From the President's Desk
Breaking the Cycle by Dan Martinez
These are my observations. I present them here, not as an academic study, but as a nonprofessional's rambling interpretation of the destructive cycles present in the dynamics of social interaction.
There are two glaring discrepancies or paradoxes in regards to the employment of individuals who are blind. The first paradox, I will call the fear of success, which is ultimately a fear of failure; it is a tendency for individuals who are blind not seek employment. These same individuals will often speak of employment or employment goals because it is socially acceptable, yet when the actual opportunity presents itself they are unwilling or unable to take advantage of it. The second paradox is the lack of increased employment opportunities. Although ADA and other legislation and community efforts are reasonably expected to positively influence the unemployment rate, it remains above seventy percent for people who are blind.
Speculation on root causes: Social Security disability benefits may serve as a disincentive to employment. This disincentive may have two factors. First individuals may be reluctant to seek employment in an unpredictable labor market, which threatens their security needs. Second, the labor market itself may not provide enough compensation to enhance and individual's lifestyle beyond their benefits level. This second opinion, supported by statistical data, indicates that individuals with severe visual disabilities make far less than non-disabled individuals. The AzCB is working to change Social Security law so that individuals who are blind can ramp off of SSDI benefits in a way that is advantageous for them.
The second major factors influencing individuals who are blind not to seek employment are social and nature. They are somewhat complex and variable yet, can be defined in terms of social and personal expectations. The first is lack of empowerment or poor self-esteem. This lack of self-esteem or sense of not being empowered comes from a poor self-image. When people indicate either verbally or through their actions that the disabled are not fully acceptable or that not much is expected of them, it serve to reinforce this poor self-image. So ones actions are limited by the expectations of others. This then becomes compounded when people who are disabled do not expect much from themselves because not much is expected of them and the actions of the disabled tells others not to expect much of them. This is a vicious cycle, a self-perpetuating myth, which must be broken before positive change can take place.
I believe that this is the real power of our consumer organization, breaking the cycle. The AzCB begins by telling people who are blind that they "can" and supports this through demonstration and high expectations. "Its okay to the blind." We are first people treating others and ourselves with dignity and respect.
Another social factor, closely tied to the first factor, is the lack of employment opportunities for individuals who are blind. Again, influenced by expectations, it may be a widely held misperception that people who are blind are incapable of working and are therefore not given a opportunity to prove otherwise. As you can see, this creates another cycle, which must be broken. Good training in both adapted blindness skills and vocational skills or education is essential in breaking the cycle. This coupled with the continuous education of the public in general and employers specifically are the chief factors in interrupting the cycle.
Again, your organization, the Arizona Council of the Blind invests time and energy in insuring that training and opportunities for the blind is good and appropriate and educating the public and employers about blindness, breaking the cycle.
From the Web; By Tom Belsan, Webmaster
We have added a screen-reader friendly news service to the Newspaper section of the Arizona Council Web Page. It is the first link in the newspaper section. Try it and let us know what you think. Arizona Council of the Blind Web Page is at http://aztec.asu .edu/azcb
The Initiative 2000 Link has been added to the Arizona Council of the Blind Web Page. It is in the Groups Section. It is the Link right after the American Council of the Blind Link.
You can get to the Arizona Council Web Page from the "affiliates" page on the ACB Home Page.
New, ACB-Radio is web-based audio programming. This is a source for relevant news, entertainment, educational programming, policy analysis, and dissemination of information of particular importance to people who are blind or visually impaired. www.acb.org and click on ACB on the radio
Regards, Tom - KB7NRG E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Irons in the Fire
In November several Phoenix-area AzCB members participated in beta field-testing of a new product called Command Audio. It is a device with which you can choose from a wide selection of radio programs, and listen to them at your convenience. The system is being marketed to the general public; at the same time, the San Francisco-based company is concerned about the needs and interests of the blind. The programs available ranged from stock reports to Hollywood gossip, health shows to entertainment, devotional material to in-depth news.
The unit was well designed, and the taped instructions were fairly good (though they did not cover several options listed in the print materials). Apparently the company intends to sell the units, and charge a monthly service fee for downloading programs from their satellites to the receivers. (The price and fees are not set yet.) We gave feedback about what worked and what didn't. The independent market research company was professional and clearly interested in our feedback. In addition to already-existing radio programming, Command Audio produces some of its own, and is open to suggestions on the kinds of material people would like to hear. They noted that educational programs are a possibility. Overall, depending on the cost, the system seems promising.
The Foundation for Blind Children (FBC) recently opened its "company store"- selling a variety of useful items for the blind and visually impaired. They carry Braille Dymotape labelers, playing cards, a few games, push-button combination padlocks, labels for cassettes, CD's and computer disks, audible battery testers, and more. While the FBC students and their families are currently the primary target market, the store is open to the public - Monday-Saturday, in the lobby of FBC -
1235 E. Harmont Dr.,
Phoenix; (602) 331-1470.
FBC also administers a brailler repair service.
Your AzCB Board of Directors has launched in-person outreach efforts. December 16 some of us made a presentation to the low vision group at the Via Linda Senior Center in Scottsdale. January 15 we will journey to Yuma. We will visit groups throughout the state as time and resources permit. Please let us know if you have suggestions on how to set up a meeting in your community.
Wishing You Bright Skies,
2000 State Convention Planned
Plans are developing for the annual state convention of AzCB for Saturday, May 6, 2000 at the First Congregational Church, 1407 N 2nd St. Phoenix (just down the street from the old library). Tentative plans include a dinner/theatre presentation. This is a change from the traditional banquet speaker. The live play presentation, "Daisies Are Free", features a blind man and his humorous dating experiences. Mark that date on your new calendar. More details will be available later in the next editions of Fore~Sight.
Erik Weihenmayer Makes Headlines Again!
Did you catch the article in the Arizona Republic Parade section (Oct 31, 1999) that featured Erik Weihenmayer as having climbed the highest peak in South America, (22,834 ft) in February. He led his dad on that climb. Two years ago, he climbed Mt Kilimanjaro (13,000 ft) in Tanzania to marry Ellen. He climbed Mt McKinley (20,320 ft) in 1995. He plans to scale the highest peak on every continent. He will attack Mt Everest in 2001. He runs marathons all over the country and can do pull-ups with his fingers. He was the speaker for the 1996 AzCB Banquet. Oh, yes, Erik is totally blind.
Breast Exam for Visually Impaired Women
Board Member, Ruth Druding, has been participating in a research project sponsored by the National Institute of Health for breast self-examination for visually impaired women. This is an ongoing project. Participants receive a video and tactile model for use in the exam. There is also a follow-up by the Project. ( Are you a woman eighteen years or older? ( Do you read large print and watch television? ( Would you like to learn to be proficient at breast self-examinations in the privacy of your own home? ( Would you like to participate in a national research project to test a new breast self-examination program designed specially foe visually impaired women?
To receive further information about this study, call 1-800-707-4023 or write to Mary Ann Mehn, Ph.D. at Mammaare, 930 NW 8th Avenue, Gainsville, FL 32601. The number of study participants is limited. Because of the amount of interest in the project, the telephone may be answered by the automated system. A staff member's voice will ask you for your name and telephone number. A female member of the research team will call you back to determine if the study is right for you and help you enroll. There is no charge involved. Call Ruth at 623/ 937-1211 if you want to discuss it with her.
Anytime Time is Candy Time!
The AzCB board voted to sell See's Candy bars and Cerretas boxed candy as a fund raising project. The bars are $1.00 each and the 1 pound boxes are $7.00. Sugarfree boxes are also available at $9.00. Call 623/ 937-1211 to place an order. Limited delivery may be available. (Please do not ask me to deliver one bar to Tucson or Timbuktu).
For the past several months, AzCB has been participating in a Vehicle Donation project. There have been ads in the paper, radio and perhaps TV indicating that folks could donate cars, trucks, vans, RV's, trailers, running or not and receive a tax deduction. There is free pick-up of the vehicle. Call 800-320-3746.
AzCBFCU Passes the Acid Test!
Stan Hanshaw, Manager of the Arizona Council of the Blind Federal Credit Union proudly announced that it has passed the auditor's scrutinizing eyes again this year. AzCBFCU is the nations smallest Credit Union but managed by the world's most devoted individual. Hanshaw welcomes new accounts and offers loans at 12%. Office hours are Tues, Wed, and Thurs 10-2pm. Telephone 602/ 279-1510.
Dues are Due!!
It seems like everyone has his or her hand out for money at this time of year. The annual dues for the Arizona Council of the Blind are due at the beginning of the calendar year. Dues are still only $5.00. This entitles you to membership in the AzCB and in the American Council of the Blind, the parent organization. In addition, you receive the Fore~Sight each quarter and the Braille Forum each month. You also are eligible to join the AzCB Federal Credit Union (see related article). If you wish to join the Maricopa Club of the Blind, you would pay dues of $7.00 and receive all of the benefits above. Fill out appropriate form below and send check to the respective treasurer listed.
Meetings to Note:
The Arizona Council of the Blind meets the 4th Saturday of each month (except December) at 10 a.m. at St Joseph Hospital in cafeteria Room A. The meeting is open to everyone interested. Some exciting events are in the works for AzCB in the new millennium.
Maricopa Club of the Blind meets at 2pm on the second Wednesday (note change) at the Arizona Center for the Blind, 3100 E Roosevelt, Phoenix.
Sun Sounds of Arizona Launches New Service
Executive Director, Sun Sounds of Arizona
January 2000 marks a monumental month in the history of information access for print-disabled individuals in the State of Arizona. January is when Sun Sounds of Arizona will begin the beta testing of phase one of a brand new service called Sun Dial.
Sun Dial will ultimately offer the individual user a tremendous choice in the area of information access and all a person will need is a standard telephone. The initial phase will provide individuals who register for the service with access to electronic based newspapers, including such national publications as the New York Times, Chicago Tribune, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Christian Science Monitor, and The Wall Street Journal. Additionally, listeners will be able to access a wide variety of local Arizona publications including:
The Douglas Daily Dispatch, Lake Havasu City News-Herald, The Arizona Republic, The Prescott Daily Courier, The Sierra Vista Herald, The Arizona Daily Star The Yuma Daily Sun, The Arizona Business Gazette, Inside Tucson Business, The Bisbee Observer, The Cave Creek Foothills Sentinel, The Cave Creek Sonoran News, The Chino Valley Review, The Oak Creek Villager, The Payson Round Up, The Prescott Valley Tribune, The Tombstone Tumbleweed, The Tucson Explorer, The Grand Canyon News, The Navajo Hopi Observer, The Jewish News, The Ahwatukee Foothills News and The New Times.
In addition to news publications, callers can access the Rehabilitation Services Administration web page or Sun Sounds web pages to find out more about these organizations and link from them to many other informational web sites.
In the second phase of Sun Dial, individual users will be given additional choices that will include the reading of the daily newspapers, the broad sheet display advertisements or the weekly grocery advertisements and other programs read by Sun Sounds volunteers.
If you are interested in becoming involved as a beta tester in this launch of the Sun Dial system please call Sun Sounds Of Arizona at 602-231-0500 to get registered for this innovative service.
Arizona Council of the Blind Home Page.
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