2014 Fall Newsletter Word format - National Federation of the Blind

FALL 2014
Buckeye Bulletin
A publication of the National Federation of the Blind of Ohio
Barbara Pierce, Editor
237 Oak Street
Oberlin, OH 44074
[email protected]
(440) 774-8077
Eric Duffy, President
(614) 935-6965 (NFB-O Office)
[email protected]
P.O. Box 82055, Columbus, OH 43202
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. You can live the life 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 protected] 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), and 614-448-1673 (Columbus).
The NFB now has a vehicle donation program. For complete information go to
<www.nfb.org/vehicledonations> or call our toll-free vehicle donation number (855) 659-9314.
Table of Contents
From the President’s Desk
by Eric Duffy
Editor’s Musings
by Barbara Pierce
The 68th NFB of Ohio Convention
An Opportunity for Learning, Fun, and Fellowship
by Karen Warner
Introducing the Holiday Inn, Worthington
by Barbara Pierce
Bells Ring Again in Columbus
Reflections of a White Cane Guy
by David Cohen
The NSB of Ohio 2014 Scholarship Winners
by Deborah Kendrick
The Road Lies Ahead
Empowering Blind Youth to Renew Camp Experience
by Kaiti Shelton
Why Braille
by Deborah Kendrick
Buckeye Briefs
Activities Calendar
National Federation of the Blind of Ohio
2014 Convention Preregistration Form
From the President's Desk
by Eric Duffy
At a recent gathering of BSVI counselors I was asked why vocational rehabilitation
counselors should attend the conventions of consumer organizations. Much of my response applies
to everyone with an interest in blindness. Some of what I said was specific to counselors, but I
think the question is worth contemplating for all of us.
From an early age I recognized that jobs were important. I would hear people ask my dad
what he did for a living. Later people asked me what my dad's job was. For many years now one of
the first questions I'm asked when meeting someone new is either do I work or what do I do for a
living. More often than not I am actually asked if I work. It is generally presumed that a
working-age, nondisabled person has a job. My guess is that one who fits in that category is rarely
asked whether or not he or she works. In any case a large part of one's identity is wrapped up in
what one does for a living.
Those charged with the responsibility of helping people train, prepare for, and find jobs
have a heavy burden to bear if they take that responsibility seriously. This is even more true for
those working with blind job seekers because the needs of the blind are highly specialized and
often misunderstood.
My observation is that most BSVI counselors have very little interaction with blind people
outside of their direct working relationship. It seems to me that, in order to know what blind people
are really capable of accomplishing, this contact with the blind has to be vastly expanded. I have
had counselors tell me that they don't understand how I do all of the traveling I do. They have
asked how I handle the airports, hotels, and unfamiliar cities. When participating in a convention,
one can't help learning how blind people get things done.
We are often asked to serve on task forces and advisory bodies and testify at hearings or
write letters in support of the OOD. We certainly should do these things, but the support cannot be
one-sided. Whether the agency knows it or not, it is in its best interest to have strong consumer
organizations of the blind. Counselors should do what they can to understand what we are about
and help us build our organization. Dr. Jernigan used to point out that, when a state agency is under
fire, weak consumer organizations will be of no help. That is the moment when counselors and
administrators want and need strong, articulate, passionate consumers to stand up and tell
legislators just why the agency needs funds and political friends and fight to win them.
We change attitudes about blindness every day, and we help change the lives of blind
people. We raise their expectations of themselves and their state agency. This is not something for
an agency to be afraid of or discourage.
So what should each of us be doing before convention? We should certainly urge chapter
members to attend convention. We should tell them how much fun and inspiration are to be found
there. We should answer their questions and soothe away their doubts about their ability to move
around the hotel and get where they want to go. But we should do more. If we are in contact with
BSVI counselors, we should invite them to the convention. Give them a printout of this article and
the convention information in this newsletter. We should be prepared to put the case for their
attending part or all of the convention. We have every reason to be proud of our annual convention.
We know firsthand that conventions change lives; they can also change the attitudes of the
counselors who make decisions that change our lives.
You may have noticed new language at the front of this newsletter. It is the brief message
that we are using to explain what the National Federation of the Blind is and does. It also explains
why we gather to gain strength and inspiration from each other. I close this column with these
sentences because their message should inspire all BSVI counselors to attend our convention. 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. You can live the life you want; blindness is not
what holds you back.
With these things in mind, I think the better question is why shouldn't counselors
participate in our convention. In fact, I believe that participating in local, state, and National
meetings of the blind should be a part of the continuing education requirement for counselors.
Editor's Musings
by Barbara Pierce
It shouldn't be news to anyone that the NFB of Ohio is in a deep financial hole. We have cut
corners to an astonishing degree, and Eric and I have talked about fundraising till we are blue in the
face. Those who know what they are talking about in fundraising tell us that, short of discoving a
wealthy uncle to underwrite our budget or coming up with the equivolent to the ALS Foundation's
IceBucket Challenge, our best bet is to conduct a fairly spectacular event with sponsors and some
headlining attraction and throw in an auction. Such an event requires that lots of people come and
have a good time spending money. Planning such an evening has always struck us as a lot of time,
trouble, and risk, but it has come to the point that we don't have any choice but to try.
We have chosen the first night of our state convention as the time and place. The good
news is that it is October 31, which means that it will fall into Meet the Blind Month. The attraction
is Art Schreiber, who is flying in from Colorado to be with us that evening and the remainder of the
weekend. Art chairs the New Mexico Comission for the Blind. He is a blind guy who has worked
in radio all of his career. He got his start in Zanesville and worked for a while for WKYC in
Fifty years ago he was assigned to travel for two weeks with the Beatles on their first
American tour. He has written a book about his life that talks some about his experience. He has
wonderful stories and anecdotes about that tour, and he will be talking about his experience that
evening. Our hope is to attract Beatles fans. In addition we will have music from the British
Invasion provided by the John Schwab Band. In addition we plan a silent auction.
If your reaction is that this sounds like a lot of work, you are right. We are approaching
businesses and corporations for sponsorships at various financial levels. These sponsors will sbe
given free tickets to the event and advertising in the program for the weekend. The catch is that we
need everyone's help and support. Who do you know who might be willing to sponsor the event?
What about providing auction items for the display? We all have contacts. The question is to come
up with who might sponsor and who might donate? But one thing is certain: they will not take part
in the event if we do not invite them to do so.
I hope that no one will dismiss this column thinking that this plea is aimed at other people.
I am asking you what contacts you have. Who might be a sponsor or might contribute a quality
item to the auction? Then, when you have come up with ideas, go talk with the company. Here is
the notice that we are circulating. You can print it up and take it with you, or you can ask Eric to
send a PDF version that you can print and take with you. The ball is in your court.
The Blind of Ohio Are Counting on Your Support
The annual convention of the National Federation of the Blind of Ohio will be the largest gathering
of blind people in the state this year. We are asking businesses for support in a way that we have
never done before. We are bringing in an audience on Friday evening that we have never had, and
we want to give business leaders and owners the opportunity to reach this audience.
Art Schreiber, a reporter who traveled with the Beatles for two weeks during their first American
tour fifty years ago, will tell stories and recount anecdotes about the Fab Four. The John Schwab
Band will play golden oldies of the period, and we will have a silent auction.
We invite your support at one of the following levels:
White Cane Sponsor: $4,000 and above (25 complimentary tickets). Additional tickets
may be purchased at a discounted price.
Platinum Sponsor: $3,000 to $3,999 (20 complimentary tickets). Additional tickets may
be purchased at a discounted price.
Gold Sponsor: $2,000 to $2,999 (15 complimentary tickets). Additional tickets may be
purchased at a discounted price.
Silver Sponsor: $1,000 to $1,999 (10 complimentary tickets) Additional tickets may be
purchased at a discounted price.
Bronze Sponsor: $500 to $999 (5 complimentary tickets). Additional tickets may be
purchased at a discounted price.
Friend of the Blind: $25 to $499 (for a tax deductible donation at this level we will list
your name in the program)
Because we are a not-for-profit organization under Internal Revenue Service Code 501(C3), all
contributions are tax deductible. All sponsors will be listed in our program in every available
format, including Braille. All sponsors will be mentioned at various times throughout the
weekend, but of course the level of sponsorship you provide determines how much advertising you
will receive. White Cane sponsors will have the opportunity to address the Convention should they
wish to do so.
The Convention will take place Friday, October 31, through noon Sunday, November 2, at the
Holiday Inn, Worthington, 7007 North High Street.
For more information contact Eric Duffy [email protected] (614) 935-6965
P.O. Box 82055
Columbus, Ohio, 43202
The 68th NFB of Ohio Convention
An Opportunity for Learning, Fun, and Fellowship
by Karen Warner
Editor’s note: Karen Warner chairs our Convention Arrangements Committee. Here are
her reminders about the NFB of Ohio convention October 31 to November 2:
It is nowSeptember, and we are looking forward to the state convention taking place in the
Columbus area. We will be at the Holiday Inn, Worthington, 7007 North High Street. This
convention promises to be one of our best ever. We will have a jam-packed agenda with plenty to
do for everyone. It will be a great opportunity for learning, fun, and fellowship. Preregister for the
convention now and save.
The board meeting will begin at 11:00 a.m., and Eric assures us that it will last only an
hour. The opening first convention session will be called to order on Friday afternoon. This will be
an abreviated session so that committee meetings that normally take place Friday evening can be
held late Friday afternoon.
On Friday evening we are going to have a fundraising event of a magnitude that we have
never tried before. Arthur Schreiber, a former radio reporter who traveled with the Beatles during
their first United States tour, will tell us how Ohio's own John Glenn helped him get his radio
career started. He will tell us how Paul McCartney saved his career. We will see rare footage of the
Beatles' first U.S. tour, and at some point during the weekend you will hear how Art became a
committed member of the National Federation of the Blind.
The John Schwab band will entertain us with music from the 1960s and more.
will also have a not-so-silent auction that evening. So we need you to bring your money as well as
high-quality auction items.
Our room rate is $76 a night plus tax for all rooms. Remember that this excellent rate
vanishes when our room block is released on October 4, so make your reservation today by calling
the hotel, (614) 436-0700. Tell the reservations clerk that you are registering for the convention of
the National Federation of the Blind of Ohio, and be sure that the hotel is aware of any special
needs when making your room reservations. For example, if you need a wheelchair-accessible
room or a room close to the elevators, let them know. The following article provides some
important information about the layout of our hotel.
Please preregister for the convention, because doing so gives us more accurate information
about meal counts and room setups. To encourage you to preregister, we provide some financial
savings to those who do so. The deadline for preregistering is October 18. I urge you to take this
deadline seriously. We often hear pleas to grant the preregistration discounts to late registrants
because the member really intended to get the form and payment in by the deadline but just didn't
get organized soon enough. We provide as much time as we can, but we absolutely must enforce
the cut-off date so that we have time to process the registrations we have actually received before
leaving for the convention. Once again we are offering the opportunity to register online. This will
make life easier for you and for us. The website to use to preregister is
Here are some important things to remember when planning for the convention. The first
full convention event is the board of directors meeting on Friday at 11:00 a.m. This will be your
first chance to meet Dr. Maurer and his wife Patty. Dr. Maurer is our national representative this
year. Dr. Maurer of course is the immediate past president of the National Federation of the Blind
and a longtime leader of our movement.
After a quick lunch we will gather for the Friday afternoon convention session. Later in the
afternoon the vendors and the members at large will meet, as will the Resolutions and Nominating
Please remember this important policy concerning resolutions. Through this committee the
policies of the affiliate begin to take shape. If you have an issue you believe the affiliate should
address in some way, write a resolution. It should be printed out and, if possible, accompanied by a
Braille copy. If you cannot transcribe it into Braille, do not be discouraged. The important thing is
that we have a print copy from which to work.
Resolutions must be sent no later than one week before the Resolutions Committee
meeting. This year resolutions must be received in either the Columbus office or the home of
Deborah Kendrick, the committee chair, by Friday, October 24, 2014. Anyone wishing to submit a
resolution for consideration after this date must persuade a member of the Resolutions Committee
to sponsor it and bring it to the committee meeting. Resolutions for which the committee votes to
recommend do not pass will not be considered by the Convention unless three chapter presidents
present and voting at the convention sign a request to bring the resolution to the floor.
The Nominating Committee will also meet briefly late Friday afternoon. Members of this
committee are appointed by chapter presidents, and the President of the National Federation of the
Blind of Ohio selects the committee chairperson from those appointees.
Because of the Friday evening activities mentioned above, we will not have the play
sponsored by Ohio NAPUB that we have had for the last three years. The plays have been
enjoyable for the cast and the audience, but we just can't fit it into the convention schedule this
Saturday we will have a morning convention session and the usual NAPUB continental
breakfast meeting and lunch meetings of parents, seniors, guide dog users, and students. The
students will probably bring in pizza, but the other groups should be sure to sign up for the meal
associated with their meetings.
We plan to have an afternoon convention session that will take place from 2:00 to 5:00.
The banquet will begin at 6:00 this year, and we will continue partying after the banquet. Sunday
morning we will have an early continental leadership breakfast for chapter and division presidents
and treasurers. The final session of the convention will be called to order at 9:00 AM. We will
conduct affiliate elections, have a discussion of NFB philosophy, membership building, and
affiliate history, as well as a brief business meeting. We will adjourn at noon.
It is important to understand that this article is intended to provide a general idea of what
the convention schedule will likely be and to encourage readers to plan to attend the entire event.
Because plans for the convention are really just beginning to take shape at the time of this writing,
things might be slightly different when the agenda goes to press. This is especially true when we
are making substantial changes to the convention schedule, as we are doing this year. What we do
know, however, is that this is the annual convention of the National Federation of the Blind of
Ohio with all of the promise, hope, and love that our conventions offer.
We hope that you will make plans now to join us at this year’s convention. You will be
sorry if you miss it, and so will we.
Introducing the Holiday Inn, Worthington
by Barbara Pierce
The Holiday Inn, Worthington, is located at 7007 North High Street. You enter the building
on the second floor—sleeping rooms are on all three floors. But all the meeting rooms are located
on the second floor.
When you step through the front door, you are facing south. The check-in desk is on your
right, on the west wall of the lobby. When you finish checking in, turn 180 degrees so that you are
facing east with your back to the desk. Walk about ten feet and turn right, south. Walk twenty-five
feet. You will find a wall in front of you with the Adams Room slightly to the right and the
restaurant, Connections, to the left. You can turn left and travel east about thirty feet, looking for a
hallway to the right. The Worthington Room is at the south end of this hall.
If at the Adams Room you turn right, west, instead of left, you are heading toward the
North Exhibit Area. On the right is the swimming pool, and on the left is a blank wall, which is the
north wall of the ballroom. This area dead-ends into the Patio doors and a wall. You can turn right
and travel about forty feet to a left turn, which is the north wing of sleeping rooms. The elevator for
these rooms is at the extreme west end of this hall.
If you turn left, south, at the Patio doors, you will find yourself in the foyer to the Griswold
D, C, B, and A Rooms, which constitute the ballroom. The Griswold Rooms open on the east side
of the foyer, with D at the north end and A at the south end.
Halfway along Griswold C, an east-west hallway goes west from the foyer. Six meeting
rooms, three on each side, open into this hall. The rooms are, east to west, on the south, left, side of
the hall: Wright Room, the Stansbury Room, and the Morrison Room. On the north, right, side are
the John Snow Room, the McGregor Room, and the Chase Room. Note that restrooms are located
before these meeting rooms, just after the right turn. The women's room is on the left, just before
the Wright Room, and the men's room is on the right, just before the John Snow Room.
This is the south wing, and the sleeping rooms follow the meeting rooms. The elevator is at
the extreme west end of the hall, but you must jog to the right to find it.
I suggest that you read through this article several ties, if possible before the board meeting.
In that way you can check out the floor plan while you are at the meeting.
Bells Ring Again in Columbus
Editor's note: July 21 was a red letter day in Ohio. The previous Saturday and Sunday
volunteers from around the state gathered at the Ohio State School for the Blind to prepare for
BELL 2014, Braille Enrichment for Literacy and Learning. This was our second year for BELL,
and we were ready with improvements and new ideas.
Debbie Baker was back as a teacher, but this time we also had Marianne Denning to share
teaching responsibilities. Shelbi Hindel with some help from Annette Lutz was on deck to prepare
lunch and supervise cooking activities. More about this later. Aleeha Dudley, Aliyah Johnson,
Macy McClain, and Barbara Pierce were present as aides both weeks, and Deborah Kendrick was
on hand as an aide the first week to help with the six students, ranging in age from seven to eleven.
Ub addutuib we were kycjt ebiygh to have help from two Columbus area teachers of visually
impaired students several times during the week.
This is a report of the two weeks of BELL camp from the Federationists who staffed it.
Debbie Baker: Bells were ringing again daily at approximately 9:00 in Columbus to
celebrate successes and independence of our six student participants. Braille Enrichment for
Literacy and Learning (BELL) occurred this year at the Ohio State School for the Blind (OSSB)
from July 21 through August 1. Four repeaters from last year returned, and we had two new
participants. One student will attend first grade in Huber Heights, Ohio, during the 2014-15 school
year. One will attend second grade in Cincinnati in 2014-15. Two will attend OSSB for the
upcoming school year, one in second and the other in sixth grade. One student will attend second
grade in Commercial Point, Ohio, and we hope to have a new student, formerly of Reynoldsburg
schools, also attending OSSB in the fifth grade this coming year.
The students remembered and enjoyed old favorite Braille games, Braille Twister and
Oddball. This year they also played Red Light Green Light while using their canes. They went on
two scavenger hunts, one individually, using their canes to locate objects strategically placed in the
walking path. The other scavenger hunt required them to locate specific sounds in the
environment. This was played as two-person teams. We used a stove to cook playdough colored
and scented with flavored Kool-Aid. They also measured, mixed, and cooked Rice Krispy treats
and No-Bake Cookies. Some students remembered to take home their Braille and print recipes for
No-Bakes, Rice Krispy Treats, and playdough, while others said they had forgotten and requested
that the teachers email the recipes. We practiced pouring wet and dry ingredients and spreading
butter, peanut butter, and frosting.
Beginners practiced reading, forming and writing the Braille alphabet in several ways,
from manipulation of tennis balls in a muffin tin to eating Braille in the form of Tasty Dots. A
competent Braille reader (adult volunteer) read a Braille book to the children each day. Four of the
six students practiced again this year as last, writing with a slate and stylus. Students wrote a
journal entry about each day’s events at the end of each afternoon.
Students used one of the new currency readers from the Bureau of Printing and Engraving
to identify paper money and renewed their skills to identify coins correctly. Since most learning
center lessons were completed in the main school building, we had to return to one of the school
dormitories to cook. So for several days, when we finally practiced cardinal directions, students
listened to an i-Phone Compass telling them their initial direction of movement. Then they
practiced cardinal directions as we traveled and in the classrooms. Students thanked all adult
volunteers who helped with BELL, both those present onsite and those who Brailled flashcards,
donated food, took pictures of activities, helped with transportation, etc. They Brailled thank you
cards and decorated them as best the glued-on decorations would hold.
We visited the Center of Science and Industry (COSI) in Columbus for the entire day on
Tuesday, July 22. We swam in the OSSB swimming pool in the afternoon of July 23 and walked to
aa bus stop and took the bus to McDonald’s restaurant for lunch on Friday, August 1, the last day
of the program. Each student was given a $10 bill to order and pay for his/her lunch at
McDonald’s. After lunch we walked to the bus stop and rode the COTA bus back to the school.
During the last afternoon students listened to A Picture Book of Louis Braille and ate chocolate or
vanilla cupcakes decorated with words spelled in M&M Braille dots: “Happy birthday Louis
Braille, Love, BELL.” They also used wooden spoons to whack and break a piñata, created and
donated by Aliyah Johnson, daughter of Shelbi Hindel.
When we host a BELL program here in Ohio, we all finish feeling exhausted, and parents
report that the students sleep well at night too. But it’s that good kind of tired; you know—the kind
that leaves you with the feeling that you have accomplished something good and worthwhile.
Marianne Denning: We held our second BELL camp during the weeks of July 21 and 28.
We had six students who were between first and sixth grades. Four students attended camp last
year, and they had matured a lot. Their Braille reading and writing skills also improved. We tried
to challenge them again this year. The two new students were also experienced Braille readers.
We did three activities every day: Bell ringers, singing “Ring My Bell” and the "Braille
Rap Song," and reading a book after lunch. Some of our students helped us read the books. Some
of the highlights included a trip to COSI, swimming, riding public transportation to MacDonald's
to order lunch, and a Louis Braille birthday party that included breaking open a piñata.
We tried to work with students based on skill level. Some students were beginning to read
and write Braille, and others had several years of Braille reading and writing experience. The
volunteers were terrific working with each student. All camp activities were held at the Ohio State
School for the Blind. Most activities were in the main classroom building, and we went to a cottage
for lunch. The students prepared lunch one day, made playdough, and No-Bake Cookies and Rice
Krispie Treats using the stove.
Each student walked with a blind adult between the classroom building and the cottage.
This helped teach them that blind people are capable of independent travel. We had volunteers
who worked during the camp and others who braillled materials for the camp. This camp would
not have been possible without the volunteers, and we hope others will consider volunteering next
Aleeha Dudley: This year I had the pleasure of volunteering for the Braille Enrichment
for Literacy and Learning (BELL) program for a second time. I knew that these two weeks would
be exhausting but never expected the tremendous amount of difference I was about to see made in
these children’s lives. I first met our group of students bright and early Monday morning. Those
returning from the previous year were excited to see us again, and the new students seemed a bit
nervous, but that quickly changed. As we led these students through various activities to
strengthen their skills, it was clear that we were working with an incredibly intelligent and diverse
group. They were ready and eager to learn. Even when they were afraid to touch something while
cooking, for example, they never gave up.
Each student had his or her own unique set of strengths and weaknesses, which were
always being built on throughout the program. It was particularly special to watch these children
explore COSI, take a city bus for perhaps the first time, order their own food, and find out for
themselves what independence means. Some learned that blind people could be cooks, teachers,
and anything they desired to be. Some learned that it was OK and safe to travel with a blind adult.
Each moment brought a smile to my face as I helped to make these students have the time of their
lives. Our young people are truly the future of the NFB. I am proud to say that I have made and will
continue to make that future bright by assisting with this fantastic program.
Deborah Kendrick: I love learning. I love when I am learning, when I see someone else
learning, when I realize that a whole batch of people I care about are learning together; and that is
perhaps the best way to summarize our 2014 BELL program in Ohio.
Every one of us was learning every day. Sure, the amazing group of kids participating this
year were all learning. They were learning Braille or improving Braille skills; they were learning
to use their white canes and other senses to keep track of themselves and their belongings; they
were learning to try new things (jumping in the swimming pool, spreading peanut butter, reading
Braille with two hands instead of only one); and they were learning that there is just about nothing
blind people can’t do!
But we adults were learning too. Seven totally blind people living together in one place has
no particularly remarkable elements to it, except perhaps our combined learning to recognize that
each of us had individual approaches to getting things done. We were learning how to
communicate efficiently with one another. (Our words rather than gestures quickly conveyed the
location of such object as furniture rearranged, teaching tools, household products, children, and
dogs. We learned to work with the combined strengths among us. (Barbara’s patience, for
example, and Debbie’s absolute calm are both traits I covet!)
Each day delivered a collection of mental photos I will carry in my imagination for some
time to come. One child’s lyrical reading.--Another child’s joy at splashing in the pool.--Two
children engaged in hilarious word play conversation over lunch. --The sweetness of a little boy
making (and breaking) his candy necklace, and his joy when I re-gifted the one he made for
me.--Kids playing red light, green light with their canes, making their own lunches, exuberantly
adding one more “bell ringer" to the list.—And, best of all perhaps, kids catching on with the
profound “aha” that, even though we’re grown-ups, we can’t see either, so a) you need to “peep” to
let others know your location and, b) you can grow up to do anything you want to do.
And alongside these visual images are plenty of aural ones: the songs we sang, bells we
rang, and the joy in learning and laughing that has many of us eager already for BELL 2015.
Macy McClain: This year was my first year volunteering at the Braille Enrichment for
Literacy and Learning (BELL) program. The two-week program was enjoyable for students and
staff alike. From pouring water to learning more about the Braille code, students gained skills in
reading and writing, daily living skills, and orientation and mobility. I am very proud of the
progress they’ve made, and hope they’ll make more progress during the school year. I don’t have a
favorite student; all of them are my favorites in their own ways. From seven-year-old MaKenzie
Love, who affectionately calls me “Miss Macy," to Aidan Carter, who repeatedly sang “You’re a
Fake One, King Eric!”), and many in between, I enjoyed working with all of them. I also enjoyed
getting to know more about the staff during the program. By the end of each week, we had many
Bell Ringers.
Congratulations to the students on a job well done; keep working hard, and we’ll see you
next year. Thank you to the parents for entrusting your children to us during these two weeks.
We’re very proud of them and hope that you have high expectations for them as they journey into
the rest of their lives. Eric Duffy coordinated the entire event, and I can’t thank him enough for
allowing me to be a part of this awesome experience. Marianne Denning and Debbie Baker were
excellent teachers; they were great to work with and get to know better. Shelly McCoy and Elli
Kalas, two teachers for the visually impaired in the Columbus area who gave us some timeand
were great to work with, and the kids loved them.
There are more people than just the core teachers, coordinators, etc .,that I should thank. David
Cohen, Paul and Bernie Dressell, Colleen Roth, and others devoted their time and energy to
Brailling the cards for kids to learn and practice reading. Thanks to all of you for what you do. This
was definitely an experience that I’ll keep with me. I really hope to do this again next year.
We were very grateful to OSSB for use of its facility for BELL this year. Two teachers
made room for us in their classrooms. We tried to return things to their original condition from
before we moved in with our books, supplies, and equipment. We had a new appreciation for the
sacrifices teachers make, after two weeks of sitting in tiny chairs. It's a long way down to those
chairs and even further back up again.
Our plan has always been to serve a nourishing and tasty lunch each day to the students and
staff. We learned to our dismay on the Friday before the beginning of BELL that the kitchen we
would be using to prepare lunch was the one in the dormitory that we used. We had to locate extra
tables and chairs to put up and take down each day to seat up to sixteen people. Shelbi Hindel was
the chief cook, and somehow she coped with almost no counter space and only a standard
refrigerator. We did have a functioning microwave and a real stove, which was an improvement
over last year. As for the quality of the food, MaKenzie said it best when she announced that Miss
Shelbi and Miss Annette were "the best cooks I know."
We came away from BELL again this year exhausted but dazzled by the skill and
dedication of the teachers and Eric Duffy's calm efficiency and delightful way with the children as
director of the program. They all obviously loved him and loved teasing him. But most of all we
were touched and impressed by the children. Several of them were amazingly good Braille readers.
The courage and determination of those with additional disabilities was inspiring. We can only
hope that word of this program will spread. It is a shame that we don't have to turn students away at
the door. So spread the word. The bells will be ringing in Ohio again next year.
If you or a friend would like to remember the National Federation of the Blind of Ohio in your will,
you can do so by employing the following language:
“I give, devise, and bequeath unto the Ohio Council of the Blind dba National Federation of the
Blind of Ohio, P.O. Box 82055, Columbus, Ohio 43202, an Ohio nonprofit corporation, the sum of
(or “
percent of my net estate” or “The following stocks and
) to be used for its worthy purposes on behalf of blind persons.”
Reflections of a White Cane Guy
by David Cohen
Editor's note: David Cohen is a longtime Federationist. When he was young, we helped
him get to BLIND Incorporated in Minneapolis for blindness training, and he has been putting that
training to good use ever since. He now lives in the greater Dayton area again. He recently sent a
very funny post to the Ohio listserv. We asked him to expand a bit on that reflection for the
newsletter. His thoughts are amusing, but they also provide an insight into the reflections and
reactions of a competent blind person with an irreverent sense of humor. This is what he wrote:
Yesterday afternoon I walked to a shopping center/mall near my home in Kettering to buy
some bed sheets. After making my purchase, I decided to check for a DVD title at another store
inside the mall called Second & Charles, a used book, music, and movie place. I turned into the
store and heard a woman’s voice saying hello to me.
“Hi, Second & Charles?” I asked, raising my eyebrows to her for confirmation.
“Yes,” she said; “You’ve got it.”
“Do you work here?” I asked.
She said, "No," so I continued in the direction of the main customer service counter, not
breaking stride. From behind me the woman who’d greeted me was giving me the standard audible
play-by-play, less the crowd noise.“Right, now left," etc.
I turned to face her and smiled, mouthing the words “I’m okay, thanks.” You got to handle
the public sometimes with kid gloves, as y’all probably know.
I continued on my way. From behind me this woman called to me, “I gotcha. My
ex-husband is a white cane guy.”
I laughed aloud, and without turning held my left arm up with a thumb’s up sign for her to
see. I can do without all the euphemisms spoken to avoid saying "blind." Still, if the word "blind"
was good enough for the Bible, the Quran, the Hindu Vedas, etc., shouldn’t it be good enough for
speakers today? But this white cane guy label I can really get used to this. I like it. I can see it
working for me.
“What’s your sign? You act like a Virgo.”
“Nope, nope. I’m a WCG [white cane guy].” "SingleWCG seeking SWF {single white
female}. must like dogs, fish fries, college football, and Braille literacy."
“Oh there’s a white cane guy at our office. I know exactly what you’re talking about."
Text message: LOL! [laughing out loud] BTW [By the way] the WCG [white cane guy]
called, LVM [leave a voicemail]. RE: Friday BYOB. [bring your own bottle].
So White Cane Guy leaves the mall with sack containing bed sheets and a DVD purchase
of Sean Penn’s All the King's Men in hand. This mini-mall has a sidewalk extending the entire
width of the front of the building, but the sidewalk is not even close to being a straight shot. The
pathway is also cluttered with anything the designers salvaged after the project’s completion. This
sidewalk also has more curves than a full Braille cell, so I walk in the frontage road along the curb,
shorelining the outer edge of the sidewalk.
I am several shop door entrances along my shorelining route and have just passed another
because I hear the squeaking hinges of one of these glass doors opening behind me, and a man’s
voice calls to me, “You’re in the street, you know that, right?" he says, stating the obvious. I know
that as a blind person I am a living message board for postings of the obvious and have learned to
handle this maturely 90 percent of the time. “The sun is out; that’s my foot you’re standing on; the
bus is here; I’m standing in front of you now; it’s raining; you’re breathing and standing
upright….that’s Braille; you have a pulse.”
Again I raise my left arm, plastic sack in hand. I turn my head slightly and, again smiling,
tell the fella, who is watching me as if I’m the end of a parade route “There are fewer obstacles out
"No kidding," the fella cries out with surprise, and the sound of his voice is delighted with
this insight on my behalf. “Oh yeah? you’re right ha ha ha ha,” and again White Cane Guy has
brought a bit of pleasure into the life of Joe Citizen, and maybe, just maybe I’ll meet him again
some day.
Personally I think it is very difficult to communicate with the many unknowns who enter
my sphere of being. I alluded to this earlier when I said sometimes I’ve got to handle people with
kid gloves. It is such a fine line to walk when so many situations like this one imply and assume
minute examination, so routinely you know you’re being watched with intrigue. I don’t think folk
realize that I know by their sound and movement that they are watching me, and that such focused
attention on me walking through a tile-floored mall or looking for a urinal in the men’s room is like
the pressure of shooting free throws in March during the NCAA college basketball tournament
with 20,000 voices screaming at you when you’re team is down two points and only seconds
remain on the game clock. Seriously, I think blind people and disabled people in general should be
highlighted on ESPN for all that we do so silently as such pertains to what the professional
sporting experts call “being in the zone,” not to mention handling your emotions in hostile
environments as the sporting vernacular often states is necessary.
The depth of the mall parking lot extends northwards to my right side and beyond its sparse
occupancy I can hear the street I will eventually need to cross. This is my landmark, and, no matter
how out of the zone I get, I can always reorient myself by listening for the ever-present sound of
this heavily-traveled road in Kettering.
But again allow me to digress for a personal reason and say that I do not, do not like it when
someone tells me or asks me if I am disoriented or lost. I’m not, although I may acquiesce and say
"yes mam" or "yes sir, I am" in order to keep the world moving, but what I am telling myself is that
I am only temporarily misplaced like carkeys or a smartphone. Blindness is, like our organization
has said for many decades, a nuisance, and well you know this. Here’s the deal. I’m shorelining the
curb of the sidewalk at the front of the shopping mall. The incoming traffic from the main road and
the exiting shoppers with their groceries from Trader Joe’s and tennis shoes from New Balance are
driving in both directions slowly to my immediate right side, and I need to get across this access
frontage road and through the parking lot to the sidewalk along the main road. Unfortunately there
is no pedestrian sidewalk extending through the parking lot, and my hot air balloon is at home in
the garage—the cloth ripped by the clawed feet of a crow who perched atop me when I floated over
the local amphitheater to listen to Jackson Browne perform several years ago. But this is no
problem because at the end of this sidewalk curb there is a stop sign for the access frontage road. In
fact there is a four-way stop here, so I can put it on cruise control and listen ahead for engines
rolling to a stop and then moderately accelerating after the pause to know where I need to be.
Voila! White Cane Guy is planning his work and working his plan.
“Oh I am so fortunate to have received good training and to have experienced the
know-how of others before me who were doing then what I wanted to do and am doing now,” I
think to myself. I’m not kidding. On my worst days I can if I am able to muster the attitudinal
strength, accentuate the positive, eliminate the negative, and latch onto the affirmative as Johnny
Mercer sang. I cannot always find and do this, but at least I know it’s possible, and I have my
memories to serve in this capacity if I feed them properly.
So I’m marveling in my aptitude for cane travel, and my cane tip is metronomically playing
the soundtrack to my travels. I’ve found the four-way stop thanks to one automobile’s exit route,
and I’ve followed this vehicle’s trajectory of departing sound all the way to the sidewalk along the
busy road. I’m asking myself if I should wash the sheets first or do the man thing and simply
spread ‘em and do this when absolutely necessary. The answer comes to me in 1.5 seconds.
I arrive at my corner mentally ready to listen for and align myself to the passing traffic at
this intersection of four lanes north and south and four lanes east and west each direction also
engineered with a filter lane, so the width is actually five lanes. I stand and listen… listen… I am
listening, yes listening and a crow flies overhead and announces itself as Jimmy Cagney.
“Huh” I thinks to myself, “This light sure is taking a long time today.” I listen to one, two,
three, six cars roll up, stop California style, and accelerate around the corner in front of me. “The
traffic light must be out of order,” I tell myself because White Cane Guy is not only omnipotent,
he’s a traffic engineer on his day off. A seventh car rolls up next to me and stops, then accelerates,
and the cross traffic in front of me continues passing at forty MPH.
“The sun! Where is my sun?” my internal problem-solving voice asks, and I turn around
only to realize it's clouded over since I last knew where the heck I was and began daydreaming
about my White-Cane-Guy aptitude.
Another car rolls up next to me, and now White Cane Guy is going to interact with
citizenry. I turn to my left to face the paused vehicle and make the universal hand-and-arm motion
for someone to roll his or her window down, but I remember that I have been here forty-four
winters and that this one-time universally recognized signal may be lost on someone of the
everything-electronic world, or worse, the hand gesture may suggest something offensive to
someone visiting the Kettering Towne & Country Mall from one of the other six continents. For all
I know, I might be signaling like a prostitute does in Paraguay and end up with two halves of a
broken cane and a blackened eye and still waiting to cross this street.
Instead I lean into the space between myself and the idling car and mouth words silently in
just the same way I did inside Second and Charles when the unknown woman declared me White
Cane Guy. “Is the traffic light out of order?” I mouth, pointing my outstretched arm up into the air
where my mind has told me most certainly the traffic light should be hanging. The car’s tires
squeal twice front to back and spit gravel, and I’m wondering how ridiculous I look to the
passerbys still moving at forty MPH on the other side of the street.
“Something’s wrong here,” I finally admit. “Anything’s possible. White Cane Guy has
walked into the women’s restroom before, and he’s also walked past his own driveway,” I remind
I gather my secret strength–my brain–and I really tune in to my surroundings. Wait a
bloody second here. I’ve awakened. There’s no persistent ringing of the superfluous
street-crossing signal which White Cane Guy knows to be an invention of the same conspiracy
which put Braille on drive-thru ATM machines and limited Braille on McDonald’s drink lids and
probably funded the training of the rehab counselor who asked me, “What is that thing” when I
pulled my slate and stylus from my pocket to write down his office information twenty-five years
“I’m south of where I need to be,” my brain and true Orient Express tells me. Oh joy, joy,
joy, joy and joy. I win again! Temporarily misplaced just like any sighted person who exits the mall
and cannot remember where the car is parked. I must have been curving westward. “That crow was
telling me this, and I did not listen. That crow has been watching me silently from above for years,
observing me and learning how a blind person does what a blind person does and therefore has
never needed to ask me questions for which answering the obvious makes no sense other than to
communicate the simple truth that what White Cane Guy does is the only answer to all mysteries
I’m two blocks south of where I need to be, and I get on with it. I reach the corner where I
believed I was, and on my approach I’m hearing the familiar traffic signal noise and send out
apologies and gratitude to the conspirators who inadvertently gave a practical use for my ears after
NFB of Ohio 2014 Scholarship Winners
by Deborah Kendrick
Editor's note: Deborah Kendrick chairs the NFB of Ohio Scholarship Committee.
Below she introduces the 2014 scholarship winners. This is what she says:
All too often the general public thinks of blind people as individuals to be recipients of
volunteer assistance. Certainly many of us are grateful for the volunteers who help us do what we
need or want to do by driving, reading, or assisting us in other ways. But many blind people are
also active volunteers themselves–giving generously of their time and talent to help others–and our
three 2014 NFB Ohio scholarship winners are excellent examples.
Elif Emir Oksuz came to this country with her husband in 2012, both on grants from their
native Turkey, to pursue advanced degrees. Elif immediately found the National Federation of the
Blind, and her enthusiasm at what she has found is infectious.
Elif is finishing a master’s degree in counseling at Xavier University and will begin work
on her doctorate in counselor education at the university of Cincinnati at the end of 2014. She has
been so elated at the abundant information found in such publications as the Braille Monitor and
Accessworld that she, together with a blind friend in Turkey, has founded an online magazine in the
Turkish language. What appear there areas Elif’s own translations of articles she reads in English
from the above publications. She found like-minded independent blind people here in the U.S., and
she is generously sharing what she learns here with her blind colleagues in her native land.
Jonathan Thomas is a beginning freshman at Wright State University, planning to major in
psychology. When asked what he might do with a single wish, his immediate response was to end
world hunger. For three years now he has participated in a global fundraiser called the 30 Hour
Famine. His zealous commitment to social justice and helping those less fortunate in the world
sparked a shoe drive during his senior year at Fairfield High school. Called Shoes for Hunger, his
campaign collected over 3,600 pairs of shoes, which were then shipped to countries where
shoelessness and poverty have led to the loss of many lives.
Kaiti Shelton is of course known to many of us already for her dedicated work as president
of the Ohio Association of Blind Students, our NFB Ohio student division. Since winning the NFB
of Ohio scholarship in 2012, she has been active in both our state and national student divisions, as
well as activity in numerous student organizations at the University of Dayton where she is a junior
working toward her bachelor’s degree in music therapy. Kaiti volunteered in the Ohio BELL
program in 2013 and was honored as a youth volunteer during high school for her work with blind
children at the Cincinnati Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired.
All of these students participate in a wide variety of organizations, volunteering their time,
teaching others what it means to be blind and living fully. Add to that that each of them has a
record of academic excellence, and you will join with me in celebrating our 2014 NFB of Ohio
Scholarship class.
The Road Lies Ahead: Empowering Blind Youth Through a New Camp Experience
by Kaiti Shelton
Editor's note: Kaiti Shelton is president of the Ohio Association of Blind Students and a
2014 NFB of Ohio scholarship winner. The following is an interesting variation of the old standard
what-I-did-this-summer essay. This is what she says:
On August 1 I embarked on a trip to Michigan to serve as a camp counselor at a unique
pilot program called "The Road Lies Ahead." First conceptualized by Students of the Braille Beats
Fine Arts Program and sponsored by Blind Vision Inc. and World Access for the Blind, the Road
Lies Ahead offered fun and engaging training in perceptual mobility through hiking, games, and
traditional camp experiences to emphasize daily living skills. Daniel Kish, founder of World
Access for the Blind and a certified orientation and mobility specialist who is also blind himself,
served as the director of the program and also taught students how to use flash sonar techniques.
The pilot program consisted of two age-differentiated sessions, each lasting four days. The
first session had two younger students, and both worked on basic cane techniques using their ears
to analyze what was going on around them and on independence in general camp life, including
getting their own food at meal times and tying shoelaces. The second group had five campers
between the ages of fifteen and eighteen and worked on more advanced techniques using flash
sonar to play various games.
One of the most engaging aspects of the program was the opportunity the participants had
to experience adapting activities to support their own strengths. For example, on the first day the
staff and students of the program made play swords by taping plastic grocery bags on both ends of
pool noodles. The bags created sound whenever the pool noodle was swung through the air, and
thus made the swords audible. We then practiced fencing in an open field so students could hear
where sounds were coming from to dodge and block THEM. Another game that was invented by
the students and one instructor in the first session was a modified version of Capture the Flag
called Black Ops. Basing it on a version of hide and seek and a water pistol game, students
combined the elements of both these games into a game of stealth and strategy. Each team had an
audible flag, which in our case were IPhones playing music in protective Ziploc bags. They set up
camp at opposite sides of a grove of trees in the woods. The typical rules of Capture the Flag
applied, but players could also be frozen if someone from the opposite team hit them with water
from their pistol or managed to hit them with the end of a pool noodle when we chose to play a dry
version with the swords. It was a lot of fun and taught students skills, including aiming and
targeting sounds. Many of the students had never had an opportunity to aim at a target before, so
something as simple as shooting a water gun was a new experience for them too.
My favorite game that we devised was a spin-off of Quidditch from the popular Harry
Potter series. Much like a combination of soccer and tag, Quidditch gave students opportunities to
use their ears while playing a fun and complex game. Each team had a keeper, at least one chaser,
and a seeker, just like in the Harry Potter novels. A soccer ball loosely tied in a plastic grocery bag
served as our quaffle, and the chasers would try to kick the quaffle down-field towards the
opposing team’s goal. Meanwhile, the seekers would scour the field for a player who would make
a clicking sound, characteristic of Daniel Kish’s flash sonar technique. The game was also
complete with human bludgers, who knocked into the chasers, keepers, and even the snitch at
times to make the game realistic. The games provided great amusement and fun for all and
encouraged all campers to use and hone their listening and perceptual skills.
The program was not just fun and games. After dinner the campers were exposed to a
variety of tactile maps and a tactile globe and were taught how to use compasses for navigation.
The directors of Camp Tuhsmeheta, the site of our program, were gracious enough to teach all
campers and staff how to extinguish a fire propperly. Skills such as pouring glasses of milk and
serving from a buffet were covered at meals. At the end of each session campers were taught ways
to pack their suitcases properly to go home and were taught to be responsible for finding any
misplaced items in the cabins. Nevertheless, the students seemed to enjoy even the more practical
activities they could use in their studies at school. Several staff members eagerly became engaged
when our youngest camper, age nine, declared that he wanted to disassemble the entire Jernigan
map of the United States and put it back together again. It was a scramble to get the U.S. back into
shape before the student’s early bedtime, but he enjoyed it a lot and even found the correct
placement of a few states along the way.
Students were also exposed to regulation sports, which they could participate in. On the
last day of the second session students scaled a forty-foot climbing tower and rappelled down. The
camp also boasted a regulation Showdown table, which quickly became a favorite attraction for
students and staff alike. Showdown, a sport similar to air hockey or table tennis and regulated by
the International Blind Sports Federation, is played under sleepshades using wooden paddles to hit
a ball with BBs inside away from a player’s goal. The game was perfect for the program since it
required players to listen for the direction in which the ball was coming and quickly aim their
paddle to knock the ball to their opponent’s side of the table. Play was so intense between staff
members when the game was first introduced that the Showdown ball was broken and needed to be
replaced by the program. Once the broken ball had been replaced and the second session of
campers had arrived, play resumed in tournament style between campers and counselors.
Additionally, some campers experienced for the first time hiking in the woods with
compasses for navigation and also learned to read engraved print so that they could read signs
announcing trail numbers, arrows pointing to different locations around camp, and building
names. Upon learning that the camp lacked a tactile map that could be used by other blind
campers, staff and students also set out to create a tactile map that could be given to the camp’s
director for future display and use. This activity required students to organize the location of
buildings and locales in their heads and so exercised spatial awareness and memory while giving
back to the camp site.
Through it all each student learned new skills, gained a sense of empowerment, and had
fun. Each had his or her own small victories throughout the sessions. One student who attends a
school for the blind in Florida and was not used to a high level of independence among blind
people kept remarking on the things he had never done with a group of blind people before. Other
students and counselors rediscovered the joys of being outside, I being among them. As someone
who has not particularly favored sports since my childhood, I was surprised to find how much I
enjoyed running around the Quidditch pitch, aiming at my friends and campers with a water pistol,
and charging other counselors in a renegade sparring session with the audible swords. It reminded
me why I used to enjoy summer camp so much when I was the age of the campers at the program,
and I marveled at how much more these kids enjoyed sports and the outdoors because of the
opportunities presented to them this summer. I hope the students left feeling empowered and
excited to come up with their own adaptations to games, to explore the world around them through
sound and cane travel, and to feel positive about what it means to be blind and know what their
capabilities really are.
Flash sonar is a unique way to perceive the world through sound. The sounds are produced
by making a sharp click of the tongue, but one can also rely on other, natural sounds for feedback.
The clicking is mainly to elicit sound responses from objects which typically do not produce an
audible noise or objects which are farther away than a cane’s reach. At ten feet away, a click in the
woods might alert me to a nearby tree or even the person hiking in front of me. It can be useful in
judging proximity to buildings and can also perceive differences in an object’s density, size, or
shape if proper techniques are applied.
I began receiving flash sonar training from Daniel Kish at the Braille Beats Fine Arts
Program in 2008 and have been eager to hone my skills ever since. It has been very helpful in
activities such as marching band, where few blind students march in competitive settings without
the aid of a guide or another student to move from position to position on the field. A woman in
Canada has trained herself to use flash sonar while horseback riding, and a team of experienced
flash sonar users known as “Team Bat” is known for mountain biking, independent of sighted
assistance, scanning for objects in their path as they ride. Between sessions I was able to work to
hone my own flash sonar skills and reached the point where at eighteen inches I could tell the
difference between a business card and a debit card based on the density and hardness of the
surface of both objects. It is another useful tool to have in one’s mobility training tool box.
The success of the pilot program has prompted a second year to take place at Camp
Tuhsmeheta in Greenville, Michigan, in the summer of 2015. The camp is tentatively scheduled
for either the third and fourth weekends of July or the fourth weekend of July and the first weekend
of August, elongating each session for younger and older campers to a week apiece. Anyone
interested in learning more about the Road Lies Ahead for next summer may contact me, and I will
be happy to put you in touch with the program’s directors. I would likely recommend the
experience to any parent or student interested in improving orientation and mobility skills, and I
can’t wait to see the program become bigger and better in the years to come.
Why Braille?
by Deborah Kendrick
Editor's Note: Deborah Kendrick is a member of the NFB of Ohio's board of directors and
president of the NFB of Cincinnati. She is also an experienced user and teacher of Braille. We
asked her to summarize the arguments for Braille that the panelists gave at a recent workshop for
BSVI counselors. This is what she wrote:
Answers supplied by BSVI counselors recently in a brief survey regarding their attitudes
toward Braille prompted me to weep. I didn’t, though. Their attitudes are misguided. But they are
the misguided attitudes rooted in good intentions. We blind people have not spent sufficient time
providing them with the information they need, and that is what I commit to doing until the
numbers of Braille-literate (and subsequently the numbers of employed) blind Ohioans increase.
Very few counselors offer Braille to their consumers who are new to vision loss. Why?
Mostly they believe it to be unnecessary due to technological advances and too difficult to learn.
These are myths rooted in rumor rather than fact, and, while directing our attention
elsewhere, we have not been fervent enough, constant enough to dispel and put them to rest.
I had the opportunity to speak to Ohio’s BSVI counselors at a workshop in August (along with
three other adults who use Braille), and here are some of the facts we addressed in that
Braille Means Jobs
Although 70 percent of working-age blind and low-vision adults are still without jobs, 85
to 90 percent of those lucky enough to hold jobs are users of Braille. If you doubt this, count the
blind people working in any group you know, and you will find proof of this statistic again and
Replace by Technology
Braille has not been replaced by “technology.” By this statement well-intentioned
naysayers are probably referring to technology that speaks. While screen readers are essential to
efficient management of electronic data, many blind professionals actually access that information
via a combination of speech and magnification or speech and Braille. Sighted people love
technology too, and they too have devices that talk. That talking technology has not replaced the
need to see certain words at a glance or put down certain words in a flash for your own personal
retrieval. All of those ordinary ways in which a sighted person uses print, ways as intrinsic and
routine as breathing and ways not involving technology, are the same kinds of needs that spell
independence for the Braille user.
Examples: Braille labels on spices, cooking ingredients, electronics chargers, hand tools,
small components of an art or craft hobby, file folders, or household products. How does a blind
persondistinguish the file folder containing his 2014 bank statements from the file folder
containing drawings made by a grandchild? How does a blind person know which bottle contains
insect spray and which furniture polish? How does a blind person pull the desired size knitting
needle or socket wrench from an assortment? How does a blind executive refer to his agenda? Or
blind Girl Scout leader to her song lyrics?
Braille is the answer to these and millions of other mundane situations where the only
independent path to success is a few written words. Without Braille in such situations, that same
competent blind person is on hold until someone else’s sight is available.
Who Can Learn?
Braille is not the rocket-science-caliber code that some fancy it to be. It is comprised of
sixty-three different characters (the number of permutations available when beginning with a
six-dot cell). Yes, learning to use those sixty-three symbols according to the rules takes some
study, but so does learning the ABC’s of print. (Some would argue that print, with its infinite fonts
and styles is far more difficult. Braille, after all, has its sixty-three shapes that never change.)
I personally have taught people from the age of six to sixty-six to read and write Braille,
and I have been acquainted with people both older and younger than those years who have become
fluent. In approximately four months, assuming that the student is meeting with a competent
instructor twice a week and given significant practice assignments between meetings, most
individuals of any age can become fluent.
In half that time, an individual could at least become familiar with basic Grade 1 Braille
(alphabet and punctuation marks only), which at least enables the individual to label items, note a
phone number for independent access, or make a list of bullet points for presentation.
Connecting the Dots with Attitude
For many adults losing vision and wanting to work, the BSVI counselor is the first expert
encountered. Attitude is everything. If you believe your life will continue and be full without sight,
it will be. If you believe you can continue to work, you can. And if you believe that reading and
writing now depend upon learning a new system, a tactile system of reading and writing, well then,
you will learn.
If the adult in transition from sight to blindness is asked what she needs, chances are that
she simply won’t yet know what she needs and certainly won’t know the power of Braille. If the
new guide whom she now trusts to tell her, her BSVI counselor, presents the facts above and
demonstrates a belief in Braille, she will learn.
So…Why Not Braille?
My challenge to counselors and rehabilitation professionals everywhere is this: encourage
and support the use of Braille. Operate with the presumption that, if one needs BSVI services, one
of those services will be Braille unless the consumer chooses not to learn it. If counselors believe
that all blind people should learn Braille in the same way that sighted people should learn print, we
will seethose unemployment statistics plummet!
Buckeye Briefs
Hetlioz Update: In the spring 2014 issue of the Buckeye Bulletin, Eric Duffy wrote about a
new medication called Hetlioz marketed by Vanda. This medication treats the non-twenty-four
sleep-wake disorder experienced by many blind people. Here is his brief report on his experience
with the medication:
In the article I said that I thought I would be one of the first people in the country to get the
medication. I think thdat I was, despite encountering some obstacles along the way. Although my
doctor assured me that he would prescribe the medication when it came to market, another dƒoctor
was seeing his patients when I reported that Hetlioz was available and requested the promised
prescription. That doctor said she was uncomfortable prescribing a medication that was so new.
She asked if I was willing to go to a sleep clinic. I told her that I was not because I had already been
to a sleep clinic and undergone a variety of tests.
To make a long story short, I eventually saw the doctor who promised the prescription. He
sent the promised scrip to Walgreen's pharmacy. Little did I know that it had to go to the
Walgreen's specialty pharmacy and that a lot more paperwork had to be done. In late July I finally
got the call saying my medicine was being shipped. I took my first pill on August 4. The
instructions say the medication should be taken at the same time each night. I take it shortly before
11:00 p.m., one hour before bedtime. On the first night I fell asleep a little more than an hour after
taking the pill. I woke up a few times but went back to sleep quickly. Since then I have had a few
days in which I have not experienced tiredness at all.
I think it is safe to say that my sleep cycle is improving, but the verdict is still out. Each
individual's circadian rhythm is different. It could be weeks or even months before Hetlioz has the
desired effect. I don't know what will happen as I continue to take the medication, but right now I
can say the prognosis looks good.
We have been deeply concerned about Cleveland chapter president and state board member
William Turner, who fell seriously ill this spring and is now recovering from the double
amputation of his feet. Here is a letter that he provided when I asked for an update on his condition:
Dear Ohio Federationists,
As many of you know, a couple of days after the 2014 Washington Seminar, I fell very ill.
Little did I know that, after rooming with our president and vice president, I would go missing in
action. So, if you see either of them, tell them I shall return—just a little humor.
For the last seven months I have been on one of the most powerful and challenging
journeys of my life. I had taken simple activities for granted. I never thought about routine, and I
became acquainted with patience the hard way. Never would I have thought my life would have
taken such a drastic and yet transcendent turn. Without going into too much detail, I will simply
say that it is good to be alive.
I was diagnosed with lupus in 2012, and the effects of this complicated disease are
crippling in many ways. It never alerts one to its attacks and does not discriminate in its
destructions. Therefore I must learn to do the most modest daily tasks differently with
accommodations and support. The progress is slow. But again, I am still alive! I have traveled from
hospital to rehab and back to hospital again for treatment and appointments. It has not been easy,
nor has it been pleasurable. However, I am optimistic and encouraged by the care and prognosis
that I have received from my team of physicians.
Please continue to keep me in your thoughts and prayers. If all is well, I will perhaps see
you at the state convention. I will be the one with a smile and a hug for all. I am currently residing
at Bradley Bay Health Center, 605 Bradley Ave., Bay Village, Ohio. My telephone number is (440)
Thank you again for your generosity, love, and support.
William H. Turner
The NFB of Springfield will host an informational meeting and membership recruitment
drive on Saturday, October 11, from 1:00—4:00 p.m. in the Gayer Room of the Clark County
Public Library, 201 S. Fountain Ave., Springfield, OH 45506.
The NFB of Lorain County will conduct its annual hike-a-thon on Saturday, October 4, in
the Metro Park. It is a five-K walk or run, and all are invited.
The NFB Scrip Ohio fundraising program continues to be an easy way to donate to the
National Federation of the Blind of Ohio without having to sell anything or take money out of your
pocket. Simply by purchasing gift cards for your favorite merchants and restaurants from
<www.shopwithscrip.com> you will donate a percentage of your purchase to the Ohio affiliate. To
sign up, visit the website shown above and use enrollment code 444D4FLD314L4.
We are delighted to announce that the STEM2U program taking place in May at COSI in
Columbus will include several Federationists. Elementary students MaKenzie Love and Andrew
Gallesby, both BELL students, are enrolled in the program. Lilly Pennington of Cincinnati has
been chosen as a high school mentor, and Elli Kalas will be an instructor. Congratulations to all
Emily Pennington, older sister of Lilly, received a $5,000 NFB scholarship at the NFB
convention in Orlando, Florida, in July. In addition to the scholarship, Emily received her trip to
Florida and an additional $2,000 in awards from Ray Kurzweil and Google as well as a Google
tablet computer. Emily was a tenBroek Fellow, which means that this was the second NFB
scholarship that she received. Congratulations.
Chapter-Building in Stark and Summit Counties: The National Federation of the Blind has
committed to building seventy-five new chapters and strengthening seventy-five existing chapters
or divisions in seventy-five days. The seventy-five days of action began on September 2 and will
end on November 16, the NFB's seventy-fourth birthday.
The National Federation of the Blind of Ohio has committed to working in Akron, canton,
and Columbus. Although strictly speaking we will not be starting a new chapter in Akron or
Canton, we are building from the ground up in both of these areas because both chapters have been
inactive for quite some time.
On Saturday, November 15, we will be hosting A Day of Empowerment for the Blind and
Visually Impaired at the Main Library in Canton. We will have dynamic speakers, new technology,
and light refreshments. Activities will begin at 10:30 a.m., and end at 3:00 p.m.
The library is located at 715 Market Avenue North in Canton. We will be in the McKinley
We are inviting the blind of Stark and Summit Counties to attend. We don't intend to
combine the chapters, but we want to take this opportunity to give the Summit County chapter a
shot in the arm. We want blind people in these counties to know that they too ccan live the lives
they want.
Activities Calendar
September 20, Deadline for Gavel Award reports and other award nominations
September 20, Fall board meeting, Worthington
October 1-31, Meet the Blind Month
October 4, Release of hotel room block
October 15, White Cane Safety Day
October 24, Preregistration deadline
October 24, Deadline for submitting resolutions
October 31, British Invasion Fundraiser
October 31-November 2, Convention of the NFB of Ohio, Worthington
November 16, Kick-off of the NFB's 75th anniversary celebration
December 1, Deadline for expressing interest in the Washington Seminar
January 4-11, Braille Literacy Week
January 26-28, Washington Seminar
March 31, National scholarship application deadline
May 1, Ohio scholarship application deadline
May 14-16, STEM2U at COSI
National Federation of the Blind of Ohio
2014 Convention Preregistration Form
Holiday Inn, Worthington
7007 North High Street October 31 – November 2
Please complete and return this form by October 18, even if someone else is reserving a
room for you. Mail the completed form and check made payable to NFB of Ohio for registration
and meal reservations to P.O. Box 82055, Columbus, OH 43202. Preconvention rates are
dependent on receipt of payment before the convention. If you are preregistering and buying
tickets for others, on the back of this form please list their names as they should appear on name
tags. All costs will be higher if you register at the convention. Ticketed activities are listed below.
Indicate the number of reservations for each event and total money for each.
Saturday NAPUB Breakfast: $13 ($16 at the door) ________ $____________
Saturday boxed lunch: $18 ($20 at the door)
Mark the number of lunches ordered for each activity:
_____Parents _____Seniors ____Ohio Association Of Guide Dog Users
Banquet: ______ $30 ______
($35 at the door)
Convention registration prior to convention: $15 _________ $_________
($25 at the door)
Total check enclosed:
Registrations or meal orders without payment will not be valid.
NAME: (for name tag) _______________________________________________
ADDRESS: ___________________________________________________________
CITY/STATE/ZIP: ____________________________________________________
TELEPHONE: ____________________EMAIL:_______________________________
I wish to make a donation (always appreciated) of $____________ to the National Federation of
the Blind of Ohio. My check is enclosed. (Make check payable to the NFB of Ohio.)