Newsletter of the SILICON VALLEY COUNCIL OF THE BLIND A Chapter of the California Council of the Blind
March 2019

EDITOR: Susan Glass,
COPY EDITOR: Beverly Clifford,
ADDRESS: P.O. Box 493, Mountain View, CA 94042
DEADLINE: for the April, 2019 issue: noon, March 22, a full moon
VOLUNTEERS: Naomi Grubb,
MEMBERSHIP: Mike Keithley,
LEGISLATION: Mike Keithley,

PHONE: 888-652-5333

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,

Monthly meetings are held at the Peninsula Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired (Vista Center San Jose) at 101 N. Bascom Avenue in San Jose. Meetings run 9:30 AM to 1 PM the third Saturday of the month and are open to all. 

* President's Message
* Membership Corner
* Kaiser Settlement Agreement Completion
* Fund-Raising Report
* The Lost Volunteers Have Been Found
* Snack Shack
* Tidbits
* Event Calendar

by Susan Glass

We had a celebratory day at our February membership meeting. It was our first meeting at our new home, the San Jose Vista Office, formerly the Santa Clara Valley Blind Center. Lisa Quan, Vice Manager of the San Jose facility, was on hand to welcome us, and make sure that all things were in good order. Thank you, Lisa! Our featured speaker was Valerie Campos, Director of Adult Services at Vista, who shared the many recreation programs available to blind and visually impaired people through the three Vista offices: Palo Alto, San Jose, and Santa Cruz. Our members seemed especially interested in the Shared Paths hiking program, and the Angel Island kayaking excursions, and we discussed ways of expanding these opportunities. A highlight of our business meeting was that we raised $560 to donate to Mr. Eric Williams, a blind survivor of last year's Paradise fire. We had passed a resolution to do this back in November, and I was gratified to see it brought to fruition, and moved by the generosity of our members.

March promises to be a busy month for SVCB. On March 9, several in our chapter will volunteer as scorers and proctors at the California Regional Braille Challenge, to be held this year at the Fremont School for the Blind. This event always inspires me. It's great to see blind kids testing their literacy prowess and socializing together and to see their siblings and parents joining them as whole families become champions of braille. As a follow-up to the Braille Challenge, our March program speaker will be Ms. Evelyn Comstock, long-time volunteer for the Santa Clara Valley Braille Transcription Project. Evelyn will discuss the origins of the project, work it has done in the past, current work and clients, and ways in which we in Svcb can help promote its mission.

ACB has just concluded its 2019 Leadership meeting and Legislative seminar, as well as its day on "The Hill." You may recall that SVCB sponsored Mr. Aaron Espinoza of the Bakersfield chapter to attend the Legislative seminar. Shortly, I will be contacting him to arrange for either a written or oral presentation to our chapter about his experience in Washington.

Do you have ideas about programs or program speakers that you'd like to see us offer at our monthly membership meetings? Please pass your suggestions along to Mike Keithley, Naomi Grubb, or Susan Glass, your program planning team.

by Mike Keithley

Well now, we had our very first meeting at the Vista Center San Jose Branch, formally the Silicon Valley Blind Center in San Jose. We didn't have good ALD equipment there, but Pocket Talkers were available, and they were better than nothing.

Valerie Campos, Director of Adult Services and O and M Specialist at the Vista Center Palo Alto Branch, told us about the Shared Paths Hiking Program, as well as other recreational activities available to blind and visually impaired adults in Santa Clara, San Mateo and Santa Cruz counties. You can hear the meeting program at Unfortunately you won't find the sound quality very good, but check it out anyway!

We've got our picnic site for the August event. It will be our old friend Sylvandale in Hellyer Community Park in San Jose.

Despite King's effort, plus Omni's in the dead of night, our membership has fallen to 61 people. 21 people didn't renew! Too ban they'll loose their newsletters.

But you can say hello to Gerry Cherry, our newest member from South Korea And let's wish happy March birthdays to Ruth Fisher.

SVCB member Nancy Cleveland passed away early in February. Peace to her and her friends.

We will publish the spring membership list with this newsletter in your chosen format. Be on the lookout!

Below is information about the upcoming CCB conference and Convention in Fresno. It's excerpted from the latest CCB Happenings (formerly the California Connection).

Don't miss the 85th anniversary of the California Council of the Blind as we hold our annual 2019 Conference and Convention in Fresno, June 5-9 at the DoubleTree by Hilton Fresno Convention Center, located at 2233 Ventura Street, Fresno. Be sure to mention that you are attending the California Council of the Blind Convention. The all-inclusive rate is $135 per night, although the preservationist may quote you the price of $117.90 plus tax, which is equal to $135. You may make reservations by calling 559-268-1000 or online at

Although the cut-off date for making reservations is May 22, we strongly urge you to make reservations early, since rooms may go quickly, and our room allotment would be fully used.

The hotel is just a few blocks from both the Greyhound bus and Amtrak stations, and both of these transportation options are available from most areas of the state. Also, the hotel operates a free shuttle to and from those locations as well as the airport. The shuttle runs from 6:00 am-9:30 pm.

Submitted by Dawn Wilcox

Editor's Note: Many blind Californians receive their medical care from Kaiser Permanente, including several members of SVCB. Many have encountered accessibility problems working with Kaiser. Back in 2011, Dawn Wilcox, Barbara Rhodes, and other blind Californians traveled together to Oakland to testify at a hearing about the access difficulties they were having with their Kaiser care providers. Following several years of structured negotiations with Kaiser (see the document below for details), a legal settlement has been reached, bringing with it a number of improvements in Kaiser services. Here is the letter that Dawn Wilcox and other blind Californians who participated in the hearing recently received from the attorneys who brokered the final settlement.

Representation by Disability Rights Advocates, and Goldstein Borgen Dardarian and Ho, to Address Kaiser Permanente's Discrimination Against Individuals with Visual Impairments

Background: In 2011, the California Council of the Blind (CCB) retained Goldstein, Demchak, Baller, Borgen, and Dardarian, and Disability Rights Advocates (DRA's), to represent them in regard to claims against Kaiser Permanente (Kaiser) related to various barriers to accessing Kaiser's medical facilities, healthcare services, and programs, including Kaiser's website, for persons with visual impairments. In the course of this representation, we undertook negotiations with Kaiser on behalf of CCB and a number of claimants, to determine whether a resolution could be reached to address the accessibility barriers without the need for litigation. These negotiations were successful.

Kaiser has made substantial improvements during this time, and has made additional accessibility enhancements beyond those required under the agreement. The settlement agreement terminated at the end of October 2018, and we have now concluded monitoring the implementation of all its requirements. Thus, DRA and GBDH hereby terminate any representation agreement that may have been formed during the course of the aforementioned negotiations and settlement agreement term. However, should you experience further disability-related discrimination by Kaiser, please do not hesitate to reach back out to us.

Meredith J. Weaver, Disability Rights Advocates, 2001 Center Street, Fourth Floor, Berkeley, California 94704-1204; 510-665-8644 (Tel); 510-665-8511 (Fax)

Highlights of the Kaiser Settlement Agreement

Alternative Formats: Members can request alternative format documents (braille, audio, large print, accessible PDF) by notifying the relevant care provider at the time the document is provided, or by contacting Member Services to request the specific document.

Prescriptions: Kaiser transitioned from Talking Rx to ScripTalk. It takes approximately 3-5 minutes to program each prescription. To avoid wait-time at the pharmacy, Kaiser recommends ordering prescriptions by mail, or placing orders in advance whenever possible.

Web Access Website: While the settlement agreement has now concluded, we expect that Kaiser will continue to implement the WCAG standards on its website and mobile applications. If you experience accessibility barriers on these platforms, contact Kaiser's help line that offers real-time, one-on-one assistance and troubleshooting at 800-556-7677 (toll free), Mon - Fri, 6 AM to 7 PM Pacific time or Sat and Sun, 7 AM to 3 PM Pacific time, excluding major holidays.

Touch Screen Kiosks: All kiosks in the Northern California region, which are limited to check-in services, are now accessible.

For appointment-related questionnaires, Kaiser has requested that the software developers bring inaccessible applications into conformance with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, with clinicians collecting the information verbally in a private setting in the interim. If you experience any ongoing barriers, please contact Member Services (in person, by phone, or via the online complaint form) to submit your complaints and grievances via Kaiser's internal processes. If you would prefer to speak to an ADA coordinator, contact Member Services and ask the Customer Service Representative to put you in touch.

Contacts: California Member Services: English, 800-464-4000; TTY 711; Spanish: 800-788-0616; or Chinese dialects, 800-757-7585. Hours: Open 7 days a week, 24 hours a day; closed holidays. Website:

by Michelle McGrew

Save the dates and spread the word! Please join us at our next fund-raising event at Marie Callender's (751 East El Camino Real, Sunnyvale, CA 94087) any time Monday, April 22 through Tuesday, April 23, 2019 (11 AM-8 PM) for a meal, dessert or snack, or even to purchase a pie to take home! Please call 408-245-3710 to make reservations if you have a party of 6 or more. Present one of our fund-raising event flyers to your server, and Marie Callender's will donate 20% of each purchase (excluding alcohol, tax, and tip) to SVCB's technology grant program! We'll have the required flyer at the March and April meetings, and should soon have the flyer available on our website at for you to download and print. (Note: Marie Callender's will not have extra copies, and we will not receive credit for your purchases if your party does not have a flyer.)

Thanks to all who got tickets for our raffle featuring donated items at our February meeting! Prizes included a bundt cake pan, cassettes of the Great Radio Comeddies, a book on CD, two movies on VHS, two doilies in a box, a Trumpeter Swan stuffed animal, an overnight bag for a woman, and a gift bag of spices. (Sorry, we were unable to raffle the dog treats, as we discovered they were past their expiration date.) Our winners were Mary, Kathy, Trina, Donna, Irene, and April. Thanks to all who donated prizes and to those who purchased tickets. We raised $84!

At our March meeting, we will have a 50/50 raffle. Tickets are $1 each or $5 for six.

Our February Cookies of the Month fund-raiser, benefiting our tech grant, featured Raspberry Chocolate Chip Cookies baked by me. You can find the cookie recipe in the "Snack Shack" article in this newsletter. We sold 25 bags of cookies at our meeting, and another 20 bags of cookies on Wednesday at the Blind Center, and we still have more to sell. Also, after I wrote last month's report, we sold an additional 29 bags of January's cookies at the Blind Center. Thanks to all of our supporters! Altogether since my last report, we raised $74!

For March, Mary Castellano will be baking Biscocho Cookies. These special diamond-shaped cookies contain anise and cinnamon, and are becoming an annual favorite! Each bag of cookies will sell for $1.

Looking for a great Easter gift? Meltaways from Bakers Candies come in four-ounce bags containing about 13 individually-wrapped chocolates, and sell for $4 per bag. I currently have the following flavors available: five kinds of dark chocolate (plain, mint, orange, cherry, and sea salt caramel), six kinds of milk chocolate (plain, mint, peanut butter, raspberry, coconut, and mocha), and milk chocolate-wrapped caramel. (Sorry, we're sold out of the assorted.)

We just received our first shipment of candy bars from our new vendor! Made by Van Wyk Confections, these peanut-free, 1.5-ounce bars are slightly larger than the World's Finest bars that we've been selling. We still have four kinds of milk chocolate: with roasted almonds, creamy caramel, crispy rice, and plain. We still receive a limited amount of dark chocolate, but with almonds rather than plain. To purchase or help sell candy bars, or to order Meltaways, please contact me by calling 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

Or, choose one of our other options! We're selling bags of nut mix as part of our Looking Forward to Spring Sale. These come with either sweetened dried cranberries or with chunks of dark chocolate. You can also purchase Kirkland nut bars (contains a sprinkle of salt and a little chocolate) and bags of Welch's Fruit Snacks (2.2-ounce bags of chewy fruit-flavored candies, in the following flavors: Mixed Fruit, Island Fruit, Apple Orchard Medley, Strawberry, and Berries 'n Cherries). The nut mixes, nut bars, and Welch's Fruit Snacks are all $1 each. To place an order, contact me as listed above.

On March 3, I go to train with my new guide dog. Since I graduate on March 16, I will not be at our next meeting. So, instead, look for Carol Silveria at our March meeting, and for Naomi at the Blind Center on Wednesdays while I'm away!

by Bev Clifford

Hi everyone,

I am delighted to inform you that my little song from last month, sung so tearfully out into the ether, has brought results: we now have a full roster of goodies volunteers for the year 2019. Thanks to all of you who went searching, and to all of you who stepped forward to fill each month's slot. We can't wait to see what delicacies you have in store for us at our meetings.


Raspberry Chocolate Chip Cookies
Submitted by Michelle McGrew

Originally entitled Vanilla Rich Chocolate Chip Cookies, this recipe came from a vanilla extract box. It called for 4 teaspoons vanilla, but I replaced some of the vanilla extract with ???????? extract that I purchased from Nob Hill.

3-1/4 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1-1/3 cup butter, softened
1-1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
2 eggs
2-2/3 teaspoon raspberry extract
1-1/3 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 (12-ounce) package semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup chopped walnuts

Mix flour, baking soda, and salt; set aside.

Beat butter and sugars with an electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add eggs and extracts; mix well. Gradually beat in flour mixture on low speed. Stir in chocolate chips and walnuts.

Drop by rounded tablespoons 2 inches apart on ungreased baking sheet. Bake in preheated 375 degree oven 8-10 minutes, or until lightly browned. Cool on baking sheets 1 minute. Remove to wire racks. Cool completely.

Makes about 5 dozen cookies.

Compiled by Mike Keithley

Time of Use Program

As you may have heard, our Energy Upgrade California grant has been canceled. This stems mainly from the PG&E bankruptcy. We are hopeful that it will continue at some point, but for now we are being told to halt activities as of February 28. Duane Poole is still available to speak to any chapters, and can be reached at the phone number or email address below.

We are reprinting the information here about how to sign up if you are interested.

CCB has partnered with Energy Upgrade California (EUC) to launch an energy management initiative through the TOU (Time of Use) program.

Specifically, the TOU program encourages Californians to manage energy during the peak demand period between 4 PM to 9 PM, and shift usage to other parts of the day between 6 AM and 9 PM, when electricity from renewable resources is more readily available and costs less to produce. To receive seasonal tips, sign up with the EUC campaign at

If you have any questions you can reach Duane Poole, Community Educator at the CCB office, by dialing 800-221-6359 and following the prompts, or

Vision Grant Program

The Lions Vision Resource Network (formerly Lions Center for the Blind, Oakland) announces the availability of grants-in-aid to individuals who are blind or visually impaired and reside in Alameda and Contra Costa Counties. The intent of the program is to fill in the gaps in existing coverage by other agencies, with grants of up to $5,000. The application deadline is March 15, 2019.

Questions regarding the New Vision Grant Program can be addressed to Maureen Powers, LVRN President, at, or by phone at 510-450-1580.

ACB Advocacy Update

The ACB Advocacy Update has been added to the Audio Now hotline so you can listen to it any time you like. To listen, dial 605-475-8154 and select option 5. Note that you can also hear the ACBRadio channels through this number.

New Tax Resource

This spring we will be filing our first returns under the new tax law. Many well-publicized provisions of the new law, such as lower tax rates, higher standard deductions, and increased childcare credit, are applicable to everyone. But the law also contains provisions specifically effecting people with disabilities. These disability-specific provisions have not been widely reported or brought together in one place until now.

Six New Tax Benefits for People with Disabilities: What You Should Know About the New Tax Law, by ACB member Steven Mendelsohn, is an eBook available at:"ie_kUTFBLEH&QID_Kbleaedhdcbfd&SR_K8-A-SPELL&KEYWORDS_KSIX+NEW+TAX+DISABILITES. It explains the most impactful among these, including improvements to the ABLE Act that helps working people; elimination of taxes on people whose student loan debts are forgiven on account of disability; an experimental FMLA tax credit; a new dependent care credit; preservation of the impairment-related work expenses deduction; and temporary improvements to the medical expense deduction.

This clearly-written, fully-referenced, 21-page guide is available for $2.99 as a Kindle download. All proceeds of sale go directly to our California Council of the Blind affiliate.

Compiled by Mike Keithley


Tabard Theatre shows: To order tickets, call the Tabard box office at 408-679-2330 and speak to Marilyn Watts, or visit SVCB members and Blind Center clients should use Discount Code BC27 when ordering. Performances take place at The Tabard THEATRE, 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

The monthly "Let's Talk Low Vision" conferences from CCLVI can be accessed as podcasts at
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

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


Mar 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

Mar 7, 7 to 9 PM: SVCB Board meeting; call-in: 800-662-6992, with ID code 1184109. If you're not on the Board but wish to attend this meeting, please contact President Susan Glass.

March 9: Northern California Regional Braille Challenge; California School for the Blind, 500 Walnut Ave., Fremont, CA 94536. Contact Angela Martyn at, or call 510-936-5514.

Mar 9, 2 PM: HAMILTON, descriptions by AudioVision, Golden Gate Theatre.

Mar 16, 9:30 AM to 1 PM: Monthly SVCB meeting. Discuss resolutions for CCB Convention.

Mar 19, 5:30 to 7 PM: Let's Talk Low Vision, Emergency Preparedness; 712-432-3447, with ID code 145330.

Mar 22, noon: April newsletter deadline. Distribute spring membership list.

Mar 29 and 30 at 8 PM and 31 at 2 PM: MARIE AND ROSETTA, descriptions by the Visual Voice, TheatreWorks, Lucie Stern.

Apr 2, 5:30 to 7 PM: Breast Cancer Support Group.

Apr 4, 7 to 9 PM: SVCB Board meeting.

Thur Apr 11 to Sun Apr 14: 60th California Transcribers and Educators for the Blind and Visually Impaired (CTEbVI) conference at the San Francisco Airport Marriott in Burlingame, CA.

Apr 20, 9:30 AM to 1 PM: Monthly meeting.

Apr 26, noon: SVCB newsletter deadline.

Apr 26 and 27 at 8 PM and 28 at 2 PM: HERSHEY FELDER: A PARIS LOVE STORY, descriptions by The Visual Voice, TheatreWorks, MVCPA.

Apr 28, 2 PM: HAMILTON, descriptions by AudioVision, see notes.