Newsletter of the Arizona Council of the Blind

Summer 2011


President’s Message By Ron Brooks

At last Summer’s ACB National Conference and Convention, which the AzCB hosted in Phoenix, I attended a workshop on social media—Twitter and Facebook—something about which I knew virtually nothing. It was in this workshop that I heard speakers talking about how organizations like ACB and AzCB could use Facebook and Twitter to connect with members, to provide more timely updates about meetings and events, and even to meet new members. I remember feeling old, behind the times, confused and skeptical. To me, Facebook and Twitter were fads—something cool and different but something that would not stand the test of time—certainly nothing like the cell phone or email. Fast forward to June of 2011. Today, I spend time virtually every day composing tweets, reading other people’s tweets and retweeting the ones that seem worth retweeting. I’m also spending more and more time on Facebook, updating my status, keeping up with my family and friends and the happenings in their lives, and connecting more often with more people than at any time I can recall.

     Now I’m not one of those people who update my family and friends on what I had for breakfast, where I’ve been and where I’m going on an hourly basis or about what happened on my favorite TV show last night—I have friends in my network who do this, and it drives me to distraction. However, I am starting to see the real power of social media, both as a tool for personal and professional networking as well as for organizations like our own AzCB.

     With that as an introduction, I want to spend some time discussing what I consider to be the key advantages of social media sites like Twitter and Facebook to the more traditional forms of communication like our newsletter and website, and I want to share what the AzCB has already done and what we will be doing in the near future in the area of social media, and my vision for how we will eventually use social media sites like Facebook and Twitter to better connect with our members, our community and the rest of the public. It’s my hope that this article will encourage each of you to see the potential of social media for yourselves and to give it a try—if you haven’t already.

     First, I want to spend a few lines sharing what I believe are the key advantages social media holds over more traditional forms of communication, such as print, email and even the Internet. First social media is, well, social. As a subscriber to Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, or a whole host of other social media sites, you can friend, follow or connect with any person, group or cause, based solely on your own interests, and you can add to, delete from or change your social network with nothing more than a mouse click or the enter key. Once you build your social network (and this can be anything from one person to thousands of individuals and groups), you can instantaneously give and share information, updates, questions, pictures, links to interesting websites, or just about anything else that can transmit electronically. Furthermore, you and your social network can discuss these things—agreeing or disagreeing on likes, dislikes, and everything in-between. Next, social media is fast. You can share the contents of your breakfast, and in ten seconds, people from across your network can be digesting your orange juice and commenting on your choice of brand. Taken together, these characteristics of social networking make it as different from print media, email and even the Internet as white is from black or snakes are from butterflies. Think of it this way. How can you compare a newsletter that takes several weeks to produce and send to a list of subscribers who aren’t updated until the annual renewal campaign, or even the static content of a website that can only be changed by an authorized web master, to a social network which is continuously growing, shrinking and changing, and which is giving, receiving, commenting on, debating and learning from information all in real time? Simply put, you can’t. This is not to say that social media can or should replace other forms of communication. In fact, social media can and should be used to strengthen the other forms already in use, but to tdo his, it is essential to take an honest look at the strengths and weakness of each traditional form of communication.

     For years, the AzCB has considered Foresight as its primary communication channel with members, prospective members and others interested in our mission. Foresight is our best tool for leaving behind information at meetings, conferences and other places where we need to get a message to a broad and undefined audience. Foresight has no limitations on space or design—other than what we can afford. Foresight can be read by anyone, and even if the power goes out, Foresight can be accessible. The problem with Foresight is immediacy. It takes four to six weeks to create, edit, produce and distribute Foresight, and once it’s written and distributed, it cannot be modified. Furthermore, Foresight is a one-way communication tool. People can read it, but we cannot gain any feedback from Foresight—other than the occasional letter back to the Editor or the even more infrequent article in response to a prior article or edition. The bottom line for Foresight is that we need it, but it can only effectively serve the limited purpose of providing very accessible, very portable information for general purposes.

     For the past few years, AzCB has been building, refining and improving its website, Like Foresight, the website is largely a one-directional form of communication—where the AzCB provides information, but unlike Foresight, the content can be updated frequently, and to the extent that we permit it, visitors can offer feedback. What the website cannot easily do is offer a forum for immediate information-sharing and communication, and the website is especially ill-suited for the back-and-forth communication that happens in real-time on sites like Twitter and Facebook. Given these strengths and limitations, the best use for a website is general information, documents (including everything from our Constitution to back issues of Foresight to Convention pictures), the provision of announcements that we want to get to a broad but undefined audience (things like chapter meeting announcements) and for the sharing of links to other relevant content on the Web—these can include groups, organizations, websites devoted to issues of interest, etc.

     In order to facilitate member-to-member communication, the AzCB has established a number of email lists. These are excellent because they allow members to communicate directly with other members on common interests or tasks or on areas of shared interest, like the AzCB itself. The nice thing about email lists is convenience. Emails come directly to each members’ inboxes, and messages can be as short or as long as the subject warrants. Furthermore, email list members can conduct conversations and business without having to wade through a busy Internet website to do so. There is also the potential for privacy on an email list—as these tend to be fairly closed communities, and depending on how the list is moderated, it can be fairly tightly managed.

     So with all of these communication channels, what is the role for social media? Well, I see it as threefold.

     First, because social networks are defined by each and every subscriber to a given social media site, information can flow in many directions very rapidly and with very little effort from the original sender. This is great for AzCB because it means we can announce a meeting once, and everyone who follows us on Twitter or friends us on Facebook can take that announcement and share it with everyone in their personal networks immediately, and in turn, the members of those networks can do likewise. This means that we can get our word out to a very wide audience on almost an instantaneous basis.

     Second, because users can like or comment on content we distribute, they can help to share our message in ways that work for their own social networks but which may not be something we’ve ever considered. For example, if we announce an upcoming event on twitter, someone who is bilingual can retweet our message in English or Spanish or Vietnamese, thereby reaching entire audiences who we could never reach on our own. Alternatively, when we make a straight-forward but conventional announcement on our Facebook page, some younger person from a diverse background can take that message and put a different cultural spin on it, thereby reaching demographics we’re not well suited to reach ourselves.

     Finally, we can use social media to strengthen our other communication channels. Those of you who have spent any time on Twitter or Facebook have undoubtedly seen updates like “Andrew likes the 1920’s Auto show. Check out his photo library at http://www...” or “The National Association of Cat Lovers has ranked the top ten cats for 2011. See their list at http://www...” We can do this too. Imagine this. “The next issue of Foresight is talking about power of social networking. Go to” Or how about this: “The AzCB is hosting a pizza party for anyone interested in public transit for the town of Prescott. Join us for pie and pie-in-the-sky ideas at 321 Main on Friday at 7.” The bottom line is that we can use Twitter and Facebook to drive people to our website, to our meetings, to our events and even to our cause.

     In conclusion, I want to share what we have already done on Facebook and Twitter and what we will be doing in the near future. Beginning earlier this year, our Webmaster, Tom Belsan began encouraging Board members and other organizational leaders to follow AzCB on Twitter, and just recently, Tom established a Facebook page. In the coming months, our Membership Committee will be tasked with the responsibility of working with Tom, the Board and anyone else who wants to get involved on how to best utilize these new social media resources. Of course, once we announce our presence on Facebook and Twitter, absolutely anyone anywhere can be part of that effort, and perhaps that’s the ultimate beauty of social media. You will all be helping us to shape our on-line presence. So for now, stay tuned for more and more on this topic, and in the meantime, start playing with Facebook and Twitter. Once you get past the newness of the technology and the adaptive technology issues (by the way, these sites are fairly user-friendly), you may find that like me, you can never go back to plain old email.


This and Data

If you are a low vision Android user you may want to try IDEAL Magnifier. Available for download usually for a $1, IDEAL Magnifier turns your Android device into a portable video magnifier. It comes with color filter options for grayscale, inverts colors, etc. 

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Editors Note: The following article is an abridged summary of the authors’ original manuscript.


Tribute to Ethan By Thomas L. Hicks

     I first met Ethan November 21, 2003 at the guide Dogs for the Blind (GDB) Boring, Oregon campus. I was sitting down in a chair when my guide dog instructors brought him in to me. He was so excited, but no more than I as he ran over to me and playfully lay at my feet in a ball on his back. He instantly captivated me. Ethan was a Yellow Labrador, but with my low vision, he looked like a little white Polar Bear. He was 25-inches tall from his shoulders and weighed 80 pounds. He acted like a puppy out of harness, but in harness, he was all business.

     Having Ethan at my side completely changed my life and I felt very independent. I was never alone and I never stopped thinking about him. With Ethan in my life there was nothing I could not achieve. We worked hard together during our 1-month training program as I learned how to become a Handler. I will never forget the first time I felt him under the harness. It was like magic and we moved so quickly through all the obstacles in our path. At night time I was totally blind, but Ethan had incredible eyesight and he guided me like a pro. I loved our walks together and he was very quick to learn a new route. He never failed to get me to my destination safely. He was so proud of himself each time he showed me the door and he only lived for praises and pats on his flanks. I never met an animal or human for that matter more dedicated and loyal. All he ever wanted to do was please me.

     I am a Third Degree Black Belt and the Head Instructor for Lim’s Hawaii Kenpo Karate LLC., Power Ranch Community School and I am responsible for leading and teaching 65 students. In the beginning, I would take Ethan with me to Karate class and he would sit and watch me train night after night. He was always on his best behavior, but seeing me get punched, kicked and slammed to the floor stressed him out so I stopped bringing him to class. Not too mention, Ethan was a very cute distraction and all the Karate kids wanted to pet him instead of train. Ethan was always there to support me in all areas of my life.

     For the past seven years, Ethan has been a part of every significant event in my life. He guided me to work and on campus at Western Michigan University (WMU) as I earned my Master’s degree in Vision Rehabilitation Therapy. He guided me through good times and very difficult times.

     On April 23, 2010 I awoke to the sounds of Ethan at 2:00 AM. Usually, when a person is awakened that early in the morning from a dead sleep they’re not happy, but for some reason I was not upset. I called out, “Ethan do you need to go outside Buddy?” I got out of bed and made my way to our bedroom door. Ethan was standing there, but he was not acting normal. I opened the door and he just stood there. I said, “Come on Buddy let’s go outside.” He made his way to the top of the stairs and collapsed on the top landing. He slowly got up and made his way downstairs and out the doggy door.

     I got up at 4:30 AM to exercise and get ready for work. Ethan was back downstairs lying on his side. His tail would thump every time I walked by him and when I knelt down next to him, I felt his paws, which were unusually cold. I thought to myself that he must have eaten something bad to make him sick.

     My wife drove me to my carpool pickup point and told me she would keep an eye on Ethan and take him to the emergency room if he did not get better soon. By the time I got to work my phone rang and it was my wife; she was crying and told me she was in the power Ranch Animal Hospital and that Ethan was not doing well. I started to worry and became very concerned for my friend. I felt helpless and wished I could help him feel better, but tried to busy myself with work so I did not fall apart.

     About 30 minutes later, the phone rang again and it was my wife who said the Veterinarian reported that Ethan’s vital signs were improving, but he was still being closely monitored. I was so relieved at this news and curious why he was so sick.

     Within an hour, the phone rang once again and it was my wife. She was hysterically crying and I knew before the words came out of her mouth that my dear friend was gone. “Tom, Ethan is dead.”

     I was devastated at his passing. I learned later that he was born with a ticking time bomb growing in his heart. He had a cancerous tumor that ruptured that morning. There was no saving him and no way of detecting or preventing his death. Just 24-hours prior to his death he was completely healthy, happy, and acting like his loving self. Ethan had taken me as far as he could in this lifetime and he gave me the very best he had to give.

     Ethan was my first guide dog and probably my life’s best friend. He never complained to me about anything. He was always ready, willing, and able to serve me whenever I needed his companionship or guiding skills. I never thought I would feel this way about an animal, but I discovered in his passing he was more special to me then I ever took the time to understand or appreciate. There is no easy way to say goodbye to a loved one and I refuse to say goodbye to Ethan. He will forever hold a place of honor in my heart.


The Power of the Maricopa Club By Dan Martinez

     The Maricopa Club is a compelling example of the power and influence people who are blind have when they work together to improve their lives.

     In the 1940s, a small group of individuals who were blind and visually impaired began meeting in each other's homes to learn ways to help each other achieve economic independence. The Maricopa County Club of the Blind formed from these early informal gatherings and became the impetus for blindness advocacy organizations in Arizona.

     Initially, the Club conducted training sessions in piano tuning, and mop and broom making. These were some of the few "job trades" available to individuals who were blind during that era. Often over coffee and dessert, individuals would discuss how they accomplished everyday tasks and would share techniques that had worked for them. These gatherings became the prototype of today's support groups.

     By 1948, individuals who were blind from the Maricopa County Club, Zenith Club, and other Arizona clubs of the blind formed the Arizona Association of the Blind. The Association was aliened with the fledgling National Federation of the Blind and was the foundation for the National Federation of the Blind of Arizona, which incorporated in 1984.

     Maricopa County Club of the Blind Incorporated in June of 1958 and in 1964, the Club moved it activities into the Phoenix Center for the Blind, which later became the Arizona Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired.

     In 1961, the American Council of the Blind was created from a rift within the National Federation of the Blind over leadership practices and representative processes, which came to a head during the 20th NFB Convention, held in Kansas City, Missouri. There was a walkout of members that left the Muehlbach Hotel and crossed over to the Aladdin Hotel, where they took part in three organizing sessions on July 6 and 7 that created the American Council of the Blind.

     In 1970, Reese Robrahn asked John Vanlandingham, his former schoolmate and prominent Phoenix attorney, who had also served in the State Legislature and as a Superior Court judge, to start an ACB State Affiliate in Arizona. John with help from Bert and Harlene Stone utilized the long established Maricopa Club of the Blind as a starting point.  By 1971, they were able to organize a state affiliate of the ACB, to be known as the Arizona Council of the Blind.

     Today, the Maricopa County Club is a special interest affiliate of the Arizona Council of the Blind (AzCB) with a focus on social activities and mutual support. The Maricopa County Club of the Blind endures and still empowers people who are blind to change history and to build a better world for themselves and those who come after them.



     In 1912, Arizona’s first state legislature enacted a provision forming the Arizona Schools for the Deaf and Blind. Henry C. White was the first principal, appointed by Governor George W. P. Hunt, and classes began in October of 1912.

     2012 will mark the 100th Anniversary of ASDB. If you or someone you know is a former student of the school for the blind, we would like you to contact us. We would like to hear your stories and remembrances of your school days at ASDB and share them with our members.

     You can send email to: Dan at dmmar@qwest,net or call (602) 273-1510 and leave a message. We will get back with you.


Advocacy By Barbara McDonald

     The dictionary says that to advocate is to show public support for, or recommend a particular cause or policy.

     I think of it, as standing up for others or myself for what I believe is right. Those beliefs are based on my experiences and values, which I have learned and developed over the years.

     You too can be an advocate.  First, think what you want to support or promote. Listen to local news shows or PBS TV to keep up-to-date. Expressing your support or opinion can be as easy as making a phone call, sending an email, or writing a letter. Attend local neighborhood meetings. You might even create community support while meeting your neighbors.

     You can use are website to join a chat list to learn about advocacy issues and hear opinions from other members.  There is even an advocacy page that can help you with finding names, addresses, and communication examples of templates to use when contacting your public officials,

     The Arizona Council of the Blind website is:


New AzCB Officer

     Newly elected AzCB 1st Vice President, Dan Martinez, is a long time member of the Arizona Council and he has served in AzCB leadership positions in the past. He is also the current editor of the Council newsletter, Four~Sight.

     Dan is an Arizona native who has been legally blind since birth due to a form of macular dystrophy. He attended public school in Tolleson, Arizona, his hometown. He also attended the Arizona School for the Blind in Tucson for two years.

     As AzCB First Vice President, Dan will oversee the organization’s efforts in the support and develop of membership, local chapters and special interest affiliates. “Membership is the soul of the AzCB” Dan said, “Members are our power and or purpose.”


A BRIEF Overview By David Steinmetz

The Arizona Council of the Blind (AzCB) has established the Blindness Related Expense Intervention Fund (BRIEF), which will enable persons with disabilities to become more independent or productive members of the community with an improved quality of life.  The BRIEF program is designed to provide a one-time grant for Assistive Technology (AT) to residents of Arizona who are legally blind.

     Assistive technology is defined as any device or piece of equipment that enables people to maintain or improve their functioning at home, school, work or play. This includes both devices and services.

     Assistive technology includes mechanical, electronic, and computer-based equipment, non-mechanical or non-electric aid, or specialized instructional materials. The types of AT devices and services covered under this grant program include but are not limited to: Daily Living Aids, Computer Applications, Visual Aids, and Communication Aids.

     To be considered for the BRIEF funds, submit the following information to

 1  A completed grant application

 2  Statement of what is the expected outcome (goal) from the purchase of the device or service

 3  Detailed description of the device or services needed to achieve the stated goal and how these will be used to achieve the goal

 4  Documentation regarding the cost of goods and/or services. (Documentation should include such information as price quotes, price lists, invoices, etc.)

 5  Proof of blindness as defined by the following:

Central visual acuity of 20/200 or less in the better eye with best correction or a limitation in the fields of vision with the widest diameter being no greater than 20 degrees.


A Little about Me By Ted Chittenden

     Hi everybody! I am one of the two new members on the AzCB Board of Directors, but I doubt that many of you know me very well—it seems I came out of a whirlwind, and unless you knew something about my past, you might have wondered, “Hey, where did this blind nutcase come from? I don’t remember him!” Well, you are about to find out.

     I am actually not a native Arizonan having been born in Glendale (a suburb of Los Angeles), California on June 18, 1963. Our small family, my parents, my blind younger brother David and myself, first came to Arizona in 1971. As a union carpenter, my father was having trouble finding work in California, and we made the permanent move to the Grand Canyon state in late July of 1972.

     It was known shortly after my birth that I was blind. Doctors told my mother that I had a scarred optic nerve. As a child, I did have some sight (I could make out light and shadows), but during the 1990s, I developed cataracts in both eyes that put an end to all that.

     I have had quite an education in various different school settings. While we lived in the Los Angeles area, both my brother and I attended the Frances Blend School for the Blind, the only day school for the visually impaired still in existence in the United States today. After we moved to Phoenix in 1972, I spent four years (4th-7th grades) attending the Arizona School for the Deaf and Blind (ASDB) in Tucson. In the fall of 1976, both my brother and I began attending the local public school, Rose Lane Elementary (it now only goes through 4th grade, but back then, it taught elementary school students all the way through the 8th grade).  In the fall of 1977 after passing a very difficult test, I became the first known blind student to attend Brophy College Preparatory (Tim Connell, AZCB’s current treasurer, had graduated from Brophy that spring, but according to Tim, nobody there knew he was losing his sight).

     After graduating 91st (of 195 sseniors) in 1981, I returned to Los Angeles and went to Loyola Marymount University for four years, receiving a Bachelors in Arts (Communications) degree there in 1985.

     It was while I was at Loyola Marymount that I first began doing things with the organized blind movement. Opting for the National Federation of the Blind (for the scholarships, two of which I got from the California state organization), I soon discovered that that group and I were not always a good fit, and I more or less backed away from the NFB after my 1985 Loyola Marymount graduation.

     In the fall of 1985, I began attending Arizona State University where I received a Masters in Business Administration (MBA) in May of 1990. After graduating, I found myself somewhat at sea. I had always wanted to go into radio since I was a child, but experiences at the local college station at LMU and lessons I learned while attending ASU forced me to realize that a career in that field had absolutely no future—the business even then was heavily shrinking with most small town stations (and some large city ones) opting to get their programming from satellite. With the assistance of Vocational Rehabilitation, I began working as a hotel reservationist for Ramada in December of 1990, and two years later, I was promoted to Inventory Control (a good thing, because I had grown to hate sales and the call center mentality).

     After my father’s death in September of 2001, I considered returning to Ramada (now renamed Cendant) and my old job, but my former supervisor there, a good friend, upset those plans when she emailed me that the company was closing down its Phoenix offices and moving most of the work to India. I then floundered for a bit, taking a brief job as a dispatcher for a plumbing outfit in 2002 for about three months.

     By 2004, I hadn’t had a job for two years, I was having stomach problems, and I was looking for work that I could do at my residence on my computer. In the spring of that year, from out of the blue, came a call from a dear friend who had been the person assisting blind people while I attended ASU back in the 1980s. He told me that the disability office was looking for someone who knew how to read Braille math and science books for a proofreading position. I applied for the position and began working at ASU in July of 2004.

In March of 2011, I was told that my contract with ASU would not be renewed so after June of this year, I will be back looking for new employment. (Fortunately, since 2007, I have also done much of the proofreading of the Braille versions of the AIMS tests all public elementary and high school students now have to take, and that position will continue for the foreseeable future).

While I had gone to a couple of ACB and AzCB conventions back in the 1990s, I had stopped all of my involvement with blindness issues by the early 2000s. It was out of the blue in early 2010 when Barbara McDonald called and asked if I would be willing to be one of the AzCB’s three representatives on the Governor’s Council on Blindness and Visual Impairment (GCBVI). I agreed to the proposition, and shortly after that, I became a full AZCB member. And this year I was elected to the AZCB’s board of directors! I am honored to be considered worthy of such a post, and I look forward to serving the membership in whatever way I can.

     And now, as promised, gentle reader, you know about me.



     The Arizona Council of the Blind wants to acknowledge the following companies and organizations for their kind generosity. They donated certificates, items, and cash, which were used for door prizes at our 40th Annual State Convention.

     Please patronize these companies and affiliates:

Biting Edge Dentistry

Cheesecake Factory

Fry's Food Store

Crowne Plaza Hotel

Denny's Restaurant


Desert Low Vision (Tucson)

Honey Baked Ham



Sun Sounds of Arizona (Tucson)

Guide Dog Users of Arizona

Maricopa County Club of the Blind

Phoenix Chapter of AzCB

Southern Arizona Council of the Blind



     The Arizona Council Of The Blind works to enhance the independence, equality of opportunity, and to improve the quality of life for all blind and visually impaired people in Arizona.


The Fore~Sight Newsletter

Foresight is available in Braille, large print and audiocassette.  Publication is issued Quarterly with free subscription to members of AzCB.  Subscription requests, address changes and items intended for publication should be sent by e-mail to the newsletter editor, Dan Martinez. AzCB is the statewide affiliate of the American Council Of The Blind based in Arlington, VA.  ACB is a national consumer membership organization with more then seventy state and special interest affiliates.  To join AzCB, visit our website and complete an application form.  Or you may contact our office voice mail for a return call.

     AzCB staff and governing board are all volunteers and perform their duties without pay.

     Those much needed tax-deductible contributions should be sent to the Arizona Council of the Blind at the office mail address below.  All contributions are gratefully acknowledged in writing in a timely manner.  If you wish to remember AzCB in your will or if your contribution involves complex issues, please call our Phoenix office voice mail for a return response.


Arizona Council of the Blind

3124 E. Roosevelt St., Ste. 4

Phoenix, AZ 85008-5088


Ron Brooks, President




Daniel M. Martinez, Editor



Arizona Council of the Blind


Become a member of the Council

Your friends at AzCB want you to join us in making the word a better place for people who are blind or who have low vision. Become a member by visiting our website and click on (“Become a Member of the Arizona Council of the Blind or Renew Here”) If you are not a computer user, call us at (602) 273-1510 or if your out of the local calling area (888) 273-1510; leave a message and we will be happy assist you in completing a membership application.

Your $10 one-year membership fee gives you the pride of belonging to both the AzCB and to the American Council of the Blind (ACB). You will also want to participate in one of our special interest or local affiliates. 

     Guide Dog Users of Arizona: (GDUA) is a non-profit membership organization of guide dog users, puppy raisers, and sighted or visually impaired individuals committed to an enhanced quality of life for all Arizona's guide dog teams.

     Maricopa Club: The Club’s primary focus is as the social wing of the AzCB. For more information on how to join our club or any other question email us at:

     Phoenix Chapter: The chapter provides opportunities for blind and visually impaired individuals along with their friends and family to come together to address important issues in our community and to provide social opportunities for chapter members and guests.

     Southern Arizona Chapter: Our chapter’s primary focus is on issues of the blind in southern Arizona. We are growing and would like to invite you to join us. For more information on how to join our club or any other question visit: