Note: The articles in this web version of the newsletter appear in a different sequence than the printed version.
Lessons From My Students Or "Who's Really the Teacher Here?"
By Patty Arnold,
After 16+ years in the field of Blind Rehabilitation, I now find myself in the interesting position of being considered a veteran in the field by some, albeit nowhere near as experienced or as wise as some of my colleagues. I'm grateful for all I've learned from these folks; and in addition I'm sure they'd agree that one of the most exciting and gratifying places to grow as a person and professional is from... you guessed it, our students. So here are a few of my reflections as a tribute to all my "teachers", that is to say, my students.
Attitude is the biggest barrier or the biggest booster to my happiness- I recall one student who was displeased with the way I was teaching him, and instead of coming to me directly to talk about it, went to my supervisor; one of my pet peeves. I remember slowing my thoughts down and reading a poem about attitude that I keep posted on my wall as a reminder in just such cases. I then was able to think more rationally and I and the student and my supervisor sat down together; my supervisor never had to say a word, we worked things out on our own.
A smile can make a huge difference in another person's day. One day I was having one of those hectic days we all get, and was worn and just felt like going home. Of course I didn't, I had students waiting to see me, so I pressed on. My next student greeted me at the door with a huge welcome, and it's interesting how my energy level skyrocketed straight up. Then she began to talk about her feelings about being blind and feeling useless. I listened, but also told her what a difference she had already made in my day, and we proceeded to talk about the things she wanted to be able to do, and how she could learn to do them. I was hoping all the time, she really understood the difference she had made.
Working can be Fun! I love getting a student with a sense of humor. It helps me to have a sense of humor about myself. Kathy (yes, it's her real name; she's given me permission to use it) laughs with me when I make a mistake or mix up my words. We're working on the computer instruction, and no matter how hard I try, I can't remember every single keystroke all the time. But my students have shown me the meaning of lightening up, going with the flow, and having a good time. Learning often comes easier and better too when I do.
Forgiveness is vital. Joan (not her real name this time) and I had a great rapport. One day however, I was dealing with a problem with hives. If you've never had this kind of severe itching problem, feel very lucky. It changed my usually patient personality, so I actually snapped at Joan for no reason. She looked at me with a puzzled look, then asked, "You're not feeling very well are you?" She could have snapped back, gotten defensive decided I was a jerk, or any number of other unpleasant reactions. But she forgave me. Wow, that was a powerful lesson. It's not what I don't have that counts, but what I do have.
I have seen many students who were feeling distraught over their situation with their changing vision, a natural reaction of course. When a student gets to the point where they are feeling good about who they are and what they can do, and not feeling bad constantly about the things they haven't yet mastered, I am truly inspired. Recently when I went through a serious illness, many times I thought back to students who were having a difficult time (from some life difficulty; not necessarily related to vision), but who never gave up. This kept me from giving up, and helped me to think of what I do have to be grateful for.
Are these all the lessons I've learned? No, there's plenty more. Will I learn more? You bet. It's part of what enriches me as a person, and keeps that old "Mr. Burnout" from taking over my life. Thank you to all my students for teaching me!
By Tom Belsan 1st Vice President
As the newly elected 1st Vice President my main responsibility is membership. This is something I have been involved in for several years as the keeper of the address list. What I have learned is that people don't respond easily to membership letters and renewal requests. At this point I really don't know what to do to interest previous members and new people in sending in money to become part of our consumer organization. When people pay money they wish to receive items of greater value than what they have paid. This is why the lottery and sales are places people spend their cash.
What do you get for an Arizona Council of the Blind membership?
* First you get a membership in the American Council of the Blind, we send part of your money to them.
* Second, you get two newsletters, the Fore-Sight from the Arizona Council four times a year, and the Braille Forum from the American Council each month. Both documents contain valuable information about visual impairment and all sides of issues concerning our population.
The Washington office is watching our government and laws to keep us informed about what is happening there. The Arizona Council is on the Arizona Governor's Council to influence our states views of our population.
Just the newsletters are of greater value than your payment and you get more. You get to support Internet Web Sites for the Arizona Council, the American Council and ACB Radio. And much much more.
As I said, I don't know how to get people to pay money to join us, so I am asking all who read this article to make sure your membership is current and to ask others in your circle of friends and relations to join. Yes, I want you to do my job for me. Of course, I will be willing to give you something if you help me. It you can get five new members to join you will receive one year free for yourself. If you are interested please get five applications have them filled in and put them in an envelope with the money and mail to our office. Please put attention membership or in care of membership on the address.
Thomas Belsan KB7NRG
Arizona Council of the Blind Web Page:
A Bone to Chew On
By Ginger Bennett, GDUI
ST. JOHNSBURY, Vt. -
Remember the old joke about the dyslexic agnostic insomniac who lies in bed at night wondering if there is a Dog? He would have felt right at home here, in the mix of godliness and dogginess that makes up the biggest work ever created by Stephen Huneck, an internationally popular Vermont artist and sculptor known especially for the animal themes in his carvings.
At first glance, the building looks like any 19th-century Vermont church, small and white and steepled. "Chapel," it says in front, in great gold letters.
But wait. That winged figure on the steeple - isn't that, could it be, a flying Labrador retriever? And the announcement board out front, instead of listing services, says: "Welcome. All Creeds, All Breeds. No Dogmas Allowed."
Inside, the stained-glass windows depict no biblical images but rather a dog chasing a ball, a dog being petted, a dog wearing a halo. And they offer simple messages like "Peace," "Play," "Friend" and, in the central position, "Love."
The four pews are held up by life-sized carvings of seated dogs, and in the racks that would usually hold hymnals are copies of Mr. Huneck's first book, "My Dog's Brain." On the wall of the entrance hall hang cards and photos of dozens of pets loved and lost, with epigraphs from bereaved owners like "Sam - my best boy waiting in heaven" and "For Bellamy - our first best hairiest friend." Guardians of theological correctness can relax. This is no effort to form. Some kind of canine-ite cult. It is, Mr. Huneck said, just his effort at creating a place of serenity where people can connect with themselves and their dogs, alive and dead. (Dogs are very welcome inside, as they are at Mr. Huneck's galleries in Woodstock, Vt.; Nantucket and Martha's Vineyard, Mass.; Santa Fe, N.M., and Key West, Fla.) "My personal message is that we've all become so distanced from nature, and dogs are an important link with it," said Mr. Huneck (pronounced HEW-neck). "
It's also about dogs: it's saying they can be our guides. They can teach us so much just by their natures. Dogs have an incredible love which they can teach us." There is not only a message behind the chapel, but also a harrowing story.
In 1994, when he was 45, Mr. Huneck fell down a staircase and wound up in the local hospital. There, he contracted adult respiratory distress syndrome, an often-fatal disease, and fell into a coma that lasted two months. His wife, Gwen, barely left his side, and among the inducements she gave him to recover were reminders that he had been planning to begin making woodcuts inspired by their black Labrador, Sally.
"I figured if anything would get him better, that would," she said. "His life is his art."
Mr. Huneck almost died, and indeed stopped breathing for more than five minutes at one point. When he came to, he had to learn to walk again, and he was so weak he could barely turn a doorknob, but he was back. His first woodcut depicted a swimming dog chasing a floating ball. It was captioned "Life Is a Ball." More dog woodcuts followed, and he has since produced three dog's- eye books of woodcut prints - "My Dog's Brain" and two starring Sally, "Sally Goes to the Beach" and "Sally Goes to the Mountains."
Mr. Huneck said his dogs helped greatly in his recovery. The Hunecks, who have no children, have five dogs: three Labs, a golden retriever and a Dalmatian, Dottie.
"They're very, very sensitive, and understood I was ill and wanted to help me," he said. He needed exercise to recover, and when he went for walks in the woods, his dogs would surround him and urge him on, as if he were their puppy.
"Nobody can understand it unless you've been there," said Mr. Huneck, a burly man of part Native American ancestry whose eyes sometimes carry an unusual gleam that might be creative energy or, one can't help speculating, might be a "been there and back" glow. When he works, he said, he shows the finished pieces to the dogs, and "if they sniff the butt of a carving, it's a home run."
One day, an idea popped into his head, as ideas constantly do. "I can see it so clearly," he said. " `Build a chapel for dogs.' With little light bulbs around it blinking." The idea of honoring dogs was not unique. The American Kennel Club has the Dog Museum in St. Louis, and there is a National Bird Dog Museum in Grand Junction, Tenn. There is even an antique dog collar museum at Leeds Castle in England.
But it obsessed Mr. Huneck, and he set about both the design work and the task of earning the $200,000 or so that it eventually cost. Though Mr. Huneck has a staff of about 20 in Vermont alone, and though he works with great discipline, usually from 7 in the morning until 5 in the evening with no days off, he had about $250,000 in medical bills to pay off. At times, Gwen Huneck said, it was a question of moving ahead with the chapel or heating the house. Finally, though, the chapel officially opened this year, on a rise on a 150- acre former farm that Mr. Huneck has named Dog Mountain and outfitted with its own sawmill, wood kiln and generator.
The chapel has drawn no ire from local ministers, Mr. Huneck said, because they can see that it does not proselytize. And it has struck enough of a chord among dog people everywhere that it is already drawing wide publicity and a regular stream of visitors. One of them, Ellen Dennis of Rochester, wept as she read some of the postings on the wall of remembrance today. "It's so comforting to know there are so many other people who feel so close to their dogs," she said. The chapel, she said, "just brings a little bit of reverence to the relation-ship people have with their pets. It really does validate and give comfort to people."
Another visitor, Beth Edwards of Franconia, N.H., said: "I love the thought of the recognition that when your animal passes, it is significant. You need what comfort and solace you can get, just like when a person passes."
The chapel is open every day from June to October, or by appointment. The gallery next door offers a range of Mr. Huneck's work, from $10 T- shirts to $5,000 hand-carved chairs, but entrance to the chapel is free, and Mr. Huneck sees it as noncommercial.
"It's about the psyche," he said. "It wasn't done as a salesroom." It is also, he said, about the love dogs teach. "They jump up on you and give you a kiss," he said, "and what's wrong with doing that with your better half?"
Copyright 2001 The New York Times Company |
Sight-impaired 'see' sensory park's bounty Glendale parcel honors garden
enthusiast Elizabeth Neuse
The Arizona Republic
Aug. 1, 2001
Close your eyes. Now keep them closed for a year and try to remember what the trees and flowers in your favorite garden look like. This is what Paul Bushkin has done since he lost his sight to diabetes last year. Now Bushkin and other visually impaired people won't have to rely on memory.
After six years of planning, a sensory garden designed for the blind and nearly blind has opened in Glendale.
Anyone can visit the park at 55th and Orangewood avenues, but it is geared to help people with partial to complete blindness see the garden.
A bronzed map at the entrance helps visitors mentally visualize what the park looks and feels like, down to the texture of the paths that criss-cross the garden. Landscape architect Kris Flood said that during the design phase, when visually impaired people were asked to feel the bronzed map and describe what they thought the park would look like, their descriptions were right on. "It gave us all goose bumps to know that they could experience it without seeing it," Flood said. Bushkin was an avid gardener and president of the Valley of the Sun Gardeners before diabetes and medication to keep his body from rejecting a pancreas transplant blinded him. He can't work a job, but he still gardens at home, patiently working all day to plant 15 tomato plants, which would have taken him only 2 hours before he lost his sight. "I just get out there and crawl around," Bushkin said. "It's tough some-times, but really, what choice do I have but to keep a good attitude?" He has been part of the committee working for six years to design the park, which honors garden enthusiast Elsie McCarthy.
McCarthy's father was blind, and she, too, lost her sight near the end of her life. She willed $675,000 to a city that would build a sensory garden. She left the job to her lawyer, Peter Van Camp, who, with help from the steering committee, spent most of the six years searching for the perfect site. They finally found the 3/4-acre plot of land in Glendale. Bushkin can walk from his home to the new park by himself. Mayor Elaine Scruggs said the park will be put to good use. "This is definitely one of the city's most outstanding parks," Scruggs said. "I can't believe a piece of land so small could turn into something so wonderful." Katherine Emery, landscape architect for Glendale, commissioned architects Barbara Crisp and Flood to design the park. Emery explained that the park is divided into four miniature parks, each with a different theme based on Native American beliefs, and a water feature for visitors to hear and touch. For instance, the contemplation garden features low stone benches and plants that bloom in the winter.
Plants were chosen so that something is always blooming and to create stark contrasts in color so partially blind people can see the distinction.
Reach the reporter at
or (602) 444-6919.
From the Presidents Desk
by Daniel M. Martinez
"If you build it, they will come."
The prevailing philosophy in blindness for many years has been what I call the adjustment model. People who are blind learn adaptive skills and methods for doing things without eye sight. Once these skills are learned, it is believed that a person can fully participate in most if not all aspects of their lives. It is believed that a person can then compete on a equal basis with their sighted peers and become fully integrated into the community.
Put into practice this model works to some degree. That is to say, learning adaptive skills and methods is a key component for success. However, statistically most people who are blind are still excluded from the social, economic and educational benefits enjoyed by their sighted peers. The missing component necessary to include people who are blind is the
infrastructure, the basic accessible structure of a system needed to support its performance. The infrastructure needed to facilitate the full inclusion of people with eyesight disabilities is characterized by dir ct access to information and services. It is accessible pedestrian street crossings, It is public transportation systems with stop or loading zone non-visual locators and consistent location call outs. It is the availability of descriptive video of television and theater programs. It is full internet compatibility with adaptive technology It is this and more. At its core, it is the basic thought process that considers the needs of people with eyesight and print disabilities in the planning and implementation of systems. With this infrastructure in place we will be able to change the unacceptable exclusion of people who are blind. While it is reasonable for people who are blind to accept the majority of the responsibility, it is also reasonable to expect society to make some changes to support and facilitate the inclusion of people who are blind. It is also reasonable that we give input for what those changes should be, And, we want to let people know that we require and expect to have a supportive infrastruture.
Bobbing Along with Bob
by Robert Williams
The 30th Annual Convention of the Arizona Council of the Blind was held on the week-end of May 11-13 at the Quality Hotel in Phoenix. The convention theme was "Street Smart" focusing on pedestrain safety and accessible traffic signal crossings.
Convention activities were off to a lively start on Friday evening with meeting, greeting and eating spiced up with fun and games. The highlight of the convention was the Executive Director Charles Crawford and his presentations during the meetings.
Dr. Edwin Druding called the meeting to order followed by an invocation by Richard Bailey. Recognition of visitors and members by President Dan Martinez. Dottie Huntley read the proclamation from Mayor Skip Rimsza designating that week-end as Arizona Council of the Blind street smart 30th annual state convention week-end.
Charles Crawford spoke on Safe Streets from the top down. He raised the question, "What happens when we confront situations for which we have not been prepared or the technology or methodology of instruction doesn't really get us safely across the street safely??" He said that every year 5500 Americans die in pedestrian accidents and the statistic indicates that approximately 23 are visually impaired. It is a sobering thought that every two weeks some visually impaired person does not make it across that street.
Election returns tallied (without any dangling or pregnant chads) that Dan Martinez was elected to presidency for an unprecedented 3rd term. Also re-elected were 2nd V-P Edwin Druding; Secretary- Barbara McDonald; Treasurer- Hal Newsom. Current board members elected to new positions were; Tom Belsan 1st VP; Robert Williams 3rd VP; Richard Bailey 4th VP. Ginger Bennett and Wayne Davis were elected to full four terms as directors.
Two concurrent sessions were held on Saturday with Julia Davis of Ariz Rehab Instructional Services with Cathy Carlise of RSA demonstrating sighted guide techniques. The other session with Ginger Bennett presiding witnessed the organization of the new Guide Dog Users of Arizona affiliate with 15 charter members.
The noon luncheon was a working session with longtime guide dog trainer and instructor Frank Lucas from Seeing Eye who spoke on the various types of audible traffic signal crossings and related problems.
Five panelists presented experiences dealing with local and long distance travel as a visually impaired individual. They included Charles Crawford from Washington, Denise Thompson from AZ office of Americans with Disabilities, Tom Belsan AzCB VP, Mike Horan Seeing Eye in NJ, and Gayle Richardson of Guide Dogs for the Blind in Calif.
Officer Jennifer Doty, 7 yr veteran with the Phoenix Police presented her popular self defense for visually impaired in physically threatening situations.
Betty Buxer, Phx Community Forum talked on the local bus transportation and talking signs and an update on Dial-a-Ride.
Cat Webster of Guide Dogs of he Desert responded to questions on issues such as working your dog in hot environments and training your dog to locate accessible traffic signal buttons at signal crossings.
Highlights of the banquet were: President Dan Martinez speaking briefly on truth, polarization of America and inclusion vs denigration; awarding of 7 scholarships totalling $2300; certificates of appreciation to retiring members Gail Irons and Dottie Huntley and finally, installation of new and used officers and board members. Banquet speaker Skip Bingham of RSA encouraged AzCB to "keep pushing the envelope, keep asking for things, keep making demands on society and the community. It is the only way we are going to progress".
Sunday morning hosted by Rev & Mrs Paul Carruthers with Chaplain Dick Bailey leading the singing. Business meeting concluded the activities with the selection of Phoenix as the site for the 2002 convention.
AS I SEE IT
by Dr Frank Kells
I was pleased when Dr Druding, Convention Chairman. asked me to reminisce briefly about the founding of the Arizona Council of the Blind in 1971, thirty years ago. It's also somewhat of a challenge because there are very few of us still around when it was happening.
I would especially like to thank Harlene Anderson and Ruth Druding for helping with many of the details.
When I came to Phoenix in 1964 as director of the Phoenix Center for the Blind, I began to hear quite a bit about a successful blind attorney named John Van Landingham. Among his many accomplishments I heard of his recent service in the Arizona State Legislature. But I also picked up the feeling that John didn't have much to do with blind people, especially the organized blind movement. That was soon to change.
I first met John personally in 1966 when he came to me as a newly appointed Superior Court Judge by the then Governor Sam Goddard. He needed his judge's manual transcribed into Braille. It just so happened that I remembered a contact from my working days in New York who could do such highly technical work. Lo and behold, he was able to provide John with his Judge's manual. This seemed to be the beginning of a lifelong friendship.
At this point we must bring in another important player, Harlene Stone. That was her name back then. She is Harlene Anderson now, as many of you know her. In the 70's she and her late husband Burt Stone, attended the national convention of the American Council of the Blind. There they met a blind attorney who was also a Judge named Reece Robrohn. Incidentally, he later became president of the American Council. Learning that they came from Arizona, he asked them if they knew an old schoolmate from the Kansas School for the Blind named John Van Landingham. Of course they did and Mr. Robrahn gave them a message to take back loud and clear; "Get off the dime, John. We need a chapter started in Arizona and why don't you start one?" Well, that seemed to be all that John needed and went right to work.
First, he got the National Representative of the American Council, the late Durwood McDaniel, to come to Arizona to help him get this new chapter organized. He formed a working committee including Harlene and Burt Stone, Casey and Anne DeLint, Dick and Pearl Bailey, Ruth Bagby (Druding) and that one car transportation system Betty Johnson. Definitely, the most important member next to John was his lovely wife Ruby. You've heard the song "The Wind Beneath My Wings?" She was his eyes, wheels and even his ears. Yes, John had a hearing impairment also. She was his main consultant and John would be the first to admit, sometimes his severest critic.
Using the Maricopa Club of the Blind as a nucleus, they recruited other blind persons from Tucson, Flagstaff and other places around the state. Included were several of John's friends as a lawyer, judge and legislator to add financial strength to the fledgling organization. Thus, the Arizona Council of the Blind was launched with John Van Landingham as its first president and Harlene Stone as the 1st Vice-President.
Later, Harlene became President succeeded by Casey DeLint. Being the man that he was John was not satisfied with starting a chapter. In 1972 he chartered the Arizona Council of the Blind Federal Credit Union, which still serves the needs of many blind persons, their families and friends who couldn't get a loan elsewhere and provided such unique personal services as check writing, bill paying, credit management and many others. All thanks to three consecutive managers beginning with Ruby, followed by Betty Johnson then for the past 10 years Stan Hanshaw.
But wait, that is not the rest of the story yet. John was not satisfied. In a couple years he established the Arizona Council of the Blind Home Industries to take work to blind persons who couldn't travel to Arizona Industries for the Blind. Or other places of employment and also supply them with supplemental income. This project ran into difficulties due to the large overhead and also the marginal productivity of many of the blind workers. Eventually when the grant monies ran out the program was taken over by Cactus Industries another program with a sheltered workshop for people with all types of disabilities.
I think this might be a good time to stop reminiscing. My apology to any Arizona Council pioneers who have been overlooked. I welcome their addition to the list as I finish this story.
Allow me to add a postscript; especially for those who have worked long and hard in the organized blind movement. Back when I was an agency worker, I had the policy of trying to join both groups of the blind; the Council and the Federation. I wanted to be impartial and felt this was a good way of showing interest in the work and opinions of both groups. Now the Council accepted my membership gladly but not the Federation. Yes my dues were welcome but NOT if I wanted to be a member of the Council also I could not be a member of the Federation. When I left the Center in 1970, you can guess which group I joined officially. The Council. I hope this shed some light on how we got started.
Editor's note: If anyone has some additional information or details which were omitted, please contact me-
7628 N 49 Av,
Glendale AZ 85301
There will be a meeting in Flagstaff to determine the feasibility of a North Country Affiliate. This meeting will be at 10:00 on Saturday September 15th in room 112 in the Ponderosa Bldg 92. This is on the corner of Riordan and Riordan Ranch Road. Contact Tom Belsan (480/373-8831) if you plan to go.
On another note, Dr and Mrs Edwin Druding will be conducting seminars on Dealing with Blindness, Macular Degeneration, Depression and Stress in Alaska. More details will be in the Winter issue of Fore~Sight.
Look for information in the next issue of Fore~Sight on the White Cane Awareness Day Walkathon coming up on Saturday, October 27th!
Maricopa Club of the Blind Fall meeting on Wed September 26th at 3PM for the Board and 3:30-5pm for the members. This will be at the Phoenix Center for the Blind 3100 E Roosevelt. Y'all cum!
DUES ARE DUE!!
Well, not exactly, but you might look back at Tom Belsan's offer of free membership for a year with five new applications (see pg 4). Dues have been increased to $10 per year for new members but remain at $5 for renewals. Pay now and save, since National dues are being in-creased for the organizations.
Beat the end of the year hassle and send in your dues now. About 35 people have already sent in their money. Address your envelope to:
Hal Newsom, Treasurer
2550 S Ellsworth Rd, Unit 94
Mesa, AZ 85212
Remember, get five memberships and receive one year free.
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