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Newsletter of the Arizona Council of the Blind





Fall 2013



President's Message: The 52nd Annual ACB National Convention by Barbara McDonald


My husband and I left for the ACB National Convention on July 3, 2013.  Our flight was supposed to leave at 11:30 AM, but our plane had mechanical problems, which caused a two hour delay.  We arrived in Columbus, Ohio at 6:00 PM.  Remember, there is a three hour time difference between Phoenix and Columbus. When we arrived, Margarine Beaman and two other volunteers were waiting for us.  She led us to the bus that we had arranged for to take us to the hotel.  After getting our room, we decided to eat dinner in a hotel restaurant.  Later, I listened to one of my talking books, and my husband went out to investigate the hotel.  Columbus celebrates its "Red, White, and Boom" night on July 3rd and there was about a half a million people in front of our downtown hotel observing the display of fireworks.


Columbus was in its eighth day of rain.  Since we had not seen a drop for three months, we enjoyed the downpour with its 70 degree temperatures.  It rained every day we were there.  We left for home on the first sunny day Columbus had seen in 19 days.



This year, the opening session was on Saturday instead of Sunday, and the banquet was held on Thursday evening instead of Friday.


During the opening session, Mitch Pomerantz gave his final report as the American Council of the Blind President, concluding his three terms (6 years) in that position. He said that it would be impossible to report on all the activities of the administrative staff from the Virginia and Minnesota offices.  He acknowledged Melanie Brunson, Executive Director, and Lane Waters, Comptroller, and the support staff by name.  He also expressed gratitude to Eric Bridges, former Director of Advocacy, who left that position on July 19.  Sharon Lovering, current editor of the Braille Forum, was thanked for 20 years of faithful service to ACB.  President Pomerantz recognized the 15 other board members and the five members of the board of publications.  During his three terms, they have been active participants, and will continue to work on the goals set forth in last year's strategic plan.  The board of publications will bring us into the social media age by expanding ACB’s use of Facebook and Twitter.  The "E Forum", an ACB web publication, is now being carried by "Newsline" and it is anticipated that it will soon be available across the country on the radio reading services.  Mitch also commended the people who are working on the website and ACB radio.  All of these are an integral part of our communication efforts. Finally, he thanked his wife, Donna Pomerantz, who is the President of the California Council of the Blind, and according to Mitch, she has put up with all kinds of nonsense during the last six years.


Mitch announced that he was very disappointed that our two guest speakers from Spain, Miguel Carbilita, the President of the Spanish National Organization for the Blind, an Enrica Perez, the Second Vice President of the World Blind Union, would not be able to attend because of an injury to Miguel's back.  The Spanish organization is celebrating its 75th Anniversary.  Both guests sent electronic presentations.  Mitch hoped that they would be invited again next year. 


Almost exactly one year ago, President Obama signed the Food and Drug Safety Act into law, which contained language from the American Council of the Blind.  As a result, a task force was formed comprised of pharmacy companies and groups representing the blind and aging.  Their task was to create the "Best Practices" for accessible prescription labeling and information.  Mitch was one of the representatives from ACB in this endeavor and was proud of the accomplishments of the task force.   A comprehensive "Best Practices” document has been released since the convention, and the Department of Justice Access Board is expected to approve it. 


The World Intellectual Property Organization, WIPO, has signed a treaty which allows the exchange of copyrighted material to cross international borders.  This will end the book famine for many people who are blind, visually impaired, or cannot hold a book in the conventional way.  Melanie Brunson was ACB's representative.  Two other advocacy issues that ACB has worked on this year are for Medicare to pay for low vision devices and durable goods and the Ann Sullivan-Macy Act.


The Macy Act would ensure that every special education student would get evaluated and a plan recommended for their vision.  Although neither bill will get passed this year, ACB will continue to be persistent.  Mitch also talked about the progress on sounds for hybrid cars, and more narrated television, especially emergency warnings.  He also stated that we are still awaiting accessible currency from the Treasury Department.  Although I recorded Mitch's farewell report, this is only a summary of what he said.  Future members will judge his merits as a president.  As for me, I can only say that he was always there when I needed his assistance.


It seemed strange to have a general session on a Sunday morning.  During Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, the general session was held in the morning.  On Thursday, the general session was an all-day affair.  There was an international food court with reasonable prices.  Being the capitol of Ohio, there were many interesting things to do in Columbus. You could take a tour of the city, see a Cincinnati Reds baseball game, go to museums, and even see a replica of Christopher Columbus' ship, the Santa Maria.  The exhibit hall was another place to spend your time.


There are ACB Committees that have informational meetings.  There are over 20 special interest groups.  Some of the groups are for lawyers, government workers, librarians, diabetics, citizens with low vision, guide dog users, students, teachers, families, Lions, and many more.  Each of these special interest groups hold mini-conventions, which consist of informational meetings, elections, and social get-togethers.


My favorite event is the ACB Auction.  They seem to get all my money.  AzCB donated a Kachina and a Barbie Doll this year, which sold together for $165.00. 


Elections for officers were held on Thursday, July 11th.  Kim Charlson was elected president.  She is the first woman president in ACB’s fifty-two years of existence.  Kim and her husband, Brian, are from Massachusetts, and were our guests at our 2012 AzCB State Convention.  Jeff Thom, a retired lawyer, from California was elected for first vice-president.  Marlaina Lieberg, ACB's former secretary, was elected to the second vice-president position.  She is from the state of Washington.  Ray Campbell, who is from Illinois and who also was our guest at a state convention, was elected secretary.  Finally, Carla Ruschival, last year's treasurer, was re-elected to the treasurer's position.  She comes from Kentucky.  Now that I think about it, Jeff and Marlaina have been guests at recent state conventions.  You may remember Carla as the conference chair when ACB held their national convention here in 2010.


David Trott (Alabama) and Patrick Sheehan (Maryland) were elected to director positions that were vacated by Jeff Thom and Ray Campbell. President Charlson appointed Denise Colley (Washington) as the chair of the board of publications.  Our own Ron Brooks (Arizona) was also appointed to the board of publications, and Doug Powell (Virginia) was elected to fill Denise's vacated position.


Letter Announcing Award


The Inspiration Foundation understands the important role adaptive computer technology plays in a blind or visually impaired person’s life. The Inspiration Foundation proudly grants Adaptive Technology Awards to blind and visually impaired individuals who have been denied financial assistance for this expensive technology from federal and state funded programs.


This year, Inspiration Foundation will award a scholarship of up to $5,000.00 in adaptive technology to one individual that we feel is the best match for our program.  We are proud to announce we are currently accepting applications for the 2013 Inspiration Foundation Adaptive Technology Award online at:


To be eligible for this scholarship, an individual must be a blind or visually impaired legal resident of California or Arizona, and 18 years of age or older. All information on this application form is strictly confidential and will only be used to determine your need and ability to inspire independence.


Below are key deadlines for applicants to consider when submitting an application:



July 15th – Will begin accepting applications online

Nov.1st   - Deadline to receive application.

Dec. 15th – Announcement of Winner

White Cane Safety Day


October 15 is celebrated nationally as "White Cane Safety Day."  Today, the white cane works both as an identifying tool and as a tactile probe for people who are blind.  Throughout history, the cane has served as a travel aid enabling us to enjoy independence and mobility.  The cane is also a tool to alert us of obstacles in our path.


The cane was used solely as a travel tool for centuries. It was not until the twentieth century that the cane was promoted for identification purposes.


This new role began in Europe shortly after World War I. James Biggs of Bristol claims he invented the white cane in 1921, after he suddenly lost his vision. Feeling threatened by traffic near his home, Biggs painted his walking stick white for better visibility to drivers. Ten years later, the white cane established its presence in France when Guilly d'Herbemont launched a national white stick movement for individuals who were blind. The campaign was reported in British newspapers, leading to similar campaigns by Rotary clubs throughout the United Kingdom. In May, 1931, the BBC suggested in its radio broadcasts that, “blind individuals might be provided with a white stick, which would become universally recognized as a symbol indicating that somebody was blind or visually impaired.” Lions Club International introduced the white cane to America in 1930, beginning a national campaign promoting their use.


Throughout the 1920s and 1930s, canes were held in a fixed position, serving mostly as an identifier. When World War II veterans returned home, the form and the use of the white cane was further altered in an attempt to help return veterans to participatory and independent lifestyles. 


The first special White Cane Ordinance was passed in December 1930 in Peoria, Illinois. It granted blind pedestrians protections and the right-of-way while using a white cane. During the early 1960s, several state organizations and rehabilitation agencies serving individuals who are blind or low vision urged the United States Congress to proclaim October 15 of each year as “White Cane Safety Day” in all 50 states. On October 6, 1964, a joint resolution of the Congress, HR 753, was signed into law authorizing the President of the United States to proclaim October 15 of each year as “White Cane Safety Day.” President Lyndon Johnson was first to proclaim the day. In his first proclamation he said, “A white cane in our society has become one of the symbols of a blind person's ability to come and go on his own. Its use has promoted courtesy and opportunity for mobility of the blind on our streets and highways.”


Today, in Arizona, an estimated 172,000 residents are blind, many of whom rely on a cane for travel and identification purposes. With proper training, cane users are enjoying greater mobility and safety by determining the location of curbs, steps, uneven pavement, and other physical obstacles. It has given us the freedom to travel independently to school, church and work, and to participate fully in community life.


The Phoenix VA Visual Impairment Service Team will be hosting their White Cane Day Event on Tuesday, October 15, 2013, from 8:30 to 11:30am.


The venue will be different this year. It will take place at Montecito Community School, across the street of the VA, at 715 E. Montecito Avenue, Phoenix, AZ 85014. Members of AzCB’s PR Committee will be there to share information about our organization.

The Maricopa County Club of the Blind


MCCB met on June 12th and September 11th at the Arizona Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired.  The meetings were considered a revitalization of the group.  Refreshments were served and a discussion was held on possible focuses, such as, support, advocacy, social outings, and having guest speakers.  Membership forms and dues were collected.


The group decided to continue meeting on the second Wednesday of the month at ACBVI at 3100 East Roosevelt Street from 1:30 to 3:00.


We will post information about meetings or social events on the website at  In case you do not have a computer, please call our office at 602-273-1510 for more information.


The Phoenix Chapter


The Phoenix Chapter's last meeting was held by way of teleconference.  It was decided to have business meetings by phone and alternate the next month with a social event.  The business meetings will be on the third Tuesday of the month.


The next business meeting will be held by phone on September 17, 2013 from 7:00 to 8:00.  You can join the meeting by calling 1-218-548-3992 followed by the PIN of 6320547.  We now have 21 members.  It would be wonderful to have 50% of the membership join in to express their views and ideas.


Our October social get together will be an Octoberfest style celebration (at least the food will be).  As of this printing, the day, date, and time have not been determined.  The information will be posted on the website. 


In case you don't have a computer, you can call Barbara McDonald at 602-285-0269 for more information.

Why the AzCB Opposes U.S. Senate Bill 1356

by Ted Chittenden


You may have read or heard something about a proposed bill that is now going through the U.S. Senate. The bill is numbered S.1356 and it is titled “The Workforce Investment Act.” It is an update of the Workforce Investment Act of 2000.


Okay, so what is so important about this bill, you ask? Well, it is going to change the Department of Vocational Rehabilitation and make it much less effective at what it is supposed to do: train blind and visually impaired people on how to be blind and assist them in finding employment. Section 511 accomplishes this task in five ways:


1)    The Department of Vocational Rehabilitation is taken out of the Department of Education and split into two. Independent living services (save those for the elderly) are moved to the Department of Health and Human Services while the remainder of the rehabilitation program is given to the Department of Labor.


2)    Effectively, this would mean that there would no longer be a Director of Vocational Rehabilitation Services appointed by the President and confirmed by the U.S. Senate.


3)    There would be a new requirement that all state vocational rehabilitation agencies spend at least 15% of any Federal funds they receive on the job training of teenagers and young adults (it’s called transition services), regardless of the actual size of that population as compared to the number of disabled older adults and retirees in any given state.


4)    The licensing requirements for new vocational rehabilitation counselors would be reduced, meaning that newly blind and visually impaired people seeking vocational rehabilitation services may not be serviced by the most qualified people in the future.


5)    It would permanently link vocational rehabilitation services to shops that employ blind and other disabled people at subminimum wages by setting requirements and restrictions on these programs and who they can accept.


S.356 passed out of the Senate’s Health, Education, and Welfare (HELP) committee at the end of July after a very quick hearing.


At its August meeting, the AzCB Board of Directors voted to oppose the proposed legislation, primarily because of reason 1) above. As our First Vice President Daniel Martinez noted (and I am paraphrasing here), the goal of the Department of Vocational Rehabilitation is supposed to be training. Additionally, you learn how to find a job yourself, which is why the federal department is inside the Department of Education in the first place.  Section 511 is getting support from the centers for independent living (CILS), (primarily because of reason 1) and Goodwill and other business and industrial groups, primarily because of reason 5). And while the U.S. House of Representatives’ version of this bill (which was passed in March of this year) does not include any of the issues cited above, it should not be left up to a House-Senate Conference committee to determine whether these items should be removed from the bill. It is therefore imperative that we let U.S. Senators Flake and McCain know of our opposition to this proposal, particularly Section 511, and why, as soon as possible.


2014 ACB Conference and Convention

The 2014 American Council of the Blind Conference and Convention will be held at the: Riviera Casino & Hotel in Las Vegas, NV.  Convention dates are Friday, July 11th through Saturday, July 19th 2014.  Visit for information.

Mark Your Calendars!

GDUA’s Annual Workshop and Membership Meeting is Coming Soon!


Guide Dog Users of Arizona is excited to cordially invite anyone who has a guide dog, who is thinking about getting a guide dog, or who cares about guide dog issues to join us for our 2013 Annual Workshop and Membership Meeting.


When –9 am to 4 pm on Saturday, November 16, 2013.


Where –Burton Barr Public Library, 1221 N. Central Ave. Phoenix AZ, Fourth Floor Lecture Room


Registration – Cost to register is $20 before October 31 and $30 after November 1 or at the door. You can register on-line through Paypal by visiting


This year’s conference will feature several presenters who will focus on issues of importance to guide dog handlers and their dogs, including topics ranging from health care management to training, food and much more. We will also hold our annual Business Meeting, which is where officers and Board members are elected.


For More Information – Visit our website at You may also give Ron Brooks a call at (602) 616-1171.


Thanks and we look forward to seeing you.

NFB Newsline by Carlos Paraskevas


Would you like to read a newspaper with your morning cup of coffee?  I do, and thanks to National Federation of the Blind’s (NFB) Newsline, I can read the Arizona Republic, the Chicago Tribune and Rolling Stone anytime I like.  All the day’s breaking news is (literally) at my fingertips.


When you subscribe to NFB Newsline, you will have access to over 300 publications.  They include Arizona newspapers, as well as newspapers from other states.  Over 35 magazines, ranging from the Arts, Science, Health and Fitness, Pop Culture and National and International news are also available.  Subscribers can get all this information by phone, on a computer, and even on their iPod, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.


Each day, a subscriber can choose to view that day's, the previous day's, or the previous Sunday's issue of any newspaper in the service. On NFB-NEWSLINE®, the user can easily choose which newspaper, section, and article to read using a standard touch-tone telephone. The menu allows the user to change the speed and voice settings, spell out words, or search for a particular word or subject.


Anyone who cannot read printed newspapers due to vision loss, dyslexia, or a physical disability is eligible to receive NFB NEWSLINE.  Register by calling the Arizona State Talking Book Library at (602) 255-5578, or call the National Federation of the Blind at (866) 504-7300 to request an application.  You may also download an application or fill out an online application at After your registration is processed, you'll receive a letter containing your activation codes and instructions on how to access a world of information.  Happy reading. 



Final in a Series by Bob Williams


In April 2010, Ron Brooks became the 11th person elected to the presidency of the Arizona Council of the Blind since 1971.  He was elected during the organization’s 39th Annual State Convention held at the Phoenix International Airport Crown Plaza hotel in Phoenix.  Ron won out over Barbara McDonald in something of a mild election upset for the top position.  Two years later, a majority vote would restore Barbara to the presidency during the state convention in Tucson. 


As the year 2010 drew to a close, Ron announced the following goals for the new year and the remainder of his first two-year term:


1. Work with the board membership committee and members of the AzCB to launch two new local chapters.


2. Expand our outreach activities to high school and college students and other younger blind and visually impaired people.


3. Increase the amount of funds we make available for scholarships and financial assistance to members in need.


4. Increase our profile in the larger disability community.


5. Work with local chapters to make a positive difference in their local communities. 


During his tenure as President, Ron would note the following accomplishments among others via his column in our quarterly newsletter:


•     Established advocacy and legislation committee focusing on state advocacy issues.


•     Improved AzCB online presence in various ways.


•     Continued participation in annual Vision, Rehabilitation and Technology Expo. 


•     Training for AZCB board members by ACB national representative.


•     AZ state affiliate hosted 49th annual national conference and convention in Phoenix in July 2010, with former President Barbara McDonald as local host committee Chairperson.


•     Continued to fund scholarships and technology stipends despite deep cuts in annual budgets. 


Ron Brooks was born in Marion, Indiana and graduated from Muncie High School in 1985.  He attended the Harding College affiliate with the University of Arkansas before receiving his degree in Political Science and Liberal Arts with a concentration in Latin American Studies from the University of Indiana in 1990.  Totally blind since his formative years, Ron pursued graduate studies in International Relations at San Francisco State University. The ACB chapter in Oakland asked Ron to attend a meeting of the local Bay Area Rapid Transit advisory board.  His interest in public transit led to Ron’s first job with the Bay Area Rapid Transit System.  Subsequent employment in public transit would carry Ron and his growing family to Florida, New Mexico and Illinois before their relocation to Phoenix in 2006.  In each employment location, he maintained his connection with local ACB affiliates whenever possible. He held various committee and officer positions in New Mexico at the Albuquerque chapter, as well as being Chair of the Florida Council of the Blind state convention planning committee for three consecutive years.


Ron’s affiliation started in 1990 as an ACB scholarship winner, and continued as a member of ACB’s special interest affiliate for blind students.  On the national level, Ron has served as Chair of ACB’s transportation committee.




In July of this year, Ron was appointed to the ACB Publications Board by newly elected ACB President Kim Charlson.  Several of Ron’s writings have appeared in the ACB monthly newsletter via the Board of Publications in recent years.  His gifted wife Lisa was presented with the Ned Freeman award in 2010 for her writing skills. 


Ron and Lisa met in 1994 and were married two years later.  Formerly Lisa Espinoza, Ron and Lisa’s children include daughter Kacie, son Andrew and daughter Amanda, ages 10, 9 and 7 respectively.  Each child was born at home with midwife assistance. 


After moving from Illinois to Phoenix in 2006, Ron and Lisa joined the AzCB and were founding members of the Phoenix chapter affiliate in 2007.  Ron was elected to the AZCB board as a director in 2008 and as President in 2010.   He also chaired the state convention planning committee from 2007 through 2009.  As a founding member of the Phoenix chapter, Ron lists getting people involved either on state committees or on the AzCB boards as a personal highlight.  Bringing the state convention back to Tucson in 2012 after an absence of several years was another personal accomplishment. 


Ron is Vice-President of Paratransit in Phoenix with French-based Veolia Transportation Services.  When his company bids and wins a contract for paratransit services anywhere in the United States, Ron is responsible for the bid.  His job involves much writing, speaking and travel with his guide dog Potter.  Ron uses all the latest technology and reads Braille but does not use much Braille at work.  As a frequent traveler, he avoids checking baggage whenever possible but uses skycaps whenever necessary. 



Ron and Lisa are both involved with the Guide Dog Users of Arizona affiliate and the National ACB Guide Dog Users affiliate.  Ron is also doing lots of ACB transportation Advocacy.  Lisa is involved with the ACB Blind Families interest group.  She manages the local GDUA website and email list.  Ron is noncommittal regarding running again for the AZCB presidency but is absolutely certain that he and Lisa would like to make Phoenix their home until their three children are all out of high school.


GDUAZ Updates by Lisa Brooks


The Guide Dog Users of Arizona held it's second “Diving with Dogs” pool party in August at the home of Cindy Rogers in Chandler. Dogs, kids, and adults all had a wonderful time eating the meal catered by Subway, playing in the pool, and chatting with old and new friends.


The end of summer turns our focus towards our Annual Workshop and Membership Meeting which will be held at the Phoenix Burton Barr Library in November. Members and nonmembers are welcome to submit suggestions for seminar content,or to assist in the planning process at our next board meetings by teleconference call.  Please visit our website at for more details and to register for the event. 


A Glimpse Into AzCB Membership Dynamics

By Dan Martinez


I hear people comparing and contrasting the ACB with the NFB. And, as the two major consumer groups representing people who are blind, it is not surprising that people would do that.  They would do it to determine which group best represents their issues or which group to support or join.


I, of course, support and belong to the ACB.  Here are my very subjective thoughts on the matter.  My opinions are my own and do not necessarily reflect those of any other individual, group or organization.


Both the ACB and NFB do good work in improving systems to make them better for people who are blind. But, from my perspective, they come at it in different ways.  Each approach is driven by core beliefs and values.  It is those differences in our beliefs and values that separate us.


The first issue of diversion between the ACB and the NFB is one of diversity of identity.  The NFB venerates and portrays people who are blind into a single image.  They paint a picture of a totally blind man with all of the appropriate skills and attributes required to succeed.  Is this an accurate identity?  Absolutely, in some cases it is right on.  For others it is not so suitable.  None of us are necessarily the same in our ability or our disability.  To strive for social and systems changes that serve that idealized image will fall short of meeting the needs of the total population of people who are blind.  That is why when the ACB advocates for change, they consider the wide range of functioning, skills, characteristics and situations people who are blind actually possess and experience.  Diversity in our population is real and vibrant.  Lasting meaningful change is contingent on dealing with the facts of our diversity.


Next, I would like you to think about the issue of appropriate blindness skills.  The NFB holds total blindness skills to be sacrosanct and the only skills that should be taught and learned by people who are blind regardless of their vision or functioning.  Thus, training for people with some eyesight is done with sleep shades and blindfolds.


Yet, we know about 80% of our population is legally blind with some remaining eyesight.  Should we ignore that eyesight and not use it?  To me, that’s like saying that a paraplegic must learn quadriplegic skills as the only appropriate paralysis skills.  People just don’t operate like that.  We do what we have to do with what we have to do it with.  We do what works whether it is total blindness skills or some other method.  There is no “one right way” to be blind.


Now, let’s talk about organizational structure and leadership.  The ACB is very much a bottom up organization and the administrative staff is engaged in carrying out the will of the membership.  We have established term limits for our officers and have had 11 presidents since our formation in 1961.  It is said that democracy is very messy.  And it is.  It takes time to reach agreement on issues and, sometimes, we don’t reach agreement.  Yet, when we do, I can’t help but believe that our advice when implemented will do the most good for the most people.  The NFB has had primarily three leaders since they formed in 1940.  This produces a top down organization.  Stable entrenched leadership endows an organization with stability.  A stable organization can achieve consistent results.  Without challenges to inflexible thinking, it may also slip into dogma and stagnation.


It is our openness to new ideas and our willingness to challenge the status quo that make ACB, and us in the AzCB affiliate, a dynamic organization.  We are willing to entertain views from all perspectives, whether blind, or low vision, or fully sighted for that matter.  Once we decide to limit who can participate, we have potentially deprived ourselves of new opportunities for personal, professional and social growth.




October is the start of the AzCB membership drive.  The AzCB is guided by core beliefs and values that I hold in high regard.  I’m going to renew my membership with the Arizona Council of the Blind and I invite you to do the same.


If you have not renewed your membership in the Arizona Council of the Blind, right now would be a good time to follow through and get it done. You can go on line at and click "Become a Member of the Arizona Council of the Blind or Renew Your Membership". It's quick and it's easy.



Two Blind To Ride


Since meeting on their jobs at Intel in Chandler, Christi Bruchok and Taura Chaw have had amazing adventures all over the world.


This story is about their longest, most ambitious adventure, which they dubbed "Two Blind to Ride!" After traveling across the United States on their tandem bicycle, (Chaw had the front position because he could see more clearly and Bruchok never had steered a bike) these two legally blind people decided to ride from the southern tip of South America to Alaska.  They would travel roughly 16,000 miles through 15 countries to raise awareness about the abilities of the sight-impaired and to inspire other people with disabilities to follow their dreams.


As Bruchok explained on one of the many terrific videos they posted on their website throughout the journey, "Our mission is to get out there and spread the word that even if you have a disability, there are many many things that you can do, and you don't have to give up on your dreams."

They delivered that powerful message as they traveled slowly through the Americas on their tandem bike and told their story to people they met. But they went further than that, speaking at schools for the blind, visiting service clubs and organizations for people with disabilities, and telling their story to TV crews and newspaper reporters.


You can visit their website,, for great information about their preparations, their visual impairments and all their travels. They also have a Facebook page.  They set the website up in December 2010 from their apartment in Busan, South Korea, where Bruchok was teaching English. They announced a partnership with the nonprofit group Research to Prevent Blindness in February 2011, and made their first introductory video in March.


Their Nov. 19, 2011 journal entry shows the bike parts and provisions spread out on their front lawn in Arizona. Assembled, the bike and trailer stretched 11 feet 6 inches and weighed a daunting 145 pounds. Their journal entries in July of 2013 chronicle their Alaskan arrival and travels.


Christi Bruchok and Taura Chaw are planning on being here and speaking with us about their adventures at the 17th annual VRATE.  VRATE will be held at the newly remodeled Phoenix Convention Center south hall at 33 S. 3rd Street, which is extremely public transportation accessible.


Attendance is FREE

Friday, December 13th 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.

Phoenix Convention Center – South

33 South Third St Phoenix, AZ 85004


The Arizona Council of the Blind is a proud sponsor of this year’s VRATE. Stop by our table and say Hell-o.

NEWS FROM SAZCB by Sharon Booker


In July, over a great meal at The Hungry Fox, our chapter agreed that for the future we would hold ten "fun" meetings and two "business-advocacy” meetings each year. The two business meetings will be held in October and then March of the following year.


We are continuing our book club but it will be carried out by phone conference (1-218-548-3992, pin 6320547-pound sign) the second Wednesday evening of each month at 6:00 PM. A list of up-coming books can be found at the SAZCB web site.


In August we spent a delightful afternoon at The Hub, a restaurant/bar/ice cream bar in downtown Tucson. We had new faces as well as old regulars and are in hopes they will want to join our group permanently.


On September 6th, the group is going bowling. We have a bowling alley that has been very accommodating, supplying both left and right-hand rails and the games, with shoes, are only $2.


In October, we will have our business meeting, select the next slate of officers and, hopefully, gain new members.


BARD: Braille and Audio Reading Download

by Dan Martinez


Most, if not all, of our members are familiar with the National Library Service (NLS) Talking Book Program. It is a free library service to persons who are unable to use standard printed material because of visual or physical disabilities. Library patrons can expect to borrow audio or braille books such as they might find in print at a local public library. Books and magazines in audio format (talking books) and braille are delivered and returned by postage-free mail.


Specially designed digital audio players are also loaned free to persons who borrow talking books from these libraries.  The digital player gives patrons additional fast-track options that were not available prior to the digital transition.


Digital talking books and magazines are now available for immediate download from the Internet through the Braille and Audio Reading Download (BARD) service and electronic braille books, magazines, and music scores and materials are also available for downloading from the online Web-Braille service.  So, you can get books without waiting for the mailman.


A downloaded audio book cannot be played on your computer. You will need a storage device like a flash drive or thumb drive that you can plug into your digital player.  The American Printing House for the Blind (APH), Adaptive Technology, a division of Perkins Products of the Perkins School for the Blind, Howell Mobility Products and other vendors sell blank cartridges which are configured exactly like the talking book cartridge you get from your NLS library.  I have one and it works great and I use it all the time.  You will need a USB cables to attach the blank cartridge to your computer and they are usually available from the cartridge seller.


When you are signed up for BARD and have your storage device and cable, you’re ready to start downloading audio books at your convenience.


To qualify for BARD, you must first have active TBBL library service, be in good standing, have an e-mail address, and a high-speed Internet connection.  If you are not currently a BARD user or library patron, you can contact the Arizona Braille and Talking Book Library at 602-255-5578 to apply for services.

,Arizona Council of the Blind, Inc. 
3124 E. Roosevelt St. Ste. 4
Phoenix, AZ 85008-5088