The Braille Forum, September 2012

Volume LI September 2012 No. 2
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 2012
American Council of the Blind

All content made available 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. Those responsible for creative content may allow their materials to appear elsewhere with prior notification to the ACB national office and with appropriate attribution.


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National Conference/Convention Report, Part I, by Mitch Pomerantz

Ladies and gentlemen: For the fifth time since being elected president of the American Council of the Blind, I come before you on a Sunday evening in July to offer my report to you, the thousands of men and women comprising our ACB family.  Whether you are attending our 51st annual national conference and convention in person, listening throughout the nation and the world on ACB Radio, or reading these words in the pages of "The Braille Forum," you are a part of our dynamic and democratic organization.  I welcome all of you regardless of how my remarks are reaching you, and I want to publicly acknowledge that without your support and participation, there would be no American Council of the Blind.  With this conference and convention we conclude the first year of ACB's second half-century as a grass-roots, consumer advocacy organization.

Since addressing you a year ago in Reno, Donna and I have lived through "interesting times," as the Chinese proverb euphemistically defines the notion of a challenge.  When I last came to Louisville in early October for ACB's fall board meeting, I was unaware that I'd somehow contracted a staph infection in my neck which ultimately led in late October, in the midst of the CCB convention, to my hospitalization for six days.  The prayers and support so many of you offered us during that time were sincerely appreciated.

I need at this point to personally thank our friends Michael and Peggy Garrett.  Michael was ACB's national representative at the CCB convention, and the Garretts were pillars of strength for Donna during that weekend since I insisted she still had a convention to run.  Thanks guys!

And of course, I want to publicly recognize and thank Donna for nursing me back to relative health and for putting up with me as a patient for almost four months.  I am now recovered, or at least as recovered as I'm probably going to be without the disk surgery the doctor wanted to perform almost immediately upon my arrival in the emergency ward.  I refused his generous offer; I recovered anyway, so here I stand.

ACB has addressed its own interesting times since last we gathered.  I'll cover some of them and what we're doing to deal with them over the next several minutes but first, some well-deserved "thank-you"s are in order.

As I've stated in previous reports to the membership, the everyday work of ACB is carried out by our small but dedicated professional and administrative staff working in our Minnesota and Virginia offices.  Our executive director, Melanie Brunson, controller, Lane Waters, director of advocacy and governmental affairs, Eric Bridges, director of development, Steven Obremski (even though he works from his home in North Carolina), and "Braille Forum" editor, Sharon Lovering, all work tirelessly to make our lives and the lives of blind and visually impaired people everywhere better.  And to Barbara in Arlington, Lori and Chi in Brooklyn Center, and our other support staff who keep the wheels turning and the gears oiled, a special acknowledgement and salute for your efforts.  On behalf of the ACB membership, I thank you.

I also want to recognize and thank the 15 other members of the ACB board of directors and the five members of the board of publications.  I've worked hard to keep the board of directors busy while Paul Edwards, the BOP chair, has kept that group active as well.  In turn, both entities have made sure to keep us honest and on our toes.

At the close of this convention, two directors, Billie Jean Keith and David Trott, will conclude their second and final terms while Ken Stewart will wrap up his third and last term on the BOP.  All three have made valuable contributions as members and leaders on their respective boards and I want to thank them for their service to ACB.

Let me also mention the contributions of a former member of the board of publications, Jenine Stanley, who resigned for personal reasons at the end of 2011.  I was sorry to lose Jenine's experience on the BOP, but have her commitment that we'll be able to draw upon her expertise as a techie when we need it.

Jenine's replacement on the BOP is no stranger to veteran ACB'ers as he was the editor of "The Braille Forum" a number of years ago: Nolan Crabb.  He has definitely hit the ground running, as they say, assuming the chair of ACB's web task force, which is responsible for updating and managing our web site and presence on the Internet under the auspices of the board of publications.

Speaking of such things, ACB's new web administrator, Annette Carter, joined us in January, right around the same time as Nolan.  Annette has considerable experience, most recently managing CCLVI's web site.  She comes from California, and thanks for Annette's recruitment go to a CCLVI board member and the CCB president, none other than Donna.  Fortunately, I didn't have to pay her a recruitment bonus.  That could have been really expensive.

Let me begin by talking about what started as a serious challenge over this past year, but is about to become a noteworthy success for ACB.  As you know, in 2011 ACB commenced working on the problem of the inaccessibility of information on prescription drug labels with the introduction of H.R. 4087, the Accessible Prescription Drug Labeling Promotion Act, by an old friend of ours, Rep. Ed Markey of Massachusetts.  This lack of access has jeopardized the health and safety of every blind and visually impaired person who takes prescription medication.  Mr. Markey understood the seriousness of the problem.

Stay tuned for the next installment in the October-November issue.


I am very pleased to share with you a copy of a press release that was issued by ACB at the end of June. 
For Immediate Release
Contact: Eric Bridges
Director of Advocacy and Governmental Affairs
American Council of the Blind
Phone: (202) 467-5081
American Council of the Blind Lauds U.S. Congress for Including
Accessible Prescription Drug Labeling Language in FDA Bill
That Now Moves to the President's Desk

ARLINGTON, Va., June 26, 2012 –  Blind and visually impaired citizens will gain  independent and private access to the information contained on their prescription drug labels as the United States Senate passed S.3187, the Food and Drug Administration Safety and Innovation Act.

"We are grateful that the House of Representatives and Senate, through the staunch leadership of Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and Sens. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) and Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.), have passed legislation that will allow for a greater level of privacy and independence for blind and visually impaired Americans of all ages who take prescription medications," said Mitch Pomerantz, president of the American Council of the Blind.

More than 21.5 million Americans experience vision loss that renders them unable to read prescription drug labels or other medication information independently. With the incidence of vision loss expected to increase with the rapidly aging American population, the consequences of being unable to read prescription information pose a significant public health challenge. People who are blind or visually impaired can mistakenly consume the wrong medication, the incorrect dose, or an expired drug because they are unable to read the label or to distinguish between medicine containers.

** Description of the Legislation

Under S. 3187, representatives of the blind and aging communities, along with pharmacies and the U.S. Access Board, will convene a working group. This group will establish best practices for pharmacies to ensure that people who are blind or visually impaired have access to prescription drug labeling. The group's recommendations would provide guidance to pharmacists on actions they can take to ensure that the blind or visually impaired understand the information on their prescription and to enable independent access to that information.

The guidelines will provide pharmacies a range of options they can choose to offer consumers. Many of these options are low-cost, widely available, and compatible with equipment already in pharmacies.

After pharmacies have had the opportunity to adopt the guidelines, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) will review the degree to which pharmacies are in compliance. They will examine whether the blind or visually impaired still lack safe and independent access to prescription drug labeling and issue a report to Congress on the remaining gaps and the scope of the problem.

I can also report to you that this legislation has now been signed into law by the President.  Efforts are under way at the U.S. Access Board to establish the panel called for in the legislation.  We will keep you posted as the actual implementation of this legislation gets under way.

ACB: Full Steam Ahead To New Horizons by Janet Dickelman

ACB's 51st annual conference and convention in Louisville was a resounding success.  We rode horses in Lexington and went rafting on the Kentucky River, navigated the Mega Caverns under Louisville on zip lines, visited Churchill Downs and Indiana's Amish country, shopped for candy and stoneware and thrift store bargains, and ended the week cruising the Ohio River on the Spirit of Jefferson.  Dr. Tuck Tinsley, president of the American Printing House for the Blind, was our keynote speaker, and Micheal Hudson, director of the APH Museum, performed an awesome one-man play at our banquet.  The exhibit hall was home to a dazzling array of high- and low-tech products.  The ACB Marketplace made its debut and added excitement to early mornings prior to general session.  An endless array of workshops, seminars, programs and focus groups packed the week.  Some examples of the many in-hotel social events included karaoke night, tabletop bowling, casino night, a round sing, the performing arts showcase, and the ACB auction.

The staff of the Galt House greeted everyone with a smile and were always willing to assist convention attendees.  I personally witnessed hotel personnel dropping whatever they were doing to rush off to help someone locate a meeting room.  A huge thank you to everyone at the Galt House for helping to make our convention so special.

Thanks also to the Kentucky host committee who prepared the restaurant and local business listings and the hotel orientation guide, recruited volunteers, coordinated entertainment and clergy throughout the week, and performed so many little details which helped to make the convention so successful.

Words aren't sufficient to thank vice chair Carla Ruschival for sharing her knowledge, her dedication to detail, her willingness to help, her advice and, yes, her occasional corrections!  No hospital stays next year, my friend!

And finally, thank you to the most wonderful group of individuals, the national convention committee and the ACB staff.  I am privileged to work with each of you.   You spend countless hours each year making this convention a success.  You know what needs to be done and handle your responsibilities without complaint or direction.  Thank you from the bottom of my heart for all that you do to make my job easier.

Now it's full steam ahead to explore a brand-new convention site.  For the first time ever, an ACB conference and convention will be held in Columbus, Ohio, at the downtown Hyatt Hotel.  Our first tour will be on Thursday, July 4; general sessions will begin on Saturday, July 6.  Our banquet will be on Thursday, July 11, with our last tour on Friday, July 12.  As you can see, the convention is moving forward one day from our usual schedule - a move that was part of the original Columbus bid.  Working with a slightly different schedule will be a grand adventure, and I know that ACB's versatility will make this a huge success.

Start planning now to be in Columbus in 2013.  Room rates are $89 plus tax per night (single, double, triple, quad).  Make reservations by phone by calling 1-888-421-1442, or online by visiting the ACB web site at and following the 2013 conference and convention link.

As always, feel free to contact me with any questions at (651) 428-5059 or via e-mail at


(Editor's Note: Ron Pollack is the executive director of Families USA.)

As just about anyone with Medicare Part D prescription drug coverage can tell you, one of the biggest problems with the benefit has been the gap in coverage that's known as the "doughnut hole." Under the original Part D, when your total drug costs (the costs paid by both you and your plan) reached an initial limit ($2,930 in 2012), your coverage would stop completely. Even though you were still paying premiums, you were responsible for paying the next $3,700 in drug costs out of your own pocket until you reached a catastrophic limit and your coverage started again.

Ever since the drug benefit started in 2006, the doughnut hole has never made any sense as a matter of health insurance. Why would your drug coverage stop when you get sicker and your costs go up? Common sense tells us, and studies confirm, that high drug costs lead people to cut back on their prescription drugs. This is bad for their health, and it's bad for the health-care system in the long run if their health deteriorates as a result and they end up needing costlier care down the road.

Happily, the 2010 health care law does something about the doughnut hole. Under the law, the doughnut hole gradually shrinks each year until it disappears completely by 2020. This year (2012), instead of paying for the entire cost of drugs while in the doughnut hole, people with Part D drug coverage are getting a 50 percent discount on name-brand drugs and a 14 percent discount on generics. These discounts will continue to increase over the next few years, until the doughnut hole is completely filled in by 2020.

These improvements have already made a real difference for millions of seniors. About 3.6 million people had help while in the doughnut hole in 2011. According to the agency that runs Medicare, even though we're less than halfway through 2012, already more than 400,000 people with Medicare have entered the doughnut hole and have saved an average of $724 per person. The numbers add up quickly: Since the health care law was enacted in 2010, people with Medicare have saved a total of $3.2 billion in drug costs.

But there is a very real threat that could put a stop to these improvements. The entire health care law is under review by the Supreme Court. The case focuses on parts of the law dealing with obtaining health insurance that are completely unrelated to Medicare prescription drugs. But a key question is what happens to the rest of the law if the court rules against one section. Opponents of the law argue that the whole law needs to be struck down — even those provisions like filling in the doughnut hole that are unquestionably constitutional and have nothing to do with purchasing health insurance.

Most legal experts believe that, even if the court did rule against one section of the law, it should still leave the rest of the law in place, including the improvements to Medicare prescription drug coverage. But nothing is certain, and based on the questions some of the justices asked when the case was argued in March, it seemed that at least a few of them were considering going much further and taking down the whole law. A ruling against the whole law would mean a nasty hit in the wallet the next time millions of seniors go to the pharmacy. We're expecting a decision from the court by the end of June, and we'll all be watching closely.

Update: On June 28, the Supreme Court upheld the health care law.


The difficult issue of recruiting and maintaining younger membership in ACB has not been unspoken; it was nearly impossible to attend a leadership-related event in Louisville without hearing some mention of these growing pains. ACB Students is ready to assist our great organization to combat such problems with hopes that we can brighten our future. We have an exciting new program that has finally reached its implementing stage: the Adopt A Student program!

ACB Students Adopt A Student Program

Purpose: The American Council of Blind Students has seen the incomparable impact of attendance at national conventions for student membership retention across ACB. This program is designed to connect ACB Students with state and special-interest affiliates to sponsor students to such events with hopes for increased younger membership in ACB as a whole.

How it works: ACBS and other affiliates partner together to share the load and sponsor students to convention.

Responsibilities of the State or Special-Interest Affiliate:

  • Advertise program applications according to timeline described below. Advertising may include contacting college and university disability coordinators, rehab centers, or other clubs/organizations where young people with visual impairments are involved.
  • Facilitate phone interviews and review applications alongside ACBS to choose a winner for the year.
  • Provide for half of the cost for the student to attend national convention, unless otherwise specified by ACBS. The affiliate will not be responsible for more than half of the cost, but if further business sponsorship becomes available, this cost may be lowered. 
  • Communicate with ACBS board members during every part of this timeline.
  • Communicate with the winner about your affiliate's events and local involvement.
  • Send a representative to attend a reception for "adopted students" at convention.
  • Communicate with the student for future involvement and retention in your affiliate.

Responsibilities of ACBS

  • Design the application and any advertisement materials needed.
  • Provide the application and supplementary materials on ACBS web page and manage it.
  • Keep an updated web document with information about the program, including application access.
  • Assist in the reviewing of applications and participate on interview calls.
  • Provide for half of the cost needed for the student to attend convention, unless sponsorship lowers this cost. 
  • Organize all travel and stipend plans for the student.
  • Communicate with the student before, during, and after convention about ACBS and ACB as a whole.
  • Plan and run a reception for "adopted students" at convention.
  • Communicate with affiliates every step of the process.

The Student's Expectations

  • Students will have six nights paid stay with double occupancy (two adopted students per room). 
  • Students will receive funds for food expenses and all flights/travel necessary.

Students are expected to:

  • Attend all ACB Students events and fundraisers at convention
  • Attend all events specified by their state/special-interest affiliate
  • Attend ACB's general session at least twice, sitting at least once with ACBS and at least once with their state/special-interest affiliate
  • Write a brief article for "The Student Advocate" and their other affiliate's newsletter, if affiliate desires, about their convention experience
  • Attend two meetings with their state/special-interest affiliate after convention
  • Subscribe to the ACBS e-mail list and join one committee for the following year


October 1, 2012: Affiliate commitments needed
December 1, 2012: Applications available
February 1, 2013: Applications due and reviewing begins
March 1, 2013: Interviews begin
May 1, 2013: Decisions announced, travel and stipend plans begin
This program is one you don't want to miss. While we understand that all affiliates struggle with budgeting, student involvement is something worth the number-crunching. In addition to participating in this program, here are some ideas to boost your student membership.

  1. State affiliates contact local college disability coordinators and vocational rehab counselors to provide information about your affiliate and ACBS.
  1. Invite an ACBS board member to attend your state conventions, leading events and seminars about student life and membership.
  1. If you feed them, they will come.
  1. Advertise involvement within ACBS committees to students you know. Our committees are membership, convention, fundraising, and networking. Contact Minh Ha at
  1. If you have students in your affiliates, it's crucial to let ACBS know so we can help them establish student relationships too. It's all about networking and intentional connections.
  1. If your affiliate had a scholarship winner attend the conference in Louisville, keep in contact with them!
  1. Perhaps most importantly, find room in your budget to adopt a student so we can keep younger members hooked within our great organization.

Questions? Contact Sara Conrad at


Our ACB Radio staff and auction committee have teamed up to bring you a wonderful shopping experience and the perfect opportunity to support ACB Radio! The live radio auction will be held in early December and you will be able to phone in your bids. Lane Waters and his very capable staff will handle all of the financial transactions as they do for the auction held during convention.  Credit cards are welcome.

We have already received donations of collectible Holiday Barbie and New Year's Eve Barbie along with other collectible Barbies for that little – or not-so-little - girl in your life! We have commitments of food items from ACB candy and cookie makers. These homemade delicacies will be freshly made and shipped to you in time for your holiday gatherings.   If you would like to make a contribution to the holiday auction, please contact Cindy Van Winkle and let her know what you're donating.  Her e-mail is, and her phone number is (360) 689-0827. You may also ship items to the ACB Minnesota office, 6300 Shingle Creek Parkway, Suite 195, Brooklyn Center, MN 55430. More details will be published in the October-November issue once everything is finalized.

For more information, please contact Marsha Farrow at (706) 859-2624 or e-mail her,
      - Marsha Farrow


Recently, the membership of the American Council of the Blind of Nebraska lost one of its charter members who was active both in Nebraska and on the national level. Jim Faimon was born Jan. 5, 1938 and grew up in Lawrence, Neb. on the family farm.  He lost part of his hearing and most of his vision in a birth injury that damaged his optic nerve and closed his ear canal.

Having attended the Nebraska School for the Blind and Visually Impaired (NSBVH) in Nebraska City, he was introduced to amateur wrestling.  Jim participated in the sport until his graduation from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) where he lettered on two different occasions on the university's varsity team.

Graduating with a bachelor's in education, Jim went on for a master's in history. But after his student teaching, he decided that another career path was necessary.  Jim then enrolled in law school and, upon completion, interviewed for a county attorney position in Lawrence before being hired by the city of Lincoln.  He always practiced civil law, and defended claims against the city.  In addition, Jim handled worker's compensation and often would argue appeals before the Nebraska Supreme Court.  We should point out here that few people are aware that Jim fell through an open manhole in Lincoln and was injured with a stress fracture to his leg.  He could have sued the city and never worked a day after the accident, but that wasn't his style.  And following 40 years of employment, on May 31, 2007, at a retirement celebration outside the Lincoln mayor's office, he was presented with a Braille proclamation recognizing his years of service.

Jim's involvement in the American Council of the Blind of Nebraska was invaluable.  Having helped organize the affiliate in the 1970s with founder Betty Hofman, he helped compose the state constitution as well as provided guidance on chapter constitutions as local chapters began to affiliate.  He also helped name our ACBN newsletter "The Not So Frequent Newsletter" because of the frequency, or lack thereof, with which it was published.  And until his passing June 25, he served as legislative chair of our annual senator's luncheon as well as our registered agent with the Secretary of State's office.

Jim held many offices state-wide as well as in the Lincoln chapter.  He was an important member of Lincoln's Give-A-Lift cab subsidy program committee.  Also, Jim faithfully attended chapter meetings and state conventions and offered sound advice on the subject matter being discussed.

Nationally, Jim attended many conventions and was a member of the American Association of Visually Impaired Attorneys.  For many years, he'd serve as delegate, alternate delegate and nominating committee representative, as he was the only one from Nebraska in attendance.

A story is often told of an incident involving Jim, the Alaskan delegation and smoked salmon.  According to long-time friend Bill Orester, it smelled so good that Jim, a delegate from California, and he feasted on the delicious morsels.  "The problem developed that others wanted to get a share, so Jim and I were expelled from the party," Bill said.  "I thought it was unfair, but we yielded to the demand and the house."

When Bill married Mary Susan, Jim agreed to go to Delaware to serve as best man.  It nearly resulted in a hospital visit because he was run smack into the wall near the front of the church. Jim, however, took it in stride. Then, when the minister asked for the ring, he couldn't find it.  While the minister wasn't too concerned, Jim was.  Thankfully, the ring was eventually found.

Jim met his wife, Bonnie, in 1972 through a mutual involvement with the Nebraska Democratic Party.  They dated for several years, beginning in 1993, married, and had recently celebrated their 15th anniversary.

Jim was co-founder of the League of Human Dignity in Lincoln; a member of St. John's Catholic Church; Knights of Columbus Council 833, 4th Degree; Optimist Club of Lincoln; Nebraska Bar Association; Lincoln Bar Association; and the Nebraska Alumni Association.

Because Jim donated his body to the Creighton University School of Medicine in Omaha, a memorial service was held July 21 at St. John's Catholic Church, and was well attended.  In lieu of flowers, Jim designated memorials to St. John's Catholic School Endowment Fund, Pink Sisters of Lincoln, UNL College of Law scholarship fund, or Leader Dog School for the Blind, Rochester, Mich.

Like Josephine Genit and Rich Jirak, who also passed this year, Jim will be missed, but I have no doubt that he is in heaven.  Thanks, Jim, for your valuable contributions of time and talent that contributed greatly to the success of the American Council of the Blind of Nebraska.


We honor here members, friends and supporters of the American Council of the Blind who have impacted our lives in many wonderful ways.  If you would like to submit a notice for this column, please include as much of the following information as possible.
Name (first, last, maiden if appropriate)
City of residence (upon passing)
State/province of residence (upon passing)
Other cities/states/countries of residence (places where other blind people may have known this person)
Date of death (day if known, month, year)
ACB affiliation (local/state/special-interest affiliates or national committees)
Deaths that occurred more than six months ago cannot be reported in this column.


Hattie Bond was born March 6, 1937 in Brownsville, Tenn., the eldest of five children. She died in Nashville, Tenn. on June 23, 2012, at the age of 75.  Her funeral took place at the Mount Olive Missionary Baptist Church in Nashville on June 27th.  She served on many church committees and was a member of the choir, taught Sunday school and was also a deaconess.  Living relatives include her daughter, Delois Bond of Nashville; her mother, Nettie Matthews of Detroit; her sister, Shirley Lovelace of Detroit, and several others.  She was preceded in death by her husband Albert, who died last year.  They were married for 58 years.

Hattie received a bachelor of science and a master of arts from Tennessee State University and worked as a librarian in the Nashville public school system until she lost most of her vision due to complications of diabetes in the early '80s.

Hattie was active in many organizations including the Sigma Gamma Rho sorority, the Middle Tennessee Council of the Blind and the Tennessee Council of the Blind, and the Eclipse Chapter of the Order of the Eastern Star.  After the loss of her vision she became the director of Second Sight, a support group for people who became visually impaired later in life.  She served as a member of the Access Ride Policy and Advisory Committee.  In addition, she served as a member of the Mayor's Advisory Committee for People with Disabilities.  In addition, she served on the board of the Center for Independent Living of Tennessee.  Many of you know Hattie for her many years of service to the multicultural affairs committee.

Hattie received numerous awards from several organizations that she served.  She is a past president of the Tennessee Council of the Blind and a board member of MTCB for many years.

However, this impressive list does not describe my friend Hattie, whom I have known for over 20 years.  Hattie was always elegant, quiet and modest.  She was kind and generous with her time and her money.  She often gave money to people who were in need, but did it quietly so that very few people knew about it.  She was an effective leader and could be counted on to carry out her responsibilities.  If she saw something that needed to be done, she just did it without being asked.  She was a wonderful cook and often provided meals for board meetings.  There were many times that she advised me when I asked her how to solve minor problems on committees.  She was very supportive during hard times, a good listener, and I knew that I could tell her anything in confidence.  She will be missed by many friends and the members of several organizations, and it will probably take two people to do the work she did.
  - Carol Francisco


Dennis Mejia, 78, of Highland, Ill. died May 30 at St. Elizabeth's Hospital in Belleville.  There were no services.  Meridith Funeral Home of Highland was in charge of arrangements.

Dennis was born Aug. 26, 1933, to Benjamin and Gertrude (Deck) Mejia in Franklin, Ohio.  He retired after 32 years of service with business enterprise programs for the blind and served on numerous boards and committees.  Most recently, for the last 17 years, he served on the Silver Lake Rest Area Vending Services as a manager and service provider.

Dennis was an avid Chicago Cubs baseball fan.  He was also a ham radio operator from the age of 13.  He loved Big Band music, and hosted two radio shows devoted to it, the first at WONC at North Central College, the second at WGSB in St. Charles/Geneva, Ill.

He is survived by a son, Paul (Cathy) Mejia of Naperville, and a granddaughter, Michelle.  He was preceded in death by his parents; his wife, Marie (Kellier) Mejia; and a brother, James.  Memorials may be made to American Council of the Blind, 2200 Wilson Blvd., Suite 650, Arlington, VA 22201, or to the Courage Center Handiham System, 3915 Golden Valley Rd., Golden Valley, MN 55422.


Illinois Convention in Springfield

Please mark your calendars and join us for the Illinois Council of the Blind's annual convention, Oct. 5-7 in Springfield, Ill.  We will have a number of fun and educational programs and workshops, plus the most important aspect of a state convention, the chance to gather with many great friends, old and new.

To learn more about our convention, visit and click or press enter on the ICB annual convention link when you get there.  The direct link to the convention page is:

Save those dates, and we hope to see many of you in early October in Springfield.

ACB Families 2012

At the 2011 ACB conference and convention in Reno, the Council of Families with Visual Impairment moved onto the convention stage with an audible darts activity and a families breakfast.

CFVI literally took the stage at the 2012 conference and convention as president Deanna Scoggins accepted a new charter for the affiliate, officially changing the name to ACB Families.

The 2012 ACB Families line-up of programs expanded from two to seven.  In addition to our Wednesday morning breakfast and our Monday evening tabletop bowling contest (co-sponsored with the ACB Recreation Zone), five workshops with intriguing titles such as "The Power of Your Picture," "Symbols and Smiles," and "ImageWorks" gave convention attendees a chance to obtain tips on body language, clothing styles, effective use of color, and other image-enhancing areas.  Lynn Cooper, founder of the Mirrors Project, president of Lynn Cooper and Associates, and long-time friend of ACB, conducted the workshops, and we thank her for her enthusiasm and willingness to share her expertise with us.

As we look ahead to the coming year, we see more good things on the horizon for ACB Families.  A revised Families e-mail discussion list, a Families planning list, meetings (perhaps via conference call), and more great programming at the 2013 ACB conference and convention in Columbus - all this and more are yet to come this next year.

Make sure you are part of the ACB Families excitement.  Join our discussion list by sending a blank message to, or visit the e-mail list page on the ACB web site and subscribe from the Families list link.  Please note that the old CFVI list will be discontinued soon, and everyone on that list will need to sign up again for the new Families list.

ACB Families dues are just $8 a year, and membership is open to all.  Current ACB members and families who have never participated in ACB before are all encouraged to become part of our newly energized special-interest affiliate.  Join now and your dues are good through 2013.  To join ACB Families, mail dues to: ACB Families, Adam Ruschival, Treasurer, 148 Vernon Ave., Louisville, KY 40206.
    - Carla Ruschival


There are two steps involved in obtaining your 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status.  First, you must become incorporated as a non-profit organization in your state; this was described in part 1 ("The Braille Forum," June 2012).  Then you need to apply for 501(c)(3) status to the IRS.  Here's how. 

What Is a 501(c)(3) Tax-Exempt Organization?

Definition: Corporations that are "organized and operate exclusively for charitable, educational, or religious purposes," no substantial part of whose activities are lobbying or trying to influence legislation, and which do not endorse political candidates, and no part of whose income "inures" to the benefit of its members, directors, or others, except as compensation for services actually performed.  To meet this test, specific language must be included in the articles of incorporation stating that (1) the organization is organized and operated exclusively for specified charitable purposes; (2) none of its earnings or assets can be distributed to officers, directors or other private individuals (although payment of reasonable compensation for services is permitted); and (3) if it dissolves, the organization's assets are to be transferred to another charitable organization.  Be sure to check your chapter and affiliate constitutions to see whether they designate where the funds should go if the chapter/affiliate dissolves.  If these requirements are met, then the organizational test is satisfied. The proper wording for these paragraphs can be found in IRS Publication 557.

IRS regulations state that to be exempt, the organization must be "exclusively" charitable.  However, the IRS and the courts have interpreted "exclusively" to mean "substantially." An organization can carry on incidental non-charitable activities. For example, a charitable organization can conduct some business activities that are unrelated to its charitable purposes without losing its tax-exempt status.  Remember that the IRS will look closely at any organization that operates in a manner that makes charity appear to be only a secondary purpose.

Public Charity or Private Foundation.  In granting 501(c)(3) status, the IRS will classify your organization as being either a "public charity" or "private foundation." The choice is made by the IRS, not the organization, based on the sources of the organization's support.

A public charity is a "Publicly Supported Organization" that is a 501(c)(3) organization that meets the 1/3 public support test -- it receives at least one-third of its support from public sources such as small contributions, government grants, or from other public charities, and does not receive much income from investments. If an organization qualifies, it will not be subject to the restrictions applicable to private foundations.

A private foundation receives the bulk of its income from private contributions (e.g., a large corporation) and/or from its investments.  Private foundations have more restrictions on their activities.

When you fill out the application for tax-exempt status, you need to show that your sources of income will be from relatively small public donations, public fundraisers, and government and foundation grants.  Being recognized as a 501(c)(3), tax-exempt, non-profit charity is considered the most desirable for ACB affiliates and chapters because of the "goodies" that come with it: contributions to a 501(c)(3) entity are tax-deductible for the donor, and only 501(c)(3) organizations qualify for foundation grants.

Filing for Your 501(c)(3) Tax-Exempt Status

The first step is to obtain and complete IRS forms: IRS Package 1023, Application for Recognition of Exemption; and IRS Form 818, User Fee for Exempt Organization Determination Letter Request. I also recommend that you obtain IRS Publication 557, Exempt Status for Your Organization.  To request the forms, call the IRS toll-free at 1-800-829-3676.  Allow at least two weeks for delivery.  You can also download everything from the IRS web site,

Part IV of Form 1023 asks you to describe in detail your organization's past, present, and future activities. An attachment to Form 1023 will always be needed. This question, along with your articles of incorporation, will determine whether your organization qualifies for exemption.

Suggestions for Your Narrative. Focus your narrative on achieving your organization's tax-exempt purposes. If your activities are to be focused on helping blind and low-vision people, providing scholarships, grants, etc., then that's what your narrative should include.

You need to avoid booby traps.  Don't brag about how you plan to go down to City Hall and demand better code enforcement; this could easily be interpreted by the IRS to be lobbying.  Nor should you write about the benefits that your members will enjoy. The activities of charitable organizations must benefit the entire community. If only the membership were to benefit, the IRS would interpret the activity as private inurement, which would automatically disqualify the corporation for 501(c)(3) status.

Check List.  Near the end of Form 1023, there is a checklist. Assemble your packet for submission following the order of the documents outlined in that checklist. It gives instructions on where to send the application and how to handle the filing fee. You should also write a short cover letter, to be signed by the president of your affiliate or chapter, explaining that you are applying for tax-exempt status and that your application is attached. You should include the following statement: "The attached bylaws are a true and correct copy of the bylaws that are currently in effect."

The forms are long; you will need to stay organized. You may want to seek the assistance of an attorney to help with the completion of the forms, especially if you've done the articles of incorporation and bylaws without legal help. Be sure to include any materials such as bylaws, mission statements, and philosophies.  There is also a filing fee that must accompany your form 1023.  The fee changes from time to time; be sure you are sending the correct amount. 

What to Expect from the IRS.  After submitting the application, you can expect a letter from the IRS in about eight weeks. The letter will acknowledge the receipt of your application. The letter may ask you for more information. Answer all questions truthfully and in full, and submit the answers to the IRS by the deadlines included in the letter. The letter will also give you the name and telephone number of your contact person at the IRS. Call this person and find out exactly what they want to know and what you need to provide to be acceptable to the IRS.

Once you have all of the IRS' questions answered, the IRS will send you a determination letter. Save this letter -- it is very important! Not only does it give you critical information about compliance and staying out of trouble with the IRS, but your potential funding sources will usually ask you for a copy of it.

Once your application is approved, you must follow IRS reporting rules, such as making certain your affiliate's or chapter's records are open to the public and filing annual tax form 990 with the IRS.  If your organization fails to file this annual IRS form for five consecutive years, it risks losing its 501(c)(3) status.

Conclusion.  If you are going to conduct fundraisers of any kind, it is important that your affiliate or chapter have its 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status from the IRS.  This will allow people who support your organization to deduct their donations from their federal taxes.  You can, and should, clearly display your 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status on your web site, and in all of your brochures and other materials.


On July 12, the ACB membership and public relations committees held a seminar, "How Affiliate Web Sites Can Reach New Members and Publicize the Affiliate's Events and Mission." After introductions, membership committee chair Ardis Bazyn introduced the panelists: Becky Barnes from Guide Dog Users, Inc., Steve Dresser from Bay State Council of the Blind, and Ardis Bazyn from California Council of the Blind.  They explained what links were available on their sites that would entice or assist members and potential members. All listed chapters/affiliates of their organization; GDUI also had links to chapter web sites. Becky said the individual chapter web sites encouraged visitors to join the individual chapter rather than the affiliate at large. Examples of good content and links on these web sites were links to important legislation or regulations of interest to visitors; informational brochures; convention announcements, programs and audio content; past newsletters; subscription links to e-mail discussion groups and social networking; and contact information for chapters, board members, and committee members.

Ron Milliman, chair of the public relations committee, conducted the second panel: "How Affiliates Can Use Web Sites to Publicize Their Mission, Events, and Fundraising." He introduced the panelists: Ann Chiappetta from Guide Dog Users, Inc., Gaylen Floy from Washington state, and Denny Huff from the Missouri Council of the Blind. First, web site awards were given (see Ronald Milliman's article in an upcoming issue). Ann talked about GDUI's multimedia strategy: e-mail lists and e-blasts, social media, and the web site, with coordinated efforts. Missouri had a sighted person help them revamp their web site to make it visually appealing, which included putting the mission statement up front. Denny suggested sharing the web site link on each e-mail list you have. Missouri also has web site links for each chapter, as well as links to all types of resources of interest to blind people. Convention streams and conference calls are recorded and placed on the web site. PSAs include web site information. Gaylen said that evaluating your web site is very important; check to see how many visitors checked out the web site. The number of hits will let you know if more than just members are checking your site. Attention-getting words on the links will get folks to read them. Personal stories should be included on your site to encourage those losing their sight.    GDUI has a publication committee with three writers who know the issues and post the information. Photos are tagged appropriately so they are both visual and accessible. The affiliate needs to know what type of content it wants and needs everyone to work together to keep the site updated. Missouri's webmaster posts all information that is forwarded for placement on the web site after the president OKs it.

Ron recognized the Arizona Council of the Blind for having the most improved web site, since they had recently started from a limited text web site and expanded it. He also suggested that web sites include more photos and visually appealing graphics that include alt-tags, such as photos of scholarship winners, events in the city, and award recipients.

The winner of the Affiliate Growth Award was the Nevada Council of the Blind. Their consistent networking with local groups throughout the state led to them having the highest percent of growth and the highest number of new members. We congratulate them for their persistence.

Thanks to each affiliate who sent at least one representative to attend the seminar. We encourage each affiliate to attend our quarterly focus calls. If your affiliate does not have someone on the membership e-mail list, please let Ardis Bazyn know who you'd like added. Send an e-mail to and include your affiliate name, the name of the membership representative(s) you'd like added, and the e-mail address(es).


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.


Sue Lichtenfels has resigned as editor of the always popular "Here and There" column.  Would you like to take on the challenge?  Please send your resume and cover letter to Sharon Lovering, American Council of the Blind, 2200 Wilson Blvd., Suite 650, Arlington, VA 22201.  Applications should be postmarked no later than Oct. 15, 2012.

E-mailed applications are also acceptable.  If you attach files, please do so in Word (97-2003).  If you are uncomfortable with attachments, you may paste your resume and cover letter directly into your message.  E-mail to


The American Council of the Blind (ACB) proudly announces the 2012 Achievement Awards in Audio Description, an initiative of the Council's Audio Description Project (ADP).   In conjunction with ACB's 51st annual conference and convention in Louisville, Ky., the audio description awards were presented at a plenary session attended by over 1,500 ACB members.  The awards included:

Achievement in Audio Description - Media:  Described and Captioned Media Program, Spartanburg, SC
Achievement in Audio Description - Performing Arts:  Kentucky Center for the Performing Arts, Louisville, KY
Achievement in Audio Description - Museums:  National Park Service, Washington, DC
Achievement in Audio Description - International:  Track One Communications, New Delhi, India
Dr. Margaret R. Pfanstiehl Memorial Achievement Award in Audio Description - Research and Development:  Dr. Philip Piety, Silver Spring, MD
Barry Levine Memorial Award for Career Achievement in Audio Description -  Alan Woods, Columbus, OH

The Achievement Awards are given to individuals and/or organizations for outstanding contributions to the establishment and/or continued development of significant audio description programs.  The Barry Levine Memorial Award for Career Achievement in Audio Description recognizes an individual for outstanding contributions to the field of audio description over an extended period of time, leading, inspiring or providing significant service to others.

Additional information about ACB's Audio Description Project is available at


National Braille Press would like to invite you to apply for a $20,000 award to honor those innovating in the field of tactile literacy.  The Touch of Genius Prize for Innovation was developed to inspire an innovator to continue the promotion of braille literacy for blind and deaf-blind people worldwide.

The prize will be granted to a group or individual for a new educational method, tactile literacy product, software application, or technological advance related to tactile literacy.  The Touch of Genius Prize for Innovation may be awarded for a completed project or anticipated concept that shows viability and will improve opportunities for blind people - projects such as the 2011 co-awardees, Christine Short's Feel the Beat: Braille Music Curriculum, which uses the soprano recorder to teach the braille music code to blind students, and Ashok Sapre's Tactile Accu-draw Graphics Set, which is a low-cost, multifunctional, manual device for producing rich graphics and embossing braille notes.

Applications must be received by Nov. 2, 2012. For more information and to download the application, please visit The Touch of Genius Prize for Innovation is provided through support from National Braille Press and The Gibney Family Foundation.


"Business Strategies That Work: A Framework for Disability Inclusion" is a new guide for businesses recently released by the Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP), U.S. Department of Labor that outlines promising policies and practices for employing people with disabilities.  This publication contains proactive strategies for businesses of all sizes across seven key operational areas, and is an essential resource for employers who want to make sure their workplaces - and customer bases - are diverse and inclusive.  To get a copy, visit


Are you a blind or visually impaired adult who cross-country skis or wants to learn how during a fun-filled week in a resort setting?  Join over 200 active adults from across the U.S. and around the world for the 38th annual Ski for Light International Week.  The 2013 event will take place from Jan. 27-Feb. 3 at Shanty Creek Resorts in Bellaire, Mich.

Located 45 minutes from the Traverse City airport, Shanty Creek Resorts is a 4,500-acre complex containing three housing and entertainment villages, both cross-country and downhill ski trails, a tubing hill, several swimming pools and hot tubs, a fitness center and spa, and much more.

Ski for Light attracts cross-country skiers from beginners to advanced. You will be paired with a sighted instructor/guide who will assist with skills and technique while describing the countryside and enjoying the trails with you. Free rental of skis, boots, and poles will be provided to first-time participants, and partial stipends based on financial need are available.

For more information, visit the SFL web site, The first 100 applicants who select the early admission option are eligible for acceptance within two weeks of your submission. All applications are due Nov. 1, 2012. If you have any questions, please contact Bob Hartt,, or call (703) 845-3436 during the evenings and on weekends.


The American Museum of Natural History offers a variety of Science Sense Tours for visitors who are blind or partially sighted.  This fall's offerings include the following.

Saturday, Sept. 22, 10 a.m.: Dinosaurs.  Join our guides on a paleontological adventure through the Koch Dinosaur Wing.

Thursday, Oct. 18, 2:30 p.m.: Mexico and Central America.  Explore the cultures of the Olmec, Aztec and Maya. Discover their beliefs, gods, and myths in the Hall of Mexico and Central America.

Science Sense tours are available to individuals or groups. Space is limited and advance registration is required. Programs may be subject to change.  For more information, or to register for a tour, please call (212) 313-7565 or e-mail


The iTalk Reminder Clock is now available!  These clocks are completely hands-free; you ask the clock to speak the time, date, alarm setting, snooze, alarm off, and it has a digital voice recording for reminders that can be set like an alarm.  With the exception of the one-time setting of the date, you never have to touch the clock again.  Everything else is voice controlled.  The time is displayed in 2" high LED bright digital numbers.  For more information, contact Larry Gotlieb at (818) 602-8675.



Aladdin Rainbow CCTV.  Asking $800.  Contact Wesley Scholl at (605) 342-5548.


MAC Mini.  Includes: Lion OS with latest updates; 14 meg memory; Apple USB keyboard with keypad; Apple wireless Magic Mouse; LaCie Stark 500 GB USB external drive; all cables and instructions.  Asking $450.  For details, contact Bill at (719) 547-1611 or e-mail


Braille machine in very good condition.  Asking $375 (shipping included).  USB Internet radio, brand new.  Works with Windows XP and Windows 7.  Asking $50.  Toshiba laptop with 15.6" wide screen, 750-gig hard drive, 3 gigs RAM, Windows XP Professional Edition, JAWS and ZoomText.  Also comes with Microsoft Office and Mero.  Asking $750. Call Jose Medina at (626) 310-3132.


Optelec Clearview Plus, about 5 years old.  Has TV monitor and all cables, goes up to 50x magnification, and has 3 different modes.  Asking $1,000 or best offer.  Contact Reggie at (775) 673-6869.


19-inch flat-screen Optelec Clearview CCTV in excellent condition; used less than a month. Has 16 color contrast options.  Asking $1,800 or best offer.  Contact Wakeelah Aaliyah at (310) 866-8268.


PAC Mate QX400 with qwerty keyboard, hardly used. Includes charging cord, original software, padded carrying case, and wireless LAN compact flash card. Asking $250 or best offer. Call Amy at (574) 361-9897 or


Braille Plus Notetaker by APH. Rarely used; in good condition.  Asking $1,000.  APH Refreshabraille 18-cell braille display. In good condition. Asking $1,000.  Epson document scanner with automatic document feeder. Asking $200. Call Josh Kennedy at (717) 350-8939 or send a brailled letter to Josh Kennedy, 201 W. Broad St., Williamstown, PA 17098.



Mitch Pomerantz (final term, 2013)
1115 Cordova St. #402
Pasadena, CA 91106


Kim Charlson (final term, 2013)
57 Grandview Ave.
Watertown, MA 02472


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


Christopher Gray (final term, 2013)
5568 Waterman Blvd., Unit 2W
St. Louis, MO 63112


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


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