By Tony Swartz
With our regional season just completed, I wish to extend Carol’s and my personal thanks to those chapters which hosted this year’s regionals for their hospitality. Planning and hosting a regional is quite an undertaking, and I thank the planners and those who contributed their time and talents.
One very special moment of this year’s regional season for me occurred at the Southwestern Regional hosted by the Golden Triangle Chapter, as Congressman Mike Doyle proclaimed his cosponsorship of H.R. 4040, the Alice Cogswell and Anne Sullivan Macy Act. I would remind our membership of my advocacy challenge to our organization that every member and chapter shall endeavor through the coordination of actions and activities of our Advocacy and Governmental Affairs Committee to ensure that every Pennsylvania representative to the U.S. House of Representatives will become a cosponsor of H.R. 4040. In addition, we will endeavor to strongly encourage one of our Pennsylvania U.S. Senators to sponsor a companion bill in the Senate. Please pay special attention throughout the summer to action alerts from our Advocacy and Governmental Affairs Committee.
Let me also tell you about an aha moment I experienced during one of our regionals. A presenter with low vision walked up to the podium with a printed outline of her remarks in hand, only to discover that there was insufficient lighting for her to be able to read her outline. I relate this incident not as a criticism of the planners; rather it is offered as an instructional opportunity. I admit that as an individual with no vision and an expectation that, at least within our organization, I will be reasonably accommodated, I rarely give a thought to the needs of individuals with low vision. I ask of myself, “How can this be?” It certainly isn’t intentional; but it does occur out of my own lack of awareness. Just as we attempt to accommodate individuals with no vision at our state conventions by use of audio beacons, we need also to provide proper lighting conditions for speakers with low vision. I have requested our Second Vice President, Jule Ann Lieberman, who last spring obtained her Master of Science degree in Low Vision Therapy and is a Certified Low Vision Therapist, to direct a project to establish a set of podium lighting requirements. These requirements will in turn be submitted to the Low Vision Committee for final review.
I have two appointments to announce. I have extended Joseph Wassermann’s appointment as the organization’s representative to PANA. Mr. Wassermann’s appointment will extend through December 31, 2015. In addition, I have appointed PCB Board Member, Jacqueline Wissinger, as the organization’s chaplain. Ms Wissinger will serve as the PCB Chaplain through December 31, 2015.
In early June, PCB launched its new website. The site address remains www.pcb1.org. I would ask you to read Website Committee Chair Bob Lichtenfels’ article later in this issue which details the change in the site’s scope and emphasis. Accompanying the unveiling of the new website, the scope of The PCB Advocate will expand to include content to be issued between the quarterly hard copy editions. As a result, The PCB Advocate Content Editor, Sue Lichtenfels’ role will expand as Sue will chair the organization’s new Content Committee.
With the initial rollout of the site, most committee pages will include only committee mission statements. Throughout the summer and early fall, the Website Committee will contact each committee individually to discuss the transferring of existing content and will instruct each committee’s Website Liaison in the processes of content posting and management.
In addition to recognizing and thanking Bob for his leadership in bringing the new site online, I must acknowledge the significant roles that others have played in the site’s development. I am especially appreciative of Board Member Thomas Reid’s research and defining of the site’s change in scope. Two students from Shippensburg University, Belinda Eigen and Danielle Borisovsky devoted many hours working with our committee. They assisted us in developing site specifications, determining accessibility requirements, and did much of the site’s coding. The students worked under the direction of Dr. Brian Wentz, Associate Professor of Management Information Systems at Shippensburg University. I and the members of the Website Committee are deeply grateful to Dr. Wentz for significant contributions of his expertise throughout the years. PCB Treasurer, Michael Zaken, while maintaining the organization’s previous site, also assisted with coding and testing. Lastly, I thank Blaine Clark of the Hank Bloomberg Chapter for his work converting The PCB Advocate for publication on our site.
In closing, let me remind all of us that though summer is the time for relaxing and vacationing, our efforts of advocacy must continue. Please make appointments with PA representatives to the U.S. House of Representatives to request their cosponsor ship of H.R. 4040.