SVCB IN TOUCH

Newsletter of the

SILICON VALLEY COUNCIL OF THE BLIND

A Chapter of the California Council of the Blind

May 2018

 

EDITOR: Susan Glass, editor@svcb.cc

COPY EDITOR: Beverly Clifford, beverlyclifford@svcb.cc

ADDRESS: P.O. Box 493, Mountain View, CA 94042

DEADLINE: for the June, 2018 issue: noon, May 25

VOLUNTEERS: Naomi Grubb, volunteers@svcb.cc

MEMBERSHIP: Mike Keithley, membership@svcb.cc

LEGISLATION: Mike Keithley, legislation@svcb.cc

PHONE: 888-652-5333

EMAIL: svcb@onebox.com

URL: www.svcb.cc

Legislative Hotlines, current issues for blind persons:

CALIFORNIA CONNECTION: 800-221-6359, after 5 PM and weekends

WASHINGTON CONNECTION: 800-424-8666, 3-9 PM and weekends

 

DISCLAIMER: This publication contains announcements from the Silicon Valley Council of the Blind and is also a forum for opinions relating to blindness issues. Signed articles reflect the views, and research, of their authors.

 

STATUS: SVCB is a 501(c)3 non-profit, tax-exempt organization under the California Council of the Blind.

 

CHANGES OF ADDRESS: Contact Mike Keithley, database@svcb.cc.

 

MEETING LOCATION: SVCB's monthly meetings are held in the community room of the Monte Vista Terrace Apts. at 1101 Grant Road, Mountain View. Meetings run 9:30 AM to 1 PM the third Saturday of the month and are open to all. Monte Vista Terrace is one block from the intersection of Grant Road and El Camino Real and is accessible by bus #22.

 

IN THIS Issue

 

* President's Message

* CCB Convention Report

* Membership Corner

* Fund-raising Report

* Tidbits

* Event Calendar

 

PRESIDENT's MESSAGE

by Susan Glass

 

May is probably my favorite month of the year, with its high light lengthening by the day, its skittery bird songs that transform the sky into a graceful orchestra, and its many fragrances: lilac, star jasmine, and citrus blossom. It's also a hectic, celebratory time. Think graduations, Mother's Day, and preparations for summer. My father used to tease that it was the month during which he went broke because we celebrated Mother's Day, my birthday, my mother's birthday, and his sister's birthday. Too bad, Dad. We sure had fun. It's time to be out and about. If you work in an office, arrange for your desk and desk chair to have magical powers so they can whisk you out of the window at a moment's notice.

 

But wait! We have good reason to remain grounded. Alice Turner and Mike Keithley attended the March CCB convention, and wrote a detailed report of all the goings-on there. It is the feature article in this newsletter. Please read it, because at our May meeting, our program speaker, CCB President Judy Wilkinson, will join us to elaborate on all that they've told us.

 

Mark your calendars for our SVCB picnic: Saturday August 18 from 11 AM until 3 PM. We'll meet at Hellyer Park at the Yerba Buena picnic site, and once again we'll invite the San Francisco chapter to join us. Members of the picnic committee are Mike Keithley, Naomi Grubb, Susan Glass, Alice Turner, and Vic Clifford. By our May membership meeting, we should have details for you about who to contact to place your meal orders, who to contact RE what you're planning to contribute, etc.

 

CCB CONFERENCE and CONVENTION DELEGATE REPORT

Submitted by Alice Turner, delegate, and Mike Keithley, alternate delegate

 

Both Alice and Mike took the Capitol Corridor train with John and Susan Glass and Rob Turner. Other SVCB people who attended the convention were John Vandervort and Lorraine Brown.

 

Mike roomed with Steve Fort, an old friend. "The first thing that happened after arriving in his room was the discovery that he couldn't open his suitcase,—the zipper broke. But a bellboy from the hotel got the suitcase unzipped, though that thing is still broken.

 

So began the convention for Mike--a collection of good and not-so-good. Being able to hear in meetings was a chronic problem, CCB's ability to cover events other than the general sessions was disappointing, and he often found that he became angry about this situation. But the general sessions and banquet were on ACB radio, and he actually used his iPhone to hear broadcasts when the ALD system was failing. The hotel’s food was pretty good and not outrageously expensive.

 

Wednesday evening was a time for relaxing and getting familiar with the hotel’s floor plan, which was quite compact and easy to understand. This year there were more volunteers than usual, even though attendance was obviously higher than last year, perhaps 300 people.

 

Alice participated in Capital Day, along with her Capital partner, Susan Glass. If you have not had the opportunity to participate in the CCB Capital Day, they highly recommend the experience. Jeff Thom, Government Affairs Chair, had sent them the CCB Imperatives for this year, and they were assigned four assembly persons and two Senators offices to visit. They contacted the six offices ahead of time, made appointments, and were able to meet with five of their six assigned representatives. Susan and Alice practiced the points they would discuss, and each time they were able to keep it at the 15 minutes. Support for AB 1865, Attack on Service Dogs, was highly supported by all representatives they talked with, but the other three issues met with mixed responses. Susan and Alice will be following up with the people they spoke to, and they will send a report to Jeff Thom. Since the convention will return to the same hotel next year, there will most likely be another Capital Day.

 

Convention-related things didn’t begin for Mike until the Technology Committee meeting Thursday afternoon. Though there was no ALD transmitter and Mike couldn't hear the speakers well, he was sitting next to Sheila Somebody who summarized what people were saying, mighty helpful in a pinch.

 

One important part of the meeting was a discussion of how visually impaired diabetics can access their glucose meters. The Prodigy system was described, together with techniques of getting an accurate blood sample on the test strip.

 

The current state of affairs seems to be that there is no truly accessible blood glucose meter in the United States. In Europe there are accessible systems, but they haven’t been approved in the US through the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and some that are approved are not insured by Medicare. We hope that the Dexcom system, which uses an iOS device and a sensor under the skin, will soon be universally available.

 

Ken Metz has volunteered to set up an email listserve to discuss diabetes, and whether there is interest in forming an CCB special-interest diabetics affiliate. So contact Ken, who now manages the Southern California CCB office. You can call him at 805-991-7141, or email him at kenmetz#1946@gmail.com.

 

Mike went to the Credentials Committee meeting to monitor the official seating of SVCB, and its 17 votes, for the convention. Pam Palagi, Credentials Committee Chair, has been ill, but Mike hears she is out of the hospital and recovering nicely. Frank Welte did the honors. Mike thinks it’s safe to say that SVCB is still the largest chapter in SVCB.

 

Thursday evening Mike went to the Dining in the Dark fundraiser for CCB. He had never attended such an event, and it was just as someone said: an expensive dinner. There was a silent auction, with some items exceeding $5000. And noisy, whew! There was no ALD transmitter for a time, and the couple sitting next to me was nice, but I couldn’t talk to them. About half-way through the third course (there were four courses), the woman gave me a nice glass of red wine (maybe I was looking glum). And then an ALD transmitter appeared, so I could then hear the MC and his work to get money, money, money! (Estimates are that CCB made $12,000 that evening alone.) The dinner featured offerings by blind chef Christine Ha, and the second course, a fish soup, was especially good.

 

Alice and Rob were joined at the Dining in the Dark event by Rob’s brother and sister-in-law, who live close to the hotel. This made the event even more special for them.

 

Friday morning is traditionally Mike’s busy time, with meetings of the Braille Revival League of California and the California Library Users of America. There was no ALD transmitter in the room, so he was rather crippled as to participation, but he did accept the BRLC presidency. At the CLUA Meeting, Mike Marlin, Director of the Braille and Talking Book Library, described what is happening in the field. Development of the next-generation talking book player is progressing, and a major change will be wireless connectivity so books can be acquired quickly. And there is ongoing research to soon integrate an inexpensive braille display into forthcoming players. Mike was signed up to attend the BLRC/CLUA luncheon, but he knew there would be no ALD transmitter, so he had a bacon-cheese burger at the restaurant instead.

 

Alice attended the three-hour session titled “Access and Advocacy." Its co-moderators were Steven Mendelsohn and Jeff Thom. This included a series of speakers on three different topics. The first presentation, titled “Integrating Access and Functional Needs: We Fail or Succeed Together," was given b  L. Vance Taylor, who is Chief Office of Access and Functional Needs, California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services. He talked about the essential steps individuals with disabilities need to take to prepare for emergencies. He cited many examples of issues that occurred during the fires of 2017. His advice was that every household should assemble a "go-bag" packed with essentials, and every person in the household needs to know where the bag is stored. He suggests a closet near the front door. There should be a plan in place for all family members to meet at a designated spot in case of a fire or disaster, for example at the Smith's mailbox one block away. The speaker uses a wheel chair, and he shared the steps he takes so all members of his household have a job to do when evacuating and they practice the drill. To prepare for emergencies, he suggested the CA Emergency Preparedness website as a place to find tips and tools targeted to individuals with disabilities. The link to put into your browser is: www.caloes.ca.gov/AccessFunctionalNeedsSite/Pages/AFN%20Library.aspx. Another tool he mentioned is an app targeted to specific counties, which sends out alerts in the event of an emergency or disaster. For Santa Clara County, the app is called ReadySCC.

 

Then the attendees heard from Fred Nisen and Paul Spenser, attorneys from Disability Rights California's Voting Rights Unit. They discussed the state and federal requirements for accessible voting. They reviewed the changes in specific counties for voting independently at home using your computer. The process is not perfect yet, as several people in the room were beta testers; and there are challenges with printing the ballot, which needs to be signed and mailed by the voter. Individuals are encouraged to contact the presenters if they experience difficulties in voting.

 

Lastly, Michelle Iorio, Staff Attorney, of Disability Rights Advocates, presented what their law firm is doing in regards to accessibility of websites. She discussed the process they need to follow in order to take legal action when a website does not provide equal access to information, and shared how the courts are ruling.

 

When this meeting is posted on our CCB website, it will be a good one to listen to if you are interested in these three topics.

 

ALD was available at the first general session, and Mike celebrated with King, who barked during the Pledge of Allegiance; “I couldn’t help it, too happy!”

 

President Wilkinson gave her President’s Report, which concerned itself mostly with ongoing efforts to acquire stable financial soundness for CCB. And later there was a presentation by Mr. Louis Fawcett on the Major Gifts Ramp Up Campaign, which was described in detail in the Spring, 2018 Blind Californian.

 

The Legislator of the Year award was presented to Assembly member Evan Low, who was instrumental in finally sunsetting the Guide Dog Board of California.

 

O boy! There was working ALD at the Leadership Dinner sponsored by Vanda pharmaceuticals. Eric Bridges from ACB discussed his work in making everything accessible to visually impaired people, work that takes him around the world.

 

At the second general session, Jeff Thom presented his Governmental Affairs Report, which featured the Guide Dog Board sunset plus several happenings in 2018.

 

Elections were held. Judy Wilkinson remains CCB President, Gabe Griffith is now First Vice President, and Ken Metz was elected to complete the term for Second Vice President. Lisa Presley-Thomas was elected as Treasurer, and for directors, our own Rob Turner kept his seat for a second term, in addition to Frank Welte, Sharlene Ornelas, and Paul Pache.

 

Mike was supposed to cover the Board Breakfast, but alas, there was no ALD transmitter! He left, and calmed down with a Chai Late at Starbucks.

 

Saturday is a busy day for Alice, due to the series of events associated with Golden State Guide Dog Handlers, Inc. During the business meeting, Maile George was elected new ice  President, Vita Zavoli was re-elected as Treasurer, and the group welcomed William Elliot as a new Director. This was followed by a program titled, "Helping Our Guides Overcome Trauma," a panel discussion led by the five guide dog school reps.

 

The Guide Dog luncheon is always fun, even though Mike does not have a dog (and there were a few others who didn't, either). Mark Hines, a  international representative from Kong, Inc. told us about the fun history of Kong, and how the toys are used worldwide with many animal populations.

 

The main feature of the second general session was the formal adaptation of CCB’s new Bylaws, the replacement document for the Constitution, which had become unwieldy. The Bylaws were not accepted by the narrowest margin. The lively discussion indicated that some members were not comfortable with voting on the bylaws without viewing the corresponding policy statements. This work will continue during the year ahead.

 

And now, the banquet, sponsored by Uber! It was MCed by President Wilkinson, and she started with three “desserts” before Mike ate his. (It reminded him of how he and Star would go to Baskin Robins for dinner after a heavy lunch.) There was the Sacramento Banjo Band with music from the turn of the 20th century. Tommy Edison, a blind motivational speaker (who is not related to Thomas Edison) regaled the assembled for over 45 minutes with descriptions of his rollicking lifestyle, and Mike realized he was the persuasive MC at Dining in the Dark.

 

Vivian Younger, chair of the CCB Membership Committee, presented the Chapter of the Year award to the Redwood Empire chapter for the best chapter project in 2017. Unfortunately, her presentation was marred by sound difficulties. She said that the other membership awards would appear in the Blind Californian. There were other awards, plus raffle winnings.

 

Sunday was the fourth General Session where ten 2018 resolutions were read and approved, many without discussion. They will appear in the next Blind Californian.

 

The train trip home was uneventful, and we were all happy to be home.

 

MEMBERSHIP CORNER

by Mike Keithley

 

We had a great outing on Friday, April 27 to Muir Woods to test a developing audio description app for the National Park Service. Nine SVCB and four San Francisco people attended, and we had a wonderful walk through the Redwood forest and heard messages from wayfinding points on the trail. Added to this were descriptions of pictures on various panels near the trail. It was a cool and shady experience, with areas of warm sun. The app is still in development, but my experience was quite exciting and positive, and our feedback after the walk was well received. I sure hope we can do this again soon! And King, "Well I had a lot of fun walking around in the branches, 100 feet off the ground, teasing Omni, Rambler (Michelle’s new dog), and a poodle I never met before. Onmi said, `Ah com'on, King, stop teasing us and chasing the birds away!` Didn’t know about the birds, sorry about that.” Victor Clifford is to be thanked for renting a 15-person van and driving us to and from Muir Woods, in lots of traffic, especially in the afternoon. Fortunately, SVCB got $250 from ACB to finance transportation.

 

Keep Alice Turner in your thoughts. On April 20, while walking home alone from the Fish Market, Alice slipped on some uneven pavement and fractured her left shoulder and ankle. She had some awesome help from a Good Samaritan passing by. She’s fine now and walking around, but I hear that recovery will take six weeks. “And Cora says she’s very unhappy about the accident, and is working hard to make it up to Alice.”

 

Let’s wish happy May birthdays to Anna Bolino, John McNulty, John Glass, Susan Glass, and Dawn Wilcox. In my May, 2017 column, King was talking about Spring and getting us off our butts and outside. The Glasses came to the Muir Woods adventure, but I never heard what Dawn, Anna, and John were doing.

 

Our speaker for the April program didn’t show, so we had an impromptu event. Justin, a student at a San Mateo high school, told us about a device he is prototyping to help blind and visually impaired people cross streets--got a lot of feedback from us. And there were reports from those who went to the CCB Conference and Convention. You can hear the entire meeting at svcb.cc/psaudio/ps0418.mp3.

 

Judy Wilkinson, CCB President, will be coming to our May meeting, so be sure to come and participate.

 

We’ve been hearing about state legislation to allow scooters on sidewalks, even if denied locally. This is bill AB2989, and will allow sidewalks to be cluttered by moving scooters, some traveling quite fast, and ruining our day as pedestrians. Contact Eric.thronson@asm.ca.gov to express your opposition to this bill. Want more information? Contact Jeff Thom at jsthom@comcast.net.

 

FUND-RAISING REPORT

by Michelle McGrew

 

We recently concluded our fund-raising event at Marie Callender's in Sunnyvale (April 23-25). Thanks to all who attended! We are truly grateful to all of our supporters, but we would especially like to acknowledge our supporters from Dinner with Friends. For several years now, the Dinner with Friends group has regularly attended our restaurant fundraisers. For those not familiar with this group, Dinner with Friends is a group of around 30 members consisting of clients from the Blind Center, their friends, and their family members. Their trips to a local restaurant each fourth Monday evening of the month are organized by Mona and Naomi, and are not a Blind Center activity. Thank you all for continuing to help us raise funds for the tech grant. This time, we raised $136.94!

 

We’d also like to thank Idalia McLean for her generous donation of $30 to our tech grant fund. She was unable to attend our fund-raising event, but still wanted to help out. If you were also unable to attend but would like to make a contribution to our tech grant fund, you're welcome to do so. Please make checks payable to SVCB and write "tech grant" in the memo. Donations may be mailed to the address at the top of this newsletter.

 

Thanks to all who got tickets for our 50/50 raffle at our April meeting! We sold $85 in tickets, so SVCB and our winner each received $42.50. Congratulations to our lucky winner, John Glass!

 

Our auction and raffle series continues with a raffle featuring donated items at our May meeting. Prizes include two purses (a clutch purse and a small shoulder purse), a conch shell, a six-foot audio extension cable, a Potato Express microwave cooker (not just for potatoes, and includes a recipe book), and a cloth grocery bag. Tickets are $1 each or six tickets for $5.

 

Our April Cookies of the Month fundraiser, benefiting our tech grant, featured Neiman Marcus Cookies baked by Bev Clifford. The recipe for these cookies was featured in the “Snack Shack” column of our July, 2017 newsletter. As of this writing, we sold 27 bags of cookies at our meeting and another 16 bags of cookies at the Blind Center. Thanks to all of our supporters! So far, altogether, we raised $43, and we expect to sell the remaining 22 bags of cookies the first Wednesday of May!

 

Later in May, Lorraine Brown will be baking more of her fabulous Cappuccino Royale Cookies. These cookies contain nuts, chocolate, and coffee! Each bag of cookies will sell for $1. If you would like to volunteer to bake cookies this year for this fundraiser, please call 888-652-5333 (leave a message to be forwarded to me, or look me up on our Membership List to call me directly), or send email to fundraising@svcb.cc.

 

Our chocolate supply is in transition. We have sold out of candy bars and have a limited supply of Meltaways left. Meltaways from Bakers Candies come in four-ounce bags containing about 13 individually-wrapped chocolates, and sell for $4 per bag. At the time of this writing, I have the following available: dark chocolate (2 plain, 1 mint, 1 orange, and 1 cherry), milk chocolate (2 plain, 2 mint, 2 peanut butter, 1 coconut, and 1 raspberry), 4 milk chocolate wrapped caramel, and 2 of the assorted (mix of both dark and milk chocolates). To order Meltaways, please contact me as listed above.

 

Or, choose one of our other snacks for $1 each! You may purchase bags of Welch's Fruit Snacks (2.25-oz bags of chewy fruit-flavored candies), Kirkland Nut Bars (contains a sprinkle of salt and a little chocolate), or as part of our Springtime Special Sale, nut mix with cranberries or with chocolate. To place an order for nut bars, Welch’s Fruit Snacks, or either nut mix, please contact me as listed above.

 

Hope to see you at the May meeting.

 

TIDBITS

compiled by Mike Keithley

 

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Resource and a Major Opportunity:

From the CCB advocacy committee:

 

The US Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) (www.consumerfinance.gov/empowerment) provides important resources designed to address the specific issues faced by people with disabilities.  And it presents these resources in several accessible formats.

 

CFPB also gives us a real opportunity to complain about abuses by financial firms.  Blind and low vision people may be at especially high risk as more and more of our banking, bill paying, grocery-ordering and other business is migrating to the cloud as we advance in age.  CFPB needs to know how all consumers are doing, but especially us.

 

Please check their website, including their resources such as the Toolkit.  And if you have a complaint or a story that sheds light on the complexities of money these days, or that demonstrates the particular problems with financial institutions faced by blind and low vision people, please file your complaint or share your story with them.

 

CCB Scholarships

 

If you are a student who is legally blind, attending school full time in 2018-2019, and reside in CA, please consider applying for a CCB scholarship.

 

Applications must be filed with supporting documentation by May 15, 2018. Please visit the CCB website at ccbnet.org to fill out the application online.

 

For questions or comments, please email Christy Crespin, Chair, CCB Scholarship Committee, at ccrespin@att.net.

 

Increased BARD Security

 

You are subscribed to NLS BARD Support from the Library of Congress. To enhance security of patron accounts and prevent misuse, NLS will be making the following change:

 

Each day, BARD will check to see if a patron account was last used more than one year ago. When BARD identifies unused accounts, these accounts will be moved to the Inactive/Suspended status. Any BARD account that holds the status of Inactive/Suspended can be reactivated quickly and easily by a library administrator.

 

To prevent this from happening to your account, simply use the service: that's it.

 

If for any reason you find yourself locked out of your account, please contact your cooperating NLS library. Send comments, questions, or concerns to nlsdownload@loc.gov.

 

HP Accessibility

 

A new phone number dedicated to the accessibility of HP equipment is 800-259-5707. Hours are Monday through Friday 6 AM to 9 PM mountain time.

 

EVENT CALENDAR: May Through June, 2018

compiled by Mike Keithley

 

Notes

 

Tabard Theatre shows: To order tickets, call the Tabard box  office at 408-679-2330 and speak to Marilyn Watts, or visit tabardtheatre.org. SVCB members and Blind Center clients should use Discount Code BC27 when ordering. Performances take place at Theatre on San Pedro Square, 29 North San Pedro Street, San Jose.

 

Shows described by AudioVision: For all San Francisco productions (Golden Gate and Orpheum theatres), tickets are generally on sale four weeks before the production opens. To charge tickets and reserve receivers, call 888-746-1799 (SHN Theaters), or fax your order to 415-581-2121 and ask for AudioVision tickets. If you have any questions, please email didisalvo@msn.com.

 

The monthly "Let's Talk Low Vision" conferences from CCLVI can be accessed as podcasts at www.airsla.org/cclvi.asp.

 

Bay Area Association of Disabled Sailors: Departs every Sunday at noon from Pier 40 in San Francisco. Call 415-281-0212 for information and reservations, or visit www.baads.org.

 

Bay Area Outreach and Recreation Program (BORP): BORP believes that everyone should have access to the unique challenges that outdoor recreation provides, and makes every effort to accommodate each person's needs, including providing transportation and volunteer support. For event listings, call Lori Gray at 510-843-4398, or visit www.borp.org.

 

Calendar

 

May: Healthy Vision Month.

 

May 15, 5:30 to 7 PM: Let’s Talk Low Vision, The ABC’s of the Council of Citizens with Low Vision Iternational,  712-432-3447 with ID 145330.

 

May 19, 9:30 AM to 1 PM: SVCB membership meeting. Guest speaker: CCB President Judy Wilkinson.

 

May 25, noon: June In Touch newsletter deadline.

 

May 26, 2 PM: THE COLOR PURPLE, Orpheum Theatre, San Francisco, descriptions by AudioVision.

 

May 27, 1:30 to 3 PM: Ye Olde Towne Band free concert, Shoup Park, 400 University Avenue, Los Altos.

 

June: Vision Research Month.

 

June 5, 5:30 to 7 PM: Breast Cancer Support Group. Call-in: 605-715-4920; ID: 2776167. For questions, call Lori Scharff at 516-887-1336, or lorischarff@gmail.com.

 

June 7, 7 to 9 PM: SVCB Board meeting. If you’re not on the Board but wish to attend this meeting, please contact President Susan Glass.

 

June 9-24: Tabard Theatre, LOVE Letters, see notes.

 

June 16, 9:30 AM to 1 PM: Monthly SVCB meeting. Finalize picnic plans. Remind members to acquire prizes.

 

June 16, 2 PM: AudioVision, THE HUMANS, Orpheum Theatre, San Francisco, see notes.

 

June 19, 5:30 to 7 PM: Let’s Talk Low Vision, Clinical Trials and Low Vision.

 

June 22, noon: July newsletter deadline.

 

June 24, 1:30 to 3 PM: Ye Olde Towne Band free concert.

 

June 27: Helen Keller Day.

 

June 29 and 30 at 8 PM, and Jul 1 at 2 PM: TheatreWorks, FINKS, described by the Visual Voice, MVCPA.