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.
MEETING LOCATION: SVCB's monthly meetings are held in the dining room of the Monte Vista Terrace Apts. at 1101 Grant Road, Mountain View. Meetings run 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. 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.
Note: Local contact information is removed except when requested to remain. For local contact info, email Mike Keithley, SVCB president.
Hey, it's March, spring is coming and I'll be springing forward, if I don't trip over the carpet! "Ok, ok, enough of that," King says.
February was a busy month for SVCB people. First there was the Braille Challenge on February 9. Michelle McGrew, Dawn Wilcox, Beverly Clifford and I went to the San Francisco LightHouse to attend the event. Michelle and I were scorers and spent most of our time in a quiet room scoring various tests. Things began in a rather disorganized manner, but we had work to do about two hours into the event.
Although I was initially confused as to how to proceed, Michelle helped me understand the procedures, and I ended up grading three spelling tests. Megan, I think she was a sophomore, almost got a perfect score--I was really rooting for her.
I found it curious that bonus points were consistently given for use of contracted braille. I believe this means that in the real world, it isn't a given as it was when I attended the Overbrook School, where we leap- frogged over grade one braille.
At the awards ceremony, which I couldn't hear well, the kids were enthusiastically noisy. A lot of Franklin Language Master dictionaries were awarded to first-place winners. Those machines were made around 15 years ago, and I thought they were all gone!
Another February event was the completion of the braille edition of the SVCB cookbook. They are now in the hands of customers, and I hope they like them. Rob Turner, who now works in Benetech customer support for Bookshare, helped immensely by ripping off tractor-feed strips and making sure pages were ordered. Around here we were calling him "Rob the ripper."
Continuing with news about the cookbook, mastering and duplication of the audio tape is done, though there are some labeling issues we have to work through. The CD version has gone through three incarnations, getting better and better all the time. We now have a DAISY CD that can be played on a DAISY player, and the navigation features are truly impressive. It can even be played on a Victor Stream like a digital talking book.
At our February meeting, Sam Chen, your Legislation Committee Chair, spoke about his adventures at the ACB Legislative Seminar. His description of the difficult time he had getting staff to listen to him enlightened and saddened me. Sam told the story with humor; and I think this, and patience, allowed him to talk productively to his appointed legislators. Good show, Sam!
Our 2008 budget, which was distributed with the February newsletter, was approved in aggregate. While I'm talking about money, Victor Clifford is looking for someone to mentor to become SVCB's treasurer in 2009. I know you've always wanted to be treasurer of a first-rate CCB chapter, so get in touch with Victor. You'll be glad you did!
The site for our August picnic has been selected- Cuesta Park in Mountain View. You'll be hearing more about the progressing picnic plans. Come to the meetings and participate.
The CCB spring convention will be held April 10 to 13 in Sacramento. Read the Event Calendar in this newsletter. Our delegate to the convention is Lorraine Brown and alternate delegate is Mike Keithley. Roger Petersen will be representing SVCB on the Nominating Committee, which will propose candidates for elections at the fall convention in Los Angeles.
We had a rather dismaying dip in our membership earlier this year, and Lorraine Brown, your Membership Committee Chair, phone tree callers, Julie Lovins and Victor Clifford have been working hard to get those promised, but late, dues. I reported 70 home-chapter members to CCB for the Credentials Committee, which will seat SVCB at the spring convention. This number compares favorably with the 79 members reported for the 2007 fall convention. Being members of SVCB is very important to its welfare. Share SVCB activities with friends. Share a cookbook! To some of you, it might seem that SVCB lacks luster, but YOU are what gives life to the chapter.
Since we're talking about membership, be on the lookout for your new membership list, distributed with this newsletter.
I'm sure Roger, our Program Committee Chair, will be telling us who will be presenting the program at the March meeting. Among other things, this is the time for you to bring resolutions before the spring convention. If you have concerns that should be written as a resolution, bring them with you to the meeting for adoption by the whole chapter.
We have ten sweepstakes tickets for the Blind Californian fund-raiser during the spring convention. First prize is $500 and an iPOD is second prize. SVCB as a chapter brought ten tickets.
Roger had prostate surgery about two weeks ago. I hear it went well; and he is home now, busy as ever.
See you all at the March meeting and welcome spring!Return to "In This Issue"
I regret that we are not quite there to announce a program for March 15. As our president said, I did have surgery a couple of weeks ago and that has slowed me down. But I'm hot on the trail of a speaker or two, so stay tuned to the phonetree.Return to "In This Issue"
Happy March birthdays to Marni Brown, John Buck, Sam Chen, Cathy Olson, Eleanore Prisant, and Jack Syvertsen!Return to "In This Issue"
Save the date, Saturday morning, May 10, and plan to participate in this year's 5K walk-a-thon, The Human Race. We need people to walk/run and/or collect pledges. I hope to have the packets ready soon, but if you have questions or know you would like to participate, please email me.
We are now distributing the large print and braille editions of our 20th anniversary SVCB cookbook, and hope to have the other formats available soon! This cookbook, featuring recipes enjoyed by chapter members and guests at our meetings, picnics, and holiday parties, has truly been a labor of love. Contributors also share special memories about their recipes in short anecdotes. Cookbooks cost $10 each, and are available in large print, in braille, on cassette tape, and on CD-ROM. To place an order or to help sell cookbooks, please contact me, and indicate your format preference.
See's candy bars are still available! Milk chocolate with toffee and plain milk chocolate bars cost $1.50 each. Nut and chew bars and walnut squares cost $1 each. To purchase or help sell See's candy bars, please contact me.
Do you have your 2008 large print/braille calendar yet? These calendars feature artwork by blind and visually impaired people of all ages. SVCB is selling them for $9 each. To purchase yours, contact me.
Remember to save your recyclable aluminum cans and plastic water bottles. Donna Sanchez is collecting plastic water bottles, and Charlie Stein is collecting aluminum cans. You may bring these items to an upcoming meeting or call the appropriate contact to make other arrangements. Donna and Charlie redeem the bottles and cans for funds which are then used to support SVCB activities.
Please thoughtfully consider how you personally might help SVCB raise funds this year, and join together with other chapter members to make this year the best yet! See you at our March meeting.Return to "In This Issue"
March 7, 2008: Panel Presentations: 1-3 p.m.; Vendor Exhibits: 3-5 p.m., 214 Van Ness Ave., San Francisco, CA 94102
Are you tired of waiting for days to have your mail read? Would you like to be able to read books and magazines by yourself without having to rely on someone to produce them in an accessible format? If so, it may be time for you to get a reading machine.
Please join us at the LightHouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired, for the fourth in our series of free technology workshops, to discuss electronic devices that give the blind and visually impaired access to print documents by means of magnification or Optical Character Recognition. Learn about products including the new KNFB Mobile.
You can participate in one of three ways, either via a live audio stream on our website, through a free telephone conferencing service or in person. Please RSVP to attend this event, by calling 1-888-400-8933 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. For those participating via conference call or live stream, instructions will be provided to you when you RSVP.
This location is wheelchair accessible. Assisted listening devices and other disability accommodations are available upon request.Return to "In This Issue"
As you know if you came to the February SVCB meeting, I was privileged to take part in ACB's annual visit to Congress this year. February 10 and 11, we nine CCB delegates took part in the ACB 2008 Legislative Seminar at the Washington Plaza Hotel in Washington, DC. We were divided into five teams and Brian Connors from Sacramento and I were teamed up. We were given training during the two-day workshop on the legislative issues to bring to the attention of the legislators, and how best to approach either the legislators or their legislative assistants on the Hill visit. Basically we raised our concerns and solicited their support on four "imperatives" listed below:
1) Digital TV Transition and COAT Draft Legislation: On February 17, 2009 the entire country will transition to digital television. The COAT draft legislation seeks to insure that video description is not only mandated but that it is available for pass-through in the digital era.
2) Pedestrian Safety: Many of us have encountered challenges over the past few years with detecting the movement of hybrids and other quiet vehicles. ACB has crafted proposed legislative language that calls for federal research to be conducted to provide and implement recommendations that would increase blind pedestrian safety on streets and sidewalks.
3) Website Accessibility: The blindness community has been waiting for the Department of Justice as part of its update of the ADA to propose regulations for those public accommodations that only conduct business via the web or offer services via the web that are not similarly offered at their physical places of business, such as retail stores. The Office of Management and Budget has recently rejected DOJ's proposed regulatory language concerning this very issue. Given this rejection, ACB is seeking a legislative solution.
4) Randolph-Sheppard Act: ACB is working with a coalition of organizations to arrange a briefing for members of Congress and their staff regarding the hot issues of the day within the program and to provide a better explanation of what Randolph-Sheppard does to positively benefit individuals who are blind or visually impaired.
On February 12 our team made visits to eight legislators' offices on the Hill, who represent constituents from northern California. Due to time constraints, we could spend only 10 to 15 minutes at each office we visited. The names and contact info of five House Representatives from the Bay Area are listed below, and you are strongly encouraged to contact your district representative through the email or phone number listed. A brief description of the meeting note is also included.
Zoe Lofgren (District 16, San Jose) Time: 9:50 a.m. Tuesday Legislative Assistant: Jonathan Prutow, email@example.com DC Office: 102 Cannon HOB, 202-225-3072
Anna Eshoo (District 14, Atherton) Time: 10:10 a.m. Tuesday Legislative Assistant: Erin Katzelnick-Wise, firstname.lastname@example.org DC Office: 205 Cannon HOB, 202-225-8104
Jerry McNerney (District 11, Pleasanton) Time: 10:30 a.m. Tuesday Legislative Assistant: Andreas Mueller, email@example.com DC Office: 312 Cannon HOB, 202-225-1947
Fortney (Pete) Stark (District 13, Fremont) Time: 11:10 a.m. Tuesday Legislative Assistant: Jeff Hild, firstname.lastname@example.org DC Office: 239 Cannon HOB, 202-225-5065
Mike Honda (District 15, San Jose) Time: 11:40 a.m. Tuesday Legislative Assistant: Bernardette Arellano, Bernardette.email@example.com DC Office: 1713 Longworth HOB, 202-225-2631Return to "In This Issue"
Have you been wondering whether you will get the money that everyone is talking about? That check from the government so you can help stimulate the economy? Well, if you pay taxes, you are OK. But some of us who don't have to file because we just have Social Security income may have to file to get the stimulus check.
Here's the scoop, excerpted from publication FS-2008-16, February 2008.
Some low-income workers and recipients of Social Security, certain veterans' benefits and certain Railroad Retirement benefits may qualify for economic stimulus payments this year from the federal government.
In most cases, payments will range from $300 to $600 for individuals and $600 to $1200 for joint filers. Taxpayers may receive $300 for each qualifying child. Most taxpayers do not need to take any extra steps to receive the payment.
But there are some exceptions. Individuals who might not otherwise be required to file a 2007 tax return will need to file a return this year to receive the stimulus payment. The return must show at least $3,000 in qualifying income.
Supplemental Security Income (SSI) does not count as qualifying income for the stimulus payment. SSDI does.
If you have already filed a 2007 federal tax return, showing the income and/or benefits described above, you do not need to do anything else. Stimulus payments will start arriving in early May.
Others may need to amend a previously filed tax return to include benefits to reach the $3,000 qualifying income level. Adding these benefits on an amended tax return will not increase an individual's tax liability but will establish eligibility for the stimulus payment. Taxpayers can use IRS Form 1040X to amend a tax return in order to qualify.Return to "In This Issue"
Mar 5, 7-9 p.m.: SVCB Board meeting; Meeting Place.
Mar 7, 10 a.m.-noon: SAF lab tour; call 408-245-7330 for reservations.
Mar 7, 1-3 p.m.: Reading Machine Seminar featuring OCR and reading devices. Product demos 3 to 5 p.m. For reservations, call 888-400-4933 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. You can attend this seminar in person or via the Internet.
Mar 10-15, CSUN Conference: Technology & Persons with Disabilities Conference, 2008; Los Angeles; Phone: 818-677-1200; Email: email@example.com ; Web: www.csun.edu/cod/conf.
Mar 12-14 at 8 p.m., 15 at 2 p.m. and 16 at 1 & 6:30 p.m.: AMTSJ presents CABARET with descriptions by AudioVision.
Mar 15, 9:30 a.m.-1 p.m.: SVCB monthly meeting. Dining room, Monte Vista Terrace Apartments, 1101 Grant Road, Mountain View. Lunch orders must be made by 9:45. 9:30: Coffee and conversation, 10: Program, 11: Business, 12: lunch. Program: TBA. Business: Discuss resolutions for CCB Spring Convention.
Mar 28, noon: April newsletter deadline.
Mar 28-29, 8 P.M., Mar 30, 2 P.M. TheatreWorks presents SOUTHERN COMFORTS at Lucie Stern, described by The Visual Voice.
Apr 2, 7-9 p.m.: SVCB Board meeting.
Apr 5, 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m.: SMCB meeting. Contact Philip Kutner for info.
Apr 10-13: CCB spring convention; Sacramento Arden West Hilton Hotel; 2200 Harvard Street; Sacramento, CA 95815; reservations: 916-922-4700 or 800-344-4321; room rate (single or double occupancy) $95.
Apr 11-12: "Let's Get Technical" seminar at Enchanted Hills camp, Napa; contact Vista Center.
Apr 19, 9:30 a.m.-1 p.m.: SVCB membership meeting; hear convention reports.
Apr 25: May newsletter deadline. Include spring convention reports. Distribute Constitution and Bylaws.
Apr 25 & 26 at 8 p.m. and Apr 27 at 2 p.m.: TheaterWorks presents CAROLINE, OR CHANGE at Mountain View CPA with descriptions by The Visual Voice.
Apr 27 at 1 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.: AMTSJ presents MAMMA MIA! with description by AudioVision.
Apr 27, 1:30 p.m.: HIGHSCHOOL MUSICAL at the Orpheum Theatre, described by AudioVision.
May: Healthy Vision Month.
May 7, 7-9 p.m.: SVCB Board meeting.
May 10: The Human Race Walk-a-thon.
May 17, 9:30 a.m.-1 p.m.: monthly meeting. Finalize picnic plans, remind members to acquire door prizes for picnic.
May 21, 22, 23, at 8 p.m.; May 24 at 2 p.m.; May 25, 1 and 6:30 p.m.: AMTSJ presents Disney's BEAUTY AND THE BEAST with descriptions by AudioVision.
May 23, noon: June newsletter deadline.Return to "In This Issue"