March 2017 Chronicle

March 2017 Chronicle

Legislative Considerations for 2017

By Christopher Gray

It is hard to know what this legislative winter/spring hold for blind Missourians.  One thing we know for sure; it's going to be an interesting ride!

Pre-filing of bills has been relatively high in December, 2016 and the discussion underway about other bills is quite robust.

Bills range from positive, i.e. marking November as Missouri Diabetic Month, to potentially negative, block granting MO HealthNet/Medicaid.  This latter idea would be devastating to the blind of Missouri, not to mention the aged and disabled populations as well.  I have no doubt that as the legislative season progresses, many thoughts and ideas about this particular approach will be on the front burner for us all to consider.

Many other issues will be raised this year.  We already know there is a new version of the bill promoting the instruction of braille in schools.  There will doubtless be bills regarding accessible voting machines.  These will all be considered by the Education and Advocacy Committee during February. 

On March 15, we will present key objectives to legislators at the Capitol.

Never underestimate your ability to influence legislation in our great state!

You can make a difference, particularly by sharing your voice with other blind and visually impaired Missourians.  In 2012 we averted disaster when blind people could have lost their MO HealthNet coverage.  Whatever comes this year, I am sure we can find positive outcomes as well.  Stay in touch with your affiliate presidents and your representative on the Education and Advocacy Committee.  They can tell you the key issues and points to be made.  They will know who to contact in the legislature and Governor's office as well.

Let us hope for positive progress for all blind Missourians during this 2017 legislative season!



Affiliates Reporting

St. Louis Northern Lights Council

By Steve Schnelle, President

I trust that everyone is staying happy and healthy this winter. Northern Lights is enjoying its second year in existence and finally able to give back to the community. This Christmas, we adopted a child with a visual impairment for Christmas. As a matter of fact one of our members is connected with a fostering program and our special guy was a foster child with multiple disabilities. This made it a challenge and a pleasure to serve him. As it turned out, we put our heads together and accommodated both sight and hearing impairments with our gifts. It is my hope that we are able to contact this agency next Christmas and make another foster child's Christmas special.

One of our members, Bob Selby has regained some sight thanks to the Argus implant that he received in October. He says that he can distinguish shapes, edges of objects, doorways and even watched the breakers come in on the beach in California when he attended meetings at the company that invented the Argus device. He was even featured on local TV. Bob says this is a major breakthrough for those with RP and is confident that others will soon be able to benefit from future improvements to this device. Our Cardinal ticket raffle will be announced again this spring so please look for it on the MCB lists. If you are not on the lists and still wish to purchase a raffle ticket you can call me, Steve Schnelle, at 314-440-0902. Here's hoping that summer comes soon and I can see you all at Cobblestone. Until next time take care and stay well.

Tiger Council of the Blind

By Gretchen Maune

Here in the heart of Missouri, the Tiger Council of the Blind has been keeping busy, despite having to cancel our January meeting due to an ice storm warning. Members have been coming up with different ways to reach out into the community more.

Many tigers gathered in December with Circle of Friends (a blind ministry sponsored by the Lutheran churches in the area) to assemble bags of donated toiletries to give to local shelters. This certainly warmed our hearts, and we hope it warmed the hearts of some of Columbia’s most disadvantaged citizens.

We had our 2016 holiday party at DeAnna and Curtis Noriega’s new house. Guests brought a festive variety of food, enjoyed old and new Christmas music, and had fun exchanging small gifts.

Want to join us? We meet on the second Friday of each month at Services for Independent Living, located at 1401 Hathman Place, Columbia, MO. Please like us on Facebook at Tiger Council of the Blind and follow us on Twitter @tiger_council! If you have questions, please contact Jannel Morris at jannelm@hotmail.comm or send us a message on social media!

Queen City Counsel Article

By Kelly Ruth

As I sit here I am wondering if everyone is looking forward to spring? I know I am even though here in Springfield, Mo we have had many warm days.

Well it's time to get down to business... we had a sad moment one of our charter members Pauline Smith, passed away in December, we all miss her dearly. Our chapter has been working on some new fundraiser ideas and hopes to come up with great ideas!  Well we look forward to hearing what other affiliates have to say.


By Darrel Vickers, President

Who we are:  Adaptive Technology Inc. is a special interest affiliate of MCB.  Because we are an affiliate, if you are a member of ATI you are a full member of MCB. For example, if you are a member of ATI there is no reason to also be a member at large.

What We Do:

  1. We discuss, support and encourage adaptive (assistive) technology for the blind.
  2. We host the vendor room at the MCB convention.
  3. We have our own web site with a plethora of information about technology and how to get the most out of it.

What is Adaptive Technology: Adaptive or assistive technology can be anything which helps a blind person carry out their everyday task and maintain as much independence as possible.  In my case, I lost my sight gradually due to a rare retinal disease. Specialized adaptive technology, such as a CCTV, computer display magnification software and screen reading software, saved my career that I loved. I was able to support my family, help the kids through college and retire because I wanted to and not because I had to.


I invite anyone with an interest in adaptive technology or who wants to know more about it to join us. To join, visit and click the membership tab.  Or contact me. Dues are $15 annually.

Featured Product:

PenFriend Audio Labeler. Label Anything with Your Voice - No Braille Needed

Revolutionary labelling system for anyone who's blind; no Braille required. Select item, peel off back of label and stick it on, Touch tip of PenFriend to label and hold down button to record your message. Shaped like a fat pen with speaker at the top, buttons down the side, and sensitive tip at the bottom. Use to label anything, leave audio messages, and as a note-taker. No limit to length of recorded messages; up to 250 hours of recording time.  It is available from The Braille Super Store or Maxi Aids and cost around $149.00.  Until next time.

Contact me by phone at 636-667-3176 or email to

Delta Area

By Wanda Matlock

Hello to everyone from Delta Area!  Before you receive this issue of the MCB Chronicle, I am hoping for much nicer weather.  I am happy to say that because of the hard work the Delta Area Members put into the White Cane Walk, we collected the most donations, therefore we won first place.  I am very proud of the members of Delta Area.

On November 29, we combined our Thanksgiving and Christmas party at the China King Buffet in Sikeston, Missouri. We invited our friends from River City Workers and SEMO United Blind Club along with some other special guest.  We thought we had a great turn out with 26 people in attendance.  On December 6, only two of us were able to go to our planned outing to St. Louis, to visit and shop at the Service Club.  We would like to thank Donna and Lisa for all their help.  We also got to visit with other friends that were at the Service Club that day.  After we went shopping, we went to Panera Bread to eat.  It was a great outing.

We had our January meeting on the 24th.  We are going to focus this year on trying to get new members to hopefully grow our affiliate.  We have put ads in several of our local newspapers and are having some business cards printed.  I ask that every Delta Area member invite at least one person to our next meeting on February28th.  From our affiliate to yours; we hope everyone has a safe and happy Spring!

Ozark Association of the Blind

By Yvonne Schnitzler

OAB is sad to report the death of Robert Brophy, a member for 15 years. In 1966, Bob opened the food service program at Jefferson College, Hillsboro and served as its service director for 35 years. In 1972, the cafeteria was renamed Brophy’s Place in his honor. He was one of the founders of the Fletcher House Foundation and its most recent president. He loved nature and the outdoors, and was the backbone of the foundation. He was active with the Hillsboro Lions Club. Bob earned his bachelor’s degree summa cum laude from Missouri Baptist University and a master’s degree in counseling.

Bob’s daughter, Susan Thurman, from Festus, said, “He set about proving that blindness doesn’t have to set limits on a person’s life. He felt like he needed to show by example that, no matter what you have going on physically, if you have the right mindset, you can accomplish whatever you want. He said, ‘you make the best of every situation and you never give up, no matter how hard your challenges are.”

OAB’s new officers are Melvin Brown, president; Joe Dobbs, vice president, Joan Meyers, secretary; and Yvonne Schnitzler, treasurer.

Blind of Central Missouri

By Joe Morgan

Hello from Sedalia!  I hope everyone is having a good winter. It hasn't been really bad yet. We held our annual Christmas party on December 4th. We had our dinner catered by the Little Big Horn restaurant. Everyone enjoyed the fried chicken and brisket and we sang some Christmas carols. We didn't have a meeting in January so in February we will be discussing plans for our picnic in June, a pizza party in March and fundraising ideas. Some sad news! We lost another member, Lillie Kretzer passed away on November 28th. She was one of our members over 90 years of age. That's all the news I have for this report. Until next time, keep smiling!

St. Charles County Council

By Beverly Kaskadden

In my last report I mentioned a possible new member for St. Charles Council.  I am so pleased to announce Kim Reece as a member of St. Charles Council.  We are so blessed to have Carol Baker and Kim as our recent new members.  They jump right in to participate in the activities of the Council.

Since we started our once a month social outing, we have had rave reviews.  In January we went to a Japanese restaurant in St. Peters.  Our member fellowship is always delightful, but this time we also had entertainment and a scrumptious meal.  Our chef was a gentleman from Thailand named Paul.  Our Japanese waitress was named Nancy.  I was expecting Japanese names, so I can’t help but smile when I was told their names.  Paul juggled 10 eggs with the knives.  At least he said he did.  I had to take his word for it.  He did say we were easy to entertain. We have Allan to thank for the recommendation for Kyoto’s in St. Peters.  All of us can highly recommend this restaurant.  You never know what we are going to come up with each month.  Yes, we still have business meetings.  They are never boring either.  Stay warm.

Southeast Missouri United Blind

By Mary Hock

Hello to everyone.  The holidays are behind us, and winter is here.  There is not a lot to share this time of the year.

Our affiliate traveled to Sikeston, and joined the Delta Area Club for a great Christmas meal.  Thanks, Delta Area Blind for asking us. We all had fun.  We had our Christmas dinner a week after Delta Area Blind, and again Nora Davis cooked the main course, with members of the club bringing the vegetables, salads, and sweets.  Thanks Nora for a job well done. We appreciate you.  I have some sad news to report.  Our Vice-President, Thomas Jarrell, resigned, due to health issues.  An election was held, and Lee young was voted in as our new Vice-President.  Congratulations to Lee.  We ask everyone to keep Thomas in your prayers.  He states he plans to stay a member, and will come to the meetings when he can.  Happy Valentine’s Day to all.



Committee’s Reporting

Summer Camp

By Beverly Kaskadden

The temperature has warmed up 20 degrees since yesterday, so there is a light at the end of the tunnel.  It will be time for Cobblestone soon.  The applications will be coming out by March 1st.  The dates for 2017 are June 4, July 30 and September 7.  The rates are the same as last year.  We had several new camp attendees last year, so I am hoping that will occur again.  I love talking about camp, so please do not hesitate to contact me for more information.  As an added note, Cobblestone will no longer be providing washcloths. I hope to see you there.

Adaptive Technology Grant Committee

By Darrel Vickers, Chairman

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.  Each year MCB sets aside moneys that blind persons of Missouri can apply for.  Our budget for the current fiscal year is $25,000.  As of January 31, 2017, we have approved 23 grants for a total of $18,900.00

Items purchased include eye Pal Solo, Braille Note taker, i-phones, computers, Victor Reader, magnifiers, CCTV, tablet, id Mate Quest.


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 website at: or by contacting the MCB office at (314) 832-7172. You can also contact me anytime.

How it Works:

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

The Committee:

The Adaptive Technology Committee is made up of three members:  Darrel Vickers, Ruthie Clark and Donna Giger. If you have any questions about the program please contact me: Email to or by phone at 636-667-3176.  Until next time, take Care.

Education & Advocacy Report

By Chip Hailey, MCB Education & Advocacy Chair

Since the 99th General Assembly officially just got underway on January 4th my Education & Advocacy report for this edition of the Chronicle will be brief.

On January 9, thousands of Missourians from across the state traveled to Jefferson City to join in the festivities and to welcome five new state-wide officials who were elected this past November.

Eric Greitens was sworn in as the 56th Governor of our state.  Joining him were our five new office holders: Lt. Governor Mike Parson, Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft, Attorney General Josh Hawley, and State Treasurer Eric Schmitt.  After his swearing in, Governor Eric Greitens delivered an address in which he talked about working together to move Missouri forward.

State of the State address:

On January 17th, anticipation was high to see Governor Greitens FY18 proposed state budget, but in his State of the State address he broke tradition by opting to give it the first week in February instead.

Before he can finalize his proposed budget for the next fiscal year, he needs to balance the one for the current fiscal year ending June 30th.  The state started the year with $200 million less than anticipated in the general fund, and earlier this year, Governor Nixon cut $150 million, and withheld an additional $59 million, after the legislature overrode his vetoes of several tax cuts in September.

To compound the shortfall problem, a tax cut passed 3-years ago is poised to start phasing in during the 2017 fiscal year.  When fully implemented the measure will cut state revenue by an additional $600 million (estimated) a year.

Governor Greitens then announced later that over $146 million will be restricted from the state’s FY17 budget due to revenue growing slower than expected. More than half of the restrictions were made to post-secondary education and K-12 transportation.

An itemized list of the budget restrictions is available at:

In his State of the State address, Greitens also focused on economic development and reiterated his priority to make Missouri the 28th right-to-work state.

Bills filed: The 99th General Assembly started off with over 450 House and 250 Senate bills filed.  During the second week of the new session, the Senate Committee on Seniors, Families, and Children heard testimony on a bill that would require the Department of Social Services to apply for a global waiver for Mo HealthNet (SB28 - Sater).

Before the 2017 legislative session had even begun, legislators had filed a bill intended to make Medicaid a “block grant” program in Missouri, if Congress changes the laws to allow it.  What does that mean? It means Missouri would see huge reductions in the Medicaid funding received from the Federal government. The state would inevitably run out of money, meaning the people who qualify for Medicaid – mostly children and people with disabilities - would be unable to get the health care they need.

Under this act, the Department of Social Services would be required to apply for a global waiver for the MO HealthNet program designed to give the state greater flexibility to implement a patient-centered, sustainable, and cost-effective market-based health care system that emphasizes competitive and value-based purchasing.

Such flexibility may include: (1) eligibility determinations that include work requirements for certain able-bodied adults; (2) initiatives to promote healthy outcomes personal responsibility, including co-payments, premiums, and health savings accounts; and (3) accountability and transparency measures.

Currently the federal government covers a percentage of states’ Medicaid costs. Under Medicaid block grants, the federal government would pay the state a specific lump sum (likely based on historical spending), rather than a percentage of the state’s costs.

Under per capita caps, the federal government would pay the state a fixed amount for each beneficiary instead. Both options drastically reduce federal funding for state Medicaid programs, with gaps increasing over time relative to current spending.

To counter the significant costs that are shifted to states, they are given ‘flexibility’ to make changes to their program.

Bottom line, a block grant would leave Missouri's federal funding cut by one-third, tie the hands of state officials in health emergencies, and ration health care to our neighbors who depend on Medicaid - primarily kids, pregnant women, people with disabilities, and older adults.

A number of organizations have testified on the bill, but the committee has not yet voted on the bill.

HB 684 - Neely:

Changes the laws regarding managed care under the MO HealthNet program

This act states the standards that must be met by contracts for prepaid capitated health services which are issued, renewed, or reauthorized after August 28, 2017.

Introduced and first read - 1/19/2017

HB 520 – Ellington, Issue 2 Requires election authorities to make available at least one electronic voting machine per polling location for blind or visually impaired voters at an election in order to comply with federal law.


1/10/17 Second Read (H)

1/9/17 Introduced and First Read (H)

SB 362 – Hummel requires a student to receive instruction in Braille reading and writing as part of his or her individualized education plan unless instruction in Braille is determined not appropriate for the child

This act requires that all students who are determined to need Braille reading and writing instruction based on an assessment deemed appropriate by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education receive the instruction as part of the individualized education plan.

1/25/17 Introduced and First Read (S)

House reduces number of committees:

House Speaker, Todd Richardson, reduced the number of committees from 42 to 32 by revamping the committee structure.  The committees will be divided into two groups with each group having its own rules committee that will act as a clearing house prior to bills moving to the House floor.

The newly retooled House Fiscal Review Committee will scrutinize fiscal notes on all bills to insure new legislation comports within budget projections.

Here is a link to the new House and Senate committees:

Increased security at the Capitol:

Starting January 10th, visitors, media and lobbyists entering the Capitol will be searched, required to walk through metal detectors and have personal belongings x-rayed.

Key cards will be issued to state employees and people with credentials who work at the Capitol on a regular basis.  Concealed carrying of weapons is not allowed in the Capitol and anyone with a firearm will be asked to return it to a secure location before entering the building, except for legislators.

Knives with a 4-inch blade or longer will not be permitted, nor will explosives, signs fixed on polls or standards, and balloons.

Sometimes it's not what you know, it's who you know.  Do you have a special relationship with the newly elected Missouri Administration, any members of the Missouri Legislature or any members of the US House or Senate?

History has shown that a special relationship can make a meaningful difference when seeking support or opposition from politicians on important issues.  For this reason, we would like to match leaders, legislators and congressional delegation with MCB members with whom they may have ties.

Please contact either myself or Chris Gray if you are one of those individuals who hold such a special relationship with your area legislator.

Our MCB Legislative Days was held March 14th - 15th but I will have more to say about it and our trip to Washington D.C. for the ACB Legislative Seminar in the next issue of the Chronicle.  If I can be of any service to you in any of these matters or other legislative priorities, please don't hesitate to contact me.  Have a wonderful Spring everyone.

Scholarships Available For Blind Students

Wanda Matlock, Scholarship Chair

The Missouri Council of the Blind is pleased to again offer scholarships to blind students who will be attending college during the school year of September 2017-2018.

They must be enrolling in a full course of study and pursuing a degree.

Guidelines and applications may be obtained by going to our web site at and going to the Forms and Applications link. On that link the Scholarship Guidelines and Application can be found. A person wishing to obtain an application may also send an email to

In the event a computer is not available those wishing to obtain an application may write the Missouri Council of the Blind office at 5453 Chippewa, St. Louis, MO 63109 and the Guidelines and Application will be mailed. One may also contact the MCB office by phoning either toll free (800)342-5632 or (314)832-7172. Office hours are 8am-4:30pm Monday through Friday.

In order for an applicant to be considered, the application must be fully completed, be accompanied by all required supporting documents and typewritten or computer generated. If the applicant fails to meet these requirements, the application will be denied.

The deadline for submitting an application is May 1, 2017. The Scholarship Committee will review and make decisions on the applications during the month of May. Those applicants approved for a scholarship will be sent a letter notifying them that they have been approved for a scholarship and the amount of the scholarship. Checks will be sent to those approved applicants in June 2017. We look forward to receiving many applications.

Youth Services

By Linda Gerken

The 2nd part of the school year has started and if you know a child that's needs something for school, please let us know.  It is also time to start thinking about which camp your child wants to go to this year.  Get your application in so we can get your child on their way to having fun this summer.  Let me know if you have any questions.  Call me at 660 826 1690.

Dual Vision and Hearing Loss

By Mary Hale, Chair

Honoring Our Members: Bessie

I am lucky enough to be involved with a very special and unique organization that is for those with both vision and hearing loss. It is called Sight And Sound Impaired of St Louis [SASISTL] which we call SASI [pronounced “sassy”] for short. I wish that this type of organization was available throughout the state of Missouri, but sadly not. This group meets monthly and offers opportunities for those with the dual loss to be with others who also understands some of their challenges. Throughout the year we have selected members interviewed and presented as the Member of the Month. This is extremely popular and offers great insights to our members as individuals. Many are also MCB members and I would like to share their stories with you from time to time. With special thanks to Torri Ryder, who does the interviews, writes the stories and then presents them during our meetings. I would first like to present to you an MCB member, Bessie Reece.

Dr. Bessie Lee Jackson Reece

Dr. Bessie Reece was born in Jackson, Mississippi Sept 30, 1938. She was an only child and had a lot of fun growing up. No one in the family could understand why she was blind because this was the first case on both sides of the family. They decided it was because her mama was disobedient to God by having a baby out of wedlock. It bothered them so much and they worried about the gossip that they decided little Bessie would be like all the other children. She stayed in the country in a big house with cousins, aunties and the whole family while mama lived in the city. At 5 she went to kindergarten in the public school. She amazed the teachers by raising her hand first and reading the entire page of her pre-grammar books: you know, “Sally sees, Jane sees, John walks”. The first week and a half she was the star. Finally another teacher noticed that she was not reading, but only memorizing the entire page.  Bessie could see shadows but she could not read. She had been following the other children until finally the teachers told her mother her baby couldn't go to school there because she may get hurt by other kids. It broke her mother’s heart. Well her auntie worked for an eye doctor and his wife and learned about a charity hospital for black people. They took Bessie to him and he operated on her eyes where she could see people but can't identify them without their voices.

She entered Tiny Wood School for the Blind which was a private boarding school mostly for sighted kids but there was a log cabin for the blind. Most kids would take a train from Jackson to Tiny Woods and was home on weekends but her family had no money. Her auntie and uncle moved to St. Louis for work and invited her to visit to go to school. Bessie didn't want to leave but her mama said she would come and visit her. When she was 10 or 11 she came home for Christmas vacation and told the family she wanted to stay in St. Louis. Well, mama got out the phone book and found the Missouri School for the Blind on 3815 Magnolia where she stayed until graduation.  On June 29th, 1957. Bessie married her 8th grade sweetheart from MSB. This June will be 60 years. Hubby, Thomas Lee Reece worked at Fox Photo from 7am – 3:30pm then Washington University and Barnes Hospital Radiology Department from 4-12 p.m. He had to earn enough to afford for the family for 37 years. Bessie made sure to have lunch or dinner ready for Thomas if he came home in between jobs.

They had three children. Their oldest daughter, Elizabeth Carolyn (who graduated Harris Stowe teachers college) comes to SASI with her. Marilyn is the middle child and only sighted one. Thomas Jr is the youngest and totally blind now. At 2 he fell down stairs, at 3 he had surgery to remove a blood clot leaving him with one eye that was extremely near sighted. At 11 year old while playing ball, a kid didn't want to give the bat up and hit him in the best eye. The kids are doing well and she thanks God for them.

Bessie stated, “I feel really blessed when I think of all the things we did, all [the kids] graduated, some [even went to] college. When you try you can really do something.”

Once all the kids were grown, Bessie wanted to go to school. She entered Bible Western Baptist Seminary and earned her associates degree. Her first job was in day care. She also worked for Lighthouse for the Blind, PJ Hollering Laundry on Clark and 21st, and Peoples Hospital on Locust where she sterilized instruments with autoclave machines that work so well, not like today’s plastic killing people now.

RSB trained her in the vending / stand program. She had vending machines for four years at the Mark Building keeping the machines clean, and the tables. Her stand started at the 7th floor at the Federal Courts building on 1114 Market but moved to first floor where she was in business for 22 years. She sold snacks, soda, and sandwiches her mama and church lady cooked for her. She set her prices to make money. Her daughter added costume jewelry to the stand and people would ask if they could see those earrings right there. She would think right where? She would reach and the customer would direct her to the pair they were interested in. Her daughter got the jewelry from a Chicago wholesalers and works in Barnes hospital currently. Bessie helps her with a monthly newspaper selling ads. She worked two years after her surgery helping her daughter to make calls, contacts, opened mail, scanner and computer to see what was sent. Bessie's back was operated on 5 years ago and she still is barely able to walk, using a wheelchair, bed or recliner.  Her favorite jobs were the vending and cafeteria and day care. Any time she was around people as she is a people person.  During her working life she earned another degree at LaLe College and Graduate School on Ashby. Finally in 2000 she earned her Doctor's degree in Divinity from LaLe.  Dr. Bessie started to lose her hearing 11 or 12 years ago and the most frustrating part is having to ask folks to repeat what they said, horrible. I know they are tired of me saying that and asking for them to speak louder, I have hearing loss. But you have to tell them, she says. The most frustrating part of her vision loss is you can't see addresses or nothing like that. Can't see distance or a person coming down the street.  Her most helpful tool/trick in dealing with your Deaf-Blindness?  Hearing aids and cane. Dr. Bessie enjoys being a mentor for people, sharing with them things that can help them. Also, calling people on the phone if they can't see well and tell them about the different programs available. And she loves to read the bible on her player with people.  When asked if you could be or do ANYTHING, what would it be? She stated, “Right now just let me walk. For real baby. Having to have someone wheel me to the bathroom or watch me use the walker to the bathroom or catch me if I fall is frustrating.”

  What's the oddest or most unique thing about herself - “I'm different in that I am able to see what I could have been like if I had not had the help from my family. They taught me to be respectful and to listen to people. That helped me the most. I have no problem with being with people. I like people. Folks can have all the cats, dogs, horses and cows they want. Just give me people.”

The craziest thing she has ever wanted to do was drive a car so she can go where and when she wants to go. “As it is”, she says, “you gotta wait for someone to take you where you're going or wait for call a ride which can be two days, but it's still blessed to have it. Grand Ave to Brentwood would be $20 but only $4 with them.”  What would you teach other Deaf Blind people about life? She said, “Don't be discouraged, you can do what you set your mind and hands to doing. It’s been proven to me. I never dreamed I would go to Bible College. Also, she would teach them how to care for their personal things, their affairs, make sure they keep clean, plain old good hygiene is important. If you smell, people don't want to sit next to you.

Manners are important. Know how to ask for your needs in a calm, nice voice.” What would you teach other sighted and hearing people about life?  It's really what you make out of it yourself. You can be cheerful or not. You really do that yourself. You have to learn how to first accept your limitations and what you can and can't do. After that is under control, you will be able to do a lot of things. Even people who have the same problem as you, see you functioning a certain way. Then they can try and practice it too. 

What words of wisdom do you want to give to the next generation?  You can do all things thru Christ who strengthens you. And He will strengthen you if you ask Him. He is faithful, baby.  What would you like others to know about you?  I just want everyone to know that I am a people person, I like talking with people, sharing whatever I have; physical or words of wisdom. Tell a child when he gets big enough to talk, teach them to say their prayers so it is instilled in them. 

Anything else you would like to share?

Coming to SASI has been great for me. To just see how God works with all of us and how He really takes the time to let you be yourself. Anyone with a hearing and vision loss? Come to SASI.



Vets News Line

By Darrel Vickers, USN AMM Third Class

I want to take a moment to talk about benefits for Veterans who have or are losing their site. If this is you or you know a veteran this information could help, please share it with them.

As some of you may know I am a Navy vet. I began losing my sight while I was in the service. Over a twenty year period I lost my sight except for a little light perception.

But my eye condition is not service connected so I thought I was unable to receive medical VA benefits.  Then a friend, Denny Huff put me in contact with another Vet like myself. After talking with him I realized the VA wanted to help me even though my condition was not service connected. At the time I really did not think the VA could do anything for me. But Morris encouraged me to just contact the VA anyway.  So I got the name of what the VA calls a vision coordinator and got the process started.  After I had a full physical, eye examination and a chest X-ray I was placed on the schedule to go to the Heine's Blind Rehabilitation center in Chicago.  This was one of the best decisions I have made.

Heine's is a first rate facility and every member of the staff is great.  Each program is customized to the Vet's needs and desires. In my case the number one thing I wanted was orientation and mobility training.

I had a cane but never had any formal training.  I was there for six weeks. I always thought I could get around pretty well. I soon realized after a short time I was wrong. I met a couple of guys who had recently lost all of their sight. Although I had been using a cane for at least fifteen years, they were helping me get around and they had only been using a cane for a few weeks.  By the time I left I was helping other people. 

They will purchase equipment such as a computer and other adaptive devices.  Another thing, your healthcare cost is paid with no co-payments.  Please do not let fear prevent you from taking advantage of this wonderful facility. 

They have a very comprehensive rehabilitation program including O and M, computers, living skills and so on. They have a full woodworking shop, machine shop, music classes, etc.  It is not just all work and no play. I attended a Cubs game, went sailing, played golf and many other things.

I also made some new friends and even after five years, a couple of guys and I are still very close.  I could go on and on but I need to keep this article short.

Following is a list of VA facilities with a Vision Coordinator in Missouri:

  • Kansas City VA Medical Center, 816-861-4700
  • St. Louis John Cochran Division, 314-652-4100 or 800-228-5459, Extension 54121.
  • Harry S. Truman Memorial Veterans' Hospital, Columbia, 573-814-6000.
  • John J. Pershing, VA Medical Center, Poplar Bluff, 573-686-4151 or 888-557-8262.


Remember your loss of sight does not have to be service connected. You served your country.  Another organization you may want to consider joining is the Blinded Veterans Association.  Please call me at 636-667-3176 if I can answer any questions.



Board Meeting Minutes

November 22, 2016

President Huff called the meeting to order at 7:05 P.M.

Joe Morgan led the prayer.

Secretary DeAnna Quietwater Noriega called the roll. 23 members of the Board were present with no guests.

The Agenda was approved as amended.

Minutes of the last meeting were approved as submitted.

Director Darrel Vickers presented the budget report in the absence of the Treasurer Robert Vaughn. The Missouri Council of the Blind overspent the incoming revenue by $102,000 last fiscal year. The Board had no questions.

Shirley Brokaw, Chair of the Personnel Committee presented the recommendations of our legal adviser regarding necessary changes to our employee handbook. President Huff proposed we follow the recommendations of our legal advisor and make the necessary changes to come in to compliance with changes in the law that will be taking place in January. The Board approved making the changes.

Vice-President Keller outlined a modification to the Accounting and Finance Guidelines which would whenever possible purchase goods and services provided by blind persons. The modification was approved by the Board.

President Huff requested that each Affiliate Representative ask their affiliate to appoint a member to the Strategic Planning Committee.

Chip Hailey moved that the Missouri Council of the Blind sign on to a Disability Rights Proclamation that had been worked on by a Cross Disability Committee that had been sent to the Board for consideration. The Board voted to sign the proclamation. (See attached.)

The Board went in to closed session.

The Board approved Christmas bonuses for the office staff.

The Board voted to look at the question of Cost of Living increases in April.

The meeting adjourned at 8:23 P.M.

Respectfully Submitted by Secretary DeAnna Noriega




Lower Left-Hand Drawer

By John Weidlich

First, I apologize for failing to have a column for you last time. I could give you an elaborate excuse about all of the things I had to do etc. but the plain truth is, well, I forgot until about two days after the deadline. Blame it on my age? So, here goes for this time.

Have you taken a ride on the Bard Express yet? No, it's not a railroad; it's a new software program developed by the National Library Service that is intended to make it easier to find recorded books and magazines on Bard and download them to your device of choice. No more searching for a book on the Bard Site, downloading it and then having to go to another file on your computer to put it on your Cartridge or SD card. I'll try to explain briefly how it works for those who haven't tried it. You install the software from the Bard Site to your desktop. When you open Bard Express, you are automatically logged in with no need to type in an email address or password. The books are arranged like they are on the Bard site, with recently added books, most popular books, search by subject, search by series and search the collection. There are keystrokes to get to each of these menus. When you find a book you want, use the tab key to download it or add it to your wish list for later downloading. the book or magazine is downloaded to a book shelf on Bard Express. Go to your bookshelf with a keystroke, select your book and tab over to download it to your cartridge or sd card or whatever you use. You can check as many books as you want to download to the bookshelf all at once and they will stay there until you are ready to download them to your reading device. You can also select the types of books you want to see listed by unchecking subjects in which you are not interested, like foreign language books or children’s books, although I haven't quite gotten that to work properly. It takes a little orientation but once you figure it out, it works quickly and easily. Braille books are not included on Bard Express but I hope that might change at some point. The Bard Express software is on the original Bard site, in, I think, under additional links.

Here is a product that is not intended specifically for blind users but it sounds handy so I include it if you want to check it out. It is a Blind-Friendly Multi-Use Can Opener. But not just a can opener. It is the Good Cook Four-in-One can opener. It opens cans and bottles; it has a cap wrench and can be used to lift can tabs. And it is designed so when a can is opened the lid doesn't fall into the can and it leaves no sharp edges. I don't have a price but the person who posted this said it is more expensive than a conventional can opener. Available from Isn't everything?

This next item is from the Week Magazine and it deals with the subject of those quiet hybrid cars and the dangers that their silence poses to pedestrians. the National Highway and Traffic Administration has finalized a new rule requiring  hybrid cars, trucks, SUV's and busses to make an audible noise to alert pedestrians of their presence when traveling at speeds less than 19 miles per hour. It was felt that tire and wind noise at speeds higher than that would give enough warning that a vehicle is passing. it is estimated that this will cost car makers about $39 million a year, mostly to install external waterproof speakers on the vehicles but that it will also lead to fewer pedestrian injuries.

Are you a writer? Do you enjoy writing poetry or short stories? Would you like to get to know and learn from other writers? Or do you just enjoy good writing? If any of these questions apply to you, you may want to become more familiar with an organization called Behind Our Eyes, which is celebrating its tenth anniversary.  behind Our Eyes is an organization of writers with disabilities. they have conference calls on which they read and discuss their work and they publish an online magazine twice a year called Magnets and Ladders featuring poetry, fiction, and nonfiction pieces submitted by writers with disabilities, many of them blind or visually impaired.  They have also published a couple of anthologies which are available on Bard. To celebrate the anniversary, they have put together a Tenth Anniversary Audio Celebration, a CD of members reading some of their works. For more information visit or call 773 572-7744. New members are welcome.

The Selective Doctor, a company that has repaired Perkins Braillers for many years, has closed. The company thanks all of its customers for their business.

Medtronic PLC is about to market the world's first artificial pancreas for people with Type I diabetes. It will allow patients to automatically monitor blood sugar and supply insulin as needed. The product, called the MiniMed670G has been approved by the

FDA for people with Type I diabetes that are at least 14 years old. The device will be on the market this spring. For more information, contact Medtronic at (800) 646-4633.

Here is something that has been around more than fifty years but I am including it in case you are not aware of it or may have forgotten about it. Choice Magazine Listening is an audio magazine published four times a year which contains articles, interviews, fiction and poetry from such publications as National Geographic, Smithsonian, Sports Illustrated, the New Yorker, Scientific American, Harper's, Time, and many others. subjects include nature, sports, humor, current events, travel, fiction, history and the arts. Each issue contains approximately twelve hours of reading and is read by professional talking book narrators. I used to read this magazine many years ago and have recently rediscovered it and find it quite enjoyable and informative. The magazine is free. You can subscribe to it on NLS cartridges but the easiest way to get it is probably to download it from Bard. If you want to know more about CML, you can call (888) 724-6423.

Ok, how about some exercise. Blind Alive offers descriptive exercise routines especially designed for the blind. Current offerings include cardio, weights, Boot Camp, yoga, Pilates and gentle workouts for beginners. Descriptions are provided with the exercises and additional audio or text descriptions are available. Workouts can be downloaded to your computer or purchased on CD, thumb drives, or SD cards. For more information, visit or call (570) 212-9979.

For several years, attorney Lainey Feingold has worked with ACB to encourage companies to adopt accessibility standards by using structured negotiation rather than going to court. She has worked with companies to make their web sites accessible to blind users and now is working with mail-order pharmacies to adopt audio prescription labels. She has just published a book calls "Structured Negotiation: a Winning Alternative to Lawsuits, “which describes how she resolves claims without lawsuits to bring about changes in accessibility. the book is available for purchase from the American Bar Association in print and digital format. It is also available on BookShare but is not yet on Bard.

Many people who have lost vision would still like to play cards with their friends but find it difficult because they can no longer read the cards and have not learned Braille well enough to use Braille playing cards. Well, now there is something new: Cards That Talk. It is a standard deck of cards but each card talks, saying its value. each card has a special code printed on the back that can be read by the Cards That Talk app, available free from the Apple app store.  When a card is scanned by an Apple device running the Cards That Talk app, the device will announce the value of the card. Of course you would need earbuds or headphones if you are playing with others so they won't know the cards in your poker hand. the cards are Available from the Blind Mice Mega Mall, where you can hear a demonstration of how they work. the app that reads the cards is free but you must purchase the cards. Four decks of standard playing cards cost $67.80. No price was given for a single deck. If you were at the MCB Convention banquet in October you heard a brief speech   from Missouri Supreme Court Justice Richard Teitelman. As you probably know, Judge Teitelman was legally blind. Judge Teitelman died in late November after being in poor health for quite some time but continuing to serve on the Court. According to the obituary in the St Louis Post-Dispatch, He began his service on the State Supreme Court in March, 2002 and was the Court's Chief Justice from July, 2011 through June, 2013. He was 69 years old. He was born in Philadelphia. He was declared legally blind at age 13, which changed his mother’s plans that he would become a doctor. He moved to Missouri in 1969 and attended Law School at Washington University. He worked at Legal Services of Eastern Missouri for nearly a quarter century before being appointed to the Missouri Court of Appeals in 1998. He was appointed to the State Supreme Court in 2002 by Then Governor Bob Holden, becoming the first legally blind and Jewish judge to serve on that Court.

Teitelman's vision problem was caused by a congenital anomaly of the optic nerve. He could read large type, but he did not drive. He also used a magnifier and law clerks for his reading. He never described himself as Handicapped or disabled. In 2007, he said "it's a challenge. These challenges are things that are character building."

AppleVis is a website containing a wealth of information about accessible apps for Apple products. the site has reviews, forums, blogs, podcasts, and apps specifically designed for blind and visually impaired people. For more information, visit

A new edition of Making Life More Livable: simple Adaptations, for Living At Home After Vision Loss is now available from AFB Press. It covers general guidelines for home safety, home adaptation, and room by room suggestions. There is also information about new independent living products and ways to prevent falls. It is available in print or online from the American Foundation for the Blind. Visit or call AFB Press at (800) 232-3044.

National Braille Press, known primarily for its Braille publications, is offering a tactile caliper. Not being very mechanically inclined, I am not real sure what a caliper does but I do know that it is a high precision tactile measuring device. I know that because the news release from NBP said so. the caliper has full-inch marks embossed in Braille across the top of the ruler, with fractions displayed in braille on a sliding jaw. the Braille shows measurements to one sixteenth of an inch.  The tactile caliper sells for $18. Order online from or call (800) 548-7323. is a company that specializes in products for cooks with little or no sight, such as kitchen utensils, guides, guards and protective tools. You can contact the company at (630) 553-6921 or visit the website for product details and prices. That's all for this time. See you in June.