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Newsletter of the Arizona Council of the Blind Spring 2014

President's Message:

An Invitation from Barbara McDonald


If you are reading this, it probably means that you are a member of the American Council of the Blind (ACB) and the Arizona Council of the Blind (AzCB).  Belonging to an organization as a member means that you have the right to participate in that organization’s activities.


As a fellow member, I am sending you two invitations to organizational events.


The first one is AzCB's 43rd Annual Membership Convention.  This is the state activity for AzCB Members.  It will take place on Friday, May 9, 2014 at the Disability Empowerment Center (DEC) in the Nina Pullium conference room on the first floor.  DEC is where the Arizona Bridge for Independent Living (ABIL), the State Independent Living Council (SILC), and other disability organizations have their offices.


The AzCB Annual Membership Convention will begin at 8:00 AM and end at 5:00 PM.  Breakfast and lunch will be provided to those enrolled to attend.  Informative and stimulating presentations on subjects of interest to people with eyesight disabilities and blindness professionals will take place in the morning.  During the mid-day activities, two AzCB scholarships will be awarded and we will hear from an exciting and entertaining guest speaker.  The AzCB business meeting will take place in the afternoon.

During the business meeting, you will have an opportunity to vote on resolutions, constitution and by-law changes and vote for AzCB officers and directors.  As a AzCB member, please exercise your rights and responsibilities by participating in this one day event of your organization.


The second event that I invite you to attend is the American Council of the Blind (ACB) 53rd Annual Membership Conference.  This is the national activity for ACB and AzCB members.  This year’s convention will be held at the Riviera Hotel in Las Vegas, NV.  It will officially begin on July 10 and end on July 19, 2014.  This is like our state convention on a much larger scale.  There are six general sessions, ACB Meetings, social gatherings, special interest meetings, a variety of tours, and a large attendance of exhibitors.  At the general sessions, you will hear a wide range of speakers, vote on resolutions and constitution and by-law changes, and elect board members.  Additionally, the ACB board meets before and after the conference; 20 scholarships are awarded and a banquet is held on the last evening of the conference.  As a member, you can cast your secret ballot, ask questions, speak on issues and help guide the organization’s activities for the coming year.


More details about these two membership empowering events can be found in the newsletter, the AzCB Chat List, and the two websites: and


If you accept these two invitations, you will not only belong to an organization that advocates for people who are visually impaired or blind, you will be taking direct action to build a better world for people with eyesight disabilities.



By Robert L. Williams Sr.


President Mitch Pomerantz  shared the following comments before the opening General assembly session at the 49th annual conference and convention of the American Council of the Blind at the downtown Sheraton Phoenix hotel in July 2010:  “Access to

Information is a broad category and one which increasingly affects every aspect of our life.  It is also the area in which ACB has seemingly been the most active since our last Convention.  It is ironic that as more of us gain access to computers and the internet, we seem to encounter greater obstacles to accessing the wonderful medium of communications and education and just plain fun.  But we are making progress.  ACB is actively promoting audio description on television, in films and in live theater through our audio description project.  We are in the process of submitting a pair of grant applications to the Department of Education which, if successful, will greatly expand ACB’s role in advocating for and providing quality audio description to blind and visually impaired people.”


In February, my wife Faye and I viewed  the movie “12 Years a Slave” at the Harkins Arrowhead Fountains 18 Theater located in Peoria on 83rd avenue just south of Bell road.  I was curious to know just how far the quality of audio description in movies has advanced since 2010.  Even more so since a report and discussion on the ACB audio description project was included on the meeting agenda at the February ACB annual midwinter President’s and affiliate leaders conference in Arlington.


The Harkins Arrowhead theater advertises the following amenities on its phone Information line:  wall-to-wall screens, digital sound, stadium style love seats, gourmet snack bar and audio description.

Our ticket price was $7.00 each for a morning show.  I was informed by the ticket office attendant to pick up a wireless headset at guest services.  They were free and needed to be returned to guest services on the way out.  No identification was required.  Apparently I was the first blind person to show up at guest services that day as the attendant said she would check to make sure the description equipment was turned on and operating properly.  I was not told, that for best audio reception in the auditorium, I should sit in the middle section rather than on either side.  Not being advised and sitting to one side,  my headset picked up only static once the movie started and my beloved wife lost the first eight minutes or so of the  opening credits and dialogue making the long walk back to guest services to complain about the static problem.  That’s when an attendant came into the auditorium and informed us about where to sit for clear reception and to make certain everything was working properly.


The movie starring Brad Pitt and other less known actors is based on the true 19th century story of  Solomon Northup, an African-American free man kidnapped and held in slavery in the deep south from 1841 to 1853, before regaining his freedom.  It’s rated R for strong language and violence.  The audio description was excellent although it took me about ten or fifteen minutes into the picture to really get into the transition flow between the action and dialogue on the screen and the background description narration from my headset.  Thereafter, it was smooth sailing.  I don’t recall the name of the audio description narrator but he deserves one of ACB’s newly developed awards to narrators for best description at the upcoming annual conference and convention in Las Vegas.

Southern Arizona Chapter Benefit Concert


Come join soprano and AzCB Scholarship winner Lindsey McHugh and Sons of Orpheus--the Male Choir of Tucson--in a concert to benefit the Southern Arizona Chapter of the Arizona Council of the Blind. The concert will be held Saturday, April 26th at 2 PM at Grace St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Tucson, located at 2331 E Adams St. (one block south of the Arizona Inn.) It will feature opera choruses, works by Brahms and Liszt, American contemporary choral gems, sea shanties, World War I-era dance hall selections, and cowboy classics. In addition, Lindsey will narrate "The Story of Ferdinand," a children's story about a bull who would rather sit and smell the flowers than fight fiercely. The master Of ceremonies will be Arizona Daily Star political cartoonist David Fitzsimmons. Fitz's sketches will be available for $10.


In 2012, Lindsey McHugh received the Dr. Frank H. Kells Memorial Scholarship awarded by the Arizona Council of the Blind. She studies choral music education at the University of Arizona and will graduate in May 2015 with a Bachelor’s of Music Degree. Since her arrival at the U of A in Spring 2011, she has performed as a soloist with Sons of Orpheus in various locations, such as Tucson, Saddle Brooke, Coolidge, and Green Valley. She is currently singing with the Arizona Choir, which is the top graduate group, consisting of graduate and select undergraduate choral conducting and vocal performance majors. This summer, Lindsey will travel with this ensemble to sing in Vienna and Prague. After this tour, she plans to serve as musical director for a youth production in Coolidge. Last summer, Lindsey sang with the Tucson Pops Orchestra under Maestro Lászlo Veres's baton and will appear as soloist on May 24th with Maestro Veres and the Arizona Symphonic Winds.


Since winning the Scholarship, Lindsey has used her free membership to AzCB to become a very active member in the Southern Arizona chapter.

She plans meetings, organizes recreational outings, mentors other blind students, and is always eager to volunteer. It was no surprise to us when she announced her interest in performing in a concert with Sons of Orpheus to benefit the Chapter.


Sons of Orpheus is Tucson's premiere male-voice choir, founded in 1991 by Professor Grayson Hirst, with whom Lindsey studies voice at the U of A. The group was declared "Tucson’s ambassadors of song" by mayoral proclamation in June 2008 and performs both nationally and internationally. Dubbed "The Chorus That Cares," Sons of Orpheus regularly performs for various community support organizations, such as Casa De Los Niños, Save the Children, Mission San Xavier, and La Frontera.


Help Lindsey and other blind youth by purchasing tickets today! Sighted volunteers will be available for assistance if needed. Tickets are $15 in advance and $17 at the door. To buy tickets, contact Marlene Dekker by calling 520-747-9968, or by email at


Please include the following information in your email, or when you call: your name, how many tickets you would like, and/or whether you and/or the other members of your party need transportation and/or sighted assistance from a volunteer.


Maricopa Club By Barbara McDonald


The Maricopa Club is off to a new start.  In December, the members elected the following officers:


Marlene Cobos, Chair

Kathie Wayne, Vice-Chair

Diane Gorden, Secretary

Judith Young, Treasurer

Susan Hoppe, Director

Barbara McDonald, AzCB Liaison

They meet on the second Wednesday of the month at the Arizona Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired (ACBVI), located at 3100 East Roosevelt Street in Phoenix, AZ.  The meeting is from 1:30 to 3:00 PM in the multi-purpose room.


For now, their goal is to support one another and become advocates for ACBVI.  They have started a buddy system to welcome new students at ACBVI, and they are creating a flyer to tell people about ACBVI.


Their future plans are to invite speakers, go on field trips, and socialize outside the center.


You are welcome to attend.  If you have any questions, please call Barbara at 602-285-0269.



ACB Radio - Where Your Listening is Our Business

By Jeff Bishop


While growing up, I had a wonderful opportunity to tour a radio station. I was very involved in HAM radio and loved the communication field.  The term "ham" as a nickname for amateur radio operators originated in a pejorative usage by operators in commercial and professional radio communities.  These were the days of records and old cart machines being used in radio station studios. I can recall running my hands over the rows and rows of records lining the shelves behind the DJ. Later, I had an opportunity to run the board at Tucson’s Sun Sounds organization and even having an on-air role with the station. All of this was very enjoyable but lacked much of what I longed to do, that being running my own show. ACB made this dream possible and it can for you also!


For years, I have been very involved with ACB Radio. This article is intended to introduce you to what ACB Radio offers and how you can listen to the service.

I now serve in a management role with the station and really enjoy working with the staff to bring all of you great content.


First of all, what is ACB Radio? ACB Radio is a service from the American Council of the Blind that serves to bring you information, entertainment and much more. Through the use of a free Windows application called the ACB Radio Tuner you can listen to all of the streams with either Windows Media Player, Winamp or even Foobar. With the February 4th release of the Victor Reader Stream firmware, the next-generation Stream has joined the ranks of portable book readers capable of streaming Internet radio. If you have a mobile device such as an iPhone, then apps like OoTunes will allow you to hear the station out on the road. We are also listed in Serotek’s iBlink Radio iPhone and Android apps. Here is a description of what each stream offers:


ACB Radio Mainstream:


This is the talk channel of ACB Radio. Every year we present the annual ACB national convention on this stream. In addition, many programs are presented such as Main Menu (a technology focused program), Cooking in the Dark, ACB Reports and much more. We have presenters all over the world presenting content to you. ACB Radio’s Main Menu show has been running for well over a decade now and brings you the latest technology news and happenings as it relates to technology from a blindness perspective. Are you afraid to cook? Dale and his team that present Cooking in the Dark bring you a show once a week that is one surely not to miss. The production quality is top notch and you really feel like you are standing next to Dale as he makes up delicious meals. There is so much more on this stream that you should just give it a listen.


Don’t forget that, during the annual convention, this stream as well as the Live Event stream will bring you gavel to gavel coverage of all of the proceedings.

ACB Radio Café:


This stream plays music from blind musicians only. It is a way to present blind talent to a wide audience.


ACB Radio Treasure Trove:


Are you an old time radio fan? If so, this is the stream for you. Tune in to hear the very best of old time radio. Selections are made from a vast library of material and it changes each week. The schedule is in four hour blocks for each day of the week and repeats throughout that day.


ACB Radio Interactive:


This is the stream for you if you want to present your own music show. Interactive truly means that, being interactive with our listeners! I produce a show on Saturday from 6:00PM to 9:00PM Eastern called the Desert Skies show. Come and give it a listen.


ACB Radio World News and Information:


This stream is pretty self-explanatory. If you want to hear the news from uncommon sources then come here and give it a listen.


ACB Radio Live Event:


This is the last stream of the line up on ACB Radio. It is only available when live events are brought to listeners. These are mainly conventions from affiliates, live convention coverage and much more. For example, the mid-year meetings just held in Washington DC were heard live on this stream.


Tuning into ACB Radio

How can you find the station and all of its streams?

Head over to: and give the site a look. Schedules of show content on each stream can be reviewed.

Many older shows are available for download from the web site with the exception of those shows heard on ACB Radio Interactive.


I hope this gives you an idea of what ACB Radio has to offer. Future articles will get more into what it takes to actually present a show on ACB Radio for those that might be interested.


Give us a listen and don’t forget my show on Saturday afternoon on ACB Radio Interactive starting at 6:00PM Eastern. See all of you there!



2014 ACB Conference and Convention - The Real Deal


ACB 2014 Conference and Convention

Friday, July 11, 2014 - Saturday, July 19, 2014

Riviera Hotel and Casino

2091 Las Vegas Blvd South

Las Vegas, Nevada


Convention workshops and seminars offer unique opportunities to learn new skills, tips and techniques on a wide range of topics including diabetes, employment issues, rehabilitation, transportation, and access to off-the-shelf technology.  Receive instruction and tips on high-tech products such as screen readers, braille notetakers, low-vision products, and much more.


Hotel Information: Rooms at the Riviera are $87.00 per night for one or two guests. Each additional guest (maximum of four guests per room) is $10.00.  Room tax (currently 12%) will be added to your room charge.  Make telephone reservations by calling (800) 634-6753, make sure to mention you are with the ACB convention


Visit for updated information

The Phoenix Chapter


The face of the Phoenix Chapter may be changing.  Originally, members met after work.  They ate together, discussed the latest helpful gadgets, talked about blindness issues, or listened to a speaker.  Now, those members need to get home to participate in other responsibilities.


In the last few meetings, members of the Phoenix Chapter and the Maricopa Club have been getting together at McAlpine's Soda Fountain or at California Pizza.  They have met in the mid-afternoon and early evening when the restaurants were not very crowded.  Everyone was able to talk to eachother confortably.  The wait staff had been able to spend a little more time with them explaining the menu and spoiling them.  Members had an enjoyable time together.


When the chapter membership list for 2014 has been updated, members will get together to discuss goals and action plans for the coming year.  Look on the AzCB Chat List or website for the latest information. Announcements will be posted two weeks before the event.  They will continue to talk about blindness issues and offer support for one another.



VRATE 2014

Friday, November 7, 2014

9:00 AM – 4:00 PM

Phoenix Convention Center South Complex

33 South Third St Phoenix, AZ 85004


VRATE is the premiere expo in the southwest that focuses on the specific needs of people who are blind or who have combined vision and hearing loss.


AZDAC Day at the Capital By Taylor McDonald


Hello. My name is Taylor McDonald. I am 24 years old and have been legally blind my whole life. Up until this point I had no idea that I had a voice in our legislature. I just assumed that I couldn’t make a difference or my voice just wouldn’t be heard.


Last month, I had the opportunity to attend the AZDAC Day at the Capital in Phoenix Arizona. It was such an eye opening experience. I had no idea that as a person with a disability “I” have a say as to what bills get passed or don’t get passed in our legislature. The great part is that “YOU” have a say as well. YOU have a voice and your voice matters.


Our legislature doesn’t know what we need as individuals with a disability (whatever that disability may be). What I learned from that day at the capital was that I NEED to be proactive with my “complaints” or “disagreements”. That I need to stand up and speak on what I believe will help me and all the others out there living with a disability. There are important bills that go unpassed because no one is speaking up to support them. It only takes a moment to vote and that one vote could have a positive effect on the rest of your life.


Our Senators and Representatives are doing a wonderful job but there is one thing they cannot do. They cannot read our minds. They don’t know what will best help or benefit us unless we speak up and advocate for ourselves. From my observation, every Senator and Representative who spoke, was very open, willing and wanting our feedback. They are fighting on our behalf so that we could live fuller lives and be more successful. They are taking a stand, now; it is our turn to stand up! Are you willing to advocate for yourself and play a crucial part in a lifelong change for the better? Who better to speak on behalf of the disabled population then those who live with it every day of their lives?

AZDAC By Barbara McDonald


About eight years ago, I was in Tucson for a meeting.  A perspective member for the Southern Arizona Chapter asked, Is there a coalition of blind organizations that would be able to take issues to the legislation?"  While that is the job of the Arizona Council of the Blind, I had to admit that I did not know if there was a larger advocacy alliance in our community.


When I returned to Phoenix, I started asking questions.  I was told about the Arizona Disability Advocacy Coalition, (AZDAC). The purpose of AzDAC is to promote public policy that enhances the choice, dignity, rights and responsibilities of individuals with disabilities and their families. They are not just a coalition for people who are blind or visually impaired, but are an association of disability organizations representing diverse disability populations.


Initially, the Arizona Council of the Blind joined AZDAC as an advisory member.  Then, we became a participating member with rights to vote on issues.  This coalition does not just support legislative issues for persons with disabilities, but sponsors learning opportunities such as "Day at the Capitol" and ADA Celebrations.  They also encourage people to register to vote and schedule speakers to talk about political issues. 


This organization can only be powerful with participation of its members. All AzDAC member organizations act jointly, in a unified manner, to provide a strong voice on disability related issues and develop a cohesive strategy to promote legislative action. If you know of any disability groups, please tell them about AZDAC. They can find more information by going to


In order to be heard it is important that you vote.  You can register to vote online at:

2014 Barks a Busy Year for GDUA By Ron Brooks


At Guide Dog Users of Arizona (GDUA), we believe that our effectiveness as an advocacy organization depends on the extent to which our members feel connected with our organization, with our mission and with our members. In other words, it’s not enough for us to promote issues with which our members agree. Simply put, our members need to know and like other members. Otherwise, our advocacy efforts will either not work, or they will come across as forced and ineffective.


Last year, and occasionally before that, GDUA conducted what we call Coffee and Canine events, where those of our members who reside in the Phoenix area, could come to relax, drink coffee and reconnect with other GDUA members and with the organization. These events were always fun and sometimes, they were informative. However, they were never statewide. As a result, the only members who ever got to attend one were members who lived in the Phoenix area. However, this was about to change.


Earlier this year, GDUA held two separate Coffee and Canine events—one in Tucson on February 15 and one in Tempe on March 8,, 2014. These events, which were held at the Beyond Bread in Tucson and at a Starbucks restaurant in Tempe, gave a total of 17 GDUA members and friends the opportunity to enjoy nice refreshments, and to have a collective great time as we talked about GDUA, its future and where we want to go from here. In addition to coffee and pastries, 6 GDUA members walked away with some great door prizes, collected by GDUA Vice-President Liz Whitlock, and GDUA picked up another member—bringing our total 2014 membership to 20.


We are very happy with a great start to 2014, but there is much more to come. Planning is already under way for our Diving with Dog Guides Pool Party, which will take place in August.

And, we are planning our Annual Membership Meeting and Workshop for November. In addition, yours truly, along with my wife and fellow GDUA member Lisa and our three kids, have formed a team for the ACB Brenda Dillon Memorial Walkathon, which will take place on July 13, 2014, at the ACB Annual Conference and Convention, to be held in Las Vegas. Our team, which we’ve named the “Desert Dogs” will be raising money for ACB, but we are also earmarking 50% of our proceeds to the AzCB, so if you’d like to support us, you can do so by joining as a team member, or you can make an on-line donation. Of course, you can also register as an individual walker or form your own team and raise money for the ACB and your affiliate of choice. Information about the Walkathon (including links for making a donation, joining a team such as the Desert Dogs, or for registering to walk yourself) can be found at If you do wish to donate to the Desert Dogs, you can do so by scrolling down to the “Make a Donation” link and completing the accessible form on the next page. Just be sure to include the team name “Desert Dogs” where indicated.


I want to close by encouraging any of you who are concerned about guide dog access here in Arizona to consider joining GDUA as a member. You can also follow us by email or via Twitter. For more information about any of these opportunities, visit our website at, or send us an email at


2014 AzCB Annual Membership Convention


Save the date and join us


Friday, May 9th from 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM.

Disability Empowerment Center

The Nina Mason Pulliam Conference Center

5025 East Washington Street

Phoenix, AZ 85034

Come and enjoy a day of learning and celebration.  There will be presentations on adaptive technologies and techniques for people who are blind; scholarships will be awarded to deserving students; you will hear engaging thought provoking speakers and you will have an opportunity to interact with extraordinary people from your community.


You will find the convention program and enrolment form at  Please return the enclosed registration form or print the form from our website.  Please register by April 30th.


Tentative AzCB Convention Schedule - Friday, May 9, 2014


8:00 AM - Check in and Registration Desk opens

8:00 AM – 9:00 AM - Complimentary breakfast available for all convention enrollees

8:30 AM – 9:00 AM – AzCB pre- convention meeting

9:00 AM – 9:30 AM – Convention Opens

Welcome and Overview from Barbara McDonald, AzCB President.

RSA SBVID Update Karin Grandon, Deputy Administrator

9:30 AM – 10:00 AM - Chapters of Our Lives

Mitzi Tharin: Southern Arizona Chapter; Book Club; ENVIA.

10:00 AM – 10:15 AM - Break

10:15 AM – 11:30 AM - E-Tech

Technology in employment for people who are blind will be presented by Adam Cruz from the Arizona Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired. Guide Dog Users of Arizona (GDUA) will give an overview of technology and guide dog usage.

11:30 AM – 12:00 Noon - NLS

Lending Services, Downloads and Newsline.

12:00 – 12:30 PM - Break and lunch setup

12:30 PM – 2:00 PM - Scholarship and awards luncheon

Guest Speaker: Dreaming Out Loud, The Power of High Expectations

2:00 PM - 2:15 PM - Break

2:15 PM – 5:00 PM - Convention Business Meeting

5:00 PM – Adjournment


A Musical Interlude


Alexander (Sasha) Konstantinov was born in Russia. He is gifted in music.  He started playing the violoncello (often abbreviated cello) when he was five years old.  At the age of 15, Sasha and his mother moved to the U.S. where he continued his music education by taking private lessons and playing in school orchestras.  In 2011, Sasha graduated from Ottawa University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Music Studies.


Aside from his fervor for music, Sasha is actively engaged in volunteer work.  He volunteers at Tempe Public Library and at the Arizona Bridge to Independent Living (ABIL).  Sasha’s disabilities have not kept him from his love of music.  For the last two years, he has played a lunch time program at Westchester Retirement Community.


During the transition from the morning to the afternoon session, attendees of the 2014 AzCB Annual Meeting will have an opportunity to hear Sasha’s passionate cello performance.  We are looking forward to hearing Sasha’s program and would like to thank him for agreeing to share his love of music with us.


Possible Arizona Statute Language Change


The Arizona House of Representatives unanimously passed HB 2667, a bill Rep. Stefanie Mach, D-Tucson (District 10), introduced that would replace the words handicapped and “disabled person” from state laws with more respectful language that the community prefers. The new language, “person or persons with disabilities,” will also appear on all materials the state produces in the future, such as signs that indicate parking for people with disabilities.


Representative Mach is trying to change the way the state addresses people with disabilities. She survived a car accident in 1997, in which an electrical line shocked her, causing multiple injuries and the loss of an arm. She said, as a person with a disability, she understands the effect of dehumanizing words on a person or a group of people.


The bill passed 57-0 and now goes to the Arizona Senate for consideration.



ACB Brenda Dillon Memorial Walk


The Brenda Dillon Memorial Walk will be held on Friday, July 13, 2014 from 7:00-9:00 AM in the Miracle Mile Shops in Las Vegas.  Since its inception in 2009, the ACB Walk has become a signature fundraising event. Funds raised as part of this event enable the organization to continue providing vital services to help blind and visually impaired Americans participate fully in all aspects of society.


In July, 2013, our dear friend and long-time supporter, Brenda Dillon lost her battle with cancer.  The ACB Board of Directors voted to honor her by naming this event the ACB Brenda Dillon Memorial Walk.

Brenda possessed an undeniable enthusiasm for advocacy, fundraising, and serving others. She was known as a leader within ACB, holding leadership positions at the national and state level, mentoring and encouraging countless students and young professionals, and working on numerous advocacy and fundraising projects.


You can help us keep Brenda’s spirit alive and carry forth her vision for equality and justice through your participation in the 2014 ACB Brenda Dillon Memorial Walk.


Registration is at 7:00 with the walk starting promptly at 7:30.  All participants are required to check-in at the registration table. All participants will receive a commemorative Ball Cap and refreshments.


The walk course is inside the mall and is 1 mile in length. Walkers will not be timed. Water and snacks will be available for participants.


Trophies and prizes will be presented for the following:

Participants will also be entered into drawings depending on the amount of funds they have raised.