Newsletter of the Arizona Council of the Blind

Volume 26, Issue 1 Summer, 2010


President’s Message

Well-Deserved Thanks and the Path Forward By Ron Brooks


Dear AzCB Members, Friends and Readers,

Within the first hour of my tenure as the newly elected President of AzCB, Dan Martinez, the Foresight Editor, reminded me that I need to write a column for this quarterly newsletter. Unfortunately, he did not give me a page limit—he may not have known that part of my professional responsibilities include writing business proposals which can be several hundred pages in length.  In future editions of Foresight, I’m sure the Editor will help me to be briefer in my comments, but for now, I have thrown caution to the wind in order to share my personal vision for the AzCB as well as the steps I intend to take to help AzCB move forward.

        Before discussing the future, I want to take some time acknowledging the work and contributions of former President Barbara McDonald.  Barbara served as President from May of 2007 through April of 2010, and during her tenure, she gave tirelessly of her time, energy and expertise.  One example of Barbara’s dedication to the organization was her willingness to work with absolutely every committee to make sure assigned tasks were completed. In fact, Barbara personally attended every committee meeting and conference call that her schedule permitted, and with about ten committees working at any one time, this meant that Barbara was probably working in excess of 20 hours a week on AzCB business.  In addition to her willingness to give so much of her time, Barbara sought always to hear all sides and to make decisions that addressed the concerns of as many people as possible.  This consensus-based leadership style is time-consuming and difficult to manage, but Barbara was committed to it, and her approach meant that we heard more concerns from more members, and ultimately, it meant that we became more democratic as a result of Barbara’s leadership.  Finally, Barbara not only gave to us as a leader, but also as an advocate.

In addition to leading the AzCB, Barbara served on the Governor’s Council for the Blind and Visually Impaired, and she actively monitored, communicated and advocated on a number of national, state and local issues.  One last contribution I’d like to acknowledge is Barbara’s leadership of our state’s efforts to host the upcoming American Council of the Blind Conference and Convention to be held in Phoenix from July 9-17.  This work alone consumed several hours per week for the past year, and Barbara gladly took it on—despite all the other commitments I just mentioned and more besides.  Honestly, I don’t know where she found the time to do so much.  I want to thank her for her hard work, her dedication and the example she has set for me to follow.  I also appreciate the fact that Barbara has not just retired from office to live the good life.  Instead, she has agreed to lead a new committee which will focus on coordination of our legislative and advocacy efforts—an area where we need experience and strong leadership.  Barbara, thanks again!  I’m really looking forward to working with you for many years to come.

        Although Barbara’s leadership will be a tough act to follow, I have spent three years on the AzCB Board of Directors as well as many years leading local chapters, state affiliates, and a variety of committees at the local, state and national ACB levels.  I have also worked in management roles within the transit industry for more than fifteen years.  All of this experience has helped me to develop my own approach to leadership, and I think I am up to the challenge of working with the Board, our committees, local chapters, special interest affiliates and others to help move the AzCB forward.  Therefore, I want to spend the balance of this article sharing my vision for the AzCB as well as a bit of the managerial approach I will strive to use as we move forward.

Growing our Grass Roots – We all live in communities, and each community is different.  Therefore, if we are going to be effective at resolving the issues which are most important to us and the blind people in our communities, we have to have a strong local presence.  For years, the AzCB has talked about increasing the number of local chapters, but we have found it difficult to get beyond Phoenix and Tucson.  One of my goals is to work with any group in the state who wants to form a local chapter or special interest affiliate to do so.  Whether you live in Sun City, Tempe, Flagstaff, Sierra Vista, Lake Havasu City or Kingman, it only takes five people to start a local chapter.  If you find the people, the AzCB will find the time and resources to help you get started.  Once you do get started, we will help you stabilize and grow your chapter.

        Growing our Diversity – We all talk about celebrating diversity, yet our membership is primarily white, primarily straight and primarily over forty.  My goal is to work with the Membership Committee to reach into diverse communities all across Arizona in order to grow the diversity of our membership. My hope is that in the coming months and years, we will be working side-by-side with people from all racial, ethnic and religious backgrounds and that we will truly celebrate all forms of diversity as I believe doing so will make us a more representative, vibrant and successful organization.

        Growing our Influence – The AzCB has so much to offer, but our ability to make a real difference depends on our ability to get our message out to the community at large.  My goal will be to work with our PR Committee to strengthen every avenue of outreach we have (including our website, this newsletter and, all publications and even the way we conduct public outreach at community events) and then to increase the number of opportunities we have to reach out.  Ideally, these efforts will lead to more interest in the organization, more media coverage of our events and lots of new members from across the state.  I also want to improve the quality and timeliness of the information and communication we share with each other because a well-informed membership is critical for helping us to reach out to our community.

        Growing our Funds – Increasing the size and effectiveness of our organization will take money.  My goal is to work with the Budget and Finance Committee to streamline the ways we spend money and with the Fundraising Committee to expand the diversity and effectiveness of our fundraising efforts.  I also want to work hard at getting our scholarship and Blindness-Related Intervention Expense Fund (BRIEF) efforts to be self-funded—meaning that both programs will serve their intended beneficiaries without impacting our annual operating budget.  I would also like to see us use corporate sponsorships and other new revenue streams to pay down the cost of our annual conventions.

        One last issue that is critical for us to address is our approach for the day-to-day management of the organization.  Former President Barbara McDonald did a lot to encourage openness between the Board, committees and membership, but there is more that needs to be done.  We will continue to increase the amount of openness with which we conduct our business.  In addition, I will be working with our Board and committees to develop written policies and procedures which we will follow for such critical tasks as budget development, dispersal of funds, reimbursement of expenses, selection of convention hotel sites, awarding of scholarships and management of membership and financial records.  These procedures will be made available to the general membership so that you can see how we plan to run our business and so that there is accountability.

        The AzCB is only as strong as those members who get involved.  With this in mind, I have made several appeals through our AzCB email lists for you to get more involved—either by starting or joining a local chapter or by letting me know of your interest in serving on a committee.  Thankfully, I have heard from several of you, and I will be putting many of you to work for the betterment of the AzCB.  Nevertheless, there are many more of you who have not stepped forward. … I realize that time is precious, and the AzCB is one of many priorities which we all must balance.  However, if we are going to achieve the goals I have identified in this article, I need as many of you as possible to join with me and to get involved.  Please think about things you’re good at or things you would like to do.  Then, drop me an email or give me a call.  I promise that if you have something to offer, I’ll find a way to take advantage of your generosity. 

Have a great summer.  Please visit the ACB National Conference and Convention.  Please get involved in AzCB.  It’s your organization. Ron Brooks AzCB President

(602) 616-1171


ACB Conference and Convention 2010

The 49th annual conference and convention of the American Council of the Blind will be held in Phoenix July 9-17. This is a great opportunity for AzCB members to enjoy the excitement of “National” with out the expense and hassle of travel. All of the fun, friends, information, exhibits and networking opportunities are available right here in your home state.

        Join your fellow AzCB members at the beautiful new Downtown Sheraton Hotel in Phoenix. General sessions will be held on the third floor and you’ll want to be there on behalf of Arizona showing strong support for the AzCB. For convenient access, exhibitors will also be on the third floor. Special-interest group meetings, workshops and social events will generally be held on the second floor.

        There will be tons of activities and information that will help you in your career, social and personal life. You will gain and share knowledge and insights on the most important issues affecting people who are blind. At convention you will learn more about new adaptive technology, devices and techniques that will be powerful tools that you can adopt and use in your own life. Take time and explore which of these new tools will work best for you. Collect and save materials to take home to review at your leisure or to share with others in your office or organization.

        Bring the kids for a great week of tours and fun in the Youth Activity Center (YAC). YAC trips and activities happen each day, Monday through Friday. YAC opens at 8:15 a.m. Light breakfast, lunch and snacks are provided, and every day includes at least one visit to a local attraction. A super YAC party with games, prizes and surprises is planned during the ACB banquet on Friday evening. Purchase daily YAC tickets on the pre-registration form. YAC activities are planned for children 6 years old and up. Each child in the YAC must register and pay the convention administrative fee.

        YAC registration is also required before children can participate in any events. Important: Parents MUST accompany children to the YAC the first time to sign permission forms. Necessary medications must be supplied each day. Parents will be required to remove children who exhibit uncontrollable or highly inappropriate behaviors. The YAC cannot accept medically fragile children.

        Have questions? Contact Carla Ruschival, ACB Convention Chair, at (502) 897-1472.

        This year ACB will not be sending paper registration forms out to the membership. Register on-line at, by phone at 800-866-3242 or on paper by using a separate form for each person. Make copies if necessary, or request extra forms by calling the national office at (800) 424-8666.

        In the convention hall each affiliate will have an assigned seating location. When you enter the convention room look for the Arizona seating area and come join the AzCB members in a strong show of local pride and solidarity.


ACB 49th Annual Conference and Convention Exhibit Hall Schedule


Saturday, July 10, 1:00 - 5:00 PM, Exhibits open;

Sunday, July 11, 9:00 AM - 5:00 PM

Monday, July 12, 11:00 AM - 5:00 PM

Tuesday, July 13, 11:00 AM - 5:00 PM

Wednesday, July 14, 11:00 AM - 5:00 PM

Thursday, July 15, 9:00 AM - 1:00 PM

Visit the AzCB Booth


Phoenix Chapter Update by Gail Wilt

        At our Phoenix Chapter March meeting we shared tips about products and services our members have found useful.  We also voted to participate in the Diamondbacks 2nd annual Vision Impairment Awareness event, Labor Day afternoon - Monday, September 6 at 1:10, against the Giants.  Tickets cost $13 (normally $15), for bleacher seats. In addition to being a fundraiser, this is an opportunity to represent the blindness community.  (See order form.) 

The Phoenix Chapter will take a break from business meetings until September 28.  We will have a get-together in August - an ice-cream social and DVS movie.          (602-337-8190)




WHAT: Phoenix Chapter of the Arizona Council of the Blind is selling tickets to a diamondbacks game for Vision Impairment Awareness day

WHEN: September 6, Labor Day

WHERE: Chase Field

TIME: 1:10 P.M.


Come and enjoy hot dogs, fellowship with friends, and a great baseball game against the Giants!!!

Visit WWW.AZCB.ORG for more info


Let Me Introduce Myself By David Steinmetz

        I am David Steinmetz and I am the newest member of the AzCB Board of Directors. I am extremely fortunate in having been able to achieve personal and professional success and I believe in giving back to my community so that others will have opportunities to create their own successes. That is why I belong to the AzCB.

        I am a long time member of the Guide Dog Users of Arizona (GDUA), I am a past Board of Directors member of Guide Dogs of the Desert and a founding member of Guide Dogs of the Desert of Arizona (Hot Paws), a local group devoted to providing educational awareness of guide dogs and doing fundraising activity for Guide Dogs of the Desert.  I am currently a committee member of the Arizona Governors Council on Blindness and Visual Impairments, where we provide public education on blindness related issues.

        As Administration Manager for Arizona Industries for the Blind, Distribution Services Unit, I lead a team of professionals who are responsible for collecting, analyzing and reporting contract compliance data, providing quality customer service, and recommending continuous improvement opportunities to senior level management.

I received a Bachelors degree from Arizona State University in Business Management with a focus on small business.  I have participated in the Business Management Training (BMT) through National Industries for the Blind, and in 2008 I had the honor of being the national recipient of the Milton J. Samuelson Career Achievement Award. It is my pleasure to be of service to the membership of the Arizona Council of the Blind.


My Appreciation By Barbara McDonald

        I wish to thank all the members of the Arizona Council of the Blind for giving me the privilege of being the AzCB President for the past two years.

        It was a remarkable experience and presented me many opportunities that I would have not had otherwise.  I learned about the American Council of the Blind, and how they advocate for people who are blind or visually impaired at the national level.  I communicated with many members throughout the United States as well as Arizona.  I participated in board training and used that knowledge to establish committees and goals.  I attended meetings to represent the views of all members.  Most importantly, I was a resource for the blindness community of Arizona, and I am proud of the things I accomplished for them.

        Of course, I could not have accomplished anything without the help of the other officers, directors, committee chairs, and members.  To all of you; my sincere appreciation for your support for the last two years.  I am sure you will continue to support our new president, Ron Brooks in the way you supported me.


National Convention Door Prizes or Auction Items

Maybe, tucked in your closet is something new, (not clothes) which you are never going to use.  The local host committee for the ACB National Convention is still looking for items to be donated. 

Door prizes should have a value of $20 to $25.  Auction items should be new or considered a collectible with a value of $25 or more.

        Please contact Barbara McDonald at 602-285-0269 or Arie Levels-Newsom at 602-647-0411.


Stagnation By Sharon Booker, Membership Chairman

        Leave a plant in a pot of stagnant water and it will die.  Leave a fish in a stagnant pond and it too will perish.  Leave an organization; no matter how strong it seems now, without new membership growth and it will also pass away. Without organizational growth, present members grow tired of filling the same chairs and shouldering all the responsibilities.  So either they quit or if they don’t quit they will eventually all die off.

        Our local Southern Arizona Chapter (SAC) was started because dedicated old timers like Frank and Janet Kells wanted to see a chapter encompassing Tucson and the rest of Southern Arizona. But while Frank is now gone, Janet is still ably shouldering responsibility as our vice president.  With the help of our new president, Mitzi Tharin, we are beginning an outreach program so new members can be encouraged to join us.

        Without growth and member participation, the life waters of he Arizona Council of the Blind could stagnate. We have many dedicated persons who give many hours in every week to the furtherance of our Council’s goals.  Now we need to reach out and become more all-inclusive.  We need young members with new ideas and enthusiasm to step up to the plate.  We need members of diverse culture and lifestyles to join our organization and bring new perspectives.

        As the new chairman of the Membership Committee, I will present some new ways to both stimulate the enthusiastic participation of our present members and encourage the formation of new AzCB chapters throughout the state. I need your suggestions for growth as well.  So, will you please join me?  My committee and I look forward to your participation in making the AzCB chapter of ACB a vibrant and viable force for the good of blind and partially sighted individuals and their families in our state.

Sharon.Booker@AZCB.ORG (520)399-9326, if no answer, leave message.


Volunteers Still Needed

        Volunteers are still in need for the 49th ACB National Conference and Convention which is going to be held at the Sheraton Phoenix Downtown Hotel from July 8 to 18, 2010.

        Volunteers can welcome guests at the airport, act as guides on tours, guide people to meetings and the booths in the exhibit hall, read and complete forms, and help with child care.

        Please inform the members of your church or groups about this.  I am sure they will find it a rewarding experience.

        There are three ways to register to volunteer:  You can register on the ACB website, which is, or you can contact Sally Benjamin, the volunteer coordinator at or call her at 877-268-3664.  Register now, and don't forget to mark your calendar.


An Invitation from CCLVI

        CCLVI is the Council of Citizens with Low Vision International (CCLVI). We are thirty-one years strong within ACB and we would love to have any and all visually impaired folks from the Phoenix area come to our conference within the ACB convention from July 10 to 17th.

        Our program will be posted soon at and on We have a thriving Facebook page and monthly discussions led by Dr. Bill Takeshita, blind himself, talking about issues facing persons with low vision. We are strong and want new and curious members.

Richard Rueda 1st Vice President Council of Citizens with Low Vision International


Bobbing Along With Bob By Robert L. Williams Sr..

        The American Council of the Blind is an organization rich in it’s diversity. We are diverse in color, gender, backgrounds, ideas, thoughts, and experiences. The ACB Multicultural Affairs Committee promotes and celebrates diversity in ways that stimulates understanding, appreciation and respect for one another’s differences. Through respect and understanding the ACB is an inclusive organization strong in unity and able to speak on subjects of common concern with a united voice.

        Membership on the ACB Multicultural Affairs Committee is made up of about twelve Persons from seven states including Faye and me from Arizona.  The theme for the committee’s Annual luncheon on Monday of ACB National Convention week this year in Phoenix is “Maintaining and Building on our Diversity”.

        The luncheon speaker will be our own Daniel M. Martinez.  The luncheon runs from 12:30 to 1:30 P.M. and will be followed immediately starting at 1:30 P.M. by a panel on diversity with Dan as moderator and featuring three Native American employees from Arizona Industries for the Blind who are themselves blind and representing three different Arizona tribes.  “While most people think of the American Indian as homogenous or one-dimensional, there are well over 100 separate and distinct tribes with a wide range of cultural value system differences.  I have spoken to three co-workers from three different tribes who are willing to speak to the group.  Each story will be distinctive because of the cultural context in which it was experienced,” says Dan.

        Admission is free for the panel program.  There is a charge for the luncheon.  Representatives from the City of Phoenix Human Relations Commission have also been invited to both activities.  Dan, Faye and I hope to see you there.



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.


Foresight is available in Braille, large print and audiocassette, half-speed.  Publication is 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.  Thanks for remembering the Arizona Council Of The Blind and sharing this newsletter.

Office Mail: 3124 East Roosevelt, Suite 4 Phoenix,  AZ 85008 602-273-1510

Ron Brooks, President 602-616-1171 E-mail:

Daniel M. Martinez, Editor 623-873-1378