Volume 42 Spring, 1999 No. 1
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Quarterly by The Kansas Association for the Blind and Visually
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Topeka Kansas 66601
An Affiliate of the American Council of the Blind
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WELFARE OF THE BLIND IN KANSAS.
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EDITOR, NANCY JOHNSON
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ASSOCIATE EDITOR, GRACEANN HEINIGER
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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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Wichita KS 67218
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TABLE OF CONTENTS
PRESIDENT'S PERSPECTIVE by Sanford J. Alexander, III
NOTIONS by Nancy Johnson
K A B V I/KSDS/LIONS FOCUS DAY '99 by Sanford J. Alexander, III
'99 CONVENTION ON THE HORIZON by Regina Henderson, Convention Coordinator
REPORT FROM THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS by Nancy Johnson
K A B V I PLANS SPECIAL EVENT FOR CONVENTION
CALLING FOR AWARDS NOMINATIONS by Joyce Lewis, Chair, Awards Committee
ACB MID-YEAR MEETING by Sanford J. Alexander, III
UP CLOSE AND PERSONAL WITH THE ADA by Steve Bauer
Questions From the Peanut Gallery By Barbara Alexander
WHAT A TRIP! by Carole Hands-Keedy
NOTES ON KANSAS LEGISLATION
RELEVANT TO BLINDNESS:
OR WHAT THOSE LEGISLATORS WILL OR WILL NOT DO TO THE BLIND by Michael Byington
BITS AND PIECES
K A B V I COMMITTEES
1999 K A B V I APPLICATION FORM
by Sanford J. Alexander, III
In my last column I described some of the important events
that had recently transpired regarding positive steps designed to
enable K A B V I to work more closely with the NFBK. I reported on
their attendance at our convention and how I was able to
reciprocate by attending their's in response to an invitation from
These were a couple of a number of momentous events in the
history of Kansans who are blind or visually impaired. They were
shortly followed by the November 13, 1998 meeting attended by Susie
Stanzel, representing the NFBK; me, representing the K A B V I;
Suzannah Erhart, Director of the Division of Services for the Blind
(DSB); Kansas Rehabilitation Services (KRS) Commissioner Joyce
A.Cussimanio, along with her Deputy Director Dennis Rogers; and,
Laura Howard, Special Assistant to Secretary Rochelle Chronister
who invited all of us to come together to discuss the future design
of DSB and the services it would provide to Kansans who are blind
or visually impaired.
At the time of this writing the next phase in this exciting
process has begun with the holding of the first meeting of this DSB
Future Design Team. By the time you read this issue of the K A B V I
News, at least two more meetings will have taken place and the
target date of June 1, 1999 for presenting our final report to
Secretary Chronister will be fast approaching. This meeting was
truly one of the biggest events in recent years and will have an
exceptional impact on all blind Kansans.
Several general elements of the meeting should be pointed out.
First, the meeting and the goals of the Future Design Team
represent recognition by SRS that the needs and opinions of the
visually impaired community can best be voiced by people from that
community. We have often complained that similar committees or
work groups were formed with only a minority representation from
the blindness community, thus enabling its voice to be overridden
by the majority on the committee representing the provider
perspective, particularly that of the State. The Future Design
Team is different. It is composed of three representatives from
the NFBK, three representatives from K A B V I, the Superintendent of
the Kansas State School for the Blind, the Director of DSB, The
KRS Commissioner, and, Ms. Howard, representing Secretary
Chronister. We have, indeed, finally been heard!
Another important element of this Team's early activities is
the fact that the good experiences we have recently enjoyed in
working positively with the NFBK on issues upon which we agree has
continued to advance. For those of us who can appreciate the
gravity of the issues being deliberated upon, this is both
reassuring and not surprising. Problems in the past have not
centered over the points upon which we strongly agreed but,
unfortunately, upon those over which there were philosophical
differences, many of which were on relatively minor issues.
Tragically, we were not unlike passengers on the Titanic debating
over whether we should have beef or chicken at the evening banquet.
On the issues before the Future Design Team, however, we are
deliberately taking steps which place us upon the firm ground of
concurrence and avoiding those that would place us on the soft
footing of quick sand.
What are some of these issues, you might ask. Globally, they
revolve around the questions of what types of services best meet
the needs of blind and visually impaired individuals and provide
them with the best tools to achieve the highest possible level of
independence. We are in agreement that DSB services need to be
maintained, strengthened where necessary and held together in the
full fabric of a complete tapestry. We do not want to see the
possible relocation from the present site to provide a cover for
services being diluted, diminished or distributed. We agree that
services to blind and visually impaired persons can be best
provided through a specialized system administered by individuals
demonstrating expertise in the special needs of blindness,
supervised by similarly qualified people not distracted by the tugs
and demands of other disability populations, and in which direct
services to consumers are provided by blindness specialists.
We are also encouraged by the pledge, voiced several times
from a couple of sources, that this process is being entered into
without any preconceived outcome or without a secret plan already
safely tucked away in a drawer awaiting the time of its unveiling.
We truly want to believe this is so and that we will not, once
again, be disappointed to learn down the road that we were expected
merely to rubber stamp a predetermined result. We will proceed
with confidence that the Team's final product will be reflective of
its research and the thinking we all bring to the table.
During the day we all took a whirlwind tour of the complete
RCB/KIB facility. I hadn't been on a complete tour in about four
or five years and was, along with others, quite overwhelmed with
what we saw. It was clear that a great amount of pride is taken in
making the facility as comfortable and attractive as possible. It
was equally evident that every inch of space is used and many for
multiple purposes. Shared work space is the norm, not the
exception. It is clear that no space goes unused and that perhaps
more space is needed for the program to have sufficient room to
breathe properly. It is not improbable that the Team will find the
present location unsuitable for the future program and recommend a
move to more adequate space.
This brings me to another point regarding this process and the
progress we have made. As this meeting was being conducted, Bills
were being prepared in the Revisor of Statute's office. One Bill
recommends that the Legislature designate the current RCB/KIB
property as exempt from any sale as part of the State Hospital
property, thus assuring that DSB would continue to control it and
be able to retain the programs where they are presently. The
second Bill is the Commission for the Blind Bill being supported by
the NFBK and K A B V I. It is interesting to note that if either or
both of these Bills are passed, the vast majority of the
contemplated work of the Future Design Team would still be
necessary, valid and useful. We have, and must take advantage of,
an opportunity to make improvements in DSB services that will be
valid regardless of the location at which they are offered or the
structure under which they are administered.
One of the greatest challenges I have faced in writing this
column is to be as informative as possible without violating one of
the group's basic agreements. We have complained that in the past
we have been the victims of rumor and that consumers have
been put under unnecessary and unfair anxiety and stress. We also
agreed that in order to accomplish our goals we will of necessity
have to look at many unpleasant issues and weigh alternatives some
of which are quite unacceptable. In order to be able to do this,
we have agreed to refrain from discussing details of the meetings,
relying instead on talking points issued from the Secretary's
office. This is not designed to make the process mysterious,
thereby becoming anxiety provoking; but, as I said, rather, to
enable all of the cards to be played openly on the table and
considered for their full value, positive or negative.
From my perspective, the first half of 1999 holds promise of
being one of the most crucial times in the history of services to
Kansans who are blind or visually impaired. It is important for
those of you who have thoughts to share to make yourself heard now!
It is critical that your support for the goal of preserving the
best possible services for blind and visually impaired individuals
be felt and that the degree of fervor with which you hold these
feelings be appreciated. We have a great opportunity, one that is
not likely to be available for many years to come; and, we have an
obligation to those for whom we speak both presently and in the
years ahead, to make sure we create an outcome that will make them
proud because it enabled them to achieve their dreams.
by Nancy Johnson
Several years ago my family participated in a twenty-mile bike
ride to raise money for a local charitable organization. One child
rode a bike alone. The other rode the front seat of a tandem
bicycle with my husband, who is totally blind. I rode an adult-
size tricycle. One child rode ahead of me, the other rode behind.
The day was a traditional Kansas spring day with mild temperatures
and strong, blustery winds.
The route took us headlong into the wind. It blew so hard
some folks dismounted and walked their bikes. Others gave up and
went home. My goal was to ride the distance and I refused to walk.
So I huffed and puffed nearly as hard as the wind blew - but I did
not get off the bike. At one point I realized, though I was
pedaling forward, I was moving backward. That made me angry and
anger made me more determined. I gritted my teeth and yelled some
unladylike phrases into the wind and huffed, puffed and pedaled
even harder. I finally realized, if I continued to struggle, the
route would eventually allow me to ride with my back to the wind.
And so it did.
When I reached the halfway checkpoint, I thought I was totally
exhausted. I strongly considered quitting. After a short rest and
a drink of cool water, I turned my back to the wind and continued
the journey. The sensation was of flying. The pedals went round
so fast my legs could hardly keep up with them. In fact, I think
I was not pedaling at all. I simply steered the bicycle as the
wind propelled me forward. My primary purpose became to maintain
control of the vehicle and reach my goal. I passed a car traveling
the speed limit along the road. Then I passed another, and another
and another. Slowing down enough to stay within the speed limit
became a challenge. Finally, the finish line was crossed. Success
was mine and I had ridden every inch of the distance in spite of
As I think about the struggle of Kansans with impaired vision
and blindness to save a rehabilitation service delivery system to
meet our specific needs, I wonder if we are pedaling as hard as we
can to go forward while the strong, blustery wind of change is
forcing us to move backward. Several of us are angry and the anger
reinforces our determination. We may yell unpleasantries into the
wind, then we will huff, puff and pedal even harder to move forward
toward the finish line. Though it will take every ounce of
strength and determination we can muster, we believe we can pedal
our way to success.
When we think we can go no further, we will reach that point
where the wind of change is at our backs. Challenges will continue
- but they will be different. The goal is to have a rehabilitation
service system that will provide high quality services to meet the
specific needs of all Kansans with blindness or impaired vision of
all ages. We must believe we can survive the wind of change and
keep pedaling until the wind is at our backs, helping us reach the
goal. Even then, we must stay on the bicycle and meet the
challenges as they come.
As a blustery, strong spring wind is not an ill wind and can
blow away unwanted debris, so the wind of change is not an ill wind
and can blow away superfluous matter. What remains in either case
is a surface on which new growth can happen. The finish may not
look like the start, and that is not necessarily bad. Some folks
may not be able to ride to the finish. That does not necessarily
signify failure. Rather, it signifies their need to get out of the
wind and find a place of calm.
Let all of us who can face the wind of change ride the bike to
the finish. Success can be ours.
K A B V I/KSDS/LIONS FOCUS DAY '99
by Sanford J. Alexander, III
In the last issue of the K A B V I News, you heard about plans for
the first "Focus Day" held at KSDS.
This is a result of several things coming together. 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
Kansas Specialty Dog Service, Inc. (KSDS) Washington, Kansas,
was making plans for a meeting to discuss issues of importance to
persons with severe 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 124 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, 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.
Unfortunately, an opportunity to visit the Lions mobile screening
bus will not take place this day as a regrettable error in
scheduling the bus sees it elsewhere that day.
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 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.
Alan Beatty, President of ACB Blind Lions will be the keynote
presenter during the afternoon discussion on the ACB resolution.
He has enthusiastically accepted our invitation and looks forward
to helping make these and other projects successful as Lions Clubs
hold much potential in many areas to assist blind people in their
communitIES. Alan sees, as do I, the ability of Lions to help
bring down the walls of employment discrimination. He will be able
to share some of his experiences and thinking in this area.
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
'99 CONVENTION ON THE HORIZON
by Regina Henderson, Convention Coordinator
Plans for the 1999 K A B V I convention are well under way. I
will have the assistance of Michael Byington for program planning
and Sanford Alexander for arrangements. Each of them has several
people who are working hard to make sure that all the details
fall into place.
You should start making your plans now to join us for what
promises to be a very exciting convention. Although many details
are yet to be finalized, there are several things I can share
First, the dates for the convention will be October 22-24,
In response to input from members, we are again adjusting
the program and meeting schedule. In doing so, we must allow
adequate time for the meetings necessary to conduct K A B V I's
business. Friday, October 22, 1999 will be devoted to a half-day
opening session, reports and some speakers. Exhibitors will be
open from 1:00 to 8:00 PM and there will be a hospitality suite
and a social activity such as a descriptive video or bingo in the
On Saturday, meetings for our two special interest groups,
Guide Dog Users of Kansas (GDUK) and Council of Citizens With Low
Vision of Kansas (CCLVK) will provide opportunities for these
special interest groups to deal with their particular concerns
while everyone else will have a chance to visit exhibits, friends
or the town. The afternoon will start with the membership
luncheon followed by business meetings, a break and the banquet.
The day will be capped off with a chance to relax, visit friends,
the national ACB representative to our convention or other folks
in the hospitality suite.
Sunday morning will begin with the memorial breakfast,
moving directly into the final business session. The convention
will adjourn and the Board will hold its post-convention meeting.
This year will see a return to a favorite site for the
convention, Great Bend. It will also be the first of three years
for which K A B V I has made a commitment to hold the meeting at the
Holiday Inn. This arrangement will enable us to guarantee a room
rate for the next three years of $55.00, including tax, for 1-4
persons in a room. The moderate prices will also make a
modification in convention registration possible.
Convention packets will be mailed by the end of July. Pre-
registrations received by the hotel deadline of September 19,
1999 will be charged a $10.00 fee for all meetings, in addition
to desired meals. Registrations received after this date will be
charged $15.00 for the three days, plus meals. On Friday,
registration at the door will be $15.00 entitling a person to
attend meetings all three days. On Saturday, the registration
fee will be $15.00 per day and for Sunday it will be $15.00 for
Sunday. Although this may seem a bit confusing, it is designed
to reward those who pre-register which makes convention planning
easier and reduces the stresses of working a busy registration
desk at convention.
The schedule is designed to enable each convention attendee
to tailor it to his/her specific desires and resources while
ensuring that all K A B V I business may be conducted properly.
Your registration packet will once again resemble that for
the ACB national convention. There will be a registration fee,
meal package, and special interest meeting fees. You will decide
what you want to attend and register accordingly. Room
reservations will be made directly with the hotel at 316-
792-2431. In order for KaBVI to receive credit toward its
meeting space charges and to obtain the convention rate, please
remember to tell the reservations desk that you will be attending
the K A B V I convention.
Plan to attend part or all of these exciting events, and
stay tuned as further details are worked out and announced.
REPORT FROM THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS
by Nancy Johnson
The Board of Directors of the Kansas Association for the
Blind and Visually Impaired, Inc., (K A B V I) met from 10:00 a.m. to
4:00 p.m. Saturday, January 23, 1999. The meeting was convened
at the First Church of the Nazarene in Salina.
Roll was taken. Minutes were corrected and accepted.
Harold Henderson submitted a letter of resignation from his
position as Membership Secretary and also from the board. His
resignation was accepted with regret and also with thanks for the
time and effort he has given the organization. A letter
officially accepting Harold's resignation will be sent.
Sanford explained the by-laws list twelve board members and
six officers. The president and vice-president must be board
members. Other officers may come from the general membership.
Barbara Alexander was appointed to fill the Membership Secretary
position. She was also elected to the Board of Directors. The
Secretary of State will be notified of Harold's resignation and
Barbara's appointment so all will be legal.
The Treasurer's report was accepted. The accountant
recommended K A B V I have a compilation report completed to affirm
bank and organization records are in agreement. A financial
report suitable for purposes of fund solicitation could then be
prepared. The 1999 budget was reviewed and accepted.
Nancy Johnson reported the new newsletter production process
was some better this time. Technical and proofreading problems
are being handled. The consensus was that the font size in the
large print edition was satisfactory. It complies with postal
regulations for "free matter for the blind." A standard print
edition will be sent to subscribers for whom postage must be
paid. This should reduce printing costs a bit.
Bob Chaffin reported for the Finance committee. The
insurance issue has not yet been resolved and will be revisited.
Fund raising through the Vehicle Donation Processing Center seems
to be going well. Cars are being donated. K A B V I, like all other
organizations with which the Processing Center works, has its own
toll free telephone number: 1-800-767-6229. Most of the
advertising now is done in newspapers in the Kansas City area.
Radio advertising will be initiated when the program has been in
effect about one year. K A B V I wants to be able to manage without
totally depending on this income if it should "disappear" in the
future, so additional fund raising activities such as seeking
grants will be undertaken.
Tom Roth located a copy of an antique book, What is Our
Obligation to the Adult Blind, by Helen Keller, published in
1904. It was published for the first national meeting of a group
of blind individuals which was held in Massachusetts. The book
is publication of Miss Keller's speech on that occasion. The
copy, which would sell for up to $250 on the antique market, was
purchased from an antiquarian book seller by a K A B V I member who
has a master's degree in library science. It will be given to
the winner in a drawing from tickets purchased at the American
Council of the Blind convention this summer. Tickets will be
Beulah Carrington reported letters about scholarships will
be sent to vision education teachers, education cooperatives,
small colleges and universities. A small number of applications
have been received.
Barbara Alexander reported K A B V I now boasts 187 paid
members. Through affiliates and known interested persons, a
potential for 500 members exists before looking outside the known
A final draft of the new brochure explaining the activities
of K A B V I was read.
A K A B V I Board of Directors Retreat will precede the
K A B V I/KSDS/Lions Focus Day on Saturday, April 17, 1999. Alan
Beatty, President, American Council of Blind Lions, has been
invited to Focus Day activities.
Arrangements are in process for K A B V I to rent a small office
space from Envision, Topeka. The office will provide a street
address, opportunity for a telephone number and storage space for
The proposed 1999 budget was reviewed, discussed and
accepted. Committee chairs were reminded they are responsible to
submit bills to the treasurer for reimbursement.
K A B V I is an organization that actively advocates on behalf
of persons who are blind and visually impaired. A member who
lost a job under unfavorable circumstances and was therefore
facing major difficulties requested assistance from the
organization. A letter was drafted to the employer requesting
the employer rescind a portion of an agreement with the employee
preventing the employee from working with the company at a later
time and asking the employer to assist the employee in locating
A three-year contract with the Holiday Inn of Great Bend for
conventions there in 1999, 2000 and 2001 was reviewed. During
the three-year period, room rates will be held at $55 per night
including tax. The president was given authority to finalize the
contract. K A B V I will meet at the Great Bend Holiday Inn on
October 22, 23 and 24, 1999; October 20, 21 and 22, 2000; October
19, 20 and 21, 2001. Program and other arrangements will be
easier to complete with convention sites and dates known in
Revisions of the by-laws were reviewed and accepted as
amended by K A B V I's attorney. Committee memberships were reviewed
Sanford reported on the Division of Services for the Blind
(DSB) work group meetings. K A B V I members are urged to give more
input relative to the future of the Division. The DSB Future
Design team was developed. Representatives include: Laura
Howard, Special Assistant to the Secretary of Social and
Rehabilitation Services: Joyce Cussimanio, Commissioner of
Rehabilitation Services; Suzannah Erhart, Director of DSB;
Superintendent William Daugherty of the Kansas State School for
the Blind; three representatives of K A B V I; and three
representatives of the National Federation of the Blind of
Kansas. A report will be submitted by the Design Team by June
1, 1999. It will indicate what DSB will look like in the future.
The K A B V I Board of Directors passed a resolution stating services
need to be at least as strong as they are now, or stronger,
regardless of what happens on the corner of Sixth and MacVicar in
Michael Byington reported on several legislative activities
and issues. A detailed update of this report is found elsewhere
in this newsletter.
The K A B V I Board of Directors will meet April 17 and 18, 1999
at the Kansas Specialty Dog Services facility in Washington,
Kansas, holding a Board retreat Saturday morning before the
formal program and a Board meeting Sunday morning.
K A B V I PLANS SPECIAL EVENT FOR CONVENTION
The Kansas Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired
(K A B V I) is sponsoring a special raffle this year.
We are raffling a copy of the first book or pamphlet written
by Helen Keller, titled "Our Duties to the Blind". This was a
small pamphlet written in 1903 to 1904, and presented by Miss
Keller at the first annual meeting of the Massachusetts
Association for Promoting the Interests of the Adult Blind. This
meeting was held at Perkins Hall in Boston on January 4, 1904.
It is a small pamphlet, sixteen pages with cover wraps in
purple. It also lists the first active and advisory board
members of the Massachusetts Association. It is believed that
this was a limited printing designed for distribution at the
This is a wonderful item for book collectors or those
interested in collecting things of and about Helen Keller, and
should be seen as a special prize for someone to treasure and
pass down to family members or to give to a library or museum,
The pamphlet was donated to K A B V I by a librarian well
acquainted with rare books who secured it from a reputable book
seller and can vouch for its authenticity.
The annotated notes would read: Keller, Helen: Our Duties
to the Blind: a paper presented by Helen Keller at the first
annual meeting of the Massachusetts Association for Promoting the
Interests of the Adult Blind, January 4, 1904 Perkins Hall,
Boston. Printed by Thomas Todd, Beacon Street, Boston, 1904.
This is Helen's first book.
Raffle tickets will be available for a donation of $5.00
each and can be obtained prior to June 1, 1999 from K A B V I
Treasurer Robert Chaffin, 1105 Centennial Boulevard, Hays KS
67601. After that date, they will be available from K A B V I
members at the 1999 ACB convention in Los Angeles, California.
The prize winner will be selected at the Kansas caucus during
CALLING FOR 1999 AWARDS NOMINATIONS
by Joyce Lewis, Chair, K A B V I Awards Committee
We are now accepting nominations for one or two outstanding
individuals to be recognized state-wide by the Extra Step Award
or the Eleanor A. Wilson Award. Winners will be honored at the
annual meeting and convention in Great Bend in October.
"THE EXTRA STEP AWARD is presented to a visually impaired
individual for unique courage and successful personal
rehabilitation. He or she shall have exhibited initiative and
ingenuity in meeting the unique challenges in his or her life,
and shall have contributed to society in an outstanding manner.
He or she shall be at least legally blind and shall be selected
without regard to affiliation with any organization for or of the
blind, and must be a Kansas resident."
"THE ELEANOR A. WILSON AWARD shall be presented to a sighted
or visually impaired individual who demonstrates outstanding
service to the visually handicapped in Kansas. He or she should,
through personal characteristics or activities, promote public
acceptance and understanding of visually impaired persons as
capable and productive members of the community. The Eleanor A.
Wilson Award emphasizes contributions beyond those achieved in
the course of one's regular employment. Selection is without
regard to affiliation with organizations for or of the blind. He
or she must be a Kansas resident."
The award winners shall be invited to attend the 1999 K A B V I
annual convention in Great Bend this fall.
In addition to the award itself, travel, registration and
one night of hotel expenses for the award winners may be covered,
if desired and when funds are available. We in K A B V I wish the
award ceremonies to be a genuine expression of appreciation for
what these extraordinary individuals have contributed to the
benefit of visually impaired people in Kansas.
Although since 1992 members of the K A B V I Board of Directors
have become eligible for the awards, no member of the Awards
Committee or his or her immediate family is eligible for these
Your letter of nomination for either award should include
personal knowledge of the nominee and his or her specific
contributions. Nominations shall be evaluated and selected by
the Awards Committee, and the names of the winners shall be kept
confidential from the public until the time of the annual
meeting. The award recipients, on the other hand, shall be
notified of their selections to assure that they can attend the
annual meeting (which is required) and for the Awards Committee
to make appropriate welcoming arrangements.
Send your nominations before August 1, 1999, in any format
to: Joyce Lewis, Chair; Awards Committee; 3509 E. 2nd Street
North; Wichita, Kansas 67208.
ACB MID-YEAR MEETING
by Sanford J. Alexander, III, President
The ACB Mid-Year meetings took place over the weekend of
February 13-15, 1999 at the Airport Westin Hotel, Los Angeles,
California, site of the upcoming 1999 Convention.
Many Convention details were finalized with hotel staff.
Several special interest groups met to develop their programs and
to make sure the hotel's facilities would meet their needs. In
short, if you plan to attend what has come to be expected as the
standard of excellence, you will not be disappointed.
The general sessions, exhibits and many special interest
meetings will all be held in the Westin. There is only one small
restaurant in the hotel which has a limited, expensive menu.
There is a Subway, a McDonald's, a Denny's and a Taco Bell within
walking distance but other choices will require using taxicabs.
The overflow hotel is several long blocks away but accessible via
the convention shuttle.
The affiliate presidents' meetings were held Saturday and
Sunday. Presidents from the special interest groups joined the
state affiliate presidents for these meetings and each group
contributed to the other.
A long list of important topics was discussed including a
thorough review of pedestrian safety issues, one of the issues
that promises to become one of the most important in the year
ahead. We also heard about designs of different types of audible
pedestrian signals (APS) and had an opportunity to take part in a
research study designed to determine the standard for such
devices. There was a great amount of interest in a follow-up
discussion on the nuts and bolts of establishing a 501(c)(3)
organization. We heard from the new ACB Web Mistress, Earlene
Hughes on how an affiliate might increase its presence in the
community through the development and maintenance of a Web page.
A panel discussed some of the proposals being considered for
Social Security reform which Congress will tackle this year. An
announcement was made regarding the new ACB program that will
make loans and grants available to affiliates designed to assist
them in growth projects. We also had an opportunity to meet John
Lerned from the Vehicle Donation Processing Center who described
his dealings with several ACB affiliates (including Kansas) and
who met with Michael Byington and me after his presentation to
answer a few specific questions. A highlight of the sessions was
the presentation of happenings from several affiliates, a source
always of many fresh ideas.
This year one left these meetings with the strong sense that
KaBVI is very much in the middle of the predominant course in the
blindness system. Likewise, although K A B V I has not been active
on every issue discussed during the meetings, it is clear we are
involved in many of them and have enjoyed results no less
significant than anyone else in the country. It is also clear
that an effort on the part of more ACB members will be required
in the days ahead if we are to stand the test of the many
challenges confronting us. The time in our movement's history
when we could afford to stand still in the middle of the stream
(short lived to be sure) is behind us and we will either put
forth the energy to make it the rest of the way across or run the
risk of being swept away in the strong current. In either case,
our destiny is firmly in our hands and the responsibility for
succeeding or failing is squarely on our shoulders.
UP CLOSE AND PERSONAL WITH THE ADA
by Steve Bauer
More often than not, when you discuss the Americans with
Disabilities Act (ADA) with someone, the trend is to think it
is for people who are in wheelchairs. We know this is not the
case at all.
In December, 1998, employees of Intrust Bank in Wichita had
a unique and hopefully enlightening opportunity. Bob Killian,
who is a quadriplegic, and myself were asked to share our
personal experiences in a seminar about the ADA. Offered quarterly, this
seminar is designed to educate bank employees about the ADA, how
to deal with customers who are disabled and what to do when
encountering a person who is disabled.
As Operations Officer/Telecommunication Manager, I come in
to contact with many people throughout the two-state area where
Intrust has branches. Bob, also, has contact with many people
via the phone in his job in the Bank Card Customer Service
In many cases, we both are a friendly voice on the phone and
employees are unaware that we have a disability. We both shared
personal experiences and told some funny stories about how we've
been treated, both good and bad.
I can't speak for Bob, but I've noticed some immediate
benefits from participating in this seminar. Those who attended
now identify themselves when we meet in the halls and are not
afraid to offer assistance. It proved to me that people want to
do the right thing, but they just don't know what they should or
Although hesitant to participate in similar seminars in the
past as I felt I was being shown off as the token blind guy at
the bank, this setting proved to be quite rewarding. I think it
really helped for bob and I to participate as a team and not to focus
exclusively on one individual.
If you have the opportunity to speak about your visual
impairment and the ADA, I strongly encourage you to welcome the
chance to share and educate those around you.
Questions From the Peanut Gallery
By Barbara Alexander
We in Kansas are blessed with a wealth of people who have a
wide range of knowledge in the field of blind rehabilitation.
Some of these people are consumers as well as providers.
I have a background in rehabilitation and a life experience
in the specifics of blind rehabilitation through living with and
being around many persons who are blind or visually impaired. I
have also worked in agencies for the blind. For those of you who
are new to hearing from me, this will serve as a brief statement
of my knowledge base.
To paraphrase another K A B V I member with whom you are more
familiar, JC still doesn't get it. Instead of listening to the
wealth of knowledge provided by the people in Kansas who know
blindness, the "PROBLEM" is again being studied. I have been
wondering when we regress to the point where instead of being
asked to study the "PROBLEM" to get to the answer of how to
provide services to the blind, we will be TOLD the answers.
Here are some questions that ocurred to me during a recent
DSB Advisory Committee meeting:
1. Was Department of Veterans Affairs Blind Rehabilitation
Services surveyed along with State agencies? VA serves blind
people in every state. It continues to include a full manual
arts program in all of its Centers.
2. Will someone explain KIB double talk to me? If a closed
VR case can stay at KIB, why can't a non-VR case be hired?
3. Who determines "what works?" Why not listen to blind
people who "have been there and done that"? Some of whom are
also professionals in blind rehab.
4. Have we talked to people who have been through the
general agency method versus the categorical agency method for
blind rehabilitation services? There are in the pool of
available people several who have worked in both structures and
5. Why isn't specialized access technology more thoroughly
explored before being implemented?
6. When have we asked for "the world"? It is independent
living that asks for and expects "the world". Is asking for
categorical services asking for the world?
I ask these questions because I have a very definite
interest and stake in the general well being, success, and future
of my husband and my friends who are blind and visually impaired.
Some are presented to encourage your thoughts and to lead,
hopefully, to the powers that be to listen to the people who
already know the answers and who can build on the past to make a
WHAT A TRIP!
by Carole Hands-Keedy
In the previous issue of K.A.B.V.I. NEWS, Sharon Luka quoted
Kierkegaard as saying, "It is not the path that is the
difficulty. It is the difficulty which is the path," when
pondering our daily endeavors of work and play, and in changing
what it means to be blind.
One Saturday evening I returned home from Wichita by way of
the Greyhound bus service. For convenience, my son-in-law
checked my suitcase Saturday morning at the Wichita Greyhound
station and requested it be put on the 5:30 bus to Topeka, the
bus my ticket was for, the one I planned to ride.
When I arrived at Greyhound in Wichita at 5:30 that evening,
my suitcase was nowhere to be found. "Where is it?" I
"I have not a clue," responded the agent. Perhaps it is in
Topeka. It must have gone on the noon bus."
Words such as "not a clue," "perhaps" and "must have" lack
positive connotations for anyone. For those of us who are blind
or severely visually impaired, words like these can ignite sparks
within the soul which possess the potential to produce a forest
fire. Neither my son-in-law nor daughter saw my suitcase go into
a compartment on the 5:30 bus out of Wichita. My suitcase was
just not there! That trip from Wichita to Topeka was the longest
three hours I had spent on any of the many trips I had taken
between the two cities. I finally decided to take a positive
attitude and convinced myself the luggage would be in Topeka when
I arrived. It left on the noon bus and everything was fine.
Upon my arrival, I waited for the bus driver to unload the
compartment. No suitcases were removed. I was the only
passenger getting off in Topeka. "Where's my suitcase?" I asked
the bus driver.
"You had no suitcase when you got on in Wichita," he
The chain of events during the next two days ran parallel to
one's worst nightmare. Topeka Greyhound would not take a
"missing" report because not enough time had lapsed since the
"misplacement" of my luggage occurred. Upon the ticket agent's
request, I waited at the bus station an additional hour to check
buses arriving from Kansas City and Denver.
I told the ticket agent, "The last time I saw my suitcase
was 11:15 this morning. There is a time issue here. - Hello?"
It was as though I had said nothing. There was no response from
the ticket agent. "
As each bus arrived, luggage was unloaded. My luggage was
not there! Each driver refused to open other compartments upon
my request to verify that my suitcase had not been inadvertently
misplaced in one of them. When I reported the phenomenon to the
ticket agent, she agreed with the actions of the drivers. "This
is it," I thought. "This is my worst nightmare!"
Before I left the Greyhound station that night, I informed
the ticket agent that when the suitcase did arrive it needed to
be delivered to my home because I was visually impaired and could
not drive. I was immediately told Greyhound does not deliver.
Early Sunday morning, Greyhound of Topeka called to tell me
my suitcase had arrived in Topeka from Kansas City. Once again I
told them the suitcase needed to be delivered to my home and
reminded them of the reason why. I was again told Greyhound does
not deliver, but I could talk about it with the manager Monday
morning. "Monday," I said. "Today is Sunday. I need for
you to deliver this suitcase today."
"No," the agent responded. "Greyhound does not deliver.
You'll have to discuss this with the manager, who comes in
I had to wait until Monday because no one was in the
corporate office in Dallas to take my call. So on Monday
morning, very early, I called the Topeka Greyhound station.
After a lengthy discussion with the manager, I was again assured
Greyhound does not deliver. The manager did agree to deliver the
suitcase the following Friday when she returned after being away
for a week!
It appeared my hands were tied. (Notice I said,
"appeared.") While maintaining my composure and giving the
appearance of remaining calm, I picked up the phone and called
the toll free number for customer service in Dallas. The
receiver was picked up and I heard, "Hello, this is Tammy Smith.
You have reached my voice mail."
"Oh, No, not that! Anything but that. Not VOICE MAIL!"
That little spark was beginning to sizzle. I left a message
explaining everything and what I expected Greyhound to do.
"Deliver my luggage to my home."
Three hours passed and Tammy Smith did not call back.
Topeka Greyhound did not call back. No one called. It was as if
the world had quit moving and all the people on it had vanished.
"Where is everybody?" thought I.
Finally, I again called Tammy Smith and left the message, "I
appreciate your cooperation concerning this issue. Since
Greyhound lost my luggage, I'm sure you would agree Greyhound is
responsible to deliver the luggage to its proper owner. Those of
us who have disabilities need your cooperation in these matters.
Thank you for your help." My luggage arrived at 4:30 that
afternoon - three hours after the second call to Dallas and
nearly forty-eight hours after I became aware of its loss in
Kierkegaard's words are truth. It was not the path from
Wichita to Topeka that was the difficulty. It was the difficulty
that ensued along the path that determined the path.
NOTES ON KANSAS LEGISLATION RELEVANT TO BLINDNESS:
OR WHAT THOSE LEGISLATORS WILL OR WILL NOT DO TO THE BLIND
by Michael Byington
This report is written during the third week in February. Things
move so fast during the months that the Kansas Legislature is in
full session so as to make it hard to put out a written report
and have it be relevant to what is actually going on. I will,
however, attempt to do some predicting as to what actions may
need to be taken over the next several weeks so interested
parties can help us with them.
The following is a list of issues that various blindness
advocates are working on. Envision and the Kansas Association for
the Blind and Visually Impaired are involved with virtually all
of these issues but on some of them, other advocacy groups such
as the National Federation of the Blind of Kansas or the
Deafblind Task Force are also joining in.
INSURE PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION ACCESS TO SHOPPING
CENTERS: A trend has developed nation-wide where malls and
shopping centers are banning public transportation vehicles from
their parking lots. This means that the public transit buses are
not allowed to bring customers near entrances of malls or strip
shopping centers, but rather must let riders out on public
streets with often nearly two blocks of parking lot to be
transversed between the shopping entrances and the bus stop. Many
of the mall and shopping center owners or management companies
claim that the buses are being banned because of actual or
potential parking lot damage, but this assertion defies logic. It
seems quite unlikely that parking lot damage caused by a bus
could be discerned from parking lot damage caused by delivery
trucks. People who are older and people who have disabilities are
major users of public transportation, and many such individuals
are physically unable to transverse the wide parking lots in
order to get to shopping.
Envision therefore requested introduction of Senate Bill 154.
legislation would make it unlawful to ban public transportation
vehicles from parking lots of public accommodations. The
Legislation does not require that the parking lots be adapted or
rebuilt to accommodate public transportation vehicles, but simply
makes it clear that, if a public transportation provider wishes
to enter a parking lot, as built, it is unlawful to keep them
from doing so. This legislation had a hearing in the Senate
Transportation Committee in early February. an excellent
cross section of disability advocates showed up to testify. The
mall and shopping center representatives did not show up for the
hearing and Committee members expressed considerable concern
about this as well so the hearing docket was held open for them
to have further opportunity to submit comments. On February 18, a
follow-up hearing and Committee discussion was held on the bill.
The mall and shopping center representatives had by this time
been contacted, and there were some written comments from them,
but still no representatives appeared in person. The result was
that the Senate Transportation Committee did something which is
quite unusual. They neither supported or killed the bill.
Instead, they decided to write a Committee letter to the Mayors
of Wichita and Topeka, where the problem of bus access to malls
and shopping centers is documented to exist, and tell the Cities
that the Senate Transportation Committee wants to see this
problem resolved, but wants to give the cities an opportunity to
handle it at local levels before adopting State-wide legislation.
The State legislative bill will be kept alive in Committee and
the committee will consider moving it forward if the Cities do
not adopt a similar ordinance at their level. While I continue to
believe that this issue would be best addressed by a State law,
it can certainly be approached as the Committee has addressed.
Therefore, as soon as the Committee letter is out, I will be
starting a dialog with the Wichita and Topeka City Councils about
introduction of an ordinance to resolve this problem. I will need
the assistance of local advocates at the time these efforts take
MAKE GREATER FUNDING AVAILABLE FOR PUBLIC
TRANSPORTATION: To date, Kansas has put very few funds into
public transportation. The entire State aid package for public
been around one million dollars. This summer, Governor Graves
convened a blue ribbon panel on transportation issues which he
called "Transportation 2000. The purpose of this panel was to
develop and propose a comprehensive multi-year transportation
plan for the State of Kansas. In the past, such transportation
plans have been called "highway plans" and have indeed only dealt
with issues relating to roads and bridges. The Transportation
2000 Task Force, however, held public hearings around the State,
and these resulted in many advocates for improving public
transportation being heard. Envision staff and employees, along
with representatives of the Kansas Association for the Blind and
Visually Impaired, were among those who advocated strongly
at these meetings for increased aid to public transit providers.
The result is that the Transportation 2000 recommendations, now
being considered by both House and Senate Transportation
promote about an eight fold increase in public transit State aid.
Public transportation advocates will make every effort to see
that this additional State aid to public transit becomes a
reality. So far, however, the Transportation Committee members of
the two houses of the Legislature seem to be making two views
clear. One is that they agree that transportation issues need to
be dealt with in the State of Kansas. The second is that they do
not like the Governor's plan for doing so, or his proposed
funding package. It is hard to say at this point where all of
this will shake out. Blind and low vision advocates, however,
need to keep giving Legislators one consistent message. No
matter what transportation plan and funding sources are selected,
Kansas needs a comprehensive transportation plan and program
integrating public transportation assistance into a mix. We do
not need another highway program which ignores public transit
IMPROVE COMMUNICATIONS ASSISTANCE AVAILABLE TO
MULTIPLY DISABLED BLIND AND DEAFBLIND INDIVIDUALS: The
Developmental Disabilities Reform Act is the law which sets forth
the system used in Kansas to provide community based services to
developmentally disabled Kansans. Though not specifically an
entitlement law, the Act does create the expectation that every
developmentally disabled individual has rights to security, food,
shelter, etc. Many people who are developmentally disabled,
however, experience blindness, deafness, or deafblindness in
combination with the developmental disability. For such
individuals, one of the greatest barriers to living a full and
productive life in the community is getting the appropriate
communications accommodations. In other words, if a person who is
multiply disabled deafblind communicates exclusively through
tactile sign language and Braille, and if these accommodations
are not provided, then the individual becomes quite isolated, and
skills deteriorate. The current law, and regulations implementing
it, however, only require that communications consistent with the
developmentally disabled individual's capabilities be provided at
times when decisions are being made or planning meetings about
the person take place. This level of accommodation is inadequate.
For an individual who is developmentally disabled sensory
impaired to benefit from community placement, discussions,
gossip, day to day descriptions of surroundings, etc. all must be
communicated appropriately, not just information at times of
decision making or at meetings. Envision, the Kansas Deafblind
Task Force, and the Kansas Association for the Blind and Visually
Impaired, Inc. have thus requested legislation which would add
communications assistance to the basic fulfillments to which the
developmentally disabled person has rights. A bill number has
been assigned to this proposal, and it is Senate Bill 268. I do
not know if we will get hearings on this bill this year. After
March 1 Senator Praeger
needs to hear that the bill needs to have hearings at the very
first of the next legislative session. Senator Praeger can be
contacted at (785) 296-7364. Her Topeka address is 128 S. State
Capitol, Topeka, Kansas 66612.
UTILITY BILLS SHOUlD BE IN MEDIA OF CHOICE: Envision requested
legislation which requires that utility bills be available to
persons who are blind in their media of choice -ie- Braille,
large print, on tape, or on computer disk. This bill has been
assigned the number, House Bill 2322. In theory this
accommodation is already required under provisions of the
Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) but the only way the ADA is
enforced is if someone files a complaint. Enforcement then
becomes quite adversarial in nature. We feel that it would be a
much more positive approach for the State to adopt specific
requiring media of choice for utility bills. This Bill received a
hearing in the House Utilities Committee on February 19th. Both
Envision and the Kansas Association for the Blind and Visually
Impaired appeared in favor of it. Four utilities testified
concerning the bill, two for and two against. It looks positive
for this bill to get out of Committee and go to the full Senate.
Several technical amendments will probably be added, however, so
it is hard to say how the bill will eventually look. There are
already a number of services around the country which specialize
printing utility bills in both Braille and large print, but there
is not really any current specialization available in the
recording of such information either by synthesized speech or
recorded natural speech.
STRENGTHEN THE KANSAS USE LAW: This is a State law which says
that, if organizations which employ large numbers of people who
are blind or disabled manufacture products which the State of
Kansas or a local school district need to buy, these governmental
give the organization who employs the blind or disabled the first
option to sell the product to them. There is a list of approved
products called PRODUCTS AND SERVICES MANUFACTURED AND OFFERED BY
SEVERELY DISABLED KANSANS. Products distributed through this law,
and the resulting program have to be competitive in both quality
and price with those available commercially. Currently, six
manufacturers, including Envision, sell products under this law.
The problem is that there is no enforcement provisions in the
law. When a State agency or school system violate it, usually
nothing happens to them. There are a few State agencies and many
school districts in Kansas which flagrantly violate the law, and
these violations in tern prevent many blind or disabled Kansans
from being employed. Envision and the Kansas Association for the
Blind and Visually Impaired are attempting to get some
enforcement teeth into the Kansas Use law. This bill is in the
House and has been assigned the number of 2396. It was assigned
to the House Appropriations Committee. Representative Phill
Kline is the new House Appropriations Chair. He needs to be
encouraged to hold hearings on 2396. His telephone is (785)
296-7693, and his Topeka address is 514 S. State Capitol, Topeka,
PROTECT STATE SERVICES FOR PEOPLE WHO ARE BLIND: The main
rehabilitation service and administrative center for the Kansas
Division of Services for the Blind is located at the corner of
6th and MacVicar in Topeka. Kansas Industries for the Blind is
also located on that corner. This property adjoins the now
closed, Topeka State Hospital grounds. At somewhere around
midnight on the last day of the 1996 Legislative session, the
Kansas Legislature adopted a measure that officially makes the
Division of Services for the Blind buildings a part of Topeka
State Hospital. This means that when the Topeka State grounds are
sold, the Services for the Blind buildings are slated to go with
them. State officials are saying that when the Services for the
blind buildings are vacated, sometime during the next year,
Kansas Industries for the Blind will close or privatize. They are
also saying that the other blindness related services which have
been offered at the same location for the past 50 years will be
re-located and "re-invented". Many blind Kansans do not trust
this process. Envision and the Kansas Association for the Blind
and Visually Impaired, Inc. certainly has its doubts an does not
want to see Kansas Industries for the Blind risk closure. In our
view, the best solution to this set of circumstances would simply
be for the Services for the Blind buildings at 6th and MacVicar
to remain open and operational. There is no particular reason
that these buildings should have to close and be sold just
because the adjoining Topeka State Hospital buildings are sold.
Legislation has thus been introduced which would make the corner
of 6th and MacVicar in Topeka dedicated to serving people who are
blind. It would separate this property from Topeka State Hospital
and make sure that it is not considered a part of Topeka State
Hospital. Because of some confusion in the Legislative Services
office, this bill has been assigned two numbers, Senate Bill 274
and 289. It is not possible to predict which of these numbers, if
either, will move forward. Both identical bills were assigned to
the Senate Ways and Means Committee, which seems to be the lead
committee in handling all Topeka State Divestiture issues.
Hearings have not been held on either of these bills, but they
have been held on a related bill. Senate Bill 159 would move the
divestiture of the Topeka State Hospital properties in the
opposite direction from 274 and 289. Bill 159 further defines the
Topeka State Hospital grounds as including the Services for the
Blind Buildings at 6th and MacVicar,
and gives all such lands to the control of the Kansas Secretary
Administration to divest in any manner the Kansas Department of
Administration sees fit. When hearings were held on 159, Envision
coordinated efforts, and six blind persons showed up to testify
against the bill. This was quite a shock to some of the Committee
members who did not understand the controversial nature of the
boundaries and divestiture of Topeka State. We asked that the
language of Senate bills 274 or 289 simply be added to 159 as an
amendment. Though having heard the Bill, the Committee has taken
no action on it to date.
INSURE THAT BLIND STUDENTS ARE GAINING LITERACY SKILLS: It has
been the view of the Kansas blindness community for several years
that significant numbers of blind students are graduating from
Kansas schools with inadequate literacy skills, and that literacy
levels among blind Kansans are thus generally on the decline.
There are also national statistics which suggest that literacy
levels are declining. In Kansas, however, we do not have a handle
on how severe the problem may be. House Concurrent Resolution
5010 urges the Kansas State Board of Education to do a State-wide
survey of literacy levels of blind students. The survey proposed
would also look at whether the most appropriate reading media are
being used (Braille, large print, etc.) The Resolution then calls
upon the Board of Education to take such corrective action as may
be necessary to resolve any literacy deficits identified.
Literacy, and for people who are blind, Braille literacy, are
very important to employment and self-sufficiency. The rate of
unemployment among working age blind remains very high (about 74%
nation-wide.) As more and more jobs require literacy this
frightening percentage will only increase if the next generation
of blind adults have
lower literacy levels than the current generation. This occurs at
a time when computerized Braille translation and printing, and
paperless or refreshable computer Braille displays make Braille a
more practical and easy to store media then ever before. In other
words, we have the technology now to put more and more people who
are blind and severely visually impaired to work, but we need to
insure that the blind and visually impaired population remains
sufficiently literate to take advantage of the technology. This
bill has had hearings where both Envision and the Education Chair
of the Kansas Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired,
Inc. testified in favor of it. There were no opponents. These are
good signs that the Bill might move forward, but there are no
guarantees. The House Education Committee has not yet worked the
Resolution and moved it out of Committee to the House floor.
STRENGTHEN THE KANSAS BUSINESS ENTERPRISES PROGRAM
FOR THE BLIND: Many know this program as the vending program or
the Randolph-Sheppard program. This is a program operated by the
Kansas Division of Services for the Blind which provides training
and licensure to blind business persons so that they may operate
vending facilities located in State, County, or City buildings.
This State program parallels the federal Randolph-Sheppard
program which provides for the States to offer similar training
and licensure so that blind business persons can operate
facilities in federal buildings. Our State law in Kansas,
however, has a problem similar to the one described for the
Kansas Use Law. Our law is weak on enforcement. It offers blind
persons a "preference when feasible" in operating vending
facilities in the publicly owned buildings previously mentioned.
These weak terms with regard to the blind person's right to
benefit from the law result in their being lots of leeway for
local governmental facilities administrators
to give contracts to multi-national corporations or to their
Uncle Harry to whom they owe a favor by simply finding, for
whatever silly reason they may choose, that having a licensed
blind vendor operate the facility is just "not feasible." Senate
Bill 175 would strengthen the law replacing the terms "where
feasible" with the terms, "right of first refusal." This bill had
hearings in mid-february. Envision, the Kansas Association for
the Blind and Visually Impaired, Inc. and the Commissioner of
Services testified in favor of the Bill. Although it was rumored
that the League of Municipalities would oppose the bill, this
organization did not appear or submit any written testimony
against it. It is notable that the administrators of the Kansas
Business Enterprises Program did not appear. The committee
became very technical in its evaluation of Senate Bill 175. They
questioned whether the language proposed would achieve the
purposes of the Legislation, and Senator Dave Kurr, the Ways and
Means Chair quoted Black's Law Dictionary's real estate terms
section in supporting his concerns about the language.
Ultimately, Senator Kurr decided that the Ways and Means
Committee was not qualified to handle the Bill, and referred it
to the Senate Judiciary Committee. It does not appear very
optimistic that this bill will move forward since the Committee
has a very full schedule. If it is to do so, Senator Emert needs
to be convinced that this is an important issue which must
proceed. Senator Emert can be contacted at (785) 296-2497. His
address is 356 E. State Capitol, Topeka, Kansas 66612.
REQUIRE GREATER ACCESS FOR BLIND AND VISUALLY IMPAIRED
PEOPLE TO ENHANCED TELECOMMUNICATIONS SERVICES: The
Telecommunications Access Program already has been established to
provide equipment to people who have disabilities so that they
can access basic telecommunications services. This concept is one
which the enabling legislation calls "universal access to service."
Basic service means the process of talking to someone on a
The type of equipment which is offered to blind and low
vision persons through the Telecommunications Access Program
includes, but is not limited to: voice dialers, big number
telephones, talk back equipment, etc. For blind and low vision
people to continue to be employed into the next century, however,
what is needed with greater and greater urgency is assurance that
people who can not see will be able to access the internet and
other text based telecommunications transmitted over the
telephone lines. These types of services are called "enhanced
universal services." The current definition of such services in
current statutes, however, is highly technical, and is in need of
changes because the technologies used have changed subsequent to
its having been written. Senate Bills 85 and 86, and House Bill 2496 all
provide new definitions for "enhanced universal services." None
of these proposals adequately include references to the need for
enhanced services to be accessible, or easily made accessible, to
all disability groups. This language needs to be added, and
Envision is testifying on all of these bills to this effect. The
good news, however, is that the testimony which has already been
provided on this subject by Envision has captured the interest of
some of the top officials at the Kansas Corporation Commission.
It is there view that some enhanced services could potentially be
added to the types of equipment currently covered under the
Telecommunications Access Program under provisions of existing
law. I have thus begun work to petition the Kansas Corporation
Commission to make these changes. The result could be that people
who are blind might be able to get equipment to make computers
talk free of charge through the Telecommunications Access Program. I
will keep you all posted as to progress on this issue.
SUPPORT STRONGER STATE SERVICES FOR THE BLIND
(A COMMISSION FOR THE BLIND): The threat to the current blind
services facilities in Topeka detailed at the beginning of this
article as well as moves on the part of the Rehabilitation
Services Commissioner to combine supervision over rehabilitation
generalists and blind services personnel, have led the two major
consumer groups of blind citizens in Kansas, the National
Federation of the Blind of Kansas and the Kansas Association for
the Blind and Visually Impaired, Inc., to support legislation
which would remove blind services functions from the control and
structure of the Kansas Department of Social and Rehabilitation
Services, and instead create a free standing agency which serves
the blind of Kansas and which answers to the Governor's office
directly. State agencies which specialize in blindness generally
do a better job,
and experience higher consumer satisfaction, than do agencies
are berried in a generic bureaucracy. About 50% of states in
America have freestanding agencies serving the blind. The bill to
accomplish a freestanding commission for the Blind has not been
assigned a bill number at this writing. Former Representative
Richard Edlund, who is Vice President of the National Federation
of the Blind of Kansas, agreed to take charge of getting the Bill
introduced on the House side and informed me earlier this week
that the bill will be introduced through the House Federal and
State Affairs Committee. This is another one of those Committees
which is exempt from certain introduction deadlines, so at this
point in the Legislative session, it is a good committee to use
in bringing the bill on line and getting a number assigned.
I want to thank particularly Sanford Alexander, Carole
Mary Adams, Ann Byington, David Schwinn, and Eva Kurtz of the
Kansas Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired, who have
all helped me work on the legislative matters covered in this
report. I also want to thank Richard Edlund of the National
Federation of the Blind of Kansas for his help in the work the
two of us have done together on much of this legislation. Lastly,
I would like to thank Bobbie White and Adabelle Houghowtt, who
are both not affiliated with either of the Consumer
organizations, but who have been active in helping me in working
on legislative issues this year thus far.
SKAVI (Southwest Kansas Association for the Visually
Impaired) - The Phi Beta Psi Christmas bazaar was a successful
event. Maggie the handcrafted bear, made and donated by Dell
Snyder, won by Myrna Austin, earned SKAVI nineteen dollars. The
January program was a time of sharing problems and solutions
among the members.
NKAVI (Northwest Kansas Association for the Visually
Impaired) - Congratulations are in order! NKAVI celebrated
twenty years in existence. Lloyd Nida, Rehabilitation Teacher
serving Northeast Kansas, was instrumental in organizing NKAVI in
1979 and has continued to be active throughout the years. A goal
of the group was to establish a low vision clinic in Hays. A
clinic is available on the Hadley Campus of Hays Medical Center.
The organization is planning a low vision fair in the fall.
Details will be shared as they become available. NKAVI NEWS FOR
JANUARY reports, "Support is generally close as the nearest
telephone. Someone is usually available to listen and offer help
BITS AND PIECES
EDITOR'S NOTE: Much of the information in this section was
contributed by William Lewis. The contributions are appreciated
- thanks, Bill! Reporting of items is not an endorsement of the
items by K A B V I. K A B V I is in no way responsible for the
reliability of items presented.
AIR CAPITAL TELEPHONE READER: As the Air Capital Telephone
Reader started its second year of operation, a new computer and
software package were installed. The new system is faster with
the synthetic speech now being software generated instead of
using external synthesizer devices. The new speech is louder and
easier to understand. Last year, telephone reader handled 15,827
calls. users READ online a total of 4,129 hours. To sign up for
the free service, contact our office on (316) 337-7701 to request
an application or call Brad Rehaat the Talking Book Department in
the Wichita Public Library, (316) 262-0611.
STUDENT AID AUDIO GUIDE is a new, free publication of the
U.S. Department of Education, Office of Post Secondary Education.
It provides information about financial aid available to students
with disabilities. Topics include federal financial aid
programs, sources and eligibility for non-federal aid and
application procedures. The Student Aid Guide is available on
cassette or computer disk. Contact Federal Student Aid Center,
P.O. Box 84, Washington, DC 20044-0084.
VISION ENHANCEMENT is a quarterly publication of Vision
Worldwide, Inc. It is available in large print, standard 2-track
audio-cassette and PC or Mackintosh computer disk with special
file for braille output. several columns, a section about
achievers, medical and science updates, unique projects,
technology, book, video and magazine reviews, a resource
directory and more. Subscription price is $20 per year. Order
from the corporate office: Vision Worldwide, Inc., 5707 Brockton
Drive #302; Indianapolis, IN 46220-5481.
SENILITY PRAYER: (Author Unknown) God grant me the
senility to forget the people I never liked anyway, the good
fortune to run into the ones I do, and the eyesight to know the
FREE EYE EXAM; (800) 766-4466 to determine eligibility.
ARNOLD AUSTIN, Butler, MO., died November 2, 1998. He
belonged to both the Kansas and Missouri Associations for the
Blind and Visually Impaired.
ISABEL RARDEN, a member of SKAVI died in November, 1998.
MARION BEAL, Pueblo, CO, 78, died January 30, 1999. He
graduated from the Kansas School for the Blind in 1940 and served
as a placement agent with the Division of Services for the Blind.
He moved to Pueblo, CO, where he sold insurance and later was
employed at the Pueblo Army Depot. He is survived by his wife,
Hazel, as well as a daughter and a son.
GRACE B. MARTIN, 92, Wichita, retired stenographer, died
Sunday, May 17, 1998. Survivors: son, Tom of Wichita; daughter,
Laura Waymire of Portland, Ore.; six grandchildren, 19
great-grandchildren, three great-great-grandchildren. Memorial
has been established with Grace United Methodist Church.
K A B V I COMMITTEES
The committee chair with address is listed first and
committee members' names follow.
Joyce Lewis; 3509 E. 2nd; Wichita, KS 67208; (316) 681-7443.
Samuel Wilson, Frances Long, Dave Bruce, Nancy Chaffin.
COORDINATOR - Regina Henderson; 1010 Inverness; Wichita, KS
67218; (316) 267-2244 (work) or (316) 687-0113 (home.)
PROGRAM - Michael Byington; 909 SW College Ave.;
Topeka, KS 66606; (785) 233-3839. Darlene Howe, Bill
ARRANGEMENTS - Sanford Alexander; 5321 Plaza Lane;
Wichita, KS 67208; (316) 652-0852. Barbara Alexander,
Sister Camillus Bayer, Sister Corona Bayer.
Ann Byington; 909 SW College Ave.; Topeka, KS 66606; (785) 233-
3839. Jackie Denk, Joyce Lewis, Millie Justice, Bernice Brown,
Debbie Heeren, Samuel Wilson.
Robert Chaffin; 1105 Centennial Boulevard; Hays, KS 67601; (785)
625-28873. John Gormley, William Lewis, Tom Roth.
Mary T. Adams; 412 Topeka Boulevard, #3; Topeka, KS 66603; (785)
235-3315. Don Johnson, Michael Byington, Bonnie Byington, Dave
Schwinn, Janelle Edwards, Lucille Parli, Eva Kurtz, Carole Hands-
Bonnie Byington; 1135 SW College Ave., #202C; Topeka, KS 66604;
(785) 354-9933. Darlene Howe, Mildred Meck, Harold Henderson,
Bernice Brown, Beulah Carrington, Barbara Alexander.
PUBLIC RELATIONS -
Sandy Evans; 2201 E. Macarthur Rd., Lot D225; Wichita, KS 67216;
(316) 265-2416. Nancy Johnson, Bonnie Byington, Georgia Layton.
Tom Roth; 2101 SW Potomac Dr. #7; Topeka, KS 66611; (785) 232-
1470. Michael Byington, Mary Adams, Regina Henderson.
Beulah Carrington; 1171 SW Woodward; Topeka, KS 66604; (785)
357-7090. JoAnn Martin, Janelle Edwards, Nancy Chaffin, Georgia Layton.
1999 K A B V I APPLICATION FORM
I am enclosing $5.00 for my 1999 K A B V I dues ____.
CITY: ______________________________, STATE: ____ ZIP: _______
PHONE: (AREA CODE) ______ NUMBER: ______________
Legally Blind ____ Visually Impaired ____
Deafblind ____ Sighted ____
I would like the K A B V I News and the Braille Forum in:
braille ____ large print ____ Disk ____ Cassette ____
I do not want these publications ____
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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