The Federationist

“The Blind Speaking for Themselves”

Fall/Winter 2013

_________________________________________________

A publication of the

National Federation of the Blind of Connecticut

477 Connecticut Boulevard, Suite 217

East Hartford, Connecticut 06108

(860) 289-1971

www.nfbct.org

 

The real problem of blindness is not the lack of eyesight. The real problem is the misunderstanding and lack of information which exist. If a blind person has proper training and opportunity, blindness is only a physical nuisance. The National Federation of the Blind of Connecticut is a state affiliate of the National Federation of the Blind (NFB) and works to improve the lives of blind people in Connecticut. By providing information and education to its members and the public, the NFB of Connecticut is changing what it means to be blind.

 

Articles reproduced in The Federationist comply with public law 104-197, the Copyright Amendment of 1996. This law allows authorized entities to reproduce previously published, non-dramatic literary works in specialized formats for the exclusive use by blind or disabled people

 

 

Table of Contents

From the Eyes of a First-Timer, by Carol Lemieux

Low-Vision Specialists Website

Another Screen Reader, by Ann Chiapetta

Reflections on Leadership

Of Life and Learning!, by Barbara Blejewski

Legislative Update

Meeting with Connecticut’s Senators, by Mary Silverberg

Vehicle Donation Program

Recipes

Chapter Meeting Information

 

Don’t forget—your article can be in the next Federationist!  Please see the article on the next page, Federationist Facelift, for more information. 

Published by The National Federation of the Blind of Connecticut

President:  Elizabeth Rival

Editors:  Barbara Blejewski and Carol Lemieux

October 2013

Please obtain permission from the editors before reprinting any articles, in full or in part, printed in this publication.

 

 

Federationist Facelift

The Connecticut Federationist is taking on a new look, and with everyone’s participation, we are hoping to make this publication one that other states will look to as an example of journalistic quality and Federationism.  In each issue we will try to feature an article or two on Federation philosophy that will help build leadership and educate members about NFB.  Some of the information will be old and familiar to many, but new to others.  We are also going to feature articles and information submitted by Connecticut Federationists.  Of course, what would an NFB newsletter be without recipes! 

 

Start talking at your meetings about what you’d like to submit for publication in our next issue.  What has your chapter been doing that would interest other chapters in the state or around the country?  Gather your recipes and send them to the Federationist—they may end up in our cookbook someday!  Most of all, don’t worry about your writing skills.  If your article needs to be touched up, it will be. 

 

One word of caution, please do not submit articles from other publications without indicating the name of the publication, author (if known), and publication date.  We would not want to violate any copyright laws. 

 

The deadline for the next issue of The Federationist is February 28, 2014.  Submit your articles to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..    Either Carol Lemieux or Barbara Blejewski, the Federationist editors, will contact you if there are any questions concerning your submission, so be sure to include your name and telephone number with your submission. 

 

This is our publication, so let’s make it one we will be proud to call Connecticut’s Federationist! 

 

In this edition, a few of the articles are longer than usual for The Federationist, but they are certainly worth your while to read. 

 

 

From the Eyes of a First-Timer

The National Convention

By Carol Lemieux

 

I will begin with the bottom line:  I loved my first National Federation of the Blind national convention! 

 

I’m hardly a first-timer; but regarding the national convention, I was.  In over 30 years as a Federationist, I had never attended a national convention.  Usually, I did not have an abundance of vacation days, did not have the funds, or a combination of the two.  I heard many stories over the years and, frankly, I wasn’t sure I was missing anything.  After all, my interests are in legislation and public relations, and the Washington Seminar satisfies those interests for me. 

 

This summer, though, I packed up the capris and sandals, hooked up with Barbara Blejewski, and headed to Orlando.  I didn’t have any expectations, so I wouldn’t be terribly disappointed if the convention was not so great.  I only hoped that leaving Connecticut during a tornado warning was not an omen. 

 

Being late, getting soaked by the first of many downpours, and running quickly to the “Rookie Roundup” was not how I envisioned arriving at the convention.  Maybe I was expecting a red carpet and Dr. Maurer greeting me much the same as the prodigal son was greeted by his father upon returning home.  I didn’t expect a fatted calf, but maybe a Diet Coke would have been nice.  One of the requirements for receiving a “first-timers” grant was that I attend the Rookie Roundup, so skip the red-carpet dream and get on to the roundup. 

 

There were a lot of first-timers!  Were they all young and new to the Federation, or were there some old-timers, like me, who just never made it to the national convention?  I would guess that the majority were new, or newer, to the Federation and were excited about attending their first convention in Orlando.  I didn’t recognize most of them, so I would guess that most had not been to the Washington Seminar yet. 

 

I received my rookie ribbon to attach to my badge, indicating that it was my first convention, and grabbed my Federation tote bag.  Being a bag lady, that was my first exciting convention adventure.  I also was able to secure a nice print program to keep as a souvenir of what was to become a memorable event. 

 

Preparing in advance of the convention was helpful.  I knew which meetings I wanted to attend during the first days of the convention.  I also knew that I would have to forgo some to attend others.  I would choose as best I could. 

 

Tuesday began by getting the lay of the land.  Even the sighted have to get orientated to new, large locations.  Anyone who has ridden in my car knows that I am not a direction-oriented person.  So after asking a lot of questions and following a lot of blind Federationists, Barbara and I found the exhibition hall.  The first assignment was to sell dog biscuits at the Connecticut table.  I wanted to attend the Resolutions Committee meeting, but I was obligated to selling the biscuits, and so I did.  As I said, I would need to forgo some meetings because of schedule conflicts, but at my next convention I will attend those I missed this year. 

Walking around the exhibition hall was exciting, and it was fun to see the many  and sundry items each state chose to sell.  My favorite items were sold by the young women from Pennsylvania and from the Parents of Blind Children Division.  Both tables had very nice bracelets for sale, for very reasonable prices, and the salespersons were admirable in their marketing skills.  Bracelets are the “in thing” these days so I had to buy a few.  I also saw a guide horse in the exhibition hall.  I knew they existed, but until you’ve seen one, it’s hard to imagine – that was great!

 

After dinner, it was off to my first official meeting—the Membership Committee meeting.  Being part of a very small chapter, this meeting was the first one I highlighted during my pre-convention planning.  How to attract new members to the chapter is important.  Also important, though, is how to conduct a meeting, no matter how large or small, how to treat people once you get them to a meeting, and how to retain them.  In future Federationist issues, I hope to share more of what I learned at the national convention committee meetings. 

 

Wednesday was the meeting of the board of directors.  This was the first very large meeting I attended.  I was excited to attend this, but I really thought more Federationists would have been there.  To me, this is a great opportunity to see how NFB operates and should not be missed.  But, that’s just my opinion – I love sitting in meetings, listening to discussions and learning whatever I can.  I was not disappointed in this meeting. 

 

I was looking forward to the meetings I planned to attend on Wednesday afternoon and evening.  Chris Danielson, Director of Public Relations for NFB, conducted the Public Relations Committee meeting.  Chris covered the subject with such incredible expertise that my head was spinning.  I couldn’t take notes fast enough, and I didn’t want to miss a thing he said. 

 

The final meeting of the day for me was the Communications Committee meeting.  As with the public relations meeting, I couldn’t absorb all of the information presented during this session.  R.L. Newman, Barbara Pierce, Gary Wunder, and others provided so much information to those of us interested in communications.  I know that what I learned at that meeting will be valuable now that I am co-editor of the Federationist. 

 

It was finally Thursday and the beginning of the convention sessions.  I loved every bit of the three days of sessions.  The presentations on the Fourth of July, the speakers, the guests—there’s not much I can say except FABULOUS!  There were serious moments, funny moments, and moments when we all had tears in our eyes.  During those times I truly felt like a member of the Federation family. 

 

By Friday night I was exhausted and really tired of the lousy weather we had had for so much of the week.  The hotel pool was constantly staring me in the face.  I was being beckoned to that pool only to be let down by another period of rain.  But Friday evening was different.  Fellow Connecticut Federationist Esther Levegnale and I decided that if we were going to go swimming, it was then.  We met downstairs, had a quick dinner and made the plunge.  My trip to Orlando and the convention was almost complete now.  I enjoyed the convention immensely, had a good time with friends, and finally went in that pool that had taunted me all week. 

One more day and it would be back to Connecticut.  Before that ascent into the sky and back home, there would be the final convention session on Saturday and the banquet.  The session finished up business and left us with hopes for another wonderful convention in Orlando next year. 

 

The banquet was exciting because there were so many Federationists there.  Unless you belong to other large, national or worldwide organizations, when would you ever attend a function of such magnitude?  There were thousands of blind people at this event, and everyone there was like-minded when it comes to blindness and the ability of the blind to compete in the world on an equal basis with the sighted.  What energy was generated by those in attendance!  The dinner was nice, my table companions were great, and I felt exhilarated being there.  The highlights of the banquet were the presentation of the scholarships and, of course, Dr. Maurer’s banquet speech. 

 

It truly was a memorable convention for me.  I hope to share more functional information in future editions of the Federationist.  My main goal here was to share the excitement of my first national convention and the exhilaration from being a Federationist.  I’ve loved the Federation for many years, and this convention sealed that love again.  I would be remiss if I didn’t mention my gratitude for receiving the first-timers scholarship.  It is because of that grant I was able to attend the convention.  I hope this was only the first of many more national conventions for me. 

 

Now, I will close with the bottom line:  I loved my first National Federation of the Blind national convention! 

 

 

Low-Vision Specialists Website

 

The International Academy of Low Vision Specialists is pleased to announce the launch of a standalone website, http://www.LowVisionEyeDoctors.com dedicated to educating consumers about low vision and low vision solutions. The site was created to serve as an online resource for people with vision impairment due to macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma and other eye conditions often associated with aging. The initiative aims to answer questions that those with low vision, in addition to their loved ones and caregivers, may have by addressing its causes and warning signs, as well as vision-enhancing devices and medical solutions.

 

The website design is fully functional for low vision users. It offers an easy-to-navigate layout and incorporates several specialty functions, including font size and contrast buttons, a doctor locator called "Find a Low Vision Specialist" and a Low Vision Resource feed.

 

In addition to the launch, consumer outreach efforts focus on promoting the website to key aging publications including Mature Living, Lions Club Magazine, Good Old Days and Living Well.

 

To learn more about The International Academy of Low Vision Specialists low vision website, contact Dr. Richard Shuldiner, Founder, International Academy of Low Vision Specialists at Doctor(at)lowvisioncare(dot)com or visit http://www.lowvisioneyedoctors.com, http://www.IALVS.com

 

 

Another Screen Reader

By Ann Chiapetta

 

(Editors’ note:  This article appeared in the Matilda Ziegler Magazine for the Blind on August 14, 2013.  The author of this article is Ann Chiapetta, a Feature Writer for the Matilda Ziegler Magazine.)

 

My old laptop sat in the closet for two years before I decided to bring it to work. I wanted to set it up for veterans who could use it to access online information. My team leader agreed and set to work wiping my personal information and uninstalling all the adaptive technology. Since it is running Windows XP, I thought it would be best. Then I had another thought, why don’t I install the open source screen reader, NVDA? I always wanted to give it a test drive and this was most likely the opportunity to do it.

 

We got the information, hooked up to the internet and downloaded the software. Now my Dell Latitude with a 2 GB hard drive speaks with an Australian accent. I like it so far and have been testing it out a little at a time. The tutorial and user guide are good and I don’t have any trouble following and remembering the commands. The only problem I have is adjusting to the laptop’s keyboard. To give me less frustration, I am working on obtaining a standard keyboard so I can learn NVDA faster and more confidently.

 

What does NVDA stand for? Non Visual Desktop Access. Open source means it’s free and can be downloaded from the internet.

As for technology, well, the past ten years have been exciting. The growth spurt continues to produce better and better products for the blind and vision impaired

and NVDA is proof of it.

 

For more information on NVDA, go to:  http://www.nvaccess.org/

 

 

Reflections on Leadership

 

(Editors’ note:  This article appeared in its entirety in the December 2005 Braille Monitor.  The following reflections on the desirable characteristics of Federation presidents were written by the late Federationist Larry Streeter.  Larry passed away in 2011, but his words should continue to be studied by all Federationists.  These characteristics can be applied to Federation leaders, and all members in general.  Strong, steady and intelligent leadership will guide us through chapter development and financial growth.  Here, in part, is what Larry Streeter said:) 

 

Clearly, finding leaders is our most important internal decision. The first duty of any president is to find his or her successor. Finding the right person is no easy task. We should carefully observe individuals over an extended period, mentor them to the best of our ability, and provide opportunities for them to demonstrate their talents. At some point we must step back and observe the results of our efforts, like a mother bird watching her young fly for the first time. Though finding leaders is difficult, future leaders are easy to recognize when they appear.

 

Though it is not necessary to be president to be a leader, it is essential that presidents be leaders. We expect many things of our presidents. Here are a few that seem important to me:

 

Presidents should be teachers. Every member must learn our most basic philosophy. While Dr. Jernigan was alive, I often heard the words "equality, opportunity, and security." While we have not lessened our commitment to these concepts, those words used to be part of the NFB logo. I sometimes wonder if the introduction of the vigorous, active Whozit logo without these three words has lessened our emphasis on the concepts. Dr. Jernigan taught us the importance of these principles, and these three goals have inspired many members to reach a higher level of commitment. We must continue to teach these basics to old and new members alike.

Good presidents encourage members to read, study, and digest our literature. Our writings are critical in the development of the membership. They tell of our history, identify our philosophy, and keep us abreast of current issues in the blindness field. They are the heart of our movement and declare our vision, mission, and independent spirit. Reading our literature also has a tremendous impact on our level of personal commitment.

 

Presidents set the example for their members. Glenn Crosby served as president of the NFB of Texas when I moved back there in late 1977. President Crosby never expected anyone to do more than he did. The affiliate did not have a dime to spare. We made up for the money we did not have with our enthusiasm. We sold stuffed animals to raise funds. High school girls just loved them.

 

Glenn knew the importance of teaching NFB principles. He took the money we earned from the sale and conducted a leadership seminar in San Antonio. It was a tremendous weekend. We were taught about our history, the importance of being in the organization, and the benefits of our efforts. We shared personal stories of success and failure as blind people and made a commitment to work together for the betterment of the blind. The result was a more cohesive and collaborative affiliate. It was a privilege to serve as first vice president later in his administration. A few of that group have gone on to a better place. However, every living person who attended that seminar has remained strong in our movement to this day.

 

Presidents should be committed to improving their own personal skills, including Braille, independent travel, and the other skills of blindness. But this also includes general leadership and communication skills. Although most of us will never be able to write great speeches like presidents tenBroek, Jernigan, and Maurer, we should still take the time and make the effort to improve our writing skills by raising our personal bars.

 

A good president is not afraid to set high expectations for the organization. Once a major issue has been identified, our presidents have expected excellence of themselves and the membership. Our goals have often been lofty and seemed impossible, but we have always been a motivated, decisive, and talented group of blind citizens. If our goals were too easy, we would all become bored and lazy. Many of us would become inactive or even leave the movement.

 

Presidents must be good communicators. Peggy Elliott, our esteemed second vice president, once told me that poor communication is the most critical of all member complaints. I strongly concur with her thinking. However, communication is a two-way street. We all need to work to communicate better. Presidents are not mind readers and should not be expected to be. If a president is worth his or her salt, a member should be able to go to that president and discuss anything under the sun.

 

Presidents must be willing to respect and honestly consider the opinions of all members. Members should be encouraged to voice their opinions, even those that are strongly held or opposed by others. Open discussion is critical to organizational success; every issue has at least two sides.

 

Part of communicating is listening. Presidents must listen closely and be open to constructive criticism. One of my former Idaho board members was very good about calling me to express her opinion. We did not always see eye to eye or agree immediately. I readily admit that I was not always ready for her open manner of addressing issues, but I appreciated her candor just the same. Sometimes I had to hang up the phone and think about her comments to digest fully what she was communicating. But her calls helped me to see and appreciate other perspectives.

 

Presidents must be flexible and able to deal effectively with a diverse membership. Blind people mirror our society. This great movement attracts people from various classes, religions, geographical regions, and ages. The president must work with them all.

 

Good presidents demonstrate confidence. At times the membership may misinterpret confidence, labeling it as arrogance. People who are regarded as confident share a number of characteristics. They are goal setters, active planners, and decision makers. They are not afraid of opposition or fearful of expressing an opinion. They are assertive, self-motivated people who usually achieve their goals. Confident people in our movement have at least most of the characteristics above, demonstrate positive attitudes about blindness, and have good skills. Confidence goes hand in hand with competence. The more work we do in the Federation, the more likely it is that our confidence and competence will grow and the greater our commitment will be.

 

Presidents must be willing to face and learn from adversity because it is inevitable and can help us to grow and become something better tomorrow than we are today. It is not always easy to understand. Dr. tenBroek provides a dramatic example. I never knew the man but have read many of his works. I have been told that in addition to his intellectual capabilities he was kind and considerate. For nearly two decades he built this organization into a strong entity, only to have his opponents viciously attack him. He was forced to watch the organization he loved endure a civil war, and he eventually chose to give up the presidency. This courage and selflessness spurred the Federation to resolve the crisis and laid the foundation for our unity and strength today. Several years after this decision, Dr. tenBroek returned to the presidency for the final two years of his life. He never left the movement that he had created. Rather he stood the difficult test.

A good president writes well in order to carry the message to the membership and the public at large. Dr. Jernigan set the standard high, and his speeches will always influence our thinking. President Maurer continues to impress the membership and society with his words of wisdom. Their eloquent, powerful, and truthful words have certainly been a major factor in changing what it means to be blind.

 

We expect our presidents to be good speakers. I have heard many eloquent speeches delivered by state and local presidents. However, when it comes to blindness issues, who can name two better speakers than Dr. Jernigan and President Maurer? The high points of our annual conventions are the presidential report and the banquet address. No one will ever be NFB national president for long unless he or she possesses the skill to deliver a powerful presentation.

 

Presidents must set agendas and plan, organize, and conduct meetings. In the name of democracy they should encourage members to speak their minds and then cast their votes. But once the vote has been taken, the time for debate has passed. Members then have the obligation to support the decision the group has made. If a member still continues to oppose the will of the majority, the healthiest and most responsible course for him or her to take is to remain silent on that subject until everyone has had a chance to observe the policy in action.

 

Presidents must understand and apply organizational policy. The issue of person-first language is a good example and particularly important to me. Our society pressures all of us to be politically correct for no very good reason. Some of us have fallen into this trap. I served on the Resolutions Committee the year Dr. Jernigan wrote his resolution on person-first language, and I sat next to him while he eloquently read it. Chills ran up and down my spine. I had not realized just how strongly opposed I had been to person-first language until he put my feelings into words. My opposition today is just as strong as it was then. Person-first language either removes the word "blind" from our vocabulary or hides the characteristic behind the noun. We are blind people, not people who are blind. I am absolutely convinced that using person-first language is dangerous because it implies discomfort with the characteristic. In my opinion a good president should implement this Federation policy by resisting person-first language at every opportunity and absolutely refusing to let it creep into his or her speeches and writing.

 

Presidents must frequently testify on legislative issues and represent the organization in the community. They appoint committees and supervise their work and are often called upon to help solve members' personal problems. One of the most important skills for presidents to develop is the ability to know when and how to delegate responsibilities. Every president must provide leadership in guarding the NFB from threats to its autonomy. We are not a cross-disability group. I heard Dr. Jernigan say on more than one occasion, "If we need to participate in a cross-disability effort, let us get in and get out again quickly." Occasionally I hear people say, "We need to work together." The doctrine of working together goes far beyond sitting around in a circle, smiling at one another, holding hands, and singing "Kum Ba Yah"; clearly that is not what we are all about. Of course we need to work together with other organizations when our interests coincide, but working this way requires that we allow open and honest discussion of difficult topics. Nothing is wrong with working with others outside the Federation as long as we always plan the activity and speak for ourselves through our own collective voice.

 

We must all remember that we are the voice of the nation's blind, the National Federation of the Blind. We are the leaders of the blind community. Not everyone in the world is happy about this fact. We did not get to this position overnight; it took considerable time and effort and more than one battle. Our enemies want to see us fail. They would be delighted if we were to go away, to disband. We will never see eye to eye with some of these individuals and organizations. So be it.

The Federation has been very good to me. I am thankful for the many powerful, unforgettable experiences I have had over the years. They have helped me become a more determined person in my daily life, given me the confidence to compete on terms of equality with my sighted peers, allowed me the opportunity to serve others by sharing my time and talents to improve our future as blind people, and guided me to acquire knowledge and come to a better understanding about blindness. At least for me the Federation is a way of life.

 

I think of the Federation as being like our galaxy with the sun, moon, and stars. Whether on the national, state, or local level, the sun is the president and the moon is the person being prepared to assume the office sometime in the future. The stars are the general membership--some who burn brightly, some who sparkle from time to time, and others who can barely be observed. How brightly we shine, regardless of our position, depends on our understanding of the Federation's basic principles and our personal level of commitment.

 

 

Of Life and Learning!

By Barbara Blejewski

 

Technology is critical to surviving in today’s world.  The computer is vital for writing reports, e-mailing documents and photos, working in a variety of occupations from home, banking, ordering groceries and items from online catalogs, connecting with the internet to access and share information throughout the world.  Cell phones and iPhones have taken the place of virtually all pay telephones and, in many cases, of home landline phones.  People can play computer and video games, listen to music, and use a variety of devices to amuse themselves without leaving home.

 

What’s missing from this picture? The answer is simple:  participation in life!  Imagine walking outside of your home.  There’s a vegetable garden filled with string beans, peas, cucumbers, onions, summer squash, corn and tomatoes.  Toward evening, you snap the beans, shell the peas, and shuck the corn. What’s that pungent smell? Ah, that’s tomatoes ready to pick off the vine. There’s nothing as delicious as a fresh, juicy tomato straight from the garden.  As evening arrives, crickets chirp, peepers and frogs are heard from a nearby pond.  The sound of whip-poor-wills is heard from the woods. 

 

While we were in school, teachers enhanced our education with field trips.  During a field trip to a bakery, we smelled the fragrant bread baking and shaped leftover bits of dough into cookies, which were baked in the oven. During social studies class, we discussed how dairy products were made.  We actually made butter by shaking a jar filled with heavy cream.  When our arms had reached the point of aching, we learned that the heavy cream had become butter. 

 

In high school, French came in handy when the French Club went to New York City.  We took the subway to the United Nations experiencing the twists and turns, the bumps and screeching halts the subway car made as it navigated tunnels under the streets of New York.  During our tour, we listened to speeches being translated into various languages.  We then ate lunch at an automat and attended a play in French at a theater.  We ate at a French restaurant, ordering our meals by speaking French.  When the French Club went to Quebec the following year, we felt the spray from Montmorency Falls, which are higher than Niagra Falls, spoke French to local people, ordered meals in French, and rode a horse and carriage through the streets of Quebec to experience every sensation afforded  us by that beautiful city. 

 

To write this article, I worked on a desktop computer using Jaws, my screen reader, as my adaptive technology.  Jaws enabled me to reread the article, change sentence structure, and correct spelling and grammatical errors.  In my opinion, technology is a vital tool, but experience is still the best teacher.

 

 

Legislative Update

 

(Editors’ note:  Samuel R. Bagenstos provided to NFB a professional opinion and comments on Section 511 of the Workforce Investment Act of 2013.  Samuel Bagenstos is a professor of law at the University of Michigan Law School, former Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights, United States Department of Justice [institutional affiliation for identification purposes only]). 

This is the opening paragraph of Professor Bagenstos’ opinion paper: 

 

The Workforce Investment Act of 2013, which the Committee on Health Education, Labor and Pensions recently reported to the full Senate, contains a provision that purports to restrict subminimum wage employment for young adults with disabilities.  That provision is the proposed Section 511 of the Rehabilitation Act.  Although Section 511 is well intended, it is unlikely to achieve its goals.  If anything, it is likely to set back the progress that the federal government has made in recent years in limiting the use of subminimum wage employment in sheltered workshops. 

 

Professor Bagenstos provides an analysis of Section 511 and concludes with this: 

 

Section 511 reflects a good-faith effort at reaching a compromise that will limit subminimum wage employment.  But despite the good intentions of its author, Section 511 is exceedingly unlikely to achieve that result. 

 

It is unclear whether any compromise that would write the recognition of the subminimum wage into the Rehabilitation Act would make sense.  But at a minimum, any such compromise would have to do two things that Section 511 does not do:  (a) prohibit any new issuance of certificates authorizing the payment of submimimum wages under the Fair Labor Standards Act; and (b) require that those who receive the submimimum wage work not in sheltered workshops, but in integrated, competitive environments.  The first requirement would serve Senator Harkin’s goal of preventing “another generation of young people with significant disabilities” from “end[ing] up getting tracked directly from school to sheltered settings.”  And the second would align the disability subminimum wage provision with the other subminimum wage provisions in the Fair Labor Standards Act for learners, apprentices, and students by ensuring that subminimum wages are truly only a temporary way station for people who are in fact learning skills appropriate to the competitive economy—rather than a long-term subsidy to dead-end sheltered workshops.  Section 511 as currently drafted does neither of these things.  It simply entrenches sheltered workshops and the subminimum wage—and for the first time recognizes them as acceptable under the rights provisions of the Rehabilitation Act, our Nation’s first disability rights law.  This is a stunning step backwards. 

Professor Bagenstos’ entire opinion can be read on NFB’s website (nfb.org). 

 

 

Meeting with Connecticut’s Senators

By Mary Silverberg

 

Beth Rival, Connecticut affiliate president, Mary Silverberg, state legislative committee, and Anil Lewis, Director of Policy and Advocacy (NFB National) , met with staff members of both Senators Blumenthal and Murphy on September 12, 2013, in Hartford.  The purpose of the meeting was to reach out to the Senators regarding Senate Bill 1356, the Workforce Investment Act (WIA) that is currently up for reauthorization. 

 

Section 511 of the WIA proposes to continue subminimum wages for disabled workers and to move the Rehabilitation Services Administration from the Department of Education to the Department of Labor.  It is paramount that the Senators understand, from our point of view, the implications of this bill for persons withdisabilities as it is written. 

 

When the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) was passed in 1938, little was known about the potential of persons with disabilities, and it seemed like a good idea to train them to do menial, repetitive tasks and pay subminimum wages. 

 

Much has changed since then.  With advances in technology, teaching techniques, assistive technology and reasonable accomodations, disabled persons can now lead full, productive lives, including working in competitive employment, making competitive wages. 

 

The meeting was productive with a good exchange of information and a promise from the Senators’ staffers to pass on the information we presented to them in Hartford to the Washington staff and to the Senators.  We feel this was another positive step in the process. 

 

 

Vehicle Donation Program

 

The national office of NFB has launched a Vehicle Donation program that will benefit our organization while providing a convenient and easy way for people to rid themselves of unwanted cars or trucks.  Every affiliate is participating in this program, including Connecticut. 

 

Carol Lemieux is Connecticut’s ambassador for this program.  Any questions regarding our participation in the program can directed to Carol.  Carol can be reached at night at 1-860-538-8418.  She also will be at the state convention with materials for Connecticut Federationists to take and distribute throughout the state. 

The program is much like other vehicle donation programs.  NFB has contracted with a vendor who takes the donated cars and, in turn, gives NFB funds for each car donated.  The vendor arranges the pickup of the car, so all we have to do is find the donors.  Here is the text of the flyer: 

 

Vehicle Donations

Take the Blind Further!

 

Wondering what to do with your old car or truck?

Donating your vehicle to the National Federation of the Blind is convenient, easy, and may qualify you for a tax deduction.

And best of all, your donation of a used vehicle will ensure a brighter future for all blind children and adults.

All you need to do is call 1-855-659-9314 or visit www.carshelpingtheblind.org

We will arrange to have the donated vehicle picked up and towed and provide you with a tax-deductible receipt—all at no charge to you!

Connecticut Federationists can make a difference by participating in this effort!   Please contact Carol Lemieux for the flyers and for more information. 

 

 

RECIPES

Aunt Margaret’s Easy Coconut Drop Cookies

(Barbara Blejewski submitted this recipe for her aunt’s cookies, which are easy-to-make, no-bake treats that taste more like candy than a cookie.)

2 cups sugar

5 tablespoons cocoa

½ cup butter or margarine

½ cup milk

Pinch of salt

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup sweetened shredded coconut

2 cups quick oatmeal

 

Combine sugar and cocoa in a medium saucepan.  Add butter and milk.  Constantly stir the mixture while bringing it to a boil.  Once the mixture comes to a boil, remove from heat and stir in salt, vanilla, coconut and oatmeal.  After the liquid has been absorbed by the coconut and oatmeal mixture, drop by the spoonful onto cookie sheets lined with wax paper.  Chill in refrigerator until set, about 30 minutes.  Enjoy and share, because everyone will love these treats!

 

Betty’s Corn Casserole

(This is an easy casserole that Betty Woodward makes for many occasions because it is loved by all.)

1 stick of butter

1 can creamed-style corn

1 can Nibblet corn, drained

1 egg

1 cup sour cream

1 box Jiffy corn muffin mix

Melt 1 stick of butter in a 2 quart microwave-safe baking dish (can do this step in the microwave).  After the butter is melted, add the creamed corn, drained corn, egg and sour cream.  Mix these ingredients well.  Lastly, add the Jiffy mix and mix well.  Bake in the oven (not the microwave) at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.  Do not cover.  Serve as a side dish or bring to a potluck supper, and enjoy!

 

 

CHAPTER MEETING INFORMATION

NATIONAL FEDERATION OF THE BLIND OF CT

 

Central CT Chapter                                             Danbury Area Chapter

Gary Allen, President                                            Chris Kuell, President

860-589-2241                                                        203-730-8884

Meetings:                                                               Meetings:

          Plainville Library                                                    Olive Garden/Red Lobster

          56 Main St, Plainville                                             Backus Ave, Danbury

          2nd Saturday at noon                                           Every other month; call first

East of the River Chapter                                  Greater Hartford Area

Marie Beaulier, President                                     Barbara Blejewski, President

860-569-6436                                                        860-721-8601

Meetings:                                                               Meetings:

          St. Elizabeth Manor Comm Rm                           Capitol Community College

          41 Applegate Lane, E. Hartford                           950 Main St, Hartford

          3rd Saturday at 10:00 AM                                    3rd Saturday at 10:00 AM

Shoreline Chapter                                               Southern CT Chapter

Alan Daniels, President                                        Rich McGaffin, President

203-488-7348                                                        203-937-5441

Meetings:                                                               Meetings:

          First Congregational Church                                Fowler Memorial Building

          1009 Main St, Branford                                         45 New Haven Ave, Milford

          3rd Saturday at 1:00 PM                                       2nd Saturday at 1:00 PM

Stamford Area Chapter                                      Norwalk Area Chapter

Julie Hetfield, President                                        James Adams, Contact Person

203-536-4237                                                        203-956-5539

Meetings:                                                               Meetings:

          Stamford Hospital                                                 Church Without Walls

          Shelburne & W. Broad, Stamford                        16 Isaac St, Norwalk

          2nd Saturday at 1:00 PM                                      2nd Saturday at 12:30 PM

At-Large Chapter Conference Call Meetings

Edward Shaham, Contact Person

          2nd Thursdays at 6:30 PM (revised)

          Call in information: 760-569-9000; access code: 433706#

          NOTE: caller is responsible for any long distance charges incurred.