Volume 42 Summer, 1999 No. 2
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
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WELFARE OF THE BLIND IN KANSAS.
THE K A B V I NEWS SHALL REFLECT
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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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Wichita KS 67218
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TABLE OF CONTENTS
PRESIDENT'S PERSPECTIVE by Sanford J. Alexander, III
LAST COMMENTS DURING MEETING OF FUTURE DESIGN TEAM by Mary T. Adams
NOTIONS by Nancy Johnson
K A B V I CONVENTION Comes Into Focus by Regina Henderson, Convention Coordinator
K A B V I Launches New Program By Barbara Alexander
NOMINATING COMMITTEE APPOINTED
An Historical Document for Blind People in Kansas By Sanford J. Alexander
YOU WANT TO MAIL FREE MATTER Compiled by Richard L Belgard, McMinnville, Oregon, Submitted by William Lewis
DIRECTORS' RETREAT by Nancy Johnson
CALLING FOR 1999 AWARDS NOMINATIONS by Joyce Lewis
BITS AND PIECES
CALENDAR OF EVENTS
by Sanford J. Alexander, III
Hearing of the death of a friend or relative is never
pleasant. As an early baby boomer, I have moved into the time in
my life when such news seems to come at an alarmingly increased
pace. As a member of a population where the largest constituency
is over the age of 60, we have seen more than our share.
Despite these facts, it was with particular impact that the
news of the death of Mary T. Adams was received on March 30, 1999.
We often hear people lament that they never had a chance to
speak to a friend for that last time, to say the things they
regretted unsaid or missed the opportunity to share that one
thought or idea. I, fortunately, was able to have that last
conversation with Mary.
We had attended a DSB Future Design meeting the past Saturday.
Mary had provided focused input at the end of the meeting and
gotten several people's attention with her remarks. I felt she
needed to know I particularly appreciated her remarks as they were
constructive in their intent,if a little brusk in their delivery.
I phoned Mary to share these thoughts and enjoyed a lengthy
conversation ranging over many areas. Mary thanked me for my
congratulatory words, stating that she hoped she had been heard the
way she meant to be by those for whom her remarks were largely
intended; I assured her that they could have done no less as she
had hit the nail so squarely on the head. When we ended our
conversation, it was with comments related to what we would each be
doing in the coming weeks to advance the process of ensuring that
services provided to blind Kansans would not be diluted or
diverted. Mary still had many calls to make and things to say.
I'm grateful that this last opportunity didn't slip through my
fingers and that I had the chance to express my thanks to Mary.
The very next day she was gone.
I have only had the pleasure of knowing and working with Mary
for about nine years. Over that time I have come to recognize and
respect her for the wealth of knowledge she possessed regarding
services in Kansas for blind and visually impaired people. I came
quickly to appreciate that she spoke sparingly but never wasted a
word. It was also abundantly clear that she was dedicated to do
all she could to make it possible for other blind Kansans to
realize the best of their potential. Long after Mary could have
"retired", she was still active. Way past when many would have
claimed their infirmities as a reason for withdrawing, Mary pushed
on with a vigor and zeal expected of people much younger and in
Mary realized that blind people had achieved the gains they
enjoy through hard work and struggle, pushing against a system that
would have far preferred she sit back and let a benevolent society
care for her. She realized that equality in our society was not
something that would come freely or easily and that far too many
people failed to understand or appreciate the unique problems
vision loss imposed on a person's life. Mary realized that this
struggle was not unlike a war and that every blind person had to
take up the cause and offer their service if any were to succeed.
Mary was the Chair of the K A B V I Legislative Committee because
she knew the issues, articulated our needs, had the contacts and
wasn't bashful about being seen or heard where it would do the most
good for our cause. She leaves a gap that will be hard to fill.
The last words Mary T. Adams spoke at a public meeting were
aimed at bringing the DSB Future Design Team back into focus. She
firmly reminded the SRS staff present that if this was to be a
team, it needed to depend on the input of everyone at every level
including the composition of the agenda. She stated that, if
necessary, she would contact every legislator during the recess to
make sure they understood the issues of importance for the blind
community from our perspective. She admonished everyone that not
until this meeting had we been talking about the elements of
service to blind people that needed to be understood,preserved and
Unfortunately, Mary has withdrawn from the field before the
last battle is won. Her dedication, fervor and determination,
however, are attributes that will live on. Mary will still carry
the standard of our cause and help point the direction in which we
must march. If we don't feel strongly enough to do what we must
for our own sakes, we cannot fail to succeed for hers.
From my perspective, Mary T. Adams will live in KaBVI history
as one of its greatest members and agents of improvement for all
Kansans who are blind or visually impaired and I count it a great
honor to have known and to have had the opportunity to work with
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LAST COMMENTS DURING MEETING OF FUTURE DESIGN TEAM
Mary T. Adams March 27, 1999
"When you were talking about the document from Michael and I,
I feel like until this afternoon we have not talked about services
for the blind. We have talked about other agencies and other
programs and I feel like it was a way of keeping us out of
categorical services. I am going to keep on working for
categorical services if I have to go to every representative and
every senator. My favorite place ... summer school would be ideal
... keep categorical services. And I have felt like we have been
fed a line. We haven't been asked for anything to add to the
agenda. That isn't a team."
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by Nancy Johnson
Is anybody out there? I can't hear anybody! And that's
lonely and scary!
For several years now, K A B V I has been fighting to save
categorical services for persons with severely impaired vision and
blindness. For several years now, members have been urged to speak
out about this issue. The majority of items that have come across
the newsletter editor's desk are activities of the Board and
reports from persons serving on specific committees.
What have you, individually, done to help the cause, and what
have been the results of your efforts? Will you share your
activities through the newsletter with other members?
If you've made an effort in the struggle to keep what services
we now have and would willingly share your experience, get that
information to your editor. Your experience might give others
ideas about what they can do. You don't have to be a polished
writer. Polishing is the editor's job. Just share the facts we
can give to others.
Another item you could share might be your positive
experiences from services you have received. How have specific
services helped you? How did a rehabilitation teacher help you at
home? What did a vocational rehabilitation counselor do that
helped you? What did you learn at the Rehabilitation Center for
the Blind that helped you? It may have been only a small thing.
For example, when I was young I attended the Center. One day
during break a counselor saw me holding a soda bottle close to read
the label. He chewed me out for doing that because "it doesn't
look normal." He told me I should ask a person who was sighted to
read for me those things I needed to hold close. "Looking normal"
became the priority over performing some tasks independently.
Several years later, at a restaurant with a visually impaired
friend, the memory of the episode came to mind. we asked a
waitress to read the menu for us. I chose not to try to read the
menu because I remembered that holding it very close to read didn't
look normal. I don't know how long we waited for the waitress to
come back - but it seemed a long time. I thought, "I can read this
menu if I do it my way, but it doesn't look normal." I decided to
read the menu anyway - to heck with looking normal. If I waited to
look normal, we might never eat. Until that counselor made an
issue of my looking normal, I'd always worked toward that goal but
never been concerned when I used a special technique to meet my
needs. His comment later helped me put into perspective the issues
of independence and normal appearance. Appearing as others do in
terms of posture, grooming and body language is important to me.
But also important to me is the fact that I can perform many tasks
independently, though I don't perform them as others do and
therefore don't "look normal" while doing them. When I can't read
the menu independently, we wait to have it read - and sometimes we
wait a while before we eat. A simple comment by a counselor can
make a difference in a life.
Please share your experiences with others. It's not a good
thing to leave a newsletter alone and scared there's no one out
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K A B V I CONVENTION Comes Into Focus
by Regina Henderson, Convention Coordinator
Plans for the 1999 K A B V I convention are nearing their final
stage. I have enjoyed 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 be making your plans now to join us for what
promises to be a very exciting convention. Although many details
are still not confirmed, I can share what is known at this point.
First, the dates for the convention will be October 22-24,
1999 at the Holiday Inn, Great Bend, Kansas. The Holiday Inn is
located at 3017 W. 10th, Great Bend KS 67530
In response to input from members and following lengthy
discussion by the Board, 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.
The following is a tentative schedule as it stands at this
Friday October 22, 1999
10:00am: Board meeting
1:00-8:00pm: Exhibits open
1:00pm: Opening Session ceremonies
1:15-2:15: Telecommunications Panel: Assistive Tech for
Kansans; Telecommunication Access Project, Envision
and State of Kansas representative
2:40-3:10: committee reports
3:10-4:00: Panel: Benefits You May Not Know About; IRS, Kansas
Department of Revenue, SSA, Medicare funding for assistive
technology for the blind and low vision
5:00-8:00: poster sessions to be set up with exhibitors in
8:00pm: hospitality suite open
Saturday October 23, 1999
7:00-8:30am: presidents breakfast (invitation only)
9:00-11:30: Guide Dog Users of Kansas meeting
10:30-11:55: Low Vision Support Group
12:00-1:25: Membership Luncheon, Membership Chair
speaker: Alan Beatty, membership issues
president's report: Sanford Alexander
1:30-2:00: What Constitutes Best Practices in Orientation &
Mobility Training and Thoughts From an International
Perspective: Jadwiga Plesniar, O&M Instructor, RCB
2:00-2:40: Why We Need a Commission for the Blind in Kansas
and What We Need to do to Get One: Richard Edlund and
3:05-3:20: Alan Beatty: ACB update
3:20-4:20: Resolutions: Tom Roth
4:30-5:00: Braille and Literacy Issues: speaker TBA
Ophthalmologist With International Experience
8:30pm: DVS movie: TBA
8:30pm: hospitality suite open
Sunday October 24, 1999
8:00-9:00am: Eleanor A. Wilson Award Breakfast: mc
Bill & Joyce Lewis
Eleanor A. Wilson Award presentation
9:00-9:30: KSDS program
9:30-9:40: humor break
9:40-10:40: Resolutions, continued
10:50-11:05: elections: Tom Roth presiding
11:05-11:15: Other Business
11:30: post-convention Board 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 in July. Pre-
registrations received by the hotel deadline of September 19,
1999 will be charged $42.00 which will include attendance at all
meetings and meals. Registrations received after this date will
be charged $52.00. Registrations at the door cannot guarantee
seating at meal functions. Those desiring to only attend
meetings and none of the meal functions will be charged $5.00
whether pre-registering or at the door.
This arrangement will enable us to enjoy the best prices on meals
and is designed to reward those who pre-register which makes
convention planning easier and reduces the stresses of working a
hectic registration desk at convention. The program committee
has also scheduled activities at the meals to which they wish to
encourage everyone's attendance.
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 for you to obtain the convention rate,
please remember to tell the reservations desk that you will be
attending the K A B V I convention.
We all look forward to seeing you at this exciting
Menu for meals at 1999 Kabvi Convention
Lunch: Cost at the door= $16.50
Soup, Salad, Croissant
and Double Fudge Brownie
Banquet: Cost at the door= $26.00
KC Strip Steak (10oz)
Salad, Vegetable, Potato,Bread
and Ice Cream w/ Cherries Jubilee Sauce
Breakfast: Cost at the door= $12.00
Orange Juice, Scrambled Eggs,
Hash Browns, Fresh Fruit, Bacon
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K A B V I Launches New Program
By Barbara Alexander
One result of the recent K A B V I Board of Directors retreat
was the creation of a new program that will enable KaBVI to help
more young people than we have been able to in the past. The
following is the program's outline.
Project Get REAL
Project Get REAL (Real Employment Achieves Liberty) is a
K A B V I program designed to assist blind and visually impaired
Kansans formerly eligible for its Esther V. Taylor scholarship
program. It will offer an opportunity to reach more students
with meaningful experiences that will be educational for them
while providing more beneficial monetary assistance to the
students selected for the final sponsorship. It will enable
K A B V I to reach local school personnel and the KSSB. It will
also provide a mechanism through which the dialogue with the
Kansas Lions might be expanded.
K A B V I will select two winners from all eligible applicants
through a competition process containing several steps. The
winners will receive a $1000 grant, paid to KSSB, to be used for
a placement in the KSSB summer job program.
All applicants will participate in the components of the
competition which are designed to give them real-life experience
in the job seeking process and help them develop skills that will
serve them in any future endeavor. It will provide an incentive
for them to participate in planned seminars that will widen their
knowledge of the working world and give them a chance to interact
with successful blind and visually impaired adults.
The process will be as follows:
Applications are due by October 1, 1999
Hands on Technology seminar - October 23, 1999 at the K A B V I
Cover letter, resume and essay on an assigned topic will be due
by January 31, 2000
All applicants will be required to attend a program at KSDS -
April 29, 2000.
During this program they will be able to explore the guide
dog (including a test drive) and other mobility options and to
participate in other mentoring programming.
During the program, five finalists will be announced and then
interviewed by a selection committee that will announce the
two winners at the conclusion of the interviews.
Age: 16-21 and still in school
Legally Blind or visually impaired (20/60 or less)
each winner will receive $1000, paid to the KSSB SWEATS
program fund, for their summer placement through KSSB
Project Get REAL will replace the present scholarship
format. It will open opportunities to many more blind and
visually impaired children across Kansas. It was felt by one
person who knew Esther V. Taylor that it is the type of program
she would look favorably upon, believing that it advanced the
importance of education and employment at all levels.
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NOMINATING COMMITTEE APPOINTED
In accordance with the K A B V I Bylaws, four positions on the
Board of Directors will stand for election at the annual meeting
to be held at the Holiday Inn, Great Bend, Kansas, October 22-24,
A nominations Committee chaired by Tom Roth (785-232-1470)
will prepare a recommended slate of candidates for consideration
by the membership. Persons interested in running for office should
contact the Committee. Nominations will also be in order from
the floor at the time of the election.
Other committee members are Janelle Edwards (785-776-6684)
and Georgia Layton 785-233-1023.
Board members whose terms expire are: Sanford Alexander,
Michael Byington,Robert Chaffin, and William Lewis.
The committee's proposed slate will appear in the Fall
edition of the K A B V I News.
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An Historical Document for Blind People in Kansas
By Sanford J. Alexander
President, K A B V I
You have heard much discussion over the past year or two
about threats to services for people who are blind or visually
impaired. These threats, both in Kansas and across the United
States, have taken many different forms but all have several
The single driving force behind proposed, contemplated or
executed changes in service structures for blind people is
economy. Put simply, the mis-directed belief that such changes
will cost less without negatively affecting services leads to
changes that cost less and produce less, too.
Another theme that has been developing is that of blind and
visually impaired people banding together in a way not seen for
many years in order to fight for the survival of a service system
that has served them well. As part of this effort, national
organizations such as the American Foundation for the Blind have
assisted in the gathering of data to support the axiom that blind
people are best served through a system of specialized services
designed to address the unique needs of this population. Leaders
from both NFB and ACB have traveled to help state affiliates
defend the preservation of specialized services for the blind.
Paul Edwards, President of ACB, and Dick Davis, Assistant
Commissioner for Services for the Blind, Minnesota made such a
trip to a special meeting of the Kansas Division of Services for
the Blind Future Design Team on Sunday, May 2, 1999.
These efforts have fought an uphill battle against the
fallacious attempts by the independent living leadership to
capture funding designed for rehabilitation which they feel could
more appropriately serve people with disabilities within their IL
framework. It's warm, it's fuzzy; but, unfortunately, it won't
work. Worse yet, it violates one of independent living's basic
principles of consumer choice by telling blind people that they
can't have specialized services even if they think that is what
is best for them.
The last of several remaining common threads in this
struggle that I will discuss today is the emergence of
cooperation between state affiliates of the National Federation
of the Blind and the American Council of the Blind. In several
instances, and Kansas is proud to be counted among these, both
organizations have worked together to confront the common threat.
The joint statement that follows reflects the work between
the National Federation of the Blind of Kansas and the Kansas
Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired. It serves as a
document upon which future steps may be based as the struggle to
maintain services that blind people know work continues.
JOINT STATEMENT OF GOALS AND PRINCIPLES
created by a joint committee of Representatives from the
NATIONAL FEDERATION OF THE BLIND OF KANSAS
KANSAS ASSOCIATION FOR THE BLIND AND VISUALLY IMPAIRED
Sanford J. Alexander, III
created May 1, 1999
This document is not intended to restrict the overall
planning process of the Division of Services for the Blind Future
Design Team. The two major consumer organizations of the blind
in Kansas, however, have found a number of goals and principles
in common as they have worked together through the futures
planning process. It is the joint view of the leadership of
these two organizations that it will be beneficial if goals and
principles on which we are certain the two organizations agree
are set forth as a beginning point for the Future Design Team's
1. Blind people as consumers have the right to exercise informed
choice as to what services they receive.
2. Services for the Blind has to have a center based/facility
based services component as well as field components. The
facility based rehabilitation center for the blind must be seen
as one component of a system of several components all of which
are working together.
3. In disability groups other than the blind, medical model
rehabilitation is usually finished before vocational
rehabilitation is started. With blind people the medical model
portion of the rehabilitation process does not happen before
other aspects of
rehabilitation are started. The rehabilitation of a blind person
probably would not be more costly if one counted the medical
rehabilitation costs of other disabilities as being a part of the
overall rehabilitation process.
4. Everyone who works for Services for the blind, and everyone
who is in the supervisory chain of command for the agency,
including janitors, cooks, secretaries, and all other employees,
should have at least three weeks of training under sleepshades
prior to or shortly after beginning work for the agency. This
provision must apply to the Director of the agency as well.
current organizational structure this provision would also
include the Commissioner of Rehabilitation Services.
5. We need a comprehensive Services for the Blind agency, not
just a services for the blind Section 110 money funded vocational
rehabilitation agency. We need an agency that provides services
for the blind on a continuum with 110 monies only being one
component of services provided and funding used. The concept must
acknowledge that cradle to grave services are appropriate for
many individuals who are blind.
6. Blind services personnel should be supervised exclusively by
blind services specialist supervisors.
7. Kansas should submit to the Rehabilitation Services
Administration (RSA) a Separate State plan for the Blind. Blind
services should not be a portion of a combined plan.
8. Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) reimbursements
for placements of blind workers should come directly back into
the blindness services system, not into a general or combined
9. Services for the Blind should be non-means tested.
10. Kansas Industries for the Blind (KIB) still can serve needed
purposes and should not close.
A. A categorical, facility based program needs to continue to
exist. It should not be weakened in terms of services provided.
Core services should include:
- travel training
- activities of daily living/independent living skills
- assistive technology/computers
- braille/communications skills
- community recreation
- industrial and manual arts
- adjustment and modification of attitudes about blindness
Vocational evaluation needs to be a significant portion of
There must be a vocational component.
Housing options including home and apartment living should
be available as well as some dormitory space.
Overall capacity should not be decreased from current
B. Administrative services for the entire Services for the Blind
program should be separated from the facility based
C. We need, in addition to the facility based component, travel
trainers located in area offices throughout the state. These
individuals would provide community based cane travel training
and orientation assistance. We suggest the formula of
one travel trainer for each rehabilitation teaching position.
The two orientation and mobility instructors at the RCB should
work in close concert with the field travel trainers to insure a
smooth transition into the community for those blind persons
leaving RCB training.
D. The rehabilitation teaching program should not be restricted
to younger individuals only. Older Kansans who are blind should
have access to rehabilitation teaching services through the
rehabilitation teaching program as well as through the Kan-SAIL
E. Services for the blind needs to have a waiver specialist
working at full effort toward a program or system of blindness
related community based waivers.
F. An early childhood and blindness specialist is needed to work
in the field.
G. A low vision consultant position is needed for the field.
H. An evaluation of caseload size for the entire blind services
field needs to be performed, with caseload size evaluated based
on factors of population density, travel time, and area covered
by the blind services professional.
I. The Little Randolph-Sheppard Law in Kansas needs to be
J. It has been made clear to the Future Design Team that the
State of Kansas no longer desires to operate Kansas Industries
for the Blind (KIB). When privatized, the State should work
cooperatively with potential privatizing agencies, having
expertise and proven track records in employment of the blind.
This work should continue until privatization is successful. In
the unlikely event,
however, that the State continues to operate the program for some
additional time, the following changes should be made:
- Purchasing rules exemptions similar to those provided by
the Legislature to K. U. Medical Center
- There should be an exemption from VR eligibility. Blind
people should be able to be hired off the street if
jobs are available and they want to work at KIB
- State of Kansas employment transfers from KIB work to
other available State positions should be maintained and
continued as an available benefit of KIB employment
whether KIB remains a State facility or is privatized
(Editor's note: The following significant editorial appeared in
the May 21, 1999 Wichita Eagle, reprinted with permission)
Services for blind Kansans survive (5/21/1999)
Updated FRIDAY May 21, 1999
The Wichita Eagle_____
Services for blind Kansans survive
By Sanford J. Alexander III
Special to The Wichita Eagle
State services for Kansans who are blind barely survived
through the 1999 legislative session. With the assistance of
Senate Ways and Means Chairman Dave Kerr, R-Hutchinson, threats
to eliminate specialized services for people who are blind were
State bureaucrats announced last fall that the buildings
housing the Kansas Rehabilitation Center for the Blind, Kansas
Industries for the Blind and administrative offices for state
blind services would have to be sold since they are a part of the
closed Topeka State Hospital grounds. It was reported that the
real-estate "experts" who advised the state government had
decided the old Topeka State land would sell at a better price if
the blind services corner was included in the package.
Blind Kansans have been questioning the state about
services. Although the state formed a Future Design Team to
discuss future reinvention of services for the blind, advocates
felt they were not getting straight answers.
Officials of the Kansas Department of Social and
Rehabilitation Services (SRS) assured blindness advocates that no
decisions had been made about the future of blind services. On
the same day, they announced that Kansas Industries for the Blind
(KIB) would close if it was not privatized. KIB is a
state-operated facility that employs people who are blind.
Advocates were told that the Future Design Team could drive
the planning process but that SRS would ultimately determine what
services would or would not be offered. There were no plans for
bricks and mortar, but state officials told advocates, "If we
need some buildings, we will see what might be available at the
appropriate time." Yet the threat was bigger than just concern
about loss of buildings. Officials were assuming that blind
services should be submerged in the one-stop concept for all
People who are blind need specific training to acquire
skills to be more independent. For example, a general agency
might try to find a volunteer to read mail or lead a blind person
around. An agency specializing in blindness would, instead,
teach skills such as Braille and how to travel with a white cane
or guide dog. These skills enable a blind individual to be truly
SRS officials simply did not understand how blind services
work best. Decisions were being made based on the wrong
premises. That is why blindness advocates started talking to
members of the 1999 Kansas Legislature. Services for the blind
had to be saved.
They found an empathetic ear with Sen. Kerr. He agreed to
plant language in the Topeka State Divestiture Bill stating that
if the Rehabilitation Center for the Blind has to move because of
the Topeka State sale, it shall not be moved until arrangements
have been made for facilities of equal or better usefulness for
providing blind services. He also planted language in the bill
stating that Kansas Industries for the Blind could not be closed
until suitable arrangements, including similar wages and
benefits, are made for the workforce. Additionally, Kerr carried
a floor amendment through the Senate stating that monies for the
relocation of the blind-services buildings, including KIB, can
come from funds received through the sale of the Topeka State
To the consternation of various SRS officials, all of this
language was passed into law at the end of the 1999 session.
Legislators actually listened to the ideas and concerns of people
who are blind instead of the SRS view as to what was best.
Sanford J. Alexander III of Wichita is president of the Kansas
Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired, Inc.
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YOU WANT TO MAIL FREE MATTER
Compiled by Richard L Belgard, McMinnville, Oregon
Submitted by William Lewis
Many individuals have HAD increased difficulties when
mailing FREE MATTER materials, both in and out of the U.S. We will
clarify what is eligible for FREE MATTER, how to label FREE MATTER
for mailing in the U.S., and how to handle overseas mail.
First, we will deal with the FREE MATTER for Blind and
Physically Handicapped Persons eligibility and procedures. The
question and answer format was provided by the staff of the Rates
and Classifications Office of the United States Postal Service in
San Francisco. You should be able to obtain a copy of the
brochure at your local post office. "Mailing Free Matter for Blind
and Visually Handicapped Persons - Questions and Answers"
(Publication 347, March 1998)
Q: Who may qualify to mail items free of postage?
A: Persons who are blind or who cannot use or read
conventionally printed material due to a physical handicap. Other
handicaps that can prevent normal reading include disabling
paralysis, muscle or nerve deterioration affecting coordination
and control, and confinement in iron lungs or other mechanical
devices. Among the causes of such conditions are cerebral palsy,
multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy, arthritis, infantile
paralysis, myasthenia gravis, and diplegia.
Q: What must a person do to be eligible to mail items free
A: The person must have a competent authority certify in
writing that he or she is unable to read conventional reading
material. A competent authority includes a licensed medical
doctor, ophthalmologist, optometrist, registered nurse, or
professional staff member of a hospital or other institution or
agency. The statement is to be submitted to the post office
where postage-free mailings will be made or received by the blind
or visually handicapped person. The person is then considered
eligible to use the free mailing privilege.
Q: Which material may be mailed free of postage?
A: Under the conditions specified below, the following
material is eligible:
1. Books, magazines, musical scores, and other reading
matter, or pages or parts thereof, in raised characters
(braille), large print, or recorded form.
2. Paper, records, tapes, and other matter for the
production of reading matter, musical scores, or sound
reproductions for eligible persons.
3. Equipment and parts for equipment used for writing
by eligible persons or for educational purposes.
4. Sound playback equipment specially designed or
adapted for the use of visually handicapped persons.
5. Equipment or parts for equipment specifically
designed or adapted for use by visually handicapped persons, such
as braille watches, white canes, and similar equipment.
Q: Are there restrictions on this material?
A: The material may not contain any advertising. Musical
or other sound recordings not specifically designed for use
by visually handicapped persons are not eligible for free mailing.
The mail is subject to inspection by the Postal Service.
Q: Who can mail eligible material postage-free and to whom
can it be mailed?
A: Individuals, libraries, and other noncommercial
organizations serving eligible persons may mail the above
material free of postage to eligible persons and to organizations
serving eligible persons. Eligible persons may return materials to
the lenders free of postage. Eligible persons may exchange the
above material among themselves free of postage. Libraries and
other noncommercial organizations may exchange such material among
themselves free of postage. Commercial producers of the above
material may mail such material free of postage to an eligible
person on the additional condition that whatever charge, fee, or
rental required does not exceed the cost of the material.
Q: Can letters be mailed free of postage?
A: Letters in raised characters (braille), in 14-point or
larger sight-saving type, or in the form of sound recordings may
be mailed free of postage FROM an eligible person. Handwritten or
typewritten letters, however, are subject to the applicable rate
of postage when mailed TO or FROM an eligible person. Also subject
to applicable postage are bills paid by mail by eligible persons
and letters in any form when mailed TO eligible persons from
Q: Why must letters be mailed unsealed?
A: To allow inspection by postal authorities to ensure that
the materials qualify for mailing free of postage.
Q: Are special services available for free mail for
A: A mailer may insure a postage-free parcel by paying only
the required insurance fee. All matter sent by all special
services, such as Express Mail, certified mail, or registered
mail, requires payment of postage plus the full fees charged for
the special postal services.
Q: What must be marked on mail to show that it is qualified
for mailing free of postage?
A: In the upper right corner of the address side of the
envelope or parcel where the postage would normally be placed,
the words "FREE MATTER FOR THE BLIND OR HANDICAPPED" must be
placed. The words may be printed, rubber stamped, or handwritten.
Q: Are special arrangements possible for delivery or pickup
of free mail for eligible persons?
A: Eligibility for free mailing for the blind or other
visually handicapped persons does not encompass such special
arrangements. Post offices may be able to make special
arrangements depending on the local circumstances. Customers
should contact their local post office to request special
arrangements. Such requests will be handled in accordance with
the postal regulations concerning requests for special arrangements
by handicapped persons.
Q: Is international service available for blind and other
visually handicapped persons?
A: Yes, the same general rules apply, except that the
articles that may be mailed are limited to:
1. Books, periodicals, and other matter (including
unsealed letters) impressed in braille or others special type for
the use of the blind.
2. Plates for embossing literature for the blind.
3. Discs, tapes, or wires bearing voice recordings and
special paper intended solely for the use of blind or visually
handicapped persons, provided that they are sent by or addressed
to an officially recognized institute for the blind.
4. Sound recordings or tapes that are mailed by blind
or other visually handicapped persons.
Q: Where might an individual turn for help if problems
occur while using the procedures for free mailing for the blind and
A: Most problems can be resolved at your local post office.
Customers may make inquiries or express concerns by telephone or
letter, in person, or by using our convenient consumer service
cards. These postage-paid cards are available at all post
offices. If a problem cannot be resolved satisfactorily at your
local post office, you may write to: Consumer Advocate, United
States Postal Service, 475 L'Enfant Plaza, S.W., Room 5821,
Washington, DC 20260-2200. Or, you may phone 800-275-8777 (ASK-
The following information describes how Blindskills, Inc.
handles FREE MATTER that weighs over 16 oz. To comply with these
new regulations, it would appear we are all going to need scales
for weighing what we mail. It also appears unless you can make
an arrangement with your local mail carrier to pick up the boxes,
you will have to arrange to go to the post office and present FREE
MATTER materials that weigh over 16 oz. directly to a USPS
For mailing all overseas and Canadian parcels, regardless of
weight, a customs declaration (FORM 2976) must be filled out with
the following information and attached to the parcel:
1. "PRINTED MATTER" written or typed on left side;
2. signature required beneath it;
3. sender's name and address must be written or typed
on right side of customs declaration form; and
4. signature and date must appear below it.
5. "SURFACE MAIL" must be stamped or written on
parcel near address label, and the parcel must be handed to a
postal clerk who tears off the right side of customs declaration
for USPS records.
Many persons have macular degeneration and can still use
large print. If you wish to use the FREE MATTER privilege, you
cannot use your own handwriting but must use computer or typewriter
with a font that is 14 point or larger.
Contact your local post office staff if you have questions
about your service. The words that apply to domestic mail can be
found in the Domestic Mail Manual.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Information described in the above article
pertains to the Domestic Mail Manual E040 and International Mail
Manual, Part 250. The USPS Web site address is www.usps.com];
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by Nancy Johnson
All K A B V I directors attended the retreat at Kansas Specialty
Dog Service in Washington, Kansas Saturday, April 17, 1999. Alan
Beatty, president of the American Council of Blind Lions (ACBL,)
member of the Board of Directors of the American Council of the
Blind (ACB) and president of the Colorado ACB affiliate
represented Lions. Observers included Ann Byington, Harold
Henderson, Nancy Chaffin, Joyce Lewis and Don Johnson.
Following are questions and ideas that resulted from
discussion during the retreat.
Individuals with low vision or blindness can be an
organization's best advisors. Support groups and affiliate groups
are major assets. However, support groups may resist the word
"blind" because the majority of the members have low vision and are
not totally without sight. Some support groups do not wish to
become affiliated with a state or national consumer group.
Wherever three or more persons are willing to affiliate, a small
local K A B V I chapter can be developed. Lions could facilitate
affiliate and support group meetings by transporting members and
providing other assistance.
Why do we work for large numbers? Numbers demonstrate need.
The larger are the numbers, the greater is the need. Suppose we
have three affiliated members in a support group. Those people
get pertinent information by belonging to K A B V I. They disseminate
that information to remaining support group members, who join the
action to achieve the goal. K A B V I had 342 individuals on its
mailing list in December, 1998. It now lists 227 members with ACB.
These are included in a total of 517 individual names plus 36
agencies. A total of 556 newsletters are circulated quarterly.
K.A.B.V.I. NEWS is a real bargain for its readers. The
newsletter costs about three thousand dollars a quarter. Print
copies cost about $2 each. Braille copies are about $8 each.
The average cost per copy of the newsletter ($3000 divided by 556)
is about $5.40. This does not include postage, which has
increased with the mailing of standard print copies to readers who
can use that format. Some of the increase is offset by the fact
that standard print issues require printing of fewer pages. The
cost per newsletter varies according to the number of pages per
issue as well.
Communication is vital. K A B V I needs to be able to communicate
about activities involving members' participation. For example,
K A B V I doesn't want Colorado's rehabilitation center to be the
only option available to Kansans who are blind or severely visually
impaired. Another example is the need to communicate quickly
about the commission bill proposal.
Are K A B V I's efforts to save the Division of Services for the
Blind (DSB) and its services worthwhile? K A B V I needs to get the
visually impaired/blind population to support it. When members'
action is needed, it may be needed quickly, so K A B V I needs
methods to disseminate information quickly. In addition to the
newsletter, K A B V I can keep everyone informed through a toll free
telephone number and numerous mailings. To get the number through
Directory Assistance, ask for Association for the Blind, K A B V I.
Education is also vital. As new support groups form, they
must be educated about the needs of persons who are severely
visually impaired or blind and learn to deal with change.
Support groups and affiliate chapters are vital to K A B V I. The
organization must find ways to "support the support groups."
After the morning board meeting, Bill Acree, Director of
KSDS, presented a history of the school and commented that the job
is about people. He said we need to "get back to basics." The
components of those basics are independence, safety and
A tour of the KSDS facility was given. A black Labrador named
Sooner eagerly allowed twelve participants to take a "test drive."
Each "driver" held Sooner's harness and walked a length of
sidewalk. Those who wished to do so used a blindfold on the
return trip. Sooner increased his training and the test drivers
experienced the feeling of guidance by a dog.
After a pleasant lunch, Steve Lewis, District Council
Chairman and president of the Larned Lions Club joined Alan Beatty
for the afternoon's review of the relationship between Lions Clubs
and the blind community. He pointed out the Focus of Lionism is
service. The Lions motto is "We serve." Lions number 1.4 million
worldwide. Kansas boasts 9500 members. The total focus is not
necessarily just for the blind. Clubs are involved in a wide
variety of other service activities. Each club decides for
itself in which activities it will participate. Candy day monies
are shared with 60 percent to KU medical Center and 40 percent to
clubs. Audio Reader is supported by Kansas Lions Sight
K A B V I received Helen Keller's first published pamphlet by
donation. Excerpts from it were read. The goal of persons who
are visually impaired or blind throughout history has been to find
jobs. It was true when Helen Keller wrote her pamphlet. It is
Alan Beatty reported 3900 Lions in the country have impaired
vision. Forty-six blind Lions clubs now exist in the U.S. Much
is being done for the blind. The sighted community must be
educated about what is going on. Lack of interest, need, drive and
desire among Lions to become educated must be overcome. ACBL wants
a blind person in each club. Both the visually impaired/blind and
sighted communities need to open their minds. This is an
opportunity for a joint venture - a win-win situation. "Help the
Lions help the blind," is a fund raising slogan that often is
The ACB Resolution Defines what the visually impaired/blind
community and Lions do together. The intent of the resolution
has full support of Lions International. The afternoon's
discussion focused on developing partnerships and learning what we
need to begin doing to avoid misconceptions and the things we don't
want to see happen. Two primary issues for the blind community now
are: Instances when a club trying to do good does too much good or
is clumsy about it; or understanding how fund raising activities
work and the consequences of off-targeted fund raising.
Suggestions for collaboration between K A B V I and Kansas Lions
Instead of donating money, Lions Clubs might make a
commitment to donate a job. A mechanism is needed to bring
together persons with problems and those with solutions. Those of
us who are severely visually impaired/blind can educate employers
if Lions will find the jobs. Attitudinal problems exist for both
the sighted and visually impaired/blind communities. Employers
think they have no jobs a blind person can do. Visually
impaired/blind individuals often think they would not be hired
because of the disability. Increased local networking is needed
because jobs are procured through networking. The approach might
be to get information to individual clubs, not necessarily to
individual members. Information would be sent to the newsletters.
A transportation project for Lions was outlined. Drivers
might be dispatched from each club or town to the location of a
special activity such as conventions or conferences geared for
those who are visually impaired or blind. Drivers would
transport participants to and from the activity.
Lions might also become involved in preparation of
alternative media through assistive technology and alternative
formats. They might set up Assistive Technology Centers. An
assistive technology booth will be developed for the Lions State
meeting in June.
K A B V I Board members were privileged to view KSDS' recently
completed movie, "It's More Than Puppy Love," about the training
of a service dog and the rehabilitation of its partner.
A Lions Partnership committee was organized Sunday morning.
Members include Floyd Britting, Don Johnson, Charles Taylor and
Tickets for the drawing for the Helen Keller Brochure were
made available. They are five dollars each. Stubs and money
must be returned to Treasurer Bob Chaffin not later than June 20,
1999. Additional tickets will be available at the ACB convention
in July and the winner's name drawn at that convention.
A $100 donation was voted in appreciation of the
hospitality, use of the KSDS facilities and the meals that were
provided for the week end. Letters of appreciation will be sent to
KSDS and Alan Beatty for their helpful participation in the
The next board meeting 'will be July 24 or 31, 1999.
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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.
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CONGRATULATIONS, NKAVI - Northwest Kansas Association for
the Visually Impaired! NKAVI celebrated its 20th birthday February
13, 1999. Founders Lee Razak and Lloyd Nida were honored.
Pat Hall has been selected as a Project Insight counselor.
Project Insight is a new program of the Council of Citizens with
Low Vision, (CCLVI) which is a special interest group of the
American Council of the Blind (ACB.) Project Insight is a service
to help individuals answer the question, "Where do I go from here?"
after a doctor has said there is no more that can be done.
NKAVI hosted a meeting in Phillipsburg where 40 persons
attended. A support group in that area is planned with NKAVI's
help. Good work!
If you are 55 years of age or older and have age-related
macular degeneration, you may participate in the nutrition
research now underway. Contact Dr. Kendall Krug, (785) 625-3937
and arrange an appointment for an interview.
SKAVI - Southwest Kansas Association for the Visually
Impaired: Camp Mitchell, sponsored at Fort Dodge, had to be
canceled this year due to lack of interest. Dates were to have
been June 1 through 4, 1999. Camp Mitchell would have celebrated
its 25th birthday this year. HOW SAD! Maybe again next year.
SKAVI members have been learning about low vision aids and
other assistive devices and techniques at their meetings. The
organization now has 54 paid members.
skavi members are reminded to begin to prepare craft items
for the Christmas bazaar to be held in November. It seems early,
but having items ready to sell takes time.
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BITS AND PIECES
April was Volunteer Appreciation Month. It's never too late
to thank all those folks who help us and don't ask us to pay for
the services they provide. There are drivers, readers,
transcribers and shoppers, just to mention a few. Do something
special for your helpers. Take them to lunch. Put some gas in
their cars. Baby-sit their little ones and give them a night
out. Send cards. Do something you can do for someone else and
pass the volunteerism along.
IN APPRECIATION: Von Eulert, 79, is a 34 year volunteer
braille transcriber for the American Red Cross. That dedication
alone deserves recognition. But she hasn't stopped with
translation. She recently completed the only braille reference
code book available for blind students studying chemistry and
molecular structures. Thank you, Von. You and the many other
volunteers who do your work without monetary reward are greatly
IT DOESN'T JUST HAPPEN: We marvel at the speed at which
computers allow braille to be produced. And they certainly have
increased production capabilities. But it's not as simple as
some may think. To get good quality braille with appropriate
formatting, material often must be "cleaned up" for the program
to translate it accurately. The person operating the computer must
know enough about braille to manage the clean-up process before
sending information to the translation program. A scanner
"reads" the information into a computer. If it is simply given to
the program for translation and embossing, weird things can happen
with columns, symbols and/or paragraphs. We still need a human
brain involved in the process. Thanks to all the individuals who
make braille available to those of us who use it.
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SHIRLEY DEAN SMITH, Wichita, died March 20, 1999. She was
graduated from the Kansas School for the Blind in 1947. She
proofread braille produced by the Braille Association of Kansas
and then worked as a student coordinator for the Resource Center
for Independence in Wichita until her retirement.
MARY T. ADAMS, 74, Topeka, died March 29, 19999, at her
home. She worked for Kansas Industries for the Blind for over 40
years. She was a lobbyist and legislative chair for the Kansas
Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired and the
organization's 1995 recipient of the "Extra Step" award. Mary was
born January 20, 1925, in Elgin, the daughter of Joseph Walter and
Fannie Lee Wait Thompson. Mary was a charter member and past
president of the Topeka Association of the Visually Impaired for
Service as well as a charter member of the American Council of the
Blind. Survivors include a daughter, Carolyn Leah Adams, Topeka;
and a sister, Anna Mae Thompson-Bauman, Nashville. Memorial
contributions may be made to the Topeka Association for the
Visually Impaired for Service, the Kansas Association for the Blind
and Visually Impaired, or to the American Council of the Blind.
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CALENDAR OF EVENTS
Mark your calendars for the following events of importance
to blind and visually impaired Kansans. For more information,
contact the relevant organization directly.
* July 3-9, 1999 American Council of the Blind convention, Los
Angeles. Contact: ACB, 1155 15th St., NW Suite 720,
Washington, DC 20005, 202-467-5081
* July 24, 1999 K A B V I Board of Directors meeting (place to be
* July 30, 1999 Statewide Independent Living Council (SILCK)
Board meeting: Topeka, SRS conference room. Contact:
700 SW Jackson, Suite 212, Topeka, KS 66603, 785-234-6990
* August 17-21, 1999 Blinded Veterans Association convention:
San Juan, Puerto Rico. Contact: BVA, 477 H Street NW,
Washington DC 20001-2694, 1-800-669-7079
* September 19-21, 1999 Assistive Technology conference:
Topeka Expo Center. Contact: Assistive Technology for
Kansans Project, Sheila Simmons, 2601 Gabriel, Parsons KS
67357, 316-421-8367 or 1-800-526-3648, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
* September 29-October 1, 1999 Statewide Independent Living
Council caucus: Topeka Holidome. Contact: SILCK, 700 SW
Jackson, Suite 212, Topeka, KS 66603, 785-234-6990 (V/TDD)
* October 22-24, 1999 K A B V I convention: Great Bend Holiday Inn.
Contact: Regina Henderson, Convention Coordinator, 1010
Inverness, Wichita KS 67218, 316-687-0113
* October 29, 1999 SILCK Board meeting: Topeka. Contact:
SILCK, 700 SW Jackson, Suite 212, Topeka, KS 66603, 785-
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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