Fore~Sight, The Newsletter of the Arizona Council of the Blind Fall 2008

 

First Timer: President and National Convention By Barbara McDonald

According to a speaker at the 47th American Council of the Blind (ACB) Annual Membership Convention, Daniel Boone once said, "I have never been lost, but once I was bewildered for three days." Overwhelmed and bewildered are two adjectives that pretty much described my feelings as I arrived with my husband, Richard, at the Galt House in Louisville, Kentucky for the ACB National Convention. Our plane had arrived late, and we were hungry and tired. The hotel was large with two separate towers. Luckily, we had a wonderful baggage handler, who took us to our room and told us how to get to one of the restaurants in the hotel.

Convention registrations had arrived late this year to ACB members. For the two weeks before the convention, I had been on vacation in Colorado with my husband and our son's family. (Sean, our son, Gina, our daughter-in-law, our three grandchildren, Kainoa, Kaleb, Kasaya, and Gina's father, Jerry) I actually took the registrations with me and mailed them from Colorado. We came home one day before our flight to Louisville. It was just enough time to read and delete my emails from an already full mailbox and to pack our clothes. It did not give me time to read the convention program that had been sent online. I've read programs before so I wasn't too concerned.

Early Sunday morning, I picked up our registration packets. They had received my registration, but not my husbands. What a surprise when I discovered the program was about the size of an hundred page spiral notebook. When was I going to have time to read this? Hotel lights are not the brightest, and I didn't have a CCTV. Getting adjusted to the three-hour time change was not easy either. I had already scheduled a tour of Louisville at 12:30 p.m. for my husband and me. We got back to the hotel in time to relax and have dinner before going to the opening session of the convention. Mitch Pomerantz opened the 47th ACB Convention at 7:00 p.m. He summarized the successes that the ACB had achieved this year especially the accessible currency ruling.

The general session's time was easy to remember because they started at 8:00 a.m. every morning until noon in the Grand Ball Room. We had to get up early in order to have breakfast before the session began. Arizona had 15 chairs for the Arizona Council of the Blind (AzCB) members attending. Our chairs were right up front after Alabama and Alaska. Mary from Alaska said that they sat the coldest climate state next to the warmest climate state. The general sessions began with an half hour of entertainment, an invocation, the Pledge of Allegiance, and there were usually three or four speakers before announcements. The general sessions were when the resolutions were read and voted on, 21 scholarships were awarded, and candidates were chosen for the eight open position: three for the Board of Publications and five for the Board of Directors. I only had to walk up to the microphone three different times to cast our state votes. Except for the general sessions' agenda, I didn't need the program for the mornings, but what to do during the rest of the days were a challenge.

Tours were scheduled for the afternoons. Some of our tours were rescheduled to different days. There were special interest groups. These groups might meet for breakfast or lunch for a fee, or later in the day for an information session, which may or may not have a fee depending on if they were serving refreshments. All the national committees had meetings. Exhibitors and affiliates had receptions (Some were free and some had fees.) Some affiliates sold candy or beef jerky out of their rooms. Deciding when and where to go to a meeting took planning.

Each evening before I crawled into bed, I would read the agenda for the next morning's general session. Then, I would go through the list of breakfasts, luncheons, meetings, and evening receptions. The problem was that all the committees, special interest groups, exhibitors, and affiliates had something scheduled. Because the tours had been sold out and alternative ones scheduled, I had to adjust our schedule. I missed the session called "Keys to the Convention" and "First Timers". Those definitely might have helped. I made a list every night of what events I wanted to attend the next day. I didn't over book and probably could have gone to more events. However, we did go to the National Industries for the Blind (NIB) breakfast, a Multicultural luncheon, the Guide Dog Users International (GDUI) business meeting, a caucus, the affiliate president's meeting, three tours, a "free" descriptive movie, and the final banquet. I didn't get to see that much of the exhibits and I missed the auction because I didn't think I needed anything. (They took in a record profit of $24,525.00.) We even found a little outdoor place next to a water park where my husband could enjoy a beer and cigar and I a Coca Cola.

At the beginning, I did feel a little bit overwhelmed, but by the end I was just getting into it. There are some things I would do differently. I am keeping this year's program so I can familiarize myself with all those committees, special interest groups, and what all those initials stand for. I'll complete my registration as early as I can so as to not get bumped from the tours. I might even go a day ahead and stay a day later. We missed the Church Hill Down's ACB Race because we got there too late in the day. Some members wanted to know about the latest gadgets. I will definitely pay more attention to the exhibits next time. I will recommend to the budget committee that we donate some door prizes, provide a reception, and plan a caucus with the four corner states. The 2009 national convention will be in Orlando, Florida. You can be sure that I will be more knowledgeable for that event. When the 49th ACB National Convention is here in Phoenix in 2010, I should be a whole lot wiser and more experienced. I hope you get to attend a national convention. It certainly was an adventure, even if a bit overwhelming at times.

 

May 1, 2009 - Save the Date!

Although the late summer breezes are still blowing and the monsoons are still coming almost every afternoon, its time to start thinking about next spring and the 2009 AzCB Annual Convention.

The AzCB Convention Committee has been hard at work planning next years event, and we want you to share in our anticipation as you plan to attend.

When? Friday, May 1 and Saturday, May 2, 2009.We will have two full days of meetings, workshops and an exhibits area, showcasing the latest and most advanced products designed to meet the needs of people who are blind or visually impaired. We are also planning a number of meals, parties, and of course, our annual AzCB Banquet.

Where? Phoenix International Airport Hilton Hotel, located at 2435 South 47th Street in Phoenix. You may reserve your room by calling the Hilton directly at (480) 894-1600. Room rates are $105 per night plus tax for a standard room and $135 per night plus tax for a suite.

As the convention approaches, we will be contacting AzCB local chapters, members and friends with an announcement and pre-registration packet. In the meantime, stay tuned to this newsletter and to the AzCB website ttp://www.azcb.org) for more information about our upcoming convention.

 

See's Candy

A variety of See's Candy is available through the AzCB now or for the holidays. Please call Ruth Druding at 623-937-1211 for more information.

 

Mark your calendars for VRATE 2008!

The 12th Annual Vision Rehabilitation and Assistive Technology Expo will be held at the Glendale Civic Center, 5750 W Glenn Drive, Glendale, on Friday November 14th from 9 am to 4 pm.

VRATE is a unique event that features informative speakers and daylong exhibits that provide expert services or products for people with visual impairments. This event is a wonderful opportunity to learn more about the newest technologies, medical research and helpful resources available to those with visual impairments.

Some Speakers & Topics Recent Advancements in the Treatment of Retinal Diseases Presented By: Sharam Danesh, MD. Recent Scientific Advances for Retinal Degenerative Diseases Presented By: Diane Bovenkamp, Ph.D. Information Access in the Digital Age Presented By: Linda Montgomery, MLS Arizona Braille and Talking Book Library Bill Pasco Sun Sounds of Arizona. Coping With Visual Impairment Presented By: Kevin Huff, O.D. Low Vision Evaluations Presented By: Sarah Welch, O.D. How to Become a Successful Bioptic Driver Presented By: Janet Menke OTR/L ViewFinder Guide Dog Demonstrations

The main hall will host about fifty exhibitors, including advocacy organizations, non-profits that provide programs and services, vendors of low vision technologies and government services. We look forward to seeing you there!

For more information, please visit the VRATE website at www.vrate.org or call (602) 496-1377

 

Bobbing Along with Bob by Robert L. Williams Sr.

Convention is like a big family reunion. Thus wrote Penny Crain of Sierra Vista in an article published in the January 2008 issue of the Braille Forum. The article described Pennys experience as a first-timer at the 46th annual national convention of the American Council Of The Blind last year in Minneapolis.

My 10th and my wife Fayes 9th ACB big family reunion came about with our attendance at ACBs 47th national convention in Louisville from July 5 to 12 at the historic Galt House hotel. This is a brief report covering another Big family ACB convention week filled with over 300 speaker presentations, programs, workshops, tours, hybrid car demonstrations and other events involving about 2000 ACB members, exhibitors and local volunteers.

ACB In The Winners Circle was a natural for the convention there given Kentucky and Louisvilles fame for the Kentucky Derby and horse racing. Inasmuch as Louisville was the host city for previous ACB conventions in 1965, 1980 and 2000, the theme could just have appropriately been ACB Returns To Louisville.

Following our check-in with hotel registration on Saturday afternoon, July 5, the first persons to greet us in the hotel lobby as they exited an elevator were ACB President Mitch Pomerantz and his lovely wife Donna from Pasadena. Donna is a member of the Multicultural Affairs national committee along with Faye and me and about fourteen others.

The welcome to Louisville party on Saturday night was co-hosted by the Kentucky Council Of The Blind and the local Louisville Bluegrass chapter affiliate. Heres a helpful hint to the planners of our own Welcome To Phoenix party in 2010; for refreshments dont serve cold popcorn. Salsa and chips went over well in 1992. Refreshments with a southwestern flavor should definitely be our 2010 welcome party agenda, I say.

The message by the Rev. Harold Adams on Sunday morning at the non-denominational worship service was informing and spiritually uplifting. The service, however, was without the helpful presence of a program presider. As Faye and I sat through the service I reflected upon the masterful job performed by our own Chaplain Dick Bailey at the 36th national held at the downtown Hyatt Regency so many years ago. Dick was also our contact person with the LDS church for volunteers that year. His absence is already sorely missed.

The opening general session on Sunday evening was informative, entertaining and a three-hour test of physical endurance. Highlights included comments by African-American Monica Storey Hardin, winner of the 2001 Miss Kentucky beauty pageant and the daughter of a graduate of the Kentucky School For The Blind. She is also a local CBS TV news anchor. Other opening session highlights included the presentation of 22 Life membership certificates, President Pomerantzs first convention report and the lengthy roll of state affiliates and special interest groups. The capstone of President Pamerantzs report was ACBs recent victory in court concerning the issue of accessible Currency.

Upcoming issues of the Braille Forum including the especially convention issue in the fall of the year will contain additional information regarding general activities, awards, speaker presentations, resolutions approved and other matters. In addition to the Morning general sessions and the all-day business session of Friday that included the Election of five new members to the ACB governing board, I attended the following: National Industries For The Blind breakfast and Multicultural Affairs luncheon and program with panelists on Monday, movie on Monday evening, a meeting on Thursday and the annual convention banquet on Friday night.

At the 238,000 square feet four-story APH facility I was privileged to shake hands and exchange greetings with talking book narrator Barry Burnsford as we toured the buildings basement area where its eleven recording studios are located. The banquet speaker was APH President and CEO Tuck Tinsley. Mr. Tinsley shared historic highlights about the development of APH from its chartering 150 years ago as an offshoot of the Kentucky School For The Blind. He also Shared information regarding the history of ACB over the years from its founding in 1961.

The Arizona delegation also included the following persons: Barbara and Richard McDonald, Harold and Arie Newsom, Ruth Druding, River Forrest, Terri Hedgepeth, Penny Crain, Judy Brangwin and Pat Collins.

Additional convention week information: 1. ACBs Minneapolis office will relocate to the Minneapolis Suburbs in August and its Washington D.C. office will relocate to Arlington, VA, by the end of this year. 2. Twelve issues of the Braille Forum are now being published again annually for the first time in three years. 3. ACB now has a debt reserve in excess of $1,000,000.00 4. In June the House Appropriations sub-Committee voted to allocate $34.5 million to the digital talking book program. This was totally unexpected. 5. The 2009 Presidents meeting and legislative seminar will take place from February 20 24 at the Holiday Inn Crystal City near Washington National Airport. Room rates are $119.00 per night plus tax. 6. 22 life memberships were Awarded at the opening general session. Life membership cost $1,000.00 with proceeds benefiting the ACB scholarship fund until a fund level of $50,000.00 is reached.

 

The MMS "Two-for-One" Program: With Free FM Scanner Radio!! By: Dr. Ronald E. Milliman

Would you like to be able to help your state affiliate or an affiliate of your choice, and at the same time, assist the ACB at the national level too? Well, now you can by participating in the greatly improved, "Two-for-One," Monthly Monetary Support (MMS) Program.

PLUS: While they last!! As a token of our deepest appreciation for your participation in the ACB MMS Program, we, the ACB President, ACB Board, and MMS Program Committee, are delighted to send you a pocket-sized, FM Scanner Radio when we receive your first contribution. This hi-quality, little FM radio comes complete with Ear Bud earphones and batteries for your FM listening enjoyment.

The MMS or Monthly Monetary Support Program is a way for each of us to financially support our organization to whatever amount we can afford on a regular, monthly bases. An amount you, the contributor, designate and completely control is automatically deducted from your bank, credit card or debit card account each month by the ACB and is used to fund the many critical needs of our organization. You completely control the amount that you give and from which account it is taken. It begins when you indicate you want it to start and ends when you let ACB headquarters know you want it to end. In the past, all amounts given to the ACB by participating in this funding program went entirely to support ACB national activities. However, the ACB Board very significantly changed the MMS Program, greatly improving it and making it even more attractive for each of us to participate.

Now, when you take part in the MMS Program, the funds are deducted from the account you designate, on a regular, monthly bases, as before, but with the change implemented by the ACB Board, you can designate to have all of the funds go to the national organization or you can, alternatively, designate an amount up to 50% of the net amount of your deduction to be given to an affiliate of your choice. This change allows you the choice of helping both the national organization and an affiliate of your choice at the same time. You can help two levels of our organization with one monthly deduction, thus, two-for-one! The affiliate you choose can be any ACB state affiliate you wish.

At the national level, we need funds to support our many programs that help all of us. For an example, each issue of the Braille Forum requires several thousands of dollars to create, publish in the many alternative formats and distribute to our members and other persons who share common interests in blindness issues. Funds are needed to pay the salaries of our national staff that are so totally dedicated to our efforts and do such a yeoman's job with everything they do. Funds are needed to pay rents on the space for our offices and the related utility bills. Our staff is busy every minute of their working days fighting for our rights, fighting for new programs that will be in our best interest, fighting to maintain existing laws and programs that benefit blind people, fighting to make accessible paper currency a reality, working with our attorneys for accessible point of service devices, to expand the use of audible traffic signals, to increase the use of descriptive audio for TV and movies, to at least maintain or increase our SSI and SSDI benefits, fighting to increase our employment opportunities, and fighting for many, many other issues and programs, far too many to list here. Without the diligence and never-ending efforts of the ACB staff, we would all be much worse off. The ACB staff is our voice on capital hill, and we need to support them by helping to fund their efforts.

In like manner, the various affiliates that make up the ACB also need funding to support their activities, such as on-going public education campaigns, scholarships, social events, defraying the costs associated with attending the state and national conventions, The Washington Seminar, etc. So, by participating in the ACB Monthly Monetary Support Program, you can split your contribution and support both the national organization and your favorite state affiliate, both, at the same time, with a single contribution, two-for-one!

Some members can afford more or less than others, and we certainly realize and respect that. All we are asking is that you help fund your state affiliate and our national programs with whatever monthly amount you can afford. We equally value everyone's contribution. To give you some idea, currently, contributions range from $10 per month and go all the way up to $100 per month, with the average contribution being approximately $25.00.

To get started, you can call the ACB financial office at 1-800- 866-3242 and have a form sent to you, or alternatively, you can access the form on our ACB website at: http://www.acb.org/mms.html. If you prefer, even better yet, you can call me, and I can help you fill out the form over the phone and submit it to our business office for processing. My phone number is 270-782-9325. If you prefer, you can e-mail me your phone number, and I will call you and fill out the form for you over the phone. My e-mail address is rmilliman@insightbb.com.

If you have any questions, you can call our ACB Executive Director, Melanie Brunson, at 800-424-8666, or you can call me directly at:270-782-9325 or e-mail me at rmilliman@insightbb.com and Melanie or I will answer your questions and assist you any way we can.

 

Court Says the Blind Will Have Meaningful Access to Currency

WASHINGTON, Sept. 5, 2008 -- The American Council of the Blind is pleased to report that District Court Judge James Robertson has told lawyers representing both sides in the case American Council of the Blind v. Paulson that the Department of the Treasury must make U.S. currency accessible to people who are blind and visually impaired as quickly as possible.

In its decision on May 20, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia remanded the issue of injunctive relief back to the District Court for further consideration. Therefore, a status conference was held Sept. 4 by Judge James Robertson, during which he made it clear to both sides that he will not allow any unnecessary delay by the Treasury as it seeks to comply with the court's ruling that requires paper currency to be distinguishable by people who are blind and visually impaired.

Robertson ordered the parties to meet and attempt to reach agreement on a schedule. The court intends to impose a schedule on the government for making future generations of currency accessible and to ensure that it is complied with.

Mitch Pomerantz, president of the American Council of the Blind, said, "It is apparent that this judge expects the Treasury to expeditiously comply with his earlier ruling in favor of accessible currency. Our outstanding attorney, Jeffrey Lovitky, is continuing to hold Treasury's feet to the fire and it is gratifying to know that the judge is likewise requiring accountability and transparency from the manufacturer of our legal tender. ACB and Mr. Lovitky shall stand firm on behalf of blind and visually impaired individuals in our demand that we have the same opportunity to independently determine what each bill is without the need for outside assistance, either human or electronic."

 

Fall Guide Dog User of Arizona (GDUA) conference!

Do you have a dog, a dog guide, or just love dogs? Then put Saturday November 15 on your calendar for our fall Guide Dog User of Arizona (GDUA) conference! We will have a quiet car demo during lunch so people can hear how quiet these cars are. Well also have speakers on various topics of interest such as dog health, food and nutrition, and training.

When: November 15 Saturday

Time: 9:00 AM to 4:30 PM.

Where: Burton Barr Library Pullium Auditorium.

1221 N Central Ave

Phoenix, AZ 85004

If you have any questions or need additional information, you can call or email the GDUA President Terri Hedgpeth at (480) 231-9557 terrih@asu.edu

 

Richard "Dick" Bailey, a Friend by Barbara McDonald

I probably have known Richard Bailey for fifteen years. He was beginning his 20th year as chaplain for the Arizona Council of the Blind, AzCB. He reminded me more than once to put the title of "chaplain" after his name on the board list. He even wanted me to make him the official chaplain in the AzCB Constitution.

He attended the Arizona School for the Deaf and Blind, ASDB. There is a plaque on the wall at ASDB, which honors him for his volunteer work. I know that he volunteered at Good Samaritan Hospital (where he had worked), Arizona State Braille and Talking Book Library, the Arizona Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired. He also served on the board for the AzCB, the Maricopa County Club, the Governor's Council on Blindness and Visual Impairment, and the Glendale's Commission on Disabilities. In my opinion, that plaque was well deserved.

He was a member of the Church Latter Day Saints in Glendale, where he had sang in the choir and was responsible for getting many volunteers to help the American Council of the Blind when their national convention was held here. He was a strong supporter of the Maricopa County Club, and organized field trips, most recently, the yearly corn festival trip.

Because we served on several boards and committees together, and he did not have a computer, he would call me a couple times a month, and say, "What's going on?" I miss those phone calls. I laughed yesterday when I remembered that Richard always was the first person to motion to adjourn a meeting. Richard had the name of "Rapid Richard", which he got from game we played at a strategic planning meeting. Richard was anything, but rapid.

Dick Bailey died peacefully in his home on July 3, 2008. It is very difficult for me to sum up a person's life in a few short paragraphs, especially when that person was a friend. I hope I have done a good job.

Tell the heavens and earth to celebrate and sing! Command every mountain to join in song!- Isaiah 49:13

Arizona Council of the Blind, Inc.

3124 E. Roosevelt St., Ste. 4

Phoenix, AZ 85008-5088

(602) 273-1510 or statewide 888-273-1510

FAX (602) 938-3748

www.azcb.org