Braille Monitor                                                    June 2008

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News from the Federation Family

PAC-ing for Convention:
Scott LaBarre is chairman of the NFB’s PAC (pre-authorized check) plan committee. He says: At the national board meeting in the fall of 1974, E.U. Parker came up with the idea of what we first called the Bank Draft Pledge System to help finance the Federation. Later terminology changed to the Pre-Authorized Check (PAC) Plan. This has come to be an ever-more important part of financing the movement. I estimate that we have raised more than $10,000,000 over the years through the PAC Plan.

For those who do not know, the PAC Plan allows members, affiliates, chapters, and others to give a regular and automatic donation to the Federation every month. All we need is identification information about a checking or savings account that permits external withdrawals that we can track with an account number and the corresponding bank’s routing number. Because of the costs associated with operating the program, the minimum donation is $5 a month, but there is no ceiling.

As long as we are packing and PAC-ing for convention, I thought readers might appreciate some perspective on where we are in the PAC program. The figures that I am reporting are current as of April 30, 2008. Currently, monthly PAC contributions would yield the Federation $357,168.48 annually. Presently we have 1,143 PAC members. Last year at this time the same annualized total was $359,022 with 1,116 members.

Allow me to speculate for a moment. If PAC members would increase their pledge by just $5 a month on average, we would raise an additional $68,580.00 for the Federation. If we could double the number of members on PAC to 2,286, with an average new pledge of $5 a month, we would raise another $68,580. So instead of $357,168.48 a year, we could raise $494,328.48 for the important work we do. The key is getting new PAC members to start with modest pledges and getting ongoing members to increase slightly.

I also want to remind folks that affiliates, chapters, and divisions can get on the PAC Plan as long as the entity has a trackable bank account. In fact, many Federation entities are on the Plan, but the number represents a very small minority of our affiliates, chapters, and divisions. Our PAC Plan is essentially our internal fundraising program, targeted primarily at our own members. The Imagination Fund, mail campaigns, and other fundraisers are aimed at the community at large.

At this year’s convention we will make a large push to grow our PAC program. In recent years we have been able to collect enough pledges at convention to raise our annualized totals to about $380,000 during the convention. Followup after convention and state conventions typically results in a few months in which annualized totals reach the $375,000 level. The trends also indicate that the annualized totals fall in advance of convention to about the current level of $357,000 to approximately $360,000. Our major focus this year will be to secure a lot of new members on PAC and make greater efforts to retain the ones we already have.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that we will once again be conducting a host of contests at this year’s convention. First, we will hold a drawing for $150 for those who initiate a new pledge on PAC during the convention and another $150 drawing for those who increase their monthly pledge during the convention. The state affiliate that has the most members either increasing their pledge or starting a new one will be awarded a trophy called the PAC Rat. Likewise, the division with the most members who increase or start a new pledge will be awarded a trophy called the PAC Mule. On the morning of July 1, 2008, at the national board meeting, we will award the PAChyderm and alPACa trophies to the large and small affiliates that, on a percentage basis, have increased their monthly totals the most. At the moment Colorado and Puerto Rico should be anticipating good things. However, competition is stiff, and who knows what will happen at the finish line?

What should you PAC for convention? If you want to start a new PAC pledge, please bring a voided check. That is the easiest way to start the Plan. Otherwise, please bring us the number of the account from which you want funds withdrawn and your bank’s ABA routing number. You can get that number by calling your bank or by looking at one of your checks or deposit slips.

If anyone has questions about the PAC program, wants to sign up or increase, or get a copy of the PAC form electronically or otherwise, please email me at <[email protected]>. A current comprehensive list of states and their pledged amounts and other information is below this paragraph. Most finally, I will take a point of personal privilege and call upon Fred Schroeder, president of the NFB of Virginia, to observe the relative standings of Colorado and Virginia.

National Federation of the Blind
PAC Report - States Ranked by Pledge
Rank; state; amount pledged; number of pledges

1. Maryland; $4,177.00; 120
2. Colorado; $2,497.00; 58
3. Virginia; $2,201.50; 71
4. Minnesota; $1,594.50; 32
5. California; $1,487.50; 72
6. Iowa; $1,435.50; 45
7. Louisiana; $1,341.00; 53
8. Missouri; $1,187.50; 36
9. South Carolina; $994.50; 69
10. Nebraska; $862.00; 37
11. New York; $862.00; 26
12. Ohio; $815.50; 31
13. Arizona; $779.00; 33
14. Texas; $712.00; 37
15. Idaho; $620.00; 19
16. Florida; $605.50; 30
17. Washington; $576.50
18. Utah; $558.00; 27
19. Michigan; $454.50; 17
20. Mississippi; $431.00; 19
21. Puerto Rico; $360.00; 2
22. Kentucky; $360.00; 16
23. North Carolina; $340.00; 22
24. Tennessee; $331.00; 13
25. Illinois; $302.00; 15
26. New Jersey; $288.00; 21
27. District of Columbia; $280.00; 5
28. Alabama; $267.00; 12
29. Georgia; $251.00; 16
30. Pennsylvania; $248.00; 16
31. Kansas; $230.00; 9
32. New Mexico; $230.00; 15
33. Oregon; $227.00; 17
34. Connecticut; $217.50; 14
35. Massachusetts; $215.00; 11
36. Wisconsin; $200.00; 10
37. Indiana; $200.00; 10
38. Montana; $190.00; 7
39. Hawaii; $142.00; 7
40. Delaware; $125.00; 6
41. Alaska; $100.00; 1
42. Oklahoma; $95.00; 5
43. South Dakota; $90.50; 8
44. Arkansas; $85.00; 4
45. Rhode Island; $57.00; 3
46. West Virginia; $45.00; 5
47. New Hampshire; $27.50; 3
48. Wyoming; $20.00; 3
49. Maine; $10.00; 2
50. North Dakota; $7.50; 1
51. Nevada; $5.00; 1

Attention Cruise Lovers:
The National Federation of the Blind of Colorado (NFBCO) invites you to set sail with us on the Carnival Cruise Lines for a weeklong pleasure-packed cruise through the Mexican Riviera. The cruise departs from Los Angeles March 1, 2009, and returns March 8. Have fun with NFB friends and family and help raise money for the NFB of Colorado.

We will cruise from Long Beach, California, through the Mexican Riviera with stops in Puerto Vallarta, Mazatlan, and Cabo San Lucas. Our journey will be aboard Carnival’s Pride. Prices range from $704 for inside cabins to $1,424 for junior suites. Prices are per person based on double occupancy. Remember these prices include taxes, fees, and gratuities. Optional insurance and shore excursions are available. A payment plan can also be established if you are interested. For every cabin the NFBCO books, we receive a substantial contribution from Carnival.

Carnival is great for singles and for families too. Moms and dads can steal a little time away by leaving their kids with Camp Carnival. There is much to choose from on board the Pride. In addition to the ship’s sixteen bars and lounges, several dining options, and four swimming pools, you can participate in one of many shore excursions or explore the destinations on your own. All cruise information will be available in alternative formats, and we are planning events especially for Federation members, their families, and friends.
Secure your spot on this great NFBCO cruise with a minimum deposit of $50 per person. Space is limited, so sign up as soon as possible. Let’s get ready for fun! For questions or to book a cabin, contact Anahit LaBarre with ETravel Unlimited at (720) 334-3652 or email <[email protected]>.

Showcase of Talent:
Adrienne Snow reports that tickets for the July 2 Showcase of Talent will be available at the Performing Arts Division table in the exhibit hall. Purchasing tickets early will improve the efficiency of the operation Wednesday evening.

Attention Veterans:
Dwight Sayer, president of the National Association of Blind Veterans, (NABV), invites all vets to the meeting of the NFB’s newest division, from 3 to 5 p.m. on Tuesday, July 1, at the NFB’s national convention. Dues will be payable at the meeting. Consult the agenda for the meeting room. For more information about the division or the meeting, go to <>.

New Chapter:
The National Federation of the Blind of Florida is pleased to announce the establishment of its Martin County Chapter in Stuart, formed on Saturday, April 12, 2008. Elected officers are president, Mark Tardif; vice president, Peter Rusillo; secretary, Marian Maat; treasurer, Richard Prince; and transportation board member, Jody Ianuzzi. They will meet on the first Friday of the month at 5:30 p.m. They are planning interesting meetings, good food, and fellowship.

The NFB of New Mexico held elections on April 13, 2008. The following officers were elected: president, Christine Hall; first vice president, Ray Marshall; second vice president, Larry Hayes; secretary, Tonia Trapp; treasurer, Kathy Byrd; and board members, Monica Martinez, Al Carter, and Vickie Buchignani.

A Tip for NFB-NEWSLINE Users:
Rich Kelly, an NFB-NEWSLINE subscriber in northern Iowa, writes as follows:

Here's a tip for NEWSLINE subscribers with Alltel cellular service. Activate your MyCircle feature and add your NFB-NEWSLINE local number to your circle. This will allow you to use your cell phone to access all NEWSLINE features without using up those precious minutes on your calling plan. This will save you and NFB-NEWSLINE money at the same time since calls to MyCircle numbers are free from the home calling area, and calls to a toll number do not generate a fee for NFB-NEWSLINE.

Even if you don’t live in an area with a local number for accessing NEWSLINE or don’t use Alltel as your cell phone service, you can save yourself and NEWSLINE money by using NEWSLINE weekends and evenings.

Specialty Pins Available:
What better way to promote your division or special interest group than with a handmade lapel pin? Diane Filipe of the NFB of Colorado’s Greeley Chapter is making pins for the following divisions, interest groups, and chapters: the Diabetes Action Network, Krafters Korner, the NFB of Texas Austin Chapter, and the National Association of Blind Veterans.

She would love to make one for your group too. You pick the shape and glaze color. Braille on the pin is optional. They are perfect on a collar or lapel, as a tie tac or even on your ID badge at convention. The pins sell for $2 with half going to the Diabetes Action Network and half for pin production. For more information contact Diane at <[email protected]>.

Swimming and Spinning at the NFB Convention:
Irish Masters/Paralympic Sports Team will be hosting a swimming and bicycle spinning event on Monday, June 30. Two thirty-minute swimming sessions will take place from 2 to 2:30 and from 3 to 3:30 at the indoor swimming pool at the Hilton Anatole. Space will be limited, so sign up soon with Annie Sawicki at (574) 876-9467 or <[email protected]>. Make sure you pack your bathing suit and sports gear for the many sports and recreation activities during convention.

Private swim lessons will be available from Sunday, June 29, through Thursday, July 3, at $10 each for ages two to ninety-nine. Irish Masters Swimming has recently invented three swim devices for sensory-impaired athletes to use to train in a straight line in the swimming pool or on the track. The product can be viewed at <> or elsewhere in this issue. More information on the product will be available during the NFB convention.

Braille-Reading Volunteers Needed:
NFB First Vice President Fred Schroeder writes as follows: I am interested in gathering information about reading speed using contracted and uncontracted Braille. I am looking for volunteers to participate in a brief reading test at our national convention this summer in Dallas. Specifically I am looking for good Braille readers, people who are able to read aloud fluently. The test will take approximately thirty minutes to administer. If you are willing to participate, please contact me at <[email protected]>.

New Chapters:
Peggy Chong writes as follows: On Tuesday, April 29, and Wednesday, April 30, two new chapters were born in Iowa. Tuesday night twenty-eight people from the Council Bluffs area gathered at the Pizza King for dinner to establish the Southwest Chapter of the NFB of Iowa. Elected were Susan Blodget, president; Chris Steinback, vice president; Lettie Hansen, secretary/treasurer; and Adrian VerBruggie and John Shelton, board members.

The Greater Mason City Chapter was formed the next day at the Bonanza Steakhouse, where twenty-six interested blind people and their families came to form the latest new chapter. Sam Foust was elected president; Eugene Kleinow, vice president; Laura Foust, secretary; Pat Kleinow, treasurer; and Wayne Vath and Robert Kennedy, board members.

We put together an organizing team in March to help strengthen our current chapters and build new ones. The team included Mike Barber, president; Joy Harris, secretary; Curtis Chong, treasurer; and Priscilla McKinley, Larry Povinelli, and Peggy Chong. Jill Clausen also joined the team to assist with the meetings. Ron Gardner, president of the NFB of Utah, came to help us pull it all together the last week in April.
First the team visited the Waterloo Chapter to bring together current chapter members and potential new Federation members. That day the Waterloo Chapter gained ten new members. Now that all this work has taken place, the next step is to ensure that all these new members get involved in the activities of the state and national movement. The NFB of Iowa has formed three new chapters since the beginning of the year. We are proud to be growing here in Iowa.

In Brief

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

National Braille Press Names Brian A. MacDonald President:
On April 8, 2008, National Braille Press’s board of trustees named Brian A. MacDonald as the company’s new president. MacDonald has been successful in operations, sales, marketing, and donor development in the not-for-profit world.

Mr. MacDonald holds an MBA in marketing and finance from Boston College and an undergraduate degree in biology from the University of Vermont and was most recently chief operating officer of New Hampshire Audubon, where he helped lead a major restructuring that included strategic planning, change management, and improved revenue generation. He also has significant experience in planned giving, business development, and building corporate partnerships. Prior to Audubon, he was the senior director of sales and revenue for over twenty years at New England Aquarium, where he managed business development, operations, sales, marketing, and international tourism for its business units. He formed and managed strategic alliances and partnerships to advance revenue and promote the aquarium’s mission.

His significant volunteer work has included four years as Essex County director of the Massachusetts Special Olympics, where he led operations, corporate development, training and regional/state competition. He founded the Northeast Whale Watching Association, authored an economic impact study, and testified before Congress on the reauthorization of the Marine Mammal Protection Act.
“After thirty-two years Bill Raeder has stepped down for a well-deserved retirement from president of this venerable Boston-based institution. Under Mr. Raeder NBP recently inaugurated a major strategic initiative to expand our offerings and to accelerate our outreach and advocacy programs. We want to emphasize the `national’ in National Braille Press. Our historical success has always included a fiscally responsible budget and the solid leadership to carry it out. Brian MacDonald has the important skills and background to apply sound business practices, and he brings advanced marketing skills and, most important, an authentic inner passion that soon will be felt within the blind community,” said Paul V. McLaughlin, chair of the board of trustees.

Mr. MacDonald added, “To be chosen to lead National Braille Press is a most welcome joy and privilege for me and my family. Because my grandmother reads Braille, I have a strong personal interest in its advancement. I realize there are challenges, especially in succeeding such a great leader as Bill Raeder. It is hoped that my leadership of the strategic plan for the future will continue to complement Bill’s vision of strengthening programs and building capacity while remembering NBP’s wonderful past.”

Pen Friend Wanted:
I am a blind naturalized U.S. citizen now living in Brazil. I would very much like to make contact with members of the NFB in the United States and abroad to chat, learn, and discuss ideas on various subjects, including music (composing and performance), radio shows, and chatting (or learning to) in languages such as English, Spanish, French, and Portuguese. My MSN is <[email protected]> and skype contact is superlove7. I would like to receive an email prior to adding if at all possible. My email address is <[email protected]>. I am also on Orkut. My profile link is <>.

USABA to Host 2008 National Sports Festival:
The United States Association of Blind Athletes (USABA) announces the 2008 National Sports Festival and Championships, to be held in Colorado Springs, Colorado, in conjunction with the State Games of the West. The Sports Festival, held at Colorado College July 22-25, will culminate with blind and visually impaired athletes integrating and competing in the Inaugural 2008 State Games of the West, hosted by the Colorado Springs Sports Corporation, July 25-27 and the 2008 Pike's Peak Swim League Last Chance Meet hosted by USABA and the Pike's Peak Swim League on July 26. The State Games of the West will include more than eight thousand sighted athletes competing in thirty-one sports. USABA athletes will compete in these games alongside these sighted athletes. We are also pleased to announce we're finalizing details on a swimming event to be conducted at the conclusion of the sports festival.

“The USABA Sports Festival provides blind and visually impaired athletes from all over the United States a unique opportunity to train and compete alongside their peers,” said USABA Executive Director Mark Lucas. “USABA coaching staff and Paralympic athletes provide participants the opportunity to hone their own athletic skills, empowering them to take the game to a higher level in their local community-based programs."

USABA athletes ages twelve and older will have the opportunity to learn and refine their abilities in various sports clinics instructed by USABA national coaches at the Sports Festival. Participants will experience a variety of sports adapted for athletes who are blind or visually impaired, including judo, powerlifting, swimming, track and field, wrestling, a 5K run/walk, and goalball (a team sport designed for those who are blind and visually impaired).

We are also proud to announce the opportunity for U.S. military and U.S. honorably discharged military veterans who incurred a service-connected vision loss to compete in these events.

Applications for the Sports Festival, the State Games of the West, and the Pike's Peak Swim League Last Chance Meet are available at <>.

Choice Magazine Listening Goes Digital:
Choice Magazine Listening, an icon to decades of blind and visually disabled readers, is one of the latest additions to the digital download pilot program sponsored by the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, part of the Library of Congress. Founded more than forty-five years ago and endowed through the Lucerna Fund, CML presents eight hours of the best current magazine writing, free of charge, six times a year. The unabridged short stories, essays, poetry, and interviews are chosen from approximately a hundred periodicals and literary journals such as the Smithsonian, The New Yorker, National Geographic, Sports Illustrated, Paris Review, and Business Week. They are read by talented actors at the studios of the American Foundation for the Blind.

“In addition to our four-track cassettes, we wanted to make Choice Magazine Listening available to a new generation of Internet users,” explained Sondra Mochson, CML Editor. The partnership with NLS provides not only a secure Website but an expanding readership of registered participants with documented print-related disabilities.

CML is among the 10,000 titles available for download in the pilot program as the NLS prepares for the transition to digital materials, which is expected to take several years. In the meantime CML appears to be a hit with NLS patrons participating in the program: in January it was the most frequently downloaded title. Details about participating in the NLS download pilot project can be obtained from local state libraries for the blind and physically handicapped.

Choice Magazine Listening continues to be available on four-track cassette. Information about a free subscription and player is available on the CML Website <>or by calling, toll-free, (888) 724-6423.

Recreational Opportunities in Vermont for Folks with Disabilities
Vermont Adaptive Ski & Sports is a nonprofit organization providing recreational opportunities for people with disabilities. We have a number of locations for summer adaptive programs throughout Vermont, located at Stoughton Pond in Springfield, Kent Pond in Rutland, and the Lake Champlain Sailing Center in Burlington. We provide opportunities to clients with a wide array of disabilities ranging from cognitive to physical disabilities. Our adaptive techniques and equipment accommodate the needs of each client. Summer programs are offered seven days a week starting in June of 2008. The summer programs provide activities in sailing, canoeing, kayaking, cycling, horseback riding, hiking, and rock climbing. Group and private outings are available, and scholarships are offered.
For more information on our programs, contact for southern Vermont Programs: Donna Stanley (802) 353-7584, <[email protected]>; for northern Vermont programs: Maggie Burke (802) 343-1193, <[email protected]>.

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

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