The Iron's in the Fire
By Gail Irons, First Vice-President
Hi, folks. As your new 1 st Vice-President I am now the Membership Chairperson. This means more than overseeing
applications and renewals. As I view it, this position can serve as a focal point for input from YOU. How are we doing as an organization from your perspective? What changes would you like? What interests, needs and concerns do you have that your Board of Directors and fellow AZCB members might be able to address? We plan to be sending each of you a survey in this regard.
What's on your mind? You may have information to share, handy hints, reports of instructive and/or amusing experiences, announcements of upcoming events, etc. Our newsletter is our "Forum. We need contributions to make it the dynamic tool it can be.
If you would like to contact us in Braille or on tape, please use the following address:
Gail Irons, Membership Chair
3719 W Cavalier Dr
Phoenix, AZ 85019-1717
(For print materials and correspondence, use the address on the news letter).
President's Fireside Chat
By Dan Martinez, AzCB President
I want to offer some of my answers to the question I get asked more often than any other as president of the Arizona Council of the Blind. That question is. What does the AZCB stand for? What is AZCB's philosophy? What makes the AZCB different from the NFB? Although this question has been posed in three different ways, it's really the same question, and I answer this question borrowing from the writings of Paul Edwards the president of the American
Council of the Blind. Some are his words, while some are mine. Yet, whether they are his words or mine they do, I believe, help the reader gain some insights into what the Arizona Council of the Blind is at our core.
We are defined by our core values, a fluid set of beliefs and assumptions at the heart of what the AZCB is. Here are some of our core values:
It is OK to be blind. As people we
are not diminished by blindness,
rather it is the circumstance in
which we find ourselves. It carries with it a whole set of other ancillary values. First and foremost, we are people. No one is greater or less than we are. People who have meaningful vision loss are blind. Blindness is much more than just a nuisance. We can and should expect society to make changes that facilitate the inclusion of people who are blind. And, it is reasonable that we give input into what those changes could b~-
Another core value of the AZCB relates to expectations. We are absolutely convinced that there is not a one-size-fits-all "blind person"
or that there should be.
While there are social and political reasons why some would want people who are blind to fit a specific publicly
acceptable image, it is simply not a fact. AZCB values diversity and is tolerant of people who are at various levels .,of independence. We champion good training and expect a lot from our members. Yet, we embrace people at various levels of competence and try very hard not to be judgmental about where people are.
Cooperation is one of our core
values. Through cooperation we
foster win-win relationships. Being
confrontational and adversarial has
its place, however that's not
where we start. Meaningful change cannot be forced it is nurtured.
Working with and through others we are able to encourage lasting change and gain synergy through the dynamics of
And then there is democracy. The
Arizona Council was formed, in
part, because those who created
our organization believed that
individual members had to have the
right to express divergent opinions
without being penalized.
So, another core value of AZCB is
the notion that there must be room
for a broad range of beliefs within
our organization. The idea of an
organization decreeing a party line
that members must accept is loathsome, to most of us. Our organization exists
to serve its members.
Editor's Note: Dan Martinez and/or the editor would welcome comments about this article Use the address on the ForeSight Newsletter.
State Convention 1999
May 1, 1999 - Foundation for Blind Children and Carlos O'Briens Mexican Restaurant, these were the places where the action was during the AzCB State Convention on May 1 st. The theme "Education Y-2K 11 attracted approximately 50 people interested in what the future holds for the blind and visually impaired. Ed House, Manage r from Az Services for the Blind spoke of the changes planned for his department. Joan Ellis addressed the issues of Independent Living Skills. The future plans of the Az Center for the Blind was discussed by a representative from the Center. "Coping with Blindness" employed a panel consisting of Duke Stone, Pearl Bailey and Barbara Kron. The moderator was Ruth Druding. Dan Martinez, President of AzCB discussed the present and future of Arizona Industries for the Blind. The progress of the Tactile Garden planned in Glendale was presented by Richard Bailey. A tour of the Foundation for BlInd Children was conducted by children in the summer program. This experience was a true example of "the blind leading the blind . Everyone appreciated this one-on-one experience. The banquet was held at near by Carlos O'Brien Restaurant where Guitar and vocal music was presented by Charles Thayer. The annual ACBFederal Credit Union report was read by Robert Williams. Plaques were presented to Fred Kent and Steve Dunham for long time service to the credit union Scholarships were presented to three applicants, Nicole Latzo, Aron Garrison and David Kurtz. Nikki and Aron will be attending ASU and David will be going to University of New Mexico. (See following article)
Tom Belsan claims that he felt he had encountered a typo error when he was reviewing the applications for scholarship. "This guy claims he attended college in Chicago from 1930 to 1934. He probably hit the wrong key! 91 Then on observing the Date of Birth on the application it showed that he was born in March 1909! And he did indeed have a degree in engineering. Now he has been accepted for his Masters Degree at UNM. His resume states that he had been an architect, airplane designer and metallurgist. He expects to get his MS in Biology in 2002! Then he will start looking for a job at the age of 97! AzCB wishes him continued good grades and health.
Council Going Web
By Tom Belsan, Wwwebmaster
Did you know that the Arizona Council of the Blind has a Web Page?
It is at http://aztec.asu.edu/azcb/ and is a great starting point for launching into
an Internet session. If you don't like the background music then connect to http://aztec.asu.edu/azcb/index2.html.
* Do you need information about the ADA~ We have a link to the ADA Web Page.
* * Would you like to go to the American Council of the Blind Web Page? We have a link to that address also.
* Would you like to see what the Web has in Arizona for the blind? Then look in the Arizona section of the page.
* What Vendors do you use for your canes, speaking software, or other blindness related products? Look in the Vendor area of the AZCB Page.
* Would you like to find out about a group like Recording for the Blind or the American Printing House? Again We have links.
* Want information about guide dogs or newspapers around the country or have a question? We are the place to start. . Please give the Arizona Council Web Page. a try and tell us the bad and good about the page. Every section of the page has a link to send mail to us and we really need your help to make the page what you need and want. Soon there will also be a link for counseling for someone losing their vision or families of blind individuals.
Regards, Tom - KB7NRG
Arizona Council of the Blind Web Page is at http://aztec.asu.edu/azcb
NEWS NOTES FROM THE NATIONAL OFFICE. For the week ending July 16, 1999.
* FCC takes historic access step! The days when you hit that menu button by mistake on your cell phone and found yourself enabling all kinds of settings that you never intended to do may soon be gone! This thanks to the releasing of a rule from the Federal Communications Commission that implements Section 255 of the Telecommunications Act. In brief, the rule will provide for accessibility to visual menus and other features of telecommunications equipment. There is no question that ACB had much to do with this. Our face to face visits with the Commission decision makers, our great work of Debbie Cook in planting the seeds of solutions, our super cooperation with AFB in presenting a united front and our support from our friends in the deaf community worked real miracles in both educating the FCC, forming agreements with industry and combating those who have no interest in accessibility. Congratulations to all!
ACB National Office to launch older blind program!
We are pleased to announce that our grant application to launch a program of putting the consumer view in the drivers seat for services to elderly blind folks has been successful! Soon the national office will announce a job opening for a part time person to work with Metropolitan Washington blindness agencies to educate elderly blind folks to the fact that their lives not only go on, but can be full and rich from a consumer perspective. Our goal is to let folks know that they need not spend their remaining years looking for a cure, but they can get right back to living a full life with the consumer view and help of other blind folks.
* Japanese accessible voting machine viewed at ACB.
We had a great treat this week as we were shown a voting machine that talks like a charm and allows the blind voter to cast their ballots in full privacy! All you do is insert a card you are given, listen to your options on earphones, press the telephone number pad that has braille on it and you are all done! Not only that, but the machine is currently priced at $1,500, which is substantially lower than other options. ACB is helping the developers from Digital Corporation of Japan to improve the machine and this may well be a forerunner to the future!
* First mailing of strategy document e-mailed to affiliate presidents.
The ACS principles of consumer cooperation will soon be delivered to state agencies by our affiliates across the land. We agreed at our affiliate presidents meeting that a strategy document needed to be produced and it was done last Monday. We electronically mailed it to affiliate presidents on Tuesday and while many arrived, there were some e-mail addresses that had changed. We have collected the corrected addresses and will send out the materials again this Monday after correcting the mailing list. * Those presidents without e-mail and those wishing alternative media will also receive the strategic document in their preferred formats.
* ACB asked to help with access to U.S. Senate.
We have received a request for information from a staffer within the U.S. Senate on how to make the Senate fully accessible to blind folks and others with disabilities. this may take some time and we are committed to assisting this staffer with the tools he will need to get the job done.
* ACB consults with North Dakota on best service system configuration.
Hats off to the North Dakota state legislature for trying to take a positive look at how to best assist blind folks in that state! A bit different than other states who seem to want to make everything generic. ACB consulted with our North Dakota state affiliate and a major representative of their current system to explore where we might go with this. It's looking good and a great big pat on the back to North Dakota ACB!
* National office gets child labor?
Hey! We got a brand new worker and she's less than two weeks old! Patricia Morrera from our Affiliate Services Unit had an 8 pound baby girl named Vanessa and we are all so very proud ' . of mom and our newest office member.
*ACB sends op-ed piece to Baltimore Sun on ped death.
After the tragic death of Bethel Mines and critical injuries to her husband Raymond in Baltimore last Monday, ACB, sent an editorial to the Baltimore Sun newspaper on pedestrian safety. We. are not aware of the condition of Raymond at this point and while neither he nor she are members of our Maryland affiliate; we believe it is of the utmost importance that ACB express the concern of all blind folks for increased attention to pedestrian safety. The opinion piece looked beyond the issues of audible traffic signals to the larger issues of pedestrian safety and we are hopeful that this will further the awareness of the general public to the fact that far too little priority is being afforded to this issue by our society and our decision makers.
*Kentucky 2000! Get ready gang!
Work is already starting to form up for the next ACB national convention in Louisville, Kentucky. Stay tuned throughout the year as we build the best convention in ACB history! What better way to start the new millennium? Your national office will devote major staff resources to this priority throughout the year and our goal is to see every ACB member who can possibly make it to Louisville, leave with a sense of delight for the experience they had!
*THE NEW KILLING FIELDS:
On June 12, 1999, Bethel Mines and her husband Raymond were struck by a delivery vehicle that left Bethel dead. Raymond now lies in the hospital in critical condition. Six months ago a man in Virginia named Joe was killed by a cable company van. Less than a year ago Carolyn Garret who lived in Texas was struck and killed on her way to a Christian School where she was studying to be a counselor. All of these people and many more who could be mentioned had one thing in common; they were blind. Moreover, each of them had lives and families. Each of them had their joys and sorrows like the rest of us and each of them died in America's new killing fields as they simply dared to cross an intersection. Each year approximately 5,000 pedestrians die from being struck by vehicles. When viewed over time, this is roughly the same rate of killing of our soldiers in Vietnam. How does our public reaction differ? Remember how hundreds of thousands marched on Washington and conducted massive rallies around the nation to protest the war? Now today, how many have rallied to protest this killing? The American Council of the Blind is a national consumer organization that has been working day and night to prevent as many needless deaths of blind pedestrians as we possibly can. The disproportionate rate of blind and visually impaired pedestrians being killed or maimed has caused us to work with traffic engineers and other pedestrian groups to stop carnage. While we have made some real progress in getting public officials to recognize the value of accessible traffic signals that can be located, heard and used by blind folks, and while our law suits have gotten safety warning strips at subway and other platforms; more and more pointless deaths will happen until our society truly considers the following. We have surrendered our communities to faceless bureaucracies and distant politicians who orient themselves to the ever growing demands of vehicular traffic and urban sprawl. Their decisions are made to move traffic along with ever more complex intersection design and with ever decreasing attention to the pedestrian infrastructure. From so called round-abouts, where pedestrians have to make eye contact with drivers and "claim the intersection" 7 to multi-angular crossings with complex traffic patterns; these decision makers consistently put pedestrians at risk. A truly lethal gamble that only increases with blindness. Why do we let it happen? Until our child, parent, spouse, relative or friend is struck; it's just a tragic accident. Combine this with disappearing sidewalks where folks once met each other as they walked and talked as neighbors, and it is easy to understand how we simply continue to lose the personal contact with each other that once reinforced the fabric of our society and gave meaning and action to concern for others. Now we rely upon more impersonal ways of communicating that distance us from the full realities and make tragedy an abstraction. We can never fully stop all pedestrian accidents. We can however re-engineer our environment to prevent the bulk of them and rebuild an America based upon people knowing people. For all the folks who have died and for those who remain at risk, isn't it time we do it? We can get in touch with our local politicians and ask them about why sidewalks are not available? We can get in touch with our local traffic engineers and ask them what they are doing to create accessible signalized intersections for blind folks and safer traffic patterns for all? We can get in touch with our community leaders at our churches and philanthropic organizations to ask them how we and they can make a difference. We can most of all get in touch with ourselves to ask the question; do we ~ care enough to stop the killing and help rebuild our community? The American Council of the Blind and other pedestrian safety groups cannot bring back Bethel, Carolyn, Joe or all the others. We can however, ask you to join with us in protecting and celebrating life and community rather than looking the other way. Call us in Washington at (202)-467-5081 or visit our web site at WWW.ACB.ORG and take a look at our pedestrian safety link. Please help. It's not just blind folks who are relying upon you. It's children, everyday adults and seniors who need a safe community in which to grow, contribute and live.
Charles H. Crawford. Executive Director. American Council of the Blind
National Convention News
The 38th Annual convention of the American Council of the Blind was held July 4-9 at the Airport Westin in Los Angeles. Thirteen and a half persons attended from Arizona Council. (Ms Kron spends 6 months in California and 6 months in Yuma) The attendees were Dan Martinez, President, Ruth and Tom Belsan, Arie Levels, Hal Newsom, Mary and Dave Rutledge, Shirley (?) their driver, Tom Chittendon, John Hunter, Ruth and Edwin Druding and their granddaughter, Vanessa Bagby (Age 7).
As always, the meetings were loaded with information. Speakers from various nations spoke of developments for the blind in their country. Australia has had talking crossing signs for the past 20 years as a general policy. Discussions regarding a separate agency were presented indicating a 25% more expense but greater percentage of cases closed.
Election of officers retained Paul Edwards, a professor at Miami College as president. Brian Charlson re-elected as 1 st Vice president; Pam Shaw as 2nd Vice president; Cynthia Towers, an elementary school teacher re-elected as secretary and Pat Beatty re-elected as treasurer. Pam Shaw's board position was filled by Sanford Alexander. These folks are only names to most of us, but they are vital and serve a very powerful force in this, the largest consumer organization of and for the blind community. Check the national' web site for daily up-dates on actions (See related article elsewhere in this issue).
A report by the "Lion King" newly elected president of Lions, International reported that the project for the past 6 years of Lions Eye Glass recycling has resulted in distributing 60 million pair of glasses free in 1998. They have worked to have the second week of October declared as "Sight-Saving Week"
Discussions about Social Security caught the attention of many folks. Changes in the processes and how much a person can earn are important. (Contact your local SS office for details)
Audible or Talking signals at intersections were discussed by engineers and by consumers alike. Some signals are actually confusing to a blind person and modifications need to me made. A signal installed at the crossing in front of the Westin (thanks to Mitch Pamerantz) chirps until it is ready for pedestrian crossing then it announces "Crossing light is on to cross Century".
The ACB Convention for 2000 will be in Louisville, KY July 1-8. Several of the officers of the Arizona Council have made their reservations already.
As noted in an earlier item in this issue, traffic engineers are dedicated more to flow of vehicle traffic and therefore find that "turn-abouts" aid in the flow of traffic but are a hazzard to the pedestrain whether sighted or blind.
AzCB board meets every 4th Saturday of the month at St Joseph Hospital in Cafeteria Meeting Room A from 10 AM until 12. Everyone welcome.
Maricopa Club of the Blind meets the first Tuesday of the month starting September 7th at 3pm at the Arizona Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired, 3124 E Roosevelt, Phoenix. Dick Bailey, President (623) 939-8785.
Arizona Council of the Blind, Inc
7628 N 49 Av,
Glendale, AZ 85301-1512
Letter to the Edittor
Hi. I noticed in the Fall Fore-Sight that people are needed to read books, newspapers, etc for the blind. I am interested in doing this. My mother lost her sight to macular degeneration and I.. know the value of talking books. I am a retired elementary teacher 58 yrs of age. Can you refer any information on being involved in reading? Sincerely Karen Tousignant, 1110 S Hwy 80#126, Benson AZ 85602
Comments or suggestions about
Fore-Sight should be addressed to:
Edwin Druding, Editor
7628 N 49th Ave,
Glendale, AZ 85301-1512
Phone (623) 937-1211.
Arizona Council of the Blind Home Page.
Send mail to Tom