peduffy63 at gmail.com
Fri Oct 9 15:04:55 UTC 2015
If I let you have a copy of this newsletter, you might actually come to the convention or something. We can’t have that
National Federation of the Blind Ohio
A publication of the National Federation of the Blind of Ohio
Barbara Pierce, Editor
198 Kendal Drive
Oberlin, OH 44074
barbara.pierce9366 at gmail.com <mailto:barbara.pierce9366 at gmail.com> <mailto:barbara.pierce9366 at gmail.com <mailto:barbara.pierce9366 at gmail.com>>
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Eric Duffy, President
(614) 935-6965 (NFB-O Office)
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P.O. Box 82055, Columbus, OH 43202
The National Federation of the Blind knows that blindness is not the characteristic that defines you or your future. Every day we raise expectations, because low expectations create obstacles between blind people and our dreams. Live the life you want. Blindness is not what holds you back.
The National Federation of the Blind of Ohio is a 501 (c) 3 consumer organization comprised of blind and sighted people committed to changing what it means to be blind. Though blindness is still all too often a tragedy to those who face it, we know from our personal experience that with training and opportunity it can be reduced to the level of a physical nuisance. We work to see that blind people receive the services and training to which they are entitled and that parents of blind children receive the advice and support they need to help their youngsters grow up to be happy, productive adults. We believe that first-class citizenship means that people have both rights and responsibilities, and we are determined to see that blind people become first-class citizens of these United States, enjoying their rights and fulfilling their responsibilities. The most serious problems we face have less to do with our lack of vision than with discrimination based on the public's ignorance and misinformation about blindness. Join us in educating Ohioans about the abilities and aspirations of Ohio's blind citizens. We are changing what it means to be blind.
The NFB of Ohio has eight local chapters, one for at-large members, and special divisions for diabetics, merchants, students, seniors, guide dog users, and those interested in Braille. This newsletter appears three times a year and is circulated by email and posted on NFB-NEWSLINE®, our digitized newspaper-reading service by phone and can be read or downloaded from our website, www.nfbohio.org <http://www.nfbohio.org/><http://www.nfbohio.org/ <http://www.nfbohio.org/>>. For information about the National Federation of the Blind of Ohio or to make address changes or be added to the mailing list, call (440) 774-8077 or email barbara.pierce9366 at gmail.com <mailto:barbara.pierce9366 at gmail.com> <mailto:barbara.pierce9366 at gmail.com <mailto:barbara.pierce9366 at gmail.com>>. For information about NFB-NEWSLINE, our free digitized newspaper-reading service, call (866) 504-7300. Local NEWSLINE numbers are 330-247-1241 (Akron), 330-409-1900 (Canton), 513-297-1521 (Cincinnati), 216-453-2090 (Cleveland), and 614-448-1673 (Columbus).
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Table of Contents
From the President's Desk
by Eric Duffy
by Barbara Pierce
The State Convention: You Don't Want to Miss It
by Sheri Albers
Introduction to the DoubleTree
by Barbara Pierce
Disabilities Act Was Drafted with Uncanny Foresight
by Deborah Kendrick
BELL Rings Again in Ohio
by Marianne Denning and Debora Baker
A Parent's View of BELL
by Molly Taylor
Hospitality Suite Buckeye Style
by Sheri Albers
by Rachel Kuntz
Nashville by Way of the NFB Bid for Equality
by Sherry Ruth
2015 NFB of Ohio Scholarship Winners
by Deborah Kendrick
The Catching Fire Seminar
by Suzanne Turner
The NFB Goes to the Movies
by Barbara Pierce
Changing the World One Student at a Time
by Marianne Denning
Barb Fohl Dies
by Debora Baker
Jacobus tenBroek Legacy Society
The KNFB Reader
From the President's Desk
by Eric Duffy
Those of you who know me at all probably know I am an Elvis fan. You probably also know I like to sing karaoke every now and then. It might not surprise you to learn that I very often sing Elvis songs. One of the songs I sing is called "In the Ghetto." It begins something like this: "On a cold and gray Chicago morn/ Another little baby child is born/ In the ghetto."
I think of that song because it really was a cold and gray Columbus morning when I went to a meeting sponsored by Disability Rights Ohio to discuss the proposed state budget and the effect it might have on people with disabilities. The idea that Ohio needs a State Rehabilitation Council (SRC) to advise the Opportunities for Ohioans with Disabilities Agency (OOD) was not exactly born on that cold and gray Columbus morn. It is an idea that has been discussed for a long time, but it is one that began to take serious shape that day.
Within a week or two of that meeting, I convened a special meeting of the Board of Directors of the National Federation of the Blind of Ohio to discuss whether or not we should support the idea of creating a State Rehabilitation Council in Ohio, and, if so, whether we should take the lead in making it happen. The answer to both questions, we decided, was yes. So in mid March I began to build a single-focus coalition whose purpose is to bring about the creation of a state Rehabilitation Council. We believe that an SRC will give people with disabilities a broader representation in conducting OOD's business and a stronger voice than does the current OOD Commission.
Brief Notes about a State Rehabilitation Council
Ohio has the opportunity to enhance the ability of Ohioans with disabilities actually to participate in the provision of vocational rehabilitation (VR) services by OOD. Currently OOD is nominally run by a Commission with seven members, when all appointments are made, and also has a Consumer Advisory Committee. Changes in federal law have caused almost all other states to create State Rehabilitation Councils that advise the VR agencies (OOD in Ohio). An SRC would be able to advise OOD and provide a significant voice for people with disabilities, not just by providing feedback, but also by actually commenting on and affecting policies and procedures that the VR agency uses in the delivery of services. The Commission and CAC, as they now exist, each perform some but not all of the functions of an SRC. As a result disabled people often find it difficult for them to get information or have meaningful influence in how OOD helps people with disabilities. The SRC proposal would change that.
Under federal law there would be at least fifteen members on the SRC, all appointed by the governor. The governor has to consider input from people with disabilities and organizations interested in them, and he must consider the inclusion of minority populations. This could result in more members with disabilities than the Commission and CAC currently have, allowing room for disability and geographic diversity to grow. The law also provides categories for members of the SRC to ensure that a variety of viewpoints are represented and that OOD can get more input from the SRC than it does from the current Commission or the CAC.
In a new opportunity for Ohio, business would be represented on the SRC. The stipulated categories ensure that four members represent business and industry, delivering their viewpoint. OOD has developed valuable business relationships, and this is a way to expand those relationships to aid people with disabilities.
The Statewide Independent Living Council, the Client Assistance Program, the Workforce Investment Board, a parent training and information center, and the state Department of Education would also be represented, along with other disability-related entities. A qualified VR counselor with experience in VR field work must be a member, to ensure that experience in the actual provision of services is present, as well as the OOD director or his designee as a non-voting member to represent OOD itself. With these groups the SRC brings a wide spectrum of ideas to the table and also ensures that what the SRC (and OOD) does is accessible to everyone.
People with disabilities who do not work for OOD, representing a cross section of disabilities and including those who have difficulty representing themselves, must make up a majority of the members of the SRC. This ensures the SRC is a voice for disabled people and their organizations in the most direct way possible-to ensure that, even if there are differences of opinion, the overall SRC provides representative input for OOD.
The proposed SRC will consolidate the Commission and the CAC as they now exist, allowing for organizational efficiencies but also ensuring that input of the type those groups provide is present in the composition of the SRC and shared with OOD. The SRC approach allows OOD to enhance its ability to gather more types of input from more people with disabilities and more groups with interest in the provision of VR services.
The process of establishing the SRC allows people with disabilities to establish contact with the governor's office and General Assembly and promotes their broader engagement in public policy discussions. We have had a lot of support as we moved forward with the idea of creating an SRC, and I believe we are going to make positive changes for people with disabilities in Ohio. I especially want to thank OOD Director Kevin Miller for his willingness to discuss this idea openly and help us make progress.
In the months ahead I am certain we will call you to action. We may ask you to make phone calls, write letters, or both. I know that, when the call comes, we will be able to count on you. That's how it is in the National Federation of the Blind of Ohio.
by Barbara Pierce
One of my many NFB responsibilities is being the legislative director for Ohio. It's my job to urge everyone to contact state and federal senators and representatives when we are interested in legislation. I also take an active part in our annual Washington Seminar.
Every late January a group from Ohio travels to Washington to meet with our members of Congress or their aides to discuss about three legislative priorities. We try to get this done in a day or a day and a half. It is pretty intensive work, and it requires a lot of walking and careful discussions with Washington insiders. This year we will gather with Federationists from across the United States for the legislative preparation and general briefing known as the Great Gathering-in on Monday, January 25. We go to Capitol Hill on Tuesday, and Wednesday if we don't get done on Tuesday. Then we fly home.
The deadline for expressing interest in participating in this activity is December 1. We try to draw a group from across the state, including representatives from as many congressional districts as possible. We divide into several groups who travel around the Hill together and meet with staff members from several offices. We are always interested in bringing along new people to this event. If you have an interest in federal politics and national policy concerning blindness, if you have the stamina to walk on marble floors for a day or two, and if you can find a way to fund your trip at least in part, please let Eric Duffy or me know about your interest before December 1. As for the financial issue, sometimes chapters can help with funding. Sometimes local civic organizations are willing to help. It doesn't have to be funding out of your own pocket. Try to find funding and be prepared to share a room with two or three other Ohioans. We conduct this event as economically as possible.
I have been going to Washington for years. I think 2016 will be my fortieth Washington Seminar. I would be happy to be replaced, so let us know if you are interested. The Washington Seminar is about as much fun as hard work ever gets.
The State Convention: You Don't Want to Miss It
by Sheri Albers
Editor's note: Sheri Albers chairs the Convention Arrangements Committee. Remember that hotel rooms will be held for us until October 29. After that date there is no guarantee that you will get our very good convention rates, so make your reservation today. At the end of this newsletter you will find the reservation form. This is the way to order meals and pay your reservation fee. Please note that, to receive pre-reservation savings, which are considerable, your form must be completed and your fees paid by November 12. Registration this year is solely online. You can use the form in this newsletter or go onto our website, http://nfbohio.org/conventionregistration.html <http://nfbohio.org/conventionregistration.html> <http://r20.rs6.net/tn.jsp?f=001Y7LKMZ3u_s8c1-Z3r5XcWn7sI4b073ZwbN0HT8gxjSYu5ojZk9hwM9XgpGLii0IMoZzLXj91MYWcO0l3ZIJ8U8oMTu6e8OpGdAr53oODf_zy3w6013Fq2UiEfzuBZxcQ6N-kGA2hXcFaYz-EgbBl7jSf2irDE7hf-j4JddtyrQItFT0qe4hAhaWpjGKwsB8AP6toMhGpRSc=&c=M8CGUOWLAbDQUjgouYBjEU4TlMa9Fnl6anUnMPvIjuXzK1aHvTVElQ==&ch=M1nbeQ7PYbSDZ48KNmwOFzwmlxGVH8QLIUlTxEK6KtH-mwRG03ldKQ== <http://r20.rs6.net/tn.jsp?f=001Y7LKMZ3u_s8c1-Z3r5XcWn7sI4b073ZwbN0HT8gxjSYu5ojZk9hwM9XgpGLii0IMoZzLXj91MYWcO0l3ZIJ8U8oMTu6e8OpGdAr53oODf_zy3w6013Fq2UiEfzuBZxcQ6N-kGA2hXcFaYz-EgbBl7jSf2irDE7hf-j4JddtyrQItFT0qe4hAhaWpjGKwsB8AP6toMhGpRSc=&c=M8CGUOWLAbDQUjgouYBjEU4TlMa9Fnl6anUnMPvIjuXzK1aHvTVElQ==&ch=M1nbeQ7PYbSDZ48KNmwOFzwmlxGVH8QLIUlTxEK6KtH-mwRG03ldKQ==>>, to find the form and the PayPal button. Here is what Sheri has to say about our upcoming convention:
Mark your calendars. This year's Ohio state affiliate convention will be held Thursday, November 19, through Sunday, November 22, 2015. We will be traveling to the northeast part of the state to Independence, Ohio. Our home for the weekend will be the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel, 6200 Quarry Lane, Independence, Ohio 44131, phone, (216) 447-1300. Room rates are $89 per night plus tax. Our block of rooms will be released on October 29. Please make your reservations now. Be sure to let the hotel know if you need an accessible room or have any other special requirements related to your room.
Richard Payne and the membership committee want to help you find a roommate if you need help. Please email him at rchpay7 at gmail.com <mailto:rchpay7 at gmail.com> <mailto:rchpay7 at gmail.com <mailto:rchpay7 at gmail.com>> or call (937) 829-3368. He wants to hear from you by November 1. We are privileged to have as our National Representative Pam Allen, director of the Louisiana Center for the Blind.
We will begin the convention with the Board of Directors meeting on Thursday night, beginning promptly at 7:30 PM. Remember that this is an open meeting for all members of the Federation and their guests to attend, not just the board members. This is the one meeting of the entire weekend that you will get a chance to see and hear from your elected board, discussing pertinent issues that directly affect all of us as an affiliate, as well as learning what activities are happening around the state. We strongly recommend that at least one representative from each chapter be present at this meeting to be able to bring a report home to share with those who were not able to attend.
Friday will be the fun day of workshops and concurrent sessions from which members will be able to choose topics of interest. These will include technology, Braille, and orientation and mobility. We are planning on having several exhibitors available all day for demonstration and sale of high-tech and low-tech products for blind and visually impaired users. After dinner on your own, we will have the usual Nominations and Resolutions Committee meetings as well as a meeting of the At-Large Chapter and the Ohio Association of Blind Merchants. Our NAPUB division plans to entertain us later that evening with one of their wonderful productions. Tickets will be $5 at the door. This is an event you will surely not want to miss as you show your support for Braille. Of course we will also have hospitality in Room 121, the hospitality suite.
Saturday is general session day in true NFB style. Get a good rest the night before, because we have a full agenda in store for you. We will begin with a breakfast meeting of NAPUB, so, if you care about Braille, be sure to sign up for that breakfast. Elections are this year; come and take part in history. The gavel will fall on the opening general session promptly at 9:00 AM. We will have a series of speakers covering a wide range of topics including a report from our national rep, rehabilitation services in Ohio and effective rehabilitation, library services, transportation services, legislation, health and wellness, and a few surprises in the mix. Of course one of the highlights will be a speech from one of our own members entitled "Why I Am a Federationist." We will have a lunch break from 12 noon to 2 PM for division meetings. Boxed lunches will be available for purchase for meeting attendees or those who just don't want to face the long waits in the dining room. The students will have a pizza gathering.
General session will convene again promptly at 2:00 PM and run until 5 PM. We will then get a break to get refreshed, take a power-nap, and get ready for the banquet. This is always the highlight of the convention. We will get a chance to have fellowship and share a meal together. Our guest speaker will be our national representative, Pam Allen. We will then have our awards ceremony to celebrate chapter and individual accomplishments from the past year. But wait, the evening is not over yet. Have an extra cup of coffee with dessert. We will have a band for your listening/dancing pleasure after the banquet.
Sunday is the day we relax a little and reflect on the past few days and think about where we are going in the future. We will begin with a leadership breakfast for chapter presidents and treasurers at 7:30 Sunday morning. During the morning session we will have a number of informal discussions on NFB history and philosophy. We will also elect at-large members of the board. Our Convention Planning Committee, chaired by our president, Eric Duffy, is committed to making this a rewarding experience for each one of you. Our goal is to do our best to bring you the most up-to-date information on the most important issues facing blind people in the state of Ohio today. As chair of convention arrangements, I will make sure that the hotel facility, which includes staff, accommodations, guide dog relief areas, meeting rooms, dining areas, and common areas are as blind-friendly as possible and that your convention experience is as positive as it can be. My name is Sheri Albers, and my phone number is (513) 886-8697. I will be the one you call if you encounter any problems at convention.
Introduction to the DoubleTree
by Barbara Pierce
As you now know, this year's convention will take place November 19 to 22 at the DoubleTree by Hilton in Independence. This is a lovely facility with delicious food. The entrance is on the north side of the hotel, which means that you are facing south as you enter. If you step forward a few feet, the registration desk will be on the right (west) side of the lobby. Seating groups of furniture are in the center of the lobby, and Shula's Restaurant and Bar is located on the east wall. You pass through the bar before reaching restaurant seating. Wait in the bar to be seated.
After checking in, continue walking south. You will notice a corridor turning west (right). This leads to the sleeping rooms and the elevators to the upper floors. As you walk down this hall, west, you will pass on your right first the Directors Room and then the Boardroom. These are small meeting rooms, and they are close to the lobby end of the hall. This corridor dead ends into an exit with grass outside it. This is the dog relief area, and a trash receptacle will be located outside the door for your convenience. Back in the hallway turn left at that door (south) to reach sleeping rooms and the elevator; both of these are found on the left side of the hallway only. At the south end of the hall you can turn right to find Room 121, our hospitality room, or left (east) to walk along a hall that connects with the south end of the foyer area outside the ballrooms, which are also our principal breakout rooms.
Returning to the lobby just before the right turn to pass the Directors Room and Boardroom, you can also angle forty-five degrees to the left in a corridor that passes the access to the indoor and outdoor swimming pools and the business center on the right. This hall opens into the ballroom area. There are two ballrooms, both on the left side. The first is the Grand Ballroom with division rooms 1, 2, and 3 going south. Next is a carpeted hall to the left (east) which gives access on the right side to Petit Ballrooms A and B. Rooms C, D, and E lie to the south of these two smaller rooms. Note that the only access to rooms A and B is from the cross hall. There are restrooms in the foyer on the east side before the ballrooms and also around the hallways near the elevators.
That's it. Read through this article several times, pausing after reading each new element to build a map in your head. If you take time to do this, you will sail through the convention with no problems. All rooms are marked in Braille and raised print in the standard locations. Happy travels.
Disabilities Act Was Drafted with Uncanny Foresight
by Deborah Kendrick
Editor's note: The following column appeared in the Columbus Dispatch on July 26, 2015, the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Deborah Kendrick is president of the Cincinnati chapter of the NFB of Ohio and a member of the NFB of Ohio Board of Directors. This is what she said:
From coast to coast, in cities large and small, in state capitols and campus conference centers, Americans are celebrating the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act today. I'm celebrating too (although tangible plans made long ago have me in a remote location with a few friends, who either don't know much about this birthday or celebrate another one because they are from the United Kingdom). Like any elder reflecting on a given commemorative date, I've been thinking about this day for a long time, and my reflections are fragmented at best.
First, there's the sparkling memory of the signing ceremony itself. I received two invitations, actually. I made the advocates list by virtue of involvement with a number of grass-roots disability-rights organizations. More thrilling by far, however, was that I made the journalists list. For four years already by July 1990, I had been writing a weekly column on disability rights. Far from being deemed a respectable beat, disability didn't even make the daily papers much in those days, aside from the sugary heart-wrenching tales of inspiration that regrettably are still alive and well in our media.
I was trying to do something else, something a bit more substantive and tough-minded, and I believe that every once in a while I succeeded. Convincing my editor at the time that the event was sufficiently newsworthy to warrant my covering it was no small feat. The publisher, however, thought I should go. And so I did. And sent back a page-one story. The images vie for center stage in my brain. The gorgeous weather, the palpable energy, the deliciously merged swarm of people with their crutches and canes and wheelchairs, hands flying through the air with American Sign Language, guide dogs sneaking a sniff from a canine colleague under one of the folding chairs.
As President George H.W. Bush spoke of that wall that needed to tumble down, the joy in that crowd on the White House South Lawn was such that it would have surprised none of us had someone begun to fly. The air was redolent with hope and promise and a future shining with true equality for everyone. As euphoric as the occasion was, however, I think now that I really saw it as a gift to my friends who used wheelchairs and scooters. Other than the occasional miscreant who thought my lack of physical eyesight translated as an inability to enjoy or have a right to enjoy the simplest of pleasures, my own life seemed pretty standard issue. I had a job, a young family, a niche in my church and neighborhood. Laws in every state already allowed my guide dog entrance to public transport and facilities. We didn't have the Internet yet, and my then state-of-the-art technology gave me access to various information databases and facilitated transmission of email messages and other data via phone lines. There were a few audible traffic signals being installed here and there, and, if movies were too visually complex to follow audibly, we were used to poking our friends or family in the ribs with incessant variations of "Hey! What's happening?" Of course, there was no Braille signage on hotel rooms, offices, or elevators, and, yes, that led to more than one "funny" story involving entering the wrong restroom or sleeping space. But the issues seemed less insurmountable than being excluded from a building altogether due to imposing stairways.
What was most thrilling that day was the spirit of the ADA-the president of the United States saying that none of us should be excluded from what it means to be an American, that attitudes needed to change. Discrimination from my perspective came in the form of a ticket attendant at the Cherokee museum who wouldn't accept my admission money because I couldn't see the exhibits or the server who thought my four-year-old should pour my coffee. And it took a delicious turn that July 26 afternoon when a fellow journalist tried to hide his astonishment that I was queued up to get the same quotes he was, rather than as a grateful supplicant. Of course, the foresight written into the law, which made it apply to technological components not yet conceived, is what renders the ADA to people of all mental and physical differences an essential passport to equality in America. Today, accessing a website with needed information is as critical as entering any brick-and-mortar building, and without laws many of us would have no hope of traveling those paths. Today, movies are so complex that, without captioning and audio description, those of us with vision or hearing disabilities would be completely left out of this component of our culture.
The ADA, hailed then as the most comprehensive piece of civil-rights legislation since 1964, was no panacea, but its promise was dazzling. We have a long way to go. I still encounter doubt and disbelief in the company of strangers, people who see me as less-than because I have a disability. I still encounter web sites, touch kiosks, and intersections I can't navigate. But the promise of the law is alive and well. I celebrate the passage of the ADA, and I celebrate its twenty-fifth birthday. With greater anticipation, however, I celebrate the promise of inclusion yet to come.
Deborah Kendrick is a Cincinnati writer and advocate for people with disabilities.
BELL Rings Again in Ohio
by Marianne Denning and Debora Baker
Editor's note: Marianne Denning and Debbie Baker were the instructors in our third Braille Enrichment for Literacy and Learning (BELL) Program this past summer. Here is their report on this year's program:
The NFB of Ohio held the third BELL Camp at OSSB during June of 2015. We had seven students between the ages of four and twelve and nine staff for the entire camp. We included activities from the five major skills categories of the BELL curriculum (nonvisual, blindness, Braille reading, Braille writing, and group). We had one field trip, O&M instruction provided by an O&M student in the OSU program, and assistive technology.
January 4, 2016, will be the date when we make the transition from the English Braille code to Unified English Braille (UEB). It is critical that our campers be prepared for this change. We discussed the upcoming changes and composed sentences that included the changes in the code. Our campers did not have any trouble reading the new code. We suspect that adults may struggle more with the code than our campers will.
This year we used three cafeterias as classrooms. Each cafeteria had four doors, two of which had cane holders by them. Campers were constantly losing their canes because they could not remember the number of the cafeteria or the door where they left their canes. They, like many blind people of all ages, were used to sighted people finding anything that they had lost. Barbara Pierce and Marianne Denning invented a mobility lesson to orient all of the campers to the layout of the rooms. After that we were happy to discover that they were more likely to remember where they had placed their canes.
This summer we were pleased to have an O&M intern from OSU who worked with the students individually. She completed an assessment on each student and wrote some goals their school districts or the Ohio State School for the Blind could incorporate into the IEP during the 2015-16 school year. One afternoon the intern worked with the students to make purchases at Target. Aleeha Dudley accompanied each student to Target using Uber. She did have some challenges with Uber drivers refusing to take her and her guide dog, and the students had questions about the discrimination they observed first-hand. Each student had $10 to spend in the store. The student worked with the O&M instructor and Aleeha to use blindness skills to negotiate the store, pick out items to purchase, and swipe a credit/debit card to make their purchases.
This year for the first time the campers spent time working with technology. Abby Bolling and Aleeha Dudley assessed typing skills. Sadly, many blind students are not introduced to a computer until third grade. We used Typability and Talking Typing Teacher with the students. The campers also baked cookies one day. They had to go to the website Directionsforme.org <http://directionsforme.org/> <http://directionsforme.org/ <http://directionsforme.org/>> to search for and read the directions for the cookie mix. The cookies were excellent.
We worked on tactile graphics again this year. We had maps of the Midwestern part of the U.S. that we used to teach them beginning map reading. They also drew with the In-Tact drawing board, described and discussed in the Braille Monitor by NFB leader Al Maneki. Tactile graphics are very important in education today, especially considering visually based assessment requirements for k-12 students.
Sudoku is a very popular game and can be adapted for Braille. Our own Sudoku expert, Barbara Pierce, and Marianne Denning made Sudoku games for the campers. One of our students really liked the game and was an excellent player.
We had a field trip to Ohio Historical Connection in Columbus. We contrasted the sizes of bones of a mastodon with those of an elephant and a buck deer. Campers visited an original house that was made entirely of steel. We were allowed to touch everything in the house. Our group was split into smaller groups, each led by a docent who was dressed in period costume. We went outside to a pioneer village and were allowed to have many hands-on experiences--visiting the schoolhouse, doctor's office, toy store, etc. Everyone had a wonderful time, and we are thankful for this opportunity to the staff and volunteers who worked there.
Eric, Marianne, and Debbie thank everyone who volunteered two weeks to make this another wonderful camp. Some who participated say that it was the most successful BELL Program yet. Perhaps this is in part because we welcomed one new student this year, and the others returned for either the second or third times to the camp. In addition to Eric Duffy, who directed the camp, and teachers Marianne Denning and Debbie Baker, our volunteers were Barbara Pierce, Aleeha Dudley, Paul and Bernie Dressell, Abby Bolling, Cassandra Proud, O&M student Kathy Keller, and Wendy Patrone and Shelly McCoy, who went on the field trip with us. We had volunteers help out with other events. We hope our volunteers will return next summer and convince their friends to join us. Both campers and their parents asked if we will offer BELL again next summer, and, if so, the kids wanted to come again. We hope they will.
A Parent's View of BELL
by Molly Taylor
Editor's note: We have a pretty firm rule that parents can visit the BELL Program, but they are firmly discouraged from staying all day every day because we are encouraging the kids to try new things and stretch their understanding of what blind people can do. It's important that they look on their teachers and the volunteers as the people in charge and that they learn to trust that they are safe with us even though we cannot see. But we are nothing if not flexible, so we threw out the rule book when it came to Lily Taylor. She was recently adopted from China by a wonderful family in Columbus. She was four years old and still learning English. She had little experience outside her home and her parents and big brother. Everything was new to Lily, and Mom was unwilling to subject Lily to so much new experience at the same time without being there herself to interpret and help. Eric Duffy thought that she had reasonable reservations, so he sent her to Marianne Denning, who approved the notion of letting Molly and Lily's older brother come along to BELL camp and learn along with Lily. Here is Molly's story of their experience:
Our first experience with BELL Camp took place before camp even started. Miss Marianne contacted me to discuss my daughter's current level and her background. She took the time to answer all my questions and ease my concerns about my four-year-old's participating in camp.
Once we were at camp, the leaders were very accommodating in the level my daughter could participate. They were respectful of her fear of dogs and loud noises and her general anxiety about being in a new environment with new people. They were also very accommodating in allowing my son and me to stick around and observe since Lily was so young and new to the camp experience.
The first day of camp Lily was a little hesitant to participate, but the other students were very encouraging. It didn't take long for her to feel comfortable, and she was soon singing "The Braille Rap Song" and ringing her bell very proudly. Due to Lily's age Miss Debbie and Miss Marianne did a great job finding activities that were appropriate yet not overwhelming. They were both very helpful in showing me how best to teach Lily at home to continue her success in learning Braille.
During our time at BELL camp I feel my son and I learned way more than my daughter-and she learned a lot. We learned everything from how to talk appropriately with people who are blind to how to use assistive technology in the kitchen to read can labels. My son was most impressed that the boys his age were able to participate in activities he enjoys-especially video games. All the teachers and volunteer helpers were very open and honest in sharing their experiences and brainstorming ideas about how best to support Lily in her home and school life. All three of us made life-long friends and can't wait until next year.
If you or a friend would like to remember the National Federation of the Blind of Ohio in your will, you can do so by employing the following language:
"I give, devise, and bequeath unto the Ohio Council of the Blind dba National Federation of the Blind of Ohio, P.O. Box 82055, Columbus, Ohio 43202, an Ohio nonprofit corporation, the sum of $ (or " percent of my net estate" or "The following stocks and bonds: ) to be used for its worthy purposes on behalf of blind persons."
Hospitality Suite Buckeye Style
by Sheri Albers
Editor's note: Ohio was one of the original seven states that founded the National Federation of the Blind in 1940. These seven states were tapped this year to jointly host the convention since it was the fourth year that we had been in Florida. Eric Duffy volunteered Ohio to organize and supervise the hospitality suite for the week. Here is Sheri Albers' report of that experience:
It's 5:45 AM; the alarm goes off on my iPhone, time to make the coffee. As one of the seven founding affiliates of the National Federation of the Blind, Ohio had the honor and the privilege of hosting the Hospitality Suite at the seventy-fifth annual convention in Orlando, Florida. It was a daunting task and not one to be taken lightly. Our team, led by our President Eric Duffy, consisted of me, Aleeha Dudley, Mary Brown, and our own secret weapon, Pat Eschbach.
Our first goal was to make the suite as blind-friendly as possible. The day and night before opening day, we were busy rearranging furniture, setting up food stations, unpacking cases of food from the vendors to see what we had so that Aleeha and Barbara Pierce could Braille cards to label each item. Mary helped me stock the bathtub with the sodas and juices and keep it iced down. Why the bathtub you ask? Because we did not have a refrigerator in the suite and that is how we improvised! I volunteered for the coffee bar and quickly learned to master the biggest coffee maker I ever used. I am afraid I made the coffee a little too strong for some people's tastes.
Eric had coordinated with the other six founding affiliates to provide helpers for us during the week. Pat was in charge of the orientation of each new shift as they came in. She made sure that there was a greeter at the door and someone stationed at various points along the food stations to assist our guests as they needed it. We then had people assisting guests to the seating area. Pat made sure the garbage cans were placed by the door and that everyone cleaned up after themselves. She was quick to point out when a guest was not wearing a name tag and the importance of doing so.
Pat thought it would be nice to switch out different food items for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Our guests seemed to like this arrangement, especially when we had some of the same people coming back again during the same day. The funny part was that people started calling us on the phone and asking what was on the menu.
As the week went on, we did start to get our regular guests. A gentleman named Buddy comes to mind. I don't even know what state he was from, but he came every day, multiple times a day. I actually saw him at the exhibit hall one day, and I forgot where I was for a minute. I heard his voice, and I thought I was back in the suite. Some people would come in and start loading up their backpacks with stuff. At first I was annoyed, but Pat set me straight. She explained that this might be all that they had to eat that day, and they were welcome to it.
There were times that the suite seemed like a family reunion sitting in their living room, although the guests had only just met. Sometimes it was just the crew, and we would sit around and make fun of what Siri would say when we asked the iPhone stupid questions. There were times when so many things were happening at once that I couldn't tell you the time of day. Our priority was to make sure that the food was restocked, the soda and ice were replenished, everyone had coffee if they wanted it, and all our guests were having a good time.
By the end of the week, we were dead tired and wondered where the week had gone. The suite was empty, except for a few bottles of water. We were visited by first-timers and old-timers and every-timer in between. We weren't sure if we were going to make it on that first day, but, with hard work and dedication and a little ingenuity, we got 'er done. My sincere thanks go out to the team and anyone else who lent us a hand. I believe that we showed the National Federation of the Blind that Ohio knows how to be hospitable. Happy seventy-fifth anniversary, NFB.
by Rachel Kuntz
Editor's note: Rachel Kuntz is a member of the Cincinnati chapter. She is a native of Dayton and now lives in West Chester and is a 1999 graduate of Wright State University in financial services. She has a college-age son. She attended her first national convention this past summer. This is what she says about the experience:
Helpful people in the visual world often use directional clues that aren't especially helpful to people without eyesight. We have all experienced the instruction that the item we are looking for is over there or the street we want is that way, accompanied by animated hand gestures. I find this humorous and try not to dwell on the irony of this visual way of communicating offered to the blind. These helpful individuals mean well.
Imagine my surprise when I attended my first NFB national convention and the verbal communication offered by volunteers was often "This way to (insert event)" yelled from what seemed to be every possible position in the hotel. Not having a better system to offer, I let it go and carried on with the business at hand. Then it suddenly occurred to me that "This way" in the context of the NFB had a deeper meaning, and I began saying "Yes it is" and following the voices each time I heard someone yell the command as we marched to the next convention event.
I am new to the NFB community, joining the Cincinnati Chapter this past March. An especially cold and isolating winter made me realize the extent of my need to reconnect with my fellow blindness community. I often feel as though I live two different lives. The life I lead at home is one of independence and freedom, while the life outside my home is tethered to sighted drivers and navigators. While watching the snow fall one especially cold day, it suddenly occurred to me that it had been nearly two decades since I had taken an independent trip away from home, and that was also the last time I was actively involved in a blindness organization. A serious change in my philosophy was in order.
When the topic of national convention came up during a chapter meeting, I thought that this was my chance to prove to myself that I could be independent. I registered as soon as I could, then set about trying to talk myself out of going. Many questions and doubts filled my mind. How would I manage? How would I find things? Would I get trapped in the Orlando airport? I took the trip, and of course nothing bad happened because I learned the meaning of "this way" through the connections that I made with my new NFB family.
My honorary convention mentor was Deborah Kendrick, president of the Cincinnati chapter. Deborah shared her time and expertise all week long, encouraging me to find my own way through the maze of convention options. She provided tips and tricks to maximize my time that were not written in the margins of the massive agenda. Without her I would not have gone to the Rookie Roundup or a few of the other important events that seemed closed to a newbie like me.
My voyage to the convention was made more peaceful by meeting Richard Payne, president of the Miami Valley chapter. He is such a humble man that he didn't realize that his sense of humor and confidence made me forget all about my fears of the Orlando airport. In fact we ditched the airport assistant (much to their astonishment) and found our way to baggage claim in no time at all. Helpful bystanders assisted us in retrieving our luggage. I had a photo of my luggage on hand, so my bag was found right away. Richard's luggage was a little more challenging to find. His bag was either black or gray, or maybe it was blue. He had no fear since airlines place a luggage sticker on all bags which contain your name and destination details. His calm and fearless approach was just what I needed to demonstrate that I didn't have to panic about the minor details and could even have a good laugh in the process.
My convention roommate Lisa Hall was the essence of "this way," by providing me with details about our room and the convention layout. She was amazing at getting me going after a long night. I would have been lost without her. Lisa saved me a ton of money with her tips. For example, the NFB hospitality suite is a great resource to meet people and to get a snack or enjoy a quick breakfast. She insisted that I have snacks with me at all times since meetings are scheduled close together. Lisa was a life saver with that tip, and I never left the room without a bottle of water and some M&M's in my bag.
Dr. JW Smith and Sheri Albers brought joy into my life throughout convention by answering some of the challenges of venturing out on my own. Dr. Smith helped make the process of finding another blind person in a crowded room easy by using his booming voice in a game of Marco Polo. He also made hitting the dance floor easier by holding not one, not two, but three folded white canes in his pants pockets. Sheri was an excellent host who made everyone who met her feel welcome all week. I don't know how she was able to keep up the energy all week, but she managed to. I was lucky enough to be next to her in the parking lot where we were placed to open umbrellas for the Guinness world record attempt. She kept me laughing, which took my mind off the summer heat and pools of sweat that were forming around my feet. She and Dr. Smith are incredibly cool under pressure.
Beyond the people that I had the privilege of meeting, there were deeply emotional seminars and speeches that reminded me of the work we have yet to do. The most powerful for me was the seminar designed to empower underserved populations. The guest speakers, which included Carolyn Peters, a member of the Miami Valley chapter, brought me to tears with their stories of triumph. I think of each of them daily and hope that I will someday be a source of encouragement to someone in need.
"The Nature of Blindness," a speech given by Marc Maurer Friday during convention, was one of many that stood out to me as a real gem. He spoke with humor and passion about the value of hiring a blind employee. If you are having a hard time at work and need a little spiritual pick-me-up, please listen to the speech and take note of the value you bring to any environment.
Every person that I met and event I attended made me realize that I am not alone in my journey. My NFB family is next to me, sharing the labor, carrying the burden, sounding the alarm, and clearing a path to continue moving "this way" to the lives we want. I invite you to join me at convention in 2016, I will be there to help you find your way.
Nashville by Way of the NFB Bid for Equality
by Sherry Ruth
Sherry Ruth is NFB of Ohio treasurer and NFB of Lorain County president. Here is her report of her adventure with the NFB Bid for Equality Auction last November:
My husband Tom and I fell in love with country music about twenty years ago. We have long talked about traveling to Nashville, the home of country music, but we have spent the last ten years going on cruises and seeing the shows in Las Vegas. For me as a totally blind person, the thrill of vacation is dining out, followed by a great show, preferably one with lots of good music.
The National Federation of the Blind has an on-line auction every fall on what is known as Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving. As a good Federationist I went to the auction site last fall to see what was there that I might be interested in bidding on. I can't tell you the excitement I felt when I heard the words: "Two nights at the downtown DoubleTree Hotel in Nashville and two tickets to the Grand Ole Opry." I put in my bid and kept checking the current bid and adjusting mine to make sure I finally won. We then added a third night and arrived in Nashville on Sunday, May 3, 2015. The hotel room was very nice, which made me happy since our next state convention will be held for the first time at the DoubleTree in Independence. Our seats at the Grand Ole Opry were fantastic. The six acts that performed were all wonderful, although as usual the music was louder than I like. Just being in that great venue was such a thrill, especially knowing that the show was being broadcast live on the radio.
Another great experience was boarding the General Jackson dinner and showboat cruise. We bought tickets to the captain's table, had a delicious buffet, and spent the hours listening to a great live band and talking with new friends. During the days we went to the Country Music Hall of Fame and the Tennessee State Museum, something I never thought I would enjoy because of my blindness, but there were many video boxes to turn on and listen to details. We even tagged behind a group of school children on their tour and learned things we would not have learned if we had been on our own. Another must-see was the store from the American Pickers show we watch on the history channel. Tom had to buy a sign for his new barn. The weather was warm and sunny the whole time we were there, and we had a terrific time walking down the main street and listening to all the great country music coming from the many bars and picking up souvenirs at the gift shops along the way. As you can tell, we had a marvelous time.
2015 NFB of Ohio Scholarship Winners
by Deborah Kendrick
Editor's note: Deborah Kendrick chairs the NFB of Ohio Scholarship Committee. She is also a member of the affiliate Board of Directors. Here is what she has to say about this year's scholarship winners:
It has been said that a prophet is never known in his (her) own country, but that is decidedly not the case with our two outstanding scholarship recipients for 2015. Both young women who will be awarded scholarships at our 2015 NFB of Ohio convention are well known by Federationists throughout Ohio and beyond.
Macy McClain, who describes herself as having grown up in the Federation, is studying to become a worship Leader at Cedarville University. Macy, as many of you know, is a gifted musician-playing flute and piano and singing like the proverbial angel. Macy is secretary of Ohio's Association of Blind Students and a member of the Board of Directors for NFB of Ohio. She is a graduate of the Louisiana Center for the Blind and a proud advocate.
Emily Pennington is a senior accounting major at Xavier University. A two-time National Federation of the Blind scholarship winner, thus placing her in the esteemed category of tenBroek Fellow, Emily has received many other scholarships throughout her academic career. She is treasurer of the Cincinnati Chapter of the NFB as well as of the Ohio Association of Blind Students.
Emily's skills, however, are not limited to accounting and treasuries. She is a talented musician (quite the show stopper at the Blind Inspiration fundraiser in Cincinnati with her vocals last May) and is involved in many musical, social justice, and academic organizations.
In keeping with the tradition of the NFB of Ohio Scholarship Committee, the decision determining which scholarship will go to each of these worthy recipients will be made during our state convention. Both are emerging leaders in our organization, and I invite you to know them better and join me in congratulating them on their achievements.
The Catching Fire Seminar
by Suzanne Turner
Editor's note: In 1973 then President Jernigan conducted the first leadership seminar. About twenty-five leaders from across the Federation were invited to Des Moines, Iowa, to spend four days with President Jernigan learning about the history of the organization, intensively studying blindness services in this country, and being trained in how to think and act as a Federation leader. It was an opportunity to get to know the top leadership of the organization and to allow them to get to know the seminarians, and it forged friendships among the members of the seminar group. The seminars were wildly successful. Through the years two to three have been conducted each year. Invitations are highly prized. There is no way to wangle one. You simply have to be invited by recommendation of someone who has already attended one. Seminarians must have attended a national convention, and they have homework to do before coming. Suzanne Turner is a leader in the Cleveland chapter. Here is her account of the leadership seminar she attended over this past Labor Day weekend:
I was invited to the eighty-first leadership seminar, orchestrated by President Riccobono of the National Federation of the Blind. We called ourselves the "Catching Fire Seminar." As I understand it, not many are chosen for this honor. However, I was afforded this opportunity, and my thinking about this organization has forever been changed. When I got the call from Mrs. Maurer, something in her voice told me that this was an occasion I should not omit. If someone else had called, I probably would have turned them down. I was not at my best that day, and the thought of traveling in the near future was not appealing. But her enthusiasm about this opportunity led me to acceptance, and I will be forever grateful.
The leadership seminar is a significant part of the investment that the Federation makes in building internal leadership and the relationships that will help carry out the work that we need to do. There were three intense days of meetings. At 6:00 AM the music began broadcasting through the intercom system to jilt you out of bed. Breakfast was at 7:00 AM, and then sessions would follow from 8:00 AM to about 10:00 PM. Yes, we were tired, but equally inspired and looking forward to the next day. Moreover, long-term relationships were formed and concepts and ideals were tested, dissected, and restructured to shape our emerging understanding of blindness and Federation philosophy. All in all, this seminar definitely caught fire.
The leadership seminar has proven to be one of the most stimulating and informative events that I have encountered since joining the National Federation of the Blind. Not only was it packed with history, but its materials were inclusive and had a great deal of substance. I am pleased that I read both books: Walking Alone and Marching Together and Building the Lives We Want prior to the seminar; because of this a lot of the questions were answered that were raised during Dr. Maurer's historical presentation. I intend to integrate the information I already knew with what I read and learned this past month. I have a greater understanding of policy and procedural responsibilities from the top down in the organization.
I do not have any suggestions for the modification of the content of the materials used in the seminar or the weekend's exhausting structure. However, I do think that all members of the organization would benefit from the seminar. The discussions between the students and both President Riccobono and Dr. Maurer along with the Executive Director of the Jernigan Institute have encouraged me to explore other opportunities in the Federation. My one suggestion to President Riccobono was to consider creating podcasts of the Leadership Seminar that could be downloaded on a personal device for general use. It could never take the place of having an opportunity to be in the presence of the President. But, for those who may never get the chance to attend a Leadership Seminar or visit the Jernigan Institute, having members with a better understanding of the fundamental purpose and how things over-all work might be helpful to the Federation's growth and productivity.
I know that, if I had learned earlier about the Federation as I did in this past month, I could have been a greater asset to my chapter and state with the ultimate goal of becoming more effective by supporting the National Office. I am now on fire, ready to pass on the history and optimism supplemented with intense dialog and self-confidence. Therefore I have adopted the attitude of Dr. Jernigan since my battle with employment discrimination. I understand now what he meant when he said, "We want no strife or confrontation, but we will do what we have to do. We will no longer be considered a second class citizens. We know who we are, and we will never go back!" I did not understand all of this until I was discriminated against. I have advocated for others for about twenty-five years. But, when it was me, I could not seem to figure it out. When Mrs. Maurer called to invite me to the Leadership Seminar, it was a blessing. So thank you, Dr. tenBroek, Dr. Jernigan, and Dr. Maurer for your place in history and for your unprecedented leadership. I will do my best as a guide to assist others to live the life they want by reaffirming that blindness is not the characteristic that defines us.
The NFB Goes to the Movies
by Barbara Pierce
Being a member of the National Federation of the Blind is always an adventure. When the phone rings, one never knows if it will be someone frantic for assistance or information about blindness, notification of a legislative emergency requiring immediate mobilization of Federationists to pressure Congress, news of a demonstration somewhere, or some other adventure. Last April I answered the phone one day and heard President Eric Duffy ask me to help a small movie production company.
It seems that Low Spark Films was planning to shoot a film in Lorain County. It was called My Blind Brother, and the director was eager to be sure that they got the blindness details right. I called the person with whom Eric had spoken (he found us by our website), and he outlined what they were looking for.
They wanted someone to come talk with the production team and then come to the site where they were shooting one day to talk with the actors about how they should behave with the blind person. The actor playing the blind man in the film had worked some with a blind man in Los Angeles, so he was pretty confident about what he was doing, but the sighted brother and some other actors had some questions, and the director had some concerns about how to film the blind actors.
I went to their offices and talked with the production people and then made arrangements to drive to where they were filming a few days later to talk with the actors. I must say that I just used common sense in talking with the cast and production staff. The truth of the matter was that the actors had made up their minds, and the only thing I could do was to try to improve their attitudes toward blind people. The plot of the film required that the blind brother be poorly adjusted to blindness. He keeps engaging in athletic events to raise money for blindness causes because he loves the adulation he receives for this work. He guilts his sighted brother into being his guide and assistant in these athletic activities because his blindness resulted from an accident that occurred when the sighted brother dared him to dive into a pool, and he struck his head. He is not a very nice guy, and I am pleased to say that he gets his come-uppance at the end of the film. But they did not want him to have great blindness skills or healthy attitudes, so this left me without a lot to say to the cast.
They must have been satisfied with what I told them, however, because they asked me to round up some blind extras for a couple of scenes. I recruited members of the Lorain County chapter and Milena Zavoli, Sean Martin, and Wayne Fletcher from the Cuyahoga County chapter to help. They were hoping for about thirty people, but I could not begin to come up with that many. I think we got eleven to show up, though not all of them were blind.
The first day they were filming two scenes: the end of a race and the presentation of a check to the foundation sponsoring the race. Happily we had a beautiful day. We spent from 9:00 in the morning to 8:00 at night filming those two scenes over and over again. They had recruited about a hundred sighted extras of all ages to fill in. They put the blind people in the front of the crowd, so we had to be enthusiastic every moment that the cameras were rolling. We were exhausted by the time we got home that evening.
At about this time the staff began talking to me about finding them a blind man in his late twenties or early thirties who would have a couple of lines in the film. He was to be an official of the blindness foundation, and his job was to fire the starting pistol for a swim across Lake Erie and then to welcome the boat back to shore after the sighted brother had managed to lose the blind guy in the lake. I contacted Jason Ewell, who now lives in Pittsburgh, to see if he was interested in the part. He was, but he had a potential conflict since he and his wife Jessica were leaving for Scotland just after the filming date. We thought it would work out, but we did not take Mother Nature into consideration. Just ahead of the filming date the bacteria count in the lake went through the roof, which messed up the filming schedule because the actors could not get into the lake while the count was high. The crew began to worry about dragging someone from Pittsburgh when they might well have to cancel filming because of the bacteria. When I convinced them that I really could not find someone closer to do the part, they decided that I would do. I pointed out that I was the wrong sex and the wrong age, but they assured me that I would do fine.
I reported for duty one day for what turned out to be a short day of filming in the sand and waves. I was required to walk across the beach and step on a sand castle that two children were building. I did not like that comic moment, but it was already built in, and there was nothing to do about it. Then I had to say one line at the shore line when all of us on shore assumed that the blind guy was in the water, but he was not. I actually have no idea how the problem of the misplaced blind man gets resolved, except that I know the two brothers have a big fight while hanging onto a buoy in the water, so I presume that he gets found and dragged out.
The final big day of filming was cold and rainy. The first part of the day we were riding around in a bus, singing "Michael Row the Boat Ashore." We were supposed to be blind supporters of the blind guy going to the starting line, where he began his swim across the lake. The cameras had a great time filming Megan Schief's dog Pepita, and Sherry and Tom Ruth were filmed a good deal on the bus.
We spent all afternoon huddled in folding chairs around the space where they were filming. Rain showers would pass over, bringing wind and eventually sun. We were really cold. I began to wonder when they would film the start of the swim, which was my big moment. I just wanted to go home. Finally, after they released all the extras, they called me to the starter's table and showed me the starter's pistol. They were perturbed with me because I kept reaching directly for the gun to pick it up. No, they wanted me to search for it. So I slowly moved my right hand from the corner of the table to the gun in a straight line. No, that would not do. They wanted the camera to follow my hand on a zigzag sweep searching for the gun-not too fast because the camera can move only so fast. Then I picked up the pistol, raised it dramatically, and called slowly, "On your mark; get set; go!" as I fired the gun. Then I was told to begin shouting encouragement to the swimmer. I was delighted that we had to repeat the process only twice before they were satisfied.
That was the end of our adventure. I know nothing about when the film will be circulated, or even if it will be in theaters at all in Ohio. I hope that the crew will keep me informed, but I am not sure. It was filmed in a month, and then the editing began. The director, who also wrote the script, gave birth to a baby girl in July, as far as I know. I presume that she would be central in the editing process, so that may still be going on. It was a very strange experience, but it was interesting. I am grateful to all the people who rose to the occasion and served as extras. They helped no end. I think the crew was very satisfied with what the NFB did to help them. Whether or not we will be as satisfied with the film in its finished form is another question.
Changing the World One Student at a Time
by Marianne Denning
Editor's note: Marianne Denning has been one of our two lead teachers in the Braille Enrichment for Literacy and Learning (BELL) Program for the past two years. She is a teacher of the visually impaired who lives in Cincinnati but teaches blind children across the country using the internet. She and her husband Paul have raised three sons, and she loves to travel. In other words she lives a full and productive life. But this is not all that she does. In the following article she reports on another of the activities that she gives her time and expertise to. This is what she says:
My husband and I love to learn about different cultures and beliefs. We don't have enough money to travel all we would like, so we bring the cultures to our home. We have hosted ten exchange students since 1999, including three legally blind students.
In the summer of 2009 the head of my department at Cincinnati Association for the Blind told me she had been contacted by AFS because they wanted to find someone who would host a legally blind student from Spain. She knew that we had hosted in the past, so she thought we might be interested. That is when our adventure began.
I contacted our local school district, but the director of special education refused to provide any services to this student. We enrolled him in school anyway, and he had a wonderful year. He would have done much better if the proper supports had been in place, but we didn't fight that battle. This has been a learning process for us. He increased his independence and learned to do many things he had not done in Spain. He is attending college now.
We took a few years off and then hosted a student from the Philippines during the 2013/14 school year. Her vision was significantly lower than that of our previous student, but the director of special education again refused to provide any services. The student struggled all year even though the teachers were very supportive. I also offered to help her, but she would not accept that help. She returned to the Philippines, and her comments in the AFS year book were all about the increased level of independence she had achieved. She has now graduated from high school and will be attending college in the Philippines.
In both situations we did not learn about these students until the summer before their arrival. That is no excuse, and we should have fought harder for special education services from the very beginning. In the spring of 2014 we learned about a student from Bosnia Herzegovina. She was a Braille reader and could read print only when it was magnified many times. Again the director of special education refused to provide services. We were getting an early start with this student and decided to fight for the services she would need. We received a letter from the director of special education saying that they could not provide services to this student because of lack of staff and funding. But anyone who comes to this country is protected by the same laws that protect all of us. We went to the school board and school superintendent, and three months after we decided to host this student the school accepted her and said they would provide the supports and services she needed. We were ready to file a lawsuit against the district if necessary, but it did not come to that.
Our student, Nadina, made the honor roll every semester, sang in two choirs, was a distance runner in track in the spring, and spoke to several local groups that support our school district. She was thrilled with her increased level of independence, and everyone agreed that she brought a lot to the school. She is outgoing and open to trying new things.
We began communicating with Nadina during the summer of 2014, and she always said that she couldn't do something because she had an "eye disability." My husband and I just smiled at each other and knew we would change her thinking about some things. She was eager to learn all we could teach her and would ask how to do things. She went home in June identifying herself as a blind person and promising to change things for blind people in Bosnia.
Here we are, and it is the summer of 2015. Guess what? We are hosting two students. One boy, legally blind, is from Egypt, and the other boy, who has no vision at all, is from the Republic of Georgia. I am looking forward to helping these young men become the independent, confident young adults I know they can be.
I hope the values of the NFB can spread worldwide so blind people everywhere can live the lives they want. I hope other NFB members will consider hosting kids who want to be exchange students. We can't change attitudes of everyone in other countries, but we can change the attitudes of blind people one student at a time and send them home ready to change lives where they live.
Barb Fohl Dies
by Debora Baker
Editor's note: We were all shocked on the morning of June 15 when word spread across the state that Barb Fohl had died. She had been hospitalized for many weeks, but we were hopeful that a diagnosis of her illness had finally been made and that she would soon start to improve. Barb was born March 23, 1951. She was sixty-four at the time of her death. We will all miss her cheerful, selfless disposition. Here is a tribute to Barb compiled by Debbie Baker from the recollections of Barb's friends:
"Barb Fohl was such an outward-looking person that she will truly be missed. Life was never about her. She was all about her friends and doing for others." This quote is from an email that I received from Barb's sister, Ginny Rainey. And those of us who knew and love Barb know that among her closest friends were we, her Federation family.
At one time or another Barb served as Ohio affiliate secretary, second vice president, NAPUB secretary, president of the Ohio Senior Blind, Awards Committee chair, Board member and member of the Ohio Guide Dog division even long after the death of her guide dog Mickey. In the Lake County chapter after the death of President Virginia Mann, Barb served as secretary and state board of directors presence until the chapter was dissolved.
She worked for thirty years as a social worker in Ashtabula. Her extracurricular life was just as full as her Federation life. She volunteered with the Western Reserve Hospice in Ashtabula and served on the board of directors of the Ashtabula Community Chorus, in which she sang. Barb was a member of the Breast Cancer Survivors group in Ashtabula. She was a deacon of her Presbyterian church and, shortly before her illness, was inducted into a Choral Hall of Fame in honor of her vocal work with the chorale and Sweet Adalines, an a capella women's barbershop chorus.
Annette Anderson and I recall with amusement Barb's obsession with checking immediately upon her first entry into our hotel room to assure herself that we had enough towels, washcloths, and soap for all who shared her hotel room. If housekeeping did not respond to her request for more of these supplies when there were insufficient amounts, she called housekeeping more than once. Barb always organized herself for the many sales and/or note-taking activities for which she worked in our Federation. She was seldom without a full backpack or fanny pack for these endeavors.
Annette used to goad her to see if she would let slip the winner of the chapter Gavel award. "I know what you're tryin' to do, and I'm not tellin' ya," Barb would respond calmly.
When three or four of us would stumble around our hotel room, sometimes bumping into each other, during convention to get ready for meetings or to go to bed, we usually made a pact. We decided that one blanket phrase of "excuse me" would suffice for the entire convention week or weekend.
We will miss you, Barb--your infectious laugh, your cheerful outlook, your gracious spirit, and your dedication to your Federation family.
Jacobus tenBroek Legacy Society
Help build a future full of opportunity for the blind by becoming a member of the Jacobus tenBroek Legacy Society. Your legacy gift to the National Federation of the Blind can be made in the form of a will or a living trust, an income-generating gift, or by naming the NFB as a beneficiary of a retirement plan or life insurance policy. You can also become a member of the Jacobus tenBroek Legacy Society by making a legacy gift to your state affiliate. By committing to support an NFB affiliate, your gift will benefit both local and national programs, since all bequests made to affiliates are split evenly with the NFB national treasury. In addition to having the satisfaction of contributing to the future success of the NFB's mission, tenBroek Legacy Society members also receive a specially designed thank you gift and other benefits. For additional information, please contact Lou Ann Blake at the NFB Jernigan Institute by email at lblake at nfb.org <mailto:lblake at nfb.org> <mailto:lblake at nfb.org <mailto:lblake at nfb.org>> , or by telephone at 410-659-9314, extension 2221.
The KNFB Reader
Now you can have the convenience of an OCR scanner in the palm of your hand. The KNFB Reader app is a revolutionary tool that you can use with the touch of a single button to read virtually any type of printed text, including mail, receipts, class handouts, memos, and many other documents. Accuracy is facilitated by a field-of-view report, automatic page detection, and tilt control.
Proprietary document analysis technology determines the words and reads them aloud to the user with high-quality text-to-speech. Read the words you want to read; live the life you want. Visit the Apple App Store to purchase the KNFB Reader app and start enjoying it today. For the latest news and information about the KNFB Reader, follow us on Twitter @KNFBReader or like us on Facebook.
The convention registration form link is at http://nfbohio.org/conventionregistration.html <http://nfbohio.org/conventionregistration.html> <http://r20.rs6.net/tn.jsp?f=001Y7LKMZ3u_s8c1-Z3r5XcWn7sI4b073ZwbN0HT8gxjSYu5ojZk9hwM9XgpGLii0IMoZzLXj91MYWcO0l3ZIJ8U8oMTu6e8OpGdAr53oODf_zy3w6013Fq2UiEfzuBZxcQ6N-kGA2hXcFaYz-EgbBl7jSf2irDE7hf-j4JddtyrQItFT0qe4hAhaWpjGKwsB8AP6toMhGpRSc=&c=M8CGUOWLAbDQUjgouYBjEU4TlMa9Fnl6anUnMPvIjuXzK1aHvTVElQ==&ch=M1nbeQ7PYbSDZ48KNmwOFzwmlxGVH8QLIUlTxEK6KtH-mwRG03ldKQ== <http://r20.rs6.net/tn.jsp?f=001Y7LKMZ3u_s8c1-Z3r5XcWn7sI4b073ZwbN0HT8gxjSYu5ojZk9hwM9XgpGLii0IMoZzLXj91MYWcO0l3ZIJ8U8oMTu6e8OpGdAr53oODf_zy3w6013Fq2UiEfzuBZxcQ6N-kGA2hXcFaYz-EgbBl7jSf2irDE7hf-j4JddtyrQItFT0qe4hAhaWpjGKwsB8AP6toMhGpRSc=&c=M8CGUOWLAbDQUjgouYBjEU4TlMa9Fnl6anUnMPvIjuXzK1aHvTVElQ==&ch=M1nbeQ7PYbSDZ48KNmwOFzwmlxGVH8QLIUlTxEK6KtH-mwRG03ldKQ==>>. It is also part of this newsletter. Be sure to register online or fill it out below and order your meals and make your convention registration.
If you are over fifty, be sure to sign up for the Seniors Division lunch on Saturday, November 21. Seniors are the fastest growing population of blind people. They are also the most challenging because their attitudes are so negative. We face a serious challenge in persuading these people to change their attitudes and join the NFB. We need all the help we can get to tackle this problem. Membership dues are only $5 a year. Please join us.
Here is a report by Sheri Albers on the Cincinnati chapter's Braille-a-thon, held on Saturday, July 18, at the North College Hill Kroger. If you remember, the forecast was for an extremely hot and humid day, but Deanna Lewis, accompanied by her guide dog Mombo; Kaiti Shelton; and I were willing to give it a go as long as we could. As it turned out, the store manager, Deanna, invited us inside and set us up in the store entrance, where it was nice and cool. We set up our table, put our banner around it, and put out NFB literature: "Do You Know a Blind Person?" "What Is the National Federation of the Blind?" NFB alphabet cards, Kernel Books, and guide dog materials. We then settled in and read Braille and talked to people from 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM. We did not plan it, but we all had different methods of Braille reading. Kaiti was reading a book on her notetaker using the Braille display, I had a Braille copy of a banquet speech by Dr. Jernigan, and Deanna had a dual Braille-print book. For the couple of people who wanted more specifics, we hope we planted a seed, like the Kernel Books intend. Oh, how did the Braille-a-thon go? Well, the three participants of our chapter raised $240, and our picture appeared in a Kroger's community outreach publication.
We regret to report that Sherry Ruth's father, Robert Nuhn, died on Sunday, July 5, following a fall. Our condolences go to Sherry, her mother, and her sister.
We are delighted to report that John Griffin Debus was born on Monday, July 20, at 11:55 p.m., weighing seven pounds and fourteen ounces and measuring twenty inches long. He is the son of Beth and Jim Debus of the Capital Chapter and has a big brother named Max. The entire family is doing well. Congratulations to the Debuses.
Our condolences go to Lisa Hall of the Cincinnati chapter on the death last April 29 of her close companion Robert Marquardt, who was seventy-seven at the time of his death.
The following news comes from the Cuyahoga County chapter. Genet Abraham, who is from Eritrea and who just attended her first national convention, has moved to Abilene, Texas, and has contacted the local NFB chapter. there
Sean Martin is now working for the Department of Defense, Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS) as a consumer contact representative, he is also on the disability awareness committee.
Cheryl Fischer is working at the Sight Center as a customer representative for the Department of Education.
Colleen Roth reminds everyone that the At-Large Chapter meets at 7:30 on the fourth Sunday of each month. The group meets by phone. The number is (712) 775-7031. The access code is 900 797 801, followed by the pound sign. The chapter is intended for people who do not have a local chapter in their area, but everyone is welcome. The next meeting will be October 26.
Ron Ferguson tells us the Jan has been able to get her book about their daughter Jennica published through CreateSpace. The link http://www.amazon.com/My-Own-Eyes-Jennicas-Journey/dp/1517104254/ref=sr_1_4?s=books <http://www.amazon.com/My-Own-Eyes-Jennicas-Journey/dp/1517104254/ref=sr_1_4?s=books> <http://r20.rs6.net/tn.jsp?f=001Y7LKMZ3u_s8c1-Z3r5XcWn7sI4b073ZwbN0HT8gxjSYu5ojZk9hwM9XgpGLii0IMCmXTBUzyDBIBerzkyIpU46QJ9MQtCZ99zZJQVstEMPXo_fwoFY1Bbh6O516CUCuirdoT1McIlbhML604s_sFFcWGmmvbuXk2m5zkl5DnhkZsB5TwT8lAh89cQy7eq7KuUUsX_GbDR-FCxiE3_AbYlTFloXq3YKiioUv2AzzAkIF2MZEw3wvxnc-_IEgwHtzZiIKz7QS97iM=&c=M8CGUOWLAbDQUjgouYBjEU4TlMa9Fnl6anUnMPvIjuXzK1aHvTVElQ==&ch=M1nbeQ7PYbSDZ48KNmwOFzwmlxGVH8QLIUlTxEK6KtH-mwRG03ldKQ== <http://r20.rs6.net/tn.jsp?f=001Y7LKMZ3u_s8c1-Z3r5XcWn7sI4b073ZwbN0HT8gxjSYu5ojZk9hwM9XgpGLii0IMCmXTBUzyDBIBerzkyIpU46QJ9MQtCZ99zZJQVstEMPXo_fwoFY1Bbh6O516CUCuirdoT1McIlbhML604s_sFFcWGmmvbuXk2m5zkl5DnhkZsB5TwT8lAh89cQy7eq7KuUUsX_GbDR-FCxiE3_AbYlTFloXq3YKiioUv2AzzAkIF2MZEw3wvxnc-_IEgwHtzZiIKz7QS97iM=&c=M8CGUOWLAbDQUjgouYBjEU4TlMa9Fnl6anUnMPvIjuXzK1aHvTVElQ==&ch=M1nbeQ7PYbSDZ48KNmwOFzwmlxGVH8QLIUlTxEK6KtH-mwRG03ldKQ==>> gets you to Amazon, where you can order it.
October Meet the Blind Month
October 15 Blind Americans Equality Day
October 29 Release date for convention room block
November 12 Deadline for submitting chapter lists, dues, chapter or division reports, convention pre-registrations, and resolutions
November 16 75th birthday of the NFB
November 19-22 NFB of Ohio convention, Independence
December 1 Deadline for expressing interest in the Washington Seminar
January 4 Louis Braille's birthday
January 4-11 Braille Literacy Week
January 25-28 Washington Seminar
March 31 Deadline for NFB scholarship application submission
National Federation of the Blind of Ohio
2015 Convention Preregistration Form
6200 Quarry Lane, Independence, Ohio 44131, phone, (216) 447-1300
Please complete and return this form by November 12, even if someone else is reserving a room for you. Print and mail the completed form and check made payable to NFB of Ohio for registration and meal reservations to P.O. Box 82055, Columbus, OH 43202. Preconvention rates are dependent on receipt of payment before the convention. If you are preregistering and buying tickets for others, on the back of this form please list their names as they should appear on name tags. All costs will be higher if you register at the convention. Ticketed activities are listed below. Indicate the number of reservations for each event and total money for each.
Saturday NAPUB Breakfast: $13 ($15 after Nov. 12)
Saturday boxed lunch: $18 ($20 After November 12)
Mark the number of each type of lunch ordered
Banquet: meat $30, $28 vegetarian $35 After Nov. 12
Sunday Leadership Breakfast for presidents and treasurers: ($13, $15 after Nov. 12)
Convention registration ($15, $25 after Nov. 12)
Registrations or meal orders without payment will not be counted.
NAME (for name tag)
PREFER BRAILLE PROGRAM Number
I wish to make a donation (always appreciated) to the National Federation of the Blind of Ohio. My check is enclosed. (Make check payable to the NFB of Ohio.)
Total check enclosed
More information about the Ohio-talk