Spring Edition 2014
Published by the
Pennsylvania Council of the Blind
(717)-920-9999 or (877)-617-7407
PENNSYLVANIA COUNCIL OF THE BLIND
931 N. Front Street
Harrisburg, PA 17102
To promote independence and opportunities for people with vision impairments.
To continue to be recognized as the leading advocacy organization for people with vision impairments in Pennsylvania. The aim of all our efforts is to encourage and assist people in achieving their potential as valued members of society. PCB assistance, advocacy, and encouragement will be carried out in such areas as, but not limited to, all aspects of accessibility, transportation, education, and employment.
The PCB Advocate is available in large print, braille, digital cartridge and email. Send changes of address or format preference to the PCB office.
Executive Director's Report………………………………11
2014 ACB Legislative Seminar………………………24
Awards Criteria & Nomination Form………………………39
TVI Braille Essay Contest……………………….45
Focusing on the Convention Experience………..46
That Other Education Bill………………………..51
From the Fundraising Team……………………….54
Long Range Planning……………………...57
News from the Low Vision Committee………………..59
Seven Types of Membership………………………61
Public Awareness & Relations Committee..65
Technology Access Committee…………………….67
Advocacy in Action:
Student Seminar in the Works for the Next PCB Conference……………………….71
OVR/BBVS Seeking Public Comment………………………..74
Here Here, Read All About It Advocacy Really Does Work………………………..80
Aids to Self-Communication……………………….86
My Success as a Blind Hunter………………………….91
Label It - A Great Resource………………………….94
For your information: Braille Contractions Booklet………………………95
Access Technology Training………………………96
Articles in this publication reflect the views of the individual writers. They do not necessarily represent the views and policy of the PCB.
Sue Lichtenfels, Content Editor
Jeanette Schmoyer, Copy Editor
Carol Swartz, Layout Editor
If you wish to submit articles for consideration, submission deadlines are March 1, September 1, June 1 and December 1 Send articles to ADVOCATE,
c/o Sue Lichtenfels Email- firstname.lastname@example.org or
96 Robb Hollow Road, Pittsburgh, PA 15243.
By Tony Swartz
Having just returned from the 2014 ACB Legislative Seminar, I am reenergized by our organization's commitment to advocacy. Many of us are members of the Pennsylvania Council of the Blind and the American Council of the Blind because of this commitment. United, we work toward change and improvement of our lives, demand greater opportunity in education and employment, and voice our need for the training and services which allow us to live independently and participate more fully in our communities. While there is much work yet to do, we also understand that the opportunities and services now available to us exist because those who came before us were so willing to dedicate their time and effort toward advocacy.
Later in this issue you will learn more specifically about ACB's 2014 national legislative imperatives, but I would like to especially draw your attention to the Alice Cogswell and Anne Sullivan Macy Act, H.R. 4040, introduced in the U. S. House in mid-February. We, of course, recognize that the foundation to employability is preparation provided through a sound and thorough education. The unemployment rate for persons with disabilities has historically been very high. By the early 1970's it was acknowledged that beyond issues of employment discrimination, nationally children with disabilities were being inadequately educated and, as a result, were unprepared to enter the workforce. In 1975 the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) was signed into law to establish a framework of educational services to address the educational needs of children with disabilities. Nearly forty years after the enactment of IDEA the staggeringly high unemployment rate for individuals with sensory impairments (hearing and vision loss) remains unchanged. Individuals within the deafness and blindness communities as well as educators and education policy analysts are firmly convinced that much of it is due to the misapplication of IDEA. In great part H.R. 4040 seeks to address the inadequacies of IDEA.
You may perhaps remember that in 2011 our Education and Employment Committee also concluded that inadequacies in the present special education system are chiefly responsible for the high unemployment of individuals who are blind since birth or childhood. Today we are presented with a unique opportunity to address both the inadequacies of special education and eventually the lowering of the unemployment rate of blind adults through the enactment of the Alice Cogswell and Anne Sullivan Macy Act. I am, therefore, issuing an advocacy challenge to every member of our organization. We shall endeavor through the coordination of actions and activities of our Advocacy and Governmental Affairs Committee to ensure that every U.S. House representative from Pennsylvania will become a cosponsor of H.R. 4040. In addition, we will endeavor to strongly encourage one of our U.S. Senators from Pennsylvania to sponsor a companion bill in the Senate. I am asking every chapter to coordinate your efforts through our Advocacy and Governmental Affairs Committee so that we might meet this advocacy challenge.
Do you know who represents you in Washington or Harrisburg? Below is a website address for an accessible Internet form where you may enter your street address, city and zip code. The form will return both your state and U.S. congressional representatives with links to their individual webpages. If you cannot personally access the Internet, ask a friend or family member to access the form for you, then jot down your representatives' contact information. Be sure to copy the complete website address below since it runs onto a second line. www.legis.state.pa.us/cfdocs/legis/home/findyourlegislator/
Until recently the five Internet streams which make up ACB Radio were available only over the Internet. Within the last few months several new ways to access ACB Radio have emerged. You may now access ACB Radio over the phone by calling 231-460-1047. Please note that this is a long distance call. (See our Technology Access Committee's article later in this issue to learn about unlimited long distance services.) Those who have purchased the Victor Stream Reader New Generation may also access ACB Radio through the Stream's latest software upgrade which includes Internet radio.
In an attempt at fiscal prudence, last year ACB's Board of Publications reached a decision to reduce the number of hard copy editions of The ACB Braille Forum to six issues per year. To offset the reduction of hard copy issues, the Board of Publications developed The ACB E-Forum, an electronic edition published in the other six alternating months. There are a number of ways to access The ACB E-Forum; by phone through NFB-Newsline, on the ACB website, or by email subscription. Go to www.acb.org/mailman/listinfo to subscribe to the email edition of both The ACB E-Forum and The ACB Braille Forum.
Do you have questions regarding descriptive services? The ACB Audio Description Project at www.acb.org/adp is a great resource. Whether it be about equipment for accessing descriptive video for television shows, described movies, theaters which provide description services, described live theater performances, audio-described museum tours, description services training, or the latest breaking news regarding audio description, the site will inform.
I close my message with sincere and heartfelt thanks to PCB board member Edgar Facemyer. Since 2006 Ed, together with Bill Newland, had co-hosted PCB Reports. With the passing of our friend Bill, Ed has chosen to step down from his role as host. I'm sure you join me in thanking Ed for his years of service and appreciate and recognize the quality of his work. In consultation with other members of our board, I will give further consideration to our options for producing future broadcasts. Please contact me at email@example.com if you would have an interest in developing broadcast programming or would like to volunteer your services with audio production.
By John A. Horst
The concern of the PCB office during the last three months has been the receiving of membership lists and dues for 2014 and encouraging members at-large to renew also. We understand that this is not an easy process for chapters. Much of this work takes place during the holiday season, and this year it was made more difficult due to the severe winter weather. Some monthly meetings had to be cancelled, and these meetings are often the time when memberships are confirmed and dues collected.
This year two chapters sent their lists in early December, but most were not received until late January or in February. As of March 1, we had not yet received these lists from four chapters. This disregard for getting membership dues into the PCB office by the January 15 deadline makes it extremely difficult in turn for PCB to get an accurate member count and payment into the ACB office by its deadline of March 15. If the information is not sent on time, PCB is penalized by losing votes at the ACB convention. Our thanks to those individuals in each chapter that really persevered in completing this task.
Unfortunately, we must report that for 2014 there has been very little increase in the number of PCB members. Some chapters have added a few but also lost several. Some loss is unavoidable due to life circumstances. There will be a complete report on membership in a later issue of The PCB Advocate.
Regional meetings are now being planned to take place in April and May. See the following section for more details. All chapter members and members at-large are urged to attend.
York Area Council of the Blind
By Sherri Dolheimer, YACB President
The central region of PCB chapters will be hosted by the York Area Council of the Blind (YACB) on Saturday, April 26, 2014. The meeting will be held at the Meadow Hill Family Restaurant located at 2935 East Prospect Road in York from 11:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. The agenda will include reports by PCB President Tony Swartz and Executive Director John Horst. There will be a presentation on diabetes education by Tony Heath of ForSight Vision, as well as a presentation entitled 'Living Positively with Blindness,' by Sherri Dolheimer, AAC, Life Coach. There will also be a white elephant auction, with the proceeds split 50/50 between PCB and YACB. Participants are encouraged to bring a wrapped white elephant item for the auction if desired.
The cost of $17 per person covers a meal (including sales tax & gratuity), with a choice of a roast turkey or lasagna dinner. The registration (with meal selection) and payment deadline is Saturday, April 12, 2014. Registration and payment should be sent to John H. Dolheimer, YACB Secretary, 1260 E. Prospect Street, York, PA 17403. Questions may be directed to YACB President Sherri Dolheimer, by email to firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone to 717-845-3148.
PCB Western Regional
By Mike Gravitt, GTCB Vice President
The Golden Triangle Council of the Blind (GTCB) is very excited to host PCB's Western Regional on Saturday, May 3, 2014. We look forward to bringing together members from the western region, including Washington, Beaver, and Allegheny counties. We are also pleased that PCB President Tony Swartz will be in attendance. At the time of this writing, we are still awaiting confirmation from Congressman Mike Doyle's office and are hopeful that he or one of his aides can be in attendance. Other speakers on the agenda include Dr. Stephen Smith, Research Professor at the Robotics Institute at Carnegie Mellon University, with an interactive discussion on his research on modern-day traffic signaling patterns, and how they can best tie into audible pedestrian signals; Matthew Pavlosky from the Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission speaking on our regions' recent and upcoming transportation policies, (including shared ride and public transportation issues); Rev. Sally Jo Snyder, Director of Advocacy and Consumer Engagement, Consumer Health Coalition, presenting on the 'Healthy Pennsylvania' plan; Joe Wassermann with a Governmental Affairs Update; chapter reports; and Kirsten Ervin explaining 'Touch Art,' a collaborative effort to open art-making to the blind and visually impaired community.
Everyone including members at-large and non-members are welcomed to attend! Donuts and coffee will be provided in the morning and a box lunch will be provided for lunch. The cost is $10 per person, and payment must be received by Mike Zaken no later than Monday, April 21, 2014. Please let Mike know if you need a vegetarian lunch. Otherwise, there will be two or three other options available at the Regional. Please RSVP to Mike Zaken at email@example.com or 412-655-1234. Mail checks payable to 'GTCB' to Mike at 169 Crestview Drive, Pittsburgh, PA 15236.
If you have any questions about the Western Regional, please contact Mike Gravitt at 412-344-2313 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. We look forward to seeing everyone in May!
The Philadelphia Regional Chapter will host the Southeast Regional on Saturday, May 10, 2014 from 9:00 a.m. to 1:45 p.m. The location is the Marriott Courtyard at 21 North Juniper Street in Philadelphia. For further information about the meeting, please contact PRC Corresponding Secretary John Luttenberger at email@example.com or 215-849-1074. PRC President Shirley Brotman can also answer your questions at 215-745-5873.
The Lehigh Valley Council of the Blind is making plans to hold the Northeast Regional on Saturday, May 17, 2014, from 8:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. It will be held at Holy Family Manor, Saint Mary's Hall, which is located at 1200 Spring Street in Bethlehem. The agenda is still being planned. All of the details will be posted to the pcb-l listserv and communicated to chapter presidents in the next few weeks. LVCB President Debbie Rozear can be reached at 610-791-4830 or firstname.lastname@example.org with your questions.
The PCB leadership is saddened to inform members of the passing of Geraldine Zeigler, President of the Carl Shoemaker Chapter. An excerpt of her obituary which appeared in the Lewistown Sentinel follows. Geraldine was vital to the Carl Shoemaker Chapter. The chapter's future is unclear at this point.
Geraldine B. Zeigler, 74, of Mifflintown, passed away on Friday, Dec. 27, 2013, at Locust Grove Retirement Village, Mifflin.
Born April 26, 1939 in Waterloo, she was a daughter of the late George S. and Genevieve (Jones) Clugston.
She is survived by her daughter, Linda S. Cisney and husband, Ron, of Mifflintown; brothers and sister, Gregg Clugston and wife, Kay, of Waterloo, Norman Clugston, of McVeytown, and Janet Johnson, of Claymont, Del; two granddaughters, Kristy Cisney, of Mifflintown and Jenny Cisney, of Montana; and three great grandchildren, Bethany Milliken, Nolan Shawver, and Marisa Shawver.
Geraldine graduated from Juniata Joint High School in 1957.
She started the Radio Reading Service in 1989 and was instrumental in organizing the Blue Juniata Council for the Blind in Lewistown and the Carl Shoemaker Council for the Blind in Mifflintown.
She was a member of the Upper Tuscarora Presbyterian Church, the Milford Grange, the Pennsylvania Council of the Blind, and the American Council of the Blind.
She organized the yearly Walk for Sight and enjoyed square dancing on Friday nights at Messiah Lutheran Church.
By Jeanette Schmoyer
What a winter! As many other chapters have experienced, LVCB had to cancel both our December holiday lunch and our February in-person meeting. This has played havoc with our ability to collect dues. About half of our members had paid dues before December.
In addition to the struggle to collect dues, we had other sad experiences in our chapter. In early December 2013, long-time member Rosalie Mayer died. She had been in a personal care room for the last several years, and the last weeks of her life she was in skilled nursing care.
On December 27, 2013, former member and former LVCB president Wilhelmina (Billie) Wright also passed away. She had been in and out of hospitals and nursing care for the past couple years.
On January 14, 2014, member Joe Gerbino died. We had celebrated his 90th birthday at our March 2013 meeting.
The next day, January 15, member Sherry Hancik, a former LVCB president and wife of the late Robert Hancik also died. She had been in a nursing home for more than a year, still hoping to get back into her apartment.
On a positive note, we were able to use the PCB alternate conference phone number to hold our February meeting. This allowed some members who cannot usually attend for health reasons to join us in the virtual meeting. We are looking forward to a March holiday lunch to replace the one we had to cancel in December. We are also looking forward to the creative ideas of our new officers. At our January meeting President Debbie Rozear and Vice President Ray Glover presented proposals for a speaker's bureau and a visitation committee. We discussed processes for training so that each participating member will carry a positive message and a complete understanding of the LVCB/PCB/ACB philosophy. We are also, of course, looking forward to a wonderful spring with warm breezes, green grass, yellow daffodils, and colorful tulips. We wish all of you the same!
By George Holliday, PMCB President
It's official! PCB has a new chapter in the Philadelphia area. The Philadelphia Metro Council of the Blind has adopted its bylaws and signed up 13 members. Its officers are: President George Holliday, Vice President Pamela Shaw, Corresponding Secretary Stewart Hughes, Recording Secretary Donna Williams, and Treasurer Brent Kessler. Future PMCB meetings are scheduled for the following dates, which are all Thursdays: April 10; May 15; June 12; July 10; and August 7. The chapter meets from 4:30 p.m. until 6:00 p.m. Meetings take place in the 8th Floor Classroom at Will's Eye Hospital, located at 840 Walnut Street in Philadelphia.
We have decided to change up the typical chapter meeting format. Currently, we are designating a half-hour for business and one and a half hours for programs. We don't plan to have speakers at all programs, but rather, have more interacting with members about different subjects. We want to get members more involved with planning meetings.
We are conducting more business via email and conference calls. Soon we will have our live meetings available via conference calls for those who travel a distance or who can't make the meeting in person. We will be trying different things to encourage growth and public awareness.
For further information about the chapter, contact George Holliday at 215-796-9813 or email@example.com .
By George S. Holliday, Chair
Advocacy & Governmental Affairs Committee
The 2014 Legislative Seminar of the American Council of the Blind was held February 23-25. The event began with two days of presentations followed on the third day with visits to congressional offices. Pennsylvania was represented by six individuals. I am including below the seminar agenda because I strongly encourage you to broaden your understanding of these issues by taking the time to download and listen to these presentations. The archives of the seminar can be found on the ACB website at http://acbradio.org/midyear2014.
After opening remarks by ACB President Kim Charlson and the introduction of seminar attendees, the following topics were addressed:
Advocating for Transportation Funding at the Federal, State, and Local Levels - Jennifer Dexter, Assistant Vice President for Government Relations, Easter Seals Office of Public Affairs; Jeff Thom, First Vice President, ACB; Alice Ritchhart, Chair, ACB Transportation Committee
Learning More about Our Community from the Data Contained in ACB-Google Survey - Matthew Wieseler, Director, Strategic Intelligence, National Industries for the Blind (NIB)
ACB's Legal Advocacy Efforts - Melanie Brunson, Executive Director, ACB
Legislative Imperative I: The Need for Medicare to Cover the Purchase of Certain Low Vision Devices - Elizabeth Darnall, Legislative Director, Office of Representative Carolyn Maloney (D-NY); Eric Bridges, Director of External Relations and Policy, ACB
What's New at the National Library Service - Karen Keninger, Director of the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, Library of Congress
Flying through the Air with the Greatest of Ease? Update from U.S. Department of Transportation on Rule-Makings and Upcoming Service Animal Conference - Blane Workie, Deputy Assistant General Counsel, Office of Aviation Enforcement and Proceedings, U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT)
Legislative Imperative II: The Need for H.R. 4040, The Alice Cogswell and Anne Sullivan Macy Act, to Pass - Mark Richert, Director, Public Policy, American Foundation for the Blind (AFB)
Luncheon Speaker - Janet LaBreck, Commissioner, Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA), U.S. Department of Education
Accessibility in TV Land as the CVAA Continues Its Implementation - Karen Peltz Strauss, Deputy Chief, Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau, Federal Communications Commission (FCC)
Updates on Other Legislation and Logistics for Hill Meetings - Eric Bridges, Director of External Relations and Policy, ACB; Melanie Brunson, Executive Director, ACB
What follows is further explanation of the two legislative imperatives which has been excerpted from ACB white papers.
Imperative: Alice Cogswell and Anne Sullivan Macy Act, H.R. 4040.
Since 1975, Public Law 94-142, now the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), has revolutionized educational opportunity for all children and youth with disabilities. However, without key improvements, our national special education system cannot fully keep IDEA's promise of a truly appropriate education for students who are blind or visually impaired. H.R. 4040, The Alice Cogswell and Anne Sullivan Macy Act, is intended to do just that, to improve the delivery of appropriate special education and related services to all students who are blind or visually impaired and deaf or hard of hearing, including students who may have additional disabilities. Once enacted, the legislation will ensure that properly designed and individually tailored services are in fact provided, meeting the unique learning needs of students who are blind or visually impaired, and that the educators who serve them are prepared and supported to do their jobs well, based on evidence-driven best practice.
During the next two years, the U.S. Congress may review and amend IDEA as part of Congress' periodic reauthorization of the law. The Alice Cogswell and Anne Sullivan Macy Act can be passed by Congress at any time in advance of IDEA reauthorization, or it can be incorporated, in whole or in part, into reauthorization itself.
ACB urges the U.S. House of Representatives to promptly pass H.R. 4040, The Alice Cogswell and Anne Sullivan Macy Act. This legislation will
Ensure that every student with vision loss is properly identified regardless of formal disability category or classification so that all students who are blind or visually impaired, including those with additional disabilities, are counted and properly served.
Expand knowledge about the scope and quality of special education and related services provided to students who are blind or visually impaired through refined data collection that tracks all students with vision loss, regardless of formal disability category or classification.
Expect states to conduct strategic planning, and commit such planning to writing, to guarantee that all students who are blind or visually impaired within each state receive all specialized instruction and services needed by students with vision loss provided by properly trained personnel.
Clarify that proper evaluation of students who are blind or visually impaired includes evaluation for students' needs for instruction in communication and productivity (including braille instruction and assistive technology proficiency inclusive of low-vision devices where appropriate); self-sufficiency and interaction (including orientation and mobility, self-determination, sensory efficiency, socialization, recreation and fitness, and independent living skills); and age-appropriate career education. Such instruction and services constitute the Expanded Core Curriculum, the body of services which teachers of students with visual impairments and related professions are expertly trained to provide.
Ramp up U.S. Department of Education responsibilities to monitor and report on states' compliance with their obligations with respect to instruction and services specifically provided to students who are blind or visually impaired.
Assist parents and educators of students who are blind or visually impaired through regular and up-to-date written policy guidance from the U.S. Department of Education.
Establish a national collaborative organizational resource, the Anne Sullivan Macy Center on Vision Loss and Educational Excellence, to proliferate evidence-based practices in the education of students who are blind or visually impaired, to keep special educators current with the latest instructional methods, and to supplement state and local educational agency provision of the instruction and services constituting the Expanded Core Curriculum.
Imperative: the Medicare Demonstration of Coverage for Low Vision Devices Act of 2013, H.R.3749
In November of 2008, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) promulgated a regulation that has had a detrimental impact on the lives of countless individuals who are blind or visually impaired.
To the dismay of the blind community, the Durable Medical Equipment, Prosthetics, Orthotics, and Supplies (DMEPOS) Competitive Acquisition Rule contains a provision entitled "Low Vision Aid Exclusion" which states that all devices, "irrespective of their size, form, or technological features that use one or more lens to aid vision or provide magnification of images for impaired vision" are excluded from Medicare coverage based on the statutory "eyeglass" exclusion. ACB is well aware that this extremely restrictive reading of the "eyeglass" exclusion has resulted in the denial of vital assistive devices for seniors and other Medicare beneficiaries who may have disabilities, particularly those with vision loss, who need to use such devices to live healthy, safe and independent lives.
This proposal has had a significant impact on beneficiaries with vision impairments who depend on assistive technology that incorporates "one or more lens" to aid in their vision. The expansion of the eyeglass exclusion has prevented access to devices such as hand-held magnifiers, video monitors, and other technologies that utilize lenses to enhance vision. These tools are often essential for individuals with low vision who, without the aid of assistive technology, cannot read prescriptions, medicine bottles, and other important materials containing content that is vital to their personal health and safety.
In short, these devices allow individuals with low vision to live independently and safely and to perform activities of daily living.
Without the aid of such assistive devices, many more individuals will be forced into care facilities as our population ages. Seniors on fixed incomes often find the cost of such devices burdensome and therefore are unlikely to be able to afford to purchase them on their own.
The initial impact of this unreasonably narrow interpretation of the eyeglass exclusion has meant a decrease in access to current devices, since prior to this rule change, it was not uncommon for Administrative Law Judges to require Medicare to provide them to beneficiaries who had visual impairments and could demonstrate the requisite necessity. We believe the proposal will have an even more detrimental impact in the long-term. The expansion of the statutory eyeglass exclusion to include any technology that uses "one or more lens for the primary purpose of aiding vision," serves as a preemptive and unwarranted coverage denial for any new technology designed to assist individuals with vision loss.
ACB believes that this preemptive coverage denial is particularly harmful because it serves as a tremendous disincentive to innovators and researchers to develop new and progressive vision technology. Medicare coverage policies often drive the coverage policies of private health plans, which are influential when it comes to investments in research and development. If Medicare continues to maintain this preemptive coverage exclusion for low vision aids, we will undoubtedly see a decrease in innovation in this area.
ACB urges the House of Representatives to promptly pass H.R.3749, the Medicare Demonstration of Coverage for Low Vision Devices Act of 2013. This legislation would evaluate, through a five-year national demonstration project administered by the Department of Health and Human Services, the fiscal impact of a permanent change to the Social Security Act. This legislation would allow reimbursement for certain low vision devices that cost five-hundred dollars or more as durable medical equipment. Individuals will be eligible to participate in the demonstration project only after completing a clinical evaluation performed by an ophthalmologist or optometrist who would then deem a low vision device as medically necessary. The national demonstration project is designed to provide a rich, well-structured and defined data set that can yield Medicare-program-wide evidence-based conclusions using appropriate statistical methods.
Now, this is when each of us as members, friends and concerned citizens of the Pennsylvania Council of the Blind CAN and SHOULD definitely get involved. The above imperatives affect us all. The six PCB members who attended the ACB legislative seminar visited Congress to discuss the imperatives and encouraged the sponsoring of the two bills.
The PCB Advocacy and Governmental Affairs Committee (AGAC) encourages you to
Establish an Advocacy Committee or appoint someone to address advocacy issues within your chapter.
Have chapter officers and advocacy representatives attend the PCB AGAC quarterly conference calls. The next one is scheduled for Wednesday, June 11.
Contact and schedule a visit with your Congressperson before Wednesday, April 30, to discuss the imperatives.
Participate in the upcoming state-wide call-in-day which the AGAC is planning. On this date (still to be determined) everyone within PCB, friends, family members, and the public in general are implored to telephone their Congressperson to support and sponsor the above bills.
In President Swartz's report earlier in this publication, he issued an advocacy challenge to every member of our organization to coordinate your efforts through our Advocacy and Governmental Affairs Committee so that we might meet this advocacy challenge. Are you up for the challenge? The PCB AGAC is up for the challenge, but we can't do it without your assistance.
As you can see we have our work cut out for us. In future editions of The PCB Advocate you will hear further comments from the AGAC addressing these and other issues that have a large effect on our lives. So, let's continue working together for a better tomorrow.
If there are any questions or concerns, please don't hesitate to contact me at 215-796-9813 or firstname.lastname@example.org .
By Debbie Rozear, Chair
We are looking forward to another outstanding year. Included is the PCB criteria and nomination form for the awards that are presented each year at the PCB conference. It is never too early to begin thinking about and nominating people in your area that may deserve an award for something they have accomplished. There are four categories for awards. They are Distinguished Service Award(s), Honorary Service Award(s), the Corporate Service Award(s), and the Lifetime of Distinguished Service Award(s). I will be accepting nominations from now until Friday, August 1, 2014. Don't wait until the last minute. Please read the criteria and send any nomination(s) or questions to me at the email and phone number on the form.
I am reaching out to chapter members and members at-large. If you are not a member, but are reading this, you can also make a nomination as long as you follow the criteria. Chapter presidents, please take this back to your meeting and brainstorm about people that you know. You may want to nominate someone in your own chapter or someone who has touched your life as you may have been losing sight or looking for employment. Let's make this a great year.
I request that the nominations are sent to me via email if possible since this is the most accessible format to share with the committee. Typed or brailled hard copies are a reasonable alternative if email is unavailable. However, I have found hand written submissions to be impossible to process without sighted assistance. I thank you in advance for this consideration.
PCB Distinguished Service Award
1. The recipient must be blind or vision impaired.
2. The recipient must be a resident of Pennsylvania.
3. The recipient must have demonstrated a satisfactory adjustment to his/her disability.
4. The recipient must be acknowledged by the "blind community" for having performed outstanding service (s) for the blind.
5. The recipient, through example and effort, must have represented to the community at large, the capabilities and respectability of blind and vision impaired persons.
PCB Honorary Service Award
1. These award(s) may be given to an individual, with or without sight, who has performed meritorious service to the blind or for the blind community.
2. These award(s) may be made either in memory of a person, or to a person now living.
PCB Corporate Service Award
1. The recipient of this award shall have made a significant difference in the life of blind or vision impaired persons through a product, a service, or its employment practices.
2. This award may be presented to a corporation/agency/foundation that has provided significant support to the mission or projects of PCB.
PCB Lifetime of Distinguished Service Award
1. The award(s) may be given to an individual, with or without sight, who has performed at least twenty years of meritorious service to the blind or for the blind community.
2. The recipient(s) must be sixty years of age or older.
3. The recipient's service contributions must be well recognized in the community in which they live or throughout the state or nation as significant to the betterment of the lives of those with vision loss.
Note: The Awards Selection committee may not make prejudicial selections of award recipients based on age, nationality, race, religion, creed, or sex of an individual.
PCB AWARD NOMINATION FORM
Submit your nominations in your preferred format by Friday, August 1, 2014. Email electronic nominations to: email@example.com. Typed or brailled nominations should be sent to: Debbie Rozear, 1415 South 3rd St., Allentown, PA 18103. Call 610-791-4830 with questions.
Please give the following information about your nominee:
Phone: (Home) (Alternate)
Name of the award for which you are making this nomination:
____ Distinguished Service
____ Honorary Service
____ Corporate Service
____ Lifetime of Distinguished Service
Phone: (Home) (Alternate)
Please include the reason for your nomination in 100 words or less along with any additional supporting materials.
By Sandra Marsiglia, Chair
The Pennsylvania Council of the Blind (PCB) is sponsoring a braille essay contest for teachers of the visually impaired (TVI's). Participants should select one of the following topics for the essay.
Why is braille important for you to teach?
What are the barriers of teaching braille to a student?
How have you seen a student excel as a result of learning braille?
All entries must be produced in braille by any means. This may include the computer. There is no word count restriction. The TVI's must reside in Pennsylvania. Entries are due by July 1, 2014.
The winner of the contest will read his/her essay on October 18, 2014, at the PCB Conference and Convention which will be held in Johnstown, PA. He/she will receive a $150 prize, plus one night's lodging at the hotel and a ticket for the convention banquet. The Winner's essay will be published in PCB's quarterly magazine, The PCB Advocate.
Please include the writer's name, mailing address, email, and phone so we can contact the winner. Send entries to: Sandy Marsiglia, 240 Forest Oak Ln, Harrisburg, PA 17110. For further questions about the Braille essay contest, reach Sandy by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 717-635-9937.
By Thomas Reid, PCB Convention Coordinator
A major part of promoting convention to our membership and those outside of PCB is the scheduled program. Many people make their decision to attend based on the planned workshops, presentations and possibly social events like tours and banquet speakers. However, I am personally convinced that the feelings associated with attending the convention are what produce return attendees.
Since we are still in the early stages of finalizing our 2014 program based on the theme, "LIFE: Leadership Is For Everyone," I would like to focus on what the Convention Program & Planning Committee (CPPC) is doing to affect the overall experience.
Winston Churchill said, "To improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often."
I know many people are hesitant to hear about changes, but hopefully we can adopt the attitude described in the above quote.
This year we are going to begin our convention program with a general session on Thursday evening. As most of you know, we usually reserve this time for our board of directors' meeting. This meeting will now take place either during a conference call prior to convention or earlier on Thursday. Opening the convention on Thursday will give us a chance to include some additional events geared to welcoming all attendees. We believe this will provide additional opportunity for social interaction.
Socializing will continue on Friday morning. It has been a few years since we were able to offer a morning tour at an attraction local to the convention site. We are currently working on finalizing details on a local attraction that will be of interest to many of you.
For those of you who enjoy competition, we are working on something that should satisfy that competitive drive while providing a chance to enjoy time with friends and hopefully make some new ones.
We heard those of you who gave us feedback; that you want to have time to socially interact with other members. This is such an important way we exchange information, we should make time for this in our program.
Of course, we will have informative presentations on advocacy, technology and other topics of interest to people with vision loss. Just for the ladies is returning along with the Saturday banquet, chapter reports and door prizes. However, the specifics of how these are presented may have a slight change.
It's important to understand that we are thinking of all the types of convention attendees:
Those new to vision loss
Folks new to advocacy, but not vision loss
Members seeking fellowship
Regardless of which category or categories you fall into, there will be something offered to make sure you have a great convention experience.
"Before anything else, preparation is the key to success", said Alexander Graham Bell.
In order to make this convention a success, the CPPC has a significant amount of work to do, but so do you.
All of the necessary details to begin preparing are below. In addition to saving for convention expenses and making hotel reservations, I would like to urge everyone to strongly consider the benefits of group travel. Whether the group consists of one chapter or multiple regional chapters, you can greatly increase your group's attendance while keeping the cost of travel down and making the travel experience more accessible and friendly for all. Those of you taking public transportation already know the limitations of the schedule and there is no sign that there will be a positive change by October 16, 2014. Therefore, why not charter a bus or van? Talk to your chapter leadership to help begin the process if you haven't done so already. Better yet, be a leader and take on the responsibility! Remember, the CPPC has published material to help chapters with the process of chartering. Feel free to contact me for the document or for assistance in kicking-off the process.
I urge you all not to leave this up to just the chapter leadership. We are all leaders.
"Everyone is a leader because everyone influences someone," exclaimed John Maxwell
Convention Details at a glance
Theme: "LIFE: Leadership Is for Everyone"
Date: October 16 through 19, 2014
Location: The Holiday Inn Downtown Johnstown, in Johnstown, PA.
Reservations Phone: 1-800-433-5663 (Toll free)
Room Rate: $92 per night plus 9% tax
By Al Pietrolungo, Chair
I have the privilege of being the chairman of the Education and Employment Committee this year. Previously our committee was skillfully led by Carla Hayes. I look forward to working closely with Carla and the other members of our team. Those other members are: Terri Winaught, Robert Mcclain, Yvonne Garris, Joseph Fagnani, Cathy Long, Christie Gilson, and Board Liaison Sue Lichtenfels.
The title of this article refers to the TEACH Act. The formal name is Technology, Equality and Accessibility in College and Higher Education Act. In 2013 the other organization of blind folks headquartered in south Baltimore invited the American Council of the Blind to collaborate on an effort to get Congress to introduce and enact this legislation.
What does the TEACH ACT try to accomplish? In 100 words or less, the TEACH Act seeks to make sure print disabled students have full and equal access to all instructional materials used in post-secondary education institutions. The legislation would require the United States Access Board to develop standards of accessibility which the U.S. Department of Justice can use to make sure the creators of these materials provide full and equal access to these products and materials. Further, the legislation establishes a minimum usability standard for schools which choose to use technologies which do not fully conform to the federal guidelines. Supporters of the TEACH Act suggest this feature allows for flexibility and innovation without compromising the right of print disabled students to have full and equal access.
Why support this legislation? The TEACH Act puts a tool in our advocacy tool box which should enable us to be vigilant about ensuring access for our students regarding websites, PDF materials and online communication applications such as blackboard.
In conclusion, you will be reading a lot about the Alice Cogswell and Anne Sullivan Macy Act, or H.R. 4040. While you are reaching out to our elected leaders about H.R. 4040, please do not forget about "that other education bill."
By Rita Lang, Chair
Many of us have come down with cabin fever. There is a cure. Start thinking spring. It's also time to start focusing on this year's PCB fundraising opportunities.
The PCB Fundraising Committee would like to thank those chapters who are participating in the 2014 PCB Calendar Raffle. For the first time in this raffle's history, The PCB office has distributed all 1000 tickets to chapter members. We hope to sell more tickets this year as a result. For this reason, it is vital that chapters and/or individual sellers send all unsold tickets back to the PCB office as soon as possible. This will give the office time to redistribute tickets to members who still have sales options.
Here are a few reminders to our ticket sellers. The raffle will begin on April 1 and end on September 30. Ticket stubs need to be completed and returned to the PCB office by Friday, March 21 or as early as possible. Remember to complete the ticket stub by filling out the buyer's name, address, telephone number, name of seller, and the chapter. As in other years, it is vital that you include the chapter so that your group receives credit for the ticket sale and profit share. Each month the winners will be posted to the pcb-leadership and the pcb-l listservs.
It's not too early to start planning for the 2014 PCB Conference and Convention in Johnstown. The vendor hall is always a hot spot for our members to check out the latest in technology and visit exhibitors. This year we would like to try something new and different. For those who would like to get an early start on holiday shopping, we hope to have the perfect solution for you. The fundraising team is gathering information from a variety of gift consultants such as Mary Kay, Pampered Chef, Tastefully Simple, and Thirty-One Gifts regarding if these companies offer fundraiser opportunities that we can use to offer you more product variety in the vendor hall. More information will follow in the summer edition of The PCB Advocate.
Once again the PCB Live Auction will be held in conjunction with the PCB Conference and Convention. It will be held on Friday evening October 17 at 8:00 p.m. with some time before to browse the items. The prize solicitation letter and marketing form is posted on the PCB website. Present this letter to local businesses and merchants to request prize donations.
The fundraising team is hoping this year's live auction will have many unique and exciting prizes to offer our members. So now is the time to begin searching for that perfect prize. More details will follow in the coming months. Look for postings on the PCB listservs.
Mother's Day is right around the corner. You may want to consider gifting her the True No Measure Cookbook. She'll truly enjoy this compilation of tasty and easy recipes.
This book is available in 16-point large type, braille, DAISY file, and MS Word CD. The braille is one large volume available for $25. All other formats are $12.50. To order your copy of the True No Measure Cookbook, send check or money order to: PA Council of the Blind, 931 N. Front Street, Harrisburg, PA 17102. Credit card orders can be made by calling 717-920-9999 or by clicking on the PayPal button online at http://PCB1.org/cookbook . Be sure to indicate your preferred format and shipping address. The entire index of 223 recipes is also online at http://PCB1.org/cookbook .
The fundraising team is always looking for new and innovative fundraising opportunities. Email suggestions to email@example.com or call 610-262-5125.
By Joseph Wassermann, Chair
Dues, dues, and more dues! Yes, it's that time of the year, and I hope that everyone has paid their chapter dues. It is important to realize that no matter how much you pay for chapter dues, only $5 out of that goes to PCB. One perk of this small fee is an annual subscription to The PCB Advocate, the organization's quarterly magazine, in your preferred format.
The publication of each quarterly issue of The PCB Advocate in each of its various accessible formats costs PCB $1,300. Currently PCB distributes 43 in braille, 145 in large print, 21 on cassette, 62 on digital cartridge, and 160 by email. With just over 500 members paying $5 in membership dues, PCB generates only about $2,500 in dues revenue annually. This amount is not quite half of what the organization pays out each year to publish The PCB Advocate for its members.
Several months ago the Long Range Planning Committee started looking for 10 donors who might be able to contribute $500 each toward the publication of The PCB Advocate. That would just about pay for the year. $500 is a lot of money, but we will still look for those kinds of donors. In the meantime, all of us need to be thinking about what amount we could afford to donate solely for the publication of our quarterly news letter. Remember that PCB received an ACB award for the magazine just a few years ago. It's a great publication. I think we'd like to keep it that way, so start to give it lots of thought, and please make a contribution that fits your budget to help with this annual cost.
By Ed Facemyer, Chair
As of our second meeting of 2014, I am happy to tell you that we have three new members: Donna Williams, Sherri Rodgers and Ralph Stift. What a fantastic way to start the new year! They join existing members Yvonne Garris, Steph McCoy, and Chair Ed Facemyer.
We have determined that one subject area that seems to be lacking is information on how to plan and conduct a low vision seminar. One of our goals for this year is to write a document which will serve as a guideline for chapters and others to use to help them to accomplish such a project. At present we are working on an outline covering all the necessary components we used to hold our low vision symposium at last year's PCB state convention. This outline will serve as the framework for our document.
It is amazing how often the topic of lighting has been discussed by persons with low vision. With that in mind, our committee is in the early process of coming up with some considerations on what lighting issues would be useful when involved in a dialogue with a facility where plans are being made to hold meetings such as our yearly conventions. Such events are well attended by persons with varying degrees of low vision as well as different loss-of-vision conditions. Obviously, hotels, restaurants, and other types of public buildings are limited to a great degree by their pre-existing lighting systems. Nevertheless, there may still be things that can be done to improve the lighting environment for many persons with low vision depending on the lighting setup for a particular facility.
The Low Vision Committee would like to remind you to support H.R. 3749, the intent of which is to set up a Medicare demonstration project to evaluate the fiscal impact of covering low vision devices as durable medical equipment. The reality is that the incidence of visual impairment increases as we age. For those senior citizens who are living with low vision and who cannot afford low vision aids prescribed by Certified Low Vision Specialists, this funding source will enable them to function more independently and maintain a more active life style.
By Jule Ann Lieberman, Chair
Did you know that according to the PCB Membership Handbook we offer 7 types of membership? Our handbook describes them as follows. "The seven categories of members are Chapter Members, Members at-large (those not residing near a chapter), Life Members (people who pay Life Membership dues), Junior Members, Honorary Members, Corporate Members and Agency Members. The latter four are nonvoting categories. Agency members and corporate members are groups who donate annually to support the organization. Chapter members, members at-large and life members may vote, present motions, speak on the floor of the state convention, serve on committees, and hold an office." How many members do you know who are junior members, lifetime members or corporate or agency members? In recent articles in The PCB Advocate we have been highlighting the activities of the members at-large; this time I want to focus on two types of memberships that are often overlooked: lifetime members and junior members.
Lifetime membership provides an opportunity for dues of a single payment of $1,000 or payments of $200 over five years. We recognize that this exceeds many planned budgets; but think of what value the work of PCB has provided and will continue to provide with this type of commitment. Giving up the 2 pizzas each month can budget out to the $200 each year. And you could be healthier as a bonus!
This commitment to the organization reflects your dedication to PCB as we work to ensure the dignity and independence of all with vision loss both statewide and nationally. This type of membership confirms your belief in the mission and vision of PCB and your support for its continued work. The Membership Committee would like to hear from current lifetime members and members who could suggest what additional benefits you would expect by choosing this option. We want to encourage more interest in this membership choice and want to hear your ideas on making this an attractive choice for you.
With regard to junior members, I would ask, does your chapter have any members who are currently high school or college students? The future of PCB relies on developing our future leaders. Talents, energy and enthusiasm can be the benefits of bringing in these young members. This may involve greater outreach efforts; scheduling meetings that are more convenient for student schedules; offering alternative participation via telephone conference meetings; and more social opportunities. You may recall at our 2012 convention we heard how varied is the support for activities of daily living and social skills across school districts and Intermediate Unit service areas. The future of these younger citizens with regards to them living comfortably and independently in their communities can greatly be affected by the opportunities they are given to learn from our membership. It is a mutual benefit for us to bring junior members into our PCB community.
Our upcoming convention theme is "LIFE: Leadership Is For Everyone." Look at your schools nearby; are there future leaders with vision loss among these students? Encourage them to join your chapter. Help them attend the convention this fall with the support of a scholarship. Our future as an organization needs these young members. It is never too early to start this process. Think about inviting them to your regional meeting to hear how advocacy matters and what they can learn from you. Take the time to learn what talents they can share.
Please share your thoughts and suggestions on these membership matters. You can reach me by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or call the PCB office toll free at 1-877-617-7407 and reference this article.
By Stephanae McCoy, Chair
"Individual commitment to a group effort - that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work." ~Vince Lombardi
It seems like only yesterday we bid adieu to 2013 and welcomed 2014. With two meetings under our belt, the Public Awareness and Relations Committee (PARC), is off to a good start with three new members added to our ranks. Sue Etters, Cathy Long, and Donna Williams expressed an interest in and subsequently joined PARC back in January. On behalf of PARC, I would like to publicly welcome you ladies to the team. We are so privileged to have you on our committee.
Since working with committees and chapters to assist in publicizing their activities is a function of PARC, we are off to a good start in partnering with the Braille Committee to publicize their upcoming Braille Essay Contest.
The Braille Committee presented PARC with a draft letter that, when finalized, will be distributed to teachers of the visually impaired (TVI's) throughout Pennsylvania. The letter was restructured by PARC for purposes of clarity, and it is currently out for review by the Braille Committee. The PARC is also producing a complementary flyer to be used in publicizing the event.
If you recall, in the last edition of The PCB Advocate I talked about the PARC working more closely with chapters to increase public awareness in our local communities. I also mentioned that we have a repository of marketing materials for chapters to use at their discretion to host events geared to pique the public's interest and create opportunities for increased membership. I am hopeful that we can start sending out the list of materials with the actual files by the end of March.
We want to hear from you. If your committee or chapter would like the PARC's promotional assistance, you can reach me directly at 412-736-7525 or at email@example.com .
By Joe Fagnani, Chair
Unlimited Long-Distance Phone Service
Verizon and Comcast are national companies which provide flat-rate long-distant service in the state of Pennsylvania. There are about a hundred smaller companies which provide this service in local areas as well. Flat-rate long- distant service costs about $60 per month. It generally covers calls to the 50 states, Canada, Puerto Rico and some other U.S. territories. Usually when you purchase this service, it comes with 10-15 other features, such as: call waiting, call forwarding, voice mail, 3-way calling, caller I.D., etc.
Most of the time there are promotional packages which will bring the cost down. However, a lot of the time these promotions want you to bundle other services with your phone service such as Internet or television.
Many organizations, including PCB, are using free conference calling services for meetings. All PCB committee meetings are conducted via telephone conference. In order to access the virtual meeting room, members must call a long-distance number and put in the PCB pass code. If you want to participate more fully in PCB's committees and on special statewide conference calls, it would behoove you to sign up for a flat-rate long-distance service.
Stream by Phone
The TAC is currently investigating a phone service where members could call in to hear communications from PCB such as PCB Reports, Talking Advocacy & Government (TAG) episodes, and legislative updates. While this would provide easier access to information for those not using computers, it would likely be a long-distance call to the service. Future developments on this front will be posted to the listserv and written about in The PCB Advocate.
Advising on Cable Accessibility
PCB recently received a letter from Service Electric CableVision regarding accessibility for people with vision loss. The TAC will be working with the cable company to address the following issues:
Accessible feedback on set top box…instead of lights
Accessible remote somehow describing buttons
Accessible program guide including what's on-demand
Accessing descriptive video information.
Ways to verbalize emergency messages
Providing technical support on the above items for users who are blind
2014 convention presentations
On Friday afternoon, the TAC will offer an iPhone Round Robin session. During this hour-long discussion, participants will talk about the various iPhone apps that they find most useful. Potential app categories covered will include GPS, reading books, radio/music, news, identifying objects, and productivity. Each topic will be allotted about 10 minutes. The session will not cover how to use an iPhone.
During Saturday's general session, the TAC will offer a presentation that will interest everyone, even those who don't own a computer or an iPhone. The tool of social media in a leadership role will be discussed. The presentation will cover the different types of social media and the purpose of each. Attendees will learn how it can benefit local chapters as well as committees.
for the Next PCB Conference
By Rosemary Martin, PCB Board Member
Ever since I went to my first ACB and PCB conferences in 2010, I have been advocating for increased student and youth involvement in both organizations. I was welcomed with open arms by ACB in Phoenix and PCB in Pittsburg, and encouraged by the individuals and groups I met along the way. PCB has been a strong and successful state affiliate of the American Council of the Blind for decades. This is due in large part to the work of some fantastic groups and individuals from across the state. I have seen this firsthand. I have networked with so many people, and I've learned countless lessons along the way. I want to give this opportunity to other students, and I finally have the chance.
After four years, I'm excited to say that we will be having a student seminar at the PCB Conference and Convention in Johnstown this year. This has been in the works since November, thanks to some fantastic past scholarship winners, interested students, and the support of Tony Swartz and the PCB board. After many email threads and a successful conference call, we have settled on three panel discussions: accessible and affordable technology; O&M in college (canes, dogs, or neither); and leadership (self-awareness and self-advocacy). Lunch will be offered at the conclusion of the seminar. There will also be trivia and games between the panel discussions.
The seminar is geared toward the youth and student involvement in PCB, but anyone is welcome; I promise we don't bite. We will be nailing down more specifics over the next few months. I will have more details in the summer edition of The PCB Advocate. We are so excited and grateful for this opportunity, and we've hit the ground running.
We plan to advertise this seminar as much as possible, but we need your help. If you know of students who could benefit from this seminar, please show them this article. We are college students or recent graduates, and we understand the financial burdens which often prevent a student's attendance. Luckily, there will be some full student scholarships available to attend the conference, and partial scholarships for past recipients are being discussed. Chapters can also help these students by offering financial assistance and transportation support.
We're counting on you! The youth and students are the future of this organization, and this seminar is the first step in increasing student involvement, and hopefully starting an ACB student state affiliate in the future. We are taking baby steps, but we're moving! We're doing our part, and we hope you'll do yours.
If you have any questions, would like to offer help, or are interested in speaking on any of the panels, email Rose at firstname.lastname@example.org .
The Department of Labor and Industry, Office of Vocational Rehabilitation (OVR), announces a period of public comment on its proposed Federal Fiscal Year (FFY) 2015 Combined Agency State Plan Attachments. The plan is the blueprint for the provision of VR services to persons with disabilities living in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The FFY 2015 begins on October 1, 2014, and ends on September 30, 2015.
This comment period provides individuals, advocates, and other interested parties and/or organizations opportunities to present their views and recommendations regarding vocational rehabilitation (VR) services for persons with disabilities. Comments are being solicited regarding the following State Plan Attachments:
Input and Recommendations of the Pennsylvania Rehabilitation Council
Comprehensive System of Personnel Development
Annual Estimate of Individuals to be Served and Costs of Services
OVR's Goals and Priorities
Order of Selection
Distribution of Supported Employment Funds
Innovation and Expansion Activities.
In addition to the Vocational Rehabilitation State Plan, the agency's Bureau of Blindness and Visual Services (BBVS) will accept public comment on the Business Enterprise Program, Specialized Services for Children and Adults, and Independent Living Services for older persons who are blind.
To obtain a copy of the proposed FFY 2015 Combined Agency State Plan Attachments, call the appropriate district office. A copy can also be obtained from the OVR website www.dli.state.pa.us by clicking on
Disability Services, then Office of Vocational Rehabilitation, then Publications. The PCB office can also provide members with an electronic version of the plan that has been excerpted to include the sections relevant to services for people with vision loss.
The scheduled public meetings are listed below. All meeting sites are accessible and interpreters for people who are deaf or hard of hearing will be present at each public meeting. For additional information, reasonable accommodation requests, or alternative format requests, please call the OVR District Office conducting the public meeting you wish to attend. Written comments may be submitted by mail to the appropriate district office serving the area in which the individual/organization member resides. All written comments must be received no later than 5:00 p.m. Friday, April 25, 2014. In addition, a conference call or web collaboration will be available for people to participate in the meeting via their phones and/or computers. Please contact your local district office for details.
Counties Served: Bedford, Blair, Cambria, Centre, Clinton, Columbia, Fulton, Huntingdon, Juniata, Lycoming, Mifflin, Montour, Northumberland, Snyder, Somerset, and Union Phone: 1-866-695-7673
When: March 31, 2014, from 2:00 - 6:00 PM
Location: 1130 12th Avenue, Fourth Floor Conference Room, Altoona, PA 16601
ERIE DISTRICT (Two meetings)
Counties Served: Cameron, Clarion, Clearfield, Crawford, Elk, Erie, Forest, Jefferson, Lawrence, McKean, Mercer, Potter, Venango, and Warren
When: April 2, 2014, from 5:00 - 6:00 PM
Location: OVR Conference Room, 3200 Lovell Place, Erie, PA 16503
When: April 10, 2014, from 10:30 AM - Noon
Location: Perkins Family Restaurant, 18276 Conneaut Lake Road, Meadville, PA 16335
Counties Served: Adams, Cumberland, Dauphin, Franklin, Lancaster, Lebanon, Perry, and York
When: March 17, 2014, from 3:00 - 6:00 PM
Location: Forum Place, 8th Floor Conference Room, 555 Walnut Street, Harrisburg, PA 17101
PHILADELPHIA DISTRICT (Two meetings)
Counties Served: Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery, and Philadelphia
When: March 18, 2014, from 3:00 - 6:00 PM
Location: Associated Services for the Blind, 919 Walnut St., 10th Floor, Philadelphia, PA 19107
When: March 27, 2014, from 2:00 - 4:00 PM
Location: Center for the Blind & Visually Impaired 100 W. 15th Street, Chester, PA 19013
Counties Served: Allegheny, Armstrong, Beaver, Butler, Fayette, Greene, Indiana, Washington, and Westmoreland
When: April 2, 2014, from 4:30 - 7:00 PM
Location: 531 Penn Ave, Pittsburgh PA 15222
WILKES BARRE DISTRICT (Three meetings)
Counties Served: Berks, Bradford, Carbon, Lackawanna, Lehigh, Luzerne, Monroe, Northampton, Pike, Schuylkill, Sullivan, Susquehanna, Tioga, Wayne, and Wyoming
When: March 17, 2014, from 4:00 - 6:00 PM
Location: Conference Room, 300G Laird St., Wilkes-Barre, PA 18702
When: April 2, 2014, from 4:00 - 6:00 PM
Location: Allentown BVRS District Office, 45 North Fourth Street, Allentown, PA 18102
When: March 20, 2014 from 3:30 - 5:30 PM
Location: Reading BVRS District Office, 3602 Kutztown Road, Suite 200, Reading, PA 19605
Advocacy Really Does Work!
By Mary Ann Alexander
When I was chair of the Advocacy and Governmental Affairs Committee, we worked tirelessly to find ways to make advocacy interesting so as to entice other members to experience the feeling of empowerment that comes with running the race and winning. Now that I am just another worker bee, I realize that maybe it is as simple as telling you real life stories of how I have personally witnessed advocacy working for our good.
Let's begin with a story that some of you may have already heard. In 2008 I read an email posted to the pcb-l by ACB, calling out to individuals who had in some way been negatively affected by the policy of the Social Security Administration, which refused to provide special notices to blind and visually impaired recipients in accessible formats. I responded and became part of the effort that would ultimately lead to the ruling handed down by California federal court which decrees that the Social Security Administration must provide notices to its blind or visually impaired recipients in braille, on a CD in Word format, or via telephone upon request. Mind you, I do not have a law degree; in fact, I have no college degree at all. I simply told my story and now, some of my testimony has become part of Judge Robertson's decision. Another plaintiff was an elderly woman whose courage was such an inspiration to me. I'm not sure I can adequately describe the incredible sense of accomplishment and empowerment I felt as part of this effort. Our testimony was so compelling that not only did the judge rule in our favor, but the Social Security Administration has exceeded his ruling by providing notices in other formats not ordered.
As some of you know, while I remain a member of the Pennsylvania Council of the Blind, I have moved to Florida and have jumped right in to advocacy. I am currently president of the Southwest Florida Council of the Blind, serving Lee County. As we all know, for people who cannot drive a motor vehicle, public transit is a major concern. It seems that universally, each state budget brings the threat of reduced services, both to public transportation and its ADA transportation counterpart. Well, Lee County, Florida is no exception.
One of the first advocacy efforts in which I participated had to do with proposed transportation cuts to the fixed route and subsequently the ADA transit system. Our then president called to action all members to attend public hearings on the proposed cuts. We had about 15 members who were routinely attending meetings during that period of time. Of those 15 members, 8 of us attended the first public hearing, along with many others from the disability community. The result was truly astounding.
The public hearing was presided over by the Board of County Commissioners of Lee County. The first astounding point of note was that irrespective of their agenda, they moved the discussion on transportation to the top of the agenda and heard more than 30 people testify. After we all had an opportunity to speak out against the proposed cuts, a motion was made and passed to allow the board to vote on these cuts then and there, before many of the people with disabilities had to leave on their scheduled ADA transit rides. The commissioners voted not to cut the two bus routes on the chopping block. In doing so, they virtually preserved the quality of life for countless citizens with disabilities. Among those who would have been affected were students with disabilities attending college, others attending workshops, people who work, and individuals reliant on the service to address their most basic needs.
I am not suggesting that all of us are public speakers, but all of us can advocate in some fashion. While we need to be mindful of the fact that all means of advocacy require a certain amount of preparation, it is most true of public speaking. There are key points to remember when preparing for any advocacy effort, and PCB's Advocacy and Governmental Affairs Committee stands ready and willing to assist whenever called upon. The most important points are 1. Preparation … know your topic; 2. Be sure that you have properly identified the person best able to assist with your issue; 3. Be prepared to answer hard questions contrary to your agenda; and 4. Always send a thank you note, even if you have only spoken to someone via telephone. Now, if you are adventurous and plan on diving right into public speaking or face-to-face meetings with officials such as legislators, the key points to remember are 1. Practice your speech and have some means by which to refer to notes; 2. When in Rome, do as the Romans do … dress professionally (dress shoes, a suit and tie for the men and a suit-like outfit with dress shoes for you ladies); 3. Absolutely do not eat during a meeting or while sitting in a public hearing; and 4. Avoid checking on your talking time piece because it is rude and disruptive.
The points I bring to light here are those that most resound for me because I've observed those who didn't follow even these rudimentary steps to sound and successful advocacy. The result was embarrassment for them and for the community they represent.
So, let me summarize in this way. Advocacy should be as simple as telling your story to someone who has been identified as a champion of your cause. It can be as easy as making a telephone call or as involved as attending hearings and meetings with officials. We need everyone involved.
I would urge all of you to go to the PCB website and locate the page for the Advocacy and Governmental Affairs committee and take advantage of the many resources collected there over the years.
By Tony Swartz
One of the less obvious skills that an individual who is losing vision needs to regain is the ability to communicate with one's self. Many of us take for granted the simple task of jotting down a phone number or making note of an appointment. As I work more with individuals who are just losing their vision, I have become increasingly aware of their tendency to surrender independence, particularly to a spouse or relative. I have observed this insidious tendency more in the performance of incidental tasks like self-communication.
As an advocacy organization, with respect to self-communication, we encourage individuals with remaining functional vision to take advantage of their remaining vision. For these individuals we might suggest the use of bold lined paper and a black felt tipped pen. For those who are totally blind or without functional vision, we would strongly encourage braille instruction.
But what remedy is there for self-communication prior to an individual's development of low vision or blindness skills? Before the digital revolution in audio, many individuals stumbled on the use of cassette and dictation recorders as a solution. Though these devices stored information serially, meaning that it was necessary to move back and forth through the cassette to find a recorded entry, nevertheless the task of self-communication was accomplished. While it is still possible to obtain a cassette recorder and cassettes, because there are so few manufacturers and so little competition for these products, prices have dramatically increased while quality assurance has just as dramatically dropped.
Of course, most of us are aware that digital recorders have replaced cassette based technologies. But the majority of digital recorders are loaded with complex functions, small controls, inaccessible menus, and most models are quite expensive. I turned to our Technology Access Committee and asked them to develop and recommend a small list of digital recorders which would most compare to a simple cassette recorder with the following specifications.
1. Simple interface of play, rewind, and fast forward functions
2. Operated without interaction with a menu
3. Large identifiable controls
4. Small enough to fit into a hand
5. Priced less than fifty dollars
The TAC provided three options which are described below. It is the intent of this article to provide recommendations for consideration and not a comprehensive review of each product.
The Olympus DP-10 Digital Voice Recorder provides up to 72 hours of recording time in standard recording mode and 63 hours of battery life. Though there are additional functions which involve access to an inaccessible menu, the recorders basic functions of play, record, stop, back, forward, erase, volume and playback speed are performed without accessing the menu. While the Olympus DP-10 is being phased out, the unit is still available through Amazon. The operating manual may be downloaded from the Olympus website as a Microsoft Word document.
The Olympus DP-201 Digital Voice Recorder provides up to 98 hours of recording time in standard recording mode and 80 hours of battery life. This model replaces the Olympus DP-10 and retains all the features of its predecessor. The operating manual may be downloaded from the Olympus website but as of this writing, only as pdf. The Olympus DP-201 may be ordered from Amazon or purchased at several office supply chains such as Staples.
Perhaps the least complicated model is the Wilson™ 12 Hour digital recorder. The Wilson website states, "Our innovative products are designed with the visually impaired in mind." Unlike the Olympus models, all the Wilson's functions are accessible, though there are fewer features. Recorded messages are retrieved by consecutive presses of the play/stop control. Messages are deleted by pressing the delete button twice in quick succession while playing the message to be deleted. The Wilson may be purchased directly from the manufacturer by phone at 1-866-551-1588 or from the Wilson website at www.talktothewilson.com .
An alternative purchasing option you might want to consider for either the Olympus DP-201 or the Wilson 12 Hour digital recorder is to place your order through our own Carla Hayes who is a distributor of both products. Placing the order through Carla will guarantee you product support. She will be most willing to talk you through product setup and operation. She may be reached by phone at 724-941-8184.
Though it might seem a small accomplishment, regaining the ability to communicate with yourself is an important step along the road to independence.
By Mary Anne Cowfer
On December 13, 2013, I had a very exciting day. I got the opportunity to shoot my first dear as a blind hunter! I have been hunting with my husband for years and when I lost my sight I thought I would have to give it up. After finding out there are not any laws to stop me from applying for a hunting license I continued to purchase one each year. However, having a regular license would not allow me to use a modified scope or laser site, without which I would not be able to ensure a safe shot.
In the early fall of 2010 I contacted the Pennsylvania Game Commission to inquire as to the requirements to obtain a Disabled Permit. I was told being blind did not fall under the regulations of a Disable Permit however, if I would submit the proper documentation a special permit could be issued. They would need a letter of explanation from me regarding how I would be using the permit and a letter from my doctor. I wrote my letter explaining my rifle setup, how my husband would be assisting me in ensuring my barrel is aligned properly, and what hunting means to me. Then I asked my family doctor if he would write a letter for me. Both of them were sent to the Game Commission as instructed. I soon received a one year special permit to carry with my regular hunting license. The following year when I submitted my request, I was issued a lifetime permit.
Many of you may be thinking, …How is it possible for her to do this if she is totally blind?… Well, it is really very easy. My rifle has a scope and a laser site mounted on it. My husband sited my scope in for 100 yards. Then he sited the laser into the scope.
The last Friday of the 2013 hunting season my husband and I were sitting in our blind when we heard the deer start to move down into the field. My husband watched for them to move in close enough for me to get a shot. He then told me to get my gun ready. I put it to my shoulder as he moved behind me. He watched the laser which places a green dot on the deer. Using the face of the clock he directed me to move my gun barrel into place to get a clean shot. When I had it placed where he wanted it to be, He asked me if I was ready. I told him I was. He then instructed me to slightly touch the trigger. I did; the gun fired and with one shot my deer was down!
I was so excited! It was amazing I could accomplish such a feat. I am sure there are a lot of you who feel you have to give up a sport you have loved doing for years due to a lack of sight. I hope by hearing my story you will realize you do not have to give up something you love. You may have to alter the way you have hunted for years by having someone assist you. But I am here to tell you the feeling of accomplishment will far out way any small degree of independence you may have to give up, not to mention, the venison is excellent!!
By Sandy Marsiglia
By the time you read this article, spring will be in the air. If you are like me, spring cleaning will not be far behind. This means organizing some items and pitching others. For me, getting organized requires labeling.
Whether you are organizing at work or home, there is a book that can assist with labeling items. The book is titled Label It! Braille and Audio Strategies for Identifying Items at Home and Work, by Judy Dixon. It was published by National Braille Press in 2008.
This book may already sit on your bookshelf and may be worth reviewing. If you don't already have the book, you can acquire it in several ways. The National Library Service offers it through the BARD website; the number is DB 66704. National Braille Press has the book available for purchase in several formats such as braille, e-braille and Word for $12.00.
The book consists of ways to label food, medications, plants, emergency shut offs, CD's, memory cards, and more. The labeling techniques include braille, tactile, audio, and large print. The book also gives the company resources where you can buy the labeling tools and materials necessary to use to become successful at your project.
Welcome spring! Good luck on your cleaning, organizing, and labeling!
Braille Contractions Booklet
The Jenny Beck Chapter of the Braille Revival League has produced a booklet containing all the braille contractions, and a note on Unified English Braille. It is spiral bound and brailled on 8.5 x 11 paper. Booklets with paper covers are $7.00, and for plastic covers it's $9.00. There is an additional $1.00 charge for mailing. Checks should be made out to the Braille Revival League and sent to May Davis, 133 W. Ashland Street, Doylestown, PA 18901.
Mary Anne Cowfer is a Certified Access Technology Trainer who teaches Visually Impaired, blind, and other disable people how to use accessible and adapted products to help them perform everyday tasks. This includes adaptive and mainstream computer software, digital book readers and recorders, IOS devices, braille displays, notetakers, and more. She offers training at flexible times and in various settings, i.e. one-on-one, online, or in a classroom setting. If you feel you could benefit from Mary Anne's services, email email@example.com or call 814-215-0853.
PCB Board Of Directors 2014
Anthony Swartz, President………………………610-799-4565
Sue Lichtenfels, 1rst VP………………………412-429-1727
Jule Ann Lieberman, 2nd VP………………....610-688-6517
Cathy Long, Secretary………………….717-737-1979
Michael Zaken, Treasurer…………………….412-655-1234
John Horst, Exec. Director………………………..717-367-6346
George Holiday, Past President…………………….215-796-9813
Thomas Reid ………………………………570-421-2543
CONTRIBUTIONS are tax deductible and can be
sent to Michael Zaken c/o the PCB office or
made online at www.pcb1.org.
MEMORIAL GIFTS may be made in memory of
an individual or on your behalf as a paragraph
in your Last Will and Testament. For more
information, please call the office.
CHAPTER/ AFFILIATE PRESIDENTS 2014
Beaver County……………………….Candi Fitzsimmons
Capitol City……………………….Sandra Marsiglia
Cumberland Care & Share…………………………..Bill Davis
Delaware Valley CCLVI……………………………..Glenda Such
Golden Triangle……………………….Robert Lichtenfels
Hank Bloomberg……….Jacqueline Wissinger
J. F. K…………………………..David Lee Shaw
Lackawanna County……………………Charlotte Mollis
Lancaster Red Rose…………………Yvonne Garris
Lehigh Valley………………………..Debbie Rozear
Luzerne County…………………Dorothy Ostrowski
Monroe County………………………Caroline McFarlane
Oil Valley…………………………Scott Roberts
Philadelphia Metro……………………..George Holliday
Philadelphia Region…………………Shirley Brotman
Washington County………………….Karen Rockey
York County……………………..Sherri Dolheimer
PENNSYLVANIA COUNCIL OF THE
Preferred Format:____Large Print ____Braille
_____Digital Cartridge ______E-Mail
Adult membership dues $10.00______
Junior membership dues $5.00______
Agency/Non Profit mem. Dues $20.00______
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TOTAL AMOUNT ENCLOSED $______
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email listserve? ___yes ___no
Make checks payable to PCB c/o
Pennsylvania Council of the Blind
931 N. Front St. Harrisburg, PA. 17102
Free Matter for the Blind
(Handle as 1rst class Mail)
Domestic Mail Manual Sec. 135.7
PA COUNCIL OF THE BLIND
931 N FRONT STREET
HARRISBURG, PA 17102
LARGE TYPE EDITION
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