March 8, 2012

To Be Read At Chapter Meetings:

What Makes the NFB Different?
Recently, I attended a presentation of California agencies that serve the blind. I was struck not by what I heard, rather, by what I did not hear. It caused me to think about what makes the NFB different from agencies serving the blind.

All of the agencies report that students come out of the programs with a myriad of skills which will make them independent. Some staff said that self-determination is included in the curriculum. However, I did not hear anyone say that what the students will gain as a result of attending these programs is “attitude”. As we all have learned in the National Federation of the Blind, if you don’t have a good attitude about being blind the skills won’t last for long. If you do not have a strong support system when you leave an agency program, the misconceptions of uneducated people will creep in and destroy your confidence.

As an educator, I can tell you that it is the hope that all of our students will retain skills and develop attitudes that will see them through tough times. However, without the support, strength and wisdom of those who have walked the walk and talked the talk it is not likely to happen.

So whenever you find a blind person who is not a member of the National Federation of the Blind be sure to tell them about us. Invite them to a chapter meeting. If possible, pick them up prior to the next meeting. Introduce them to our leaders and let them know that we are here for each other.

At Large Chapter Meeting
The next meeting of the At Large Chapter will be on Thursday, March 8, 2012 at 7:00 P.M. The purpose of this statewide call-in chapter is to include those people who are not able to get to a regular monthly chapter meeting. Either because they are not close enough to attend or because there is a work conflict. Either way, I never want to see any blind person feel as though they are alone. Please spread the word about the
At Large Chapter. I always enjoy speaking to new people on the phone. Every month it seems I find a blind person who did not know that such an organization exists. We welcome everyone. The call in number is 712-432-0175 and the code is 184220.

Washington Seminar Report:
I wish to thank the members of our Washington Seminar delegation. Tiffany Manosh managed to coordinate fifty five California representatives with eighteen Federationists which is not an easy feat.

The purpose of our visit was to share with our nations representatives those issues which concern the blind in America. We told them about the people with disabilities who are still being paid sub-minimum wages in sheltered workshops. California alone has one hundred and sixty eight agencies which are still paying less than the federal minimum wage of eight dollars and twenty five cents an hour.

At the present time, forty seven members of Congress are co-sponsors for H.R. 3086 the Fair Wages for Workers with Disabilities Act.
Five of the co-sponsors are California representatives. We need to continue calling representatives’ offices in both the local districts and in Washington and ask for their support and co-sponsorship of H.R. 3086.

To read more about H.R. 3086 go to the website. There is a link on the homepage which will take you to a letter written by Dr. Maurer to all of the Congressional representatives. Don’t be shy about sharing it.

The National Federation of the Blind has created a text message system to keep you up to date on the progress of H.R. 3086. For alerts text the word “fairwages” to 27138. You will receive a confirmation text. Whenever news comes out you will be the first to be notified.

Do You Have A Citibank Business Account?
I would like to speak to any blind people who currently have a business account with Citibank. It seems we have an accessibility problem. Please call me at 510-248-0100.

The North San Diego County Chapter Is Reorganizing:
On Saturday, March 17, 2012, our North San Diego County Chapter will hold a reorganizing meeting at the Casa Escandido. That will make two active chapters in the San Diego area. For more information, call Mona Longoria at 760-672-8057.
National Scholarships:
The National Federation of the Blind will award thirty scholarships this summer in Dallas, Texas. The scholarships and prizes range in size from three thousand dollars to twelve thousand dollars. Applications will be accepted until March15th. Go to

Chemistry Camp 2012:
High school age blind and visually impaired students with an interest in Science are invited to apply for the 2012 Chemistry Camp. Co-ordinator, Henry Wedler will again teach alternative techniques for conducting experiments safely. This three day learning experience will be held at the Enchanted Hills Camp in beautiful Napa Valley, California. Applications are being accepted. Go to to fill in an application and read all about it.

Blind Parents Get Together:
On Saturday, March 10, 2012 parents who happen to be blind will meet to share support and tips on techniques for good parenting without sight. The meeting will be held in the Capitol building in Sacramento between 11:00 A.M. until 3:00 P.M. Topics will include such things as, discipline versis parenting skills and what to tell your childs’ pedeatritian or teacher about your blindness. Children are invited. Snacks will be provided. Lunch is five dollars or you can bring your own. For more information go to or call Angela Fowler at 530-902-0987.

Mary Willows, President
39481 Gallaudet Drive Apt. 127
Fremont, CA 94538
(510) 248-0100
Email Mary Willows


2011 State Convention
Once again, the National Federation of the Blind of California came together in convention assembled to consider current issues facing the blind in our state. We passed resolutions which call upon the Department of General Services to work with the Department of Rehabilitation to make decisions which will enhance employment opportunities for blind clients and employees. In addition, we brought attention to the Department of Education and asked them to adhere to the agreement with the Department of Justice to ensure that textbooks and materials for all students in California be accessible to the blind. Also, the California State Librarian is being asked to discontinue distributing equipment such as the Nook which is not accessible to us.

The big issue this year is our re-authorization of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. We call upon every entity that currently possesses a Special Wage Certificate from the US Department of Labor, to immediately surrender their Special Wage Certificate and to adopt a business model to values each of their employees with disabilities by paying them the Federal minimum wage or higher. We invite Congress to pass the Fair Wages for workers with disabilities Act of 2011, HR 3086.

Along with all of the hard work we managed to get in a little fun time with the “Made Up Theatre” improv comedy group.

On Saturday, October 15, we celebrated White Cane Day with a public education “Walk for Independence” outside the hotel. We walked for about a mile carrying signs and chanting. Our signs brought attention to the value of the white cane or guide dog to achieve independence. Occasionally, there were signs asking for support of the Fair Wages for Workers with Disabilities Act of 2011.

Joe Ruffalo was our national representative and did he stir up the crowd at the banquet. He and Mistress of Ceremonies, Ever Lee Hairston conducted an auction during the banquet. Chapters donated baskets of goodies which had a theme. The students brought a basket with everything you need to pull an “All-nighter” basket. They had things like coffee and a thumb drive, slate and stylus and ear buds to listen to your e-books. Fun was had by all.

Bid for Excellence, national on line auction:
It is open for bidding starting today. Visit to see the items which are up for bid. 100 percent of the winning bids will support the work of the NFB. The Bid for Excellence runs through December 5, 2011. Individual auctions will begin throughout the five weeks. New items will be added so check back often.

NFB Scholarships are now available:
The NFB Scholarship Program for 2012 will begin on-line the first week of November. If you know a blind high school senior or college student who will be attending college in the fall of 2012, they can go to and fill in an application.

Braille Readers are Leaders Contest:
Starting November 1, 2011 and ending on January 4, 2012 students can compete for ribbons, cash prizes and an all expenses paid trip to the 2012 national convention in Dallas, Texas. Teams of two to five participants are welcome to compete in both the K-12 and adult contests. Register at . The adults will also compete for cash prizes, national recognition and bragging rights.

To All Kaiser Permanente Patients Who are Blind:
The Disability Rights Advocates would like to talk to any blind patients who have experienced barriers in Kaiser programs, services, and facilities. If you have been unable to access Kaiser’s website or to get important information in alternative formats, such as medical forms, prescriptions and educational materials please e-mail Or call 866-723-1494.

Guiding Lights Chapter Celebration:
On December 10, 2011, the Guiding Lights Chapter will celebrate twenty years of service to the Los Angeles area. Come join them at the Truxton’s restaurant at 8614 Truxton Avenue, Los Angeles from 2:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.

California Association of Blind Students Bowl-A-Thon:
Hoorah! The Bowl-A-Thon has been changed to any and all northern California bowling alleys. Visit your favorite lanes and raise funds to support the students. The southern California location is still AMF Beverly Lanes located at 1201 Beverly Boulevard, Montebello, California, 90640. Bowling will begin at 11:00 a.m. and end at 1:00 p.m. Sponsor forms can be found at or better yet call CABS President Angela Fowler at (530) 902-0987.

San Francisco Chapter Holiday Party and Fundraiser:
San Francisco Chapter President Eric Holm would like to extend an invitation to share camaraderie, great food, fine wines, live music and an auction to be held at one the most picturesque venues in San Francisco. . The event will be held on December 17, 2011 at the Aquarium of the Bay, Pier 39, San Francisco. Festivities will begin at 12:00 p.m. and end at 2:00 p.m. Watch the nfbc-info list for more information or go to our website at

Roselle wins the American Dog Hero of the Year Award:Michael Hingson and Roselle will be on the PBS stations on Friday, November 4, 2011. Consult your local listing to watch the dog who assisted Michael escape the 78th floor of World Trade Center 1 on September 11, 2001.

Before I end this months Bulletin, I would like to thank all of the people who helped make the 2011 convention a success. If you would like to contact one of our board members, their contact information is as follows:

First Vice-President, Robert Stigile,
Second Vice-President, Ever Lee Hairston,
Secretary, Shannon Dillon,
Treasurer, Melissa Haney,”>
Board Members:
Kia Vaca,
Jana Littrell,
Jason Holloway,
Karen Steele,
Michael Hingson,
Tiffany Manosh,
Rochelle Houston,

Mary Willows, President
39481 Gallaudet Drive Apt. 127
Fremont, CA 94538
(510) 248-0100