Fore~Sight, the Newsletter of the Arizona Council of the Blind

Spring 2009

 

It’s Not Too Late AzCB Annual Convention – Coming

By Ron Brooks, Convention Coordinator

        There are lots of reasons for you to make your plans to join the Arizona Council of the Blind for our 38 Annual Convention, and the time is drawing near. Members of the Convention Committee and Board of Directors are working hard to ensure that this event is worth your while, and we hope that the details in this article will give you all the reasons you need to be with us.

        The convention will take place on Friday, May 1 and Saturday, May 2, at the Phoenix International Airport Hilton Hotel, located at 2435 South 48 Street in Phoenix. Although the April 1 deadline for getting the AzCB convention room rate has passed, the hotel does have additional rooms available (as of the time of this writing), and they will honor the convention room rates of $105 per night plus tax ($130 per night plus tax for suites) as long as there is space available. If you wish to make a reservation, call the hotel directly at (480) 894-1600, and ask for the AzCB Convention Rate.

 

Convention Highlights

        Each year, the AzCB Convention Committee learns from the feedback we receive from our guests and exhibitors. As a result, this convention will be the best ever.

        Here is a short overview of our Convention program. Watch the AzCB website for more detailed convention updates and announcements.

        On Thursday, April 30 we will begin with Convention Registration from 4:00 to 6:00 pm, and several AzCB Committees will hold business meetings. We will also host a Pre-Convention mixer in the President’s Suite, beginning at 8:00 pm, so if you’re in town early, come join us for refreshments, conversation and catching up.

        The Convention begins in earnest on Friday with Convention Registration and a free Continental Breakfast for all attendees, beginning at 8:00 am.  Our Exhibits area will also open at this time.  We will hold a general session from 9:00 am to 11:00 am, which will feature updates from the AzCB President, the Arizona Rehabilitation Services Administrator (invited) as well as speakers who will discuss everything from adaptive technology to tips for improving your ability to impact the legislative process.

        After the general session, we will have a break to permit guests to attend our exhibits area, so if you’re interested in sampling the latest and greatest products, services and programs intended to benefit the needs of people who are blind or visually impaired, come check out the Exhibits Hall.

        At noon, we will hold a luncheon to honor 2009 AzCB scholarship winners as well as any other individuals receiving awards from the AzCB.  Check the box on your registration form to indicate your desire to attend the Scholarship Luncheon.

        On Friday afternoon, we will conduct a series of four smaller workshops dealing with more focused topics which should be of interest to our members and guests.  Attendees will be able to choose from among the following workshop topics:

        Workshop 1 - Strategies for Improving Local Transportation – Speakers will discuss ideas for beginning and/or expanding local transportation options for people who are unable to drive and/or for those who need door-to-door or curb-to-curb paratransit services.

        Workshop 2 -“Finding Employment in the New Economy – This workshop will focus on strategies for finding home-based employment and other flexible forms of employment and will include discussions of how to resolve challenges associated with adaptive technology, concerns from RSA about non-traditional employment and other perceived barriers which may stand in the way of a perfectly viable employment future.

        Workshop 3 – “Left to Right, Front to Back & Cover to Cover” – With the advent of the Internet, electronic formats for books and digital talking books, there are so many ways to read books and access information that it’s almost hard to choose which one is best for you.  Speakers at this workshop will discuss the different options and technologies which are now making reading more enjoyable than ever.

        Workshop 4 – “Living Well and Without Eyesight” – We all know that our overall health contributes much more to our quality of life than does our visual acuity.  Speakers for this session will discuss a variety of topics related to the development and maintenance of a healthy lifestyle, including where to find information on health-related topics, strategies for staying physically active and fit, and tips for eating right.

        Although the convention is about information-sharing and the doing of important organizational business, it’s also about fun, and Friday night is dedicated to just that.  We will begin the festivities with a reception, which will be followed by our annual banquet.  We are still working on the details for the banquet, but watch the AzCB website for an announcement of our 2009 Master of Ceremonies and guest speaker.

        After the banquet, we will once again convene in the President’s Suite for an evening of refreshments, conversation and fun, and the President promises to stay up until the last guest leaves.

        On Saturday, May 2, the Convention will reconvene at 8:00 am with Exhibits and a free Continental Breakfast for all attendees.  Our annual business meeting will begin at 9:00 am, after which, we will offer a box lunch, to be followed by a Post-Convention Board Meeting (which is open to the public) as well as time for any of our special interest affiliates to meet.  Although it may seem anti-climactic, our Business Meeting and the Post-Convention Board Meeting are important events for you to attend because these meetings will afford you the chance to become better acquainted with the AzCB and to give your input on where you think the organization should go in the future.  We will also be holding elections for our First Vice-President, Treasurer and at least two Director positions, so membership involvement is crucial.

        I want to close by encouraging you to go to our website (http://www.azcb.org)  and check the 2009 AzCB Convention links in order to read updated program information and announcements, to download registration forms and to learn more about exhibiting at the convention. Our convention is only as good as the people who attend, so having you there will make all the difference as the AzCB continues to work to promote the concerns of Arizonans who are blind or visually impaired.

 

See Kili Our Way

        In the summer 2009, nine blind climbers from the Foundation for Blind Children, along with nineteen guides, will make the trek to summit Mt Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, Africa. Tom Hicks former AzCB board member will be one of the hardy souls that will embark on this unprecedented adventure. The Arizona Council of the Blind is a Team Hicks sponsor.

        “I want to be a part of the efforts that shatter the many myths and preconceived notions held toward blindness.” Tom Hicks said, “I want others to know the truth about living a life with blindness, ‘You can do it!’ Together with your support we can, will and must reach the summit of Kilimanjaro”

        Team Hicks is made up of Tom and sighted climbers Kristy Kevitt and Grahame Richards. Kristy is a marketing professional and a member of the Board of Directors for the Foundation for Blind Children. After going on a night hike with the group preparing for Kilimanjaro, Grahame, a volunteer at the Foundation, was keen to participate.

        “The Council (AzCB) has always supported people who are blind in reaching the top of the mountain.” Said Dan Martinez, former president of the Arizona Council of the Blind, “This climb is an example of what people can do if they first believe and then prepare themselves to succeed.”

        Currently there are nine teams training to make the Kilimanjaro climb. Through http://www.seekiliourway.org, you can read each climber’s story and follow him/her through training, and ultimately, their summit. To finance the climb, See Kili Our Way has an initial goal of raising $500,000, half of which will directly fund programs at the Foundation for Blind Children.

        There is no question, each climber, blind and sighted, has a tall road ahead and without question, this road will be truly life changing. This trip is not just about individual goals. It’s about what each individual climber stands for – the hopes and dreams of people who are blind around the world.

        From Tom Hicks: I am asking you to partner with me in this once-in-a-lifetime challenge to inspire hope in others and demonstrate the great accomplishments people with disabilities can achieve with equal access, training, and opportunity.  Reaching the top of Kilimanjaro will not only testify to the power of those with a disability, but will also signify reaching a new apex in what blind children and adults can do with the will and support to take a risk.  If you are able and would like to contribute to my journey, please visit my Team page at http://www.SeeKiliOurWay.org to donate funds online. Simply click the “Climber” link on the left and then “Team Hicks”.

 

Bobbing Along With Bob, by Bob Williams, Sr.

        I stand corrected. In my last column, I reported that members elected to officer positions last May to the AzCB governing board were all elected to full two-year terns. Well, to borrow a line from George and Ira Gershwin, “it ain’t necessarily so.” Under AzCB’s revised constitution and by-laws approved last year by the general membership, persons elected to the officer positions of President, 2nd Vice president and Secretary were elected to full terms expiring in 2010.  Under the revised provisions of Article four dealing with officers, Directors and Board of Directors, persons elected last year to the positions of 1st Vice President and Treasurer will need to elected this year to full two-year terms expiring in 2111.  Correcting this inadvertent oversight will bring our organization into compliance with the staggered term provision in Article Four.

        This means that First Vice Sharon Booker of Green Valley and Treasurer Harold Newsome of Phoenix will need to stand for competitive open election to full terms expiring in 2111.  The revised provisions of Article Four also calls for staggered terms for the board’s four directors.  Directors Lilllian Hosmer and Ron Brooks were elected last year to full terms expiring in 2010.  Dr. Terri Hedgpeth and Jim Locke were elected to one-year terms expiring this year. Earlier this year Dr. Hedgepath resigned her position and a directorship vacancy now exists on the board.  Jim will be eligible for election to a full term this year expiring in 2011.

        The revised guidelines provide that any officer shall be eligible to serve in the same office for not more than two consecutive terms.  Any director shall be eligible to serve in the same position for not more than three consecutive two-year terms.  There is no limit to the number of non-consecutive terms to which an individual may serve on the board.

        Finally, a brief reminder that the AzCB will be the host affiliate for the 49th Annual National Convention of the American Council of the Blind in July 2110.  The newly opened 1,000 rooms Phoenix Sheraton downtown will be the convention site. Members of our Arizona affiliate journeying to Orlando Florida, this summer for ACB’s 48th national convention should be careful to take note of helpful ideas and suggestions in anticipation of our own convention next year.

        In 1992 then Arizona Governor Fife Symington appeared before a morning general assembly during the 31st annual national convention of ACB at the Hyatt Regency hotel in down town Phoenix.  Bob Williams Jr. read a proclamation from the office of the Governor and Governor Symington shared inspiring comments including words about two visually impaired siblings in his own family.

        In the last edition of our Foresight newsletter President Barbara McDonald mentioned something about President Barack Obama.  This led me to thinking; wouldn’t it be nice if ACB could get him to come back to Phoenix as banquet speaker for our 49th national convention in 2010?  Now all we have to do as host affiliate is come up with several million dollars towards local security during his visit.  Well, it was a good idea for a few seconds anyway, don’t you think?

 

AzCB Welcomes Distinguished Guest to Annual Conference

        This year, attendees at the AzCB's annual convention, to be held in Phoenix on May 1 and 2, will have a real treat. Representing our parent organization, the American Council of the Blind, will be Mr. Ray Campbell, of Glen Ellyn, Illinois.

Ray is a member of the ACB Board of Directors ,  an active advocate on behalf of people who are disabled and he is recognized for his insight regarding the capabilities of and challenges facing people who are blind or visually impaired. He is a nationally respected writer and speaker on the rights and responsibilities of people with disabilities.

Ray worked for more than 15 years as a software engineer for Motorola before being downsized out of his position.  Rather than becoming disheartened by this setback, Ray joined the Chicago Lighthouse for the Blind, where he helped to create a National Adaptive Technology Help Desk, where he assists blind and visually impaired callers with the use of adaptive technology and software.  Ray not only knows about adaptive technology; he uses it every day.  He uses a variety of high-tech tools in his office, including a computer, which reads aloud all the type displayed on the monitor, a device that presents information on the computer screen in Braille, and much, much more.  Ray wears two sets of headphones, one to hear the computer voice and the other attached to his phone to listen to his callers. He also has a printer, but the documents it produces are in Braille, not ink.

Ray attended Wisconsin School for the Visually Handicapped (WSVH) from 1973 to graduation in 1983. He earned his Associate degree in Wausau, WI, and has lived and worked in the Chicago area ever since. Ray has served as visually impaired coordinator and transportation advocate for the DuPage Center for Independent Living in Glen Ellyn, Illinois and was instrumental in the creation and ongoing expansion of Ride DuPage, a local transportation program that provides supplemental door-to-door transportation services to seniors and people with disabilities on behalf of several cities and townships in DuPage County, Illinois.  He also served as chair of the ACB Constitution and By-Laws Committee. He is a frequent contributor to the Braille Forum, has done interviews for mainstream news outlets, radio programs and numerous other activities that highlight the issues affecting people who are blind or visually impaired.

Ray will be joining us at our AzCB State Convention Friday, May 1 and Saturday, May 2. He will be a presenter, facilitator and participant at several of our sessions. Make time in your busy convention schedule to attend one of Ray’s presentations. Ray is an advocate, author, actor, auctioneer and avid friend. His insight, wit and wisdom will make your convention experience momentous.

 

Are you a current member of the AzCB?

In March of 2009 the AzCB reported its membership roil to the American Council of the Blind. Membership in the AzCB is also membership in the ACB. Did you renew your membership for  2009? If you have not, your membership has lapsed. Check your address label on this newsletter to determine your membership date. If your membership has lapsed, renew on line at www.azcb.org or use the membership application on the back cover of this newsletter. Thank you.

 

Midyear Legislative Conference By Sharon Booker

        It was my privilege to represent Barbara McDonald and the AzCB by attending the Presidents' Meeting and Midyear Legislative Conference of the ACB. The events were held in Arlington, VA from February 20th through 24th.

        The Legislative Conference was one and a half days of intensive discussion and training to equip us to "Take the Hill" on the 24th of February. Our two main imperatives were supporting H.R. 734, The Pedestrian Safety Enhancement Act, and hoping to breathe life into a proposal that wasn't voted on last year, The 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act.

        With my husband Thom acting as guide, we met with staffers from the offices of Senator Kyl, Representatives Franks, Shadegg, Grijalva and Giffords.  Most of the staffers expressed interest in our concerns and asked pertinent questions regarding both issues.  I have since sent e-mails to everyone I talked to as well as sending my comments and impressions to the ACB National Office.

        I came away from this trip knowing a lot more about how important it is for all of us in blindness to keep on top of pertinent issues and in lending our support to those matters, which have such an impact on our everyday lives.

        I want to thank the AZCB board for giving me this opportunity.

Note:

The Pedestrian Safety Enhancement Act establishes a motor vehicle safety standard that provides for a means of alerting blind and other pedestrians of motor vehicle operation (Quiet Cars).

The Communications and Video Accessibility Act adds consumer protections to ensure greater accessibility to digital communication devices by people with disabilities.

Arizona Council of the Blind

3124 E. Roosevelt St. Suite. 4

Phoenix, AZ 85008-5088