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 Summer, 2009 No. 2
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
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
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
Understanding Sighted People, Author Unknown
Quiet Car Legislation Introduced in Kansas, By Michael
Report from the Board of Directors, by Nancy Johnson,
Water-filled Lenses, Submitted By Paul Berscheidt
I Want To Steal An Idea From Texas, By Michael Byington
TV Converter Box Coupon Program, Submitted by Ann
Tantalizing Tidbits, Compiled by Nancy Johnson
Chapter Chatter, Compiled by Nancy Johnson
By Ann Byington, President
In the past two weeks, KABVI members attended meetings of the Kansas State School for the Blind (KSSB) Site Advisory Council and the Talking Books Advisory Council, both of which have good news to share. KSSB has survived it’s tour by the “Facilities Closure and Re-Alignment” Commission established by the Governor. Madeleine Burkindine, and her staff, parents of current students, former and current students, and teachers from around the state gave an informative, and hopefully compelling explanation of the variety of programming and statewide coverage of KSSB activities. The focus was shifted from cost-per-pupil—KSSB is one of the least expensive in the nation—to the availability of out-reach services to parents, infants/toddlers, teachers of the visually impaired throughout the state, either to provide consultation, assessment assistance or in the case of new instructors, mentoring. KSSB provides students from local scool districts immersion in blindness skills—braille, orientation and mobility, daily living skills, assistive technology, and social skills. Teaching occurs in the classroom, community and dormitory, so that students gain proficiency in a shorter amoung of time and can then return to their local schools better prepared to address academic areas of study. Hearings on the need for KSSB, as well as the Kansas Rehabilitation Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired, (KRCBVI) will probably happen in September. KABVI members are encouraged to participate/testify at those hearings. Letters of support may also be directed to: Madeleine Burkindine, Superintendent, Kansas State School for the Blind, 1100 State Avenue, Kansas City, KS 66102.
At the beginning of the KSSB Site Advisory council meeting, members were treated to a presentation by Michael Hingson, 911 Trade Center survivor, who walked out of Tower One with his guide dog, Roselle. Mr. Hingson was providing employee training to the K. U. Medical Center staff. I will not summarize the presentation except to say that he focused on the need to develop high expectations of people who are blind or have limited vision, particularly by training centers, parents and teachers. If you wish to hear his presentation at the 2006 ACNBB National Convention, go to the “Speeches, Reports, and Meetings” link at www.acb.org, then to the 2006 link, and then to “listen to Session 1.” I will be putting his remarks on the KABVI web site and sharing them with our Topeka group in the near future.
Congratulations to the KSSB staff for doing an excellent job of justifying the need for KSSB and for allowing Mr. Hingson to present to parents, consumer group representatives, teachers and students at KSSB.
At the TalkingBooks Advisory Council meeting, members finally got to see the new digital players. They come in a “simple” operating model and an “enhanced” model, with the enhancements being a USB port for attaching a thumb drive or cabled memory card for downloading books from the Braille and Audio Digital (BARD) NLS site. The sound quality of the machine is quite good and each button informs the user of what it does. The cartridges are thinner than cassettes, with the advantage of no moving parts. They will hold 1 GB of information, which will usually contain an entire book.
After each subregional library receives two machines, there will be a last test of 500 machines actually being used by patrons. Kansas should be able to begin distribution of the new digital players in September.
KABVI provided testimony to the Senate “other education” subcommittee regarding Talking Books funding. The subcommittee restored budget cuts which had been made by the Governor’s office. Since the actions of that subcommittee occurred before the most recent $380 million budget shortfall, it is unlikely that Talking Books will remain unscathed.
Kansas Services for the Blind and Visually Impaired, (KSBVI), completed interviews for the Director position with Beulah Carrington acting as the KABVI representative on the inter view committee.
The KABVI Board of Directors was polled at our last meeting and consensus was to support continuation of the KRCBVI facility with major program modifications being suggested to the Facilities Closure and Re-Alignment Commission. I will be working on a position paper to be used as testimony at the public hearings regarding potential closure of KRCBVI. A phone tree and e-mail notification will be made so that interested blind and visually impaired consumers may participate in those hearings as well.
Ron Kaplanis has been appointed to the KABVI Board of Directors to fill the unexpired term of Jonathon Marcotte, who has moved to Sacramento, California, to teach assistive technology at the Society for the Blind.
Kansas has been invited to participate in a Midwestern Leadership Training Conference jointly sponsored by the American Council of the Blind, (ACB), along with Illinois, Nebraska, Colorado and Missouri. Look for more details in the next issue of the KABVI News.
By Nancy Johnson, Editor
Recently I’ve heard the questions, “When should a person learn blindness skills?” and “What can be learned at a school for the blind, and when should someone go to a school like that?” I’m no expert, but I am a product of a school for the blind and have taught individuals to use blindness techniques for almost 30 years. So here’s what I think.
Any time persons … children or adults … are not able to perform tasks adequately with eye sight, learning and integrating low vision and/or blindness techniques can help them fill the gap and become efficient and manage homes and jobs effectively. Because I can’t describe how this works for everyone … we’re all different … here’s how it works for me.
Although I have usable vision (20/1000, can count fingers at about a foot in the right light) and can read and write print very slowly (with my nose by all appearances), by no means could I keep up with the demands of school or a job using vision. Fortunately, I was taught braille from day one. As I developed and showed an interest, I was also taught to use print. Today I use braille, print and technology interchangeably depending on which makes me most efficient in doing the task at hand. From day 1 I was encouraged to integrate the information I receive through all available senses. I use touch, hearing, and residual vision.
I entered the Kansas State School for the Blind at age 5 and spent 12 years there, graduating in 1959. I got good basic elementary and secondary education and went on to graduate from college with sighted peers. I developed blindness and low vision techniques at the School for the Blind and discovered that I could make excellent use of the vision I have.
Additionally, I learned social skills and experienced competition. All of us students were blind. We were expected to do all of our homework, get it in on time, and accept the consequences if we didn’t. We all had accommodations … braille, large print, auditory materials, etc. … according to our learning needs. Books were in the appropriate media and we didn’t have to wait half a semester for them to arrive or rely on readers. Our teachers knew braille and, if we were braille users, we used braille to do our homework.
Granted it’s different today. The children don’t live at school as we did. Most remain with their families and, if they’re lucky, attend the same school as their siblings and play with the kids on their block throughout their school years. It doesn’t work out that way for all blind children though. For a variety of reasons their home environment or local school isn’t able to meet their needs.
A school for the blind is a place where children who have multiple disabilities or need special help can usually learn adaptive techniques more quickly and return to the local school and their families. A student can use braille for doing homework and can learn to manage daily activities using alternative techniques. Today’s school for children who are blind has both residential and outreach elements that help students remain integrated with family and community while teaching them the alternative techniques they need to live as confident, successful, self-sufficient adults. I urge everyone to let legislators know Kansas can’t afford to be without a specialized school to meet the needs of children with blindness.
Don’t know who the legislators are? You can go to the Kansas Legislature’s Home Page and look up your legislators. Go to www.kslegislature.org. You can also track bills, search the full text of legislation, and view House and Senate agendas. You can also call 1-800-432-3924, the Legislative Hotline.
From International MD Support Group Newsletter,
March 12, 2009
People who use their eyes at least 80% of the time to acquire information about the world are called “legally sighted” (sighted). That means they have visual acuity greater than 20/200 in both eyes and an angle of vision wider than 20 degrees.
Sighted people enjoy rich, full lives working, playing, and raising families. They run businesses, hold public offices, get arrested, and teach young children.
How do sighted people get around? They may walk or ride public transportation, but most choose to travel long distances by operating their own motor vehicles, usually one passenger to a car. They have gone through many hours of extensive training to learn the rules of the road to further their independence. Once that road to freedom has been mastered, they earn a legal classification and a driver’s license, which allows them to speed very quickly toward and around one another.
How do you assist sighted persons? Sighted individuals are accustomed to viewing the world in visual terms. This means they may not be able to communicate well orally and may resort to stammering, pointing, hand waving, or other gesturing. Subtle facial expressions may be used to convey feelings in social situations. Calmly alert sighted persons to their surroundings by speaking slowly in a normal tone of voice.
How do sighted people remember things? Often they don’t. In fact, the most painful aspect of visual affliction is the degree to which sight inhibits detailed memory. Often sighted persons must reacquire the same information each time it is needed. You can help by being sensitive to their struggle, by learning to anticipate their needs, and by providing them the information they need when it is necessary.
Don’t tell them too much too quickly. Be sensitive to the capacities of the individual with whom you are dealing. These limitations vary from person to person, and it is deeply upsetting to sighted persons to realize that you recognize their mental short comings.
At times sighted people may need help finding things, especially when operating a motor vehicle. Your advance knowledge of routes, landmarks, bumps in the road, and traffic lights will help them find their way quickly and easily. Your knowledge of building layouts can assist sighted persons to navigate complex shopping malls and office buildings. Sighted people tend to be very proud and are reluctant to ask for help. Be gentle, yet firm.
How can I support legally sighted persons: People who are sighted do not want charity. They want to live, work, and play alongside you on as equal a basis as possible. You must ignore their tendency to display feelings that they are superior to you.
Failure to allow them this delusion may promote aberrant and antisocial behavior. The best thing you can do to support sighted people in your community is simply to open yourself to their world and help open their limited world to the bounty of your experience.
These citizens are vital, contributing members of the community, real people with thoughts, feelings, hopes, dreams, and a story to tell. Take a sighted person to lunch today and make him or her feel that you really care.
By Michael Byington
If you follow information in “The Braille Forum” and other national information sources on blindness and visual impairment, the American Council of the Blind, along with some other organizations, has been successful in getting H.R. 734 introduced in the United States Congress. This bill would require that research be done, and conclusions drawn, as to what sounds quiet cars, such as hybrids and all electric vehicles, should make so that they will not pose safety hazards for blind, visually impaired, and other pedestrians. Currently these vehicles make little or no sound, and this has caused numerous pedestrian-car accidents with many involving blind or visually impaired pedestrians. One of our own members here in Kansas experienced a very close call where she was brushed by a hybrid or electric vehicle.
The task now, at the national level, has been to try and get more and more Congresspersons to co-sponsor H.R. 734. I worked on this task when in Washington at the ACB Legislative Seminar in March, have made numerous follow up calls, and sent follow-up correspondence sense returning to Kansas. So far, however, the Kansas Delegation to the National Congress has been reluctant to sign on to this Legislation. I will keep trying to persuade our elected officials in Washington, and I encourage all of you to do the same.
Meanwhile, some States are attempting an additional strategy to call attention to the quiet car menace. They are introducing similar legislation at State levels that would require quiet cars to make sound when sold in that State. Kansas has been successful in joining this effort. Senate Bill 295 has been introduced.
The Kansas version of the Bill would require a State Commission to be appointed made up of visually impaired citizens, law enforcement officials, engineers, automobile manufacturers (such as the General Motors plant in Kansas City, Kansas), etc. to determine the parameters of sounds that need to be emitted, and then would require standards to be set. We will not get hearings on this Bill this year, but it will remain alive for next year’s session of the Kansas Legislature. At that time, it is anticipated that hearings will be held.
Senate Chair of Transportation, Duane Umbarger, has been most cooperative in helping us get this Legislation introduced. Senator Umbarger has also ordered a fiscal note to be drawn up for the Bill. This is a good sign, as bills that are not likely to be considered usually fail to go through the fiscal note process. Even better, the Kansas Department of Transportation has responded to the fiscal note process by stating that the required commission could be developed without additional budget being assigned to the Department. In other words, the fiscal note costs are considered negligible.
By Nancy Johnso
We are now accepting nominations for one or two outstanding individuals to be recognized state-wide by the Eleanor A. Wilson and Extra Step awards. The winners will be honored at the 2009 annual meeting and convention in October.
The Extra Step Award is presented to a visually impaired individual for unique courage and successful personal rehabilitation. The nominee shall have demonstrated initiative and ingenuity in meeting the unique challenges in life, and shall have contributed to society in an outstanding manner. The nominee shall be a Kansas resident, at least legally blind and shall be selected without regard for affiliation with any organization of or for the blind.
The Eleanor A. Wilson Award is presented to a sighted or visually impaired individual who demonstrates outstanding service to the visually impaired and blind in Kansas. The nominee should, through personal characteristics and activities, promote public acceptance and understanding of visually impaired and blind persons as capable and productive members of the community. The Eleanor A. Wilson Award emphasizes contributions beyond those achieved through the nominee’s regular employment. The nominee shall be a Kansas resident and shall be selected without regard for affiliation with any organization of or for the blind.
Nominees for both the Extra Step and Eleanor A. Wilson awards shall be invited to attend the annual meeting and convention in October. Travel, registration, and one night’s hotel expense may be covered for award winners, if requested and when funds are available. The award ceremonies are an expression of KABVI’s genuine appreciation for what these extraordinary individuals have contributed for the benefit of visually impaired people in Kansas.
No members of the Awards Committee or their immediate families are eligible to receive an award. Members of the KABVI Board of Directors may be nominated. Nomination letters should be sent to awards committee chair Kathy Dawson c/o KABVI, 603 SW Topeka Blvd, Suite 304B, Topeka, KS 66603 by August 1, 2009.
By Nancy Johnson, Recording Secretary
The Board of Directors of the Kansas Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired (KABVI) was held May 2, 2009. Ten directors attended, two of them using Skype.
Two computer monitors as well as some canes and other low-tech equipment were given out. Consensus was that donated computers could be provided without charge to individuals who have the software they need.
Mattingly Low Vision sent equipment valued at about $200 for KABVI to demonstrate with no obligations attached. They are illuminated with LEDs in blue and teal.
Another grant requesting funding for equipment is being written and will be submitted to Envision for the July cycle.
Several mass communications were sent. They included the annual membership letters and communications to the legislature including position papers on services to blind/low vision Kansans and quiet cars.
Michael Byington participated in a youth advocacy training program for young people in Texas. (See article elsewhere in this issue of KABVI NEWS.)
Ann Byington attended the American Council of the Blind (ACB) President’s meeting in February. The meeting was made available to a large audience through Skype, live streaming, and ACB Radio. Audio of convention presentations from ACB radio are available.
The facilities closure commission conducted its walk-through of the Kansas State School for the Blind (KSSB).
KABVI needs to decide to recommend either retention or closure of the Rehabilitation Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired (RCBVI). Consensus was a preference for retention of the Center if it can operate as a comprehensive, cost effective program. Suggestions included making the facility available to individuals who are not Vocational Rehabilitation consumers and older citizens. Privatization or establishing partnerships were also suggested.
Everyone is urged to contact facilities closure commission members with their thoughts about KSSB and KRCBVI.
Hits on KABVI’s web site have dropped from 30 a day to 10 a day because of the situation that caused KABVI to become www.kabvi.com instead of kabvi.org. Methods to improve the situation will be explored and implemented as appropriate.
The new generation Talking Books machines were demonstrated at the Library Advisory Committee meeting. The new equipment is getting closer. There will be two styles, basic and enhanced. The enhanced model will have more features. The cassette tapes and players now used will be dismantled and recycled.
Basic Talking Book funding was left in tact. Funding for equipment for the Rehabilitation Teaching Program was not taken before the legislature. Michael Byington will contact the rehabilitation teachers with information concerning equipment KABVI may be able to provide. Quiet car legislation was introduced and needs cosponsors. A bill was introduced that would require new TVs to have talking menus and local stations to provide audio emergency information.
Three scholarship applications were received. Two awards will be given.
KABVI maintained enough members to continue to be allowed 6 votes at the ACB convention this year. This requires 150 members.
Members are reminded that the KABVI NEWS deadline was moved back a week to allow additional time for contributors to submit articles. Only items included in chapter newsletters and 1 additional small item had been submitted for this issue as this report was being written, and the deadline was almost 2 weeks past. Contributions need to reach the editor by the 22nd of January, April, July, and October.
The 2009 convention will be held at the Clubhouse Inn in Topeka October 16, 17, and 18. Rooms (regularly $73 per night( will be $69 per night plus tax, including a full breakfast buffet. Friday, October 16, will feature an afternoon of exhibits. Youth activity night will follow. KABVI will provide meals for youth ages 25 and younger. Saturday will feature updates from agencies and service providers and the annual business meeting. The banquet Saturday evening will feature a presentation by Ray Campbell. More detailed information will follow. Please watch for your convention packet and registration information and plan to come and enjoy yourself!.
No report was given from the Dinner in the Dark Committee.
The Eyes Wide Open Golf tournament, in conjunction with the Lions Clubs, is planned for the afternoon of Monday, July 20. The committee needs help to obtain volunteers, sponsors, and door prizes. For additional information, contact the KABVI Corporate office.
A youth activities committee was appointed. Nancy Johnson will chair with Julia Fonseca, Phyllis Schmidt, Beulah Carrington, Mark Coates, Terese Goren, and Ann Byingtonn serving. KABVI needs young people who believe in its mission and who will carry on the work of the organization. The committee’s goal is to develop activities and training programs of interest to youth to achieve this outcome.
The next meeting of the KABVI Board of Directors will be August 2, 10:30, at the corporate office.
The Chicago Tribune, February 3, 2009
Submitted by Paul Berscheidt
Oxford, England: Joshua Silver, a lifelong tinkerer, was fiddling around one day with a cheap water-filled lens he’d built as an optics experiment when he noticed something interesting. By adding or removing water he could not only change the power of the lens, he could also use it to very accurately correct his own nearsightedness when he looked through it.
“I was struck by the quality of the vision I could get with a device I could make for pennies and I could adjust myself,” remembers Silver, an Oxford University atomic physicist. “My immediate thought was, if I can correct my own vision so easily, could other people?”
Yes, it turns out. Eyeglasses using Silver’s simple, self-adjusting technology are now poised to revolutionize the way the world’s poor … and quite possibly the rest of us … see, potentially coming to the aid of billions who struggle to squint enough to farm, study, drive, or hold down any job.
“With this technology, you can make your own prescription eyewear,” said Silver, who has so far turned out about 30,000 pair of the cheap glasses. He hopes to find funding to distribute a billion pairs to people around the world too poor to afford glasses or living in places like sub-Saharan Africa, where the ratio of opticians to residents is purportedly 1 to 1 million. Rich-world eyeglass firms also are snooping around Silver’s idea, tantalized by the possibility of manufacturing glasses that could give wearers the ability to change their prescriptions with a twist. Goodbye bifocals! In a world where nearly everybody over 45 needs reading glasses, and just 5% of the world’s poor get the vision correction they need, “the market is close to 3 billion people,” said the 62 year-old inventor, who took up the study of optics to better view atomic structure and still considers himself a rookie at understanding vision.
Silver’s glasses, now in use in 15 African and East European nations, look as if they might pair well with a fake mustache. Thick Coke-bottle lenses sit in dark tortoiseshell frames flanked with a pair of syringes on either temple. By turning dials, the wearer pushes more or less fluid into the lenses, protected between two hard polycarbonate covers, until the prescription is perfect. The syringes can then be removed or left in place to allow continuing changes.
The reaction from new users “is universal,” said Maj. Kevin White, a US Marine Corps logistics expert who persuaded the US Department of Defense to buy and hand out 20,000 pairs of the glasses as humanitarian aid to Angola, Georgia, and other nations. Handed a pair, “people put them on, they look at a chart on the wall, you see them dialing, and suddenly their smirk turns to a smile. They say, ‘Wow! I can see!’ It’s mind-boggling,” White said.”
Silver, who went along on the first field test of the glasses in Ghana, remembers how the first man to try a pair, a tailor forced to retire in his 40s when he could no longer see to work, grinned and immediately started up his sewing machine after being handed a pair. “Tears came to my eyes,” Silver remembered.
BY Michael Byington
In April of this year, I was invited by the Texas Affiliate to the American Council of the Blind (ACB), to travel to that State to help with an advocacy seminar for blind, teen aged youth. The Texas affiliate holds this type of workshop biannually. The event is co-sponsored by the Texas ACB and the Texas Division of Services for the Blind.
Blind and Visually Impaired Texans between the ages of roughly 15 and 18 are invited to participate. To qualify they must submit an essay explaining why they want to attend. This year 22 youth were selected to participate.
The youth hear from adult, blind and low vision advocates about how advocacy is done and why it is important. It is emphasized that blind and visually impaired people themselves have created most of the services we receive. No one does it for us. The youth have to do small group projects where they formulate and make a group presentation on an advocacy issue relevant to people who are blind and visually impaired. They participate in a mock legislative session, visit the Texas Capitol and meet with elected officials, and visit the Texas Historical Museum.
I came away from the event quite honored to have been invited to be a presenter. It is the best tool I have seen anywhere for educating and recruiting younger blind people to continue the battles to insure categorical and relevant services for blind and Visually Impaired Americans.
I would love to steal the idea and bring the whole thing to Kansas. To do so, however, there are some hurtles that we would need to overcome.
Though Texas no longer has a Commission for the Blind, their Division of Services for the Blind is much more comprehensive than are the meager categorical services in blindness offered here in Kansas. Texas categorical blind services includes specialized transition counselors who work specifically with blind and visually impaired youth, a Business Enterprises program that features well over 100 locations, and the Chris Cole Rehabilitation Center, which is allowed to accept blind and visually impaired teens into its training program under certain circumstances. While KABVI might be able to pull off our end of holding an event for youth such as is described here, the Kansas Services for the Blind and Visually Impaired has neither the staff nor the cooperative spirit in working with advocacy organizations to hold up their end of pulling off such an event.
The cost is rather daunting. Dr. Ed Bradley, who is a past President of the Texas affiliate, and who was one of the ACB people in charge of the event, told me that the cost for the event is about $14,000.00, with $7,000.00 contributed by both the Texas ACB affiliate and the State agency. Even if KABVI could raise its portion of such funding, there is little hope that the State would be willing to pony up the other half here in Kansas.
While the challenges seem daunting, I certainly want to commit to starting to work on fund raising so we can eventually do something similar here in Kansas . If our meager State services structure will not allow the Kansas State agency to be a major player, then perhaps we can team up with other private, not for profit service providers.
Reminder: Go to www.kslegislature.org or call 1-800-432-3924, the Legislative Hotline, to look up your legislators, track bills, search the full text of legislation, and view House and Senate agendas.
Submitted by Ann Byington
Commerce's TV Converter Box Coupon Program Now Accepting Requests to Replace Expired Coupons to Assist More Americans with Transition to Digital TV: Program's Waiting List for Coupons Cleared as a Result of Funding Authorized by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. For Immediate Release: March 24, 2009 Contact: Bart Forbes, (202) 482-7002 or email@example.com
WASHINGTON - As the June 12 deadline for the nationwide conversion to digital TV approaches, the TV Converter Box Coupon Program has begun to accept replacement requests from eligible households whose coupons expired without being redeemed. Meanwhile, money allocated to the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act has allowed NTIA to clear the digital converter box coupon waiting list.
"This is very good news for Americans who were unable to redeem their
coupons before they expired," Acting NTIA Administrator Anna Gomez said.
"With the backlog of applications now eliminated, consumers can apply for
coupons and get assistance right away, allowing them to continue to receive
important local television news and emergency information by purchasing a
converter box at a reduced cost." If an eligible household has redeemed one coupon toward the purchase of a TV converter box and the other coupon has expired, then it will be approved for a single replacement coupon. Consumers may apply for replacement coupons in accordance with existing program application rules by visiting www.DTV2009.gov, calling 1-888-DTV-2009
(1-888-388-2009), mailing an application to P.O. Box 2000, Portland, OR 97208 or faxing an application to 1-877-DTV-4ME2 (1-877-388-4632). Deaf or hard of hearing callers may use 1-877-530-2634 (TTY). NTIA also announced that the Coupon Program has eliminated its waiting list and is processing all coupon requests as they come in with a maximum 10-day turnaround time.
On January 4, 2009, the Coupon Program reached its funding ceiling and
placed incoming coupon requests on a waiting list, to be fulfilled as
previously issued coupons expired. The American Recovery and Reinvestment
Act (ARRA) provided NTIA $650 million to issue at least 12.25 million more coupons, to start mailing coupons via first class mail and to ensure vulnerable populations are prepared for the transition from analog-to-digital television transmission. Applications are now being processed on a first come, first served basis while supplies last. "I urge
all consumers who are still unprepared for the transition to act today to get their converter boxes and resolve any technical issues well ahead of the June 12 deadline," Gomez added. "Americans can start experiencing the
benefits of digital television with more programming choices and clearer reception as soon as they hook up their converter box."
Consumers can receive digital television today by purchasing and connecting a TV converter box (with or without a government coupon); buying a digital TV; or subscribing to cable, satellite or another pay service. Consumers who currently have coupons in hand should use them immediately. The coupons may not be used as a rebate and must be presented to the retailer at the time of purchase. The DTV Delay Act established June 12, 2009, as the final date by which all full-power television stations in the country will be required to shut down analog broadcasts. However, some stations and entire markets may choose to switch before then. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has announced that, of the nation's nearly 1,800 full-power television stations, a total of 641 stations (36%) terminated their analog signals as of February 17, 2009. More information on the digital television transition is available by calling 1-888-CALL-FCC (1-888-225-5322) or by going on-line to the Web site www.DTV.gov.
About the TV Converter Box Coupon Program: The Digital Television Transition and Public Safety Act of 2005 Act originally required full-power television stations to cease analog broadcasts and switch to digital by February 17, 2009. The Act authorized NTIA to create the TV Converter Box Coupon Program, which was funded initially by airwaves auction proceeds. The Act originally funded the Program at $1.5 billion, which included a limit of $1.34 billion for ordered and redeemed coupons, with the remaining $160 million covering administrative costs. Funds are obligated as coupons are issued. If coupons are not used and expire, those funds are returned to the Program to fill requests. On January 4, 2009, the Coupon Program reached its initial $1.34 billion obligation limit for active and redeemed coupons and established a waiting list of coupon requests. On February 17, 2009, President Obama signed into law the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA), which provides funding to implement DTV Delay Act's extension of the Coupon Program. Specifically, the ARRA authorizes $650 million for additional coupons and related activities. The transition to digital broadcast television will free up the airwaves for better communications among emergency first responders and for new telecommunications services and offers consumers a clearer picture and more programming choices. The TV Converter Box Coupon Program permits all households to request up to two coupons - each worth $40 - toward the purchase of certified converter boxes. Coupons may be requested while supplies last, and only one coupon can be used for each coupon-eligible converter box. Consumers can purchase a converter box at one of the more than 32,000 participating local, phone or online retailer locations.
Consumers will receive a list of eligible converter boxes and participating
retailers with their coupons and may search for a local retailer on-line at
https://www.dtv2009.gov/VendorSearch.aspx. Consumers should call stores
before shopping to ensure the desired converter box is available. Converter
boxes generally cost between $40 and $80 without a coupon, and coupons
expire 90 days from the date they are mailed. When consumers receive their coupons in the mail, they should buy a converter box as soon as possible, and try the box with their television to address any potential technical
issues. Some viewers watch programs over translators or other low-power stations, which may continue broadcasting analog signals after the digital television transition deadline. Those viewers may wish to select a converter box that will pass through analog signals.
Households may apply for coupons online at www.DTV2009.gov, by phone at 1-888-DTV-2009 (1888-388-2009), via fax at 1-877-DTV-4ME2 (1-877-388-4632)
or by mail to P.O. Box 2000, Portland, OR 97208-2000. Deaf or hard of hearing callers may dial 1-877-530-2634 (English TTY) or 1-866495-1161 (Spanish TTY). Nursing home residents may apply with the paper application
available downloadable at www.DTV2009.gov. For more information about the Coupon Program, please visit www.DTV2009.gov and for questions about the DTV
transition, go to www.dtv.gov or call 1-888CALL-FCC.
bout the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA): The National Telecommunications and Information Administration is an agency in the U.S. Department of Commerce that serves as the executive branch agency principally responsible for advising the President on telecommunications and information policies. For more information about the NTIA, visit www.ntia.doc.gov.
About the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009: The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (Recovery Act) was signed into law by President Obama on February 17, 2009. It is an unprecedented effort to jumpstart our economy, create or save millions of jobs, and put a down payment on addressing long-neglected challenges so our country can thrive in the 21st century. The Act is an extraordinary response to promote economic recovery and growth, and includes measures to modernize our nation's infrastructure, enhance energy independence, expand educational opportunities, preserve and improve affordable health care, provide tax relief, and protect those in greatest need. For more information about the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, visit Recovery.gov.
Compiled by Nancy Johnson
Don’t know what to do with old VHS tapes? To keep VHS tapes out of landfills, drop them in the mail to Alternative Community Training, a nonprofit Missouri company that provides jobs to people with disabilities. Workers erase the tapes, resell the ones that are in good shape, and recycle the plastic parts of the rest. They have recycled over 1 million tapes to date. Mail the tapes (at the cheaper USPS media mail rate) to ACT, 2200 Burlington, Columbia, MO 65202.
Don’t Like Your “Gun?” Older individuals with diabetes who may find it difficult to deal with a standard lancet device may appreciate Safe-T-Pro lancets. They are a pre-loaded device requiring the user to remove a cap and press a button. To our knowledge, these are not paid for by insurance. If you have problems loading your current device, you might want to ask your pharmacist about these.
Northwest Kansas Association for the Visually Impaired members learned about the latest low vision research, activities of their local arts council, some services of their public library, and necessary legal documents. NKAVI is offering a $500 scholarship to a student enrolled in a post-secondary program in the fall of 2009. Contact Pat Hall, (785) 428-6055, for an application. NKAVI is also preparing for the annual All American Breakfast in May, which is their major fund raiser.
Central Kansas Association for the Visually Impaired was educated about eyeglasses with lenses filled with water, allowing wearers to adjust them to their own changing needs. Look for it among “Tantalizing Tidbits” elsewhere in this newsletter.
Southwest Kansas Association for the Visually Impaired heard a recording of Tom Sullivan’s presentation to the International Macular Degeneration Support Group (IMDSG) shared with them by Tara Reesling of the Western Kansas Low Vision Foundation. They had a Valentine’s Day party, reviewed the parts of the eye and their function (another IMDSG presentation), and discussed the question, “When is it time to learn blindness skills?” in conjunction with NKAVI.
The Topeka Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired continues to enjoy social activities such as bingo and to keep abreast of activities of the American Council of the Blind, the legislature, and Kansas Services for the Blind and Visually Impaired.
Summer will be here before we know it. Some chapters break through the summer. Thanks to all of you who faithfully send your newsletters. We enjoy hearing about what you do. If you break for the summer, please don’t forget us when you resume in the fall. If your group hasn’t sent information about your activities, we’d love to know what you’re doing. Contact information is at the front of KABVI NEWS.
Compiled By Nancy Johnson
Betty Kacena, 90, died March 17, 2009. She was a long-time member and vice president of the Southwest Kansas Association of the Visually Impaired. Betty was active in SKAVI’s public relations and educational efforts.
Editor’s Note: We want to remember those who have been active in KABVI and its chapters over time. We need to hear from you so we can share the information with everyone. Chapter newsletters are the primary source of obituaries. However, anyone is welcome to send information about the passing of a KABVI member or dedicated volunteer. We don’t want to leave anyone unrecognized. I’d rather have two or three contacts about an individual than none at all. Contact information is at the beginning of the Newsletter.
____ 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.