The Promoter – May 2024

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

Official Publication of the North Dakota Association of the Blind

Available in four formats: large print, email, braille and cartridge

Editor: Emily Stenberg Brown


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

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

“We strive to enhance the way of life for people

Who are blind or visually impaired,

To encourage employment opportunities,

And to educate the public about sight loss.”


From the President

From the Editor

Calendar for 2024

Book Club with the Browns

Join the Journey

Welcome to Our New Members!

A message from new member Blaine

Happy Thanksgiving, Campers!

Sports and Recreation Update

Williston Wanderings from Janelle F. Olson

Bismarck & Other News from Robert Westermeyer

Spotlight on NDAB Member: Brenda Bruins 15

Spotlight on NDAB Member: Tracy Wicken

Spotlight on NDAB Member: Carol Schmitt

Good Question!


Transform Your World with a Voice Assistant

FMCT Presents Audio-Described Feature

Life Enrichment Opportunity

Accessible Absentee Voting Update

Legislative and Advocacy Report Spring 2024

Nominations Committee Report 2024

Development Report Spring 2024

Donations January – March 2024

North Dakota Association of the Blind, Inc. Board of Directors Meeting Minutes

Leadership Roster

Committee Chairpersons

Local News Reporters

Communication Connections


From the President

Wait, What?

I have had this exact feeling numerous times in the last year. It happens when we forget how busy our lives can be. It is a challenge to balance our lives and set our priorities. Sometimes we feel this when we realize state convention is just around the corner. Sometimes we feel this when we realize something wonderful has been accomplished, and other times we feel this from understanding how much more there is to do for our organization.

I am so proud of the hard work NDAB has done in so many areas this year. Our fundraising efforts allow us to accomplish all of the goals and activities that we support. We could not accomplish all of this without the numerous people that assist in these efforts, but we have to give the biggest thank you to Mr. Allan Peterson. His leadership as the Development Director has allowed NDAB to operate year in and year out without the worry of financial constraints. Everyone on his team makes the efforts of NDAB possible.

We also need to recognize the year after year success of our Adult Summer Camp. The hard work our Camp Committee and instructors put in to plan and execute a unique opportunity for adults with vision loss is one of the most successful events we have ever year. Thank you to all of you for your skills and talents that you share to put together Camp for members of our organization.

The final area I would like to highlight this year is the truly wonderful accomplishment of Allan and Zelda in advocating for the last three-plus years to allow for accessible absentee balloting for local, state, and national elections in North Dakota. While many of you will probably agree this is a success, I want you to understand this was not an easy task to accomplish. We had to work hard in partnering with state legislators to get it before the State House and Senate, mostly due to Allan’s connections across the state. Once it was approved, we then started a multi-year effort working with the Secretary of State’s Office to work out the logistics and implementation to cast an anonymous absentee ballot. This accomplishment highlights one of the biggest reasons I am a member of NDAB. The opportunity to work towards making life for individuals with vision loss in North Dakota better, whether that is accessible voting, employment opportunities, or any other issue that we tackle. That is why I love NDAB and what we do.

If we look at the term “Wait, What?” for the year to come, I want you all to communicate issues or ideas that our organization can cover and address. Remember we are here for each other and want to know your “What.”

With that in mind I have some “Whats” for all of you to consider. We have some areas of need to keep accomplishing our goals. We need you. We have a few areas that need members to step into. We need an additional member of the Awards Committee and Life Enrichment Committee. We need assistance in finalizing the parameters for the TVI scholarship. These are all areas that we have identified as goals and programs that we want to see initiated or move forward, and I need your help.

I know we are all busy, but we have a talented organization that can do so many amazing things. No single person can do all of this; it takes a group effort. Please do not leave us hanging. If you have questions, please reach out. I would love to call each and every one of you and find out your interest in these areas, but unless you want a call sometime around midnight, it makes more sense for you to email, call, or text me when you have free time.

Best Regards,
Trampes Brown
NDAB President

From the Editor

At the beginning of March, I was lucky enough to attend ACB’s Leadership Seminar in Washington, DC, with Zelda and Trampes. I didn’t really know what to expect, but I came away feeling a lot of pride in what NDAB and the other ACB affiliates do to advocate for those who are blind or have low vision. I was also very impressed with the congressional aides we met. They were all friendly and seemed to genuinely care about what we had to say. I felt they truly do want to help make life better for everyone. I did not expect to feel that way, hearing what we do about congress these days! If you want to read more about NDAB’s efforts in DC, read the Legislative update by Zelda and Allan on page 29.

Please let me know if you have any feedback on the Promoter. Submissions are for the next edition are due on July 10. Email with your concerns and content. Thank you!

Emily Stenberg Brown

Calendar for 2024

May 17 – Dining in the Dark, Minot, ND

June 7-9 – State Convention, Regent, ND

June 11 – North Dakota’s Primary Election

August 4-11 – Summer Camp, Elks Camp Grassick

September 13-15 – Sports & Rec Retreat at Triangle Y Camp

Don’t forget that Coffee Chat is still held every Wednesday at 10 a.m. on Zoom. The first Wednesday of the month is Book Club; the other weeks are a time for members to socialize and visit.

Book Club with the Browns

Submitted by Trampes Brown and Emily Stenberg Brown

Please consider joining us at Book Club this summer! We are taking July off and will have special guests leading the discussions in June and August. (Thank you, Mary Lou and Carol!) Book Club meets the first Wednesday of each month at 10 a.m. and 7 p.m. The Zoom link is sent out in the Sneak Peek email.

June 5After Anne by Roxanne Henke (LD 00282) with Mary Stip leading discussion. Please note this is a locally developed audiobook (LD), so it is recommended you reach out directly to the Talking Book Department at the ND State Library to access the book.

July – no Book Club

August 14 (note the new date due to Camp) – The Giver of Stars by Jojo Moyes (DB 96907) with Carol Marshall leading discussion.

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

Join the Journey

Submitted by Janelle Olson and Loris Van Berkom, Co-Convention Chairpersons

You are cordially invited to join the Enchanted Journey at our annual state convention June 7-9, 2024, at the Enchanted Castle at the end of the Enchanted Highway in Regent, ND. Regent is 32 miles south of I-94, Exit 72, which is 10 miles east of Dickinson and 90 miles west of Bismarck and is on Mountain Daylight Savings Time. We will take over the entire castle. Room rates with tax are $108.99 which includes continental breakfast. All of the rooms are very spacious with two queen size beds, two TVs, a microwave, refrigerator, wet bar, table and chairs, coffee maker and a large bathroom with two sinks. Hair dryers are available upon request. There are nineteen rooms so we encourage sharing with a friend. The Prairie Vista Bed and Breakfast is a few blocks away but can be used for overflow. There are four bedrooms and two bathrooms downstairs and three bedrooms and one bathroom on the main floor. Each room has two twin beds. The room rates are $110 which includes a hot breakfast. There are three stairs to get in, so it is not handicapped accessible. Reservations can be made at either place from now until June 1st. Be sure to indicate that you are coming for the NDAB Convention. Convention registration is due by May 18.

We have a fun weekend planned as you travel with us on our Enchanted Journey. Convention packets will be sent out at the beginning of May with more information. The stipends that were offered in previous years were voted out at our last convention, but this will be a fairly economical weekend for you. If anyone would like to bring a door prize, we would appreciate your contribution. Join the banquet fun by dressing in a medieval costume. We are looking forward to seeing you!

Welcome to Our New Members!

Elamin Abaker from Fargo, ND

Wanda Bouret from Sheyenne, ND

Brian Kunz from Jamestown, ND

Shelby Byron from Grand Forks, ND

Blaine Jemming from Woonsocket, SD

Juleen Ramirez from Fergus Falls, MN (returning member)

A message from new member Blaine

Hello, I’m Blaine Jemming a new member of NDAB. I come from Woonsocket, South Dakota, and have been a student at the South Dakota School for the Blind and Visually Impaired (SDSBVI) for 13 years now. I started as a first grader and now I’m in the LEAP Program (Learning to be Equipped for Adulthood). As of right now, I do not plan on furthering my education.

I enjoy being outside, listening to books and music, meeting new people, and I have a nice passion for animals.

I learned about NDAB through a couple of friends.

I’ve been a member of ACB for a couple of years now. I joined the South Dakota Association of the blind (SDAB), in 2022. I am currently serving on the SDAB Board of Directors.

I look forward to networking more with members in NDAB. Feel free to contact me via call text or email anytime. My phone number to call or text is: (605) 228-4586 and my email is:

Happy Thanksgiving, Campers! 

Submitted by Lexee Steffan and Missy Miller

The NDAB Camp Committee invites you to the 53rd annual Summer Camp August 4-11 at Elks Camp Grassick. This camp is located on Lake Isabel, six miles south of Dawson, ND. This year, Carol Scallon and Sue Dahl are planning a Thanksgiving-themed banquet entitled “A Grateful Gathering.”

The purpose of camp is three-fold:

  1. To provide an opportunity for people who are visually impaired to connect with others with similar impairments.
  2. To help in the process of adjusting to vision loss.
  3. To provide an opportunity to learn new skills, techniques, and leisure-time activities to enhance the quality of life.

Eligibility requirements are as follows:

  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 setup for camp.
    1. Must be able to care for one’s personal needs including bathing, dressing, eating, etc.
    2. Must be physically able to get oneself around the campgrounds, with the exclusion of difficulty with mobility due to vision loss.
  3. Must be cooperative and abide by camp rules.
    1. Alcohol and illegal drugs are not allowed. Any violators will be promptly sent home at their own expense.
    2. 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.
    3. Participants must notify one of the directors if leaving for any reason.
  4. Respect and consideration must be given towards others.

First-time campers do not need to be NDAB members. All others must have paid their dues for the current year. 

Camp begins Sunday, August 4th, with arrival time between 1:00 and 5:00 PM. The first meal will be served at 6:00 PM. Camp ends Sunday, August 11th. Departure time is after breakfast until 11:00 AM. All participants are responsible for their transportation to and from the camp. Several of the larger communities have organized group transportation, and we can help you get in contact with those who are responsible for lining it up.

NDAB pays for room and board for all campers and instructors. Your only expense will be for soda ($.50). Towels and bedding are furnished, but you may want to bring your own. An electric fan, water bottle, and ear plugs are recommended. You will need to bring all your own personal hygiene items.

Casual, comfortable clothing is worn at camp. You may wish to pack a Thanksgiving themed costume or even dressier attire for the banquet. Come prepared for North Dakota’s changeable weather. An umbrella or a rain poncho is advised. Pack your swimsuit and enjoy the lake! Open swimming, kayaking and other water activities will be offered after classes.

Campers and instructors are encouraged to participate in evening activities such as Trivia and Casino nights, Hayride, Talent Show, and the Friday night Thanksgiving banquet. Musical entertainment will once again be provided by Tiff, Kell, and Mel. On Saturday we will have an outdoor picnic and a campfire. There will be no gift exchange or auction.

A nurse is available 24 hours a day. If you take any medications, you will need to bring them with you. Per request of Nurse Kathy, you must completely fill out the application form in your packet, including the health information requested at the bottom. You or the nurse may dispense your medications.

Paul Olson will provide Orientation and Mobility assistance Sunday and Monday for those that request his help. Please indicate on the application form if you would like to work with him. Also, know that we are all at camp to help and encourage each other. Peer O&M is always available. If you need help, please don’t hesitate to ask.

Several new classes will be offered this year. They are: Let’s Dance; Improv Theater for Daily Living; Facing the Giants – A study with Dr. Jeremiah about finding ways to deal with loneliness and discouragement; and Civics 101. Some of our old classes are making a comeback as well! These are: Caning; Basket Weaving; Handicrafts; Pottery; Chair Exercises; Walking; Audible Darts; Archery; Fishing; New Camper 101, the Basics; The Power of Fun; Change your words – Change your life; US History; ND History; Legislative Issues; Eye Diseases, Treatment Approaches and Current Research; Source of Services; Spanish; Braille; and Games, Games, Games. Detailed class descriptions will be included in your camp packet, which will be mailed out at the end of May! Yes, this is your heads up; packets will be mailed at the end of May with an application deadline of July 10th!  Please help us serve you better; get those applications in as soon as possible! Packets will be available, and applications will be taken at the convention this year as well.

If you have any questions or if you are aware of someone who would benefit from attending our camp, please call Helen at (701) 663-8878 or email,  Missy Miller at (701) 298-8091 or Tim Kachel at (701) 320- 3468.


Sports and Recreation Update

Submitted by Trampes Brown

The Sports and Recreation Committee is excited to announce that we will be exploring a new venue for the fall retreat. We will host the fall retreat at the Triangle Y Camp on the shores of Lake Sakakwea near Garrison, ND. While we are changing venues, we look forward to enjoying many of the same activities, as well as a few new and exciting challenges. The retreat will take place September 13-15. If you think that sports and recreation activities are not for you, I urge you to reconsider. We are hoping to try a few new activities this fall, including some activities with horses. We also want you to know that we do way more than just busy athletic activities; it is yet another way to socialize with others who have visual impairment.

The committee is also looking into planning more events throughout the year that are single day or afternoon opportunities across the state to provide more chances to gather throughout the year. We are happy to entertain all ideas for activities and locations as we hope to better utilize our equipment and budget. If there are any activities that we do not currently have equipment for or currently do not offer, we would love to partner with you to create new opportunities for our members.

More details will be shared about the fall retreat as we get closer, including registration and agenda.

Williston Wanderings from Janelle F. Olson

We are “between.” This is the “between” time after winter and before summer. We will tell you what we each like about this time of the year as well as what we have been up to since we last connected.

Loris has been home all winter just doing the usual activities like working out three times a week at the gym, making calls for hospice, visiting some of her church members with the evangelism team and doing as little housework as possible. Now she is working on convention plans for our upcoming state convention. Spring is her favorite season because she loves to hear the birds chirping, especially the robins and meadowlarks and smell the spring blossoms on the lilac bushes and fruit trees.

Brenda has spent her time between her home, where she has just recently seen the tippy top of her rhubarb plant poking out of the ground, and in Arnegard helping her mother. This is where she celebrated Easter with family. Brenda enjoys the sunshine and fresh air of spring.

Kathy and Stan enjoyed their Norwegian adventure in February on the MS Trollfjord, seeing the breathtaking fjords and mountains that have made the Norwegian coast so famous. The ship took them from Bergen to the North Cape, one of the northernmost points in mainland Europe and then down to Kristiansand, the southern tip of the country. Their cruise ended in Oslo, the capital city of Norway. The Larson Farm was the gathering place for Easter Sunday festivities which included eating, visiting, more eating, and an Easter Egg Hunt for “the not so little grandkids anymore” which I have been in charge of for many years! Kathy says that perhaps one of these years Easter Sunday might be warm and without snow on the ground. She is looking forward to mild spring days; she loves the songs of the meadowlarks and robins.

Sheryl’s apparent bad luck in the cell phone department continues. She just purchased yet another new one. She would love calls from her NDAB friends, and if anyone has a spare 10-year-old who could visit for a while and show her how to run the darn thing, she would be appreciative. Because of recent concerns with her balance, she makes a trip to physical therapy a couple times a week where she can be found in the pool. She spent Easter with her son and family. On April 4th, it was two years since her husband Dan passed. God bless his memory. She loves spring’s blooming flowers, trees and grass, God’s creation. She particularly enjoys the blooms of the Kentucky Pear Trees. While she said this is their name, they do not produce pears; the blooms are large and white.

Carol has been busy in the kitchen helping their son with a brownie baking project for a school event. She reports it was a disaster! She advises anyone using one of those aluminum throw-away pans to place it on a cookie sheet before going into the oven. She said they are not made like they used to be, as when she took one out, it folded up, flipped, and there went the brownies all over the floor. They had to do a “take two.” If you remember, recently Carol described vigorously trying to wipe away spots on her microwave which turned out were just a part of it. Well, in her recent kitchen adventures, she once again used her vigorous scrubbing skill and took after the lid of her kitchen garbage can. Try as she might, one spot would not be cleaned. Upon closer inspection, the spot turned out to be just a stuck band-aid. Oh, how we all can relate. There will be a celebration of achievement as their daughter is graduating from NDSU in May. Carol loves the spring tulips.

Susan and Glenn have again spent the winter down south. They met a new couple from Michigan and went on a road trip to see the Red Woods and Oregon. Arizona is beautifully green due to the moisture. Spring in the desert brings forth blooming cactus and flowers. Susan is anxious to see all of us in Regent.

As for me, I too can be found at the gym three times a week with Loris. Many afternoons I can be found napping in my new lady-sized La-Z-Boy. I am anxiously awaiting the delightful aroma of the lilac bushes in our yard, for this is the smell of spring to me.

Bismarck & Other News from Robert Westermeyer


Bobby hit an impressive milestone on April 4: He has now donated blood 300 times! He first donated over 20 years ago, in March 2002. Congratulations, Bobby!

The Bismarck Supper Club met at the China Star in February and March. We are meeting at Mayas in April. For more information on upcoming meetings, contact Pat at 426-5619.

Sporting Chance, an organization that provides outdoor opportunities for those who otherwise would not have the chance, has two major events coming up this summer.

Fishing – Geyger Fishing Event is scheduled for Saturday, June 1 at Grainer Bottoms near Mandan. A fish fry is scheduled to take place after the event. For more information, contact JR at 226-6578.

Adaptive Water Skiing – Escape to the Lake, an event that provides adaptive water skiing for those who wouldn’t have the chance, is scheduled for Saturday, June 15 on Nelson Lake from 10 – 2. For more information, contact Leslie at 739-5349, or NDAD, which hosts the event, at 739-5349.

Spotlight on NDAB Member: Brenda Bruins


Tell us about yourself.

My name is Brenda Bruins. My hometown is Arnegard, North Dakota, and I went to school there for the first six years. I graduated from Watford City in 1975. I moved to Williston and worked at Bethel Lutheran Home Rehab for 40 years as a full-time dishwasher. I retired in 2016. I have 3 brothers and 1 sister, but one brother has passed on. I have low vision now. I have RP and cone rod degeneration. I am a cancer survivor; I’ve been cancer-free for 5 years. My mom is 93 years old now, and she still lives on the farm in Arnegard.

What are some of your hobbies?

I like to cook and bake. I like to read new recipes. I like to talk on the phone.

How long have you been a member of NDAB?

I have been a member for 38 years. I joined in 1986.

Why did you become a member?

A dear friend of mine, Loris, called me every summer for three years, asking me to go to summer camp. I finally decided I was going to go so she’d quit asking! So the third year she asked, I went to Camp Grassick for summer camp, and I’ve been going ever since.

What is your favorite memory from NDAB events?

Meeting my dear friend Rosie Landsem. We were first-year campers together and have kept in touch through the years. And meeting so many wonderful people over the years.

What positions have you served on the NDAB board or helping on certain committees?

I helped on the Convention Committee when it was held in Williston, and I have helped Becky Monroe plan the banquet at camp.

What do you consider NDAB’s greatest accomplishment?

Having summer camp and keeping it going. I learned a lot there, and it’s really helped me by going each year.

Is there anything you think NDAB should add or do differently?

I’d like to see some of the older classes come back at camp.

Why should someone join NDAB?

For the support, and to learn about their eye disease. There are a lot of people who can help. Someone can show you lots of little tricks for daily life, like how to fold money so you can tell the bills apart, or simple things like putting a cookie sheet under your measuring cup while measuring sugar, so you can sweep what you spill into the garbage.

How do you see blind possible?

By using your white cane!

Spotlight on NDAB Member: Tracy Wicken

Tell us about yourself.

My name is Tracy Wicken. I was born and raised in Grand Forks, and I still live in Grand Forks. I have worked at ND Vision Services/School for the Blind as the Assistive Technology Specialist for 19 years. Prior to working at NDVS/SB, I worked for Vocational Rehabilitation as a Vision Rehabilitation Specialist covering the northeast portion of North Dakota. I did that for 14 years, and for 6 years prior to that, I was the Communications Instructor working at Services for the Visually Impaired, a Division of Vocational Rehabilitation, which was a pre-vocational training program for adults. There I taught braille, typing, handwriting, time and money skills, and into the 1990s, computer skills.

I received my BS degree in Elementary and Special Education with Certification as a Teacher of the Visually Impaired. I continued school to get an MA degree in Special Education in the area of Learning Disabilities, all through the University of ND in Grand Forks. I received an MS degree in Rehabilitation of the Blind from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock with Certification as a Vision Rehabilitation Therapist. I completed my formal educational training taking coursework through Pennsylvania College of Optometry, now known as Salis University, to achieve Certification as a Low Vision Therapist.

I married my high school sweetheart, Greg, and we have been married for almost 41 years. We have two sons, Grant and Tyler. Grant lives in Bismarck with his wife, Sarah, and between them they have four sons, Christian (12), Cooper (12), Deklyn (4), and Drayton (18 months). Tyler lives in Grand Forks with his wife, BreAnna. Two boys were brought into that union, Wesson (9) and Wyatt (8). Tyler and BreAnna are expecting their first child together at the end of March. I have six grandsons and the seventh one on the way is unknown at this time. Odds are it will be a boy, but we could all be surprised and get a girl! (Editor’s note: Tracy’s first granddaughter, Rachel, was born on March 22!)

What are some of your hobbies?

I presently don’t have a lot of time for hobbies, but I do like to play games and do handicrafts. I also enjoy reading. I sing in my church choir and belong to a Homemakers group (40 years) and a Bunco group. I like to spend time with my family, and I enjoy time in the summer at our lake place.

How long have you been a member of NDAB?

I became a member of NDAB when I first began my career working with people who are visually impaired back in 1985. I became a member of NDAB because I wanted to support the profession and the people with whom I worked.

What is your favorite memory from NDAB events?

I have a number of favorite memories from NDAB events, but the ones that stick out most in my mind are the shenanigans that I took part in and that were played on me at NDAB’s Summer Camp when I worked there. One in particular was when a number of alarm clocks, set to go off at different times of the night and early morning, were placed in the ceiling tiles of the cabin where I and three other instructors were sleeping. Needless to say, we didn’t get much sleep that night!!!

What volunteer positions have you held for NDAB?

The first position that I held within NDAB was editor of The Promoter. I did that for a number of years. I worked as an instructor at NDAB Summer Camp for a number of years when I first joined NDAB. Currently, I am chairperson of the Scholarship Committee. I have been doing that for a number of years as well. I was a sighted guide for a few years at Ski for Light in South Dakota and I have helped with NDAB conventions that have been held in Grand Forks in the past. In 2020, I received the Robert LePage Award from NDAB.

How do you See Blind Possible?

I see blind possible as one can do almost anything if they truly want to do so. That goes for anyone, regardless of the disability they have to accommodate for or the obstacle that they have to overcome. I do believe that one has to get their desired level of gratification from doing something in order to drive them to continue. If that level of gratification is not achieved, the person will quit trying or doing the activity. That is true for all people. I have witnessed many, many people with vision loss succeed and do things that they never thought that they could do with reduced vision. It is very gratifying to have played a part in some of those successes. 

Spotlight on NDAB Member: Carol Schmitt

Tell us about yourself.

My name is Carol Schmitt. I was declared legally blind in 1982 due to Bechetts Disease. I was married for 19 years before my husband told me he did not want to be married to a blind person. We divorced. We had two wonderful children. I along with my children moved to Grand Forks in 1989 so I could go back to school so I would be eligible to work in a good job to support my children. My children are now grown up and have families of their own. I also had four stepsons through my husband and his first wife. They were wonderful kids. Two of them have passed away. I recently had a visit from the youngest one who has just retired while living in another state and has now moved back to Jamestown. My son Jason lives in Lakewood, near Devils Lake, and he and his wife, Elaine, have a daughter, Sydney, who is now 12 years old and in grade six. I love her visits, mainly on weekends, as she has lots of school activities going on during the week. My daughter, Josie, is married to Brian Just and they have two sons, Jobie and Santo, ages six and eight.

What are some of your hobbies?

My hobbies include gardening in the summertime, reading every day, playing simple tunes on my piano, playing my CDs, walking in the summertime, getting together with friends, and belonging to different church groups that usually meet regularly.

Why did you become a member?

I have belonged to NDAB for 42 years. I remember the day Olga Neal called me from the NDSB and asked to come to camp. I had already lost a lot of eyesight by this time. I could hardly believe my ears that she thought I could take time to go to camp! I had two small children at the time and could not even imagine going anywhere without them.

What is your favorite memory from NDAB events?

Perhaps my favorite memory would take me back to camp one summer when four of us girls decided we could all climb up on a huge rubber inner tube! After much falling back in the water, we were able to pull this feat off! We were all very proud of ourselves!

What positions have you served on the NDAB board or helping on certain committees?

I was a vice president for one term and was on the board for at least three years. I also led the Family Seminar for two years in its early beginnings. I was a delegate for NDAB in 1995 at the ACB Convention held in North Carolina. What a wonderful experience! I shared that experience with two other couples, Kathy and Stan Larson and Castle and Dennis Everson.  I enjoyed the whole thing! In 2019, I was one of three delegates to the ACB Convention held in Washington, D.C.  That was another wonderful experience!  I especially enjoyed our trip to the Capitol in which we sat in on different meetings and were able to visit our representative in Congress, Mr. Armstrong, in his office. Through Allan, we were also invited to visit with the Senator from Wyoming.

Have you received any awards from NDAB? 

I was co-achiever of the Ed Christianson Award in 2020, along with Paula Amundson.

What do you consider NDAB’s greatest accomplishment?

I think the greatest thing NDAB as done is to establish a summertime camp for visually/blind people to attend. It opened up a whole new world for me!  I found acceptance and friendship, and I no longer felt so isolated.

Why should someone join NDAB?

I think any visually impaired person should join NDAB as it definitely opens up one’s horizons and makes things seem more possible!

Good Question!

Submitted by Ken Dockter, NDVS/SB Adult Program Coordinator

Asking questions when out and about can be intimidating. But, asking questions can be helpful in a variety of settings, such as a restaurant, a grocery store, on the street, a large retail store, or on public transportation.  Asking questions can be scary. Anxiety can arise, as well as trust issues or insecurities. In actuality, asking for help shows signs of strength, confidence and resourcefulness. Our stress and frustration level will go down as we ask for information and assistance and receive the help that we are asking for.

There are 3 simple questions that we can ask when traveling and are out and about:

  1. Where am I?
  2. Where do I want to go?
  3. How do I get there?

For instance, if you are in a large retail store looking for household cleaning products, it is easy to wander the store and hope you will stumble upon the items you need, which may or may not happen. It can be frustrating to try and find items. Asking an employee or even another customer is fine. Most people have good character and will interact kindly with other people, helping and giving assistance.

When we are out to eat, menus can be difficult to read. There are many ways to be able to know what is on the menu. You could look at it ahead of time online, or, when you get there, you could use technology (zoom in using the camera on a cell phone or a handheld magnifier). But asking the server if they have specials or what they recommend is a great way to find out about the restaurant and good food selections. It can be hard asking these questions but asking them is a sign of strength.

Asking for help is a strength as a person will be more efficient in accomplishing a task that needs to be completed. The weakness that many of us have is not asking for assistance and becoming frustrated at times while trying to do things completely independently.  Asking for help shows signs of strength, confidence, and resourcefulness.

As we ask for help, be kind, be approachable, be clear on the question, and be thankful.

Ken Dockter can be reached at or (701) 795-2724.


Submitted by Amy Osvold, NDVS/SB Vision Rehabilitation Specialist

What is SUPPORT Day? Participants will learn how to:

Support each other through the changes and challenges associated with vision loss

Understand the emotions associated with vision loss for the individual and their support persons

Pursue independence throughout the vision loss journey

Promote healthy relationships throughout the vision loss journey

Optimize your strengths to help cope with the changes and challenges of vision loss

Reach for the possible

Take control of life, love, and happiness with vision loss

Who: open to ND residents and their support people (family, partner, or friends) regardless of vision condition or degree of vision loss.

Where: Anywhere in ND we can find a space for the event.

Number of Participants: We would like at least five individuals with vision loss and their support persons to commit to this 4-hour session.

For more information, contact:

Amy Osvold, MSW
701-857-7635 or 701-340-9226

Transform Your World with a Voice Assistant

Submitted by David Olson, NDVS/SB Information Technology

Imagine struggling to read the morning news, adjust the thermostat, or even set an alarm. For those with low vision or blindness, these everyday tasks can become significant hurdles. However, technology is offering a helping hand – or should we say, an ear – in the form of a voice assistant.

We’re giving away a couple of Google Assistant smart speakers and an Alexa Mini V2 to brighten the day and simplify the lives of those who could benefit most from this innovative technology.

These powerful devices are more than just speakers. They can:

  • Become a trusted source of information: Listen to the latest news headlines, audiobooks, or podcasts, all controlled by voice commands.
  • Transform daily routines: Set alarms, make hands-free calls, and even get step-by-step recipe instructions – all without needing to see a screen.
  • Boost connection and entertainment: Enjoy music, play games, or simply chat with loved ones – all with the power of your voice.

Want to see how a voice assistant can make a difference? Let us know! This is a fantastic opportunity for someone with low vision or blindness to experience the life-changing potential of this technology. For more information or to request one of these devices (for free!), contact David at or (701) 795-2712.

FMCT Presents Audio-Described Feature

Submitted by Vince Ulstad and Deb Johnsen

The Fargo-Moorhead Community Theater presented an adaptation of the 1966 book and 1967 movie “Wait Until Dark” with audio description at the Moorhead Hjemkomst Center on Saturday, April 6. Karla Peterson assembled a stage tour pre-show for low vision and blind individuals and their sighted guides. This was extremely useful in helping orient ourselves to the stage set and caused anticipation to increase ahead of showtime. The 1967 film starring Audrey Hepburn was familiar to many of the attendants.  Our dear friend, Shereen Faber, who was an avid arts enthusiast, had longed for this production to take place.  While she passed away about 3 years ago, her mother, Ruth, and niece, Christina, joined us for a time of pizza, pretzels, and cookies between the stage tour and the show preview. Karla Peterson, who regularly organizes audio description of FMCT productions, provided us with a pre-show synopsis of the play’s characters and plot line as well as audio description throughout the production via radio headsets provided by the FMCT. There were 16 ticketholders that were included in the audio described performance, including the guests with low vision or blindness and their sighted guides. Each guest with low vision or blindness was allowed a sighted guide to accompany them at a reduced ticket rate. It was truly a delightful evening for all, and we thank Karla and Shereen for making this outing possible!


Caption: A small group sits around a table on the stage while Karla Pederson describes the set before the performance.

Life Enrichment Opportunity

Submitted by Zelda Gebhard

Tired of doing the same old things? Ready to explore something new? Have you wanted to try something but didn’t have the money to do it? If any of above sounds familiar, keep reading.

NDAB has a program called Life Enrichment and we challenge you to use it to explore new possibilities. The purpose of the program is to financially assist NDAB members seek new life experiences in ways that enrich their lives by pursuing skills, training, and nontraditional education.

How it works: 

  • You must be a member to apply.
  • Identify an opportunity that interests you and collect the details.
  • Submit the Application Information listed below and send by mail to NDAB, PO Box 824, West Fargo, ND 58078, by email to or by phone, (701) 709-0262.

Application Information:  

  • Describe the opportunity.
  • State why you are interested in this opportunity.
  • Describe expected benefit to you and/or others.
  • Where will the experience be held?
  • When will it occur?
  • How much will it cost?

Responsibility of NDAB:  

  • If your opportunity is selected, 75% of the cost will be paid by NDAB, in an amount not to exceed $1,000.
  • “First Time” experiences will be given preference.
  • Monies will be distributed directly to the entity involved upon submission of registration or as reimbursement of expense receipt.

Expectations of Recipient: 

  • Recipients are asked to share information about their life enrichment experience including, but not limited to, their choice of the following: a presentation, a video, or a Promoter article.

Accessible Absentee Voting Update

Submitted by Zelda Gebhard and Allan Peterson

For these past many years, we have greatly appreciated the opportunity to independently vote at our election polling places, using the ExpressVote machine. Now, for those of us who find it difficult to get to our election polling places, we can plan and make an application that will enable us to vote an absentee ballot electronically from any device that has internet capability.

Much advocacy was done on this issue that began in 2020 with initial meetings that we, along with staff from ND Protection and Advocacy, had with staff from the ND Secretary of State’s Office. This advocacy led to obtaining sponsorships and support from legislators for legislation to change ND law to allow this option to “anyone who has difficulty reading and/or marking a ballot” to vote an absentee ballot. After being made aware of the need and being assured that existing technology already being used by our military is secure, a bill was passed and signed into law in 2021 that included the option for an accessible electronic absentee ballot.

Under the supervision of Michael Howe, the current Secretary of State, the process of implementation has been completed. For North Dakota elections conducted in 2024, starting with the June 11 primary, the option of an accessible absentee ballot will be offered to voters.

On April 4, Allan and Zelda attended a demonstration of the application process and information about the actual absentee accessible voting process, presented by Erika White, ND Director of Elections. Our Secretary of State was present, as well as several ND Protection and Advocacy personnel.

To apply for an electronic absentee ballot, go to the direct link to the absentee application on the North Dakota Secretary of State’s website:

Complete the form, print, and sign. Now, you are ready to fax, email, mail, or hand deliver this application to your County Auditor.

Your auditor will then process your application and send you a unique voting PIN number. This number will give you access to the online ballot for your precinct. You are then ready to make your selections, review them and verify, and then hit the submit button.

A Zoom meeting to further discuss the process and answer questions was held on Friday, April 19. You can access the recording via this link:

We, as North Dakota residents who have visual impairments, are extremely fortunate indeed to have this additional voting option. Please say thank you by exercising your right to vote in whatever way works best for you.

Legislative and Advocacy Report Spring 2024

Submitted by Allan Peterson and Zelda Gebhard

Much of the work we do to represent NDAB and people with blindness and visual impairments has been the advocacy we have done to gain access to information that is readily available to people who are blessed with eyesight. Coincidentally access to visual information is the subject that runs through much of what we have been up to “advocacy-wise” lately.

On March 5, four of us representing North Dakota Association of the Blind made visits with our North Dakota congressional delegation in Congress to advocate for legislation that would improve and facilitate our access to electronic information. These visits were made in conjunction with the American Council of the Blind’s Leadership meetings, held annually in February or early March. This was the first year since 2020, before the pandemic, that we made in-person DC visits to our ND congressional delegation – Senators Hoeven and Cramer, and Congressman Armstrong. The NDAB trio of Trampes and Emily Brown and Zelda Gebhard made the trip to participate in the ACB Leadership meetings and then the trek to make in-person visits on Capitol Hill. Allan attended the Leadership meetings virtually and joined the in-person trio by phone to advocate for four important legislative priorities that would give us access to vital digital information that is often not accessible to those of us who are blind and visually impaired.

Our visits were made with staff members in each of the three offices on Capitol Hill. In truth, the staff members we met with were familiar to us because we have met with each of them in the past, and they were familiar with the issues we were promoting. Each of our visits went very well; the staff persons understood the efficacy of the legislation we were promoting. Aside, advocacy is just that, we do not have the power to pass legislation ourselves, we must convince our political representatives about the merits of our issues and most often that takes a lot of time and effort!

Briefly the four legislative priorities we promoted were:

  • Medicare and Medicaid Dental, Hearing, and Vision Benefits Act, which would qualify beneficiaries with low vision to obtain coverage under Medicare for needed visual aids.
  • The Medical Device Non-Visual Accessibility Act, which seeks to ensure that medical devices are manufactured so they can be independently used by people who are blind or visually impaired.
  • The Websites and Software Applications Accessibility Act, which seeks to establish a clear accessibility standard for making websites and software applications accessible to people with visual impairments.
  • The Communications, Video, and Technology Accessibility Act (CVTA), which seeks to update provisions of the 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act (CVAA) and adopt accessibility standards for providers of videostreaming and conferencing services.

During our meetings, we also stressed the need to continue federal funding for the Talking Book program funded through the National Library Service, the Older Individuals Who Are Blind Program funded through Vocational Rehabilitation, and for public transportation funded through the ND Department of Transportation, all of which are vital to North Dakotans who are blind and visually impaired.

Lately our advocacy focus has been on our ability as people with sight loss to cast a secret, independent ballot. This is, of course, a nationwide election year that in North Dakota includes a state primary election on June 11. The primary ballot can include elections for the offices of U.S. Senate & member of the U.S. House, ND governor and statewide elective offices, ND legislative offices, judgeships, potential initiated measures, and many local county, city, and school board offices. As citizens, it is our right and, dare say, duty to cast a secret, independent ballot that is available to us whether we go to an assigned polling site or now, for the first time ever, can choose to apply for and cast a secret, independent absentee ballot.

Nominations Committee Report 2024 

Surely all members are eager to meet at the Enchanted Castle in Regent for a fun-filled weekend and to take care of a little bit of NDAB business this summer. The nominating committee has developed a full slate of candidates for the 2024 elections which reads as follows:

President for a 2-year term: Trampes Brown

Vice President for a 2-year term: Lexee Steffan

Treasurer for a 2-year term: Rebecca Anderson

Board Director for a 3-year term: Elias Youngblom

Editor for a 1-year term: Emily Stenberg Brown

The dates of the 2025 ACB Conference and Convention will be held Friday, July 4th through Friday, July 11th in Dallas, Texas. Currently, we have two members listed from which to choose as our delegate to the 2025 ACB Convention: Janelle Olson & Vince Ulstad

We also need to select an alternate delegate. Our alternate delegate will serve as delegate if for whatever reason the elected delegate is unable to attend the national convention.

Alternate Delegate: 

Please remember nominations may be made from the convention floor only with the member’s prior consent. It is expected nominees are knowledgeable of the duties of the position which they seek to obtain. Please call one of us with any questions you may have or to receive copies of appropriate manuals or guidelines.

Nominees must meet all of the following qualifications:

  1. Have attained the age of 18 and paid annual dues.
  2. All elected officers and directors must be a resident of ND during their term of office or a city sharing a common border with its sister city in ND.
  3. To avoid conflict of interest, officers shall not hold office while serving as an officer in another consumer organization of the blind.
  4. No more than one member from a household shall serve concurrent terms.

A big “Thank You” to those that agreed to serve the organization as a leader. Your willingness made the task of developing a slate of candidates easy. Good luck during elections!

Respectfully submitted on behalf of the Nominations Committee,
Paula Anundson, Carol Scallon & Michelle Zentz

Development Report Spring 2024

Submitted by Allan Peterson, NDAB Development Director

‘Tis the time to celebrate this year’s NDAB Giving Hearts Day successes and to acknowledge the accomplishments of our fund-raising achievements since the beginning of our current NDAB fiscal year that began on June 1, 2023.

Among NDAB’s Giving Hearts Day highlights in 2024:

  • This year Giving Hearts Day (GHD) was held on February 8. It was NDAB’s 8th anniversary of our participation in this appeal. Giving Hearts Day was begun by the Dakota Medical Foundation’s initiation of this regionwide event in 2008. Since then, Giving Hearts Day has grown exponentially. This year records were broken again for the numbers of organizations that participated (612) and for funds raised (over 29 million dollars).
  • This year NDAB raised $24,939.91 from 190 donors who made their donations online or sent a check that was uploaded into our Giving Hearts Day account on or before February 8, 2024.
  • NDAB established a Match Fund account of $22,549 from 38 donors in advance of Giving Hearts Day. The $22,549 in this account was what was used to match Giving Hearts Day donations dollar for dollar up to that total.
  • Thus, NDAB was credited with having raised $47,488.91 for Giving Hearts Day. Interestingly, when 29 million is divided by 612 that amount is $47,385.62. NDAB may have been close to the average amount raised by organizations that participated this year.
  • Six donors gave a total of $2,005 that were received after the February 8 deadline imposed by Giving Hearts Day and thus could not be included in GHD’s official total. Although these donations were received after the deadline and could not officially be counted, for GHD purposes, we use them as “bonus bucks.” For internal purposes they are added to our Giving Hearts Day total. When this is done, our Giving Hearts Day grand total is $50,493.91.
  • Giving Hearts Day remembrances: 22 Giving Hearts Day donations were made in memory of a loved one or to honor someone special to the donor.
  • Lions connections: there were 28 ND Lions Clubs that made donations to NDAB for Giving Hearts Day and 6 clubs helped to create our 2024 NDAB Match Fund.
  • A total of 3,386 Giving Hearts Day letters were mailed to potential donors. Our cost for the mailing was $3,438.34 or approximately $1.02 per piece.

As chair, I extend an extremely grateful thank you to those who served on the NDAB Giving Hearts Day Committee and played a pivotal role in our success: Michelle Zentz, Kaity Young, David Olson, Missy Miller, Zelda Gebhard, Lilly Dunrud, Trampes Brown, Rebecca Anderson, and Brant Adams. The total volunteer hours devoted is hugely impressive – I cannot thank you enough for your dedication to this effort!

To attract media attention for our participation in Giving Hearts Day and to thank the Horace Lions and other Fargo-area Lions Clubs, we hosted “Dessert in The Dark” at The Grove Coffee & Wine Shop in Horace on January 25, 2024. Approximately 24 Lions and friends were our guests. Sighted guests were asked to wear a blindfold while dining on a piece of pie and a beverage of their choice. The purpose? To give our sighted guests a taste of what it is like to live with sight loss and do a normal life activity like eating a piece of pie. I thank Missy Miller and Elias Youngbloom for joining me to briefly tell our individual stories about dealing with sight loss at this event. Kevin Wallevand, a human-interest reporter from WDAY-TV in Fargo, did a story about our event that was shown on the 6 and 10 o’clock news shows that evening. Many who witnessed this coverage commented on how well this story was presented to the viewing audience.

Below is a glimpse at one point in time at our fund-raising achievements. A more up-to-date report will be given at this year’s NDAB Convention and in the August edition of the Promoter.

Totals for 6/1/2023 -2/29/2024 by category:

GHD: $26,844.91 (includes the $2,005 bonus bucks)

Walk for Vision: $ 3,502.04

Individual & Corporate Donations: $ 8,706.46

Charitable Gaming: $14,100

ND Lions Clubs: $ 2,200

Total: $54,648.41

Of course, these totals will change a bit by the end of the year but wanted to share the success we have achieved thus far!

Donations January – March 2024

Submitted by Rebecca Anderson, Treasurer/Registered Agent

Donations January to March 2024

Total $29,208.33

GHD $24,915.78

From many generous donors

GHD Bonus $2,005.00

Generously donated, arrived after GHD

Lions $200.00

Bowdon Lions

Richardton Lions

Memorials $55.00

Irene Davis and Ruth Geske in Memory of Shereen Faber

Other Donations $2,032.55


Marlene Ames


Stephanie Christenson

Hazen Community Chest

Kenneth Heiser

Michael Rerick


Jesse Wiesenborn

Your Cause

North Dakota Association of the Blind, Inc. Board of Directors Meeting Minutes

February 12, 2024

BOARD MEMBERS PRESENT: Trampes Brown, Lexee Steffan, Rebecca Anderson, Helen Baumgartner, Elias Youngblom, Gerald Byron, Janelle Olson, Allan Peterson and Zelda Gebhard

GUESTS PRESENT: Mary Stip, Paula Anundson & Doug Puetz

CALL TO ORDER:  Trampes called the meeting to order at 7:03 pm via Zoom.

WELCOME: Trampes thanked everyone involved for a successful Giving Hearts Day.

ROLL CALL:  Helen took roll call.


President: Trampes informed the board that he, Emily & Zelda will be attending the Leadership meetings in DC in March. There may be another Saturday morning planning meeting sometime in March. A link to a Google Pixel commercial will be sent out to the membership to show some Google accessibility features. The commercial was aired during the Super Bowl.

Secretary: In January 2024 a sympathy card was sent to Nick Pavel due to the loss of his father. Janelle made a motion, seconded by Lexee to approve the December 11, 2023, board minutes. MC A motion was made by Janelle, seconded by Gerald to approve the “What Can I Do to Help” document. MC A motion was made by Zelda to approve the updated Awards Guidelines, seconded by Gerald. MC The minutes for the September 2023 Special Board meeting will be sent out for approval by Trampes.

Treasurer’s Report: Rebecca reported there were corrections that needed to be made to the November and December Treasurer’s reports. A motion was made by Lexee, seconded by Janelle to approve the November and December reports as corrected. MC

Development Director: Rebecca reported all Thank You letters have been sent and checks deposited for GHD. A Dessert in the Dark was held in Horace, where the Horace Lions donated $7,500 to GHD. There were Lions members present from various Lions Clubs in the area. Allan reported we had a successful GHD, raising $48,242.86. This is a preliminary total raised. All of the $22,549 match funds were used. A mailing of 3,386 letters were sent out. Allan thanked those involved in the GHD event. Helen requested a net report on GHD for the next meeting.

Membership: Lexee reported we have 3 new members: Elamin Abaker, Fargo, VI; Wanda Bouret, Sheyenne, VI; & Brian Kunz, Jamestown, VI. Janelle made a motion to approve the three new members, seconded by Gerald. MC Julene Ramirez, Fergus Falls, MN, VI, is a returning member. Zelda made a motion to approve her membership, seconded by Gerald. MC


Awards: Mary reported that she has received 2 applications for the Robert LePage award. She sent out 95 applications. The deadline is March 15th.

DITD: Trampes reported that invitations are out to Canada, South Dakota and North Dakota Lions Clubs to purchase tickets. The event will be May 17th in Minot.

Publicity: Our brochure needs to be updated. Janelle and Elias volunteered to assist Zelda with this project.

Legislative: Three of the four resolutions that will be presented to our legislative delegation on Capitol Hill are repeats of past years and were passed at our State Convention. There is a petition circulating to have an initiative on the ballot that would require all voting be done by paper ballot in ND. This would make voting inaccessible for people with vision loss.

Communications:  The committee will meet next week. There will be a standing 2-month meeting time scheduled. Rebecca reported GoDaddy has been paid for the year.

Convention: The theme for the convention in June is Enchanted Journey. There are 19 rooms available at the Enchanted Castle. Every room has 2 queen size beds and are very spacious. There is a Bed and Breakfast nearby with 7 rooms. The Call to Convention packet will come out May 1st.


Digitizing NDAB’s History: Elias reported that he is not able to get an estimate until we know how much we will be digitizing. Janelle reported that Loris has the videos from the Talent Shows from Camp. She will try to find out how many years of Talent Shows Loris has. Trampes volunteered the Communications Committee to work on this project.


NEXT MEETING: Tuesday, March 26, 2024, at 7:00 pm.

ADJOURN:  Allan made a motion to adjourn, seconded by Lexee.  MC The meeting adjourned at 9:09 pm.

Respectfully Submitted, Helen Baumgartner, NDAB Secretary

Leadership Roster

President: Trampes Brown #389-7982

Membership Chairperson/VP: Lexee Steffan #260-8914

Secretary: Helen Baumgartner #663-8878

Treasurer/Registered Agent: Rebecca Anderson #277-8127

Past President/ Legislative Liaison: Zelda Gebhard #709-0262

Director: Elias Youngblom #612-968-1044

Director: Janelle Olson #570-0801

Director: Gerald Byron #993-8755

Development Director/Leg. Liaison: Allan Peterson #282-4644

Historian: Open

Webmaster: Brant Adams #419-566-0918

Promoter Editor: Emily Stenberg Brown #215-1796

Camp Committee Chair: Missy Miller #298-8091

Committee Chairpersons: 

Awards: Paula Anundson #490-0888 & Mary Lou Stip #720-0738

Communications: Trampes Brown #389-7982

Dining in the Dark: Janelle Olson #570-0801

Finance: Rebecca Anderson #277-8127

Scholarship: Tracy Wicken #772-7669

Sports and Recreation: Brant Adams #419-566-0918

Public Relations: Zelda Gebhard #709-0262

Local News Reporters:  

Bismarck: Robert Westermeyer #391-8499

Lake Region: Carol Schmitt – #662-3363

Minot: Dianne Giessinger- #720-4866

Williston: Janelle Olson – #570-0801

Grand Forks: Ruth Phalen – #772-4546

Communication Connections:



Communication submissions:

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

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

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