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The New Jersey Council of the Blind

CHRONICLE

January, 2011

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. We thank Audiovision's John Hart and our webmaster David Casterline for their technical assistance. 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 NJCB Chronicle is also available on Newsline.

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, Frank Schack (973) 595-0116; Second Vice President Joyce Sowa (732) 596-9675; Secretary Ottilie Lucas (609) 882-2446 and Treasurer Bob Lucas (609) 882-2446, 520 Ewingville Road, Ewing, NJ 08638.

MEETING NOTICE

The next quarterly meeting of NJCB will be on January 22, 2011 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

Hi All, as I begin this message on Monday, November 29, 2010, it is sunny and in the mid fifties, which is not typical end of November weather for New Jersey. But I will take it with a thank you and a smile. By the time you receive this message it will be the beginning of January. I doubt that the high will be in the fifties, and instead of sunny skies we might even be slip sliding away in the snow. We shall see. I hope that everyone had a wonderful holiday season with your family and friends. I also hope that 2011 will bring to us all good health, happiness, love, and joy.

2010 has been a very good year for both the ACB and the NJCB. The legislative accomplishments by Melanie Brunson, our Executive Director and Eric Bridges, our Director of Advocacy and Governmental Affairs in Washington D.C. are to be applauded.

As I reported at our Convention in October both the Senate and the House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed the 2010 Telecommunications and Video Description Act. President Obama signed this legislation into law in October. As you well realize, the past two years have been very divisive between the Republicans and the Democrats. For them to come together to pass this legislation in a bipartisan manner is truly a wonder. The other legislative accomplishment is Quiet Car Legislation mandating a uniform sound emanating from all hybrid and electric vehicles when they are operated at or below twenty miles per hour. Quite obviously the reason for this uniform noise requirement is the safety of both blind and sighted pedestrians who cannot see or hear these vehicles at intersections or on roadsides without sidewalks. As of December 16, 2010 this Act has passed both houses and is awaiting the President's signature to become law.

The NJCB also celebrated a very good year. Our Convention on October 23rd was by all accounts a success that was enjoyed by all. Our guest speakers, Vito DeSantis, Adam Szczepaniak, Dr. Bethany Fishbein, and our Keynote Speaker Jennifer Velez all enriched our knowledge and our understanding of blindness issues through out the state. The afternoon workshops developed and run by our own Ottilie Lucas and Bill Dougherty gave first hand information and enhanced tips for both our blind members and their families. The last stop on our agenda, a panel discussion followed by an open dialogue on the direction of our future was well thought out and enriched by all who participated. I will explain more on this adventure before our next quarterly meeting. Needless to say this will be a two year challenge with input needed by all. The lottery that was held to lower the cost for all members who attended the Convention produced many unexpected challenges that continue to be addressed. However, the end result was that each member's ticket price was reduced by almost half and this is a good outcome.

A new slate of executive officers were nominated and elected at our October quarterly meeting. Our new slate of officers for the next two years shall be: Secretary - Ottilie Lucas, Treasurer - Robert Lucas, Second Vice President - Joyce Sowa, First Vice President - Frank Shack, and President - John Vernon. I personally thank each and every one of you for your confidence in electing me for a second term in office. I also thank my fellow executive board members for accepting the responsibility for each office into which you were elected.

At our next quarterly meeting we will have a guest speaker that was arranged by Lauren Casey. Our guest speaker will be Marisa Nolan Konig, B.A., R.N., M.S.N. She is a research coordinator for a nationwide sleep disorder study that is being held for totally blind citizens. This is a very topical discussion being studied in our community world wide. We are very fortunate to have Marisa coming to report on this study and the possible applications involved. We will also begin to organize our YOA plan for the next two years. Y = Your Council, O = Our Future, A = An Assessment. We have asked for your concerns and desires for our future. The next article summarizes the discussion that took place at the Convention. We will review our Convention discussion in January, take any additional suggestions and then proceed forward from there. At our April quarterly meeting we shall answer any last minute changes and then implementation will begin. You, the membership, will be given the opportunity to serve on any committee that is of interest to you. It is hoped that everyone will accept the responsibility of serving on at least one committee. It is our future that is at stake. I thank you in advance for your interest and willingness to serve.

I look forward to seeing as many of you as possible at our January 22nd meeting in Ewing. All the best! John Vernon, President, NJCB.

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Y. O. A.

Y = Your Council, O = Our Future, A = An Assessment.

We had a brainstorming session at our 2010 convention. Five of our members gave their ideas to improve NJCB'S effectiveness to reach and better serve the blind community's needs and interests. Those presenting were, Joyce Sowa, Lauren Casey, Ottilie Lucas, Chris Ward and Doug Heine. All of these members brought different life experiences to the panel.

We will begin to organize our Y O A plan for the next two years at our January meeting.

It was proposed that committees be formed having all members join a committee with a chairman to direct the agendas. Some of the topics suggested were: transportation, reaching out to students and parents of students, Seeking established groups to become chapters, reach out to parts of the state where there are no local chapters, encouraging members to voice their opinions, membership, legislative, public relations, fund raising, publications, Nominating and convention (including exhibitors, speakers, program, facility, door prizes and resolutions). Also discussed were networking with neighboring states for regional conferences; joining national affiliates such as Randolph Sheppard vendors; women's issues groups; etc. and becoming active with ACB on a national level.

We ask all members to contact John Vernon at (609) 392-3674 with any other suggestions that can also be discussed at the January meeting.

Let's all get involved. NJCB is your organization. Your ideas and participation are important.

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Following is an excerpt from the January 1998 Braille Forum

PRESIDENT'S MESSAGE: THE QUESTION
by Paul Edwards

At the beginning of a new year, it's perhaps appropriate to pause for a little reflection. It's customary to do what I have done before with this column and look back at the preceding year and ahead to the next one. I am not going to do that! Instead, I want to offer some of my answers to the question I get asked more often than any other as President of the American Council of the Blind. Can you guess what the question is? What does the ACB stand for? What is ACB's philosophy? What makes the ACB different from the NFB?
Though this question has been posed in three different ways, it's really the same question.
I have often thought of dealing with this issue here and have avoided it because many will disagree with whatever I say. Disagreement is good! One of ACB's hallmarks is its tolerance for people with divergent notions of who they are and what ACB is! That, in fact, is one of the organization's characteristics!
It is a fluid set of beliefs and assumptions that changes from state to state and from time to time. But, for me anyway, there are some core values that are at the heart of what the ACB is! Here are some of them!
It is OK to be blind! That's a big one! It carries with it a whole set of other ancillary values. First and foremost, people who have meaningful vision loss are blind. Blindness is much more than just a nuisance. Blind people can and should expect society to make changes that facilitate the inclusion of people who are blind. These last two values may be areas where members of the National Federation of the Blind would not agree with us!
Another core value of the ACB relates to expectations! We are absolutely convinced that there is not a one-size-fits-all "blind person" or that there should be! I believe that ACB values diversity and is tolerant of people who are at various levels of independence. Does that mean that we don't champion good training or expect a lot of our members? I don't think so! It does mean that we embrace people at various levels of competence and try very hard not to be judgmental about where people are! In a very real sense, I think that ACB has almost instinctively adopted the "People First" model by placing individuality far above other values in seeing each other.
And then there is democracy! ACB, as most of you well know, was formed, in part, because those who created our organization believed that states and individual members alike had to have substantial autonomy to express divergent opinions without being penalized. So, another core value of ACB is the notion that there must be room for a broad range of beliefs within our organization. If this is a core value, and I think it is, it goes a long way toward explaining why we have never been able to produce the kind of coherent, easily portable creed that all of our members must accept.
All of the divergence I have talked about so far has some real drawbacks. It truly has impeded coherent, centralized decision-taking and probably always will. That divergence has also made it difficult for us to arrive at positions sometimes. Where there is disagreement, we debate. This debate can often take many years and can cause us to take positions that may seem somewhat ambivalent to those who do not know us well. I choose to use a different word! Our positions validate divergence by creating a place where the majority of our members are comfortable.
What I have written about here does not constitute a complete list of our core values. It may well not be your core list of our fundamental beliefs. But there is one more core value I think we can agree upon! That is that the ACB is much more than just a group of blind people meeting and working together for common goals! It's much larger than the sum of its members! It's a hug when you're feeling sad! It's a belly-laugh at those in society who just don't understand! It's arms around each other when we lose someone! It's a place where you can feel safe! It's anger distilled into action as people die falling off subway platforms! It's people arguing and hugging afterwards! It's 1,500 people singing the national anthem! It's help and hope and hands and holding and happiness and hilarity. It's us, alone and together, divided and united, men and women, young and old! And it's the American Council of the Blind!
So when someone asks you what the American Council of the Blind is or any of those other questions, you can show him or her this column! Will it tell him or her who we are and what we believe? Not really. It might help, but ACB is not a philosophy. It's a dynamic never-ending experience, and the only way you can truly understand us is to plunge right in among us and become us! And then, if you fully understand who we are, tell me because I would like to know too!

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2011 Social Security COLA and Substantial Gainful Activity

The Social Security Administration announced that there will be no Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) for Social Security recipients for 2011. A COLA is determined by the increase of the Consumer Price Index from the third quarter of the last year a COLA was determined (2008) to the current year (2010). There was no increase in that period and, therefore, there will be no increase in Social Security benefits. The COLA increase in Social Security benefits determines the increase in the Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA) amount. Since there was no COLA determined for 2011, the SGA amount will remain at $1,640. The amount for the Trial Work Period remains at the 2010 level of $720.

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Adjustment to Vision Loss Continues

Hello All. As of October 1, the Adjustment to Vision Loss Project has begun a brand new year. This new year brings new funding which enables us all to look forward to a bright future. AVL is now supported by a grant from the Merck Company Foundation.

As in the past, AVL will continue to work to maintain and enhance the existing peer support groups and to develop new groups where needed. Appropriate referrals of new members will also continue to be made to your groups, and please feel free to contact me if I can assist you in any way.

Effective October 2010, we will be requiring all groups in the AVL network to provide me with a monthly meeting attendance, since the new funder is requiring this accountability. The name, address and telephone number for each member attending the group can be submitted to me in various ways, such as email, fax, US mail, or telephone.

This upcoming year will be an exciting one for AVL, and the members that participate in groups throughout 14 counties of northern and central New Jersey. Thank you.

Susan Vanino
AVL Program Coordinator
Heightened Independence and Progress
131 Main Street, Suite 120
Hackensack, New Jersey 07601
Phone: 201-996-9100 x26
Fax: 201-996-9422
svanino.ber@hipcil.org

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TBBC's Audiovision-Cable TV or Internet

The New Jersey State Library Talking Book & Braille Center's (TBBC) Audiovision radio reading service of select NJ newspapers is now available on television to subscribers of Cablevision, Comcast and Verizon Fios through New Jersey Network (NJN). Access instructions are available at http://www.audiovision-nj.org/listen.html - or call 1-800-792-8322. Seven Jersey newspapers are available as well as the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, TV listings, and grocery ads.

If you currently listen to TBBC's Audiovision radio reading service on TV via Cablevision, Comcast or Verizon Fios on NJN's designated sub-channel, you may also subscribe to Audiovision's Internet streaming service. TBBC is urging current Audiovision TV listeners to sign up today at www.audiovision-nj.org to give you an Internet listening option and the advantage of a five-day archive of news in addition to the live stream you currently enjoy on TV.

Visit www.audiovision-nj.org for a live stream or to subscribe - or go directly to http://www.audiovision-nj.org/register.html to register

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In Memoriam

Caroline Tilton went to be with her Lord on October 15, 2010. She served the blindness organizations as well as individuals in the blindness field for many years. She edited, typed and sent out the NJCB Chronicle for many years. She kept the membership lists, wrote many letters, drove large15 passenger vans to meetings, conventions and other functions. She chaired the refreshment committee of Mercer County Association of the Blind for many years. Caroline was the mother of 2 blind children, Ottilie Tilton Lucas and Glenn Tilton. She dedicated her life to assisting people with visual impairments to live a full and productive life.

The Tilton/Lucas families have requested that donations in her memory be given to NJCB or the Visiting Nurse Association of Mercer, Hospice Unit. Thus far, NJCB has received over $1,200.00.

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FYI

Accessible Devices. If you haven't run across this website yet, it's one you may want to save. http://www.directionsforme.org/ The Directions For Me website allows you to locate product information and instructions for a large number of products. The site offers you two methods of locating the information. The usual search method is available and you can also find it by starting with a broad general category and gradually narrowing them until you come to the product you're looking for. The website was designed for use with screen readers and is very screen reader friendly.
ACB Website Store. The new ACB store website is now open and waiting for visitors. Please check it out. There are some new products, and more are on the way in the next few days. There is also a new look and feel to the site, so we welcome your feedback. You can reach the ACB Store from the main page of the ACB website at www.acb.org or you can go to the store directly by visiting www.acb.org/store Happy shopping!

Free Eye Exams are at Gloucester County Center for the Blind at Gloucester County College Instructional Center Room 425B. They started on October 12th of this year. Exams are done the second Tuesday of every month from 2pm to 6pm. They are open to the public for anyone needing an eye exam. Children under the age of 18 will need the signature of a parent or guardian. Appointments are not necessary but recommended. Their phone number is (856) 681-6128.

Verizon Wireless Accessible Cell Phone. The Samsung Haven is finally here! It is an affordable, fully accessible cell phone available through Verizon Wireless. As of July 29th, 2010, Verizon Wireless has in its stores a phone for blind and visually impaired persons which is fully audible via Nuance speech. There is no extra charge for the speech package, as it is already installed in the phone and ready for use out of the box. It is important to note that when you go to the store, make sure that you tell the person assisting you to turn on the voices called read outs, located under settings, then sounds, and down to voices.

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Chapter Reports

Garden State Guide Dog Users. When you read this it will be in the middle of winter. Our Garden State Guide Dog Users meeting will have been over since we met on Saturday December 11th. We have a great deal of projects and possible plans for the future of this chapter. Many of them will be posted in the Chronicle and in emails. We will be adding two meetings a year by conference call. The first conference call meeting will be Saturday, March 5, 2011 from 10 AM until 12 noon. The conference call number is (712) 432-0180. The access code is 425373#. Our next meeting will be at the Curley's on June 11th. Those of you without computer access will be contacted by phone because we don't want to leave anyone out. We want as many people as possible included. I wish everyone reading this issue of the Chronicle a good 2011 and hope you had a joyous holiday season. Lauren Casey, President

Mercer County Association of the Blind. Happy New Year!! MCAB had our biannual election of officers at our November meeting. Our new officers are: President, Bob Rindt; Vice President Ottilie Lucas, Recording Secretary Susan Yochim, Corresponding Secretary Jean Cannella and Treasurer Larry Morgan. Their terms begin on January 1, 2011. We had a festive Christmas party on December 3rd with 46 members and friends. John Conte, our caterer, provided us with a delicious dinner with all of the trimmings. Stan Partyka provided us with continuous holiday music. Santa, Harry Eberle, gave out lots of gifts and entertained with his jolly comments. Maryanne Eberle donated table favors with holiday goodies. Marcia and Larry Morgan supplied door prizes for all. Evelyn Eggert and her fellow Elks provided the hall and graciously set up, served and cleaned up. We thank everyone for making this Christmas event so enjoyable. It gets better every year. We invite all members of NJCB to the January 22nd quarterly meeting at Trinity United Methodist Church. Check the meeting notice for details and directions.

New Jersey Blind Citizens Association. The New Jersey Blind Citizens Association (NJBCA) commenced a year-long "Celebration of a Century" of service on Thursday, November 18th at our much anticipated 100th Birthday Bash. The champagne was flowing and the dance floor was full at the exclusive event, held at McLoone's Rum Runner, which commemorated 100 years of unlocking opportunities for the blind and visually impaired. The event was attended by our most dedicated donors, volunteers, and clients. "It was such an amazing and fun event. For my wife Barbara and me, it was the best time we've had all year!" said Jim Guerrieri, long-time donor and volunteer. NJBCA was also proud to recently attend the Council's convention in Princeton, where many people were surprised to learn all that we do year-round.

Established in 1910, the NJ Blind Citizens Association impacts the lives of the blind and visually impaired every day, allowing clients to live more independently than ever. Originally a summer camp for the blind, Camp Happiness opened its doors in historic Jersey Shore style in the Highlands in 1930. Through free two-week summer vacations, campers learned to live independently without constant help - a first for many. By the late 1980's, the level of independence of blind citizens reached an all time high, and the demand for year-round programs providing training, support, and more followed suit. Today, the signature Wobser Day Camp in the Leonardo section of Middletown provides daily educational and socially supportive programs including computer training, peer support groups, a fine arts program, and more. "I've been with NJBCA for almost ten years since losing my vision, and it's one of the best things that has ever happened to me. Without it, my life wouldn't be what it is today," says Charles Blood, NJBCA client. "It's been wonderful learning through the computer program and art program, and leading through our Garden Club and as President of our Board. If our donors hadn't stuck by us, none of this would've been possible."

For those of you who couldn't attend our 100th Birthday Bash, please keep in mind that we have an entire year of celebrations to go! Currently, our focus is our Logo Contest which runs until January 5th. If any artists out there - from novice to professional - would like to help update our logo so we can enter the next century of service in style, please contact us or visit our website for more information.

To learn more, please contact the NJ Blind Citizens Association at (732) 291-0878, info@njbca.org, or visit our newly redesigned website www.njbca.org. Our site is now fully compatible with all versions of screen-reading software and adheres to current ADA guidelines for accessibility.

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MARK YOUR CALENDAR

Saturday, January 22, 2011: NJCB Quarterly Meeting at the Trinity United Methodist Church in Ewing. See Prior Article.

Saturday, March 5, 2011: GSGDUI conference call meeting. See chapter reports for details.

Saturday, April 16, 2011: NJCB quarterly meeting at Hamilton Township Public Library. The address is 1 Justice Samuel Alito, Jr. Way, Hamilton, NJ 08619. Watch for details in the April issue.

Saturday, June 4, 2011: Spring meeting of the Friends of the NJ Library for the Blind and Handicapped at Grace Lutheran Church, 600 New Brunswick Avenue in Perth Amboy. Watch for details in the April Chronicle.

Saturday, June 11, 2011: GSGDUI meeting at the Curleys. Watch for details in the April Chronicle.

Saturday, July 16, 2011: NJCB quarterly meeting at Camp Happiness in Leonardo. Watch for details in the July issue.

Saturday, October 22, 2011: NJCB quarterly meeting at Grace Lutheran Church in Perth Amboy. Watch for 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. The editor reserves the right to edit articles submitted for both space and content.

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