Fore~Sight the Newsletter of the Arizona Council of the Blind Winter 2008

 

AzCB Convention Watch By Ron Brooks

            With frost occasionally on the ground in the early mornings and snow in the Northern Arizona Mountains, it is hard to believe that spring is just around the corner. But soon enough, the sun will return, and the temperatures will begin to rise, and with the return of spring will come the opening gavel of the AzCB's 37th Annual Membership Convention.

            The AzCB Convention Committee has been at work since last fall planning for the biggest and best convention ever, and we want to give you a short update. We also want to invite you to start making your plans to join us in Phoenix for this exciting event.

            This year, the convention will take place on Friday, May 2 and Saturday, May 3 in Phoenix. We are planning an exciting and informative program and schedule of events. Here are just a few highlights of what you can expect. 2 full days of exhibitor hours Programs dealing with the legislative process and voting rights Programs dealing with technology, cell phone accessibility and inexpensive techniques for making your home more blind and low-vision friendly with lots of great opportunities to meet, greet and socialize with friends and other AzCB members

 

Hotel Information

            The Convention will take place at the Phoenix International Airport Hilton Hotel, located at 2435 S. 47th St. in Phoenix. Room rates are $105 per night, and a limited number of suites are available for $130 per night. AzCB members are entitled to a reimbursement of up to $50 per room per night to offset the cost of staying in the hotel. You can make your room reservations by calling the Hilton at (480) 894-1600 and mentioning that you are coming for the AzCB Convention. The hotel registration deadline is March 15, 2008. After that time, the hotel cannot guarantee availability or the convention room rate.

            Late in February, we will be sending a convention registration packet to all AzCB members as well as to anyone else who requests one. To request a packet, contact Ron Brooks, Convention Coordinator, at (602) 722-3039 or via email at ronlbrooks@msn.com. In the meantime, watch our website (http://www.azcb.org) for more information about our upcoming convention.

 

What's in It for Me? By Barbara McDonald

            As chairperson of the AzCB Membership Committee, I realized that I would have the responsibility of keeping members and recruiting new members. I needed to be able to tell people why they should join the Arizona Council of the Blind.

I thought about myself when I was newly blind. At that time, I had never known a blind person. I hadn't a clue of what it was like to be blind. One day when I was at the DES office, someone (it might have been Dan Martinez) invited me to an AzCB Convention Banquet. I decided to go. I remember sitting at a round banquet table with 9 other people I didn't know. That is where I met Robert Williams, who is totally blind, and his wife, Faye. It turned out that Faye worked at the same school district that I did. What a coincidence! Now, I had a connection. They asked me to join, and I have been a member ever since. That was 12 years ago.

            Throughout those 12 years, I have met several blind people from all over the state. I learned their stories and they learned mine. They became my friends and my support network. I knew if they could live and work as a blind individual

so could I. If I needed advice or assistance, they were only a phone call away. I have learned how important it is to be a role model and an advocate for all blind and visually impaired individuals. I have become part of a family that is growing leaps and bounds everyday. My extended family is not only located in the state of Arizona, but through the American  Council of the Blind, it is now a national family.

            So what's in it for you? When you become a member of the AzCB, you become empowered. You become a member of the American Council of the Blind, our national advocate on issues such as: discrimination, housing, employment, accessible currency, pedestrian signals, websites, and talking ATM's and voting machines, They are publicly trying to change the stereotype society has about blind people. They also promote social, economic, and educational opportunities. So what's in it for you? When you become a member of the Arizona Council of the Blind, you become locally empowered. You get advocacy for statewide blindness issues. You'll have the opportunity to network with blind or visually impaired individuals throughout the state or in your local area.

            The AzCB is supporting the formation of local chapters. A new tech group has been recently established. Social events are being planned where you can hear an interesting speaker, gain information, or just listen or talk to others.

There are also annual educational scholarships. We will continue to have our newsletter and website, but we are currently creating a phone tree and an email listserv so we can disseminate up-to-date information and share blindness issues.

            So what's in it for you? Well, you get all of the above for only a $10.00 annual membership fee. If you know someone who is blind or visually impaired, invite him or her to join us. Then you and a friend can say, "This is what's in it for me!" and enjoy the experiences that I have had over my 12 year membership.

 

Vintage Car Rally By Dan Martinez

            Drivers participating in the Driving Blind Car Crazy Rally will exhibit blind faith, as they are totally dependent on their blind or visually impaired navigators to steer them through a 70mile tour winding through the streets of Las Vegas. Route instructions will be called out to the drivers by their navigators from directions written in Braille. Designed to raise awareness and funds for The Blind Center of Nevada.

            Celebrities will pilot millions of dollars worth of significant collector and classic cars. The rally offers the opportunity for the blind and visually impaired to enjoy the collector car hobby by exhibiting their navigational capabilities and to assist in drawing local and national attention to their unique needs and talents.

            The Blind Center of Nevada is a non-profit organization dedicated to assisting the blind and visually impaired population of all ages in reaching their highest physical, sociological, economic, and intellectual potential. More information about this organization can be obtained at www.blindcenter.org. People that are good braille users will want to participate as navigators in the Blind Center of Nevada's Vintage Car Rally in April of 2008. Others will have great fun as volunteers.

            Vintage, classic, custom and one of a kind automobiles from the "World Famous" Imperial Palace Car Collection in Las Vegas will be used for the rally. All rally instructions will be in braille. Blind and Visually Impaired navigators will give drivers route instructions to each checkpoint. At each subsequent checkpoint they will receive instructions for the next leg of the rally.

            People that would like to participate in or sponsor this unique Historic Event call: Blind Center of Nevada 702 642-6000.

 

BOBBING ALONG WITH BOB By Bob Williams Sr.

            My apology to Ron Brooks for the inadvertent omission of his name from the list of AZCB board members carried in this column in the recent summer issue of Foresight. Ron was elected as one of our eight directors succeeding Larry Wanger at the recent 2007 general membership meeting of AZCB. Ron will be eligible for election to a full term of four years in 2008.

            The 46th annual national convention of the American Council Of The Blind was literally off to a flying start for Ruth Durding and my beloved wife Faye and me as our Northwest airlines flight lifted from the runway of Sky Harbor International airport at 6:58 A.M. on Sunday, July 1 and preceded to climb to its assigned altitude of 39,000 feet and climbing the pilot announced over the intercom that five miles off to our left and flying 15,000 feet below us was a giant 747 super jet transporting piggyback the space shuttle Atlantis from Edwards Air Force Base in California to its home base in Florida. The shut-tle's landing following its mission of ten days to the international space station had been diverted to California due to bad weather.

            Our arrival at Minneapolis St Paul airport almost three nonstop hours later was indeed a real eye opener. Volunteers were everywhere. Throughout convention week the twin cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul really lived up to their recent national ranking as the #1 metropolitan area in the country for volunteers. Adult and teenage volunteers from the Mormon Church and scout troops and adult volunteers from local area Lions Clubs were on hand at the airport and both convention hotels to meet and greet and render assistance to convention attendees throughout convention week from June 30 to July 7.

            Volunteer Fred Jensen of the Hopkins Minnesota; noontime Lions Club provided much appreciated assistance to us at the airport incoming with securing our luggage and ground transportation. Volunteers were also on hand to assist with our departure. Phoenix, the 5th largest city in the country will be hard pressed to match the turnout of volunteers in Minneapolis in 2010 when it hosts the 49th annual convention of ACB at the 1,000 room Sheraton hotel in downtown Phoenix. Incidentally, Phoenix volunteers national ranking this year was #27 so we have a way to go to match Minneapolis - St. Paul.

            The convention theme was Kaleidoscope Of Opportunity, highlighting perhaps the Liberal economic and political spirit of Minnesotans. The convention was dedicated to the memory and spirit of ACB's first financial manager and Chief Financial Officer, Jim Olsen, who died in 2005 after serving ACB for over 27 years. A certified Public Accountant, Jim was totally blind for a time and regained partial sight in his later years following laser surgery.

            The ACB annual national convention was as usual jam packed to over flowing with general assembly and special interest group sessions, tours and all types of entertainment. Total paid and unpaid convention attendance probably came close to 2,000. Convention goers sat through six general assembly sessions and a Friday night banquet. The total list of speakers for the week exceeded twenty. The banquet speaker was a blind member of the House of Lords from London, Sir Colin Low. A graduate of Oxford and Cambridge and blind from early childhood, Low is also Director of the Royal National Institute For The Blind. His speech of about thirty minutes highlighting his experiences along the way from childhood was most interesting.

            Newly elected President Mitch Pomeranz who is also of California succeeded outgoing ACB President Chris Gray of California.

            As members of the national Multicultural Concerns committee Faye and I were privileged to assist in providing leadership at the committee luncheon on Monday and the Multicultural jam on Wednesday night. Both were well attended. Finally, at the risk of inadvertently omitting the name of someone from our Arizona delegation, here's my listing with a humble apology in advance for any oversight. Ira and Marilyn Bossert, Kevin Chinn and wife Janice Williams, Harold and Arie Newsom from Sierra Vista, Arizona, July Brangwin, Pat Collins and Penny Craine, Barbara Krone from San Francisco and Yuma Arizona, Larry Wanger, Ruth Druding, Faye Williams and me, That's all for now folks.

 

AS I SEE IT By Dr. Frank Kells

            BLINDNESS AIN'T THE WORST. They say that life is what happens while you were making other plans. Boy, truer words were never spoken! About three years ago, Janet and I were making some AMBITIOUS plans when, out of the blue, I began having some problems with balance, followed by a nasty fall. The doctor ordered an MRI of my head and sent me to a neurologist. He wanted to eliminate Parkinson's disease, which my symptoms seemed to indicate; he put me on a medication called "Carbi-dopa" for several days The idea was that if it didn't improve my symptoms, then I didn't have Parkinson's. (I must confess, I made two jokes about this doctor? "He found nothing in the MRI of my head" and "it will either work or it won't!"-a brilliant prediction, no?") Anyway, my primary care physician sent me for a second opinion. This doctor took one look at the MRI and gave a diagnosis: "You probably have some atrophy of the cerebellum, the part of the lower brain that controls most of your automatic functions such as overall balance and coordination."

            From my training at the U of A, I knew that this was relatively good news, especially considering the other possibilities. But we agreed that I needed more care than was available in the "Independent Living" section of the Fountains where I lived. We transferred to "assisted living," because I knew that I really needed more help from qualified caregivers. There is no treatment or cure for my condition at the present time except learning to live with it. Meanwhile, I had already had a couple of falls, including one visit to the Emergency Room, where they discovered a hairline fracture of the right shoulder. The doctor recommended regular exercise to maintain range of motion nothing else would help the shoulder.

            My doctor ordered some physical therapy to check out techniques for balance and mobility, but otherwise I was on my own, employing the tricks I had used with disabled clients for years. I would try to practice what I had been preaching -and it isn't easy! Now, eighteen months later, here I am, struggling with the following challenges: Embarrassment at needing caregiver assistance with getting in or out of bed, getting dressed, going to the bathroom and many other personal grooming functions, etc. Reduced strength and control in right arm hand and leg; having to eat, shave, etc., with the LEFT hand Having to go EVERYWHERE, even the shortest distance, in the wheelchair, transferring to and from the wheelchair via walker; waiting (occasionally a long time) for "AUTHORIZED" personnel to push me. Very limited ability to turn my head; right elbow permanently bent, hand doesn't know where it is (dysfunctional proprioceptive sense) Problems with speech (diction and finding the right word), swallowing, runny nose, etc.

            The list goes on and on, BUT MARK MY WORDS - although I continue to be totally blind, BLINDNESS AIN'T THE WORST!! (People only THINK so.)

P.S.: It's great to be back with Foresight - hope you missed me!

 

"Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take,

but by the moments that take our breath away"

 

Talking Pages Online

            Michael Page established Talking Pages online in the summer of 2003. One of his aunts is affected by macular degeneration and is no longer able to read books for pleasure. She enjoys receiving books on tape or CD as presents, but knows that this is an expensive alternative to books.

            Because audio books are expensive Michael developed a non-profit web-based lending library to help make these books more readily available to those with vision issues.

            Talking Pages is a web-based no fee lending library that lends audio books to those who have macular degeneration or other vision problems. Books will be mailed only to users who have provided certification that they are visually impaired. Please see the Free Matter page on the web site for more information.

            Before you check out books, you must establish an electronic library card at: www.talkingpages.org/new_library_cards.asp This card will also let you find out which audio books you have on loan from Talking Pages. To establish a library card, you will need to provide your name, mailing address, and e-mail address, and establish a password. If you are helping a visually impaired person, please provide your e-mail address, but the listener's name and mailing address. To protect your privacy, Talking Pages will not sell this information or release it to any unauthorized parties.

            You can review the library of audio books by browsing through the online catalog, which provides information about each book. A library card is not needed to access the catalog.

 

Chaplin's Pen By Richard Bailey

            Several years ago, I took part in a lecture series that was called "A Course in Miracles". The most important thing I learned from that experience is: "Your physical body is not the Real You! The real you is your heart, soul and spirit."

            So many people in the world today are affected by illness and disease and some are in such pain and distress that they feel like they cannot keep on keeping on. It is comforting to know even though a person is sick and hurting, the real person inside knows that you love them and cares about them and so does our heavenly father.

            When you reach a point in your life when your earthly body is worn out and doesn't function anymore, rejoice in knowing that the "real" you is eternal in Christ and still alive and functioning.

            May we all look to that inner being that will continue our journey in light. Amen

 

A Note From the AzCB President Dan Martinez

            The AzCB Phoenix Chapter, the newly forming Tucson and Technology groups provide a local grass roots opportunity for people to get involved. I invite you to join local chapters with an opportunity to participate in a supportive atmosphere.

We want people who are blind to have abundantly full, personally satisfying, and extremely rewarding lives. In order to make that possible for all of us, we need you to join in and help us change the present state of affairs that limits us form full inclusion.

 

END