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Newsletter of the Arizona Council of the Blind
President's Message from Carlos Paraskevas
I attended The 53rd Annual ACB National Convention at the Riviera Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. My brother and I arrived on Sunday July 13th just in time for the opening session. I was told that it was a loose and care free time, and I wasn't disappointed.
The opening general session featured ACB president Kim Charlson's report, ACB life membership presentations, a tribute to Brenda Dillon performed by Dan Dillon, introduction of the DKM First-Timers, the first credentials report, and the roll call of affiliates.
The general sessions were from Monday July 14 through Friday July 18. There were presentations on accessible currency, talking prescription readers, audio description, cellular technology, and much more. I also attended the Four Corners Caucus (with members from the Colorado, Idaho, and New Mexico affiliates), a presentation on fundraising and the affiliate presidents meeting. It was a lot of great information to process.
The event culminated with the ACB Banquet Friday night. We
were treated to a presentation by David Lepofsky who
spoke about his advocacy efforts on behalf of people with disabilities.
David is totally blind. For over three decades, he has been a lawyer, community organizer and advocate for accessibility rights of people with disabilities in Toronto Canada.
There is just too much information to try to summarize in this article. If you are interested in hearing what happened at this year’s convention, you can go to http://acbradio.org/acbconvention2014nd download the general sessions along with several workshops and the banquet presentation.
A personal convention highlight for me was hearing a presentation from NLS Talking Book narrator Gabriella Cavallero. It was moving to listen to how Gabriella realized she wanted to be a narrator of stories since she was a little girl growing up in New York. She described the process and challenges of reading the books that many of us have been absorbing for so long. I could have listened to her talk for hours. Well, I guess I already have thanks to her body of work. I have an even larger appreciation of all the Talking Book readers for all that they go through to enrich our lives.
Besides the sessions, I also participated in the “Thrill Seekers Tour” with other like-minded attendees. We subjected ourselves to ride Insanity and Big Shot at the Stratosphere and the Big Apple Coaster at New York-New York. My brother and I weren’t thrilled enough, so we went across the street to ride El Loco at Circus Circus … twice! You can go to vegas.com and click on attractions and thrill rides if you want to get the details of what we were willing to do to be “thrilled.”
This year, AZCB donated four $25 cash gifts that were handed out during the general sessions. Everybody got very excited at the prospect of winning cash with so many ways to gamble it into more cash. Alas, I didn't win a cent. Oh well, the experience was well worth it.
Closer to home, I attended our Guide Dog Users of Arizona (GDUA) Diving with Dog Guides event on August 2nd. It was lots of fun watching all the dogs and kids keep cool while enjoying one of the best burgers I’ve ever had. I would like to thank Dan and Jacque Olsen for being such wonderful hosts and all the GDUA members who attended for the great conversation and laughs.
I also had the opportunity to hear Lindsey McHugh give her Senior Vocal Recital on August 24. An article on her performance is included in this newsletter. I was deeply moved by her performance. Hearing her sing a couple Tom Lehrer tunes towards the end was a treat. I hope that Lindsey will be performing again soon.
At our board meeting on September 13, I announced that Karen Hughes is our new AzCB Board Secretary. Karen is very excited to contribute to the Board and AzCB as a whole. I am looking forward to working with her to strengthen our affiliate. Please join me in congratulating Karen!
The next few months will keep me busy as well. I will be attending the White Cane Safety Day event at the Phoenix VA on October 16, the Phoenix disability awareness recognition event on October 20th, VRATE on November 7 and GDUA’s Fall Conference on November 8. I am looking forward to meeting more of our members and bringing in some new ones.
Correction: In the
Summer 2014 issue, I did not mention that Sharon Booker was elected to a second
term as 2nd Vice-President. Please join me in congratulating Sharon
on her accomplishment!
Harnessing Momentum and Moving Forward
by Ron Brooks – GDUA President
With membership on the rise and some very successful events behind us, 2014 has already been a great year for Guide Dog Users of Arizona. However, the best is yet to come, and we want you to be a part of a revitalized and growing GDUA.
2014 Fall Membership Meeting and Conference
Each year, GDUA invites members and friends to join us for a day-long meeting focused on guide dog issues and information and wherein we conduct our annual elections and other business. This year, we have scheduled our Fall Membership Meeting and Conference for 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM on Saturday, November 8 (the day after VRATE), and are inviting anyone who has a guide dog, who is thinking about getting a guide dog, or who cares about guide dog issues to attend. Details and an accessible on-line registration form are on our website, http://www.gduaz.org. Here are a few highlights.
• This year’s theme is “Harnessing Momentum and Moving Forward”. It reflects our excitement about the progress we have made during 2014 and focusses on how we can continue to build on this momentum in order to improve our organization and ourselves as guide dog handlers.
• We will be hearing from representatives of several guide dog training schools from across the country. This means you can learn more about each school, and if you’re thinking about getting a dog for the first time or changing schools, you can get some good and timely information about each school’s programs and any recent changes.
• We will have a guide dog trainer who will share some of the advantages and challenges of different types of food-based training approaches. The trainer will also provide answers to other guide dog training or behavioral questions.
• A local veterinarian will provide an update on the evolution of diagnostic and treatment options for food and skin allergies.
• We will learn about several opportunities that guide dog users and other active blind and visually impaired area residents have for living a fit and active lifestyle.
• We have invited an expert on federal and Arizona guide dog access and anti-discrimination laws to discuss the steps you can take in the event that you and your guide dog face illegal discrimination from individuals, businesses or governmental agencies.
• We will conduct all required organizational business, including elections for next year’s officers, and we will discuss future plans for the affiliate.
When – Saturday, November 8, 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM
Where – Arizona Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired (ACBVI), 3100 E. Roosevelt St. Phoenix, AZ 85008
Cost - $20 if you register before November 1 or $30 at the door – The cost includes your conference registration, breakfast, lunch and light refreshments.
Register – Visit http://www.gduaz.org/register.php.
Thank You by Bob Urbon
What a privilege it was to be selected as the recipient of the Frank Kells Memorial Scholarship by the Arizona Council of the Blind. I have no doubt there were many well deserving candidates. I hope that I can demonstrate my gratitude for this generous gift with successful and honorable endeavors.
I was given the opportunity to attend the Arizona Council of the Blind annual conference which was held in Phoenix this year and was inspired by the caliber of my fellow attendees. Most of my connections are through the Southern Arizona Association for the Visually Impaired (SAAVI) but it was great to meet and get to know so many others at the conference. Speaking of SAAVI, I’d like to thank all of those whom are a part of that organization, especially in Phoenix, for being a part of my success. I would include names but for fear of leaving someone out. You know who you are, and thank you.
I was asked to introduce myself and share a little bit about who I am; I guess it is about time to start! My name is Bob Urbon and I am living in Flagstaff, Arizona with my wife and soon-to-arrive baby. I am currently studying Economics and Finance at Northern Arizona University. This sounds pretty boring to a lot of people, I know, but I promise it’s not! Economics for me is learning about the human condition. All of us are seeking to live the best life possible or in other words, to maximize our utility. Understanding basic economic and financial principles can help each of us do just that. This leads me to one of the things I am most passionate about in life—promoting economic and financial literacy to one and all. I am currently an officer in the local chapter of Omicron-Delta-Epsilon at NAU, which is a fraternity for economics. Together, with the Arizona Council of Economic Education, we are working to make a difference in the lives of those around us.
If I could share just one thing from what I’ve learned so far at NAU, it would be the thing I have to keep reminding myself of. It is what is referred to as opportunity cost. Opportunity cost is the principle that every choice we make has a cost. I don’t know about you, but for me life can be tough. Sometimes I don’t want to cook; more often I don’t want to clean up what I cooked. Sometimes I don’t particularly want to study, often times I am tempted to choose an activity that is more fun. These are the times I remind myself about opportunity costs. For example, what is the cost of not cleaning up? Well, that’s easy, a dirty kitchen—gross. What is the cost of going out and having a good time? That’s easy too, lost study time can lead to a bad grade and a night out can easily lead to a high balance on my credit card. Personally, I try to ask myself about the costs associated with my choices as much as possible, and while sometimes I still slip up and order a #10 at Carl’s Jr. (The Guacamole Bacon Burger combo), I find that often times I make the right choice.
I’d like to again thank The Arizona Council of
the Blind for selecting me as the recipient of the Frank Kells Memorial Scholarship.
It is a huge help to me and my family, especially regarding my educational
goals. I commit to do my very best to show my gratitude for this gift through
action, and to see to it that these funds were not offered in vain. I can’t
wait for next year’s conference!
2014 ACB Conference and Convention
The ACB Auction, a peek behind the scenes…
by Penny Crane (abbreviated from the Fall Braille Forum)
From July 12th to July 19th, I attended the American Council of the Blind Conference and Convention in Las Vegas, hosted by the State of Nevada. All I can say is, what a great week of fun, food, entertainment, information, inspiration and socializing.
As usual, one of the big events was the Wednesday Night ACB Auction. Being on the Auction Committee, I can give you a little peek behind the scenes. First off, planning began almost a year ahead. This was mainly accomplished through once-a-month phone conferences. Our committee of eight was headed by our wonderful Coordinator, Leslie Spoone. There was much discussion about the number of items and the length of the auction. There was detailed planning on auction procedures and for lining up the necessary personnel, the “Describers,” runners, spotters, door greeters and auctioneers needed for the event.
Some of our items were donated by our State Affiliates, who were contacted in May or June. Many items came from ACB members, friends and families.
On the “Big Day,” many hours were spent unpacking, sorting and numbering each item. Descriptions, written up earlier, were matched to each item. All this information was also compiled in Braille and large-print, and put out on large tables for attendee viewing.
Everyone who attended the Convention got a numbered ID card. If they attended the auction, that card number was identified as their ‘bidding tag’ number.
A few “bidding wars” popped up during the auction. The excitement and noise level really picked up during back and forth bidding on a black onyx bracelet – which eventually went for $1,000! There was also excitement about a 4-day Key West vacation package. After wild bidding, it sold for $1,200! Of course, not everything was that expensive. A cute “Pom-Pom Kitty” went for $35.00. Our very capable auctioneers could have given a North Carolina Tobacco Auctioneer a run for his money.
Gone to the Dogs
Those of us who have joined Guide Dog Users of Arizona (GDUA) have gone to the dogs; now it’s your turn. If you have a guide dog, if you are thinking about getting a guide dog, or if you care about guide dog issues, we want you to join us.
Joining GDUA is simple, and if you join between now and the end of the year, your membership rights will begin immediately and run through the balance of Calendar Year 2015.
GDUA benefits include:
• Full membership in GDUA
• Full membership in GDUA’s parent organizations, Guide Dog Users, Inc. and the Arizona and American Council of the Blind (AzCB, ACB)
• Access to all hard copy and on-line publications of the GDUA, GDUI, AzCB and ACB
• Access to GDUA’s on-line announcement and chat email lists
• Automatic invitations to a number of social and informational GDUA events throughout the year.
To register as a member of GDUA or to get more information, visit http://www.gduaz.org/member.php.
GDUA is excited about our future, and we hope you will be a part of it. Check us out on-line at http://www.gduaz.org. If you need more information, you can also send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or you can reach out by phone at 602.616.1171.
People and Power by Dan Martinez
As people who are blind in the times that we live, we can often forget history. We may believe that the rights and responsibilities we enjoy and exercise are ours by divine declaration or constitutional authorization. While that is a truth, it is not a fact. In fact, it was people like you and I struggling against barriers created by societal norms that allow us the freedoms and inclusions we have today. While beliefs and laws are the bulwark of freedom for the blind, it did not happen without fail or without effort. It required people standing up and speaking up to have laws, regulations, policies and practices amended to be equitable for people.
Through most of human history, people who were blind were abandoned by society as helpless and unable to contribute to the welfare of the group. The 1880s saw the introduction of compulsory elementary education for the Blind throughout the United States. However, most states did not pass laws specifically making elementary education compulsory for the blind until after 1900.
I mention education because it was through the schools for the blind that we began to see organized blindness advocacy.
In 1871, the American Association of Instructors of the Blind (AAIB) was formed by professionals from the residential schools for the blind. Later, (1905) the American Association of Workers for the Blind (AAWB), organized by professionals from the industries for the blind was established. By 1921, these two organizations jointly helped create the American Foundation for the Blind (AFB).
AFB was formed to provide a national clearing house for information about vision loss and a forum for discussion for blindness service professionals. Made official at the convention of the American Association of Workers for the Blind in Vinton, Iowa, AFB's founding was also intended to spur research and represent the needs of people with vision loss to America's government.
AFB's early accomplishments included taking the lead to standardize the English braille code and establishing the first professional publications program for teachers and administrators of programs for people with vision loss. In 1926, AFB’s Directory of Services for Blind and Visually Impaired Persons was first published. In 1933, AFB engineers developed the first long-playing record and player, and set up studios for the recording of talking books. AFB played a major role in persuading the federal government to include talking books in the National Library System for blind people operated by the Library of Congress.
AFB was the most dominant advocacy group speaking for people who were blind. Additionally, people who were blind began banding together to speak for themselves.
Initially, the groups were local. They began creating state organizations to advocate on behalf of people who are blind. In 1940, sixteen people met in Pennsylvania to develop a constitution that would unite organizations of blind people in seven states (California, Illinois, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin) in a National Federation of the Blind that would serve as a vehicle for collective action to improve the prospects of the nation's blind citizens.
The American Council of the Blind was created from a rift within the National Federation of the Blind over leadership practices and representative processes, which came to a head during the 1961 NFB Convention, held in Kansas City, Missouri. There was a walkout of members that left the convention hotel and crossed over to another hotel, where they took part in sessions to create a new organization.
Beliefs and laws are the foundation of our freedoms. However, it did not and does not happen automatically. We must continue to speak out and eliminate barriers that would subjugate us to second class citizenship. While a majority of us who are blind live below the poverty level; with seventy percent of us not employed; given that students who are blind experience a poor basic education with a high dropout rate; and access to many forms of information is still a struggle, we must not become mollified and complacent.
Take time now to join or renew your membership in the Arizona Council of the Blind. As you can see from our history, we must be involved, organized and united in influencing societal change. Your membership is vital.
You are the voice of self-determination and your AzCB membership turns up the volume. We are not done. There is power in our unity. Fill out and return the enclosed form, go to www.azcb.org or call (602) 273-1510 and join or renew your membership.
ADA Celebration Luncheon! By Barbara McDonald
The 24th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, known as ADA, was celebrated on July 25, 2014 at the Disability Empowerment Center. The Arizona Disability Advocacy Coalition, AZDAC, which has several disability groups as members, sponsored the event.
Out of the 120 attendees, there were five members of the Maricopa Club of the Blind attending.
The celebration started with an introduction from David Carey and Amina Donna Kruck from Arizona Bridge to Independent Living (ABIL).
A two part video was shown. Not only did the DVD have Closed Captioned for the Hearing Impaired, but also provided a narrated description for those that couldn’t see the video display. The title was "The Great Fight for Disability Rights"
Before the boxed lunches were served, presenters spoke about attending public meetings to ask questions on disability issues and to express your opinion. The importance of voting was also emphasized.
After lunch, we were entertained by the Improbable Theatre Company. Improbable Theatre Company (ITC) sang and danced to several rousing and uplifting songs. ITC is a troupe of ABIL sponsored artists dedicated to the personal, social, and political voices of people with disabilities.
The keynote speaker was Stefanie Mauk a Democrat Representative from Tucson. Representative Mauk talked about an automobile accident that happened when she was a teen that caused life altering changes to her body. Even with those injuries, she was able to go to college and pursue a career. She is responsible for writing the successful bill that will change words such as handicapped or disabled to "person with disabilities" on state laws, rules, regulations, and signage.
Before the celebration ended, ABIL presented seven Liberty Awards. Rep. Mauk was one of the recipients.
In 2015, several states, including Arizona, will be having celebrations for the 25th Anniversary of the ADA. We will keep you informed.
Outing for the Maricopa Club of the Blind
What is a refreshing thing to do on a hot August day? The members of the Maricopa Club decided to go to MacAlpine's Soda Fountain, which is located at 2303 North 7th Street.
This restaurant is in a
historical part of Phoenix. It was first opened in 1929. It has an antique
store attached to the restaurant. Items from the 1950's and the 1960's are
displayed on shelves.
MacAlpine's creates a classic atmosphere with an antique store that sells collectibles to furniture from the 1940s to the 1970s. The vintage clothing shop does the same with men's and women's apparel from sharp looking suits to glamorous dresses and hats.
The Maricopa Club of the Blind meets on the second Wednesday of the month at the Arizona Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired located at 3100 East Roosevelt Street in Phoenix. For more information, call Judy Young at 602-272-6969 or Barbara McDonald at 602-285-0269 in the evenings.
What's happening in the Southern Arizona Chapter?
The Southern Arizona Chapter is looking to "fill any gaps" that still remain in the education, rehabilitation, and overall quality of life for the blind and visually impaired. Currently, there are two major projects being undertaken--college scholarships and a unique project for sighted business employees to learn more about helping the blind.
In the spring of 2014, an AZCB Scholarship winner gave a fantastic benefit concert in order to give back to the chapter. The proceeds of this concert will be used to give away five 100-dollar scholarships to worthy candidates who possess the drive and determinations to pursue an education and unique personal characteristics and experiences that will help our chapter grow and thrive.
these funds are not sufficient for tuition, they can be used towards supplies,
transportation, books, or anything else school-related that is not provided or
funded by Vocational Rehabilitation. Those interested may apply at
If chosen for a scholarship, applicants will have the option of receiving a free one-year membership to SAZCB. Applicants must meet the following criteria:
· Must reside or plan to attend school in Pima, Cochise, Graham, or Pinal Counties.
· Must be a high school senior or a college student with the intention of seeking at least an associate's degree. It is not necessary to be a full-time student (carrying 12 or more credits per semester.)
· Minimum cumulative GPA of 2.5 (C average in all classes.)
· Must have a visual impairment with documentation from a certified medical professional or case worker.
· Up to 300-word personal statement saying what your academic and professional goals are. We would also like to know, but not require, what strengths you would be willing to bring to our chapter.
· Applications must be submitted by no later than 11:59 PM on Friday, November 12, 2014 for money to be used in the spring semester or later.
Another way in
which the chapter is filling the gaps is through a very special project
directed by volunteer and blindness advocate Norene Spar. One of Norene's main
goals is to educate the sighted staff of the businesses most frequently visited
by the blind, such as hotels, restaurants, and grocery stores, in how best to
assist their totally blind clientele.
While there are many blind people with plenty of skills and confidence to utilize any public service, there are still those who are not as confident and cannot venture out without a trusted sighted companion. Knowing that the staff is trained to assist them will not only be of great value to them, but will also help the staff to learn that blind people are just as functional and valuable as sighted people, but just need a little more help. Norene, along with a committee of three chapter members appointed by her, will start by producing a brochure, and later a DVD, which she hopes will become a standard part of a sighted employee's training in order to work for these businesses.
When you are looking for good information and resources on eyesight or combined eyesight and hearing disabilities, it’s hard to know where to find your best source. You may want to know about the latest medical research and treatments; have a chance to see the newest available tools and devices firsthand; find out about available services or ways to network with other people that share your issues. To obtain that information and to make those connections, the Vision Rehabilitation and Assistive Technology Expo (VRATE) is absolutely a must attend event.
VRATE will be held on November 7, 2014 at the Phoenix Convention Center South Complex 33 South Third St in Phoenix. The doors open at 9:00 a.m. and exhibitors and presentations will continue until 4:00 p.m. Admission is free.
There will be
presentations throughout the day on a wide array of subjects. There will be
sessions presented by eye doctors on eye care and eye research. Technology
experts and knowledgeable end users will demonstrate “what” and “how” on assistive
devices like smart phones, tablets and readers.
Whether you’re looking for employment related resources, tools and techniques for living more independently or recreational activities and networking opportunities, you will find what you need at VRATE.
Register for VRATE at www.eventbrite.com and you will have an opportunity to win $100 in a random drawing
50th Anniversary of White Cane Safety Day
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.
The Phoenix VA Visual Impairment Service Team will be hosting their White Cane Day Event on Thursday, October 16, 2014, from 8:00 to 11:00 AM. Admission is free.
The White Cane Day Event will take place at the Phoenix VA Medical Center, ACC Basement Conference Rooms, at 650 E. Indian School Road, Phoenix, AZ 85012. Members of AzCB’s PR Committee will be there to share information about our organization.
Lindsey McHugh’s Vocal Recital By Carlos Paraskevas
Soprano Lindsey McHugh gave her Senior Vocal Recital on Sunday, August 24 at Grace St. Paul Episcopal Church in Tucson. The recital was presented as a requirement towards her Bachelor of Music Education Degree from the University of Arizona, College of Fine Arts School of Music.
With Leeza Beriyeva playing piano, Lindsey sang in a total of four languages--English, French, German and Italian.
She sang selections by several classical composers. They included pieces by Bach, Handel, Strauss, Tosti, Donaudy, Arditi, and Charpentier. She then played piano and sang "In Old Mexico" and "Lobachevsky" by satirist/mathematician Tom Lehrer. During "Lobachevsky," her instructor, Prof. Grayson Hirst, provided the voiceover in a Russian accent while Lindsey played and sang the refrains and the middle section.
For the encore, Lindsey played piano as she and Prof. Hirst sang “I’ll See You Again” from Noél Coward’s operetta Bitter Sweet. Lindsey felt this song was fitting because in the operetta the song is performed by a vocal instructor and his student. “We just thought it would be awesome assuming that both of us didn’t break down,” Lindsey said. Lindsey plans to continue to work with Prof. Hirst in the future. “He’s not only an excellent teacher, he will always be a good friend.”
She is currently working on raising money to go on Sons of Orpheus's next singing tour in and around Paris in 2016. She is coordinating the fundraising efforts for herself and the other soloists who plan to go.
Miss McHugh is a very active member of the Southern Arizona Chapter of the Arizona Council of the Blind. She plans meetings, organizes recreational outings, and is always eager to volunteer. She presently co-chairs the SAZCB’s scholarship and college mentoring committee.