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CHANGE OF ADDRESS
If you are moving, please send your new address as soon as possible to Sharon Lovering, American Council of the Blind, 1155 15th St. NW, Suite 1004, Washington, DC 20005. You may also phone it in, or e-mail it to [email protected] Please note: if we receive your magazine back with a note from the post office saying that you are "temporarily away," we will take you off the list. Each returned magazine costs us between 50 cents and $1.21, which works out to around $1,000 a year. Help us save money; tell us your new address as soon as you know what it is.
Almost every week, there is an announcement of a new product or a revision of an existing one which makes technology more accessible to people who are blind. The funding to acquire the hardware and software that makes technology accessible is also getting easier to find. Indeed, many of our affiliates are working either alone or in concert with state agencies to create mechanisms to supply needed equipment to people who would otherwise not qualify under traditional VR rules. Certainly we have a long way to go before we can begin to be satisfied that all the blind people who can benefit from technology can get it. But every year, the proportion of people who are blind who have some kind of advanced technology is greater and we are clearly reaching a time when schools and post-secondary institutions recognize their obligation to make technological access available to students who are blind.
Unfortunately, equipment is not enough. Compliance with the law is not enough. We must also somehow translate inchoate hardware and software into tools that blind people can use and that is much harder. If there is a shortage of orientation and mobility instructors and rehabilitation teachers, then there is a virtual dearth of technology trainers. True, there are many people who are training blind people to use technology but, in my view, most of those who are out there providing training are not qualified to provide the kind of training blind people need. Of course this leads to two questions to which there are really no answers that are widely accepted. What kind of training do blind people need? And what makes a technology trainer qualified?
You will be glad to know that I don't propose to answer either of those questions here. I am content that we as an organization recognize that these two questions may be among the most important unanswered queries that face people who are blind today. We probably cannot even answer a much simpler question which is what kind of training do blind people get? The truth is there is nothing that comes close to a standardized notion of what access tech tools we need. Nor does there seem to be any consistency among states as to how much or indeed, whether they provide technology training. There is general agreement, however, that blind people who are not technologically competent are likely not to be employable a decade from now; there is remarkably little work being done by our field to devise approaches that will be consistent from state to state and that will keep us on top of this issue.
Too often, blind people receive just enough technology training to be dangerous -- and not nearly enough to be competent. Time and time again, I hear the same story: "I got training before I went to work, but when they changed software, I lost my job because I couldn't do the work."
Often an employer is vilified for his heartless decision to update to a more modern and useful computer interface than he had before. But can we seriously argue against the right of a private company to provide its employees with the most sophisticated and effective tools that are available? Can we even suggest that a firm should wait till a program is proven to be accessible while the company's competitors are already reaping the benefits that new systems offer? I think not. The first obligation of any business is to make money for its shareholders. That is their reason for existing.
Equally, it is unreasonable to expect an agency serving blind people to keep a case open just in case something goes wrong on the job. It is also unrealistic to expect that the case should be reopened because software no longer works. This is desirable, but by the time the paper work gets done, chances are the job will have already been lost. Besides, software gets updated at least once a year. In fact, one or another of the programs an employee is expected to use is likely to change every quarter. A blind person who doesn't have the capability to fix his or her own problem is very likely to become an unemployed casualty of change. It may well be that it is unrealistic to expect a blind person to be able to fix problems. So the question becomes what is the alternative? One answer is to create a whole new profession which we will call, for lack of better name, a technology access expediter. I know this terminology is very clumsy but I want us to recognize that this person needs to have been there yesterday to fix the problem. He or she may well represent the thread on which a job is hanging!
Who is to pay this person? Is it the company employing the blind person who should pay? Is it the blind person him- or herself? Should rehab create a generic position for someone who will work to keep consumers employed -- regardless of whether or not their cases have been closed?
There is some logic to this last approach. If most blind people do not retain their jobs -- and they don't -- and if many are fired for technology-related causes, it follows that those blind people who come afterward to the companies from which their blind predecessors were fired, will not receive anything like the kind of consideration that the pioneers did. Why expend dollars to make a job accessible for a blind person if he or she cannot perform the essential functions of the job for more than the first few months? Can rehab justify training blind people for these kinds of positions on the basis of creating potential for further jobs?
What role should access technology developers play? Much of the time, there is a gap of several months between the release of a new version of mainstream software and the release of a version of the access software that makes it usable. Should we as blind people accept this gap? Should we expect the manufacturers of mainstream software to make their products in ways that allow standard approaches to access to work? Do vendors who do not do this have a responsibility to make beta versions available to access tech makers so that their fixes can come out with the product that is released by the mainstream vendor? Most software CDs have lots of empty space. Could we persuade manufacturers to put access files right on their mainstream programs?
If we could take an approach that assured the cooperation of mainstream manufacturers and the access technology industry, we might not need a new profession. However, if we could make rain everywhere where there were deserts, droughts would disappear.
There is one possibility we have so far not considered and which is seldom, if ever, contemplated. It involves training a blind employee well enough so that he or she can solve any problems that arise. Obviously, this approach is superior to any of the others because it allows an employee to be the master or mistress of his or her own fate.
Perhaps, though, this solution is also unrealistic. I said earlier that I did not have all the answers. I know we must find them. Too many blind people are losing their jobs because they cannot keep up with the technology at their work places. Too many companies have been burned once by hiring a blind employee who could not function and swear they will not do it again. Too many agencies concern themselves only with quick closure and care little about the long-term capacity of employees to retain their jobs. Access technology makers release a new version once or at most twice a year and many do not put fixes for new mainstream software into a place where those who need them can get them. Lest anyone assume that I absolve employers let me quickly say that a blind employee usually discovers that the company is contemplating adopting new software when he/she comes to work in the morning and discovers that he/she can no longer do the job because the information he or she needs is no longer accessible.
ACB must and will take the lead in putting pressure on all of the entities discussed here because we must. Technology change is as inevitable as taxes, and somehow we must find ways to respond to it more quickly than we do now. Unless we can find solutions, there is a permanent reservation for blind folks in the land of the underclass. Let's not go there! I know that, for many of you, my emphasis on technology falls little short of a manic fixation. Only time will prove whether it is as intrinsic to employment as I claim. If I am even remotely right to be concerned, the time for action is long past. We can't afford to wait because the clock is ticking. So let us harness the capacity and competence of blind people and begin to deal with the conundrum of technological change. A good job is a horrible thing to lose!
(Editor's Note: Jonathan Mosen is the gentleman whose New Zealand-accented voice you hear on ACB Radio. Jonathan has been operating our Internet radio station -- easily linked to from the ACB home page -- since early December. In the letter below, posted to the ACB-radio list on March 17, Jonathan gave his listeners a preview of the exciting paths ACB-Radio was about to take. After these changes were made in early April, the most frequently heard comment about our global radio station was, "ACB Radio--Wow!")
ACB Radio began broadcasting on December 1, 1999. In that time, we've brought you hundreds of hours of programming, including old time radio, technology discussion, debates on current issues in the blind community, and, of course, news about ACB. The success of ACB Radio has undisputedly proven the market for the blind community's own radio station. Listenership has increased steadily, and already we are airing content from around the world.
Internet broadcasting is truly about to enter its golden age. The fidelity of audio over the Internet is improving all the time, and we are seeing listeners being freed from sitting in front of their computers just to hear Internet audio. A number of devices now exist that rebroadcast your computer's audio on a standard FM radio, stand-alone Internet tuner appliances are now coming on the market, and the next generation of cellular phones will provide the necessary tools and bandwidth to allow us to listen to streaming audio anywhere.
ACB Radio is therefore pleased to announce a considerable expansion of its services, which we expect to come on stream sometime in April.
ACB Radio will be separating into three distinct content streams. ACB-Radio Treasure-Trove will broadcast an expanded collection of old-time radio content. A large amount of programming will be made available, and changed every two weeks. So if old-time radio happens to be your thing, there will be no interruptions, and we aim to be the best Internet old-time radio station out there!
The second stream, the ACB Radio Cafe, is something we're really excited about. ACB Radio's all-music channel will feature nothing but music from blind musicians. Of course the commercially recorded artists will be there, but we also want to play music by lesser-known artists, including those who have not been released commercially. We obviously expect the music to be good audio quality. The collection is being assembled now. If you would like to be included on this new music station, please contact me as soon as possible at [email protected] This music stream further develops our "by the blind, for the blind" concept and we are sure it will attract a lot of interest from outside the blind community too, so as well as entertaining an international audience, maybe you'll be discovered!
The third stream, ACB-Radio Mainstream, will be entirely devoted to programs produced by or about blind people. Every day, two hours of new content, some of it live, some of it pre-recorded, will be made available on this channel. There will be an increase in live talk shows, such as a new technology show and a hard- hitting blindness issues program, reports from special events, and more.
Listeners will be informed about what's going to be on, when, via a regular schedule published on the web site. The two hours of new material will be on live at the same time each day, then rotated thereafter until the next update of the live content.
Finally, we're taking advantage of the Internet to put you in control. All your favorite blindness-related content will be made available on-demand. This means that you can listen to a show you want to hear, when you want to hear it.
In addition to providing links for RealPlayer 7 and Winamp for our streams, we'll also be introducing an easy way for you to change ACB Radio channels. RealPlayer users will be able to switch between channels with a press of the page-up and page-down keys. Winamp users will be able to move between channels by using the B and Z keys.
We look forward to your continued support during this period of significant change and growth for ACB Radio. Thank you, our ACB Radio listeners, for making it all possible, and thanks to ACB for having the vision.
Jonathan Mosen mailto:[email protected]
(Editor's Note: Because Charlie Hodge and I both took extensive notes at the mid-year board meeting, we have combined resources to provide the account below.)
Highlights of the ACB mid-year board meeting, which took place February 20 and 21, 2000, in Louisville, Ky., included a unanimous vote to accept the petition of Blind Friends of Lesbians and Gays to become a special-interest affiliate of ACB, approval of the budget for the coming fiscal year, and reports by the president, executive director, director of advocacy and governmental relations, "Braille Forum" editor, board of publications, and convention coordinator.
Since he had presented an extensive report at the mid-year meeting the previous day, ACB President Paul Edwards chose to give an abbreviated report at this meeting. (See the April 2000 issue of "The Braille Forum.")
Edwards began by describing his concern about chronic fragmentation within the blindness community, and the continued inability of that community and its leaders to deal effectively with certain predictable and obstructive actions by the National Federation of the Blind.
"When the NFB repeatedly makes consensus development impossible to achieve, at some point, leaders in our community will have to convey to them ... that such continuing conduct is simply inappropriate and is injuring the best interest of all blind people," Edwards said.
Next, Edwards shared his concern about incessant assaults against the Americans with Disabilities Act, not merely within the legal arena, but, more alarming, by the press and other media.
"We must develop strategies to counter and deflect such attacks if the ADA and our progress under that act are not to be undermined and destroyed," Edwards said.
In response to questions posed by Pam Shaw and Sanford Alexander, Edwards explained that ACB would be addressing this important issue by providing ADA training at the upcoming legislative seminar, and sponsoring ADA clinics scheduled for this summer's national convention.
Finally, Edwards congratulated the national office for its success in making ACB the organization to which policy makers and the public turn to when questions arise about people who are blind. "ACB is truly becoming the leading organization of the blind in our country," Edwards said.
Reports from the National Office
Executive Director Charlie Crawford outlined ongoing measures in the national office which take advantage of the strengths of individual staff members, and use a team approach to address various projects. Recognizing that Melanie Brunson's plate is full to overflowing, as she has responsibility for both advocacy and legislative matters, Crawford explained that he has assumed an active role on certain legislative fronts. He also indicated that the national office will continue to spend frugally while attempting to increase revenues by writing innovative grant proposals.
In reply to a question from Debbie Grubb, Crawford said that he understood that membership lists (which affiliates needed to update for credentials purposes) had been forwarded in a timely fashion by staff members in the national office to all the affiliates in the formats they had requested. When certain board members expressed skepticism about whether this, in fact, had occurred, Crawford said that dissatisfied affiliates should contact him quickly to resolve any misunderstandings on this crucial matter.
Crawford next gave a report on behalf of Melanie Brunson regarding implementation of the resolutions which had been passed at the 1999 national convention. "ACB is particularly pleased by the progress we've made toward implementing the resolutions which dealt with the Randolph-Sheppard vending program," Crawford said. "With respect to credit card and banking issues, because of court actions either taken or threatened by our state affiliates, we are beginning to see real progress, in terms of accessible ATMs, as well as account statements and billing information being provided in the accessible formats of our consumers' choice."
He expressed optimism about getting a meeting with insurance- industry representatives to make progress on obtaining insurance materials in alternative formats.
Finally, Crawford said that, as a result of ACB's participation at Rights-of-Way subcommittee meetings, we may well get a strong proposed regulation from the Access Board in January of 2001 on accessible street crossings which will address many of our positions on issues such as having audible signal boxes at all four corners of signalized intersections. Braille Forum Subscriptions Up
In her editor's report, Penny Reeder told the board that subscriptions to "The Braille Forum" were up approximately 7 percent during the past year. However, she continued, many of ACB's dues-paying members do not subscribe to "The Braille Forum." This information spawned considerable discussion between the assembled board members and Reeder. The board voted to accept Reeder's report, which had also been submitted to the ACB board of directors and the board of publications in written formats.
Report of the Board of Publications
The report was given by BOP member and ex officio ACB board member Charles Hodge. He reported that, under trying circumstances -- because of absent members and assorted travel delays -- the BOP had met on February 18 by telephone conference call. A number of recommendations had come out of the three-and- a-half-hour BOP meeting. First, Hodge moved on behalf of the BOP that the board approve ACB's subscribing to a source book of sources and experts. He told the board that the annual cost would be $600, and explained that the subscription would greatly expand the universe of sources and experts to whom we could convey our expertise on blindness issues. The board voted to pass the motion.
Second, Hodge moved that ACB cover the reasonable expenses of bringing an individual who had been instrumental in publishing "The Braille Free Press" to the Louisville convention in July for the purpose of presenting this individual with a special lifetime achievement award. After several questions about whether nominating this individual for one of our normal awards might be more appropriate, the motion was amended to state that ACB would shoulder the cost of bringing the potential award recipient to the Louisville convention, and that the president, treasurer, executive director, BOP chairman, and awards committee chairman would confer to decide exactly what award would be granted to this special individual.
Finally, the board of publications recommended to the board that as an exception to the executive director's newly adopted policy on distribution of ACB publications, unlimited numbers of the general membership brochure should be distributed without charge -- in an effort to deplete supplies of that brochure so that it could be rewritten at the earliest possible date. Although the ACB board of directors did not take any formal action on this recommendation, it did vote to accept the report of the BOP.
Report of the Convention Coordinator
LeRoy Saunders, the convention coordinator, told the board that, just before this meeting, he had been informed by the lead hotel in Des Moines that that hotel did not have available space for our affiliate presidents' and board of directors' meetings on Presidents' Day weekend in February of 2001. Saunders then asked for the board's instructions on this matter.
After some discussion about where the coming September and February board meetings should be convened, the board instructed Saunders to attempt to schedule both mid-year meetings at the lead hotel in Des Moines over Martin Luther King holiday weekend in January of 2001. (Editor's Note: At this writing, both meetings have been scheduled at the Des Moines Marriott during the second weekend of January 2001.)
Saunders told the board that the convention industry has been moving toward building smaller hotels around convention centers. He reported that Birmingham, Ala., and Albuquerque, N.M. have expressed real interest in the 2003 convention. Both of these proposals would in all likelihood involve multiple hotels and the use of a convention center. After board members made several suggestions about other possibilities for 2003, the board thanked Saunders for his excellent report.
BFLAG Accepted as ACB's Newest Special-Interest Affiliate
After learning from the president and executive director that all petition documents were in order, board members heard and voted upon the petition of Blind Friends of Lesbians and Gays (BFLAG) to become an affiliate of the American Council of the Blind. Rob Hill, an ACB member from Tulsa, Okla., presented the group's petition.
Hill told the board that since the founding 13 members of the group had come together for the first time at the Tulsa convention, membership had steadily increased, to the point where they felt their interests, as well as those of ACB, would be served best by their becoming a special-interest affiliate. Hill said that blind people who are gay cope with unique difficulties, which are defined more by their blindness than by their homosexuality.
"Our experiences with hate crimes, for example, are unique to us, not as gay people but as blind people," Hill said. "In a gay population, two tenths of one percent may be blind. But, in a blind organization, probably 10 percent of the membership is gay."
Hill said that he expected BFLAG's membership to double by the summer. "Some people have already come to ACB conventions because of our presence there," he said.
Dawn Christensen told the group about attending BFLAG meetings in Orlando and in Los Angeles. "At least a third of the members came as new people, coming for the first time to ACB."
Hill said that BFLAG could address issues which are uniquely important to people who are both gay and blind -- such as making gay and lesbian-specific publications available in accessible formats. "Our visibility [as blind people] will be increased within the gay community, and the ACB's visibility will be increased, as well."
Debbie Grubb said, "I frankly don't see how we could say anything but yes to questions about whether this is a special interest or not."
The ACB board voted unanimously to accept the petition of Blind Friends of Lesbians and Gays to become a special-interest ACB affiliate.
In his report on ACB Enterprises and Services (ACBES), LeRoy Saunders told the board that, in order to meet their budgetary commitments to ACB, at the end of the 1999 calendar year, ACBES had transferred almost a quarter of a million dollars from its reserves to ACB.
"This is a substantial hit on ACBES's reserves," Saunders said. "But there is some good news to report. ACBES has signed leases and will shortly be relocating our Knoxville, Tenn., and Amarillo, Texas, thrift stores to new and improved locations. In addition, after much soul searching, ACBES has finally decided to close our thrift store in West Allis, Wis. ... Although the store closing in West Allis will involve some losses on the balance sheet, ACBES management is transferring many fixtures from West Allis to a new store which ACBES will shortly be opening in Des Moines, Iowa."
Stating that sales volume for the first month and a half of this year was approximately $45,000 ahead of that for the comparable period last year, Saunders expressed confidence that ACBES will be able to meet its financial obligations to ACB.
ACB treasurer Patricia Beattie reported that, as of the end of ACB's fiscal year on December 31, 1999, ACB had total revenues for the 1999 budgetary year of $1,070,000, with total expenditures of $1,282,000. In order to cover the shortfall, some $211,000 from prior years' surpluses and reserve funds were utilized.
Beattie reassured the board that the entire $550,000 board- designated reserve remained untouched. She also lauded the national office for its cost-saving initiatives which had led to spending of over $200,000 less than had been budgeted for their purposes last year. The board accepted Beattie's report.
Pat Beattie and Charlie Crawford presented the proposed 2000 budget, which contained $1,330,000 of projected revenue and $1,445,000 of projected outlays. Beattie noted that, while the proposed budget anticipates a deficit of $115,000, which will have to come from prior years' surpluses and reserves, the budget committee's projections had been very conservative on the revenue side.
Crawford also noted that this budget continues to reflect the national office's efforts to streamline existing programs and services which will be performed at the same high level, but at less cost.
Chief Financial Officer Jim Olsen indicated that this proposed budget contained approximately $100,000 to cover new initiatives such as larger monthly issues of "The Braille Forum," and that, typically, ACB does not spend all of its budgeted expenditures. In fact, in fiscal 1999, ACB expenditures were actually over $200,000 less than had been projected and budgeted a year before. Olsen also pointed out that ACB has been making slow but measurable progress in diversifying its income sources and becoming less dependent upon thrift store income. He stated that ACBES's contribution toward total expenditures was down to 69 percent in fiscal year 1999 whereas that contribution had been as high as 90 percent of total expenditures in previous years.
The board voted to adopt both the revenue side and the expenditure side of the proposed ACB 2000 budget in aggregate. When Hodge asked whether this draft budget contained any monies to go toward board-designated reserves, he was informed that the budget did not contain any specific line item for that purpose -- although it was anticipated that some funds would accrue to reserves since any amounts over $75,000 received attributable to bequests would automatically go toward reserves. Olsen explained that he was confident that ACB would receive in excess of $75,000 in bequests during fiscal year 2000. The board then voted to approve the ACB 2000 budget with one director, John Buckley, voting in the negative.
Charlie Crawford acknowledged the hard work and major contribution of Milly Lillibridge of Richmond, Va., who has completed a comprehensive review of all ACB board meeting minutes from the early 1960s to the present, and has written a report listing all formal actions taken by the ACB board. Crawford indicated his intention of sharing Lillibridge's report with the board prior to the July convention in Louisville, and the board indicated by applause its thanks to Lillibridge for a hard job well done.
Mitch Pomerantz, chairman of the Rights and Responsibilities Task Force, presented the group's draft policy statement, and the board voted to endorse it, with the understanding that the document would next be distributed to ACB affiliates for comment, and that comments and suggested revisions would then be taken into account before a final document's presentation to the board for adoption.
Brian Charlson presented the proposal which WeMedia Inc. had made to ACB to accept ACB as a non-profit partner and to host ACB's web site, free of charge, from the WeMedia platform. Charlson noted that Telepath had recently been acquired by a larger corporation, and that there was some uncertainty about the terms of our continuing relationship. After discussion, the board voted to accept WeMedia's proposal and to begin the process of moving the web site to that platform.
(Editor's Note: During the first week of April, ACB decided to discontinue a relationship with WeMedia because of that entity's inability to meet ACB's standards for accessibility and their insistence upon altering the terms of our original agreement. ACB is currently working with Telepath Inc. to facilitate the kinds of change and growth in our Internet presence which will be most beneficial to our members and others who wish to learn about blindness and the American Council of the Blind.)
The board voted to adopt amended convention guidelines which bar the sale of goods or services from ACB-subsidized suites or rooms for personal profit.
At Crawford's urging, the board also voted to approve the creation of a voluntary sick-leave bank for members of the national office staff.
Under new business, Edwards indicated his belief that ACB would participate as an amicus curiae in the Supreme Court to argue against constitutional challenges to the ADA under the 11th Amendment. Edwards also praised the spirit of cooperation and partnership which has characterized the efforts of ACB, the Randolph-Sheppard Vendors of America (RSVA) and the National Educational and Legal Defense Service for the Blind and Visually Impaired (NELDS) in standing up for the rights of blind vendors in federal court in the litigation brought by the National Industries for the Severely Disabled (NISH). Edwards noted with pleasure that the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia had ruled in our favor by permitting ACB, RSVA and NELDS to intervene as parties defendant. The board concurred with the president's sentiments with a round of spontaneous applause.
Finally, Edwards told the board that the National Association of Radio Reading Services had recently broadened the scope of its mission and changed its name to the International Association of Audio Information Services (IAAIS). Edwards explained that the newly organized association will, as a matter of policy, grant only advisory status to consumer organizations. However, since our particular consumer organization is now an on-air information provider -- through ACB Radio -- ACB qualifies for full membership in the association. The board of directors voted to authorize the president to apply on ACB's behalf for membership in IAAIS.
With all that we have heard about the information superhighway, could it be that there is something even bigger coming? With e- mail just a few mouse clicks away and the world wide web bubbling over the telephone wires, what else is there for the keyboard-weary consumer to do? Ta-da! Itūs called convergence and it will change the world of information delivery within the next 10 years.
How often do you consider all that electronic clutter in your house -- you know, TVs, cassette players, CD changers, portable phones, VCRs, or a DVD system, modems, computers...? Well, remember those old consoles where the radio and the record player and the TV were all in one? Here it comes! The Internet will be streaming information right to your set-top box where it will split off into all kinds of applications.
No, I haven't gone off my rocker; how does the following sound to you? Imagine a box on top of your television. The box will get all the information from the Internet in what is called broad band. The information can then be split up between your television for movies and entertainment, a special radio that will play Internet radio streams like ACB-Radio, a telephone hook-up to allow you to make calls anywhere in the world for almost nothing and even links to appliances -- so you can turn the heat on before coming home or get that dinner started. This latter scenario will probably come about because that box sitting atop your TV can become a transmitter of information and instructions to multiple receivers and appliances in your house.
But wait! What about accessibility and how to use the darn things?
Well, this is where ACB must get more involved with all of this stuff. Almost everything I have mentioned above is already in existence, but almost everything I have mentioned relies upon visual interactions. We've got good people like Brian Charlson, Debbie Cook, Julie Carroll and others trying to keep up with all of this, but the challenges are great and we will need to be calling on other members to develop expertise and get in the mix of it all.
If we donūt want to have to rely on our seven-year-old friends and neighbors to hook us up to our phones, radios, or kitchen stoves, we all need to pay attention to the burgeoning technologies that are exploding all around us, and begin insisting on the kinds of non-visual access which will be crucial to our independence and quality of life.
On his way to the Alabama Council of the Blind convention in Mobile, Huntsville member Curtis Tucker, his wife and his dog guide stopped for lunch at a Burger King a few blocks from the convention hotel. The manager refused to serve him, and said that he would have to leave because of the dog. Curtis, who has been a dog guide user for more than 12 years, had lived in other states and had never been refused service before.
When the manager refused to even acknowledge the fact that Alabama has a strong dog guide law, Curtis and his family left and ate lunch -- without controversy -- at another fast food restaurant a block or so away. After convention attendee and guide-dog user Jimmy Gibson heard Tucker's account of this experience, he and his dog guide decided to visit the Burger King the next afternoon. This time when he was refused service, Gibson asked the manager to call the police. When the policeman came, he informed the manager that he had to serve our member, which he did reluctantly.
We saw these events as an opportunity to educate, not to chastise the Burger King, its owner, or the corporate management. After we contacted them, the restaurant owner -- who lives out of state -- and spokespersons for Burger King's corporate headquarters apologized. They have agreed to notify all of their managers across the country about dog guide laws.
ACB member Jamie Ison has scheduled an in-service training seminar with the area-wide Better Business Bureau, all Burger King managers in the Mobile area, and the Mobile Convention Bureau. In addition, I have contacted the Alabama Restaurant Association about this issue, and they have agreed to publish the Alabama Dog Guide Law in their next newsletter.
We feel good about having accomplished our goal of educating this one small segment of society without making a mountain out of a molehill. To be sure, there are already many mountains we must climb -- e.g., descriptive video services, Social Security linkage, etc. -- so we need to confront the molehills as they come up one at a time, before they have the chance to become mountains. Itūs too bad that there are so many molehills in some peopleūs lives. That goes for organizations too!
Hotel address and telephone number
Galt House Hotel
140 N. Fourth St.
Louisville, KY 40202
Room rates are $65 per night plus tax. In order to make a reservation, you are required to pre-pay for one nightūs lodging with a credit card, check or money order. In order to receive a refund of your deposit, you must notify the hotel of changes in your plans at least 48 hours prior to your arrival date. If you canūt come to convention, notify ACB and the hotel by May 31.
You should use ACB's travel agency, Prestige Travel, to make all your convention-related travel arrangements. Call (800) 966- 5050 and ask for Gina Marie.
The Galt House Hotel is about 15 minutes from the airport. It costs $15 one way to take a taxi to or from the airport. There are also shuttles for $8 per person that run from the airport. (Prices are subject to change.)
To learn more about the Galt House and the Louisville area, visit the web site, http://www.galthouse.com.
From the million-year-old rocks that mark the beginning of Louisville to the modern cityscape of today, Kentucky awaits your arrival. The time is right to gather at the Galt House. Your week on the banks of the Ohio River will be exciting, informative and just plain fun. Come join two or three thousand of your friends, and have the time of your life.
Although tours are only one aspect of the many activities that you will discover in Louisville, the following line-up may serve as your starting gate to a wonderful time in a great city. Kentucky 2000 Convention Tours
Please check your convention registration packet for complete details. Note that tour return times listed here are approximate.
Bardstown Area Tour (May the Spirits be With You): Friday, June 30, departs at 9 a.m., returns at midnight
A Day at the Races (Get Lucky and Live Like a Millionaire): Saturday, July 1, repeated Sunday, July 2, departs at 11 a.m. and returns at 6 p.m.
Louisville City Tour (A Great Louisville Experience): Saturday, July 1, repeated Sunday, July 2, departs at 9 a.m. and returns at 3 p.m.
The Louisville Slugger Museum (You Could Go "Battie" in this Place): Monday, July 3, repeated Thursday, July 6 and Friday, July 7, departs at 2:30 p.m. and returns 4:30 p.m.
The American Printing House for the Blind and Kentucky School for the Blind (A Special Moment in Time): Sunday, July 2, Museum only, departs at 1:30 p.m. and returns at 4:30 p.m.; Monday, July 3, Museum and Studio, departs at 12:30 p.m. and returns at 4:30 p.m., tour two departs at 1:30 p.m. and returns at 5:30 p.m.; no tours on July 4; July 5 through July 7, Museum, Studio and Production areas, departs at 12:30 p.m. and returns at 4:30 p.m., and a second tour each day departs at 1:30 p.m. and returns at 5:30 p.m.
Frankfort, State Capitol, History Center (History in Your Hands): Wednesday, July 5, departs at 12:30 p.m. and returns at 5:30 p.m.
Kentucky Lions Eye Foundation (The Latest in Eye Research): Wednesday, July 5, departs at 2:40 p.m. and returns at 4:30 p.m.
The Belle of Louisville Riverboat Cruise (One Enchanted Evening): Wednesday, July 5, leaves Galt House East at 7 p.m., walk to the dock and board boat, returns around 11:30 p.m.
Locust Grove (History Restored for You): Friday, July 7, departs at 2:30 p.m. and returns at 4:30 p.m.
The Derby Dinner Theater (An End of Convention Fling): Saturday, July 8, departs at 5 p.m. and returns at 11 p.m.
The United States Braille Chess Association (USBCA) and the U.S. Chess Federation will conduct the 2000 U.S. Chess Championship for the Blind during the convention of the American Council of the Blind at the Galt House in Louisville, Ky.
Registration for this five-round tournament will be held at noon on Friday, July 7. Rounds on Friday will take place at 1 p.m. and 7 p.m., while rounds on Saturday, July 8, will take place at 10 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. The final round will take place at 10 a.m. on Sunday, July 9, and the awards ceremony will be held as soon as the final round is completed.
Trophies and cash prizes will be awarded to the players finishing first, second and third in the tournament, as well as to the players with the highest score in class B through E. The unrated player with the highest score will also receive a cash prize, so even if you have never played in a rated tournament before, you could win some money.
The tournament registration fee is $35, and players must belong to both the USBCA and the United States Chess Federation.
For more than 30 years, the USBCA has been promoting chess among blind and visually impaired chess players. We sponsor a correspondence tournament as well as this over-the-board competition. We have a small library of chess books which can be borrowed by members. Dues are $15 for two years.
For more information about the tournament, please contact Jay Leventhal, USBCA secretary, 111-20 76th Road, Apt 5L, Forest Hills, NY 11375; phone (718) 275-2209. Or contact us through our web site, http://www.crisscrosstech.com/usbca.
IN A COURTLY MANNER
One of the CCLVI program sessions at this year's ACB convention will offer an inside look at the U.S. court system. This session will bring together a judge, a juror, a witness, a victim and a defendant, all of whom are blind or visually impaired. They'll be disclosing their encounters with a system which often thinks that "seeing is believing."
This program, titled "Show Trials," is scheduled for Tuesday afternoon, July 4, and will feature remarks from Richard Casey, a federal judge from the southern district of New York.
The National Association of Blind Teachers (NABT) is proud to present a full, exciting agenda of activities during convention week in Louisville. The schedule for the week is shown below.
Sunday, July 2 7-8 a.m. NABT board meeting. Open to public. 8-9:30 a.m.: NABT breakfast and program. Topic: "Looking Back: A History of Educating Blind and Visually Impaired People in America." Presenter: Carol Tobe, Director, the Marie and Eugene Callahan Museum of the American Printing House for the Blind. This program will include hands-on exhibits.
Monday, July 3 1:45-4:30 p.m.: APH: A Valuable Resource for Blind Teachers. Presenters: APH personnel. 1:45-2:15 p.m.: Administering Standardized Tests: What the Blind Teacher Needs to Know. 2:15-4:30 p.m.: Show and Tell: What's New and Currently Available at APH in Technology and Educational Products.
Tuesday, July 4 1:45-2:30 p.m.: NABT business meeting and elections. Come to elect officers and share your ideas for our organization. 2:30-2:45 p.m.: Break. 2:45-4:00 p.m.: "The ABCs of Classroom Management." Presenters: a panel of blind and visually impaired teachers, to be announced. Friday, July 7 A tour of the American Printing House for the Blind, APHūs museum and the Kentucky School for the Blind, co-sponsored by IVIE and NABS. Please note that this will be the late afternoon tour.
There you have it: NABT's convention week program. We are looking forward to seeing many of you at the convention!
The Independent Visually Impaired Enterprisers (IVIE) has an exciting program planned for you during the 2000 national convention in Louisville, and we donūt want you to miss a moment of it!
On Wednesday, July 5, IVIE will hold a breakfast and business meeting. Breakfast and the meeting begin at 7 a.m., and include a keynote address by Robert E. Johnson, president of Opportunities for the Blind. Register for this breakfast as soon as possible to make sure you get a ticket.
Are you thinking about starting your own business? Or do you already have a business, but want to learn more about strategies that will help make your business more successful?
Come to the two-day seminar Wednesday and Thursday, July 5 and 6 from 1:45 to 4 p.m. both days. The seminar is called "Succeeding in Small Business as a Blind Person from People Who Have Actually Done It." On Wednesday, we will cover "The Idea," "What You Need to Know," and "Getting Started." On Thursday, we will cover "Maintaining and Growing Your Business."
On Thursday, July 6 from 5 to 8 p.m., the IVIE Business Expo will take place. The expo was so successful last year that we are bringing it back! This is where visually impaired entrepreneurs get to showcase their products and services, answer questions about their businesses, and network with other blind business owners and potential clients. Everyone is welcome to attend. If you are a visually impaired business owner who would like to have a table at the expo, you must register with IVIE no later than June 1. A table costs $10 for IVIE members, $25 for non-members. If you are not a member, please let us know if you want $10 of your registration fee to go toward IVIE membership dues. For your convenience, the Business Expo Registration Form is printed at the end of this article. Of course, browsing through the expo is free.
Finally, on Friday, July 7, IVIE, NABT and NABS will sponsor a tour to the American Printing House for the Blind. This tour will include APHūs museum and the Kentucky School for the Blind.
Hope to see you in Louisville!
IVIE BUSINESS EXPO REGISTRATION FORM
Registration Fee: IVIE member: $10
If non-member, would you like $10 of your registration fee applied toward IVIE annual dues?
Please make check payable to the Independent Visually Impaired Enterprisers and send it, along with this registration form, to: Carla Hayes, 230 Robinhood Lane, McMurray, PA 15317.
This form may be submitted in braille or print. The registration deadline is Thursday, June 1, 2000. If you have any questions, call Carla at (724) 941-8184.
Come and enjoy southern hospitality with Guide Dog Users, Inc. at this year's ACB national convention! All programs for GDUI will take place at the Galt House beginning Sunday, July 2, and concluding Wednesday, July 5. The Galt House, Kentucky's largest hotel, is located on the banks of the Ohio River at 140 N. Fourth St. in Louisville.
Louisville in July tends to be very hot and humid; average temperatures are the mid-80s to 90s. If your dogs are not used to hot, humid weather, they may require more frequent watering. For some dogs, the asphalt may present a challenge as it absorbs the heat. If your dog is not used to walking on hot sidewalks, you may want to restrict your outdoor walking to early morning or mid-evening hours when it is cooler.
Louisville has drinking water suitable for human and dog consumption. Dogs with sensitive systems may do better drinking bottled water, which may be available in the GDUI suite. For most dogs, drinking Louisville tap water should not present any difficulties.
Feeders Supply of Louisville will be delivering food twice during convention week. To place an order, call (502) 583-3867. Credit card orders may be placed from June 25 to July1 between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. Eastern time. When placing a dog food order, be sure to ask for Tracy Duncan or Pam Longwell and state that you are with the American Council of the Blind. They will need you to provide the specific brand, main ingredient and size, e.g. Iams, lamb and rice, eight pounds. Feeders carries eight major brands of food, including Science Diet, Nature's Recipe, Iams, Eukanuba, Eagle, Nutro, Pro Pac, and Pro Plan. Credit card orders are preferred; however, you can pay cash on delivery. Out-of-town checks will not be accepted. Dog food will be delivered to the GDUI suite on Sunday, July 2 at noon and Wednesday, July 5 at noon. Unclaimed food will be returned to the store.
Emergency veterinary care is available through Dr. Richard Rabek at the Crescent Hill Animal Hospital located at 2265 Frankfort Ave. in Louisville; phone (502) 893-0063. An initial $32 emergency office visit fee will be charged upon arrival. Should additional medical procedures be necessary, an estimate of the total cost will be provided prior to treatment. A deposit is required prior to treatment, and the full balance will be required prior to discharging the animal. The Animal Emergency Facility does accept checks and credit cards. Please be aware that it is imperative to have your dog on flea protection. Also, Dr. Rabek cautions handlers to watch out for potential problems with hot spots and/or allergies, especially with golden retrievers.
Canine Stress Relief Area
Guiding Eyes for the Blind along with several other schools hopes to sponsor a fenced area where a guide dog can shed harness and leash, play a little ball, kong, tug of war, or just relax and sniff around for a few minutes. The schools plan to make the area available to all guide dogs at the convention, and will provide supervision on a scheduled basis. Be sure to check with the GDUI suite for location, hours of use, and rules for enjoyment.
The Tellington Touch
A T-touch workshop as well as private sessions will be offered at this year's convention. T-touch therapy may be especially helpful with dogs experiencing stress, fear of loud noises (including thunderstorms and fireworks), arthritis, hip dysplasia, lack of self-confidence, and/or grief. Kentucky's T- touch practitioner, Stephanie Schaefer, will be conducting a two- hour workshop on Sunday, July 2. She will also be available for private sessions throughout the week. To schedule a private session, or to learn more about her work, call Stephanie at (502) 634-9536 or e-mail [email protected]
What about barking dogs?
Barking dogs should never be left alone to disturb hotel guests while their owners enjoy a stress-free evening without harness in hand. The Galt House will address the owners of dogs who bark excessively as they would address other hotel guests that are a nuisance. The hotel has a "three strikes and you're out" policy. You will be contacted by hotel security and warned twice; upon the third contact, you will be escorted off the premises.
Dog Relief Area
The designated relief area for the west tower of the Galt House will be located on the third floor. The east towerūs relief area will be located off the main lobby in the south parking garage. Directions for the relief areas will be available at the ACB registration desk. GDUI and the Galt House will be testing a new relief area prototype design by GDUI member Kent Stanley. Historically, relief area surfaces other than concrete have presented some difficulties when handlers attempt to pick up solid waste. The new design uses burlap as a covering over the mulch. This covering creates a smooth surface which facilitates the complete removal of solid dog waste.
GDUI would like to encourage each of you to have your dogs participate in using the new prototype. Your help in filling out a brief survey, designed to determine the effectiveness of the test surface, will be greatly appreciated. We are happy to report that, despite the inclement weather in February, the new design was met with positive results at the ACB mid-year presidentsū meeting.
The hotel plans to provide pick-up bags, but be sure to bring plenty of your own just in case. Cleaning up after your dog is a MUST! Assistance will be available to train individuals in cleaning up if need be. It is our responsibility to assure a well-kept relief area. As stated in the ADA, hotels are required to reasonably accommodate us by providing a guide dog relief area; however, they have no obligation to maintain it. You may designate a tip for the guide dog relief fund on the pre- registration form. However, this contribution is merely a tip for hotel staff who have assisted in maintaining the relief area -- i.e., it is not payment for someone else to clean up after your dog.
If you use ice buckets as dog-food containers, the hotel will have to dispose of the buckets, because the plastic absorbs oil from the dog food. If you use hotel towels to play tug of war, the hotel will probably have to replace the towels because of tears from the dog's teeth. Bathing your dog in a hotel bathtub and leaving dog hair to clog the drain can cause plumbing problems and potential property damage. Indoor dog accidents which are left for someone else to clean up while a handler walks away cause extensive damage to the carpet as the mess gets trailed through the halls by other conventioneers. All of the above circumstances will be considered property damage by the hotel and appropriate fees will be assessed to your room to replace damaged property.
If your dog has an accident indoors and you need assistance in cleaning it up, you should stay near it while asking someone to find help for you. This will not result in damage assessments or fees; this is responsible dog handling. Indoor accidents are only considered damage when they are left to be tracked all over the halls and absorbed by the carpet. A $10 fee will be assessed to the rooms of those individuals who are seen leaving the site of an accident without assuring that it is taken care of.
In your preparations to attend the ACB national convention, be sure to pack plenty of plastic clean-up bags, dog toys, extra treats, and handy wipes for handling indoor accidents. Happy trails; see you in Louisville!
I kissed my two youngest children and sent them off, suitcases and backpacks in hand, to spend the weekend with their best friends. I stocked the larder for their two older brothers who would be spending the weekend on their own, and waved good- bye to my husband as he headed off to catch a plane for a week- long west-coast conference.
Miraculously, my paratransit cab arrived only 20 minutes late, and I was off -- to my first ACB legislative seminar!
Here's what it was like. The Advocacy Seminar
The Doubletree Park Terrace Hotel is a delightful little hostelry, with well-appointed rooms, terrific food and drink, a piano in the main lobby which was destined to get a pretty thorough workout during the late evenings of the weekend, and -- best of all -- a staff that seemed to enjoy being accommodating to their visually impaired guests.
Seminar events began right on schedule with opening remarks by ACB President Paul Edwards, introductions by the 120 people in the room, and an overview of what we could expect of the weekend.
Melanie Brunson took off her attorney's hat and put on that of an instructor -- as she taught us the rules and strategies for effective advocacy.
A highlight of the afternoon was an impromptu drama executed with great enthusiasm by Ray Campbell who played an earnest, if not entirely well-prepared advocate, and Charlie "Show-Me-The- Desk-Where-I-Can-Put-Up-My-Feet" Crawford, who played a reluctant legislator whom Ray was trying to persuade.
The audience laughed and applauded and learned. We were all energized and empowered to work with the federal, state, and local powers that be to explain our issues and secure a place in an accessible mainstream for people who are blind. The Capitol Steps
There were two events scheduled for Saturday evening. One was a reception hosted by ACB Second Vice President Pam Shaw, and the other was a trip to a local club where the popular "Capitol Steps" were putting on a show.
From the reports of several people who attended Pam's reception, I understand that the event was a rousing success. Members from as far away as Alaska and as close inside the beltway as Connecticut Avenue mixed and mingled and enjoyed each other's company.
I chose to board one of the buses for Petitbonūs in Arlington, Va. The Capitol Steps kept us laughing from beginning to end of their very entertaining show! Topics ranged through the political gamut and featured performances by John McCain and a very tall Bill Bradley, as well as skits featuring Bill Clinton, Al Gore and George W. (Yes, there were a few references to interns who happened to be wearing big blue dresses.) The parodies were funny, the caliber of the musical performances was high. Sharing jokes and food and drinks with friends was the best part of all!
Understanding the Issues
Bright and early the next morning, we assembled again in the ballroom at the Doubletree to learn about the issues which would take precedence at this year's seminar. There were four major topics which we all planned to present to our legislators, as follows:
ACB urges Congress to take no action with regard to the Americans with Disabilities Act that would undermine the effectiveness of this landmark legislation.
ACB supports increased funding for installation of audible signs and other measures to make the U.S. Capitol grounds more accessible to people who are blind and visually impaired.
ACB supports the increased availability of descriptive video programming. We further urge members of Congress to thank the Federal Communications Commission for recognizing the importance of descriptive video programming as a means of giving a significant part of our population fuller access to the public air waves.
ACB supports HR 2870, the Medicare Vision Rehabilitation Act, which provides Medicare reimbursement for the services of orientation and mobility specialists, rehabilitation teachers and low vision therapists.
The Issues Forum
The issues detailed above are pretty straightforward. No debate about whether we should or should not be taking these positions was anticipated, nor did any occur.
What about the issue of sub-minimum wage for blind industries' employees, however? ACB had resolved at the 1999 convention to do what we could organizationally to end the practice, as it applies to workers whose only disability is blindness. It was common knowledge that the Federation had made this issue the focus of its own legislative seminar about six weeks before ours. In December, Jim Gibbons, CEO of National Industries for the Blind, had convened a summit of all the leaders in the blindness community, where Gibbons had assured attendees that the various industries who still paid blind workers less than the minimum wage would end the practice.
To find out where we were at this point in time -- a month and a half after NFB members had brought the issue to the attention of their senators and representatives, and three months after Gibbons had made promises to do the right thing at the summit -- we held a briefing on the topic of sub-minimum wage for blind industries workers at our own legislative seminar.
We weren't hosting the Lincoln-Douglas debate, but watching the rapt attention of the audience, one might have thought we were. The Doubletree's small ballroom was bursting at the seams with about 150 people in attendance.
Chris Cox, who works for NFB as a Washington lobbyist, spoke first. Although the major focus of her presentation was on Social Security linkage and the need to convince our senators to remove the earnings limits for blind SSDI recipients, Cox did spend a few minutes talking about the plight of approximately 170 blind workshop employees who, despite having no other disability, still earn less than the minimum wage.
"Blind people," she said, "can perform just as well as their sighted colleagues ... This issue is different for people who are blind than it is for people with other kinds of disabilities ...We are not supporting the efforts of other disability groups to have the General Accounting Office (GAO) do a study. This issue has been studied and studied."
Gibbons, on the other hand, told those assembled that he sees no necessity for a Congressional mandate to eliminate sub-minimum wages for blind workers. He explained that there are fewer than 200 blind-only industries workers who earn less than minimum wage today, and that the leadership of the General Council of Industries for the Blind (GCIB) has, at his urging, developed a position paper which basically endorses the payment of minimum wage. Their policy statement has to be taken to the whole GCIB, and Gibbons said that he expected them to adopt the policy. (Editor's note: As we went to press, we learned that the GCIB is expected to vote on this issue on Saturday, April 15.)
"We'll crack that nut," he went on, "and serve as role models for anyone else who employs blind people."
Gibbons said that he keeps hearing anecdotal reports of blind-only workers receiving lifetime training (and therefore being constrained to sub-minimum wages), but he has never seen this kind of thing actually occurring. "I keep asking someone to show me where lifetime training exists," he said. "We need to legislate in a way that does not eliminate opportunities for people."
He told a story about a visually impaired woman who was not capable of doing a particular blind industries job at the production rate and would not have been hired if her employer were required to pay her at the minimum wage.
"This issue has been on the burner for 25 years," Gibbons concluded. "There is not a lot of patience, and I understand that. We'll see how -- or if -- the [GCIB] organization supports me." Questions for Gibbons
When asked for his comments on reported practices of some industries who hire just enough blind employees to procure lucrative government contracts, while the majority of their workers do not have visual impairments, and the somewhat questionable job focus of many blind industries on tasks such as printing, Gibbons replied:
"I have a great concern seeing these kinds of jobs being given high focus in the NIB Industries. ... My only accountability is to create more jobs for blind people ... Even if some agencies get a little creative with what they do, that's how you get more jobs for blind people and find out what works."
Charlie Crawford attempted to bring the focus of the discussion back to sub-minimum wage. "You have told us that NIB believes minimum wage is an important thing to get done, and that you are committed to doing it. While we admire you as a director of NIB, we can't guarantee that you will be able to make that agenda happen simply because you want it to be."
"We all have to make priorities," Gibbons answered. "My view is that this [issue] is immaterial, relative to the more important SGA [referring to linkage] battle that you are fighting."
Paul Edwards summed up the morning's forum: "We have been able to take a look at a couple of issues where there are not hard and fast answers ... where the good of one group may have to be balanced against the good of another group. At its center, what political advocacy is all about is weighing what is good and right to do against what is possible to get done. That's what this morning was all about." The Banquet
After a day of gathering facts and learning how to present our issues in the most effective ways, we were ready for some rest and recuperation. The banquet more than met our need for respite. Many said that the food at this year's banquet was the best in recent memory. And the banquet speaker, David Hauck, managed to transport us from our cares of the moment while still sharing information which was exceptionally relevant to our goals of the coming day.
Hauck, who is Assistant Director of the Office of Special Services of the U.S. Capitol, took us on a virtual tour of the Capitol building. We felt like we were there, as Hauck whisked us through the Great Rotunda, stopping here to point out the tobacco leaves which adorn so many pillars, and there to tell us why a sculpture of three famous suffragettes is called "Three Women in a Tub."
As the evening drew to a close we felt relaxed because of the food and camaraderie, and energized for our journey of the coming day.
The Hill Visits
Early on Monday morning, we boarded buses for the Hart Senate Office Building, where ACB's muster room, 902, was already staffed by ACB national staff members and volunteers who were eager to help us find our way to the various offices of our senators and representatives.
My first trip was to the office of my representative, Congresswoman Connie Morella (R-Md.). Although Al Pietrolungo, President of ACB of Maryland, and I did not get to speak with Morella, we were very pleased to meet with her legislative aide, Moira Shea, who happens to be a visually impaired guide dog user herself. She had a personal knowledge of the issues we were asking her to present to her boss -- especially the difficulty of finding one's way around the Capitol, and the need for video description -- and Al and I felt confident that our message had been heard.
As we met others coming and going through the Capitol and sharing a boxed lunch in the muster room, we learned that our colleagues felt that their voices were being heard as well.
As we go to press, seminar participants are still returning feedback forms which describe their visits to senators and representatives. We can report that, during the week of March 20, at least 130 constituent visits were made by members of the American Council of the Blind to their legislators. Impacts and Consequences
Congress took note of our presence on the hill. Several days later, at a hearing on the issue of eliminating the SGA for blind and other SSDI recipients, Rep. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) told committee members and the audience about his recent meetings with members of the American Council of the Blind.
"They explained to me," he said, "how Clovernook Press ... has had a hard time attracting workers with disabilities because of the earnings limitation. They told me that blind people want to work, but they can't because of the disincentives."
We summarized the results of survey questions which we asked legislative seminar participants about the accessibility of the Capitol building and its surrounding Senate and House office buildings. Overwhelmingly, our members reported that traveling in the halls of government is needlessly challenging for people who cannot see. We have transmitted the results of our survey to the Architect of the Capitol, as that office begins -- by legislative mandate -- to examine questions of safety and access.
On Monday evening, reunited with my children, I shared stories about riding the underground subway between chambers of Congress, singing into the wee hours with members of an impromptu ACB chorus, and laughing at the parodies of the Capitol Steps. I fell into bed two hours earlier than usual, and was sleeping soundly when my husband called to ask how it was.
"It was great," I mumbled, through layers of sleep. "I recommend it -- highly!"
The editorial staff reserves the right to edit letters for content, style and space available. Opinions expressed are those of the authors, not those of the American Council of the Blind, its staff or elected officials. "The Braille Forum" cannot be responsible for the opinions expressed herein. We will not print letters unless you sign your name and give us your address. Regarding "SDAB Leads the Way ..."
I have just finished reading the article "SDAB Leads the Way in Preserving Separate State Agency for the Blind in South Dakota" by Charles S.P. Hodge, which appeared in the March issue of "The Braille Forum."
There have been similar articles in past editions of "The Braille Forum," all of which contained some inaccurate information that we just chalked up to SDAB advocates not having all the facts. This most recent article by Hodge is so full of misinformation and untruths that I am compelled to respond and I sincerely hope you will print my response so your readers have the benefit of the truth.
One of the few accurate statements Hodge made is that William Janklow is the Republican governor of South Dakota and he is very popular, having served longer than any current sitting governor in the United States. He is also correct that I was appointed cabinet secretary of the Department of Human Services (DHS) in the fall of 1997, October 21st to be exact.
I take issue with his comment: "Jones had no background or experience in dealing with specialized populations or disabled people; rather, his professional reputation was primarily as a businessman and management consultant." Prior to coming to DHS, I worked for the South Dakota Department of Health (DOH) for 25 years, 16 of those as an appointed division director of that department's largest division, serving in that capacity under four governors and four different DOH secretaries. I have never been a management consultant, but was in private business in the 1960s and early 1970s. The experience and reputation that I have earned as a long-time state government employee is that of a professional manager and good steward of the taxpayer dollars.
To further clarify my experience with disabled populations, one of the largest programs in the DOH division under my direction was Maternal and Child Health, which also included Children's Special Health Services. This program served children birth to age 18 who suffered long-term, chronic and complex disabling conditions. For many years I was the DOH representative on the Governor's Council on Developmental Disabilities and the Independent Living Council. In addition, although I have not mentioned this for many years, I have a physical disability myself.
Shortly after starting as secretary of DHS, I was approached by the deaf community with their desire to have a separate division, since the blind had a separate division. I replied that the thrust in government was to consolidate small divisions that served similar populations and not create new specialized divisions. South Dakota simply does not have the population or funding available to do this.
This request prompted our conversation at the April meeting Hodge referred to, in which we approached the board of SBVI to consider creating a Division of Sensory Impairment. Neither Grady Kickul nor I "pressured" the board and they did vote to approve our proposal. I did withdraw that proposal, not out of fear of opposition from the blind community, but rather out of true concern for all people with sensory disabilities. Basically, I could see no value in having the blind and deaf communities compete with each other over valuable but limited resources.
We did have discussions about the feasibility of establishing one Vocational Rehabilitation Division within DHS. These were just internal discussions with no decisions made, so I take issue with Hodge's statement that "Kickul responded cravenly and falsely." There were no "plans" at that time; information was still being reviewed and discussed.
Shortly thereafter, we did decide to submit one consolidated plan to RSA. Because I firmly believe staff has the right to know decisions that affect them first, we did have a joint meeting with the Division of Rehabilitation Services (DRS) and Services to the Blind and Visually Impaired (SBVI) staff and informed them of our decision. At the same time this meeting was being held, information was faxed to consumer and advocacy agencies announcing our plans to consolidate. Because I was at that meeting, and Hodge was not, I take issue with his comments about how we dealt with the staff. Staff were never threatened, nor told to stay silent and not oppose our plan, although I found out later that some staff did work behind the scenes to stir up controversy.
Our efforts were not "an attempt to pull a fast one on the blind community." Public meetings were held across the state where some members of the blind community were very vocal in their opposition. Of interest, though, were several blind people who stayed silent at these meetings even though they had told us privately they supported our efforts. Unfortunately, they were afraid to make public statements of support out of fear of repercussions from the leadership of NFBSD and SDAB. Talk about intimidation and threats!
After the representatives of NFBSD and SDAB met with the governor, I invited them to meet with Grady Kickul, Patty Warkenthien and myself. We wanted to seriously discuss their issues, and see if we could find some common ground and reiterate our assurances that specialized services to the blind would be protected. To my dismay, the state leadership for both of these blind organizations flatly refused to meet with us. In all my years in government, this was the first time I had experienced an outright refusal by anyone to at least be willing to come to the table and talk. Compromise is an art and a process by which people on opposing sides meet and discuss the issues. That certainly did not happen in this case.
Contrary to Hodge's assertion, staff in RSA told us that our plan amendments were such that they could be approved. Fred Schroeder did enter the picture, which was totally out of protocol in state-federal relations. We all know he did this, not in his role as RSA Commissioner, but rather in his role as hard-line opposition to combined rehabilitation agencies. It is also true that NFBSD retained out-of-state legal counsel, and threatened court action. I firmly believe that we were on sound legal footing and could have won any such action in court. However, as a steward of tax dollars, I could not allow precious dollars to be spent on legal actions, as the money to defend the suit would have come from the rehabilitation divisions. This would have taken money from consumer services, and would have negatively affected the very population we are committed to serve.
Consequently, I did reverse my earlier decision to combine the rehabilitation agencies and we submitted technical state plan amendments, which preserve the separate status of the Division of Rehabilitation Services and the Division of Services to the Blind and Visually Impaired.
I want to assure you I was not "smarting from losing my reorganization objectives by rewarding my loyal lieutenant Kickul by promoting him to the vacant position of director of the larger division." In fact, the position was not vacant at all. Patty Warkenthien served as the interim director of that division for one and a half years. We advertised the position of Director of the Division of Rehabilitation Services throughout the state. When all was said and done, and applicants interviewed, it was clear that Grady Kickul was the top choice. He had a long history as a successful director of SBVI, knew RSA requirements backwards and forward, was our point person on work force development, and had the reputation of being very concerned about services to people with disabilities of all types, including blindness.
Nor is Hodge's characterization of Patty Warkenthien as having no professional rehabilitation experience or expertise in working with people who are blind accurate. Warkenthien was interim director of DRS for a considerable length of time and during that time effectively directed the Division of Rehabilitation Services. Warkenthien and Kickul are seasoned administrators, and both will do their utmost with the resources they have available to them.
We were not able to carry forward with what I believe was a sound plan for rehabilitation services in South Dakota. However, I do not carry a grudge in spite of Hodge's assertions, and we do not intend "to teach those uppity blind folks a lesson or two." DHS is a very professional department, managed by sincere professional staff. We never lose sight of our responsibilities and commitments to provide quality services in a fiscally responsible manner to the individuals we serve.
In closing, Iūd like to share some comments Warkenthien made to me.
"Public articles of the nature of those published in 'The Braille Forum' do more harm than good to the service delivery system for persons with disabilities in South Dakota. By criticizing the current administration, stating half-truths and inserting personal opinion based on 'guesses,' the statements in the article will harbor bad feelings in consumers towards the administrations of DRS and SBVI.
"Is that what we want? Is that truly the 'victory' the blind consumers in South Dakota were setting as their goal? A true victory is a positive success story of an individual with a disability who has gained self-esteem, independent living skills, self-advocacy skills, training, education, knowledge and employment. On the day that is no longer happening in South Dakota, then criticize us. Unless that happens, we need to put all of the past behind us and work together towards a bright future for all South Dakotans with disabilities."
I submit to you that this is very wise advice. I feel the editor of "The Braille Forum" and Charles S.P. Hodge in particular should take stock in what is written and published, and ask what is the goal of publishing such an article. One way to demonstrate your commitment to educating your readers to the issues is to publish this letter in the next edition.
-- John N. Jones, Secretary, South Dakota Department of Human Services, Pierre, S.D.
For many years I have been reading "The Braille Forum" and after reading the article in the March issue "SDAB Leads the Way in Preserving Separate State Agency for the Blind in South Dakota," I ask that you remove my name from your mailing list and discontinue sending me future issues.
The article in the March edition included significant amounts of information that was incorrect and unnecessarily criticizing people who are citizens of South Dakota and work hard for South Dakota taxpayers. These individuals are responsible to the taxpayers of South Dakota, not Charles Hodge.
I hope in the future that articles in "The Braille Forum" become more accurate and professional.
-- Bernie Grimme, Pierre, S.D.
For myself, the most important thing I wanted for Christian when he began public school in kindergarten was to be treated as an equal. For example, I never wanted him to get an A if he had really earned a B. I found that the kids and teachers didn't make a big fuss about his being blind; we have never made a fuss about it, so maybe that helped other people feel like it wasn't that big a deal.
Christian was lucky enough to attend a preschool for the blind in Lancaster County, but we opted to remove him from that program when he was four years old and transfer him to a "normal" preschool so he would be prepared for mainstream kindergarten.
Parents of his kindergarten classmates found their children playing "blind," trailing walls and eating with their eyes closed, etc. This opened the door for a lot of discussion about Christian's blindness and after a time, I think people who got close to him "forgot" he was blind, so it wasn't an issue. We never tried to make Christian "special," in terms of needing all kinds of special things. He was Christian and he happened to be blind and therefore needed Braille and a cane, etc. to accomplish the same tasks everyone else was doing.
The kids in his preschool even got mad at him for "cheating" when they had to identify things in a closed brown paper bag by touch. Of course Christian always saw by touch, so they assumed he had an unfair advantage -- and must be cheating -- when he won the game! You need to have a sense of humor about things like that and not take them as a personal offense.
As a parent I've also felt that if Christian wanted to be a basket weaver or a broom maker, we'd back him 100 percent, but I didn't want him having those goals as his only career options. I always tell him his chances of being a bus driver are probably slim, but other than that the world is an open door. The year before Christian started school, he spent one afternoon per week learning the school. This was good exposure for the staff. When Christian started kindergarten he went to school on the bus and walked right in the front door and to his classroom, unassisted, which immediately gave the other students and parents an impression of competence. Had we walked him into the school and to his class, like many of the mothers of the sighted students, I think their reaction would have been to pity Christian, thinking that, because he was blind, he could never find his class without sighted assistance. But they were left there to gawk, in great surprise, with their own children clinging to their thighs. While he was in kindergarten he stayed one afternoon per week and ate in the cafeteria with his orientation and mobility instructor. When he started first grade he was able to get in line with his class and go through the lunch line and find a seat just like everyone else.
People often thought it must be so hard to learn Braille, but he learned his letters one at a time just like everyone else. He was doing whatever his class was doing throughout his education in public school. Braille isn't harder, just different. When Christian had a list of spelling words, he needed to learn them the "regular" way and in contracted braille, as well, so some things were harder. But he didn't need to learn things like cursive, so I think the work load balanced out.
Christian has never been an especially active kid, which may have hurt him socially at times, when all the other kids were running around all over the place.
But I'm not sure he would be an especially active person even if he were sighted. He's always been a bookworm, and he loves electronics and things like that. He has several good friends who are into the things he's into and who aren't especially active either, and they are not blind. I used to wondered if his inactivity was related to his blindness, but then I realized that my brother, who wasn't blind, was never a very active person either; now he is an engineer and travels all over the world. So I try not to make Christian's lifestyle choices into a "blind thing."
I never found the kids in school to be mean to Christian because he was blind. Christian has always been the first person in a group to make a blind joke and be able to laugh at himself, which would give someone who wants to be mean less to work with. He told a friend of mine several blind jokes and she in turn shared them at a party and a guy came up to her and gave her all kinds of grief for "making fun of 'handicapped' people." She told him that her friend's blind son had told her the jokes and he should lighten up.
Christian came home from school one day when he was in third grade and announced that he'd learned that very day that he was "handicapped." He had never known he was! He wasn't upset about it. They were studying different kinds of disabled people and he learned that blind people were considered "handicapped." We never told him he was handicapped or handicapable or any of those terms. I thought that was kind of funny, because we never looked at Christian as handicapped. He has challenges that other people donūt, but other people have challenges that he doesn't so we never told him his blindness was classified as anything at all. I know people who make such a big fuss and stink about their child's blindness that the poor kid must feel like an alien or something. I think it's bad for a child's self-esteem to always have to be first, special or different and handled with kid gloves because of a disability.
Last winter my husband's friend from work stopped over just as my husband pulled in with a pickup truck overflowing with firewood. It was bitter cold with howling winds when my husband came in and hollered, "Christian, get your coat and boots. There is wood to unload." Well, Christian went out and stumbled on to that pile of firewood and started unloading. He was working hard and it was cold. My husband's friend was watching Christian through the living-room window. He wanted to help this poor blind kid unload the huge truck load of firewood. We practically had to sit on the guy. We needed to explain to him that Christian is part of the family, and that includes doing his fair share of the labor, like it or not. If we didn't give him a job, he'd feel useless. There are things that are too dangerous on our farm, and we didn't think he'd be able to handle a chain saw, so this was his job. We heat our house with wood, and unloading and stacking the firewood is Christian's contribution to the family. Christian did get that truck empty and came in dirty and tired and very cold. I don't know, but I think that guy would have pitied Christian more if we had left him in the house, giving the impression that a blind person could never do a task such as unloading firewood. I think that guy left with a different impression about blindness than he came with, and I believe it was a positive one.
Anyway, I think for both of my kids, the most important thing, in school and out, is for them to believe that they are capable of doing or being anything they choose. Lots of people may think my daughter can't do certain things because she is a girl, and maybe they will think that Christian can't do certain things because he is blind. I want my children to do what they think they can do, not letting other people stereotype them or put obstacles in their way. CAPTION
Christian Cochran prepares bottles for the calves on his family's dairy farm. (Photo courtesy of Paula Cochran.)
Reprinted with the author's permission
Parents are an important part of a child's Individual Education Plan (IEP) team.
As your child's parent, despite the recommendations of teachers and other professionals, you, like no other, often know what is best for your child.
The re-authorization of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) includes parents as members of any group that makes decisions on the placement of their child. [ 20 U.S. C. Chapter 33 1414(f)]
Often parents feel powerless in the IEP process. They may feel overwhelmed with the information presented and they may feel pressured into deciding their child's education.
Be proactive. Research areas that you are unfamiliar with, ask questions and never stop learning. One Internet site that may be useful to you in learning about IDEA is: http://www.ed.gov/offices/OSERS/IDEAfindex.html
You may also wish to consider a few of the following tips to help you through your child's IEP meetings.
Come Prepared. Request that all reports used in determining services and placement be given to you prior to the meeting. This will afford you the opportunity to read and review all information that will be used during the IEP meeting. [ 1415(c)]
Be prepared with a list of questions and concerns you want addressed during the IEP.
One effective tool is to have a pre-planning meeting with your child's teacher to discuss your child's present level of performance and areas that may need to be addressed as part of the overall goal of your child's IEP.
Be Part of the Team. To the greatest extent possible, work as a team with your child's teachers and support team. Communicate with your child's teacher via notes, telephone or e-mail. Know your child's strengths and weaknesses.
Put it in Writing. When you request an IEP, do it in writing and date the request. Always keep a copy of any correspondence between yourself and the school system. Invite everyone necessary who has a part in your child's educational life. This would include private therapists, counselors, tutors, behavioralists or anyone else involved in providing supports or services for your child. Be aware that the IEP meeting needs to be scheduled at a mutually convenient time.
As a parent, you can request the school set it for a time that you are available to meet. Also request they set a block of time aside that allows for all the necessary areas to be covered. Don't ever feel rushed. This is a critically important meeting and it needs to be given its due time.
Taping is not just for politicians. Notify the school that you will be bringing a tape recorder. Everything discussed does not get memorialized in writing. Often in the heat of the moment, important facts get lost. Test your recorder prior to the meeting and bring plenty of tapes and batteries. Label your tapes and save them; you never know when you might need them.
Bring a Friend. Bring someone with you who can remain impartial and keep you on track. This person should be familiar with your child and his/her needs and have a working knowledge of the IEP process.
Know Your Child's Rights. Never feel that you are imposing by advocating for your child's rights. Your child has a right to a free and appropriate education. [1412 (a) (1) (A)] Start out the IEP meeting by discussing your child's present level of performance, which includes how your child's disability affects his/her progress in the general curriculum or if in preschool, how it affects your child's participation. [1414(l)(A) (i) (/) & (//)]
Your child's needs, not his/her disability, drive the services and placement provided for your child. Your child is entitled to the least restrictive environment, with the use of supplementary aids and services. [ 1412 (a)(5)] Because your child has a disability does not mean your child must be in a segregated education environment. If the state uses a funding mechanism that bases funding on the type of setting or classroom that your child is served within, it is important to remember that this mechanism cannot violate the least restrictive environment protection of IDEA. [1412(a)(5)]
You Can Question Evaluations. Parents can dispute evaluations and request the school provide an independent evaluation. Evaluations shall consist of a variety of assessment tools and strategies to gather relevant functional and developmental information. [ 1414(b)(2)(A)]
Schools may not use any single procedure as the sole criterion for determining a child has a disability or placing a child in an educational program. [1412(b)(2)(B)]
Mediation is an Option. If a dispute rises to the level where the parent is requesting a hearing, the school must offer the parent the option of resolving the issue through mediation. [1415(e)(1)] The mediation must be voluntary, not used as a tactic to deny or delay a parent's right to due process, and must be conducted by a qualified and trained impartial mediator. [1415(e)(2)(A) (i - fli)] This mediator may not be an employee of the school system. The mediation is at the cost of the state and the school must provide the parent with a list of qualified mediators who are knowledgeable in special education laws. [1415(e)(2)(C)] The sessions shall be scheduled in a timely manner and held in a location convenient to all parties. [1415(e)(2)(E)] Discussions within the mediation are confidential and cannot be used as an admission by either party. In essence, mediation has the same confidentiality as an offer of settlement.
You cannot tape record the mediation meeting. Anything expressed cannot be used as evidence in any subsequent due process hearings or civil proceedings. [1415(2)(G)] The agreement will be put into writing as the mediation agreement.
When dealing with your child's education, the best advice is to familiarize yourself with your child's needs and to know his/her rights. Let common sense dictate, and if you don't agree with a decision, challenge it.
You don't have to be adversarial to advocate, you just need to be informed.
(Editor's Note: Ms. Cintron-Siegel can be reached at [email protected])
What should your child be learning in school? When should he or she start learning to read braille? How should he or she be finding his/her way around the school building ands grounds? What kinds of processes should his/her teacher be using to teach art, music, PE? What materials are appropriate for your non- visual learner? Find out what you need to know about educating children who cannot see or cannot see well.
The National Association of State Directors of Special Education (NASDSE) and the Hilton/Perkins Program of the Perkins School for the Blind recently began distributing their educational service guidelines for students who are blind or visually impaired. This document can provide guidance to state and local education agencies, service providers and parents. It describes essential program elements which must be considered in designing appropriate services for blind and visually impaired students, including those with multiple disabilities. This document, which was developed in a collaborative process by thirteen national organizations, is organized into five chapters, a glossary, and appendices. It has been distributed to state directors of special education, organizations, and parent and consumer groups. If you would like a copy, contact the Hilton/Perkins Foundation, Perkins School for the Blind, 175 N. Beacon St., Watertown, MA 02472, or phone (617) 924-3434.
The announcement of new products and services in this column should not be considered an endorsement of those products and services by the American Council of the Blind, its staff or elected officials. Products and services are listed free of charge for the benefit of our readers. "The Braille Forum" cannot be responsible for the reliability of products or services mentioned.
Helen Keller National Center has a job opening for senior instructor in the adaptive technology center. It requires three years of experience in teaching individuals who are either deaf or blind, preferably deaf-blind; knowledge of adaptive technology; computer proficiency; sign language skills (or proficiency within two years); and braille skills are preferred. Duties include: evaluating students' abilities to use a broad range of adaptive equipment, including braille displays, screen magnification programs, voice output systems, TTYs and various other devices designed for individuals who are deaf-blind; recommending, planning and providing training in the field of adaptive technology for individuals who are deaf, blind, and deaf-blind; recording progress and submitting scheduled written reports; and providing in-service training to consumers, teachers, in-house staff and at various workshops/conferences outside HKNC (may include local and distant travel). Salary is $38,226 per year plus paid benefits, including tuition reimbursement. There is a collective bargaining agreement in effect between HKNC and Local 1199 Hospital and Health Care Employees Union; employment in this position is conditional upon joining and maintaining membership in the union.
Send your cover letter and resume to William J. OūKeeffe, Director of Human Resources, Helen Keller National Center, 111 Middle Neck Rd., Sands Point, NY 11050; fax (516) 767-2302.
Wildenstein & Company, 19 E. 64th St., New York City, is holding an exhibition of Picasso's 30 original copper plates for his etchings illustrating Ovid's "Metamorphoses" May 2-26. The exhibition features touchable objects made from a number of the plates. The Picasso exhibit is open to the public Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information, visit http://www.wildenstein.com.
BEIJING PLUS 5
In early June, the United Nations will hold ūBeijing Plus Five,ū a meeting of its general assembly to review progress in the advancement of women since the 1995 World Conference on Women in Beijing. It is essential that women with disabilities have a presence at this event and its related activities to build on the momentum toward inclusion and collaboration between disabled and non-disabled women that started in Beijing.
There will be a series of workshops held in New York June 1-4, the days preceding the general assembly, and involve participants in the Beijing Plus Five events June 5-9. Topics include: disability initiatives and the United Nations; priorities and achievements of international disability non-governmental organizations; disability and international human rights law; women and the UN; and many more. Workshops will be conducted by an international faculty knowledgeable about disability and womenūs rights, and will offer information-sharing and skill development, with a strong emphasis on active, participatory learning.
For more information, contact Kathy Martinez at the World Institute on Disability by phone at (510) 251-4326, or via e-mail at [email protected]; or contact Barbara Duncan at Rehabilitation International by phone (510) 527-1719.
The Arkansas School for the Blind Alumni Association will hold its annual convention/reunion at the school June 2-4, 2000. All graduates, former students, and friends of the school are welcome to attend. For more information contact Travis or Margaret Johnson, 302 Woodford Pl., Paragould, AR 72450; phone (870) 236- 8498. If you know you wonūt be able to attend this year, but would like to be added to the mailing list, contact them also.
NEWS FROM AFB
The American Foundation for the Blind honored several companies with Access Awards at its Josephine L. Taylor Leadership Institute. The winners are: IBM Special Needs System, for its range of assistive technology products; Pitney Bowes Inc., for developing the Universal Access Copier System; L'Occitane, for its policy of providing braille labels on its products; and Dancing Dots, for its innovative GOODFEEL braille music translation software.
AFB also launched "AccessWorld: Technology for Consumers with Visual Impairments" recently. This periodical offers the latest information on technology for the home and office. It is available in large print, braille, on-line and on audio cassette, and is published six times a year. Included in it are AFBūs product evaluations (two per issue), product announcements, a question-and- answer column, a calendar of events and book and video reviews. Subscriptions cost $29.95 per year. Contact Access World at AFB Press, Subscription Services, 450 Fame Ave., Hanover, PA 17331; phone (888) 522-0220. International subscribers call (717) 632- 3535.
AFB Press recently released "Essential Elements in Early Intervention: Visual Impairments and Multiple Disabilities" by Deborah Chen. It explains functional and clinical vision and hearing assessments, descriptions of evaluative and educational techniques, and suggestions for working with families and professional teams. It also offers information on specialized assessment techniques, early caregiver-child interaction, and early communication. The book also includes contributions from numerous professionals. Its ISBN number is 0-89128-305-6 (paperback); it costs $34.95 plus $6 shipping and handling. For orders, call AFB Press Customer Service toll-free at (800) 232-3044, or send your order and payment to AFB Press, PO Box 1020, Sewickley, PA 15143- 1020.
During 1999, the National Aging and Vision Network focused its efforts on achieving Milestones 2000 for the National Agenda on Vision and Aging. Through the national agenda, network participants seek to shape public policies and attitudes, so as to enable individuals age 55 and older who are blind or visually impaired to participate fully in all aspects of society. A 12-member steering committee, which includes the American Council of the Blind, oversees the agenda. Overall, 51 individuals, representing 39 agencies and consumer organizations throughout the vision rehabilitation field, have been working on the agenda. Milestones achieved to date by the working groups of the National Agenda include: completing a draft self-advocacy curriculum; developing a poster targeted at senior centers and eye- care professionals; achieving funding for Title VII, Chapter 2, Independent Living Services for Older Individuals who are blind or visually impaired in the amount of $14,850,000; developing a draft fact sheet regarding employment of older persons with visual impairments; developing a draft Nationally Standardized Minimum Data Set, which will be useful for service providers, to describe demographic, outcome, and satisfaction information.
There are still many opportunities to get involved in the national agenda by joining one or more groups which are working on the seven goals of the project. An ACB affiliate which is working to improve services and dispense information to older adults who are visually impaired is the Alliance on Aging and Vision Loss (AAVL). For more information on this affiliate, contact Teddie Remhild at 1100 W. Olive Ave. #220, Burbank, CA 91506. For information about the agenda contact Alberta Orr, chair of AFBūs Aging Team at (212) 502-7773 or e-mail [email protected]
Applications for Enchanted Hills Campūs summer sessions will be mailed soon to all campers who have attended within the past two years. The camp is sponsored by the Rose Resnick Lighthouse of San Francisco. The deadline for all applications is Friday, June 9. Sessions are filled on a first-come, first-served basis. If enough complete applications are received, sessions could become full before the deadline. If your address has changed, or you would like to be added to the mailing list, call Kathryn Sheldon at (415) 431-1481, extension 218.
The sessions are as follows: alumni and senior week, June 23- 27; family camp weekend, June 29-July 2; adults with special needs, July 6-11; elementary school, July 14-19; veterans weekend, July 21-23; junior high school, July 25-August 3; high school, August 7- 18.
This summer will mark 50 years of camp at Enchanted Hills. Three events are planned for counselors and campers: the alumni retreat, counselor reunion and 50th anniversary party. If you were a counselor, staff member or camper before 1995, come to alumni and senior week. It is for those who attended Enchanted Hills between 1950 and 1995; it costs $200. Space is limited.
The counselor reunion will be held Saturday and Sunday, June 24 and 25. Counselors, maintenance and kitchen staff, volunteers and interns who worked between 1950 and 1995 are invited to attend. Alumni counselors, staff etc. may attend on either Saturday or Sunday for $40; if you'd like to stay overnight, for $80. To register, contact Kathy Abrahamson at the number above (extension 236) or via e-mail at [email protected]
And what would an anniversary be without a party? The official 50th anniversary party will take place on Sunday, June 25 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. There will be music, barbecue and a variety of special activities to commemorate 50 years. Reservations are required to attend; the cost is $20, which includes a barbecue lunch and a commemorative T-shirt. Charter bus transportation will be available from the Bay Area for an additional $20. To reserve a space, contact Kathy Abrahamson.
If you have camp songs, newsletters, arts and crafts projects, photos or other camp trinkets you'd be willing to share or donate, an EHC Memorabilia Walk is in progress, and needs as much history as possible. Contact Kathy Abrahamson.
And if you're interested in volunteering, contact Hilary Anne Exon at the number above (extension 237).
The National Church Conference of the Blind will hold its annual convention at the Kentucky Inn in Lexington July 23-26. The conference will feature a guest Bible teacher, talent time, tours to local attractions, a display room, music and lots of good Christian fellowship. For more information and registration forms, contact NCCB Secretary Rheba Finkenbinder, PO Box 163, Denver, CO 80201; phone (303) 789-7441, or e-mail [email protected] Or you may call Bob Green, president, at (612) 561-6955.
Attention all braille readers! The Braille Group of Buffalo offers several diabetes publications in braille, thanks to a grant from the Josephine Goodyear Foundation. The group only requests a donation of the print copy of the item(s) you select. For more information, contact Jill Pariso, Diabetes Braille Project, Braille Group of Buffalo, 4660 Sheridan Dr., Buffalo, NY 14221; e-mail [email protected] or call toll-free (800) 561-8253.
TOUCH THE FUTURE
According to the Daily University Science News, blind people may be able to find their way around with an invention based on an echolocation system similar to what bats use. The Spatial Imager emits ultrasound in the same way bats do to maneuver around obstacles in the dark. The device sends vibrations to the fingers corresponding to where the obstruction is, providing the user with a tactile map of the environment. This device can be made to fit onto a white cane or into a glove. It may also be useful for firefighters and divers in situations where visibility is bad, such as smoke-filled buildings or murky waters. The inventors have formed a company, Sound Foresight Ltd., to develop the concept further; they hope to have the device commercially available within two years. Stay tuned!
National Industries for the Blind recently announced the selection of three National Employee of the Year winners. They are: Seprena Jackson of the Columbia Lighthouse for the Blind in D.C., who received the Milton J. Samuelson Career Achievement Award; Susan Muhlenbeck of Virginia Industries for the Blind, who received the Peter J. Salmon Service Award; and Roosevelt Stevenson of the Seattle Lighthouse for the Blind, who received the Peter J. Salmon Manufacturing Award. Seprena Jackson is a purchasing agent within the Department of Veterans Affairs' Office of Acquisition and Material Management. She began her career with the VA as an administrative assistant through a VA service contract with the Columbia Lighthouse. Susan Muhlenbeck works as a collections representative with the Virginia Department of Taxation through a contract with Virginia Industries for the Blind. Roosevelt Stevenson works as a production specialist in the Boeing department of the Seattle Lighthouse for the Blind, producing numerous parts for use in Boeing aircraft, from sun visors to brackets.
Bank of America announced on March 15 that it would install more than 2,500 talking ATMs in California and Florida, its largest retail markets. The plan, worked out by the bank with the California Council of the Blind and several blind individuals, schedules installations of the talking ATMs over the next three years. Additional plans to install the ATMs in other states where the bank operates will be worked out early next year.
The bank will use talking ATMs that have been developed by NCR Corporation and Diebold Corporation, the largest ATM vendors in the country. These ATMs will provide audible instructions to blind and visually impaired people, making it easier for blind users to withdraw cash, deposit money and perform other transactions. The machines will have audio jacks to provide information privately to the individuals using them. Bank of America will also make other information, such as bank account statements and product materials, available in alternative formats to visually impaired people and take steps to ensure that its web site and online banking services are accessible to blind people using screen readers on their computers.
NEW AT RELAY
At Maryland Relay, there are several new features. One is that those who use voice carryover and ASCII to access it now have toll- free numbers to use it. The VCO number is (888) 826-9673; the ASCII number is (877) 735-5151. The VCO number will always answer with "Voice now, GA." Those who use the ASCII number should set their computers to 8 bits, no parity, 1 stop bit and half duplex (300 baud modems); 1200 baud modems and up should be set to 8 bits, no parity, 1 stop bit and full duplex. It may help to set your "time out" to 100 seconds.
Also, relay users are receiving a 50 percent discount on long- distance calls within the state when they use Sprint as their long- distance company. And Turbo Code is available for all TTY users who have an Ultratec unit with TC capability. Turbo Code increases the sending and receiving speed of information for the unit; it offers transmission speeds up to 110 words per minute.
Which number is best for you to use? If you use a TTY, have a customer database or are a branded user (meaning that relay answers your call by your preferred method of communication), then use (800) 735-2258. Voice carryover users should use (888) 826-9673. ASCII users should use (877) 735-5151. The 7-1-1 number is set up to answer first by voice.
In March 2002, Salt Lake City will host the eighth Paralympic winter games. Salt Lake City is the first Olympic/Paralympic city to combine the Olympic and Paralympic planning committees. Pat Gann of the Utah Council of the Blind is serving on the access committee for the event. She is trying to get both games narrated so that they will be accessible to the blind and other disabled individuals. For more information, call Pat Gann at (801) 943- 1559.
Do you enjoy baseball, but have trouble navigating in the ballpark? The Tampa Bay Devil Rays, in cooperation with Omega Eye Associates, have produced the "Braille Ballpark Information Pages" to insert in the team's official program. This sells for $4 at Tropicana Field and Devil Rays Dugout stores. Pages include basic ballpark information about concessions, guest services, disabled seating, restrooms, and the in-park radio broadcast of the game.
FOR SALE: Alva Braille Terminal (ABT-380) 85-cell refreshable braille display. Rarely used. Connects via serial or parallel interface. Comes with carrying case and braille documentation. $7,000 or best offer. If interested, contact Loren Mikola during the day at (425) 705-3394; evenings, (425) 558-0131; or via e- mail, [email protected]
FOR SALE: Classmate Pro from Myna Corporation. In good condition. Four-track tape recorder, plays and records four- track and regular tapes. Comes with NiCad battery pack and headphones. Asking $100 or best offer. Contact Pauline Downing by phone at (617) 776-9706 or e-mail [email protected]
FOR SALE: DECtalk PC (internal speech card). Includes external speaker, latest software drivers, and a copy of Vocal- Eyes 3.0. Asking $600 or best offer. Contact Monty at [email protected]
FOR SALE: The Reading Edge, two years old, very little use. Carrying case and extra electrical cord, all tapes and instructions included. New $5,000, asking $4,000 or best offer. Contact Edna Conolly at (703) 979-3262.
FOR SALE: Several older Optacons, models R1C and R1D. Accessories are also available; they include visual display, lens module, typewriter accessory and tracking aids. For more information, send an e-mail message to [email protected] or write to Technology Center, NDSB, 500 Stanford Rd., Grand Forks, ND 58203-2799; phone (701) 795-2720.
FOR SALE: Braille 'n Speak classic (August 1993 revision), new battery and soft case. Asking $450 (negotiable). Call Dave at (716) 877-5620.
FOR SALE: Braille 'n Speak classic. Asking $200. Contact Mary Hiland during the day at (614) 274-7650 or e-mail [email protected]
WANTED: Any type of games, braille, talking or large print, at reasonable cost or donated. Contact Robert Albanese at P.O. Box 43, Lake Placid, FL 33862.
WANTED: Optic scanner reader with voice synthesizer, stand- alone unit. Seeking used model to be donated. Contact Robert Auker BK-1943, 175 Progress Dr., Waynesburg, PA 15370-8090.
WANTED: Tutorials on Microsoft Access and Excel. Cassette preferred; will take what I can get. Contact Britt Lincoln at 700 Woodland Ave., Apt. B-101, Lexington, KY 40508; phone (606) 323-2903.
WANTED: Doubletalk LT external speech synthesizer and JAWS for Windows 95 version 3.0 or higher. If someone could donate these items, or sell them at very low cost, I'd appreciate it. I need them for work. Call William at (616) 383-4643.
ACB wishes to thank its many members and friends who gave so generously in response to our fall 1999 letter requesting support for ACBūs ongoing programs and services. This partial list of donors reflects only those people who gave us permission to publicly acknowledge their gifts.
Jeff Lang, Talladega
June Milam, Birmingham
Deborah Jenkins, Fairbanks
Larry Davis, Sun City West
Alan Gore, Phoenix
Lorene Denney, Clinton
Richard and Beverly Knoernschild, Russellville
W. C. O'Connor, Marmaduke
Buddy Brown Spivey, North Little Rock
Ardis Bazyn, Burbank
Candace L. Berg, Portola Valley
Kevin Berkery, Burbank
Ralph Black, Sacramento
Mari Bull, Claremont
Regina Chavez-Berlin, Albany
Diana June Colburn, Hayward
James Conway and Ruth Masonek, Alameda
Bianca Culbertson, Carmichael
Winifred Downing, San Francisco
Gerald Glass and LaRue Reeves, Redlands
Virginia Gong, Union City
Phil Hallford, San Diego
Constance Hubbard, LaCanada
Mike Keithley, Mountain View
Kevin Kelly, San Diego
J. Henry Kruse, Albany
Judy Larson, Castro Valley
Carol Leamy, Truckee
Peggy Martinez, Arcata
George F. Matranga, Pasadena
Cliff Munger, San Rafael
Jill O'Connell, Carlotta
Scott and Kathie Papera, Manhattan Beach
Mary Jane Paulson, San Francisco
Mitchell Pomerantz, Los Angeles
Rex Ransom, El Segundo
Teddie Remhild, Burbank
Bonnie Reyff, San Francisco
Joanne Ritter, San Rafael
Donna L. Sanchez, San Jose
Edward J. Schuler, Lucerne
Peter Schustack, San Luis Obispo
Frank Selders, Redondo Beach
Sheila Styron, West Hollywood
Marilee Talkington, San Francisco
John V. Timms, Berkeley
Jinger Valenzuela, Glendale
Victoria Vaughn, Banning
Abby Vincent, Culver City
Andrew Capdeville, Denver
Lynn A. Janssen, Lakewood
Alice M. Johnson, Denver
Janet Leonard, Lakewood
Anna Godrie, Fairfield
David Goldstein, Bridgeport
Bernard W. Kassett, Tolland
Barbara Lombardi, Shelton
Louise Manginello, Hartford
Alice Capodanno, Wilmington
Kenneth J. Roach, Wilmington
DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA
Oral O. Miller
Thomas H. Miller
Frank A. Bartola, Winter Park
Kathleen J. Briley, Cocoa
Gladys Burck, West Palm Beach
Beatrice David, Tampa
Denyse Eddy, Winter Park
Page H. Ferrell, Palm Beach
Richard Giombetti, Pompano Beach
Nancy Gould, Delray Beach
Charles Hackney, Lakeland
Debbie Hietala, St. Petersburg
Mr. and Mrs. William J. Hughes, Clearwater
Alice Kinard, Jacksonville
James Kracht, Miami
David Lang, Ormond Beach
Judy Mazza, Naples
Alma McCormick, Port Charlotte
Clinton and Ruth Moore, Port Charlotte
Grace Moulton, Tallahassee
Nigel B. Ricards, Boca Raton
Louise C. Robinson, Key West
Ronald Scouten, Lakeland
Mary B. Smiech, Clearwater
Connie Stolp, Maitland
Howard Watts, Pensacola
Pamela Watts, Pensacola
Kenneth Wilson, North Ft. Myers
William C. Duran, Chickamauga
Richard C. Ellison, Lincolnton
Judy Presley, Helen
Thomas H. Ridgeway, Macon
June and Bob Willis, Avondale Estates
Charleen Doi, Honolulu
Cynthia Hirakawa, Honolulu
Benjamin Kahikina, Kalaupapa
Earl Lusk, Boise
William Byers, Chicago
Karyn and Ray Campbell, Glen Ellyn
William Etzbach, Mendota
Keith Garrett, Keithsburg
Sally Hering, Lake Bluff
Heidi Kimbel, Rosk Island
Elizabeth Kummetz, Chicago
Dennis Mejia, Highland
Natalie F. Miller, Evanston
Kevin E. O'Connor, Long Grove
Charles and Lillian Rosenbom, Harwood Heights
Terry-Ann M. Saurmann, Arlington Heights
Glenn Wiemer, Glenview
Betty Wilkerson, Springfield
Agnes L. Cripe, Goshen
Thomas Eade, New Castle
Edward and Agnes Grinnan, Carmel
Marlyce Hanna, Indianapolis
John Huffman, Indianapolis
Virginia L. Keen, Indianapolis
Joseph J. Neff, Indianapolis
Ross N. Pangere, Valparaiso
South Central Assn. of the Visually Impaired, Bedford
Mike and Dolly Sowder, Bedford
Kenneth Ebb, Mt. Pleasant
Lucille Gardner, Des Moines
Roger Larson, Eagle Grove
Zelda M. Reed, Des Moines
Frank Strong Jr., Des Moines
Betty Christian, Wichita
Donald and Jeanne Enos, Wichita
Mr. and Mrs. Howard Morrow, Overland Park
Robert Duncan, Louisville
James Gordon, Louisville
Susan Robertson, Louisville
Frank and Anita Cohen, Potomac
Michael Fitzgerald, Rockville
Edward G. Kenlon, Great Mills
Susan McCarthy, Arnold
Cody and Margaret R. Pfanstiehl, Silver Spring
Bertha B. Smith, Rockville
Mr. and Mrs. David W. Wright, Arnold
Beezy Bentzen, Berlin
Sandra Burgess, Springfield
Gilbert Busch, Jamaica Plain
Joyce Cannon, Falmouth
Brian and Kim Charlson, Watertown
Diane Croft, Chestnut Hill
Virginia Dean, Cambridge
Joyce L. Nadell, South Weymouth
Myra Ross, Amherst
Judy Savageau, Worcester
Betty Soderholm, Southborough
Sharon Strzalkowski, Worcester
Sylvia Adrian, Port Huron
Tracy Anderson, Grand Blanc
Carol Hahn, Kalamazoo
Edwin Heyboer, Zeeland
Margaret Hunerjager, Niles
Elizabeth M. Lennon, Kalamazoo
Lucille B. Patrick, Kalamazoo
Donald J. Schichtel, Grand Rapids
Edward D. Bender, White Bear Lake
Juliette Silvers, Minneapolis
Max G. Swanson, Minneapolis
James Torgerson, S. St. Paul
Mike and Elaine Vining, Minneapolis
Russell and Melanie Austin, Jackson
Sharon Near, Hazlehurst
Robert and Mary Sallis, Jackson
Ken Loden, Tupelo
Carrie B. Ponder, Brandon
Danny Thompson, Marks
Barbara Borgmeyer, St. Charles
Pauline Krueger, Branson
Robert F. Seeman, Las Vegas
Pasquale Acquaviva, Red Bank
Richard W. Bleecker, Jersey City
Eleanor Falkenstern, Norwood
Edward Fedush, Garfield
Karen Pasquinelli, Newark
Peter J. Pasinosky, Jersey City
Lonnie and Brenda Lanning, Albuquerque
Fred Mansfield, Santa Fe
Virginia Attansio, Staten Island
Roberta Becker, Mineola
Merritt M. Clark, Albany
Leon Goutevenier, Port Washington
Vernon Grist, New York
Alice Lockwood, Brentwood
Eugene Manfrini, New York
Arthur Miles, Johnstown
Michael O'Brien, Troy
Margaret Ricciardi, Oyster Bay
Carol Roy, Bronx
Paul and Mary C. Sauerland, Hicksville
Mirian Vieni, Westbury
Helen Whelan, Seaford
Kevin Wollenweber, Valley Stream
Jim Baker, Oak Ridge
Norma F. Krajczar, Morehead City
Kenneth R. Pond, Charlotte
Judith K. Redfield, Clemmons
Alice Brooks, Hazen
Todd Bauer, Windham
Richard and Gina Bird, Parma Heights
Linda Bradon, St. Clairsville
Earnest L. Breece, Marion
Donald Brucker, Columbus
Dawn Christensen, Holland
Carolyn Mae Hathaway, North Industry
F. T. Jenkins, Akron
Charles (Bill) Keller, Columbus
Ken Morlock, Columbus
Kimberly S. Ruf, Dayton
John and Karen Stuetzer, Oregon
Lillian Alexander, Tulsa
Janet E. Cahalan, Edmond
Wanda Eller, Tulsa
Clarence and Nancy Mayberry, Muskogee
Margaret B. Alvarez, Tigard
Donna Fanelle, Medford
Susan Maltby, Salem
Margaret Reznicsek, Salem
Patricia A. Worrall, Portland
Linda C. Bach, Philadelphia
Alvin C. Blazik, Warminster
Connie Bortzfield, Lancaster
Hilda H. Carter, Jankintown
Chloe Datto, Jermyn
Mr. and Mrs. Donald Davis, Doyletown
Theresa and Sebastian Demanop, Havertown
Lavera Diggins, Philadelphia
John Horst, Elizabethtown
Kathleen Huebner, Cheltenham
Sam Huhn, Elkins Park
Cynthia Johnson, Pittsburgh
Merlin Stacy Keller, Wexford
Ellen Kyle, Woodlyn
Raymond Leonardo, Havertown
Pearl McMichael, New Brighton
Shirley Nyland, Munhall
Elizabeth R. Panell, Philadelphia
Anna B. Porter, Lancaster
Almeda P. Ruger, Levittown
Mary J. Smith, Reading
Alice Stephens, Philadelphia
Bruno J. Wolozyn, Oil City
James R. Farrer, Jr., Central
Ann E. Smith, Ninety Six
Leighton Meyers, Sioux Falls
Seth and Koni Sims, Sioux Falls
Robert K. Armstrong, Memphis
Bobbie M. Mezci, Cumberland Furnace
Vernon L. Phillips Jr., Nashville
Robert B. Shaw Jr., Memphis
Jo Cassidy, Cypress
Robert M. Gibson, San Antonio
Naomi Gough, Fort Worth
George Gray, Cleveland
Edward F. Guerra, Austin
Clessia Himes, Hurst
Larry Johnson, San Antonio
Joyce Jones, Houston
Nathan H. Kenyon, San Antonio
Bernice Klepac, Houston
Ruth Nowlin, Austin
Gerald A. Spencer, Corpus Christi
McLeod Stinnett, Dallas
Debra Ann West, San Antonio
Alyce Bai, Salt Lake City
Glen Gleaves, Salt Lake City
Ernest and Cheryl Heyborne, Cedar City
Theda S. Imlay, Salt Lake City
Virginia Nichols, Francis
Ted Petersen, Ephraim
Homer Stephens, Provo
Eugene M. and Eileen B. Wood, Salt Lake City
Richard Erickson, Burlington
Robert A. Green, Newport
Joann H. Nichols, Brattleboro
D. Louise Bledsoe, Chester Gap
Roger J. Bourdon, Fredericksburg
Robert H. Burke Jr., Charlottesville
Joseph Grayson Chinn, Tappahannock
Peter E. Davis, Arlington
Teena L. Hazel, Fishersville
Charles Hodge, Arlington
Eugene Jaggi, Mechanicsville
Billie Jean Keith, Arlington
John A. McCann, Alexandria
Sandra Haas Radin, Virginia Beach
Sharon Saylor, Vienna
Sally Steiger, Newport News
Roy and Mabel Ward, Richmond
Amy Williams, Alexandria
Sue Ammeter, Seattle
William Manke, Kent
Rhonda Nelson, Auburn
Mei Ling Wong, Cheney
Donna Brown, Romney
Patricia A. Walker, Huntington
Richard B. Berres, West Bend
LaVerne Golob, West Allis
Walter F. Johnson, Milwaukee
Donald Lehman, Kenosha
Charles and Wanda Ludois, Greenfield
Noella Meulemans, West Allis
Ron Pedderson, Mequon
Jane Stoklasa, Waukesha
Rachel Wilson, Milwaukee
Mary B. Smiech, Lagos
Russ Reinert, Lima
20330 NE 20TH CT.
MIAMI, FL 33179
FIRST VICE PRESIDENT
57 GRANDVIEW AVE.
WATERTOWN, MA 02172
SECOND VICE PRESIDENT
7601 CRITTENDEN ST. #F-2
PHILADELPHIA, PA 19118
556 N. 80TH ST.
SEATTLE, WA 98103
906 N CHAMBLISS ST
ALEXANDRIA VA 22312
IMMEDIATE PAST PRESIDENT
2118 NW 21st St.
Oklahoma City, OK 73107
ELIZABETH M. LENNON, Kalamazoo, MI