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Happy 75th anniversary, CCB. The fall, 2009 CCB convention marks CCB's 75th year of service to the blind and visually impaired people of California. I'm going, are you?
I must admit that I didn't know much about CCB until 1990 when I joined the Silicon Valley Council of the Blind and began reading the Blind Californian. But the advocacy of CCB had been in my life without my being aware of it. In 1967, when I got my first apartment and began attending classes at the College of San Mateo, I applied for the Aid to the Potentially Self-Supporting Blind, and I kept that, augmented with a National Student Loan, until I was hired at Hewlett-Packard. This state program was heavily supported by leaders in the blindness community, and many of their ideas ended up in the federal SSI program. I also used reader services through my case at DOR, and I'd occasionally go to the DOR office in San Mateo to visit Jack Brazil, my rehab counselor. Sometime in the early '70s I became aware of the CCB through its publication, but it escapes me what it was called. I'm afraid I was too much into electronics and ham radio to pay much attention. Even so, the work of CCB does have a place in my life.
Below is a note from Ed Branch, Executive Assistant in the CCB office:
"We very much appreciate the contribution of the following Silver Sponsors to the fall convention. Silver Sponsors receive a mention in the Blind Californian and in the Convention Program.
"Sterling Adaptives, LLC, Novato, CA; Guiding Eyes for the Blind, Yorktown Heights, NY; Law Office of Lainey Feingold, lflegal.com; Linda M. Dardarian, Partner, Goldstein, Demchak, Baller, Borgen & Dardarian, 800-822-5000, email@example.com."Return to the Table of Contents
It's a beautiful California Sunday afternoon as I write this, and all is right with the world. Well, then again, maybe it's not.
Joblessness in California is close to 12 percent. The Governor, perhaps rightly, perhaps not, has taken the position that the people of this state will stand for no tax increases of any kind. The Democratically-controlled legislature voted overwhelmingly with Republicans to pass a budget that dramatically undermines the safety net that so many of those in the blind community rely upon. Senior services, in-home supportive services, SSI and Medi-Cal benefits, services to children and families, transportation and education funding--just to mention a few--have suffered serious budget reductions. But the recent budget deal went even farther than making short-term budget reductions. As an example, state law that, unless waived by the Legislature, permitted annual state cost-of-living increases in SSI benefits in accordance with increases in the cost of living were essentially eliminated. People who are blind or have low vision, be they on fixed incomes or employed, will feel these cuts in a variety of ways. Of course, given the economic climate in which we live, it can be said that, to some degree or other, these cuts are justified.
But what will become of programs and services that are essential to ensuring that people who are blind or visually impaired have equal opportunities to participate in the society in which they live? The economy is beginning to show hopeful signs of turning around; and perhaps in a matter of two or three years, this state will begin to see a real upturn in its property and income tax revenues as well as those from the myriad of other sources received by state and local governments. Whether you like it or not, special interest groups control much of what goes on in government, and groups that would rather see Health and Human Service programs torched rather than pay an additional dime in taxes are just as much a special interest as we are. Will these groups continue to hold sway, even when the economy turns around, or will more rational policies that rightfully consider the interests of business, individual taxpayers, and all those who have legitimate needs that only government can meet, including those of us who are blind or visually impaired, be adopted by our public officials?
How many of us called the Governor or our state legislators during this crisis to protest the deep cuts being considered? It does no good to say, although there is a good deal of truth in the statement that such protests would not have won the day during this budget fight. It is also not appropriate, at least in my view, to use the excuse that there are too few of us, even though, at least in some battles but not in others, we can't do it by ourselves. However, the important lesson to be learned is that if we are going to be a force to be reckoned with in the years to come; if we are going to win the battles for limited resources; if we are going to continue to advance the most important mission of this organization, that of advocacy on behalf of those who are blind or visually impaired, we must rededicate ourselves to the goals of those that established this organization 75 years ago.
For those who have been listening, they've been hearing this call to action from many within CCB for a very long time; but if we don't respond to it immediately, the years to come could be as bleak as this one has been. As the old saying goes, "If you're not part of the solution, then you're part of the problem." Each and every one of us must become an advocate at every opportunity, at the local, state, and national levels. Your CCB leadership must ensure that you have the information and tools to make the difference; and if we're not doing the job, make sure that we live up to our responsibilities. On the other hand, when we're called upon to go to a meeting, even if just to sit there and show our support, or write a letter or email or make a phone call, it's your job to do the very best you can.
In this magazine, at the convention, and in other ways, we are celebrating the diamond anniversary of our great organization. But the past is only worth celebrating as a springboard to the future. Let's keep that 75-year old dream alive and continue to celebrate future victories for the blind and visually impaired of this state. The future is up to us.Return to the Table of Contents
"Samuel M. Genensky, a former Rand Corp. mathematician and inventor whose near-blindness led him to help others cope with limited eyesight and become more self-sufficient, died June 26 at his Santa Monica home. He was 81. … Genensky is survived by his second wife, Nancy Cronig; daughters Marsha and Judy; stepchildren Andrea Cronig Mandell, Mitchell Cronig and Adam Cronig; and four grandchildren. Memorial donations may be sent to the Center for the Partially Sighted, 12301 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90025."--Los Angeles Times, July 12, 2009
Mr. Sam Genensky was a real pioneer in the field of vision loss, and had various accomplishments through his long and productive life, eventually helping hundreds of thousands of legally blind persons read print. The reason Mr. Genensky was so able to help these individuals was due to the fact that even though he was legally blind all of his life, he graduated from MIT with a degree in Engineering, which gave him the opportunity to invent the first CCTV.
Throughout his life, Genensky worked hard to improve his invention so that persons with varying types of vision loss could continue to read print. These variations included contrast such as white on black or black on white and eventually led to having CCTVs produce color.
He was interested in helping partially sighted individuals utilize as much of their limited vision as possible and began a low vision clinic in Los Angeles called the Center for the Partially Sighted (CPS) in 1978. Besides starting this organization and continuing on its Board until his death, Genensky also was a Board member of the Junior Blind of America, working extremely hard for years as the chairperson of JBA's Program Committee. He constantly improved programs for special needs children, the summer camp in Malibu, Camp Bloomfield, the Student Transition Enrichment Program (STEP) (a program for teens and young adults ages 16-22), and even the Davidson Program for Independence (DPI) for blind adults 18 years of age and above.
He developed the familiar "circle and triangle" signs on restroom doors so partially sighted people could find the right one. He was a founding member and first president of ACB's Council of Citizen with Low Vision International (CCLVI), which was established in July, 1979.
Genensky never failed to speak to various groups of students and/or their families to teach them that blindness was an inconvenience rather than a disability and made every effort through CCLVI and as a Board member of both CPS and JBA to get to know as many students/patients as possible to motivate them and give lots of encouragement.
Towards the end of his life, he lost his remaining vision but still learned how to use a computer and all of its peripherals with speech, so that he could constantly stay on top of adaptive equipment for the blind and visually impaired.
Genensky will be missed for all the knowledge he shared, and for the kindness and enthusiasm with which he shared it.Return to the Table of Contents
I think all of us who join the California Council of the Blind have unique stories about how we became blind, handled blindness and found CCB; and I'd like to share a bit of mine. One of the things CCB and I have in common is our age. I will be 75 years old on February 6, 2010, which makes me just over four months younger than CCB. I'm ever so grateful to CCB in helping me with my needs and showing me that I can live a productive life, and I'm thrilled that I could help over the years by serving on the Board and various committees.
In 1987 I had a total respiratory arrest due to asthma. My brain was deprived of oxygen for a considerable length of time, and I was legally dead. When I woke up, I couldn't see anything that made sense, and I had no coordination at all. I could hear and talk, but no one told me what had happened. I felt so helpless! They put me in a mental ward and told me I had to go to group sessions and watch movies. I commented that if I had to watch a movie, why not One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest? I was saved by a psychiatrist, who paid a bit of attention to me; and my family, who took me home.
It took me five years to get used to my kind of low vision--I couldn't see color and letters of any size wouldn't focus. My physical coordination slowly improved, but I still couldn't type on a keyboard. In 1992, I decided. It was time to get my act together, and I went to the Orientation Center for the Blind for nine months. I met many wonderful people there and attended my very first CCB convention, with its many activities and that positive attitude emanating from everyone.
When I was young, that little brown-eyed girl who was always getting in trouble never thought she'd become visually impaired and have the privilege of helping others in similar straits. It was all because she found the California Council of the Blind and could help others become members and use its services. Thank you, CCB.Return to the Table of Contents
CCB has so many capable members whom we can be proud of and learn from. One such is Mr. Michael Williams. He is the long-time President of the Compton Chapter in southern California. His story and positive attitude are encouragements to all who know him.
Michael and his wife moved to Compton in 1977 from his native Houston, Texas. Three of their four children live in the Compton area, plus several grandchildren. Michael had grown up in a business-oriented family in Houston and had his own business there prior to the move to California. In the same tradition, he was operating his own store in 1986 when his world suddenly changed.
He had been fully sighted until that Sunday afternoon in '86. He was in the process of closing business for the day when violence struck. He lost his vision due to being shot. This writer asked Michael what it was like for him to go through such a traumatic loss and how he learned to cope. What he described demonstrates his resilience of spirit and willingness to adapt and move forward. He did not dwell on the difficulty or the unfairness aspect but instead pointed out that he had never really liked driving that much anyway! Michael said he was glad that if he had to lose anything, that it was his sight. He enjoys being able to hear, walk, etc. He just went about learning and obtaining the new skills he would need as someone who is blind.
He did acknowledge that the loss of sight was initially more difficult on his children. Over time and with his constructive example, his children also adjusted. He related how he currently spends a lot of time with his grandchildren and how they have come to understand his vision loss, yet interact with him fully and easily. He is proud of the fact that the littler ones know he is blind and yet are constantly trying to show him what they have achieved, freely saying to him: "See, Grandpa?" He considers this is as their full acceptance and surely would have much to offer anyone struggling to relate comfortably to their grandchildren as a person with vision loss.
Michael was first introduced to CCB while attending the adult education braille class taught by Gussie Morgan. The more he learned about CCB, he said, the more he liked how the organization operated and what it did for people who are blind. The principles of advocacy, public education and community support all dovetailed with his own interests and efforts in his local community.
Since those early days in Gussie's class, Michael has been a big fan and supporter of braille. He has worked with it for years and continues to assist Gussie Morgan in teaching and finding innovative ways to motivate students in the class, mostly seniors, to learn and use braille. He likes the Braille 'n Speak device and uses it constantly. He said that many of the students he and Gussie work with also like it. For example, they are very proud when they can braille a greeting card, print it and give it to their family to read. Michael also realizes how beneficial are other byproducts of the braille classes, such as social and mental engagement and the support of a caring, positive community of students and teachers.
He provides a great example, not only for CCB members, but of advocacy in his broader community. He is currently reaching out to some younger people he encounters to inspire them to attend the braille class. He also works informally with some students needing to obtain braille and other equipment. He and others have identified the need for audible pedestrian signals in the area and are entering the challenging process of working with the city to make it happen. He points out that they have already been successful at getting some curb cuts in. He commented that there are many young people with disabilities around due to the results of gang and other violence.
Michael is perhaps known to many for his numerous speaking and writing talents. He has been a motivational speaker in the area for some time. His inspirational poetry is memorable. Those of you who attended our Fall convention two years ago may remember his wonderful delivery of his own material as he spoke at our Seniors program. He is involved with his local senior center and recently entered a talent contest there. We don't know anything about his competition there, but we wouldn't be surprised to hear that he won.
Michael Williams is one of our fine leaders in CCB. It is people like him, and so many others, that make this such an effective and rewarding organization to belong to.Return to the Table of Contents
[Author's Note: The forerunner of the Blind Californian was known as the News Bulletin. I was editor of that magazine for some time. The last issue that I covered in that capacity was the February, 1959 issue. The Awards and History Committee has a braille copy of that magazine. The contents list the first three articles as: "Council President Resigns; California loses long-time WCW Chairman; WCW directs activities, Chairman resigns." The next article was entitled "The California Story," and here it is.]
Your editor feels that because of the foregoing letters written by Mr. Campbell and Mr. Fogarty, it is important that members of the Council understand fully why these resignations have been brought about. Both persons have given long and dedicated service to the Council. Their decision was obviously taken under trying circumstances and only after serious reflection upon a variety of events and developments in the California organization. It is time for the whole California story to be told. Contrary to the tale commonly told today, the conflicts in the Council did not begin with controversy over the Card Amendment to the National Federation's Constitution, proposed nearly a year ago. Its origins lie simply and directly in the efforts of the NFB's President to take control of the organization, which rightfully belongs to the blind people of California. These endeavors began long ago. As the great and beloved Dr. Perry said in his letter addressed to the delegates and friends of the Council shortly before last Fall's Convention in Los Angeles: "The NFB has been working on this idea since before my retirement." As a matter of fact, Dr. Perry's retirement in December, 1953, was in largest measure brought about by the manipulations of the Federation's President and his personal devotees. The groundwork was laid the previous year when the political advocates of Dr. tenBroek secured his election as the Council's Vice President, hoping that their chief would inherit the Council's Presidency along with that of the Federation, if their efforts to bring about Dr. Perry's retirement were successful.
Feeling that internal friction might be avoided, Dr. Perry resigned in the middle of his term of office, but emphasized what seemed to be to him, as well as to others, the necessity of maintaining the independent identity and existence of the Council and its separateness from the Federation. He and others realized that for the Council to serve the wishes and the interests of this state, it would be absolutely necessary that the organization have its own officers and programs, which would be independent of the officers and projects of the National Federation. Accordingly, Robert Campbell was elected as Dr. Perry's successor at a special convention. Many may recall that Dr. tenBroek thereupon peevishly resigned his office in the Council and did not participate in Council activities for some little time.
The Federation's President could not succeed in taking control of the Council directly himself. Soon, however, he and his ardent followers undertook repeated efforts to have one or another of his loyal advocates selected to leadership of the Council. In 1954 it was Allen Jenkins. He withdrew from competition before the voting began when sentiment made it clear that his defeat was certain. In 1956 the man closest to Dr. tenBroek at the time, Kenneth Jernigan, tried his luck. Though he campaigned vigorously, he lost by a two-thirds majority. The Federation candidate in 1958 was Russell Kletzing, who was also unable to defeat Mr. Campbell in a popular vote, even though never before in this state had so much lavish effort and treasure been poured into a campaign by an aspirant to political office in our Council.
Observers in California have a simple explanation for the increasing of the tenBroek faction to turn out larger votes at Council elections. It was the obvious result of building a tight political machine. It can certainly not be said to result from a mass shift of opinion among the blind members of the state organization. It is time that open recognition be given to the fact that this machine is composed mainly of former students of the Orientation Center in Oakland, headed by Allen Jenkins and where Kenneth Jernigan was employed as an instructor. Nearly every Orientation Center graduate interviewed has stated that, although they received useful training to orient them to blindness, they received a major part of their training in so-called "Federationism," whether they wanted it or not. The indoctrinated ex-students, imbued with personal admiration for tenBroek by their training, have, with skilled direction, been induced to infiltrate the member clubs of the Council to gain leadership and particularly to get themselves elected as delegates to the Council conventions. To further this objective, they have organized themselves and some unalert blind people in their areas into roving bands for the purpose of ranging far and wide in surrounding cities and counties to join the local clubs and thus increase their voting strength. A conspicuous example can be noted in Southern California, where one such group has attempted to join every local organization from San Diego County to the San Fernando Valley.
It must be stated frankly that what has been happening in California is only part of the picture of what has been happening in the National Federation itself. The NFB President, throughout the early years of the national organization, enjoyed and exercised a high degree of personal authority. Through lack of funds it was impossible for the Federation's Executive Board to meet, and obviously only the broadest decisions regarding national policy could be made at national Conventions. With the growth of the Federation and its increased ability to raise funds, many representatives from the state Affiliates felt and began to express the desirability of wider participation in the activities of the NFB and its policy-making processes. In the attempt to maintain and safeguard the power and authority he had accumulated for himself, our national President resisted and shunted aside all reasonable approaches to the discussion of the reforms, which it was felt were timely and necessary. To consolidate his authority and assure the concentration of power in his office, the NFB President first proposed and secured the adoption of a resolution at a special NFB committee meeting in September of 1957, which gave him almost complete control of the Treasury and staff of the Federation; and then he contrived to have this same resolution proposed to the Federation at large as a Constitutional Amendment by his loyal first Vice-President Mr. George Card.
During the spring of 1958, an active campaign was carried on by the Federation's officers and paid staff to induce conventions of State Affiliates to instruct in advance to have their delegates to vote for the Card Amendment. The NFB President clearly did not wish delegates to go to the Boston convention with free and open minds to hear opposing arguments on the merits of the amendment and cast their votes according to their independent convictions. These efforts succeeded in many state organizations, but it will be remembered by those of you who attended the Council's convention last May that it was twice decided by vote of the delegates that the Council's President and national delegate should go to Boston without instructions and free from a prejudicial commitment made in advance of the discussion in Boston. It will be remembered also that Mr. Campbell voted against a quick adoption of the Card Amendment, feeling that as California had done in revising its own Constitution, this proposed revision of the Federation's Constitution should be studied further by a Constitutional convention or an interim study committee. For this expression of honest and independent judgment by our Council's delegate, which the NFB's President labeled widely through this state as rank disloyalty to him personally, Mr. Campbell became the immediate target of a well organized effort to purge and discipline him by securing his defeat in the state organization's election last November.
Within a very few days from his return from Boston, Dr. tenBroek announced that he would lead the list of sponsors for Mr. Campbell's opponent. His subservient followers in California followed suit. The Federation's office in Berkeley and secretarial staff were used unsparingly to turn out literature designed to bring about Mr. Campbell's defeat. The resources of the national organization's treasury were unquestionably used without check or hesitation to elect the Federation's hand picked candidate Mr. Russell Kletzing. Mr. Campbell and his supporters had nothing but their personal funds to fight off the onslaught organized in the NFB's office. Even the pages of the Braille Monitor were employed to advertise Mr. Kletzing in the effort to sway votes at the oncoming election. This massive interference by the NFB President in the elections of the California affiliate did not succeed in defeating Mr. Campbell. But it did result in bringing about such confusion of purposes and principles in the minds of convention delegates that a majority antagonistic to Mr. Campbell was elected to the Council's Executive Board. As will be seen elsewhere in this Bulletin, the result has made effective administration of Council affairs virtually impossible.
The blind in every other state Affiliate of the NFB should study closely and think long on what has happened in California. It can happen in every other state. It has already happened in some measure in states as shown by letters from Tennessee, which are published in these pages for general information. Mr. Campbell has felt compelled to resign. The administration of Council affairs will now be under the management of persons who in turn are under the direct control of the Federation's President until the new elections can be held.
In promoting Mr. Kletzing's candidacy, no effort was spared in the attempt to discredit Mr. Campbell and his supporters. No political tactic was thought too low to be utilized. Mr. Campbell's personal integrity was assailed and the reputation of his supporters assaulted. False promises for jobs for various delegates were made without hesitation if they could sway a vote. In one instance, the NFB President (who is also president of the American Brotherhood for the Blind) appointed as voting delegate to represent the Brotherhood a person who, at the time, was not even a member of that organization. The present Executive of the Iowa State Agency for the Blind returned to this state several days before the election of last fall to claim a right to vote as delegate and assist in the heavy lobbying of other delegates voting at the convention. The chiefs of several agencies serving the blind in California along with some individuals employed by these and other agencies serving the blind of California, participated actively in the Kletzing campaign, exerting to the fullest extent the influence of their respective offices and positions in complete disregard of the fact that many delegates, as well as their constituents, were at present, or might be in the future, in need of the services of these agencies or financial assistance.
Whether the state organizations of the blind in California will represent the true wishes of the blind membership throughout the next year and one-half or whether the Council will be subverted to the uses of the political interest of the President of the National Federation is a question which now confronts every person interested in the future of the Council and the welfare of the blind of this state. The future will of course provide the answer, but the shape of the answer can be determined by how alert the membership of the local organizations becomes and how insistent they will be that the facilities of the state organization be used for state purposes alone. The resigning President of the Council conducted his campaign on the principle that a state organization of the blind must be controlled by the blind of the state, and that a state organization of the blind has, and must continue to have an independent existence as a separate entity from the National Federation. The real issue underlying the conflict now raging in California is whether the state organization would be mere creature and servant of the will of the National Federation's officers and leadership or whether the national organization should be the instrumentality of the state organizations serving their will and needs. Sooner or later the conflict will spread to every State Affiliate of the Federation unless other affiliates begin to realize immediately that the extraordinary appetite for power shown by the present national leadership must be starved and controlled.
The California story should be a warning and a lesson for all to heed. The member organizations of the California Council now face the task of reclaiming their State Affiliate. They will have the help of many of us, including Mr. Campbell. Our platform will be that a State Affiliate must belong to the blind of the state, and the National Federation must belong to the State Affiliates, which must compose it.
Since your present editor cannot sincerely serve the incoming Council administration of Mr. Kletzing inasmuch as I am entirely in disagreement with the attitudes and policies revealed by Mr. Kletzing and his majority at the January 10 meeting of the Council Executive Meeting, which I attended, I am adding my resignation to the growing list of resignations of those who share my philosophy. At the present time I wish to pledge myself that I, along with others that feel as I do, shall continue the struggle for the right and opportunity of every blind individual to enjoy freedom to express his views and his ideas without fear of reprisal or other consequences from either agencies for the blind or the National Federation of the Blind.Return to the Table of Contents
[Editor's note: Most of this article is from the Council Bulletin, February, 1959]
On January 10, Russell Kletzing, Vice-President of the California Council of the Blind, called a meeting of the Executive Committee. Some of the Committee had exercised the right under a section in the by-laws to force the President to have a meeting upon their written request. In addition to calling for a meeting, they also demanded that the meeting be held at the Council office, which has not been done previously due to inadequate facilities and lack of space. Present at the meeting were Mr. Robert Campbell [President], Dr. Newel Perry, Mr. George Fogarty, Mr. Russell Kletzing, Dr. Isabelle Grant, Mrs. Evonne Eick, Mr. Lawrence Marcelino, Mr. Allen Jenkins, Mr. James Wood, Mrs. Helen Doss, Mr. A.L. Archibald, Mr. Tom Long, Mr. and Mrs. Manuel Urena, Mrs. Russell Kletzing, and Mrs. Catherine Skivers.
The first motion to be made was that first Vice-President, Mr. Russell Kletzing be made Secretary of the Executive Committee. Mr. Campbell declared the motion out of order as the convention had elected Mr. Fogarty as Secretary-Treasurer. A motion to appeal the chair was made and passed by a vote of 5 to 3, and the original motion was passed by the same number of votes. Those voting for the motion were: Mr. Kletzing, Mr. Marcelino, Mr. Jenkins, Dr. Grant and Mrs. Evonne Eick. Those voting against the motion were Mr. Campbell, Dr. Perry and George Fogarty.
A motion was made that in the future, an agenda be sent out or at least a statement be made as to the nature or reason for the meeting. This passed with not too much discussion.
The subject of legislation was then introduced, and committee members who had been assigned legislative bills to draft at a meeting in December presented them. None were in proper language or form to be presented to the legislature. It was agreed that Mr. Campbell and Mr. Archibald were to get them into proper form and see to their introduction. Mr. Campbell stated that Mr. Archibald had been hired at a salary of $550 a month, plus some expenses and secretarial help, should he need it. He said Mr. Archibald had been instructed to keep his expenses at a minimum, and said that it was far too early to estimate what these expenses might be. Mr. Campbell also stated that he felt that we were fortunate to have a man of Mr. Archibald's experience, and it was pointed out that a resolution of the Council had stated we should hire a competent person at a decent salary and at a salary that would insure us the right type of individual for this work. Mr. Kletzing expressed dissatisfaction that the Committee had not been consulted in the matter of hiring Mr. Archibald, but Mr. Campbell said the matter had been settled before the Committee meeting and a decision had to be made at the time. Dr. Perry spoke of Mr. Archibald's capability and his pleasure that he had been available to handle legislation for us.
Mr. Kletzing discussed a resolution of Robert Rottman's that would provide for advanced money for special schools and integrated programs where the services of a special teacher are employed and would add the physically handicapped as a whole group rather than limiting the services to one group.
The Right to Organize bill was discussed with the introduction of the following motion: The President is instructed to seek the introduction and passage of a state bill guaranteeing the right to organize and right of consultation of the blind of California. The lengthy motion called for the agencies and administrators of programs for the blind to consult with organizations of the blind with regard to their plans. An additional provision would assure by law that no individual or employee of the state, county, city or district had the right to interfere with the right of the blind to organize. Mr. Campbell suggested that Mr. Jenkins bring up the matter at the Agency Coordinating Committee meeting and that we ascertain how they feel before seeking to introduce the bill. Mr. Kletzing and others indicated that the bill should be immediately introduced, whether the agencies approved or not.
Mr. Kletzing is handling the case of Manuel Urena, who is seeking a job in the State Department of Employment but was refused admittance to the examination. The refusal to permit Manuel to take this examination would in effect close a whole series of jobs to a blind person. An appeal was made to the Personnel Board but was denied. A motion was made to take the appeal to court. Mr. Campbell said he would like to appoint a committee of Mr. Marcelino and Mr. Jenkins and himself to study the transcript of the personnel hearing before undertaking this, but Dr. Grant and Mr. Kletzing felt we should go ahead. The motion was passed after considerable discussion, the council to pay court costs and Mr. Kletzing and Mr. Sterns volunteering their services as attorneys. Mr. Kletzing said he felt certain that there were jobs within this department that a blind person could do.
Dr. Perry discussed the need for a booklet which would list the employed blind of this state and the various jobs they are doing. Also something about each job. This booklet would be widely distributed to employers to assist in placement work for the blind. Dr. Perry said that the most serious problem of the blind, or at least one of the most serious is the lack of employment and felt that such a booklet might stimulate more placement work and make more opportunities for jobs for the blind. He speculated that employers would be greatly surprised at the number of blind people who are successfully employed. A motion to prepare such a brochure was unanimously passed.
Then the real purpose of the Committee became apparent in a rather difficult discussion of the seating of a Mr. Don Galloway as delegate of the Associated Blind College Students of Southern California at a Coordinating Committee meeting in Los Angeles in December. Letters to and from this group were read, and it was pointed out by Mr. Campbell that the letter of credentials on file in the Council office indicated that James Wood was a delegate of that group until January 1, 1959. When a member of the Coordinating Committee at the Los Angeles meeting asked Mr. Campbell if he had credentials for Mr. Galloway, he had, in all honesty, to say that he did not and tell them of the credentials he did have on file. Mr. Kletzing interpreted this to mean that Mr. Campbell had used the weight of the Council Presidency to interfere in the committee meeting. Mrs. Helen Doss of Los Angeles substantiated the statement of Mr. Campbell that the subject had been brought up on the floor by other members of the Coordinating Committee. Nothing that anyone had to say in defense of Mr. Campbell was heeded, and Mr. Kletzing moved that it be the sense of the Executive Committee that the action of the Council President, in assisting in the disenfranchisement of the Southern College Students at the Southern California Coordinating Committee, is strongly disapproved. The motion was carried by the same five to three vote as was in evidence throughout the entire meeting. Mr. Campbell stated that he thought it reprehensible for a member of the Executive Committee to make a motion of this kind, knowing full well he has the necessary votes to pass it. He stated: "I feel that he had taken advantage of a situation to make the President of the Council look unfavorable."
The next motion made by Mr. Jenkins sought to remove Catherine Skivers as editor and make Mr. Kletzing editor of the News Bulletin and allow him expenses for secretarial help. Mr. Campbell declared the motion out of order and pointed out that a full discussion of the Bulletin had taken place at the last convention, and that if there was any question as to his right to appoint the editor or to the replacement of the editor, it should have been brought up at that time. He brought to mind the fact that the convention had voted 65 to 4 that the editorial policy should continue along the lines outlined at the convention. Again a motion was made to appeal from the chair and again passed by the same votes. The original motion was then passed 4 to 3, as Mrs. Evonne Eick declined to vote. Mr. Campbell said as far as he was concerned the motion was still out of order, and that Mrs. Skivers would remain editor until otherwise decided by the convention.
Mr. Marcelino then moved that an audit subcommittee of the Executive Committee be established to review the Council's financial procedures and transactions to obtain an audit of its books, review of office procedures and to report to the convention. The subcommittee shall have access to all books, records and files of the Council office and shall consist of Mr. Kletzing, Mr. Jenkins, Dr. Grant and Mr. Marcelino. Mr. Campbell asked the motion be amended to state that the CPA is not to be an acquaintance of anyone on the Executive Committee. He also asked that the term "Office Procedures" be clarified. He said he had no objection to an audit, but he did resent anyone coming in to tell him how he was to conduct his office. He stated he wanted it understood that the committee was not to interfere with internal office management. The motion was unanimously carried. The meeting was officially adjourned. Mr. Kletzing then demanded books and records on the spot and behaved in an extremely rude and immature manner. Although it was almost 6 o'clock on a Saturday evening, he inquired insistently whether Mr. Fogarty could not make the books available to him. Mr. Fogarty declined to go to San Francisco for them, and informed him that at the time and place set for the audit, the books would be on hand. Mr. Campbell then produced the records in the Council office which Mr. Kletzing demanded, and Mrs. Rathburn, Mr. Campbell,s secretary, remained to read the information. Fern Pritchard, Mrs. Emma Burnham and Mrs. Florence Rathburn were present throughout the meeting. Fern Pritchard took the minutes of the meeting (Fern was Allen Jenkins' secretary at this time. Emma Burnham was Dr. Perry's sister).
Dr. Perry several times during the meting asked various persons making motions to please withdraw them in the interest of the Council, stating that one day they would be ashamed of their part in such a meeting. The performance of the group elected by the convention and entrusted with the affairs of the Council was indeed disgraceful. It is now clear why issues such as the audit, the Bulletin, our policy toward agencies and other matters were not brought up at the convention. Had convention delegates been aware of the real intentions of the group they made a majority on the Executive Committee, it is doubtful that some who voted for the group would have done so. January 10 was a black day for the organized blind in California, but if many people react to such highhanded tactics in the way your editor did, it may have been all to the good. In any case, in view of Mr. Kletzing's magnificent appeal for unity, after he was defeated for the presidency, it was an interesting experience to see him repeatedly vote to do for himself what the convention had been unwilling to do--make himself President of the Council without permission of the delegates.
[Author's Addendum: Following this meeting, Dr. Perry was in tears. He kept telling me that these were his boys who had just done these things. To see a man of his strength and his dedication to our organization so distraught was a terrible thing to witness. I kept telling him everything would be all right and that things would straighten out one day. He told me he'd not brought me up, but he felt I really understood the importance of the work we do. He asked me to promise that if the time ever came when we all could work together again, that I would do all I could to help us go in the right direction. I've done my best to keep that promise. It is my hope that members of the Council will make sure they know what this organization is all about and that they will combine their strength to do all the work that must be done to improve conditions for blind and visually impaired people in the future.]Return to the Table of Contents
Hello everyone! By the time this reaches you, summer will be beginning to wind down. I certainly hope you will have had a fun and safe time, and if perchance any of you had occasion to experience a $1500 glass of wine, I hope it didn't involve your expensive computer equipment. This adventure comes to us from our editor, Mike Keithley, so here he is to tell his story.
I've never been to a French restaurant, but 15 years ago I had a $1500 glass of wine!
For the last 20 years, my wife and I have been going to Orcas Island, Washington for a few days each summer. Orcas is a very peaceful place about 70 miles north of Seattle on Puget Sound. We always go to a quiet, inexpensive resort called Lieber Haven.
The first thing we do after getting off the ferry is stock up on groceries--bananas, cereal and such, and a bottle of white zinfandel. And if the blackberries are ripe (they're all over the place), we get Bisquick for fresh tarts.
I always bring my laptop and braille display to do tasks while Star is reading. one night we had finished dinner, and I had this glass of wine by my system to enjoy while I was working. Well, I knocked it over, dousing the braille display--Crackle, hiss, smoke! I turned the thing off quickly and got a cloth towel to try to clean the unit. I fervently hoped it would work when I turned it on--it didn't, more smoke.
So that was that for my system and I packed it up. I took the display to TSC when we got home, and it cost $1500 to completely replace the braille display modules. The technician said: "Don't do that again, you might not be so lucky next time."
So $1500 glasses of wine really can come your way. And mine was good, too!Return to the Table of Contents
[Editor's note: Convention reports are rarely split, but this informative and detailed work is too long. My apologies!]
We know that this report will mean different things to different readers. For those of you who may not have attended an ACB convention before, or for a considerable period of time, we will try to give you the flavor of one and whet your appetite to attend the 2010 and 2011 conventions, to be held right in our own backyard: Phoenix and Reno, respectively. If you're a long-time attendee who wasn't able to make the trek to Orlando, we'd like to give you the chance to catch up on what you missed. Even if you did attend, your schedule may have been crazy enough that you just weren't able to listen to some of the exciting happenings that only an ACB Convention can bring. So to all of you, let's board the train to Orlando and get ready for quite a ride.
The national convention, which opened July 4, started off with something new. Actually, the convention, for many, didn't open with a ride, but with a walk (and in the case of a few adventurous souls, a run) through the streets of a suburb of Orlando. Conventioneers joined thousands of Floridians raising money for a variety of charities, by walking or running for ACB. There were about thirty-five people who participated on behalf of ACB, and several Californians not only participated in the walk but were sponsored and motivated by those who were not able to attend and/or participate directly. More than $22,000 was raised for ACB.
After various committee meetings and the ACB Board meeting on Saturday, along with other more frivolous but no less enjoyable social gatherings, and a number of meetings on Sunday, the convention got under way in earnest with Sunday evening's first general session. Before the opening of every convention session, attendees have the pleasure of listening to entertainment, which is, more often than not, provided by ACB members themselves. As you file into the room, you may be treated to classical, folk or country music, show tunes or other musical delights. It lends a very nice touch to every session. After Sunday's entertainment, ACB President Mitch Pomerantz called the 48th convention to order, welcoming not only all those in attendance at the Rosen Center Hotel but all those listening via Acbradio. Remember that all convention sessions are archived on the web at www.acbradio.org, so you can listen in full to what you read about in this report.
President Pomerantz began his presidential report by thanking ACB staff, the ACB Board of Directors and the Board of Publications for their outstanding work during the previous year. He then discussed our two ongoing lawsuits. With respect to our suit against the U.S. Treasury Department seeking currency fully accessible for those who are blind or visually impaired, he noted that the decision in our favor was not appealed by the Treasury Department, and that a report on potential options from the Treasury, which was to be provided to the court by February, is now expected by August. Our suit seeking to require the Social Security Administration to provide materials in accessible formats is expected to go to trial in September. We in CCB can be proud that the trial will be in San Francisco and that CCB members are included as named plaintiffs.
Next, he discussed our legislative initiatives: HR 734, The Pedestrian Safety Enhancement Act, and HR 3101, The 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act. If you've not been reading your connection to learn about these pieces of federal legislation and urging your representative and our two Senators to sponsor and work for passage of these bills, then we strongly urge you to do so. For details you can call Frank Welte, CCB's Director of Advocacy and Governmental Affairs, at 650-576-4177.
We learned that ACB has now contracted with Joel Snyder to operate the ACB Audio Description Project. Not only did this project include an Audio Description conference in conjunction with the 2009 convention, but in the future Mr. Snyder will be doing workshops throughout the country, working with ACB to present awards for those in the field and undertaking a variety of other efforts to make audio description far more available to all of us.
President Pomerantz continued with this year's highlights in ACB's fourteen-year advocacy partnership with Linda Dardarian and Lainey Feingold. Again, we in CCB can be extraordinarily proud of the fact that without our getting the ball rolling those many years ago, these efforts might not have occurred and that our members still play an important role. During the past year, agreements concerning installation of accessible point-of-sale devices and websites were signed with Dollar General, CVS Pharmacies, Target, and Staples. Other negotiations are ongoing.
We then heard about some of the outstanding committee work in ACB, including a monthly peer support group on breast cancer established by the Women's Concerns Committee, a job fair at the convention by the Employment Task Force, and the mentoring program established by the Public Relations Committee. He also stated that, in response to the closure of the Oregon School for the Blind and efforts to close schools for the blind in other states, he has established a task force on schools for the blind which, we are proud to note, includes Stewart Wittenstein, Superintendent of the California School for the Blind and a frequent visitor to CCB conventions.
The President also spoke about our efforts in rehabilitation and library services. Finally, he spoke about the various activities in which we are involved concerning the Kindle II reader made by Amazon. He talked first about the work in the Reading Rights Coalition concerning efforts to stop authors and publishers from disabling the Kindle's speech component so it can't be used when playing books through this device. He then mentioned a lawsuit we and the National Federation of the Blind have jointly commenced against Arizona State University, which is distributing the Kindle to all students even though the menus are currently not accessible to those who are blind.
After the completion of his report, the convention was entertained by an extraordinary folk-singer from Florida: Amy Carol Web. We then were introduced to this year's two Durward K. McDaniel First-Timer award winners, who hailed from Texas and South Carolina. A highlight of every opening session is the introduction of new ACB life members, and eight were presented. Finally, the roll call of the states took place, and this is always a fun way to end the opening session.
From Monday and through the remainder of the week's general sessions, attendees sit in state and special interest affiliate delegations. As incredible as it is to meet ACB members from throughout the land, it is equally pleasing to know that you can spend a little time with those whom you know, and helpful and enjoyable to catch up with your fellow Californians each morning. Almost every day we heard a listing of various convention sponsors. Dozens of sponsors throughout the country contributed a total of more than $11,000 to ACB. Monday began with some ACB business. However, for convenience sake, we'll discuss the business of the organization during our Thursday and Friday recaps.
Cindy Van Winkle, chair of the Awards Committee, presented the Membership Growth award to the West Virginia Mountain State Council, which had a whopping 74% growth. She then presented the Outreach Award to the Middle Tennessee Council of the Blind, which created a peer support group for 20 seniors with visual impairments in the Nashville area.
Monday's first speaker, Ms. Shakila Maharaj From South Africa, is a truly remarkable woman, and it was a pleasure for all who came to know her to have her at the convention throughout the week. Psychologist, consultant, promoter of tourism for persons with disabilities, advocate, wife, and mother are only a small part of this incredible woman's credentials. She gave us a fascinating perspective on the integration of the blind in South Africa. In this nation of almost 50,000,000, the South African National Council for the Blind is the umbrella organization for many service facilities, from schools, rehabilitation centers, and economic and skills development agencies. Apartheid impacted those with disabilities just as it did everyone else, with whites having a higher quality of life than others. With the abolition of apartheid in 1994, dramatic changes swept the country. Five percent of the South African Parliament is comprised of persons with disabilities, and a partially sighted person is now a deputy minister. The Constitution calls for things such as the right to dignity and a prohibition against discrimination, both of which have specific references to persons with disabilities. Moreover, the Employment Equity Act and the Skills Development Act apply to disabilities as well as women and racial minorities. However, the key to change for persons with disabilities, including those who are blind, is the implementation of these laws. Both the private and public sectors must have plans and targets in place, advisory committees that include persons with disabilities, and training for disabled people. The private sector has actually performed better than government, but stiffer enforcement measures during the past year give greater hope. However, Shakila stated that, as in our own country, societal attitudes and, indeed, the attitudes of disabled people themselves, indicate that there is a long way to go. Finally, she was thrilled to collaborate with and learn from those in ACB, to help disabled people in her country.
Next, the convention heard from Frank Curt Sylke, Director of National Library Services, on designing the near-perfect book. We learned that the Perkins School for the Blind was named the Library of the Year, and that the NLS digital player machines will be arriving in August. Moreover, more and more books are being digitized. We also heard the sad news of the closure of the American Foundation for the Blind studio. Mary Beth Weiss, a Quality Assurance Specialist, discussed the duties of the Collection Development Librarians, who work to maintain a balance of books that will appeal to everyone in their NLS user base. Then the decision must be made to which studio the book should be assigned, with some studios having expertise that others do not. The studio must then assign it to a specific narrator. Mistakes can occur, such as when the Maltese Falcon was read by a female. Mary Beth then catalogued the many necessary traits of a good narrator. Once the book is read, the studio must completely review it and correct it, but then NLS reviews it as well.
We heard from Rick Morin (Managing Consultant, Business Transformation Practice, Hewlett-Packard) and Jay Cardinali (Worldwide Safety and Accessibility Manager, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts). Rick, a very tech-savvy guy and a blind user of Disney, and Jay gave an outstanding discussion of the audio description now being provided for those of us going to Disney properties. Without attraction descriptions, we really lack quite a bit of access to what everyone else is seeing; and we can use this free service at Disneyland as well as in Florida. Jay discussed various design variables that had to be dealt with in coming up with the right product, including making the receivers tough enough so that we wouldn't keep breaking them. Work has been ongoing for more than two years, and they even used an ACB focus group at this convention. Disney is devoted to making their attraction description the very best they can.
Our last speaker was Joel Snyder, who spoke of the ACB Audio Description Project, for which he has contracted, and which we have described above. Suffice it to say that Joel's enthusiasm and love for audio description is just the shot in the arm we need.
Convention reports seldom mention who gives the Pledge of Allegiance, but Tuesday's session merits an exception. The pledge was given by Portland resident and longtime skydiver in the Riverside area, John Flemming, president of the Visually Impaired Veterans of America. Following some ACB business, one of the real highlights of every ACB convention took place: the presentation of scholarship winners, by Scholarship Committee chair Patty Slaby. Two of our own CCB members serve on this committee: Richard Rueda and Cathy Schmitt Whitaker. There were approximately 15 scholarship winners. In addition, Richard presented the scholarship winners for the Council of Citizens with Low Vision, with two out of the three being Californians. Hizuru Cruz from San Jose State and Lynn Gagne from San Diego State were selected from dozens of applicants, and it was a pleasure to have them in attendance. Kudos to Richard and to Donna Pomerantz for their fine work in selecting CCLVI award winners.
For those of you who either live in or like to watch O.C., you should know that Disneyland isn't the only Disney property in Orange County. Tana Mosier Porter, a local librarian, presented a fascinating history of Orlando, home of Disneyworld and located in Orange County, Florida. Not surprisingly, we learned that until its current naming in 1845, Orange County had been Mosquito County. Orlando became a city in 1875, and its incredible growth began after World War II.
[Continued in part two.]Return to the Table of Contents
Most would agree that these are tough economic times. If you are job seeking now, you may find it a bit frustrating and discouraging. However, it is important to keep a positive outlook. Below are some suggestions for keeping your spirits high.
Eat healthy and exercise on a regular basis. The key to feeling good about yourself is to keep in mind how you are nourishing and taking care of your body.
Keep the faith. Believing in yourself, your abilities and a higher being will give you strength in tough times. If you do not believe in yourself, why should others? Record three to five strengths in your method of choice and review them every day when you wake up.
Possess a positive perspective. An interviewer can tell when a person in search of a job has a positive attitude versus someone who is discouraged and depressed. The employer will hire the person who may have been out of work for a while yet has the "can do" attitude. Practice speaking using vocal variety. This will show energy and interest during the interview.
Develop a schedule with goals to accomplish each day. Start out with goals that are small and manageable. Examples of goals may be to write a cover letter, ask one person to review your resume and take the person to lunch, follow-up on three job leads, or something else that is tangible. When your day has purpose and you accomplish what you set out to do, you will feel good about yourself.
Read newspapers, magazines and/or professional journals. Keep up on the trends in Fortune, The Wall Street Journal, a best seller book or learn more about nutrition. By continuing to learn, you are keeping your brain active, increasing your knowledge and growing as a person. This knowledge will allow you to engage in conversations with family and friends, at networking events and respond to questions in interviews.
Get out and meet people. There are a number of community events offered at no charge or low cost through your city, public library, local college and non-profit organizations. Attend these events with the purpose of learning about the topic and meeting people, not looking for a job. One of the benefits can be learning about job leads and practicing your communication skills. You can also look at volunteering with a community organization or at an upcoming event. Be open to talking about what you can do and how you use assistive technology, and if you would bring it yourself.
Identify examples of how you organize, research and budget things in your life right now. If you track your family's expenses and pay the bills each month, you are applying basic budget management principles. If you have developed a database of the 100 movie titles that you own, you have transferable database skills. If you have advertised for, hired and trained a reader, you have demonstrated supervisory skills, even if the reader is a volunteer. These are examples that individuals have used in interviews, and they have been hired for positions.
Yes, it may be tough economic times, yet it is your choice to see the glass half empty or half full. Take the steps above and see the glass half full.Return to the Table of Contents
[from Vision Access, Vol. 16 No. 2]
My name is Marcel Hogervorst. Because I have Toxoplasmosis, I use visual aids to help me do my job. Toxoplasmosis causes scaring on the retina, and it also affects the optic nerve. Toxoplasmosis does damage to the fetus primarily while in the third trimester of development.
Since December of 1998, I have been employed by the San Marcos School District in San Marcos, California, 40 miles northeast of San Diego. My position as an after-school care worker requires that I use my eyes and make quick decisions based on what I see. Children need constant supervision.
Before anyone can work, they must have work skills. For the visually impaired it is no different. In recent years, tools such as CCTVs and telescopic glasses have been available to people who are visually impaired. Learning to use these tools takes time and patience. Once a person masters that, a whole new world can open up.
In some ways, people who are partially sighted are falling behind people who are low partials when it comes to the workforce. People who are blind or who are low partials have devices like the DecTalk and Braille N Speak that help them do educational- and job-oriented tasks. It is important for people who are partially sighted to know what is out there, what is available to them.
Thirty years ago, telescopic glasses opened up a whole new world for me. When I was in elementary school, my eye doctor, Dr. Hixson, introduced me to telescopic glasses. As a result, my whole world changed. I could read the blackboard from the first row. For the first time I could see things more in detail. This enabled me to see the chalkboard when the teacher was writing directions in class. I was able to cross the street and see street signs. I could use a bike to travel to and from work or school.
Ocutech is the primary maker of different types of telescopic glasses for different uses. You can contact Ocutech directly at Ocutech.com.
On the job, I am supervising children from 5 to 11 years of age. Children in this age group are quite active. A good portion of my time is spent outside watching the children on the playground and in problem-solving.
Knowing how to use a telescopic device is essential in being successful on this job. I must multitask inside the classroom by supervising a group game as well as handling things that happen around me. I help kids solve problems that come up and talk with parents about their concerns.
If you have questions about how telescopic glasses are used or about working in the educational field, or if you are interested in getting a pair of these glasses, you can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. My doctor, Dr. Hixson, can be contacted at La Mesa Vision Care, 8007 La Mesa Blvd., La Mesa, CA, 619-466-5665.Return to the Table of Contents
Department of Rehabilitation; 721 Capitol Mall; Sacramento, CA 95814; 916-324-1313 Voice, 916-558-5807 TTY, 916-558-5806 Fax
Mr. Jeff Thom, President; California Council of the Blind; 1510 J Street, Suite 125; Sacramento, CA 95814
June 16, 2009
Dear Mr. Thom:
Enclosed is the Department of Rehabilitation's (DOR's) response to your letter dated May 4, 2009, regarding the California Council of the Blind (CCB) resolutions from the 2009 CCB Spring Conference.
If you have any questions regarding the Department's response, please contact Deputy Director Anthony R. Candela at 916-558-5815.
Sincerely, ANTHONY "TONY" P. SAUER, EMMDS, Director
DOR Response to Resolution 2009 A-2: Counselors in Cubicles: The Department of Rehabilitation (DOR) values the dignity and privacy of its consumers and the well being of its staff. The Department's experience since reducing the number of offices in exchange for cubicles is that consumer confidentiality is maintained and that its employees are able to do their jobs. Cubicles can be modified in accordance with the Department's reasonable accommodations policies and procedures to meet the needs of employees with disabilities. This includes the needs of blind counselors who use audible devices, such as screen reading software. Quiet rooms are provided for interviewing consumers.
DOR Response to Resolution 2009 A-8: Agencies Serving the Blind & Visually Impaired: The Department is planning to allocate economic stimulus package funds to programs and services for consumers who are blind or visually impaired. The Department realizes that budgetary constraints have placed a strain on both the public and private sectors. The Department hopes stimulus funding will promote growth in service-delivery and is committed to following the general guidelines for the use of stimulus money, chief among them being increased employment for Californians with disabilities and stimulation of the economy.
DOR Response to Resolution 2009 A-9: Randolph-Sheppard Vendor Communications: The Department, which is the California State Licensing Agency for the Business Enterprises Program, complies with the provisions of section 107b-1 of the Randolph-Sheppard Act amendments of 1974. Section 107b-1 requires the Department to provide vendors access to all relevant financial data. It does not specify compilation and dissemination of a specific report. The Department complies with Section 107b-1 in that all public records, unless otherwise exempt by law, are available to vendors. DOR consistently provides trust fund financial information to the vendors via the CVPC. This is the chief indicator of the financial health of the program. The RS-15 report, which the Department submits annually to RSA and provides to the CVPC, is also available to vendors.
DOR Response to Resolution 2009 A-10: Randolph-Sheppard Vending Locations in Federal Facilities: The Department will endeavor to the best of its ability to obtain and develop all federal locations that are financially viable within the state of California. DOR asserts the RS priority where feasible, and consults with the CVPC and its Quality Location Development Committee on all locations.
From the National Park Service
Mr. Jeff Thom, President, California Council of the Blind; 1510 J Street, Suite 125; Sacramento, California 95814.
Dear Mr. Thom:
I apologize for not having responded sooner to your letter of May 5, 2009, which enclosed a resolution from the California Council of the Blind. We appreciate the Council's interest in helping us improve our ability to make the national parks more accessible for people who are blind or have low vision. The national parks preserve our country's most significant heritage resources; and we are committed to making those resources available for all to experience, enjoy and appreciate. We recognize our responsibility to make the parks both physically and programmatically accessible to people who are blind or have low vision, as well as people with other disabilities. In fact, we have had in place for several years a set of goals and objectives for that purpose, as well as implementation strategies to achieve those goals and objectives. I am pleased to report the following progress that has been made, and continues to be made, as we act on those strategies.
We are currently completing a significant revision to our guidelines and standards for programmatic accessibility. The "Programmatic Accessibility Guidelines for National Park Service Interpretive Media" provides parks, regional offices, contractors, and our professional interpretive and education field staff with the information to plan and develop interpretive media products that are accessible to people with disabilities, including visual impairments. The uses of Braille, large print and audio-description are discussed within the context of the primary media products used by parks to provide interpretive and visitor services. Harpers Ferry Center (the NPS Center for Media Services) is responsible for maintaining these guidelines and has recently established a position to coordinate the Center's work in programmatic accessibility. The guidelines are part of the reference package for all of the Servicewide media contracts managed by Harpers Ferry Center. New media projects should use these guidelines to ensure compliance with our programmatic accessibility responsibilities.
In October, 2006 we began an initiative to make all existing audio-visual programs accessible, and that effort includes the production of audio description. This program to reduce the NPS backlog of non-compliant audio-visual programs is now fully operational with a multi-year schedule of projects, support contracts and staff to manage implementation.
Our National Park Brochure program is currently working with the Government Printing Office to develop a Servicewide contract for providing Braille editions of our official park brochures. Our Web Council is working on providing links on each park's webpage to the text version of their park brochure that can be accessed by commonly used screen readers.
We realize these initiatives represent only some of the critical work that remains to be accomplished, and we welcome your support and insights as we further the goal of making the national parks accessible. As we move forward, we expect there will be key points at which we will want to engage your organization and others so that we can better understand and respond to the needs of persons with disabilities.
Daniel N. Wenk, Acting DirectorReturn to the Table of Contents
The Chapter of the Year Award is presented by the CCB Membership Committee at each spring CCB Convention, and recognizes the best overall group effort to make a significant difference in the life of an individual and/or the community. We are accepting letters from chapters for projects developed and completed in 2009. Please submit letters to the CCB Executive Office by February 15, 2010. In the letter, please explain the chapter project, who benefited from the effort and the project's time-line. We would like to be able to present this award at the 2010 spring convention provided we receive letters from chapters.
We want to congratulate the San Francisco chapter for its Alice Chavez-Pardini Education Advancement Award Fund, which raises funds to award a grant annually to a visually impaired student for some educational purpose, such as to purchase access technology. This award was given at the spring, 2009 convention.
Congratulations are also extended to the East Los Angeles Chapter for winning the Spring Membership Incentive Award. This award is presented at every spring convention to the chapter or affiliate having the greatest numerical increase in membership from the previous spring convention. We hope all chapters and affiliates will work on building their membership count.
We want to let you know that the Fall Membership Incentive Award, generally awarded to the chapter or affiliate with the largest percentage increase in membership between the spring and fall CCB Conventions, was changed to another Spring Membership Incentive Award. We found that an increase between the spring and fall was often due to people paying dues late and not to an actual increase in members. This change was made at the spring, 2009 pre-convention board meeting. So at future spring conventions, two awards will be given: one for the highest increase in membership between this and past spring and the highest percentage increase in membership for the entire year.
Several questions were asked at the breakfast seminar, and participants provided a wide array of possibilities. Thanks to John Ross for assisting in compiling the ideas.
"What methods of fund-raising do you do that provide PR and invite newcomers to your chapter?"
There were a variety of answers: auctions (silent or live), White Cane Day events (a walk and/or dinner), Sees candy sales, Pampered Chef fund-raisers, a chapter or statewide yard sale, picnics, walk-a-thons (get people to sponsor you--ACB did this), barbecue lunches or dinners, and karaoke day or night.
"How do you publicize the above fund-raisers?"
Public Service Announcements via radio news or TV spots, word of mouth, fliers, websites and listservs, etc.
"How do you get newcomers to attend?"
Newsletters, members invite friends, special luncheons, hold meetings at a central location, and forward emails to other blind persons.
"How do you get sponsorships, donated door prizes or advertising to help fund an event for your chapter?"
Approach Lions Clubs in the area, contact local radio stations for event coverage, and ask local markets and stores for door prizes and food or product donations.
"What events have you had or even discussed that might provide more funds for your chapter, raise awareness and increase your membership?"
Catered events, described movie events, events with dinner and walk, and shirts/jackets/windbreakers promoting chapter solidarity.
"Do you currently have fliers, brochures or other literature that you pass out at events?"
Use CCB fliers and described video tape/DVDs, create local chapter info flyers, hand out info on eye conditions, and publicize listservs and websites.
In addition, a hand-out called "Fund-raising as a Membership Tool" (compiled by the ACB Membership Committee) was given to attendees. If you'd like a copy for your chapter or affiliate, please contact Ardis at email@example.com or call 818-238-9321.Return to the Table of Contents
Since ACB's last annual convention, ACB and its affiliates and members have been actively involved in the Structured Negotiations process. Since ACB met in Louisville, there have been five new settlement agreements signed and four new negotiations started. As always, there has also been on-going monitoring and implementation of agreements signed in earlier years.
This is the 14th year that ACB has worked with Lainey and Linda using Structured Negotiations to increase accessibility across the country for persons with visual impairments. Here are some of this year's highlights.
Staples, Accessible Website and tactile point of sale devices: This past April, ACB announced an agreement with the Staples office supply chain about the accessibility of the Staples website and the point of sale devices in Staples stores. Staples has agreed to put tactile keypads in all its stores in the United States by the middle of next year and make its website comply with the W3C Web Content Accessibility Guidelines. The Bay State Council of the Blind, the CCB, and the American Foundation for the Blind were the other participants in the Staples negotiations.
Target, Tactile point of sale devices: In May ACB announced an agreement with Target stores about tactile point of sale devices across the retail chain. Target will be installing the devices in every store in the country by the end of next year. CCB and AFB were the other Claimants in the Target negotiations.
Dollar General, Tactile point of sale devices: Last year in Louisville, a group of our members, along with Executive Director Melanie Brunson, took a few hours off from conventioneering to meet at a local Dollar General Store with corporate representatives. In a back room they talked about training needs and tested a tactile point of sale solution for the chain's flat screen point of sale devices. Last December, ACB, CCB, AFB, and Dollar General announced that Dollar General would be installing tactile keypads in all its stores--over 8,000 across the United States--by the middle of next year.
TCF Bank, Talking ATMs and alternative formats: This past December, the Illinois Council of the Blind reached a settlement agreement with TCF, a local bank with branches in seven states. The bank agreed to install Talking ATMs and provide materials in Braille, Large Print and audio formats. Lainey worked with Equip for Equality, the Illinois NDRN office, on the TCF negotiations.
MLB.com: ACB and the Massachusetts and California affiliates have been in constructive negotiations with Major League Baseball about the accessibility of information and services available on MLB.com. Although things are not perfect yet, there have been significant improvements this year. For the first time ever, blind and visually impaired baseball fans can independently vote for the All-Star teams. And MLB has created an accessible online GameDay Audio player. The ACB team is working closely with Major League Baseball on other issues, including the accessibility of the MLB-TV player, the on-line statistics, and other issues; and I hope to be announcing a full settlement agreement at next year's convention.
American Cancer Society Alternative Formats: This past May, the American Cancer Society agreed to work with ACB in Structured Negotiations to make sure that its health and cancer prevention information is available to people who are blind and visually impaired. ACB is working on Braille, large print and audio formats, as well as the accessibility of the American Cancer Society website.
Wal-Mart Accessible Prescription Information: We are very excited to announce that Wal-Mart has agreed to work with ACB on the important issue of access to prescription information, including prescription labeling. Wal-Mart had already worked in collaboration with us in the Structured Negotiations process on the issue of its point of sale devices and was the first retail chain in the country to sign an agreement to install these devices. We look forward to working with Wal-Mart, along with the American Foundation for the Blind and the CCB, on the vital safety issue of prescription information.
Whole Foods Point of Sale Devices: As a result of individual advocacy on the part of one of our members in Washington State, ACB is now engaged in Structured Negotiations with the Whole Foods grocery chain about the point of sale devices in their stores.
Bank of America: Our California affiliate continues to monitor the largest Talking ATM agreement in the country - with Bank of America. Bank of America has more than 16,000 Talking ATMs across the country, and is close to the final goal of having a Talking ATM at every single Bank of America location in the United States. The bank also continues to provide an accessible website and online banking platform, and to provide banking information in alternative formats.
Accessible Credit Reports: This past January, as a result of a settlement announced at last year's convention, all three credit reporting agencies began providing credit reports in braille, large print and audio, as well as online formats that meet WCAG standards. As always, feedback on your experience helps the Structured Negotiations process. If you haven't gotten your credit report in an accessible format yet, I hope you'll do it soon, and let Lainey and Linda know about your experiences.
Tactile Point of Sale Devices: In addition to the Target and Dollar General Agreements, ACB has reached agreements with six other retailers on the point of sale issue. Tactile keys let blind people independently enter their PIN when paying with a debit card. Safeway, Wal-Mart, Trader Joe's, Rite Aid, RadioShack and Seven-Eleven have negotiated agreements with ACB on this important issue, and we continue to work with these companies to make sure the agreements are implemented. For example, we worked patiently with Trader Joe's when technology problems prevented them from implementing our agreement in 2006, and we're happy to announce that as of March of this year, Trader Joe's now has the tactile keypads in at least one to three checkstands in all stores in the United States.
Accessible web sites: Many websites have become more accessible as a result of Structured Negotiations. In addition to online credit reports and online banking sites, Rite Aid, RadioShack, CVS and Staples have each agreed to design and generate their websites to make them accessible. As part of its efforts to make websites accessible, ACB is on the cutting edge in helping companies make sure that the security measures known as CAPTCHAs are accessible to visually impaired computer users. Rite Aid has a very usable audio CAPTCHA, and MLB.com has used an accessible CAPTCHA on this year's all-star ballot as a result of efforts of ACB, BSCB and CCB.
Also since the last convention, ACB joined AFB and other nonprofits who care about the issue of descriptive video in movie theaters in filing a friend of the court brief. The brief was filed in a case that is on appeal to the Ninth Circuit (the federal court of appeal for the western states) from the federal trial court in Arizona. The brief we filed seeks to protect the rights of movie goers with visual impairments. The federal court in Arizona held that the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) does not require theaters to install descriptive video equipment. (The court also ruled that captioning is not required for deaf or hard of hearing movie patrons.) The Amicus Brief explains that the court's decision should be reversed because the ADA does require movie theaters to install descriptive video equipment.
One of the groups that joined with the ACB and AFB in the case was the Screen Actors Guild (SAG). SAG is part of a disability rights campaign known as the IAMPWD (Inclusion in the Arts and Media of People With Disabilities), whose goal is to improve and promote the accuracy, inclusion and access of people with disabilities in all areas of entertainment and news media.
California Council of the Blind was the lead organization on behalf of persons with disabilities in another "friend of the court" brief this year, which was filed with the California State Supreme Court. The Court was asked to decide whether damages are available under California law to persons with disabilities who are denied full access to a business establishment in violation of the ADA, without having to prove that the discrimination was intentional. The Court ruled unanimously in CCB's favor on June 11, 2009, and held that damages under California's Unruh Act are available to victims of unintentional ADA access violations in California.Return to the Table of Contents
Many Californians know October is Disability Awareness Month. But did you know it is also Domestic Violence Awareness Month?
Domestic violence takes many forms. It can include threats of violence, verbal attacks, and other forms of intimidation (possessiveness and controlling behavior, punching, slapping, pushing and grabbing) and can even lead to rape or murder.
Unfortunately, people with disabilities have a higher risk of being victims of domestic violence, and it is important that they know that California's Safe at Home program can offer victims anonymity and a new start towards a future free from fear.
Safe at Home is the Secretary of State's confidential address program, which helps protect the identities of thousands of survivors of domestic violence, stalking and sexual assault, as well as reproductive healthcare doctors, nurses, volunteers and patients. Since 1999, Safe at Home has provided a free post office box for participants to use instead of their home address for receiving first-class mail, opening a bank account, registering to vote, completing a confidential name change, filling out some government documents, enrolling a child in school, and more.
More than 2,400 Californians are currently enrolled in Safe at Home, 95% of whom are women and children. Over 250 shelters, district attorney offices and nonprofit organizations throughout the state serve as enrolling agencies that assist people in applying to the program. If you or someone you know could benefit from Safe at Home, phone toll-free 877-322-5227 or visit www.sos.ca.gov/safeathome.
Domestic Violence Awareness Month is a time to celebrate those who have survived domestic violence, mourn those who have died and connect everyone who wants to prevent it. I encourage every Californian to commit to violence prevention all year long. From large-scale government programs to nonprofit agency work to individual responsibility, we all can help reduce crime and protect victims who deserve security and peace of mind as they rebuild their lives.Return to the Table of Contents
As this report goes to press, the California State Legislature is finishing its work for 2009. This year's legislative session was dominated by a protracted struggle to balance the state's budget in the face of a deficit that rose as high as $26.3 billion. We have seen massive cuts to education, social services, prisons, and other state programs. We are concerned about how these proposed cuts will impact the lives of blind Californians. I encourage each of you to contact your assemblymember and your state senator to let them know how various state programs touch your life.
The news out of Sacramento wasn't all bad. Three bills actively supported by CCB became law.
A Resolution sponsored by CCB, SJR 6, by Senator Allen Lowenthal, placed the state legislature on record in support of H.R. 734, the Pedestrian Safety Enhancement Act of 2009, which is under consideration by the U.S. Congress. That bill would direct the U.S. Department of Transportation to develop minimum sound levels for new, quiet cars.
AB 386, by Assembly member Ira Ruskin, expands the types of educational materials that our state colleges and universities must provide in accessible formats to students with disabilities.
SB 475, by Senator Alex Padilla, will raise the registration fees that guide dog schools pay to support the California State Board of Guide Dogs for the Blind. It will specify that the annual license fee charged to guide dog schools would be no more than 0.005% of each school's annual expenses as set forth by regulations, and that the fee will be payable before April 30 of each year. Currently, the annual registration fee is 0.004% of the school's expenses.
CCB is watching other state bills, some of which are likely to be approved by the legislature this year while many others will be taken up again next year. You can get detailed information about each of these pieces of legislation by reading my legislative reports, which will be posted regularly on CCB's website, www.ccbnet.org, and distributed on our various Email lists. You can listen to the reports by calling the CCB's toll-free phone number, 800-221-6359, on evenings and week-ends.
Hybrid cars and other alternative fuel vehicles pose an increasing danger to pedestrians, especially those who are blind and visually impaired. This is because they operate much more quietly than conventional vehicles, so they are difficult to detect by sound. As mentioned above, a bill that would address this problem, H.R. 734, the Pedestrian Safety Enhancement Act of 2009, has been introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives, and its companion bill, S 841, has been introduced in the U.S. Senate. H.R. 734 directs the federal Department of Transportation to conduct a study of the quiet car problem, and based on the results of the study, to prepare a requirement for the minimum sound to be emitted by new cars.
So far, eleven representatives from California have signed on as co-sponsors of H.R. 734: Howard Berman, Lois Capps, Bob Filner, Jane Harman, Barbara Lee, Dorris Matsui, Dana Rohrabacher, Linda Sanchez, Adam Schiff, Pete Stark and Maxine Waters. We're seeking more co-sponsors. If your member of the House of Representatives is on this list, please thank them. If your representative isn't yet a co-sponsor, please ask them to do so. We also encourage you to ask our U.S. Senators, Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer, to co-sponsor S 841.
CCB is encouraging California's members of the U.S. House of Representatives to co-sponsor H.R. 3101, the Twenty First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2009. The author is Ed Markey of Massachusetts. Among other things, this bill would reinstate required minimum amounts of described television programming, and it would require that telecommunications devices, such as telephones, television sets and DVD players, would be made accessible to blind consumers.
CCB is also encouraging California's members of the U.S. House of Representatives to co-sponsor H.R. 571, which would increase the maximum tax deductible value of vehicle donations from $500 to $2,500. The author is William Delahunt of Massachusetts. Car donations are a significant funding source for CCB, and this legislation will encourage more people to donate cars to help CCB serve more visually impaired Californians.
S.700 and its companion H.R.1708 have been introduced in the United States Congress. These identical pieces of legislation are entitled, "Ending the Medicare Disability Waiting Period Act of 2009." Senator Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) and Rep. Gene Green (D-TX) are the chief sponsors of the legislation in each body.
We encourage you to call your congressional representatives and U.S. Senators in support of these bills. You can reach the office of your member of Congress by calling the U.S. Capitol switchboard at 202-224-3121.
Check with the California Connection to find out when my next Legislative Report will be updated. For federal legislative information, please check The Washington Connection at 800-424-8666 or on the ACB web site: www.acb.org.Return to the Table of Contents
How do you stay connected with your friends, family and organizations in which you are interested? The term "social networking" refers to the process of this type of interaction. A number of Internet-based tools have been developed to make staying in touch and socializing a little easier. Facebook is one of the more popular of these tools. Here, we will cover Facebook's history, some features, pitfalls and how to get started.
Facebook was started in 2004 by Mark Zuckerberg and a few of his Harvard computer science classmates as a way to meet online, network, chat, and share information. Expanding from Harvard to colleges, then to high schools, Facebook is now open to everyone. From its grassroots beginnings, Facebook is now incorporated, maintains upwards of 250 million active users, and the company and is valued at around $4 billion. Facebook is now considered to be a strong competitor to Microsoft and Google as a communications platform.
There seems to be an endless array of features in Facebook, and between Facebook the company and the Facebook community, they are always adding more. However, the more practical and prominent ones that are frequented by active users are the "Status Updates," "News Feeds," "Friends," "Photo Albums," and "Groups". Status Updates allow you to post a thought, link, photo or interesting event to your profile and share the info with your friends. In the News Deed feature, as your friends update their status, you can see what they've shared and comment if you wish. The Friends feature allows you to see your friends' status and a list of their friends, and within this feature you can also search for new friends. Uploading a photo to your Photo Album allows you to tag the picture with the names of people therein, then cross-link back to their news feeds. Groups are another important aspect of Facebook. It allows you to join a group based on any type of interest and posted information that pertains to that group. Familiar organizations, including the LightHouse for the Blind of San Francisco, Association for Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired (AERBVI), and Bookshare.org are just some of the blindness entities who now actively advertise and use Facebook to notify the community at large of their ongoing efforts.
Though Facebook can be fun and interesting, there are some drawbacks. It uses Web 2.0 technologies, which visually simulates a desktop environment. Unfortunately, though visually impressive, these techniques do not work as well with screen readers and magnifiers. Additionally, due to the popularity of the site and technology constraints, you can experience speed issues when browsing through Facebook.
As an alternative, Facebook hosts a website meant to run on mobile devices such as cell phones and PDAs at m.facebook.com. Because this site contains fewer graphics and other visual elements, it is screen reader and magnifier friendly. Though the mobile site boasts fewer features, the main ones are still available in this more accessible format.
Getting started is simple. Navigate your web browser to www.facebook.com/r.php, and fill in the sign-up form. After sign-up, remember to complete your privacy settings. Once the sign-up process is completed, you will be able to search for friends, subscribe to your favorite applications, or any number of other possibilities.
Facebook and its social networking counterparts are but one more emerging trend on the Internet where persons can socialize, network, share common interests and research in a vast three-dimensional way. It takes the ability to network and discuss topics from the days of the listserv community and chat rooms to the next level.Return to the Table of Contents
Greetings to my fellow cooks! As the summer comes and goes, no one enjoys a hot kitchen, so listed below are some of my favorite recipes that are not only simple and quick, but you can probably find all you need in your own pantry. Remember that you can make any recipes your very own by adding or subtracting some items.
I've found that having all my ingredients within reach is truly the best way to have a pleasant experience. I have to say that if your working space is clean, you'll not only have a great time but a relaxing one, too. In everything you do, always use caution, and always be safe.
Ingredients: 1/4 cup flour; salt and pepper to taste; 2 boneless skinless chicken breast halves (about 6-8 ounces); 1 tablespoon olive oil; 1/4 cup apricot jam (may use sugar-free); 1/2 cup canned apricots in light syrup or juice; 1 tablespoon reduced sodium soy sauce; 1 tablespoon water; 1/8 teaspoon ground ginger powder.
Instructions: In plastic bag, place flour, salt and pepper and shake to mix. Add chicken breasts and shake again to coat. Heat oil over medium-low heat. Add chicken and cook, turning once, until cooked through, about 10-15 minutes. While chicken is cooking, mix remaining ingredients in small saucepan. Heat gently over low heat. Pour apricot mixture over top of cooked chicken and serve.
Ingredients: 2 ounces French bread, cut in 1/2-inch cubes; 1/2 cup fat-free Italian salad dressing; 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard; 1-1/2 tablespoons dried basil leaves; 1 10-ounce bag chopped romaine lettuce; 1 medium red bell pepper, thinly sliced; 1/2 cup thinly sliced red onion; 9 ounces frozen cooked diced chicken, thawed; 4 ounces feta cheese seasoned with basil and sun-dried tomatoes, crumbled.
Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Place bread cubes on baking sheet and bake 12 minutes or until golden. Remove from heat and let cool completely. Meanwhile, in a small bowl whisk together dressing, mustard and basil and set aside. In a large salad bowl, combine romaine, bell pepper, onion, and chicken. Add dressing and toss gently, yet thoroughly, to coat. Add croutons, toss, and top with feta.
Ingredients: 1 (18-1/4 oz.) box cake mix (your choice); 1 can (12 oz.) soda pop (your choice).
Instructions: Spray crock pot with nonstick spray. Combine cake mix and soda, pour into crock pot. Cook on low 2-3 hours or until a toothpick inserted in middle comes out clean.
Different Combos: Orange cake mix and orange soda, white cake with root beer, vanilla cake mix with orange soda, butter pecan and Sprite, chocolate cake and ginger ale, strawberry cake and Sprite, chocolate cake mix and Diet Dr. Pepper.
Happy Cooking, SugarReturn to the Table of Contents
The Silicon Valley Council of the Blind (SVCB) has designed and is selling a unique tactile T-shirt. Our shirts say, "reading is for everyone" in regular print, braille, and large print. The text is written on the front cover of a closed book, and the book is wearing a pair of headphones to include the idea of audio books. These short-sleeve shirts are white with the artwork in black. Shirts are available in ladies' sizes small-2X without pockets, men's sizes small-3X with and without pockets, and children's sizes small-large without pockets. Shirts without pockets have the artwork on the front. Shirts with pockets have the pocket on the front left and the artwork on the back.
Shirts without pockets cost $17 each for adult sizes small-XL and $20 each for sizes 2X-3X. Shirts with pockets cost $19 each for sizes small-XL and $22 each for sizes 2X-3X. Children's sizes cost $13 each. Shipping charges will apply if you are unable to pick up orders personally.
For more information or to place an order, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 888-652-5333, or look for our booth at the fall convention. We will be donating 33% of our profits from the convention to CCB!
The California Alternate Rates for Energy (CARE) program provides PG&E customers a monthly discount on energy bills for income qualified households and housing facilities. Qualifications are based on the number of persons living in your home and your total annual household income. Call toll free 800-743-2273 for more information. When you are ready to enroll in the program call the CCB office at 800-221-6359 and ask for Ed Branch. He will assist you by completing the PG&E CARE enrollment form. Enrolling through the CCB office provides $15 back to CCB!
This program is also available to Southern California Edison customers, where income-qualified customers get a discount of 20% or more off their monthly electric bill. Call toll free 866-675-6623 for more information. When you are ready to enroll in the program call the CCB office at 800-221-6359 and ask for Ed Branch. He will assist you by completing the Southern California Edison CARE enrollment form. Enrolling through the CCB office provides $15 back to CCB!
All of us are aware of the gigantic cuts to the programs that serve those of us with disabilities. Disability Rights California is looking into filing an action to stop the cuts to IHSS. They need stories sent to them by email or fax ASAP to help them with the legal fight. Anyone who has or has recently had over 120 hours of IHSS per month should immediately send an email or fax telling about your fears and what cuts your worker has told you that you will receive. Please be brief and supply your full contact information as they will want to talk to many of us as soon as possible. In southern California send your emails to Rachel Scherer at email@example.com, and in Northern California send emails to Fred Nisen at Fred.Nisen@disabilityrightsca.org. You can also call 800-776-5746 and tell them that you are calling about IHSS cuts.
Thanks to major funding from the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs, and the support of private donors, RFB&D individual membership is now free to individuals with proper certification. Member benefits include: free access to the nation's largest audiobook library of textbooks and literature titles, human-narrated audiobooks with descriptions of images, tables and graphs; easy-to-use online catalog; 24/7 online member services and phone support; and various audiobook downloadable formats, including DAISY and WMA.
Register online for immediate access or download an application. If you need further assistance, please contact Member Services at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 800-221-4792.
The California Council of the Blind is joining a number of groups and individuals filing an objection to a proposed settlement of a case filed against several cities in Contra Costa County on access issues impacting the duties of these cities to meet their ADA obligations with respect to curb ramps and other barriers, and possibly issues such as accessible pedestrian signals. Not only would this settlement likely allow a city to use $10,000 or even less per year for 30 years to meet these obligations, a woefully inadequate amount, it would prevent persons with disabilities, including those who are blind or visually impaired, from filing any claims against these cities for failure to meet them. If you are a blind or low vision resident of Contra Costa County and would like to be represented with respect to the objection being filed against this settlement, please contact disability-rights attorney Terry Kilpatrick at Ernst & Mattison, 1020 Palm Street, San Luis Obispo, CA 93401 or by phone at 805-541-0300. He is very knowledgeable and easy to work with.
A joint production of SVCB and Vista Center, the Blind Interest Resource Directory (BIRD) is now available. This directory contains resources in California and the nation of use to blind and visually impaired people.
This edition is better organized and updated. It is available now in large print, braille, email, or on a CD. It will appear soon on the Vista Center and SVCB websites. Contact The Health Library at Vista Center: 650-858-0202 ext 132 or by email at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
[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. The presenceof an asterisk means that the individual served a partial term before the first full term.]