The NFBN Affiliate Newsletter August 2010
Editor: Bridgit Kuenning-Pollpeter
Layout editor: Ross Michael Pollpeter
The Nebraska Independent is a bi-annual publication of the National Federation of the Blind of
Nebraska. Please send submissions and comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.
All submissions should be sent as attachments in emails. The editor and Affiliate President have the
right to cut and revise submissions. The President has the final authority on all Nebraska Independent
LETTER FROM THE PRESIDENT
Blazing On!, by President Amy Buresh
A PAGE IN THE CHAPTER
News from Grand Island, by Nancy Oltman
One Man’s Trash… NABS 2010 Garage Sale, by Amy Mason
NFB-Newsline® on the phone, on demand and on the go, by Jamie K. Forbis
News from the Big O, by Sandy Alvarado
Treasurer’s Map, by Ross Michael Pollpeter
Hello from the Pan-Handle Chapter, by Karen Lemon
Platte Valley Chapter Hits the Rails, by Christopher Turner
Blind Driver Challenge of the NFB Featured at NIWeek 2010
Librarian of Congress Says Blind Have Right to Access E-books
Turkey 2010, Project III: Teachers Are It, by Robert Leslie Newman
Toward Independent Reading, by Barbara Loos
Alternative Methods and How You Can Use Them, by Mike Joles
Confidence Versus Arrogance, by Ross Michael Pollpeter
Golfing Blind, by Robert Leslie Newman
It’s All About the After-Party, by Amy Mason
Between Two Worlds, by Chris Turner
Educating the Education System, Part 1, by Bridgit Kuenning-Pollpeter
How is a Blind Person Supposed to Act?, by Mark Alexander
Imagined Darkness, by Bridgit Kuenning-Pollpeter
HOME OF THE HUSKER
Living & Health
The Accessible Diabetic, by Bridgit Kuenning-Pollpeter
Hands on Living: Blind Crafting for Everyone, by Susan Roe
Breaded Ranch Chicken
Black Bean & Corn Dip Salad
Easy Tomato Dip
Greek Isles Pasta Salad
Ice Pop Coolers
Pressed Cuban Burgers
Summer Lemon Cake
FOR YOUR INFORMATION
Diabetes Resource Guide Notice
NABS World’s of Fun Trip 2010 Notice
NFBN Academic Scholarship 2010 Notice
Ski for Light 2010 Notice
Training Centers for the Blind Contact Information
From the Editor’s Desk
Challenge to be Driven, by Bridgit Kuenning-Pollpeter
LETTER FROM THE PRESIDENT
By President Amy Buresh
Greetings Friends and Fellow Federationists,
Deep summer is when laziness finds respectability. ~Sam Keen
Summer is the time when one sheds one's tensions with one's clothes, and the right kind of day is
jeweled balm for the battered spirit. A few of those days and you can become drunk with the belief that
all's right with the world. ~Ada Louise Huxtable
Hopefully many of you have had opportunity to enjoy some of the fun and frivolity the summer
has to offer. More than that, I trust those of you who attended our 70th annual National Federation of
the Blind convention in Dallas had your commitment to the cause renewed and your spirit re-energized.
As usual the week was productive, rejuvenating, high energy and filled with fun, fellowship and
empowerment. If you were not at convention, or if you'd like to re-live highlights from this years stellar
program, visit www.nfb.org/nfb/National_Convention_Highlights.asp for audio and video highlights.
The August/September edition of the Braille Monitor promises to be chalked full of convention nuggets
including the presidential report and the banquet address given by our president Dr. Marc Maurer.
As the summer blazes on and moves into the crisp, cool days of fall, Nebraska Federationists will
be, I know, turning attention to two very important things: UNL athletics and the annual convention of
the National Federation of the blind of Nebraska. With superior room rates of $69.00 per night at the
New World Inn in Columbus, Nebraska, and an agenda that promises to be inspiring, innovative and
entertaining it's the place to be October 28-31. Look for a more detailed account of our state convention
to be available in August, 2010.
Since I last wrote to you we've been busy around the state; breaking down barriers, empowering
lives and speaking out as the voice of Nebraska's blind. We have advocated for Braille to be in the
hands of each and every student who wants it, partnering with Chadron State College to develop a
Braille class for Special Education majors, for equal and safe working conditions for blind employees
and so much more. We have together, at each end of our fine state, held the most successful Walk for
Independence in recent memory. Our students held an incredibly stunning, high energy seminar this
past spring and we've sent several individuals to national leadership seminars and youth events. We
even have a champion speaker among us. Secretary of the newly formed Panhandle Chapter, Jeremy
Fifield, 19, is from Alliance and won the State Class B title with a speech: Being Blind Is Not Worse Or
Better--Just Different. Congratulations Jeremy!
I am continually inspired by the commitment and leadership of Dr. Maurer and my esteemed
colleagues on the National Board of Directors and those on the Nebraska state Board of Directors. My
belief in our movement is strengthened each time an individual learns to fluently use Braille or
overcomes a personal challenge by breaking down a barrier to their success. I first addressed you, the
National Federation of the Blind of Nebraska as your first scholarship winner in 1993. By bestowing
that honor on me it said you believed in me and my capabilities. You helped me to fully realize the
importance of this awesome organization and to know the truly incredible power of our collective voice.
It is my pledge to you to continue striving for security, equality and opportunity for the blind of
My friend Pam Allen shared this quote with me and I thought it expressed the power of the
National Federation of the blind.
Our stories contain the answers to each other’s questions. What I cannot find in searching
through the riches and rubble of my own life may become apparent to me in the witnessing of yours. In
the passing on of our stories, we gift each other with the power of possibility. When I watch you claim
your life and go after your dream, I begin to believe I can do it too. When I see what you risk to achieve
what you want, I think that I too could take that chance. When I hear what you have suffered while I see
you trudging forward, I believe I can make it to the other side of my own darkness. What can save us, if
it is not our stories, not the careful sharing of who we are and what we dream for a world whose future
rests in our hands?
A PAGE IN THE CHAPTER
News from Grand Island
By Nancy Oltman
Our Chapter has lost a member, Cleota Serpa, who has moved to Nevada to be closer to her
daughter. She will be missed. That now leaves the Grand Island Chapter with three members. On a
brighter note, we are planning a meet-and-greet at Skagway in Grand Island on July 24th. Hopefully,
we can energize Grand Island and gain new interest in our Chapter. We hope to have more meet-and-
greet events in the future to help get the NFB name out there. Also, as stated in my last report, we are
now meeting on the fourth Saturday of the month from 10:30 AM to noon at the Center for Independent
Living. Lee's restaurant proved to be too noisy to properly conduct business. We continue to strive for
growth and look forward to what the future holds.
Due to the small size of our Chapter, we have not had the opportunity to hold many events
allowing us to show how to use alternative techniques. I will instead explain how I have used the
alternative skills when selling baked items at a local Farmer’s Market in Hastings.
Whether you plan on participating in a farmer’s market or you just like to bake, the following
speaks to all people who are blind. I find that preparation the night before a marathon baking day is
extremely helpful. Things such as chopped fruits and/or vegetable and nuts, having a garbage bowl and
garbage bag, and lining up equipment is very important. Orgnization is very important for any baker,
but especially when relying on non-visual ways of retrieving material quickly and smoothly.
Incidentally, I was using a garbage bowl long before I ever knew who Rachel Ray was.
I always use one hand as a guide to avoid missing the item I am working with. This works as a
very efficient way to place the streusel on top of my coffee cake making less of a mess. While one hand
is my guide, I use the other hand to sprinkle streusel around the edge of the cake first, then very lightly
making sure that the edge is covered, I run a finger lightly along the edge and fill in any spots I miss.
Next, I fill in the middle of the cake sprinkling across. For me, this method is faster and easier when
time is a premium. I also make the large muffins to sell individually for those who cannot wait to have
something to eat before going home. I found that using a half cup measuring cup worked pretty well for
filling the cups. Of course, you must remember to scrape off the bottom of the cup before placing the
batter in the pan. I find using my finger works best and faster for the scraping. Perhaps I should tell you
that I scrub my hands before baking, many times during baking and of course after baking. When the
cakes and muffins are finished baking, I run a knife along the edge of the pan to loosen then I place a
paper plate on top and flip the pan upside down onto the plate. Since this leaves the cake upside down, I
place another plate on the bottom facing up and flip again so the cake is upright on a new plate. Not to
panic if the cake is not quite centered, just simply measure the distance with your hands then gently slide
the cake into the proper position. The cake amazingly can stand this maneuver and (knock on wood) I
have never had a cake split on me.
Next, it is very useful for me to have brailed out cards with each item I plan to make. Customers
don't wish to receive banana nut coffeecake if they believe they purchased a Morning Glory coffeecake.
I have two brailed cards for each item. First one is for printed labels which are paper clipped to the
Braille card. This allows me to label each item in print myself. Usually, I have at least two of any
variety of coffeecake and for the most popular ones usually four. The second Brailed card goes with the
other coffeecakes until I have time to label them. I can place four coffeecakes on one cookie sheet, tuck
the Braille label on the corner of the cookie sheet and then label when the baking part of my day is
finished. I also Braille out a list of all the varieties of products I have just as a reminder for me as I
usually have at least 5 varieties of coffeecake, bread, 2 varieties of muffins and cinnamon rolls. It is
easy to forget what you have so making a list for your records is helpful. It is also a good technique to
verbally let the customer know what is available because just visualizing the products sometimes won't
trigger that buying impulse, but hearing that you have say blueberry coffeecake or some other variety
sometimes entices someone's impulse to buy.
Last and most important, I have a "money box" which allows me to finish the sales end of the
bargain. Maybe not the most sophisticated method, but that would not be cost effective. My box has a
Brailed section for most varieties of bills, $1, $5, $10, and $20. I also make it a habit to fold my bills as
they go into my box. This acts as a second check for what the bills are as things can move quickly when
several customers are purchasing at once. Obviously , I do not mind being overwhelmed with customers,
in terms of business anyway. This year my sister and I are selling together so it is important for me to
know how much I start with in my money box and how much product I start with; how many loaves of
bread, coffeecake, etc as each has a different price and to keep our profits seperated. Exercise is a
great side effect from a busy day at the farmer’s market, well at least as long as I keep the testing of
baked goods down to a minimum!
I used to have a neighbor who said it is important to "toot" your own horn; so consider this my
"tooting". Come on down to the down town Hastings Farmer's Market and purchase some very tasty
items from Nancy's Kitchen. We are open from 8 AM to noon on each Saturday of the month during
For more information about the Grand Island Chapter, please contact Nancy Oltman at
One Man’s Trash… NABS 2010 Garage Sale
By Amy Mason
Summer, it’s about swimming, amusement parks and hanging with friends, all activities enjoyed
by students. The Nebraska Association of Blind Students loves to plan activities like these during
summer. One little problem with this situation is that summer can be expensive, especially when we
start getting amusement parks involved. An annual trip to World’s of Fun has become a NABS tradition.
It’s an opportunity to learn skills, confidence, have fun with friends and, almost as importantly, ride
This is not a cheap thing to do, though, so NABS needed money to help fund the trip and all of
our other projects. We’ve had lots of successful fundraisers in the last year or so, but none have been
quite as hands-on as the NABS garage sale. Picture a warm spring weekend- no I mean Nebraska
warm- that’s better. Now you have the idea (extremely hot for May and muggy. Tables set out along
the sidewalk, books, toys, furniture, computers- you name it we probably had it. Haggling with
customers, keeping an eye on the merchandise and managing to have a bit of fun as well. It was a
juggling act, but it was certainly successful. This event was made possible by a lot of hard work, and a
couple simple alternative techniques, and I think it’s only fair to tell you a bit about both.
First, I want to say that the event wouldn’t have been possible without the time, effort, and floor
space put in by Mary and Brian Gould. They went above and beyond the call of duty by visiting other
garage sales to collect donations at the end of the day, and they stored it all in and around their house
before, during and after the sale, until the leftovers were carted to other charitable organizations. Lots of
other NABS students took their turns helping out as well. For example, some students collected
donations. Other students worked on spreading the word, and a few of us (or maybe most of us) cleaned
out our closets, but I had to say a special thanks to the Gould’s for living with the sale until it actually
Our original plan was to collect from students as they moved out of the dorms. We got some
good items from this option, but most of our inventory came from other garage sales in the area. Other
than hiring/bribing drivers for these collection events, we didn’t have to use a lot of alternative
techniques, but those we used truly made the sale a success.
The first major technique we used was simply organization. For instance, once things were
collected, Mary began the sorting process at her house, and on Friday those of us scheduled to work
helped to create “departments” in our carnival of values. We sorted clothes, books, house wares, and
electronics into separate sections of the lawn so we could direct people to the deals they were looking
for. We also set ourselves along the length of the sale to answer questions, act as sales people, and
discourage shoplifting. (There were a couple of youth in the area who didn’t quite understand the term
garage “sale”). Since we were spaced among the different departments, we got to know what we had
fairly well, and could direct people to the right area to find what they were looking for. This made for
happy customers and a fair profit for NABS.
The second major technique we favored was flexibility. Many garage sales are set up with a
price set to everything, and take hours to prepare because you have to label and take note of all of your
stock. Not the NABS garage sale. Instead, we agreed to price the bigger items as a team, on the first
night, and most of the other things came down to haggling and our own discretion. We agreed to lower
prices as the weekend continued, but many of our big items sold quickly enough that we got our full
intended price for them. There were a few fun discussions of really good deals gotten either by
customers, or NABS depending on the item, but letting the customer make an offer generally made for a
smoother, simpler sale.
The only other major alternative techniques we used involved using a money box with different
compartments for different bills, and occasionally taking our profits inside where they would be safe
from the ravages of wind, and unfortunately sticky fingers. We also were careful to keep someone with
the money box at all times, and truly had no problems.
The event was a lot of work, but it was also a huge success. We learned that carrying off a
successful garage sale is all about organization, flexibility, lots of sweat, and fun. Just like most of our
other projects, come to think of it.
For information about the NABS Division, please contact Karen Anderson, NABS President, at
NFB-Newsline® on the phone, on demand and on the go
By Jamie K. Forbis
Welcome to NFB-Newsline®, sponsored by the National Federation of the Blind of Nebraska
and the Nebraska Commission for the Blind and Visually Impaired. Sound familiar? These are the
famous words you’ll hear when calling or clicking on NFB-Newsline® in Nebraska. Over the last
decade NFB-Newsline® has grown and expanded and it’s not done yet. Below you’ll read about some
of the newest features of NFB-Newsline®. Come with me as we explore NFB-Newsline® on the phone,
on demand and on the go!
The phone, whether it is cell phone or land line, remains the leading access method for NFB-
Newsline®. This was made apparent when subscribers across the country read three million minutes of
content on NFB-Newsline® last spring. Way to go subscribers! Each month the number of subscribers
using the regional number over the toll-free number increases. Use of the regional number helps cut
down on the cost of NFB-Newsline® and your assistance is greatly appreciated. However, the toll-free
number is still available and will continue to be for those who don’t have cell phones or unlimited long
distance. Just as a reminder the regional number is (773) 299-7122 and the toll-free number is (888)
882-1629. No matter which number you use to access NFB-Newsline® your information is saved and
you will be greeted by name if calling from the phone number listed in the system.
Now on to some updates. After the first of the year two new voices were released. Along with
Eloquence Paul and Kate give you even more choices when it comes to listening to your favorite
publications. Speaking of favorites; Modifications have been made to the way favorites are managed on
NFB-Newsline®. This doesn’t only apply to phone users, but all users. In the past subscribers were
only able to choose up to six favorites from all 350 publications and 16 magazines, which could be
accessed via option number four from the main menu, and those favorites remained constant across all
access methods. Now, you can choose different favorites for each of the different ways Newsline is read!
Further more; with the electronic access methods such as, e-mail, Web News on Demand, and NFB-
NEWSLINE®In Your Pocket, you can have as many favorites as desired. Currently, the limit on
favorites for the phone access method is still limited to six, but the NFB-Newsline® staff is working to
lift that limit. The ability to manage favorites via the web doesn’t just apply to the publications on NFB-
Newsline®, oh no, you can also control the favorites under the TV Listings as well! Now, you may
select an unlimited number of favorites on the Web, with NFB-NEWSLINE® In Your Pocket, via e-
mail and with TV Listings! Naturally, those who access NFB-NEWSLINE®via the telephone can still
manage favorite channels and publications just as before.
With the world going all digital NFB-Newsline® couldn’t be left in the dust. You already know
about accessing NFB-Newsline® on the web at www.nfbnewslineonline.org. And, how to download
your favorite publications to your digital book player such as, the Victor Reader Stream or Book Sense,
but have you heard about Podable News? This new feature was just released at the 2010 NFB National
Convention in Dallas Texas. With Podable News, you now have the ability to create your own paper!
If you like to read Omaha World Harold’s sports coverage, but prefer the Lincoln Journal Star’s
Ground 0 section, and you never miss The Grand Island Independent’s entertainment news or the
Kearney Hub’s local happenings, you'll really appreciate NFB-NEWSLINE®'s innovative functionality
using your MP3 device or any one of the available Audio playback programs like Windows Media
Player or WinAmp. With Podable News, you can have your favorite newspapers, magazines, or
newspaper sections retrieved by the free software download program for use with a computer or
DAISY/MP3 player. One of the most exciting features of Podable News is that you can choose,
cafeteria-style, just the sections you want from a variety of newspapers and/or magazines; you can
"build your own paper" with just the content you most enjoy.
To read your newspapers on your computer or DAISY/MP3 player, you'll need to download the
free software. After logging in at www.nfbnewslineonline.org, simply follow the link to PODABLE
NEWS and initiate the software download.
All these new features and options come with lots of questions and I’m here to help. For
assistance with any of the aspects of NFB-Newsline® please contact me at (402) 471-8102 or at
Newsline@ne.nfb.org. Instructions for all the features are also available in large print, Braille, on
cassette or CD or via e-mail. Contact me with your preferred medium and materials will be sent to you
free of charge.
It’s free! Two powerful words that still apply to NFB-Newsline®. No matter if you access
NFB-Newsline® on the phone, on demand or on the go NFB-Newsline® is a valuable tool you don’t
want to go with out.
For more information about Newsline, please contact Jamie Forbis NFBN Newsline Coordinator,
News from the Big O
By Sandy Alvarado
The Omaha Chapter of the NFBN continues to grow and develop. In January we held our annual
elections. Our 2010 Board of Directors is as follows: President Sandy Alvarado, 1st VP Atty Svendsen,
2nd VP Hank Vetter, Secretary Bridgit Pollpeter, Treasurer Ross Michael Pollpeter, Board Mark
Alexander, Board Bob Burns, Board Debbie Jensen, Board Nanette Kneib.
Due to health reasons, Mark Alexander has had to step down from the Board. A special election
was held during our July Chapter meeting. Carol Jenkins was elected to the Board for the remainder of
A group of us participated in the January hearing for the Braille literacy bill. Our own Braille
Circle group, led by Treasurer Ross Michael Pollpeter, continues to promote Braille literacy through our
In April we were the spotlighted community organization during an Omaha Royals game.
Member John Gardner threw out the first pitch using a beeper ball. Treasurer Ross Michael Pollpeter
gave the on-field interview, and Secretary Bridgit Pollpeter gave the radio interview conducted in the
In May we held our first Wal-mart Meet & Greet of the year. We sold carnations in honor of
Mother's Day and they were very popular. As this newsletter comes out, we will be preparing for our
next Meet & Greet in August.
We also had four Chapter members attend the National Convention in Dallas. We were excited
to learn what happened during Convention.
We now look forward to the rest of the year. Our White Cane banquet will be November 6 at
Anthony's Steak House in Omaha. Tickets will go on sale in September so please contact any Omaha
Chapter Board member if you would like to purchase tickets.
Enjoy the rest of your summer and try to stay cool!
For more information about the Omaha Chapter, please contact Sandy Alvarado, Omaha Chapter
President, at email@example.com..
By Ross Michael Pollpeter
As treasurer for the NFBN Omaha Chapter for almost two years now, I have had to rely on
alternative methods to keep my records straight. Using JAWS (a screen-reading text-to-speech software)
I utilize Microsoft Excel as my main tool for organizing records of our transactions. After being elected
in 2009, the first step I took was to sign up for online banking. In this way, with the assistance of JAWS,
I can track the balance of our account on a daily basis, keep an eye on transactions, and record checks as
they are cleared. The transactions listed online, I copy to my Excel database and then categorize. I have
formulas I created that total each category of expenses or income and separate by month. In this Excel
database, I keep a log up to date on checks written to whom, when, the amount, and when the checks are
finally cleared. I also have a worksheet where I list deposits and the sources of these deposits, separated
into different categories or by events. When it comes to writing checks for the chapter, I simply use a
check-writing guide. My new Apple I-bill now allows me to check cash without straining my vision. I
label receipts, bills, and other documents with Braille note card labels using a two-sided slate. I am
fortunate our bank is a short walk from my work and bank transactions can be done during my lunch
hour. Using my long white cane, I walk on down to the bank, weather permitting. Being treasurer is not
terribly difficult as long as you are organized. I just extend what I do for my personal accounts to what
needs to be done for the chapter.
During chapter events such as Wal-Mart Meet & Greets, handling cash is a simple matter of
keeping the bills organized. At each table at the entrances, we take donations and organize into cash
boxes that separate like bills into appropriate slots. Now with the introduction of iBills, separating the
bills may be a more accurate task, more accurate in the sense that as we separate the bills as they are
handed to us we can verify what is given to us. Other events I will collect cash or checks and make
Braille notes using my two-sided slate, my favorite Braille tool in my arsenal. I write the name, form of
transaction, reason for the transaction, and amount, just for my own records. The Wal-mart meet-and-
greet events the Omaha Chapter does are always successful, but simple.
Hello from the Pan-Handle Chapter
By Karen Lemon
I just returned from National Convention, and I am inspired and refueled to continue the work
for our local, State and National projects. My inspiration doesn’t just come from convention. While four
of our members, including myself, were attending seminars and meetings in Dallas, some of the
members of our chapter were elbows deep into pulled pork sandwiches, potato salad, beans, chips and
Pepsi. This far out in the boonies we have to be creative. The annual Fur Trade Days were happening
in the Panhandle on July 8 through 11th. JL Enterprises of Chadron (owned and operated by my oldest
son, Jerry) donated time, equipment and culinary skills to raise money for our chapter and our Ski For
Light project. Due to distance and some of our members being elderly, we had three helpers from our
chapter who saved the day. Jerry and his family literally camped out next to the smoker setup over the
weekend, and they were very tired by the second day. And then our chapter cavalry came to the rescue.
No problem for our heros. Quin Myers of Whitney has some difficulty standing for long periods of time
so he took it upon himself to be our “crier.” He brought along his tambourine and sat in front of the
concession persuading people to come join us, and of course spend their money. Chad Bell of alliance
was our designated potato salad guy. The segmented plates were arranged so each time the scoop of
potato salad went professionally into the right compartment on the plate. Chad handed off the plates to
his wife, Valerie, who loaded beans and sandwichs to each plate. The dynamic trio was very successful
in serving many hungry people in a very short time. I did not get back to Chadron until the rush was
over on Saturday, but heard so many wonderful comments about the food as well as the service. Many
customers returned I was told. After I arrived there, we had a sceptic argue with us when we reported
our blindness. We convinced him that it was no joke and came away from that conversation knowing
that we had educated one more of the public of what blind people can do.
We will repeat this fund raiser on august 13 at the dedication ceremony for the new National
Cemetery in Alliance, Nebraska. We invite all of our Federation friends to attend this event to show
support for our Veterans. While enjoying the celebration, stop by and have some good food at the
National Federation of the Blind Pan-handle Chapter Fundraiser. All proceeds from our fundraising will
go to our Ski for Light project. Our goal in this project is to provide a charter bus and expenses for all of
you to try some outdoor activities in the beautiful Blac Hills of South Dakota. Deadwood will be the
place to be January 23-30. If you would like to make contributions to our, project please contact any of
the officers from the Nebraska Panhandle Chapter. We encourage all blind and physically disabled
people to attend the Ski for Light event. Please call me for more information or to get your name on the
list to go. We hope to reduce the week-long expenses for each individual down to $50 per person. That
isn’t a promise but we are trying. What we do promise is the lowest cost you will find for travel and a
great week-long experience in one of the most beautiful winter wonderlands on the planet. Good luck to
all of you in your endeavors.
For more information about the Pan-Handle Chatper, please contact Karen Lemon, Pan-Handle
Chapter President, at email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Platte Valley Chapter Hits the Rails
By Christopher Turner
Come aboard as the Platte Valley Chapter takes you on a trip to reestablish a chapter in the North
Platte area. Our train has been busy, traveling up and down the tracks and we’re not done yet. Before
we leave the station lets re-track where we have been.
Our first trip out of the station was to the local Wal-Mart. Members distributed information about
the National Federation of the Blind and the Platte Valley Chapter. Even though the March weather was
cool we got a lot of hot donations.
As we steam on; the chapter had the privilege of hosting the quarterly meeting of the National
Federation of the Blind of Nebraska State Board in April. Members and guests were served the best
homemade Tastes Treats made by Vice President Chris Turner. Who knew he could conduct business
inside the kitchen as well.
Our next trip down the tracks, destination Lincoln, for the Annual Walk for Independence. Platte
Valley members donated their time, money and caboose full of chili for the state-wide event. A big
chug a chug a hoot hoot to our friendly chapter to the west for holding their first Walk for Independence
in conjunction with the one in Lincoln!
The train slowed down a bit in May, but we want to give a big whistle blow THANK YOU to the
Omaha Chapter for donating a portioned of their May fundraiser to the Platte Valley Chapter.
As the train picked up speed two Platte Valley members attended this years annual NFB National
Convention in Dallas Texas. President Jamie K. Forbis attended her 8th national convention and Vice
President Chris Turner attended his first national convention. A big Sir Topham hats off to Chris for
attending his first national convention, and for receiving a Kenneth Jernigan Scholarship to assist in
Convention expenses! With the knowledge gained at the convention this train will be filling up fast with
We have a couple of rail moving events later this summer. Our next destination will be in North
Platte for an August summer picnic. We hope to work with the local Lion’s club to help host the event
and get out the word of the NFB. We’d love all our passengers to join us for a hotdog in the park.
In September we really hit the rails; as we participate in the annual North Platte Rail Fest. Rail
Fest is a three day event for train enthusiast from all around the country. The Platte Valley Chapter will
have a booth in Kody Park to hand out information and sell train lollipops.
Even though this trip is coming to an end, the Platte Valley Chapter still has a long and exciting
trek ahead of them. The Platte Valley Chapter is the little engine that CAN. We are working IT, watch
our locomotive GO.
For more information about the Platte Valley Chapter, please contact Jamie Forbis, Platte Valley
Chapter President, at email@example.com.
Blind Driver Challenge of the NFB Featured at NIWeek 2010
Austin, Texas (August 2, 2010): The Blind Driver Challenge of the National Federation of the
Blind (NFB) is one of the new technological innovations that will be featured at this year’s NIWeek,
held August 3–5. Hosted by National Instruments (NI), NIWeek is the world’s leading graphical system
design conference and exhibition, showcasing the latest developments in graphical system design,
virtual instrumentation, and commercial technologies. Dr. Dennis Hong of Virginia Polytechnic Institute
and State University (Virginia Tech), College of Engineering will deliver a keynote presentation
describing the work of the Virginia Tech/TORC team to create a nonvisual interface that will allow a
blind person to drive an automobile independently.
Dr. Marc Maurer, President of the National Federation of the Blind, said: “Building a nonvisual
interface that will allow a blind person to operate an automobile independently and safely will expand
the educational and employment opportunities of blind people. We believe the technology that must be
developed to make driving possible will offer opportunities for blind people to learn nonvisually in other
areas; and in the process, we will learn more about how blind people perceive, gather, and manipulate
information. We believe that when this technology is fully developed, sighted people will also be able to
operate their vehicles more safely and easily. NIWeek provides us with an opportunity to highlight our
Blind Driver Challenge and to encourage the developers of innovative technology to partner with us and
make a car drivable by the blind a reality.”
Dr. Dennis Hong, director of the Robotics and Mechanisms Laboratory at Virginia Tech, said:
“NIWeek is an excellent opportunity to showcase our work with the Blind Driver Challenge of the
National Federation of the Blind, and to encourage other universities to accept the challenge. As a
professor, I have found that the Blind Driver Challenge is also a very important educational opportunity.
Last year we had twelve very talented undergraduate students working on our first prototype vehicle.
Throughout the project we teach all the fundamental theories of science, mathematics, and engineering,
but this challenge was a fantastic chance for the students to apply all the things they learned to a real-life
project. I often ask my students, ‘How many opportunities in your lifetime do you have a chance to
change the world?’ This is really a project that most people thought was impossible, but we are making
the impossible possible.”
Ray Almgren, vice president of marketing for core platforms at National Instruments, said:
“National Instruments is committed to providing tools that inspire engineers and scientists to improve
the world. Empowering students with the technology and training to solve the grand challenges facing
society is at the core of this commitment. We are thrilled that the Virginia Tech/TORC team is using
National Instruments technology, including NI LabVIEW software and CompactRIO hardware, to create
an interface for a blind-drivable vehicle that will literally change everyday life for the millions of blind
and visually impaired Americans who cannot currently get behind the wheel.”
The National Federation of the Blind Jernigan Institute—the only research and training facility
on blindness operated by the blind—has challenged universities, technology developers, and other
interested innovators to establish NFB Blind Driver Challenge (BDC) teams, in collaboration with the
NFB, to build interface technologies that will empower blind people to drive a car independently. The
purpose of the NFB Blind Driver Challenge is to stimulate the development of nonvisual interface
technology. The Virginia Tech/TORC team, under the direction of Dr. Dennis Hong, Director of the
Robotics and Mechanisms Laboratory at Virginia Tech., is the only team that has accepted the challenge.
The team is currently working with the National Federation of the Blind on the second-generation
prototype vehicle to integrate new and improved versions of the first-generation nonvisual interface
technologies into a Ford Escape.
The NIWeek conference will be held August 3-–5, at the Austin Convention Center in Austin,
Librarian of Congress Says Blind Have Right to Access E-Books
National Federation of the Blind Commends Copyright Ruling
Baltimore, Maryland (July 27, 2010): The National Federation of the Blind, the oldest
nationwide organization of blind Americans and the leading advocate for access to digital information
by the blind, commented today on the renewal of a ruling from the Librarian of Congress that allows the
circumvention of digital rights management (DRM) technology by blind people seeking equal access to
e-books. The ruling states that one of the circumstances in which circumvention of technology that
limits access to copyrighted works is not a violation of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA)
is: “literary works distributed in ebook format when all existing ebook editions of the work (including
digital text editions made available by authorized entities) contain access controls that prevent the
enabling either of the book’s read-aloud function or of screen readers that render the text into a
Dr. Marc Maurer, President of the National Federation of the Blind, said: “The National
Federation of the Blind commends the Librarian of Congress for recognizing the right of blind
Americans to obtain equal access to the information contained in digital books. It is the position of the
National Federation of the Blind that blind people have the right to access content for which they have
paid or which they have otherwise legally obtained, just like all other readers. We are pleased that the
Librarian of Congress sees matters in the same way. The e-book industry, however, has largely failed to
recognize our rights. The Amazon Kindle, Barnes and Noble Nook, Sony Reader, and other e-book
reading devices and applications still remain inaccessible to us, and we have yet to see accessible e-book
readers and content from those who have promised them. At this time, Apple products that can access
the company’s iBooks are the only mainstream e-book devices accessible to blind readers. The National
Federation of the Blind will continue to use every means at our disposal to secure the right of blind
Americans to access the same books at the same time and at the same price as all other consumers. We
will stand for nothing less.”
Turkey 2010, Project III: Teachers Are It
By Robert Leslie Newman n
“Teachers are IT,” was Blind Corps’s third project of training the trainers series in Turkey. It was
all about Turkey’s continuing efforts to improve the quality of life for their blind. Our goal was to share
with Turkey’s professionals within the field of blindness, what we in the USA have found to be the best
training method to teach blindness skills, to introduce blindness related equipment, along with
instruction in a core of the basic blindness skills needed by a blind person in order for them to be the
best they can be. The training philosophy presented was Structured Discovery Method (SDM). In short,
SDM’s first order of business is to set up the student with an introduction to the basic techniques and/or
tools to perform a given task, such as independent travel. Second, it places the student into a learning
environment and allows him or her to work it out as to how to apply the skill to the situation, and make
that skill, that confidence his or her own. And as to the basic skills that we presented, they are elaborated
Our Blind Corps team consisted of 8 instructors and they were: Michael Floyd )President; blind,
a drug and alcohol counselor - former OandM instructor), Fatos Floyd (Vice President, blind, Director of
the Nebraska training Center with the Nebraska commission for the Blind and Visually Impaired -
NCBVI), Nancy Flearl (Secretary, sighted, District Supervisor for NCBVI), Buna Dahal(Board Member,
blind, Training Consultant), John Schmitt (Board Member, sighted, VR counselor for NCBVI), Robert
Leslie Newman (Board Member, blind, VR counselor for NCBVI), Kim Adams (Teaching Consultant),
sighted, and George Binder (OandM Instructor, sighted).
We were invited to come to turkey to provide this training. We all were volunteers. Most of the
costs for this trip came from our sponsors. Blind corps members conducted fund raising for the
equipment and materials we’d need to conduct the training. Our Turkish partners for this trip were, the
Turkish Ministry of Education, the municipality of Istanbul, and Bey Az Ay (the leading non-profit
organization of the blind in Turkey).
Our students were teachers of both youth and adults; staff from government and private schools
for the blind and staff from private rehabilitation services. Our student body totaled 33, with 4 non-
teachers (2 blind consumers, 1 HR person and 1 private school owner); 10 of these were blind
The mission of BLIND CORPS is to share our knowledge and experience of U.S.-developed
blindness rehabilitation techniques and tools with blind people and those serving them, including
families, friends, and professionals in developing nations. To read more about Blind Corps and see
pictures and film clips of our work, go to http://www.blindcorps.org.
Blind Corps’s connection to Turkey comes from our Vice President, Fatos Floyd, an Istanbul
native. It was through Fatos and her husband, Michael’s visits back to family and their demonstrated
competency, that initially developed into requests for talks, small demonstrations and instructional
sessions, and ultimately lead to the creation of Blind Corps. It is important to note, that the Floyd’s
attribute much of “who they are as a blind person” to their long time membership within the National
Federation of the Blind and their many years of professional employment in rehabilitation of the blind.
This third training had students arriving Sunday, May 30th and staying until Friday, June 8th.
The training took place at the Florya Ozurluler Kampi, a 15 acre camp for the disabled, owned by the
municipality of Istanbul. It is located within the city limits of Istanbul; city around its north, east and
west boarders, the shore of the Sea of Marmara at the south. The camp has 50+ cabins accommodating 4
individuals each), with several larger buildings where classes were held, such as a cafeteria, an internet
café, a seminar building.
Our program’s strategy, as with the previous 2 trainings, was to provide our students with a 2
week immersion into the “what is” Structured Discovery Method (SDM) and into the “how to” apply it
in teaching blindness skills. Participants were given an abbreviated version of the type of training
provided to new staff within several USA SDM training centers (examples being Nebraska, Iowa, NFB
centers and others). We had only 2 weeks to provide our students 120 hours of class time; 2 weeks was
the limit they could get leave from work and the 120 hours being the requirement set by the department
of education to receive a certificate of professional training.
On Monday May 31st, our first full day of training, we presented everyone with a new long
white cane, a sleep-shade (maskee in Turkish) for those with any functional vision and discussed our
expectations of how we wished to have students conduct themselves during training. The
expectations/rules were- 1. The sleep-shade will be used during all training and while moving from one
class to another. There would be breaks from the sleep-shade; meal times were exempt, unless it was a
training time and/or if someone wished for additional experience. 2. When on campus, the cane will be
used at all times, even if the person is sighted and not wearing a sleep-shade. 3. Students were not to go
sighted guide with one another. 4. In terms of helping other students; at all times during class or at
dinner or after hours, if a fellow student was experiencing functional difficulties, allow and encourage
that student to work out the situation, and if necessary, provide information and/or instruction. 5. During
seminar or class, have only one person talk at a time.
Our typical day of training was 12 hours. We started at 0800 and finished at 2100; breaks adding
up to about an hour were mixed in. (Note- Turkey operates on a 24 hour clock and so on our USA 12
hour clock, it would be from 8:00 AM extending to 9:00 PM). In further explanation, the 3 hours during
this time relating to meals, staff and students ate together, which promoted further discussion and
acceptance of one another. Then as for the hours that staff put in -- we started out one hour before the
students with a staff meeting, working through their breaks preparing materials, finishing with an end of
day meeting, pushing our average day to 14 hours.
Our strategy for this years training was to quickly get one or two students familiar with the
teaching/learning task at hand, then have them teach the next person, an so on down the line of students;
everyone getting to be a student, then the teacher. The skill classes that we had everyone take part in
Cane Travel Class: “Baston” is the Turkish word for cane. The first two days we had small group
classes, 3 or 5 individuals, and worked on basic 2-point-touch technique and orientation to the camp.
Later classes covered navigating stairs, stowing the cane when seated in a classroom or at dinner, in a
car or on a bus, etc. On the third day, we took all 30+ students as a group out of the camp, down to the
sea shore and onto the boardwalk (a cement road like surface. There we conducted such activities as
running, climbing rocks and a cargo net. Other off-campus trips we took were: A walk along the
boardwalk to a chi (tea) shop at a nearby harbor. a walk to a restaurant along the sea shore (all these
walks were a mile plus in length). A walk into a local neighborhood to work on skills specific to bus
travel, to work on street crossings, handle oneself in a store setting and more. The final activity was a
scavenger hunt, where students were placed on teams and all information was in Braille.
Turkey facts about travel- All most without exception, the blind of Turkey who use a Bastogne,
prefer a folding cane. And in respects to the use of a dog guide, there may be 2 of them in the country of
Turkey; Muslins find dogs to be unclean; cats out number dogs about a million to 1. Environmental
wise- sidewalks in many neighborhoods are very narrow and broken up or non-existent and/or people
park their cars on them and so people walk in the street. And I’ll tell you what, there is a lot of traffic in
Istanbul, drivers speed and do not follow many rules, and the pedestrian does not have the right of way.
Istanbul is a city of 15 million plus and has a variety of types of mass transit systems. And though the
blind do get around, there are many situations when the wise blind traveler would ask for assistance to
cross a street.
One of our students, a 29 year old guy, a teacher in a school for the blind, had never used his
Bastogne to travel on his own. He was super excited to find what a cane did for his independent travel.
Another student, a 20 year old woman (one of our 2 consumers), also had not used a cane out on
her own and was only allowed to attend school to the fifth grade. During one of our seminars, where
each person was asked to share what they had learned during the first week, she said- “I was lied to all
my life. They told me that because I am blind, I could not do anything. Here I have learned I can walk
by myself, learn to read and write, cook, sew and care for a baby and much more.”
Braille Class: Most of our blind students knew Braille and one of the sighted teachers did
(visually). Those who learned Braille with us, learned to read and write the alphabet. Each student was
given a slate and stylus and a Braille “Doodad” (a learning device which is held in your hand and has
dots you push up and down to form patterns).
Turkey facts about Braille- Children who attend one of the 14 government schools do not learn
Braille; Braille is taught in private schools. And the reality is, there isn’t much Braille available within
the country to read. The Turkish Braille reader when learning their alphabet, learns 29 characters to our
26. Most reading is by recorded materials; most libraries of recorded books are in small and scattered
collections by the various non-profit services for the blind. (There is one government center/service for
adults. Services for the blind are mostly handled by local non-profits; all are small, providing more
social, non-skill services and they do not work together with other services.)
Cooking Class: Cooking was a half day long class and was held twice. We chose some of their
traditional dishes that required many basic skills like, peeling, slicing, dicing, mixing, frying, grilling,
The dishes were, potato salad, chocolate cake, cacik (yogurt and cucumber), and kofta
Turkey facts about cooking- Turks do not rely on recipes, nor do they use measuring devices,
other than their hands. Most of our students have cooked; all sighted staff had, 3 of our 7 blind students
hadn’t. And in general, cooking is a woman’s job, yet grilling on a Mongol (a grill) is a man’s. Most of
our blind students had grilled. (Our 29 year old blind teacher hadn’t and when asked how the grilling
went, he said with a huge grin, “I did it and ate it, too.”
Another interesting and charming fact about our students, is that when you got them out walking
or sitting down in a group and working on a task that they were enjoying, they will start singing; one
may start, then others will join in. One day, while holding a seminar, a child joined us, and at one point
he became engaged in the discussion and soon he had the group all singing along with him.
Sewing Class: This class was of a 2 fold purpose. The project chosen was to make a tactile book
to teach basic shapes, like a square, a circle, a triangle, a rectangle, etc. (an inexpensive and useful item
that could be replicated in Turkey.) The pages were pieces of felt and the shapes were cut from various
different types of material. assembly of the book required cutting out the shapes, sewing them on a page,
then placing all pages in a stack and at the left margin, sewing down through all layers and attaching
buttons to seal the binding.
Turkey facts about sewing- To our students, this was the most fascinating skill we had to share.
For they had no knowledge that it was possible for a blind person to thread a needle. Sure, many of them
could sew, but someone else always had to thread the needle.
Self Care Classes; grooming, makeup, health care, labeling: These classes were held once, each.
In men’s grooming, we covered areas of their concern- shaving, tying a tie, and other general self-care
issues. The women dealt with- applying cosmetics, nail care, hair styling, clothing and more.
Additionally, one day we covered health related alternatives- identification of medications, drawing
insulin, talking blood pressure cuff and blood meter, child health care, and more. Labeling items around
the home was another one time class. Ironing was another skill area.
Turkey facts about self-care- Generally speaking, men go and get a weekly shave from a barber;
shining shoes was similarly handled. Women from the younger generation tend to wear makeup and a
shorter hair style. Government employees- men cannot wear a beard and women cannot wear a head
covering (beards and head coverings can be signs of a more conservative religious practice).
Home Maintenance Class: The project was to make a wooden, Braille Doodad- a learning tool to
teach Braille. It required placing a pre-cut block of wood into a template (a guide for placement of the
drill-bit), drilling out the six holes, then inserting 6 pegs.
Writing guides were also shown how to construct and use; a full page letter guide, a signature
guide (the concept could be used for any type of writing guide). We also taught most of the blind
students to write their names, a skill that no one had ever expected them to perform.
Turkey facts about home maintenance- Most of the blind students had no experience in this type
of activity; they would not be expected to use tools (too dangerous). Also, in Turkey, a blind person’s
signature is usually challenged and not accepted; a banker might say to you, “You do not know what
you are signing.” Or, “Someone could forge your name and you would not know it.”
An observation made to us by several students, about the treatment of the blind in Turkey, verses
within the USA, is that the blind are better treated in Turkey. Yet, they would admit, that expectations of
the blind are lower in Turkey, than in the USA.
Seminar Class: Seminar was the only class that was held every day. The Turkish people enjoy
discussion and are very vocal. We started each seminar with asking for volunteers to share what they
have learned or were feeling. This was usually very upbeat. Also for discussion, we used speeches by Dr.
Kenneth Jernigan, THOUGHT PROVOKERS by Robert Leslie Newman and descriptions of the use of
the sleep-shade and Structured Discovery Method.
Turkey facts about seminar- On the first day, we challenged our students to have an open mind.
In relation to understanding and acceptance of Structured Discovery Method, we began with taking a
pole and getting consensus on which learning method worked best for all present – it was getting a
handle on the basics of something, then be given time to work it out on their own. And this of course, is
SDM in a nutshell.
Another special moment came about after each student shared what they had learned during the
first week. All were positive. One guy said, “I came here not knowing what to expect, I knew my subject
as a teacher, but I find that you have taught me how to teach.” Several commented on a new found
awareness of what a blind person can be expected to do.
Then, they asked us to tell them what we felt they had learned. We responded with a question
and another challenge – First we told them that they were the best class we have had. Our question was,
“Are you excited with what you have learned?” They answered “Avet,” Turkish for “yes.” Our
challenge to them was, “Think of this, if at the end of training you are still feeling that you have started
something special within yourself, then look into each others eyes and agree to keep in touch to support
and challenge one another. Think about creating a group of professionals to further this new
understanding, this new teaching philosophy and help others within your profession to know of it and
teach them how to do it.” (One outcome, a student challenged all others to, after working with this new
approach for six months, that each write up a report and share it with other members of the group.)
Additional events while in Istanbul: Each time we have worked in turkey, the word got around
and we got unexpected visitors and requests. The two most interesting in 2010 were: First was a visit
from a representative from the Red Crescent (similar to the USA Red Cross). They were asking for our
assistance to help their organization evaluate their readiness to, for the first time, train disabled people to
perform customer service at their call centers. We listened to their training model and their intent for
intergrading these workers into the existing centers and gave our suggestions.
Second, we had a visit from the Istanbul Traffic Authority; the department who over-see the
streets and public transportation systems. They were about to open up a new one-of-a-kind traffic park; a
training facility for children. We did go and visit this park and WOW, interesting! It was a scaled-down
city; everything was “kid size.” You walked around through various types of streets (including a round-
about) , street crossings (with and without audible signals), a traffic tunnel, an over-pass and buildings
(including a visitors center, a hospital, and others). They even had electric cars for the children to drive
(I drove one, using my cane to follow the curb). The park was to be used to train children on the rules of
being a good and safe pedestrian and the operator of a vehicle on the street. They wished to know how
to best train a blind child in this new setting. We gave a few suggestions, with one of them being, that
they hire one of our former students to have on staff.
Friday, June 11th was the final day of training, the passing out of certificates and the ceremony
of our closing. The Turkish people are very much into recognition of events and accomplishments. In
years past, where we had an official “opening ceremony,” this year we did not, however our closing was
made part of the camp’s official opening. And this was a very large affair! There were hundreds of
people. It started off (and finished( with live Turkish music, followed by speeches from politicians,
public recognition of Blind Corps and the passing out of a token number of the earned certificates. Yet
the real closing for us, staff and students came after the big Turkish Hullabaloo. It was the personal
goodbyes by individual and small groups of our students. There was much hugging and the Turkish
kissing of both cheeks. And the saying to one another, “Teshekkurler,” (Turkish for thank you). “And
until we meet again, Inshallah.” (Turkish for “God willing).”
There is talk that we will go back; turkey is not finished with their efforts to change what it
means to be blind.
Toward Independent Reading
By Barbara Loos
In a speech at the 1993 National Federation of the Blind Convention entitled “The Nature of
Independence”, Dr. Kenneth Jernigan says, by way of definition, “With respect to reading, it means
getting the information you want with a minimum amount of inconvenience and expense.” Personally, I
have wanted to add “and without intervention from others”. I’ve always been a private, easily-
embarrassed person, so there’s a lot that falls into that addendum for me. I have, therefore, followed the
development of machines that allow blind people access to print with keen interest.
In the 1970’s, the Optacon and Stereotoner came on the scene. I went to California in 1974 and
learned the latter, only to have it literally blow apart on its charger one evening during a game of
Scrabble with some students of mine because I accidentally let the battery overcharge. While the
Stereotoner had provided me some access to print, it was slow and labor-intensive, feeling to me more
like solving word puzzles than reading.
Then, at my first National Federation of the blind National Convention in Chicago in 1975, an
inventor and futurist named Ray Kurzweil came and talked about a reading machine that didn’t involve
rolling a camera across a page and reading a letter at a time, but one that would scan a page and read it
in its entirety. He said that, although it would initially be both large and expensive (about the size of a
washing machine and $50,000), he predicted that eventually, working together, we would have a hand-
held reader that would do the same thing and more. Enthralled, I followed the progress of this
partnership over the years.
In 2006, I was elated to serve as a pioneer to test the first release of the Kurzweil-National
Federation of the Blind Hand-Held Reader, now referred to as the K-NFB Reader Classic. Although its
small camera attached to a Personal Data Assistant did allow for holding it in one’s hand, the K-NFB
Reader Mobile, released in 2007, brought to fruition the existence of a truly pocket-sized device for
reading print on the fly.
I know no words to describe the feeling of reading print for the first time in my own home.
Although I had experimented a bit with one of the big readers at a public library, I didn’t feel
comfortable taking personal information there to read. I wish I didn’t put inner constraints like that
upon myself, but I do. So my first private reading of print happened on May 12, 2006. After first
experimenting a bit with the materials that came with the reader, using the Braille version to verify that I
was reading the print copy correctly, I opened a piece of mail from our National Federation of the Blind
of Nebraska office and figured out, with no sighted person present, that the Sowers Club of Lincoln had
invited our organization to participate in its sixth annual golf tournament to be held at Himark Golf
Course, at 8901 Augusta Drive in Lincoln on Friday, August 4, beginning at 12:00 noon. And all I
could do in celebration of this magical moment was cry!
The reader’s impact on my family’s life was immediate. Stray pieces of paper, provided they
weren’t hand-written and, therefore, unrecognizable to the machine, no longer piled up until a sighted
reader came to help sort them. They were deemed “Kurzweilables” and dealt with on the spot. I could
handle most of our personal mail, including bills, which I could read with the reader and then pay
privately, first through an automated phone system and later online. The Classic also had a voice notes
feature which I used in my AmeriCorps position to make a voice directory of fellow members so I could
get to know them by voice at the same time they were learning to recognize one another visually through
a pictorial directory.
While I could recite a litany here of uses for the reader, I’ll stick to an “Aha”, a “Whew!”, a few
“LOL’s”, a bit of bloviating, and a “Wow!”
The “Aha” came when, figuring that most people wouldn’t be likely to expend the amount of
energy it was taking for me to poke a pill out of a bubble, I decided to read the box. I found this under
“How to remove tablets”: “1. Tear blister card 2. Peel backing and at perforation. push tablet through.”
Aha! The backing! I hadn’t noticed that. No wonder it had been such a chore to get that thing
through there. And how simple it was once I had access to the information provided on the package,
even with the need to mentally move “at perforation.” from the middle of number two to the end of
number one for it to make sense completely.
The “Whew” happened at the 2010 National Federation of the Blind Convention in Dallas (the
same city, although in a different hotel, in which Dr. Jernigan made the speech from which I quoted
above) when my husband and I were having breakfast with a friend. We had finished our meal and were
getting ready to leave when, in a moment of klutziness, my husband accidentally knocked both folders
with their checks and accompanying cash on the floor. When we picked them up, everything was
comingled. I quickly identified all currency and checks with the reader and we replaced them in their
proper order before the waiter came to collect the bills. While this was, by no means, a major incident,
it felt good to be able to pick up the pieces and put things to rights without outside assistance. Whew!
Concerning “LOL’s” (things that resulted in my “Laughing Out Loud”), I found more of these in
my early days with the device, due, no doubt, to both the level of development of the reader’s
recognition software and my inexperience using it. Here are some of my favorites:
A release form read, “I, the undersized …” instead of “I, the undersigned …”.
An insurance form said, “… a claim has been fried on your behalf”. Although I’m quite sure the
document actually said “filed”, this one was almost believable.
An advertisement promoted a “30-day money hack guarantee.” Could it be “money back”?
In a church letter, Luke Chapter 2 Verse 7 came out “She gave birth to her firstborn son … and
laid him in a manager …”.
One document offered the option of calling an 800 number “toil free”.
We once received a card appearing to advertise “our entire line of world class food and girls”. It
was really offering “gifts”.
And there are the interesting interpretations of abbreviations, like “Sat.” read as “Saturday”
rather than “Saturated”, resulting in “Saturday Fats”; “Fat CA”, becoming “Fat California” instead of
“Fat Calories”; and “NE” being read as “Northeast”, even when referring to the state of Nebraska.
These eccentricities and minor faux pas notwithstanding, the K-NFB Reader truly has
revolutionized access to print for blind people. Things I consider big, like reading notices about school
events far enough in advance to attend/remind offspring; reading or even rereading prescription and
other medical information; reading handouts, church bulletins, business cards, menus, directions or
rules for machines, games, flower seeds, etc. in real time; reading business mail and, when warranted,
connecting the reader to a computer and e-mailing files to people for review or action; identifying
currency; and accessing bills, making it possible to privately pay them—all are now not only doable, but
also easy enough to do that it is often more convenient than hiring a sighted person to get them done.
But it’s the little everyday things that take so much of both the guesswork and the knowledge
deferred out of blind people’s lives. Examples include our knowing, shortly after bringing it inside, that
a door hanger with a little cloth flag on a stick attached to it we received in late June was from the
telephone company and said, in part, “IN 1776 WE TAUGHT THE BRITISH A LESSON: YOU NEED
TO LISTEN TO THE PEOPLE. YOU TOLD US YOU WANTED DIGITAL TV ADDED TO OUR
LIFETIME PRICE GUARANTEE BUNDLE. WE LISTENED. …”; being able to distinguish lotion
from shampoo in a hotel room without opening the bottles; and finding this notice on a label affixed to
the plastic wrap around the front of a sympathy card: “Remove protective wrap before placing in
envelope. PADDED ENVELOPE recommended for mailing”. While these aren’t life or death matters,
they are just as much worth knowing for blind people as they are for the sighted, and it is truly liberating
to be able to get at them.
One last accolade for the reader and those involved in its creation: It is evolving! In its latest
upgrade, glare reports, color identification, and tilt feedback have been added. That means we, too, get
to evolve. For instance, I got into the habit of using both hands to hold the reader in the Classic days. I
have mostly continued this practice with the Mobile, even though it is both small and lightweight
enough to lift easily with one hand. The tilt feature is allowing me to work on this without
compromising reading quality due to unintended tilting of the reader when I use it one-handed.
Returning for a moment to Dr. Jernigan’s definition of reading independently, how does the K-
NFB Reader Mobile stack up? I hope I’ve made the case for its convenience already. What about
expense? The machine, currently available for around $1500, is becoming affordable for more and more
people. And, contrary to most items on the market, the price continues to go down. Monetary price,
however, is only one measure of either the expense of a thing or the cost of living without it. I consider
the value of this little reader to be priceless and intend to continue doing whatever I can to assure that
any blind person needing access to it will find a way to get one.
And finally the “Wow!” Last year, while listening to audio streaming of a presentation by James
Gashel, Vice President of Business Development, K-NFB Reading Technology, Inc., at the National
Federation of the Blind of Colorado State Convention, I heard him say that when, at a meeting he was
attending, someone asked for a show of hands of those in attendance who could read print, for the first
time in his life, his hand went up.
Wow! I stopped dead in my applesauce-making tracks. The thing that blew my mind most was
that, despite all the printed material I had independently read up to that point, had I been there, I
probably wouldn’t have thought to raise my hand. The reason? Try as I might, I often continue to drag
a “less than” mentality around, even while I’m using an alternative to sight that works. When, friends,
will we ever learn?
I believe that our learning is ongoing. Every time one of us points out that a technique we’re
using is an alternative, not a substitute, meaning that it is allowing us actually to do the thing we are
seeking to do, and we respond with the “Wow” of recognition of that fact and begin to change our
mindset accordingly, we get one step closer to the place of respectability in society we cherish. But
while a “Wow” takes only a split second, mindset shifts, whether individual or societal, take longer.
Fortunately, the National Federation of the Blind and K-NFB Technology are leading the way toward
independent reading for the blind. And I, for one, am enjoying the journey. Now, about that driving a
Alternative Methods and How You Can Use Them
By Mike Jolls
When I think of using alternative methods to make accommodations where necessary, a couple
thoughts come to mind. Perhaps these are some ideas that might help others who haven’t discovered
them, so let me share them and you can see what fits with your situation.
Being the offspring of a sighted mother in a time when “being blind” meant having limited
opportunities, and possibly sitting on a street corner selling pencils from a tin cup, my mom did NOT
want her child to be associated with blindness techniques in any way. She was afraid of what
perceptions others would have if I “looked blind,” so she made sure I learned how to look sighted, so
people would consider me a sighted person. As a result, I was taught print from my earliest memories.
Braille was not an option. Unfortunately, this meant I was taught a method that did not serve me well
since my retinas are 95% destroyed, meaning I’m extremely nearsighted. Put simply, using my vision
for reading meant it would take me a lot longer to read anything, and I was condemned to being a slow
reader by learning print. It’s competitive out there in the world, and you have to be able to get through
what you’re reading in a reasonable amount of time. Since reading print was problematic at best, I was
unable to keep up with the expected reading rate when forced to read print.
To those of you who are reading print and can relate to what I’ve said, I would recommend that
you at least explore Braille if you haven’t tried it. Think about this. In order to improve any skill, you
need to REMOVE the barrier that is slowing you down, or change the method you’re using to perform a
task if your method is inefficient. After all, you’ll only be as efficient as the slowest method you use in
the process. Change or replace that method with something more efficient and unhindered and you
remove the barrier the method imposes! That’s the great thing about Braille. Braille TOTALLY
eliminates my eyesight from the reading equation and replaces it with reading by touch. Now certainly
that means that I have to practice my new skill so that it is as efficient as possible, but at least I have a
new method that offers me hope. I can’t tell you the number of years that I resigned myself to the fact
that my vision imposed slow reading and there was no hope. I missed out on a lifetime of reading
because I knew it would take so long to read anything. It’s a terrible thing when you don’t see any
solution and feel there’s no hope. Now, although I haven’t reached my desired Braille reading speed, I
at least know there’s another way. That is, if I keep practicing. Plus, this skill can serve me both in my
pleasure reading as well as reading material professionally (provided I can obtain the necessary
materials in Braille).
Now, how about some uses for Braille? The following are some ways I use Braille:
1. Reading in the dark!! (And my mother always told me it was bad to read in the dark).
2. Reading for leisure purposes just as quickly if not faster than those reading print.
3. Taking notes at work and reading them back in Braille (it beats even reading things under a
4. Reading emails at home, or work, on my Braille display device.
5. Reading recipes instead of having to put my glasses on and take them off to switch back and
forth between cooking and reading.
6. Reading to my grandchildren (I’m not doing that yet, but when the time comes, I can read to
them and look at them at the same time, rather than having my face literally stuck in the book
and not being able to interact with them).
Is that enough or should I shut up? These are just a few ways in which you can utilize Braille.
Have you ever been working on a computer and trying to read the screen, but the print is too
small, or it takes you too long to read through a lengthy email? If you can answer yes to those questions,
then screen reading software may be a tool you want to investigate.
Basically, a screen reading program (popular ones are JAWS and Window Eyes) are software
that runs on your computer all the time in the background. It’s something you don’t usually directly
interact with, but it’s always running and waiting to help you. The purpose of the software is to detect
whatever data you are looking at, then read that data to you audibly. For example, my screen reader is
reading every word I type as I compose this email. Just that feature alone is great because I can
proofread what I’m writing as I go. I don’t have to see the words, unless of course I need to go back and
review them. Even then, however, I can use a command in the program to read a line at a time back to
me. Once again, this is a timesaver because I don’t have to struggle reading the text. Provided I typed
my words correctly, my program (I use JAWS) will read the words and I can hear what I have composed.
And once you get used to such a program, hearing errors in what you typed is relatively easy. Also,
once you get used to hearing the computer voice read the words back to you, you can adjust the speed so
that it reads faster. I have to say I’m amazed at some people because they have their speed adjustments
set so high that I have a hard time understanding what the computer is saying.
The big advantage of the screen reader is a savings in time and making it possible to read a
computer screen without actually having to see what you’re looking at. And as I stated in my section on
Braille, if your vision slows you down, this is another way that you can remove your need to visually
look at what you typed … once you get used to the non-visual interface that the program makes you
Combining two alternative methods, I also use a Braille Display for my computer and a slate and
stylus are the blind man’s pen and paper. The Slate and Stylus allow me to manually punch Braille
notes on Braille paper. Once I have them punched, I can read the Braille back. There are many uses for
this, but really the advantage is just being able to produce Braille so you can read and write, and refer
back to what you’ve written at a later time. And if you’re having trouble reading notes, recipes, or other
things, you’ll want to be able to produce the Braille notes so that you can take advantage of the ability to
read the information without having to see it. The Slate and Stylus is simply a replacement for the
pencil or pen, and I don’t think any sighted person would want to be in a position where they couldn’t
write something and read it back. If you’re in a position where you can’t read print, you NEED to know
how to use a slate and stylus so you can take advantage of the many uses of Braille.
The Braille Display is an electronic piece of computer hardware that you hook up to your
computer. Its purpose is to work with your screen reader. Instead of just speaking the text audibly over
headphones to you, many of the screen readers can send the text to a Braille Display which (using
electronic pins that can be raised and lowered forming the Braille dots) will represent the text that has
been read in Braille. Unlike working with a slate and stylus to punch Braille permanently on a piece of
Braille paper, the Braille Display can be refreshed electronically over and over to represent the next line
of data, and the next, and the next … forever. And although they’re expensive, they are worth it if you
have to read a lot of data on the computer. Sometimes the screen reader (depending on what you’re
reading) can’t adequately speak the text you’re trying to read … especially if it’s complex technical data.
In those situations, you need something other than hearing the text. You need to feel the letters
character by character just as you could see them character by character if you were a sighted person.
But for the blind person, being able to feel the letters is the equivalent of seeing them, and this is
necessary when working with computers. Thus, a Braille display is indispensable in at least some
Well, there are a few alternative methods I use to allow me to do personal tasks as well as
professional tasks. And in case you’re wondering, I’m a computer software developer … so working
with a screen reader and Braille display is a must. Hope this gives you some ideas of what you can
achieve using alternative methods.
Confidence Versus Arrogance
By Ross Michael Pollpeter
The goal of most training centers, at least those who have successful results with their clients,
teach more than the skills of blindness, such as Braille, computer technology, white cane travel, and
independent living skills. These centers have the goal to encourage and empower their students to have
confidence in themselves and their skills. With this confidence, the clients could return home and
integrate into the sighted society.
After I completed my training, I was no exception. I had confidence oozing from my ears. I was
so confident with my skills and attitude towards my blindness that some considered me to be arrogant.
Perhaps some still do today. Confidence is what caught the attention of a fellow student at the training
center, now my beautiful wife, and had helped me in the interview for my current job at the League of
To be confident is a great thing, to be overconfident is not so great, but to be arrogant is another
thing all entirely. When a blind person becomes arrogant about their skills, they may begin to not pay
attention and use what they had learned in the first place. Let me illustrate this point with an example.
One day a few months after starting at the League, I decided to go to Burger King for lunch. At
the time, they had been promoting a new version of the Whopper that kept calling my name. Burger
King was only about five blocks from my office, which on a nice November day, was to be a nice short
walk. I reached my destination with no difficulty and consumed a delicious meal of fast food goodness.
I checked my watch, saw I had a half hour left, and decided to trek back in time to call the wife while
my lunch hour lasted.
To and from Burger King, I must cross several driveways for other fast food places and other
businesses on Center Street. After crossing the driveway for a dentist office, I came to the exit for the
Arby’s drive-thru. There I paused. Idling in the drive-thru, a car waited for traffic on Center Street to
Now here’s a classic dilemma we all must face when crossing any lanes of traffic. Do I wait for
this car, no matter how long it may take for an opening in traffic, or do I assert myself and claim my
right as a pedestrian? I decided to ignore the voice in the back of my mind that told me to wait.
Assuming traffic was too busy, I proceeded forward in front of the car. You know what they say about a
person who assumes. I also assumed the driver noticed me standing there at the sidewalk. Apparently,
the young lady at the wheel didn’t notice me until her car knocked me over and rolled over my leg.
Luckily, the car was a small coupe, not some eight-passenger, monstrous, mountain climbing
SUV. It still hurt, though. As I laid there halfway on the sidewalk and halfway in the drive-thru, with a
car idling over my leg, I thought I should have waited.
Fortunately or unfortunately, several people witnessed my experience. The manager of Arby’s
and three young customers had witnessed the incident. Those three customers later told the police I had
walked right in front of the car as it was moving and it was my fault. The driver was not given a citation
because of their statement. The dentist from the nearby office came and assisted me to his waiting room.
This same dentist, a couple years later while checking my teeth for cavities, told me how it was not safe
for my wife and I to walk down this sidewalk because two years ago a blind man had been run over in
the drive-thru next door. Apparently, he did not recognize me.
Fortunately, there was no major injury, just some nasty bruising and tenderness. My ankle still
pops on a daily basis. However, the injury to my confidence was definitely felt. You may say that this
could have happened to anyone, but it didn’t. I was arrogant, and I did not use the skills I had learned.
When the car was first idling in the drive-thru, it was in front of me and to the left. I had a clear path to
go, but when I started walking, the car began to move. The driver was turning right and was watching
for traffic to her left; she didn’t see me to her right. My cane entered the drive-thru first and actually hit
her car, but I ignored what it told me. I kept walking and now have an ankle that pops constantly.
The moral of the story is it is important to have confidence in yourself and your skills, but it is
also important to not be overconfident or arrogant in that you forget you are human and can make
mistakes if not careful. I learned to not simply tap my cane left and right but to also interpret the
information each tap brings me, to not assume what some Braille says before my finger reads it, and to
not assume I know the answer before I can use the skills to find the answer.
By Robert Leslie Newman
Can a blind person golf? Yes. Just as there are non-visual alternative methods for performing
tasks relating to independent travel, or reading and writing, and/or for independent living, in education,
employment --- there are common sense methods for recreational activities, too. And for engaging in the
game of golf, is no exception. Surprised --- I bet not. granted, you may not have thought about golfing
blind, but as a Federationest, we soon learn that though we may be to some degree blind, we are always
100% Human and that equals intelligence and adaptive and most importantly, being a member of the
NFB, we learn to have the attitude that when faced with the need to fulfill the responsibilities of life, we
will find a way. In this article I will give you a brief overview of the game and history of golf, how a
blind person fits into the sport and how we play the game.
The Origin Of The Word Golf- The internet shows that the word “golf” may be a Scots alteration
of the Dutch word "kolf-“ meaning: stick, "club" and "bat.” Or, another definition you can find on the
WWW is, that golf was at first restricted to being a game for men, only. And that G O L F stood for
“Gentleman On, Ladies Off.”
The History Of Golf- Like many Human endeavors which were started before written literacy,
the game of gulf is difficult to trace back to its origin. Research shows, that in one authors work, golf
can be traced back as one of a family of similar and possibly related club and ball games that were
played across medieval Europe, and that many of the unique elements of golf evolved in the port towns
around the Firth of Forth in eastern Scotland from the medieval times period onwards. Another
researcher tells us that there is evidence of a golf like game in China 500 years before it was seen in
In terms of when the blind showed up as active players in the game, I found this very interesting
reference- “…In 1932, Robert Ripley's ‘Believe It or Not’” carried an article on Clint Russell of Dulugh,
Minnesota as the world's only blind golfer…” And hey --- bet there were others, then and earlier ---
what do you think? Nevertheless, in the mid twentieth century the blind did join in the sport in numbers.
This is evidenced by the creation of the United States Blind Golfers Association (USBGA) in 1953. This
is also to say, that the blind around the world are in the game, too. There is the International Association
of Blind Golfers (IBGA), of which There are currently nine member countries: Australia, Canada,
England, Germany, Ireland, Japan, Northern Ireland, Scotland and the USA.
Also, competition among blind golfers is just as prevalent as between the sighted. Here is a short
paragraph I copied off the internet page of “Blind Golf Information.” “…Today there are several
sanctioned regional blind golf tournaments. Until 1990 the USBGA National Championship was hosted
at a different site around the country each year. From 1990 through 1997 the National Championship
was played at the Lake Buena Vista Club, Disney World, Florida. The championship is now partnered
with The Lions Clubs International and moves from state to state. The invitational Ken Venturi Guiding
Eyes Classic, the ‘Masters’ of blind golf in Mount Kisco, New York, has been in existence since 1978.
The Stewart Cup Match Play began in 1991 to mirror the Ryder Cup and was played until 1995. It was
played every two years in alternate locations between the United States and England.”
One final technical bit of information about golfing blind, are the criteria used to set up the three
classes or levels of blindness for competition. (These are the same categories as in other branches of
sport played by the blind):
B1- No light perception in either eye, or slight light perception but inability to recognize the
shape of a hand at any distance or in any direction.
B2- From ability to recognize the shape of a hand, up to visual acuity of 2/60, and/or visual field
of less than 5 degrees.
B3- Visual acuity between 2/60 and 6/60, and/or visual field of between 5 degrees and 20
How The Blind Play Golf- Essentially, the difference comes in needing assistance in knowing
where you need to hit the ball (direction and distance), locating the ball after being hit, and being
allowed to have some physical contact with the ball in play, which is not normally allowed to sighted
Visualize the following- When I play, I have a sighted reader, who may be another player or my
caddy; they provide information only. At a tee off, the position where you start to play a new hole, I
request a description of the distance, direction and characteristics of the lay of the land between the
intended green and me. For example, is it straight out, all the way to the hole? Or, is it straight out for
some distance and then with a turn to the right or left? And, are there any obstacles along the way, like
trees or water or sand traps? Additionally, prior to the actual “hitting” of the ball, the reader is also
allowed to give me information relating to how I have the head of my club angled in relation to the ball
and green. After that, it is all up to my level of concentration and skill in moving my body in delivering
As mentioned above, beyond the use of a sighted reader, touching the ball is the only other
relaxation to the standard rules. When lining up a stroke, a blind golfer is allowed to touch the ball with
fingers and “ground” his or her club; touch the head of the club to the ground behind the ball. For
example, when teeing off, I will first position the ball either directly upon the grass or up on a golf-tee.
Next, I arrange the head of my club down on the ground behind the ball, next while keeping the club
head grounded, I stand up, position myself relative to the grounded club and ball, preparing myself for
the stroke. Also, when out on the fairway or in a hazard (sand trap or taller grasses off the mown
fairway), I will locate the ball with a finger (not picking it up nor moving it in any way), place the head
of my club just behind the ball, then position myself for the stroke. Finally, at the hole, up on a green, I
will ask for a sound cue to know where the cup is, so that I can putt in that direction (what usually works
for me, is to have the reader use the metal head of a club to tap the metal side of the cup).
Blindness and Golf Trivia- The game of golf is not immune to having its blindness related
terminology. Here are a few and they relate to golf tournament formats: Blind Bogey, 3 Blind Mice,
Blind Nine. (Blind Bogey: A tournament format. In the most common version, requires golfers to play
18 holes of stroke play. Following completion of play, the tournament director randomly selects a score
- say, 87 - and the golfer(s) whose actual score is closest to the randomly selected score is the winner.)
How Well Can The Blind Play Golf- Just as with a sighted golfer, there are some blind golfers
who are very good, and some who are not. If we want to look at a comparison, here are the scores of the
first place winners in the 2009 National Championship of Blind Golfers which took place at
Brackenridge Golf Course in San Antonio, Texas:
B1- 1st place – Bob Andrews 103, 104, gross 207; B2- 1st place – Bruce Hooper 79, 85, gross
164; B3- 1st place – Bill Pease 88, 85, gross 173.
That same year, here is the score of the winner of the PGA’s 2009 Masters- Angel Cabrera 68,
68, 69, 71, gross 276.
In closing and again zeroing in on the theme of this issue of the “Nebraska Independent,” the
reality is, that in this game of life, there are alternative techniques that can be applied to all aspects of
life and blindness need not be a major limiting factor. This is not to say, that the characteristic of
blindness will not in some part bar you from fully participating in all aspects of life, just as some other
characteristics such as age or size or strength or whatever will, but you’ve got to get smart to blindness
and how it truly relates to “you” as an individual so that blindness will not limit you when it need not do
so. You’ve got to know your options, the adaptive alternatives. And even at that, there are options to
learn these alternatives. My favorite source of learning a new blindness skill is reading publications like
this one and by being shown them by other blind people, like those you will meet when becoming a
It’s All About the After-Party
By Amy Mason
Skills training are often essential for helping blind people live happy, productive lives. Many of
the young blind people I meet don’t immediately realize the truth of this statement. Often I hear things
like, “Oh, I had an O-& -M instructor, and I know Braille, so I don’t need training,” or, “I see well
enough to get by; it’s not a big deal.” I’m here to tell you that it is a big deal, but maybe not for the
reasons you think.
I grew up as a blind child, but didn’t know I was blind until about age 14 or 15, and really
refused to face this fact until I was 17. I was handed an ultimatum by my counselor at what is now the
Commission for the Blind and Visually Impaired. They told me that Either I could use a cane, or I could
leave the summer program I was attending. Did I stay? Are you kidding? Of course I did. I was 17 and
getting to spend the entire summer with my friends, away from home, with “cool people,” and it was
even worth the onerous task of carrying around that “stupid stick.”
I was an awkward teen. I didn’t really have the social skills or self-confidence that I needed, and
although I hadn’t managed to ever seriously injure myself, it had been a near miss on several occasions
prior to the acceptance of my blindness and my cane. I learned at WAGES that it was respectable to be
blind, and quite honestly most of my role models and counselors were able to have much more fun than
I was, because they had the confidence and skills to get things done. I learned a little about skills and a
lot about possibilities that summer. I learned almost all of it from watching, admiring, and spending time
with blind people who knew more than me, and were successful.
What does this have to do with skills training at a center? It’s the same process, or at least it was
for me. I learned during the day from the “official activities,” the teachers, and the discussions, but my
most profound lessons seemed to come up “after hours.”
Five years after my time at WAGES, I finally settled down to the fact that I needed to “put in my
time” at a center, for the full duration of training. I tried the shortcut of just a summer before I entered
school, and it gave me a taste of what I needed to learn, but that taste was only enough to show me how
much further I needed to go. So I talked to my counselor, and after some persuasion, I was all prepared
to go to the Colorado Center for the Blind (CCB).
First, I need to tell you, CCB is fantastic. The instructors there are predominantly blind people,
so they live what they teach, and they care about the students. That said, If it weren’t for the other
students, I wouldn’t have learned nearly as much from the teachers. As an example, let’s look at home
management and cooking. In class, you learn to boil, broil, chop and fry. Unfortunately, if cooking or
even cleanup sounds like a hassle to you, it’s hard to bother to practice when you can pop a Stouffer’s in
the microwave for yourself for a couple of bucks. It’s an entirely different issue though, when guests
come to town, or when your roommate invites over that cute guy that just started training a few days ago.
Suddenly, you care! At least I did. My skills were gained at the Center under the watchful eye of my
teacher, but they were cemented 15 minutes before a dinner party, doubled in size, and I had to figure
out how to feed all the guests.
Braille was the same for me. My favorite way to practice, or teach the slate and stylus to this day,
is to sit passing notes with friends. You ask the questions that might not otherwise come up, and you
want to be sure that your message is getting across, so you are careful to be accurate, but you want the
answer NOW, so you also work on speed. It’s really a rather neat arrangement, and you still get in good
The best example of the symbiosis between class and “life” came to me in the form of travel. My
travel instructor once told me that “first you learn to travel safely, then you learn to do it efficiently,
finally you do it with style.” The longer I spent at the Center, the more I had to believe he was right. My
first week at the Center, I sprawled flat while chasing some of the other students on our way to dinner. I
roughed my knee, and ruined our plans. It taught me that I needed to improve my skills to keep up, so I
worked on traveling safely. About four months later, I was asked to work a day at the bingo parlor that
the Center worked with for fundraising purposes. As I, and the others planning to work that day, sat on
the light rail, waiting for our connection, we had a little accident. (As I remember, the person in the van
was ok, but it was going to ensure that we would miss our connection if we waited for the train to clear
the tracks.) So we made a decision. We were only about 10 blocks away from the place we would catch
our connection, and we had half an hour, so we hoofed it. If we all hadn’t learned to travel efficiently,
we wouldn’t have made our connection, much less, had time to pick up breakfast on the way. I don’t
think I would have tried that stunt without the others though.
The night I traveled with style was actually after I graduated. I was still in Denver for the
summer, and I had a date planned with a student at the Center. I charged him with bringing dinner, and
we met for a magical evening. He brought a picnic dinner of McDonald’s, and we sat in the grass near
the light rail. We then got onto a bus (I’d planned this part of the trip in advance) and rode out to
Lakeside Amusement Park. We’d never been there before, but it didn’t stop us from holding hands as
we planned the rest of the night. We got directions from the driver as we got off the bus, and rode roller
coasters, the Ferris Wheel, and the Carousel all night long. We shared a funnel cake as we talked. It was
a night to remember. What made this traveling with style? It was the fact that we didn’t think about
traveling at all.
So, at the end of the day, did I learn at the center? Absolutely. Would I recommend it? Of course!
And what’s my reasoning? Well, it’s not just the skills that you learn. They are important, and give you
the confidence to succeed, but for me it’s the memories too. It’s knowing that at the end of the day, I
can meet my obligations, and I can do what needs to get done, so I can meet my friends and have a bit of
fun! See you at the after party!
Between Two Worlds
By Chris Turner
Editor’s Note: Chris Turner is First Vice President for the newly-formed Platte Valley Chapter. The
Nebraska Independent is highlighting Chris as he is a new Federationist willing and eager to make a
The old proverb says, "You can’t serve two masters." On the surface, that makes sense and many
would say, that won’t happen to me. I was one of those people but before I knew it not only did I have
two masters’ but my life was like living in two worlds. My master didn’t have to shackle me; I did that
on my own with my denial, apathy, stubbornness, etc.
Lets explore those worlds, in the world of the sighted, I was seen as the klutz, the kid that didn’t
read all that fast, fun to take out into the woods, leave and laugh as I ran into things. As time passed, I
became aware of my eye disease Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP). Fine, it has a name, but I can see. Why yes,
you just have “low vision.” Using that cane, made me feel hypocritical, self conscious an outsider
caught between two worlds.
On the flip side my other world, were my blind friends, but I couldn’t be one of them, I still have
vision. I have no need to learn Braille, cane travel and other skills. My only problem is at night and dim
lighted rooms. Even using my cane, with my blind friends, I felt hypocritical, yes even self conscious.
Sure they need those skills but not me.
An outsider to both worlds, self shackled by my own denial, by the way that isn’t a river in
Egypt. I would love to say that a great light beamed down and woke me up to my perverse reality I had
enslaved myself to. As slowly as I put on my shackles, it took many a bruised shins, face plants, and
some nice trips and falls before my predicament became apparent.
Due to my recent involvement with the National Federation of the Blind of Nebraska, A new
awakening has begun, slow but sure. It started with my attendance at the NFBN state convention last
October in Scottsbluff where I observed good blindness skills in action. However, I still hadn’t bought
into the need of those skills for myself Even though I had become an active member in the Platte Valley
Chapter, where I hold the position of vice president, I still wasn’t convinced that I needed to use
Moving forward in time, I was presented with the opportunity to attend the NFB National
Convention in Dallas Texas. A requirement for me to attend the convention was orientation and mobility
training. Fine, but why do I need that, well in a short amount of time it became apparent. After a trip to
my local Wal-Mart, and a literal run in with an older lady in a wheel chair, okay, maybe it is time to use
that cane regularly. Even with that large dose of reality I was still reluctant to use my cane. Reality and
denial continue within me due to my now again cane use which left me feeling awkward and still
shackled to my master.
With convention a few weeks away, I began to slowly swallow my pride by using my cane more
often. These tiny steps reaped more rewards then I could ever imagine. I noticed an increase in my
walking pace coupled with a new found feeling of security and lack of unsteadiness while walking.
While the convention hadn’t even begun one of my shackles was loosening.
I could never have imagined all that occurred during convention; it far out weighed any of my
expectations. Even now as I begin reflecting on my first convention, I struggle to put in all in
perspective. I now have a new found sense of freedom, a desire to reach for new and unseen horizons.
As I mention earlier, there was no big flash of light and/or a booming voice of euphony that happen. It
was, and still is, a lot of little moments. That only with time and reflection have I noticed my
A water shed moment for me occurred during the convention via Facebook. In a nutshell my
parents helped with my unshackling without even knowing. My mother posted not only where I was, but
why I was there and what I was up too. It really opened up dialogue about my vision issues on her Face
book page. In another post my mom wrote: “Your Father and I are very proud of you for making this
trip and being proactive with your vision problems. What you are learning there will be a very valuable
resource for others here.” The expression of love from my parents coupled with the theme of convention
my eyes were opened to my lack of vision. Not my lack of vision due to RP, but to my own
misconceptions of blindness.
Why can’t we drive a car? Why can’t we be doctors, rocket scientist, etc? The possibilities are
endless. For myself, I have set goals to continue releasing the shackles. Continuous use of my cane,
searching for technology to help me reach new and higher goals, completing my college degree and the
biggest goal of all is learning Braille. At the next national convention in Orlando Florida, you will find
me on the beach with a very large, cool adult beverage as I read my agenda in Braille. It is hard to fight
passionately for Braille literacy if you’re illiterate yourself.
My overall impression of attending a national convention is twofold. You can attend and have a
good time and just be a passerby or you can take the bull by the horns, and unshackle yourself from
what enslaves you. No not everyone serves the same master or more than one, however we can put
ourselves in a box very easily. My time spent at the national convention was more than seeing the need
for the use of my cane; it was realizing that only, I, I and I can define who I am. I’m blind, not low
vision, partially sighted, visually impaired or any other politically correct term. With that realization,
blindness isn’t who I am; it is learning to do things in a new and different manor. As Dr Maurer and
other speakers said in various ways, we are only limited by what we limit ourselves too.
In closing, I challenge anyone reading this to find what may enslave you. Then to leave that river
of denial and find ways to shake off those shackles. We are in this fight together and we can’t let anyone
define who we are or what we can become. As a side note; I’ve begun using my cane daily even at work.
The use of my cane has opened new doors of discussion about blindness. For example, my coworkers
now approach me and ask questions. So I guess in the end, I was only an outsider because of my pride,
not because of my blindness..
Educating the Education System, Part 1
By Bridgit Kuenning-Pollpeter
Editor’s note: This was originally written for an English class three years ago. Some of the information
may be a bit dated, but the sentiments and arguments are current. The paper will be split in two parts
with the second half appearing in the next Nebraska Independent issue. The bibliography will not be
published though the in-text citations will remain. Should you wish to view the bibliography, please
email the editor.
In today’s society we tell our children that they can be anything they want all they have to do is
work hard and dream. We speak about overcoming obstacles to achieve whatever goals we may have.
Parents and educators set standards and have expectations that are to be met and there is a constant cycle
of evaluations and critiques to ensure that these levels of expectations are indeed being met. Yet there
seems to be a split in what society finds as acceptable when educating blind and visually impaired
children. Noel is a twelve year old boy who loves to read and play and attends public school and he
happens to be blind (Newberry). Noel and his family have had to struggle with persuading teachers and
school officials that Noel does not need special care or that he has any limitations as a student. Noel has
the ability and the skills to cope along with his sighted peers, as is the case for many blind and visually
impaired students. Yet, regardless of a blind student's aptitude or motivation level, parents and
educators alike tend to allow sub-standard levels of work and do not believe that the blind can function
efficiently in a regular classroom. Too often the cause for this is due to the lack of resources and
training in such blind skills as Braille and long white cane travel. This leads many to believe the only
option for blind and visually impaired students is to place them in full time special education classes.
There is a fine line with this issue, because, while blind students do need some specialized training, this
does not mean that they are incapable of learning in a regular classroom environment. The extreme
view is known as inclusion which places blind children into regular classrooms without providing any
type of itinerant teaching. A law passed in 1975 known as the Students with Disabilities Right to
Education Act mandated that all students with disabilities were to receive the same education as non-
disabled students unless an expert such as a doctor, teacher or social worker believed that special
education was a better route. This would have been great for blind students, except no provision was
made for itinerant training which would allow for these students to learn the blind skills essential for
coping not only in school but in society as well. This is a constant debate that does not appear to have
an end in sight. There are many sides and interpretations on mainstreaming blind students into public
schools. The argument boils down to the fact that just because blind children are differently abled does
not mean they are less capable of learning in the same educational environments as children who are not
blind because they have the ability to accomplish the same goals; however, they need the proper training
and tools to succeed.
By far, one of the biggest problems that need to be addressed is the concern that educators have
about the plausibility of blind students working and learning at the same pace as non-blind students. An
article by Carrie Melago points out the concern that both parents and educators have about taking blind
students out of special education. One teacher states that, “Children will not be able to learn or compete
at an efficient level” (Melago). While it is understandable that if one has never been blind, one would
not realize what is possible to ascertain, however this is not a reason for excluding those who do deal
with blindness and therefore know what to do to achieve success. Sippi Doubi is an itinerant instructor
for the blind in public schools in Jerusalem. Doubi herself is blind. Doubi not only teaches skills but
has first hand experience with using those skills to function in society. She attended college as well as
going on to receive a graduate degree in education, (Melago). This is a prime example showing just
what a blind individual is capable of. It is an uphill climb to win the battle, but as the old adage goes,
nothing worth fighting for was ever easy. “Children who are not assimilated early on will not be able to
do so later in life,” says Doubi. It should not be a matter of disabilities that keep students from having
the same educational opportunities. All children learn at different paces and with different methods
regardless of vision or any other sense. To say that a blind student will not be able to follow along and
learn is an argument that begins to fall apart when we look at other students who may have learning
disabilities or simply do not understand the material.
Ahmed Salem is a blind high school student who attends all his classes in the regular classroom
environment, (Hoagland) . He takes math and science classes along with other typical high school
subjects. Ahmed receives straight A’s and turns his assignments in on time. His goal is to become a
nuclear physicist which according to Peggy Chong, a spokeswoman for the National Federation of the
Blind (NFB), is a very attainable goal, (Hoagland). Educators tend to forget to look at a child's
intelligence level instead focusing on what they perceive as problems. When society begins to realize
that blindness is just a characteristic that may cause some inconvenience and is not a learning disability
then we can understand the need and the plausibility of mainstreaming.
Mainstreaming sounds good in theory but there are key elements that need to be in place before a
student could even begin to think about assimilating into the regular classroom. The two most important
skills that any blind person must know and be efficient with are Braille and white cane travel. Asking a
blind individual to not learn Braille is the same as asking a sighted individual to not learn how to read
and write print. Without cane travel, the blind are not able to be independent about mobility and would
need to rely solely on what is known as a sighted guide. Using a sighted guide is good for certain
situations, such as a loud and crowded event where audio cues are difficult to hear or even non-existent,
but there will not always be a person able to assist with travel and the white cane allows one to move
about at their will. It is also important that blind individuals know they can navigate any space once
properly trained with a white cane. Clearly these skills are important and would be necessary for a
student to know in order to function in a regular classroom at a competitive level.
Here opponents of mainstreaming do raise a viable argument, because many blind children are
not learning these skills and public schools are not equipped for teaching them. Steven Rothstein makes
the point in his article: Opportunities for the Blind” that “many schools do not have the resources to
teach the blind and many do not feel that it is necessary to include blindness training into the
curriculum.” This is unfortunate because essentially the education system is holding back blind students
from the classroom when they have just as much potential as any other student. Dr. Fred Schroeder, a
former State President and currently the first vice-president for the NFB, believes that if public schools
would allow more itinerant teachers there would be a brighter future for mainstreaming, (Schroeder).
Itinerant or traveling instructors would help to teach these skills to children who do not learn them
before entering school. The best scenario, however, would be for children to receive this training prior
to attending school. Again, this is the same as children learning to read and write print before attending
school. This is a problem because it creates the need for special education with blind students and could
impede the mainstreaming process as Schroeder believes. On the other hand by placing these students
in regular classrooms with no specialized training would be equally detrimental to the process,
(Schroeder). This is a very real concern that will take educators along with parents and those within the
blind community working together to identify the needs and find resolutions. With the involvement of
all parties a student can have the best education plan set for them. For visually impaired students this
action of networking will help them to find the balance between receiving the proper skills as well as the
proper school placement. This way a blind student can have that success in the regular classroom.
How is a Blind Person Suppose to Act?
By Mark Alexander
My name is Alex, and I have been blind for just over a year now, and there are things that I wish
to ask. How is a blind person suppose to act? I have found that trying to do the right things and learn
how to slow down and take my time has been the hardest for me to learn. I have spent my time
wondering why this happened to me then I got over my pity-party and took steps to learn what I need so
I can continue to function just like my family and friends. I have discovered that my loved ones have
had a more difficult time coping with my blindness than I however. With the help of the Nebraska
Commission for the Blind and Visually Impaired and the National Federation of the Blind, I have
learned that I can still do the same things I have always done and enjoyed. There has been a learning
curve at times, and I do not always pick up the lessons quickly, but I know nothing but myself can stop
me from being active and vital in society. Yet my family and friends do not always understand what I
know; the blind can do whatever they put their mind to.
Patients was the hardest virtue to learn in the beginning. There was a lot of trial and error at first
especially as I figured what method worked best for me. I admit I had my moments of frustration and
confusion, and at times I had to stop, walk away then come at something with a fresh perspective. I
never gave up though. I wasn’t ready to admit defeat, and I knew I could still be independent. The
biggest trial has been dealing with what others think though. The more I try to be “normal” the more
people look at me and wonder why I even try. I was always taught to stand up for myself and over-
come what ever obstacle life throws in my path, but apparently they weren’t talking about blindness
when I was taught this lesson. So many people in my life think I am crazy to expect independence as a
blind person so I ask, how is a blind person suppose to act? I am beginning to believe that I can only do
what I know to be right for my life. When it comes down to it, no one else matters in discerning what
and how I should do things as a blind person. The lesson of letting go is a hard one though.
I have been taught to read Braille,cook and travel with a long white cane. I clean the house and
manage to maintain my daily hygene. I work in my shop and cut lumber with a click ruler. I even plow
snow in the drive using a rope with little bells to know where I have shoveled and where I still need to
work. Damn if this technique hasn’t worked out nicely. I use the computer by listening to this voice we
know as JAWS. Am I one to sit on my duff and wait for some one to help, not this guy. If I need
something done, I would rather figure it out on my own then do nothing at all. Yes, I have made
mistakes along the way. We all do that, but often we can learn from our mistakes. Yet the question is
still, how is a blind person suppose to act? When I need help I will ask, but I am finding that most the
time I can do things without any help. I like to be challenged, and I think I learn better when I have to
do it on my own.
My family and friends still have trouble accepting the fact that I can be independent. A good
friend of mine who use to come to me with all his problems, no longer does so because he does not
know how to act around me now. He feels my problem is bigger than any of his. It doesn’t matter how
much I tell him and others that I am not bothered by my blindness, they just keep believing what they
want. My other friends do not invite me over anymore either. They all say they do not know how to act
around me now that I am blind. You would think I have the plague or something. I try to put them at
ease, but for some reason no one will look past their own ideas. When I do run into people I know they
often speak very loud and slow as though I can not understand them, but it is they who do not
understand. I find that I have become a teacher while I am still a student. I try to teach what I can as I
learn as much as I can. I don’t feel that different and I want to be treated the way I was always treated,
but I still wonder, how are the blind suppose to act? I am still Alex who has a sense of humor. I get
happy and mad just like I use to . I want to be the same guy I always was. I want my loved ones to
understand what I understand. I want them to be in my life, and I want them to realize I can be
independent. Most of all I want to be the normal guy. No more awkward silences, no more lonely
nights because people think we no longer have common interest. I will even answer stupid questions
just as long as people still talk to me. I take a lot of walks on a trail near my house. I stop to pet dogs
and their owners start up conversations with me. I find that total strangers do not care that I am blind.
Out there I am the confident, capable blind guy. Out there I am still Alex.
I struggle to find meaning not because I am blind, but because I am no longer considered the
same person to my loved ones. I still want to be a part of life, but I always have to climb the damn
mountain that others put in my path. Where I see a road with a couple bumps, others see a road full of
holes and steep, rocky mountains. So I ask you, how is a blind person suppose to act?.
By Bridgit Kuenning-Pollpeter
Megan and Rick stood facing each other. This moment had been a long time coming, building
into a crescendo that neither could stop. Both were not sure when the change occurred or who was to
blame, but both knew Rick’s failing eyesight would lead them to this point eventually. The fact was,
though, they were at an impasse, no longer willing to hide the truth or even gloss it over with pretended
hopes and reluctant smiles.
“So you’re leaving? Just gone, like that,” Rick said. He stood gripping the second-hand kitchen
chair bought three years ago at a thrift store in Kentucky.
Rick had never been enthusiastic about spending hours in what seemed to him junk stores.
Megan had a passion for what she called antiquing and Rick eventually loved to go on these excursions
just to watch her grow excited over a plastic doll reminiscent of a 1960’s airline stewardess.
Megan faced the window that over looked the mock prairie Rick and she had worked on over the
last ten years. Megan and Rick were both ecologist and enjoyed spending their spare time working on
the land they purchased together after Rick asked her to move in. They had met twelve years earlier
when Rick, head of his department, had hired Megan at the state park they worked for. They had both
felt an instant connection over the animals each tenderly cared for.
“So our relationship is a game?” Rick narrowed his eyes, trying to make out her expression.
“Don’t put words in my mouth.”
“What is it? Is there someone else? Am I not enough?”
“We’ve grown apart. Don’t you feel it? I love you, but I think this is going nowhere.”
“Is it because I don’t see well?”
Rick’s growing uneasiness with his diminishing vision was becoming a constant point of
contention between him and Megan. He second guessed everything, as though her only reason for
staying with him was pity.
“Rick.” She rubbed her forehead.
“Tell me, I want to know. You’re leaving because I am losing my vision.”
Even though Rick could not make out her expression with his failing sight, Megan looked away.
She didn’t want to say the words. She knew when she met Rick that his Retinitis Pigmentosa would
eventually leave him totally blind. She accepted this fact a long time ago, but Rick hadn’t. Megan
watched year after year as he struggled more and more to adjust and function. He refused to seek help
of any kind. Last year Megan suggested after his thirty-sixth birthday he take time to receive training
just to learn a few skills, but that conversation quickly ended. She tried to support him and live in the
oblivion as well, but she couldn’t do it anymore.
“Tell me the truth.”
“Please, let it just be over with.”
“You think I want to be this way? I didn’t ask for this and I can’t help it. You’re like everyone
else. You pity me, but you don’t want to help me.”
“It’s not like that,” Megan screamed, “It’s not your blindness or vision impairment or whatever
you call it. Do you really want to hear me say it? You're such a masochist, Rick. It is you who won’t
“What?” Rick stepped back as though Megan had hit him. He rubbed his forearm as he hung his
“You act like your life is over so why do I want to be apart of that? You expect me to
understand this, but you don’t try to understand it.”
“So you’re tired of dealing with my sight problem.”
“No, I’m tired of dealing with you, Rick.”
Megan grew hot as the words gushed from her. . This could not be turned back from and her
mingled sense of fear and joy made her aware of the possibilities. She could breathe for once, no longer
watching Rick live in denial. She could move on with her life, and not worry about if Rick was okay.
Rick was breathing deeply, not just from anger, but fear. He was trying to concentrate on the
argument at hand but thoughts kept coming to the surface like bubbles under water. How would he get
around? Who would help him? A panic rose up making his voice shrill.
“Then leave, just leave!” A garbled sound came from his throat and he blinked his eyes in a
“Promise me one thing. Move on from this. Do what needs to be done. This isn’t the end,
Rick.” Megan moved to put her hand on his arm, but Rick yanked his arm away.
“Your leaving won’t be the end of me.” Rick folded his arms across his bulk, and jutted his chin
like a child.
“I didn’t mean me leaving was the end, Rick.”
Megan left him standing there. If she turned to look at him her resolve might break. The home
they shared for so long whipped by in a blur as Megan rushed out. As she opened the car door tears
streamed down her cheeks.
Rick sat on the couch as the panic gushed to the surface; it paralyzed him. He wanted to run
after Megan, but once he left the front door what would he do? What if he approached the wrong person?
Could he even make it down the sidewalk without tripping on something? Instead he sat there, silent
and unmoving, alone in his imagined darkness.
Megan started from sleep as the phone rang. The digital alarm clock read seven o’clock in the
morning. She rolled out of bed, stepped into her Yogi Bear slippers and shuffled to the living room.
“Hello,” Megan mumbled.
“Megan? It’s Carly. Rick’s sister.”
Megan had had no contact with Rick or his family since the break-up. She had even asked for a
transfer to another department at the national park, Land Between the Lakes, she and Rick worked for.
“Oh, hey, what is it?” Megan bit her lower lip.
“Hon, it’s Rick. He broke his leg and it’s pretty bad.”
Megan sat up and brushed the dark curls out of her face. “Is he okay? What happened?”
“He was in the yard cleaning stuff up, and he stepped into a hole. It broke from the knee-cap
“He has to have surgery. My parents are on their way down, but I thought you would want to
know,” Carly said.
“Megan, I’m real sorry about what happened. He needs you there though. He needs someone to
look out for him.”
Megan stared at the brochures for the Louisiana Center for the Blind program. She had broke-up
with Rick almost a year ago, but she had not let go. Megan had spent the last few months researching
training centers where Rick could learn the skills and independence necessary for him to move along in
life. The Louisiana Center seemed progressive, but positive. She knew Rick had the potential, but he
needed a nudge. Megan’s love for Rick was still present. She had shared a life with Rick and despite
his current state of mind about his blindness, she couldn’t completely walk away. This is why she
decided to stay at Land Between the Lakes. Deep down she hoped Rick would find the courage to face
“You know Carly, as long as we all ignore the problem it will only get worse.”
There was a long silence in which Megan wished she had not said anything. It was enough to
have left Rick, but it was not like her to cause tension.
“It is not so easy. We can’t just dump him,” Carly said.
Megan sighed. “He won’t ever learn if we treat him like a baby.”
“Look, I just thought you would want to know. I know Rick would want you with him.”
“Thanks. I do appreciate it.”
Megan’s vision smeared into swirling colors as tears filled her eyes. She couldn’t help wonder if
this was what Rick’s vision was like.
Rick had always been open and honest with Megan, but in the months leading to the break-up he
had grown sullen. He refused to talk to Megan about anything deep, and of course the topic of blindness
was off the table. The day Rick asked her to move in had been one of the happiest days of her life. The
memory was fond, but only made Megan ache more.
The nature station where Megan and Rick worked had a large commons room used for
presentations, and once a year a banquet was held encouraging government officials to budget funds for
Land Between the Lakes. The room had a massive French door leading out into the park’s garden. Rick
had taken Megan to the park one night. Megan was unsure of what to expect, and was surprised when
Rick opened the French doors to a candle-lit-table for two. It was a June evening and the garden was in
full bloom. The scent of wild flowers wafted through the warm air.
Rick took Megan by the hand and led her to the table. “Do you like it?”
“Oh Rick, this is beautiful.”
The small table was laid with Megan’s favorite foods. Roast lamb with mint, garlic roasted Red
potatoes, cucumber-tomato salad and strawberries and cream. The only other light besides the candles
on the table came from the lit walk-ways in the garden.
Later they had strolled through the grounds, talking hand-in-hand, partly because in the dark
Rick could see nothing and needed a guide. Rick asked her to move in as they stood at the edge of the
lake. Megan was always hesitant about moving in. She had always taken their relationship slow, but
she could not deny the love she felt, and the natural progression was to move in with Rick.
Sharing that much of her life was a new experience for Megan, but one she had grown to enjoy.
Then Rick began losing more vision. It was small things at first. Not noticing objects right in front of
him. He had to rely more on large print when reading. It progressed though. Megan knew how difficult
it was for him, but Rick was becoming closed off. Finally, Megan could no longer take the self-pity.
Megan had to be honest too; she enjoyed the freedom of not constantly thinking what she had to do for
Rick. She hated herself for thinking this way, but it was relief to only have to do things for herself.
Megan stood and wiped her eyes. She wasn’t sure if she could be strong for Rick anymore. That
was why she left. Her heart reached out for him though. She wanted to be by his side. The situation
was confusing and Megan stomped off towards the shower as she chewed around what to do in her mind.
She resisted the urge to call Rick. She was worried, but she wasn’t sure if he really wanted to hear from
her. As much as she still cared, being with Rick was a headache, and Megan knew a lot had to change
before either one could move forward together.
Megan sighed as the warm water hit her face. She closed her eyes and tried to lose herself in
thoughts other than Rick.
Rick’s mother, Emily, adjusted the pillows and blanket. She buzzed around the room, refusing
to sit down. Greg, his father, sat in a blue vinyl recliner in the corner reading a newspaper.
“Emily, sit down for Christ sakes,” Greg said from behind his paper.
Greg and Emily drove up from their horse ranch in Arizona where Rick grew up at. Rick knew
his parents would be the first to insist on taking the trek to Kentucky to be with Rick.
“Do you need anything, Rick?” Emily asked.
“If the boy needs something he will tell you,” Greg said.
“I’m fine, Mother,” Rick said.
“You should eat something,” Emily said.
“Em, he can’t eat right after surgery,” Greg sighed.
“Do you want me to read a magazine to you?” Emily asked.
“That’s okay,” Rick said.
“Well, you shouldn’t have been outside alone. You really need a roommate or companion,”
Rick tightened his jaw. He picked at the nubs on the blue hospital blanket. Everything in the
damned room was blue.
“What he needs is to use a cane,” Greg said.
Emily gave Greg a sharp look. “Oh, Rick doesn’t need stuff like that.” She patted Rick’s arm.
Greg put his paper down and stretched. “All I’m saying is that he may benefit from certain
things. Like those canes or Braille.”
“He’s not blind, Greg.”
“No, I’m not,” Rick said.
“Then what do you call it?” Greg stood and strode from the room.
Rick stared at the white ceiling. The florescent glow from the hallway hurt his eyes, but he
didn’t want to ask anyone to close the door. He was still groggy from the anesthetic, and his leg was
beginning to hurt again. The pain was traveling from his knee and grew in intensity as it went further
along. He couldn’t roll over, or get out of bed. He was stuck.
Megan stood in front of the faded yellow Ranch-style house that had once been hers and Rick’s.
She played with the hem of her white polo as she decided if she should go in or not. It had been a
couple of weeks since Rick’s accident, and this was the third time Megan tried to contact him. She took
a deep breath, walked to the door and knocked.
A woman Megan did not recognize at first opened the door. The woman’s dark, brown hair was
pulled back, and she wore denim Bermuda shorts and a Garth Brooks t-shirt. Megan recognized the
shirt first as she had bought it for Rick seven years ago when they had gone to a concert.
“Megan?” Emily asked.
“Emily, I didn’t think you would still be here.”
“Someone has to take care of Rick. Listen, I should tell you some things first.”
Emily shut the door as she stood out on the porch. She crossed her arms over her ample chest.
Megan chewed on a finger nail.
“The house is a disaster,” Emily said.
“I think things are getting bad, you know. When we got here we couldn’t believe it all. I think
he needs some help, but I don’t know what to do.”
“Have you said this to Rick?”
“We don’t want to hurt his feelings. I was thinking Greg and I would pay a professional cleaner
to come in once a week, but I don’t know what to do about other stuff. Are they taking it easy on him at
Megan knew that Rick’s parents had the financial ability to care for him, but it wouldn’t solve
“Emily, you can’t do everything for him forever. He needs to grow up.”
“It’s not that simple, Megan.”
“Yes it is. Can I please see Rick?”
“Alright, but don’t upset him. He’s in the backyard.”
Megan gasped as she walked into the house. It looked like something out of a movie. Nature
had decided to take up residence inside the house. Dust coated every surface. An intricate spider-web
began in the middle of the ceiling on the fan and spread to the four corners. Megan moved into the
kitchen where dirty dishes piled in the sink and overflowed onto the counters. Food littered the floor
and a line of marching ants streamed from some unknown place.
Megan took in deep breaths. She turned and glared at Emily. “You don’t want to hurt his
feelings, but you’ll let him live in squalor?”
Emily’s mouth gapped open. “If you hadn’t left him this wouldn’t have happened.”
“No, if you all would realize that Rick needs training and stop acting like he was a child this
wouldn’t have happened.”
Megan knew what was possible for those with blindness. She had read about people with jobs,
real jobs, who were blind. There were even a few blind doctors. She had found information with stories
about blind parents. All this and more was accomplished because they chose to learn a few things like
Braille and white cane travel. Most importantly they had gained an independent mind-set. What was it
in the brochures? With training and a positive attitude blindness can be reduced to a mere physical
inconvenience that was it.
“The help Rick needs is not from a caretaker, Emily.”
Megan left Emily standing in the kitchen.
Rick sat in a lawn chair with his broken leg propped up on a wood crate. He had gained a few
more pounds, and his hairline was crawling farther back.
“Mind if I sign that thing?” Megan asked.
Rick moved forward, but realized he couldn’t jump up. “Megan.”
Megan pulled a chair up next to him. “I thought you needed a friend.”
Rick stared out into the yard. “I thought I completely lost you.”
“Rick, you never lost me, but I lost you.” Megan gently held his hand. The familiar touch
brought her emotions rushing, but she knew this was no time for tears.
Rick broke down instead. He took large gulps of air as though he were drinking. “I don’t know
what to do.”
“I know, but I do.” She smiled.
”How could you ever want to be with me? How could anyone?”
“I will tell you how. Once this leg is healed go get that training.”
“Look, your method is not working anymore. There is no reason for you to have limitations. I
can help you do this.”
“I don’t know.”
“Here’s the thing, Rick. I still love you, but I won’t enable you. I want to help and I want to be
with you, but you need to get over this.” Megan cupped his chin and turned his face towards her. “You
have to do it for you though.”
Rick focused on the two shadows he knew were her eyes. He had longed for a year to see
Megan again. His heart was thudding. He laughed suddenly.
Megan wore a puzzled expression. “What?”
“It’s just your face.”
“No, I mean, you look like a Picasso painting. There are holes where your eyes are; your mouth
looks cherry red, and there is no nose.”
Megan gazed at Rick then she started chuckling. They both were wiping tears from their eyes,
but this time from laughter.
Rick grew quiet for a moment. “It won’t be easy.”
Rick looked at her. “Thanks.”
They sat in silence as they watched the sun set. .
HOME OF THE HUSKER
Living & Health
The Accessible Diabetic
By Bridgit Kuenning-Pollpeter
Many lose their vision and are told they can no longer independently manage their diabetes.
This is ridiculous. I was fortunate enough to have medical professionals who never doubted my ability
to function as a diabetic after losing my sight, but this is not always the case. We know what we are
capable of, and we have to take control of our own lives. We can not let others (even doctors) tell us
what we can and can not do. I would like to provide you with some helpful how-tos when managing
diabetes using alternative skills.
I use an insulin pump as I have Type 1 diabetes, commonly referred to as juvenile diabetes. I
developed diabetes when I was four-years-old. Over the last twenty-four years many developments
have occurred with diabetes. Many insulin dependent diabetics are switching to insulin pumps as they
allow for a better regulated management of diabetes. Each time I press a button on my pump, it beeps. I
have learned to navigate through many of the menu options by counting the beeps. Some of these
options I have memorized, but with many options I refer to written directions. I count carbs and deliver
insulin based on an insulin/carb ratio designed by me and my doctors each time I consume
carbohydrates. This allows for more freedom in what I eat as I am not hindered by a preinjected amount
of insulin. I take my designated dose only after eating. I have been on the insulin pump for six years
now, and I could not be happier with the control I now possess over my glucose readings. As I
understand, too, Prodigy will soon release an accessible insulin pump that will have text-to-speech
capabilities. This will be exciting and allow for complete independence with my insulin pump. Before I
was on a pump though, I used an insulin pen that clicked each time I dialed a unit of insulin. This is
simple and also accessible. There are ways of drawing and injecting insulin with a syringe. As a
diabetic for twenty-four years, but only being blind for seven years, I have not used manual syringe
injections, however I do know it is possible to do this as a diabetic who is blind. Whatever method you
use, always consult a doctor before making any changes.
Glucometers (devices that test glucose readings) are currently on the market. If you are a
diabetic who has any level of vision loss, I strongly recommend you invest in an accessible glucometer.
I test about eight times a day. The more you test, the better control you will have. There is a difference
between Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes so always speak with a doctor before initiating anything. I track
my readings by typing them in a Microsoft Excel document. Excel spread sheets can easily be created.
I have a column for readings, insulin dosage and activity. This is simple and makes it easy for your
doctor to read through.
Take as many classes as you can to educate yourself on diabetes and how to manage it. The
Nebraska Medical Center has a new Diabetes clinic which is fantastic. They offer a comprehensive
management for diabetes. The diabetes center has everything from specialist to cooking classes to
exercise classes. It is always to your benefit to understand how diabetes affects your body, and learn
what you can do to take control. Find what is available in your area that can act as a resource for
Exercise is as important as diet. Find an activity that you enjoy and set an exercise plan. I try to
work-out four to five times a week, switching between cardio and toning. I prefer an outdoor activity,
but if need be I go to the gym. With my elliptical at home and the equipment at my apartment
complex’s gym, I have marked with clear dymo Braille labels so I can independently operate the
machines. My husband, Ross, and I do a lot of walking on our walking trail near our home. We prefer
this mode when the weather is nice. We just grab our canes and go. I like to use a one-pound hand
weight that I alternate between hands while I walk. We try to walk three to four miles at a time. Do not
let physical activity scare you. It is possible and important especially if you are diabetic.
If possible, it is a good idea to label your food including any nutrition information you may need.
I use three-by-five note cards to make Braille labels to mark food items that I may not know the
nutrition info about. Take a look at what you are eating too. It is easier said than done (believe me, I
know) to try to eat a balanced meal. I try to stay on the lower side of the carb and sodium intake, but it
is okay to cheat every now and then. Always remember that balance is key. A food journal can help
with food management. Either keep a journal in Braille or use the computer. Just like with your glucose
readings, this allows you to track trends and make changes where necessary.
The main point is that blindness is not a reason to not independently manage diabetes.
Especially with new and innovative technology, independently managing diabetes as a blind person
grows easier everyday. I hope I have provided the reader with some suggestions on how to use
alternative methods for diabetic management.
Hands On Living: Blind Crafting for Everyone
By Susan Roe
Editor's note: This article was passed along to me after one of our membership found it on Newsline.
I have been an avid crafter both before and after I lost my sight over thirty-two years ago. There
is nothing I love more than working on a project and actually seeing it through to completion. Whether I
sell an item, give it to someone or donate it to a charity, I always have the satisfaction knowing that
there will be someone somewhere who will appreciate owning what I do best.
There have been quite a few people who have either encouraged my crafting or have taught me
different skills. My mother, Katherine, first taught me to crochet when I was eight years old. She
showed me how to crochet granny squares in matching or contrasting colors. We would then sew them
together to make warm afghans for our beds. She didn't stop with crocheting and soon taught my sister
and I to quilt by hand, as well as how to use a sewing machine. When we were small children, she made
handmade Hobby Holly dolls and sold them to make extra money for our Christmas. Later on, she tried
her hand at the cutest little clothes for Cabbage Patch dolls and they were even more popular.
Not too long before I lost my sight, I had just discovered a talent for drawing. My sister Pattie
encouraged me to start taking art classes in school like she did. She was a wonderful artist herself,
starting with drawing and painting. When Pattie began having vision problems of her own, she switched
to woodcarving. No surprise to us, she excelled in that craft as well. Pattie had just started showing me
some basics of oil painting when I lost my sight at age fifteen.
I have never allowed my blindness to be a hindrance in my day to day living and that included
my current crafts and learning new ones along the way. Pauline, a family friend, took the time to teach
me how to knit and it has been my favorite ever since. She also introduced my family to liquid
embroidery, making Christmas ornaments with beads and sequins and latch hooking rugs. From school I
learned to work with clay, coil and reed basket weaving and tapestry weaving using colored burlap. I
even managed to take a class on using the potter's wheel while attending my local community college.
Luckily, I stopped myself from adding a potter's wheel to my small one bedroom apartment before I
started rearranging the furniture.
Believe it or not, my crafting curiosity still was not satisfied. Pattieand I took ceramic classes,
enjoyed working with beads, making hats andscarves on circular and rectangular lap looms, and
successfully figured outhow to crohook. When I attended our local Rehabilitation Center for theBlind
one summer, they showed me how to set up my sewing machine to make iteasier to use. I have heard
that curiosity killed the cat, however, it onlyexpanded my thirst for crafting to collecting the tools of the
trade alongwith many books and magazines covering even more crafts. I could definitely open my own
My mother-in-law, Anna Roe, was someone else who loved crafting. She lovedknitting,
crocheting and plastic canvas work. To her credit, she alsopassed on crafting to her children as well.
Matt likes to draw and paint,wood working and Native American leather working. I suppose Anna
alsopassed on to Matt some of her patience, because he does tolerate my boxes ofyarn and shelves of
crafting books. In fact, he doesn't even get ancy whilewe are in a craft store. Matt is really good at
ferreting out all kinds of hidden crafting treasures.
On a sad note, when Anna passed away, Matt and his family asked if there was anything of her's
that I would like to have in remembrance. I didn'thesitate and asked for anything dealing with her
knitting and crocheting.Well, my ever-growing craft stuff was increased by four large boxes.
With all of my accumulated crafting energy and supplies, I needed an outletfor my items because
I just couldn't keep it all. I sell a few items hereand there as well as making items for friends and family.
My biggest joy isknitting and crocheting for the Webb of Hope, a charity group that is runthrough the
Red Cross. A local group of women get together here at BlackCreek Baptist Church and meet once a
week. They share patterns, discuss items being made and who the organization will be sending them to,
both inthe United States and several countries over seas. The women also provide lessons for those who
want to learn and participate with them as well asproviding yarn so it doesn't have to cost you anything.
Over the years, I have done searches on the Internet and have found severalon-line crafting
groups, and several of them have been for blind crafters.I had to narrow my participation down to only
one blind crafting group or Iwould never tare myself away from the computer. This group works
togetherfrom the Krafters Korner. The group is filled with some of the mosttalented crafters I have ever
known. Everyone is either blind, low-vision, or works with the blind. The Krafters Korner also provides
lessons to itsmembers via conference calls and everyone works at the project together.All classes are
recorded for the students that attend each class and are provided as downloadable MP3 files for easy
reference at a later date. Someof the classes have been beginning and advanced knitting, beginning
andadvanced bead working, soap making, origami, plastic canvas work, small loomweaving and even
tips for finding the best tool for the job, to only name afew. They are even working on knitted and
crocheted helmet liners for oursoldiers over seas as a community charity project.
I have even taught two classes myself, coil basket weaving and paper basketweaving which
seemed to be a success with those who attended. I have onlytaken one class, which was a beading class
for making your own Rosary. Theteacher even gave a brief history on the different styles of
Rosariesthrough the years. All classes are open to members once you have paid your$10.00 membership
dues. Krafters Korner also has a weekly Monday Night Chatwhich runs from 8:00 Eastern Time to about
9:30 via the conference line.This gives everyone an opportunity to talk to someone about their crafts
andexchange information as well. Members also have the opportunity to get helpwith problems they
may be experiencing with a project in order to workthrough it instead of getting frustrated enough to set
it aside, never to be picked up again.
I have found that many members take their projects quite seriously and evenattend numerous
crafting shows as venders or sell their wares at FarmersMarkets. There are those who have been blind
and crafting for severalyears, or they find themselves wanting to learn to craft. Also, there arethose who
have been sighted crafters for years and recently lost their sightand now want to find ways to continue
crafting. It is really nice when amember seeks encouragement with continuing a craft after losing their
sightand seeing the eager responses from other members sharing and explaining howthey have managed
to continue that very craft. All of this and more can befound at the Krafters Korner. They have even had
guest speakers on blind wood working so they can explain how they manage their wood working craft
with no sight.
Joyce Kane is the group moderator and President of the National Federation of the Blind Krafters
Division. She has been an avid blind crafter for many years and is always available to assist members as
well as eager to learnnew crafts and techniques from others in the group. You can call Joyce formore
information at (203) 378-8928 or via e-mail at Blindhands@AOL.com.Please feel free to visit Krafters
Korner at www.KraftersKorner.org.Krafters Korner has also recently gone International, bringing
blindstudents from around the globe into their classrooms with the use of SKYPE.Come and join us and
see what you can learn!
Breaded Ranch Chicken
Submitted by Audra Kramer
¾ cup crushed Corn Flakes or Rice Crispies
¾ cup parmesan cheese, grated
1 packet Ranch salad dressing mix
8 boneless, skinless chicken breast
1. In shallow bowl, combine flakes, cheese and dressing mix.
2. Coat chicken breast with oil then roll in corn flakes mixture until coated. Place in greased 13
x 9 inch dish.
3. Bake uncovered for 45 minutes at 350 degrees.
Black Bean & Corn Dip Salad
Submitted by Nancy Oltman
1 can whole kernal corn, drained
1 can black beans, undrained
1 can chopped green chilies
1 bunch green onions, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
2 large tomatoes, diced
1 bunch cilantro, snipped (at least 1/2 cup)
1/2 cup lime juice
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1-1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
seasoning salt to taste
1. Whisk together the lime juice, olive oil, cumin and red pepper flakes. Add seasoning salt to
2. Combine all other ingredients and toss. Refrigerate until chilled.
3. Serve with tortilla chips or as a salad.
Greek Isles Pasta Salad
Submitted by Bridgit Kuenning-Pollpeter
Makes: 8 servings, 1 cup each.
3 cups farfalle (bow-tie pasta), uncooked
2 cups baby spinach leaves
1 cup KRAFT Natural Mediterranean Style Cheese Crumbles
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
3/4 cups drained canned chickpeas (garbanzo beans), rinsed
1/2 cup KRAFT Greek Vinaigrette Dressing
1. COOK pasta as directed on package; drain. Place in large bowl.
2. ADD remaining ingredients; mix lightly.
3. SERVE immediately or cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
Ice Pop Coolers
Submitted by Bridgit Kuenning-Pollpeter
Makes 6 servings.
1 cup sugar or Splenda
1 cup loosely packed mint leaves
juice of 6 lemons
4 cups sparkling water or ginger ale, chilled
6 skinny all-juice fruit ice pops
(You can make syrup up to 1 week before serving)
1. In a saucepan combine sugar with 1 cup water and bring to a boil over a medium heat, stirring
until sugar dissolves. Let cool for 15 minutes.
2. Stir in the mint and chill, about 6 hours, then strain.
3. In a pitcher mix the syrup and lemon juice. Mix in the sparkling water and pour into chilled
glasses, serving with ice pops as stirrers.
Pressed Cuban Burgers
Submitted by Bridgit Kuenning-Pollpeter
Makes 6 servings.
1/2 cup Miracle Whip
Juice of 1 lime
1 tablespoon ground cumin
2 pounds ground pork
2 1/2 teaspoons grill seasoning
6 ounces ham, thinly sliced
9 ounces Swiss cheese, thinly sliced
6 challah rolls, split or your choice of bread
2 cups shredded iceberg lettuce
18 dill pickle slices
(You can prepare burgers on outdoor grill if prefer)
1. In a small bowl, stir together the mayonnaise, lime juice and ground cumin. Set aside.
2. In a medium bowl, combine the ground pork and grill seasoning. Form into 6 patties.
3. Preheat a stovetop grill over medium-low heat. In a large nonstick skillet set over medium heat,
cook the patties for 6 minutes per side. During the final 2 minutes, top each patty with an equal
amount of ham and cheese. Cover the skillet and cook until the cheese melts.
4. Spread the mayonnaise mixture on the cut sides of each roll. Place a patty on each roll bottom,
top with 1/3 cup shredded lettuce, 3 pickles and set the roll top into place.
5. Arrange the burgers on the grill. Weight the burgers using a heavy pan, such as a cast-iron skillet.
Cook until crispy and grill marks appear, 1 to 2 minutes. Flip the burgers and repeat.
6. Place burger patties on rolls and serve.
Summer Lemon Cake
Submitted by Bridgit Kuenning-Pollpeter
1 lemon cake mix (I prefer Duncan Heinze or Betty Crocker)
1 8 ounce bar cream cheese, softened
1 pkg. sugar-free lemon pudding mix
3/4 cup skim milk
1 8 ounce tub sugar-free whipped topping
1. Bake cake according to directions.
2. In large bowl, combine pudding mix with 3/4 cups milk. Add in cream cheese and beat until
whipped. There should not be any chuncks.
3. Add in whipped topping and mix until well blended.
4. Once cake is cool, spread icing on cake. Chill before serving.
5. For your information, you can substitute any flavor cake mix and pudding mix.
FOR YOUR INFORMATION
Diabetes Resource Guide Notice
Editor's note: This notice went out on the NFB diabetic email list.
Dear NFB Members,
The Diabetes Research and Wellness Foundation, a non-profit foundation, established a
Wellness initiative to create a community-based resource guide for individuals with diabetes. We hope
to launch this project to the public in November. Many national websites offer information about
diabetes but as an operator of a national diabetes helpline, I have found that community-based resources
are difficult to find. Our resource guide will be searchable by zip code enabling an individual to locate
those services and programs that are close by.
In the development of this guide, I worked with the National Federation of the Blind to ensure
that our site would be compatible for those individuals with visual impairments. It is my hope that this
list serve may assist me in populating this site with appropriate resources for the visually impaired living
with diabetes. If you have an organization, a service, a program, and a product that has made living with
diabetes easier could you please send me the information? I would need the name of the group, contact
information – address, email, phone number, owner of the business, a website, and a brief summary of
what the program offers. I realize you may not have access to all the information I require however any
help you may provide is appreciated. Please send the information to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Once the site is launched I will send a notice to the list serve letting you know it is up and
running. Although I may not have resources in all areas, over time we hope to provide community
resources across the country. If you are interested in helping this project grow, I am also looking for
volunteers to identify local resources in their community. A health care professional to ensure they are
reliable and safe for an individual with diabetes will review all resources.
In appreciation of your efforts, the Diabetes Research and Wellness Foundation will provide you
with a free diabetes identification necklace. To receive your necklace please send your name and
mailing address to email@example.com and you should receive your necklace in 4-6 weeks. I also
encourage you to use our national diabetes helpline at 1-800-941-4635.
In advance, I would like to thank you for any assistance that you may provide us in providing
this much needed guide.
Kathy Gold, RN, MSN, CDE
Diabetes Education Specialist
Diabetes Research and Wellness Foundation
5151 Wisconsin Ave NW Suite 420
Washington, DC 20016
Helpline : 800-941-4635
NABS World’s of Fun Trip 2010 Notice
The NABS World’s of Fun Trip will be occurring on Saturday, August 14. If you would like to
participate, the cost will be $30 per person, and this fee will cover transportation and entrance to the
park. To reserve a place for yourself in the van and for more information about the trip, contact NABS
President Karen Anderson.
NFBN Academic Scholarship 2010 Notice
The 2010 NFBN State Convention will be October 28-31 in Columbus, NE. Each year five
academic scholarships are awarded to future leaders in the Federation. If you are interested and would
like more information about this year’s scholarship program, contact Shane Buresh, Scholarship
Committee Chair, at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (402) 465-5468.
Ski for Light 2010 Notice
Editor’s note: President Karen Lemmon of the Pan-handle Chapter has asked to publish the following
BLACK HILLS SKI FOR LIGHT
January 23-30, 2011
Attention all NFBN chapters:
The Pan-handle chapter is working hard to raise funds to subsidize a charter bus through
Fontenelle Tours and Arrow bus company. We wish to pick up any interested individuals across
Nebraska who are blind or physically disabled to participate in Deadwood’s Ski For Light event. Please
encourage your members to consider this experience. Chek out the web site at bhsfl.org If your chapter
would like to help with this project, or if you have members interested in attending please contact me via
email or phone me at 308-667-2054. We will have a wheel chair assessable bus to accommodate any
physically disabled individual who would like to attend.
We can’t promise we will meet our goal of $50 for the entire package per individual participant,
but we are working hard to raise the money to provide the week-long experience at the absolute lowest
cost to each individual. We have already worked out a reduction of $125 in the cost of the week for each
individual with the Ski for Light board of directors. Anyone riding the Nebraska bus will have the cost
of the week-long expenses which include lodging, some meals, all rental ski equipment, in-city bus
transportation, ski-lift tickets, a sighted guide for each skier and nightly activities.
We need 25 people to make the trip, and we need to know how many we will have on the bus by
November 1. We also appreciate any experienced skiers who would like to volunteer for the week as Ski
guides. You will find more information about volunteering for Ski for Light on their web site.
Hope to hear from all of you.
Training Centers for the Blind Contact Information
Comprehensive programs teach skills and confidence, which are necessary to live an active and
productive life as a blind person. Training centers for the blind instruct in the alternative skills like
Braille, long white cane mobility, computer, cooking and other skills that allow the blind and visually
impaired to live completely independently. A great center for the blind does not merely teach the skills,
however, they help build the confidence required to be successful. The National Federation of the Blind
is dedicated to promoting the idea that the alternative skills can and do allow individuals to be efficient
and independent. The blind and sighted alike must realize that it is okay to be blind.
The blind and visually impaired must prepare themselves for life, and that includes learning the
skills and confidence. NFB training centers require all students to wear sleep shades which help
individuals to rely on the skills alone, encouraging the confidence and belief that alternative skills are
safe and efficient.
Students will practice at night what they learn during the day. The program consist of daily
classes in the skills along with outings such as camping, sports events, amusement parks, shopping and
even white-water rafting. Students will live in apartment-like facilities so they can practice independent
living while in training.
To complete a program, students will take on challenges such as navigating around a city,
building a shop project using power tools, cooking a meal for guest and other activities all without using
any sight. The point of this is meant to build confidence through the programs as well as learning from
other blind individuals proving that the blind are not helpless.
We have every chance to be successful and independent. The blind are tackling fields such as
science, medicine and engineering, fields once thought to be impossible for the blind. We can create
goals and achieve them. To continue on your path towards independence, please consider one of the
following programs to learn the skills and confidence that will make the sky the limit for you. Begin
your road to empowerment today!
Blindness: Learning In New Dimensions (BLIND Inc.)
100 East 22nd Street
Minneapolis, MN 55404
Colorado Center For the Blind (CCB)
2233 West Shepperd Avenue
Littleton, CO 80120
Toll-free phone: 800-401-4632
Louisiana Center For the Blind (LCB)
101 South Trenton Street
Ruston, LA 71270
Toll-free phone: 800-234-4166
Nebraska Commission For the Blind and Visually Impaired (NCBVI)
4600 Valley Road Suite 100
Lincoln, NE 68510
From the Editor’s Desk
Challenge to be Driven
By Bridgit Kuenning-Pollpeter
Lately we have heard so much about the push to ensure new and upcoming technology be accessible for
the blind. We argue that we have the right to equal access to information and technology. We demand
the right to complete independent means of accessing this information and technology. Seventy-years
later the NFB continues to take huge strides towards creating a world that embraces blindness as nothing
more than a physical nuisance.
What is a limitation? Limitations are a human invention meant to hold us back from our goals and
dreams. For centuries limitations were placed on the blind, and we were supposed to be content with
relying on the benevolence of the sighted. We were to accept the idea that the blind were unable to
contribute. Families, jobs and life in general were not ours to consider. We were once taught that a
normal life was not a practical goal.
Louis Braille was told he had no reason to read or write. Instead of sitting back and accepting this
limitation, he developed the Braille code that unlocked the door to literacy for those who were blind.
Jacob Bolotin lived during a time when the blind did not contemplate equal opportunity in employment,
especially in the field of medicine. Jacob did not care what the standard was, he discovered a way to
learn and practice medicine as a blind man. Jacob Bolotin was a totally blind person who became a
doctor long before we had the modern technology currently existing. Dr. Tembroek and Dr. Jernigan
refused to listen to the assumed limitations society insisted were a fact for blind people. They created
the National Federation of the Blind and sought to find and develop new ways of accomplishing old
goals. Dr. Maurer has stepped into his predecessors shoes and upped the ante by introducing the
Jernigan Institute; a facility devoted to research that is pushing the boundaries of limitations.
A challenge was sent to researchers daring them to develop a car the blind could drive. The NFB is not
willing to act as a passive participant in driving. We insist a car be operable and maneuverable by the
blind. Virginia Tech answered the challenge and has developed the first non-visual operating system for
a car allowing a blind driver to function. On January 29, 2011 the NFB will see the fruits of their labor
come full circle. The car the blind can drive will debut at the Daytona race track as a blind driver takes
the car for a spin around the track.
So what does this mean? Finally the blind can drive a car. Yes, but this challenge means so much more
than merely being able to drive. As the NFB has taken steps over the last seventy-years to change what
it means to be blind, we are finally shaking the foundations of society’s perceptions. Not only are we
demanding equal access, we are proving that limitations only exist in our mind. As we enter another
seventy-years of change and success, I issue this challenge: Do not be content to accept any limitations
assumed upon you. Create a dream and achieve it. We have moved out of our corners to be vital, active
participants in society. Nothing can stop us unless we allow it. No longer use blindness as an excuse to
continue the stereotype that limitations prevail with us. Choose a goal and work hard to achieve it. The
National Federation of the Blind is crushing old stereotypes, and forcing the world to rethink their stance
on limitations. The world is ours to conquer now. With so many avenues now open to the blind, we
find that limitations are a thing of the past.