A Chapter of the California Council of the Blind

October 2019


EDITOR: Susan Glass,

COPY EDITOR: Beverly Clifford,

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

DEADLINE: for the November, 2019 issue: noon, October 25


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

* Membership Corner

* Accessible Voting In Santa Clara County

* Fund-Raising Report

* First Call for Goodies

* inin Snack Shack

* Tidbits

* Event Calendar



by Susan Glass


Autumn is always a busy season for SVCB, and for the visually impaired/blind community in all 3 Vista Center locales.  Anyone who attended our September SVCB program is probably thinking about emergency preparedness and safety after listening to the presentation by Patty Eaton, Public Risk Communications Officer, Office of Emergency Management, Santa Clara County.  Ms. Eaton's presentation was beautifully organized and packed with valuable information.† Rob Turner and I took copious notes, and I had planned to convert them into an article for this edition of In Touch.† But I ran out of time, so I promise to have that article ready for our November issue.


At this writing, we've just completed a successful Marie Callenders tech grant fund-raiser, and are gearing up for our October 12 Old-Time Radio show tech grant event.  Invite your friends, as many as possible! Invite anyone you know who enjoys old-time radio.† And our Tech Grant Committee is hard at work revising and retooling our application so that it's more inclusive and welcoming to applicants.


On September 28, the Vista Center sponsored its Technology Education Conference (TEC) which featured more than 200 attendees, several exhibits/exhibitors, and some oustanding presentations on artificial intelligence, self-driving cars, and visual impairment and employment.  We also learned about Project Invent, that features students from Santa Clara High School who work with their instructor, a specialized curriculum, and a visually impaired person to design a product that helps that person address a challenge in his/her life.† A number of SVCB members attended the conference, and will share their experiences at our October meeting.

We have Mike Keithley to thank for our October program, which is called The World According To Us, or WAU. Come share something of interest that's going on in your life right now.  I just bought a horse, so I'll be telling you all about him.† Rob Turner just retired from his job at Benetech, so it will be fun hearing about all the leisure activities that he's planning.


At our November meeting, we'll be electing new SVCB officers and Board members.  John Glass and Lorraine Brown are our Nominating Committee, and they may approach you to ask if you are interested in serving as an SVCB officer or Board member.  They will announce the slate of candidates at our October meeting, and the slate will be published in our November newsletter.† We'd love some nominations from the floor! Available officer positions include President, Vice President, Recording Secretary, Corresponding Secretary, Treasurer, and Board members.  If you think you are interested in running for any of these positions, I suggest that you contact the current office holder, or John Glass or Lorrain Brown, to review the responsibilities inherent in that officer position.


See you at our October meeting.



by Mike Keithley


Well now, fall is really here, with balmy days and surprisingly cold nights.  A walk in the morning wakes me up! "Yes, bracing; I remember, like how on those cold nights waiting for a bus, master would sit me between his legs and put his hands under my harness over my back, nice warm thick fur there."


Anyway, interesting things have been happening.  We've finally been able to use our ALD equipment, so we hearing impaired freaks can really hear the meetings, and make a decent recording, too.  Rob Turner has retired from Benetech and promises to keep busy.† The Runyans are back from their Alaskan cruise, full of many stories.† And Mickey and Sandy Quenzer have purchased a new house in Franklin Kentucky, which is near Tennessee and Nashville.  They produce the audio newsletter.


We had a wonderful September program where Patty Eaton (Public Risk Communications Officer, Office of Emergency Management, County of Santa Clara) spoke to us about preparing for emergencies, and the facilities available throughout Santa Clara County.  Two emergency kits were raffled, and King got one.† "I'm not sure what I'm going to do with it: What do I need it for? Anyway, I know where it is because I put it there!" You can hear the program at


An item in the business meeting was the announcement of the Nominating Committee: John Glass and Lorraine Brown.  This committee will produce a slate of candidates for SVCB's 2020 administration.† So if you want to be SVCB President, Vice President, Recording Secretary, Corresponding Secretary, or Board member, contact An SVCB officer or John Glass.


Let's wish happy October pumpkins to John Kanze, Donna Sanchez, and Michelle McGrew--they'll love you!



by Mike Keithley, with help from Michelle McGrew


I want to describe a presentation on the 2020 Accessible Voting Roll-out in Santa Clara County.  It was on Wednesday, September 18 at the former Santa Clara Valley Blind Center, now the Vista Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired, San Jose.


We learned that a new voting system will be implemented for the 2020 election cycle beginning with the primaries in March, and that this will include new accessible voting equipment.  Staff from the Registrar of Voters Office will be visiting throughout the coming fall and winter with additional information.


As I understand it, mail-in ballots will be sent to all voters registered in Santa Clara County.  You may vote by mail or in person.† Instead of having a specific polling place for each precinct as before, voters who wish to vote in person will now have their choice of voting at any "Vote Center" in the county.  It was reiterated that Vista Center San Jose will be a "Vote Center," a facility having the voting equipment blind or visually impaired people can use to cast their ballots.† (Other "Vote Centers" will also have the equipment, but Vista Center San Jose will have more machines to serve this particular community.) "Vote Centers" will either be open for eleven days (starting ten days before Election Day) or for four days (starting three days before Election Day), and will close at the end of Election Day.  The "Vote Center" at Vista Center San Jose will be open for four days.† Apparently, you can vote in person any time in this period.


Like the old voting machines, the new ones can either be used with a touch screen or in the audio mode.  When in audio mode, we learned that you can vote using a headset and an Audio Tactile Interface (ATI).† You hear speech through the headset, and manipulate structured keys on the ATI (keypad) to cast your vote.  I couldn't hear the speech well, but what I did hear seemed clear.† (Others had no problem hearing the speech.) Although there is braille labeling on the ATI (which seemed fine to me), this system is not set up for braille-only users, and I guess deaf-blind people have to use a mail-in ballot.  But I could use the system, assuming there are no problems hearing the speech.† Those using the touch screen will be able to change the font size and color contrast.


When you're finished voting, the voting machine will print your ballot out on paper (unlike the old machines that stored the votes electronically).  The voter then takes the paper ballot over to put it into the Tabulator Machine.† This machine scans the paper ballot and tabulates the votes.† It will then keep the ballot, giving the Registrar of Voters a paper trail in case ballots must be recounted by hand later on.


The thinking seems to be that if you find yourself not being able to vote comfortably in person, you can mail in your ballot, probably the earlier the better.  And if you are not sure if you're registered to vote, come to the "Vote Center," and complete a "provisionary" ballot.† You can even fill out a conditional voter registration at the "Vote Center" if you haven't already registered.


You'll probably want to keep track of when Registrar of Voters staff will be visiting the Vista Center.  Member Michelle McGrew, and others, go there regularly.


(Addendum from your copy-editor: Another refreshing detail is that voting machines for the blind and visually impaired, at any of the "Vote CENTERS," will be already set up to be immediately available for people to useóno more waiting for at least 20 minutes while an untrained poll worker struggles to figure out how to set it up for you.  All poll workers will be well trained in advance: This is a priority! There will even be greeters as you enter who will make sure you get the help you need.† Bravo!)



by Bev Clifford


Omigosh! Where in the world did September go? I think some wicked fairy absconded with it before we all had a chance to properly savor the mellowness of it.  Well, whatever the reason, it appears to be time for my October call to those of you who would enjoy being goodies volunteerss for one of our upcoming 2020 SVCB meetings (can it possibly be almost 2020)? The months of January and April have already been spoken for by two willing early birds, but that leaves plenty of time for the rest of you to step up.  For the benefit of you newbies, people typically bring 4 or 5 dozen sweet or savory treats, keeping in mind that a little fruit works well for those who need to avoid sugary things.† You can either purchase goodies at your super market/bakery of choice, or if you're an aspiring cook or baker, you can make them yourself.

With any questions or to sign up for a goodies opportunity (which I'm sure many of you are just LONGING to do), please contact me in the following ways: Call our SVCB phone number (1-888-652-5333) and leave me a message; dropp me an email at; or look me up in our SVCB membership list and contact me directly by phone or email, if that works better for you.  All of us truly appreciate your generosity.



by Michelle McGrew


You are invited to an old-time radio show fund-raiser! The event is 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 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 have flyers about this event on our website at, that you may download and print to share with others.


We just concluded our fund-raising event at Marie Callender's in Sunnyvale (September 23-24).  Thanks to all who attended! We raised $175.48 for the technology grant! If you were unable to attend, you may still make a contribution to our tech grant fund.  Please make checks payable to SVCB, and write "tech grant" in the memo line.† Donations may be mailed to the address at the top of this newsletter.


Next year's large print/braille calendars have arrived! These calendars, featuring artwork by blind and visually impaired people of all ages, cost $10 each.  They are great to share with others! 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 donated items for our auction at the September meeting! We auctioned two extension cords, a Kingwin USB hub, a Netgear wifi bundle, a Power Sentry (8 outlets), a power strip (6 outlets), a Radio Shack AC/DC adaptor, a Universal Ultra AC adaptor, a bundle with telephone cords and either a spliter or a filter, and a pair of matching lamps.  Thanks to all of our participants, and to Carol for assisting me with the auction.† Congratulations to our highest bidders: Gail, John V., David, Mike, and Kathy H.† We raised $64.25!


At our October meeting, we're having a 50/50 raffle! Tickets are $1 each or $5 for six.


Speaking of auctions and raffles, not only has Carol been helping me with these at the meeting, but she and Joe store our donated items.  Thank you Carol and Joe! And, thanks to all of you for your generous donations! We truly appreciate them.† However, we need to ask a favor: Carol and Joe are running out of room to store items, so if you don't mind holding on to additional donations until we can catch up, we'd appreciate it.  Thanks!


Our September Cookies of the Month fund-raiser, benefiting our tech grant, featured Caramel Chocolate Chip Cookies with Pecans, baked by me.  You can find the recipe for these, and two other kinds of cookies, in the "Snack Shack" article of this newsletter.† So far, we sold 32 bags of caramel cookies at our meeting, and another 28 at the Blind Center.  Plus we sold 5 more bags of peanut butter cookies, and I expect we'll sell more caramel cookies in early October.† Thanks to all of our supporters! At the time of this writing, we've raised $65!


Chocolate returns! Shortly after this writing, I will be ordering more chocolate bars! I'll also be taking orders for Meltaways through October 31.  I expect to have chocolate bars at our October meeting, and Meltaways in time for our November meeting.


And, we'll continue to sell our other snacks.  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 Halloween Treat Sale, nut mix with cranberries or with chocolate.  To place an order for chocolate (bars or Meltaways), nut bars, Welch's Fruit Snacks, or either nut mix, please contact me as listed above.


See you at our October meeting!




Basic Big Cookie Recipe

Submitted by Michelle McGrew


Years ago when my husband was geocaching, he found one of my favorite "travel bugs." A "travel bug" is an item that is tracked on a geocaching website and has a specific goal of places it wants to visit.  When a geocacher finds one, he takes it to its prefered location, takes some photos of it to post on the website, and then sends it on its way again by leaving it where another geocacher will find it.† In this case, the travel bug was collecting cookie recipes.  It was called "Cookie Monster Travel Bug Cookbook." I found several interesting recipes in it, including this one.† Three kinds of our Cookies of the Month are based on this recipe.



2 cups shortening.

1-1/3 cup sugar.

1-1/3 cup brown sugar.

4 eggs.

1-1/2 tsp vanilla.

6 cups flour.

2 tsp baking powder.

2 tsp baking soda.

2 tsp salt.



Cream shortening and sugars.  Add eggs, then mix in remaining ingredients.  Bake at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes on ungreased cookie sheets.


Once the basic ingredients are combined, you can separate the dough into 3, 4, or 5 bowls to make other kinds of cookies by adding other ingredients.  Feel free to experiment to create your own variations, but here are the three that I made for our Cookies of the Month.


For January: Butterscotch Pecan Cookies

To 1/3 of the basic recipe, add 1 cup butterscotch chips and 1/2 cup chopped pecans.


For May: Toffee Chocolate Chip Cookies

To 1/3 of the basic recipe, add 1 cup chocolate chips and 1/2 cup Hershey's Heath Bits 'O Brickle Toffee Bits.


For September: Caramel Chocolate Chip Cookies with Pecans

To 1/3 of the basic recipe, add 3/4 cup chocolate chips, 1/2 cup Kraft Caramel Bits, and 1/2 cup chopped pecans.



Compiled by Mike Keithley


2020 ACB Conference and Convention Info


ACB Convention dates are Friday July 3rd through Friday July 10th.


The home of the 2020 American Council of the Blind Conference and Convention will be the Renaissance Hotel and Convention Center in Schaumburg IL.  Schaumburg is a northwest suburb of Chicago; O'Hare International Airport (code Ord) is 18 miles east, and Midway International Airport (code Mdw) is 36 miles southeast.


Information regarding airport shuttles will be forthcoming; taxi costs are $26 from O'Hare and $53 from Midway.


If you'd like to travel to Illinois by train, Chicago Union Station is 31 miles from the hotel.  From Union Station you can take a commuter train or a taxi to arrive in Schaumburg.† If you are driving to the convention, the hotel offers complimentary parking.


Everyone will be glad to know that all rooms at the Renaissance have refrigerators.


Room rates at the Renaissance Schaumburg are $94 per night (for up to four people in a room).  This room rate does not include tax, which is currently 15.0%.


For telephone reservations call 800-468-3571.  This is a central reservations number, so please indicate you are with the American Council of the Blind 2020 Conference and Convention at the Renaissance Hotel in Schaumburg IL.


Rooms must be reserved by June 10 2020 to guarantee the convention rate.


Please feel free to contact Janet Dickelman, ACB Convention Coordinator, with any questions, either via phone (651-428-5059) or by e-mail at


Don't miss out on the fun; make your hotel reservations today!


Census Bureau Launches Updated 2020 Census Website--Clark Rachfal


A new website has been launched for the 2020 census.  Please check it out and let us know what you think in terms of accessibility.  Thanks.


(Note: Emails I've read do not give the website.  Try




Vista Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired announces the appointment of Christy Halderman Tall, a long-time Santa Cruz community volunteer and development officer at UC Santa Cruz, to their Board of Directors.


Christy has more than 20 years of experience in non-profit management and fund development, primarily working with social service, education, and health organizations.  She has served in several leadership roles, including Treasurer and Secretary for Rio del Mar Parent Alliance, and President and Secretary of Rio del Mar Elementary School Site Council.  In 2014, Christy helped launch the 21 Day Kindness Challenge, a national social benefit organization that empowers students to change their world through kindness, and continues to be engaged with this organization as its message spreads.


Christy currently serves as the Associate Director of Development with the University of California, Santa Cruz Education Partnership Center.  She is a graduate of Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, and holds degrees in journalism and political science.† Reflecting on her new role as a Board member, Christy exclaimed: "I am honored to join Vista Center's Board, and give back to this worthy organization in a new and impactful manner.  Vista Center's mission is very important to me and my family.† My grandmother had macular degeneration, and was blind for the last nine years of her life.† She received support from the Doran Center for the Blind in Santa Cruz just prior to its merger with Vista Center.† This support helped her to remain independent and live in her own home according to her wishes.  In addition, two of my sisters-in-law have visual impairments.† I am inspired to work to ensure the continuity and longevity of Vista Center." (LinkedIn Profile)

Prior to joining the Board, Christy was the Regional Vice President of Vista Center Santa Cruz.  Under Christy's leadership, Vista Center's community involvement and volunteerism grew throughout the county.  In 2018, Vista Center Santa Cruz was awarded Organization of the Year by the Aptos Chamber of Commerce.


"It saddened the Board and clients of Vista Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired when we lost Christy's amazing talents and cheery demeanor to UC Santa Cruz.  But now, having her join our Board of Directors ensures she will remain close, providing guidance for these worthy activities.† We are all thrilled!" shared Executive Director Karae Lisle, and Board member Claire Biancalana.


BENEFITS OF AUDIO DESCRIPTION IN EDUCATION CONTESTó"BADIE": Young People Who Are Blind Write Reviews of Film and Video


September 9, 2019: The American Council of the Blind's Audio Description Project (ACB-ADP) and the Described and Captioned Media Program (DCMP) are continuing their co-sponsorship of an exciting opportunity for blind and visually impaired young people, in four categories from ages 7 to 21: the Benefits of Audio Description in Education (BADIE) contest.


Kids love movies! Movies, videos, and other forms of multimedia are, these days, integral to public, private, and special education curriculum.  If you're a young person who can't see or can't see well, audio description provides access to all the visual images of the movies that sighted young people enjoy.


Students choose an audio-described film or video from thousands of titles available through DCMP, visiting  Or a young person who is blind can borrow an audio-described video or film from a library, and dozens of audio-described films and videos are available for purchase through the ACB-ADP's website at


Reviews can be submitted in writing, in braille, or via an audio recording.  Register for the contest at:† Entries can also be submitted via e-mail, or by postal mail (submissions from outside the United States are fine).


Postal mail: ACB-DCMP Benefits of Audio Description In Education, 1703 N. Beauregard St., Suite 420, Alexandria, VA 22311 USA


Phone: (202) 467-5083.


DEADLINE FOR ENTRIES: Friday, December 6, 2019


Contest winners in each category will be chosen by January of 2020, and the grand prize winner will receive an iPad Mini! Each first-place winner will receive a $100 iTunes gift card.  Second-place winners will receive a $50 iTunes gift card, and third-place winners will receive a $25 iTunes gift card.† Each supporting teacher who has a first-place winning student will be awarded a $100 Amazon gift card.


EVENT CALENDAR: October Through November, 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




October: Employment of People with Disabilities Awareness Month.


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


Oct 15: White Cane Safety Day.


Oct 15, 5:30 to 7 PM: Let's Talk Low Vision conference; Careers, Employment, and Resources; 712-432-3447 with ID 145330#; see notes.


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


Oct 25, noon: November SVCB newsletter deadline.  Distribute fall membership list.


Oct 25 and 26 at 8 PM and 27 at 2 PM: MARK TWAINS RIVER OF SONG, descriptions by the Visual Voice, MVCPA, see notes.


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


Nov 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


Nov 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.


Nov 15, 9:30 AM to 1 PM: SVCB 35th anniversary meeting; elect the 2020 SVCB Administration; announce Budget Committee.


Nov 19, 5:30 to 7 PM: Let's Talk Low Vision, What Is New in Low Vision Aids, see notes.

Nov 22: December In Touch newsletter deadline.