Newsletter of the Arizona Council of the Blind Volume 26, Issue 2 Fall, 2010

President’s Message

Let the Momentum Move Us By Ron Brooks

        As I write this article, it is mid September—still hot in Phoenix, but the August rains have come and gone, and summer is definitely on the wane.

        This month, I want to focus on something which, like the weather, the tides and the moon, can wax and wane, and that is the opportunity for momentum that the AzCB has been given by the ACB’s 2010 Annual Convention and Conference, which was held in Phoenix last July.

        Due to constraints of time and space, I will not summarize the entire eight day conference here, but I do want to share some of the opportunities which the ACB National Convention and Conference has created for the AzCB.  I will conclude by commenting on how we can use the momentum created by this great event to capitalize on these opportunities.

        First, I want to say that I was truly moved by the Opening General Session held Sunday night.  It wasn’t just the fact of so many in attendance or of the long list of speakers, each of whom shared some story of an ACB legal, legislative or advocacy victory.  Rather, it was hearing Desi Noller sing and describe the Arizona State Song and Barbara McDonald introduce each member of the Local Host Committee—each of whom put so much time into what turned out to be such a fantastic event.  It was my own moment at the podium, where I got the chance to remind everyone that the real heat in Phoenix on that day was our ACB family and the energy and effort which we can bring collectively, once we set our minds and hearts to do so.

        But Sunday night’s General Session was just the beginning.  There was the Walk-a-Thon which actually took place the day before.  I got there early to walk and raise money, and whom should I encounter but Tom Booker—up from Tucson, just to help out, and help he did—both he and Sharon were there each and every day of the event.  I also enjoyed our booth in the Exhibits Hall.  We sold some AzCB logo items in the hopes of making a bunch of money, and while we didn’t make a ton of money, we did make a ton of connections, and I expect to see new people as a result of our time in Exhibits.

        Another highlight for me was watching my wife Lisa accept the Ned E. Freeman Award.  I knew she could write, but it was wonderful seeing her get the recognition she deserved—both for herself but also for Arizona.  And now that she’s on the PR Committee, we can all take advantage of her gift for words.

        There were other memories too numerous to mention, but as the event closed, and as we all got back to our regular lives, just doing what we do, I was left with the knowledge that we are a part of a great organization, and we can do much, much more.  We can build on the national advocacy and legislative efforts of ACB to deepen the compliance of agencies and businesses right here in our own state.  We can get more involved in the business of the ACB—everything from fundraising, to membership, to employment, to transportation, to environmental access—and we can bring that learning right back here to our home state.  We can take the energy and skills shared during the ACB convention, at the Membership Committee workshop, at the Social Networking work shop and in a myriad of other sessions to strengthen our own efforts here in Arizona.  In short, we can use what we saw to improve ourselves and to grow our chapters and affiliates.

        As you all know, my goals are to grow our organization, to increase the amount and quality of participation by all members at all levels, to expand our outreach and effectiveness in diverse communities, and to strengthen our administrative processes and procedures.  I can honestly say that I learned several things that can help our affiliate to move forward on all of these initiatives, and undoubtedly, you will see many of these ideas coming through in future articles I write for this newsletter.

        In the meantime, I want to finish this article by discussing how my observations pertain to the article’s title.  Simply put, we have been given a great gift, and that is the gift of momentum.  In a very real sense, the ACB National Convention gave our organization a bolt of energy, which is potentially life changing, but in order for that positive change to occur, we need to relax and let the momentum move us forward.  We need to let new ideas that work supplant the old ones that don’t.  We need to embrace the tactics and the technologies that scare us because when we do, we will be able to move with so much more speed and ease.  Finally, we need to reach out to every new person who has reached out to us—be they potential members, volunteers or service providers because when we do, we will have many more brains to think and hands to carry the load and do the work right.

         I want to thank each and every one of you who attended the ACB National Convention and Conference.  It was wonderful seeing and meeting so many of you, and it is truly humbling to think that you have entrusted someone like me with the leadership of your organization.  It is in that capacity which I will close by asking each of you, once more, to seek ways of getting involved and of contributing, and it is in this same capacity that I will, once again, pledge to do my part to let the same momentum move me as I strive to lead the AzCB forward.


Phoenix – up from the ashes of a prehistoric civilization By Sharon Booker

I attended the 2010 ACB Conference/Convention in Phoenix, Arizona – the fifth largest US city, where every noisy, bustling modern convenience abounds. I was amazed to learn that this huge, cosmopolitan city was built over the ancient remains of a site used by a prehistoric people, the Hohokams.

For 17 centuries, the Hohokams successfully and continuously operated an irrigation system in this great desert valley. No one knows why these people disappeared, long ago, but modern men and engineering have built modern structures upon the ancient canals. About 10,000 years ago, the Pueblo and southwest tribes moved into this desert area.

On my visit to Phoenix’s renowned Heard Museum – a tour had been arranged for attendees – I learned a lot about these tribal desert dwellers. The Heard Museum is dedicated entirely to native-American art, especially of the Southwest Indians who live in this arid area. Their culture, experiences and struggles are shown.

As a nation, in our sometimes-bloody conquests, we could have learned so much from these people. The museum tour left me with a feeling of appreciation, sympathy and understanding for these native-American peoples. Our guide was a beautiful, soft-spoken Navajo girl, who visits her grandmother on the reservation once a month.

The following is just a small glimpse of a few of the Southwest tribes:

Navajo:- The Navajo are the largest tribe in America, in fact. 100 years ago, there were barely 10,000 of them. Today there are over 70,000! The 16 million acre Navajo reservation completely surrounds the large Hopi reservation, and expands over the entire northeast part of Arizona and the adjoining northwest part of New Mexico. They have their own language, courts and judges.  The Heard Museum has a vast collection of beautiful Navajo rugs, famous the world over. Many pieces of silver jewelry, and numerous sand paintings are on display.

Hopi:- Their tribal name means, “ the peaceful ones.” Many Hopi villages were built on narrow mesa tops as a defense against the Spanish. The Heard Museum has more than 17,000 Kachina dolls, which the Hopi call Katsina.  Male and female Kachinas called  Salako, with their colorful headdresses, represent grace and beauty. The Hopi regard the Kachina as spirit essences. The dolls are made from the root of the cottonwood tree. These dolls are given to Hopi girls and infants. The Hopi also make beautiful pottery.

Apache:- Apache means, “the people.” Like the other Southwest tribes, they are a matriarchal society. One of their most important ceremonies is the four-day maiden puberty rite. During the ceremony, the spirit dancers wear elaborately painted headdresses, made of slats of agave stalks sewn together.  The Heard Museum has many beautiful cradleboards. Contrary to general belief, according to our guide, these cradleboards are not worn on the back. The back is to carry burdens, and their beloved children are not burdens.

Tohono O’odham:- The name means, “the desert people.” This tribe has been weaving baskets for at least 2,000 years, and makes more baskets than any other tribe. These coiled baskets come in a variety of shapes. They are made of “devil’s claw” and yucca sewn over a bundle of bear grass. Some are woven so tight that they can hold water. The Museum also has a large collection of their willow baskets, horsehair lariats, carved wooden bowls and pottery.

After the conference/convention, I headed home to the most southern part of the State of Arizona. I live just about in the shadow of the Chiricahua Mountains, former home of the Chiricahua Apaches. I live in a county named after that most famous Chiricahua Apache chief: Cochise.

I’m so glad that this year’s conference/convention gave me the opportunity to visit the Heard Museum, and learn so much more about native-American tribal culture and heritage.


A Brief History of Tactile Reading and Writing Systems Compiled by Dan Martinez

There have been many tactile reading media for people who are blind. In the early 1800s, most reading instruction was done with books made with raised or embossed letters created by wetting paper and printing with an ink printing letterpress.  People also learned how to read by using carved wooden letters arranged into words, and letters made with bent and twisted wire.

        Around the same time Louis Braille was developing his code, other codes were also being developed.

        In the 1830's when schools for the blind were being founded in Boston, New York and Philadelphia, the common type for use by people who were blind in Western Europe was embossed Roman letters more or less simplified to make them more substantial. Their desirable quality when compared with arbitrary codes seemed to be that they could be read by sight by the seeing teachers with no special instruction. Furthermore, it was contended that the blind people, by using a type similar to that of their seeing associates, were set less apart from the rest of the world.

        Louis Braille had developed his 6-dot system and had written in Braille and taught others by 1832.

        Boston line type was developed by Samuel Gridley Howe, the founder of the New England School for the Blind (later Perkins School for the Blind) in Massachusetts.  Since at the time there was no reading medium for people with blindness, Howe developed an embossed simplified angular roman alphabet without capitals which he called Boston line type.  He published the first book in Boston line type in 1834, and this type continued to be the primary tactile reading code used in the United States for the next 50 years.  The American Printing House for the Blind first published books in Boston line type, and it was the official code used by students at Perkins until 1908.

        William Bell Wait, working in New York in the middle 1800’s, developed a point code for readers who were blind that used characters which were two dots high and one, two, three and four dots wide.  Working at New York Institute for the Blind, Wait began teaching this system to students and invented a point writing machine called the Kleidograph, which allowed for easy production of text without the use of slate and stylus.  New York Point was widely used by schools for the blind in the United States in the late 1800’s.

        Braille code was introduced in the U.S. about 1860 and was taught at the St. Louis School for the Blind and other schools. It was introduced to St. Louis not long after it was officially accepted in Paris in 1854. Dr. Pollak, a founder of the Missouri School for the Blind, happened to be in Europe at that time, and he brought Braille's new code back with him.

        Joel Smith, a piano-tuning teacher at Perkins School for the Blind in Massachusetts, developed the American Modified Braille Code in the 1870’s. When developing his system, Smith designed characters he believed would be fast to read and would efficiently use paper. This code was used in 19 schools for the blind in the United States, including Perkins.  American Modified Braille assigned the fewest dots to the characters that occur most often in the English language. American Modified Braille uses the familiar three dot high and two dot wide characters, but dot configurations correspond to different print letters and letter combinations than does standard Braille today.

        William Moon of Great Britain lost much of his sight in childhood from scarlet fever. After finishing school in the mid 1800’s Dr. William Moon experimented with a variety of raised alphabets for teaching reading and writing to blind students.  He eventually settled on Moon type, a raised line code based on print letters.  Still used in Britain for people with learning or fine motor difficulties, and those who have lost their sight later in life, Moon type is believed by its supporters to be easier to learn and more tactually simple to discriminate than Braille.

        In 1909, there was a public hearing before a New York Board of Education committee charged with determining whether braille or New York Point should be used to teach those blind children who would be educated in the public schools. It became apparent at this hearing that New York Point was already losing ground. Braille was subsequently chosen for use in New York public schools

        By the last decade of the 19th century, change in the schools' preferences for reading systems was becoming evident. Between 1894 and 1907, 10 out of 34 schools for the blind that had adopted Point as their preferred embossed code changed to braille. In that same period, not one school that had adopted braille discarded it in favor of Point. During those years, the number of students using Point increased by only 7 percent, while the number of those using braille increased by 70 percent. The number of schools using braille grew from seven to 20.

        While the direction was now mainly in the favor of braille, the establishment of one standard embossed code was still distant. So much time, thought, money and emotion had been invested in Point that its abandonment would represent a great sacrifice.

        The American Association of Workers for the Blind (AAWB) to determine the relative merits of American braille, New York Point and British braille established a Uniform Type Committee. A major portion of the funds to conduct the necessary research were provided by Major M. C. Migel, who was later to establish the American Foundation for the Blind. The study conducted in 36 states, confirmed by actual tests on many, many readers: characters three dots high and two wide were more easily and accurately read than were characters two dots high and three wide. The committee also felt it should do a test in schools where British braille was preferred. The only school that qualified was in Halifax, Canada. To their great surprise, the testers found that British braille proved superior to both Point and American braille.

        The recommendation issued at the 1913 meeting of the AAWB was stupefying: an entirely new system--Standard Dot-- superior to both braille and New York Point--should be introduced! In any case, a universal code for the English-speaking world required the cooperation of the British; they were not about to cooperate.

        It wasn't until 1918 that the compromise code, Braille Grade 1 1/2 was adopted officially by AAWB and the AAIB for use in the United States. (Robert Irwin's book The War of the Dots provides an interesting history of this adoption process.) While not a unified code with Great Britain, at least the codes were unified in this country.

        By 1932, the call for a more international English code led to a committee of members from AAWB and the American Association of Instructors of the Blind (AAIB) to go to London, where the British and American Braille Committees signed the Treaty of London, thus establishing Standard English Braille. While there were still some code differences, the codes were now much more similar.


Choice Magazine Listening

        Choice Magazine Listening is a free audio anthology for a special audience of blind, visually impaired, physically disabled, or dyslexic subscribers. CML was created in 1962 by the non-profit Lucerna Fund to offer the best of contemporary magazine writing, completely without charge, to adults unable to read standard print.

        CML selects and records memorable writing from approximately 100 leading magazines. Every other month, this unique, free service offers its subscribers eight hours of outstanding unabridged articles, fiction and poetry read by professional voices and recorded on four-track cassette tapes.

        The required four-track player is provided free of charge by the Library of Congress through its Talking Book program, which is available to those who are unable to read because of visual or physical handicap.

        In addition to four-track tapes, Choice Magazine Listening is also available to download, free of charge, onto your computer through the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, Library of Congress (NLS).  The new digital talking book machines, which you will need in order to listen to the downloaded material, are being distributed by the NLS.  To find out more, go to and click on "BARD Application Instructions."●


Out To The Ball Game By Lisa Brooks

Vision and Hearing Awareness Day At The Diamondbacks

        My husband once told me that the magic of going to a live sports event is in the experience of being one of the crowd. We had such an experience during the Diamondbacks versus the Giants baseball game at Chase field for the visually impaired and deaf awareness day on September 6.

We left our home that labor-day morning with our two guide dogs, and our three kids and set off for the ballpark armed with sunscreen, water bottles, a kid-friendly snack, and money for the bus. One short bus ride, a ten-minute free light rail ride, (baseball ticket holders ride free), and we were at Chase field. Thanks to an email sent to the AzCB chat list, we had planned to arrive early so we could attend a tour of a mock locker room and other hands-on exhibits.

After a quick mandatory search of my purse to make sure we were not carrying any prohibited items such as food, our tickets were taken and we went inside the park to meet with our group.  We fell in to step with Gail Wilt, our Phoenix chapter president, and her husband Jeff, and with about 40 other participants we rode in the player’s elevator down to the field level.

We walked by the pressroom where players are interviewed, the World Series trophies and other memorabilia, and went in to the mock locker room.  On display were baseballs uniform complete with jersey, mitt, helmet and cleats.  I was amazed at the feel of the thin and slightly scratchy material of the uniform shirts.  The kids and I delighted at the weight and feel of holding a regulation baseball bat.  We marveled at the fact that a little baseball, the size of a large apple, could cause such a stir by providing jobs and excitement for so many people.

The most unusual thing we saw were pieces of the field turf.  They had squares to stand on, and a piece to feel on a tray. It felt quite lush, and was actually wet to the touch.  We learned that the squares of turf are removed each off season to make way for concerts and other Chase field activities and is reapplied each season.

Our tour guide Becky, then introduced us to Graham Rossini the Diamondbacks director of special projects and fan experience. He gave us a chalk talk about the history of and future plans of spring training coming to the Scottsdale area and encouraged us to visit the new facility next year.  What could be more relaxing than cool weather and baseball?  He also described their commitment to accessibility and said they were committed to going above and beyond the requirements of the Americans with disabilities act.

After the tour, we went upstairs to guest services where we were able to borrow tiny Walkman radios, so that we could listen to the announcers calling the game.  I think we used up their supply.  They were extremely nice and actually brought mine to my seat after an extensive search for batteries.  It worked quite well, except for the fact that I had to hold the Walkman a certain way to alleviate extra static.  It really enhanced the game experience.

Then, we were off to find our block of seats.  We had a bit of a walk, but it was fun to learn from my children how many food places and gift shops we passed along the way. You can literally shop yourself through the stadium.  There were t-shirts, hats, stuffed animals, bats and balls available in pink or red, and countless other souvenirs.  There were places to buy ice cream, cotton candy, warm pretzels, and lots of other concession stands.

Our family sat in the front of our block located in the bleachers up from right field.

It was fun to chat and enjoy the game with other chapter members.  Along with the Arizona School for the Deaf and Blind, and Guide Dogs of the Desert, Chuck Drago announced our organization over the public address system.  The national anthem was sung beautifully from one of the students from the Arizona school for the deaf and blind.

The kids loved watching the pre-game dancers and all the entertainment on the big screens and the field during inning breaks. They even got their three seconds of fame as their picture flashed on the screen during the fan shots; three little kids all in a row.  We saw a marriage proposal, a hot dog race, and an unfortunate accident when a teen-aged boy got hit in the head by a fly away bat.

We ate lots of food, thanks to Ron and his feat of carrying two stacked trays full of food guided by his Seeing Eye dog through the stadium without spilling a drop.  We forced our kids to resist their desire for cotton candy till the fifth inning, watching reluctantly as the mobile hawkers shouting in their loud but friendly way “cookies, cotton candy for sale,” passed down the aisles ignored by us parents.

We laughed, and cheered throughout the game.  It was totally different and much more fun than being at home.  It was exciting to be part of a group of 31879 fans enjoying their day together rooting for their team.

Unfortunately, our team lost that day.  A two to zero win for the Giants.  But, we gained an afternoon of memories and a fun fan experience at the ballpark. I can definitely say that if we participate in vision and deaf awareness day next year, I’ll be back to buy more tickets to help raise money for the Phoenix chapter and also experience another live game for myself.  Maybe we’ll see new and old faces of chapter members and their families looking for a new, magical experience of their own. 


Update From the Southern Arizona Chapter (SAC) From Mitzi Tharin

        On November Fourth SAC will have a group ticket purchase fundraiser at the Gaslight Theater. It is fun and they have great melodramas with a good amount of humor. The show is titled: "The Vampire, or He Loved in Vein". Count Dracula travels from Transylvania to England and develops a taste for the blood of the innocent Miss Lucy. Jonathan Seward and Dr. Van Helsing set out on a desperate mission to destroy Dracula and to save Albert's wife before it's too late! Contact Sharon Booker for details at

Plan to attend Holiday Fun Night on December 10th at 5:30. We haven’t picked the described movie yet but the theme will be Christmas. There will be games, music, much food, and more. It will be held at SAAVI, 3767 E. Grant Road. The cost is just $3.

We are very excited to be having the 2011 AzCB state convention in Tucson next April. Our Convention Committee will work hard to make it a fun, good and informative one. We will present more convention information in the next newsletter.

We have the Gaslight Theater in mind as an entertainment venue during the state convention in April. As soon as we know the name of the play that will be presented then, we will let everyone know. They probably haven't written it yet. All we know is it's going to be a pirate show. It should be good; they always are. If you want to eat before the show they have a separate fifties-themed diner called Grandma Tony's, but they'll serve you in the theater as well.

Our chapter in Tucson has just started a book club with a new book every month. We have just finished “A House at Riverton” and the next book will “Water to Elephants”. (We are more than willing to take suggestions for new selections.) We talk about them right after our monthly chapter meetings. Folks can call in on the conference line so there's no reason why anyone can't chime in no matter where they live. All of these books are available from the state Talking Book Library and for download on the BARD website.

The House at Riverton By Kate Morton, read by Corrie James. Reading time 16 hours 51 minutes.  This detective mystery book was talked about on October 8th. Grace Bradley has long-held secrets about a young poet's alleged suicide near an English manor in 1924. When a film director contacts ninety-eight-year-old Grace about the tragic incident, she thinks back to the years she worked as the Hartford family maid and was their daughters' confidant. 2006.

Water for Elephants By Sara Gruen, read by Nick Sullivan. Reading time 12 hours 44 minutes.  This romance book will be brought up on November 13th. In 1931, veterinary student Jacob Jankowski's world comes crashing down when his parents die in a car accident. Broke, Jacob joins the circus, falls for Marlena, a married circus star, and cares for animals like Rosie the elephant. Strong language, some descriptions of sex, and some violence. Bestseller. 2006

A Redbird Christmas Written and read by Fannie Flagg, who also wrote Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe. Reading time 5 hours 33 minutes. This holiday book will be discussed on December 10th. Terminally ill Oswald Campbell leaves Chicago to spend his last Christmas in a small Alabama town. The single women there want his attention, and an abandoned young girl who is lame needs a Christmas miracle. 2004.

If you would like to join in on our book club call April Martin at 520-733-9685 or write to her at and she will fill you in on the details.



Come to VRATE By Dan Martinez

Your 14th Annual Vision Rehabilitation and Technology Expo (VRATE) will be held Friday October 29, 2010 9:00 a.m. to 4:00

p.m. at the Glendale Civic Center located at 5750 West Glenn Drive, Glendale, Arizona. This event is open to the public free of charge.

Come to VRATE and hear experts in the field of vision rehabilitation, see assistive technology with the potential to change your life, and talk with representatives from groups, organizations and agencies dedicated to supporting people who are visually impaired. People with combined hearing and vision impairment will benefit from information and services focused on the Deaf/Blindness.

Volunteers will be available to assist you in moving around the convention hall. If you need ASL or Tactile Interpreting please let us know as soon as possible by emailing your request to or calling (602) 273-7411 x 140.

If you are attending VRATE from out of town, the Glendale Visitor Center at 623.930.4500 or Toll-free 877.800.2601 can provide you with information on hotels in the area.

(The following is for information only and is not intended to be an endorsement or recommendation. DM) The Glendale Inn & Suites at 7116 N. 59th Ave. Glendale, AZ 85301  (623) 9399431 is located within easy walking distance from the Civic Center. Room rates vary from $49 - $159 depending on the season.

        There is FREE shuttle service from 19th Ave. and Montebello light rail platform to and from the VRATE event will be available with prior reservation! For further information please visit the VRATE website at or call (602) 331-7909 for a recorded message. Web Site:


AzCB and Foresoght Information

Foresight is available in Braille, large print and audiocassette.  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 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.



3124 East Roosevelt, Suite 4

Phoenix, AZ 85008



Ron Brooks, President




Daniel M. Martinez, Foresight Editor