News from the Federation Family
Gary Wunder, NFB secretary and president of our Missouri affiliate, reports the following news:
It is with deep sadness that I report the death of our friend and colleague Ed Bryant. He died on Saturday, December 5, after suffering a stroke. Ed's leadership in diabetes and blindness was unparalleled, beginning with the creation of the Voice of the Diabetic in 1986. He served as a member of the division board, as vice president, and for several terms as president of the Diabetes Action Network, which he spoke of with pride at every opportunity. The thousands of calls and letters of hope he instigated and answered all had one message: you can live a quality life as a blind diabetic, and we are here to tell you how it can be done. The high school basketball star who became a professional photographer could have quit when diabetes took his sight and his health, but instead he decided to give of himself and his experience, and for his gift we are all the richer. We extend our sympathy to his wife Gail.
Our Pennsylvania affiliate reports the following election results from its November 2009 convention: Jim Antonacci, president; Lynn Heitz, first vice president; Chuck Morgenstern, second vice president; Harriet Go, secretary; Connie Johnson, treasurer; and Alyssa Bates, James Baxter, Denice Brown, and Carlton Walker, board members.
During its October 16, 2009, meeting, the Cleveland chapter of the NFB of Ohio conducted elections with the following results: president, William Turner; vice president, Joanne Williams; recording secretary, Anita Psomas; corresponding secretary, Annie Dixon; treasurer, Paula King; sergeant at arms, Henry Butler; and board members Cheryl Fields and Effie Scott.
The NFB of Alaska reports the following election results from its recent state convention: president, Bill Packee; first vice president, Al Waldron; second vice president, Steve Priddle; treasurer, John Hebert; secretary, Fay Macamura; and board members Dan Bigley and Brian Blair.
2010 NFB Leadership and Advocacy in Washington, D.C., (LAW) Program:
The National Federation of the Blind announces the availability of the 2010 Leadership and Advocacy in Washington, D.C., (LAW) Program for students in grades six to nine or ages twelve to sixteen. This four-day experience (April 16 to 20, 2010) will provide blind and vision-impaired students with a unique opportunity to explore the inner workings of our country's government, history, and culture while staying at NFB national headquarters in Baltimore, Maryland. Participants will learn about advocacy work for blind people and available resources for blind students and adults in addition to learning about participating in grassroots legislative efforts and the way blindness-related legislation is developed and advanced through Congress. Highlights of the program will include visits to historical sites in Washington, D.C.; meetings with and presentations from influential government leaders; presentations from national leaders of the NFB; and tours of the NFB headquarters, including the International Braille and Technology Center for the Blind.
All accepted students will pay a one-time $250 fee to participate in the program. Other expenses, including transportation and room and board, will be provided. Students must be accompanied by a parent or guardian, teacher, or blind or vision-impaired mentor from their home state. No more than twenty-five students will be admitted to this competitive program. Applications for the LAW Program are due by February 1, 2010. To learn more about this exciting new program or to apply online, visit <http://www.nfb.org/lawprogram> or contact Mary Jo T. Hartle, director of education at the NFB Jernigan Institute, at (410) 659-9314, ext. 2407; <[email protected]>.
Town Honors Residents at Make a Difference Ceremony:
Longtime Federationist David Stayer was honored on November 10, 2009, at a ceremony in his hometown for his years of community service. The following is an excerpt from the citation read on this occasion:
Tonight we pay homage to men and women who have touched the lives of so many in our township. These individuals have never looked for recognition or rewards for their hard work and dedication. They simply enjoy the satisfaction that comes from helping others. Tonight we honor them and offer our thanks for all that they have done to improve the lives of others and to make our communities better places in which to live.
The honorees have all dedicated themselves to enriching the lives of others. Hundreds of nominations were received for the prestigious award. Those selected have quietly carried out acts of selfless generosity for many years.
Despite being blind since birth, David Stayer of Merrick has seen the way to be a true difference-maker for many years. Loss of sight has never proven a disability to our honoree, who remains a positive thinker with a powerful personality and a clear vision for helping others. David was the first disabled professional ever hired by Nassau County. For thirty-seven years he was a model public servant, impacting countless lives as a social worker at the Nassau University Medical Center. He has been a dedicated and emulated member of many local organizations, including the National Federation of the Blind Human Services Division, the Long Island Chapter of the National Federation of the Blind, the New York State Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers, the Friends of the Merrick Library, and Young Israel of Merrick. Not only has David become a role model for other blind persons, but he has become an ambassador for those without sight. He has initiated a program with school-aged children to accentuate the abilities of blind people. David is also involved with the campaign to introduce accessible voting machines in the County of Nassau. David's beautiful and distinctive voice has regaled admirers at his synagogue and in concerts with the Freeport Chorale.
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.
Volunteer Braille Transcribers Needed:
The Iowa regional library for the blind, affiliated with the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS) and housed in the Iowa Department for the Blind, is seeking volunteers to be trained as Braille transcribers. These volunteers will transcribe print materials into Braille using a Braille transcription program on a computer. Braille transcribers involved with this program will produce critical job-related and educational materials for blind and vision-impaired Iowans. Volunteer candidates must be dependable, detail-oriented, willing to accept varied assignments and constructive advice, and able to make a long-term commitment. All volunteer Braille transcribers are required to complete an NLS-sponsored Braille transcription correspondence course. The average training time to complete the entire Braille transcription training is one year. The Iowa regional library will provide all equipment and supplies for volunteers, but volunteers can use their own computers for the correspondence course, if desired. Braille transcription volunteers will enjoy the benefits of learning the Braille code, working independently on important projects, gaining knowledge through exposure to a variety of ideas and disciplines, and realizing personal satisfaction from supporting people who cannot use print. For further information about this volunteer opportunity, contact Roxanne Hensley at (515) 281-1304 or (800) 362-2587, or <[email protected]>.
Monthly Giveaway of Literary Classics in DAISY Format:
PLEXTALK®, producer of the PLEXTALK® Pocket and other digital talking book players, and ReadHowYouWant, an accessible digital publisher, are partnering to help vision-impaired readers discover literary classics in a convenient format. Beginning in November 2009, readers each month will be able to go to the PLEXTALK Website, <www.plextalk.com>, to download five free titles from ReadHowYouWant's classics collection. Readers can also visit <www.ReadHowYouWant.com/plextalk> to download the free titles. Visit the Websites of either company for additional information about this free program.
Progress on the Silent Car Front:
The following article demonstrates the progress that the National Federation of the Blind is making in our effort to reform thinking and practice in the silent car arena:
GM Works to Make Some Noise
by Chris Woodyard
USA Today, November 25, 2009--General Motors will announce today that it's working with one of the largest advocacy organizations for the vision impaired to find ways for the next-generation electric cars to make enough noise that pedestrians can hear them coming. GM says it's working with the National Federation of the Blind on technology to make sure that near-silent electric cars and hybrids don't sneak up on unsuspecting walkers or runners.
It's potentially a growing problem as the nation switches to battery-powered cars as an alternative to high-priced gasoline. A bill that would direct the Transportation Department to regulate a solution—the Pedestrian Safety Enhancement Act—was introduced in Congress earlier this year. One study already points to dangers. Walkers and bicyclists are being struck at a greater rate by hybrid vehicles than by conventional cars, concluded the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in September.
"I've had probably twenty-five blind people in the country tell me they've almost been hit by these cars," says NFB President Marc Maurer. Vehicles brushed up against some or crushed their white canes, he says. Maurer says he believes electric cars of the future will need to be equipped with a forward-directed sound device that operates without interruption while the car is in motion. All electric vehicles will have to make roughly the same artificial noise, he says, so that blind people will be able to distinguish them as moving vehicles.
Automakers balk at going that far for the moment. Toyota, the largest producer of hybrid cars, says it is still studying the issue. So is Nissan, which plans to introduce the all-electric Leaf next year. GM already is equipping its new Chevrolet Volt extended-range electric car with a driver-activated warning system. The car will emit a short audible horn pulse about as loud as the ring of a telephone when the driver pulls back on the turn-signal switch.
"We want to make sure it is something friendly and not startling," says Volt's chief engineer, Andrew Farah. He says they already believed the sound had to be "clearly automotive" in nature. And the collaboration with the Federation is aimed at seeing if something more is needed.
Other automakers aren't so sure. Tesla, which already has sold about nine hundred all-electric Roadsters, is reluctant to make noise. "One of the top attributes that our customers bring up is that (the car) is so quiet," says spokeswoman Rachel Konrad. The majority of the sound is not from the engine. It's tire noise and wind resistance. As a result, she says, Tesla is monitoring research and regulations around the issue as it might affect its $109,000 two-seater, but probably won't add a noisemaker unless there is a "compelling reason."
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.
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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.