Fore~Sight

Newsletter of the Arizona Council of the Blind

Volume 25, Issue 4, Spring, 2010

 

The 2010 American Council of the Blind National Conference and Convention By Barbara McDonald

       This year Arizona residents will have the unique opportunity to attend the ACB National Conference and Convention without traveling faraway.  It will be held at the Sheraton Phoenix Downtown Hotel, which is located at 340 North 3rd Street.  The conference and convention will begin on July 9, and last through July 17, 2010.  Call for your reservation today at 602-262-2500.  Mention that you are interested in reserving a room for the American Council of the Blind Conference and Convention. The rooms are approximately $100.00 a day and this is with tax included.  Of course, you do not have to stay in the hotel to attend the conference.  Pre-registration will begin in May, and this may be done in print, by telephone, or on the website.  The registration fee is only $20.00 for the entire conference or $5.00 if you only want to attend one day. 

       Your best source of information is the Braille Forum (March, April, May), or the website at www.acb.org.  The following is a general overview.  You may want to arrive on July 8 if you are interested in taking an all day tour to the Grand Canyon, which will begin at 7:00 a.m. on Friday July 9.  There are tours that are scheduled every afternoon accept on Friday, July 16, which is a day reserved for election of board members, changes to the constitution and by-laws, and the evening banquet.    There even is a tour on Saturday, the 17.

This year Arizona residents will have the unique opportunity to attend the ACB National Conference and Convention without traveling far away.  It will be held at the Sheraton Phoenix Downtown Hotel, which is located at 340 North 3rd Street.  The conference and convention will begin on July 9, and last through July 17, 2010.  Call for your reservation today at 602-262-2500.  Mention that you are interested in reserving a room for the American Council of the Blind Conference and Convention. The rooms are approximately $100.00 a day and this is with tax included.  Of course, you do not have to stay in the hotel to attend the conference.  Pre-registration will begin in May, and this may be done in print, by telephone, or on the website.  The registration fee is only $20.00 for the entire conference or $5.00 if you only want to attend one day. 

       Your best source of information is the Braille Forum (March, April, May), or the website at www.acb.org.  The following is a general overview.  You may want to arrive on July 8 if you are interested in taking an all day tour to the Grand Canyon, which will begin at 7:00 a.m. on Friday July 9.  There are tours that are scheduled every afternoon accept on Friday, July 16, which is a day reserved for election of board members, changes to the constitution and by-laws, and the evening banquet.  There even is a tour on Saturday, the 17.

       The 49th ACB Conference and Convention planning started a few months after the national convention in Orlando, Florida last year.  Three committees and their members: the national planning committee chaired by Mitch Pomerantz, the national host committee chaired by Carla Ruchival, and the local host committee chaired by Barbara McDonald have spent a tremendous amount of time to put this event together.  You won't want to miss this opportunity.  Mark your calendars and start your planning.

 

For Your Information By Gail Wilt

       Here are two Toll-Free Numbers you may fine useful: Google’s Goog411 at 1-800-466-4411 is an automated Directory Assistance (with clear human voice), from any phone, anywhere in the U.S.  You can search by specific name or by category.  For instance, if you are looking for a plumber, or an Italian restaurant, it will give you several options – including phone number and address; then it will offer to dial the number of the item you choose (at no cost, other than for air time if you are using a cell phone).

       TellMe: 1-800-555-8355 (1-800-555-TELL) provides business listings, taxi service listings, time and weather around the country, sports scores, stock quotes, driving directions, airline arrivals and more.  Before my last vacation I called to get the turn-by-turn directions from our house to our destination, the home of friends in Sun Valley, California.  I took notes in braille, and used them to give my husband directions along the way. Standard voice, text and data rates apply according to your wireless plan.

       If you know about products or services that may be of benefit to AzCB members please let us know by contacting Gail at gwilt@seeitourway.org

 

Mid-Year Legislative Conference By Sharon Booker

       When President Barbara McDonald asked me if I would attend the mid-year presidents’ meeting and legislative conference in Washington D.C. again this year, there were visions of cherry blossoms dancing in my head.  Instead, when husband, Thom, and I arrived on the evening of January 19th, it was to piles of dirty snow left over from the biggest snow storm in D.C. history in decades and winter’s cold breath not only down the back of our necks but through our clothing as well.  After all, who, living 12 months of the year in Arizona, has clothes fit for winter?

       The presidents’ meeting, which began on Saturday, the 20th and ran through noon of Sunday, the 21st, was filled with information I’m sure will be of benefit to AzCB as well as focusing on the exciting things we all have to look forward to at the ACB conference/convention to be held in Phoenix, from July 9th through the 17th.  So as soon as you have registered for our upcoming fun and informative state convention, (April 15th to 17th), begin planning for one of the best National conventions in years.

       Beginning the afternoon of January 21st until 5 P.M. on the 22nd, we were immersed in the information we would need to “Storm Capitol Hill” on the 23rd, regarding House Bill HR 3101 (The 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act) and HR 734, (The Pedestrian Safety Enhancement Act.)  I also brought up HR 571 which would restore tax credit to persons donating vehicles to charitable organizations. At 9 A.M. Tuesday morning, Thom and I entered the Cannon Building, where we saw the first of six Representative staffers. From then until 3:30 we worked our way through Cannon, Longworth and Rayburn.  Wish I’d had a pedometer.  It was also nice to meet with two staffers who remembered us from last year.

       Since the storming of Capitol Hill by ACB members, I’m pleased to report there are now more than 220 co-sponsors for HR734 and new co-sponsors and interest in HR3101.  Sadly, only three Arizona representatives have signed on so far.  They are Raul Grijalva, Ed Pastor and now, since our visit, Harry Mitchell.  So we all need to call and write our Congressmen to tell them how important these issues are to us.

       I found this an interesting and stimulating experience.  Happily we were able to spend time with some of our ACB friends from other states.  Thank you, Barbara, for giving me the honor of representing you at this conference.

 

ASDB Stories By Dan Martinez

We are seeking stories from former students or staff of the Arizona School for the Deaf and Blind (ASDB). If you have a recollection of a favorite classmate, faculty, or staff members, or special experiences that you cherish, we would like you to share them with us. The ASDB 1912-2012 centennial celebration and reunion is on the near horizon and we would like to share your ASDB memories with our readers.

       Even it you don’t have a story, we would like to locate all visually impaired/blind alumnus who graduated/attended/or staffed at ASDB. The Fore~Sight will continue to keep you updated on activities associated with the upcoming "ASDB 100th Anniversary-Reunion 2012”

       Please share your contact information, stories or memories via email to dmmar@qwest.net and put ASDB Memories in the subject line. You may mail your stories to: ASDB Stories at 3124 E. Roosevelt St., Ste. 4 Phoenix, AZ 85008-5088. It would be wonderful to hear from you.

 

Bobbing Along With BOB By Bob Williams Sr.

       In response to a request from our hard working editor, I am pleased to share the following.

       “Then and Now” bits of information pertaining to our parent organization American Council Of the Blind’s 31st annual convention held in Phoenix in July 1992, and its 49th national convention to be held in Phoenix this year from Saturday July 10 to Saturday July 17.

       Then ACB reserved 600 of the downtown Hyatt Regency hotel’s 850 rooms plus an additional 200 at the adjacent Omni-Adams as hotel backup.  The daily room rate at both hotels was $45.00 for singles, doubles, triples and quads.  This year, the 1,000-room downtown Phoenix Sheraton is the convention hotel with a daily rate of $89.00 and no backup hotel.

       Then Phoenix was our nation’s 8th largest city with a population of some 964,000 citizens and still growing.  Now it has attained a ranking as America’s 5th largest city and a population of over 1.3 million.

       The 1992 convention almost did not take place in Phoenix.  During the 1991 convention in Tampa a resolution was introduced to move the ‘92 convention away from Arizona and Phoenix because the Arizona State legislature had failed on three different attempts to pass a statewide holiday honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.  The state had already lost an estimated $160 to $200 million in convention business and on top of that, the National Footfall League was threatening to relocate the 1993 Super Bowl away from Phoenix.  Our thirteen-person delegation from Arizona including myself as affiliate president and chief representative strongly recommended defeat of the resolution to relocate.  The resolution was defeated on a voice vote by a large majority.  In November of 1992 Arizonans overwhelmingly approved the King holiday by a vote of 61% to 39%.

       In ‘92 the implementation of the Americans with Disabilities Act that had been approved by congress and signed into law two years earlier was a hot issue of much interest at both our state and national conventions. Representatives from the U.S. Department of Transportation in Washington came to Phoenix to specifically address local paratransit concerns of Blind and visually impaired conventioneers.  Although the National Convention planning Committee has not disclosed the various issues and topic for consideration in July, I’m sure they will be both informative and engaging.

       Then our AzCB Federal Credit Union received much favorable publicity from Credit Union President Dr. Frank Kell’s presentation during a morning general session. The credit union is no longer in business but former AzCB President Dan Martinez will receive national billing with his talk on diversity at the national multicultural concerns committee Luncheon.

       Now for a few closing miscellaneous bits and pieces. 800 volunteers mostly from the LDS Church contributed 2,500 hours during the ‘92 convention at the hotels, airport and on area tours. Three tour busses were required for the overnight tour to the Grand Canyon; the busses were stopped and searched twice from front to back due to a massive manhunt by lawmen in the area of the canyon and Northern Arizona.  Then ACB sponsored a hospitality room, it was well stocked with provisions. The hospitality room disappeared sometime ago form the convention program.  The daily general assembly sessions ran to the final Saturday and concluded sometimes as late as 3:00 P.M. or later. Now the only scheduled activity on Saturday involves either a convention tour or a post convention board meeting. No wonder.  most conventioneers are long gone by then anyway.

       While some things have changed over the intervening years for Arizona and the American Council of the Blind, all who attend then and now will enjoy the Phoenix convention.

 

ACB Walk and Raffle By Dan Dillon

The ACB Walk will take place during the American Council of the Blind Conference and Convention on Saturday, July 10, at air-conditioned Arizona Mills Mall. If for any reason you are unable to attend the ACB Conference and Convention or are just unable to participate, you can still be involved as a virtual walker and seek pledges and compete for medals and trophies. All the details can be found in your Braille Forum. The first 100 people to sign up will be included in a drawing for a neat prize. There's no need to wait, get started now by signing up on our designated walk website at www.acbwalk.com or call Alisha Clauson at (612) 332-3242 for assistance by phone. Let's all "walk the extra mile for ACB!"

       Whether you register as an On-site Walker or a Virtual Walker, the registration is just $25.00. This year the entire registration amount goes directly to ACB to help us with the costs associated with organizing the Walk, such as the cost of the busses to take us to the Arizona Mills mall, the awards, refreshments, etc. In like manner, all of the pledges you obtain to sponsor you in the walk also go entirely to ACB. Last year we raised over $23,000, after expenses, for the ACB. This year we know we can do even better.

       This year, we are promoting the sale of ACB Raffle tickets with an early-bird incentive. The person who sells the most raffle tickets before the deadline of June 30th will be awarded a cash prize of $200. Call Dena Wilson at (202) 559-2045 to request tickets to sell. Up to five individuals can go in together to purchase one raffle ticket, costing each person an investment of just $10 and the chance to share in a grand prize of $5,000. The odds are far greater of winning than with the Powerball lottery. Proceeds from this raffle will go to support the Braille Forum. Take a chance on ACB and we will all be winners!

Call Dan Dillon, co-chair of the RDC, at (615) 874-1223 if you have any questions. Thanks in advance for your support!

 

Serving on the AzCB Board of Directors By Dan Martinez

       If you want to become an Officer and Director of the AzCB, what do you do?

       Officers and Directors of AzCB are responsible for the day-to-day leadership of the organization, for decision-making and for ensuring that the work of the organization is carried out in accordance with the will of the membership. Officers and Directors are members of the Council who are elected to serve at the Annual Membership Meeting, usually called the State Convention.

       The President, Second Vice-President and Secretary and two Directors are to be elected at the annual business meeting held during each even-numbered year and serve two-year terms with other position being available during odd numbered years. The AzCB Bylaws requires that members who are blind/legally blind fill Officers positions and a minimum of two Directors must be legally blind.

       Any member in good standing present at the Annual Membership Meeting may nominate or be nominated and compete for election to available Board positions in an open election. A member may even nominate him or her-self for election.

       Does a candidate have to be endorsed by the nominating committee in order to have a chance of being elected? Some observers believe that nominating committees are vulnerable to manipulation by the controlling leaders of the group and that this is the main reason for their formation. Some believe that candidates running for office outside of the nominating committee's choices stand little chance of election.

       The nominating committee presents a slate of candidates as a starting point for the election process but it is certainly not necessary to be a committee candidate in order to run for office or the be elected to office. There is also an opportunity for prospective candidates to contact the nominating committee to let them know of there willingness to stand for election.

       Before appointing a person to the Nominating Committee, the President should ensure that the prospective appointee has no interest in serving as a candidate for any office to be voted upon in the upcoming election. This helps to ensure an objective process.

       If you would like to do more research on the roles and responsibilities for specific board positions you may want to view the bylaws on the www.azcb.org web site. The American Council of the Blind also has some great information on the www.acb.org website and link to HELPFUL RESOURCES.

 

VOLUNTEERS, VOLUNTEERS, VOLUNTEERS By Barbara McDonald

       Approximately 1500 blind and visually impaired people from all over the United States and some foreign countries will be attending the 49th Annual American Council of the Blind Conference and Convention which will be held at the Sheraton Phoenix Downtown Hotel from Thursday, July 8 through Sunday, July 18. 

       Sally Benjamin, the ACB Volunteer Coordinator, has estimated that we will need 20 to 25 volunteers every hour starting from seven in the morning to ten at night. That literally adds up to thousands of volunteer hours. Besides a fantastic exhibit area, there are over 350 meetings, workshops, seminars, tours, and social events scheduled for the conference.

       Here are some of the things that you, your family, friends, and groups can do:

       Welcome people to Phoenix at the airport

Act as ushers in general sessions

Help people locate booths in the exhibit hall

Read and complete forms

Act as guides between meeting rooms

Help with childcare and youth activities

       For more information or to register as an ACB Volunteer visit the website at www.acb.org, or contact Sally Benjamin at  volunteer@@acb.org or call her at 877-268-3664.

       Thank you in advance for helping to accomplish this immense task.

 

AND MORE VOLUNTEERS

       In addition to airport, tour, and hotel volunteers, separate volunteers are needed for two other events.

       Walk-A-Thon - This event is being held on Saturday, July 10.  A bus will be leaving the hotel at 7:00 in the morning to arrive at Arizona Mills for the 8:00 walk.  Volunteers are needed to walk and to guide the walkers, who are raising funds from sponsors.  Volunteers are not required to donate money, just time.  For more information, please contact Dan Dillon, Walk-A-Thon Chair at 615-874-1223.

       Auction - Volunteers are also needed for the auction which will take place on Wednesday, July 14.  These volunteers are needed to help carry items to the display room during the day, and to help monitor bidding during the evening at the actual auction, which starts at 7:00 p. m,, and hopefully will end by midnight.  This committee is seeking donation items that are new with a minimum worth of $25.00.  Of course, collectibles, such as dolls, do not have to be new.

Please contact: Brenda Dillon, ACB Auction Chair at 615-874-1223.

 

Phoenix Chapter Update By Gail Wilt

In December Lisa and Ron Brooks graciously hosted our holiday celebration in their home.

       We started the New Year with three new members – Deb MacIlroy, Dawn Meigs, and Ted Chittenden.  At the January meeting Larry Wanger demonstrated the multitude of accessible applications available via the IPhone.  In February several members participated in a self-defense workshop presented by Mike Armstrong at his Paradise Valley dojo, Blind Tiger Martial Arts Academy; it was a very good session, and everyone participating planned to attend a Tai Chi workshop he is doing for us in March.  He offers individual and group classes.  Here is his contact information: 602-485-4003

senseimike@blindtigerma.com

www.Blindtigerma.com

 

Southern Arizona Chapter From Mitzi Tharin

       Hello, everybody. I am very happy to be the new president of the Southern Arizona Chapter of the Arizona Council of the Blind in Tucson.

       My plans are simple. We need to see our chapter grow and to have more social fun times. I also will continue to support and increase our chapter's white cane use and awareness programs locally. Third, with all the snazzy computers and recorders I can use I still am a regular Braille user who believes in the usefulness of knowing basic Braille. I want to increase awareness of the importance of Braille in every day life, not necessarily easy fluency but as a useful tool at home, at work, and recreationally. Without Braille I wouldn't be nearly the card shark I am today.

       I'm really looking forward to meeting a lot of you at the convention in Phoenix this July.

 

An Editorial: A Question of Literacy By Dan Martinez

       With braille learning in steep decline and an increase in audio output from computer-based technology, people who are blind are moving away from traditional forms of reading and writing. The absence of written language has become a reality for a majority of people who are blind. This change in literacy has and will continue to negatively impact the lives of people who are blind. Time-honored views hold that people without a written language are illiterate and lack the tools necessary to compete socially or economically.

       According to the National Institute for Literacy, literacy is “an individual’s ability to read, write, speak in English, compute and solve problems at levels of proficiency necessary to function on the job, in the family of the individual, and in society”.

       Many people, blind and sighted, argue that braille is extremely socially isolating, costly and slow and therefore obsolete in the computer age and that computer audio is sufficient to function.

       Statistical data tell us a different story about braille and literacy. A study in the Journal of Visual Impairment & Blindness compared outcomes for congenitally legally blind adults who learned to read braille or print as their original reading medium. Those who learned to read using braille had higher employment rates and educational levels, were more financially self-sufficient, and spent more time reading than did those who learned to read using print. Another study found that legally blind students who learned Braille at the same time sighted students learned to read achieved, at the high school level, literacy rates similar to their sighted classmates. But students who learned Braille later or were taught to read using their limited vision and magnification devices suffered high rates of illiteracy.

       There is an education system tendency to have students with low vision (legal blindness) learn to read using large print or standard print with magnification. I’m not sure I understand the reasoning for this trend. It may be that it is easier for the teachers, but it is more likely that it is an entrenched in cultural bias. A value system that equates blindness as bad and eyesight as good, would explain such a trend. The real issue is what is best for the student.

       Student with low vision should learn to read using printed material and because it is slow and detrimental to educational attainment, they should also learn to use braille. Students who are functionally blind must not be taught to rely on the spoken word alone. Braille is essential.

       From my perspective, it is a question of literacy. With the mass availability of computer technology, print has not become obsolete for students who are sighted. Braille is not obsolete for students who are blind. There is absolutely no reason in the world that our schools should not be teaching students who are blind to read braille. Reading and writing are used for the purpose of communicating something meaningful, and there is a difference between 'book language' and everyday colloquial speech. A brailled or printed message is unvarying and is read the same way each time. Written language is a most important tool for learning to organize and present thought in a clear and concise manner. Students have to learn the conventions of reading and writing (reading from left to right and top to bottom, treating spaces as dividers between words, and pausing at the punctuation marks). These are just some of the fundamental concepts that contribute to organized rational thinking. Learning a concrete code for expressing thought is crucial in the development of the brain.

       If all students were taught at the literacy level at which we teach students who are blind, society would return to the dark-ages.

 

AzCB MISSION STATEMENT

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 above.  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.

Barbara McDonald, President 602-285-0269 mrsmcdee@q.com

Daniel M. Martinez, Editor 623-873-1378 dmmar@qwest.net

OFFICE MAIL: 3124 East Roosevelt, Suite 4 Phoenix, AZ 85008

602-273-1510