governor apparently feels that the independent living needs of blind persons are less important than a small amount of cost that the services would have entailed." It appears that his advisors provided an inflated and false cost-projection of around a million dollars to implement the bill.

Our thanks to Assembly Member Beall for authoring the legislation, and all the legislators and advocates who supported it. We will definitely continue to fight this battle.

AJR 17, Chapter 74 by Assemblymember Ted Lieu, Torrance: A resolution from the California State Legislature to the President and the Secretary of the Treasury asking the Treasury department to lift its appeal of the U.S. district court's ruling that supported accessible currency.

SB 560, Senator Pat Wiggins, Santa Rosa: After CCB received several complaints from blind veterans at the Yountville, California Veterans Home, near Napa, regarding the lack of access to media, signage, dining facilities and a host of other areas, SB 560 was introduced, originally calling for an accessibility audit for blind and visually impaired residents. However, many other groups in veteran facilities began to complain about services, treatment and care; so this bill turned into a multiple audit request to the California Bureau of State Audits; and the audit will begin early in 2008. Our thanks go to CCB member Margie Donovan for her steadfast leadership in this area.

AB 959, Senator Nell Soto, Ontario, Interest Buy Down Blind Vendors, Chapter 687: This Will establish a loan buy down fund of $108,000 to blind vendors in the Business Enterprise Program for the Blind (BEP): up to $5000 per vendor for an interest payment on a loan.

SB 168, Denham P.E. Standards Taskforce: This bill would establish a taskforce to examine the "best practices" standards in physical education for pupils K through 12 who are blind and visually impaired. It is currently stalled in the Senate Appropriations Committee and it is not known if this legislation will go forward. It is sponsored by the National Federation of the Blind of California.

SB 472, Senator Ellen Corbett, San Leandro, Prescription Drug Labeling Standards, Chapter 470: This legislation promulgates standards for prescription drug labeling by 2011 through the State Pharmacy Board. CCB will push for uniform large print standards.

AB 1399, (unknown author), Audible Prescription Labeling: Would require Medi-Cal and HMO's to provide audible prescription labeling on a patient's request to a pharmacist. The original author, Laura Richardson, was elected to the U.S. Congress.

SB 441, Senator Tom Torlakson, Antioch, Nutritious Products in Vending Machines: The bill would require that a percentage of nutritious products (25% the first year and 50% thereafter) be stocked in vending machines located in state buildings. Blind vendors and CCB oppose this bill as it unfairly impacts the blind vendor BEP program by restricting what the vendor can sell, thus impacting the overall incomes the vendor makes. This bill will be heard in 2008.

AB 1566, Assemblymember Roger Neillo, Fair Oaks, Roadside Rests: This bill would privatize many of the roadside rests in California currently within the Business Enterprise Program for the Blind. CCB and the Randolph Sheppard Vendors of California are in strong opposition to this bill. It may or may not come up for consideration in 2008.

AB 1113, Brownley, vetoed: this bill would have eliminated the sunset of the 250% Working Disabled Program and the asset restrictions for Medi-Cal recipients earning over 250% of the poverty level.

AB 18, Assemblymember Sam Blakeslee, San Luis Obispo, Signature Stamps for Voting, Chapter 485: Allows a person with disabilities to use signature stamps without a witness to vote, as long as he/she preregisters with the county clerk. Otherwise, a witness is needed when using signature stamps to vote.

AB 23, Fiona Ma, San Francisco, Countdown Signal and Accessible Pedestrian Signals: Requires the Department of Transportation to place and maintain an audible indicator that indicates when a pedestrian may safely cross the highway, and an official control signal that emits a count down pedestrian display at a marked pedestrian crosswalk, if that crosswalk crosses a state highway and is within 2,000 feet of a school building, or its grounds, or a senior center, as defined. The bill will be heard this year.

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by Catherine Skivers

The History and Awards committee is ready to receive nominations for awards to individuals or organizations who have made significant contributions to the blindness community in California. We enjoy the opportunity to recognize them through our awards. The members of the committee are Roger Petersen, Gussie Morgan, Bernice Kandarian, Joe Smith, Chris Gray and Don Queen.

We usually present awards and the Hall of Fame inductees at the spring convention. Although four people were inducted in 2007, we waited to announce two of them at the fall convention since they were unable to attend in the spring.

By now most of you know that Ahmad Rahman passed away, and he was posthumously entered into the Hall of Fame during our fall convention. We felt so sorry he was unaware that he was receiving this award. No one knew he was ill or that he would have been named, had he been present, at the same time as those receiving awards at the spring convention. Nineteen members of Ahmad's family were on hand at the banquet.

John Lopez, a past President of CCB, was surprised to hear that he was going into the Hall of Fame. He was at the banquet, and Roger Petersen presented his award. My thanks to Roger for handling this part of the program. This was the first convention I've missed since 1990, and I truly regret not being there to help present awards to these wonderful CCB members.

Please review the requirements for our various awards. I'm sure you know someone who is deserving of our thanks and appreciation.

The CCB Hall of Fame award recognizes up to five persons per year, who have made significant contributions and sustained efforts to advance the goals of CCB.

The Community Service Award is presented annually to a blind or visually impaired individual who, through his/her association and activities, has demonstrated integration into and interaction with the life of the community.

The CCB Distinguished Service Award is given periodically to an outstanding blind or visually impaired person who has contributed significantly to the betterment of blind people in general. The recipient of this award need not be a member of CCB.

The Legislator of the Year Award is periodically bestowed on a state or federal legislator who has introduced and successfully directed enactment of legislation on behalf of persons who are blind or visually impaired.

The Humanitarian Award is granted to an individual or organization that has assisted blind people in general or CCB and its affiliates in particular to an extraordinary degree. The recipient may be blind or sighted.

The CCB Merit Award (formerly the Certificate of Merit) is given to any individual who provides outstanding volunteer service to CCB, its chapters or affiliates.

The Chapter of the Year Award is presented by the Membership committee to a CCB chapter that conducts a group effort to make a significant difference in the life of an individual and/or the local community.

The Publications Awards are granted by vote of the Publications committee to the person who has prepared the best article of the year appearing in the "Blind Californian" or in newspapers or periodicals. There are two categories: an article related to an issue of importance and an article concerning lifestyle.

Please send your nominations by February 15, 2008 to: Attention Awards Committee; California Council of the Blind; 1510 J Street, Suite 125; Sacramento, CA 95814. Do send us a letter outlining the reasons why you think your candidate deserves an award. Just submitting a name is not enough for the committee to do its job adequately. While we are willing to help you, we want all the relevant information about your nominee to come from you. The committee always enjoys hearing about the many talented and helpful people and organizations who work with CCB, and we look forward to hearing from you.

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by Ardis Bazyn

The Chapter of the Year Award is generally presented by the CCB Membership committee each spring CCB Convention to the CCB chapter that conducts a group effort to make a significant difference in the life of an individual and/or the community.

The Chapter of the Year award is given to the chapter with the best overall chapter project for the previous year. We are accepting letters from chapters for projects developed and completed in either 2006 or 2007. Please submit letters to the CCB executive office by February 15, 2008. In the letter, please explain the group chapter project, the time-line of the project and which year you completed it. We would like to be able to present awards for both years, provided we receive enough letters from chapters.

The winner of the fall Membership Incentive Award was the Central Coast Low Vision Council. The percentage of growth between the credentialed numbers from the spring CCB Convention to the fall CCB Convention was 46.7 %. The original numbers sent for the spring credentials form were more than the credentialed amount but still would have shown a 22.2 % growth. The second place growth for honorable mention was the Greater San Joaquin Valley Chapter. They had a 19.05 % growth between conventions. Seven chapters/affiliates had over 10 % growth.

We urge all chapters and affiliates to make sure you keep accurate records to insure you have a chance to win the award at the next convention. At the spring CCB Convention, the Membership Incentive Award will go to the chapter that gains the highest number of members from the spring CCB Convention in 2007 to the spring Convention in 2008.

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by Bernie Holt

How do you handle tough times? Everyone experiences a tough time, which is just how it goes! Most of us experience it at the end of the year and always around tax time. How you react to tough times can change how your team produces, how your family reacts to the situation, and how you feel physically and emotionally.

A tough time causes your stress level to go up, which can affect many different medical conditions. It can be described by an isolated issue like low cash flow to buy medication, food, pay your bills, a combination of circumstances, or changing conditions.

One day you may go to work and, all of a sudden, you hear that your company is merging with another. It is easy to fall into the trap of going into automatic pilot and reacting as you always have. You may give the silent treatment towards everyone, be the drama queen or king, have pity party whine fests, or be the stoic martyr. None of these behaviors helps to resolve the issues. In fact, they just make matters worse.

When my wife Kimberley was going through her cancer treatments, seeing her sick was the hardest thing I had ever experienced; and during this time, my sight decided to go. I was scared to tell anyone, including my wife, because I did not want to worry her. This was foolish because she was the one who pointed it out to me and made me go to my eye specialist for a confirmation.

Each of the behaviors described above are driven by self-centeredness. It is all about me, you see! The truth is the issues aren't about you at all. You, and only you, are making it about you. Too often people only focus on what is going wrong in their world and not about what is working right. The merger isn't about you--it's just business. Your child's trouble isn't about you--it's about him and his choices. Your parents' illness isn't about you--it's about their health. But the communication clash is only about you because of your own behavior towards your spouse and others. You can't change them; you can only change yourself.

So what can you do about tough times? First, focus on what is working right in your life at work, in your marriage or within your own family. If you can't find anything right, ask someone to point out the strengths and good things about your situation--you may be too blocked to see them. You cannot focus on things over which you have no control.

Secondly, take the time to really appreciate what you have. We all take for granted what we have until we lose it. How about you? Do you appreciate all that you have? Even as a diabetic or a blind person, you still can appreciate everything you have and do. Sometimes we get so busy looking ahead at where we are going that we forget to look behind from where we came.

Third, help someone get what you want. For instance, if cash flow is low, help someone's business make money by referring them business. Need a car, find someone who needs transportation and help them. Help someone succeed.


1. Recall a time when things were tough. Looking back, did your drama, silent treatment, pity party or anger help you or the situation?

2. Recall a story that you read, or that someone shared with you, about a tough time someone went through. Was it worse than what you are going through now? Did they survive and succeed? Will you?

3. Recall a time when you just knew you were all right, even though things didn't look that way. Know that you are all right, right now. You will get through your tough times, but it's your choice on how you are going to handle it.

The question is, when are you going to start? Everyday I hear how blind people think that they cannot do anything and diabetics saying things like how they cannot control their blood sugar because they have a hard time changing their eating habits, and so on. We need to reprogram our thinking in order to change an outcome.

I hope that I have been able to help someone in this area. Take care!

[Editor's note: Bernie Holt is a member of the Riverside chapter and runs several support groups for diabetics who are losing their vision.]

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by Nelson Pereira

In an effort to be truthful to what I, a low-vision person, have to deal with, and fearing rejection therefrom, let me tell you about my experiences of consternation and confusion on a recent cruise.

After many, many years of hoping and planning and saving up for an Alaskan cruise, I was finally able to book passage on the Dawn Princess in late May, 2007, destination Alaska's southeast coast. I sailed out of San Francisco Harbor in the late afternoon of Monday, 21 May. With a warm sun shining down, we passed Alcatraz and slid under the Gate to the Golden West. In a few hours we were headed north to Alaska. There was only one small hitch: This early in the season a storm out to sea brought 50 to 60 mile-per-hour head winds. By early evening dancers on stage were having a difficult time staying vertical. The ship would dip, slam and back off eight to ten foot swells. She even rocked-n-rolled a bit from port to starboard. This did not bother me, but many passengers had a rough night of it.

My problem was with the multitude of passengers on this magnificent and immaculately maintained luxury liner and my own issues with claustrophobia. I am not a swimmer and never once did it occur to me that we might capsize or sink. My issues were entirely in my own head: wherever I went, there I was.

At the point of embarkation there was one long long line of folks, all seemingly talking or making some kind of noise while boarding. Even though I had preferential treatment, I found conditions very noisy and confusing. The long port facility and difficulty of negotiating the gangplank entering this almost 3000 passenger-and-crew ship was just NOT a good beginning.

Lunch the first day, and every day thereafter, was lines, lines and more lines. There was also the issue of finding a table. There was always a line, even when going for coffee in the morning. Finding the men's head was problematic, too. Going it alone on this massive ship with only a cane was like being anywhere unfamiliar: confusing at best, maddening at worst!

There were many other blind passengers and about a dozen had guide dogs. In fact, the guide dog owners had several "Pet-the-Puppies" meetings programmed into the ship's calendar of things to do while sailing. It is always amazing how sighted folks recall the dog's names but rarely recall their owners. One of the better parts of the cruise for me was meeting and socializing with my blind counterparts.

Finding my room was also problematic. I knew I was in room 411. What I did NOT know was that there was an even and an odd side to the ship. I spent several laps going up and down the even side of the ship, totally frustrated by NOT realizing there was an odd side!

Being sandwiched in the rear of a small elevator is not my idea of a good time, but all of the elevators on board were clearly marked with braille, including the floors, and there was an additional voice-activated system.

The Central Interior Promenade of the ship had a four story double-helix spiral staircase that was all but impossible to negotiate without being pushed from one side to the other.

After four full days on board, my first disembarkation took over two hours from one landing craft to another smaller one into a fjord [a long, narrow inlet] for a fish hatchery excursion. My feet finally touched down on good old terra firma. That was way too long for this guy along with being cattle-herded and prodded-n-searched below decks without elevators and using only metal stairs to descend seven floors beneath the Central Promenade area.

The weather was generally good on the entire trip: overcast and cool and without any significant rainfall.

Two excursions are worth mentioning: The Skagway Railway trip ascending and descending over 2000 feet into snow aboard this delightful and well restored narrow gauge rail system. The second and, to be sure, best part of the entire Alaska cruise for me, was toward the end, when our Italian captain chose to enter Endicott Arm and sail for half a day to Dawes' Glacier. The blue cold coupled with the most welcome sound of silence was music to my ears and manna to my soul.

Returning under the Grand Glorious Golden Gate was most welcome at 6 a.m. on Thursday, 31 May. Disembarking, although somewhat smoother, was still horrendous and disconcerting, with way too much noise and confusion. The entire process took well over two hours. The noise level at the port facility was deafening. The iron wheels of the luggage carts sent me reeling. There was still another hour's wait for the shuttle bus to leave the barn.

In considering a cruise to Alaska, one with low or no vision would do well to seriously entertain NOT traveling on a large-capacity ship. Rather, it would be wiser to investigate the Alaska or Washington State Ferry System, which cruises the same course. Stopping at a few towns along the way, meeting local folks, chatting and feeling the ground beneath your feet would be a welcome relief to the all too confusing issues on a large passenger liner. For me, this is a far, far better choice.

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by Cecile Betts

The day before Thanksgiving, 2006 I sat in the lounge of the Florence Sylvester Senior Center in Laguna Hills after participating in a Balance and Mobility Class sponsored by the Emeritus Institute of Saddleback College. Soon a lunch would be served. Suddenly I felt a sharp, piercing pain in my right upper chest. I'd never experienced that pain in that spot before. I thought maybe it was heart-related; so I put a nitro tablet under my tongue, felt the expected headache and waited for the pain in my chest to subside. It persisted. I took another tablet fifteen minutes later, but the pain didn't go away. I walked to the nurse's office, and told her about it.

"You can call 911 and go to the emergency room," she advised.

"I don't think it is severe enough to do that," I answered.

I stayed for the nice lunch, and then returned home on the community bus. The pain persisted all afternoon, sharp, localized. Finally, at 6:30 that evening, I thought it might be a good idea after all to go to the emergency room. I have several cardiac problems, including arrhythmias, ventricular tachycardia, leaky valves, right bundle branch block, and have had by-pass surgery and a pacemaker. The paramedics arrived promptly, checked my vital signs, listened to my recital of the symptoms. I was placed on a gurney and wheeled out to the ambulance.

From where I live, I would have been taken to Saddleback Hospital; but by a fortuitous coincidence, that hospital's emergency room was not accepting patients, so I asked the crew to take me to Mission Hospital because records of my hospitalizations and various tests were on file there. On the way, the paramedics received an order to give me a shot of morphine; and I felt no pain when they deposited me in the Emergency Room.

"Please call my daughter and tell her where I am," I asked the first nurse who checked my vital signs and drew blood for tests. Six hours later they admitted me.

On Thanksgiving Day, the house physician walked into my room, introduced himself and announced:

"We think you have lung cancer. We can confirm the diagnosis with a needle biopsy, but cannot do it today because they gave you coumadin in the Emergency Room last night."

My first thought was this can't be true. I'd had colon cancer more than thirteen years before and was cured. And then I thought, that I couldn't call my daughter and tell her I have lung cancer, not with all the problems she and her husband have.

I said, Doctor, would you please call my daughter and tell her about this." He assured me he would. I never saw him again.

My next thought was that I would refuse chemotherapy. I'd seen the way it destroyed the quality of life, and it only prolonged the dying. I also thought I had enough sleeping and other pills to put an end to this. But then I knew I could not burden my daughter by committing suicide.

Later that afternoon, a lung specialist, who would do the needle biopsy the next day, stopped by to see me. I said, "I will refuse chemotherapy."

"Slow down," he said, "In your case chemotherapy is not even an option."

The next day, I waited outside the surgery on a gurney, waiting to be wheeled in for the needle biopsy, done with a CAT scan so the doctor could accurately guide the hollow needle. I was conscious during the procedure since it only required local anesthesia.

Later that afternoon, the doctor re-appeared and announced to my daughter and me:

"It is malignant, Stage II."

"What happens if I do nothing?" I asked.

"You will lose a lot of weight, the cancer will grow, and you probably will die within six months."

In a state of shock at this news, I spent another night in the hospital. The next day, my daughter came with her van and took me home.

"Mom," she said, "I looked up lung cancer on the Internet. I know you don't want radiation but there is another option: surgery. The cancer is in the upper right lobe of the lung and is about the size of a half dollar. I think you should see an oncologist, and we need to find a good surgeon and get more tests."

I heard what she said, but it did not really register. I'd accepted the fact that I would die within six months. I did not fear death, but I feared the manner of dying. I began to give my few valuable possessions away.

We found a highly recommended oncologist, a lung specialist and a thoracic surgeon, but we could not get an appointment with the surgeon for three weeks. However, we proceeded to get other tests, and all results were sent to his office. I checked with my cardiologist, too.

Meanwhile, we discussed the chances of my surviving surgery. Of course, if I did not have it, death was sure; but there was a chance I might survive and recover.

Finally, I saw my thoracic surgeon. By this time, in addition to a complete family medical history, he had a thick file containing all my test results. He told me that, despite my age, nearly 90, my medical history and smoking for forty-five years, I had a 75 percent chance of survival since the x-rays showed "clean edges." Not sure exactly what that meant, I left the office in much better spirits than I'd known for the past two months. If I didn't survive, well, that was not a bad way to go--I'd know nothing about it.

That same afternoon, I got a call from his office:

We can schedule surgery for one week from today, if you wish." I replied, "Okay, one week from today."

Another trip to Mission Hospital to complete the pre-admission paperwork and tests. I was to report to the Hospital by 5 the next morning. That evening, a nurse called and said she had some questions the hospital wished me to answer. She asked the same questions I'd already answered. I protested:

"But you have all that information in the computer."

"Yes, they want me to confirm that it is correct," she replied.

"There is just one more question, are you anxious or depressed?"

I exploded: "You've got to be kidding. I have lung cancer, I have cardiac problems and tomorrow a surgeon will cut and remove the upper right lobe of my lung. I might not survive the surgery. My daughter has a debilitating, incurable, terminal disease, my son-in-law is on dialysis, my son barely earns enough to live on, and you are asking me if I am depressed or anxious. Of course, I'm depressed and anxious."

The nurse apologized, "I'm so sorry, my supervisor gave me this list of questions, I guess they didn't really think about how the patient would feel."

The last thing I remember about the next day was that I was lying on a gurney outside the surgery. I came back to consciousness in the intensive care unit; "consciousness" meant excruciating, unbearable pain. They ask the patient to rate the pain on a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being the most extreme pain the patient has ever experienced. I'd rate that post-surgical pain at 100, and I thought nothing could be more painful until the surgeon yanked the two drain tubes from my back. I screeched.

"We'll have you walking tomorrow," he announced cheerfully.

I looked at him. I could not get out of bed without assistance, I could not bear the pain of movement.

"You're crazy," I said. He looked surprised. "No one ever said that to me before," he remarked mildly.

I did not walk until the third day after the surgery; and after a week in the hospital, I transferred to a skilled nursing facility, which had an excellent physical and occupational therapy program. Most of the time, I could not eat the food; I'd ask for a nutritional drink, instead.

Before I scheduled the surgery, I'd arranged for my cousin Mary to come from Georgia to help me at home for two weeks; and for my niece, who lives in Florida, to stay for a week after Mary left. As soon as I could get in and out of bed, dress, shower, and get to and from the bathroom by myself, I went home.

My goal while recovering was to resume my volunteer teaching at the Braille Institute, participate in the Writing Class and play Scrabble at the Club by the beginning of May. I did achieve these goals. I still see my three stooges: the surgeon, oncologist and lung specialist; have frequent lung x-rays, rest more than I did before, and I have my life back!

The strange thing is that I've not experienced that sharp pain in the upper right chest, which impelled me to go to the Emergency Room, again. If not for that pain, I probably would not have consulted a doctor until months later when it would have been too late for surgery or survival. I feel I experienced Divine Intervention. How else would you explain it?

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by Elaine Kitchel, M.Ed., Research Scientist, The American Printing
House for the Blind

[Used with permission.]

For years it has been known that persons with visual impairments need three times as much light, in general, to do the same task as a person with normal vision. Some research was done between 1923 and 1965 by the United States Post Office to document that difference. Since that time, many new types of lighting have been developed for private and commercial use. Some of those new developments have fortunate applications for persons with low vision.

First, one ought to know how much light is needed by the visually impaired individual. There are a few exceptions, but as a general rule, where a 50 watt bulb will do for a person with normal vision, a person with low vision will need 150 watts. That rule of thumb can generally be applied to everyone except persons suffering from retinitis pigmentosa, albinism, achromatopsia or photophobia.

Old research studied light in footcandles. A footcandle is the amount of light at one foot from a one candela lamp. This is equal to one lumen/foot of light today. Light today is spoken about in lumens. A lumen is the amount of light energy per second radiated from a one candela source and falling on a one foot square area at a distance of one foot from the source. You can probably see why it is easier to talk about light in terms of wattage.

In layman's terms, a person with normal vision can function quite nicely in a 12 by 12 foot room lit by 2 40-watt fluorescent tubes. It is quite a different story for a person with low vision. According to the formula, this person would need 6 40-watt fluorescent tubes to light the same area. However it is not that easy. Persons with eye pathology are especially sensitive to the type of light emitted by regular cool-white fluorescent tubes.

"Blue light wavelengths and part of the blue spectrum are focused in front of the retina, while green and yellow are focused on the retina, and some red spectrum is focused behind. Thus blue light contributes little to visual acuity and visual perception loses sharpness as the blue light component adds significantly to the eye's energy expenditure for focusing, and in [if] reduced can greatly reduce eyestrain without loss of acuity.

"There is mounting medical evidence that prolonged exposure to blue light may permanently damage the eyes, contribute to the formation of cataracts and to the destruction of cells in the center of the retina."--(Quinn, 1998)

In spite of the problems with blue light, this is the type of fluorescent tube most commonly found in schools, stores and nearly all public places. For many persons with low vision, this is problematic. Not only does this population need brighter light, it needs a different kind of light. Fortunately special tubes which do not emit much of the ultraviolet and blue end- spectrum light, which is so plentiful in cool white tubes, are available to replace regular cool white fluorescent tubes used by so many businesses and public places. These are called Warm White, SPX30 (General Electric) or SP30 (Sylvania and Phillips) tubes. These can make a significant difference for those persons with low vision by reducing photo-stress and discomfort because most of the light emitted is from the green and red parts of the visible spectrum.

For persons with low vision, then, brightness and type of light are important. Additionally, the directionality and the diffusion of the light are also important. These can be regulated by dimmers, diffusers and light filters. The peracube, a silver egg-crate type of grid, which replaced the acrylic lenses on many fluorescent tubes, has made a positive difference for many persons with visual impairments.

Many factors must be taken into account when designing a room or workspace for use by persons who are light sensitive. (Migraine sufferers, persons with multiple sclerosis, lupus and epilepsy often fall into this category as well as persons with ocular conditions.) For example, access to natural light is a consideration. Persons with macular degeneration often benefit from strong natural light, while those with retinitis pigmentosa perform better in a dim environment with the only light falling on the task at hand.

The color and reflecting qualities of the walls are another important consideration. Many institutions like to paint walls a glossy white or blue. But studies show that most persons who are light sensitive see their best when they have walls with a non-reflective finish of a warm, pinkish hue. This is because light from the blue end of the spectrum, also called short wavelength light, becomes focused in front of the retina instead of upon it. Additionally, blue light requires millions more photo-reception operations per second by the photo-receptors in the retina. One can see that the retina works much harder in light containing the blue or ultraviolet components.

For persons with normal vision and optimal ocular health, a hard-working eye is not a problem. But for people whose eyes are already compromised by disease or injury, whenever their eyes work as hard as they do under the short wavelength, blue light, such as that emitted by cool white tubes, the eyes cannot carry away the products of photo-reception fast enough to keep up. This build-up of waste products in the eye is often interpreted by the brain as glare, pain, or light blindness.

Care, then, should always be taken, whenever possible, to promote optimum visual performance in the person with low vision, by providing lighting without ultraviolet and blue wavelengths, and a visual environment which has been carefully selected to meet his or her needs by using non-glare surfaces of warm colors.

[Editor's note: A list of references is not included here. For more information, contact Elaine Kitchel at ekitchel@aph.org or call the APH information line at 502-895-2405.]

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by Evelyn Drewry

Greetings fellow CCB members! I hope this finds each of you enjoying the holiday season, and that you'll have a smile on your face when you finish reading this issue of the Lighter Side.

Last August, one of my friends returned from GDB in Oregon with the most adorable and delightful guide that I have ever had the privilege of knowing. In fact, I must admit she managed to thoroughly and irreversibly capture my heart within the first five minutes of meeting her.

Recently Linda, her husband Rich, and Manila were shopping in Target. As they finished looking at some merchandise, Rich said:

"Wait right here and I'll be back soon."

Manila watched him walk away and they waited patiently for his return. After what seemed like several minutes, he had not rejoined them; yet Manila continued to stare intently off to her left.

Linda began to suspect he was within sight and was looking at something of great interest. As time passed, this seemed more and more likely, so she decided to investigate. She picked up the harness handle and said:

OK, let's go find Rich!"

Off they went through the store, and they were definitely moving with purpose. Linda was quite sure they were going right to Rich, wherever he might be. They made a turn and all of a sudden she detected a difference in the way things sounded. She wondered why there seemed to be a bit of an echo. But their mission had been successful: there he was!

Can you imagine Linda's shock when she realized they had entered the men's bathroom! She didn't know whether to laugh or slink away in embarrassment.

I believe there is a moral to this amusing story. Be careful what you instruct your guides to do, they just might do it.

Until next time, stay safe and always try to look on the lighter side.

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by Sylvia Lopez

A belated Merry Christmas to you all!

I hope you've enjoyed the recipes that have been published here; and if you'd like your favorite recipes included in my column, please send them to me at sugarsyl71@sbcglobal.net. Thank you and enjoy!

Crock Pot Honey Ham

Ingredients: 1 bone-in or boneless ham (you may need to cut it in half so it will fit); 20 whole cloves; 4 tablespoons honey.

Instructions: Stick the whole cloves into the ham. Drizzle the honey over the ham after placing it in the crock pot. Cook on high for three hours or low for six hours. Remove, slice and place on a platter.

Bacon & Buttermilk Mashed Potatoes

Ingredients: 3 slices bacon; 2 pounds russet potatoes, peeled and quartered; 1/2 cup buttermilk; 1 tablespoon fresh chives or scallion tops, chopped.

Directions: Saute bacon in a heavy nonstick skillet over medium heat for four to five minutes, or until crisp. Transfer to paper towels and drain, reserving 1-1/2 teaspoons of the drippings.

Crumble bacon and set aside.

Cook potatoes in a large pot of boiling salted water for about 30 minutes, or until very tender. Drain well.

Return potatoes to pot. Add buttermilk, bacon and drippings; salt and pepper to taste. Mash and add chives. Serve hot.

Strawberry Wine Punch

Ingredients: 2 10 ounce packages frozen sliced strawberries in syrup; 1/2 cup sugar; 1 bottle rose wine (It can be found in any "Food & Beverage Store" or I use Strawberry Arbor Mist wine from my local market. For kids, substitute grape juice.); 1 6 ounce can frozen lemonade concentrate; 1 cup pineapple juice, chilled; 1 28 ounce bottle club soda, chilled; ice.

Instructions: In a punch bowl, combine strawberries, sugar and two cups of the rose wine. Cover and let stand at room temperature for one hour. Add frozen lemonade concentrate and pineapple juice. Stir until lemonade is thawed. Stir in remaining wine and club soda. Add ice. Makes 24 four- ounce servings.

Favorite Christmas Cookies

Are you looking for new Christmas cookie recipes? You're likely to find several you like at www.christmas-cookies.com. The site offers hundreds of recipes: modern and traditional. You'll also find baking tips, a forum to discuss cookie recipes and a place to submit your own.

White Christmas Candy

Ingredients: 1 pound white bark candy, 1 pound salted nuts, 2 cups crispy rice cereal

Directions: Melt candy in a double boiler. Add nuts and cereal. Mix well. Spoon onto waxed paper. Refrigerate until firm. Break into pieces, and store in an air-tight container.

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compiled by Mike Keithley

NPR Survey

National Public Radio is looking for visually impaired participants to survey about their experience with media devices: radios, TVs, etc. If interested, please provide name, contact information, preferred contact method (phone, email) and type of disability (blindness, dyslexia, etc.) to Participant Coordinator Daniel Schwab at dschwab@npr.org or call 202-513-2466. Thank you.

Travel Survey

My name is Jim Marston, Ph.D., assistant researcher at UC Santa Barbara. Our colleagues at the Utah State University's "Computer Science Assistive Technology Lab" and U C Santa Barbara's "Research Unit on Spatial Cognition and Choice" have founded a project, called The Blind Leading The Blind, to improve the quality of travel route descriptions by understanding how people with visual impairments describe and share descriptions of routes.

You are invited to contribute valuable information to the project by going to routes.cs.usu.edu and providing sample travel route directions.

Once a sufficiently large number of route descriptions are developed, a list of environmental features and possibly a list of communication techniques and styles suitable for producing route descriptions for travelers with visual impairments will emerge. The compiled list of such features will likely improve efficiency in travel by enhancing the quality and accuracy of the route descriptions provided by current electronic travel aids and enhance the techniques individuals have available when providing route descriptions to others.

If there are questions about this program, please contact the project's director Dr. Vladimir Kulyukin, Ph.D. at vkulyukin@cc.usu.edu. You may also contact Jim Marston, Ph.D.; Assistant Researcher, Research Unit on Spatial Cognition and Choice; Department of Geography; 1832 Ellison Hall; UC Santa Barbara; Santa Barbara, CA 93106-4060; Phone: 805-893-7274; Web: www.geog.ucsb.edu/~marstonj.

Feedback Needed

Attention San Francisco Pedestrians: We need your help! Please let us know what you think about the City's Accessible Pedestrian Signals. Have you used them? Did they work properly? Have you encountered any problems? Have they helped you in your travels?

Please give us your feedback. A list of intersections in San Francisco that are equipped with APS can be found on the website of the San Francisco LightHouse at www.lighthouse-sf.org/AccessiblePedestrianSignals.php. Please send feedback to info@lighthouse-sf.org or leave a toll-free message at 800-400-8933. Thanks in advance! Jessie Lorenz, SF LightHouse; Linda Porelle, CCB; Diane Rovai, ILRC.

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[Editor's note: We are indebted to Bernice Kandarian who updates and corrects the list of CCB officers and board members, including the number of the term each is presently serving, the year elected to that term and the year next up for election. Terms actually begin on January 1 following election. We shall publish the list this way at least in issues just preceding and following elections and routinely if members wish. The presence of an asterisk means that the individual served a partial term before the first full term.]



Please send all address changes to the Executive Office.

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