by Karyn Campbell

Do you have a vision and hearing problem in any degree? Maybe you don't see well and now your hearing is going, or the other way around. Maybe you have very little vision or hearing. As we get older, more people are being diagnosed with macular degeneration, and along with that often comes age-related hearing loss. You might have Usher's or some other medical condition which causes both a hearing and vision problem. If you fit any of these categories, you are SASI.

What does that mean? When we say you are SASI, this means that you are Sight and Sound Impaired or SASI. This is the name of the committee that is charged with dealing with issues that you care about and advising the leadership of the organization on those issues.

Who are the members of this committee? Patty Sarchi from Maine is the chairperson; Karyn Campbell from Illinois, program chair; Lisa Kozlik from Wisconsin and Lori Scharff from New York. Of the actual committee members, Lori is the only hearing blind person on the committee; the rest of us are SASI to one degree or another. All three of us have no vision and varying degrees of hearing loss. We each bring a different perspective to the committee.

Each committee also has a national staff liaison and an officer liaison. These people are Terry Pacheco from the national office and Donna Seliger, ACB secretary, who are also both SASI, both having partial vision and a hearing loss. These people help us do our work. Among other things, Terry helps me put the program together. We come up with the ideas and make the initial contacts and she helps us wrap it up. Donna helps out if we need anything from the officers or the board of directors.

As for programs, some of the recent programs have included a social gathering, a program on support service providers (SSPs), types of hearing loss and hearing aids, and a focus group on losing one sense later in life. This study is being conducted by Mississippi State University (MSU). We have done a focus group for the past two years in connection with this study and we received an update in Birmingham as part of our program.

We also advise on needs for convention programs with regard to accommodations. This might include an assistive listening device (ALD), an interpreter or an SSP. As two of these involve people, we need to know ahead of time what your needs are in order to make your convention experience the best that it can be. The sooner we know, the better chance we have of being able to meet your needs. We do have ALDs available for a small deposit, which will be refunded to you upon the return of both the receiver and loop or headphone piece of the device. There will be more details forthcoming on this arrangement.

We are busy working on this summer's program. This year we are hoping to provide SSPs for those who pre-register for one. This will be our first year trying this option. This is a service provided only to those who are sight and sound impaired. There will be a place to indicate this on the pre- registration form and we will need this information by the pre-registration deadline. We would like to see the SSP matched up with a partner for the week at a gathering on Saturday at the beginning of convention. While we cannot say much more right now, it promises to be an exciting program; so don't miss it. Watch this publication for more information on the upcoming program for this summer in Las Vegas from July 2-9! You will learn about issues related to people with both hearing and vision loss as well as meet people like yourself.

You have a lot of choices about how to spend your time at convention. We hope you will spend some time with the SASI committee and make new friends as well as learn about the issues which affect you. We look forward to seeing you in Las Vegas.

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