VIVA Blackjack Seminar a Success

The Visually Impaired Veterans of America's blackjack seminar was a huge success! About 40 people learned the basics of blackjack and about 30 of us descended on the casino floor to play.

The staff at the Riviera worked very hard to accommodate all the new players. They even lowered their normal $10 minimum bet to $3 for several hours.

Many new players left after making $10; others stayed to play longer. If anyone has any news about gaming (that's the politically correct name for gambling), especially with reference to the visually impaired, please send it to [email protected]

BFLAG Convention A Success

BFLAG had 53 members at this year's convention and continued its growth in Las Vegas by taking in 12 new members and getting many local people involved with its programming. Due to the conflict created last year with BFLAG receiving a proclamation from the mayor of Birmingham, BFLAG turned down a proclamation from the mayor of Las Vegas. It is a shame that this had to be done, but BFLAG did not want to offend any ACB members or affiliates.

BFLAG and NABS joined together for the first time to offer a seminar which was extremely well-attended. This shows the continued effort by the two affiliates to work together for the betterment of both organizations. CCLVI and BFLAG are exploring the possibilities of working together on the 2006 convention in Jacksonville.

Jason Perry of Columbus, Ohio will be working on grants to expand outreach in education and resource availability for all. Darryl Roberts of Macomb, Ill. will be heading up an IT committee which has already facilitated the streaming of the BFLAG annual meeting and will be expanding BFLAG's web site and assuring its accessibility to all. Butch Arnold of Baltimore is the new president and will tackle the task of continuing the growth that Rob Hill and Connie David started. Don Brown of Berkeley, Calif. brought the BFLAG newsletter, "InsideOUT" to a professional standard and for the first time obtained paid advertising to assist with production costs. He has committed to continuing his good work into the future.

Speaking of the future, BFLAG is exploring the possibility of having a cruise out of Jacksonville leaving on Saturday, July 15, 2006, just after the convention. It would be a 3- or 4- day cruise and hopefully will cost around $600 per person. Like all BFLAG programs, it will be open to all who want to partake in the fun.

BFLAG is working on a directory of its members, which will be available to members shortly. BFLAG encourages its members to get together in their geographical areas for socialization and the furthering of the BFLAG mission. BFLAG is NOT forming local chapters, but simply encouraging members to get together and show a presence in their communities as they fulfill the BFLAG mission.

BFLAG is a diverse organization and recognizes the overwhelming need for acceptance for everyone. BFLAG also recognizes that it will never know all who will benefit from its work since so many individuals in our society are still afraid to be themselves and "come out." BFLAG will never "out" anyone nor encourage the "outing" of anyone. We simply want to give people a feeling of comfort and understanding while we provide information and education to all about our diverse population. BFLAG is proud of its diversity and welcomes all to join and help in educating everyone in our community.

For more information about BFLAG, visit Please remember that the site will be experiencing a lot of transition in the coming months; you may have to visit several times to see all that we are doing.

Georgia Rallies for Rehabilitation

On July 25, 2005, more than 50 individuals who are blind and deaf- blind along with their service providers met outside the state capitol in the blazing hot sun to make their state officials aware of what the federal government is trying to do with our rehabilitation program. The idea was to make our officials aware that we expect them to keep the DRS monies separate from the one-stop shops.

The group marched down the streets of Atlanta to the Department of Labor, which is the department that oversees the rehabilitation services in Georgia. Each member of the rally carried a tin cup with pencils. Once we arrived at the Department of Labor, several leaders from the Georgia Council, the NFB of Georgia, and the Georgia Deaf-Blind Association gave speeches. We were able to get the head of Rehabilitation Services to come out and talk to us; the Assistant Commissioner of the Department of Labor spoke with us also. We explained that if the feds do as they want by block- granting the money, we want our elected officials to do the right thing and keep our specialized services separate, and that in fact we want such a division started for the deaf-blind.

We are now planning to present the cups with pencils to our elected officials so they get the message. The pencils say "Don't erase our specialized services." We also tried to meet with the governor, but he was out of town. However, he responded to our request later that day by saying we needed to take our concerns to the federal level. We intend to insist that he meet with us.

The rally was an event of the Georgia Blind Coalition, a group formed several years ago by consumers and service providers when we were upset with the fact that vocational rehabilitation services did away with separate services for the blind. The group was successful in getting services for the blind re-established, and has continued to work on improving services for the blind and deaf-blind in Georgia. We feel that the rally was a success, and just the beginning of our action plan to fight the federal administration's attempts to put us back to the time of having to beg for equal access to jobs or the right to be included in our communities.

ACB of Minnesota Convention

The 2005 ACBM state convention will be held Oct. 14-16 at the Doubletree Park Place hotel in Minneapolis. On Friday evening we will kick off the event with a walk for safety in commemoration of White Cane Day. The program will cover a wide array of topics, including a roundtable discussion with state legislatures, the latest on Social Security and information from the Blinded Veterans Association. We also have speakers about personal safety, healing touch for animals and a food critic.

Saturday evening will feature our banquet and keynote speaker. Prior to the banquet you'll have time to see what the vendors have available. Among our vendors are an accessible voting machine manufacturer, Freedom Scientific with the latest products, Hadley School for the Blind and Scan a Can. Rooms should be booked as soon as possible by calling the Doubletree at (952) 582-5300. Rates are $99 per night plus tax. Specify that you will be attending the ACBM convention. For more information, contact Janet Dickelman at (651) 698-5059 or e-mail [email protected]

Oregon Convention Comes to Klamath Falls

The 2005 Oregon state convention will be held Oct. 13-15 at the Shilo Inn, Klamath Falls, Ore. The Klamath and Rogue Valley chapters are busy lining up vendors and activities, collecting door prizes, and all the other things needed to bring the convention to life. Please try to join us -- we'll have a great time. For registration information, contact Bob Rushing, 4730 Auburn Rd. NE, Sp. #52, Salem, OR 97301; phone (503) 362-4151, or e- mail [email protected]

Welcome to Our Convention!

The Old Dominion Council of the Blind will hold its annual state convention at the Quality Inn Governor, located at 6650 Arlington Blvd., Falls Church, VA from Oct. 28-30. Friday will be dedicated to those recently experiencing vision loss and to senior citizens coping with sight loss. Saturday will feature the keynote address from our executive director, Melanie Brunson, as well as seminars on preparing for college and being successful there, changes in Social Security and information on the drug card. We will also feature a local theater group for the disabled. There will be plenty of time to socialize at meals and at our Saturday banquet which will include entertainment by John McCann on the guitar as well as a visit to the hospitality suite. We will hold our business meeting on Sunday at NIB's new headquarters, 1310 Braddock Place, Alexandria, Va.

Room rates are $75 for singles, $80 for doubles, $85 for triples and $90 for quads. All rooms except singles will contain two queen beds. Lodging tax is 8.5 percent. Make your hotel reservations by calling 1-800-221-2222 or (703) 532-8900. Please mention that you are a member of the Council of the Blind to get the special rate.

For more information, call Debra Chandler at (703) 322-9690.

New Jersey Convention to Focus on Accessibility

The 2005 annual convention of the New Jersey Council of the Blind will be held at the Clarion Hotel/Palmer Inn in Princeton on Oct. 29, 2005. The theme will be "Accessibility." We have many exhibitors already signed up. The day will begin at 8:30 a.m. with exhibits and an excellent continental breakfast. The morning speaker's topic is Access to Communication. The banquet luncheon's keynote speaker will be James Davy, Commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Human Services. The afternoon speakers will address access to community services. We will conclude the event with a business meeting. The program will wrap up by 5:30 p.m.

The cost of the breakfast and luncheon banquet will be only $25; registration will be $15. The meal choices are chicken francaise or sirloin tips. We will have lots of door prizes, raffles and other fun events. If you would like to stay overnight, make your reservations directly with the hotel, (609) 452-2500. The cost is $79 per night plus tax, double occupancy.

Call Ottilie Lucas at (609) 882-2446 for more information or to register.

Kentucky Council of the Blind Convention

The Kentucky Council of the Blind will hold its 32nd annual convention Nov. 11-13 in Louisville at the Kentucky School for the Blind, 1867 Frankfort Ave. Activities will get under way on Friday afternoon with workshops and seminars, followed by exhibits, dinner and program. Saturday will be packed with more workshops, exhibits, speakers, discussion, and the annual banquet.

Convention packets will be distributed on or about Oct. 1. For more information, or to receive a packet, contact KCB at (502) 895-4598, or by e- mail at [email protected]

Advocating and Communicating in Ohio

The ACB of Ohio state convention will be held Nov. 18-20 at the Holiday Inn on the Lane in Columbus. This year's theme is "Advocating and Communicating for a Brighter Outlook."

Instead of nine workshops on Saturday, there will be just six, in order to allow everyone more time to talk with the speakers. Some of the workshops will be: self-defense, a discussion group with Ohio Parents of Visually Impaired Children (OPVI), a financial planning workshop, and more.

The keynote speaker will be Dr. Ray Guarendi, who will also be speaking at the OPVI workshop on Saturday. Other speakers include someone from the library for the blind and the national scholarship winner who attended convention in Las Vegas.

There will also be plenty of entertainment opportunities this year. The auction will be held on Friday night. The ACBO board encourages all chapters to bring in items to auction off. Also on Friday night, there will be an audio-described movie. After the banquet, there will be music provided by a disc jockey. You can also enjoy ice skating across the street from the hotel.

For more information, call the Ohio office at (614) 221-6688 or (in Ohio only) 1-800-835-2226.

Human Service Professionals Strives to Survive

ACB Human Service Professionals held a meeting at the convention. The first part was a stress management presentation by Debbie Chandler and Jessie Rayl. It was fairly well-attended. The second part of the meeting was business, to establish where Human Service Professionals wanted to go. Everyone agreed that they wanted to maintain the affiliate if possible. That possibility depends solely on getting membership and maintaining the interest.

We talked about newsletters and conference calls and I hope to get both going as soon as we get a larger contact list and membership. I was appointed coordinator of the affiliate. We need to update the bylaws as well.

Pam Shaw is treasurer, and Debbie Chandler is secretary. Next year, we will have a more formal meeting and more presentations at the convention.

Anyone who wants to join ACB-HSP is welcome, including students in the human services field, people who have the degree and interest even if they are still looking for work, and those employed. Dues are $15 per year. Send your dues to Jessie Rayl at Pathways Counseling Services, 101 Medical Court, Suite 108, Martinsburg, WV 25401; phone (304) 262-8020; fax (304) 262-8099; or e-mail [email protected] Please include your contact information, as well as where you are in terms of employment, school, etc.

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