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					                            RAISING AWARENESS


Isabell “Izzy” Florence

Vice President
Scott Davert

Treasurer/Director of DBW, DeafBlind Workshop
Jill Gaus
Phone: 517.764.6178 V/TTY/VP
Brenda Cuddeback

             MEMBERS AT LARGE
John Robe
Harold Riley
Odessa Carter
Patty Grindel
Mike Reese

Beth Kennedy
Jonathan Truman

Dee Robertson

Mike Reese
Phone: 734.394.2790 VP

               SHI-M=DB MISSION

Our focus is to improve the lives and well-being of
DeafBlind individuals. SHI-M=DB will play an
active role in educating the public about the
needs and abilities of the DeafBlind. SHI-M=DB
helps DeafBlind individuals realize their potential
and utilize the skills they have to improve their

 SHI-M=DB is a 501-C-3 non-profit organization
 and contributions are tax deductible.


From the President’s Pen – by Izzy Florence
Birthdays and Anniversaries – October to
Meet a Board Member!
Digital TV Transition Is Coming! – by Cindy
Michigan Deaf-Blind Workshop 2008 – by Melanie
Call to Participate in a Study – by Cindy Caldwell
Update on the DeafBlind Communicator – by Mike
Member News
Wanted: DB Poets, Writers, Illustrators, Sponsors!
– by Melanie Bond
Let’s Make This Newsletter Go Green! – by Mike
Reese and Jill Gaus
Mark Your Calendar!
Call for Interpreters to Attend November Open
Board Meeting – by Mike Reese and Jill Gaus
Topics in Next Issue
Resources Section
   From the President’s Pen – by Izzy Florence

Hello everyone!

I hope you all have had a quite enjoyable summer,
taking vacations and spending quality time with
family and friends! It was especially wonderful
seeing some of you at the annual Deaf-Blind
Workshop at DeSales Center in Brooklyn, MI last
month, too! One of our readers, in fact, will be
giving us a summarized version of that weekend
in this issue. Thank you to Melanie Bond for
sharing her write-up of her DBW experience with

Fall is once again upon us; with this brings
changes to our daily routines – whether it is being
back to school or work, or seasonal activities
such as football, raking leaves, fall
housecleaning, etc. It also brings out a very
colorful change to our foliage as they display their
beautiful reds, oranges, and yellows.

Upcoming this fall is our quarterly open board
meeting, which will take place on Saturday,
November 8 at Madonna University – Livonia.
Further information will be elsewhere in this
issue. I hope many of you will plan on attending!

Until then, enjoy the Fall season!
Your SHI-M=DB President,

Isabell Florence

           October to December 2008


OCTOBER                  OCTOBER
16 – Karen Bailey

NOVEMBER                 NOVEMBER
15 – Robert Flinn        23 – Melanie & Harvey

DECEMBER                 DECEMBER

If you would like to submit your birthday, your
spouse’s or significant other’s birthday, and/or
your anniversary, please email the Editor, Mike
Reese, at

              Meet a Board Member!
                 Odessa Carter

   Hello! My name is Odessa Carter. I am
currently a Member-at-Large with the SHI-M=DB
Board. I have Usher’s Syndrome Type II. I am
currently retired, having been a special education
teacher for the Detroit Public Schools for 25

I am single, having never married. My parents are
deceased, along with two of my siblings. I am the
youngest of seven siblings, and I have two sisters
and two brothers still living.

I am a Unity of Hands Deaf Chorale member since
1986. I love to sing and dance. Reading and
computer technology are also of great interest to
me. I love attending church and hanging out with
my family.

Enjoy your Fall and God bless you!

          Digital TV Transition Is Coming!
                  by Cindy Caldwell
(Original source: forwarded email from Paige
Berry of HKNC)

Are you aware that antenna-based television will
no longer be functional after February 17, 2009?
In order to be able to continue using your
television set, you would need to either switch to
a cable service, such as Comcast, or purchase a
DTV (short for Digital TV) converter box. As it
happens, the Federal Communications
Commission (FCC) now has three videos in
American Sign Language on what you need to
know about the Digital Television Transition:
#1 Overview of the DTV Transition (4 min, 37 sec)
#2 What You Need to Know (7 min, 35 sec)
#3 Closed Captioning and the DTV Transition (4
min, 15 sec)
They can be run with Flash, QuickTime, Windows
Media, or RealPlayer.
Find them at:

Michigan Deaf-Blind Workshop 2008
by Melanie Bond
(Edited by Elizabeth Spiers of AADB & Mike

When I attended Michigan's very first DeafBlind
Workshop (DBW) camp in 1997, the campgrounds
were simple and woodsy, with two newly
constructed buildings, and hints of more to come.
However, I did not know how momentous this
occasion would be. Jeff Bohrman, a deaf-blind
presenter from Ohio, pleaded for volunteers to
help establish a new state deaf-blind
organization. Six people raised their hands:
myself, Debbie Wright, Odessa Carter, Eleanor
Nouhan, Phyllis Genna and Jill Gaus. Thus, SHI-
M=DB was born. (SHI-M=DB stands for Self-
Help for Independency in Michigan Equalizing the

Fast-forward to Thursday, August 7, 2008. I was
absolutely stunned at how much everything had
changed. The grounds were beautifully
landscaped with lush trees, gardens, and a small
lily pond with a tinkling waterfall. I was thrilled
when an SSP helped me spot a green frog with
bug eyes nestled in a lily pad!

After registering and getting settled in, we went to
several presentations. I attended one fascinating
workshop on Taekwando. Mr. Chris Martinez, a
second degree Black Belt, demonstrated various
self-defense moves, and then worked with us
individually to teach us simple techniques that
would help us defend ourselves. My SSP valiantly
took a couple punches from me and a head knock
too, though I hadn't meant to do that. Blame it on
my lack of depth perception! Seriously, my SSP
took it all in good stride.

I then attended a Legislation workshop. The
presenter was the former state representative
Doug Spade, who is the second blind person to
serve as a representative for Michigan. He
touched on the legislative process and opened up
the floor for questions and answers. I, always the
renegade at heart, discussed having a rally at the
State Capitol to raise awareness of our need for
Support Service Providers (SSPs). He told us a
rally was a good idea but it wasn't enough. He
admonished us to contact our legislators, get to
know them, and let them know who we are and
what our needs are. He kept drumming into our
heads that WE are the boss and that the legislator
works for US! He explained that it takes several
years of hard work and perseverance to pass a
bill successfully.

Next was an afternoon of pampering. My SSP and
I received a wonderful head, neck, shoulders and
back massage. I had my first-ever manicure,
where the manicurist filed my nails and applied
clear nail polish. Also, I had a hand-softening
treatment which included rubbing my hands with
a sand-gritty cream, rinsing it off, then applying a
lotion to soften my hands. Later, I told my SSP
that when I rubbed the gritty cream on my hands, I
ruined my new nail polish. She burst out laughing.

After dinner, SHI-M=DB held its board meeting. I
offered two suggestions: think about a poetry
book fundraiser for SHI-M=DB; and consider
setting up an SSP project in Michigan. I accepted
the President's offer to head this committee. Wish
me success!

The Ice Cream Social followed soon afterwards.
Being a diehard fan of chocolate, I ordered
chocolate syrup on chocolate ice cream.
Coincidentally, a young woman in front of me had
ordered the same thing. I thought she was taking
my ice cream, but no, it was hers! We had a good
laugh about that.

On Saturday morning, August 9, we had an "Izzy"
workshop, Izzy being Isabell Florence, president
of SHI-M=DB, certified rehabilitation instructor,
and ASL teacher. She ordered Jill Gaus, our
DeafBlind Workshop director, to sing us a
song. Jill really, really did NOT want to sing! But
she had no choice. She started singing, "Lollipop,
lollipop, oh, lolli lolli lolli lollipop, lollipop!"
Throughout this workshop, Izzy would order
Jill to repeat the song. It was hilarious!

After a short break, Mike Ellis, a blind
entrepreneur and owner of Mike Ellis Enterprises,
Inc., presented on "What's New in Assistive
Technology for DB." He discussed one of the
hottest technologies available for deaf-blind
people -- the Global Positioning System
(GPS). The GPS shows a person's exact position
on Earth at any time, in any weather, no matter
where they are! It answers five questions: Where
am I? Where am I going? Where are you? What's
the best way to get there? When will I get
there? He briefly explained some braille devices
and encouraged us to view his demo products.
For those interested, check out his website at
The rest of the afternoon, we enjoyed swimming,
boating and relaxing on the beach. When my SSP
and I both plunged under the water, she popped
back up screaming because the water was so
cold! I laughed at her and told her the water was

Finally, Dance Night arrived, the moment we'd all
been anticipating. We were all hot to trot! I hadn't
danced in years and was inappropriately dressed
in my black biker shorts and flip-flops. But we
were amongst deaf-blind friends and it didn't
seem to matter. I enjoyed dances such as the
Choo Choo Train, the Hokey Pokey, the Chicken
Flap, and the YMCA routines.

The next morning, Sunday, I attended Mass. I
enjoyed the simplicity and profundity of the
service led by Father Mike Depcik and his
assistant. I also appreciated the opportunity to
reflect and meditate.

Afterwards, Father Mike offered a Decompression
Time. He led a discussion and offered counseling
to those who had mixed feelings about returning
home to face more isolation, exclusion and
depression. Some were happy to return home to
their families. Others were not. The lonely stories
were heartbreaking.
I thought a lot about that day back in 1997 when
the six of us volunteered to help set up SHI-M=DB.
Looking back, I realize that Jill Gaus has
persevered through the years to keep the spirit of
the DBW camp alive. Just as De Sales Center has
prospered and become more beautiful over the
years, so has the DBW camp, with Jill's
leadership. I applaud her work.

Author's Note: On behalf of the deaf-blind
campers who attended the Michigan DeafBlind
Workshop, I want to thank our wonderful
sponsors: Holley Ear Institute, Michigan
Department of Labor and Economic Growth,
Michigan Commission for the Blind-DeafBlind Unit
and Division on Deaf and Hard of Hearing, the
CATIE Center at the College of St. Catherine, Self-
Help in Independency in Michigan-Equalizing the
DeafBlind (SHI-M=DB), and DeafBlind Central. I
also want to thank all the SSPs, interpreters,
CART transcribers and volunteers who made the
DeafBlind Workshop a success.

 Call to Participate in a Study – by Cindy Caldwell
(Editor’s Note: The following is from the Michigan
Rehabilitation Services’ newsletter
Communication Matters – June 2008 issue.)

Study Seeks Participants with Sensory and/or
Mobility Impairments
If you have a sensory impairment and/or mobility
impairment, you may be eligible to participate in a
new research project. This research aims to
understand what people with sensory and/or
mobility impairments do in their daily lives, how
their environments affect their community
participation and what, if any, help they need to
complete activities.
Eligibility requires that you:
•    Are between the ages of 18 and 75
•    Live in the community
•    Have access to a computer
•    Can read at or above the 6th grade level
•    Can enter responses into a web-based survey

 or direct another individual to enter your
 responses AND
 • Have either a mobility impairment, a visual
 impairment, or a hearing impairment
If eligibility is established you will receive a code
to log on to the survey site and complete the
study. All information will be kept confidential and
no connection between you and your survey
answers will be made. Participants will be
reimbursed by either a personal check or by a gift
certificate to either Target or Walgreens, and may
choose the method of reimbursement they prefer.
The web-based assessment contains a set of two
surveys and will take approximately one hour to
Please click on the link below and you will be
directed to a short pre-survey to determine
This study is conducted by the Washington
University Program in Occupational Therapy in
collaboration with Paraquad, Inc. This research is
funded by the National Center for Medical
Rehabilitation Research at the National Institutes
of Health and the National Institute on Disability
and Rehabilitation Research at the US Department
of Education

DeafBlind Communicator Coming Soon! - Update
                 by Mike Reese
 (Source: email newsletter from Jim Halliday of

The Summer issue has just recently come out,
along with great news! The Deaf-Blind
Communicator (DBC) will definitely be making its
debut in sales sometime this Fall! According to
Jim Halliday, the reason for its delay in
completing its market testing was that the testers
suggested that the DBC’s functionality be further
simplified for it to become more easy to use,
especially for some deaf-blind persons who might
not otherwise be technology-savvy as others may
be. This change would further encompass even
more potential deaf-blind customers who wish to
purchase a DBC for the primary purpose of
communication with the world. If you wish for
further information, please visit the Humanware
website (indicated in the Resources List
elsewhere in this issue) or contact them via

        Free Cane Program Offered by NFB
                 by Melanie Bond
(Editor’s Note: The following article was
forwarded to me in an email from Melanie.)

The NFB is giving out free white canes to all blind
people. If you need help filling out the form please
let me know. Also let everyone know of this great
opportunity. My Center provides cane training to
those needing it. These are the best canes for a
blind person to use and will be required in my
program from now on. The cane should come
somewhere between your chin and nose. The
website is:

Beth Koenig
Director of Deaf Blind Services
Orange County Deaf Advocacy Center
2960 Main Street A100
Irvine, CA 92614
                  Member News

Our very own Scott Davert was featured in the
August 25, 2008 issue of HKNC’s newsletter, the
In Touch. Here is an excerpt of the article:

"Filming at HKNC"

Videographer, Dwight Benedict is a 2nd grade
teacher here in Port Washington. Because
opportunities for the students to go on field trips
into the community are limited, he uses video to
bring the community into the classroom! He has
currently received a grant to make a video about
HKNC since his students this year will be reading
about Helen Keller. The main message he would
like to emphasize to the children is that people
who are deaf-blind are people first and have many
of the same dreams as sighted hearing people - to
live as independently as possible and have a
good quality of life. He will be videotaping
interviews with staff and students in and around
the Training Building. Scott Davert, who is
completing his internship in the Technology
Department, recently spent some time with
Dwight discussing his accomplishments and
goals. Scott showed the camera how he accesses
the weather report on the computer with both
Braille output and voice, how he uses his GPS
and BrailleNote to know where he is on a city bus
and how cool it is to flip open his white cane!
Wanted: DB Poets, Writers, Illustrators, Sponsors!
               by Melanie Bond

SHI-M=DB is exploring the possibility of putting
together a chapbook of poems written by DB
people to sell as a fundraiser for SHI-M=DB.
Friends and families of DBP and SSPs are
welcome to contribute poems also. Regardless of
whether you write in ASL, PSE, English or
Hispanic, I will work with you to help your poems
be the best they can be! The best poems are
those written from the heart. If you're interested in
contributing a poem or two or more (send them all
so that we can pick out the best ones), please e-
mail them to Melanie Bond at

If we have any artists or illustrators, we'd love to
hear from you too! There's nothing more beautiful
than seeing illustrated poetry. Let's all pull
together to make our first poetry chapbook a
fundraising success! If we are successful with
this fundraiser, we may continue to do this every
year or two!

One more special request. If there are any
sponsors out there who would be willing to
help cover the cost of printing these poetry
chapbooks, I would be tremendously
grateful. This will help us to be more
successful raising funds for SHI-M=DB!
Let's make a poetry book, one that we can be
proud of!

One last thing: If you do not have access to e-
mail, please send your poems to me via snail
mail at:

Melanie Bond
415 S. Hampton St.
Bay City, MI 48708

Thank you!
Melanie Bond

      Let’s Make This Newsletter Go Green!
           by Mike Reese and Jill Gaus

Let’s all help our environment! With our economy
and limited resources every which way, it
becomes even more important to become more
environment-friendly. Since almost all of us in
our readership have internet access, turning this
newsletter into an electronic format would most
certainly save a lot of trees, as this would mean
less hardcopies to be printed and mailed. This
would also put less of a dent into our
organisation’s account, as it is getting
increasingly more expensive to print them, label
them, and mail them out.
So if you only need just the electronic copy, then
let Jill Gaus know that you want to do your part in
saving our environment by requesting not to have
a hardcopy mailed to you.

Thank you all for your cooperation – let’s GO
GREEN! (and this is the only time I as a die-hard
U of M fan would ever say these two words! HA)

               Mark Your Calendar!


SHI-M=DB Open Board Meeting/Socials –
scheduled for Saturday, 8 November, 2008 at
Madonna University, 36600 Schoolcraft Rd.,
Livonia, MI 48150 (NW corner of Schoolcraft/I-96
and Levan Rds). In order to attend this event,
please be sure to RSVP a month in advance to Jill
Gaus at or 517.764.6178
V/TTY/VP. For a dish to pass, please contact Mike
Reese via email at

  Call for Interpreters to Attend November Open
                   Board Meeting
            by Mike Reese and Jill Gaus
Are you an interpreter or do you know an
interpreter who may be interested in acquiring
experience in Deaf-Blind Interpreting? An
opportunity for this will be provided at the next
SHI-M=DB Open Board Meeting on Saturday, 8
November 2008 at Madonna University, Livonia,

For further information, please contact:

      Jill Gaus                 Beth Kennedy
517-764-6178 V/TTY            (989) 774-2725 (V/TTY)

For a dish to pass, please contact Mike Reese via
email at

               Topics in Next Issue

All members of the SHI-M=DB readership are
welcome to submit any articles that may be of
interest to the Deafblind community, locally or
nationally. Even articles that are Deaf/Hard-of-
Hearing-related, blind-related, or citizen-related
are welcome as well. To submit, please send an
email to Mike Reese, Editor, at

very hard to raise funds for the organization, and
a huge expense is the printing costs of the
newsletter issues. If you have e-mail access, it
would help to greatly reduce such a cost to have
as many members receive the newsletter issues
via e-mail distribution. To participate in the e-mail
distribution list, please send an e-mail to Mike
Reese. Thank you so much for your
understanding and cooperation!

American Association for the Deaf-Blind (AADB)
8630 Fenton Road
Silver Spring, MD 20910-3803
TTY: 301.495.4402 Voice: 301.495.4403
Fax: 301.495.4404   Email:

American Federation for the Blind
11 Penn Plaza, Suite 300
New York, NY 10001

Helen Keller National Centre (HKNC)
Contact: Laura J. Thomas – Regional
485 Avenue of the Cities
Suite #5
East Moline, IL 61244-4040
309.755.0018 (Voice/TTY/VP)
309.755.0025 (Fax)
Catherine Papish, Admin. Asst –

175 Mason Circle
Concord, CA 94520
Michigan Assistive Technology Exchange
(AT Xchange)

Michigan Commission for the Blind
DeafBlind Unit
P.O. Box 30652
Lansing, MI 48909
Cindy Caldwell
800.292.4200 (Voice) 888.864.1212 (TTY )
517.335.5140 (Fax)

The Ultimate Disability Guide

To add a Deafblind-, blind-, or deaf/hard-of-
hearing-related resource to this list, please submit
all pertinent information, including a brief
summary of what the resource is about, to Mike
Reese, Editor, at Thank
SHI-M=DB             Free Matter for the
3123 Catalpa Drive   Blind
Jackson, MI 49203