The Promoter – August 2016

Official Publication of the North Dakota Association of the Blind
Available in four formats: large print, e-mail, braille and cartridge
Editor: Kathy Larson

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

“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.”

Table of Contents

Greetings from the President

Happy 80th NDAB!

Yes, it was 80 years ago that a group of individuals got together and started The North Dakota Association of the Blind. I am very grateful they did! They had the wisdom to know, as Helen Keller once said, “Alone we can do so little, but together we can do so much.”

What does NDAB mean to you? NDAB has been an important part of my life for the past 13 years. My journey started, as many of yours has, with someone telling me about NDAB. I believe the conversation went something like this, “You have got to come to camp!” It was Nara Murphy, a fellow member of the State Rehabilitation Council, who noticed my vision loss and knew I would benefit by attending camp. Summer Camp is right around the corner. Do you know someone who needs a little encouragement and training topped off with a bunch of fun?

Of course, I had a great time and was hooked. Since then I haven’t missed a year of camp with the exception of the year my son, Alan, got married in August. This year will be my seventh year of sharing my love of baking bread by teaching Bread Basics class.

Membership is full of opportunities! Since becoming a member at camp, I have had the privilege of serving as the Promoter editor for five years and then the vice president and membership chairperson for the past four years.

When I was a child my parents, like other parents at the time, were not overly concerned about their children’s self-esteem. They were more concerned about obedience. Somehow, though they convinced me that I could do anything I set my mind on and was willing to work for. The idea that if you saw something that needed doing, you should “just do it” prevailed at our house.

With that in mind it wasn’t at all unusual that having seen the need for more vision services, I said “yes” when asked to be an advocate at the state and national levels by being co-legislative liaison with Allan Peterson. It was completely out of my comfort zone and the first time I testified before the ND Senate Appropriations Committee I truly thought I was going to die. Of course, I didn’t and each time it gets a little easier.

The world doesn’t expect much from those of us who have lost our vision. They tend to look at our disability and overlook our abilities. In NDAB, I have found acceptance and encouragement. Your confidence in me and willingness to trust me to do new things have given me back confidence I had lost in myself.

I challenge you to “try on” some new positions and learn some new skills. I say this not only to prepare you to say “yes, I will” when I or someone else in the organization calls on you to do a task. I am saying from my personal experience that you never know what you can do until you try. Take hold of the opportunities for personal growth that abound in NDAB. The membership is the most kind, appreciative and encouraging group of people you will ever meet.

Thank you to Michelle Zentz, Janelle Olson and Char Feldman for their dedicated service to this organization by serving on the board. Janelle just finished a 3-year term as a director. Char graciously stepped in and completed the last year of an unexpired term as secretary. After being president for two 2-year terms and another four years as past president, Michelle has spent the last eight years on the board! Thanks to all three for your commitment and hard work!

I am happy to be able to work alongside the excellent team of leaders you elected to serve on the executive board. Welcome to the newly elected V.P. – Mary Lou Stip, Director – Robert Hart and Secretary – Gretchen Campbell. Congratulations on your re-election to Treasurer – Helen Baumgartner, and Editor – Kathy Larson. Mark Kueffler has moved to the role of Past President and Allan Peterson has the same responsibilities but a different title as he was elected Development Director. Directors Carol Schmitt and Sherry Shirek complete our board. I am so very thankful to all of them for their willingness to share their time and talents with all of us.

I thank you for believing in me and trusting me to be your president. I will do all I can to live up to your confidence. Please be patient with me as I, once again, find myself out of my comfort zone. There is much for me to learn.

Remember, “Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much!”

Zelda Gebhard

In this issue:

  • Make sure to read about the “Dining in the Dark” Project. We are very excited to partner with the Minot Lions to host this event. It helps us work towards fulfilling two of the purposes from our Constitution: C. To promote public understanding of vision loss and of the capabilities of persons who are blind or visually impaired; and D. To work with organizations and agencies in the interests of individuals who are blind or visually impaired.
  • Also, check out the resolution: Promoting Membership Advocacy that we adopted at the state convention. Who knows, you may get the urge to attend the Legislative Training in late August hosted by the North Dakota Disability Advocacy Consortium (NDDAC) in Bismarck.

Note from the Editor

First of all, I say “thanks” to those of you who came to Williston to attend our annual state convention, and “thanks” to the Williston NDAB members and friends who hosted the event and did all the work. I heard it was a success. Stan and I were sorry to have missed it, but we enjoyed the beautiful wedding of our nephew and new niece in St. Paul along with all of Stan’s siblings. It is wonderful when a family can get together for a happy occasion.

I can hardly believe that I am starting my ftfth year as NDAB Promoter Editor. Thanks again for electing me; I enjoy the work.

This is the 3rd issue discussing the possibility of printing fewer copies of the Promoter. If you currently receive a braille copy of the Promoter, you will continue to receive this from Grand Forks. If you have been receiving the Promoter on cartridge or have recently requested a change from print to cartridge, you will still get the Promoter in this format from the ND State Library. For those of you receiving the newsletter in print and do not have an email address, you will continue to receive a print copy from me. According to the membership list that I have, there are still some members who have email addresses and originally requested the Promoter in print format. Thanks to those of you who have contacted me, but for those who have not, just so you know why, you may be receiving the Promoter in a different format than what you requested on your membership form.

Thanks to Denise Kirsch for sending these in:
“Friendship doesn’t exist to criticize. Its function is to inspire confidence.” ~Jean ~Paul Sartre
“We judge ourselves by what we feel we are capable of doing. Others judge us by what we have done.” ~Henry Longfellow

Loris Van Berkom shares these:
“There is no doubt that being blind has huge challenges but we do have control over how we choose to think about our circumstances.” ~Mel Scott

“To the world you may be one person; but to one person you may be the world.” ~Dr. Seuss

Stan Larson submitted the following:
“You cannot bring about prosperity by discouraging thrift. You cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong. You cannot help little men by tearing down big men. You cannot lift the wage earner by pulling down the wage payer. You cannot help the poor by destroying the rich. You cannot establish sound security on borrowed money. You cannot further the brotherhood of man by inciting class hatred. You cannot keep out of trouble by spending more than you earn. You cannot build character and courage by destroying men’s initiative and independence. And you cannot help men permanently by doing for them what they can and should do for themselves.” ~William J. H. Boetcker

Helen Baumgartner sent these:
“What you are is God’s gift to you, what you become is your gift to God.” ~Han Urs von Balthasar

“The will must be stronger than the skill.” ~Muhammed Ali

I like these:
“The opportunities of today will be nothing but a memory tomorrow.” ~Karen Kingsbury

“Kindness is the language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see.”
~Mark Twain

Send me your favorite quotes to or mail it to: 15225 59th St NW, Williston ND 58801-9560. Phone 701-875-4291.

Kathy Larson, Promoter Editor

Welcome New Members

We wish to welcome the following people to our NDAB membership:

  • Ruby Woodland of Festus, MO
  • Rebecca Schmaltz of Minot, ND
  • Amanda Fahlstrom of Moorhead, MN
  • Elaine Legg or Grand Forks, ND
  • Andrew McCloud of Grand Forks, ND

Thank You!

Surprise! I’ll bet you didn’t think you would hear from me, did you? Well, I just wanted to say thank you to everyone. I could write a book on how grateful I am for all of you, really I could. NDAB has been a life saver for me and that is why I am so passionate about what we do and my ongoing efforts to “Create the Future Today, Together” was/is so important to me, because really, it is all about the future. But, as I said this is about saying “Thank You.” If it was up to me, I would shake everyone’s hand and give them a big hug, but that is not possible, so I would like to express my sincere gratitude and thankfulness for all of you, our members. Without you we do not exist; you are all phenomenal people and you proved that at this year’s state convention. Wow! We got through 26 Constitutional & By-law amendments; that is incredible, and admittedly I didn’t think it was possible. Again, you are all phenomenal people. Thank you for making my job easier. Thank you to the Williston group: Loris, Janelle, Kathy, Carol, Brenda, and anyone else I missed. I must say that from the moment I entered the hotel to leaving the hotel everything was perfect! The hotel, the rooms and especially the staff were incredible. Thank you all very much for a job well done. Thank you to all of those that make the convention happen, the board, the mike runners (Rick & Steve), the Sgt of Arms (Tom & Mike), the ballot counters, the parliamentarian (Denise Irminger), the door prize committee, the Lions, Ruth, our guest speakers, the City of Williston, everyone; really, the convention was absolutely fantastic! Thank you. Thank you to my wife Shannah for supporting me during my presidency, and thank the Lord for His guidance during this time.

God bless, and be well my friends
Mark Kueffler, Past President

Members of Our NDAB Family

Submitted by Kathy Larson

It was not until the May issue of the Promoter was returned to me that I learned that NDAB member Kelvin W Hiller, 52 of Grand Forks, had passed away March 12, 2016 at Altru Hospital in Grand Forks. Kelvin enjoyed, hunting, trapping, fishing, camping, Sioux Hockey games, going out to eat with friends and family, collecting coins and movies, road trips, motorcycles, the family dog, “Bingo” and studying the Bible. He worked hard helping many people at a moment’s notice with odd jobs, custom baling with his favorite old trucks and tractors, horseback riding, and making people laugh. His three daughters were the love and light of his life; he would do anything for them, his mom and brothers. He will be greatly missed.

We extend our deepest sympathy to Mark Ketterling of Jamestown and Todd Fahlstrom of Moorhead on the death of their mother and grandmother Esther Ketterling. She passed away early Friday morning May 13, 2016 in Essentia Health in Fargo. She and Albert Ketterling were married September 21, 1950 at Ellendale, ND. They made their home in Jamestown where she worked at the Jamestown Hospital for 39 years. She also worked at the Jamestown High School cafeteria for a number of years. She was a member of the church of the Nazarene in Jamestown. She is survived by her five children, eight grandchildren, sixteen great grandchildren, four great great grandchildren, two brothers, three sisters and a sister-in-law.

Longtime NDAB member Deloris Stenvold died peacefully on Saturday, May 28, 2016 in her home in Minot with her daughters at her side. Deloris was employed at Woolworth’s Department Store, Kresge Variety Store, ABC and Gimse Cleaners, Spain’s Produce, Elks Lodge in Minot for 22 years as a telephone and door monitor and at the Embassy as a coat check person. Deloris married Joseph Stenvold on October 7, 1942. Together they raised six children. Joe died on October 3, 1985. Deloris was a longtime member of Zion Lutheran Church, an active member and social director of the Thor Lodge Sons of Norway, a member of the Women of the Moose, and at one time a very active member in NDAB. When Deloris was 30 years old, she became visually impaired and after several surgeries in NY City, she lost one eye in 1960. In 1992 at the University of Minnesota, she received a cornea transplant and cataract implant in her right eye and was blessed with sight again at age 65. I first met Deloris in 1985 when Stan and I attended the NDAB Family Adjustment Seminar held in Dickinson that year. Deloris was one of the staff members; she instantly became a lifelong friend.

Those of you who attend NDAB Summer Camp know Randy Tank from Bismarck who helps with our Saturday night auction every year. His wife LaVonne passed away June 6, 2016, at CHI St. Alexius Health. LaVonne obtained her nursing degree in 1976 from NDSCS in Wahpeton. She then worked as a LPN at St. Alexius in Bismarck and also in Breckenridge, MN. LaVonne and Randal Tank were married on June 6, 1981 in Bismarck. She loved working with plants in the last few years, especially orchids. She was active in the Blind Group YVIP in Bismarck and coordinated monthly events. LaVonne is survived by her husband of 35 years, Randy of Bismarck, her mother, two brothers and numerous nieces, nephews, and many friends.

We extend sympathy to Kathryn Schmidt of West Fargo on the death of her mother-in-law Verla Schmidt of Fargo, formerly of Pettibone. She passed away June 8, 2016 at Bethany Retirement Living in Fargo. Verla enjoyed gardening, flowers, sewing, quilting, playing piano and truly loved spending time with her grandchildren. She was active in Our Saviors Lutheran Church and Homemakers Club in Pettibone.

It’s Almost Time!

Submitted by Loris Van Berkom & Rick Feldman

It’s almost time to pack your bags to attend the 46th annual NDAB Summer Camp August 7-14 at the Elks Camp Grassick. The camp packets were sent out June 23rd and the camp schedules will be in your mailboxes before the End of July. We hope to see many of you there. If you miss the fun, you can read about it in the November Promoter.

High Volume Talking Book Player and Headphones

The National Library Service (NLS) has developed a high-volume version of the digital talking book player for use by patrons who experience a significant hearing loss.

The player has been programmed to have an amplified volume up to 120 dB. The high-volume feature only works when using the high-volume player and specialized NLS-supplied stereo headphones. This new player and headphones replace the amplifier/headset accessory currently in use. Patrons will need to return their current digital player and headset after receipt of the new player and headphones. A return label will be included with the high-volume player.

To apply for the high volume talking book player and headphones, please contact the ND State Library in Bismarck at 1-800-843-9948, or Elaine Legg at the ND Vision Services/School for the Blind, 1-800-421-1181 or (701) 795-2711. The application which will be submitted to NLS must include certification of hearing impairment by a physician or audiologist, and the application must also be signed by the certifying medical personnel.

What Happened to Family Adjustment Seminar?

By Janelle Olson, Chairperson

For many years, this event has been a staple of our organization. As it has been discussed previously, in recent years, getting people to attend has been difficult at best and so, it was given a rest in hopes a new vision, no pun intended, would come to light…and…it has! This “new light” is called “Dining in the Dark!”

NDAB was approached by a Lions club in Minot asking if we would be interested in partnering with them to have a Dining in the Dark event. This event brings in the public for a delicious meal in a local restaurant where, for that one meal, “they” have a taste of a simulated, first hand experience of eating the meal in darkness.

The event is scheduled to take place in Minot on Thursday, October 13th. NDAB Members will be the staff who dine with the participants, guiding them through the meal and answering questions about living with sight loss.

Stay tuned. I think this project is very exciting and we will see where it goes.

Donations and Memorials

NDAB has received the following Donations and Memorials since our last Promoter:

Fargo Gateway Lions $250.00
Kathy and Stan Larson and Loris Van Berkom in memory of Deloris Stenvold $20.00
Total Donations and Memorials $270.00

Helen Baumgartner, NDAB Treasurer

Black Hills Regional Ski for Light

Black Hills Regional Ski for Light has boating, fishing, fun in the sun, campfires and SFL camaraderie at Camp Bob Marshall in Custer, South Dakota. The dates are August 19 – 21, 2016. For additional information about each of these programs please visit the Regional Round-Up page on the SFL website.

Finding Their Way – Blind Students Navigate College Life

Sight provides more than just a view of the concrete objects around you. It provides context, non-verbal social cues, visual stimuli, friendly smile, an open chair in the cafeteria, the beginning of an argument. Sight is also the primary sense used in a traditional academic environment – check the notes, study the charts, read the textbook, watch the video.

BSC sophomores Cole Roberts and James Yesel, both legally blind, have mastered their college experience without access to those visual cues. These students have an impressive ability to problem solve and get what they need from their environments. Both excel at finding workarounds for challenges, advocating for their specific needs and advancing toward their goals.

Read the whole article at:

Free Access to Digital Accessibility Courses for People with Disabilities on Deque University

Original at

May 19, 2016 – Herndon, VA — In honor of Global Accessibility Awareness Day 2016, Deque Systems will now be offering their entire curriculum of Deque University online courses in web and digital accessibility to people with disabilities for free.

Employment for people with disabilities is often a difficult endeavor. They face discrimination during the hiring process and barriers to employment all along the way, including barriers to acquiring the skills necessary for employment.

Meanwhile, the demand for accessibility professionals is greater than it has ever been, and people with disabilities have a lot to offer in this field. They live the experience, so in many ways they’re already experts, but there are still technical skills to learn.

Deque’s mission is to help achieve digital equality for people with disabilities and hopes that making this new initiative will empower users with disabilities to become the experts that will teach businesses and governments and everyone else who shares the web how to be accessible.

If you have a disability, you qualify for free access to Deque’s in-depth web accessibility curriculum for a full year (a value of $315).

The online courses offered include:

  • Web Accessibility Fundamentals
  • HTML & CSS Accessibility
  • ARIA & JavaScript Accessibility
  • Mobile Web Accessibility
  • IAAP CPACC Certification Preparation Course
  • Web Accessibility Testing Techniques
  • Testing with Screen Readers
  • MS Word Accessibility
  • MS PowerPoint Accessibility
  • PDF Accessibility
  • InDesign Accessibility
  • EPUB Accessibility

And more.

The full details of the offer and the registration are available at

Thai University Creates Cheap, Touchable Ink for the Blind

Researchers at Thammasat University in Thailand have created something called Touchable Ink that will potentially make it a lot cheaper for the blind to read, writes Aloysius Low for CNET.

Read the whole article at

Amy Bower was devastated after being declared legally blind in the 1990s. Then she decided to become an oceanographer anyway

Some scientists like to follow up on other people’s research, going back to where discoveries were first made to see what else there is to learn. Then there are scientists like Amy Bower, J81. “I like to explore areas that are not very well known at all,” said Bower, who studies ocean currents that are 6,000 feet deep in the ocean. “The currents I typically focus on are not even measurable on the sea surface.”

Read the whole article at

New Category on Apple’s Online Store Targets Individuals with Impairments

People with disabilities can now find special equipment to suit their needs under the newly launched “Accessibility” section in Apple’s online store.

Read the whole article at

Museum Accessibility for the Blind

Luc was only 7 years old when his world went dark and he became blind unexpectedly. But as he likes to say, blindness isn’t very effective on him.

Even with his can-do attitude, the 13-year-old recalls feeling excluded when he visited a museum exhibition with his family in Victoria, British Columbia. It offered no Braille for the blind to use in its museum experience, so his mother read information from the placards to him. Beyond that and a few audio buttons, the rest of the exhibit involved paintings and items encased in glass, with no way for him to learn more about them.

Read the full article at

LePage Award Presented at Convention

On June 11, 2016, Lion Leon Comeau of the South Forks Lions Club was presented with the Robert John LePage Service Award. Lion Leon received the award during the banquet of the annual state convention of the North Dakota Association of the Blind at the Home Place Lodge and Suites in Williston, ND. Committee member Shereen Faber presented the award to Mr. Comeau.

In his nomination letter, Club President Ross Jorgensen stated that Lion Leon “has been the driving force behind the tremendously successful Christmas in the Park since 2002…No one has given as much time, physical effort and personal resources to make this annually anticipated event as much fun and successful than Leon Comeau.” According to Jorgensen, Lion Comeau has also played a vital part in the establishment and on-going success of the St. Joseph’s Social Care and Thrift Store in Grand Forks. He has donated countless hours and resources to keep the buildings in good repair. Jorgensen further states, “I’m thinking most of his fellow Lions are unaware of the major role Lion Leon has played in making our town a better community.”

The Robert John LePage Service Award is presented annually to a North Dakota Lion who exemplifies the type of quiet, unheralded service that Bob LePage gave to people with vision loss in the state. LePage, a long-time member of the Gateway Lions in Fargo, ND, was known in the Fargo area for providing help and service to all who needed it, in particular those with sight loss. In his honor this award was established in 2009.

Lion Leon was presented with a plaque which reads: “With thanks and appreciation for your ‘vision’ and dedication to people with sight loss in North Dakota,” followed by the motto of the ND Association of the Blind: “Not they who lack sight, but they who lack vision are blind.”

Congratulations to Lion Leon J. Comeau for this very well-deserved award!

The 2016 Edwin Christensen Award Recipient

It was with honor that the 2016 Edwin Christensen Award was presented to Michelle Zentz at the banquet held on Saturday, June 11 at the NDAB Convention in Williston at the Home Place Lodge and Suites. This award is given to an active NDAB member and is primarily based upon their dedicated service to NDAB.

Michelle has served as the NDAB president for two terms and has also served as a NDAB board director. She has been involved in the Family Adjustment Seminar, taken part in ACB conventions, attended Ski for Light, and has been an instructor at the NDAB Summer Camp several years.

Without thought of personal time or convenience, Michelle has also put a lot of time and effort into behind the scenes help. She was instrumental in team work which resulted in developing the strategic plan and in establishing the NDAB manual guidelines. She also participated in teamwork resulting in developing the new Award winning NDAB brochure. She has also helped with the revision of The Source of Services Brochure, the “What Can I Do to Help” brochure, the Thank You card and Sympathy cards, and the NDAB Stationary. She was instrumental in finding and inviting a financial advisor to a NDAB board meeting via a phone conference, which enabled the NDAB Board to make informative decisions regarding NDAB investments.

The Ed Christensen Award is just one way in which NDAB would like to thank Michelle for all the ways she has supported and promoted NDAB over the past 19 years. Congratulations Michelle!

Legislative Report Summer 2016

By Allan Peterson

On Sunday afternoon, July 10th, I returned home from the 2016 Conference and Convention of the American Council of the Blind (ACB). This year’s ACB Convention was held at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in downtown Minneapolis, Minnesota. Convention activities began Friday, July 1st and ended Saturday, July 9th. It’s my fervid belief that ACB’s Conventions serve a number of vital and important purposes, among them is to help educate and motivate our members about the advocacy goals that ACB is working to advance and promote. Most importantly, at a higher scale, whenever ACB’s advocacy goals are finally achieved, they do much to help advance the independence and access to the built environment for anyone who is blind or has a visual impairment.

A total of 23 substantive resolutions were presented to this year’s audience. Among them were two resolutions that were very similar to those that were adopted by our own recent 2016 Convention of the North Dakota Association of the Blind. These resolutions are namely: NDAB Resolution 2016-03 – Making the Internet Accessible for all and NDAB Resolution 2016-04 – Promoting Membership Advocacy. The reason that these two ACB resolutions bear a resemblance to NDAB’s resolutions on these topics is due to the fact that these resolutions were shared with the ACB Resolutions Committee so that they might also be considered for adoption by the 2016 ACB Convention audience.

All 23 resolutions that were adopted by this year’s 2016 ACB Convention will help guide ACB’s advocacy efforts by the national office in Alexandria, Virginia, during the coming year. Fittingly, the national office is close to Capitol Hill and the U.S. Congress. This year’s set of resolutions can be viewed by going online and searching for them on the ACB web site,

During one of the general Convention sessions, Anthony “Tony” Stephens, who is now the ACB Director of Advocacy and Governmental Affairs, gave the convention audience a very passionate and eloquent speech about the present status of ACB’s legislative priorities and the real need for advocacy by ACB’s members. It’s Tony’s opinion, that although Congress is currently in a gridlock and seemingly isn’t able to get anything accomplished, this situation cannot continue indefinitely for two principle reasons. One is that this fall’s election will likely significantly change the composition of who is to be members of Congress, and second is that given results of the nations state primary elections, the electorate doesn’t seem to be in the mood to tolerate a “do nothing Congress” during this coming congressional session that will begin its work in January of 2017.

Although we are almost guaranteed to have a “do nothing Congress” during the remainder of the current 114th congressional session, Tony Stephens was optimistic that getting some action on ACB’s Current top policy priorities could be accomplished during the coming 115th congressional session. As a reminder, one of the priorities is H.R. 729, Medicare Demonstration of Coverage for Low Vision Devices Act of 2015. This bill, when enacted, would provide funding for a 5-year study to determine the feasibility of expanding Medicare coverage to include payment for accessible low vision devices for qualified Medicare beneficiaries. The second is H.R. 3535, The Alice Cogswell, Anne Sullivan Macy Act. This bill is heralded by proponents as being the most comprehensive piece of legislation that seeks to reform and enhance America’s special education system for students with vision loss and/or hearing loss, since IDEA was enacted 41 years ago in 1975.

A third current ACB policy priority is to urge the U.S. Senate to ratify the Marrakesh Treaty! ACB was involved in establishment of this Treaty in 2013 – Melanie Brunson, who was ACB’s Executive Director at the time, represented ACB’s interests at the WIPO diplomatic gathering that wrote the parameters of the treaty in Marrakesh, Morocco in 2013.

The Marrakesh treaty recently reached the magic number for it to become an official international treaty – this came about by its recent ratification by Canada which was the 20th country to ratify the treaty. The Treaty allows for informational materials that are produced in an accessible format, to cross the international boundaries of those nations who choose to ratify the conditions of the treaty.

However, even though the Marrakesh Treaty has achieved its official international status as a bona fide Treaty, The U.S. Senate will need to ratify this treaty before our nation will be able to participate in its implementation. Consequently, we will need to continue to encourage Senators Hoeven and Heitkamp to vote for its ratification whenever it reaches the floor for a vote in the U.S. Senate – when that might happen is anyone’s guess. A few months ago, the Obama administration did send the Treaty to the Senate for its consideration and possible ratification.

Whatever the case may be on a worldwide scale, the official acknowledgement of this Treaty as a legitimate agreement is an extremely important worldwide development in regard to printed word access for persons who are blind and visually impaired.

Copies of all four of our NDAB resolutions that were adopted at our 2016 Convention are included in this issue of the Promoter. The first two resolutions, NDAB Resolution 2016-01: The Biennial Appropriation for North Dakota Vision Services / School for the Blind (NDVS/SB) and NDAB Resolution 2016-02: State Public Transit Appropriation for the 2017 – 2019 biennium, are very similar to those that we adopted at our 2014 NDAB Convention held in Fargo; the reason for the similarity is due to the fact that these are issues that are key to our independence, and because they each deal with state appropriated money, they are addressed at each and every session of the Legislature. So, at each session of the Legislature, it is necessary for us to make the case for why these services are so very important to us.

By the time the next issue of the Promoter is published, we will be very close to the end of this fall’s election campaign season. So, I would challenge you to become acquainted with the candidates who are seeking office in your State Legislative District. And, if you have the opportunity, ask them how much they know about services for people who are blind and visually impaired. You may likely be the expert and can tell them a thing or two about your experience with vision loss services in North Dakota!

Note: In this fall’s general election, only half of the State Legislative Districts actually have a race for a position in the Legislature – it is the even numbered districts that have an election for State Senate and House this time. In two years, it will be the odd numbered districts turn to have their races for offices in the State Legislature.

As many you may already be aware, my name is on the ballot in this fall’s general election in my home district for a seat in the North Dakota House of Representatives. Please realize that it is my pledge to you that I will not, under any circumstances, introduce any form of partisan politics into what I do or say on behalf of NDAB. My motivation to seek this office is NOT at all about me, but is based upon a belief that the best way to influence and have a voice in how decisions are made is to actually have a seat at the table. Perhaps, you might want to wish me luck?

Briefly some highlights from the just completed 2016 ACB Convention:

Elections for five positions on the ACB Board of Directors were held – there were two open seats because two incumbents on the board had termed out of office. The three board incumbents who could seek a second Board term were reelected into their positions. They are Jeff Bishop from Arizona, Sara Conrad from Wisconsin and Dan Spoone from Florida. Dan Dillon from Tennessee and Denise Colley from Washington State were the candidates who were elected into the two open board positions.

It is very impressive to witness the working relationships that, ACB Executive Director Eric Bridges, together with others in the ACB leadership team have established with many of the tech giants. That list includes Microsoft, Google, Apple, etc. Because of these relationships, they not only seem to be listening to our concerns about accessibility to their products but are doing something about it! Many of these companies were also major sponsors to help underwrite the costs of the 2016 ACB Convention.

NDAB Resolution 2016-01: The Biennial Appropriation for North Dakota Vision Services / School for the Blind (NDVS/SB)

Whereas, an independent demographic study did project that by 2015 there would be a minimum of 14,335 citizens of the state who would have experienced medical conditions that will have resulted in a significant loss of their sight, of this number 10,283 would have fit the definition of persons with “low vision” and the remaining number in excess of 4,000 would have fit the definition of persons that are “legally blind”; and,

Whereas, the loss of eyesight is a major life-altering disability that requires specialized and specific rehabilitation skills training to help people of any age cope with this condition; and,

Whereas, North Dakota Vision Services / School for the Blind in Grand Forks has all the components of a comprehensive center-based program, is recognized regionally and nationally as a program that is of excellence and high quality which has the capability and capacity that allows it to serve people of all ages (i.e. it has both children and adult oriented training programs); and,

Whereas, children and adults with sight loss, who receive a regimen of specific, comprehensive, intensive center-based blindness skills training, such as that which is available at NDVS/SB, are employable and are capable of functioning with a high degree of independence; and,

Whereas, during the 2015-2017 biennium NDVS/SB had to reduce its budget by 4.05% as requested by the Governor which was accomplished through temporarily not filling 1.5 positions and delaying many necessary expenditures, the primary impact of these reductions has been the inability to place a certified mobility specialist in western North Dakota as had been planned during this biennium,

Now, therefore, be it resolved by the North Dakota Association of the Blind in convention assembled at the Home Place Lodge and Suites in Williston, ND on this date of Saturday, June 11th, 2016 that we strongly urge the Governor, in his budget that’s presented to the Legislature, and that the 65th North Dakota Legislative Assembly that will convene in January of 2017, would maintain and increase the appropriation for North Dakota Vision Services / School for the Blind in the state budget which is allocated for the 2017 -2019 biennium so that the NDVS/SB appropriation will,

  • Restore funding to place at least one more vision professional (preferably a mobility specialist) in western North Dakota to ensure all residents are served with enough frequency and intensity so that they can make steady progress toward mobility independence.
  • Restore funding that would allow more emphasis in the area of transition services for youth given that employment for visually impaired adults should be given a very high priority.
  • Maintain funding that will allow NDVS/SB to purchase and demonstrate assistive technology which is evolving so very rapidly – a high priority needs to be given to maintain a state of the art technology demonstration and training center as falling behind on training programs will mean that students and adults will not be as productive and not as marketable for employment.
  • Maintain the funding for outreach travel within the state and for professional development of staff at regional and national training conferences.

NDAB Resolution 2016-02: State Public Transit Appropriation for the 2017– 2019 biennium

Whereas, North Dakotans, with many types of disabilities and economic reasons, are unable to drive their own personal vehicles and thus are very dependent on the availability of public transportation systems; and,

Whereas, people who are unable to use a personal vehicle for their transportation needs are often highly dependent on the availability of public transportation as a viable means of providing independence in their lives; and,

Whereas, studies have demonstrated that for every dollar that governing entities choose to invest in public transit generates a $3 return to communities that are served by such service systems; and,

Whereas, demographically, North Dakota has the highest proportion of people per capita over the age of 85 than any other state in the nation (and this trend is expected to continue well into the future) and most people so categorized want to “age in place”; and,

Whereas, the rural characteristics of North Dakota and its high proportion of roads to its population base, strongly supports the need to supplement and increase the amount of public assistance and development of public/private partnerships for mass transit;

Now, Therefore, be it resolved by the North Dakota Association of the Blind in Convention assembled at the Home Place Lodge and Suites in Williston, ND on this Saturday, June 11th, that we,

  1. Urge the Governor to increase the amount of funding in the budget dedicated for the operation of public transit systems that he presents to the 65th Legislative Assembly when it convenes in January, 2017, and;
  2. Urge the 65th North Dakota Legislative Assembly to support an increased appropriation of state funds for all public transit systems throughout the state in the state budget that it adopts for the 2017 – 2019 biennium, and;
  3. Urge our U.S. North Dakota congressional delegation to maintain and increase the amount of federal assistance for public transit systems in the rural and urban areas of our state when the Federal transportation bill is considered for reauthorization by the U.S. Congress.

NDAB Resolution 2016-03: Making the Internet Accessible for All

Whereas, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was originally passed when the Internet was still in its infancy, however, as the Internet has grown, protections for accessibility under the ADA have not kept pace with technological advancements in this field; and,

Whereas, industry is usually forced to comply with provisions in the ADA through legal proceedings, which have routinely raised questions on how Title II and III of the ADA applies to web accessibility; and,

Whereas, the Department of Justice (DOJ) has for over a decade indicated the need to develop regulatory guidance on web accessibility However, through its lack of action it continues to prolong what clearly is a very serious accessibility issue for people who are blind and visually impaired; and,

Whereas, on the 20th anniversary of the ADA in 2011, the White House identified the issue of web accessibility for people with disabilities as a priority, and yet, it now seems that it will take over eight years before a proposed rule can even be presented; and,

Whereas, Americans who are blind clearly deserve much greater expediency for equal participation on one of the greatest and most influential mediums of communication ever developed in our society; and,

Whereas, the lack of accessibility to the internet poses an increasingly serious roadblock for future equal participation in our society and to the workplace for people who are blind and visually impaired;

Now, Therefore, be it resolved by the North Dakota Association of the Blind in Convention assembled at the Home Place Lodge and Suites in Williston, ND on this Saturday, June 11th, that we,

Strongly advise our North Dakota congressional delegation to work with the presidential administration that is successful in this fall’s election so that administration will direct the Department of Justice and other federal governmental agencies to develop rules that will assure that equal access to the internet will be provided ASAP to people who are blind and visually impaired.

NDAB Resolution 2016-04: Promoting membership advocacy

Whereas, grassroots advocacy can be and often is the most effective means of achieving a policy goal; and,

Whereas, unless we voice our concerns to policymakers, they remain ignorant about our needs and will listen and take their direction from lobbyists and others regarding our needs and concerns; and,

Whereas, one half of the North Dakota legislature, the office of the governor, and Senator Hoeven’s and Congressman Cramer’s seats in Congress will be on the ballot in this fall’s election and they are seeking your vote and are now more than ever apt to listen to your concerns; and,

Whereas, it is a fact that the more policymakers hear from constituents about a particular issue, the more willing they become about taking a more considered approach toward it;

Now, Therefore, be it resolved by the North Dakota Association of the Blind in Convention assembled at the Home Place and Lodge Suites in Williston, ND on this Sunday, June 12th, that we,

Urge our members to educate themselves about who is seeking election in their districts and to speak to the candidates about the legislative priorities that are important to them and to North Dakota Association of the Blind.

Further, we urge our members to write, call, and/or make an appointment to meet with members of our North Dakota congressional delegation to address the federal policies that are most vital to enhance and improve the lives of people who are blind and visually impaired.

NDDAC Legislative Training Institute

Submitted by Allan Peterson

The North Dakota Disability Advocacy Consortium (NDDAC) will Host its 2nd Legislative Training Institute (LtI) on August 29 – 31, 2016 at the Ramada Hotel in Bismarck, ND. The training will be a Three Day Conference specifically designed to Educate and Empower People with Disabilities. The training itself is designed so that it could host a group of more than 100 people with disabilities, their families, and industry professionals so that they can join together to gain the skills and knowledge necessary so that they become more active in state government.

Over the course of the three day conference, participants will learn by doing. They will discover first-hand how the legislative process works as they form their own mock “state government.” Participants will be divided into groups and will form their own Senate and House of Representatives. This experience is designed to better prepare them to become involved in the “real thing” when the North Dakota State Legislature convenes in January 2017. “We hope that this Institute will give people with disabilities and their families a sense of what it means to be a leader and an activist in their communities,” said Julianne Horntvedt, the NDDAC Chairperson.

At the same time that attendees are learning about the legislative process, attendees will meet other people who share common goals and exchange ideas. This will give participants the opportunity to make connections and exchange ideas with like-minded individuals. On Monday, August 30, the LTI will host a social with live music from Blind Joe.

The NDDAC is currently accepting registrations and is also looking for businesses and organizations throughout North Dakota to sponsor the event. People with disabilities represent one of the largest minority groups in the United States, but they are often overlooked and underprepared to participate in matters of government. For more information about registration or sponsorship, please contact Brittany Smith at (701)328-4605 or

About NDDAC: The NDDAC seeks to bring persons with disabilities, their families, and advocacy organizations together to speak with one voice. Since it was formed 14 years ago, the NDDAC has worked to change public policy and serviced in North Dakota to better meet the needs of people with disabilities throughout the state.

New exhibits provide art access for all abilities

By MeLissa Kossick / The Arts Partnership on Jul 10, 2016 at 2:29 p.m.
The Fargo Forum

MOORHEAD—Access to the arts means more than just ramps at arts and cultural institutions. For art patrons, two new exhibits at the Historical and Cultural Society of Clay County may be their first hands-on art experience.
“Child In A Strange Country: Helen Keller and the History of Education for People Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired” is on display at the museum through October. The traveling exhibit focuses on education, exploring math, geography, science and reading using Helen Keller’s educational journey as an observational lens.

The second exhibit is the Fargo Moorhead Visual Artists’ Constraint Show. The annual exhibition provides artists one restriction for art-making. The 2016 theme was “Touchable: Celebrate the Senses” to accompany the Keller exhibit. Participating artists created works to be seen, heard and felt—all of the art is touchable.

Read teh full article at

Info: For more information on audio description training or the Arts Access group, email Sherry Shirek at

Relationship Basics

Reprinted with permission from Steve Goodier

One man said of his marriage “I very distinctly remember our wedding day. As we unloaded the moving van into our little house, I said, ‘Darling, this is your and my little world.’” Then he became pensive. “Problem is, we’ve been fighting for the world’s championship ever since,” he said.

One woman was tired of the marital conflict. “Why don’t we just ask God to strike one of us dead tonight,” she suggested, “then this marriage would have peace at last.” After a moment she added, “And I could go live with my sister.”

All relationships experience conflict. Marriages, friendships, parents and children. But too many beleaguered relationships suffer when well-meaning people are unable to resolve their differences. Their relationships dry up, become brittle and break apart like an old and valuable photograph left in the hot sun. A union that once seemed a work of art eventually resembles a discolored and crumbling canvass. Finding and restoring those pieces to anything attractive can be a near-impossible task.

And the amazing realization is this: the incidents that finally destroy a relationship are usually small and insignificant! Momentous decisions and huge obstacles generally don’t pull people apart. Most people in committed relationships can stand united when disaster strikes. It is the little problems, the insignificant stressors, that do the most damage when allowed to fester.

Do you know what issue causes the greatest number of conflicts in households? According to a recent report, people argue most often about which television show or movie to watch. Would any couple or family have believed that the selection of television programs would become their major source of conflict?

Somewhere along the line we forget to just stop and ask ourselves what is important. Sometimes we just need to remember why we got together in the first place. And remember the difference between minor inconveniences and major issues. In short, we forget the basics. And we can end up paying a high price for our forgetfulness.

For healthy and satisfying relationships, it’s vital to remember these simple basics:

  • The people you love are more valuable than the things you own. Put them first.
  • Most problems are just inconveniences. Let them go.
  • Little things, if left unattended, will grow into big things. Working through conflicts are the dues we pay for long-lasting relationships.
  • Treat love as if it’s fragile. Tend it and care for it. That love, properly nurtured, will grow into one of the strongest forces in your life.

Those are the basics. Simple, really. But they are the stuff satisfying relationships are made of.

NDAB Leadership Roster

  • President/Legislative Liaison: Zelda Gebhard
  • Vice President/Membership ‘Chairperson: Mary Stip
  • Secretary: Gretchen Campbell
  • Treasurer/Registered Agent: Helen Baumgartner
  • Past President: Mark Kueffler
  • Board of Directors:
    • Carol Schmitt
    • Sherry Shirek
    • Robert Hart
  • Development Director/Legislative Liaison: Allan Peterson
  • Co-Camp Directors:
    • Loris Van Berkom
    • Rick Feldman
  • “Dining in the Dark Project” Chairperson: Janelle Olson
  • Sports and Recreation Chairperson: Dave Sundeen
  • Scholarship Committee Chairperson: Tracy Wicken
  • Historian: Alexandra Engraf
  • Public Relations Chairperson: Sherry Shirek
  • Webmaster Administrator: Jesse Shirek
  • Promoter Editor: Kathy Larson

Local News Reporters:

  • Bismarck: Helen Baumgartner
  • Dickinson: Lexee Steffan
  • Fargo: Shereen Faber
  • Grand Forks: Renae Huseby
  • Lake Region: Carol Schmitt
  • Minot: Doug and Mary Stip
  • Williston: Loris Van Berkom

All members are encouraged to submit items of interest to the editor by mail, phone or e-mail 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.

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