Table of Contents
- From the President
- From the Editor
- Welcome to NDAB
- Ready, Set, Go!
- Members of our NDAB Family
- 2018 LePage Award
- ACB Delegate Report 2018
- 2018 Edwin Christensen Award Recipient
- Donations and Memorials
- Guide Dog Users, Inc. Publishes Handbook to Help People Who Are Blind Decide if the Guide Dog Lifestyle is Right for them
- NDAB Development Report Summer 2018
- Just Talking
- Candy’s Corner
- AI Tools Help the Blind Tackle Everyday Tasks
- Legislative Report Summer 2018
- After Losing her Sight, Legislator Works to Open Center for the Blind in Uganda
- Blind Passengers Can ‘See’ the View Out a Car Window with This Creation from Ford
- Turn Netflix Videos into “Audiobooks” with the Audio Description Feature
- CNIB Century of Change Award
- Apple seeks to ‘take disability out of the equation’
- Audio description app studied by field-research team at Muir Woods National Monument
Warm Greetings to All,
July is a warm, green and growing time of the year as evidenced in my garden where everything is thriving including the weeds!
My sincere appreciation to the convention host committee from Bismarck. They did a great job of making us feel welcome and assuring we had an enjoyable time while we were together for our 2018 NDAB Convention in June. Thank you to all of you who traveled to Bismarck to attend the convention. We couldn’t do it without you.
A big thank you to Carol Schmitt for being a board director for the past three years. You will be missed. Welcome to our new director, Shereen Faber. I appreciate your willingness to continue serving as treasurer, Helen Baumgartner; vice president, Mary Stip; and editor, Kathy Larson. I am truly honored to have the opportunity to be your president for another two years. Please contact me with your suggestions and ideas.
I couldn’t have been more pleased when our convention guest, ACB President Kim Charlson, noted that we have “a close, caring membership that gets along well together.” It is that warm and caring environment that will enable NDAB to continue to thrive and grow as we work together to fulfill our mission.
Just Talking: July 17, August 21, September 19, October 16
NDB Summer Camp: August 5-12
Next Board Meeting: September 10th at 6:30 p.m.
I was recently looking back through prior Promoters; The August 2012 newsletter was the first newsletter as editor, so that means I am beginning my 7th year! I continue to wonder how the years fly by so quickly.
Thanks to Denice Kirsch for the following quote for this issue of the Promoter.
“A true friend is someone who sees the pain in your eyes while everyone else believes the smile on your face.” –Unknown
Thanks to those of you who have sent articles for this issue of the Promoter. I really appreciate your timeliness in getting things emailed to me by the deadline! If there are quotes or articles you’d like included, please send them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
I’ll see some of you soon…at camp!
Kathy Larson, Promoter Editor
We welcome the following new members to NDAB:
Mara Hintz, Elizabeth (Liz) and Jordon Lakoduk all from Minot, and Liann and Joe Bommersbach (Blind Joe) from Grand Rapids, MN.
Welcome back to Anthony Sherer of Wyndmere.
Submitted by Loris Van Berkom
The clock is ticking and the days on the calendar are slipping away. If you have filled out your application to attend the 2018 NDAB Summer Camp, you have probably packed your suitcase or at least thought about it. Camp begins August 5th. If you are not attending, we will tell you all about it in the next Promoter.
Submitted by Kathy Larson
NDAB member Helen Odland Samson, 89, of Minot, passed away on May 14, 2018, at Trinity Hospital in Minot. She received her Standard Teaching Certificate in Elementary Education at Minot State Teacher’s College. Helen began her teaching career in Leeds, where she met another young teacher named Lyle Samson. Helen and Lyle were married on August 27, 1951. She taught school in Velva, Bottineau and Souris. Early on in Bottineau they established their first cabin on Lake Metigoshe, the “Hide-Away Hut.” Later they worked with friends to develop the Oakshore area of Lake Metigoshe. The lake became a focal point of family activities, and many of the best family memories were made there over the years. The cabin remains in the family today. Helen taught in Sawyer and later began teaching in Wilton, primarily working with the Title One program for children with special needs, and eventually becoming elementary principal. In 1989, they moved back to Minot where Helen worked for many years alongside Lyle in the directorship of the Manitoba-North Dakota Zero-Tillage Farmer’s Association. During this time, she also spent many years as a volunteer at the Trinity Hospital ICU waiting room. She enjoyed singing, playing the organ and piano, listening to music, knitting, crocheting, and cross-stitching. She loved baking and cooking and was known for her homemade buns, baked beans, chocolate chip cookies and butterscotch Christmas cookies. Most of all she loved spending time with her children and grandchildren. Helen was a longtime member of Christ Lutheran Church in Minot. Her loving family includes two sons, three grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. (I did not know Helen; those of you who knew her were fortunate. I think she must have been a special lady!)
Tom Capes was so hoping to come to camp this year, but those plans have changed. He was up on his roof, painting the house. When coming down onto the ladder, he missed the first rung and fell 12 feet to the ground, landing on his right side. He got a little bump on his head when he hit the sidewalk, sat up and found everything to work okay. Thankfully he did not break any bones but felt a bit uncomfortable in the rib area for a few days. On July 3rd, he was taken to ER when there seemed to be something wrong with the left side of his body and arm. The possibility of a stroke was ruled out after several tests were done. However, the results of an ultrasound showed a mass on his kidneys. He is now waiting for an MRI to be scheduled. Please remember him in thought and prayer. If you would like to send him a card, mail to: 6201 Bridgewood Drive, Killeen TX 76549-5126 or email him at email@example.com.
Best regards to you, Tom, we’ll miss you at camp!
Keep Michelle Zentz in thought and prayer as she is recovering from surgery. Her aunt and uncle from Arizona were driving up to see her, and her uncle was killed in a car accident on July 11th. Remember Michelle’s mother Violet Zentz in thought and prayer also, as Gordon Johnson was Violet’s brother.
We have lost yet another NDAB member. Idell Nelson, 85, of Watford City passed away peacefully at her home surrounded by her loving family on July 10. She was born May 18, 1933 to Magdalena and Willie Kusler on her parents’ farmstead in rural McIntosh County, 12 ½ miles from Kulm, ND. Idell graduated from Dakota Business College of Fargo and worked as an accountant at S&S Motors. Gerry Nelson and Idell Kusler were married May 9, 1954 in the First Congregational Church in Kulm, ND. The couple lived on the Arthur C. Nelson (Gerry’s father) farm northeast of Watford City for a number of years. In addition to farming Gerald and Idell started Nelson’s Ranch Supply in 1972 selling cattle equipment. The business grew over the years but after 20 years, Nelson’s Ranch Supply closed to allow more time to travel. Idell was active in various church and community organizations. Together, Idell and Gerry enjoyed and helped their children and grandchildren. Gerry and Idell frequently went south for part of the winter, usually to South Padre Island, TX. Left behind to treasure her memory is her husband Gerald of 64 years, three children, several grandchildren and great-grandchildren and four siblings. (Stan and I have known Idell and Jerry for a long time. They attended Family Adjustment Seminar years ago.)
By Candy Lien
On June 9, 2018, Lion Doug Schindler, of the Gateway Lions Club, was presented with the Robert John LePage Service Award. The award was presented to Lion Schindler by committee member Shereen Faber during the banquet of the annual state convention of the North Dakota Association of the Blind at the Quality Inn and Suites in Bismarck, ND. This 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 name this award was established in 2009.
In his nomination letter, Club President Mike Brand stated that Lion Schindler “helped as a volunteer for the Gateway Lions Blind Bowling League for 25 years serving as a driver, scorekeeper, and cheerleader. He served as the bowling league coordinator for 15 years. As the lead Lion on for the blind bowling league Doug would set the schedule, reserve bowling lanes at NDSU, communicate with the bowling participants, coordinate drivers each month, and report to the club monthly about the bowling activities.” Brand further states that “Doug has served as a driver for the annual Camp Grassick outing many times and has also been a driver to the NDAB State convention. He currently is a volunteer driver for the monthly Dinner for the Blind coordinated by the Gateway Lions club.”
Coincidentally, Mr. Schindler was a friend of Bob’s, and followed his example of always being there to provide transportation when people with sight loss needed it. In fact, he had provided a ride for several NDAB members to this year’s convention.
The plaque that was presented to Lion Schindler 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 lacks sight, but they who lack vision, are blind.”
Congratulations to Lion Doug Schindler for this very well-deserved award!
“ACB Gateway to Success”
The American Council of the Blind national convention was held at the Union Station Hotel in ST. Louis, Missouri, from June 29th through July 6th. The hotel used to be a train station and this theme was reflected throughout. The convention was opened on Saturday, June 30th at 7:00 p.m. by President Kim Charlson and subsequent general sessions took place each morning from 8:30 until around 12:00. There were many different speakers throughout the week. Many, such as Amazon, discussed technology and what they were working on to improve their products for the blind and visually impaired community. One of my favorite speakers was a blind actress, Marilee Talkington, who played the role of a witness on the television show, NCIS; she gave a very powerful speech about how she was able to advocate for herself and her abilities in the acting field. I also enjoyed listening to an NLS talking book narrator, Laura Giannarelli, who talked about what it was like to record books. She spoke in various accents throughout her speech and she read an excerpt from a book at general session with great expression and enthusiasm. On the final day of general session, we voted on 23 resolutions and 21 of them were passed. We also voted on various board directors and members of the Publications Committee.
Exploring the exhibit hall was a lot of fun. A lot of vendors had booths set up and it was interesting to learn about their many different products. I visited the Envision America booth where I saw a bar code scanner that will read all the information on a product without needing to use a camera. I was most impressed with the Aira booth. Aira is an app that connects a visually impaired person needing assistance with a sighted Aira agent via the app and camera on a Smartphone using the phone’s camera or the Aira glasses. The sighted Aira agent uses the camera to help there visually impaired customer find their destination, read menus, navigate around crowds of people, shop independently, etc. While the Aira app is free to download, it costs $89 for 100 minutes per month to use.
There were a variety of tours held throughout the week. I went on a trolley tour where I learned a lot about the history of ST. Louis. The driver took us to various landmarks throughout the city, including Bush Stadium, Bush Gardens and the Gateway Arch. I was excited to go on the “Sweet Tooth” tour where we went to a candy store! Chocolate Chocolate Chocolate is famous for a variety of chocolates including truffles, chocolate caramels, chocolate-covered strawberries and other delectable chocolatey creations. We were unable to see the factory where the chocolates were made because it was shut down for the day for inspection, but we got free samples and were able to purchase some goodies to take home. One of the most memorable adventures that the rest of the North Dakota delegation and I had in ST. Louis was an impromptu trip to see the fireworks at the Gateway Arch on the Fourth of July with a friend we made from Nashville, Tennessee. We were all impressed by all the pretty colors and shapes of the fireworks and the spectacular display was brought to life for me by our friend’s wonderful description of what was happening in the sky.
I had a wonderful time in ST. Louis and am grateful for the chance to have been the 2018 NDAB delegate. I am especially grateful for the encouragement, support and guidance that both the rest of the North Dakota delegation and my NDAB friends back home provided. It was a privilege to represent the North Dakota Association of the Blind as the 2018 delegate and I look forward to what the future holds for ACB.
Lexee Steffan, ACB Delegate, 2018
It was with honor that the 2018 Ed Christensen Award was presented to Karlyn Frantsen at the banquet on Saturday, June 9, at the NDAB 2018 Convention held at The Quality Inn and Suites in Bismarck, ND. This award is given to an active NDAB member and is primarily based upon their dedicated service to NDAB over the years.
Karlyn has been a NDAB member for 32 years.
She has been a dedicated camp nurse for 21 years and took very good care of all of us, especially those who needed her on a daily basis.
She has dedicated six years serving as the NDAB Secretary and all its responsibilities. She also helped with the Family Adjustment Seminar and was a group leader in break-out sessions.
She has been a very enthusiastic photographer, lending her skills to taking pictures of the winners at the Awards Banquet at conventions, and also for activities around camp for many years. She has taken many beautiful sunset pictures at Lake Isabelle and had them transposed onto canvas, metal, and framed under glass. She has also taken many pictures, put them into a photo album and donated them to the auction.
She has used her very talented skills in various camp activities, giving much time and effort in co-chairing or helping with the planning of a few memorable banquets at camp. Two of them come to mind right away: “In the Garden” and the Olympic theme “Go for the Gold.”
For six years, she has been a valuable teacher and helper in many classes at camp, most years, multiple classes, such as teaching how to design a rope basket using yarn and rope, helping with machine knitting, Norwegian language class, a class called “Travel with Kathy,” and Arm Knitting, just to name a few.
Nor can we ever forget her participation as a member of the “Sisters Four” in many talent shows held every year at camp.
Karlyn has also attended some ACB conventions and been a sighted guide for her sisters and others who needed help when she was near. We all, whether blind or sighted, are aware of the smile she has in her heart for all of us!
The Edwin Christensen Award is just one way in which NDAB can express our thanks and appreciation.
Thank you Karlyn for your generous dedication and efforts put into serving NDAB over the past 32 years!
The Edwin Christensen Award committee,
Carol Schmitt, Shereen Faber, and Kathy Johnson
Minot Community Foundation – $200
Barbara Satterthwaite – $250
Olga Neal Estate – $20,000
Minot 1st International Bank – $350
Gene and Elaine Kelm Haugen – $15
Audio Description Training – $323.94
Total Donations: $21,138.94
Stan and Kathy Larson in memory of Lavile Stip.
Candy and Terry Lien in memory of Darrin Register.
James and Wanda Granquist, Wallace and Susan Lang, Stan and Kathy Larson, Donna Hepper, Anonymous and Silent Auction of Dr. Seuss books in memory of Genie Lang.
Orlan and Laurie Honadel, Gloria Castleman, Jeff and Barb Hanson, Pat and Ron Schimke, James and Rosie Winezewski, Lottie Griffin and Michele Carter in memory of Wendall Hanson.
Ruth and Bob Geske and Shereen Faber in memory of Sophie Van Hook.
Kristine Hovland Sheridan in memory of Jean Eidsmoe
Total Memorials: $1,245.94
Total Donations and Memorials: $22,384.88
NDAB welcomes and is very grateful for all donations and memorials sent to our organization to assist in the programs that help people with vision loss live a more successful, productive life.
Helen Baumgartner, Treasurer
Guide Dog Users, Inc. Publishes Handbook to Help People Who Are Blind Decide if the Guide Dog Lifestyle is Right for them
Guide Dog Users, Inc. (GDUI), the largest membership and advocacy organization representing guide dog handlers in the United States, is pleased to announce the recent publication of a revised handbook for perspective guide dog users which shares comprehensive information about acquiring and using a guide dog for safe and independent travel.
The guide, 90 pages in length, and available in e-book and print formats, A Handbook for the Prospective Guide Dog Handler, 4th Edition, updates a GDUI publication called “Making Impressions,” which GDUI members wrote and published a quarter of a century ago. The original manual assisted countless guide dog users with applying for training with and adjusting to working with guide dogs. Many of those original readers are now working successfully with a third or fourth or even an eighth, or tenth guide dog. Realizing how well their original publication had served guide dog users all over the country and beyond, GDUI has spent the past several years updating the manual to reflect changes in guide dog training methodologies, growth in the community of guide dog users, changes in the number of schools now available to provide training and dogs, and evolving attitudes among the public concerning acceptance of guide dogs as reliable and respected aids for blind and visually impaired people who choose dogs for independent travel.
The informative handbook answers questions not only for the prospective guide dog team, but also for families of people who are blind, blindness rehabilitation professionals and educators, and the general public. Part One, Section One sets the stage with heartfelt accounts from many guide dog users who can speak with authority about the guide dog lifestyle which pairs humans and canines in a relationship, unlike few others, that involves a 24-hour daily bond
between dogs and their owners. Then, the handbook covers the whole process of deciding whether a guide dog is the right choice for mobility and safety, choosing and applying to a training program, learning to become a guide dog handler, returning home, and spending the next several years bonding with a dog who is likely to become an indispensable assistant and treasured companion.
The manual outlines the indispensable support that an organization like GDUI can provide to guide dog users during times when their partnership can pose uniquely stressful challenges, for example when a guide dog team experiences denial of transit in a taxicab, or exclusion from a restaurant or other public venue, when a treasured guide dog becomes ill or passes away, or when family or friends don’t understand how the team functions safely and independently.
GDUI encourages readers and members to share the handbook with family, friends, colleagues, blindness and disability advocacy organizations, and other guide and service dog handlers. “A Handbook for the Prospective Guide Dog Handler” is available as an e-book and in print from Amazon.com, Smashwords, and other online sellers. Visit this link for further information and to explore options for purchase:
Founded in 1975, Guide Dog Users Inc., (GDUI), is the leading membership-driven organization of guide dog handlers in the world. Members, most of whom are blind or visually impaired, rely on guide dogs for independence and safety. GDUI strives to promote civil rights and enhance the quality of life for working guide dog teams. Drawing on the experiences and varied knowledge of its members, GDUI provides peer support, advocacy and information to guide dog users. In addition, GDUI works with public entities, private businesses and individuals to ensure that guide dog users enjoy the same rights to travel, employment, housing, and participation in all aspects of daily life that people without disabilities enjoy. The collective knowledge and experience of GDUI’s members drives constructive dialogue, breaking down barriers, and opening doors for men and women who live and work proudly and independently partnered with well-trained guide dogs. GDUI is an affiliate of the American Council of the Blind (ACB).
By Allan Peterson
A HUGE THANK YOU to all who have helped in some way with our fund-raising efforts this past year. A very special thank you to Helen as treasurer for her work to organize and maintain records of the income and expense figures. Her detailed information is greatly valued and appreciated!
I would like to thank Gretchen for her willingness to lead the NDAB Statewide Raffle effort! A total of 781 raffle tickets were sold. That means that the gross proceeds were $7,810. Payout for the cash prizes of $3500 and the printing costs meant that the net profit realized from the raffle was somewhat less than $4300. Special thanks to Mary Stip for selling the highest number of tickets and to Trampes who sold a number of tickets at the hotel during the Convention.
Total income from all sources for 2017-2018 was $69,140.59 and total expenses in all categories were $57,114.76. Our proposed expenses for fiscal 2018-2019 is budgeted at $70,300. These figures suggest that we will need to try to meet and even surpass the fund-raising totals that we reached last year.
The grand total of donations received from our 2018 Giving Hearts Day Appeal was $18,887.38; $5400 of this total was raised through creation of a match fund prior to Giving Hearts Day. Much of this match fund was generated from donations received from North Dakota Lions Clubs and friends of NDAB.
Our “Walk for Vision” generated a total of $12,874.75. Of this total $2,889.25 came from Minot, $633 from Grand Forks, $265 from Williston, and $9,087.50 from Fargo.
Donations generated from organizations that have a North Dakota charitable gaming license totaled $7,400. Other significant donations totaled $7,388.41; $3500 of this total came from the Minot Lions through our involvement with them in the “Dining in the Dark” event. Donations from memorials to NDAB in memory of loved ones totaled $2,256.20. Other income sources came from camp, convention, and a number of other sources.
I won’t attempt to try to list everyone who helped in some way with our fund-raising efforts but pleas know that you are all valued and greatly appreciated. It truly is a team effort.
To learn more about each other, technology or our world, we have been getting together by phone on the third Tuesday of each month. You can join in the conversation too! Just dial 515-604-9797, access code 824825. Remember there will be long distance charges unless you call in with a phone that is toll free such as a cell phone or home phone with free long distance.
Future dates and topics include:
August 21 – Do you have trouble taking your medications as prescribed? Have you ever missed a dose or taken it twice? Let’s Talk about Script Talk, a helpful tool that can lead to a healthier you.
September 19 – A teacher is warm, caring and enthusiastic. Share your memories of that special teacher who made a difference in your life.
October 16 – Ever thought of getting a guide dog? What are the advantages? Consider the responsibilities.
November 20 – Let us give thanks! What or who are you thankful for? How does being thankful make you a happier person?
Let’s keep talking!
I would like to encourage you to check out the library of helpful videos that have been produced by the staff at North Dakota Vision Services/School for the Blind. Current topics include tips on applying make-up, iPhone basics, how to load paper into the Perkins brailler, O&M in the wintertime, and many more. The collection is constantly being added to, so check back often to see if you find something of interest. The web address of these “Golden Guides,” produced by videographer Emily Stenberg, is https://www.ndvisionservices.com/services/golden-guide-videos.
A host of products promise to radically change the lives of the visually impaired
Since losing his vision at age 13, Erik Weihenmayer has summited Mount Everest, white-water rafted and climbed frozen waterfalls. But making soup in his kitchen presented a unique challenge. On a frozen waterfall he could tap his ax against the ice to get a feel for its density, but in the kitchen, he had no way to differentiate between cans of tomato and chicken noodle.
Read the full article at https://www.wsj.com/articles/ai-tools-help-the-blind-tackle-everyday-tasks-1527559620
By Allan Peterson & Zelda Gebhard
As a preface to this report, we feel the most concerning issue currently is the decision which dramatically cut federal taxes. It has the unwelcome consequence of ballooning our nation’s federal deficit. This could potentially be used by the nation’s lawmakers to argue that they must make drastic cuts to the funding for Medicare and Medicaid. Politics aside, these health care insurance programs are absolutely vital to the well-being of many of us within the disability community. Consequently, it may never have been more urgent than now to strongly advocate for maintaining Medicare & Medicaid in their present capacity and form.
A noteworthy recent advocacy achievement has to be the legislative lunch that we held as a part of our NDAB Convention, Saturday, June 9, at our Convention in Bismarck. We had five legislators and three legislative candidates from the Bismarck-Mandan area attend the lunch. Also, in attendance was a representative from Congressman Cramer’s office. It was noteworthy that the letter that the representative read to the Convention in which the Congressman expressed his support for the very same priorities that we had addressed with his office staff when we met in the Congressman’s office during our visit on Capitol Hill in connection with the 2018 ACB Legislative Seminar on February 27.
We believe that inviting legislators to lunch provides us with a great opportunity for them to meet us and learn about NDAB and the priorities that are most important to us. Also, it’s been very interesting to have the legislators share their personal stories about their familiarity with sight loss. By hosting these lunches, we’ve had the opportunity to meet many of our state’s legislators in a casual setting, which we believe can be very helpful when we request their support on issues during the Legislative Session.
As you well know, our nation and state will hold its next general election this fall on November 6. The election will, no doubt, help to determine the direction that our politics will follow until the presidential election in 2020. We strongly urge that each of you would exercise your right to vote in whatever venue you choose in this fall’s election.
In preparation for our advocacy work during the upcoming 66th North Dakota State Legislative Session and Sessions of Congress, four resolutions were prepared that have been adopted by the 2018 NDAB Convention. Each of these resolutions deal with state and federal government appropriations for vital blindness services that are provided to people with sight loss in North Dakota.
Resolution 2018-01 addresses the appropriation for North Dakota Vision Services/School for the Blind. Resolution 2018-02 addresses the federal and state appropriations for the Older Blind Program. Resolution 2018-03 addresses the state and federal appropriation for public transportation programs in North Dakota, and Resolution 2018-04 addresses the federal appropriation for the NLS Talking Book Program. The complete text of these four resolutions is printed elsewhere in this edition of the Promoter.
The challenge facing us is to maintain and strengthen the funding for services during a time when the state is experiencing a significant decline in state revenues. The appropriations for all state government services and programs have been significantly cut once again during this current 2017-2019 biennium and the governor is asking for even further reductions in the proposed state budgets that are to be acted upon by the 66th North Dakota State Legislative Assembly that convenes on January 7, 2019. In the coming months, we will likely be seeking help from you, our members, to make our case with legislators to maintain and strengthen blindness services that are so very vital to people with sight loss in North Dakota.
It’s also our intent, if it proves to be feasible, to seek to introduce legislation during this upcoming state legislative session to implement a talking prescription label option by the pharmacies that operate in North Dakota. Such legislation that addresses this need has been enacted by the State of Nevada. It’s our intent to determine if this type of legislation might be feasible in our state.
Four of us, Zelda Gebhard, Helen Baumgartner, Donna Hepper, and Allan Peterson, attended this year’s ACB 2018 Legislative Seminar held on Monday, February 26th and Tuesday, February 27th at the Crown Plaza Hotel in Alexandria, Virginia. The very best part of these Seminars is the opportunity to make visits on Capitol Hill to the offices of our North Dakota Congressional Delegation Senators Hoeven and Heitkamp and Congressman Cramer.
Briefly, the four policy initiatives that we discussed during our Capitol Hill visits were:
Issue #1: Safeguarding services and programs for people who are blind and visually impaired. Because there is much speculation about what programs Congress might cut or eliminate in the next budget cycle, ACB seeks to maintain the current level of federal appropriations for programs that provide vital specific blindness services throughout the country. Federal appropriations are the primary source of funding for a number of vital blindness service programs which are invaluable to people who are blind and sight impaired; among these are the older blind program and the NLS Talking Book Program. These are programs which have for years been highly effective in helping promote independence among people who are blind and sight impaired. We also advocated that profits from vending facilities along our interstate highways continue to be used to help Randolph-Sheppard entrepreneurs maintain a successful business enterprise – these entrepreneurs are individuals who are blind and visually impaired. There are two such business operations in North Dakota – one in Bismarck and the other in Fargo. It was very helpful to have Helen be a part of our advocacy for both the Older Blind Program and the Randolph-Sheppard program because she was directly involved in the administration of both programs in North Dakota. To help our advocacy for the Talking Book Program, we used a book player to demonstrate the effectiveness of this machine to deliver audible communication to individuals that cannot read printed materials.
Issue #2: (H.R. 2050 Low Vision Devices Act of 2017) if adopted would establish a five-year demonstration project to determine the feasibility of expanding Medicare coverage to include visual aids, aids such as “video magnifiers” for qualified Medicare beneficiaries who have “low vision” and must rely on this type of equipment to help maintain and strengthen their ability to live independently. To help our advocacy for this legislation, Zelda and Donna have brought their lighted magnifiers to demonstrate how valuable this type of equipment can be to people that have “low vision.”
Issue #3: Alice Cogswell/Anne Sullivan Macy Act (H.R. 1120 & S2087). This Legislation would help ensure that children with sight or hearing loss are properly identified, that a thorough assessment of their needs be conducted, and that they be provided with a comprehensive set of skills to deal with their individual disabilities in their school’s k12 educational setting. These bills were given the title, Alice Cogswell, Anne Sullivan Macy to honor two women who are luminaries in the field of education of children who are blind and/or def. This legislation does not request an additional appropriation; what it does ask for is that changes be made in policy to insure that adequate procedures be implemented to help students with sensory impairments receive an appropriate, quality education that’s tailored to meet their individual learning needs. As a part of our advocacy for this legislation, we shared that the administration of our own North Dakota Vision Services/School for the Blind, strongly supports the passage and implementation of this legislation.
Issue #4: Maintaining the federal subsidy for Amtrak rail service provided to residents of North Dakota by the Empire Builder that runs from Chicago to Seattle. We shared with our delegation that many of us, who cannot drive rely on this mode of transportation to travel from city to city within North Dakota and throughout the nation; should this service be lost it would be devastating to many of us.
We again made visits not only to the offices of our North Dakota congressional delegation, but also to those of South Dakota, Montana, and Wyoming as well. As always, arrangements were made in advance for our visits to those offices with the assistance and approval of our neighbor state ACB affiliates. We were able to make 11 of the 12 appointments – we could have made the last one but the time simply ran out. It was a long day with a number of miles walked because Capitol Hill has six huge office buildings with very long hallways.
Very exciting news to share – SUCCESS! One of the legislative priorities we’ve advocated for during our ACB Seminar Legislative visits on Capitol Hill has been ratification of the Marrakesh Treaty by the U.S. Senate. It’s happened! The U. S. Senate did ratify this Treaty on June 28 by unanimous consent, the Marrakesh Treaty Implementation Act (S. 2559).
Note: the announcement about the ratification of the Marrakesh Treaty appeared in a press release by the American Council of the Blind on the eve of the 2018 ACB Convention in St. Louis. Some information from that press release has been copied here.
“Passage of the Marrakesh Treaty by the Senate sets the stage for the United States to play a major role in ending the global shortage of accessible books for people who are blind or have other print-reading disabilities,” said ACB President Kim Charlson. “As we gather in this Gateway City five years after Marrakesh was introduced to the world, we’re excited by the new frontier that lies ahead for the tens of millions of people who are blind worldwide who had challenges gaining access to accessible written material.”
What does this Treaty do? Countries who are signatory’s to the Treaty are able to share accessible materials with one another. Such materials are thus allowed to cross international boundaries so that they do not need to be produced again in an accessible format by each country. This is so very important because it’s estimated that, at a maximum, only 5% of written materials are available anywhere worldwide in an accessible format. The bottom line is this; Our advocacy is so very important and must continue! Successes at times can seem elusive but successes like the ratification of the Marrakesh Treaty and the advances made in the availability of audio description services can make it all seem very worthwhile.
Margaret Baba Diri walked in the lobby of the Carroll Center for the Blind in Newton with Dina Rosenbaum, chief program officer for the center.
Margaret Baba Diri is scrolling through her iPhone, even if it doesn’t seem that way at first. The screen is dark, and she holds it at her chest, her finger swiping through the pages as an automated voice calls out the names of her apps until she lands on the one she wants.
She is practicing “flicking,” a technique she learned during an eight-week training program this spring at the Carroll Center for the Blind in Newton.
The rolling countryside, the dapple of light through tree branches, the little moments of romance you pass on a street corner—they’re visual experiences many of us take for granted when riding in a car. And for those who can’t see, the idea of looking out the window of a moving vehicle symbolizes the wide range of sights they’ll never be able to enjoy.
But automaker Ford’s Italian division and its local agency, GTB Rome, are trying to create a technology that gives the visually impaired a way of experiencing the view outside the window through their fingertips.
Lifehacker recently published an article about a Redditor who pointed out that you can listen to movies and TV shows on Netflix by turning on the audio description feature in user controls.
In other words, audio description can turn your favorite movies and shows into audiobooks that you can listen to anywhere.
Which titles have audio description?
If you use the search function on Netflix and enter ‘audio description,’ you’ll find an entire section titled “Audio Description in English” full of titles that offer the feature.
For a full database of which movies and TV shows offer this feature, you can also consult the Audio Description Project’s website which includes titles from Netflix, Amazon Video, and more! New titles are added fairly regularly.
This year, CNIB celebrates its 100th year of service in Canada – a century of remarkable change for people who are blind or partially sighted. As part of their anniversary celebrations, they have created the CNIB Century of Change awards program to honor the many clients, volunteers, supporters, community partners and innovators who have made that progress possible.
The American Council of the Blind was chosen to receive a CNIB Century of Change award in recognition of its outstanding voluntary contributions to the blindness community around the world.
This award was presented during the Library and Archives Canada event on May 29, 2018. Mitch Pomerantz, immediate past president, accepted this award on behalf of ACB.
Ahead of Global Accessibility Awareness Day, the tech giant discusses its work helping people with disabilities.
Austin Pruitt, a two-time US Paralympian, walked me over to a racing wheelchair that he set up for a stationary workout routine. Pruitt has cerebral palsy from the knees down, which forces him to walk slowly, but he’s able to compete on the world stage by racing in a wheelchair. He said he used to set up a bunch of trackers on his chair to log his workouts, but now uses just an Apple Watch instead.
Read the whole article at https://www.cnet.com/news/how-apple-devices-help-take-disability-out-of-the-equation-iphone/
A research team from the UniDescription project, which aims to create digital audio spaces and more accessible places, recently conducted another major field study of in-situ audio description at Muir Woods National Monument in California, near San Francisco.
Read the whole article at https://www.hawaii.edu/news/2018/05/07/unidescription-app-muir-woods/
Reprinted with permission by Steve Goodier
One woman complained to a friend that she couldn’t remember anything from one day to the next.
“Let me get this straight,” he said. “You can’t remember anything from one day to the next. How long has this been going on?”
She said, “How long has what been going on?”
If your memory is not what you would like it to be, it may help to focus on the few things you really need to remember. This list, compiled from several sources, may be all you really need to remember.
Remember that your presence is a gift (a present) to the world.
Remember that you are a unique and unrepeatable being.
Remember that you are still becoming what you will be.
Remember to relax; each day just comes one at a time.
Remember to count your blessings, not your troubles.
Remember that you have sufficient courage to face whatever comes along.
Remember that most of the answers you need are within you.
Remember that decisions are too important to leave to chance.
Remember to always reach for the best that is within you.
Remember that nothing wastes more energy than worry.
Remember that not getting what you want is sometimes a wonderful stroke of luck.
Remember that the longer you carry a grudge, the heavier it gets.
Remember not to take things too seriously; there’s always reason to laugh.
Remember that happiness is more often found in giving than getting.
Remember that life’s greatest treasures are people, not things.
Remember that a little love goes a long way.
Remember that a lot goes forever.