Braille Monitor                                                August/September 2012

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Convention Miniatures

Division Elections:
Here are the results that we have received from division elections at this year’s division meetings at convention:

Travel and Tourism
Travel and Tourism officers for 2012 to 2014 are president, Cheryl Echevarria (NY); vice president, Maurice Shackelford (GA); secretary, Margo Downey (NY); treasurer, Milton Taylor (TX); and board members, Daniel Carr (TX), Amy Baron (MN), and Jemal Powell (IL).

Diabetes Action Network
The results of the DAN election were as follows: president, Michael Freeman (WA); first vice president, Bernadette Jacobs (MD); second vice president, Minnie Walker (AL); secretary, Diane Filipe (CO); and treasurer, Joy Stigile (CA); and board members, Maria Bradford (WA), Wanda Sloan (OH), Mindy Jacobsen (NY), and Jean Brown (IN).

Amateur Radio Division
The Ham Radio Division elected president, Curtis Willoughby (CO); vice president, Michael Freeman (WA); secretary, Doris Willoughby (CO); and treasurer, John Fritz (WI).

Assistive Technology Trainers Division
Following are the elected officers and board members of the Assistive Technology Trainers Division of the National Federation of the Blind: president, Michael Barber (IA); vice president, Joe Steinkamp (TX); secretary, Jan Brandt (NE); treasurer, Jeanine Lineback (TX); and board members, Nancy Coffman (NE), Richard Ring (IA), and Wes Majerus (NE).

Seniors Division
The Seniors elected the following officers: president, Ruth Sager (MD); vice president, Art Schreiber (NM); second vice president, Judy Sanders (MN); secretary, Ramona Walhof (ID); treasurer, Diane McGeorge (CO); and board members, Margo Downey (NY) and Don Gilmore (IL).

Krafters Division

The Krafters elected president, Joyce Kane (CT); vice president, Cindy Sheets (IN); second vice president, Laurie Porter (WI); secretary, Ramona Walhof (ID); treasurer, Cindy Zimmer (NE); and board members, Linda Anderson (CO) and Diane Filipe (CO).

National Association of Blind Office Professionals
The following officers were elected by the office professionals division: president, Lisa Hall (OH); vice president, Mary Donahue (TX); secretary, Kevin Ledford (UT); and treasurer, Debbie Brown (MD).

National Organization of Parents of Blind Children

At the National Organization of Parents of Blind Children (NOPBC) annual meeting in Dallas, Texas, on July 2, 2012, the following were elected to the executive board: president, Carlton Anne Cook Walker (PA); first vice president, Andrea Beasley (WI); second vice president, Kim Cunningham (TX); secretary, Pamela Gebert (AK); treasurer, Pat Renfranz (UT); and board members, Jim Beyer (MT), Jean Bening (MN), Laura Bostick (LA), Wingfield Bouchard (MS), Amber Hall (IN), David Hammel (IA), Stephanie Kieszak-Holloway (GA), Zina Lewis (VA), Holly Miller (NJ), and Trudy Pickrel (MD). Barbara Cheadle (MD) remains on the Board as President Emerita, and Carol Castellano (NJ) continues to serve the NOPBC as its director of programs.

The Sports and Recreation Division Report:
An instructor and a student work on the art of self defense.Division President Lisamaria Martinez reports that the Sports and Recreation Division hosted several fun-filled activities at this year's convention. From newly created disc golf to self-defense workshops, Federationists spent several days dabbling in physical activities while juggling meetings and the exhibit hall. The business meeting was chock-full of great speakers like students from the Louisiana Center for the Blind, who explained the ways sports has given them the confidence they need to be successful blind people living lives to their fullest and speakers who shared their knowledge about the accessibility of sport accessories and apps. We can't wait until Orlando to share another successful convention with you.

Report on the Convention Youth Track:
This year’s Youth Track kicked off late Saturday morning with a challenging problem-solving activity that has come to be known as Balloon Build or Bust. Students are given a roll of tape and fifty balloons; they are to take these materials and build a free-standing structure within a set amount of time. Each team’s hope is that its structure will end up being the tallest. Although the lunch break occurred immediately following the kick-off activity, the enthusiasm was just as strong during the afternoon session.

Following lunch, both age groups (eleven to fourteen and fifteen to eighteen) took part in various activities that allowed them to learn about Federation philosophy in an interactive format. The younger students showed off their talents by creating art that illustrated what they wanted the world to know about blindness. The fifteen-to-eighteen crowd had the opportunity to check out Federationbook, the NFB’s social network. They learned about leaders like Dr. Maurer and Mark Riccobono by checking out their Federationbook profiles. In addition they wrote a Federationbook profile of their own. Both age groups got to make short movies telling the world what they wanted people to know about blindness. Both groups also learned more about the hotel and talked to other convention attendees as they searched for answers to Federation Trivia questions.

Saturday was our busiest day, but it most certainly wasn’t the end of the Youth Track Activities. Sunday afternoon students honed their writing skills by taking part in what has become an annual writers workshop hosted by the NFB’s Writers’ Division. Monday, following the board meeting, students attended our traditional Division Meet and Greet, where they heard short presentations from representatives of many of our NFB divisions. Monday evening, thanks to the Sports and Rec Division, we were able to offer a one-hour self-defense workshop. Self-defense wasn’t the only physical activity going on Monday night. Deja Powell, who is best known as a cane travel teacher, put on her dance-instructor hat to teach the kids some basic dance moves. Tuesday night we loaded up a bus and headed out for pizza. We had no agenda for this experience other than giving the students an opportunity to socialize with one another. Of course there were still plenty of stimulating discussions and opportunities for learning.

Youth Track activities culminated in our parallel general sessions, which took place on Wednesday and Thursday. These sessions give the students an opportunity to learn about things that happen in general session in a more student-friendly way. This year’s topics included convention highlights, the Federation and education, and entrepreneurship.

NFB Krafters Division Convention Activity:
Nancy Yeager has provided the following report of NFB Krafter activities at convention:

The Krafters Division, ably led by President Joyce Kane, began activities on Saturday, June 30, with its fourth annual craft show. As visitors entered the Anatole Hilton’s Topaz Room, President Kane greeted them with handmade roses of chocolate and peanut butter. Guests then explored the displays stationed around the room, all containing handcrafted treasures made by blind Federationists. Many of the items on display were similar to those visitors would find at any other craft show. The difference was that guests knew they were welcome to touch all of the items on exhibit.

Offerings included a variety of handmade jewelry made by several crafters, each demonstrating the crafter’s unique style. Another vender’s medium was plastic canvas woven with yarn, resulting in unique patterns and designs, many of them tactile. Products included small cases, bookmarks, and holiday ornaments. Another exhibiter offered greeting cards with singing dogs. The voice on the card was the vender’s family pet. Still another crafter offered painted figurines, fans, and small cases, some with tactile designs.

A frequent division instructor exhibited safety-pin-beaded items including baskets, candleholders, a Christmas sleigh, and a gingerbread house. In August the Krafters Division will hold safety-pin-beading classes in the construction of these Christmas items. The show’s final vender worked in leather. His hand-tooled and hand-stamped items included phone cases and other items, many with tactile designs.

In addition to the venders who were selling their crafts, a weaver demonstrated the Maystayer weaving machine to visitors. Finally, would-be crafters had the opportunity to stop by the make-and-take table where, with paper, a little glue, and help from a volunteer crafter, they learned how to make a gift bag similar to those available in stores for use instead of wrapping paper. Many convention attendees stopped by the division table in the exhibit hall and received Braille and print information about the Krafters Division.

On July 1 we held our annual meeting. We elected officers for the upcoming year listed elsewhere in the Miniatures. Other agenda items included possible classes of interest in 2012-2013, charity project ideas, and suggestions for next year’s convention in Orlando. We conducted our final division event on Tuesday evening, July 3, in which two division members held a crafting activity with younger convention attendees while their parents attended evening meetings.

Affiliate Action Membership-Building Seminar and Materials Available:
For the last few years the Affiliate Action Department has presented a Back-to-Basics membership-building seminar at national convention. This year's action-packed agenda, entitled “Spotlight on Our Federation Philosophy,” contained presentations on how to teach our philosophy through exciting activities that we can include in chapter meetings, such as writing NFB songs, playing NFB Trivia, and writing and acting out skits involving situations a blind person might encounter in everyday life.

You can find the audio of this seminar at <>. Additionally, you can access the philosophy discussion topics that were distributed to attendees, along with other useful membership-building materials, at <>.

National Association of Blind Educators:
At the seminar of the National Organization of Blind Educators, teachers from a variety of grade levels and subject areas gathered to network and share ideas and strategies to become more effective teachers. Large group presentations focused on acquiring alternative techniques and working with inaccessible websites and programs. In discussions about the joys and challenges of teaching in the classroom, panelists highlighted the importance of building community and establishing relationships with students as well as classroom management procedures.

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