[Colorado-talk] The Blind Coloradan Newsletter- Vol. 3, No. 3

Lisa Bonderson lbonderson at cocenter.org
Wed Dec 21 21:06:33 UTC 2011


             Newsletter of the National Federation of the Blind of Colorado


Vol.3, No.3                                                                     Winter, 2012                                                              


Scott C. LaBarre 

NFB of Colorado President

2233 W. Shepperd Avenue

Littleton, CO 80120

Phone: (303) 778-1130

slabarre at nfbco.org



Kevan Worley


1837 S. Nevada Avenue

PMB 243

Colorado Springs, CO 80905

Phone: (1-866) 543-6808

kevanworley at blindmerchants.org





A Letter From the Editor


Dear Reader,


This will be our third Blind Coloradan in the new era. We are proud to offer, as our lead article, the Annual Report from the President of the National Federation of the Blind of Colorado. In early November we held one of the most successful State Conventions in our history. You will see some items in this newsletter from that Convention, including the Resolutions advocating positions of critical importance to the blind of the state. This issue also features a profile of one of our leading state Legislators, Pete Lee. I want to thank all of our contributors. Not everything submitted made it into this winter issue. That gives us a bit of a start on the spring issue. Now, dear readers, friends, and colleagues we want your input, announcements, and articles; 2012 promises to be an exciting year for the National Federation of the Blind of Colorado. We will chronicle our struggles, efforts, and successes in the Blind Coloradan. Please help us do so by submitting materials. I will do what I can to organize and edit. I want to thank our crack newsletter team. These folks all help with proofreading and distribution. Thanks to Julie Hunter, Lisa Bonderson, Lorinda Riddle and Rachel Gallow. I wish for you all, dear readers, a glorious Holiday. Fill it up with friends, family, cheer, high-hopes for others, big dreams for yourself, and kindness toward all. Celebrate, rest, eat, and be at peace. Make ready for an exciting 2012; you can make it so!


At Your Service,

Kevan Worley

Aggregator & Contributor










National Federation of the Blind of Colorado 2011 Presidential Report: Delivered on the Fifth of November, 2011 by President Scott LaBarre at the State Convention 




We have all heard the saying "the writing is on the wall," meaning, of course, that some event or concept is predetermined and unalterable.  For the vast majority of society, the writing is on the wall with respect to attitudes and views regarding blindness.  The societal script dictates that a life with blindness is one of tragedy, low expectations, and is incapable of change.


We in the National Federation of the Blind know differently, however.  We know that with a positive belief in ourselves, proper training and resources, and a fair opportunity to demonstrate our innate capacity, a life with blindness need not be one of tragedy or despair.  We can and do live normal lives with all the joy and jubilation encountered by others along with the trials and tribulations common to the human experience.  Our way of experiencing the world is undeniably different but it is not inherently inferior or substandard.  It's just different.  We know this truth and live it daily.  For most of us, it is second nature and is an unconscious part of who we are.


In the National Federation of the Blind of Colorado, we have organized for the purpose of bringing our script regarding blindness to the broader society as well as carrying it to those who are blind that have not benefited from a positive philosophy and all that comes with it.  We have made great strides forward since our formation in 1955.  Life is much better for us than it has ever been.  In some ways, though, the work has just begun and we have so much left to accomplish until a time when blindness is accepted as a different yet normal way of experiencing the human condition.  To prove this point, we can all think of daily experiences that instruct us that we have not achieved our goals.  


Changing our destiny and our activities in the last year 


When we concentrate on those unfortunate experiences, an argument can be made that the future looks pretty bleak.  However, through our work, we are truly changing what it means to be blind and the tide is starting to turn.  Our activities over the last year demonstrate this fact.  In our affiliate there is no more significant or important program than our Colorado Center for the Blind.  At our Center, our Federation philosophy of hope and high expectations meets real life.  Since 1988, literally thousands of blind men, women and children have been touched by our programs.  You heard earlier this morning how our Center prospers in so many ways.  The worldwide impact of our programs cannot be understated.  And the quantity and quality of the Center's work is far too vast to mention here.  


However, I take a moment to comment on the tragedy that occurred at our Center immediately before Christmas last year.  As you know, a driver lost control of her vehicle under icy conditions while attempting to turn a corner and ran directly into a bus stop near our CCB apartments.  She collided with three of our students, seriously wounding Georgie Sydnor and Carissa Ubersox and killing David Nanney.  David had been elected as president of our CCB student Association and had found new life in the Federation philosophy and teachings.


The tragedy of this accident cannot ever be adequately expressed.  It struck at the core of who we are and what we believe.  Under the amazing leadership of Julie Deden, the Center family pulled together and navigated its way through the turbulent waters.  The public and media attention about the accident was intense and potentially damning but Julie handled all of it with strength and warmth.  Even though many internet bloggers said terrible things like the blind shouldn't be let out into public without minders, the general media coverage focused on the human side of the story and how the staff and students were dealing with it and did not question why blind students were out traveling on their own.  The coverage was exactly what it should have been, a story about a tragic accident and nothing more.  This accident could have caused our students and staff to wonder about and question our fundamental beliefs about blindness but it didn't.  In fact, the tragedy brought us closer together and compelled us to work even harder to acquire first class citizenship and freedom for the blind.  At a memorial service conducted in January, David's wife, Anne, urged us not to focus on the great tragedy but to continue living life fully and work harder than ever to bring independence and hope to the blind.  She told us that it is exactly what David Nanney would want us to do to honor him.  Our Center has been doing exactly that and has strengthened its commitment to changing what it means to be blind in profound ways.  Julie Deden, staff, and students, we salute you and we are so proud of how you represent us.  You are the living embodiment of the National Federation of the Blind of Colorado.  Our future is bright and secure because of you!


Protesting Subminimum Wages 


Astonishingly it is still legal to pay workers with disabilities subminimum wages in this country.  Section 14(c) of the Fair Labor Standards Act allows this practice and we are working hard to have this hideous section repealed.  This summer, that effort ran into a stiff obstacle.  Congress was set to reauthorize the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and had proposed adding new language into the law that would have linked rehabilitation programs to Section 14(c), making it even easier to get away with paying subminimum wages.


Nationally we organized over twenty protests before the state offices of the twenty plus United States Senators who sit on the committee of jurisdiction, the Health Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, including that of our very own, Senator Michael Bennett.  On Tuesday, July 26, 2011, the 21st anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, over eighty members of our affiliate gathered in front of Senator Bennett's office near downtown Denver.  Because of our work here and all throughout the land, the work on linking the Rehab Act with Section 14(c) has been indefinitely postponed.  Meanwhile, we have introduced H.R. 3086, the Fair Wages for Workers with Disabilities Act, into Congress which will get rid of Section 14(c) forever.


B.E.L.L Program 


For the first time, our affiliate sponsored and ran the BELL Program, Braille Enrichment for Literacy and Learning.  BELL is a creation of our Jernigan Institute and not only teaches the value of Braille literacy but also stresses how blind children can become fully independent and realize great hope for their futures.  This year, Diane McGeorge and Michelle Chacon ran the program and they worked with several blind children ranging in age from five to eleven.  Students not only practiced their Braille but also learned other non-visual skills, learned about art in a non-visual manner, and participated in field trips and outdoors play where independent cane travel was stressed.  At the BELL closing ceremony, eleven year old Johnnie Jean told the assembled group that she now understood how Braille literacy is directly linked with freedom and that she was so thankful to have a bunch of new friends and positive blind role models. The BELL Program was in session on the day we protested in front of Senator Bennet's office. Each student wrote a Braille letter to the Senator telling him that  he better not ruin their futures by supporting subminimum wages for workers with disabilities.  These children are so young, but it is clear that our future is in good hands with this bunch.


Legislative efforts and Commission for the Blind


We again conducted our State Day at the Capitol.  The Day at the Capitol is our opportunity to visit our state representatives and senators and educate them about the issues facing us.  This year we held it on January 25, 2011 and we centered on two main issues, NFB Newsline for the Blind and the Colorado Commission for Individuals Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired.  For the last several years, we have received a grant from the State of Colorado to operate Newsline which allows us to access daily newspapers from all over the nation with the same ease and convenience as the sighted.  Funding for Newsline comes from the Disabled Telephone Users Fund (DTUF) which is supported by a monthly tax on every landline, phone line in Colorado.  Despite the bad economy and severe budget cuts, we successfully maintained NFB Newsline funding for another year.

The DTUF also funds the Colorado Commission for Individuals Who Are Blind and Visually Impaired (CCIBVI).  As you know, our advocacy led to the creation of this Commission and Governor Ritter signed it into law in May of 2007.  The Commission's charge is to evaluate and make recommendations concerning programs affecting the blind including vocational rehabilitation, the Randolph-Sheppard Program, independent living programs, prevocational programs, and anything else of importance to the blind of Colorado.  The authorizing legislation mandates that the Commission sunset next year, 2012, unless the General Assembly specifically reauthorizes it.


We advised the General Assembly that even though we were the ones to create the Commission, we had great reservations about allowing it to continue.  The fact is that the Commission has made no significant progress in achieving any of its legislative mandates over the last four years.  There are many reasons why this is so, including a lack of staff, lack of appointments from the Governor's office to fill positions on the Commission, a lack of priority placed on the Commission's programs, and political squabbles on the Commission.  These reasons are more fully set-forth in the resolution we are considering this weekend and are being discussed thoroughly elsewhere in this convention.  If we adopt the proposed resolution which passed out of the Resolutions Committee last night, we will work actively to see that the Commission is sunset.  If that is not ultimately our organizational objective, we will make certain that the Commission is accountable to the blind of Colorado.


Local Chapters 


A key way to secure a better future for us is to build our Federation and that we have been doing.  In the last year and a half, we have established two new chapters and it will be my honor and privilege to present the NFB North Metro Chapter and the Mile High Chapter with charters of affiliation at this evening's banquet.  Michelle Chacon serves as our President in the North Metro and she has done an excellent job of forming and sustaining this new chapter.  In particular, she has recruited several new parents of blind children to our ranks and because of those parents we were able to run our first BELL Program.  Gary Van Dorn is our Mile High President and his chapter meets downtown Denver each month and has attracted over twenty new members to our cause.  In its first ever fundraiser, the Mile High Chapter raised over $800.00 in a chocolate tasting.  These two new chapters will help us secure the future and bring our message to more people.


Our existing chapters continue to thrive and also help to build our Federation.  Now in its second decade, our Greeley Chapter, under the leadership of Melissa Green, continues to grow.  Greeley has continued its tradition of conducting a vision fair which reaches the blind of northern Colorado of all ages.  That Fair has led to partnerships with local independent living centers, which in turn has opened up new avenues of communication where we can spread our message.

Our Pueblo Chapter continues to work with the Pueblo Public Library at various information fairs where our literature and message is distributed to the public on a large scale.  Our Pueblo Chapter stresses the importance of Braille literacy by brailing out the names of individuals who stop by their booth.  Our President in Pueblo is Rick Holcomb and he is not with us this weekend because he has been battling a whole host of health complications including a recent bout with pneumonia.  He has been in the hospital something like three times, just in the last month.  Let's keep Rick in our thoughts and prayers for a speedy recovery because we need his leadership to help us carry out our mission in the southern part of the state.


Under the presidency of Maryanne Migliorelli, our Boulder Chapter continues to grow and has done so to such an extent that it has had to pick a new, larger place to meet.  In October, our chapter there conducted a haunted tour of Boulder conducted by a blind, professional tour guide.


Even though the Denver Metro area now has three chapters, our Denver Chapter continues to grow and thrive under the capable leadership of Brent Batron.  Its activities are too numerous to list.  However, its most significant work this year surrounds our efforts with RTD, the Regional Transportation District.  We have worked hard to restore some of the bus service that RTD plans to cut and we have we have convinced RTD to at least delay service cuts in the Access-a-Ride program.  We continue to lead the way in convincing RTD to implement automatic bus stop announcements on all of its buses.  We have a firm commitment that will occur over the next few years and we have more members than any other organization on the advisory committee formed to implement the plan.


Under the energetic leadership of Jeanette Fortin, our Colorado Springs Chapter also continues to prosper.  Our chapter there has been busy raising funds and expanding our relationship with the Colorado School for the Deaf and Blind.  Like our Denver Chapter, the C. Springs Chapter has also been integral in protecting public transportation in that area.


The Colorado Association of Blind Students, led by Melissa Green, has established mentoring programs with the Colorado School for the Deaf and Blind and has sponsored seminars for blind students all over the state.  Additionally, CABS conducts regular teleconferences where blind students can share information and resources.  


Our Parents chapter, led now by Andrew Trujillo and Julie Hunter, continues to grow and expand.  This year it has sponsored all manner of activities for parents such as a family picnic in July conducted with our Denver Chapter.  In this last month, the Parents put on a fun walk around Stearns Park in Littleton emphasizing the importance of independent travel.  Here at this Convention, the Parents are by far the most active chapter sponsoring several seminars and breakout sessions.  

I apologize now if I left out the good work of any of our chapters and divisions.  The fact is that there is way too much to mention for such a short report as this.  Regardless, without every activity, large or small, that we facilitate, our Federation would not grow and consequently the age old stereotypes and beliefs about blindness would remain.  I salute and congratulate our chapters for their great work and urge them to keep growing our Federation!


By the end of this year, we plan to hire a chapter and community development staff person.  This will allow us to provide even more support for our existing chapters and to build new chapters.  One of the first tasks of this staffer will be to develop an at large chapter, where individuals in parts of the state that we have not been able to reach will be able to join meetings through teleconferences and web events.  We expect to find many new people through these tools. 


NFBCO Website 


I am pleased to announce that we successfully launched our new website in June of this year.  We believe it to be much easier to use and full of useful information.  Julie Hunter headed up our Website Committee and she and her committee have done a great job of keeping everything up to date and getting our presence felt on the Web.  I also thank our First Vice President, Kevan Worley, for putting us in touch with Infront, the company who developed and helps to maintain the site.  In the future, we will continue expanding the site and using it for interactive web events.


The Blind Coloradan 


We have started the Blind Coloradan, edited by Kevan Worley.  We will be publishing it quarterly and we need everyone to send material to Kevan for possible publication.  If you want us to know what you are doing in your part of the state, we need your input.  The Blind Coloradan also features the Blind Buzz.  Buzz reports all the juicy rumors within the blindness community.


NFBCO Scholarship Program


In my opinion, this year we have conducted the best ever NFBCO Scholarship Program.  These five young men and women confirm the fact that our future is bright.  I congratulate Samantha Barrasso, Amelia Dickerson, Marcus Hernandez, Cody Bair, and Antonio Rosier.  Winners, we have given you our money, trips to state and national convention, and our invitation for you to be part of our family.  We hope you will accept and help us build this Federation to create a better future for us all.  We have enjoyed hearing from you this weekend and look forward to our continued relationship.  Based on the success we have had with this program, we will undoubtedly conduct another Scholarship Program next year.    

Just Do One Thing


At the public NFBCO Board Meeting on Thursday evening of this Convention, I urged everyone present to commit to "just one thing."  Often we find ourselves pledging to conduct so many different activities that it becomes impossible to get them all done.  By committing to just one project, whether large or small, we can bring the focus and energy necessary to that individual goal.  If we all join together and make such a commitment, the overall net effect will be tremendous.  As our great leader Dr. Jernigan said, we change what it means to be blind through individual actions collectively focused.  I, for example, told the Board that my "one thing" is to visit as many chapters as I could outside of the metro area to help our affiliate grow.  I encourage all of you to identify the "one thing" and make that your mission in the coming year.  If we all do so, our growth in the coming year will be of legendary portions.    




As I conclude this report, I must say thank you.  First, if it weren't for the support and love of my family, Anahit, Alexander and Emily, there is no way I could serve as President of this wonderful affiliate.  Thank you LaBarres!  Second, I thank all of our officers and board members.  You are an awesome team with whom I have the pleasure and honor to serve.  Last, and most definitely not least, I thank all of you for your support and loyalty.  It is only through all of our work together that we can truly change what it means to be blind.  Finally, I want to thank our staff, Lisa Bonderson and Lorinda Riddle for helping us manage this terrific organization.


With respect to our blindness, the writing isn't on the wall.  We are not destined to live lives of tragedy and despair.  This is so because the power is in our hands.  With our hands, we shall write our own script.  Our script is one of hope and high expectations.  We work for a day when blindness is not considered a debilitating tragedy or great disadvantage.  Because of our work and commitment to one another, I am confident that one day, blindness will be viewed as simply a different way of encountering the human experience, not inferior or superior, just different.  Let us join our hearts, minds, and collective action together and march the rest of the way to true freedom and first class citizenship.  This is our mission and this is my report to you!






NFB of Colorado Scholarship Program

By: Buna Dahal


>From the Editor: Buna is an entrepreneur. She is the Secretary of the NFB of Colorado and chairs our Scholarship Program. Under Buna's leadership, the program continues to grow.


Congratulations to our 2011 NFB Scholarship Recipients:  Amelia Dickerson from Boulder, Marcus Hernandez from Pueblo, Antonio Rozier from Littleton, Cody Bair from Greeley, and Samantha Barrasso from Aurora. 


These students were honored at the banquet of our State Convention in November. In addition to achieving scholarly distinction, these winners are performing leadership roles in the Colorado Association of Blind Students (CABS). Antonio has been elected President; Cody will serve as Treasurer; Amelia, Samantha and Marcus will serve as contributing Board Members. We are proud of our students!


The 2012 NFB of Colorado Scholarship Program is in full swing. This program is one of our priorities that enriches the lives of blind students in Colorado. The application deadline is April 15, 2012. Scholarship information can be found on this site: http://www.nfbco.org 


Previous winners are encouraged to apply. Let's spread the news throughout Colorado so new blind scholars can benefit from our excellent program!















Washington Seminar is Coming! Are you going?

By: Kevan Worley, Scott LaBarre and Diane McGeorge


>From the Editor: Below find all you need to know about Washington Seminar:


For many years we called it the 'March on Washington'. Then the name was changed to the 'Washington Seminar'. The name may have changed, but the mission has remained the same. Each year in early February, Federationist's from throughout the nation go to our nation's capital to bring the good news of the Federation philosophy to members of Congress and other government officials. Typically we ask Congress to consider three or four initiatives which are important to improve the lives of blind people and their families. How do we strengthen Social Security? How can we create opportunities for blind people to fully develop small businesses? How do we ensure that blind students have equal access to education? How do we ensure that library services, job training and senior support services are provided? We consider these questions and offer our solutions in Washington D.C. 


Colorado always brings one of the largest delegations. Each year the Federation works very hard to negotiate the very best hotel rate. As you might imagine, hotel rates are very high in D.C. No organization gets the kind of hotel rates that we do. Nevertheless, we know that transportation, meals and lodging are expensive. Therefore, our affiliate is often able to provide some financial assistance to members who would like to join us. If you have never gone, you owe it to yourself to enjoy the camaraderie, and help create the change. For information about financial assistance, contact Scott LaBarre 303-504-5979 or email him at slabarre at labarrelaw.com


We will work hard, wear out our shoe leather, meet dignitaries, negotiate the metro transit system, watch the Super Bowl, hail cabs, attend student seminars, hear from NFB national leaders, enjoy some excellent D.C. restaurants, work to influence members of Congress, and volunteer to work Mercury. What is Mercury? Come and find out.


So, you want to come to D.C.? Here are more details from Diane McGeorge, our national Washington Seminar Coordinator:


This year's Washington Seminar begins Monday, February 6, 2012 and ends Thursday, February 9th. Please make your hotel reservations as soon as possible. We must have all reservations no later than January 2, 2012. 






Here is the information you must include when making your hotel reservation: 


1. Your date of arrival, as well as your date of departure. 

2. The first and last names of roommates sharing the room with you. (Please correctly spell first and last names of each person in the room, and please include arrival and departure dates for each person).

3. Specify your preference: Smoking or non-smoking room and the number of beds you want---two double beds or one king bed?

4. Indicate any special accommodations needed (such as an accessible room).

5. If you request a rollaway bed, expect an additional $15 charge per night. 

(You need not request refrigerators since they are now standard in each guest room). 

6. According to the hotel contract, individual cancellations must be made seventy-two hours before the date of arrival to avoid a one night's room plus tax cancellation fee. You must get in touch with Lisa Bonderson or me (Diane McGeorge) to make changes to your reservation as soon as possible to avoid such a fee. 

7. The room rates are $174 for single, double, triple, or quad rooms. Tax is 14.5% a night. 

8. The address of the Holiday Inn Capitol is 550 C Street, SW. 

9. Please do not contact the hotel to make your reservations. I will submit all reservations for the Washington Seminar. Call (303) 778-1130, ext. 219, to make your reservation, or email reservations to Lisa Bonderson at lbonderson at cocenter.org.  

10. We will confirm receipt of your reservation either by return email or by telephone, so be sure to give us your telephone number and your email address.


This Just In.

>From the Editor: Just before we went to press we learned that NFBCO Day at the Capitol will be Tuesday, January 17th. 

Each year members of the National Federation of Blind of Colorado gather under the golden dome to brief our Legislators and government officials about public policy important to the blind and their families.  In 2012 our Day at the Capitol will begin at 8:00 a.m. on Thursday, January 17th. We meet at the old Supreme Court chamber to discuss out Legislative agenda. We will plan our work, and work our plan walking the halls of power.  We always have much to learn about the process and much to teach elected leaders and their staff about the National Federation of the Blind. Every year it is fun and productive. So, mark your calendars and join us for all of the action.


What's going on At the Colorado School for the Deaf and Blind?

By: Diane Covington


>From the Editor: Diane Covington serves as the Community Liaison for the Colorado School for the Deaf and Blind. You will enjoy reading about all of the happenings as CSDB. Here is what she says:


The Colorado School for the Deaf and the Blind's Bad News Bulldog Band, under the direction of Julie Novak, Music Therapist, recently performed at the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center. The band delivered an exciting concert as the Fine Arts Center celebrated exhibits within the Tactile Gallery. The Bad News Bulldog Band is made up of students and staff members from the School for the Blind.


On October 15th (White Cane Day), CSDB celebrated the white cane as a symbol of blindness and a tool for independence and we celebrated the achievements of people in our society who are blind and visually impaired.  This year, students from CSDB hosted firefighters from Colorado Springs Fire Station #1, training them about visual impairments, functional implications, and sighted-guide techniques.  The firefighters put on goggles as well as night shades, simulating a variety of vision impairments as they maneuvered through rooms and hallways.

The School for the Blind hosted their Annual Science Fair on November 30, 2011. Participants included elementary, middle school and high school students. 

Teachers are registering their students for the Colorado Braille Challenge, to be held on February 3, 2012. Students will compete in three or four activities, depending on their age group, and will be ranked against other regional competitors across the country. The top twelve students nationally in each age group are invited to a national competition at the Braille Institute in California.









Profile of a Legislator: A Conversation with State Representative Pete Lee

By: Kevan Worley


>From the Editor: On a Wednesday afternoon in mid-July, 2011, I phoned State Representative Pete Lee. I told him I would like to interview him for a Blind Coloradan article to be published prior to the 2012 Legislative Session. His response was, "Why not this week?" That is Pete, pretty no-nonsense, get-down-to-business. He showed up at my office the following morning. What follows is my profile of, and comments from Pete during our conversation:

I first met State Representative Lee before he was a Legislator. He has been a community activist in Colorado Springs for many years. In 2010, Pete campaigned to represent House District 18; the seat being vacated by the legendary four-term, term-limited Michael Merrifield. District 18 is the most competitive in El Paso County. Both parties spend time and money targeting the position. It is comprised of voters in the southwest portion of Colorado Springs and the city of Manitou Springs. The district is approximately one-third Republican, one-third Democrat and one-third Unaffiliated. Pete said, "I did not want to pander. I have never held political office. I still don't think of myself as a politician. But, I guess they all, ummm. say that, right?" he chuckled. "Seriously, I ran in a bi-partisan way. I really believe we can reach compromise. For the most part, even after being up there at the Capitol in 2011 I still do. I am realistic. I also think the government can help. I am not going to apologize for that. But, it is also true that 'best intentions' means that the government, you know - lawmakers -overreach."

Pete's passion comes through loud and clear. Despite the short notice, he has prepared well for our interview. He comes off as a serious person who does not take himself too seriously. He is also very inquisitive. He immediately began to talk about our NFB Newsline Program and the Commission for the Blind, as well as funding for the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation at a level which would ensure federal matching dollars.

Pete said, "The first time I really noticed the NFB was when a small group of your folks were at the Capitol during my first session. Then, this spring during the discussion of information access services for the deaf and blind, funded through the Telephone Users Fee, I saw a fact sheet about this from you guys, which was very helpful." I then took the opportunity to demonstrate NFB Newsline for him from the phone on my desk. 

Pete Lee grew up in Westchester County, New York. He received his Undergraduate Degree from Ohio Wesleyan University.  Pete explains, "It was my sophomore year in college. I worked as a summer camp counselor for the Connecticut Institute for the Blind. I don't know what it is called now. It was a transformative experience.  I am not just saying that," he said, "I learned very quickly that blind kids were just kids who could not see. I mean, that should be understood - but I guess that it isn't." 

For many years Pete maintained friendships with some of his blind students and fellow counselors.  He explained that he worked with kids and adults, "They were not otherwise disabled. They were, you know, merely blind. They were bright, talented, active young people. One of my campers had two prosthetic eyes. He would walk around the camp on stilts. I still don't know how he navigated curves. But, he used that echolocation, you know, sounds bouncing off of objects. He showed me how to do it. I would test him. I would give him directions to try to get him to run into a tree or a wall. He would just walk around the object. I think that it is not his hearing was automatically better; it is just that some blind people are able to develop those travel techniques. It is like they listen harder for changes in space, wind, or echoes. This kid might smash his shins into a picnic bench or something low to the ground that is not dense; this is not while walking on stilts. When using his cane, he would venture forth and figure it out." I interrupted Pete here to say, "Sounds like our structured discovery to me. But, I am not sure that we have offered 'stilt walking' as a part of our Colorado Center for the Blind challenge recreation activities." 

Pete said, "Some of the kids used canes, but many did not. The most effective, well-rounded, outgoing kids did. I don't think that they pushed it as much in the schools back then, did they? They talked about Peripatology- Sounds like jargon- I would call it, 'effective travel'. I mean, that should be the yardstick," Pete said, "I taught boating, canoeing, swimming, fire building, and how to keep the cabins up to snuff. I did not have any training. I was a counselor. It was the human connection, problem solving -'Where is the sun?' I would say, 'If you lose a sock, get down and cover the area and find the sock.' Blindness is not that complicated, right?...Unless you have significant additional disabilities of some kind," he continued, "well, there is a bureaucracy, and sometimes the lack of funding necessary to secure some services I think might be essential for initial training and education. But, mostly it must be the attitude of others that is the biggest barrier, I would think," he said, "the ideas or pre-judgments that people have about any group, any minority.blind people, that is the biggest obstacle, right?" 

Pete reminisced, "I remember a fella by the name of Frank Weir. He worked as a counselor in the adult program that summer. He was earning his Master's Degree at Ohio State. He would keep all of these Braille volumes stacked under his bunk. I asked him 'What are you going to do with the degree?'  Frank said that he was going to teach. I said, 'How?' Frank said that he could do anything that anyone else could do. I mean this guy would be reading all night in the dark. He just had an attitude that let you know he could work well with people. He got straight A's. It was clear that for him it was Braille and attitude." 

I then asked Pete about the Colorado School for the Deaf and Blind. Pete commented, "CSDB is an important institution. It has been important to this community and to the children it serves for generations. They have a different population over there now. But, expectations must be high. However we can improve people's lives, I am game to take a look at it. We have an institution over there that is dedicated to a mission of helping kids. And gosh, if there are ways that we can help them better what they are doing, why wouldn't we? I would not put myself up as an expert on blind education," he said, "I sure would not do that. We need to help the school. Like any public institution, we need to hold it accountable. I am sure that they are facing big funding shortfalls. So, we need to partner with them to support, you know, find work around's and collaborations with parents, universities, and organizations like the NFB that can go a long way to bringing education and the right kind of experiences and integration for these kids. Kids need to be kids so they can grow up to be healthy, contributing adults." Pete continued, "I had one experience forty years ago; it was a defining experience for me. I mean, I know talking to a blind person from a leading association of blind people it would be easy for me to say that. But, it is the truth! I was a young man and that summer was a great time to be a young counselor and to learn how others feel and, you know, confront challenge. I don't mean this in any condescending way. It is what it is. I think I gained some idea, some perspective about how blind people can get along in the world if they choose." Pete then launched into a list of legislators from the House and the Senate Education Committee's without looking. He indicated that he does not sit on those Committee's but he would be happy to help the Federation and the school. 

Pete said, "You guys must educate the Legislative people. The NFB must educate us so we can support the educators as best we can. Look, we are in a funding crisis. It is truly a crisis. We have to get out of thinking in a business-as- usual way," Pete said, "it can feel that many institutions we have counted on over the years may seem a bit run down, or ragged. We should probably do away with some or consolidate, or re-orient. But, our first thought should not be to tear down. It should be to build and improve on what has worked. It is not all about laws.  Organizations like the NFB can help CSDB, and other public and private schools find the experts, the money, and teachers with skills and the experience the blind need."

"My wife, Lynn, and I have lived in Colorado Springs for over 34 years. This is where we raised our three children, Amanda, Rob and Brian." Pete stated. Lynn has taught special education for thirteen years. She worked principally with children with Down-syndrome. She now works in the area of restorative justice. That is a passion for both of the Lee's. She brings victims and offenders together facilitating conferences with community members. Pete said, "The goal is to work out agreements for restoration and repair of harm." She chairs the Pikes Peak Restorative Justice Council. Representative Lee introduced House Bill 1032 in the 2011 Legislative Session. The law passed with bi-partisan support. The Bill provides for restorative justice and victim offender conferences in both adult and juvenile correction systems. It ensures that victims are made aware of these services.

Representative Lee has had an illustrious career as a defense lawyer as well as working in business law. He is now retired. As he puts it, "I am a full-time citizen legislator.  Sitting on the beach is not for me. There is too much to be done for people, the community and our state." Listening to him, you can tell he means it. Throughout our time together he spoke with real conviction against any kind of discrimination. Colorado Springs had just seen some attacks on two gay soldiers. City government was deciding whether or not to pass a strong resolution decrying hate crimes. Pete said, "Look, there is no place for discrimination in this modern society, blatant or otherwise. No place for hate crimes against anyone! Bias motivated crimes are just wrong, and we don't want that reputation. I mean, it is repellant; it is also about economic development and civic development. It seems to me that taking a stand is a moral imperative as well as a watershed moment for the community."

After earning his Undergraduate Degree at Ohio Wesleyan University, Pete attended the Wharton School of Business. At the same time, he worked in the Personnel Department at Superior Brand Meat Company. At age twenty four, he had been promoted to Head of Personnel for that $100,000,000.00 company. Pete observed, "As a young man, negotiating with the amalgamated Butcher's Union and the Teamsters kind of toughened this future defense lawyer and legislator. The art of compromise should be the way laws are passed. As the old saying goes, 'You really don't want to know how the sausage is made.' This is true in meat packing and law making. I have experience with both."

Always an innovator, Pete went to his employer and asked for tuition assistance so that he could attend night school. They told him that they did not have such a program. So, he created it. Other employees were able to receive training through the company's college tuition program.

Pete admits that he did not test well. Standardized tests were not his strong suit. In fact, he admits that he blew his Law School admission test which is why he could not attend the law school of his choice. He went to Law School at the University of Akron, an open enrollment school. Pete says, "It was not Yale or the University of Chicago or Minnesota, but, I was ambitious and frankly, no one has really asked me lately where I got my law degree. Still, standardized tests are important. We may not like them much. But, judgments are made about candidates for education and employment. Conditions must be optimal and fair. The notion that blind students may not be allowed to use their technologies is unacceptable. Blind students should be allowed to take tests under the same conditions that they have become accustomed, whether that is screen reader, live reader with proctor, enlargement technology- Whatever! I mean, I don't know all of the possibilities, but, there has to be a way to be inclusive and create success outcomes."

Pete concluded our time together by talking about the Colorado Commission for Individuals who are Blind or Visually Impaired. I asked if he had heard of the Colorado Commission for the Blind. He said, "Yes, I did a little look-see before coming here. The Commission should study and actually recommend. It looks to me like the reports submitted have been very similar since its inception. I learned from talking to you and some of your colleagues that the Commission has been fractious. It has been around long enough to have some legs. It should not be for politics or squabble. If it does not work after four years, it should be apparent that something should change. Perhaps it should sunset. There are times when you need to get rid of the old and build something new in its place. This might be one of those cases. We may very well need to pass legislation to build something more effective. I mean, if there is clear evidence that this Commission is not solving problems or providing the kind of service that the Legislature and the blind of the state established it to do, it should sunset. That is certainly something that I will take a look at. I will consider all of the evidence. I do know there is some disagreement here. But, I also know that the NFB is a powerful force so we in the Legislature will no doubt know what you think on this matter. Heck, I am sure that we will know what you think on a number of matters. And, I am serious, I will seek, and I will need your counsel."

I found Pete to be a man of humor and depth. On issues important to the blind, he was thoughtful and showed some objectivity. I also found him to be a friend. As the 2012 Legislative Session begins in early January, we can look forward to working with a friend who has an open mind and understands us. We could not ask for any more than that.


Press Release: Metro State teams with CCB for Advocacy Campaign


>From the Editor: We have recently received the following Press Release:


Metropolitan State College of Denver Communication Design Program Teams Up with Colorado Center for the Blind Participants in Advocacy Campaign


Littleton, CO (November 28, 2011): Communication Design students from Metropolitan State College of Denver have partnered with Colorado Center for the Blind participants to create an advocacy and awareness campaign addressing issues of accessibility on behalf of people who are blind.  


The multimodal campaign titled Blind Spot: Advocate for Access, uses tactile mediums such as low tack adhesive markers called "spots" to point out areas in Littleton and beyond that are not universally accessible. Championed by people who are blind, the spots direct attention to environmental, communication and technology obstacles that are not fully accessible and serve as a call to action to visit an integrated website-a source of education, communication, advocacy and empowerment. In combination the campaign pieces are designed to empower the blind community to vocalize needed change. The project goal brings forth interaction between blind and sighted communities for the purpose of advocating equal rights within shared designed environments. Project participants want the rights of all people to be understood as equal: Accessibility is a human right with global implications.


The Communication Design team from Metro State and participants from Colorado Center for the Blind, hope to create a dialogue around accessibility and universal design by initiating the Blind Spot campaign. Metro State students are applying for an Implementation Award through the organization Design Ignites Change, which supports designers and architects who are making a difference.










Raising Money Can Be Sweet

By: Gary Van Dorn


>From the Editor: Gary Van Dorn is the President of our Mile High Chapter. Gary is energetic, thoughtful and creative. This is what he has to say:


The Mile High Chapter held a 'Chocolate Tasting Party' on the 16th of October 2011.  The event was held in the party room at Brook's Towers in downtown Denver.  Thirty-five individuals attended to sample delicious Dove Chocolates.  Guests enjoyed chocolate chili, chocolate martinis and oh, so much more! This fundraising event raised more money for the Mile High Chapter than we anticipated.  I encourage other Colorado NFB Chapters to organize their own chocolate tasting parties.  Contact bmosby at cocenter.orgfor more information and to get started.  Brenda is delighted to help plan a menu suitable to your needs and circumstances.  



Colorado Association of Blind Students Report

By: Maryann Migliorelli


>From the Editor: Maryann Migliorelli is a longtime leader in both the New York and Colorado affiliates. After a successful career in business, she decided to return to school. She is a leader in our Boulder Chapter and First Vice President of the Colorado Association of Blind Students. 


Colorado Association of Blind Students is planning a Leadership Growth Experience on January 14, 2012 at the Colorado Center for the Blind.  Participants will learn about the history of the National Federation of the Blind of Colorado and how the Student Division's fits into that history.  We will also be developing plans and goals for the years to come with an emphasis on student recruitment, education and effective collaboration with other divisions in the state of Colorado. This will be an exciting opportunity to grow our student leaders. Contact Maryann Migliorelli at maryannmigs at gmail.com for more information.










Announced Retirement: A loss for the Blind of Colorado

By: Sue Schierkolk MS, CRC


>From the Editor: We were surprised and saddened to receive the announcement below. On the other hand, we also are happy for our longtime partner as she begins the next phase of her life's journey. Sue Schierkolk is the Manager of Programs and Program Development for the Colorado Division of Vocational Rehabilitation. She has been instrumental in developing innovative programs which serve clients of the Colorado DVR. She has always valued consumer collaboration to foster best outcomes. Here is her announcement: 


Dear Friends,

After 28 years as a DVR employee, I will be retiring at the end of November. I couldn't exit without telling all of you good bye and thank-you. Over the years, I have experienced four directors, five mission statements, three policy manuals, five forms revisions, one effort to eliminate ALL forms, six or seven CDHS reorganizations and nine different DVR offices. 

I've had the good fortune to participate with many of you in a myriad of exciting endeavors: Transition grants; the startup of our BOS initiative; SWAP; BEP; multi-agency projects with federal, local and state partners; RSA studies and visits; and even a project/caseload at Rocky Flats. I recall our entrance into the information age: first fax machines, then computers. Back then, we didn't know what to do with computers, and now we wouldn't know what to do without them. Change is good! 

What I will look back upon and remember the most are all of you. I have been blessed with great coworkers, partners, peers, supervisors and mentors. I have learned so much from each and every one of you, and you will forever remain a part of me. I thank you for your passion as we've worked together to make employment happen for people with disabilities; for your willingness as we've tried new things, for your support during the difficult times, and for your friendship through it all. 

As I continue into this next phase of my life, I will look back fondly and with much appreciation for all of you. I will also look forward to hearing from you once in a while about how you are, and about the exciting future that DVR is moving toward! I wish each and every one of you much success, health and happiness in your lives!






Traveling With Road Scholars

By: Alice George


>From The Editor: Almost all of us know Alice George. She has served in many capacities and held many positions for many years in our organization. She is always providing food for thought and doing new and interesting things! We think you will find her latest adventure of interest:


Being a senior means having the opportunity to participate in the Road Scholar Program - formerly known as Elderhostel. Traveling the world with others with similar interests promotes lifelong learning, personal growth, and new friendships. Each year, thousands of seniors stretch their minds and bodies by engaging in stimulating, educational, and sometimes challenging adventures throughout North America, abroad, and afloat. Shouldn't blind seniors do the same? Yes, of course, they should, and I did.


After months of researching travel agencies and programs, I decided to explore Seattle, Washington for a week with Road Scholars Program. Prior to my arriving in Seattle, the tour guide voiced her apprehension about a blind person joining the group. She felt as though she would have to 'hand-hold' me around the city. I learned that the Road Scholar Program had never knowingly had a blind or low vision participant, nor had they ever considered offering accessible programs for blind seniors. It was obvious I had to educate the tour guide about the abilities of blind people.


Each morning of the trip began with an early buffet breakfast in our downtown Seattle Red Lion Hotel. Activities from early morning to late evening focused on learning about Seattle's history, heritage, art, and culture. We toured many museums, Pioneer Square, Pike Market, Freemont, West Seattle, the Space Needle, the Boeing Plant, and much more. By week's end, we had fully explored Seattle by foot, bus, rail, and water taxi.  


As the week ended, several participants thanked me for joining the group. It was obvious I had changed some people's view of blindness and had also gained some friendships along the way. The tour guide was now friendly towards me and even treated me like an equal in the group.


The Road Scholar experience was very exciting, stimulating, and enriching. I was totally dependent on my skills of blindness; they were tested throughout the week. As a result, I improved my travel skills, mastered unfamiliar environments, and gained more confidence. 


Despite Road Scholars' reluctance to develop accessible programs for blind seniors, I believe we must insist that they do so. When seniors are the fastest growing population losing their eyesight, there should be worldwide opportunities for blind seniors to participate in accessible travel and learning programs. If you are interested in accessible travel programs for blind seniors, please call Road Scholars at 1-800 454-5768 and request them, especially in the U.S. Current Road Scholar Programs can be found at www.roadscholar.org. Come on . let's travel and have fun, too! 



Blind American Hero Speaks at USASB Hall of Fame Breakfast

By: Linda Navarro 


>From the Editor: Linda Navarro is the Society/Non-Profit/Charity Editor for the Colorado Springs Gazette. On Sunday, December 18th the Colorado Springs Gazette published the story we are carrying below. Many of you may remember meeting Captain Ivan Castro. Captain Castro was at our 2009 NFB Convention in Detroit. He participated in the Convention's opening ceremony honoring all veterans and active duty military. He also marched with us on the Detroit riverfront. Here is the story from the Gazette:


Association of Blind Athletes pity for those who are blind or visually impaired? No way. Those physically fit folks at the US Association of Blind Athletes' sixth annual Common Sight, Common Vision Breakfast on Dec. 2 can run faster and farther than most people. They can wrestle you to the mat before you blink. As Executive Director Mark Lucas says, 'For our athletes, a loss of sight is never a loss of vision. The community got an intro into these amazing athletes as they heard featured speaker Army Capt. Ivan Castro. Zapped by shrapnel from a mortar in Operational Iraqi Freedom, he lost his right eye and had permanent loss of vision in his left as well as other injuries. Instead of stopping life as he knew it, the blind Special Forces officer hit the road, completing 21 marathons and 10 half-marathons. Castro is one of a huge number of Wounded Warriors who are learning to live with disabilities. Are they handicapped? Don't even think the word. Inducted into the USABA Hall of Fame was John Morgan, who holds 14 world records in swimming and is in the USOC Hall of Fame as well. Also inducted was David Beaver, who received the Founders Award. This year USABA reached more than 750 blind or visually impaired teens through a National Fitness Challenge providing tools for a healthier lifestyle. Operation Mission Vision works with veterans and members of the military during rehab and reintegration into their home communities. The annual breakfast was an opportunity to help USABA raise $1 million for its programs and it's just $23,000 away, Lucas said.





NFBCO on the Web
By: Julie Hunter, Lorinda Riddle, Chip Johnson and Nehemiah Hall.

>From the Editor: Julie Hunter, Lorinda Riddle, Chip Johnson and Nehemiah Hall are the Federation leaders we count on to spread our philosophy and post the information using the web. Here is what they have to say:


We hope everyone reading this newsletter is logging in to NFBCO.org!  Do you want to know the schedule for chapter meetings in your area?  When is Washington Seminar?  What's happening at the Colorado Center for the Blind?  Our website is not only an instrument for communication among members, but an opportunity to show the world what we are and what we do.  The Committee does its best to keep current with events and activities, but we need your input as well.  Send notices of meetings and events to jhunter at cocenter.org and we'll get them posted for you.  Together we will let the world know that the NFB of Colorado is dynamic, active and totally awesome!  



Convention Bulletin


>From the Editor: The NFB is very fortunate to have an excellent magazine, The Braille Monitor. I hope you subscribe and read it. I think that you will gain much perspective, be inspired and informed. The Monitor is edited with concision, expertise and class by longtime Federation leader Gary Wunder. The Monitor is now available on NFB Newsline; that is just one more reason to sign up for Newsline!


Typically an NFB state affiliate newsletter does not re-print articles which have run in our national magazine. However, there may be times when your aggregator is struck by the timeliness or insight of an article and decides to call it to your attention. (We know that busy people may occasionally overlook an article.) In this issue, we are carrying information from the Monitor about the 2012 Annual NFB Convention. As we make plans for a happy and productive New Year, it is definitely not too early to mark your calendar and include the convention in your planning. NFB members, families, chapters and divisions should start raising money and reserving rooms for the most exciting week of the year for blind Americans. We want you to be a part of the action. Here is what the Monitor says:


It is time to begin planning for the 2012 convention of the National Federation of the Blind. This year we are returning to Dallas and the beautiful Hilton Anatole Hotel, site of the 2010 convention. Once again our hotel rates are the envy of all. For the 2012 convention they are singles and doubles, $63; for triples and quads, $68. In addition to the room rates there will be a tax, which at present is 15 percent. No charge will be made for children under sixteen in the room with parents as long as no extra bed is requested. Please note that the hotel is a no-smoking facility. For 2012 convention room reservations you should write directly to the Hilton Anatole Hotel, 2201 Stemmons Freeway, Dallas, Texas 75207, or call (214) 761-7500. The hotel will want a deposit of $60 or a credit card number. If you use a credit card, the deposit will be charged against your card immediately, just as would be the case with a $60 check. If a reservation is cancelled before June 1, 2012, $30 of the $60 deposit will be returned. Otherwise refunds will not be made. 


Guest-room amenities include cable television; coffeepot; iron and ironing board; hair dryer; and, for a fee, high-speed Internet access. Guests can also enjoy one outdoor and two indoor pools as well as a fully equipped health club and tennis courts. The Hilton Anatole has several restaurants and bars, and even a disco. See later issues of the Monitor for specific details and information about other attractions in the Greater Dallas/Ft. Worth area.


The 2012 convention of the National Federation of the Blind will be a truly exciting and memorable event, with an unparalleled program and rededication to the goals and work of our movement. Make plans now to be a part of it. Preconvention seminars for parents of blind children and other groups and set-up of the exhibit hall will take place on Saturday, June 30, and adjournment will be Thursday, July 5, following the banquet. Convention registration and registration packet pick-up for those who registered online will begin on Sunday, July 1, and both Sunday and Monday will be filled with meetings of divisions and committees, including the Monday morning annual meeting, open to all, of the board of directors of the National Federation of the Blind. General convention sessions will begin on Tuesday, July 3, and continue through the banquet on Thursday, July 5. Note that Wednesday, July 4, will include both morning and afternoon convention sessions. Friday, July 6, will be available for tours for those who enjoy getting to know something about our convention city. 


To assure yourself a room in the headquarters hotel at convention rates, you must make reservations early. The hotel will be ready to take your call or deal with your written request by January 1. Remember that as usual we need door prizes from state affiliates, local chapters, and individuals. Once again prizes should be small in size but large in value. Cash, of course, is always appropriate and welcome. As a general rule we ask that prizes of all kinds have a value of at least $25 and not include alcohol. Drawings will occur steadily throughout the convention sessions, and you can anticipate a grand prize of truly impressive proportions to be drawn at the banquet. You may bring door prizes with you or send them ahead of time (identifying the item and donor and listing the value in print and Braille) to Deneice Hopper, 3726 Dutton Drive, Dallas, Texas 75211; phone (512) 323-5444. 


The best collection of exhibits featuring new technology; meetings of our special interest groups, committees, and divisions; memorable tours suggested by the Texas affiliate; the most stimulating and provocative program items of any meeting of the blind in the world; the chance to renew friendships in our Federation family; and the unparalleled opportunity to be where the real action is and where decisions are being made--all of these mean you will not want to miss being a part of the 2012 national convention. We'll see you in Dallas in 2012.

Resolutions Passed at the 2011 National Convention of the Blind of Colorado


>From the Editor: Each year at our State Convention the Federation deliberates over and typically passes a number of Resolutions. These Resolutions become the policy statements of our organization.  In effect, these are the official planks of our platform. Below are statements of our resolve to take actions necessary to change what it means to be blind in Colorado and beyond.




Regarding Colorado Commission for Individuals Who Are Blind and Visually Impaired and Sunset Thereof


WHEREAS, the National Federation of the Blind of Colorado worked diligently and vigorously to bring into existence the Colorado Commission for Individuals Who Are Blind and Visually Impaired (CCIBVI); and


WHEREAS, Governor Bill Ritter Jr. signed CCIBVI into law in May of 2007 and the first meeting of the CCIBVI did not occur until May of 2008 even though the authorizing legislation mandated a first meeting by fall of 2007; and


WHEREAS, the CCIBVI has the statutory charge of reviewing all manner of programs affecting the blind of Colorado such as vocational rehabilitation, the Randolph-Sheppard Program, and essentially all other programs affecting the blind and visually impaired; and


WHEREAS, CCIBVI possesses the duty of making recommendations and suggesting legislation to Governor and the Colorado General Assembly; and


WHEREAS, to this date, CCIBVI has not met its statutory charge due to a lack of staff, lack of appointments from the Governor's office to fill positions on the Commission, a lack of priority placed on the Commission's programs, and political squabbles on the Commission; and


WHEREAS, by law, the CCIBVI is scheduled to sunset in 2012 unless the Colorado General Assembly specifically authorizes the Commission to continue; and


WHEREAS, a sunset review process has already occurred and the Federation was not contacted for input; and


WHEREAS, the Members of the National Federation of the Blind of Colorado passed Resolution 2010-02 calling for a critical examination of whether  the CCIBVI should be sunset and urging the Commission to become much more active in meeting its statutory obligations; and


WHEREAS, in the last year, the CCIBVI has done little to justify the nearly half million dollars already spent on it as evidenced by wasting time developing a strategic plan (something already done at least two other times in the Commission's short history), allowing its director to be assigned to other state entities for a long period while ignoring Commission business, and by offering no tangible recommendations or legislation to the Governor or General Assembly; 


WHEREAS, the annual fiscal allocation to CCIBVI of approximately $100,000.00 can be put to much better use such as providing Braille literacy and access to technology for blind youth: Now, therefore,  


BE IT RESOLVED by The National Federation of the Blind of Colorado in convention assembled this Sixth day of November, 2011, in the city of Denver, Colorado that we express our outrage that the National Federation of the Blind of Colorado, the oldest and largest organization of the blind in the state, was not contacted to give its input during the sunset review; and


BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that we urge the Colorado General Assembly to oppose any continuance of the Colorado Commission for Individuals Who Are Blind and Visually Impaired, allow it to sunset, and allocate the fiscal appropriations of the Commission to new programs targeting literacy and access to technology for blind youth.  


Resolution 2011-02


Regarding Access to Taxi Cabs and Related Transportation Services


WHEREAS, Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act and Colorado state law make it very clear that providers of transportation such as taxi cab and shuttle companies and other transportation providers cannot discriminate on the basis of disability which includes an expressed prohibition on denying access to those who use service animals such as guide dogs for the blind; and


WHEREAS, despite this clear legal mandate which has been on the books for decades, there are an increasing number of reported cases where taxi cab and shuttle drivers are refusing to provide service to blind individuals, especially when such individuals are using a guide dog; and


WHEREAS, outreach to taxi cab and shuttle companies and other transportation providers appears not to be remedying these blatant violations of the law: Now, therefore,


BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind of Colorado in Convention assembled this Sixth Day of November, 2011, in the City of Denver, Colorado that we express our outrage that taxi cab and shuttle companies and other transportation providers still refuse service to blind individuals, especially those using guide dogs, despite the fact that such conduct has been illegal for decades; and


BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that we  call upon all taxi cab and shuttle companies and other transportation providers to take immediate action to ensure that their drivers fully comply with the letter and spirit of the law  and provide service to blind and visually impaired customers whether or not such customers use a guide dog; and 


BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that we urge any taxi cab and shuttle company or other provider of transportation to terminate the employment of any driver who refuses transportation on the basis of blindness, disability, or use of a service animal; and


BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization increase efforts to educate taxi cab and shuttle companies and other transportation providers of their legal obligations to provide access to blind and visually impaired individuals regardless of disability or use of a service animal; and


BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that if we discover that increased educational efforts are not fruitful and the discrimination does not end, we take all necessary and appropriate action including legislative advocacy and potential class action litigation to eradicate this blatant form of discrimination against the blind.   


Resolution 2011-03


Regarding Urging the Colorado Congressional Delegation to Support The Fair Wages for Workers with Disabilities Act


WHEREAS, in a bygone era, Congress adopted Section 14(c) of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) which permits employers to hold certificates allowing payment of subminimum wages to workers with disabilities; and


WHEREAS, it is estimated that over 300,000 people with disabilities toil at below the minimum wage in our nation; and


WHEREAS, the minimum wage itself is not a livable wage; and


WHEREAS, it shocks the conscience that society tolerates the payment of subminimum wages solely on the basis of one's disability, a concept and practice assaulting basic human rights; and


WHEREAS the National Federation of the Blind has a long history of opposing this abuse of human rights and has advocated for removal of Section 14(c) of the Fair Labor Standards Act; and


WHEREAS, our most recent advocacy effort in this arena culminated in the introduction of H.R. 3086, the Fair Wages for Workers with Disabilities Act, introduced on October 4, 2011, by Congressman Cliff Stearns of Florida and Congressman Tim Bishop of Rhode Island, which will  eliminate  Section 14(c) of the FLSA: Now, therefore,


BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind of Colorado in Convention assembled this Sixth Day of November, 2011, in the City of Denver, Colorado that we salute Congressmen Stearns and Bishop for introducing H.R. 3086 to eliminate a hideous form of discrimination against workers with disabilities being perpetuated by the payment of subminimum wages; and


BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that we urge Colorado's members of the United States House of Representatives to cosponsor H.R. 3086 immediately and work actively to secure its passage; and 


BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that we call upon Senators Udall and Bennett of Colorado to support similar legislation in the Senate and to consider being original sponsors and champions of this important legislation protecting the human rights of workers with disabilities.    


Resolution 2011-04


Regarding the Regional Transportation District and Drastic Cuts in Service


WHEREAS, good public transportation represents a key component of allowing the blind to exercise meaningful independence, not to mention it is critical for a thriving community in general; and


WHEREAS, the Regional Transportation District (RTD) of Denver has long been recognized as a model provider of public transportation winning several national awards over the years; and


WHEREAS, the blind from all over the world have moved to Denver largely due to the ability to access good, reliable public transportation and the Colorado Center for the Blind has located its training and residential facilities based on RTD service areas; and


WHEREAS, RTD announced cuts totaling twelve million dollars, the single largest service cuts ever in RTD history,  in late September and did so with little publicity and in a manner that it was difficult to access; and


WHEREAS, the Federation expressed its outrage and deep concern over the cuts at several public hearings; and


WHEREAS, RTD faces no dire financial circumstances and has millions of dollars in reserve and therefore cannot demonstrate the need to take such drastic and swift action; and


WHEREAS, on October 25, 2011, the RTD Board of Directors voted to adopt the proposed service cuts despite the fact that scores of organizations and individuals expressed opposition; and


WHEREAS these cuts will dramatically impact thousands of commuters including students of the Colorado Center for the Blind who will now find it very difficult to travel independently from their residential apartments to the Center and anywhere else in the community; and


WHEREAS, these cuts will make the RTD system far less attractive to the commuting public which will lead to a decline in ridership which in turn will only justify additional service cuts in the future: now, therefore


BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind of Colorado in Convention assembled this Sixth Day of November, 2011, in the City of Denver, Colorado that we first express our outrage at RTD's terrible job of publicizing the largest proposed service cuts in its history making it extremely difficult for consumers to express their views effectively; and


BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that we condemn and deplore RTD's decision to authorize the service cuts when financial and other factors did not warrant such drastic and immediate action; and


BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization demand that RTD reconsider its decision and restore the service cuts and commission a fuller and more careful examination of current and projected transit needs of the growing metro area; and 


BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization take all necessary and appropriate means to effect reversal of RTD's unwarranted decision including all legislative and legal action.      





Regarding Increased Public Relations Campaign


WHEREAS, since the beginnings of the Federation, education of the public about the capability and innate normality of blind people has been a high priority of the organization; and 


WHEREAS, the NFB of Colorado has also placed a high priority on educating members of the public about blindness; and 


WHEREAS, blind people looking for jobs continue to endure ignorance and discrimination because the public continues to misunderstand blindness; and 


WHEREAS, blind people  in our communities experience daily misguided attempts to give us assistance that we do not need or want; as well as frustration when we do not accept such assistance; and 


WHEREAS, the public in Boulder, Denver, and elsewhere continue to accept "dinners in the dark" as reasonable and proper: Now, therefore 


BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the blind of Colorado in convention assembled this sixth day of November, 2011, in the city of Denver, Colorado that we intend, in so far as our resources permit, to increase dramatically our efforts to educate the public including adding staff, publishing pamphlets and other literature, producing and distributing radio and television spots, and seeking and carrying out much more publicity and public speaking.    









 A Sad Note from our Federation Family


>From the Editor: Just as we were about to send this letter of news to you, we received the sad news that our great friend and dear colleague Rick Holcomb passed away Tuesday, December 19th at a nursing facility in Pueblo. 


Rick has been serving as our Pueblo Chapter President and a member of our state Board of Directors in recent years. Rick had been battling very serious health problems in recent months. It is always sad to report the loss of a member of our Federation family. This organization and the world was made better because of Rick' humility, good humor, grace and grit. I never heard an unkind, petulant, or critical word from him. He was known as a generous and deeply caring man. Always open to new ideas, and a willingness to work hard to help others. His leadership and kindness will be greatly missed. We will carry a longer tribute to Rick in our spring issue. For his was a life worthy of tribute and celebration. We know that you will keep our Pueblo Chapter and Rick's friends and family in your thoughts and prayers as they face the Holidays without him.



Blind Buzz


Blind Buzz is a column which will have announcements, notes, vignettes, profiles, assertions, snap-shots, rumors, innuendo and observations. 

Blind Buzz is solely responsible for the content. 


What's happening? Blind Buzz wants to know.



The National Federation of the Blind of Colorado held it's elections in November and the new Board is as follows:


President:                        Scott LaBarre

First Vice President:        Julie Deden 

Second Vice President:    Brent Batron    

Secretary:                              Buna Dahal  

Treasurer:                              Michelle Chacon  

Board Members:              Kevan Worley, Gary Van Dorn (for a one year term), Jeanette Fortin, Eric Woods, Diane McGeorge, Jon Deden, Rick Holcomb


Newly Elected CABS (Colorado Association of Blind Students) Officers and Board Members are as follows:


President:                        Antonio Rozier

First Vice President:        Maryann Migliorelli 

Second Vice President:   Esha Mehta

Secretary:                        Arielle Silverman

Treasurer:                        Cody Bair

Board Members:              Amelia Dickerson, Marcus Hernandez, Melissa Green Best 


Additions to our Federation Family: There are not very many good reasons for our Second Vice President to miss a State Convention; certainly the birth of twins qualifies as a wonderful reason! Brent and Ena Batron had twins. Noah Cedric and Roman Caleb were born on October 25, 2011.  Noah was born at 9:32 p.m. and Roman at 9:35 p.m.  Noah was born at 3 pounds 13 ounces and Roman weighed 4 pounds and 3 ounces.  Both were 17 and one half inches long.  The first thing that Roman did was pee on the team that examined him! All of the Batrons are doing very well!  


The Denver Chapter held its elections in November and the new Board is as follows:


President:                       Brent Batron

First Vice President:       Tom Anderson

Second Vice President:  Chris Foster

Secretary:                       Beth Allred

Treasurer :                      Maureen Neitfeld

Board Members:             Jim Pilkington, Joe Triplett, John Batron, Antonio Rozier


On Saturday, November 27, 2011, the Boulder Valley Chapter of the NFB of Colorado elected the following board:


President:                       Maryann Migliorelli

First Vice President:       Jim Wolcott

Treasurer:                      Curtis Willoughby

Secretary:                       Doris Willoughby

Board Member:              Arielle Silverman


Please support the Colorado Association of Blind Students (CABS) by purchasing their high quality t-shirts. The t-shirts are white with "CABS" presented on the left sleeve.  The front features our NFB Whozit logo and National Federation of the Blind of Colorado in color and the slogan "broadening horizons and lighting the fire to the future." The prices are as follows:


$11.00 for small, medium, large, and extra large

$14.00 for 1/xl, 2/xl, and 3/xl  

$16.00 for 4/xl to 8/xl 

$6.00 for children's sizes; available by special order 


CABS will ship for $5.00.  These t-shirts will make the perfect accessory to your jeans or casual slacks at Friday evening's interactive activities. Thank you for supporting the Colorado Association of Blind Students (CABS). If interested please contact Melissa Green at colorado.students at gmail.com

In the email please state your t-shirt size, and quantity of your order.



Here is a note from the Colorado Talking Book Library: Need a suggestion for a good book to read? There is a national online mailing list created for BARD users to share reviews of books they've recently read. The reviews are only for books that are available on the BARD website. Every fall the group agrees on a classic book to read together. If you are interested in participating in this group send an email with the subject or body message 'HELP' to db-review-request at emissives.com 


Carol Elzi married Ron Sprague in September, 2011.  They enjoyed a wonderful honeymoon in California and are very happy. Carol Elzi is the Director of Administrative Services for the Colorado Center for the Blind.


The Buzz thanks CSDB Board of Region member David Dawson for responding to comments in our recent Buzz column concerning the schools approach to sending kids to the NFB State Convention. He arranged a meeting between NFB leadership and CSBD Superintendent, Carol Hilty. They talked about furthering an NFB/CSDB partnership. It was an uplifting meeting. It bodes well for the blind children we are both committed to serve.


Great Scott! Scott Marcotte is a successful blind vendor. The Buzz congratulates him on his new vending and food service operation at the Denver Federal Center. That is a large venture. Long time Federation member Don Hudson managed that business for great profit for many years. Scott will do well!


Is the Colorado Center for the Blind considering expanding through the purchase of their own apartment complex? This would certainly allow CCB to meet the challenge of RTD cutbacks and it would bring greater flexibility to the students and staff. We can think of many benefits. Sounds like a great idea.


We hear that the Bad News Bulldog Band, the house band at CSDB, made up of students and staff has caught Adelle fever. Adelle is the hottest artist of the year. The band closed the Colorado School for the Blind's Winter Extravaganza on Thursday December 8th with two rockin' Adelle songs. They also did credible covers of songs from Lynyrd Skynyrd and Guns n' Roses. Who would have thought? In the Buzz's day, we sang, "Hey, Look me Over" and "Bicycle Built For Two." CSDB rocks! That is just how they roll in Colorado Springs. The local chapter is having their Holiday Party at Maggie Mae's, no word if the Bulldog Band will show up to cover Rod Stewart.


CCB Stars are Star Crossed:  Maureen Hoban and David Nietfeld were married at the end of August, 2011.  They had their wedding at the Center to share their happiness with their CCB family.  


On November 3rd approximately forty NFB members' round-tabled priorities for 2012. There was real sense of optimism and great energy. There was a consensus that education, transportation, jobs, services for blind seniors and fundraising receive the greatest focus in the coming year. It was an important, frank, and wide ranging discussion. It was a great way to start the 2011 State Convention. We thank President LaBarre for facilitating, and the Board for hosting.  2012 - Here we come.


I recently saw a sign which said, "This door must remain closed at all times." It occurred to me, 'That is not a door, that is a wall.'


"We are so often mocked by the failure of our hopes and the upsetting of our calculations. But, however the fates may play; we march always in the ranks of honor when we have done our best." -Winston Churchill 


That's the Buzz this month.



>From the Editor


Errors, assumptions, or omissions should be brought to the attention of the editor who will likely blame Blind Buzz for any mistakes. Thanks for reading The Blind Coloradan, winter, 2011.




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