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The New Jersey Council of the Blind

CHRONICLE

January, 2010

We thank Audiovision, the Radio Reading Service of the New Jersey State Library Talking Book and Braille Center for the use of their recording studio to produce the cassette and digital formats that are aired on Audiovision and our website www.njcounciloftheblind.org. The Chronicle is read by Bob Lucas. For more information about Audiovision call 1-800-792-8322 or visit their website at www.audiovision-nj.org.

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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MEETING NOTICE

The next quarterly meeting of NJCB will be on January 23, 2010 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 at 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. Phone: Lucas' Cell: (609) 638-4232. In case of inclement weather, call Lucas' cell phone to confirm meeting status.

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President's Message

By John Vernon

Hi All, It is a weird time of the year to write this Message. You see, I am writing on December 6th. Therefore the, Holiday Season is just getting under way. However, you will not receive this message until the Christmas, Hanukah, and Quanza Holidays are over. Therefore, please allow me to address this message in both the present and the future.

The last quarter of The NJCB activities has been both busy and productive. Our quarterly meeting at the Mercer County Library in Lawrence Township was informative and a first for all of us. We had four featured speakers. Vito DeSantis, the Director of the State Commission for the Blind gave us an update on the current status of the Commission. He reported that because of budgetary problems, there is still a hiring freeze on all state departments with the exception of law enforcement. Therefore, whenever anyone leaves The Commission, they cannot be replaced, except internally. Thus some work assignments are currently being shared between the three regions of the Commission. In addition, there still may be lay offs of up to five additional staff employees of the Commission if additional funding cannot be found by the beginning of the new budget year in July of 2010. On the positive side, it was reported that approximately 1.3 million dollars was awarded to the Commission under the Stimulus Package. This is a one time only two year grant. The money cannot be used for on going programming. The use of this money must be used only for new initiatives and last no longer than two years. These new initiatives are still in the planning stage. There is one program that has been decided upon, however, the exact implementation and start up date is still in the planning stage. It will start sometime in the first quarter of 2010. This will mentor the mentoring agents throughout the state in Technology Instruction. Blind individuals with more advanced Technology experience will be given further instruction in how to instruct non experienced Blind individuals in Technology training. These newly trained instructors can then utilize their knowledge in any way they choose. This could be a new route for entrepreneurial initiatives throughout the state. Vito said that he will keep us updated on other new programs as they are decided.

Bill Dougherty gave us an update on the new digital players from The NJ State Library Talking Book and Braille Center. These new players are currently being sent out to all members of the Library. You will be able to choose from two models. There is a basic model which will allow you to play the books as they are sent out from the Library. The more advanced model allows the reader to set bookmarks, navigate to sections, chapters, articles and bookmarks. However, both players will also give you the opportunity to download digital books from The National Library Service from your computer onto thumb drives or purchased NLS digital cartridges. Please note that the availability of new digitally recorded books will be a very slow process. The first books might be available during the first quarter of 2010. The Friends of the Library for the Blind and Handicapped gave a generous gift of $20,000 to buy blank "cartridges" and mailers in order to start recording the books for use in the new machines. Bill also gave us an update on Newsline which is now available on line as well as over the phone.

Rick Fox and Trish Ebel also spoke at our quarterly meeting on the programs currently being offered by DeWitt and Associates. You may contact them at 1-877-447-6500 for further information. We are all grateful to The Garden State Guide Dog Users for sponsoring this quarterly meeting. They did a wonderful job.

Ottilie and Bob Lucas, Lauren Casey, and I accepted an invitation from the President of the Pennsylvania Council of the Blind to attend their Convention in the Pocono Mountains. They were very cordial in welcoming us and we gained some new information and ideas for our convention next year. I will share this information with you at our quarterly meeting in January in Mercer County. I hope to see many of you at this meeting.

On a personal note, I would like to share an experience that I had just a week ago. I traveled by myself from Trenton, NJ to Columbia, SC to visit an old friend who has retired down south with his daughter and grand daughters. I traveled by train by myself. I must admit that I was a bit apprehensive about this adventure. As a blind passenger traveling alone on a train for such a long distance, I wasn't quite sure on what to expect. Please allow me to assure you that I was very pleasantly surprised. The employees at Amtrak could not have been nicer or more accommodating. Whether getting to the correct platform and track location, getting on and off the train, getting me to the correct seat, or meeting my needs on the fifteen hour ride, all of the employees made sure that I felt at ease and that it was their pleasure to assist me if necessary. In addition to the exceptional service I also took advantage of the slight fare reduction because of my blindness. In short I highly recommend traveling by Amtrak if it will fit into your travel needs.

Now on to the present and future, I hope that everyone had a happy and blessed holiday season with family and friends. I was planning to be in Chicago with my sister and her family. Due to inclement weather and restricted flight availability, I was not able to make it this year. We all range in age from three and a half to sixty eight. No decade is left out except someone in their twenties. Just wait for four years and both the twenties and the seventies will be covered. C'est la vie!

This New Year brings forth many new opportunities and responsibilities. We need to decide on a location, theme, guest speakers, catering needs, detail planning, and, of course answering the unexpected for our convention. I hope that everyone is ready to put your creative talents and desires to work for the benefit of us all. Please don't forget to sell those raffle tickets, the proceeds of which will go to lower the cost of the convention for each member who attends.

Bob Lucas and I are once again planning to attend the Annual Presidents' Conference in Washington D.C. in February. We hope to both share and learn from our fellow members from across the country. We also hope to meet with our fellow mid Atlantic state members. In order to plan a leadership training program for some of our younger members which we hope to hold in the fall.

All of our local chapters also have their activities planned through out the year. We will share these plans at each of our quarterly meetings

I hope that everyone has an exciting, healthy, successful, and blessed New Year. See you on January 23rd in Mercer County. All the best! John

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Social Security Changes for 2010

Cost-of-Living Adjustment (COLA):

Monthly Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits will not automatically increase in 2010 as there was no increase in the Consumer Price Index (CPI-W) from the third quarter of 2008 to the third quarter of 2009. See USA Today news story, dated October 14, below.

Social Security Disability Thresholds:

Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA)

Non-Blind 2009:$ 980/mo.; 2010: $ 1,000/mo - $20 /month increase

Blind 2009: $1,640/mo.; 2010: $1,640/mo. Unchanged in 2010.

Trial Work Period (TWP) 2009: $ 700/mo.; 2010: $ 720/mo - $20 /month

increase

SSI Federal Payment Standard:

Individual 2009: $674/mo.; 2010: $674/mo. Unchanged in 2010.

Couple 2009:$1,011/mo.; 2010: $1,011/mo. Unchanged in 2010.

SSI Student Exclusion:

Monthly limit 2009: $1,640; 2010: $1,640. Unchanged in 2010.

Annual limit 2009: $6,600; 2010: $6,600. Unchanged in 2010.

President Obama has proposed an extra $250 for senior citizens, veterans, and people with disabilities, calling it an addition to his stimulus bill "on behalf of those hardest hit by this recession"

"These payments will provide aid to more than 50 million people in the coming year, relief that will not only make a difference for them, but for our economy as a whole, complementing the tax cuts we've provided working families and small businesses through the Recovery Act," Obama said in a statement.

Congress must approve the payments, which would cost $13 billion, according to a White House statement. Many members of the Democratic majorities in the House and Senate have endorsed such a step.

The fact sheet said 57 million Americans would benefit from the proposal:

"These include 49 million Social Security beneficiaries, 5 million Supplemental Security Income beneficiaries, 2 million veterans benefit recipients, 0.5 million railroad retirement and disability beneficiaries, and also about 1 million public-employee retirees not entitled to any of the previous benefits."

Eric Bridges

Director of Advocacy and Governmental Affairs

American Council of the Blind

2200 Wilson Blvd. Suite 650

Arlington, VA 22201

Phone: (202) 467-5081

Fax: (703) 465-5085

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2010 A Centennial Year For
The New Jersey Commission
for the Blind and Visually Impaired

By Pamela Gaston, CBVI

In April of 1909, Governor Franklin Fort and the New Jersey State Legislature mandated that an agency be established for the direct purpose "to provide any and all means which shall be deemed feasible for ameliorating the condition of the blind."

The formation of a single agency to administer to the needs of New Jersey's blind population was the culmination of a wave of social conscience that swept the country in the late 1800s and early 1900s. This was in no small part inspired by the advocacy of then, media figure, Helen Keller. As a result, significant strides were made toward equalizing opportunities for people who were blind.

The New Jersey Commission for the Blind was established in 1910 under the leadership of Lydia Young Hayes, a teacher of the blind who'd lost her vision due to an injury at the age of nine. The agency's first assignment was to compile a registry of the state's blind residents. By the end of the year 750 people living as far north as Bergen County and as far south as Cape May were registered by Commission staff.

Also during that first year, Miss Hayes and another teacher, Janet Paterson, established the state's first integrated classes for blind and sighted students within the Newark school system. These classes were based on a very innovative philosophy that integrated classes provided blind students with the educational tools and exposure necessary for a smooth assimilation into society.

Throughout 2010, the Commission will commemorate the centennial anniversary by sharing in a variety of events and activities presented by groups and organizations working cooperatively with the Commission to address the needs, issues and concerns of New Jersey's blind and visually impaired residents. The aforementioned events and activities will be held in addition to a 100th Anniversary Awards Luncheon and Blindness Awareness Month activities during October 2010.

The Concordia School for the Blind at St. Joseph's, The Little Rock Foundation, The State Library Talking Book and Braille Center, and the NJ Foundation for the Blind are just a few organizations planning events in recognition of the 100th anniversary.

An integral part of the centennial celebration will be presenting historical snapshots through the personal reminiscence of people who share a connection with the Commission, either through employment or the agency's influence on their personal life experiences. We are particularly interested in hearing from individuals who have memories from the first 50 year period, however, whether from 1929 or 2009 your contribution will still be welcomed. Photos or artifacts that might help depict your anecdote or some stage of the past 100 years would also be appreciated.

All of New Jersey has reason to be proud of The Commission for the Blind and Visually Impaired, not only because we were one of the first states to establish an agency for people who are blind, but also because our state remains a front-runner in the field of services for persons with vision loss and in the prevention of blindness.

To join the CBVI Centennial Listserv or for further information, please e-mail: Pamela.Gaston@dhs.state.nj.us .

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NJCB Raffle Tickets - Sell! Sell! Sell!

We are less than 4 months away from our raffle ticket drawing on April 24, 2010. Contact our Treasurer, Bob Lucas by phone at (609) 882-2446 or by e-mail at zcpabob@verizon.net for more tickets to sell and he will send them to you immediately. The tickets sell for $2.00 each and a book of ten sells for $20.00. There are no losers in this raffle - only winners - because the proceeds will be used to subsidize the costs of the NJCB Convention on October 22nd and 23rd of this year. The more tickets we sell, the lower the costs of the convention to our members. So get out there and sell, sell, sell!

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FYI

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. The great news is that this is an iPod that anyone can buy and use, not a specialist product or needing an add-on for blind or partially sighted people to use. This is the first talking iPod to come to the market. You can expect other MP3 players to follow suit as Apple is the market leader in this segment. The spoken menu feature is expected to be well received amongst fully sighted people also because the iPod is an audio device and people will find the spoken menu coming through their earbuds.

HumanWare Launches the BrailleNote Apex. HumanWare has just launched the newest member of the BrailleNote family, the BrailleNote Apex, the thinnest and lightest of notetakers. Powerful, but slim at just 2 cm (0.78?) and weighing only 812 grams (1.8 lbs), the BrailleNote Apex is designed for on-the-go portability and high functionality. The advanced technology features the acclaimed KeySoft Version 9, a comprehensive suite of productivity applications with feature-rich content. Multiple storage options define the BrailleNote Apex's productivity with its 8 GB of internal memory and support for high capacity SDHC cards, along with 4 high-speed USB 2.0 ports, built-in Wi-Fi, Ethernet and Bluetooth.

ClickAndGo Wayfinding Maps. ClickAndGo Maps has just been launched after a full year of development. The technology we have created is essentially the blind and deafblind travelers "equivalent" to Yahoo or Google Directions. It provides fully accessible walking directions for "both" indoor and outdoor route guidance, and these route narratives are custom-compiled with the blind and deafblind traveler in mind. The technology enables a blind or deafblind user to generate walking directions with Braille or auditory output by selecting a travel location (such as a hotel or university), choosing starting and destination landmarks from easy-to-use drop-down menus, and then clicking "GO." The directions are then presented in a clear and detailed narrative, offering already-skilled travelers the specific orientation information they need to walk a desired route independently. For more information contact Joe Cioffi at by phone at (612) 220-6657 or e-mail at joecioffi@mac.com .
www.NJFindARide.org and 2-1-1. Perfect together.

At www.njfindaride.org there is help available for individuals with disabilities who have encountered transportation barriers getting to and from work or appointments each day. Adding to the confusion is the wide variety of transportation options. They range from fixed routes, to "Dial-A-Ride" which provides on demand services - door to door. The www.njfindaride.org website provides a complete list of the transportation services available in your area and is in the process of being updated with many new transportation resources. The NJ Division of Disability Services asked NJ 2-1-1 to manage the database to keep resources up-to-date and to do so NJ 2-1-1 will work with an advisory committee made up of transportation specialists and service providers. The new and improved database is expected to be live by the beginning of 2010. Once live, information about transportation resources can be accessed both on www.nj211.org and www.njfindaride.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

GSGDU Chapter Update. GSGDUI had a meeting on Saturday December, 5, where we held our election. The officers are as follows: Lauren Casey president; Jean Canella vice president; Bob Rindt treasurer and Susan Yochim secretary. I am currently in the process of appointing the two board members to the executive board. I want to welcome Susan Yochim to our board as our new secretary and thank Ottilie Lucas for her many years of dedicated service as secretary to our organization.
We are working with Jane Sheehan from GDUI in researching guide dog handlers in New Jersey and letting these people know about our organization. Anyone needing to send in their 2010 dues can send them to Bob Rindt at 153 Franklin Corner Road Lawrenceville, NJ 08648-2501. GDUIF which is Guide Dog Users of Florida are selling a lighted wristband for safe travel as a fund raiser for their group.
Anyone interested can contact the GDUI president Debbie Grubb. I have Debbie's contact information if anyone needs it. Save the date for our next meeting in 2010 which will be held at the Lucas' home on Saturday June 12.
We will have a business meeting followed by a picnic. More details about this meeting will be in the April Chronicle. Lauren Casey, president

MAL Chapter Update. It's that time again. If you have not paid your 2010 dues to NJCB as yet, please send your check for $10.00 made out to NJCB and send it to Bob Lucas, 520 Ewingville Road, Ewing, NJ 08638-1410.

In October a teleconference call was scheduled but no one called in for the meeting. If any at-large members of NJCB are interested in having this teleconference call service please contact me, Lauren Casey or the NJCB president John Vernon.
Currently a teleconference call is scheduled for Thursday January, 28, at 8 p.m. The call will be held for one hour or less depending on discussion.

We have a new Dial-in number and access code. They are: Dial-in number: (712) 432-0180 Access Code: 425373 #. The NJCB secretary will send out a reminder in January. If we do not hear from any members then we will discontinue offering this service.

Mercer CAB Chapter Report. Our association is growing and enjoying informative meetings as well as social events. Del Basha from CBVI shared many techie hints, products and good buys at our October meeting. Susan Vanino gave her personal experiences transitioning from sighted to blind at our November meeting. Fifty of our members and a few friends partied at the Trenton Elks. We enjoyed a delicious dinner, music by Stan Partyka and gifts from our own Santa, Len Pope. A great time was had by all. We are looking forward to speakers from RSVP, a state senator and other topics this winter. We invite all to the NJCB quarterly meeting on January 23rd at our meeting place in Ewing.

Monmouth CAB Chapter Report. No report.

NJBCA/CAMP HAPPINESS - MEDICAL PROGRAM. Camp Happiness continues to pursue funding to initiate an on-site physician directed medical program specifically tailored to the blind/visually impaired. A small community grant from Wal-Mart will get the program off the ground in January, 2010. Medical education, direct medical care, and house-calls will be three components of this groundbreaking program. Maryann Jacks, M.D. states that "many visually impaired people lack routine healthcare, much less medical care focused on addressing their special needs". The NJBCA/Camp Happiness aims on eliminating the barriers faced by the blind in their quest for easy access to quality healthcare. For more information, please call Doug Scott-Executive Director Camp Happiness at (732) 291-0878 or e-mail newjerseyblind@aol.com.

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MARK YOUR CALENDAR

Thursday, January 21, 2010: Mercer CAB monthly meeting at the Trinity United Methodist Church at 1985 Pennington Road in Ewing. The meeting runs from 7:00 to 9:00 PM. Call Ottilie Lucas with any questions at (609) 882-2446.

Saturday, January 23, 2010: NJCB Quarterly meeting at The Trinity United Methodist Church in Ewing at 12 Noon. See Meeting Notice.

Thursday, February 18, 2010: Mercer CAB monthly meeting. See prior notice.

Thursday, March 18, 2010: Mercer CAB monthly meeting. See prior notice.

Thursday, April 15, 2010: Mercer CAB monthly meeting. See prior notice.

Saturday, April 24, 2010: Quarterly meeting of NJCB at the Monmouth County Association for the Blind's Clubhouse. The raffle drawing will be at 3 PM at this meeting. Watch for details in the April issue of the NJCB Chronicle.

Sunday, May 16, 2010: Elks Dinner Dance. Watch for more details in the April issue of the NJCB Chronicle.

Thursday, May 20, 2010: Mercer CAB monthly meeting. See prior notice.

Saturday, June 5, 2010: Friends of the Library meeting at The Woodbridge Main Library at George Frederick Plaza Woodbridge, NJ 07095. Directions will be in the April Chronicle.

Saturday, June 12, 2010: Garden State Guide Dog Users meeting at 10 AM at the Lucas' followed by a picnic. Directions will be in the April Chronicle. Call Lauren Casey at (609) 912-0657 for more details.

Thursday, June 17, 2010: Mercer CAB monthly meeting. See prior notice.

Saturday, July 17, 2010: 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.

Friday & Saturday, October 22 & 23, 2010: NJCB Convention. Watch for more details in future issues.

Saturday, November 13, 2010: Cape May County's 2010 Disabilities Awareness Day Watch. For more details in future issues.

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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.