Published quarterly by
Kansas Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired
An Affiliate of the American Council of the Blind
Vol. 65 Spring 2018
KABVI strives to increase the independence, opportunity, and quality of life for all blind and visually impaired Kansans and to assist us in taking our rightful place among our sighted peers.
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Topeka, KS 66603-3080
KANSAS ASSOCIATION for the BLIND
and VISUALLY IMPAIRED
Corporate Office, 712 S. Kansas Ave. Suite 410
Topeka, KS 66603-3080
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Editor Associate Editor
Michael Byington Ann Byington
Phone: (785) 233-3839
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Membership Secretary, KABVI, 712 S. Kansas Ave. Suite 410, Topeka, KS 66603-3080
KABVI NEWS promotes the general welfare of blind and visually impaired persons in Kansas. KABVI NEWS reflects the philosophy, and policies of the Association, reports the activities of its members, and includes pertinent articles pertaining to blindness and low vision.
Send your news, views, articles, and features. Materials in Braille, on disk (Microsoft Word), or typewritten (double-spaced, large print) are considered. When quoting from other published materials, please include dates and sources. Unsigned material is not accepted for publication. Send a stamped, self-addressed envelope, and original materials will be returned. Editorial staff reserves the right to edit submitted materials.
Articles for publication must reach the editor by January 22, April 22, July 22, and October 22!
Annual meeting notices and membership renewal letters are sent to all persons on KABVI’s mailing list. If notices are returned as undeliverable, those names are removed from the mailing list and their subscriptions to KABVI NEWS discontinued. Membership is open to everyone interested but is not required for receipt of KABVI NEWS. A membership renewal form on which to indicate your current information and format preference is included at the end of each issue of KABVI NEWS. Thank you for helping us keep KABVI’s records current.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Would You Like To Be A Leader, by Ann Byington, page 5
The Editor Ponders, by Michael Byington, page 6
Disappearing Dog: A Cautionary Tale, by Ann Byington, as told by Marilyn Lind, page 8
Excerpts From GUDI Press Release, by Penny Reader, page 11
Report from the Board of Directors, by Nancy Johnson, page 15
ADA Complaint Filed Against Kansas Drivers’ License Office, by Michael Byington, page 17
No Chapter Chatter, by Ann Byington, page 24
In Memoriam, compiled by Michael Byington, page 25
Membership Application Form, page 26
WOULD YOU LIKE TO BE A LEADER?
By Ann Byington, President
Perhaps the question should be: Are you already a leader?
There are plenty of opportunities in KABVI to become one. As you know, in December, 2017, we tried a different format for our Annual Meeting. We had 20 participants on our conference call. Tim Hornik, of the Blinded Veterans’ Association informed us about a variety of information-gaining services via smart phones and, in some cases, glasses with video cameras. We also met Michael Lang, newly appointed Director of the State Library Talking Books program. Two lucky people won $25 door prizes.
I have gotten fairly positive feedback from those in attendance and expenses were fairly minimal; we sent out print mailings to the 390 people on our current master-list.
My immediate concern is that, if you have not done so, all of you reading this should renew your memberships. You got a print application with the December mailing and one is at the end of this newsletter. We want you to join again because KABVI continues to work for you and our votes in ACB are based on the number of members we have.
More importantly, we need your help with the newsletter, our children’s Braille book library and transcription project, continued work with parents and teachers of the visually impaired throughout the state, and creation of videos featuring job activities of retired and current members.
If you have an unmet need regarding your lack of vision, a great fund-raising idea, article topics we should be covering, questions about how to do things as a new person engaged in dealing with vision loss—contact me or Michael at the numbers on our masthead. We want KABVI to survive and grow so that our 100th anniversary in 2020 reflects great possibilities for blind and visually-impaired Kansans.
THE EDITOR PONDERS
By Michael Byington
Hi! I am the new editor of the “KABVI News.”
I want to begin by thanking Nancy Johnson, our former editor, for all of her years of excellent work. Nancy is still working for us as our Recording Secretary. You will still see bylines from her in this publication. She just needed a rest from the editing chores.
I will tell you a little about myself, and why I agreed to take this job on. Many readers already know me, so you long timers can skip over the parts you already know, but we have gotten a few new members who may not know my history with KABVI.
I am married to your KABVI President, Ann Byington, and she has agreed to help me some with the “KABVI News.” That does not mean, however, that she can reel me in and make me behave as editor. We have been married for nearly 39 years, and we have found we can not make each other behave.
I grew up in KABVI. My parents were members from a time before I was born, and I started attending KABVI meetings with them about as soon as I could walk. KABVI is affiliated with the National Organization, The American Council of the Blind (ACB) and my parents were also charter members of that group, which was founded in 1961.
I am a low vision guy and I would describe my vision as being at the top end of legal blindness. I believe that, if one has low vision, learning low vision related skills is important. I also believe, however, that blindness skills can function very well in helping a person be productive and independent. Sometimes, even if one has some residual vision, the blindness skills actually work better.
I have worked in the rehabilitation field for most of my life, and much of this work was with people who are blind or visually impaired. In 2010, I went back to Graduate school to earn a credential in orientation and mobility, and I continue to be a Certified Orientation and Mobility Specialist (COMS).
I worked for Envision, a Wichita based private provider of services and employment for people who are blind and visually impaired until mid-2017 when I retired, or more accurately semi-retired. I now am in private practice as a COMS, and work currently with blind and low vision students in four school systems or cooperatives.
I want to hear how you are liking the “News,” and if you want to write things for it, I will try to edit and publish them. You can e-mail me at KABVI’s main address of KABVI@ATT.net
DISAPPEARING DOG: A CAUTIONARY TALE
By Ann Byington, as told by Marilyn Lind
Last November, Marilyn Lind, accompanied by yellow Labrador guide, Payson, boarded a plane to San Francisco via L.A.X. She had planned for several months to meet other guide dog user friends in San Rafael, CA, to attend the 75th reunion of Guide Dogs for the Blind. All went well until the plane landed in L.A. Marilyn and Payson were to change planes to go back to San Francisco. Marilyn fell to the floor in severe pain and weakness. EMT folks were called and Marilyn and Payson were transported via ambulance to a hospital which Marilyn described as “in the hood.” There were security guards with whom she had to contend.
Upon her arrival at the hospital, and before she could even be admitted, a security guard informed her that Payson would not be allowed to stay with her, according to hospital policy because “he might upset the other patients.” Those of us who know Marilyn can imagine her reaction! She repeatedly explained that ADA regulations allowed service dogs to stay with hospital patients. During the discussion, she was required to sign a document which she thought had to do with her insurance coverage, but which in fact, gave the security person permission to take Peyson. Of course, the document she was forced to sign was not read to her.
Marilyn later learned that after a 2-hour wait, hospital security would then turn her guide dog over to Animal Control, who, though they had policy regarding treatment of service animals,, had no requirement to contact the school where Payson was trained.
The “hood” hospital determined that Marilyn wasn’t really sick and would not admit her. Payson was returned but Marilyn received no other assistance. Thankfully, she is a resourceful person and used her iPad and Facebook to get help. She took an Uber car back to the airport and was hoping to go back to Kansas City, but became seriously ill again. When the same EMT’s came to get her the second time, they were going to leave her at a hotel. Her Facebook efforts had alerted the EMT supervisor to the situation, however, and she directed the ambulance workers to take Marilyn and Payson to the Marina Del Rey hospital.
Upon arrival there, Marilyn was allowed to keep Payson with her and no questions about her need for a service dog nor his training were raised. People from the L.A. puppy-raisers clubs came to the hospital with much-needed dog food, treats and moral support for Marilyn. And, she got a call from the Guide Dog reunion on her birthday.
When Marilyn got back to Kansas, she was referred to Charley Crawford, an advocate at Guide Dog Users, Inc. who got her in touch with Mitch Pomerantz, former ADA coordinator for LA. County. Charley and Mitch are helping Marilyn make appropriate contacts with the hospital which clearly violated the ADA and denied Marilyn’s right to information in an accessible format.
As you will note from other articles, guide/service dog access to airlines is being threatened both at the state and national level. It required tremendous courage and stamina for Marilyn to deal with this advocacy effort while enduring severe pain and weakness for which she had no immediate explanation. She is doing much better now and, with her permission, we will keep you informed regarding the advocacy issues.
EXERPTS FROM GUDI PRESS RELEASE
DELTA AIRLINES NEW POLICIES TROUBLE GUIDE DOG USERS
By Penny Reader
Guide Dog Users, Inc. Finds Delta Airlines New Policy Regarding Service and Emotional Support Animals Particularly Burdensome for Guide Dog Users and Unlikely to Solve Problems Associated with Out-of-Control and Misbehaving animals on Planes
On Friday, January 19, Delta Airlines released revised policies concerning service and emotional support animals who fly with their companions inside the cabins of Delta planes. These new requirements are scheduled to go into effect on March 1. Delta claims that the new policies will assure safety for all of their passengers and on-board crew members. Guide Dog Users, Inc. (GDUI) disagrees.
First, our members, who depend on our guide dogs for safe, independent travel, certainly agree with Delta’s goals of assuring safety for all passengers. Like every other airline passenger, we care about safety, for ourselves and for our guide dogs as well. We too, have encountered an increasing prevalence of misbehaving and uncontrolled animals (often fraudulently identified as emotional support animals or comfort animals by their owners in airports and on planes. These experiences have frequently been unpleasant, and sometimes have even compromised our safety and that of our guide dogs.
Delta’s new requirements, however, would represent significant burdens for us as people who are blind who have been permitted for decades to travel on public conveyances and in public venues with our guide dogs without onerous paperwork requirements. A requirement that we supply current vaccination records, online, 48 hours in advance of the first flight we take in any given year, and that we certify the airline s possession of these records upon check-in for every flight is especially burdensome, as we will no longer be able to take advantage of curb-side or kiosk check-in. We may need to be separated from traveling companions, and the whole check-in process is likely to require longer lines and more time than would be the case for people traveling without guide dogs.
In addition, the new requirements represent logistical problems which we wonder how Delta would address, e.g., when during the course of long-distance travel we are unexpectedly transferred to a Delta plane for which we had no reservations and for which we have not submitted the required documentation, or if we are traveling on a Sunday or holiday when our vets cannot be reached, or in the all-too-likely circumstance that the airline cannot locate or access the forms we had already submitted.
We are skeptical that requiring submission of vaccination records, and in the case of emotional support animals some kind of certification that the animals have been trained to behave well in public will actually reduce the incidence of ill-behaved and uncontrolled animals onboard planes. In our experience, the unfortunate consequences of traveling with uncontrolled animals have resulted, not because of disease or lack of vaccinations, but rather because misbehaving animals have not been trained for exposure to noisy airports or crowded planes, and their owners have not been able to bring them under control. Further, we are skeptical that a veterinarian’s certification that an animal who is not trained to provide service to a person with a disability has had sufficient training to behave well in public would be a valid certification. Will it not be just as easy for a person who wants to bring his or her untrained pet along on a trip to procure the same kind of fraudulent certification of training as he or she may have already obtained online or from some disreputable source to verify a presumed disability? In short, we question how these invasive paperwork requirements will actually address the safety concerns that we share with the airline, or resolve the problems that occur onboard because of misbehaving, uncontrolled animals. Yet, we are sure because of our own experiences as people who are blind that the new paperwork requirements may well be extraordinarily inconvenient for us, since some of us may encounter significant difficulties with online submission of paperwork which may not be accessible to our assistive technologies; since it will take us longer to get through the check-in process; and we will have to give up the convenience of curbside or kiosk check-in and the comfort of managing the whole check-in process in the company of travel companions.
The Air Carrier Access Act of 1986 (ACAA), which is the legislation that guarantees our right as guide and service animal users to fly in the company of our well trained and well cared for dogs, prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability. Imposing these regulations, which we believe have little likelihood of resolving the problems of misbehaving, uncontrolled animals on planes, represents discrimination against us.
We have shared our concerns with the Aviation Consumer Protection Division at the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) which implements the ACAA. We look forward to sharing our concerns and offering advice and commentary on new ACAA regulations which the DOT will propose later this year in a notice of Proposed Rule Making (NPRM). The DOT has indicated that they will begin accepting comments on proposed regulations as soon as July. We believe that our collective experience as guide dog handlers and frequent flyers equips us with the kind of practical knowledge that will allow us to participate constructively in discussions that will lead to solutions, and we look forward to our involvement.
Consumer complaints can be filed at https://airconsumer.dot.gov/escomplaint/ConsumerForm.cfm.
Guide Dog Users Inc., (GDUI), is the leading membership-driven organization of guide dog handlers in the world. Members rely on guide dogs for independence and safety. GDUI is an affiliate of the American Council of the Blind (ACB).
REPORT FROM THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS
By Nancy Johnson, Recording Secretary
January 20 2018 President Ann Byington convened a meeting of the Board of Directors of the Kansas Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired at the corporate office. All directors were present.
The minutes, treasurer’s report, and proposed 2018 budget were accepted unanimously.
Twenty persons participated in the conference call/annual meeting. A reminder needs to be sent nearer to the meeting date and time if this is done again.
Ann wants to schedule day trips to Wichita, Garden City, Hays, Great Bend, and maybe Lawrence. The possibility of group meetings to coincide with the conference call was discussed.
Carolyn reported 34 memberships renewals since October 1.
Michael agreed to take over the newsletter after Nancy’s resignation. He wants to see other bylines in addition to his.
Ann plans for KABVI to participate in the Topeka Gives event this year.
Although book production has not begun, Ann would like to extend it to provide children’s books to the California fire areas and perhaps to A foreign country. Labeling and mailing materials will be needed. Kathy suggested using materials that will allow people to return books by mail.
Fund raising continues to be a major concern. No cars were donated in 2017. Many organizations now advertise that they accept donated cars. Suggested fundraisers were a golf ball frenzy and trivia nights. Bob estimated the Dillons Community Rewards program brought in about $120 for the year.
Ann questioned how many phone numbers in KABVI’s records are current. She would like to call everyone on the mailing list to ask if they would like to renew membership and what KABVI can do for them.
Some recent activities of KABVI include ongoing development of the library, white cane safety day, and veterans day at the capital.
Carolyn indicated ACB needs date of birth and visual status for their records and demographics. Since we use their database for our records, we need to collect that information.
Ann asked Paul and Bob to find people who can do videography.
The next meeting will be held at the corporate office April 21 at 10:30.
ADA COMPLAINT FILED AGAINST
KANSAS DRIVERS’ LICENSE OFFICE
By Michael Byington
A complaint under the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) was filed by a Wichita, Kansas citizen who has low vision, against the Wichita office of Kansas Driver Control. This is a Division of the Kansas Department of Revenue. Filing was in November 2017.
The complainant has kindly shared a copy of the complaint with KABVI. It seems worth sharing with our readers along with some additional information and analysis. The complainant’s name and other identifying information has been redacted per confidentiality provisions.
“My name is (REDACTED) Driver’s License (REDACTED).. I have had 10 eye surgeries. My eyes are light sensitive so I wear yellow tinted lenses in my glasses, and I have a low vision disability. My husband drove me to the Twin Lakes Shopping Center at 21st and Amidon, Wichita, KS, today, November 2, 2017, so that I could update my driver’s license to Veteran Status and also TSA required Federal Id. I have several complaints. My first complaint is that when it came time to take my picture for my driver’s license, I was asked to take off my glasses and look into the camera. The camera was situated in a position that I had to look into bright fluorescent lights, and I was not able to keep my eyes open looking into the bright lights. Looking around the room, all the cameras were positioned the same way with bright fluorescent lighting situated above the cameras. I have notified the Federal ADA, and I will be filing a complaint for discrimination. The second complaint is that my first complaint was our second trip to the driver’s license office on 21st and Amidon in Wichita, KS, on November 2, 2017. My husband checked the website before we left to see what all we would need to update my license to Veteran status, update both our licenses to TSA required Federal Id’s, and get him a new driver’s license since his expires with his upcoming birthday. Evidently, the information is scattered rather than being in one area. That is very frustrating for any person especially ones with low vision. If the people at the desks when we first entered had been doing their jobs, they would have caught that we did not have everything we needed the first visit… They didn’t catch it our second visit, either. In fact, they didn’t even ask nor look to see if we brought the proper information with us. Since I was unable to get my picture taken with my eyes open at 21st & Amidon Driver’s License Office in Wichita, KS, because of their blindingly bright lights which reflected off their low ceilings, we were advised by the policeman who had been watching the entire escapade to call the Derby, KS, Driver’s License Office. This policeman was asked by the manager to escort us out of the 21st & Amidon Driver’s Office in Wichita, KS, but he politely told me to finish my call to the Driver’s License Office in Topeka, KS, whom I was calling to get the address to file these complaints. The manager wanted him to get us out quickly, but he let me write down your address, finish my call, and gather my things in an orderly fashion. We called the Derby, KS, Driver’s License Office today, November 2, 2017, and they apologized for 21st & Amidon Driver’s License Office in Wichita, KS. It turned out that the policeman gave us excellent advice. The ceilings in the Derby Driver’s License Office are much higher so the lights do not reflect off the ceiling, the lights are not positioned above the cameras because the lights are higher, and the lights are not as bright. I was able to get my driver’s license updated with my Veteran Status. The Derby, KS, Driver’s License Office asked what we hoped to accomplish in their office as soon as we walked in. When they looked through our papers and saw that we had a copy of our marriage certificate rather than the original, they let us know that we would not be able to accomplish getting the TSA required Federal ID’s. They were very helpful and understanding with me about my disability. We did not get that type of great customer service at either of our visits to the 21st & Amidon Driver’s License Office. It was well worth the drive to Derby, KS. I am just glad my husband was home to drive me rather than me having to wait for a bus many times, and I still would not have my driver’s license updated to Veteran’s Status.”
ANALYSIS: This is an important complaint for blind and low vision readers to know about because, despite the fact that most blind and low vision people do not drive, there are a number of services we must receive from these types of offices, which are located throughout Kansas.
A non-drivers identification is required, for example, not only if one is going to fly on any airline, but also this is the most common form of photo identification accepted for people who want to vote. The offices that must be visited to receive the identification card are covered under Title II of the ADA. The complainant used the proper forms provided by the U.S. Department of Justice to file her complaint, and appropriately sent a copy of the complaint also to the Disability Rights Center of Kansas (DRC).
Low vision accommodations, however, are a variable area under the ADA. This is because so many low vision conditions impact function differently. Some low vision individuals would probably love the extremely bright and glary lighting at many State offices. Other conditions require very limited light to allow for maximal visual functioning. The issue thus becomes one of individual accommodations. Entities can not, for example, limit the brightness of lighting in public places because some people can not see well in it. Others who are just as disabled might need the bright lighting.
The ADA, however, provides “modification of policy” as one of the accommodations which must be provided to accommodate people with individualized disability related needs. The State office involved could have, for example, allowed the photo to be taken with the tinted glasses. This author is aware that this type of accommodation is made because I have demanded that my identification photo be taken while wearing visual aids that I always use in public. This makes the picture a more accurate representation. This modification of policy has been granted.
It is just as much a violation of the ADA additionally that the complainant was asked to leave the premises by the State employee in charge. There is absolutely to be no reprisals under the ADA for requesting an accommodation.
When this author used to be based in Wichita, I have assisted several blind and low vision clients in traveling to the 21st and Amidon office to deal with identification related needs. A trip to this office is a wonderful experience in teaching problem solving for any orientation and mobility specialist. To get from the bus stop into the office, a person must travel through extremely hilly parking lots which have rise ratios far in excess of provisions in the Americans With Disabilities Act Accessibility Guidelines (ADAAG). Once one finally gets through the entrance, there is an inaccessible check-in kiosk. Signage is also inadequately accessible per the ADAAG. Personnel at the office seem harried and overworked. They have not seemed to be in a very good mood during any time I have assisted clients in traveling there.
One thing about the ADA process which is positive is that if a complaint is filed by a person requesting accommodations for one disability. All provisions of the ADA are reviewed, and the entity may have to correct a plethora of identified deficits. On the down side, however, only a small percentage of valid complaints filed are considered to be precedent setting enough to be investigated by the Department of Justice or one of its contractors.
Also, one current sadness is that amendments to the ADA are currently on a fast track through Congress. These are expected to pass and to be signed into law by President Trump, probably before you receive this article. Once adopted, these amendments will make an already cumbersome complaint process impossibly slower. The ADA complaint process is already long and protracted. A complaint that this author assisted clients in filing a few years ago took four years to be investigated and resolved. Although its resolution required the entity to make over four million dollars worth of improvements in its accessibility, the time span made the improvements hardly relevant to the original complaint. Under the amendments, there will now be a 90 day period for the entity to respond to the complaint, and there will be 180 days after that for them to implement the corrections.
NO CHAPTER CHATTER
By Ann Byington
Michael and I are working hard to get organized as new caretakers of this newsletter. I regularly hear from Bob Chaffin and Trella Berscheidt regarding their local community activities. We also receive ”The SKAVI News” from southwest Kansas. We diligently attend our Topeka chapter meetings, too. I promise a thorough update in the summer issue. By then I will have mailboxes set up for organizing/locating this information. Please, please, let us hear from any and all of you! We know that our Wichita bunch has not been meeting regularly of late, but if things are jumping in that part of the State, we need to know about that too.
Compiled by Michael Byington
Our members and friends are a part of KABVI’s history, and a part of the history of blind and low vision people in Kansas. It is painful to be the bearer of sad news when we lose someone, but it is important that others know. Please keep us informed of members and close friends of KABVI who move on.
GARY P. DASHNAW, 60, died suddenly at his Topeka home on November 25, 2017. Gary had been a sighted member of KABVI for the past several years. He often volunteered at the corporate office helping with everything from administrative and mailing duties to janitorial work. Gary retired from St. Francis Hospital, Topeka, after 29 years of service in intake and administrative capacities. In semi-retirement, he was employed as a contracted driver for a legally blind professional requiring such services. He was a member of the Metropolitan Community Church of Topeka.
ELEESE JASPERSON YOUNG, 70, died February 8, 2018 due to complications of Alzheimer’s. Eleese was the wife of Richard E. Young, retired Operations Director for the, now closed, Kansas Rehabilitation Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired. She was a retired kindergarten and pre-school teacher, and was a member of Lowman Methodist Church.
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