[Nfbmo] Blind Missourian

Gene Coulter escoulter at centurytel.net
Thu Aug 1 04:34:16 UTC 2013

Gary Please distribute to leaders and anywhere else  you please. Needs to be 
posted on website as well.

The Blind Missourian

July 2013

          National Federation of the Blind

                              Of Missouri

   “Striving to achieve Equality, Opportunity, and Security for the Blind”

Table of Contents

2013 Presidential Report By Gary Wunder                                   1

Rita Lynch By Carol Coulter 

Resolutions By Dacia Luck 

Note on NFB Newsline By Gene Coulter 

Amazon Kindle: Is It Coming to a School Near You?

   By Mehgan Sidhu and Valerie Yingling 

Presidential Report

By President Gary Wunder

Presented to the

Convention of the

National Federation of the Blind of Missouri

April 13, 2013

Several weeks ago I was on a panel to discuss how we would acknowledge and 
celebrate the upcoming seventy-fifth anniversary of the National Federation 
of the Blind. Questions to be decided were what we should highlight from our 
last seventy-five years, what big event we should create to draw the 
attention of the public, what meaningful gift we should give those attending 
this special commemorative convention, and perhaps, most importantly, what 
goals and programs we should commit ourselves to undertake so that our 
celebration will clearly be as much about the future as it is the past. One 
of our participants offered the concern that the blind of the future may 
lack the commitment to do the work that will make the next seventy-five 
years of progress possible. He fears that the young of today lack the hunger 
and drive of past generations who determined to change conditions for the 
blind as they found them. He wonders if the blind of today have it so easy 
that they cannot understand the work we do or appreciate that it has a place 
in their lives.

His opinion was heard politely and with respect. It was also granted as 
genuine, and we appreciated his willingness to express his feelings 
honestly. But an argument was made on the other side suggesting that the 
problem isn't that young people aren't doing what we once did because they 
have it too good, but that the problems they face are different enough that 
they are harder to see for what they are. When people of my generation were 
told "There is no place for you in this school," or "This high school may 
have many courses you can take, but my chemistry class isn't one of them," 
we knew the pain one feels in being kept out and turned that pain into 

But today few of us are told we must stay out: we are let in, given a chair, 
given handheld clickers we are to use to register our attendance in class 
and to take examinations. We are given ebooks for our texts and websites 
which will let us read Lincoln's Gettysburg address, see a reenactment, and 
hear his words spoken as they might have sounded on that cold and memorable 
day. We are given a piece of software that will let us talk with our fellow 
students between classes, figure out what they are making of the class 
lectures, and share with them our own perspectives. The professor can 
observe these conversations and get to know us in ways that a fifty-minute 
class session could never allow.

But being invited in the door, offered an empty seat, handed an electronic 
clicker, given an eBook, and provided with a program that will let us get 
our class syllabus and participate in class discussion doesn't mean much if 
the pocket-size device can't talk, the website can't be navigated, and our 
screen-reading software can't begin to make sense of the buttons required to 
read and share opinions with fellow students. The closing of a door in one's 
face requires little reflection to determine who is being kept out and who 
is barring the door, but this new equipment presents the trappings of 
acceptance, offers the hope for an equal shot, and when that equal shot 
turns out to be anything but equal--to present nothing at all resembling a 
level playing field--figuring out who is to blame is harder. Was it the 
developer of the clicking device who bears the blame, the teacher who 
deployed it, the university who allowed him to do it, the access office who 
wasn't aggressive enough in seeing to the needs of its disabled students, or 
was it me, the student, who simply wasn't resourceful enough to figure out a 
way to make it in the new and exciting world of the 21st century? That 
doubt, the thought that we might be complicit in our own failure, may well 
be enough to make many simply give up. Without the experience of having the 
door slammed in their face, no explicit verbal rebuff to their knock at the 
door requesting to come in, is it any wonder that some of us cannot see that 
there is a battle to be fought; that this injustice is being inflicted on 
hundreds of us as the dream of growing up to be a normal, capable, and 
contributing member of society is being stolen in the guise of open access 
to the world. Never having had to convince his junior high there was a place 
for him in their school, never having had to figure out where to get a book 
or to devise a strategy for functioning in a class until it came, never 
having had to talk fast and convincingly to argue rehab should send her to 
college, our young student of today may lack the experiences that come from 
small victories to carry and support her in her larger battle. Because 
sometimes you and I in this room let blind people pass by without telling 
them about this organization, too many young people don't know about the 
power that comes in having numbers of capable and committed blind people 
behind them-sometimes offering moral support, sometimes offering expertise, 
sometimes paying for legal advice, and sometimes going to the halls of 
Congress to demand the change that will make their lives better.

For me this is the more compelling argument: not that young people are 
different, that they are apathetic, that they are self-satisfied, that they 
are content to live just within the security of the safety net. Instead it 
is we who are blessed with fuller lives who must do a better job of sending 
the message of hope and helping—so that all who hear it may come to 
understand that it is them to whom we are talking, them for whom we strive 
and work, and they who must eventually come up to the line, take the 
controls, and be in charge of helping themselves and others. This 
overarching commitment is what we have been about this year in the National 
Federation of the Blind of Missouri.

Last year we talked at our 50th convention about the attack on medical care 
being waged against those receiving the Missouri Blind Pension. When we 
initially drafted our legislative priorities, this was not a concern-it had 
not been proposed. When we arrived at the Capitol for our annual visit, the 
proposed cut had just been unveiled, and the members of the general assembly 
who knew about it were up in arms. How could anyone want to take from the 
blind, and how in the name of goodness and common decency could they want to 
take healthcare? "This will go nowhere," we were assured, but as the days 
and weeks went by, not only was the proposal not roundly defeated; it began 
to develop some momentum. Soon those speaking against it grew quiet and 
those speaking for it began to be heard. We rallied with the Governor, held 
a press conference, wrote and distributed press releases, and worked closely 
with the Missouri Council of the Blind to coordinate our opposition. The 
House wrote our medical care out of the law; the Senate, which had claimed 
to be the more deliberative and responsible body, proposed alternatives but 
in the end agreed with the House. What saved us was that the budget cut and 
its implementing rules could not be packaged into the general assembly's 
legislative appropriations. We were saved by a technical requirement that 
those seeking to drive a wedge between blind people and medical care didn't 
fully comprehend. An appropriation and its implementing legislation must be 
contained in separate bills.

Even though revenues for the state are up, again this year proposals to 
break the link between receipt of the Blind Pension and state medical care 
is being debated. Legislation this year would not sever the tie but would 
seek to means test it. Now the issue is less clear-in which government 
programs should means testing play a role? Is medical care for blind pension 
recipients one of these programs? Should our argument be to leave alone that 
which has been in existence for 45 years because it isn't broken; to argue 
that the reasons we were given medical care are just as valid today as they 
were in 1967; to argue that those who have come to rely on it, often by 
passing up other insurance when they were younger that is no longer 
affordable at their age and with their preexisting conditions, should be 
grandfathered? Or, taking a very different tack, should we concern ourselves 
with what a reasonable means test should be and leave our soldiers, our 
ammunition, and our ability to be effective advocates free to concentrate on 
other issues that confront us? This is one of the issues the governmental 
affairs committee, the board of directors, and each and every one of you as 
a part of this convention must help decide.

For many years the rehabilitation services that have been provided to blind 
Missourians have been funded by federal money purchased by the state. For 
every dollar the state is willing to put into programs to make the blind 
employable, nearly four dollars has been granted back to the state for the 
same purpose. The state money that has been used has come from surplus funds 
collected to support Missouri's blind pension. Declining property values, 
foreclosures, and perhaps other events of which we aren't aware have 
lessened the surplus in the fund, so this year the Department of Social 
Services has decided to seek funding for Rehabilitation Services for the 
Blind from general revenue-we will have to compete with every other state 
service that needs appropriations from the general fund. In our visit to 
Jefferson City no member of the legislature seemed surprised that the 
pension fund might not have a surplus, that we would be asking for money 
from general revenue, or doubted the money should, could, and would be 
appropriated. Then newspapers around the state began talking about the 
elimination of a state agency to help the blind and wondered in their 
editorials whether this was a deliberate slap at the Department of Social 
Services or a monumental oversight on the part of the House Budget 
Committee. The agency being eliminated was Rehabilitation Services for the 
Blind. Immediately, two members of our governmental affairs committee went 
to the Capitol. Shelia Wright and Gene Fleeman were told that the 2.5 
million dollars appropriated for services to the blind had looked to the 
committee like an administrative cost and that the committee was all for 
cutting unnecessary spending on administration. This was, they explained, a 
mistake on their part; no one wanted to eliminate the programs so necessary 
to the blind, and the money would immediately be placed back into the state 
appropriation. They were as good as their word, and RSB now appears in the 
House Appropriation. But we are reminded once again how important it is that 
we stay on top of the processes that make essential services available, that 
we follow the press coverage about state and federal appropriations even 
when at times they seem boring and repetitious, and that we remain ready to 
mobilize for action when things that threaten our independence are at stake.

Again this year an attack is being waged on that part of Missouri law which 
addresses discrimination in the workplace. Last year the House and Senate 
passed and sent to the governor legislation to restrict the 
nondiscrimination statutes that have long been a part of Missouri law. The 
governor vetoed the legislation, and the two bodies lacked the votes to 
overturn it. This year similar bills are proceeding through and easily 
passing both chambers for the third year in a row, but now Missouri's 
general assembly is clearly controlled by the Republicans, who traditionally 
have supported this legislation. The party now maintains a veto-proof 
majority. The question is whether this issue will unite enough of them to 
nullify the Governor's red pen.

Last year we chartered the National Federation of the Blind of Missouri Dog 
Guide Division. Julie McGinnity was elected its president. She and her board 
held a seminar in the fall, and it was one of the best I've ever attended. 
Discussions were cordial, but they were also spirited and lively. Those 
attending got to meet men and women who use a dog as their primary mobility 
tool, heard why they made the choice to get their special animals, and were 
told what advantages traveling with a dog has over traveling with a cane. 
They also heard from people who thought differently about the way they 
wanted to meet their travel needs, why they chose not to get a dog as a 
guide, and why they opted instead to get a cane. A free give-and-take 
occurred in which everyone agreed that any travel aid has its advantages and 
disadvantages, that these should be carefully weighed, and that anything 
that makes a blind person more likely to travel and interact with the rest 
of the world is beneficial and is encouraged without reservation by the 
National Federation of the Blind. Please join me in thanking our new 
division for its seminar, for its ongoing work to strengthen and build, and 
for its unswerving effort to see that blind people are as mobile as we can 

At our 50th convention we also chartered a new division for our parents of 
blind children. It, too, held a seminar this year, the focus of which was 
how to see that your child gets the most from his or her education through 
the Individualized Education Plan. Our division president is a lawyer whose 
practice focuses on these very issues. Chantel Alberhasky, together with 
Andrayah Shermer, a Children's Vision Specialist based in Springfield, ran a 
well-attended seminar, made some spectacular presentations, and gave 
participants a chance to ask the kinds of questions that can make all the 
difference in the education their children will receive. Please join me in 
congratulating the Missouri Association of Parents of Blind Children on this 
most commendable outreach and education program.

At the banquet we chartered our newly-formed student division. Shirley 
Grauel told us she would bring it into being. She had allies to help her, 
and she was as good as her word. Bethany Bennington was elected as the 
division's president, and this year the group is much in evidence. They have 
had a year of conference calls to build and organize. Their big challenge 
now is to take their message to campuses that haven't heard it and begin to 
sow seeds in newly fertile ground. Thank you students for your faith, your 
determination, and for what you will bring to us in the coming years.

As if all of these new groups weren't enough, we also reactivated the 
Diabetes Action Network. Diabetes is the leading cause of blindness in our 
country. Without the positive message we bring about how to deal with it, it 
not only robs people of their sight but also steals their independence and 
their belief they can continue to live on their own. The Diabetes Action 
Network not only changes lives but saves them. Congratulations to Debbie 
Wunder and Ruby Polk for again establishing this group. Please keep doing 
all that you can to share the message that there is life after diabetes and 
life after blindness.

In August the affiliate was proud to help the Jefferson City chapter with a 
membership seminar. Five people we had never seen before attended, and three 
of them chose to join and become actively involved. Some who came wanted to 
know where they could get services; some simply wanted a reason to believe 
service could make a difference in their lives. Thank you Rita Lynch for 
organizing this event, even as you dealt with your own painful loss of a 
soul mate and spouse and the family readjustment that might have immobilized 
so many of us.

Late in 2012 we sent four people to Seattle, Washington to tell Amazon there 
should be no Kindles in our classrooms until those units can serve the needs 
of blind people. When it comes to reading, we are not willing to be 
sidelined or treated as spectators. Apple products can talk and can work 
with refreshable Braille devices; Google products can also talk. The Nook 
from Barnes and Noble is making great strides in making its units 
accessible. It's unfortunate but completely legal if Amazon doesn't want to 
make the Kindle talk, but it can't do so and still expect acceptance by the 
public schools, where our blind children are educated and encouraged to take 
their place as normal, capable, and productive citizens. Gary Horchem, 
Debbie Wunder, Dan Flasar, and I made the trip to be with almost 100 other 
Federationists to send that message to Seattle's press, to newspapers around 
the country, and to National Public Radio, which featured it on its 
newscast. Our message to and about Amazon continues as we work to persuade 
those in parent teacher associations not to Kindle, school boards not to 
Kindle, and our state educators not to Kindle, but to develop standards 
consistent with the law as interpreted in the messages of the United States 
Department of Education and the Attorney General: that there shall be no 
technology in our schools that leaves out the blind.

Our affiliate held its first Mission Believe in the summer of 2008. We had 
eight families and many wonderful stories. We held it again in 2010. The 
number of families was disappointing, but the two who participated were 
encouraged and uplifted. In August of last year we held our third Mission 
Believe. This time we had five families, twelve participants, and eight 
staff members. You have heard from some of them already. I mention the 
program here because these weekends give me just a glimmer of what 
affiliates with rehabilitation centers must experience when they see the 
kind of transformative power that the interaction between blind adults, 
parents, and children can have in making the future a much brighter place.

After our dinner on Saturday evening students and staff went to the marina 
for some water play, some cooling off, and some relaxation. As I was 
navigating around a large floating trampoline in search of the ladder, a 
young lad grabbed hold of my arm and asked if he could come along. I smiled 
and said yes as we continued our way around this wobbly beast in search of a 
way to climb it. One of the sighted folks asked my little friend if he 
needed help. I wondered if he'd dump me for the younger person or hold on 
because he was talking to the affiliate president. He did neither. Instead, 
he said no thank you to the offer of help and confidently said, "I'm okay. 
I'm with Debbie Wunder's husband, so he can help me find the ladder." I 
think I was treated to a dose of what Debbie gets every day by being the 
president's wife. It was fun to help in this event without having any 
specific responsibilities, fun to be a worker rather than the boss, but it 
did make me wonder just how much more I could be referred to as Debbie 
Wunder's husband without protesting that I too have a name.

At the beginning of this year we traveled to Washington DC to participate in 
the annual Washington Seminar. You have seen our three legislative 
initiatives in the Braille Monitor, in the Blind Missourian, and have heard 
Fred discuss them. Let me only say here how much fun it was to watch as our 
group presented them to Congressmen, Senators, and Aides. Bethany Bennington 
knew the most about student issues, Dan Flasar felt most comfortable with 
technology and the TEACH proposal, Shelia Wright particularly enjoyed 
discussing the bill to get blind veterans their right to fly, and Debbie 
Wunder preferred filling in and reinforcing issues as our cleanup and 
summarize it person. But all of them could and did take on the lead argument 
for proposals outside their immediate comfort zone, with Bethany arguing for 
no longer exploiting the blind through the payment of subminimum wages, 
Shelia championing technology and TEACH, and Debbie taking the lead on 
securing the rights of blind veterans. All of us told our stories, but all 
of us were also able to tell the stories of others, a key ingredient in 
working collectively, in realizing that our immediate needs aren't the only 
ones to be met, and in acknowledging that our stories aren't always the most 
compelling or appropriate, even if they are the ones we know and feel the 
most comfortable telling. It was uplifting to be a part of such a wonderful 
team; please join me in thanking all of them.

You will hear more about it tomorrow, but this year we have started an at 
large chapter, one we hope will help us conquer the age-old problem of 
getting to blind people in areas where transportation is difficult or 
impossible or where the concentration of blind people we know is too small 
to form a local group. I want to thank Jerry Wilson for pushing us to do 
this, Chris Tisdal for keeping it before us until it got done, and Debbie 
Wunder for spearheading it and taking it on as part of her membership and 
public outreach activities.

This year we have had much for which to be grateful. When asked to come and 
help, many of you have responded. When asked to raise funds, many have gone 
to the public, to their friends and family, and sometimes to their own 
pockets to help us carry on our programs. As commendable and heart-warming 
as this is, we simply must figure out how to get more of our people who 
belong only in name to belong in spirit, and to bring those who know little 
or nothing about us into the fold. This challenge is not unique to us here 
in 2013. It was a primary challenge in 1940 and has always ranked near the 
top of Federation priorities, no matter the year. The fact that it is an 
ever-present need can't mean that we take it for granted or put it in last 

You have honored me for many years by allowing me to lead this organization, 
but all of us have to be looking for a new leader. Start thinking about who 
among you can not only do my job but can do it better, do it with more 
energy and enthusiasm, and do it while better unifying and invigorating our 
affiliate. Help me figure out my replacement while there is still a strong 
and healthy person to replace; help me figure out how to transition out of 
this job so that I can help someone new transition into it. Think about 
creative ways to draw people into our Federation and creative ways to make 
sure that once they have come, they start to feel and become involved. Help 
us dream up new programs; help us figure out how we will fund them; and come 
join those of us who are active in the arena as we strive to create a future 
of possibility that is even fuller for the blind of tomorrow than it is for 
those of us so richly blessed today.

Rita Lynch

By Carol Coulter

Rita was born and raised in the small town of Freeburg, Missouri. She was 
born at home because in those days the doctor came to the home, but on this 
occasion he was late and her dad had to deliver her. Rita said her dad told 
her it only cost him $5.00 for her birth because that was all that the 
doctor charged him for coming out. 
Rita was the third of eight children. She had one older sister and brother 
and three younger sisters and two younger brothers. Her parents were farmers 
who tried to make a living for the family on a 386 acre farm. It was mostly 
woods but enough farm land to keep them busy. 
Rita was born with a congenital eye defect called Annaredia, which she 
inherited from her mother. Although with this condition, one has a good deal 
of useable vision it makes one more susceptible to other eye conditions such 
as Glaucoma. Rita developed Glaucoma sometime in her early teens and by the 
time she was seen by an eye doctor it had taken a good deal of her sight. 
Rita attended grade school in Freeburg at Holy Catholic Family School and 
was taught by the Sisters of Notre Dame. For high school the students in 
Freeburg were bused ten miles to Fatima High School in Westphalia, Missouri. 
Rita told me about a time when she missed the bus. She had to pick up 
homework after school for her sick brother and one of the teachers kept 
talking to her and caused her to miss the bus. She was mad and upset and 
ended up walking to a nearby gas station to call home. She had to wait there 
while her mother went out into the fields to get her father so he could 
drive the ten miles to come pick her up. She said her dad wasn’t mad though. 
After high school graduation in May of 1968, Rita went to work at St. Mary’s 
Hospital. On September 29th, 1969, Rita met John for the first time. This 
happened to be his first day of work at St Mary’s. They were both 19 years 
old. John enlisted in the US Army and left on January 1st 1970. They waited 
to get married until he got back from Vietnam. They started their wonderful 
life together on February 5, 1972. The couple moved to Colorado because John 
was stationed at Fort Carson. 
They moved back to Missouri in late 1976 because jobs were hard to come by. 
John had an opportunity to work for the Department of Corrections and did so 
for a few years. They settled in the country near Westphalia and lived there 
for about five years. By then they had two of their three children, and 
Larry was born in 1979. Shortly after that John wanted to pursue his dream 
of truck driving. They moved to Jefferson City in June of 1981 so Rita could 
have access to some public transportation. 
Once all the children were in school full time, Rita decided she was ready 
to go back to work. By then her vision had deteriorated to the point of only 
having light perception. With just a high school education, Rita soon 
realized that she would have to be more competitive. In 1986, with the help 
of Rehabilitation Services for the Blind and much encouragement from her 
friends in the NFB, she took some classes in Office Technology at Nichols 
Career Center. Rita was hired as a receptionist/secretary in 1987 and worked 
for Metropolitan Publishing for five years. In 1992 she realized this 
company would be selling out to another company out of state so she began 
the job search again. In early 1983 Rita began part-time employment with RSB 
doing clerical work and started college at Lincoln University as a part-time 
student. “It took a while, but I got the degree which enabled me to apply 
for the position of Rehabilitation Teacher,” Rita said.

Rita’s interests revolve mostly around two things. The first is her family. 
John and Rita were blessed with three children: Theresa Marie, John Wayne, 
and Larry Thomas. Thanks to Theresa and her husband Mike, they also have 
three grandchildren: Derrek, Jenna, and Brookelynn. Her second interest is, 
of course, the National Federation of the Blind. “It has made a tremendous 
difference in my life and I want to give back by letting others know about 
this important organization,” Rita said. 
Rita lost John on November 28, 2011 as a result of service related ALS at 
the early age of sixty-one. “I miss him a great deal, but life goes on,” she 
said. “I am thankful for my faith, my family, and my friends, especially in 
the Federation. I am also thankful for my job that I enjoy as a 
Rehabilitation Teacher with Rehabilitation Services for the Blind. It gives 
me an opportunity to meet and help so many really interesting people. My 
goal is to make each day the very best that I can make it,” said Rita. 
I had the pleasure of sitting with Rita when she attended her first banquet 
at our state convention. She was quiet and shy, but now look at her out 
there spreading the word about the NFB and our philosophy.  Rita has served 
on the NFB state affiliate board, the Jefferson City Chapter board, and was 
the Governmental Affairs Committee Chair for many years. I would like to say 
thank you for being such a vital member and friend to all of us in the NFB. 
The National Federation of the Blind and Rehabilitation Services for the 
Blind are lucky to have such a dedicated member and employee.


By Dacia Luck

There were four resolutions and a constitutional amendment brought to the 
convention on April 13, 2013.  This article will give a brief overview of 
them.    The constitutional amendment will change the number of votes needed 
to expel a member from 2/3 to 3/5.  The amendment was approved. 
The first resolution, Resolution 2013-01 is regarding Rehabilitation 
Services for the Blind (RSB) and their need to consider both the positive 
and negative aspects of both counselor reports from rehabilitation centers 
and reports being given by their clients.  The resolution was approved. 
The second resolution, Resolution 2013-02 urges the Columbia Daily Tribune 
to consult with the National Federation of the Blind to see that its 
complete articles are available once again on NFB-NEWSLINE. Currently, only 
the first paragraph of the articles from the Tribune is available on 
Newsline. The resolution was approved. 
The third resolution, Resolution 2013-03 urges the Family Support Division, 
and the Department of Social Services to begin sending out letters and forms 
that their clients are required to complete in alternative formats.  The 
resolution is also requesting that the name of the form change so that each 
form clearly states what the client is submitting it for.  The resolution 
was approved.      The fourth and final resolution, Resolution 2013-04 is 
regarding the city of Springfield and the fact that Access Express is not 
readily available and accessible for people with disabilities.  The 
resolution was approved.

Resolution 2013-1

Regarding training center reports

          WHEREAS, when a client of Rehabilitation Services for the Blind 
attends a training center, reports are submitted to the agency by both the 
client and the training center; and

          WHEREAS, some clients are given the clear impression that the RSB 
staff gives full weight to the negatives in the training center report, 
while ignoring the positive aspects and giving no consideration to the 
report completed by the client: Now, therefore,

          BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind of Missouri 
in convention assembled this 13th day of April, 2013, in the city of 
Jefferson City, Missouri, that we urge RSB to review all parts of both 
reports thoroughly and assure clients that RSB recognize the positive as 
well as the negative in the reports.

Resolution 2013-2

Regarding trouble with the National Federation of the Blind NEWSLINE service 
for the Columbia Daily Tribune.

          WHEREAS, the NFB-NEWSLINE service has provided access through 
touchtone telephone service to the blind and print disabled for nearly 
twenty years; and

          WHEREAS, the Columbia Daily Tribune has participated by supplying 
their newspaper’s content for many years making it possible for blind and 
print disabled people in Mid-Missouri to be well informed; and

          WHEREAS, this Winter the Tribune changed its format, resulting in 
only the introduction to articles being available to NFB-NEWSLINE users, 
causing a major deprivation of news and information to these readers: Now, 

          BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind of Missouri 
in convention assembled this 13th day of April, 2013, in the city of 
Jefferson City, Missouri, that we urge the Editor and technical personnel at 
the Columbia Daily Tribune to consult with the staff of NFB-NEWSLINE to find 
a solution to these difficulties so that the Tribune can join the other 300 
publications in providing vital information as quickly as possible to its 
NEWSLINE readers.

Resolution 2013-3

Regarding Accessibility of Family Support Division materials and Annual 
Review Notice

          WHEREAS, the State of Missouri Family Support Division oversees 
both the Blind Pension and the Supplemental Aid to the Blind programs 
including determining both initial and continued eligibility; and

          WHEREAS, it is the consumer’s responsibility to respond timely to 
correspondence, including review forms, requests for information, and 
notices of case action; and

          WHEREAS, the notices are only produced in nine to twelve point 
type and not available electronically, in braille, or large print; and

          WHEREAS, regulations require that annual reviews be completed by 
recipients of these benefits and the FA-402 forms that the FAMIS computer 
system sends out are titled “Missouri HealthNet Eligibility Review”; the 
title causing great confusion among consumers who are not sure of what the 
purpose of the form is and has resulted in benefits being stopped for some 
consumers who did not realize that this form is the review form for the 
blind programs on which they rely; and

          WHEREAS, these notices and review forms are time sensitive and 
must be responded to in less than a week from the time the consumer actually 
receives them, and processing time by the agency is now more lengthy due to 
staffing reductions: Now, therefore,

          BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind of Missouri 
in convention assembled this 13th day of April, 2013, in the city of 
Jefferson City, Missouri, that The National Federation of the Blind of 
Missouri call on the  Department of Social Services and the Family Support 
Division to take steps to make correspondence  accessible to visually 
impaired and blind persons immediately, and that, until such steps can be 
taken to make forms and notices accessible, and that Eligibility Specialists 
and others issuing correspondence to consumers notify such consumers by 
telephone or electronic mail that a notice has been sent and the nature of 
the notice; and

          BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that we call on the Department of Social 
Services and the Family Support Division to change the title of the annual 
review form and make other necessary changes on the review to make it clear 
what program the form is for and its purpose; and

          BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that we call on the Americans with 
Disabilities Compliance officers within the Department of Social Services 
and the Office of Administration to make sure that consumers have full 
access to these notices and are therefore being provided with an equal 
opportunity to due process within agency programs.

Resolution 2013-4

Regarding Access Express in Springfield, Missouri

          WHEREAS, people with disabilities who qualify to ride Access 
Express in the city of Springfield, Missouri as of January 2013 can get only 
a one way ride to a location, but not a return trip on Access Express, even 
if scheduling a ride as far out as the maximum seven day deadline; and

          WHEREAS, people with disabilities who qualify to ride Access 
Express have a hard time scheduling rides Monday through Friday from 1:00 pm 
to 4:00 pm due to pick-ups from the sheltered workshop and Alternative 
Opportunities office; and

          WHEREAS, people with disabilities who qualify to ride Access 
Express are routinely given a return trip sixty to ninety minutes after the 
time requested; and

          WHEREAS, people with disabilities who qualify to ride Access 
Express when calling on nights and weekends to cancel a ride or ask where 
their ride is do not get a return phone call and apparently the driver is 
often not contacted by the supervisor; and

          WHEREAS, people with disabilities who qualify to ride Access 
Express no longer have an assigned individual to call to voice complaints or 
problems to and in any other way to correspond with, and are not called back 
by a supervisor when they leave messages: Now, therefore,

          BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind of Missouri 
in convention assembled this 13th day of April, 2013, in the city of 
Jefferson City, Missouri, that the National Federation of the Blind urge the 
Springfield Chapter of the NFB and the NFB of Missouri to consult on and 
mediate conversations and meetings between people with disabilities, City 
Utilities, and City Council on making Access Express more available, 
effective, responsive and efficient to people with disabilities.


By Eugene Coulter

If you are not using NFB-NEWSLINE, you do not know what you are missing. The 
service includes hundreds of newspapers, dozens of magazines, information of 
interest to the blind, local detailed weather forecasts, television 
listings, and much more. The service is accessible from your Email, IPhone, 
and your touchtone telephone. 
In Missouri the service is provided by the National Federation of the Blind 
and sponsored by Wolfner Memorial Library for the Blind. To sign up for 
NFB-NEWSLINE contact Wolfner at 1-800-392-2614. 
Once one is signed up, the service is easy to access through the toll free 
number at 1-888-882-1629. However, it is strongly recommended that users 
call local access numbers whenever possible to reduce cost so the program 
may flourish. In Kansas City and St. Louis there are local numbers to call 
at no cost to the caller. They are:

Saint Louis: 314-558-1243

Kansas City, Missouri: 816-278-1241

Kansas City, Kansas 913-904-0220

In addition, if a person lives outside of the two big cities and you either 
have flat rate long distance on your home phone or a cellular phone with 
enough usable minutes, you can call any of the three numbers listed above 
and help to control costs that way. If we all do our part, we can assure 
that the service will be around for years to come.

Amazon Kindle:
Is It Coming to a School Near You?

by Mehgan Sidhu and Valerie Yingling

Editor’s note: The following article is reprinted from Future Reflections 
Special issue on Advocacy, volume 32 number 2.

>From the Editor: As many Future Reflections readers are aware, the National 
Federation of the Blind works to ensure that blind students have equal 
access to educational materials used in the classroom. The deluge of new 
electronic platforms for presenting information to students has brought us 
an array of challenges. In this article, NFB legal counsel Mehgan Sidhu and 
paralegal Valerie Yingling explain how families can help make sure that 
books using Amazon's Whispercast program are made accessible to blind 
students and others with print disabilities.

Is your child's school planning to implement Whispercast? If so, the NFB 
wants to hear from you.

Amazon is increasingly marketing its inaccessible Kindle ebooks and 
Whispercast program to the public schools. As schools adopt Amazon's 
products and services, they create educational disadvantages for students 
who are blind or print-disabled, impeding their ability to engage in the 
assigned curriculum. This practice is discriminatory and illegal, and it 
poses significant harm to the education of blind children.

What Is Whispercast?

In October 2012, Amazon announced the release of Whispercast, a free online 
program designed to streamline the process of purchasing and distributing 
Kindle content in schools and workplaces. Whispercast allows teachers to 
distribute Kindle content wirelessly to students' ereading devices while 
monitoring and managing their device settings, including Internet access and 
website filters. The content can be distributed en masse to an entire 
classroom or grade level, or it can be distributed individually for 
differentiated instruction.

The use of Whispercast is not limited to Kindle devices. Amazon advertises 
the program as highly compatible with Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) programs. 
Free Kindle apps are available for personal computers, Apple and Android 
smartphones and tablets, and other devices. As schools prepare for the 
2013-2014 school year by assessing student needs and available funding 
levels, school administrators may understandably believe that implementing 
Whispercast through a BYOD program is a solution for budget shortfalls.

Amazon is aggressively marketing its products to schools. The company is 
promoting the millions of books and other materials it offers as ways for 
students to access the Core Curriculum and to become enthusiastic about 
reading. Amazon advertises the Kindle's interactive dictionary and 
encyclopedia, as well as its highlighting, note-taking, and bookmarking 
features, as ways for students to engage with their texts to bolster 
comprehension. We anticipate that in response to Amazon's marketing and the 
increasing pressure schools face to shift to digital materials for their 
cost savings and other benefits, we may see many schools adopting Kindle 
ebooks and Whispercast in the upcoming school year.

Are Kindle Ebooks Accessible?

Emerging technology can be a wonderful thing, but only when it is 
accessible. Unfortunately, Amazon's Kindle e-books are inaccessible in 
critical respects to individuals who are blind. The best access Amazon 
offers, using a Kindle Keyboard (also called Kindle 3G) or using the Kindle 
for PC with Accessibility Plugin to read Kindle ebooks, leaves blind 
students woefully behind their sighted classmates. When reading Kindle 
ebooks on these platforms, for example, blind students cannot navigate 
through text character by character or word by word. The lack of these 
features greatly interferes with students' ability to learn and generalize 
phonetic awareness, grammar, and sentence structure. Students who are blind 
cannot access Kindle's touted interactive features, including the built-in 
dictionary, encyclopedia, and the highlighting and note-taking features. 
Thereby they are hindered in their ability to comprehend texts and 
assignments. When using Kindle ebooks, blind students cannot navigate the 
table of contents, locate specific text, or bookmark passages, increasing 
the possibility that they will not be able to complete in-class assignments 
or follow a teacher's lectures. In addition, Kindle ebooks are not 
compatible with refreshable Braille displays. All of these features, in 
contrast, are available on Blio and iBooks, and are fully accessible to 
blind students.

When schools implement inaccessible technology such as Whispercast, their 
actions constitute discrimination under the Americans with Disabilities Act 
of 1990 (ADA) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Section 
504). Public entities such as schools cannot deny individuals with 
disabilities the benefits of services and programs granted to those without 
disabilities. Furthermore, schools that receive federal funds cannot deliver 
to individuals with disabilities any benefits or services that are inferior 
to those provided to students without disabilities. The U.S. Departments of 
Justice and Education have made clear that when schools adopt inaccessible 
ebook technology they are violating federal law. They have mandated that 
schools refrain from implementing emerging technology that is not accessible 
to students who are blind or print disabled.

What Is the NFB Doing to Address This Problem, and What Can You Do to Help?

For years the NFB has been a strong advocate for fully and equally 
accessible ebooks, including Amazon's Kindle ebooks and devices. In December 
2012 the NFB sponsored a letter-writing campaign, requesting that parents 
and children write to Amazon's founder and CEO, Jeffrey Bezos, describing 
the impact that inaccessible Kindle content has had on their educational 
experience. The NFB's campaign culminated in a protest at Amazon 
headquarters in Seattle, Washington. Federationists delivered the letters to 
Amazon staff members and publicly protested Amazon's insufficient response 
to the requests of blind students and blind consumers for accessibility.

Advocacy efforts continued in March 2013, when NFB President Marc Maurer 
wrote to the Departments of Education in all fifty states, Puerto Rico, and 
the District of Columbia to advise them that the implementation of 
Whispercast in their schools puts blind students at a significant 
disadvantage and constitutes discrimination under the ADA and Section 504. 
Dr. Maurer also wrote to the National PTA in response to its announcement of 
Amazon as sole sponsor of the National PTA's Family Reading Experience 
program. His letter explained that by partnering with Amazon to distribute 
Kindle devices and ebooks to low-income and at-risk schools, the National 
PTA not only assists schools in violating federal law, but also excludes 
blind students from fully participating in and benefiting from the Common 
Core state standards it stalwartly promotes.

Our work, however, is not over. Amazon continues to market Whispercast and 
Kindle ebooks to schools. Currently the NFB is tracking school systems that 
have chosen to implement or are considering the implementation of 
Whispercast or of Kindle ebooks. As parents and educators of blind children, 
your assistance and advocacy will be invaluable to ensure that blind 
children have equal access to ebooks at school.

If you would like to take action, here are some suggestions:

  a.. Find out whether your school is implementing or considering the 
implementation of Whispercast or of Kindle ebooks.
  b.. Educate your school district's administrators, teachers, and 
Parent-Teacher Association (PTA) about the importance of ebook 
accessibility. Be prepared to explain why accessibility is critical, why it 
is important to ensure during the procurement phase that technology is 
accessible, and that accessible technology is required under the law. 
Provide your school and school district with the chart, Dear Colleague 
Letters, letter to the National PTA, and letter to your state's Department 
of Education, all linked to the website listed below.
  c.. If you learn that your school or school district uses or is planning 
to use Whispercast or Kindle content, either through Kindle devices or a 
BYOD program, please contact Valerie Yingling, paralegal at the NFB, at 
vyingling at nfb.org or (410) 659-9314, Ext. 2440.
For more information about the inaccessibility of Kindle ebooks and 
Whispercast, please visit <https://nfb.org/Kindle-books>.



I pledge to participate actively in the effort 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 

Board of Directors

National Federation of the Blind of Missouri


Gary Wunder, President                               Julie McGinnity, 
Recording Secretary

Shelia Wright, First Vice President                Dacia Luck, Corresponding 

Ruby Polk, Second Vice President                Carol Coulter, Treasurer

Board Members:

Eugene Coulter                                               Gene Fleeman

Gary Horchem                                              Dan Flasar

Chris Tisdal                                                 Bob Williams

Chapter Presidents

Dacia Luck, Columbia                                     Helen Parker, South 

Rita Lynch, Jefferson City                               Gary Horchem, 

Ruby Polk, Kansas City                                  Bryan Schulz, St. 

Chris Tisdal, Lewis and Clark

Blind Missourian Editor Carol Coulter

Proof Readers Helen Stevens

                      Shelia Wright

                        Gary Wunder


NFB of Missouri
1504 Furlong Dr.

Columbia, MO  65202

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