PCB- A Peer Network for All Impacted by Vision Loss
PENNSYLVANIA COUNCIL OF THE BLIND
PO Box 68
Volant, PA 16156-0068
(717) 920-9999 or (877) 617-7407
Facebook: PACounciloftheBlind Twitter: @PCB_Advocate
PCB Information Line: 773-572-6314
To promote independence and opportunities for all 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, employment, entertainment, recreation, and quality of life.
The PCB Advocate is available in large print, braille, audio cartridge, and email. Send changes of address or format preference to the PCB office. Contents are available to the public via pcb1.org and the PCB Information Line at 773-572-6314.
Articles in this publication reflect the views of the individual writers. They do not necessarily represent the views and policy of PCB.
Editor in Chief: Will Grignon
Copy Editing: Rebecca Holland, Sue Lichtenfels, Lisa Salinger, and Irene Rehman
Audio Production: AccessiDocs Team
Braille Edition: Horizons for the Blind
If you wish to submit articles for consideration, submission deadlines are:
March 1, Spring
June 1, Summer
September 1, Fall
November 20, Winter
Email articles to: email@example.com
Send all inquiries to: Will Grignon
Table of Contents
You Have More Than One Vote at the ACB Convention, by Chris Hunsinger
All Aboard in ‘22! by Mary Ann Grignon (Conference Planning Team)
2022 Call for Session Proposals Deadline is July 1st, by Conference Program and Planning Team
Seeking Fuel for PCB’s Future, by PCB Nominating Team
Reminders from The Parliamentary Team, by Carla Hayes
Who Deserves A PCB Award? by PCB Awards Team
What’s on the PCB Fundraising Shelves? by Mary Ann Grignon
Self-Reliance and the Spouse, Child, Friend, Neighbor, Volunteer, by William H. Grignon
Is Your Dog Depressed? by PAGDUS
On the Road Again: Travel Tips, by Jule Ann Lieberman and Vision Loss Resource Team
“K” Marks the Spot, by Tony Swartz, member Technology Team
What Message Is Being Sent? by William H. Grignon
What Do You Want and What Do You Want to Do? By Communications Team
LVCB: Transitions + Adjustments + Support = A Thriving Organization, by Elizabeth Oleksa, LVCB President
The Poetic Journey: From Darkness into the Light, by Elizabeth Oleksa, BA
Appendix 1: 2022 Request for Session Proposals
You Have More Than One Vote at the ACB Convention
By Chris Hunsinger
This information is somewhat complicated, but I think it is important that we all understand it. I know that I had to read the voting instructions several times before they all made sense to me.
We all have our individual votes at the ACB Convention, and we will be getting our voting credentials early in June. That is one vote, one member no matter how many affiliates you pay dues to. We also each have approximately 1/25th of a vote as a member of any affiliate where we pay dues.
Each affiliate has a delegate and an alternate for voting sessions. They get to cast the delegate votes for the affiliate. Each affiliate has a delegate vote for every twenty-five dues paying members but the number of delegate votes gets rounded up if the total number of members is more than half the way to the next multiple of twenty-five. The PCB Delegate is me, Christine Hunsinger. I will be there in Omaha and at the voting sessions of the virtual part of the convention casting the delegate votes for PCB unless my Alternate Cathy Long casts our votes virtually instead.
There is no part of the ACB Constitution or Bylaws which gives affiliates instructions on how to cast their delegate votes, and the PCB Bylaws don’t tell us how to do it either. Now that all members of ACB can vote in elections, whether they are registered for the convention or not, we at PCB want to be sure that all peers have the ability to affect our delegate voting.
We have eight delegate votes at the ACB Convention. On any record vote, one with actual numbers of votes required, you will vote your individual vote using Vote Now technology, but you also will be able to get in touch with Cathy and me to give us your thoughts on the delegate vote.
We will be collecting your thoughts each evening during the Hybrid Convention if there is a contested Board or Board of Publications election. That means that if you were told to use your individual voting credentials in the afternoon, you will also probably want to contact us about your voting preferences in the evening.
Once we have your individual thoughts about how to vote our delegate votes, we will divide our eight votes in the same proportion as you give the votes to us. For example, if fifty of you let us know how you would want us to vote, and thirteen say vote one way and 37 say another, we will have two votes for one side of the vote and six for the other.
If, instead, we have fifty of you voting and twenty-five vote each way, then our voting is split four for each position. WE could have a three-way race for some positions, and that might require a run-off for the top two candidates if no one gets more than the fifty percent plus one vote. You may belong to other affiliates which have different ways to determine their delegate votes.
How will we collect the votes?
First, you will need to know what race you are voting on. You will need to pay enough attention to the proceedings of the convention to know if there is a contested vote for this day, and you might want to listen to the supporters of each candidate at the end of the general session to make any decision. The individual voting will be open from 2:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. CDT or 3:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. EDT.
After you cast your individual vote, you can then text Cathy or me with your choice to influence our delegate voting giving us your name and vote so that each of us doesn’t count you accidentally. My Cell number is (412)414/1628, and Cathy’s cell number is (717)991/7433.
We will also have a Zoom Room open from 8:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. if you would prefer that method.
Join Zoom Meeting
Meeting ID: 845 2110 8371
One tap mobile
One of us will be there to make notes.
If neither of these methods is good for you, you can call the PCB office and leave a message at (717)920/9999 or toll free at (877)617/7407 giving your name and your vote. We will check with Autumn before 9:30 a.m. EDT each day to get her report of messages left.
I will need the results to be tabulated before the General Session for the following day so that I can cast the delegate votes when the roll call starts. The General Sessions will begin at 9:30 a.m. EDT.
We hope that the votes for individuals will have ended by July 7, but it is possible that we will still be voting on people on July 7, and I don’t yet know when that roll call would happen.
the first reading of any amendments to the Constitution and Bylaws will be read on July 7. There will be no debate at that time.
We will then be working our way through the ACB resolutions. A resolution may be presented and voted on by voice votes and either pass or fail. If twenty-five people object to that decision and want a record vote, that resolution will be voted on in the virtual session of July 13.
If during the discussion of the resolution an amendment is proposed, it can be voted on by voice vote and could pass or fail. If it passes and no record vote is demanded, it will be added to the resolution and the resolution will be voted on. If a record vote is asked for on the resolution amendment, that vote will be held on July 11, and the resolution will be voted on during the voting on July 13.
There will also be debate on constitution and bylaw proposals after the second reading of proposed Constitution and Bylaw changes on July 11. During the debate on July 11, amendments can be proposed, and they may be agreed to by voice vote unless a record vote is demanded. If a record vote is demanded, that will be held on July 12. On July 12 only amendments to Bylaw and Constitution proposals will be voted on if necessary.
The final votes on July 13 will be for the resolutions that require a record vote with the addition of any amendments added on July 11, and for the bylaws and Constitution proposals with any additions caused by the amendment votes on July 12.
Since the July 11, 12, and 13 meetings will be starting at 8:00 EDT but the delegate voting will start at about 8:30 p.m. EDT We will need to know your delegate votes before that time.
Remember, On July 11, we will be voting on only amendments to resolutions which require votes. On July 12 we will be voting on any amendments to proposed bylaw changes and proposed Constitution changes, and on July 13 we will be voting on the final bylaws with amendments, constitution with amendments, and resolutions with amendments.
We will be expected to give the full list of delegate votes for the day when Pennsylvania Council of the Blind is called during the roll call.
We will be using the same methods to collect your delegate voting information, but the time-frames and the expected responses will be different. There may be several items which will have a yes or no decision because there may be several different amendments or resolutions, or bylaw changes on the ballot. To collect delegate votes for these virtual sessions, come to the Zoom meeting between 5:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m.
Join Zoom Meeting
Meeting ID: 845 2110 8371
One tap mobile
The phone collection methods remain the same, but we will close out the voting by 7:30 p.m.
IF you are confused about what amendments you are voting on, the resolutions and proposed bylaw changes and constitution changes will be published on ACB Media and somewhere in the convention information. The resolution amendments will be put somewhere on ACB Media after the end of the session on July 7. After the July 11 vote, they will be incorporated into the resolutions if necessary for the July 13 vote.
The same kind of thing will happen with the constitution and bylaw proposed changes and amendments agreed to and voted on by July 12.
We will keep the leadership list and the PCB list aware of how to locate the latest version of the information being voted on, and you can check with your chapter leaders or the PCB office about this information.
I hope that we will hear from all of you during the times when we are collecting delegate voting information. I also hope that you will be listening to and participating in the ACB Convention. Remember that if you don’t register for the convention, you can only use ACB Media, or Alexa or that magic phone number to listen, but you won’t be able to raise your hand or object to a voice vote unless you are at the convention or using zoom. Happy voting!
All Aboard in ‘22!
By Mary Ann Grignon (Conference Planning Team)
Cruise with your PCB peers, as together we journey from one port of resources to the next, collecting mementos as we go.
This year’s conference is being held from October 27 through October 30 and our theme is Accelerating the Path to Self-Reliance.
As in previous years, we will be asking you, the heart and soul of PCB to contribute what you know, what you have learned while navigating vision loss. Last year we asked you to tell us about gadgets you use that enhance your lives and we presented the Gadget Gallery. This year, we’d like to know about resources you have found to be particularly meaningful in your journey to self-reliance.
So, whether it’s a resource for travel, photography, shopping, reading print, navigating outdoors, finding information such as a new recipe, staying informed, managing your health, well you get the idea, we want to hear from you.
After all of the information is received, your Conference Planning Team tour guides will compile it into a whirlwind cruise of unparalleled and resource-filled destinations, where you are sure to pick up memorable tidbits at every stop.
When sending us your resource contribution, please include the following information:
- Name of the resource,
- Where it can be found,
- A good description of how it works,
- The way in which you have used it in your own journey, and
- Whether you can record or will need assistance recording a description of your resource contribution.
All contributions should be sent to Mary Ann Grignon at:
If you have any questions at all, please call me at 570-807-1276.
Thank you in advance for journeying along with the PCB Conference Planning Team!
2022 Call For Session Proposals Deadline is July 1st
By Conference Program and Planning Team
PCB is seeking presentation submissions for its 87th annual statewide conference. The conference will be held virtually via the Zoom platform from Thursday, October 27, through Sunday, October 30, 2022. PCB welcomes session proposals relevant to this year’s theme of “TRIP To Self-Reliance: Tools, Resources, Information, and People.”
As a network of blind and visually impaired peers, PCB recognizes the importance that self-reliance plays in our quest to improve our lives and for all who are impacted by vision loss. Together, as we seek and build our destinies, we offer encouragement to people who are new to vision loss, provide peer support to one another, bring about a more accessible society, and break down attitudinal barriers. Self-reliance is your best self living your best life and, in that living, freeing those around you to do the same.
So, during this year’s annual conference, we will boldly explore the many ways that we all can set forth on a big adventure to where we’ve yet been – a journey of freedom, power, exploration, and celebration.
The conference planners seek proposals for presentations, workshops, and activities that will provide attendees with an interactive virtual experience. This year’s theme focuses on four main themes: TRIP: tools, resources, information, and people.
Tools can include, but are not limited to, low- and high-tech devices, personal skills, or adapting existing technologies and surroundings to maximize user access and usability, etc.
Resources can include, but are not limited to, non-profit and governmental entities, community and civic organizations, or non-blindness-specific resources that can be adapted for the vision loss community, etc.
Information can include, but is not limited to, blindness-related materials, accessible data sources that increase blind users’ awareness of and access to non-blindness-related knowledge bases, or methodologies and sources of assistance that empower blind users to explore and consume all sought information, etc.
People can include, but is not limited to, governmental agents, members of non-profit and civic organizations, mentors, subject-matter experts, or partners for collaborations that expand horizons, develop skills, and provide opportunities for self-expression and personal advancement, etc.
TRIP aims to boldly go beyond where peers have yet been. TRIP offers a broad array of possible session topics such as honestly identifying the things that keep you from journeying forth, exploring tools, skills, and practices that will strengthen and support you through your journey, creating your personal maps of exploration and discovery, challenging your time, talents, and triumphs to reach the next expression of your all-welcoming self, constructing shelters and shrines for others that mark your progress from where and who you were to where and who you long to be, and arriving at a you far beyond your first imaginings.
We welcome practical presentations that are down-to-earth, nuts-and-bolts, and ready-to-use, as well as personal recollections and professional insights that open horizons, point out pitfalls, and beckon to new heights. It’s all about how we, in the many, can empower and encourage one another to dare be better individually and collectively.
We welcome session proposals from peers, vision professionals, vendors, community leaders, and subject-matter experts through June 1, 2022.
To obtain a Request for Session Proposals form, contact Chris Hunsinger at 412-881-9328, the PCB Office at (717) 920-9999 or (877) 617-7407, and, coming soon, the pcb1.org website. Submit your completed forms to firstname.lastname@example.org by June 1, 2022.
Finally, feel free to forward the information to others who you believe would have an interest in participating in our conference.
Seeking Fuel for PCB’s Future
By PCB Nominating Team
Just as the mercury is rising in our thermometers, you could be rising in PCB. It’s time to act on your burning desire to become a PCB board member. You know you have what it takes to light this organization on fire. With your combustible passion for empowering your peers and your sizzling skill set, you’re ready to fan the flames of independence and opportunity across the Keystone state and beyond. Don’t allow your abilities and ideas to smolder in the backyard barrel any longer. It’s your turn to blaze the next trail!
Get started by nominating yourself as a candidate for the PCB Board of Directors. This year we are seeking peers to fill four Board of Directors positions during this year’s annual conference. Each of the four positions is a two-year term. The individuals elected this year will serve alongside four additional Directors and six Officers to comprise the 14-person Board of Directors. Of the four board positions up for election this year:
Suzanne Erb has served two terms and cannot run again.
William Grignon has served one term and is eligible to run again.
Cathy Long has served two terms and cannot run again.
Sandy Marsiglia has served one term and is eligible to run again.
To be a nominee for board candidacy, you need to be a paid member of PCB and ACB with a record of active engagement and an understanding of Council values. Since all work at the state level is done virtually, it is imperative that candidates have access to email.
As a board member, it is expected that you would make a two-year commitment to be a role model among peers and be an ambassador in the community. Attendance at quarterly and ad hoc meetings via Zoom would be vital. In advance of meetings, you would receive team reports and the organization’s financial summary in expectation that they will be reviewed. You would work voluntarily on two to three leadership teams and might be asked to lead one. Attendance at monthly team meetings would also be required. Ideally as a leader, you would participate actively in all aspects of the organization including visiting with changemakers, educating the public, offering a hand to those new to vision loss, promoting PCB events, and supporting fundraising efforts as able. You would be eligible to request reimbursement for board-related travel and approved project expenses.
Get the sparks flying by preparing an autobiographical statement of interest for the Nominating Team. In less than 250 words, share your interests, skills, experiences, and goals. Be sure to express how you intend to be an accelerant for future success on the PCB Board of Directors. Send that email to email@example.com by Sunday, July 31.
In early August, the Nominating Team will work with declared candidates to record some dynamite personal details and scorching-hot answers to these two questions:
What is the greatest attribute you would bring to the PCB Board of Directors?
On which project or area of the organization do you intend to focus your attention?
Then, in early September, the Nominating Team will ignite your candidacy by publishing your oral statement on the PCB1.org website, the PCB Information Line, the PCB-L listserv, and cartridge editions of The PCB Advocate. On October 15, the Nominating Team will blast out the team’s slate of endorsed candidates. If you have any questions about the nominations process or board member responsibilities, reach out to Sue Lichtenfels, this year’s Nominating Team Leader at 412-480-9696 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
You know you’re the bomb! But the timer is ticking. Don’t fizzle out. Get those dynamite biographical details to the Nominating Team today. We’ll set the election charge to go off Saturday, October 29 during PCB’s virtual business meeting. And if you incinerate the competition, you’ll become PCB’s next firecracker.
REMINDERS FROM THE PARLIAMENTARY TEAM
by Carla Hayes
If you have any proposed amendments to the PCB Bylaws or resolutions that you would like to be considered at the PCB convention, or if your chapter or special interest affiliate plans to vote at the convention, here are three important deadlines that you will need to know.
First, the deadline for submitting proposed bylaw changes is July 27, 2022. THIS IS A FINAL DEADLINE AND IT CANNOT BE EXTENDED! Remember that any individual PCB member, committee, chapter or group within PCB can propose changes to the PCB Bylaws. An organization’s bylaws should be a living document which can be changed when circumstances make it necessary. As a member of PCB, it is a good idea to read over the PCB bylaws periodically so that you will be familiar with the structure of PCB and the procedures that we follow. The PCB Bylaws can also serve as a guide to local chapters as they write or revise their own bylaws.
Second, September 27 is the deadline for submitting resolutions if you want them to be presented at the PCB Convention. THIS DEADLINE WILL BE ENFORCED! Only emergency resolutions of an extremely time-sensitive nature will be considered after this date and very few resolutions would fall into this category! DO NOT WAIT UNTIL THE LAST MINUTE TO SUBMIT YOUR RESOLUTIONS! As with bylaws, resolutions can be written and submitted by any individual member of PCB, or any committee, chapter or group within PCB. Allow time during chapter and committee meetings to discuss and work on resolutions. In past columns, I have discussed “WHEREAS” and “RESOLVE” clauses and guidelines for crafting an effective resolution. This information will be reviewed in future columns. For now, use PCB and ACB resolutions as models when writing your resolutions and feel free to call on the Parliamentary Team for help.
Finally, chapters and special interest affiliates who plan to have delegates present at the convention should submit the names of their delegates to the PCB Office by October 22nd. Delegates will be authorized by the Parliamentary Team during the convention.
All proposed bylaw changes and resolutions can be submitted by email to me at email@example.com. Alternatively, they can be mailed to me in any format (braille preferred) at:
230 Robinhood Lane
McMurray, PA 15317.
If you have any questions or if you need help writing your bylaws amendments or resolutions, please feel free to call me at (724) 941-8184.
Who Deserves A PCB Award?
By PCB Awards Team
PCB seeks to reward excellence at its upcoming virtual Conference and Convention (October 27-30, 2022) with four prestigious awards: John A. Horst Champion of Independence, TheReImage Leadership Award, Anthony B. Swartz PCB Peer Excellence Award, and PCB Community Impact Award.
Anyone, a PCB peer or not, can make a nomination. Send your contact info, the name and contact info of the person/entity you are nominating, which award you would like them to receive, and an explanation on why you think they deserve the award. The deadline is September 1, 2022. Email nominations to firstname.lastname@example.org. Current members of the PCB Board are not eligible for these awards.
Here are the four PCB Awards:
John A. Horst Champion of Independence
The award will be given to an individual who has performed at least 20 years of professional service in fields related to the rehabilitation or the education of people who are blind or visually impaired or has Dedicated more than 20 years of service to collective advocacy and public awareness efforts that promote independence and opportunity for people with blindness or vision loss, and 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.
TheReImage Leadership Award
The recipient must have overcome both the real and perceived challenges of blindness or vision loss to achieve an active, multi-faceted life, have proven him/herself as a role model and leader within the blindness community through service, perseverance, empowerment, or achievement, and have demonstrated to the world, through his/her independence and action, TheReImage of people with vision loss.
Anthony B. Swartz PCB Peer Excellence Award
The recipient must be or have been a member of the Pennsylvania Council of the Blind for more than 10 years, have provided a long history of volunteer service to PCB’s events, projects, or chapters, and have demonstrated distinguished service by taking on leadership roles within PCB or regularly going beyond expectations in service to PCB and fellow peers.
PCB Community Impact Award
The recipient of this award shall have made a significant difference in the lives of people with blindness or vision loss through a product, a service, or an employment practice that leads to greater independence and opportunity. This award may be presented to a corporation, agency, or foundation that has provided significant support to the mission or projects of PCB.
What’s on the PCB Fundraising Shelves?
By Mary Ann Grignon
By now, I’ll bet that you have figured out that by supporting PCB’s fundraising efforts, you reap the benefits, sometimes personally, sometimes as a chapter, and sometimes through all that PCB offers.
Our fundraising efforts pay for things like a low- or no-registration-fee conference, the info line so those who do not have access to email can stay involved and up-to-date on PCB happenings, the 800# so those without long distance can participate in PCB team and discussion calls, materials in your preferred formats and much more.
So, let’s take a look at what’s up for grabs.
On the top shelf, you will find our calendar raffle tickets which, by the way, are on sale for just $15, a 25% discount. When you purchase our calendar raffle tickets you not only benefit PCB as a whole, but your chapter benefits and if you are lucky, then you could be the winner of cold hard cash. Of course, as they say, you have to be in it to win it.
On the next shelf, we have Terrilynn.com. Here you can purchase delicious nuts, dry fruits and candy. Treat yourself or someone else and just enjoy! When you go to the PCB Terrilynn store, 20% of your entire purchase is donated to PCB. It’s as easy as going to:
https ://tinyurl.com/PCBTREATS or if this link fails, to:
or calling them toll-free at:
800-323-0775 and telling them you support the Pennsylvania Council of the Blind.
Walk over to the next shelf with the Keystone CaneAbles, our PCB walk team at this year’s ACB Brenda Dillon Memorial Walkathon.
All funds raised are shared evenly between PCB and ACB. If you are attending the ACB convention in Omaha this year, join our president Chris Hunsinger on her real live walk. If you are not attending in person, no worries, you can be a virtual walker or you can just support our team by going to:
Once you reach the page,
- Press the letter H to take you to the first heading, Keystone Cane Ables.
- Next locate the “donate now” button and press enter.
- Check the amount you would like to donate, or check other.
- Continue following the prompts to input your info.
If you need additional information, you can contact one of the following:
Toll Free: 877-617-7407
Over yonder is the shelf on which sits all of the benefits acquired by your donation to the Monthly Monetary Support (MMS) program. First, for you personally, if you sign up with a monthly donation of just $10 per month or if you are a donor and increase your donation by just $5 per month, you’ll be entered into a contest where the prizes in the past have been pretty fantastic, including a victor reader, iPhone 11 and serious cash. Smaller prizes are drawn each day of the ACB conference and the grand prize is drawn later in August. As with your donations to our walk team, all proceeds from the MMS are shared evenly between PCB and ACB. Your support contributes to ACB’s good works including all of the community interactions daily and of course we benefit from ACB’s generous contributions like the use of webinar and ACB streaming during our conference. To become an MMS donor, just call the ACB Minnesota office at:
612-332-3242 or toll-free 800-866-3242.
Finally, there’s the shelf on which all of you will be placing your auction donations. Every year our auction gets better and better and this year we are hoping it’s our best ever! What we think will make it incomparable is your input. Tell us what you’d like to be bidding on this year. In past year’s we’ve offered baked goods, jewelry, technology, accessible gadgets, games, bath and body products, accessible medical devices and gift cards. So, tell your fund development team what is not on this shelf that you’d like to see.
Write or call Mary Ann Grignon at:
Or Tony Swartz at:
From the Fund Development Team, we wish you all a delightful summer and to all of our PCB dads, the happiest Father’s Day!
Self-Reliance and the Spouse, Child, Friend, Neighbor, Volunteer
By William H. Grignon
As many of you know, I am an active peer within PCB’s leadership, but I am physically located in Florida. My local chapter, the Southwest Florida Council of the Blind, has run a “Living the Good Life with Vision Loss Expo” for several years now. One thing that keeps cropping up time and time again is the response by some blind attendees who refuse to learn braille and/or JAWS, take up the cane, or sign up for paratransit. They say their spouse, child, friend, neighbor, or a volunteer will read, guide, or drive for them wherever and whenever they need it. In response, we want to ask the blind person, “What would happen if your “helper” gets sick? Who is going to take care of them? Who is going to take care of you? Who is going to leave the house to get medicine and other supplies? In this light, it is just selfish and self-defeating for the blind person not to learn, not to develop skills, not to take on the fair share of duties and responsibilities for their own life.
Think about this dynamic for a moment, then think about this year’s PCB Convention theme of self-reliance, then think about how the phenomenon described in the paragraph above affects one’s trip to self-reliance. Sadly, that trip never starts or, if it does, it usually sputters and subsides back into passivity and dependence.
Let’s examine the dynamic between the person with vision loss and their helper. Of course, human relations are tremendously complex and there is no one-size-fits-all description. But the dynamic has some shared characteristics:
- The blind person either does not know about or, contrary to knowledge and experience, chooses to believe that they do not have or could have skills that lead to independence and self-reliance
- The blind person chooses to be passive, dependent, and reliant on their helper
- Lacking the necessary skill-set, because they’ve never tried to gain it, the blind person believes their only option is to rely on their helper for everything from reading mail to driving them hither and yon
- As the blind person subsides into passivity and dependence, the sighted helper takes on increased responsibilities
- As the helper takes on more responsibilities, resentment builds up as their share of work becomes almost overwhelming
- Sensing this simmering resentment and desperate not to jeopardize the little help they do get, the blind person learns to placate, wheedle, and negotiate the bare minimum of help
- The blind person and the helper/ end up in a taut dance-of-pain, spiraling into a lock-down of frustrated power politics
- Without compassionate intervention, their relative positions harden, and they find themselves drifting farther and farther apart
While the pattern described above seems to be an all-too-frequent scenario, how the blind person and their helper get there can be quite different.
The gas-lighter: Here, the helper exploits the 1-up power position and tries to undermine the confidence of the blind person at every turn. While seeming to be encouraging, the Gas-lighter nonetheless trips up the blind person’s attempts at self-reliance, reminds the blind person of past failures, and takes on duties with a long-suffering condescension that keeps the blind person down and dependent.
The Angel: Here, the helper may have a good heart, but they don’t have any clue about what a blind person can do on their own and they don’t have any interest in exploring these possible efficacies because any skills the blind person gains will lessen their dependence on the Angel. The Angel thrives in being helpful, usually in the most public settings possible, so they can get the acclaim of others, “Look. See how much she does for him? She’s truly an angel.” And with each “angelic” reenactment, the Angel is puffed up and the blind person is once again relegated to the passive recipient of the Angel’s largess.
The Befuddled: Here, both the blind person and the helper are not informed about what a blind person can and should do. They do not have access to tools, resources, information, and people. In this state of mutual befuddlement, they do the best they can, sometimes working out compromises, sometimes running head-long into a wall of frustration. Neither knows and neither grows. And, just because it’s easier, the helper does more and more, and the blind person becomes less and less.
The Deep-ender: Here, the helper assumes that the blind person is more competent than lack of experience or training would suggest or just needs a good kick in the… um… pants. Without investigating tutorials or other training possibilities, the Deep-ender will toss the blind person into difficult situations and tell them to figure it out. And maybe the blind person will figure it out and maybe they won’t. Perhaps some blind people will respond to this form of “tough love,” but most will probably feel abandoned, overwhelmed, and increasingly disinclined to take on new challenges.
The Collaborator: Here, the helper and the blind person work together as a team. They explore training opportunities, share learning experiences, and work out who can do what. For example, while the helper can drive, the blind person can do things like research interesting facts about and things to do with respect to their destination, figure out the route, provide directions from a GPS app, pump gas, and go into a convenience store for supplies. This team recognizes that each person has strengths that make the team strong and resilient. Their mutual understanding and encouragement help both parties to grow and enjoy a deeper bond.
In the end, we, as blind people, have to ask ourselves, “Are we okay with being overgrown children, passive and dependent on our spouse, child, friend, neighbor, or volunteer, or are we more and better than that? Do we ever want to jump into the driver’s seat to steer our own present and future?
Is Your Dog Depressed?
Dogs share many of the same neurochemicals that we do and, like us, they are exposed to certain stress hormones like adrenaline and cortisol – so they can get depressed. Unfortunately, dogs can’t tell us when they are feeling down, so it’s up to us, as handlers and dog lovers, to be alert to the signs and try to help them out of their blues.
Depression in dogs usually arises from some big environmental change like: introducing a new baby, spouse or pet; moving to a new home; the loss of a doggie companion or owner; or, since dogs are extremely empathic, maybe just its owner being depressed. Age and/or boredom can also bring on grouchiness and low spirits. (See https://www.countryliving.com/uk/wildlife/pets/a30608033/dog-depression/.)
However, if your dog exhibits many of the signs of depression and there is no big environmental reason for it, it is strongly recommended that you bring your dog to the vet to make sure there is no medical reason for the depression. Depression in older dogs can be a sign of chronic pain. Your vet should be able to determine if your dog is suffering from chronic pain and prescribe a pain management protocol.
Parenthetically, signs of chronic pain in dogs somewhat overlap with the signs of depression in dogs:
- Whimpering or vocalizing
- Becoming quiet, withdrawn, and anti-social
- Showing uncharacteristic aggressiveness when approached or touched (an attempt to protect themselves from further pain)
- Holding the ears flat against the head
- Increased licking of a painful/sensitive area
- Decreased appetite
- Reluctance to walk, run, climb stairs, jump, or play
- Stiffness or limping
- Lagging behind on walks or stopping altogether while on walks
- Changes in personality
- Increased panting and/or restlessness
Interestingly, vets may prescribe antidepressants for dogs, but not for depression. Rather, vets prescribe antidepressants to help with such problem behaviors as: extreme separation anxiety, generalized anxiety, acute anxiety, compulsive disorders, cognitive dysfunction syndrome (especially in older dogs), and urine marking. Antidepressants are not a substitute for re-training; they are usually prescribed for a short time so the dog’s anxiety level can be lowered sufficiently to allow for behavioral modification.
You can probably name most of the signs of doggie depression, but here are the major signs:
- Low activity levels
- Loss of interest in the things they once enjoyed
- Change in eating habits, often eating substantially less (or not at all)
- Increase in amount of time spent sleeping
- Showing signs of anxiety or aggression through sporadic howling or whining
- Excessive licking, especially of their paws
- Flattening of the ears
- Less interaction with other dogs
- Regression in house and behavioral training
- Bored or frustrated
- Barking more or being hyperactive
- Seeking more affection, almost demanding repeated and vigorous petting, scratching, loving words, etc.
If your vet has assured you that there is no medical reason for your dog’s apparent depression, you can do a few things to help your dog break free of the dumps:
- Give your dog more attention (but do it in moderation so your dog can work through their emotions on their schedule) – just enough to reassure your dog that they are safe and loved;
- Keep your dog active; walks and outdoor games can give them the physical boost in dopamine and serotonin that might help them to rebalance their brain chemistry;
- Bring your dog to doggie socials. Dogs are very much social animals and a good romp with their canine counterparts may be just the ticket;
- Be consistent: keep a regular routine – this will decrease your dog’s anxiety levels and reassure them that they need not get depressed over insecurities and uncertainties in their life; and
5 Do not reward your depressed dog with treats if they misbehave, whine or bark when told to stop, or manifest other negative misbehaviors; rewards will just confuse your dog and reinforce the very depression symptoms you want to reduce or eliminate.
With respect to older guide dogs, your guide might start manifesting some of these signs when it is getting near the time to retire. Other signs are: reluctance to get into harness, hesitation to climb aboard a vehicle, lack of focus on the job of guiding, repeated distractibility even after correction, inappropriate sociability, and just plain sitting and refusing to go any farther. It is important to pay attention to these signs because an old guide dog who should be retired could be a danger to itself and to you.
Acknowledging that your dog can become depressed and knowing the most common signs of doggie depression will help you to be more attuned to your dog’s moods and behaviors. An off day or two isn’t a reason for concern, but if your dog starts to manifest some of the signs listed above for more than a few weeks, it is probably time to take them to the vet and, depending on what your vet says, take some simple steps to help your dog banish the blahs.
On the Road Again
By Jule Ann Lieberman and Vision Loss Resource Team
It is that time of year again for summer travel. Now that we are less restricted by the COVID pandemic, we may feel more comfortable leaving home. Whether you are traveling out of town or just back out into your own community, I thought it might be helpful if I share my thoughts as a person with profound vision loss who travels for work and pleasure.
Recently I traveled from my home in Devon to Harrisburg to participate in a conference as part of my work. This meant train trips, hotel stay and navigating a hotel venue.
Let us start at the beginning, which would be the planning stage. This trip, I contacted the conference hotel and made a reservation for a two-night stay. Since I travel with my trusty guide dog, I typically ask for a lower-level room if available. This helps me exit and enter more easily to provide my dog time to “do his business” without delays that can occur with a busy elevator. This year I observed that many of the conference attendees who have traveled with the help of their service dogs were all routinely given rooms on the first floor.
With the room reservation set, I then researched the best train travel to Harrisburg and back to Devon. The Am Track station nearest to my home is in Paoli, PA. This newly renovated train station has a platform that serves both the SEPTA regional rail line service between Philadelphia and Paoli Station and an Am Track train heading to Harrisburg and Pittsburgh. Paoli Station is busier and more complex than Devon station during the middle of the day. Boarding at Devon Station is much easier for me. The SEPTA train from Devon will allow me to exit one train and board the Am Track train on the same platform in Paoli.
Devon station during the middle of the day is incredibly quiet. Rather than hiring a shared ride to take me from my home and then maneuver through the Paoli train station complex, I arranged for a ride from home for the short distance to the Devon train station. Other than needing some assistance to lift my suitcase onto the regional rail train, this was much easier for me, as when in Paoli I just rolled off the train onto the platform shared by Am Track.
I scheduled my Am Track reservation on-line, and as it had my email address, I got notifications regarding any delays or changes to my scheduled train. This also included an email that offered an opportunity to upgrade my coach seat to business class through an on-line bidding process. Considering that I was traveling with a large suitcase and my 74-pound Labrador, having the extra room was very appealing. This train happened to be the Pennsylvanian which travels from New York to Pittsburgh through Harrisburg. Having traveled this train previously, I remembered that it could be crowded by the time it arrives in Paoli. I placed a bid and was upgraded to business class. One observation on this train is that the Am Track crew always seems friendly and extremely helpful in finding a seat for me and even pulling my suitcase to my seat, thanks crew!
AS it happened this time, a fellow conference attendee and colleague was also on that train. Once we arrived in Harrisburg, we both had Red Cap support staff accompany us to the elevator and then out to where taxi or shuttles pick up passengers. Fortunately for me, the hotel shuttle was available, and I joined her for the trip to the hotel. The shuttle driver escorted both of us to the hotel front desk to check -in.
The check-in process was smooth and I had ready my ID card and credit card for registration. Hint, keep your ID and the credit card consistently in the same place in your wallet to avoid having to identify them among various cards. Keeping a signature guide in your wallet also makes it easier to sign any registration documents during check in. I was then given my room keys. Yes, although traveling alone, I usually ask for two keys so that I can keep one handy and one in my purse to avoid forgetting and leaving my room without one.
I asked the bell captain to help me find my room. I then followed, being careful to note how many turns and in what hallway my room was located. I find it helpful to listen to sounds of ice machines, soda machines or any environmental sounds to clue me in that I am getting close to my room. I then “mark” with my dog the room location by reinforcing him with a treat. My dog is very dependable and once he knows the room, he finds it every time, even when I try to trick him up. Clever dog!
I locate the room number and read the Braille or raised numbers to confirm we are correct. Friends have tied a ribbon, twist tie or rubber band on the door handle to also confirm the correct room.
This hotel uses the magnetic swipe key. Finding the correct direction to insert and swipe can be a challenge. I have on past occasions requested a small piece of tape be added to the key to help me orient it when at my door. If I have not done this, I will pull out some tiny lock dots and place them on the key once I have successfully determined the direction.
Now the best part for my dog, dinner time. I pack enough food for the entire stay plus an extra serving or two in case there is a delay in my return. Always packed with me is my treat pouch for rewards and my clean up bags for being a good hotel guest.
The next step was to adjust the thermostat, as in this case the room was very cold. I tried contacting the front desk for assistance; however, the desk was quite busy. Rather than being terribly cold, I pulled out my iPhone and called my AIRA agent. Even she was surprised to read the temperature of the room was 62 degrees. She took a picture of the thermostat and guided me to the location to both the up and down controls and the choice of auto or fan.
I kept my iPhone handy and moved to the bathroom to locate the shampoo etc. I used my SeeingAI app on my phone to identify the tiny bottles and strategically located them in the shower. I also bring along my own bottles that have rubber bands of varied sizes to indicate the contents. Since I was staying only a few days, I packed my medications in pill packets, placed them in a separate larger zipped bag marked according to the scheduled time.
I have fortunately been to this hotel several times, so orientation is a little easier when traveling to the conference registration desk and sessions. I do read over the hotel description ahead of time at the conference website in case any renovations have changed the layout. This hotel has only one restaurant and it is conveniently just past the conference session rooms near the front door.
After getting settled in, I made my way to get an early dinner. I found the host near the entrance and was escorted to my table. Again, using my iPhone and SeeingAI app I read the menu.
The meetings and conference sessions digital program provided clear identification of session and room location. The only complication I encountered was at one of the evenings’ get togethers as it was in the dark sunken part of the lobby. I asked for assistance of one of my fellow attendees to help me get to the elevators which was one of the orientation points I memorized to return to my room. Asking for assistance is acceptable and most people are happy to help once you let them know the help you need.
On the last evening of the conference, I stopped back at the front desk and scheduled a shuttle ride back to the train station. I was taking the Pennsylvanian back to Paoli so again bid on an upgrade ticket. Although the train was not overly crowded, I did appreciate the extra leg room. I repeated the same journey back to Devon on the regional rail where I arranged for a pickup to take me home. It was a great conference, meeting with old friends and being introduced to students preparing to be vision professionals.
Travel independently as a person who is blind or has low vision can be a success with planning. Remember to pack your patience with yourself and other travelers. Traveling by air is not that much different, planning and arranging assistance with the airlines can make for a positive experience. I hope this story gave you some ideas and you are ready to venture out this year.
“K” Marks the Spot
By Tony Swartz, member Technology Team
Is there a page on the web that you often go to with specific information that you want to locate quickly? Maybe it’s a stock listings page, a reservations page, or a media player page; whatever it may be, Jaws provides a handy tool to find the information with a press of a single key.
Here are two examples of the use of Jaws Permanent PlaceMarkers which have proven quite useful for me. I often read my morning newspapers using the web version of NFB Newsline. On my personal publications list, I have about 40 newspapers selected. Given that the list often includes three daily editions, the list is quite long. I have seven newspapers which are my go-to reads on mornings when I’m a bit pressed for time. I’ve placed Permanent PlaceMarkers on the heading for the seven newspapers so that I can move down the list to locate them quickly. In another example, I often listen to baseball games through the MLB.TV web application. The opening page of the application gives a listing of all the television and radio broadcasts for each game played on the current date. I’ve placed a Permanent PlaceMarker on my team’s radio broadcast link. Once the link is activated, the game begins to play and a media player is displayed. I’ve marked each of the media player controls, such as rewind, pause, and fast forward, with Permanent PlaceMarkers. By pressing the letter “k” and shift “K” I can move forward and backward through the Permanent PlaceMarkers on the page.
The webpages in both of these examples don’t include much in the way of HTML webpage elements such as headings, paragraphs, or regions. Originally I scrolled down through each of the pages to familiarize myself with their content, but scrolling down through them each time I want to use them would be frustrating and a needless waste of time.
How to Create Permanent PlaceMarkers
The first step is to familiarize yourself with the webpage you plan to return to. If it requires more than two or three presses of a Jaws quick navigation key to locate the information you’ll be regularly seeking, then creating a Permanent PlaceMarker is a good strategy.
Once you’ve located a place on the webpage to which you’d like to regularly return, press the key combination of Control+Shift+K which will place you in the PlaceMarker List dialog. In this dialogue you can view any placeMarkers already created for this page, (create a PlaceMarker, remove a specific PlaceMarker, or remove all PlaceMarkers for the page). To create a PlaceMarker for the specific place where you wish to return, you may either press the enter key, the ALT+A key combination, or tab over to the add button and press enter; whichever add method you have chosen, you will now be asked to assign a name to the PlaceMarker. The name preselected for you is the wording on the page where you plan to return. I really can’t remember a time when I thought this wasn’t the most appropriate name for the marker, so I then tab over to the next field, a check box “Define for All Pages On Current Domain”. I usually find it’s best to leave this box unchecked, because if the site has many pages, you wouldn’t want to locate this information other than on this specific page. Tab over to the next check box, “Anchor To Text”. Here’s where it can get a bit tricky. Remember my first example with NFB Newsline of a list of many newspapers? If I want to locate the Allentown Morning Call, but the text next to the “Anchor To Text” field says “Allentown Morning Call 05/18/2022”, after several days, that exact string will no longer be on the page, so my PlaceMarker will stop working. I need to remove the date string “05/18/22″from the edit field beside the “Anchor To Text” check box, to simply read “Allentown Morning Call “. Now every day I know that it will always locate that wording, so I check the box. I now tab over to OK and either press the enter key or press the spacebar to create the Permanent PlaceMarker and dismiss the dialogue box. Once the Permanent PlaceMarker has been created, to locate the spot on the page, I need only press the letter “k”, or if I have several Permanent PlaceMarkers on the page, pressing “k” or “shift+k” will move the focus back and forth through the markers.
A last word of caution: When I’ve investigated complaints of a Permanent PlaceMarker not working, I’ve always found it a result of too much specific text in the “Anchor to Text” field. For instance, on a shopping page, when creating a Permanent PlaceMarker on a “Total Price” field, the individual creating the PlaceMarker has failed to remove the amount, so Jaws is looking for “Total Price: $550”. Removing the amount, “$550”, from the “Anchor to Text” field resolves the issue.
What Message Is Being Sent?
By William H. Grignon
Recently, three events in my local area caused me to ponder what message is being sent to the sighted world about people who are blind. The first was the annual Dining in the Dark fundraiser hosted by the local Lighthouse agency. The second was a private party hosted by a person with vision loss, where the sighted people were told to bring used items from which the blind guests would choose. The third was a gathering sponsored by a “of the Blind” organization, where two sighted people were dragooned to run around serving the blind people because, according to members of the organization’s leadership, “Blind people can’t serve themselves.” In this PCB year of Self-Reliance, I couldn’t help asking, “What message is being sent?”
Dining in the Dark (DITD) is a longstanding fundraising gimmick where sighted guests are blindfolded then forced to eat their meals, forcing them to eat in public as though they were suddenly blinded and afforded absolutely no coping skills or strategies. Unable to see and receiving no training, these guests fumble around and knock things over. At the end of the meal, they are told to remove their blindfolds and, experiencing an overwhelming sense of relief, are asked to write big fat checks to the Lighthouse.
It’s not difficult to fathom the evening’s message: blindness is scary, being blind is clumsy and embarrassing, sight is good and precious, and sighted people should shell out big bucks for the sightless unfortunates.
The private dinner party brought together blind and sighted guests. Again, what could have been an opportunity to connect people through a shared human experience was sabotaged when the sighted invitees were encouraged to bring along a used item to donate to blind attendees. They brought such items as small household appliances, dishes, serving plates, and the like – all used. During the party, each blind person was invited to go up to the table on which the items were placed and choose an item. At the end, each blind person left with their used “gift,” while each sighted person left with quite an impression of blind people.
The private dinner presents a worse message than the DITD: blind people are not only poor but are in desperate need of cast-offs from sighted people.
The gathering featuring sighted servers while blind people sat on their big, fat, um, chairs, illustrates a pernicious strain of defeatist thought within the blindness community, where blind people believe the negative messaging, count themselves as somehow lacking, and perpetuate negative stereotypes through their passive acquiescence to broken assumptions and low expectations.
One doesn’t have to strain the imagination to conjure what sighted people think coming away from any of these events: blind people are inferior, pathetic, useless, and desperate.
There isn’t much one can say about the private sighted-blind swap. This is just wrong in so many ways and should be avoided at all costs.
The “of the Blind” organization should have known better, but no matter how many self-advocacy workshops, pep-talks, and cheerleading events, sighted-world prejudices prove strong and lasting for many with vision loss. Maybe it’s just easier to go along, maybe it’s too hard to constantly fight for rights and insist on independence, maybe it’s just plain exhaustion at trying to navigate the line between tired individual and diplomatic champion. One can only hope that this organization can find a place to meet, talk, and reaffirm its core principals. If not, then it might be facing schism and the loss of its most ardent practitioners.
But DITD presents a more nuanced dilemma. Practically speaking, DITD could constitute a real teaching moment that shows the sighted world just how competent blind people can be.
Imagine a DITD event that began with blind people teaching the sighted people around their table the basics of blind dining. They could explain how we use a slow-and-low reach across the table to find and identify various objects like silverware, napkins, water glasses, and other drink glasses. They could teach diners how to imagine the plate to be the face of a clock to locate various items on the plate. They could teach them how to use their utensils to locate, measure off, and slice manageable bite-sized portions. The meal would then become an educational event at which the blind person is the learned teacher, and the blindfolded sighted diners would be the students applying new skills to an unusual situation.
Gone would be the sudden thrust into darkness and gone would be the flailing, the fumbling, and the feeling of desperate aloneness.
Instead, the sighted diners would learn that blind people take on the challenge of blindness, learn skills, adapt, and conduct themselves with dignity, dexterity, and decorum – the essence of self-reliance.
People with vision loss should have the right to control how they are depicted and perceived. Too often, sighted people and “for the blind” organizations make decisions, enact protocols, and hold events that only manage to rehearse negative tropes. Sadly, it is almost axiomatic that people involved in the Blindness Industry owe their jobs and their power to the perpetuation of these negative tropes. Too often, too many fall into the easy trap of keeping blind people down and dependent so they can stay 1-up and employed. And DITD is just one tool by which these sighted… um… (is “jailors” too strong a word?) … perpetuate the myths, negative tropes, and power structures.
It’s even sadder when blind people drink the Kool Aid and lock themselves into their private prisons of self-defeatism.
It can be exhausting being the ambassador, the teacher, or the role model. Many times, you want to just be you. But the world can thrust us into sharp relief against the primal fears of a sighted world and, we, once again, must pause, take stock, reckon if this is indeed yet another teachable moment, and, if it is, take up the challenge with grace and aplomb. Or maybe not. Maybe we just let the moment pass and save our passions for those who value and affirm us. After all, our passion is not limitless and why not share it with kindred spirits and celebrate our secret knowledge – our inside joke – our tasty little truth that we are simply fine and that vision loss is just part of us living the good life, no matter what other blind people practice and the sighted world thinks.
What Do You Want and What Do You Want to Do?
By Communications Team
Even before COVID forced us to hold virtual conventions, PCB struggled to reach out, contact, and keep its peers engaged.
What do you, the PCB peer, want and what do you want to do (with and for PCB)?
We ask these questions because we have not been able to figure out answers for the past several years.
We have tried several formats to collect your thoughts on what PCB can bring to you as a peer and a chapter. We have tried website questionnaires, phone calls, emails, surveys, invited chapter presidents to facilitate dialogs, but we have often met with indifference or apathy. Low participation levels tell us that we are doing something wrong.
We know that all of us don’t come to this organization from the same place. Some of us have only participated in our chapters figuring that there are others to participate in the state wide organization. Some of us get our information from the PCB Information Line picking and choosing the level of participation in the PCB offerings. Some of us get our information from all of the different PCB email lists that we belong to. Some of us rely on friends and other peers to let us know about events of interest. Some of us join several different teams which carry on the business of PCB. Some of us come to Open House calls to catch up on what might be happening throughout the state. Many of us, however, pay our dues and don’t join in any other PCB activities.
Can you give us ideas about what you want from PCB, whether you participate already or would participate if we offered what you want? Do you want virtual game nights? Do you want discussions about current events? Do you want topical discussions in areas like gardening, antiques, history, sports, technology, or science?
Would you like the PCB Advocate to have more literature or word puzzles? If the discussion topics that were chosen in the past didn’t interest you, let us know what you would be more interested in. We can even help you start your own discussion calls. Do you want something that we have not mentioned? We don’t even know for sure how many of you will actually read this article in The PCB Advocate because we know that it could fall into that black hole of unread newsletters and magazines that every household generates.
That second question about what you can do for PCB is even tougher. People often think that they have nothing to offer to a PCB team, but you’d be surprised to know that you can bring ideas to a team that you have an interest in. Some of us who have worked on teams and projects for years stick around partly because we don’t see someone new coming to take on the job we have been doing.
Please think about both halves of the question at the beginning of the article. Your ideas are not only welcome, they are encouraged and celebrated. If you don’t know who to contact, you can always call Autumn at the Office: (717) 920-9999 or (877) 617-7407, or email her at email@example.com. Or you can contact your chapter president or secretary and they should be able to give you the name and contact info of a PCB peer who will be happy to hear from you, listen to your ideas, and work with you to make your vision and passion a reality.
But maybe you like things just the way they are; and that is certainly your prerogative. The bigger question remains, however, how long will things remain just the way they are when membership is shrinking, leadership is wearying, we are all getting older, and projects tend to die on the vine? The math is not hard. All the trends are cause for concern. And there is really only one way these trends can be reversed: PCB needs you to step out, step up, and step in!
LVCB: Transitions + Adjustments + Support = A Thriving Organization
By Elizabeth Oleksa, LVCB President
The winter months not only brought much cold weather, snow and wind, but also has blown in some challenges for our members, which transforms into transitions. As of January 1, 2022, the LVCB new officers began in their new roles. Before introducing them here, I would first like to recognize the fantastic efforts and work from our officers the past 2 years. Gary Dvorshak, President; Dorothy Montero, Vice President; Jameel Memon, Treasurer; Elaine Young, Recording Secretary; and Dianne Michels, Corresponding Secretary. A huge thank you to each one of you for all your hard work during the COVID Pandemic, and still making our meeting and outreach be the best it could be in the given circumstances.
With a new year, new officers have come along. We now welcome the following individuals into their new or returning roles, and look forward to another year of growth, outreach and advocacy. Elizabeth Oleksa, President; Gary Dvorshak, Vice President; Jameel Memon, Treasurer; Elaine Young, Recording Secretary; and Dianne Michels, Corresponding Secretary.
As mentioned above, there have been many transitions for our members and officers in personal lives over the past several months. Vice President Gary Dvorshak’s son passed away. Member Frank Gasper’s wife passed away in January. President Elizabeth Oleksa’s husband passed away the beginning of February. Several other members have been dealing with severely ill family members or even illnesses themselves. I am mentioning all these things for a very important reason: the number of adjustments in everyday life after dealing with any forms of loss, trauma or crisis takes a significant amount of time to work through. However, the Lehigh Valley Council of the Blind is not only an advocacy and peer support network for individuals living with sight loss and blindness, but a place where we can all lean on one another through all hardships we encounter in our lives.
The support, encouragement, and empowerment that is shared within our community has brought us all so much closer together, as a large extension of family. Countless members and our officers have stated how this specific aspect of our chapter truly allows us to stand out among others similar to us. Yes, we obviously offer support in the areas of sight loss, blindness, education, employment and transportation, just to name a few. However, when we all take that extra step toward providing one another with “Life” support, the bonds and connections that are made bring us all even closer together.
We share our heart-aches and trials, as well as our excitements, accomplishments and achievements in life. The constant support, love and encouragement that is received by all those who need it is truly heartwarming. For this reason, and many many others, I am proud to be not only a member, but the current President of LVCB.
Now, with the months getting warmer and the sun shining upon our skin and the summer months quickly approaching, as we begin looking ahead, the LVCB chapter has begun meeting in person for our monthly meetings again. For those who are not able to yet join us in person, we are using a “free conference call” phone line where members can still call in and be a part of our meetings. A hybrid-attendance of sorts.
We continue to witness our membership growing, as of now, we are up to 37 members and still growing. Our members range from 18 years old up through 86 years old. Each individual in our chapter brings a different perspective and a variety of gifts, talents and strengths to add into the “growing with the ages” mindset.
We are active on social media platforms, such as Facebook and Instagram. Our website brings a significant amount of traffic to our email inbox as well as new people coming to check out our meetings. If you have not had an opportunity to check out the LVCB website, it can be found by going to: www.lvcb1993.org.
With each new day that passes, new challenges are presented, new obstacles must be overcome and new accomplishments can be achieved for us all to be proud of and celebrated. We feel strongly about advocating for the needs of accessible technology, accessible health care, and more accessible aspects of life. In this, the Publicity and Programming Committee is proud to be bringing in a variety of guest speakers in the coming months.
All in all, we who are the Lehigh Valley Council of the Blind are keeping our heads held high, working through these life challenges with the support of each other, and hoping for a continued wonderful year. Every new day is an opportunity for growth, transition, gentle challenges and expansion. Together, we strive to thrive, no matter what comes our ways.
The Poetic Journey: From Darkness into the Light
By Elizabeth Oleksa, BA
I wanted to take a moment and share some exciting news, which may also be beneficial for some of you in your own journeys through life and sight-loss. I have personally found that writing poetry of all kinds has been an excellent form of expression and an unbelievable coping skill to get me through tough times. With this being said, on March 22, 2022, my first ever book of poetry had been published and is now available for purchase on Amazon! This book is available in both paperback and Kindle editions. The Kindle versions are accessible with screen reader technology. The paperback copies make great gifts!!
The book is titled, The Poetic Journey: From Darkness into the Light, written by Elizabeth Oleksa, BA.
If you are interested in learning more, please reach out to me off the list-serve at: firstname.lastname@example.org. I would be thrilled to discuss further there, or check out the link at the bottom of this email.
Below, you can find a brief synopsis of the book and what it includes.
The Poetic Journey: From Darkness into the Light is a compilation of poems written over several years. This compilation provides an insight on personal understanding, a positive growth mindset, self-discovery, and acceptance, as I traversed through a multitude of chronic co-morbidities and health concerns. Each poem offers a glimpse into the emotions, thoughts, actions, and life situations experienced in my own journey. As with so many facets of life, there will always be a hurdle to overcome, a challenge to work through, or a mountain to climb. Throughout my personal experiences, I have gathered an understanding that when we lift the limitations that both society and we have placed on ourselves, we are able to move forward more freely. This mindset has forever impacted the ways in which I perceive the roads through life. Although health diagnoses are life altering, it is truly how each person chooses to work through them and arrive to the other side of either healing or a deeper understanding.
These poems range from birth to death, from diagnosis to healing, from confusion to understanding, from sighted to blind, from fixed mindset to a growth mindset, from despair to hope, and from darkness into light.
I share these poems with light and love, with the desire to contribute a form of hope and even insight for those who may have or may currently be traveling a challenging road in life. My wish is that each person who reads the poems realizes that they do not need to travel their road alone, and that there are in fact others in the community and world that care and understand. My dream is that those who read the poems may find a sense of connection with my writing, as well as feelings of peace, comfort, and contentment as they continue to move forward in life.
To purchase Kindle copies or to view more information, you can click on the link below:
If you are interested in a paperback copy that is personalized and signed by the author, copies are $20 each plus the cost of media mail shipping. I accept payments via cash and Zelle®.
Please celebrate this exciting accomplishment with me! I had my official book launch and signing event on May 22, 2022 which went very well. I am also in the process of getting set up with Barnes and Nobles book stores in the Lehigh Valley area, Cedar Crest College as an Alumna, and local libraries doing author-signing events. Such exciting times. I share all of this will you to offer a gentle reminder that you truly can make your dreams come true, as long as you believe in yourself. Magic happens in so many corners of our lives and we just need to open our hearts and minds to have the magic present and show it to us all!!!
Elizabeth Oleksa, BA
Appendix 1: Pennsylvania Council of the Blind (PCB)
2022 Virtual Conference and Convention
Session Proposal Form
All fields must be completed. Only fully completed forms will be reviewed. Email forms to email@example.com by
July 1, 2022.
Session proposed by:
___PCB Team ___PCB Peer
Name of session leader:
Co-Presenter 1 Name:
Co-Presenter 2 Name:
Type: ___Lecture/ Panel Discussion ___Workshop/Breakout Session
Time Required: ___30 Mins. ___45 Mins. ___60 Mins.
Expected Lessons – Provide 3 audience take-aways.
Check all dates/times you would be available to present:
Thursday, October 27, 2022
Friday, October 28, 2022
_____Morning _____Afternoon _____Evening
Saturday, October 29, 2022
Sunday, October 30, 2022
Indicate any A/V requirements (i.e., screen sharing, assistance with pre-recorded audio, etc.):
Will handouts be provided? ___Yes ___No
Please note: Handouts must be emailed to PCB by September 27 in order to make sure they are provided in accessible formats.
Would you like information about becoming an exhibitor? ___Yes ___No
All forms must be submitted electronically by July 1, 2022 in Word or Text. Submit to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Contributions are encouraged to support the accessible formatting of The PCB Advocate in braille, DAISY audio cartridge, large print, and electronic Word file. Donations are tax deductible. Gifts can be made by credit card either online at pcb1.org or by phone to 877-617-7407. Donations by check can be mailed to PCB, PO Box 68, Volant, PA 16156-0068.
PCB TEAMS AND LEADERS
Advocacy: Chris Hunsinger
(Meets Third Monday 7:30 p.m. in odd months and Advocacy for All Calls in even months.)
Awards: Will Grignon
(Meets as needed for a couple of months before a convention)
Communications: Will Grignon
(Meets Second Tuesday at 7:30 p.m.)
Conference Program and Planning
[Looking for a Team leader.]
(Meets Second Thursday at 7:30 p.m.)
Finance: Michael Zaken
(Meets Third Thursday at 7:30 p.m.)
Fund Development: Mary Ann Grignon
(Meets Third Wednesday 7:30 p.m.)
Peer Engagement: Suzanne Erb
(Meets 1st Wednesday at 7:30 p.m.)
Parliamentary: Carla Hayes
(Meets Fourth Tuesday 9:00 p.m.)
Technology Access: Joe Fagnani
(Meets First Thursday 8 p.m.)
Vision Loss Resource: Jule Ann Lieberman
(Meets Third Tuesday 8 p.m.)
Cumberland County, [in process]
Golden Triangle, Tom Burgunder, 412-502-6931
Hank Bloomberg, Michael Peterson, 814-205-4555, ITSMIKE@GMAIL.COM
- F. K, David Lee Shaw, 215-747-4886
Keystone, Cathy Long, 717-732-5265
Lehigh Valley, Elizabeth Oleksa, C610-392-9551, email@example.com
Oil Valley, Ron Montgomery, 814-365/2475, firstname.lastname@example.org
PAGDUS, Rose Martin, 215-756-1624
Philadelphia Regional, Shirley Brotman, 215-745-5873
Washington County, Carla Hayes, 724-941/8184, email@example.com
York County, Wendy Shope, 717- 675-0452
PCB BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Christine Hunsinger, President, 412-881-9328
Mary Ann Grignon, 1st VP, 570-807-1276
Rosemary Martin, 2nd VP, 215-756-1624
Jacqueline Wissinger, Secretary, 814-765-6768
Michael Zaken, Treasurer, 412-655-1234
Sue Lichtenfels, Past President, 412-429-1727
Donald Dunn, Director, 215-483-6935
Suzanne Erb, Director, 215-568-5795
William Grignon, Director, 727-564-9759
Doug Hunsinger, Director, 412-512-4268
Cathy Long, Director, 717-732-5265
Sandy Marsiglia, Director, 717-635-9937
Robert Shingleton, Director, 484-529-4911
Roger Simmons, Director, 717-885-3055
Free Matter for the Blind
(Handle as 1st class Mail)
Domestic Mail Manual Sec. 135.7
PA COUNCIL OF THE BLIND
PO Box 68
Volant, PA 16156-0068