Greetings Fellow Federationists,

“If we can but prevent the government from wasting the labours of the people, under the pretence of taking care of them, they must become happy”. Thomas Jefferson

Washington Seminar 2014
Even Thomas Jefferson would have opposed sub-minimum wages for disabled persons. This past week hundreds of members of the National Federation of the Blind roamed the halls of congress to visit representatives to ask for their support for HR 831 Fair Wages for Workers with Disabilities Act of 2013, HR 3505 The Technology, Education and Accessibility in College and Higher Education Act (TEACH Act) and seeking a sponsor the Air Carrier Technology Accessibility Act.
The California delegation broke up into four teams and visited all fifty four representatives and senators from our state. This year, many of us had the opportunity to meet with our representatives who were in town for the State of the Union address by President Obama. The national office will be updating us with the responses that we received. To stay informed go to www.nfb.org and read about the highlights of the 2014 Washington Seminar.

Chemistry Camp 2014
Applications are being accepted for a three day accessible science experience. We are looking for blind high school students ages 14-18 who have a desire to learn about how a blind person can study science. During this exciting and busy three day experience, students will get to learn how blind and visually impaired people use chemistry in their careers. If you know of any blind and visually impaired high school students, please have them contact Angela Fowler at 530) 902-0987 or email her at fowlers@syix.com.

Accessible Tax Forms
The IRS has made tax forms and other products available to taxpayers with disabilities. Please help us to spread the word about these services which are available at http://www.irs.gov/uac/IRS.gov-Accessibility.

Job Opportunities for Teachers of the Blind and Visually Impaired (TVI’s)
There are several open positions for teachers of the blind and visually impaired in California. As you know, there is a shortage of teachers with the expertise of Braille instruction and/ or orientation and mobility. If you know of a qualified TVI, please contact Santa Clara County Office of Education, San Benito County Office of Education, San Luis Obispo County Office of Education, and the Orange County Office of Education.

San Francisco State University and California State University Los Angeles TVI programs have received a federal grant to assist applicants with financial support for this fall. Please help locate applicants for the programs at San Francisco State University and California State University, Los Angeles. Check with recent college graduates, paraprofessionals who enjoy working with students with visual impairments, individuals who are seeking a fulfilling career change, and other general/special ed teachers who wish to add VI credential.

The Program in Visual Impairments at San Francisco State University is accepting applications for Fall 2014 semester.
If you know of anyone seeking a rewarding professional career and would like to become a TVI, please refer them to the following websites for more information. Program in Visual Impairments
http://www.sfsu.edu/~visimp/index.htm

Application requirements
http://www.sfsu.edu/~spedcd/applyedsp.html

How to Apply
http://www.sfsu.edu/~spedcd/apply.html

National Federation of the Blind Commends Microsoft and GW Micro for Groundbreaking Accessibility Partnership
During the Washington Seminar Californians discussed the issues blind people face in dealing with technology that is not accessible. Recently, GW Micro and the Microsoft Corporation announced a partnership to make Window-Eyes, a screen reading software program, available for free to users of Microsoft Office 2010 or higher. More details about this groundbreaking offer are available at www.WindowEyesForOffice.com.

Announcing the 2014 Microsoft Disability Scholarship Fund
We are excited to share details of the new Microsoft Disability Scholarship Fund targeting students with disabilities entering college in the fall. This is a new initiative from Microsoft and the Disability Employee Resource Group (ERG), built in partnership with Seattle Foundation. The scholarship website is open to applications until March 15th. Contact:
Disability Employee Resource Group
Microsoft Corporation
http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/diversity/programs/microsoftdisabilityscholarship.aspx

NFB Scholarship Application Deadline March 31, 2014
The NFB Scholarship Program invites blind students who will attend college in Fall 2014 to apply for a scholarship. The National Federation of the Blind offers 30 awards, worth from $3,000 up to $12,000, plus assistance for the 30 winners to attend the July 2014 Annual Convention in Orlando, Florida. For full information and the online application form, go to http://www.nfb.org/scholarships

Mary Willows, President
3934 Kern Court
Pleasanton, CA 94588
(925) 462-8575
mwillows@sbcglobal.net

 

Greetings Fellow Federationists,

“May peace be your gift at holiday time and your blessing all year through”- anonymous

NFBC CANES AND TAILS FIRST ANNUAL CRAB FEED
Join us to celebrate the New Year and the promise of hopeful resolutions for positive growth in 2014. The newly organized Davis Canes and Tails Chapter warmly invites everyone to attend an event which will bring community members and federation leaders together to celebrate our accomplishments.

Featuring live music “The Rhythm Method Band”. Tickets are available for $40 each if purchased before December 15, 2013. All tickets purchased after December 15, 2013 will be $50 each. Tickets will not be available at the door. Tickets can be purchased online or by phone.
Terese Retherford (707) 290-1517
Lisa Hilas (415) 606-8775
Purchase tickets online at www.crabfeedcanesandtailseventbrite.com

Washington Seminar 2014
Once again, California federation members are preparing for a trek to Washington D.C. to introduce ourselves and our mission to members of the House of Representatives and Senate. We will be making appointments with members of the 113th congress first session on January 28, 29, and 30, 2014. We would like to ask anyone who has contacts with local representatives to call the home office and recommend that the representative schedule time to meet our advocates.

Amongst the topics we will discuss are the TEACH Act (H.R. 3505) introduced by Congressman Joe Petri and The Fair Wages for Workers with Disabilities Act of 2013 (H.R.831) introduced by Gregg Harper.

The TEACH Act stands for Technology, Equality and Accessibility in College and Higher Education Act will direct the Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board to develop accessibility guidelines for electronic instructional materials and related information technologies in institutions of higher education, and for other purposes. Blind college students must be equipped to compete on the basis of equality which means having access to text books and research materials.

H.R. 831 will repeal section 14(c) of the Fair Labor Standards Act and phase out the discriminatory practice of paying disabled workers less than the federal minimum wage. There are many examples of individuals with significant disabilities who, when provided the proper training and support, have acquired a competitive job skill to earn at least minimum wage. Very few, if any, disabled or nondisabled individuals acquire a competitive job skill through performing menial tasks in sheltered, segregated, subminimum-wage work environments.

At-Large Chapter Meeting
The At-Large Chapter will meet on the second Thursday of each month. In December the meeting will be held on December 12 at 7 p.m. The purpose of the At-Large Chapter is to give those who cannot attend regular monthly meetings an opportunity to stay connected and up-to-date with the latest issues concerning blind people in California and across the nation. The call in number is 712) 432-0175. The passcode is 184220#.

Dr. Marc Maurer Announces His Retirement
The following is taken from a message sent by Dr. Fredric Schroeder, first vice-president, National Federation of the Blind: “As you know, Dr. Marc Maurer has been our national president since 1986. He has served as president longer than any of our previous presidents and has guided us through a period of unprecedented growth and change. It was under Dr. Maurer’s leadership that we established the Jernigan Institute and all of the programs that have been so successful in demonstrating the truth of our assertion that given proper opportunity and training, blind people can live and work as others. In particular we have developed many programs designed to provide blind children and youth with the skills and confidence they need to compete fully in their education and to develop their life ambitions. We have conducted the Youth Slam, Science Academy, and more recently the BELL programs.

In the area of technology under Dr. Maurer’s leadership we developed the KNFB Reader Mobile allowing blind people to have immediate access to print with nothing more than a cell phone and special software. And then there was the Blind Driver Challenge. There is no question that lack of access to reliable transportation remains a major barrier for blind people.
Yet, the Blind Driver Challenge showed that we could develop the technology to enable a blind person to drive a car, not simply sit passively in a car that drives itself.

These are the expressions of Dr.Maurer’s leadership. Yet at the heart of his leadership is his spirit and his belief in every blind person. He has inspired and encouraged us, faced the most difficult challenges with resolution and strength, and he has kept us together, and never let us waiver in our belief in our own right to live normal, productive lives.

On Saturday afternoon Dr. Maurer told the board that it is his intention to not seek reelection to the presidency next summer at our national convention. He feels the time is right to transition to the next president, the next individual who can lead us for a quarter century or more. Dr. Maurer is in good health and believes that it is important that he step down from the presidency while he is able to assist with the transition. Dr.
Maurer told the board that he, Dr. Maurer, plans to support Mr.
Mark Riccobono as the next president of the National Federation of the Blind.

Mr. Riccobono presently serves as the Executive Director of the Jernigan Institute. He is an accomplished individual with the strength and wisdom to assume the serious responsibility of leading our movement. He has brought to his work the imagination and competency we demand from our president.
We are truly fortunate that within the Federation we have individuals who are able and willing to give all they have to furthering our move toward true equality. The demands of the NFB presidency are unimaginable. We require our leader to give all of his time, all of his imagination, and all of his personal reserve of judgment to leading our organization. This is what Dr. Maurer has done for the past 27 and a half years, and it is what Mark Riccobono will do for the time of his presidency.

The transition brings to an end one chapter in our history and what a glorious chapter it has been. We cannot face the loss of Dr.Maurer’s leadership without a sense of sadness; but the transition to a new president is not just the absence of what we had before. The transition heralds a new chapter in our history and with it, new opportunities-the chance to take all that has come before and build something bigger and more powerful than we have ever known.

Please join me in thanking Dr. Maurer for his leadership, his friendship and his faithful devotion to our cause; and please join me in wishing Mark Riccobono the very best as he seeks to take the foundation that is all that has come before and build upon it the next great chapter in our history.”

Mary Willows, President
3934 Kern Court
Pleasanton, CA 94588
(925) 462-8575
mwillows@sbcglobal.net

 

Greetings Fellow Federationists,

The month of November is always a time of reflection. I would like to share this quote from Cicero, “A thankful heart is not only the greatest virtue, but the parent of all the other virtues”. I am so thankful for all of the people in the National Federation of the Blind of California who have come together to pass on the message of equality, security, and opportunity for the blind. It is because of you, with you, and for you that we hold annual statewide conventions such as our recent successful convention held in October. I am so grateful to all of the people who worked so hard to make the convention informative and fun.

Meet the Blind Month
Many chapters have participated in “Meet the Blind Month” activities in local communities throughout the state to help spread the word to blind people and their families that it is okay to be blind. Our newly formed Davis Canes and Tails Chapter conducted a public education event at the Davis Farmer’s Market. Members circulated through the crowds and passed out literature while others put the names of children in Braille for them show off to their friends. The Escondido Chapter also participated in a street fair where they sold several items and informed the community about the programs and services of the National Federation of the Blind of California. The Pathfinders Chapter and the Guiding Lights Chapter made a presentation at the Second Baptist Church of Los Angeles. They told the congregation about our successful Braille Enrichment in Literacy and Learning (BELL) Program, which was held at that church in July.

Catch Our Dreams
Congratulations to our southern California friends, family, and chapter members who came together to celebrate our fundraising effort called Catch our Dreams. The event was coordinated by Cheryl Thurston, President Inland Empire Chapter and Robert Stigile, President San Fernando Valley Chapter. We now have a new auctioneer in our midst. Hoby Wedler and EverLee have been our notorious auctioneers and as of this past Saturday, Rochelle Houston, President Pathfinders Chapter is added to the list. EverLee got the crowd inspired and Rochelle Houston kept it going with humor and spontaneity. There was dancing, laughter, and support for one another and the work of the National Federation of the Blind of California. We will definitely continue the Catch our Dreams theme for our statewide fundraising effort.

Celebrating 50 years of Service to Los Angeles
On Saturday, November 9 the Pathfinders Chapter will celebrate their 50th anniversary of the chapter and all of the accomplishments of federationists in the Los Angeles area. President, Rochelle Houston, will preside at a dinner held at Marie Calendars located at 21211 Hawthorne Blvd., Torrance, CA from 5 to 8 pm. Donation is $30. There will be speakers to recognize the long-time dedication of members in Los Angeles who have helped to change what it means to be blind. For more information, contact Rochelle at 323) 754-9689 or email rhouston58@gmail.com.

Parent Leadership Program at 2014 Washington Seminar
I am seeking the names of parents who show leadership potential for supporting parents of blind children. Do you know a parent that shows the commitment to help build the parents division in our state? If so, please send me, Mary Willows, the name and contact information by November 12, 2013. We hope to send two parents to the Parent Leadership Program (PLP), which is held annually in conjunction with the Washington Seminar. The dates are January 26 through January 30, 2014.

California Supports Minimum Wages for Disabled Workers
On October 31, 2013 newly elected board member and president of the Davis Canes and Tails Chapter, Rick Watson, delivered 5,300 pages of names of people who signed a petition to end the discriminatory practices of Goodwill Industries paying sub-minimum wages to disabled workers. The petition garnered 170,000 signatures of Americans who demand that Goodwill pay its workers with disabilities a real wage. Follow the story at www.nfb.org.

There’s More than One Way to be Okay: A Blind Woman’s PURRspective on Life”
Congratulations to Lauren Merryfield, who has written her second book, There’s More than One Way to be Okay: A Blind Woman’s PURRspective on Life”. The ebook versions are at amazon and other companies. Contact Lauren at bizcats@catliness.com for the print version.

Happy Thanksgiving to Everyone.

Mary Willows, President
3934 Kern Court
Pleasanton, CA 94588
(925) 462-8575
mwillows@sbcglobal.net

 

California Convention Bulletin

Greetings Fellow Federationists,

The National Federation of the Blind of California 2013 Convention is Coming Soon
Our convention theme this year is “Everything Works if You Do”. We will apply this theme throughout the weekend with speakers and break-out sessions which will focus on job readiness skills, personal stories, and employment tips. Pre-registration for the convention is $20 in advance and $25 at the door.

The pre-convention activities will begin on Friday, October 11, 2013 at 9 a.m. Employment Link in conjunction with NFB of California will introduce the LEAP Program and schedule-A jobs with the federal government. Speakers will assist with resume writing, interviewing, and job preparation. Anyone who is seeking employment or thinking about their future would benefit from this seminar. Rehabilitation counselors and teachers of the visually impaired are encouraged to bring clients/ students to make the contacts and plant the seeds for success with a variety of mentors.

The convention will be held at the Doubletree by Hilton Sacramento on October 11, 12, and 13. The address of the hotel is:
2001 Point West Way, Sacramento, CA 95815. It is across the street from the Arden Fair Mall. The room rate is $89 for singles and doubles plus taxes. You can now make your room reservations on a personalized website group page. Go to: http://doubletree.hilton.com/en/dt/groups/personalized/R/RLSA-DT-NBF-20131010/index.jhtml?WT.mc_id=POG

If you choose to make your reservations by phone, you’ll need:
Group Name: NFBC – 2013 Convention
Group Code: NBF
Group Dates: 10/10/13 – 10/13/13
Reservations: 800-686-3775 or 916-924-4900
NOTE: You will need your hotel reservation confirmation number in order to register for the convention.

Register Now
Registration is now open.
Cost: $100 to pre-register for all events or $135 at the door. Events include registration, Diabetes Action Network Luncheon on Friday, Monte Carlo Night, California Association of Blind Students Luncheon on Saturday, and the banquet on Saturday evening. To purchase your all inclusive registration ticket, go to
http://www.formstack.com/forms/?986187-OKrkn0JGXG

2013 Scholarships for Blind College Students
National Federation of the Blind of California scholarship applications are now available. The deadline is September 15, 2013.
If you are planning to attend a post-secondary institution or online college in the fall and you are legally blind, you may be eligible for financial assistance. Applicants must have a GPA of at least 3.0, be a full time student, and show proof of legal blindness. Please help us to spread the word about this great opportunity. For more information, go to:
http://sixdots.org/resources/2012-scholarship-application-available/

Drawing for an iPad Mini!
You can purchase a $10 ticket now for an iPad mini Wi-Fi 16GB. Drawing will be held at the Annual Convention. Winner need not be present.  Buy tickets now!

Washington Seminar 2014 Applications are Being Accepted
The web site has been updated for the 2014 Washington Seminar info. The Washington Seminar is an annual event of the National Federation of the Blind to introduce the agenda of blind Americans–the priority issues requiring congressional attention over the coming year. The issues are selected from official positions of the Federation and may address concerns in the following areas: relevant civil rights issues; educational programs and services; rehabilitation of the blind for competitive employment; the operation of vending facilities by blind persons on public property; specialized library services for the blind; the organization and funding of federal programs; Social Security and Supplemental Income programs; and other timely topics. Approximately three legislative initiatives are chosen for priority attention during the Washington Seminar. Washington Seminar is under Events. The link to the form is
http://www.formstack.com/forms/?984710-4OifFY6TfK

Mary Willows, President
3934 Kern Court
Pleasanton, CA 94588
(925) 462-8575
mwillows@sbcglobal.net

 

The 2014 Washington Seminar Participation Request Form is Now Available!

The Washington Seminar is an annual event of the National Federation of the Blind to introduce the agenda of blind Americans–the priority issues requiring congressional attention over the coming year. The issues are selected from official positions of the Federation and may address concerns in the following areas: Social Security and Supplemental Security Income programs; relevant civil rights issues; educational programs and services; rehabilitation of the blind for competitive employment; the operation of vending facilities by blind persons on public property; specialized library services for the blind; the organization and funding of federal programs; and other timely topics. Approximately three legislative initiatives are chosen for priority attention during the Washington Seminar.

All those interested in participating should fill out the participation request form. Please complete the participation request form prior to the deadline which is October 31st. The California delegation will be selected shortly after the deadline.

If you have any question please contact Tiffany Manosh at tmanosh@gmail.com or 916-241-3274 or Michael Hingson at info@michaelhingson.com or 415-827-4084.