The Promoter-August 2023

NDAB in blue inside the outline of the state of North Dakota.  Also includes the text: North Dakota Association of the Blind PO Box 824, West Fargo, ND 58078
a white cane is at the bottom of the image horizontally.

The Promoter – August 2023

Official Publication of the

North Dakota Association of the Blind

Available in four formats:

large print, email, braille and cartridge

Editor: Emily Stenberg Brown

Not they who lack sight,
but they who lack vision are blind.

Persons with vision loss will live
a successful, productive life.

“We strive to enhance the way of life for people

Who are blind or visually impaired,

To encourage employment opportunities,

And to educate the public about sight loss.”


From the President 3

From the Editor 5

Calendar for 2023 6

Book Club with the Browns 6

Members of our NDAB Family 7

Welcome to Our New Members! 7

Spotlight on NDAB Member: Mary Lou Stip 8

Spotlight on NDAB member: Allan Peterson 10

The ABCs of the ACB Convention 13

2023 Award Recipients at NDAB Convention 17

2023 Advocate of the Year Award – Missy Miller and Trampes Brown 17

2023 Robert “Bob” LePage Award – Russell Doe – Reeder Lions Club 19

2023 Ed Christianson Award – Susan Jorgenson 19

Friend of NDAB Award – Tami Purcell 20

Congratulations to NDAB’s 2023 Scholarship Recipients! 20

Landline: A New Bus Service Option from Fargo to Minneapolis 20

Important Sports and Recreation Committee Announcement 21

Learning Something New Feels Great – A Life Enrichment Report by Zelda Gebhard 22

NDAB Life Enrichment 22

Board of Directors Meeting Minutes from January 16, 2023 27

Board of Directors Meeting Minutes from March 2, 2023 30

Board of Directors Meeting Minutes from May 15, 2023 31

2023 Convention Meeting Minutes from June 9-11, 2023 34

Board of Directors Meeting Minutes from June 11, 2023 43

Development Report, NDAB Convention 2023 44

ACB Delegate Report from the 2022 American Council of the Blind Convention 48

Leadership Roster 55

Committee Chairpersons: 55

Local News Reporters: 56

Communication Connections 56

From the President

Greetings from my dining room table, 

I know it has been a very busy summer for my family and me. I am sure it has been for all of you as well. We wait and anticipate the warm summer days to be enjoying all of our summer hobbies. Gardening, lake time, and enjoying family; as we are quickly exiting this short time of the year, it is important to look back as we look towards the future. I would like to thank just a few of our valued leadership team that have served us so graciously. Board members Missy Miller and Doug Stip have come off of the board, and I want to thank them for their time and dedication assisting in guiding our organization, always putting our membership above personal interests. Your service will be greatly missed on the board, but I know you will continue in a variety of ways to steer this ship into whatever oceans lie before NDAB.  

I would also like to thank Beth Bakke Stenehjem in her servanthood of The Promoter. She has worked so hard to ensure we are receiving our preferred format of our newsletter, even with many barriers along the way. You have left some large shoes to fill, but I am very confident that the new editor of the Promoter will do a fabulous job, even if I am slightly biased. I know Emily will do great. 

As we show our appreciation for those transitioning out of office, it is very important that we support and encourage those transitioning into office. We welcome Janelle Olson and Elias Youngblom to the board as directors. As many of you know, they both bring experience, respect, and passion to our membership and I look forward to serving with each of them in their roles. We also welcome Emily Stenberg Brown as editor of the Promoter. She has the attention to detail and experience to help stay true to the traditions of the newsletter while introducing new ideas for all to enjoy. 

While considering what to include in this edition of the newsletter, I pondered for some time. You have heard me talk about what NDAB needs help with. You have heard me strongly encourage all to show respect and play nice together. You have even read what I think we should be doing as an organization. While I still believe all of those topics and articles are very important and would like us all to pursue them, I believe I should really start writing and speaking less and start reading and listening much more. 

What do you want and need? It is really that simple. What do you as members of NDAB want and need? Obviously needs are more important than wants; however, both areas should be heard. I will do everything I can to listen to phone calls and read any and all emails sent to me. I want to serve our organization, not just be a part of leading it. If you are an individual that desires we do more advocacy and public awareness, what are your ideas? If you have a great idea to get more of our members connected to one another, how can we make that happen? I know we have so many talented and passionate members and new members we haven’t even met yet. You are all valued members. You are all able to help us pursue the mission of NDAB and assist all people of North Dakota, the U.S., and the world. See Blind Possible. Whether visually impaired or a general member of North Dakota we have a duty to help all live better with vision loss or better understand what life with barriers is all about.  

So, please, call me, email me, send me a carrier pigeon. I want to hear from all of you. We are a strong organization, but we can always get stronger.  

Best Regards,

Trampes Brown  

President NDAB 

From the Editor

Thank you for electing me to be the new editor of your newsletter, The Promoter. I am very honored and excited to take on this new role. For those of you with a large print copy, you will already notice a few small changes to the format. I hope this makes it easier to read.

This edition is quite lengthy. One reason is because of the format changes, and another reason is because of some extra reports from Convention. Some of the reports and meeting minutes included in this edition were read at the Convention in June. I decided to include them in The Promoter as well since not all members were present at the Convention. This way, everyone has a chance to hear this information.

I am very interested in knowing what you want to read about in The Promoter. I have created a short Google Form to find out what changes – if any – you’d like to see in the newsletter. Please consider filling it out and sharing your opinion. Of course, we may not be able to fulfill all ideas, but I am eager to from all of you. If you feel more comfortable sending an email with your ideas, you can do that too. Send a message to with your suggestions and feedback. Here is the link to the survey: I will also include it in the body of the email with the Promoter attached. Those of you with a print copy can type that website into the address bar to be directed to the survey.

Enjoy the rest of the summer!

Emily Stenberg Brown

Calendar for 2023

August 6 – 13 NDAB Camp at Camp Grassick

September 1 – 3 Sports & Recreation Retreat at Wesley Acres

October 16 Walk for Vision (Fargo – tentative)

Book Club with the Browns

Submitted by Trampes Brown and Emily Stenberg Brown

We hope you all had plenty of time for books this summer! Whether walking or gardening or just enjoying an afternoon on the deck, there are plenty of opportunities to listen to a good book in the summer months. We have missed chatting with all of you, but we will be getting back into Book Club on Wednesday, September 6. Join us at 10 a.m. and then again at 7 p.m. that evening. If you miss a discussion, you can always listen to the recordings linked on the Play It Again email.


Here are the book club picks for this fall.


September 6 – Anxious People by Fredrik Backman (DB 100531)


October 4 – The Wish by Nicholas Sparks (DB 105113). Mary Lou Stip will be the guest discussion leader. (Thanks, Mary Lou!)


November 1The Last Thing He Told Me by Laura Dave (DB 103326)

December 6Dear Edward by Ann Napolitano (DB 98106)


If you have any questions about book club, please reach out to Trampes ( or 701-389-7982) or Emily ( or 701-795-2709).

Members of our NDAB Family

Angie Kokott, formerly of Jamestown, ND, died Wednesday, April 26, 2023, at Essential Health in Fargo.

Carmen Suminski, formerly of Grand Forks and Adams, ND, died Wednesday, July 5, in Cashton, WI, from complications of congestive heart failure.

Welcome to Our New Members!

Steve Anderson from Fargo, ND

Brian Bartholmy from Scranton, ND

Debra Fohrman from Fargo, ND

Richard Hatch from Sykeston, ND

Karston Kellar from Mandan, ND

Mark Kueffler from West Fargo, ND (returning member)

Menuka Rai from Grand Forks, ND (returning member)

Ethan Thiseth from Fargo, ND (junior member)

Cylee Walton from Cavalier, ND

Tanner Werner from Breckenridge, MN

Spotlight on NDAB Member: Mary Lou Stip

Tell us about yourself.

My name is Mary Lou Stip. I live in South Fargo. My family includes my husband, Doug. I have one son named Chad who is married and lives in Fargo, and I have two granddaughters. I have a sister in Rothsay, MN. My visual impairment is Retinitis Pigmentosa, which gives me tunnel vision. I also have Usher’s Syndrome, which causes hearing loss as well as vision issues.

What are some of your hobbies?

I love to bake and cook. I love to read books. I also enjoy round loom knitting.

How long have you been a member of NDAB?

I joined back in 1996. I went to camp for the first time in 1995, and right after that I joined.

Why did you become a member?

Friends encouraged me to join.

What is your favorite memory from NDAB events?

Becoming the vice president is a special memory for me. I really wanted to get on the board, and then I kind of gave up. But someone reached out to me and said I should be the vice president. I thought at first that he was nuts, because I was down on myself. But then I realized that I could do it.

What committees have you served on?

I was Vice President from 2016 – 2020. I work on the Robert “Bob” LePage Service Award, which is given every year to a Lion.

Have you received any awards from NDAB?

I got the Advocate of the Year Award in 2019.

In my last year as VP, NDAB received the ACB Affiliate Membership Growth Award.

Most recently, in 2022, I won the Ed Christianson Award.

What do you consider NDAB’s greatest accomplishment?

I think being able to connect on Zoom over the last couple of years was so important, keeping those connections. And it’s been a great partnership with the School for the Blind.

Why should someone join NDAB?

Having the friendship of other blind people. We are there to encourage you and to help you find the solutions to questions you may have and to help you find the information you are looking for. Doctors don’t tell you everything.

How do you see blind possible?

We can do things! Just because we’re blind, we’re still human beings. We’ve got other ways of doing things; we don’t need our eyes. There are solutions.

Is there anything else you want to share?

I want to encourage more people to get involved in NDAB, especially young people.

A person sitting on a couch holding a ball and a frisbee

Description automatically generated with low confidence

Caption: Seated on a couch, Mary Lou holds her round loom and yarn and smiles at the camera.

Spotlight on NDAB member: Allan Peterson

Giving Hearts Day (GHD), a 24-hour fundraising event held each year in February for charities in North Dakota and northwest Minnesota, is NDAB’s biggest fundraiser. This year’s event raised over $17,000 (not including match dollars) for NDAB. And Allan Peterson is the man behind this mission – and the money. Allan, who has been NDAB’s Development Director (formerly the Financial Chair) since 2010 was involved in Giving Hearts Day with another organization and thought it would be a great way to expand NDAB’s reach and introduce new people to the organization. “I encouraged the Board to consider the many benefits of our participation in this event,” he explains. Since 2017, GHD has become an important date on NDAB’s calendar, not only for its financial success but also because it introduces new people to the organization. Let’s hear more from Allan and learn how he became involved in NDAB.

Tell us about yourself.

I’m Allan Peterson from Horace. I have been married to my wife Judy for 51 years. We are the proud parents of 3 adult children and 3 grandchildren. I have been blind for half of my life due to retinitis pigmentosa. I was raised on my parent’s farm, which was primarily a dairy farm, near Brandon, MN. I was educated and trained as a veterinarian, then did further graduate work in veterinary microbiology, pathology, and statistics. I am a former NDSU faculty member in the Department of Veterinary Science. I did diagnostic and research work in veterinary science. I am very active in my community. I have been a board member of the Horace Lions Club and on the church council for our church, St. John Lutheran in Fargo.

How long have you been a member of NDAB and why did you become a member?

I joined NDAB in 1983. I became a member because other NDAB members encouraged me to join and to attend the Adult Summer Camp in 1983.

What is your favorite memory from NDAB events?

I have had the opportunity to represent NDAB when we speak to our North Dakota congressional delegation on Capitol Hill in Washington D.C. My favorite memory of those trips was having a hand in getting Senators Dorgan and Conrad to become sponsors of the 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act (CVAA) that was enacted in 2010. It’s recognized as landmark legislation, particularly in the community of people with blindness. It’s legislation that adopted audio description as a standard for our access to visual information.

What positions have you served on the NDAB board and what committees have you been a part of?

I have held the offices of President, Development/Financial Director, and Board member.

I have served on numerous committees, including Fundraising, Legislative & Advocacy, Communications, Constitution & Bylaws, Finance, Summer Camp, Fargo Conventions, and Strategic Planning.

I have also helped facilitate Insight, a Fargo-area support group for people and families that have experienced blindness.

Have you received any awards from NDAB?

I received the Ed Christiansen Service Award (I believe it was in 2003) and the Advocate of the Year Award in 2021.

What do you consider NDAB’s greatest accomplishment?

Two accomplishments stand out to me. One was to institute the Adult Summer Camp in 1971. Over the years of its existence, the Camp has brought numerous people together from around the state to share the common experience of being blind or visually impaired. Several Camp testimonials have said that it’s the one thing that’s made the biggest difference in their lives.

The second major accomplishment, I believe, was the decision to become an affiliate of, at the time, the newly formed, fledgling national organization of people who are blind, the American Council of the Blind, in 1964. I believe the advantages of our affiliation with ACB are extremely beneficial to our members.

How do you “see blind possible”?

I use the blindness specific tools that I’ve learned, orientation and mobility with the white cane, braille, and the use of many assistive technology skills to be as independent and productive as I can possibly be.

Is there anything else you want to share?

I believe we have to realize that most of our friends and acquaintances may not know another person who is blind, and we are their example of someone who is blind or visually impaired. So, each of us are educators to others for what it is like to be someone who has limited or no eyesight. Blindness doesn’t make us any different than anyone else.

Caption: Allan gives a thumbs up and smiles while standing next to State Senator Tim Mathern on Disability Day at the State Capital.

The ABCs of the ACB Convention

This year’s ACB Conference and Convention was held in Schaumburg, Ill, June 30 – July 7. Virtual events, including the Call to Order and the reading of resolutions, constitution, and bylaws, were held before the in-person event, starting on June 19. Two NDAB members traveled to Schaumburg for the 62nd Annual Conference and Convention: Allan Peterson from Horace and Gerald Byron from Edinburg. Gerald’s granddaughter, Shelby, also traveled to Illinois for the event. Gerald and Allan answered some questions for The Promoter about their experience. Here are their edited responses.

What is a typical day at the ACB Convention like?

Allan: A typical day may begin with a breakfast hosted by an ACB special interest affiliate or organization like the American Foundation for the Blind. Mornings are devoted to what’s called general sessions where the business of ACB is conducted. General sessions also include a plethora of other topics, such as the introduction of ACB’s scholarship winners, speakers from corporate Convention sponsors, and so much more.

Afternoons at the Convention offer a wide variety of choices of presentations by either ACB’s Special Interest Affiliates, the Committees of ACB, or exhibitors to speak about their products.

A big draw is the exhibit hall where vendors can show and demonstrate their products; the exhibit hall is open most afternoons. For many, the other big draw to ACB’s Conventions is the tours that are offered. Tours accommodate a wide variety of interests, such as local museums, a local pro baseball game, area wineries or breweries, and so much more. There are fees for tours, and the charge depends on the costs involved.

Evenings at ACB include a variety of entertainment choices such as comedy night, games like bingo, dances, mixers, receptions, and audio movies.

Tell us about some of the tours and sightseeing opportunities you participated in.

Gerald: For me and my granddaughter, we took in some tours and sightseeing. The first being the Holocaust Museum. There they had a hologram of a Holocaust survivor, and we were able to ask questions. The tour guide shared that her parents were Holocaust survivors, and she shared many personal stories of their time during the Holocaust. The second adventure we did was a wine tasting tour in Wisconsin, and everything tasted fantastic. The third and fourth adventure was the comedy night and the banquet at the hotel that was part of the convention. Oh, we forgot to mention our adventure to the casino! However, it was not that of a productive night, hence why it slipped my mind. 

What were some of the decisions up for vote this year?

Allan: This year it was to elect or reelect ACB’s officers which are President, 1st Vice President, 2nd Vice President, Secretary, and Treasurer. The Presidency of ACB had been temporarily filled since March by 1st Vice President Deb Cook Lewis who took on the Interim Presidency role in March when then-President Dan Spoone took on the job of ACB’S Interim Executive Director. These job assignments were done after then-ACB Executive Director Eric Bridges left in March to accept the job of Executive Director for the American Foundation for the Blind. Sounds like a case of musical chairs, doesn’t it?

The nominating committee offered the following slate of candidates for election: Deb Cook Lewis from Clarkston, WA, for President, David Trott from Talladega, AL, for 1st Vice President, Ray Campbell from Springfield, IL, for 2nd Vice President, Denise Colley from Richmond, TX, for Secretary, and Michael Garrett from Missouri City, TX, for Treasurer. All of these officer candidates are longtime veterans on ACB’s Board. All these candidates were unopposed and elected by acclimation.

A big part of business meetings at ACB’s Conventions is the adoption or rejection of resolutions and constitutional and bylaw amendments. This year, 14 proposed resolutions were put forth by the Resolutions Committee and 2 recommended amendments to the bylaws were put forth by the Constitution and Bylaws Committee. One of the 14 resolutions, which would establish a policy for members at-large, was successfully referred to the Membership Steering Committee. The other 13 resolutions were eventually adopted; in some cases, this was after much debate and revision. The debate on resolutions and by-law amendments was very lengthy, virtually over a 4-day span. Each of these meetings took at least 3 hours to complete. This is perhaps testimony to the democracy that exists within ACB, or could it be that some people just like to talk? Personally, I think likely it’s the latter case. Just kidding, sort of.

What is the voting process like?

Allan: Voting at ACB Conventions is a two-phase process. The first phase is an individual member vote of registered Convention attendees, and the second phase is a roll call of ACB’s affiliates. The total of this combined vote determines the outcome of an election. Affiliates are given 1 vote for each 25 of its members, so for example, an affiliate with 100 members would have 4 votes. Notably, this year NDAB had 7 votes to cast. Four of this year’s proposed resolutions ended up requiring a “record vote,” meaning that an individual member vote of those registered for the Convention plus a roll call vote of ACB’s affiliates was demanded by 25 or more who had voted on the losing side of the issue at hand.

What was the most meaningful outcome at ACB, in your opinion?

Allan: I believe that the most substantive of the resolutions that ACB adopted this year were: (1) to urge manufacturers to produce accessible medical and exercise equipment; (2) to reduce the cost of insulin for all who need this medication; (3) to amend the Older Americans Act to dedicate some of its funding for seniors with vision loss, (4) to increase funding for the Older Individuals who are Blind Program, and (5) to urge NLS to produce large print books and materials for people with low vision.

Why should someone attend the ACB Convention, if given the chance?

Gerald: My favorite part of the convention was meeting all the different people and hearing their stories. My granddaughter Shelby is already wanting to attend 2024 Convention in Jacksonville, FL, with me! I think someone should attend the convention because it’s very interesting to meet all the different people, and we all have the same thing in common: visual impairments. 

Allan: After I attended my first ACB Convention I knew I wanted to return due to the broad scope of what can be offered to anyone who has experienced the loss of eyesight. Literally and quite truthfully there is something there for anyone with sight loss. I do recommend that you carefully plan how to spend your time because there is so much that is offered.

Thank you, Gerald and Allan, for taking the time to share your experience with us, and for representing NDAB at the ACB Convention!

Caption: Gerald and Allan chatting at breakfast in the hotel one morning at the ACB Convention.

2023 Award Recipients at NDAB Convention

2023 Advocate of the Year Award – Missy Miller and Trampes Brown

A selection of the nomination letters are below.

Missy Miller

I am writing this letter to nominate Ms. Missy Miller for Advocate of the Year – 2023. I believe she is the most qualified member of the North Dakota Association of the Blind to receive this award.

As the lead for the Convention Planning Committee for the 2022 State Convention, she did not only make sure the organization and its members experienced an enjoyable and successful convention, she also made sure all the follow up and items needed to be attended to after the convention were completed properly and in a timely manner. She has a great ability to not only conduct events successfully, but does all that is needed to tie all the loose ends when the event is over. As the Camp Committee Chair, she demonstrates the qualities of a great leader by allowing all members of her committee to assume a role in carrying out the duties and goals of the committee, then allows them to carry out these tasks without micromanaging them or telling them the way things should be done. She gives direction when asked for direction, but allows people to do the work they are assigned to do. Missy listens to the concerns of her committee members, then works with the committee to come up with the best solution for the entire organization, not the best solution for herself and a few others.

Missy is constantly educating people she meets about the needs of people with vision loss. She strives to show the public and her fellow NDAB members the importance of living a life of independence. She is a true advocate for “See Blind Possible.”

If there was ever a leader who led with a positive, constructive, humble, productive, loving manner, it is our very own Missy Miller. Missy is so deserving of the Advocate of the Year Award. It is with great pride that I make this nomination.

Trampes Brown

I would like to nominate Trampes Brown to be considered to receive the NDAB Advocate of the Year Award.

We were first introduced to Trampes at the 2017 NDAB State Convention in Devils Lake. His leadership skills were quite apparent being nominated from the floor by the membership and elected as a board director. Eager to join the group, Trampes put in a bid to chair the 2019 Minot Convention and volunteered to be on the Constitution and Bylaws Committee. Trampes’s extensive knowledge of Parliamentary Procedure serves us well.

Zelda was looking for a way to reenergize the Sports and Recreation Committee back in 2017 and Trampes has been just the ticket!

He has immersed himself within advocating on behalf of people with sight loss on nearly a daily basis. As you can see, Trampes’s life exemplifies the positive effects that can be accomplished by one person.

2023 Robert “Bob” LePage Award –

Russell Doe – Reeder Lions Club

Nominated by Lion Sandi Clapper, Reeder Lions Club

Lion Russell Doe has been a member of the Reeder Lions Club for over 30 years and has served in several capacities within our group and also on the state level. He helps with our eyeglass collections and supports our White Cane Project and associated fundraising for Leader Dogs for the Blind.

Caption: Lion Russel Doe (left) accepts the Robert LePage Service Award from Reeder Lions President Ron Bugner (right).

2023 Ed Christianson Award – Susan Jorgenson

A person giving a presentation

Description automatically generated with low confidenceCaption: Susan Jorgenson (standing at podium) accepts the Ed Christanson Award from Paula Anundson (standing left).

Friend of NDAB Award – Tami Purcell

Caption: Tami Purcell stands next to Paul Olson as she accepts the award for the Friend of NDAB while standing behind the front table at the NDAB banquet.

Congratulations to NDAB’s 2023 Scholarship Recipients!

Karston Kellar from Mandan, ND, $2000 – NDAB Scholarship

Brian Bartholmy from Scranton, ND, $1000 – NDAB Scholarship

Cylee Walton from Cavalier, ND, $1000 – NDAB Scholarship

Tanner Werner from Breckenridge, MN, $1000 – Emma Skogen Scholarship

Landline: A New Bus Service Option from Fargo to Minneapolis

Submitted by Vince Ulstad

Landline, a bus service company, has recently begun service from Hector International Airport in Fargo to the two terminals at Minneapolis-St. Paul airport (MSP). The bus is direct down I-94 and takes about 4 hours. You do not need to be a ticketed passenger to use this service. Ticket prices vary based on how early you make reservations. The lowest cost from Fargo to MSP is $29. Currently, the service is available from Fargo to MSP on Thursday – Monday and from MSP to Fargo on Wednesday – Sunday. The phone number for Landline is 888-428-1149. So, if you need a ride to the metropolitan area of Minneapolis – St. Paul, have transportation options once you arrive, or have a need for transport from MSP to Fargo, consider this option. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions at 701-238-4251.

Important Sports and Recreation Committee Announcement

Submitted by Brant Adams

The Sports & Recreation Committee is pleased to announce we will once again be hosting our 5th annual retreat at Wesley Acres near Dazey, ND. The event will be held September 1st – 3rd starting at 3:00 p.m. on Friday the 1st and ending after lunch on Sunday the 3rd. This year’s event will be similar to the previous four years, with activities ranging from rock climbing to kayaking, as well as other blind sports.

Any individuals with sight loss ages 14 and up are welcome to register and attend (14 – 17-year-olds do require a chaperone.) The cost is free for participants with sight loss. A plus-one is welcome to attend with each participant for $75. This can be a parent, spouse, friend, child, etc. Please remember if you have been to the retreat before, you must be a member of NDAB to attend at no cost.

Wesley Acres’s COVID-19 policies will be adhered to for this event as well as NDAB Camp policies and guidelines.

The Sports & Recreation Committee is excited to welcome each and every one of you to attend this year’s retreat, as we promote exploring new activities and leading active lives.

We plan to have an application on directly after camp around August 15th. Email me at with any questions.

Learning Something New Feels Great – A Life Enrichment Report

by Zelda Gebhard

“It’s better to look back on life and say, “I can’t believe I did that.” than to look back and say: “I wish I did that.” – Unknown

With the above quote in mind, I applied, and received a NDAB Life Enrichment grant in February 2023. It has enabled me to pursue my lifelong goal of playing piano – something I never thought possible for many reasons including my vision loss, age, rural location, and the difficulty of finding a teacher equipped to teach me the nontraditional way of playing piano instead of reading music. The online piano lessons allow me to learn at home at a time convenient for me. This new activity has given me much enjoyment and balance and is truly enriching my life.

Thank you NDAB, for making this wonderful new opportunity possible.

For more details, please see my application below. 

NDAB Life Enrichment

Requested Application Information 

Date of application 1-27-23

Describe the opportunity

On-line piano lessons called Piano in a Flash by Scott “The Piano Guy” Houston. Scott is an American pianist, author, teacher, and television personality who hosted and co-produced the Public Television weekly series The Piano Guy which has been awarded eight Emmys. He developed a well-known nonclassical way of teaching music and has a long, successful history of teaching. 

The program includes:

  • Unlimited, lifetime access to the on-line video lessons that coordinate with the lesson books.
  • Six hardcover lesson books which are also available in electronic format.
  • Chord and keyboard chart
  • Access to Scott and his staff to ask questions

State why you are interested in this opportunity

I have enjoyed music all my life by singing in high school and as an adult in my church choir. I also played French horn from junior high band through college orchestra and still play it during NDAB Adult Summer Camp.

Despite the many opportunities I have had with music, there has always been something that eluded me – I never got a chance to learn how to play the piano!  As a child, I had six weeks of lessons and then my teacher moved away. We lived on a farm in rural southwestern ND and there wasn’t another teacher within a convenient driving distance so, that was an end to my piano lessons. The seed had been planted but didn’t get a chance to grow. After my experience, it was important to me that all four of our sons got the opportunity to take piano lessons. We made sacrifices and stretched the budget so this could happen.

A few years ago, I ran across Scott and his program and got excited and explored it. Even with my vision loss It seemed doable because he teaches “piano playing” and not “music reading.” In November 2022, I called and talked to a representative of Piano in a Flash who confirmed that their lessons are based on chords which are printed on a lead sheet. The chords are played with the left hand and the right hand gets to play the melody. Because of my experience singing and playing the French horn, I’m already familiar with the treble cleft notes and I’m also familiar with a lot of music theory.

Now that I began to believe this was a real possibility, I started to realistically consider my resources:

  • I am retired, so now have some time to pursue a new skill.
  • Though legally blind, I still have some vision and;
  • I have an iPad to watch the online video lessons at the piano and an Explorer 12-inch video magnifier on a stand that I can set on the piano also to view the lesson books.
  • And, yes, we still have the piano that our sons played on.

The only barrier remaining was the cost of the program.

That’s when it occurred to me that this opportunity might qualify for the Life Enrichment program. Now, this crazy idea of mine to learn to play the piano at the age of 65 seemed possible! 

Again, I searched the internet for Piano in a Flash and found they had a series of eight free introductory mini lessons. This was my opportunity to take the program for a test ride. I did, and it was fabulous! Within an hour I had learned to play the first part of Joy to the World. The melody was something I could have picked out on my own, but I also learned the C, F and G major chords and then put it all together. We then progressed from the 3 note chords to the 4 note chords, Scott called the C7, F7 and G7. When my husband got home from work, he was surprised and impressed with my progress and that felt great!

Before I enrolled in the program, I also attended a webinar where Scott explained the process and details of the program. By the time I work through all six of the lesson books and online videos, I will be able to play lots of songs including jazz and blues, interval training, transposing, jazz improv and more!

Advantages of this online program include: 

  • I don’t have to try to find a teacher who is willing and able to adapt their way of teaching to accommodate my vision loss and different abilities. 
  • I don’t have to worry about getting transportation to somewhere to meet with my teacher for an in-person lesson.
  • I can progress at my own speed and go back and relisten to the lesson videos any time that is convenient for me.
  • The total cost is much cheaper than traditional piano lessons where on top of the cost of the weekly lessons I would have to factor in transportation. 

Describe expected benefit to you and/or others

This program will enable me to use what vision I have, to accomplish my lifelong goal of playing the piano. It will help to give my life balance. I currently spend my days doing volunteer work for the North Dakota Association of the Blind, Council of Citizens with Low Vision International and American Council of the Blind. This is all very rewarding, and I treasure it. However, adding music, and especially music I create, will bring more balance and joy into my life. 

I want to be a good example to my family, prove we are never too old to learn something new and that we can overcome what might seem like overwhelming obstacles if we are patient, work hard and get creative. I would like to be able to sit down and play the birthday song for my 11 grandchildren.  

Where will the experience be held?

I will learn to play the piano in the comfort of my home.

When will it occur?

Since taking the free introductory lessons, I have played almost daily. I find that it relieves stress and gives me great pleasure even though I am not very good at it yet.  I plan to spend a portion of most every day playing music. 

How much will it cost? 

Total cost of the program is $695.00. I received 75% of that or $521.25. 

Have you explored other funding sources?

I know of no other funding source for an experience like this.

There are piano teachers who live in my community but none who teach this type of non-traditional way of playing music and not reading music. Even if I were to find a teacher willing to train me in this nonclassical way, they likely wouldn’t have comparable experience and I would have to pay a weekly fee, find, and buy or create my own materials and incur the expense and hassle of transportation.

Blind Piano Lessons is another place I have checked out. I attended a Zoom session with the instructor. He is a very experienced and successful teacher, but the cost of his lessons is more than double that of Piano in a Flash.

Development Report, NDAB Convention 2023

by Allan Peterson, NDAB Development Director

A very appreciative thank you to all who supported NDAB with your donations and or helped with our fund-raising activities in any way during the past year. We rely on and are very appreciative for your ongoing support – it’s absolutely vital to our operation as a financially independent non-profit organization.

FYI: Our NDAB reporting year begins on June 1 and ends on May 31 of the following year; Consequently, this past reporting year began last year on June 1, 2022 and ended this year on May 31, 2023.

Our fund-raising activities revolve around two main events – the NDAB Walk for Vision and our participation in Giving Hearts Day.

Our Walk for Vision event is held to coincide with White Cane Awareness Day, observed annually on October 15. Walk for Vision serves as our signature event and White Cane Awareness Day focuses on our advocacy to promote the safety and independence of people who rely on a white cane or guide dog as a mobility aid.

Walk for Vision in 2022 featured two events both were held on Friday October 14 one at NDVS/SB in Grand Forks and the second based at the NDSU Lutheran Center in Fargo.

A very special thank you to the Walk team at NDVS/SB that organized this event in Grand Forks – Cindy Williams, Emily Brown, Lilly Mankie, Ken Dockter, Karli Talley, and Tracy Wicken. And, a very appreciative thank you to those event participants at NDVS/SB that included area NDAB members, local Grand Forks Lion members, and students from the Delta Gamma Sorority at UND. A very appreciative Thank you too to our volunteers at the Walk for Vision event in Fargo which included our helpers from the NDSU Campus Lions Club and our ever-faithful NDAB workers Rebecca Anderson and Judy Peterson plus the Fargo area NDAB members and friends who joined us.

The publicity we receive by pairing Walk for Vision events with White Cane Safety Day is notable. We requested and received White Cane Safety Day proclamations from ND Governor Doug Burgum and from Fargo Mayor Tim Mahoney. Also, we garnered media coverage from KVRR TV in Fargo and an interview I had on WDAY Radio to promote our White Cane Day advocacy and our Walk fund-raising activities.

Our major fund-raising activity in terms of monies raised has evolved into participation in Giving Hearts Day (GHD) We, like any Giving Hearts Day participating organization are required to create a Match Fund in preparation for GHD. The purpose of the Fund is to “match” “on-line” donations made on Giving Hearts Day. All of the on-line donations are matched by the money that’s in this Fund. Any on-line donations that exceed money in the Match Fund are credited to the total monies raised under GHD rules. Monies in the Match Fund that are NOT matched cannot be credited toward the total which GHD considers for awards they grant for achieving various levels of fundraising success.

Our Giving Hearts Day Match Fund for the 2023 appeal was reported as $25,186. This was generated from 34 separate donors that included a few generous individual donors, 5 Lions clubs, businesses, and donations made by licensed charitable North Dakota gaming operators. To be clear the money in our Match Fund is not ever given to the administration of Giving hearts Day and is always in our possession. We must however report the existence of the Fund and who has made contributions to it. FYI: The information about Match Fund donors is kept confidential and is NOT shared with other organizations.

This year’s Giving Hearts Day was held on February 9, 2023. The theme we chose for our Giving Hearts Day participation for a second consecutive year was “See Blind Possible”.

We can unequivocally say there is a tremendous amount of work that is necessary to gear up and have a successful Giving Hearts Day outcome. Volunteers were acknowledged in the spring (May 2023) edition of the Promoter. I again want to emphasize just how crucial their work is for us to achieve our ongoing level of successes.

To better communicate with contacts in our data base leading up to Giving Hearts Day this year we instituted the use of an automated Email service known as Mail Chimp. A very appreciative Thank you to David Olson and Trampes Brown for their work to test out and set up this communications service for us. As a consequence, we were able to send 4 messages to contacts in our data base prior to Giving hearts Day. The service does allow us to monitor who actually opens these messages. Many thanks to Zelda and Michelle for using that information to help refine and update the validity of contacts in our data base.

Our fund-raising is broadly categorized into 5 separate income streams: (1) NDAB Walk-for-Vision, (2) Giving Hearts Day, (3) North Dakota Lions Clubs, (4) licensed charitable gaming operations, (and 5) designated donations (Note: memorials are excluded from this stream). For fiscal year 2022 – 2023 results for these five categories are (1) NDAB Walk-for-Vision = $10,155.04, (2) Giving Hearts Day = $18,702.93, (3) Donations (minus memorials) = $6,292.63, (4) Charitable gaming = $10,000, and (5) ND Lions clubs = $3,250. The income raised from these five funding streams totaled $48,400.

Note #1: The amounts in the separate streams are not duplicated, the amount in each category is what can legitimately be claimed for that funding stream.

Note #2: Walk for Vision and Giving Hearts Day donations include a number of contributions made by North Dakota Lions clubs. So, the amount reported separately in the Lions income category in no way accurately reflects the generosity of the ND Lions clubs.

Note #3: The category referred to as donations does include a number of gifts that were made to help create our Giving Hearts Match Fund.

Again we need to pause to thank and acknowledge all the successes that were achieved in connection with our fund-raising efforts, among them were the videos created to promote Giving Hearts Day, the work that has been done to expand and update our data base of donors, the letter writing editing and graphic design work, the work to maintain and update our web page and Facebook page, and all the contact calls that were made and followed up on. All of this boils down to hundreds of hours of volunteer work.

The total fund-raising expenses for the past fiscal year = $5,721.22. Fund raising expenses were offset by applying for and receiving two Thrivent action team grants that totaled $500. An appreciative Thank you to Thrivent Financial for granting this personal member benefit.

Total gross income for the past fiscal year = $58,430

Total expenses for fiscal 2021 – 2022 = $54,130 (Note: does not include expenses paid from Olga Neal’s bequest)

Net return (net income (profit) minus expenses) = $4,300

A very grateful and appreciative thank you to NDAB Treasurer Rebecca Anderson for her ongoing help in compiling the figures for this report. Her work is absolutely vital to the maintenance of the financial records for NDAB. Also thank you to her husband Greg Falde for helping out when another set of helping hands and eyes is needed.

Addendum income figures: Other income sources excluding fund-raising: Memorials = $800; NDAB Membership dues = $2,022; State Convention Income = $1,942; Sports & Recreation fees = $740; promotions (t-shirt sales = $120; interest income = $143; and Life Enrichment = $4,207. Note: We rounded the previous figures to the nearest number.

ACB Delegate Report from the 2022 American Council of the Blind Convention

by Allan Peterson, NDAB Delegate to the 2022 ACB Convention

A big shout out and very appreciative thank you to Zelda and Steven Gebhard for hauling me to Omaha for the 2022 ACB Convention. In so many ways this travel option helped me tremendously.

The driving distance between Edgeley ND and Omaha NE is approximately 450 miles. It’s the distance that Zelda walked by logging a few miles near her home almost every day in the months leading up to the Convention. This was done as a challenge she had given herself in connection with ACB’s “Get Up and Get Moving” campaign. The genesis for the Get Up and Get Moving campaign was in part due to the sedentary habits the pandemic had helped impose on our lifestyles. Fun fact: Zelda’s challenge caught the attention of others in the ACB community, and it helped lead others to take this challenge as well.

Our NDAB ACB 2022 Convention delegation included President Trampes Brown and wife Emily, Zelda and Steven Gebhard, and me. We were joined by NDAB members Brant and Tonya Adams, who were attending the Convention with Ohio’s ACB affiliate.

The 2022 ACB Convention was unique in that this was the first ever “hybrid” convention that ACB held which meant there was both an on-line virtual and an in-person option to attend the Convention. Notably, this was the first in-person convention held since the 2019 ACB Convention in Rochester and the first after the shutdown of public events due to the pandemic.

The decision to do a hybrid convention was a consequence of the pandemic which had forced ACB not to have an in-person convention in either 2020 or 2021. Fortunately, both Conventions were held virtually so participants could join the proceedings virtually using an on-line option or by making a phone line connection. This experience was extremely beneficial in that it led ACB leaders to realize this would be a valuable tool to communicate with ACB members and other interested parties throughout the year.

The in-person portion of the 2022 Convention was held at the Hilton Omaha Hotel and CHI Health Center. It began July 1 and ended on July 8. The theme for the Convention was Here, There, and Everywhere – meaning we had access to the Convention through multiple formats so we could, if we chose, join the proceedings anywhere virtually.

The 2022 conference and convention proceedings initially began virtually when President Dan Spoone called the 2022 ACB Convention to order on June 22 with presentation of the standing rules and the first affiliate credentials report. Many ACB special-interest affiliates held meetings or other virtual programming during the following three days. Many of these meetings can still be accessed in a podcast format.

A major function of ACB’s business meeting at the 2022 Convention was the election or reelection of 5 of the 10 members of ACB’S Board of Directors and the election of the 3 elected members of ACB’s Board of Publications. A Nominating Committee meets in advance of conducting elections to accept and vote on nominees that have indicated a willingness to serve in the various elected positions that are open. Of note, Zelda agreed to be a nominee for reelection to a second 2-year term on the ACB Board of Publications.

The opening in-person session of the 2022 Convention was called to order by President Dan Spoone in Omaha Saturday evening, July 2. Mark Bulger, President, ACB of Nebraska, welcomed everyone to Omaha. Opening session traditions include the president’s and executive director’s reports, awarding life memberships, recognizing DKM First Timers and JPMorgan Chase Leadership Fellows, and the evening concluded as usual with the roll call of ACB’s affiliates.

Sunday morning’s general session honored and recognized in-person the student scholarship winners from 2020 and 2021. Other Sunday activities: recognition of corporate and individual sponsors, and updates from Marc Workman, president of the World Blind Union (WBU), and Jason Broughton, director of the National Library Service for the Blind and Print Disabled (NLS). Sunday morning’s session concluded with nominations and speeches from members running for ACB’s board of directors. Three Board candidates, put forth by the Nominating Committee, were elected by acclimation and without opposition. They were Koni Sims from Sioux Falls, SD, Jeff Thom from Sacramento, CA, and Gabriel Lopez Kafati from Miami Lakes, FL. The candidacy of the fourth nominee Terry Pacheco from Silver Springs, MD, was challenged by the floor nomination of Cecily Laney Nipper from Covington, GA. The election for this position was done through a record vote which includes an individual vote of ACB members registered for the Convention using Vote Now services plus the session’s roll call vote of ACB’s affiliates on Tuesday. Outcome: Terry Pacheco was the winner of a closely contested race between her and Cecily.

Elections then concluded with the election, without opposition, of Rachel Schroeder from Springfield, IL, for the 5th and final open Board position. Then, in succession, Zelda was reelected without opposition to her 2nd term on the BOP, followed by the reelection without opposition of Penny Reeder from Montgomery Village, MD, and Cachet Wells from Jacksonville, FL, to the remaining elected positions on ACB’s Board of Publications.

Just a few general session highlights:

  • The presentation and introduction of the 2022 class of ACB – AFB, and Council of Low Vision International scholarship winners was made. A total of 19 student scholarships were awarded; together their value totaled over $92,000.
  • Convention Staff reports were given by members of ACB’s staff: Cindy Hollis, ACB’s Manager of Membership and Engagement, and Clark Rachfal, ACB’s Director of Advocacy, and Swatha Nandhakumar, Advocacy and Outreach Specialist, on the 2021 resolutions, and the 2022 legislative imperatives, and Janet Dickelman Convention Director reported on present and future ACB Conventions.
  • The keynote speaker at the 2022 Convention banquet was renowned disability advocate Judy Heumann who spoke about her life as a person with a disability and her life’s work as a leading advocate for all people with disabilities.

The 2022 ACB Convention considered 20 policy resolutions and 4 amendments to its Constitution and By-Laws. Each of the 20 resolutions engendered considerable time and debate on the last day of the Convention’s general session and the again on the Zoom sessions held virtually on Monday July 11.

A brief synopsis of the resolutions:

  • Two of the 20 resolutions failed to be adopted and one was referred back to the ACB Board.

Those resolutions that were adopted included:

  • Three resolutions dealt with the provision of braille, one asked that braille be included on consumer products, a second asked that braille be included on personal care products, like shampoos, at ACB’s Conventions, and a third asked that the braille format be offered for all 12 monthly editions of the ACB Braille Forum.
  • Three resolutions dealt with provision of audio description: one asked that audio description be available with the YouTube app, a second asked that live audio description be offered instead of synthetic, prerecorded AD, and the third asked that audio description be made available, unless unduly burdensome, at all live theater performances.
  • Two resolutions adopted were directed to NLS for the Blind and Print Disabled. One dealt with the provision of text copies of audio materials for those who are deaf and blind and the second requested that the availability of large print copies for talking book topics be reinstated.
  • A resolution asked the Aging and Vision Loss National Coalition to undertake a study to determine if provision of vision rehabilitation services could significantly reduce the number of people with visual impairments who are forced to live in institutional settings like nursing homes.
  • A resolution directed ACB and collaborators to urge the U.S. Dept. of Education to update its outdated 22-year-old policy on the education of children with blindness and visual impairments.
  • A resolution asked for support for a bill in Congress to cap the cost of insulin for anyone who needs it.
  • A resolution asked ACB to explore whether Medicare advantage plans would support the purchase of magnification devices like CCTV’s and explore legal remedies for CMS’s continued refusal to provide this equipment to people with low vision under Medicare.
  • A resolution asked the ACB Board to develop a plan to advocate for the housing needs of people who are blind and visually impaired and asked ACB affiliates to do so too.
  • A resolution requested that the ACB Board be more diligent about reporting on its work and progress on the resolutions that have been adopted.

The 2022 Convention concluded on the evening of July 13 with the required record vote on 3 resolutions and the 4 amendments to the Constitution and By-laws. Those election outcomes?

  • The resolution to have the word braille capitalized whenever it appears in print failed to be adopted.
  • The resolution to establish a dialogue with the Amazon Disability Service Center on how to provide verbal product descriptions to people with visual impairments was adopted.
  • The resolution to collaborate with other disability organizations to develop a plan to continue to honor the agreements won through structured negotiations and court rulings beyond their expiration date was adopted.
  • The Constitutional amendment to use electronic communication to notify members of the Executive Committee about meetings was adopted.
  • The Constitutional amendment to notify Board members about Special Board meetings and to reduce the time before these meetings could be held from 14 to 7 days was adopted.
  • The By-Law amendment, that required that resolutions be submitted at least 60 days in advance of the opening date of the ACB Convention and that a notice of this deadline be published in the Braille Forum 120 days prior to the Convention was adopted.
  • The third 2022 Constitutional amendment would have altered the composition of ACB’s ten-member Board of Directors. An attempt to do this was tried previously at ACB’s Conventions in 2015 and also in 2018; those attempts failed. If this amendment passed, it would have allowed two members from any of ACB’s state affiliates to serve as members on ACB’s 10-member Board of Directors at the same time. This would have replaced the present Constitutional stipulation that only one member from any one state affiliate could serve at the same time. A Constitutional amendment requires a two-thirds vote to pass; this amendment failed to be adopted this time by just 2/3 percentage points of the total vote. Personally, I feel that the one Board member per state affiliate should continue to be honored because it’s more equitable and democratic but am guessing it’s likely that those who are seeking this change won’t give up.

Communication Connections



Communication submissions:

Address: NDAB, PO Box 824, West Fargo, ND 58078

All members are encouraged to submit items of interest to the editor at for publication. Deadline is the 10th of the month prior to quarterly publications of February, May, August, and November.

NDAB is a nonprofit organization which promotes the interest of ND residents who are blind and visually impaired. As a nonprofit organization, we welcome donations to help in advancing the cause of persons who are blind and visually impaired. For more information about NDAB, visit