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Newsletter of the Arizona Council of the Blind








Fall                                                                      2015


From the President’s Desk by Carlos Paraskevas


The ACB National Convention was held in Dallas Texas in July.  Our state affiliate made quite an impact.  First of all, two of our board members were elected to the ACB Board.  John McCann is now the 2nd Vice-President and Jeff Bishop is a Director.  I whole-heartedly congratulate John and Jeff on their success.


Secondly, the AZCB provided the initial funding for the ACB iPhone App.  Jeff Bishop did a lot of the groundwork in its development.  When the app is released later this year, ACB will be at the fingertips of all iPhone users.


Locally, I attended the Guide Dog Users of Arizona’s (GDUA) annual Diving with Dogs event in August at Dan and Jacque Olsen’s home.  My wife Robin and I had a wonderful time.  Abby and Lexi, Liz Whitlock’s daughters, were outstanding servers and helpers. As usual, the Olsens were great hosts.  Before we left, I got to hold their son’s bearded dragon.  That was a truly unique experience.


I also attended the September meeting of the Maricopa Club.  It was the first time I attended one of their meetings.  All the members made me feel right at home.  I was moved by their passion to get the word out about their chapter and AZCB in general.

After the meeting, we had a lively discussion about books we’ve read and enjoyed.  I strongly encouraged them to join in on the Southern Arizona’s monthly book club.  Come to think of it, you should too.


All of our chapters have activities planned before 2015 comes to a close.  I hope that you will be able to attend at least one of these events and show your support for all the work they do.


I’d like you to take a moment to consider what you can contribute to AZCB.  Maybe you’re good at planning events, or getting the word out through social media, or raising money for a worthy cause.  Whatever your strength or talent, I know that you can contribute to AZCB and make it even better for Arizonans who are blind.  Please send me an email or leave me a message and tell me what you can do.  I’m sure we have a chapter or committee that would benefit from your participation.


You can call (602) 273-1510 or email  I look forward to hearing from you and/or talking to you at a future event.


Maricopa Club Update By Barbara McDonald


Due to the hot weather and vacations, the Maricopa Club members decided not to have meetings in July and August.


We had a meeting on September 9th at the Arizona Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired.  Carlos Paraskevas, President of the Arizona Council of the Blind, was a guest.  We discussed being “buddies” to new students at ACBVI,  making appointments with volunteers to help members with reading, transportation updates, and our plans for October.


Our plans for October will start with a social at Claim Jumper Restaurant at Arizona Mills in Tempe.  This will be on Monday, October 5, 2015 from 1:00 to 3:00 pm.  We chose the restaurant at Arizona Mills because Phoenix Dial-a-Ride and East Valley Dial-a-Ride both go there without transferring.  Our next business meeting will be on Wednesday, October 14, 2015 at ACBVI from 1:30 to 3:00.


More detailed information will be posted on the AZCB Chat List and on the website at  You may also call Judy Young in the evening at 602-272-6969, or Barbara McDonald at 602-285-0269 for more information.  You don't have to be a member to attend.  We’d love you to join us.


Arizona Brings National Organization new Technology


This year, a number of us traveled to Texas for the National ACB conference and convention. For many years, the national organization wanted to develop an iPhone application to help drive innovation, communication and advocacy efforts throughout the entire organization.


This year, Jeff Bishop, who serves on ACB's Information Access Committee and leads the ACB Radio Management team, did lots of research on new possibilities for the development of the application. A proposal was presented to the ACB Radio Management team followed by a presentation to the Arizona Council Board of Directors. It was agreed that Arizona would fund the initial seed money to develop the application. Jeff Bishop presented the plan to the national board at the pre-convention board meeting. Everyone was extremely excited about the new iPhone app. ACB President Kim Charlson announced the new application to the entire convention on the opening night.


Now that you have some history on the beginnings of the application, let's describe what version 1.0 of the application will provide. The name we decided upon is ACB Link. The initial application to be released this Fall has the following features:


* An audio tutorial is presented to the user on initial launch of the application to guide the user through the use of the application.

* The Home tab is the place you will find information about ACB and highlighted areas of the application. This will be a very dynamic tab and new information will be presented here throughout the year so it is best to keep checking in on this tab.

* The Affiliates tab allows you to review all State and Special Interest affiliates within the organization. If you open the State Affiliates portion of the app, you can search for the closest affiliate to your current location. This will allow newcomers to ACB to contact their closest affiliate.

* The Radio tab allows you to stream all of ACB's streams that are a part of ACB Radio. In addition, all podcasts that are available on the ACB Radio site can be streamed from within the application. You will see more innovation in this tab in future versions, which also really goes for all portions of the app.

* The About Us tab allows you to get basic information on ACB and also provides for a Settings area for options that may exist inside of the application.


That is version 1.0. It is the jumping off point for ACB Link and we have lots of plans for future versions of the application. Arizona should feel proud that we drove innovation into the national organization!


With two members on the national board and many others on national committees, Arizona’s star is shining bright in the entire organization of ACB. Keep it up AZCB!

Questions and Answers


Are you or is someone you know experiencing vision loss or a combined vision and hearing loss?  Are you looking for information, help or support with your or a family member’s vision or combined vision and hearing issues?


If so, mark your calendar for December 11, 2015 from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm, for the 20th Annual Vision Rehabilitation and Assistive Technology Expo (VRATE) at the Phoenix Convention Center in the South Building located at 33 South 3rd Street.  At this "FREE" event, there will be speakers and exhibitors presenting information and products that will be of great interest to you. 


There will be presentations from retinal specialists where you will learn about the newest eye care treatments and ongoing research. Blindness consumer and provider organizations will be there sharing information on the services and supports they provide. There will be presentations on website accessibility, assistive technology and the Business Enterprise Program.  The captivating Jessica Loomer will present her popular “Blind Girls Can Rock Heels” talk on dating and relationships. The movie "Going Blind", with closed captioning and audio description, will be available for viewing throughout the day. You will gain knowledge about the Talking Book program and hear about web based radio stations with broadcast content specifically intended for people with eyesight disabilities. There will also be opportunities for you to get a personal hands-on look at the newest assistive technology products.


You have a lot of questions about vision loss or combined vision and hearing loss and the services, tools and methods that support independence and maximize functioning. The answers can be found at VRATE.


For the most current information, go to

Phoenix Chapter Update


The Phoenix Chapter is planning a meeting on Saturday, October 24, 2015 at the Southern Arizona Association for the Visually Impaired.  SAAVI is located at 4220 E. Thomas Rd. Suite 130 in Phoenix.  East Valley Dial-a-Ride riders do not have to transfer to get to this location.  The meeting is scheduled from 11:00 am to 1:00 pm.


The purpose of this meeting is to plan new goals and amend the Phoenix Chapter constitution.    We can bring our own lunch and beverage to enjoy while we are working.  If you have never been to SAAVI, a short tour of the facilities will be conducted.  Remember, you don't have to be a member of the Phoenix Chapter to attend.  Come and meet other people who are low vision or blind.


For further information, please call Barbara McDonald at 602-285-0269.


SAZCB Update by Mitzi Tharin


The Southern Arizona chapter has a book club and we meet on the second Wednesday of each month at 5:30 PM on a conference call.  We also have a distribution list online to share comments about each month’s book. All our book choices come from people suggesting titles they've really liked and then a majority vote moves it in to the schedule. Right now, we have three novels scheduled: Joyland by Stephen King on October 14, Foggy Mountain Breakdown and Other Stories by Sharyn McCrumb on November 11, and Nine Lives to Die: A Mrs. Murphy Mystery by Rita Mae Brown on December 9.


We could use more people in our book club. We would like ten more people to join us.  We invite you to try it. You will have fun poring over books that you may not have read otherwise.

If you didn't like the book, or have a favorite character, or think something didn't make sense, say so; you might not be alone. We talk about what we liked and about what we disliked.


On November 4th, the SAZCB club will have a call-in meeting to go over everything that we will be doing for the year 2016, from fun events to raising money for our chapter. Our annual Xmas party will be on Saturday, December 12th from 5:00 to 9:00 PM at Mitzi and Jesse's home. Bring food or drink to share. We always have a lot of fun at this party. All are invited, whether you are a member or not. Even Santa can come; maybe he will, maybe not. We'll have to see.


We're going to have a really good year and we want you to be a part of it.  For more information, please visit


VisionWalk 2016


The Arizona Council of the Blind is proud to once again be a community sponsor of the Foundation Fighting Blindness VisionWalk. Arizona VisionWalk will take place on Saturday, February 27th 2016 and will be held at Steele Indian School Park in Phoenix


We are seeing substantial advancements in Foundation-funded research, which is developing highly promising genetic, pharmaceutical, cell-based, and nutritional therapies.


Advancement is driven by dollars. Those dollars come from our efforts and the efforts of many others. Together we are truly making it possible to end retinal blindness.


You can join at

GDUA 2015 Annual Conference by Liz Whitlock


The 2015 GDUA Annual Conference will be held on November 7 from 9AM to 3PM, with registration beginning at 8:30.  It will be held at the Arizona Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired located at 3100 East Roosevelt Street in Phoenix. 


Please save the date and help spread the word about this event.


The GDUA board has worked hard to gather together an incredible line up of guest speakers for this year’s conference.  You do not want to miss it. 


The registration fee of $20 ($30 at the door) gives you access to the conference, a continental breakfast, and lunch.


Please visit to view the agenda and register for the conference.  A single form is also available to register for the conference and sign up for 2016 membership to GDUA. 


Conference attendees who also sign up for 2016 membership will be entered in an EXCLUSIVE DOOR PRIZE DRAWING. 


We look forward to seeing all of you on November 7th.


For More Information About AZCB


Please visit or call (602) 273-1510.