Silhouette of people standing together

The Promoter November 2018

November 4th, 2018 by

Table of Contents

From the President

Dear Members,

I received a check the other day from a seemingly unlikely source! It came from the Motor Vehicle Division of the North Dakota Department of Transportation. It was for the reimbursement of the taxes we paid when my husband and I purchased our car.

Because of my vision loss I can’t drive but also because of my vision loss I don’t have to pay sales tax on any vehicle I purchase and neither do you. It’s North Dakota law.

How does the ND Tax Exemption for Vehicles work? When you buy a vehicle, you pay sales tax on the purchase just like everyone else, then you mail the following to Motor Vehicle Division, ND Dept of Transportation, 608 E Boulevard Ave, Bismarck, ND 58505-0780:

Receipt that shows the amount of sales tax you paid
Letter from the Department of Motor Vehicle (DMV) denying you your license because of your vision loss.
Completed form SFN2883. You can find the form at http://www.dot.nd.gov/forms/SFN02883.pdf or at your local DMV.

It is a huge inconvenience not to be able to drive a car. This law helps a bit for us to be able to purchase a vehicle for someone else to drive us where we need to go. I have proof that it works. Don’t expect your car salesman to be aware of this opportunity. We asked the one we purchased our car from about the tax reimbursement law and he had no knowledge of it. These are the kinds of things we share with each other. Please pass it on.

I regretfully announce that Helen Baumgartner has resigned her position as NDAB Treasurer. I, along with the entire board, wish to express our thanks to Helen for all of her years of dedicated service as our treasurer.

Rebecca Anderson has willingly accepted the appointment to serve NDAB as our new treasurer. Rebecca and her husband, Greg, live in West Fargo. She recently retired from her position as a vision specialist with the Department of Vocational Rehabilitation. She has been a member of NDAB for ten years. If you need to contact her, call at 701-277-8127 or email at andfalde@msn.com. When mailing something to our treasurer, please use our newly acquired NDAB address: NDAB, PO Box 824, West Fargo, ND 58078. Welcome to the board, Rebecca!

Blessings to you this holiday season!
Zelda Gebhard

Announcements:

Next Board Meeting – Sunday, November 4th at 6:30 p.m.
Our meetings are open to the membership and we welcome you to join us by calling 515-604-9797 with access code of 824825#.
Just Talking – The third Tuesday of every month. See the article located in this Promoter with the topics for November, December, January and February and for instructions of how you can join in.

From the Editor

It seems like once again, a common topic in comments from many of you was the weather! I join in with all of you, wondering what happened to fall! With this issue being the last one for 2018, that means we are soon heading towards the last months of the year. so I will wish you a Happy Thanksgiving and best wishes for a beautiful Christmas and Happy New Year.

Thanks to Shereen Faber for sharing “The Other Serenity Prayer” by Eleanor Brownn for this issue of the Promoter.
“God, grant me the serenity to stop beating myself up for not doing things perfectly, the courage to forgive myself because I’m working on doing things better, and the wisdom to know that You already love me — just the way I am.”

Stan Larson shared this quote by Charlie Brown: “The past should be left in the past or it can steal your future. Live life for what tomorrow can bring and not what yesterday has taken away. Every day is a gift.”

Thanks again to those of you who have sent articles for this issue of the Promoter. I really appreciate your promptness in getting things emailed to me by the deadline! If there are quotes or articles you’d like included in the February 2019 Promoter, please send them to klarson@dia.net.

Kathy Larson, Promoter Editor

Welcome to NDAB

We welcome the following new members to NDAB:
Brian and Kim Charlson of Watertown, MA, Lindsay Fleming from Minot, Beatrice Krogen from Bottineau, Yvette Matthews from Mandan, and Emily Stenberg from East Grand Forks, MN.
Welcome back to Chris Gray of St. Louis, MO.

Meet New NDAB Member Emily

My name is Emily Stenberg, and I work as the librarian and volunteer coordinator at NDVS/SB. I decided to join NDAB after one of the adult clients who was receiving services at NDVS/SB asked why I wasn’t a member. I didn’t have a good excuse, so I thought I better join! I’ve had the pleasure of working with many of your members through my work at NDVS/SB, and I’m so impressed with all that NDAB does for its members and for all those who are experiencing vision loss. I grew up and went to college in Minnesota, and I actually still reside on that side of the Red River. My job at NDVS/SB allows me to learn something new every day, and I think that is the ultimate goal of any librarian! I’m excited to now be an official member of NDAB and look forward to getting to know you all and working with you all.

Announcement

The North Dakota Association of the Blind now has an address of its own. The board recently decided to establish a post office box. This gives NDAB an official address. This address will be used in many different ways. From now on, any mail directed to our treasurer should be mailed to: NDAB, PO Box 824, West Fargo, ND 58078.

Members of our NDAB Family

By Kathy Larson

On behalf of NDAB, sincere sympathy is extended to Missy Miller on the death of her Aunt Wilma Kappel of Fargo. She passed away on July 19, 2018. Wilma’s heart and hands were busy teaching her family and friends how to love, how to laugh, how to live, and how to pray. Her family meant everything to her.

We extend sincere sympathy to NDAB member Kathryn Loe on the death of her brother Loren Reid Loe, age 68 of Minneapolis, MN. Kathryn was able to get to MN to be with him at the time of our NDAB Summer Camp. She said he was taken to ER three times before he was finally admitted to the hospital. A beloved son, brother and uncle passed away August 12, 2018. He is survived by two sisters, a niece, two nephews and many other dear relatives and friends.

Some of you might remember my sister-in-law Joyce Spitzer of Streeter, ND. She and my twin nieces Brittany and Brooke used to come to our Saturday night camp auctions years ago. Her husband Stan died August 20 at Sanford Hospital, Fargo, as a result of injuries sustained in a motorcycle accident. I received news of the accident while at camp, and my husband and I went to Fargo at the close of camp to see brother-in-law Stan and family. He will be greatly missed.

We extend our deepest sympathy to Renae and Gary Huseby on the death of Renae’s brother Leslie Hendrickson. He died peacefully at his home in rural Lakota, ND, on Tuesday, September 11, 2018 at age 72. He was raised in rural McVille, ND, and graduated from McVille High School in 1963. He enlisted in the Navy as an Engineman during the Vietnam war and was honorably discharged after fulfilling a four year contract. Les worked for many years and eventually retired from the Burlington Northern Railroad. He was very active in the community through various groups and part-time jobs, an active member of the American Legion in Michigan and Petersburg, volunteer fire department, dealt blackjack and called Bingo for the Lakota Community Club, and was on the Williams Township Board.  Les loved spending time with his family and was very proud of his children and grandchildren. He is survived by his wife Monica of 44 years, 2 daughters, 4 sons, 13 grandchildren,1 brother and 4 sisters. Les was greatly loved and will be greatly missed by all that knew him well.

Those of you who attend NDAB Summer Camp know Rich Fadness, the auctioneer from Bismarck who conducts our Saturday night auction. It was with much sadness that we learned that his wife Belinda passed away on Friday, September 14, 2018, at home surrounded by her loving family. She was a very strong Christian throughout her life. Her courageous soul with a quick sense of humor has left many impressions. Despite her hardships, Belinda always maintained a positive attitude. We extend our deepest sympathy to Rich and family.

Some of you will remember Eunice Christensen of Grand Forks, a long-time NDAB member. She passed away September 18th, 2018 at Valley Eldercare in Grand forks. She was the wife of Edwin Christensen, who for many years, was the Administrator of Services for the Blind and Visually Impaired in Grand Forks.

Dining In The Dark

By Janelle Olson

Just a quick note to let everyone know the Minot Dining event that was scheduled for Thursday, October 4th was postponed. Sometimes adjustments need to be made in plans, bumps in the road happen and plan “B” pursued. Ticket sales were a bit on the slow side and it was decided to move the event to another date in the spring. As of this writing, April 4th has been selected.

NDAB is honored to partner with the generous Minot Lions for this project.

Thank you to all of the NDAB Board and members who agreed to be table hosts and know that you are on the list for April 4th.

NDAB Summer Camp 2018

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

The 48th annual NDAB Summer Camp was held August 5-12 at the Elks Camp Grassick. Campers totaling 27 and the staff of 23 made up the 50 in attendance. There were three campers that canceled due to various reasons. We welcomed five new campers and three new instructors. The new campers were Beatrice Krogen from Bottineau, Tim Kachel from Jamestown, Brant Adams from Bismarck, Cheryl Cassman from Fargo and Shannon Houle from Dilworth, Minnesota. Morgan VanWell, Dawn Freemont and Yvette Matthews were new instructors.

As the week progressed, the weatherman kept turning up the heat but was kind enough to cool it off at night. We had just one short-lived thunder storm during our off time in the late afternoon.

The classes and instructors were as follows: Caning – Mike Hoeppner and David McCloud; Basket Weaving – Paula Anundson and Dave Sundeen; Para Cord Braiding – Dawn Freemont and Dianne Giessinger; Round Loom Knitting – Whitney Engbrecht and Helen Baumgartner; New Camper 101 – Janelle Olson and Mark Kueffler; Let’s Talk – Mark Kueffler; ND History, Source of Services, Touchy Geography, Eye Diseases, Treatment Approaches & Current Research – Allan Peterson; Leisure Activities – Becky Monroe; Braille – Lexee Steffan; Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness, Yoga and Strike Up the Band – Janelle Olson; Personalized Technology – Nancy Kracl; Ukulele – Angie Kokott; Travel with Kathy and Dance – Kathy Larson and Karlyn Frantsen; Computer – Kathy Larson; Audible Electronic Darts – Morgan VanWell; Blind Archery – Yvette Matthews; Walking and Chair Exercise – Susan Jorgenson; Orientation and Mobility – Becky Monroe; Lifeguard – Dan Mimnaugh; Nurse – Kathy Johnson; Co-Directors – Loris Van Berkom and Rick Feldman. The Bread Science class was canceled prior to camp because the instructor Zelda Gebhard broke her lower arm which was not conducive to kneading bread. Becky had an informal water aerobics class in the lake during open swimming.

NDAB purchased an audible electronic dart board which was a great hit for everyone who signed up for that class. Blind archery was also very successful for the five students in that class. We were very fortunate to have Yvette Matthews from Mandan as a trained archery instructor.

The evenings were filled with activities. Sunday night began with our traditional receiving line Followed by a mixer during which everyone shared memories of past New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. Rick hosted the Monday night trivia contest as Jenny popped and served us popcorn. Each member on the winning team received a decorated hat filled with items needed for a New Year’s Eve celebration. On Tuesday night, Morgan hosted blackjack in the Dining Hall and Becky called bingo in Cabin #7. Wednesday night was filled with the casino night gift exchange followed by Hayrides provided by Dan and then a dance with recorded music provided by Nick Pavel. Thursday evening began with a great talent show hosted by Mark Kueffler and ended with a pizza party in the Dining Hall. “New Year Resolutions,” the Friday night banquet theme, planned by Kathy Larson and Janelle Olson, focused on the celebration of camp accomplishments and what campers can take with them in the new year: their new skills, camp memories and encouragement to live their authentic selves at home and in their communities. The Jim Geiger Band rounded out the night with great dancing and listening melodies. Auctioneer Rich Fadness from Bismarck along with other NDAB members conducted our Saturday night auction where we took in $6317.50.

We invite guests to visit on Wednesday from vision related agencies. We were pleased to welcome three visitors from North Dakota Vision Services/ School for the Blind: Ryan Torgerson, Dave Olson and Laurie Westling. Beth Bakke Stenejhem from ND Assistive Technology came from Bismarck.

Allan Peterson invites people from agencies who provide services to people with disabilities to share information for his Source of Services class. On Friday, Brittany Hanson and Cynthia Goulet from the Bismarck Protection and Advocacy project spent part of the morning at camp.

Sunday morning devotions, planned by Susan, preceded our final breakfast. Our final good-byes via our receiving line brought closure to our week.

There are so many thanks to extend after such a successful week because it takes the entire group working together to make it happen! Thanks to all of the instructors who spend many hours before camp begins preparing and then working diligently all week. Thanks to all of the campers who faithfully attend the classes and contribute their personalities into the mix. Thanks to David McCloud for ringing the 7:00 a.m. bell, to Janelle for leading the flag raising, to Nancy for sharing readings each morning, to the NDAB Concert & Marching Band for sharing musical talents as they marched parade style up and down the hill, to Clown Mike and Parade Marshall Dan who led the parade, to Becky for lining up people to lead the table grace for each meal, to Kathy and Janelle for planning the banquet, to Susan for leading devotions Sunday morning and to all those who hosted the evening activities. Thanks to everyone who faithfully worked hard setting up and tearing down for all of the activities. Thanks to Kathy Johnson and her set-up crew for the auction, to Rich and all who helped conducting the auction and to everyone else who helped with the auction with their time, talent and money. A special thanks to Dan for hosting us at the Elks Camp Grassick and to the cooks and kitchen staff for providing such scrumptious meals and snacks along with such great service!

The following reading was shared with us at the banquet. We want to pass it along to all of you.

Recipe for a Happy New Year

Take twelve whole months. Clean them thoroughly of all bitterness, hate, and jealousy.
Make them just as fresh and clean as possible.
Now cut each month into28, 30, or 31 different parts, but don’t make up the whole batch at once.
Prepare it one day at a time out of these ingredients:
Mix well into each day one part of faith, one part of patience, one part of courage, and one part of work.
Add to each day one part of hope, faithfulness, generosity, and kindness.
Blend with one part prayer, one part meditation, and one good deed.
Season with a dash of good spirits, a sprinkle of fun, a pinch of play, and a cupful of good humor.
Pour all of this into a vessel of love. Cook thoroughly over radiant joy,
garnish with a smile, and serve with quietness, unselfishness, and cheerfulness.
You’re bound to have a happy new year.

NDAB Membership Renewal Time

Can you believe, it’s that time of year again–time to renew your 2019 NDAB membership, that is! Your form for your 2019 NDAB membership renewal will be mailed the end of December. Along with your renewal form there will be an envelope enclosed for your convenience to mail it back. If you have not gotten your form by January 10th, please contact me at (701) 720-0738, or E-mail me at mstip@srt.com.
Happy holidays, everyone!
Mary Lou Stip, Membership Chair

“Thank You” from Karlyn Frantsen

Thank you so very much for honoring me with the Edwin Christensen Award at the June NDAB Convention! To God be the Glory! It was with much surprise and humility that I accepted this honor. I will forever cherish this memory as well as the other hundreds that I have been blessed with since becoming a member 32 years ago.

Adult Week

North Dakota Vision Services/School for the Blind holds several weeks of adult programming throughout the year. The next adult week is December 9th – 14th. Attendees arrive Sunday evening, the 9th, and classes start on the 10th. Classes can include: iPhone training, computer training, braille, daily living skills, Orientation and Mobility, adjustment to vision loss, recreation and leisure, and a group session that is quite fun. You pick your classes and the goals that you want to work on. Learning new skills in an area and brushing up on old skills can help gain confidence and skills to make us more efficient as we complete tasks on a daily basis. Five days might be too long for you and that is alright; we are flexible so if you want to come in for one day or five days, we can make different schedules work for you. This is training for you and we want to meet you where you are at. If there is a skill you want to learn but not sure how to do it, we can help you learn how to complete that task. For more information about adult programming, please contact Ken Dockter at (701) 795-2724 or kdockter@nd.gov.

Five Minute Cake in a Mug

Submitted by Brenda Bruins from Ken Dockter

Ingredients:
4 Tbsp. flour
4 Tbsp. sugar
2 Tbsp. cocoa
1 egg
3 Tbsp. milk
3 Tbsp. oil
3 tablespoons chocolate chips (optional)

Directions:
Mix in a microwave safe cup.
Add dry ingredients in the mug and mix well. Add egg and mix thoroughly. Pour in the oil and milk and mix well. Add the chocolate chips if using and mix well. Put your mug in the microwave and cook for three minutes. The cake will rise over the top of the mug but don’t be alarmed. Allow to cool a little and tip the cake onto a plate if desired.

To Houston and Beyond! My Experience at a Space Camp for Visually Impaired

by Emily Stenberg

This summer I had the opportunity to travel to Houston, Texas, to volunteer at a space camp for teens who are visually impaired. The three-day camp was held at Space Center Houston, which is an interactive museum and education center. Space Center Houston is near the Johnson Space Center, where mission control is located and astronaut training takes place. My trip was sponsored by the ND Space Grant Consortium, which has its headquarters at the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks. The Space Grant is a good friend to NDVS/SB. Deputy Director Caitlin Nolby and Coordinator Marissa Saad have made it a priority to work with our students during short-term programming weeks, and their STEM activities are often a favorite part of the students’ weeks. When Caitlin and Marissa heard about this new camp, specifically for students with visual impairments, they asked me to spread the word, and said that the ND Space Grant would pay for a student and chaperone to attend. Unfortunately, no student applied this year, but Caitlin and Marissa decided that to help spur interest, they would attend, and I was invited along.
Nine students from around the country attended the camp. Most of them were from Texas and the surrounding area. The education team included two instructors, Ashtyn and Jill, and five volunteers, Caitlin, Marissa, and me from North Dakota; Cass, the leader of the South Carolina Space Grant Consortium (who is also very involved with her state’s school for the visually impaired); and Gail, a TVI from Virginia.
Space Camp is for true space buffs. The science that was taught, and what the students were expected to already know, was very advanced, and I spent much of the classroom time glad to be a volunteer and not the teacher! While I love learning about space, astrophysics is not my specialty! Luckily it is for Caitlin, Marissa, Cass, and of course the instructors Ashtyn and Jill. Gail and I helped bridge the accessibility gap, and were able to give the instructional team ideas on how to make their information more accessible for the students, such as making sure the students were given every opportunity to read information with their fingers by creating tactile graphics and 3D models, ensuring that everything was described fully and accurately, and allowing the students to move closer to the information so that they could see it better.
The students completed five missions throughout the three days of camp: Rocket Build (building and launching a model rocket); Thermal Tile (creating a heat shield that would protect an “egg”-stronaut from high temperatures); Cryogenics Challenge (building a suit that would protect a marshmallow astronaut from dry ice); Sphero Drop (creating a parachute that would allow an egg to land safely when dropped from the top of a ladder); and a Coding Challenge (coding a robot to maneuver through an obstacle course). The students were split into three groups of three students to work on these challenges. The two parent chaperones that were attending were also a team. Yes, all chaperones are expected to participate in the challenges! Nervous at first, these two moms said that, in the end, participating in the challenges allowed them to better understand their child’s experience at camp and their enthusiasm for space. They also took first place in one of the challenges! Go moms!
One of my favorite parts of camp was when Dr. Robert Shelton visited the classroom and talked about his job at NASA. Dr. Shelton works down the road at the Johnson Space Center, where he uses a computer equipped with JAWS and walks down the hallways with a white cane. He is blind, but to the students at camp, he was proof of what they are capable of. Dr. Shelton extended his visit so that he could eat lunch with us and answer all the questions the students had for him. Witnessing him connecting with these students was such an inspiring moment.
The other highlight of the week for me was watching the students work together, learn from each other, and help each other out. Even though the nine students all came from different places and had different visual conditions, they were fast friends and incredibly supportive of each other. I feel very lucky to have been able to have met these students, and I would not be surprised to find out in 20 years or so that one of them is the first astronaut who is visually impaired, or to hear that one of them is the first person to land on Mars.
This camp is already scheduled for the summer of 2019, and I think it would be great if Space Center Houston would expand these specialized camps to other low incidence populations as well. While every student can attend any of the camps at Space Center, I think everyone who experienced the week saw the benefits of attending a camp specifically for a special population. These students did not have to hide their visual impairment; they never missed out on information because it wasn’t accessible. They also formed incredible connections with each other, and they showed all of us just what they are capable of – and that extends to infinity and beyond!
Caitlin, Marissa and the ND Space Grant consortium have committed to sending a North Dakota teen to this camp in the future, and I hope that after hearing about my experience, there will be many students who will want to attend. (I’m guessing there will be many adults who want to attend as well!) NDAB has also stated that they would be willing to help sponsor ND students who are interested in attending this camp. I’d be happy to talk with any students, parents, TVIs, or anyone else who wants to hear more about my experience at Space Center Houston. You can also find more information on this camp on their website: https://spacecenter.org/space-center-u/visual-impairment-program/

Emily Stenberg is the librarian and volunteer coordinator at North Dakota Vision Services/School for the Blind. She can be reached by email at estenber@nd.gov or by calling 701-795-2709.

ACB Celebrates Marrakesh Treaty Being Signed, Sealed, and Soon Delivered to WIPO

WASHINGTON, Oct. 11, 2018 — The Marrakesh Treaty Implementation Act was signed into law by President Trump on Tuesday, October 10th. The treaty now moves to the U.S. State Department to prepare the official diplomatic documents for delivery to Geneva where it will be deposited at the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) headquarters, joining the list of other ratifying countries committed to expanding access to published works in accessible format for people who are blind and visually impaired, along with those who are print-disabled.

“We’re excited that the United States has cleared the way to help in ending the global accessible book famine,” said ACB President Kim Charlson. “It’s been a long journey, and we’re thankful for the hard work and determination that the publishing industry, lawmakers, and all advocates have demonstrated over the years to get us to this point.”

The President signed the treaty legislation after coming to his desk with unanimous support from both the Senate and House of Representatives. Treaties typically just require passage by the Senate; however, Congress had to pass additional legislation to assure that U.S. copyright law was aligned with the treaty’s language and other participating nations’ laws. The new treaty removes copyright constraints when accessing and sharing special format works in braille, audio, and other accessible formats internationally.

“ACB recognizes that nations should not stand in the way of literacy, and the Marrakesh Treaty guarantees that people with disabilities can share equally in that right,” said ACB executive director Eric Bridges. “ACB is humbled to have been at the table since this landmark treaty’s inception, and we look forward to working with our counterparts abroad to help expand the availability of published works into the hands of people who are blind all over the world.”

The treaty was a response to the grave concerns over the cumbersome international copyright laws that have made it difficult to gain access to published works in accessible formats like braille or audio. Agreed upon in Marrakesh, Morocco, on June 27, 2013, the U.S. will now join 71 other nations, including the 28 countries of the European Union, who ratified earlier this month.

The American Council of the Blind is a national grassroots consumer organization representing Americans who are blind and visually impaired. With 70 affiliates, ACB strives to increase the independence, security, equality of opportunity, and to improve quality of life for all blind and visually impaired people. Together, we make a bright future. Learn more by visiting www.acb.org.

Financial Help with JAWS and ZoomText

The Freedom Scientific Blog tells us about a discount program where blind SSI and SSDI recipients can get desktops with JAWS and ZoomText installed through Computers for the Blind for $70. Computers for the Blind’s customer support is available in English and Spanish: http://bit.ly/2Mruc7w

More news from Computers for the Blind on obtaining an affordable computer complete with JAWS, ZoomText and Fusion
Jonathan Mosen August 14, 2018

In June, we blogged about our partnership with Computers for the Blind, an initiative that sees JAWS and ZoomText pre-installed on all machines they distribute. Each application can be run on its own, or at the same time through Fusion.

We recently heard from David Jeppson, CFTB’s Executive Director, who told us of a new initiative we thought some readers would be interested in.

CFTB has access to additional grant funds to offer computers for $60 off the regular price.

You’re eligible for this grant if you are in the United States and receive SSI or SSDI due to blindness. You’ll need to provide a copy of your Social Security reward letter.

The grant is also available to parents of legally blind children or youth. In this case, the required documentation is an e-mail from the TVI or caseworker stating that the child needs a computer, would benefit from it, and purchasing a new computer with assistive technology software would create a hardship on the family. It’s not necessary to produce eye reports or income verification.

When your qualification for the grant is verified, you can purchase a desktop computer with a large screen and a home edition license of JAWS, Fusion, or ZoomText. The price includes the JAWS training bundle.

A desktop under this program costs just $70. Laptops are also available under this program, but only to a college student currently taking classes on campus. You will need to provide proof of your attendance. If you are such a student, the Cost of a laptop under the grant is $125.

Computers now ship within two weeks.

David also tells us that CFTB’s Customer Service, available at (214)340-6328, now offers customer service & tech support in English & Spanish.

For more information, please contact CFTB at the above number, or visit the CFTB website.

It’s a pleasure to partner with CFTB as we continue to put technology that maximizes empowerment in the hands of more people.

‘I’ll definitely be back:’ Blind NDSU fan from Bismarck attends first Bison football game

By John Miller

FARGO — Mickey Teubner of Bismarck couldn’t see the field during Saturday’s North Dakota State football game, but he still felt the electric atmosphere of the Fargodome.

Teubner was born prematurely and has never had his sight. When he was about 8 years old, he began to understand that he had never experienced one of the senses.

Read the full article at https://www.inforum.com/news/4500057-ill-definitely-be-back-blind-ndsu-fan-bismarck-attends-first-bison-football-game?fbclid=IwAR12KBvJbrKafQrN0xKt7nJIbbYv9YrnS9Fra3wEB_pMiNjnEnNK3LaqeHs

Just Talking

Do you like talking? To learn more about each other, technology or our world, we have been getting together by phone on the third Tuesday of each month. You can join in the conversation too!

Just dial 515-604-9797, access code 824825#. Remember there will be long distance charges unless you call in with a phone that is toll free such as a cell phone or home phone with free long distance.

If you have something you would like to talk about, please call me at 701-493-2399 to suggest a topic for a future call.

Future dates and topics include:
November 20 – Let us give thanks! What or who are you thankful for? How does being thankful make you a happier person?
December 18 – Do you have a favorite game? Share with other what you enjoy doing to help the long winter hours pass more quickly. It could be something you do solo or with others.
January 15 – How do you get to where you need to go? What’s available? Find out how others deal with the transportation issue. Dial in and share your transportation tips.
February 19 – What do you know about Aria? What can it do for you? Learn more about the amazing tool that is helping many to be more independent.

Let’s keep talking!

Jaguar Is Outfitting Its Electric Cars With Spaceship-Like Noises

Regulations all over the globe are calling for electric cars to emit noise as they creep along the road at low speeds in order to protect those with visual impairments. The Jaguar I-Pace will begin to be fitted with an Audible Vehicle Alert System in order to alert pedestrians that the SUV is in motion. Jaguar revealed the noises that its newest lineup of electric vehicles will emit, and it sounds out of this world.

Like all electric cars, the noise emitted while under certain speeds can be difficult for pedestrians to hear, and people who are visually impaired will have a greater difficulty discerning that a vehicle might be traveling in their direction. Because of this, regulations in the United States and European Union have become the key focus of automakers looking to outfit the future with electric mobility. In the United States, vehicles have until 2020 to comply with the legislation, while the EU has adopted a starting point for 2019.

Read the full article at https://www.msn.com/en-us/autos/news/jaguar-is-outfitting-its-electric-cars-with-spaceship-like-noises/ar-BBOg9fd

Hey, Texas. Students need to learn about Helen Keller. Don’t remove her.

By Haben Girma
Haben Girma is a disability rights lawyer, author and public speaker.

I am Deaf-blind, and I almost missed my first lesson about Helen Keller. In second-grade U.S. history, my teacher scheduled Helen Keller’s story after a lesson in square-dancing. I remember my heart racing as I danced a do-si-do with my not-so-secret crush. So when our teacher told us about Keller, I was not-so-secretly distracted.

But throughout my schooling, snippets of Keller’s story would come back to me. I would turn to the nearest computer wondering: How did she . . . ? In high school, I finally read her books and marveled that she excelled in college before the Americans With Disabilities Act, before digital Braille and before, of course, the Internet. She pioneered through the world’s unknowns in a way that inspired me as I carved a path for myself. If my school hadn’t taught us about Keller, I might have do-si-do’d a different direction entirely. When I tell people about the path I did take — law studies at Harvard University and work as a disability rights advocate — they think back to their own lessons on Keller. Learning her story sparks something students carry with them into adulthood.

Read the full article at https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/hey-texas-students-need-to-learn-about-helen-keller-dont-remove-her/2018/09/19/e8b85d3a-bb76-11e8-bdc0-90f81cc58c5d_story.html?noredirect=on&utm_term=.7b9292e13a89

NDAB to Participate in 2019 Giving Hearts Day

By Allan Peterson, NDAB Development Director

In about 3-4 months, on Valentine’s Day, Thursday, February 14, 2019, North Dakota Association of the Blind, together with some 400+ other nonprofit charitable organizations, will participate in the 2019 Giving Hearts Day (GHD) Appeal!

The 2019 edition of Giving Hearts Day marks NDAB’S third year of participation in Giving Hearts Day. Our first year of participation was the GHD 2017 Appeal on February 9, 2017 in which we raised a total of $7533. CHEERS AND MUCH LOUD APPLAUSE! For the 2018 GHD Appeal on February 8, 2018, we raised a total of $18,887.38 from GHD donations.

Thanks to many, the following is a list of some worthy, well-earned NDAB highlights from the 2018 Giving Hearts Day Appeal!
We won two awards! One was a $500 award for marketing; this award was given in recognition of our collaboration with the Minot Lions in hosting the “Dining in The Dark” event. The second $500 award was termed a “Stretch” Award – this for being one of five organizations with the highest percentage increase in the total amount of dollars raised.
NDAB was successful in being named as one of ten organizations that won a $2500 award from Gate City Bank. This award was based upon the number of phone calls that supported NDAB’s bid to be selected as one of the ten Gate City winners. Thanks so much to the many that made those calls!
Through our engagement in the 2018 Giving Hearts Day Appeal, we did involve more of our NDAB members and recruited volunteers to help support our cause.
For the upcoming 2019 Giving Hearts Day Appeal, the Impact Foundation plans to grant even more incentive participation awards and is also working to engage more businesses and employers to support the Giving Hearts Day Appeal.
Among the many reasons that support participation in Giving Hearts are: (1) marketing & publicity. Every year this event seemingly gets greater attention from our local media; (2) on-line giving is very appealing to many potential donors who find the convenience of making an on-line donation very attractive; (3) there is a measure of creditability that goes along with being included as a participating organization in Giving Hearts Day, and (4) is the education and mentoring that’s involved with GHD.

Essentially, Giving Hearts Day, with a few variations, continues to be a one day only, on-line fund-raising appeal. The most important day to keep in focus is Giving Hearts Day itself, February 14, 2019.

Important guidelines to follow when making an on-line donation:
On February 14th, 2019 in order to make a secure online contribution to NDAB, go to www.givingheartsday.org and click on the Giving Hearts Day Donate button and then select North Dakota Association of the Blind from among the listed charities. On-line Donations can be made by debit or credit card. It is a secure and safe transaction. Millions of dollars have been donated safely and securely.
The allowable on-line giving period will begin at 12:01 a.m. Thursday morning, February 14th and will end at midnight that same day. This is strictly a one-day opportunity to have your gift matched!
All on-line donations that day must be at least $10 to qualify as a match; donations less than $10 won’t count. All donations are eligible for a tax deduction.
GHD donations can also be made by check and can be counted as donations on Giving Hearts Day, but there are a few stipulations on how this can be done. Checks must be dated February 14, 2019, and mailed to Allan Peterson, to be received before February 14. The checks will be uploaded into the donations made by check into the GHD system on that day to be counted among the donations that we receive as a part of GHD.

There are two other possibilities that The Giving Hearts administrators at the Impact Foundation are offering this year:
The sale of gift cards that can be purchase for use on Giving Hearts Day. These cards can be “gifted” so that someone who receives these cards can donate to the charity of their choice. The attractive feature about the gift cards is that there are no associated transaction fees.
The Giving Hearts administrators are seeking to expand the number of businesses and employers who will match donations that are made by employees and family members. More information will be forthcoming about who may be offering these opportunities.

Want to help? These are ways to choose to help with our participation in GHD:
Like other nonprofits that are not direct health care providers, NDAB is required to establish a “match fund” of at least $4000 – this must be completed by no later than February 1, 2019. The more that we can accumulate in our match fund, the better because it all adds to our grand total and could qualify us to receive one of the GHD grant awards. Should you be willing to donate to this fund make a check out to NDAB, put GHD match fund in the memo line, and mail it to me: Allan Peterson, 7009 Horseshoe Bend, Horace ND 58047. I will need to receive the match fund donations by no later than January 27, 2019
One of the principle goals we would like to achieve is to expand the database of donors or potential donors. I hope to enlist the help of our membership of NDAB to generate this larger list of names for that database. If you know people you think might be open to contributing to NDAB, I’d appreciate it if you would share those names with us. Also, I would like to accumulate as many Email addresses for potential donors as is possible.
If you or know of someone that have skills in marketing and working with social media, we would very much like to recruit them to be on our action team.

As the point person that has helped lead our efforts with Giving hearts Day, the following information I feel is key to a better understanding of GHD:
The Giving hearts Day appeal is administrated under the auspices of the Impact and Dakota Medical Foundations. The Impact Foundation is an integral branch of the Dakota Medical Foundation (DMF) family of Foundations. Each Foundation was created to serve a defined purpose and mission.
The 2019 Appeal will mark the 12th anniversary of Giving Hearts Day. Each year Giving Hearts Day has become an ever-larger event. It now includes not only organizations based in our Fargo-Moorhead area, but its outreach has expanded beyond to include hundreds of worthy charitable causes throughout North Dakota, the northeast area of South Dakota, and the western Minnesota region.
The first Giving Hearts Day Appeal generated something in the neighborhood of $400,000 in donations. At the time, this response was unexpected and considered to be amazing. In each succeeding year the amount of giving has substantially increased, so much so that the 2018 Appeal did raise somewhat over $13 million.
The investments that form the financial basis for DMF came from the sale of the Dakota Medical Hospital in Fargo some 20 years ago. Because the Hospital operated as a non-profit, by law, the proceeds from this sale needed to be distributed to other alternative nonprofit causes which was the prime motivating factor that led to the decision to establish a local non-profit foundation whose purpose was to support worthy causes engaged in addressing direct healthcare needs in the greater FM area community.
The grants that the Dakota Medical Foundation makes must be given to charitable causes engaged in direct health care and these organizations need to provide their care within the service area that the Dakota Medical Hospital had served (90-mile radius surrounding Fargo).
Fifteen years ago, a number of local nonprofit causes who didn’t provide direct health care, urge the Dakota Medical Foundation to find a means by which their causes also could be included in the Giving Hearts Day Appeal. To include these non-profit causes in Giving Hearts Day, it was legally necessary to create the Impact Foundation as a separate entity from DMF.
The Impact Foundation does not have the financial resources under its umbrella for it to grant Giving Hearts match funds for the nonprofits that are not direct health care providers.
It’s suggested here that NDAB’S goal be $20,000 for its participation in the 2019 Giving Hearts Day Appeal.

Postscript: I wish to sincerely thank Helen Baumgartner for her many years of service as NDAB’s Treasurer. We had a great working relationship and I truly have greatly appreciated her assistance with my work for NDAB as Development Director.
If you have any questions or suggestions, please contact me.

South Florida Mural Produces Bird Calls and Citrus Scents for the Visually Impaired

Bird calls and citrus scents greet pedestrians when they pass a colorful mural at 650 N. Andrews Avenue in Fort Lauderdale.

The installation features panels of a giant mockingbird feasting on bright orange citrus fruits on the walls outside the Lighthouse of Broward, the nonprofit group that provides education and training for people who are blind or visually impaired.

Boxy censors mounted above the art produce the sounds of the singing mockingbirds and the scents of orange citrus groves and fresh pine trees to make the mural a multi-sensory experience for the visually-impaired. The rinds of the painted fruit and the feathers of the bird are also raised so people’s fingers can graze them as they study the art.

Earlier this year, more than 150 volunteers helped paint the mural called “Main Course” and designed by Ernesto Maranje, an artist with Unconventional, which bills itself as “a socially responsible art production agency.” Partners of the art project include the Lighthouse Center and Cadence, a Fort Lauderdale landscape and architecture firm.

“It’s kind of an inclusive way for everyone even vision impaired to appreciate street art,” said Tim Lane, a member of the board for the proposed urban walking art trail called Mockingbird Trail.

The mural is part of that project, which would be a two-mile loop that weaves through the city’s Flagler Village neighborhood. The idea is to encourage people to walk the path which would be dotted with colorful bird-themed murals, sculptures and artsy hatched eggs and footprints based on a mythological giant mockingbird.

The mockingbird, by the way, is Florida’s official state bird.

Can Braille Survive in a Smartphone World?

On a recent morning, six visually impaired people gathered in a building on Walnut Street, huddled over their iPhones, waiting for Andrew Godwin’s intermediate technology class to begin. The day’s lesson? Creating and finding contacts in your cell phone.

At the Associated Services for the Blind (ASB) in Center City, people who are blind and visually impaired can learn the skills they need to survive and thrive in today’s digital-first society.

The nonprofit also offers classes to teach people with low vision how to read braille. For decades, ASB has been one of the largest producers of braille in the United States, creating versions of everything from books for the Library of Congress, to manuals for Comcast products such as your cable box or wireless internet router. But the number of braille readers has decreased significantly in the last 50 years.

Read the full article at http://www2.philly.com/philly/health/can-braille-survive-in-a-smartphone-world-20180830.html

Herbal Essences Launches New Etched Bottles to Help the Vision-Impaired

Herbal Essences is debuting an innovative and inclusive new shampoo and bottle design in honor of World Sight Day.

The haircare brand recognized that people with vision impairment often struggle with everyday tasks that others may take for granted, needing to come up with special systems to help them identify the color of their clothing when getting dressed, discern one dollar denomination from another and even decipher which bottles contain which products. So the company decided to create a special etched design on the bottom of their shampoo and conditioner bottles (lines for shampoo, dots for conditioner) to ensure those with visual impairment could easily tell one from the other without any additional help.

Read the full article at https://people.com/style/herbal-essences-new-bottle-design/

Use Dragon Speech Recognition in Public Without Anyone Overhearing You!

Recently we have seen a dramatic increase in people embracing this technology at work and in the classroom. Used in conjunction with speech recognition software it allows them to work freely, anywhere, without having to worry about disturbing others or being overheard.

Steno SR is the only speech recognition microphone that provides complete voice privacy and noise cancellation. By isolating the users voice it allows you to privately transcribe and communicate while simultaneously eliminating all background noise thus ensuring crystal clear recognition. It’s ideal for classroom settings, open offices, meetings, commuting, or anywhere you require voice privacy and noise cancellation. This assistive technology can be used with any speech recognition software including Dragon 15 and is compatible with all modern devices including smartphones, tablets, laptops and recorders.

Talk Technologies has been providing speech solutions to schools and industry for over 30 years and offers non-profit discounts. Please visit our website talktech.com to learn more.

Ski for Light 2018

By Cheryl Cassman

Ski For Light 2018 was an incredible experience; I had no idea what an amazing adventure I was about to embark on. This was my first time attending; already I am planning on returning next January 2019. Ski For Light will be celebrating their 40th anniversary in 2019 so I am sure it will be even bigger and better than any previous year.

For me, there are no words that can fully describe and do it all justice. Each person needs to go and see for him or herself.

On Sunday, the bus ride down to Deadwood, SD, was great; we all talked and laughed, and the time passed fairly quickly. We made stops along the way picking up more passengers and also stopping for lunch.

When we arrived in Deadwood, we all met at the Mineral Palace, the hotel where most of us stayed. Some participants stayed at other hotels just a few doors down from the Mineral Palace. The first order of business was to get signed up for the events we wanted to participate in. After signing up and getting checked in, we enjoyed complementary food and beverages. For those of us who were first timers, we had an orientation class to attend which was fantastic; all questions were answered, and I felt so welcome and at ease. The staff explained everything in great detail as to what we would be doing each day, and what we could expect. After orientation I spent a couple of hours just visiting with lots of new and interesting people both volunteers and participants. Everyone was so friendly and welcoming and warm. Later we got settled into our prospective rooms and got prepared for the next day’s activities.

Monday morning anticipation and excitement filled the air upon our arrival at the Meadows; my first thought was “I never want to leave this magnificent place.” They had a gigantic people mover that brought us all down the hill to the Meadows. What a beautiful sight, snow covered mountains and trees blanketed in crisp white snow. It was breathtaking! The air was so crisp, clean and clear and the temperatures so mild with no wind; wow, what a concept! The wonderful aroma of the wood fire danced in my nostrils, oh how delicious it was. There was a huge tent the size of a large building where they kept a wood burning stove going at all times for heat. There were rows of bails to sit on while you warmed up and visited with others. So many wonderful stories were shared with me it was just beyond anything I could imagine. Of course, if you cared to indulge, some were sipping on the Vern special, or if that didn’t suit you, a variety of other beverages were available as well. If you desired it, it was probably there.

Seeing firsthand the love, the camaraderie and the volunteerism involved in this magnificent organization is something that cannot be explained, you need to witness it yourself. To be among so many blind and visually impaired people from the US and Canada is an incredible feeling, like nothing I have ever felt before. You are in a safe place, where it is the norm to be blind or visually impaired and it’s wonderful. Being blind is beautiful!

Monday and Tuesday, I spent snowshoeing at the Meadows. We all had a guide assigned to us. She helped me to put on my snowshoes and lead me on the trails. She also helped me pick out all of my equipment that was needed. They have these two trailers that are full of ski and snowshoe equipment. The guide ensures that everything runs smoothly.

It was so peaceful and quiet, and I loved seeing all of the beautiful birch trees, and the towering pines. I had forgotten how much I love to snowshoe! I remember just stopping and just being in awe of the beauty that surrounded me. My guide was a fabulous woman from Nebraska. I so enjoyed meeting her. We shared in many great conversations and she was invaluable to me. Wednesday, I rode snowmobile, which was a total blast! I had not done that since I was a little kid! Later that same day I went to Terry Peak and tried out the downhill side. All of their adaptive gear is truly mind-boggling. Next year my plan will be to spend the bulk of my time on the downhill side. I want to experience everything at least once. Later that afternoon we returned to the Meadows where we had the biggest bon fire I have ever seen in my life!!! So we all just hung out and enjoyed the fire and conversation while nibbling on some goodies.

Thursday, our last full day, they had competitions, but I had decided not to partake in that event. However next year I feel it will be a different story.

My friend Kathryn Schmidt and I went on our own little adventure. Opting out of the competitions, we decided that we would go shopping. We hit all of the little specialty shops and really enjoyed ourselves. We saw a lot of interesting and unique items. We had to stop and treat ourselves to some ice cream mid-day, which of course hit the spot, then a nice lunch at a local eatery. We walked all over the place. I even got us turned around at one point. But no worries, I just stuck my head in the doorway of a business and asked, “Hey, could you point us in the right direction.” All of the people we encountered along the way were very kind and helpful.

There are so many activities to do during the day and evening I don’t think you could actually do them all. One evening there was Karaoke, which was fantastic. We have some really talented singers in our group; it was a real delight! One evening we had a buffet at one of the restaurants down the street from the Mineral Palace. We enjoyed good food and met some more new people and had a nice visit.

Finally Thursday our last evening in Deadwood, we had our awards banquet. At the Awards Banquet, one of the highlights was our very own Michelle Zentz being presented with the Dave Sundeen Golden Hose Spirit Award. Congratulations Michelle. There were so many awards given out, way too many to mention, followed by a lovely meal. And again, great conversation. All who attended had a wonderful and memorable time.

The food was beyond amazing, so much food, way too much food. They do a phenomenal job, especially if you hang out at the Meadows. One thing is for certain, you will not go hungry!

Friday morning about 8 a.m. we hit the road, back on the bus, and back to reality. After thanking everyone for their help and everything that was done for us and saying goodbye to new and old friends was bitter sweet. I don’t think any of us really wanted to leave. But until next year, I will be back!

There was an abundance of volunteers to help and answer any questions. I believe they have two volunteers for each person in attendance. I learned that most of these volunteers come back year after year. The volunteerism is so inspiring, there dedication is like no other I have ever seen. Ski for Light is an amazing, finely tuned machine. If you have not gone, you need to go and experience it for yourself. So what are you waiting for…? Get signed up! See you at Ski For Light 2019!

Black Hills Regional Ski for Light Reminder

Get out your warm hats, gloves and boots. It’s that time of year again – time to register for the 40th Annual Black Hills Regional Ski for Light event! That’s right, it’s the 40th year, so don’t miss all of the winter fun in the Black Hills.

Registration will take place at the Mineral Palace on Sunday afternoon, January 20th. Hotel check-out is Friday morning, January 25th.

As usual, a charter bus will depart from Fargo early Sunday morning. Scheduled stops to pick up participants along Interstate 94 will be made and then on to Deadwood. There is plenty of room on the bus and space to store luggage! Make sure to sign-up early and reserve your seat. The bus ticket cost is $20 round-trip. Make your non-refundable $20 check or money order payable to: North Dakota Association of the Blind. Please write Ski for Light Bus in the memo line on your check and mail to NDAB, PO Box 824, West Fargo ND 58078.

The Black Hills Ski for Light event cost is $200. This includes five nights lodging based upon double occupancy, four lunch meals, one evening meal and a banquet ticket. The payment also includes equipment rental costs. Partial scholarships for those who qualify for financial need may be available. Scholarships must be approved by the SFL Board. In order to receive a scholarship, applicants must be willing to share a room with another Ski for Light participant. please call the BHSFL office at 605-341-3626 to receive a scholarship application. Scholarship applications will be processed on a first-come first-serve basis. Deadline to receive scholarship applications is November 30th.

Register on bhsfl.org website. Amy Osvold, NDVS/SB Rehab Teacher, will be the contact for participants in western North Dakota. She can be reached by calling 701-857-7635 or emailing abrunner@nd.gov. Pam Haus, NDVS/SB Rehab Teacher, will be the contact for participants in eastern North Dakota. She can be reached by calling 701-795-2719 or emailing phaus@nd.gov. The instructors may assist with applications, raffle tickets, and answer questions you may have.

New Accessibility Improvements Now Available for Skype

A few months ago, we provided an update on our continued commitment to making Skype accessible. We are very grateful for the feedback you’ve given us—it continues to be an essential and impactful part of our work. We listened and made changes to make Skype more accessible for everyone.

Read the full article at https://blogs.skype.com/news/2018/07/25/new-accessibility-improvements-now-available-for-skype/

Wegmans Adds a ‘Game-Changer’ for visually impaired shopping

BOSTON – Grocery shopping can be very stressful. Navigating crowded aisles in a store full of people is frustrating, but if you’re blind, like Kim Charlson, then grocery shopping can be almost impossible.

A new tool, however, could revolutionize shopping for people who can’t see. It’s an app that helps the visually impaired navigate the world and does it using the eyes in your smartphone.

“You come into a grocery store and you’re just bombarded with everything all around you,” Charlson explained. “It’s just not the place a blind person can get around independently without some kind of support.”
She says, though, she now has the support she needs.

Read the full article at https://www.boston25news.com/news/wegman-s-adds-a-game-changer-for-visually-impaired-shopping/823183903

Braille Trails: Helping the Visually Impaired Experience Nature

At age 11, Evan Barnard came across a vandalized Braille nature trail, one of the few places in his home state of Georgia where the visually impaired could comfortably explore the outdoors. As he began fixing up the trail and working with the Georgia Council of the Blind, Barnard promised to do whatever he could to help his new friends. A few years later, he created his own Braille trail. As he searched for other Braille trails around the world, he founded Nature for All, an online community for the visually impaired to find nature experiences near them. The website now includes over 200 Braille trails and sensory gardens from 35 countries.

Blind Gamers

ARS Technica, a computer news site, published an article last week about blind gamers. The article features Karen Stevens, the new accessibility coordinator for Electronic Arts, who publish sports related computer games. While the article is aimed squarely at gamers, there are a couple of quotes that we can all nod along to:
“We already had an audience; they were just struggling,” Stevens said. “We were ignoring part of our audience.”
“As long as they know they’re close, they can try,” Stevens said. “It’s not as good an experience [as competitive sighted gamers get], but it is an experience. And having an experience is the most important thing.”
For blind players, Stevens says, “It’s not about a competitive gaming experience. It’s about playing with friends and children. Yes, it would be wonderful if they could have the same experience as a competitive gamer. But really it’s important that they have an experience.”
You can read the whole article at:
https://arstechnica.com/gaming/2018/03/how-blind-players-succeed-at-sports-video-games-theyve-never-seen/
If you want to learn more about blind gaming, try these links:
1. Audio Games – all about computer games that are either audio first, or have enough audio to enable blind playability: https://audiogames.net/
2. Electronic Arts’ Accessibility Portal which has blind access guides for some EA games on Playstation and Xbox: https://www.ea.com/able

Indiana State Museum Launches App for People who are Visually Impaired

Two years ago, staff at the Indiana State Museum and Historic Sites set out to do something few museums had done before: find a way to make a museum accessible and welcoming to people who are visually impaired or blind.
But, when a visit to most museums includes seeing objects, reading information and navigating indoors and out, how can that be done?
The answer was found in technology. Specifically, an app.

Read the full article at https://www.indianamuseum.org/connect/posts/indiana-state-museum-launches-app-for-people-who-are-visually-impaired

Getting What You Deserve

Reprinted with permission from Steve Goodier

Dramatist W. S. Gilbert (of the duo Gilbert and Sullivan) insightfully said, “You have no idea what a poor opinion I have of myself — and how little I deserve it.” How many people can say that? People’s poor opinions of themselves, more than anything, hold them back from getting what they deserve.
Born into poverty in 1927, actor Sidney Poitier weighed just three pounds and was expected to die. His mother planned to bury him in a shoebox, but somehow he survived. He grew up on a tomato farm in the Bahamas.
Yet in 1964, Poitier became the first Bahamian and first black actor to win both an Academy Award for Best Actor and the Golden Globe Award for Best Actor. In 2009, he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the United States’ highest civilian honor, and in 2016, he was granted the BAFTA Fellowship for outstanding lifetime achievement in film.
How did he achieve so much? Part of the answer is that he never allowed a poor opinion of himself to hold him back.
According to Alan Loy McGinnis in his book Confidence, Poitier achieved such prominence largely because of self reliance he learned from his parents. “I was the product of a colonial system,” he once said, “that was very damaging to the psyche of non-white people. The darker you were, the less opportunities were presented to you.”
He continued, “My parents were terribly, terribly poor, and after awhile the psychology of poverty begins to mess with your head. As a result, I cultivated a fierce pride in myself, something that was hammered into me by my parents, Evelyn and Reggie – mostly by Evelyn. She never apologized for the fact she had to make my pants out of flour sacks. I got used to ‘Imperial Flour’ written across my rear. She always used to say, ‘If it’s clean, that’s the important thing.’ So from that woman – and probably for that woman – I always wanted to be extraordinary.”
Whatever it was that his parents “hammered” into him gave him enough motivation to rise from poverty to prominence. He eventually cultivated an unwavering belief in himself. It is often true that we don’t let ourselves have more than we think we deserve. Not that any of us deserves more than anyone else, but perhaps most of us deserve more than we let ourselves have.
• If we feel trapped in a relationship which is destructive or unfulfilling, we deserve more.
• If we are employed in a job that under-utilizes our true abilities and skills, we deserve more.
• If we believe that life is going nowhere, we deserve more.
Does any of that describe you? And has a poor opinion of yourself ever kept you from getting what you deserve?
Poitier was taught that he was somebody, and therefore allowed himself to pursue what most folks in his circumstances today may believe are unattainable goals.
You, too, are somebody. You are a person of infinite worth. Will you allow yourself to experience what you really deserve?