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The New Jersey Council of the Blind

CHRONICLE

January, 2009

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 that concern blind and visually impaired 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 njcounciloftheblind@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.

You may obtain the current and back issues of the Chronicle and other information from our web site at www.njcounciloftheblind.org

The NJCB officers are: President, John Vernon, 447 Bellevue Ave., Apt 7-I, Trenton, NJ 08618, (609) 392-3674; First Vice President, Liz Walzer, (732) 280-2326; 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

You will get your next quarterly issue if and only if you return the mailing container with the tape. 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.

MEETING NOTICE

The next quarterly meeting of NJCB will be on January 24, 2009 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 4th traffic light, Carlton Avenue. It is 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 John Vernon,

Hi All. I am writing this note on December 10, 2008. However, you are receiving it in January of 2009. Therefore I hope that everyone had a beautiful and safe Christmas and or holiday season. I trust 2009 to bring to each of you interesting challenges, wonderful memories, and answers to questions of the past.

I look forward to seeing everyone on January 24th in Ewing. Please try to attend as many of our quarterly meetings as possible. The strength of the NJCB can only be increased by direct involvement with as many members as possible.

The agenda for our January meeting is not yet complete. Please remember that this message is being written in early December. One known item shall be the change to a biannual convention. The idea is to hold our convention on the year in which the Library for the Blind and Handicapped does not hold its Fall Festival. This change may involve an amendment to our constitution. If anyone has other items that they would like included in our January meeting, please feel free to contact me at whynot48@comcast.net, or call me at 609-392-3674.

Joyce Sowa and Chris Ward have been appointed as At Large Executive Board members and one other appointment is pending.

I again thank you for your confidence in electing me your president. We shall all work together to advance the issues and increase our understanding of the blindness community.

I again look forward to meeting with everyone on January 24th.

All the best! John

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Past President's Message

Hello Everyone!

This is my last president's message for the Chronicle as out going president of NJCB. As I mentioned to those in attendance at the convention on Saturday, October 25th, I am both honored and thankful to have been your president for these past four years. I want to thank all of the membership, families, professionals and other readers of this newsletter.

I look forward to handing reins over to the newly elected president, John Vernon. John had been my first vice president for the last two years of my term. I appreciate all his support and help during that time.

As immediate past president I look forward to assisting the new slate of officers in future endeavors for the NJCB.

Sincerely, Lauren Casey

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NJCB Convention Recap

By Ottilie Lucas

Our 2008 annual convention was filled with information, fellowship and good food. It started on Friday evening, October 24th with a social evening and Italian dinner at the Monmouth County Association for the Blind's clubhouse. We met bright and early on Saturday morning at Doolan's in Spring Lake Heights for a continental breakfast with lots of raffle and other prizes. Lauren Casey conducted her last business meeting before turning the gavel over to our newly elected president. Those elected for the terms January, 2009 through December, 2010 were: President- John Vernon, First Vice President- Liz Walzer, Second Vice President- Frank Schack, Secretary- Ottilie Lucas and Treasurer- Bob Lucas.

We had updates from Vito DeSantis from the NJ Commission for the Blind and Visually Impaired and Adam Szczepaniak from the NJ Library for the Blind and Handicapped. Eric Bridges, Director of Advocacy and Governmental Affairs from the American Council of the Blind was our keynote speaker at our luncheon banquet as well as a presenter in the afternoon. Sean Kean, New Jersey State Senator, and Susan Vanino, Peer Support coordinator, were other presenters.

We all were much better informed as to how to be better advocates and what services were available and how to get them.

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Non-driver handicapped identification card

Any New Jersey resident 17 years of age and older with a disability can apply for a non-driver handicapped ID, issued solely for the purpose of providing identification. It is not a license to drive and cannot be used to park in a handicapped parking space.
How to get one

For your convenience, MVC accepts American Express® card, MasterCard® card, Visa® card, checks, money orders and cash.

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Don't Overlook This Tax Credit

Many disabled taxpayers may be overlooking a valuable tax credit that could increase their federal income tax refunds by as much as $4,824.00. The IRS estimates that up to one in four taxpayers who qualify for the Earned Income Tax Credit - or EITC - fail to claim the credit. Are you one of them?
You may qualify if your income was under $41,646 last year and you, or your spouse, worked or received disability retirement benefits under an employer plan and were under the minimum retirement age. The amount of your EITC depends on several factors, such as the amount of your earned income, your filing status, whether you have children and how many, etc. Special rules apply if you have a child who is permanently and totally disabled.
To get the credit you earned, you must 1) file a federal income tax return and 2) claim the credit. Many communities have volunteer income tax assistance sites or local IRS Taxpayer Assistance Centers, which will compute your EITC and prepare your return without charge. To locate a volunteer site, call your community's 211 or 311 number for local services or call the IRS at 1-800-906-9887.
Some states have a similar tax credit, increasing the dollars due eligible EITC recipients.
Find more information about EITC in alternative formats for people with print disabilities at
http://www.irs.gov/. Follow the homepage link to "Accessibility", then the link to "Accessible IRS Tax Products" and select the appropriate link to download accessible forms or publications. The IRS web site provides accessible electronic files in formats including: ASCII Text (.txt), Braille Ready Format (.BRF), and Talking Tax forms in PDF that work with MSAA compliant screen reading software and Braille display devices.

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FYI

At last - The talking iPod has arrived. Apple has released the new iPod Nano in a variety of colors and in 8 Gigabyte or 16 Gigabyte guises. The menu structure on the iPod can now be spoken using a synthetic voice, so now if you can't see the iPod screen, you will not be left wondering what tracks you have downloaded or have selected to play

All New Bookshare Coming Soon. More accessible, easier to use, more books than ever, the new Bookshare will be here soon with a completely fresh look, easier navigation and powerful new features. These improvements will make it easier for you to find the books that you need and enjoy!
Here are a few things that are new:

The first time you visit the new site, you'll be asked a couple of questions in a wizard and shown a table of contents guiding you to lots more information about what's new. Please plan to spend a few minutes reviewing the information, so you get the full benefit of the new Bookshare. Their web site is

www.bookshare.org
Optelec Announces Innovative Near and Distance Low Vision Solution with the FarView. Optelec announced the release of FarView, a portable and powerful magnification solution that redefines how low vision users are able to access, store, review and share information. Using a centralized, auto focus camera and six different viewing modes the FarView allows the user to view from a distance as well as up close. The FarView enables the user to store the data for up close review in more detail at any time. Also, FarView offers the user flexibility to connect to an external monitor or PC, encouraging the user to access printed text and photos comfortably and efficiently. In January 2007, Tieman U.S., Holding Company to Optelec U.S. spun off ShopLowVision.com (
http://www.ShopLowVision.com) and LowVision.com (http://www.LowVision.com) as a sister companies, providing the one-stop-shop for optical, non-optical and daily living aids products solutions and education for eye care professionals and consumers.

VIP Talking Thermostat. The VIP series is the first digital thermostat with audio playback of day, time, indoor temperature, temperature setting and programming instructions so blind and visually impaired users can precisely and easily manage their indoor comfort. Yes, the VIP "talks" to you! When you press the day/time, weekend or weekday schedule buttons, you are voice prompted to enter the correct settings. To order a Talking Thermostat, or to obtain more information, visit the ACB online store at www.acb.org.

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NJCB CHRONICLE SUPPLEMENTS

During the period between quarterly issues of the NJCB Chronicle, many important and interesting articles are sent out to those who have E-mail. Frequently material is received that is too long to be included in the print or cassette versions. The editors of the NJ Chronicle will send out these articles in their entirety by E-mail. If you are not presently receiving an E-mail version of the Chronicle and have access to E-mail, please send your E-mail address to njcounciloftheblind@verizon.net and you will be included in our group list.

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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, Lauren Casey, President, (609) 912-0657.

Garden State Guide Dog Users met on December 6th. Several of our members were absent. We discussed the special accommodation of service animals remaining with their handlers in an emergency situation. A new law ensures that these special animals are to remain with their handler. We are to provide supplies for their needs as we should for ourselves. Many of us have been involved in workshops and presentations on Emergency Preparedness. This is especially important when working with the disabled and those using service animals. Mercer County has a special registry for all disabled residents to facilitate evacuation if necessary.

Mercer County Association of the Blind, Ottilie Lucas, President, (609) 882-2446. We had our biannual elections in November. Our officers have not changed. We enjoyed hearing from speakers from the community as well as our members. The Trenton Elks graciously provided their spacious hall and volunteers for our Christmas dinner. Santa Claus (Harry Eberle) was there to give out presents and spread holiday cheer.

We hope to see many of you at 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, Charles Blood, President, (732) 671-9371.

Despite continuing financial challenges only made worse by the recent economic downturn, Camp Happiness is moving ahead with expanded program offerings to meet increasing demand.

A music component will be added to the Fine Arts Program for the Blind, featuring educational and participatory components. Music lessons will also be offered. On November 11, the fine arts program was "exported" to a blind/visually impaired support group in Point Pleasant. Doug Scott, Executive Director, says that this is yet another milestone for the program. Camp Happiness recently presented a public art exhibit, in concert with St. Lucy's School for Blind Children (Philadelphia). Scott states that the art program is getting statewide publicity, and has received hundreds of hits on the NJBCA website.

Camp Happiness is also moving ahead with plans to construct a new ten-bedroom home, with private baths, to house its free summer vacation program for the blind. This will be done, at cost, by a construction company that has been very supportive of the organization. Funds will be realized from the sale of the 78-year-old current ten-bedroom home on Sandy Hook Bay.

Current NJBCA Newsletter, and other information, can always be found at www.njbca.org.

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MARK YOUR CALENDAR

Thursday, January 15, 2009: 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 24, 2009: NJCB Quarterly meeting at The Trinity United Methodist Church in Ewing at 12 Noon. See Meeting Notice.

Thursday, February 19, 2009: Mercer CAB monthly meeting. See prior notice.

Thursday, March 19, 2009: Mercer CAB monthly meeting. See prior notice.

Thursday, April 16, 2009: Mercer CAB monthly meeting. See prior notice.

Saturday, April 25, 2009: 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.

Sunday, May 17, 2009: Elks Dinner Dance. Watch for more details in the April issue of the NJCB Chronicle.

Thursday, May 21, 2009: Mercer CAB monthly meeting. See prior notice.

Saturday, June 6, 2009: Friends of the Library meeting at the Library for the Blind and Handicapped from 10 AM to 1 PM.

Saturday, June 6, 2009: Garden State Guide Dog Users meeting at the NJ Library for the Blind and Handicapped from 1 to 3 PM. Call Lauren Casey at (609) 912-0657 for more details.

Thursday, June 18, 2009: Mercer CAB monthly meeting. See prior notice.

Saturday, July 18, 2009: Quarterly meeting of NJCB will be held at Camp Happiness in Leonardo, NJ from 12 Noon to 4 PM. Watch future issues of the NJCB Chronicle for more details. Note that this is the third, not the fourth Saturday of July.

Saturday, August 1, 2009: MCAB picnic at the Trenton ELKS Lodge.

Saturday, October 3, 2009: The Fall Festival at the NJ Library for the Blind and Handicapped.

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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.