[Ct-nfb] Tax Deductions for the Blind: Are They Something We Deserve, and Should We Fight for Them?

Jim McCollum j.mccollum64 at comcast.net
Fri Jan 12 18:13:16 UTC 2018


Tax Deductions for the Blind: Are They Something We Deserve, and Should We Fight for Them?
by Mark Riccobono

From the Editor: We live in a time of significant political change, and each issue we examine confronts us with two questions: Does this affect blind people, and will our advocacy to see that the blind do not lose hard-won victories be perceived as a partisan stance by the organization? President Riccobono gets a number of letters asking these questions, and here he shares a recent one regarding legislation to change our nation’s tax system. Here is the letter he received and his response:

Dear President Riccobono:

Over the past few days I've noticed that the National Federation of the Blind has really been pushing for the legislature to keep the tax deduction that is granted to all blind individuals, and I'm curious as to why this is. It seems to me that allowing us to pay fewer taxes just because we cannot see goes against NFB philosophy, just as cutting in line at amusement parks and pre-boarding airplanes goes against our values. Giving blind people a tax deduction seems to imply that we are not as capable of working as our sighted peers and thus require special treatment. We don't want to be seen as entitled just because of our disability, and this tax deduction seems to do just that.

I understand that blind people can incur expenses that our sighted peers do not, such as screen readers and other assistive technology. But I can't help feeling that when blind people purchase these types of items, they should receive a tax credit, just as people do when they buy an extremely expensive vehicle. I feel that if we manage to pass the law granting tax credits for the purchase of assistive technology, this blanket tax deduction would be rendered obsolete.

All that said, I don't know much about how and why this tax deduction for blind people was implemented. There could very well be information I don't currently have that completely justifies  this. I thought it would be prudent to email an expert before deciding whether or not to start lobbying my legislators. Thank you for your time and consideration in reading this message.

Dear ----

Thank you very much for your thoughtful message.

You have made a very reasonable observation: "It seems to me that allowing us to pay fewer taxes just because we cannot see goes against NFB philosophy, just as cutting in line at amusement parks and pre-boarding airplanes goes against our values. Giving blind people a tax deduction seems to imply that we are not as capable of working as our sighted peers and thus require special treatment. We don't want to be seen as entitled just because of our disability, and this tax deduction seems to do just that."

I agree with you completely about our own sense of entitlement and being viewed as less capable especially in the work context. We also have to balance that against whether we have equality of opportunity in society and whether we need certain supports to compete on terms of equality. You compare the increased standard deduction to cutting a line or pre-boarding an airplane, and I think this is not a fair comparison. Blindness does not prevent a blind person from following a crowded line or walking effectively down a jetway and boarding a plane. Yet, when I go to a store to buy products, I do not have equal access to the labels on the food boxes or the tags on the clothing. When I go to inquire about a job, I often do not have equal access to the application, and I rarely have equal access to the job listings themselves. My examples are instances where society is built in a way that it prevents equal access by those who do not use vision as a primary method of gathering information. Weighing whether we need some additional advantage to compensate for those inequalities is a question worth examining regularly. I believe that there are still enough artificial barriers that we need to give blind people methods of overcoming those obstacles in order to compete on terms of equality.

If that argument is not enough, let us examine the current politics. Even if you believe that we have enough advantage, that we have all the equality we need, Congress decided to eliminate the increased standardized deduction, and blind people were not consulted. Since when does Congress get to speak for us without us? As you know we offered the Access Technology Affordability Act earlier this year knowing that Congress would be discussing taxes. The ATAA was built on the idea that the increased standardized deduction was in place. These are different means of providing a basic level of support to overcome the artificial barriers so blind people have a fair shot at competing in the marketplace. The ATAA is a limited measure that will benefit blind people making little or no money when they spend their own dollars to purchase technologies. The increased standard deduction that the U.S. House of Representatives proposes eliminating helps blind tax payers get a little bit of benefit to overcome all of the other inequalities we face. Most importantly, both of these tax provisions, even added together, are a very small slice of the overall tax picture in the United States. We should not support throwing something out until we absolutely need to do so. It is much harder to get something new than it is to keep something we have. Since the ATAA has not yet passed, we also do not know how effective it will be in helping blind people move to a stronger position in society.

We also must think of this not as a specific element in isolation. We should think of the proposal to eliminate this benefit in the context of other proposals being considered in Congress. Most significantly, proposals to water down the Americans with Disabilities Act and weaken the civil rights protections we have gained. Should we accept elimination of a benefit meant to compensate for the lack of equal access in society at the same time that some are saying we have pushed too far with our movement for equality? One proposal feeds into the other. If we make the argument that, in fact, society has advanced enough that we do not require some additional support to overcome those artificial barriers, we may actually find ourselves in a worse place once the entire wave of disability elimination proposals washes away.

My friend, you have raised a very important question and, in principle, I agree with you about the disconnect with our philosophy. We must always keep in mind that our philosophy has to operate in the world where we are today and with a diversity of people. Many blind people do not need the increased standard deduction because they have achieved a level of success that overcomes the benefit that the deduction provides. However, many blind people are not even close. Our challenge is to continue to raise expectations every day but not be so idealistic that we hold ourselves back in the process. That is the challenge that you and I must continue to meet together in the coming decades of the Federation. I appreciate that we have you to ask these thoughtful questions. I hope that my response has provided some better context for the conversation. If not, I anticipate more questions from you.

In closing, let me say that the National Federation of the Blind is always free to make up its mind. If you think our policy is wrong, you can work with your Federation colleagues to get the organization to adopt a different position.

Thank you for all you do.


by Amy Mason

From the Editor: Amy Mason hails from Nebraska and brings her considerable intellect and people skills to the Jernigan Institute International Braille and Technology Center. For a blind person there is a lot to know about the World Wide Web before he or she can use it effectively. Things that are intuitive visually are not obvious when using the web with a screen reader, and what are simple mouse clicks for the sighted person must be done with keystrokes that the blind person must learn so well that they become second nature. The evolution of the web requires screen readers to evolve, and this means ongoing learning for blind people. The task is doable, but it requires more explanation than we can get in one article. Here is the first of several in which we try to take some of the mystery out of surfing the web, make it as fun to use for people who are blind as for people who have sight, and to do it as comfortably and efficiently as our friends and neighbors. Here is Amy's advice:

Back in the dark ages of computing (the 90's) the world was fascinated and confused by Sir Tim Berners-Lee's 1989 invention: the World Wide Web. We didn't really know what to do with it, why or how to use it, or even what to call it. Before settling on the more commonly known terms of "the web" or "the internet," we tried out some very unusual and unique terms. One of my personal favorites has always been "The Information Superhighway." The idea of a road trip, with its breathtaking opportunities for discovery, silly sing-alongs, car games, and yes, real dangers and risks, has always seemed an apt metaphor for what the internet makes possible.

According to Berners-Lee, "The power of the web is in its universality. Access by everyone regardless of disability is an essential aspect." Sadly, on our more frustrating days, a more overused and untrue phrase has seldom been uttered.

When viewing the web and its history with a cynical eye, a blind person may conclude that we have always and will always trail behind in access to technology, and, by extension, the internet. For instance, in 1995 JAWS for Windows 3.1 was released, while at the same time sighted users were humming "Start Me Up," and exploring Windows 95 with all the excitement of a child on Christmas morning or an Apple fan on iPhone launch day. We gained access a year later. We have seen many products fall into this mold. By the time many notetakers make their way through development, they seem comically behind mainstream devices, and somehow, more than twenty-five years on, we still have to educate developers on the importance of labeling graphics, buttons, and form fields.

Even so, the internet has changed the lives of millions of blind people for the better. Tools like Bookshare have unlocked more books than ever before. As we deal with correspondence and other business using print-reading technology and online applications, many of us have cut our time with human readers from an hour or two a day or perhaps two to four hours per week to an inconceivable hour or two each week. Even shopping and transportation have been transformed.

When the web was new, it was like we had set out in a Model-T. We couldn't go far or fast, but everything was new and exciting. Today we are driving on an eight-lane interstate highway. In many ways, using the web, like driving the interstate, has lost some of its thrill of adventure. To others it's still marvelous and exciting in all new ways. The road is flatter, smoother, and generally in better repair. The speeds are faster. The perils have changed. New road side attractions, amenities, and pitfalls exist. On-ramps, off-ramps, seedy motels, gas stations, and restaurants have transformed our expectations while travelling. Even the cars we drive are unrecognizable when we compare them to those we used twenty years ago.

To get the most out of this faster, busier, more complex internet, we need to learn what the signs mean, understand the strengths and weaknesses of our browsers and other tools, and have a proper understanding of what accessibility and access to the web means. Therefore, today, I'm going to start by taking you to school—driving school, to be exact.

Welcome to Driving School

Definitions and Concepts

Greetings, class. In today's lesson we are going to discuss what you need to know before you get behind the wheel of your shiny new car—I mean browser. If you've been using the web for a while, you may be rolling your eyes at the idea of learning anything new in a definitions and concepts course, but I'm going to ask that you play along, just so we have a shared vocabulary going forward.

For the First Timers

If you are very new to the idea of browsing the web, you will probably want to spend some time with a one-on-one coach or, barring that, some very good tutorials on how this whole web browsing thing works. But I want to at least lay out the general terms you will hear throughout the rest of these articles. If you are more experienced, please feel free to skim past this section, but do so at your own risk. Now for the definitions:

The internet: The network made up of all computers and other devices that are connected in order to allow them to communicate. Everything you do that involves your computer talking with another computer outside of your home network involves information traveling across this network in one form or another. This includes email, the bank statement you downloaded yesterday, and videos of kittens purring on YouTube.

The World Wide Web: This is often what people mean when they say they were on the internet. It is made up of many unique locations, known as web pages or websites, that are put up by government entities, companies, organizations, and individuals.

Web pages/websites: These are individual locations on the worldwide web or web for short. Some websites you may know about include www.nfb.org, the National Federation of the Blind's website; www.google.com, the world's most heavily used search engine (a site to search for information from the web); www.facebook.com, a large website where people can communicate; and www.amazon.com, a big online store.

Web browser/browser: The software you use to view and interact with web pages. Common examples include Chrome, Safari, Firefox, and Internet Explorer.

Links: These are the connections from one website to another or from one piece of information to another. When you activate a link, you will be taken to the information it connects to.

Buttons: These perform actions, such as submitting a form or rearranging information when you activate them.

Headings: Information on websites is laid out so that people can skim for the information most relevant to them. In print, headings are bigger, bolder, or otherwise more noticeable than other text on the page. Blind users can use a screen reader to jump among headings in order to find information more quickly as well.

Landmarks: A new way to organize websites, you can think of Landmarks as big buckets that separate large parts of a website from one another, like the links at the top (sometimes called navigation) from the article in the middle.

Text Fields: This is where you can type a piece of information onto the web; some screen readers announce these as "text area" for large ones and "text field" for small ones.

Radio Buttons: Like the buttons on an older car radio, only one of these can be selected from a group at a time.

Checkboxes: Like radio buttons, they allow one to answer a question, but more than one can be chosen for any given question.

So what makes an accessible website anyway? I'm so glad you asked. Accessible is a difficult term to define, so we are going to break it down for this series in a few different ways. In its most basic form, a website, piece of software, book, home appliance, or other device can be called "accessible" for any given user if he or she can gain access to its features and operate or use it without assistance. Unfortunately, everyone has different criteria for determining if something works for them; so this definition, while clear, does not actually help us to define the term in a way that we can all agree on. Therefore, I am going to propose a few definitions we will use in these articles to better describe how blind people interact with lots of everyday objects, including the web.

Inaccessible: The device or product has one or more essential features that someone cannot use independently and are not likely to find a workaround, adaptation, or alternative that will allow them equivalent access.

Usable: A state in which the item or device can be used by someone, but is not as blind friendly—it may not be as efficient or straightforward as it is for others or as a blind user would wish it to be. Many websites fall into this category for a large number of blind users, even though they will present accessibility challenges that would make them inaccessible for others. The usability of a device or website will depend on both the nature of that item and the user's flexibility, knowledge, or resources.

Functional Accessibility: This is the gold standard. If something is functionally accessible, it is easy and straightforward to use. A person can get done what he or she needs to without undue hardship. Once again, this is a subjective measure.

Technical Accessibility: Accessibility based on agreed-upon standards.

Websites that meet these standards will usually be usable and functionally accessible for many more people than those that do not. Technical Accessibility is not a perfect guarantee that something will be usable for everyone, but it is a pretty good indicator that it is more likely to be.

At the end of the day, usability, functional accessibility, and inaccessibility are states that are only partially based on the technical accessibility of a site. Instead, these states are made up of that site's technical accessibility, the browser and screen reader (or other access technology) conveying enough information about the site, and the user's training and experience. So, you see, we actually have quite a bit of control over the experiences we have on the web.

Rules for Road Builders: WCAG and the Technical Standards

The web community has spent a lot of time in the past debating what technical accessibility really looks like. Today, however, they are largely reaching an agreement. The technical standard that is far more popular than any other is the World Wide Web Consortium's Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 at the AA Level (WCAG 2.0 AA, for short). These standards are referenced directly and indirectly by many governments crafting their own accessibility guidelines. This will officially include the United States beginning in the first few months of 2018. The US has had an accessibility standard called Section 508 since 1998, but these rules were difficult to test, and therefore they were difficult to enforce. Consequently the federal government has recently completed a refresh process for Section 508 which directly references the WCAG Guidelines going forward. This is good news for the accessibility of the web since these guidelines are easier to test for, and because it means that government and public websites are going to be held to the same standard.

There are four overarching principles which WCAG calls on websites to meet. Each of them contains a number of guidelines that expand upon that main idea. The four principles are:

Perceivable: a user needs to be able to tell that there is something there and make out what it is. Examples of this include graphics having descriptions that can be read with a screen reader, videos offering captions and audio descriptions, and websites having enough contrast that they can be read.

Operable: An operable site can be navigated and interacted with. Items in this section include ensuring that the site can be navigated using only a keyboard, making sure that there is nothing flashing that might cause a user to have a seizure, and ensuring that the purpose of a link is easy for users to understand.

Understandable: Success criteria and guidelines under this major point include ensuring that the webpage tells the user's computer what language it is written in (so that screen readers can use an appropriate voice or accent and computers can load the correct characters and fonts on screen), a user's focus won't be moved  without warning, and that when filling in forms, the user is provided with all the information they need to finish the form successfully.

Robust: This is the hardest to understand. Criteria under this heading essentially boil down to the idea that a website is going to work across a wide number of devices and in a lot of different environments. This includes telling screen readers and browsers what different controls are and how to expect them to behave so that information can be provided to the user.

The discussion of web standards is a much bigger and broader topic than we can cover in detail here, but it's helpful to understand the idea of what constitutes "technical accessibility" so that you can determine what you should expect to know to use the web effectively and what you should be able to expect from web developers (whether or not they meet those expectations).

Evaluating Road Conditions: The State of the Web Today

Let's take a moment here and be very blunt. The state of the web is really mixed. That's why we are having these  lessons. It's sometimes hard to figure out when a problem you are having is because you don't understand something that should work, or when the problem isn't you but that the website was created badly. The bad news is that this is the case for all of us—sighted people too have this question as they surf the web. However, there is plenty of good news. More web developers are coming to recognize the value of accessible and intuitive design and are trying to implement it in their products. We are seeing some very powerful and very functional sites. Increasingly because of work done by the National Federation of the Blind and many others, through legislation, education, and (when nothing else works) litigation, more sites than ever before are working with varying levels of success to reach proper technical accessibility as described in WCAG. Even better, there are some true leaders in the field who are moving beyond concern for "technical accessibility," and are working on ways to create truly functional accessibility for as many users as possible. These organizations are testing with blind and other disabled users, hiring specialists, and working hard to innovate in the field. They want to build the best web they can for everyone.

Many developers are pushing the envelope of what is possible in designing accessibly for the web, which means that we users will find lots of new information being presented by our screen readers. Think of it almost like road signs. Initially we only had a few: links, buttons, edit fields, etc. Now there are some really wild bits of work like calendars that allow you to choose the date from a grid or autocomplete programs that will offer suggestions for what's next even before you hit enter. Therefore, we users must realize that we can no longer pull our Model A out of the garage and tootle down the road, expecting gravel lanes and a twenty-miles-per-hour speed limit. To make the most of the highway on which we find ourselves, we need to learn how to read the signs and make sure we know  what to do to get the most out of our car/browser. If we don't, we're going to be left in the dust.

Final Thoughts

Initially I was intending this project to be a single article discussing how to improve one's web browsing experience as a blind user, but as I outlined it, I realized that this is far too much information for a single piece. Instead, over the next several months new installments will be published here in the Braille Monitor. Topics in this series will include:

Browsers: Choosing the Right Vehicle for the Journey

Screen Readers: Efficient Driving Requires the Right Sensors

Basic Navigation: Hitting the Road and Finding Your Way

Defensive Driving: Strategies for More Complex or Less Accessible Journeys

Browser Tune-Up: Customizations that Can Increase the Pleasures of the Journey

Social Media: Making the Most of Some of the Web's Finest Roadside Attractions

So, class dismissed—for now.
by Alyssa Shock

From the Editor: This article originally appeared in the fall 2017 issue of The Sounding Board, the official publication of the National Federation of the Blind of New Jersey. Here is the way it was introduced:

As a psychology major I've been asked: Isn't psychology just common sense? The fact is, no, psychology is not just common sense. One thing a psychology major quickly learns is that he or she will be looking at a lot of scientific research in the course of his or her education. Psychology majors also learn basic skills to design and answer research questions. I applied for the NFB scholarship because I had a sort of "research question" of my own: Can someone with my qualifications and experience win a scholarship and a great opportunity to attend a convention from the biggest scholarship program for the blind in the United States? I proceeded to submit my application.

I was out to dinner on a Sunday when I got a call from an unknown number. I usually don't pick up calls from unknown numbers because of all the sales and scam calls promising things such as discounts on my electric bill. If it was important, I thought, the caller would leave a voicemail, and this caller did. Because I volunteer for a sexual violence resource center, I was worried that an emergency had come up, and someone from there was trying to contact me. So, in the middle of dinner, I proceeded to listen to my message. When I discovered the call was from a member of the NFB Scholarship Committee, I couldn't help but call back immediately.

I spent the rest of that meal celebrating the fact that I had won an NFB scholarship—and wondering how in the world I would manage to make it through the convention by myself. I had been to convention once before with my mother and an aunt, but I knew this time I would be on my own. The thought of that was a bit scary.

Before I knew it, I was inside the hotel on the first day of convention. Since I am easily overstimulated, I did find it overwhelming. One of the first things I learned was that to keep calm I was going to have to break everything down into small steps and focus on the  action I was taking at the moment. For example: if I wanted to get to a meeting from my room, first I would have to get to the first floor, then find my way around the rotunda, and so on. I would need to focus on each step and try to keep everything else out of my mind.

Once I figured out how to cope with the environment, I was able to gain a lot of information from the meetings. I learned about forms of discrimination and access barriers that blind people have faced and how the NFB helps overcome these issues. For example, I learned that the NFB has fought for blind people who have faced low expectations from teachers and how these students lacked necessary accommodations to gain the same knowledge as their sighted counterparts.

To be honest, I have personally faced little discrimination and few access barriers thus far in my life. I was shocked to hear about the terrible ways in which blind people have been slighted and times when they have been cheated out of opportunities and experiences. I believe that continuing the fight to overcome discrimination and access barriers is extremely important. With all of this in mind, I want to take a moment to thank those who have been extremely accommodating and given me wonderful experiences throughout my life, including, especially, my family, the  Dumont (NJ) School District, Fairleigh Dickinson University, and the YWCA of  Bergen County.

At convention I also learned about technologies intended to help overcome access barriers, such as the awesome development of a Braille display that makes images tactile. I also learned about Aira, a new technology that helps blind people have easier access to information. I would be lying if I said that I have come home from convention without the desire to invest in some new technologies for myself.

Probably the most important thing I learned is that blind people all over the nation and the world are overcoming barriers and getting the degrees, finding the jobs, and having the experiences they want. In other words, they are living the lives they want.

My mentors during convention were people I will never forget. They affirmed my belief that I can obtain my career goal of becoming a mental health counselor. Even more significantly, they affirmed that I can do anything I put my mind to and truly want, even if doing so does require me to overcome discrimination and access barriers. Speaking of that, I learned that the NFB will do everything they can to help blind people with these kinds of struggles.

Of course, I did not spend all of my time in convention activities. I used my spare time meeting new friends and visiting with old ones. When things became too overwhelming, my friends helped me relax and find some peace. Learning did not stop when I was outside the convention. I learned and shared perspectives even in my spare time. All of this learning was fun and certainly did not feel like work.

With all of this in mind, I would definitely recommend that everyone who is blind or visually impaired try to go to an NFB convention. There is so much to experience and so many great people to meet. However, I do have one word of caution regarding convention: sleep may be hard to come by. There is so much to do that getting the normal six to eight hours per night may not be possible.

Looking back from home, I cannot believe that one small "research question" could lead to such awesome  results. A final thanks is due to the NFB Scholarship Committee for making possible the awesome experience I had at convention.

Recipes this month are provided by the National Federation of the Blind of Indiana.

Buffalo Chicken Dip
by Cori Wills

Cori is an up-and-coming leader in the Federation in Indiana. He also works for Bosma Enterprise for the Blind and does a lot of work in our local Lions Club.

1 pound chicken breast, shredded 
1 8-ounce brick of cream cheese 
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese 
2/3 cup buffalo sauce 
1/4 cup bacon bits 
1 cup ranch dip

Method: Mix all ingredients in sauce pan and heat through. This can also be microwaved. Do not overcook. Enjoy with corn scoops or tortilla scoops.

Cream Cheese Ball
by Cori Wills

1 8-ounce block of cream cheese
garlic salt (to taste)
8 green olives
1/3 cup of shredded cheese
4 slices of chipped beef, chipped honey ham or combination (sometimes I add 4 or 5 pieces of pepperoni)
1 onion (if desired)

Method: Take your cream cheese and set it out for about one hour to get room temperature. Take your meat, olives, cheese, and onion (if using one) and chop it in the food processor or small pieces by hand. Open cream cheese and put it on a plate and flatten it with a fork. Sprinkle garlic salt on cream cheese. Add your chopped meat, cheese, olive, and onion. Mix together (you can use a fork or your fingers). I like to add a little bit of the olive juice for flavor, but that’s up to you. Refrigerate. This will keep for five to seven days if you don’t eat it all the first day.

BBQ Pork
by Cori Wills

1/2 yellow onion, sliced
2 to 3 pounds pork butt
1/2 cup chicken broth
1 cup BBQ sauce
Salt and pepper 

Method: Place onion on bottom of crockpot. Rub the pork with salt and pepper; place pork on top of onion. Pour chicken broth over pork. Pour BBQ sauce over pork. Cook on low for eight hours. Pull apart with forks, then serve.

Single-Serve Apple Pies
by Cori Wills

These are really good; however only make what you are going to eat right away, because they are not good reheated. The instructions have been broken down so that you can make only one at a time if you wish.

crescent rolls
1/3 teaspoon brown sugar
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
apples (I bought apple slices in a package, and they come with either peanut butter or caramel; that way if I only want to make three, I could eat the rest and have dip.)

Method: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Take one crescent roll, which is going to be triangular in shape. Mix the cinnamon and brown sugar together. Take the crescent roll with the wide end toward you. Sprinkle the cinnamon and brown sugar mixture on the crescent roll, leaving a pinch to dust the top. Take one slice of an apple (if it is really thin you can use two slices). Put the apple slice on the wide end and roll it, then sprinkle the rest of the cinnamon and brown sugar on top. Bake this for eleven to thirteen minutes.

Hamburger Pie
by Jean Brown

Jean Brown is the first lady of the Indiana Affiliate. She has been the state fundraising chair for over thirty years, and she is known in the affiliate for her famous fried chicken.

1 pound ground beef
1 8-ounce can of Campbell’s tomato soup
1 8-ounce can cut green beans
3/4 cup of grated cheese (more if desired)
Salt and pepper to taste
1 box of potatoes (follow box instructions or use your favorite mashed potato recipe, using 4-5 potatoes)

Method: Preheat oven to 360 degrees while the ground beef is cooking over medium high heat. Use a fork or spatula to break up the pound of beef. When the beef is cooked, drain the fat from the meat and transfer the meat to a glass baking dish or pan. Stir in the tomato soup and seasonings. Drain the green beans and add to the dish; make sure all ingredients are covered with the soup. Use a large cooking spoon to put four or five heaping spoons of potato on top of the pie. Sprinkle the cheese on top of the potato mounds. Bake about twenty-five minutes or until the cheese is golden brown. Serve with a side salad, garlic bread or rolls; makes four to five servings. Enjoy!

Mexican Casserole
by Susan Jones

Susan is a longtime member of the NFB of Indiana. She is retired from the Social Security Administration. She also is one of their BELL project teachers and does a lot of volunteer work in the community.

1 pound lean ground beef or turkey
1 medium onion, chopped
1 16-ounce can chopped tomatoes
1 15-ounce can kidney beans
4 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup grated cheddar cheese

Cornbread topping:
1/2 cup cornmeal
1/2 cup whole wheat flour, sifted
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 tablespoons shortening
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup milk

Method: Brown meat and onion, add tomatoes, beans, and seasonings, and simmer on low ten minutes. Grate cheese and set aside. Lightly grease a four-quart casserole dish and pour the meat mixture into it. Top with the grated cheese.

Mix up the cornbread, and spread evenly over the top. Bake at 425 degrees for twenty minutes. Cut into wedges, and serve upside down on plates.

Eligible Sprint Customers Can Get a  KNFB Reader Enterprise License for Free:
Starting November 20, 2017, Sprint customers who purchase a new line of service or eligible upgrade through Sprint Accessibility will receive a free license to download the KNFB Reader Enterprise app on up to two mobile devices.

If you are a new or upgrading Sprint customer, you may be able to get the power to convert printed documents into speech or Braille instantly and accurately at no extra cost!

All you need to do is:

Visit sprint.com/vision or a Sprint store to purchase a new line of service or eligible upgrade.
Call (855) 885-7568 and ask a Sprint Accessibility Care representative for the KNFB Reader Enterprise app.
Sprint will provide you with the information you need to create a username and password that will activate your new KNFB Reader Enterprise license.
Download the KNFB Reader Enterprise app from the Apple App Store, Google Play Store, or Windows 10 Store.
When you launch the app, enter the username and password from step 3 above, and you’re all set!
Please be sure to download the KNFB Reader Enterprise app, not KNFB Reader for $99.99. The KNFB Reader Enterprise app is listed free in the app stores and can be activated with your free KNFB Reader Enterprise License from Sprint. KNFB Reader Enterprise allows users to enjoy the power of KNFB Reader on multiple devices. Make sure that KNFB Reader Enterprise is the app that you download onto your devices to take advantage of this offer. KNFB Reader Enterprise works on Apple, Android, Windows 10 devices, and Windows 10 laptops and PCs.

You’ll be able to use KNFB Reader Enterprise on up to two devices with the KNFB Reader Enterprise license that Sprint provides. Just download KNFB Reader Enterprise on both devices and use the same username and password. For example, you can download KNFB Reader Enterprise onto your Sprint phone and also to your Windows 10 laptop. Alternatively, you can use the product on both your Android phone and Android tablet.

To learn more about what the KNFB Reader Enterprise can do, visit www.knfbreader.com.

Happy reading from the National Federation of the Blind and Sprint Accessibility!

At the Sixty-first Annual Convention of the National Federation of the Blind of New York the following officers were elected: president, Mike Robinson; vice president, Chancey Fleet; second vice president, Catherine Mendez; secretary, Lucy Marr; treasurer, Kate Carroll.

The 2017 White Cane Banquet—A White Cane Day Celebration:
The atmosphere was tinged with enthusiasm as Federationists filled a private room at the El Patron restaurant. This event was planned and hosted by the West Mesa Chapter of the National Federation of the Blind of New Mexico. The occasion was the celebration of the fiftieth anniversary of the White Cane Law. New Mexico played a high-profile role in this historical event as then Governor David Cargo signed the law into effect in 1967.

West Mesa Chapter President Don Burns shared the fact that he had obtained White Cane proclamations from the mayors of Rio Rancho and Albuquerque as well as from Governor Martinez. The highlight of the event was the guest speaker, Stephanie Kean, field representative for Congresswoman Michelle Lujan Grisham. She brought regards from the Congresswoman and commended the NFB for our positive work in protecting the rights of the blind population who use a white cane or guide dog. Her comments were well received. Caroline Benavidez, first vice president of the NFBNM and retired school teacher, shared her thoughts on the importance of her white cane as a professional woman. Tara Chavez, a mom, working woman, and president of the Albuquerque Chapter told about the importance of her guide dog.

Arthur Schreiber, president emeritus, recounted the difficulty in obtaining this important law. Curtis Chong, treasurer of the NFBNM, read the proclamation from his Braille copy. All of these presentations were given before Ms. Kean had to leave for another event. We thanked her for attending and expressed our appreciation for bringing comments from Congresswoman Lujan Grisham.

West Mesa Chapter members had decorated the tables with miniature white canes and provided two door prizes. This event highlighted the history and importance of the White Cane Law and the important role played by the National Federation of the Blind of New Mexico. The White Cane Law plays a key role in allowing us to live the lives we want.

Monitor Mart

The notices in this section have been edited for clarity, but we can pass along only the information we were given. We are not responsible for the accuracy of the statements made or the quality of the products for sale.

For Sale: 
I have one never-used HP netbook which includes Window-Eyes, Dragon Naturally Speaking, and a wireless headset. I will provide free shipping. I am asking $499. Please call Steve at (517) 347-7046.

NFB Pledge
I pledge to participate actively in the efforts of the National Federation of the Blind to achieve equality, opportunity, and security for the blind; to support the policies and programs of the Federation; and to abide by its constitution.

Jim Y. McCollum
j.mccollum64 at comcast.net 
860-581-0430 (mobile) 
203-535-1620 (home)

Sent from my iPhone
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