The Southwestern Regional Meeting

By Al Pietrolungo, GTCB Recording Secretary


Around 9:00 a.m. on Saturday, May 3, 2014, members from the Golden Triangle Council of the Blind, the Beaver County Council of the Blind, and the Washington County Council of the Blind began gathering in downtown Pittsburgh for our regional meeting. Mike Gravitt, GTCB Vice President, served as chairman and called our gathering to order at 9:30. Our agenda was changed a bit as speakers were willing to allow Congressman Mike Doyle to speak first so that he could also attend another gathering.


The congressman began with a detailed review of legislation designed to assist blind people over the past 80 years. He ended his presentation with a bang by announcing that he is now a cosponsor of H.R. 4040, the Alice Cogswell and Ann Sullivan Macy Act.


Dr. Stephen Smith, Research Professor from Carnegie Mellon University, provided a presentation on his research on modern traffic signalization. Matt Pavlovsky from the Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission offered a regional perspective on a variety of transportation issues.


Regarding organizational issues, in GTCB we have grown accustomed to thoughtful and thorough presentations on advocacy issues from Joe Wassermann, and he came through again with his advocacy report. We were pleased to have Tony and Carol Swartz with us for the day, and Tony updated us about developments within PCB. Mike Gravitt, Candy Fitzsimmons and Karen Rockey updated us on the progress being made in our three chapters.


I was particularly impressed with our two local speakers. Reverend Sally Jo Snyder from the Consumer Health Coalition should be invited to speak on advocacy at a state convention. She is really that good at describing why we need to be more active, and she can get a crowd excited. While I am not a big advocate of the arts, I was impressed by Kirsten Ervin’s presentation on Touch Art and her efforts to make art more meaningful for blind and visually impaired people.


In summary, although we were kept busy for the six hours, it was an exciting and productive event. Thanks go to all who planned and executed this regional.

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