THE STYLUS

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Winter Issue December 2011 Vol. 4

The official publication of the American Council of the Blind of Oregon.
Published Quarterly
Edited by Mary L. Reid

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Kae Seth, President, ACB of O
Phone: (503) 282-0804
Email: kseth.acbo@gmail.com

James Edwards, Incoming President
Phone: (541) 404-8214
Email The President James Edwards

For more information about the American Council of the Blind of Oregon, you can go to our web page at: www.acboforegon.org

PRESIDENT’S MESSAGE

On a cold day in November, I am sitting at my desk, considering beginnings. Beginnings of things always promise positive ideas to me. Thus, next January, ACB of Oregon will have some new beginnings to look forward to as we prepare to move forward in fulfilling our mission of providing educational, economic and social opportunities to blind and visually-impaired children and adults across our state.

At our state convention held at the Mill Hotel, Casino and RV Park, members of the organization elected new officers to serve on the Board of the American Council of the Blind of Oregon. They are as follows: James Edwards, President; Leonard Kokel, First vice-president; Ron Whelchel, Second vice-president; Darian Slayton-Fleming, Secretary; Loretta Spahn, Treasurer.

We would like to thank Joan Hill for her tireless efforts in serving on the Board as an officer for many years. Her wisdom and timely questions kept us on track. We wish her the best, as she pursues other projects, and sincerely hope that she will continue to be of great assistance to us in the days ahead.

Also, we are saying a fond farewell and word of thanks to Bev Rushing who as many of you know served as state President of the Council for three terms, District Representative, and most recently, Secretary and membership chairperson of our organization. Bev worked tirelessly with great dedication and was always available for advice when I needed it.

It is most difficult for me to express how much I have appreciated the service of Bob Rushing as our Treasurer for over eighteen years. He had hoped to retire two years ago, but stepped in when Jan Chance, Treasurer, was unable to serve her tenure due to illness. Bob helped us weather some very difficult storms, and his foremost concern has been for the betterment of the ACB of O. Many of the sleepless nights and gray hairs that Bob has experienced were due to this organization, and we wholeheartedly believe he deserves a well-earned rest. May we appreciate all that he and Bev have done and wish them health, rest and blessings, as they continue to serve others.

As I mentioned in my last message to you, my future has taken an interesting direction; at the present, I am gearing up for completion of my first semester in graduate school. I am hoping that at the end of three years I will obtain a Master’s degree, and be prepared to become a Chaplain, working in hospitals or health-care facilities. Having the opportunity to serve as President of ACBO for three terms has helped shape this decision. I will be eternally grateful for those of you whom I have come to know as family. I look forward to new adventures, and I am eager to see the Council move forward.

My sincere hope is that we as an organization will have the fortitude to continue our goal of serving others and of bringing education, information and encouragement to the blind and visually-impaired persons in our state. As we have seen recently, hard economic times have forced our state to make drastic budget cuts which impact us all. We have seen the closure of the Oregon School for the Blind, and we have also seen considerable limitations placed upon the Oregon Commission for the Blind as it tries to fulfill its obligations to help blind and visually-impaired Oregonians seek employment and live successful, productive lives. We as an organization need to keep informed of the happenings of our Legislature with regards to the education and employment of blind Oregonians. May we never forget what we owe to blind children coming after us; may we keep reminding our State Officials that they must never forget that all blind children deserve an appropriate and equal education. Also, we must make certain that the elderly who are faced with loss of vision are being assisted and encouraged to seek help. We must be willing to reach out to the young college students who are seeking an education, enabling them to provide for themselves and their families. I sincerely hope that we can work as chapters to reach out to students via social media and through our university and college programs, letting them know about us. I hope that we will be willing to work together, bringing enthusiasm back to our affiliate by demonstrating what we can do. As you gather to celebrate the holiday season with family and friends, please know that Tony and I, along with Caddy and Faith our Guide dogs, wish you the most Blessed Holiday. May 2012 keep you hopeful, healthy and encouraged.

Take care my friends.

Sincerely: Kae L. Seth, President, American Council of the Blind of Oregon

LOOKING TO THE FUTURE

I want to sincerely thank the members of A.C.B. of Oregon for the privilege and honor of serving another term as President. This term, as with my previous term, will be focusing on improving public awareness of our organization and the work we do. I believe we need to increase our membership to sustain our organization. As members, every one of us needs to do all we can to help bring in new members to ensure our future. New members mean new ideas. New members mean more people who are willing to work for the good of A.C.B. of O. In these times, there is a growing trend of apathy toward joining social groups in our society, whether it is civic or advocacy groups; but we can't let that deter us.

Recently, I read an article written for the Washington Council of the Blind newsletter about a blind WCB member who had a chance conversation with a person at a bus stop. Initially, this person was annoyed because she didn't want to have another conversation with another stranger about how great it was that she could navigate on her own. But soon, she realized the stranger was seeking information on how to cope with her own ensuing loss of vision. From that conversation the blind individual developed an idea she called, "Each One Reach One". We can adopt that slogan to use as impetus for us to reach out to other people we may encounter to spread the word about A.C.B of O.

Reaching out can be intimidating sometimes, but it can be done as simply as a conversation in the market. Reaching out can happen in a group setting, or on an individual, one on one basis. There are scores of opportunities and places to spread the message of our organization! Your favorite restaurant, your hairdresser, shopping, relatives, the list is endless!

If we don't reach out to people, the future of our organization may be in jeopardy. Without A.C.B of O, who will advocate for the rights of the blind/visually impaired adults and children of Oregon? I am concerned the next years will be extremely challenging for blind/visually impaired Americans. We must stay strong! If Each One Can Reach One, we will continue to be a viable organization striving to assist Oregonians who are blind in making informed choices and decisions to achieve full inclusion and integration into society.

Let's all make an effort to help our organization grow. Reach out to others; you never know who may be just waiting and looking for help. I would really like to see accounts from members in upcoming Stylus newsletters about how you were able to reach out, and inform someone about our organization.

Our convention in Coos Bay was, in my opinion, a great success! Thanks to all who helped to make it what it was. Thanks to Kae Seth for the last two years of leadership. I truly enjoyed the very eloquent speech she gave at our banquet, as well as John Dashney's always entertaining presentation.

In addition to monitoring the Legislative body of our state government for issues which may concern us as blind Oregonians, we also need to monitor the issues surrounding the Oregon Commission for the Blind. There is always a constant danger of losing the Commission, not only because of budget cuts, but also because of the negative publicity which has recently been directed at the agency. Fortunately, I am constantly being updated by the President of the NFB of Oregon, as well as Randy Hauth, chairman of the Blind Managers elected committee, and by Joyce Green, a fellow former commissioner of the agency. Also, I will be keeping in contact with Patricia Kepler, our A.C.B of O representative. The Commission is extremely important to blind Oregonians … we can't afford to lose it!

I am looking forward to the next two years, doing my part for A.C.B of Oregon. We have some new board members for this upcoming term, and I am confident we can and will work together as a team for the good of our organization. And many thanks to the outgoing board members who have served us so well over the years, Bob and Bev Rushing, and Joan Hill.

As always, you can reach me by phone or e-mail if you have any concerns, questions or ideas.

Thank you, James Edwards, President, A.C.B. of Oregon.
(541) 404-8214
E-mail: jamese.acbo@gmail.com

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CHAPTER REPORTS

Dunes Park Chapter News

Due to health issues, our chapter activities were limited to attending the State Convention this fall and making donations to worthy causes. The Oral Hull Foundation and Kellie Osborne--a Stargards patient who needed travel money to treatment--each received a one-time gift from our chapter.

At our October meeting we welcomed new members: Phyllis Morgan, Jama and Mike Harris.

We are now meeting on the first Saturday of each month at 2:00 P.M in our local library conference room. We found it to be quiet and comfortable.

Respectfully submitted by Deb Nichols, President
Phone: (541) 603-1245
E-mail: dnichols.oregon@gmail.com

Klamath Chapter
By Loretta Spahn

Loretta Spahn and Joan Hill attended the National Convention in Reno. They made a report to the chapter at our September meeting. We heard speakers from other countries, businesses and sections of ACB. The legislative aspect is intense. The Social Networking opens up new ways to attract members. I was impressed with the talent and dedication of our members.

Joan Hill, Loretta Spahn and Barbara Carlson (chapter president) attended the State Convention of ACBO in October. Barbara was the primary speaker for our chapter with her views. She was able to meet other members, loved all the door prizes and more understood affiliate matters during the business meeting.

I am excited to start as State Treasurer in January and thank everyone in advance for their help. My first State Board Meeting will be in January, 2012.

The Klamath Chapter meets at a local restaurant once a month. Membership decided to keep doing this. Our President starts the meeting by asking a question or “what is your favorite ----?” This gives us an opportunity to get to know each other better.

During our November meeting our discussion focused on Oregon Commission for the Blind, ACB of O and Spokes. We had a visitor who was sorting this information. Dues are now at $10 for next year.

December meeting will include a white elephant exchange that should cost nothing for anyone and will be fun.

Lane County Council of the Blind
By Rob Cook, President
Rewritten by Mary Reid

Over the past several months meeting attendance and participation has declined significantly. The three members present at our November 15th meeting agreed that it was time to give up the struggle, in hopes that reorganization will take place in the near future. Once any outstanding bill(s) are paid any remaining balance in the chapter treasury will be turned over to the State Treasury.

Metro PDX
By Darian Fleming

Members of the Metro PDX Chapter have been busy throughout the summer and fall. With the hard work of Mary Reid, we sent a membership recruitment letter to people who are blind in the Portland area. We received several responses, and some of these people attended our October meeting. Others who responded would attend if we change our meeting time, which we voted to do in our November meeting. Beginning January, 2012 we will meet on the second Friday from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. We hope to include a meal or social activity during or after our get-togethers. And speaking of social get-togethers, we are planning a Holiday Social for December 2nd and inviting Multnomah and Pioneer Chapters, as well as other guests. For more information check our website (www.metro pdx.org).

In September, as members of the Oregon Lower Columbia Blinded Veterans Association, John and Darian Fleming attended that organization’s annual meeting in Roseburg. On Friday afternoon, participants gathered for a picnic at Bowman’s Pond, a private, nonprofit, family-owned recreational venue for people with disabilities. Robin Illers, a rehabilitation teacher for the Oregon Commission, in Roseburg, attended with some of her clients. Charlotte and Ted Noddin, also members of the organization, were in attendance. We all enjoyed fishing in the stocked trout pond. Entertainment was provided by Kin and Pam Edwards, folk singers from John Day, who wanted to express their appreciation to Veterans and their families. The food and fun in the sun were wonderful. On Saturday, we gathered for a workshop on self-advocacy, resources and making things happen. Roseburg State Senator Jeff Kruse spoke to us about his willingness to support Veterans in legislative matters. He thanked the Veterans for their service and reminded them that his door is always open. Robin Illers and a representative of the local independent living center spoke to the group as well. The BVA presented Dale and Kathleen Bowman with an award expressing appreciation for their dedication to blinded veterans and all people with disabilities by creating such a beautiful recreation venue and bringing the rainbow back into our lives.

Darian spoke about self-advocacy and informed members about the American Council of the Blind of Oregon. Some individuals expressed interest. Perhaps we might consider forming a chapter in Roseburg. Darian plans to discuss this with James Edwards and the rest of the new board when the new term begins.

Many of us traveled together to the ACB of Oregon state convention. Thanks to Mary Reid and Kae Seth for taking the lead in arranging transportation for the convention. We had fun playing and working together in Coos Bay.

Tyanne Coverstone, Larry Treuber and Darian Fleming attended a community-wide disability resource fair sponsored by the Interfaith Disability Network. Several other blindness-related organizations were present, including Talking Books and Braille Servic es, the Oregon Commission for the Blind and Independent Living Resources. The Portland Art Museum attended to market their tours for the blind which happen on the third Thursday of each month. Metro PDX gave a travel mug containing Braille on it from Mobility One along with a Starbucks gift certificate. The young man who has developmental disabilities was tickled to receive it. Larry Treuber visited each of the vendors’ tables and shared our information with them. Our table was visited by parents of children with disabilities, the vendors from the other blindness organizations and a few potential members. Our chapter plans to attend other resource fairs as a membership recruitment strategy.

Again this year, we partnered with the Oregon Lower Columbia Regional Group of the Blinded Veterans Association to educate people in the community about the White Cane Law. John and Darian Fleming represented us in the lobby at the V. A. Hospital. They were joined by Edgar Penaloza, President, and other members of the Blinded Veterans Regional Group. Talking Book and Braille Services and Umpqua Bank also sent representatives. This year we decided to talk to school-age children about pedestrian safety, the White Cane Law and how to provide assistance to people who are blind. In early October, Tyanne Coverstone and John Fleming spoke at Tyanne’s daughter’s second-grade class. John and Darian Fleming spoke to nine third, fourth and fifth grade classes at Salish Ponds Elementary School in the Reynolds School District. Topics addressed included the White Cane Law, how people who are blind listen to traffic to determine safe street crossings, the meaning of a white cane and a guide dog’s harness and demonstrations of sighted guide technique. We discussed appropriate interaction with guide dogs and how to offer help to people who are blind. We also gave examples of Braille to all of the classes along with copies of the most recent issue of “The Stylus”. At Salish Ponds Elementary School we met four children with multiple disabilities including blindness and the wife of a man who was newly blinded. We see this work as multi-purposed -- membership recruitment, community education and possibilities for helping individuals and/or families find support for coping with blindness.

Several of us, including one potential member, attended Blind Ambition’s blindfold Spaghetti Dinner in late October. We look forward to continued partnering with Blind Ambition.

We have updated our list of accomplishments. You’ll soon be able to follow our progress on our new and improved web site, www.metropdx.org. Stay tuned for more tales about our activities and projects that increase community awareness and improve the quality of life for people in the Portland area who are blind or who have low vision.

Multnomah Chapter
By Gregg Welch, Past President

Hello everybody. As 2011 comes to a close, our chapter is doing well. We have decided to have our chapter meetings in Northwest Portland at the Golden Touch Restaurant with lunch at 1:30 and meeting from 2:30 until 4:30, on the 4th Saturday of most months. Meeting location for May and June (annual picnic) will be announced; summer break in July and August--no meeting; December Christmas Dinner, location to be selected.

This year, we have lost some of our precious members who will be in our hearts and memories because they made a difference in our lives and left their footprints behind. We have gained several new members that are not only obviously good people but are talented and are showing it by our newsletter and new chapter website. Be on the lookout for a website that will be jam packed with information and probably exceeding all other chapter websites nationwide.

Multnomah Chapter was fortunate enough to win the Membership Award from the State affiliate, and proudly will not stick out its tongue … just humbly suggest that this affiliate needs a growing membership in every chapter. We are considering the use of a “chapter membership application” that could assist us in finding how we can best help the rest of the membership and for use by the board to see what knowledge, expertise, training and talents exists within its membership. By interviewing each new member, I found that they are precious. They add new talent and offer challenges to our board to ensure that all chapter members are served well by advocating for them. We have an invigorated membership that has come out and joined numerous committees to get the chapter's business done.

Due to some health problems on the Newsletter Committee, fewer newsletters have been published than we had planned. We are about to begin work on our chapter bylaws. The Fundraising Committee has done a fantastic job collecting funds for my upcoming retirement at the end of this month. Incidentally, please don't audit the books until February.

The chapter meeting committee has met the challenge of finding us some good restaurant alternatives. They looked at as many factors as possible to try to accommodate each member’s needs for our future meetings, and what a great job they did!

We will be giving away some technology in December or January. All of us are planning a fund to assist members with their needs under a given criteria.

Our meetings are very upbeat and fun to attend. I want to thank Dick Kohl for his continued dedication to keep our records in good order with decades of commitment and good work. On occasion, Bonnie Malone (vice President) has stepped in and handled our meetings in my stead and did a great job. Bonnie was elected to be the Chapter Secretary in 2012-13 and will do an outstanding job for us again. Cheri Slack has been a conscientious Secretary and has benefited the chapter more than anyone will know. She will be stepping down in 2012 and we owe her a lot. Sue Staley will be President in January and has shown us already that she has leadership skills, is intelligent, is not afraid of work, and has a great bio for the position. We are very fortunate she has stepped up to the plate. Michael Hawk has served on a number of committees and has shown us that he is incredibly talented at whatever task he undertakes and gets the job done. He has accepted the position of Vice President for 2012-2013. I really appreciate Mike. There are a number of others who also contributed greatly … our chapter owes a big thanks to Dick Nixon, Dale Nichols, Paulette Stokes, Dan Ezell and others for their contributions to our great family.

I'm sorry to say it-- I have recently been diagnosed with lung cancer but intend to fight to win the war. I've gathered a good deal of information that I can share with others as to alternatives to chemo and radiation (which are lousy options, in my opinion). It has been a worthwhile 6 years as your President and I will stay around as much as possible.

I'm sorry if I have missed some names but I want to say: Thank all of you for allowing my family and me the privilege of your friendship and happy moments together. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all from Multnomah Chapter.

Rogue Valley
By Ronald Whelchel, President

Five Members from our Chapter were able to attend the Annual Convention and Business Meeting. One of our Members, Leola Goodrich participated as a member of the Nominating Committee. During our November Chapter Meeting those who attended provided comments regarding various activities throughout the three day event.

For our December Meeting we will have our Christmas Luncheon and will be entertained by two ladies known as the "Accordion Duo" who will provide a variety of Christmas Music along with other tunes.

Last year instead of our regular $10 or less gift exchange we collected the amount that we would have spent and used it to help two needy families in our area. One of these families has a blind member. Our members elected to do the same this year.

Elections were conducted for Board Members for the next two years with the following results: President: Jan Perkins, Vice President: Mary Moulton, Treasurer: Vi Moore, Secretary: Georgia Moulton, Directors: Jerry Moore and Alan Warfield.

That's all for now from the Valley of The Rogue.

Southwestern Chapter News
By Carrie Kokel

The 2011 Convention was a big success. We had many members attend who did not in prior years. They all enjoyed the speakers, food and friends.

A lot of time and energy goes into organizing and planning a convention. I would like to thank Sharon and Samantha Orchard, Florence and Karyn Swinderman, Donna Penny and Leonard Kokel for their help with the 2011 convention. We collected door prizes, provided banquet table decorations, arranged for speakers and color guard and provided training to Mill Casino staff--their help was greatly appreciated.

Our President, Leonard Kokel has already begun preparing for our annual candy sales. We are lined up to sell at Wal-Mart, Farr’s True Value and Coos Grange Supply. The candy will arrive in Coos Bay the middle of January. This annual event is a lot of work. The funds raised are used for grants and community projects that give recognition to the American Council of the Blind of Oregon.

We hope the holiday season brings joy to all. Happy Holidays from your friends on the beautiful coast.

Willamette
By John Dashney, President

Willamette Chapter saw two of its longest-serving State Board members retire at our Coos Bay convention. Bob Rushing stepped down as treasurer after nearly twenty years in that position. During that time Bob "retired" twice, but had to reassume the job when his replacement had to quit. Bob hopes the third time will be lucky and that he can stay retired. Also, Bev Rushing stepped down as secretary. Bev has served as president three times and has held every other State office, except treasurer. We wish them both a long and happy retirement from the duties and bothersome tasks they have so ably carried out.

Our annual Christmas party and potluck, featuring our notorious pirate gift exchange, will happen Friday, December 9, at Salem Green mobile home park, 4730 Auburn Road in Salem (of course). Other ACBO members are invited. Contact Bob or Bev at (503) 362-4151 for more details.

Editor’s Note:

at the request of James Edwards (our new President) and editor’s initiative, you will begin seeing profiles of members from throughout the state in every issue of the Stylus. All members are invited to submit names they believe should be featured in our newsletter. Please send your suggestions to the editor ().

MEMBER’S CORNER
Trail Marks
By Rae and Patti Hail

Life is always interesting! And interesting to us includes all the twists and turns in the highways, byways, airways, waterways and railways we travel. Our primary mode of travel is our RV; Patti drives and Rae provides the entertainment – sometimes serious, sometimes lighthearted, but always worth repeating. We hope to share with you some of our adventures and experiences -- tactile, auditory and all real life. You’ve heard the phrase “truth is stranger than fiction” -- all of our tales and Trail Marks are true.

To give you some background, Rae is the blind one, even though it is Patti who has difficulty seeing the forest for all the trees. Nathan, Rae’s guide dog, is sometimes the only one whose feathers don’t get ruffled (maybe because he has fur?).

When Rae and Patti met, Rae was legally blind and was a combat Marine from the Viet Nam. Between the Marines and becoming blind, Rae was a law enforcement officer in Oregon (mostly). Patti was a teacher and administrator who spent most of her time with the learning disabled and in special education. Now she was about to become “the student”.

Both loved to travel. They moved to Hawaii, went scuba diving, Rae managed Boy Scout camps in Hawaii and Pacific Rim countries; Patti taught school on the island of Maui. Patti learned to scuba dive (Rae was already a diver); they swam with whales, turtles and sharks; Rae got masks with magnifiers, to try to read the gauges on his equipment--finally going to radio masks so he and Patti could communicate under water. They moved back to the mainland and Rae taught Patti to sail, navigate the waterways, and pilot power cruisers. Then the Coast Guard didn’t feel it was “safe” for Rae to skipper a watercraft – because he couldn’t see. Patti didn’t feel like her skills were good enough to be both skipper and navigator, so they sold their boats and started shopping for an RV. At least, Patti felt she could learn to drive an RV on the highway. Thus began their blind adventures and Trail Marks.

After spending a year shopping and finally purchasing a truck and fifth-wheel trailer, then “white knuckling it” all the way home, Rae signed Patti up for RV driving school. She continued with the white knuckles all the way from Long Beach, Washington to Moscow, Idaho and RV driving school in the next spring. Other new RVers were at driving school, so Rae decided to teach them real happy hour tailgating.

RV driving school was set up in the parking lot of an abandoned supermarket and strip mall. Cones were set up in the lot and a number of RVs were parked around the outside of the lot. It was bordered on one side by the main east-west highway through Moscow, Idaho. On a second side, a short city street intersected the highway. Across the city street was an LDS church and another street lined with houses. The other sides were fields and farmland.

About 12 to 20 RVers were gathered at the Hail’s 5th wheel for happy hour and hors d’oeuvres when a young man in a white shirt and tie pedaled his bicycle into the parking lot and right up to Rae, who had his white cane and dark glasses. “I see you have quite a few RVs here. You got something going on?” said the young man. Later, Rae said that he should have said “Ya, it’s an RV rodeo. Here’s your sign.” What he did say was much better. “Well, yes,” he said, “did you happen to see the sign in the front of the big bus when you entered the parking lot?” Young man: “Uh, no, I guess I didn’t.” Rae: “Well, it says this is Dick Reed’s RV Driving School for the Blind.” Young man: “Really! It’s about time someone did something like that!” Rae: “You wouldn’t want us trying to learn to drive these on the highway, would you?” Rae had “set the hook”, so to speak, and was ready to reel in a big sucker-fish. Meanwhile, the RVers sitting at the RV have stopped their visiting and were all tuned in to the exchange going on. The Young Man responded: “No, that wouldn’t be good, I guess. Who ever came up with an idea like this?” Rae continued, “Well, if you had seen the sign, you might have noticed that the license plates are from California. When these Californians come up with an idea, they try it out at a place like this. If it catches on in Idaho, then it will expand to Washington, Oregon, Montana, and gets around like that.” Young Man, fascinated: “That is really great! I’m going to have to keep my eyes … I mean, I am going to have to watch … I mean, I’m going to see …” He stumbled on every word that had to with sight and vision and finally said “I’m going to have to keep tabs on what you are doing. Have a great day and God Bless you.” Then he got back on his bicycle and headed for the church.

Everyone busted up laughing, and Dick Reed came out of his motor home bus saying “Hail, you’re cold. I love it. Where did you learn to lie with such a straight face?” Rae: “Cop 101.” For the next week, everyone at RV driving school – and about 300 others – took classes at a program called Life On Wheels – about living in RVs, taking care of them, and just about anything else there is about where to go and how-to about RVs. Everyone knew who Rae was and were laughing about the incident. At the closing ceremonies, those of us in the driving school got good driver certificates. And Rae got an RV Driving School certificate for having such a great attitude. We made friends with several of the RVers and all of the instructors. Often, when some of us get together again, the story is retold.<

ACBO Commissioner’s Report
By Patricia A. Kepler

Let me begin by thanking ACBO for the honor of representing this organization as a Commissioner to the Oregon Commission for the Blind (OCB), and providing you a brief introduction as to who I am. As stated in the byline, I am Patricia Kepler. I lost my vision at the age of 17, and together with my husband of 30 years have raised three children. I am currently working towards my Masters degree in Organizational Leadership and am excited about the opportunity to apply some of my newly acquired knowledge toward working with OCB regarding policy matters.

Since my appointment over the summer, the Commissioners have met three times … twice for regular board matters and once to address concerns regarding the Business Enterprise Program (BEP).

By now most of you should have seen or heard of OCB’s audit results. This newly formed board of Commissioners has made it their top priority to resolve concerns raised by this audit and assist in guiding OCB along a more positive path in regards to relationships with the Business Enterprise Program. As BEP issues dominated this audit, this is where we are beginning our work.

Our first meeting with the BEP was quite productive. Both sides, OCB and the Business Enterprise Consumer committee (BECC) brought what they feel are items of concern. Both sides agreed that the program needs changes. Both sides feel that the vendors need more training opportunities, outreach, and research into expansion of the program. The audit noted that out of 17 vendors only a few had properly signed contracts. At the end of the meeting it was agreed that all vendors would assist OCB toward compliance by signing these overdue contracts.

Randy Hauth, who chairs the BECC and Linda Mock, will meet to begin addressing the other issues raised prior to our next meeting on December 2. Feel free to contact me via email at pkepler@gmail.com if you have any questions regarding Commissioner activities.

Happy holidays all.

LEGISLATIVE MATTERS
FCC Reinstates Video Description Programming
Submitted by Kae Seth

Hi NCAC members and friends, Here is the confirmation of what we have known for awhile. Great news and enjoy, everyone! - Charlie Crawford.

FCC Reinstates Video Description Programming

The U.S. government is reinstating a rule requiring video description programming by large-market broadcast affiliates of the top four national networks, and multichannel video programming distributor systems (MVPDS) with more than 50,000 subscribers.

On Sept. 8, the Federal Communications Commission posted a Federal Register Notice-Video Description: Implementation of the Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2010-which says this order reinstates the video description rules adopted by the commission in 2000.

“Video description” is the insertion of audio narrated descriptions of a television program's key visual elements into natural pauses in the program's dialogue, which makes video programming more accessible to individuals who are blind or visually impaired, the notice says. The FCC’s order reinstates the requirement that large-market broadcast affiliates of the top four national networks, and MVPDS with more than 50,000 subscribers, provide video description. The order also reinstates the requirement that all network-affiliated broadcasters (commercial or non-commercial) and all MVPDS pass through any video description provided with network programming they carry, to the extent that they are technically capable of doing so and when that technical capability is not being used for another purpose related to the programming.

The FCC originally adopted video description regulations in 2000, but the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit vacated the video description rules on the grounds the FCC had insufficient authority to impose such regulations, according to the commission. However, the Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2010 (P.L. 111-260) directs the FCC to reinstate those rules with certain modifications. The new video description rule becomes effective October 11, 2011, with October 1, 2012 as the final compliance date.

Press Release:
Pedestrian Safety Handbook Announcement, published online
Submitted by Deborah Nichols
For Immediate Release

Director of Advocacy and Governmental Affairs
American Council of the Blind
Phone: (202) 467-5081
E-mail: ebridges@acb.org

American Council of the Blind Releases Updated Pedestrian Safety Handbook

ARLINGTON, Va., October 12, 2011 - Coinciding with an annual nationwide event, White Cane Safety Day, the American Council of the Blind (ACB) today released an updated edition of its Pedestrian Safety Handbook, a publication which informs people who are blind and visually impaired, their families, and others about contemporary approaches to assuring safe paths of travel for blind pedestrians and effective ways to advocate for accommodations like accessible pedestrian signals, tactile warnings at the edges of curb ramps, and mechanisms for routing travelers safely through problematic intersections.

According to ACB’s president, Mitch Pomerantz, the organization published its first Pedestrian Safety Handbook in 1999. “Since then,” he says, “there have been several revisions and updates which have informed readers, orientation and mobility specialists, traffic engineers and others about changes in the regulations which implement the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), as well as the guidelines which traffic engineers rely upon to design or renovate roadways, intersections, traffic circles and other paths of travel which motor vehicles and pedestrians must share.”

“The last time we updated our Pedestrian Safety Handbook, quiet cars were still driving through the imaginations of vehicle designers,” Pomerantz continued. “Now, they are just one more reality that can compromise the safety of a blind person stepping off a curb in front of a car that he or she cannot hear coming. Our role as advocates becomes more complex in ways we might never have even imagined. We are pleased that our Pedestrian Safety Handbook is a living document that will be able to keep up with the changes that govern all our lives and safety. The document, which is located at www.acb.org/node/625, will inform people who are blind and visually impaired everywhere, as well as the orientation and mobility field, and the traffic engineers who need to take our safety into consideration as they maximize traffic flow and contemplate new efficiencies and equipment.” The updated handbook includes specific regulations which people who are blind can call upon to advocate for changes at intersections and along their paths of travel that will provide audible and tactile information about situations which sighted pedestrians can evaluate visually, such as when a traffic light changes color, a walk sign is illuminated, or where turning arrows might cause traffic to speed in front of an otherwise unsuspecting blind or visually impaired pedestrian.

“The Federal Highway Administration has made some significant regulatory changes since we last published a Pedestrian Safety Handbook,” said Debbie Grubb, chairperson of ACB's Environmental Access Committee. “It is important for us to have the most up-to-date information about regulations when we approach our communities to advocate for the changes that can keep us safe. This handbook, which is being published online, will provide the most current information available anywhere.” In addition to chapters that deal with specific pedestrian safety issues and current regulations, there are case studies that describe how blind and visually impaired people have successfully advocated for change and safety across the country, and templates for writing letters and citing regulations that can work.

Portland Art Museum
Tours for the Blind & Visually Impaired
Barbara Hart, Portland Art Museum Docent Council
1219 SW Park Avenue
Portland, OR 97205
October 22, 2011

Just because you are visually impaired doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy art! The Portland Art Museum offers regular monthly and special group tours for the blind and visually impaired. The regular monthly tours are the third Thursday of each month at 2:30 p.m. and last until about 4:00. Knowledgeable docents offer vivid descriptions on works of art, share information about artists, and when possible, provide tactile materials to enrich the experience. Presentations encourage questions and discussions, and tour groups are kept small to encourage interaction. To reduce walking, art tours are kept within a limited area in the museum and participants sit on folding stools during presentations. Ramps and elevators enable visitors to move about safely, and docents provide assistance as needed. Service dogs and caregivers are welcome!

The Portland Art Museum houses artifacts from ancient civilizations of Greece and Native American Cultures, to modern masters from Europe and the Pacific Northwest. Tours include major exhibitions as well as regular gallery installations.

Those who have experienced the tours for the blind and visually impaired rave about the quality of the tour, and the ability to have a real conversation about art in a relaxed and comfortable setting. We invite you to call the Portland Art Museum for a group tour, or stop by the third Thursday of the month at 2:30 for the regular monthly tour.

The Portland Art Museum is located at 1219 SW Park Avenue, in Portland’s Park Blocks. Telephone is (503) 276-4248. NOTE: There are no monthly tours in December 2011.

Keeping in Touch
Spreading the Word
By Mary Reid

If you are like me, the three days we spend together in the fall at state convention is insufficient time to get to know one another or even catch up with friends. The Stylus is an excellent avenue to keep our members informed of chapter accomplishments, growth and work. Also, chapters can give special recognition to members, businesses/organizations and individuals providing services to assist the chapter in its goals and mission. It is a means by which chapters can share the welcome of newcomers and the passing of friends, as well as congratulations on achieving milestones in one’s life.

In mirroring our new President’s concern about growing the affiliate’s membership, especially with younger persons, I suggest we use our newsletter as another avenue to make this happen. I spoke at the state convention about my plan to begin sending the Stylus to colleges/universities to help spread the word about ACBO, in hopes of gaining a few energetic, young individuals ready to join an organization dedicated to increasing civil rights and equality of persons who are blind and/or visually impaired. My intent is to send the Stylus to Disability Student Services and student unions for persons with disabilities on college/university campuses. Additionally, I will be sending audio and large print copies to all of OCB’s offices, asking that the staff make clients aware of our publication. In my Stylus report, given at the State Board Meeting and repeated during the business session, I asked that each chapter appoint someone to gather names/addresses of these institutions in their immediate area and provide me with this information along with the specifics for the DSS offices and student unions, if they exist. I have sent this same request out to chapter presidents and others via E-mail subsequently. I would like to include these places with the mailing of the Spring issue. Thus, I need your help! Each chapter needs to assign a member to be responsible for gathering and forwarding to me the following: colleges/universities names/addresses in your area, specific address for the offices of Disability Student Services and the name of the person in charge. The same data is needed for student unions for persons with disabilities—if one exists. Finally, each chapter should have 1-2 members willing to answer requests from interested students/faculty members. I will publish this information in a contact list. An up-to-date list of chapter officers with approved contact information should be in every issue of our newsletter.

Chapter Presidents, please send me the name and contact information for the individual responsible to write and submit the quarterly chapter reports.

In order to produce an interesting, informative and creative newsletter; it is essential that chapter and other reports, dates/locations of meetings, articles on legislative matters and any other blindness-related information be submitted in a timely manner. The Stylus will come to you quarterly in March, June, September and December. Please submit Materials by the last day of February, May, August and November.

Materials may be submitted in Braille, on cassette, in print, on computer disk or by E-mail (whenever possible, use e-mail, please: mreid.acbo@q.com ).

End of the Winter, 2011 Issue of the Stylus
Edited by Mary Reid
Audio Production OMNI




Last updated: April 2, 2006



Copyright © 2000 by The ACB of Oregon/Oregon Council Of The Blind