Published Quarterly By
An Affiliate of the American Council of the Blind
"To make every blind and visually impaired Kansan a self-sufficient citizen."
Volume 51 Fall, 2008 No. 3
KANSAS ASSOCIATION for the BLIND and VISUALLY IMPAIRED
Corporate Office, 603 SW Topeka Blvd. Suite 304 B
Topeka, Kansas 66603
Telephone: 785-235-8990 or,
in Kansas only, 1-800-799-1499
Web site: www.kabvi.org
Editor, Associate Editor
Nancy Johnson Ann Byington
714 SW Wayne Ave. 909 SW College
Topeka, KS 66606 Topeka, KS 66606
(785) 234-8449 785) 233-3839
Chairman of the Board and President
909 SW College Avenue
Topeka KS 66606
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Membership Secretary, KABVI
The purpose of
KABVI NEWS, published by the Kansas Association for the Blind and Visually
Impaired, Inc. (KABVI), is to promote the general welfare of the blind and
visually impaired in Kansas. KABVI NEWS
shall reflect the philosophy and policies of the Association,
report the activities of its members, and include pertinent articles
pertaining to blindness and low vision.
Publication Policy: Send us your news, views, articles, and features. Materials in braille, on tape, on computer disk (Microsoft Word, plain text, or ASCII), or typewritten (double spaced) will be considered. When quoting from other published materials, please include dates and sources. Unsigned material will not be considered for publication. If you send a stamped, self-addressed envelope, original materials will be returned. Articles for publication must reach the editor by January 15, April 15, July 15, and October 15 of each year. Editorial staff reserves the right to edit submitted materials.
Membership renewal letters are sent annually to persons who have not paid dues. If responses are not received within a reasonable time, names of those persons will be removed from KABVI’s mailing list and their subscription to KABVI NEWS discontinued.
Membership is open to anyone who is interested but is not required for receipt of KABVI NEWS. A membership renewal form, on which you can indicate your newsletter preferences, can be found at the end of each issue. Thank you for your cooperation.
Table of Contents
DOT increases protection for air travelers with disabilities
– Contributed by Marilyn Lind
Contributed By Jonathon Marcotte
News From Yahoo
Report from the Board of Directors, by Nancy Johnson,
The Clothes Line....A Dead Give-away, Author Unknown,
Contributed by Bill Lewis
Tantilizing Tidbits, Compiled by Nancy Johnson
Chapter Chatter, Compiled by Nancy Johnson
By Ann Byington, President
**KSB Advisory Board Revived: In late May, I attended a meeting of the Kansas State School for the Blind (KSSB) Advisory Board. In her update on campus programs, Cheryl Love reported that 65% of KSB students spend three years or less at the school, and then return to their local school districts with the blindness-related skills needed to complete school. Peripherally, students are making significant , measurable progress in vocabulary, braille, math, independent living skills, vocational skills and social skills. KSSB can document their program’s impact on blind and visually impaired students and can demonstrate that these students benefit from the high expectations of their teachers. Madeleine Burkendine, KSSB Superintendent, reported that KSSB is working in partnership with District 500 to utilize a reading assessment, Achieve 3000, which will require the braille reading students to access it via refreshable braille displays.
As well as transitioning to a more current testing modality, data for students with cognitive disabilities in addition to blindness will be separated from the other students to more accurately represent student progress. These “life skills” students learn functional skills, i.e., the braille letter “s” on a drawer in the dormitory room may mean “socks” are in that drawer. Using a life skills checklist for data collection allows these students to demonstrate their level of progress without comparing them to the less cognitively impaired group.
We discussed the need for mainstreamed blind and visually impaired, teachers of the visually impaired and regular classroom teachers to become acquainted with blind and visually impaired adults to help raise the expectations of this population.
Mentoring, activities with the Association for the Education and Rehabilitation of Blind and Visually Impaired (AER) of Kansas and publicity from KSSB were all suggestions made toward resolving this need.
KSSB out-reach teachers served approximately 270 students this year, with 120 students attending all of KSSB special programs. The Kansas Information and Resource Center (KIRC) served all 850 blind/visually-impaired students in Kansas. During the summer, KSSB offers an on-campus vocational program for students who have not ever worked, as well as a statewide program at Emporia State University which includes a sample of college life along with the vocational skills, banking, and community-based work opportunities. Ann Nielsen and Jackie Denk are assisting with professional development by bringing in nationally known educators in the blindness/visual impairment field both at KSSB and in Wichita. To assist with teacher training, KSSB offers free tuition in the University of Nebraska program as well as supplemental instruction for new teachers of the visually impaired. A mentoring/teaching program in orientation and mobility is being developed with a similar goal of providing competent instructors for the more rural areas of Kansas.
KSSB also loans assistive technology to students throughout the state. Ann Nielsen and Paul Clary are working with out-reach teachers to provide expertise specifically for infants and toddlers. KSSB staff has received and continues to apply for grants so that out-reach teachers can tele-conference with persons throughout the state to address the increasing fuel prices and travel costs. The K.C. All-Stars Foundation has been re-started and its scope broadened from athletics to include purchase of assistive technology, community career education and the creation of a music production studio on campus.
The membership of the committee was reviewed and Ms. Burkindine will contact the Kansas Rehabilitation Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired, (KRCBVI) to invite a staff-person from that facility to serve on the KSSB Advisory Board. Grants have also been utilized to focus the manual arts program into more home maintenance projects with graduating students receiving their own toolkits upon completion of the home maintenance course.
** National Convention of the American Council of the Blind (ACB): Kansas had six votes at this year’s ACB convention in Louisville, KY. We had five members in attendance: Phyllis Schmidt, Bill and Hermione Moore—with their daughters Katlin and Molly, doing a bit of volunteering in the exhibit hall—and Michael and me. Phyllis got to attend a workshop at the American Printing house for the Blind specifically for teachers of the visually impaired; I got elected Treasurer of the Braille Revival League and appointed to the ACB Rehabilitation Issues Task Force, Michael served on a pannel on Social Security issues, continued service on the ACB resolutions committee and as Resolutions Chair of the Council of Citizens with Low Vision International (CCLVI), Prepared Constitution materials for Friends in Art and also did a great job of serving as emcee to the Friday evening banquet. And a few of us had some Derby pie!
**Offer Still Stands: we held our first Board of Directors meeting last Saturday with the help of Skype voice chat. My goal is to schedule Skype chat time with organizational members and any KABVI members as an ongoing effort to improve communication among the state KABVI organizations/membership. We will travel to your organization to share our enthusiasm about KABVI and to ask for your help.
** KSBVIAdvisory Committee: After a longer process than had been anticipated, the Kansas Services for the Blind and Visually Impaired (ksbvi) Advisory Committee held its first meeting as a newly formed entity, June 12, 2008. Former committee members were asked to re-apply for positions on the new committee; Donna Wood, National Federation of the Blind of Kansas (NFBK) and I met with Michael Donnelly in February and April to review applications, make recommendations and assist in contacting potential committee members. We agreed to co-chair the committee.
The current KSBVI Advisory Committee includes: Ann Byington, Topeka, KABVI President; Donna Wood, Wichita, KNFB President; Dr. David Nelson, Topeka, low vision optometrist; Deb Brummer, Wichita, Business Enterprise Program; Beulah Carrington, Topeka, representing Older Blind; Steve Stambaugh, Wichita, Director, Rehabilitation Services, Envision; Nancy Bailey, Wichita,, Teacher of the visually impaired/transition students; Cheryl Covell, Kansas City, Transition Counselor,KSSB; Roger Frischenmeyer, Hutchinson, independent living specialist, Prairie Independent Living; Don Hazelton, Wichita, veteran; and Alex Culbreth, college student and attendee at the Kansas Rehabilitation Center for the Blind (krcbvi), Wichita. Don Hazelton died quite suddenly a few days after this meeting so another appointment will need to be made.
Though Donna and I were given the directive of motivating/assisting subcommittees to make recommendations at our next Advisory Committee meeting, September 18th, Mr. Donnelly established three areas of immediate need: 1. review/evaluation of the current training model used at KRCBVI, including a curriculum review, and and/or the implementation of a more client-centered model with low vision assessment, evaluation and training; 2. examination of the KRCBVI program, particularly as it relates to transitioning students; 3. Explore the Kansas Seniors Achieving Independent Living Kan-SAIL program as a more consumer-directed program, as well as a looking at the Rehabilitation Teaching program providing more community-based job placement/support service. Mr. Donnelly again presented committee members with the agency Professional Code of Conduct for our review. Whether or not the current KSSBVI Advisory Committee will fare better than its predecessor remains to be seen.
** Envision Grant: we are expanding our in-house technology capabilities, thanks in part to an $1850.00 grant from Envision. The grant and additional funds will be used to put in a wired network so that all computers at the KABVI office can communicate with each other, as well as the purchase of a new, more powerful computer with more backup storage capability.
** “Eyes Wide Open” Golf Tournament: Through the inspiration of Mark Coates, KABVI’s legislative committee chair, we are trying our hand at co-sponsoring a golf tournament with the Topeka Lions Club. Sunday, August 3rd. (See additional article.)
** Wichita Association for the Visually Handicapped Meeting: In response to our offer to visit organizational KABVI members, Mikel McCary, membership secretary, and I attended the June 27th meeting of the Wichita Association for the Visually Handicapped (WAVH) to review KABVI’s accomplishments, discuss KSBVI program changes urged via resolution at last year’s convention and to explain KABVI’s involvement in the re-establishment of theKSBVI Advisory Committee. I presented a lengthy report, including a summary of KABVI’s legislative accomplishments during the past year. A detailed explanation of the two meetings KABVI members have had with Social and Rehabilitation Services (SRS) Secretary, Don Jordan and Kansas Rehabilitation Services (KRS) Director, Mike Donnelly was reviewed, along with the agency’s response to several issues raised during those meetings. Finally, I provided an explanation of my decisions which resulted in KABVI’s involvement with the newly created KSBVI Advisory Committee. That presentation included a reading of my application letter to Mr. Donnelly. I promised WAVH and KABVI that, if it was my finding that the current KSBVI Advisory Committee was construed to be merely a rubber-stamp vehicle for KRS/SRS compliance with the State Rehabilitation Plan with no power to impact the activities of the agency, including program enhancement/improvement, I would come back to the organization and request advice on how to proceed.
At the conclusion of that meeting, I had the opportunity to meet Dr. J. David Crum, O.D. and member of the KS. House of Representatives, with whom KABVI has been working for the past two years. During my presentation, I urged members of WAVH to become more involved at the board of Directors level of KABVI.
By Nancy Johnson, Editor
The KCI Roadrunner van pulled into my driveway at 3:15 a.m. on Tuesday, May 6, 2008. Thus began one of the most interesting weeks in my career. After storms in Dallas caused a delay of the flight from Kansas City, resulting in a missed connection that ultimately led to my arriving two hours late at my destination, the Helen Keller National Center for Deaf-blind Youth and Adults (HKNC), in Sands Point, New York, I began my involvement with the center’s “Confident Living Program for older adults. HKNC is the only rehabilitation center in the United States that specializes in preparation of deaf-blind individuals for employment.
To learn more about working with people who deal with both vision and hearing loss, I spent a week as one of six Support Service Providers (SSP) with a group of ten deaf-blind seniors.
I was given a quick tour of the residence hall, which can house 30-35 students. We seniors and SSPs lived on the ground floor of the building on a hallway known as “Hotel Row”. Once I’d dropped my suitcase in my room, I was escorted to the cafeteria, where we late-comers were served sandwiches. My SSP duties began immediately as I began helping individuals locate seating and helped serve sandwiches. Eventually, I met my room mate, a graduate student from Virginia Commonwealth University.
A SSP is one who provides sighted guide and interpretation services so individuals who are both vision and hearing impaired have the information they need to function in the environment. HKNC offers two programs for seniors … one for individuals who communicate primarily using sign language and the other for those who communicate primarily using speech. The participants in this week’s program communicated primarily with speech.
The first order of business the next morning was introductions. An infra-red communication system was used. Each participant was issued a headset and instructed on its use. The speaker used the microphone, which was passed from one speaker to the next. Only the speaker could be heard, so emphasis was placed on only one person speaking at a time. This system was used throughout the training. Sessions were held from 9:00 to 4:00 with breaks and lunch. Emphasis was placed on understanding the dual sensory loss and developing confidence and coping skills to continue with daily activities in spite of it. Participants each . shared something about themselves. Introductory skill training was provided because, in five class days, little can be accomplished in terms of developing skills. Participants had an opportunity to attend classes on the last two days and learn a bit about specific skill areas of their choice.
Participants were oriented to the residence hall and learned about hearing and encouraged to ask questions of an audiologist. They had a similar opportunity to learn and ask questions about vision. They heard a presentation on emergency preparedness specifically geared to what a deaf-blind person should know about preparing for and coping with an emergency or disaster. A variety of communication aids and devices geared specifically to the needs of persons who are deaf-blind were demonstrated.
Leisure wasn’t forgotten. Because dinner was served at 4:30 each afternoon, a healthy snack was incorporated with an activity each evening. On Saturday, we all went to Madam Tussaud’s Wax Museum and then to Applebee’s for dinner.
Because I need some sighted guide assistance in unfamiliar situations … particularly crowded areas … my room mate and I collaborated. She guided an individual with a fair degree of usable vision while I followed her, guiding a blind individual. In the exhibit area, she told me who the figures represented, and I helped my participant tactually explore the figure while my room mate visually tracked her participant. I was so busy paying attention to where we were going, concentrating on not losing our group, that I didn’t notice much about the city except that there were lots of people.
On Sunday, Mother’s Day, a brunch was held with each mother given a rose. Participants were taken to Port Washington to shop and I enjoyed the drive along the shoreline. Later we rode the “conference bike”.
Some years ago a contest was held for engineering students. First prize was won by New York University, whose students designed and built the conference bike. This vehicle resembles a huge tricycle in that it has three wheels. It has seven seats arranged in a circle. One person has a steering wheel. Each seat has a set of pedals. Everyone sits facing into the center of the circle (as if in conference) and pedals forward. The bike does not travel in a circle … it moves forward along the road. Two people ride backward, however. (Pedaling forward and riding backward is an interesting feeling.)
The star of the week was Luigi, a five-pound Miniature Poodle trained as a therapy dog. He was the “grand dog” of one of the participants. Luigi went everywhere the participants went, riding in a baby carrier with his owner. He was always ready for a pat or to entertain.
As an SSP, it was my job to help make sure all participants got to meals, classes, activities, their rooms, or other destinations on schedule. If a participant needed an explanation of what was happening, I gave it. We didn’t expect participants to go through the cafeteria line, though students in the regular HKNC training program do so. SSPs helped participants find seats then explained what was available and went through the line for them.
The week ended as it began … with delays. The shuttle driver couldn’t find me and I missed my scheduled run and didn’t get back to my house until 11:30 on May 14. I learned some new things, including the fact that the dual sensory loss creates concerns that neither the vision impaired nor the hearing impaired face. I confirmed that, in general, I know what I’m doing. I saw another rehabilitation facility and realize we in Kansas do some things well, though there’s always a need to improve. I worked hard, met some special people, experienced some good networking opportunities, and enjoyed doing so.
I’ve tried to summarize the week in a nutshell. Nutshells can’t hold much, though, so this is the equivalent of a line drawing … not a complete picture … of the week. The HKNC Confident Living Program is reminiscent of the Seniors Programs Kansas’ Kan-SAIL Program used to provide. It’s a shame we can no longer hold training programs like this any more or expand our services to the deaf-blind population. . It’s refreshing to see the confidence participants can develop during a week of instruction and interaction!
DOT increases protection for air travelers with disabilities
U.S. Department of
Transportation, Office of Public Affairs
Washington, D.C. www.dot.gov/affairs/briefing.htm
News DOT 67-08, Contact: Bill Mosley Tel: (202) 366-4570
Wednesday, May 7, 2008
Contributed by Marilyn Lind
People with disabilities
will have additional protections against discrimination when they travel by
air, as the result of a new rule issued today by the U.S. Department
of Transportation (DOT) that strengthens the existing regulation implementing the Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA) and extends it to foreign airlines.
The new rule will apply
to foreign air carriers operating a flight that begins or ends in the United
States. It applies to U.S. air carrier operations worldwide. Passengers
flying to Europe, Asia, or other destinations
on foreign air carriers now will have similar protections against discriminatory policies and be entitled to the same accommodations as passengers flying on US carriers. DOT will also be better able to take enforcement action against a foreign carrier if it discriminates against an individual because of his or her disability on flights to or from the United States.
"This revised rule expands the protections people with disabilities will enjoy while traveling by air," U.S. Transportation Secretary Mary E. Peters said.
The new rule will also
make it easier for passengers to use medical oxygen during flights by
requiring airlines to allow the use in the passenger cabin of portable
oxygen concentrators that meet applicable safety, security and hazardous materials requirements for safe use aboard aircraft. The Department will seek further comment
in a supplemental notice of proposed rulemaking (SNPRM) about whether airlines should be required to provide medical oxygen to passengers upon request. The SNPRM
will also address subjects such as accessibility of airline web sites, automated ticketing kiosks, and in flight entertainment systems.
The new rule will also
provide greater accommodations for passengers with hearing impairments. It
will require airlines to include easy-to-read captions for the
hearing-impaired in its safety and informational videos. Airlines also must
the same information to hearing- and vision-impaired passengers that it provides to other passengers in airport terminals or on the aircraft - such as information on
boarding, flight delays, schedule changes, weather conditions at the flight's destination, connecting gate assignments, checking and claiming of baggage, and
emergencies. The rule does not specify how carriers should make this information available to passengers who are deaf or hard of hearing.
The ACAA, enacted by
Congress in 1986, prohibits airlines from discriminating against disabled
passengers. The Department issued its first ACAA regulations in
1990 and has amended the rules several times since then.
The new rule will be effective in one year to give carriers enough time to begin implementing its provisions. The text of the final rule is available on the Internet at
www.regulations.gov docket number DOT-OST-2004-19482.
5 Things You Never Knew Your Cell Phone Could Do
Contributed by Jonothan Marcotte
For all the folks with cell phones: Good information to have with you. A few things can be done in times of grave emergencies. Your mobile phone can actually be a life saver or an emergency tool for survival. Check out the things that you can do with it:
Emergency: The Emergency
Number worldwide for Mobile is 112. If you find
Yourself out of the coverage area of your mobile network and there is
Emergency, dial 112 and the mobile will search any existing network to Establish the emergency number for you. Interestingly, 112 can be dialed even if the keypad is locked. Try it.
SECOND locked your keys in the car? Does your car have remote keyless entry? This may come in handy some day and is a good reason to own a cell phone. If you lock your keys in the car and the spare keys are at home, call someone at home on their cell phone from your cell phone. Hold your cell phone about a foot from your car door and have the person at your home press the unlock button, holding it near the mobile phone on their end. Your car will unlock. This saves someone from having to drive your keys to you. Distance is no object. You could be hundreds of miles away, and if you can reach someone who has the other 'remote' for your car, you can unlock the doors (or the trunk). (Editor's Note: It works fine! We tried it and it unlocked our car over a cell phone!'
THIRD Hidden Battery Power: Imagine your cell battery is very low. To activate reserves, press the keys *3370#. Your cell phone will restart with this reserve and the instrument will show a 50% increase in battery. This reserve will get charged when you charge your cell phone next time.
FOURTH disable a STOLEN mobile phone: To check your Mobile phone's serial number, key in the following Digits on your phone: *#06#. A 15-digit code will appear on the screen. This number is unique to your handset. Write it down and keep it somewhere safe. When your phone gets stolen, you can phone your service provider and give them this code. They will then be able to block your handset so even if the thief changes the SIM card, your phone will be totally useless. You probably won't get your phone back, but at least you know that whoever stole it can't use/sell it either. If everybody did this, there would be no point in people stealing mobile phones.
Free Directory Service
for Cells: Cell phone companies are charging us $1.00 to $1.75 or more for
411 information calls when they don't have to. Most of us do not carry a
telephone directory in our vehicles, which makes this situation even more of
a problem. When you need to use the 411 information option, simply dial:
(800) FREE411 or (800) 373-3411 without incurring any charge at all.
Program this into your cell phone now.
FOR THE BLIND
by Sarah Peterson
Editor’s Note: Sarah Peterson is a high school senior, Kansas Youth Leadership Forum delegate and participant in the VIEWS Program.
the warmth of sunlight upon the flesh
laughter warming the heart
dreams before you wake
memories in the fog of time
a melody that soothes the spirit
the scent of freshly-cut grass
the shade of a towering cottonwood
a bitter and defiant heart
the soul choking in sin
rage that sparks and sets a fire
passion between two lovers
the precious Blood that redeems
the absence of hate
the spirit renewed by God
calm after the storm
all your hopes, dreams, and visions before you
Jordan’s Plans May Disempower Blind
By Michael Byington
The current word in business and governmental efficiency is “strategic planning.” This concept has seemed to be around for the past 20 or 25 years or so, so it is probably with us to stay. There are certainly lots of consultants running around making a living off of helping business and government entities do it.
The idea is that someone from the outside of normal operations helps look at what the business or agency is doing and how it can be done more efficiently, cost effectively, and productively. Then a plan is formulated to help get the business or agency to that point. It seems as if most entities go through strategic planning every five to ten years.
The Kansas Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services (SRS) is no exception. That agency, which is the largest government agency in Kansas, has recently undergone the strategic planning process.
In this article, I am not going to attempt to outline the SRS strategic plan. I doubt most of our readers would be interested, and if they are, they can go to www.srs.org and read it for themselves. I am going to write, however, about an overriding principle of the new SRS strategic plan, and discuss the impact it may have on blind and visually impaired Kansans.
Obviously, SRS, like all government agencies wants to do more with less. To that end, a lot of focus has been on how to make workers more productive so that less people can competently handle more cases. This concept in and of itself is a bit frightening if one is involved with a service population, such as the blind and visually impaired, where training and services delivered in a staff intensive manner, small ratios of staff to clients, and services on an individualized basis, are preferable. The concept becomes even a little more frightening, however, when it is noted that one of the principle means of achieving greater efficiency in the SRS strategic plan is to elevate the information technology (IT) people to a much higher level on the organizational chart so that they can make service delivery more uniform in the way it is computerized.
Many small SRS offices around the State are being closed or downsized. Instead, computerized do it yourself access points are being installed at many local community agencies. Even if an attempt is made to make these points accessible to people who are blind and visually impaired, quite frankly, the SRS IT folks simply are not proving to be competent in setting up blindness and other disability access software and hardware so that it actually works. Even if, wonders of wonders, the IT folks get it right in the setup, the access software and hardware are seldom updated and maintained appropriately. Furthermore, the newly blinded or low vision individual who may be applying for services for the first time will usually not have the competencies to make use of the access technology. Training is required to use that stuff, and that is often why they are applying for services in the first place.
In addition to problems created for new blind and visually impaired clients, and prospective ones, by the increased emphasis on one size fits all IT, the dependence on IT to drive the system, instead of the system driving IT. This creates problems for State employees who are blind and low vision, for vocational trainers of blind and low vision people, and for clients receiving equipment.
The IT folks tend to like uniformity. If they have to put that assistive technology stuff on the system for blind and low vision folks, they tend to choose one brand and version of each type of accommodation software and to say that that is what everyone must use. This certainly does not allow clients to receive well rounded training, and it also sometimes prevents employees from getting the equipment that they can use most efficiently. It further prevents the people who are doing training, and who are experts in what is going to work best for getting blind people employed from researching new software and hardware which may come on to the market and may work better for certain work related functions. The experts in the field of assistive technology for the blind and visually impaired are often not even allowed to load such software onto a State system to test it. Such software has to be approved by an IT generalist first, who may not understand it, and who tends to make experimentation on behalf of blind and visually impaired Kansans a rather low priority. What is more, IT having such control over programming and services, allows IT to make rules that are expected to apply to all SRS clients and employees without exception. This is resulting in such restrictions as blind and visually impaired clients who are going to college not being permitted to learn to download text books in alternate formats directly from secure Internet websites such as Recordings for the Blind and Dyslexic or National Library Services for the Blind, clients not being allowed to use portable, customized access technology that is carried with them on a jump drive, and generally keeping the State of Kansas months or maybe even years behind what is happening in assistive technology for the disabled in the rest of the Country.
The Interim Director of the Kansas Services for the Blind and Visually Impaired, Dennis Ford, claims that he wants to make Kansas the best State in the Country in terms of rehabilitation services for the blind and visually impaired. This is a commendable goal, but he is not going to be able to come even close to doing it if he continues to be forced to operate under the draconian restrictions that IT is being allowed to put Kansas Services for the Blind and Visually Impaired under.
Serotek Introduces Keys for K-12
Free Software Program for Students
NOTE: Some of you may remember that Mike Calvo, CEO of Serotek visited our KABVI Convention several years ago. His product was then called Freedom Box. Read on about a truly monumental offer for blind/visually impaired children, their families and teachers.
MINNEAPOLIS, Minn – July 2, 2008 – Serotek Corporation, the leading provider of Internet and digital information accessibility software and services, announced today a program for blind and low vision students called Keys for K-12. The program puts blind children on par with their sighted peers as it relates to the use of a computer. Keys for K-12 allows computer access by providing Serotek's System Access Mobile software
for text-to-speech screen reading and/or screen magnification at no charge. It provides a free license to carry the capability on a U3-enabled USB thumb drive so students can plug the drive into any computer anywhere and have instant access to all resident Windows-based and Microsoft Office applications such as Word, Excel and PowerPoint. When unplugged, no trace of usage is left behind on the host computer. The Keys for K-12 program also includes continuous update service. The license is
renewable every year until the student's eighteenth birthday or graduation from high school, whichever comes first.
“For children in the 21st century, using a computer is as basic as learning to read or riding a bike,” said Mike Calvo, CEO , Serotek Corporation, “Imagine a blind child
at a friend's house, and the sighted friend wants to work on a shared science project. Until now, blind kids just felt left out while the other kids looked at the screen.”
The typical screen reader on the market today costs more than $1,000 per computer and only allows a student to access 1 or 2 computers. These computers are often located in “special classrooms” which prevents users from taking part in mainstream classroom activities, inhibits socialization, and precludes parents from sharing computer time with students at home. The Keys for K-12 programs aims to place all students in a position of equal access regardless of home or educational budgets.
“This is our investment in America 's future,” continued Calvo, “When every student has the same opportunity to succeed, we all reap a richer and more vibrant community.”
Keys for K-12 levels the playing field for blind children whether at school, the library, Internet café, or Grandma's house. Parents, teachers or school administrators who are interested in expanding the world of access for their blind students can complete the online eligibility form at www.serotek.com/kk12.html , which includes certification of visual impairment from medical and educational professionals, and follow the simple steps to download the System Access Mobile software to a USB drive.
While System Access Mobile is highly intuitive and many computer savvy students will be able to self-train in minutes, new computer users can obtain TrainingWare™ online. Special Keys for K-12 pricing is available as well as a special teacher's package for those who are new to working with blind or low-vision students. For more information,visit www.serotek.com.
Court Says Money Discriminates Against Blind People
News From Yahoo
The U.S. discriminates against blind people by printing paper money that makes it impossible for them to distinguish among the bills' varying values, a federal appeals court ruled Tuesday.
The ruling upholds a decision by a lower court in 2006. It could force the Treasury Department to redesign its money. Suggested changes have ranged from making bills different sizes to printing them with raised markings.
The American Council for the Blind sued for such changes but the Treasury Department has been fighting the case for about six years.
"I don't think we should have to rely on people to tell us what our money is," said Mitch Pomerantz, the council's president.
The U.S. acknowledges the design hinders blind people but it argued that blind people have adapted. Some relied on store clerks to help them, some used credit cards and others folded certain corners to help distinguish between bills. The court ruled 2-1 that such adaptations were insufficient. The government might as well argue that, since handicapped people can crawl on all fours or ask for help from strangers, there's no need to make buildings wheelchair accessible, the court said.
Courts can't decide how to design the currency, since that's up to the Treasury Department. But the ruling forces the department to address what the court called a discriminatory problem.
Pomerantz says it could take years to change the look of money and until then, he expects that similar-looking money will continue to get printed and spent. But since blindness becomes more common with age, people in the 30s and 40s should know that, when they get older, "they will be able to identify their $1 bills from their fives, tens and twenties," he said.
Officials at the Treasury Department and the department's Bureau of Engraving and Printing, which prints the nation's currency, had no immediate comment on the ruling. The government could appeal to the Supreme Court. While the government has been fighting to overturn the lower court ruling, it has been taking some steps toward modifying U.S. currency for the visually impaired.
The most recent currency redesign of the $5 bill introduced in March features a giant "5" printed in purple on one side of the bill to help those with vision problems distinguish the bill.
The appeals court also ruled that the U.S. failed to explain why changing the money would be an undue burden. The Treasury Department has redesigned its currency several times in recent years, and adding features to aid the blind would come at a relatively small cost, the court said. Other countries have added such features, the court said, and the U.S. never explained what made its situation so unique.
Report from the Board of Directors
By Nancy Johnson, Recording Secretary
The Board of Directors of the Kansas Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired (KABVI) met at the corporate office on July 19, 2008. The meeting, convened at 10:36 by President Ann Byington, was attended by eleven directors (two by Skype computer conferencing) and two guests. David Schwinn reported his new address is 5436 SW 18th St. Topeka, KS 66604. His new telephone number is 785 228 1409. Bill Moore’s zip code was corrected to 66617.
A grant of $1850 was received from Envision. KABVI’s request was for $3700. With the grant was received a letter from Envision’s CEO Linda Merrill, which Michael Byington read followed by his response.
KABVI received a bequest of $27,727.86 from the estate of Lois K. Harms, whose husband had been a member of the Central Kansas Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired. Treasurer Bob Chaffin was authorized to work with a representative of the Edward Jones Company to invest the funds to KABVI’s best advantage.
Received from the vehicle donation program was $1066, which is a substantial increase since advertising costs have been discontinued. Now that the program requires no cost for KABVI, it will be allowed to continue.
Ann Byington is dealing with paperwork involved in the computer recycling program. Not only has KABVI received computers to be recycled, but a variety of other items as well. Members are encouraged to contact KABVI with any type of assistive technology, low-tech or high-tech, they have available. KABVI will get the items to others who may be able to use them. Kathy Dawson has contacted the company that provides Prodigy talking glucose monitors and may be able to get some of their earlier models for which people can still obtain test strips. The demand for meters seems to come in spurts.
Paul Berscheidt has completed work on the archives on KABVI’s web site. Everything available since 1998 is included. The site receives 33 to 34 hits daily. Some formats may vary, but everything is there. Information about the availability of Skype, including KABVI’s Skype name (KABVI1920) will be made available. The possibility of a list serve or forum will be investigated. Networking and other issues were discussed. Use of the grant funds earmarked for upgrading the office computers was turned over to the technology committee.
The office copier had to be repaired again. Several options, including continuing repair, lease, or purchase were discussed. The copier problem was assigned to the technology committee. .
Michael Byington had invited the representative of C Market, an online auction service, to attend this meeting. The representative was not able to attend. Bob Chaffin, Kathy Dawson, and David Schwinn, who comprise the finance committee, will talk with the C Market representative.
The present status of the Rehabilitation Teaching (RT) program was reviewed. Teachers no longer have funding to provide basic equipment to newly blind or severely disabled individuals who are not involved with either the Vocational Rehabilitation or Kan-SAIL programs but need to learn blindness or low vision techniques. Items no longer available to these people include bold pens, bold lined writing paper, writing guides, braille books, and braille writing equipment (slates and styluses). Consensus was for people to donate items to KABVI, and teachers can check with KABVI to learn if specific items are available. In the meantime, KABVI will take the problem to the legislature to work for funding of the RT program and for equipment for the un-served group. .
It was recently learned that Kansas law allows insurance companies to raise the cost of renter’s insurance if an individual is blind.
Three scholarship applications were received. Only two awards could be given. These went to Brenna Koch and Genevieve Schmidt.
KABVI’s membership has increased enough that the organization now has six votes at the American Council for the Blind (ACB) convention.
Ann Byington and Donna Wood, president of the National Federation for the Blind of Kansas, have been asked to co-chair the KSB Advisory Committee. The committee has been asked to look at the Kan-SAIL and RT programs and the curriculum of the rehabilitation center.
Ann Byington and Mikel McCary met June 25th with the Wichita Association for the Visually Handicapped (WAVH). The discussion is summarized in Ann’s “What’s Happening” column elsewhere in this issue of KABVI NEWS. Although there are blind members on the State Rehabilitation Council (SRC), someone is needed to represent the needs of blind people there. The SRC rather than the Advisory Committee has the power.
It was learned that, as of July 27, no nurses will be on staff at the RCB.
The Topeka and Shawnee County Public Library will not be available November 8 but would be available on November 22. Consensus was that November 22 is too close to the Thanksgiving holiday. November 8 is preferred. Ann will check on the Pozez Education Center and Kathy Dawson will check on the use of her church. Last year 55 people attended the convention.
Georgia Layton is no longer able to perform the duties of awards committee chair. Kathy Dawson will chair the committee with Joyce Lewis and Nancy Chaffin serving with her.
Ann Byington reported that 12 individuals from ACB affiliates will be chosen for public relations training by ACB. Nancy Johnson’s name was submitted and accepted. She will act as chair of the newly formed public relations committee. Also serving will be Mark Coates and Marilyn Lind.
Work continues to resolve the computer issues in the dormitory at KRCBVI. Although progress is being made, it is extremely slow. A great deal of administrative oversight is involved, and only about 1/3 of the previous availability has been restored. Students learn to do things in class but can’t practice in the dorm, which slows their progress.
The “Eyes Wide Open” golf tournament will be held at Topeka’s Cypress Ridge Golf Course on Sunday, August 3 with 6:00 a.m. check-in and an 8:00 a.m. shotgun start. Information and registration forms are available at www.vocshop.com/lions or www.kabvi.org. All interested golfers are invited to participate.
The next meeting of the KABVI Board of Directors will be held the Sunday after the convention. Watch your mailbox for information and registration packets.
By Conrad Lauck
I was shot March 2, 1991, which left me totally blind. The bullet had entered the left side of my head, taken both of my optic nerves with it, and then exited the right side of my head. It took me a little time to adjust to my new way of living. I really didn’t know what I was going to do with myself because I actually thought my life was over. I didn’t know what training was available for me to become a productive citizen again.
I moved to Horton, Kansas, to marry a lady I had known for quite a while, but the marriage didn’t last very long. While I was married, I started to attend the Rehabilitation Center for the Blind, and Visually Impaired. While attending the center I earned my G E D. I learned some Computer skills and I also went to my Techniques of daily living classes. That is also where I got my mobility instructions.
My most recent accomplishment, which I am still working on, and which I think I will not finish until I die, is TO PUT together all I have learned since becoming blind. I can honestly say that my life has only come alive., I can finally stand up for myself as I need to do… and I enjoy it, too.
I accomplished other things before I lost my sight, but I didn’t think they were all that important. I was a truck driver for 23 years and had driven to 48 states, Canada, and Mexico, which I enjoyed very much.
I have had an awful lot to deal with since I became blind. I was told that I have Progressive multiple sclerosis. It is a real hard thing to ask people to do things, like walking around everywhere I need to go, that I am used to doing myself. I now have to depend on someone to push me in my wheel chair. I don’t like asking people to do anything for me because I always considered myself a very independent person.
I got a computer when I was at the Rehab Center. I do have to admit that I enjoy working with it. I didn’t think I could ever learn to operate a computer in the first place. But I used the computer to write this article. I still amaze myself with everything I can do since I became blind. I’m living proof that you can make the changes you need to make and stay independent if you decide to do it.
The Clothes Line....A Dead Give-away.
Author Unknown – Contributed by Bill Lewis
Do the kids today even know what a clothes line is? For all of us who are older, this will bring back the memories.
THE BASIC RULES
1. You had to wash the clothes line before hanging any clothes. Walk the length of each line with a damp cloth around the line.
2. You had to hang the clothes in a certain order and always hang whites with whites and hang them first.
3. You never hung a shirt by the shoulders, always by the tail. What would the neighbors think?
4. Wash day on a Monday … never hang clothes on the weekend or Sunday for heaven's sake!
5. Hang the sheets and towels on the outside lines so you could hide your 'unmentionables' in the middle.
6. It didn't matter if it was sub zero weather ... clothes would 'freeze dry.'
7. Always gather the clothes pins when taking down dry clothes. Pins left on the line were 'tacky'.
8. If you were efficient, you would line the clothes up so that each item did not need two clothes pins, but shared one of the clothes pins with the next washed item.
9. Clothes off of the line before dinner time, neatly folded in the clothes basket and ready to be ironed.
Well, that's a whole other subject.
A clothes line was a news forecast
To neighbors passing by.
There were no secrets you could keep
When clothes were hung to dry.
It also was a friendly link
For neighbors always knew
If company had stopped on by
To spend a night or two.
For then you'd see the "fancy sheets"
And towels upon the line;
You'd see the "company table cloths"
With intricate design.
The line announced a baby's birth
To folks who lived inside
As brand new infant clothes were hung
So carefully with pride.
The ages of the children could
So readily be known
By watching how the sizes changed
You'd know how much they'd grown.
It also told when illness struck,
As extra sheets were hung;
Then nightclothes, and a bathrobe, too,
Haphazardly were strung.
It said, "Gone on vacation now"
When lines hung limp and bare.
It told, "We're back!" when full lines sagged
With not an inch to spare.
New folks in town were scorned upon
If wash was dingy gray,
As neighbors carefully raised their brows,
And looked the other way.
But clotheslines now are of the past
For dryers make work less.
Now what goes on inside a home
Is anybody's guess.
I really miss that way of life.
It was a friendly sign
When neighbors knew each other best
By what hung on the line!
Compiled by Nancy Johnson
Smarter Than You Think: Sara Reistad-Long reported in the New York Times science section, May 20, 2008, on research that found the aging brain is really not declining. It’s absorbing more information than younger ones. The article, “Older Brain Really May Be a Wiser Brain,” quoted studies analyzed in the neurology book, Progress in Brain Research.” Research indicated that the influx of data seems to distract the older person from remembering names, phone numbers, and other new facts. This can be frustrating and give the impression of the older person’s impending senility. However, the mature adult may be absorbing more details and observations that will be helpful when making important future decisions. Younger people tend to focus better by tuning out irrelevant information, thus also excluding knowledge and impressions that could help them make wise decisions. The older brain excels in absorbing a wider spectrum of information, which is then combined with its fund of general knowledge, providing the tools for older individuals to be wiser than their children.
Brain Teaser – Can you name Snow White’s seven dwarfs? 2D+ 2S +3 emotions = Doc, Dopy, Sleepy, Sneezy, Happy, Grumpy, Bashful. (Anything to make the brain work.)
Web Site for Big Dog Lovers - There’s some really cool stuff! http://www.bigtallk9.com/index.html
Kansas Recycling Directory: Whether you’re wondering where you can take your old cell phone for recycling or trying to find a drop off facility near you, check www.kansasrecycles.org. The directory’s map allows you to search by material and location. Recycling service providers can modify and update their own information, which should help to keep the directory current. The directory was developed by the Kansas Organization of Recyclers in conjunction with the Kansas Department of Health and Environment’s Bureau of Waste Management to replace the Business and Industry Recycling Program (BIRP) directory. For additional information about recycling and waste reduction, visit www.kansasgreenteams.org.
Your assistance is needed in an attempt to get the U.S. Postal Service to
insure a Louis Braille Commemorative stamp in 2009. This stamp would be
issued in recognition of the 200th anniversary of the birth of Louis
Braille. The U.S. Postal Service indicated that they would consider the
issuance of a stamp; so, since the stamp would have to be approved and
produced in 2008 for release in 2009, we need to ask them to finalize the
decision and issue a Louis Braille Stamp in honor of the man who brought
literacy to all people who are blind around the world. Please add your voice
to the request by sending your letter to: U.S. Postal Service, Citizen's
Stamp Committee, Stamp Development, 475 L'Enfant Plaza, SW,
room 5670, Washington, DC 20260-2436
Compiled By Nancy Johnson
Southwest Kansas Association for the Visually Impaired (SKAVI) members learned the value of humor from Darlene Howe, a member since 1965, who does a super presentation, “Minnie Pearl”. They heard from the Retired Senior Volunteers Program (RSVP) about volunteer opportunities and services. SKAVI has applied for 501-3© status with the assistance of Ron Schneweis, a Dodge City accountant who did the paperwork without charge. Thank you, Ron, for your generous sharing of your time and expertise! Kansas Seniors Achieving Independent Living (Kan-SAIL) provided an outreach in Dodge City in June.
The Northwest Kansas Association for the Visually Impaired (NKAVI) heard presentations about issues facing seniors, fall prevention, and mail fraud.
The Topeka Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired (TABVI) had a pot luck evening in May and has taken time out for the summer. Several members attended the convention of the American Council of the Blind (ACB).
Please keep your newsletters … or any letters, e-mails, or phone calls … coming! It’s how we know what’s happening and what you’re thinking. It’s a way to share ideas and concerns.
Compiled By Nancy Johnson
I hope I haven’t missed something that’s been sent me. In going through the information I’ve received, there have been no deaths in our KABVI family. If you’ve sent something and I’ve missed it, please accept my apology and resend the item. “No news is good news” and I like good news. Thank you to all who send information to me.
2008 KABVI Membership Application
____ I am enclosing $10.00 for my 2006 KABVI dues.
_____Legally blind _____Visually impaired
I would like the KABVI NEWS and THE BRAILLE FORUM in:
_____Braille _____Large print _____Disk
_____ Cassette _____Regular print ______E-mail
_____I do not want these publications.
I am including a tax deductible donation to KABVI in
the amount of $______.___.
SEND this form and your enclosed check to:
Robert Chaffin, Treasurer
1105 Centennial Blvd.
Hays, Kansas 67601.