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The New Jersey Council of the Blind

CHRONICLE

January, 2007

The New Jersey Council of the Blind's mission is to strive for the betterment of the blind and visually impaired community. The purpose of this publication is to provide a forum for the free exchange of ideas, opinions and information relative to matters of concern to blind people.

The New Jersey Council of the Blind (NJCB) is a 501 (c) 3 corporation and all gifts are tax deductible. Tax deductible donations should be sent to the Treasurer of NJCB.

Four quarterly newsletters are sent to members free of charge in either large print, audio cassette or E-mail. Non-members may request the NJCB Chronicle by E-mail and for an annual donation of $5.00 may receive copies in large print or cassette.

In order to make the Chronicle better, we need and appreciate information from our chapters, from individuals and from agencies and other outside groups and organizations which serve the blind and visually impaired. Articles to be included in the NJCB Chronicle, requests for copies of the newsletter or membership information should be sent to NJCB, 520 Ewingville Road, Ewing, NJ 08638. They may also be e-mailed to Ottilie@verizon.net or phoned to (609) 882-2446. All information must be received by March 1st to be included in the next issue of the Chronicle.

The NJCB officers are: President Lauren Casey, (609) 912-0657, 153 Franklin Corner Road, Lawrenceville, NJ 08648; First Vice President John Vernon (609) 392-3674; Second Vice President Frank Schack (973) 595-0116; Secretary Ottilie Lucas (609) 882-2446 and Treasurer Bob Lucas (609) 882-2446, 520 Ewingville Road, Ewing, NJ 08638.

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ATTENTION CASSETTE READERS

NJCB is the recipient of donated black Library of Congress type cassette mailers. We used to send out the Chronicle in this type of mailer but many of our members did not return them. In order to economize, we are going to try this system again.

You will notice your name in Braille on the 3 by 5 address card. Simply reverse the card and the Braille NJCB will be on the reverse side with the return address. You will get your next quarterly issue if and only if you return the mailing container with the tape.

As noted in a later article, the free services provided by Housing and United Services is no longer available. We appreciate your cooperation in sending back the mailing container and tape to hold down the cost of producing the NJCB Chronicle. If anyone would like their newsletter by E-mail, please let me know and I will put you on the group list.

Thank you for your cooperation.

Ottilie.

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MEETING NOTICE

The next quarterly meeting of NJCB will be on January 27, 2007 at the Trinity United Methodist Church at 1985 Pennington Road at the corner of Pennington Road and Carlton Avenue in Ewing just north of Trenton. Lunch will be served at noon and the general business meeting will be at 1 PM. The day's activities will be over about 4 PM.

Call Bob Rindt at (609) 912-0657 to ensure that Mercer County Association of the Blind, the host chapter, will have sufficient refreshments for all attending.

Directions

Get onto Route 95 heading south. (From Route 1 south, from Route 295 heading north or Route 195 heading west to Route 295 north)

Get off at Exit #4 making a left turn onto Pennington Road (Route 31 South toward Ewing)

Turn right at the third traffic light, Carlton Avenue. (Across the street from The College of New Jersey)

Immediately turn left into the parking lot of Trinity United Methodist Church, 1985 Pennington Road, Ewing, NJ 08618, Phone: Lucas' Cell: (609) 638-4232.

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President's Message

By Lauren Casey,

Hello All,

Here's hoping everyone had an enjoyable holiday season.

The convention was a real success in that everyone seemed to enjoy themselves and the presenters and exhibitors also seemed to enjoy themselves and feel good about the event. We had our election of officers at the business meeting following the conclusion of the convention.

The new officers are Lauren Casey, President; John Vernon, First Vice President; Frank Schack, Second Vice President; Robert Lucas, Treasurer and Ottilie Lucas, Secretary. Three board members will be appointed prior to the January quarterly NJCB meeting.

There will be a post-convention committee conference call meeting in early January and the Executive Board will have a conference call meeting prior to the January meeting.

The next quarterly NJCB meeting will be on Saturday, 1/27/2007 from noon until 4 P.M. at the Trinity United Methodist Church in Ewing.

Details and directions are in another article in this issue.

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CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT

A small change is proposed to clarify Article VI - Officers and Executive Committee, Section 2 - Executive Committee.

The phrase, "non-voting," will be added after the word "ex officio."

Please vote on this change at your local Chapter meetings and be ready to discuss and vote on the change at our next quarterly meeting on January 27 in Ewing.

Present wording:

Section 2 - Executive Committee

The Executive Committee shall consist of the Officers of the Corporation, the immediate Past President and three legally blind representatives appointed by the incoming President who will serve two year terms. Every effort should be made to ensure regional representation. Standing committee chairpersons shall be ex officio members of the Executive Committee.

Proposed Change:

Section 2 - Executive Committee

The Executive Committee shall consist of the Officers of the Corporation, the immediate Past President and three legally blind representatives appointed by the incoming President who will serve two year terms. Every effort should be made to ensure regional representation. Standing committee chairpersons shall be ex officio, non-voting, members of the Executive Committee.

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NJCB Convention Recap

By Ottilie Lucas

The New Jersey Council of the Blind, (NJCB), held their 2006 annual state convention on Friday and Saturday, October 27 & 28th at the Clarion Hotel/ The Palmer Inn in Princeton. The theme was Transition.

On Friday evening, many of us enjoyed a relaxing dinner at Charlie Brown's. The partners and their guide dogs had a lesson in Reiki, Energy and Healing, presented by Suzanne O'Brian. It was relaxing and informative.

On Saturday morning, we visited 7 exhibitors whose specialties ranged from high tech to crafts. Mayor Hsueh welcomed us to West Windsor.

Jim Dougherty moderated a panel discussion with Vito DeSantis, Executive Director from The Commission for the Blind and Visually Impaired, Kathy Gallagher from National Industries for the Blind and George Felton, a retired VR Counselor and support group facilitator. Bianca Stewart, a local author, spoke at our luncheon as well as at an afternoon session. Rick Fox from DeWitt and Associates demonstrated Global Positioning Systems. We concluded the day with a business meeting and election of new officers. They are: President Lauren Casey; 1st Vice President John Vernon; 2nd Vice President Frank Schack; Secretary Ottilie Lucas and Treasurer Bob Lucas. President Casey will appoint 3 Board Members at Large.

We had young people from the girl scouts and a local church volunteer to help our attendees to fully enjoy the day.

There were plenty of door prizes and a raffle.

NJCB is already working on plans for the 2007 convention.

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HIGHLIGHTS OF THE ACB CONVENTION IN JACKSONVILLE

By Bill Zimmermann

(Editor's note. We apologize for inadvertently leaving this article out of the last edition of the Chronicle). About 1800 people were at the convention and approximately 1/3 of them had guide dogs. This was the most expensive convention I have attended and I have been to 20 conventions. Air fare, hotel expenses and food were the primary culprits. Because all meetings were held at the same hotel, it was pretty easy to get around. The activities included most organizational meetings, and some breakfasts and luncheons.

General business sessions started Sunday night, July 9th, and finished up on Friday afternoon, July 14th. Sunday night was most interesting. The speaker was a blind man who had walked down the stairs at the World Trade Center after the 9/11 terrorist attack. The rest of the general sessions were taken up by speakers and voting. The voting was for four directors, Board of Publications Members, and about 30 resolutions. The voting was done by voice except when it was close. There was then a standup vote and counting of delegates, which was very time consuming. The general sessions were held in the morning except Sunday night and Friday afternoon.

ACB made local tours available. I took the city of Jacksonville tour. I found Jacksonville to be a city of bridges and rivers. I also found out that Jacksonville has more area than any other city in the United States. I took a very interesting coffee company tour and a very informative Blind Services tour. Other excursions that were available but not taken by me were fishing, a swamp tour, a beach party, and a tour of St. Augustine,

the oldest city in the United States.

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Contact Us, NJ TRANSIT Accessible Services

NJ TRANSIT wants to hear from you! If you have suggestions, questions, commendations or complaints we would like to hear them.

Registering Your Comments

There are several ways to make your voice heard. The best way to reach NJ TRANSIT is by visiting our website at www.njtransit.com, which is also available as text only, and register your comments by clicking on "contact us". When you correspond with us via the web, we are able to register your comments and respond to you in a timely, efficient manner.

If you are unable to access the internet, you may also contact NJ TRANSIT at 1-800-772-2222 or text telephone at 1-800-772-2287 (TT). If your input is specifically about Access Link services, call us directly, at 1-800-955-2321, or use text telephone at 1-800-955-6765 (TT).

It is important to include as much detail as you can and, if possible, fill out all subject fields when registering a complaint, suggestion, commendation or question with us. The more information we have, the better we can serve you.

Private Bus Carriers

NJ TRANSIT provides accessible services throughout New Jersey and into New York City and Philadelphia. You can tell if NJ TRANSIT is responsible for the service because our logo and name are printed on the side of the vehicles we or our contract bus carriers operate. However, we do not operate all bus services in New Jersey.

In cases involving other bus operators, it is best to register comments directly with the private bus companies that operate these services. You can find a list of private bus carrier contact information on our website. If you are unable to locate your private bus carrier, we will do our best to forward your comments to the appropriate company.

It is our goal to make your experience with NJ TRANSIT the best it can be and we look forward to serving you.

Jim Redeker, NJ TRANSIT

Assistant Executive Director

Policy, Technology and Customer Service

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Accessible Currency Ruling

Judge James Robertson, in the Federal District Court for the District of Columbia, issued a declaratory judgment on a motion by the plaintiff, the American Council of the Blind, (ACB), finding the U.S. Department of Treasury in violation of Section 504 of the Vocational Rehabilitation Act for failing to provide accessible print currency in a format usable by blind and visually impaired Americans and directing them to enter into discussions with the plaintiff to work out a currency design that will enable individuals who are blind or who have severe sight loss to be able to identify bills by touch and other accessible means. The ruling is the culmination of a lawsuit brought by the ACB in 2002 against the Department of the Treasury for violating Section 504 of the Vocational Rehabilitation Act.

In reviewing the background for the issues, Judge Robertson noted that of the more than 180 nations that issue paper currency, the United States is the only nation which makes no effort to make its paper currency accessible by blind and visually impaired individuals. Several groups within the USA are working to achieve a workable solution to this issue.

The United States Department of the Treasury has appealed the decision to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

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MANY THANKS

By Ottilie Lucas

The Talking Newspaper, which put local news on cassette tapes for thousands of visually impaired Bergen and Passaic county residents for more than 50 years, has mailed its last edition.

Technological advances, a decrease in membership, and the aging of its volunteers have combined to dissolve the organization. The circulation declined in the past several years from a high of more than 450 subscribers to fewer than half that. The equipment used to make the tapes was donated to non-profit organizations that work with the blind and thankfully NJCB was one of these.

We want to thank Housing and United Services, Michael Marrazzo and the Lions Clubs for their part in duplicating and mailing the Large Print and cassette versions of our quarterly newsletter, The NJCB Chronicle for many years. This was done at absolutely no charge to NJCB. Michael informed the officers that he was unable to continue this service. At about the same time, Ed Fedush told us of the Talking News Paper's looking for 501 (c) 3 organizations serving the blind to whom to donate cassette duplicating equipment, cassette recorders, cassette tapes and mailers. We are the fortunate recipients of many of these much needed products.

Matt Quinzer and a colleague met Bob Lucas at a convenient location to turn over this equipment. It is in perfect shape and has already been used to record and duplicate the agenda for the NJCB Convention and this issue of the NJCB Chronicle.

We regret that the people of North Jersey are no longer receiving these newspapers on cassette but the NJCB received a valuable gift at a perfect time.

Thank you, Michael Marrazzo for your long time service. Thank you Talking Newspapers for giving us the ability to carry on. We are now in negotiations with organizations to produce the Large Print version of the Chronicle. We send out over 125 newsletters on E-mail. If any members would like to get on this list, let me know. E-mail is sent out immediately after the NJCB Chronicle is completed. Then the cassettes and large print copies are prepared, copied and mailing labeled and sent. Your chapter has stated your preference of format. If you wish a change, contact me at the phone number or E-mail in the Introduction at the beginning of this issue.

Monmouth County Association for the Blind was also a recipient of some of this equipment. They have offered to copy the Large Print and cassette copies of the NJCB Chronicle and send them to their members after receiving masters. Thank you Monmouth!

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WHO WAS JOSEPH KOHN?

By Pamela Gaston

Joseph Kohn was the Executive Director of the then NJ Commission for the Blind from 1964 to 1976. The phrase "and Visually Impaired" was not added until 1982. During his 12 year tenure, his creativity and energetic hands-on approach to leadership significantly expanded the scope of services provided by the Commission. It was not uncommon for him to accompany direct service staff on visits to consumers. A real visionary with regard to services for people with visual impairments, he had, for many years, tried tirelessly to establish what he then called, "A hub center for training the blind".

Joe Kohn was known for getting things done. He was not one to let bureaucracy keep him from achieving his goals, especially when he wanted to do something that would make life better for Commission clients. Unfortunately, he became very ill and passed away before his dream became a reality. After many obstacles and setbacks, the groundbreaking ceremony for the center took place on Thursday, June 12, 1986 and although it was a very rainy day, it was a bright and sunny day for the Commission.

Two years later, in 1988, the first students began receiving training at the center located at 130 Livingston Avenue in New Brunswick. The Joseph Kohn Rehabilitation Center (JKRC) was designed to provide opportunities for self-sufficiency and full integration into the community.

Over 40 years ago, Joseph Kohn had a dream to build a center that would enable people who are blind and visually impaired to learn skills to achieve independence. Since opening, over 1,500 people have come to the JKRC to acquire skills that become part of their individual journey towards success.

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NEWS FROM LBH

By Anne McArthur, Head of Audiovision and Outreach

Faith Lundgren accepted the position of Director of NJLBH effective November 2006 after serving as Acting Director since May 2006. Faith Lundgren had served as Assistant Director and Head of Readers' Services at NJLBH since October 2005. In a long and distinguished library career, Faith has had many supervisory roles including coordinating Youth Services in 20 branches and serving as training officer in New Jersey's largest library system with 21 branches. Faith is working toward a second Master's degree in Organizational Development and Leadership. She loves working with the NJLBH staff and looks forward to creating partnerships with the wonderful organizations serving the blind and handicapped in New Jersey.

Save the date! Saturday, October 13, 2007 will be the next NJ Library for the Blind and Handicapped Fall Festival. Join NJLBH staff and vendors for an opportunity to network with each other and see the newest technology.

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NEWS FROM THE FRIENDS OF THE NJ LIBRARY

The Friends of the NJ Library for the Blind and Handicapped (The Friends) is a not for profit, tax exempt 501 (c) 3 organization whose primary purpose is raising funds for augmentation of the programs offered by the NJ Library for the Blind and Handicapped (NJLBH). Some of these programs that are funded by the Friends are: The Fall Festival, Talking Pictures, Summer Reading Programs, and Large Print Books.

The officers of the Friends are: President, Bob Rindt; Vice President, Elisabeth Dougherty; Secretary, Ottilie Lucas and Treasurer, Joyce Sowa.

Since NJLBH is a government organization, they are limited in fund raising and donations are not tax deductible. The Friends is the organization that enables NJLBH to seek grants and individual tax exempt donations and gifts. They have two regular meetings a year at the NJLBH facility in Trenton.

If you would like to join the Friends write to the address below for an application. The annual dues are only $10.00 for an individual and $25.00 for a family. Please include your name, address, phone number, E-mail address, preferred format for mailings (Braille, Large Print, cassette or E-mail) and whether you are blind or fully sighted. Make checks payable to Friends of the NJLBH and send to:

PO Box 434

Woodbridge, NJ 07095.

We also appreciate donations and memorial gifts. They should be sent to the same address.

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FYI

SGA GOES UP. Previously, the additional amount an individual on SSDI could earn, referred to as Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA), could not exceed $860 per month ($1,450 per month if legally blind). With this most recent COLA increase the SGA amount will rise to $900 per month ($1,500 if legally blind).

Freedom Scientific now has an official podcast. FSCast is Freedom Scientific's monthly podcast. FSCast features news, interviews, and product demonstrations relating to Freedom Scientific products. FSCast is a great way to make the most of the products you have as well as learning about what's new and what's around the corner. You can subscribe to the podcast, download the MP3 file, and learn more about podcasts and how to hear them at the FSCast home page at http://www.freedomscientific.com/fscast

Direct URL to TV listings specifically for blind and low-vision people. It is very accessible and offers full information about each show. You can first select the day you want, and then, you can select the time range you want, e.g. 6:00 to mid-night, and then, you will be shown all of the listings for that particular time range. All the times given seem to be in the Eastern time zone. The URL is http://www.tv-now.com/tvhelp.htm

By using your screen reader's "find" feature, you can find specific listings you might be looking for such as movies or regularly scheduled programs.

Disability Nation coming to ACB Radio. We are delighted to announce the airing of a new series, Disability Nation, produced and hosted by ACB member Larry Wanger of Arizona. Each week, beginning at 10:30 PM Eastern Standard time Saturday nights in North America, 3:30 AM Universal Sunday mornings, join Larry at the Main Stream of ACB Radio to hear interesting guests and topics relevant to people with disabilities.

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CHAPTER REPORTS

American Council of the Blind of Central New Jersey, David Zulli, President, (732) 985-3175.

Garden State Guide Dog Users, Jean Cannella, President, (609) 587-3212. GSGDU met at the Library for the Blind on December 2, and heard a presentation from James Redeker of NJ Transit. He informed us as to how to register a complaint or a commendation. He explained some of the improvements that are planned with trains, buses and Access Link.

Mercer County Association of the Blind, Ottilie Lucas, president, (609) 882-2446. MCAB held their biannual elections in November. Our new officers are: President, Ottilie Lucas; Vice President, Bob Rindt; Recording Secretary, Barbara Mayo; Corresponding Secretary, Jean Cannella and Treasurer, Larry Morgan. We all enjoyed a festive Christmas party in December with our outgoing president, Harry Eberle as Santa, music by Ira Serle, lots of delicious food, gifts and fun. We are looking forward to hosting the January quarterly meeting of NJCB. See meeting notice.

Monmouth County Association for the Blind, Elizabeth Walzer, President, (732) 280-8387.

NJ Blind Citizens' Association, Frank Schack, President, (973) 595-0116. This has been a wonderful year for the NJBCA. Five new programs have been initiated this year:

  1. Fitness program
  2. Job search/employment program
  3. Crochet club
  4. Art program
  5. Garden program

However, this part of our report is not about the NJ Blind Citizens Association, but a message of thanks to the Lions across the state for their support of our efforts, and to every other organization and individual who has helped.

The NJBCA is jumping right out of the blocks in 2007, continuing to develop groundbreaking programs. The BCA will extend its art program to children, starting in March 2007. This will mark the first time in its 97 year history the NJBCA has offered programs/services to children. The instructor has a bachelors degree in fine arts, and a masters in orientation and mobility. She teaches at St. Lucy's school for blind children, and has a blind child. If anyone would like to visit to observe the art program for adults or children, please call Doug Scott at 732-291-0878.

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MARK YOUR CALENDAR

Thursday, January 18, 2007: Mercer CAB monthly meeting at the Trinity United Methodist Church at 1985 Pennington Road in Ewing. The meeting is from 7:30 to 9:30 PM. Call Ottilie Lucas with any questions at (609) 882-2446.

Saturday, January 27, 2007: NJCB Quarterly meeting at The Trinity United Methodist Church in Ewing at 12 Noon. (See Meeting Notice)

Thursday, February 15, 2007: Mercer CAB monthly meeting. See prior notice.

Thursday, March 15, 2007: Mercer CAB monthly meeting. See prior notice.

Thursday, April 18, 2007: Mercer CAB monthly meeting. See prior notice.

Saturday, April 28, 2007: Quarterly meeting of NJCB at the Monmouth County Association for the Blind's Clubhouse. Watch for details in the April issue of the NJCB Chronicle.

Thursday, May 17, 2007: Mercer CAB monthly meeting. See prior notice.

Sunday, May 20, 2007: Elks Dinner Dance. Watch for more details in April issue.

Saturday, June 2, 2007: Friends of the Library meeting at the Library for the Blind and Handicapped from 10 AM to 1 PM.

Saturday, June 2, 2007: GSGDU meeting at the Library from 1 to 3 PM. Call Jean Cannella at (609) 587-3212 for more details.

Thursday, June 21, 2007: Mercer CAB monthly meeting. See prior notice.

Saturday, July 14, 2007: Mercer CAB Picnic at the Lucas'. Watch future issues for more details.

Saturday, July 21, 2007: Quarterly meeting of NJCB will be held at Camp Happiness in Leonardo, NJ from 12 Noon to 4 PM. Watch future issues for more details. Note that this is the third, not the fourth Saturday of July.

Saturday, August 18, 2007: NJ Library for the Blind and Handicapped's 2007 Summer Reading Program's Final Big Event and Award ceremony.

Saturday, October 13, 2007: The New Jersey Library's Fall Festival NJLBH, 2300 Stuyvesant Avenue, Trenton, NJ 08618. Details will be posted on their website closer to the time.

Saturday, October 27, 2007: The NJCB Convention will be held at the Clarion Hotel/Palmer Inn. Watch future issues for more details.

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NOTE: Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this newsletter are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinions and views of the New Jersey Council of the Blind officers and/or members. We reserve the right to edit articles submitted to the Chronicle for length and accuracy.