Missouri Chronicle

September 2018 Edition

President’s Report

By Denny Huff, President

Greetings, with the 2018 ACB national convention behind us it’s time to focus on the upcoming MCB 2018 state convention.  This year it will be at the Capital Plaza hotel in Jefferson City.  It’s just a few weeks off so I hope you are planning on attending and already have your reservations made.

        This year our key note speaker will be Jack and Jill Fox, talking book narrators from Louisville, Kentucky.  They give a very entertaining presentation together and I know that all of us will enjoy having them with us this year.

        Our guest speaker for our banquet will be John Robinson, a local author with two books available on BARD.  He will be sharing with us about his travels throughout the back roads of Missouri and the USA.

        As we have announced before, MCB now has an information line that you can call and receive information about what’s going on within our organization.  We are working on adding to the selections but for now we have the MCB podcast, the Chronicle, the in-memorial from the 2017 convention, a listing of all of our affiliates in MCB and the legislative report available.  To access the information line you can call, 773-572-6387 or if you don’t have unlimited long distance you can call toll free, (844) 605-4592.  Once you enter a mailbox number you can press zero to hear the options for listening to that mailbox content.

        I want to thank you for allowing me to serve you as your president over the past several years.  I hope that you will give your new president the same support as you have given me.

My thanks to all that make MCB the great organization that it is.  I  sincerely appreciate each and everyone of you.  God bless!

John Robinson

Mr. Robinson will be our guest speaker at the MCB banquet this year in Jefferson City. 

John Robinson bought the car eighteen years ago. Together, they traveled every mile of every road on his highway map, a 250,000-mile journey to discover the real America beyond the interstate. Real people. Obscure places. Forgotten stories. His journey unfolds in Missouri, but it could be about any state, any traveler who drives into America's hidden heart.

John has published two books about his experiences: (both books available on BARD) A Road Trip Into America's Hidden Heart, and Coastal Missouri. He won an Emmy Award for the series, Finding Wild Missouri, produced by the Missouri Department of Conservation.

A third book, Souls Along the Road, will be out in November.

Growing up in the Ozarks, John has a long history with the backroads and rivers of Missouri. He was the primary catalyst in launching Missouri's old tourism slogan, "Where the Rivers Run." Even before he became Missouri's Director of Tourism–a position he held for four years until 2006–John worked to promote and protect Missouri's waters. John promoted energy conservation through the Missouri Division of Energy during the energy crisis of 1979.  He continued to highlight environmental issues as a speechwriter for Mel Carnahan in the 1980s, and later as chief of staff for Roger Wilson and Joe Maxwell.

Under John's leadership, Missouri tourism set records for visitors and tourism dollars to Missouri, and won 5 Odyssey Awards in four years. The Odyssey is the national tourism equivalent to the Academy Awards.

        A disciple of George Washington Carver, who was an ardent recycler, John has established recycling programs in every office he's managed.

When John became Missouri Tourism Director, Missouri Net’s Bob Priddy asked him, “how will you balance tourism and the environment?” John’s answer: "If we don't preserve our natural heritage, and put back what we take out, these attractions won't be worth visiting."

John's stories have appeared in magazines including Missouri Life, Rural Missouri, Show Me Missouri, St. Louis County Living and Inside Columbia.

Graduating in 1974 from the University of Missouri School of Journalism, John worked for the Rolla Daily News, and Gardner Advertising Company in St. Louis, where he wrote for the baseball Cardinals. He was a freelance writer and producer for America's Most Wanted. And he taught sustainable tourism as an adjunct professor at the University of Missouri-Columbia.

John and Cheryl live in Columbia Missouri. They have two daughters and six grandchildren.

Jack and Jill Fox

Jack and Jill Fox will be our keynote speakers on Saturday morning at the convention and Jack will be our emcee for the Saturday night banquet.

Jack Fox started recording talking books in 1978 for the Library of Congress in the Studios of the American Printing House for the Blind (APH). He has recorded nearly 1,500 books, and his extraordinary talent was inherited by his equally talented daughter, Jill Fox.  Jill started her career narrating talking books for APH in 1996 and has read nearly 1,000 titles.

Jack's voice can be heard throughout America in most major airports including St. Louis and Kansas City.  Jack was a local radio personality who had spent his entire career traveling around the country working as a DJ at various adult contemporary stations before landing in Louisville in 1974. He has a classic booming, old-timey announcer sound, has done extensive voice-over and commercial work, and has recorded over 1,000 talking books for the blind.  In 1991, after the Gulf War broke out, he was tapped by IED. It was the beginning of tighter airport security, and Fox sounded strong.

“They needed a male voice that was friendly yet authoritative,” says Fox.

Taking the Mystery Out of ABLE Accounts

By Christopher Gray

On April 24, 2017 Missouri State Treasurer Eric Schmitt issued a notice stating that ABLE accounts had come to Missouri.  ABLE stands for "A Better Life Experience" and was enacted by Congress in December, 2014.  ABLE accounts are vitally important to the disabled community because they allow for the sheltering of significant sums of money.  In other words, you can place money into an ABLE account without it having any effect on your SSDI or SSI, or virtually any other entitlement program such as blind pension, Medicaid or food stamps. 

Shortly after ABLE accounts were made possible in Missouri, Treasurer Schmitt determined that recipients of blind pension could not shelter money in an ABLE account without it effecting their blind pension eligibility.  In 2018, State Representative Sarah Unsicker (d) St. Louis offered legislation that would remedy this situation and make it possible for blind pension recipients to be afforded the same possibilities for sheltering money as any other disabled person in Missouri.  This legislation ultimately passed as part of HB 2171 and was signed by the Governor in May, 2018.  This provision of HB 2171 was indeed very good news for the blind of Missouri.

ABLE accounts have become especially important to many blind Missourians with the announced settlement of the blind pension litigation.  The settlement means that blind pension recipients on the program between 2001 and 2018 will receive a significant lump sum payment from the State.  That payment could be as much as $4,313.29.  In and of itself, this is great news.  But, what if such a payment would place a blind pension recipient over their allowable asset level for receiving blind pension?  Very possibly, an ABLE account could save a recipient from this scenario.  Probably most blind pension recipients are not at risk of exceeding their asset limit of $30,000.00.  However, there are a group of Supplemental Aid to the Blind recipients who also receive Supplemental Security Income. This group could very well be at risk of exceeding SSI/Medicaid asset limits. 

To answer some basic questions and get people started thinking about this possible option, a brief description is given below about ABLE accounts and how they work.  This article is by no means exhaustive.  But it is the basis for a longer seminar I plan to prepare in the very near future.

Getting started then, who is eligible to establish an ABLE account?  Anybody who became disabled before age 26 can establish an ABLE account.  By definition, a person who is legally blind under the federal definition of blindness is eligible as long as their visual impairment was diagnosed before they were 26 years of age.  In addition, the disability must last for at least one year or the person must have been disabled for at least one year before establishing an account. 

Participants in this program can shelter up to $100,000.00 of their own money.  Funds can be placed in the account up to $14,000 per year.  If you have a job, annual contributions can be significantly larger, but we won't go into those details here.  Just know the possibility could exist for you.  What is held under the ABLE program is money in addition to what are counted as assets, things like a car, jewelry or furniture.

The first step in participating in this program is to establish what is called a STABLE account.  STABLE Accounts allow individuals with disabilities to save and invest money without losing eligibility for certain public benefits programs, like Medicaid or SSI. Earnings in your STABLE Account are not subject to federal income tax, so long as you spend them on Qualified Disability Expenses. 

STABLE accounts can only be established through an online process.  So, if you do not use a computer you will have to find somebody to assist you in establishing your account.  It is easy to do and should take you no more than 30-45 minutes.  The easiest way to check your balance and expenditures is online as well, but for $10 per year, you can have print, paper statements sent to you via U.S. mail.  You can withdraw money from your account via online request or by ordering what is essentially a debit card.  The debit card works like any other debit card so your money is readily accessible to you.

Funds in your STABLE account can be spent on numerous items, commonly referred to as "Qualified Disability Expenses".  Examples of such expenses as shown on the STABLE account website are: 

Education

·      Tuition for preschool through post-secondary education

·      Books

·      Supplies and educational materials

Housing

·      Expenses for a primary residence 

·      Rent

·      Purchase of a primary residence

·      Mortgage payments

·      Real property taxes

·      Utility charges

NOTE: SSI benefits can be affected if you use ABLE funds for any housing expenses. See the "Benefits" section of our website for more information 

Transportation

·      Expenses for transportation

·      Use of mass transit

·      Purchase or modification of vehicles

·      Moving expenses

Employment Support

·      Moving expenses

·      Expenses related to obtaining and maintaining employment

·      Job-related training

Health Prevention and Wellness

·      Expenses for health and wellness

·      Premiums for health insurance 

·      Mental health, medical, vision, and dental expenses

·      Habilitation and rehabilitation services

·      Durable medical equipment

·      Therapy

·      Respite care

·      Long-term services and supports

·      Nutritional management

·      Communication services and devices

·      Adaptive equipment

·      Personal assistance

Assistive Technology and Personal Support

·      Expenses for assistive technology and personal support (e.g. a smartphone for a child with autism)

Miscellaneous Expenses

·      Financial management and administrative services

·      Legal fees

·      Expenses for oversight

·      Monitoring 

·      Home improvement, modifications, maintenance, and repairs

As you can see, "qualifying disability expenses" is an extremely broad definition and should allow you latitude for most expenses you may have.  One very critical caveat here is that you must keep track of all such expenses as you could be subject to IRS audit and will have to justify any money you send from your STABLE account.  In other words, keep all your receipts and STABLE account statements.  Mark each expense in the appropriate category as you make it.  Don't put this off until some future indeterminate time.

Your STABLE account is similar to a bank account, but technically speaking, it is an investment account.  You can make money on your investments and that money is not taxable.  Withdrawals for qualifying disability expenses are also not taxable.  This is quite different than a 401K, annuity or other similar accounts where withdrawals are taxable.  In order to manage your investments, you can choose from five different investment options.  Once you have made that choice, the STABLE account managers do the heavy lifting of specific investing for you. 

Establishing a STABLE account is relatively easy.  Go to www.moable.com and choose the "Establish an Account" link.  Before opening an account, you may want to review this website as it contains much more information than is included here.  A lot of that information may be more relevant to people with disabilities in addition to blindness. 

While filling out the application form, you will be asked to certify information about your disability.  Your word is taken at face value for the claims you make here and specific formal documentation is not necessary to establish the account.  Just be mindful that you must collect and keep handy all such documentation should you ever be asked to verify your claims. 

Finally, a STABLE account is your personal property.  It is yours for life.  Should you pass away, the account is either disposed of in accordance with your will or through probate.  It is handled as a part of your estate. 

To sum up, this is a high-level view of the "A Better Life Experience" program.  Many will doubtless have additional questions and have circumstances that haven't been addressed here.  Continue to watch the Chronicle for additional information.  It is also my hope to expand this article into a presentation that could be done online or that I could bring to your affiliate meeting for a more interactive discussion.  It was important though to get an overview to you now so you can think about and weight your overall options.  Let me know if you would like further information or an interactive presentation about the ABLE program in your affiliate.

Public Relations

By Wilma Chestnut-House

MCB is hosting their first health fair on September 22, 2018 at the Rehab building next door to Missouri School for the Blind.  There is information on the new web site if you are interested in participating or attending.  Lets make this the first of many fairs that MCB hosts.  I know that in the last four years, I have attended many for other organizations.  I know that we can have as many attendants and participants.  Go on the web site and check it out.  There will be many exciting vendors and speakers. 

Our White Cane Safety Day will be held on October 13, 2018.  I would like to have more participation from all affiliates.  This walk is supposed to be statewide.  I am reaching out to Kansas City and other cities around Missouri.  Gather up some friends and family members to make this a successful day.  We are just making the public aware of our safety needs.  Get busy and lets do this!  We are also supposed to be donating ¼ of our donations that we receive to MCB. 

Delta Area Blind has been our top donator for the last three years.  Hats off to them!

I am still asking for recipes from any affiliates that would like to participate in the MCB cookbook.  I would like to have these recipes before the state convention.  I need enough time to organize them and get them set up for audio, large print, and braille.  I would like to be ready to sell them at the next ACB convention, any fairs that are attended, and our own 2019 state convention.  You can e mail your recipes to wilmachouse@gmail.com.  No recipes will be accepted after the state convention.

Affiliates Reporting

Joplin Service Club of the Blind

By Mary Coe

As I knocked on many doors, the one through which I walked allowed me to make a move to the city of Joplin, Missouri.  Upon arrival, the door was open for me leading me into the Joplin Service Club of the Blind of which I am a proud member.  Several months later, Secretary Linda Russell’s second term needed to be filled due to her health and I finished it, serving two more terms on my own afterwards  This is my final term as secretary and I am proud to have been able to serve. 

Our Missouri Council of the Blind Board Representative, Jim Murray, attended the American Council of the Blind Conference during the month of July and brought back a lot of useful information.  We are looking forward to the Missouri Council’s convention coming up in October. While we have sadly lost three members to death since the first of the year,  we are happy to report that we have accepted five new members.  We are excited to see how we will go forward in the coming year.  Till next time, don’t worry – be happy.

St. Charles County Council of the Blind

By Margy Petrofsky

I hope everybody stayed cool these last three hot months.  I did not mention our new officers or shall I say our new old officers.  Denny Huff is president, Beverly Kaskadden is treasurer, and Kim Reese is second vice president, Allen and Jamie Newsom are secretary and Johanna is our social director.

At our May meeting, we talked business at hand and summer camp.  It ended with Johanna leading us in a game of Name That Tune from recorded music she had on her phone.  The best part was she also brought cookies and brownies.

At our June meeting, we had Racheal Melton as a guest speaker, she is with an organization called, Minds Eye.  She informed us of their services, they provide headphones upon request for blind and visually impaired people who want to go to the Muny, Fox or any type of theater or play.  The headphones will describe everything that is going on through a personal interpreter.

We were going to go to the winery but it had rained all day so we ended up going to the Lewis and Clark Restaurant in St. Charles for a late lunch or early dinner.  After we ordered and the food was brought out to us the server said, "how does everything look?" 

Hello to Everyone from Delta Area Blind

By Wanda Matlock

By the time you receive this issue of the chronicle, several of our members would have enjoyed their week-long and extended weekend summer vacation at Camp Cobblestone. Thanks to the MCB Summer Camp Program, we can enjoy a summer vacation at a very reasonable cost.  Thanks to the Summer Camp Committee for all the hard work they put into this program.

Five of the Delta Area members will be attending the MCB Convention held on October 5th through the 7th in Jefferson City, Missouri.  We are excited that one of our members was chosen for the First Timer’s Grant.  His name is Craig Ancell and he is our current Vice-President.

We have already begun working on the preparations for the White Cane Awareness Day to be held on Saturday, October 13th.  The Walk will be held at the Malone Park in Sikeston.  We have invited SEMO United Blind Club and River City Workers of the Blind to join us for this activity.

Our affiliate is always proud when we can report that our funding this year allowed us to award the Lola B. Garner Scholarship to three young ladies.  This Scholarship will help them to pursue their dream of a higher education.  Until next time, have a safe and happy Autumn!

Blind of Central Missouri

By Marilyn Harding

It seemed to be a short quiet summer but a lot was going on behind the scene . In May , we began working on our fundraiser. it was a great success.  We participated in a United Way sponsored program in which we donated personal care items. The list of items ran the length of the page.  Even we were impressed.

We solidified the plans for our June picnic .It was held the end of June with good food and company. Unfortunately, the swimming party was canceled due to weather.

The June campers had a wonderful time. The weather could not have been better.

We are working on plans for the August convention in Jefferson City.  It`s going to be great.

Agape and Camp Abilities-St. Louis

By Wilma Chestnut-House, Director

This was the third year for Camp Abilities-St. Louis.  On our first year, we almost had to beg for campers.  This year we were full a month before camp started. 

Our campers were eager to learn.  They participated in every sport that we taught them.  I think we might have some more beep baseball candidates.  Thanks to Jack and June Lenk, we might even have a league of bowlers for MSB. 

AGAPE donated some baseball caps for the campers that were greatly appreciated.  I would like to thank Mr. G. Barney and the MSB staff for all that they do for our camp.  The biggest shout out goes out to Tom Culliton and the USABA.  These people have been our greatest supporters from the beginning.  If you or your group would like to donate to the camp, checks should be made payable to USABA-MO Chapter, Inc and mailed in care of Tom Culliton at 6714 Scalin Ave, St. Louis  MO 63139.  Thank you.

On September 30, I am going to run one mile in the name of MCB with a friend.  At camp, I learned how to use the tether. This run is for Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital.  They are the project for AGAPE Council this year.  If anyone is interested in participating or donating, please contact me.

ATI Special Affiliate News

By Darrel Vickers, President

Hi everyone, my term as your president is about over. It has been my privilege to serve in this position for the past four years.  I have learned a lot. There are things I am proud of and things I regret. As far as regrets I could have done a better job in communicating.  I wish I could have been able to get members more engaged so we could accomplish more.  I worked  hard to get new members and we did. Although we have brought in many new members we lost or failed to retain about the same number.

Business wise we are much better off. Our 501(c)3 has been reinstated and we remain in good standing with the IRS. We have done ok with fundraising and we have much more money in the bank. We were also able to donate $750 back to MCB over the past two years. I hope we can donate again this year.

We created our own website to make joining  and paying dues easier. There is also an article section with a lot of adaptive technology information.

The Convention:

Our annual in-person meeting will be held Friday night from 5:15 to 6:30 pm.  Among the fun stuff we will need to elect a New President and Vice President. We are both termed out.

Who are We:

Adaptive Technology Inc. is a special interest affiliate of MCB.  We discuss, support and encourage adaptive (assistive) technology for the blind and low vision community.  We host the vendor room at the MCB convention.  We have our own website with a plethora of information about technology and how to get the most out of it.  I invite anyone with an interest in adaptive technology or who wants to know more about it to join.  Dues are $15 annually.  Because we are an affiliate, if you are a member of ATI you are a full member of MCB.

App’s and Gadgets:

BuzzClip:  A wearable mobility tool for the blind.  It is a small and discreet wearable for people living with blindness or partial sight. The device uses ultrasound to detect obstacles that may lie directly in one's path. It then notifies the user of these obstacles through intuitive vibrations, allowing the user to safely navigate around any objects that they may encounter. The BuzzClip offers essential head level obstacle detection and can be easily held or attached to many forms of clothing, making it a highly versatile and useful device.  All aspects of the BuzzClip from its design to its functionality have been created with the customer in mind. It is an extremely practical mobility tool that can reduce fears of travelling as it provides a reliable way to inform a user of their immediate surroundings and prevent collisions.  For more information: visit https://www.imerciv.com/.  I said in my last article I hoped to get one of these. Well  I got it a couple of weeks ago. The verdict is still out as whether I like it. I will bring it to our meeting at the convention. We can talk about it and anyone  can try it out.

Sound Scape by Microsoft for IOS (free): Microsoft Soundscape is a research project that explores the use of innovative audio-based technology to enable people, particularly those with blindness or low vision, to build a richer awareness of their surroundings, thus becoming more confident and empowered to get around. Unlike step-by-step navigation apps, Soundscape uses 3D audio cues to enrich ambient awareness and provide a new way to relate to the environment. It allows you to build a mental map and make personal route choices while being more comfortable within unfamiliar spaces. 

I have mentioned this app before. It is different than any navigation app I have tried, and I have tested a lot of them. This is a little story about this app. I was out walking the other day. We have a small baseball park for kids about  four blocks from my house. I stopped there to take a little break. I was checking out some stuff on my phone and opened the Sound Scape. Ok, here is the interesting part. I ask the app my location. It told me the name of this field. I did not even know it had a name. Then I ask it for things near me, just to see what businesses it would pick up. It got them all correct both in direction and distance. But here is the amazing part. The first thing on the list was “bathroom 6 feet to my left.” So I got up and walked a couple of steps and there was a bathroom door. I never knew this little field even had a bathroom.  I am going to work a lot more with this app from now on.  Take Care, Darrel, phone 636-667-3176 or email darrel@ww4b.org.

COMMITTEES REPORTING

Convention

By Jesuita Tabor, Convention Chair

It’s time to prepare for the 2018 convention in Jefferson City at Capital Plaza from October 4-7th, 2018.

Please make note of the following changes for this Convention.  Convention will end Sunday October 7th at 10:30 am.  The Restaurant hours are 6:00 am until 2:00 pm.  To accommodate our group, they will have extended hours on Thursday, October 4th from 5:00 pm to 9:00 pm.  The restaurant bar opens at 2:00 pm with a limited menu.  Voting will take place Saturday afternoon this year.

Please feel free to sign up for Library Users Breakfast and the BRL Luncheon.  Looking forward to seeing you at the Convention.

You Might Have…

By Mary Hale, Dual Vision and Hearing Loss Chair

I know, I know it is me again talking about hearing loss again. It is because I really care that so many with blindness are also dealing with hearing loss issues that can harm them, when they do not need to.

You might have hearing loss if you

·           need frequent repetition

·           have difficulty following conversations involving more than two people

·           think that other people sound muffled or like they're mumbling

·           have difficulty hearing in noisy situations, like conferences, restaurants, malls, or crowded meeting rooms

·           have trouble hearing children and women

·           have your TV or radio turned up to a high volume

·           answer or respond inappropriately in conversations

·           have ringing in your ears

·           feel stressed out from straining to hear what others are saying

·           feel annoyed at other people because you can't hear or understand them

·           feel embarrassed to meet new people or from misunderstanding what others are saying

·           feel nervous about trying to hear and understand

·           withdraw from social situations that you once enjoyed because of difficulty hearing

·           have a family history of hearing loss

·           take medications that can harm the hearing system (ototoxic drugs).

·           have diabetes, heart, circulation or thyroid problems

·           have been exposed to very loud sounds over a long period or single exposure to explosive noise.

If you have any questions at all, please call or email me. I would be happy to talk with you. Phone 314-807-3072 or email meh331@sbcglobal.net

MCB Scholarship Report

By Wanda Matlock, Scholarship Chair

The MCB Scholarship Committee held a meeting via conference call on May 9th, 2018 at 7:00 pm.  The purpose of the conference call was to discuss the applications that we received for the 2018-2019 school year.

The Scholarship Committee received a total of 9 applications.  Four applicants are MCB members, and each received the full scholarship amount of $2,000.00.  Three applicants are non MCB members, and each received half the scholarship amount of $1,000.00.  Two applicants did not meet the MCB Guidelines. 

The 2018-2019 Scholarship budget was $16,000.00.  The amount awarded for scholarships was $11,000.00.  The amount remaining in budget is $5,000.00.  Thank you.

Summer Camp Report

By Beverly Kaskadden, Summer Camp Chair

Missouri Council of the Blind offers a variety of valuable programs because of the ongoing efforts of our donors and members. It takes a tremendous effort to keep these programs running. 

This year we have had new members attending the Summer Camp Program.  I contribute this to the donation from a past member who loved this program.  She set some funds aside to make it possible for someone to attend camp who would not be financially able without her help.  It has been such a success that I would love to see more individuals contribute to this fund.  It will be disheartening when this fund is exhausted.

Our June week at Cobblestone was absolutely perfect!  I didn’t have to accompany anyone to the emergency room!  I can say it was a good week when no one was seriously hurt.  Well, someone did fall into a flower pot, but that doesn’t count.  No names!

I have had too many cancellations for the July week due to health concerns, so these things happen before they come to Cobblestone.  I want them to take care of themselves so they will be back next year, or even in September.

I had better cut this short because I am getting way too windy!  Hope to see you soon.  Beverly Kaskadden, 636-561-6947 or 636-541-2503 or email bkaskadden@centurytel.net.

Adaptive Technology Grant Committee

By Darrel Vickers, Chair

Hi Everyone,  I want to take a minute to give you an update on our technology grants and provide an overview of this great program for those of you who might not be aware of it and how it works.

Missouri Council knows how life changing, certain types of technology can be to a blind person. We are also aware the cost of this type of technology can be expensive and may be out of reach for some people.  Therefore, MCB provides the adaptive technology grant for technology that blind persons of Missouri can apply for, to help offset the cost of adaptive technology.

For MCB members, MCB will match dollar for dollar for most types of adaptive technology with a $3000 limit over any five (5) year period. Any blind resident of Missouri who is not a member of MCB can also receive a grant, but we will match 25% of the total cost with the same $3000 limit.

We have approved forty seven (47) grants since September 1st. As of this writing, July 2018 we have exhausted our budget. So we are out of funds until our new fiscal year starts on November 1st. If the Board approves the same amount as last year we will have $30,000 for fiscal year 2019. Note: MCB changed it’s fiscal year to run November1 to October 31 at last years convention.

I anticipate the Board approving the same $30,00 funding amount for 2019.

The MCB technology grant is a matching grant to help Missouri blind and low vision persons obtain all types of adaptive technology. The Missouri Council of the Blind (MCB) created this Adaptive Technology Grants Program to help fulfill its mission of enriching the lives of legally blind Missourians. Adaptive technology can be very expensive so MCB understands why many legally blind Missourians are not benefiting from its use. For the purpose of this grant program, adaptive technology is considered hardware, software, electronics, equipment, etc. that is standalone or works in conjunction with a computer that makes it possible for blind people to do things that sighted people can already do without using adaptive technology.

The Adaptive Technology Grants Program widely covers both hardware and software based adaptive technology, including upgrades and maintenance agreements, and narrowly covers computer systems as required by or used in conjunction with accompanying adaptive technology, such as screen magnification software, screen reader software, or a scanning system. Purchase of a computer along with or for use with accompanying adaptive technology is only eligible for up to a $400 matching funds grant. Only new adaptive technology and computers are covered, including adaptive technology upgrades to newer versions; used or previously owned adaptive technology and computers are not covered.

Note: A full copy of the grant guidelines as well as an application can be found on our web site at: http://moblind.org/programs/ or by contacting the MCB office at (314) 832-7172. You can also contact me anytime.

This is a wonderful program and I encourage you to take advantage of it if you need to.

The adaptive technology committee is made up of three members; Darrel Vickers, Nancy Lynn and Donna Giger.

If you have any questions about the program please contact me at darrel@ww4b.org or by phone at 636-667-3176.

Until next time, take Care.

From the Multi Media Committee

By Darrel Vickers

It has been a long time coming but as of August 1, the new MCB website is live.  This committee covers many facets of communications for MCB. So, we have broken up some of the responsibilities as follows.

Darrel Vickers has primary oversite for the website. However, if you want something added or changed, contact the office. Only Virginia and Eleanor can add or edit content.

If you notice a problem or want to see a section added or just want to make a comment, please click the send feedback email link at the bottom of any page. This email will go to Darrel.

We have worked hard to ensure our new website is accessible to the blind and low vision community as well as pleasing for the sighted community. The site is responsive, so it works equally well on computers, smart phones and tablets.

With this new platform we can no longer host our own email or mailing list like chat, etc. So, we moved all of our mailing lists to a new platform called groups.io. This was completed in July and the old lists are now gone. We still have the Missouri chat, Missouri-L, ATI, and Education and Advocacy lists but they have new addresses. If you want to join one or all of our lists, go to our website at www.moblind.org. You will find the instructions to join under Resources/ Get Connected / Mailing List.  If you have any problems, please contact Chris Judd at chrischas0805@charter.net or by phone at 314-956-4377.

Terri Nord has overall responsibility for Audio. This includes streaming meetings and all the sound production at the convention. He has been working on improving all aspects of our audio production to ensure the best possible listener experience. He is checking all our equipment and replacing and upgrading it when needed.

The Committee:  Chris Judd, Chair, Terry Nord, Janelle Edwards and Darrel Vickers as members with Denny Huff and Chris Gray.

MD Support provides LowViz Guide App

Let indoor wayfinding technology be your guide around our event this year. MD Support is providing its new LowViz Guide app at no cost to you or us. Just download it to your iPhone or iPad and let it describe all points of interest and routes throughout the hotel lobby and meeting areas.

For important information, see www.mdsupport.org/audio guide.  Everything you need to know is there, including:

•       A direct download link to the App Store

•       Instructions for use

•       Frequently asked questions

•       An audio/visual demonstration of the app

•       What you need to know ahead of time

•       Articles and audio broadcasts about LowViz Guide. 

MD Support personnel will be on hand to provide technical assistance, but your advance preparation will make using the LowViz Guide application faster and easier.

MCB Candidate Announcements

President Announcement

By Darrel Vickers

Hi, My name is Darrel Vickers and I am declaring my candidacy for president of Missouri Council of the Blind.  I love MCB and fully support  our mission.

My Background (short version) is in small business.  From commissioned sales person , sales manager, general manager and for the last 11 years before I retired in 2011 I owned a small business.  Except for construction until I graduated high school and joined the Navy it has all been in the information technology field.

I joined MCB in 2010 so compared to most members I am just a Pup.  By 2010 I knew I wanted to retire. Both of my kids had graduated college.  My daughter was married and my son was about to be, so the pressure was off.  I knew if I were to retire I had to get involved in something where I might make a difference.

Denny Huff introduced me to MCB when he was trying to start an affiliate in my area in 2010. Unfortunately we could not get it going but Denny stayed in touch. He suggested I might enjoy coming to the weekend camp at Cobblestone Lodge and even gave me a ride up and back.

There is where my passion for MCB really got started. I met so many interesting and wonderful people like the Shockley’s, the Hallow’s, Beverly Kaskadden, Linda Gerkin and her wonderful mom Emma Lu and so many others. When we were coming home, Denny casually told me MCB needed a person to sit on the Wolfner Advisory Board so I said yes.

Then a while later, he ask me to join our special interest affiliate, ATI, so I did. The following year, I ran for its president and now I am in my last year in the position.

In 2015 I ran for one of the three Director positions and was surprised when I won, mainly because I was not that well known. In 2017, I was elected to another term.

So currently, I am the president of ATI. I sit on the Board of MCB as one of the three generally elected directors and I Chair the Adaptive Technology Grant Committee.  I also sit on the Budget and Finance Committee, Resource and Development Committee, Personnel Committee and the Strategic Plan Core Committee.

What I hope you take away from the above is I am committed to this great organization and the wonderful people who make it successful.  I know I still have much to learn. I also know there are great leaders, past and present who will continue to guide me as they do for all of us.

I am respectfully asking for your vote for president of MCB.  If you would like to ask me a question or just talk, my phone number is 636-667-3176.  Thank you.

Vice President Announcement

By Wilma Chestnut-House

I would like to announce to the MCB members my candidacy for Vice-President.  The November leadership conference inspired me to seek this position. 

When I was voted to become Public Relations Director, I had no experience.  I jumped in with both feet and ran with it.  I learned and grew as I participated in the many fairs, exhibitions, and speaking engagements.

The only promise I am making is that I will assist our new president to the best of my ability.  I will represent and serve MCB and its’ members with respectability.

After reading the duties of vice president, I am confident that I can fill this position successfully.  I would appreciate your support and vote in October.  Thanking you in advance!

Vice President Announcement

By Naomi Soule

I am announcing my candidacy for Vice President  of Missouri Council Of The Blind.  I will bring my expertise to the Vice President position from working on various boards and committees, both in MCB and ACB as well as other civic organizations and cross disability committees.

I currently hold a Directors position on The MCB Board, and Chair the Strategic Plan Committee, and served in the same role in 2009.  I served on the MCB Host Committee for the 2018 ACB Convention. I served on the 2017 Midwest Leadership Convention Committee, held in Omaha, Nebraska.  I am on the ACB International Committee, and have also served as Chair of the Rehabilitation Taskforce, ACB's Employment Committee, and chaired the Undergraduate Sub Committee in the mid 90's.  I held a seat on the ACB National Board in 2005 for one term.  I  now serve on the ACB Convention Program Committee, and served on the 2018 ACB  Auction Committee.  Other boards and Advisory Committee's  I have served on have included Missouri Assistive Technology Council, Governors COUNCIL on Disabilities BOARD, Chaired St.  Louis's 25th ADA Celebration Committee in 2010, and served on the Double Helix Board (community radio station KDHX) in the early 90's as well as  chaired KDHX's Personnel Committee.  I am proud to have served on  the Universal Design Group with the National Park Service and the Gateway Arch.  I served on the Metro Advisory Committee for 15 years, and have participated in training Metro Bus Drivers  regarding sensitivity towards people with disabilities.  I served on the MindsEye board and organized the first two major  fundraising events for MindsEye.  Professionally, I spent 18 years as a District Supervisor for  Rehabilitation Services For The Blind, and 2 years as an  Employment Specialist.  I also worked on various projects, such  as employee interview committees, organized two student events, worked on the team that chose a software program for staff and helped make sure the software was completely accessible for both blind and low vision staff.  I am on the Centene National Disability Advisory Committee, and  serve as the Chair of the Employment Committee. 

I have participated in training Centene's Human Resource staff from all  over the county in hiring people with disabilities, and have placed three blind individuals in corporate positions. I have  also participated in sensitivity training for Nestle Purina, Express  Scripts and Washington University School Of Law. 

I worked for IBM for 11-1/2 years in recruiting as well as Event  Management.  My husband and I worked as a morning team on a rock station in Columbia from 1993 to 1995, and now host "The Acoustic Edge" on Sunday afternoons on 89.1 KCLC  at Lindenwood University.  I look forward to lending my knowledge and expertise as MCB’s Vice  President.

Director Announcement

By Kay Malmquist

My name is Kay Malmquist.  Depending on what happens in this years election, a Position could open for a director on the MCB board.  I am announcing my intent to run for this position should it open. 

Some of you know a little about me but I would like to tell you more, so you understand who I am.  I lived in Wisconsin and had a family consisting of my husband, Dave, two kids and a house full of various animals of one sort or another.

While in Wisconsin I worked at Industries for the Blind's satellite facility in Janesville WI.  I worked there as an assembler and a job coach for a variety of people.  I also was on the board of the Wisconsin council of the Blind, which is not affiliated with the American council of the Blind.  I was on a few committees and chaired the scholarship committee for a few years.  I was also involved with the ACB of Wisconsin that is affiliated with the American Council of the blind, and served as state president for two years.  I was also a member of the Janesville Evening Lion's and was involved with several of their fundraisers.  

I worked for a business called ATR, Adaptive Technology Resources, training clients on adaptive tech and doing installs, set up and whatever might have been needed. 

I moved to a farm in Oklahoma for several years and became active in organizations having to do with different types of farm animals, their care and marketing.  My focus was to bring new ideas to these clubs and help them stay current in the latest advancements.

I also was involved with Guide Dog Users Inc. for a few years and was on their board as fundraiser chair and Affiliate liaison.  On a side note, I have been training animals from exotics to domestic since I was 14 and am a Touch practitioner in training.  I absolutely love working with people and their companion animals, helping them to solve their problems or just understand what is happening.  This is quite rewarding.

Dave, my former partner died over six years ago.  I moved to St. Louis in 2013 and stayed here, getting involved with UWB  and SASI, Sight and Sound Impaired of St. louis. I am currently the president of United workers for the Blind.  I met Terry Nord a couple of years ago and moved up to Minnesota and we were Married.  We decided to move back here and are getting to know more people.  We really enjoy life around here and have become Members of the South Side Lion's.  I was elected to serve a two-year term as a director on their board in June this year. I feel that I could be a real asset to the board because I work well with people. Meeting new friends is something I have always looked forward to. I have worked with and for the blind and visually impaired for many years and feel that for this reason I would be a benefit to the Missouri Council of the Blind.  I know that I bring a lot of talent to the table.  I would truly like to be a part of this organization and be the change if and when it is needed.  It would be my pleasure to serve you all in this capacity.  

I would love to be given this chance.  Respectfully, Kay Malmquist, kay.malmquist@gmail.com.

Wolfner Library's Third Annual Teen Poetry Contest

Wolfner Library is excited to announce that this year's third annual teen poetry contest offers some amazing prizes provided by the Friends of Wolfner Library! Teens must submit their poems between October 15 and December 12 for judging. First place will receive a Mac Book Air! Second and third place winners will receive iPads! The iPad will feature standard wireless connectivity (cellular service not included). More information is available on Wolfner Library's Teen Poetry Contest website: https://www.sos.mo.gov/wolfner/programs/teen-poetry-contest.

We also have an early literacy program for blind and visually impaired children between birth and 6 years of age, which parents can learn more about at https://www.sos.mo.gov/wolfner/programming/wolfner-racing-to-read.

Yes!

By Danny Lawrence, MCB Member

Why are you going to college? When you get your degree, who will hire you? Don’t you know that disabled people do not last long in a mainstream environment? Despite these common questions asked of me, a totally blind individual, from my visually-impaired critics, I have learned to persevere.

My perseverance began at my alma mater, the Missouri School for the Blind, where I became the national wrestling champion, a two-term student government president, and a Lions Club president. At St. Louis Community College at Forest Park, I maintained my perseverance as a Phi Theta Kappa member, an Honors Program student, and a student mentor. As a mentor, I provided peer tutorial and motivational support in the Academic Support Center and supervised a student lounge for Campus Life. Working hard in the classroom often earned me rewarding results such as having the highest test scores in my earth science course or leading a group presentation in a communications class. Perseverance led me beyond the campus to establish Just Like Me, a community organization for men with disabilities.

People who persevere thrive on challenges. Extolled for its premier learning opportunities, intellectual rigor, and invigorating philanthropic efforts, Washington University offers exciting challenges for me to continue growing from my foundation of perseverance. I believe most problems can be removed without twenty-twenty vision because communication is the key to solutions. Thus, my academic goal to earn a bachelor’s degree in communications will provide me knowledge, skills, and experiences so that I can better address problems related to mainstreaming. I would enjoy participating in Washington University’s activities and organizations for individuals with disabilities. Also, I would like to be active in other campus organizations to suggest means to reach individuals with disabilities at Washington University or in the St. Louis area.

My academic and civic pursuits strengthen my professional goals. According to Erickson, Lee, and von Schrader (2017), the unemployment rate for individuals with disabilities is nearly 64 percent. I believe if you want a miracle, you must be the miracle to make it happen. Thus, my experiences at Washington University will help me become the owner of a small communications business that provides both training experiences and employment opportunities to individuals with visual impairments and other disabilities. 

It is often said that if you can see it, you can achieve it.  However, can you achieve it if you can’t see it? My answer is yes!

MINUTES

April 28, 2018

President Huff called the Meeting to order by conference call at 10:01 A.M.

Secretary Noriega called the roll. All officers were in attendance. The following Chapter Affiliates had no representative present:

Lake Stockton Area Council of the Blind, Pony Express Association of the Blind, Rite for the Blind, St. Louis Council of the Blind, St. Louis Northern Lights, and Springfield Service Club of the Blind.

Guests included Patty Schonlau, Jeff La Montia, Yusef Vaga and online listeners.

Wanda Matlock offered a word of prayer.

Mike Keller moved the Agenda approved as amended.  The motion passed.

Approval of Minutes from the January 25, 2018 meeting were proposed by Shirley Brokaw. Her motion carried.

President Huff gave his report. He stressed the importance of having Board members making donations to support the activities of the MCB. This shows commitment to the Council and gives greater weight to the writing of grant proposals. President Huff said that HB 2171 seems to have stalled in the state Senate. This is the bill that would impose a 500 percent limit on spousal income on the Blind Pension. President Huff reminded the Board of the availability of grant funds to attend the ACB National Convention.

Highlights of the MCB Convention will include presentations by Talking Book Narrators Jack Fox and his daughter Jill Fox.

A multiple medal winner at the Paralympics will possibly be our banquet speaker at the state convention in October.

Executive Director Chris Gray gave his report.  Much of his time has been focused on issues related to the Blind Pension. Planning for the state convention has been progressing.  Mr. Gray has revised a paper on how to include MCB in estate planning. He may need to purchase lists of estate planners to expand our donor base.

He introduced Yusef Vaga who is employed by Fundraising Foundation Search. Mr. Vaga explained his plan to benefit MCB by putting the organization’s fundraising efforts on a more professional footing. Mr. Vaga answered Board questions and detailed how he proposed to use advanced computer searches to locate funding grants that match the kind of activities MCB provides. He will also train our office staff to use the database his company utilizes and provide support.

Executive Director Gray recommended we sign a contract with Mr. Vaga’s company.  

Director Vickers moved signing the contract and the motion carried on a voice vote.

Treasurer Vaughn gave the Treasurer’s Report. He presented the recommendation of the Finance Committee to change the model of investment. Raymond James offers two models and to follow the one approved by the investment committee required moving some of our investments into a different model than we currently follow. The motion passed.

Mr. Keller presented the policy guidelines for the youth camp sponsorships to be distributed from the Otella Robison Estate. Of the $3,000 Mrs. Robison wanted dedicated to youth programs, up to $600 was proposed as the upper limit per child to attend camp. The policy was accepted by a voice vote.

One affiliate was found to be out of compliance with state bylaws, but has since come into compliance. A policy for noncompliance was proposed and passed by a voice vote. This policy will come to the floor as a bylaw amendment at the state Convention for membership approval and added to the state bylaws if approved at that time.

Patty Schonlau, as Chair of the Sensitivity Training Committee, outlined what the committee had completed. Several Board members questioned various items such as the areas covered, equipment to be demonstrated and how the material would be tailored to meet the needs of different audiences. Questions were asked regarding how the availability of this program would be handled.

Executive Director Gray felt that offering this training could be another program we could seek grant funding to support.

The scope of the materials generated by the committee ranged from those appropriate for children to cover home health, healthcare, professional settings, higher education, business and hotel staff training. The motion to approve the material was passed by voice vote. A line item of $2,500.00 was added to the budget.

President Huff reviewed the history of opening the Springfield thrift store. Jeff La Montia described the current location and the increased problems with increased crime, influx of homeless people which is driving down sales as customers feel unsafe. His plan to open in a recently vacated Goodwill which is in a low crime area, with great visibility, a guaranteed high traffic flow will allow the store to meet its overhead for both locations until the lease runs out. Sabrina Fowler moved the granting of $26,369.21 to pay the arrears of owed rent in order to avoid the liability of having to pay out the remainder of the lease until 2019. Since MCB’s name is on the lease, we would be obligated to pay $200,000 if this action isn’t taken.  The motion passed on a voice vote.

Darrell Vickers presented on the fact that Catchphrase, the company hired to handle the MCB website is unable to perform at the accessibility level we require. He recommended we go with a company called Firespring. He believes that they will be able to provide a product that is easy enough to add content that the office staff will be able to handle it. The will charge $3,500 to setup the website and a $95 per month ongoing fee support services to the office staff and maintenance costs. Firespring is a one-stop shop that specializes in working with nonprofits. He believes the website will be up by August 1st. This company has been in business for ten years. We will not be tied by a contract. The multimedia Committee moved adoption of Firespring as our website host. The motion passed.

Executive Director Gray presented a request to fund the MCB spend $100 for donation to the ACB Auction and $1,000 to sponsor the MCB team for the ACB Brenda Dillon tenth annual Memorial Walk. Jesuita Tabor moved we designate $1,000 to support the MCB team in the ACB Walk.  The motion carried. Director Vickers moved we spend $100 to purchase an item to donate to the ACB Auction.  The motion passed.

Naomi Soule, Chair of the strategic planning Committee reported on the progress made following the strategic plan.  She outlined some of the details of the upcoming ACB Convention.  She discussed the MCB hosting a Trivia Night.  She proposed that each Board member submit the names of three potential donors.  She discussed putting together a packet of information about the Missouri Council of the Blind.

The meeting to restart the Jefferson City Chapter of the Council was not successful. Officer job descriptions have been completed. The Board Member Handbook will include a copy of the strategic plan. Terry Nord is working on preparations to stream the MCB Convention. Director Soule talked about the Give St. Louis Day, May 2.

Director Brokaw moved the meeting into closed session.  No action resulted. 

From the Lower Left-Hand Drawer

by John Weidlich

I am back with a few items that I hope you will find useful or entertaining. Did any of you buy something new at the ACB Convention that you are finding helpful? If so, share with the Chronicle readers. Donna purchased a new low vision lamp from the VFO Group and I looked at a couple of interesting new notetakers, the Orbit and the Brailleme. So if you have anything new to share, just send me the information and it may find its way into the next column.

Our Membership Chair, Jannel Morris, and several other MCB members are attempting to form a new Special Interest Affiliate. It is the Missouri Council of Citizens with Low Vision. It will be a state affiliate of the Council of Citizens with Low vision International, a special interest group of ACB. the purpose of CCLVI and the Missouri affiliate is to address the special concerns and needs of people who have some vision but who are legally blind. As I know from the experiences of my wife Donna and other legally blind friends,  they often face problems and challenges that can be different from those of us who are totally blind, such as access to large print and good lighting in public places like restaurants. Each individual with legal blindness has different visual acuity in terms of what they can and cannot see.  Some can see close up objects but not things that are far away. some have good central vision but poor peripheral vision and vice versa. They need different levels of lighting and magnification to maximize the vision they have. The public often just can't understand those differences or what accommodations are needed.  The group has been holding conference calls to get the affiliate organized and hopes to be able to put in an application at the next convention to be part of MCB and it is looking like they may be able to do that. But they need a few more members and to gauge how much interest there is for such a group. Here is a copy of a flyer that Jannel and the others will be distributing in hopes of getting more members:

Missouri Council of Citizens with Low Vision (MCCLV)

MCCLV is an advocacy membership support group of American Council of the Blind’s Council of Citizens with Low Vision International (CCLVI) organization. 

MCCLV’s purpose is one of education and advocacy.  MCCLV will educate those with low vision on available resources that they may be able to utilize to maximize their vision and needs.  Educate the general public and professionals about low vision individuals and resources available.

Advocate for those with low vision for improved environmental conditions, blindness prevention, and improve access issues for those with low vision.

Support those with low vision by giving them a place to bring up issues and discuss resolving those issues.

MCCLV is a beginning group and has other things that we want to do. If you or someone you know is interested, please contact us using the information below or join our next conference call on Tuesdays at 7:00 pm CST at phone number 1-563-999-2058 access code 817074.  For more information, contact Jannel by email at Jannelm@Hotmail.com or call 573-355-3381 or CCLVI phone 1-844-460-0625.

That conference call number is likely to change by the time you read this, so check with Jannel if you are interested in participating. She can also give you more information about CCLVI, which currently has over 180 members nationwide.

National Braille Press always has new publications to offer so the next several items are all available from NBP. Rather than give the contact information for each item, I will give it after the last item.

Did you know that, on average, men are less healthy and have a shorter life expectancy than women? More than half of premature deaths among men are preventable, but you can't prevent a problem if you don't know it exists. Blueprint for Men's Health: a Guide to a Health Lifestyle by the Men's Health Network examines some of the main health issues faced by men: diabetes, cancer, prostate health, and substance abuse, discussing risk factors symptoms, and prevention and treatment strategies. Two Braille Volumes or a BRF File for $20. And there is also a book called For women Only:  Health Information Just for Women, also $20.

Here's another Health book: Diabetes: 68 Delicious recipes for the Whole Family: 68 easy recipes for Breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert hand-picked by registered dietician Peggy Woodward. One Braille Volume or downloadable File, $10.

Writing Your Way: Composing and Editing on an iPhone or iPad by Judy Dixon. I heard the author discuss this book at the ACB Convention and, although it was somewhat beyond my ability, it sounded like a useful and easy to use book for those interested in learning more about this topic. Two Braille Volumes and other formats for $20.

You and Your apple watch: a Guide for Blind Users by Anna Dresner, One Braille Volume and other formats, $12.

Most of you have some knowledge of the basic concepts found in the Declaration of Independence and the United states Constitution, but how many of you have read those documents in their entirety?  thanks to a Grant from  the American Legion Child Welfare Foundation, you can get a free Braille volume containing those historic documents for your reference. A good thing to have around when you hear politicians and justices talk about what the Constitution does or doesn't say.

This is just a small sample of so