[Ohio-talk] Spring 2018 Buckeye Bulletin
barbara.pierce9366 at gmail.com
barbara.pierce9366 at gmail.com
Sat Apr 14 20:06:18 UTC 2018
I expect everyone had given up hope of ever seeing this document. I trust it will soon beon NEWSLINE as well. At least I hve sent the files to Richard for NEWSLINE.
Spring 2018 Buckeye Bulletin
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>
Richard Payne, President
1019 Wilmington Ave., APT. 43,
Kettering, OH 45420
rchpay7 at gmail.com <mailto:rchpay7 at gmail.com>
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 live 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 nine local chapters, one for at-large members, and special divisions for diabetics, merchants, students, seniors, parents of blind children, guide dog users, and those interested in Braille. This newsletter appears three times a year and is circulated by email, posted on NFB-NEWSLINE®, our digitized newspaper-reading service by phone, and can be read or downloaded from our website, 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>. 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), 614-448-1673 (Columbus), Dayton: 937-963-1000 (Dayton), 567-242-5112 (Lima), 567-333-9990 (Mansfield), 740-370-6828 (Portsmouth), 937-717-3900 (Springfield), 56-806-1100 (Toledo), and 330-259-9570 (Youngstown).
Dream Makers Circle
You can help build a future of opportunity for the blind by becoming a member of our Dream Makers Circle. Your legacy gift to the National Federation of the Blind or the National Federation of the Blind of Ohio can be made in the form of a will or living trust or an income-generating gift or by naming us as the beneficiary of a retirement plan, IRA, pension, or a life insurance policy. You can designate a specific amount, a percentage, or list NFB as one of several beneficiaries. For additional information contact Patti Chang at (410) 659-9314, extension 2422 or at pchang at nfb.org <mailto:pchang at nfb.org>.
The National Federation of the Blind uses car donations to improve the education of blind children, distribute free white canes, help veterans, and much more. We have partnered with Vehicles for Charity to process donated vehicles. Please call toll-free (855) 659-9314, and a representative can make arrangements, or you can donate online by visiting www.nfb.org/vehicledonations <http://www.nfb.org/vehicledonations>.
From the President’s Desk <applewebdata://23EC6F36-DFB0-41B9-B774-CB386A6B84B8#_Toc511480747>
Brief Report on the 2017 State Convention <applewebdata://23EC6F36-DFB0-41B9-B774-CB386A6B84B8#_Toc511480748>
2017 Awards Committee Report <applewebdata://23EC6F36-DFB0-41B9-B774-CB386A6B84B8#_Toc511480749>
National Federation of the Blind of Ohio Scholarship Class 2017-2018 <applewebdata://23EC6F36-DFB0-41B9-B774-CB386A6B84B8#_Toc511480750>
2018 Committee Appointments <applewebdata://23EC6F36-DFB0-41B9-B774-CB386A6B84B8#_Toc511480751>
Editor’s Musings <applewebdata://23EC6F36-DFB0-41B9-B774-CB386A6B84B8#_Toc511480752>
The NFB’s 2018 Legislative Program <applewebdata://23EC6F36-DFB0-41B9-B774-CB386A6B84B8#_Toc511480753>
Accessible Instructional Materials in Higher Education Act (S. 2138/H.R. 1772) <applewebdata://23EC6F36-DFB0-41B9-B774-CB386A6B84B8#_Toc511480754>
Access Technology Affordability Act (S. 732/H.R. 1734) <applewebdata://23EC6F36-DFB0-41B9-B774-CB386A6B84B8#_Toc511480755>
Oppose the ADA Education and Reform Act of 2017 (H.R. 620) <applewebdata://23EC6F36-DFB0-41B9-B774-CB386A6B84B8#_Toc511480756>
The Marrakesh Treaty to Facilitate Access to Published Works for Persons Who Are Blind, Visually Impaired, or Otherwise Print Disabled (Marrakesh Treaty) <applewebdata://23EC6F36-DFB0-41B9-B774-CB386A6B84B8#_Toc511480757>
The Pre-Authorized Contribution Plan Yesterday and Today <applewebdata://23EC6F36-DFB0-41B9-B774-CB386A6B84B8#_Toc511480758>
Meet the Blind Month and White Cane Awareness Day in Cincinnati <applewebdata://23EC6F36-DFB0-41B9-B774-CB386A6B84B8#_Toc511480759>
Farewell to Aidan Carter <applewebdata://23EC6F36-DFB0-41B9-B774-CB386A6B84B8#_Toc511480760>
Ronnie Leeth’s Gone Fishin’ <applewebdata://23EC6F36-DFB0-41B9-B774-CB386A6B84B8#_Toc511480761>
Wellness Tips <applewebdata://23EC6F36-DFB0-41B9-B774-CB386A6B84B8#_Toc511480762>
Buckeye Briefs <applewebdata://23EC6F36-DFB0-41B9-B774-CB386A6B84B8#_Toc511480763>
Activities Calendar <applewebdata://23EC6F36-DFB0-41B9-B774-CB386A6B84B8#_Toc511480764>
From the President’s Desk <>
by Richard Payne
As some of you already know, just before the Washington Seminar I attended a meeting for state presidents. Among other things we discussed a code of conduct that the National Board instructed President Riccobono to develop so that we all would have something clear to read, discuss, and sign to indicate our agreement with. In the social climate today I think this was a very good idea. So we read and discussed the proposed code of conduct. President Riccobono has asked state presidents and the members of the Board of Directors and the members of at least some important committees to sign this document. I want to take the space in this column to outline this code for you and to tell you what I think it means for Ohio.
The National Federation of the Blind knows that the world is better off when all of the Federation’s members can contribute all that they have to offer to the organization as well as to the world’s people.
When we talk about all of the world’s people, we literally mean all races, ethnic backgrounds, genders, sexual orientations, disabilities, etc. Our belief in the innate capacity of the blind unites us, and we cannot allow social and cultural differences to divide us or prevent us from reaching our full strength and maturity as an organization.
The NFB provides a loving, supportive, and encouraging family that shares in the challenges and triumphs of our blind brothers and sisters. This deeply held faith in one another sustains members during times of challenge and cheers us on to individual and collective successes. Love is the force that permeates our organization and pushes us to expect the best from each other.
The National Federation of the Blind embraces diversity and full participation as core values in its mission to achieve equality, opportunity, and security for the blind. We are committed to building and maintaining a nationwide organization with state affiliates and local chapters that is unified in its priorities and programs and is directed by the membership. We respect differences of opinion, beliefs, identities, and other characteristics that demonstrate that blind people are a diverse cross section of society. Furthermore, the organization is dedicated to continuing to establish new methods of membership and leadership development that reflect the diversity of the entire blind community. In promoting a diverse and growing organization, we expect integrity and honesty in our relationships with each other and openness to learning about and experiencing cultural diversity. We believe that these qualities are crucial to fostering social and intellectual maturity. Intellectual maturity also requires individual struggle with unfamiliar ideas.
We recognize that our individual views and convictions will be challenged within the organization, but we expect this challenge to take place in a climate of tolerance and mutual respect in order to maintain a united organization. While we encourage the exchange of differing ideas and experiences, we do not condone the use of demeaning, derogatory, or discriminatory language, actions, or any other form of expression intended to marginalize an individual or group. The National Federation of the Blind does not tolerate discrimination on the basis of race, creed, color, religion, gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, national origin, citizenship, marital status, age, genetic information, disability, or any other characteristic or intersectionality of characteristics.
These principles address the way we should behave and interact within the Federation family and in our communities. The world is changing, and we must change with it. Our values must be stated in a way that anyone who cares to know will understand who we are and what we stand for.
We have made a point of establishing a culture of inclusion and of encouraging all kinds of people to provide leadership in the NFB of Ohio. Of course the Federation stands for belief in the capacity of blind people and the right of all blind people to live full and meaningful lives. We must all study our history and understand why the NFB takes the stands it does about agency accreditation, access to technology, and the legislative priorities we have developed at the state and national levels. All this requires commitment by chapters and divisions in the affiliate. It means that we all must read and study the Braille Monitor and the Buckeye Bulletin and take part in organizational activities.
It also means that we must all work at raising the money that we need to carry out local and state activities. We don’t like to hear this news, but it is the simple truth. We have to raise the money we need to do our work because, if we don’t, no one else will. We have to be willing to invite our families and friends to support the NFB, and we have to support it ourselves. We must learn to work with the new online methods of fundraising and work hard at the old-fashioned kind of projects as well.
All these are things I have learned since becoming President of the National Federation of the Blind of Ohio in April of 2016. They mean hard work for us all, but they also represent the promise of equality and freedom for the blind community in Ohio and the country as a whole.
My friend Eric Duffy has often said that everyone wants to be President and is sure that he or she could do the job better than whoever holds the office. Then, when the chance to lead comes, everything changes. I honestly did not know what a challenge being your President would be, but I am glad for the experience and grateful for the chance to lead the affiliate.
Brief Report on the 2017 State Convention <>
by Barbara Pierce
The seventy-first convention of the National Federation of the Blind of Ohio was held at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel in Columbus October 27 to 29, 2017. The national rep was Shawn Callaway, president of the NFB of the District of Columbia and member of the NFB Board of Directors. Co-chairs of Convention Arrangements were Sheri Albers and Rachel Kuntz, and the Capital Chapter of the NFB of Ohio was our host. Sheri and Rachel were tireless in sorting out problems and making sure that everyone had a great experience. Our host chapter and especially Chapter President Shelbi Hindel made everyone feel welcome and did a great job with hospitality.
The first convention event was the board meeting late Friday morning. It dealt mostly with convention arrangements. After that was a lovely meet-and-greet with light and delicious refreshments. Those who were interested in a walking tour of the hotel with mobility tips could join Shawn Martin before the general session to familiarize themselves with the facility. Dr. Carolyn Peters, chair of the Membership Committee, hosted a rookie round-up for new convention attendees. Other affiliate leaders joined Carolyn to provide information about the convention agenda and some history of the affiliate.
The first general session of the convention opened at 2:00 p.m. Shawn Callaway delivered the national report, which provided updates on what is happening across the NFB. We also heard from Opportunities for Ohioans with Disabilities (OOD) and the Bureau of Services for the Visually Impaired (BSVI). In addition Rachel Kuntz reported on her demanding and exciting adult rehabilitation training at BLIND, Inc., in Minneapolis; and Dick Davis described the program and philosophy of rehabilitation at BLIND, Inc., one of the three NFB adult rehab centers. We also heard from the Talking Book Library in Ohio and received a report on our Columbus Seminar on May 9 at the Ohio Legislature and an update on the bills we were discussing with our lawmakers.
The evening was devoted to committee, division, and chapter meetings. There were also a lively hospitality open house and the Ohio Association to Promote the Use of Braille (OAPUB) production of the radio play, “Baby Snooks.” The Braille readers in this play did an exceptionally good job of reading their scripts.
OAPUB and the Diabetes Action Network conducted breakfast meetings early Saturday morning. The general session opened with “Why I Am a Federationist” by Lilly Pennington, who served as an intern at our national headquarters last summer. We also heard from the Ohio State University Program in Visual Impairments; Medical Mutual of Ohio, which is discovering the benefits of hiring the blind; a report of the 2017 Braille Enrichment for Literacy and Learning Academy in Ohio, by BELL coordinator Heather Leiterman; and a report from Disability Rights Ohio.
During the lunch break parents interested in revitalizing that division, seniors, guide dog users, and students all met to conduct business. Hospitality was available from 1:00 to 3:00. The afternoon provided a wide choice of presentations. There were workshops on membership, advocacy, leadership and philosophy, and technology. If one was nimble and able to get up and leave a fascinating discussion, one could get to two of these offerings, but it was an exercise in frustration to decide how to divide one’s time.
At 5:30 the social hour began, with the banquet starting at 6:30. We enjoyed award and scholarship presentations, which are described in detail elsewhere in this newsletter. Shawn Callaway gave a moving address, and Richard Payne served as master of ceremonies. Annette Lutz conducted the not-so-silent auction as well as giving away door prizes this year. That auction raised $1,618, and Money for the Movement raised $2,790. After the banquet was a great party with live music.
The Sunday morning general session was mostly devoted to a business meeting. The sitting board members were all returned to office, and we made plans for another year of activity. Everyone went home revitalized and determined to get things done. If you missed this convention, you are the loser. Don’t make the same mistake this year. Details about the 2018 convention appear at the top of “Buckeye Briefs.”
2017 Awards Committee Report <>
by Cheryl Fields
Editor’s note: Cheryl chairs our Awards Committee. Here is her report of the 2018 awards:
It was a pleasure and an honor to chair the NFB of Ohio 2017 Awards Committee. This may be a unique committee in the Federation and the most important committee of the Ohio affiliate. I say this because of the Gavel Award application. The Awards Committee has the awe-inspiring responsibility of reviewing applications from every chapter and division in the Ohio affiliate brave enough to subject itself to the rigor of the application process.
The Gavel Award reflects advocacy by the membership; member commitment to the Federation’s legislative agenda at the local, state, and national levels; organizational growth; education of the sighted community; and commitment to funding the movement at all levels. When each of these factors is considered in detail and measured as objectively as possible, the results speak volumes about the health of each chapter and division and the integrity of the Ohio Affiliate as a whole.
Because it takes all of us to create the collective action necessary to promote the National Federation of the Blind, we have a few other awards that allow us to recognize and celebrate those individuals and organizations that support our vital work. Since they are presented only when a good candidate emerges, I must report that none of these awards was presented at the 2017 Dream Convention. Because we continue to educate each of you about the value of these awards, I trust that this will change in 2018 and beyond.
While sitting at my table at the 2017 Dream Convention anxiously waiting for President Payne to call for the committee report and presentation, I had many thoughts. One of these was to wonder how many dreams had been transformed into reality during that weekend. My eyes still mist knowing how crucial this work of ours is today and into the future. Then it was time for Robert Spangler and me to walk to the podium and present the 2017 Gavel Awards.
The 2017 Chapter Gavel Award was most certainly deserved for the second year by the Capitol Chapter. Under the leadership of President Shelbi Hindel, this outstanding chapter has earned this award for two consecutive years. The Ohio Association of Guide Dog Users walked away with the Division Gavel Award. This division is a testament of excellence with distinction by astonishing us with taking division honors for the fifth consecutive year. President Deanna Lewis, we salute your awesome leadership. In addition, the Cleveland chapter, under the leadership of President William H. Turner, became the 2017 Chapter on the Move.
I challenge and encourage every president to share the Gavel Award application and description of the other awards with your members, evaluate it, and use the information as a guide for your 2018 agenda. Reach high and raise the expectations of your chapter or division. Watch and learn from these three amazing leaders. Today there is a clean slate. Give them some strong competition.
The 2017 Awards committee members are to be applauded for volunteering their time and talents. I am extremely grateful for their dedication to the process and for their patience with me as the chair of a state committee for the first time. If you have not had the honor of serving on this committee, you have missed a very important opportunity to have a wider perspective on the Ohio affiliate. The next time President Payne asks you to serve on a state committee, consider requesting the awards committee. You will be glad you did.
National Federation of the Blind of Ohio Scholarship Class 2017-2018 <>
by Jordy D. Stringer
Editor’s Note: Jordy Stringer chaired this year’s Scholarship Committee. Largely because of his hard work we had more scholarship applicants than ever before. Here is his report of the presentation of the scholarship awards at this year’s convention:
A good head and good heart are always a formidable combination. But when you add to that a literate tongue or pen, then you have something very special.—Nelson Mandela
It was with great honor that I served as coordinator for the 2017 National Federation of the Blind of Ohio Scholarship Program. The Scholarship Committee extends its most sincere appreciation to all of the amazing students who applied to last year’s program and encourages those who were not selected to apply again this year.
The National Federation of the Blind of Ohio is a membership organization changing what it means to be blind. We are committed to promoting equality, opportunity, independence, and dignity for all blind Ohioans, and we are committed to doing what we can to secure career opportunities and equal access to education for all blind people.
We all enjoyed a grand celebration during the annual banquet at the NFB-O state convention; part of that celebration was the scholarship presentation. We presented three awards to three amazing students. Please find each student’s name with his scholarship award and title, as well as the student’s favorite quotation and his comment on it. They all have big dreams and are well on the way to living the lives they want.
First was Michael Mulchin from Marysville, Ohio. Michael, who began his freshman year in 2017, received the Robert M. Eschbach Memorial Scholarship in the amount of $1,000. “If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them.”—Henry David Thoreau
Often I find myself with lofty goals. I’ve built several castles in the sky, and not all of them have stayed. When I put in hours of painstaking work and come up short, these are the times I feel the sting of failure. This quotation reminds me that failure need not be a mindset. Solutions to difficult problems are not easy to find, but they are the foundations of our livelihood. Giving up can never be the first alternative. Instead I can take my work from the air to the ground. Life is too precious to give up on ambitions without first taking a grounded step toward solving the problem.
Next is Jonathan Thomas from Fairfield, Ohio. JT received the Barbara E. Fohl Memorial Scholarship; it too is valued at $1,000. “If you live for people’s acceptance, you’ll die from their rejection.”—Lecrae
I really love this quotation, and I believe that it is very true. If I go out into the world and search for people’s acceptance, I don’t think that I will get far in life. I could spend all of my time searching for people’s acceptance, and those same people could turn around and say that I’m not good enough because of the color of my skin, or how I talk, or because I am blind. At the end of the day, if I live for people’s acceptance, I probably won’t be able to handle their rejection. So I’ve decided not to care about what people think and just do my own thing, and that’s why I really enjoy that quotation.
Finally Robert Sabwami from Dayton, who is attending Wright State University this fall. Robert was the recipient of the Jennica Ferguson Memorial Scholarship. This scholarship is the largest awarded by the National Federation of the Blind of Ohio, valued at $1,500. “Don’t ask yourself what the world needs; ask yourself what makes you come alive. And then go and do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”—Howard Thurman
I like this quotation because I believe the world not only needs people who are positive thinkers; it also needs people who can be instruments of change. We need to be a people who radiate energy, positivity, and mindfulness in our interactions.
Deadline for application for the 2018-2019 Scholarship Program is Friday, June 1, 2018. The application can be downloaded as a Word document from the Ohio website, nfbohio.org <mailto:nfbohio.org>. Email completed applications to Dr. JW Smith at smithj at ohio.edu <mailto:smithj at ohio.edu>.
2018 Committee Appointments <>
by Richard Payne
Editor’s note: The NFB-O president appoints all committees. Here are his appointments for 2018. The charge for each committee is listed. The first name listed is the chair.
Charge: To oversee the awards process, to provide information and feedback when necessary, and to make reasonable judgments about NFB-O awards.
Cheryl Fields, Chenelle Handcock, Annette Lutz, Barbara Pierce, Robert Spangler, and Emily Pennington
BELL ACADEMY COMMITTEE
Charge: To organize the BELL Program and plan efficient ways to promote and execute this very important BELL Academy. The chair will also recruit anyone who she believes can make the 2018 BELL Academy a success. The members of this committee will be screened because of the type of program it is.
Rachel Kuntz, Sheri Albers, Debra Baker, Mary Anne Denning, Barbara Pierce, Paul Jordan, and Paula Jordan
Charge: To make sure that all NFB-O constitutions are in compliance with the state and national constitutions, both philosophically and rhetorically.
Colleen Roth, Cheryl Fields, and Barbara Shaidnagle
CONVENTION PLANNING COMMITTEE
Charge: To assist and advise the president in the planning and functioning of our state convention and to provide additional assistance in planning and executing affiliate activities at national conventions.
Suzanne Turner, Sherri Albers, Rachel Kuntz, Susan Day, Natassha Ricks, Cheryl Fisher, Lucas Cassi, Shawn Martin, Annie Carson, Rosa Jones, and Milena Zavoli
Charge: To advise the president about policies, legislation, strategies, and initiatives in which the National Federation of the Blind of Ohio should be engaged to improve educational opportunities for blind youth throughout the state.
Debra Baker, Chris Sabine, Colleen Roth, Macy McClain, Elif Emir Öksüz, and Marianne Denning
FINANCING THE MOVEMENT COMMITTEE (SUN coordinator, Jernigan Fund coordinator, PAC coordinator)
Charge: To make members aware of these specific organizational fundraising opportunities and to implement strategies to increase participation throughout the year.
Sherry Ruth (Jernigan Fund coordinator), Colleen Roth (SUN Coordinator), and Barbara Shaidnagle (PAC Coordinator)
Charge: To investigate additional opportunities to increase NFB-O resources and to implement effective fundraising strategies and programming.
Lucas Cassie, Annette Lutz, Deanna Lewis, Annie Carson, Milena Zavoli, and Gloria Robinson
Charge: To increase the organization's visibility and effectiveness in the state legislature and to continue to support our efforts in Washington throughout the year.
Sherri Albers, JW Smith, Lillie Pennington, Suzanne Turner, Ivory Pattilo, Shawn Martin, Barbra Pierce, Parnell Diggs, and Mike Leiterman
Charge: To implement effective strategies to recruit and retain members and to reinvigorate the chapters and divisions of the NFB of Ohio.
Caroline Peters, Jim Wise, Chanel Hancock, William Turner, Amy Banano, Susan Day, and Annie McEachirn
PROMOTION AND PUBLICITY COMMITTEE
Charge: To promote and publicize the programs and events of the NFB of Ohio and to acquire as much positive publicity as possible for its activities.
Suzanne Turner, Wanda Sloan,Octavia Culbert, Sharon Dodds, MariLyn Piepho, Annie Carson, and Cheryl Fisher
Charge: To oversee the submission process and to write and distribute clearly articulated and philosophically sound resolutions.
Barbra Pierce, Mike Leiterman, Debra Baker, and MariLyn Piepho
Charge: To conduct the affiliate scholarship program and to develop and implement effective strategies to increase the visibility of the program and increase participation.
JW Smith, Barbara Pierce, Bob Pierce, Emily Pennington, and Lucas Cassi
WEBSITE AND NEWSLINE® COMMITTEE
Charge: To facilitate the maintenance of our website by assisting the president in updating its content. To promote and advertise NEWSLINE® among existing users and recruit new users to this program.
Rachel Kuntz, Walter Mitchel, and Robby Spangler
Editor’s Musings <>
by Barbara Pierce
As I sit down to write this column, I am preparing for my forty-first Washington Seminar. I have been to Capitol Hill several other times to talk with members of Congress, but I can remember turning Bob Eschbach down only once for the actual nationwide trip to Washington. We used to refer to these trips as our Marches on Washington, but pretty early on we changed the name because of the need to describe the activity as an educational effort. We never use the term “lobbying” because not-for-profit organizations cannot lobby. For one thing we do not have the money to buy Congressional votes, so we must depend on sweet reason in our dealings with the law-makers.
We have not always done battle with winter weather for this trip. In 1979, for example, we went to Washington in April. A handful of us went off to the Atomic Energy Commission to deliver a press release objecting to the director’s having commented during the Three Mile Island emergency that the leaders were like the blind leading the blind in the early hours of the crisis. You can imagine that we did not appreciate such a term being used to describe incompetence. I can’t remember how we were received, but I can’t imagine that they were very sensitive to our concerns at that difficult moment. But I would bet that that commissioner did not use such a pejorative phrase again.
In the good old days, when the affiliate had very little money, we drove to the Washington Seminar, starting by driving all over the state to collect the people who were going. Bob Eschbach’s daughter Mary Connyngham was one of the early drivers. In those days Ohio had twenty-one House members and our two Senators. Mostly we all went to all the meetings. I have a memory of a gathering of Ohio delegates outside an office pooling our impressions while I wrote them with a slate and stylus against a wall of the hallway. We reported on the meetings to people at the hotel, who wrote their notes on Braille cards that were filed so that Jim Gashel could consult them throughout the year.
We always had great fact sheets, but I remember designing the first folders that we used for handing the fact sheets out along with other literature about the NFB. Those presentation folders definitely professionalized our presentations.
In the early nineties we began adding other meetings to the Washington Seminar. The lawyers, merchants, and students began holding mid-winter meetings at the seminar. Then the parents began working with their members on the Sunday before we gathered on Monday for the kick-off of the seminar. There were also committee meetings in Baltimore over the preceding weekend.
One year Stevie Wunder came into our hotel during the Great Gathering-in meeting. He heard that hundreds of blind people were there, and nothing would do but that he would come down to see what was what. President Jernigan was at the mic when word arrived that Stevie Wunder wanted to talk with us. Of course we stopped what we were doing to listen to him. KJ grabbed me and told me to stick with Stevie and get him to commit to doing some spot announcements for the NFB in the coming weeks. I had no idea how to accomplish that task, but I figured that I had better get myself to the podium and stand beside him while he talked. I would say that this was the mid-eighties, so I was under forty at the time. I have no idea how old Stevie was, but he clearly thought it was more interesting to leave the platform on the arm of a woman than with his pal JJ Jackson. I don’t suppose he had any idea that I was blind, but, when he grabbed my arm to leave, I immediately began guiding him. Believe me, I was very careful not to drop him off the back edge of the steps down to the ground. JJ was having a fit at this trip. He could see well enough to see my cane, and I am sure he had visions of my causing Stevie to fall. But we got down safely, and I stuck to him like glue till we got out of the hall, and I got his agreement that we could call JJ to talk about spot announcements. I don’t know where the discussions went from there. I don’t remember any Stevie Wunder PSAs for the NFB showing up on the radio or TV afterward, but it was certainly a memorable night for me.
Our Washington Seminars today are a far cry from those early efforts. We use computers to record our reports, and we have committee lists in Braille to refer to. We are old hands at traveling to and around Capitol Hill. It is much less interesting since 9/11 and the closing of the basement of the Capitol for getting from one side of the Hill to the other. In Ohio we divide the meetings among three or four groups rather than going together. We don’t need nearly the stamina that we did in the early days. But through the years we have earned the respect of the staffers. We come with good materials, and we can discuss the issues intelligently. This is still the first volley in our campaign for legislative justice each year. We still need the help of every member back home to follow through as constituents throughout the year. No one should write off the Washington Seminar as something that a few people do every January. We are working for you and every blind Ohioan. Please prepare to do your part to make this effort effective by calling your representative to underscore our message on the Hill.
The NFB’s 2018 Legislative Program <>
by Barbara Pierce
Editor’s note: I will begin by making a plea to each of you to keep this article for reference during the remainder of this year. What follows is the four fact sheets that our eight Ohio representatives took to every Ohio office on Capitol Hill at the end of January. These are the issues that the entire national organization will be working on for the rest of this year. From time to time we will send out pleas for each of you to contact your member of Congress and the two Ohio Senators to urge some action or other. It will be much easier for you to help with this effort if you can refer to the fact sheet in question before your call or email. I cannot stress too strongly how important your support of these legislative efforts is. The first document is the cover page for the fact sheets. It is called the “Legislative Agenda of Blind Americans,” and it briefly summarizes each of the issues. Then, in the order listed in the agenda, come the four fact sheets. These are carefully written arguments. The first page states the problem we face, and the second page offers our solution to it. The bill numbers appear at the top of the fact sheet, and the contact in the primary sponsors’ offices appear at the end of each fact sheet. The very last thing on each fact sheet is the contact information for the NFB staff member with responsibility for that issue. Please carefully read each of these documents. Even if you think you understand the issue, you will benefit from reading the fact sheet again. We have stripped out the end notes from this document. If you need those references or you want to send a fact sheet to someone, go to the NFB website to view the original of the fact sheet in question or to download it.
Legislative Agenda of Blind Americans
Priorities for the 115th Congress, Second Session
The National Federation of the Blind is a community of members and friends who believe in the hopes and dreams of the nation’s blind. Every day we work together to help blind people live the lives we want.
• The Accessible Instructional Materials in Higher Education (Aim High) Act
Electronic instructional materials have replaced traditional methods of learning in postsecondary education, but the overwhelming majority of ebooks, courseware, web content, and other technologies are inaccessible to students with print disabilities. The law requires equal access in the classroom but fails to provide direction to schools for the way it applies to technology. The Aim High Act creates voluntary accessibility guidelines for educational technology to stimulate the market, improve blind students’ access to course materials, and reduce litigation for schools.
• The Access Technology Affordability Act (ATAA)
Currently, blind Americans rely on scarce sources of funding to acquire access technology. By providing a refundable tax credit for qualifying access technology purchases, Congress will stimulate individual procurement of access technology and promote affordability of these tools for blind Americans.
• Opposition to the “ADA Education and Reform Act of 2017” (H.R. 620)
The ADA Education and Reform Act of 2017 would undermine the ADA by significantly eroding equal access protections and progress made over nearly three decades.
• The Marrakesh Treaty to Facilitate Access to Published Works for Persons Who Are Blind, Visually Impaired, or Otherwise Print Disabled
Despite the ability to convert print books into accessible formats like Braille, large print, audio, and digital copies, millions of blind and otherwise print-disabled Americans are excluded from accessing 95 percent of published works. The Marrakesh Treaty will enable the cross-border exchange of accessible format copies, thereby vastly expanding the availability of accessible foreign language literature to blind and otherwise print disabled Americans.
These priorities will remove obstacles to education, employment, and access to published works. We urge Congress to support our legislative initiatives.
Accessible Instructional Materials in Higher Education Act (S. 2138/H.R. 1772) <>
Until a market-driven solution for accessible instructional materials is achieved, blind college students will be denied access to critical course content.
Technology has fundamentally changed the education system. The scope of instructional materials used at institutions of higher education has expanded. Curricular content comes in digital books, PDFs, webpages, etc., and most of this content is delivered through digital databases, learning management systems, and applications. The print world is inherently inaccessible to students with disabilities, but technology offers the opportunity to expand the circle of participation. Studies have found that, of the 6.6 million students with disabilities in grades K-12, the number who go on to pursue postsecondary education is growing.
Blind students are facing insurmountable barriers to education. Instead of fulfilling the promise of equal access, technology has created more problems than the print world ever did. Data show that students with disabilities face a variety of challenges, including matriculation and college completion failure, solely because, in the absence of clear accessibility guidelines, colleges and universities are sticking with the ad-hoc accommodations model. Currently, schools deploy inaccessible technology and then modify another version for blind students, usually weeks or even months into class, creating a “separate-but-equal” landscape with nearly impenetrable barriers. With only a 17.9 percent employment rate, compared to 65.3 percent among people without disabilities, students with disabilities should not be denied access by the innovations that can ensure full participation.
Institutions of higher education need help to identify accessible material and comply with nondiscrimination laws. Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and Titles II and III of the Americans with Disabilities Act require schools to provide equal access, and in 2010, the US Departments of Justice and Education clarified that the use of inaccessible technology is prohibited under these laws. The 2011 Aim Commission recommended to Congress that accessibility guidelines be developed for postsecondary instructional materials. In the seven years since, over a dozen institutions have faced legal action for using inaccessible technology, and complaints are on the rise. Most litigation ends with a commitment from the school to embrace accessibility, but that commitment does little in a vast, uncoordinated higher education market.
Accessibility solutions are available, but guidelines are sorely needed to stimulate the market. The Accessible Instructional Materials in Higher Education Act will bring together people with disabilities and the higher education, publishing, tech developing, and manufacturing communities to develop a stakeholder-driven solution to the issue of inaccessible instructional materials. With input from all relevant stakeholder communities mainstream accessible instructional materials can be achieved, benefitting both institutions of higher education and the students with disabilities they aim to serve.
Accessible Instructional Materials in Higher Education Act:
Develops accessibility guidelines for instructional materials used in postsecondary education. A purpose-based commission is tasked with developing accessibility criteria for instructional materials and the delivery systems/technologies used to access those materials. Additionally, the commission is tasked with developing an annotated list of existing national and international standards so that schools and developers can identify what makes a product usable by the blind.
Provides a digital accessibility roadmap for institutions of higher education. The guidelines developed by the commission will contain specific technical and functional criteria that will clearly illustrate how to make educational technologies usable by the blind and other students with print disabilities. Such criteria will prove to be beneficial to procurement officers, informational technology staff, chief technology officers, and other key personnel at institutions of higher education.
Offers flexibility for schools while reiterating that pre-existing obligations still apply. Colleges and universities are permitted to use material that does not conform to the guidelines as long as equal access laws are still honored. Conformity with the Aim High guidelines is only one path to compliance; schools can pursue a different path but in doing so will forfeit the combined expertise of the relevant stakeholder communities involved in the development of the Aim High guidelines.
REMOVE BARRIERS TO EQUALITY IN THE CLASSROOM.
Cosponsor Accessible Instructional Materials in Higher Education Act.
To cosponsor S. 2138, contact:
Samuel Weinstock, Legislative Correspondent, Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA)
Phone: (202) 224-4543, Email: samuel_weinstock at warren.senate.gov <mailto:samuel_weinstock at warren.senate.gov>
To cosponsor H.R. 1772, contact:
Jennifer Wise, Legislative Fellow, Congressman Phil Roe (R-TN)
Phone: (202) 225-6356, Email: jennifer.wise at mail.house.gov <mailto:jennifer.wise at mail.house.gov>
For more information, contact:
Gabe Cazares, Government Affairs Specialist, National Federation of the Blind
Phone: (410) 659-9314, extension 2206, Email: gcazares at nfb.org <mailto:gcazares at nfb.org>
For more information visit: www.nfb.org/aim_high <http://www.nfb.org/aim_high>
Access Technology Affordability Act (S. 732/H.R. 1734)
Increase the availability of access technology and promote affordability of that technology for blind Americans
Access technology enables blind Americans to participate in today’s connected world. Although blindness is easily measurable, it affects each person differently and at different ages. Despite these differences, manufacturers have designed various tools that enable each blind American to perform tasks that they were once unable to accomplish themselves due to their disability. Braille note takers are frequently used in schools, screen reading software allows workers to check their email at home, and screen magnification software can help seniors losing vision learn about community activities. Access technology equips blind Americans to seek employment and stay employed. For the 58 percent of blind Americans who are not in the labor market, it is a vehicle that makes possible and increases the chances of engaging in and securing employment. However, despite this critical need, public and private entities struggle to meet consumer demand. This leads to untimely delays in the delivery of crucial technology and ultimately harms the blind consumer.
The high cost of access technology creates a difficult economic reality. According to the United States Census Bureau, 72 percent of blind Americans are either unemployed or underemployed, yet most access technology continues to range from $1,000 to $6,000. For example, a leading screen reader is $900, a popular Braille note taker is $5,495, one model of a refreshable Braille display is $2,795, and a moderately priced Braille embosser is $3,695. Consequently, most blind Americans do not have sufficient financial resources needed to purchase these items. These financial barriers can ultimately lead to a loss of employment, insufficient education, or even isolation from community activities.
Medical insurance will not cover the cost of access technology. Current definitions of "medical care," "medical necessity," and "durable medical equipment" within common insurance policies do not include access technology. These definitions were adopted in the 1960s when medical care was viewed primarily as curative and palliative, with little or no consideration given to increasing an individual's functional status. Many states’ Medicaid programs and individual health insurance plans have adopted similar definitions and likewise will not cover the cost of access technology.
Access Technology Affordability Act:
The Access Technology Affordability Act provides a simple solution that will increase the availability of access technology so that blind Americans can procure these items for themselves. It establishes a refundable tax credit for blind Americans in the amount of $2,500 to be used over a three-year period to offset the cost of access technology.
Historically, Congress has created similar tax incentives (e.g., Disabled Access Credit) for business owners required to make accommodations, including access technology, for employees and patrons with disabilities. Even though Congress created these tax incentives to increase accessibility in the community, these incentives are underutilized. Meanwhile, blind Americans, for the most part, must depend on others to procure access technology for them.
There is no one-size-fits-all solution to meet the access technology needs of all blind Americans. Accessibility requires an individualized assessment of one’s own skills and needs. Therefore, blind Americans should be given the opportunity to procure access technology on their own to ensure that they are receiving the tools that are most useful for them.
REMOVE FINANCIAL BARRIERS AND INCREASE THE AVAILABILITY OF ACCESS TECHNOLOGY.
To cosponsor S. 732 in the Senate, contact:
Ryan Losak, Legislative Correspondent, Office of Senator John Boozman (R-AR)
Phone: (202)224-4843, Email: ryan_losak at boozman.senate.gov <mailto:ryan_losak at boozman.senate.gov>
To cosponsor H.R. 1734 in the House of Representatives, contact:
Jacob Olson, Legislative Director, Office of Congressman David Young (R-IA)
Phone: (202) 225-5476, Email: jacob.olson at mail.house.gov <mailto:jacob.olson at mail.house.gov>
For more information, contact:
Kimie Beverly, Government Affairs Specialist, National Federation of the Blind
Phone: (410) 659-9314, extension 2441, Email: kbeverly at nfb.org <mailto:kbeverly at nfb.org>
For more information visit www.nfb.org <http://www.nfb.org/>
Editor’s note: We lost the ADA Education and Reform Act fight in the House of Representatives. The bill was passed almost entirely by Republicans. It has not yet been introduced in the Senate, but Senator Tammy Duckworth has written a letter opposing the bill. Thirty-seven Senators have signed the letter, and we would like Sherrod Brown, at least, to add his signature to it. When the bill is introduced, we will have a fight on our hands to keep it from being passed. The arguments made below are the same ones to make in the Senate battle. If we are not to lose the ground we have gained since the ADA was passed in 1990, we must stop this bill from being passed in the Senate. You can call Senator Portman at (202) 224-3353. Senator Sherrod Brown’s phone number is (202) 224-2315.
Oppose the ADA Education and Reform Act of 2017 (H.R. 620)
The ADA Education and Reform Act of 2017 would undermine the ADA by significantly eroding equal access protections and progress made over nearly three decades.
In 1990 the landmark Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was passed with broad bipartisan support. After years of advocacy by people with disabilities and extensive negotiations with the business community, a compromise was reached which balanced the cost to businesses of accommodating people with disabilities with the desperate need to eliminate the physical and systemic barriers that were isolating them from the rest of society and denying them educational, economic, and employment opportunities. Over twenty-seven years later, while much still needs to be done, the ADA has tremendously benefitted the blind and others, with and without disabilities. The blind have more access and more ability to participate in economic and community life than we have ever had, while businesses have an expanded customer base, and many accommodations that benefit people with disabilities also benefit others. Now, H.R. 620 (and other proposed ADA “notification” or “reform” bills) threaten to bankrupt the promise of the ADA.
H.R. 620 would eliminate the right to equal access that is guaranteed by the ADA. Instead, the bill would require only that a public accommodation show “substantial progress” toward fixing an access barrier, a standard which has no clear legal definition. The introduction of this vague standard disregards the right of people with disabilities to demand an immediate remedy to an access barrier. Given that this standard is not clearly defined, a business may be able to create a quick partial remedy to an access barrier, not a real solution. For the blind, this could mean continued inaccessibility in online shopping or digital banking platforms, as well as the inability to maintain the privacy of medical information that other people have during visits to the doctor’s office, or to independently peruse the menu choices at a restaurant.
H.R. 620 would undermine the ADA by eroding the threat of litigation, and thereby eliminate a major incentive for compliance. Under the bill, a covered business need not comply with its existing obligations under the ADA at all until receiving a detailed letter from a person with a disability who experienced an access barrier. The business will then be required only to achieve “substantial progress” in remedying the barrier to avoid a lawsuit. The result will be that many businesses will never need to fully comply with the ADA, despite being notified of access barriers that have been experienced by their potential patrons.
This bill is founded on inaccuracies and misunderstandings. Proponents of H.R. 620 argue that the bill is necessary because of the existence of “drive-by lawsuits” designed to exploit Title III of the ADA. This argument has no researched data behind it and rests entirely on anecdotes and ``sensationalized media stories. There is also confusion as to whether the ADA permits litigants to seek monetary damages under Title III lawsuits, which it does not.
The Americans with Disabilities Act:
The ADA is already a compromise that is designed to acknowledge the concerns of the business community. It explicitly states that any remedy must be “readily achievable” if the access barrier exists in an establishment that predates passage of the bill (1990). The “readily achievable” standard considers the difficulty of the remedy as well as the expense and relationship to the structure of the establishment in question. In addition to this standard, there are provisions within Title III that require certain factors to be considered when determining obligations to undertake Title III remedies, such as the size of the business and the financial resources available to the business.
The federal government already provides extensive educational and technical assistance resources to aid businesses with their ADA compliance obligations. The following resources make Section 2 of H.R. 620 redundant:
• Ten regional ADA centers, funded by a grant from the Department of Health and Human Services, that provide technical assistance, trainings, and other resources for businesses;
• An ADA hotline for businesses to call, operated by the Department of Justice; and
• An ADA website, containing numerous resources, tools, and information for businesses.
The Department of Justice already facilitates mediation and alternative dispute resolution mechanisms. When the ADA was enacted nearly thirty years ago, Congress encouraged the use of mediation as a way to resolve disputes. To that end, the Department of Justice refers ADA disputes to professional mediators specifically trained in the requirements of the ADA. This mediation is provided at no charge, making Section 5 of H.R. 620 unnecessary.
CONTINUE SUPPORTING EQUAL ACCESS AND OPPORTUNITY FOR BLIND AMERICANS WHILE ALSO AVOIDING WASTEFUL AND DUPLICATIVE PROGRAMS AT TAXPAYER EXPENSE.
Oppose H.R. 620.
For more information, contact:
Dylan Hedtler-Gaudette, Government Affairs Specialist, National Federation of the Blind
Phone: (410) 659-9314, extension 2210, Email: dhedtler-gaudette at nfb.org <mailto:dhedtler-gaudette at nfb.org>
Editor’s note: For now the following issue is relevant only to the Senate, where treaties are ratified. Recently the Marrakesh Treaty Implementation Act, S. 2559, has been introduced in the Senate with Chuck Grassley, Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee; Bob Corker, Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee; and Dianne Feinstein, a leading Democrat, as initial cosponsors. This is a very good sign for passage, but it does mean that we need to lean on both Robert Portman and Sherrod Brown, our Ohio Senators, to cosponsor and support this bill. Please contact both offices to urge them to sign onto this bill. The message is to cosponsor S. 2559. The fact sheet below tells the story of why they should do so. Both offices have already received this fact sheet. The aides we spoke to are Angelique Salizan in Brown’s office and Seth Gold in Portman’s office. You can use the phone numbers above or write an email to the aide at Angelique_salizan at brown.senate.gov <mailto:Angelique_salizan at brown.senate.gov> or seth_gold at portman.senate.gov <mailto:seth_gold at portman.senate.gov>. Please help. Here is the final fact sheet:
The Marrakesh Treaty to Facilitate Access to Published Works for Persons Who Are Blind, Visually Impaired, or Otherwise Print Disabled (Marrakesh Treaty) <>
An international copyright treaty will give blind Americans access to millions of published works and improve the distribution of books around the globe.
Millions of Americans are being denied access to published works. Despite the ability to convert print books into accessible formats like Braille, audio, and digital copies, over 95 percent of published works are unavailable to people with print disabilities. Literacy and equal participation in society are critical elements of a fulfilling and independent life, but until uniformity is built into the international copyright system, blind Americans will be excluded from accessing published works on terms of equality. A blind student seeking to learn Spanish will likely struggle to find an accessible format in that language; a work printed in English may have already been converted into an accessible format overseas, but because copies are not exchanged across borders, domestic entities might need to make a duplicate copy or just might deny access altogether by failing to reproduce the work.
An uncoordinated legal approach prevents the cross-border exchange of accessible books. Unlike the United States, where copyright law includes the Chafee Amendment and other exceptions, roughly two-thirds of the world’s nations do not have domestic copyright laws that permit making copies for the blind, limiting the number of works available in an accessible format. Moreover, many countries consider distribution of accessible copies an infringement as well, and even amongst nations that permit distribution, limitations vary. Instead of exchanging books across borders, works are needlessly duplicated, and circulation is significantly limited.
The Marrakesh Treaty was adopted to achieve this goal. On June 27, 2013, a diplomatic conference convened by the World Intellectual Property Organization, (WIPO) in Morocco adopted the Marrakesh Treaty with enthusiastic support from the US delegation. The treaty, signed by the United States on October 2, 2013, currently has eighty-eight signatories, has been ratified by thirty-three countries, and has entered into force as of September 30, 2016.
The Marrakesh Treaty has broad stakeholder support. Blind people should have full and equal access to all works that enrich lives, further education, and share critical information; the treaty balances this priority with the interests of rights holders. WIPO’s adoption of the Marrakesh Treaty was supported by American-based companies the international publishing community, legal experts, and blindness advocates. The treaty will have tangible benefits for all involved. This is why the Senate must act swiftly to ratify the Marrakesh Treaty and why Congress must pass its associated implementing legislation immediately.
The Marrakesh Treaty calls for contracting parties to provide in their national copyright laws for a limitation or exception that allows for the:
Reproduction of works by an authorized entity for the purposes of converting them into accessible format copies exclusively for beneficiary persons.
Distribution of accessible format copies exclusively to beneficiary persons
Import of accessible format copies for the purposes of making them available domestically
Export of accessible format copies for the purposes of making them available to a beneficiary person in another country
REMOVE BARRIERS TO ACCESS OF PUBLISHED WORKS.
Support ratification of the Marrakesh Treaty.
For more information, contact:
Gabe Cazares, Government Affairs Specialist, National Federation of the Blind
Phone: (410) 659-9314, extension 2206, Email: gcazares at nfb.org <mailto:gcazares at nfb.org>
The Pre-Authorized Contribution Plan Yesterday and Today <>
by Barbara Shaidnagle
Editor’s note: Ohio is lucky that longtime Federationist Barbara Shaidnagle has recently retired to Ohio. Some of us knew her late husband Joe. The Shaidnagles have always been active in the organization wherever they have lived. Barbara came to the state convention, where she made herself useful throughout the weekend. But she was distressed to note that we spent no time at all talking about the Pre-Authorized Contribution (PAC) Plan and encouraging people to sign up or increase their PAC contributions. Richard Payne immediately invited her to get busy talking up the PAC Plan. Here is her recollection of the early days of this program and her plea for us to become active in it. This is what she says:
I met E.U. Parker on my first visit to Laurel, Mississippi, shortly after becoming engaged to Joe in 1974. At some point he told us all about the Preauthorized Check Plan he had devised as a means of giving money to the National Federation of the Blind. Richard "Dick" Edlund, then the NFB’s National Treasurer, renowned for stepping up to the microphone and introducing himself by simply saying, "P.O. Box 11185" to send the crowd into a frenzy, called the program "painless," and indeed it was, once Joe and I signed on, probably for the very minimum of $2.50. That amount would eventually increase, and Dick and E.U. were right: we never missed the money that we would otherwise have spent on pizza or something equally transient.
I knew that PAC money was used for projects like bailing out Federationists who might have been removed from airplanes against their will for sitting in the exit row and being fined for doing such a thing or helping fund trips to Washington, then called "The March on Washington," to inform Senators and Representatives about what the National Federation of the Blind needed them to do to assure security, equality, and opportunity for their blind constituents. It was even used to help people on the local level get to their state capital to talk to legislators on issues of concern to the blind.
Eventually Joe and I were able to attend National Conventions, and during the Financial Report we heard the PAC money amount raised, heard the amount of money the NFB spent helping blind people, and suddenly I realized--our money did that!
People tend to get enthusiastic during a state or national convention and sign up for the PAC plan, then decide, not that they have made a mistake, but that perhaps they should not have signed up to allow so much money to come out of their account. Well, there is nothing wrong in decreasing the amount withdrawn. The NFB is a proponent of, not "giving till it hurts," but "giving till it helps." And every amount, no matter how small you think it is, helps: helps college students insist on the right to have an accessible test; helps blind children to get a Braille instructor once a week; or helps someone to go to the national convention for the first time. These are just small examples. You might have heard or read about something great happening for a blind person, success with a lawsuit for example. PAC money was probably involved with that.
So you see, PAC is very important. Please think about signing up on the PAC Plan, for an amount that will be painless and will go towards helping blind people live the life they want. Here is the link you can follow to print the form to send to the national office: https://nfb.org/images/nfb/documents/pdf/pac-form-fillout-accessible.pdf <https://nfb.org/images/nfb/documents/pdf/pac-form-fillout-accessible.pdf>
Meet the Blind Month and White Cane Awareness Day in Cincinnati <>
by Annie McEachirn Carson
Editor’s note: Annie Carson is the Cincinnati chapter’s Recreation Chairperson and Event Coordinator. The following story is her description of an event last October. She provides a great pattern for other chapters to celebrate Meet the Blind Month. This is what she says:
What follows is the story of The Meet the Blind Month and White Cane Awareness Day event held by the National Federation of the Blind of Cincinnati last October. I was assisted in the planning of this celebration by Sheri Albers, NFB of Ohio Vice President and member of the Cincinnati Chapter, Walter Mitchell, Chairman of the Cincinnati Fundraising Committee, and Kim McEachirn, member of the Cincinnati Recreation and Fundraising committees. The organizing of this event began in the summer of 2017. During this time Kim McEachirn came up with the idea of producing a T-shirt including a special design: a blue eye with “Meet the Blind” above the eye and “Mind to Mind” below it. With the support of the fundraising committee, Kim and I met with a designer, Tommy Rueff, Director of Happen, Inc. and a local T-shirt manufacturer who transformed Kim’s dream into reality, completing the order of 100 T-shirts. These unique T-shirts would be sold as a fundraiser for the local chapter by request and during our event.
In September I arranged for Sheri Albers and me to participate in a thirty-minute interview conducted by Robert Harris with Cincinnati City Cable. A summary of the National Federation of the Blind, the Cincinnati Chapter’s Meet the Blind Month, and White Cane Awareness Day event were discussed. See the link for the complete interview. https://vimeo.com/234562206 <https://vimeo.com/234562206>
After the success of the video on Cable TV, internet, and Facebook, the planning committee became more excited about our vision for the Meet the Blind Month and White Cane Awareness Day event scheduled on October 2.
Over the following weeks, invitations were sent to the Clovernook Center for the Blind, the Cincinnati Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired, and the general public through a variety of social media outlets. Traditionally, the opening ceremony for the Meet the Blind Month and White Cane Awareness Day had begun at City Hall; therefore, as in previous years, we felt it important to involve a city official in reading the Meet the Blind Month and White Cane Safety Day proclamations. Vice Mayor David Mann, who seemed honored to read the proclamations to a crowd of more than 50 attendees, spoke passionately about his own personal connection between family and community. As a father of a hearing-impaired daughter and a husband whose wife, Betsy, volunteers her time in doing audio description for the blind at Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, David Mann is well aware of the individual’s need to achieve and willingness to serve.
Leading up to the event on October 2, the planning team focused on all of the intricate details in order to bring the event to fruition. Several volunteers from organizations such as Cincinnati City Cable, Happen, Inc., Cancer Justice Network, Inc., Clovernook Center for the Blind, the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, Davis Cookie Collection, Chick-Fil-a, Graeter’s, and the Friends of the African Union supported the National Federation of the Blind of Ohio Cincinnati Chapter by donating their skills, talents, and resources.
With the use of excellent sound systems at both City Hall and Fountain Square, the team shared their message with those near and far. Beautifully designed programs were created and handed out to some of the sighted friends and to David Mann.
Due to the tragedy in Las Vegas, I started the ceremony with a moment of silence for those killed or injured during the mass shooting, after which I officially welcomed everyone to our celebration with the purpose of sharing that blind people desire to use their skills and talents and to be independent to go and come at their convenience. NFB Cincinnati chapter Vice President Lisa Hall read (from Braille) a brief history of Meet the Blind Month and White Cane Awareness Day, David Mann read the proclamations, and Lillie Pennington, Cincinnati Chapter member, sang “Glory, Glory Federation” with the crowd enthusiastically joining the chorus. As I thanked David Mann on behalf of the NFB, I presented him with a T-shirt. The program finished with Sheri Albers inviting the crowd to join in the white cane walk to Fountain Square in downtown Cincinnati.
The walk to Fountain Square, led by Sheri, was pleasant and well organized. Several sighted volunteers walked alongside NFB members. Upon arrival at Fountain Square, friend and volunteer Cassy Kohs took several pictures to commemorate the special event. I then introduced the recreation committee and fundraising committee, and Lisa Hall read a Braille copy of each of the proclamations. Sheri and I then led the group in the one-minute message of NFB. For the next two hours Walter Mitchell and Kim McEachirn spread the organization’s message by periodic announcements over the sound system while NFB friends/volunteers Lisa, Julie, and Cassy helped sell T-shirts. Jean Selvidge, sighted member of the NFB, was diligent in providing literature to the public and also assisting in the sale of the T-shirts.
The Cincinnati Chapter is truly grateful for the 50-plus attendees that participated in the event. Some of these attendees included many of the Cincinnati Federation Family, Dr. Carolyn Peters, the President of the Miami Valley Chapter and state board member, and Gloria Robinson from the same chapter, Sam Foulkes and several blind co-workers from Clovernook Center for the Blind, the community relations team from the Cincinnati Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired, volunteers, and visitors. Together, we did it! “With love, hope, and determination,” we achieved our goal.
Farewell to Aidan Carter <>
by Eric Duffy
Editor’s note: On Monday, January 8, word shot around the affiliate of the sudden death of Aidan Carter, one of our BELL students from year 1 of the program. Everyone was incredulous and grief-stricken at the news. Aidan had a uniquely deep and cheerful voice. Just thinking of him brings back his happy, teasing presence. Probably the person closest to Aidan in the program was Eric Duffy, who always establishes a joking and affectionate report with kids. It is fitting that we asked Eric, who was president of the affiliate and coordinator of the BELL Program in its early years, to write this recollection of Aidan Carter:
When we begin a new program in the National Federation of the Blind, we don’t understand fully how it will affect the lives of those with whom we work. What’s more, we don’t understand the way what we do will affect our own lives. When we held the first Braille Enrichment for Literacy and Learning (BELL) Program in Columbus, we thought a lot about how we could make life better for blind children. We were going to teach them Braille or help them improve their Braille skills. We were going to be mentors and role models for them. But we didn’t consider what they were going to do for us.
They challenged us to think about teaching and learning in new ways. They pushed us to be even better mentors and role models than we thought it was possible to be. They tested our endurance levels as we struggled to keep up with them.
But boy, did they give back! Their desire to learn was infectious. They were delighted to be around blind people like themselves. They were ready to take on the world and meet the challenges of life, no matter what they were. This was definitely true for Aidan Carter.
Aidan had multiple disabilities, but nothing was going to stop him. I spent a lot of break time with Aidan racing up and down the hallways. He often told me that I was going to jail or that I was under arrest. Aidan was an honorary sheriff because of the work he did in the community even as a young child. Aidan’s purpose in life was to make all whom he came in contact with smile. That he did. He had a business card that said he was a smileologist. I told him he was a fake sheriff.
As I was leaving Ohio for New Jersey, I knew it was not possible to see all of the BELL kids to let them know I would not be at the next program. I did have the opportunity to spend some time with Aidan. Much to my surprise, when I met him at the school for the blind, he had a few things for me. He gave me a necklace he had made, some chocolate, and a bottle of Coke. These were things Aidan knew I liked.
Last summer he came back to the BELL Academy as a volunteer because he had aged out of the program. Aidan was a happy kid, who seemed never to have a bad day. We know he did because we all do. Aidan just went through life determined to be cheerful and to do what he could to help others. I can’t count how many times I have heard him ask, “How can I help, What can I do, What do you need?”
We do the work we do to support BELL, and we change the lives of blind children, but they change our lives in immeasurable ways as well. Aidan turned 15 on December 30. He changed his corner of the world for the better in ways that many will not, even if they live to be 115.
I am glad to have known Aidan Carter, and I am proud to have been his friend and grateful that he was mine.
Here are words from his Pastor:
My dear friends,
It is with great sadness that I share the news that our dear and beloved friend Aidan Carter passed away last night. Aidan died of apparent complications of the flu. Service details will be forthcoming after the family meets with Spence Funeral Home tomorrow. Please hold Heidi, Todd, and Kendall in your prayers. Please also hold each other in prayer as we grieve the loss of this most amazing friend in our life together. Blessings on us all in these days.
My love to you all,
I was touched by the funeral service; I got to listen to the live stream. There were great stories and funny stories that involved Aidan. It was clear that he was an important part of his church community. Through the stories that were told, Aidan made people smile even during a time of sorrow.
I am grateful to Richard Payne and the National Federation of the Blind of Ohio for making a contribution to the Ohio State School for the Blind in Aidan’s memory. Here is the thank you that the affiliate received:
On behalf of the students, staff, and faculty at the Ohio State School for the Blind, we want to thank you for your very generous donation of $50.00 to the OSSB-Parent, Teacher, Student Foundation memorial fund honoring our amazing student, classmate, and friend--Aidan Carter.
Since the first day he came to our campus, he quickly warmed his way into the hearts of everyone with his ready smile and positive attitude about life. In fact, his motto was printed on business cards that he handed out to those he met--Aidan Carter, Smile-ologist Extraordinaire. "If you've lost yours, I'll help you find it." Aidan made an impact on his peers and the staff at OSSB on a daily basis with his loving spirit. We are grateful for your donation, which will allow us to provide educational programming that was meaningful to Aidan and his family, while providing some tangible way for all of us to remember him in our hearts.
Thank you for supporting us as we celebrate Aidan's life, his family, and the powerful impact they have had on our school community.
LVK [Laurie V. Kaplin]
Joel Vlazzoli, Treasurer
Aidan Carter, you brought a smile and joy to the lives of everyone you knew. I for one will never forget you. Rest in peace, you old fake sheriff.
Ronnie Leeth’s Gone Fishin’ <>
Editor’s note. The following story by Brian Albrecht appeared in the Plain Dealer on August 14, 2014. Cheryl Fields sent it to the Buckeye Bulletin in January of this year. It was so charming that we could not resist sharing it with our readers. Here it is:
Joe Temkiewicz had a hard time believing it as Ronnie Leeth recently pulled fish after fish from a northwest Ontario lake, apparently guided by pure instinct, since Leeth is blind. Temkiewicz, sixty-eight, of Sheffield Village, had taken Leeth and another visually impaired Vietnam vet on an all-expenses-paid, week-long fishing trip starting Aug. 1 to one of his favorite angling areas in Canada.
"He outfished me. I never saw anybody with the touch that Leeth has," Temkiewicz said. "He'd say, 'I feel one swimming by,' and sure enough, bang! there's a walleye every time. After about twenty times, I really believed he could feel the fish swimming by."
Leeth also pulled in a real whopper, a forty-one-inch Northern pike, giving Temkiewicz the verbal ammo to fire good-natured jabs at other anglers, saying, "Hey, if a blind guy can catch a forty-one-incher, how big a one can you catch?" It was just the kind of banter and experiences Temkiewicz had in mind when he first got the idea for the trip more than two years ago. The zoning administrator and building inspector for Sheffield Village had served with the Army in Vietnam from 1967-68. He said, "I just feel lucky. I came out pretty much unscathed, physically and mentally. A lot of guys didn't, and haven't had a life as settled as my own. So I thought maybe this would be a good thing to do."
He contacted a fishing resort, Hidden Bay Lodge, which offered to fly in the vets and provide them with free food and fishing gear. Temkiewicz, a past commander of Amvets Post 55, said that post and VFW Post 8686, both in Sheffield Lake, raised funds to provide $4,000 to cover trip expenses. The hardest part was finding vets to take. Timkiewicz said it didn't matter what era they came from or which branch of service. "If you were disabled 80 percent or more, then you're going," he said. "It didn't matter if you were in a wheelchair, blind, or lost a limb. I wanted to take somebody who'd never be able to make this trip on their own." He sought potential candidates from area VA facilities and doctors who treated veterans, but was told that although they'd pass along his offer, they couldn't give him any names due to patient confidentiality rules.
Timkiewicz finally found Leeth, fifty-eight, of Cleveland, an Air Force Vietnam-era vet, and Wayne Comstock, sixty-five, a resident of the Ohio Veterans Home in Sandusky and a Marine who served in Vietnam. Both are visually impaired, but that loss is not service-related.
Timkiewicz--joined by Mike Vaborski, Ron Krall, and Brad Rauscher, all of Sheffield Lake–drove twenty-two hours to the resort, where they then took a forty-five-minute flight to a remote fishing cabin on a lake. He had high praise for the Hidden Bay Lodge staff, who made sure they had homemade pies and cookies before flying off into the wilderness. "They treated us fantastic," he said. The vets spent four days mostly fishing–morning, afternoon, and evening. "I didn't know how they'd handle it, especially Ronnie, but he wanted to go fishing every minute of the day," Timkiewicz recalled. "He had a guide dog, she'd never been able to go swimming before, and I think she had a better time than Ronnie." It was a completely new experience for Leeth. "I've never done anything like that before. There were no stores, no cars, no nothing. Just us and nature," he said. "It was unbelievable. To be able to go out and catch that many fish, and come back to the dock and filet them, cook them, and eat them, fresh out of the water, not only one day but everyday, was just awesome," he added.
And yes, there was something extrasensory about his fishing. "It was just a natural thing. I could feel them when they were down there. I don't know how, but I knew," he said. "Joe would say, 'How did you do that?' And I'd say, 'I don't know, but don't move, here they come.' I amazed myself," he added.
Leeth is a student at Cuyahoga Community College, studying human services, and plans to open a nonprofit senior adult care facility in Cleveland named after his mother, Othella House. When it got too dark to fish, Leech studied. "It was very peaceful up there. No phone, no TV, no distractions. So I got a lot of studying done," he said.
There also was campfire talk. As Timkiewicz noted, "We didn't talk about the service. We talked about life–how we got there, what we did when we were younger. Just getting to know each other."
Leeth also fondly remembered the "talking and communicating, just bonding." He said Comstock, the other Vietnam vet, was quiet at first. "He was not saying nothing. Then he came out of his shell and fished and was talking and laughing and joking with us," Leeth recalled. "That was the amazing part, to see him open up. That was beautiful."
Comstock said "the whole trip was pleasurable – the lake itself, the cabin, the fishing. I thought it was very nice of them to take me." Both he and Leeth also got their own fishing gear, in case they get a chance to go angling again. Leeth said he'd go again in a heartbeat. Only next time, one thing he learned from this trip was: "Use better insect repellent."
Temkiewicz also was happy with the results, though he noted he wasn't initially aware of all the attention that had to be paid to the basics of everyday life when dealing with a visually impaired person. Little things, like making sure the table was always set exactly the same way, so they always knew where to reach for things. "Everything went better than what I thought it would be for them," he said. "It was trying, but it was worth it. Absolutely."
Wellness Tips <>
by Suzanne Turner
Editor’s note: Suzanne Turner is president of the Cleveland chapter. She has asked to provide a brief tip in each newsletter. She has a master’s degree in public administration and a Bachelor’s degree in social work. She is a Quality Care Navigator for Medical Mutual. This is what she says:
Mindfulness is a tool you can use to cope with stress. To be mindful is to pay attention, to be present, and to be accepting. By training your mind to focus only on the present, you can learn how not to get lost in regrets and worries. Click on the word “mindfulness” above and learn more.
Buckeye Briefs <>
This year's state convention will be held November 2, 3, and 4 at the Holiday Inn Cleveland-Strongsville Hotel, located at 15471 Royalton Road, Strongsville, Ohio 44136. The room rates are $82 per night with free breakfast. Shuttle service from the bus station to the Holiday Inn will also be provided. This hotel is cozier, which will fit with the plans for our 2018 convention.
The National Convention will be held July 3 through July 8, 2018, at the Rosen Shingle Creek Resort, 9939 Universal Boulevard, Orlando, Florida 32819-9357. Reservations can be made directly with the hotel at (866) 996-6338. The hotel will want a deposit of $100 for each room and will want a credit card number or a personal check. If you use a credit card, the deposit will be charged against your card immediately, just as would be the case with a $100 check. If a reservation is cancelled before Friday, June 1, 2018, half of the deposit will be returned. Otherwise refunds will not be made. Convention registration with the NFB National will be available after March 1 through the National website, www.nfb.org <http://www.nfb.org/>.
Longtime leader in the Cincinnati area Deborah Kendrick wrote to report changes in the leadership in that chapter. She has been president for four years, but she has now stepped down in a general cut-back in demands on her time. Unfortunately, she then rebroke her leg in a fall. So she is back in Florida recovering. David Perry and Kim McEachirn also left the chapter board, as did Lisa Hall, who had filled in admirably for Deborah while she was recovering. The new officers as of January are president, Sheri Albers; vice president, Deanna Lewis; treasurer, Emily Pennington; secretary, Christopher Sabine; and board members, Paul Jordan, Annie McEachirn Carson, and Paul Dressell. Congratulations to all.
On Friday, January 26, 2018, Chris Faust, CEO and President of Clovernook Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired, selected Lisa Hall as Blind Employee of the Year. She will be representing Clovernook in Washington, D.C. in April for the National Industries for the Blind Conference. Lisa has been a proofreader at Clovernook for eleven-and-a-half years. Congratulations to Lisa from the entire NFB of Ohio family.
We are delighted to report that Jordy Stringer is a new independent living specialist with the Southeastern Ohio Center for Independent Living (SOCIL). He will be coordinating and managing the programs and activities to increase and promote independence for people with a disability residing in Hocking County. Because he is a blind person, he knows very well the barriers that keep people with disabilities from reaching their highest socio-economic potential. He urges people to contact him with questions about independent living services at office: (740) 280-1475 or cell: (740) 422-9177.
News from the Cleveland Chapter: The following are the 2018 officers of the NFB of Cleveland: president, Suzanne M. Turner; vice president, Rosa Jones; secretary, Cheryl Fields; treasurer, Natassha Ricks; and Board members, Theresa McKinney, Shirley Patterson, Octavia Colbert, and Robert Campbell. Congratulations to these hard-working officers.
The Cleveland chapter’s Community Engagement Committee kicked off 2018 by hosting Louis Braille’s 209th birthday celebration with Saint Adelbert Elementary School in Cleveland. Cleveland chapter members introduced Braille to two kindergarten classes, two first grade classes, and two third grade classes on January 10, 2018.
The chapter would like to announce several honors. The chapter honored former president William H. Turner for his ten years of chapter leadership at the Holiday Celebration. This honor was a surprise to William, whose family was present. He was given a plaque and Owen McCafferty streamed the event live on Facebook. Congratulations to William.
Member Ronnie Leeth Graduated from the University of Akron with a degree in social work. Ali Benmerzouga was honored as the 2017 Tutor of the Year by North Coast Education Services of Solon, Ohio.
Cleveland now has a listserv. You can go to nfbOH-Cleveland at hnfb.org to check it out.
In January Ronnie Leeth of the Cleveland chapter was chosen as an Honors level recipient for Learning Ally's Mary Oenslager Scholastic Achievement Award, which means he received a $1,000 scholarship. Congratulations.
Congratulations also to Cleveland chapter member Regina Dorfmeyer. Two of her paintings were selected by Accessible Expressions Ohio Celebrating Life through Art. From photography to music, painting, drawing, dance and movement, VSA Ohio works to promote the enrichment of art for all abilities across all artistic media.The organization works to change perceptions about ability and disability by helping connect people to accessible, creative opportunities.
Colleen Roth, president of the At-Large Chapter, writes to report that the chapter has a new vice president as of the October 27 meeting. LuAnn Bowers from Liberty Center was elected. Congratulations to Luan.
BSVI Partners on Finding Pathways in Higher Education: Finding the way around the campus at Columbus State Community College is getting easier, thanks to a pilot project between Opportunities for Ohioans with Disabilities and Columbus State Community College (CSCC). Audible instructions are now available to anyone using an IOS-based smart phone app called BlindSquare. These announcements offer details such as bus stops, unmarked street crossings, or temporary construction sites, as well as providing indoor navigation throughout CSCC campus buildings. “BlindSquare combines data from GPS outdoors and Bluetooth beacons inside campus buildings for seamless navigation,” says Sarah Kelly, the OOD program administrator who mastered the coding and other skills needed to get this highly customized system going. The project goal involves not only navigating the campus, but also being able to get to campus from several miles out in all directions through the BlindSqEvent app, a free version of BlindSquare available to anyone with an iPhone. The app targets travelers with wayfinding challenges, such as vision or cognitive impairments, with the goal of facilitating independent travel. This technology offers increased independence to the hundreds of students receiving services from CSCC’s Office of Disability Services. Customized QR codes also make signage accessible to those with literacy barriers. BSVI hopes to expand this technology access to other Ohio campuses in the future, so stay tuned.
Upcoming Events: June 8, 2PM-6PM, attend National Federation of the Blind Cleveland’s Afternoon Senior Gala, Mitchell’s Restaurant and Lounge, 24900 Euclid Avenue, Euclid. Purchase $35 tickets by May 20. Includes live music, food, and door prizes, plus guest speaker Barbara Pierce, President of NFB Ohio Senior Division.
An off-year reunion for OSSB alumni is coming the week-end of June 29 to July 1 at DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Columbus-Worthington, 175 Hutchinson Avenue, Columbus. This get-together is open to anyone who has ever attended OSSB, not just graduates. For attendee questions and/or program suggestions, email mfoster100 at gmail.com <mailto:mfoster100 at gmail.com>.
Announcements: Universal Low Vision, one of Ohio’s major assistive technology distributors, has moved from Grandview to its new address: 200 East Campus View Blvd., Suite 200, Columbus, OH 43235. Please take note for future visits. Phones and emails have remained the same, as well as its website: https://www.ulva.com/ <https://www.ulva.com/>.
Opportunities for Ohioans with Disabilities (OOD) offers a streamlined application/ job portal called OOD works.com. This website allows applicants to learn more about what vocational rehabilitation is, take a self-assessment, apply for services, and make updates such as contact information. Any Ohioan interested in vocational rehabilitation resources may visit www.OODWorks.com.
The following blog provides advice, location, and what-to-do resources on college fairs for high schoolers deciding where and what to study. https://choosework.ssa.gov/blog/2018-03-06-attending-a-college-fair <https://choosework.ssa.gov/blog/2018-03-06-attending-a-college-fair>
This blog gives specific details and other valuable information for those on SSI or SSDI who are interested in return to work using the Ticket to Work program.
AFB CareerConnect has launched the Transition to College: Program Activity Guide for students with vision loss considering post-secondary education to achieve career goals. It includes 24 activities available online, in printable format, and in downloadable UEB braille. Details and free download here: https://www.afb.org/blog/careerconnect-blog/introducing-the-transition-to-college-program-activity-guide-for-students-with-visual-impairments/12 <https://www.afb.org/blog/careerconnect-blog/introducing-the-transition-to-college-program-activity-guide-for-students-with-visual-impairments/12>.
As you write your resume and prepare for job interviews, do you know how to discuss gaps in your employment history? This blog discusses tips for how to address these issues in your resume, in a cover letter, and during a job interview. https://choosework.ssa.gov/blog/2018-03-22-addressing-employment-gaps-during-job-search <https://choosework.ssa.gov/blog/2018-03-22-addressing-employment-gaps-during-job-search>.
Activities Calendar <>
April 23, conference call board meeting, NFB-O Board of Directors
May 6, Flying Pig Marathon in Cincinnati
June 1, Deadline NFB of Ohio Scholarship applications
July 3-8, NFB Convention, Orlando, Florida
October, Meet the Blind Month
October 15, White Cane Awareness Day
November 2-4, NFB of Ohio convention, Strongsville
More information about the Ohio-Talk