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"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.
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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.
The deadline to submit material for the winter, 2009 issue of THE BLIND CALIFORNIAN is noon, December 1.
I just finished participating in a wayfinding study conducted at the Smith-Kettlewell Eye Research Institute in San Francisco. This project is developing standard methods to describe efficiently how to get from point A to point B. They were particularly interested in working with hearing impaired people who spent some time traveling independently.
The first hurdle was getting to San Francisco. I could have taken the train, but I'm still not able to localize sounds reliably, so it's rather unsafe being on the streets alone. So I got my ID info sent to Reddi Wheels and San Francisco Paratransit. If you've never tried to schedule rides over three paratransit facilities, let me tell you, it's hard! If you want to do such a thing, get your ride set up at a week in advance and work from your destination to origination, not the other way around. As it turned out, I had to use taxis to get to and from the city.
I had a lot of fun during the study. The two-hour traveling appointment took three as there were delays caused by a misbehaving BrailleNote GPS system, which I helped fix. We met at Philz coffee shop, which felt very much like Starbucks, at 4th and Berry, next door to the station.
We worked around the CalTrain station. I traveled a four-block route from verbal instructions, which made me quite apprehensive; but the session went really well and the O&M people helped me cross streets. There was a lot of construction going on with lots of noise and sewage smells, but I went past two bakeries and a coffee shop, great markers!
I then worked in the station by getting general instructions such as "it's in front of you and to the right" from "strangers," who were actually the O&M people walking with me. I got to a flower stand, whose smell fooled me; a drinking fountain; and track eight. I'd walk twenty steps, ask where I was, walk some more. I enjoyed it; and after it was over, I had to "point" to where I thought the points I had visited were located.
I then did a route with GPS to reach the station from four blocks away. That was difficult because the system wouldn't properly update my position as the proximity of buildings muddled communication with the satellites.
And last was the neat adventure of being directed by Talking Signs inside the station. These signs are Infrared devices that help you find specific areas like the waiting room and the telephone and restrooms. You hold a receiver in front of you and move it from left to right, while walking, until you hear a message from a sign. You then walk toward it while keeping the receiver homed onto the message. I took my time with this, and was probably a spectacle (I found a benchful of people); but I was a kid having a blast!
After a visit to "Subway Sandwiches," (the sign was excitedly saying it) and a hearing evaluation, I went home after a productively fun day.
So why did I tell you all this? Aside from sharing an interesting account, I believe it underscores the fact that projects that need volunteers, need you; and you can have lots of fun helping them.
In closing, I want to share with you a portion of a letter Cathie Skivers sent to me.Congratulations to Jeff Thom!, by Catherine Skivers
By the time you read this, a very special event will have taken place at which Jeff Thom received a prestigious award. Here is part of the announcement:
"The Executive Committee of the Public Law Section, State Bar of California, cordially invites you to attend the presentation of the 2008 Public Lawyer of the Year Award to Jeff Thom."
The announcement went on to say that festivities would include a reception with hors d'oeuvres and a no host bar. I was so sorry I was unable to attend this special event because I would have loved to have been there to let Jeff no how proud we are of him. To my knowledge no one in our CCB history has received this honor. Maybe everybody can congratulate and help celebrate his award at the Fall convention. Well done Jeff!Return to the Table of Contents
We are all concerned with the future of the California Council of the Blind. With all that we have accomplished, there is still a long way to go in so many areas of advocacy. It is a simple reality that financial stability is an important cog in the wheel of any thriving nonprofit organization. To that end, we have established the Friends of the California Council of the Blind. It is our goal that, as the years go by, this entity shall create the mechanism through which we can help to build a sound financial footing and obtain a cadre of volunteers to help CCB in all our endeavors. Whether or not we realize the potential that Friends of the California Council of the Blind has will depend upon each and every one of us.
The Friends of the California Council of the Blind committee, chaired by Jacqueline Jackson with the assistance of the Publications Committee, has developed a brochure that the CCB office will send to individuals and companies, inviting them to become a friend of CCB. We need each of you to provide the office with contact information for people and entities that you would like us to invite to join Friends of CCB. When you submit a name, it is helpful if you can contact them personally and let them know that they will be receiving this invitation. Remember that the personal touch followed by a written request goes so much further and has a much greater chance of success.
So if you want to maintain the greatness of this organization for years to come, let's all work together and make Friends of the California Council of the Blind a winning piece of the CCB equation.Return to the Table of Contents
It has been brought to my attention that there is an error in the first paragraph of the article Historically Speaking, by Catherine Skivers, which was published in the summer, 2008 issue of the BC. The phrase "merger with ACB" should be "merger with CCB."Return to the Table of Contents
We of the High Desert chapter of the CCB have been looking forward to the convention this fall and we're busy raising funds to send a delegate to represent our chapter. Sending a delegate to convention is our largest recurring expense.
We have been successful raising funds by designing, printing and selling t-shirts. I think up a design, and my niece is able to create the graphics for us. One of our best-selling designs was a yellow happy face wearing heart-shaped sunglasses. We were able to sell all of them and now have created a new design. It is done in black and white and has a variety of several different shapes and sizes of sunglasses on the front. We've already had a second printing, and we will have a booth at the fall convention for selling these too cute shirts.
Raising funds is important to us, but we also like to have fun. We play bingo on Fridays with pizza and prizes, which had been donated. Our most popular activity is our birthday luncheon held monthly at a local restaurant. Dominic Martinelli, our current president, usually brings a decorated cake. We are able to pay for every member who is celebrating their birthday that month from a birthday fund left to us by our past President, Elinor Lund. Our fund has recently been replenished by Mrs. Pauline Arverson in memory of her husband, Arve, who passed away in January, 2007.
Since there were no birthdays last June, our creative fund-raising chairperson, Jan Ripley, entertained us at her home. She put out a wonderful BBQ spread for us on her beautiful patio. She charged admission and donated all the proceeds to the birthday fund. The luncheon was very well attended, and was a lovely way to spend a beautiful summer day with our friends.
We also have fun fund-raising for our special children. We had plenty of funds for birthdays, and then we lost our dear Andy Carlucci in February, 2007. He and his family started a fund to buy special gifts for blind children. The class we found is at the Vista Verde school in Victorville. We have already supplied ten children with many talking and magnifying aids along with school supplies and games. Our members have voted to continue replenishing this Fund.
To raise funds for the children, we had yellow mugs printed with the same happy face design from our original t-shirts. They came out really cute and have been selling well. The mugs also came in handy when we needed a quick gift for the class. We had assembled very elaborate packages for them when we visited at Valentine's Day and Easter. We forgot that several of the children would be graduating from this facility and moving on next year. We were able to go in June before summer break and gave each one of them a mug filled with tootsie pops. Here's a hint: kids love mugs filled with tootsie pops! We will miss those who are moving, but we're so happy that they are progressing. We are looking forward to meeting some new children when we visit again at Halloween.
We are very grateful to so many members who make our chapter's activities fun and successful. Hope to see you at the fall convention. Bring money--you might want to buy a great t-shirt!Return to the Table of Contents
We had a wonderful opportunity to experience a freedom I hope I can do justice to in the writing of this piece. Fifteen San Gabriel chapter members went on a sailing trip on Saturday, July 26, and what a nice day it was. Kelly Weiss, who belongs to a sailing club and is a chapter member, brought this adventure to us. We are also grateful for generous donations from Aquadeco Spring Water, the Women's Sailing Association (WSA) and the ladies of Santa Monica Windjammers.
The day started at 10:30 a.m. at the Marina. Two of our folks brought their guide dogs with them, and they were taken to a park and watched by a puppy raiser while we went on our sailing adventure. My dog Scotch enjoyed his day sleeping lazily under a nice tree and waking up a time or two for sniffing and such. Ah the life of a happy, resting guide dog!
We had about six boats for sailing, and the number of their crews varied to as few as five people. On my boat, there were four chapter members who rode along for the adventure. I shared the experience with Mitch, Laura Russell and Wayne Thompson. Our crew, once we were all aboard, motored us out of the dock area, and I have no idea why they didn't let me drive at that point.
Once we got out into the bay, the wind was just perfect, the sails were set and everything was ready to go, so they turned off the motor and the adventure began.
Once underway, they offered us the wheel, and I just had to be the first to take it. That was an experience I'll never forget.
I would say the wheel is about six feet or so in diameter. As our skipper talked me through and held the wheel at the start, I began to really get the hang of things. I was able to feel when I was sailing the boat right on course with the wind. I was standing at the wheel--no chairs here, and my body could feel if things were right on course or not.
During my driving experience, we got up to seven knots, which was a real rush for me. In a strange sense, I got a sensation of what it must feel like to be a bird--how it must feel the wind in its wings and adjust flight and body accordingly. Indeed, what a freedom!
There was even a time while I had the wheel that we began tipping to starboard. Our skipper warned us about this, but in all honesty I just thought he might have been over-protective because this was the first time he and his crew had been around people who are blind or low vision. Boy was I glad we left Scotch sleeping under a tree in the park because he just would not have liked it at all tipping from starboard to port. These days he prefers to be on level ground.
Our skipper talked to us about all the things they use to help them see if they are on course. He said that there is fringe (I'm sure there is a name for this but I just can't remember it) on the end of the sails that they watch; and if it is directly in line with the sail, they know they are going directly with the wind. I was able to feel if I was on course by the feel of the wheel and the boat under my feet. If I didn't have pressure pushing me to one side or another, then I knew I was OK--when it felt equal on either side, then I was right on target or moving with the wind.
How peaceful it was to just hear the water and the wind, oh am I glad I listened and borrowed that sailing cap that was offered to me.
I finally decided to share the wheel with Mitch--it was his turn to drive, and he did.
I forgot to say that for the entire time we were driving, Laura was at the bow with our skipper's fiancee. She said she just loved the feel of the wind and the movement of the ship. Laura grew up around water and said she has always felt comfortable and relaxed and at peace around it.
I was able to feel the sails and oh they were so tall, around two stories! Of course, they declined my request to climb to the top and perch there, and again I just don't know why.
Our skipper's fiancee asked me if I wanted to come to the bow as well, and without hesitation I said yes. It was interesting getting there as we were constantly moving and sometimes at a slight tilt, but I got to the very end of the bow and never moved from there for the rest of the journey.
While I was sitting in the bow, another of our crew sat behind me--he was a doctor--and he began to describing my surroundings. We were heading out toward Malibu, and Laura reminded me that Camp Bloomfield was in the Malibu mountains, and we were all Bloomfield alumni. I heard splashing in the water and was told that there were some dolphins playing and swimming around the boat, just a short distance away.
Time just got away from us. When Mitch finished driving, it was Wayne's turn at the wheel; and he loved it. We all did very well at the wheel and had a wonderful teacher in our skipper. We were supposed to get back by around 3 that afternoon; but, of course, we were in by 4.
We were a little sad when the motor was turned on and we returned to the dock. Laura and I both said that we wished the adventure wasn't over; but oh well, all good things must come to an end, and what a good end it was!
While we were sailing, we had all the Aquadeco water we wanted. This is a Canadian spring water in a designer bottle shaped like, I think, the Chrysler building in New York. The bottle comes in glass and plastic, and I'm glad we chose plastic. The shape is a small pedestal or block at the bottom and then the bottle fans out to the top--very tactile.
Once we got back on land, we went to the yacht club and ate at outside tables. Our meal consisted of chicken, salads, refreshments, chips, cookies, and fruit. Oh, we were all well-fed after our day of fun and adventure.
A funny side-note: When we discussed this trip as a chapter, the possibility of avocado and cucumber sandwiches came up as a meal. Well, let's just say that all of us carnivores united in polite opposition to that.
I want to say a special thank you to Kelly Weiss for bringing this experience to our chapter, all of the skippers and crew members who donated their time and boats to the event, the Aquadeco Gourmet Spring Water Company, the Women's Sailing Association (WSA), The ladies of Santa Monica Windjammers, and all the members of San Gabriel Valley CCB for making this first sailing event a successful and fun time for all.Return to the Table of Contents
This is the fourth year in which the San Francisco chapter has devoted its energy toward sponsoring a contest to find a blind or visually impaired individual who needs monetary assistance toward accomplishing an employment or education goal which cannot be met by any existing federal, state, or local program. This effort has been named the Alice Chavez Pardini Advancement Education Grant in honor of our recently deceased chapter member, Alice Chavez Pardini.
Any legally blind student in grades 6-12, college, graduate school, or a certificate program who lives in San Francisco, Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, or San Mateo counties is eligible. The grant is up to $2500.
Anyone wishing to enter the contest must submit a completed application and essay postmarked by October 31, 2008, to the Alice Fund Committee, c/o Charlie Dorris, 966 Union Street, San Francisco, CA 94133.
To request an application and instruction form in large print, braille, or online, contact Charlie Dorris (415-775-0487, email@example.com) or Ellie Lee (415-378-6079, firstname.lastname@example.org).Return to the Table of Contents
If you've been blind for a while, you may have learned to cook at the Orientation Center, the Skills Center or a commission for the blind somewhere. I actually learned from my Dad, a truly patient teacher, and happily prepared entire meals by the time I entered high school. I refused to attend any training centers, much to my rehab counselor's annoyance! Instead, I avidly read "The Braille Cookbook", "Cooking at Your Fingertips", "When The Cook Can't Look", "Cooking Without Looking", and Sally Jones' most excellent "Preprimer Cooking". My blind friends who also cooked knew that when I came to visit, I would rather read their recipe books and cooking techniques collection than actually have to socialize around the table! And I loved peppering the home teachers with questions about the gadgets they recommended. I spent many happy afternoons checking out cooking aids at the LightHouse store or through the AFB catalog.
I still read and explore most avidly, so I can tell you that the references cited above are woefully out of date. Modern technology, techniques and gizmos make it even easier for the blind cook than ever before.
Starting with techniques, a modern approach can be found in "Cooking with Feeling", available in several formats from the National Braille Press. The book is divided into two parts which can optionally be purchased separately. One part is a compendium of techniques: everything from deveining shrimp to setting up a barbecue. Whoever said that a picture is worth a thousand words has not read the deft prose in "Cooking With Feeling." Each technique is described with a clarity and brevity that makes it crystal clear. You can read a complete table of contents on the National Braille Press website.
Continuing on to recipes, your best free source here is the NLS. More than ever, NLS is producing books for children and beginners on cooking. And unlike the old recipes we grew up with, NLS has plenty of diabetic, low-fat, low-carb, low-calorie and just generally healthy cookbooks to choose from. Many of the recent cassette books are voice-indexed; the digital talking books are so well indexed that just a few button presses on my Victor Reader Stream get me to a specific recipe, and a plethora of digital Braille cookbooks can be downloaded for offline perusal, searching and embossing. And even if you cannot read braille, software is available to translate it back into text. The free Wintrans program is the easiest to use, and accurately reverse-translates most recipe formats.
If you use the Internet, you can google for most any recipe. Try the name of the food, followed by a recipe as in "Baked Beans recipe" or "Slow Cooker Baked Beans" to get more specific.
Now on to toys! When the Living Skills Center produced "Beyond TV Dinners", microwaves were the stuff of science fiction. Today several vendors even offer talking microwaves, and if you thought yours was just for heating leftovers, get yourself to a microwave cooking class! You can cook omelettes, oatmeal and rice in the microwave. You can nuke fish, grill burgers, steam veggies and prepare bacon much more easily than on the stovetop. Food is easier to handle and examine when you microwave, and you often don't need to turn it over in a pan. My favorite hands-on inexpensive source for microwave cookware is Wal-Mart.
If you are afraid to try something new, start out small. Poach a single fillet, nuke one half of a diced onion, steam a bit of broccoli. Check the food often for taste and doneness and keep records of how long each experiment takes. Once you know you can scramble an egg in your microwave for 2 minutes and 30 seconds, you will no longer have to worry about the length of time it requires. And don't be afraid of disasters. I found out the hard way that I had to prepare cornmeal in a pretty large bowl with a very tightly fitted lid! But cleaning up a little mess helped me become a microwave master of polenta.
One word of warning about using your microwave. When they first came out, home economists tried to convince us you could do everything including baking cakes and roasting turkeys in your nuker. The results often weren't very edible! Stay away from 1980s microwave lore and stick with recipes from the late nineties and beyond. It also helps to have proper utensils, for example a special plastic microwave grill improves the quality of the meat you nuke.
Another favorite gadget for today's blind cook is the George Foreman grill. You can get this appliance at virtually any store from Target to Fry's, and you can buy them in a variety of sizes. They are popular with the blind because you never have to turn the food over, and once you know the time and possibly the temperature, a particular item requires you never need worry about whether it is done. Burgers on my grill for example take six and a half minutes on the medium setting. The previous generation of blind cooks relied on electric skillets for similar reasons, but they had to flip the food with a spatula and fry with oil. With "The George" you need no grease or perhaps just a spritz of cooking spray, and the fat drains off the food and into a drip tray. It's heart-healthy and easier than using any kind of skillet. And National Braille Press, mentioned above, sells two cookbooks for this indoor grill.
If you are still using your grandmother's potholders, do yourself a favor and log on to www.blindmicemart.com to buy the special mitts featured in the ACB Radio Cooking in the Dark Show. They are thin enough that you can feel food through them and protect your hands from temperatures up to 500 degrees! They are even somewhat water resistant so you can reach into a pot of boiling stew to briefly touch the ingredients! I find mine to be amazing!
While you are at blindmicemart, check out the flexible chopping mats, which are also available at amazon.com. These mats have the look and feel of plastic placemats, and are flexible cutting boards that bend so you can funnel those chopped ingredients directly into a bowl. Beware, however of the cheapest ones on the Internet: they can leave tiny specs of plastic in your food. Like most buyer-beware items, it's best to stick with those of a higher quality and price.
And while I extol the virtues of blindmicemart, let me tell you about the wonderful talking cooking thermometer I just purchased. No longer must I guess whether the meatloaf is done. Sighted cooks are being taught today to use a thermometer instead of their eyes, so it's great to know we can use this same technique.
Today you can find talking scales and timers from all the shopping sites listed at the end of this article. There are also a variety of low-vision timers, which in addition to being useful for the visually impaired make great gifts for any friends who need to put on their glasses to read a conventional timer.
If you are stymied by all the blister pack that separates you from shopping for cooking gadgets, I have two solutions. The local choice is the Ikea store in Palo Alto where a huge cooking section beckons and most of the little gizmos, like cheese graters and ladles, are not enclosed in plastic. Ikea has great prices and an enormous selection of unusual cooking tools. For example, I bought an extra broad spatula there that makes turning foods a breeze. Ikea is also a great low-cost source for modern nonstick cookware, which no blind or sighted cook should do without.
Shopping on the net is also fun, and you can find cooking aids at all of the shopping sites at the end of this article. I do recommend blindmicemart however, because they give some of their profits back to the blind community in the form of student scholarships.
Whether you are just getting started or have been preparing food for years, this is a great time to master new skills, discover new toys--or should I say tools--and get into the kitchen. It's way cheaper and healthier than eating out, so don't be afraid to try.
www.blindmicemart.com: a virtual shopping mall for the blind.
www.independentliving.com: respected vendor of aids and appliances for people with disabilities.
www.lssgroup.com: sells a wide variety of aids and appliances with better product photos than most.
www.maxiaids.com: has probably the largest selection; sells nearly everything imaginable.
www.amazon.com/access:> screen-reader friendly version of the amazon.com site. Very easy to navigate and search, but be sure to read customer reviews before making purchases.
www.ikea.com: not the most accessible website, but our local store in Palo Alto is easy to navigate physically. Staff is friendly and its subsidized cafeteria serves up low-cost breakfast and lunch.
www.braille.com: National Braille press--sells cookbooks and charts for counting carbs, calories and fat. Many items are also available in electronic text.
www.wintrans-bt.org/: Download Wintrans, the Windows interface for the NFB's free Braille translator NFBtrans. One download will get you both programs, which will back-translate digital Braille into text.
www.loc.gov/nls/: the home page for the National Library Service for the Blind and physically handicapped.
labs.google.com/accessible: Google accessible search--returns results from web pages that contain mostly text.Return to the Table of Contents
In 2009 the California Council of the Blind will be celebrating its 75th Anniversary. It began in Fresno in 1934; and by the time I arrived on the scene in 1949, we were thirteen years old.
At that time, it was called the California Council for the Blind; and after being in it for a year, a young upstart named Cathie Swartz (later Cathie Skivers) made a motion to change the name to California Council of the Blind. The motion was soundly defeated. Dr. Perry said my motion didn't pass because I lost my temper. I told him that wasn't the reason at all. My motion didn't have his approval so his "good old boys" didn't support it. He suggested I try it again, and I did.
This time, it passed almost unanimously. When the doctor congratulated me because I managed to hold my temper, I told him that wasn't what happened at all. I told him it was because he gave the word to "his boys" and that's why it passed. He gave me a hug and told me to remember that "if you get in a fight never to lose your temper."
Since we started in Fresno, President Jeff Thom, I and others think it would be really great if we could have a convention there in 2009. I've talked with Mary Beth Randall, President of the Greater San Joaquin Valley Chapter, about working toward the goal of having our meeting there. The rates for food in Fresno seem reasonable; however, room rates seem surprisingly high. It would really be great to get a grant or a gift of at least $5,000 to help the council offset the cost of room rates so we could have a great turnout for the festivities. Mary Beth and I are working on this and, since there are so many more of you than there are of us, we would really appreciate hearing from any of you who might have ideas on how to bring this about.
There is so much material regarding CCB's history in my house that I have a terrible time trying to decide what to put in the BC each issue. I have just finished rereading the February, 1959 copy of "The Bulletin." That's what our magazine was called in the beginning. In it, there are many articles regarding the resignation of officers from the Council, the minutes of a special meeting that was held in 1959 and an article by me, as Editor, called "The California Story." This was circulated to several hundred of the most prominent blind people in the country, and it has been suggested that it should be reprinted so that those of you new to the Council or who were not involved with it at the time could understand what was happening in those days. The minutes might be of interest as well because they were written by Fern Pritchard, who was Alan Jenkins' secretary at the time and did not serve on any Council committee.
The question has been asked for decades as to why the national groups of and for the blind do not merge. While serving as President of the first American Council Affiliate in California, I represented them at the legislature. While testifying before a committee, a senator told me that he did not understand why the two groups of blind people who regularly came before them didn't get together. He said it made it difficult for the legislators to know what to do when two different groups couldn't agree on the same thing.
My answer was, "That's a great idea, Senator, and when you Republicans and Democrats figure out how to do it, let us know and we'll try to make it work for us." This brought some laughter and some applause and got me a hug from the senator from Oakland.
I'm sure you all hear quite often that people do not understand why the National Federation and the American Council don't merge. Why should we? I'm sure Republicans and Democrats think they want what's best for this country but cannot agree on how this should happen. If the National Federation and the American Council work toward what's best for the blind, then that's what we all should be working towards. Certainly the National Federation of California [NFB's affiliate] and the California Council proved that we can benefit from joint actions such as the passage of SB105, and we also had wonderful cooperation from California agencies servicing the blind.
It's up to you and me to be sure and vote and do it wisely, whether we're at a CCB or ACB convention or getting ready to bring in a new President for this country. Never think your vote doesn't make a difference. The history of the California Council of the Blind demonstrates that not only have we made a tremendous difference in the lives of blind and visually impaired people in California and the nation, we are still doing it. Hopefully, some of you reading this article will carry us to our 100th birthday and beyond.Return to the Table of Contents
Let's do chapters first. Chapter Affiliate defined: "Any organized group of ten or more individuals, a majority of whom are blind, may apply for affiliation with the California Council of the Blind." (Constitution: Article 8, Section 8.1). Much of the text in references made to the CCB Constitution and Bylaws is not included here, but I must admit to a keen admiration of the precision and crispness of these fine documents so I wanted to begin with an exact quote.
Just in case you really are super new at all this and looking to form a chapter and apply for affiliation (and if you are, you're certainly encouraged to do so), you absolutely must study the Constitution, Article 8, Section 8.2, application and how the chapter gets affiliated and related; Section 8.3, privileges and duties and related; and the other sections of Article 8. Indeed, everything else in the CCB Constitution and Bylaws should be thoroughly reviewed. You may want to visit the CCB website to access additional information on this and many other topics. The specific link to Guidelines for Organization is www.ccbnet.org/guide.htm.
What is a delegate? A current voting member of a CCB affiliated chapter elected by that chapter whose assignment is to attend conventions, represent that chapter and cast the chapter's votes (Constitution: Article 8, Section 8.9; Article 13, Section 13.2; Bylaws: Article 2, Sections 2.1, 2.2, 2.3 and 2.5). What is an alternate delegate? One who acts in a delegate's stead whenever appropriate. Note that chapters are free to elect an alternate delegate or not (Constitution: Article 8, Section 8.9).
Reading just a little farther in Section 8.9, we find an absolutely essential aspect of delegate identification: these fine folks must receive credentials from the chapter and the chapter must provide these credentials to the CCB President and Treasurer prior to a Convention. More on the credentials aspect later.
Before we get to the issue of chapter votes available to the delegates, here are some answers to some common clarification questions that may arise regarding membership and, especially, delegates:
Can you belong to more than one chapter? Yes, but you can be counted for voting strength at a CCB Convention by only one (your "home" chapter); can vote for a delegate and an alternate from only one; and, can only pay dues to CCB from one chapter (Constitution: Article 8, Section 8.10).
Can you serve as a delegate or alternate delegate from more than one chapter? No (Constitution: Article 13, Section 13.9).
Can a member of the CCB Board of Directors serve as a delegate or alternate delegate? Yes (Constitution: Article 13, Section 13.8).
Are the chapter votes that are to be cast by the delegate done so in secret? No. They must be cast not only "publicly" (Constitution: Article 13, Section 13.2) but "orally" (Bylaws:, Article 2, Section 2.3).
How many chapter votes will a delegate get to cast? The answer to this one may appear a little tricky at first blush, but not to worry--I've done the math for you! We're on to the CCB Bylaws now, Article 2, Section 2.1. With chapter membership from 10 through 25, the bottom line number of chapter votes is 5. An additional chapter vote is granted for each group of 5 new members above 25, except that (and here's the nifty part) the additional vote is actually granted whenever the majority of that particular 5 comes on board. In other words, a chapter with 28 members will have 6 votes as the twenty-eighth member joins. So, chapter vote number 7 is available at the thirty-third member is enrolled and chapter vote number eight is at thirty-eighth, and so on. The maximum number of chapter votes available is 25 reflecting a membership of 123 or more.
For those interested in specifics, I offer the following: 10-27: 5, 28-32: 6, 33-37: 7, 38-42: 8, 43-47: 9, 48-52: 10, 53-57: 11, 58-62: 12, 63-67: 13, 68-72: 14, 73-77: 15, 78-82: 16, 83-87: 17, 88-92: 18, 93-97: 19, 98-102: 20, 103-107: 21, 108-112: 22, 113-117: 23, 118-122: 24, 123 or more: 25.
I honestly don't know whether or not any chapter has ever enrolled 123 members and has had 25 chapter votes available. Perhaps, one knowledgeable of the history of CCB could let us know.
Let's look now to statewide affiliates (Constitution: Article 9). While chapters generally are local in nature, the statewide affiliates are organizations whose members have a common interest. Some of these organizations are unique to California while others have a national or even an international connection. Please visit the CCB website to get additional contact and other information on these super organizations.
All of the privileges and duties, etc., of the chapters described in Article 8 also extends to the statewide affiliates (Constitution: Article 9, Section 9.1). Additionally, an individual can be a member of either or both without any conflict and, if you were, you would be a member of CCB (Constitution: Article 9, Section 9.2). As long as we're at this item, let's clear up the matter of membership: a person can be a member of more than one chapter (Constitution: Article 8, Section 8.10) but a "home chapter" must be declared whenever the chapter's membership list is submitted to the Council; you may vote for a delegate and an alternate delegate in only one chapter. Were you to belong to both a chapter and a statewide affiliate, you would get to vote for both a chapter delegate and alternate from each but were you to attend a convention, you would have one vote as a CCB member (i.e., it wouldn't matter under which banner you would be casting your individual vote).
The statewide affiliates also elect delegates who perform representational and voting functions identical with chapter delegates. The number of affiliate votes available is, however, established at 5 irrespective of affiliate membership over the required minimum of 10. Please note also that dues from statewide affiliates to the CCB are not reckoned on the basis of number of members in the affiliate (Constitution: Article 9, Section 9.2; Bylaws: Article 3, Section 3.2).
So you've been elected as a delegate or alternate delegate by your chapter or statewide affiliate, your organization has forwarded your credentials, you've pre-registered, have arrived at the Convention hotel, have met up with the superfine folks at the CCB Registration table and signed in and received your packet and are good to go! Among other goodies in your packet, you'll find your name tag that bears a little stick-on or other kind of mark that indicates you're a dues-paid-up voting member and mean business! This ID badge must be displayed at all meeting sessions especially if you were likely to cast the chapter or statewide affiliate votes in your charge or your own vote, or both. After greeting all the great folks you come across, after attending the technology and rehabilitation services presentations that usually occur mid-Thursday and the "First Timers" get-together hosted by the convention First-timers Committee (if it's your very first convention), you'll want to attend the CCB Board Meeting Thursday evening, and get yourself mentally prepared for your first official assignment on Friday: it's the meeting of the CCB Credentials Committee, on which occasion your name will be spoken aloud and you'll be asked whether or not you are indeed the delegate or alternate delegate of the Brand New Sunshine Chapter of the CCB and if the chapter vote information is correct. This is one of three convention committees whose dedicated members work diligently on behalf of all the chapters and statewide affiliates to insure that delegates are properly recognized and authorized to cast organizational votes. One more quick item here: at the spring convention, you'll be asked to name your organization's representative to the Nominations Committee (incidentally, the CCB President is an ex officio member of all affiliates and all committees except this one, but does appoint the Chair).
You'll probably need another cup of coffee before you hit the Friday sessions and the exhibit hall as the Credentials Committee meets rather early in the morning. The other two very hard-working convention committees of course are the Resolutions Committee and the Nominations Committee.
It's Friday evening at the fall convention, the Credentials Committee has made its report announcing the names of all the delegates and the number of organizational votes they can cast, the first of the nominees for an officer or board position named by the Nominations Committee, the presiding officer calls for additional nominations, someone is named from the floor, the individual agrees that he or she is available to serve and nominating and seconding speeches have been given on behalf of both these fine candidates. Whew! Now we're ready to vote. The voting order is: individual members first by secret ballot, then affiliates (called alphabetically) via their delegates. An interesting question arises: If some members of an affiliate favor one candidate and others favor the other, can a delegate split the affiliate votes and present them as such? Yes, it's done quite commonly. How the members manage to caucus and get their voices heard is inspiring. Credit the age of technology and the American way!
One final item and we're done. Your serving as a delegate is critical in yet another way. In order for the Council to conduct business a quorum must be present and it is described in the Constitution, Article 5, Section 5.3: "one third of the delegates or their alternates and at least 50 individual voting members must be present and voting ... "--nothing better than a Constitutional encouragement to show up for those very important Sunday morning sessions! Delegates should make travel plans accordingly.
Have fun at the Convention!Return to the Table of Contents
Guide Dogs for the Blind and HumanWare are pleased to announce that the Victor Reader Stream will become an integral part of the curriculum at Guide Dogs for the Blind in the early fall of 2008. The Victor Reader Stream players will allow students attending Guide Dogs for the Blind to read and navigate through class materials, providing them with unprecedented access to materials on campus and beyond.
"All information will be in the DAISY format (digital accessible information system) which can be read by the Victor Reader Stream," says Michael Hingson, president of The Michael Hingson Group, technical consultant for the new program. "When played on the Victor Reader Stream, the recorded data can be navigated much like a print book, allowing the reader to move from chapter to chapter, section to section or jump directly to any page."
Over the past three years, Guide Dogs for the Blind has been conducting a total makeover of their training program, especially concerning how information is presented to their students. Now with the addition of the Victor Reader Stream, students will have all needed documentation available at their fingertips at any time.
"The Victor Reader Stream offers blind people an enhanced reading experience, and we are excited to see it used in a true educational way at Guide Dogs for the Blind," says Gerry Chevalier, Victor Reader Product Manager at HumanWare. "This is the first time we have seen the Stream be fully integrated into any educational environment."
The Victor Reader Stream, which normally sells to blind users for approximately $330, will be available to Guide Dogs students for $150 to take home following class. All general take-home materials from GDB (including all state access legislation concerning guide dogs, and information about traveling internationally with guide dogs such as access rules and regulations from many countries) will be contained on the Victor Reader Stream.Return to the Table of Contents
In my last article "Bring Notetaker, Travel the World of Your Imagination" in the summer, 2008 BC, I mentioned some of the many ways that the ability to write can positively impact our lives and the lives of others. The goal was to motivate you to attend the Writers' Workshop described in that article. Writing can be an important part of our jobs, helps in social situations, and can even inspire people to action.
Possibly you're not sure you have something you want to say through writing. But let's stop and think. Have any of these things happened to you? You started attending a new school or college and found innovative ways to get oriented and make friends. You landed that job you wanted and were resourceful at establishing yourself there with your adaptive technology and fitting in socially. You figured out a low-tech solution to an everyday challenge around the house, garden, grocery store, or dealing with your responsibilities as a parent. Maybe you developed ways to entertain the grandchildren despite your vision loss. Perhaps painful experiences or trial-and-errors taught you how to successfully adjust to not being employed anymore.
Or how about these situations: You struggled with social isolation, feelings of fear and alienation that your vision loss played a part in. Or you went through a rough period at work that you wish could have been handled differently, or that some type of assistance could have given you a hand up with. Possibly, getting connected at your senior center, house of worship or neighborhood was awkward for you.
It is easy to see how we and others can benefit from our triumphs and reflections on what made them successful. It's not so obvious, however, with the less comfortable ones. But why waste a perfectly good so-called negative happening by refusing to look at it and learn something from it? Yes, tooting our own horns about our accomplishments feels great and can help others in similar circumstances in so many ways. Yet even more valuable may be the perspective we gain that comes only through time and adversity.
Expressing in words on a page what happened, how we got through it, and what useful things we learned can all be liberating for us. Emotional healing and a boost of our courage to go on are just two beneficial byproducts of writing. The practical problem-solving and emotional support given to our peers by writing them down extends the meaning of the experience.
Hopefully, you are now ready to share your knowledge or your story with your CCB community and beyond. The Publications Committee looks forward to seeing you at our workshop at the fall convention, on Thursday morning from 10 a.m. to noon, October 23. The workshop is free and will help equip you, for example, to write an interesting article that could appear in this very magazine some day. Plus you'll have fun gathering with your fellow CCB members and friends. Please let the office know of your plans to attend the workshop.Return to the Table of Contents
Do you enjoy having fun? Does learning about almost anything you might imagine that can be of benefit to you in your daily life as a blind or low vision person appeal to you? Does the idea of meeting people from all over the nation who have similar experiences to yours and with whom you can share, sound like something you'd appreciate? If you attended the American Council of the Blind convention, from July 4-12, or have attended previous ACB conventions, you'll know that all of these things and much more are in store for you if you attend next year's convention in Orlando, Florida, July 3-11.
I am not going to attempt to catalogue all of the interesting happenings at this year's convention, but just provide some of the highlights of that experience. At the outset, let me thank my alternate delegate, CCB Treasurer Chris Gray, for his assistance in that endeavor.
Any article on the ACB convention that fails to mention the array of special-interest affiliates and committees would fall short in its effort to illustrate how incredible this event can really be. Social workers, teachers, small business owners, library users, attorneys and guide dog users, just to mention a few, provide a dizzying number of afternoon workshop opportunities on all sorts of topics. If you preferred something on the lighter side, then you may have been better off going to a cave or the Louisville Slugger Factory, a local candy factory or Makers Mark Distillery, or maybe just taking a carriage ride. The ACB exhibit area provided all sorts of opportunities, from acquiring knowledge about everything from technology for those with visual impairments to the best daily living aids and the gift ideas around, and to network with some of the most-respected individuals in the blindness field.
Sunday evening's opening general session is different from others in several ways. First, since you don't begin sitting with your state delegations until Monday morning's session, you never quite know what kind of new friends you might make. These sessions always have a keynote speaker, and this time we heard from a former Miss Kentucky, whose mother is blind. Her mantra was "follow your dreams," and that kind of vision and tenacity often leads to incredible results. Another feature is an ACB President's report, with this one being the first report from our own Mitch Pomerantz. The tremendous economic turn-around for ACB; the victory we continue to win against the Treasury Department with respect to making currency accessible to persons who are blind or visually impaired; and the fine work being done throughout the nation and CCB country; all of these and more made President Pomerantz's speech truly uplifting.
Finally, conventioneers received a real thrill when President Pomerantz introduced CCB member Jessie Acosta. For those of you who are unacquainted with Jessie, you have really missed something. The fact that Jessie is a blinded Iraqi war veteran, with other additional medical issues caused by his wounds, is amazing enough. Add to this the fact that he has come home to his wife and daughter and forged a new life for himself, which not only includes making things better for disabled veterans but also doing what he can to assist blind and visually impaired individuals. In this regard, Jessie recently testified before a congressional committee in Washington, D.C. on behalf of the American Council of the Blind concerning our telecommunications legislation, and his testimony made a profound impact on his listeners.
One of the highlights of the Monday morning session was the presentation of awards. For those of us in the California delegation, the high point came with the presentation of the first annual Hollis K. Liggett award for the outstanding affiliate newsletter or magazine of the year. As many of you know, the winner was the Blind Californian; and Bernice Kandarian, chair of the CCB Publications Committee, was absolutely thrilled to accept the award on behalf of CCB and BC Editor Mike Keithley. Congratulations to the BC Editor and the Publications Committee.
That session held something for almost everyone. The president of the Louisville Historical League provided us with fascinating and fun information about the history of Louisville and places to see while we were there. Chris Gray reported on the American Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired, a project whose ultimate goal is to establish not only a facility that will house ACB, but also be a place that will play a far wider role in the blindness field.
John Rae, First Vice President, Alliance for Equality of Blind Canadians, spoke to us about the many issues that both blind Americans and blind Canadians share in our quest to make life better for persons who are blind or visually impaired. He emphasized how working together can make us stronger than we are as individual organizations. However, my own favorite speaker of the convention, who immediately followed Mr. Ray, was Jean Parker, a long-time blind radio journalist, who has been stationed in India for several years. The advantages and disadvantages of a blind, white, female journalist earning her living in developing countries had us riveted to our chairs. Whether covering the cataclysmic 2005 tsunami or the many problems facing the poor of India, Ms. Parker has been extremely successful and is, in my book, a truly amazing individual.
And speaking of amazing people, Ms. Parker was followed by two very incredible people whom we in California know so well: Linda Dardarian and Lainey Feingold. I won't summarize their remarks, as anyone who keeps up with CCB events should already be aware of most of what they were discussing, but suffice it to say that their reception by the ACB audience was almost as wildly enthusiastic as it is when they visit our own conventions.
Before turning to Tuesday's session, I want to comment on an aspect of every ACB convention that I have not addressed in prior reports, namely the ACB Recreation Zone. At every convention, Oral Miller, past ACB president, and others give attendees an opportunity to participate in various recreational activities. This time, one of the big hits of the zone was indoor rowing. The inclusion of the Recreation Zone at every convention gives you an indication of just how much ACB tries to do to ensure that there will be something for everyone.
Those of you who read Jeff Lovitky's recent Braille Forum article detailing how personal his commitment has been to ACB's accessible currency case, will understand why it was such a pleasure to hear Mr. Lovitky on Tuesday morning. ACB is truly blessed to have Jeff as our legal counsel in this case, and his work will certainly leave a legacy for ACB and himself in the cause of disability rights. On a related note, the federal government had a consultant at the ACB convention concerning access to currency, and many members were able to provide survey input.
Every year the ACB convention features a segment in which all of that year's scholarship winners are introduced. It is incredibly uplifting to see so many gifted blind and visually impaired students and the wide range of careers they are pursuing. CCB's own Lana Lee was one of the scholarship recipients. It was great to see her and her husband get the full flavor of their first ACB convention.
This session also featured a presentation from a friend of all of us at CCB: John Glass from bookshare.org. The success that Bookshare has had, and the grant that it has received to enable it to assist blind and visually impaired children, are a tribute to that outstanding company and its employees. Paul Schroeder, from the American Foundation for the Blind, spoke briefly on the accessibility of recreational equipment. With some devices, low-tech solutions can solve many problems. In those instances where they can't, some progress has been made, but we have a long way to go.
Tuesday's session ended with a stirring speech from Congressman Ben Chandler from Lexington, Kentucky. As one who works in the legislative arena, I don't make such statements lightly, but his actions, even more than his remarks, clearly showed that he is a friend of the blind.
Wednesday night's second annual auction was another rousing success, raising more than $24,000 for ACB; although it did take a slice out of many pocketbooks. I think many of us that hung in until the bitter end almost dropped in our tracks, but a good time was had by all.
Wednesday's speakers included Chris Kucyznski from the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. This blind attorney, a long-time commission employee, addressed many issues with respect to ADA and other items. He informed us about the written guidance that the EEOC has produced pertaining to those with visual disabilities. One of the annual highlights of ACB conventions is a presentation of an NLS narrator, and I need only mention the name of Mitzi Friedlander to enable most of you to know that this was, indeed, a rare treat. She is the leader in the number of books read for NLS, and to many she is unrivaled in her ability to make talking books a truly wonderful experience. Not surprisingly, she told us of her love of the theater, in which she is quite active in Louisville. Her wit, charm, love of her work and of those for whom she does it shined brightly through her remarks.
Sometimes you can combine education and entertainment into a neat package, and that was just what ACB Secretary Marlaina Lieberg, ACB Governmental Affairs Director Eric Bridges and his counterpart from the American Foundation for the Blind, Marc Reichert, did when they held an enlightening and rather hilarious discussion of ACB's telecommunications legislation: HR6320. This bill, which involves video description, television information provided on the screen, the Internet, and more, is an item that all of us need to be working on to gain the support of our congressional representatives.
Mike Calvo, head of Serotech, is a true pioneer in our community; and it was a pleasure to hear from him. His company makes free screen-reading software that can be plugged into any computer, so as to make it Internet-accessible to those with a visual impairment. Just think what an advantage it can be to go to a hotel, or library and be able to use their computer. He informed us that they have a program to provide this software to any blind pupil in grades kindergarten through 12, and it's free.
As chair of a voting taskforce appointed by President Pomerantz, I briefly told the convention of our discussions regarding the potential for secret balloting to replace the standing vote used by the ACB during convention. Although, at least so far as I am aware, we have used secret balloting in CCB since the beginning, it is a somewhat more daunting task to use this practice with a body that is three or four times larger than ours. Thursday's session also featured a panel on distance learning, which included former ACB Treasurer Brian Charlson, from the Carroll Center in Massachusetts. It is exciting to know that distance learning, which has been such an important tool for the sighted community in recent years, is rapidly becoming so for the blind or visually impaired as well.
It is of great interest that we next heard a discussion of stem cell research and its use in curing eye diseases. I won't attempt to describe all that was said about this pioneering work, but I'd like to make you aware that the CCB Fall convention will also be featuring a speaker on this topic. Thursday's session concluded with reports from Melanie Brunson, ACB's executive director, Treasurer Mike Godino and convention chair Carla Ruschivall. Suffice it to say that these reports were quite upbeat, given the great economic and advocacy news.
I do want to mention the introduction of a high-energy staff person to ACB. Dena Wilson, who will be in charge of fund-raising for the organization, combines knowledge and enthusiasm to her job in a way that will, excuse the pun, pay dividends.
As for the convention, I need only tell you that, other than Las Vegas, this was the biggest ACB has had in at least a dozen years. Given these difficult economic times, this is a clear sign that our organization is growing and thriving.
As usual, Friday is set aside for business. Elections were held for the Board of Publications and the Board of Directors. Ken Stewart, whom we in CCB share with New York, was re-elected to the Board of Publications, and Marsha Dresser from Massachusetts and Judy Jackson from Texas were newly elected to that board. Billie Jean Keith from Virginia and David Trot from Alabama were re-elected to the Board of Directors; and Michael Garrett from Texas, Marsha Farrow from Georgia, and former president of the Washington Council of the Blind, and CCB member Beryl Colley were newly elected to the board.
The convention also acted upon many resolutions that day, including several derived from CCB actions or from CCB members. For example, the convention adopted a resolution based upon one adopted at our spring convention pertaining to website access or other accommodations by airlines. Another resolution submitted by our own Winifred Downing urged the Braille Association of North America to examine the Nemeth Uniform Braille System as part of its effort to come up with a new English Braille Code.
Friday evening was all about fun. Tuck Tinsley, from the American Printing House for the Blind, and one of the icons in the field of braille, gave an incredibly interesting and humorous talk about some of the historical moments in APH and ACB history. In addition, various awards were presented at the banquet, including an award to a gentleman whose history in ACB is almost as venerable as our own Cathie Skivers: Ed "Doc" Bradle from Texas.
And don't think for one minute that next year's convention will be any the less exciting. From July 3-10, 2009, in one of the most great leisure locations in America, Orlando, home of all those wonderful Disney theme parks, ACB will do it again or, perhaps more appropriate to the Louisville Slugger Factory, "knock it out of the park." So if you want to have fun, learn a lot, meet wonderful people, and help to make life better for those of us with visual impairments, Orlando will, indeed, be the place to be in July, 2009.Return to the Table of Contents
Fellow CCB Members and Friends: This note is to acknowledge and thank those of you who are able and have participated in ACB's Monthly Monetary Support (MMS) program and who have designated funds also to go to the California Council of the Blind. Your participation grew throughout 2007 and continues to grow in 2008. As CCB Treasurer, I want to thank you and let you know that these contributions really do matter. Here is what you did for CCB in 2007:
First Quarter: $333.75; Second Quarter: $533.75; Third Quarter: $611.25; Fourth Quarter: $771.25; Total: $2250.00. Let's continue to make this a growing part of CCB's revenue picture.
Many CCB members contribute to our organization in other ways as well. Let's not lose sight of such contributions. MMS is not for everybody, and I understand that. For those who can contribute in this way, though, it does represent a very tangible benefit to CCB.
Thank you, all.
ChrisReturn to the Table of Contents
We are deeply saddened to announce that Center member Alice Chavez Pardini passed away of cancer on June 10, 2008. She was 52 years old.
Alice was born and raised in Castroville. Throughout her exciting life, she was a survivor. She lost her sight at the age of three. When she was ten, Alice entered the California School for the Blind, where she demonstrated her strength, courage and extraordinary mobility skills by frequently leaving the campus and exploring the neighborhood on her own.
She was bright and unstoppable. If she was determined to accomplish a certain task, she usually succeeded in doing it. After high school, she took classes in Word and data processing at Lainey College, found herself a job, got help buying a house in San Pablo and raised two children. Tragically, she lost a third child, two-year-old Violet, when they were both hit by a car.
Alice was tender, loving and generous. She cared deeply and sincerely about her family and friends and lived life to the fullest. She worked very hard, enjoyed herself immensely and had lots of fun. Alice was an avid shopper and traveler. She loved parties and put people at ease with her warmth, bubbly personality and infectious laughter. She was always the "Belle of the Ball."
Her enthusiasm knew no bounds. Whether it was staffing the registration table at a Berkeley Council of the Blind technology seminar or labeling dozens of audiobooks at the Berkeley-based East Bay Center for the Blind, Inc., her energy was phenomenal.
About two years ago, she began working as a customer service representative for the IRS. She studied hard and soon became one of the top reps in the Oakland office. Alice received a couple of awards and was written up in the IRS employee newsletter. She was so proud of being able to take call after call without stopping, an incredible achievement for someone who hadn't been on the job for a long time.
In recent years, Alice lived with, and later married, former CCB Treasurer and current Board member Peter Pardini. Their strongly bonded and loving relationship blossomed and quickly grew throughout their six years together. They brought out the best qualities in one another. Friends and relatives who witnessed this intense demonstration of deep mutual affection, admiration and respect couldn't help but be extremely moved after spending time with Alice and Peter.
Alice is survived by her loving husband Peter; her daughter Melodie Tarr and husband Zach; her son Rico Fountain; her mother, stepfather, father and many siblings; and her seven grandchildren: Bobby, Christopher, Conner, Isaac, Ariyana, Vivian and Rico.
Her family asks that donations be made to The East Bay Center for the Blind, Inc., in her memory. EBCB's address is 2928 Adeline St.; Berkeley, CA 94703. For more information, call 510-843-6935, email email@example.com, or visit www.eastbaycenterfortheblind.org. Alice will be greatly missed by many people. May her soul rest in peace!
[Editor's note: CCB's San Francisco chapter has renamed its annual education grant the Alice Chavez Pardini Education Advancement Grant, and the committee in charge of this annual grant is including a brief bio of Alice in its application form.]
It is with deep regret that we announce the passing of veteran Center member Patricia Rose Byrnes on June 4, 2008. For forty years, Patricia gave thousands of newly blinded Californians the gift of literacy by teaching braille and typewriting at the Orientation Center for the Blind. Her impact on the blind community was tremendous.
Patricia was born and raised in Nebraska and attended the Nebraska School for the Blind. She moved to California as a teenager.
She was a very private person; but she exuded joy from a love of life that was infectious. She played several musical instruments, including mandolin, flute and guitar, and attended folk music conventions around the state.
Patricia was an outspoken progressive, and she didn't hesitate to let people know where she stood politically. As a member of both the CCB Alameda County Chapter and the Berkeley-based East Bay Center for the Blind, Inc., she demonstrated her great concern for the welfare of blind persons. Her generosity was boundless.
She was a magnificently proficient braillist and a voracious reader. She felt that without braille skills, blind persons were functionally illiterate. In recent years, she tutored sighted elementary school children in reading.
For many years, Patricia served on the board of Blind San Franciscans, which, among other things, provided loans to blind persons for the purchase of adaptive technology equipment and software.
She was proud of the EBCB's braille library, and she worked diligently and tirelessly to organize books, label shelves and catalog cards. She was one of the staunchest advocates for the wider use and teaching of braille in California and the nation.
Please send donations in memory of Patricia to either Amnesty International or to the Berkeley Humane Society of the East Bay, whose address is 2700 9th St.; Berkeley, CA 94710.
Patricia was a devoted CCB and EBCB member. She donated both time and money to help both organizations grow and prosper. We appreciate her many and varied contributions throughout the past several decades, and we'll miss her very much.Return to the Table of Contents
Since 2002, ACB has been engaged in a valiant effort to have U.S. paper currency made accessible to blind and visually impaired people. This compilation doesn't deal with what has gone before--for a summary of that, read "Court Decides in Favor of Accessible Currency" in the July, 2008 Braille Forum. Rather, it is concerned with happenings after the May 20, 2008 court decision in ACB's favor. On July 30, 2008 the House Subcommittee on Domestic and International Monetary Policy, Trade and Technology solicited testimonies from interested parties, and written statements are covered here. There were three: two from ACB and one by NFB.
First, I want to thank you, on behalf of the membership of the American Council of the Blind (ACB), for the opportunity to speak with you this morning, and for the interest the members of this subcommittee have taken in the issues surrounding the need for tactilely identifiable paper currency.
The American Council of the Blind was founded in 1961 and currently has members in all 50 states. The majority of our members have visual impairments.
ACB's mission is to increase the independence, equality of opportunity, and quality of life for all blind and visually impaired Americans. We believe that one way to increase independence, enhance opportunity, and improve the quality of life for blind Americans is to ensure that they can identify the denominations of their own bank notes without the assistance of someone who is sighted. Since the exchange of bank notes is a key component of so many transactions engaged in by our society today, we believe that the recognition that people who have visual impairments should be able to conduct their part of such exchanges independently is imperative.
The rate of unemployment among people who are visually impaired is unacceptably high. Job opportunities which are now at best limited, and sometimes even unavailable to people who are blind, would be opened to us if we could identify paper money as efficiently as sighted people do. This is particularly significant for young people and other first-time job seekers who are looking for entry level positions in stores and restaurants so that they can gain the work experience necessary to advance in their chosen careers. Such jobs generally center on customer service transactions, most of which involve money. Certainly, there are blind people who currently work in cash-intensive business situations, but they are forced to rely on the honesty of colleagues and customers, or to rely on currency reading technology that is inefficient and often unreliable. At its best, such technology requires the user to keep others waiting while money is being scanned and identified, thereby decreasing the level of the user's performance. Money identifiers are slow, frequently inaccurate, and useless in noisy environments. It is common knowledge that blind people who are required to complete cash transactions quickly, such as cashiers in vending facilities, frequently rely on other people and not their technology to identify the cash involved, because they cannot get the information from technology quickly enough to keep the customers moving efficiently through the line.
This has two unfortunate results. First of all, it takes time. Seeking verification from another person isn't necessarily any faster than using a note scanner. Secondly, this process requires that a blind person either make an issue of his or her visual impairment, or risk being defrauded. The fact is that while most people are honest, I can personally testify to instances from my own experience, and could provide a significant amount of anecdotal evidence from others that would show that this is not a proposition the blind community can rely on. Blind people do get defrauded because of their inability to ascertain the value of U.S. bank notes. If we are to be truly accepted as equal partners in the workplaces, cultural activities and economic life of this society, it is imperative that the United States government design and issue bank notes that we can identify independently. As stated earlier, we believe that currency readers are a very poor substitute for bank notes that are readily distinguishable without vision. Each time the bank notes are redesigned, users are required to return currency readers back to the factory to be updated for a fee.
Over 180 countries around the world have found ways to incorporate tactile features into their bank notes, which enable blind and visually impaired people to distinguish notes of one denomination from another. They have also taken steps to enhance visual distinctions between denominations. The specific tactile features used vary from country to country and it is not our intention to express a preference for any particular type of tactile feature. However, we do wish to make it clear to this committee that we believe it is both imminently possible and absolutely essential that this country, which has led the rest of the world through a myriad of technological, scientific and economic innovations for so long, now join the rest of the world in making it possible for blind and visually impaired people to engage in financial transactions with dignity and independence.
We recognize that what we are seeking may take time to implement, and we are very willing to allow a reasonable amount of time for the design and implementation processes. We are not as concerned about the speed of implementation as we are about the certainty of action to address this issue. Our goal is a meaningful effort on the part of the Treasury Department to ascertain the most appropriate manner in which to provide currency that is independently identifiable by people who are visually impaired, and to incorporate such identification features into U.S. currency within a reasonable time. The measures will appropriately address the accessibility of currency if the Department of the Treasury can demonstrate that they are effectively usable by the largest number of blind and visually impaired persons possible.
In conclusion, I want to thank the Subcommittee on Domestic and International Monetary Policy, Trade, and Technology for taking an interest in this issue. It is our sincere hope that the members of this subcommittee, and indeed the members of the House Committee on Financial Services, will support the efforts of the American Council of the Blind to obtain accessible currency in the United States.
Introduction: Chairman Gutierrez, Ranking Member Paul, and members of the Subcommittee, thank you for the opportunity to participate in this hearing on the accessibility of U.S. currency to blind and low-vision Americans. My name is Cyrus Habib, and I have been fully blind since the age of eight. This Fall I will be starting my third year at Yale Law School, an institution which has played a vital role in my advocacy on this particular issue. Last year, a fellow law student, Jonathan Finer, and I worked under the guidance of the law school's dean, Harold Hongju Koh, and a clinical instructor, David Rosen, to draft an amicus brief on behalf of the Perkins School for the Blind in American Council of the Blind v. Paulsen. I have also written in a number of public forums on this issue, including the Washington Post and the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. In doing so, I have chosen to focus on the extent to which the status quo has had an effect on blind employment, rather than on the harms experienced by a blind customer. I have done so because I feel strongly, as do others in the room, that the staggeringly high rate of unemployment experienced by blind Americans constitutes our community's most serious and intractable problem today. In meeting with students and faculty at the Perkins School, the nation's oldest and most highly-regarded educational institution for the blind, my partner and I received disturbing confirmation of our hypothesis: young blind Americans are finding it difficult to obtain entry-level employment because of their inability to verify and exchange currency independently.
BLIND AMERICANS SUFFER SEVERE ECONOMIC HARDSHIP WHEN COMPARED BOTH WITH NON-DISABLED AMERICANS AND WITH AMERICANS WHO SUFFER FROM OTHER FORMS OF DISABILITY. Myriad studies suggest that blindness imposes a severe economic hardship. A 2002 report by the National Academy of Sciences concluded that: "Working-age people with disabilities work less and have less household income than working-age people without disabilities. There are also dramatic differences in the kinds and levels of disabilities within the working age population with disabilities. Those with severe vision impairments are particularly disadvantaged, for they face many barriers in accessing employment."
The study, which focused on data obtained between 1993 and 1996, also compared employment rates among the blind to those of people with other chronic impairments, finding that only those with mental retardation and varying degrees of paralysis had lower employment rates than adult men who were blind in both eyes, less than 50 percent of whom were employed. According to the most recent U.S. Census Bureau's 2002 Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP), of the nearly 3.9 million visually impaired Americans ages 21-64, only 55 percent are employed. Of the 800,000 Americans in that age range with so-called "severe" visual impairments, only 48 percent are employed. By comparison, more than 68 percent of Americans with hearing impairments, both severe and non-severe, are employed, and more than 83 percent of all Americans in that age bracket are employed. With mean annual earnings of $22,106, visually impaired Americans also earn far lower wages than the average American in that age range ($31,840), the average disabled American ($23,034), and the average hearing-impaired American ($27,269).
Data gathered by private research organizations paints an even starker picture. The American Foundation for the Blind estimates that there are 10 million blind or visually impaired Americans, a number arrived at by merging the results of several studies focused on smaller subsets of the population. Of these, around 1.3 million are "legally blind," a status commonly defined as having a visual acuity of 20/200 or less in the better eye, with the best possible correction. AFB has also found that 46 percent of blind and visually impaired adults of working age (18-69) are employed, compared with 74 percent of the sighted public.
Some organizations have concluded that even these more troubling figures understate the severity of unemployment in the visually impaired community due to underreporting, underemployment and other factors. The Cleveland Sight Center, the National Federation of the Blind and the Braille Institute of America have estimated unemployment among the visually impaired at 70 percent or more.
The economic impact of blindness is not only felt by blind and visually impaired individuals, but by American society as a whole. A study published in 2007 and conducted by health economists from Johns Hopkins University and other top research institutions for Prevent Blindness America, a century-old non-governmental organization, estimated the total annual cost of adult vision loss in the American population at $51.4 billion, including $35.4 billion borne by the U.S. economy and $16 billion by the affected individual, caregivers, and others. The study also estimated that these costs would grow rapidly in the coming years, as the nation's 78 million baby-boomers age, and their vision deteriorates. The study's data comport with that obtained in earlier attempts to quantify the economic impact of visual impairments, including studies published in 1981 ($14.1 billion), 1991 ($38.4 billion), and 2003 ($67.6 billion).
THE INABILITY OF BLIND AMERICANS TO USE U.S. CURRENCY INDEPENDENTLY PRECLUDES THEM FROM PARTICIPATING IN ENTRY LEVEL JOBS NECESSARY FOR FINANCIAL INDEPENDENCE. Because a large proportion of entry-level jobs require the ability to manipulate currency independently, blind Americans are effectively shut out of jobs that lead to further economic opportunities. To meet the standard set out in Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, government entities or government-funded organizations must make "reasonable accommodation" to allow disabled persons "meaningful access" to programs and benefits. But the blind lack meaningful access to the very class of jobs that provide the gateway into economic life for millions of Americans.
A recent study of entry-level employment among teenagers by Ronald D'Amico, entitled, "Does Employment During High School Impair Academic Progress?" found that as many as 25 percent of all jobs held by teenagers are in either retail sales or at food service counters, both of which require the ability to manipulate money independently. "More than one in three high school students are employed, and part-time jobs held during this formative period have been shown to boost confidence and educational outcomes (so long as a threshold number of weekly hours is not surpassed)." A study by Charles Hirschman and Irina Voloshin, entitled "The Structure of Teenage Employment: Social Background and the Jobs Held by High School Seniors," provides two explanations for why a teenager might seek employment: economic need and career development (arguing that "students may seek jobs that provide opportunities for achievement, exposure to possible career choices, or to develop ties with persons who could serve as mentors."). "Students are prominent in the food service industry as waiters, waitresses, and busboys in restaurants, cashiers, courtesy clerks, and stockers in grocery stores, and most of all, as employees in fast food establishments," nearly all of which require the employee to independently handle, verify, and exchange cash currency, effectively cutting off the blind from this critical sector of the employment market.
CONCLUSION: Blind Americans face an uphill battle in our struggle to achieve true equality, and nowhere is this reality more apparent than in the workforce. We blind Americans are eager to participate fully in this country's economy, and policy-makers should consider the elimination of obstacles to that participation a financial investment in our workforce.
Every blind teenager who finds it impossible to obtain that all-important entry-level job today may end up applying for disability assistance from the government tomorrow. I will leave it to others here to discuss the logistics of making U.S. currency accessible to the blind, but I will close my remarks by re-iterating that making such changes would go a long way towards ameliorating the tragic problem of blind unemployment in America today.
Thank you for the opportunity to speak before the subcommittee. I welcome your questions.
Good morning Mr. Chairman, my name is Marc Maurer, and I serve as President of the National Federation of the Blind. The National Federation of the Blind was formed in 1940, and it is the oldest and the largest nationwide organization of blind people in the United States. The organization has an affiliate in every state, in the District of Columbia, and in Puerto Rico, and a chapter in most large cities and in a number of small ones.
I come to present the considered opinion of the National Federation of the Blind regarding currency identifiable by blind people. Would it be desirable to have a method for blind people to identify currency independently? Of course, it would. Are blind people able to use the currency today without any modification? Certainly, we are.
The argument has been made that currency which cannot be identified independently by the blind discriminates against blind people. However, blind people use items that are not tactilely identifiable by the blind by the hundreds everyday. The argument about the currency has implications far beyond the money. In the work that I do, I handle some currency, many documents, and a number of affidavits. Very few of these items are identifiable without the assistance either of a piece of technology or a sighted person. I cannot, for example, identify my own checks without somebody else's help. Yet, it would be ridiculous to say that I cannot use them. To argue that a thing must be identifiable by touch or a blind person cannot use it is to cut blind people out of most of the commerce and much of the enjoyment of ordinary transactions of life.
We know that the blind can readily manage currency as it now exists. It would be slightly more convenient to have a method of identifying it without help. However, many of the methods used throughout the world do not work. I have received Canadian bills in my travels which, I was told, had Braille identification symbols on them. These symbols were useless to me.
Some people tell me that bills of different sizes could be produced and that the blind could tell one from another because of their size. Apparently, this system of bill identification has been adopted in many countries. Perhaps, this system is effective, although those who wanted to defraud the blind could artificially modify the size of bills to achieve this result. Furthermore, the currency-handling machinery of the nation is made for only one size of bills, and it would cost a lot to change it. Spending hundreds of millions of dollars for a minimal benefit seems unwise.
Technology has been developed that can reliably identify currency. The KNFB Reader Mobile has a currency identifier in it that a number of blind people have used with outstanding results. A stand-alone currency reader portable enough to carry in a pocket could probably be produced for as little as $100.
One final point should be made. To say that we can't manage money is to argue that we as blind people are helpless. This is not the case. To say that we might be victims of fraud is to argue that we can't imagine methods of protecting ourselves. Such an assertion also urges the unscrupulous to try to prey on our vulnerabilities, be they real or imagined. To describe us as helpless, vulnerable, or incompetent is to paint a picture of blind people so negative that others in society are persuaded to mistrust any ability we have. Can you trust a blind lawyer if he can't even figure out how to manage his money? How can you be sure that your lawyer will be able to handle your transactions if he can't handle his own? These are the unfortunate associations that come from the false and misleading argument that the blind can't manage currency.
The National Federation of the Blind has adopted resolutions about currency in 1994, 2002, and 2008. I attach these for your information. If there is to be a change in the currency, we who represent the largest number of blind people in the nation wish to be involved in crafting that change. Thank you Mr. Chairman and members of the Committee.Return to the Table of Contents
As computers continue to increase in speed and capabilities, so does their vulnerability to malware attacks. Hackers and those whose mission is to bring computers down are also benefiting from the speed and efficiency in which their programs can infect a perfectly clean computer that is unprotected while surfing the Internet.
Most people have the desire to take the initiative to protect themselves, however they believe that it will not happen to them until it is too late. Here is a list of steps that a computer user should consider following in order to keep the computer safe from malware attacks or possible contamination from infected files brought over on a memory card or thumb drive.
The main user account should always have a password and it should only be used to perform administrative tasks.
It is recommended that a separate user account be created on the computer with limited rights and privileges. If more than one person is the user of a particular computer, each should have his own user account with a user-specific and unique password.
Use a different user password than the system administrator password. Using the administrator password is like having an open computer with no password restriction. This means that if an intruding program needs to make changes to the system files and the user account has the same password as the administrator password, chances are that the hackers will be able to make changes to the computer system without the user knowing it.
It is important to get used to using the restricted user account whenever possible, especially when navigating the Internet. Make sure that a firewall is installed and active. If the operating system is a Microsoft product such as Windows 2000, XP or Vista, and you are not using a third party firewall, use the Microsoft provided firewall. The Firewall settings can be found in the control panel under the security settings.
If the network connection is a 802-11-x, commonly known as a wireless connection, it is strongly recommended that a form of encryption be used. The two most common forms of encryption are WEP and WPA. To use either one of these forms of encryption, both the hosting router and computer device must be configure to have matching passwords.
In developing a password, make sure they are not something common like a name, last name, pet name, or a favorite candy. It is best to use a combination of letters and numbers along with some punctuation marks. Be sure to write passwords down and store them in an area outside of public view. Make sure that the selected password is more than 10 characters in length.
Always use a malware protection package such as Grisoft's AVG Security or Eset's Nod32 security suites.
Make sure that security updates are done as often as possible and signature files are up to date.
If an email message is from someone who is unknown, do not open it.
If an email offer looks too good to be true, more than likely it is a trap to obtain information about the person who is replying. This practice is known as phishing.
If a file attachment requests an admin password to execute a file or perform an operation, there is a possibility that the attachment is infected with a virus or is carrying a Trojan, which will manifest itself throughout the computer, especially the contact lists in email programs.
When surfing the Internet and a website needs the admin password, again it could be trying to infect the workstation.
Consider getting a PayPal account to purchase stuff over the Internet.
Use a wired connection whenever possible or enable encryption on the wireless router.Return to the Table of Contents
[Reprinted with permission from Vision Access, Vol 15, No. 1. Rights remain with author]
I'm in a "Prison for One," and I'm doing life. I stand convicted of the visual impairment I've had since birth. I won't say I'm in a "private prison" due to a semantic conflict with the corrections industry. My joint is just for me because my physical eyesight is as unique as myself as an individual. My brain has a large capacity to interpret the blurry, not necessarily flat, physical world. Doctors can assign my vision acuity numbers. They can test me for known eye diseases. They can not grant me parole.
By instinct, I learned to use hearing and an extension of touch to compensate for my vision. I didn't realize I had a visual impairment until I was in kindergarten. In school, I sat in the back, listening as the teacher spoke, often moving her hand across a large yellow piece of paper. At the work tables, I'd recall the lecture, look at the page before me and figure out what to do. The day for my sixth birthday celebration, Mom came with treats for the whole class. At lesson time, Mom told me to sit up front. Obeying her, I sat down, amazed. Our lesson was on that big yellow piece of paper.
Compared to other traumas I'd already experienced in life, coupled with a natural athletic ability, it was easy for me to ignore my cell for a few more years. On the outside, my classmates were surpassing me with the power of non-verbal communication, as well as in reading and sports. When lockdown finally came, so did a sense of immobility, being down and out, wondering where I can fit in professionally and socially.
I still wanted to be "normal." I felt dumb because I couldn't read 200 pages in one night. Leaving one's seat to see the blackboard was and is considered disruptive behavior. When I was 30, I realized that a lot of human interaction is founded upon non-verbal behaviors, especially in group situations. These are little nuances of facial muscles, following a group conversation with one's eyes, or getting in line to speak. I can't become fluent in the language, because I can't see it.
No one can physically see the walls of my Prison for One. They only see my actions. I'm only trying to see, to gather information that sighted people gather by instinct. I look at people cross-eyed. Many people interpret this "behavior" as hostility. Standing up against classroom and workplace taunts and maltreatment is termed "misbehaving."
Many cultures place the eyes as the window to the soul. The social services professions are full of people who equate physical eyesight perceptual differences with mental dysfunction.
Yes, I feel the frustration, the waste; the doors locked with latest tech security systems. I know my high intelligence is institutionally crushed. I do not have a "learned smile," an "everything is good" ending. Nor is this a romantic tragedy. It's just my reality.Return to the Table of Contents
[reprinted with permission from Vision Access, Vol. 15, No. 1]
The title of this publication, Vision Access, is appropriate for a variety of reasons. One is because of the two meanings of the word "vision": 1. Vision--the ability to see; eyesight. 2. Vision--foresight; wisdom; insight. Let's call them eyesight/vision and wisdom/vision. Most of us will never achieve "good" or normal eyesight, but how we deal with our disability might be an indicator of our wisdom/vision.
First, as an aside, it is important to let others know how we see so they can better understand. For the person with low vision, the mind can see clearly what the eyes physically see as if looking through a fogged windowpane. My parents did not know how I saw things; they knew my vision was poor and took me to the "eye doctor" for glasses. But if they had known how I saw things--of my blurred world, of my night blindness, of my lack of depth perception, of my sensitivity to sunlight--they might have met my needs better. To let those around us know how we see the world helps both us and them.
A recent study has shown that some children who are afraid of the dark are not seeking attention but really are suffering from night blindness. The study concluded that it is important to get as many details about how a child sees in the dark when children are afraid of the dark. This is particularly important if there is a family history of vision problems. This element of fear and hesitation can follow a child through his lifetime, causing shyness and fueling introvertedness. Overcoming this fear of risk is a lifelong learning experience on the journey to wisdom/vision.
Low vision comes with embarrassing moments: misidentifying people, knocking over a glass of water, tripping on a curb, finding the wrong gender restroom, etc. Being able to later laugh about these gaffes starts us on the way to wisdom/vision.
Having knowledge does not equate with having wisdom. Nor does having keen eyesight guarantee having keen foresight. No one has a monopoly on wisdom. It seems to come with age and thoughtful living and compassionate acting, and with learning patience and faith. In Vision Access Vol. 5, No. 4, Jennifer Rothschild wrote: "God is using my life to point people to what it means to trust Him with your whole heart. My limitations can be a springboard that helps me focus wholly on the goodness of God. Sometimes we pay too much attention to how God has brought us through trials. Keep walking by Faith. The joy is in the journey, growing and learning as we go."
Good vision, or wisdom, seem to be a trait that is acquired over time by souls who ask questions and do a lot of reflecting. People with low vision have to ask a lot of questions to survive. Joyce Kleiber, editor of Vision Access, referred to people with low vision as "scavengers," always looking for clues to understand what is around them, and they have to concentrate on their actions and think before they proceed.
Also in Vision Access Vol. 5, Nos. 1 and 2, Jodie Gilmore wrote: "To me a vista is a collage of colors and a sense of space....I may not be able to see birds in the sky but I can still treasure the trumpet of geese .... The trick is not to yearn after what is unavailable, but to appreciate what we've been given." That is a statement of true vision.
Yes, for the important things in life, we see most clearly with the heart, not the eyes. Likewise, when judging character, we are not here to see through one another but to see one another through. A person with low vision learns that early! We all need help to be independent!
Here are some quotations about true vision:
"The common eye sees only the outside of things, and judges by that, but the seeing eye pierces through and reads the heart and soul...."--Mark Twain
"The highest form of wisdom is kindness."--The Talmud
Charles Dickens said, "A loving heart is the truest wisdom."
And Shakespeare: "Love looks not with the eyes but with the heart."
Looking on the bright side of things does improve one's vision. For us, people with low vision, things always become new after we find out what we are really seeing. In The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint Exupery, the Fox says: "And now here is my secret, a very simple secret: It is only with the heart that one can see rightly. What is essential is invisible to the eye."
Vision, I believe, is not so much a matter of eyes that can see clearly, as it is of a mind that is willing to search and a heart that is willing to trust. Thus, you see, we do not need "good" eyesight to possess "good" vision.
Accepting ourselves, low vision and all, as we are, accepting others as they are, accepting our lot in life--with gratitude--THAT IS MY DEFINITION OF HOPE AND FAITH -- AND WISDOM/VISION!Return to the Table of Contents
Hello again! As I write to you, it's another hot and very humid day here in Southern California, which makes it hard to think about the fact that summer will be winding down by the time this reaches you. I hope yours was a fun and enjoyable few months and that you will share any "lighter side" moments with us.
The story for this issue comes to me from our very own editor. Thanks, Mike, for sharing! I believe it's a story many of us can relate to.
"This probably could only happen to a blind person with a hearing impairment. I went to the SMCCB picnic on a warm Saturday afternoon. A lady introduced herself and asked what I wanted, chicken or lasagna. "Chicken, a drumstick and a thigh," I said.
"She returned a few minutes later with my food and explained that there were leaves blowing around so I should brush them off my chicken. I noticed something blowing around so that made sense.
"While I ate, we talked and I gradually became aware she had said "bees" not leaves. Bees! No wonder that last bite tasted strange.
"I was very lucky."
Oh yes! He was indeed very lucky! Until next time, stay safe and remember to look on the lighter side.Return to the Table of Contents
Hollis K. Liggett was editor of the Braille Free Press, an Alternative newsletter inside the National Federation of the Blind, and generally recognized as precursor of the Braille Forum. This year, the ACB Board of Publications inaugurated a new annual award in his name to reward excellence in affiliate publications. The first one was presented at the recent ACB convention to CCB for the Blind Californian.
The plaque is a brass plate, mounted on wood, engraved in print and embossed in braille and reads as follows:
"American Council of the Blind, The Hollis K. Liggett Braille Free Press Award, Presented to Mike Keithley and the California Council of the Blind for affiliate newsletter excellence. July 6, 2008, Louisville, KY."Return to the Table of Contents
[Editor's note: from the July, 2008 SVCB In Touch newsletter, published by the Silicon Valley Council of the Blind.]
Although he was not present to receive the CCB Community Service Award at the April CCB convention banquet, Sam Chen is now the proud owner of the beautiful plaque. He was formally given it during the June SVCB membership meeting. Catherine Skivers, CCB Chair of the Awards and History Committee, presented the award to Sam via a speakerphone connection from her home. She told of Sam's many contributions to the blind community, including his translation into Chinese of the CCB booklet "Failing Sight and the Family Plight".
When he was thanking the CCB for the award, Sam said that it was "a special honor for our chapter and it is all about teamwork."
During our phone interview Sam told me that he was born in Taipei, Taiwan. His three older brothers still live in Taiwan, but his younger sister lives in Chicago.
Sam received much of his education in Taipei. In 1968, while a junior in college, he sustained a head injury during a soccer game, which resulted in his vision loss. He said that he was totally blind for the first six months and then got some sight back. Today, he sees finger motion, but cannot count the fingers. He went on to receive his bachelor's degree from Sophia University in Tokyo, his Master's degree from Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo, Michigan, and finally his doctorate from Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, Illinois.
Sam said that he has known Lilly, his wife, since grade school and that she was the "girl next door." When he lost his sight, she was very supportive.
He told me that "One of the best gifts of being blind is that my wife never ages. She is still 18 or 19 and she remains that young."
In 1980, Sam and Lilly came to the United States, bringing their first son Johnny. After that, they had two more sons, Jason, who was born in Illinois, and Michael, who was born in Mississippi, where Sam was teaching rehabilitation counseling at Mississippi State University. He taught there for three years before moving to the bay area in 1987 to work at Telesensory.
SVCB: He has been a member for close to twenty years. He has been its Legislative chair for two years.
CCB: For the past two years, Sam has been in the select group that goes to Washington, DC to lobby and to meet members of Congress.
Tzu Chi, an international Buddhist organization that works with high school drop-outs. It has adopted six schools in San Jose. Sam said that he goes to talk to youth at risk every other week. He also meets with high school and college age members of the organization. He said that there is a need to prepare young people regardless of their background to be better citizens in the community.
Telling stories to his two young grandsons, ages 3 and 5. He tells the stories to them in Chinese after preparing the lesson plan on his computer.
Reading audio books: historical novels and history.
Playing with electronic toys: ipod, mp3 and Victor reader.
Traveling: Sam has traveled all over the world. The only continents he has not visited are South America and Antarctica. He gave me a very long list of the countries he has visited. It would be easier to list the ones he has not. He said that he has not travelled to Eastern Europe, but would like to.
What really pushes your buttons: Many things: when things do not go his way, is expecting something will happen and it does not, running into unexpected objects when walking alone with cane on the sidewalk, especially on the way to a business dinner
Ideal vacation: Hawaii, just returned from Taiwan
What do you like best to do: exercise--going to the gym, listening to audio books while walking in the backyard
Least to do: doing kitchen work
Favorite food: tofu--Sam is a lifelong vegetarian.
Food that you really do not like: do not like the smell of meat or fish
Favorite animal: dog
Favorite movie: THE SOUND OF MUSIC
Favorite kind of music: jazz, trumpet and sax
Book you really liked: The World Is FlatReturn to the Table of Contents
Is it time for a career or job change? How do you know? What does it take to make the change? These are questions that are thought about by some people who have been in one position for a number of years. There are many things to consider when contemplating a job change including anxiety of the unknown, financial impact, type of employment sought and transportation options. Yet one of the most critical points to recognize is that to make a job change, or any type of change, there needs to be enough stress to propel you into action or to make that behavioral change.
Given that action is key to making the job change, this article will focus on three areas to take action to move you in a positive direction towards personal and professional growth. The three areas are: timeline for career development plan, self assessment and job search process.
Even if the "timeline for career development plan" sounds overwhelming, don't stop reading yet! The prospect of the amount of time it will take to find a new job is probably one of the biggest barriers for beginning the job change process. The old adage, looking for a job is like having a full-time job, is definitely true because it does take time to make a change. The question is whether you are stressed enough to initiate action or do the benefits of making a change outweigh the benefits of your current situation? Since looking for a new job while you are working is perceived in a better light, creating a timeline will assist you in moving forward with the career development plan.
The reason to view the process as a career development plan versus a job change is a matter of attitude. By viewing the process as your career development path, the outcome (success) is greater self-awareness, professional and personal growth. You will experience success whether you find a new job or decide to stay in your current position. Whereas, if you view the process from the job search perspective, you will place more pressure on yourself and success only comes when a new job is found.
Create a timeline to achieve the career development plan. While you need to consider your own situation, a suggestion is to plan a six month timeline to achieve your career development plan. Break down the actions into doable steps on a weekly or even daily basis. For example, in the first week, brainstorm and write down your strengths, skills and interests. You can add to this list as the week progresses. The second week, read more about the resources listed below and order some books to read, or identify programs in your community that can assist you in this process and schedule an appointment. Each week commit at least one hour to doing something to move forward towards achieving your career development plan.
As part of the career development plan, it is important to assess if a job change is a good fit for you at this time. Self assessment can be achieved through reading a book; speaking with a career counselor or job specialist at the community college, Regional Occupational Program (ROP) or private practitioner; or taking a career course through the community college, ROP or the Hadley School for the Blind. To learn more about the current trends in your profession or to explore a new career field, read journals, books, surf the web, conduct an informational interview or job shadow someone in the profession of interest. The goal is to research and learn more about the current trends and types of positions available in the field. Do not be surprised if your interests and abilities have changed over time. Your positive experiences, growth opportunities and what you have learned over the years have influenced your current interests and abilities.
The job search is another important aspect of your career development plan. Have and present a positive attitude towards potential opportunities. It probably has been a while since you developed a resume or participated in an interview. Once you have created a resume, get feedback from several people, preferably in the profession where you seek employment. Practice answering interview questions individually and in front of others. Strengthen your communication, writing and technology skills to meet expectations in your profession. The resources below cover these topics in more detail.
If you create a career development plan and spend at least one hour per week for the next 6 months, you will be 26 hours closer to achieving your goal and will have strengthened your personal and professional identity.
The following is a small list from a wide variety of career related resources, and they all are available through RFB&D.
Do What You Love for the Rest of Your Life: A Practical Guide to Career Change and Personal Renewal; Griffiths, Bob; Ballantine Books, 2001,1st ed; RFB&D: DT-MQ504.
Job Strategies for People with Disabilities: Enable Yourself for Today's Job Market; Witt, Melanie Astaire; Peterson's Guides, 1992; RFB&D: AD-DW200.
Questions that Work: How to Ask Questions that Will Help You Succeed in Any Business Situation; Finlayson, Andrew; AMACOM, 2001; RFB&D: DT-MP059.
The 12 Bad Habits that Hold Good People Back: Overcoming the Behavior Patterns that Keep You from Getting Ahead; Waldroop, James; Currency / Doubleday, 2001; 1st ED. ED.; Currency pbk; RFB&D: DT-MQ505.
The Guide to Basic Resume Writing; Public Library Association; VGM Career Books, 2004, 2nd ed.; RFB&D: DT-HV359.
The Pathfinder: How to Choose or Change Your Career for a Lifetime of Satisfaction and Success; Lore, Nicholas; Simon & Schuster, 1998; RFB&D: AD-FZ723.
What Color is Your Parachute; Bolles, Richard Nelson; Ten Speed Press, 2007; RFB&D: DT-HW280.Return to the Table of Contents
"The longest budget impasse in California history came to an end with many programs which are not mandated by statutes being cut back. As of this writing, we do not know what programs will be impacted." This was a quote from my column in the Fall 2002 Blind Californian. And no, there is no budget as of this writing. Most likely, 2008 will become the longest period of time without a state budget and with a deficit of over $15 billion.
By the time you receive this magazine, the budget will either be signed or all the bills coming before the Governor will be vetoed, so I really can only talk about what actually has happened heretofore.
CCB sponsored three bills in the California Legislature in 2008. The first bill was AB 2608, Mike Davis, D Los Angeles, which would exempt the Department of Rehabilitation's various programs from a freeze in the budget act and allow them to continue serving blind and disabled clients during a budget stalemate. The bill was effectively killed in the Assembly Appropriations Committee, which cited that it typically doesn't exempt individual programs from a freeze in the budget act.
The second bill we sponsored is SB 1174 by Alan Lowenthal, D Long Beach, which establishes a research committee within the California Energy Commission to look at safety concerns regarding quiet vehicles and generate recommendations to improve pedestrian safety by making these vehicles more audible. At this writing, the bill is headed to the Governor's desk where he will either sign it into law, veto the bill or do nothing and it will become law after thirty days. This bill has had lots of national attention as it is the first bill of its kind anywhere in the country. It came from CCB resolution 2007 A 3.
Finally, AB 2555 by Alberto Torrico, D Fremont, was signed into law by Governor Schwarzenegger in August as Chapter 245 of the Statutes of 2008. The bill provides parental notification about the special setting option of the California School for the Blind. It also came out of CCB resolution 2007 B 2.
Three ADA reform measures had mixed results. AB 2533, Rick Keene, R Chico, which dealt with giving individuals who violate the California access laws a thirty day notice to resolve their issues, was killed in its first committee. CCB remains opposed to any "ADA notification" bills.
The second bill, SB 1608, Ellen Corbett, D San Leandro, is a lengthy reform measure providing a state commission on disability which oversees a building access certification program and gives private individuals more power to certify buildings for improved accessibility. CCB opposed this measure as it weakens existing California access laws; but as of this writing, the bill is headed to the Governor's desk where he is expected to sign the measure unless the budget isn't passed by the end of September.
Finally, SB 1766, Tom McClintock, R Thousand Oaks, which proposed a six-month notification period for access violators, was defeated in the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Since 2002, Senator Torlakson has been trying to mandate nutritious foods in state vending machines. His latest bill, SB 441, was sent to the Governor and awaits his action. The bill would require that 35% of all products be nutritional in nature. It exempts dairy products but allows for diet drinks. CCB and the Randolph Sheppard Vendors of California have removed their opposition to this bill as it was greatly weakened. Senator Torlakson agreed with us that a study was needed to look into resolving various issues with respect to the Business Enterprise Program for the Blind, and that study was recently completed and released.
AB 1358, Leno, The Complete Streets Act of 2007, will ensure that the transportation plans of California communities meet the needs of all users of the roadway including pedestrians, bicyclists, users of public transit, motorists, children, the elderly, and the disabled. At this writing, the bill is headed to the Governor's desk.
At this time, we do not know if the proposed May revised plans by the Governor to eliminate "optional Medi-Cal" benefits such as acupuncture, dental, audiology, optometry, chiropractor, pediatry, psychological, and speech therapy will be in fact part of the budget settlement; but a 1.6 million dollar cut to the California School for the Blind was dropped by the Governor thanks in large part to CCB members applying pressure to the Legislature and Governor's office. A 10% cut to Medi-Cal providers was reversed by a court stay, but an across-the-board 10% cut for all state agencies remains in effect. Additionally, transportation benefits in many areas have either been reduced and or fare hikes are going into effect.
Finally after all of this, a critical election on November 4 will be taking place; and I strongly urge all of you to go out and vote. It is imperative that we elect individuals who will promote and protect the programs we have worked hard to establish. As always, our success as an organization is only as good as your advocacy. Remember, keep tuned to the California Connection and the CCB legislative reports on our tollfree line and our website.Return to the Table of Contents
Greetings friends! If you're like me and feeling a bit overwhelmed in the kitchen, especially with this crazy weather, here is a quick, cool and delicious summer menu that I enjoy making for my family.
Ingredients: 2 slices whole wheat or sourdough rye bread, toasted; 1/4 cup finely sliced mushrooms; 1-1/4 cup alfalfa sprouts; 1/2 tomato, thinly sliced; 1 thin slice Jack cheese; 1 teaspoon low-fat yogurt; 1 tablespoon finely chopped green onion.
Instructions: Place the above ingredients on bread open-face in order given. Serve with carrot & celery sticks.
Dressing: 2 cups mayonnaise; 1/2 cup sugar; 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese; 2 tablespoons vinegar; 2 tablespoons finely chopped onion; 1/2 cup raisins.
Salad: 1 bunch broccoli, cut into florets; 1 small head cauliflower, cut into florets; 1 8-ounce can sliced water chestnuts, drained; 1/2 pound bacon, cooked & crumbled; 2/3 cup slivered almonds, toasted.
Directions: Combine dressing ingredients and refrigerate overnight. Combine salad ingredients and toss with dressing.
Ingredients: 3 cups graham crackers, crushed; 1/2 cup butter, melted; 6 to 8 large marshmallows; 1 cup milk; 1/2 pint whipping cream; 1 can fruit pie mix (cherry, blueberry or strawberry).
Directions: Mix graham crackers and butter. Put all but 1 cup of crumbs into a 9 x 13 inch pan. Melt marshmallows with milk and cool mixture. Whip the 1/2 pint cream and add to the cooled marshmallow mixture. Put half of mixture on top of crumbs. Spread on 1 can of pie mix and then top with remaining marshmallow mixture. Sprinkle the 1 cup of crumbs over the top of the dessert. Refrigerate.
For an exciting salad bar display, follow these simple tips:
Make food look inviting with a variety of textures, colors, and garnishes.
Offer a lot of variety in items: vegetables, fruits, pasta salads and toppings like croutons, corn chips & dressings.
Set out deli trays of cheeses and cold cuts so guests can make chef's salads or small sandwiches.
Stock up on beverages--soft drinks and iced tea are good choices.
To set up your salad bar, start with plates, then assorted food items, ending with bread and rolls. It's also nice to serve salads from chilled bowls and platters.
You can also create a salad bar with a variety of pre-made salads like Caesar, pasta and tuna salad. For a meaty salad that can also serve as a main meal for a luncheon, try flavorful Mandarin chicken salad.
For croutons, look for a delicious assortment at your local store or make your own:
Cut day-old bread into small cubes and sauté them in a little olive oil and butter (or margarine) over medium heat, tossing frequently, for about five minutes. They should look toasted and golden. Add a little finely chopped garlic or chopped fresh herbs if desired. They are great on salads or in soups.
Have a safe, cool summer!!Return to the Table of Contents
AFB Press has released the 2008 ACCESSWORLD GUIDE TO ASSISTIVE TECHNOLOGY PRODUCTS. The guide is available in three formats: paperback and CD (ASCII) for $34.95 and online for $17. For more information, contact AFB Press at 800-232-3044 or www.afb.org/store.
The Braille Superstore distributes a monthly newsletter that announces new products and specials. To receive the newsletter by e-mail, visit www.futureaids.com or call 800-987-1231.
The National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research released EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT RESEARCH AND PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES: A RESOURCE GUIDE. The guide provides descriptions of research projects, research recommendations that have come out of conferences on emergency management and disability, and a bibliography of relevant research publications. Access the guide in Word and PDF formats at www.ed.gov/rschstat/research/pubs.
ACCESS IT magazine is a monthly publication about technology for blind and visually impaired people. The magazine is packed with articles about new services, the latest software, Internet developments and what is happening with digital TV. The magazine is available in braille or by e-mail. Each issue costs 0.54 pounds, or around $1 US. For more information, contact RNIB Editorial Department, P.O. Box 173, Peterborough PE2 6WS; Phone: 01733-37-50-00; E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org"; Web site: www.rnib.org.uk/xpedio/groups/public/documents/publicwebsite/public_accessit.hcsp"> www.rnib.org.uk/xpedio/groups/public/documents/publicwebsite/public_accessit.hcsp>.
The Level Star Icon is a portable device for people who are blind that grants access to contacts, documents and media on the go. Icon, with its 40 GB hard drive, can store thousands of documents and audio files. Icon users are now also able to download NLS digital books directly using the Icon's Web browser and its wireless connection, and play and navigate the books using Icon's Bookshelf. For more information, visit www.levelstar.com or call 800-315-2305.
Braille Plus, available from the American Printing House for the Blind, is a handheld, accessible tool that combines entertainment and productivity into one device small enough to easily fit into a pocket or purse. With its large hard drive, the Braille Plus stores dozens of books at a time; and with its built-in Web browser, users can now download and read NLS digital books without having to use a computer. Braille Plus is identical to the LevelStar Icon except for the presence of a braille keyboard and a 30 GB hard drive. For more information about the Braille Plus, visit www.aph.org/tech/pda_info.htm or call 800-223-1839.
A new magnifier is available from the American Printing House for the Blind. The new MaximEyes Video Magnifier from EITAC Solutions Group is offered exclusively from APH. This video magnifier is the first of its kind to offer access to printed materials and multimedia. With up to 60 X magnification, you are able to display an enlarged views of whatever is placed on the video magnifier's work surface. A large 19-inch LCD panel provides a clear and easily viewed image for your reading and writing. MaximEyes Video Magnifier uses a familiar five-button computer mouse. In addition, the MaximEyes Video Magnifier offers the PenTracker, which is a small clip-on device that is tracked by the camera as you move your pen. PenTracker can also control the magnification as it moves about the work surface. MaximEyes Video Magnifier costs $3,495.
For more information, contact American Printing House for the Blind at 800-223-1839 or visit www.aph.org.
The MedCenter System is a new product to help you remember to take your medications. The unit consists of 31 individual boxes, each with four pill compartments that sit in a frame. At the beginning of each month, put the pills into the boxes. Every day of the month, take out the box corresponding to that day. The talking combination pill reminder/timer, with four alarms and talking clock, either beeps or speaks "Please take your pills" when the alarm goes off. Setting the alarms and time with the voice guidance is straightforward.
The MedCenter System costs $69.95. For more information, contact Independent Living Aids at 800-537-2118 or visit www.independentliving.com.
The LightHouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired in San Francisco presents the 19th Annual Insights, a national juried art exhibition of works by legally blind artists. The showing runs from October 2 to December 12, 2008 at the San Francisco Art Commission Gallery in City Hall. For more information, visit www.lighthouse-sf.org.
VersaPoint Duo (used but in excellent condition) available for $300 plus shipping. Please call 650-641-3184.Return to the Table of Contents
[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.Return to the Table of Contents