American  Council  of the  Blind

Winter 2008


P O BOX 7341

The views expressed in this newsletter are not necessarily the position of the American Council of the Blind of Minnesota. They are the views of the article's author. Product and service information is provided as a resource only and not as an endorsement of a particular product or service.


Jo Taliaferro, Editor

Bob Lockwood

Carolyn Coby, Webmaster


ACBM Info Express - (612)-486-5180, (note the new number) our telephone news and information hotline was established by the membership in October 2005. Its purpose is to provide important and relevant information vital to the membership, quickly and efficiently between scheduled business meetings. Please keep yourself informed by calling regularly. You can also contact any board member using the information provided at the end of this issue of the Minnesota Memo.

In Memoriam – Tillie Gilliland

The Editorial Committee and ACBM Board of Directors dedicate this issue of the Minnesota Memo to founding member Tillie Gilliland. Tillie passed away late last year. She was an avid classical music fan, having been formally trained in classical music on the piano. She was a founding member of ACBM and worked throughout her life to support ACBM and all of its activities. We all have fond memories of Tillie and her husband Milo who preceded her in death.

Table of Contents

From the President’s Disk
ACBM Info Express Gets A New Home
Welcome To 2008 ACBM Happenings!
4 Things You Probably Never Knew Your Mobile Phone Could Do
Minnesota Author on RTB
Structured Negotiations Annual Message
Hats Off to Horizons for the Blind
What To Do When You Meet A Sighted Person
Nuts and Bolts
ACBM Board of Directors

From The President’s Disk

By the time you read this all the holiday decorations will be put away and if you are like me the resolution to lose a few pounds will already have been broken. I look forward to 2008 as another productive year for ACBM.

As you may have noticed Info Express has a new phone number 612-486-5180. Please read the article written by Michael Malver to get details about this great new service! Michael Malver and I continued research that Ken Rodgers had started and we now have a new phone service. This is a great change for two reasons. First of all the cost is less than we were paying previously. Also the system is much easier to use when recording information and doesn’t cut off messages if you take a breath, or pause for a second. Personally I’m very happy about both aspects!

We are extremely grateful to our local ACB office for their willingness to: House our Tiger Max Braille embosser, reproduce our large print Memo at a reasonable price, and to allow ACBM members access to the Braille embosser during normal business hours.

In February I’ll be heading to Washington DC to the President’s midyear meeting. Chris Bell, Susan Lindgren and Juliette Silvers will join me for the legislative forum and visits to our congressmen and senators. Remember that the Janu8ary quarterly meeting is our annual bake sale which is one of our bigger fund-raising events. Please bring baked items to be auctioned and prepare to bid high.

As a reminder as to how quickly time marches on we will hold elections at our April quarterly meeting. Vice-president, Secretary and the board positions held by Carolyn Coby and Dave Moseman will be up for election. All 4 individuals are eligible to run for a second term. Just to clarify, Sue was elected to fill the secretary vacancy at the last election. As always we encourage nominees for any open positions. If you are interested in serving on the nominating committee please leave a message on info express. Stay tuned to info express for information on nominating committee and nominees. Also if you are interested in serving on the scholarship committee chaired by Jo please leave your name in mailbox 9.

As always feel free to contact me with any questions, comments or concerns.
Janet Dickelman, President, ACBM

ACBM Info Express Gets A New Home

By: Michael Malver

The phone number for ACBM Info express has changed. The new number is 612-486-5180.

Due to challenges experienced by producers of content for ACBM Info Express, the board decided last year to find a new service to host our information system. The end result is a system that allows us to more easily configure menus so you can more quickly find the information you need, and a system that lets content producers create information either using a computer, or a telephone. The system will also cost ACBM less money over time, as there are no local per minute usage charges.

Below is a brief overview of the system:
From the main menu:

I would like to thank the wonderful people at the Washington Council of the Blind for alerting us to this system, and the helpful support staff at Solaxis Voicemail for assistance in getting ACBM Info Express up and running.

We know you will find this new system useful, and look forward to your feedback.

Welcome To 2008 ACBM Happenings!

By: Michael Malver

Isn’t it amazing how quickly our personal calendars fill up with appointments and things to do? I hope that with a new year beginning, you find yourselves with mostly blank calendars just waiting to be filled with ACBM events in which to participate. If you frequently attend ACBM happenings, this calendar will give you dates for planning your attendance at ACBM meetings or social gatherings. If you are new to ACBM, or do not often participate in functions of ACBM, look at the following list of activities and come join us this year!

Quarterly Meetings:
ACBM Quarterly meetings are held on the fourth Saturday of January, April, July and October. Meetings are held at Joseph’s Grill 140 Wabasha St. South in St. Paul. There is a social hour from 11:30 to 12:30 after which lunch is served. Our meetings run from 1 to 4 pm. The significant events which take place throughout the year at ACBM Quarterly meetings, and the dates on which they occur are as follows:
January 26: Bake Sale fundraiser.
April 26: Election of new board members.
July 26: Scholarship winner(s) announced.
October 25: nomination of Washington Seminar attendees.

ACBM Board Meetings:
On the third Monday of Every Month, the ACBM board meets at Lunds Grocery Store 1450 West Lake St. Minneapolis. The meetings are from 6:30 to 8:45, however, often, people come at 5:30, grab food from the deli, and socialize before the meeting. Board meetings are open to the public. Feel free to attend and find out in more detail what ACBM is doing.
This year’s board meetings will take place on: January 21, Febrary 18, March 17, April 21, May 19, June 16, July 21, August 18, September 15, October 20, and November 17. There is no December board meeting.

Social events:
ACBM’s social committee invites you to join us for coffee at Dunn Brothers 1915 Lyndale Ave., across from Vision Loss Resources. We meet from 10 am to noon on the third Saturday of the month. The dates for the next four are: February 16, March 15, April 19 and May 17. Come sip and chat about anything and everything.
You won’t want to miss our annual catered picnic in mid-August, usually on a beautiful Saturday afternoon.

Remember that for the latest information on ACBM events, you can call ACBM Info Express at: 612-486-5180.
The ACBM board and other members of our affiliate look forward to seeing you at a future event.

4 Things You Probably Never Knew Your Mobile Phone Could Do

From the ACB Leadership List
Forwarded by Billie Jean Keith

There are a few things that can be done in times of grave emergencies. Your mobile phone can actually be a life saver or an emergency tool for survival. Check out the things that you can do with it:

FIRST: Emergency
The Emergency Number worldwide for Mobile is 112. If you find yourself out of the coverage area of your mobile; network and there is an emergency, dial 112 and the mobile will search any existing network to establish the emergency number for you, and interestingly this number 112 can be dialed even if the keypad is locked. Try it out.

SECOND: Have you locked your keys in the car?
Does your car have remote keyless entry? This may come in handy someday. Good reason to own a cell phone: If you lock your keys in the car and the spare keys are at home, call someone at home on their mobile phone from your cell phone. Hold your cell phone about a foot from your car door and have the person at your home press the unlock button, holding it near the mobile phone on their end. Your car will unlock. Saves someone from having to drive your keys to you. Distance is no object. You could be hundreds of miles away, and if you can reach someone who has the other "remote" for your car, you can unlock the doors (or the trunk). Editor's Note: It works fine! We tried it out and it unlocked our car over a mobile phone!"

THIRD: Hidden Battery Power
Imagine your mobile battery is very low. To activate, press the keys *3370#. Your mobile will restart with this reserve and the instrument will show a 50% increase in battery. This reserve will get charged when you charge your mobile next time.

FOURTH: How to disable a STOLEN mobile phone?
To check your Mobile phone's serial number, key in the following digits on your phone: * # 0 6 #. A 15 digit code will appear on the screen. This number is unique to your handset. Write it down and keep it somewhere safe. When your phone gets stolen, you can phone your service provider and give them this code. They will then be able to block your handset so even if the thief changes the SIM card, your phone will be totally useless. You probably won't get your phone back, but at least you know that whoever stole it can't use/sell it either. If everybody does this, there would be no point in people stealing mobile phones.

This is the kind of information people don't mind receiving, so pass it on to your family and friends

Minnesota Author on RTB

By: Chuk Hamilton

I am pleased to inform you that a Minnesota author will have a book read on the Radio Talking Book Network beginning February 12. The book; "Out of the Fishbowl, Choosing a route less traveled" is a memoir by Ken Miller. Ken is from Grand Rapids, Minnesota. The book is the story of one blind man's journey from childhood to adulthood, written with humor and honesty. Ken also happens to be a vendor in the Business Enterprises Program of State Services for the Blind whom I have known for many years. He has had a vending business since 1981. Congratulations to the author!

Structured Negotiations Annual Message

By: Mitch Pomerantz

Below you will find a report from Linda Dardarian and Lainey Feingold regarding their efforts during 2007 on behalf of the American Council of the Blind and several ACB affiliates. I believe you will agree that Linda and Lainey have done amazing work with and for us and while the structured negotiations process is not as sexy as litigation, the successes cited are impressive, indeed! The next time someone challenges any of us about what ACB does for blind people, we will have considerable ammunition with which to respond.
Mitch Pomerantz

January 6, 2008
Dear colleagues in the disability community interested in Structured Negotiations:

As 2008 begins, we are writing to update everyone on the current status of various Structured Negotiations initiatives and, most of all, to say THANK YOU. Thank you to the ACB, AFB, the CCB, to the Bay State Council of the Blind, Illinois Council of the Blind, and other ACB state and local affiliates, to the San Francisco LightHouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired and the Independent Living Resource Center San Francisco, to the leadership, staff, boards and membership of these organizations, and to other individual blind advocates around the country for active participation in and support of the Structured Negotiations process in 2007.

Everyone who is receiving this email helped make 2007 another successful year for using Structured Negotiations to increase the accessibility of information and information technology throughout the United States. Some of you helped during negotiations by testing and providing valuable feedback on accessible pedestrian signals (APS), tactile point of sale (POS) devices, Braille financial information, and accessible web pages. Others of you have met with corporate training staff to ensure that our agreements are successfully implemented, and with business staff of some of the world’s largest corporations to convince them of the need for, and importance of, accessible information and information technology. Still others have given us critical feedback from the field: telling us about Talking ATMs that are broken, inaccessible elements on web pages, Braille financial statements that are late, staff who need re-training, APS that need maintenance or POS devices that are not where they should be. Without this feedback, settlement agreements would be words on paper, and not accessibility in our daily lives.

Equally important, many of you have brought new issues to our attention, issues we hope to report on favorably in next year’s annual message. For all this and so much more, we express our deep gratitude. Below is a sampling of our work in 2007. Please don’t hesitate to contact either of us if you have any questions about anything in this email, or if you have issues you think would benefit from Structured Negotiations. We look forward to further collaboration in 2008, and wish you and yours a year full of peace, joy, and accessibility. Lainey and Linda (We can be reached by email at: or by phone at 1-800-332-6177.)

Structured Negotiations Highlights, 2007

(1) Agreements Signed: In 2007, three new agreements were signed using Structured Negotiations instead of litigation. This brings the total number of agreements signed to 28. (The first settlement agreement using Structured Negotiations was signed in 1999 with Citibank on the issue of Talking ATMs).
APS Agreement with the City and County of San Francisco: The California Council of the Blind (CCB), The San Francisco LightHouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired, the Independent Living Resource Center San Francisco, and blind advocate Damien Pickering signed a landmark agreement with San Francisco in 2007 requiring the City to spend at least 1.6 million dollars over two and one half years equipping all crosswalks of at least 80 intersections with accessible pedestrian signals (APS). Approximately five hundred APS have already been installed. Further information about the APS agreement can be found on the LightHouse’s website at
RadioShack Web and POS Agreement. In 2007 RadioShack signed an Agreement with the American Council of the Blind (ACB), the CCB, and the American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) addressing the company’s website and retail stores. RadioShack became the first non-bank national retailer to sign an agreement as a result of Structured Negotiations requiring that comply with Level AA (Priorities 1 and 2) of WCAG 1.0. The company is actively working toward that goal. The agreement also requires installation of at least one tactile point of sale device at every RadioShack store in the United States. The devices have already been installed in over 5,000 stores.
7-Eleven POS Agreement. The AFB, ACB and CCB also used Structured Negotiations to reach an agreement with 7-Eleven requiring installation of POS devices in over 6,000 7-Eleven stores across the country. Over the next 18 months, all flat screen POS units in all U.S. 7-Eleven stores will be replaced with units that have tactile keypads to allow private and independent entry of PINs and other confidential information.

(2) Agreements Monitored: We continue to monitor the settlement agreements that have been negotiated in past years, and encourage each of you to let us know about any issues with any of the Companies mentioned below. This year, monitoring highlights include the following.
Talking ATMs. Banks continue to install Talking ATMs pursuant to agreements reached as a result of Structured Negotiations. As of December, 2007, every Wells Fargo ATM in the country is now a Talking ATM, and Bank of America has already installed over 11,000 Talking ATMs. Other banks and retailers who have signed Talking ATM agreements as a result of the Structured Negotiations process are Citibank, Washington Mutual, Citizens Bank, Sovereign Bank, Union Bank of California, LaSalle Bank, Bank One (now Chase), Fleet (now Bank of America), First Union (now Wachovia) and 7-Eleven. The advocacy efforts of the American Council of the Blind, California Council of the Blind, the Bay State Council of the Blind, and other ACB affiliates in Utah, Iowa, North Carolina, Illinois and Florida and individual blind advocates across the country have made these agreements possible. The Disability Law Center in Massachusetts and Equip for Equality in Illinois are integrally involved in monitoring efforts with the banks in those states.
Accessible Websites. As a result of Structured Negotiations, many banks have agreed to bring their websites into compliance with Priorities 1 and 2 of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, and there is widespread agreement that the banking industry is at the forefront of on-line accessibility in the private sector. Bank of America, Sovereign Bank, LaSalle Bank and Washington Mutual are among the banks whose websites we continue to monitor, working with the institutions as issues arise. This year, for example, thanks to efforts by the Bay State Council of the Blind and blind advocates in Massachusetts, Citizens Bank agreed to remove a visual CAPTCHA on that had been placed on the site after accessibility improvements had been made. We are using Structured Negotiations to work with other financial institutions and retailers to make their websites accessible and to eliminate visual captchas, and hope to be announcing additional agreements on these issues over the next twelve months.
Tactile Point of Sale Devices. As a result of Structured Negotiations advocacy by the AFB, ACB and CCB, five national retailers have so far agreed to replace flat screen point of sale devices at certain cash registers in each store with units that have tactile keypads. Without these keypads, blind customers must disclose their PIN, and other confidential information, in order to use a debit card or other PIN-based payment cards. This year, in addition to signing new agreements with RadioShack and 7-Eleven, we continued to monitor earlier agreements with at WalMart, Safeway, and Trader Joe’s. Tens of thousands of tactile devices have already been installed pursuant to these agreements, and thousands more will be installed in 2008. (Trader Joe’s tactile units were delayed due to software and hardware problems that the company is working diligently to fix. We hope very soon to beannouncing that the tactile units are up and running in Trader Joe’s stores across the country.) We also continue to monitor our point of sale agreements with Walmart and Safeway negotiated on behalf of the ACB, the CCB and the American Foundation for the Blind. Positive negotiations with several other national retailers on POS Devices are on-going.
Braille and other Alternative Formats. Accessible financial information is a guaranteed right under federal and state law, and we continue to monitor settlement agreements providing for alternative formats. As a result of Structured Negotiations, the following institutions are providing monthly statements in Braille and other formats: Bank of America, American Express, Wells Fargo, Sovereign Bank, LaSalle Bank, Union Bank of California, Citizens Bank, and Washington Mutual. Positive negotiations with other financial service providers are on-going.
As with all issues, feedback from the community is critical in our efforts to monitor the effectiveness of our agreements and company implementation. This year, thanks to steadfast commitment by individual blind advocates in Massachusetts and Tennessee, American Express improved the delivery time for Braille statements. If you are reading this email and not receiving your financial information in a timely manner in a format that is effective, we hope you will call your financial institution today and ask for what you need.

(3) On-Going Negotiations: We are in on-going Structured Negotiations with the following companies: Rite Aid, CVS, Target, UCSF Medical Center, Experian, Equifax and TransUnion. These companies are working in good faith with us and representatives of the blind community, including AFB, ACB, CCB and individual blind advocates, and we hope to be able to announce additional agreements in the coming year. Finally, we have approached several other companies who have not yet committed to the Structured Negotiations process, and hope to have positive news soon on that front as well.


To be posted VERY LOW on the refrigerator door - nose height:

Dear Dogs and Cats:
The dishes with the paw prints are yours and contain your food. The other dishes are mine and contain my food. Please note, placing a paw print in the middle of my plate of food does not stake a claim for it becoming your food and dish, nor do I find that aesthetically pleasing in the slightest.

The stairway was not designed by NASCAR and is not a racetrack. Beating me to the bottom is not the object. Tripping me doesn't help because I fall faster than you can run.

I cannot buy anything bigger than a king sized bed. I am very sorry about this. Do not think I will continue sleeping on the couch to ensure your comfort! Dogs and cats can actually curl up in a ball when they sleep. It is not necessary to sleep perpendicular to each other, stretched out to the fullest extent possible. I also know that sticking tails straight out and having tongues hanging out the other end to maximize space is nothing but sarcasm.

For the last time, there is not a secret exit from the bathroom. If by some miracle I beat you there and manage to get the door shut, it is not necessary to whine, meow, to claw the door, to try to turn the knob or get your paw under the edge and try to pull the door open. I must exit through the same door I entered. Also, I have been using the bathroom for years --canine or feline attendance is not mandatory.

The proper order is: kiss me, *then* go smell the other dog or cat's butt. I cannot stress this enough!

To pacify you, my dear pets, I have posted the following message on our front door:

To All Non-Pet Owners Who Visit and Like to Complain About Our Pets:

  1. They live here. You don't.
  2. If you don't want their hair on your clothes, stay off the furniture.(That's why they call it "fur"niture.)
  3. I like my pets a lot better than I like most people.
  4. To you, it's an animal. To me, s/he is an adopted son/daughter who is short, hairy, walks on all fours and doesn't speak clearly!

Please Remember: Dogs and Cats are better than kids because they:

  1. Eat less
  2. Don't ask for money all the time
  3. Are easier to train
  4. Usually come when called
  5. Never drive your car
  6. Don't hang out with drug-using friends
  7. Don't smoke or drink or curse
  8. Don't worry about having to buy the latest fashions
  9. Don't wear your clothes
  10. Don't need a gazillion dollars for college, and
  11. If they get pregnant, you can sell their children!

Hats Off to Horizons for the Blind

By Carl Augusto

We always like to show our support for innovators in the blindness field, so I wanted to share with you some news a colleague of mine recently passed along. This year marks the 30th anniversary of Horizons for the Blind, a nonprofit that provides accessible materials for those of us with vision loss.

Founded by Camille Caffarelli, Horizons empowers visually challenged individuals by giving them access to a variety of large-print or Braille materials, enabling them to read their bills, etc. without aid. The organization, based in Crystal Lake, Ill., is staffed mostly by people who are blind or legally blind. Customers can get materials embossed in Braille or magnified in 22-point "large print" typefaces; and audio versions of many items, including bills, are also available on cassette, CD and MP3. More than 20,000 bank, utility and credit card statements are transcribed each month along with items like menus for larger companies and user manuals for household appliances. Congratulations to Camille for providing this invaluable service to our community for so many years!

Posted by Carl Augusto on 12/28/2007 11:00:09 AM.

What To Do When You Meet A Sighted Person

by Kent Ireton

People who use their eyes to receive information about the world are called sighted people or "people who are sighted." Legal "sight" means any visual acuity greater than 20/200 in the better eye without correction or an angle of vision wider than 20 degrees. Sighted people enjoy rich full lives, working, playing and raising families. They run businesses, hold public office and teach your children!

How Do Sighted People Get Around?!
People who are sighted may walk or ride public transportation, but most choose to travel long distances by operating their own motor vehicles. They have gone through many hours of training to learn the "rules of the road" in order to further their independence. Once that road to freedom has been mastered, sighted people earn a legal classification and a "Driver's License" which allows them to operate a private vehicle safely and independently.

How To Assist A Sighted Person
Sighted people are accustomed to viewing the world in visual terms. This means that in many situations, they will not be able to communicate orally and may resort to pointing or other gesturing. Subtle facial expressions may also be used to convey feelings in social situations. Calmly alert the sighted person to his surroundings by speaking slowly, in a normal tone of voice. Questions directed at the sighted person help focus attention back on the verbal rather than visual communication. At times, sighted people may need help finding things, especially when operating a motor vehicle. Your advance knowledge of routes and landmarks, particularly bumps in the road, turns and traffic lights, will assist the "driver" in finding the way quickly and easily. Your knowledge of building layouts can also assist the sighted person in navigating complex shopping malls and offices. Sighted people tend to be very proud and will not ask directly for assistance. Be gentle yet firm.

How Do Sighted People Use Computers?!
The person who is sighted relies exclusively on visual information. His or her attention span fades quickly when reading long texts. Computer information is presented in a "Graphical User Interface" or GUI. Coordination of hands and eyes is often a problem for sighted people, so the computer mouse, a handy device that slides along the desk top, saves confusing keystrokes. With one button, the sighted person can move around his or her computer screen quickly and easily. People who are sighted are not accustomed to synthetic speech and may have great difficulty understanding even the clearest synthesizer. Be patient and prepared to explain many times how your computer equipment works.

How Do Sighted People Read?!
Sighted people read through a system called "Print." This is a series of images drawn in a two dimensional plane. People who are sighted generally have a poorly developed sense of touch. Braille is completely foreign to the sighted person and he or she will take longer to learn the code and be severely limited by his or her existing visual senses. Sighted people cannot function well in low lighting conditions and are generally completely helpless in total darkness. Their homes are usually very brightly lit at great expense, as are businesses that cater to the sighted consumer.

How Can I Support A Sighted Person?!
People who are sighted do not want your charity. They want to live, work and play along with you. The best thing you can do to support sighted people in your community is to open yourself to their world. These Americans are vital contributing members to society. Take a sighted person to lunch today!

Nuts and Bolts

By: Jo Taliaferro

From the Taliaferro Kitchen of ancient times:
4 cups rice chex, 4 cups wheat chex, 4 cups corn chex, 4 cups cheerios, 2 cups thin pretzels, 2 cups salted peanuts. Melt 1 pound margarine and add 4 tablespoons Worcesteshire sauce. Heat the butter and Worcesteshire sauce slowly for 15 minutes or stick in microwave till warm. Pour liquid over ceareal mixture in a VERY large pan. Oven: 250 degrees. Time 2.5 hours. Toss mixture every 15 minutes and enjoy!

ACB-M Board of Directors

Janet Dickelman, President
St. Paul, MN
Phone: (651) 428-5059

Michael Malver, Vice-President
Minneapolis, MN
Phone: (612) 673-0664

Sue Lindgren, Secretary
Minneapolis, MN
Phone: (612) 605-4526

Juliette Silvers, Treasurer
Minneapolis, MN
Phone: (612) 824-2131

Chris Bell, Director
Minneapolis, MN
Phone: (612) 859-4938

Carolyn Coby, Director
Forest Lake, MN
Phone: (651) 464-5935

Bob Lockwood, Director
Minnetonka, MN
Phone: (952) 938-7190

David Moseman, Director
St. Paul, MN
Phone: (651) 340-4217

Jo Taliaferro, Director
Minneapolis, MN
Phone: (612) 722-1195

Ken Rodgers, Ex-Officio Member
Minneapolis, MN
Phone: (612) 236-4115