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Submission deadlines are the first of the month.
The American Council of the Blind is a membership organization made up of more than 70 state and special-interest affiliates. To join, visit the ACB website and complete an application form, or contact the national office at the number listed above.
Those much-needed contributions, which are tax-deductible, can be sent to Ardis Bazyn at the above mailing address. If you wish to remember a relative or friend by sharing in the council's continuing work, the national office makes printed cards available to acknowledge contributions made by loved ones in memory of deceased friends or relatives.
Anyone wishing to remember the American Council of the Blind in his/her Last Will and Testament may do so by including a special paragraph for that purpose. If your wishes are complex, contact the ACB National Office.
To make a contribution to ACB via the Combined Federal Campaign, use this number: 2802.
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 visit the Washington Connection online.
Each day, it seems like we hear more and more about the health care crisis in America. Medicare recipients cannot receive appropriate prescription coverage. HMO prescription coverage is disappearing year by year. For the blind, many types of health insurance are either not available, or the insurance is too costly for the average person to afford.
The American Council of the Blind is seriously investigating the feasibility of embarking on the creation of a health insurance program for our members. Several types of insurance plans could be offered that are either not currently available to blind people or available only at very high cost. Depending on interest and level of participation by the membership of ACB, we could create a very attractive health insurance program for blind people.
We would greatly appreciate receiving your feedback to determine whether we should pursue these opportunities. Please answer the following four questions to help us begin this investigation. Be sure to include your name and address along with your responses. Return them in the form of your choice to the ACB national office. Alternatively, you can fill out the survey on the ACB web site. Visit http://www.acb.org and follow the link to the ACB health care survey after May 10, 2003.
(1) If ACB were to make available a comprehensive health insurance benefits program that would permit freedom of choice of physician, drug coverage, and limited coverage for technology and other devices that would improve your ability to engage in the activities of daily living, would you be:
(A) Very interested
(B) Interested, depending upon the price of the coverage
(C) Not interested
(2) If you were interested in such a policy, at which monthly premium level of individual and family coverage would you remain interested?
(A) $150 single - $300 family
(B) $175 single - $350 family
(C) $200 single - $400 family
(D) $250 single - $500 family
(E) $300 single - $600 family
ACB is also considering investigating the feasibility of obtaining long-term care (nursing home) coverage for its members. This kind of coverage has been just about unavailable to blind people on any reasonable cost basis. Nursing home care can virtually rob a person of his/her savings, unless he/she is already Medicaid-eligible, and the waiting period for Medicaid eligibility often means divesting personal assets in order to become eligible. If such coverage were to be obtainable on a group basis by ACB on behalf of the membership, it would likely provide a minimum of $300 per day in a skilled nursing facility or nursing home for a benefit period of up to three years of confinement. The benefit would cover the subscriber or spouse with both being eligible to take advantage of the coverage. The policy would be guaranteed renewable each year, although the rates might increase due to inflation.
With this background, please answer these questions:
(3) If the premium for such long-term care coverage were in the following ranges, indicate your level of interest:
[ ] $80 per month:
(A) Very interested
(B) Somewhat interested
(C) Not interested
[ ] $100 per month
(A) Very interested
(B) Somewhat interested
(C) Not interested
[ ] $120 per month
(A) Very interested
(B) Somewhat interested
(C) Not interested
(4) If the coverage were raised to $500 per day nursing home coverage and the length of the coverage period were raised to lifetime coverage if you were confined in a nursing home, and the premium was $200 per month for such coverage, would you be:
(A) Very interested
(B) Somewhat interested
(C) Not interested
Thank you for providing ACB with this information. I will provide feedback during the ACB national convention on the feasibility of obtaining these insurance coverages based on your responses.
I am pleased to share with you the policies endorsed by ACB and others at a recent meeting of the National Council of State Agencies for the Blind (NCSAB). The statements speak for themselves as evidence of our guiding principles upholding consumer choice and best practices in rehabilitation training and service provision. Joint Statement on Critical Issues Facing Specialized Rehabilitation Services For People Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired
We the undersigned organizations endorse the following principles: Use of Visual Occlusion in Orientation and Mobility Instruction
We believe that programs providing instruction in independent travel to individuals with functional/usable vision are most effective when they recognize the importance of using both visual and non-visual techniques to travel safely and efficiently. For some individuals, blindfolding may be an effective method for teaching reliance on the use of other senses; however, we believe the best practice is to incorporate instruction in the use of remaining vision so that individuals will learn to use both visual and non-visual information simultaneously. While we believe that the use of visual occlusion is an appropriate instructional technique for some individuals, it must not be mandated as a condition for the receipt of any services. Additionally, when occlusion is to be used, it should be provided with the prior expressed consent of the individual receiving instruction. The professional orientation and mobility specialist, in consultation with the consumer and when appropriate the consumer's family, should determine whether and how to make use of visual occlusion. Certification
We support certification of professionals meeting the unique and individual needs of consumers with visual impairments. To be meaningful, such certification must require satisfaction of relevant post-secondary education, practice-based skills acquisition, and adherence to a Code of Professional Ethics. These criteria are designed to ensure that certified professionals possess a relevant and measurable knowledge base, competencies, and skills to provide individually tailored services. A certification program's adherence to this combination of criteria assures a level of professional quality which cannot be guaranteed by minimal practice-based criteria alone.
The certification program of service providers in the blindness and low vision field administered by the Academy for Certification of Vision Rehabilitation and Education Professionals (ACVREP) meets these criteria. In addition, the ACVREP maintains full recognition with the National Certification Commission (NCC), a non-profit external reviewer of certification programs. To ensure adherence to meaningful standards, we believe that any organization that purports to certify professional service providers should be similarly recognized by the NCC and/or other comparable independent reviewing or accrediting bodies. Use of Dog Guides
The Americans with Disabilities Act, the Rehabilitation Act, and laws in all 50 states guarantee access to public accommodations and to the programs and services of state/local government by people who are blind or visually impaired who may use dog guides. This guarantee extends to participation in any and all education and vocational rehabilitation programs and services. The use of a dog guide therefore is the individual choice of a consumer which must be honored. Statement Endorsed by: American Council of the Blind American Foundation for the Blind Association for Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired Blinded Veterans Association National Council of Private Agencies for the Blind and Visually Impaired
This week, I'm celebrating spring break from the 140 middle schoolers I teach math to on a daily basis. It is hard to believe that, when school resumes on April 14th, there will be just one quarter to go before school ends and our convention gets under way. I'm in a perpetual balancing act that I have grown accustomed to over the past couple of years. So take a trip with me as I talk about the upcoming convention in math terms.
Subtraction: All the rooms at the Westin have been subtracted from our assigned block. Now you'll need to call the Hilton at (412) 391-4600. The Hilton is approximately 10 blocks from the Westin and convention center, and shuttles will run between the hotel and the center on a continual basis. The Westin at (412) 281- 3700 is not keeping a waiting list, so you will need to keep checking with them to see if there is any space available.
Rates: The room rate at the Westin is $85 and the Hilton is $79 per night. Please remember that hotel and city taxes are added onto the rate, bringing each night's stay closer to $100 per night.
Coordinates: Most convention events will be held at the convention center. ACB has very little contracted space at the Westin. And that's a good thing, since meetings held there would be at considerable cost to ACB or to those holding tickets. The convention center has even donated meeting space, something not often done. So, set your location for meetings at the convention center on the second floor and the exhibits on the first.
Addition: As of the end of April the ballroom and additional meeting rooms are scheduled for completion. Site selection and contracts coordinator Carla Ruschival and I will be traveling to Pittsburgh to take a look at the finished product and finalize the placement of meetings, breakfasts and other activities as well as get a notion as to how the skywalk enters into the center.
Base: The local Pittsburgh Golden Triangle Chapter has been instrumental in fulfilling their responsibilities. They are planning an awesome Welcome to Pennsylvania Party on Saturday, July 5th, are setting up the various religious services as well as entertainment and daily invocation speakers, compiling restaurant lists and other needed information. I would like to say a huge thank you to Gene Barton, host committee chair, and company for all the work they have done thus far and for all the tireless hours they will be putting in during convention week.
Estimation and Exact: From the airport to either hotel by cab is about 15-25 minutes depending on traffic and will cost about $35. Express Shuttle USA leaves the airport every 60 minutes. It runs from 7 a.m. to 11:30 p.m., Sunday through Friday and from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturdays. The cost is $16 one-way and $30 round trip. The airport shuttle leaves the Westin from 6:05 a.m. to 9:05 p.m., Sunday through Friday and from 6:05 a.m. to 4:05 p.m. on Saturday. From the Hilton you can get to the airport from 6:15 a.m. to 9:15 p.m. Sunday through Friday and from 6:15 a.m. to 4:15 p.m. on Saturday. If you need further information, give them a call at (800) 991-9890. Margarine Beaman, volunteer coordinator, has been working with the airport to have volunteers on hand on the peak travel days. She tells me that some volunteers will even be allowed at the gates!!
Factors: Some new factors to consider this year are the book signing for the ACB History, which is expected to take place at a gala on Wednesday evening, and there will be some exciting breakouts on Thursday following a short general session. Also factor in a trip to the Pittsburgh v. Houston baseball game, a visit to the Carnegie Science Center and an evening of My Fair Lady and you have the formula for a great convention.
Possible and Probable: It is the goal of the convention committee, whether you are a novice or a veteran attendee, to make the Pittsburgh convention a positive, informative, fun and fulfilling experience. ACB is the best organization for blind and visually impaired people to belong to. From the opening session to the banquet and beyond, ACB is the organization that is making things happen -- we are indeed determining our future. I look forward to seeing you all in just a few short weeks from now.
I hope you enjoyed this quick refresher course in middle-school math and look forward to counting many of you present as the convention opens on Sunday, July 6, in Pittsburgh.
In April's "Braille Forum," you read about several tours which have been under consideration for convention week in Pittsburgh. As we draw closer to July 4, it's time for an update. As you might expect, there have been some changes, some clarifications, and a couple of exciting new additions. Get ready for a list of tours that will match every taste and every budget, as we head toward convention week in Pittsburgh.
First the bad news: we had to cancel our mid-week three-rivers cruise. The good news is that our Wednesday evening event, still in the planning phase, will be one that just about every ACB member will want to attend. Don't miss the "ConventionScope" for a description of this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity!
As reality sets in, we realize that there just won't be enough time on Sunday afternoon for you to experience every one of the 27 nationality rooms at the University of Pittsburgh. We will try to visit as many as we can and still allow time to see and touch exhibits.
Be sure to read your registration form carefully. We will note there those tours that require a good deal of walking, extended time sitting on the bus, or other factors you may want to weigh as you make your selections. If you have special transportation or food needs, please indicate them, and be aware that, in most cases, we will be unable to accommodate last-minute requests for menu variations or other extraordinary requirements. If you believe you will need one-on-one attention during a tour, please make arrangements to travel with an assistant or dedicated partner of your choosing. Finally, be aware that, if during convention week, we find that tours have not been sufficiently filled, we reserve the right to cancel them. Of course, if you have pre-registered, we will refund the price of tickets.
Monday, July 7: If you enjoy the harmonies of vocal groups, ranging from the Oak Ridge Boys to the Back Street Boys, The Ink Spots to The Kingston Trio, The Lettermen to The Supremes, you won't want to miss the sounds and memorabilia of the Vocal Group Hall of Fame in Sharon, Pa. In its short five-year history, more than 60 groups have already been inducted. Test your memory and your vocal group acumen as you listen to sound clips and identify which group, from the 1930s to the present, you are hearing.
If you choose, instead, to visit the Senator John Heinz Pittsburgh Regional History Center, you will learn about the history of Pittsburgh, from 1754 to the present. A 13-minute highlight film, narrated by Pittsburgh Pirates Willie Stargell, will set the scene. Our tour will include an especially interesting exhibit that details Pittsburgh's involvement in the Underground Railroad.
Tuesday, July 8: You'll be feeling "just ducky" as you board a vehicle (operated by a company of the same name) that will carry you on land and water as you tour the Pittsburgh area. After an hour-long tour, you'll be ready to taste the fare at a local microbrewery, where you'll learn about the brewing process, and sample an intriguing dessert.
Or, you may choose, instead, to learn about an array of services, including outdoor recreation, radio reading, and education, from the dedicated professionals at the Western Pennsylvania School for the Blind and another facility we're still lining up.
Wednesday, July 9: An important part of Pittsburgh's past is the production of steel. Although nearly all the mills are gone now, you can still take a well-narrated bus tour to learn about many of the important steel-producing sites in the area.
Or, if you like science, join our tour of the Carnegie Science Center, where we will experience an Omni-max presentation, as well as a number of exhibits where hands-on exploration is a world- famous feature.
Thursday, July 10: Historical battle sites are always popular with tourists, and if you're a history buff, you won't want to miss 250-plus-year old Fort Ligonier, a battle site from the French and Indian wars. After touring the fort, there will be time to visit some of the fascinating shops in the small village there. If you like souvenirs, you'll find them in abundance here. Galore!
Or, if history is not your thing, you may decide to visit the Phipps Conservatory, where there are 13 rooms of plant displays, exuding various fragrances, to give even the most olfactory- challenged person an aroma high.
Saturday, July 12: If you're still in Pittsburgh, you may want to join us for delicious Chinese food (sans MSG), and then walk or ride a couple of blocks to see a production of the musical "My Fair Lady." We have main floor seating. However, tickets are hard to come by, and we only have 30 at this time.
There's something for every interest among our list of tours, so watch for your convention registration packets. I predict the only problems you'll encounter will be in narrowing down your choices.
The National Association of Blind Teachers (NABT) has planned an exciting program for the 2003 ACB convention in Pittsburgh, Pa. Here is our agenda for the week.
We will begin our activities with our annual breakfast and program on Sunday, July 6 from 8 to 9:30 a.m. The program topic will be "Blindness: Not a Tragedy But A Transforming Experience." Our speaker will be Sally Alexander, author of the children's book, "Mom Can't See Me," and several other books. Since this is a topic of such universal interest to members of ACB, we are sure that many people will want to attend. So, make your reservations early! The program will be followed by the NABT board meeting from 9:30 to 11 a.m. The meeting is open to everyone.
On Monday, July 7 at 1:30 p.m., NABT and NABS will join forces to present a program called "Out-of-sight Tips for Dating Blind -- Not Necessarily Blind Dating." The program presenter will be Lynn Cooper, the image awareness consultant and motivational speaker often featured on ACB Reports.
On Tuesday, July 8 from 1:30 to 2:30 p.m., we will hold our annual business meeting. Come and meet old friends and share your ideas for the future of NABT. Then, at 2:30, we will co-present an important panel discussion with NAPVI entitled, "Educational Options for Blind and Visually Impaired Children." Panelists will include Dr. Janet Simon from the Western Pennsylvania School for Blind Children in Pittsburgh; two itinerant teachers, Patty Slaby from the River Falls School District (in Wisconsin), and Marcia Dresser, who is a collaborative reading teacher in Massachusetts, as well as a parent representative.
Don't you agree that we have planned an interesting and informative agenda for this year's convention? Come and join us, be inspired, learn something new, and let your voice be heard!
Are you an IVIE member or would you like to be one? Do you have your own business or would you like to start one? If you answered "yes" to any of these questions, then IVIE (the Independent Visually Impaired Enterprisers) has activities just for you during convention week!
We will kick things off on Monday, July 7 from 7 to 8:30 a.m. with our breakfast, business meeting and election. After a sumptuous breakfast of bacon and eggs and lively conversation with old friends and new, you will have an opportunity to take part in the exciting work of IVIE and elect new officers.
Later that same day from 1:30 to 4 p.m., IVIE will conduct an informative seminar titled "The SBA And You." Whether you are already a business owner or just thinking about starting your own business, the Small Business Administration can help you to be successful. Donald Nemchick, Manager of the Business Information Center, Pittsburgh, will speak about SBA's services and web site, access to capital, SCORE and much more! Materials will be provided in accessible formats. From 4 to 5 p.m., there will be a business card exchange, break and time to set up for the Business Expo.
We will cap off the day from 5 to 8 p.m. with the IVIE Business Expo, where you will see business in action as blind and visually impaired business owners showcase their products and services and answer questions about their businesses. The cost for a table at the Business Expo will be $10 for IVIE members and $25 for non-members. If a non-member who participates in the Expo would like to join IVIE, $10 of the $25 fee can be applied to IVIE dues. Whether or not you have a table at the expo, you are welcome to come and browse. If there is enough interest, IVIE will maintain a booth in the exhibit hall throughout convention week. Those who wish to exhibit their products and services can purchase time at the IVIE booth. If you would like more information about participating in the Business Expo or the IVIE booth, please contact Carla Hayes, IVIE president, at (724) 941- 8184.
As you can see, IVIE has an exciting convention week agenda planned for you! Why not join us and get down to business with IVIE?
Our many presenters this year are experts with a deep commitment to their work with and for people with vision problems. Here are two examples: Michael B. Gorin, M.D., Ph.D., professor of ophthalmology at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, said that he feels honored to be a part of our convention; he knows about us, subscribes to "Vision Access" and appreciates our purpose and our work. Kristal Platt, MS, genetic counselor, University of Nebraska Medical Center, has low vision, works as a genetics counselor and is a dedicated wife and mother. Just think what it will be like to meet and be inspired by people like Dr. Gorin and Kristal Platt!
In addition, we will present a panel of sports and recreation enthusiasts who will discuss an array of options for a healthy and fun-filled lifestyle. Expand your horizons with CCLVI when you meet people from around the world and from our own country. Support groups, business meetings, parties, games and dances are all part of our program. Come and let us meet you and welcome you!
We will meet at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center in Pittsburgh, Saturday, July 5, through July 12, 2003. We thank Bernice Kandarian, CCLVI's first vice president, for developing our program. Here it is!
Saturday, July 5, 2003
3 to 6 p.m. CCLVI pre-convention board meeting
6 to 7 p.m. CCLVI nominating committee meeting
Sunday, July 6, 2003 "A Well-Balanced Day"
9 to 10:15 a.m. Helping the Patient with Central Vision Loss: Diabetes, Macular Degeneration, etc., by Paul B. Freeman, OD, FAAO, Diplomate Low Vision, Chief, Low Vision Services, Allegheny General Hospital, Pittsburgh, Pa.
10:15 to 10:30 a.m. An Overview of the American Academy of Optometry and the American Optometric Association Low Vision Sections; Kathleen F. Freeman, OD, FAAO, Diplomate Low Vision, Immediate Past Chair of both sections.
10:40 to 11 a.m. Committee Reports: Nominations, Ken Stewart, Chair; Credentials, Coletta Davis, Chair; Scholarships (Fred Scheigert and Carl Foley), Janis Stanger, Chair; Resolutions, Mike Godino, Chair.
11 to 11:50 a.m. Panel Discussion: The Value of Sports and Recreation for People with Visual Impairment and How to Get Involved. Moderator: Ken Stewart; Panelists: Oral O. Miller, President, United States Association for Blind Athletes, Past President, American Blind Bowling Association and Past Vice President, Ski For Light; Susan Lichtenfels, Founder, SportsVision; Enrique Perez, President, International Blind Sports Association (invited); Marty Mathews, President, Western Pennsylvania BOLD (Blind Outdoor Leisure Development).
11:50 a.m. to 12 noon: Reading of Proposed Constitutional Amendments, Michael Byington, Chair.
Noon to 1:30 p.m. Break
1:30 to 3 p.m. CCLVI Support Group for People Living with Low Vision; Facilitator, Herb Guggenheim, PhD.
4 to 6 p.m. CCLVI Mixer, President's Suite.
10 p.m. to 1 a.m. Back by Popular Demand! Music the Way You Like It: Gordon Kent takes requests for listening and dancing.
Monday, July 7, 2003
Co-sponsored session with ACB Human Service Professionals, Council of Families with Visual Impairment, and National Association for Parents of Children with Visual Impairment.
1:30 to 4:30 p.m. Genetic Eye Conditions and Visual Impairment; Michael B. Gorin, MD, PhD, Professor of Ophthalmology at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center; Kristal Platt, MS, Genetic Counselor, University of Nebraska Medical Center. Come hear the latest information about genetics and eye conditions and how they may relate to other health issues, implications for consumers and parents and how counseling can assist.
Tuesday, July 8, 2003
1:30 to 2:30 p.m. Panel: Low Vision Services Around the World. Moderator: Jane Kardas; panelists: international guests from Canada, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, and others. Discover how services for people with low vision differ around our planet.
2:30 to 4:30 p.m. Annual business meeting
4:30 to 6 p.m. Post-convention board meeting
Wednesday, July 9, 2003 "Giving and Getting Support"
1:30 to 3 p.m. Project Insight Volunteer Training, Joyce Kleiber, LCSW, Coordinator. Training session for current and prospective mentors in CCLVI's award-winning telephone support network.
3 to 4:30 p.m. CCLVI Support Group for people living with low vision; Facilitator, Charles Gourgey, Ph.D.
7:30 to 10 p.m. CCLVI Game Night: Team Trivia, Name That Tune!, Dating Game, Marriage Game and More!
Friday, July 11, 2003
10 p.m. to 1 a.m. Farewell to Pittsburgh Dance with the music of Gordon Kent, one-man orchestra.
Note: Check registration packet for applicable fees.
Who had the first gold record? What was the name of the song? What woman athlete for the first six years of her life answered only to "little girl?" For the answers to these and many more trivia questions come to Game Night on Wednesday, July 9th from 7:30 to 10 p.m. A new, faster-paced Horse Race with audience participation will be described by our hosts for the evening, Charles Glaser and Imogene Johnson. Catherine Skivers, the immediate past president of the California Council of the Blind, will provide piano music for our Name That Tune segment of the program; everyone will be involved and prizes will be given.
The Marriage Game will again let us know some of the secrets of our well-known participants. Will the winners of The Dating Game find a lasting friendship? Hope to see you there. I can hardly wait!
As you begin to plan for your trip to the ACB convention in Pittsburgh, don't forget about all the exciting activities that Friends-in-Art (FIA) is planning to present. Below is a summary of mixers, workshops, and performances.
Saturday, July 5
1 to 3 p.m. (repeated Sunday, July 6, from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m.): Our fiber arts division aims to get you interested in the wonders of quilting through a session entitled "You Too Can be An Old Sew-and-Sew: Festive Fabrics Patchwork For Every Occasion."
3 to 5 p.m.: Beginning Knitting: The Knack of Knit and Purl. Come to learn about the knitty-gritty skills knitters need to start accessing patterns and working on projects on your own; materials will be provided. For accomplished knitters and those who crochet, one-on-one instruction/guidance will be available by appointment; check the newsline and the convention paper for details.
7 to 9 p.m.: FIA Board Meeting. All welcome!
Sunday, July 6
1:30 to 3:30 p.m.: Repeat of quilting workshop.
4 to 6 p.m.: Mixer/Showcase Sign-up. Come meet old friends and make new ones while registering for a showcase audition slot. (Note that you must sign up for a slot if you wish to perform in the FIA showcase; please see next section for additional information.)
6 to 7 p.m.: Chorus Rehearsal. (Please see next section for details if you are interested in singing in the chorus.)
Monday, July 7
1:30 to 3 p.m.: MIDI Workshop. Once again, participants can learn about the latest advancements in accessible music technology.
3:30 to 6 p.m.: Audition/Rehearsal for Showcase (see next section for details).
9 to 10:30 p.m.: Prose/Poetry Reading. Writers are invited to read their original works and non-writers are invited to listen to, and interact with, these writers.
10 to 11 p.m.: Concluding Chorus Rehearsal (see next section for details).
Tuesday, July 8
12:30 to 2:30 p.m.: FIA Lunch and Business Meeting. After sharing pizza with others interested in the arts, attend our annual business meeting, including election of board members.
2:30 to 4 p.m. and 4 to 5:30 p.m.: I Feel Your Pain-ting. Street Thoma, an accomplished painter, will be demonstrating his technique of incorporating various tactile media into a presentation of the main aspects of a painting in order to make it come alive for people with visual impairments. He will describe his approach and provide samples of his work for participants to explore.
8 to 10:30 p.m.: Friends-In-Art Showcase of the Performing Arts. Celebrate good times and great timing! Come and enjoy a variety of works, featuring the world-famous FIA band "Grade Four Braille and the Funky Fonts" and the FIA chorus.
Wednesday, July 9
1:30 to 4 p.m.: Printing Professional Music Scores. Presented by David Pinto, developer of the "Sibelius Speaking" software package. This workshop will highlight how recent advancements in adaptive software facilitate the translation of musical ideas into print music notation.
3 to 5 p.m.: Writers Workshop. Daniel Simpson, a talented writer and educator, will demonstrate how writers can "prime their creative pumps" through the use of journaling. Please bring your preferred writing tools.
5 to 6:30 p.m.: Round and Harmony Sing. Come and sing those beautiful rounds and harmony songs we all know and love and learn some new ones, including one composed especially for this occasion.
Thursday, July 10
7:30 to 8:30 a.m.: FIA Board Meeting: All welcome!
1:30 to 3 p.m.: Copyright Law Made Simple. Barbara Friedman, a copyright lawyer and a jazz singer, will summarize the laws governing the ownership, licensing, and use of your creations and the works of others. Some Words to Prospective Showcase Performers
To increase your chances of performing in front of an adoring audience, here are a few points to consider when selecting your material:
1. We tend to have a shortage of up-tempo acts, as potential performers often bring more meditative material to the microphone. If your preference is the latter, give some thought to preparing an upbeat backup.
2. Variety is key to achieving a successful show. Therefore, we usually judge within genre: that is, voice accompanied by piano performances will be compared to each other, while dramatic readings will be judged against other dramatic readings. Although music is the most popular mode of entertainment, all performing arts media are welcome, and we especially encourage new talent to audition.
3. The FIA showcase is considered family entertainment. While the prose/poetry event encourages freedom of expression, spoken language in showcase presentations should respect the potential for an audience of both children and adults.
4. Come well prepared. Polish and flair will both capture your audience, and go a long way toward ensuring your place in the show.
5. Please note that previous experience has shown that 23 acts, with each act in the spotlight for no more than five minutes, makes for a good well-balanced show.
6. Let us know what you need in advance.
Piano accompaniment: A sighted accompanist will be available to play from a printed musical score. If you plan to use this resource, please be sure to bring the score with you to the FIA mixer on Sunday, July 6. As always, several talented people are available to improvise accompaniments to show tunes, jazz standards, and gospel hymns.
Using a pre-recorded track: To those considering performing with the assistance of a pre-recorded accompaniment, please bring a copy -- not the original, as our best efforts at returning materials have sometimes gone awry -- to the audition on Monday, July 7. Please affix your name to the cassette or CD. Note that since your five minutes in the limelight are best spent displaying your own talent and style, overly lengthy instrumental interludes are strongly discouraged.
Fronting the band: To those considering using our "house band," please alert us to the title of the song you wish to sing (note that while we are not equipped to accompany tunes performed by such bands as Eminem, Evanescence, or Elephants Unlimited, we can play swing, pop, and R&B standards). You'll need to schedule some time to rehearse with the band during the mornings of either Monday, July 7 or Tuesday, July 8.
Join the Chorus: To those interested in singing in our chorus, and who have not previously received a rehearsal tape, please e-mail me your name and street address ASAP, as the tapes will be mailed in early June. Let me know if you wish to be sent the lyrics in braille or large print. Please be prepared to attend both rehearsals mentioned in the previous section.
Audition procedures: Everyone, including those who have alerted us previously of their interest to audition, must sign up for a rehearsal time slot during our mixer on Sunday, July 6. We'll need your name, the title of the selection you are planning to perform, and the name and room number of the hotel where you are staying. Pianists be advised that a full 88-note weighted keyboard will be available. While getting in touch with one another is always difficult at conventions, we plan to inform all performers of audition outcomes that night or early the following morning.
Please e-mail information and/or questions to Peter Altschul at [email protected].
We believe that this array of activities and opportunities to perform will give you the chance to broaden your horizons in a relaxed friendly atmosphere. We encourage performers to perform and audiences to enjoy!
Ah ... spring! The emerging from a damp, dank, wet winter here in South Carolina. Maybe one would say that the wet winter was not so bad since it broke five years of reduced rainfall and drought. But, for us average folks, the sun and the blooming of trees and shrubs signal the excitement of a new season.
This spring also signaled that the South Carolina Department of Transportation has agreed to evaluate a Charleston County intersection for possible audible pedestrian signal installation. We are delighted that the department is honoring our request. If the installation goes through, a blind vet will be able to cross a four-lane highway with median without being confused by omni- directional traffic and the inability to estimate light changes. This was not a rapid action for the transportation department. Our first letter was sent in November 2002. The agreement to evaluate the intersection came in March 2003. Government moves slowly and deliberately. Nevertheless, we are encouraged and grateful that our needs have been heard.
This is the time of year when we begin to plan our activities. We are busy making plans and reservations for local and state activities. Our first day trip was to participate in a Low Vision Fair held by the Charleston chapter of ACB and the Macular Degeneration Group of Myrtle Beach. Our next outing will be attending the Riverdogs semi-pro baseball game on April 19th. It's always lots of fun and generally a beautiful evening to sit outdoors at the park.
We will begin collecting toiletry items for one of our organizational annual goals, which is to supply kits to the homeless veterans in our area. Did you know that 30 percent of homeless men are veterans? Often, we jointly work with the Charleston chapter of ACB; sometimes local school students get involved as well. It is always a labor of love and often makes us happy that we can help someone.
We received word through our connection in the public school vision program that one of our "Christmas Students with Vision Loss" is going upstate to college this fall. This is almost as exciting as the audible pedestrian signal! Certainly, more blind and visually impaired students are climbing higher in education and training these days.
Here's hoping that your spring gives you a warm and fuzzy feeling. And not just from the pollen!
On Friday, March 28, U.S. District Judge Steven J. McAuliffe handed down his long-awaited decision in the case of State of New Hampshire v. Committee of Blind Vendors et al. The American Council of the Blind (ACB), the Randolph-Sheppard Vendors of America (RSVA) and the National Education and Legal Defense Service for the Blind and Visually Impaired (NELDS) actively participated in this litigation before the U.S. District Court for New Hampshire through their submission of a friend of the court memorandum of law supporting the legal contentions being argued by the committee of blind vendors.
The case involved the long-festering complaint of New Hampshire's licensed blind vendors that their state had for many years utterly failed to provide them with the priority under the Randolph-Sheppard Act to operate vending machines at rest stops along the interstate highway network. Initially, the vendors had brought their case before the federal district court, but at the urging of the state, Judge McAuliffe had dismissed their action and ordered them to assert their claim in the administrative and arbitration process set forth under the act. The vendors did precisely what the court had ordered them to do by promptly pursuing their evidentiary fair hearing and arbitration rights before the U.S. Department of Education. An arbitration panel convened by the Commissioner of the Rehabilitation Services Administration on two separate occasions ruled in favor of the vendors' claim. The panel held that the state of New Hampshire had failed through its roadside concessions conduct to give the state licensing agency and its vendors the priority to operate vending machines at rest stops along interstate highways envisioned under the Randolph-Sheppard Act. The panel ordered New Hampshire to pay the business enterprise program an amount in damages equal to the commissions derived by the state from its contracts for the operation of vending machines at rest stops.
Not wishing to pay the business enterprise program for the blind an amount of ordered damages between half a million and a million dollars, the state of New Hampshire commenced the present action in the U.S. District Court challenging the arbitration panel's award. Even though the state had urged the federal trial court initially to send the vendors through the arbitration process in which the state had actively participated, in light of recent U.S. Supreme Court decisions such as the Garrett case, the state argued that the arbitration panel had no jurisdiction to hear or decide the vendors' claim nor the authority to grant money damages against the state as a remedy for a found violation of the Randolph-Sheppard Act. In a lengthy, copiously footnoted, 91-page memorandum opinion and order, Judge McAuliffe ruled against the sovereign immunity contentions of the state. He held that the arbitration panel was within its authority to hold as it did that the priority under the Randolph-Sheppard Act is in fact the priority incorporated by reference into the Kennelly Amendment to TEA-21. While the district court does slightly expand the period for damages but also grants the state an offset for state expenditures to construct shelters for vending machines at certain of the covered interstate highway rest stop locations, Judge McAuliffe does affirm the authority of the arbitration panel to award money damages against a state respondent who is found to have violated the Randolph-Sheppard Act priority. Finally, the court refused to make an award of attorneys' fees to the blind vendors on the ground that the arbitration panel had declined to make such a fee award.
The result obtained through Judge McAuliffe's opinion is a solid victory for the vendors and for ACB and its friend of the court partners.
On December 11, 2002, a settlement was reached in which the owner of an eight-unit apartment building in San Bruno, Calif. has agreed to pay $88,000 to resolve a fair housing lawsuit. The lawsuit alleged that the apartment owner, Simin Nejat, refused to rent an apartment to Linda and Alfred Gagne because Linda is blind and uses a guide dog. Despite repeated efforts by the Gagnes and by a representative from Guide Dogs for the Blind to explain that the guide dog was a service animal and not a pet, the owner refused to allow the guide dog.
The undisputed evidence established that the landlord violated the federal Fair Housing Act as well as related state laws which make it unlawful to discriminate in the rental of a dwelling because of a disability. The act also makes it unlawful to refuse to rent to someone because he/she uses a service animal. Linda Gagne will receive the first payment in her settlement in March 2003.
Although the ACB national convention offers a seemingly endless array of interesting and informative presentations, we all need a break from time to time. I urge you to set aside some time between the hours of 4 and 6 p.m., Monday through Thursday of convention week, to drop in at the Recreation Zone, where you'll be able to work out the muscle kinks and stretch your body and mind. This year, thanks to the assistance of SportsVision of Pittsburgh, demonstrations or participation sessions will feature yoga (yes, yoga), beep baseball, audible darts and, of course, water aerobics (led by ACB's own Geraldine Koors with assistance from husband Don patrolling poolside). Because water aerobics has been so popular during recent years, we hope to conduct sessions on two afternoons, and perhaps in both hotels (although we still have to solve the problem of Gerry Koors' inability to be two places at once). Check the convention schedule to learn when and where each activity will take place. Your whole body will be thankful for the relaxation and friendship you'll discover at the Recreation Zone each afternoon, and the energy boost you'll receive will carry you right on through dinner and all the evening activities that beckon.
Learn more about SportsVision when you attend a Sunday morning panel discussion sponsored by the Council of Citizens with Low Vision International (CCLVI), which will feature SportsVision's executive director, Susan Lichtenfels. We'll be seeing you at home plate, near the audible dart board, during the yoga session and by poolside -- in the ACB Recreation Zone!
I am pleased to tell you that when our Durward K. McDaniel committee last met, we found enough money in our cash box to bring three first-timers to ACB's 42nd annual convention this year in Pittsburgh. We couldn't have done this without all your generous help last summer. Our wonderful Mac Hatter's Tea Party was so successful that we're going to be doing it again this summer in Pittsburgh, with an added bonus: audio description! Yes, veteran describers Michael Byington of Kansas and Linda Bradley of Texas will provide colorful commentary as all of you parade your hats and yourselves through the party room. It's an event you won't want to miss!
In addition to an array of colorful, creative hats on parade, the party will feature the "tea" recipe that many remember with some fondness from last summer's festivities, cash prizes, and a beautiful handmade afghan created by Milly Lillibridge for this special occasion. Tickets are only $1 apiece, or six for $5, and it's easy to purchase them. There are 10,000 tickets in all, so don't be hesitant. Contact your affiliate president, any member of the ACB board of directors, or me (my contact information is listed below), and we'll get the tickets right out to you. The California Council of the Blind (CCB) generously paid for us to print 10,000 tickets, and I don't want to have to lug all those ticket books across the country to Pittsburgh, so I hope you'll buy lots before I leave for the convention in July.
If you get to the convention without tickets in hand, you can contact any member of the committee who will have them for sale.
Please contact me at (510) 357-1986 or write me at 836 Resota Street, Hayward, CA 94545-2120. You can also e-mail me at [email protected].
Because of you, the Durward K. McDaniel Committee experienced the best year we've ever had last summer. I know how generous ACB members are, and I know that you share our excitement about bringing first-timers to our conventions and into our ACB family. Because of you, I am confident that we'll have an even better year in 2003. Thank you.
When the 2003 mid-year meeting of the ACB board of directors was called to order by President Gray around 1:45 p.m. on Sunday, February 16 at the Westin Convention Center Hotel in Pittsburgh, all board members were present, as well as executive director Charlie Crawford, chief financial officer Jim Olsen, editor of "The Braille Forum," Penny Reeder, membership and affiliate services coordinator Terry Pacheco and approximately 25 guest observers. Preliminary business included approval of the meeting agenda and adoption of the minutes from the September 2002 board meeting.
Convention site selection coordinator Carla Ruschival indicated her intention to present on the following day proposed bids for the 2005 ACB convention from Phoenix, Ariz., Las Vegas, Nev. and Reno, Nev., as well as for the 2007 convention from Louisville, Ky., New Orleans, La., and Minneapolis, Minn. In addition, she said that there would be one proposed bid for the 2008 convention from Orlando, Fla., and that she expected to present other bids for that year at a future board meeting. Ruschival then made a motion containing several stipulations: first, that when the board accepts a convention bid for a specific year, the bid is accepted conditionally; second, that any proposal accepted by the board must be inspected by both the convention coordinator and the site selection coordinator before being finalized; third, convention bids which are accepted must subsequently be confirmed with signed written contracts before being deemed final; and fourth, that in considering and accepting bid proposals, the board should rank the bids into priority order so that if the first choice does not become final, the convention coordinator and site selection coordinator will be empowered to automatically go to the second priority choice to negotiate a contract. The motion was adopted.
Paul Edwards, chairman of the American Council of the Blind Enterprises and Services (ACBES) board of directors, indicated that ACBES had made only approximately $361,000 last year and had, therefore, been forced to remove approximately $300,000 from its reserves in order to meet its 2002 commitment to ACB. Edwards reported that this action had virtually stripped ACBES of its cash reserves, and had led the ACBES board to decide in mid-January that it could commit to support ACB's financial needs only in an amount of $500,000 for the 2003 budget year, which is considerably less than has been traditionally provided by ACBES in recent years. Edwards said the ACBES board has begun to take management steps which it hopes will enable the enterprise to increase its financial commitment later during the year. In addition, Edwards said, because its traditional telephone solicitation system for donated goods has become less viable in many markets, ACBES has been exploring alternative methods for gaining saleable goods, including procuring returned and surplus clothing products from major department store chains for resale in ACBES thrift stores. Edwards reported that this strategy has shown promising results in several stores. The board accepted the ACBES report.
In her treasurer's report, Ardis Bazyn reported preliminary 2002 ACB budget year results as follows: revenues totaled $919,000 and expenditures totaled $1,365,000. Thus, ACB found itself in a deficit position of approximately $446,000 for the 2002 budget year. However, because ACBES had transferred an amount of nearly $301,000 from its cash reserves, ACB's deficit was actually only approximately $145,500 which would have to be removed from ACB cash reserves. Bazyn then moved to designate PriceWaterhouseCoopers as ACB's public auditor for the 2002 fiscal year. Jim Olsen indicated that PriceWaterhouseCoopers had submitted a written proposal to conduct the 2002 audit for ACB for $10,700, and that ACBES had already accepted PriceWaterhouse's proposal to conduct its own 2002 audit. The motion to designate PriceWaterhouseCoopers as ACB's 2002 public auditor was adopted by the board. The board accepted the treasurer's report.
In introducing the report of the budget committee, Gray recalled that the board had worked very hard during three telephone conference calls to understand and take preliminary action upon the budget committee's original and revised budget notes. At the request of board member Carla Ruschival, Gray provided a quick review of all of the budget notes indicating the disposition of each. (See summaries of the board's January 16, February 2, and February 11 telephone conference call meetings in the March and April 2003 Braille Forums.) Gray then called upon budget committee chairman Brian Charlson to lead the board through the remainder of the committee's report.
Charlson began by describing the priority categories for both the revenue side and the expenditure sides of the proposed budget and indicated that the proposed budget was limited to only priority one and priority two items on both sides. On the revenue side, priority one items are funds that ACB is virtually guaranteed to receive during the budget year, and priority two revenues are those funds which ACB has traditionally received or is very likely to receive during the budget year. On the expenditure side, priority one items are those outlays which ACB is legally obligated to make, such as rent for the national office space, and priority two expense items are those expenditures which fund ACB's core programs and initiatives. Priority three items, which are not included in either side of the proposed budget, are those revenue items which might materialize but which ACB has no previous record of receiving in the past, and expenditure items, which although desirable or new initiatives, constitute items for which the budget committee was unable at this time to identify a reliable supporting funding source.
Charlson proceeded to go through the revenue side of the proposed budget line item by line item. When he reached the revenue item for contributions from individuals, which was zero, a number of board members raised questions regarding this item. Based upon suggestions from board members, the committee agreed by consensus to move revenue items acquired as a result of fund- raising letters and individuals' monthly monetary (M&M) giving program into this category. Regarding the line item of income from the annual national convention, which the budget committee had estimated at $10,000, a number of board members expressed the view that it was not realistic to anticipate any income from the 2003 national convention. After considerable discussion, the board adopted a motion to reduce the amount in this line item to zero.
Regarding a grant request to support ACB Radio which the budget committee had estimated at $60,000 of revenue, some board members felt that there should be an identical amount on the expenditure side of the proposed budget. The budget committee explained that even if this grant revenue did materialize, there was no guarantee as to exactly when and to what level or degree these funds would be expended during the 2003 budget year. The board considered a motion to insert an item of identical amount in the expenditure side of the proposed budget, but the motion was defeated. The line item for fund-raising from bequests, which the budget committee had conservatively estimated at $18,000, was increased, by motion, to $28,000.
In light of these changes, Charlson indicated that proposed revenues for the 2003 budget year now totaled $1,344,683.33. A motion was then made and seconded to approve the revenue side of the budget, and the board adopted the motion.
Charlson then began his presentation line item by line item of the expenditure side of the proposed budget. As a result of ensuing discussion, the board made the following changes to several specific line items:
Because the board had just approved selecting PriceWaterhouseCoopers as ACB's auditor at an expense of $10,700, that line item was revised upward by $700.
A discussion of directors' and officers' liability insurance premiums led to approval of a change in ACB's insurance coverage which will involve splitting the cost between ACB and ACBES, leading to additional coverage for Internet liability as well as workplace violence, and an increase in the ACB budgetary line item for insurance premiums of $193. This change was adopted via a roll-call vote of nine in favor and six opposed. Those voting in the affirmative were Alan Beatty, Ed Bradley, Paul Edwards, Billie Jean Keith, Mitch Pomerantz, Carla Ruschival, M.J. Schmitt, Donna Seliger and Pat Sheehan; those voting in the negative were Jerry Annunzio, Ardis Bazyn, Dawn Christensen, Chris Gray, Oral Miller and Steve Speicher.
After a protracted discussion of recommended increased expenditures for the ACB history committee, the board adopted a complex motion to authorize a total of additional expenditures of $9,000, splitting this amount for accounting purposes between end-of-year expenditures for 2002 and budget committee projections for 2003. The board also agreed by consensus to revise downward the budget committee's line item for professional fundraising by $2,500. With respect to Floyd Qualls Memorial Scholarships, the board voted to reduce the amount of available scholarship money to $10,000, and to offer only four rather than eight Qualls scholarships in the 2003 budget year.
A motion was made to reduce to zero the budget line sub-item for board travel and per diem reimbursement which had been estimated by the budget committee at $3,910. After some discussion, the board voted by a roll call vote of eight in favor and seven opposed to adopt the motion. Those voting in the affirmative were Alan Beatty, Ed Bradley, Billie Jean Keith, Oral Miller, M.J. Schmitt, Donna Seliger, Pat Sheehan and Steve Speicher; those voting in the negative were Jerry Annunzio, Ardis Bazyn, Brian Charlson, Dawn Christensen, Paul Edwards, Mitch Pomerantz and Carla Ruschival.
Then Paul Edwards made a motion to add an expense line item to the expenditure side of the budget in the amount of $5,000 as a contribution toward the ACB board-designated cash reserve. After some discussion, on a roll call vote of seven in favor and eight opposed, with one abstention, the board defeated the motion. Those voting in the affirmative were Alan Beatty, Paul Edwards, Oral Miller, Carla Ruschival, M.J. Schmitt, Pat Sheehan and Steve Speicher; those voting in the negative were Jerry Annunzio, Ardis Bazyn, Ed Bradley, Dawn Christensen, Chris Gray, Billie Jean Keith and Mitch Pomerantz, with Donna Seliger abstaining. This created a seven to seven tie vote with one abstention. Presiding officer Brian Charlson then cast a tie- breaking vote in the negative, thereby defeating the motion. A motion was then offered to adopt the expense side of the 2003 ACB budget contingent upon only those few expense line items which were scheduled to be deliberated and decided upon at the board's executive session the following morning. This motion was approved by the board with Steve Speicher requesting that his "no" vote be written into the record.
A motion was made and debated to suspend the board's previously adopted policy that all revenues in bequests in excess of $28,000 received in any particular budget year be placed in ACB's board-designated cash reserves, but the motion was defeated by voice vote.
A final report of the day was given by newly appointed membership committee chair Sue Ammeter, who told the board that she and her committee intend to work hard to put together and implement the ideas which came out of the wrap-up session of the affiliate presidents' meeting. AfterAmmeter's report was approved, the board recessed its meeting until the following morning.
When the meeting reconvened around 8:15 on Monday morning, with first vice president Steve Speicher presiding, the first order of business was Cynthia Towers' report on proposed revisions to ACB's reasonable accommodation guidelines for disabled people who attend ACB conventions or other ACB-sponsored events. Because several board members had not yet accessed the e-mail which outlined the proposed policy changes, the board approved a motion to defer further consideration of recommended revisions until the next anticipated board telephone conference call meeting.
When President Gray arrived at the meeting, the board went into its scheduled executive session. When the board reconvened its open meeting, Gray reported that the board had had under consideration some sensitive and confidential performance-related budgetary and employee matters. He indicated that the board had adopted motions during the executive session which resolved the matters under consideration. In light of the board having disposed of without change the final remaining outstanding expenditure line items for the 2003 ACB budget, a motion was adopted to approve the 2003 budget as amended during the board's consideration. Once again, Steve Speicher requested that his "no" vote be reflected in the minutes of the meeting. This resulted in the adoption of a 2003 annual budget for ACB which contains $1,344,683.33 in revenues and $1,355,424.73 in expenditures, resulting in an anticipated paper deficit of $10,741.40. This anticipated deficit is expected to increase when an additional amount of approximately $25,000 in depreciation expense of capital assets is also figured into the 2003 budget year calculus.
After listening to presentations from Reno and Las Vegas, Nev. and Phoenix, Ariz., all vying for selection as the site for ACB's 2005 convention, the board selected the Riviera Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas as its first preference for hosting that convention. A motion was then made to designate the Reno Hilton as the board's second preference if an acceptable final contract could not be concluded for the Las Vegas bid. The motion was approved on a roll call vote of seven in favor, five opposed with two abstentions. Those voting in the affirmative were Ardis Bazyn, Alan Beatty, Brian Charlson, Dawn Christensen, Oral Miller, M.J. Schmitt and Pat Sheehan; those voting in the negative were Jerry Annunzio, Ed Bradley, Chris Gray, Billie Jean Keith and Mitch Pomerantz. Donna Seliger and Steve Speicher abstained, Paul Edwards did not vote since he had already left the meeting, and Carla Ruschival did not vote in her capacity as presiding officer.
Details from the presentation of the representative from the Riviera Hotel in Las Vegas included: a guaranteed per-day single and double room rate of $77 plus applicable room taxes; the availability of multiple outside guide dog relief areas, to be housed underneath a tent, and including paved, grass, and absorbent chip surfaces; an opportunity for all convention events to be housed under one roof; and the availability of seven restaurants and a food court offering a wide variety of food choices and a wide variety of price levels as well as access to over 120 shopping outlets within the hotel.
Next, three spokespersons for hotels in Minneapolis, New Orleans, and Louisville vied for the board's selection for the 2007 ACB convention. The board selected the Minneapolis, Minn. proposal as its first preference for the 2007 ACB national convention site. A motion was then made to make the Riverfront Hilton Hotel in New Orleans the board's second 2007 preference, but the motion was defeated on a voice vote. Thus, the Galt House in Louisville was selected as the board's second choice for the 2007 ACB convention.
The Minneapolis Hyatt Regency proposed a per-day room rate of $86 plus applicable room and sales taxes and indicated, further, that if a contract can be negotiated within the next 45 days, that rate will decrease to $81 per day. The Hyatt Regency is offering a room block of 530 guest rooms with any overflow requirement being satisfied at the Millennium Hotel, which is across the street from the Hyatt Regency, at a per-day room rate of $84 plus applicable room and sales taxes. The Hyatt Regency has sufficient meeting space to house exhibits, general sessions and most breakout meetings at no cost to ACB, with additional complimentary meeting space being made available at the Millennium Hotel, if needed.
A final event of the morning was the drawing of the convention raffle sponsored by the National Education and Legal Defense Service for the Blind and Visually Impaired (NELDS). The first prize of two round-trip airfare tickets to the 2003 ACB national convention in Pittsburgh was won by Sharon Lovering. The second prize of five nights of lodging expense at the 2003 ACB national convention was won by Jane Kardas from California, and the third prize of two banquet tickets at the 2003 ACB national convention was won by Sandy Sanderson from Alaska.
As the meeting wound to its conclusion, Dodge Fielding of Fundflow, Inc. presented a report to the board on the progress he has made toward achieving the deliverables outlined in his contract with ACB. Plans were made to deal with budgetary and other matters which the board had not had the time to handle during the mid-year meeting at a future conference call meeting scheduled for early March, and the board concluded its business at approximately 12:35 p.m.
When President Gray called the conference call meeting of the ACB board of directors to order at 9 p.m. on March 4, all board members except for Paul Edwards, and directors Alan Beatty and Billie Jean Keith, were present. Shortly after the meeting commenced, Edwards and Keith were able to join the call. Charlie Crawford and Jim Olsen were also in attendance. Gray began by asking ACB first vice president Steve Speicher to report on an ongoing matter.
Speicher explained that he had been searching for ways to harness the considerable energy which had been engendered in many segments of the organization when the ACB board recommended against ACB's signing onto the GDUI Department of Justice complaint on behalf of Stephanie Dohmen. Speicher said that he had proposed to both GDUI and the Iowa state affiliate that a positive outcome might be achieved if they were to jointly contribute to fund a broadly based research project to investigate the extent of discriminatory practices against guide dog teams by rehabilitation agencies serving people who are blind across the country.
Mitch Pomerantz reported for GDUI that that organization's board has discussed the proposal and declines at this time to participate. Pomerantz said that GDUI might be willing to participate in such a research project if ACB were to ask all ACB affiliates to contribute and participate. Gray told the board that he has asked Pomerantz to head a task force which will be reaching out to identify guide dog handlers who may have faced discriminatory treatment by rehabilitation agencies. For example, Gray continued, ACB has good reason to believe that agencies in both Texas and New Mexico may be engaging in discriminatory practices like those of the Iowa Department for the Blind, against guide dog users who seek rehabilitation training in those states.
The board then turned its attention to the matter of proposed changes to ACB's reasonable accommodation guidelines for attendees at ACB-sponsored functions. After considerable discussion and debate, the revised policy was adopted with several clarifications. The policy departs from earlier guidelines in these important ways:
(1) ACB volunteers will not be responsible for or be expected to administer, dispense or identify medications for convention attendees.
(2) ACB is not obligated to intervene on behalf of or with any attendee in any financial matter other than the attendee's payment of convention pre-registration or on-site registration fees. Therefore, ACB's chief financial officer is free to determine, on a case-by-case basis, whether to cash personal or affiliate subsidy checks for convention attendees.
(3) Designated responsible ACB officials may, in extraordinary cases, bar a convention attendee from further convention functions where such an attendee has purposefully placed another attendee, companion(s) or service animal at risk.
The board then turned its attention to a major item which had been deferred to this meeting at the conclusion of the mid-year board meeting, namely whether to implement the budget center/cost center concept as a methodology for administering ACB's ongoing budgetary and financial affairs. After a rather lengthy discussion in which several alternative assignments for budget center control were discussed, the board agreed to designate a single employee in the Minneapolis office as the person responsible for obligating and recording encumbered funds against authorized budget line items. The budget committee will meet to firm up the details of this arrangement and report back to the board at its next conference call meeting in April. By consensus, the board tentatively agreed to hold its next telephone conference call meeting five weeks hence on Tuesday evening, April 8. In addition to considering the budget committee's revised budget center proposal, other agenda items for the next meeting may include a report from the ad hoc committee regarding attendance by ACB national organization representatives at state affiliate conventions, contracting authority and approval authorization for entering into such contracts, and presentation of a potential 2008 convention site selection proposal.
Finally, in response to a question posed by board member Dawn Christensen, Ed (Doc) Bradley explained that the intent of his mid-year motion was to remove authority to pay reimbursement requests for board per diem expense for the remainder of the budget year, but not to undo the previously agreed to one-day expense reimbursement the board had already agreed to for the mid-year meeting.
With no further business to conduct, the meeting adjourned at 10:45 p.m. Eastern time.
The editorial staff reserves the right to edit letters for clarity, style and space available. Opinions expressed are those of the authors, not those of the American Council of the Blind, its staff or elected officials. "The Braille Forum" is not responsible for the opinions expressed herein. We will not print letters unless you sign your name and give us your address.
To The Braille Forum:
A bromide states that, "United we stand, divided we fall." In light of the recent failure of a majority of the ACB board of directors, perhaps, an individual should amend this bromide to state: "Unified in advocating for rights with guide dog users, unless a state affiliate threatens departure." This letter will address the decision not to affix the name of ACB to the complaint GDUI filed recently and call for certain solutions and resolutions.
I pen this letter on behalf of GDUI's new affiliate named the Maryland Area Guide Dog Users (MAGDU), which has 30 members located in the Washington metropolitan area, including: Maryland, Washington, D.C., and Northern Virginia. Considering the locale in which MAGDU is located, the leadership team plans for our affiliate to play a national public policy setting role for ACB and GDUI. First, MAGDU members such as Scott Marshall, Esq., published letters concerning the grave actions of the board. MAGDU extends its full support to those comments.
Now, MAGDU lies in "NFB land," and as such is involved in advocacy efforts concerning the separation of certain guide dog users from their guides during rehabilitation training at Blind Industries and Services of Maryland (BISM). MAGDU chose a strategy of monitoring until the subject(s) of the discrimination in question complete the program. ACB posits that it is a leading advocacy organization and to that end always encourages the idea that we as members on the local level are to "stand for our rights to participate in society as full citizens." Well, that idea seems to exist only if a state affiliate does not threaten to depart. One of our sisters stood for her rights, and MAGDU's parent organization made word deed, by co-signing the complaint. How can ACB really expect its members to have the courage to stand for their rights, now that the board failed twice to co- sign complaints with GDUI in impact litigation?
The issue is not as ACB President Gray suggested to one of MAGDU's members -- co-signing the complaint would be an exercise of disregarding feelings -- but rather, the issue is whether ACB's leadership team will support its partners in engaging in impact litigation to protect the rights of guide dog users and people who are visually impaired. The opposing view posits that the GDUI complaint was fraught with factual or legal issues. As MAGDU understands, the purported defense in Iowa is that allowing access to a guide dog will "fundamentally alter the nature of the program." What a slippery slope the ACB leadership team stands upon when deciding not to engage in impact litigation because of the purported programmatic structure of a discriminatory organization. MAGDU should note, based on its own advocacy effort on this national issue, GDUI conducts a full review to assure the merit of any complaint on which its board decides to sign as a party. Based on our understanding of the facts, and a couple of e-mails MAGDU may have exchanged with the plaintiff(s) in this case, it is clear that a meritorious and good faith complaint and argument exist that unlawful discrimination occurred. Nevertheless, the past rests as flotsam upon the side of the road, and we as members of a larger civil rights movement must proactively address this issue in the future.
In progressively addressing the decision of the ACB board of directors, MAGDU stresses the importance of drafting a resolution that reaffirms ACB's commitment to civil rights protections for all Americans, particularly guide dog users. The resolution should include language stating ACB's commitment and willingness to make word deed by signing civil rights complaints with other allied organizations. MAGDU will strive and argue upon the convention floor with any interested ACB or GDUI member or MAGDU member residing in the DC area to this end.
I think Shelley Rhodes' review of "Finding eBooks on the Internet" was really good. Anna Dresner's book is great; I ordered it from NBP some two or three weeks ago; there is just none like it, in its detailed description. No question about it, she and Shelley are right: the days of not being able to find books because they were not available in braille, on sound recording, or in large print, those days are disappearing.
My husband (who now is totally blind) gets "The Braille Forum" -- and I read the articles to him that he is interested in.
We wish to respond to the article by Barry Levine on the Seiko watch. My husband has had two, and although they were more expensive, they were worth the money. They lasted. Batteries lasted about two years. They were easy to set, and they stayed that way because you couldn't easily push the wrong button. This last one was retired because he got in the shower, not realizing it was still on. I did send it away to be rebuilt (to the address on the circular that came with the watch). It cost about $75, but the watch has since died, and he didn't want me to send it back again.
I talked to the people at the Lighthouse for the Blind. They agreed -- and regretted that the watches were no longer available.
I just hope that if enough people write in, it or a comparable watch would be available again.
(Editor's Note: Donna F. Smith is a training and technical assistance specialist for Easter Seals Project ACTION, a national-scope program funded by the Federal Transit Administration to enhance transportation options for people with disabilities. She has a 21-year-old daughter of her own, and has doubtless passed along to her, her philosophy of disability: every individual has the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, and this right should not be diminished by discriminatory actions based on disability or other perceived differences.)
My challenge in telling this story is to keep from making it one of those sappy articles on disability that I absolutely loathe. But the fact is, I owe everything I have achieved as an adult to my mother's foresight and intuition in raising me to be as independent as possible. As the glory in this story is hers and not mine, perhaps I can attribute any sappiness to motherhood and her strength of character, rather than my disability. I think the thing that awes me the most is that she made her decisions about disability, took her stand and put them into action, years before the terms inclusion, equal access, and civil rights were applied to the disability community. She did what she did because she believed it to be right and ethical, and because in her endeavor to be the best mother she could be, she sought the path that would make the most opportunities in life possible for me.
In 1960 Arlene was a young housewife, mother of four with a high school diploma, doing exactly what she had always wanted to do. The fact that her goal in life was to get married and raise children should in no way indicate that she was passive or lacked ambition. Nothing could be farther from the truth. She was competent, self-assured, strong-willed and threw herself, heart and soul, into creating a safe and happy home that focused on nurturing her four children and any other children from the neighborhood who found their way into her mothering realm. She did all the essentials to motherhood and housewifing -- she cooked, canned, cleaned and sewed, and she spent volumes of time playing and teaching. She was smart enough to see to her own adult needs, too, and she claimed her quiet time to read, pulled rank to watch her favorite shows on television, sent us all to the babysitter's while she and my father entertained friends, but her focus was most definitely the welfare of her children. All was not always rosy either, and she faced very adult struggles and concerns, but we didn't see any of that until much, much later in life.
About midway through 1960, Arlene was in her new three- bedroom ranch house on the outskirts of town, facing me, her youngest child, across a high chair tray trying to convince me that I really did like strained peas and carrots. While making eye contact and funny faces to divert my attention from the odious task at hand, she noticed some unusual-looking spots near my pupils. Concerned, she made an appointment with the family ophthalmologist to have it checked out. In a very short period of time she learned that I had retinoblastoma, cancer of the retina, and that the prognosis was total blindness. Surgery was scheduled to remove the right eye, which was the most affected, and an extended schedule of treatments -- an injection of a drug thought to be useful at that time and radiation -- was arranged to treat the left eye. It was never assumed that such treatment would be successful in saving any vision, but it was hoped that it would be successful in stopping the tumors and saving the eye intact in case future medical treatment might be able to restore vision.
For the next year and a half, Arlene's days were filled with a mixture of hope and anxiety, a mother's grief over anything that threatens her child, and a fierce determination to see her child come out on top even if she might not completely understand what all those challenges might entail. This was all complicated by a sobbing child who quickly learned the routine activities that led almost daily to painful injections in the arm and episodes with a very large and scary-looking machine, and the reactions of family and friends which ranged from the minority reaction of "just tell us how we can help," to the majority reaction of fear, pity, and hysterical proclamations of offense against God. She neither gave in to the terror of her child or the overwhelming negativity of the uninformed and unwilling to learn. She reached deep within herself for the calm and balance that made her such a good mother, trusted her own basic instincts about what was right, and set about learning all she could regarding living as a person who is blind.
Though she experienced in full measure the heartbreaking sorrow that a mother feels when something happens to her child that is beyond her control to stop, she also never doubted that I'd not only survive but that I would not be diminished by it, and she took it on as her task as my mother to help me find the best ways to cope and come out the winner. One of her basic tenets in life is that whatever challenges we face make us stronger and better people for having faced them, and facing disability was no different from any other life challenge. She was absolutely sure from the start that, although she would have given anything for me not to have to deal with blindness, now that it was inevitable, I would be a stronger, better person because of it. She systematically rejected any notion that I would be inferior to other children, that there would be things in life I wouldn't be able to achieve or enjoy, that lower standards and expectations would have to be set for me because I had a disability. She was bombarded with such sentiments from people who just assumed that such was understood by any rational person and that to expect greater of me was cruel and unrealistic. She became fiercer in protecting me against such negative influences than any tigress guarding her cubs, and her innate belief in my inalienable right to be allowed to have the chance to strive for all that I wanted to accomplish in life, blossomed and grew and surrounded me as I continued to grow and develop during those crucial early years of childhood.
Her belief in me was so strong and was passed on to me so completely, that it honestly never occurred to me to question whether I could accomplish any task set before me, as a blind person. My only consideration was how I would accomplish these tasks as a blind person. This attitude was passed on to my older brother and sisters and to all the children in the neighborhood, and I spent my early years in what I later realized was an insular world of equal treatment and open acceptance. It was a shock to me to learn later that I could be denied participation or rejected out-of-hand because of my blindness. I was outraged and looked to my mother to explain how people, adults and other children, could get away with such unfair, unfounded and otherwise absolutely ludicrous treatment of me. She responded as usual with understanding and empathy, education about the reality of discrimination, confirmation that the problem was not my blindness but others' ignorance and, in her book, unethical reactions to blindness, and insistence that I could rise above such ill treatment, find another way to accomplish my goals and perhaps provide a little enlightenment in the process. Thus began my life-long commitment to public education regarding disability and the seeds of activism that planted me firmly in the middle of the disability movement as an adult.
I can say without any hint of equivocation that I owe my independent spirit, my conviction that I have a right to that independence and to pursue the goals that I set for myself, to that young woman who made it her business to be the best mother to me that she could be. She was and still is all that and much more to me. Though it was over 25 years ago that she handed over, or I took the reins of my own life, (we're still subject to arguing about that) she still provides me a willing ear, a little tea and sympathy, and a swift kick in the butt to get me moving toward finding a solution. Nowadays she shares "Arlene's philosophy of disability" (it would never occur to her to call it the "independent living philosophy") with her peers as they begin to encounter poorer vision, decreased mobility, shortness of breath, reduced stamina, and any of a number of things associated with advancing years. I know that she uses my life and my accomplishments as examples to follow, embellishing shamelessly and never pausing to give herself credit for being the impetus behind all that I do. The only time I ever hear her acknowledge her role is when we've been "discussing" something I plan to do, like my recent 1,000-mile move from Mississippi to Virginia to pursue career advancement, and she finally ended by saying, "I set out to make you independent and damn if I didn't do a good job."
Donna Smith, standing in front of her mother, shows off her white dress along with her sisters, Barbara and Laura. All three, along with brother Barry (right) were about to perform in a program for their grandmother. (Photo courtesy of Donna Smith.)
The announcement of products and services in this column is not an endorsement by the American Council of the Blind, its staff, or elected officials. Products and services are listed free of charge for the benefit of our readers. "The Braille Forum" cannot be responsible for the reliability of products and services mentioned.
To submit an item for "Here and There," send an e-mail message to [email protected]. You may call the ACB toll-free number, (800) 424-8666, and leave a message in mailbox 22. Please bear in mind that we need information two months ahead of actual publication dates.
Applications are now being taken for the August 8-17, 2003 TRAC Creative Music and Jazz Camp, a summer residential program for blind and visually impaired teen musicians. The camp, sponsored by University of New Orleans Training, Resource & Assistive-technology Center (TRAC) will give fledgling musicians the opportunity to study, perform, write, compose and edit music using a variety of special computer technologies, plus a unique environment to learn about jazz. The camp will also provide a strong focus on leadership skills, independent living skills and an introduction to careers in music.
The camp is open to blind and visually impaired musicians ages 12-19. Requirements include at least two years of musical training, basic computer literacy, a submitted performance tape and a recommendation from a music instructor. Scholarships are available to all participants and include classes, food, recreational activities and sleeping accommodations in staff- supervised residential rooms at the TRAC facility. Students must supply their own transportation to and from New Orleans. Positions are limited and students will be chosen based on skills and experience.
Applications are due by May 30. For information on the camp, or to request a registration form, contact Rose Angelocci, (504) 280-5705, e-mail [email protected], or Denise Jett, (504) 280- 5708, e-mail [email protected].
Many of us seem to struggle with how best to handle the conflicts we regularly confront, and wish we could do a better job of handling our responses to them.
Candle in the Window, a small national non-profit organization with the aim of building both individual skills and a sense of community among people with visual impairments, welcomes blind people with varied experiences to join them at its 17th annual conference entitled "Resolving Conflicts Without Hemming and Hawing." We aim to address such questions as: What is conflict?; How can we better manage conflicts within ourselves and with others?; How (if at all) does blindness impact on our ability to resolve conflicts?; How can we better manage conflicts within the blindness community?; and How can we assist others to resolve conflicts?
In addition to provocative presentations and stimulating discussions, there will be plenty of time for swimming, hiking, eating, singing, quiet reflection, and just plain "hanging out."
The conference will take place from Wednesday, July 23rd, through the morning of Sunday, July 27th, at the Kavanaugh Life Enrichment Center, located just outside of Louisville, Ky. It costs $240 ($15 discount if we receive a $35 non-refundable deposit by June 15); limited scholarships and payment plans available.
For additional information, please contact Peter Altschul at (202) 234-5234, e-mail [email protected], or Kathy Szinnyey at (502) 895-0866, e-mail [email protected].
The U.S. Association of Blind Athletes, in conjunction with Disabled Sports USA and the National Disability Sports Alliance, will play host to the 2003 U.S. Disabled Cycling "Introduction to Racing" Camp June 15-22 at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs.
Cyclists with physical disabilities, ages 17 and older, are invited to attend and hone their skills primarily in road racing, but with instruction in track racing also. Eligible athletes include: blind and visually impaired cyclists who race on tandem bikes with a sighted partner; cyclists with cerebral palsy or head injury who use both standard bikes and tricycles; and amputee cyclists who ride single bikes. Camp staff members will include certified cycling coaches, a U.S. Cycling Federation- certified mechanic, and guest speakers from a variety of sports- related fields.
Riders attending camp can expect to be on their bikes twice a day on average, participating in skill drills and practicing race simulations. There will also be some evening lectures and fitness testing.
While some subsidy will be provided to most riders, individual attendees will be responsible for a portion of the camp cost. Food and housing will be provided at the center as part of the camp. Riders are asked to bring their own bikes and gear to the camp; tandem riders are encouraged to bring their own pilots.
For more information, or to request a camp application, contact Pam Fernandes at [email protected] or call (781) 449-9563. You may also visit www.usaba.org for more information and a downloadable application.
The Oral Hull Foundation for the Blind just announced its summer camp dates. Adult camp (ages 21 and up) will be held July 19-26, 2003. Youth camp (ages 10 to 20) will be held August 16- 23. The cost for the week is $300; camperships are available. For more information, or an application, write to: Oral Hull Foundation for the Blind, PO Box 157, Sandy, OR 97055, or phone Ria Ehrheart at (503) 520-9384.
The Interagency Committee on Disability Research (ICDR), authorized by the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended, is collecting input from the public on their view of research needs related to disability and rehabilitation in such areas as technology access, education, employment, community life and health care. The ICDR is mandated "to promote coordination and cooperation among federal departments and agencies conducting rehabilitation research programs." You will find further information and an interactive form for submitting comments at http://www.icdr.us/.
Marjorie Arnott has a new address. It is: 4233 East La Costa Drive, Chandler, AZ 85249. Her new phone number is (480) 345- 8773. She has a wide selection of craft books: 128 knitting books, 126 crochet books, 46 cookbooks and 24 general books, all of which are always being added to. Interested? Contact her at the address or telephone number shown.
There is a new ACB listserv in town -- SASI (Sight And Sound Impaired). This list is meant to be a forum to share, compare and dispense information among ourselves. We invite SASI, family, friends, those who work and share with us, and all who are interested in issues directly related to sight and sound impairments, to join the list.
To join the new ACB Sight and Sound Impaired listserv, send a blank message to [email protected].
Because so many members and friends of the American Council of the Blind responded so generously to our annual fall fund- raiser, "The Braille Forum" will continue to list those contributors in June. Contributors' names will be published according to alphabetic listings of the states where they reside in this and the next issue of "The Braille Forum."
ACB wishes to thank its many members and friends who gave so generously in response to our fall 2002 letter requesting support for ACB's ongoing programs and services. This partial list of donors reflects only those people who gave us permission to publicly acknowledge their gifts.
Calvin Wooten, Anniston
Denyse Eddy, Winter Park
Edith Horn, Tampa
David Lang, Ormond Beach
Anders N. Madsen Jr., Palm City
Grace C. Moulton, Tallahassee
Mike Cox, Martinez
Phillip M. Jones, Loganville
Polly A. Roe, Roswell
Hideko Shimokawa, Honolulu
Betsy Whitney, Hilo
Ann Brash, La Grange
Ray & Karyn Campbell, Glen Ellyn
Heidi Kimbel, Rock Island
Howard & Janice Thomas, Springfield
Rachel Wiley, Vandalia
Peter Hertli, New Harmony
Mary Plake, Bedford
Roger Larson, Eagle Grove
Donald & Jean Enos, Wichita
Thomas Lutes, Bardstown
Susan B. Robertson, Louisville
Natalie Nouth, Baton Rouge
George Roderick, Augusta
Anita Cohen, Potomac
Terry Connell, Hagerstown
Parley & Maryann Van Sickle, Bethesda
Gilbert Busch, Jamaica Plain
Andrea Doane, Brookline
Myra Ross, Amherst
Betty Soderholm, Southborough
Sylvia Adrian, Port Huron
Dr. Louis J. Cantoni, Detroit
Tom Carpenter, Eaton Rapids
Tom Cordes, Northport
Margaret M. Hunerjager, Niles
Alvin Nehmer, Gladwin
Lucile Patrick, Kalamazoo
Edward Bender, White Bear Lake
Juliet Silvers, Minneapolis
James Torgerson, St. Paul
Mike & Elaine Vining, Minneapolis
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