A Chapter of the California Council of the Blind

February 2020

EDITOR: Susan Glass,

COPY EDITOR: Beverly Clifford,

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

DEADLINE: for the March, 2020 issue: noon, January 23

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

* Fund-Raising Report

* Anybody Want a Robot?

* Tidbits

* Event Calendar



* PRESIDENT's MESSAGE: January 2020

by Rob Turner

Let me start off with a big thank you to Susan Glass for her past four years of service as our president.  In appreciation for her years of service and gentle leadership, she was presented with a bottle of Pinot Noir and a wine glass with nature scenes.  Time goes by so fast! I had to convince myself that Susan took office four years ago.  I checked the date of my last president's message, and sure enough it was December 2015.  Much has changed for me since then, including marrying the lovely Alice McGrath, becoming a grandfather, and retiring from Benetech after eleven years.  Anyway, I'm ready to get back in the saddle, and plan to do my best as your new president.

It took awhile, but Gabe Griffith, CCB's first vice president, chose to take advantage of our $500 stipend to attend the ACB legislative seminar in Washington D.C.  this February.  He will provide us with a written report for our newsletter.

At our January membership meeting, we discussed chapter goals for the year, and useful tips and tricks for daily living.  Several chapter members serve on both our Tech Grant and Braille Literacy Committees.  Therefore, our strategy will be to host a braille literacy event later this year.  We will also try to convince some younger members to join our group.  One tip for daily living was to use the VoiceDream iOS app to scan mail and other short documents.

Michelle announced that there is a good chance that she and husband Darin will move to Knoxville Tennessee due to the high cost of living in the Bay Area.  Mike stated it best when he said, "This would be the end of an SVCB era." If Michelle does move, there will be some big shoes to fill.

See you in February.


With March elections just on the horizon, we will devote our February program to a discussion of local and state candidates and ballot measures.  Our program will be facilitated by a representative from the education branch of The League of Women Voters.  These sessions are always informative.  And remember that this year, our San Jose Vista Office is a voting site, where we can use accessible voting equipment.  So here's hoping for a big turn-out for our program.


by Mike Keithley

Star loves Christmas decorations.  So cheery! And as we're traveling from place to place, she tells me which buildings are still decorated.  Not much now, but a restaurant we like to visit called Passage to India still has all its Christmas lights.  So cheery! But it's wintertime, and guess what? I'm coming down with another cold.  "Poor cold master! What are we going to do with him?" Get rid of my cold, thank you.

Let's welcome new member Grace Mata.  She's been with the Blind Center for many years, and likes to do community service.

As you read in Rob's article, Michelle McGrew may soon be leaving us.  I for one hope it never happens, but we may soon need a chair for the Fund-raising Committee.  Perhaps Grace?

We officially installed SVCB's 2020 administration with style, emceed by member Roger Petersen.  And the first thing we did was to have a brainstorming program about what we want the chapter to be doing this year.  Everything from advocacy to gaming was proposed, and I think that the Program Committee has its hands full of ideas.  You can access the program at:

Oh yes, we also talked about technology we like, such as the usefulness of VoiceDream Scanner.

Among other things, we approved the Picnic Committee to design our August SVCB picnic.  Mike Keithley is chair, and Victor Clifford, Alice Turner, Grace Mata, and Naomi Grubb are members.  We didn't discuss a picnic location: That will be done at the February meeting.  So if you want it at your house, come to the meeting, or come anyway and approve the Cuesta dog park!

You will receive the 2020 SVCB budget with your newsletter.  Come to the February membership meeting and approve it.

Let's say a Happy February Birthday to Ruth Fisher.  Kinda cold for birthdays, or is it rainy! Get warm at the meeting.


by Michelle McGrew

At the time of this writing, I have one more large print/braille calendar left! The calendar, featuring artwork by blind and visually impaired people of all ages, costs $10.  To reserve this calendar, 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 for our 50/50 raffle at our January meeting! We sold $90 in tickets, so SVCB and our winner each received $45.  Congratulations to our lucky winner, John Glass!

At our February meeting, we will have an auction.  Items up for bid include a two-quart round Pyrex baking dish with lid, a set of four individual Corningware baking dishes with storage lids, a ceramic pedestal cake plate (purple and green) with ceramic server, a cheese server (wooden base with glass dome) paired with a cheese slicer (includes an extra wire), a set of four salad bowls and a set of four soup bowls (all slate blue ceramic), a cordless headphone system with bag of replacement ear cushions, a Sony wireless speaker, a Sunbeam Safety-Glo warm steam vaporizer, and lots of red placemats.

Our January Cookies of the Month fund-raiser, benefiting our tech grant, featured Almond Cookies baked by me.  (Dawn's recipe for these cookies appeared in our "Snack Shack" column of the December, 2016 newsletter.) We sold 25 bags of cookies at our meeting and another 25 bags of cookies at the Blind Center.  Thanks to all of our supporters! We raised a total of $50!

February's Cookies of the Month fund-raiser will feature Secret Kiss Cookies, baked by Suzanne Smith.  Shhhh, don't tell, but each cookie has a Hershey's Kiss hidden inside! The cookies will sell for $1 per bag.

Need more chocolate? Meltaways from Bakers Candies come in four-ounce bags containing about 13 individually-wrapped chocolates, and sell for $4 per bag.  These make great gifts, too! I currently have the following flavors available: five kinds of dark chocolate (plain, mint, orange, cherry, and sea salt caramel), seven kinds of milk chocolate (plain, mint, peanut butter, coconut, raspberry, mocha, and caramel), and the assorted (mix of both dark and milk chocolates).

We also have candy bars! We have four kinds of milk chocolate bars (roasted almond, creamy caramel, crispy rice, and plain), and a limited number of dark chocolate with roasted almonds.  The candy bars sell for $1 each.

Or, you may choose one of our other snacks! We're selling bags of nut mix as part of our Special Delivery 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 for any of these items or for chocolate, contact me as listed above.

Janie and I are going on an adventure, so I won't be at the February meeting.  Instead, please look for Carol at the meeting! And I'll have more to share in my March report.


by Bev Clifford

Boy, am I in a fix! My garage is chock-a-block full already, and now I've had to make room for this huge shipping container, labeled "June," with a self-guided, GPS-LOADED robot inside! You see, Santa's chief elf got really annoyed when I sent back all the other robots, and then he got even more miffed when I told him I needed to send the June robot back, too, because I didn't want it anymore.  I tried to explain to him that so many generous SVCB members have agreed to bring goodies to our meetings in 2020 that robotic aid is no longer necessary, but he just wouldn't listen! So I'm stuck with this highly skilled and deeply technical piece of machinery that I have absolutely no use or room--for which, by the way, cost me a pretty penny.  Anybody want it for their collection? Hey Noel, I know you collect tons of techie stuff--I'll sell it to you cheap! Or if anyone else has a burning desire to have it, you can fight it out with Noel.  In the meantime, in spite of the elf being so disagreeable to me, I want you all to know how grateful I am that we're totally set for goodies in 2020.  Yum yum!—I can't wait!


by Mike Keithley

U.S.  Department of Transportation Seeks Comment on Proposed Amendments to Regulation of Service Animals on Flights

WASHINGTON: The U.S.  Department of Transportation today announced that it is seeking public comment on proposed amendments to its Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA) regulation on the transportation of service animals by air.

The Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) on Traveling by Air with Service Animals can be found at:

and provides the public with 60 days to comment on the proposed changes.

Today's NPRM is intended to ensure a safe and accessible air transportation system.  It addresses concerns raised by individuals with disabilities, airlines, flight attendants, airports, other aviation transportation stakeholders, and other members of the public, regarding service animals on aircraft.  The Department recognizes the integral role that service animals play in the lives of many individuals with disabilities, and wants to ensure that individuals with disabilities can continue using their service animals while also reducing the likelihood that passengers wishing to travel with their pets on aircraft will be able to falsely claim their pets are service animals.

The NPRM proposes to:

Define a service animal as a dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of a person with a disability;

No longer consider an emotional support animal to be a service animal;

Consider a psychiatric service animal to be a service animal and require the same training and treatment of psychiatric service animals as other service animals;

Allow airlines to require forms developed by DOT attesting to a service animal's good behavior, certifying the service animal's good health, and if taking a long flight, attesting that the service animal has the ability to either not relieve itself, or can relieve itself in a sanitary manner;

Allow airlines to require passengers with a disability who are traveling with a service animal to check-in at the airport one hour prior to the travel time required for the general public, to ensure sufficient time to process the service animal documentation and observe the animal;

Require airlines to promptly check-in passengers with service animals who are subject to an advanced check-in process;

Allow airlines to limit the number of service animals traveling with a single passenger with a disability to two service animals;

Allow airlines to require a service animal to fit within its handler's foot space on the aircraft;

Continue to allow airlines to require that service animals be harnessed, leashed, tethered, or otherwise under the control of their handler;

Continue to allow airlines to refuse transportation to service animals that exhibit aggressive behavior, and that pose a direct threat to the health or safety of others; and

Continue to prohibit airlines from refusing to transport a service animal solely on the basis of breed.

Comments on the NPRM must be received within 60 days of the date the notice is published.  The NPRM can be found at, docket number DOT-OST-2018-0068.

Regarding the 2020 Census: From the January-February Talking Book Topics

The 2020 census is counting on you.  April 1 is Census Day, the reference day for questions on the 2020 count.  Census results play a crucial part in determining how government entities allocate hundreds of billions of dollars each year for services on which communities rely.  But certain groups of people historically have been undercounted in the census.  We want to make sure that the people NLS and its network libraries serve (those who are blind or visually impaired, or who have a disability that makes reading regular print difficult) are aware of, and participate in, the 2020 census.

A few upcoming milestones to keep in mind: On March 12, the Census Bureau will mail households an invitation to respond to the census.  For the first time, households will have three ways to respond: online, by calling a toll-free number, or by mail.  The questionnaire takes less time to complete than drinking a cup of coffee.  In mid-April, census workers will begin visiting homes that haven't responded to collect information in person.

Visit for more information about the census, or contact your network library for help locating additional resources.

World Blind Union Employment Survey

The World Blind Union (WBU) Employment Committee has developed a short survey designed to identify employment patterns of people who are blind or partially sighted and of working-age throughout the world.

As one of ACB's delegates to WBU as well as a member of WBU's Employment Committee, I am writing to urge as many of you as possible to please take the survey.  It is very comprehensive and, we believe, worth your time and effort to take.  Even if you are retired or have never worked, the Employment Committee needs your participation.  The deadline for submitting the survey is Tuesday, March 31.

To take the survey, please visit:

Thank you,

Mitch Pomerantz

EVENT CALENDAR: February Through March, 2020

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


February: Eye Donor Awareness Month.

Feb 4, 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

Feb 6 to Mar 1: THE 39 STEPS, Tabard Theatre, see notes.

Feb 6, 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 Rob Turner.

Feb 7 and 8, at 8 PM and 9 at 2 PM; THE PIANIST OF WILLESDEN LANE, descriptions by the Visual Voice, MVCPA.

Feb 15, 9:30 AM to 1 PM: SVCB monthly meeting.  Approve 2020 budget, approve picnic location.

Feb 21, noon: March SVCB newsletter deadline.

Feb 22 through Feb 25: ACB affiliate presidents' meeting and legislative seminar.  Capitol Hill Day is Tue.  Feb 25.  Meetings take place at the Holiday Inn and Suites Old Town in Alexandria, Virginia.  Visit: for details.

Feb 29: Northern California Regional Braille Challenge; LightHouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired, 1155 Market St. San Francisco, CA 94103, contact Jamey Gump, Youth Services Coordinator at or by phone at 415-694-7372.

Mar 3, 5:30 to 7 PM: Breast Cancer Support Group.

Mar 5, 7 to 9 PM: SVCB Board meeting.

Mar 9 to Mar 13: 35th annual CSUN Conference at the Anaheim Marriott Hotel in Anaheim California.  Visit:

Mar 13 through April 5: BABY, Tabard Theatre, see notes.

Mar 21, 9:30 AM to 1 PM: Monthly meeting.  Discuss resolutions for CCB Convention.

Mar 27, noon: April newsletter deadline.  Distribute spring membership list.

Mar 27, 28, and 29 at 8 PM: THEY PROMISED HER THE MOON; TheatreWorks; Lucie Stern; descriptions by the Visual Voice