The Federationist in Connecticut
“The Blind Speaking for Themselves”
A publication of the
National Federation of the Blind of Connecticut
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
Economics of Leadership: Is Power Rival?
The Braille Trail: The Best Kept Secret in Vernon
My Trip to Poland
My Birthday Surprise
Vehicle Donation Program
Washington Seminar 2014
My Experience at the Louisiana Center
Microsoft GW Micro Partnership
Chapter Meeting Information
Published by the National Federation of the Blind of Connecticut
President: Elizabeth Rival
Editors: Barbara Blejewski and Carol Lemieux
Please obtain permission from the editors before reprinting any articles, in full or in part, printed in this publication.
In This Issue of The Federationist in Connecticut. . .
We think you will find the Spring/Summer 2014 issue of Connecticut’s Federationist thought provoking, interesting and fun to read. Our articles come from a wide range of Federationists--long-time members to relatively new members.
After reading the issue, you will come away with different views on NFB philosophy, gather some information on products available to the blind, and hopefully share in the joys of being a member of the National Federation of the Blind.
Please start gathering your articles soon, as we would like to have the next edition published by the state convention in November. If you are going to the national convention this summer, please consider submitting an article about the convention and your experience. We would also like to have articles about the activities of the local chapters, and of course, don’t forget to submit recipes.
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.
This is our publication, so let’s make it one we will be proud to call Connecticut’s Federationist!
Economics of Leadership: Is Power Rival?
By Justin Salisbury
The science of economics is the allocation of scarce resources to achieve maximum well-being. All finite resources, including air and sunlight, are considered scarce. One characteristic in economics which helps define the type of good is whether or not the good is rival. If a good is rival, one person’s consumption of it restricts another person’s ability to consume it. For example, if I buy an NFB of New Jersey Whozit necktie, there is one fewer Whozit necktie available for you to buy. If I eat a banana, that banana is gone, and it is most unlikely that anyone else will ever be able to eat it.
At the banquet of the 2013 National Federation of the Blind Convention, President Marc Maurer said, “One misunderstanding about the nature of power is that this commodity is finite, limited in quantity, and shared only by the fortunate few. To get power, it is (according to some) necessary to seize it from the hands of others.”
Someone with this misguided philosophy views power as rival. Such a person would say that, if I exercise power, there is less power available for you or your neighbor to exercise. If I exercise power, someone who views power as rival would view me as a threat to her own power.
In the National Federation of the Blind, we work together to enhance each other’s ability to exercise power and thus empower each other. Whenever I read an article or hear a speech delivered by another Federation leader, I am learning better how to do our work myself. When Trevor Attenberg writes a brilliant letter, I get out my dictionary and absorb a masterful articulation of the capacity of blind people or a new approach to conflict resolution. I can then use those techniques to enhance my power, and Trevor’s exercise of power actually adds to mine. It does not subtract from it. This experience provides a counterexample and argues that power is non-rival.
I now serve as Legislative Coordinator and First Vice President of the National Federation of the Blind of Wisconsin and President of our Dane County Chapter. NFBW President John Fritz is always supportive and encouraging of my efforts. His support and encouragement empower me further, and any power that I have adds to the power of our affiliate. As our affiliate grows more powerful, the power of each affiliate member in turn increases. When we empower each other, we empower ourselves, too.
By contrast, someone who views power as rival might think she has an incentive to try to undercut and undermine the potential for power in anyone else who might exercise it. Such a person could try to break apart every other power structure in her affiliate in order to keep all of the power around herself. Such a person would weaken her organization and therefore weaken herself.
Though power is not rival, titles frequently are. There is only one President of the Connecticut Association of Blind Students. As long as I am CTABS President, nobody else can also be CTABS President.
There is often a view that power intrinsically lies within titles. Some believe that a president is powerful, at least in part, because she is president. She has acquired the rival title of president and is thus powerful. If this were true, then it would also mean that people without titles automatically have less power. If we accept this idea, then we are disempowering ourselves so long as we do not hold the very top title of the organization in question. The less power we have, the less power the organization has, the less effective the organization will be, and the less power each member has. If we disempower ourselves, we disempower our presidents, executive directors, and the like.
If we want our movement to be powerful, we need to recognize that we all have power as individuals and that power is non-rival. A transformational leader is an agent of change, so every Federationist is a transformational leader. A leader is powerful to the degree she empowers others, so we must empower each other, titles or not, to achieve equality, opportunity, and security for the blind.
The Braille Trail: The Best Kept Secret in Vernon
By Barbara Blejewski
On a Sunday afternoon in early October, my friend Janice, my guide dog Farina and I walked the Braille Trail in Vernon, Connecticut. As I walked along the trail, I felt the warm sun on my face and I heard a concert of birds singing and crickets chirping, accompanied by melodious streams and a soft breeze rustling through the trees. The scents of cedar and pine trees, and other woodsy fragrances, filled the air. I paused at each post to read the descriptions of trees and plants. I recall one tree had a small piece of rope which had been pressed against it. The tree continued to grow despite the intrusion of the rope. In addition to the beauty of nature, a mill and a former trout-breeding farm were among the historical features along the trail. Individuals with low-vision were able to read the large white-lettered laminated signs on a black background.
According to the article, “Rope-guided Braille Trail to Open in Historic Vernon Park,” by Stephanie Reitz, Hartford Courant, April 24, 1996, Brad Stewart, an Eagle Scout in Vernon, thought about a project for his Community Service Badge. He decided to coordinate the creation and development of the multi-accessible trail.
Before the actual building of the trail, it was necessary to clean debris and brush from the area. As walkers follow the multi-accessible trail, they follow a smooth, nylon rope which is looped through cedar posts and attached to the trees by rings. With the passage of time come unwelcomed and unwanted changes along the trail. The constant exposure to all types of weather causes the Braille signs to become faded. Invasive plants encroach upon the area once inhabited by native plants. The weather also takes its toll on the nylon rope, cedar posts.
According to the article, “Refurbished Braille Trail at Valley Falls Rededicated,” posted on April 24, 2012, by Chris Dehnel, Editor, Vernon Patch.com., the refurbished multi-accessible Braille trail was rededicated on Friday, April 20, 2012. Businesses supplied volunteers and the necessary materials, a Pratt and Whitney grant funded the refurbishment, and CIB/Oak Hill funded the Braille signs. Volunteers removed the invasive plants from the area and replaced them with native plants. The rope and cedar posts were replaced and new brick walkways were installed.
The trail is open throughout the year, and I look forward to walking the Braille Trail during the spring. Happy Trails!
My Trip to Poland:
A Journey to Sounds from the Heart
By Gigi Yanez-Hamberger
(Editors’ note: Gigi is a long-time member of NFB and a member of the Southern Connecticut Chapter. We were thrilled to hear Gigi perform her beautiful song at the 2013 state convention.)
Ever since I can remember, music has been a very important part of my life. My mother often said that as soon as I learned to speak, I started singing; because of this, I had a chance to perform in events like: singing the national anthem at a local baseball game; being in the high school choir; auditioning to be at America’s Got Talent in 2009; and, currently participating in the music ministry at my church. So, when the opportunity arose for me to participate in a singing contest, naturally I accepted the challenge.
In January of 2013, I received a phone call from the vice president of my local chapter of NFB asking me if I was interested in entering a singing contest. I of course said, “Yes.” She forwarded me the email about the contest and asked me to contact our state president for additional information. The email read, “First world song festival for the blind, Sounds from the Heart, organized by the Lions club, to be held in Krakow, Poland, November 18 to the 20.” All Lions Clubs around the world were encouraged to send participants to compete in this contest.
The rules were: that the participants were blind or visually impaired; the vocalists had to sing an original song composed especially for the festival; and that they were amateur singers. The clubs considering sending vocalists were strongly urged to seek talented blind performers from their communities, assist in finding professional lyricists and musicians to compose the songs, and have them recorded in a professional studio.
When I read this, I felt very nervous; but in spite of that, I was determined to go on. After reading the email, I contacted the state president to find out more about it. She put me in contact with someone from the Lions Club, who then put me in contact with the Bridgeport Lions Club’s president. When I spoke to him, he didn’t know anything about this festival but said that he’d get back to me in a few days with more information.
Almost a week went by when I got a call from Jack, the Lions Club president. He informed me that we had until May 31 to submit a song, and that he didn’t know any professional lyricists or musicians to help in this project. Despite this, we decided to continue. Meanwhile, I was desperately trying to find someone who could help me write a song, but I didn’t have much luck. A couple of months went by before any progress was made. During that time, I was having issues with my vision due to a failed cornea. I saw my eye doctor in April, and he recommended another corneal transplant.
At this period of my life, I had to make a difficult decision; and as a result of this experience, my song, “Leap of Faith” came to be. The music was in my head long before the words poured out of my soul. I called Jack to tell him that I wrote a song. He was happy to hear that there was a song to submit to Poland. We made arrangements to record the song; and on Sunday of Memorial Day weekend, we went to the studio and recorded “Leap of Faith.” I was lucky to have my daughter’s friend, who is an excellent guitarist, accompanying me. I couldn’t believe this was real; it was the first time I had ever written a song, or had even been in a recording studio. I had to pinch myself to make sure it wasn’t a dream.
Although I was very excited to get to that point, the days leading up to that moment were very stressful, putting the finishing touches on the music and practicing the song. At last, on the Tuesday after Memorial Day, Jack informed me that he sent the song to Poland. I breathed a sigh of relief. All I could do was wait to hear whether or not I would be selected to participate in the festival. Jack mentioned that I was the only one from the United States to submit a song, and that there was a good chance for me to be chosen. A couple of months passed, and on July 24 at 6 a.m. I got a call from Jack telling me that I was selected to participate in the Sounds from the Heart Festival in Poland. I shouted at the top of my lungs and practically jumped out of bed. This was very significant because the day before I had a corneal transplant and was recovering from surgery. I truly believe that it was God’s way of encouraging me to go on.
Even though I wasn’t physically able to do much at that time, I started contacting every performer I knew for a possible fundraising event. Needless to say, I told everyone I knew about my going to Poland to compete in a song festival. I couldn’t contain my excitement; everybody was happy for me and wished me luck. On Sunday October 13, a fundraising event was held to benefit my trip to Poland. Then, on Saturday November 16, I left for Poland, accompanied by my daughter and a friend from my church.
On Sunday November 17, we stopped in Frankfurt, Germany, to change planes and continued our journey to Krakow, Poland. When we arrived at our hotel, we were exhausted due to the time change. We rested and then explored our surroundings. The next day we took a tour of the historic section of Krakow. They took us to a university that was founded in the 1300s, a cathedral, a castle, and ruins of the city wall. Everywhere we went there was a tactile scale model of a particular site. On Tuesday November 19, I had rehearsal while my daughter and my friend went to the infamous Nazi-era death camp, Auschwitz.
The rehearsal was a very special moment for me; it was the first time I heard my song arranged for a symphonic orchestra. It was like hearing my children say their first words, or watching them take their first steps. Later that evening, I sang in front of an audience and the preliminary judges; I felt quite nervous. After midnight, the judges selected the 12 finalists who would perform the next day at Krakow’s famous opera house. When they said my name, I couldn’t contain my joy. Being the only non-European contestant singing at such a prestigious venue, I felt like a winner.
The next day, we had a dress rehearsal at the opera house. Later that evening, I performed “Leap of Faith” for the final judges and a much bigger audience. I didn’t win the major prizes, but I received a special award given by the organizing committee for a great performance. Only I and another contestant received this. I was happy to get to the finals, but getting that special award was beyond my wildest dreams.
On Thursday November 21, we left Krakow to go back home to the United States. It seemed like we just got there when it was time to go home. There will be another Sounds from the Heart song festival in Krakow, Poland, in November 2015. I encourage any blind vocalists to contact their local Lions Club to sponsor your submission to the contest.
As a result of my success in Poland, I was invited to perform the national anthem and “Leap of Faith” at the Connecticut Mid-Winter Conference of the Lions Club. I received a standing ovation, and many district Governors gave me their friendship banners and pins. I was honored to receive these gifts from them.
I am blessed to have had the opportunity to represent the United States in such a special contest. I truly hope that, in the future, the United States will host Sounds from the Heart.
By Carol Lemieux
In the last edition of The Federationist, I shared my thoughts on being a first-timer at the National Convention and promised to share more of what I learned at the convention and the meetings I attended. One of the most interesting meetings I attended at the 2013 Convention of the National Federation of the Blind was the meeting of the Membership Committee. What I gathered from that meeting was valuable information that can assist the Connecticut members grow and strengthen the state’s chapters, as well as the affiliate.
Members and money are two important factors in NFB’s growth and success. Strong affiliate presidents are the key to guiding the organization in increasing both members and money. Why should you be part of the National Federation of the Blind? You may first notice that it takes time and money—something is always being sold! You may get the opportunity to sell some of the “stuff,” but you will also get many other opportunities. To name a few, you will be able to: contribute; work your head off; do things; use up your life; dream up new programs; work like a dog; change the nature of the world in which we live; give people a chance to join; and, put your life and fortune on the line. After doing all of that, you will have a new, changed life for having joined NFB.
Nothing we do is important if we don’t build the National Federation of the Blind. Every blind person needs to be approached as if he or she needs NFB and we, as members, can do that. We need to reach out and share ideas in many different ways.
The national office has a wide selection of literature that should be used locally to promote our organization. While growing our organization, we need to be broad-based to cover the wide generational and cultural differences that exist. We can use videos and Skype to share ideas, as well as less technical methods such as Newsline and literature. Newsline is free, easy to use and can be used as a tool to promote chapters.
We should always make sure to stay in touch with members and potential members. When youths from our state participate in Youth Slam or other national programs, keep in contact with them—don’t let the connection die after the event.
Meet the Blind Month is the time to showcase NFB. Be visible in the community and change the image the public has of the blind. There is so much information on the NFB website to assist with our events such as Meet the Blind month, and it’s all there to be used by chapters and affiliates.
When you get people to meetings, how do you retain them and get them to join? Events and activities need to be fun and energetic. Meetings need to be informative, as well as energetic and exciting, or people are not going to attend.
If you’re not growing, you’re dying, and Connecticut has the great opportunity to grow by inviting the Hispanic blind community to join us. Connecticut has a large and growing Hispanic population, especially in the large cities, and NFB could be growing the Hispanic membership with more outreach. Parents of blind children in the Hispanic community are especially important to reach. Finding one contact who will learn NFB philosophy and be an ambassador will help us reach many blind children and parents, as well as blind adults, in the Hispanic community.
We need to offer a welcoming atmosphere and find a good way to communicate with Spanish-speaking members. There are different ways to reach out to Spanish-speaking members and to conduct bilingual meetings. The Puerto Rico affiliate has much literature in Spanish and is happy to assist and share information with us.
There was so much information shared at the Membership Committee meeting. I’ve only touched on a few practical ideas we can use in Connecticut, but I believe if we promote NFB in all we do and stay visible in the community, we will grow and strengthen our chapters and affiliate.
Joe Ruffalo, of New Jersey, hands out M&Ms at his chapter meetings. The candies represent Members and Money. Without members and money, the organization on any level cannot succeed. Let’s work on finding and retaining members so Connecticut will be an M&M affiliate.
By Al Daniels
(Editors’ note: Al Daniels was the winner of the 2013 Connecticut affiliate writing contest. Here is Al’s winning essay on "What is a Significant Contribution the Blind Community has Made for America?")
The contributions of the blind community for America are many. There are blind people in all sorts of occupations. I am a person involved with the “creative arts” and therefore I think of music, a field I am most familiar with. As there are many well-known musicians in the popular category, so with blind musicians. We may mention names like George Shearing, Ronnie Milsap, Stevie Wonder and of course Ray Charles. They have written and performed music to entertain thousands, if not millions of fans. Some blues singers we may not be too cognizant of are Blind Blake, Blind Lemon Jefferson, and the inspirational Reverend Gary Davis. In fact, Gary Davis wrote the gospel tune, “Twelve Gates to the City,” for which when sung by the folk group Peter, Paul and Mary, the royalties were able to provide a home for Gary Davis and his wife.
A somewhat more obscure figure who acquired a following was Moon Dog, a native and street dweller of New York City. A person who was quite renowned was Rassan Roland Kirk, who played and wrote jazz music, as well as accomplishing the amazing feat of playing two wind instruments at the same time. He also could play a strain of music while practicing circular breathing, without “stopping to take a breath.”
Fanny Crosby lived during most of the nineteenth century and into the beginning of the twentieth century. Her Christian hymns include, “Blessed Assurance,” “Love Lifted Me,” “All the Way, My Savior Leads Me,” and the ever-popular “Rescue the Perishing.” Her hymns and poems number in the hundreds and, incidentally, she did not know Braille. Her mind was so sharp that she composed in her head and disseminated her work through an amanuensis!
There are blind musicians that I know of who have received no fame or renown, but that is not what this is about. If a person can make music, be it by composition or performance, not to mention pedagogy, a life’s work can be accomplished. This holds true for blind and sighted alike. It is not just the doing but the content and how it impacts our culture. I am sorry I cannot name all the blind musicians doing good work today. Music is only a small portion of the contribution for America. The blind community is involved in many walks of life and we must keep in mind these words, “Ask not what your country can do, but what you can do for your country.” I remember the mandate as delivered by John F. Kennedy. May he rest in peace.
My Birthday Surprise
By Barbara Blejewski
Last November, I celebrated another birthday; but, when I opened my present from my friend Janice, an onlooker would guess I was a child all over again. “Wow! Look at this.” There’s Braille on the handles of the measuring cups and measuring spoons. As with regular measuring spoons and measuring cups, which indicate the amount of each measuring cup or spoon in print, these measuring spoons and measuring cups depict the amounts with Braille so people who are blind have equal accessibility to these basic cooking tools.
The Braille Superstore has a variety of Braille devices ranging from house wares, to timepieces, to children’s games and toys. You can contact the store at: http://www.braillebookstore.com or telephone them at 800 987-1231. The Braille Superstore is located in Abbotsford, British Columbia, Canada. Shop to your heart’s content.
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.carshelping theblind.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!
Washington Seminar 2014
By Edward Shaham
(Editors’ note: Edward is Connecticut’s Legislative Committee chairperson. This is what Edward had to tell us about the 2014 Washington Seminar.)
After checking in the hotel for the 2014 Washington Seminar, I decided to get a bite to eat in the hotel bar downstairs. I sat with a group of eager Federationists. After listening to them discuss various topics of the seminar, I asked if there were any first-timers. There was only one at the table, and I was surprised to find that the average Federationist had been to the Washington Seminar several times.
Since most of the Gathering In Day is not scheduled, I decided to take the tour of the National Center in Baltimore the next morning. I had taken the tour last year, the first year I attended the seminar, and was very impressed. Also during that first day, while I was on the tour, there were seminars at the hotel pertaining to the issues being presented at this Washington Seminar.
Along with a bus full of other Federationists, I arrived the next morning at the National Center in Baltimore. Our tour was led by Patricia Maurer who spoke about the 20 million dollar renovation to the building and the beautiful marble entrance way. Knowing the value and beauty of marble, I was impressed by Mrs. Maurer’s description. The tour took us around the building, and various members of the staff spoke on the history of the National Federation of the Blind. After the tour, we headed back to the hotel.
I was lucky enough to get a seat in the conference room for the 5:00 p.m. Great Gathering In. The gathering in consisted of various Federation representatives from the national office who spoke on the topics we were to present to our elected officials in the next days. Each year NFB chooses issues for Federationists to present to Congress. Federationist leaders presented the issues in detail to us. This year’s issues were: Fair Wages for Workers with Disabilities, HR831; Technology, Education and Accessibility in College and Higher Education (TEACH); and The Air Carrier Technology Accessibility Act (ACTA). The Fair Wages for Workers with Disabilities and TEACH are issues we worked on last year and will continue to work on this year. I was inspired by the excitement of the attendees and how passionate everyone was regarding the three issues. (You can find up-to-date information regarding the issues on the NFB.org website.)
The following day we ascended on Capital Hill to meet with our representatives. It was then that I realized how my voice can really make a difference. I always saw myself as a passive spectator to government; however, this changed when I met with my senators and representatives. It’s hard to describe the transition from passive to active, but it was a memorable experience that changed how I viewed my responsibility as an American. Everyone I met with on Capital Hill seemed interested in our issues. I paid careful attention to the questions they asked. The questions were well thought out and showed the high level of engagement between our elected officials and NFB.
That evening we had our second gathering in. We discussed the day’s activities and whether our elected officials were receptive to our issues. This time also was used to compare notes with fellow-Federationists from other states. If questions came up during meetings on the Hill, they would be shared with everyone at the gathering in, so no one else would be caught off guard.
Not having met with every one of our representatives on our first day of meetings, another day of meetings followed. When we finished on Wednesday, most of the Connecticut delegation left for home. I was fortunate to be able to stay until Thursday, and I was able to attend the final gathering in meeting and reflect on our successful meetings with our national representatives.
My Experience at the Louisiana Center
By Kimberly Tindall
Perhaps there isn't a more disorienting experience than losing your vision. The world is turned upside down. Things that were once effortless become horrendously complex, any thought of independence taken for granted is left shattered on the floor, the previous existence is another life.
The problem is that it isn't one or two things that need to be relearned, it’s everything. Going to the fridge to get a glass of milk used to be something I could do half asleep; after I lost my vision it became a multi-step process. Any error meant I was standing lost in a house I'd lived in for years.
I felt like my possibilities had gotten very narrow, everything I wanted to do came up against my no longer being able to see. Is this what the rest of my life is going to be like, I wondered? When I lost my vision, I began to hear of blind people who were managing fine. At the time, imagining that I could be one of those people struck me as almost beyond belief.
I've never been a person who gave up easy. When the loss had settled on me so that opening my eyes in the morning was no longer devastating, I realized what I needed was training in how to be blind. If there were independent blind people, I knew I could be one of those people. I wanted to be a productive member of society again; before I lost my vision I'd worked my entire life. I didn't want to be one of those people who sat around feeling sorry for herself.
I went on the Internet looking for the best training centers for the blind. The program that stood out to me was a comprehensive training program at the Louisiana Center for the Blind (LCB) that lasted for nine months. I signed up because I knew I needed to learn a lot of new skills in a hurry!
And with a lot of hard work along with great teachers, I did. The classes included learning to shop by ourselves, read Braille, wood shop, how to use a washing machine and drier, how to travel safely using a cane, how to ask for help if I became lost traveling, how to cook, adaptive computer skills including how to use a screen reader and public speaking. Also for the women in the group we were shown how to apply makeup again.
The reason the program was valuable was that it prepared me for the rest of my life as a blind person. The LCB program didn't minimize the future challenges I'd be facing. We were expected to cook our own meals, wash our own clothes, and walk from our apartments to the LCB headquarters every morning for class.
When a person is confronted with low expectations, it’s all too easy for her to lower herself to those expectations. However, when a person is expected and encouraged to succeed, she's inspired to work hard.
My instructors told me that being blind wasn't the end of my life, instead it was a new beginning.
It’s hard to say all that the LCB program did for me. I learned to read again. I relearned to cook my own meals. After we'd gotten familiar with the basics, we were challenged to cook a meal for forty people. I made chicken spaghetti, Texas Toast, with a Caesar salad as a starter, a lemon pound cake for desert, and sweetened and unsweetened ice tea to drink.
It wasn’t only life skills we spent time on. There was a long list of recreational activities the average recently blinded person assumes are far beyond her. While I was at the program we went rock climbing, white water rafting, horseback riding, zip lining, and Mardi Gras. All these activities build up a strengthening sense that the world is not too complex for a blind person to deal with. If you can survive on white water rapids you can survive the checkout at Stop & Shop. Until I went to the LCB I'd never used a cane. Now I can't imagine traveling without one.
The biggest thing the LCB program did for me was even more important than the skills I learned, there was the confidence I came away with once I'd graduated.
The LCB made me really believe that I had the skills it takes to live fully and independently back in the real world. When I graduated I felt like I was starting the first day of the rest of my life. I’d rediscovered how to be independent, but more importantly I felt like I could be independent.
The LCB program isn't truly finished on graduation day. The instructors running the program pay attention to the students they have graduated and are always ready to provide advice, aid and encouragement to us. Knowing I have that support if I need it means a lot to me.
On graduation day every blind student is given a small metal bell that says “together we are changing what it means to be blind”. I like that, because a big problem in the world are people’s wrong expectations of what blind people can and cannot do. I like that statement on the bell also because I know I’m not the only person fighting for my independence, it makes me feel like I’m part of a movement.
If anyone has recently lost his or her vision, knows they need training, and is feeling worried and overwhelmed, I think they should call the LCB and ask about the training program that lasts for nine months. I learned so much about how to be blind but more importantly I feel like I rediscovered myself.
On that note I’d like to personally thank BESB and my case worker Jeannette Rodriquez, Beth Rival, and Mrs. Pam Allen.
Microsoft GW Micro Partnership
(Editors’ note: The following press release provides valuable information for those who may want to use Window-Eyes at no cost.)
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Fort Wayne, Indiana (January 14, 2014) - GW Micro, Inc.
(www.gwmicro.com) is proud to make a revolutionary announcement. GW Micro and Microsoft Corp. have partnered to make Window-Eyes available to users of Microsoft Office at no cost. Window-Eyes is a screen reader that enables people who are blind, visually impaired, or print disabled to have full access to Windows PCs and makes the computer accessible via speech and/or Braille.
To better deliver Window-Eyes to the people who need it most, GW Micro and Microsoft have collaborated on this global initiative, available in over 15 languages, to enable anyone using Microsoft Office 2010 or later to also use Window-Eyes for free. Access to technology is critical to people who are blind or visually impaired in order to have the same opportunity to compete in the workplace. As such, this initiative between GW Micro and Microsoft has the potential to reduce barriers for millions of people who are blind or visually impaired around the world.
As the population ages, technologies like Window-Eyes will become more and more important as the number of people with age-related macular degeneration and other retinal degenerative diseases increases. "This significant change in the way we are doing business reflects the changing perception of accessibility and also technology in general. Rather than wait for the world to change, Microsoft and GW Micro are leading the way," said Dan Weirich, Vice President of Sales and Marketing for GW Micro. Weirich believes this technology can help millions of people gain access to their PC, and that providing it free of charge will open a whole new world of assistive technology to many people.
In light of the rapidly changing face of technology and specifically, the changing face of assistive technology, the combined efforts of GW Micro and Microsoft have the goal of providing accessibility to people who are blind and visually impaired for the long term.
Microsoft continues to take accessibility seriously. "By partnering with GW Micro in this endeavor we are demonstrating Microsoft's on-going commitment to provide all of our customers with the technology and tools to help each person be productive in both their work and personal lives." Said Rob Sinclair, Chief Accessibility Officer for Microsoft.
In this issue we have three delicious recipes that are easy to make and will be enjoyed by everyone. The Six Can Chicken Tortilla Soup can be made by everyone and, with some creativity, you can make it your own special creation. Some variations are to substitute one can of the chicken broth with one can of cream of chicken soup, add spices and seasonings you like, such as garlic or chili powder, cumin to taste, use leftover chicken instead of the canned chicken and top the soup when served with sour cream, cheddar cheese, cilantro, scallions, tortilla chips, or any toppings you would use for tacos. The Strawberry Pretzel Salad may seem complicated at first, but if you break it down into steps, you’ll see that it is really quite easy to make. Finally, if you need a quick and easy cake to bring to a function or a party, try the Chocolate-Cherry Cake.
Six Can Chicken Tortilla Soup
1 15-ounce can whole kernel corn, drained
2 14.5-ounce cans chicken broth
1 10-ounce can chunk chicken
1 15-ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 10-can diced tomatoes with green chili peppers (such as Rotel brand), drained if desired
Combine all ingredients in large sauce pan or stock pot. Simmer over medium heat until chicken is heated through.
Serve over tortilla chips and top with shredded cheddar cheese.
Strawberry Pretzel Salad
2 cups crushed pretzels (crushed medium to fine)
¾ cup butter, melted
3 tablespoons white sugar
1 8-ounce package cream cheese, softened
1 cup white sugar
1 8-ounce container frozen whipped topping, thawed
2 3-ounce packages strawberry flavored Jell-O
2 cups boiling water
2 10-ounce packages frozen strawberries
Preheat over to 400 degrees F
Stir together crushed pretzels, melted butter and 3 tablespoons sugar, mix well and press mixture into the bottom of a 9 by 13 inch baking dish.
Bake 8 to 10 minutes, until set. Set aside to cool.
In a large mixing bowl, cream together cream cheese and 1 cup sugar.
Fold in whipped topping. Spread mixture into cooled crust, making sure to cover entire crust to the edges.
Dissolve gelatin in boiling water. Stir in still frozen strawberries and allow to set briefly. When mixture is about the consistency of egg whites, pour and spread over cream cheese layer.
Refrigerate until set. Enjoy as a picnic side dish or a great dessert.
1 pkg. chocolate cake mix
1 can cherry pie filling
In a large mixing bowl, beat eggs slightly, then add cake mix and cherry pie filling. Mix all ingredients well with a fork.
Pour into greased 9 by 13 inch cake pan and bake at 350 degrees for 35-40 minutes. Cool thoroughly and frost with canned chocolate frosting. Enjoy with a glass of cold milk!
SAVE THE DATES!!!
National Federation of the Blind of CT
Annual State Convention
Friday evening, November 7, 2014
Saturday, November 8, 2014
Sunday morning, November 9, 2014
Four Points by Sheraton in Meriden
PLAN TO ATTEND!!!!
2013 Connecticut Resolution
(Editors’ note: There was one resolution presented and passed at the 2013 Connecticut State Convention of the National Federation of the Blind.)
Regarding President Emeritus
WHEREAS, the National Federation of the Blind sets high expectations for the organization and by doing so sets high expectations for its leaders; and
WHEREAS, affiliate presidents cannot be afraid to set high expectations for state leaders; and
WHEREAS, affiliate presidents must be good communicators, teachers, and model Federationists, and encourage members to read, study and digest Federation literature; and
WHEREAS, part of being a good communicator and teacher is being a good listener; and
WHEREAS, a good affiliate president understands organizational policy and encourages members to speak their minds in the name of democracy: Now, therefore,
BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind of Connecticut in Convention assembled this third day of November, 2013, in the City of Meriden, Connecticut, that this organization thank Betty Woodward for her positive and stalwart leadership during her years as president of the Connecticut affiliate of the National Federation of the Blind and for leading the members in ways consistent with standards set forth by the national leadership of the National Federation of the Blind; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization bestow on Betty Woodward the title of President Emeritus of the National Federation of the Blind of Connecticut.
CHAPTER MEETING INFORMATION
NATIONAL FEDERATION OF THE BLIND OF CT
Central CT Chapter Danbury Area Chapter
Gary Allen, President Chris Kuell, President
Plainville Library Olive Garden
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
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
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
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
Call in information: 760-569-9000; access code: 433706#
NOTE: caller is responsible for any long distance charges incurred.
Would you like to receive newspaper, magazine, TV listings, job listings information on-demand?
How about emergency weather alerts?
We think that NFB-NEWSLINE is the answer for you!
Or, perhaps you subscribed to NFB-NEWSLINE in the past and have never really tried to use the service?
For those of you who haven’t heard about NFB-NEWSLINE, it is an on-demand service for those who cannot read printed information for whatever reason. The service provides audio access to printed news matter to subscribers, available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Over the years, our NFB-NEWSLINE team in Baltimore has upgraded and expanded our service with new and exciting features and options. Subscribers can now choose from over 300 newspapers, 40 magazines, TV listings, job listings, advertisements and much more. Publications are available over the phone, through email, through an iPhone app, and for download to a variety of devices, including the National Library Service digital talking book player. In the past year or so, two new and exciting options have been added: (1) weather information, including emergency weather alerts; and (2) Breaking News which includes BBC, CNN, NPR, the Huffington Post and, most recently, The Verge. With all these exciting choices, NFB-NEWSLINE has truly become a service that’s hard to live without!
If you are not an NFB-NEWSLINE subscriber, complete the form on the next page and send it to our community outreach office.
National Federation of the Blind of Connecticut
477 Connecticut Blvd, Ste 217
East Hartford, Connecticut 06108
City___________________________ State_____ Zip_________
Home Phone ( )____________Work Phone ( )____________
E-Mail Address ________________________________________
I am registered with a state or private rehabilitation agency for the blind. __Yes __No. If yes, please specify________________
I am enrolled in a public school special education program for the blind or state residential school for the blind.
__Yes __ No. If yes, please specify________________________
I am registered with a cooperating regional library under the program of the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, Library of Congress.
__Yes __ No. If yes, please specify_______________________
If you answered no to all the above questions, you must include with this application a letter from one of the following which certifies that you are blind, visually impaired or unable to read newsprint due to a disability.
__Your doctor; __Social Security Award Letter;
__President of a local chapter or state affiliate of the NFB
__Teacher of the visually impaired/O&M Instructor
I would like to receive information in __ large print, __ Braille,
__ CD or __ by e-mail.
I certify that I am blind or visually impaired and unable to read a printed newspaper.
PLEASE RETURN THE COMPLETED FORM TO THE ABOVE ADDRESS