A publication of the National Federation of the Blind of Ohio
The National Federation of the Blind knows that blindness is not the characteristic that defines you or your future. Every day we raise expectations, because low expectations create obstacles between blind people and our dreams. Live the live you want. Blindness is not what holds you back.
The National Federation of the Blind of Ohio is a 501 (c) 3 consumer organization comprised of blind and sighted people committed to changing what it means to be blind. Though blindness is still all too often a tragedy to those who face it, we know from our personal experience that with training and opportunity it can be reduced to the level of a physical nuisance. We work to see that blind people receive the services and training to which they are entitled and that parents of blind children receive the advice and support they need to help their youngsters grow up to be happy, productive adults. We believe that first-class citizenship means that people have both rights and responsibilities, and we are determined to see that blind people become first-class citizens of these United States, enjoying their rights and fulfilling their responsibilities. The most serious problems we face have less to do with our lack of vision than with discrimination based on the public’s ignorance and misinformation about blindness. Join us in educating Ohioans about the abilities and aspirations of Ohio’s blind citizens. We are changing what it means to be blind.
The NFB of Ohio has nine local chapters, one for at-large members, and special divisions for diabetics, merchants, students, seniors, parents of blind children, guide dog users, and those interested in Braille. This newsletter appears three times a year and is circulated by email, posted on NFB-NEWSLINE®, our digitized newspaper-reading service by phone, and can be read or downloaded from our website, www.nfbohio.org. For information about the National Federation of the Blind of Ohio or to make address changes or be added to the mailing list, call (440) 774-8077 or email email@example.com. For information about NFB-NEWSLINE, our free digitized newspaper-reading service, call (866) 504-7300. Local NEWSLINE numbers are:
- 330-247-1241 (Akron),
- 330-409-1900 (Canton),
- 513-297-1521 (Cincinnati),
- 216-453-2090 (Cleveland),
- 614-448-1673 (Columbus),
- 937-963-1000 (Dayton),
- 567-242-5112 (Lima),
- 567-333-9990 (Mansfield),
- 740-370-6828 (Portsmouth),
- 937-717-3900 (Springfield),
- 567-806-1100 (Toledo),
- 330-259-9570 (Youngstown)
Dream Makers Circle
You can help build a future of opportunity for the blind by becoming a member of our Dream Makers Circle. Your legacy gift to the National Federation of the Blind or the National Federation of the Blind of Ohio can be made in the form of a will or living trust or an income-generating gift or by naming us as the beneficiary of a retirement plan, IRA, pension, or a life insurance policy. You can designate a specific amount, a percentage, or list NFB as one of several beneficiaries. For additional information contact Patti Chang at (410) 659-9314, extension 2422 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The National Federation of the Blind uses car donations to improve the education of blind children, distribute free white canes, help veterans, and much more. We have partnered with Vehicles for Charity to process donated vehicles. Please call toll-free (855) 659-9314, and a representative can make arrangements, or you can donate online by visiting www.nfb.org/vehicledonations.
The 2018 Convention of the National Federation of the Blind of Ohio
by Suzanne Turner
Editor’s note: Suzanne Turner chairs the 2018 Convention Planning Committee. She has been busy for months preparing for our 2018 convention. Here is her report:
Please note – the address for the convention hotel was given incorrectly as 5471 Royalton Road before. The correct address is 15471 Royalton Road. Strongsville, Ohio 44133.
The National Federation of the Blind of Ohio is pleased to present a snapshot of activities at its 72nd Annual Ohio affiliate convention, which will be held at the Holiday Inn, Cleveland/Strongsville Hotel, 15471 Royalton Road, Strongsville, Ohio 44133. For your convenience you Can reserve your room now. The cost is $82 a night plus 16.5 percent tax with free buffet breakfast for two. Any additional people in the room pay $5 each for the buffet breakfast. Note that all breakfast orders from the hotel menu are paid out of pocket. Please keep in mind that the cutoff date for making hotel room reservations is Thursday, October 11, 2018. The Holiday Inn Strongsville has created a personalized link for room reservations, which has code “FEB” added. This tool is extremely user friendly and will help to make sure your hotel stay is booked at the group rate. Please refer to the end of this article for the steps to book online. If you prefer, call reservations directly at 1-877-408-4913 and reference group code “FEB”. Be sure to let the hotel know if you need a wheelchair-accessible room or have any additional requirements related to your reservation. Transportation provided by the hotel’s shuttle within a three-mile radius is available. The Strongsville Mall is directly across the street. It includes a number of shops and restaurants. Panera Bread, Starbucks, and CVS Pharmacy are just up the road.
To register for the Team Convention, go to . Preregistering costs $15 but onsite is $20. The charge for the banquet is $40 and onsite is $45. Note, registration is a requirement for door prize eligibility and a number of other convention activities. Convention attendees (both local and out of town) are asked to register.
Our theme for 2018 is the Team Convention, “One Team, One Goal,” which is parallel to our belief, that the National Federation of the Blind is the only organization that believes in the full capacity of blind people, and has the power, influence, diversity, and determination to help transform our dreams into reality. We believe in blind people because we are blind people. Our democratically elected leaders and our diverse nationwide membership are made up of blind people, our families, and our friends. We are bound together by our belief that the blind are capable of achieving our dreams and living the lives we want and by the love and respect we have for one another and for all blind Americans. We support one another, act with courage and determination when we encounter barriers or experience setbacks, and engage in collective action to improve our lives.
The Convention Planning Committee is delighted to announce that attorney Denise Avant is our 2018 National Representative. Denise is the President of the NFB of Illinois, a member of the NFB national Board of Directors, and an active member of the American Bar Association. Denise comes highly recommended, experienced, and well informed.
The NFB of Ohio is the state’s oldest organization of blind people working together to change what it means to be blind. The 2018 Team Convention will inspire and empower you and will celebrate our accomplishments. Join us to learn more about issues confronting blind people today and walk away ready to advocate for change. Showcased at the Convention will be inspirational stories about the work of our movement, our history, and our philosophy of blindness. We are planning dynamic committee meetings, stimulating workshops, and thought-provoking agenda items.
Take a look at a few convention highlights:
• Network with blind people across Ohio.
• Encourage blind people to expand their knowledge of resources and opportunities such as Braille, Accessibility, and Legislative Initiatives.
• Attend Workshops on Effective Strategies for Self-Advocacy, Trends in Transportation, and the Latest Developments in Technology.
• Attend the banquet with a memorable banquet address and the presentation of scholarships for blind college students.
• Visit the Exhibit Hall to explore the latest technology and low-vision products. Exhibitors will be open to shoppers and information gatherers on Saturday, November 3, 2018 from noon to 5:00 PM.
The opening gavel of the first general session will fall on Friday, November 2, with opening ceremonies promptly at 2:00 PM. We will have a series of speakers covering a wide range of topics, including a report from our president, our national representative, Opportunities for Ohioans with Disabilities (OOD), Regional Transit Authority (RTA), legislation, and health and wellness. Of course, Annette Lutz will have exciting door prizes as well.
Friday evening will see a flurry of activities. First and foremost, our Hospitality Suite will open its doors at 5:30 PM. Your host will be the NFB of Lorain County, and they will make you feel relaxed and right at home. They are also planning some enjoyable activities for your visit. Snacks and beverages will be available for your comfort.
The At-Large Chapter and the Ohio Association of Blind Merchants Division will hold their annual business meetings that evening. The Nominating and Resolutions Committees meetings will also take place. Sign up for the One Touch Self-Defense Class and learn techniques to protect yourself. And of course the Ohio Association to Promote the Use of Braille (OAPUB) Division again will entertain us later that evening with one of their wonderful radio play readings. Admission will be $5 at the door. This is an event you will surely not want to miss as you show your support for Braille.
Saturday morning, November 3, we will begin with an OAPUB breakfast meeting at 7:00 AM. If Braille is important to you, be sure to sign up for the OAPUB breakfast meeting while you are registering. The Diabetes Action Network (DAN) will also have its breakfast meeting in the hotel restaurant at 7:00 AM. If you are interested in becoming a member of this division, you should seriously consider attending.
The gavel falls again promptly at 9:00 AM to continue general sessions. We will break at 12 noon for lunch. The Ohio Association of Guide Dog Users (OAGDU), the NFB of Ohio Seniors Division, and the Ohio Association of Blind Students (OABS) will conduct their annual business meetings from noon to 2:00. Boxed lunches will be available for meeting attendees who ordered them or for those who just want to get a lunch on the go. Be sure to order your boxed lunch when you register for the convention.
The afternoon promises provocative workshops on promoting leadership, membership building, and successful employment strategies. The Exhibit Hall will be quite exciting, with vendors attending such as Microsoft, FreedomScientific, and the American Printing House for the Blind (APH), to name a few. These and more vendors will be available to us from 12:00 noon to 5:00 PM demonstrating their high-tech and low-tech products for blind and visually impaired users. Chapters and divisions will also have the opportunity to hold fundraisers in this exhibit area.
Saturday night’s banquet will surely be the highlight of the convention. This is an opportunity for fellowship and for all of us to share a meal together. Our keynote speaker for the evening will be our national representative, Denise Avant. We will have our Gavel Awards ceremony to celebrate chapter and division accomplishments from the past year. The finale of the banquet will be the announcement of the 2018 scholarship winners and the annual auction. Be sure to order your banquet meal when you register for the convention. Don’t worry, the night is not over. Plans are in the works for an exciting after-banquet activity.
Sunday, November 4th is the day we relax a little, reflect on the past few days, and think about where we are headed in the future. Elections will be held for the officers and one member of the Ohio Board of Directors. All NFB members are eligible to vote if their dues have been paid.
Our Convention Planning Committee is committed to making your convention experience memorable and enjoyable. Therefore, our goal is to bring you the most up-to-date information on the convention. Please feel free to contact the committee chair with any questions, concerns, or requests for accommodations at SMTurner.email@example.com.
Vice President Sheri Albers along with the Cuyahoga Chapter will be ready to greet you bright and early at 9:00 AM on Friday morning with your registration packets and agendas and to preview the weekend activities. Please bring all donated door prizes to the registration table as well.
Suzanne Turner is in charge of convention arrangements, and she and her committee will make sure that the hotel facility–which includes staff, accommodations, guide dog relief areas, meeting rooms, dining areas, and common areas–is as blind-friendly as possible. Volunteers will be available to assist and direct convention attendees to gathering points and conference rooms.
The Convention Planning Committee and Board of Directors will be on hand to welcome you, and we are excited and looking forward to seeing you at the 2018 Team Convention. Together, with love, hope, and determination, the members of the National Federation of the Blind transform dreams into reality. You can live the life you want.
Follow these steps for online registration:
• Hold down CTRL and click National Federation of the Blind or right click on hyperlink and select OPEN hyperlink.
• The group block code FEB will already be included for your special rate.
• Enter arrival and departure dates.
• Enter first & last name and email address.
• Enter payment information.
• Once complete, a confirmation number will be generated.
• If an email address was entered, A confirmation will be sent to you.
• This link will not function properly when attempting to access it through a cell phone.
• A laptop or desktop computer is recommended.
Get to Know the Holiday Inn Strongsville Cleveland
by Barbara Pierce
Though parking is available near the sleeping rooms at this motel, you will probably first park on the east side of the facility. The main entrance is near the check-in desk, close to the south end of the meeting room block. Imagine that the meeting room area is roughly a square with an add-on section on the north side at the northeast corner. The sleeping rooms form a print T that lies south of the meeting rooms with the stem running north-south and beginning halfway back the south side of the east-west hallway, which begins at the front door and stretches west to the Simmering Pot Restaurant at the west end of the hall.
The check-in desk is near the front door and on your left as you walk toward the Simmering Pot. Just past the desk on the left is the base of the sleeping-room T. You will find the three sets of elevators in this sleeping-room area. Convention registration will be located near the check-in desk in the lobby part of the east-west hall.
As you walk west toward the Simmering Pot, on your left you will pass the check-in desk, the hall leading to sleeping rooms and elevators, and Vinny’s Lounge, where dinner is served as well as drinks during the evening. On the north (right) side of the hall are three corridors leading into the meeting-room area. The east-west hall is tile, and the three south-north meeting-room corridors are carpeted, as is the hallway leading to the sleeping rooms.
Just after you step into the hotel, you can turn right into the first meeting-room corridor. It is called the sales corridor because the sales and catering offices are on the right of the hall as you walk north. The Aspen Room is the first door on the left of this hall. There are restrooms on the right just north of the sales office. A pair of drinking fountains is just to the north of the men’s room. There is a low, wheelchair fountain and then a taller one. Neither reaches the floor, so they are a bit of a hazard since a cane will slide under them. After the fountains is a door to the outside, which is one of the dog relief areas as well as a seating area for smokers. There are two sets of doors to pass through to get out. There is a permanent trash receptacle outside, and the hotel staff will probably place a couple of others out there for your convenience. Please use them when picking up after your dog.
On the west side of the hallway is a door into the Mulberry Room, which is our general session room. This door is located at the north side of the head table. There is another entrance on the south wall of the Mulberry Room at the west end, which means it is located at the back of the meeting room.
Returning to the sales hallway, the hall stops at the north end at a door into the Chessnut Rooms A and B. These will be breakout rooms, especially on Saturday. These two meeting rooms are the add-on space at the north end of the meeting-room square.
Returning to the east-west hallway, where the check-in desk is located, and walking west past the sales and catering corridor, you come to the second corridor leading north. This is opposite the check-in desk. Walking north in this carpeted hall, you pass the west door into the Aspen Room. If you stay to the right walking north, you will walk straight into the back door to the Mulberry room referred to above. Just to the left of that door is the door to the Sycamore Room, and west of that room is the Cypress Room. These two rooms are the hospitality room on Friday night.
On the west side of the south-north corridor is a door into the Board Room, and around the corner in the east-west corridor that passes the Cypress Room is another door into the Board Room. If you walk further west in this hall, you will cross the third of the north-south hallways. Just beyond this hall you will find a door on the south side of the hall, which leads into the Juniper Room. There is a second door into this room which is on the south end of the room and leads to the east-west hallway just outside the Simmering Pot Restaurant. There are restrooms on the east wall of the third north-south hall, as well as the Butternut Room, which lies between the restrooms and the main east-west hallway. When you leave the carpeting, walking south, you will know that you are back in the main east-west hall. When you cross this hall, you will enter Vinnie’s Lounge. The Simmering Pot Restaurant is on your right at the west end of the hall, and the front door of the hotel is to your left.
When you begin walking east toward the check-in desk, you will pick up the carpeting leading south into the sleeping-room area. This is the stem of the T. All of the elevators are on the stem: the first two pairs of cars are on the left, and the third, single elevator is on the right, almost at the junction of the stem of the T with the cross piece. The left or east arm of the cross piece is shorter than the west arm. The sleeping rooms all have ADA signs. Even-numbered rooms are on the right, and odd-numbered rooms are on the left. Large circular mirrors with thick frames are hung at shoulder height alternately right and left in the hall, so be careful not to hug the walls as you walk, or you could locate the mirrors the hard way. There are ice and soft drink machines near all the elevators. On floors one and six there are rooms with a coin-operated washer and dryer. These are located just after the second elevator bay. There are three sets of elevators on the stem of the T. The first two sets go all the way to the sixth floor; the last elevator goes only to floor five. That elevator is located on the right (west) side of the hall almost at the cross piece hall, and there are only five floors of rooms on the cross piece.
A door leading to a dog-relief area on the west side of the corridor is across the hall from the second set of elevators. This is a large grassy area, and trash receptacles will be placed outside the door for your convenience. Remember to take your room key card with you in order to get back into the hotel.
I will conclude with my usual plea: do not just read through this article once and then feel frustrated because you do not have a perfect map of the hotel in your mind. Read through it carefully several times. Consciously construct the map in your mind. Making maps is one of the skills of blindness, but it takes practice to do it quickly. Use this article as a way of developing the skill.
What Is the Gavel Award Anyway?
by Cheryl Fields
Editor’s note: Cheryl Fields chairs the Awards Committee. She is convinced of the value of the Gavel Award program. This is what she says:
The beginnings of the Gavel Award seem to be lost in the mists of time. I have asked around, and no one knows of any other state affiliate in the NFB that conducts anything like Ohio’s contest. I find this very surprising because it seems such a good idea.
Because it is such a valuable teaching tool, people seem to assume naturally that Bob Eschbach came up with the idea, probably in 1973, when he became president of the NFB of Ohio. This is the way Barbara Pierce explains her thinking: The challenge always facing a state president is how to get a range of chapters to think carefully about how well they are doing at the things that count in the Federation. After all, we have both experienced and brand new chapters. We have ones that are tired of doing the necessary activities and those who are excited about tackling the problems of blindness. We have energetic ones and ones who are tired of raising money. How do we get them all to look at their programming and evaluate how well they are doing, never mind building their enthusiasm to the point where they will find the energy to try new things?
The Gavel Award questionnaire has evolved through the years. Lots of people have chaired the Awards Committee. In the eighties we began assigning point totals for the various program areas being assessed. It took time for chapters to become comfortable answering questions about how they spend their funds and for that matter how they raise them. But the truth is that we can all learn from each other.
I don’t know when we began asking divisions to compete in a similar program, but that too has been a good idea. The competition establishes the expectation that divisions will conduct programs throughout the year. This is not an easy project for groups with people spread across the state, but, if we are going to bother with organizing divisions, they had better have some reason to exist.
We do not demand that every chapter or division complete the Gavel Award form. We have groups so new or fragile that trying to complete the form might finish them off, and we certainly do not want to scare leaders away. But by completing the form, people can learn a lot about what their chapters are doing as compared with other chapters. It is useful to keep the questions in mind when the group or the officers are planning activities in the late winter or the spring: maybe we could get a state senator to come to the meeting. Could we share transportation with a nearby chapter to get to the Columbus Seminar? What could we do for Braille Literacy week? How should we spend our money? These are all decisions that should be shaped at least in part by the recollection that the Gavel Award report is coming up.
If your chapter is so new or so exhausted that you can’t face filling out the form, just write a paragraph telling our president what you have done this year. Maybe your group would be a candidate for the Membership Committee to visit and help you rebuild. But if your group is active and engaged in changing what it means to be blind in your neck of the woods, gather a small group together with the minutes from the meetings of the last year, and compile your answers to the questionnaire. The Awards Committee wants to hear from you.
Impressions of My First National Convention
by Trisha Kulkarni
Editor’s note: Trisha Kulkarnie was one of the thirty scholarship finalists at the 2018 national convention. She lost her sight suddenly in middle school, but she did not let that complication to her life distract her from her academic goals. She learned Braille so that she could do her math assignments, and she built a distinguished academic record for herself in high school in Centerville. She will be attending Stanford University in the fall. She spent this summer at the Colorado Center for the Blind in CCB’s intensive college readiness program. She is now packing for her freshman year. Here are some of her reflections about the convention, where she was awarded the Oracle Scholarship for Excellence in Computer Science for $8,000:
My pulse begins drumming in my ears as I leave my dad’s side, mount the stairs, and find my place on the banquet stage. It has been an exciting week of new friendships and opportunities, but now it was time for the final moment everyone had been waiting for. I hear the thousands of spectators in the audience take in a collective breath of excitement, and the scholarship presentation begins.
Looking back, it is quite humbling to think about the power one phone call had to change the course of my life as I knew it. In early May I received a call from Sachin Pavathran informing me that I had been chosen to be a part of the 2018 NFB scholarship class and that I would be attending the national convention in July. At the time I was completely oblivious of the incredible opportunity I had been given–not recognizing how difficult it had been to be selected for such an honor. However, after attending the national convention in Orlando, Florida, and as I prepare to move across the country to begin my undergraduate studies, I can’t help feeling overwhelmed with gratitude for the empowering experience I had this summer. Despite not knowing many other blind individuals and being the only blind student in my high school, I was fortunate enough to have many people in school who devoted time and effort to help me succeed. Little did I know that attending convention following graduation would expand my scope of community far past the boundaries of my hometown and open new doors to live an independent and fulfilling life.
From the moment I walked into the Rosen Shingle Creek Hotel and heard the echo of thousands of canes tapping through the halls, I knew that attending a national convention would be like no other experience I had had before. To be perfectly honest, I was quite scared to be traveling through such a massive hotel independently while trying to juggle the busy schedule of a scholarship finalist. By no means was it easy to stay oriented among the crowds of people, but I came to find that there is a certain thrill that comes only from finding your way in such a vast environment. For the first time in my life, I had the freedom to venture out and discover my surroundings without the fear of embarrassment or judgment. Whether it was rushing to meet my mentor for breakfast or exploring with friends late at night, I learned that I was capable of navigating the convention madness independent of my sighted peers, and as I trod through the frenzied halls, I began to find my own direction and purpose.
With this realization I felt liberated to dive into the many exciting events and opportunities the convention had to offer. I came to appreciate that the NFB is responsible for many of the progressive efforts that bridge the gap between blind individuals and their dreams. From trips to the Independence Market to listening to the Ohio caucus meeting, there seemed to be an endless number of opportunities to find resources. I attended division meetings on topics from computer science to handling a guide dog and gained exposure to new innovative technology such as 3D printing and smart glasses. Through joining NABS, the National Association of Blind Students, I learned of the resources and tools that have been most useful for students in college and beyond. Although it was impossible to find time for all of the events that interested me, what was most empowering to me was to realize that, no matter what a person’s background and interests are, there is a place for them within the Federation.
But more valuable than the resources and exposure I gained from coming to convention were the relationships I built as a part of the scholarship class. Having met only a few blind people in my entire life, I found that the national convention was the first time I had the opportunity to network with blind people of all ages, pursuits, and values. I met students who faced similar academic barriers in the classroom. I connected with professionals who share the same interests as I have, and, perhaps most comforting, I found people who share my same roots. The Ohio delegation welcomed me into their family with open arms and a shared determination to help me succeed. On the final day of convention, my dad surprised me by coming to watch the banquet, so I unfortunately was not able to sit with the delegation the final night, but I nevertheless felt my state proudly cheering me on as I accepted my award. Although I will be attending college in California, Ohio will always be the place I call home, and I am so appreciative for the support the NFB of Ohio has shown me.
Additionally, I had the privilege to be mentored by members of the scholarship committee throughout the week of events. At first I was nervous to be spending time with such impressive and experienced members of the NFB, but I soon understood that the mentoring program is not meant to be a test but a remarkable asset. Especially as a new member, I had many questions about the structure and function of the organization, and having role models to guide me through the process made my experience much more rewarding. Despite their busy schedules, it was empowering to see how the members of the scholarship committee devoted time to advising their mentees and helping them get the most out of their time. Whether it was the many phone calls I made to Barbara Pierce prior to my departure for Florida, the hushed conversations I had with Pam Allen during general sessions after her re-election, or the in-depth discussion about my academic goals with Kathryn Webster over lunch, I will carry the connections and memories I created as a finalist with me no matter where my life takes me.
Although convention is now over and it is time to start my undergraduate career in a few short weeks, I can’t help feeling it is only the beginning of my work with the NFB. Since leaving Orlando, I have joined the fundraising committee of the California Association of Blind Students and have kept in touch with members of my scholarship class. The financial gift that I received will certainly be helpful in funding my academic endeavors, but I will forever be grateful for the relationships and ongoing resources that my scholarship has provided me with. I know that, with the force of the NFB behind me, I will turn my dreams into reality and live the life I want.
It seems as though time slows down onstage as we wait for the awards to be presented, but finally the names begin to be called, and I listen intently. Disbelief takes over as first five then ten then fifteen names get called, and I do not hear my name. Did I miss it? Suddenly we are down to the last few, and I hear Ms. Mendes announce, “Trisha Kulkarni, Ohio, California!” I feel a grin take over my face and the crowd applauds. As the memory of the many moments that brought me to this moment flow through my mind, tears fill my eyes, and I am overcome with gratitude for the experience of a lifetime. I know that this moment will be one that I remember for a long time, and I think to myself, “I can’t wait to return again next year.”
by Barbara Pierce
For the past several weeks I have been thinking a lot about the NFB’s one-minute message. The longer I reflect on it, the better and truer I find it. When our leaders were working on NFB branding several years ago, they quite consciously sat down with experts to try to distill what the NFB stands for in a few words, in fact ideas that could be expressed in under a minute. We talk a lot about Federation philosophy, and we in Ohio have spent hours at state conventions discussing our philosophy, but the challenge is to reduce it to a few words. If you can’t quote the message, here it is:
The National Federation of the Blind knows that blindness is not the characteristic that defines you or your future. Every day we raise the expectations of blind people because low expectations create obstacles between blind people and our dreams. We can live the lives we want; blindness is not what holds us back.
You may notice that the final sentence is a little different from the version we used in the beginning, but I recently saw this version in something from the national office, and I like it better. It is the second sentence that is the powerful one to my mind because it directly addresses what President George W. Bush referred to as “the soft bigotry of low expectations.” Moreover, it seems to me that raising expectations is among the best things that we do for blind people. Blind people get to know newly blind folks, and immediately they understand that they have the possibility to do things they had only dreamed of doing. Blind adults get to know families with blind children, and immediately they transform the expectations that the parents have for their blind children. Seniors losing vision meet competent blind seniors, and suddenly their futures open out in ways that they had thought were impossible. The damage done to us all by low expectations is criminal, and this is why we must do everything we can to prevent those obstacles from getting between blind people and our dreams.
All this has come to mind in new ways because of an applicant recommendation that I read this spring in Ohio’s scholarship program. I have been reading and assessing letters of recommendation for scholarship applicants for almost thirty-five years now. These are intended to be letters from those who know the academic or work lives of our applicants. Ideally students ask people to write recommendations who can speak to the excellence of their scholarship or mastery of their field of study or their work ethic or ability to lead their peers or something notable about the student that it would be helpful for us to know and to learn from an objective third party. I have seen all sorts of unfortunate letters from next-door neighbors, Sunday school teachers, Boy Scout leaders, and aunts. But this spring I read probably the worst letter of recommendation I have ever seen. Sadly, it was from an OOD counselor. Some students, typically high school seniors, make the mistake of assuming that their vision teacher or rehabilitation counselor would be a good person to ask for a recommendation. Like those students who ask their ministers or parents, these students assume that the blindness professionals know them well and can speak to their blindness skills and will understand the challenges they face academically. They probably do understand these issues. The miscalculation is that as blind people ourselves we know something about blindness and therefore presume that we can assess adjustment to blindness for ourselves. We are looking for expert evaluation of educational, athletic, work, or internship skills.
The first problem with this recommendation is that it was a PDF that none of us using access technology could read. We have all worked out accommodations for this problem, but it seems gratuitously insulting for a professional who should know about the PDF problem to inconvenience the committee by sending an inaccessible letter to a group likely to be composed of screen-reader users. In passing I should remind readers that several years ago two college students brought the problem of inaccessible documents from OOD to the attention of the OOD administrators addressing the NFB of Ohio convention. Their response was to regret the difficulty and promise to look into the problem. Clearly they did not solve it.
But back to the current recommendation letter. As an example of the student’s strong work ethic, the counselor mentioned that this student was always early to their meetings. For our convenience the counselor provided discussion headings in the letter. These were communication, interpersonal skills, mobility, self-care skills, and work skills. With clear admiration the counselor called special attention to the student’s independent flight to another state for summer classes. In passing the counselor mentioned that the student traveled in familiar areas without a cane despite having what were characterized as excellent cane skills. If I had read such a recommendation for a young high school student, I might have been impressed, but college students should be far beyond assessment of daily living and communication skills in a scholarship recommendation.
The entire recommendation was an exercise in demonstrating low expectations. JW Smith and Caroline Peters are going to have their hands full as members of the new Consumer Advisory Council. I have no idea how they will go about raising the quality of the rehabilitation services offered when counselors like this one do not believe in the abilities of the people they are advising.
by Eric Duffy
Editor’s note: Eric Duffy is the immediate past president of the NFB of Ohio, a position he held for almost four years. He has never stopped caring about and helping our affiliate during the years of his absence. Here is what he has to say about coming home:
As far back as I can remember, sports have been a big part of my life. When I was very young, they were an annoyance. I can’t believe that I just wrote that! But I remember trying to figure out why my dad and brothers liked baseball and football so much. However, it didn’t take me long to clamber onto the band wagon. By 1970 I was a Cincinnati Reds fan. Not long after that I came to love the game of baseball as a whole. Then, of course, came football. I remember being very unhappy when one of my favorite players was traded in either sport. “What? How could they get rid of him? What’s wrong with this team?” I asked. I often wondered how it might feel to find out all of a sudden that your home was in a new city. In the last couple of years I have gotten a little taste of that.
I have never been a professional athlete. I have not been traded by a team of any kind. However, in 2016 I moved from Ohio to New Jersey to take a job with the New Jersey Commission for the Blind and Visually Impaired and finally to become one with my childhood sweetheart Shelley. Although it was hard for me to leave my Federation family in Ohio, I got a great deal. One might say I exercised an option to move to New Jersey.
Then in 2017 I exercised an option to move to Baltimore to become the director of access technology for the National Federation of the Blind. Shelley also moved to Baltimore, and we were married on September 10. Since August of 2017 she has served as the receptionist at the National Federation of the Blind’s Jernigan Institute.
Before I was ever offered the director of access technology position, I told President Riccobono that I wanted to move away from technology work on a daily basis. However, we both agreed that I would give this job a try. There is no doubt that I love the National Federation of the Blind, and it seemed to make sense that I should come to work for the Federation.
What does any of this have to do with sports? Well, once again, I am not being traded to Ohio, but I am opting to come home. I am bringing another player with me, and together we are a team. But we will join the bigger team of the National Federation of the Blind of Ohio. President Payne has said many times now, “One team, one goal.” I am excited about being a part of the Ohio team again. I will support the work of the National Federation of the Blind of Ohio in any way I can.
As president Richard has my support in the way that Dr. tenBroek had the young Kenneth Jernigan’s support. Dr. Jernigan told Dr. tenBroek that, as long as he agreed with 51 percent of what tenBroek was doing, he had 100 percent of Jernigan’s support. That is exactly the commitment I make to the Ohio affiliate and to President Payne. That is exactly what I expected of Richard when he served as my vice president.
To resume my sports analogy, I look at the current situation with Lebron James. Lebron left the Miami Heat to return to his home town of Cleveland. He recently opted out of his contract with Cleveland to play for the Los Angeles Lakers. Lebron could have made more money if he had stayed in Cleveland. But he wanted to go where he believes he will have the supporting cast to help him win another championship. In my own case I could have chosen to remain in Baltimore and have real job security. But I have decided to come back home. I too believe I am once again joining a winning organization. I am rejoining one team with one goal.
I have been proud to hear about the new members who have joined the Ohio affiliate over the last two years. I am also pleased to see that Richard has managed to bring many people off the bench and put them in starting roles on the team.
The game plan and the execution in the Ohio General Assembly have been carried out well. Richard has grown and matured in the presidency of the affiliate in the same way that our predecessors and I had to do. He has had a good support team in place, and on occasion I have also provided support from a distance. Richard has not hesitated to ask for the advice and support that he has needed, and that is the mark of a good leader. It felt like home week sitting in the Ohio delegation during the national convention, and I look forward to coming back home and playing my assigned role on the team. I will put all that I have to give into the work of the National Federation of the Blind. We are the World Champions in the blindness field, and I am proud to contribute to our success in any way that I can.
From the President’s Desk
by Richard Payne
Many of you know that I like to joke and have fun. I believe that laughter is the best medicine. However, when it comes to the service I give the National Federation of the Blind, all jokes are out the door. I started my quest for knowledge and liberation within this organization at the age of 17. Although it has been many decades of work with some challenges sprinkled along the way, I would not change anything. It was the NFB that taught me to be assertive, independent, and informed about what it means to be blind in a positive manner.
The philosophy of the organization means more to me than ever before. Blindness is not the characteristic that defines me or my future. This is evident as I have served as your Ohio Affiliate President for the past few years. There is a place in this organization for all. It is through love, hope, and determination that I will do everything to the best of my ability to help transform dreams into reality. There is no “I” in we and no “me” in us. It will take all of us collectively to combat negative attitudes and barriers.
As we move closer to the end of our Affiliate’s fiscal year, the work of the Federation must continue with purpose and strength. For instance, with the new State of Ohio Rehabilitation Council and with the changes in the OOD administration, we must continue to be in the forefront and be ready to help frame, reframe, and develop policies that will benefit the blind of Ohio. I think that over the next few years rehabilitation will undergo some drastic alterations—some maybe we won’t be in favor of. Nevertheless, the Federation has always been a leader in the field of blindness and will continue to fight to guard against programs and policies that do not reflect our best interest.
The NFB of Ohio has represented and advocated for blind people across Ohio for many years. To understand where we are going, we must honor our past and embrace the present moment. We must prepare and arm ourselves for what is to come in 2019. Moreover, we all must play an active role in shaping the future of the National Federation of the Blind and services for blind people in Ohio. It is important for you to realize the power within you and the responsibility we all have. We must ensure that we continue working forward to carry the charge and lead the way. You are an essential piece of the Federation’s power, not just in numbers but by being an active member.
For the last two years we have visited the Statehouse in Columbus and have begun gaining new friends. The work has been critical and will benefit all blind people throughout the state. Yet we must dedicate ourselves to living the Federation’s philosophy regardless of the battles we face.
Finally, the National Federation of the Blind is always moving, and it is even more important to rally the troops now with so many changes in policies, laws, and regulations that affect us. In the words of Dr. Jernigan, “We are the movement. We are the blind. Join me on the barricades! We know who we are, and we will never go back!” The National Federation of the Blind will not turn back to earning subminimum wages, receiving inadequate rehabilitation services, being portrayed negatively, dismissed, and overlooked. We are a network of tens of thousands of blind people changing what it means to be blind, living full lives. Together, with love, hope, and determination, the members of the National Federation of the Blind transform dreams into reality. You can live the life you want. Do not let blindness hold you back!
Meet the 2018 Scholarship Class
by JW Smith
Editor’s note: Dr. Smith chairs the Scholarship Committee this year. Here is his introduction to the 2018 scholarship class:
It is a joy and a privilege to serve as the 2018 chair of our NFB of Ohio Scholarship Committee. The other committee members are Barbara Pierce, Bob Pierce, Emily Pennington, and Lucas Cassi. We began our task by revising the scholarship information and circulating it as widely as possible in an effort to solicit interested applicants. We were not disappointed with either the process or the pool of applicants. After a conference call consultation, the committee selected these three finalists. Ladies first, please—Lillie Pennington. Lillie Pennington is no stranger to our affiliate. It has not taken her long to make meaningful contributions to our movement and success. Lillie is on track to graduate a year early with three academic minors. She is a student at Northern Kentucky University majoring in social work. Lillie also continues to be involved with activist and awareness organizations for LGBTQ+ communities. Lillie served last summer as an intern at our Kenneth Jernigan Institute under the tutelage of Anil Lewis. I believe this paragraph from her personal statement captures the essence of Lillie Pennington:
Last fall, I had a homework assignment in a class on child abuse in social work that required me to look at a picture and identify ten risk factors about a home that may indicate signs of child abuse. There was no alternative assignment, and my professor had not discussed this with me beforehand. Luckily, a quick email inquiry fixed the situation relatively quickly, and she was more mindful in the future about accommodations for these types of assignments. Not dissimilar from this experience, in the process of obtaining an updated transcript as part of the requirements for this scholarship application, I ran into an inaccessible website that prevented me from downloading this document. Through contacting the registrar, I learned that I had to go to them and that I could only obtain a hard copy and that the technology center would scan and email it to me. I left having a bad taste in my mouth and with the knowledge that I would see what I could do to change this policy. Contacting Disability Services to inform them of this issue resulted in an accessible website to access final grades, download transcripts, and register for classes: all things that I had been struggling with since starting college.
Michael Molchan is a name and individual you will probably remember from last year. He was a winner last year, and he impressed the committee again this year with the record he has amassed as a freshman. Mr. Molchan is a Dean’s List student at Miami University, double majoring in business economics and finance. Michael works at the Student Success Center at Miami University, reading children’s literature on topics of diversity to elementary students, and he teaches martial arts in his spare time. Michael also has a melodious voice, and his speaking capacity is effective and exemplary. I admit that this may be the rhetorician and public speaking professor coming out right now, but, nevertheless, it is true. Here is how Michael ends his personal statement:
I can put how I deal with blindness in two words: “dots and trust.” I trust that these dots will connect. That connection lies beyond Miami University. I might go to law school. I might pursue an MBA program with a concentration in finance. I might publish my eBook in the next few years and share it with more than two elementary schools. But I might let the dots connect themselves, because blindness does not control my life. How could it? How could it when I trust that somehow, someway, my dots will connect.
You will probably also remember Mr. Robert Sabwami, one of the 2017 scholarship winners. Like Michael, he clearly demonstrated that he should receive a second look and the opportunity to impress us one more time. Robert is a graduate student at Wright State University, where he is studying to be an intervention specialist in special education. Mr. Sabwami has a wife and children and is originally from Africa, but now he is a U.S. citizen. He told me during one of my phone conversations with him that becoming a U.S. citizen was one of the proudest days of his life. Notice how this paragraph from his personal statement is the stuff that our philosophy exudes:
In short, the journey toward self-actualization was long and tortuous, the climb was steep, and the quest to realize my potential remained a mirage. Fortunately, I established a network of friends, who, unlike my family, embrace me all the way. Through these connections I was introduced to Braille and adaptive computer technology. Once again I could read books and personal mail; transact business; browse the internet; create electronic files; and communicate with whomever I want at will. With these newly founded skills, I regained independence, and I was able to take control of my life.
Please welcome our 2018 scholarship class to our NFB of Ohio family! They will be with us at our state convention November 2-4 in Strongsville, Ohio. It is my hope that they will be even more visible this year and have the chance to get to know us even better. Each of them brings their unique narratives and experiences to our movement and we should do all that we can to facilitate their matriculation through our movement. Please take advantage of every opportunity you get to meet and greet them and to encourage their participation in both our convention and affiliate.
The Greater Akron Chapter Is on the Move
by Dave Bertsch
It was another beautiful Akron, Ohio, morning on July 21, 2018, when our new Greater Akron Chapter of the National Federation of the Blind of Ohio was established. NFB of Ohio President Richard Payne and Cleveland Chapter President Suzanne Turner both shared inspiring words and a clear mission with the almost twenty attendees of this Founders Meeting.
But this meeting was for launching a new chapter, so participant names were taken, and new Federationists were welcomed to the newest Chapter. We made nominations, and then we cast our votes, and suddenly our new Greater Akron Chapter had a Board. From day one we have an exceptional Board—talented leaders committed to helping their neighbors and making a difference for blind people in Akron. I really look forward to serving with our Vice President Kiana Hill, our Treasurer Eric Smith, and our board member Mary Weldon. My wife Stephanie Bertsch will serve as Chapter Secretary. But she says, even though I’m President, I still can’t boss her. Rats.
Having been elected President of this newest chapter in Ohio, I’m very honored and excited to be part of the awesome NFB team and mission we have in Ohio and nationally. Since that morning with much help we’ve been getting people and papers and plans in place. The Independence Market is sending materials to help us serve the blind and their families in the greater Akron area, and our first chapter meeting is in the works.
I’d like to thank Richard, who criss-crosses our state to champion the NFB mission, and is a terrific example of living to help others to live the lives they want. Thanks also to Suzanne Turner for her untiring service and wealth of knowledge and for helping get our new Board and Chapter on track.
A big thanks to Scott Reisberg from the Akron Blind Center. When asked to speak, Scott focused on the benefits of our organizations working side by side, and then shared an uplifting message of survivors and champions over adversity.
Thanks also to Tom Sawyer at the Cleveland Sight Center and Dr. Cheryl Reed at UDS Akron, for many years of serving the blind community and for adding to our chapter kickoff.
And big thanks to our state board members, many of whom have reached out personally. All of our state leaders have helped get this chapter up and running, and it is their daily support of each NFB of Ohio member that enables our opportunities and impact.
The NFB is a compassionate yet determined group, making a real difference for the blind and their families, raising expectations and showing each of us we can live the life we want, I’m honored to be part of this incredible organization.
Vote for Your Life
by Eric Duffy
Editor’s note: Eric Duffy is a political animal. Here is his plea to everyone to vote in this fall’s election. This is what he says:
From the time I can remember, I have had an interest in politics. Better yet, I should say I have had a desire to vote. Long before I was eligible to vote, I wanted my vote to count. I remember having voting machines at school in order to have the experience of voting. We could vote in the big -ticket races such as president or governor.
Rarely have I missed an opportunity to vote in an election of any kind since I turned eighteen. I regret those few elections in which I did not vote. I believe my vote counts, and I am proud to live in a country where my vote matters and where I am free to vote the way I choose to. I have the right to cast a secret ballot independently.
Blind people have not always been able to vote independently and secretly. There was a time when blind people who needed assistance voting had to take a representative from the Democratic and Republican Parties into the voting booth. Each of these people got to know how the blind person voted, and so did anyone who might have overheard the person indicate his or her vote. Through the work of the National Federation of the Blind the late Senator Howard Metsenbaum of Ohio introduced and fought hard for legislation which permitted a blind person to take someone of his or her choosing into the voting booth.
Florida’s hanging chad problem during the election of 2000 fundamentally changed the method Americans used for voting. Legislation was quickly passed mandating that all states use electronic voting systems. The conspiracy theorists then came out of the woodwork. They claimed that the machine manufacturers were going to throw the elections. Votes weren’t going to be counted.
The federal law that was passed was the Help America Vote Act (HAVA). In Ohio I was involved with the work of the Secretary of State’s office as they worked to implement the HAVA legislation. I heard about how many boxes of ballots were left in trunks of cars, basements of courthouses, etc. How many votes didn’t get counted before electronic voting machines came along? Who knows?
Be that as it may, blind people took advantage of a golden opportunity that was laid in our laps. We said that, if there is going to be electronic voting, the machines have to be nonvisually accessible. It wasn’t long after that that blind people could independently cast a secret ballot.
All of this is a brief history lesson, or perhaps just a stroll down memory lane for me. It only tangentially ties into this article. What’s the point of this article? I want to encourage you to vote.
The deadline to register to vote in the next general election is October 9. Please register and vote. If you vote, your vote will count. It means something. Justin Dart Jr., RSA commissioner and American activist helpful in passing the Americans with Disabilities Act, is famous for having said, “Vote as if your life depends on it, because it does.”
This was driven home for me in a forceful way on my second day back in the state of Ohio. I attended an Ohio candidate forum on disabilities issues. The Democratic and Republican candidates for senator and governor were invited. Both Senate candidates sent surrogates. The Democratic candidate for governor, Richard Cordray, came and addressed the group. That said a lot to me. The Republican gubernatorial candidate, current Attorney General Michael DeWine, did not bother to show up, nor did he bother to send anyone in his place. That also told me a lot. That message is not one that most politicians want to send. Most politicians don’t want to tell a group of constituents that they don’t matter unless they believe that the group is not strong enough to hurt them. Let everyone know that we matter. Let your vote be counted in November. Study the positions of each candidate. Cast your vote intelligently. Your vote counts. Your vote matters.
The next governor will make major policy decisions that will affect the blind and others with disabilities for years to come. These decisions will put money into programs on which we rely. The wrong decisions will take money away from programs on which we rely. The next governor will appoint the director of the Opportunities for Ohioans with Disabilities agency. He will also appoint members to the council that provides the agency with consumer input. Whom will you vote for? Whom will you give the power to make these critical decisions? Will you give it to the man who said by his actions and not his words, you don’t matter? Will you give it to the man who said by both his actions and his words, you do matter? You matter enough for me to be present in your gathering. I want you to know my thoughts on issues of importance to you, and I want to know what you think.
Don’t tell me your decision. Just independently cast that secret ballot. Once again the National Federation of the Blind has made it easy for you to do so. You can do it by requesting an absentee ballot if you choose to do so. Here are two articles that appeared on the Disability Rights Ohio website:
She Wanted to Cast Her Absentee Ballot Privately and Independently
by Stacy Brannan-Smith
Shelbi Hindel has voted in every election since she turned 18. Because she is blind, she needed help to read the ballot for many years, relying on someone to read it aloud to her and trusting them to vote the way she wanted to. Accessible voting machines with screen-reading technology were helpful, but getting to the polls can be difficult for her, especially since her polling location was moved to a community center that is not within walking distance or on a bus line. Those problems made absentee voting at home really appealing, but Ohio’s absentee voting process has been paper-based, so she’d again have to find someone to read the ballot to her and mark it on her behalf. She found it unacceptable that she had to give up her privacy.
“I don’t want to trust someone to fill out an absentee ballot for me,” she says. “If you want to share, that is your prerogative, but you shouldn’t be forced into sharing that with anyone.” So, when the National Federation of the Blind approached Disability Rights Ohio about filing a lawsuit to challenge the inaccessible absentee voting process, she proudly became a named plaintiff in the suit. Hindel v. Husted was filed in December 2015.
DRO and its co-counsel, Brown, Goldstein & Levy, LLP, successfully pursued the case through the United States District Court and the Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. Now, after more than two years, Ohio is preparing to launch accessible absentee ballot marking tools in time for the November 6, 2018, General Election. In a directive issued in January, Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted told county boards of elections that they must select, test, and implement such a tool by September 1. Voters with print disabilities will be able to request the digital absentee ballot, which will allow them to use screen-reading technology to read the ballot and mark it before printing it, signing it, and mailing it in. Shelbi is excited for this new option that will allow her to vote privately and independently like any other voter. She hopes it will encourage more people with disabilities to cast a ballot. “We have so much to be thankful for, and we should not take that for granted,” she says. “We should vote.”
Reporter Rick Reitzel from NBC 4 in Columbus interviewed Shelbi and DRO Attorney Jason Boylan about the case. Watch and read that story here.
Early Voting Has Begun for May 8 Primary
Voting in Ohio is underway for the May 8 Primary Election. Although the accessible absentee ballot marking tool is not available yet, all Ohio voters can submit an application for an absentee ballot by noon on Saturday, May 5. Absentee ballots must be postmarked on or before Monday, May 7. Early, in-person voting hours are also available weekdays through April and every day May 1 through May 7. Check with your county board of elections to find your early, in-person voting location.
If you have questions about voting or problems voting because of your disability, contact DRO at 800-282-9181 and select option 2 for intake. You can also find many voting resources on the Voting page of our Self-Advocacy Resource Center.
Lou Ann Blake, who manages the voting projects for the National Federation of the Blind, is also prepared to assist you with voting concerns. Before election day both DRO and NFB will provide numbers to call should you have difficulty obtaining an accessible absentee ballot or problems voting when you arrive at your polling place. Remember to vote as if your life depends on it, because it does.
The Value of Mentors
by Suzanne Turner
Editor’s note: Suzanne Turner is a well-known leader in this affiliate. Here she is talking about the value of seeking mentors. This is what she says:
In my work as a career coach and benefit counselor, I have found several helpful resources that very few people take advantage of. I am speaking of becoming or taking part in mentoring others. Having a mentor helps people evolve skills, talents, and upward mobility. Therefore, having a mentor can elevate one’s professional capabilities tremendously. Mentors are amazing people, who are a bonus. When you take the time to develop a strong mentoring relationship, you get access to a wealth of knowledge and experience, but you also end up with a lifelong friend and potential future business partner. In short, there’s no downside. Of course, if you aren’t familiar with the concept of mentorship, you may have questions about how it all works.
What Exactly Is a Mentor? A mentor is a more experienced (typically older) professional in your field who can offer real-world guidance, advice, and assistance. Some may ask why they should bother. Having a mentor offers a host of benefits. A good mentor is wise and willing to share his or her knowledge and experiences in order to help you succeed. It’s like having a wonderful trusted ally to go to whenever you’re feeling unsure or in need of support. They can help you set goals and help you make smart decisions. They can also be your sounding board.
When Should You Get a Mentor? Mentors are helpful regardless of where you are in life. Whether you’re fresh out of college or a few years from retirement, there are always others who have been there and done that. The ability to retain and develop talent from within an organization is quickly becoming essential. Mentoring can improve organizational satisfaction and retention, enrich new employee initiation, make your organization more appealing to potential members, and train potential leaders. Mentors develop a professional relationship with mentees who are usually individuals seeking to start or develop within their calling or business.
The role of the mentor is to share knowledge, skills, and experiences to help mentees develop their calling or professionalism through attaining new knowledge, building new skills, and planning and achieving goals. Both members of the mentoring team develop a wide range of personal and professional skills, including leadership and communication, which can lead to an increase in morale and personal satisfaction for all.
This year I completed the National Federation of the Blind online application to become a mentor. The process was inclusive, thorough, and structured. I took a background test and was interviewed along with providing several references who could vouch for my character and abilities. I understood the purpose of the process; after all I would be interacting with children and teenagers.
As the application was finalized, I reflected on who recently has provided mentorship in my growth and development, who has helped me to achieve my goals, who has encouraged me and most of all who has talked to me when the barriers were a mile high. Most of us could spit out a name or two. But believe it or not, my mentor arrived and became evident just this year. The work of the National Federation of the Blind has given me commitment, dedication, a vision, and the means to achieve positive results. As the President of the Cleveland Chapter, I have found that the chapter’s support, admiration, and exchange have developed me into a pragmatic yet disciplined leader. Text books and prescribed methods are not always the best approach to success. It is flexibility, compassion, and common sense that take precedence. Also, as I have served in many roles for the NFB, several Ohio leaders have become my uncelebrated mentors, sharing information and guiding me through a step-by-step process to aid me in achieving my goals. Their time and patience have given me confidence and successful groundwork. Thus their feedback and participation have been essential to my growth, competence, and productivity as I serve. Therefore I provide testimony to the Ohio Affiliate that with the culture of the NFB reinforces mentoring system. Through experiences and challenges I intend to pass along everything I have learned to my mentees I mentor in the NFB Mentoring Program.
If you wish to become a mentor and provide wisdom, expertise, and time, please visit https://nfb.org/mentorapplication to complete the process.
Online registration is now available for the 72nd NFB-O convention. You can register by navigating to the convention information page from the www.nfbohio.org web site. The direct link to the convention information is http://nfbohio.org/home/nfbo-72nd-annual-convention/.
On August 3 Federationists from across the state joined friends and family members of Paul and Bernie Dressell to celebrate Paul’s eightieth birthday. His birthday is actually in January, but the weather was much better in August. Thanks to Judy Cook, we had a delicious supper, and Marianne Denning brought a spectacular chocolate birthday cake. We told stories and recollected Paul’s generosity and friendship through the years. We are all keeping our fingers crossed that Paul will be feeling well enough to attend the convention in November.
The NFB of Ohio Seniors Division will conduct a drawing for a basket of goodies at the fall convention. We already have an ivory hand-knitted throw, gourmet tea, coffee, and hot chocolate; an Amazon Fire Stick and Alexa; foot care products and lotion; and chocolate truffles. Come to the exhibit hall or find a member of the division to buy your tickets.
Wilbert Turner will be conducting two One-Touch Self-Defense workshops Friday evening and Saturday afternoon. The cost for a two-hour workshop is $15.
The NFB of Lorain County will conduct its fortieth annual hike-a-thon on October 6. Actually we did a bike-a-thon for a year or two, but we have been raising funds with this project for forty years now. We will hike around Tappan Square in Oberlin for five kilometers. Folks are welcome to join us. We will begin checking hikers in at 9:00 a.m. that morning and should be finished by a little after 11. Come hike with the blind.
Colleen Roth reminds At-Large members that the chapter will be revising its constitution at its convention meeting. They will also be electing officers. As usual they will conduct a split the pot drawing at the convention.
BSVI/NFB Ohio’s Adult Braille Literacy Program is in full swing. In March 2018 the National Federation of the Blind of Ohio continued its partnership with OOD’s Bureau of Services for the Visually Impaired by beginning an adult Braille literacy project. To date, half of the fourteen participants from around Ohio have mastered uncontracted Braille, months ahead of schedule, and are carrying on to tackle contracted Braille. As a result they can keep the Braille writers given to them at the beginning of the program. Many are already borrowing books from the National Library Service.
The program began with weekend meetings around the state in March and April to introduce small groups of learners to the textbook and Braille writers they would be using. Following this, each learner has participated in two hours of weekly tutoring by phone and through Internet from qualified Braille teachers, plus weekly work and conversation with other adults who know Braille. These mentors use Braille actively in their own lives, and several also learned Braille as adults.
On August 25 a statewide exhibit of Braille displays came to Columbus at the initiative of teachers in the program. This exhibit was open to program learners and anyone else interested in technology to introduce visitors to practical applications of Braille use such as connection with a smart phone or reading from one’s laptop.
The American Printing House for the Blind has created and released a unique Spotify playlist. It includes works by and about more than 100 musicians who are visually impaired. From the works of Japan’s Biwa Hoshi of the twelfth century to Kentucky alumnus Michael Cleveland, music has played a significant historical role in the lives, education, and livelihoods of people who are visually impaired. A sample of this music can be accessed from anywhere through APH’s Spotify playlist.
Film and television portrayals of people who are visually impaired range from positive to negative, accurate to ridiculous. The following annotated filmography describes sixty movies about blindness, encompassing a broad spectrum of fictional and documentary work. Each of the movies described in this pamphlet is held in the Migel Library, along with other videos, including 1921’s Love Light and the current series Game of Thrones. Movies about Blindness has been digitized for Internet Archive at https://archive.org/details/moviesaboutblind00muse. Contact American Printing House for the Blind library staff to view any of the videos listed in the filmography or the many others in the Migel Collection.
One boy found out with corrective lenses what it means to see the stars. As an eye doctor he has invented an innovative system for early-intervention eye testing now spreading in the developing world. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-44697342.
This young YouTuber, who is blind, is out with owning her disability, and recently she celebrated her millionth follower. See both humorous and serious takes she’s made here: https://www.youtube.com/user/MollyBurkeOfficial/videos?disable_polymer=1
This podcast, “Autonomous Vehicles Provide Mobility for All,” is now available. Henry Claypool, policy consultant for the American Association of People with Disabilities, discusses the potential impacts that autonomous vehicles may have in the workplace and other areas of life. Listen to the podcast and read the transcript here: http://www.peatworks.org/futureofwork/podcast/2018/06/AAPD
Access all of the other ten “Future of Work” podcasts here: https://www.peatworks.org/futureofwork
Italian engineers at Ford have invented a system for nonvisual travelers to learn what’s passing by outside. “Feel The View” takes pictures that are turned into high-contrast monochrome images. These are reproduced on the glass using special LEDs.When a user touches the image, different shades of grey vibrate with a range of 255 intensities: http://fordeurope.blogspot.co.uk/2018/04/feel-view-smart-window-for-blind.html.
In July Ohio’s libraries announced that they were entering a three-year contract with LinkedIn to provide Ohioans free access to online courses with the social media company’s Lynda.com service, which has over 12,000 self-guided courses to help people gain workforce skills, from computer programming to creating games. These courses will be available to anyone with an Ohio library card and an online connection: https://www.cleveland.com/open/index.ssf/2018/07/public_library-linkedin_agreem.html#article
This project from Story Corps called the Disability Visibility Project gives you the chance to tell your ADA or other story archived as part of its US national oral history: https://disabilityvisibilityproject.com/how-to-participate/.
While discussion continues on making US currency more accessible to nonvisual users, there’s no quick end in sight. However, free currency readers that make audio or tactile indicators for what money they are shown are available to qualified US citizens with vision loss. Find the application and instructions here: https://moneyfactory.gov/uscurrencyreaderform.html.
Medicare information is soon to become easier to read for Braille and large-print readers in far easier ways, including accessible forms and additional time to respond, since until now days were counted against response time when sending special materials: http://www.adasoutheast.org/news/articles.php?id=8708
This nonprofit offers inventive technology for those in need and lacking commercial alternatives, plus information and referrals for finding the disability-related items they may need to work, play, or participate in the community: https://maywehelp.org/request-a-device/
Do you or someone you know need financial assistance for vision care? For a free Ohio listing of no-cost or low-cost eyecare services from Prevent Blindness Ohio, in English or Spanish, see https://ohio.preventblindness.org/ohio-vision-programs.
Social Security now offers wage reporting not only to SSDI recipients but also to those on SSI. Learn details and tips for avoiding overpayments here: https://choosework.ssa.gov/blog/2018-07-09-update-social-security-online-wage-reporting-service
A revised edition of “A Transportation Guide for Persons who are Blind or Have Low Vision” is available for free download from the Transportation Resources page. It offers updated information and tips about finding and using transportation options. Topics covered include training, bioptic driving, public transportation, ride-hailing services, and walking, among others.
The American Printing House for the Blind has grouped former American Foundation for the Blind resources under the name APH ConnectCenter. This includes:
FamilyConnect.org – gives parents of children who are visually impaired a place to find resources and support each other.
CareerConnect – provides employment information, career exploration tools, and job-seeking guidance for individuals with vision loss and professionals who work with them.
VisionAware.org – helps adults who are losing their sight continue to live full and independent lives by providing timely information, step-by-step daily living techniques, and a supportive online community.
BrailleBug.org – teaches children about Braille through games and activities and provides resources to teachers and parents.
APH ConnectDirect information and referral 800 number–provides information by phone on virtually any topic related to visual impairment and blindness. Dial toll-free 1-800-232-5463. You may also submit questions by email at .
Directory of Services – lets anyone find services in his or her local area with a simple search. The Directory of Services lists over 3,500 agencies in the U.S. and Canada.
Parents and Kids Corner
Westerville’s public library has become the thirty-sixth in Ohio to host the adaptive toys program. Adaptive toy and book kits highlight social skills, fine motor, sensory, and gross motor skills. The kits contain toys and books for families with and without disabilities to borrow for up to four weeks that support each skill set, along with activity cards. For a complete listing of libraries maintaining this service see: https://atohio.engineering.osu.edu/adaptive-toy-libraries.
Ready or not, here it comes, reading, writing, and ‘rithmatic just around the corner. Disability Rights Ohio offers seven tips for parents of children with disabilities getting ready for the upcoming school year: http://www.disabilityrightsohio.org/blog/tips-for-parents-for-the-beginning-of-the-school-year#IEP
This article provides some simple but sound advice for parents of children with special needs and really for any couple: http://kidshealth.org/en/parents/marriage-advice.html?WT.ac=p-ra#mainContentContainer
NCWD/Youth’s Youth Action Council on Transition produced the “Hitting the Open Road” video series for youth. These short videos are written for youth, by youth, on exploring options as they prepare to transition out of high school. Each video features a young person narrating the road to transition, along with advice. Video topics include: Options While in High School, Volunteering into the Workforce, and Making Choices about College. Watch the videos here: http://www.ncwd-youth.info/publications-resources/videos/
Most of us face a lot of decisions in our late-teen years as we finish high school and try to decide where we’re heading. This article outlines many advantages, some of which you might not expect, of taking a gap year between high school and our next steps toward adulthood. https://www.accreditedschoolsonline.org/resources/taking-a-gap-year-before-colleg/
Skype is upping its accessibility for keyboard users by offering this list of hotkeys and what they do to make things easier in Version 8: https://support.skype.com/en/faq/FA12025/what-are-hotkeys-and-how-do-i-use-them-in-skype
Job searching with an iPhone or iPad using Voiceover? It’s possible. Here’s how: http://www.applevis.com/blog/advocacy-apple-ios-ios-apps-opinion/job-searching-ios-and-i
Bookshare, available free to nonvisual readers K-12 students and for a small fee for adult members, adds new books every day, often at the same time as Amazon and iBooks. Keep up with the newest additions with the New Books Reading List here: https://www.bookshare.org/browse/latest?mkt_tok=eyJpIjoiWW1GallqYzNZamMwTVRsbSIsInQiOiJmUm1GTWRSbUhcLzdERTZJY2RnSnVmMTJcL09zYXpvNlFHemx3MUlaVjdrR2VRVVNmeCswbEl0Q1N2djlzbjNiRnZ4Y2JUYVUyT3VDSXJiaFFsaVF0REU3M0FWeUtRd2xQbEZCVGc2Z1JvTldtQTlcL1hzWjFPZ0VJWHd4VGh6RVdDNCJ9
Whether you prefer to read on your computer, smartphone, tablet, or favorite Braille device, there are many ways to read with Bookshare. See tools for no-vision readers, readers with learning disabilities, low vision readers and more here: https://www.bookshare.org/cms/help-center/reading-tools/member-preferred-tools?mkt_tok=eyJpIjoiWkRrNE1qQXlaRGMyTURKbSIsInQiOiJFQTB0NHE1dzlzOFErMGdGSEw0Q1F2NkZ5ZVBCQXV3Y1wvbThKTmdPTDRKUEFDS0NCbTZNU2xDNXNVRTNaRU9BcTBLQXVDUENCVmVcL1h4UVh2SjJENFlMdVNNYlpQekZudEkxaWtaVGNQWEdYWEFrN2pURU92bXY2UHF1TFJpRlBLIn0%3D#LV
September 17, Conference call board meeting, NFB-O Board of Directors
October, Meet the Blind Month
October 1, Deadline for awards nominations and Gavel Award reports
October 11, Convention room block release
October 15, White Cane Awareness Day
October 26, deadline for chapter and division dues, chapter lists, narrative reports, and resolutions
November 2-4, NFB of Ohio convention, Strongsville
December 1, Deadline for expressing interest in the Washington Seminar