September 2016 Chronicle

September 2016 Chronicle


By Denny Huff

Greetings to All!

       I hope everyone survived the summer and you are looking forward to some cooler weather coming our way. There was a lot of activity this past summer and even more to come with convention right around the corner.

       Recently I was privileged to share a testimony at an audio description hosted by Mind’s Eye Radio and presented by ACB’s Dr. Joel Schneider. There were about 25 people from various venues from around St. Louis in attendance and all were there to learn how to describe movies, theater performances and other visual presentations in St. Louis. I was able to share how I used audio description and how much I appreciated Mind’s Eye Radio for undertaking this project. Many thanks to those who were in attendance to learn how to properly verbally describe to the visually impaired what they are seeing. Mind’s Eye will have more about this great project later in the Chronicle. I hope that all of you in the St. Louis area will take advantage of this once it has been fully implemented.

       There are several officers being voted on this year at our convention. The office of the president, first vice, second vice and secretary are all up for election.

       As you probably already know, MCB is celebrating their sixtieth anniversary this year. In conjunction with our anniversary we are planning on some special activities during our convention.

       This year we are asking for sponsorships for the convention and the response has been really good. Among other organizations, businesses and individuals that have agreed to be a sponsor, we have also had several affiliates join in. If you want more information about how to be a sponsor and what you receive in return, give Chris Gray at the office a call.

       An additional activity this year at the convention will be a memorial breakfast on Friday morning. During that time, we will recognize our past presidents, executive directors and those that have been members for more than 50 years. We’ll also have time for attendees to give a brief testimony about someone who was a member of MCB that has touched their lives.

       We will still have an auction this year, but it is going to be a silent auction that will run from around noon on Saturday and will end sometime during the banquet on Saturday night. You will have a chance to view the items beforehand and someone will be there to assist you in writing down your bid, should you need the help. There have been a lot of items donated so far but there is always room for more.

       Our hospitality dinner will be on Friday night as usual, but in place of the auction we are going to have a jam session. We have several accomplished musicians and good singers in MCB and hopefully we can showcase several of them that night. If you are interested in participating, please contact Steve Schnelle. He can be reached at 314-440-0902.

       At our banquet this year we are honored to have Charlie Brennan, morning talk show host on KMOX radio as our guest emcee. Among many other accomplishments, Charlie recently published a book called, Amazing St. Louis which is available from the Wolfner Wolfpack library. In 2012, Charlie helped lead the fight for restoring medical benefits to blind pension recipients in Missouri, which resulted in him being presented with the MCB Media Award.

Our guest speaker for the banquet this year will be the Honorable Richard B. Teitelman, Supreme Court justice in Missouri. Judge Teitelman is one of only two blind Supreme Court justices in the nation. Born in Philadelphia, Judge Teitelman moved to Missouri in 1969 to attend Washington University law school. He served as the executive director of the legal services of eastern Missouri for eighteen years, and served four years on the Missouri court of appeals before being appointed as a supreme justice by then Governor Bob Holden in 2002.

I hope that you make plans to attend our banquet this year and enjoy all of the festivities for our sixtieth anniversary. We will have a special gift for those attending the banquet this year.

       We are pleased to announce that we will be utilizing the LowViz Guide at our convention this year. The LowViz Guide is used for indoor navigation for the visually impaired. Indoor navigation enables users to find their way around large meeting spaces and to always take shortest routes. Using an iPhone or iPad with voice activation, LowViz Guide facilitates orientation and safety, eliminating frustration with unfamiliar venues.

Visit the Macular Degeneration Support website for more information: Our thanks to Dan Roberts for providing this service.

       That’s going to do it for this edition of the Chronicle. I hope to see you at the convention. God Bless each one of you.


Introducing Escrip:  a Great Opportunity for MCB

By Christopher Gray

I want to share with you a unique program in which MCB participates.  It's called Escrip.

The Escrip program provides a fundraising opportunity in which anybody can participate.  Best of all, it costs you absolutely nothing, but brings money to MCB.  By participating, you can create contributions by Escrip to MCB just by doing what you already do each and every day: shop.

Here are three ways in which you can participate.

  1. Shop at Schnucks.  If you have a Schnucks grocery store nearby, let MCB help you sign up for a free card.  Present that card when checking out and a small percentage of your purchase price is donated to MCB.  Remembering to show your card is the hardest part of this program.  While Schnucks is not statewide, there are over 90 Schnuck supermarkets in St. Louis and the Midwestern United States.  Besides all regions of St. Louis, you can find Schnuck supermarkets in St. Charles, Cape Girardeau, Columbia, Washington, Jefferson City, and Farmington.
  2. Eat at participating restaurants.  There are a very large number of restaurants who participate in the Escrip Dining Program. The way this program works is that you join it and register your credit cards in the secure dining system.  Then, when you use your registered credit card to pay for a meal in a participating restaurant, a small donation goes from that meal to MCB.  I love this program because it is completely automatic.  Several times now, I have eaten in a restaurant not even knowing it was a participant.  A few days later, much to my amazement, I receive an email telling me how much was donated to MCB of the meal price.  If you will take the time to write an online review of your experience, the donation is doubled.  As with the Schnucks program, we are happy to help you register in the program and get a list of participating restaurants in your area.
  3. Shop at the Escrip Mall.  By shopping at the large number of stores in the Escrip online mall, you can generate donations to MCB.  The donations are different for each store but can be as large as 15% of the sales price you pay. As a mall participant, you will also receive special offers and sales prices not necessarily available anywhere else.  As an example, Neiman Marcus provides free shipping and free returns on all orders as well as a 4.8% earn rate on what you purchase.  Amazon offers a 1.2% return to MCB.  Others include:

Best Buy:  1.2%

Shari's Berries:  7.2% and as we go to press, "Save 40% on half dozen gourmet dipped fancy strawberries".

To get started using these and other services, go to and create your personal sign on.  Again, we can assist you with this in the MCB office if you need it.  Escrip also provides a handy toolbar item that will show you deals of the day and other promotional offers of participating stores. 

With this as an overview, I really want to encourage you to consider participating in the Escrip program.  IF MCB can have 500 people signed up into the Escrip programs, the organization could realize significant financial benefits.  Marvelena and I participate in all three programs, and we really like it.  Once you get in the habit of using them, it's really so easy.

Escrip is a great program for schools and nonprofits like MCB.  Just do what you already do, show the Schnucks card or use your registered credit cards and that provides a donation for MCB.  Please consider joining us in this endeavor today.



Northern Lights Council

By President Steve Schnelle

By the time you’re reading this, some lucky raffle winners will be happily munching on hot dogs and other snacks, 8 rows behind home plate, while they watch the Cards beat the Cubs at Busch Stadium. We want to thank all of you who have participated in our Northern Lights raffle for these awesome tickets that were donated to us by one of our members, Mr. Carl Chappell. Because of his donation, and all of you who have helped we will now be able to pursue a 501(c)3 status and become a happy little non-profit. I’m hoping to work out transportation for our members to attend the convention this year as we don’t have the money to supplement hotel rooms yet. We have lost some members and gained new ones but it looks like we’re going to make it. Until we see each other at convention, stay happy and well.


Southeast Missouri United Blind Club

By Mary Hock

Hi to everyone! We are happy to report we have recently had three new members join our affiliate. They are: Dollie Eaton, Bonnie Eaton, and Darla Grimaldo. Please join us in welcoming them to our affiliate.

Our club hosted a White Cane Walk last October with Lee Young, who worked hard to make it a successful event. Well, Lee is planning this year’s White Cane Walk and he expects it to be an even bigger success.

Our club picnic will be held on Saturday August 13, at 12:00 PM. We are certainly looking forward to lots of good food and great fellowship. 

Hope to see all at this convention in October.


The Queen City Council

By Marilyn Tuso, Secretary

HOT! HOT! HOT!  It's all we've been hearing lately but, finally a little cool down from the rain!

Well, greetings from the Queen City Council, hope everyone is doing well! The dog days of summer are definitely upon us with temperatures in the high 90's, and high heat index. So please try and stay cool.

I wanted to report a couple of things that happened in June. David Carey had two different tandem bike rides that went for several miles and Host Lion's Club provided us with lunch at the June meeting.

In the beginning of July, we had a spokeswoman come out from the Springfield fire department and talk with us about fire safety. (Make sure those smoke detectors are working, everyone, and remember batteries should be changed when the time changes in the Spring and in the Fall.)

As for the summer camp this year, at Camp Cobblestone up around Cuba, Missouri we have 4 members planning on going and then we have 5 members that are planning on going to the MCB convention in October, which is being held in Saint Louis.

I hope everyone is enjoying their summer. Before long, fall will be here with the cooler weather!!! 


Joplin Service Club Of The Blind

By Mary Coe

We at the Joplin Service Club of the Blind are sorry to announce the passing in May of two of our long time members, Linda Russell and Howard King. Linda was so involved, always wanting to help others, not only with the local club but also with MCB. She loved every minute of it.

Howard was the “trinket guy” who loved handing out watches, key chains, and lapel pins, some of which were patriotic. He was a very patriotic individual and loved his Country. They both are missed, and will be in our hearts forever!

On June 17th the “United Way” held their annual “Day of Action” of which the Association and the Service Club participated. Due to the extreme temperatures, we held a Beeper ball game and picnic indoors. Volunteers from area businesses came and played the game and helped with the picnic.

On Thursday, July 28th, the Service had their monthly dinner, hosted by the First Presbyterian Church group, with great food and entertainment provided by musicians Max Brown and Bob Toft.

Until next time remember, “Summer always ends with Good memories”


Delta Area

Hello to everyone from Delta Area. It has been a busy summer for our members. On May 3rd, a group of 12 of us met at the Pizza Hut restaurant in Malden, MO. for a great buffet meal. This event was in conjunction with the ACB/MCB fundraiser. We hope it was very successful and that we can make it bigger and better next year. On June 25th we were invited to join the River City Workers for their annual picnic at the Cape Girardeau South Park. The park is very nice, and of course we had great food and some great entertainment provided by some of the River City Workers members. We would like to thank Sabrina Fowler and all their affiliate members for their hospitality.

On July 11th, United Way invited us for a lunch at Buffalo Wild Wings in Sikeston, MO. United Way has been a great supporter of Delta Area Blind for many years. As much as we like to eat, we also like to have fun. As I am writing this report, several of our members are getting packed up to go to Camp Cobblestone for the week. My Granddaughter is very excited! We are sad to report that we lost 4 of our hard working members. When I say this, I mean that they moved out of the Delta Area. This just means that this is great news for other affiliates that they will possibly join. We have also been working on ads to put into some of our local newspapers to try to get new members. We also have been discussing some fundraising ideas for the White Cane Walk in October and thinking about an item to donate for the MCB silent auction at Convention. Several of us are looking forward to attending this convention.  We at Delta Area Blind hope everyone enjoys the rest of the summer!


Blind Of Central Missouri

By Joe Morgan, President

Hello from Sedalia!  I hope everyone is having a good summer so far, and everyone is well. Here is what's been going on. We had our pizza party on March 10th and our annual picnic at Centennial Park on June 26th. Fortunately for us, we had a shelter house and the grills were inside, because we had a downpour outside. But it didn't spoil all of our fun. Everyone enjoyed the food.  Thanks to all our cooks for a job well done. The swimming party had to be canceled so we will reschedule it at an inside pool when it's too cold outside. Now some sad news. Bill Lehman passed away on April 11th and Emma Lou Swopes passed away on June 23rd. We will certainly miss both of them. We will be planning another annual Christmas party. I will have more details in my next report. Until next time, keep smiling!


St. Charles County Council

By Beverly Kaskadden

Greetings from St. Charles.  We have not had a business meeting since May, but we still have been active. The Installation dinner that the Duchesne High School Key Club hosts took place at the end of May. As always, the Key club members prepared a lovely dinner for the setting of installing our new officers. The officers are, Denny Huff, President; Steve Baker, First Vice President; Victor Rodriguez, Second Vice President; Brianne Disney, Secretary; and Beverly Kaskadden, Treasurer.

In July, we were very concerned about our barbeque since it was extremely hot to be outside, but thank heavens my home had enough room for everyone to eat in comfort. Our members just love getting together, and the scrumptious food is just a plus.

Our monthly meetings will resume in August. It is time to settle down and make preparations for convention and increasing our membership. Besides a business meeting at the September meeting, we hold another pot luck. This might be the method of impressing new members!

The next affiliate report will report on the membership drive. I hope we will be able to report that we have at least one new member. How about a new member each month?

I look forward to seeing many of you at Cobblestone and then again at the State convention.

Take care.


ATI News

By Darrel Vickers, President

Hello Everyone.  I want to take this opportunity to let everyone know what we are doing.

Financial Information: (Note: all figures are as of close of business on June 30, 2016.)  Our checking balance was $1,019.17. The account is reconciled every month. Our tax information was filed on time and is up to date. In April we received our special affiliate grant for $250.00 In July we filed our state registration and paid the annual fee. So far this year we have collected $180 in member dues.

Membership:  We currently have 26 total members and we have added 5 new members this year.

The Board of Directors are President Darrel Vickers, Vice President Kimberly Hallows, Treasurer Christy Schulte, and Secretary Laura Devries.  The contact information for each Board member is on the home page of our web site.

Donations: In July, the Board of Directors voted unanimously to donate $500 to Missouri Council of the Blind to support the Adaptive Technology grant fund. We did this by becoming a sponsor for the 2016 MCB convention. We hope other affiliates will follow our lead and support MCB. We would like to do this every year so we will need to raise money. I have a couple of things in mind.

We will be selling 50 /50 raffle tickets. I will need help with this and hope each member will buy some as well as help sell them.

We will donate two $10 door prizes to MCB and we have a $20 door prize at our meeting for one lucky member.

I hope to have two school clocks as well. One will be donated to the MCB silent auction and the other one will be for sale in the craft room.

Planning for the convention:  I hope everyone knows that ATI hosts the vendor room.  Please take the time and go by the vendors and thank them for their participation.

We have not finalized our agenda as of this writing but we have a couple of things we must do.

1. Elections:  We will need to elect two officers; President and Secretary.

2. I would like to hear some ideas of what other information about Adaptive Technology you would like to discuss. Last year we discussed the iPhone and it seemed to go over well.

One last thing, regarding member dues. Please try to pay your dues before the convention. It takes time at the meeting and last year there was a lot of confusion with who paid and who did not. So please, if you insist on paying at the meeting please bring a check and not cash.


Committees Reporting


Summer Camp

By Beverly Kaskadden

As I along with 75 other individuals are preparing to leave for Cobblestone, I want to write a quick note to talk about attending the MCB Summer Camp Program. I have been focused on the word “appreciation” lately. Missouri Council does so very much to encourage and enrich the lives of our members and the visually impaired of Missouri. The Summer Camp Program is one of the avenues that MCB provides to achieve this goal. As the Chair for this program, I have seen how this mission is accomplished. I have had the opportunity to get to know others that I probably would not have the chance unless I was involved with Summer Camp.

The June week was warmer than usual for the early part of June, but it did not stop us from participating in the activities.

I am so glad the extreme heat has broken from last week. We expect it to be hot, but it is nice if it is not unbearable. My granddaughter told me that she learned in kindergarten “you get what you get, and don’t throw a fit”! What a great life lesson!

Believe it or not, I am starting on the September applicants for our extended weekend at Cobblestone. Time does fly!

Now back to the word “appreciation”. Does MCB ever get a letter of appreciation after attending camp? In fact, I also want to acknowledge the generosity of the nice grant we receive from the St. Louis Lighthouse of the Blind earmarked for camp. Then there are the Leyton’s at Cobblestone. They knock themselves out to accommodate our concerns. We are truly blessed.

One more thing, if you have any questions, please call me or e-mail me instead of calling the office. They are busy enough.  Thank you to everyone for making this program such a success.


MCB Scholarship Grant Report

By Wanda Matlock

The MCB Scholarship Committee met via conference call on May 26, 2016 at 7:00. The purpose of the conference call was to discuss the 2016/2017 MCB Scholarship Grant applications. The deadline to apply for this grant was May 1, 2016. We received a total of five applications this year. We are happy to report that four of the applicants met all guidelines set forth by MCB and were all MCB members. The four recipients received their full Scholarship grant in June, 2016.

We encourage anyone wishing to continue their education to please apply for the MCB Scholarship Grant next year.

MCB Scholarship Committee members are Wanda Matlock, Brittany Stovall and Patti Schonlau.


Member of the Month

By Yvonne Schnitzler

Congratulations to the MCB Members of the Month and thanks to those who nominated them.

Ron and Phyllis Zirkle are the May Members of the Month. Phyllis is President of Pony Express Association, the Library Users of Missouri, and President of the Administrative Board for a Community Center. She has chaired committees, held all PEA offices, and represented PEA for Legislative Days. She has served on the Wolfner Library Advisory Board.

Ron provides transportation for his affiliate to conventions, camp, and other events. Both served as chairs of Special Services for MCB and in the PTA and other activities. They participate in local Blindness Awareness events in the community.

Lee Young is the Member of the Month for June, nominated by his affiliate SEMO. Lee works to recruit new members and to bring awareness to the blind club. He has great organizational skills and involves community leaders in affiliate projects.

Michael Hale is Member of the Month for July, nominated by Brian Hallows. Michael is involved with Sassi and spends countless hours to support the organization. He is an active worker for the UWB serving as treasurer for several years and chairing other committees. Michael was instrumental in obtaining listening devices for the UWB meetings.

       Thanks to these members for the hours spent helping their affiliates and MCB. To all MCB members, please consider honoring someone for this award.


Building Committee

By Charles Johnson, Chair

The Building Committee is pleased to announce that the maintenance has been low cost this year. There have been meetings, seminars, dinners and pizza parties at the building. The committee consists of Angelo Trapasso, Jack Lenk, and Robert Vaughn. Feel free to plan your next event at your building.


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. This year we had a budget of $25,000 for the grant program.

In June, we spent the remaining amount of our funds. So we were not able to fill any more grant requests.

As of this writing, the MCB budget has $25,000 for the 2016-2017 fiscal year. This goes before the MCB Board in August. I do not anticipate any problems with it being passed. So we will be able to accept applications starting in September.

Purpose: 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.

Coverage: 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: 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 $3,000 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 $3,000 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.  Until next time, take Care.


Convention 2016 – Schedule of Events

By Jesuita Tabor, Convention Coordinator

Following is the schedule of events for our upcoming convention in St. Louis including the assigned meeting room.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

1:00 pm to 7:00 pm Registration - Lobby Elevator Foyer

1:00 pm to 8:00 pm Exhibit Hall for Vendors - Bern

1:00 pm to 8:00 pm Craft Room - Zermatt

2:00 pm Board Meeting - Matterhorn

5:00 pm to 6:30 pm City Tour

Friday, October 7, 2016

7:30 am Memorial Breakfast - Alpine II

8:00 am to 12:00 pm Craft Room – Zermatt

8:00 am to 12:00 pm Exhibit Hall for Vendors - Bern

9:00 am to 12:00 pm Registration - Lobby Elevator Foyer

9:00 am Education/Advocacy Meeting - Davos

10:00 am Bylaws - Alpine I

11:30 am President’s Luncheon - Alpine II

1:00 pm General Session - Matterhorn

2:00 pm to 6:00 pm Registration - Lobby Elevator Foyer

4:00 pm to 8:00 pm Exhibit Hall for Vendors - Bern

5:00 pm to 8:00 pm Craft Room - Zermatt

5:15 pm ATI Meeting - Alpine II

7:00 pm Hospitality Dinner and Jam Session - Matterhorn

Saturday October 8, 2016

7:00 am Library Users Breakfast Alpine II

9:00 am to11:00 am Registration - Lobby Elevator Foyer

9:00 am to 12:00 pm General Session - Matterhorn

12:00 pm BRL Luncheon - Bern

12:00 pm to 7:00 pm View Auction Items

1:30 pm General Session - Matterhorn

5:15 pm Catholic Service - Alpine 1

6:00 pm Banquet - Zurrich

Sunday, October 9, 2016

7:00 am Protestant Services - Alpine I

9:00 am General Session - Matterhorn

For more information please contact Jesuita Tabor, Convention Chair at 314-383-2045.

Craft Room

By Loretta Welch

We will once again have a Craft Room this year at the MCB Convention. We want to have a very good Craft Room, so please get in touch with me if you need a table. Homemade crafts are the only products to be sold in the Craft Room.

The Craft Room will be open on Thursday from 1:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. and again on Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon and again from 4:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. If you are interested in having your own table, please call me at 660-679-5429 or you can write me at Loretta Welch, 7251 N.W. County Rd. 3001, Butler, MO 64730. Thanks to everyone for your cooperation. We look forward to seeing you in October!


Dual Vision and Hearing Loss

By Mary Hale, Chair

What an Exciting Year!  I am so grateful to so many people all across the state of Missouri. So many actually came out and made a difference! The blind community, the deaf community, the low vision community, the hard of hearing community, the deaf-blind community, the sighted and hearing community, all came together to support the SSP Bill in Missouri's Legislature in both the House of Representatives and Senate. With so many writing, emailing, calling and testifying! Thank you. Because of your support, HB 1696 [SSP Bill] was passed and signed into law by the Governor.

For those who may still be unclear as to what and who an SSP is, read on. SSP stands for Support Service Provider and this is a national term used for those who assist Deaf-Blind individuals. Blindness is difficult enough, but if you cannot hear what is going on around you also, it has a huge impact. Many do not feel safe or confident enough to be able to go out in the community to do simple every day errands alone. If you cannot see or hear that a paratransit bus like Call-A-Ride is coming for you, what do you do? If you cannot see or hear where the checkout and cashier is and to find out your total or to hear what is being said to you, what do you do? It is not just a matter of getting to somewhere and getting the guidance to get around, but to integrate with the community with communication as well.

Back in the 60’s there was a movement to help establish certified training and get interpreters for the deaf made available as a paid profession. Then the deaf individuals would not be solely dependent on their family and friends. Now, 50 years later, the same is happening to help make Deaf-Blind individuals a part of the community and not be solely depended on their family and friends. This is why the SSP Bill was established all across the nation and now here in Missouri.  Thank you.

Understanding Not Just Hearing

If you are planning to attend the MCB Convention in October, please read on. Many people have a difficult time understanding what is being said. Many can hear much of the noises going on which can be overwhelming at times. But to understand the spoken words is most important. Many people are in denial that they have a hearing loss. There is nothing wrong with admitting you cannot hear well any more. For someone with blindness, being able to hear can be crucial for your safety and sanity. Isolation and depression affects many with both blindness and deafness.

 Please remember to ask for an Assistive Listening Device [ALD] before the convention when you send in your registration or by calling the MCB office. ALD’s make a huge difference in knowing what the speakers are saying and understanding what is going on around you. There are a limited number of ALD’s available, so it’ll be on a first request, first received basis. Headphones are available, but feel free to bring your own or your "ComPilots" to use with the receivers.

I look forward to seeing and hearing you at the convention!


The Alliance for Braille Literacy

The Alliance for Braille Literacy (ABL) is pleased to announce that it will hold its Fourth Annual Meeting on Saturday, October 29 through Sunday, October 30, 2016, in St. Louis, Missouri.  The Saturday portion of the meeting will be held at the St. Louis Union Station Hotel, 1820 Market St., St. Louis, MO 63103. The meeting will begin at 2 pm and be followed in the evening by a wine and cheese social or buffet-style dinner.

Sunday sessions will take place between 10 am and 5 pm at the Missouri Council of the Blind building, 5453 Chippewa St., St. Louis, MO 63109. The meeting is open to all members of ABL and those who support braille literacy in the STEM fields. The ABL Steering Committee extends a special invitation to attendees of the National Braille Association's Fall Conference, which is taking place at the same hotel, Union Station Hotel, in St. Louis, on October 26 - 29.

Additional conference and registration details will become available in the near future.  We recommend watching the ABL listserv and ABL’s website at for updates and future announcements. Questions can be directed to Imke Durre at




MindsEye Brings Performances Alive

By Amelia Christ

For over 40 years, MindsEye Radio has worked to make the visual verbal by taking print material and turning it into audio form. This began with SCA radio, grew to Internet broadcasts, phone apps, DAISY files, and starting soon, this mission will include the performing arts.

MindsEye’s audio description means that every person who attends a theater production, regardless of visual impairment, has the chance to experience a rewarding performance. The attendee borrows a headset, free of charge with a ticket, and listens as the MindsEye audio describer explains costumes, sets, and on-stage action. The audio describer is careful never to talk over the dialogue and to leave interpretation up to the listener.

Audio description does nothing more or nothing less than take the visual pieces of a performance and make them accessible for the blind and visually impaired.

MindsEye began audio describing with Variety Theatre during their annual production at the Touhill Performing Arts Center. This was a transformative experience. Audio description had a powerful impact on attendees with vision loss, while also influencing performers with vision loss.

When MindsEye got involved with Variety, Andrew Adolphson, who has a visual impairment, was working backstage. By using audio description, he was able to hear action on the stage described. He understood the show, his cues, and things like sight gags better. MindsEye volunteer and audio describer, Sue Bolen, talks about watching Andrew use audio description for the first time: “His big smile when he got the sight gag – that was priceless.”

Andrew continued his work with Variety, and last year, in their 2015 production of “Mary Poppins,” he took center stage for a tap solo during “Step in Time.” Working with Andrew as he blossomed in the theater world underscored how much audio description empowers the blind community.

Imagine how special it is to audio describe for blind members in an audience about the blind performer on stage. This demonstrated how important this service is, but unfortunately, only a few venues in St. Louis currently offer audio description. This inspired MindsEye to fill in that gap.

Audio description is currently offered in-house at the Muny and the Fox Theatre. Still, this leaves many venues in the metro St. Louis area unserved. MindsEye is currently working with theaters to schedule performances. Once in place, attendees will have the option to go to the performance on “accessibility night” and audio description will be available. Once the schedule is finalized, details will be broadcast on MindsEye Radio and available on as well.




Spring Board Meeting MINUTES

Sheraton Westport Chalet, St. Louis, MO

April 22-23, 2016

On Friday April 22, Stephanie Brady of the Joplin Independent Living Center presented Board training on the governance and responsibilities of the Board.

The meeting was called to order at 9:00 AM by president Denny Huff.

Chip Hailey led us in prayer.

Denny led us in the Pledge Of allegiance.

Recording Secretary Joe Morgan called the roll. Members and guests in attendance are at the end of this report.

Denny welcomed on line listeners and Executive Director Chris Gray.

The agenda was approved with two additions: (1) appoint a new convention coordinator; and (2) Sabrina Fowler moved to add two donation requests. The motion was adopted.

The Minutes for January 28, 2016 were approved.

Stephanie Brady presented Board training on the financial responsibilities of the board and fundraising.

President's Report

Denny Huff reported that the Policy Committee has been meeting biweekly. A change will be made to the By-Laws and Committee Guidelines that all references made to Chairman or Chairperson will be changed to Chair. This was done for consistency. This did not require membership approval. He also talked about our participation in Power Up, the ACB/MCB pizza party, and the St. Charles County Council of the Blind Public Forum.

Denny asked the Board to approve an ACB caucus conference call with the ACB candidates as opposed to having an in-person caucus meeting during the ACB convention. This was approved.

Executive Director's Report

Chris Gray presented fundraising ideas from the Resource and Development Committee; a giving circle campaign, a ball drop, a Riviera cruise possibly scheduled for next year, and sponsorship for the 2016 MCB convention. Packets were handed out for reps to take back to their affiliate.

Ruthie Clark mentioned another fundraising idea using A percentage of your purchases will go to MCB.

Treasurer's Report

Robert Vaughn gave the Treasurer's Report.  The checking account balance is $7521.15. The Raymond James investment balance is $2,375,779.30. The US Bank investment balance is $1,115,395.21. Our total investments come to $3,491,174.60. The 2015 audit is finished. We had a nonqualified audit which is good.

Thrift Store Report

Michael Keller gave the Thrift Store Report. The store is doing well and there have been days with record sales.  At the end of his report he gave a donation check to MCB for $10,000.

Education and Advocacy Report

Chip Hailey gave the Education an Advocacy report.  He talked about current legislation sponsored by MCB and legislative days.

Member-at-Large Report

Jannel Morris gave the Member-at-Large Report. She recommended that the Committee be given 30 days to approve a member-at large application. A letter will be sent out to all members-at large telling them about affiliates in their area. The committee would like more members-at large to join affiliates, if possible. This was considered a motion.  Also, if a member-at large applicant decides to join an affiliate, the dues paid would be applied to that affiliate.  The motion was adopted.

Community Service Award

Michael Keller presented a proposal for a Community Service Award. This award could be given to any company or organization that goes above and beyond giving assistance to the blind, visually impaired, and to other cross disabilities.

Tony Pickrell moved to have a community service award as presented. The motion was adopted.

Donation Requests

Robert Vaughn made a motion for MCB to sponsor walkers who participate in the ACB Walk in the amount of $1000.  The motion was adopted.

Tony Pickrell made a motion for the Board to donate an item for the ACB auction which will be held at the ACB convention. Chris Gray will purchase a $100 item and take it to the auction.  The motion was adopted.

DeAnna Noriega made a motion for the Board to purchase two Braille Forum raffle tickets at $50 each. The motion was adopted.

New Convention Chair

Jerry Annunzio stepped down as Convention Coordinator. Denny has asked Jesuita Tabor to take his place. Wilma Chestnut-House moved to accept Jesuita Tabor as the new Convention Coordinator. The motion was adopted.

Convention Coordinator Report

Jesuita Tabor thanked everyone for appointing her and she is fit to serve. She talked about events that will happen during the convention; a trolley ride tour of St. Louis which will be 90 minutes for $26.00, a jam session during the hospitality dinner and a silent auction on Saturday. The banquet will be called a gala. She has a couple of proposed sites for our 2018 convention; Branson and Tan-Terra.


Sabrina Fowler moved to give a $1000 donation to Camp Ability.  Discussion followed and a roll call vote was taken; the motion failed. No action was taken on the St. Louis Bowlers donation.

Midwest Leadership Conference

Ruthie Clark talked about the Midwest Leadership conference, and a young professional’s seminar that will be held from August 5-7, 2016 in Omaha, Nebraska. Jesuita Tabor made a motion that MCB cover Ruthie's expenses on the same ratio that we do for MCB Representatives.  MCB will pay for transportation, hotel and meals. The motion was adopted.

The meeting was adjourned at 12:45 PM.

Respectfully submitted, Joe Morgan Recording Secretary



From the Lower Left-Hand Drawer

By John Weidlich

We have a short column this time with not a lot to report but I hope you will find what we have to be useful.

It seems that we almost always have something to report from National Braille Press but this one is a little different. NBP is generally known for its publications and it seldom releases new products. But that is about to change. National Braille Press is marketing a device called the B2G, or Braille to Go. The B2G is a portable Android-based 20-cell refreshable Braille computer. It has a simple design, with an eight-dot Braille keyboard and navigation pad. It comes with basic apps, like a calendar, calculator, camera and clock, but free optional apps can be downloaded, including Bard Mobile, Facebook, and Twitter. The cost is $2,495. You can find out more from the web site

It doesn’t seem all that long ago that we started using iOS 9, but from what I hear a new operating system called iOS 10 may be coming out this Fall and I’m sure that when it does, National Braille Press will quickly have a new book for us about the new system. But for now, NBP has a new Edition of its popular Getting Started with the iPhone Series, by Anna Dresner, this one dealing with iOS 9. It is called Getting Started with the iPhone and iOS 9: Step by Step Instructions for Blind Users. This is a tutorial for beginners, containing everything you need to know to get started using an iPhone with iOS 9. It costs $24 in several formats, including Braille. There is also a reference card, which is a guide to using VoiceOver, Bluetooth keyboards and Braille Displays, all in one Braille booklet for $8. If you are an experienced iPhone user but still want to know about the new features in iOS 9, you can still get iOS Without the Eye by Jonathan Mosen. And one more: Anyone Can Play, Accessible Games for the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch. In this book, a group of blind computer gamers describe their favorite accessible game apps; how they work and what it takes to win. $12 in various formats. To order any of these books, contact National Braille Press, 88 St Stephen Street, Boston, MA 02115; Phone: (800) 548-7323, or go to

I’m not sure where to order this, but I saw a report about a new device called the Orcam, that reads text aloud to people who are blind or visually impaired. The device consists of a small base unit about the size of a glasses case and a small camera and speaker that can be attached to a pair of glasses with a magnet. Point the device to some text and hear it read. The Orcam can also be programmed to recognize commercial products, personal items and identify people’s faces. To do this, you would stand in front of a person and say the person’s name. The device would then be able to recognize that person and speak the person’s name. It costs between $2,500 and $3,500. The only contact information I have is the company name Orcam Technology.

The Apple online store now has a new accessibility section where people with disabilities can find equipment to meet their needs. You can find accessories for computers and iPhones and the Brailliant Braille Display from Humanware. More items will be added in the future.

Here is a bit of technology news involving a merger of companies that apparently caught a lot of people by surprise. You may remember that Freedom Scientific recently acquired Optelec to form a company known as VFO. Well, VFO has now acquired another major technology company, AI Squared, a leading developer of screen magnification and screen reading software, including Zoom Text and WindowEyes. The new combined company will offer the industry’s most recognized products: JAWS, Magic, Window Eyes and Zoom Text, as well as video magnifiers and refreshable braille displays.

HumanWare has released a new line of handheld electronic magnifiers for reading text, viewing pictures and signing documents. They are called Explore and there are three models: Explore 3, 5, and 7. Those numbers indicate the screen size. Each of them has different features which I won’t go into here. But if you want to know more about these new magnifiers, contact HumanWare at (800) 722-3393 or visit their website

If you are paying back student loans, as so many people are these days, you may want to know about this. The US Department of Education has announced a process for identifying and assisting federal student loan borrowers with disabilities who may be eligible for total and permanent disability loan discharge. A provision of the new Higher Education Act allows for loan forgiveness for borrowers who are totally and permanently disabled. The Department of Education is working closely with the Social Security Administration to identify federal student loan borrowers who also receive disability payments and have the specific designation of “Medical Improvement Not Expected, which qualifies them for loan forgiveness under the TPD discharge program. So far, approximately 387,000 borrowers have been identified with a combined total loan balance of over $7.7 billion, and many of them are currently in default. Borrowers thus identified will receive a letter explaining the new program. They will not be required to submit documentation of their eligibility. They simply sign and return the completed application. They will also receive information about the potential tax implications of this benefit. Visit for more information.

That’s it for this time.