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 52 Spring, 2009 No. 1
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.com
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
SEND ADDRESS CHANGES TO:
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 22, April 22, July 22, and October 22 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
What’s happening? By Ann Byington, President
Notions, by Nancy Johnson, Editor
Kansas School for the Blind Could Close, By Michael
2008 KABVI Resolutions Compiled by Nancy Johnson,
Kansas Secretary of State Studies Voting Again By Michael Byington
2009 College Scholarships for Students with Parents with Disabilities
Report from the Board of Directors, by Nancy Johnson,
The Woes of City to City Public Transit, By Michael
Tantalizing Tidbits, Compiled by Nancy Johnson
Chapter Chatter, Compiled by Nancy Johnson
2009 KABVI Committees
2009 KABVI Board of Directors
2009 KABVI Membership Application
By Ann Byington, President
I’m going to depart from my usual topics for this column and reflect on four angels KABVI has acquired in the last few months.
I first met Georgia Layton when we were both clients at the Kansas Rehabilitation Center in June, 1966, a few days after the F5 tornado had destroyed a good bit of Topeka. We were roommates for that summer session. We later became co-workers at KRCB (Kansas Rehabilitation Center for the Blind). Georgia was outspoken concerning what a blind person could accomplish and how he/she should do so. She was a terrific mentor for me as well as a dear friend. We fought, laughed, cried and deeply respected each other during the 12 years we worked together. It is impossible to sum up what Georgia gave to her family, her friends, her students and her colleagues.
Bonnie Bonsall and I met as student and teacher. Bonnie was a quiet, unassuming—some would say simple—woman with great tenacity and steadfastness. She learned braille and faithfully read the KABVI News, attended many state conventions, helped serve refreshments at the Topeka group activities and was someone I could count on. We will remember her perseverance during her life and last illness, as well as her sweetness and willingness to do her best for others.
Gail Griffin was a testament to enduring some tremendously difficult health problems with courage and humor. Gail worked as a craft instructor with KRCB clients after completing her stint as a client. We had many delicious meals in her small apartment and laughed over our adventures. Gail’s life symbolized the benefits of never giving up and of making the struggle bearable for herself and others.
Lucille Miller characterized living through tremendous adversity. I seem to remember someone telling me that Lucille’s second husband died the day one of her children was born. Lucille had a great, somewhat mischievous sense of humor, was a hard worker and will be missed by both her KABVI family and her many children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
So, I ask myself: How do I keep the memories and values of my friends and coworkers alive in these desperate times of national economic fears, personal struggles with mortality, and the cold days of this Kansas winter? I believe I and all of KABVI do so by continuing to answer the call of this organization to work to make Kansas the best place in the world in which blind and visually impaired persons can live. Michael and I will be going to Washington, DC in February; I to the President’s Seminar and Michael to the Legislative Seminar offered by the American Council for the Blind. We will return home energized and ready to hit the ground running. Come join us!
By Nancy Johnson, Editor
This, in my opinion, is the most important issue of KABVI NEWS for the year because it gives you; our members and friends, an outline of the most recently passed resolutions that guide what the organization does and tells you who’s doing what. I urge you to read this issue carefully and to let someone know what you’re thinking. Are we on track with our mission? Are we not on track with our mission? Why, or why not? This is your organization. We understand that not everyone can attend an annual meeting. But I believe almost everyone can either send an email, write a letter, or make a phone call to let us know what you’re thinking. We need to hear from you.
Please note that our web address has changed. It’s now www.kabvi.com. I don’t know the “Why”.
At the end of the newsletter are listed committee members and your board of directors. If you’d like to contact any of us, please do so through the corporate office using the information you see at the top of the newsletter. We prefer not to put personal information on the web site.
My email address has changed. There’s a funny (I think) story behind the new address - email@example.com. I hope it’ll help you remember it when you have information to share.
When my kids were young, we liked to ride our bikes around Wichita. On this particular day, my son was riding ahead of me on his single bike, my daughter and husband were behind me on the tandem bike, and I was on my over-size trike. We were riding in an area of hard-packed dirt where a new road was under construction. The lead rider was supposed to warn me of obstacles and tell me the safest way around them.
I heard, "Mom! Watch out for the mud puddle!" just as my front wheel hit a pile of dirt. Suddenly I was flying... over the mud puddle ... and coming down on the other side. While I was airborne I heard, "And there goes SUPER MOM!"
I lost a sandal in the mud and came up laughing and unscathed. My son said he didn't see me headed for the mud puddle quickly enough to warn me sooner and, when he did look back to tell me it was there, it was too late. It looked really funny to see Mom flying through the air ... he couldn't help himself. We were all glad I landed safely. We never did find the sandal, but we had a good laugh. (Yes, I did ride home with one bare foot.)
Elsewhere in this issue of KABVI NEWS are lists of your Board of Directors and committee members. If you see a committee on which you’d be willing to serve or have comments or information you’d like to share, please let us know. Because we prefer not to make personal information available on the web, we ask that you contact us using the information shown at the beginning of the newsletter.
Kansas School for the Blind Could Close
By Michael Byington
This is written in the later half of January. I do not have a lot of information about this situation yet, but I think it is an important enough issue that I should submit the limited amount of information I have obtained.
In the face of difficult economic times, Governor Sebelius has named an Institutional Closure Study Commission. The Kansas School for the Blind is at the top of the list.
This does not mean that the school will close. It does most definitely mean that it COULD close, and that such closure is under consideration.
The Closure Commission is charged with studying institutional closures in Kansas over 2009. They are to submit recommendations to the Governor as of December 2009.
Undoubtedly, the closure commission will hold public hearings on issues relating to various institutional closures. If you are concerned about closure of the Kansas State School for the Blind, or other State facilities that may be on the chopping block, you should attend public hearings held around the State. KABVI will of course be submitting testimony opposing closure, but we hope our individual members and former students of the school will do so also.
2008 KABVI Resolutions
Compiled by Nancy Johnson, Recording Secretary
In the interest of saving space, the resolutions are summarized below. If you would like an unabridged copy, please contact me by email, large print, Braille, or telephone using contact information at the front of the newsletter. I can provide print or electronic copies.
Resolution 1 - Rehabilitation Teachers for the Blind (RTs) have, for over 50 years been the primary first contact for newly blinded and visually impaired Kansans in terms of access to information, independent living training, learning blindness and low vision skills and in terms of rehabilitation services available. The United States Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA) has recently ruled that RTs who are funded under federal 110 monies may only serve clients who have a Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) objective, and consequently an open case with Rehabilitation Services. This has prevented many blind and low vision Kansans from receiving essential home training and first contact services essential in rebuilding their lives after experiencing blindness or visual impairment. RTs in Kansas are now not provided funding for even limited, low tech devices needed by clients, such as white canes, hand held low vision aids, writing guides, lock dots, etc. because there is no eligible funding source for such devices. Many other States recognize the importance of rehabilitation teaching services for the blind and visually impaired, and have therefore provided non-matched State funding for such positions so that they can serve all of those who need their services, and so that they may have a source of funding for low tech equipment for their clients. RTs in Kansas were, for many years, funded out of Title XX funds or other social service block grant funds, and were thus not restricted by RSA rules. The most recent two RT positions to be vacated in Kansas have not been filled, thus leaving both the Kansas City/Lawrence area and the southwest portion of the State with diminished or no rehabilitation services for blind Kansans in those areas. There are other areas of the State, including the Hutchinson and Emporia areas, which also, under newly developed SRS organizational configurations, have diminished or no rehabilitation teaching services for blind Kansans.
KABVI directs its Legislative Committee to work with the Kansas Legislature to seek funding for RTs so that these individuals may again engage in their traditional role as first contact and home instructor for any blind or visually impaired Kansans who may need their services, and may provide lower tech adaptive equipment to such clients. Don Jordan, Secretary of the Kansas Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services (SRS) is urged to transfer the RT positions from the control of SRS Area Offices to the control and supervision of the Kansas Services for the Blind and Visually Impaired (KSBVI) so that State-wide coverage may once again be achieved. Mr. Jordan is also urged to fill at least the two RT positions that have been vacant for an extended period of time, those being located in the Kansas City/Lawrence area, and also in Southwest Kansas.
Resolution 2 - Under its previous administrator, the Kansas Rehabilitation Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired (KRCBVI) narrowed its offerings to include only structured discovery learning training under blindfold, de-emphasized, and largely discontinued low vision training, discontinued services to Kansas Seniors Achieving Independent Living (Kan-SAIL) clients; discontinued GED preparation training and test arrangements, discontinued allowing clients to utilize the Internet or practice Internet skills with speech or low vision aids while in the facility’s dormitory, and placed extreme limitations on the use of KRCBVi facilities by blind and visually impaired community based groups. KABVI has objected strongly to all of the above program changes, curriculum changes, and rules changes. The Administrator who implemented these objectionable program changes, curriculum changes, and rules retired rather suddenly around the beginning of 2008. Dennis Ford as subsequently served as interim administrator for the KRCBVI. Mr. Ford has restored elements of low vision training as well as blindness skills training to the KRCBVI curriculum, balanced and expanded types of training offered so that both blindness skills and low vision skills are effectively taught, restored the use of the Internet to dormitory clients to at least some extent, and has opened KRCBVI facilities to the use of more community groups.
KABVI commends Mr. Ford for making a lot of positive progress at the KRCBVI in a relatively short amount of time. The work started by Mr. Ford is not completed yet, but needs to continue along many of the philosophical and programmatic directions that he has established. KABVI calls upon the leadership of SRS to fill the Administrator position for KSBVI with an individual who will move forward with philosophical and programmatic concepts similar to those established by Mr. Ford. The KABVI reminds the current SRS leadership that KABVI has been represented on the interview committee when the Administrator of KSBVI position has been filled in the past, and we expect to be asked to participate on such interview committee as the new Administrator is selected. .
Resolution 3 - Michael Donnelly, Director, Kansas Rehabilitation Services (KRS), has issued as policy to all KRS employees, a document titled “Professional Conduct Expectations”. That document defines “Business partners” as the officers, employees or volunteers of any contractors, grantees, vendors, service providers or other entities from whom RS purchases or secures services. It also defines “Client” as any person currently receiving services or assistance, or whose case was closed less than five years ago. It further defines “Employees” as full-time or part-time employees, employees in the classified or unclassified service, volunteers, interns, consultants and any other individuals in similar capacities. Employees may be paid or unpaid. The document then defines as “Inappropriate Relationships between RS Staff and current RS clients or RS clients whose cases were closed less than five years ago,” a number of activities including, but not limited to:
*“No employee may begin a new dual relationship (both personal and professional) with a current RS client or an RS client whose case was closed less than five years ago when such a relationship could impair professional judgment, increase the risk of harm to RS clients, result in preferential treatment to RS clients, or contribute to the perception of harm or preference. Such dual relationships include, but are not limited to: family, household, social, financial, romantic, sexual, business, or close personal relationships.
*Employees who have any existing, previous or family or household relationships with any RS clients must disclose them to their supervisor. In some cases the supervisor will make arrangements for alternate options for service provision.
*No employee shall contact or correspond with any RS client, a family or household member of an RS client, or visit an RS client unless assigned duties require it or permission has been granted by the appointing authority.
*If an employee, while off duty, is contacted by an RS client, the employee shall report this fact to the supervisor as soon as possible or no later than the beginning of the employee’s next scheduled shift.”
Members of the Kansas Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired (KABVI) who serve on SRS Advisory Committees, or who work with clients as mentors, would be considered to be SRS employees under the provisions of the Professional Conduct Expectations document. Members of KABVI, who are employed with SRS and/or with KRS, are placed in difficult positions because of the friendships that may develop through KABVI membership and the social activities of the Organization and its cooperating chapter organizations throughout the State. Blindness and low vision are low incidence disabilities, where peer support and friendships can be essential. A number of professional experts and consumer advocates have written of the relationships that develop among blind consumers as “a blind culture.” Deaf and hard of hearing consumers tend to develop similar categorical support groups which are often referred to as a part of “deaf culture. The Professional Conduct Expectation document, as written, thus causes deaf, hearing impaired, blind, or visually impaired covered employees, contractors, vendors, and volunteers, as well as certain experts in these fields, to have to restrict or give up their cultural identities in order to insure maintaining their employment. Such requirements are culturally insensitive and potentially discriminatory. Under previous administrations, there were reasonable restrictions upon relationships between SRS staff, volunteers, contractors, vendors, and clients, such as a six months waiting period after direct services were offered before a friendship or personal relationship could begin between a client and an employee, or other covered individual; no friendships, family relationships, sexual relationships, or preferential treatment between persons who have open SRS or rehabilitation n services cases and those directly serving them. KABVI supports such reasonable requirements for professional behavior. An extremely large percentage of blind and visually impaired Kansans have open cases with some aspect of SRS because of such programs as Medicaid, Working Healthy, Food Stamps, Low Income Energy Assistance, etc., in addition to Rehabilitation Services. The Professional Conduct Expectations Document, as written, not only places employees, contractors, vendors, and volunteers under draconian restrictions and potential for investigation, but also may well discourage potential clients from having cases opened because of the loss of potential friendships and peer supports which could occur.
KABVI calls upon KRS Director, Michael Donnelly, and all of those in the chain of command above Mr. Donnelly’s level to withdraw the Professional Conduct Expectations document as written, and to replace it with more reasonable and practical policies which protect clients while being less intrusive into the lives of employees, contractors, vendors, volunteers, and clients, and while eliminating the five year after case closure waiting period. KABVI directs its officers and staff to make contact with the deaf and hard of hearing communities to inform them of the Professional Conduct Expectations Document. The Organization calls upon the Kansas Rehabilitation Council to advocate for the implementation of this resolution. KABVI authorizes its officers and staff to contact and work with any other disability rights, employee rights, or consumer protection advocacy organization in opposing the Professional Conduct Expectations Document.
Resolution 4 - Until June of 2007, KSBVI had a very active and dedicated advisory committee. This committee never experienced problems getting quorums at meetings, forming active and working sub-committees, or coming to majority consensus on important and relevant issues relating to the fields of blindness and visual impairment. On most positions the committee took, the vote favoring each position was eight to one, with private organizations, organizations representing people who are blind or who have low vision, special educators, representatives of the Kansas State School for the Blind, optometric professionals, the Veteran’s Administration, older blind, and clients at large all in agreement. Despite the dedication and cohesive work of this Committee, Kansas Rehabilitation Services Director, Michael Donnelly suspended, and ultimately disbanded, the committee in June of 2007, apparently largely because the Committee had objected to teaching methods and policies within KSBVI, thus angering and frustrating Mr. Donnelly. By contrast, the Kansas Rehabilitation Council has often had difficulty achieving a quorum, and having sufficient numbers of involved members to form sub-committees or discharge its work. In February of 2008, Mr. Donnelly finally appointed a new KSBVI Advisory Committee. KABVI agreed to participate as a part of this new Committee in an attempt to cooperate with Mr. Donnelly and KRS despite the fact that KABVI objected strongly to the suspension and disbanding of the previous Committee. The Wichita Association of the Visually Handicapped, and Organization with which KABVI has long been associated, objected to this decision because that Organization expressed the view that the new Committee would not be nearly as effective as the old one was. Although procedures for applying to be members of the new Committee were widely circulated, there were irregularities and deviations in appointing members in accordance with the application process, including, but not limited to: People were appointed who had not applied to be members of the Committee; some people who applied received letters thanking them for their applications, but declining their offers to serve, while other applicants never heard anything about appointment status whatsoever; representation from major groups which had been represented on the previous Committee was ignored (this included the Veterans Administration and the low vision optometric profession). The new Committee is structured, and receives staff support, much more consistent with that provided to the Kansas Rehabilitation Council, and has thus encountered, despite good intensions, many of the same problems in moving forward. KABVI calls upon Mr. Donnelly to reinstate the original KSBVI Advisory Committee, and to support its efforts consistent with that Committee’s direction. KABVI will continue to participate in the newly re-constituted committee, but does so while continuing to protest the sabotage perpetrated upon the previous Committee, which was giving focused and relevant input, and functioning admirably.
Resolution 5 - Envision, a large not-for-profit service provider located in Wichita, has for several years, expressed the desire to operate the Kansas Seniors Achieving Independent Living (Kan-SAIL) program now operated directly by KSBVI. KABVI has opposed transfer of the Kan-SAIL program to Envision, because KABVI has not felt that Envision made sufficient assurances as to how the program would be operated to serve older blind and visually impaired Kansans Statewide, while KABVI did perceive that KSBVI was offering a statewide structure for the program’s operation. However, KABVI has expressed deep concerns about the lack of emphasis that KSBVI has placed on efficient and effective operation of the Kan-SAIL program, and has expressed the view that its support for Kan-SAIL as a State operated entity might be withdrawn if greater emphasis was not placed on effective operation of the program.
Examples of problems KABVI has identified with the current operation of Kan-SAIL include: Leaving essential positions providing services to older blind Kansans vacant and unfilled for extended periods of time, including the Kan-SAIL Program Administrator, and (even though the program is roughly 90% federally funded) discontinuing senior’s week programming offered through KRCBVI; reducing numbers of outreaches done through Kan-SAIL; and, inadequate Statewide coverage largely because of vacant and unfilled staff positions.
KABVI will no longer oppose Envision’s efforts to assume operation of the Kan-SAIL Program.
KABVI will support Envision’s efforts to take over operation of Kan-SAIL provided that Envision provides adequate detail and assurances as to how the program will be operated on a Statewide basis, and concerning what specific services will be provided through the Kan-SAIL monies.
Resolution 6 - The 2008 Kansas Legislature cut over $75,000.00 in outreach funding from the Kansas Talking Books Program for the Blind and Visually Impaired by failing to continue an existing program that used these moneys to insure that Kansans who can benefit from Talking Books for the Blind and Visually Impaired have the opportunity to learn about the program, apply for its services, and learn to use library services for the blind or physically handicapped effectively. This budget cutting action of the Kansas Legislature was made easier for them to do by the fact that the Governor, in her proposed budget, defined this existing program as a “new enhancement,” even though services and funds had been provided in the previous budget year. The Kansas Talking Books Program desperately needs this outreach capability as vision loss, particularly among older, readers, is increasing at an alarming rate. Officials of the Kansas State Library have informed representatives of KABVI that the Governor has asked the Kansas State Library, as the parent organization to the Kansas Talking Books Program, to make more across the board cuts which would include additional cuts in the Kansas Talking Books program. Further cuts in the Kansas Talking Books Program would likely end the operation of the sub-regional libraries for the Blind in Kansas, thus diminishing service to blind and visually impaired library patrons throughout the State, while a new, less adequate delivery system is developed. Kansas State Library officials have informed representatives of KABVI that they will make every effort to spare Kansas Talking Books programming from additional cuts which would place the sub-regional talking books library system at risk, but that they are unsure that such cuts can be avoided
KABVI commends the Kansas State Library for its support of the Kansas Talking Books Program. KABVI urges Governor Sebelius to place full funding for the Kansas Talking Books program, including restoration of outreach funding, in her budget to be transmitted to the 2009 Kansas Legislature. KABVI directs its Officers and Legislative Committee to make all efforts possible in communicating the importance of library services for the blind, visually impaired, and physically handicapped to the Kansas Legislature.
Resolution 7 - The Kansas Rehabilitation Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired (KRCBVI) has recently undergone some administrative changes which have caused much needed improvement in the scope and quality of services it is able to provide to blind and visually impaired Kansans. The RSA 110 monies funding source, which currently provides a major share of the funding for the facility, limits which blind and visually impaired clients may attend the facility by requiring that such clients have employment goals, and thus leaving persons who are elderly blind, or in need of independent living services which specialize in areas of skills of low vision and/or blindness, with diminished services or no services at all.
KABVI urges the Administrator of KSBVI, and its administering agency, KRS, to seek diversified funding for the KRCBVI, including,, but not limited to: Medicare funding (currently demonstration funding), Social Service Block Grant funds, and funding from large businesses who must provide accessible training for blind and visually impaired employees in order to provide parity with training provided to sighted employees, particularly in areas of computer and data process functions.
Resolution 8 - Madeleine Burkendine, Superintendent, Kansas State School for the Blind (KSSB) has recently established the Advisory/Site Council which includes representation from KABVI. KSSB’s improvement plan focuses on reading, writing, and math, independent living skills (orientation & mobility, daily living skills, social skills, and vocational skills. KSSB continues to improve quality performance measuring and collecting data in gender and racial diversity; percentage of students attending KSSB for three years or less; percentage of students with secondary disabilities; math achievement; reading achievement; functional math skills; and Braille reading and writing. Students served last year included: out-reach program, 265-270, Kansas Instructional Resource Center (KIRC), 850 students; extended school-year program of VIEWS and Discovery Trail, 122 students. KIRC and Dr. Anne Nielsen, KSSB Statewide VI Support Project Coordinator, work together to bring in nationally known educators in the field of blindness to facilitate in-service training for teachers of the visually impaired (TVIs) and parents. Dr. Nielsen also works with the Kansas Infant-Toddler program (birth – 3 yrs). KSSB collaborates with other organizations (i.e., University of Nebraska) in the training of new TVIs by assisting with tuition and supplementing the TVI training program with Quality Programs for Students with Visual Impairments (QPVI) courses. KSSB is in the process of working with the states of Michigan and Arizona to obtain a grant to train new Orientation & Mobility Specialists, targeting those who will work in rural and western Kansas.
KABVI commends Superintendent Burkendine for her continued success in strengthening and growing educational opportunities for blind and visually impaired Kansas children. KABVI will continue to offer support through input on the Advisory Site Council, through testimony at the Kansas legislature and in whatever additional means Ms. Burkendine requests.
Resolution 9 - H.R. 5734 is pending before the United States House of Representatives. This bill would require research as to ways to make quiet cars, such as hybrids traveling in their electric phases, and plug-in electric vehicles, make effective sounds so that blind, visually impaired, and other pedestrians are not endangered because these types of vehicles are virtually silent when moving in traffic and in their idle phases. This legislation then calls for implementation of research findings. Though well crafted, this Legislation seems to be on a very slow track, and is not moving through Congress. Pedestrian safety hazards, especially for blind and visually impaired pedestrians, caused by quiet cars, need to be addressed promptly as more and more of these cars are coming into use, and as pedestrians continue to report endangerment. A member of KABVI was recently brushed by a quiet car while walking in traffic, and could have been seriously injured. California, and some other States, has introduced State legislation requiring that quiet cars be equipped with sound making devices so that pedestrians will be able to hear them.
KABVI directs its Legislative Committee to research State legislation that has been introduced in other States to address the problems caused for pedestrians by quiet cars. KABVI directs its Legislative Committee to then seek introduction of legislation in the Kansas Legislature requiring that quiet cars be equipped with sound making devices
Kansas Secretary of State Studies Voting Again
By Michael Byington
After the 2000 election controversies, the Federal Congress adopted the Help America Vote Act (HAVA). KABVI has helped Kansas Secretary of State Ron Thornburgh implement this Act for our State. That implementation has gone pretty well, and now, anyone who chooses to vote at their local polling place in Kansas can vote on a machine which allows for voting privately, independently, and verifiably. In other words, if you are blind or low vision, the voting machine will talk to you through headphones, and allow you to vote without your having to let any other human being know how you are voting. The machine will verify with you that you have voted as you intended.
Although this process seems to be working well in Kansas, it is not working as well in some other States. Congress is thus considering Legislation which would require that all voting machines, though they would still be required to be accessible to people with disabilities, would have to print paper ballots. Then if there is a request for a recount, or other election abnormality, the allegation is that paper ballots would be easier, and more accurate to count.
Congress is also considering Legislation that would require an all-mail-in ballot. Everyone would vote at home, and then mail their ballot in. The polling place as we know it would no longer exist.
Secretary Thornburgh has thus named a panel to study the future of voting in Kansas. All of the differing federal proposals will be studied, and combinations of proposals will be studied as well. In this way, the Secretary hopes to be better prepared for whatever comes down from Washington, and to perhaps use the input of the study group to influence what Washington decides.
Michael Byington, KABVI’s C.E.O. has been named to this study committee. The Committee’s first meeting took place January 23, 2009. It is expected to meet two to three times more over the next few months. Serving with Byington on this group are: approximately ten county election officials from around the State, representatives from four political parties in Kansas, several representatives from School Boards and municipalities, and two other disability rights advocates in addition to Byington.
Secretary Thornburgh has stated that the Committee may not want to change anything, but he wants to know that the elections are working in Kansas in a fair and accessible manner. He wants it to be convenient for Kansans to vote. Also, if the feds force more changes upon us, he wants to be ready for them.
2009 College Scholarships for Students with
Parents with Disabilities
From National Council on Disability List
All application materials must be completed and postmarked by Monday March 16, 2009.
Through the Looking Glass and its National Center for Parents with Disabilities and their Families are pleased to announce new scholarships specifically for high school seniors and college students who have parents with disabilities. These scholarships are part of Through the Looking Glass’ new federal grant (New National Center for Parents with Disabilities and their Families). Please note that these are new awards and have different application procedures than in the past. There are two separate scholarship awards, and each has separate eligibility requirements:
1. High School Seniors. To be eligible, a student must be a high school graduate (or graduating senior) by summer 2009, planning to attend college in fall 2009 and have at least one parent with a disability. Five separate $1000 awards will be given out in fall 2009. Individuals may submit only one application per award period.
2. College Students. To be eligible, a student must be currently enrolled in a college or university, be 21 years of age or younger as of March 16, 2009, and have at least one parent with a disability. Five separate $1000 awards will be given out in fall 2009. Individuals may submit only one application per award period.
Selection criteria for all scholarships include academic performance, community activities and service, letters of recommendation and an essay describing the experience of growing up with a parent with a disability.
These Scholarships are also part of a research study on young adult children of parents with disabilities. As explained in the Consent Form in the Application, you may be willing to participate in an optional survey about young adult children of parents with disabilities. The additional information you submit on this survey will not affect your scholarship chances and will not be disclosed to anyone outside the project researchers; all identifying information will be removed. If you consent to participate in this optional survey, we will email you the survey after we have received your completed application.
All questions should be directed to: Scholarships Coordinator, Through the Looking Glass, The National Center for Parents with Disabilities and their Families; 2198 Sixth Street, Suite 100 Berkeley, CA 94710. (800) 644-2666 (voice) (800) 804-1616 (TDD/TTY)
FAX: (510) 848-4445. Website: http://www.lookingglass.org/
Report from the Board of Directors
By Nancy Johnson, Recording Secretary
Meetings of the Board of Directors of the Kansas Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired (KABVI) were convened November 9, 2008, at the Plaza Inn Motel, Topeka, Kansas, after the annual membership meeting and on January 24, 2009, at the KABVI corporate office. Eleven directors and 7 guests attended the November meeting and 11 directors were present in January.
Actions of the membership at the annual meeting were ratified by the Board of Directors. Directors chosen by the membership were approved. An updated list of Directors can be found at the end in this issue of KABVI NEWS.
Resolutions passed in convention were adopted. They are summarized elsewhere in this issue of KABVI NEWS.
Several committees were appointed. A complete committee list can also be found at the end of this newsletter.
Placement of personal information on the KABVI web site was discussed. Consensus was that personal information should not be provided. Individuals who wish to contact KABVI should do so through the corporate office using the information that appears at the beginning of each issue of KABVI NEWS.
Considering the state of the economy, legislative efforts were made primarily to keep what we now have and suggestions made that might make this possible.
KABVI suggested that Newsline be cut because most of what it provides is available from Audio-Reader in Lawrence or Telephone Reader in Wichita. The funding from Newsline could then help with Talking Books outreach.
Assistive Technology for Kansans, which received no funds last year, was allocated $180,000. KABVI supported this funding, which represents a loss of $75.000.
The governor has created a commission to study closure of state institutions that bears watching. The Kansas State School for the Blind (KSSB) could be in jeopardy.
Recurrent repairs were required for the office copier. It was replaced with a newer machine.
Membership renewal letters were sent in mid-January to allow time to compile the annual report for the American Council of the Blind (ACB) before their March 15 deadline. Members are reminded to respond to these letters promptly.
Handling of issues facing the rehabilitation teaching (RT) program were discussed. The plan suggested by Kansas Rehabilitation Services (KRS) is that the assistive technology (AT) sites should provide equipment to RT consumers. In order for a teacher to provide equipment, an additional referral would be required, slowing the process of service provision. Denis Ford, acting director of Kansas Services for the Blind (KSBVI), indicated willingness to meet and discuss the situation. Consensus was to wait until this meeting has been convened before further action is taken and, if need be, and then take the situation before the legislature. A $500 amount will be made available to add to the recycled items already on hand to assist the RT program with supplies for consumers.
The insurance concern discussed at a previous meeting relates to home owners insurance, which can go up and cause landlords to be unwilling to rent to persons who are blind.
Consensus was that the concern with this issue needs additional research. The concern will be taken before the legislature if the research indicates that action is needed.
The need for specific representation of the blind on the State Rehabilitation Council was discussed. Application for membership on the council is required. A representative to provide input for the best interest of all blind and visually impaired Kansans is needed. Mikel McCary offered to apply for membership on the council.
In the hope of making it easier to get board reports into the newsletter on time, the deadline was moved back a week each quarter. Deadlines are now January 22, April 22, July 22, and November 22.
Ann Byington has been given primary responsibility for activities of the KSBVI Advisory committee, which seems to be struggling. A new manager has been hired for the Rehabilitation Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired (RCBVI) dormitory. Dane O’Hara was a dorm master for two dorms at the Perkins School for the Blind and worked with the Independent Living Center in Lawrence before coming to Topeka. The KSBVI administrator position is still on hold. It appears a person with primarily administrative skills is being sought without regard for that person’s knowledge of blindness.
Concerns were brought to the convention planning committee regarding the suitability of the Plaza Inn where the annual meeting was held in 2008. Inquiries have been sent to Pozez Education Center and the Topeka Public Library. Consensus was that all activities should be held in one place. The convention planning committee was given latitude to choose a suitable location. Using Envision’s facilities is being considered for 2010.
Plans need to begin immediately for the 2009 Eyes Wide Open golf tournament in partnership with Lions Clubs of Topeka. Time is needed to do an adequate job of publicity.
A “Dining in the Dark” fund raiser will be investigated. A restaurant partner is needed and pricing will need to be determined. Planning of this event also needs to begin immediately to allow time for publicity.
The need for activities to be planned well in advance to allow time for publicity was emphasized. If plans are not organized well in advance of an event, details cannot be disseminated in time for people to arrange to participate.
Ann Byington requested that board members … and any other members … submit to her by e-mail suggestions for using Skype to communicate with members across the state. Send suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
Ann Byington will attend the President’s Meeting of the American Council of the Blind and Michael will attend the legislative seminar during the same time in February.
The Board of Directors will meet next on Saturday, May 2, 2009, 10:00 a.m. at the corporate office.
The Woes of City to City Public Transit
By Michael Byington
I am a seasoned traveler. From 1988 through 2003, I had jobs for which I traveled extensively, spending over 100 nights per year in hotels. The majority of this travel was done using public transportation as my visual impairment restricts me to driving only at city speeds and in familiar areas. Over the past five years, I have probably gotten a little out of practice at use of city to city public transportation, as I have traveled much less frequently, but I still make several trips per year.
Using Greyhound buses was always one of my least favorite ways to travel, but I am amazed at how much more frustrating and arduous it is getting today than it was 20 years ago. For example, n 1988, there were five buses that ran each way each day between Topeka and Wichita. Now there are two that go from Topeka to Wichita, and only one and a half that come back from Wichita to Topeka. I say “one half” because; one of the official Wichita to Topeka routes gets from Wichita to Topeka by way of Kansas City. Needless to say, it is a rather long and round-about route.
Another depreciation of Greyhound services that makes it more difficult for the blind or visually impaired traveler is the depreciation of bus stations. More and more bus stations, which used to be located in downtown areas of cities, are being closed, with buses using a local gas station/convenience store for their station purposes. Topeka is the latest casualty where a nice station has been closed by Greyhound, and a gas station, is being used instead. I am going to tell about my recent experience with this new bus station.
I recently had to go from Topeka to Wichita on business, and I had heard a rumor that the bus station might be closing in Topeka. I thus tried to call the listed number for the bus station, the only number that directory assistance or the Greyhound (800) information line had listed, and no one answered. This has not been unusual over the past several months because the local bus station has been manned only on a part time basis. I thus called the (800) Greyhound information line, and I checked both their automated system and with a live agent at that number. Both assured me that the bus station was still at the same location it has been in for the past 20 years or so, and that there were no plans to move it. I thus arrived at the bus station, as is suggested, nearly an hour before my scheduled departure time. The station was locked with a closed sign in front of it. I do not know if there was a smaller print sign telling where it had moved to because someone in a car drove by and told the three of us who were waiting there that the buses had been moved to the BP station four blocks away. At least they selected another downtown location for Topeka’s limited Greyhound buses. I drove to the BP station, but then there was another conundrum. As a visually impaired person who drives only in familiar areas, the former bus station personnel had always allowed me to leave my car in their rather large parking lot while out of town on business. There were no such parking accommodations at the new location. The owner of the BP station, convenience store and new bus station was very nice and very apologetic, but he said he just did not have any place for me to leave my car. He said he could only suggest that I try some of the downtown parking garages in the area. The first two I went to were full, but I found one a couple of blocks away that had space, and would let me leave my car there until the next day for $7.00. I went round and round the ramps up to the very top where there were a couple of parking places left, locked my car, and (this time I ran because I was running out of time) the four blocks back to the new station. When I got there, I realized that I had left my overcoat in the car, and a winter storm was due to hit Wichita later in the evening.
“Jump in my truck,” the owner of the new station told me, “and I will help you get your coat and still get on the bus.” We made the run, and just made it back to the bus departure with perhaps 30 seconds to spare. I asked this nice man if he regretted getting into business with Greyhound. He said he was beginning to, but he was going to try and make the best of it.
The bus driver was also very pleasant. When I mentioned my frustration to him about Greyhound giving me the wrong information regarding the station location, he said, “Sometimes I think that bunch in Dallas that runs Greyhound is looking for ways to drive the company bankrupt.” The driver suggested that I call the customer service department and complain.
I got my cell phone out, and the driver gave me the number. “I do not understand what you are complaining about,” the customer service representative told me, “You admit you made it onto your bus, and so what’s the problem?” I explained that I wanted to insure that the information that their automated and live agents give out from the (800) line about the station location is correct. “Well I do not know why you called me,” the representative said, “I do not supervise the people at the (800) line. I have nothing to do with that part of the operation.”
“In that case,” I requested, please connect me with the unit that does have responsibility for the (800) reservations and information line.” I was not speaking with an angry voice, but the representative nonetheless sounded a bit frustrated. “All right,” she said, “I’ll transfer you to someone.”
Indeed, she did. The next thing I heard was a recording telling me that there were no jobs open for bus drivers, so I need not apply.
I am not writing this article just to blow off steam. I will send a copy of it to Greyhound Management, but I do have another reason for sharing. In the economic times we are now facing, I believe that public transit for those who do not drive will get worse instead of better, particularly as it relates to over the road buses. If indeed we are going to have more stimulus packages pass the Congress, and in some form, it appears that we will, part of the enhancement in infrastructure that we need in America is to have a nationalized transportation system.
I know that Amtrak has been horribly run by the government, and costs taxpayers a lot of money each year, but nonetheless, I believe that over the road bus transportation needs to be nationalized as a part of Amtrak. We may not know how to do this very well in America, but we can learn. Japan and parts of Europe have some excellent, nationalized public transportation systems.
Even with the austere budget year we expect in the Kansas Legislature, there is at this writing, a lot of discussion about funding parts of the T-LINK Kansas Transportation initiative. It is thought that doing so will also provide improved infrastructure and create jobs in Kansas. We as an Organization, and as individuals, thus need to be diligent in contacting our State legislators as well as those we have sent to the United States Congress and Senate, reminding them that transportation infrastructure does not just mean road improvements and fixing bridges. It also means transitioning to a viable, comprehensive, nationalized public transit system in America.
Compiled by Nancy Johnson
Imdsg TeleSupport Group: The International Macular Degeneration Support Group is launching a new program for individuals who do not have internet access and are not able to attend the monthly internet meeting. The program is specifically for those who cannot participate in a live meeting. There is no cost to the individual. If you fall into this group, you can become involved by calling 1-816-761-7080. This short long distance call will be your only expense for the program. A “real human being” will ask for your basic information. Once you have signed up, telephone sessions will be at no expense from anywhere in the world. After you sign up, you will receive a packet of information including TeleSupport’s toll free number. More detailed information is available at www.imdsg.org/telesupport.html. If you have no internet access and wish to request additional information, contact Nancy Johnson, 714 SW Wayne Avenue, Topeka, KS 66606. Or you can leave phone messages requesting TeleSupport Group information at 785-291-3528 or 785 234 8449 and it can be mailed to you.
Free Directory Assistance – 1-800-goog-411 (1-800-466-4411) connects you directly with the business number you request. It doesn’t provide residential information, and it doesn’t give you the number. It connects you with the business unless you request details Then you can get the number. It’s FREE to anyone anywhere.
Lieutenant Governor launches website to help Kansans save money: Lieutenant Governor Mark Parkinson launched “Mark’s Guide for Penny Pinchers,” a website helping Kansans identify ways to do more with less.
“Just as the State of Kansas is finding ways to cut back, we understand that people across the state are doing the same,” Parkinson said. “This guide is just one way we can provide resources to Kansans that can help them stretch every dollar they spend – from home efficiency to education.”
“Mark’s Guide for Penny Pinchers” is available through the Lt. Governor’s website and can be found at http://www.governor.ks.gov/LtGov/pennypinch.htm. At the site, Kansans will find a variety of money-saving suggestions. The site is divided into five categories: gas prices; travel; home; health; and college and schools.
Donate Your Eyes - Heartland Lions Eye Banks serves Kansas, Missouri, and Illinois. Vision loss can occur when the cornea (the clear membrane on the front of the eye) becomes cloudy, diseased, or injured. Hundreds of thousands of people around the world suffer from corneal blindness. Through the medical miracle of corneal transplantation, sight can often be restored. Because there is no substitute for the human cornea, every corneal transplant requires the priceless gift of a donated cornea. People of all ages can benefit from corneal transplantation. Ninety percent of corneal transplants are successful.
Almost anyone can be an eye donor, regardless of poor vision or history of illness. Eyes that are determined to be unsuitable for corneal transplantation can be used for valuable eye research. The sclera (white part of the eye) can be used for eardrum repair as well as in other surgeries. By donating your eyes after death, you can contribute in a positive and generous way to restore or improve sight for as many as four people. Sight restoration makes a tremendous difference in the quality of life of the recipient. It is preferred that donations occur within 6 hours of death, but tissue may be used for transplantation if the donation occurs outside the 6 hour window.
The decision to donate is confidential. There is no cost to a donor’s family or estate. It is important that you discuss your wishes with your family. Even when there is a signed donor card, consent of the family is necessary. Under normal circumstances, eye donation should not change the appearance of the donor or interfere with funeral arrangements.
If you would like more information or are interested in being a donor, call the Midwest Transplant Network at
Compiled By Nancy Johnson,
Wichita Association for the Visually Handicapped (WAVH): The October meeting took a comprehensive look at one of the most important areas a blind or visually impaired individual faces. Susan Robinson representing CPRF, a non-profit organization providing transportation; Forrest Nagley from Wichita Transit, with information about paratransit services; and, Valerhy Powers from Sedgwick County, presented overviews of their programs and explained how each fits into the big transportation picture. Forrest Nagley, Special Services Manager, Wichita Transit can be reached at 3524828. Susan Robinson, from the Cerebral Palsy Research Center (CPRF) can be reached at 6521548 or 6881888. Valerhy Powers from Sedgwick County Department on Aging can be reached at 660-7298.
Southwest Kansas Association for the Visually Impaired (SKAVI) heard firsthand from a member who had eye surgery to improve the circulation in her eye. They heard an update on low vision aids.
The Northwest Kansas Association for the Visually Impaired (NKAVI) had a speaker from Kansas Legal Services, learned about opportunities for seniors, and heard about eye donation. (See “Donate Your Eyes” elsewhere in this issue of KABVI NEWS.
Compiled by Nancy Johnson
Bonnie Alice Bonsall, 58, Topeka, died November 6, 2008. Bonnie was born November 8, 1949, in Fairborn, OH, to James and Mildred Bonsall. Bonnie had traveled to France, New Mexico, Goose Bay Labrador, Wyoming, Florida, and settled in Kansas. She was an active member of TABVI, volunteered at Lets Help, and taught Sunday school. Survivors include her parents, James and Mildred Bonsall, a brother James (Laurie) Bonsall, a sister Babbette (Joseph) Gomez, and eight nieces and nephews. The family suggests memorial contributions be made to Midland Hospice House, 220 SW Frazier Circle, Topeka, KS 66606. Messages can be left for the family online at www.PenwellGable.com.
Gail A. Griffin 63, Topeka, died November 9th, 2008 after her battle with cancer. She was preceded in death by her husband Harold M. Griffin of 38 years, And 2 sisters. Gail is survived by 3 brothers: Dale Miller, Walter Miller, and Wayne Miller of Topeka; 3sisters Ruth Lenz of CA and Marylin Reece and Lynn Rodriguez of Topeka. She had 24 grandchildren, 20 great grandchildren, and too many nieces and nephews to count. Gail was blessed with 6 children Shelly Jannelle, Patricia Klingman and Roy Coon all of Topeka, Bradley Coon of LA, Cindy Olberg of ID and Chad Russell of MO. Please send any donations to PO Box 5975 Topeka, KS 66605.
Georgia Layton, 85, died Saturday, December 6, 2008 at Brandon Woods Retirement Community. She was born June 18, 1923 in Williamsburg, KS, the daughter of Ira and Elsie (Quillan) Collins. Georgia was a graduate of the Kansas School for the Blind (KSSB) and received her B.A. in Education at KU. She worked at the Rehabilitation Center for the Blind in Topeka until spring 2002. She was a member of ACB, NABT, KSSB Alumni Assoc., TAVI, and KABVI. She received the Eleanor A. Wilson Award given for outstanding service to the blind in 1995 and was the Chair of the Esther V. Taylor Scholarship Committee. She married Jess W. Layton in Pomona, KS. He preceded her in death in February 1987. Survivors include two daughters, Crystal Lucas and Kathy Burchett both of Lawrence, three grandchildren, Jeff, Scott and Lisa, and five great grandchildren, and her guide dog Freddie. She was preceded in death by 6 brothers and one sister. Memorials may be made in her name to Lawrence Humane Society or Heart of America Hospice and sent in care of the Mortuary.
Lucille E. Miller, 96, of Topeka passed away Monday, December 22, 2008 at Midland Hospice House. She was born January 22, 1912 in Ola, Arkansas the daughter of John S. And Ella D. (Johnson) Blagg. Lucille moved from Ft. Scott to Topeka in 1939. Mrs. Miller was a seamstress for the Kansas Industries for the Blind for 22 years before she retired. Lucille was a member of the United Methodist Church. She married Walter Long on October 21, 1939. They divorced. She later married George A Miller on July 19, 1951 in Topeka. He proceeded in death in July of 1952. Survivors include two sons, David W. Long and his wife Connie of Berryton and Michael J. Long and his wife Annabelle of Osage City and one daughter Georgia Dianne Miller and her husband Daniel of Tucson, AZ. Seven grandchildren and eleven great- grandchildren also survive. Contributions may be made to Midland Hospice Care, Inc. and sent in care of the Brennan-Mathena Funeral Home, 800 SW 6th Ave, Topeka 66603.
KABVI Committees 2009
Awards Chair, Kathy Dawson. Members: Joyce Lewis, Nancy Chaffin, Paul Berscheidt, Darlene Howe, Terese Goren
Convention Planning: Michael Byington, Mark Coates, Nancy Johnson, Beulah Carrington
Education Chair, Ann Byington: Members: Phyllis Schmidt, Marilyn Lind, Katie Kincy
Finance Chair, Robert Chaffin. Members: Marilyn Lind, Michael Byington
Legislative Chair, Mark Coates. Members: Michael Byington, Beulah Carrington, Terese Goren, Ron Kaplanis, Marilyn Lind, Katie Kincy
Membership Chair, Mikel McCary. Members: Kathy Dawson, Beulah Carrington, Nancy Johnson
Public Relations Chair, Nancy Johnson. Members: Bill Moore, Paul Berscheidt, Ann Byington
Technology Chair, Mikel McCary. Members: Paul Berscheidt, Michael Byington, Terese Goren, Marilyn Lin, Ron Kaplanis, Bob Chaffin
Scholarship Chair, Robert Chaffin. Members: Phyllis Schmidt, Ann Byington, Katy Kincy
“Eyes Wide Open” Golf Tournament Chair, Mark Coates. Members: Michael Byington, Ann Byington, Marilyn Lind, Paul Berscheidt
“Dinner in the Dark” Chair, Mikel McCary: Members: Ron Kaplanis, Michael Byington
Resolutions Chair, Michael Byington. Members: Mark Coates, Mikel McCary
Mikel McCary has agreed to apply for admission to the State Rehabilitation Council.
2009 KABVI Board of Directors
Because the following information will also appear on the KABVI web site, member addresses, phone numbers or private email addresses are not included. All correspondence, email or phone contact should be made with our corporate office.
603 SW Topeka Blvd. Suite 304 B,
Topeka, Kansas 66603
Telephone: 785-235-8990 or,
In Kansas only,
Web site: www.kabvi.com
Note: Shown after the Directors' names is the year their current terms expire.
1. Michael Byington, CEO and Corresponding
2. Robert (Bob) Chaffin, Treasurer, 2009
3. Mark Coates, Vice President, 2009
Mikel McCary, Membership Secretary, 2009
5. Nancy Johnson, Recording Secretary and KABVI
NEWS Editor, 2011
6. Beulah Carrington, 2011
7. Ann Byington, President and KABVI NEWS
Associate Editor, 2011
8. Katherine (Kathy) Dawson, 2011
9. Ron Kaplanis, 2012
10. Bill Moore 2012
11. Paul Berscheidt 2012
12. Terese Goren, 2012
2009 KABVI Membership Application
____ I am enclosing $10.00 for my 2009 KABVI dues.
_____Legally blind _____Visually impaired
I would like the KABVI NEWS and THE BRAILLE FORUM in:
_____Braille _____Large print _____
_____ 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.