The audio of this version of the newsletter is available for download. Click here to download the Summer 2013 Foresight Audio Newsleter.

 

 

 

 

 

 


"ACB Braille Forum" and Conference By Barbara McDonald

 

Last year at the American Council of the Blind (ACB) National Conference, the attending members  voted to change the name of the "Braille Forum" to the "ACB Braille Forum".  Because the title is a trademark, it might take a while to officially change it.  I have been told that the new name is not on the cover yet. 

 

I have to admit that I haven't always taken time to read the magazine.  However, I have been reading it lately.  I regret not reading it more because I have learned some new and interesting things.

 

Right now, ACB, is getting prepared for the 52nd Annual Convention.  Actually, they have been preparing for it for almost a year now.  The May and June issues give you a view of what the conference is going to be like in Columbus, Ohio.  You can read articles about the tours, exhibits, and daily events.  I know it is not the same as being there, but it gives you an idea what members are going to see and do.

 

 

Forum and Conference Continued

 

This year, the officers are up for election.  Mitch Pomerantz, the current president, can not run for president because he has completed his term limits.  In the July edition, there should be an article introducing all the candidates who wish to be nominated for office.  They are given questions to answer, and the answers will be printed in the "ACB Braille Forum".

 

I will be attending as the Arizona representative.  If you have a computer, you probably have seen e-mails about the convention and the candidates.  Because I represent all the members in Arizona, I will try to vote the way you would want me to vote.  I will keep in touch with the board in Arizona.

 

The general sessions and the banquet are some of the events that are streamlined on ACB Radio.  However if you don't have a computer, you can wait for future  editions of the national magazine and our state newsletter Fore-Sight.

 

Start saving your money for the 2014 National ACB Convention.  It will be in Las Vegas, Nevada, which is much closer and without a three hour time change.

 


The Foundation for Blind Children Creating Opportunities for Anyone With Vision Loss to Achieve

 

The Foundation for Blind Children (FBC) is one of the few organizations in the United States which provides comprehensive programs and services to individuals who are blind or visually impaired from infancy through adulthood.  At present, our oldest client is 102 years of age.  It is the Foundation’s belief that lives can be changed at any age. 

Foundation Continued

 

The agency’s central campus at 1235 E. Harmont in Phoenix is home to its infant program, the preschool and elementary programs and adult and transition services.  There are also weekend and summer recreation programs available to children.  To better serve the Phoenix Metro area, FBC also has preschool campuses located in the east and west valley.  In addition to services offered to children and adults, the Foundation also provides training and support to parents to help them provide their children with the greatest opportunity for success. 

 

Building a foundation of learning during the first 3 years of life is critical for a child with a visual impairment. Because of their unique learning needs, early identification, treatment and educational intervention are important to these children’s’ later success.  The goal of the infant program is to provide instructional and emotional support to help families create the best possible environment for their child’s learning.

 

The preschool program at FBC is a natural follow-up to infant services.  Children, many with disabilities in addition to vision loss, attend classes where they are exposed to educational opportunities which stimulate young minds.  Upon graduation many enter mainstream schools. 

 

Specialized instruction which allows children with visual impairments as well as other disabilities to develop pre-academic and academic skills is provided in the elementary education program.

Foundation Continued

 

The goal of this program is to facilitate a smooth transition to mainstream schools where the environment may be more competitive.

 

FBC’s adult and transition program prepares clients to meet the challenges of the real world by providing instruction in independent living skills, orientation and mobility, career exploration and the technology skills necessary to compete in today’s job market.  Each student is a member of the FBC team and everyone works together to insure all clients achieve success.  One of the strengths of the program is the camaraderie between students.  In addition to receiving encouragement and support from peers, many students build life-long friendships during their time at FBC.  The supportive environment doesn’t stop with peers.  It extends into all facets of the program.  More than seventy five percent of the instructional staff are visually impaired or blind and understand what it’s like to take the first step on the journey to independence.  All classes are provided one on one and are interspersed with a variety of group and recreational activities.  Services are provided through a contract with the Rehabilitation Services Administration and clients must be referred by their Vocational Rehabilitation counselors.   

 

Students who are interested in pursuing post-secondary education may take advantage of FBC’s supported education services.  The academic liaisons work with each student to provide guidance to the college environment and ensure textbooks are available in accessible format, and whatever necessary accommodations are in place. 

Foundation Continued

 

Other services available at FBC are the services of a low vision clinic staffed by an optometrist certified in low vision.  Complete low vision exams are available by appointment and a wide variety of low vision equipment is available by special order.  A media center is also located at FBC’s central campus which provides “Braille on Demand” to a variety of K-12 programs.  An extensive collection of braille books is available in the lending library. 

 

The Foundation for Blind Children strives to provide education, tools, and services which enable persons of any age with vision loss to achieve greater independence.  For additional information or to arrange a tour, please call 602-331-1470.

 

 


Justice Department Reaches Settlement with Super Shuttle Under the Americans with Disabilities Act

 

On June 5, 2013, the Justice Department announced that it has reached a settlement with Super Shuttle, a shared-ride transportation company based in Arizona, to resolve a complaint that it discriminated against a blind person who uses a service animal.  Specifically, the Justice Department determined that Super Shuttle violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) by forcing a blind person who uses a service animal and her party to ride in a separate van and charging them a higher rate than other individuals who are allowed to share a van and pay a reduced fare.

 

 

Settlement Continued

 

"Americans with disabilities are entitled to the same opportunities that others have and the Department of Justice is committed to ensuring that people with disabilities are treated equally," said Eve L. Hill, Senior Counselor to the Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division.  "We are pleased that Super Shuttle has committed to taking affirmative steps to remedy this situation throughout its company."

 

Under the terms of the settlement agreement, Super Shuttle will adopt a revised service animal non-discrimination policy; train all employees, franchisees and independent contractors on the requirements of the ADA; and pay $1,000 in damages to the complainant.

 

The ADA prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities by private transportation providers.  Among other things, transportation providers must allow people with disabilities the full and equal enjoyment of their goods, services and facilities.  They must also make reasonable modifications of their policies, practices and procedures to permit service animals to accompany people with disabilities.

 

Those interested in learning more about this settlement or an entity's obligations under the ADA may call the Justice Department's toll-free ADA Information Line at 800-514-0301 (TDD 800-514-0383) or access its ADA website at www.ADA.gov  Additionally, ADA complaints may be filed by email to ADA.Complaint@usdoj.gov

City of Phoenix Impact Volunteer Awards

 

The 2013 impact volunteer awards ceremony was held on April 30th, 2013 at Steele Indian School Park, Memorial Hall, 300 East Indian School Road, Phoenix, Arizona.  Dan Martinez First vice-president of the Arizona Council of the Blind was one of the honorees.

 

Dan was recognized for his volunteerism with the Phoenix Equal Opportunity Department (EOD).  The EOD promotes and enforces equal opportunities for city employees and the public through voluntary education, community involvement and enforcement programs.  These programs are carried out by a combination of staff and volunteer panels appointed by the Mayor and City Council. Dan has voluntarily served on the Mayors Commission on Disabilities (MCDI), The Community Block Grant Review Committee and the Phoenix Human Relations Commission (HRC).  During his fourteen years with the commissions, he has served three terms as chairman of the MCDI and one term as vice-chairman of the HRC.

 

City Council Members from all eight of the Phoenix districts were in attendance at the ceremony, as were Mayor Greg Stanton, Vice Mayor Bill Gates and City Manager David Cavazos.  Entertainment was provided by the Maryvale Park Dance Group.

 

Memorial Hall is one of the three buildings that remain at Steele Indian School Park from the former Phoenix Indian School.  This two story Mission Revival style building, built out of beautiful red brick, incorporates the Romanesque Revival style as seen in the extensive use of Roman Arch Windows.

Recent renovations have brought Memorial Hall back to its original state.

AzCB Scholarship winners

 

There were two Arizona Council of the Blind scholarship winners for 2013, Ashleigh Gonzalez and Marcus Hernandez. Both attended the state conference and received their awards. The following are their personal histories and opinions of the meeting:

 

Ashleigh Gonzalez

I was very excited to receive the Frank Kells Memorial Scholarship at this year’s Arizona Council of the Blind conference. I got an opportunity to attend the conference and learn about local changes that may affect the blind community. I also got an opportunity to meet members of local chapters of AzCB and talk about my future involvement. During the award’s ceremony, I got a chance to share a little about myself and my college career. It was very nice to attend the conference and meet new people.

 

I recently graduated from Arizona State University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Molecular Biosciences & Biotechnology. During my time as an undergraduate, I began a project called “3D Imagine.” The project involves the development and implementation of a new type of tactile graphic for blind students to use in science courses. I am very excited about the opportunities I’ve gotten as a result of this project, including the chance to attend several national conferences, meet new people, and attend graduate school.

 

This Fall I will be returning to ASU to begin my Master of Science in Biology & Society. I am very excited to be in this particular program, as it will give me an opportunity to pursue scientific research in the lab, continue my work on “3D Imagine,” and take courses in topics that will assist me in furthering my career.

Scholarships Continued

 

I am very thankful that I received the Frank Kells scholarship because it will be a great help in continuing my education. Having earned a full fellowship from ASU for my tuition, I plan to put this scholarship towards my project. This will be incredibly useful in obtaining materials to help teach blind children in the science subjects using the new tactile graphics. I am so excited that I now have some funding I can work with to assist with my plans to eventually develop a science camp for blind children. As I continue with my education, I will be very happy to share my research with others, including AZCB.

 

Marcus Hernandez  

My name is Marcus Hernandez and I am a second year doctoral student in United States History at the University of Arizona.  I focus on the American West and the environment during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.  I am pursuing my doctoral degree because I want to teach at the college level.  My enthusiasm for history is something I would enjoy sharing with others.  I also like helping people and want to interact with students on a daily basis.

 

I heard about the Arizona Council of the Blind scholarship through my vocational rehabilitation councilor and decided to apply this year.  I was fortunate enough to be awarded a scholarship and am very grateful for this opportunity.  Organizations such as the Arizona Council of the Blind have assisted me in reaching the level of success I have achieved thus far, and will help me in completing my ultimate goal.  I look forward to completing my degree and earning a full time position as a professor of history.  I appreciate the efforts of the Arizona Council of the Blind in helping blind and visually impaired individuals achieve their goals.

Scholarships Continued

 

In addition to the scholarship check, I was afforded the opportunity to attend the annual meeting of the Arizona Council of the Blind last May.  This was a very educational experience.  I learned about some of the latest technology available to blind people and also met a variety of wonderful individuals.  The conference gave me a more in depth look into the activities of the AzCB and allowed me to network with other blind people.  I would like to thank the AzCB for awarding me a scholarship and inviting me to their annual conference.  I enjoyed the conference and the scholarship money is going to good use. 

 


SOUTHERN ARIZONA CHAPTER VIEWS by Sharon Booker

 

Unfortunately, most of our chapter members were unable to attend the Conference. We enjoyed the company of scholarship winner, Marcos Hernandez, on our trip to Phoenix. I felt the conference was very well done and well attended by interested groups from the Tucson area as well as those in and around Phoenix. I hope next year we can see many more of our actual AZCB members in attendance.

 

Our own chapter is at a summer hiatus with some members attending college classes and others hard at work on their jobs. We have managed to put together a reading list for the SAZCB book club which covers the rest of the year.

 

I am sorry that Thom and I will miss the ACB convention; however, we had planned a cruise in this time period now nearly nine months ago but I know our President, Barbara, will represent all of us in her usual excellent fashion.


 

AzCB PRESIDENTS, A LEGACY OF LEADERSHIP

By Bob Williams Sr., Part 5

 

Barbara McDonald, the Arizona Council of the Blind’s 11th President since the organization was incorporated as a tax exempt nonprofit in 1971, has described herself in times past as a daughter, sister, wife, mother, grand-mother, Catholic, Irish, English and French Canadian, and Pennsylvania Dutch with a pinch of German.  She states that her jobs have included carhop, waitress, secretary, rental agent and teacher.  Barbara was born Barbara Smith in Canada on April 20, 1945.  She moved with her family at age eight to Phoenix and at age eighteen graduated from St. Mary’s High School.

 

Barbara and Richard McDonald met as employees at Bob’s Big Boy restaurant on North Central and were married in 1967.  Most of their next 23 years were spent in Chicago working and raising their two sons.  In 1981 Barbara received her teaching degree with math minor from Northeastern Illinois University in elementary education. She taught in the Catholic diocese of Chicago for the next nine years.  The McDonalds moved back to Phoenix in 1990 and Barbara taught 3rd and 4th graders at Southwest in the Roosevelt school district from 1991 until her retirement in 2006.

 

Barbara first became aware of the AzCB in 1996 after becoming legally blind in 1995 following a kidney transplant and suffering an immune system virus infection which eventually destroyed her vision.  She was able to continue her teaching career with the training from vocational rehabilitation.  She joined the AZCB immediately after attending the organization’s annual state convention in May, 1996.

 

Barbara served as board secretary from 1997 to 2007 and as First Vice president from 2007 to February 15, 2008.  As First Vice she was also Membership Chair.

LEGACY Continued

 

She was acting President from February 15 to May of 2008 due to the resignation of President Dan Martinez.  In May she was elected to a full term expiring in 2010.  She then served as a board director during the presidency of Ron Brooks from 2010 to 2012.

 

Barbara served six years on the Governor’s Council on Blindness and Visual Impairment, six years on the Arizona Disabilities Action Coalition, and six years on the Arizona Vision, Rehabilitation and Accessibility Expo planning Committee.  The adjective caring perhaps best describes Barbara’s tenure of service as AZCB President.

 

She and Richard have attended every ACB national convention since 2008.  She lists as First Vice President getting to know personally by telephone contact every AZCB member as being among her most memorable accomplishments.  Also as President learning about the workings of our Arizona statewide affiliate of ACB, our national parent organization.  Barbara chaired the local Arizona host planning committee when ACB held its 49th annual national conference and convention in Phoenix in 2010.   She also presided during annual state convention membership meetings in 2008, 2009, 2010, and 2013 respectively, all held in Phoenix.

                                                

STATE CONFERENCE, MY POINT OF VIEW

by Barbara McDonald

 

The Arizona Council of the Blind (AZCB) had its state conference and 42nd annual membership meeting, May 3, 2013, at the Disability Empowerment Center in Phoenix, Arizona.

Conference Continued

 

Conferences and conventions start with committees who plan and organize the event. I appointed twelve people to the committee, and we planned the meeting and also a "Plan B" just in case. Fortunately we didn't have to use it. I won't name the committee members for fear of forgetting someone but I do appreciate everyone's help.

 

Text Box: Disability Empowerment Center

There were some of us who had to arrive early to open on the Big Day. I sat at the head table with Ted Chittenden who assisted me. It was my job to welcome the attendants, introduce speakers, award scholarships and generally keep things going. So that made my point of view a little different as I didn't get to mix and mingle with the attendees.

 

I thought everything went well. Speakers arrived on time, lunch was served early but everyone thought it was delicious.

 

We learned about new innovations being planned and tested for blind people, had an interesting array of speakers who covered subjects both timely and interesting. All in all, I felt the conference went well. Sadly, when it came time for our board meeting, only about sixteen of the attendees were actual voting members.

 

During the membership meeting, these officers were elected: Dan Martinez, first vice-president; Ted Chittenden, secretary; and Robin Paraskevas as treasurer. Three directors were also elected: Carlos Paraskevas, Jeff Bishop and Marlene Dekker.

The World's First Braille Smart Phone

 

While apps like Siri and Say Text do offer a good deal of assistance, smart phones still fall a little short for some people living with visual impairments. Sumit Dagar, a 2011 TED Fellow, had an idea for a more effective solution: a smart phone that's specifically designed for people who have trouble seeing.  The phone, which has yet to be officially named, has a screen comprised of a grid of pins, which move up and down to form into Braille shapes and characters whenever an SMS message or email is received. It uses what's called Shape Memory Alloy technology, so as each pin expands, it remembers and contracts back to its original flat shape.

 

In an interview with the Times of India, Dagar describes the phone as "[the] world's first Braille smart phone ... a companion more than a phone."

 

Dagar, an interaction design graduate of the National Institute of Design (NID), came up with the idea for the phone three years ago. He's collaborating with IIT Delhi on the prototype, which is being tested at the LV Prasad Eye Institute. The team hopes to release the phone by the end of 2013, for a about $185.

 

The TED Fellows program helps world-changing innovators from around the globe become part of the TED community and, with its help, amplifies the impact of their remarkable projects and activities. TED Fellows, TED Global Fellows, and TED Senior Fellows are drawn from many disciplines that reflect the diversity of TED's members: technology, entertainment, design, the sciences, the humanities, the arts, NGOs, business and more.

Be it Resolved

 

The membership of the Arizona Council of the Blind adopted several resolutions that will focus the organization’s advocacy efforts over the next year or so.

 

Resolution 2013-01 directs the AzCB to contact the Congressional delegation from Arizona and urge them to both introduce, and quickly pass, the Medicare Demonstration of Coverage for Low Vision Devices Act to ensure that senior citizens who are losing their vision have full access to the technology that will make it possible for them to continue living full and independent lives.

 

AzCB Resolution 2013-02 charges this organization with the responsibility of contacting the members of Arizona's Congressional delegation and urging them to introduce, support, and seek passage of the Anne Sullivan Macy Act, in whole or in part, as either a stand-alone bill or as part of the updates to IDEA next year.  When enacted the Macy Act will insure that local schools provide students who are blind or who have low vision with a level of education that is equal to that of their sighted peers.

 

Resolution 2013-03 positions the AzCB in opposition to proposed changes to the Cost-of-Living Adjustment (COLA) rate for blind SSDI recipients.  Those changes in how inflation is measured could potentially lower the benefit amounts received by recipients of Social Security Disability Income (SSDI) by an estimated 3% over the next 30 years.