Alaska Independent Blind

Newsletter: Summer 2003

Contents:

Announcements
Abuse Training
What is Not Fit to Print?
Nominations
Voting Stories
Anchorage Invite
Accessible Voting Machines Delayed
AAPD Opproves Verified Paper Ballots: Some Facts
Touch Screen Machines Under Attack
Philadelphia Settles Suit Over Voting Issue

New List Created
Disability Mentoring Day
Diabetes News Update
Fascism Review
The Perks of Being Over 50
Etiquette for the Sighted
National Convention Information
Conclusion

 

 
ANNOUNCEMENTS

Well, we are entering midsummer, and we have been to the mountain and back. Well, not that high and mighty, but to Pittsburgh three of us did go. Jim Swartz, Sandy Sanderson and Lynne Koral were at attendance, and represented Alaska and all you wonderful members as well as we thought able.

We had our annual Alaska hospitality and it was there we asked Mitch Pomerantz to come to our state convention in October. We have asked Mitch Pomerantz to come to our convention from the National Board of Directors, and comment about two topics.

Mr. Pomerantz has been interested in employment, and heads the employment task force for American Council of the Blind, and has long been part of the ACB Government Employees special-interest affiliate. He has been President of California Council of the Blind in the past as well, and helped with the writing of, and syhthesis of, the rights and responsibilities document spelling out the communications between the national office and state and special-interest affiliates.

Mr. Pomerantz also, later in his blindness career/life, has obtained a dog guide, and is very interested in those issues as well. While I had three dog guides, and do not have one now, Mitch transitioned from a cane to a dog guide. Why? Perhaps you will want to ask him.

Mitch was also on the Board of Publications for a few terms of office. He can tell you a bit about the ACB history, which was just having its pre-release, and had the covers taken off of it at the Pittsburgh convention, but was nine years in the making. We hope you are as excited as we are to have Mr. Pomerantz make his first trip, with his new bride, Donna, to our 2003 state convention October 9-11 in Anchorage at the Coast International Inn, 3333 International Airport Rd.

The national convention next year will be held in Birmingham, Alabama, so you will be able to take advantage of some real down-home Southern hospitality in Birmingham if you join ACB next summer the week of July 3-10, I believe.

We also want to congratulate Chris Gray for being re-elected as President of American Council of the Blind in a hard-fought and winning campaign of positive achievement and honesty against of all folks Steve Speicher. His vote total was in the winning column in the widest margin of all contested elections.

We will be putting a state convention form with this mailing, so look for it, please. We will still charge $20 per night per person (not per room), and will require double occupancy, so be aware of that. We believe, as we always have, that the convention is a service to our members, so we do not charge a registration or pre-registration fee.

As usual, we will be holding two different dinners-a legislative dinner on Thursday, and a banquet Saturday night. EACH will be $22.00, which is a real bargain at any hotel.

 


ABUSE TRAINING

Lynne Koral was honored to attend the very first training of persons to be chosen from three national organizations to go to training on abuse of and by people with disabilities. People with disabilities are twice as likely to be abused as those in the general public. Koral contends that she knows of no person with a disability who has not been abused, and despite that, many of those have not abused others.

This one-and-a-half day training brought together three national organizations: American Council of the Blind, Association of Retarded Citizens and United Cerebral Palsy. It was exciting to have role-playing and networking opportunities and a wealth of information given to us to "arm" us in the struggle to educate those with disabilities and providers and law enforcement officials about the real abuse issues towards those of us with disabilities. There are so many ramifications for this training and abuse on so many levels, that this training can have a broad appeal. This grant was given to SafePlace in Austin, Texas, and only seven blind grassroots advocates were chosen, along with two staff members from the National office of ACB. There were about 40 people in attendance.

Well, there is a lot to catch you up on, so stay tuned, and I hope you stay on the edge of your seats for all the exciting updates and news we can give that is fit to print.

 


WHAT IS NOT FIT TO PRINT

Frustration mounts as your President cannot mention all the back-and-forth nasty legal haggling except to say that the trial for the lawsuit pertaining to the dispute among various AIRRES Board members will be trial-bound September 29, 2003. Depositions are beginning soon towards the end of August. Suffice it to say, we thought we would be able to bring to light the many issues of all legal dealings, but cannot yet. It is our promise that we will as soon as we are given the go-ahead by our legal team.

Another factor of legal cases is their expense. A great deal of money has been spent to date on the various legal cases in the past year or more. We are certainly hoping that by state convention, we can give you some information as we did a little bit last year. We are delighted to tell you that we believe this convention will be a celebration of our victory and our continuation as an organization.

Please don't ask us more than what has been said, for I cannot reveal more than this. Please continue your good thoughts and prayers, and know that things are progressing.

 


NOMINATIONS

 If you need to think about nominating someone for an Officer position this year, please contact Don Lutz at 563-2525 or 1-800 478-9998. He has been selected by the Board to be our Nominations Chairman for our open State Board positions.

 


VOTING STORIES

Quite a bit has been happening in terms of the voting access issues. Read ahead to hear about both the Anchorage announcement and other national issues.

 


ANCHORAGE INVITE

Division of Elections
P.O. Box 110017
Juneau, Alaska 99811-0017
PHONE (907) 465-4611
FAX (907) 465-3203

 July 28, 2003

 Lynne Koral
1561 Nelchina Apt. C1
Anchorage, AK 99501

Dear Ms. Koral:

The Division of Elections would like to invite you to attend a demonstration of "touch-screen" accessible voting equipment in Anchorage on August 25th from 1:00pm until 4:00pm at the Region II Election Office located at 800 E. Dimond Blvd., Suite 3-580. Diebold Election Systems Inc. will provide demonstrations of the accessible touch screen voting units that the Division will be incorporating, in a very limited number, into our voting equipment inventory for the 2004 elections.

New state and federal mandates require the Division to purchase voting equipment that is accessible to voters with a full range of disabilities. The Division will be purchasing and implementing at least 55 accessible voting units this year for use in the 2004 elections. This will be the first of approximately 446 accessible units the Division will purchase in order to comply with new federal election reform laws by the 2006 election cycle.

If you are interested in participating, please call the Division of Elections, Director's Office at 907-465-4611 by Wednesday, August 22, 2003.

Thank you for your support of the election process and we look forward to hearing from you.

Sincerely,

Laura A. Glaiser, Director
Division of Elections

Note: It appears that the 22 is on a Friday, but that is the exact letter Koral received. She made sure that the message was sent to others who might be interested in reviewing the available machines, even though the letter was directed to her.

Ms. Koral and Mr. Sanderson went to hear about the improved Diebold machine. The machine was greatly improved. The sound is in an MP3 format, highly listenable, and there is a way to vary the speech, but, unfortunately, the pitch is changed also. The voice was not loud enough, but the keypad had much more discernable and definable numbers. (ed.)

 


Accessible Voting Machines Delayed

This item was procured from Karen Coady, the wonderful program manager for the Alaska Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired, and sent through Serena Dowling, Access Alaska, through the Justice for All mailing list.

Putting one accessible voting machine in every polling place has been delayed in California, Illinois, and New Hampshire. Professor David Dill, who has been studying elections for only six months, has delayed the purchase of accessible voting machines. His phony accusation is: "Touch screens make it easy for computer experts to steal elections, therefore every touch screen computer should have a printer attached to it and on election day every voter receives a voter verified paper ballot".

 

AAPD Opposes the Voter Verified Paper Ballot. Some Facts:

It's easier to steal an election with paper. VVPB do not exist, VVPBtouch screens have not been road tested in elections, VVPB have not been certified. Nobody knows how much more a VVPB touch screen will cost. Our position statement is below.

For more information go to: http://www.aapd-dc.org/dvpmain/elreform/paperballots.html (to go to directly just right click on http and select open hyperlink)

As a result of Dill's campaign, The California Secretary of State created a taskforce to study the need for a voter verified paper ballot (VVPB). Congratulations to Shawn Casey O'Brien, who represented the disability community on the taskforce. After an exhaustive three month study, among the taskforces recommendations are:

(1) VVPB is not necessary,

(2) administrative procedures will increase the already high security of touch screens,

(3) if a county wants a VVPB it may purchase them after they have been certified accessible.

Unhappy with the Secretary of State's conclusion, Dill is trying to flood the secretary with comments requiring a VVPB.

Action:

Contact California Secretary of State Kevin Shelley. Let him know that you support immediately purchasing accessible voting machines so that the 2004 elections will be accessible. VVPB is not necessary, a waste of money, and will create more problems than it will solve.

Kevin Shelley
Phone #: 916-653-7244
Fax #: 916-653-1458
TaskForceComments@ss.ca.gov
(to go directly to e-mail right click taskforce comments and select open hyperlink)

 

AAPD Policy Statement on Voter Verified Paper Ballots

The 2002 Help America Vote Act (HAVA) made several important and large-scale improvements to the nation's elections system, particularly in regard to the accessibility of the voting process for people with disabilities. A significant part of the bill is the requirement to place an accessible voting machine in every polling place in the country by January of 2006. This technology will allow millions of voters with disabilities to cast a secret and independent ballot, many of them doing so for the first time in their lives.

There are, however, efforts that threaten this positive impact and will certainly delay implementation by many years. The most dangerous and costly of these initiatives is the voter verifiable paper ballots (VVPB), already part of state law in Illinois and New Hampshire. The clique of VVPB supporters disputes the fact that touch screen voting machines are safe, secure, and reliable. They theorize that it is likely that computerized voting systems will accidentally miscount the ballots or that a rogue programmer will steal an election.

Therefore, every touch screen must be attached to a printer and give the voter a paper ballot. If implemented in state initiatives, VVPB will violate the letter and spirit of HAVA by once again denying people with disabilities their right to a secret and independent vote. Not only will the rights of people with disabilities be stripped, but the costs of local elections will rise significantly with no promise or guarantee of future federal funding to absorb these new costs. The American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD) opposes VVPB for four primary reasons:

1) It does not substantially address the issue of election fraud.

2) It violates the accessibility requirements under HAVA.

3) ) It will raise the costs of local elections and threaten Title III funding.

4) Touch screen voting systems that provide a VVPB do not exist, have not been tested in the real world, and are not certified.

1) VVPB AND ELECTION FRAUD

 -- Since 1964, electronic voting systems have been used in this nation's elections processes. In almost four decades, not a single case of election fraud due to the tampering of a system's hardware or software has occurred. Comparably, in the last 40 years, hundreds of cases of election fraud involving paper have occurred and been successfully prosecuted.

Dr. Michael Shamos, a noted expert with twenty years experience in testing and certifying voting systems points out that even if you assume that the threats are likely and real providing the voter with a paper ballot is false security because the paper ballot could say one thing while the computer records another.

 -- In order to commit election fraud using a paper system, a perpetrator only needs to know how the elections process works. If a perpetrator were to attempt fraud with a direct response election (DRE), that individual would need to know not only how elections work, but must also possess highly sophisticated technical knowledge and have undetected access to the system on election day.

 -- Touch screen voting machines are now required to have a paper trail.

 -- The voters' selection is stored in multiple locations immediately after being cast.

 -- Touch screen voting computers and the election day software are not available online.

-- Each voting machine has its own software.

-- An individual DRE will handle approximately two to three hundred votes.

-- Election procedures provide multiple cross checks and access to the machines and software is guarded like Fort Knox.

2) ACCESSIBILITY VIOLATIONS

AAPD and the disability community are in favor of a voter having the ability to verify the accuracy of their vote and to change any vote before their ballot is cast. In fact, it is one of the reasons the disability community has so strongly supported the implementation of DRE's that verify ballots and inform voters of a miss-vote.

 -- By requiring verification of a paper ballot before casting a ballot, blind voters are denied access to a secret and independent verification of their ballot. This action violates the letter and spirit of HAVA according to section 301, subsection (A) which states, ''the voting system shall (i) permit the voter to verify (in a private and independent manner) the votes selected by the voter on the ballot before the ballot is cast and counted.'

-- People with upper mobility disabilities or limitations are denied equal access to casting an independent vote if a paper ballot must be put into a ballot box. This also is a clear violation of HAVA's intent.

-- HAVA requires that all DRE's produce a paper audit trail. This audit trail is the most accurate and efficient way for an election authority to ensure that the systems are operating correctly.

3) THE COST OF VVPB

 -- There is no question that the printing of paper ballots will significantly raise the costs associated with DRE's and elections. This cost was not intended or foreseen by HAVA.

-- Requiring a VVPB will result in federal funds being diverted to the costs of printing paper ballots. This will, in many cases, eliminate the possibility of buying accessible DRE's.

-- The additional cost of paper systems will prevent federal funds from being used for poll worker recruitment and training. Miami, in 2002, used touch screen computers for the first time. In the primary, poll workers and voters were not properly trained on how to use the touch screens, resulting in a primary day mess. For the general election, Miami had to use city employees who were properly trained and the election went smoothly, but it cost the county more than a million dollars to use its employees.

-- Local jurisdictions and states will ultimately shoulder the additional ongoing costs of VVPB. Since localities and states are the least-funded government entities, the result of VVPB on elections could be highly detrimental.

In addition to these factors, there is also the concern that none of the DRE systems certified by the Federal Election Commission (FEC) specifically for HAVA funds have the capacity to produce a paper ballot. At best, the mandating of VVPB puts election authorities at risk of implementing systems that may be redundant and unnecessary. At worst, this requirement is an assault on the intention of HAVA, and it puts our democracy at risk because of the inaccuracies, unreliability and discriminatory practices. AAPD cannot in good faith support a measure that will negate the accessibility requirements under HAVA and one that creates an unfunded mandate for local election authorities.

Jim Dickson: VOTE AS IF YOUR LIFE DEPENDS ON IT, BECAUSE IT DOES.

 


TOUCH SCREEN MACHINES UNDER ATTACK

Hi All,

Below is an article from the front page of today's Washington Post that should spark some interest. It's the next chapter in the effort to slow down, or deny altogether, our access to an independent, secret ballot. Please keep in mind as you read this article that prominent articles from papers like the Washington Post often prompt local newspapers to print similar stories about the impact of the issue on their local communities.

If any of you are contacted by a reporter in this context, we are gathering information on the problems related to the security of these machines. In addition, the American Association of People with Disabilities has information on their website, http://www.aapd-dc.org. They have also advised us that two computer experts, Fred Selker, of MIT, and Brett Williams, of Kennesaw State, are preparing statements that will rebut many of the charges being made about accessible machines.

I believe it is important that we keep attention focused on the security of our own votes, in spite of what goes on in the print media. I suggest that each affiliate get in touch with your Secretary of State and local election directors. Ask them if they plan to meet the January 2006 HAVA deadline for purchasing accessible voting machines. Ask them which machines they plan to purchase and when they expect to sign the contract.

Now, here's the article!

Jolted Over Electronic Voting Report's Security Warning Shakes Some States' Trust By Brigid Schulte Washington Post Staff Writer Monday, August 11, 2003; Page A01 The Virginia State Board of Elections had a seemingly simple task before it: Certify an upgrade to the state's electronic voting machines. But with a recent report by Johns Hopkins University computer scientists warning that the system's software could easily be hacked into and election results tampered with, the once perfunctory vote now seemed to carry the weight of democracy and the people's trust along with it. An outside consultant assured the three-member panel recently that the report was nonsense.

"I hope you're right," Chairman Michael G. Brown said, taking a leap of faith and approving Diebold Election System's upgrades. "Because when they get ready to hang the three of us in effigy, you won't be here."

Since being released two weeks ago, the Hopkins report has sent shock waves across the country. Some states have backed away from purchasing any kind of electronic voting machine, despite a new federal law that has created a gold rush by allocating billions to buy the machines and requiring all states, as well as the District of Columbia, to replace antiquated voting equipment by 2006.

"The rush to buy equipment this year or next year just doesn't make sense to us anymore," said Cory Fong, North Dakota's deputy secretary of state.

Maryland officials, who signed a $55.6 million agreement with Diebold for 11,000 touch-screen voting machines just days before the Hopkins report came out, have asked an international computer security firm to review the system's security. If they don't like what they find, officials have said, the sale will be off. The report has brought square into the mainstream an obscure but increasingly nasty debate between about 900 computer scientists, who warn that these machines are untrustworthy, and state and local election officials and machine manufacturers, who insist that they are reliable.

"The computer scientists are saying, 'The machinery you vote on is inaccurate and could be threatened; therefore, don't go. Your vote doesn't mean anything,' " said Penelope Bonsall, director of the Office of Election Administration at the Federal Election Commission. "That negative perception takes years to turn around."Still, even some advocates of the new system are thinking twice. The Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, which pushed for electronic machines to help visually impaired and disabled voters, says the Hopkins report has given them pause. They're calling on President Bush and members of Congress to convene a forum of experts to hash it out.

"We have become concerned about these questions of ballot security," said Deputy Director Nancy Zirkin. Her group and others supported passage of the $3.9 billion Help America Vote Act in November. Of the $1.5 billion appropriated so far to replace old machines, rewrite outdated equipment standards, encourage research to improve technology, train poll workers and update registration lists, about half has been released. And that has all gone toward buying electronic machines, which cost as much as $4,000 a piece.

"These vendors are everywhere," said David Blount, spokesman for Mississippi Secretary of State Eric Clark. "They're besieging everyone."

The remaining money is to be released once an Election Assistance Commission is appointed. By law, the board was to have begun work in February. But the names of the four commissioners, two from each major party, have yet to go to the Senate for confirmation. The stakes are high. The 2000 Florida presidential election showed the shortcomings of the current system.

A subsequent Cal Tech/MIT report found that of more than 100 million votes cast nationwide, as many as 6 million weren't counted because of registration errors or problems with punch-card and lever machines. One study found that of 800 lever machines tested, 200 had broken meters that stopped counting once they hit 999.

Frustrations with the old machines -- levers were invented in the 1930s and punch cards in 1904 -- have turned many local election officials into staunch supporters of the new electronic models. Advocates for the disabled say that the machines will enable the visually impaired, for the first time, to put on headphones and vote a secret ballot.

Mischelle Townsend, registrar of voters in Riverside County, Calif., said the electronic machines have saved as much as $600,000 in paper every election and, from 1996 to 2000, helped increase voter turnout to 72 percent, up 10 percent. Any tampering would be caught, she said, in the extensive pre- and post-election testing. The best defense of the machines, she said, is that there has been no documented case of voter fraud. "If the computer scientists had one valid point, one, then why hasn't one incident of what they're saying occurred in all of these elections?"

But past is not prologue, historians and political scientists warn. "Some of these hacking scenarios are highly improbable. But it's not completely out of the question," said Larry J. Sabato, a political scientist at the University of Virginia who has written about political corruption. "When the stakes are high enough in an election, partisans and others will do just about anything. So this is a worry."

Bugs, Glitches Can Abound

Computer scientists note that computers are unreliable, subject to bugs, glitches and hiccups as well as the more remote possibility of outright hacking and code tampering. They warn of a hostile programmer inserting what they call Trojan horses, Easter eggs or back doors to predetermine the outcome. They point to a number of errors in the 2002 elections, from poll workers -- like some in Montgomery County -- unfamiliar with how long it takes to warm up the machines to mysterious vote tallies.

In Georgia, where Diebold machines are used, a handful of voters found that when they pressed the screen to vote for one candidate, the machine registered a vote for the opponent. Technicians were called in and the problem was fixed, state officials have said.

In Alabama, a computer glitch caused a 7,000-vote error and clouded the outcome of the gubernatorial race for two weeks. But more critically, computer scientists charge that the software that runs the machines is riddled with security flaws. "Whoever certified that code as secure should be fired," said Avi Rubin, technical director of the Information Security Institute at Johns Hopkins and co-author of the report. Rubin analyzed portions of Diebold software source code that was mistakenly left on a public Internet site and concluded that a teenager could manufacture "smart" cards and vote several times.

Further, he said, insiders could program the machine to alter election results without detection. All machines had the same password hard-wired into the code. And in some instances, it was set at 1111, a number laughably easy to hack, Rubin said.

Because there is no paper or electronic auditing system in the machine, there would be no way to reconstruct an actual vote, he said.

In a 27-page rebuttal, Diebold dismissed the findings. Officials said that the software Rubin analyzed was old and that only a portion may have been used in an actual election. "Right now, we're very, very confident about the security of our system," said Mark Radke, a Diebold executive. "If there is a way to make it more secure, we're open to that from good, reliable, knowledgeable sources who don't have a previous agenda."

That doesn't satisfy some critics. "The most important thing about the Hopkins report is not the security holes they found, but irrefutable proof that all this stuff that the machines are secure is hot air," said David Dill, a computer scientist at Stanford University who has turned the debate over electronic machines into a national crusade.

State and local election officials, however, say the checks and balances -- the poll workers and judges, the thick manuals of procedures - ensure the sanctity of elections.

"It's not fair to do an evaluation that doesn't talk about context," said Mary Kiffmeyer, president of the National Association of Secretaries of State. "Our voting process has all kinds of security. It's not just the box of technology."

Few Players in Game

Although free and fair elections are a central tenet of America's democracy, no one paid much attention to how they were executed for years. Not until 1990 did federal elections officials decide to write voluntary standards to certify voting machines. Still, the atmosphere remained fairly clubby, with one lab doing the testing and a revolving door between voting machine companies and the state officials who later went to work for them. Although nearly 20 companies have had equipment certified by the FEC, only three are major players: Diebold, with 55,000 touch screens throughout the country; ES&S of Omaha; and Oakland, Calif.-based Sequoia Voting Systems.

All machines go through the FEC's testing and certification process, which can cost companies anywhere from $25,000 to $100,000. Yet a 2001 report by the General Accounting Office found that the FEC standards do not thoroughly test for security or user friendliness and that only 37 states follow them.

Doug Jones, a computer scientist in Iowa, said the testing is so secret that even he, as an insider who serves on the state board that certifies voting equipment, can't get information. Five years ago, he found the identical security flaws cited in the Hopkins report.

"They promised it would be fixed," Jones said. "The Hopkins group found clear evidence that it wasn't. Yet for five years, I had been under the impression that it was fixed." Diebold's Radke said the code has been fixed.

Even the most vocal critics say there are workable solutions. Computer scientists say the companies should release their secret source codes for expert review, as two start-ups, VoteHere and Populex, have agreed to do. Or that states should require automatic upgrade clauses, as Santa Clara County has.

Dill, the Stanford computer scientist, and others are pushing for what are called voter-verified audit trails. By attaching a printer to every machine, voters can review the electronic ballot before it drops into a locked box.

Many solutions are already spelled out in the Help America Vote Act, which mandates tougher security, usability and accuracy standards.

In the end, however, with experts still at loggerheads and the 2004 election looming, voters are left wondering which side to trust. Howard A. Denis (R-Potomac-Bethesda), a Montgomery County Council member, was so shaken by the Hopkins report that he is considering asking for a waiver to stop using electronic machines.

"The more I look into this, the more serious I think it is," he said.

(c) 2003 The Washington Post Company

There was another article discussing Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, D.C. and which electronic voting machines had been purchased, which was not pertinent to Alaskan readers. (Ed.)

 

 


PHILADELPHIA SETTLES SUIT OVER VOTING ISSUE

This article comes from AAAPD-VOTE. I received it from e-mail. (Ed.)

CITY SETTLES SUIT OVER VOTER ACCESS

A proposal says polling places must be equipped for voters in wheelchairs and the visually impaired. By Joseph A. Slobodzian Inquirer Staff Writer

Officials of Philadelphia and a national disabilities group have agreed to settle a civil-rights lawsuit with a three-year plan to make the city's voting machines and polling places more accessible to voters who are blind or use wheelchairs.

The proposed settlement of the two-year-old suit by the National Organization on Disability and nine local disabled citizens was filed last week in federal court in Philadelphia.

The agreement was preliminarily approved by U.S. District Judge John R. Padova, who ordered the proposal published in three newspapers this month and set a hearing for Nov. 19.

"I cried - that was my reaction," said Jessie Jane Lewis, 55, a Manayunk performance artist who was one of the suit's nine local plaintiffs. "There was so much hurt and so much emotion that was built up."

Lewis, who says she has missed just two elections in 34 years, has multiple sclerosis and has used a motorized scooter for about three years. To vote at the local VFW hall, she has had to drive her van several blocks in hilly Manayunk, then have someone unload the ramp she brings with her and set it up twice so she can ride up one step to a landing and then up another step.

Under the proposed settlement, by Jan. 1, 2006, each of the city's 1,682 polling places will have at least one electronic voting machine equipped with earphones and audio instructions for use by voters who are blind or visually impaired.

The city also would create a Polling Place Access Committee to evaluate approximately 800 of the 1,682 polling places in 66 wards that are not accessible to people who use wheelchairs.

The committee's recommendations - portable ramps, temporary building modifications, or relocation of polling places to accessible buildings - and implementation must be completed by May 1, 2006.

Stephen F. Gold, a veteran Center City disabilities lawyer involved in the suit, called the agreement the best possible in an old city such as Philadelphia.

We will be the first city in the country that will have 100 percent accessible voting for blind people and as much as is reasonably feasible for those in wheelchairs," Gold said.

Jeffrey M. Scott, a divisional deputy city solicitor in the Civil Rights Unit, called the proposed agreement "a win for everyone."

"The [federal] law is going to change in 2006," Scott added. "We're going to get started on it earlier and get something up and running."

Scott referred to the "Help America Vote Act of 2002," an overhaul of the nation's voting system that was signed last October by President Bush.

Under the $3.9 billion measure, the federal government for the first time will give states money to create computerized voter-registration lists, replace antiquated machines, educate poll workers, and ensure access for the disabled.

The federal class-action lawsuit was filed in April 2001 under federal disabilities laws and challenged Philadelphia's award of a $19.3 million contract for more than 3,500 state-of-the-art, touch-screen voting machines

Jim Dickson

VOTE AS IF YOUR LIFE DEPENDS ON IT, BECAUSE IT DOES.

 

 


NEW LIST CREATED

Richie Gardenhire sent this announcement, and he is a Board member who is chairing our Youth and Technology committee within Alaska Independent Blind. (Ed.)

I would like to announce a new list which I created a little less than a month ago. It's called Blind Positive Thinkers. the sole purpose of this list is to promote positive thinking. We are not affiliated in any way with ACB or NFB; we aren't affiliated with any religious organizations or common causes. It is a growing and exciting list. To subscribe, simply send an e-mail request to: blind-positive-thinkers-subscribe@smartgroups.com.

 

 


DISABILITY MENTORING DAY

Here is an item sent through Karen Coady from the Justice for All mailing list and Serena Dowling. (Ed.)

"October 15, 2003, Designated as Disability Mentoring Day"

ODEP News Release July 21, 2003

October 15, 2003 Designated as National Disability Mentoring Day by Labor Secretary Chao

WASHINGTON - Oct. 15, 2003 has been designated as National Disability Mentoring Day, Secretary of Labor Elaine L. Chao announced today.

Begun in 1999, National Disability Mentoring Day promotes career development for students and job seekers with disabilities through one-on-one job shadowing, group visits to public and private employers, and hands-on career exploration. It is held in October in conjunction with National Disability Employment Awareness Month.

"National Disability Mentoring Day helps answer the President's challenge to build a more welcoming, and compassionate nation for all our citizens, which is the cornerstone of his New Freedom Initiative," Secretary Chao said. "I strongly encourage young people, schools, businesses, and government agencies throughout the country to become involved in this important national event."

"National Disability Mentoring Day is an opportunity for young people with disabilities to gain firsthand exposure to many of the career options available to them," said Roy Grizzard, assistant secretary of labor for the Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP). "It will also make employers and the general public increasingly aware that people with disabilities represent a largely untapped resource for sustaining our national economy and well- being."

Assistant Secretary Grizzard also gave special recognition to the American Association of People with Disabilities, which co-sponsors National Disability Mentoring Day with ODEP and works with other national organizations to promote career exploration for students and job seekers with disabilities. In 2003, young people in all 50 states, Guam, American Samoa, Japan, Italy, Singapore, France, the United Kingdom, and Australia are expected to participate in National Disability Mentoring Day.

 

 
DIABETES NEWS UPDATE

This was sent through our e-mail at work by Karen Coady, Program Manager, Alaska Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired. (Ed.)

ADA Action Center News Alert

U.S. Chamber of Commerce Intensifying Efforts to Deny Health Insurance Coverage

Dear Diabetes Advocate,

Congress Daily, a Capitol Hill publication, recently ran an article about the efforts of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and other business groups to pass Senate Bill 545, which would allow small businesses to band together to purchase health insurance policies that are not required to cover specific diseases, like diabetes. For people with diabetes who work for a small business, this could spell disaster.

According to the article, the National Federation of Independent Business is "urging its small business membership to pull out all the stops, including town hall meetings, direct sessions with senators, letters to editors, mail and phone calls." If you needed convincing that meeting with your senator and his or her staff can make a difference, this should do it. The Business special interest groups are big and powerful, and they are determined to pass this legislation. You must make sure that your senators are hearing from you and that your interests - meaning your ability to take care of yourself - are being considered!

Step 1: If you have not already sent a message to your senators about S. 545, click here.

Step 2: Meet with your senators while they're home for the month of August. Nearly every senator will be holding town hall meetings during the Congressional recess. Call the local office of your senators (they're in the phone book) and ask them when the next town hall meeting will be. Grab a few friends and go. Be sure to speak up in opposition to S. 545 and specifically ask your senators to vote against it. Don't forget to wear your Diabetes Advocate Red Shirt to the meeting.

Step 3: Tell your senators and their staff that Association Health Plans, and S. 545, are bad for people with diabetes.

Use these talking points:

List of 3 items

S. 545, the Small Business Health Fairness Act, is not fair at all. In fact, it will allow small businesses to purchase health insurance policies that skirt state requirements for diabetes supplies, equipment and education.

The American Diabetes Association has helped to pass 46 state laws that require coverage for diabetes needs. Multiple studies support the fact that providing good health care, education and medical supplies to people with diabetes significantly lowers the amount of complications (like kidney failure, blindness, amputations and heart disease) and dramatically lowers the cost of emergency health care for people with diabetes.

S. 545 would remove the safety net that people with diabetes must have. People with diabetes and their life-saving health care services must be protected. list end

Step 4: Send us a message at makingnoise@diabetes.org, telling us about your experience.

Good luck.

Sincerely,

Your Advocacy Team at the American Diabetes Association

 


FASCISM REVIEW

This was sent by a colleague at my office, Lowell Zercher, and it just gives one person's opinion of Fascism. Read it for a thought-provoking view, whether you agree with it or not. (Ed.)

Fascism

Dr. Lawrence Britt, a political scientist, wrote an article about fascism that appeared in Free Inquiry magazine, a journal of humanist thought. Dr. Britt studied the fascist regimes of Hitler (Germany), Mussolini (Italy), Franco (Spain), Suharto (Indonesia), and Pinochet (Chile). He found the regimes all had 14 things in common, and he calls these the identifying characteristics of fascism. The article is "Fascism Anyone?", Lawrence Britt, Free Inquiry, Spring 2003, page 20.

The 14 characteristics are:

1. Powerful and Continuing Nationalism - Fascist regimes tend to make constant use of patriotic mottos, slogans, symbols, songs, and other paraphernalia. Flags are seen everywhere, as are flag symbols on clothing and in public displays.

2. Disdain for the Recognition of Human Rights - Because of fear of enemies and the need for security, the people in fascist regimes are persuaded that human rights can be ignored in certain cases because of "need." The people tend to look the other way or even approve of torture, summary executions, assassinations, long incarcerations of prisoners, etc.

3. Identification of Enemies/Scapegoats as a Unifying Cause - The people are rallied into a unifying patriotic frenzy over the need to eliminate a perceived common threat or foe: racial, ethnic or religious minorities; liberals; communists; socialists, terrorists, etc.

4. Supremacy of the Military - Even when there are widespread domestic problems, the military is given a disproportionate amount of government funding, and the domestic agenda is neglected. Soldiers and military service are glamorized.

5. Rampant Sexism - The governments of fascist nations tend to be almost exclusively male-dominated. Under fascist regimes, traditional gender roles are made more rigid. Opposition to abortion is high, as is homophobia and anti-gay legislation and national policy.

6. Controlled Mass Media - Sometimes the media is directly controlled by the government, but in other cases, the media is indirectly controlled by government regulation, or sympathetic media spokespeople and executives. Censorship, especially in wartime, is very common.

7. Obsession with National Security - Fear is used as a motivational tool by the government over the masses.

8. Religion and Government are Intertwined - Governments in fascist nations tend to use the most common religion in the nation as a tool to manipulate public opinion. Religious rhetoric and terminology is common from government leaders, even when the major tenets of the religion are diametrically opposed to the government's policies or actions.

9. Corporate Power is Protected - The industrial and business aristocracy of a fascist nation often are the ones who put the government leaders into power, creating a mutually beneficial business/government relationship and power elite.

10. Labor Power is Suppressed - Because the organizing power of labor is the only real threat to a fascist government, labor unions are either eliminated entirely, or are severely suppressed.

11. Disdain for Intellectuals and the Arts - Fascist nations tend to promote and tolerate open hostility to higher education, and academia. It is not uncommon for professors and other academics to be censored or even arrested. Free expression in the arts is openly attacked, and governments often refuse to fund the arts.

12. Obsession with Crime and Punishment - Under fascist regimes, the police are given almost limitless power to enforce laws. The people are often willing to overlook police abuses and even forego civil liberties in the name of patriotism. There is often a national police force with virtually unlimited power in fascist nations.

13. Rampant Cronyism and Corruption - Fascist regimes almost always are governed by groups of friends and associates who appoint each other to government positions and use governmental power and authority to protect their friends from accountability. It is not uncommon in fascist regimes for national resources and even treasures to be appropriated or even outright stolen by government leaders. 14. Fraudulent Elections - Sometimes elections in fascist nations are a complete sham. Other times elections are manipulated by smear campaigns against or even assassination of opposition candidates, use of legislation to control voting numbers or political district boundaries, and manipulation of the media. Fascist nations also typically use their judiciaries to manipulate or control elections.

Any of this sound familiar? Nah ... can't happen here ...

 

 


THE PERKS OF BEING OVER 50

This next item was sent through Karen Coady, Alaska Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired. (Ed.)

The Perks of Being Over 50

1. Your supply of brain cells is finally down to manageable size.

2. Your secrets are safe with your friends because they can't remember them either.

3. Your joints are more accurate meteorologists than the national weather service.

4. People call at 9 PM and ask, "Did I wake you?"

5. People no longer view you as a hypochondriac.

6. There is nothing left to learn the hard way.

7. Things you buy now won't wear out.

8. You can eat dinner at 4 P.M.

9. You can live without sex but not without glasses.

10. You enjoy hearing about other people's operations.

11. You get into heated arguments about pension plans.

12. You have a party and the neighbors don't even realize it.

13. You no longer think of speed limits as a challenge.

14. You quit trying to hold your stomach in, no matter who walks into the room.

15. You sing along with elevator music.

16. Your eyes won't get much worse.

17. Your investment in health insurance is finally beginning to pay off.

18. You can't remember who sent you this list

 

 


ETIQUETTE FOR THE SIGHTED

This is reminiscent of a banquet speech given by Steve Speicher the year he came to our convention in Fairbanks in 1998. This was sent by the First Lady of American Council of the Blind, Marvelena Quesada. (ed).

This is hilarious!

Marvelena C Quesada

The Royal National Institute Of The Sighted

 

WHAT TO DO WHEN YOU MEET A SIGHTED PERSON

People who use their eyes to receive information about the world are called sighted people or "people who are sighted." Legal "sight" means "any visual acuity greater than 20/200 in the better eye without correction or an angle of vision wider than 20 degrees."

Sighted people enjoy rich full lives, working, playing and raising families. They run businesses, hold public office and teach YOUR children!

 

HOW DO SIGHTED PEOPLE GET AROUND?!

People who are sighted may walk or ride public transportation, but most choose to travel long distances by operating their own motor vehicles. They have gone through many hours of training to learn the "rules of the road" in order to further their independence. Once that road to freedom has been mastered, sighted people earn a legal classification and a "Driver's License" which allows them to operate a private vehicle safely and independently.

 

HOW TO ASSIST A SIGHTED PERSON

Sighted people are accustomed to viewing the world in visual terms. This means that in many situations, they will not be able to communicate orally and may resort to pointing or other gesturing. Subtle facial expressions may also be used to convey feelings in social situations. Calmly alert the sighted person to his surroundings by speaking slowly, in a normal tone of voice. Questions directed at the sighted person help focus attention back on the verbal rather than visual communication. At times, sighted people may need help finding things, especially when operating a motor vehicle. Your advance knowledge of routes and landmarks, particularly bumps in the road, turns and traffic lights, will assist the "driver" in finding the way quickly and easily. Your knowledge of building layouts can also assist the sighted person in navigating complex shopping malls and offices. Sighted people tend to be very proud and will not ask directly for assistance. Be gentle, yet firm.

 

HOW DO SIGHTED PEOPLE USE COMPUTERS?!

The person who is sighted relies exclusively on visual information. His or her attention span fades quickly when reading long texts. Computer information is presented in a "Graphical User Interface" or GUI. Coordination of hands and eyes is often a problem for sighted people, so the computer mouse, a handy device that slides along the desk top, saves confusing keystrokes. With one button, the sighted person can move around his or her computer screen quickly and easily. People who are sighted are not accustomed to synthetic speech and may have great difficulty understanding even the clearest synthesizer. Be patient and prepared to explain many times how your computer equipment works.

 

HOW DO SIGHTED PEOPLE READ?!

Sighted people read through a system called "Print." this is a series of images drawn in a two dimensional plain. People who are sighted generally have a poorly developed sense of touch. Braille is completely foreign to the sighted person and he or she will take longer to learn the code and be severely limited by his or her existing visual senses. Sighted people cannot function well in low lighting conditions and are generally completely helpless in total darkness. Their homes are usually very brightly lit at great expense, as are businesses that cater to the sighted consumer.

 

HOW CAN I SUPPORT A SIGHTED PERSON?!

People who are sighted do not want your charity. They want to live, work and play along with you. The best thing you can do to support sighted people in your community is to open yourself to their world. These people are vital, contributing members of society. Take a sighted person to lunch today!!

 

 


NATIONAL CONVENTION INFORMATION

This was from the ACB list, and an answer by Sharon Lovering to a query about the National Convention. (Ed.)

July 3-10, 2004 Rate: $75 plus 14% tax ($10.50) total each night = $85.50 Sheraton Birmingham 2101 Richard Arrlington Blvd. Birmingham, AL 35205 (205) 324-5000 direct 1-800-325-3535 reservation center

 

 


CONCLUSION

Well, newsletter fans, that's it for this time. Wait with eagerness for our convention, and don't forget that a convention announcement and reservations form is included. We hope to see you at our convention, where there is a strong possibility that Pulse Data/Humanware will be exhibiting. It has been quite a while since any from a company producing technology has exhibited, but we hope to do more events targeting information about assistive technology. We will even have programs for you non-computer literate, or novice computer users.

Again, we want to thank Karen Haddock for rendering our last newsletter on cassette, and hope that we will find someone for taping this one. Karen Sullivan has moved to Minneapolis, and we do hope she enjoys her move back to her roots. Again, thanks to Dan Shanis and others who have helped get this laptop networked. Thanks to Don Lutz and Aaron Linn who work part-time in our office. We are and have been keeping afloat through our able, hard-working Board Members:

Lynne Koral, President
Sandy Sanderson, First Vice-President
Deborah Jenkins, Second Vice-President
Fred Ryan, Treasurer

Board Members:

Danny Von
Richard Gardenhire |
James Swartz

 

 

 

THE END

 

Webmaster: pprice@indy.rr.com
Updated, December 3, 2003