By Cathy Long, PCB Secretary
The first convention general session started in the evening on Thursday, October 15, 2015. President Tony Swartz addressed us. Tony spoke about TheReImage site and the need to educate the sighted world about our capabilities. Tony stated regrettably, he has failed to develop a reliable source of a funding stream for PCB. This must come from a marketing of a product or service. Tony has a prototype of an accessible game. He asked people to look at it, play with it, and make recommendations.
John Horst, Director of Community Affairs, provided an update about the PCB office, noting that our Administrative Secretary, Christina Heintzelman would be staffing the registration desk throughout the convention.
Justin Laffey, Assistive Technology Specialist for the PA Bureau of Blindness and Visual Services presented information about his life and his work. When Justin started at the agency, his first responsibility was to work with students at the Summer Academy. He found it rewarding to see students excel and discover what assistive technology truly works for them. These students bond during their time together, because often they have never associated with another student with visual impairment or blindness. He reviewed the agency’s mission statement and discussed the fact that services to become independent should start in childhood. He believes universal design is gaining ground. He gave examples of how accessibility functions can be used by everyone, not just for people with disabilities.
During the remainder of the session, Rose Martin gave the first reading of the bylaws while Carla Hayes read the proposed resolution on SSDI funding. Sue Lichtenfels and Tom Reid discussed TheReImage Project and gave pointers on navigating the pcb1.org website. Rose Martin read the evening’s announcements.
Friday’s general session began in mid-afternoon. Chapters were thanked for their financial sponsorship of certain events.
During the Candidates Forum we heard from Sue Lichtenfels, Jule Ann Lieberman, Roberta (Bobbi) Simmons, Michael Zaken, Thomas Reid, Joseph Wassermann, Mary Anne Cowfer, Lisa Salinger, and Brent Kessler.
Next, Lisa Salinger provided a motivational talk entitled “Empower Yourself to Learn Anything.” She stated we are either moving forward or backward. Even when it doesn’t appear that we are making progress, we are one way or the other. We need to continue learning as long as we live.
Jule Ann Lieberman announced the first-timers attending this convention. There were thirteen individuals announced. Jule Ann spoke about the monthly conference call for at-large members.
Next, we had a very brief talk from someone representing Vanda Pharmaceuticals, and the Non-24 medication available.
The Saturday morning general session started with the State of Advocacy report from George Holliday. This was followed by a presentation by Doug Williams and Susan Hart regarding the status of students served by the Intermediate Units and teachers of the visually impaired. They discussed caseload sizes, amount of time provided to each student, whether needs are being met, and how PCB can help. The Education and Employment Committee arranged for these speakers. Next the Technology Access Committee discussed and explained the process of paying bills over the phone, on line, and more. The morning ended with an hour-long presentation by Elaine Welch, Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Association for the Blind. She discussed building partnerships and gave examples.
The Saturday afternoon session began with committee reports, most of which are offered later in this issue. Michael Zaken presented the Treasurer’s report and proposed budget. A motion was made to accept the 2016 budget as presented to us. Motion was seconded and it passed unanimously.
Sue Lichtenfels gave the Site Selection report which included three bids for our 2017 conference.
1. Doubletree Resort in Lancaster with an overnight rate of $119. This has a restaurant on site and a shuttle from the Greyhound and Amtrak stops.
2. Holiday Inn in center city Allentown with an overnight rate of $99. It is close to a Greyhound stop but without Amtrak service.
3. Doubletree in Greentree, Pittsburgh with a rate of $99 per night. The location is accessible to Amtrak, Greyhound, and Megabus.
Lancaster and Pittsburgh could also host us in 2018 for the same price. Motion was made and seconded to use Pittsburgh. It passed. Because Pittsburgh is undergoing management change, we were asked to select a second choice. A motion was made to accept Allentown as the second choice. It was seconded but was defeated. A motion was made and seconded to accept Lancaster as the second choice. This motion also was defeated. Therefore, the Board will be making the choice, if we need to go with a second choice. Membership is aware of this. Tony summarized what we have agreed to.
Elections took place with the following individuals voted in by acclamation: President, Susan Lichtenfels; First Vice-President, Jule Ann Lieberman; Second Vice-President, Roberta (Bobbi) Simmons; Treasurer, Michael Zaken. Nomination from the floor was made to elect Jackie Wissinger as Secretary. She was voted in by acclamation. Note: Mrs. Wissinger was not on the slate for Candidates’ Forum, but this position was filled by a nomination from the floor, which she accepted. Vacant board positions were filled as follows: Two-year term: Thomas Reid, Joseph Wassermann, Mary Ann Cowfer, and Lisa Salinger. One-year terms: Brent Kessler, and George Holliday.
Resolution 2015-1 regarding the future funding of the Social Security Disability Insurance Trust fund passed unanimously by acclamation. This resolution will also be presented at the ACB Board meeting in late October, to be added to that meeting’s agenda and discussed.
Bylaws and proposed changes were read. All changes were approved as read on motions that were seconded and all passed unanimously.
At the Saturday evening banquet award ceremony, Tony Swartz presented the Distinguished Service award to Frank Spina for his volunteer service to PCB, especially within the Washington County Chapter. Cathy Long presented the Corporate Service Award to John Poth of Sage Vision Technology. Debbie Rozear presented the Lifetime of Achievement award to Jeanette Schmoyer.
The banquet entertainment was a play presented by members of PCB, entitled “Murder at the TonyLou Awards.” The Golden Triangle Chapter underwrote this endeavor.
On Sunday morning, the Necrology report indicated eight individuals passed away since last year.
Resolution 2015-2 thanked the convention program planning Committee for its work to plan and implement a successful conference and convention. It passed unanimously.
Resolution 2015-03 thanked the Crowne Plaza hotel for its service. This resolution also passed unanimously.
Tom Reid, Chair of the Convention Program Planning Committee, gave his report. He especially asked for feedback from convention goers to better meet our needs in the future.
Tony thanked Golden Triangle Chapter for donating $500 to PCB.
Other comments were provided, as there was time for questions and answers. The convention adjourned at approximately 10:30 a.m.