Volume 41 Winter, 1998 No. 4
here for Table of Contents
Click here to learn more about the K A B V I Newsletter
Quarterly by The Kansas Association for the Blind and Visually
P.O. BOX 292
Topeka Kansas 66601
An Affiliate of the American Council of the Blind
FREE MATTER FOR THE BLIND OR HANDICAPPED
THE PURPOSE OF THE K A B V I NEWS, THE
KANSAS ASSOCIATION FOR THE
BLIND AND VISUALLY IMPAIRED, INC., IS TO PROMOTE THE GENERAL
WELFARE OF THE BLIND IN KANSAS.
THE K A B V I NEWS SHALL REFLECT THE
PHILOSOPHY AND POLICIES OF THE
ASSOCIATION, REPORT THE ACTIVITIES OF ITS MEMBERS AND INCLUDE
PERTINENT ARTICLES REGARDING VISUAL IMPAIRMENT.
ANY ARTICLES FOR PUBLICATION SHOULD
BE FORWARDED TO THE EDITOR BY
October 15, 1998. MUST BE DOUBLE-SPACED. EDITORIAL STAFF RESERVES
THE RIGHT TO EDIT SUBMITTED MATERIALS.
EDITOR, NANCY JOHNSON
714 SW WAYNE AVE.
TOPEKA KS 66606-1753
ASSOCIATE EDITOR, GRACEANN HEINIGER
200 E 32ND
HAYS KS 67601
CONTRIBUTING EDITOR, BONNIE BYINGTON
1135 SW COLLEGE
TOPEKA KS 66604
COORDINATOR, Nita Murphy
CHAIRMAN OF THE BOARD & PRESIDENT,
SANFORD J. ALEXANDER, III
5321 PLAZA LANE
WICHITA KS 67208
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Harold Henderson, Mail Coordinator
Wichita KS 67218
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TABLE OF CONTENTS
PRESIDENT'S PERSPECTIVE by Sanford J. Alexander, III
NOTIONS by Nancy Johnson
PROGRESS REPORT ON COMMISSION BILL by Michael Byington
REPORT FROM THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS by Nancy Johnson
FIRST ANNUAL K A B V I/KSDS/LIONS FOCUS DAY
KSSB ADVISORY BOARD MEETING by Ann Byington
SOUNDS FROM THE SIDELINES by Janelle Edwards
ESTHER V. TAYLOR SCHOLARSHIPS by Beulah Carrington
A LITTLE MORE ABOUT THE NFBK CONVENTION by Michael Byington
MARATHON SWIM by Sharon Luka
DR. NESMITH WAS RENOWNED EYE SURGEON by Nicole Koch, The Wichita Eagle
ENVISION OPENS TOPEKA FACILITY by Michael Byington
BITS AND PIECES
1999 BOARD OF DIRECTORS
by Sanford J. Alexander, III
Things certainly have been moving at a hectic pace over the
past couple of months. It seems the more that one does, the more
remains to be tackled; and, the only thing you have with more
time to do things are more things to do!
In my last column I spoke about the upcoming KABVi
convention and the possibility of the question of promoting
efforts to establish a Commission for the Blind in Kansas. Well,
the events I expected did happen but so did several that were
less certain or unexpected.
The K A B V I convention passed, and the Board ratified a
resolution designed to address the Commission question. I
attended the National Federation of the Blind of Kansas
convention in response to the invitation issued to me by Diane
Hemphill at our convention. Just prior to attending the NFBK
convention, I learned of the death of Dr. Kenneth Jernigan. At
the NFBK convention K A B V I representatives were well received and
had an opportunity to observe how things looked under a slightly
different lens. That convention passed only one resolution but
it was an important one; it called for the NFBK to undertake
efforts to establish a Commission in a resolution quite
compatible to the one passed by K A B V I. I met with NFBK president
Susie Stanzel to discuss forming a joint committee to negotiate a
Commission Bill both organizations could vigorously support.
As I write this column, I am reviewing events of yesterday
(November 13, 1998) which can have far-reaching meaning for all
blind and visually impaired Kansans. The Division of Services
for the Blind (DSB) Advisory Committee met and discussed many
issues of importance; but, none more important than what the
future of specialized services for blind Kansans would be.
Commissioner Joyce Cussimanio was present for the first part of
the meeting before leaving for another meeting and Assistant
Commissioner Dennis Rogers, who appeared at the K A B V I convention
for Commissioner Cussimanio who was unable to make it due to
family emergencies, attended the entire meeting. The questions
of what might be the possible futures for the RCB and KIB were
energetically discussed with it being stated that the question of
being forced to vacate the present location at 6th and McVicar
was beyond discussion. Commissioner Cussimanio was advised that
legislation to preserve this location might be introduced. The
afternoon was devoted to a lively discussion revolving around
many of the historic concerns that have been brought to the
present and previous Commissioners. Mr. Rogers, who was to
attend the next meeting to consider formation of a study group
was offered a healthy portion of the group's feelings, concerns,
hopes and exasperations. He was told, as have been many others,
that the blind community did not oppose constructive change
leading to improvement of services but did vigorously oppose
change for change's sake or that would lead to a dissolution of
the high quality of specialized services presently in place.
Commissioner Cussimanio returned from her meeting in Kansas
City for the 3:30 meeting, chaired by Laura Howard, Special
Assistant to Secretary Rochelle Chronister, Dennis Rogers,
Suzannah Erhart, Susie Stanzel and myself. The two hour meeting
would be impossible to condense in a short space but the
highlights included a frank discussion of our concerns, a
demonstration of solid unity between the K A B V I and the NFBK on
the issue of preserving categorical services for the blind, a
promise that there was no hidden agenda or preconceived
conclusion on the part of SRS, a commitment to develop a working
committee that would review the entire scope of services to blind
Kansans provided through DSB, a guarantee that all stakeholders
would be kept informed in an effort to minimize anxiety over
troublesome issues, and a clear presentation of the solid
commitment the consumer groups have to do everything possible to
protect the best interests of all blind Kansans. The reasons for
some of the mistrust of Commissioner Cussimanio were discussed
and she was asked to be clear and forthcoming in presenting
information. Ms. Stanzel and I presented our position that if
categorical services was not a common point of agreement, the
efforts of the proposed work group would be pointless; but, if
Commissioner Cussimanio's pledge of doing everything to provide
quality services included a commitment to separate, identifiable
and comprehensive quality services for blind and visually
impaired Kansans, we would support her completely. We pointed
out that the need to present clear, unambiguous information was
essential. Both Susie and I also advised the rest of the group
that our organizations had embarked on a campaign to establish a
commission for the blind which was an effort not easily halted
once launched and that we would be working as hard as we could on
parallel tracks. Mr. Rogers assured us that abandonment of
efforts to establish a commission would not be made a
prerequisite to working with SRS on the evaluation of current
What does it all mean? From my perspective, this was one of
the most important days in the history of services for the blind
in the state of Kansas. It saw one of the most impassioned
expressions by the blind community regarding its concerns, fears
and hopes. It saw the intervention of the SRS Secretary's office
in a way long-sought but always illusive. It witnessed some of
the closest cooperation between KaBVI and NFBK in our histories.
It demonstrated how much more we agree upon and how choosing to
set aside those points upon which we do not agree can clear the
path to cooperation on our common goals. It saw expression of a
commitment to quality services by SRS and a promise to work with
us in achieving them. It gave us yet another opportunity to
state our willingness to examine every aspect of DSB services if
such exploration was sparked by a desire to improve services
within a categorical framework that has been proven over history
to be the most effective delivery system. It may, perhaps, even
be the day the importance of and reasons for categorical services
was finally internalized and truly understood by the state
officials responsible for directing DSB programs.
Our peers in Pennsylvania are leading the way for us on this
matter. The Commission Bill they were able to get passed along
with another from Arizona and the last one K A B V I and NFBK worked
on in 1987 served as the models from which the current proposed
Bill were crafted. The Capitol rally in Harrisburg on September
29, 1998 at which 800 blind people gathered serves as our model
of how the two major consumer groups can join hands on the truly
vital common interests. The response they received from an
already enlightened Legislature holds hope out to us that we,
too, can present our case in a way enabling our legislators to
understand this complex question. The reality of our unity on
issues that will determine what, perhaps if any, services will
exist for blind and visually impaired Kansans in the future, may
awaken a sense of responsibility and commitment on the part of
those in Government resulting in a review and (if and where
necessary) a revision of current services with the goal of
Most of all, from my perspective, it marks the point in
history where our efforts to date have reaped their results, one
of which is the prospect of much hard work on all our parts to
determine whether these outcomes become realities or just visions
of what could have been.
by Nancy Johnson
The holiday season will have come when you read this. I
struggled with this issue because I'd rather have fun with this
space than launch into disturbing thoughts. Conscience won't
allow that in this year's climate so, before it gets heavy, best
wishes to you and yours for this and future holiday seasons. May
they be filled with peace and happiness for you and yours. I
pray future generations enjoy opportunities for success at least
as great as I have had.
It scares me to think individuals with impaired vision or
blindness may no longer have opportunities to overcome those
impairments. I'm convinced all concerned for the well-being of
present and future generations must majorly strengthen efforts to
insure that opportunities remain. If that means fighting, then
each of us must enter the battle.
An IMPAIRMENT, according to the World Health Organization,
is an organic disfunction. A person with an impairment of vision
has experienced a malfunction of the eyes or vision system that
cannot be fully repaired. Residual physical effects remain.
A DISABILITY is the inability to function as would an
individual without an impairment. Persons with impairments of
vision cannot see as others do. Disabilities result from
impairments. They don't go away. Individuals minimize
disabilities by surmounting psychological barriers, by learning
alternative skills and techniques and by using assistive devices.
Changes in life style result and individuals again become
A HANDICAP is the result of individuals not learning the
skills and techniques necessary to minimize disabilities. Some
individuals choose not to learn to adapt and thus reduce their
participation in society. They handicap themselves. Society
handicaps individuals when it allows the existence of barriers
that prevent their full participation in activities.
Blindness and impaired vision ARE disabilities. Persons
with blindness or impaired vision are responsible to work for,
and have the right to achieve, the same goals as any other
persons. Most individuals with impaired vision or blindness
prefer to be taxpayers rather than tax receivers. All who can
work want to be allowed to work, yet over 70% are unemployed or
underemployed. Only about 30% now hold jobs!
Individuals with impaired vision or blindness want to
overcome their disabilities. Millions of individuals with severe
impairments of all varieties have successfully done so by
learning specific attitudes, skills and techniques. They
shouldn't have to re-invent solutions. Individuals having
educational training or life experience with specific
impairments, such as impaired vision, have expertise and
credibility when sharing their knowledge.
Services (such as those provided by DSB - Division of
Services for the Blind) geared specifically to the needs of each
disability group are society's most effective tool to assure
persons with disabilities are able and have equal opportunities
to contribute maximally to society.
Services to enable persons to overcome the effects of all
types of medical conditions are imperative for successful
recovery of individuals with all varieties of illness. Services
to enable persons to overcome the effects of all types of
impairments are imperative for successful habilitation and
rehabilitation of individuals with sensory, physical, emotional,
cognitive and other disabilities.
Services directly applicable to a specific category of
illness or disability (categorical services) are the specialist
level in medicine and rehabilitation. As there is a need for
medical specialists, so there is a need for rehabilitation
specialists. The next time you have a toothache, visit your
ophthalmologist. And check with your dentist to see why things
look blurry. You wouldn't do that - would you? Dentists and
ophthalmologists provide categorical medical services. By the
same logic, persons who are blind or visually impaired don't seek
orientation and mobility training from professionals with
expertise in using a wheel chair, or vice versa.
K A B V I as an organization, and each member as an individual,
must work to combine and streamline care and services whenever
possible. But, individually and together, we must fight for the
rights of every individual to get special help when special help
is needed. Every individual with a disability - no matter the
category - must receive adequate training and have maximum
opportunities to contribute to society. Individuals who are
blind or visually impaired must continue to receive needed
services for successful independent living and employment.
Because of services
provided by DSB, - flawed as it may be - I'm a taxpaying citizen
today. Rehabilitation teachers helped me fine-tune independent
living techniques. I worked with vocational counselors to earn a
college degree and, more than once, to find jobs. Generations of
individuals with impaired vision and blindness - over 75 years
through K A B V I - have fought to earn and maintain opportunities to
achieve those goals.
Disbanding DSB and the services it provides in the name of
saving taxpayers money would raise significant barriers. How
much tax money will it save when training is not available to
minimize the effects of visual impairments and individuals cannot
earn enough income to contribute to society? When the 30% of the
up-coming visually impaired or blind population, who could
develop independent living and employment skills, don't receive
needed rehabilitation services and become tax receivers
(collecting but returning nothing) will taxpayers accept that?
When seniors enter nursing homes because "I can't see," will
taxpayers support that? Employers and taxpayers today are (I
hope) not willing to support those who can care for and support
My wish for this holiday season is that all persons - with
disabilities or not - enter the new century secure in the
knowledge that they have at their doorsteps whatever they need to
achieve their goals - whatever those goals may be! K A B V I is
fighting to make that happen. Please help K A B V I however you can!
Individuals with blindness or impaired vision, become involved
individually and with K A B V I; You and society will benefit!
PROGRESS REPORT ON COMMISSION BILL
by Michael Byington
Those who attended our 1998 State K A B V I Convention will
recall we adopted a resolutions stating that, if categorical
services for people who are blind continue to be threatened by
Kansas Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services
officials, if closure or dismantlement of services offered
through the Rehabilitation Center for the Blind occurs, or if
discriminatory hiring practices against blind employees at Kansas
Industries for the Blind are not corrected, then perhaps it is
time to re-visit active work on legislation removing the Kansas
Division of Services for the Blind from the quagmire of SRS and
making blind services in Kansas a free standing Commission
answering to the Governors office and to blind Commissioners
appointed for the purpose of operating the service delivery
system. It would appear that specific progress has not been made
on these issues. We also adopted a resolution stating that, if
legislation is attempted to create a free standing commission for
the blind in Kansas, K A B V I should work with other organizations
of the blind to increase chances for success.
Such organizations might include the National Federation of
the Blind of Kansas (NFBK.) At its State Convention in october,
1998, NFBK adopted only one resolution. It states they want to
work on a freestanding Commission bill. NFBK President Susie
Stanzel stated they see no reason to continue to hope these other
issues work out positively. They quite clearly are not doing so.
At this writing, K A B V I Legislative Chair Mary Adams, President
Sanford Alexander, and myself in the capacity of K A B V I Vice
President, have conferred and we largely agree with the NFBK
sentiments. We have had some meetings concerning the three
issues listed at the beginning of the article. There may be
positive progress toward resolving some of the issues at lower
levels, but there is certainly no guarantee that any of the
issues will be resolved in favor of blind Kansans by the current
We have thus met with Dick Edlund, Vice President of NFBK,
President Stanzel, and Jerry Griggs, an NFBK member. We are
working toward the introduction of a joint bill for a
freestanding Commission for the Blind in Kansas. The
representatives of both organizations have so far found the
working relationship to be amicable, and we are hoping and
attempting to make every effort to keep them that way. We did
not have trouble on agreeing concerning basic features of the
specific bill to be proposed. We will keep readers posted as
this effort moves forward.
One thing I would ask is that we do not forget the other
issues we said we would work on through our resolutions. We
probably need to be actively working toward our dream of a
freestanding State Commission for the Blind. This may be
achievable, although I suspect it will be a long and protracted
battle. At the same time, we have said that we plan to work on
such issues as better communications accommodations for Kansans
who are developmentally disabled and deafblind, improving
assessment of literacy and particularly Braille literacy of blind
students in Kansas, and strengthening of the Kansas State Use
Law. All of these issues are important, and perhaps more
immediately achievable than our Commission. We need to work as
hard as we can for the Commission, but we must not let the other
issues go by the side of the road because our focus becomes too
REPORT FROM THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS
by Nancy Johnson
The Pre- and post-convention Meetings of the K A B V I Board Of
Directors were held at Day's Inn, Topeka, Kansas, September 25
and 27, 1998.
Members who have volunteered time on K A B V I projects need to
report their hours to Sanford Alexander. The information is
needed to document activities for the Internal Revenue Service.
Nancy Johnson reported newsletter production moved more
slowly than usual this quarter. The newsletter will now be dated
by season rather than by month. The change in proofreaders
caused additional mailing of disks and required more time.
Efforts to solve remaining braille formatting problems continue.
K.A.B.V.I. NEWS is reputed to be one of the nation's best
newsletters. This is due primarily to the quality work of
contributors and help from
the editorial committee. Members were invited to submit articles
Board members understood K.A.B.V.I. NEWS would be posted on
the American Council of the Blind (ACB) bulletin board and web
site. This has not yet happened. Jay Doudna, member of the ACB
Board Of Publications, said ACB is coping with personnel changes
and a new Web master is not yet available. he agreed to look
into the problem.
Although Vehicle Donation Processing Center (VDPC) sold
eight vehicles, a balance of $1700 remained to pay for publicity
and advertising. When this expense is met, K A B V I will begin
receiving funds from auto auctions.
Mary Adams, Legislative Committee Chair, does not hesitate
to phone legislators and discuss bills under consideration, but
she needs help. K A B V I needS three lobbyists to talk with
legislators about bills of interest AS THEY are evaluated.
Janelle Edwards and Don Johnson will be called first. Beulah
Carrington will act as backup lobbyist. Required fees will be
paid by K A B V I.
A committee was appointed to review K A B V I's by-laws and to
make any necessary recommendations at the Board's January
meeting. Janelle Edwards will chair the committee with members
Michael Byington and Bob Chaffin.
Work on a brochure for K A B V I continues under the direction
of Public Relations Committee chair Sandra Evans. The
organization needs Long range plans relative to dissemination of
information about K A B V I, statewide organization, development of
affiliate relationships, strategies for working effectively with
affiliates, strategies to increase membership, and methods to
involve members more actively in sharing the workload.
The board unanimously accepted the motions and resolutions
passed by the convention.
Four directors are elected annually by the convention. Each
serves a three-year term. The Editor of the K A B V I NEWS is an ex-
officio board position, though Nancy Johnson now serves as a full
board member. Officers serve one year terms. The Chair and
vice-chair of the board must be directors. Other officers and
committee members may be directors or may be chosen from the
membership at large. A list of directors follows the newsletter.
Harold Henderson announced he would like to resign as
membership secretary but he will serve until a replacement is
found. Membership rosters are stored on computer in WordPerfect
5.1 format and can be converted to another system if necessary.
The membership secretary is not a part of the membership
committee. This officer accepts dues, maintains an up-to-date
membership roster, sends the current roster to the treasurer, and
sends official communications to all members. The membership
list is confidential to K A B V I, is not a public record and is not
released to other organizations or companies.
Committees (except legislative) will remain as they are
until the January board meeting. Then new committees will assume
responsibilities. Legislative committee appointments were needed
because the committee is active year-round. The chair is Mary T.
Adams, 412 Topeka Blvd, #3, Topeka, KS 66603: Phone; (785)
235-3315. Members include Bonnie Byington, Michael Byington,
first lobbyist Janelle Edwards, second lobbyist Don Johnson, Eva
Kurtz, Lucille Parli and David Schwinn. Third (backup) lobbyist
Beulah Carrington will not be a legislative committee member.
Three $500 scholarships were awarded by K A B V I in 1998 to
outstanding students with grade point averages of 4.0. When
K A B V I receives verification of a student's first semester college
enrollment, $250 is sent. The second $250 is sent upon receipt of
verification of the student's enrollment in the Spring semester.
If students do not provide timely verification of enrollment, the
scholarship is withdrawn. K A B V I will offer up to three $500
scholarships for the 1999 academic year. Scholarship Committee
guidelines, explained in application materials, specify timely
verification of enrollment is required to receive scholarship
An ACB resolution observed Lions clubs have drifted away
from helping persons with impaired vision or blindness. Kansas
Specialty Dog Services, (KSDS) Washington, Kansas, plans a
meeting Saturday, April 17, 1999, co-sponsored by K A B V I and
including representatives of Kansas Lions Clubs. The purpose of
the meeting is to discuss issues of importance to persons with
visual impairment or blindness and how Lions can help.
Transportation may be available through local Lions Clubs. In
conjunction with this event, K A B V I will conduct a Board retreat.
K A B V I members perform numerous small charitable and
educational acts. Please let directors know about these when you
learn of them. Tracking them is every bit as important as
The Recording Secretary's tape recorder, used to record
K A B V I conventions and other activities, needs replacement. K A B V I
will cover the cost of a new Marantz 110 PRO, 4-track, 2 speed,
high quality recorder for recording K A B V I functions.
The next meeting of the K A B V I Board of Directors will be
January 23, 1999, in Salina. at the First Church of the
Nazarene, 1425 S. Ohio.
FIRST ANNUAL K A B V I/KSDS/LIONS FOCUS DAY
Several events have come together to form a most exciting
happening scheduled to take place this Spring.
A 1998 American Council of the Blind (ACB) resolution
observed Lions clubs have drifted away from helping persons with
impaired vision or blindness. It was felt that the ACB,
primarily through efforts of its state and special interest
affiliates, should take steps to reverse the trend of a widening
gap between this influential service organization and the blind
people for whose interests it was created.
Kansas Specialty Dog Service, Inc. (KSDS) Washington,
Kansas, was making plans for a meeting to discuss issues of
importance to persons with visual impairment or blindness and how
Lions can help They also wanted to take the opportunity to
showcase the many breathtaking improvements they have made
including the construction and opening of a new puppy center and
a tremendous training center. Lions clubs have been
reviewing some of their prevention of blindness, specialized
programs and other activities.
The three events will come together into one combined "Focus
Day 1999" to be held on Saturday, April 17, 1999 at the KSDS
facility located at 128 W. 7th Street, Washington, Kansas. The
event is planned to start around 10:00 in the morning and
conclude by 3:00 and will include a tour of the KSDS facility, an
opportunity to visit the Lions mobile screening bus, a discussion
of the ACB resolution calling on Lions clubs to refocus their
primary activities in the direction of blindness related
projects, and an opportunity for K A B V I members to get to know
Lions better and to gain more familiarity with KSDS which is a
unique training facility we are fortunate to be able to boast as
Kansas' own. A lunch will be available for approximately $6.00.
As part of the effort to increase closer working
relationships, it is hoped local Lions will be able to provide
transportation for blind individuals in their area. If this
aspect of the day develops as envisioned, the seed of a
transportation system for blind people to be able to use to get
to other statewide events may be planted. Lions Clubs are
encouraged to make this means of surmounting the transportation
barrier available and blind and visually impaired individuals
interested in attending the event should not be bashful about
making their transportation needs known to their local clubs.
For more information and to make a reservation, please call
Mike Renner at KSDS: (785) 325-2256. It will be most helpful in
making sure that arrangements are adequate for the number
attending this event if you make your intention to attend known
as early as possible.
KSSB ADVISORY BOARD MEETING
by Ann Byington
The advisory Board of the Kansas State School for the Blind
(KSSB) met Friday, November 20, 1998, in the Johnson Building
conference Room. New staff were introduced.
Sheila Damm is a teacher in the Extended Day program. Mrs.
Damm has a background in both vocational rehabilitation
counseling and rehabilitation teaching. She is incorporating
independent living skills into dormitory activities. Her
students are learning to cook burgers and fries, as well as
ironing for that "special night out." Mrs. Damm's
rehabilitation teaching background makes her an especially
valuable addition to staff.
Another new staff member is Kim Liebert. She has completed
the two-year degree program in Deaf/Blind at Boston College.
Nancy Parker, from florida, is a Library of Congress
certified braille transcriber who is working on completing the
Nemeth Code transcription course. Mrs. Parker's primary
responsibilities include brailling materials for students at
Shlagel High School, but she is also kept busy providing on-site
Qi Yu, is a Chinese orientation and mobility instructor with
a degree from Western Michigan University. She teaches in the
elementary and life skills programs at KSSB.
Virjean Terrel, Outreach Coordinator, introduced Patricia
Dewbury, who has an extensive teaching background in
developmental disabilities, public administration, and teaching
the visually impaired with an emphasis on deafblindness. She
also brings skills in adaptive technology and teaching deaf
students braille, as well as assisting with editing the Outreach
Bob Damm, Sheila's husband, works as an orientation and
mobility instructor in the Outreach program. Mr. Dam brings
twenty years of nursing experience as an RN, as well as a
vocational rehabilitation counseling component to the orientation
and mobility degree from Western Michigan.
Another on-site review of the Quality Performance
Accreditation school improvement plan is focusing on creating a
data base for storing large amounts of data on individual
students and is also creating a tracking mechanism for measuring
individual progress data on each student. Such data will be
documentation for students who attend KSSB for an average of less
than three years. For these newer students, KSSB acts to address
specific student needs as described by the local district with
the goal of returning the student to the local program and
providing follow-up outreach services.
William Daugherty, KSSB Superintendent, reported on the
Oregon Trail outreach activity. This trip involved "immersing
kids in an integrated curriculum with all of the academic areas
to hone in on a historically-based journey going up the Oregon
Trail from Independence, Missouri, where the trail started, to
Scotts Bluff, Nebraska, where Chimney Rock and other monuments
which guided travelers on the trail are located." Camping,
outdoor skills, orientation and mobility, low vision aids use,
writing journals, and most interesting, the opportunity to meet
Oregon Trail history buffs along the way, made this an
outstanding opportunity for low vision students to gain a more
personal history experience. Plans for the next trip may include
students from Nebraska, as well as integration of this activity
into the regular KSSB school curriculum. Besides the original
Oregon Trail computer game, schools can now participate on the
Internet as wagons in a train on the trail, necessitating group
decisions about how far they will travel during a day, what to do
about dwindling food for the animals, and choices of route based
on drought, flood, etc.
Last year, KSSB received a $68,00 grant from budget
stabilization funds to install a local area network (LAN) linking
all on-campus computers for students and staff, and providing
Internet access. KSSB also now has its own Web page with
information of particular interest to parents who can see their
children participating in KSSB school activities. While the Web
address isn't quite ready for release, Mr. Daugherty can be reach
Chuck Tyrell, vocation coordinator, reported on the SWEATS
program. Goals included placing students in real jobS off
campus, gaining experience with co-workers and supervisors,
developing strategies for getting to and from work on time, and
adapting skills to a job. Fourteen students from the Kansas City
area, three from Junction City and eleven from Wichita
participated in the program while remaining in their hometowns.
Funding came from JPTA and other sources. Job activities
included work at a printing company, animal caretaker at a zoo,
Social Security office worker, day care program worker, service
worker and cashier at Cow Town, a deafblind student worker at the
Veterans' Administration hospital, cafeteria worker, auto
detailing, library jobs, and working at the city pool. Most
students earned at least a thousand dollars for their summer
efforts. They spent four days a week on the job and used the
fifth day to problem-solve with each other and to gain
information from consumer groups and other employed adults.
Wichita is planning to use this experience to kick off its own
program. KSSB staff will be taking the program to other areas of
the state. Job development in local school districts is also
being done during the school year. To date, the employment focus
has been in nonprofit businesses, but the hope is to expand
services and placements into the business community.
Mr. Daugherty reported creation of a leadership team
composed of department heads with supervisory responsibility for
all aspects of campus activity, from housekeeping and maintenance
to resource center and nursing staff. The function of the team
is to facilitate better, more accurate in-house communication.
In responding to the need for better co-ordination between KSSB
and the Division of Services for the Blind, (DSB), he also noted
that KSSB has a representative on the DSB Advisory Committee. The
SWEATS summer grant program was also cited as another example of
a coordinated activities relevant to both organizations. Of
particular interest to K A B V I members was a request by Mr.
Daugherty that both consumer groups provide KSSB with a list of
members who would be willing to participate in outreach
activities. If you are interested in participating in such a
collaborative effort, please contact Ann Byington, 909 SW
College, Topeka, KS 66606, phone: (785) 233-3839, or e-mail
SOUNDS FROM THE SIDELINES
by Janelle Edwards
On Saturday, October 24, 1998, I was lucky enough to
experience the Kansas State versus Iowa State football game in a
very special way. Thanks to the thoughtfulness of Kansas State
Sports Information Director Kent Brown, my husband Jon (who is
sighted) and I were granted press passes to cover the game for
K.A.B.V.I. NEWS. This allowed us to get very close to the
playing field before and during the game.
Before the game and related festivities began, I learned
some specific information about a college football field and pre-
game activities. The football field's artificial turf is a
little bit spongy. When I touched the turf, it felt like a
prickly carpet. Although Kansas State was heavily favored in the
up-coming game, thirty minutes before game time I heard a
defensive coach say to some players, "If you don't play hard, we
When the game began, Iowa State received the football and
almost scored. Subsequently the Wildcats did play hard and win
the game 52 to 7. What a game!
Thanks to our press passes I experienced the game, from
almost any spot, just twelve feet out of bounds. Three times
during the action it was prudent to quickly move because players
were coming out of bounds in our vicinity. One of them ran right
through the spot where we had just been standing.
We were not hurt in any way, but not all of the players were
that lucky. In one instance we heard the pain in the voice of an
injured player and the concern of the official and trainers who
cared for him.
Thanks to our proximity to the field, I heard many actual
game sounds. The loudness of the sound of bodies colliding
during tackling amazed me. Occasionally (for the spirited crowd
and excellent band could be noisy) I also heard the count, the
ball being snapped and received, and the receipt of a pass.
At the post game news conference Coach Snyder was asked
various questions, some of which were too technical for me to
understand. He discussed things he thought his team did very
well and things that need to be improved in the future. He also
said something I think applies to all of us. "Everyone gets
their chance in life, you just don't know when it will come."
ESTHER V. TAYLOR SCHOLARSHIPS
by Beulah Carrington
Two of the three scholarship recipients spoke briefly during
the banquet at the 1998 K A B V I Convention in Topeka. Needless to
say, each recipient has a commendable grade point average.
Jennifer Schiffelbein (Topeka) attended Emporia State
University for two years and currently is enrolled at K-State
University. Her first year of course work at K-State will be
transferred back to ESU and she will graduate in May of 1999 with
a chemistry degree. On completion of her second year at K-State,
she will have earned a Bachelors degree in chemical engineering
with emphasis on new materials development. At both
universities, Jennifer has been an active participant and leader
in community and on-campus organizations and projects. She
enjoyed volunteering in a program making home repairs for the
elderly. She is an accomplished singer, flutist and ballet
dancer. She enjoys theater, jazz and modern dance.
Chrissie Frahm (Topeka) is a freshman at Sterling College.
She plans to graduate in 2002 with a Bachelors degree in
Psychology and then to earn a Masters degree in clinical social
work. In high school she was active in academic clubs, chorale
groups and was in several plays. She has volunteered in the
Elementary school system. Chrissie enjoys creative writing and
involvement in church and community projects.
Brian Rust (Manhattan) was unable to attend the convention
due to a departmental obligation on campus. He looks forward to
graduating from K-State in May, 1999, with a Bachelors degree in
electrical engineering with a major in power systems and a minor
in economics. His first two years of study were spent at the
Georgia Institute of Technology. He plans to work in the
electric utility industry or designing power systems for a
consulting firm. He is a research assistant in the Engineering
Department. This year he is president of the student branch of
the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. He
volunteers as a tutor in business law with Educational Support
Services. Brian enjoys playing basketball, reading, and playing
The Esther V. Taylor (EVT) Scholarship was created in
September, 1986, honoring the memory of Mrs. Esther Van Deman
Taylor, Kansas City, Ks. Mrs. Taylor was born August 4, 1900 and
died December 13, 1994. Blind herself, she was a dedicated
educational leader and advocate for blind students. Mrs. Taylor
worked a lifetime to obtain greater support and appropriate
educational programs for students enrolled in kindergarten
through post-secondary years.
As funds in the Scholarship account are available and as
qualified applications are submitted, the EVT Scholarship fund
provides grants to students enrolled in college undergraduate
courses, graduate study, vocational training and trade school
A LITTLE MORE ABOUT THE NFBK CONVENTION
by Michael Byington
Both President Alexander and I were guests at the 1998
National Federation of the Blind of Kansas (NFBK) convention at
the Four Points Hotel in Wichita this October. We were treated
cordially, and we want to thank the NFBK leadership for this.
Their convention was about the same size as K A B V I's, but
NFBK does some things to make their convention appear larger. I
do not think K A B V I needs to make changes because of what NFBK
does, nor do I think K A B V I should avoid a particular convention
style simply because NFBK does it and K A B V I does not want to be
like them. Either extreme would be petty. I believe K A B V I can
learn from what other organizations do, however, and perhaps use
ideas that seem to have merit.
NFBK has their meeting room set in classroom instead of
theater style. Having the tables in the room creates better
places for people to write and take notes. It also makes the
room look more full of people. If you have a third as many
chairs in a room, it is much easier to fill them all. There is a
certain public relations advantage to this.
NFBK does not allow exhibits to be open during convention
meetings. In fact, this year, they did not have a formal exhibit
room. The advantage is that everyone present has to attend the
meetings because there is nothing else to do. Psychologically,
this makes NFBK look big and intense to such outside observers as
State officials. It also prevents people from having choices and
from getting valuable information and products from exhibitors.
NFBK pays the entire convention expenses for students, not
just for their scholarship winners, but for any students who are
willing to attend. K A B V I pays partial expenses for its
scholarship winners to attend its conventions, but it has not
been paying the full load for its students. I could argue that
many currently middle-aged K A B V I members did not have anyone
helping us get to conventions when we were students. We had to
scrimp and save in order to attend and we paid our convention
fees the old fashioned way; we spent our money on them. The fact
is, K A B V I is losing students to the organization which is the
highest bidder. This is the reality of today. The new fund
raising activities K A B V I has implemented are beginning to show
positive results. Perhaps soon K A B V I will be in a position to
pay for students in total if it chooses to do so.
Many reasons remain for the existence of two advocacy
organizations of the Blind. The national NFB dignitaries who were
sent to the convention used ample rhetoric to demonstrate that
they had no regard for any service provider who was not a part of
an NFB facility, and they made a point of suggesting that any
person who works with or for an agency accredited by the National
Accreditation Council (NAC) did not, in the NFB way of thinking,
have the best interest of blind citizens in their hearts. The
suggestion was that such individuals are out to hurt blind
people. NFB State officials, however, could not have been nicer
to work with. There does seem to be considerable hope that the
two organizations can differ concerning certain national policies
and structure but, at the same time, unite at the State level to
advocate for the mutually agreed best interests of blind Kansans.
by Sharon Luka
John Muir urges: "Climb the mountains and get their good
tidings. Nature's peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into
trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you and the
storms their energy, while cares drop off like autumn leaves."
How does one climb the mountains to receive their good
news? How does one receive energy from the storms?
Isn't life filled with tricky currents and waves which try
to stifle and quench our hearing of good tidings? Daily we are
tossed by waves or currents of varying speeds. At times the
current enables us to set goals; at other times it forces us to
meet those goals and often we strike plateaus along the way.
Think of the words of Kierkegaard when pondering your daily
endeavors of work, play and in changing what it means to be
blind. "It is not the path which is the difficulty. It is the
difficulty which is the path."
About two years ago Randy Nutt of the Coral Springs Master
Swimmers' Association urged me to pursue the sixteen-mile
marathon in Greece. The dream began to dawn at a slow steady
course. The vision gained energy with hours and miles of swimming
in a pool whose only current was the intermittent motion of other
swimmers. Direction of the dream cleared as I learned bits of the
Hellenic language. Its reality pulsed as my crew and I boarded
the aircraft and headed over seas, to a new horizon - a new time
zone. We left for Nikiti July 21, 1998, and arrived at the
Geranion Village Hotel early afternoon on July 22.
Nikiti sits about 600 kilometers north of Athens by car.
Its scenery is picturesque, primitive yet modern. The hotel rooms
were cabin-like, with a simple bed and furniture. Each morning a
rooster announced a new day decked with dazzling waves of
The most striking thing about Nikiti is its people and
their hospitality. They are caring, charming, and zealous about
life in general. They rally in support of the goals of others.
The vision of the swim began to fulfill itself on the
morning of Saturday, July 25, with an hour-long bus ride to the
starting line at the Palini Beach Hotel. Having had little sleep
due to travel and general excitement, I marvel at the strength
God supplied for the long trek.
The first path of interest was the cooler water upon which
small waves danced. The ripple-like motion seemed to persist
throughout much of the day.
Wafting waves afford a rich environment for sea life. About
half way through our east-northeast crossing, I was told to stop
swimming due to "boat congestion." Later I learned that the "boat
congestion" consisted of a large manta ray.
Much of the journey proceeded smoothly through the tenth
mile. The length and breadth of the confrontation with the sea
brings to mind the second verse of a hymn given to us by Oscar
Ahnfelt: "Every day the Lord Himself is near me With a special
mercy for each hour; All my cares He fain would bear and cheer
me, He whose name is Counselor and Power, The protection of His
child and treasure is a charge that on Himself He laid; "'As thy
days thy strength shall be in measure,'" This the pledge to me
About an hour and a half into the eleventh or twelfth
mile,I learned I had covered very little ground. I swam the last
three and one-half hours in place against the tidal current. The
water flowed at a speed of a mile and a quarter per hour. I swim
at this pace. Thus, I was unable to reach shore.
In considering the struggle of those final hours, I ponder
the words of Katherine Hepburn: "I can remember walks as a child.
It was not customary to say you were fatigued. It was customary
to complete the goal of the expedition."
Provision of God's strength and my crew's encouragement
helped me conquer a suitable distance to receive the medal and
trophy. I covered about fourteen miles in thirteen hours and
I am astonished at the depth of patience exhibited by my
boat guides George and Knick of Greece, and Frank and Lynne Will
of Florida. Much patience was exercised as the crew worked long
hours in the hot sun in a thirty-nine foot fishing boat which
contained no seats.
Gratitude embraces me when I ponder the waves of kindness
shown by other participants and the people of Nikiti as they
waited for the arrival of the last swimmer. When my crew and I
reached land and proceeded on stage, we were met with the
exuberant cheers of two thousand voices! Never before have I
experienced such a warm, welcomed home coming! It makes me think
of the words of Anne Sullivan: "No matter what happens, keep on
beginning and failing. Each time you fail, start over again, and
you will grow stronger until you find that you have accomplished
a purpose - not the one you began with, perhaps, but one you will
be glad to remember."
I want to thank the citizens of Nikiti for their constant
hospitality, warmth and kindness. It is my dream to return again
to Nikiti, learn more of its people and customs and strive to
reach that salty, cool, sparkling blue shore.
I also want to thank the American Council of the Blind,
Kansas Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired, the
National Federation of the Blind, my family, The Victors Company
of Florida, other consumer groups and individuals who, through
selfless giving, made this exciting expedition possible.
Think again of the words of John Muir: "Climb the mountains
and get their good tidings. Nature's peace will flow into you as
sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own
freshness into you and the storms their energy, while cares drop
off like autumn leaves."
Recall Kierkegaard's words, too, in your daily endeavors of
work, play and in changing what it means to be blind: "It is not
the path which is the difficulty. It is the difficulty which is
I will always be glad to remember this exciting privilege!
DOCTOR NESMITH WAS RENOWNED EYE SURGEON
by Nicole Koch
The Wichita Eagle, November 7, 1998
Victim of Plane crash had patients from all over the world.
When Seth Nesmith thinks of his dad, he sees the blue waters
of the Gulf of Mexico and a father and son soaring high above
them. "It was a good time to catch up on conversation -
flying across the ocean with him," Seth Nesmith, 23, said softly.
Dr. Leslie Nesmith, 58, of Augusta, died Wednesday (November
4, 1998) doing what he loved most - flying.
While on a maintenance check of his twin-engine plane, Dr.
Nesmith and his friend, flight instructor Phil DuPont, 62 of
Wichita, crashed in a pasture in northern Cowley County.
Authorities had not determined the cause of the crash by
Friday (November 6.)
Patients from all over the world sought the
ophthalmologist's expertise. While at Harvard, Dr. Nesmith
studied under a pioneer of retinal surgery.
Richard Nibarger of Towanda wouldn't be able to see his 5
month-old baby if it weren't for Dr. Nesmith; he restored
"That's a gift," Nibarger said. "I don't know how you give
something like that, but he gave it to me."
Cade Nesmith, 21 and youngest son of Dr. Nesmith, said
besides going to KU football games with him, he'll miss his dad's
discipline the most.
"He brought me up really good," Cade Nesmith said. "He was
strict with me and made me into the person I am."
Britt Nesmith, 23 and daughter of Dr. Nesmith, said her dad
was the most admirable man she knew.
"He loved his work," she said, crying quietly. "He was a
personable guy. He was genuine."
Dr. Nesmith was known to stay until midnight working with
patients, said Dr. Henry Bumgardner of Wichita.
"Not only was he a good friend," Bumgardner said, "but he
was a person that you admired."
Dr. David Crum, of Augusta, a friend of Dr. Nesmith for 24
years, said his loss will have a tremendous impact on the eye-
"His cooperative attitude, his willingness to be available
by phone, his excellent teaching skills and his ability to
outstanding patient care," Crum said, "All that combined elevated
the quality of the delivery of eye care."
Dr. Nesmith was born Sept. 7, 1940, in Lawrence, where his
father, Dean, was the longtime athletic trainer at the University
of Kansas. He graduated from Lawrence High School in 1958,
received a bachelor's degree from KU in 1962 and graduated from
KU Medical School in 1966.
After a stint in the Air Force, Dr. Nesmith finished his
residency in 1971 and began a fellowship at Harvard under Dr.
Charles Schippens, the father of modern retinology. Dr. Nesmith
moved back to Kansas in 1974 where he began his practice.
Survivors include: sons, Trent, Luke, both of Augusta, Seth
of Hawaii, Cade of Lawrence; daughters, Brooke of Augusta, Britt
of Lawrence; mother, Norma; sister, Ida Tilden, both of Kansas
City, Kan.; one grandchild.
A memorial has been established with Great Plains Diabetes
ENVISION OPENS TOPEKA FACILITY
by Michael Byington
Envision opened a small retail facility in downtown Topeka.
Grand opening was December 9, 1998. The retail operations are
now called "White Canes and More." The stores sell adaptive
equipment used by people who are blind or low vision to work and
live more independently. Most of the items sold to date were
lower technology (white canes, talking clocks, talking watches,
Braille watches, bold line paper, signature guides, etc.)
While the stores will continue to carry these items, more
complex technology will now also be available, (talking
microwaves, talking computers, enlarging software, etc.) The
Name will soon change to "Envision Technologies Center." The new
Topeka Location is at 924 S. Kansas Avenue, Topeka. Its local
telephone is (785) 354-4747. The toll free number is (888)
350-3107. Pam Rusk was hired to operate the Topeka retail
facility. Pam has extensive experience as a Randolph-Sheppard
vendor and has managed her own business in downtown Topeka.
TOPEKA ASSOCIATION FOR THE VISUALLY IMPAIRED IN SERVICE
(TAVIS) sold all their braille mugs and most of their key chains
during the convention. They had a tasty Thanksgiving dinner in
November and enjoyed a Christmas party in December.
SOUTHWEST KANSAS ASSOCIATION FOR THE VISUALLY IMPAIRED
(SKAVI) welcomes its new officers. President Gordon Gary is a
long-time resident of Dodge City. Vice-President Lois Jackson is
from Jetmore. SKAVI presented the White Cane Safety Day
Proclamation to the Mayor for signing October 6. SKAVI sponsored
a booth at the Phi Beta Phi Sorority Christmas bazaar in
November. The organization paid for the booth. Members who
brought handwork or baked goods took home the profits from sales
of their products. Maggie the teddy bear "collected" donations
and was given to some lucky person whose name was drawn at the
end of the activity. A Christmas party, complete with goodies,
happened December 6, 1998. A slate of officers will be presented
by the nominating committee in January, 1999, and election will
take place in February.
NORTHWEST ASSOCIATION FOR THE VISUALLY IMPAIRED (NKAVI)
members spent a pleasant June day in Abilene. Thirteen members
had lunch at the Kirby House Restaurant and visited places of
interest in the small town. On the way home, the group stopped
at the Russell Stover Chocolate factory. NKAVI co-sponsored the
All American Breakfast with the American Legion in October.
BITS AND PIECES
TELEPHONE SCAM: Some telephone users have received phone
calls from individuals who say they are AT&T service technicians
conducting a test on the line. They ask the user to touch nine,
then zero, then pound (90#) and then hang up. Don't do it!
According to the phone company, (and verified through the GTE
Security Department) pressing nine zero pound as requested gives
the caller full access to your telephone line. This allows the
caller to make long distance calls which will be billed to your
phone number. The scam reportedly originates from local jails
and prisons. DO NOT PRESS NINE ZERO POUND FOR ANYONE!
ESTHER V. TAYLOR SCHOLARSHIPS: K A B V I again will award up to
three scholarships for the 1999-2000 school year. Requests for
applications may be made after January 15. Write to Beulah
Carrington, Committee Chair, 1171 SW Woodward Ave, Topeka, KS
66604. Completed application forms and required supporting
material must be postmarked no later than April 10, 1999.
GUIDE DOG USERS ACCESS PARTNERS AWARD: Deborah Briggs,
professor and director of the rabies lab at Kansas State
University, Manhattan, Kansas, earned the Guide Dog Users, Inc.,
(GDUI) Access Partners Award through her expert testimony in a
lawsuit against the state of Hawaii. Briggs won for dog guides
the opportunity to enter Hawaii without quarantine. She is only
the fourth individual to win the award voted upon nationally by
members of DDUI.
RFB&D BLIND/VI SCHOLARSHIPS: To qualify for Recording for
the Blind and Dyslexic's Mary D. Oenslager Scholastic Achievement
Awards, an applicant must be a legally blind senior at an
accredited four-year college or university in the United States
or its territories. Call 800-221-4792 for additional information
and an application.
CANADIAN FOUNDATION FOR ANIRIDIA RESEARCH (CFAR): CFAR is a
non-profit organization dedicated to raising public awareness of
aniridia and associated conditions. The organization originated
in Canada and now has members from seven countries. For more
information contact CFAR, 3780 Verdun Avenue, Suite 2, Montreal,
Quebec, H4G 1K6. Phone or fax (516) 761-5998.
INTRUST BANK BILL-PAY BROChURES AVAILABLE IN BRAILLE:
Intrust Bank, with branches in: Wichita, Haysville, Derby, Valley
Center, El Dorado, Ottawa and Johnson County, offers a service
that allows you to quickly and easily pay your bills by simply
using your telephone. The complete Touch Tone Bill-Pay users
Guide and System Name Code list are now available in braille.
You may obtain a copy by contacting the bank customer service
department at 383- 1234 or toll free, 800-895-2265. The
brochures are bound in a three-ring, Intrust notebook. The Touch
Tone Bill-Pay service will let you pay bills every month and you
can even schedule those regular payments such as rent or mortgage
to automatically be paid on the date you select. The service is
quick and easy to use.
CONGRATULATIONS, AIR CAPITAL TELEPHONE READER! Air Capital
Telephone Reader will celebrate its first birthday January 23,
1999. The service is used nearly five hundred hours per month by
about 160 individuals.
NEW WHITE CANES AND MORE store is located at 924 Kansas
Avenue in Topeka. Congratulations to its new operator, Pam Rusk!
See article elsewhere in the newsletter.
HUBERT SANDER, Victoria, died September 14, 1998. The life-
long resident of Victoria operated a lumber yard in Victoria for
44 years. He worked as a bingo night volunteer for the Northeast
Kansas Association for the Visually Impaired for two years.
KATHARINE LAUDEMAN, age 81, Topeka, died October 16, 1998.
She and her husband Norman managed vending facilities at the
State House and at the Capital Building in Topeka for many years.
DR. LESLIE NESMITH, 58, Augusta, died November 4, 1998. He
was a renowned eye surgeon who had patients from across Kansas
and around the world. (See article elsewhere in the
newsletter.)A memorial has been established with Great Plains
Diabetes Research Inc.
1999 BOARD OF DIRECTORS
The year shown indicates expiration of the director's term.
If you wish to correspond with a director, please do so using the
listed method if at all possible. However, if a director prefers
braille (for example) and you do not know braille, do not
hesitate to contact the director by any method you can legibly
produce. Directors want and need your comments.
1999 Chair: Sanford J. Alexander III, Wichita (disk)
1999 Vice-Chair: Michael Byington Topeka (disk)
2001 Correspondence Secretary: Regina Henderson, Wichita (disk)
1999 Recording Secretary: William Lewis, Wichita (disk)
1999 Treasurer: Robert Chaffin, Hays (disk)
2000 Membership Secretary: Harold Henderson, Wichita (disk or print)
2000 Beulah Carrington, Topeka (disk or cassette)
2000 Janelle Edwards, Wichita (disk or braille)
2001 Darlene Howe, Wichita (large print)
2001 Georgia Layton, Topeka (braille or cassette)
2001 Tom Roth, Topeka (disk)
2000 Newsletter Editor: Nancy Johnson, Topeka (braille, large print, disk, print or cassette, no handwriting, please)
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Copyright 2000, All rights Reserved
Kansas Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired, Inc.
924 S. Kansas Ave. Topeka, KS 66612
phone: 785-235-8990 toll free in KS: (800)-799-1499