Braille Monitor                                                    April 2008

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Remember the Past, IMAGINE the Future
The National Organization of Parents of Blind Children (NOPBC)
Celebrates Twenty-five Years: 1983–2008

by Barbara Cheadle

Barbara Cheadle with Victoria Parson of GeorgiaFrom the Editor: Barbara Cheadle is president of the National Organization of Parents of Blind Children (NOPBC). This coming July she will retire from this position, so this is the last time she will be taking primary responsibility for planning NOPBC activities at convention. Here is her final report:

How does one imagine the unimaginable? Have you ever looked at a new gadget or piece of technology and wondered how anyone came up with the idea? Did you ever read about some social practice from ancient primitive societies?such as abandoning newborn twins because (so it was believed) they were inhabited by evil spirits?and wondered how people could ever have thought that? It is hard to imagine something new, either a physical thing, or different ways of thinking about people or the world around us.

At one time it made all the sense in the world to believe that the Earth was flat and that evil spirits caused physical and mental illnesses. To suggest otherwise would have invited being thought a fool, or worse, mad. Yet, astonishingly, history clearly demonstrates that the human race has a unique capacity to do this very thing: imagine the unimaginable.

Some of the greatest turning points in history were rooted in those moments when individuals or even small groups of people glimpsed a vision of something new, something different, something currently beyond their grasp. The unimaginable becomes a reality when an individual or a group of people pursues that vision and makes it come true; consider Martin Luther King and the civil rights movement; Mohandas Gandhi and the nonviolent movement to free India; Raymond Kurzweil and the invention of a reading machine for the blind; and Dr. Jacobus tenBroek, who with fifteen other blind men and women from seven states founded the National Federation of the Blind.

I do not believe I exaggerate when I say that a turning point in the history of the blind occurred twenty-five years ago on July 2, 1983, in Kansas City, Missouri, when parents of blind children made common cause with the organized blind and brought into being what would ultimately be known as the National Organization of Parents of Blind Children, a division of the National Federation of the Blind--the NOPBC.

From the beginning the goals were bold and imaginative; the structure and premise new, fresh, and unique. Never before (so far as I know) had a national parents organization of children with blindness (or any other disability, for that matter) chosen to be guided and mentored by an adult organization of the same disability. Our affiliation was not to be a matter of lifeless words on paper, but a living, breathing, growing, and changing relationship--parents and their blind children interacting and partnering with blind adults.
On that day we made the commitment to imagine together with the members of the National Federation of the Blind a society in which our children would be accepted as normal--with all the rights and responsibilities that this implies--and given the same opportunities as all other children to achieve their potential and pursue their dreams.

As individual families and as an organization we hitched our wagon to the star of the National Federation of the Blind, and that decision has made all the difference in the lives of thousands of blind children—some of whom are now young adults. Now, after twenty-five years, it is time to pause, take stock, reflect, take inspiration from our past successes, and consider what it is that we might imagine for the future.

Cheralyn Creer (UT) talks with her son Chase.At the 2008 NFB convention in Dallas, Texas, the NOPBC invites you—and all families and teachers of blind and visually impaired children—to celebrate our twenty-fifth anniversary with us as we “Remember the Past, IMAGINE the Future.” The day of celebration will begin in our usual style on Sunday, June 29, with workshops, seminars, and activities for every member of the family—blind kids and sighted siblings, too. Following a day full of active learning is an evening of relaxation: an informal buffet dinner with our families (kids included) and friends in the NFB and an upbeat, inspirational, yet fast-paced program highlighting twenty-five years of accomplishments.
And don’t overlook your opportunity to be a sponsor. You can honor your special child or student, express your congratulations, or send a brief message about what NOPBC has meant to you for inclusion in the commemorative program. The sponsorship form is available at

See the convention bulletin at the beginning of this issue for details about how to make room reservations at the convention hotel and how to register for the NFB convention (which is a separate fee from the NOPBC registration and a requirement in order to get convention rates). Of course, as in past years the workshops and other activities on Sunday, June 29, are only the beginning of many NOPBC-sponsored activities scheduled throughout the NFB convention. Below is a schedule of events followed by an NOPBC preregistration form:

NOPBC Schedule of Events

Day 1: Sunday, June 29
Childcare: The NFB offers childcare (NFB Camp) all day except during lunchtime on Sunday, June 29, and during other convention sessions throughout the week. Complete information, including fee schedule, age requirements, times available, and so forth, can be found in this issue. Please note that preregistration for NFB Camp is required.

NOPBC fees including dinner tickets to the Sunday night, June 29, anniversary buffet: $25 per adult, $15 per youth ages 12 and up, and $7 per child, ages 6-11. Children ages 5 and under, no charge. Tickets for the buffet dinner may not be available at registration, so please preregister. Preregistrations are due June 20, 2008.

NOPBC fees, no dinner tickets: $20 per adult, no charge for children and youth accompanied by family members. Teens accompanied by chaperones, $15 per teen.

Darick Williamson, faculty member at Louisiana Tech University, works with a little boy during the 2007 cane walk.The fee helps cover the cost of workshop materials, the packets and handouts from all NOPBC sessions, AV equipment for our speakers, the cost of our teen hospitality room, and other expenses incurred by the NOPBC at the convention.

8:00–9:00 a.m. Registration. Those who have preregistered should pick up name badges, packets, and dinner tickets at this time.

8:30 a.m. NFB Camp opens

9:00–10:30 a.m. Remember the Past, IMAGINE the Future
(general session beginning with NFB President Maurer’s famous Kid Talk session)

10:30–noon Breakout sessions. Seven concurrent 90-minute sessions for adults. Children, ages ten and up, accompanied by a parent or adult are invited to participate in these sessions too.
1. Getting Serious about Music Education: A hands-on look at the Braille music code and music software for the blind musician. Instructor, Jennifer Dunnam
2. Getting Serious about Math: A hands-on introduction to the abacus. Instructor, Annee Hartzel
3. Touch, Sound, Movement, and Little White Canes for the Early Years (birth-5). Instructor, Denise Mackenstadt
4. Games—Think Outside the Box: Learn how to adapt board games, and which games are blind-friendly right off the shelf. Instructor, Merry-Noel Chamberlain
5. Blind and Multiply Disabled—Life after 21: Resources and tips to help parents maximize their multiply impaired children’s opportunities for an independent, productive life after they exit the educational system. Instructor, Barbara Schultz
6. Low Vision: Low Expectations? How you can help your low-vision kid learn to use nonvisual techniques and develop positive attitudes to overcome subtle and not-so-subtle messages of low expectations. Instructor, to be announced
7. What Do You Do When You Meet 2,000 Blind People? Is this your first convention, and do you feel a little overwhelmed by all those canes and guide dogs? This session conducted by blind member Angela Howard will give you a chance to ask those “dumb” questions so you can relax, learn, and enjoy

10:30–noon Youth Track 2008 (cosponsored by the NFB Jernigan Institute): “Tonight on David Letterman--Educating the Public about Blindness.” Blind and sighted youth get a chance to go onto a mock David Letterman Show and explain to the audience what it is like to be blind or to have a blind family member. Coordinator, Mary Jo Thorpe

Noon–1:45 p.m. Lunch on your own

2:00– 4:15 p.m. Sessions for children and teens according to age/grade levels. The children in grades K–8 will have fun with the seminar theme, “Remember the Past, IMAGINE the Future,” as they learn more about themselves, blindness, and the skills of blindness through games, art, making Braille books, and other activities. Denver artist, Ann Cunningham, in collaboration with the children session coordinators, will be lending her talents to produce exciting, interactive projects and activities.

2:00–4:10 p.m. Concurrent workshops for parents. Two sessions: 2:00–3:00 p.m. and 3:15–4:15 p.m.
Session One: 2:00–3:00 p.m.

1. Early Years: Can I Be Your Friend? The development of social skills begins in the cradle. Instructor, Heather Field
2. Elementary Years: Technology and Blindness Skills. Like the chicken or the egg question, we have to ask ourselves which comes first? Instructor, Kristin Sims
3. Teen Years: From the Mall to College Campus. Preparing teens to travel in all settings. Instructor to be announced
4. Special Topics: Raising the Mobility Bar for Multiply Disabled Students. Instructor, Denise Mackenstadt

Session Two: 3:15–4:15 p.m.

1. Early Years: Listen—Your Little One is Trying to Tell You Something. Parents have a lot to do with their children’s development of language and communication. Instructor, Heather Field
2. Elementary Years: Mobility: Making It Work in the Public School Setting. Instructor, Denise Mackenstadt
3. Teen Years: Fun, Friends, Fashions, and Fitting In. Instructor to be announced
4. Special Topics: The Challenges of Home Schooling. Instructor Brunhilde Merk-Adam

6:00–7:00 p.m. Family buffet, casual dress, bring the kids. (See NOPBC registration information below for cost. Please note that tickets must be purchased in advance.)

7:00–8:00 p.m. NOPBC Celebrates 25 Years. Program with surprise awards, inspirational addresses, and highlights of NOPBC accomplishments. (No fees, attendance at dinner not required)

8:00–10:00 p.m. Family Hospitality

8:00–9:30 p.m. Teen Talks: As in previous years, experienced, sensitive blind leaders are asked to conduct these two talk sessions on the all-important teen topics of dating, relationships with parents, social interactions with peers, and so forth. Moderators are experienced blind adults with extensive experience with children and youth. Parents are not invited. The session for boys will be led by Dan Wenzel and the girls by Christine Boone. For boys and girls ages fourteen and up.

Day 2: Monday, June 30

8:00–10:30 p.m. Cane Walk: Session I

10:00–12:30 p.m. Cane Walk: Session II
The Cane Walk is for blind kids, their family members, and teachers. It is sponsored by the NOPBC in partnership with the Institute on Blindness at Louisiana Tech University and the Louisiana Center for the Blind.

10:30–11:30 a.m. Youth Track 2008

2:00–4:00 p.m. Demystifying Chemistry with Dr. Andrew Greenberg (University of Wisconsin-Madison) and Cary Supalo (Pennsylvania State University). Come join us as we explore the wonders of the chemical sciences using state-of-the-art tools and techniques designed specifically for laboratory independence for blind and visually impaired students. You will run a series of entertaining and exciting chemical reactions. These safe, hands-on chemistry activities will highlight such topics as acids and bases, solution concentration, and nanotechnology. Included in the presentation will be an introduction from blind chemist Cary Supalo, a doctoral candidate at the Pennsylvania State University. Participants will be divided into groups according to elementary, middle school, and high school levels, as well as a section for parents. Preregistration is required for participation. See NOPBC preregistration below.

1:00–4:30 p.m. Teen Hospitality Room. Games, music, and socializing for all teens. Drop in anytime. Contact Brigid Doherty at the hotel for the hotel suite location.

7:00–9:00 p.m. Dads’ Night Out: This is an opportunity for fathers to talk about their kids in an informal, social atmosphere. Blind dads of sighted kids are also welcome to join the group. For location contact Brad Weathered at the hotel.

Day 3: Tuesday, July 1

7:30–9:30 a.m. NOPBC Board Meeting

11:30 –12:30 p.m. Youth Track 2008: Teen Meet and Greet with Division Reps: Come learn about the various divisions of the NFB.

12:45–4:15 p.m. Teen Hospitality

1:00–3:30 p.m. NOPBC Annual Meeting and Program: Keynote address by 2008 NFB Distinguished Educator of Blind Children Award Winner and a program with continued highlights from the 25th anniversary celebration. A brief business meeting with election of officers and board members to follow.

4:00–5:30 p.m. Parent Power Workshop: Moderator Barbara Mathews. An NOPBC workshop about expanding and strengthening state and local parent groups, fundraising, developing programs, and recruiting members.

5:30–7:00 p.m. Braille Book Flea Market and Reunion for Braille Readers Are Leaders

7:00 p.m. Books on Time: Mobilizing the Troops for Action
Despite considerable efforts over the past ten years, blind children still begin the first day of school without their books. Now is the time to educate and mobilize a force of advocates at the grass roots who will help us overcome this injustice. The session will cover how the law is supposed to work, how to assist families in navigating the complaint process, how to create change at the local level, and how to assist the NFB national office in tracking the problems with timely, accessible textbooks. More specific details will be available in the coming months about the exact time, location, and agenda for this important training seminar.

Day 4: Wednesday, July 2

7:00–9:00 a.m. NOPBC board meeting

Lunch break Teen Hospitality

7:00–10:00 p.m. Youth Track 2008: Teen Dance: Want to go to a dance with your kind of music? Come get your groove on with other teens at the NFB Youth Track Dance. Teens 14-18 are invited. Music will include Top 40, hip hop, R&B, and even country. There will also be games and time to chat.

6:30–10:00 p.m. Concurrent workshops for parents. Two sessions: 6:30-8:00 p.m. and 8:30-10:00 p.m.

Session One: 6:30–8:00 p.m.

1. All About Your Child’s IEP: Annee Hartzel, teacher of the visually impaired, and Denise Colton, parent of a blind child. Hartzel also served on a committee that developed state educational standards for Braille students in California. Hartzel will review the basic principles of how to write an IEP, provide tips on being an effective advocate in the IEP meeting, and so forth.
2. Drop-in Play and Learn with Heather Field: Parents of infants and toddlers (ages 0-5) are invited to bring their kids to this hands-on interactive session with Heather Field. Heather will answer questions, demonstrate toys and activities to encourage development and age-appropriate behavior.
3. Letting Your Child’s Wild Side Out: Join us as we explore how young blind children can enjoy fun, age-appropriate activities like surfing, skiing, snowboarding, gymnastics, Frisbee, rollerblading, and much more. Both presenters will use PowerPoint presentations with pictures and video of their blind children engaging in all of the above activities. Warning: While supervised children of all ages are encouraged to attend, be prepared for the consequences: they may very well ask you when they can try these activities too. Led by Dr. Eric Vasiliauskas and Grace Tiscareno-Sato.

Session Two: 8:30–10:00 p.m.

1. All About Your Child’s IEP (repeat session)
2. Good Educational Programs Are Built on Good Evaluations. This session will help parents and teachers learn to identify the elements of good assessments. The workshop will identify sources of assessments, how to develop and evaluate teacher-made assessments, and strategies for identifying sources of independent evaluations. A panel of instructors to include Dr. Ruby Ryles, Carol Castellano, and others.

8:30–10:15 p.m. Hobbies, Crafts, and Games: Supervised arts and crafts activities for children ages 6-12. You want to go to an NOPBC workshop, but you have kids who are almost too old for a babysitter but maybe not old enough to stay by themselves, so what do you do? Bring them here for an evening of hobbies and crafts. Note: This is a program for the children of parents who are attending NFB workshops within the hotel. It is not a childcare service. In addition parents are welcome to come with their child and do an activity together. Coordinated by Heather Fields.

Day 5: Thursday, July 3

Time TBA Scout Open House: Come learn about scouting from representatives with Boy Scouts of America and blind Federation scouts. More information forthcoming.

1:00–3:00 p.m. Come to talk to Barbara Cheadle about the development of the Parent Outreach department of the Jernigan Institute.

1:45–6:15 p.m. Teen Hospitality

8:00–10:30 p.m. Astronomy and the Invisible Sky: Come participate in hands-on activities to see what a night under the stars is all about. Weather permitting, we will also have an outside star party. Led by Noreen Grice of You Can Do Astronomy LLC and the Museum of Science, Boston. Kids of all ages, including blind adults and friends in the Federation, are welcome to attend. Children must be accompanied by an adult.

Day 6: Friday, July 4

Lunch break Teen Hospitality

NFB Banquet Along with other NFB Divisions, NOPBC will announce the much sought-after 50/50 raffle drawing.

Day 7: Saturday, July 5

NFB General Session During the session, NOPBC will announce contributions to the White Cane Fund, tenBroek Fund, Kenneth Jernigan Memorial Fund, and Imagination Fund.


Mail to:
Sandy Taboada, NOPBC Registration
6960 South Fieldgate Court
Baton Rouge, LA 70808-5455

NOPBC Conference Fees
NOPBC fees, including dinner tickets to the Sunday night, June 29, anniversary buffet: $25 per adult, $15 per youth (ages 12 and up), and $7 per child (ages 6-11), ages 5 and under, free. Tickets for the buffet dinner may not be available at registration, so please preregister.

NOPBC fees, no dinner tickets: $20 per adult, no charge for children and youth accompanied by family members. Teens accompanied by chaperones, $15 per teen.

Fee enclosed (make checks payable to NOPBC) $________________
You can either register for specific workshops online at <> or request a hardcopy registration form. Please check your choice: [ ] online [ ] send hardcopy

Adult Name(s). Please include first and last names of each adult and check relationship or interest in the NOPBC:
1. ________________________________________________________________________
[ ] parent [ ] relative [ ] professional [ ] blind parent [ ] chaperone for teens [ ] other
2. ________________________________________________________________________
[ ] parent [ ] relative [ ] professional [ ] blind parent [ ] chaperone for teens [ ] other

Address ____________________________________________________________________

City ____________________________________ State___________ Zip________________

Telephone(s) ______________________ Email ___________________________________

Do you already receive Future Reflections? YES NO
Are you a member of your state POBC chapter? YES NO
Is this your first NFB Convention? YES NO

Please list names (first and last), birth dates, and grades of all children attending the convention with you. Please include a brief description of the child’s vision and any additional disabilities.
Name Birth Date Grade Vision/other

1. __________________________ ________ ____ __________________________

2.__________________________ ________ ____ __________________________

3.__________________________ ________ ____ __________________________

4.__________________________ ________ ____ __________________________

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