By Ethel Siegel and Ed Facemyer
The Southeast Regional Conference of the Pennsylvania Council of the Blind was held on Saturday, May 14, 2016. It was hosted by The Philadelphia Regional Chapter at Associated Services for the Blind and Visually Impaired at 919 Walnut Street in Philadelphia. This year’s theme was “Improving the Quality of Your Life.” John H Luttenberger was our Master of Ceremonies. Throughout the program, John entertained us with various humorous quotations.
A continental breakfast was served from 9:00 to 9:30 a.m. Shortly after 9:30 a.m. PRC President Patricia Russell called the conference to order by asking us to observe a moment of silent meditation. Vivian Williams, PRC member and a vocalist who has professional experience as a soloist and who has performed in many choirs, including The Nevilaires, a local choir of blind and visually impaired members, led us all in the singing of “God Bless America.”
Jule Ann Lieberman, PCB First Vice President gave a brief report on The Philadelphia Metro Council of the Blind. Meetings are held by conference calls and membership recruitment is their main priority.
PRC President Russell reported that the Chapter fund raisers this year include a bowl-a-rama, a raffle for a one-night hotel stay, and gift wrapping at Barnes and Noble. The Chapter will again participate in the training of volunteers for the annual Philadelphia Sports Rec Fest for persons with Disabilities. The Chapter has been working with The Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority on several fronts. The Chapter meets on the second Saturday of each month and will hold its awards ceremony this year following the June meeting.
Sue Lichtenfels, PCB President spoke to us via FaceTime. She pointed out an advocate is a person who sees a need for change and works to achieve it. We need to continue working on legislative issues and making positive changes to the misguided perceptions many people have about blindness. The State Conference will be held in Harrisburg from October 20-23.
PCB Director of Community Affairs, John Horst said the call-in effort for H.R. 3535 was disappointing. At present five chapters are active in working with public transportation companies on such issues as Paratransit and fixed-route services. He encouraged us to get involved with PCB committee work.
John Luttenberger updated us on how to obtain information on the adoption of Unified English Braille as of January 4, 2016 and submitting resolutions for PCB which are due by August 15.
Following the morning break, Damien Reed, Associate Curator of Community Affairs and Accessible Services, Philadelphia Museum of Art said that due to extensive construction at The Museum of Art, all programs will be held at the Allen’s Lane Visions through Art Center.
Philadelphia Police Officer Beverly Duncan from the Sixth District spoke to us about personal safety and dealing with fraud and personal identity theft.
Steven Goldstein, ORCAM Sales Manager demonstrated a new device developed in Israel It is a small camera attached to a pair of glasses which can read and speak printed material and can be taught to recognize faces.
Following Lunch door prize and 50/50 drawings were held. Vivian Williams entertained us with two songs. And to tie the ribbons on the conference, John Luttenberger joined Vivian to sing “All I Ask of You” from Phantom of the Opera. Shirley Brotman, Joanne Malatesta Davidoff, Martin Kuhn and Ethel Siegel were recognized for their hard work on planning the program. Our wonderful volunteers were recognized: Rita Davis, Linda Jones, Lynn Cruel, and PRC members Daisy Morgan and Sharnae Wilson. The conference was adjourned at 1:53 p.m. As always, it was a day filled with information, entertainment and camaraderie.