The New Jersey Council of the Blind
The New Jersey Council of the Blind's mission is to strive for the betterment of the blind and visually impaired community. The purpose of this publication is to provide a forum for the free exchange of ideas, opinions and information relative to matters of concern to blind people.
The New Jersey Council of the Blind (NJCB) is a 501 (c) 3 corporation and all gifts are tax deductible. Tax deductible donations should be sent to the Treasurer of NJCB.
Four quarterly newsletters are sent to members free of charge in either large print, audio cassette or E-mail. Non-members may request the NJCB Chronicle by E-mail and for an annual donation of $5.00 may receive copies in large print or cassette. If anyone would like their newsletter by E-mail, please let me know and I will put you 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 Ottilie@verizon.net. All information must be received by December 1st to be included in the next issue of the Chronicle.
The NJCB officers are: President Lauren Casey, (609) 912-0657, 153 Franklin Corner Road, Lawrenceville, NJ 08648; First Vice President John Vernon (609) 392-3674; Second Vice President Frank Schack (973) 595-0116; Secretary Ottilie Lucas (609) 882-2446 and Treasurer Bob Lucas (609) 882-2446, 520 Ewingville Road, Ewing, NJ 08638.
Hello everyone! It is hard to believe that it is almost time for the 2007 convention. The title of the convention is What's Happening in 2007. It will also be like old home weekend. Debra Toomey from NLS will be our keynote speaker and will also do a workshop in the afternoon. Debra is from NJ and for those of you who don't already know had been the Head Librarian at NJLBH. More information about the convention is in another article in this issue.
I hope you will plan on attending this year. We'll have a lot of great information to share.
Lauren Casey, President
Attention Chapter Officers
All chapter dues and membership lists are due to be given to me, your Treasurer, Bob Lucas at the NJCB Convention on October 26 and 27th. Please include in the membership list: member's name, address, phone number (place a "u" after the number if it is an unlisted number), whether they are legally blind or fully sighted, and the preferred newsletter format (large print, cassette or E-mail)
The dues are $6.50 for each voting member and $1.50 for each non-voting member. The only organization that has non-voting members is Monmouth County Association for the Blind.
Invoices will be sent out near the end of the year for our members at large. Their dues are $10.00 per year.
Bob Lucas, Treasurer, NJCB
This year's Convention theme is "What's Happening in 2007." Friday evening, October 26th will offer an interactive self defense class by Michelle Zulli. On Saturday, October 27th we will hear from Jennifer Velez, Commissioner of NJ Department of Human Services, Vito DeSantis, Executive Director from NJ Commission for the Blind and Visually Impaired, Faith Lundgren, Director of the NJ Library for the Blind and Handicapped, Deborah Toomey from National Library Service and Robert Koska from NJ Transit. We will also have exhibits with information from many areas including Braille maps, computer software, communications and crafts.
Again the convention will be held at the very accessible Clarion Hotel/Palmer Inn at 3499 Route 1 in Princeton (West Windsor). The hotel has a Charlie Brown's restaurant adjacent to it. The hotel is Access Link accessible and they have a shuttle from the Princeton Junction Train Station for those with room reservations. Call the hotel at (609) 452-2500 to make your room reservations or arrange for a ride from the train station. There are a limited number of rooms reserved for NJCB's special rate of $79.99 plus tax.
Please gather up some door prizes or prizes to be raffled off. Frank and Joyce Schack will be in charge of the door prizes this year. We thank the Chapters in advance for their faithful contribution of cash gifts for door prizes.
We were able to keep the cost at $25.00 for a continental breakfast and sit down luncheon. The registration will also stay the same at $15.00. The total cost for continental breakfast, dinner luncheon and registration is only $40.00. You can't get more for your money.
Fill out the Registration Form at the end of this newsletter. Send it by October 10th with your check made out to NJCB to Robert Lucas, Treasurer, 520 Ewingville Road, Ewing, NJ 08638.
7:30-9:00 PM: Michelle Zulli: Self Defense
8:30 - 9:45 AM: Registration, Continental Breakfast and Exhibits.
9:45 - 10:00 AM: Welcome by President Lauren Casey and invocation by Bob Lucas.
10:00-10:10 AM: Welcome by Mayor Hsueh of West Windsor.
10:10 -10:30 AM: Jennifer Velez, Commissioner of NJ Department of Human Services, What's new at NJDHS.
10:30-10:45 AM: Vito DeSantis, Executive Director of NJ Commission for the Blind and Visually Impaired, What's new at CBVI
10:45-11:00 AM: Faith Lundgren, Director of NJ Library for the Blind and Handicapped, What's new at NJLBH.
11:00-11:30 AM: Short presentations by exhibitors
11:30 AM-12:15 PM: Exhibits.
12:15 - 1:45 PM: Luncheon Banquet with Keynote Speaker, Deborah Toomey from National Library Service.
1:45-2:00 PM: Break.
2:00-2:30 PM: Faith Lundgren & Vito DeSantis, New RTAC at NJLBH
2:30-3:15 PM: Deborah Toomey, The new Digital Talking Book Program
3:15-3:45 PM: Robert Koska, What's new with Transportation in New Jersey
3:45-4:00 PM: Break.
4:00-5:30 PM: NJCB Business Meeting.
5:30 PM: Adjournment.
DIRECTIONS TO THE CLARION HOTEL/PALMER INN
The Clarion Hotel/Palmer Inn is located at 3499 Route 1 South just south of the Market Fair and Pep Boys in Princeton at the corner of Rt. 1 and Emmons Drive. Charlie Brown's Restaurant is in the same complex. Their phone number is (609) 452-2500.
From the North:
Take The NJ Turnpike south to New Brunswick getting off at Exit 9.
Take Route 18 North and follow signs to Trenton turning onto Route 1 South.
Watch on the right for The Market Fair Shopping Center, the Meadow Road overpass, Pep Boys and finally Emmons Drive.
Turn right into The Clarion Hotel/Palmer Inn parking lot.
From the South:
Take Route 295 north getting off at Exit 67, heading north on Route 1.
Pass Quaker Bridge Mall on right, and just past the Square at West Windsor with Lowe's, take the jug handle at Meadow Road from the right lane going over the highway toward Trenton to get onto the southbound lane of Route 1 (equivalent to a U-turn).
Stay to the right passing the southern entrance to The Market Fair, Pep Boys and Emmons Drive. Turn right into The Clarion Hotel/Palmer Inn parking lot.
From the East:
Take Route #195 West and get onto Route #295 North and follow the directions "From the South".
Take Route 33 West and pick up Route 571 West toward Princeton in Hightstown. At Route 1, get onto Route 1 South.
Watch on the right for The Market Fair Shopping Center, the Meadow Road overpass, Pep Boys and finally Emmons Drive. Turn right into The Clarion Hotel/Palmer Inn parking lot.
NJLBH Fall Festival
This year's Fall Festival on Saturday, October 13, is themed "Accessibility in the Arts" and will celebrate the perspective and abilities that individuals
with visual impairments bring to the arts. Registration begins at 10 a.m. The keynote speaker slot at 11:00 AM is being shared by Grounds for Sculpture
and artist Ken Woodward. Grounds for Sculpture will discuss the programs they offer and their accessible sculpture tours, as well as providing a hands-on sculpture exhibit table. Woodward will explain how his artistry has been affected by a recent visual impairment and the technology he uses to continue to paint.
The 1:00 p.m. afternoon program features several artists discussing the type of art they do, how they were attracted to art and the influence of their disability on their art. Featured speakers include:
Vendors will exhibit the latest low-vision technology from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Paws-on-Wheels is back by popular demand featuring its petting zoo. At 2:00
PM, guests can participate in a sing-along to showcase their musical talents.
Call 1-800-792-8322 or visit www.njlbh.org to register.
ACB Convention Report
My flights to and from Minneapolis from Newark were non-stop and so was the week in between the two flights. My plane arrived in Minneapolis on Saturday, June 30th at 4 PM and at 8 PM I was attending the "Welcome to Minneapolis" meeting with old friends and making some new friends. On Sunday we went on a very well done tour of the city. There were lakes and skywalks everywhere! The skywalks are used to connect buildings and hotels in extremely cold weather. This city tour for the blind also included a visit to a cheese factory and a tour of a flour mill.
That evening there was an opening session in which seating and credentials were reviewed. 1,400 blind people attended the convention and about a third of them had guide dogs. There were general sessions Monday through Thursday from 8:30 AM to noon. On Friday the general session took the entire day and included constitutional and bylaw changes, resolutions and election of officers. The newly elected ACB officers are: President, Mitch Pomerantz (CA), 1st Vice President, Kim Charlson (MA), 2nd Vice President, Brenda Dillon (TN), Secretary, Marlaina Lieburg (WA), Treasurer, Mike Godino (NY), and Board member to fill Brenda Dillon's vacated position, Cammie Vloedman. The future convention sites are: 2008 - Louisville, Kentucky; 2009 - Orlando; Florida, 2010 - Phoenix, Arizona; and 2011 - Chicago or Kansas City.
I would like to thank the membership for asking me to attend this year's ACB Convention in Minneapolis. It was most interesting and I enjoyed it very much.
CABLE TV ADVOCACY UPDATE
By Michael Marrazzo
Those of us who are blind or visually impaired who have and use cable television services are missing out. As customers with special needs we know that cable companies are not accommodating our needs. Most of the features of cable television can only be accessed by menus that are displayed on the screen; which we are unable to read. Can you use the following features?
After communicating these issues to members of the New Jersey Legislature over the last year action is now being considered. We have the opportunity to have legislation drafted that would require the cable companies and other TV providers to provide the appropriate accommodations to customers with special needs. Further, there is a good possibility that if these companies do not or cannot provide the appropriate accommodations then they will need to reduce the monthly service fees accordingly. The government entities listed below need to receive phone calls from consumers with special needs as well as those of us who are blind or visually impaired. In addition, our organizations also need to send letters on behalf of all their members asking for appropriate accommodations. When calling or writing please clearly indicate which features you are unable to use since you cannot see the screen well enough to access them. Following are the names and contact information of the people and agencies we need to reach.
Senator Ray Lesniak, Chairman
Senate Economic and Growth Committee
985 Stuyvesant Avenue
Union, NJ 07083
Federal Communications Commission (FCC)
Customer Complaint Line
1-888-225-5322 - at the menu hit "0"
New Jersey Board of Public Utilities
Two Gateway Center
Newark, NJ 07102
Customer Complaint Line
At this point and time it is all about the number of calls and letters received by all of the above. The two toll free Complaint lines can even be called once a week by consumers until such time as we notify you that we have succeeded.
Most Effective Way to Contact Congressional Representatives
James Elekes, Presidential Appointee, US Access Board
Having now been in D.C. for five years, I've come to know Capitol Hill personnel. The most direct and impacting means of communications are:
1) Direct Call to Washington Office. When calling be prepared to let them know you are a constituent and, ask for the Congressional/Senatorial staffer responsible for preparing background materials for the Senator or Congressman. Provide the name of Bill. Be short, firm and polite. Make sure you get the staffer's E-Mail and follow-up with a short note recapping conversation. Don't forget to thank them for their assistance.
2) Fax to Washington Office. Because of "security restrictions", all Capitol Hill Congressional and Senatorial Office mail is sent to a facility in Virginia to be screened for chemical/radiation/contaminants. By the time letters get to the Congressional and Senatorial Offices, it's at least 2 to 3 weeks later.
3) Western Union or similar Electronic Service. Like E-Mail, this passes relatively quickly and is delivered to the Chief of Staff or their designee. Western Union has direct address capability to both Senatorial and Congressional Offices.
Important Point-All focus should be on the Washington Office, not the District Office. District Offices log in communications of all types and, periodically provide the Washington Office a "digest" of what has been received on a certain topic. Generally, this happens post-vote on a bill. Likewise calls or E-Mail directed to District Office staff while having a mail.house.gov address is not read by the Congressional staffer in D.C.
It's read in the District Office where they are removed from the goings on in D.C. They access their server and draw it down wherever their Office is located.
Over the past five years, I've gotten the best results dealing with D.C. Senatorial/Congressional Offices, not the District. District Offices are good for some things but, policy, budgets and legislation is voted on in D.C.
Support Full Funding of Talking Books
Talking Books are going through a complete change. No longer will cassette players be purchased. Cassette players will be replaced by digital players. In order to do this, funds must be appropriated by The House and the Senate. The National Library Service (NLS) has requested $19.1 million for 2008 and each of the following three years to complete this transition. The House of Representatives passed a bill appropriating only $12.5 million for 2008. In the near future, the Senate will be voting on S. 1686, the Legislative
Branch Appropriations Act which will fund the NLS Digital Talking Book Program. We must all contact our senators and let them know how important it is to fully fund this legislation. We will let you know when this vote will be coming up. Watch your E-mail and ask at your chapter meetings.
Below is a sample letter written by Faith Lungren, Director of NJLBH. She gives many important facts that you may use when you write or phone your senators.
Editor's note- After composing your individual letters to our United States senators, use the information contained in the previous article penned by James Elekes to make sure it arrives before the vote on S. 1686.
Contact information for Senator Lautenberg:
Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
Phone: (202) 224-3224
Fax: (202) 228-4054
TTY: (202) 224-2087
Contact information for Senator Menendez:
317 Senate Hart Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510
Phone: (202) 224-4744
Fax: (202) 228-2197
Following is a copy of the letter Faith Lungren sent to Senators Lautenberg and Menendez.
The United States Senate has an upcoming vote on a bill to appropriate funds for the Library of Congress Talking Book program. The House of Representatives has already voted on this bill and appropriated $12.5 million for the planned transition from antiquated analog cassette technology to new digital talking book players and flash memory cartridges, and a Senate committee has approved the same amount.
The National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS) had originally requested $19.1 million for fiscal year 2008 to begin this critical transition, which is necessary because cassettes will soon be obsolete, and parts for the cassette players that have served Talking Book patrons for years are becoming impossible to obtain. The NLS appropriations request was based on a planned four-year phased transition from cassette books to digital talking books (DTBs). Consequently, the initial appropriation of only $12.5 million will slow the implementation of digital technology to serve the reading needs of blind and handicapped patrons. The loss of Talking Book services is pressing, and the plight of NLS library patrons has attracted the attention of two major newspapers, the Washington Post and the Philadelphia Inquirer http://www.philly.com/inquirer/opinion/20070825_Editorial___Talking-Books_Budget_Cuts.html. Both publications have advocated for increased funding for digital talking books on their editorial pages.
Please support full funding for production of digital talking book players in FY 2008. Senator Landrieu plans to introduce a floor amendment to increase the amount voted out in the Appropriations Committee from $12.5 million to $19.1 million.
An Artificial Cornea has been created that is as strong and clear as the real thing. It could allow millions of people with damaged corneas to see. Curtis Frank and colleagues at Stanford University in California have done just that. They took polyacrylic acid, the water-absorbing polymer found in diapers, and cross-linked it with polyethylene glycol, which also absorbs water. The cross-links mean that the resulting material is 20 times stronger than either of the starting polymers on their own, and about the same strength as a human cornea. Crucially it also has the same water content as a real cornea, which greatly increases its ability to transport nutrients to the epithelial cells.
Hybrids too quiet for blind pedestrians. A concerned group of blind Canadian pedestrians is ramping up efforts to get car makers to build low noise into their hybrid models to increase safety. Hybrid models already on the market include: Lexus, Honda Civic and Accord, Toyota Prius, Camry and Highlander, and Ford Escape. Hybrids, which alternate between electric and gasoline power, are so quiet in electric mode that "they pose a new hazard to people who are blind or hard of hearing," says John Rae, president of the Alliance for Equality of Blind Canadians. Several blindness groups in the USA are also attempting to influence automakers in the same way. The Seeing Eye in Morristown now uses a hybrid vehicle to train their dogs due to safety concerns.
Internet TV Tuner for the Blind. JLC's Internet TV is a program for watching free online TV channels. It automatically finds over fifteen hundred channels and has an online updater to keep the channel list updated. This program is completely free of charge and is 100% accessible to people using screen readers and screen magnification programs. The web site is http://wwitv.com/
VoiceDial Exemption Program and wireless phones / AT&T wireless services. AT&T recognizes that voice-enabled services can provide helpful dialing assistance for customers with significant visual, cognitive, and physical disabilities. That's why they are waiving the $4.99 monthly feature charge for their VoiceDial service for those with qualifying disabilities. Normal airtime charges apply to all calls made using VoiceDial. VoiceDial can be accessed by dialing *8 from your wireless cell phone.
With VoiceDial, you can dial by saying the number you want to call, or by saying a name from your personal address book. Keep a personal address book of up to 2,000 contacts, enough to store all the important numbers you need. To learn whether you qualify for AT&T's VoiceDial Exemption Program, or to obtain application and certification forms, please call the National Center for Customers with Disabilities.
Voice calls: 1-866-241-6568
TTY calls: 1-866-241-6567
Garden State Guide Dog Users: In Memoriam: Edith, Jean Cannella's guide dog, went to her reward in August. Edith was a trusty companion and served Jean faithfully for several years. Edith accompanied Jean on cruises and many other exciting events. We all know what a loss this is to the Cannellas and wish them peace in this loss.
Mercer County Association of the Blind is looking forward to another informative and fun year. Susan Vanino from Adjustment to Vision Loss Project will be our speaker in September. One member is giving a short auto biography at each of our meetings. This helps our long time members get to know the new members and vice versa. We are also going to have some game nights with table games, Descriptive Videos, dinner and lots of fun. We hope to see lots of you at the Annual Convention in October.
The Monmouth County Association of the Blind's officers and members hope you all have had a wonderful summer.
During our June elections the following people were voted into office.
Charlotte Poole-First Vice President
Albert Plevier-Second Vice President
Bianca Stewart-Recording Secretary
Mary Ann Hoffman- Corresponding Secretary
Richard Grasso- Sergeant at Arms
September 10th will start our monthly business meetings, which are held on the second Monday of the month from 6 to 8 PM. Our social meetings are every Thursday from 11 AM to 2 PM. Everyone is cordially invited to join us in our activities. Please contact us at our Clubhouse number
We have recently had 12 people come forward to volunteer their services to our guests and members in and around the Monmouth County area.
Our hearts have been saddened in the Monmouth County Association for the Blind this pass summer by the loss of two of our members. Willie May Williams was a long time friend and associate member of 45 years. She passed away two months shy of her 100th birthday. Whenever a job had to be done Willie May was the first to be there to give a helping hand. Willie May will be missed by all. Unfortunately and regretfully Edith Rushmire also passed away. She was a member for 25 years. She will also be missed by all.
Future Plans for all to know:
Since June of 2005 when Liz and the other officers were elected, much has been accomplished in refurbishing the Monmouth County Association for the Blind Clubhouse. They took the incentive to complete the plans to remodel the first floor and outside overhang. Plans still in the works are to redo the driveway and outside areas along with the renovation of the second floor. We also have plans for offices and computer areas. Additionally, we have acquired several new pieces of equipment for the visually impaired such as the Sarah, which is a talking dictionary. We have acquired a talking microwave, Braille typers and a Latin machine. Because of the age of our members we have improved the air and heating system throughout the building. It is our hope that blind citizens looking for social outings will come and enjoy our new facility with us.
The MCAB will be having their holiday dinner on December the 10th. It is open to all. For further info on our upcoming activities please call:732-280-2326
New Plans in the Works:
We plan on expanding our Thursday program so if you are looking for something to do, join us. We welcome all for an enriching time. Our Thursday meeting usually includes activities such as a day at the races, a baseball game, word games, and lunches with good conversations. Our summer season is closing with a trip to the boardwalk for lunch, fun, and sun.
We are planning more day trips to places like The Garden for the Visually Impaired, the theatre, concerts, the racetrack at Monmouth Park and shopping trips.
Hope to see you all in October
MARK YOUR CALENDAR
Saturday, October 13, 2007: The New Jersey Library's Fall Festival NJLBH, 2300 Stuyvesant Avenue, Trenton, NJ 08618. (See details in prior article).
Friday and Saturday, October 26 & 27, 2007: The Annual NJCB Convention at the Clarion Hotel/Palmer Inn in Princeton. (See prior articles and registration form)
Saturday, December 1, 2007: Friends of the NJLBH meeting at the Library from 10:00 AM to 1:00 PM.
Saturday, December 1, 2007: Garden State Guide Dog Users meeting at the Library from 1:00 PM to 3:00 PM.
Saturday, January 26, 2008: NJCB Quarterly meeting at the Trinity United Methodist Church at 1985 Pennington Road in Ewing from 12 to 4PM. The cross street is Carlton Ave. Directions will be in the January 2008 issue.
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.
CONVENTION REGISTRATION FORM
Date: Friday & Saturday October 26 & 27, 2007 on Friday from approximately 7:30 PM to 9:30 PM and Saturday from 8:30 AM to 5:30 PM.
Place: The Clarion Hotel/Palmer Inn at 3499 Route 1 South, Princeton, NJ
Phone: (609) 452-2500.
Cost: $25.00 for Continental Breakfast and Luncheon Banquet and $15.00 for registration
Rooms: Make reservations directly through the hotel. The rates are $79.99 plus tax per night. Let them know that you are with NJCB.
Fill out the form below and send before October 10th to Bob Lucas,520 Ewingville Road, Ewing, NJ 08638 and make check payable to The New Jersey Council of the Blind, Inc.
Voting Member___, Non-voting Member ___
or Non-member ___
I would like my program in Braille ___ Large Print ___ or Cassette___
Continental Breakfast and Luncheon Banquet: $25.00
Chicken Francaise___ or Beef Sirloin Tips ___ Total: $40.00.
Any questions? Call (609) 882-2446.