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.
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Contact Victor, firstname.lastname@example.org.
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 bybus #22.
Last month, I said the December P M was my last. Well, not quite! They say that since the new administration doesn't take office until the January meeting, I've got to see it through and write one more message. So I'm still here, typing away.
How did your Christmas go? As has been happening for many years now, we have our Christmas parties early in the season, and things quiet down to peaceful Christmas and New Year's days.
My step-daughter Pam and family visited from Boise the week of December 3, and we all traveled to Walnut Creek and Burt's house for the family party--kids, balloons, turducken (turkey stuffed with duck and chicken), and the gift exchange. We got a two-pound box of Sees, plus a snuggly blanket.
And December 10 was the SVCB holiday party at the Blind Center, with Anna on the piana, the Jingleers, the Villages Bell Choir, and Rose wishing for her front teeth. Over 70 people were there, and Star says it was a very merry meeting. I enjoyed the Italian cuisine from Crunch Catering, and I heard that many people took food home as well as goody bags. And we came away with something like ten new SVCB members!
I want to thank Victor Clifford, Holiday Committee Chair, for organizing the event; Lolly Osborne and the Delta Gamma ladies; and many volunteers for helping everyone feel at home. And I also want to thank the Silicon Valley Blind Center for letting us use their facilities--it's really cool to have a nice home!
And now it's 2012, the time of change for SVCB. Rob Turner is our new President, and I encourage all of you to come to the January membership meeting on the 21st to meet him. I'll officially introduce him--my very last presidential action. Rob has been in and around CCB for over 30 years, and I'm sure SVCB is in capable hands.
An ongoing chapter activity is advocating for braille literacy. Some of us use braille so much that it's second nature, and we couldn't function without it. Often I wonder what's the big deal? For example, every President's Message you've ever read was written in braille, and I hear that the January program will feature a new braille labeler.
But for some of you, using braille is just one more step walking down the road to independence. Whatever, reading and writing braille is essential for us all, and we need to spread the word that braille techniques are real, viable assets in daily living.
January is Braille Literacy month, the traditional time when CCB chapters promote the awareness and use of braille. While SVCB does not have a chapter activity during Braille Literacy Month in 2012, you can help, even if you don't know or use braille. Last I heard, there were two braille/large print calendars for sale. Buy one, and give it to a friend. Spread the awareness of braille. And to directly chart SVCB'S braille literacy activities, contact Susan Glass to get on the Braille Literacy Committee.
And now let me close by thanking you for your assistance throughout my four years as SVCB President. Despite the fact that King insists he did it all, your help in keeping SVCB healthy, adaptable, and growing was, and still is, invaluable. Have a Happy New Year!Return to the Table of Contents
I know that all of you who are reading this article will join me in paying a heart-felt tribute to Mike Keithley who, after four years of diligent and enthusiastic leadership, will be stepping down from his position as SVCB chapter President. Mike has been an active chapter member since he first joined SVCB in 1990. He served as Secretary from 2000- 2003, and also as Editor of our In Touch newsletter. Additionally, he edited the Blind Californian from 2005-2009.
An excerpt from Mike's December 2011 President's Message nicely summarizes what he's proud of having accomplished during his term in office: "I think we've done OK during my four-year watch, and have discovered some bright new people who will enhance SVCB in the future. The Barbara Rhodes Technology Grant is off the ground, our transportation advocacy is poised to take off, and we're better known in the community."
Mike feels that there's more harmony among chapter members these days. He says he hopes to see more young people joining the chapter and adds, "I'd like for the old guard to understand that young people see the world more actively, and need more community connections, more social events."
I always look forward to reading Mike's witty and personable President's Message at the beginning of each In Touch. Who can forget his description of a trip to a boat marina in the August 2011 issue:
"We also like to drive about five miles up the coast to a marina and walk on the docks, so I can feel some of the boats and Star can tell me their names: Anarchy, Marauder, Major Steven Stone, Fjord Queen, Tonita. I wanted to put Anarchy and Marauder together, and have Major Steven Stone keep them out of mischief." And then there's this quip about adventures at CCB conventions: "So come to a convention, and have adventures like cutting tough meat with a dull knife at banquets (where did that carrot go?), or wondering why the alarm started when you were exhaustedly leaning against the elevator car wall."
Along with that winking sense of humor comes Mike's abiding commitment to blind people. After sharing a story about a deaf-blind woman whose family coddled her so extensively that she's now a dependent adult, Mike writes, "But it underscores once again the stupid, cultural fear of blindness. Those of us who independently walk the vision-impaired life know better, and often go out of our way to demonstrate this, but the fear remains and causes unnecessary suffering. I'm sure professionals will tell you that this story is as old as the planet, but it's still sad to encounter it personally."
Luckily for us, Mike intends to remain active in both SVCB and CCB. As Immediate Past President, he'll attend all Board meetings, and will continue serving on the Publications and Budget committees. He'll also be editing The Braille Writer, newsletter of the Braille Revival League of California (BRLC). As for what he'll do for recreation, he is, among other things, reviving an old pastime of building ham radios. "Everything's sort of sliding back into doing things I did during childhood," says Mike, "and it's fun."Return to the Table of Contents
Recently, I heard about a group based in Palo Alto that is developing a new braille labeler. I have been talking with the CEO of 6dot Innovations, Karina Pikhart, and the Marketing Director, Emily Kinney, and they have committed to doing our meeting on January 21. They have not yet told me for sure who is coming, but it should be very interesting, not only to find out about the product, but to hear the story of a real startup enterprise in our field.Return to the Table of Contents
For those of you who are interested in bringing goodies to one of our meetings in 2012, you have three more chances to sign up. The months of May, October, and November are still not spoken for. If you would like to help us out, please email me at email@example.com. Thanks in advance, and a very Happy New Year to you all.Return to the Table of Contents
Thanks to all who purchased entertainment coupon books for 2012, and to our anonymous donor for making it possible for SVCB to sell these at our special price! After expenses, we raised over $900! Great job, everyone! By the way, if you know of anyone who could use an entertainment coupon book for San Mateo County, Mike has three books available. If no one contacts him about these books by the end of this year, he plans to donate them to a local charity. If interested, please contact Mike Keithley at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you to those who supported CCB and SVCB by getting CCB sweepstakes tickets. SVCB received $63 ($3 for each book sold by our chapter).
One of our members purchased our last 60 "reading is for everyone" T-shirts, for a total of $1,044. The shirts will be donated to Goodwill, thereby spreading our message to an even greater audience! Thank you!
Remember that raffle we had in November? We raised $37! Congratulations to our winners: Donna Sanchez, Vic Clifford, Ruben Armenta, David Hoffman, and Dawn Wilcox. Plus we raised an additional $7 when we auctioned an extra lunch. Congratulations to our highest bidder, Mike Keithley!
Speaking of auctions and raffles, the Fund-Raising Committee decided that these are quite popular amongst our group. So, we plan to alternate between these. We'll start with a 50/50 raffle in January, a raffle featuring donated items in February, an auction in March, another 50/50 raffle in April, and so on. If you have items you'd like to donate for the raffles or auctions, or have suggestions on items that would be interesting prizes or items to bid on, please let the Fund-Raising Committee know! And as usual, raffle tickets are $1 per ticket, or $5 for six tickets.
We have great news for all of our dark chocolate lovers! Beginning in early January, we will have plenty of dark chocolate to go around! Besides the boxes of assorted flavors, we'll have whole boxes of dark chocolate with almond bars! If you would like to purchase or help sell World's Finest Chocolate bars, please contact me at email@example.com, or at firstname.lastname@example.org. The bars cost $1 each, and come in five varieties: milk chocolate with almonds, milk chocolate caramel, milk chocolate crisp, plain milk chocolate, and dark chocolate with almonds.
SVCB also sells Meltaways from Bakers Candies in Nebraska. These individually-wrapped chocolates come in four-ounce cellophane bags (about 13 per bag). We are selling them for $4 per bag. The following flavors are available as of this writing: four kinds of dark chocolate (plain, mint, orange, and cherry), six kinds of milk chocolate (plain, mint, peanut butter, coconut, raspberry, and mocha), the assorted (contains both dark and milk chocolates of various flavors), and milk chocolate wrapped caramel. To purchase or help sell these, please contact me as listed above.
Only two calendars remain! These large print/braille calendars cost $9 each, and feature artwork by blind and visually impaired persons of all ages. Reserve yours by contacting me as listed above.
Remember to save your recyclable aluminum cans. Charlie Stein redeems them for funds which are then used to support SVCB activities. You may give cans to Charlie at an upcoming meeting, to make other arrangements.
See you at our January meeting!Return to the Table of Contents
The University of Chicago Spanish-English, English-Spanish dictionary is now available for electronic download through Web Braille. It joins Dictionary of eye terminology, Elson's Pocket Music Dictionary and Dictionary of Braille Music Signs as downloadable items with "dictionary" in the title.
Our Choices and Changes class is open to adults with visual impairment and their family members (if the client is enrolled), and is led by Vista Center's social services staff. It introduces clients to services, equipment, and resources that are available, and increases awareness of the process of adjusting to vision loss.
The next Choices and Changes low vision education class series will be Thursdays, January 12th, 19th, 26th, and February 2nd, from 10:00 AM to 12:30 PM. If you are interested, please contact Jo Jaros at 650-858-0202 Ext. 115, or Carolyn Dingman, 650-858-0202 Ext. 131.
The American Council of the Blind is accepting online applications for the 2012-13 academic year. Go to www.acb.org/scholarship. Deadline is March 31.
"My book is a practical guide for people with varying levels of vision loss who strive to be more independent in their everyday activities. This book is filled with tips and techniques to use throughout the home and in the community.
"You can order my book in large print (hard cover and paperback) and as an e-book by visiting barnesandnoble.com, amazon.com, and xlibris.com."
"This book is especially useful for people who are currently experiencing vision loss, but several of the tips and hints may be new ideas for those who have been visually impaired for a long time. I hope you will take this opportunity to help make your life a bit easier."
The Office of the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) is providing guidance to public transportation and emergency management agencies to emphasize the needs of individuals with disabilities following a disaster. This document responds to a request by the Interagency Coordinating Council on Emergency Preparedness and Individuals with Disabilities (ICC). To access the ICC's 2009 report, and for more information regarding the ICC, please visit www.DisabilityPreparedness.gov.Return to the Table of Contents
Let's welcome new members Marilyn and Patrick Cinga, Diane Harms, Mitsue Hirata, Star Keithley, Darin McGrew, Ching Nicasio, Loretta Plumlee, Margie Saenz, Joe Silveria, Joanne Slack, Steve Swanson, Rick Thompson, and Venna Vradley. They all took advantage of the holiday party membership special.
And happy January birthdays to Cathy Marvin, Roger Petersen, Walter Schinke, Lupe Medrano, Margaret Hardy, Kenneth Hoag, and Tom Slack.
Mike Keithley reports that he shipped an ATOM (Audible Transmitter Output Monitor) to a ham in the UK. It's fun to encounter names like Guildford in Surrey County, England, but to send a product there is something different. And the shipping cost, whew!
Philip Kutner, former President of the San Mateo chapter, reports that Diane Griffin is sMCCB's new President. Let's wish her the best!
We also encountered a very nice write-up in the San Jose Mercury News on Brandon Biggs and his quest to get into opera. Way ta go, Brandon!
With this newsletter, SVCB members will find the 2012 Business Calendar, which lists meeting and other dates to carry out SVCB business. We'll accept this calendar at the membership meeting on January 21, 2012; and I urge you to read it carefully and vote!
For those of you who have not renewed your SVCB membership for 2012, it's time to do so. If you don't, you won't receive this newsletter with all its weird, groovy stuff.
Dues are $10. You can renew your membership at the January meeting, or send a check to SVCB, P.O. Box 493, Mountain View, CA 94042. Please do not send cash. The absolute renewal deadline is Sunday, January 29. Thank you.Return to the Table of Contents
1. 12/7: Scientists at UCSB have developed a greater understanding of how the nervous system becomes wired during early development. The team examined the connectivity of nerve cells, called neurons, in mice retinas. Neurons communicate with one another via synapses, where the dendrites and axon terminals of different cells form contacts. This is where nerve signals are transmitted from one neuron to another. The retina is an outgrowth of the brain during embryonic development and is a precisely layered structure in which the cells and terminals are restricted to discrete layers. The team modulated a class of cone bipolar cells which relay information from the cone photoreceptors to the retinal ganglion cells. The latter are neurons that, in turn, project information to locations within the brain where further visual processing of the retinal image takes place. The total number of connections made by a cone bipolar cell was remarkably plastic, defined solely by the number of cone contacts formed. "Studies like these may prove relevant for re-establishing connectivity following nerve cell re-specification or replacement in degenerative diseases, particularly as advances in stem cell biology make this an increasing possibility," said Reese, a team member.
2. 12/12: Retina Implant Update. Several technologies to restore sight to retina-damaged eyes are making headway. One seeks to begin human trials in the U.S., and another has already hit the market in Europe. There is no effective treatment for RP, but researchers such as those at Retina Implant, AG, are making great strides to remedy this through implants that stimulate still active nerves in the retina, the layer of tissue at the back of the inner eye. RP kills the retina's photoreceptors, rod and cone cells, that convert light into electrical signals, which are transmitted via the optic nerve to the brain's visual cortex for processing. In November, Retina Implant, AG, got approval to extend the phase II human clinical trial of their retinal implant outside their native Germany. Their implant is a 3-by 3-millimeter microelectronic chip (0.1-mm thick), containing about 1,500 light-sensitive photodiodes, amplifiers and electrodes surgically inserted beneath the fovea (which contains the cone cells) in the retina's macula region. The fovea enables the clarity of vision that people rely on to read, watch TV, and drive. The chip helps generate at least partial vision by stimulating intact nerve cells in the retina. The nervous impulses from these cells are then led via the optic nerve to the visual cortex, where they finally lead to impressions of sight. Thus far, some patients report having a narrow field of vision partially restored, providing them with enough acuity to locate light sources such as windows and lamps, as well as to detect lighted objects against dark backgrounds. The chip's power source is positioned under the skin behind the ear, and connected via a thin cable. Retina Implant has successfully placed chips beneath the retinas of 9 patients since May 2010. The company hopes to widen patients' field of vision further by arranging 3 chips in a row beneath the retina. The ability to produce accurate colors via retinal implants, however, is very complicated, and may not be possible for years. Retina Implant has also developed an outpatient RX for early-stage RP called Okuvision, which uses electric stimulation to help preserve retinal cells. The extension expands Retina Implant's trial to an additional 25 patients beginning early next year, and follows a partnership the company struck in March with the Wills Eye Institute in Philadelphia. Wills is looking to become the lead U.S. clinical trial investigator site for Retina Implant's technology, and to help the company through the U.S. FDA review process. Cutting-edge technologies such as sub-retinal implants are typically at a disadvantage when seeking FDA approval due to the lack of a track record, but Retina Implant's work in Europe provides a precedent for the FDA to consider.
3. 12/15: Needle-free test is being introduced to help diabetics reduce their risk for serious complications such as vision loss. Young or old, any ethnic background, diabetes can hit anyone at any time. Right now, 7 million diabetics are undiagnosed in the US. This new tool is a needle-free test being introduced to help many patients reduce their risk for serious DM complications. Pediatric endocrinologist Dr. S. Chalews says the new tool uses light, instead of an invasive skin biopsy, to measure abnormal proteins in the skin associated with DM complications. This new machine could prove to be quicker and more effective than the presently used blood glucose testing machines. Two people with the same BS may have very different levels of glycated proteins. This new system is currently being tested as a way to quickly screen large numbers of diabetics, without the need for drawing blood. This new device is currently restricted to investigational use in the U.S. But it could get FDA approval by 2013. In other related news, USC neuroscientists have found the missing link on how the brain regulates blood sugar. They have identified the exact enzymes that lead to the release of glucose-controlling hormones. Understanding how the body naturally corrects for high or low blood sugar could change the way diabetes is treated. Form Eyewitness News, LA (KABC)Return to the Table of Contents
Note that dates pertaining to SVCB activities are provisionary, in that the membership must approve the 2012 Business Calendar.