The Promoter May 2013

Official Publication of the North Dakota Association of the Blind

Available in four formats: large print, e-mail, braille and cassette tape

Editor: Kathy Larson              klarson@dia.net

 

“Not he who lacks sight, but he who lacks vision is 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 2
Note from the Editor 4
Installing Spring 4
Welcome New NDAB Members 4
Call to Convention 2013 4
NDAB Nominating Committee Report 6
NDAB Participation Incentive Program 6
NDAB Member Reporting Form 7
NDAB Summer Camp 2013 8
Member News from Around the State 9
In Need of Photos 13
Members of our NDAB Family 13
Donations and Memorials 14
We Extend Our Sympathy 14
Candy’s Corner 16
2013 ACB Legislative Seminar Report 17
Blindy.TV 20
Legislative Report Spring 2013 20
National Institutes of Health Resources 23
Travelers Assistance 24
Device Offers Partial Vision for the Blind 25
Fargo Movie Theaters Offer Features 27
Family Adjustment Seminar 29
iCanConnect 30
AccessNote from AFB 30
Article from the Grand Forks Herald 32
2012 ACB Convention Report 33
NDAB February 2013 Board Minutes 35
Words of Wisdom Indeed 38
Wherever You Are  

38

NDAB Leadership Roster 40

 

 

 

Greetings from the President

“Let’s create the future today, together”

I have written this on several occasions since first blessed by your votes when elected as president of NDAB. So, what does it mean? Well, for me it means working as a team towards a common goal, to ensure that NDAB continues to provide valued services, hope, and encouragement for generation of blind and visually impaired individuals for generations to come. This also means generating new ideas, reactivating ideas from our foundation, active participation, growth, and fun. Some of you may have said or have thought, “Teamwork, yes that sounds really good… working for future generations… ok, but now what? How do we create this future?”

“A few pennies”

I have never claimed to have all the answers, I am only here to provide a few pennies worth of my thoughts and I would like to share them with you. First, I think the number one priority is membership. Our membership is shrinking; without members we don’t have an organization and without active members we will lose what our founders and current membership have gained. Our membership is also getting older, our active members are getting older and this too is of concern. I will use myself as an example of what I see “is” happening in NDAB.

I am now 48 years young and I have been a member of NDAB for approximately twenty years, making me 28 at the time. So, what happens in another twenty years, I will be 68, right? Well, my friends although I am 110 percent positive I will still be waking up to the bell at summer camp each morning for our yearly week together, I am not likely to be the spring chicken I used to be at 28, and that hill I love to walk to the flag raising each morning will likely seem much longer. Whether it will be the pain in my back, my shoulders, legs, feet, or just wondering if I will make it too the restroom in time, I am not sure, but, I am sure I am not going to be all that excited to be as active as I was twenty years ago or even as active as I am today.

So, how about you? How active will you be in twenty years? Or, maybe even only ten years? I personally hope that all of you will still be joining me at camp, enjoying Janelle’s reveille wake-up call, Rick’s duck hunt story, the sunsets, the campfires and guitars, the classes, and all the things that make the magic that is NDAB Summer Camp. But realistically, how active will you be? Will you run for president or be on the board and participate in the walk-a-thon? Maybe, maybe not? The fact is folks, we need more members, members of all ages; we need more active members, we need to lower the average age from about sixty, where I believe it is today, to at least fifty. Now the questions become: Where do we find these individuals? What are their interests? What will keep them in the organization?

“Communication”

Once again, I don’t have all the answers, just a few pennies. Communication has always been a means of gathering people together and sharing of information, from the cave man, to the days of Jesus and his teachings, to the famous words of Alexander Gram Bell, “Mr. Watson, come here, I want to see you,” to today’s internet and smart phones. In some form, communication has always been the core to gathering people together, to listen, to learn, and to move forward. Personally, my favorite type of communication is over a hot cup of coffee; there is no form of communication better than a good conversation with an individual over a hot cup of coffee. However, in today’s society many times we are missing that personal interaction; more times than not, a computer or smart phone lies between a person or group of people. Each day I hear of more and more people of all ages utilizing social networks, blogs, chat-rooms, and web addresses to communicate in some way with family and friends. In fact, today it is estimated that over one billion people worldwide use the internet at any given time.

“Right or Wrong”

I strongly believe we need to focus on where people spend their time, and obviously we cannot ignore the fact that millions and billions of people utilize the internet each day, whether it is web sites, blogs, chat-rooms or social networks. To communicate with our target audience, right or wrong, this is where I feel we need to focus more of our efforts. This is not the only form of communication that we need to utilize by any means; sticking to the basics will also be extremely important from handing out our brochures, to talking to Lions clubs, going to the eye clinics, setting up booths, talking to that person on the bus, maybe some radio or TV spots, etc. All these tools are very important in attracting people to NDAB, but when we finally have that person who is blind or visually impaired or their family member’s attention, then we need to pull out the secret weapon! What’s the secret weapon you ask?

“Hot cup of coffee”

Seriously, as a counselor I see people every day that all they are looking for is someone to talk to, someone to have lunch with, a cup of coffee, or soda, and just talk. My point is simple! The tools we use may be a little different but, give those potential new members or their families what they are craving from this crazy world we live in: that personal interaction, meaningful conversation, that hot cup of coffee, and touch their lives. I strongly believe that this is one of NDAB’s biggest strengths. I have shared a conversation and a hot cup of coffee or tea with many of you over the years and you are all wonderful, intelligent, and caring people. I am confident that if you share this with others, you can touch their lives in ways you will never know, and our NDAB family will grow.

Well, those are my few pennies for today. Thank you & God Bless!

Mark Kueffler, President

A Note from the Editor

“Going Green in 2013”

 

August 1st is our goal for the “Going Green in 2013” project, and currently we are fitting a bit better into today’s world of modern technology. The number of print copies of the Promoter is down and the delivery of the newsletter via e-mail is up! Should those of you who have still requested to get the Promoter via hard copy change your mind and want to get it sent electronically, please contact me at klarson@dia.net. Thank you all for your cooperation with this project.

 

I recently received an e-mail with a link to “The Largest Boat Lift in History.” It is a story recognizing unknown heroes from 9-11. Please go to http://www.youtube.com/embed/MDOrzF7B2Kg?rel=0 for a look. The story ends with this: Never go through life saying “I should have.” If you want to do something, do it.

 

 

Installing Spring…

Submitted by Helen Baumgartner

 

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Welcome New NDAB Members

 

NDAB welcomes Whitney and Matthew Engbrecht of Moorhead, Carol Radenz of Williston, and Candace Rivinius of Bismarck to our membership.

 

 

CALL TO CONVENTION 2013

 

You are cordially invited to join together for the 2013 North Dakota Association of the Blind Inc. annual state convention!

 

This year, the NDAB annual state convention will be held at the GuestHouse International Inn and Suites, 710 1st Avenue North, Grand Forks, ND 58203. The dates of this year’s convention are May 31st through June 2nd. “Believe We Can!” is this year’s convention theme.

 

A block of rooms has been reserved for the convention at a rate of $63.00 per night double occupancy, so please be sure to indicate your attendance at the NDAB convention when making your reservations. Please call the GuestHouse International Inn and Suites directly to reserve your room no later than May 15th at 701-746-5411

or toll free 1-800-214-8378.

 

Directions to the GuestHouse International Inn and Suites

 

From Highway 2:  If you are going East on Highway 2, turn right/South onto Columbia Drive. Continue on Columbia Drive until you see University Avenue. Turn left/East onto University Avenue. Take University Avenue to 6th Street North. Turn right/South onto 6th Street North. Turn right onto 1st Avenue North. The GuestHouse International Inn and Suites is on the right/North side of the street.

 

From Interstate 29:  Take the DeMers Avenue exit and drive East on DeMers Avenue. You will travel several miles before going over the overpass near downtown Grand Forks. Immediately following the overpass, turn left/North onto 1st Avenue North.

The GuestHouse International Inn and Suites is on the left/North side of the street.

 

The GuestHouse International Inn and Suites offer amenities such as an indoor swimming pool and miniature golf course. Guests are given a free pass to the local YMCA, just a short walk away. Muddy Rivers Restaurant and Lounge are on the premises and offer a full service breakfast, lunch and dinner. The lounge has pool tables and on site gambling.

 

The GuestHouse International Inn and Suites is located within walking distance to downtown restaurants, shops, and the transit center where Jefferson Lines and city buses are available.

 

Conventioneers can look forward to a great weekend in Grand Forks! Attendees will have the opportunity to reconnect with friends from around the state and meet new ones! Attendees can browse the vendor room to learn about products and services of interest. There is work to be done and fun to be had, so let’s all get together and “Believe We Can!”

 

Friday evening, attendees will be transported to Vision Services/School for the Blind for a picnic, tour of the school and technology demonstrations. In addition, entertainment will be provided by Natasha Thomas, the school’s music therapist!

 

On Saturday morning a panel discussion and brainstorming session on bringing people together through the telephone and electronic means is planned. Join Allan Peterson-ACB national and NDAB Board member, as well as NDAB’s Advocacy Committee Chairman for a legislative luncheon.

 

The annual NDAB banquet and award ceremony will take place on Saturday evening along with guest speaker Beth Bakke Stenehjem!

 

We will all join together on Sunday morning for a memorial service and wrap up of convention business with the NDAB Board of Directors.

 

Members have received registration packets in their format of choice.

 

Registration forms can be submitted either via email, phone or large print. To register via email, complete your registration form and send to Sherry at: sherrybeth7@gmail.com.

 

To register by phone call Jesse or Sherry at 701-540-6356.

 

To register by mail, send your completed large print registration form and mail with your check in the self-addressed envelope. Registration and payment must be received no later than May 15, 2013.

 

Regardless of preferred registration submission, checks must be mailed in the self-addressed envelope, and received no later than May 15, 2013. You can identify the self-addressed envelope by the tri-fold. A stamp is required.

For any questions about registration, please do not hesitate to call 701-540-6356.

 

We look forward to spending the 2013 NDAB annual state convention with you!

 

Sincerely,

Jesse Shirek, Chairman

NDAB 2013 Convention Planning Committee

 

 

NDAB Nominating Committee Report

 

We will soon be together in Grand Forks at our annual NDAB Convention where we will conduct the business of our organization. The positions to be filled this year include one member of the board of directors, Promoter editor, and ACB delegate and alternate to the ACB Convention to be held in Las Vegas in 2014. The list of possible candidates is as follows: Mary Stip and Kathryn Schmidt – member of the board of directors, Kathy Larson – editor, and as of yet no candidate for ACB delegate. If you are interested in running for any of the positions, please contact Nominating Committee Chairperson Paula Anundson at 490-0888. We look forward to seeing you in Grand Forks.

 

NDAB Participation Incentive Program

This is a reminder that on October 13, 2012, the board approved the NDAB Member Participation Incentive Program.  This is an exciting opportunity for you as a member to make a real difference in your organization and earn recognition too!

If you haven’t started earning points yet, it’s not too late.  You have until May 24th to earn points and report them to be in the running for the awards and prizes.   You could be the first to win the NDAB Participation Program Award.

The incentive program is quite simple and focuses on three of NDAB’s priority areas: 1) Increase Participation at NDAB events, 2) Membership Growth and 3) Increased Fundraising.  It is a fun way to guarantee that NDAB will continue to positively change the lives of people who are blind or visually impaired.  You can make a difference!

Rules

  • New members signing up at Camp andFamily Adjustment Seminar do not count towards membership points
  • Board members are disqualified from participating in Incentive Program.
  • To be considered for awards and prizes you must complete Participation Report with points earned and submit prior to May 24th.

 

Prizes

  • First Prize for the most points – 1 night at convention or $100
  • Second Prize – $50
  • Third Prize – $25

 

The reporting form may be found on the next page, on the website or by requesting one from Membership Chair, Zelda Gebhard 8169 66th St SE, Edgeley, ND  58433, phone 701-493-2399. After you have filled out your form, mail to Zelda at the above address before May 24th.

 

——————————————-

 

NDAB Participation Incentive Program

Member Report 2012-2013

Walk-a-thon

____I participated in an NDAB walk-a-thon (5 points)

People I brought to the walk-a-thon (1 point each)

___________________________, ___________________________, ___________________________, ___________________________

Membership

New members I sponsored (5 points each)

___________________________,  ___________________________,

___________________________,  ___________________________

(Sponsorship of 3 new members = 1 free year of membership to NDAB)

Member I sponsored last year who renewed membership this year (10 points)

____________________________

Sponsored member who attended NDAB event (5 points each)

____________________________ Camp___ Convention___ Walk-a-thon___

____________________________ Camp___ Convention___ Walk-a-thon___

Fundraising

Amount raised $____________ ($50-100 5 points, each additional $100 5 points)

 

Reporting Member___________________________________

Total Points Reported __________

 

 

——————————————-

 

 

 

 

 

 

NDAB Summer Camp 2013

 

Plans for our 43rd annual NDAB Summer Camp which is held at the Elks Camp Grassick are well underway! Camp dates are August 11-18. The Friday night banquet, planned by Kathryn Schmidt from West Fargo, will be centered on a western theme. If you know of anyone who might be eligible to attend camp, please give the camp directors their names and contact information.

 

Below are the camp guidelines.

 

NDAB SUMMER CAMP GUIDELINES

 

PURPOSE

  1. To provide an opportunity for persons who are visually impaired to come in contact with persons with similar impairments and share a common concern.
  2. To help in the process of adjusting to blindness.
  3. To provide an opportunity to learn new skills, techniques, and leisure time activities to enhance the quality of life.

 

ELIGIBILITY

  1. Must be at least 18 years of age with vision loss as the primary disability.
  2. Must be capable of participating in the program set-up for camp.
  3. Must be able to care for ones personal needs including bathing, dressing, eating, etc.
  4. Must be physically able to get oneself around the camp grounds, with the exclusion of difficulty with mobility due to vision loss.
  5. Must be cooperative and demonstrate willingness to abide by the regulations of camp.
  6. Alcoholic beverages and/or unauthorized drugs are not allowed on the camp grounds. Any violators will be promptly sent home at their own expense.
  7. All campers must remain overnight at camp.
  8. Campers must attend the entire week of camp unless other arrangements have been made with the co-camp directors, or a situation arises, such as an illness or a family emergency.
  9. Participants must notify one of the directors if leaving the campus for any reason.
  10. Must demonstrate respect for authority.
  11. Must display consideration for fellow campers.

 

Geographical Eligibility Guidelines

  1. Any adult who is visually impaired and not a North Dakota resident but is attending a North Dakota college or university will be eligible to attend the NDAB Summer Camp at no cost.
  2. One member of ACB leadership will be eligible to attend the NDAB Summer Camp annually as a camper at no cost.
  3. Any adult who is visually impaired and who lives in another state other than North Dakota could attend camp but must pay for their room and board, which is set by the Elks Camp Grassick Director. At this time, the cost is $250. Any adult who is visually impaired and lives in a border town may attend at no cost.  Border towns include East Grand Forks, Moorhead, Breckenridge and West Fairview.
  4. Camp capacity, which is set by the Elks Camp Grassick Director, is 60 people. Residents of North Dakota would be given preference to out of state campers if the camp capacity were reached.
  5. Any member of NDAB who moved out of state but continued to pay their annual dues would be eligible to attend camp at no cost.

 

Submitted by Loris Van Berkom & Rick Feldman, Co-Camp Directors

 

 

Member News From Around the State

 

From Bob Vandal: Due to computer problems, there is no Bismarck news for this issue.

 

Fargo News by Shereen Faber

 

Ho Ho Ho everyone. Oh, I guess it is April; with all this snow lately I thought it might be December. I think there were too many people who prayed for a slow thaw, but, dear Lord, we didn’t pray for more snow.

Fargo would like to welcome Jesse and Sherry to our community hoping they are finding Fargo a comfortable setting. I know they have taken in a few plays and concerts.

Speaking of plays, we had “Forever Plaid” in February which has been my personal all-time favorite for this season. In March we had the classic “Bus Stop” which was a lot of fun because those of us who use audio description had a stage tour. In April we saw “Gypsy” which was a musical and the true life story of Gypsy Rose Lee.

Some of our theaters in Fargo have a descriptive narration service. So far I have been to five movies that offer this service and it has been absolutely fabulous. Hope that this is coming to your theaters soon, and don’t miss the chance of using it.

Missy and Clint Miller went to Orlando the end of April. They spent their anniversary at the place that they love, Disney World.

We give our sympathy to Rick Feldman on the passing of his mother, Mabel. We know that this a very tough time, Rick, but know you are in our thoughts and prayers. She sounded like one great lady!

Everyone else here in Fargo is doing just fine. Hope to see many of you in Grand Forks at our NDAB convention. .

Grand Forks News

Submitted by Ruth Phalen

 

Another storm? – Another storm? – Another storm? But it’s spring!!!! All of us are anxious for some nice weather when we can go out without a heavy coat and can walk without fear of slipping on the ice. I finally got away for a short trip that was planned for mid-March.

 

I hope all of you had a beautiful Easter with inspiring church services followed by family gatherings. It was cool, but not bad, and I had family here to visit and had a good day. Now we should be ready for conventions, graduations, weddings, gardens, time at the lake, and summer vacation.

 

Preparations for the convention are in full swing. Jesse Shirek and Sherry DeFrancesco are doing the lion’s share of the planning and work but we all know there will be plenty to do to have the wonderful convention we have planned. I am looking forward to seeing many of you again.

 

It was so good to talk to Olga Neal and hear her voice sounding strong, and she told me she was feeling good again and would be able to join us for all of the convention. I also understand Rom Thielman is doing fine and had little trouble following a knee replacement. Many of us had bouts with colds and flu during the winter that took weeks to get over – another reason we need warm weather.

 

Our senior support group continues to meet. Most of us have been coming for several years and a few of us eat together before the meetings so it has become a close knit group led by Tracy Wicken. In February we had Elaine Legg, the Talking Book specialist from ND Vision Services/School for the Blind. Several members had problems that were discussed and machines to be fixed so it was beneficial to everyone to get the help to fully utilize this valuable service.

 

In March we played a game like “Twenty Questions.” Tracy had prepared questions and we found in answering the questions that we really didn’t know much about each other.

 

I’ve just come from the April program. Barry Wilfahart, president and CEO of the Grand Forks Chamber of Commerce spoke about what is going on in Grand Forks and heard about the major projects the Chamber was pursuing. There are many issues that are very political and must be handled delicately to be accomplished – they would all be good for Grand Forks.

 

Our next contact should be here in Grand Forks when we meet for convention. Come prepared to enjoy yourselves.

 

Minot News by Doug and Mary Stip

Evelyn Hildebrand reports she is busy at the AARP tax office helping people file their returns. She also attended an event at the Knights of Columbus where she was presented a check for NDAB for $500.00. She said there were many questions about how the money would be used. Visiting with the legislators in Minot and Bismarck has been interesting.

 

The North Dakota State Fair Parade is July 20th. Let us know if you’ll be here to ride the float and attend the fair.

WDA (Western Dakota Association) track meets have been great but the weather has called for parkas and other warm clothes.

The calendar says spring, but lately, outdoor conditions seem more like the old Ella Fitzgerald song “Spring Will Be A Little Late This Year.” Indeed, where is our April? The bulk of our snow fell late and now they’re bringing up the possibility of that dirty five-letter word.

Even high-school baseball teams have had trouble getting their games in because of unplayable fields conditions. Rumor has it some of the pitchers are experimenting with a new pitch. It’s called a snowball.

There hasn’t been much news here. The people we talked to all reported having a nice Easter with family and friends.

We’re looking forward to seeing you all at the convention in Grand Forks May 31st.

 

Williston Wanderings Spring 2013

Submitted by Loris Van Berkom

 

As I sit down to write, we are experiencing anything but “spring!” Old Man Winter doesn’t seem to want to give up his grip on the cold, snowy weather. The sun has a lot of power and the days are getting longer but the thermometer is still hanging on to extremely low temps. Hopefully, the green grass and balmy temps are just around the corner!

 

Our vision support group continues to meet the second Saturday of each month at noon at Gramma Sharon’s Family Restaurant for a no-host luncheon. We have some very faithful members who always attend and are eager to share any new information related to vision loss. It’s just a great time of fellowship and breaking bread together.

 

Carol Scallon is thoroughly enjoying her kindergarten students this year and will be sad when this school year ends and she must pass them on the first grade. She and her family traveled to Edgeley to spend Easter with her husband’s family. On May 28th, Carol, her daughter, her sister and brother-in-law and their father will be flying to Europe where they will spend two weeks visiting Germany, France and Norway. Carol’s dad, a World War II veteran, instigated and funded the trip. He wanted to return to Germany and France where he spent many months during the war. They will visit relatives in Norway before they return to the US. Less than a week later, Carol’s family will travel to California where her daughter will be a flower girl in her cousin’s wedding. We wish them safe travels.

 

Brenda Bruins and a friend have a weekend trip to Minot planned to celebrate her May birthday. A family reunion on her mother’s side will be held in White Fish, Montana, and the last weekend in June which her entire family will attend. They will return home in time to take in the centennial activities in their hometown, Arnegard.

 

Linda Oyloe keeps busy occasionally subbing in area schools and working in her sister’s boutique, The Cedar chest. She keeps an eye on the snow bank that previously had her entire clothes line buried and measures the melting process by how many lines are now showing.

 

Susan Jorgenson and her seven siblings along with their families spent the second weekend in April with their mother, Jeanette Kjorstad, celebrating her 90th birthday. She had fallen a year ago which precipitated her move from her apartment into the nursing home. Susan spends a lot of time helping her mother. Susan is also involved with the Kogudus Renewal Ministry, a prison ministry that takes place twice a year. Kogudus is an Estonian word meaning Christian fellowship. She recently took part in a Kogudus Retreat at a prison in Jamestown.

 

Sheryl and Dan Gerhardt Returned back home on April 9th after spending four months with their oldest son and his family in Kentucky. They experienced Kentucky’s cold, rainy winter rather than our cold, snowy winter. They cherish the time they spent with Daniel, their youngest grandson. We are happy to have them back in Williston again!

 

Janelle Olson, a twenty-nine year employee of the North Dakota Protection and Advocacy Project, will be relocating her office shortly. The office space that they currently lease has been sold and will be turned into a sushi bar. This will be the fifth location since she started her job. They were fortunate to find suitable space in the same building that she started in almost 30 years ago.

 

Kathy Larson has been spring cleaning with the assistance of her little helper, four year old granddaughter, Kaia, or perhaps, she gets more done while Kaia is napping. She is very happy to report that Stan had an excellent check-up, almost one year after his heart attack. Kathy has been involved in the planning of her 50th class reunion which will be held the second weekend of July. Both Kathy and Karlyn graduated from Dakota Lutheran Academy in Minot. One of their classmates from the Harvey area who was going to host the Saturday gathering just lost his battle with cancer. I guess the lesson we can all learn is to live each day as if it were our last.

 

I traveled to the Orlando area to spend five days during the Easter holiday with my son and his family. We spent three days sight-seeing in St. Augustine, the oldest continuously inhabited city in the United States. I drank from the Fountain of Youth so I’m sure that many of you will not recognize me the next time you see me. The highlight for me besides sharing quality time with my three grandkids was climbing the 219 stairs to the top of a lighthouse. After fretting about which of my summer outfits to pack for sunny Florida, I ended up wearing long pants, long sleeves and shoes and socks every day but one because the cold weather followed me there.

 

I hope to see many of you at our state convention. As a member of NDAB, it is your privilege and duty to be a part of the business of our organization.

 

In closing, here are some words from Audrey Hepburn:

For attractive lips, speak words of kindness.

For lovely eyes, seek out the good in people.

For a slim figure, share your food with the hungry.

For beautiful hair, let a child run his or her fingers through it once a day.

For poise, walk with the knowledge that you’ll never walk alone.

 

 

In Need of Photos

 

Denise Kirsch requests pictures of the 2011 and 2012 NDAB State Conventions and the 2011 and 2012 Summer Camps. Please have the backs of the pictures labeled as to what event and year each picture represents.

 

Please send to: Denise Kirsch, 1934 N 16th St Unit 3, Bismarck ND  58501. She is looking forward to receiving photos of the above. Thank you.

 

 

Members of our NDAB Family

 

On behalf of NDAB, we extend to Dennis Nez and his family our sympathy on the loss of his 42-year old daughter Denise Nez-Wells. They spent four weeks at the Cancer Center in Phoenix, Arizona, before flying her home for one day. She was admitted to Trinity Hospital in Minot for one day and passed away on February 14 after a battle with breast cancer. You may contact Dennis at 898-0251 or send a card to him at 106 1st St NW, Parshall ND  58770.

 

Dave Sundeen spent a few days at Mayo Clinic after Easter, and at the time of this writing, he is scheduled to have further procedures done in Fargo and Sioux Falls, South Dakota, for surgery to remove a cancerous growth in his right nostril. If you would like to send him a card, his address is 310 DUNSMOORE AVE, #1, BUXTON, ND  58218. He will appreciate your thoughts and prayers.

 

Becky Monroe has been dealing with lower back pain and unable to stand for any length of time due to the pain. Doctors discovered a large cyst on the upper part of her right kidney; the cyst was drained and they are waiting for the pathology report. Please keep her in your thoughts and prayers. She loves hearing from her NDAB friends. You can call her at (406) 453-0822 or send a note to her at 1801 2 Ave N, Great Falls MT  59401.

 

On a happier note… Congratulations to Dan Mimnaugh on the birth of new grandson Nathan Daniel and parents Lori and Mike Strom. Baby Nathan arrived on March 17 weighing 7 lbs 13 oz and 21 inches. I bet if we ask, Grandpa Dan just might share some cute “baby and Gramps” pictures with us at camp this summer, and I’m sure he’ll have some “bragging” stories as well!

 

 

Donations and Memorials

 

NDAB graciously accepts any donations and memorials to the organization. Since the last quarterly issue of the Promoter, we have received the following:

Donations totaling $301 from Kathy Mission, Hazen Community Chest and the Boeing Company

Memorials totaling $130 from Melissa Miller, Grant Baker and Janice Baker in memory of Carol Baker; Allan and Judy Peterson and Myrtle Lima in memory of Jacob Lima.

 

If you are interested in donating to NDAB, you may send your contribution to: Helen Baumgartner, 402 12th Ave NW, Mandan ND  58554. Thank you.

 

 

We Extend Our Sympathy

 

NDAB has lost two more of our members, and we extend sympathy to the families of Jake Lima and Mabel Feldman.

 

Jacob David Lima was born April 13, 1921, in Hannaford, ND, to Arne and Karoline (Vormedal) Lima. Jacob was raised in the Cooperstown, ND, area. He attended two years of high school at Hillcrest Academy in Fergus Falls, MN, and graduated fromCooperstown High School in 1940.

 

Jacob married Myrtle Helland on August 8, 1942, in Valley City, ND, and they made their home on his family farm in the Cooperstown area. Jacob served in the US Army for a time. Upon his discharge, they made their home in Fargo, ND, where Jacob learned the skills of the heating industry. He worked as a furnace technician for Robert Gibb and Sons for many years until he retired.

 

Jacob was a member of Primetimers, had a love for travel with Myrtle, and enjoyed woodworking.

 

Jacob died Wednesday, January 23, 2013, at Villa Maria, Fargo, at ninety-one years of age, under the care of Hospice of the Red River Valley.

 

He is survived by his wife of over seventy years, Myrtle; daughter, Joyce (Robert) Braaten, Two Harbors, MN; son, Jerome (Claudia), Fargo; five grandchildren, Bobbi Jo (Dan) Larson, Keith Braaten, and Wade Braaten, all of Two Harbors, and Jodie and Tamara Lima, both of Fargo; four great-grandchildren, Jenni (Nick) Patterson, Duluth, MN, Alan Larson, Two Harbors, and Diandra Knapper and Dalton Knapper, both of Fargo.

 

 

 

Mabel A. Feldman, 84, surrounded by her children, passed away peacefully on April 12, 2013 in Detroit Lakes, MN where she has resided since 2006.

 

Mabel Ann Middleton was born August 11, 1928 in Unity, Saskatchewan, Canada. She was youngest of six children born to Joseph and Emma (Ottem) Middleton. She spent her youth in Unity, moving to Pembina, ND when she was a senior in high school, graduating in 1945. After graduation, Mabel attended Business College and began working for the government in Pembina. When the television station KCND came to Pembina, Mabel was the manager for fifteen years. When the station closed, Mabel began to work again for the government in Noyes, MN for U.S. Customs Patrol and in Pembina at the District Office. Mabel retired in 1995. Mabel married Melvin Francis Feldman in the United Methodist Church in Pembina, ND in 1952. They lived in St. Paul, MN for a few years, moving back to Pembina to raise their children. Mabel was active in her church as a Sunday school teacher, member of United Methodist Women, and served as the secretary for many years. She was also active in the Pembina Historical Society and Eastern Star. Mabel was known for her baking, especially her pie-making skills. She willingly shared of her time and talent with her family, her church, and her community. She loved the Minnesota Twins, cats, and angel pins. She believed in living a life of service and looked for ways each day to bring joy to others. Mabel loved her Bible, her faith and her family. Mabel was preceded in death by her husband and her siblings. She is survived by her three children: Richard (Charlotte), Fargo, ND; Kathryn (Jack) Misson, Detroit Lakes, MN and John (Nancy) of Pembina, ND; six grandchildren, four great-grandchildren and many nieces, nephews and cousins.

 

 

 

Candy’s Corner

I’d like to tell you about a new little device that I recently purchased called the “Rainbow Color Reader.” At only 2.2 inches wide by 2.8 inches long by .95 inches thick, it can easily be carried in a pocket or purse. It detects a total of 40 different colors, and can also be used as a light detector. It has its limitations, as do all color identifiers that I have tried, but at only $85.00 plus $10.00 shipping, it is the least expensive such device I know of. It works great on clothing and in detecting the color of skeins of yarn, for all you crafters out there. It also features two volume settings. Problems occur with plush items, such as stuffed animals; sheer fabrics; and print fabrics, but this is true with other color identifiers as well. The Rainbow Color Reader can be purchased directly from the manufacturer:

Edmondson Engineering

13887 Panorama Dr.
Desert Hot Springs, CA 92240

Phone:  877-219-9286

Web site: www.edmondsonengineering.com

Are you wondering about Unified English Braille? What makes it different from English Braille American Edition, the code we’ve been using for so many years? In the fall of 2012, the Braille Authority of North America adopted Unified English Braille for use in the United States, the last English-speaking country in the world to do so. A plan for implementing UEb is forthcoming, but it is believed that it will be implemented gradually and as painlessly as possible. Reports from Australia, where the UEb has already been implemented, are that the process went very smoothly and was less traumatic than many people had feared it would be.

The major changes in UEB include the dropping of nine signs: to, into, by, ble, dd, com, ation, ally, and o’clock. Also, some of the rules for contraction use will be simplified. The Nemeth Code and Music Braille will not be affected. Why make these changes, you may ask. I wondered the same thing until I attended a presentation by BANA board members at the Getting in Touch with Literacy conference in Louisville, KY, in December of 2011. The most important reason was to simplify back translation. “Back translation” refers to translating braille into print. More and more students and adults are using portable electronic devices to create braille documents. These documents are usually translated from braille into print before submitting to a teacher or colleague, etc. When the meaning of a particular braille sign can vary depending upon its location in a word or sentence, this complicates back translation. Simplifying some of the rules of braille usage is an attempt to make learning to use braille easier and les complex. I will keep you updated on how and when the implementation of UEB will occur in the United States, or you can find out more by visiting the BANA web site at www.brailleauthority.org

 

 

 

 

2013 American Council of the Blind Legislative Seminar Report

By Allan Peterson and Zelda Gebhard

 

It can be said without equivocation that one of the most important functions that, we as an organization can do to help our brethren who are affected by a loss of sight, is to advocate for those policies which are beneficial to anyone among us who is blind or has a visual impairment.

 

To this end, it is well documented, that the best way to influence policymakers is to have their constituents advocate directly on a one-to-one basis with those who represent them in local, state and federal governments. This is the idea that best exemplifies why the American Council of the Blind conducts its Legislative Seminars annually in our nation’s Capital and are scheduled so that they are held close to the time when sessions of congress begin their work.

 

And this is why we, from the various state ACB affiliates, once again gathered for this year’s ACB Legislative Seminar on Sunday, February 24 at the Airport Holiday Inn in Arlington, Virginia. The seminar concluded as it always does on Tuesday, February 26 by making those most important visits with lawmakers on Capitol Hill.

 

Because ACB’s Winter Board meetings precede the Legislative Seminar and I’m currently one of its board members, I made the trip out to Washington D.C. earlier on February 21st so that I would be on hand for the board meeting on February 22. Readers note: Any extra costs related to attending the ACB Board meeting are not charged as an expense to NDAB.

 

Sandwiched between the board meeting and the seminar was the midyear affiliate president’s meeting. All in all, it was 4 days of meetings which were then followed by a very full day of meetings with legislators on Capitol Hill! Know that I’m not whining about this commitment, I found it to be, as usual, a lot of fun!

 

Our North Dakota Association of the Blind contingent at this year’s ACB Seminar included NDAB Legislative Liaisons, Zelda Gebhard and Allan Peterson, and NDAB Board Member Donna Hepper – (Donna made the trip at her own expense).

 

When we made our visits on Capitol Hill, our advocacy was directed to promote two particular legislative priorities. The first of these priorities is what is called the “low Vision Device Exclusion” rule. The genesis of this issue came to fore, when in November of 2008, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) instituted a regulation called the “Low Vision Aid Exclusion” rule; this regulation states that all devices, “irrespective of their size, form, or technological features that use one or more lens to aid vision or provide magnification of images for impaired vision” are to be excluded from Medicare coverage based on the statutory “eyeglass” exclusion rule.

 

Put more simply, the eyeglass” exclusion rule refers to the fact that health care coverage through Medicare doesn’t include payment for eyeglasses; and, when this exclusion rule was instituted in November of 2008, it expanded the exclusion rule to include any assistive device that incorporates “one or more lens” to aid in a person’s vision. The expansion of the eyeglass exclusion rule has meant that Medicare coverage is denied for devices such as hand-held magnifiers, video monitors, and other technologies that utilize lenses to enhance vision. As we know these tools are often essential for individuals with low vision who, without the aid of these devices, cannot read prescriptions, medicine bottles, and other important materials containing content that is vital to their personal health and safety.

 

The legislative remedy that ACB is promoting to address the expansion of the eyeglass exclusion rule is to urge congress to introduce and pass the Medicare Demonstration of Coverage for Low Vision Devices Act of 2013. This legislation would evaluate, through a five-year national demonstration project administered by the Department of Health and Human Services, the fiscal impact of a permanent change to the Social Security Act. This, legislation when it is enacted, would allow reimbursement for certain low vision devices that cost five-hundred dollars or more to be covered under Medicare as durable medical equipment.

 

The second legislative priority, that we addressed when we made our visits on Capitol Hill, is a model piece of legislation referred to as the Ann Sullivan Macy Act. Many of you will recognize Ann Sullivan Macy as the teacher, who was so very instrumental in helping Helen Keller become successful in pursuing her career and in helping Helen to deal with her loss of sight and hearing.

 

Current standards for the education of all children with disabilities was passed into public law by enactment of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) in 1975. This law has revolutionized educational opportunities for all children and youth with disabilities. However, Educators and leaders in the community of persons with sight loss, recognize that without some key improvements in this law, our national special education system cannot fully keep IDEA’s promise of a truly appropriate education for students who are blind or visually impaired. The Anne Sullivan Macy Act is intended to do just that, to improve the delivery of appropriate special education and related services to all students who are blind or visually impaired, including students who may have additional disabilities. Once the provisions of the Macy bill are enacted, the legislation will ensure that properly designed and individually tailored services are in fact, provided to meet the unique learning needs of students who are blind or visually impaired  and that the educators who serve them are well prepared and supported to do their jobs,.

 

The strategy ACB is pursuing with regard to the Macy bill is that during the next two years, the 113th U.S. Congress, may review and amend IDEA as part of congress’s periodic reauthorization of the law. The Anne Sullivan Macy Act can be passed by congress at any time in advance of IDEA reauthorization, or it can be incorporated, in whole or in part, into the reauthorization of this law itself. In either case, the Macy Act represents our unified voice in support of the much-needed improvements we are seeking in IDEA.

 

The presentations made during the seminar, not only gave us the background to make the case for these legislative priorities when we made our visits on Capitol Hill but, it also included a hilarious skit by Eric Bridges and Mark Richert on how not to conduct oneself when making a visit with a member of congress. Of course, they followed that demonstration up with one on how one should actually make a proper visit with a member of congress.

 

During the seminar, we were also given updates on ACB’s accessible prescription drug labeling initiative which was one of last year’s legislative priorities; this initiative was incorporated in full into the Food and Drug Safety Act of 2012, which was passed by congress last year. We were also given an update on progress on the implementation of the 20th Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2010. The work to actually make the legislation, that is passed do what the law intended, becomes involved in the rule making process which involves stakeholders that are affected by the legislation. So for better or worse, our advocacy work never seems to end!

 

The visits on Capitol Hill typically last about 20 to 30 minutes and are with one or two staff people in the office who have been assigned to research and advise the member of congress on issue areas in which the staffer has knowledge and expertise. Most often, we are assigned to meet with the staff person that is responsible for researching health care policy initiatives.

 

We not only made those important visits to the Washington offices of our North Dakota congressional delegation which now includes, Senators Heitkamp and Hoeven and Congressman Kramer but, because no one from Montana or South Dakota could attend the seminar, we made visits to those state delegations as well. The rationale for making visits to the neighboring state members of congress follows the reasoning that legislators in those states are also often very influential in the decision making process on Capitol Hill. In particular, Senator Baucus from Montana is recognized as one of the most influential members of congress because he is the chair of the senate finance committee.

 

I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again, I believe that making each of these visits is very important not only in the fact that they help advance the issues we are advocating for in the offices on Capitol Hill, but also have helped to create a greater awareness and appreciation for the advocacy work that NDAB and ACB does on behalf of people who are blind and visually impaired. I believe that our investment in attending the seminar is important to NDAB in many respects; not only does it give us the opportunity to advocate for our current legislative initiatives but it is important in the respect that it builds ongoing relationships with our elected leaders and the people who staff their offices in Washington, D.C. These relationships have proven to be beneficial, not only as they have in the past and present, but will in the future when consideration of some other legislative policy matters takes center stage.

 

Finally, I want to thank NDAB for the privilege of helping represent its interests at the 2013 ACB Legislative Seminar! It was, as usual, lot of work but also great fun!

 

 

Blindy.TV

 

Blindy.TV is a charitable project created by blind people that believe that the blind should be able to enjoy the same television programming that entertains and contributes to the shared culture of their sighted family and friends. They contribute freely of their time and resources to provide a free described television programming service to those that are served by neither commercial products nor government programs. The current service provides a few channels of audio-only television programming, in several genres, all with audio description.

 

Note from the editor: To see what is “Now Playing on Blindy.TV” go to http://blindy.tv/ where you will find a list of various programs you can look at. When I checked out the site, I chose Comedy where an old episode of “I Love Lucy” was playing. Rather entertaining…

 

Legislative Report Spring 2013

By Allan Peterson

 

At this point, the 63rd North Dakota Legislative Assembly has been meeting for sixty-four days, which means they are getting close to the end of the session because they are limited by the state constitution to do their work in 80 days. Some cynics say that it’s a good thing that they are limited to the 80 days, so the damage they can do is limited! Rightfully, their work is very important and should be judged as to whether they have somehow succeeded in advancing the state’s future and the lives of its citizens. And those opinions in that regard, my friends, are in the eyes of the beholder.

 

At this point in the session, the legislature is, in what some euphuistically refer to in hockey terms, as the third quarter of the session. Almost all of the legislation on policy decisions have been dealt with and have been either passed or defeated. The third quarter (so to speak, in the hockey reference) is when conference committees meet to iron out differences between senate and house versions of bills; conference committees are composed of equal numbers of senate and house members. When decisions have finally been agreed upon in conference committee, they then have to be passed by both chambers of the legislature.

 

At this point, major decisions, yet to be made, are in regard to how the budget is to be allocated for the next biennium. They have a projected state government income figure for the next biennium. And, because they won’t “deficit” spend; even though they have a huge state surplus, they are trying to reach a consensus on how to fit state spending so that it will be balanced or somewhat lower than their projected income figure. This is, however in flux because they haven’t yet decided on the amount of the income and corporate tax reductions they want to make; the senate and house are presently quite far apart on the amount of that reduction.

 

As I’ve shared herein, the legislature has the primary responsibility to authorize the spending budgets for the agencies and departments of state government for the next biennium. Included among those budgets is the budget for the Older Blind Program that is administrated by Vocational Rehabilitation within the Department of Human Services.

 

As many of you are aware, one of our NDAB resolutions that was adopted at last summer’s Convention sought to increase the state appropriation for the Older Blind Program to $150,000 for the next biennium. Although we sought to have the governor’s support for this level of state funding, there was no increase for the Older Blind Program in the budget that his office sent to the legislature at the beginning of the session.

Because there was no increase in the governor’s budget, the opportunity that remained for us to achieve this goal was to advocate for it among legislators and testify in support of the Older Blind Program when committee hearings were held at the Capitol. It was to this end that Zelda and I testified in support of the increased appropriation for the Older Blind Program when public testimony was permitted for it at the full Senate Appropriations Committee hearing on March 12.

 

As some of you may be aware, there has been a fair amount of grassroots advocacy that has gone into our work to increase the appropriation for the Older Blind Program. There are many who need to be acknowledged and thanked for this effort, chief among them is Steven Gebhard, who on the morning of March 12, drove us to Bismarck so that Zelda and I would have the opportunity to testify at the Senate Appropriations Committee hearing that morning. The roads on that morning were, to say the least, not in good shape so we, more or less, skated all the way to the Capitol in Bismarck.

 

Earlier during this session, Zelda, with assistance from Donna Hepper, testified in support of increasing the Older Blind Program appropriation when this bill was first heard by the House Appropriations Committee. To make a much longer story short, when the House Appropriations Committee met to make their decisions on how much they would allocate for the various programs in the Human Service budget, they voted to amend the appropriation for the Older Blind Program to allot $50,000 for its operation during the next biennium – this was $100,000 less than we had requested in our resolution of last summer.

 

Because both chambers of the legislature hear all of the appropriations bills, we later had the opportunity to advocate for a greater appropriation for the Older Blind Program on the senate side of the legislature on that morning of March 12. Presently, we are hopeful that the senate and the legislature as a whole will grant a larger appropriation for the program but, for the reasons I’ve stated previously, at this point in time, we really don’t know the final outcome because spending or appropriations bills are among the very last things that the legislature will come to agreement upon. Whatever the outcome may be, a huge thank you has to be given to everyone who has been involved in this advocacy effort!

 

With regard to the state appropriation that is to be granted to North Dakota Vision Services / School for the Blind, the governor’s budget for the operation of this service for the next biennium was in line with the amount that the school had requested. As is required of all state supported entities, the Appropriation Committees in both the North Dakota Senate and House of Representatives held hearings during the session to go over the budget request for NDVS/SB. In this regard, the advocacy I’ve provided on behalf of the school’s appropriation request, thus far, has included written testimony to both the House and Senate Appropriations Committees; the testimony also included the resolution that we adopted at last summer’s NDAB Convention in support of the school’s budget request. FYI: The appropriation for NDVS/SB is contained within the budget of the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) but for budgetary purposes it is considered as a separate entity onto itself.

 

Pursuant to last summer’s Convention resolution on transit services, we did make a very concerted effort during this legislative session to advocate for an increased appropriation for those services in North Dakota. By directive, the state allocates 1.5% of its transportation budget for transit services; this allotment is shared on the basis of relative size by all public transit service providers that operate in North Dakota. The majority of the transportation budget, as you might guess, is for building and maintaining state highways, roads and bridges.

 

Based upon the 1.5% directive, the state revenue projections for transit services would be approximately $8.25 million for this next biennium. Realizing that demand for transit services is increasing and becoming more costly, the North Dakota coalition of public transit providers, prior to this legislative session, voted to advocate for a guaranteed $10 million appropriation for transit services from the state for the next biennium. Earlier in the session, when the Senate Appropriations Committee considered the transportation bill for the upcoming biennium, they did amend this appropriation bill so that it would guarantee the $10 million for transit services. I’ve just learned that the house has upheld this amendment. But, of course, the fat lady hasn’t sung yet – meaning that nothing is for sure until the session is over.

 

Just to let you know, I’ve made a very concerted effort to keep abreast of any legislation that affects people with disabilities during this session and will try to offer a more comprehensive report on legislative outcomes on disability issues in the next edition of the Promoter.

 

 

National Institutes of Health Resources

NIH resources help growing number of Americans with vision loss

 

A 20-page large-print booklet and a series of videos to help people adapt to life with low vision are available from the National Eye Institute (NEI), a part of the National Institutes of Health. The materials were released during Low Vision Awareness Month, February 2013.

 

The booklet, Living with Low Vision: What you should know, urges people with low vision to seek help from a low vision specialist and provides tips to maximize remaining eyesight, enabling them to safely enjoy a productive and rewarding life. The videos feature patient stories about living with low vision. Another video, targeted to health care professionals, emphasizes the importance of informing patients with vision loss about vision rehabilitation services. The booklet and the videos were developed by the NEI National Eye Health Education Program (NEHEP).

 

Low vision means that even with regular glasses, contact lenses, medicine, or surgery, people find everyday tasks difficult to do. Reading the mail, shopping, cooking, and writing can seem challenging. The chief causes of vision loss in older people are age-related macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, cataract, and glaucoma. Among younger Americans, low vision is most often caused by inherited eye conditions, infectious and autoimmune eye disease, or trauma.

 

A 2012 report cosponsored by the National Institutes of Health estimates that 2.9 million Americans are living with low vision. The number is projected to increase 72 percent by 2030 when the last of the baby boomers turn 65. Most people with low vision are 65 years old or older.

 

“I encourage anyone with low vision to seek guidance about vision rehabilitation from a low vision specialist,” said NEI Director Paul A.

Sieving, M.D., Ph.D.  “For many people, vision rehabilitation can improve daily living and overall quality of life.”

 

A low vision specialist is an ophthalmologist or optometrist who specializes in the care of patients with low vision. A low vision specialist can develop a rehabilitation plan that identifies strategies and assistive devices appropriate for a person’s particular needs, which vary depending on the person’s age and the source and severity of vision loss. As described in the booklet and videos, vision rehabilitation services include: training to use magnifying and adaptive devices, learning new daily living skills to remain safe and live independently, developing strategies to navigate inside and outside the home, providing resources and support to help patients with vision loss.

 

“A vision rehabilitation plan helps people reach their true visual potential when nothing more can be done from a medical or surgical standpoint,” said Mark Wilkinson, O.D., a low vision specialist at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics and a NEHEP planning committee member. “Vision rehabilitation can make a world of difference to a person adjusting to vision loss and should be considered part of the continuum of care. I urge health professionals to help their patients with low vision seek vision rehabilitation services.”

 

The NEI is committed to finding new ways to improve the lives of people living with visual impairment. The NEI currently dedicates more than $24 million to research projects aimed at low vision. Projects include learning how the brain adapts to vision loss, strategies to improve vision rehabilitation, and the development of new technologies to help people with low vision read, shop, and find their way in unfamiliar places.

 

Statistics on low vision are taken from the report, 2012 Fifth Edition of Vision Problems in the U.S., available on the NEI website at http://www.nei.nih.gov/eyedata.

 

The new NEI booklet and videos along with other resources for people with low vision can be viewed and downloaded at http://www.nei.nih.gov/lowvision.

 

The National Eye Institute, part of the National Institutes of Health, leads the federal government’s research on the visual system and eye diseases. NEI supports basic and clinical science programs that result in the development of sight-saving treatments. For more information, visit http://www.nei.nih.gov.

 

About the National Institutes of Health (NIH): NIH, the nation’s medical research agency, includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIH is the primary federal agency conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and is investigating the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit http://www.nih.gov.

 

 

Travelers Assistance                   MSP International Airport

 

Travelers Assistance is a wonderful service which is part of the Airport Foundation at the MSP International Airport. The Airport Foundation MSP dedicates itself to enhancing the experience and exceeding the expectations of travelers at Minneapolis-St. Paul (MSP) International Airport, as well as supporting the airport and broader aviation community. It is a volunteer program made up of senior citizens. Before flying into this airport, call 612-726-5500 to make arrangements. A volunteer will meet you at your gate and walk you to your next gate.

 

Submitted by Loris Van Berkom

 

 

 

 

 

Device Offers Partial Vision for the Blind

February 14, 2013

By PAM BELLUCK

 

The Food and Drug Administration on Thursday approved the first treatment to give limited vision to people who are blind, involving a technology called the artificial retina.

 

The device allows people with a certain type of blindness to detect crosswalks on the street, the presence of people or cars, and sometimes even large numbers or letters. The approval of the system marks a milestone in a new frontier in vision research, a field in which scientists are making strides with gene therapy, optogenetics, stem cells and other strategies.

 

“This is just the beginning,” said Grace Shen, a director of the retinal diseases program at the National Eye Institute, which helped finance the artificial retina research and is supporting many other blindness therapy projects. “We have a lot of exciting things sitting in the wings.”

 

The artificial retina is a sheet of electrodes implanted in the eye. The patient is also given glasses with an attached camera and a portable video processor. This system, called Argus II, allows visual signals to bypass the damaged portion of the retina and be transmitted to the brain.

 

With the artificial retina or retinal prosthesis, a blind person cannot see in the conventional sense, but can identify outlines and boundaries of objects, especially when there is contrast between light and dark — fireworks against a night sky or black socks mixed with white ones.

 

“Without the system, I wouldn’t be able to see anything at all, and if you were in front of me and you moved left and right, I’m not going to realize any of this,” said Elias Konstantopolous, 74, a retired electrician in Baltimore, one of about 50 Americans and Europeans who have been using the device in clinical trials. He said it helps him differentiate curbs from roads, and detect contours of objects and people. “When you have nothing, this is something. It’s a lot.”

 

The F.D.A. approved Argus II, made by Second Sight Medical Products, to treat people with severe retinitis pigmentosa, in which photoreceptor cells, which take in light, deteriorate.

 

The eyeglass camera captures images, which the video processor translates into pixelized patterns of light and dark, and transmits them to the electrodes. The electrodes then send them to the brain.

 

“The questions that this particular device raised for F.D.A. were very new,” said Dr. Malvina Eydelman, the F.D.A.’s director for the Division of Ophthalmic and Ear, Nose, and Throat Devices. “It’s a big step forward for the whole ophthalmology field.”

About 100,000 Americans have retinitis pigmentosa, but initially between 10,000 and 15,000 will likely qualify for the Argus II, according to the company. To be eligible, people must be over 25, have previously had useful vision, and be so visually impaired that the device would be an improvement.

 

But experts said the technology holds promise for others who are blind, especially those with advanced age-related macular degeneration, the major cause of vision loss in older people, affecting about two million Americans. About 50,000 would be impaired enough for the device to help, said Dr. Robert Greenberg, Second Sight’s chief executive.

 

In Europe, Argus II received approval in 2011 to treat severe blindness from any type of outer retinal degeneration, although so far it is marketed there for retinitis pigmentosa. In the United States, additional trials are necessary for such approval.

Eventually, the company plans to implant electrodes directly into the brain’s cortex to “allow us to address blindness from all causes,” Dr. Greenberg said.

 

Initially, Argus II will be available at seven hospitals in New York, California, Texas, Maryland and Pennsylvania. It will cost about $150,000, excluding surgery and training. Second Sight said it was optimistic that insurance would cover it.

 

Argus II was developed over 20 years by Dr. Mark S. Humayun, an ophthalmologist and biomedical engineer at the University of Southern California. Some financing came from private sources and the National Eye Institute, the National Science Foundation and the Department of Energy, all federal agencies.

 

Dr. Humayun said he envisioned applying the technology to other conditions than blindness, implanting electrodes in other parts of the body to address bladder control problems, perhaps, or spinal paralysis. “We don’t think of the human body as an electrical grid, but it runs off electrical impulses,” he said.

 

The Argus II was approved under a special F.D.A. program designating it a “humanitarian use device,” which Dr. Eydelman said applied to therapies that would be used for fewer than 4,000 people a year. Argus II is only the 57th humanitarian device exemption granted by the agency. Companies applying for humanitarian device approval can conduct much smaller clinical trials — Second Sight submitted data on only 30 patients — and must only demonstrate safety and “probable benefit,” not proof of effectiveness, Dr. Eydelman said.

 

The F.D.A. worked with Second Sight to develop ways to measure that benefit, including tasks like walking on a sidewalk without stepping off, and matching black, gray and white socks.

 

Of the 30 Argus II clinical trial patients, 11 experienced a total of 23 negative effects, the F.D.A. said, including retinal detachment and erosion of the clear covering of the eyeball.

 

Dr. Eydelman said the company had “taken substantial steps” to address safety concerns, making “many device modifications.” Dr. Greenberg said only two people needed to have the implant removed. An F.D.A. advisory panel voted unanimously last September to recommend approval, finding that benefits outweighed the risks.

 

Some patients see more improvement than others, for reasons the company has not been able to determine. Kathy Blake of Fountain Valley, Calif., said she has had success with a Second Sight exercise to see if patients can identify large numbers or letters on a computer screen.

 

Dean Lloyd, a lawyer in Palo Alto, Calif., said he initially wondered, “Is it really worth all the time and expense? I, at first, did not think so.” Early on, only nine electrodes were working, but over time his implant was adjusted so more electrodes responded, and now 52 of them work. He can see flashes of color, something not every patient can, and he wears the glasses and video processor constantly.

 

“If I don’t wear it, it’s like I don’t have my pants on,” he said. “I’ve even fallen asleep with the blooming thing.”

 

Stephen Rose, the chief research officer for the Foundation Fighting Blindness, which supported Dr. Humayun’s very early work but has not financed it since, said the artificial retina would eventually be only one of the options to help blind people.

 

“I think there are tremendous possibilities,” he said. “I’m not downplaying the retinal prosthesis, don’t get me wrong. It’s huge for some individuals, and it’s here now.”

 

Barbara Campbell, 59, relishes how the device helps her navigate Manhattan streets, locate her bus stop, and spot her apartment building’s foyer light while riding in a taxi.

 

Most exciting, though, is how it enhances her experience of museums, theater and concerts.

 

At a performance by Rod Stewart, “I could definitely see his hair,” which was white-blond under the lights, she said. At a concert by Diana Ross, even though Ms. Campbell sat far away from the stage, she said Ms. Ross “was wearing a sparkly outfit, and I could see her.”

 

No such luck at a performance by James Taylor, though. His low-key clothing created no contrast for the artificial retina to register. Alas, Ms. Campbell said, “He wasn’t so sparkly.”

 

Fargo movie theaters offer features for hard-of-hearing, visually impaired

FARGO – John Neiss used to go to the movies even when he couldn’t tell what was going on in them.

By: Sam Benshoof, INFORUM

 

The Fargo man, who is deaf, was used to seeing movies with closed captioning in Rochester, N.Y., where he attended the National Technical Institute for the Deaf in the mid-2000s.

 

But when Neiss moved back to Fargo in 2009, local movie theaters didn’t have such options. Closed captioning wasn’t available.

 

Regardless, because he still wanted the movie theater experience and didn’t want to wait for movies to come out on DVD, Neiss went anyway.

 

Not surprisingly, he was often frustrated and confused by not knowing what was going on.

 

“I was only able to decrypt actions and body languages without understanding the real plot behind it,” he said last week through an interpreter, adding that it could be a “nightmare” to try and figure out what was going on.

 

That all changed in the fall of 2011, when Marcus Theatres – which owns the West Acres Cinema and Century 10 Cinema in Fargo – transitioned to digital cinema technology.

 

Included in that transition were two features designed to offer a more accessible movie-going experience: CaptiView closed captioning for the hard-of-hearing, and Fidelio descriptive narration for the visually impaired.

 

For Neiss and many others in the Fargo-Moorhead area who previously weren’t able to attend movies, the experience suddenly became much more convenient.

 

 

Small devices, big impact

Both the closed captioning and descriptive narration technologies are transmitted by small, wireless devices available at the movie theaters’ box office for no charge.

 

The closed captioning is meant to be placed in the moviegoer’s cupholder, and has a small, bendable arm that connects the transmitting device to an easy-to-read screen.

 

The screen, which has a protective shield so as not to disturb other moviegoers, displays a film’s closed-captioning track in LED text.

 

The descriptive narration, meanwhile, is a similar device connected to a pair of headphones, which moviegoers wear during the movie.

 

An audio track of what’s happening in the film is transmitted through the headphones, explains Carlo Petrick, communications manager for Marcus Theatres.

 

“The movie is described to the viewer as they are watching it,” Petrick says. “They’re hearing a description of what’s going on on the screen, rather than seeing it.”

 

The descriptive narration track is produced by the studio that releases the film, Petrick says, so whether a person attends a movie at Marcus Theatres or another chain, they’d hear the same audio description.

 

Petrick describes both technologies as an ongoing effort by Marcus Theatres to make the movie-going experience more accessible for everyone.

 

“Marcus has been one of the leaders in the exhibition industry in putting in this kind of technology and making movies more accessible for people who are deaf and hard-of-hearing and also visually impaired,” Petrick says.

 

At West Acres Cinema, General Manager Rick Solarski says most, but not quite all, movies have the closed-captioning or descriptive-narration available. Even though the features have been available for a while now, theater staff has needed the time to make sure everything works smoothly.

 

3-D movies, for example, occasionally create problems for the closed captioning, Solarski says.

 

“We’re working on trying to get the bugs out,” he says.

 

Information about whether a specific movie has closed captioning or descriptive narration can be found on the Century 10 or West Acres cinemas’ websites.

 

The Fargo Theatre downtown, meanwhile, doesn’t offer such features, but is in the middle of a capital campaign to raise funds to convert to digital cinema.

 

The campaign currently sits at nearly $180,000, with a goal of $200,000, according to Emily Beck, the theater’s executive director.

 

When the theater makes the switch to digital, it will also be able to offer closed captioning and descriptive narration, Beck says.

 

“I think our audiences will be glad when we’re able to offer those things,” she adds.

 

Enhanced quality of life

Neiss, who was the first person to use the closed captioning technology at West Acres Cinema, says the technology has made a huge difference for him.

 

“Wow, I was impressed,” he says. “With that technology, it helps me to enjoy the movie more.”

 

Since the introduction of the closed captioning, Neiss has started going to movies more often.

 

“It helps me to understand everything that’s happening in the movie, and to finally enjoy the ending without questions,” he says.

 

Because of that accessibility and convenience, Solarski says an increased effort is being made to let people in the community know about the availability of the closed captioning and descriptive narration.

 

“We’ve made some announcements to some of the support groups in the area that have previously expressed interest, and gotten the word out that way,” he says.

 

Mark Kueffler, president of the North Dakota Association of the Blind, says he and others in the local blind community hadn’t heard of the descriptive narration until just recently.

 

Kueffler, of West Fargo, says that he’s emailed other visually-impaired people in the area to let them know about it.

 

“I’m glad that (Marcus Theatres), locally, have foreseen that there was a need there, and followed through with it,” Kueffler says.

 

When asked whether he thought the local blind and visually-impaired community would take advantage of the descriptive narration and go see movies now, Kueffler answered, “For those that enjoy movies, why wouldn’t they?”

 

Neiss also applauds Marcus Theatres for making the features available in Fargo.

 

“The technology enhances the quality of my life as a deaf person,” he says. “It’s improved my life. It’s made it better. And it really means a lot to me.”

 

 

Family Adjustment Seminar

By Janelle Olson, Chairperson

 

Should spring really ever look like spring, it will be followed by summer and then we will slide into the fall which will likely bring with it beautiful golden leaves or more likely… snow! Well, I guess I am rushing things a bit and really do not have the credentials  to forecast the weather, but what I can predict with spot on accuracy is that fall will bring with it the 2013 Family Adjustment Seminar which will be happening in Bismarck on Saturday, October 12th. If you are a person with vision loss who has never attended, this is for you. For those of you who have attended, keep a watch out for those in your community whom you think may be interested in attending and tell them about your experience. Should you want further information or if you are interested in attending, give me a call at 701-570-0801.

 

iCanConnect

Perkins School for the Blind, Helen Keller National Center, and FableVision will Lead the iCanConnect Campaign

 

Many thousands of Americans who have combined loss of hearing and vision may soon connect with family, friends, and community thanks to the National Deaf-Blind Equipment Distribution Program. Mandated by the 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act (CVAA), the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) established this new program to provide support for the local distribution of a wide array of accessible communications technology.

 

The FCC is also funding a national outreach campaign to educate the public about this new program. The iCanConnect campaign will be conducted jointly by Perkins School for the Blind in Watertown, MA, the Helen Keller National Center in New York City, NY, and FableVision of Boston, MA. iCanConnect will seek to ensure that everyone knows about the free communications technology and training that is now available to low-income individuals with combined hearing and vision loss. From screen enlargement software and video phones to off-the-shelf products that are accessible or adaptable, this technology can vastly improve quality of life for this population.

iCanConnect seeks to increase awareness about the availability of communications technology for this underserved population, so people who are deaf-blind and have limited income can remain safe and healthy, hold jobs, manage their households, and contribute to the economy and the community.

Information about the new equipment distribution program is available online at the iCanConnect website or by phone at 800-825-4595. Additional information is available through the online FCC Encyclopedia.

“With the right technology, people with disabilities can link to information and ideas, be productive, and move ahead,” said Steven Rothstein, President of Perkins. “Perkins’ most famous student, Helen Keller, exemplified the potential of a person who is deaf-blind. We are proud to have a role in this transformational program.”

The CVAA, championed in Washington, D.C. by Congressman Edward J. Markey of Massachusetts and Senator Mark Pryor of Arkansas, acknowledges that advances in technology can revolutionize lives. Nearly one million people in the United States have some combination of vision and hearing loss. People with combined loss of vision and hearing as defined by the Helen Keller National Center Act whose income does not exceed 400 percent of the Federal Poverty Guidelines are eligible to participate in the new program.

“The mission of the Helen Keller National Center is to enable each person who is deaf-blind to live and work in his or her community of choice,” explains Executive Director Joe McNulty, adding, “This critical technology access program accelerates those efforts but only if people know about the resources. iCanConnect is poised to get the word out, coast to coast.”

“FableVision’s mission is to help ALL learners reach their full potential,” said Paul Reynolds, CEO of FableVision Studios. “With this program we advance that mission, helping spread the word about equal access to tools that offer those with hearing and vision loss the transformational power of technology.” Reynolds adds, “Now everyone is invited to the technology promise powering the human network.”

 

 

AccessNote from AFB

American Foundation for the Blind App Helps People with Vision Loss Easily Take Notes on iPhone®, iPad®, and iPod touch®

New York (February 1, 2013)

 

For the millions of Americans with vision loss looking for a simple, convenient way to take notes at work, at school, or at home, the American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) today launched the AccessNote™, a specialized notetaker for the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch.

 

“Apple products have earned high points from us for their out-of-the-box accessibility for users who are blind or visually impaired,” said Carl R. Augusto, AFB president and CEO. “We designed this app to complement the iPhone’s other popular features, like web browsing and email, so that users who are blind have all the tools they need in one, handy device.”

 

A traditional notetaker is a portable electronic device that enables users who are blind or visually impaired to take notes, create documents, and access applications. These devices, extremely valuable for people who are blind or visually impaired, usually provide either speech or braille output (or both).  They retail for upwards of $2,000 and much more for those with a built-in braille display; AFB’s AccessNote app is available for $19.99.

 

In addition to being a low-cost alternative to traditional notetakers, AccessNote allows users to combine efficient notetaking with many other features and functions of the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. This allows people who are blind or visually impaired to use the same popular devices that their sighted peers are using in classroom or business settings.

 

This is the first notetaking app developed and designed specifically for users with vision loss. AFB evaluated many of the other available notetaking apps, but found none to be very efficient or user-friendly to people who are blind or visually impaired.

What sets the AccessNote apart includes:

  • Seamless Navigation. Customized keyboard commands make notetaking more intuitive and productive than ever before, including quick access to important features like Search All Notes, Search Within a Note, as well as several navigation options.
  • Automatic Saving. With an automatic save on every few keystrokes, notes will never be lost.
  • Cursor tracking. When navigating among multiple sets of notes, users can always pick up right where they left off.
  • Unparalleled Simplicity. With a clutter-free interface, users can create, read, find, and sync, making it easier to spend more time with actual content and less time with tools.
  • DropBox Integration. All notes, always on hand. DropBox keeps AccessNote in sync with the user’s desktop (and other devices) so their notes are always available and backed up.
  • Compatibility with Bluetooth keyboards. AccessNote is optimized for efficiency with the Apple Wireless Keyboard and for today’s wireless braille displays.

 

AccessNote was developed in conjunction with FloCo Apps and is available on the App Store(sm).

 

About AFB

The American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) is a national nonprofit that expands possibilities for people with vision loss. AFB’s priorities include broadening access to technology; elevating the quality of information and tools for the professionals who serve people with vision loss; and promoting independent and healthy living for people with vision loss by providing them and their families with relevant and timely resources. Headquartered in New York, AFB is proud to house the Helen Keller Archives and honor the more than 40 years that Helen Keller worked tirelessly with AFB.

 

 

Article from the Grand Forks Herald

Margo, Kristen help seniors see, hear

Sometimes people wonder where to turn when losing sight, hearing

By: Marilyn Hagerty, Grand Forks Herald

 

My friend, Laura Jane Paulson, had been struggling with macular degeneration. She had trouble telling time, reading the Herald and even worse — she couldn’t see well enough to play bridge.

 

LJ, as I call her, checked in with eye doctors and eventually found there was nothing more they could do for her. It seemed she was out in left field.

But LJ isn’t one to take “no” for an answer. After all, she was director of food services for the Grand Forks schools and a home economics teacher here for 26 years.

 

So she began asking questions. And she learned there is help out there. All you have to do is ask. She found out about Margo Lentz Berg, a vision specialist for the North Dakota Division of Vocational Rehabilitation. She’s right here in Grand Forks at telephone number (701) 795-3022.

 

She found out about North Dakota Vision Services located with the School for the Blind, also right here in Grand Forks. The phone number is (701) 795-2700. The services fall under a Title 2 of the Older Americans Act.

 

On her quest for help, LJ would say, “I’m asking questions. I want answers.”

All too often, it seems, people struggle along not seeing and not realizing there is help out there.

 

Margo, who helps people over 55, arrived at the home of LJ recently with a bundle of helps. She gave her a calendar with great big numbers on it. She gave her a lamp she can use to augment her reading ability.

 

She discussed video magnifiers that can be purchased for $2,500 to $3,800.

Without the help, LJ was finding it impossible to handle her bills or tell the time of day.

 

From Margo, she learned about clocks that talk and big, bold print calendars.

Margo makes herself available with a card in big, black print. And along with Margo, there is more help available from North Dakota Vision Services.

 

Ken Dockter, a vision teacher there, says people call or just walk in. There is help in this non-profit facility including playing cards with large numbers or in Braille. There is a variety of magnifiers.

 

Periodically the school holds an adult week and brings in eight people at a time to teach skills that help those with low vision.

 

Dockter said the state has programs with help from North Dakota Lions Clubs, the School for the Blind, Vocational Rehabilitation and the Association for the Blind.

 

Just as there is help with poor vision, there is help for people with hearing problems. Often, the hearing program also helps people with problems of eyesight.

Margo works with Kristen Vetter who works in outreach here for the School for the Deaf in Devils Lake. Vetter’s local phone number is (701) 795-2792 or (800) 887-2980.

 

 

 

2012 ACB National Convention Report

By Zelda Gebhard

 

Thank you, fellow NDAB members, for entrusting me with the responsibility to serve as your delegate to the 2012 ACB National Convention held at the Galt House in Louisville, Kentucky. The week of July 6th through July 13th is one I will long remember.

 

I am going to try to sum up my experiences in this report. You’re invited, pack your bags and come along with me to Louisville. Prior to this trip my mental image of Kentucky was endless rolling lush green, grassy pastures complete with miles of white fence and frolicking horses. This scene may exist somewhere in Kentucky but I didn’t see it while I was there. Instead I saw endless buildings, people, concrete and pavement. There were people everywhere! To put it in perspective – Louisville has a population that is greater than the whole state of North Dakota! While we were there it was blistering hot although the natives were quick to assure us that they weren’t used to this kind of weather as their summer had been unusually hot and dry for them.

 

The most exciting part of the convention for me was the general sessions. Each morning we gathered together in a very large ballroom. I have read about this in convention reports down through the years but I still was not prepared for the awesomeness of being in a room with all of the state and special affiliate attendees seated all very orderly, table by table alphabetically according to their affiliate name. Of course, that placed North Dakota right behind North Carolina. What was amazing to me is that I actually was acquainted with several of the delegates from North Carolina! It truly is a small world.

Each morning as we were finding our places, there was entertainment for us to enjoy. Then there would be speakers and, of course, and probably most importantly the business of the organization to attend to.

 

I would love to be able to tell you all about everything but that is simply not possible.

 

There were many restaurants within walking distance of the Galt House.  In fact, there were six restaurants available to us within the Hotel itself. We could stay in air conditioned comfort and still have great dining choices. We did venture out several times to stretch our legs and find some local food like their derby pie, hot brown, and barbecued anything. Kentuckians are proud of their whisky and their barbecue sauce which, of course, usually has some of their whisky in it. Other southern treats were fried chicken, grits, fried apples and peanut butter/banana stuffed French toast.

 

The Galt House is located along the Ohio River and one evening after the meetings and workshops we went on a dinner cruise on the Belle of Louisville, a historic paddle river boat. There was dining and dancing and we even sat on the deck and viewed the mansions, businesses and barges  along the river as we floated along on this hot summer night.

 

We just couldn’t visit Louisville without going on a tour of the Louisville Slugger Bat Factory. What once required many skilled workers to accomplish by hand with lathes is now done with astounding speed with machines. They can take a “blank” a piece of wood about 39 inches long with a radius of five inches and put it in a machine programmed to make a certain style of bat and 30 seconds later it is shaped and ready to be finished. They also make custom bats for many major league players and, of course, they spend quite a bit more time making their bats according to their specifications. Each “station” on the tour had a video with “video description” and the voice was familiar. I asked the tour guide and sure enough the voice I heard was Jack Frost, a well known voice to those of us who listen to talking books. Jack and his daughter, Jill, had been invited to speak at one of the convention general sessions I had attended previously during the week! In fact, Jack seemed to be with me on the way home also because it was his voice giving us instructions on the moving sidewalk at the airport. Thanks Jack, for making our lives fuller and safer.

 

As the NDAB delegate I thought it would be nice to make our presence known on the national level. Therefore, I got Team North Dakota together to participate in the ACB Walk. There were ten registered on Team North Dakota – Allan, Donna, Eunice, Janelle, Julie, Karlyn, Loris, Michelle, Steven, and I. We even had team t-shirts with Go for the Gold, Team North Dakota and our NDAB logo on it. They were donated by the Edgeley Lions. Registrations completed, and pledges gathered we went walking bright and early on a warm, damp Kentucky Sunday morning. Our bus even made it back in time for us to attend worship services. Much to our amazement, Team North Dakota came in third behind Tennessee and Florida. We’ve got spirit, yes we do! North Dakota has spirit, how about you?

 

Other highlights of my week?

  • President Obama signed the FDA Safety and Innovation Act into law on 7-9-12. The law sets up a working group at the Access Board that is composed of consumers and pharmacy representatives.
  • At the banquet it was announced that Eunice Ketterling was the winner of the Braille Forum Raffle! Congratulations Eunice!
  • I enjoyed seeing all the many helpful devices available for those of us who are blind and visually impaired at the booths in the Vendor Room.
  • Steven and I went on a tour of the American Printing House and actually got to see the prototype of the game Paul Olson had submitted and APH selected to manufacture.
  • I attended as many workshops as I could fit into my schedule. These included Leadership Training Seminar held the day before the Convention started and then several workshops during the week. They were great.

 

The whole convention was truly an amazing experience! I could go on and on, but I won’t. I will conclude with a quote from one of our morning session speakers. Our guest from Norway, Arnt Holte, was a gentleman whose emphasis was on unity. He said, “We need to work in a global frame with global solutions for braille, silent cars and guide dogs. Act locally, think globally. We need unity.” I couldn’t agree more! United we stand, divided we fall.

 

 

NDAB Board Meeting

February 10, 2013

 

BOARD MEMBERS PRESENT: Mark Kueffler, Alan Peterson, Helen Baumgartner, Donna Hepper, Loris Van Berkom, Zelda Gebhard, Paula Anundson, Michelle Zentz, Alexandra Engraf

GUESTS: Jesse Shirek, Sherry DeFrancesco

 

President Mark called the meeting to order at 7:07 PM via conference call.

 

* October 13, 2012 Board Meeting Minutes, approved Friday, January 4, 2013 via e-mail.

*Incentive Program Awards added $50 for second place prize & $25 for third place prize, approved on January 3, 2013 via E-mail.

* Stationary approval made January 15, 2013 via E-mail.

 

There was a motion to consent to approve the agenda. The agenda was discussed. Michelle made a motion to accept the agenda.  The motion was seconded and carried.

 

  1. Business:

 

  1. RESPECT, COMMUNICATION, BOARD RESPONSIBILITIES: Discussion was held about staying on topic / task. This was a reminder of what we have discussed in the past. Please attempt to try to stay on topic and on task.
  2. CONVENTION UPDATE (Jesse Shirek & Sherry DeFrancesco): The convention committee has met several times in Grand Forks. The dates for the convention are May 31st, June 1st, and June 2nd. The convention will be held at the Guestouse hotel in Grand Forks, ND. There will be a $63 room rate. We will have access to a large meeting room for the primary gathering area of the convention and a smaller meeting room for venders. There will also be a space available for board members to meet from 2 PM – 5 PM on May 31st. There will be a social held over at North Dakota Vision Services/ School for the Blind on the night of May 31st. During this evening, there will be a picnic, speaker, technology information, and a tour of the school. On Saturday, there will be soup and sandwiches for the legislative luncheon. During this luncheon, water, tea, coffee, and can of soda will be the available beverage options. There are four meal options available for supper on Saturday night. The cost for food is approximately $18 per plate. The convention committee is currently working on acquiring caramel and cinnamon rolls for breakfast on Sunday morning. Muffins and fruit would be served in the absence of the rolls. There is a restaurant in the Guesthouse hotel, and the convention committee is working on brailing the restaurant menus. There is a pool in the hotel, and the committee is working on making this area safe. There are also nearby eateries and entertainment such as a mini-golf course. A free day pass for the YMCA will be available. The hotel will provide a guide dog relief area. Michelle will E-mail Jesse guide dog etiquette information. Discussion was held about using the PA system for the convention. There would likely be a cost involved if there would be use of a PA system provided by the hotel. Rick houses our PA system, and we will talk to him about using it. The speaker for the banquet will be Beth Bakke Stenehjem. She has had a huge impact on the blind community. On Sunday, the memorial service will be performed by Amanda Suminski. The registration desk will be manned by Janice and Ruth on Friday. The committee is waiting on transportation details for Friday. Discussion was held about writing an article for the Promoter regarding the convention. Helen will provide Jesse with a list of members for the call to convention forms. Discussion was held about the format of the call to convention forms. The forms have always been mailed via the postal service in a printed format. There have never been other formats, but the convention committee thinks making the call to convention packets accessible to members based on format preference is extremely important. Members could register by E-mail or phone, and they would be officially registered when their money is received. The board agreed that the committee could try this new accessible method, and determine its effectiveness.
  3. NEW PUBLICITY CHAIR: The new publicity chair is Sherry.
  4. SECRETARY’S REPORT (Ali): We received some correspondence from the secretary of state, and it has been forwarded onto the ACB office in Minneapolis. Sympathy cards were sent out on behalf of a relative of Larry Anderson, Don Berg, and Jake Lima. Please let Ali know if/when you know of any people who need a sympathy card. Discussion was held about a correction to the October board meeting minutes regarding Brain Train. Discussion was held about Ali’s Electronic Communication Project. Ali is involved in a course this semester that is requiring her to work with an organization on their electronic communication strategy. Ali asked the board if she could utilize NDAB to complete this project. She asked if she may develop a strategic plan for NDAB’s electronic communications for this class project. Everyone consented to this project.
  5. TREASURE’S REPORT (Helen): The current balance of the checking account is $40,510.59, and the last statement we received from American Century in December was $54,980.81, including a $10,000 transfer we agreed to. The Equity Income account made 10.34%, and the First Choice account made 11.63%. Right now, at Starion Bank, we have $93,230.28 in a savings account. The committee had a telephone conversation with William Hawkens. He suggested increasing our checking account to $50,000. He also suggested opening an Ultra account and investing $5,000 in this account, then add $250 to all three of the accounts at American Century every 2 weeks. After visiting with William, the committee suggests sending $83,000 to American Century and the remaining to our checking account. Discussion was held about CDs. We have 2 CDs. One is currently valued at $50,145 and is due January 4 2016. This CD is making 2.25% interest. The other CD is currently valued at $15,429.22, making .95% interest, and is due November 28, 2013. During the telephone conference, William also warned us about IRS penalties.  We need to invest at least 33.3% of our profits annually on programs such as camp and Family Adjustment Seminar to remain in non-profit standings. The committee recommends doing this to avoid penalties. Discussion was held regarding who might keep track of spending to make sure it is reaching this appropriate percentage. Allan made a motion to send $83,000 to American Century Investments and invest $250 in each of the three accounts we have there every two weeks and put the remaining amount in our checking account. The motion was seconded by Michelle. The motion carries.
  6. FINANCIAL CHAIR REPORT (Allan): We have gotten results from solicitation letters, which are over $3,000. There is a commitment to host the Fargo walk-a-thon at NDSU’s BSA Saturday April 27th. Bismarck is also planning to host their walk-a-thon on April 27th, and Minot might do it the same day as well. Grand Forks may also participate in hosting a walk-a-thon. Discussion was held about the Dining in the dark fundraising idea. Zelda had provided the board with information about this fundraiser. There is a lot of work to be done in order to implement this fundraiser. A suggestion was made to talk to individuals who have participated in this fundraiser in order to get more input on it. Zelda will look further into it.
  7. LEGISLATIVE REPORT (Alan & Zelda): Two major legislative issues of our primary concern regard the budgets of the older blind program and school for the blind. The legislature did not increase the budget for the older blind program. Many members were busy talking to legislative representatives in their district, visiting with them about this issue. February 21st is Disability Awareness Day. Zelda and Donna are going to be at the capitol during this day, manning a booth for NDAB. The focus of this year’s ACB Legislative Seminar is to advocate for the introduction and passage of two initiatives in Congress. One initiative is to create a demonstration project within Medicare to determine the feasibility of expanding Medicare coverage for the purchase of visual aids for Medicare beneficiaries with sight loss. Another initiative deals with legislation regarding children with sight loss. This initiative would assure that children with sight loss are properly identified, assessed, and educated.
  8. MEMBERSHIP REPORT (Zelda): Membership renewals were sent out on December 20th via postal mail. An E-mail reminder was sent out on January 28th. Yesterday, the remaining 37 members who have not renewed their membership were sent by mail the second membership renewal forms. Since our last meeting, we have approved five new members. On October 28th, Grace Sharbono was approved. David Kilpatrick was approved on November 9th. On February 9th, Whitney Engbrecht and Matthew Engbrecht were approved, and today, February 10th, Candace Rivinius was approved. The membership renewal check will be sent back to the family of Jake Lima.”
  9. CAMP REPORT (Loris): Camp will be August 11 – 18. We have not been informed if rates are increasing. Kathy Johnson will be the nurse, and the band is lined up.
  10. NOMINATING COMMITTEE REPORT (Paula): Paula has talked to five or six people, and they are considering positions. The board is looking for a board director, a delegate, an alternate delegate, and an editor.
  11. PARTICIPATION INCENTIVE PROGRAM STATUS: Zelda has made a report regarding the participation incentive program. A suggestion was made to put the report in the Promoter along with contact information. Zelda will write an article regarding the access report and contact information. It seems as though members are unaware of the participation incentive program. There was a suggestion to send this participation incentive program report with call to convention letter.
  12. ROBERT LEPAGE SERVICE AWARD LETTERS: These letters went out on the beginning of January.
  13. STATIONARY STATUS: The board has stationary! If you are in need of stationary, please contact Allan.
  14. STRATEGIC PLAN (Michelle & Mark): We need to determine the long-term goals in our strategic plan. We must decide whether to determine the long-term goals ourselves or if we should have someone else to help us. Consensus council works with different non-profits to come up with long-term goals. They could meet with us to decide what long-term goals we would like to have in our strategic plan. We are at a good point to make this decision. They would charge us, and this cost would be approximately $1,250. We have met all but 2 of nine goals previously established by the board. The two goals we have not yet accomplished include Setting up membership PR in different and public service announcements. Positive feelings were expressed toward the idea of outside assistance in determining the long-term goals in this plan. Donna made a motion to enter into an agreement with Consensus council to develop a long-term plan. The motion was seconded. Discussion was held about time frame of the project, overall expenses, and time commitment. Motion carries. Michelle will make contact with the Consensus Council for further information about the matters of the discussion.
  15. Announcements:

 

  1. Please contact Carol Schmidt with any references for possible candidates for the Ed Christensen award.

 

III.         Date/Time of Next Board Meeting

 

The next board meeting will be held April 14th at 7:00 P.M via conference call.

 

Meeting Adjourned at 9:02 P.M.

 

Respectfully Submitted

 

Alexandra Engraf

NDAB Secretary

February 28, 2013

 

Minutes Approved March 8, 2013

 

 

Words of wisdom indeed…

Author unknown – submitted by Promoter editor

 

Be nice to all you meet; each of us carries a burden that others can’t see. Risk more than others think is safe. Care more than others think is wise. Dream more than others think is practical. Expect more than others think is possible.

 

 

Wherever You Are, Be There
Reprinted with permission from Steve Goodier www.LifeSupportSystem.com

An old story comes from pre-telephone days when a young man applied for a job as a telegraph operator. He answered an ad in the newspaper and went to the telegraph office to await an interview. Though he knew Morse code and was qualified in every other way, seven other applicants were also waiting in the large, noisy office, who were no doubt equally qualified.

He saw customers coming and going and heard a telegraph clacking away in the background. He also noticed a sign on the receptionist’s counter instructing applicants to fill out a form and wait to be summoned to an inner office for an interview. He filled out the form and sat down to wait.

After a few minutes, the young man stood up, crossed the room to the door of the inner office, and walked right in. Naturally the other applicants perked up, wondering why he had been so bold. They talked among themselves and finally determined that, since nobody had been summoned to interview yet, the man would likely be reprimanded for not following instructions and possibly disqualified for the job.

Shortly, however, he emerged from the office escorted by the interviewer, who announced to the other applicants, “Thank you all very much for coming, but the job has just been filled.”

They were all confused and one man spoke up: “Wait a minute – I don’t understand. We’ve been waiting longer than he and we never even got a chance to come in.”

The employer responded, “Were you listening to the telegraph? All the time you’ve been sitting here, the telegraph has been ticking out a message, `Come in now for your interview.'”

Kevin Kelly said, “The only factor becoming scarce in a world of abundance is human attention.” I wish I could say that I relate to the man who got the job, but the truth is that I often identify more with everyone else in the waiting room. When I have a moment to wait, I pull out my phone or listen to an audio-book on my mp3 player. I am too often more engrossed in my interior world than in paying attention to what is happening around me.

Yet the man in the story practiced a valuable habit – the habit of living in the present. His motto could have been, “Wherever you are, be there.” If you’re there in person, bring your mind along, too. If you’re there physically, also be there emotionally. Give your full attention to others (is there really a better gift?).

Wherever you are, be there. Be there as fully as you can. Don’t be fooled by multi-tasking. You are only halfway there when you’re doing something else at the same time. Your mind can fully focus on only one thing at a time.

It’s about being present and fully alive in the moment. Some people try to live in the past while existing in the present. Too often they find themselves filled with guilt or regrets and missing the now moment. Others find themselves living in the future, only to discover that anxiety and worry are cheating them out of joy today.

Don’t live in the past – you’ve already been there. And don’t live in the future, either. Tomorrow will be here soon enough. Live in this moment now – it is sacred and unrepeatable. This moment alone holds valuable gifts that should not be missed.
Wherever you are, be there. If you can be fully present now, you’ll know what it means to live.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NDAB Leadership Roster

 

President:

Mark Kueffler, 1406 14 ½ Ave E, West Fargo ND  58078-3428, #866-9908

Vice President:

Zelda Gebhard, 8169 66th St SE, Edgeley ND  58433 #493-2399

Secretary:

Alexandra Engraf, 1303 8th St NW, Hettinger ND  58639 #206-1028

Treasurer:

Helen Baumgartner, 402 12th Ave NW, Mandan ND  58554 #663-8878

Past President:

Michelle Zentz, 1025 7th Ave S #5, Fargo ND  58103 #298-9105

Board of Directors: 

Donna Hepper, 1420 83rd St, Ft. Yates ND  58538 #854-7395

Paula Anundson, 151 S Central #206, Valley City ND  58072 #490-0888

Loris Van Berkom, 604 8th Ave W, Williston ND  58801 #774-3399

Financial Chairperson:

Allan Peterson, 7009 Horseshoe Bend, Horace ND  58047 #282-4644

Legislative Liaison Chairpersons:

Allan Peterson, 7009 Horseshoe Bend, Horace ND  58047 #282-4644

Zelda Gebhard, 8169 66th St SE, Edgeley ND  58433 #493-2399
Co-Camp Directors: 

Loris Van Berkom, 604 8th Ave W, Williston ND  58801 #774-3399

Rick Feldman, 3301 Bohnet Blvd, Fargo ND  58102 #235-3293
Family Adjustment Seminar Chairperson:

Janelle Olson, 915 2nd Ave W, Williston ND  58801 #570-0801
Sports and Recreation Chairperson:

Dave Sundeen, 310 Dunsmoore Ave #1, Buxton ND  58218 #847-3139

Scholarship Committee Chairperson:

Tracy Wicken, 733 Dawn Circle, Grand Forks ND  58203 #772-7669

Historian:

Denise Kirsch, 1934 N 16th St Unit 3, Bismarck ND  58501 #223-8774

Publicity Chairperson:

Sherry DeFrancesco, 615 1st Ave N #404, Grand Forks ND  58203 #914-720-2319

Local News Reporters:

Bismarck: Bob Vandal, 1311 N 3rd St, Bismarck ND  58501 #400-0109

Fargo: Shereen Faber, 3001 Madison Ave, Fargo ND  58102 #237-4589

Grand Forks: Ruth Phalen, 725 40th Ave S #114, Grand Forks ND  58201 #772-4546

Minot: Doug and Mary Stip, 813 Park St, Minot ND  58701-4551 #839-4128

Williston: Loris Van Berkom, 604 8th Ave W, Williston ND  58801 #774-3399

Promoter Editor:

Kathy Larson, 15225 59th St NW, Williston ND  58801-9560 #875-4291

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.

To learn more about NDAB visit us online at www.ndab.org

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