[nfbmi-talk] THE CAPITOL STEPS Spring 2014

Larry Posont president.nfb.mi at gmail.com
Sun Mar 23 20:38:30 UTC 2014

Spring 2014

Eric and Laura Smith, Co-editors

Published by and distributed by e-mail request
The National Federation of the Blind of the District of Columbia

Shawn Callaway, DC Affiliate President
P.O. Box 29141, Washington, DC 20017-2808
(202) 352-1511

E-mail subscription requests, articles and Letters to the Editor for
The Capitol Steps should be emailed to NFBDC1 at gmail.com. The editorial
staff reserves the right to edit all articles for space and/or clarity

Please Note: The deadline for the next issue is May 22, 2014.

Table of Contents
1. Message from the President
2. Letter to the Editor
3. Legislative Issues--Washington Seminar

5. Braille for All


8. "Save the Date"

9. Singing with the NFB

1.	Message from the President
Dear Federationists,
We've started out 2014 with a bang. The Washington Seminar was
inspirational as well as President Obama's order to include the
disabled in his push for a higher minimum wage.
Our Community Services Division has decided to focus its efforts on
events and fundraising to support our members and blind and visually
impaired students in our community. Members will be able to learn
Braille, attend support groups, and help provide school supplies and
backpacks for children who are blind and visually impaired. Fund
raising through candy bar sales will also help raise donations to help
support programs--bring your dollars to the meetings. We all love
Our March Prayer Breakfast, held at Union Wesley A.M.E. Zion Church,
was a great success, with 130 in attendance. Several Federationists
recited Biblical scriptures and prayers which coincided with the theme
of Life, Love & Leadership.  Spiritual hymns were sung by
Federationists Michelle Clark, Gail Cephas, Renatta Beverly, Margaret
Williams & Jackie Patrick.  Also, the gospel tunes were spun by the DC
Chapter's own John Colbert, better known as, DJ Double M.  We would
like to thank our keynote speaker, Evangelist Lisa Moses Brown, for
her inspiring and uplifting words of encouragement.  In addition, I
want to congratulate Mr. William Wharton on receiving the first NFB of
DC Spirit Award, which recognizes an individual's significant
contributions to the Federation and their church home.
We're excited about our upcoming first year of the summer BELL
(Braille Enrichment Literacy and Learning) Program for local school
children. We're happy to be able to support our kids with a solid, yet
enjoyable educational opportunity to improve their reading and writing
Braille skills.
We will have a Crab Feast in June together with the Maryland National
Harbor Chapter. Past partnering activities have included attending
"Guess Who Is Coming To Dinner" at Arena Stage and a boat ride to
Mount Vernon with the Potomac Virginia Chapter.
 We are beginning the planning process for our annual state convention
October 9-12 and long-range planning for the 40th anniversary of our
DC Affiliate on March 25, 2015. We're middle-aged now and boy, will we
We're already making preparations for our train trip to the National
Convention in July. Get ready Orlando!
Cordially yours, 	
Shawn Callaway, President

2.	Letter to the Editor
Dear Editor,
I am a new NFB member and I just wanted to express my gratitude to
Sight 'N' Vision Disability Talk Radio Show on WOL 1450 AM for their
program Fridays at 12:30 p m. The show provides a discussion of
relevant everyday issues facing the disabled as well as the elderly
and their families.

I am a new listener and when I first tuned in, I found out how to
access the performing arts for the visually impaired, and was able to
attend an audio described play at the Fords Theater.
I find that the topics presented on this program help me explore at a
deeper level, what meaningful contact and experiences are among the
visually impaired. I encourage those who may not have had an
opportunity to check out the radio program to do so. It felt like
honest conversations I have had with friends.

With all Sincerity,
Ms. Harriet Davis

Ms. Davis:  We hope that you will enjoy and find our newsletter
informative as well.  Welcome to our NFB family. The Editors

3.	 Legislative Issues--Washington Seminar
January breezes brought more than 500 Federationists to the annual
Washington Seminar.  The Holiday Inn Capitol in the District of
Columbia buzzed with conversations around strategies on how to
approach members of Congress on legislative issues impacting the
nation's blind.
Our most notable accomplishment was that President Obama ordered new
federal contractors to pay all workers, including people with
disabilities at least $10.10 per hour. This announcement came after
the NFB and other groups called on the President to include disabled
workers in the Executive Order he announced in his State of the Union
speech. You can read NFB President Mark Maurer's letter to President
Obama at https://nfb.org/national-federation-blind-urges-president-obama-expand-executive-order-wages
Progress is also being made on HR 3505, a new bill that promotes
Technology, Education and Accessibility in College and Higher
Education (TEACH) Act, designed to make e-books and related
technologies accessible to blind and disabled students.  Also proposed
is new civil rights legislation--The Air Carrier Technology
Accessibility (ACTA) Act which would require that airport kiosks,
airline web sites and mobile apps be made accessible to blind or
disabled travelers. A group of DC Federationists will soon be meeting
with Congresswoman Norton or a member of her staff to discuss these
important issues.
You can find much more about the Washington Seminar in the March issue
of the Braille Monitor, available now on NEWSLINE and NFB.org.

Aging has a way of forcing one to modify one's approach to life. Snap,
crackle, pop are no longer just the sounds of our cereal and the old
saw that I 'm seeing a new guy daily--Arthur Ritis is still worthy of a
But living--really living demands that we continue doing the things
that give us pleasure--we just have to modify our engagement. Letting
go of outside interests and activities is not the answer. It does
require extra effort, but it is worth it.
Historic Ford's Theatre's--yes, the theatre where Lincoln was
assassinated-- is again used as a venue for live theatre. Their recent
production of "Violet" is a case in point. The Saturday matinee which
I attended featured audio description. For a person who is blind or
low vision, this marriage of technology and live theatre allows a
blind or low vision theatre goer to have a fully engaging experience--
the same as any other audience member.
The listening device looks like a pared down set of earphones. You
look less like an alien and more like everyone else walking around
looking cyborg-ish with ear buds sprouting from their ears. Technology
challenged are you? Not to worry, a member of the house staff [that's
theatre talk for ushers and other staff] will assist you with getting
onto the right channel and with the volume control. You place the ear
buds into your ears and the device hangs below your chin.
Via the device, a volunteer gives you notes before the production.
Notes are another theatre term that means they describe the set and
give  you a synopsis of the storyline. Once the production starts, the
volunteer, who is actually in the theatre and watching the same
production, describes the action and the movement of the actors during
lulls in the on-stage dialogue.
A couple of caveats: Check with the theatre in advance. They will have
the number of audio listening devices you need at the ready. Not all
productions are audio described, so call ahead to learn which are.
Unfortunately, not all theatres offer audio description. If you use
the service, ask for the House Manager and give kudos. To theatres who
don't offer the service, let them know that there is a demand for
audio description.
Live theatre engages the senses in a way that film or television can
only simulate.
Relegating the arts--music, theatre or film to a less important status
impoverishes the creative "us". Dylan Thomas said it, albeit about
death, but it applies to aging too--"do not go gentle into that good

5.	Braille for All
Braille, the raised dot language of the Blind, got its name from its
creator, Frenchman Louis Braille. He initially designed it as a way
for soldiers to communicate on the battlefield . Later, it was
discovered it could be used successfully as a communication tool for
the blind. It has proved to be an effective reading and writing tool
for more than 150 years. NFB has a division, NAPUB, which has the
mission of promoting the use of Braille.
NFB Action Fund (www.ActionFund.org)distributes free books in Braille
for children for them to keep. See their web site for further details
and an application.
In March 2009, following strong advocacy by the NFB, the US Mint
issued a commemorative silver dollar to honor Louis Braille on his
200th birthday. It was the first U.S. coin to incorporate Braille into
the design, and both uncirculated and proof Braille coins were minted.
Want to be a celebrity? NFB National Office is seeking pictures of you
or your child reading a Braille book near landmarks (cherry trees,
Washington Monument or?) We want to show the world that Braille
readers are everywhere! Chosen pictures will be posted on www.nfb.org
or NFB's Facebook page or tweeted by @NFB Voice.
  -Braille for Youth
DC BELL PROGRAM (Braille Enrichment Literacy and Learning).
DC is excited to offer the BELL Program August 4-15 for blind and
visually impaired students ages 4-14 years old for the first time this
summer. DC will join 25 state affiliates and is "very fortunate to be
able to use DC facilities and personnel for the program," according to
Conchita Hernandez, Program Coordinator. Transportation and food will
also be provided for the students.
The 2-week program will be held at Francis Stevens Education Center,
2425 N Street NW, and will use DC teachers who are familiar with local
students and programs. We heard a rumor that long-time NFB member Gail
Snider has offered to read to students during "story time" and we're
sure she will perform her job dramatically and with her lovely English
accent. Other volunteers who can read stories or help with the program
are needed.
BLIND INC. Summer Programs (Minnesota isn't so bad in the summer)
A.	BUDDY Program, July 12-August 2, 2014 for children ages 9-13 in
Minneapolis. The Buddy Program offers an opportunity for blind
children to make friends and have fun in a positive and secure setting
as well as to learn and practice alternative techniques of blindness
while building self-confidence, according to Charlene Guggisberg,
Coordinator of Youth and Special Programs at BLIND, Inc.
B.	 PREP (Post-secondary Readiness Empowerment Program), June 9
-August 1, 2014 prepares high school students for academic,
employment, and social success.  PREP students live in apartments,
shop for groceries, prepare meals, and clean their apartments as part
of their home and personal management training. While in career
exploration they learn about note taking, accessible accommodations,
and disability services on college campuses.
PREP students will travel to the NFB National Convention in Orlando,
FL with staff members and adult students. They will attend the
National Association of Blind Students seminar, other presentations
and meetings and learn about cutting edge technology.
For more information or to complete an application for these programs,
you can visit the website at www.blindinc.org or call 612-872-0100
(ext. 251), or toll free 800-597-9558, or
e-mailcguggisberg at blindinc.org
--Braille for Adults
Beginning Braille skills for adults will be taught by Libra Robinson
and Conrad Perry every other Friday from 10-12 noon beginning March 7
at DCCIL, 1400 Florida Avenue NE. Each student will use a slate and
stylus to learn and practice reading and writing basic alphabet
letters and numbers and labeling technique.
Adults who are experts in Braille can get NLS-certified through an NFB
Program. NLS certification can lead to fulfilling employment and
volunteer opportunities as a Braille transcriber or proofreader.
Contact Jennifer Dunnam or Natalie Shaheen at the NFB National Office.
Books for self-study are also available. The best resources include:
Beginning Braille for Adults,   Handbook of Braille Contractions by
American Action Fund, and The Slate Book by Jennifer Dunnam. They will
be available at National Convention, can be ordered from NFB.org or by
calling 410-659-9314.


I was introduced to Braille in 3rd or 4th grade by Mrs. Betty Krause
at Grant Elementary School. I remember my first day walking into the
classroom where she was sitting waiting for her one student to arrive.
There was a 2 inch thick Grade One Braille book lying on the desk,
already open to Lesson One. That told me that Mrs. Betty Krause was a
no-nonsense teacher.

She asked me why I wanted to learn Braille and I answered, "Because I
like a challenge." She taught me the basic code and the philosophy of
the importance of Braille. She was a first-rate Braille instructor.

Well, to make a long story short, I mastered beginning Braille in a
short time. By the end of the school year I was asked to show off my
skills by reading an inspirational piece in Braille for the closing of
the school year program. I guess her no nonsense approach worked!

Now, for me, Braille is like using a paper and pen. There is always a
place for it in my life.
I use it for recipes, to label my clothing, to mark canned goods and
food in my freezer.
I am the Secretary for the Greater DC Chapter of NFB and I use it to
write and read the minutes of each meeting.

Probably my favorite use of Braille is to go to the store and buy a
game not designed for blind people. Then, using my Braille skills, I
make the game accessible by Brailling the game boards, cards or game
pieces. I'm sure Mrs. Betty Krause would be proud that I continue to
use the Braille skills that she taught me for so many things!


DC Federationist, Renee Donalvo-Carlsen wanted to share this memory
aid for remembering
some often-used contractions, sung to the familiar tune, "Jesus Loves
Me, This I Know". She has
used it with her young students in the DC Vision program "to
facilitate their speed and ease in
reading Braille" says Ms. Donalvo-Carlsen.

Braille contractions help me read,
Faster, better, yes indeed.
Fingers move from left to right.
Words are short to read and write.

(Chorus) Yes I read faster!
Yes I write better!
Hear me now, I'll read!
Contractions help me so!

B for but and T for that,
C  for can and N for not.
F from, M more, rather R.
Very V and Z for as.

(Repeat chorus.)

P for people, quite for Q,
D for do and G for go.
It for X and Y for you,
Just for J and us for U.

(Repeat chorus.)

E every, H have, S so.
L for like, will W.
Knowledge K, I I, A a.
O o, contractions more to know!

(Repeat chorus.)

8.	"Save the Date"
"Sight 'N Vision Disability Talk", on WOL , 1450AM radio and streaming
at www.woldcnews.com.is on the air Fridays 12:30 to 1:00 p.m.
Federationist Ray Raysor hosts the show which focuses on disability
issues and guests.   ALERT--the shows before the April 1st DC primary
will feature mayoral candidates.
The DC Center for Independent Living (DCCIL) offers a men's support
group for persons who are blind or visually impaired to share ideas
and resources to enhance the quality of life on alternate Tuesdays
from 10-12 noon which began on March 4th. Contact DCCIL Executive
Director Richard Sims for more information at (202) 388-0033.  A
women's support group is also being formed.
Are you reading NEWSLINE? Ms. Kathy Gosslin in the Adaptive Services
Division at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Library is available to help
you sign up, retrieve a lost password or help you learn to navigate
this free phone-based reading service. Call her for a free individual
training session at (202) 442-4365 or e-mail her at
nfb.newsline at dc.gov
The Community Service Division will be providing back packs and school
supplies for approximately 15 local blind and visually impaired
students this fall. They are raising funds for this effort, as well as
taking donations of specific items which include: Braille slates and
styluses, Braille and regular lined paper, 20/20 pens, regular pens,
pencils, Braille and regular erasers, folders, and notebooks. The two
big ticket items are talking calculators and voice recorders. "We
think this will get our students off to a good start for the upcoming
school year," says division president, Libra Robinson. "All donated
items will go to the children and any monetary donations will fund
this project as well as others that we plan to implement".  Please
contact Ms. Robinson at leelibra342 at gmail.com if you can help with
this worthwhile project.

27   The Capital East Chapter is sponsoring its annual black blind
history event with DCPS students at Francis Stevens School from 10
a.m. to 2 p.m. Three successfully-employed, blind adults and a fourth
person, now working toward a GED and looking for a job, will speak to
the kids.
10  Chapter Meeting, Capital East, 600-8:00 p.m., Plymouth Sr. Center,
5233 N. Capitol St. NE12  Chapter Meeting, Greater DC,  1:00-3:00
p.m., 3rd Dist. Police Station, 1620 V Street NW
3  Bus Trip to Atlantic City  A day trip to Atlantic City--visit the
casinos, walk the boardwalk and hang out with your NFB friends on the
bus. We leave at 8:00 a.m. from the Model City Senior Wellness  Center
at 1901 Evarts St NE. Fifty dollars includes the bus ride, a
continental breakfast on board and a casino voucher for $15. If you
need assistance, bring a friend. Tickets are limited so sign up now!
8 Chapter Meeting, Capital East, 600-8:00 p.m., Plymouth Sr. Center,
5233 N. Capitol St. NE10 Chapter Meeting, Greater DC,  1:00-3:00 p.m.,
3rd Dist. Police Station, 1620 V Street NW Join us at 12 noon for a
luncheon put on by the guys to honor all mothers for Mother's Day
before the meeting.
14    Annual Crab Feast, Bladensburg Waterfront Park Pavilion,  4601
Annapolis Road
We will be having a co-sponsored get-together with the Maryland
National Harbor Chapter with all-you-can-eat local crabs cooked
on-site, chicken, hot dogs, hamburgers and potato salad and more. The
site also offers a free boat ride and hiking trails where you can walk
off those extra pounds. Tickets are $55 and our group is limited to
the first 100 signed up.

12 Chapter Meeting, Capital East, 600-8:00 p.m., Plymouth Sr. Center,
5233 N. Capitol St. NE
21  Chapter Meeting, Greater DC,  1:00-3:00 p.m., 3rd Dist. Police
Station, 1620 V Street NW Last regular chapter meeting until

1-6 NFB National Convention in Orlando, FL
The NFB conference registration form is now available online as well
as the convention agenda at www.nfb.org.  Call the Rosen Centre Hotel
to reserve your room at 1-800-204-7234. They require a $95 deposit
when you reserve. Washington area members and friends will be on the
Amtrak Silver Star leaving at 3 pm on Monday, June 30th   and arriving
back at Union Station on Tuesday, July 8th.  All aboard!!

9.	Singing with the NFB
Conventioneers will hear old-timers singing many traditional songs.
One of them is printed below so you can familiarize yourself with it
before the convention. It is sung to the "Battle Hymn of the
Republic." If you think you can do better, there is a contest to write
a new anthem for NFB. More details follow the song.
 Battle Song of the NFB
Words by Floyd Fields and Josephine Huff
Blind eyes have seen the vision of the Federation way.
New White Cane legislation brings the dawn of a new day.
The right of the blind to organize is truly here to stay.
Our cause goes marching on.
(Refrain) Glory, glory, Federation,
Glory, glory, Federation,
Glory, glory, Federation,
Our cause goes marching on.
We have seen it in the action of four hundred chapters strong.
Good leadership and courage have righted many a wrong.
Let's aid NFB's program and join in its battle song.
Our cause goes marching on.
Ten Broek has sounded trumpet which shall never sound "retreat."
We have sifted out the hearts of blind before our judgment seat.
Oh, be swift all blind to answer, and be jubilant your feet.
Our cause goes marching on.
To aid the blind's long struggle we have formed the NFB
To free them from their bondage of workshop and agency,
To give a hand to all the blind wherever they may be.
Our cause goes marching on.
Call for a new NFB Song--Send NFB National at nfbsong at nfb.org a simple
recording of yourself, or with a group, performing a new song that
could potentially be used as the NFB new battle song before July 13,
2014. The song must be original, no copyright infringement permitted.
The finalists will then be voted upon by our membership to determine
the winning song, details on that to come!
In addition to having the opportunity to impact the history of the
Federation, the person that submits the winning song will receive a
complimentary registration and banquet ticket for our 75th anniversary
to be held in July 2015, as well as have the lyrics to the winning
song printed on the anniversary convention program.
Help us show the world that with love, hope, and determination, we
transform dreams into reality!  If you have any questions about the
contest, please feel free to contact the chairman of our song
committee, Gabe Cazares, at gcazares at nfbtx.org. The new federation
song contest is an effort of the 75th NFB Anniversary Committee with
support from the NFB Performing Arts Division.
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.

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