MINNESOTA BULLETIN

Quarterly Publication of the
National Federation of the Blind of Minnesota, Inc.
100 East 22nd Street
Minneapolis, Minnesota 55404
Voice: (612) 872-9363
Web site:
www.nfbmn.org

Tom Scanlan, Editor

E-mail tom.scanlan@earthlink.net

Volume 69, Number 2, Fall 2004

WE ARE CHANGING

WHAT IT MEANS

TO BE BLIND

Table of Contents

Les Affaires
It's Not That Way Now
Science Camp Is Cool
Light-Rail Comes to Minneapolis: NFB ofMinnesota on the Scene
A Report from the Minnesota Library forthe Blind
New Training Program for State Servicesfor the Blind Staff
Annual Convention Minutes
Convention Alert!

Les Affaires

By Joyce Scanlan, President

On November 14, I received a phone call from MaryHartle-Smith, a former resident of Minnesota now living in Arizona, whoasked if I remembered "what anniversary this was." After thinking hardfor a few seconds, I said, "Yes, this is the twenty-fifth anniversary ofthe Society election," a significant event in Federation history, the dayon which the local agency serving blind Minnesotans was forced to carryout a court-ordered election of its board of directors. Judge Richard J.Kantorowitz of the Fourth Judicial District of Minnesota, after hearingevidence of how the Minneapolis Society for the Blind, now Vision LossResources (VLR), had violated state law and discriminated against blindpeople by excluding them from membership and participation as providedunder its own bylaws, had decreed that VLR must hold a special election ofits board of directors pursuant to those bylaws. When that election wasover in November of 1979, the Federation had elected eight members to theVLR board of directors.

The election followed several months of gatheringproxies and vigorous campaigning for support from throughout the entireUnited States. Needless to say, that election finally brought closure toa lengthy period of gentle requests for participation on the VLRpolicy-making board, attempts to play by VLR's rules as stated in its ownbylaws, futile negotiation with VLR officials, and ultimate litigation. The event definitely called for a major celebration. Federationistsgathered at Murray's Restaurant in downtown Minneapolis to enjoy dinnerand raise a glass or two of champagne to express our delight in what wehad accomplished. Other patrons at the restaurant seemed to sense ourjoyous frame of mind and contributed rounds of drinks and bottles of wineto liven our festivities.

In 1970 VLR had no blind people at all on its board ofdirectors. At our semiannual convention that year, the Federation adopteda resolution to call upon VLR to put three blind people on its board. VLRrefused. Those were the days when women and racial minorities all overthe country were seeking representation on boards of agencies providingservices to their groups. Why should it be different for blind people? We met with VLR officials numerous times over the next two years todiscuss problems sheltered-shop workers were having and the lack ofmeaningful representation of blind people on the VLR governing board. Welearned that Stan Potter, Director of State Services for the Blind, hadmade a recommendation when VLR was reviewed for reaccredidation by theNational Accreditation Council for Agencies Serving the Blind and VisuallyHandicapped (NAC) that VLR have some blind people on its board. DespiteStan Potter's recommendation or the Federation's plea, VLR continued onits merry way. Later on, VLR hand-picked three blind people to join itsboard of directors. They were people who could be controlled by VLR withno loyalty whatsoever to the Federation or other blind people.

At one of our many meetings with VLR officials andtheir attorney, we were told that we should follow the VLR bylaws and pay$1 to become members of the organization. Upon reviewing the bylaws, welearned that in fact we could join the membership of VLR and participatein its annual meetings and be involved in the election of its board ofdirectors. Several of us did exactly that; we submitted one dollar andlooked forward to attending the next membership meeting in early 1972.

Unfortunately, when we raised questions at thatmeeting the chairman abruptly adjourned the meeting, even cutting offtheir featured speaker. Of course, this was the end of the membershipyear, and to continue our involvement we all had to pay membership duesagain. Then, probably in the belief that blind people couldn't afford itand would be kept out, VLR raised its dues to $5. Nevertheless, severalblind people did pay the $5. VLR's next step was to expel all those blindpeople who had paid the $5 membership fee. VLR claimed to have amendedits bylaws several years earlier to raise its dues or to drop itsmembership or something, but it was soon discovered that VLR had neverfiled this purported bylaw amendment. The change could not be implementeduntil it was filed with the proper officials.

In September of 1972, a lawsuit on behalf of thosefive or six blind people whose dues had been rejected was filed anddiscovery began. We learned that only the dues of the knownFederationists were returned. Depositions were taken on both sides, andthe trial took place five years later. The decision was primarilyfavorable to us but was appealed to the state Supreme Court by VLR. Thefinal decision came in the summer of 1979 with the judgment that VLR hadviolated state law and had discriminated against the five or six blindpeople by treating them differently from other members. The judge orderedVLR to abide by its bylaws and open its membership to anyone in thecountry who paid one dollar. An election of the entire board would beheld and anyone who paid $1 could vote. Proxy voting and cumulativevoting would be allowed, as provided by VLR's own bylaws in effect inearly 1972 before its attempt to eliminate the blind members. So there wehad it--an opportunity to gather votes for our slate of nominees for theVLR board.

Weird stuff took place during the national campaign. Because we were receiving threatening phone calls, we had the calls tracedand discovered that VLR supporters were making those calls. When wereceived such a call, we were supposed to dial a certain number and hangup so the call could be traced (this was long before Caller ID existed). This meant that the person who called couldn't disconnect the call. Itwas interesting to pick up the receiver and hear them trying to figure outwhy they couldn't disconnect their call. We had counsel from the policedepartment to travel around the city in groups to be less likely to beaccosted by VLR supporters. VLR bought scurrilous ads in the papers andon radio to frighten the public into supporting them. VLR director, JesseRosten had great fun frightening blind people and the public about all theterrible things that would happen if the Federation were to win theupcoming election. With all their expensive ads and extensive outreach totheir huge network of supporting agencies around the country, VLR spentover $150,000, while the Federation spent less than $5,000. In the end,we won eight seats on their board, when we had asked for only three backin 1970.

VLR evidently felt victorious for having retained themajority of members on its board, 28 out of 36. Nonetheless, theirelation was temporary, for after the election, Director Jesse Rosten askedfor a three-month leave of absence and was out of circulation fromapproximately March through June of 1980. He apparently needed some timeto recover his mental health. After he returned, he stayed until themiddle of September, 1980, when he "resigned" from his position. JesseRosten was a mean-spirited, pugnacious fellow who had done little toendear himself to either his VLR colleagues or the blind community;everyone seemed thoroughly relieved when he was gone. In truth and infact, we have never heard from Jesse Rosten since he left VLR.

The national NFB convention was held in Minneapolis inJuly, 1980, and a major feature was a march on VLR by the entireconvention. The original plan approved by the police was to march fromthe hotel to VLR at Lyndale and Franklin and gather on the sidewalk there. However, when the police saw the size of the crowd, they completely closedoff Lyndale in front of VLR and rerouted traffic. The march receivedexcellent radio, TV, and newspaper coverage, and the police said it wasone of the best-organized and best-behaved demonstrations they had seen.

In November of 1980, after Rosten had made his hastydeparture, the NAC people came to Minneapolis for their annual membershipmeeting. The NAC people had been invited one year earlier to hold ameeting here when VLR had felt like a winner. Now, after a brief year hadpassed, things were quite different. Eight Federationists had beenelected to the exclusive VLR board and were asserting theirforward-looking philosophies at board meetings. And the feisty VLRdirector, Jesse Rosten, who had done everything imaginable to antagonizehis own supporters at VLR and everyone in the public (especially membersof the National Federation of the Blind), was gone.

That was the year of the television show Dallas whenJ.R. Ewing had been shot, and the question left hanging over the summerhad been "Who shot J.R.?" For one of our NAC songs that fall, we sang asa round to the tune of Frére Jacques, "Who got J.R. (Jesse Rosten)?" Itwent like this:

Who got J.R.? Who got J.R.?
Where did he go? We want to know.
We've come a long, long way and we want to know today,
Who got J.R.? Who got J.R.?

That NAC march and our famous song bring backfond memories for all of us who participated in the NAC-tracking ofNovember, 1980.

After serving two years on the VLR board, the eightFederationists decided not to seek re-election. The board majority haddemonstrated that they were unalterably entrenched in their old-fashionedways of thinking and behaving. Any chances of movement toward a moreenlightened approach to serving blind people seemed remote or unlikely. The board rejected any suggestion that change might be the least bitbeneficial. Board members were expected to vote in full support of anymotion made by VLR management without providing requested information orresponding to any questions. They were simply not regarded as an integralpart of the governing body. While such unequal treatment was probably notin compliance with state law, as already evidenced by the previous courtdecision by Judge Kantorowitz and the state Supreme Court, it seemed thatthere were far better directions for Federationists to channel theirenergies to yield far broader influences in improving the lives of blindpeople throughout this entire region. Personal energy and constructiveand forward-looking ideas were being wasted on a group of people who sawtheir work as charitable donations to benefit their own egos or their taxreports. They had no respect for, nor did they wish to hear from anyonewho might feel differently. Why waste any more time on that effort.

The Federation firmly believed that changes wereneeded in the blindness field in Minnesota. Throughout the seventies, wehad been successful in building up much public support throughout ourregion. It seemed far more constructive to direct energy to the broaderpublic and carry out a full-fledged public relations campaign to educatethe broader community about blindness. So that is exactly what we did.

We began publishing a newsletter calledBlindside, which promoted our positive beliefs aboutblindness, and circulated it far and wide. The articles were upbeat andwere accompanied by drawings depicting the theme of the article. Officespace in the Chamber of Commerce building in downtown Minneapolis locatedus in the heart of a large metropolitan area, where we could participatein relevant community activities. We hired a person to direct oureducational programs who rallied the entire membership to reach out to thepublic to do speaking engagements, to advocate for individual blind peopleand their families who might be having problems related to blindness, andto find creative ways for the Federation to bring our message concerningblindness to everyone who might be interested. We assisted many blindindividuals who were seeking innovative orientation-to-blindness trainingin finding such training outside the state. This approach proved far moreproductive than the narrow focus of working with a single agency whichpreferred to remain in the Dark Ages, rather than make constructivechanges acceptable in more modern times.

After several years, the then Minneapolis Society forthe Blind had lost so much public support and respect that it made severalattempts to divert attention from its past by changing its name and sayingit had mended its ways. When those attempts failed, it was taken over bythe St. Paul Society for the Blind and the combined agency assumed itscurrent name of Vision Loss Resources (VLR).

In 1986, a new training program to offer blindMinnesotans a comprehensive training option was incorporated. Blindness: Learning in New Dimensions(BLIND) opened for business on January 4, 1988, and for the firsttime in history, Minnesota residents had a truly meaningful choice intraining programs. Created by blind people, and required by its bylaws tobe governed by a board of directors composed of a majority of individualswho are blind, the BLIND programs have gained broad acceptance inMinnesota, the United States, and throughout the world. Hundreds of blindpeople of all ages have selectedBLIND as their preference fortraining, and their lives have been greatly enriched by making thatchoice.

So, after twenty-five years of involvement in thefield of blindness, what have we learned? How have we benefited? Howhave blind people benefited?

First of all, we have learned a great deal aboutourselves and what we can do as individuals and as an organization with areal purpose and a vibrant philosophy to guide our actions. Before 1979when the Federation won a court decision to force the local agency servingblind people to treat blind people fairly by applying their governingbylaws equally and without discrimination, VLR was the only show in townand had everything its way. Since then, another voice--that of theNational Federation of the Blind--has come forth with a positive and morerealistic approach to blindness. The voice of the charitable do-gooderhas been overshadowed by blind people with actual experience in theirdaily lives to prove that blindness is not automatically fraught withinsurmountable limitations. Blindness does not necessarily cause peopleto live miserable and unproductive, dependent lives. Federationists havelearned a far more constructive approach, one that says "you can do much"and "you have choices." In fact, thousands of blind people are livingproof that with proper training and the opportunity to apply that trainingin their daily lives, blindness can definitely be reduced to the level ofa nuisance or just another characteristic. We are not handicapped. Weare simply blind, without physical eyesight.

Today, all of us who ascribe to the Federationperspective on life are doing well. We know we can accept challenges andpush back unreasonable boundaries created for us by a misguided societyand ward off the gatekeepers who would block our progress. When a localor state service-providing agency decides to ignore its mission and eitherabandon a useful service or ignore some federal regulation in itsservices, the Federation will be there to call attention to the matter andto advocate for the highest level of service we can get from any agency.

Perhaps the most outstanding result of our experiencein the VLR efforts of more than two decades ago is that the Federationspirit is even stronger and more vibrant today than it might have been inthe past. We have the energy and the will to undertake difficult andchallenging problems, and to proceed with that spirit that says, "We arenot afraid of a difficult issue; we know we will work hard to resolve thematter until we have won." Our lesson from this period of our historyconfirms our capacity to work together with unity, genuine concern for ourbrothers and sisters who are blind, and a firm determination to succeed. We will look forward to a productive future in which we share fully thebenefits of the community, knowing that we have contributed our talentsand abilities to make it happen.

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It's Not That Way Now

By Judy Sanders

(Editor's Note: This is the winner of the 2004 MetroChapter essay contest.)

It's the fall of 1965 and my stomach hurts! I'mleaving for college where there are twenty thousand students and, to myknowledge, I am the only blind student.

It's not that I haven't prepared for this. I workedwith the professionals who taught me what I should know about blindness;my orientation and mobility (cane travel instructor) found out where mostof my classes would be and showed me how to go from my dorm to thatbuilding. I have a roommate who is my best friend from childhood. Thishas got to work!

But then I get my schedule--and, horrors! None of myclasses are in the building that I can locate.

The nightmare has begun. I am standing in the wrongbuilding (I was brought there by another freshman who knew about as muchas I did) and I'm worried about missing my very first class. I can thinkof only one thing to do. I get someone to take me to my roommate's classand I ask that she be excused. In tears, I tell her that we must go tothe dean and beg forgiveness for being absent. (I had not yet learnedthat nobody cares if you show up to class.) No one is happy on that day.

Fast forward to October of 2004. I am scheduled togive a speech at a location that is new to me. My first step, afteraccepting the commitment, is to determine if public transportation isavailable. With one phone call I learn that the location can be reachedeasily on one bus. I get directions from the transit operator and nowknow that I will be dropped off right in front of a complex of twobuildings--one of them is the one I want.

I am going to a courthouse that is connected to acounty government center. (In case you are wondering, I am not going tocourt.) The room is located on the seventh floor. Upon entering thebuilding I ask a passerby if I am in the courthouse. She tells me that Iam and directs me to the nearest elevator. I turn right and walk to theend of the hall where my white cane touches the door to the elevator. Ieasily find the button to open the door and enter. To my surprise, theBraille marking indicates that this elevator only goes to the fourthfloor.

While I meditate on how to make the elevator go threefloors higher than it seems capable of doing, another human enters. I askhow I might get to the seventh floor of the courthouse; she informs methat I am in the Government Center. I need to exit the elevator, gostraight down the hall, and I will eventually end up in the courthouse (itjust goes to show you that people with 20/20 vision do not always knowwhere they are.)

Anyway, I follow the new instructions and--yes! There's an elevator that goes to the seventh floor. I make it in time formy big appearance and am even able to take a breath and have refreshments.

What happened in forty years? The short answer is theNational Federation of the Blind. My blindness is the same as it was backin college--I cannot see anything. The Federation teaches me that I canmake choices in how I deal with my blindness. The techniques work but Ihave to believe in them. Through my friends in the Federation, I now knowthat I am free to come and go as I please. I sometimes think I should goto college again--and do it right!

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Science Camp Is Cool

By Jordan Richardson

(Editor's Note: Jordan is the 13-year-old son ofPhillip Richardson and Carrie Gilmer. He attended the 2004 NFB ScienceCamp conducted by the National Center for Blind Youth In Science. Thecenter is a project of the National Federation of the Blind JerniganInstitute, and is operated with support from the National Aeronautics andSpace Administration (NASA) and the Maryland Science Center. It providesa chance for blind youth to participate in science projects they areusually denied in school.)

On July 18, 2004, Amelia King and I got on an airplaneand headed for Science Camp in Baltimore. At first I was a little scaredto leave home for the first time without any parents, but during theflight I got less scared and more excited!

Once in Baltimore, it took us fifteen minutes to getto the National Center. The Center was much bigger and better than Iexpected. We stayed on the fourth floor, which seemed like a hotelconvention area. My room was like a dorm room, but we had our ownbathroom and telephone. It was really cool. Then we went to the HarborRoom and met everybody, and I chose to have a ham sandwich for lunch. Everybody was really nice, and I was happy I had come.

On Monday morning, I woke up and Joe Kleis madewonderful bacon and eggs. After breakfast, we headed to the ChesapeakeBay. We went out on a big boat so that we could go out and do someexperiments to see how healthy the Patapsico River was. The firstexperiment my group did was called a bottom grab. We lowered a largeheavy metal scooper into the water and scooped up some of the bottom. When it came up, it was black and stinky like sulfur. We learned thatthere were bacteria in the river that ate oxygen and exhaled sulfur, whichtook over the river. After all the experiments we did, we found out thatthe river was quite unhealthy. After that, we went farther down the riverand examined some shells. We found mussels and barnacles on these shells. We also learned that an oyster's stomach spins to digest its food. Ithought that being on the boat was fun and that the experiments wereinteresting.

We went back to the Center after our trip to theriver, and Dr. Maurer taught us how to cook hot dogs with a car battery. To do this, you have to plug the charger into the battery with positivelyand negatively charged electrons. Then you plug two wires with coppertips into the hot dog. It works better with nails, because nails are goodconductors of electricity. Dr. Maurer was cool. I was tired that night,so I slept quite well.

On Tuesday, we went to the Naturalist Center. There,we looked at some shells with Dr. Geerat Vermeijj, a marine biologist. Wealso got to touch a full-size, papier-mâché skeleton, as well as differentskulls. My favorite skull to touch was that of the warthog. We alsoobserved a giant clam that was so big that I couldn't wrap my arms all theway around it. In the same room with the clam were a moose antler, anelephant tusk, and brain coral.

On Wednesday morning, Mrs. Rounds (one of theinstructors) locked herself out of her room. She blamed it on a lack ofcoffee, and later, Amelia and I made up a commercial about it. Afterbreakfast, we went to the Science Center. When we got there, we went tothe dinosaur exhibit and saw a Tyrannosaurus Rex skull as big as my7-year-old sister. We got to try excavating for fossils the waypaleontologists do. It was fun to try, but I wouldn't want a job likethat. After that, we went to the dissection room for the sharkdissection. All the sharks we dissected were females, but we found thatonly one of them had babies. We got to cut open the sharks ourselves. Iwas surprised to see that sharks have eyelids and how deep their nostrilswere. I really enjoyed the dissection. After we were done at the ScienceCenter, we went back to the NFB Center, and then to the Materials Center. I tried different talking watches and clocks. There were also Braillewatches and tape players. Then we went to go hang out.

On Thursday, we stayed at the Center. Afterbreakfast, we built door alarms for our bedrooms. We each got to make upour own codes. This will come in handy if my little sister or parents tryto come into my room. MY CODE IS ... oh wait, sorry, I can't tell you. After lunch we had a conference call with Dr. Kent Cullers, who is a blindphysicist. He designed a device that can listen to the stars, and hethinks he has heard extraterrestrial life because he heard some soundsthat were indefinable. I think his job is really cool. After the call,we went to a swimming pool across the street. That pool was really fun! After we got back, we went to the NFB International Braille and TechnologyCenter, where I tried a Voice Note, a Braille Note QT, some Pac-Mates, anda musical keyboard. I liked the QT the best.

Friday was the day we went to the NASA Goddard SpaceFlight Center. Here, we took soil samples and learned how to taketemperatures in the soil with a talking thermometer. At lunch we met fiveblind scientists who work for NASA. They each had different jobs likewebsite designer, someone who works with radio waves, and a telescope lenscap designer. I thought the radio-wave job seemed really cool. Afterlunch, we saw where they test the rockets. The rocket blasts are sopowerful that if you are standing next to a real one, you could have aheart attack for real. I thought this part was really cool! We leftGoddard and went to an Orioles game. The Orioles were playing the Twins,and I've wanted to go to a Twins game for months! And guess what? TheTwins won 7 to 3! When we got back from the game, we went to therecording studio and made our CD. It was a real studio, and it was reallycool! I couldn't believe that the week was over and went so fast!

On Saturday morning, I was awarded the Curfew MadnessAward because one night I broke curfew and talked everyone into staying uplate and telling stories. Then Amelia and I got on the plane to comehome, and I had no nervousness, because I had done this before. I want tothank everyone in the NFB for making this camp possible. It was one ofthe greatest moments in my life.

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Light-Rail Comes to Minneapolis: NFB ofMinnesota on the Scene

By Jennifer Dunnam, Metro Chapter President

On June 26, 2004, (the Saturday just before the NFBnational convention), members of the National Federation of the Blind ofMinnesota's Metrochapter were among the first passengers to ride the long-awaitedlight-rail in Minneapolis. Riders boarded the cars at the northern end ofthe Hiawatha line, just west of Hennepin Avenue on Fifth Street, and rodethe seven miles to the other end at Fort Snelling. The grand opening wasmarked with celebrations at each of the twelve stations along the way,including food, entertainment, and contests.

Robert Vockrodt of the Minnesota Department ofTransportation came to our July Metro chapter meeting and gave us apresentation on light-rail history, present, and future, along with a"virtual tour" of the new Hiawatha Line. He told us that our light-railsystem is patterned after the MARTA in Atlanta (the very trains that someof us used to get from the Hartsfield Atlanta Airport to the MarriottMarquis where the national convention was held). He provided usfascinating history about streetcars in Minnesota, which ran fromStillwater to Lake Minnetonka and stopped running in June of 1954--almostexactly fifty years before the opening of the new light-rail.

When the last four miles on the south end of theHiawatha line opened on December 4, Metro area Federationists were againamong the approximately 87,500 to ride the trains to and from the Airportand the Mall of America.

What Is It Like?

Time. Trains run every seven minutesduring rush hour, ten to fifteen minutes apart at most other times, andevery half hour at night and early morning. The trains stop running alittle after 1:00 a.m. and start up again at 4:00 a.m. Between theLindbergh and Humphrey terminals, train rides are free and run 24 hours aday. TransitLine (612-341-4287) provides exact train schedules; press 55when prompted for the route number. Schedules are also available atwww.metrotransit.org.

Fares. Just as on buses, full fare onthe train is $1.75 during rush hours and $1.25 for other times. If youhave a MetroPass, a GoCard, or a 31-day pass, these will cover your fareon the train. Bus transfers also work as long as used within 2.5 hours. A SuperSaver card will not work. Individual tickets, good for 2.5 hours,as well as 6-hour and day passes, can be purchased at self-service ticketmachines on each of the light-rail stations. The controls and coin/cardslots on the vending machines are labeled in Braille, and an "audio"button can be pressed to have the machine speak the prompts on the screen(no headphones necessary!) Simply keep your ticket with you when youboard the train. Tickets are checked by inspectors at random on the cars,and there is a $100 fine for any rider not holding a ticket.

Trains and Platforms. Some of thestations are in the center of the street, between the two sets of tracks;some are "side platforms," where the sets of tracks are close together andthe platforms are on either side of them. Every station has three sidesof Plexiglas and on-demand heat. Each of the cars has four doorways--twoon each side--and some trains consist of two cars. Each car has 66 seatsand room for 120 standing passengers. Trains can travel as fast as 55miles per hour. An automated voice in the car announces the stops andindicates which side of the car you should exit.

Stations

Following is a list of the stations along the Hiawathaline, with information about location and other aspects of the station.

  • 1. Warehouse District: On Fifth Street between FirstAvenue North and Hennepin; shows pictures of Minneapolis from a hundredyears ago
  • 2. Nicollet Mall: On Fifth Street, between Nicollet andFirst Avenue; Looks like an inverted S-curve; plans are for Neiman Marcusto have an escalator going down to this station
  • 3. Government Plaza: On Fifth Street between Third andFourth Avenue; pictures of and quotes from public figures fromMinneapolis, like Hubert Humphrey, Eugene McCarthy, Walter Mondale, etc.
  • 4. Downtown East, Metrodome: On Fifth Street between Parkand Chicago; a mockup of the Stone Arch Bridge, 25 feet tall with 7arches, each one adorned with a pattern of people who first settled here
  • 5. Cedar Riverside: On Sixth Street, West of 15th Avenue;in the center, on the ceiling, is a depiction of all the constellations.During construction of this station, workers found railroad tracks from100 years ago
  • 6. Franklin Avenue: On Franklin Avenue, between CedarAvenue and Hiawatha; two towers, with stairs and elevators up to thebridge.
  • 7. Lake Street/Midtown: On Lake Street, west of Hiawatha;looks like a big skyway
  • 8. 38th Street: on north side of 38th street, west ofHiawatha; sometimes called the "bungalow station"; most of the structuresin the neighborhood are post-World War II, built for the GI's; the publicart shows old trunks, rug beaters, brooms, fans--items of the period
  • 9. 46th Street: On North side of 46th Street, West ofHiawatha; 37 different buses stop here; there are images of trees in thePlexiglas
  • 10. 50th Street: On South side of 50th Street, west ofHiawatha; trees in the Plexiglas as well as in the fencing
  • 11. VA Medical Center: Near Veterans' Administrationhospital, West of Minnehaha avenue, on north side of Veteran's Drive
  • 12. Fort Snelling: Near General Services Administrationbuilding, southwest of the GSA parking lot
  • 13. Lindbergh (main) Terminal: Two levels below the transitplaza in the airport
  • 14. Humphrey Terminal: Near the Humphrey Terminal off 34thAvenue South
  • 15. Bloomington Central: On 99th street between theBloomington Freeway and Aldrich Avenue
  • 16. 28th Avenue: On 28th Avenue between 81st and 82ndStreet East; 600-space Park & Ride lot!
  • 17. Mall of America: Ground level transit area; take anescalator up to the east entrance to the Mall (Between Sears andBloomingdale's); take an escalator up to the east entrance to the mall.
  • What's Next?

    As funding becomes available, future plans forlight-rail in the Twin Cities include extension of the northern end of theline to 5th Street and 5th Avenue North; construction of a line connectingDowntown Minneapolis and downtown St. Paul; a Southwest Diagonal,connecting Hopkins, St. Louis Park, Eden Prairie, Edina; and a corridorout to Big Lake. Buses remain the "backbone" of the transit system andare planned so that there will be no need to walk more than three blocksfrom bus to train.

    At this writing, with the Hiawatha Line running for alittle over five months, ridership is twice what was projected--with anaverage of 14,000 riders on weekdays and 25,400 on weekends.

    The National Federation of the Blind has a strongrecord of support for mass transit, exemplified by resolutions passed atrecent national conventions urging Congress to support publictransportation options and by the work of local chapters and stateaffiliates around the country to improve public transportation. We in theMetro chapter, like all Federationists around Minnesota, stand ready towork with our transit authority, offering our collective expertise toassist them as they make decisions---be they large or small--that impactthe blind of Minnesota. In this time when public transportation is beingthreatened everywhere, the opening of the light-rail in Minneapolis, thestrong support it is receiving, and the growing support for futureexpansion give cause for optimism--not just in the Twin Cities, but forall of Minnesota.

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    A Report from the Minnesota Library forthe Blind

    By Catherine Durivage, Director, MinnesotaLibrary for the Blind and Physically Handicapped

    (Editor's Note: This report was delivered to the 2004NFB of Minnesota annual convention on October 23.)

    I want to thank Joyce Scanlan for extending aninvitation to me to speak at your conference this year. I was sorry I wasnot able to attend in person last year.

    I want to start by announcing the retirement ofDarlene Arnold, our reference librarian. Darlene came to this library in2002, but has worked for the State of Minnesota and libraries for almost34 years. She plans to do some traveling and volunteering. We hope tofill her position at some point, but probably not until after the first ofthe year. Darlene will be missed.

    Triangle Braille Services is donating a number ofBraille books that are available for loan from this library as well as onWeb-Braille. I want to thank Sharon Monthei for making this possible.

    We have a new web site address. It ishttp://education.state.mn.us/html/intro_mlbph.htm. If you do not findwhat you are looking for on our site, please let us know. It is still awork in progress.

    We recently started loaning descriptive videos. Alist of available titles is located on our web site or you can contact usfor a large print or Braille catalog. Videos are available for two weeksand there is a limit of two videos checked out at a time.

    The Library is participating in a virtual referenceservice called InfoEyes. InfoEyes offers people with visual impairmentsthe ability to communicate with librarians over the internet using screenreaders, text and voice chat and e-mail. You can use this service to askjust about any question, whether it is about this service or somethingentirely different. I want to thank Jennifer Dunham for her assistance indemonstrating InfoEyes at the Minnesota Library Association Conference inOctober. For more information about this new service, visitwww.infoeyes.org.

    We sent out a Customer Satisfaction survey a couple ofmonths ago. We are now in the process of tabulating results, which willbe shared in a future newsletter.

    NFB-NEWSLINE(R) continues to be popular. As acooperative service between State Services for the Blind and the Library,over 635 people have registered to use this telephone newspaper readingservice. NFB-NEWSLINE(R) is currently funded through February 2005 by aLibrary Services and Technology Act grant administered by the StateLibrary Services and School Technology division at the MinnesotaDepartment of Education. Both State Services for the Blind and theLibrary are committed to seek additional sources of funding.

    In cooperation with the Communication Center of StateServices for the Blind, we have been distributing books broadcast on theRadio Talking Book Network. We inventory and circulate these books andwill keep only those not available from the National Library Service(NLS). We also submit cataloging records to the NLS online catalog solibrary patrons in other states can request these books through theirregional library. Interest has been high for these books because in manycases they will not be available elsewhere.

    I know that many of you are interested in knowing moreabout the move to a digital format. The National Library Service (NLS)expects to introduce both a player and digital book by 2008. They havepublished a FAQ brochure about the new format that is available on theirwebsite at http://www.loc.gov/nls/digital.html. You can also call us andwe can send you a copy. This brochure gives you a better understandingabout the new format and issues involved in converting from analog(cassette) to digital format. We will continue to keep you informed asfuture changes are unveiled.

    Thank you again for allowing me to speak at yourconference. I know I might not have included everything that you may beinterested in knowing about, but feel free to contact me personally. Ienjoy hearing from you.

    Contact information:


    Catherine A. Durivage
    Library Program Director
    Minnesota Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped
    388 SE 6th Ave
    Faribault, MN 55021-6340
    Direct: 507-333-4829
    Toll-Free: 1-800-722-0550
    Fax: 507-333-4832
    Email: catherine.durivage@state.mn.us
  • Web:education.state.mn.us/html/intro_mlbph.htm
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    New Training Program for StateServices for the Blind Staff

    By Chuk Hamilton, Director, State Services forthe Blind

    (Editor's Note: This report was delivered to the 2004NFB of Minnesota annual convention on October 23.)

    Thank you for inviting me to come and speak today.

    The theme of your convention is "Opportunities toParticipate", and in that spirit, many of the things I want to report toyou are activities that you, other consumers and consumer groups, staffand interested parties have had an opportunity to participate in.

    First, a bit about staff training. Before I washired, I made it clear to everyone that the training of State Services forthe Blind (SSB) staff was very important to me. Specifically, I wasconcerned about staff training in blindness.

    Therefore, after being appointed in December, 2003,staff training has been one of many projects we have been working on. Youwill recall that earlier this year I circulated a draft Staff TrainingPlan Regarding Blindness and Visual Impairment, consisting of two parts. The first part was intended to provide fundamental information aboutblindness, deaf-blindness and visual impairment to all new SSB staff. Part two was intended to provide certain staff more in-depth trainingunder the blindfold to learn more about the emotional adjustment toblindness, and the alternative techniques available to address visionloss.

    Comment was received from staff, consumer groups(including members of the NFB of Minnesota), and the State RehabilitationCouncil for the Blind. Most, but not all, of the comments were supportiveof the direction we were going. At the June, 2004 meeting of the Council,an amended draft received unanimous support.

    While only a handful of staff was required to attend,all SSB staff was invited in that I felt they could provide usconsiderable feedback on the content. Over 80 staff did attend! Inaddition, members of the Council and consumer groups were invited toattend. State President Joyce Scanlan did a presentation on the NFB. Jennifer Dunnam and RoseAnn Faber, members of the Council as well as NFB,attended both of the two days.

    My presentation was on Cultural Perspectives onBlindness and Disability, Common Barriers to Personal and VocationalIndependence, and SSB's Philosophy of Blindness.

    I reviewed with the attendees several thousand years'history of how blindness has been viewed by society, and the importantevents that have occurred over the last several centuries to improve thelives of blind people. Dr. Maurer touched on some of these events,yesterday, occurring between 1920 and 1940. One of the publishedreferences used was Walking Alone and Marching Together--A Historyof the Organized Blind Movement in the United States, 1940-1990 byFloyd Matson. One chapter was reproduced and provided to participants withpermission of Dr. Maurer's office. Thank you!

    The sum of that material led to several conclusions:

    In summary, the major barrier for blind people isnot the physical causes or condition of blindness. Rather, it is the FEARof blindness, and what we (the sighted and the blind) believe aboutblindness.

    This lead to the section on what seemed to be thebarriers caused by blindness:

    I also used an interactive video (Web based)called "Focus on Ability," a product developed by the Department ofEmployment and Economic Development that consisted of blind and otherpersons with a disability talking about their wants, needs, and barriers.

    The final section, SSB's Philosophy of Blindness, wasthen presented.

    What is a philosophy? One meaning is "a particularsystem of principles for the conduct of life" (Webster's New World CollegeDictionary, Fourth Edition, 2001). In our case it is what we believe aboutblindness and blind people, and it guides our work.

    Why have an agency philosophy of blindness? Because weare an agency serving the blind; we all have beliefs about blindness andblind people whether they have been written down or not; and we wanteveryone at SSB to be on the same page.

    So, what are these beliefs?

    What I have just briefly shared with you tooknearly two hours to present. The whole training took two full days. Wehave started to review the feedback, and one message has come through loudand clear--everyone thought the training was necessary, important and welldone. Certainly there are some things that need to be changed, both incontent as well as in presentation, in that we would normally bepresenting the material to one or two employees at a time.

    As noted above, some employees will participate inwhat we now call "Phase 2" training, intended to provide them morein-depth training under the blindfold to learn more about the emotionaladjustment to blindness, and the alternative techniques available toaddress vision loss. The training will occur at two communityrehabilitation programs, Blindness:Learning in New Dimensions (BLIND) and the Duluth Lighthouse forthe Blind.

    As a new counselor in 1976, I participated in similartraining and it had a profound effect on me. I came to believe at the coreof my being that if I became blind, I could succeed! Certainly it wouldtake a lot more training and emotional adjustment, but I would succeed!

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    Annual Convention Minutes October 22-24,2004

    By Judy Sanders, Secretary

    Many have commented that our 2004 fall convention wasthe best we have had. One of the reasons for this (and there are many)was the active participation of Dr. Marc Maurer, president of the NationalFederation of the Blind. He began by leading a seminar on Fridayafternoon that was open to all. "How To Be the Best FederationistPossible" was the title of this seminar; however, it turned out to be adiscussion of Federation history, an explanation of issues such as theAmericans with Disabilities Act and a chance to get to know Dr. Maurer ona more personal level.

    After a dinner break people were faced with a varietyof choices of how to spend their evening. NAPUB (The National Associationto Promote the Use of Braille) in Minnesota held its annual meeting. Among other things, Nadine Jacobson, president of NAPUB, gave a report onthe upcoming Braille Readers are Leaders contest. To help with thefunding of this year's contest, a motion was made to donate five hundreddollars to NAPUB to be used in meeting contest expenses. NAPUB inMinnesota elected the following officers: president, Kathy McGillivray;first vice president, Tim Aune; second vice president, Melody Wartenbee;secretary, Amy Ragain, and treasurer, RoseAnn Faber.

    The second meeting of the evening was the NationalOrganization of Parents of Blind Children (NOPBC) in Minnesota. This wasa chance for parents of blind children to hear firsthand from blind adultsabout their experiences in growing up; parents can learn from what wasdone wrong and right in past generations. The following people wereelected to office: president, Carrie Gilmer; vice president, NadineJacobson; secretary, Charlotte Czarnecki; and treasurer, Phil Richardson.

    The last meeting of the evening was that of ourResolutions Committee chaired by Jennifer Dunnam. Four resolutions wereapproved for consideration by the convention.

    For those who wanted a break from meeting and forthose who arrived after the meetings there was friendly hospitalityoffered by the Central Minnesota chapter. President Andy Virden and therest of the chapter provided plenty of snacks with a lot of cordialconversation.

    Our Saturday session began with Andy Virden, presidentof the Central Minnesota chapter, leading us in the pledge of allegiance. He paid special tribute to the veterans in the audience. Jennifer Dunnamfollowed the pledge with NFB songs, adding to the patriotic mood.

    Our first substantive item of the morning was thenational report from Dr. Marc Maurer. He urged all of us to attend thenational convention in Louisville, Kentucky for 2005. The Galt House hasbeen remodeled and will be fancier than we remember it.

    Dr. Maurer told us about going to Liverpool, Englandto see if we could have some sort of cooperative joint effort with theBritish organized blind. However, their bureaucracy was too much for us.

    Work on the NFB Jernigan Institute still goes on. Thefinal electrical work is being done. Even though there are loose ends towork on in the building, many activities have already taken place in it. Some of them include technology conferences, "The Possibilities Fair forSeniors" and science camp for blind children and teens. We are going tocall future science camps "The Science Academy." Dr. Maurer describedactivities in the science camp; the older students launched a rocket;unfortunately, the parachute did not deploy which caused some damage. Weare already looking for students for next summer's science program. Forthe first time we have made an internal video. This one is about thecamp.

    We participated in a meeting with people from theJewish Guild for the Blind in New York. This was one example of ourdesire to develop partnerships with agencies for the blind. We broughtthem a medical doctor from Johns Hopkins to talk to the Guild aboutteaching blind people to be blind instead of pretending to be sighted. This is a strange concept for most doctors.

    We are working with nine voting machines in ourtechnology center to evaluate what is the best means of providingnonvisual access to the ballot. Electronic voting devices have becomecontroversial; many states are requiring a paper trail instead ofelectronic voting machines. Our position is that whatever system ischosen must be accessible to us.

    Dr. Maurer described in detail the portable readingmachine that we are building through the Jernigan Institute. We now havea prototype and hope to have the first model developed for sale at ournext national convention. At the end of Dr. Maurer's report, PresidentScanlan presented two checks to the Imagination Fund for one thousanddollars each: one from the NFB of Minnesota and one personal check fromthe Scanlans. Many others have given to this fund, which has been formedto raise money for the programs of the Jernigan Institute.

    Kathy McGillivray, one of our active members fromMinneapolis and the director of the Office for Disabled Students at BethelCollege, talked to us about not missing opportunities that may come ourway. One such opportunity came when she traveled to Ecuador with herchurch to work at a camp for disabled children. She classified heropportunities into three areas: the first was to have fun. She tried newfoods, learned about a new culture to her, and getting to know the people. There was an opportunity for exploring work-related issues. She wonderedif it was a chance for the students she works with at Bethel to increasetheir awareness of themselves. She determined that she would notrecommend this particular camp. The third opportunity was to deal withthe challenges that she felt her blindness imposed on her. She wasworking in an unstructured environment and she did not know much Spanish. Kathy learned valuable lessons about herself. She learned that she wantsto work for systemic change; she wants to create more permanent changethan these camps seem to bring about. She also recognizes the importanceabout working with effective leadership to really accomplish something. Lastly, she learned that, although the leader of this program was blind,not all blind people have the same philosophy of blindness that we in theFederation share.

    Jordan Richardson was one of the participants in thefirst Jernigan Institute's science camp. He described various experimentsperformed by the junior-high students. They even learned from Dr. Maurerthat they could cook hot dogs using a car battery. He had the chance tomeet and talk with a blind marine biologist and a blind physicist, amongothers. Jordan also gave us his introduction to blindness speech that heuses at his school. Speakers like Jordan will ensure that the nextgeneration of adults will be ready to accept blind individuals withoutworrying about what we may or may not see.

    Catherine Durivage, director of the Minnesota StateLibrary for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, gave us the latest newsfrom the library world. Among other things, she told us of the popularityof NFB-NEWSLINE® but warned us that funding for the project runsout in February of 2005.

    "Special Education in Minnesota Today" was presentedby Jean Martin, director of the Minnesota Resource Center for the Blind inFaribault. She brought us up to date on her work to make standardizedtest materials more accessible to blind children. She and her committeehave been successful in insisting on tests that require all students(blind or sighted) to explain their answers instead of drawing graphs. Her resource center is working on a new initiative with optometrists tomake sure they know how to explain an eye condition to the families andeducators and to blind children themselves. She also is urging them tounderstand the value of Braille; she tells them that she does notprescribe glasses; they should not prescribe print or Braille. They haveincreased the number of orientation and mobility instructors by sendingsome vision teachers to the Pennsylvania School of Optometry for training. One blind person was to be trained but she was not able to finish thecourse because of personal circumstances. There is an assistivetechnology work group that is making a five-year plan so that every blindstudent will have appropriate technology as a part of their education.

    John Neenan, from U.S. Bank, spoke to us aboutreceiving help to make his bank more accessible. His job is to make theirsoftware user friendly to us. They are committed to working directly withus to make this happen.

    Our afternoon session began with a reading of a letterfrom Patty Wetterling, candidate for Congress in the sixth district. Sheexpressed her regret in not being able to attend our convention andpledged her support of our organization and its issues.

    We then heard a report from Chuk Hamilton, the newdirector of Minnesota State Services for the Blind (SSB). Much of Chuk'sreport focused on his plans for reinstituting adjustment-to-blindnesstraining for some of its staff. The program will be different than in thepast; it will be done in two phases. Phase 1 will be basic informationabout blindness for all new staff; phase 2 will be adjustment to blindnesstraining lasting four weeks for all new counselors and some others whowork directly with blind customers. The trainees will spend two weeks atBlindness: Learning in New Dimensions(BLIND) and two weeks at the Lighthouse for the Blind in Duluth. The training will be done under sleep shades.

    Another thing, which Mr. Hamilton made clear, was thatan agency has to have a philosophy on which to base its actions. Here isSSB's philosophy of blindness:

    Blindness is a natural part of the human experience, acharacteristic, like the hundreds of others which, taken together, moldeach of us into a unique human being.

    People who are blind are a cross section of society asa whole, mirroring society in every way with the same hopes, interests anddesires, the same dreams, ability and potential as everyone else.

    Most all the physical limitations associated withblindness can be overcome by learning and using alternative techniques fordoing without sight what you would do with sight.

    With appropriate education, training and opportunity,persons who are blind can achieve in the world of work; can be independentin their home and community; can have and take care of a family; can be ataxpaying and participating citizen; and can be in every way acontributing member of society who can compete equally with his/hersighted neighbors.

    Everyone has different dreams and expectations,attitudes and aptitudes, potential and possibilities. So an importantingredient to SSB programs is customer choice.

    SSB's job is to encourage high expectations andindependence and provide the services needed to achieve customer goalswhile respecting informed customer choice. Success depends greatly on theeffort and commitment by the customer.

    David Andrews, chief technology officer for SSB,augmented this report with some remarks. He gave an update on theconversion to digital subcarriers for the Radio Talking Book. Readers mayremember that the money for this conversion came from the 21st CenturyPlan and is waiting to be spent on the right product.

    Hamilton plugged support for the InstructionalMaterials Accessibility Act (the Senate version) because it will enhancethe Communication Center's ability to produce textbooks for blindchildren.

    He gave credit to Representative Dave Knoblach (R. St.Cloud) and the NFB of Minnesota for helping to restore funds to SSB.

    We were pleased to hear from Representative Knoblachand to be able to thank him personally for his help. He talked a lotabout budgets but would not predict whether there would be a deficit. Weare required to live under a balanced budget--unlike the federalgovernment.

    Carrie Gilmer, sometimes better known as Jordan's mom,gave a report on the status of education of blind children in Minnesota. Through a description of the experiences of Jordan's family in trying toget him a quality education, Carrie made the point that there is adefinite lack of uniformity of expectations among educators of the blind. As she met other families, she learned that, while most children werereceiving an adequate academic education, children were not learning to beindependent normal kids. SSB counselors claimed that young blind adultscould not even make toast. She credits the Buddy Camp at BLIND forhelping Jordan discover that it was normal and okay to be blind. She nowbelieves that the real experts about blindness are blind peoplethemselves. She also recognizes that parents can have a great deal to sayabout their child's education and parents have allies through the NFB.

    NFB-NEWSLINE(R) is the opportunity for blind personsin the United States to read over 100 newspapers and magazines by usingtheir touchtone telephones. The local sponsors who pay for and administerthis service in Minnesota are SSB and the Library for the Blind. JenniferDunnam reviewed what material is available on the system and talked abouta mentorship program, which is being developed to teach people how to usethe system. This is a cooperative effort between the NFB of Minnesota andSSB. We must also explore how this system will be funded in 2005 and oninto the future.

    Shannon Childrey, a member of our RiverBend chapter,is an example of someone who is doing something we do not expect a blindperson to do. Shannon is a junior-high football coach. He brags that thetown has reached the 21st century; his team has a blind coach and a girlplaying on the team. The girl is his daughter, Melanie. She serves asthe water girl. Shannon says that the key to his success is real desire. He found a way because he had the fortitude to stick with it until he gothis chance.

    Hearing fromBLIND students has become ahighlight of our conventions. They inspire us to know what is possibleand that our dreams come to fruition with hard work. When Brandon Ballfirst became blind he had only one problem. Who would take care of him? Now his training is almost completed and he is a part-time college studentwhile he completes it. Now he makes the same decisions as anyone: shouldhe cook Italian or Chinese; should he do his paper right away orprocrastinate? It took Mike Sahyun eight years to realize that he wasblind and needed to learn alternative techniques to be successful. He nowknows that he can make doors open for himself and having control overone's life is a good thing. Jason Holloway came here from San Francisco. He is president of his Federation chapter in that state. He receivedencouragement from other Federationists who urged him to explore attendingan NFB training center before he went to law school. He met Shawn Mayoand was convinced that he could benefit from such training. He says hisonly worry is facing a Minnesota winter.

    The highlight of any NFB convention is the banquet. With Dr. Marc Maurer as our national representative, we anticipated a veryspecial banquet address--and we were not disappointed. Often we areinspired by stories from our leaders about how they came to know the valueof the organized blind movement. These stories are encouraging because wecan usually find something in them with which we can identify. Dr.Maurer's address reminded us that it is our spirit, dreams andtenaciousness that give us the wherewithal to work as hard as we do. Healso broached an unusual topic for a banquet address: fundraising. Thisis not something that most of us want to think about. But Dr. Maurer tiedthe unpleasant subject of fundraising to power; if we want a better lifefor blind people we must find the means to keep our Jernigan Institutealive; we must find the means to keep our advocacy alive; we must find themeans for our own survival.

    It was appropriate that this speech was followed byrequests for us to join or increase our pledges to the PAC plan. PACstands for Preauthorized Check Plan and enables us to give one set amounteach month to our national treasury. With our permission, it isautomatically deducted from our checking account. Joyce Scanlan and Dr.Maurer urged us to sign up that very evening. Several people did so.

    Andy Virden, master of ceremonies for the banquet,introduced Sheila Koenig to present our scholarship awards for 2005. AmyRagain, a freshman at North Central University, received ascholarship of $1,000.00 and Mohamed Samaha, a high school senior who isalready taking courses at the University of Minnesota, received $500.00.

    Jennifer Dunnam was called upon to present the winnerof the Metro chapter's essay contest. A $50.00 prize was awarded to JudySanders for the winning essay; a random drawing for the other $50.00 washeld among all the entrants--and Judy won again.

    Many Federationists stayed up late to enjoy thehospitality of our Central Minnesota chapter and to visit with old and newfriends.

    Early Sunday brought Federationists together for theBLIND breakfast. Shawn Mayointroduced the staff, students and board members to the crowd. Shebrought us up to date as to the activities that are ongoing at thetraining center.

    Energy remained high for our Sunday morning session. Steve Jacobson reviewed the provisions of the Help America Vote Act andthe activities that are taking place in Minnesota to comply with it. Steve will represent us on the committee with the Secretary of State'soffice that will oversee compliance of this Act with regard to people withdisabilities. Nonvisual access for blind voters is required by theelections in 2006. We must be sure that we do not allow controversialmatters such as a required paper ballot to keep us from reaching thisgoal.

    Andy Virden talked to us about the concerns of seniorswho become blind and do not know how they can participate in the variedactivities that are out there. St. Cloud has one of the largest seniorcenters in the state. The Whitney Center has many activities but thereare not enough disabled people involved in the activities. We must bevigilant in educating them about their own capabilities so they know theydo not have to give up. Toward that end, theCentral Minnesotachapter is cooperating with SSB in a women's activity at theWhitney Center to showcase assistive technology.

    "Students, Staff and the Roof" was an item presentedby Shawn Mayo, director of BLIND. She described the structural-discoveryapproach to learning that goes on at the center. It means that we are notstudents who need to keep coming back for training, and we learn how toask questions that allow us the freedom of discovery without aprofessional at our side at all times. The center is undergoing somemasonry work on the roof. Students had the chance to work around thescaffolding, drilling and hammering. One very important factor to thesuccess of the students is the mentoring that occurs between students andsuccessful blind people. That's why the partnership between BLIND and theFederation is so vital.

    Jennifer Dunnam, chair of the Resolutions Committee,presented four resolutions. The first dealt with compliance with the HelpAmerica Vote Act and authorization of funds for that purpose. The secondresolution described the lack of accessible technology at SSB for itsblind employees and urged us to take action to see that they solve thatproblem. The third resolution dealt with the inaccessibility ofself-service kiosks at the airport for checking in to board a flight. Weare urging Northwest Airlines to see that manufacturers of kiosks makethem usable by those who cannot read the screen visually. The lastresolution expressed concerns with the need for public transportationoptions in Minnesota. All resolutions passed unanimously and are includedat the end of these minutes.

    An amendment to our Bylaws was adopted to expand ourboard of directors from seven to nine members. In the odd number years,we will elect the president, secretary, and two board members. In evennumbered years we will elect the vice president, treasurer and two boardmembers. To get this started, we would elect two new board members forone-year terms. The amendment passed unanimously.

    The following people were elected to office: vicepresident, Jennifer Dunnam; treasurer, Tom Scanlan; first two-year boardposition, Eric Smith; second two-year position, Pat Barrett; firstone-year position, Jan Bailey; and second one-year position, MaryBethMoline.

    Representatives on community boards reported abouttheir various activities. The following people represent us: JenniferDunnam, vice chair of the Rehabilitation Council-Blind; Joyce Scanlan, amember of Jean Martin's advisory committee to the Resource Center; NadineJacobson, newly appointed to the governance board of the State Academy;and Janiece Duffy, chair of the Site Council for the State Academy for theBlind.

    Our traditional bake auction raised $2,893. No onewas sure if that was a record.

    The convention closed with thanks for all who madethis convention one of our most energetic and productive.

    RESOLUTION A04-01

    WHEREAS, the National Federation of theBlind has worked for many years to secure privacy and nonvisual access forblind voters; and

    WHEREAS, on rare occasions blind votersstill experience difficulties with personnel in polling places notunderstanding the specifics of a blind person's right to assistance in thevoting booth; and

    WHEREAS, the Help America Vote Act (HAVA)requires that every polling place have at least one voting machine thatpermits nonvisual access by the time of the 2006 elections; and

    WHEREAS, federal money is availablethrough HAVA to enable Minnesota to implement the nonvisual accessprovisions, but expenditure of these funds must be authorized by theMinnesota legislature; and

    WHEREAS, during the legislative sessionof 2004 no action was taken regarding the disposition of HAVA funding; and

    WHEREAS, the National Federation of theBlind of Minnesota is in a unique position to help the legislature knowhow best to use the federal funds and is also in a position to help trainelection judges about the voting rights of blind citizens; now, therefore

    BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federationof the Blind of Minnesota in convention assembled this twenty-fourth dayof October, 2004, in the city of St. Cloud, Minnesota that thisorganization urge the Minnesota Legislature to act decisively toappropriate funding so that the requirements of the Help America Vote actcan be implemented in a timely fashion; and

    BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that thisorganization work closely with the Secretary of State's office to ensureappropriate and consistent training of election officials on the rightsunder the law and consideration of privacy of blind voters, and to ensureappropriate implementation of non-visual voting methods required under theHelp America Vote Act.

    RESOLUTION A04-02

    WHEREAS, software that is inaccessiblevia nonvisual means is a significant barrier to blind persons becomingemployed in the modern workplace and reduces the effectiveness of the workof blind employees; and

    WHEREAS, in 1998, understanding the needfor accessible technology for all employees, the Minnesota legislatureenacted Minnesota Statutes Chapter 16C.145, requiring thatall contracts for the procurement of information technology by the stateof Minnesota include nonvisual access standards; and

    WHEREAS, Minnesota State Services for theBlind (SSB) employs qualified blind persons in a variety of positionswithin the agency; and

    WHEREAS, blind employees at SSB have formore than eleven years been unable to access independently SSB's clientinformation system and fiscal management software and have haddifficulties with handling e-mail from remote locations; and

    WHEREAS, this violation of Minnesota lawhas arisen in part because of choices and policies established by theDepartment of Employment and Economic Development, the governmentdepartment in which SSB is located, and to which SSB has contributedsignificant funding for upgrades to computer systems; and

    WHEREAS, several attempts to resolvethese problems undertaken by SSB were prematurely brought to a standstillby governmental restructuring, departmental reorganizations, budgetcutting and staff changes; and

    WHEREAS, potential employers look to SSBfor advice and guidance as to how to make their job sites better suited toblind workers; and

    WHEREAS, members of this organizationhave attempted to encourage and assist with the resolution of theseproblems by participating on a number of committees and by raising ourconcerns in various forums; now, therefore

    BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federationof the Blind of Minnesota in convention assembled this twenty-fourth dayof October, 2004, in the city of St. Cloud, Minnesota, that thisorganization express its serious concern over the inaccessibility ofsoftware essential to performing assigned job duties of blind employees ofState Services for the blind (SSB); and

    BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that thisorganization call upon SSB to make finding a solution to this problem andcoming into compliance with state law a top priority for the agency; and

    BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that whereappropriate, assistance and resources be sought from the Department ofEmployment and Economic Development, since decisions made at that levelhave an impact on possible solutions; and

    BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that thisorganization express its willingness to work with SSB to assist in theresolution of the problem.

    RESOLUTION A04-03

    WHEREAS, Northwest Airlines is the fourthlargest airline in the nation and occupies a majority of theMinneapolis/St. Paul International Airport; and

    WHEREAS, Northwest airlines, like otherairlines, offers self-service check-in kiosks as an option for passengersto check in for their flights; and

    WHEREAS, these check-in kiosks offergreater convenience for those who can see the screens but are not usableby blind people; and

    WHEREAS, the only alternatives to usingthe kiosks are either to check in using the internet before arriving atthe airport or to check in with an agent at the counter--which is becomingincreasingly less available; and

    WHEREAS, accessing the internet is not anoption for many blind people because of lack of assistive technologyand/or lack of training; and

    WHEREAS, technology exists today thatallows the screen display on information kiosks to be rendered via speechoutput, and is currently in use on many automatic teller machines,electronic voting machines, ticket distribution kiosks, and otherpoint-of-sale devices; and

    WHEREAS, the trend toward emphasis ontechnological methods of service provision will in effect shut out thoseunable to read visual displays if alternative access methods are notincorporated; now therefore

    BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federationof the Blind of Minnesota in convention assembled this twenty-fourth dayof October, 2004, in the city of St. Cloud, Minnesota, that thisorganization urge Northwest Airlines to require the manufacturers of theself-service check-in kiosks to incorporate nonvisual means of access intothe kiosks.RESOLUTION A04-04

    WHEREAS, public transportation is aprimary means of independent travel throughout our nation by blind people;and

    WHEREAS, recent cuts in Greyhound busservice have affected the ability of blind people to travel to certaindestinations within our state and elsewhere, even thoughsome of the gaps have been filled on a temporary basis byother private providers; and

    WHEREAS, there are currently a number ofproposals for expanding light-rail and commuter rail service and providingadditional bus-based transit options in Minnesota; now therefore

    BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federationof the Blind of Minnesota in convention assembled this twenty-fourth dayof October, 2004, in the city of St. Cloud, Minnesota that thisorganization reaffirms its vigorous support for proposals and policiesproviding for increased funding of public transportation options.

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    Convention Alert!

    Exciting times are coming in NFB conventions. Keepthese in mind as you plan your activities throughout the coming year.

    The Semiannual NFB of Minnesota Convention will beheld in April or May 2005 in the Metro area. Members will receive aletter with details about a month before the convention.

    The National NFB Convention will be held at the GaltHouse Hotel in Louisville, Kentucky from July 2 through July 8, 2005. This is a whole week of friends, fun, and serious business. It is achance to be part of the largest gathering of blind people in the world. The full convention bulletin will be in theBrailleMonitor.

    The Annual NFB of Minnesota Convention will be held inOctober or November 2005 in the Metro area. Members will receive a letterwith details about a month before the convention.

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