Braille Monitor                                                    May 2009

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News from the Federation Family

Resolutions for Convention:

Here is a message from Sharon Maneki, who chairs the NFB resolutions committee:

Do you think we should change a government policy, take a stand concerning an agency for the blind, or create new regulations? If you do, consider writing a resolution. At the 2009 national convention the resolutions committee meeting will be held on Saturday, July 4. The committee will debate and discuss resolutions on a wide variety of subjects. If passed by the Convention, these resolutions will become the policy statements of the organization.

To ensure that your resolution will be considered by the committee, please send it to President Maurer or to me by June 18, two weeks before the committee meeting. If you miss this deadline, you must get three members of the committee to sponsor your resolution and then get it to the chairman before the meeting begins. I will be pleased to accept resolutions by email, <nfbmd@earthlink.net>; fax, (410) 715-9597; or snail mail, 9013 Nelson Way, Columbia, Maryland 21045.

The Y Is Silent, But the Seay Is Not:

Michael Seay, November 18, 1956 to March 7, 2009On Thursday, March 5, the news began spreading across the Federation family that NFB of Tennessee President Michael Seay had fallen down his stairs and been gravely injured. Gradually we learned that a heart attack had caused the fall and that, although he was on life support, the chances of his survival were poor. So the report of his death two days later was not a surprise, but it was a shock to everyone who had known Michael. The preceding weekend the affiliate presidents had been together at the National Center for intensive leadership training, and Michael was apparently the life of the party. When the announcement was made on the affiliate presidents listserv, the expressions of grief and loss were immediate and general. I asked Anil Lewis, president of the NFB of Georgia and a member of the NFB board of directors, to write a tribute to Michael. Here it is:

My first memory of Michael Seay was at an NFB national convention during the roll call of states. I recall a big, booming voice over the microphone, “Dr. Maurer, I bring you greetings from the great state of Tennessee!” His voice seemed to fill the hall. I thought he must be over six feet tall. I met him later during the week and was surprised to find that he was only a few inches over five feet. Although the big, booming voice did not match his body, I quickly realized that it definitely matched his heart. Mike was quick to engage me in conversation, asking questions rather than making statements. He seemed genuinely interested in getting to know me, and I came to know him as a truly friendly, caring, compassionate person, full of humor and love. He was like this with everyone he met.

Mike had worked for the Social Security Administration for many years but had recently left to pursue a new career. Ron Brown, president of the NFB of Indiana, had convinced him to attend Louisiana Tech University to earn a master’s degree in orientation and mobility. Mike seemed extremely happy as he worked to obtain this degree. He commented that he was challenged by the program but very pleased that he had made the decision. I was truly excited because from personal experience I knew that he would have a tremendously positive impact on the lives of the blind people with whom he would come in contact.

In addition to classes at Louisiana Tech, Mike participated in the immersion program at the Louisiana Center for the Blind, where Kathy Davis, president of the NFB of Florida, came to be a student to work on improving her alternative blindness skills and I followed sometime after to become a more competent blind person. By the time I arrived, Mike had charmed the staff and entire student body. Never one to be shy, he was involved in many of the student activities. Moreover, he was active in the lives of many of the students. As always, he took the time to listen and advise, to engage and entertain, to care and to love. Because of his full, bold, unique voice and constantly upbeat style, everyone knew when he entered the room and was glad of it.

In February of this year Michael Seay, Pam Allen, Kathy Davis, and I were on our way to the NFB national office in Baltimore for the affiliate presidents seminar. We had recently returned from attending Mardi Gras in New Orleans with LCB students and staff. Our conversation was fun and free flowing. Although I had known Michael Seay for many years, I realized that I did not know how to spell his last name. So I asked him. He replied, “S-E-A-Y; the Y is silent.”

I repeated, “The Y is silent,” and then added, “but the Seay is not.” Michael, never known to be the silent one, reflected on what I had just said and laughed in the unique way that made you feel really good inside. The phrase continued to be our mantra for the rest of the weekend.

I was in South Bend on Friday, March 6, on the campus of Notre Dame University when I heard the news. A few members of the NFB board of directors had just attended a Louis Braille symposium, at which President Maurer had offered an excellent keynote presentation. We were winding down at the end of a long day in the lounge of the Mission Inn on campus. Dr. Maurer called me over to tell me that Pam Allen had just gotten a phone call saying that Michael Seay had had an accident and a heart attack and was in the hospital on life support. The next morning, as I was on my way to the airport, Pam called to tell me Michael had passed away. It was extremely comforting that Mike and I had recently had so many opportunities to spend quality time together--Mardi Gras, the presidents seminar, and the casual conversations at LCB. I reflected on each of these recent, and some not so recent, interactions with him, and I was comforted by my wonderful memories.

The outpouring of love and affection expressed on the NFB affiliate presidents listserv, the many telephone calls of sadness and regret, and my many personal conversations with those whom Mike had known validate his existence and worth. He truly had purpose and stood for something greater than himself. His compassion and caring, his love of life, and his love for others are an example to us all.

I count myself blessed to have known him. My prayers are with his daughter, Michael Joye Seay, and the rest of his family. His presence will be sorely missed, but his legacy lives on. The influence he has had on me and many others lives on after him. His big, booming voice still rings in my heart and the hearts of so many of our Federation family that it will never be silenced. The Y is silent, but the Seay is not.

Useful Detroit Bus Information:

You will spend about twenty-five minutes and $40 traveling by taxi from the airport to the Detroit Marriott. If the $1.50 price of a bus ticket seems more attractive, here is information you will find helpful. Current city route descriptions and schedules are available on the Smart Bus Website, <www.smartbus.org>, or by calling customer information toll-free at (866) 962-5515, press 2 for customer information. They can also take orders for regular print, Braille, large print, or audio bus schedules. Audio schedules are available on CD or cassette.

The 125 bus route between our convention hotel and the airport, Fort Street to Eureka Road, follows:

Operates Monday through Sunday. Metro Airport-North Terminal and McNamara Terminal. Between Downtown Detroit and Metro Airport by Fort Street, West End, Jefferson, Outer Drive, Fort Street again, Eureka Road, Racho Road, Pardee Road, Eureka Road, Middlebelt Road, Goddard Road, and Rogell Drive—the access road to the airport. Hours of operation are 5:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. Monday through Friday, 6:30 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. on Saturday, and 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. on Sunday. Total trip time from the airport to one block north of the Renaissance Center in downtown Detroit is between seventy-five and eighty-five minutes, depending on traffic conditions.

You have several options for walking from the bus stop to the Renaissance Center. 1) Exit the bus at Fort and Cass and take the Downtown PeopleMover to the Renaissance Center Station. 2) Exit the bus on the far side of Randolph, walk south a half block on Randolph to a building entrance of the Millender Center, go to the second floor, and take the enclosed walkway to the Renaissance Center.

3) Exit the bus on the far side of Brush Street and walk one block south on Brush to Jefferson. Jefferson is divided, and it is impossible to cross both the eastbound and westbound lanes in one light cycle. Once on the south side of Jefferson, continue straight up the steps to the Renaissance Center main entrance. More adventurous travelers can turn right before entering the building and follow the 100 Tower around to the hotel entrance located on the west side of the building. It’s a half block west, then a half block south from the main Renaissance Center entrance to the main hotel and valet entrance.

Michael Patten provided this information. He is the ADA coordinator and travel trainer at SMART Travel, Suburban Mobility Authority for Regional Transportation, 535 Griswold Street, #600, Detroit, Michigan 48226; (313) 223-2304 desk, <mpatten@smartbus.org>.

Please note that bus transportation within the city, which includes getting from the bus station or train station to the Detroit Marriott, is operated by the Detroit Department of Transportation (D-DOT), not SMART. Route and schedule information for D-DOT is available from (888) 336-8287.

Convention Hotel Cash Credit Policy:

Every year some people attending the national convention do not have a credit card to present to the hotel at check-in and want to pay cash or use debit cards linked to their bank accounts. If you are paying in actual currency, the hotel will want enough cash up front at check-in to cover your room and tax charges for the entire stay, plus a one-time $50 advance deposit for incidentals to cover meals, telephone calls, Internet charges, and other things you may charge to your room. The unused portion of the incidentals deposit will be returned. Unused cash deposits for incidentals are returned at checkout, and unused check deposits are returned by mail after your departure. Understand, however, that, if your incidentals charges exceed the $50 deposit credited, you will be responsible for payment of the full balance at checkout.

If you are using plastic, it is much better to use a credit card rather than a debit card when checking into the hotel, and we encourage you to do so. If you must use your debit card, however, remember that the hotel will put a hold on money in your checking account to cover the estimated potential balance of your stay at the Marriott for the entire room and tax charges for your stay plus the one-time $50 incidental deposit. You should be aware that the hold can therefore be a considerable sum and that you will not have access to that amount for other purchases or payments.

Holds can remain in effect for three to five days or even a week after you check out. If you have preauthorized payments from your bank account or you try to make a purchase with your debit card and it's refused, the hold from the hotel can cause you trouble or result in overdraft fees for purchases you thought you had money in your account to cover. Hotels also put holds on credit cards, by the way, but those are not often a problem unless they exceed your card’s credit limit.

This means that, if you use a debit card, you’d better be certain you have a high enough balance in your checking account when you come to convention to cover any debit card holds. (Some travelers even open a separate checking account used only for debits.) Remember, a hold will be placed on your debit card, regardless of the way you end up paying the bill, and the hold is not necessarily released right away, even if you pay with a credit card or cash when you check out of the hotel.

Attention Writers:

Robert Leslie Newman, president of the NFB Writers Division, reports that during national convention the Writers Division is hosting two events. The first is a workshop on Friday, July 3, from 1:00 until 3:00 p.m. with Lev Raphael, a Michigan author of fiction and nonfiction (Nick Hoffman mysteries and My Germany, a new book about his parents, who were Holocaust survivors). This event is open to everyone for a charge of $5 at the door. The Writers Division annual meeting is Sunday, July 5, from 1:00 to 4:00 p.m. If you are at all interested in the world of writing, please come join us.

Time to Prepare for the Braille Book Flea Market:

If you have gently used Braille Children's books that are no longer being used, the 2009 Braille Book Flea Market would love to find them a new home. At our 2009 national convention in Detroit, the Braille Book Flea Market will once again provide many young readers with Braille books to love and cherish at no cost to the children, so we need your children's books.

Please send your Braille books by U.S. mail to UPS, 29855 Schoolcraft, Livonia, Michigan 48150. Attention NFB―Hold for Book Fair. Books can be mailed using the Free Matter for the Blind privilege. If you have any questions, contact Peggy Chong at (515) 277-1288 or at <peggychong@earthlink.net>.

In Brief

Notices and information in this section may be of interest to Monitor readers. We are not responsible for the accuracy of the information; we have edited only for space and clarity.

Online Course Available:

Julie Goldbeck wants other Federationists to know that she is teaching a course called Introduction to Children’s Literature for ten clock hours. This is a self-paced course you can complete in the convenience of your own home or place of work. It is intended for educators. All that is required is Internet access. The course will cover all areas of children’s literature including special events in children’s literature, U.S. and international children’s literature awards, authors, illustrators, children’s book publishers, picture books, chapter books, middle grade, young adult, etc. To register, you can email the instructor, and she will email you the course materials. The course is offered through the instructor, Julie Goldbeck, MIT, <goldbeckjm@comcast.net>.

Special Week Vacation in Cancun:

American Star Travel offers blind and visually impaired people seven luxurious nights at the Oasis Cancun Hotel in Mexico from September 5 to September 12, 2009. The group will have private check-in at arrival and special tour orientation. Guide dogs are welcome.

The resort has something for everyone with up to twelve restaurants, large relaxation areas, one of the biggest swimming pools in Latin America, and tropical gardens. In addition to restaurants, it has eight bars, a nine-hole (par three) golf course, quay for nonmotorized sports, two tennis courts, multipurpose field, spa, and gymnasium. In addition Wi-Fi is available in both guest rooms and main areas.

Our all-inclusive plan rate includes room accommodations; unlimited food and drink (domestic and imported liquor); house wine; all resort fitness and recreation facilities (spa services not included); all resort activities and entertainment; nonmotorized water sports available at our marina, located lagoon-side; green fees at nine-hole golf course; private beach section; twenty-four-hour room service; Club Up and Down Dance Club; and taxes and gratuities. Not included are in-room safes, motorized water sports, night tennis and basketball, babysitting, massage and beauty services, telephone and fax charges, Internet access, laundry and dry cleaning, and outside tours and excursions.

The Oasis Cancun Hotel is located in the center of Cancun’s hotel zone, above a magnificent white sandy beach, very close to shopping centers, bars, and restaurants, only twenty-five minutes from the airport, and twenty minutes from Cancun’s downtown. Depending on the number in our group, American Star Travel will host a cocktail party on the first day to welcome and introduce group members to each other.

For more information or to book for this one-week adventure, call American Star Travel at (508) 815-4327. Fares for standard rooms start at $459, taxes included. Airline bookings are not included. All room rates are per person, based on double occupancy; triples are by request only. American Star Travel will arrange any special assistance needed in airport transfers and on your flights. You can arrange to stay as few as five nights or more than seven. To guarantee this fare, you must book not later than May 15, 2009. The earlier you book, the better airline fare you will get. For more information visit <www.cancun09.com>. Remember, since 2007 all American citizens must have a valid passport in order to reenter the country by air.

Monitor Mart

The notices in this section have been edited for clarity, but we can pass along only the information we were given. We are not responsible for the accuracy of the statements made or the quality of the products for sale.

Braille Bible Available:

Braille King James translation of the Bible needs a new home. Complete edition in very good condition (eighteen volumes). Free to anyone who wants or needs it. Call Matt Lyles at (870) 837-2155 or email <Lyles_J@sbcglobal.net>.

NFB Pledge

I pledge to participate actively in the efforts of the National Federation of the Blind to achieve equality, opportunity, and security for the blind; to support the policies and programs of the Federation; and to abide by its constitution.

 

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