Save the Date: 59th Annual State Convention Page 7
Celebrating Progress: Perspective from the Editor Page 9
Save the Date: 25th Anniversary of the CCB Page 11
Jessica at Large Page 13
Changes at the Colorado Division of Vocational RehabilitationPage 18
We Rang the BELL Again!!!Page 21
Braille Challenge Page 24
More than a Fun Evening at the Theatre Page 25
Another Successful NFBCO, Colorado Springs Picnic Page 27
One Remarkable Woman: Marie Dambrosky Page 28
Standing Up For Workers Page 30
Goalball on the Go!!! Page 32
NFBCO State Convention PreviewPage 33
The Blind Buzz…It’s Back!!!Page 35
The Letter from the Editor
We have dubbed this issue of The Blind Coloradan the Labor Day edition. We could have called it the “Celebrating 25 years at CCB edition” and it has also been suggested that we call it the “Y’all come to Colorado Springs for State Convention in October issue”. Believe me we will cover all of those important events. Abraham Lincoln once stated, "All that serves labor serves the nation. All that harms is treason. If a man tells you he trusts America, yet fears labor, he is a fool. There is no America without labor, and to fleece the one is to rob the other”. It seemed like a good time to proclaim once again our commitment to all who labor in sheltered shops, those who mop floors for Goodwill, blind workers who assemble pizza boxes and ink pens, or disassemble electronics at less than the minimum wage. We are publishing this over the Labor Day weekend. It felt like a good time to tell workers with disabilities that The National Federation of the Blind will continue our fight for justice, increased opportunity, and fair wages. Labor Day seems a truly appropriate day to say to Senators Michael Bennet and Mark Udall “We have asked you to support full integration and fair wages. Please tell us you have heard”.
We should also say thank you to all those who have labored with love over 25 years to make The Colorado Center for the Blind the quality training center and attitude factory that it is.
You’ll want to read Jessica at Large, and the popular Blind Buzz is back. We hope there is information in these pages which will be useful to you.
At Your Service,
Aggregator & Contributor
Amazing Vacation Travel Raffle
By: Jessica Beecham
Have you ever dreamed of spending a couple of weeks in Hawaii, traveling internationally, going on a cruise, spending time in the mountains, taking your kiddos to Disney, or even going on an African safari? Let your imagination take you away on the vacation of a lifetime. Our Amazing Vacation Travel Raffle can make your vacation dreams a reality.
The National Federation of the Blind of Colorado is sponsoring an Amazing Vacation Travel Raffle in which you can purchase tickets to win a $3,500.00 gift card from E-Travel Unlimited that can be used for the vacation or vacations of your choice. Tickets are just 1 for $10.00 or only 3 for $20.00.
Proceeds support our Braille Enrichment for Literacy and Learning (BELL) program which allows kiddos ages 4-12 to learn Braille for two weeks during the summer. Proceeds also support our NFBCO scholarship program in which we give over $15,000 in scholarships to blind college students in Colorado.
You can purchase your tickets online by visiting the following link:
The winning ticket will be drawn on October 19th and the winner could be you!!! Buy now, buy often, and good luck! Please let your friends and families know about this amazing opportunity by joining our Facebook group and inviting your friends by clicking on the following link:
Good luck to all and happy travels!!!
FROM THE PRESIDENT’S DESK
It is absolutely inconceivable that another summer has passed and that we are launching full steam into another fall. Yes, I know that the calendar and recent temperatures suggest that it is still summer but the true test of whether summer has passed into fall is the fact that my kids have started school as of Monday, August 19th. Alexander is now in fifth grade and Emily has started the third. When I think about the Federation, my thoughts often drift to family and my kiddos because I regard the Federation as part of my family. Also, when I think about my kids, I reflect upon the unlimited potential they possess and how their future is full of hope and promise.
I feel the same way about the Federation. The NFB of Colorado is on the move with two new chapters being formed just in the last few months. Congratulations to the Aurora and the Poudre Valley Chapters. We have also formed a guide dog division. Our two new chapters and this new division will help us reach blind people who have not had the opportunity to hear the Federation’s message and participate in its work. In particular, I want to salute Jessica Beecham, our Chapter and Community Development Coordinator, for her hard work in helping these new entities begin. My hat also goes off to our new presidents, Wayne Marshall (Aurora), Nick Thomas (Poudre Valley), and Melissa Green (Guide Dogs).
The recognition that fall is upon us also brings with it the coming of our State Convention. We will hold our 59th Annual State Convention at the Colorado Springs Marriott from October 17th - 20th. You can read about the exciting convention we have in store for you elsewhere in this Blind Coloradan. Although we change what it means to be blind in many ways, our state convention plays a major role in shaping the future of our organization and the destiny of the blind in our state. Make sure to join us in Colorado Springs for serious work and fun.
Although we have a great deal to celebrate, there is no doubt that great barriers still remain. The fact that we are still waging a battle to get rid of subminimum wages for workers with disabilities, for example, reminds us that we cannot rest until true first class citizenship and freedom are secured. This particular morning, August 28th, I have heard a great deal on the radio and in other media about Dr. King’s historic “I Have a Dream” speech in 1963. How long will it be before we are judged by the content of our character and not by our disability? The answer is up to us.
Scott C. LaBarre
National Federation of the Blind of Colorado
SAVE THE DATE!!!
MAKING A DIFFERENCE, CHANGING LIVES!
THE NATIONAL FEDERATION OF THE BLIND
59th ANNUAL STATE CONVENTION October 17th, 18th, 19th, and 20th The 59th Annual State Convention will kick off Thursday October 17th in beautiful Colorado Springs, CO. The fun will continue all weekend long with informative presentations, seminars, and much more! Join the largest gathering of blind men and women in Colorado to make a difference in the lives of the blind across the state!
NOTE:Exhibitors will be demonstrating their products on Friday and Saturday. Look for information about our vendors times and location.
THE NFBCO CONVENTION HOTEL: Our 2013 convention will be held at the Colorado Springs Marriott. Nestled in the foothills of Pikes Peak Mountain this hotel offers convention attendees a breath of fresh air. The Marriott is located at 5580 Tech Center Drive, Colorado Springs, CO.
Hotel Room Rates: The NFBCO room rate is $85 a night. There is no limit on room occupancy. Reservations MUST be made by September 10th.
To reserve your room by phone call: 1-800-932-2151. Mention that you are with the 59th annual convention of the National Federation of the Blind of Colorado to reserve our group rate.
To Reserve your room online, use the following link: http://www.marriott.com/hotels/travel/cosmc?groupCode=nfbnfba&app=resvlink&fromDate=10/17/13&toDate=10/21/13&stop_mobi=yes
By using the above link, the promotional code is entered automatically.
Total: 100.00 (Save $25.00 and pre-register!)
Stay tuned to your email and check our web site at www.nfbco.org for more information about convention registration or contact Lisa Bonderson at firstname.lastname@example.org.
FOR MORE CONVENTION INFORMATION CONTACT:
Scott C. LaBarre, President,
Phone: (303) 504-5979
Celebrating Progress: Perspective from the Editor
In sixteen months, the National Federation of the Blind will be entering its 75th year. In 2015 the NFB will hold a number of celebrations all across the nation. We will recognize the Federation’s seventy-five years of inspiring philosophy. It is a philosophy which has empowered thousands, changing society in dramatic ways.
For one-third of that time, Colorado has enjoyed our very own nationally-recognized training center, the Colorado Center for the Blind. Opened in 1988 during one of Colorado’s famed blizzards, our very own center has been teaching skills, inspiring new beliefs, and altering perceptions. Built on the rock of Federation philosophy, the Center has enjoyed 25 years of success. The Colorado Center for the Blind instills a sense of pride and possibility in hundreds of blind people who so often have all but given up on living a full productive life of employment, recreation, education, and accomplishment. We owe the men and women who have made the Colorado Center for the Blind revolution a reality. Make no mistake they were and are revolutionaries. When Diane and Ray McGeorge, along with their small band of true believers, took a risk to open an NFB center, there was no guarantee it would succeed. In fact, there were many “professionals” in the field of rehabilitation who wanted no part of this kind of training approach. After all, most of the teachers were blind. There were even blind instructors teaching independent cane travel. Cane travel instruction was taught using sleep shades. Expectations were high for staff and students. New methods and innovative techniques were designed to inspire every blind student regardless of background, socio-economic status or additional disabilities to reach new heights of independence. Diane McGeorge and her intrepid staff of five began to build victory after victory, one student at a time, changing one life at a time.
In 1999, Julie Deden assumed the helm as Executive Director. At that time, the Board asked Diane McGeorge to become its Chairperson. The accomplishments continued. Many who doubt the commitment and capacity of the blind leading the blind only need look at the past 25 years of CCB growth.
We at the Blind Coloradan recognize all who have taken the leap of faith, sometimes challenging the system to build, teach, and manage CCB programs or attend the Center. We recognize those who have gained their independence because they went to learn cooking, shopping, camp fire building, Christmas tree chopping, river rafting, calisthenics, rock climbing, Braille, technology, problem solving, philosophy of blindness, and cane travel. For many, the Center is considered the most meaningful, formative experience of their lives. I attended the Colorado Center more than two decades ago. On behalf of grateful alumni, we say thank you CCB. Happy Anniversary and many happy returns!
SAVE THE DATE!!!
Colorado Center for the Blind: Celebrating 25 Years!
September 13-14, 2013
Join us to honor our alumni and celebrate the difference that the Colorado Center for the Blind has made for blind people in the past quarter of a century.
Room block name: Colorado Center for the Blind Gala
Friday, September 13
Meet Dr. Marc Maurer, president of the National Federation of the Blind, his wife Mrs. Patricia Maurer, Mark Riccobono, Executive Director of the Jernigan Institute, Diane McGeorge, founder of the Colorado Center, the Board of Directors, students, staff, alumni, and others who have been critical to the development and success of this nationally recognized program.
Blind people are in charge of their lives and have the ability to make things happen: to progress, to compete, to excel.
Let Mark Riccobono, a graduate of the Colorado Center, take you for a ride in a car designed by the National Federation of the Blind
Learn about Braille and literacy
Take a tour of the Center
Don’t miss Ann Cunningham, an internationally known tactile artist. Try your hand at tactile drawing.
Meet our students as they grill up delicious food for your lunch!
Rides in the car: 10:00 am to 1:00 pm
Lunch: 11:00 am to 2:00 pm
Center is open until: 4:00 pm
Saturday, September 14
During the day: Denver area tours will be available so that you can enjoy sightseeing, spend time with your friends and meet new ones. The following tours may be available depending upon demand:
Meet Ann Cunningham and Colorado Center students at the Denver Art Museum. Look at the beautiful sculptures and check out the tactile art.
Take a trip to Golden to learn all about the Coors Brewery. The tour is fun, interesting, and tasty.
Shopping in either downtown Denver or the Northfield area close to the hotel.
Evening: Gala Event at the Renaissance Denver Hotel
Reception and dinner at 5:00 pm: $25 for alumni and $40 for all other guests.
Dancing and socializing: 8:00 pm to 11:00 pm
Colorado Center for the Blind
2233 West Shepperd Avenue
Littleton, CO 80120
Take charge with confidence and self-reliance
Jessica At Large From the Editor: Jessica Beecham is the Chapter and Community Development Coordinator for the National Federation of the Blind of Colorado. I know you will be inspired to read Jessica’s report. Catch up to her if you can…
The NFBCO is moving and shaking in 2013! In February, the NFB of Colorado was well represented at the Washington Seminar. The Washington Seminar is one of the largest public education endeavors of the National Federation of the Blind each year. Later that month, 50 of our NFBCO members were in attendance as we walked the halls of the Colorado State Capitol. We requested support from the Colorado General Assembly to work with us regarding transportation across the state, continued funding for NFB-NEWSLINE® and Audio Information Network of Colorado, and accessible testing for students in the K-12 setting. Our good friend, Representative Pete Lee of Colorado Springs, graciously introduced us from the floor of the House. After that we were off! We either spoke with or left information for, each of the 65 House members and 35 Senate members. Our members always bring the kind of energy and enthusiasm that evokes positive change.
In April, we started work to organize a chapter in Ft. Collins, Colorado. Our first meeting boasted an attendance of 15 individuals interested in seeing positive change for the blind in the Ft. Collins/Loveland area. In June, we created a constitution to be ratified by our state board, chose a name, and elected a Board of Directors. The Board of Directors for the Poudre Valley Chapter consists of President, Nick Thomas who is also one of our NFBCO scholarship finalists; Vice President, Nelson Rodriguez, Secretary, J.J. Aragon; Treasurer, Trisha Cavallaro; and board members David Walden and Penn Street. The chapter members are chomping at the bit with plans to increase bus accessibility, build membership, fundraise, and create an exciting White Cane Day event for October. Watch out Colorado! The Poudre Valley chapter is here and ready to make things happen! The Poudre Valley Chapter meets at Old Chicago Pizza, 147 South College Avenue, Ft. Collins, CO on the first Saturday of each month from 12:30 pm-2:30 pm. If you are in the Poudre Valley area, please come by and join us! This Chapter will also be participating in the Disability Pride Parade on September 7th in Ft. Collins. They will also be having a bike ride fundraiser in which you can sponsor chapter members by the mile. The ride will be a distance of 24 miles and will take place on September 14th. For more information, or to sponsor one of the chapter members in the ride, please call me at 303-778-1130 x 223.
The Colorado Association of Guide Dog Users (COAGDU) has met twice. The first meeting was a small steering committee to get the group organized. The second meeting consisted of nine guide dog users from across the state who hammered out the constitution, which will be ratified by the National Association of Guide Dog Users as well as the NFBCO Board of Directors. Their meetings will be on the fourth Thursday of each month at 6:30 pm. To join the COAGDU monthly meeting, please dial 712-432-1500 and enter access code 564151#. Melissa Green who has been a long time member of the National Association of Guide Dog Users is spearheading organizational efforts. If you have any questions, please contact Melissa at email@example.com or 970-356-8630.
As usual, our chapters have been doing some really exciting things. The Mile High Chapter conducted their second annual wine and chocolate tasting. This year, the event was held at DiVine wine in Denver, Colorado. The wine and chocolate pairings were fantastic and guests had a fabulous time. The Mile High Chapter is holding an evening at the theater fundraiser on October 10th for a viewing of “The Most Deserving”. Tickets are priced at $50.00 and will include food, door prizes, and more. To purchase a ticket, please contact Lorinda Riddle at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 303-778-1130 x 236.
The North Metro Chapter had their second annual wine tasting at Spero Winery in Westminister, CO. The homemade Italian cuisine, excellent wine, and wonderful door prizes were an intoxicating combo for participants who left raving about the event and discussing plans to return next year. The North Metro Chapter assisted several of its members making it possible for them to attend the National Convention in Orlando, Florida. A highlight was Arianna Roybal, age 6, proudly sporting her newly beautified Hello Kitty cane!
The Colorado Springs Chapter had a fantastic Valentines Day party in which new and old friends gathered to celebrate the season of LUV! Convention Scholarship winner Gina Bullard’s date Cohen (her very sweet son), was the cutest man in the house! The Colorado Springs Chapter has also been doing group activities outside of meeting time including going to the movies, ice skating, dining out, and more. On June 22nd, several chapter members participated in a walk to benefit the Colorado School for the Deaf and Blind.
The Pueblo Chapter hosted another very successful yard sale and annual picnic. They are also working on plans for their first employment seminar to be held in Pueblo. Hopefully, this will be a great tool to grow membership and assist folks in Pueblo to find employment.
The Greeley Chapter honored Melissa Green who served as the president for many years. She received a plaque commemorating her hard work and dedication to the chapter since its inception in 2000. Several members remarked that Melissa has been the glue holding the chapter together for the past thirteen years. Cody Bair, National Federation of the Blind 2013 TenBroek scholar has stepped up in an attempt to fill the big shoes that Melissa left behind (Melissa, if you are reading this I am definitely not saying you have big feet, just big shoes). The Greeley Chapter has partnered with Café Mexicali who is donating 20% of proceeds on two different days. The Greeley Chapter also hosted a New Perspectives Expo, which was held on July 31st at the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley. The Expo highlighted technology and non-visual techniques used by individuals who are blind. The Greeley Chapter secured several fantastic exhibitors and had exciting breakout sessions including how to use an iPhone, making Excel and PowerPoint Presentations, tips and tricks for self-advocacy, a special presentation from Freedom Scientific, and cane travel.
The Denver Chapter has produced a cookbook that is available in Braille and audio format. The Braille cookbook is available for $10.00 and the CD format is $5.00. For more information, please email Dishon Spears at email@example.com. You can also call 303-778-1130 x 243. The Denver Chapter and Colorado Parents of Blind Children partnered to host a picnic on Saturday, July 27th. There was food, games, and a bounce house for the kiddos. There were 75 individuals in attendance.
The Community At Large chapter has worked diligently to connect individuals throughout the state with helpful resources. We have had great calls about audio description, orientation and mobility, athletic opportunities throughout the state, and more. This chapter is always coming up with great ideas and new ways to improve the lives of blind people in Colorado.
The first meeting of the Aurora Chapter was held on August 24th. Longtime Federationist, Wayne Marshall, will be taking the lead on the organizing efforts. You can also email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 303-778-1130 x 233.
The NFB of Colorado has continued our partnership with the Colorado School for the Deaf and Blind (CSDB). In March, we were able to start our mentoring program where we mentored 6 students from March through May and everyone had a blast. Because high school and middle school students love to eat, many of our activities were centered around food. We kicked things off with a pizza party, learned to make smoothies, cooked quesadillas, talked about our futures, discussed self-advocacy, and much more. We are looking forward to mentoring at CSDB again next year. Brent Batron and I had the opportunity to be movie stars in the CSDB role model film, which will be used as a tool for families of children at the school as well as families of students receiving outreach services from the CSDB.
These are just a few of the exciting happenings around Colorado. To learn more please visit our website at www.nfbco.org, like us on Facebook by searching National Federation of the Blind NFB CO, follow us on twitter @nfbco, read our blog at www.nfbco.blogspot.com, and check out the local channel on NFBNEWSLINE®. You can also contact me, Jessica Beecham at 303-778-1130 x 223 or e-mail email@example.com.
Changes at Colorado Division of Vocational Rehabilitation
What Will They Mean for the Blind?
By: Kevan Worley
The Blind Coloradan is essentially a newsletter designed to bring timely announcements about affiliate activities to our members and others interested in the work we do. We try to write a little of our philosophy. We highlight our accomplishments and tell of our struggles. We celebrate our victories and proclaim our compassion. We hope the newsletter will touch lives. We want to distribute it widely so that folks outside of our Federation family will become interested in what this crazy crowd of blind people is all about. What the Blind Coloradan usually is not is a feature magazine or investigative publication. Therefore, writing about recent changes at the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR) is not within our usual scope. Nevertheless, we need to bring these changes to the attention of our readers.
In early 2013, the long-time director of the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation, Miss Nancy Smith, was dismissed from her position. She was originally placed on administrative leave. After a few weeks in which upper management at the Department of Human Services which houses the DVR reviewed recent actions of the director, and operations of the state’s rehabilitation counsel, Director Smith was fired. There has been no allegation of impropriety. We know of no claim of any illegal activity. As far as we can tell the basis for the dismissal was for ineffective management. As one senior official put it “she was fired for not keeping her eye on the ball to keep up with dynamic funding challenges”. Another senior official said “the State Rehabilitation Counsel, Director Smith, and others at the agency were woefully inadequate when dealing with budget and funding issues. After being apathetic they then took precipitous public action which actually put DVR funding and programs in jeopardy”. We understand that Miss Smith has taken legal action against the state over her firing, asking for significant severance. We don’t know the status of any litigation at this time.
The interim director, Todd Jorgensen, is now directing a division which has had to establish an order of selection. Clients are now on a wait list for services. The agency has conducted a national search for a new director. We are being told that a decision on a replacement may be announced any day. Julie Deden, Executive Director of the Colorado Center for the Blind, was appointed to serve on the interview panel. She says she cannot comment on the process or applicants because it is a personnel matter. She says there are good candidates, in her opinion.
Leaders of the Federation met with Julie Kerksick, Director, Office of Economic Security, after learning of Miss Smith’s firing and hearing of the announcement that the agency would be under an order of selection. The Federation also met with Julie Kerksick to express dissatisfaction with the manner in which emails containing announcements were being distributed. Ironically, emails sent by an agency charged with empowering blind people were not accessible to individuals using screen readers. This irony was not lost on Miss Kerksick who took immediate action. Other changes have been made in the organizational chart which the agency suggests will bring greater efficiency. Julie Kerksick, Director, Office of Economic Security, is an impressive individual who was clear, concise, and knowledgeable.
It is fair, we think, to characterize the relationship between the Federation and the former director as mixed. Sometimes it was warm and cooperative, and at times cold and confrontational. For the most part it was at least cordial and sometimes downright friendly and collaborative. There is no doubt that she and others at the Division opposed the establishment of any type of commission for the blind. After a commission was established by legislation which gave citizens of Colorado a convoluted, unwieldy, inefficient, overly bureaucratic structure; Director Smith did little to facilitate positive outcomes from the new advisory board. If she had, it may have given this admittedly flawed, oversight body at least some positive impact on services. Director Smith alone cannot be blamed for the failure of the ill-fated monstrosity called the Colorado Commission but the posture assumed by the director and others at the department during that time wavering between apathy and antagonism did little to help.
Imagine the outcry which would have come from the blind of Colorado had a director been dismissed who had aggressively championed innovation, inclusion, and progressive approaches to dramatically improve rehabilitation. We suggest that those at the highest level of government would not challenge a director who had earned the loyal support of consumers who had been so empowered. We often observe administrators who play it safe. At the end of the day they are not safe from the vagaries of bureaucracy or political shifts. And so we say to the next director “why not take risks and champion real reform”? In spite of conventional wisdom reform-minded managers usually last longest.
The fact is the agency has enacted an order of selection. There is currently a wait list for services. This agency has not been as creative as it could have been to garner available federal funds. Blind consumers and others with disabilities will now suffer. We hope the changes being made at DVR will bring a new day for those in need of education, skills training, and job placement services. But today hundreds of deserving Colorado citizens are not being served. The Federation stands ready to work with DVR. We have experts and advocates who can help bring necessary resources to the agency. Now the question is, will changes being undertaken result in innovation, increased funding, and greater consumer choice?
It must be said that Nancy Smith cares about people with disabilities. She is held in high regard by many of this nation’s rehabilitation administrators and professionals. She is compassionate, she believes in equality of opportunity. This editor views her as a friend and good friends are hard to find, so thank you Nancy for your service and friendship. Keep doing what you can to make the world a better place. In the final analysis that must be what it is all about.
We Rang the BELL Again!
By: Diane McGeorge From the Editor: Just prior to every issue of the Blind Coloradan, we receive a timely and important article from Diane McGeorge. This should come as no surprise. Diane has led our affiliate in one capacity or another since the mid 1950’s. How appropriate it is that we receive an article from Diane for our special Labor Day/CCB anniversary issue. Very few blind women were working professionals 60 years ago. Diane was! Her husband Ray was a blind machinist. They understand work. The two of them along with a small band of believers labored to found and build the CCB. In the following article, Diane focuses on one of her other passions, the education of blind children. Here is what she says;
In July, we held our third BELL program. For those of you who may not have heard of BELL, it is a wonderful program developed by the National Federation of the Blind Jernigan Institute which emphasizes the importance of learning Braille for young children. BELL stands for Braille Enrichment Literacy and Learning. We recruit children from the ages of 4 to 11 to participate in an exciting two week program in which the importance of Braille is stressed in every activity. We do lots of activities including independent cane travel using the long white cane. For some of these little guys, the “long” white cane isn’t very long but they understand what that cane can tell them when they are walking around the classroom, playing outside, or going on bus trips around the metro area. One of the highlights this year was a scavenger hunt on the Boulder mall. Kids, teachers and volunteers took the RTD bus to Boulder where teams were formed. Each team was given Braille clues to find items on the Boulder mall. They had pizza for lunch, took the bus back to the Rocky Mountain MS Center where classes were held each day. Kids learned that vision isn’t all that you can use to find fun things on a scavenger hunt. One of the clues was to bring back a card from a coffee shop. They had no problem sniffing out the coffee shop.
Each day the youngsters kept a journal of their activities in Braille. They decorated their journals with art projects. They made tactile identifiers for their canes so there wouldn’t be any doubt about who got whose cane.
One of the best parts of the day was getting into their circle on the floor and telling about what we call their “BELL moment”. Each child tells about something he or she did that day that they had not ever done before. BELL moments can range from making a sandwich for lunch to helping another child find the Braille name on a locker.
The program ran from July 15 through July 26 and every day was filled to capacity. The Rocky Mountain MS Center has been a wonderful partner of ours for the last 3 years and we can’t thank them enough for their warmth and hospitality to our kids and volunteers. Speaking of volunteers, each parent is asked to volunteer for at least one day or one activity and we had a wonderful response as usual. We also had blind teenagers from the Colorado Center for the Blind, the Colorado Parents of Blind Children division, and if I start naming names I’ll leave somebody out. Our volunteer response is so great.
I also want to express our thanks to the Colorado Center for the Blind for their contribution as well as the NFB of Colorado and the many individual chapters who helped make BELL possible again this year. This program is funded through contributions and grants that we can obtain. All of our members worked hard to make it a successful program.
We hope to expand to another part of the state next year, God willing and the support keeps coming in. I can’t imagine it won’t.
In Colorado, we know what our priorities are. One of our top priorities is our youth. This is evidenced in the outstanding work of the Colorado Center for the Blind, our partnership with the Colorado School for the Deaf and Blind, our support for our teachers of the visually impaired, and of course our BELL program. Eleven children this year are many steps closer to realizing it is respectable to be blind. The world is waiting for them and we in the National Federation of the Blind will make it a better world.
Colorado Regional Braille Challenge
By: Diane Covington
From the Editor: Diane Covington is the Director of Community Relations for the Colorado School for the Deaf and Blind. Here is what she has to say about the exciting, upcoming Braille challenge;
The Colorado regional contest will again be sponsored by and held at the Colorado Springs School for the Deaf and Blind in 2014. Students may also compete individually in their home school with their TVI administering the tests. Students compete in various categories such as spelling, reading comprehension, speed and accuracy, proofreading, and charts and graphs. Please hold January 30, 2014 for this event.
For more information, contact Diane Covington at firstname.lastname@example.org or 719-578-2225. Please visit www.brailleinstitute.org for additional information about the National Braille Challenge.
More Than A Fun Evening at the Theatre From the Editor: Jessica Beecham is the Chapter and Community Development Coordinator for the National Federation of the Blind of Colorado. Gary Van Dorn is the energetic President of the NFBCO Mile High Chapter. Here is what they have to say about a night at the theatre to benefit the Federation; Join the Mile High Chapter of the National Federation of the Blind
for an evening of fun, food and the world premiere of
The Most Deserving
By Catherine Trieshmann Performance held at The Ricketson Theatre on
Thursday, October 10 at 6:30 pmReception prior to performance from 4:30 pm – 6:00 pm at
The Robert & Judi Newman Center for Theatre Education
Located at 1101-13th Street, Denver, CO 80204 Tickets: $50
The Most Deserving is a satirical, insightful look at how the arts collide with politics, self-interest, taste, relationships, and gossip. Tasked with awarding $20,000 to a deserving local artist who “demonstrates an under-represented American voice,” a small town arts council in Ellis County, Kansas comically erupts into chaos. Should the award go to a high school teacher/painter of modest talent or to the self-taught African-American artist who creates controversial religious figures out of trash? The Most Deserving is a must see!
Producing Partners: Terry & Noel Hefty and Karolynn Lestrud
The Mile High Chapter of the NFBCO offers blind people, their friends, and families the opportunity to network and join in fellowship with one another. Join us for a night of fun, food, and the magic of live theatre to benefit all blind individuals in Colorado.
To order tickets on line: Click the link below or copy link into your browser. https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_s-xclick&hosted_button_id=JL9QJFL8TE6PG
For questions about the performance and sponsorships or to order tickets by phone contact either Jessica Beecham at 303-778-1130 x 223 or 720-440-2632 or Gary Van Dorn at 303-863-1150.
The 2013 National Federation of the Blind,
Colorado Springs Picnic Extravaganza!
By: Everett Gavel
From the Editor: Everett Gavel is an active member of the National Federation of the Blind of Colorado, Colorado Springs Chapter. Here is what he had to say about the annual picnic;
Okay, so the National Federation of the Blind Colorado Springs Annual Picnic may not have been exactly an “extravaganza” in the strict sense of the word. It was, however, a fantastic day of camaraderie, competition, and encouragement.
The picnic was held on Saturday, August 10, 2013, from 10am until noon and it was certainly an entertaining, beautiful day. There were more than 30 adults and kids all having fun and making new friends. About 25% of the attendees were new to our NFB chapter!
You missed out! There was some delicious food donated by Dickie's BBQ. Several members also brought along some wonderful side dishes and desserts. While at last year’s picnic we had 3 tug-o-war contests, this year we had 1 “all in” whopper of a contest! It was held on the nearby volleyball court, and since I ended up on the losing team that was momentarily dragged through the sand, I’ll just say that later that evening I was finding sand in places that I’m still not sure how it got there. A round of applause should go out to two of Denver's Beep Baseball teams, the Colorado Storm and the CenturyLink Pioneers for helping a group of blind citizens experience Beep Baseball firsthand here in the Pike's Peak region.
While enjoying the great food and fellowship, members shared some news about upcoming events. The Colorado Springs chapter meetings are held on the 2nd Saturday of each month. Information about any chapter across Colorado can be found on the NFB of Colorado’s Web site at www.nfbco.org .
Marie Dambrosky: One Remarkable Woman!!!
By: Duncan Larsen
From the Editor: Duncan Larsen coordinates the Senior Program for the Colorado Center for the Blind. We are excited to receive this truly inspiring profile. Marie Dambrosky is a 94 year-old participant in the Senior Program at the Colorado Center for the Blind. She is inspiring to all who know her. She continues to live independently in her own home near the University of Denver. She uses a white cane and is dedicated to new learning. I asked her how she keeps motivated and her reply, “I’m so darned curious. I want to know how things work. Some of it comes from my childhood. We were brought up that way – to keep on going”.
Marie grew up in Saskatchewan until she moved with her family at age 16 to Minnesota. There she went to a trade school and started work as a telegrapher. She later became a branch manager for Western Union. She eventually graduated to computers and has been a ham radio operator for 55 years.
Marie started having problems with her vision in 1972 at the age of 53. She was diagnosed with glaucoma and had her first eye surgery in 1976. Eight years ago, Marie started to notice more changes with her vision. She was then diagnosed with macular degeneration. Following that, she found out about the Colorado Center for the Blind (CCB). She says, “I am very happy that I found the CCB. It is one of my chief places of communication, support, and input of all kinds. They are part of my family. I have that support every week. If I couldn’t go to CCB, it would almost be like not going to church”!
Cooking is a big part of Marie’s life. She loves to experiment with new recipes. She recently baked cookies to give to students at the CCB. She says, “I love to cook. I like to try new techniques.” Marie does her own grocery shopping, using a shopper’s assistant. “I don’t mind getting groceries that way. I prefer it – it gives me independence and a greater control of what I get.”
Marie just keeps learning and trying new things. She recently purchased an iPad and has already learned how to send emails. She comments, “I enjoy life. I worry sometimes that there won’t be enough to do and I might get bored. Something always pops up.”
Here is some advice that Marie gives, “Seek information. Get information from medical sources, the Internet, organizations and people. Find out what you can about your situation. The more information you have, the better you can handle it. You’ve got to have a sense of humor or you won’t live well. Here is what I learned from religion – we are not in charge, but we have choices. We sure have an opportunity to make changes. This is one of my main ideas of life.”
Standing Up For Workers
By: Kevan Worley
This might be called the Labor Day issue of the Blind Coloradan. It is going to press at the time of a holiday intended to celebrate the economic and social contributions of American workers. Labor Day is more than a day of sales, the end of summer, or picnics in the park. Labor Day was the brainchild of Matthew Maguire, a labor leader and machinist from the state of New York in the 1880’s. It became a national holiday when signed into law by President Grover Cleveland in 1894. At the time of this year’s celebration of those who labor, we call upon the public to think of the contributions made by blind workers and the contributions that many blind workers would make if included into the workforce on terms of equality. Many blind individuals are part of the 70% unemployed statistic. Many workers with disabilities including blind laborers work for pay below the federal minimum wage. In a twist of irony, President Barack Obama in a speech given on Labor Day 2010 said “It was the labor movement that helped secure so much of what we take for granted today. The 40-hour work week, the minimum wage, family leave, health insurance, Social Security, Medicare, retirement plans. The cornerstones of the middle-class security all bear the union label”. Over this past summer the Federation has worked hard to oppose passage of section 511 of the Workforce Investment Act which would continue to allow payment of subminimum wages by encouraging an environment within vocational rehabilitation agencies incentivizing sheltered work. On Labor Day 2013, we recognize our effort, remember the struggle, and remain committed to fair treatment for all of America’s workers including those with disabilities.
The position of The National Federation of the Blind regarding section 511 of the Workforce Investment Act is very clear. Here in part is a statement recently released by Anil Lewis, Director of Advocacy and Policy; “The National Federation of the Blind appreciates that section 511 is intended to reduce the number of youth with disabilities being tracked into subminimum wage employment environments. However, we respectfully feel that the language does nothing to eliminate the exploitation of workers with disabilities, and the passage of this legislation would make a deplorable situation even worse. We strongly feel that this problem must be dealt with at the root by repealing section 14(c) of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), which authorizes the payment of subminimum wages to people with disabilities.
In order to truly understand our position on this issue, it is important to look at the big picture. For more than seventy years, section 14(c) of the FLSA has excluded people with disabilities from the same workforce protection of a federal minimum wage enjoyed by all other Americans. Today, hundreds of thousands of Americans with disabilities are currently employed at wages less than the federal minimum wage. Some argue that this exemption is necessary, because people with disabilities cannot be competitive employees. The National Federation of the Blind, since its inception in 1940, has never agreed with this proposition. Even if, for the sake of argument, it was accepted as being necessary in the past, circumstances are substantially different now than in 1938. The overall nature of the job market has changed; the ability to use assistive technology has made it possible for people with disabilities to perform any number of competitive job tasks; and the profession of rehabilitation has developed new job training and placement strategies to competitively employ a person with even the most significant disability. Yet people with disabilities continue to be employed at subminimum wages. We agree with those who say that the status quo is unacceptable, but what is truly unacceptable is that it is legal to pay people with disabilities subminimum wages at all”. That is what Mr. Lewis had to say. We congratulate the hundreds of blind Coloradans who emailed and called Senator Michael Bennet over the past month to express dissatisfaction with his stance on this issue. We look forward to meetings with both of our Senators planned for this fall.
Goalball on the Go!!!
From the Editor: Steve Patten is a cane travel instructor at the Colorado Center for the Blind and an active goalball player. Here is what he has to say about the sport;
Students at the CCB have the opportunity to participate in a wide variety of challenging recreation activities in order to build confidence and instill the belief that blind people can do anything that they want to do. Recently students and staff have been participating in a sport called goalball. Goalball is a Paralympic team sport played by blind people. It is very competitive and lots of fun. Players use a ball about the size of a traditional basketball with bells inside so that it can be heard as it rolls across the court, which is eighteen meters long by nine meters wide. There are three players on either end of the court and the objective is to roll the ball across the court to get it past the opposing team.
In the middle of May, a few of us from Colorado had the chance to play in a United States Association of Blind Athletes sanctioned tournament in Salt Lake City, Utah. We were able to take four players to this tournament including me, Matt Simpson who lives in Colorado Springs and plays on Team USA, KC Krenzer who is a competitor from Denver, and CCB student Demarcusnez Sandidge. As we arrived in Salt Lake City, we were all a bit nervous but very excited about the competition to come!
After several days of competition, we found ourselves playing for the bronze medal against a team that had just beaten us the day before. We were all thrilled to be playing for a medal. We took fourth place and even though we lost a tough game we all walked away from this experience with a lot of confidence in ourselves.
The National Federation of the Blind of Colorado State Convention PreviewFrom the Editor: Occasionally, we are asked “Why attend a National Federation of the Blind Convention?” We have put together a brief summary of convention activities. We believe this will inspire blind students, parents of blind children, blind job seekers, those interested in the challenges of being a blind senior, those interested in assistive technology for the blind, and others to be a part of the upcoming state convention. Here is the summary; The National Federation of the Blind of Colorado (NFBCO) will hold its 59th Annual Convention starting on Thursday, October 17th, at the Colorado Springs Marriott. Thursday afternoon will feature a life skills seminar and networking event for blind youth of high school and college age. On Thursday evening, we will hold a leadership training and networking event for NFBCO Board Members, Chapter Presidents, and other Federation leaders.
Friday morning, October 18th, will kick off with registration and opening of the Exhibit Hall for sponsors and exhibitors. The first general session will take place in the form of a luncheon featuring our NFBCO scholarship winners and law makers. Friday afternoon will offer various substantive breakout sessions such as employment tips strategies and the latest and greatest in assistive technology for the blind. The second general session will start at 4:00 pm and take up items such as the Presidential Report and other significant items concerning the blind such as vocational rehabilitation and voting rights. At 5:30 pm, we will hold our Sponsors Reception where Convention Sponsors and exhibitors can address the convention and mix and mingle with our members. That night, our Colorado Springs Chapter will host a social event offering games and events for kids of all ages emphasizing a western theme.
Saturday morning, October 19th, will start with another general session where we will hear the National Report from NFB National Representative, Mr. Carl Jacobsen, NFB Board Member who hails from New York. The morning will also feature a moving report from the Colorado Center for the Blind, celebrating its 25th year of providing training in independent skills for the blind. We will hear the always inspiring, “My Blindness, Myself,” presentation where three of our members will tell their personal stories of how they have managed their blindness successfully. The morning session will also consider access to education, transportation, employment, senior services, and other issues faced by the blind of Colorado. Saturday afternoon is when NFBCO divisions conduct their meetings, such as the students, parents of blind children, blind seniors, blind merchants, and others. At 6:00 pm on Saturday evening, we will have our major annual, social mixer followed by the Annual Banquet at 7:00 pm. The banquet will feature a keynote address from Mr. Jacobsen, presentation of the 2013 scholarships, and delivery of other special awards.
Sunday morning, October 20th, will contain the final general session where we will address other important matters faced by the blind. We will also conduct our Annual Business Session where we will consider resolutions and conduct elections for our officers and board positions. The Convention will adjourn by noon.
The above summary does not represent the entirety of the items that will appear on the final agenda. It is possible that some of the items mentioned above will have to be moved to other times during the convention. The final agenda will be released in late September. It should also be noted that our exhibit hall will remain open during the vast majority of Convention time on Saturday and Sunday.
From the Editor: Blind Buzz is a column which will have announcements, notes, vignettes, profiles, assertions, snap-shots, rumors, innuendo and observations. Blind Buzz is solely responsible for the content. What’s happening? Blind Buzz wants to know.
Our friend, Mark Lucas, Executive Director of the United States Association of Blind Athletes, based in Colorado Springs has won another award. He is the 2013 recipient of the American Optometric Association (AOA) Distinguished Service Award.
Looks like it was another busy summer for Colorado kids of all ages! We don’t know how they do it! Every summer the Colorado Center for the Blind programs seem to get bigger, better, and bolder. The programs educated and entertained kids from 4 to 92. For the little kids, a Louis Braille carnival day starring Louis Braille himself. They had a high school Earn and Learn event, as well as college and senior citizen programs. That place must have been a buzz!
Congratulations to Arielle Silverman, longtime Federation member. She married Jason Gwinn in Boulder on September 1st. She and Jason met at CU and are completing their doctoral studies together.
Buzz welcomes Dan Burke to Colorado. He has come to us from Montana. He was the longtime President of the National Federation of the Blind of Montana. Dan served for many years on the NFB National Board of Directors. Dan is now directing a number of programs in the areas of transition and college preparedness for the blind. Travis Moses moved from Colorado to Montana a number of years ago and is now the President of the NFB of Montana. Rumor has it that The Buzz may be traded to Wyoming for a player to be named later.
Senator Michael Bennet’s office in Washington, DC tells the Buzz that they received many emails and well over 100 calls from Colorado citizens in early August just prior to the vote of the Senate Help Committee on the authorization of the Workforce Investment Act. Unfortunately, Senator Bennet was 1 of 18 votes for the markup of the bill. The bill would continue to encourage payment of subminimum wages to people with disabilities.
Maryann Migliorelli wishes to thank her Federation family for their continued support throughout her college and career endeavors. Your encouragement has given her the drive to become an entrepreneur with Migliorelli Magic Moments, her own events management company.
Buzz congratulates Jack Riley. Jack is a blind businessman operating food services at Schriever Air Force Base. Jack provided a compelling overview of his distinguished career and insight into the management he provides at his large troop dining facility. He addressed the 150 delegates attending National Training Conference on business enterprise procurement sponsored by the Rehabilitation Services Administration in Baltimore, MD.
Buzz wonders how many teachers at Colorado School for the Deaf and Blind are certified to teach Braille?
WHEREAS, the blind of Colorado gather in convention each year to discuss, debate, and decide how best to build futures full of equality of opportunity based on the common sense philosophy of the National Federation of the Blind; and
WHEREAS, Federationists assembled at the annual convention often consider policy statement of fact and principle which guide the activities of the affiliate in the months and years ahead; and
WHEREAS these policy statements are adopted in the form of resolutions; and
WHEREAS, these resolutions often commend or condemn actions taken by those in positions of power and influence with respect to blind Coloradans; and
WHEREAS resolutions also may set forth principles, systems, or plans intended to guide and govern our affiliate; and
WHEREAS, the President of the affiliate appoints a committee to consider resolutions brought by the members; and
WHEREAS, this committee consists of one member of each chapter or division as appointed by the chapter or division President with the approval of the National Federation of the Blind of Colorado President; and
WHEREAS, any member of the National Federation of the Blind of Colorado may offer a resolution for consideration; and
WHEREAS, the deadline for submission of resolutions for the 2013 convention is Monday, October 7th; and
WHEREAS, the committee in its discretion may consider resolutions submitted after this deadline although it is not required to do so; and
WHEREAS the committee will meet at 7 pm on Friday October 18th to consider resolutions which if passed will be presented to the delegates assembled in general sessions during the weekend typically during the Sunday morning business session. Now, therefore,
BE IT RESOLVED that all resolutions be submitted to the Chairman Brent Batron, Second Vice President, by email at email@example.com by close of business Monday October 7th; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that any member offering a resolution must be present at the Friday evening committee meeting to advocate for his or her policy recommendation.
That’s the Buzz on resolutions.
And on a final but very appropriate note for this Labor Day issue, renowned labor leader John L. Lewis once proclaimed “Let the workers organize. Let the toilers assemble. Let their crystallized voice proclaim their injustices and demand their privileges. Let all thoughtful citizens sustain them, for the future of Labor is the future of America”.
That’s the Buzz for this issue.
Special thanks to Lisa Bonderson, Julie Hunter, and Lorinda Riddle for organization, support and proofreading. Errors, assumptions, or omissions should be brought to the attention of the editor who will likely blame Blind Buzz for any mistakes. Thanks for reading The Blind Coloradan, Labor Day 2013 issue.