A Chapter of the California Council of the Blind

September 2019


EDITOR: Susan Glass,

COPY EDITOR: Beverly Clifford,

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

DEADLINE: for the October, 2019 issue: noon, September 27


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 Santa Clara Valley Blind Center (Vista Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired San Jose).  Meetings run 9:30 AM to 1 PM the third Saturday of the month and are open to all.




* President's Message

* Program* Membership Corner

* Announcing Vista Tech Conference

* Fund-Raising Report

* Snack Shack

* Tidbits

* Event Calendar




by Susan Glass


Back in November of 2018, I took a deep breath and got an iPhone.  That's right: I graduated from my darling little flip phone with its tactile buttons: a Samsung Gusto 3.  I went from bewilderment at no buttons and a blank screen to amazement at the fact that I now held a lighghtning-fast computer in my hands that just so happened to make phone calls, too.  I'd been afraid of the iPhone, afraid it would snatch my soul and turn me into one of those people who sits beside you in a restaurant talking into this plastic thing instead of talking to you.  Well, that didn't happen.  And it hasn't happened to my friends with iPhones, either.  On the contrary: Everybody I know with an iPhone has been super kind about sharing his/her knowledge, and helping me get comfortable with what's turning out to be a tool for freedom and independence.


This is the story, not of Alice in Wonerland, but of Susan and the Wonder Apps.  I'm now making daily use of VoiceDream Scanner, an app that allows me to read the envelopes of our incoming mail, discard the junk, and keep only the serious mail (bills, credit card statements, and hand-written materials) to study carefully with my friend Julie, who is also John's and my reader.  VoiceDream scanner is similar to SEEING AI, though Seeing AI has more functions.  I do think that VoiceDream reads more accurately.  I'm also using Microsoft's SoundScape, which combines onboard maps, GPS, and 3-D sounds to call out points of interest in the environment.  So, if I'm walking through my nearby shopping center, SoundScape will tell me that Starbucks is on my left, and I will hear that information spoken into my left earphone.  I will also hear the words "Reading Clinic, 50 feet ahead and on your right," spoken into my right ear.  SoundScape also lets you set pinging beacons--in other words, audio markers--at places to which you want to return.  I have set such a beacon at Garrod Stables where I go horseback riding every Tuesday.  The office building at Garrod used to be difficult for me to find, but it's easier now that I've marked it with the sound beacon.


I'm not planning on becoming bionic any time soon.  My favorite walking/navigation partner is still my guide dog Omni, and sorting through the mail with Julie sweetly combines friendship with a necessary task.  But I'm enjoying the opportunities and choices that technology continues to offer to all in our blind and visually impaired community.


And speaking of technology, be sure to read Alice Turner's article inviting you to this year's Vista Technology Education Conference, to be held on September 28 from 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM at the UCSC Silicon Valley Campus located in Santa Clara.  There will be something at this event for everyone, so let's come out and represent SVCB in a huge way!





Our program speaker for the September SVCB meeting will be Patty Eaton, Public Risk Communications Officer, Office of Emergency Management, County of Santa Clara.  She will speak to us about emergency preparedness, and she would like us to think about specific questions we might have on the subject which she will be happy to answer as best she can.




by Mike Keithley


The SVCB picnic is now history, and every time I write about it I like to read what I wrote about it all the way back to 2010.  And not surprisingly, it's thank you and thank you for the hard work, and didn't we have such a good time.


Someone got that 25-inch TV (I heard it was Suzanne Smith), and I took home that big crock pot someone named my "crap pot." And no, we're not going to be cooking with it: it's going to our church.  "Um, master, why didn't you let someone else take it?" Because I wasn't thinking! "That's master for you!"

Many thanks to Victor and cooks, Naomi and volunteers (many were from the Blind Center), and Carol Silveria for the rich raffle prizes.  Fifty-two people were there, and we raised over $200.


Let's wish happy September birthdays to Mike Keithley and Donald Reelfs.  "And don't forget about me! I love singing Happy Birthday to myself." Big deal! And we hear that the Runyans will soon take a cruise through the Inside Passage.  Lots of fun to them both!




by Alice Turner


Hello SVCB Members:


Vista Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired will be hosting Vista TEC (Technology Education Conference) 2019, on September 28th from 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM at the UCSC Silicon Valley Campus located in Santa Clara.  This conference will offer a unique opportunity for community members to learn about the latest in assistive technology.  The conference promotes a collaborative environment for all participants, which includes tech researchers, software developers, assistive technology users, friends, and family.


The topics at the conference will cover autonomous vehicles, employment, entertainment for all, artificial intelligence, and we have 15 exhibitors who will be available as well.  Speakers and panelists will include representatives from Apple, Amazon, Netflix, Google, AIRA, and more.  This conference is not restricted to people who are blind or visually impaired, and we are welcoming people from all over the state to come learn with us.


Vista TEC is also a fundraiser to support the work Vista Center is doing for the 3200 clients we serve annually in four counties: San Mateo, Santa Clara, San Benito, and Santa Cruz.


Please visit the event website to register and learn more; speakers are being added regularly.


If you are interested in registration and need a scholarship to cover the cost of the ticket, which includes lunch and refreshments, please contact Andrea Tsang at, or call (650) 858-0202 x 125.  All attendees who are blind or visually impaired are eligible for the scholarship for the cost of the ticket.


John Glass and Alice Turner are serving as content program co-chairs, so feel free to reach out to them if you have questions.


Hope to see you all at Vista TEC!




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, September 23 through Tuesday, September 24, 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 our September meeting.  Or, visit our website at to download and print the required flyer.  (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.)


Then, in October, you are invited to an old-time radio show fund-raiser! We have scheduled the event for Saturday, October 12 at Vista Center San Jose (101 North Bascom Avenue, San Jose, CA).  We'll play old-time radio shows from 1 to 4 pm.  So, please plan to arrive from noon to 1 pm and to depart from 4 to 4:30 pm.  Themes for these shows include Halloween, back-to-school, and Autumn.  If you have suggestions for a favorite show or series, please call 888-652-5333 and leave a message to be forwarded to John Glass, or look him up on our Membership List to call him directly.  Admission is $10 per person ($5 for youth ages 14 and under).  Snacks and drinks will be available at $1 each.  Funds raised will benefit our tech grant and other SVCB projects and services.  We will have flyers about this event at our September meeting.  Or, visit our website at to download and print the flyer to share with others.


I am now taking orders for next year's large print/braille calendar featuring artwork by blind and visually impaired people of all ages.  I have ordered 55 calendars, and expect them to arrive in time for the September meeting.  Remember, these are great to share with others! This year, they will cost $10 each.  To reserve yours, 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


Thanks to all who got tickets at our picnic raffle; we completely sold out! Prizes included a two-piece picnic set (including a wine carrier), a four-tier mini greenhouse, a high velocity fan, a porcelain serving tray with a chrome-plated serving rack, a round Rival Crock-Pot, a wicker picnic basket (including a first aid kit), an accessible audio receiver, a blood pressure cuff, a scale, coffee, and our grand prize: a 24-inch Samsung Series 4 LED TV.  Congratulations to our winners: John V., Julio, Diane W., David, Noel, Bev, Mike, Kathy T., and Suzanne! This raffle also had an interesting twist: When some of our winners received their prizes, they gifted them to others.  So, congratulations also go to Vic, Mike, Alice, Sharon, Kannie, and David! We raised $271!


And, it seems we've been developing a new tradition: an impromptu auction of extra picnic foods and supplies.  Congratulations to this year's highest bidders: Julio, Noel, Trina, Alice, Lupe, Donna, Suzanne, Sharon, and John V.! We raised $42.80! Stay tuned to the Phone Tree to learn what we plan to auction at our September meeting!


As announced in the August Phone Tree, I baked Peanut Butter Crisscross Cookies to sell at the Blind Center for our August Cookies of the Month.  This fund-raiser continues to benefit our tech grant.  (The recipe for these cookies was featured in the "Snack Shack" column of our October, 2017 newsletter.) Thanks to all of our supporters at the Blind Center! We raised $28! Note that if you missed ordering some to pick up at the picnic, let me know, and I can bring them to you at our September meeting.


For September, I will be baking Caramel Chocolate Chip Cookies with Walnuts.  Each bag of cookies will sell for $1.  To pre-order either kind of cookie in advance, please contact me as listed above.


We continue to sell our summertime snack selections.  For $1 each, you may purchase bags of Welch's Fruit Snacks (2.2-ounce bags of chewy fruit-flavored candies), Kirkland Nut Bars (contains a sprinkle of salt and a little chocolate), or as part of our Summertime Snack 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.


See you at our September meeting!






Recipe submitted by Suzanne Smith

Background information researched by Michelle McGrew


Suzanne received this Danish recipe in one of her classes in ninth grade.  According to the web, the Danish word aebleskiver means apple slices in English (singular is aebleskive).  Ableskiver are traditional Danish cakes, somewhat similar in texture to American pancakes, except that they are cooked in a cast iron skillet that has several hemispherical indentations in the bottom of the pan.  (These pans are available from Amazon.) As the Aebleskiver cook, the batter puffs.  The pancake balls are traditionally turned using a knitting needle, but you can also use a chopstick or wooden skewer.




2 eggs, separated

1 teaspoon granulated sugar

1/8 teaspoon cardamom

1/2 cup light cream

3/4 cup regular flour, sifted

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

Melted butter




Beat egg yolks with sugar, cardamom, and cream until well blended.  Sift flour again with baking powder and salt.  Stir flour into egg yolk  mixture.  Whip egg whites until they hold short, distinct peaks.  Fold egg whites into batter.


Heat Aebleskiver pan on medium high for 1 minute.  Brush surface with melted butter.  Allow 1/4 teaspoon per cup.  The butter should sizzle before adding batter.  Fill cups 2/3 full.  Flip the aebleskiver by using a knitting needle inserted in the center.  Dust the pancakes with powdered sugar and dab with tart jelly.


Fry Bread

Submitted by Suzanne Smith


I received this native American recipe at a powwow.  To make fry bread more healthy, this recipe mixes whole wheat flour with white flour, and uses vegetable oil instead of lard.


2 cups whole wheat flour

3 cups white flour

4 tablespoons baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1 cup warm water


1.  Mix together whole wheat flour, white flour, baking powder, and salt.  Add vegetable oil, a little at a time, only enough to make the mixture look like cornmeal.  Slowly add 1 cup warm water, only adding enough to make dough stick together.  Roll into fist-sized balls.  Cover the bowl with a towel for about 10 minutes.  Pat dough out with your hands to the size of large pancakes.  Fry in hot vegetable oil (about 375 degrees) until golden brown on both sides.


To make an Indian taco, put beans, shredded lettuce, tomato, and cheese on top of fry bread.




by Mike Keithley


The first five minutes of an AIRA call is free, and you don't have to be registered on a plan.   AIRA is the company that makes the Be My Eyes application for iOs and Android.


You need the latest Be My Eyes App installed on your Smart Phone, and you get the app by going to the appropriate play store.  To ask questions, email


BE my Eyes lets you talk to a human volunteer who directs you to do visual tasks you otherwise couldn't accomplish.


Comcast's $10 Internet Plan Opens Up to All Low-income and Disabled Americans--TechCrunch as distributed on the BITS mailing list


Low-income families face the same issues the luckier among us do when it comes to getting broadband: few options and fewer still that are affordable.  Comcast, though simultaneously the source of many of these issues, has a good program for anyone facing financial hardship, and several new groups now qualify for $10 connectivity.


The "Internet Essentials" program has for several years now offered cheap internet to the economically disadvantaged and other groups who need a helping hand.  It has connected some two million households so far, and may connect plenty more under the new, expanded eligibility options the company just announced.


Essentially, if you're the beneficiary of any of a bunch of financial aid programs from the government, or are disabled, or a low-income household, you're eligible.  You can apply here for free at


In case you're not quite sure of your exact income, you're also welcome if you take part in any of the following assistance programs:


Medicaid National School Lunch Program (NSLP, free and reduced-price lunch)

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP or food stamps)

HUD housing assistance and Section 8

Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (welfare)

Supplemental Security Income (social security)

Head Start or Early Head Start Low Income

Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)

Tribal assistance (TTANF and FDPIR)

Women, Infants, and Children (WIC)

VA pension


Any of these should qualify you for $10 broadband (plus applicable taxes and fees--probably a couple bucks).  You also can apply for a $150 computer, but I'm not sure I'd recommend whatever they're selling.  Cheap laptops are pretty easy to find, so ask around before you go in on Comcast's house brand.


AB947--Jeff Thom


Our bill, AB947, to remove limitations upon the ability to provide orientation and mobility services and to place the expanded core curriculum into statute, has passed the Senate Appropriations unanimously This should mean that it will be passed by the Legislature and sent to the Governor.  At present, we anticipate signature by the Governor, but we will alert you to any developments in this area.



EVENT CALENDAR: September through October, 2019

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




Sep 3, 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


Sep 5, 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.


Sep 13 through Oct 6: SHERLOCK Holmes AND THE MYSTERY OF THE CROWN JEWELS; Tabard Theatre; see notes.


Sep 13 and 14 at 8 PM and 15 at 2 PM: THE 39 STEPS; descriptions by the Visual Voice; TheatreWorks; MVCPA.


Sep 21, 7 to 9 PM: SVCB Monthly meeting.  Announce Nominating Committee and begin planning for Braille Literacy Month.

Sep 21, 2 PM: ANASTASIA; Descriptions by AudioVision; Golden Gate Theatre; see notes.


Sep 27, noon: October In Touch newsletter.


Sept 28, 9 AM to 4 PM: Vista Center Technology Education Conference, UCSC Silicon Valley Campus, Santa Clara; register at; for scholarships contact Andrea Tsang at, or 650-858-0202 x 125; contact Alice Turner or John Glass with questions.


October: Employment of People with Disabilities Awareness Month.


Oct 1, 5:30 to 7 PM: Breast Cancer Support Group.


Oct 3, 7 to 9 PM: SVCB board meeting.


Oct 12, 1 to 4 PM: Old-Time Radio Show, Vista Center San Jose.


Oct 15: White Cane Safety Day.


Oct 19, 9:30 AM to 1 PM: SVCB monthly meeting; formally consider Constitution and Bylaws amendments.


Oct 25, noon: November SVCB newsletter.


Oct 25 to Nov 17: THE TIN WOMAN, Tabard Theatre, see notes.