Vision Rehabilitation And Technology Exposition
OPEN TO THE PUBLIC - FREE ADMISSION
Friday, November 8, 2002 9AM to 5PM
PHOENIX CIVIC PLAZA
Exhibit Hall E
111 N. 3RD STREET
VRATE is an opportunity to see the latest in accessible technology and low vision aids close-up. You will also connect with the people and organizations that provide a wide range of products and services for people with eyesight disabilities. See you there.
From the President's Desk
by Daniel Martinez
Upon my return to Arizona from the American Council of the Blind National Convention (July 8th) I got the word. The Arizona Council had applied for a Nina Mason Pullium Charitable Trust grant to provide a single point of contact 800 number for blindness information and referral. We did not make the final round for funding. I am disappointed.
Let me share some background information with you. The AzCB in cooperation with the Arizona Governor's Council on Blindness and Visual Impairment identified that comprehensive consistent easy to find and use blindness information and referral is an essential unmet need in our community. Once individuals are diagnosed with blindness and fall outside of the medical model, they are often sent home without much explanation. They are not given information about their eye condition, nor are they given information on support, adjustment, advocacy or other services aimed at improving their lives. They are ignored.
Other than advocacy, I have been reluctant to have the Arizona Council engage in direct service provision. It is simply too easy to become role confused when the lines between service provision and consumerism overlap. Yet, because the need is so great and because information and referral will positively impact the lives of people who are blind, we are compelled to take action.
Where do we go from here? Because the need is still here, we will find a way to have a single point of contact blindness information and referral service. We will continue to work with others in our community to implement this vital service either as a provider or as a supporter.
By Tom Belsan
One of the best things about the National ACB Convention is the exhibits. Many of the technology vendors and Organizations of and for the Blind have booths and special pricing for the Convention. For me the exhibit Hall has started me reading books again. Years ago I read everyday and several books a week. But for some reason I have not been reading. BookShare.ORG has changed my book reading world.
A couple years back at an ACB National Convention a new system was presented as part of the General Session Program. The new system was BookShare, which hoped to gather all the books that blind people had scanned over the several years that optical scanners have been used by the blind to read books. People with scanners have been reading and saving their books on their computers. Now BookShare was asking all the individuals to upload their scanned books to a common Internet location for all blind people to read.
As you might imagine the problems with copyrights and security were many. The Benetech people worked and solved the problems to the satisfaction of interested parties so that now blind people, like myself, can enjoy books in yet another way.
All the books are indexed at the www.bookshare.org Web Site. They are available for download at anytime. To satisfy the copyright laws we blind people must register and show proof of disability. This requirement is virtually the same as the one used by the Talking Books program. After completing registration you are able to get any book by using your password. There are some titles that can be accessed without registration. This allows you to try the system before paying the registration fee and the annual subscription fee. (Registration fee is $25.00 and the annual fee is $50.00, so your starting investment would be $75.00)
I have found the system easy to use and usable by anyone with the ability to download files, the files are small and can be downloaded using dial-up connections. If you like to read books this is another way to get material. Try the Web Site and look at the book selections using the very good search system. Learn how to use the system with books available without registration and I think you will get hooked like I have. I am reading books and authors I might never have requested from Talking Books and now I have books available real-time. If you are interested but have questions that I could help with just let me know.
Tom Belsan email@example.com
OVERLOOKING THE UNFORGETABLE
By Dr. Frank Kells, Resident Historian
I have just finished reading a new collection of quotes and excerpts from the speeches and writings of Helen Keller, including selected biographical anecdotes. I wasn't expecting to find anything I hadn't read many times before. No, I had a very special reason for re-reading the sometimes overly sentimental quotations.
I was hoping to find reference to a particular incident in her life in which I had the rare privilege of playing a very small part. In 1960, by sheer coincidence, I was one of some 300 people in attendance at Helen's 80th birthday party in Brooklyn, NY. I was a group worker on the staff of the Industrial Home for the Blind, which happened to be the national leader to work with the deaf-blind. (The IHB has since changed its name to 'Helen Keller Services for the Blind').
The party was called "80 Years 80 Friends" because an unprecedented gathering of 80 deaf-blind persons was assembled to help Helen celebrate. Of course, each one needed an interpreter/guide, especially during the reception when each met Helen and chatted via hand signing for a few seconds. I had the unique privilege of accompanying a sweet lady named Mary Gilmour and actually signed "Frank" into Helen's palm before introducing Mary to her.
In her remarks after the luncheon, Helen said that this was one of the most touching moments of her life, which is why I expected to see it in the afore-mentioned book. Right? Wrong! Nothing. Nada. Zip. But I'll take my clue from Helen's philosophy- - To forgive is divine and hope springs eternal.
By Thomas Belsan
It is that time again, what time? It is time for renewal of your Arizona Council of the Blind membership. If you have renewed for multiple years thank you and please think about finding friends and neighbors to join you as Members. If you have not renewed for 2003 yet please watch for your renewal letter and update your data and send back your letter as soon as you can.
If you don't know when your membership runs out check the mailing label on your Fore-Sight and below the city is the year of your membership. When you renew we will send you a membership card with the membership year printed and also the last two digits of the year are Brailled on the tape on the card. When you receive your card you will also get a short letter and on the back of that letter is a membership form. Please give the form to a friend or neighbor and get them to join and help us.
There are many Arizona people who are members of the American Council of the Blind but are not Arizona Council Members. Please if you know any people who are members of the American Council through another Affiliate or some other method please ask them to join the AzCB.
We also need people to become active with us. Think about what you would like us to do and how you could help with that project. The Board needs ideas and people who are willing and able to work to make the idea become a reality. Some ideas may not be possible but some that seem not possible can be done when several people get involved and work together. We have our State Conventions and we give our Scholarships, we are on the Governor's Council and we give support to the Foundation for Blind Children, the Phoenix Library, Sun Sounds, and other organizations. We can do more but we need people with ideas and energy to work with us for others.
Please send back your Membership renewal and take a few minutes to let us know your thoughts. Send a letter, send and e-mail, or call us at 602 273-1510 and leave a message.
2003 State Convention Takes Shape
Ruth Druding, Chairperson
AzCB Convention 2003 is in the planning stage at this time. However, much of the preliminaries are already firmed up. With the help of an excellent committee, the site selected is the Quality Inn and Resort, 3600 N 2nd Ave in Phoenix. This is the convention location in 2001. The date is May 2,3 and 4th. The theme selected is "Together We Win". The program will cover subjects from Newly Blinded to Macular Degeneration to blind children to guide dogs. There will also be exhibitors and presentations of available technology with hands on opportunities. Safety is also an issue, which will include personal safety and audible pedestrian crossings. Make-up is always popular.
There are also plans for government officers to hear our voices. Dial-A-Ride is also on the agenda. Panels of blind kids and Bingo should also create interests. Plans to award scholarships is an annual tradition.
Applications are being accepted now. Contact Tom Belsan at 602.273.1510. There will be a need for volunteers to aid folks. Keep this in mind if you know of social groups who could help. Also, if someone has some suggestions for speakers, please contact Dr. Edwin Druding, 623.937.1211 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Registration will continue to be $20.00 pre-registration and $25.00 at the door. Mark those dates now.
GUIDE DOG TO BE HONORED BY CONGRESS
Congresswoman Lynn Woolsey will honor yellow Labrador Retriever Guide Dog Roselle by submitting a Congressional Record Insert on the anniversary of the tragedy of September 11th. Roselle assisted her partner, Michael Hingson, from his office on the 78th floor of the World Trade Center, away from the collapsing buildings to safety.
Calling their story "an inspiration," Congresswoman Woolsey states, "Michael and Roselle have become well-known as representatives of the power of the human/animal bond to build a trust that can carry them through even the greatest tragedy.
"Michael has traveled with a dog from Guide Dogs for the Blind for 38 years. Roselle's ability to lead, and Michael's to command, under such difficult circumstances embodies the success of the lifelong partnerships developed through this program.
"Roselle's story demonstrates that there were many kinds of bravery on September 11, 2001. It is appropriate to honor the bond that enabled her to save the life of Michael Hingson."
Since the tragedy, Michael and his guide have traveled the world to share their inspirational story and provide education on how guide dogs save peoples' lives every day.
On the lighter side
As a senior citizen was driving down the freeway, his car phone rang. Answering, he heard his wife's voice urgently warning him, "Herman, I just heard on the news that there's a car going the wrong way on Interstate 10. Please be careful!"
"It's not just one car," said Herman. "Hell, it's hundreds of them!"
I have been researching possible fundraising projects for AzCB. I have some exiting fundraising packages that will work for AzCB. I presented these to the "board" at the Sept 14th meeting.
How many people (members) do we have that will help do the fundraising? Can we get 10 active members to help do fundraising? The more we have the more money we can generate.
I've had discussions about difficulties AzCB had about 14 years ago with our fundraising when we lost money. However, that's in the past. it takes careful planning and dedicated people to make fundraising worthwhile.
Currently we rely on funds from the vehicle donation program to support the activities of our organization. Because those donations are down this year, we must explore other ways to finance the work of AzCB. We must continue fundraising throughout the entire year. I will take action and be dedicated to going out and asking for donations. But, I cannot do it all on my own. Are you up to it? Are you a supporter for AzCB? Are you willing to work hard at fundraising for the sake of YOUR organization the Arizona Council of the Blind?
We must take action NOW!
If you want to help, call AzCB at 602.273.1510 or e-mail me at Michael Hinkle - email@example.com and volunteer in our fundraising efforts.
Thank you very much.\PR>Bobbing Along with Bob
A news story reported recently, that in 2002 Hong Kong replaced Moscow, as the most expensive city in the world. After my wife Faye and I vacationed in Hong Kong for a week in August, I still cant say for certain whether Hong Kong is really the most expensive city for locals and tourists. The only thing I can say with a good degree of certainty is that the airline on which we flew for fifteen hours non-stop to Las Vegas could use the training expertise of Gary Baer.
I arrived at this conclusion when at the beginning of our return flight to Las Vegas from Hong Kong I was informed by a well-meaning flight attendant that upon the jet's arrival I should remain seated until the plane's 299 sighted passengers, including my beloved wife, exited the aircraft. A courteous attendant would then assist me off the plane. Yeah, right!
Many members of the Arizona Council of the Blind will recall Gary Baer. Mr. Baer a wheel chair user, who was blind, served on the Council's governing board with courage and distinction including holding the office of First Vice President in the early 1990's. Due to the work of Gary and others, Phoenix Sky Harbor was recognized in the 1990"s as the most accessible airport in the nation for people with disabilities. Because of Gary's work with America West, that airline started providing emergency exit information in braille on all of its flights. Gary also assisted in the training of America West flight personnel in meeting the special needs of passengers with disabilities. Further, Gary helped squelch rumors that Southwest Airlines had a prohibition against dog guides on their flights. A career highlight for Gary was being selected as a resource person for the 1991 Gateway to the Skies International Conference sponsored by the Paralyzed American Veterans, which was held in Phoenix. That conference dealt with the need to make airlines more accessible to persons with disabilities. Both Gary Baer and American Council of the Blind National Representative Oral O. Miller of Washington D.C. where participants at that historic conference.
In case you are wondering, I did not follow the Singapore Airlines flight attendant's advice to remain seated while the other 299 passengers including my wife exited the plane in Las Vegas. Somewhere there is a flight attendant in need of Gary Baer's training wandering among all those empty seats on that marvelous airliner with its seven restrooms wondering just where that blind passenger went.
Arizona Council of the Blind, Inc.
3124 E. Roosevelt
Phoenix, AZ 85008
Phone: (602) 273-1510
Web Site: http://www.azcb.org
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