FCB OFFICERS, 2010 - 2012
President, Paul Edwards
20330 N.E. 20th Ct., Miami, FL 33179
1st Vice-President, Debbie Drylie
1544 Walnut Creek Dr., Flemming Island, FL 32003
2nd Vice President, Sharon Youngs
237 Maple Avenue, Palm Harbor, FL 34684
Treasurer, Linda Jacobson
2915 Circle Ridge Dr., Orange Park, FL 32065
Membership Secretary, Sally Benjamin
1531 Dempsey Mayo Road, Tallahassee, FL 32308
Recording Secretary, Sila Miller
2201 Limerick Dr., Tallahassee, FL 32309
Immediate Past President, Debbie Grubb
4215 17th Ave. W., Bradenton, FL 34205-1418
Editor of White Cane Bulletin, Sharon Youngs
237 Maple Avenue, Palm Harbor, FL 34684
Articles for the White Cane Bulletin must be submitted to Sally Benjamin no later than the 20th of the month before it is published. Sally’s email is: email@example.com
If you do not have access to a computer and email please find someone in your chapter to help send it. We would like to hear from anyone who wants to contribute to our newsletter. If you don’t have a way to write an article you can call Sharon Youngs at the number above and she will be glad to write it for you.
Articles published in The White Cane Bulletin are in compliance with Public Law No. 104197, Copyright Law Amendment of 1996. This law allows authorized entities to distribute copies of previously published non-dramatic literary works in specialized formats, including Braille, audio or digital text that are exclusively for use by Blind people or those with disabilities. Any further distributing of such articles in another than a specialized format is an infringement of copyright.
ARE YOU MOVING? - Sally Benjamin
If you are moving please notify me of your new address so you will continue to receive your White Cane Bulletin. Also if you know of anyone interested in joining FCB and who would like to receive the White Cane Bulletin and the Braille Forum please contact me at: (800) 267-4448 or E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
FCB Officers 2010-2012
Presidents Message: by Paul Edwards
FCB Convention 2011: by Sila Miller
FCB Bus 2011: by Sally Benjamin
Paul Edwards in the Spotlight: by Sila Miller
Deadline Approaches for FCB and FCCLV 2011 Scholarships: by Barbara Grill
Top Dog - Top Notch: by Sila Miller
Women of Vision: Art Beyond Sight: by Herb Drill
Friends of Library: by Sheila Young
Poetry Corner: by Shelley Justice
Mid Florida Council of the Blind: by Jay Bader
Pinellas Council of the Blind: by Sharon Youngs
Handy telephone Number References
I turned sixty-five in December. There was a time in my life when I could not imagine being that old and still I marvel at the fact that I now qualify for senior airfares. A consequence of being as old as I am is that when I grew up things were a mite different.
For me, the marvel of our generation was the Perkins Brailler. We used the Webster’s Dictionary that was in 36 volumes in braille and laughed about the vest pocket dictionary that was only seven volumes. Later there was the talking dictionary and the world book encyclopedia that moved us forward but still left us woefully behind our non-blind peers.
I got my first speech synthesizer in 1978. Right after that, I got an optacon and, within a couple of years, acquired a Versa Braille. In 1982 I read my first newspaper ever. By the time newspapers could have been produced in braille, the news would be old so, before the advent of bulletin boards, blind people just didn’t have access.
With books, my story was similar. I read braille books and magazines though there weren’t many. I used records, flexible discs, open reel tapes and, finally, cassettes. There were not a lot of accessible books being produced. Either you read what was available, or you didn’t read.
I could go on for pages about what things were like in the old days. In many ways, we were truly at a disadvantage with our sighted peers. Information, to generalize books and all other kinds of stuff, was just not accessible to us or available to us. However, we didn’t have as much to learn either. If we could master braille, a record player and a tape recorder, we were good to go.
That was then. Now is very different. The truth is that there is more access to information than we could have dreamed possible only ten years ago. The cassette is rapidly going the way of the dinosaur and it is all about digital information. Information on virtually any subject is a few keystrokes away on a computer. And books and magazines and newspapers can be read in numbers that simply boggle the mind! But it is not all sweetness and light. With information came complexity. Every web page has its own challenges. We must learn to operate various machines to play the media that is out there. We must learn and learn and learn and learn and, as soon as we are finished mastering something, it either changes or goes away. I am fortunate. I have been able to master many of the skills that put all that information at my disposal. However, there are many who would argue that I am the exception. The information is there and it is accessible. Our challenge is to enable our members to access it.
Probably sixty percent of the blind people in Florida are over sixty as I am. For most of them, affording the equipment that is needed to get to the plethora of information that is available is a major issue. Even if they can afford it, learning the many skills that are now essential if the information is to be available is difficult, if not impossible.
At our Board meeting in December, Carl McCoy made an impassioned plea that FCB make it a priority to find ways to narrow the access gap. He rightly observed that it does no good to say that all this information is out there if our members can’t get to it. I think he is right. I also believe that, whether we like it or not, blind people must learn more than their sighted peers. We must not only learn to navigate the web; we must also learn to use a screen reader or a screen magnifier. We must learn to run the new digital players. We must learn how to deal with web pages that our screen readers don’t like. If we want to read a book that is not available, we must learn to scan. We must know how to handle pdf files, brf files, daisy files and a whole host of others that demand special treatment.
In a very real sense, then, many of our members know what is in the information candy store for people who are blind. But they are locked out by economic and educational barriers that are as absolute and solid as a brick wall.
I think there are solutions and I think that FCB should make this issue a priority right now. We must demand more of the Division of Blind Services. We must ask the local Lighthouses to do much more than they are now doing. Perhaps most importantly, we must ask continuing education to be at the heart of training. Community education is available to other people in Florida. Why is it that blind people can’t go to the same places where many sighted people go to learn to use computers and get trained? At the state level, we must ask the Department of Education to do more to assure that community education is accessible. We must ask the Division of Blind Services to help us make this happen. The Florida Assistive Technology program can and must help as well. Elder Services has a responsibility to include people who are blind both in their planning and in their funding.
I believe that FCB can do what we have done so many times in the past. We can be the agitators for change, the itch under the skin of the bureaucracy, and the group that awakens our state to the moral necessity of providing to people who are blind what is available to others.
Are there other solutions we can bring our members to embrace? What about Hadley and other on line options? Our Technology used to be on the web once a month to provide help to members if it was needed. Maybe we need to try that again. Many of our members have a lot of knowledge that they could pass on to others. Could local chapters look at sponsoring a class before or after our meetings? I am not sure we have come close to all the ways we can help. I am sure that now is full of promise in terms of information. We must promise that its fullness is available to people who are blind in Florida! I know we can do it! Oh, by the way, do senior fares save any money?
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Greetings from the Florida Council of the Blind (FCB):
We want to welcome you to join us at our 58th annual Convention! Our gathering will be held from Thursday evening, June 9th, through Sunday noon, June 12th, 2011 in Daytona Beach Florida. The Plaza Resort and Spa, located at 600 North Atlantic Avenue will be home to this year’s convention. The room rates are $97.00 per night. Reserve your room by calling 1-800-874-7420 or the hotel directly at (386) 944-4099 by May 5th. Remember to mention that you are with FCB to insure you receive the convention rate. The deadline for making hotel reservations for this year’s Convention is May 5th so I encourage you to reserve your room now.
On Thursday evening, join FCB for a beachside barbeque while grooving to some tunes from Louisiana Steve. With the sound of the Atlantic in the background, what better way to begin your FCB Convention!
The 2011 FCB Convention will be positive and uplifting as we celebrate with our parent organization, the American Council of the Blind (ACB), their 50th anniversary. Full of varied and informative programs, there’s something for everyone here!
Of course, convention wouldn’t be complete without our Exhibit Hall which will be open both Friday and Saturday for your educational and shopping convenience. Two concurrent workshop/meetings are scheduled for Friday morning and you are invited to join either one.
Guide Dog Users of Florida will present another exciting program that will honor the movement of which we all are so proud to be a part. Join GDUF for an annual box luncheon or take advantage of this convenient option by picking up your boxed lunch at the meeting room and enjoying it with friends in a place of your choosing.
"Insight into Project Insight" Have you ever wondered what Project Insight is all about? Come join us for a discussion on the history, purpose, and process of Project Insight.
Friday afternoon will bring yet more choice with two programs.
The FCB annual Legislative Seminar is always a part of our convention that members look forward to participating in. The Public Education Committee, chaired by Debbie Grubb, has invited Representative Dennis Baxley, founder of and once again Chair of the Florida Vision Caucus, to speak with us about its purpose and responsibilities and how best consumers can work meaningfully with its members. Participants will be given an update on the issues covered during the ACB 2011 Legislative Seminar and we will also discuss the status of statewide issues that impact our lives.
Join the FCB Employment Committee, chaired by Susie Hipple for an exciting program. This year’s panel presentation will introduce you to entrepreneurs who are blind and visually impaired. They will discuss important aspects of owning and running a business. Time will be allocated for your questions and each participant will leave with a packet brimming with valuable resources.
Other highlights of Friday afternoon and evening include: an exciting first timers meeting and our wonderful Awards banquet during which FCB and chapter leaders will be recognized and scholarships will be presented to hard working and deserving students. I’m also told that the exemplary Halifax chapter, this year’s convention host, has something special up their sleeve!
On Saturday morning, you’ll want to gather with all convention attendees for a presentation that will afford us the opportunity to celebrate the heritage and history of the American Council of the Blind. Berl Colley, Past President of the Washington Council of the Blind (WCB), who is working on an oral history of our parent organization, Carl McCoy, Past President of the FCB and a member of the Board of Directors of the ACB during its formative years, and Paul Edwards, President of the FCB and Past President of the ACB, will take us on a memorable journey through the fifty-year history of this phenomenal organization that was built on the commitment and resolve of amazing advocates and pioneers in the struggle to guarantee the recognition and honoring of our civil rights as citizens of this great country.
Following this presentation, there are three concurrent program options available from which you can choose. I told you there were lots of things to do, didn’t I?
The FCB Technology Committee, chaired by Robert Miller, will present an in-depth demonstration of accessible touch screen technology such as the IPad and the IPhone.
Pick up the pace with Leslie Spoone, FCB's exercise queen, who will provide you with an opportunity to customize an exercise program that you can do in the privacy of your own home.
Denise Colley, President of the Washington Council of the Blind, and her husband, Berl will provide a training 101 session for FCB's current and future leaders regarding building and maintaining our chapters, chapter outreach, member retention, innovative programming, volunteer recruitment, community activism and more.
After lunch, you will have the opportunity to participate in FCB's annual town meeting with Joyce Hildreth, Director of the Division of Blind Services (DBS) and members of her staff.
The FCB Special Interest Affiliates will then provide exciting and interesting programs and want you to join them. They include: Florida Council of Citizens with Low Vision (FCCLV) Coalition for the Concerns of the Totally Blind (CCTB) and Randolph-Sheppard Venders of Florida (RSVF)
One of the highlights of convention is our annual Banquet. Berl Colley will be our keynote speaker this year and promises to deliver an enthusiastic and unforgettable address.
Directly following the banquet, and back by popular demand, don’t miss Class Act, Jacksonville's best 6-piece jazz and easy listening band. Dance, listen, socialize or just kick back and enjoy!
And, the fun and suspense don’t stop there. Don’t miss out on our annual raffle drawing for money and other exciting prizes. You might just walk away a winner!
On Sunday morning, FCB members will have the opportunity to participate in the organization's annual business meeting. We will hear from leaders about progress made and work yet needing done. Discover what part you can play in the puzzle of advocacy.
FCB conventions are famous for having wonderful volunteers and staff at our hotels is great. However, please be reminded that volunteers and hotel staff are NOT personal care attendants, nor can they serve as full-time personal guides. If you require this level of assistance, please bring someone along to assist you.
The Administrative Office of the Florida Council of the Blind will soon be mailing out the Convention announcement and registration packet to all our members. However, we would like to extend a warm welcome to ALL who would like to join us for what promises to be an informative and fun filled time! If you’re not currently a FCB member but would like to receive registration material and attend our convention, please contact Sally Benjamin, toll free at (800) 267-4448 or by email at email@example.com. Please also feel free to visit our web site at www.fcb.org to learn more about us. We’d be delighted to share our convention experience with you and look forward to seeing you on Daytona Beach!
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It is that time of year when we are all thinking about attending our annual state convention. One of the highlights of coming to the convention is being able to ride the FCB bus with friends. The great thing about the bus is that you only have to get on at your stop and you are taken right to the front door of the hotel. They stop at fast food places to pick people up and bring you back to the same place. You are also given time at some stops to get food if you are interested.
The cost of the bus is between $85.00 and $110.00. The more people who ride the less it will cost. And, it is better than riding Greyhound and having to pay for a cab to the hotel on top of your bus ticket. The deadline for getting your money into FCB for the bus is April 30th, 2011.
It starts in Miami and goes through Ft. Myers, Port Charlotte, Venice, Sarasota, Bradenton, Pinellas County and Orlando.
So, if you live in any of the areas and want to ride please contact Sally Benjamin at 800-267-4448 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“It’s not what you are that holds you back; it’s what you think you are not.”
Denis Waitley, American author and Lecturer
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Born a bit too early, Paul Archibald Edwards made his arrival on December 29, 1945 in San Francisco California. His parents, Byron John and Euphemia Brody Edwards lived on a houseboat and at only two; Paul used the gangplank for a diving board into the Pacific! Luckily, he was fished out without incident. Paul’s mom had been told she couldn’t have children so the couple adopted a son, Byron John, Jr. Ironically, Euphemia became pregnant with Paul directly following John’s adoption and the boys are only ten and a half months apart in age.
“I was one of the few kids who failed kindergarten,” Paul chuckles. “When I went to the California school for the Blind, I was made to redo kindergarten.” Paul’s family lived in California until he was seven. Following the divorce of his parents, Paul’s mom remarried and they relocated to Calgary, Alberta, a city in Canada located between the foothills of the Canadian Rockies and the Canadian Prairies.
Paul attended both the school for the blind and the Athlone School for Boys in Vancouver BC. The principal and founder of the Athlone School, Mrs. Dryvynsyde, quite a proper British lady, “used to be able to wield a pretty good cane too,” reminisces Paul. “I was second or third in my class most of the time and I thought I was doing pretty good at fooling the universe. One day, I got called into her office. She said,” ”You’re not trying very hard here. You’re not really working, you’re just coasting and you can’t do that, because if you’re blind, you need to recognize that you’ve got to do better than everybody else if you’re going to be successful.” “That had quite an impact on me—more negatively at the time—but probably positively in the long run.”
Paul’s eye condition is Retrolental Fibroplasia which has been linked to the unprotected exposure of high concentrations of oxygen used to support premature infants’ underdeveloped lungs. In a fetus, blood vessels begin to form in the eye three months after conception, and are complete by birth. Prematurity disrupts this development, often causing retinal vascular proliferation. Severe Retrolental Fibroplasia is marked by this rapid growth as well as by severe scarring, and at times, retinal detachment. Many times, this condition is mistakenly referred to as Retinopathy of Prematurity.
When Paul was thirteen, Euphemia decided to move her family to Jamaica and Paul finished high school there. He then proceeded to obtain a special honors degree in history at the University of the West Indies, where he was the first blind student to attend. A new Institute had been opened in Trinidad by the Institute of International Relations of Geneva, as a part of the University of the West Indies and Paul went there to study International Relations and earned his graduate degree.
It was in Trinidad where he met his first wife, Olivia Helen Mary who was also a student at the Institute and read for him. The couple was married in April of 1968 and the first of their three children was born on the island the following year.
At 23, Paul realized he needed to find a way to make some money since he now had a family to support. “I ended up going to teach English Literature and Grammar at this little, tiny school, called St. Charles School for Girls. I didn’t know if I could be a decent teacher or not, but I decided I would spend this year finding out. I was working for almost nothing, like $300 a month. I ended up being pretty successful and landed a position as the senior History Master at Trinity College, the biggest Episcopal school for boys in Trinidad where I worked for nine or ten years,” Paul recalls. During this busy time, Paul also obtained an additional graduate degree in Education.
During his time in Trinidad, Paul tutored some children from the school for the blind and was offered a job with the Blind Welfare Association, an outfit that provided what services there were at that time to blind people in the Caribbean. “I decided I was the wrong person to do the job though because I hadn’t been born there, I wasn’t a part of that culture and I really felt like they needed to get someone from the Caribbean, rather than somebody from outside who might have been perceived as a colonial guy telling blind people what to do,” Paul explains.
In 1976, Paul moved his family back to the United States. Based on assurances he’d received from Division of Blind Services a year before—they really wanted him to move to Florida because he had a lot to offer, and would assist him to find employment—Paul bought a home but couldn’t land a job. He attended the Rehabilitation Center in 1977 and persuaded DBS to hire him as a rehabilitation teacher where he worked for the next four years, then three more as a Rehabilitation Counselor. In 1983, Paul moved his family to Jacksonville and took on the Directorship of Independent Living for the Adult Blind (ILAB) where he worked for the next three years. It was here that his first marriage fell apart and he and Helen divorced.
“When I returned from the Caribbean, one of the things that really amazed me is what a poor job blind people in this country were doing at taking advantage of what they had. I remember being almost angry with the fact that people could learn to be really independent—get around on their own, learn to use computers, they could learn to use Braille, learn to use technology—but so many people chose not to do that. So many were just comfortable sitting down and letting the world pass them by. That was one of the first questions that led me into advocacy. I wanted to understand why it was,” Paul shares.
“In 1977, the American Council of the Blind (ACB) was meeting in Miami. Carl McCoy tried very hard to get me to come to an ACB convention and my life might have been a little different if I’d gone that early but what happened instead, is I got involved with the Florida Council of the Blind (FCB) and worked for the next few years at the state level,” Paul reflects. “While I was working directly in the blindness field, I wouldn’t accept a position in either FCB or ACB because I felt like it wouldn’t have been the principal thing to do.”
“I think there were a group of us people—initially like Doug Hall and myself—who were considered as the “young upstarts” of FCB, who were always making these wild-eyed proposals that the “old guard” didn’t like and that was kind of the roll I played in Florida through the eighties,” Paul recalls, laughter in his voice. “I continued to work on various committees and tried to write proposals that I thought would make FCB better. In general, I really enjoyed the camaraderie and the family that’s a part of FCB. Terry Blessing was a great FCB leader,” Paul muses. “I’m a huge Carl McCoy fan too. Carl was responsible for first getting me involved in FCB and ACB. He’s the person who put pressure on me to get involved.”
Paul found himself on the national scene in the early 80s and was tasked with chairing the Resolutions Committee at the first convention he ever attended. Grant Mack, the then ACB President had seen Paul’s work on the state level, liked his style and offered him financial assistance to attend the national convention if he’d agree to chair the committee. “I really enjoyed chairing the Resolutions Committee at the national level because it was a nice, comfortable place to be sort of in the background—just having to work very hard at the convention—but more importantly, being able to make some of the policy of ACB. I really enjoyed that part of advocacy—trying to think through what direction we aught to take next—and how best we aught to do things,” Paul says.
In 1985, at a national ACB convention in Los Vegas, Paul met Gayle Krause whom he would spend the next twenty years with. “It was kinda love at first sight,” says Paul. The couple both landed jobs in Miami and moved there in 1986. Paul went to work for the Miami Dade College as the Director of Access Services for Disabled Students where he remains employed today and Gayle took a job with DBS as a children’s counselor. She later promoted to the position of Assistant Director of the Office of ADA coordination with Dade County where she worked until her tragic and untimely death in April of 2005.
“Getting involved with FCB and ACB, I suddenly came to a place where there was a kind of turning point for me,” Paul relates. “For a lot of my life—up until then—I had been very competitive with sighted people. I thought that in every job I did, I had to be better than the next person and I had to demonstrate just how capable I was, all the time. You’re never sure that there’s a level playing field. You wonder if people are cutting you slack because you can’t see or if they’re making it harder for you. You never really know what the right answer is and that’s the real issue. So what you do—if you’re me—is you try extra hard. I started doing a lot of thinking about the whole idea of civil rights and integration and I came to a place where I suddenly realized, I didn’t have to compete with all those sighted people. I just had to do the very best I could, that the only person who I had to really look good to was me. As long as I tried to worry about whether or not I was being treated differently as a blind person, I was missing the boat. Because, the truth is whether they were treating me inappropriately or not, didn’t really matter as long as I was doing the best that I could, and as long as I was representing blind people in the way that I thought they should be represented in terms of the way I behaved at work and in other things that I did.”
“We all grow up with the prejudices of our society, you know, it’s a real disability to be blind it’s a terrible hardship and life’s awful and the world of darkness and all that… If you haven’t been involved in the organized blind movement, I don’t think you get to the place where you can confront the fact that there are a lot of people who are blind who are having a pretty good time and who are pretty content within themselves and who are pretty cool people. Once I got into contact with a lot more of those folks, where I ended up coming from was, not only is it not a disability to be blind but it’s really pretty ok and it’s pretty cool. There are a lot of things that you can do and be as a blind person. A., You don’t have anything to be ashamed of and B., You don’t have to feel inferior to anybody. Once you take that quantum leap away from being a person who perceives himself as inferior to a place where you don’t any more, then you’re not competing, you don’t have to. I think that revelation has led to a lot of things that I’ve tried to do since,” Paul explains.
Paul was elected as First Vice President of ACB in 1987 in a race that included Durward K. McDaniel, long-time leader of ACB. “Beating him in that election certainly didn’t endear me to a lot of the traditional members of ACB, I think,” Paul chuckles. “Durward McDaniel was a very affective advocate for blindness and probably singlehandedly, has caused ACB to survive and grow. If there’s one hero of the first twenty years of ACB, it would be Durward McDaniel,” Paul says, respect resounding in his voice.
Paul was elected as ACB’s President in 1995 and served for six years. “I felt that along with some other really good folks—Charlie Crawford, Brian Charlson and I—had been able to do quite a lot to get us more noticed in Washington D.C. and throughout the country. Some folks, including Leroy Saunders and myself participated in putting together a long-range plan for ACB. Leroy managed to get it written during his presidency and it was implemented during mine. I’m a big Leroy Saunders fan. I think in his own quiet way, he was one of the best ACB presidents that has ever been,” Paul contemplatively says. “Like everybody else in ACB, I’m a huge admirer of Otis Stephens. I think he’s an immensely bright and capable person who’s given a lot to people with disabilities.”
“By the time that my ACB Presidency was over, I guess what I accomplished were two things that were important. I feel like I was able to create a place where ACB was better known across the country and perhaps even considered to be a bigger player than our size would lead people to perceive. The other important thing accomplished—some with my President’s Messages and other things—was to help us define ourselves a little bit better. I really wanted us to think about who we are and who we were in comparison with the NFB. What are the differences and are they meaningful? If they are, what are they and how do we take advantage of those diversities? These weren’t political questions for me, but rather philosophical ones. There were laws that got changed and other important things that happened but in the long run, I think the change in attitude and perception were most important for me,” Paul says.
Paul continued to serve ACB through his position as Immediate Past President and remained on the Board of Directors for the next six years. “I found myself kind of at odds with some of the things that were going on in ACB and I think we found ourselves fairly divided during that whole period. I continue to think that’s very sad,” Paul thoughtfully reflects. In 2007, Mitch Pomerantz, current ACB President approached Paul with a request that he lead the Board of Publications (BOP). “I said I would,” Paul says. “Not so much that I had a driving urge to publish but rather, because that the BOP is part of the ACB’s balance of power. It was set up as a safeguard against a small group of people at the center—in the leadership positions—being able to take over what the organization stood for—basically what happened in the NFB just before we broke away in 1961. I was bound and determined that I was going to try to secure the place of the BOP in a spot where that couldn’t happen. And, I believe we have accomplished that. It is absolutely clear now that the BOP will sometimes find itself at odds with the leadership of ACB. And, that’s perfectly ok,” Paul declares.
In 2004, Paul was elected as President of FCB. During that fateful term, Gayle Krause-Edwards, his wife and companion of 20 years passed away of leukemia and Paul made the decision to resign from his position, leaving FCB in the capable hands of Debbie Grubb.
Paul was again elected to lead FCB during the convention of 2010. “I think it’s exciting that we have continued to be able to operate in concert with all of the other groups in Florida and that FCB has been able to have a pretty large say in the kind of direction that the consumer movement in Florida is going. I hope that we’re getting to a place where we’re beginning to persuade people at the local level how important they are and to encourage more of them to become involved. So, I think some of the leadership training that we’ve been doing and some of the work that we’ve been doing at conventions in FCB to try to help people understand where we’re coming from and how they can advocate is hopefully making a big difference,” Paul concludes.
Paul now has ten grandchildren, ranging in age from 12 years to six months. He loves all types of music, reading, speaking, writing, and advocating for people who are blind.
“It’s ok for people not to like or accept me but it’s not ok for them to say I can’t have access to information, vote privately and independently, or be independent, because I’m as good as they are! I’m a person, one of whose characteristics is that I happen to be blind,” Paul emphasizes. “The really tough part of advocacy for me is you do what you know is right, what needs to be done and then so many people who are blind essentially are more comfortable taking the “easy road”—asking for help all the time—Instead of functioning independently and by themselves. “It’s not wrong for them to do that” clarifies Paul, “but, it’s not being all they can be. And, somehow, we’ve gotta persuade folks that it’s important to wanna be all that you can be.”
“Young people have it far better than we did and they need to recognize that. The amount of information that they have access to and their capacity to compete is tremendously enhanced, as compared to what it’s been for blind people in the past. Most of us growing up never had easy access to dictionaries or encyclopedias, couldn’t Google stuff on the internet. Therefore we couldn’t compete well with our classmates, in terms of being able to do work of the same quality and at the same speed as others could,” Paul says. “I’d like to say to young folks reading this; recognize how much more you have the potential of being able to do. Don’t make the mistake that many are now making of believing that you don’t need the blindness movement. In the long run, what you will find as you get older is the fact that you don’t need or use Braille as much as you should, is gonna catch up with you and you’ll hit a ceiling that’s based primarily on what you didn’t do to grow into well adjusted blind people when you were younger.”
What a complex, concerned, intelligent, revolutionary man is our Paul. If only space permitted, I’d love to share more of his story, specifically his thoughts on integration or mixing verses inclusion or encompassing blind people into society. But, alas, the WCB is only so big and I must stop or be fired by the Editors! I encourage you to go to the ACB website at acb.org and read some of Paul’s President’s Messages in past issues of the Braille Forum. Paul, Friend, thank you for taking time to teach, share, guide and make me think, take responsibility and become a little bit more comfortable with who I am. Thank you for your advocacy work and contributing so much to the blindness movement. You are to me, much like you described Mr. McDaniel, one heck of a hero!
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The deadline for applying for the FCB and FCCLV scholarships is March 31st. Four FCB scholarships in the amounts of $2,500, $2,000, $1,500 and $750 are available. FCCLV also expects to award one $750 scholarship.
All persons applying for the FCB scholarship must be legally blind. An applicant applying for the FCCLV scholarship must meet the low vision criteria. FCCLV defines low vision when the best corrected vision in the better eye is not greater than 20/70 but is better than light perception or light projection or whose visual fields have a maximum diameter of no greater than 30 degrees.
Eligible students must be residents of the State and enrolled in high school or a postsecondary or vocational training program. A minimum cumulative grade point average of 3.0 is required. The Gayle M. Krause-Edwards $2,500 Scholarship requires a 3.2 grade point average with one semester completed. Part-time students who are working full-time may also apply for the $750 award. Applications may be completed online or printed from the FCB website www.fcb.org. All supporting documents including a sealed official transcript from the most recent year of school attended must be submitted. A Certification of Vision Status form must be signed and mailed directly by an ophthalmologist, rehabilitation counselor or other qualified entity. Applicants must be enrolled in an accredited college or university or be accepted for enrollment.
All applications and/or supporting documents must be postmarked no later than March 31, 2011 and mailed to Barbara H. Grill, 2030 Preymore Street, Osprey, FL 34229. If you have any questions, please call (941) 966-7056 or email email@example.com. For more information go to www.fcb.org and click on the Scholarship Application Information link.
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In early January, Robert, Sherman, his new dog guide and I, along with other human and canine friends attended what's known as the Top Dog Workshop. What is Top Dog, you ask. It's where guide dog handlers, their working partners, representatives from guide dog schools, puppy raisers and others who are interested convene to learn about concerns, issues and resources surrounding this miraculous working relationship. This year, Top Dog was hosted by our very own Florida affiliate of Guide Dog Users, Inc. It was in loving memory and tribute to our recently departed Frela Grubb.
The long weekend conference officially kicked off Thursday afternoon but event organizers began their work many months ago. Chief among these organizers is Debbie Grubb, former president of the national affiliate, Guide Dog Users, Inc. who, with help from contacts throughout the country planned a program packed with helpful, funny, sad, and all in between information and entertainment for attendees. Two of FCB’s own, Sally Benjamin and Wanda Stokley played important roles as well, Registrar and Exhibits Coordinator, respectively.
On Friday morning, there was a presentation from local tourist officials about all the exciting tourist attractions Orlando has to offer specifically geared toward access options for people who are blind and visually impaired. Next there was a first aid workshop and helpful hints about caring for your dog. Every dog handler left with their very own dog first aid kit, compliments of Rita Princivalli, Director of Admissions at Southeastern Guide Dogs who hosted the very informative presentation. Though Rita was a tough act to follow, Robert Miller captured much interest during his GPS (Global Positioning System) demonstration using the Braille Sense note taker and Sense Nav software. The presentation was well received and despite hurricane-force winds, we actually walked outside with a couple of folks to further demonstrate this freedom offering technology.
The exhibit area featured representatives from several guide dog schools, many venders, a boutique where dogs could be pampered and lots of tempting treats for the furry workers. As if all that weren’t enough, thanks to generous financial gifts from both FCB and the Halifax chapter, event organizers and volunteers welcomed us to a hospitality suite complete with all manner of refreshments from chocolate covered espresso beans to fresh fruit. They even gave every attendee special bags full of goodies for our dogs. Talk about the royal treatment!
Friday evening featured a delicious meal and tunes from “the Lair,” better known as Larry Turnbull, Mr. ACB Radio. Thanks to those darn coffee beans and not enough of that fruit, yours truly didn’t get much in the way of shut eye that night.
EARLY, the next morning, we attended the very moving Blessing of the guide dogs. Laurel Jean, a gifted musician played and sang and Tim Barrett and Audrey Gunter prayed for each person guide dog team. Good thing I thought to take tissues with me. When Sherm received his blessing, he put his chest down on the floor just like he was kneeling. It was quite a spiritual and beautiful time.
Debbie Grubb, Susan Crawford and Becky Barns then conducted a panel discussion about issues confronting guide dog handlers who face health crises in their lives requiring that they either reside in a health care facility or housing available to people and their families while they receive long or short-term care. Debbie Grubb shared her distressing story about the discrimination she and her late husband, Frela received from none other than high-ranking officials of the American Cancer Society of Florida. Debbie went on to relate that she has filed a complaint with the Department of Justice and had invited the official in question or her designee to speak at this conference. At the last minute, the person was unresponsive to Debbie’s follow up confirmation emails regarding attending and participating on the panel.
Law enforcement, educating officials and guaranteeing enforcement is a battle that we each fight where we live, play and work. During the next presentation, we learned about our rights and responsibilities as well as valuable tips to assist in this ongoing and laudable cause.
On Saturday afternoon, representatives from many guide dog schools presented their reports and were available to answer questions. Then came, what was for me, a highlight of this get-together, a panel discussion comprised of puppy raisers who shared some of their experiences. Boy, what experiences they related too! One of particular noteworthiness was relayed from Rita Princivalli, whom many of us know and love. She had gone to Publix with her young puppy in training and had given him ample time to “get busy” before the trip. Right there, in the produce section he “got really busy”! Thankfully, there were paper towels and produce bags close at hand. Rita cleaned up the large deposit, and thinking to be inconspicuous, put the “full busy bag” on the bottom rack of the buggy. Finishing her shopping, she got in line to check out. In Rita’s words, “there was this little 17-year-old honey/cashier,” and she bubblingly asked “whatcha got underneath there?” Again, trying to be low key, Rita mumbled “it’s a busy bag.” That “little honey” never missed a beat. At this point in the story, Rita got this really mortified tone in her voice and said, “I want you to know what that sweet little thing did. She got on the store’s PA system and brazenly called out “price check on busy bags, price check on busy bags.” By this time, we were all howling but Rita wasn’t done…She gently and quietly told the cashier what a “busy bag” was and the little honey then proceeded to squeal, “eiew!” Getting back on the PA system, she said “cancel the price check on Busy Bags.”
This part of the conference was made all the more emotional for me since Robert and I had just recently connected with Rebecca Hall, Sherman’s young puppy raiser. Ms. Hall is quite an accomplished young lady, raising her sixth future guide dog puppy. What a sacrifice of love and service! Sherman attended Rebecca’s senior year of high school with her. And yes, just as the puppy raisers all related, my first question to Rebecca was, “How can you give them back?” Sorry…
At the Saturday evening banquet, Author Kathy Nimmer of the moving book, Two Plus Four Equals One - Celebrating the Partnership of People with Disabilities and Their Service Dogs was the keynote speaker. Ms. Nimmer is an award-winning teacher of English to high school students, author, and motivational speaker from Indiana. She had us crying, laughing and avidly listening. At one particularly poignant and quiet moment during Kathy’s speech, a puppy in training, a little 8-month old black lab, Levi let out a bark which set off several others and the audience just broke up. I laughed so hard there were tears streaming down my face. Talk about comic relief! Visit www.servicedogstories.com and take a peek at Kathy’s book. It makes an excellent gift for someone special or what the heck, yourself.
Sunday morning came all too soon but heralded a perfect ending to one heck of a conference. During “Tall Tales,” attendees shared funny, and many times embarrassing stories about them and their guides. Yep, some hit pretty close to home! And, yep, we’ll definitely be there again next time!
"Always be a first-rate version of yourself, instead of a second-rate version of somebody else."
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“There are none so blind
as those that will not see”.
– paraphrasing Jeremiah, Chap. 5
A somewhat enigmatic question results from the aforementioned biblical comment. To wit: See with the eyes; see with the mind, or see with the heart?
For Sister Elizabeth Fiorite, the response is, “see with the heart and mind - even if the eyes have lost some of their power.”
As a consequence, the acclaimed Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens in Jacksonville, Fla., presents Women of Vision: Art Beyond Sight. It’s on view through March 6, with botanical drawings, music-inspired paintings, and poetry.
The presenters are Northeast Florida women with low vision or blind who “have used their hands and minds to create powerful works of art,” notes Amy Laubach Chamberlin, Cummer’s associate marketing director.
A nationally-recognized program, Women of Vision is a “unique experience” for which program founder Sister Elizabeth Fiorite picks women who had careers as homemaker, musician, tattoo artist, banker, author, nun, and more.
Now sponsored by VSA Arts, the Women of Vision program was designed to give visually-impaired/blind women a venue to “express themselves through literary and artistic experiences.” Sister Fiorite also facilitates PALS, a peer-mentoring group, the Talking Book Book Club, and a support group that meets monthly at Jacksonville’s Presbyterian House.
Therefore, for the past 12 years, 15 women ages 64 to mid-80s meet monthly at the Cummer to “share experiences” in art-making, memoir writing, and exploring the galleries and gardens alongside the majestic St. Johns River. The “women bond,” and Chamberlin notes the exhibition is a “symbol for the transformative nature of art - for the creator and the viewer.”
Silvia Romero-Brown, the museum’s associate director of education, asserts that the work isn’t displayed due to any disability, but “rather as a unique group of people who are wonderful artists using other senses to explore the world.” Participants share recorded memoirs, paint, draw, “dance, and sculpt passionately. They cry and laugh together candidly, and become close friends.”
Romero-Brown claims audiences are “usually moved by their artwork and poetry,” and are “surprised” by the nature of the artists’ disability, “often commenting on the quality and ability” of the artists and the show as a whole.”
Also, writer-in-residence Mary Sue Koeppel supports the writing; photographer Ingrid Damiani has worked with the women from WoV’s inception. Her photographs of the women in the program are part of an exhibition slideshow.
The exhibit celebrates Art Beyond Sight Awareness Month, a global initiative to “promote art by and for people with vision loss and other disabilities,” and to foster “multimodal approaches to education and creativity.”
As for Sister Fiorite, she was born in Chicago in 1933, and is a Dominican Sister of Sinsinawa, Wis., and the Dominican Order of Preachers. “We were founded in 1849 by an Italian missionary priest, Father Samuel Mazzuchelli, who may soon be declared a saint by the church.”
Sister Fiorite was an elementary school teacher and principal and served with a parish pastoral team before losing most of her vision in 1990 due to a virus and retinitis pigmentosa.
Today, many Dominicans would say they preach with the “Sacred Scripture in one hand and the newspaper in the other.” This “makes the connection between the Word of God and the world around us.” This fits Sister Fiorite, who, since 1994, has been a social services counselor at Independent Living for Adult Blind (ILAB) in Jacksonville.
Her articles and poems have appeared in Kalliope, Dialogue Magazine, ILAB Gab, and White Cane Bulletin. Recently, she published Behind Our Eyes, an anthology of poetry and prose by disabled authors.
She adds, “I’ve met all the Women of Vision through ILAB, and we have a mutual desire to write and do art. Originally, I asked women who were a little older - some of them widows, divorced, or living alone - who felt they could benefit from bonding with others in sharing their experiences.” She has “no knowledge of anyone selling their art work,” but she has “donated a couple of pieces which were auctioned for a charitable cause.”
Sister Fiorite believes the Cummer program “is a wonderful experience - a place where we can let our hair down. It's OK to be blind and talk to each other about how you've poured coffee into an upside-down cup. Here [at the Cummer], we’re able to share with each other on a level sometimes we can’t share with our families.”
“Oooo! This is big time stuff - a real thrill,” she adds. “Whoever would have `thunk’ you could have some of your art work displayed at the Cummer Museum?” It's “so encouraging, so life-giving for us. I love every part of this. I love being with the women, going around the museum, being told about or touching what's going on in the museum.”
Louann Marshall concurs: “To think somebody would take the time to look at something someone who can't see drew ... [it] makes me feel we can contribute. I'm a real person who can make something pretty. It's nice to know that there are people in the world who appreciate people with problems. They take you in, show you what you can do; things that you didn't know yourself.”
Of course, the creative arts being used as a means of healing and bonding isn’t a new phenomenon:
• In Jacksonville, Art with a Heart in Healthcare is a nonprofit providing “professionally-guided, personalized art experiences” to “enhance the healing process and bring comfort, joy, and hope to patients and families in crisis.” Staff artists, community volunteers, and University of North Florida interns have served over 20,000 children and their families at Wolfson Children's Hospital and Nemours Children's Clinic.
• Painter Hilda Goldblatt Gorenstein (“Hilgos”) was placed in a nursing home due to steadily worsening Alzheimer’s. Art Institute of Chicago students helped her pick up the palette again and maintain, and even regain, some of her core identity.
• Paraplegia News reported on the National Veterans Creative Arts Festival, where vets treated at U.S. Dept. of Veterans Affairs facilities enter local creative arts competitions. Cummer’s effort was backed by the W.W. and Eloise
D. Gay Foundation, Cultural Council of Greater Jacksonville, and the City of Jacksonville. The Cummer, known for its accessibility, has served as a model of accessibility and has a permanent collection of more than 5,500 works of art. It welcomes more than 95,000 visitors annually.
In 2010, the Cummer was reaccredited by the American Association of Museums, which signifies “excellence to the museum community, to governments, funders, outside agencies, and the museum-going public.” Initially accredited in 1975, the Cummer was accredited twice since then; all museums must undergo reaccreditation at least every 10 years.
“This is especially meaningful as it’s based on an intense review by leaders in the museum field,” explains Hope McMath, Cummer director. Of the estimated 17,500 U.S. museums, 780 are accredited - 48 off them in Florida. “The process covers an intense 18-month self-study and a site visit by peer reviewers.”
“The Board of Trustees is proud of this important peer recognition of our institution and its contribution to the quality of life in our community,” adds James Van Vleck, board chairman. “As we prepare for the Cummer's 50th anniversary in 2011, we’re committed to continue to build on the strengths and positive momentum recognized by the AAM.”
For more information, call (904) 356-6857, or visit www.cummer.org.
Career journalist Herb Drill studied journalism at the University of Minnesota and has a degree from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School. He lives in Jacksonville, FL and has Muscular Dystrophy and glaucoma. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sister Elizabeth Fiorite (right) gets some assistance and encouragement from Hope McMath, the Cummer Museum’s director.
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Friends of Library Access, Inc. is a nonprofit corporation whose mission is public education and advocacy when it comes to making persons who are print disabled aware of the wonderful services available through our Braille and Talking Book Library located in Daytona Beach, FL.
We financially assist in the provision of accessible media, including Braille, recorded and electronic materials, descriptive videos and DVDs. Since its inception in 1992, F.L.A. has helped the Bureau of Braille & Talking Book Library to continue its service of excellence through key equipment purchases and community awareness activities. In appreciation of the 239 volunteers who put in more than 71,000 hours of work (equaling over 34 paid full-time employees) at the Daytona Beach Regional Bureau of Braille and Talking Book Library, we have sponsored annual volunteer appreciation luncheons, other continuing activities and awards for their invaluable service. We have assisted consumer organizations in successful advocacy for continuation of sub regional Braille & Talking Book Libraries.
We count on persons, such as you, to become members, generously paying yearly dues and making donations to give the Friends the ability to assist in provision of services to library customers and other print impaired individuals who need and deserve equal access to information needed for independence, education, employment and pleasure.
In addition, F.L.A. encourages members to get involved in the organization by serving on the governing board and through a variety of community education activities.
We, the Friends of Library Access, Inc., invite you to join us as we seek to increase the availability of accessible media to Florida’s citizens who are blind, visually impaired, physically impaired and/or reading impaired.
In addition to membership in the Friends, we gratefully accept donations, grants, gifts of cash and bequests.
We thank you for your generous support. Please visit our web site at www.fol-fl.org or contact Sheila Young at email@example.com.
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I guess I was always one of John Denver’s biggest fans. The following was recorded on an Album called Seasons of the Heart. This song is not recorded on any of his other albums.
Relatively speaking you make me who I am
I need you exactly like the ocean needs the land
I need you like the sunshine needs the shadows and the night
I need you the way love needs the savage hurtful fight
Relatively speaking I’m nothing without you
You are where I’ve been before you are where I’m going to
You are living out my dreams and you are all my fears
You evoke my laughter, you unleash every tear
The rich ones need the poor ones
The blind need those with sight
Sinners need the pure of heart
The black ones need the white
Relatively speaking the contrast makes it go
Every action taken is related in the flow
Stars and losers, kings and fools go dancing hand in hand
Relatively speaking you make me who I am.
Words by Arthur Hancock
Music by John Denver
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Due to circumstances beyond my control, I apologize for not having information from our chapter in the last White Cane Bulletin. So there is plenty to inform readers about what has been going on with MFCB.
First, our membership total reported to the Florida Council of the Blind (FCB) for 2011 is 58. Thanks to those who have either joined our organization or renewed their membership to MFCB. Your commitment is truly appreciated.
Here are the elected Officers for Mid-Florida Council of the Blind for 2011, as voted by the membership in attendance at the November 2010 General Meeting:
President – Sheila Young
1st Vice President – Larry Turnbull
2nd Vice President – Leslie Spoone
Recording Secretary – Martha James
Treasurer – Bill Freeman
Membership Secretary – Jay Bader
MFCB has held some activities these past few months that have proven to be very successful. The Annual Holiday Luncheon, which was held in December at Logan’s Restaurant in southwest Orlando, included an auction that was quite entertaining for all involved. A bake sale was held during at the January General Meeting that resulted in many sweet tooths. And just before this submission was sent, MFCB members gathered for a brunch at Friendly’s Restaurant near the University of Central Florida, with all attending leaving very happy.
Our organization has continued to keep a balance between business, fun and providing guests speakers who present topics of interest to the blind and visually-impaired in the greater Orlando area. Most recently, MFCB 1st Vice President Larry Turnbull and Transportation Chairperson Debbie Hazelton teamed for a demonstration of the iPhone, which has been gaining interest for being the only mainstream cell phone with a built-in screen reader. With our wireless internet capability at William Booth Towers in downtown Orlando, and wireless microphones that allow more people to be heard, everyone, including those listening in the FCB General Chat Room, enjoyed finding out how truly powerful the iPhone is for those with visual impairments.
MFCB Members should take note as to the next 2 General Meetings. These will be on Saturday, March 5th, and Saturday, April 2nd, from 12 NOON to 2:30 PM (please note the new ending time, as it was decided the membership in attendance at the February General Meeting to extend the meeting time) at William Booth Towers, 633 Lake Dot Circle, Orlando, FL 32801. The Telephone Committee will be notifying Members in a timely manner about each meeting.
There will be more from our chapter, especially about fundraising activities where Members are taking part, in the next MFCB Chapter News.
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The Pinellas Council of the Blind has had some small earthquakes since our December meeting. We held our elections at our December meeting. But those elected have changed since then.
At the meeting Florence Pincus was elected president. I, Sharon Youngs was elected vice president and Karen Tucker was elected as treasurer. Well some of that changed. Karen’s house sold and they are moving way more quickly than anyone expected. So, she had to resign as treasurer for the sake of expediency and to keep things the same at the bank, I resigned as vice president. Then Florence, acting in her capacity as president, appointed me as treasurer and Kathy Millican as vice president. Now our officers list looks like this:
Florence Pincus, President
Kathy Millican, Vice President
Debbie Downey, Secretary
Sharon Youngs, Treasurer
Janice Revill, Membership Secretary
We were honored to have as our guest speaker for our February meeting FCB Immediate Past President, Debbie Grubb. She was gracious enough to install us into our new offices
As our new president, Florence has some great ideas about getting more members involved in the chapter activities and in community affairs.
You’ll be hearing more and more about our chapter in the next few issues of the White Cane Bulletin.
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Oven Roasted Chicken
Cooking Time: 1 hr 10 min
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 (12-ounce) can ginger ale
1 (3- to 3½-pound) chicken
Preheat oven to 400°F. Line a roasting pan with aluminum foil. In a small bowl, combine oil, paprika, onion powder, garlic powder, salt, and pepper; mix well. Open the can of ginger ale and place it on a flat roasting rack in prepared roasting pan. Rub seasoning mixture over chicken, coating completely. Place chicken, cavity down, over soda can.
Carefully place chicken in oven and roast for 60 to 70 minutes, or until chicken is no longer pink and its juices run clear. Carefully remove chicken from can; slice and serve.
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Project Insight: 800-267-4448
Bureau of Braille and Talking Book Library: 800-226-6075
Division of Blind Services: (Tallahassee) 800-342-1828
American Council of The Blind: 800-424-8666 (available only 3:00 to 5:30 PM EST Monday-Friday)
ACB Legislative Hotline: 800-424-8666 (Evenings 8:00 PM - 12:00 Midnight EST Weekends 9:00 AM - 5:00 PM only)
AT&T Disability Services: 800-872-3883 Press 00 and speak with your long distance carrier or, Florida only 800-982-2891
BellSouth Disability Services: 800-982-2891 from anywhere
Social Security: 800-772-1213 24-hour voice and touch-tone accessible
- THE END -
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FLORIDA COUNCIL OF THE BLIND
1531 Dempsey Mayo Road
Tallahassee, FL 32308
WCB Main Page
FCB Home Page