Newsletter of the Arizona Council of the Blind

Volume 27, Issue 2 Fall, 2011


President's Message

Reinforcing Our Most Critical Foundation By Ron Brooks

        A challenge we face within the AzCB is where to direct our efforts, and in the current climate of fiscal constraint and political conservatism, the importance of this decision is magnified. Whether it's the protection of funding for essential services, promotion of Braille literacy, the preservation of programs like SunSounds Radio Reading Service and the Braille and Talking Book Library, or advocacy for public transit and better pedestrian access, there is more work to be done than there are people to do it.

        Given this simple fact, the organization's leadership has been working hard to increase our membership through local chapter development, more and better public outreach and through the enhancement of our on-line presence. We also increased our funding for direct services (scholarships and the BRIEF Fund), figuring that if we are serving real people, they will want to join us.

        Progress has been slow, but progress is happening. I want to update you on these encouraging developments and to ask for your support as we continue our efforts to grow the AzCB.

        We are improving our On-Line presence. The AzCB website is getting better and better. New features include more frequent updates, announcements of upcoming meetings and conferences. There is also an advocacy and legislation page and links to pages where members and guests can pay dues, join local chapters and make donations. Additionally, we are increasing our use of email and social media sites to link members with helpful products and services. Please take the time to give us feedback on our website what you like and what you'd like even better), and please follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

        The AzCB has always conducted outreach efforts (such as attendance at conferences like the Vision Rehabilitation and Technology Exposition), but we are strengthening our outreach efforts by working with conference organizers to give us better visibility, by creating contests and give-a-ways to promote attendance at our booth, by networking with other exhibitors and by getting ourselves onto workshop panels and conference planning committees.

        We are actively pursuing the creation of local chapters, and while we would like to expand our presence in the East Valley, the West Valley, Flagstaff, Sierra Vista and elsewhere, we will go where the grass is green. Right now, the grass seems to be greenest in the Prescott Valley, and we are focusing on an effort to organize there. Hopefully, we'll have a group there soon. In the meantime, we will assist any five or more people (the majority of whom must be blind or visually impaired) to launch a chapter anywhere in Arizona. Just ask.

        The AzCB was formed to help blind people, and to that end, we are increasing our efforts to provide direct service to qualified blind and visually impaired Arizonans. As stated earlier, we increased the amount of funds available for scholarships and our Blindness-Related Expense Intervention Fund, and we are committed to increasing these programs even more as funding allows. For more information about either of these programs, check out our website or call the office.

        In closing, I want to invite each of you to renew your AzCB membership for 2012. You can do this on line at http://www., or you can call the office to request an application. If you are a member of one of our local chapters or GDUA, you can contact your affiliate for assistance. Second, I want to ask each of you to reach out within your own communities for new AzCB members. We are only as strong as our members, so the more the merrier!


 Grants/Scholarships From Gail Wilt

        AzCB will offer scholarships for fall of 2012. The deadline for applications and all supporting materials is March 1. It sounds like a long time off, but a candidate could start preparations as soon as the current school term ends - by requesting a copy of transcripts, obtaining documentation of legal blindness, and requesting letters of recommendation. If you have questions, contact the Scholarship Committee Chairwoman, Gail Wilt, at 602-300-1275,

        Phoenix residents with disabilities who need financial assistance with education, training or employment-related needs, are encouraged to apply for grants offered by the Phoenix Mayor's Commission on Disability Issues and the City of Phoenix. The grants, ranging from $500 to $3,000 each, are offered twice annually; the deadline is January 1 for the February awards. To qualify, applicants must have a documented disability, be a Phoenix resident, be at least a senior in high school and 18 years of age, and able to identify specific goods or services needed to meet a verified goal relating to education, training or employment. Visit;

mcdigrant/index.html or call 602-495-0358.


Braille Trail By David Steinmetz

        Noah Cress, with Boy Scout Troop 565, is working on his Eagle Scout project. He plans on creating an accessible hiking trail for the visually impaired at Usery Mountain Park in Mesa, Arizona. Noah is working with the Maricopa County Parks and Recreation Department to identify materials to be used as a tactile guide (curbing) that will be installed along the Merkle Trail. Mr. Cress says he wants to create a hiking trail where "blind or visually impaired individuals can travel the entire length of the trail without assistance from anyone else except for getting to the park".

        In addition to the tactile markers, Noah has found a local vendor that is making Braille signs that will inform the hiker of the local "desert animals, desert plants, describing a desert, the geology of the area, and information about the trail." The Boy Scout Eagle Leadership project requires the Scout to plan, develop, and give leadership to others in a service project that is helpful to a religious institution, school, or community. Mr. Cress will need to fund raise to cover the cost of the signage and tactile markers along the trail edge. Noah is seeking input from people in the blindness community as to materials, location, and wayfinding strategies, etc. for the curbing and signage. To provide advice or financial support, Noah Cress can be reached at

        Usery Mountain Park is a Maricopa County Park, located northeast of the Mesa preserves and it is a fine example of Upper Sonoran Desert. The Merkle Trail is a 1-1/2 mile long trail around a small mountain. Visitors should come well prepared for desert travel, as there is virtually no shade along the trail and no water stops. The trail surface is course gravel, and is nicely laid out with not too much slope from side to side.


Southern Arizona Chapter Update By Mitzi Tharin

        SAZCB is having a first time Bazaar fundraiser and we're hoping that it will go on for many years. It's on September 24th at SAAVI in Tucson from 9:00 to noon. There will be a bake sale, crafts and a white elephant. All the proceeds will be split between our chapter and the Downtown Tucson Lioness Club.

        At the end of July, we unexpectedly lost Dorothy Levinson who served as our SAZCB treasurer. We will miss her very much. In 1957, she was one of the first female graduates of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and she was a pioneer in the field of architecture. Dorothy belonged to many civic and religious organizations in Green Valley and Tucson. An overflowing memorial service was held at her home in Tucson. The Southern Arizona Chapter's web site now has links (at to the Pima County and the Maricopa County EMVIA weekly event calendars. If you are not familiar with them, check them out at that link. Every item is blindness and/or other visual impairments related. All of the informational noise is filtered out. People who find this helpful can get it emailed directly to them by sending a note to

        The SAZCB Book Club is still going strong but would still love to have more members. Anyone can join in by telephone at 218-548-3992, code 632 05 47. We almost always meet at 1:30 on the second Saturday of the month. All books are available from BARD or the state library. Contact Mitzi Tharin at 520-290-4770 or for more information.

        Here's our coming schedule: The book for October 22 (date change) is BEACH ROAD, a mystery and detective novel by James Patterson. Read by Billy Baldwin. DB62327

        On November 12 is THE BLESSING WAY, a mystery and detective novel by Tony Hillerman. Read by Bob Askey. DB49586 The book at the meeting of December 10 will be SANTA CLAWED: a Mrs. Murphy Mystery. This is a mystery and detective novel by Rita Mae Brown. Read by Laura Giannarelli. DB68431


VRATE 2011

        OnDecember 2, 9am-4pm, the 15th Annual Vision Rehabilitation and Assistive Technology Expo will be held at Shriners Auditorium 552 N. 40th Street, Phoenix (Shuttle from the 38th Street Light Rail stop will be available)

        VRATE is the only exposition in the Southwest dedicated to presenting information related to vision loss and combined vision and hearing loss.

        Be sure to stop by the Arizona Council of the Blind booth. You may attend presentations by experts in the field of vision loss and rehabilitation, explore Assistive Technology with the potential to change your life, and talk with representatives of groups, organizations and agencies dedicated to supporting people who are visually impaired. Call the VRATE hotline for an audio presentation of the expo details: 602 331 7909


What is Social Media? By Dan Martinez

        Social media are distinct from industrial or traditional media, such as newspapers, television, and film. They are relatively inexpensive and accessible to enable anyone to publish or access information. It is mass communications tools that individuals access for their personal use.      According to Kaplan and Haenlein there are six different types of social media:  Collaborative projects (e.g. Wikipedia); Blogs and microblogs (e.g. Twitter); Content communities (e.g. Youtube); Social networking sites (e.g. Facebook); Virtual game worlds (e.g. World of Warcraft) and Virtual social worlds (e.g. Second Life)

        Lets focus on two of these, Twitter and Facebook. Twitter is a website, owned and operated by Twitter Inc., which offers a social networking and microblogging service, enabling its users to send and read messages called tweets. Tweets are text-based posts of up to 140 characters displayed on the user's profile page. The short format of the tweet is a defining characteristic of the service, allowing informal collaboration and quick information sharing that is usually shorter than email and less directly interactive than instant messaging. Twittering is also a less gated method of communication allowing one to share information without addressing it to a specific recipient, thus opening up one's circle of contacts to an ever-growing community of like minded people. A user can send messages using the Twitter website directly, as a single SMS (the text communication service component of phone, web, or mobile communication systems), or via a thirdparty application such as Twirl, Snitter, or the Twitterfox add-on for Firefox. Tweets are displayed on the user's profile page, on the home page of each of his or her followers, and in the Twitter public timeline (unless this feature is turned off in the account settings.) You can follow the Arizona Council of the Blind on Twitter at The Arizona Council of the Blind is pleased to announce it's new Twitter address. Come follow us and we'll follow you! You don't need to be a Twitter member to view this page, so check it out below the sign in section. Exciting and interesting updates will be announced soon, so don't miss a tweet!

        Facebook is a social networking service and website launched in February 2004, operated and privately owned by Facebook, Inc. The name of the service stems from the colloquial name for the book given to students at the start of the academic year by university administrations in the United States to help students get to know each other better. Facebook users create a personal profile, add other users as friends, and exchange messages, including automatic notifications when they update their profile. The Facebook user page is like a preformatted web page where a member posts information he or she would like to share with others. Facebook users must register before using the site. Additionally, users may join common-interest user groups, organized by workplace, school or college, or other characteristics. Facebook allows any users who declare themselves to be at least 13 years old to become registered users of the website. Please visit the Arizona Council of the Blind on Facebook.


Musings From Your 2011 Delegate To The National Convention By Desi Noller

        Since the close of this year's National Conference And Convention in Sparks Nevada, I have been pondering what I would share with you here. First, I considered trying to give you gavel-to-gavel coverage of what happened in the General Sessions, but I realized that there were numerous places where you could find that information. As your Delegate, I did my best, despite myriad technological problems, to keep you as up to-date as I possibly could! Incidentally, I want to thank all of you who shared your voting preferences with me via e-mail from the bottom of my heart! It truly made the decisionmaking process so much easier for me! I attended each and every General Session from start to finish, as well as the candidate's forum, in order to make sure that I was as well informed as I could possibly be on your behalf! In the end, I was satisfied that I represented your will as much as anyone can in such a situation! All that having now been said, I want to share what I brought away from the Convention in my heart.

        A month later, I am still infused with a great sense of pride at being a member of such an upstanding organization as the American Council Of The Blind! Being the 50th Anniversary convention, a great deal of emphasis was placed on the history of the organization, and a very rich history it is! We heard recorded speeches from a number of past ACB presidents, and a moving live presentation by M.J. Schmidt who is a charter member of ACB. Those early founding members really had a lot of grit, and can be extremely proud of their incredible accomplishments

over the years!

        My favorite convention speaker is always the talking book narrator, and Kristin Allison did not disappoint! Though she chose an excerpt from a piece of Vampire fiction, a subject that does not particularly interest me, her presentation of it was outstanding! I did not devote the entire week to work! I attended some of the meetings held by Guide Dog Users Inc., which were both interesting and informative!

        On Tuesday evening, Don and I attended the Performing Arts Showcase put on by the Friends In Art special interest affiliate. There we enjoyed a wide range of talents displayed including storytelling, poetry reading, and a number of performances by some terrific musicians and singers!

        On Wednesday afternoon, we attended the Guide Dog Users annual luncheon, and on Wednesday evening, we found ourselves at the ACB auction, where I had my focus on a BrailleNote Apex. I was quickly outbid, but the evening was a lot of fun anyway!

        On Thursday afternoon, we attended the final meeting of the Braille Revival League's annual sessions, where the activities wound up with a braille puzzle that all of us braille readers had an opportunity to complete. The winner received a deck of braille playing cards! Very fitting I thought given our location! I was not the winner!

        We finished up our fun activities by attending the ACB Golden Anniversary Banquet. The food, Filet Mignon in our case, was without doubt, the best banquet food we've ever had the pleasure of eating! There wasn't an actual keynote banquet speaker this year, but continuing the historic theme, the feature was a Jeopardy game played much like the one on TV, but in this case, all of the questions were based on ACB History. All week long, we were given the opportunity to submit our names if we wanted to play, and from the names submitted, three contestants were chosen. One of them sat at our table, so we felt as though we had a special stake in the proceedings! Our tablemate idn't win, but our enthusiasm was undeterred!

        To me though, the very best part about these conventions is the opportunity to connect and network with old and new friends alike, which we also managed to work in a lot of over the  course of the week. It is so fun to have the upper hand as blind and visually impaired people for this one brief and very special period each year! As exhausted as I always am by the end of a National Convention, I'm always sad to see them come to a close, and always excited at the prospect of next year's convention, which in truth, will be upon us before we know it! I'm sorry that it wasn't possible for more of you to share this very special time with us, and I hope everyone's making plans to attend next year's Conference and Convention in Louisville Kentucky in 2012.

        Finally, I would like to publicly thank Ron for appointing me as this year's Delegate. I was honored to serve!


Membership Renewal From the Membership Committee

        Your membership in the Arizona Council of the Blind is a significant demonstration of who you are and reflects your commitment in building a society where people who are blind have opportunities for independence, self-reliance and equal access to the community. It is time to renew that commitment and to renew your membership in the greatest organization of blind

people in the world, the AzCB.

        To make your AzCB membership renewal process as convenient as possible there are several way it can be done.

        The quickest and easiest way to renew is to use the www.azcb. org website application with Pay Pal to expedite your dues payment. You may also use the website application and mail in

your dues check or money order.

        If you would prefer to fill out a paper membership application and mail it in, it has been included in this edition of Fore~Sight.

        As a member of an AzCB affiliate, Maricopa County Club of the Blind, Southern Arizona Council of the Blind, Phoenix Chapter or Guide Dog Users of Arizona, you may choose to renew your membership directly with your local club.

        If having someone assist you with the renewal process is your best option, you may call the AzCB line at (602) 273-1510 or statewide at 888/273-1510. When you leave a message requesting application assistance and letting us know the best time to reach you, someone will return your call.

        For people that use the services of the Arizona Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired and want to renew their membership, Sharon Carpenter will be available, on a limited basis, to assist with and accept your application and dues.

        Your membership is a valuable possession. Participation in Local Chapter meetings and events and the AzCB and ACB Annual Conventions is an enriching experience you cherish. The learning, networking and socialization opportunities available to you by meeting and interacting with other people who are blind as an AzCB member enhances your life and opens doors to greater personal possibilities.

        Now would be a good time to talk with other people who are blind or visually impaired and sighted family members and friends, and ask them to joint the AzCB. Ask them to work with you on resolving those issues that unnecessarily complicate your life and limit your opportunities. They want to help you and joining the AzCB will give them a way to do that.

        Renew your membership in the Arizona Council of the Blind today.


Convention Recollections From Reno By Bob Williams

        I probably wouldn't believed it if my wife Faye and I hadn't been there to witness it for ourselves. Carl Augusto, personable and erudite CEO of the American Foundation of the Blind, strumming his guitar and singing with all his might "Does your chewing gum lose its flavor on the bedpost overnight." The audience of nearly 300 joined in on each chorus. The impact was

simply hilarious.

        The setting was the nightclub Celebrity Showcase room of the 29 story John Ascuaga Nugget resort hotel/casino in Reno on Tuesday evening of the week-long ACB 50th annual convention and conference July 10 to 16. The occasion was the annual talent night showcase production of Friends In Art in ACB (FIA). FIA's existence dates back to ACB's 1983 annual session in Phoenix. Today it is one of the organization's most visible and most successful of ACB's 36 interest groups, committees and special task forces. The 2011 talent night showcase featured about 25 acts ranging from classical and popular instrumental and vocal music to poetic reading and recitations. The production lasted over two hours and was followed by an FIA cabaret night open mike session where aspiring audience participants demonstrated their talent.

        Highlights of the convention's opening general session on Sunday evening included President Mitch Pomerantz's annual report and the role call of state affiliates and interest groups commencing around 9:00 P.M. or thereafter. New life members were also recognized. As the alternate delegate in our small group of ten or so from Arizona, I sat through the opening general session on Sunday evening and the daily weekday morning sessions plus the all-day Friday business session, which included a number of resolutions, the reelection of President Pomerantz to his third and final two year term.

        Convention week highlights for Faye and me included, among other involvements, attending the Multicultural Affairs committee's (MCAC) annual luncheon and panel discussion featuring university Professor Dr. Francisco Lima of Brazil sharing personal anecdotes from his experiences growing up and working in Brazil as a blind person. There was also a three committee member panel discussing their involvement in ACB past, current and future.

        Our MCAC committee responsibilities concluded with the committee's annual social gathering on Tuesday afternoon in the ACB presidential suite. The souvenir treasure chest of simulated gold nugget crafted by Faye and presented to each of the approximately 40 attendees was a big hit.

        Staff personnel from National Industries for the Blind on Wednesday shared information regarding career opportunities and other general issues pertaining to NIB operations during

the annual NIB breakfast gathering. The breakfast was well attended and as usual included persons in top leadership positions in ACB. My attendance at the annual breakfast began

through the participation with Dan Martinez years ago. The nominal cost continues to make the breakfast a real winner from year to year.

        I have hardly scratched the surface concerning business conducted in the daily general sessions. Details will be forth coming in upcoming issues of the Braille Forum anyway and readers can catch the details there.

        The 51st ACB National is scheduled for Louisville in 2012; so start making plans now to attend.. If you have not subscribed to the convention e-mail list in the past and would like to receive updated information on the convention as it becomes available send a blank email to acbconvention-subscribe@acb.


The Nominating Process at ACB National By Barbara McDonald

        This year, all the ACB officers were up for re-election. Each officer is eligible to serve three consecutive two-year terms. Mr. Godino, the treasurer, had served for six years and was no longer eligible to serve again. Each of the other officers: Mitch Pomerantz, President, Kim Charlson, 1st Vice-President, Brenda Dillon, 2nd Vice-President, and Marlaina Lieberg, Secretary, were all running for their last two year term.

        The first step in the process is the actual nominating committee meeting, which was held Monday evening. Each state affiliate and special interest group sends one representative. The meeting started at 5:45 pm when the doors to the meeting room are locked. Roll call was taken. The names of the officers were placed in nomination separately. The question "Are there any nominations for...? is asked three times. Then, the nominations are closed. No one except the current officers were running for president, 1st vice-president, 2nd vice-president, or secretary. So, their names were automatically put on the slate.

        When it came time for the treasurer's position, there were two candidates nominated. The two candidates were Carla Ruschcival and John McCann. Each candidate had five minutes for two people to speak in their favor. Each representative was called to give their vote. The vote was 43 to 21 for Carla, so her name was put on the slate to present to the membership during the general session on Friday morning.

        The next step in this process was the caucuses. On Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, different affiliates got together. The candidates came and presented their accomplishments and goals for the coming year. People attending the caucus are allowed to ask questions of all the candidates. . I attended the Candidates' Forum, which was held Thursday evening. All the candidates were present including John McCann.

        Members of the ACB Nominating Committee and the audience asked questions. Although answers were time limited, the forum lasted more then 90 minutes. The final step, elections, took place on Friday. The positions for president, 1st vice-president, 2nd vice-president, and secretary

were voted in by acclamation. When it came time for the treasurer's position, John McCann's name was placed into nomination from the floor. Two people were chosen to speak on behalf of each candidate.

        There are two vote counts. Member at convention have a vote and affiliate organizations have a vote. Each state and special interest affiliate has one vote per 25 members. Twenty-five votes is the highest amount. Arizona has four votes. First, a candidate's name is called, and the members present at convention stand for their vote to be counted, then, each state or group delegate is called for the delegate's vote. Our vote was split: two for Carla and two for John. The delegate decides their vote by what she/he hears from the members. The delegate vote was tallied and announced. Carla Ruschival won by a 65% to a 35% vote. The count on the standing vote was requested. The results were nearly the same

        Carla gave her acceptance speech and John his acknowledgment speech.

        Next year in Louisville, Kentucky, the directors will be up for election. There will be one difference. The membership voted for a secret ballot vote to take the place of the standing member vote. This will be done by tearing corners off a special colored square piece of paper. The election should be interesting in 2013 when the convention will be held in Columbus, Ohio. Four of the officers will not be able to run for their current position.


Arizona Council of the Blind MEMBERSHIP

        Your friends at AzCB want you to join us in making the word a better place for people who are blind or who have low vision. Become a member by visiting our website and click on ("Become a Member of the Arizona Council of the Blind or Renew Here") If you are not a computer user, call us at (602) 273-1510 or if your out of the local calling area (888) 273- 1510; leave a message and we will be happy assist you in completing a membership application.

        Your $10 one-year membership fee gives you the pride of belonging to both the AzCB and to the American Council of the Blind (ACB). You will also want to participate in one of our special interest or local affiliates.

        Guide Dog Users of Arizona: (GDUA) is a non-profit membership organization of guide dog users, puppy raisers, and sighted or visually impaired individuals committed to an enhanced quality of life for all Arizona's guide dog teams.

        Maricopa Club: The Club's primary focus is as the social wing of the AzCB. For more information on how to join our club or any other question email us at:

        Phoenix Chapter: The chapter provides opportunities for blind and visually impaired individuals along with their friends and family to come together to address important issues in our community and to provide social opportunities for chapter members and guests.

        Southern Arizona Chapter: Our chapter's primary focus is on issues of the blind in southern Arizona. We are growing and would like to invite you to join us. For more information on how to join our club or any other question visit:



        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 audio-cassette. Publication is Quarterly with free subscription to members of AzCB. Subscription requests, address changes and items intended editor, Dan Martinez.

        AzCB is the statewide affiliate of the American Council Of The Blind based in Arlington, VA. ACB is a national consumer membership organization with more then seventy state and special interest affiliates. To join AZCB, visit our website and complete an application form. Or you may contact our office voice mail for a return call.

        AZCB staff and governing board are all volunteers and perform their duties without pay. Those much needed tax-deductible contributions should be sent to the Arizona Council of the Blind at the office mail address below. All contributions are gratefully acknowledged in writing in a timely manner. If you wish to remember AZCB in your will or if your contribution involves complex issues, please call our Phoenix office voice mail for a return response. Arizona Council of the Blind 3124 E. Roosevelt St., Ste. 4 Phoenix, AZ 85008-5088


Ron Brooks, President




Daniel M. Martinez, Editor

1st Vice President


Ruth Druding,

2nd Vice President


Sharon Carpenter, Secretary


Timothy Connell, Treasurer


Barbara McDonald, Director


David Steinmetz, Director


Ted Chittenden, Director


Jessica Arnold, Director


Arizona Council of the Blind

3124 E. Roosevelt St. Suite. 4

Phoenix, AZ 85008-5088