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 70, Number 1, Summer 2005

WE ARE CHANGING
WHAT IT MEANS
TO BE BLIND

Table of Contents

Les Affaires

Minnesota Resource Center Blind/Visually Impaired Report

Secret Ballot for the Blind?

Working Long and Prospering Being Blind

It's As Simple As Integrating and Winning a Community Bingo Game

The Best of Both Worlds

Questions

Coming to Terms

Semiannual Convention Report

World's Easiest Quiz

Convention Alert!

Les Affaires

By Joyce Scanlan, President

NFB-NEWSLINE ® came to Minnesota about ten years ago. It was first funded by the NFB of Minnesota, then by State Services for the Blind (SSB) and finally by a federal grant from the Library Services and Technology Act, part of the Museum and Library Services Act. When it became obvious that that funding would soon terminate, we decided to seek more long-term support from the state legislature for the program.

We learned that four states had received NFB-NEWSLINE ® funding through the law providing financial support for the deaf relay services. By reviewing documents from the Public Utilities Commission, we learned about the Telecommunications Access Minnesota (TAM) fund, and we received assurances that the fund was healthy and could fund NFB-NEWSLINE ® without harming the deaf relay service or other programs the TAM fund supports.

At our 2004 NFB of Minnesota convention in St. Cloud, we adopted a resolution setting forth our goal of working on NFB-NEWSLINE ® funding in the upcoming legislative session. Then, on January 26, 2005 we held our annual Day at the Capitol with all chapters enthusiastically present to communicate a very important message. NFB-NEWSLINE ® funding was one of our three agenda items for the session. We were looking for the best authors we could find, those who would give us full support in bringing the bill to passage in time to keep NFB-NEWSLINE ® running. We found that the interest in NFB-NEWSLINE ® and the support to keep it alive was overwhelming.

The next step was to ask a friendly legislator to request that such a bill be drafted. Fortunately, we had a model bill to help the Revisor of Statutes prepare a Minnesota bill. While the bill was being drafted, we were busy building support in the blind community. It seemed advisable to include in our bill funding for both NFB-NEWSLINE ® and Dial-in News, another telephone newspaper service offered by SSB since the early 1990s.

The next step was choosing our chief authors. In the Senate, we asked a long-time supporter, friend and President of the Senate Jim Metzen (DFL-South St. Paul). He agreed to carry the bill, but asked us to lay the groundwork and find the necessary support to get the bill through. Co-authors in the Senate were Ellen Anderson (DFL-St. Paul), Bill Belanger (R-Bloomington), Linda Scheid (DFL-Brooklyn Park), and David Kleis (R-St. Cloud). In the House, Jim Knoblach (R-St. Cloud), Chair of the Ways and Means Committee, and a true friend who had helped to keep full funding for SSB during the previous legislative session, became our chief sponsor with Tom Rukavina (DFL-Virginia), Mike Jaros (DFL-Duluth), Tim Wilkin (R-Eagan), and Bob Gunther (R-Fairmont) cosponsoring. The bill was introduced as Senate File 1064 and House File 1214.

Then the real work began.

The following fact sheet became our official handout:

Accessible Electronic Information Service for Blind and Disabled Persons

SF 1064

Metzen; Anderson; Scheid; Kleis; Belanger

HF 1214

Knoblach; Rukavina; Jaros; Wilkin; Gunther

What is it?

An Accessible Electronic Information Service makes it possible for blind individuals to gain access to the information in newspapers at the same time as their sighted colleagues, friends, and family members. Blind professionals, for example, can converse on relevant topics, no longer being under-informed about information critical to their professions or left out at social functions when the latest editorial is discussed. Beyond this, a wealth of other information primarily found in newspapers is also available to the blind on an equal footing, making possible their participation in the life of the community on the basis of equality.

The Internet provides sighted individuals access to thousands of newspapers and magazines with just a quick search. However, newspaper and magazine Web sites often contain only partial contents or require hefty subscription fees. In addition, a blind person needs expensive, special software and training to use a Web browser, and many cannot afford it.

This Accessible Electronic Information Service is the only system that brings the blind so much to choose from at the time when the subscriber wishes to read.

Material is read aloud by clear, computer-generated speech over a standard touch-tone telephone. No special equipment is needed. The service is available wherever a telephone is available, even on-the-go with a cellular telephone.

How does it work?

The State Services for the Blind division of the Department of Employment and Economic Development currently provides the components of an Accessible Electronic Information Service. The service is limited to people who are eligible for services under the Books for the Blind and Physically Handicapped program administered by the Library of Congress and the Minnesota Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (i.e., people who are blind, unable to use standard printed materials as a result of physical limitations, or reading-disabled). The current offerings are:

NFB-NEWSLINE ®, developed and operated by the National Federation of the Blind (NFB, a nonprofit corporation), provides today's, yesterday's, and last Sunday's editions of over 150 newspapers. This assortment includes nationally-prominent newspapers such as USA Today, the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, The Christian Science Monitor, and the Wall Street Journal. Minnesota newspapers are the Star Tribune, the Duluth News Tribune, and the St. Paul Pioneer Press. NFB-NEWSLINE ® also provides magazines such as The New Yorker, The Economist, and AARP. A "local channel" is provided for special information and announcements provided by other organizations such as the National Federation of the Blind of Minnesota, the American Council of the Blind of Minnesota, and State Services for the Blind. NFB-NEWSLINE ® is free-of-charge to readers and has toll-free access statewide. There currently are 650 registered readers for this service.

Dial-in News, developed and operated by State Services for the Blind, provides the Star Tribune, the St. Paul Pioneer Press, and City Pages. Dial-in News also provides detailed daily television listings and movie-theater listings. Dial-in News charges an $18/quarter subscription fee and has toll-free access only within the Metro free-calling area. Statewide access outside the Metro area requires a long-distance call. There currently are 88 registered readers for this service.

What's the cost?

The two services provided by State Services for the Blind have these costs:

The annual cost per reader is less than $100 - less than half the cost of a subscription to just the Star Tribune.

What's the problem?

The NFB-NEWSLINE ® contract is currently funded by a grant from the Minnesota Department of Education under the provisions of the Library Services and Technology Act. However, that grant runs out on April 15. Services for the Blind does not have sufficient funds to continue the contract funding. Therefore, a permanent funding source must be found if blind and disabled people are to continue to have NFB-NEWSLINE ® available in Minnesota.

What's the suggested solution?

This bill establishes permanent funding for this invaluable service by amending Chapters 237 and 248 to provide funding from the Telecommunications Access Minnesota (TAM) fund. The total cost of about $65,000 annually seems an inconsequential amount for such a service to people who cannot read print, and would not take anything away from the $8.6 million TAM access programs for the deaf.

For further information, contact Joyce Scanlan by phone at 612-920-0959 or e-mail at joyce.scanlan@earthlink.net#[ \.

Our strategy was to visit with each member of the committee hearing the bill, hand out the fact sheet, and have Federationists and other interested parties call and e-mail to urge support of the bill as it came up on the hearing schedule. Because NFB-NEWSLINE ® funding was scheduled to end on April 15, we were forced to keep things moving in the legislature. Hearings in the Senate began on March 4, and the bill sailed through to passage by the full Senate on April 11. Every vote in the Senate, both in committees and on the floor, was unanimous--something almost unheard of. Of course, we had a large gathering of blind people in the audience at each hearing, so committee members knew that the bill had sturdy support in the blind community.

In the House, the bill sailed smoothly through the first committee hearing. Although our procedures in the House were the same as in the Senate, things didn't go quite as smoothly when we reached the Regulated Industries Committee, chaired by Torrey Westrom (R-Elbow Lake), who is blind and holds the belief that blind people should pay a fee to use NFB-NEWSLINE ®. Philosophically we might agree with that tenet, but NFB-NEWSLINE ® could not exist in the state with such a requirement, because the contract with the newspaper publishers says that there will be no fee to the users of NFB-NEWSLINE ®. Torrey Westrom had trouble grasping that concept. However, after some negotiation and attaching two amendments to cut NFB-NEWSLINE ® back if TAM funds were inadequate and to sunset the bill in 2010, the bill ultimately passed out of his committee and on to the Ways and Means Committee, where after another discussion in which the rationale for not charging a fee was again fully explained, the bill went on to the House floor on May 17 and again received a unanimous vote.

Because the bill came out of the House in a form different from the Senate, it had to return to the Senate for approval. In explaining the two amendments contributed by the House to his Senate colleagues, Jim Metzen said, "I don't know why they did it, because the blind will still be blind in 2010." The Governor signed the bill on May 24.

SSB Director Chuk Hamilton, who had also given good support to our bill throughout its legislative journey, efficiently prepared the NFB-NEWSLINE ® proposal to be presented for approval by the Public Utilities Commission, the body responsible for administering the TAM fund, at its June 30 meeting. Again NFB-NEWSLINE ® received a unanimous vote.

Yes, we owe thanks to the members of the Minnesota Legislature for their support in providing funding for NFB-NEWSLINE ® as a very meaningful service all of us very much appreciate. They came through when their priorities dealt more with funding state government without raising taxes or causing a government shutdown. Yet they responded to our need in a timely way. We realize how many good friends we have in the Legislature. They know we'll be back in 2010 or sooner to make sure NFB-NEWSLINE ® continues beyond the sunset of June 30, 2010.

So, how did all this come about? When the results are so positive, no one is complaining about the great effort required to get the job done. Once again, Federationists rallied to the cause and put our united efforts together, and once again we have accomplished our goal. Federationists throughout the state responded to the call to come to hearings, to write letters of support, to make phone calls and to send e-mail messages to key legislators. Jennifer Dunnam and Judy Sanders kept our e-mail network busy throughout the session so that everyone would know what the next need was. And everyone eagerly responded. Tom and I spent considerable time visiting legislators, and very frequently we were told "Oh, yes, I've had calls on this." I always responded by saying "In support, of course." And it was always, "That's right." Then I knew my friends were about the business of carrying out Federation work. I knew we would succeed, and we did. Thanks to everyone. Thanks again for collective action. All blind people will benefit!!!

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Minnesota Resource Center Blind/Visually Impaired Report

By Jean Martin, Director, Minnesota Resource Center: Blind/Visually Impaired

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

Good morning, and thank you for inviting me to share information with you on what's happening at the Minnesota Resource Center: Blind/Visually Impaired of the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE).

MDE is experiencing budget restraints as other state agencies are but my responsibilities and activities continue to focus full time on educational services to blind and low vision children and youth in Minnesota.

I am pleased to announce that MDE continues to support the Advisory Committee to the Resource Center: Blind/Visually Impaired. Every year, with input from many sources, including this very valuable advisory committee, we identify priority areas of need and activities to be completed.

The first issue I will address is critical to the Advisory Committee, and many others. The issue is state-wide testing of all students. In response to the "No Child Left Behind Act" all students in Minnesota will be tested in 3rd grade, 4th grade, 5th grade, 6th grade, 7th grade, 8th grade, 10th grade (writing only) and 11th grade (math only). There continues to be a State Test Review Team specific to blind and low vision students. Our primary purpose is to review all test items for item bias for our students. Last year, I said we looked at thousands of test items. As of today, we have reviewed tens of thousands of items. In just September and October, we met for ten full days to review reading and math items.

The Review Team remains very committed to their goals: that blind and low vision students have the opportunity to take the same test as their sighted peers; that no item will be on the test that cannot be transcribed in Braille in a meaningful manner; that the company the test developer chooses to have test transcribed in Braille uses certified literary and Nemeth transcribers and certified proof readers; and that our students receive the appropriate accommodations according to their individual needs.

I also continue to co-manage the interagency agreement between the MDE and State Services for the Blind (SSB) so students in Minnesota can receive Braille at no cost to the district. This year districts have been asked to agree to withhold monies in a centralized account at the MDE, based on their Special Education Child Count. The amount to be withheld is $5.00 per special education child. The amount of $475,000 will be available to SSB this year for this service. If a district chooses not to participate in the centralized withholding account at MDE, that district will be billed for the service by SSB. SSB and MDE staff continue to work together to make this effective and efficient.

MDE partnered with the Pennsylvania College of Optometry in training four teachers of the blind and visually impaired in the area of Orientation and Mobility. We now have approximately twenty certified O & M Specialists working with our students throughout the state.

To date, the Assistive Technology Workgroup has met and is working on developing a five year plan. This group meets and plans activities related to assistive technology. Other state wide workgroups are expected to meet during the year.

September and October have been very busy this year with a lot happening. During the year we hope to plan and provide the Summer Transition Program (STP) and the Family Transition Weekend. For more information on these programs, contact the Minnesota Resource Center: Blind/Visually Impaired at 800-657-3859 or 507-332-5510.

The Resource Center has a lending Library. We are in the process of updating the inventory. I hope to expand this library for parents and families as well as others. If you would like more information on this library contact the Resource Center and ask for Carol.

In ending, I would like to say it is a pleasure working in this field. Sometimes it is a pleasure and a challenge working with families, teachers and others; so that our students receive the services they need to be successful in school and life. Thank you.

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Secret Ballot for the Blind?

By Steve Jacobson

If you have been a voting blind adult for more than ten years, the chances are very good that you never seriously considered the possibility of having a truly private ballot. While we have not allowed the occasional sharing of our voting record with family and friends to prevent us from voting, we now have at hand the real possibility of a secret ballot. What is more, we could see this happen as early as next year. Yet, the path has many twists and turns, and there are still some obstacles before us. It is very important that we as blind people are knowledgeable about the election process, the law, and even about voting systems. Hopefully, the following paragraphs will contribute something to this end by clarifying such common terms as DRE's, paper trails, HAVA, paper ballot systems, and accessible voting machines. In addition, we'll look at what is happening right here in Minnesota.

While there have been voting machines for some time that could theoretically have been modified to be used by blind people, we need to thank Al Gore and George Bush, along with the residents of Florida, for the progress that is being made today. After the very difficult election of 2000, there was a strong move to modernize how we vote in the United States. This intent was put into law in 2002 through the "Help America Vote Act" also known as HAVA. Besides making funds available for voting modernization, this law also set forth the intent that every polling place be made accessible to persons with disabilities. This changed the argument from whether polling places should be accessible to how are they made accessible. It is important for us to remember that we really do not need to justify accessibility at this point because that requirement is already in the law. The question is more one of how do we accomplish it.

During the period between the 2000 elections and the passage of HAVA in 2002, a great deal of attention was concentrated on electronic voting machines that did not use paper. After all, it was paper that caused the difficulties in counting the Florida elections. These machines not only recorded one's voting selections, but they sent the results directly to central counting computers electronically. Since these machines record, count, and transmit votes directly, they were commonly referred to as "Direct Recording Equipment" or DRE's for short. Several models of DRE machines were accessible, so it appeared that we were well on our way toward a secret ballot.

However, some irregularities that were spotlighted in the media involving DRE machines together with controversial comments made by Diebold's chief executive officer resulted in a strong backlash to DRE machines. Government entities that used DRE machines started requiring that there be a paper trail that could be used to count votes manually. Also, some machines provided voters with a sort of receipt that showed how they voted. In addition, many states became reluctant to completely dump their existing system and place all faith in DRE's. Some states, including Minnesota, added a legal requirement that a paper ballot be used to record and count votes. This move did not mean, fortunately, that accessible machines could not be used to mark such ballots.

So where does all of this leave us now? Actually, there has been a good deal of activity over the past eighteen months or so. First, our Secretary of State, Mary Kiffmeyer, established a voting accessibility workgroup to provide input regarding issues surrounding the implementation of the Help America Vote Act. Judy Sanders, Jennifer Dunnam and I have played a part in representing our interests within this workgroup. In addition, many of our members have attended several demonstrations of accessible voting machines here in Minnesota and at our national convention last summer in Atlanta. Our national office has also been active in this area as well which has been helpful to us in Minnesota. Besides some good material on our national website, our International Braille and Technology Center has voting machines that can be compared in one location.

On a very cold day in January of this year, Judy Sanders, Jennifer Dunnam and I had an opportunity to run the voting machine that currently best fits Minnesota's requirements. Since this demonstration took place during the entire day, I am sure that other members tried it out, too. This machine, called the AutoMark, allows ballot information to be displayed on a computer screen in various sizes, colors and fonts and provides a speech interface as well. There is currently some effort being made to also incorporate Braille in some form. A small easy-to-use keypad is used to make selections. Basically, one pair of keys moves ahead and back through the various elections on the ballot while another pair allows the reading of the various candidates or choices within a particular election. A separate single key is used to "select" the desired candidate once located on the list. The volume and the rate of the speech can also be adjusted. After one makes all of their selections, the machine marks the same kind of ballot that is currently used in many parts of Minnesota. This ballot can then be fed through the existing electronic scanners for counting, or can be counted by hand if that is necessary. There are persistent rumors that there may be other voting machines entering the paper ballot market as well.

While we were examining the AutoMark machine, we were visited by the Secretary of State and had an opportunity to discuss voting issues with her for thirty minutes or so. This was a unique opportunity to hear her views and express some of our concerns as representatives of the NFB of Minnesota.

There is already federal funding available to purchase accessible voting machines and to make other modifications to polling places. Approximately $38 million has been allocated to Minnesota, and the state legislature enacted the necessary state law in its past session. The Help America Vote Act requires that accessibility be incorporated into our voting process by the 2006 elections. There is still much work to be done to meet this requirement, and we need to carefully watch for attempts to make changes to the laws already passed. However, it is quite likely that we will have our first opportunity to vote with a truly secret ballot during the next year or two.

We'll need your help, though, to make sure that the issue of accessible voting machines does not get lost among related issues. It is also important that local officials understand that such machines will help many people, not only those of us who are blind. Besides those physical disabilities that are fairly obvious to the public, the kinds of machines that are accessible to us can also help senior citizens, persons having difficulty reading, and even persons for whom English may not be their first language. In time, we will have a secret ballot, and many others will benefit as well.

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Working Long and Prospering Being Blind

By Pat Barrett

(Editor's Note: Pat participates in a Toastmasters Club that meets each week at his place of employment. This is a speech he gave to that club. He got a great evaluation on it, and one of the positive points in the evaluation was that he made good eye contact while giving his speech and reading Braille notes.)

Madame Toastmaster, fellow toastmasters, and guests. Seventy-five percent of the blind persons in this country are either unemployed or underemployed. I consider myself fortunate and am grateful that I am in the minority, and have worked at Express Scripts for over seven years.

I am a big Star Trek fan. Here's something for all you Trekkers out there--live long and prosper. The title of my speech is "Working Long and Prospering Being Blind".

When I use the word "blind," it is a term that covers all degrees of vision loss. Most blind persons, like me, have some remaining sight. I am comfortable with the word "blind." I want to share with you three points that will help more blind persons get jobs. These are: getting quality training in the skills of blindness, competing on terms of equality with sighted peers, and considering the possibilities of what blind persons can do.

I moved to Minnesota from Idaho in 1993 to take a job as a computer instructor and white cane travel teacher at a top-notch rehabilitation training center for the blind called BLIND, Incorporated. BLIND is an acronym for Blindness: Learning in New Dimensions. This facility was opened in 1988, and was formed on the can-do philosophy of the National Federation of the Blind. The NFB is the oldest and largest organization of the blind in this nation. It was formed in 1940, with Minnesota being one of the first states in it.

After four months of my probation on the job, I was told I did not have the caliber of skills they needed to teach at BLIND. A month later, though, I decided to become a student there. I believe that when a door is closed, the good Lord opens up a window for you.

For the next nine months, I took classes in Braille (I'm reading it now from my notes), computer, white-cane travel, and home management. All this training was done wearing the blindfold or sleepshades. The sleepshades are a cheap but valuable tool for training your other senses to be the primary ones if you have some remaining vision. Among the graduation requirements from BLIND were a five-mile graduation walk, and preparing a buffet meal for thirty people while wearing the sleepshades.

Another requirement at the school was rock climbing. This is a real confidence builder. Blind people are not expected to do this by most people. You start out in an indoor climbing facility. The second climb is at Taylor's Falls. I had always wanted to rock climb. There were instructors from BLIND there, and trained climbing instructors as well. They would let you know once in a while when there was a foothold near you and direct you to it with their voice. I felt like Spiderman! I got to the top of the rocks, some sixty feet up, and turned around and lifted up my sleepshades. I was amazed and thrilled that I had climbed that high!

Eighty-five percent of the graduates of BLIND go on to meaningful employment within the first year after graduation. Another thirteen percent go on to higher education. Those are great statistics.

Now to my second point--competing on terms of equality. This is from a speech given back in the 70's by Dr. Kenneth Jernigan, a former president and leader of the NFB. Here is a quote from that speech:

"...During the years when a black person in this country could not find employment except in shoe shining and lower-paying janitorial jobs, it affected the way society treated every black person hunting employment or employed currently. Every blind person has a stake in upgrading jobs for other blind persons..."

I have handed out to you the entire speech and urge you to read it. There are examples in there of how blind persons did not think they were able to do certain jobs, but realized by working with others in the field of blindness that they could. The article also talks about equal and not preferential treatment for blind employees. I expect myself to do all that is expected and required of me as an employee of Express Scripts: nothing more, nothing less in terms of expectations.

Dr. Jernigan, who wrote the speech, helped found the National Federation of the Blind Jernigan Institute recently opened in Baltimore, Maryland. Ideas being considered are a personal reading machine for the blind that could read street signs, and a car that could be driven by the blind. Our theme today is on running nuclear particle accelerators, and a blind person could do that someday. Who Knows?

Finally, consider the possibilities of the different types of occupations that the blind can do. I have also given you a list of a sampling of ten of those. They include auto mechanic, equestrian horse racer, lawyer, poison control specialist, programmer, system analyst, teacher, vendor, and X-ray technician. In my job as a system analyst in Change Control, I use a computer that has a screen reader that converts print to speech, a Closed-Circuit TV that enlarges print, and Braille to label files and read notes to run meetings. You are welcome to drop by and I will be glad to show you these tools I use to do my job.

I use my white cane to get to and from different meetings I have daily, or to exit the building independently during our recent fire drill. The list I gave you did not include two other blind persons. Eric Weihenmayer was the first blind person to go with a team to the top of Mount Everest in May of 2001. Later that year during the terrible 9/11 tragedy, Mike Hingson, a blind person working in the World Trade Center, helped several other persons escape the building safely, aided by his dog guide. I give you these occupations and achievements not to have you be amazed and awed, but educated and informed. I feel I have had a lot of support in doing my job from you and other peers during my employment here at Express Scripts.

To conclude, I would like to give a quote from Rep. Charles Longstreet Weltzner from Profiles in Courage for our Time by Carolyn Kennedy. This was given in 1966, and he was the only Southern representative from his party to support the Civil Rights Bill being considered at that time. Rep. Weltzner said; "I believe a great cause can be served. Change swift and certain is upon us, and we in the South face some difficult decisions. We can offer resistance and opposition, or we can accept this measure as the law of the land."

Given quality training in the skills of blindness, the opportunity to compete on terms of equality, and for everyone to consider the possibilities of what all the blind can do, my hope is that the unemployment percentage for blind persons will go down. Madame Toastmaster.


It's As Simple As Integrating and Winning a Community Bingo Game

By Julie Vogt

Over the years, one thing that has set people in the NFB apart from other blind organizations is the exhortation to get involved in one's community. Since moving to Duluth on November 15, 2003, I've been well on my way to integrating into my apartment building and teaching neighbors that there are blind ways to do sighted things. However, the people in the building are predominantly very elderly seniors who aren't easily convinced.

I visit in the Commons Room often. I play piano for them once a month. By now I know nearly everybody except the few who stay in their apartments and don't socialize.

We had bake sales and potluck dinners on several occasions. Unfortunately, those conflicted with certain training I'm taking to upgrade my computer skills at the Duluth Lighthouse for the Blind, as well as a meeting of the CHUM (Churches United in Ministry) Board, which I'm on, representing St. Mark AME Church. I don't play cards, so that was out. And seniors aren't too into teaching games as much as just playing them, or I could have brought my checkers and scrabble games.

I discovered almost by accident that the neighbors like to play Bingo on Saturdays. But choir practice was moved to Saturday afternoons for my benefit, so that was out. I wondered how often I'd make use of the Braille Bingo board I'd purchased when I discovered they also play bingo on Thursday nights and there are small cash winnings to be derived, whereas the Saturday prizes are mainly things from the Dollar Store.

Up to that point, my favorite way of getting involved in a community had been politics, so I wondered if I would like this change of venue.

As it turned out, the table I situated at was with one woman who really needed convincing and lived on my floor, and two other women who I know fairly well socially. I ignored comments like "I suppose we'll have to play for her and check her money," with diplomacy I don't often possess, so I was proud of myself for that. The woman on my floor insisted that my money be laid out in a nickel pile and a dime pile, so I complied. Between games, she'd say, "Here's the pot," and have me put the money in her hand so she could check it, feeling certain I didn't know the difference between a nickel and a dime. On one occasion she checked the pot and said, "We only have two nickels in here," only to discover that she was the one who hadn't put money in the pot. I bit my lip to stifle a grin.

But on the up side, I learned there surely are more diverse designs in which to win a Bingo game than there were when I last played Bingo as a child, which is some time ago. In addition to the On a Line, straight across with B, I, N, G, O, following a column under a letter, or With the Four Corners, and I, there was the print T design going across the top of the letters and a column through the N's. There was also the print H with a side-by-side column intersected by an across line in the middle of the two lines.

I played several games, wondering if I had a good board or not. While we were playing the Cross Formation game, I noticed my N's had filled and said, "Wait a minute!" One of my neighbors and the head checker said, "Not yet. You don't have a cross." Three numbers later, going across in the middle of my card from left to right, B, I, G, and O miraculously filled up for a win. I was exuberant with glee. "She didn't really win" a bunch of neighbors said. One of the checkers came up, "I beg your pardon, I believe she did. It looks like a Bingo to me," and she read off all my numbers in print from the board.

"It's a good Bingo," the caller said. To my amazement, an entire paper cup of dimes was poured into my coin purse.

The point of integrating and winning a Bingo game for me was this: I learned some things and my neighbors learned some things, constituting a win-win condition whose results are permanent. I already knew a lot of nice neighbors and by the end of the night's games, I learned there were more nice neighbors than I thought I had. I learned how Bingo has changed, and that it is as much fun for adults as it is for children.

My neighbors learned through the level of my competency that it is just as respectable to be blind as it is to be sighted, as attested by the frequency of the remarks "She can play just as well as we can and does lots of things for herself."

I can remember when I was a student at what is now the Iowa Department for the Blind and Dr. Jernigan used to say that while we were there we were in class 24 hours a day, even while we were asleep. Old-school rehab had previously taught me that we were in class while we were in class and then only. The Bingo Night taught me that Dr. Jernigan's words are as true now as they were at the Commission. I bless the day I was reconciled to that lesson for life in and of itself.

So if you're looking for a successful way to change the lives and hearts of your community members wherever you find them, my recommendation is as simple and possibly as profitable as integrating and winning a bingo game.

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The Best of Both Worlds

By Emily Zitek

Throughout the years, people have asked me if I thought attending a school for the blind during my elementary years was more beneficial than attending a public school from the beginning. My answer to them was always, "Well, I guess being in both situations has benefited me greatly as a blind adult." And I sincerely believe it has, of course, with the help of the NFB during the transition between the blind school and the public school. There were some downfalls and benefits I experienced because of this method of schooling, but in a way I believe I got the best of both worlds from these experiences.

When I was six months old, there was a special program for blind infants that I was lucky enough to attend. This program no longer exists, but I believe that this program started teaching me things of great importance very early. I attended the school up until I was five years old--old enough to attend kindergarten. As far back as I can remember, I learned the different shapes, how to distinguish rough from smooth, thick from thin, less from more, etc. I was taught how to use my senses of smell, hearing, touch and taste to identify objects, rather than trying to use the little bit of sight I had. As I grew older, I started to learn techniques for scooping using sand, holding the fork, and other simple tasks children my age should start learning.

However, most of the teachers I remember having were sighted, and my parents didn't think all those teachers' techniques were appropriate. For example, the teachers did not introduce me to the white cane. Instead, they expected me to hold my hand out in front of me to prevent me from bumping into things. I remember my father saying, "They must want you to look like a monkey doing tricks at the circus. Don't they have a stick or something you can tap as you walk?" They had started learning about blindness when they found out I was blind; nevertheless, they had a lot to learn yet about devices available to me.

I took whatever skills I had learned from the special program to the Louisiana School for the Visually Impaired (LSVI) in Baton Rouge, where I began kindergarten. Again, I was taught all the basics children my age should learn such as bed-making, pouring, carrying a tray appropriately, reading and writing Braille, etc. One teacher taught all my academic classes, and I was lucky to have three others in my class at the most. We always worked together in one cozy group, and there weren't many expected deadlines for assignments. When everyone in the group was done, then we would move on. If one person didn't understand fractions, we would most likely hold back until everyone was on the same page again.

All our books were provided either in Braille or large print, and the white cane wasn't even remotely introduced to any of the students until we were nine or ten. They encouraged us to use the sight we had if the teachers thought it would help us. But since I had little to no vision, I was lucky enough to avoid using a screen enlarger, which would undoubtedly hurt my eyes and wouldn't help me read at all.

I learned my way around the campus but occasionally bumped my head hard against a post or the brick wall, because I wasn't allowed to use a white cane until the later years. It wasn't uncommon to have one blind student bumping head-on into another one, causing bloody noses, bruises, and once a fractured wrist. The more sight a student had, the more "privileged" they were. For example, it wasn't uncommon to see a student with high partial vision to be leading a totally blind student around campus. In these situations, accidents frequently happened as well.

But on the positive side of things, about fifty percent of my teachers at school and in the dorm were blind and showed me effective techniques of certain tasks. As I got older, these teachers started teaching me about ironing, how to safely use the stove, a little about applying makeup, grooming, and much more that I still use today.

On the academic level, one of the reasons I can do mathematics so effectively now is because of the way I was taught Nemeth Braille for mathematics early on, how to line up basic math problems to make it easier to solve them, and how to use the abacus in certain situations. I learned Braille music when I was nine and can now teach other blind children and adults who are interested.

Once the white cane was introduced and taught to me, I could move around the campus faster and more accurately and went home with a lot less bruises. By the time I hit sixth grade, I thought I had it made. In the dorm, they had me ironing the smaller girls' clothes, helping some of them take showers and dress, and making others' beds. My ego was just bubbling.

Then one day during the summer between my sixth- and seventh-grade years, my rehabilitation counselor, Florence Meynard, came to my house for a visit. She and my mother started making plans for something I wasn't prepared for--mainstreaming me into a public school. I thought this was just great! I thought I had all the skills necessary to just go and immediately fit right in. My counselor mentioned that I would need to make a lot of adjustments, and that no one at the public school would be by my side all the time, holding my hand through every little assignment. She started throwing questions at me like bullets. How are you going to handle taking notes if the teacher has something written on the blackboard or the overhead projector? What if your Braille books don't arrive on time when school starts? How are you going to take notes and prepare for tests like everyone else? Are you going to be able to handle keeping up with the class and meeting deadlines? What is a reader, anyway? I hadn't been prepared for all this. I had no idea how to handle any of what the lady sitting on my couch in my living room was telling me.

My mother and counselor both made me realize that in public school, I wasn't going to have the one-on-one training I was used to getting at LSVI. I was going to have to start working a lot harder if I wanted to be treated the same way as my sighted peers. At that point in my life, I may have been able to get around okay, serve myself, do laundry if I was forced, or read and write Braille, but I didn't have the social skills to go out there and survive real classes with twenty or more students. They told me that day that I needed to start learning all the skills now, before my high school and college career started. Teachers weren't going to let me slide on homework or assignments, just because I had no effective note-taking skills to write down the assignments. They weren't going to give me an extra two days to complete a term paper because I couldn't make it to the library last weekend to complete the bibliography. I had to find ways to take pop quizzes in class right along with the others. The list went on, and it terrified me in the beginning.

Although I heard what my counselor and mother had said that day, there was nothing like experiencing the real thing firsthand. When I walked into my first class of public school, I wasn't prepared for the way the students reacted to my white cane and my blindness, in general. I had to put up with silly questions about what I as a blind person could do. I had to learn to educate these students--even the immature ones who asked very ignorant questions--about blindness.

Then, as I had been warned the summer before, almost all my school books were on back order. Even though I had a resource teacher who transcribed my Braille work into print, she wasn't there to hold my hand. If I had questions about a diagram or needed general help in a subject, she was there for me. But I had to figure out (sometimes by making lots of calls) what to do to get these books in an accessible format until my Braille ones came in. It took me two days to figure out that I needed to contact Recording for the Blind to get these books, and it took them two weeks to send them to me. Had I done my research early, before school started, I would have had those books on time, even with the problem of the Braille books not being available. This dilemma put me two weeks behind in school, and I had to work twice as hard as everyone else because of my lack of research in the beginning.

Then there was the problem of note-taking. I brought a Perkins Brailler into my classes those first two weeks, and there were frequent complaints from other students that it made too much noise. At the school for the blind, they mostly made us use the Braille Writer and didn't stress the slate and stylus nearly enough. Luckily, I had learned it just before being mainstreamed, but I hadn't had efficient practice at it to become accurate and fast enough to keep up with the class. I needed a tape recorder to use as a back-up when I first started taking notes with the slate, just until I felt comfortable with my increasing speed. I had to figure out on my own how to get the information from the blackboard or the overhead projector. By asking other students to read, they got a chance to get to know me as a person on their level, not as a "visually handicapped" girl who is different or weird. And believe me; educating the students about blindness was just as much hard work as a regular academic class.

To make a long story short, I had a lot to learn about my abilities as a blind student. I had to learn to take the positive things the school for the blind taught me and use them to help me learn new techniques and strategies, especially in high school and college. I took the adjustment-to-blindness training I was getting from the NFB during the summers to learn more alternative techniques and to talk to other blind students my age and get their helpful suggestions about how they do things.

I believe that experiencing public-school life has helped me develop on a social level, and it prepared me for high school and college. With the basic skills I learned from LSVI, I was able to build up other skills to be a successful blind person. I don't believe you have to attend a school for the blind to start with in order to be successful. But there must be a good role model for blind children, starting as early as possible, to teach them efficient alternative techniques for tasks children their age should know. This way, they can get the best of both worlds without having to experience both worlds. Not only can blind children start learning the basics early, they can also start learning the social skills right along with their sighted peers by attending public or private school. If parents of blind children start training their blind child early, it will pay off in the future.

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Questions

By Judy Sanders

At a semiannual convention of the NFB of Minnesota, in our discussion of society's attitudes toward blindness, someone asked how we could increase people's understanding of our abilities as blind people. I was reminded of Dr. Jernigan's thoughts on how to eat an elephant: take one bite at a time.

I am blind. As a reader of this article, you may be a sighted person who has little experience with blindness. It is to you that I ask these questions.

Have you ever watched a blind person walk through a revolving door and wondered how a person without sight could do such a thing safely?

I happen to be a person who travels around using a long white cane. I now know what an effective tool that cane is in allowing me to go where I want whenever I want. There was a time in my life that I, too, would have been amazed at what blind people were doing for themselves. I am fortunate that members of the National Federation of the Blind, through their example, taught me that my limitations with respect to my blindness were mostly self-imposed.

One day, when I was on my way to somewhere (I don't remember where), I began my journey by going through a revolving door. A gentleman approached me and said, "My! You do that so well!"

The man was being kind and trying to pay me a compliment. However, what if this man was an employer and I was a job applicant? If he was truly amazed at my ability to walk through a revolving door then what kind of expectations might he have for me to perform on the job? I am quite certain that his imagination would not allow him to see me as a part of his workforce.

How should I respond? I could just say "thank you" with a smile and accept his compliment. I could allow my resentment of his ignorance to show and say something rude. Since I knew that he did not compliment his sighted peers in their ability to walk through a door, I opted for something in the middle. I said with a smile, "thank you. I learned how to do this when I was three." Unfortunately, he probably did not understand that I was talking about expectations. Why shouldn't I be able to walk through a revolving door? If more people expected me to do so without thinking it amazing, I might have learned much earlier in my life about my own capacity as a blind person. And he, as a potential employer, might have had a superior employee who happens to be blind. I leave it to you to judge whether I was rude. I do know that I felt better for having said it. At least I smiled.

Here is another question. Have you ever wanted to ask a blind person how a certain task is performed but you did not wish to be offensive? I have found that children can and will ask and say anything.

I was mailing a letter when a small child who asked if my mother forgot to put carrots in my eyes approached me. I laughed and said, "Is that what happened? I always thought you were supposed to eat the carrots!" He then asked how I knew that this object in front of me was a mailbox. That is a perfectly reasonable question for a six-year-old. I explained that by feeling the object I could tell what it was. I appreciated his simple question because I hoped that he was learning at a much earlier age than most of us some common sense notions about blindness. He may grow up to be an employer; a blind person may walk through his revolving door and say "May I apply for this job," and he will be able to put his doubts aside and give the blind person a chance.

But you are probably an adult with all the inhibitions that come with age. So what are you to do about your curiosities and fears? You have taken an important step by reading this article. Read other publications of the National Federation of the Blind, and remember that most of us are pleased to answer a sincere question.

And lastly, please forgive us if we are human and seem a bit put off by your kindness. We will, in turn, forgive you for not knowing.


Coming to Terms

By Sharon Monthei

When I was 12, I got my first white cane. I hated it, and I hated my teacher as well. Actually, I didn't really hate either one. What I hated was being so visibly blind to the world. It was an admission that I knew I was blind. I didn't think of it as an admission of blindness consciously; I simply reacted emotionally. I have a little sight in one eye, can see colors, but have no depth perception, cannot read print very much, and can see a few feet down a street. Armed with this sight, I could tell myself I wasn't really blind.

I had the kind of training where you are taken to an area and practice walking a block or two, crossing a residential street and then at a stoplight. I even was taken to a larger town to practice urban travel. Sometimes I even wore sleepshades during training, but I never actually went anywhere I wanted to go, and I avoided using my white cane whenever possible.

I lived at the Iowa school for the blind and, after two kids were hit by a car and injured, a rule was instated that all legally blind kids had to carry white canes off campus. The fact that those with some sight led the "totals" around didn't seem to suggest that any of us kids should be carrying white canes on campus. At any rate, this was my first exposure to using a white cane.

I went to public school at age 15. I didn't take my white cane to school except on days when I needed to walk to my grandmother's house after school. I somehow thought I was less blind that way, even though I used Braille in all of my classes, and everyone had known me and my family since I was born, having been raised in this small farming community. Actually, no one talked about it to me, but they knew. I am the only one who didn't know they knew.

At an appropriate time, my rehabilitation counselor from the Iowa Commission for the Blind came to talk to me about what to do next. I needed plans. Did I believe I could go anywhere by myself? Not really. Did I believe I could live on my own? Did I believe I could hold a job or go to college? No, so I had few options except to take the training at the Orientation Center. Did I want to do that? Not really.

Why didn't I? Among other things, I still didn't want to deal with being blind or using a white cane.

But I decided to try it. I figured I would use their cane and sleepshades, but would not use it later. I didn't have anything else to do anyway. The problem I had with dealing with blindness changed forms. I began by figuring out how to look under my sleepshades. It was scary to go around without looking at all. Naturally, I denied it when confronted, and this went on for quite awhile.

One day, in total frustration, I took off my sleepshades when I got lost. I looked around and I still didn't know where I was. I had been learning how to follow directions and ask for them when disoriented, so I put my sleepshades back on and asked someone where I was. This was the day of my realization of my actual blindness. It was the realization that I had to use the same technique as a totally blind person. Although I can't say I never pretended to be sighted nor ever cheated with sleepshades again, that was the day I began to take what I was learning seriously. More importantly, I began to consider myself a blind person, one that could function with enough practice of skills.

After four months of training, my parents, my brother and I went on a vacation to Florida. We stopped at the Mark Twain cave in Hannibal, and I was thrilled to see it, having read all about it. My mother remarked that I hated caves. I said, "NO, I don't." Later I realized that it was because I could use my white cane to accurately determine the rough terrain of the cave that I now enjoyed it. I also walked freely to get refreshments when we were sight-seeing, something I had not done before.

By the time I finished training, I decided to get a job for a few months before college. I got a job as a Dictaphone typist and moved into the YWCA. Then I moved into an apartment by myself in Des Moines. Although I didn't think about it at the time, I'd come a long way in coming to terms with my blindness; terms which did not mean dependence and isolation, but terms which meant I could do anything I wanted. Without beginning the process of facing blindness head-on my life would be very different today.

I have lived in five different states and travel wherever I want. A few years ago I went to England with a blind friend. Without facing my blindness and acquiring good skills, none of this would have been possible.

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Semiannual Convention Report

By Judy Sanders, Secretary

Saturday, April 23, was the day of the first ever semiannual convention to be held at our own headquarters. After words of welcome from Metro Chapter President Jennifer Dunnam, Joyce Scanlan gave a combination state and national report. We recently celebrated the first anniversary of the Jernigan Research and Training Institute. Minnesota can be proud of Jordan Richardson who was on the program for the celebration representing the students from last summer's Science Academy.

Much of Joyce's report was taken up with information about plans by the Bush administration and Congress to destroy rehabilitation services as we know them. They are proposing to downgrade the RSA (Rehabilitation Services Administration) Commissioner's job to be appointed by the Secretary of Education instead of the President. They are also proposing to close the regional offices of RSA. In addition, there are bills in the Congress that will consolidate rehabilitation services with the Workforce Development programs. The administration seems not to understand how important rehabilitation services are and how they will become ineffective if they are swallowed up through WIA (Workforce Investment Act) Plus, the name given to this consolidation effort. To make our views known we are writing to Secretary Margaret Spellings with copies going to her assistant, our congressmen and our national office. We are planning a large informational demonstration at the U.S. Department of Education on May 26th.

The Department of Defense wants to amend the appropriations bill to say that the Randolph-Sheppard Act does not apply to military dining facilities. We have prevented this from happening in the past and we must do it again.

We have seven applicants from Minnesota for our national scholarships. We will be giving 2 state scholarships at our fall convention. Sheila Koenig chairs the state committee to decide the winners. Applications for the state scholarships are due by July 15th.

It has been brought to our attention that the Minnesota Department of Education does not use the word "blind" as a term for a child's disability on Individual Education Plans (IEP). They say "visually impaired." According to Jean Martin, director of the Minnesota Resource Center for the Blind/Visually Impaired, this is a typo and can easily be corrected. We will make sure that they fix the error. It was suggested that we write a letter to the Department to make sure our voice is heard regarding the respectability of the word "blind" and this will facilitate making the correction.

Dick Davis read a report from Linda Mitchell, superintendent at the Minnesota State Academies for the Deaf and Blind. Olda Boubin was appointed as the new director of the Academy for the Blind starting in July. The Academy received $4.25 million in the bonding bill passed at the legislature. The money will be used for restoration on some of the buildings on campus.

The national convention will take place from July 2-8 in Louisville. The Galt House is quickly filling up so people were urged to make their reservations quickly.

Andy Virden suggested that people can keep up on national issues by calling the Merchants hotline at 877-521-8363.

Tom Scanlan gave a treasurer's report which was accepted.

Chuk Hamilton, director of State Services for the Blind (SSB), began his report with praise for the recent BLAST conference sponsored by the NFB Merchants Division. Chuk went on to give the view of reauthorization of WIA from the perspective of administrators of rehabilitation programs. He said that Minnesota is one of the states supporting WIA Plus which is the Bush Administration approach to WIA. It would allow states to have the option to combine up to nine agencies' budgets. Both the Council of State Agencies for Vocational Rehabilitation (CSAVR) and the National Council for State Agencies for the Blind (NCSAB) are opposed to WIA Plus. On the state level, Chuk reported that the Senate's version of the budget fully funds SSB. However, the finance bill subjects DEED (the Department of Employment and Economic Development) to a 14% cut in funding. The House is just beginning its examination of funding bills. SSB appears to be in good shape.

Last fall at our annual convention, it was brought to Chuk's attention that SSB's computer system was not accessible to its blind staff. He reports that there has been much improvement and it is still being worked on.

Cathy Carlson is the new head of administrative services and Dick Strong is now heading the Senior Services Unit. Ed Lecher will be doing outreach in the senior community.

Joyce asked Chuk about the status of a mentoring program for NFB-NEWSLINE ® that the NFB tried to start with SSB. Chuk expressed support for the project and said he would check on getting it moving.

Charlene Childrey told of plans for a senior seminar on May 19th in New Ulm. The theme is "Finding Solutions." The seminar will begin with the participants visiting various exhibits offering resources for blind seniors. Among the exhibitors will be SSB, the Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, and an accessible voting machine. In the middle of the event, everyone will gather in a large group where they will be presented with potential problems that they might face because of their blindness and they will find solutions for them. We hope to gain new members and provide valuable information.

Carrie Gilmer gave a report on the Minnesota Organization of Parents of Blind Children, a division of the NFB of Minnesota. The organization has produced three newsletters distributed on a monthly basis. People were most impressed with a profile about Marie Whitteker in one of the issues.

The division is sponsoring a Saturday school once a month where blind instructors provide activities in a wide variety of areas for any blind children who wish to attend. The next school will be a Science Saturday.

Parents are contacting legislators and congressmen to educate them about the needs of blind children. Two staff members from Senator Mark Dayton's office came to tour the center and met with Shawn Mayo, Carrie and Jordan.

Carrie introduced Jordan Richardson, her son, so that he could give us the presentation he made at the first anniversary celebration of the Jernigan Institute. He extolled the virtues of studying science and his belief that blindness will not prevent one from becoming a scientist.

Lunch provided a variety of opportunities. Some people had reserved box lunches; others brought their own; and still others took advantage of the restaurant guides prepared by Pat Barrett allowing people to explore the neighborhood. Everyone returned at 1:30 for the afternoon session.

Jennifer Dunnam and Tim Aune gave an in-depth demonstration of how to use NFB-NEWSLINE ® and how to sign up for this free service. People can read over 150 newspapers and magazines if they are eligible for Library of Congress services. A tutorial was available for those who wanted more instruction.

Steve Jacobson and Judy Sanders gave an update on legislative matters with particular emphasis on the Help America Vote Act (HAVA). There are two notions of how to implement this historic legislation to provide equipment that allows blind voters to vote privately and independently. They are determining whether counties can purchase their own equipment or whether the Secretary of State will do the purchasing for the whole state. There is also some debate about which machine will meet everyone's needs. Townships have received an exemption (over our objections) to not provide nonvisual access until 2007.

Joyce gave a review of our efforts to pass a bill to fund NFB-NEWSLINE ® and Dial-In News. She read a letter from Senator James Metzen who expressed his pleasure at being the chief author in the Senate.

Joyce read a quote that she heard on Minnesota Public Radio: "Happiness is when you feel that your life is going well." That was an apt description of this year's legislative session.

Joyce Scanlan was elected as our delegate to the NFB convention in Louisville. Jennifer Dunnam will serve as the alternate. All members have a voice at our conventions but our delegates speak for us in a roll call.

We heard from Blindness: Learning in New Dimensions (BLIND) students about their learning experiences. First was Craig Roisum, who last April finally accepted the fact that he had to stop driving. He never met a blind person until he met Shawn Mayo. Having a blind person give him his tour of a training center helped him know that this was the place he needed to be. He recognizes that not only has he grown but so has his family, especially his son Justin. Now he is graduating from the program and is ready to take on the world.

Next spoke David Fitisemanu from St. Cloud. He came to the United States from the Samoan Islands and is proud of being a former Marine and a U.S. citizen. He became blind at age 52. He was working as a bus driver when he had a stroke which caused his blindness. His time in this program has taught him that his life is still valuable and he has a lot to contribute.

The last panel member delayed her remarks so that we could hear from Senator Linda Higgins, the senate author of the HAVA legislation that will give us the equipment we need to vote privately and independently. She gave us the ins and outs of the differences between the House and Senate versions. There are several parties who have a stake in this: the Secretary of State, the counties, the election equipment vendors, and most importantly, us.

We then returned to the panel of BLIND students to hear from Jana Duncan. She said that the most important thing she has learned as a student is that she is blind--not just legally blind or visually impaired. Other students helped her realize the importance that the NFB plays in her life.

After hearing from the students we heard from the director of BLIND, Shawn Mayo. She talked about the fact that we are appealing the right for students to come to BLIND in several states. Our program is nationally recognized, but states do not always comply with the choice provisions in the Rehabilitation Act as they should. The main difference between our program and traditional ones is that students learn that they can be in control of their own lives and can work with their fellow blind brothers and sisters to make a difference in all our lives.

BLIND is expanding to out-state Minnesota with Emily Wharton serving as an instructor in people's homes. This will serve as a means of marketing for the fulltime program and will provide services to those whose health may not allow them to participate away from home. Dick Davis will continue to teach industrial arts, and will also teach job seeking skills. Michele Gittens is working part-time in the home management area with Betty Bishman, and a new computer instructor (Greg Stilson) will begin in January. Al Spooner is not leaving the program; he will be working fulltime in outreach and marketing.

BLIND is working with SSB to reestablish classes for blind senior citizens. We are looking forward to a very active summer with young children, teens and adults filling the center with fun, enthusiasm and accomplishments.

Due to the resignation from the board of Eric Smith (he moved to Washington, DC), we elected Steve Jacobson to finish his term.

Pledges were made to the Jacobus tenBroek fund, which maintains the National Center for the Blind. We voted to match the amount given by our members. Al Spooner conducted the quest for pledges. We raised $1,715 in pledges.

The convention voted to allocate $1,000 toward helping Minnesotans attend the informational rally about vocational rehabilitation services in Washington. It was intended that we send as many people as possible with that money.

We were to have a speaker from Transit for a Livable Community but due to illness she was unable to attend. Judy reported that we are supporting their bill which calls for a 1/2 cent sales tax in the metro area to fund mass transit and funding from the dedicated gas tax to develop public transit throughout the state. It remains to be seen what the final bill will look like after all the negotiations.

At the end of the day, Jennifer called on members to form a cleanup crew to rearrange all the furniture to its usual positions. She thanked those who helped do setup. In the NFB, blind people are not only in charge of policy but we perform physical labor as well.

In closing, Joyce reminded us of her definition of happiness: happiness is when you feel life is going well. In the National Federation of the Blind, life is going extremely well.

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World's Easiest Quiz

From Jan Bailey

Okay you geniuses, try this out. (Careful, there're a couple of tricks).

Passing requires 4 correct answers

1) How long did the Hundred Years War last?

2) Which country makes Panama hats?

3) From which animal do we get catgut?

4) In which month do Russians celebrate the October Revolution?

5) What is a camel's hair brush made of?

6) The Canary Islands in the Pacific are named after what animal?

7) What was King George VI's first name?

8) What color is a purple finch?

9) Where are Chinese gooseberries from?

10) What is the color of the black box in a commercial airplane?

All done? Check your answers below!

1) How long did the Hundred Years War last?

116 years

2) Which country makes Panama hats?

Ecuador

3) From which animal do we get catgut?

Sheep and Horses

4) In which month do Russians celebrate the October Revolution?

November

5) What is a camel's hair brush made of?

Squirrel fur

6) The Canary Islands in the Pacific are named after what animal?

Dogs

7) What was King George VI's first name?

Albert

8) What color is a purple finch?

Crimson

9) Where are Chinese gooseberries from?

New Zealand

10) What is the color of the black box in a commercial airplane?

Orange, of course

What do you mean you failed?!

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Convention Alert!

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

The Annual NFB of Minnesota Convention will be held on October 7-9 2005 at the Crowne Plaza Minneapolis Airport West hotel in Bloomington. Members will receive a letter with details about a month before the convention.

The Semiannual NFB of Minnesota Convention will be held in March or April 2006 in greater Minnesota. Members will receive a letter with details about a month before the convention.

The National NFB Convention will be held at the Wyndham Anatole Hotel in Dallas, Texas during the first week of July 2006. This is a whole week of friends, fun, and serious business. It is a chance to be part of the largest gathering of blind people in the world. The full convention bulletin will be in the Braille Monitor

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