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The New Jersey Council of the Blind

CHRONICLE

April, 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 are 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.  If anyone would like their newsletter by E-mail, please let us know and you will be put on the group list.

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. All information must be received by June 1st to be included in the next issue of the Chronicle.

The NJCB officers are President John Vernon 609-392-3674; First Vice President Liz Walzer 732-280-8387; 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.  Board members are Doug Heine, Joyce Sowa and Chris Ward.

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MEETING NOTICE

The next NJCB quarterly meeting is being held on April 25th at the Monmouth County Association for the Blind's clubhouse at 3401 Belmar Blvd., Wall Township, NJ. Lunch will be served at Noon and the Business meeting is scheduled to run from 1:00 to 4:00 PM. We would like attendance responses to be turned in no later than April 15th. Leave a message on the clubhouse phone at 732-280-2326. The building will not open until 11:45 AM.  

DirectionsFrom the Garden State Parkway:

Get off at exit 98 onto Rt. 138 east.

After first traffic light take jug handle marked Glendola.

Cross Rt. 138 onto Allenwood Rd.

Clubhouse is on the left corner of Allenwood Rd. and Belmar Blvd.  Parking is across the street.

From Rt. 195 East:

Route 195 east becomes Rt. 138 east.  Follow above directions.

From Rt. 18 South:

Get off at exit to Rt. 195 heading to Trenton

Allenwood Road is at second traffic light.

Clubhouse is on the corner.

From Rt. 35 South:

Turn right onto Belmar Blvd.

Clubhouse is 2 miles on left.

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PRESIDENT'S MESSAGE

Hello NJCB Friends,  

The calendar tells us that it is now spring time. Really?  A constant warm temperature has not yet arrived, but at least we're heading in the right direction.

The time since our last meeting has been busy for me, which, I hope, is a positive for our organization.  Bob Lucas and I went to the American Council of the Blind's annual Presidents' meeting in Arlington, Virginia.  Thanks to the fact that Bob seems to know everyone, I was able to meet many other affiliate presidents and other leaders in our organization.  I was pleased that many of the topics discussed were already under way in our state affiliate.  Two such examples are:

  1. The designing of the state website.  This is, of course, already under way in N.J.
  2. The importance of having a presence on your state Rehabilitation Council.  Thank you Lauren Casey.  Please note that Eric Bridges, our guest speaker at last year's convention, is the only blind representative on the National Rehabilitation Council.

There were also new ideas on which we can work together.  One idea is to conduct a successful Regional Leadership Development Seminar.  I was able to make contact with state representatives from Mass., N.Y., and Pa.  We will begin working on a Regional Seminar possibly for next spring.  I will definitely need everyone's involvement in this endeavor.  I truly enjoyed this conference and I am very thankful to Bob Lucas for his generosity to me.

I also met with John Reiff and my fellow members of the Consumer Advisory Board the first week of March.  The news here is not good.  The state budget shortfall will hit all agencies. The Commission is down from 313 employees in January to 309 as I write this article.  It may drop to 303 by July. This, of course, directly affects the ability to meet the needs of the blind community.  I will share more with you on this topic at our next quarterly meeting in April. 

I have one last piece of information.  I have been invited to speak to John Reiff and about 60 members of his staff on behalf of the ACB and the NJCB.   I accepted this kind invitation.  Please keep your fingers crossed for me on April the 8th.

I look forward to seeing everyone on April 25th at the Monmouth County clubhouse.  

All the best!  John 

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The Elks Invite You

The Trenton Elks again invite any blind person in New Jersey and a guest to a dinner on Sunday, May 17th to their hall at 42 Decou Ave. in West Trenton.  There is no charge for this event (as in free)!  They are gracious hosts and serve a delicious dinner. Music will be provided by Stan Partyka.  We will eat, sing and dance and just have an all around good time. It's as much fun as a wedding reception.  Don't miss it. It is one of the highlights of the year!  

Date:  Sunday May 17, 2009  

Time:  1:00 to 4:00 PM

Place:  Trenton Elks Lodge, 42 Decou Ave. in West Trenton (the cross street is Parkway Ave.) 609-771-0105.

Make your reservations by phoning Bob Rindt at 609-912-0657 by May 7th.

Directions:

From the North:

Take Rt. 31 South; turn right onto Rt. 95 South one mile south of the Pennington Circle.  Get off at exit 2 turning right toward West Trenton, Turn left at the second traffic light (West Upper Ferry Road).  Turn right onto Decou Ave. where road bends right.  If you go under the railroad overpass, you've gone too far.  The Elks Lodge is on the left where Decou Avenue bends to the right.

Or:

Take Rt. 1 South and take Rt. 95 South after passing Mercer Mall on the right and Quaker Bridge Mall on the left.

Get off at exit 2 and follow above directions.

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From the East:

Take Rt. 195 West to Rt. 295 North, which becomes Rt. 95 South. Get off at exit 2 and follow the above directions.

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From the South:

Take Rt. 206, Rt. 130, Rt. 295 or Turnpike north to Bordentown.  Pick up Rt. 295 North, which becomes Rt. 95 South.  Get off at exit 2 and follow the above directions.  Have a safe trip and we hope to see you there.

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2009 LBH Fall Festival - Save the Date! 

It's 2009 and that means that LBH will be having our Fall Festival.

Please be sure to save Saturday, October 3, 2009. LBH is making plans for an exciting day for all who attend. Details will be provided in future publications.

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StreetTalk GPS available 

A StreetTalk GPS to be used with PacMate by Freedom Scientific is looking for a new home. Call Leanne Cherry for details. Any offer will be considered.

Call (973) 228-2510

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Social Security 

On February 17, 2009, President Obama signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.  This new legislation provides a one-time payment of $250.00 to Social Security and Supplemental Security Income recipients.  Over 60 million recipients will receive a one-time payment. We expect all payments to be delivered by late May 2009.  Beneficiaries should not contact Social Security unless they do not receive their payment by June 4th.  As the new legislation is implemented, any updates will be passed along in order to keep you informed.  You can learn more about these one-time payments at www.socialsecurity.gov

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Low Vision News

 
Dr. Siwoff is the editor of a new web journal called
www.lowvisionnews.com.  This journal will feature interviews with leading scientists around the world who do research to find cures for eye diseases.  In addition to feature articles, readers can log on and identify the disease they are interested in. 
They will be directed to the appropriate article in the archive. 
An interactive feature exists at the end of each article, which allows the reader to discuss the article with other readers and with the scientists. 

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Cell Phone for the Blind

Verizon Wireless released TALKS for Verizon Wireless, a new assistive technology that converts displayed text into speech for users with visual impairments.  The offering is powered by Nuance Communications, uses ETI-Eloquence text-to-speech (TTS), and is a joint venture of Verizon and Vodafone. 
According to Joyce Figula, director of marketing operations at Verizon Wireless, the solution came about because the company wanted to offer a fully accessible tool for customers with visual impairments. 
Available initially on the MOTO Q 9c smartphone, TALKS for Verizon Wireless supports audio feedback for writing and reading text messages, email, and notes.  According to Figula, TALKS speaks everything on the handset of a mobile device to users with visual impairments and will identify icons, assist with menu navigation, and read messages.  With TALKS, the MOTO Q 9c can read the caller ID of an incoming call; dial a number from the phone's contacts directory;  add and edit entries in the contacts directory; read and write text messages and email; read and write documents using Mobile Office; access and compose multimedia message service (MMS) messages; use Mobile Internet Explorer to access the Internet; and control speech volume and rate of speech. 

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Programs for the 2009 Inauguration

The ACB national office received Braille and large print program booklets of the January 20, 2009 Presidential Inauguration.  Melanie Brunson, Executive Director of ACB, has offered them to the state and special interest affiliates.   Lauren Casey has both a Braille and large copy for NJCB. The large print copy does include some pictures. Anyone interested in reading one of these program booklets may contact Lauren Casey at 1 (609) 912-0657 or by e-mail at lrcasey1@verizon.net.

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Short & Sweet, Building Braille Coded Brands

Short & Sweet, Building Braille Coded Brands has launched its first product, the Blind Awareness Ribbon.  The ribbon raises awareness and implements a level of communication that until now has never been explored.  The Blind Awareness Ribbon is 1 inch by 1/2 inch set on a white background topped with raised two dimensional black dots, in representation of the Braille code.  It is a unique and much needed symbol in both the blind communities as well as the major market place.  The dots are arranged to spell the word Braille (BRL) in grade 2 Braille.  Imagine finding your favorite brands utilizing Braille/large print on their packaging/products, navigating the supermarket or department store independently reading the price and shelves by the use of such methods.  Supporting this ribbon will propel such ideas.  All of Short & Sweet's product lines are already using Braille and bold print on their packaging and products.   As we have all heard, change is in the air and together we can be the change we want to feel, so call today to set up a fundraiser or sale, and be sure and ask about wholesale pricing for organizations and chapters.  For more information visit us at www.shortansweet.com or call us at (732) 297-2200.  Retail Price: $4.99    Wholesale prices vary according to the quantity ordered.

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Audio Descriptions at Disney World

Hi all,  
I am a Disney Cast member working for the Disney Travel Company in Anaheim California. Today I had the opportunity to help evaluate a new project Disney will soon make available in their Anaheim and Florida theme parks. Later this year, the Disneyland resort will have audio descriptions on their attractions. Florida already has some in place. Today we evaluated Winnie the Pooh. Disneyland is also working on The Finding Nemo Submarine Attraction and Pirates. Guests would put a deposit down on a receiver which is attached to a lanyard. They would have a headset on and as they walked up to the cue of the attraction and the description would begin. It is based on each segment of the attraction triggering frequencies based upon the guest's location at any moment. 
WGBH wrote the dialog and recorded it and now Disney is working on the synching of the dialog with the attraction recordings. 
Disney World already has this available and later this year or early next year, lanyards will also have GPS receivers in Disney World so that guests in the park can tell where they are as they move through the park. 
Disneyland will also have it shortly after that time period. This would be of great benefit to blind as well as sighted guests. 
Please support the Florida Council of the Blind by using
www.fcb.gttrends.com for your travel needs. 50% of the commissions from your travel purchases will be donated to FCB.

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SAMNet Radio

Serotek Corporation has launched a new online radio station. The station is called SAMNet Radio and can be heard from http://radio.samobile.net
The name of the station is derived from Serotek's online community, the System Access Mobile Network, or SAMNet. SAMNet Radio will air the best music of the last 40 years, the latest technology news, live and interactive voice chats, and a portal for all to know what is happening in the SAMNet community. Directed at an audience who is blind or has low vision, SAMNet Radio's slogan is "Your station, your community." The station's manager is Michael Lauf, former creator, host and producer of HandiTalk, the first interactive internet radio program to discuss the needs of the blind and visually impaired. "I'm excited to oversee a radio station that specializes in the needs and interests of the visually impaired community," said Michael Lauf, SAMNet Radio station manager, "The combination of music, home-grown podcasts, access technology news and interviews, and interactive talk shows, all on one radio station, will make us like no other entity in the world."

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Chapter Reports

Garden State Guide Dog Users (GSGDU): Their next conference call/ business meeting will be on Thursday, June 4, 2009 at 8:00 PM. The conference call in number is 1(616) 347-8100. After dialing in you will be prompted to dial your access code which is 425373 followed by the number or pound sign which is at the right of zero.  When you are on, announce yourself and become part of the call.   All interested parties are invited to join in. 

Members at Large (MAL): The members-at-large of the NJCB had their first conference call meeting on Thursday, January 29th. We had low attendance this first call but with a lively exchange of information. The call lasted a little under an hour. These conference call meetings will be held the week following the NJCB quarterly meetings.   Our next conference call meeting will be held on Thursday, April, 30th, at 8:00 PM. The call in number is 1(616) 347-8100. After dialing in you will be prompted to dial your access code which is 425373 followed by the number or pound sign which is at the right of zero.  When you are on, announce yourself and become part of the call. 

If anyone has any questions please contact Lauren Casey at 1 (609) 912-0657 or e-mail lrcasey1@verizon.net

Mercer County Association of the Blind (MCAB): MCAB cancelled our January meeting due to ice and cold. Our February meeting was jam packed with lots of information from representatives on the SRC, Consumer Advisory Board of CBVI, the NJCB quarterly meeting, Motor Vehicle and lots more. We will have speakers from our membership, Trish Ebel from DeWitt and Associates and others in the next few months. Mary Ryan arranged for some of our members to go to the new RTAC at the NJ Library for the Blind and Handicapped to learn more about adaptive equipment.

We hope to see many of you at the ELKS dinner dance on May 17th. They really give a delicious dinner and the music will be presented by Stan Partyka.  At least four of our members will be going to Orlando this July for the ACB Convention. We continue to grow and all of our members are benefiting from our activities.

Monmouth County Association for the Blind (MCAFB): Hello everyone. It has been a long cold winter and we're looking forward to some warm weather in the spring.   The Monmouth County Association for the Blind is celebrating their 58th anniversary in April. The anniversary party is being held at the Barclay in Belmar on Monday, April 6th. It will be a night of good food, good fellowship, and dancing.

Hold the date of April 24th for a wine party hosted by Monmouth County Association for the Blind at their clubhouse. All who attend will enjoy entertainment, raffles, hors d'oeuvres and wine. Ticket prices are $40.00 per person. If anyone plans to come to the wine party on Friday the 24th and stay over to attend the NJCB meeting on Saturday the 25th, let Liz or Al know so they can make arrangements for transportation from your accommodations to the clubhouse. Call (732) 280-2326 to make transportation arrangements.

We're looking forward to seeing you all in April.

NJ Blind Citizens Association (NJBCA): NJBCA/Camp Happiness is moving forward with a plan to sell the home on Sandy Hook Bay that has hosted their free summer vacation program for the blind for 78 years.  The second stage of this initiative is to build a new home with private bedrooms and baths.  The accommodations of the 1950's are no longer attractive to most vacationers, and this plan, along with accessibility and special design will make this a home run for the NJBCA and the summer program.

The summer program may be compromised during this transition, as it is obviously not the best time to be marketing property.  The new home would be built at cost by a construction company that will be recognized after all zoning, permits and related work is accomplished.

Please direct any questions to Doug Scott, Executive Director, at 732-291-0878. 

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MARK YOUR CALENDAR

Thursday, April 16, 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 Bob Rindt with any questions at 609-912-0657. Saturday, April 25, 2009: Quarterly meeting of NJCB at the Monmouth County Association for the Blind's Clubhouse. Call Liz Walzer by April 15th to let her know you are coming at 732-280-2326.

Thursday, April 30, 2009: Members at Large conference call/ business meeting at 8:00 PM.  See chapter report for details.

Sunday, May 17, 2009: Elks Dinner Dance. See prior article.

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

Thursday, June 4, 2009: Garden State Guide Dog Users conference call/ business meeting at 8:00 PM. All are welcome. See chapter report for details.

Saturday, June 6, 2009: Friends of the Library meeting at the Library for the Blind and Handicapped from 10 AM to 12 Noon. Join them for lunch for a charge of only $5.00.   Join us for dessert as we celebrate The Seeing Eye's 80th birthday.  The cake will be donated by Garden State Guide Dog Users.

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. Details and directions will be in the July issue of the NJCB Chronicle.

Saturday, August 1, 2009: Mercer CAB summer picnic at the Trenton Elks on Decou Avenue in West Trenton.  Details and directions will be in the July issue of the NJCB Chronicle.

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.  The editor reserves the right to edit articles submitted for both length and content.

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