ACB E-Forum, July 2013

The ACB E-Forum
Volume LII July 2013 No. 1
Published by
the American Council of the Blind
The American Council of the Blind strives to increase the independence, security, equality of opportunity, and to improve quality of life for all blind and visually impaired people.
Mitch Pomerantz, President
Melanie Brunson, Executive Director
Sharon Lovering, Editor
National Office:
2200 Wilson Blvd.
Suite 650
Arlington, VA 22201
(202) 467-5081
fax: (703) 465-5085
Web site:
The Braille Forum (TM) is available in braille, large print, half-speed four-track cassette tape, data CD, and via e-mail.  Subscription requests, address changes, and items intended for publication should be sent to Sharon Lovering at the address above, or via e-mail to
The American Council of the Blind (TM) is a membership organization made up of more than 70 state and special-interest affiliates.  To join, contact the national office at the number listed above.
Those much-needed contributions, which are tax-deductible, can be sent to Attn: Treasurer, ACB, 6300 Shingle Creek Pkwy., Suite 195, Brooklyn Center, MN 55430.  If you wish to remember a relative or friend, the national office has printed cards available for this purpose.  Consider including a gift to ACB in your Last Will and Testament.  If your wishes are complex, call the national office.
To make a contribution to ACB via the Combined Federal Campaign, use this number: 11155.
For the latest in legislative and governmental news, call the "Washington Connection" toll-free at (800) 424-8666, 5 p.m. to midnight Eastern time, or read it online.
Copyright 2013
American Council of the Blind
All content created initially for use by ACB in publications, in any media on any web site domains administered by ACB, or as a broadcast or podcast on ACB Radio, archived or not, is considered to be the property of the American Council of the Blind. Creative content that appears elsewhere originally remains the property of the original copyright holder. Those responsible for creative content submitted initially to ACB are free to permit their materials to appear elsewhere with proper attribution and prior notification to the ACB national office.

Forum Subscription Notes
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ACB E-Forum July 2013 downloads

President's Message: A Turn of the Page by Mitch Pomerantz

At the close of the 52nd annual national conference and convention of the American Council of the Blind following the banquet on July 11th, I will conclude six years as your president.  Consequently, this will be my final President's Column, although likely not my last contribution to the "ACB Braille Forum."  So, I want to offer some thoughts about my three terms in office for whatever such musings are worth.
It is amazing just how quickly this past six years has come and gone.  For the first 18 months of my presidency, I was still employed with the City of Los Angeles and thanks to a very understanding department head, I was able to perform (juggle?) what amounted to two jobs at the same time.  There weren't many lunch hours that didn't include some sort of conference call, or discussion with ACB staff.  When I retired at the end of 2008, I had used every hour of vacation time and taken advantage of six mandatory furlough days to attend several affiliate conventions.  Thankfully since the beginning of 2009, I've been able to work out of the home office that Donna and I share.  There are numerous advantages to working from home, foremost of which is that the coffee is far better than anything I could get at my old office.
I have had the good fortune to attend more than 25 state conventions and the chance to meet hundreds of members who seldom, if ever, get the opportunity to attend our national gatherings.  ACB members truly are a microcosm of American society: liberal and conservative; African-American, Hispanic, Asian-American, Native American and Caucasian; religious and not religious; and people at all levels of the economic strata.  I've played bingo in North Carolina, trivia in Illinois, gone to a Broadway show with members of our ACB New York affiliate, and ridden a train with members of our Colorado affiliate to and from their convention.  I will cherish those experiences and so many others for a lifetime.
I will also remember the early morning and late-night telephone calls from leaders and rank-and-file members with questions or concerns; some of a serious nature, others not so urgent.  Since so much business is conducted in the Eastern time zone and I reside in the West, I've participated in more than a few 7 a.m. teleconference calls.  Luckily for me, my old working years habit of waking up before 6:00 has served me in good stead when such calls were on the agenda.
Overall I believe that ACB is a more democratic and politically active organization today than it was upon my taking office.  Regarding the former point, ACB's founders were committed to the principle of grassroots democracy but until 2011 - when a vote of those in attendance at the convention was required - that vote was taken by everyone standing.  This meant that one's vote could be known to others, not a particularly democratic concept.  In my opinion, for ACB to truly be the democratic organization envisioned by our founders, everyone should have the right to vote secretly, just as we do as American citizens when we go to the polls.  The vast majority of you supported this idea and we now have the secret ballot.  This is one of the two initiatives I championed that occurred during my presidency which I consider to be significant accomplishments.
Regarding the latter point, ACB has become far more visible on the national and international blindness stage than ever before.  Three major pieces of legislation were championed by ACB and enacted into law since 2010: the Communications and Video Accessibility Act, the Pedestrian Safety Enhancement Act, and the Food and Drug Administration Safety and Innovation Act.  As a result of our efforts, blind and visually impaired people will have greater access to live theater, movies and television; run less of a risk of being injured or killed by quiet vehicles; and be more certain to take the proper prescription medicine when they reach into their medicine cabinet.
We have responded to several Notices of Proposed Rulemaking on a variety of subjects of specific interest to people who are blind or visually impaired.  And while the effort to have the Bureau of Engraving and Printing has met with serious resistance despite ACB's court victory, legal tender that we will be able to identify will ultimately be a reality, whether the Treasury Department likes it or not.  Materials sent by the Social Security Administration to blind and visually impaired recipients and representative payees are now provided in accessible formats, again thanks to our willingness to advocate in the courts for our right to such access.
On the international scene, ACB continues to play a key role in crafting a treaty to permit open access to copyrighted material across international borders for blind and visually impaired individuals.  This work is being done under the auspices of the World Intellectual Property Organization, an entity which rivals the United Nations in terms of the diplomatic complexities inherent in developing a treaty of this kind.
We are heavily involved in the work of the World Blind Union and recognized by its leadership as a strong and authoritative voice on behalf of blind and visually impaired persons in the United States.  ACB has been honored to host the current and most recent WBU presidents: Arnt Holte and Marianne Diamond, during my time in office.  As a result of being elected Vice President of the North American/Caribbean Region, I now serve on the WBU Executive Committee.  I participated in that body's first two meetings, which took place during WBU's 8th Quadrennial meeting in Bangkok, Thailand, last November.
I would be remiss if I did not mention the area where I believe I failed to meet my own expectations as president.  It was my goal to triple ACB's revenues in order to expand our advocacy and other endeavors.  That did not happen!  These remain difficult economic times for not-for-profit organizations such as ACB; most are feeling the pinch with layoffs of staff and cutbacks in programs.  I championed the expansion of our office staff to include the position of development director with, to be frank, mixed results to date.  Nonetheless, I firmly believe that for ACB to be a serious player in the increasingly competitive fundraising arena, we must have a trained professional to direct the work of the volunteers who do so much to bring income to ACB.
The second initiative of which I am proud is the establishment of the ACB Advisory Board, an entity comprised of individuals who can open doors to, and make contact with, people with the financial resources to put ACB on a firm financial footing for years to come.  Presently, we have two individuals on the Advisory Board with expectations of increasing that number significantly over the next year.
It is not for me to judge my performance over the past six years.  Some time back I was asked about my legacy as ACB president.  I responded to the effect that the membership will decide what sort of president I was; all I could do as president was to be the best leader possible, consulting with the organization's leaders, our board and staff, but ultimately making decisions based on my experience and judgment.  Serving as ACB president has been a tremendous challenge, but one which was made far easier thanks to the scores of active and committed leaders with whom I had the honor to work.  The job was also much less burdensome thanks to our tremendous staff in our two offices.  A very special "thank-you" to Melanie, Eric, Lane, Sharon and everyone else who works so hard to further the cause of equality for all blind and visually impaired people, whether they are ACB members or not.
I now move on to the next phase of my life.  A consulting business venture looks likely in partnership with an old friend and colleague who is about to retire from the City of Los Angeles.  One of our country's founding fathers, John Adams, talked about the citizen politician who goes to Washington to serve for a time in elective office, and then returns home to his family and farm.  While I don't have a farm to return to, my role as a leader will be much diminished.  It is time for new blood and fresh ideas.  We will elect new leaders at our conference and convention.  For now, it is time for me to turn the page.

ACB Information Access Committee Chair Testifies Before Senate HELP Committee by Melanie Brunson, with Eric Bridges and Brian Charlson

Let me begin my report this month with a disclaimer. Although my name appears above as the author of the article that follows, the only part I can legitimately claim credit for is the first paragraphs.  The rest of what follows was co-written by Brian Charlson and Eric Bridges, ACB's Director of Advocacy and Governmental Affairs, and delivered by Brian Charlson orally to a hearing held by the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) at a hearing on May 14th.  This hearing marked the beginning of the HELP Committee's consideration of the issues surrounding access to movies that are shown in theaters, and the in-flight entertainment provided by airlines, for people who have visual and hearing disabilities.
Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), who chairs the HELP Committee, has introduced legislation calling on operators of movie theaters and airlines to provide audio description and captioning for the entertainment and information they provide to their patrons who do not have disabilities.  In an effort to initiate a discussion of how to most effectively provide greater access to these venues for all Americans, regardless of disability, representatives of theater owners, the movie industry, and airlines joined advocates as witnesses during the hearing.  We were very pleased that ACB was one of the organizations selected to testify.  Brian's testimony follows.  Please read it.  It will make you proud to be associated with ACB.
Testimony of Brian Charlson
Director of Technology, Carroll Center for the Blind, Newton, Mass.
Chairman, Information Access Committee, American Council of the Blind
on behalf of the American Council of the Blind
before the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education,
Labor, and Pensions (HELP)
on the ADA and Entertainment Technologies
May 14, 2013
Chairman Harkin, Ranking Member Alexander, and members of the HELP Committee, I want to thank you for the invitation to discuss the need to improve accessibility from the "Movie Screen to Your Mobile Device."  The Carroll Center for the Blind is a private not-for-profit organization providing blind and visually impaired children and adults training in skills that lead to greater independence and improved quality of life. I have worked at The Carroll Center for the past 28 years teaching blind and visually impaired people to use technology for education, employment, and independent living.
The American Council of the Blind (ACB) is a non-profit organization that represents the interests of blind and visually impaired people throughout the United States. Based in the Washington, D.C. area, ACB has tens of thousands of members from across this country who belong to more than 70 state and special-interest affiliates. I am proud to say that I have been a member of ACB for the past 42 years. As a teacher, advocate, and consumer, access to video content and the technologies to access them has played an important part in my life and the lives of those I interact with on a daily basis. What progress I have been privileged to assist with has largely been the result of collaboration. Recent examples of such collaboration include addressing concerns, such as full access to education for students, full access to the work environment for blind employees, access to entertainment and educational content and information contained in videos, as well as full access to the increasing array of advanced communications options in a multitude of settings.
My initial direct involvement in the concept of audio description came as a member of an advisory committee to WGBH Public Television. My friends and I viewed many hours of such programs as Mystery and American Play House. We helped those developing this craft to do so in a manner that was based on the everyday language and vocabulary of those who are blind or visually impaired. We helped them understand that sometimes less is more and the importance of not "stepping on" the dialogue, music, and other elements of the pre-existing soundtrack. When this process was expanded to include movies on video tape, we were pleased to see that the same principles we had developed together for television would also work for movies, but we were limited to only those movies that a very few producers were able to adapt.
As technology changed from the video tape to the DVD, some of the accessibility was lost, in that I and my friends had no means to navigate the on-screen menus required to play the audio-described soundtrack. We now must rely on sighted friends and family to turn on audio description each time we want to watch a movie in our homes. The first movie I ever enjoyed in a public theater, thanks to audio description, was "Titanic." Prior to that moment, I avoided movie theaters out of frustration and concern that the whispered descriptions provided to me by friends and family would disturb those sitting near us in the theater. The last movie I watched in the theater was "Les Miserables," but between those two there were times, when as the technology changed, I arrived to the theater only to find that the equipment in the theater did not support the format of the movie I came to see. In spite of this, my friends and I continued to be regular moviegoers and enjoy sharing them with one another and our sighted friends and family.
Now that video content is not limited to television and movies, but have expanded to YouTube, Hulu, and Apple TV, the challenges presented by a wide array of content distribution systems, hardware, and controls makes the chore of accessing this content a steep climb for both the producers and the consumer. It is, however, an ascent we must all take responsibility for.
In 2008, ACB established the Audio Description Project (ADP) to boost levels of description activity and disseminate information on audio description work throughout the United States and worldwide. We use the term "audio description" in order to explain the broader use of this information delivery mechanism. We advocates and consumers are committed to the development of audio description in a wide range of formats, including content intended for broadcast via television, movies, along with the performing arts, and museums.
The most current demographic information available reveals that more than 25 million Americans (about 1 out of every 15 people) report experiencing significant vision loss, i.e., individuals who have trouble seeing, even when wearing glasses or contact lenses, as well as individuals who are blind. I fully support S. 555, the Captioning and Image Narration to Enhance Movie Accessibility Act, and believe strongly that video description should be fully incorporated into all movies being produced in digital format and should be provided at all theaters that use digital technology to display movies. However, it is my firm conviction that theaters should not be permitted to delay the deployment of video description until digital conversion occurs. In fact, it is my position that video description should be provided in any instance and at every venue where visual information is an essential part of the information conveyed or the performance provided to members of the public. Without video description, such individuals have only very limited access to the information provided to the sighted public. Beyond this, I believe strongly that as more and more movies are offered to the public over the Internet and on DVDs, it is essential that video description be incorporated into both of these formats. Video description deserves the same recognition that is accorded to captioning by the movie industry, the federal government and the general public.
Perhaps the most important need addressed by description for video content is the ability to bring children and adults who are blind or have low vision into the mainstream of society. The inability of anyone, adult or child, to participate fully in popular culture, which has a unique power to bind us together, effectively alienates individuals who are blind or visually impaired from his/her community. As such, description provides the keys to our culture, to the extent that description helps people who are blind or visually impaired to be more familiar with media (television and movies), museums, theater, and other everyday events, thus allowing the description user to be more engaged and engaging individuals. This makes it possible for the user of description to be more socially integrated into society. The addition of description to a soundtrack is likely to increase the size of the audience of those who are blind or visually impaired. Description enhances the viewing experience not only for those who need the service, but also for those who view content with the blind or visually impaired person.
ACB was a leading advocate for the Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act's (CVAA) passage. Access to described programming on television, increasing the accessibility of wireless devices, such as smartphones and tablets, and insuring that their web browsers are accessible, are just a few of the provisions that will enhance our entertainment experience. As a result of passage of the CVAA, beginning July 1, 2012, TV stations that are broadcast affiliates of the top four national networks in the 25 largest TV markets, as well as cable and satellite TV systems with more than 50,000 subscribers, were required to comply with the FCC's video description rules (although updated to reflect the digital TV transition and a widespread phase-in mandated by the U.S. Congress). Reinstatement of video description was a critical provision for ACB, fulfilled in passage and enactment of the CVAA. The FCC's newer rules require: broadcast affiliates of ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC located in the top 25 TV markets to provide 50 hours per calendar quarter (or about 4 hours per week) of video-described prime time and/or children's programming; channels such as the Disney Channel, Nickelodeon, TBS, TNT, and USA must also provide 50 hours per calendar quarter of video-described prime time and/or children's programming; all network-affiliated broadcast stations and cable and satellite TV systems must pass through any available video description provided with network programming that they carry if they have the technical capability to do so and are not using the audio track for other program-related content. This pass-through requirement also pertains to TV delivered over telephone  systems; once a program is aired with descriptions, re-runs of that program must also include video description unless the capability of providing description is being used for other program-related content; exclusion of networks when there is a significant amount of live prime-time programming.
While the CVAA has and will enable people who are blind or visually impaired to gain greater access to information and entertainment, there are still significant areas of accessibility challenges. Current gaps in technology policy exist with regard to online entertainment and the overall accessibility of the Internet. The blind community is eagerly awaiting rules from the U.S. Department of Justice that should apply Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act to the Internet. Currently, people who are blind or visually impaired have significant challenges accessing content of all types when surfing on the Web. Accessing entertainment options is often quite challenging as links are not tagged to inform the user that content is available to be viewed or downloaded.
Today, you can go to a movie theater or watch television shows with video description. Unfortunately, when you visit web sites that provide this content, most all of the programming is not accompanied by description because there is no requirement to do so. The same holds true with the sale of DVDs. The Academy Award winner for best picture, "Argo," was video-described in the movie theater. When a blind consumer goes to a store to purchase a copy of "Argo" on DVD, frustration and disappointment set in when they realize that the video-described version that they had enjoyed in the theater is not included on the DVD.
Airlines are rapidly deploying touch-screen technologies as part of their in-flight entertainment experience. While this technology is considered cutting edge, the airlines have not implemented these technologies with me in mind. In fact, on an increasing number of airplanes, the flight attendant call button is now located on the screen and is no longer a button in the ceiling. ACB endorses S. 556, Air Carrier Access Amendments Act that call for these technologies to be made accessible so that people who are blind or visually impaired can have the same entertainment experience as other sighted travelers.  I thank the committee for giving these issues increased visibility and stand ready to assist in any way possible.

2013 Conference and Convention: Discovering How to Stay in Touch by Janet Dickelman

Many of you will be reading this article as you are packing for Columbus. I look forward to seeing you at the convention and to hearing from you about your convention experiences. No, it isn't too late; you can still book a room at the Hyatt Regency in Columbus by calling 1-888-421-1442.
For those of you who will be unable to join us this year, there are still many ways you can be a part of the fun and stay connected with everything that is going on from the comfort of your home or office.

ACB Radio

Note: All times shown are Eastern time.
Be a part of the excitement of opening session, listen to all the speakers and follow ACB business and elections. General sessions begin Saturday evening, July 6, at 7 p.m., and run Sunday through Wednesday from 8:30 until noon, and Thursday from 8:30 until 5:00.
Also on ACB Radio, hear what the candidates for ACB office have to say as they answer questions at the Candidates' Forum (Wednesday, July 10th at 7 p.m.).  Hear all the great performances from the Friends-in-Art Showcase on Tuesday evening at 8.  And join ACB's annual banquet by listening Thursday, July 11th at 7 p.m.
New this year: ACB Radio will broadcast one afternoon session as a live broadcast. All live broadcasts will be on ACB Radio Mainstream.
Other ACB committee sessions will be recorded and broadcast later in the day on ACB Radio Live Event.

Convention Newspaper

Keep up with what's going on at the convention with the Columbus Explorer, our convention newspaper published Friday, July 5th through Wednesday, July 10th. The newspaper will be posted to the convention announce list. To subscribe to the convention announce list, just send a blank e-mail to

Social Media

Follow the latest goings-on at the convention on Facebook and Twitter as I'm sure many people will be making numerous updates to all the social media sites.
Whether you are in Columbus or staying connected with us from home, I hope you have a wonderful convention experience. Feel free to contact me with any questions or concerns. I can be reached at the Hyatt or via cell phone, (651) 698-5059.  If you are able to join us in Columbus, I look forward to seeing you at the Hyatt.

World News and Information Now Available on ACB Radio by Marlaina Liebert

Do you want to know what's going on in the world?  Well, now ACB Radio can help you out!  We are featuring programming from such sources as the Voice of America, Radio Australia, Public Radio International, BBC and CBC.  The goal of this new stream is to bring world news and information to our listeners, and attract new listeners to our service, many of whom may not be blind.
Please share this good news with your friends and family!  To listen, just visit
And while I have the microphone, affiliates wishing to stream your conventions, watch our web site for a new informative form you will be asked to fill out.  It will help you understand all the ins and outs of the nitty-gritty stuff you need to know and have in place.  We at ACB Radio stand ready to support you!  Thank you for listening to ACB Radio, where your listening is our business!

Remembering Janiece by Peter Altschul

Since 1985, I have been a member of the American Council of the Blind (ACB for short), whose mission is to improve living conditions for people with visual impairments. Several years later, I joined Friends-in-Art (FIA), a small group of blind musicians, writers, sculptors, painters, and others who try to advance accessibility and opportunity for artists and audience members who are visually impaired. We encourage museums to become more blind-friendly and work with designers of popular music-related hardware and software to make their products more user-friendly for blind musicians. We also conduct several workshops at ACB's annual national conventions, as well as putting on a popular variety show known as The Showcase of the Performing Arts.
Over time, I became acquainted with Janiece Kent, a talented pianist/vocalist with a special affinity for show tunes and operetta arias; a gifted poet; a teacher of braille to blind students in the Washington, D.C. school system; a tireless advocate — and a founding member of FIA. She died peacefully last week after a year-long battle with cancer.
In the late 1990s, I moved to an apartment in Washington, D.C., about a mile from Janiece. My guide dogs and I spent many happy afternoons and evenings with her and Gordon, her future husband, in their apartment. She was a gracious and unassuming host with kind words, a listening ear, and a sense of humor that often caught me by surprise. She also sang the women's parts when I recorded demos of my music in Gordon's studio, often singing them correctly on the first take despite not having the time to review the material beforehand.
Janiece played a pivotal role in my courtship of my wife, Lisa. I sang to Lisa and others attending a FIA showcase Stephen Sondheim's "Not While I'm Around" with her accompanying on the piano. Lisa and I heard her perform several times at the Old Europe, a German restaurant near my D.C. apartment. And she teamed with Gordon to sing two Broadway show tunes at our wedding, causing many people to turn in their seats expecting a recording but seeing live performers instead.
However, I will especially remember Janiece's unique approach to making herself heard during meetings. She was no longer FIA's president when I joined the board, but she was always present with perceptive comments and wise suggestions … if we gave her the space.
And giving her that space took some practice, especially when we were under pressure to create a program for the annual Showcase in 90 minutes after listening to auditions over a three-hour period. Her quiet but distinct "excuse me," coupled with her clearing her throat, would attempt to change the tone of the rapid, impatient conversation in which the rest of us were engaged. If we didn't give her the chance to speak, she might or might not try to interrupt us again several seconds later. If she got our attention, she would clear her throat again, pause, and then make her comment in a quiet, slow voice. If she didn't get our attention, we lost the benefit of her wisdom. Over time, I learned to listen for her gentle but insistent cue that she wanted to say something.
This unique approach to getting heard has assisted me to become better at running meetings and workshops, especially when the tone becomes contentious. I have tried to do a better job of picking up cues from people with quieter voices so that they can have their say. When people's agitation causes them to talk past each other, I have consciously slowed down my rate of speech, often resulting in others following my lead and more productive work getting done.
So thanks, Janiece, for your gracious hospitality. Thanks for your wonderful music, your love of poetry, and your enthusiasm for everything artistic. Thanks for your efforts to make museums, concerts, and films more friendly to us blind people. Thanks for doing such a terrific job teaching braille to blind kids in the wildly dysfunctional D.C. public school system. Thanks for assisting me to become a better teacher and leader. And thanks for showing us that friendship can produce not just great art but also positive change in the world around us.

Readers' Memories of Janiece Petersen Kent

It is ironic that Janiece has left us as our D.C. affiliate approaches the celebration of its 100th anniversary.
I met Janiece way back in the mid-'70s and knew her to be a stalwart advocate, especially for blind children.  The best job of hosting the FIA Showcase were the times when Peter and Janiece emceed.  Ms. Kent will definitely be missed.
- Mitch Pomerantz, Pasadena, Calif.
To me, Janiece was a quiet, gentle, angelic soul who expressed her unique inner beauty in notes of piano music that flowed like a gentle country stream, her sweet and almost haunting singing which gave any lyrics which flowed from her voice a new vitality that they had never known before, and her wondering lines of poetry delivered with hesitant gentleness but quiet resolve.  To me, she was always the Queen of FIA, always there at the door of the FIA Suite Palace to welcome me or anyone else who would come along.
She was a great listener, comforter and friend.  For me, her gentle voice could chase away any fear or sadness.  I can only imagine what a wonderful, compassionate and patient braille teacher she was.  I am sure that the children that she taught loved her.  Knowing that she will never attend another ACB convention makes me feel very sad and empty, but I also know that part of her will always be with each of us at the FIA Showcase, in the prose and poetry reading, in the writers' workshop, in the FIA Suite, and in other places as we live our daily lives.  She has touched so many of us in so many ways which words cannot express, but perhaps our prose, poetry, music and art may be able to help us to express how we feel about our very special friend.  She has been an encouragement to so many of us here, and I am sure that she is now entertaining, teaching and encouraging those who are in heaven.
I would like to dedicate this year's prose and poetry session to Janiece, as she was a vital part of this event.  It will take place on Sunday, July 7 at 9 p.m.  During this session, we will set aside time to share our memories and thoughts about Janiece.  I encourage anyone who wants to come to join us, share your memories of Janiece, and, of course, your prose and poetry.  Even if you don't have something to share, you are welcome to just come and listen.
- Carla Hayes, McMurray, Pa.
I have so many fond memories of Janiece. She never hesitated to accompany me to see Les Miserables, even if it was for the hundredth time.  She is a teacher at heart.  Right now, I know that she is in heaven, asking God if he knows grade 3 braille.  And guess what? If he doesn't, I can't think of any better teacher than her.  Rest in peace, my beloved friend.
- Sandra Sermons, Rockville, Md.
I will remember Janiece, a former Illinoisan, as a passionate advocate for people who are blind in the arts.  By her performing in public in D.C., she proved that people who are blind can be out there, providing entertainment to those who are interested.  I suspect that there are many who have followed in her lead, aspiring to get out there and perform that neither Janiece nor her family will ever know that she encouraged.
Janiece went about her work with quiet determination.  While I never saw her as one of these people who would give a fire and brimstone kind of speech on an issue, you knew she was passionate about what she believed and would work her tail off for it, especially in the performing arts.
- Ray Campbell, Glen Ellyn, Ill.
I worked with Janiece for many years on the poetry workshop for FIA.  She wrote beautiful and lyrical poetry.  She sang like an angel, and I know she is now up there with the heavenly choir.  I also saw her perform at the little German restaurant where she worked for a long time, when I lived in D.C. in 1999.  She was kind, committed and very smart.
- Teddie-Joy Remhild, Burbank, Calif.
I knew Janiece was very ill, but I had no idea she had been battling cancer.
I had the pleasure of meeting Janiece at my first ACB convention, in 1978 in Utah. She introduced me to NABT, and we shared our passion for braille literacy for blind children and adults alike. She was very active in NABT as well as FIA. I will always remember her friendship, thoughtful comments and insights, sense of humor, and that glorious singing voice.
- Marcia Dresser, Reading, Mass.
Well, I guess it's about time for an old ex-husband to chime in here.
Janiece and I were together from 1971 to 1985, so we had a substantial influence on each other's lives. In 1971, she was still kind of in the folk music thing, doing some performing with Tom Bickford as "Tommy and Jay." Anyone remember in NFB Tommy and Jay led the singing in the contest that resulted in the choice of "Glory, Glory Federation" as the official NFB song? That, incidentally, was known as "Sing and Say with Tommy and Jay." Together, we moved forward musically into traditional American popular songs and her resuming studying piano and beginning to perform professionally.
Together we had our adventures, Hawaii in 1972 and Europe in 1974, where we attended the International Federation of the Blind convention in Berlin. We transitioned together from NFB to ACB and started doing some impromptu singing around the piano, which led to Friends-in-Art.
We have kept in touch over the years. We always had a meal together at the ACB convention and we talked on the phone occasionally. I spoke with her last on New Year's Eve.
I join with the rest of you in remembering and missing her.
- Roger Petersen, Mountain View, Calif.
I feel as if an extremely important piece of my personal history with ACB is now missing. In 1985, I attended the first ACB national convention I had gone to after a many year break of attending the national conventions. The last time I had been to an ACB national before that, there was no FIA. I had followed with great interest the creation and development of FIA through ACB publications and some FIA publications I had gotten. After I arrived and looked at the program for the 1985 convention, the first event I went to was an FIA board meeting, and the first person I met there was Janiece. She made me feel so welcome and so much that I was exactly where I belonged, that both she and FIA have been fast and great friends of mine ever sense.
I believe that it was 1989 or 1990 that I was selected to serve on a committee from Kansas doing a workshop at the International Very Special Arts Festival in Washington, D.C. It was a kind of a fluke that I ended up helping with this workshop in that most of the other presenters were Kansas-based special educators who were not in the blindness field, and whom I did not know very well. Once I got to the event, however, I happened to run into Janiece. Needless to say, as a local professional performing artist living in Washington, D.C., Janiece knew all of the Kennedy Center folks involved with Very Special Arts quite well. She had performed at several private parties hosted by Ted Kennedy, and when Jean Kennedy, mother to a President, and multiple senators, would see Janiece in the halls of the Kennedy Center, Jean would always stop with a friendly hello for Janiece. When I had the honor of running around the national festival with Janiece, I felt as if I had the honor to accompany royalty. My workshop was off in some basement alcove of the Kennedy Center. Janiece, of course, performed on one of the main stages.  We went to the culminating event together, which was a nationally televised event. Some other local friends of Janiece were also with us, including the executive director of Very Special Arts, Washington, D.C. After the televised show was over, we ran into Jean Kennedy again, and she recognized both Janiece and the Washington, D.C. program director. Jean invited us to attend an exclusive reception for the national television performers and invited guests. She gave us a handwritten note with her signature to get us in.
Janiece thus gave me one of my most vivid sets of life memories. I know realistically that Janiece, though one of the most talented performers I have ever known, spent many, many work-a-day days teaching in challenging schools with some very challenged students, with whom she was exponentially successful. Her life was not constantly made up of the glamour and glitz we experienced that evening any more than mine has been made up of such things, but Janiece was so talented, not only in the musical arts, but in her poise and graciousness, that she occasionally got to step into that world of the top echelon of artists. On one occasion, she was able to share the experience with this hick drama therapist and parody song writer from Kansas. I admired and deeply appreciated Janiece because of who she was in all of the different venues in which she worked, but I will always remember with great fondness that she shared a little bit of the magic of her accolades in the arts with me.
- Michael Byington, Topeka, Kan.
Janiece could play any song you requested and knew most of the words too. It was great to hear her when I visited D.C. She was always an inspiration. We'll all miss her.
- Ardis Bazyn, Burbank, Calif.
I spent some very happy hours in Janiece's welcoming apartment when I briefly served on the board of DCCB a few years ago.  I can remember struggling to read braille aloud at several of those get-togethers and how supportive Janiece - a superior braille teacher - was, not allowing me for a minute to feel embarrassed about my laborious braille reading as a recent learner of braille.  I'm sure that every one of her DCPS braille students experienced the same warmth and encouragement and total lack of negative judgment.  Janiece gave so much to countless blind and visually impaired students over the years.
The world is a quieter, sadder, less welcoming place without her.
I want to share my condolence with Gordon and everyone whose life was brightened by Janiece's presence in it.
- Penny Reeder, Montgomery Village, Md.

In Memory of Patricia La France Wolf, A True Friend by Teddie-Joy Remhild

As an ACB member for over 21 years, I have noted the passing of many devoted leaders and advocates.  I am writing today of the passing of a devoted member, a hard-working advocate and in addition, a true friend.
Patricia La France Wolf was born Nov. 21, 1942 in Cleveland, Ohio. She passed away June 5, 2013 in Pasadena, Calif.  She was one of the first people I met at my first ACB convention in Phoenix in 1992.  She had her guide dog, Rudy, with her.  He was her first guide dog, soon to be followed by several more over the years. She loved the organization and especially the guide dog affiliate, GDUI.  She also loved having a good time with friends. 
Pat and I attended many conferences together, both the state conventions of the California Council of the Blind and the national ACB conventions.  She also was one of the founders of the new affiliate, Diabetics in Action, and was looking forward to attending the 2013 convention in Columbus for all of the above reasons, but also to visit her home state and her sister who still lives there.  I believe that she was also considering a run for president of the Diabetics in Action.
Pat had been diagnosed with type-one diabetes as an infant and was very committed to education of diabetics and their families.  She was actually considered a medical miracle, having lived well past her 70th birthday with this devastating disease.  The Eli Lilly Pharmaceutical Company had honored her for that reason some years ago and brought her to Boston for that recognition. During her life of living with type 1 diabetes, she had not only overcome blindness, but several heart attacks, quadruple bypass surgery,   mesenteric arterial surgery and two years on dialysis.
Prior to her vision loss Pat had been a registered nurse, working with both pediatrics and the emergency room. Subsequent to her vision loss, she returned to college to obtain her master's degree in rehabilitation.  She then spent 20 more years as a state rehab counselor here in California. More than an organizational colleague, Pat and I shared a close friendship for over 20 years, based on the many parallels we shared in life, as well as our mutual love of life and travel and fun!  We were both single parents, married twice, experienced vision loss after age 30 and a late life return to college for career advancement.
We always remembered birthdays, celebrated Christmas and New Year's and loved retail therapy and doing lunch!  She was also passionate about rock and roll.
I will remember her love of life, her family and her friends.  I am blessed to have been one of them.

Readers' Memories of Pat Wolf

It is with much sadness that I must inform you of the passing of my wife and best friend, Patricia La France Wolf. She suffered a massive heart attack on Monday, June 3rd, 2013. While all the medical team involved did their best, her injury was just too great to recover from. Pat passed away on Wednesday, June 5th, 2013 at 6:10 p.m. She was surrounded by her loving family and friends, including her daughter Lorraine and myself. While it was the most challenging of days, it was also a time for family members and close friends to come together with a singularity of cause. I am proud of our family and of the friends that make up our greater household.
The measure of any person's life is their positive impact on others. Compared to this standard, Pat's life rang true and loud with a chorus of appreciation for her part in our lives. She touched so many people for so many of the right reasons. I think that is why we can all join in and celebrate this marvelous life that was lived to the fullest, and not think of anything that was lost this week. Pat may not be with us, but she will never be gone. She will always be the love of my life and I will carry her with me always. I am certain you have a special place in your heart for her as well.
I am touched by the outpouring of love and support that I have received. Be strong in knowing that Pat lived her life on her own terms right up to the very last moment. May God bless you and keep you as you receive this news.
- Perry Wolf, Temple City, Calif.
In Pat, we've lost an amazing woman and a tireless advocate for all blind people.  I will always remember making my way through the crowd and giving Pat a big hug just a few weeks ago in Burbank. 
Rest in peace, dear Pat, your light shines on.
- Don Brown, Richmond, Calif.
When I think of why I am proud to be a CCB and ACB member, I think of Pat and her dedicated and loyal spirit of advocating passionately for the rights of blind and visually impaired folks.  As I mentioned earlier this morning on a post to CCB, Pat was one of the first successful blind adults I met prior to knowing much about and even being a member of the Council.  Having met her through local channels in the early '90s while transitioning from high school to college, I met Pat and to this date am ever so grateful for her guidance, advice and grace.
- Richard Rueda, Union City, Calif.

Update from GDUI on Guide Dog Schools

As many of you are aware, graduates of several guide dog training programs are concerned because of recent, significant changes that some of those programs have made to their training departments and to field services.  To date, I have been contacted by several guide dog trainers who are extremely appreciative of GDUI's letter. They have thanked us for drafting and circulating the letter, saying that they believe it is having a positive impact.
On May 7, 2013, GDUI sent out a letter to the leadership of each U.S. guide dog training program. The text of that letter is pasted below.
May 7, 2013
Dear Guide Dog Training Program Leadership and all who support high-quality guide dog training:
Guide Dog Users, Inc. (GDUI), the largest organization of guide dog consumers in the United States, supports and appreciates the guide dog programs that train our guides and we are invested in their future success. This is why we, officers of GDUI, are writing on behalf of our concerned members to ask U.S. guide dog training programs to give the highest priority to recognizing and retaining the service of committed, professional guide dog trainers.  We are deeply concerned by recent, apparent, large cuts in experienced staff at some major guide dog training programs.  The expertise of committed, professional guide dog trainers is essential to both guide dog handler-consumers and the schools that exist to provide high-quality guide dog training. We believe that it is in the best interest of the schools to recruit, as well as retain and reward the expert trainers who have made a career commitment to this profession. Please share our letter widely among your staff and directors.
We are concerned for the future of U.S. guide dog training when there is a perceived lack of employment security for experienced guide dog trainers. GDUI urges every guide dog school administrator to please take action to protect and safeguard the careers of these specialized professionals who literally make guide dog training programs possible. If a guide dog school fails to retain committed, expert trainers, doing so suggests a fundamental lack of understanding of the needs of guide dog users and reflects questionable business decision-making.
Experienced guide dog trainers provide immediate, direct service to the consumers that a school serves. Moreover, if a school demonstrates commitment to its dedicated expert trainers, it motivates and encourages confidence in younger trainers as they make their career decisions. Conversely, a school's failure to reward its committed guide dog trainers with job security shakes the morale of its remaining trainers, discouraging newer hires from placing confidence in a guide dog training career and discouraging consumers' confidence in that school. The reputation of a school among consumers and other experts who might recommend that school depends on the actions the school takes with respect to this reality.
GDUI members believe that it is critical that guide dog training programs support trainers not only because these dedicated individuals deserve it, but because the quality of the guides and training which a school provides depends on the existence of a stable and secure career path for guide dog trainers. These highly motivated professionals, through their many years of practical experience, have acquired invaluable expertise both in training dogs and in understanding the unique needs of those of us who are visually impaired.  The demands of the job are physically and emotionally rigorous. It is primarily these uniquely experienced and qualified trainers who ensure the reputation and future of the guide dog training programs.
GDUI members gladly contribute in many ways to the programs that have trained our guides. We promote our schools, recommending them to others, and by example, working effectively with our guides in all of our day-to-day business. GDUI members also support guide dog schools by donating funds and by our efforts in soliciting donations for the schools. GDUI members have been shocked and distressed to learn of extremely effective mid-career guide dog trainers who find themselves casualties of the business decisions of their employers, and view this as a school's lack of commitment to the consumers that the school serves through its trainers. This is an extremely important issue for us.
GDUI supports the women and men who have devoted their lives and talents to guide dog training because they contribute significantly and uniquely to the quality of our lives. The future of guide dog training programs depends on the expertise of these specialized trainers and the expertise that the next generation of trainers can gain through working with these trainers. Experienced guide dog trainers play a vital role in the reputation and very existence of each and every guide dog training program. This matter is of utmost importance to all of us — guide dog schools and consumers alike. GDUI urges guide dog schools to take tangible action to retain the service of these specialized professionals and to safeguard their employment.
Thank you,
Laurie Mehta, President
Guide Dog Users, Inc.
Mary Beth Randall, GDUI First Vice President
Charles Crawford, GDUI Second Vice President and Advocacy Chairman
Sarah Calhoun, GDUI Secretary
Mary Beth Metzger, GDUI Constitution Resolutions Chair and board member
Dianne B. Phelps, GDUI Special Concerns Co-chair and board member
Paula Barton, GDUI Special Concerns Co-chair and Office Manager

Can Medicare Save Money for Beneficiaries & Taxpayers Alike? by Ron Pollack

(Editor's Note: Ron Pollack is the executive director of Families USA, the national organization for health care consumers.)
Since Medicare Part D went into effect in 2006, prescription drugs have been an integral part of the Medicare benefit package. So, the question of how seniors can save additional money on medications often comes up, but so does the question of how the entire Medicare Part D program can be more cost-effective and save taxpayers money without jeopardizing enrollee benefits.
Q: Will closing the Part D "doughnut hole" really save beneficiaries money?
A:  Many seniors may not be aware that the infamous "doughnut hole," or gap in coverage, is closing thanks to the Affordable Care Act. Before the health care law was passed, if beneficiaries reached the initial limit on total drug expenses ($2,970 in 2013), they had no prescription drug coverage until they spent an added $3,700 out of their own pockets. But in 2013, people in the doughnut hole are receiving discounts of 52.5 percent on name-brand drugs and 21 percent on generics. These discounts will result in significant savings for about 4 million Medicare beneficiaries in 2013. More importantly, the discounts will continue every year until 2020, when the doughnut hole will be completely eliminated.
Q: Where can we find more value for Medicare dollars? 
A: The best opportunity for finding smart savings in Medicare is looking for better deals on what Medicare pays for prescription drugs.
Plans that offer coverage under Medicare Part D are run by private insurers, and Medicare is prohibited from negotiating directly for discounts. An independent 2011 study by the Department of Health and Human Services' Inspector General found that drug manufacturers provide an average 19 percent discount to Medicare Part D plans, while state Medicaid programs receive a discount of 45 percent for the same drugs. This is a substantial savings that could be passed on to beneficiaries if Medicare was allowed to negotiate prices like Medicaid does.  
Q: In what ways can Medicare get a better bargain on prescription drugs?
A:  Substantial savings could come from obtaining discounts on drugs used by low-income beneficiaries. In fact, before Medicare Part D was enacted in 2003, drug manufacturers were required to provide discounts to low-income beneficiaries. Legislation that has been introduced both in the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives, and the President's budget proposal, all call for these discounts to be restored. Estimates show that these discounts could save the Medicare program anywhere from $120 to $140 billion over the next 10 years.
The savings from these discounts could be used to improve other aspects of Medicare, or to reduce the deficit.
Q:  Would higher discounts in Part D affect the pharmaceutical industry's research and development work? 
A:  Research and development actually thrived at the same time many of these deeper discounts were in place in the 1990s and early 2000s.
Q: Are there other ways for Medicare to save money on prescription drugs?
A: Other options for lowering the cost of the Part D program include allowing Medicare to negotiate directly with pharmaceutical manufacturers (like the Department of Veterans Affairs does), and letting Medicare operate its own Part D plan alongside private insurers. These alternatives are more complicated than the discounts discussed above, but they are worth considering in the future.
Q: Why do we need to search for savings in Part D?
A: In today's economy, leaders in Washington have tough choices to make about health care spending. It is true that Part D costs less than initially forecast, but that is because enrollment is about 25 percent lower than originally projected, and because increased use of generics has slowed drug spending overall. These developments should not prevent us from looking for better value for taxpayer dollars.

How to Encourage Newly Blind Individuals That It's OK to be Blind compiled by Ardis Bazyn, ACB Membership Chair

When we discussed the topic "How to Encourage Newly Blind Individuals It's OK to be Blind," we received some valuable suggestions. One key message relayed throughout the call is making sure we treat every blind person as worthwhile, no matter what their blindness skill set. In the blindness community, some who have been blind for a long time may expect newly blind people just to "get over it," meaning the urge to stay home and to depend on others to assist them. We need to reassure them that it is OK for them to try new things and not expect to learn everything immediately.
One of the ways we can assist those losing sight and their family members is to show them how we accomplish tasks and that we don't allow our blindness to keep us from enjoying life. We can display this by having chapter members involved in outreach projects. Your chapter can set some goals for involvement in various activities in your community. Some ideas are:

  • Speaking at elementary schools
  • Visiting low-vision support groups
  • Sharing the tools you use with others around you
  • Networking with other organizations
  • Inviting public to fundraising events
  • Showing braille and print cards, braille-and-print books, and gadgets for those with low vision
  • Highlighting photos of blind members involved in recreation, family celebrations, school activities, and traveling
  • Presenting yourself professionally
  • Creating a Mardi Gras theme experience with casino games, poker tables, braille cards, beads, and mats
  • Having wine and cheese parties to educate people
  • Having 800 number for people to make inquiries
  • Move your meetings to different places including senior centers
  • Educate your community by planning activities such as socials and events
  • Wrap presents at Christmas at Barnes & Noble or another store
  • Have your chapter provide a tech Olympics for blind children to show how well they use various assistive technology devices
  • Hold a braille challenge
  • Read stories in braille at a book store, in hard-copy braille or on braille notetaker

When we meet newly blinded people and parents of blind children, how we act and react can make a difference in improving their attitude. Here are some thoughts shared on how to help them:

  • Encourage learning of blindness skills.
  • Share your accomplishments with them.
  • Accepting that each person adapts to blindness differently. Some need more assistance than others.
  • Seeing blind people operating independently because it's not a death sentence.
  • Independence is more fun than depending on someone else all the time.
  • Accept blind people as they are, whatever skills they have.
  • Seeing some blind people use technology such as smart phones for reminders and other alternate ways instead of braille.
  • Using a white cane is useful for independence and getting assistance when needed.
  • Gadgets are available for both totally blind and low vision.
  • Blind people can be confident and self-assured.
  • Encourage blind people to ask for help when necessary.
  • Give brochures to doctors and ophthalmologists.
  • Blind people need to advocate for themselves.
  • Sharing your life story because it may make others feel they can cope.
  • Have a sense of humor about difficult situations.
  • Learn how to be a leader as a blind person..

The next two membership focus calls will be Monday, August 27 at 5:30 pm Pacific/8:30 p.m. Eastern on the topic: "How to get people to attend and access materials at convention," and the last Sunday in October at 5 p.m. Pacific/8 p.m. Eastern on the topic: "Tips on bonding officers and board liability insurance."

Repeated Interaction Is the Best Way to Understand Disabled by Larry P. Johnson

(Reprinted from "The San Antonio Express-News," April 29, 2013.)
(Editor's Note: Larry P. Johnson is an author, public speaker and advocate for people with disabilities. Contact him by e-mail at, or visit his web site at
Let's pretend that you are blind, deaf or confined to a wheelchair for 30 minutes, or an hour, or even for a whole day.
How would it make you feel? What would you learn about being disabled? Well, it's limiting. It's frustrating. It's scary. It's certainly not something you want to have to live with for the rest of your life. Right?
Every year, scores of college campuses, private employers and government offices, even some elected public officials, participate in what are called "Disability Simulation Days," in which non-disabled faculty members, students, employees and city councilmen try to experience disability by putting on blindfolds, plugging up their ears or riding around in wheelchairs. Does it work?
By doing it, are they more aware of the talents, abilities, resources and skills of people with disabilities? Are they more aware of the social discrimination, chronic high unemployment and general feelings of exclusion experienced by persons with disabilities because they have participated in a one-hour disability simulation exercise?
Several years ago, I was in a bicycle accident which resulted in my breaking my hip and collarbone. During part of my rehabilitation, I had to use a wheelchair to get around. Being blind and trying to navigate my way around the rehab center in a wheelchair was extremely challenging. This was no simulation. It was the real thing.
In my view, disability simulation exercises teach the wrong things. They emphasize the barriers, the obstacles, the limitations that confront people with disabilities. Note the phrase "confined to a wheelchair."  It sounds as though the person using a wheelchair is a prisoner. Yet, in reality, the wheelchair actually provides him or her the freedom to get around.
My white cane allows me to travel independently. Cochlear implants and hearing aids help a person who is hearing-impaired to better understand what is being said to them.
If you should lose your ability to see, or hear or walk, you can learn alternative ways to read, to communicate or to travel. You can work, go to school, get married, have a family. The real pain in having a disability is society's attitude of exclusion and discrimination.
Disability simulation exercises tend to perpetuate the myths of incompetence and dependence among persons with disabilities. A better way to build understanding and acceptance of persons with disabilities is through daily repeated interactions, serious conversation and a genuine awareness of the fact that, as human beings, disabled or non-disabled, we are more alike than we are different.
And that's how I see it.

It's What You Do with What You Got by Carl Jarvis

"What an absolutely glorious spring day," I sighed, chomping down on a big slice of hot banana bread oozing in butter.
"It could be a little warmer and I wouldn't complain," grumbled Winston, the Wonder Cat, as he sprawled out on the warm deck.
In case you've not met him, let me introduce Winston.  He appeared out of the forest some years back, looked our house over and decided that it would do him just fine.  Something had chomped off his tail and done a little damage to his hip, and he was covered with ticks and fleas.  But Winston was a survivor and we opened our door and our hearts to him, after a trip to the vet, of course.
Winston was lean, sharp-eyed and quick in those days.  Now, glaucoma has claimed his eyesight and too many late-night snacks have fluffed up his soft, black fur to a cuddly 25 pounds.
"I should be out here with the brush axe clearing the tall weeds on the water tank trail," I mused.
"Why would you want to do that?  Just relax and enjoy the sunshine," Winston said, rising up and giving a big stretch.
"Well, I used to be out early in the morning cutting up firewood, clearing the brush along the road and filling potholes.  I just feel guilty sitting here doing nothing."
"So what's so wrong with doing nothing?" Winston purred, trying to clamber up into my lap.
"Look at you," I told him. "You have gotten so fat you can't even hop up on my lap or the bed without help.  Don't you miss those carefree days when you could leap into the air after the butterflies and chase squirrels up the trees?"
Winston began kneading my expansive stomach until I grabbed both of his paws.  "That was then," he said, trying to get around my hands, "and this is now.  Sure I had good times.  But I was young and agile back then.  I'd kill myself if I tried doing that today."
"But I can't help thinking how it was just a few short years ago," I complained.  "I could walk for miles without tiring, cut up fallen trees and pull the logs down where we could cut them up for firewood, and still have enough energy to go out for the evening.  Getting old just isn't what it's cracked up to be."
"If you ask me," Winston said, beginning to do his housekeeping while perched on my lap, "If you ask me, you are spending far too much time missing yesterday.  You're going to wake up one fine day and realize that you've missed today."
Winston hopped down and waddled over to a spot on the deck that had been warmed by the sun, sprawling out full length. "Yes," he yawned. "Those were good times, and I did enjoy every minute.  But today is good times, too.  I would rather focus on the joy of being here now than to become frustrated wishing I could go back in time."  Winston looked up at me and then closed his eyes.  As he drifted off to sleep he murmured, "Remember, it's what you do with what you got that counts."
I considered the words of Winston the Wonder Cat as I reached for another tasty slice of banana bread.  "You know," I said to myself, "I think you've got something there, my chubby little buddy.  I'm going to start right now to enjoy today for all that it is, and with all that I have to give it."

Paddling for a Cure by Sharon Lovering

Last spring, Miami resident Jose Tamayo set out on a 65-mile canoe trip to raise money to find a cure for cystic fibrosis. While not unusual in most respects, one thing set Tamayo apart from those who joined him for the journey: he's blind.
Tamayo lost his sight about 9 years ago to retinitis pigmentosa.  He began paddling canoes as a hobby in college.  He currently canoes a few times a year. This trip took him and his group from Fort Meade to Arcadia, Fla., a little over 65 miles over the course of five days.
Why paddle 65 miles?  "I wanted to make this a parallel," Tamayo says. "Children with cystic fibrosis call it 65 Roses (R)." He notes that the kids find the words "65 Roses" easier to pronounce.  His daughter Meli is one of them.
Cystic fibrosis is a condition that afflicts roughly 30,000 children and adults in the U.S.  It is very prevalent among Caucasians.  The basic defect is the inability of cells to process sodium.  Mucus builds up in the lungs and elsewhere, and bacteria breed in the mucus.  The defect doesn't allow the sodium to break down the mucus.  When the lungs try to protect the body from the bacteria, they build fibrous scar tissue, and the person eventually loses the ability to breathe.  Average life expectancy is 30 years, though some people do live longer; Tamayo knows a 58-year-old man who has cystic fibrosis.
Life expectancy has a lot to do with which genetic mutation you have, he adds.  There are hundreds of variations of CF, and scientists are discovering new variations all the time.  "Some tend to be rougher than others," he says.  "There's new medication now that addresses the underlying issue, but that's for a specific mutation of CF." The gene mutation responsible for cystic fibrosis was discovered in 1999.
Meli, now 11, was diagnosed at the age of 3 months.  She's "a good student, very smart, always happy," he said, a father's pride noticeable in his voice.  "That's how we've been able to be positive about this kind of thing.  She's very inquisitive, looking to learn and learn more.  She often wonders 'Why me?' but she doesn't seem to be very upset about it.  She knows what she has.  We try to keep it as positive as possible and try to help her understand it, and she does."
Treating cystic fibrosis requires quite a bit of therapy, including a daily regimen with nebulizers and aerosols, and physical therapy to get rid of the mucus build-up.  Instead of being a thin, slippery substance, the mucus of a person with CF is a thick, glue-like substance that builds up in the lungs and causes a lot of other complications.
On average, Tamayo noted, his daughter is only hospitalized once or twice a year because of the buildup, though she was recently diagnosed with diabetes due to CF. "CF is not good for anyone," he said. "She's a good kid.  She has a lot of potential.  She loves life – I know that. I fight to try to make things better for her, and for all the kids in this situation. I've been able to help my daughter, and I figured, if I'm paddling 65 miles for this cause, I can raise awareness and get people to see that what I'm doing is something good and it makes a statement. No matter who you are, you can do something if you really want to do it."
In April of this year, Tamayo and his team took on the Great Strides walk at Miami Lakes' Graham Park. The walk is the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation's fundraiser to help find a cure.  Want to help?  Visit

The If/Then Promise

Give me a hard path to follow;
I will choose sturdy equipment;
Ask questions before I start
So I can plan and succeed.
Bury my dreams in a mysterious hole;
I will remove what covers them
So they can see light again,
Hold my attention.
Tell me I can't reach what's twice taller than me;
I will network, borrow a stepping stone,
Add it to my treasure trove
Of tricks already accomplished.
Withhold your friendships because, in your eyes,
Blindness makes me less than whole;
I will regret our mutual loss,
Find greener pastures.
If my patience and performance don't equal your altitude expectations,
Influence your attitudes;
I'll reluctantly nod,
Understanding that you don't yet understand.
- Marilyn Brandt Smith

Affiliate News

Affiliates, this space could be yours! Send information about your conventions, upcoming events, award winners, and projects to
Missouri Convention: Meet Us in St. Louis
The Missouri Council of the Blind will hold its convention Oct. 11-13 at the Sheraton Westport Chalet Hotel, 191 Westport Plaza Dr., St. Louis.  To reserve your hotel room, call 1-888-672-7064.  Be sure to tell them you're with the MCB convention to get the convention rate, $89 per night plus tax. The reservation deadline is Sept. 1.
To save a little money, be sure to register ahead of time.  Registration is $10 beforehand, $20 at the door.  Hospitality is $5 pre-registration, $7 at the door.  Saturday's banquet costs $20 if you pre-register, $25 at the door.  Banquet meal choices are steak or chicken; a vegetarian option is also available.
For more information, contact the Missouri Council of the Blind, (314) 832-7172 or 1-800-342-5632, or e-mail

Letter to the Editor

The contents of this column reflect the letters we had received by the time we went to press, June 18, 2013.  Letters are limited to 300 words or fewer.  All submissions must include the author's name and location.  Opinions expressed are those of the authors.
Further Ideas to Attract New Members
I believe that the first step of getting new members is to learn about as many blind people as possible living in the area. When knowing about their age, social status, nationality, gender and level of independence, it would be far easier to inform them in a way that could help them want to learn more about the organization and in particular, of projects, activities and events they could be involved with in some way.
Affiliates would need to be more flexible when planning meetings and events, so that as many people as possible could participate. Some people may have a transportation or financial problem, some may be employed and could only be present at events during certain hours and some may be sick, in the hospital or traveling. I believe that the Internet could serve as an advantage in this case, helping some of them be present through messengers while some important events are taking place.
It is also important that members working in a particular field should talk to others whose level of education is similar to theirs. Therefore, they may be encouraged by what they hear from them and may want to join if they know that the particular branch is striving to accomplish tasks that they could help out with.
- Adrijana Prokopenko, Macedonia

Here and There edited by Sharon Strzalkowski

The announcement of products and services in this column does not represent an endorsement by the American Council of the Blind, its officers, or staff. Listings are free of charge for the benefit of our readers.  "The Braille Forum" cannot be held responsible for the reliability of the products and services mentioned.  To submit items for this column, send a message to, or phone the national office at 1-800-424-8666, and leave a message in Sharon Lovering's mailbox.  Information must be received at least two months ahead of publication date.

NLS Magazines Now on Cartridge

The National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS) recently announced that its audio magazines are now available on cartridge.  This transition completes the digital conversion that began in 2009.  Cartridges have better sound quality and more in-depth navigation than did cassettes, and they hold more data.  NLS has created a read-and-return system for magazines; once a subscriber finishes reading the magazine(s) on the cartridge, he returns it to NLS.  This will keep costs down and allow NLS to continue and possibly expand its magazine program.

Online Educational Opportunities

CANnect,, is a consortium of agencies and schools whose mission is to create leading edge, user-friendly and accessible online educational opportunities, learning resources and life skills training for people who are blind and/or visually impaired, for professionals who serve them, and for their families.  The organization has designed a course catalog for users to be able to access the current courses (in English only at present), and invites you to add your courses to the catalog. 
If you are blind or visually impaired, or a teacher who works with blind and visually impaired students, take a look at the courses to see if any of them suits your needs.    Sample courses include two Excel courses offered by the Carroll Center for the Blind (Newton, Mass.), and Information Technology Without Walls by E.A.S.I.  Send questions to

New Requirements for Replacement Social Security Cards

Lost your Social Security card?  Need a list of your Social Security numbers for your family?  Beginning June 24, 2013, whether you need a replacement Social Security card or a Social Security number printout, you must show documents to prove your identity, age, and U.S. citizenship or lawful immigration status.
Before visiting a Social Security office, check out the new requirements on There, you will find a list of documents you must bring with you to the Social Security office. This will save you a good bit of time!  The parts of the Social Security web site that offer the most relevant details include:

 You also may want to take a look at the specific online fact sheets and publications that address the requirements for getting a printout or card. Those include:

  • U.S. Citizen/Adult — Social Security Card and Number Printout (SSA Publication No. 05-10512);
  • U.S. Citizen/Child — Social Security Card and Number Printout (SSA Publication No. 05-10514); and
  • Non-U.S. Citizen/Adult — Social Security Card and Number Printout (SSA Publication No. 05-10515).

All documents submitted must be either originals or copies certified by the issuing agency. Social Security will not accept photocopies or notarized copies of documents.
If you have questions, visit, or call 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778).

New Math and Science Software for Blind Students

eTouchSciences is a project funded by the United States Department of Education to develop math and science curriculum software for students with visual impairments.  The software incorporates a technology called computer haptics, which allows students to feel virtual objects that could only be seen before. Check out this short video clip that explains the software and a little about how it works:
Want to know more?  The American Foundation for the Blind reviewed the software; you can view it at You may also visit for further information.

Telecommuting Scores High

Workers with disabilities say telecommuting is a key workplace benefit, with eight out of 10 (81.1%) saying they would like the option to telecommute at least part time, according to a national survey released recently by Think Beyond the Label, a private-public collaborative that helps businesses and the public workforce system connect to job seekers with disabilities.
Telecommuting was the second-ranked workplace benefit (39.3%) in the national survey, surpassing flexible spending programs, which help pay for costs such as healthcare and commuting (14.2%), onsite fitness centers and services (2.0%) and free or subsidized meals (0.8%) as the most wanted employee perk, just behind paid time off (42.5%), such as for maternity leave.

EEOC Issues Revised Publications

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) recently issued four revised documents on protection against disability discrimination.  The documents address how the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) applies to applicants and employees with cancer, diabetes, epilepsy, and intellectual disabilities. To get a copy, visit EEOC's web site,

Pottery for the Blind

Bailey's Art Works is a pottery studio whose founder is blind.  It has begun to supply statues of dogs to blind guide dog users from a small private studio in Indiana.  The studio makes German shepherd and Labrador retriever statues, along with other items such as dog statues for pet owners, sailboats, lighthouses, candy dishes, pots/planters, platters, mugs with raised figures, woodland animals, and holiday ornaments. New items include a framed ceramic German shepherd, with raised sky and clouds, tactile grass, and more; a small statue of a German shepherd lying down; small mallard duck candy dish; black Labrador lying down; small white-tailed deer; a little hummingbird on her nest, with small white eggs; large 15" parrot, choice of orange/red or blue/green; gray castle; small pond with fish, grass, rocks and turtle by a log; small snowman with belt and top hat; large sailboat with a white sail that has a raised blue stripe plus brown boards for the boat bottom, plus water you can feel.  Also available are a variety of Sculpey clay sculptures: whale; birds of various colors; pots for dry flowers (not waterproofed); small blue village house with tactile doors and windows; and a six- to eight-inch high village Christmas tree.  Studio staff also craft birds made to Audubon specifications; colors are as exact as possible to simulate the real bird.  For a list of items that are on inventory, contact Bailey's Art Works at (765) 216-6745 or e-mail


PathPoint is a California-based non-profit organization that was established in 1964.  It has been paving the way for people with disabilities to reach their fullest potential for nearly five decades. In addition to employment and housing, PathPoint's programs also include community living skills such as nutritional cooking, personal hygiene, safety, public transportation, banking, financial management, and recreational planning. PathPoint also partners with over 300 employers from both private and public sectors to place its participants in jobs for which they have the necessary skill set. The U.S. Department of Labor, Santa Barbara County, and Ventura County also collaborate with the organization in order to connect motivated and capable individuals with work that serves not only their personal path to independence, but also the need of the businesses and communities in which they work. For more information, visit

Community Builder Award

The ANCOR Foundation recently honored Kiwanis International's Aktion Clubs with the 2013 Community Builder Award. This award recognizes individuals and organizations that make inclusion and community integration a reality for people with disabilities. Aktion Clubs offer adults with disabilities opportunities to serve their communities while developing leadership skills.  The clubs offer adults with disabilities the chance to plan and execute service projects in their communities. Club members learn by doing, developing leadership and decision-making skills, organization and teamwork.  There are more than 11,000 Aktion Club members worldwide.

Planet Dog Awards Grants

The Planet Dog Foundation recently named the recipients of over $71,000 in new grants it has awarded to 16 canine service organizations. These grants will help fund service dog, therapy dog and canine search and rescue programs across the country.  The recipients are: Can Do Canines of Minnesota; CAREing Paws of Georgia; Carolina Canines for Service; Compassionate Canines, Inc. of Wisconsin; Fire K9 of California; Gabriel's Angels of Arizona; Home for Life of Wisconsin; Intermountain Search Dogs of Washington; Leader Dogs for the Blind of Michigan; Lollypop Farm of New York; Massachusetts Vest-a-Dog; Ohio Federation of K9 Search Teams; Our VOICE of North Carolina; Paws Giving Independence of Illinois; Texas Hearing and Service Dogs; and Friends of Umpqua Valley Police K-9 Programs of Oregon. For more information, visit

Stenehjem Awarded

Washington State School for the Blind Superintendent Dr. Dean Stenehjem recently received an award of merit.  He was nominated by his fellow superintendents.  The award reads: "In recognition of effective leadership in public education and for significant contributions to educational administration. WASA, Leadership/Trust/Advocacy."

Solo-Dx for Described Movies

Solo-Dx is a new audio-description MP3 file that you can play along with your favorite movie or TV show at home. Each track is written and produced by industry professionals.  It works with any standard media player.  The only other thing you need is the movie itself on DVD, streaming on your computer or device, or video on demand on your TV.  Just follow the directions at the start of the file, sit back, and enjoy your show!  For more information, visit the web site,  Or check out the Solo-Dx team's video at

Listen to Your News

There's a new app out there that will let you listen to your news without a TV set.  It's called "erem – Listen to Your News," and it reads the news aloud to you. You can select your own news sources; erem will read any RSS feed you enter into it.  It's currently available for Android; iPhone and iPad versions will soon be available too.  To download the app, visit

Big Button Mobile Phone

The BM-01 is a big-button mobile phone available through Bierley. It offers several features specifically designed for seniors, including large keys, magnified text messages, emergency call button, hearing aid compliance, and radio with built-in loudspeaker. This phone can be used with any cellular service provider. For more information, call 1-800-985-0535 or visit

Mobile Smartphone for the Blind

Project RAY Ltd. and Odin Mobile recently announced their collaboration on America's first smartphone designed especially for the blind and visually impaired. Features of include: Odin Mobile's full telephone service, including voice, text and data, with customized setup and services; an affordable smartphone developed by Project RAY, with everything from its operating system to applications and content designed with blind and visually impaired people in mind; services that include voice calls, e-mail, contact list, calendar, GPS, advanced web remote assistance, a voice recorder, panic and emergency services, color identification, picture transcription, and money recognition; advanced communication and lifestyle services such as book and magazine subscriptions built into the device;  and a unique operating system and user interface specially developed for sight-free operation, including single-gesture access to frequently used numbers and functions, one-hand operation, and more.  For more information, visit or

Print/Braille Magnets and More

National Braille Press has two new print/braille magnets available.  One reads, "Be the person your dog thinks you are" and shows a cartoon dog holding a bone in his mouth.  The other reads, "Keep calm and carry on."  For more information, call toll-free 1-800-548-7323, or visit
NBP also has a new book available, "iPad Tactile Screenshot Quick References iOS6" by Tom Dekker and Tactile Vision Inc.  It's in braille and large print, with tactile diagrams, all in the same book.  These tactile screen shots of various iPad screens show you what appears where on your iPad - from the buttons and camera lenses to the home screen apps, the App Store, messages, settings, keypad, contacts, iBooks and iTunes.  Contact NBP at the number above, or visit the web site mentioned above, for more information.

Meditative Gardening Course from Hadley

Feeling stressed out?  Check out the Hadley School for the Blind's new course, Stress Relief and Meditative Gardening.  It's available online; the Chicago Botanic Gardens worked in collaboration with Hadley to put the course together.  The course explains how to create a garden space in your home that can be used for stress relief and meditation.  This four-lesson course begins with a description of healing gardens and explanation of the proven benefits of a healing garden. Lesson 2 provides information to help you choose an area in your home to create a meditative garden. Lesson 3 helps you choose the right plants for your garden. It explains the elements of basic houseplant needs, describes many different types of plants to choose from, and explores the qualities of healthy plants. Lesson 4 presents basic gardening techniques and explores calming, stress-reducing techniques to follow when in your meditative garden space.  This course is open to students in Hadley's adult continuing education and high school programs. For more information, or to enroll, visit or contact Student Services at 1-800-526-9909 or

New Web Site

Out of Step is a new web site where people with disabilities can sell products, offer services or post a resume for free. Individuals become members of Out of Step, and can use the marketplace to promote an existing business or start a new one. Members sell everything from art to software to bicycles, and offer services including financial planning, programming, dog walking and construction. And those looking for jobs can post a resume in categories including banking, human resources, logistics, sales and technical support. To learn more, visit

Perkins Products Recognized

Perkins Products was recently recognized by U.S. Acting Secretary of Commerce Rebecca Blank with the President's "E" Award for Exports at a ceremony in Washington, D.C. The "E" Awards are the highest recognition any U.S. entity may receive for making a significant contribution to the expansion of U.S. exports.  Among Perkins' exports: Perkins Braillers, SMART Braillers, and other specialized products for those who are blind. During the past six years, Perkins Products has increased its worldwide exports by more than 60 percent. First-time distributions were made in Saudi Arabia, Russia, Nigeria, Argentina, New Guinea, Angola, Estonia, Outer Mongolia, Serbia, and Yemen. And new products based on the original Perkins Brailler® are being introduced internationally, with the language(s) spoken in the countries where they are purchased being included.

High Tech Swap Shop

For Sale:

A large quantity of Rosie Reminder the talking clock.  This voice-activated clock gives you the ability to record a reminder and play it at the day and time you choose.  Very large blue LED numbers on background make it perfect for low-vision folks.  I have an MP3 file with a demonstration I can e-mail to anyone who wants more information.  Asking $99 plus shipping for each clock.  Contact Jeff via e-mail,

For Sale:

SmallTalk Ultra 2 in excellent condition; rarely used.  Comes with carrying case, new double capacity battery, and other accessories.  Screen reader not installed.  Asking $750 (negotiable). Braille Lite 40 with power adapter and serial communication cable. Asking $1,500 (negotiable).  Contact Jonathan Milam via e-mail at or at (336) 462-4179.

For Sale:

PAC Mate BX 400 in excellent shape; used very little. Contact Rod Bulloch at (801) 255-1835 if interested.

For Sale:

The Utah Council of the Blind has used Perkins braille writers available. These machines have been cleaned and are in working order. There are also a few electric braillers for those with small or weakened hands. Call (801) 292-1156 for more information.

For Sale:

Dell desktop with 19-inch monitor included. Has 4 gigs RAM, 320-gig hard drive, Windows XP Professional, Office 2007 Enterprise, and JAWS 14.  Asking $450.  Brand-new Lenovo laptop with 15.6" wide screen, 4 gigs RAM, 320-gig hard drive, Windows 7, Office 2007, and JAWS 14.  Asking $550.  Brand-new Sony laptop with 15.5" wide screen, 750-gig hard drive, 6 gigs RAM, Windows 7, Office 2007, and JAWS 14.  Asking $1,000.  Contact Jose at (626) 310-3132.

For Sale:

Victor Stream Version 3.  Asking $100 or best offer.  Braille Note PK with KeySoft version 7.2.  Asking $1,000 or best offer.  Contact Philip at (703) 581-9587 or via e-mail,

For Sale:

Dust cover for braille writer, $5.  GE big-button cordless phone with adapter.  Asking $20. Contact Tonya Smith at (734) 430-2537, or write her at 1632 Paree St., Newport, MI 48166.  Will accept checks or money orders.

For Sale:

Freedom Scientific Braille Lite M20 for $350 (with original manual).   Aladdin Telesensory CCTV – best offer.  Brand-new games adapted for visually impaired or blind people: chess pieces and board, $34; backgammon game in leather-like carrying case, $29. Contact June Galloway via e-mail, or call her at home, (202) 882-3816, or on her cell, (202) 441-6143.


Talking multimeter.  I live in the UK, and am willing to pay the extra shipping costs. Contact Christine via e-mail,


New King James Version of the Bible on cassette.  Contact Kelvin Henriques, Higgin Town P.A., St. Ann, Jamaica.


Assistive device so that I can take notes for my studies. Contact Gudani Mulondo, PO Box 372, Thohoyandou 0950, Limpopo Province, South Africa; e-mail

ACB Officers

Mitch Pomerantz (final term, 2013)
1115 Cordova St. #402
Pasadena, CA 91106
First Vice President
Kim Charlson (final term, 2013)
57 Grandview Ave.
Watertown, MA 02472
Second Vice President
Brenda Dillon (final term, 2013)
313 Overridge Cove
Hermitage, TN 37076
Marlaina Lieberg (final term, 2013)
15100 6th Ave. SW, Unit 728
Burien, WA 98166
Carla Ruschival (1st term, 2013)
148 Vernon Ave.
Louisville, KY 40206
Immediate Past President
Christopher Gray
5568 Waterman Blvd., Unit 2W
St. Louis, MO 63112

ACB Board Of Directors

Ray Campbell, Glen Ellyn, IL (final term, 2014)
Berl Colley, Lacey, WA (final term, 2016)
Sara Conrad, Stevensville, MI (1st term, 2016)
Janet Dickelman, St. Paul, MN (1st term, 2014)
Michael Garrett, Missouri City, TX (final term, 2016)
George Holliday, Philadelphia, PA (1st term, 2014)
John McCann, Falls Church, VA (1st term, 2016)
Allan Peterson, Horace, ND (1st term, 2014)
Dan Spoone, Orlando, FL (1st term, 2016)
Jeff Thom, Sacramento, CA (final term, 2014)
Ex Officio: Paul Edwards, Miami, FL

ACB Board of Publications

Paul Edwards, Chairman, Miami, FL (final term, 2013)
Denise Colley, Lacey, WA (1st term, 2014)
Nolan Crabb, Hilliard, OH (1st term, 2013)
Marcia Dresser, Reading, MA (final term, 2014)
Judy Jackson, Austin, TX (final term, 2014)
Ex Officios: Ron Milliman, Bowling Green, KY
Bob Hachey, Waltham, MA