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    Newsletter of the Arizona Council of the Blind



Winter 2015


From the President’s Desk by Carlos Paraskevas


Since becoming President of the AzCB, I have learned some very valuable lessons.  While the lessons are not absolute, they are instructional and help me be a better leader.  Let me share some of these lessons with you.


First, people don’t always do what they say they are going to do.  Because members are busy and can be drawn in many directions, they don’t always remember nor have the time to follow through on their commitments.  As a leader, I need to be organized and monitor the tasks that have been assigned to members.  That way I can help remind them, support them and when unquestionably necessary reassign the task to someone else.


Next, everything is harder than it looks.  People, including me, are quick to judge others.  We change our perspective when we have to stick our own necks out. From politics to sports, the world if full of Monday morning quarterbacks who will shoot you down and second guess everything from your skills to your motives.  When I face those Monday morning quarterbacks, I have to ignore the negativity, learn from the criticism and prove myself by my actions.


Additionally, I have learned I will make mistakes. Sometimes, big mistakes. I do not make them deliberately.  However, mistakes and failure are essential to human growth. It’s ok to make them. As AzCB President, I have to be productive.  Being productive, I am likely to make mistakes more often because I attempt more things that are outside of my comfort zone.


Another lesson I’ve learned is there will always be someone who is better at the things I do than I am.  That’s why the best athletes are always training. They believe that there is continually room for improvement.  I seek out top role models and learn from them.  I incorporate the best of who they are into the best of who I can be. 


An important lesson I learned is that teamwork will produce an overall better result than if each person within the group were working toward the same goal individually. However, the concept of group cohesion needs to be considered.  And, it is my responsibility to coordinate and strengthen our mutual positive attitudes.  As the group becomes more cohesive, its functioning is affected in a number of ways.  Interactions and communication between members increase. Common goals and interests become sharper and drive us to be greater than we are.  In addition, group member satisfaction increases as the group provides friendship and support in accomplishing results.


The AzCB team has a lot to do and limited resources to get it done.  I will unapologetically ask members to do a lot to better our community and make things better for people who are blind.  I will ask you to do more and give more than you thought you could.  The greatest lesson I have learned is that we can all do more individually and much, much more together.  Let’s do this.


Unified English Braille (UEB)


Braille has been the official tactile reading and writing method for people who are blind in the United States.  Braille is named after its creator, Frenchman Louis Braille. He published his system, which subsequently included musical notation, in 1829.  The second revision, published in 1837, was the first digital (binary) form of writing. 


Braille was not the only tactile reading and writing code used by people who are blind in the U.S. during the late 19th and early 20th century.  New York Point may have been more widely used.  Advocates for NY Point claimed it to be superior to both American Braille and British Braille.  According to Robert Irwin in his book "As I Saw It" (1955), this “war of the dots” divided the schools of the blind into two camps, one that used NY Point and another that advocated American Braille.

The issue was finally settled around 1916. The war was lost by both sides because the British stood by the braille code it was using. Ultimately, the wealth of code already available in the British Empire and the desire for a unified English language code led to the acceptance of the Braille code in the U.S


The braille code for English, however, has had variations from one country to another.  On November 2, 2012, the United States members of the Braille Authority of North America (BANA) voted to adopt Unified English Braille (UEB) to replace Braille American Edition. Based on extensive dialog and planning that involved more than 30 organizations as well as individual consumers, teachers, and transcribers, BANA established January 4, 2016 as the date by which the United States will implement UEB.


Unified English Braille will now integrate code for all English-speaking countries into a single unified system.

Unified English Braille is intended to develop one set of rules, the same everywhere in the world, which could be applied across various types of English-language material. The notable exception to this unification is Music Braille, which UEB specifically does not encompass, because it is already well-standardized internationally. Unified English Braille is designed to be readily understood by people familiar with the literary braille (used in standard prose writing), while also including support for specialized math and science symbols, computer-related symbols as well as more specialized programming-language syntax, foreign alphabets, and visual effects (bullets, bold type, accent marks, and so on).


Since there are still two major coding-systems for math-notation and other technical or scientific writing (Nemeth as an option in the United States versus the Taylor-style math-notation which will likely be used in other countries), some rules-conflicts still remain, and braille-users will be required to 'unlearn' certain rules when switching.


As of the implementation date in January 2016, UEB, Nemeth, Music, and the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) will be the official codes for use in the United States.


SAZCB Scholarship Winners Announced


The Southern Arizona Council of the Blind (SAZCB) has selected four students to receive $100 scholarships.  The students are Rebekah Gilbreath, Jernigan Netzsosie, Alyssa Tamayo, and Steven Wilson.  This scholarship was established to recognize students enrolled in southern Arizona who have achieved positive academic records.  Please join us in congratulating all the scholarship recipients for their accomplishment and wish them continued success.

The ADA Legacy Tour Bus by Barbara McDonald


Do you know what ADA is?  It stands for the Americans with Disabilities Act.  We will be celebrating the 25th Anniversary of the ADA on July 26, 2015.


On December 2, 2014, Tom Olin, a veteran disability rights photographer, came to the Disability Empowerment Center (DEC).  He is traveling through the United States in his ADA Legacy Tour Bus. 


Phoenix was the last stop in Phase One of the ADA Legacy Tour.  The Tour is a traveling exhibit designed to raise awareness and build excitement about ADA25, the 25th anniversary of the ADA.  Each stop will have a unique theme and purpose.  The tour will end in Washington DC on July 26, 2015.


The ADA Legacy Tour Includes:

·       The "Road to Freedom" ADA Bus - which traveled to 48 states in 2007 to raise support for the ADA Amendments Act

·       A four-panel display on the history of self-advocacy

·       Displays on The ADA Legacy Project and its effort to preserve disability history, celebrate disability milestones and educate future generations of disability advocates

·       A "Because of the ADA" booth where one can post thoughts and photos to illustrate the difference the ADA has made in their life


·       The ADA quilt on which tour participants can add their signature to the thousands others have contributed

·       A display on the history of the Road to Freedom Tour

·       An information table with handouts on The ADA Legacy Project and the ADA, plus information from partners and sponsors

·       Events, workshops, artifacts and other programming provided by local hosts


Mr. Olin brought pictures and posters sharing information about the Road to Freedom.  The posters were spread around a room.  The first poster talked about celebrating the milestones accomplished in our community and commemorating our heroes. It showed a picture of President George H. W. Bush signing the law while Justin Dart and other people with disabilities were looking on and waving the United States flag.  The second poster expressed the importance of educating the future and raising the awareness of the continuation of advocacy for ADA.  The last emphasized preserving the past and honoring disability rights and the people who worked in our community for those rights.  There was also a panel that spoke about the people who had worked for the ADA and how the law affected them in their lives. 


The road of the ADA did not just start in July, 1990.  It started a long time before when people with disabilities talked about societal barriers which excluded them from their communities.  Parents complained about the exclusion and segregation of their children.  These were the people who organized, spoke out, and wrote letters.  Without their diligence, there would be no ADA today.


For more information, please visit

GDUA Annual Membership Conference by Liz Whitlock


The Guide Dog Users of Arizona held their 2014 Annual Conference, “Harnessing Momentum and Moving Forward”, on November 8 at the Arizona Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired (ACBVI).  It was a huge success!  The conference was jam-packed with speakers from across the US on subjects varying from dog allergies to training methods and communicating with our loyal companions and other information and comradery. 


Our day began as Guide Dog Users, Inc. President Penny Reeder, via teleconference, gave us an update on the happenings and direction GDUI is striving for.  Our other Parent Affiliate President in attendance, Carlos Paraskevas, gave a brief update of the Arizona Council of the Blind.


In attendance were five Guide Dog schools.  Each school gave an update on their schools’ latest happenings, the new and the proven. Each school graciously answered questions from the floor.


Kelsey Bocken and Mark Jones from Spofit invited us all to come and sweat with them at their progressive gym.  The equipment and employees are ready to help all levels of ability and fitness.  We are very fortunate to have one in Phoenix.  There is only one other Spofit in the nation. 


Noah Cress, an Eagle Scout who has just completed adding new braille signs & navigation through the Sight Compass App at the Judith Tunell Trail at South Mountain Park, gave a description of the changes. This is a must do on the GDUA calendar this year.  Cress was recently recognized by the U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell for his project and received the Phoenix Mayor’s Disability Awareness Recognition Award. Way to go Noah!


Our Keynote Speaker was Michelle Johnson, a prominent horse woman in the Phoenix area who uses equine therapy to assist her clients.  Ms. Johnson spoke on biofelia and anthropomorphism, the behavior of animals and what they have to tell us, if we just listen.


Taralyn Temple, DVM, a veterinarian from the Phoenix area, spoke on dog allergies, varying from skin to food, what can be done, and what the future brings in with the continuous medical research.


Dave Hagemann, a guide dog trainer, talked with us on the various training techniques from clicker training, praise & correction, and treat training.  It was a very informative talk that led into various other training questions.


GDUA finished the day out with our business meeting.  Elections were held for our 2015 year: President Liz Whitlock from Chandler; Vice President Connie Jacomini from Gilbert; Secretary David Steinmetz from Chandler; Treasurer Jacque Olsen from Tempe; along with two board members, Rachel Krieg from Tucson, and River Forest from Phoenix.  Plans were discussed to continue to provide support and education to the community, as well as keep the social side growing strong. 


Renew Your AzCB Membership


If you have not renewed your AzCB membership, now is the time to get it done.  You can renew with your chapter or by going to and joining the state organization.  Please update your contact information and select your newsletter format preference.  The AzCB is a powerful voice for the rights of people who are blind.  Make that voice be heard by keeping your membership up to date.


VisionWalk 2015


The Arizona Council of the Blind is a community sponsor of this year’s Foundation Fighting Blindness VisionWalk.  The walk will take place on Saturday, February 28, 2015 at Steele Indian School Park located at 300 E. Indian School Road.  Registration starts at 8:00 a.m. and the walk begins with a stage presentation at 9:00.


Many of our members will be walking with the AIB Amigos or Webster's Woofers. Come join us and make a donation if you can.  Visit VisionWalk Arizona on the Web.


The Foundation Fighting Blindness, Inc. is the world’s leader in providing awareness and funding that drives the research that will provide preventions, treatments and cures for people affected by retinal degenerative diseases.  Since its inception in the spring of 2006, VisionWalk has raised over $30 million to fund sight-saving research. As promising treatments move into critical human studies, the need for research funding is greater than ever.


What’s become increasingly apparent, over the past several years, is that the Foundation Fighting Blindness has reached a critical juncture. As each fiscal year comes to a close, members of the Scientific Advisory Board (SAB) meet during the annual VISIONS conference to deliberate over scores of submissions for research grants.  The SAB’s charge is to advise on which projects are most likely to lead to treatments and cures of retinal diseases.


It’s a truly inspiring time, because we’re reminded of how much promising research is out there. Designed by scientific teams worldwide, the projects target retinal diseases from a variety of angles—gene therapies, stem cells, pharmaceuticals and “bionic retinas” included.
Sharing by Barbara McDonald


Do you remember a television show called "Captain Kangaroo"?  When my children were little, we used to watch it in the morning.  Captain Kangaroo read stories like the "The Little Engine that Could".


One of my favorites was a story called "Stone Soup".  It was about three hungry soldiers who come into a small town.  Upon their arrival, the villagers are unwilling to share any of their food stores with the hungry travelers.  Then the soldiers go to a stream and fill a pot with water, drop a large stone in it, and place it over a fire. One of the villagers becomes curious and asks what they are doing. The travelers answer that they are making "stone soup", which tastes wonderful, although it still needs a little bit of garnish to improve the flavor, which they are missing. The villager does not mind parting with a few carrots to help them out, so that gets added to the soup. Another villager walks by, inquiring about the pot, and the travelers again mention their stone soup which has not reached its full potential yet. The villager hands them a little bit of seasoning to help them out. More and more villagers walk by, each adding another ingredient. Finally, a delicious and nourishing pot of soup is enjoyed by all.


Stone Soup is usually told as a lesson in cooperation, especially amid scarcity. Predictions are that there will be a lot of cuts in this year's state budget.  Consequently, organizations will not receive money they were planning to receive for their budgets.


Maybe each one of us could share.


If you listen to Sun Sounds or receive books, magazines, or DVD's from the Arizona State Braille and Talking Book Library, you could send them a few dollars.

If you take training or participate in recreational classes at Arizona Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired, Foundation for Blind Children or Southern Arizona Association for the Visually Impaired, you could send them a donation.  Just imagine how much it would cost you if you had to pay for classes, books, and services.


Arizona Council of the Blind, Blinded Veterans, and the National Federation of the Blind of Arizona would be very grateful for your donation.


It is like the story of "Stone Soup".  If we all share, then everyone would have enough.


Sometimes when I write, I wonder if anyone reads my articles.  Recently someone told me they liked my articles.  For those that read my article, here is my annual plea.  Just pick one organization and let them know how thankful you are for their services.  You might find change in a bowl or the bottom of your drawer.  If we all contribute just a little, think how much we could raise.


Lindsey McHugh has a Merry Twistmas

By Carlos Paraskevas


The 15th Annual 94.9 MIXfm Holiday Radio Play, “Merry Twistmas Tucson!”, took place on December 5, 2014 at the Fox Theater in downtown Tucson.  This year’s performance was an imaginative tale featuring Martians and a mischievous Chupacabra.  It was broadcast live that night and rebroadcast on Christmas Day at Noon and 9:00 PM.  Cast members included Tucson Mayor Jonathan Rothschild, personalities from 94.9 MIXfm and KGUN9-TV, and other local Tucson talent … and Lindsey McHugh from our Southern Arizona chapter. 



A little background.  On April 26, 2014, Lindsey performed with Sons of Orpheus at a concert to benefit the Southern Arizona chapter of the Arizona Council of the Blind.  The master Of ceremonies was Arizona Daily Star political cartoonist David “Fitz” Fitzsimmons.


It turns out that Fitz writes the holiday radio play show every year.  Lindsey has been listening to this show for many years.  In fact, her family coordinates what time they will be back in Tucson after holiday events so she can catch the broadcast. 


Lindsey told Fitz that she would be very interested in participating in the show in some capacity in the future.  He said he would keep that in mind. 


In early November, Fitz sent Lindsey an email telling her he had a part for her in this year’s play.  Lindsey would play a Christmas ornament that comes to life, speaks a couple lines of dialogue and sings.  She got the script a few weeks before the show. 


During the performance, all the “actors” sat on the stage with their scripts; Lindsey had her BrailleNote.  There were five microphones placed at different locations on the stage.  When it was someone’s turn to speak, they would walk up to the closest microphone.  All the microphones were checked with the performers before the show to adjust the volume.  When it was Lindsey’s turn, her Mom walked her to her mic where there was a music stand.  This allowed Lindsey to put her BrailleNote down and speak directly into the mic. 


In the show, a Chupacabra steals and hoards Christmas ornaments.  When he realizes he’s in trouble, he makes a wish that a ceramic angel ornament with a broken wing would tell him what to do.  The angel, played by Lindsey, comes to life and cheers him up by giving him advice and singing the second half of “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.”  


There was no rehearsal before the performance.  On the day of the show, the musical director played part of the song for Lindsey that she would be singing.  Lindsey asked the director to raise it a minor third (up three steps in music parlance) to better suit her voice.  The director told Lindsey he knew he was dealing with a professional after the show.


After Lindsey finished her song, including an extended sparkling final note, she was treated to an extended round of applause.  As she went back to her seat, she thought to herself, “Wow, did I do that?”  It was confirmed that she did when Big Al from WGUN told her, “Well done.”


Proceeds from the show went to benefit the Diaper Bank of Southern Arizona.  The Bank is the nation's first diaper bank, serving infants, young children, the disabled, and adults; distributing more than 600,000 diapers annually to agencies throughout Southern Arizona.


The Diaper Bank provides diapers to those under the poverty line where no public assistance exists. They recognize that an inadequate supply of diapers puts families with young children at an increased risk for health related problems and potential abuse.  You can find out more at


So, what’s next for Lindsey?  Lindsey will be graduating in May of 2015.  She will also be student teaching and performing with Sons of Orpheus.  Sons of Orpheus have been invited to perform at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris in May of 2016.  Lindsey is assisting in fundraising for this trip.  For more information or to make a donation, please email Lindsey at


Filling the Gap by Norene Spar


When a person who is blind or visually impaired (BVI) goes out to public places such as restaurants, movie theaters and supermarkets, they are frequently, through unintentional ignorance, treated inappropriately.  That is an issue that I have seen time and time again and I have now decided to take steps towards “filling the gap” between the sighted world and the BVI community.


I have two very close friends who are blind, and so this is an issue that weighs heavily on my heart.  Through one of these friends, I have had the great pleasure of working as a personal assistant and guide at the annual Blinded Veterans Association (BVA) convention several times.  It was while doing this that I first noticed that there is a difference in the way people who have little or no sight are treated.


Since the BVI population is a minority, most sighted people have never had the experience of meeting or conversing with someone who is not fully sighted.  Often, the sighted person doesn’t know how to talk or act.  Some restaurants have menus in braille, or movie theaters have headphones that describe the visual aspects of the film for customers who are blind, so businesses are trying, and it is plain that they want to be accommodating.

However, the staffs are uninformed and still do not know what to do when a blind patron enters their establishment.  They sometimes even talk or act towards the visually impaired person as if he or she has an intellectual deficiency.  It has just never crossed their minds what it is really like to be blind and so they are ignorant of what their customer’s requirements really are.


There are several programs in the country with the goal of empowering people who are blind and visually impaired to do things on their own and live their lives as normally as possible without sight.  I have not, however, heard of any programs designed to instruct the sighted community on how to facilitate the inclusion of people who are blind.


Many people with visual impairments don’t leave their homes as often as they would like because they don’t feel comfortable in public places, especially businesses, among sighted people. This is why I am starting a project called “Filling the Gap”.  Filling the Gap is people who are blind and sighted focused on educating business owners, managers and employees on how to treat people who are blind or visually impaired with dignity and respect.  And, teaching them how to best assist customers who are blind in obtaining the full benefit their businesses provide.


For anyone who is interested in being a part of this endeavor or who wants to learn more about us, we are having an open meeting on January 10th from 2-5pm.  Email me at for further details.  I hope to see you there.

for the BLIND
Text Box: Arizona Council of the Blind Inc.
3124 E. Roosevelt St. Ste. 4
Phoenix, AZ 85008-5088
Text Box: Fore~Sight

Newsletter of the Arizona Council of the Blind Winter 2015





















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The Arizona Council of the Blind (AzCB) is a 501-C3 nonprofit, IRS exempt, organization of people who are blind, visually impaired and sighted Arizonans with a broad diversity of occupations and professions.  Our primary focus is on blindness-related issues especially on dealing effectively with the challenges of daily living, whether a person is a child or adult and regardless of the cause or degree of sight impairment.



3124 E. Roosevelt St. Suite 4

Phoenix, AZ  85008