Vol. 56, No. 11 December 2013
Gary Wunder, Editor
Distributed by email, in inkprint, in Braille, and on USB flash drive (see below) by
The National Federation of the Blind
Marc Maurer, President
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SPEAKING FOR THE BLIND--IT IS THE BLIND SPEAKING FOR THEMSELVES
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Vol. 56, No. 11 December 2013
Illustrations: No Tricks, Just Treats from the NFB Halloween Party
Convention Bulletin 2014
A Journey of Success
by Julie Deden
Of Parallels, Learning, and New Paradigms
by Carlton Anne Cook-Walker
Producing Tactile Materials, an Update
by Robert Jaquiss
Social Security, SSI, and Medicare Facts for 2014
by Lauren McLarney
Blind War Hero’s Next Fight is in Court
by Tim Elder
A Season for Gratitude
by Barbara Pierce
Strong People Cannot Be Defeated
by Dolores Reisinger
Santa’s Little Helper
by Darrel Kirby
A Thank-You From a Reader
by Estelle Shukert
Federation of the Blind Honors Keyser’s Edgar McDonald
by Barbara High
New Mexico Federationists Change What It Means to Be Blind
by Curtis Chong
Ask Miss Whozit
The Dr. Jacob Bolotin Awards
by Jim Gashel
The 2014 Blind Educator of the Year Award
by David Ticchi
Distinguished Educator of Blind Children Award for 2014
by Cathy Jackson
From the President’s Recipe File
by Marc Maurer
Copyright 2013 by the National Federation of the Blind
Halloween is fun. This is true whether one’s age is measured in single or double digits. Here we see staff members at the National Center for the Blind celebrating the holiday with a brief morning break before going back to their work to create greater opportunities for all of us.
It is time to begin planning for the 2014 convention of the National Federation of the Blind. We are returning to Orlando for our second stay at the beautiful Rosen Centre Hotel this year, July 1 through 6. Once again our hotel rates are the envy of all. For the 2014 convention they are singles and doubles, $82; and for triples and quads, $88. In addition to the room rates there will be a tax, which currently is 13.5 percent. No charge will be made for children under seventeen in the room with parents as long as no extra bed is requested. Please note that the hotel is a no-smoking facility.
For 2014 convention room reservations you should write directly to the Rosen Centre Hotel, 9840 International Drive, Orlando, Florida 32819. You can call the hotel at (800) 204-7234 after January 1. At the time you make a reservation, a $95 deposit is required for each room reserved. If you use a credit card, the deposit will be charged against your card immediately, just as would be the case with a $95 check. If a reservation is cancelled before May 28, 2014, half of the deposit will be returned. Otherwise refunds will not be made.
Guest-room amenities include cable television, in-room safe, coffeemaker, and hairdryer. Internet access is available in each guest room, and currently it is offered without charge. Guests can also enjoy a swimming pool, fitness center, and on-site spa. The Rosen Centre Hotel offers fine dining at Executive Chef Michael Rumplik’s award-winning Everglades Restaurant. In addition, we will have an array of dining options from sushi to tapas to a 24-hour deli. See later issues of the Monitor for details and information about other attractions in the Greater Orlando area.
The 2014 convention of the National Federation of the Blind will be a truly exciting and memorable event, with an unparalleled program and rededication to the goals and work of our movement. Make plans now to be a part of it. Preconvention seminars for parents of blind children and other groups and set-up of the exhibit hall will take place on Tuesday, July 1. Adjournment will be Sunday, July 6, following the banquet. Convention registration and registration packet pick-up for those who preregistered will begin on Wednesday, July 2, and both Wednesday and Thursday will be filled with meetings of divisions and committees, including the Thursday morning annual meeting, open to all, of the board of directors of the National Federation of the Blind.
General convention sessions will begin on Friday, July 4, and continue through the banquet on Sunday, July 6. Monday, July 7, will be available for tours for those who enjoy getting to know something about our convention city. To assure yourself a room in the headquarters hotel at convention rates, you must make reservations early. The hotel will be ready to take your call or deal with your written request by January 1.
Remember that as usual we need door prizes from state affiliates, local chapters, and individuals. Once again prizes should be small in size but large in value. Cash, of course, is always appropriate and welcome. As a general rule we ask that prizes of all kinds have a value of at least $25 and not include alcohol. Drawings will occur steadily throughout the convention sessions, and you can anticipate a grand prize of truly impressive proportions to be drawn at the banquet. Prizes should be sent to Dwight Sayer, First Vice President, National Federation of the Blind of Florida, 12516 Hammock Pointe Circle, Clermont, FL 34711. Dwight can be reached on his home phone by dialing (352) 988-5583, and can be contacted using email at <[email protected]>.
The best collection of exhibits featuring new technology; meetings of our special interest groups, committees, and divisions; memorable tours suggested by the host affiliate; the most stimulating and provocative program items of any meeting of the blind in the world; the chance to renew friendships in our Federation family; and the unparalleled opportunity to be where the real action is and where decisions are being made—all of these mean you will not want to miss being a part of the 2014 national convention. We'll see you in Orlando in July.
by Julie Deden
From the Editor: We who are members of the National Federation of the Blind have been called dreamers. We were thought to be half crazy when we said that we should organize and speak for ourselves, a bit more crazy when we began defining the most significant problem of blindness as the social reaction to it, and thought to have gone completely around the bend when we boldly stated that, with the proper training and opportunity, blind people can do almost anything we want to make our way in the world. When we were small and disorganized, people weren’t very interested in or threatened by what we thought. If we wanted to meet periodically and discuss our little fantasies, what would it hurt except to create false expectations for the gullible? But, when we began to say that our dreams and expectations must go beyond our meetings and that they should be reflected in programs of education, rehabilitation, and employment policies, the agencies who saw their role being to take care of us reacted bitterly against the criticisms we leveled at their programs. Some were outright hostile and forbade their patients/clients/students/consumers from associating with us. Others were less extreme but proclaimed that, when the day came for us actually to try educating and rehabilitating blind people, we’d sing a different tune, one more in keeping with what their experience taught them to expect.
So it is that the National Federation of the Blind had to become more than just a consumer organization, urging funding for and critiquing the programs of others. The challenge was to put up or shut up, so, through a few state programs and later centers of our own, we have taken our dreams, have molded them into strategies, and have actively undertaken the work of providing direct service to blind men and women who want to be normal, capable, contributing members of society.
One of the centers we started was the Colorado Center for the Blind in 1988. The center has been changing lives for a quarter of a century, and here to commemorate this special anniversary is an article written by our executive director of the center, who daily soldiers on with the rest of her dedicated staff to see that blind people come to think of themselves as normal and not as damaged and broken sighted people:
On a cold and snowy Sunday evening in January of 1988, I had the honor and the privilege to attend a Thanksgiving meal complete with turkey, mashed potatoes, and stuffing to welcome the first five students at the Colorado Center for the Blind. We gave thanks for the National Federation of the Blind, for without the NFB we would not be opening up a center filled with promise for the future of blind people. Diane McGeorge and her husband Ray, along with several of us from the Colorado affiliate, had a dream: a dream to take control of our own destiny. For many years we had attempted to work with the state rehabilitation center to see if we could shape it into one where blind students would be challenged and where they would have high expectations placed upon them in order to excel. We came to the conclusion that this was not possible. So, at age fifty-five, Diane McGeorge made the commitment to direct the Colorado Center for the Blind. She, along with Tom Anderson and Duncan Larsen, started it all.
I was a rehabilitation counselor for the state of Colorado at the time and the president of the NFB of Denver. I will never forget how I felt that evening as we talked to our five students, letting them know that we believed in them, that we expected them to succeed, and that we would be there with them every step of the way! I felt proud, elated, excited, and appreciative and could not wait to see what would happen.
Twenty-five years later I am now the director of the Colorado Center for the Blind. I still feel honored and privileged every day to be a part of this magical adventure. Our three NFB centers [in Colorado, Minnesota, and Louisiana] have provided training to hundreds of blind people in these years. The training has been guided by the beliefs and the philosophy of the National Federation of the Blind. We have truly revolutionized training for blind people of this country.
Today Diane McGeorge chairs the board of the Colorado Center for the Blind. She volunteers every week with our seniors, but her first love is working with all of our students to instill belief in blindness in each of them. At this writing we have twenty-nine students enrolled in our full-time program from all over the country. Our students expect to be challenged each day, whether it is crossing a busy intersection, skiing, or meeting an employer for the first time. The center has programs for blind youth of all ages and also programs for seniors. We most recently began providing intensive training to blind college students.
On Friday, September 13, and Saturday, September 14, we all gathered together to celebrate twenty-five years of progress at the Colorado Center for the Blind.
As some of you may know, Colorado had the worst flood in a century in September, and the Littleton area was in the thick of it. The rain stopped and the sky cleared for a few hours on Friday, September 13, 2013. The calm lasted just long enough for the opening ceremony of the twenty-fifth anniversary celebration, along with tours of the center and rides in the National Federation of the Blind’s Blind Driver Challenge® car. Guests also enjoyed bratwursts grilled by current center students.
Distinguished guests at the morning ceremony included Littleton’s mayor, Debbie Brinkman; National Federation of the Blind first vice president, Frederick K. Schroeder; NFB of Colorado president, Scott LaBarre; and founder and long-time director at the center, Diane McGeorge. The ceremony also included the unveiling of Colorado artist Ann Cunningham’s remarkable stone bas relief of the Front Range, the rivers that flow out onto the Great Plains from the mountains, and the cities that stretch from the southern border with New Mexico to the northern boundary with Wyoming.
Later in the morning center graduate Mark A. Riccobono, executive director of the Jernigan Institute at the National Center for the Blind in Baltimore, took advantage of the short stretch of good weather to give nearly sixty attendees a short ride around the block in the National Federation of the Blind’s Blind Driver Challenge car. The BDC is the perfect symbol of the Colorado Center for the Blind’s twenty-five years of success—our training puts blind people into the driver’s seat of their own lives.
On Saturday evening the crowd reconvened with many more friends and alums at the Denver Renaissance Hotel for a gala evening of food, more memories, and dancing. NFB President Dr. Marc Maurer addressed the nearly 160 in attendance. He said the purpose in starting the three NFB training centers in 1987 and 1988 was to put into practice the NFB’s philosophy of self-determination: to raise the bar for training centers in general; and, through these changes, to raise the expectations of and for the blind. But, on a more practical level, establishing our centers was to start “turning a lot of confident, capable blind people loose,” people who would begin to make things happen for themselves and for the blind in general. Thus one of the purposes was to start a revolution in the blindness world. That revolution continues to this day.
Recognizing that our students are central to what we do, we heard from a number of them. “Without the training I received at the center,” said Jim Barber of the call he received to take a job on the West Coast a dozen years ago, “I wouldn’t have had the confidence to pick up and move to a new city in a different state so far from family and friends.” Jim was one of the original five students at the center, and his résumé includes Google, Yahoo, and Qualcomm.
At every student graduation, when the bell of freedom is rung, I have a feeling of pride and exhilaration right along with the graduating student and everyone else in the room. Together we are “changing what it means to be blind.” Think about what the next twenty-five years will bring!
by Carlton Anne Cook-Walker
From the Editor: Carlton Anne Cook-Walker is an amazing woman whose motivation, education, and insights are invaluable. Here is a speech she recently made at a luncheon for parents of blind children in Iowa:
Good afternoon. Thank you so much for having me here. It is indeed an honor to be in this Hawkeye state that holds so much history of the blind with individuals like you, who represent the future.
I serve as the president of the National Organization of Parents of Blind Children. This marks my fifth year of working as an itinerant teacher of blind students in south central Pennsylvania, and I continue to operate my law practice on a part-time basis. But to explain better where I want to go, I need to let you know where I have been.
I am a native North Carolinian, so, if you ask me where I'm from, the answer is Raleigh, North Carolina. However, in 1995 I met an incredible gentleman. He was a widower and the father of two lovely children, Kenny and Stephanie. Despite the fact that he was also a Yankee, we married, and I moved up to Pennsylvania, where we all now live.
In March of 2001 our family grew with the birth of Anna Catherine. She was a healthy, full-term baby, weighing eight pounds, twelve ounces—but health problems soon developed. As many first-time mothers do, I had heavily researched the benefits of breastfeeding. Unfortunately, Anna could not latch on well, and after our first hospitalization I ended up feeding her my milk in a bottle. This worked well for a couple of months—then she developed severe reflux.
Our next three hospitalizations ended with surgery to treat the reflux and the placement of a feeding tube. Again we muddled through as a two-pump family—my breast pump and her feeding pump.
Just after Thanksgiving, when we returned from our first family vacation, Anna's lips started turning various shades of blue. Another two weeks in the hospital, and we came home with two oxygen tanks and an overnight monitor. We were also told that this first Christmas with Anna Catherine might well be our last.
In February Anna started vomiting blood. We again rushed to the emergency room but this time at a different hospital, Children's Hospital in Pittsburgh. Everything was different. In Pittsburgh Anna was not treated as a pulmonary case or a neurology case. Anna was a sick little girl who needed to get better. Anna Catherine was sicker than she had ever been before, but these doctors believed that she could and would improve. They learned that she could no longer tolerate any proteins, so she could no longer have my milk. Instead she needed a very elemental formula, made in England, that contained only amino acids, which her body would then form into proteins.
I had to throw out my preconception of the superiority of breast milk. No matter how I changed my diet, I could no longer provide what she needed. I had to give up what I wanted in order to give my little girl what she needed. Anna's early health issues hampered the development of both her macula (used for central vision) and her retina (used for peripheral vision). Nevertheless, early educators steered us toward large print—after all, three-year-old Anna could read seventy-two-point font at four inches.
Through an improbable series of events I found the National Federation of the Blind. We attended the first Beginnings and Blueprints conference in Baltimore in 2005; we attended the 2006 NFB convention in Dallas, and we fell in love. We realized that our new NFB family could provide Anna Catherine with the skills, tools, and mentoring that we, as her sighted parents, could not.
As I reflect on the first fifteen months of Anna's life, I am struck at the parallels between my journey and those of parents of blind children—especially blind children who have some functional vision. I had researched the benefits of breast milk, and I did everything in my power to ensure that Anna got it. Parents of children with low vision are bombarded with information about maximizing vision. Just as I did with breast milk, parents and professionals bend over backward to maximize use of vision—even when the child is harmed in the process. I remember vividly how hard it was for me to give up nursing and move to formula—you can probably hear in my voice how emotional a decision it was. Thus, it should not surprise us that sighted parents and professionals cling steadfastly to their misconceptions about the superiority of vision in all circumstances. It takes time to change attitudes and transform belief systems; and our support and patience are vital. We know the utility of nonvisual techniques, and parents' minds will be changed when they witness the increased capabilities and independence of their blind children who use them more efficiently and effectively than those vision-maximizing methods.
Anna Catherine is now a healthy twelve-year-old seventh grader. She describes herself as blind with some functional vision. She reads Braille and uses a long white cane for travel. In truth she has several long canes, none of which are white—each is decorated in different colors and with different patterns—a pre-teen girl needs to match her cane to her outfits, you know. Also Anna has always been a "math girl," and we had the pleasure of meeting the late Dr. Abraham Nemeth on several occasions at NFB conventions and at the Braille coin launch in 2009. We mourn his passing this week.
I truly shudder to think of where Anna would be had we not found the Federation. Anna would not be able to keep up with her studies if she was reading print, and she would be constrained to mental math. Instead of walking home from school and walking to the grocery store (sometimes without my knowledge), she would be fearful of moving around independently. Thanks to the skills, tools, and mentoring of our Federation family, my Anna Catherine is a headstrong, math-loving, fashionista—just as she should be!
When your president, Mr. Michael Barber, invited me to come to Iowa, I was excited. I have never been here before, but I know my NFB history, and I know that our past president, Dr. Jernigan, molded many past and current Federation leaders, including our current president, Dr. Maurer, here in Iowa. I was also excited to come to the home of Meredith Willson and the site of his beautiful love letter to his home state, The Music Man. This incredible musical is one of my favorites, and my family watches it often—both live local performances and the movie versions.
Life being what it is, I soon had my own Music Man experience. I had the opportunity to lead two summer programs: one for deaf and blind students and one for blind students only. In both programs we had staff with and without experience in working with blind children. I explained that we need to teach nonvisual skills under sleepshades and that we, as sighted individuals, must practice these skills under sleepshades before we attempt to teach them to our students. My viewpoint was a revelation to them. Some of the sighted people with experience teaching blind children had never used sleepshades before—for themselves or for their students. Some argued that sleepshades are not really necessary; they were convinced that one can learn and teach nonvisual skills while using vision.
This struck me as a modern-day implementation of the "think system." In The Music Man, a traveling salesman, Professor Harry Hill, holds himself out as an expert in forming boys' bands. He sells townsfolk the instruments, instruction books, and uniforms, with promises of forming their young children into the River City Boys' Band to entertain their community at the upcoming Fourth of July celebration. Unfortunately, Professor Harry Hill does not know how to teach or even play these band instruments. He cannot even read music. Professor Hill does not let this stop him. He develops a "think system," a process by which the children do not touch their expensive instruments; instead, they “think” the music.
Isn't this very much like teaching nonvisual skills with the use of vision? Just as one cannot learn to play an instrument without touching the instrument, one cannot learn efficient and effective use of nonvisual skills while employing vision. Just as Professor Hill hid his incompetence in music instruction by teaching his think system, too many teachers of blind students avoid instruction in blindness skills (such as Braille reading and cane use) by substituting instruction in techniques that maximize vision but do not maximize students' performance and independence. Just as Professor Hill's ineffective methods failed to produce competent musicians, overreliance on vision in the instruction of blind students fails to produce competent or confident blind adults.
We know the risks of over-reliance on vision. While I do not suggest that we tar-and-feather these vision-centric instructors, I do believe that we, as Federationists, can help them improve. We can educate parents and professionals about the increased functionality nonvisual skills provide. We can mentor blind adults and children and provide a positive blind role model in their lives. We can gently but firmly insist on teaching nonvisual skills nonvisually. We can, and we must.
Let us join together to transform the think system into the do system. Just as Professor Hill abandoned his flawed plan, we can help blind adults, parents, and professionals realize the shortcomings of a vision-maximization approach. We must help individuals maximize efficiency, maximize effectiveness, and maximize independence. And—together we will!
by Robert Jaquiss
From the Editor: Robert Jaquiss is a longtime member of the Federation who has lived in several states and has participated actively in each of them in our National Federation of the Blind affiliates. He is passionate about the need for tactile materials and shares the views of many who have recently written for this magazine that learning to use tactile graphics should be a part of any young student’s experience as he or she matriculates through school. As a member of the Committee for Research and Development, Robert has been following and actively encouraging developments in this field since 1993. He is now a director of the recently announced 3D Tactile Graphics Division of the American Thermoform Corporation (ATC). ATC is selling the equipment described in the following article. Here is what he says:
In the April 2012 issue of the Braille Monitor I wrote an article entitled “Technology for Producing Tactile Materials.” The technologies described are often referred to as 3D technologies. Products are improving and prices are decreasing—developments that will have a major effect on the education of the blind. Now a teacher can find an image using the Internet, download it, and produce a model for his/her students. Blind and low-vision students can more easily understand the concepts being taught and will be able to feel models of cultural artifacts.
I will describe two devices: the 2BOT and the MakerBot Replicator 2. It should be noted that both the 2BOT and Replicator 2 are most likely to be used by sighted teachers and transcribers. The software requires the user to view an image on screen in order to produce it.
The 2BOT is an easy-to-use, computer-controlled milling machine that connects to a PC with a USB cable. This machine uses blocks of foam measuring 12 by 13 3/4 inches and up to 2 inches thick. The foam blocks are inexpensive, ranging in price from $4 to $28 per piece depending upon the type of foam used.
To operate the 2BOT, the user removes a frame from the 2BOT, installs a piece of foam in the frame, and inserts the frame back into the 2BOT. The software is started, an image selected, parameters set, and the job started. When the first side of the model is complete, the foam dust is vacuumed out, and the frame is removed, flipped over, and inserted back into the 2BOT. The job then resumes, cutting the back side of the model. When the job is complete, the model is detached from the remains of the foam block. Depending on the size and complexity of the model, a job can take anywhere from twenty minutes to three hours. The 2BOT sells for $5,995. A complete turnkey system, including a supply of foam and an industrial vacuum cleaner, sells for $6,595.
The MakerBot Replicator 2 is a 3D printer that uses spools of ABS filament to construct models by melting and then depositing drops of molten plastic under computer control. The Replicator 2 can create models impossible for a milling machine to produce. The build volume is in inches: 11.2 long, 6 wide, and 6.1 high.
Like the 2Bot, the Replicator 2 is also easy to use—it connects to a PC using a USB cable. The models are built in layers: imagine building a loaf of bread standing on its end. The loaf could be built by stacking up the slices of bread until the loaf is complete. The process is similar for the Replicator. The user starts the software, selects an image, sets parameters, and starts the job. When the job is complete, the model is removed from the Replicator, and any support material is removed. Support material is necessary when a model has an overhang, for example the head of an animal. The Replicator can deposit material either on its base plate or on previously deposited material. If a model of an animal is needed, support material is produced to hold up the animal’s head. The Replicator 2 sells for $2,400.
American Thermoform Corporation is proud to sell these fine products. Anyone with questions should contact the author by writing to Robert Jaquiss, Director, 3D Tactile Graphics Division, American Thermoform Corporation, 1758 Brackett Street, La Verne, CA 91750; or by phone at (909) 593-6711, ext. 107; by email at <[email protected]>; or check out the website <www.3dtactilegraphics.com>.
by Lauren McLarney
From the Editor: Every December we publish the Social Security figures that have been announced for the coming year. Here is the 2014 information as prepared by Lauren McLarney, governmental affairs specialist, NFB Advocacy and Policy Department:
Another year, another set of annual adjustments to Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), Supplemental Security Income (SSI), and Medicare programs. The updated amounts for 2014 are listed below. These numbers include new tax rates, higher exempt earnings amounts (substantial gainful activity), and cost-of-living increases. They also include deductible, premium, and coinsurance amounts under Part A and B of Medicare.
FICA and Self-Employment Tax Rates: The FICA tax rate for employees and their employers is a combination of payments to the Old Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance (OASDI) Trust Fund, and the Hospital Insurance (HI) Trust Fund, from which payments under Medicare are made. In other words, the tax rate is the combined rate for Social Security and Medicare. The total tax rate for 2013 was 7.65 percent for employees and their employers and 15.3 percent for self-employed workers. These percentages are unchanged for 2014. Please note that as of January 2013 individuals with earned income of more than $200,000 ($250,000 for married couples filing jointly) pay an additional 0.9 percent in Medicare taxes. The tax rates listed above for 2013 and 2014 do not include that additional 0.9 percent.
Ceiling on Earnings Subject to Tax: In 2013 the ceiling on taxable earnings for contributions to the OASDI Trust Fund was $113,700. For 2014 the maximum amount of taxable earnings will be $117,000. All earnings are taxed for the HI Trust Fund.
Quarters of Coverage: Eligibility for Retirement, Survivors, and Disability Insurance benefits is partially based on the number of quarters of coverage earned by any individual during periods of work. Anyone may earn up to four quarters of coverage in a single year. The rationale behind the quarter-of-coverage concept is that a person must have contributed to the system before being eligible to collect benefits from it. The quarters of coverage are a way of measuring how much one has contributed to the system. In 2013 a quarter of coverage was credited for earnings of $1,160 in any calendar quarter. Anyone who earned $4,640 in 2013 (regardless of when the earnings occurred during the year) received four quarters of coverage. In 2014 a quarter of coverage will be credited for earnings of $1,200 during a calendar quarter. Four quarters will be credited for annual earnings of $4,800.
Trial Work Period Limit: The amount of earnings required to use a trial work month is subject to annual increases based on changes in the national average wage index. In 2013 the amount was $750. This amount will increase to $770 in 2014. In cases of self-employment a trial work month can also be used if a person works more than eighty hours, and this limitation on hours worked will not change unless expressly adjusted.
Exempt Earnings: The monthly earnings exemption is referred to as Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA). This is a measurement used to determine whether a beneficiary is earning enough income that he or she may be deemed ineligible for benefits, and is calculated as a person’s monthly income before taxes, minus any unearned (or subsidy) income and any impairment-related work expense deductions. In 2013 the SGA for a blind person receiving disability benefits was $1,740. In 2014 this number will increase to $1,800 per month. This means that in 2014 a blind SSDI beneficiary who earns $1,801 or more a month (before taxes but after subtractions of subsidy incomes and impairment-related work expenses) will be deemed to have exceeded SGA and will likely no longer be eligible for benefits.
Social Security Benefit Amounts: There will be a 1.5 percent cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) for beneficiaries in 2014. Increased payments to beneficiaries will begin in December of 2013 and will apply to everyone receiving benefits in 2014.
Standard SSI Benefit Increase: Beginning January 2014 the federal payment amounts for SSI individuals and couples are as follows: individuals, $721 a month; SSI couples, $1,082 a month.
Student Earned Income Exclusion: In 2013 the monthly amount was $1,730, and the maximum yearly amount was $6,960. In 2014 the monthly amount will be $1,750, and the maximum yearly amount will be $7,060. The SSI program applies strict asset limits of $2,000 for individuals and $3,000 for couples, which can be changed only by Congress.
Medicare Deductibles and Coinsurance: Medicare Part A coverage provides hospital insurance to most Social Security beneficiaries. The coinsurance amount is the hospital charge to a Medicare beneficiary for any hospital stay. Medicare then pays the hospital charges above the beneficiary's coinsurance amount.
The Part A hospital inpatient deductible was $1,184 in 2013 and will increase to $1,216 in 2014. The coinsurance charged for hospital services within a benefit period of no longer than sixty days was $0 in 2013 and will stay at $0 in 2014. From the sixty-first day through the ninetieth day, the daily coinsurance amount was $296 a day in 2013, and will slightly increase in 2014 to $304 a day. Each Medicare beneficiary has sixty lifetime reserve days that may be used after a ninety-day benefit period has ended. Once used, these reserve days are no longer available after any benefit period. The coinsurance amount paid during each reserve day used in 2013 was $592. In 2014 the coinsurance for each reserve day will be $608.
Part A of Medicare pays all covered charges for services in a skilled nursing facility for the first twenty days following a three-day in-hospital stay within a benefit period. From the twenty-first day through the one hundredth day in a benefit period, the Part A coinsurance amount for services received in a skilled nursing facility was $148 in 2013 and will increase to $152 for 2014.
Most Social Security beneficiaries have no monthly premium charge for Medicare Part A coverage. Those who become ineligible for SSDI can continue to receive Medicare Part A coverage premium-free for at least ninety-three months after the end of a trial work period. After that time the individual may purchase Part A coverage. The premium rate for this coverage during 2013 was $441 a month. In 2014 the premium rate for Part A coverage will reduce to $426.
The annual deductible amount for Medicare Part B (medical insurance) in 2013 was $147. That amount will not change in 2014. The Medicare Part B monthly premium rate charged to each new beneficiary or to those beneficiaries who directly pay their premiums quarterly for 2013 was $104.90 a month, and again that amount will not change in 2014. For those receiving Social Security benefits, this premium payment is deducted from your monthly benefit check. Individuals who remain eligible for Medicare, but are not receiving Social Security benefits because of working, must directly pay the Part B premium quarterly—one payment every three months. Like the Part A premiums mentioned above, Part B is also available for at least ninety-three months following the trial work period, assuming an individual wishes to have it and, when not receiving SSDI, continues to make quarterly premium payments.
Programs That Help with Medicare Deductibles and Premiums: Low-income Medicare beneficiaries may qualify for help with payments. Assistance is available through two programs—the QMB (Qualified Medicare Beneficiary program) and the SLMB (Specified Low-Income Medicare Beneficiary program). To qualify for the QMB program in 2013, an individual’s monthly income could not exceed $978 and a married couple’s monthly income could not exceed $1,313. A note on the Medicare website says: “These amounts may increase in 2014.”
Under the QMB program states are required to pay the Medicare Part A (Hospital Insurance) and Part B (Medical Insurance) premiums, deductibles, and coinsurance expenses for Medicare beneficiaries who meet the program's income and resource requirements. Under the SLMB program states pay only the full Medicare Part B monthly premium. Eligibility for the SLMB program may be retroactive for up to three calendar months.
Both the QMB and SLMB programs are administered by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services in conjunction with the states. The rules vary from state to state, but the following can be said: Resources, such as bank accounts or stocks, may not exceed $4,000 for one person or $6,000 for a family of two. Resources are generally things you own. However, not everything is counted. The house you live in, for example, doesn't count; and generally one car also doesn't count.
If you qualify for assistance under the QMB program, you will not have to pay the following: Medicare's hospital deductible amount, which will be $1,216 per benefit period in 2014; the daily coinsurance charges for extended hospital and skilled nursing facility stays; the Medicare Part B (Medical Insurance) premium, which will be $104.90 a month in 2014, unless you are currently receiving benefits from Social Security and the agency is automatically withholding your Part B premiums; the 2014 $147 annual Part B deductible; and the 20 percent coinsurance for services covered by Medicare Part B, depending on which doctor you go to (these services include doctor services, outpatient therapy, and durable medical equipment).
If you qualify for assistance under the SLMB program, you will be responsible for the payment of all of the items listed above except for the monthly Part B premium, depending on your circumstances.
If you think you qualify but you have not filed for Medicare Part A, contact Social Security to find out if you need to file an application. Further information about filing for Medicare is available from your local Social Security office or Social Security's toll-free number (800) 772-1213.Remember that only your state can decide if you are eligible for help from the QMB or SLMB program and also that the income and resource levels listed here are general guidelines with some states choosing greater amounts. Therefore, if you are elderly or disabled, have low income and very limited assets, and are a Medicare beneficiary, contact your state or local Medicaid office (referred to in some states as the Public Aid Office or the Public Assistance Office) to apply. For more information about either program, call the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) on its toll-free number (800) 633-4227, or go online to <http://www.cms.hhs.gov/ContactCMS>.
From the Editor: the following is reprinted from a press release posted October 17, 2013, which we received through the courtesy of Tim Elder. It outlines the legal battle against a loan company by Army Sgt. Major Jesse Acosta, who was blinded in combat in 2006. Following the original press release is an update about the outcome of the suit from Tim on October 25, 2013.
Army Sgt. Major Jesse Acosta's latest fight is against his bank, which denied his approved and fully executed loan only after finding out that Sgt. Major Acosta is blind. In 2006 Sgt. Major Acosta was hit by a mortar while leading his men on a mission in Iraq. He returned to his job at SoCal Gas Company in Garden Grove with a Purple Heart but suffering with Traumatic Brain Injury, severe Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and without his eyes.
On Tuesday, October 22, 2013, Sgt. Major Acosta will ask a federal jury to find that Huntington Beach-based NuVision Federal Credit Union ("NuVision") refused to fund a $20,000 loan they offered him after he went to sign loan documents and the bank realized Sgt. Major Acosta was blind. NuVision reneged on the fully executed loan and told Sgt. Major Acosta, "You didn't tell us you were blind; that's a problem." NuVision claimed that Sgt. Major Acosta had to produce a valid driver's license to qualify for a loan.
In a move reminiscent of the 1950s, when women could not borrow money without their husbands or fathers co-signing loans for them, NuVision's manager told Sgt. Major Acosta to get a co-signer for a new loan. The only qualification Jesse's co-signer needed, according to NuVision, was a valid driver’s license—the one qualification no blind person could ever meet.
Since returning from Iraq, Sgt. Major Acosta, a father of four, has been a leader in advocating for the needs of returning disabled vets: testifying before Congress, speaking at the White House, and working with injured vets.
Pursuant to the Americans with Disabilities Act, and the Unruh Act, businesses cannot discriminate on the basis of a person's disability. Sgt. Major Acosta will prove that NuVision denied him a loan because he was blind and not on the basis of a legitimate business purpose.
This is "the first time I was made to feel that I was less of a person because of my disability," stated Sgt. Major Acosta. He has been battling depression, anger, and severe episodes of PTSD that cause him great physical and mental anguish, as he relives the helplessness he felt in dealing with NuVision's denial of his loan. Sgt. Major Acosta's anger and depression have turned into a new mission to stop NuVision's discrimination and teach business that discrimination injures returning vets.
Sgt. Major Acosta was referred to civil rights attorney Patricia Barbosa, the founder of Barbosa Group, who has twenty-six years of experience enforcing civil rights. "NuVision's policy—that blind customers must have valid driver’s licenses—is discrimination on its face and violates the ADA and California's Unruh Act," said attorney Barbosa. "I want to vindicate Jesse's belief that he is a full member of society, even if he is disabled," said attorney Barbosa.
The jury trial will be heard by Judge Margaret Morrow in the Roybal Federal Courthouse in Los Angeles October 22-24. "I want NuVision to understand that discrimination is wrong and is not just business as usual," said Sgt. Major Acosta.
Tim Elder says: “For those who saw the press release I posted earlier this week about a trial in Huntington Beach on behalf of a blind veteran denied a loan because he did not have a driver's license, I'm told the jury found in his favor. They awarded him $160,000 in damages. The attorney is also filing proposed changes to the lender's policies for court enforcement.Any federal jury finding in favor of a blind person is a good thing.”
by Barbara Pierce
From the Editor: the article which follows was originally printed in December of 1990. It beautifully illustrates how often those of us who are blind are encouraged by our families to be givers, but how difficult it is to give in a world which expects little giving from us, and sometimes frustrates us when we try to be more than passive spectators. Here is what Barbara has to say:
My parents always made a conscientious, though all too often futile, effort to teach my brother and me that the Christmas season was a time for reflection, for reassessment, and for gratitude, not only for the blessings we had received, but also for the opportunities to give. We understood about joy, after December 25, at least, but gratitude smacked unpleasantly of thank-you notes and visits to old ladies, where lively children were expected to sit still, answer silly questions, endure being patted on the head, and refrain from swinging their legs or squabbling.
My adult understanding of this holiday season is far nearer to that of my parents than to my own youthful views. And, if I am honest, I must admit that I have not been noticeably more successful in conveying this more meditative approach to the holidays to my children. I remember the year that each family member drew the name of another every week leading up to Christmas and then tried secretly to do kind things for that person every day. We placed a cradle in front of the fireplace and added one piece of hay for each good deed. The children loved the idea and even tried to remember to be thoughtful, but I'm afraid that the Christ Child did not have a luxuriously soft bed of hay by Christmas Eve.
The fact remains that both the Jewish and Christian faiths encourage us at this season of the year to reflect upon the blessings we have been given and the uses we have chosen to make of them. My trip to Jamaica this past fall and the deprivation I saw there have been a poignant reminder to me of just how much progress Americans in general and the blind in particular have made. Despite the great distance we still have to travel to achieve true equality, all of us have much for which to be grateful.
But I have been thinking recently of how lucky we are to be able to give. For much of the history of blind people, no one in society was particularly interested in anything we had to offer. Preoccupied with what we could not do—or what they thought we could not do— members of the community taunted or ignored or practiced charity upon us. Today, however, thanks to Braille, good travel skills, and increased technology, but most of all, thanks to the philosophy of the National Federation of the Blind, blind people in increasing numbers are demonstrating to society that we do have many things of value to offer to our communities.
All this is important, and it is necessary that we take stock of such progress and be grateful for it. But we must also recognize how lucky we are to be able to help other blind people. How empty of satisfaction life would be, how distressing our encounters with one another if we had no encouragement, expertise, or support to offer to those who are coming to terms with blindness for the first time. The fact that we do possess a gift that is infinitely valuable to people who are desperate for even a little hope, dignity, and self-respect is a great blessing. Being a part of the National Federation of the Blind enables each of us to help other people every day. Each time we staff an information table in the rain, take part in a fundraising project, or work to get our literature placed in libraries, we are offering the philosophy that rescues lives to people who need to know about it. Somehow it is all too easy to forget about this aspect of the work we do week in and week out.
These were the thoughts that ran through my mind as I read the following letter. It just appeared in the mail at the National Center for the Blind one day this fall. Each of us stands a little taller because of it. Here it is. Happy holidays to each of you.
Dear Mr. Jernigan,
I recently lost enough vision in my one remaining eye to be considered legally blind. This all started last December. My goal was to return to work this September. I was, however, worried about my ability and needed some advice. The people at the Lighthouse advised me to get "legal status" with the state. I set up an interview with one of their counselors. To my amazement the counselor told me to "quit work." He told me "I was a smart young man." As a shop teacher I would be placing myself in danger of losing the rest of my sight, going blind. I would be placing my students at risk. I would be doing a disservice to my family.
I was bewildered. I was forty years old and on my way to applying for SSDI. At the Social Security office I was told about social welfare. That evening I came home and told my wife the news. I should quit work, retrain to become a counselor, go back to school; she must find work, and keeping the house seemed iffy.
I called my uncle that night. He went blind due to a chemical accident when his kids were small. He told me that newly blinded people are likely to accept anything that people tell them. He said, "Don't believe any of that crap!" He got the same treatment. He told me to call the NFB. He told me the "OF" in National Federation of the Blind was very important. They are blind people helping each other. There is a difference.
The woman I spoke to in the Baltimore office was great. She told me how to get in touch with a member of the Federation in my state, and ten minutes later I was talking with him. In a few minutes more we were on a conference telephone call with a Federationist in another state who works in one of the Federation centers and knows about what the blind can do with machinery and shop work. We spoke about shop and my skills as a shop teacher. It gave me a new perspective and showed me possibilities.
Later that morning I called the state agency for the blind. I asked my counselor if he could legally stop me from working. He said no. I told him I would be returning to work. He told me again how foolish I was. He told me I'd be back when I saw things his way.
I tell you, I pray to God each day to watch over me. I also pray to be smart. I teach safety first. I maintain discipline. I ask for help with heavy things which have to be moved. In this way I provide for my family. I do the work I'm qualified for. I maintain my independence.
I know that I have a long way to go. I'm joining the NFB, and I am learning.
One of the great satisfactions in life is having the opportunity to assist others. Consider making a gift to the National Federation of the Blind to continue turning our dreams into reality. A gift to the NFB is not merely a donation to an organization; it provides resources that will directly ensure a brighter future for all blind people.
The National Federation of the Blind has special giving opportunities that will benefit the giver as well as the NFB. Of course the largest benefit to the donor is the satisfaction of knowing that the gift is leaving a legacy of opportunity. However, gifts may be structured to provide more:
by Dolores Reisinger
From the Editor: Dolores Reisinger is a longtime member of the National Federation of the Blind of Iowa, and these are the remarks she delivered at the affiliate's 2013 convention:
The popular American author, Danielle Steel, once wrote: "Strong people cannot be defeated." Perhaps her words can be applied to all of us here today. They certainly express my point of view and reflect my experiences.
I am a native of Brazil and grew up in a city that today is the most important industrial complex in Latin America. Sao Paulo City has a population of over twenty million people, and it is the leading car manufacturing center of Latin America.
I was six months old when my parents learned that I was blind as a result of the atrophying of my optic nerve. They were not rich, and they didn't have college educations. However, they didn't give up; they didn't lose confidence. Of course they knew that I was blind, but they also knew that I was a normal person, capable of learning through my remaining senses and, above all, using my mind. I was allowed to grow, not only physically but mentally, emotionally, and intellectually. My parents taught me very valuable and important lessons. They were very strong people. Therefore, they were never defeated.
Years later I left home and went to a special school for blind children. It was a Catholic school run by the Sisters of Charity of Saint Vincent de Paul. They played an important part in the development of my positive attitudes toward life during my early years. After my elementary and secondary education was completed, I spent four years at the University of Sao Paulo State, where I graduated with a master's degree in history. I taught in Brazil until 1968, when I was invited by the US State Department and the International Federation of the Blind to come to America for two months in an exchange program. The purpose of my trip to this country was to visit and observe schools and rehabilitation centers for blind Americans. The following schools and agencies serving the blind were on my schedule: the American Foundation for the Blind, the Jewish Braille Institute, the Library of Congress, the Hadley School for the Blind, the American Printing House for the Blind, and the Iowa Commission for the Blind in Des Moines.
While at the Commission I had the opportunity to visit with the director, Dr. Kenneth Jernigan, the staff, and students who were taking training at the Orientation and Adjustment Center for Blind Adults. My future husband, Jack Reisinger, was one of the students taking training at the orientation center.
When my exchange program ended, I had to return to Brazil. The country was politically ruled by the army. There was no freedom of the press; there was no freedom of speech. We were not allowed to conduct public meetings and could not voice our opinion. Thankfully I managed to leave the country. However, the generals remained in power for almost sixteen years until 1985 when the nation finally held democratic elections.
The army domination of Brazil began in 1963 and ended twenty-two years later. During that period a whole generation of children grew up under a very oppressive military regime. College students, teachers, lawyers, political leaders of the congress, and other professional people disappeared overnight, and they were never found. Popular Brazilian singers who tried to express their sentiments through music were exiled. They were sent to France and returned to Brazil only when democracy was reestablished.
So in 1969 I left Brazil and flew back to this country, where I decided to live and to work. Later I learned that my Brazilian degree was not completely recognized in the United States. I went back to college at the University of Northern Iowa, where I obtained my teaching certificate and a master's degree in Spanish.
I taught languages in college and Spanish at Columbus High in Waterloo, and then in 1976 I went to work for the Iowa Commission for the Blind as a vocational rehabilitation teacher. For more than eighteen years I worked with blind people in eleven counties. I helped them in acquiring the skills of daily living so that they could retain their independence. I also helped them understand that blind people, given an opportunity, can overcome the inconvenience of the loss of sight and that the real problem of blindness is not the loss of eyesight. Instead, it is the misunderstanding and the lack of information which exist. The real problem of blindness is quite often caused by public attitudes, misconceptions, and social prejudices.
After having worked for two decades for the Iowa Commission for the Blind, which is now the Iowa Department for the Blind, I finally retired. For the last eighteen years I have done volunteer work for the City of Cedar Rapids. I was a commissioner for the Cedar Rapids Civil Rights Commission, and in this volunteer activity I read and discussed with the director of the commission the cases for which I was responsible. On October 15, 2012, a White Cane Safety Day proclamation was signed and presented to me by the mayor of Cedar Rapids, Ron Corbett.
I was on the task force for the Help America Vote Act in Linn County. Our task force looked at machines from three vendors: Election Systems and Software, Diebold Election Systems, and Sequoia Voting Systems. I was a presenter at classes held for precinct election officials to make them aware of the needs of people with disabilities and tell them how to address questions and problems that might arise at the polls on election day.
I have helped with the teaching of English as a second language at Kirkwood Community College, where I have taught Portuguese. Quite often I speak to groups about blindness and the philosophy of the National Federation of the Blind. Since 2006, Meet the Blind Month programs have been presented to the public in eastern Iowa.
March 2012 marked the beginning of my ministry at All Saints Parish. I serve as a lector in front of the congregation, and I'm also a member of the Shawl Ministry.
I must conclude my remarks by saying to you that, if you have determination, you will succeed in your endeavors; if you have courage, you will face the problems of life, and you will find ways of solving them; if you are strong people, you will never be defeated, and you will see that your dreams will become reality.
by Darrel Kirby
From the Editor: In looking for some holiday cheer to put into our December issue, we came across this little gem that seems just as appropriate now as it did when it was originally run in 2004. Here is how Editor Barbara Pierce introduced it:
From the Editor: For obvious reasons I have been saving this delightful little story for several months. Darrel Kirby was the 2004 Kenneth Jernigan Memorial Scholarship winner. He is a graduate student at the University of Iowa and president of the Old Capitol Chapter of the NFB of Iowa. Here is his Christmas story:
Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year. The holiday season was always a joyous time for my family. Each year I waited anxiously for Thanksgiving, knowing that the following weekend would include walking through the snow to find a real Christmas tree in the woods near our farmhouse. A tree with no gaps and a triangular shape was a lucky find. We did our best to make the tree look beautiful by decorating it with colorful lights, icicles, and an assortment of ornaments. My mother attempted to make the tree more attractive with a set of blown glass ornaments with gold accents, but each year the tree was crowded with school-made decorations created by my three brothers and me. Like diamonds in a dime-store display, the glass ornaments, beautiful and fragile, stood out from the sturdy, homemade ornaments made of Popsicle sticks, colorful yarn, and Elmer's glue.
My three brothers and I differed in personality and interests, sharing only the Kirby nose and hand-me-downs. We all had our personality quirks, and I was notorious for being hyperactive and excited by many things, especially Christmas. My three brothers and parents would rather have received a full night's rest on Christmas Eve, but I could not wait for the festivities to begin, so I pulled them out of bed every Christmas morning to gather in the living room. One advantage of being an over-active child growing up in a house full of shy boys was that the extrovert got most of the attention on Christmas day. I was happy to be the boy who enjoyed the spotlight on those brisk Iowa mornings.
Over the years I evolved for myself the role of Santa's little helper. The presents with their colorful ribbons and bows sat under the three-week-old evergreen, waiting for me to distribute them to their anxious recipients. I discovered that, if I grabbed the Santa Claus hat that sat under the tree and handed out the gifts to my brothers and parents, they would begin opening their presents first, and I could watch my gifts pile up in a designated area of the living room. After my parents and brothers opened their gifts, all eyes were on me, which met my need for attention. Naturally enough I grew to love handing out gifts on Christmas morning.
Although the scene I am describing from my childhood sounds like something I would eventually outgrow, my job as Santa's little helper continued into adulthood. It was this way each year of my life, even after I went off to college. I never lost my enthusiasm for Christmas and handing out gifts. However, things were drastically different on Christmas morning four years ago. When I was twenty, I began losing my sight from diabetic retinopathy. Three weeks after being officially pronounced "legally blind" by the eye doctors, I returned home for Christmas. After becoming blind, I believed my life was over. Christmas no longer seemed so wonderful.
That Christmas morning my family sat in silence around me as I stared at the blurry lights of the Christmas tree. The silence in the room seemed louder than all the laughter of other years combined. My younger brother cleared his throat and somberly asked, "So who is going to hand out the presents?" I felt a tear well up in my eye. I did not want to ruin Christmas for my family, but my sadness inevitably placed a damper on the day for everyone. It was clear that Santa's little helper was not able to see the names on the gift tags.
Not wanting my family to see my tears, I turned away from the lighted tree and looked out the window. Something on the tree caught a ray of sunlight and focused my attention. It was one of the glass ornaments with the gold accents that my mother loved. Through the years some of them had broken in the rough-and-tumble play of the four boys. Mom had always warned us to be careful around the glass ornaments. This year the warning was to be careful around me, for I was so fragile that I too might break.
I lost my sight in the middle of my college career and was forced to withdraw from classes. Having been able to see for twenty years and not knowing how to be blind, I discovered that my life had significantly changed in a span of two months. My family recognized that I was unhappy after losing my sight, and with no exposure to blind people, they did not know how to help me. They made sure not to talk about my eyes or blindness, thinking that it would pain me to talk about the thing that made me sad. I believed that blindness would take away my strength and that I would no longer be a confident young man, full of energy and plans for the future. It would be a while before I realized that my life was not fundamentally different just because I was blind.
The next year brought more changes and adjustments. As Christmas drew near, I had lost the remainder of my sight. I had accepted that I was blind but believed I was limited by my blindness. I tried to enjoy my second Christmas as a blind person, but I was still saddened not to wear the Santa Claus hat and hand out presents. I had my mother place me in a chair near her and describe the gifts I received. I was not accustomed to accept my gifts passively from someone else. Somberness loomed in the living room, and I continued to feel as breakable as my mother's glass ornaments.
Although I had begun to accept my blindness, I had not found the National Federation of the Blind and thus did not understand that my life need not be limited by blindness. During the following year I would attend the Iowa Department for the Blind's Orientation Center, return to college as a full-time student, and discover the philosophy of the National Federation of the Blind. I attended my first national convention and became active in my local NFB chapter. I met thousands of people who were not letting blindness stop them from accomplishing their goals. The success of the blind people I met inspired me to challenge myself.
I was proud to graduate from the University of Iowa in December after completing a semester full of difficult classes. My performance in those classes was far better than any other semester's performance—even those in which I could see. My success in college was just one part of my success in life. In that year I grew as a person and gained back all the strength and confidence I had lost. For the first time in two years I was hopeful about the future, and I understood that most problems are only problems until one finds the solution. With this new philosophy I knew that if blind people were finding ways to be doctors, engineers, and lawyers, there was bound to be a way for me to be Santa's little helper.
The next Christmas Eve I pulled out my slate and stylus, hurried my mom to the kitchen, and revealed my plan to her. I would Braille labels for all of the gifts under the tree. Excitement radiated from my mother as she slipped into the living room to retrieve some of the presents. We worked for about an hour, labeling all of the gifts in Braille. My mother recognized the significance of Braille as she saw how easy it was to label the things I had once read with my eyes. Braille would save the day.
Christmas morning came, and I waited in anticipation just as I had when I was five years old. In the past year my brother and his wife had had a son, and I wanted my nephew's first Christmas to be like the ones I grew up with. I searched for the Santa Claus hat and put it on. I reached for a present and felt the familiar dots of my name. A smile crossed my face as I thought of the gifts that would pile up in my designated area. Although some of the attention was on my new nephew, I could feel the pride in the room as my family recognized what I had accomplished in the last year.It was not long before I heard my mother express her worry that my nephew would grab one of her glass ornaments. She would hate for any more of them to break and for him to get hurt. My mother's concern reminded me that I had felt like one of those glass ornaments just a year earlier. The National Federation of the Blind has shown me that blindness does not weaken a person; it had only made me stronger. I was no longer a delicate glass ornament, but a stronger version of the boy who had demanded that he be Santa's little helper.
by Estelle Shukert
From the Editor: One of the benefits of being the editor of the Braille Monitor is the occasional note of thanks that comes from people whose lives have been made better by our publication. Sometimes I read them, write a brief reply telling them how much I appreciate the note, and file it away. Sometimes I send it to President Maurer if I think it is something he ought to see. In this case, however, I thought sharing it with readers of the Braille Monitor appropriate, so here it is:
October 22, 2013
To the Editor of the Braille Monitor,
First I would like to thank you for the Braille Monitor. I receive it on the thumb drive and enjoy the stories and articles. I would like to thank you for including one of my articles about three or four months ago. I was looking for Braille Pen Pals or Braille Buddies to help me use and keep up my Braille skills. Because of your article I currently have two Braille Buddies from Hungary, one possibly from Poland, and a Pen Pal from Nebraska. It's a wonderful way to meet others and share concerns and successes.
I attend the senior program at the Colorado Center for the Blind in Littleton, Colorado. I still have a fair amount of vision but am trying to get prepared for the time when I will need to depend on the Braille and other skills we learn at the center. The support and encouragement we get at the center is very helpful, and they have definitely become a second family for me.
I have a request. I am interested in buying a Braille dictionary. I know some of them include many volumes and are quite expensive but wondered if someone might have a set that they no longer need. If so, they are welcome to call me at (303) 789-7538 or send me an email: <[email protected]> so we could discuss the possibility.
Thank you again for helping so many of us feel connected to the world. Blessings and best wishes,
by Barbara High
From the Editor: Ed McDonald is no stranger to members of the National Federation of the Blind, and word of his entry into the National Federation of the Blind of West Virginia’s Hall of Fame comes as no shock to us. What makes this event meaningful to Ed is the recognition given by his colleagues; what makes it even more special is that now the public in Ed’s hometown know about the honor, and through this message they now know more about the National Federation of the Blind. With permission we are gladly reprinting this article, taken from the Mineral Daily News Tribune:
The National Federation of the Blind of West Virginia got a new member in 1969—Edgar McDonald. What they didn't know at the time was that they had gained a loyal member who would bring about great change over the next forty four years. It is McDonald's hard work and dedication that recently earned him an induction into the National Federation of the Blind's Hall of Honors. McDonald says the induction meant a lot to him because it is people he has worked with and been friends with over the years who voted him in.
"The fact that they think enough of me to vote for me means a lot; it's significant," he said. McDonald says it has meant a great deal to him to be involved in the organization. "I learned about being blind as a political issue rather than a medical one," he said. McDonald said that he has tried to change social "barriers" and the public's view on the blind. "I came to understand that by talking to other blind people and working collectively, you get more done." Getting more done is exactly what McDonald has done in his years of service to the organization. McDonald served as president of the West Virginia affiliate from 1991 to 2002. Under his leadership NEWSLINE for the Blind® was brought to West Virginia with the addition of the Huntington Herald Dispatch. McDonald was also a driving force in getting the Braille Bill pushed through the West Virginia Legislature and signed into law. McDonald also had the distinction of serving on the national board of the National Federation of the Blind from 1994 to 1997. He currently serves as chairperson of the Agency Partnership Committee and is also serving as the first vice president of the National Federation of the Blind of West Virginia and as president of the Members-at-Large Chapter."It's humbling in a way," says McDonald. "But now that I got that to live up to, if I don't step it up they might kick me out," he laughs. McDonald's nomination said he was an integral and essential part of the Federation family and most deserving of the honor for changing what it means to be blind. For McDonald, that is just a part of everyday life. "I try to live my life in a way that says I am blind and still out living my life. Being blind is a part of my life, a big part," says McDonald, "but I am not a blind guy, I am a guy who happens to be blind."
by Curtis Chong
From the Editor: When I joined the National Federation of the Blind back in 1972, one of our major affiliate projects was to build a float and march in the annual American Royal Parade. The reactions we got were uniformly positive, but we discontinued our annual participation because it seemed to us that showing the public we could walk in a parade was less significant than it once was. Reading this article from Curtis Chong causes me to question our decision and reveals just how surprised and excited the public is to see us participating in public events and walking proudly on our own.
Curtis Chong has lived in many states, and, wherever he goes, he is an active part of chapter and affiliate activities. He now lives in New Mexico and has taken on the task of writing about the affiliate’s participation in the New Mexico State Fair. Here is what he says:
In the National Federation of the Blind we have a motto which says, "We are changing what it means to be blind." We give substance to this motto through the many local, state, and national activities we undertake in the Federation to educate the public about the true nature of blindness. We want the public to abandon the perception of blindness as symbolizing hopelessness, helplessness, and dependence; we work to promote the image of the average blind person as someone who can work hard, contribute to the community, move about independently, and take leadership.
Since 2005 the National Federation of the Blind of New Mexico has been creating new public perceptions about blindness by marching in the annual New Mexico State Fair Parade. Each September, as the New Mexico State Fair gets under way, Federationists from across the state come to Albuquerque to march in the annual parade and by their participation demonstrate to the public that blindness does not prevent a person from walking the two-mile route—and at a rather fast clip at that. We are proud that in 2006, 2009, and 2011, we were awarded for being the largest non-high school marching unit in the parade.
September 14, 2013, began as a cloudy, rainy day. This did not dampen the spirits of our State Fair marchers. Preparations for the parade started the night before when a hard-working crew, led by Alexia Switzer (our Parents of Blind Children division president), decorated our diamond float—diamond representing the seventy-fifth year of the New Mexico State Fair. In addition to its flashy appearance, the float was large enough to accommodate those among us who would have difficulty walking in the parade given the two-mile route and the fast pace of the march. This year was the first in which Federationists who used wheelchairs were able to participate.
Sixty-three Federationists and one guide dog arrived at the New Mexico State Fair early Saturday morning to participate in this year's march. We chartered two small buses to make it easier for Federationists to gather together and get themselves organized for the trip. The bulk of our group met at a shopping mall, climbed aboard our two buses, and negotiated the chaotic throng of people and vehicles to get to our spot in the parade line. There were four families with blind children who participated, proudly walking with their white canes. Marchers carried signs saying things like "NFB," "Meet the Blind," and "Success." Some signs had a foot-high picture of Whozit on them.
Leading the charge was our blue National Federation of the Blind banner, carried by four Federationists, among them Adelmo Vigil, president of the National Federation of the Blind of New Mexico. The banner prominently displayed our Whozit logo and the name National Federation of the Blind. Behind the banner was our twenty-foot float, surrounded by Federationists who walked in front of, alongside, and behind it.
It took about forty-five minutes for us to complete the route, walking at a fairly fast pace. We were well received by the crowd lining the route. Many people shouted "Good morning," or "Nice job," as the marchers passed by, and we were often greeted with enthusiastic applause. Federationists smiled and waved to the crowd even though, toward the end, some of us were beginning to feel a little tired.
Although there is a lot of work involved in planning for and marching in a parade of this type, we believe that it is well worth the effort. The crowd who comes out to watch the parade is always friendly, and it’s a great way for us to show them who we are. Many of these people have probably never met a blind person, but, because we’re out and marching, they see a group of enthusiastic, mobile, and independent people who just happen to be blind—just another way to change what it means to be blind.
From the Editor: From time to time Miss Whozit answers reader questions about etiquette and good manners, particularly as they involve blindness. If you would like to pose a question to Miss Whozit, you can send it to the attention of Gary Wunder, National Federation of the Blind, 200 East Wells Street, at Jernigan Place, Baltimore, Maryland 21230, or email me at <[email protected]>. I will pass the questions along. Letters may be edited for space and clarity. Here is the most recent letter Miss Whozit has received:
Dear Ms. Whozit,
I have an issue that has troubled me for years and has recently surfaced again. I have been blind from birth and have never observed the beauty of a smile except when touching the happy, upturned cheeks of a child.
My question, almost too embarrassing to ask, is, how does one appropriately smile? Some would say that a smile is natural, but my experience suggests that this isn’t necessarily so. More broadly, how does one ensure that the emotion felt is being appropriately conveyed visually? Two stories will explain what motivates my questions.
When my daughter was applying to colleges, she was turned down by some and accepted by others. Her SAT score was low, and one of the schools that accepted her did so because she was classified as a minority and did so despite their published SAT score requirement. They followed up with letters saying how they really wanted her to be one of their students and couldn’t wait until she became a bear—their team mascot.
Believing that I should tell her what I thought she was up against, I tried to explain that her low SAT score might mean she would have trouble at this prestigious school. Her answer was, “But, Dad, can’t you see by these letters that they want me?” Feeling terrible and trying to express myself as clearly and sincerely as I could, I explained that the letters resulted from the calculated use of an automated tool and that no one was really sitting down to write with her specifically in mind. As I was saying all of this, she jumped up and yelled, “Dad, why are you smiling? Do you think this is funny?” In tears she ran to her room—almost in tears I sat immobile, trying to figure out what I had done wrong and what I might have done differently. What skill had I failed to employ? I had broken myself as a child of the hand-in-the-eye and the head-down or on-the-desk behaviors because I was told that they were odd or disrespectful to the person I was speaking with. Had I ignored some other advice that might have saved me this smiling heartbreak?
My second problem is much the same and has to do with taking pictures. I am always told to smile, but, if I really try to produce the smile that conveys the happiness I’m feeling and therefore trying to express, I am likely to receive comments like “Now, be serious,” or “When you smile like that, you look like a monkey or a grinning little boy.” Again, what did I miss, and, rather than crying over these problems, how can I learn what others seem to expect as instinctive behavior?
Puzzled but still smiling
Well you do have yourself in a stew. The good news is that I think that your two experiences are manifestations of one difficulty: judging how much and when to smile. The first thing to remember is that human beings fall along a spectrum of how and how much they smile. Some people hardly ever crack a smile, while others smile almost all the time, and the good news is that, as far as Miss Whozit can tell, where a person falls on this continuum has nothing to do with blindness. You may have to ask a trusted friend for feedback about how much you smile, but you can try sneaking up on yourself mentally when you are at rest. When it occurs to you to conduct the experiment, freeze your mouth in its relaxed position, and check on whether or not you seem to have the corners of your mouth tucked up in a smile. If so, you will probably be told that you generally look pleasant or that you mostly smile. If you are among the poker-faced, you will feel it unnatural to contract those smile muscles.
Once you are familiar with how it feels to smile, you can check yourself in serious conversations to be sure that your mouth has not tightened up into a smile. I suspect that your painful experience with your daughter had much more to do with the overwrought emotions of a teenager hearing painful truths than with inappropriate smiling on your part.
If you still lack confidence in your ability to judge the presence and size of your smile, spend time listening to the voices of other people. You can often actually tell from a person’s voice how broadly he or she is smiling. A common piece of advice given to people who talk a lot on the telephone is to smile before picking up the receiver. You can hear a lilt and warmth in the voice of someone answering the phone. See if you can reproduce that lilt while smiling into the phone. Listen to the voice of a person telling a funny joke. You can hear the smile gathering and bursting into a laugh. Listen to people talking with babies. They almost always automatically smile at the baby. You will do so as well if you try talking to a baby. If you pay attention to others’ voices as they are smiling, you will come to understand how to reproduce the various degrees of smiles. You can always check out your impressions with an honest friend. He or she can tell you if you smile appropriately or how to modify your smiling to fit social norms.
As for smiling in photographs, Miss Whozit has observed that many people struggle with artificial expressions on their faces during a photography session. A good photographer can catch you at the moment when you relax into a natural expression. People who do not like to have their picture taken usually fall into this group. Trying to force a smile is usually disastrous. It may be, however, that you will find that all this analysis of degrees of smiles will teach you how to reproduce a pleasant rather than a goofy smile on demand.
You did not mention whether you are totally blind. I suspect that you are and that you may also benefit from considering whether or not you keep your eyes open when having a photo taken. This is a problem for many people, and some totally blind people have simply given up the struggle to keep their eyes wide open for photos. Miss Whozit’s only comment is that having our eyes open during photography sessions makes our loved ones very happy. Learning to do so may be worth the effort.
by James Gashel
From the Editor: James Gashel is secretary of the National Federation of the Blind and chairs the Dr. Jacob Bolotin Awards committee. Here is his announcement about the 2014 Bolotin Awards program:
The National Federation of the Blind is pleased to announce that applications are now being accepted for the Dr. Jacob Bolotin Awards. These prestigious awards, granted each year as funds permit, recognize individuals, corporations, organizations, or other entities for outstanding work of excellence on behalf of the blind in the United States. The public recognition ceremony will be held during the 2014 annual convention of the National Federation of the Blind in Orlando, Florida. Each recipient will be given a cash award in an amount determined by the Dr. Jacob Bolotin Award Committee and will also be honored with an engraved medallion and plaque.
Dr. Bolotin was a pioneering blind physician who practiced in the early twentieth century, and the awards which now bear his name are made possible through the generosity of his late nephew and niece. Their bequest, the Alfred and Rosalind Perlman Trust, allows the National Federation of the Blind to recognize and support the most outstanding individuals and projects working to improve opportunities for blind people in the United States, consistent with Dr. Bolotin’s pioneering example.
As chronicled in his biography, The Blind Doctor by Rosalind Perlman, Bolotin fought ignorance and prejudice to gain entrance to medical school and the medical profession. He became one of the most respected physicians in Chicago during his career, which spanned the period from 1912 until his death in 1924. He was particularly known for his expertise in diseases of the heart and lungs. Bolotin used his many public speaking engagements to advocate for employment of the blind and their full integration into society. Interested in young people in general and blind youth in particular, Dr. Bolotin established the first Boy Scout troop consisting entirely of blind boys and served as its leader.
Jacob Bolotin’s wife Helen had a sister whose husband died suddenly, leaving her to raise a son, Alfred Perlman. The Perlmans moved in with the Bolotins when Alfred was eleven, and for four years (until Jacob Bolotin's untimely death at the age of thirty-six), "Uncle Jake" became Alfred's surrogate father. Alfred later married Rosalind, and the couple worked on a book about Dr. Bolotin's life. After Alfred's death in 2001, Rosalind dedicated the rest of her life to completing and publishing the book. Then upon her death and as part of her will, Rosalind left a bequest to the Santa Barbara Foundation and the National Federation of the Blind to produce Dr. Bolotin's biography and establish the Dr. Jacob Bolotin Award program. Her book, The Blind Doctor: The Jacob Bolotin Story, has been published by and is available from Blue Point Books <www.BluePointBooks.com>.
In 2014 the National Federation of the Blind will again recognize individuals and organizations that have distinguished themselves in accordance with the criteria established to receive the Dr. Jacob Bolotin Award. The committee will determine both the number of awards and the value of each award presented. The Federation determines the total amount to be distributed each year based on income received from the trust supporting the award program. The award categories for each year are blind individuals, sighted individuals, and organizations, corporations, or other entities. Individuals may apply on their own behalf or may submit a third party nomination, or the committee may also consider other individual or organizational candidates.
Individuals: Only individuals over eighteen years of age may be considered for a Dr. Jacob Bolotin Award. Applicants must demonstrate that they have shown substantial initiative and leadership in improving the lives of the blind. Examples of such initiative include but are not limited to developing products, technologies, or techniques that increase the independence of the blind; directing quality programs or agencies for the blind; or mentoring other blind people. All individual applicants or third-party applicants nominating other individuals must demonstrate that the work to be recognized has been conducted within the twelve months preceding the application and/or that the work is continuing. Applications by or on behalf of individuals must include at least one letter of recommendation from a person familiar with or directly affected by the work to be recognized.
Organizations: Organizations may apply for a Dr. Jacob Bolotin Award in order to further programs, services, technology, or techniques of unique and outstanding merit that have assisted and will continue to assist the blind. Applications from third parties nominating an organization will also be considered. The organization category includes corporations, nonprofit organizations, or other entities, such as a specific division within an organization. Organizations or third-party applicants must demonstrate that the programs or services to be recognized include substantial participation by blind people as developers, mentors, administrators, or executives, and not merely as clients, consumers, or beneficiaries. For example, an organization operating a program for blind youth might demonstrate that a substantial number of the counselors, teachers, or mentors involved in the program are blind. The organization or third-party applicant must demonstrate that it has substantially aided blind people within the twelve months prior to application and that an award would support efforts to build on previous successes. The application must also include at least one testimonial from a blind person who has benefited substantially from the programs or services.
To qualify for an award both individuals and organizations must be headquartered in the United States of America, and their work must primarily benefit the blind of the United States.
More information, including an online application, can be found on the National Federation of the Blind website at <https://www.nfb.org/bolotin-award-main>.
Online submission of nominations, letters of support, and other relevant materials is strongly encouraged, but applications sent by mail and postmarked by the deadline will also be accepted. The 2014 deadline for application submission is March 31. Recipients chosen by the committee will be individually notified of their selection no later than May 15. Receipt of all complete applications will be acknowledged; only those applicants chosen to receive an award will be contacted by May 15. All decisions of the Dr. Jacob Bolotin Award committee are final.
The awards will be presented in July during the annual convention of the National Federation of the Blind. Individuals selected to receive an award must appear in person, not send a representative. Organizations may send an individual representative, preferably their chief executive officer. Recipient candidates must confirm in writing that they will appear in person to accept the award at the National Federation of the Blind annual convention. Failure to confirm attendance for the award presentation by June 1 will result in forfeiture of the award.
Those employed full-time by the National Federation of the Blind may not apply for a Dr. Jacob Bolotin Award for work performed within the scope of their employment. Students may not apply for both a Dr. Jacob Bolotin Award and a National Federation of the Blind Scholarship in the same year.
by David Ticchi
From the Editor: Dr. David Ticchi is an experienced educator in his own right. He was named Blind Educator of the Year in 1998. He chairs the 2014 Blind Educator of the Year Award selection committee. This is what he says:
A number of years ago the Blind Educator of the Year Award was established by the National Organization of Blind Educators (the educators division of the National Federation of the Blind) to pay tribute to a blind teacher whose exceptional classroom performance, notable community service, and uncommon commitment to the NFB merit national recognition. Beginning with the 1991 presentation, this award became an honor bestowed by our entire movement. The change reflects our recognition of the importance of good teaching and the impact an outstanding blind teacher has on students, faculty, community, and all blind Americans.
This award is presented in the spirit of the outstanding educators who founded and have continued to nurture the National Federation of the Blind and who, by example, have imparted knowledge of our strengths to us and raised our expectations. We have learned from Dr. Jacobus tenBroek, Dr. Kenneth Jernigan, and President Marc Maurer that a teacher not only provides a student with information but also provides guidance and advocacy. The recipient of the Blind Educator of the Year Award must exhibit all of these traits and must advance the cause of blind people in the spirit and philosophy of the National Federation of the Blind.
The Blind Educator of the Year Award is presented at the annual convention of the National Federation of the Blind. Honorees must be present to receive an appropriately inscribed plaque and a check for $1,000.
Nominations should be sent to Dr. David A. Ticchi, Newton North High School, 457 Walnut Street, Newtonville, MA 02460. Letters of nomination must be accompanied by a copy of the nominee's current résumé and supporting documentation of community and Federation activity. All nomination materials must be in the hands of the committee chairman by May 1, 2014, to be considered for this year's award. For further information contact David Ticchi at (617) 559-6253.
by Cathy Jackson
From the Editor: Cathy Jackson chairs the committee to select the Distinguished Educator of Blind Children for 2014.
The National Federation of the Blind will recognize an outstanding teacher of blind children at our 2014 convention next July. The winner of this award will receive an expense-paid trip to the convention, a check for $1,000, an appropriate plaque, and an opportunity to make a presentation about the education of blind children to the National Organization of Parents of Blind Children.
Anyone who is currently teaching or counseling blind students or administering a program for blind children is eligible to receive this award. It is not necessary to be a member of the National Federation of the Blind to apply. However, the winner must attend the national convention. Teachers may be nominated by colleagues, supervisors, or friends. The letter of nomination should explain why the teacher is being recommended for this award.
The education of blind children is one of our most important concerns. Attendance at a National Federation of the Blind convention will enrich a teacher's experience by affording him or her the opportunity to take part in seminars and workshops on educational issues, to meet other teachers who work with blind children, to meet parents, and to meet blind adults who have had experiences in a variety of educational programs. Help us recognize a distinguished teacher by distributing this form and encouraging teachers to submit their credentials. We are pleased to offer this award and look forward to applications from many well-qualified educators.
Please complete the application and attach the following:
Deadline: May 15, 2014
City, State, Zip:_________________________________________________
City, State, Zip:_________________________________________________
Use a separate sheet of paper to answer the following:
Email is strongly encouraged for transmitting nominations; letters of support and other relevant materials should be included as attachments. Applications sent by mail and postmarked by the deadline will also be accepted. Send all material by May 15, 2014, to Cathy Jackson, Chairperson, Teacher Award Committee, <[email protected]> or by mail to 210 Cambridge Drive, Louisville, Kentucky 40214-2809; (502) 366-2317.
by Marc Maurer
Recently I obtained a pumpkin and cut it in half, scooped out the seeds, and baked it in the oven until the flesh of the pumpkin was tender. I scraped the flesh out of the skin and made a pumpkin pie with part of it. I mentioned this to my daughter Dianna, emphasizing the unused portion of the pumpkin, and she sent me the following vegetable pumpkin soup recipe:
1 onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 can navy beans
Kernels of 3 ears of corn cut off the cob or a medium bag of frozen kernel corn
8 ounces fresh mushrooms, sliced
5 small potatoes, peeled and cut in bite-size dice
1 small bag of baby carrots, sliced
1 teaspoon dried sage
1 1-pound can pumpkin purée (or 2 cups of fresh pumpkin if you have it)
4 cups chicken stock
1 cup skim milk
Salt and pepper to taste
Method: In oil sauté chopped onion and red pepper for about two minutes. Add corn, mushrooms, and navy beans and cook for another two minutes. Then add remaining ingredients and cook for twenty-five minutes or until vegetables are tender. Add salt and pepper to taste and serve hot with crusty Italian bread.
This month’s recipes have been provided by members of the NFB of Nevada.
Spinach and Artichoke Dip
by Anthony Pascual
Anthony Pascual is the president of the Henderson Chapter of the National Federation of the Blind of Nevada.
1 jar or can artichoke hearts, drained and diced
1 box frozen spinach, thawed, squeezed dry, and chopped
1 8-ounce package cream cheese
Method: In a mixing bowl place cream cheese, microwave for one minute, and add drained and diced artichoke hearts and spinach. Mix well. Sprinkle on garlic powder to taste. I enjoy this with garlic bread, but you can get creative with chips or crackers. Serves four.
Fettuccini Alfredo Sauce
by Anthony Pascual
1 quart heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup romano cheese, freshly grated
1/2 cup parmesan cheese, freshly grated
4 ounces cream cheese
Garlic powder to taste
Method: In a medium saucepan pour whipping cream and heat on medium until warm enough to melt cheeses. Pour all cheeses into cream and stir gently until well blended. Sprinkle in garlic powder to taste. Serves four.
Chicken Main Dish
by William Harmon
William Harmon is a past president of the NFB of Nevada.
3/4 cup uncooked rice
1 cut-up chicken or equivalent amount of chicken pieces
1 can condensed cream of chicken soup
1 envelope dry onion soup
1 soup can of milk
¼ cup cooking sherry, optional
Method: Place the rice in a large, greased casserole dish. Arrange the chicken pieces on top. Mix the soup, milk, and sherry together and pour over the chicken. Cover. Bake at 350 degrees for 2 hours. Uncover and bake 30 minutes more to brown the chicken. Serves 4.
Saucy Baked Pork Chops
by William Harmon
4 to 6 pork chops
1 can condensed cream of chicken soup
1 cup onion, chopped
3 tablespoons ketchup
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
Method: Brown the pork chops in a skillet. Drain excess fat. Combine remaining ingredients and pour over chops. Cover. Bake at 350 degrees for forty-five minutes or simmer on top of range for thirty minutes. Serves 4 to 6.
by William Harmon
1 pound Velveeta cheese
1 can tomato soup
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
Method: Grate Velveeta or cut into small pieces. Place cheese in saucepan. Add remaining ingredients and cook over low heat until cheese melts. Stir occasionally. Serve warm with pizza or meatball-flavored crackers.
by Rena Smith
Rena Smith is president of the NFB of Nevada. She reports that her grandmother, who never measured anything, taught her to cook. She does not care for cooking, but it’s healthier and less expensive than dining out. She comments that, if you are a greens lover, this recipe is for you.
1 bunch kale
1 bunch collard greens
1 bunch turnip greens
1 bunch mustard greens
Turkey or ham hocks stock
1 stick butter
Crushed red pepper to taste
Method: Wash greens thoroughly. Cut them up and place in a pot of boiled smoked turkey parts or ham hocks. Add crushed red peppers to taste and butter or margarine. Let greens simmer until tender, about three hours.
by Rena Smith
2 cups yellow corn meal
1 cup flour
1 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons sugar, optional
2 cups milk
Method: Mix all ingredients until smooth, Pour into a greased bread pan and place in 350-degree oven for about thirty minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Both these dishes can be served with a pot roast or fried chicken.
by Elsie Spell
Elsie Spell is the daughter-in-law of Rena Smith. She says this recipe is delicious:
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 onion, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons green curry paste
6 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 15-ounce can coconut milk
1 tablespoon fish sauce, plus more to taste
2 red bell peppers, thinly sliced
4 ounces thin rice noodles, broken into pieces
2 small skinless, boneless chicken breasts (about 1 pound), very thinly sliced crosswise
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice, plus more to taste
1 cup roughly chopped fresh cilantro
2014 Washington Seminar:
This notice comes to the Braille Monitor courtesy of Diane McGeorge.
The 2014 Washington Seminar will be held on Monday, January 27, through January 30, 2014. As in previous years it will be held at the Holiday Inn Capitol at 550 C Street SW, Washington, DC 20024. The Great Gathering-In will begin Monday afternoon at 5:00 PM in the Columbia Room on the first floor of the Holiday Inn Capitol and will adjourn at 7:00 PM. Legislative appointments should be made for Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday in the Senate and House office buildings. Meetings for NFB members to review the legislative progress and provide guidance will occur Tuesday and Wednesday evenings.
Room rates at the Holiday Inn Capitol are $177 for single, double, triple, or quad rooms with a 14.5 percent tax per night. Please do not contact the hotel to make your reservations. To make your reservation, you may call (303) 778-1130, extension 219, or email Lisa Bonderson at <[email protected]>. Room reservations must be made by December 17, 2013. If you wish to have room space for meetings prior to or during the seminar, please have those requests in to Lisa Bonderson by December 17, 2013.
National Federation of the Blind Deaf-Blind Division Launches Operation Outreach:
The Deaf-Blind Division has been hard at work since the National Convention putting together a plan to advance our deaf-blind projects. Before the 2014 convention the division intends to:
To make all this happen, we need two things: first, we need the help and support of every state affiliate. Second, we would appreciate names, addresses, and email addresses so we can make contact to determine the level of interest on the part of each deaf-blind individual in each state affiliate.
We want to keep it simple. We have been fortunate that members of the Deaf-Blind Division have stepped forward and have offered their assistance and dedication to Operation Outreach. The board could not have done this without their support. We need every helping hand. We have been excited by the progress we have received so far. People are starting to take notice of the deaf-blind and their issues.
Each member of the Deaf-Blind Division who is participating in Operation Outreach has been given the names of state affiliate presidents to contact. Affiliate presidents now have the opportunity to name a person to be committee chair for their affiliates, keep in contact with the Deaf-Blind Division, and be responsible for Operation Outreach in their state, as well as assisting the affiliate in establishing a committee and eventually a division in that state. At this time all fifty state affiliates have been contacted. All affiliate presidents who were present at the national convention were given introductory letters introducing them to Operation Outreach. They were then contacted post-convention to establish a relationship with their national Deaf-Blind Division contact person and to answer any questions they may have or discuss the logistics of establishing a committee in their state.
Operation Outreach is a very important project for the NFB and the Deaf-Blind Division. It will help to address the needs of the deaf-blind and ensure them equal access. As we say in the NFB Deaf-Blind Division, “We’re changing what it means to be deaf-blind.”
Thank you to all who support Operation Outreach. If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact us at any time. President Joe Naulty can be reached at (321) 768-9500 or <[email protected]>.
The New York Association of Guide Dog Users held elections recently with the following results: president, Jessica Snyder; first vice president, Margo Downey; second vice president, Joyce Carrico; secretary/treasurer, Lucy Mar; and member at large, Cheryl Echevarria.
Blind Author Offers a Book to Change Attitudes:
Ever wish you could do something to make sighted people just get it? What would it take to create a quantum shift in the level of fear, pity, low expectations, and negativity regularly displayed by the sighted world? Try giving them a good story for the holidays, like The Heart of Applebutter Hill by Donna W. Hill (http://donnawhill.com/). An adventure-mystery for general audiences, it features a 14-year-old legally blind heroine. The Heart of Applebutter Hill is not a "coming-to-terms-with-blindness story." The adventure could have happened to a sighted kid. If the author, who was born legally blind, had been willing to write blindness out of the story, she wouldn't have had to self-publish it.
The Heart of Applebutter Hill has received recommendations from professionals in the fields of education, rehabilitation, and the arts as a valuable resource for diversity-inclusivity and anti-bullying initiatives in colleges and secondary schools. Recommenders include Louisiana School for the Blind Braille teacher and author Jerry Whittle, NFB Writers' Division president and chair of the NFB's Communications Committee Robert Leslie Newman, Future Reflections editor and novelist Deborah Kent Stein, and web accessibility expert Dr. Brian Wentz. You can read their comments at: <http://donnawhill.com/recommenders-of-the-heart-of-applebutter-hill-from-professionals-in-education-rehabilitation-the-arts/>.
The holiday shopping season is upon us, and you have a great opportunity to influence public opinion, support a blind author, and share an exciting adventure-mystery. The proceeds from The Heart of Applebutter Hill provide Braille books for blind students.
Throughout history, from Uncle Tom's Cabin and Oliver Twist to Roots and Children of a Lesser God, fiction has played a major role in enlightening the general public about social justice issues. The privacy and intimacy inherent in reading will provide a safe place for people to confront their own prejudice and to develop an intuitive understanding that blind people have valuable and unpredictable contributions to make in all aspects of life as employees, students, coworkers, citizens, and friends.
You may obtain a copy of this book from Amazon and/or Bookshare. Buy, share, and read.
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.
To Prospective NASA Student Interns with Disabilities:
NASA is looking to increase the number of students with disabilities pursuing science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) careers through our internship programs. NASA has a 2 percent hiring goal for employment of people with disabilities, and internships are a good way to get experience. Students can apply for summer 2014 internships right this very minute. The deadline for submitting applications is Friday, March 14, 2014, and we will begin extending offers to students as early as Monday, February 3, 2014. We encourage you to apply early because the best opportunities are likely to be filled early. Plus, your likelihood of being selected decreases the longer you wait. You can register for an account anytime at the One Stop Shopping Initiative (OSSI): NASA Internships, Fellowships, and Scholarships (NIFS) at <http://intern.nasa.gov/>. However, students will not be able to see Summer 2014 opportunities until November 1. Summer 2014 internships run from early June until early August for college students and from late June until early August for high school students. All student interns get paid. For example, last summer at Goddard college students received a stipend of $6,000 and high school students $1,800. As an intern you are responsible for your own housing. NASA internships for college and high school students are also offered during spring, fall, and year-long sessions through the OSSI website.
NASA has internships for high school students and for rising freshmen through doctoral students in STEM [science, technology, engineering, and math] fields. A rising freshman is a high school student who has been accepted to an accredited institution of higher learning, i.e., a college or university, at the time of the internship. Applicants must be US citizens, with a minimum GPA of 3.0 for college and 3.0 for high school; however, applicants must understand that the competition for internships is keen. High school students must be at least sixteen years old at the time the internship begins.
Internships are available at all NASA centers nationwide. Students can submit a completed application, whether they apply to a specific opportunity or not. However, applying to opportunities has the advantage of allowing applicants to be considered by mentors who work in disciplines of interest and at a particular center. Applicants may apply to as many as fifteen opportunities. For example, an opportunity having to do with the Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) will be at the Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland because SDO is located there. Not applying to an opportunity means that prospective interns will be hoping that a mentor happens to read their applications rather than directing their applications to mentors in fields and at centers of interest.
Students who are selected for summer internships will receive an offer letter by email sometime after February 3, 2014. They will then have five days to either accept or reject the offer through their OSSI: NIFS account. The offer will automatically expire after five days if no action is taken.
Please feel free to contact me for more information or help with applying:
Kenneth A. Silberman, Esq.
Education Office Code 160
NASA/GSFC Mailstop 160
Greenbelt, MD 20771
Voice: (301) 286-9281
Email: <[email protected]>
Email is preferred.
Ski for Light is Alaska Bound. Applications Are Due November 2013:
The 39th annual Ski for Light International week will be held in Anchorage, Alaska, from Sunday, February 23, through Sunday, March 2, 2014. Join over 200 active blind and sighted adults from across the U.S. and around the world who pair up for what many have called the experience of a lifetime. We will stay in downtown Anchorage at the Hilton Hotel and Conference Center and ski at nearby Kincaid Park.
This year’s event fee, including hotel accommodations for seven days, all meals and other extras will be $850. Financial stipends may be requested when completing the application, and applications are due this month. For more details and to submit your application, please visit the fully accessible web site at <www.sfl.org>.
If you need more information, please contact the Visually-Impaired Participant Application Coordinator in Michigan: Lynda Boose, (906) 370-7541, or by email at <[email protected]>
New Speak To Me Catalog:
Give the gift that says something; check out our new Fall/Winter 2013 catalog, packed with exciting gift-giving ideas. This catalog is focused on some of our newest arrivals, products that didn’t appear in our summer catalog. We are introducing a special new category of products for those of you with mobile devices that need to take your sounds on the go. You’ll find keyboards for your phone, headsets and earphones, and ways to charge and carry your books or music. Order early: this is the busiest time of the year for us. We want to make sure that all of your gift-giving desires are met with no disappointments if stock should become limited. Call us at (800) 248-9965 or visit our website at <http://www.speaktomecatalog.com> to place an order online.
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.
I have several items for sale: first, a PAC Mate Classic with 40-cell Braille display in good condition. The PAC Mate comes with a case. I am asking $1,700 (plus shipping). Second, I have a talking MaxiAids Super Cube clock for which I am asking $20 (plus shipping). Next, I have a cigarette lighter charger for the PAC Mate and mini USB cable for flash drives, and I’m asking $5 for each (plus shipping). Last, I have two one-gigabyte compact flash type II cards, for which I’m asking $5 each or both for $10 (plus shipping). Contact Jeff Rutkowski by phone at (651) 756-8684 or using email at <[email protected]>.
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.