June 2006 Issue

Equality, Independence, Opportunity

Founded 1935

(206) 283-4276



Cindy Burgett, President

6686 Capricorn Lane NE

Bremerton, WA  98311

(360) 698-0827


Peggy Shoel, Editor

5171 S. Spencer St.

Seattle, WA  98118

(206) 722-8477




From the President's Desk

Editor’s Comment 

Spring WCB Board Meeting 

Links to Leadership 2006 

GDUWS Spring Fling 2006

WCB 2006 Convention 

Buddies for Convention First-Timers 

Advocacy Update 

WCB Legislative Committee Report Card 

Voter Access Machines 

Adaptive Cycle Expo

School of Piano Technology for the Blind 

What’s New at WATA? 

Washington Talking Book & Braille Library Report 

Washington State School for the Blind Report 

Department of Services to the Blind Report 

Louis Braille School 

Around the State 

Summer Camp Opportunities

Hats Off to You!  

Bits & Pieces







From The President’s Desk

By Cindy Burgett, WCB President

Over 100 WCB members have now participated in our annual Leadership training; 18 members took part at this years event. As I reflect on our April 29-30 training, I cant help but be reminded of the importance of community and working together. Im not alone and neither are you. WCB is more than a membership organization, we are a community.

This was reflected in a survey taken by participants following their leadership weekend.  An interactive activity where folks worked together as a team on a problem solving project received the highest praise. Why is this?

Think back if you will to a time when you have found yourself facing a dilemma. Whether it was personal or professional in nature, was your greatest struggle in dealing with it when you felt as though you were alone?

Whether its carrying a piece of furniture or the burden of a situation, the load is always made lighter on us as an individual if we are able to share it with others. We dont have to be a super hero to make it through this life. We can rely on our friends, family, coworkers, and yes, our WCB membership, to help us along the way.

WCB is fortunate to have numerous committees working alongside individuals so that they dont have to do it alone, whatever it may be.

Our Advocacy Committee is prepared to help members and non-members alike in situations of discrimination. They just need to know about your situation.

Our Crisis Committee is available to consider requests from blind individuals experiencing a financial crisis with up to a $300 one-time only assistance. Again, this is available to members and non-members alike.

Our Sunshine Committee is ready to send out cards of sympathy and get well wishes to our members going through a rough time. But we need to hear from chapter Presidents about these members, and they cant know unless someone tells them. So, communicate with your chapter President so that he/she can communicate with me.

Our Membership Committee wants to help chapters become stronger. Our Aging and Blindness Committee wants to support and reach out to the senior population throughout our state. Our Families with Blind Children Committee is eager to create new and support existing programs which benefit young blind people and their families. Our Scholarship Committee continues to provide financial support to deserving blind students. And the list goes on.

All of these committees are just a sampling of the ways in which WCB members share in the lives of another. The fact is, though, we cannot be there for you unless we know about your situation. So, if youre not sure who to contact on a state level, give Marilyn a call at (Seattle) (206) 283-4276 or (toll-free) 800-255-1147 and shell be happy to lead you in the right direction. If you get the voice mail, be sure to leave a detailed message and your call will be returned.

I know that the real sense of community, though, begins at the chapter level. Your meetings are the place where you can truly get to know your members. Please take advantage of this forum and make time to hear from your membership about whats happening in their lives. Celebrate in their successes and support them in their struggles. Create an environment that is not only welcoming, but that notices when one of your own is missing. Check up on members who arent coming to meetings and really be a community.

Working together we are all stronger. There is strength in numbers and WCB is growing stronger because of each of you.

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Editor’s Comment
Diabetics in Action (DIA)

by Peggy Shoel

DIA is a new American Council of the Blind special interest affiliate.  President Delia (Dee) Clayton of Des Moines, Iowa, states, “We currently have an active membership of 25 and we are growing.” 

DIA holds monthly telephone conference calls, maintains an email list where information and experiences regarding the importance and techniques of good diabetes management are discussed along with the latest technology on blind user-friendly blood glucose monitors and other related equipment.  The latest information from the medical and scientific fields is reported and discussed. 

Perhaps the most important part of participation in the monthly conference call and on the list is the encouragement and motivation that is given.  DIA has been presenting programs at every national ACB convention, and this year’s presenter is Chris Gray, ACB National President and a member of DIA.  Dues are $10/year and this affiliate is open to individuals who have diabetes or who have a close friend or relative with diabetes.  It is important that they understand what it is all about in order to be a strong source of support.

For more information, contact Dee at or (515)282-1275, evenings or weekends.

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Highlights of the Spring WCB Board Meeting
by Marlaina Lieberg, WCB Secretary

On April 30, the WCB Board met at the SeaTac Doubletree Airport Hotel. We were delighted to welcome about 30 additional WCB members to the meeting.

President Cindy Burgett gave a report filled with enthusiasm, reminding everyone of pertinent dates to apply for stipends or loans related to the ACB National Convention. She also reminded us that WCB is planning another Mariners' trip on July 1, and we all hope that maybe we'll win this year.  Right now, the M's are 0 and 5 for WCB.

Participants of the Leadership Training Seminar, held just prior to the Board Meeting, were welcomed, and their enthusiasm was contagious! We'll see some fine new leaders in WCB, of this I am sure.

Many of WCB's committees have been quite busy since the last Board Meeting.  The Environmental Access Committee has been involved in strategizing for more accessible pedestrian signals, Membership Committee is planning a Friend Day in Wenatchee, Families With Blind Children have donated two IPod Shuffles to DSB for use as prizes in their career day, Advocacy has successfully intervened on two very complex cases, Scholarship will have their application and cover letter online well in time for applicants to access them, the Convention Committee is working hard to make the 2006 WCB Convention the biggest yet, and Aging and Blindness are still doing fabulous outreach via their brochures.

We learned about two new and exciting ventures for WCB. WCB has entered into a relationship with a firm that will assist us in finding grant funding for specific projects; the principals of the firm were present with us all weekend and learned a great deal.

Secondly, WCB is researching the feasibility of publishing a disaster preparedness manual in alternative formats for blind and visually impaired people in Washington. Stay tuned for more!

Keep your eyes and ears open, you may be called upon to help. There are two issues of major importance facing blind Washingtonians. One involves the Washington Talking Book and Braille Library and the other the Washington State School for the Blind. As I am sure others will report on these in this or later issues of Newsline, I'll just say that each is very serious and will quite likely require all of us to be involved.

Our next Board meeting will be on Saturday, August 12 at the Sea-Tac Doubletree Airport Hotel. I hope to see as many of you there as possible.  Until then, have a great spring!

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Links To Leadership 2006, a View from a Participant
by Ryan West, President, North Central Washington Council of the Blind

Wow! What a leadership conference. The choice of Paul Edwards to facilitate was a great choice. Paul brought humor and a worldly view to the conference. His ability to recognize where we as blind people have been, where we are now, and what we need to strive for in the future was extremely energizing.

As a participant, I was made to feel comfortable by the panelists from the very beginning. Each person really made it clear that leadership comes in many shapes, sizes, and personality types. This gave me comfort knowing I would fit into one of these types as a leader. Each of the leaders presenting was very different in their personality types, however they all had one thing in common, the belief that everyone has something to offer.

Just an observation, but I think all 18 of us leadership participants were able to find one or more of these links to leadership in ourselves: Empowerment, Communication, Teamwork, Organizational Skills, Resourcefulness, and Responsibility. I know if we all look for these qualities within ourselves we can find them and, even better, find them in those around us.

I think for me to pick out one person or a presentation from the eight wonderful panelists would be difficult. It took all eight people to make a great leadership training conference. Another thing I learned about leadership is that great leaders do not try to do everything themselves. They empower others to do their best and then give them tasks they are good at doing. Wow! I will say it again what a great leadership training conference. I could feel the energy in the room from the very start. As the participants found their leader inside, the energy levels got higher and higher. So, by the end of the leadership conference the loud cheers were frequent. It was said it sounded like we were 30 people, not 18, but I can say it sounded like 50 people to me.

When we split off into four groups and were given one of two scenarios, everyone’s talents really shined. The first two groups were given a problem facing the Washington State School for the Blind. The second two groups were given a problem facing the Washington Talking Book and Braille Library. Everyone had to work together with their groups to come up with a solution for the problem. I was excited when two quiet people in our group were able to overcome their fears and spoke in front of every one. This took great courage and determination.

Paul Edwards, immediate past president of the American Council of the Blind and President of Florida Council of the Blind, had many thought-provoking questions for each of the groups. Although we don't always want to think about change, sometimes we need to entertain new ideas. If we look at things from all sides we may have a better chance of solving the problems when they arise.

What can I say about the hospitality room? I think on both nights everyone had a great time and many new bonds were formed. I can also say the next morning came very early! I was fortunate to have been able to join Cindy, Tim, and Quincy for breakfast at the Dennys across from the hotel. One thing I observed by doing so is that the intersection is a nasty one. The road is very wide with many lanes of traffic and a really short light sequence, followed by two steps up and an immediate step down. However when we got to Dennys it was worth the hassle because we were rewarded with a great breakfast and wonderful fellowship.

The leadership conference culminated in a wonderful way. We had a banquet where we received our beautifully crafted links to leadership shirts of honor. Paul Edwards then provided us with insight into other cultures’ treatment of blind people and how they treated themselves. I found Paul to be very heart warming and genuine in his fight for himself and other blind people to overcome the walls that have been placed in front of us by ourselves and the world around us.

I would without reservation recommend that everyone who has a chance to attend a leadership training conference do so. I enjoyed it tremendously and left feeling a sense of empowerment.

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GDUWS Spring Fling 2006
by Joleen Ferguson, President, GDUWS

Proud we are that we had a third successful Spring Fling held at the same location and on the same weekend as the WCB leadership seminar. This year it was at the SeaTac Doubletree Hotel, Saturday, April 29.

Again, it was an all day event with speakers presenting all aspects of “Training From Start to Finish” including criteria for breed stock, puppy-raising, and formal training.  Melinda Carlson spoke from Guide Dogs for the Blind, as did Sharon Majewski from Guide Dogs of America. Sandy Bonsib and John Bickley were puppy raiser speakers from Guide Dogs for the Blind.

Our sale items included fleece throws or t-shirts with our new logo tactilely presented. We had small, blinking lights for better visibility when walking in the dark. These lights can be attached to a zipper pull, dog collar, or leash or any such item by means of the small dog clip attached. We also had greeting cards for sale. Sale items went well this year and those manning the table were pleased to have the new money identifier to help in determining the correct bills. The above-mentioned items are still available for sale. Blinking lights are $6.00 each and throws or white t-shirts are $12.00. There may be additional t-shirt colors in the future. Contact Vivian Conger to order these items. Hayley Agers makes tactile greeting cards with Braille and print notations and graciously donates to GDUWS the money she receives.  Our registration packets contained lots of goodies, among them items donated by the Seeing Eye and by Guide Dogs of America.

The day would not have been complete without a business meeting. We were an intimate group of about 20 participants again this year. Some of us were GDUWS members and others were puppy raisers who brought their current charges with them. We most likely would have had additional attendees except that some of our 42 members were helping with the leadership training or participating in that event.  It is now our tradition to have a box lunch, popular among our members because we can either stay in the meeting room, or go elsewhere for a break.

Make plans to join us next year. You will want to have interest in matters of guide dogs, but you do not need to partner with a guide dog to attend or to join our affiliate.

Contacts: Web page - Craig Phillips, Webmaster

Membership ($15.00 per person) - Janice Squires, Treasurer
(509) 582-4749 or

Sale Items - Vivian Conger, Secretary
(509) 526-4967 or

Tactile Greeting Cards - Hayley Agers
(360) 653-5572 or

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WCB 2006 Convention
(November 9 to November 11, 2006)

by Berl Colley, Committee Chair

Where:  at the SeaTac Doubletree Inn at SeaTac across from the entrance to the SeaTac Airport

Rates:  will be $85 per night.  The cut-off time to reserve a room is October 10, 2006 (10-10)

Phone:  the phone number for the SeaTac Doubletree is (206) 246-8600.  Be sure to tell the reservation person that you are with the Washington Council of the Blind convention

Host Chapter:  South King Council of the Blind

Your convention committee is pleased to announce that our guest speaker for this year’s convention will be David Trott.  David is President of the Alabama Council of the Blind and is on the board of directors of the American Council of the Blind.  He also chairs ACB’s Resource Committee.  David’s wife, Rhonda, is in charge of ACB stores.  One of the interesting things that David will be talking to us about is Alabama’s role in assisting blind and visually impaired people during and after the 2005 hurricanes in the South.

If you are thinking about running for an office this year, the positions up for election are:  Second Vice President; Secretary; and three board positions.

Glenn McCully is heading up the always-popular Exhibit Room this year.  Glenn hopes to have the room packed with a diverse group of exhibitors.  Our Exhibit Room hours will be 10:00am to 5:00pm on Friday, November 10.

Please be looking for your 2006 convention bulletin in August.  When you get it, mark those events and activities that you plan to attend.  This helps us have an idea of what size of room to use.  It also helps us let the hotel know how many meals to prepare.

Registration for this year’s convention is $60 if you register by October 10 (10-10).  Between October 10 and 20, the registration cost will be $110.  As in the previous several years, the registration fee will cover the cost of five convention meals.  For those wishing to purchase a banquet ticket only, the cost will be $35 per person.

Those WCB members who joined before April 10, 2006 and live east of the mountains will receive a stipend of $75 if you contact Shirley Taylor before October 10 (10-10).  Shirley’s phone number is (206) 362-3118.  If you live west of the Cascades, you will receive a $25 stipend if you apply through Shirley, unless you live in Snohomish, King, Pierce or Thurston counties.

If you are considering applying for the free sleeping room, the call-in date is September 11.  Call Marilyn Donnelly at (800) 255-1147 between the hours of 9:00am and 4:00pm.  There will be one room for two women and one room for two men. 

If you plan to apply for a First-Timers award for this year’s convention, contact Viola Cruz at (360) 754-8193 or email her at  She must receive applications by August 31, 2006.

We will have more convention information in the September Newsline.

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Buddies for Convention First-Timers
by Julie Brannon, Membership Retention Chair

You walk into the Seatac Double Tree Hotel on November 9, 2006. This is your first WCB convention, you signed up as a first-timer and were granted a first-timer scholarship. You are amazed at the buzz of conversation, and you listen to a variety of voices, chattering away as if they all knew each other, but most impressive to you, it seems they all know where to go, what to do, and what they are here for. But, you think to yourself, I'm glad they all feel so comfortable, I sure don't.

Then, as you go to the registration desk, a person there explains that since you marked down on the convention registration form about your desire to have a convention buddy, you will be connected with someone who indicated they wanted to connect with a first-timer, as a convention buddy, in fact, you can meet them just after you get registered. You try to act calm, cool, and collected, acting as if you could really take or leave that "convention buddy," but deep down you are so relieved. The person at the desk is continuing to explain that you and your assigned buddy can decide just how much time you choose to spend together, but that your buddy has been instructed to not let you be stranded or be unsure of any part of the convention.

To a first-timer at a convention that could involve up to 300 people, having someone to connect with who has experienced the convention in the past, and who can explain the goings-on, this connection with another person can be invaluable and can make the difference for that first-timer if the convention ends up being a so-so experience, or a wonderful experience!

Even though we are months away from our WCB convention, it's really time to start thinking of yourself as a possible "convention buddy." You may be thinking, “What do I have to offer? I'd feel silly saying I'm a buddy? What if I can't answer questions a first-timer might have?”

What it takes to be a convention buddy is to have attended at least two previous WCB conventions, to have a feeling for how you felt as a first-timer, and to have, at maximum, one other responsibility during the convention. The major criteria is to not be involved in convention activities so that you really have time to be with and attend to any questions or needs your convention buddy might have. The truth is, that is all it takes - you don't need to worry about having all the answers, or not being the "right" kind of person to be a buddy. I know that from former conventions, people who have been a convention buddy and been there for the first-timer they were assigned to considered it a marvelous responsibility. Some even made long-time and lasting friendships.

In the next Newsline, we will give you more specific details as to how to let the Membership Retention Committee know, (this is the committee who will be working in conjunction with the Convention Committee to organize the process), just how to go about being a convention buddy. But, I truly hope you will realize you have what it takes, and consider being involved in the 2006 WCB convention in this way.

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An Advocacy Update
by Sue Ammeter, Committee Chair

The WCB Advocacy Committee has been quite busy this year providing advice and assistance to members and non-members alike.  In February, I was contacted by a WCB member who is a part-time employee of the Seattle Lighthouse for the Blind.  He had been notified by the Social Security Administration (SSA) that his SSDI benefits were being terminated and that he was expected to repay his earned benefits from June, 2001 to the present.  SSA advised him that this decision was based upon the fact that he was earning above the SGA level (Substantial Gainful Activity).  The employee objected to this determination and, after some research, I contacted an attorney with the Seattle Community Law Center who specialized in Social Security matters.  Our attorney sent a letter to the Kent SSA office requesting a review of their decision.  Following the review, it was determined that the incorrect SGA earning level had been applied and that an error had been made.  When someone is receiving SSDA benefits there are two SGA levels that are used:  one for blind recipients and a lower amount for individuals with other disabling conditions.  Fortunately, through quick intervention, we were able to resolve this situation without the employee having to go through a long and arduous appeals process.

The Advocacy Committee receives inquiries from individuals who want to know more about their civil rights or non-discrimination laws, how to file a complaint or a grievance or about issues involving employment, transportation or housing.  Some examples of recent inquiries include: an individual who was initially hired by a sports clinic and then subsequently sent home because a corporate vice president believed that he posed a safety risk; a newly blinded employee who was unexpectedly laid off and requested assistance in the EEOC mediation process; a WCB member who was treated unfairly by his paratransit provider and needed to know the grievance procedures available to him; a guide dog handler in Spokane who was physically removed from a restaurant by the owner, due to having his guide dog on the premises; and by a blind couple with landlord tenant concerns regarding their lease.  The Advocacy Committee is working on some other situations and we will bring you updates when we reach closure.

If you believe that you have issues or concerns that should be brought to the attention of the Advocacy Committee, please feel free to contact us.  You can leave a message on our WCB 800 number or contact me at (360) 437-7916 or by email at

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WCB Legislative Committee Report Card
by Denise Colley, Committee Chair

No one could have anticipated, at the beginning of the new year, that the 2006 Washington State legislative session would prove to be such a busy and important session for the Washington Council of the Blind.  You received quite a number of legislative email updates over our WCB listserv, and now it’s time to see how those issues we were working hard on turned out.  Here is WCB’s 2006 advocacy/legislative report card.  Did I say advocacy?  Indeed I did!  For you see, legislation is a major part of advocacy.

Very early in January, before the legislative session had barely started, you received a notice that a bill was being introduced modifying provisions related to guide dogs and service animals.  In essence the bill (HB2461) would have given the same privileges of accessing places of public accommodation to a guide dog or service animal in training that are currently granted to trained guide dogs and service animals.  WCB opposed this bill.  Being able to access a place of public accommodation such as a restaurant or hotel with a guide dog or service animal is a Civil Right of the person with a disability, not the service animal.  A person training a guide dog or service animal is not a person with a disability.  Quick response was needed and quick response was what you provided when asked to make phone calls and send letters to your representatives.

The result:  Your voice was loud and strong, and the bill never made it out of committee.  Your grade:  A.

On January 10th, Senate Bill 6287, a bill that added legally blind to the list of medical conditions that qualified a person for special parking privileges, was introduced and referred to the Senate Committee on Transportation.  Again, WCB opposed this bill, taking the position that the legally blind do not need special parking privileges and that blindness, in and of itself, does not result in physical difficulty walking significant distances.  We also had great concern that the granting of such privileges merely feeds into the stereotypes and misconceptions that already exist about blindness and the abilities of blind people, misconceptions we work hard daily to dispel in all aspects of our lives.   Although we were unable to attend the Senate Transportation Committee hearing to testify on this bill, our WCB President did submit written testimony expressing our opposition.  Unfortunately, such efforts were unsuccessful, and the bill passed unanimously out of the Senate and went on to the House.  It was now time to start taking this bill more seriously.

Once again you rallied to the cause.  When the bill went before the House Transportation Committee, you were right there to make phone calls and send e-mails.  This time we were even there to testify before the full Committee.  The Committee did hear us, and even amended the bill to add language related to:

1)   A definition of “legally blind”;

2)   A section reaffirming legislature recognition that legal blindness does not affect the physical ability to walk, nor does it limit the ability to participate and contribute in employment and all aspects of life as an equal and productive citizen;

3)   If an individual has received appropriate training in travel skills, any travel limitations will not be resolved by the granting of special parking privileges.

Unfortunately, this additional language didn’t make the bill any better.

While you continued to put the pressure on through your e-mails and phone calls, the bill did eventually pass both out of Committee, and out of the House.  The bill was not well thought out, and despite all your efforts, this is a battle that we lost.  Your grade:  C+.

Last, but certainly not least, you received numerous e-mail updates about House Bill 2479 – a bill ensuring access to voting equipment for voters with visual impairments.  WCB supported this bill all the way.  This was your shining moment.  This important bill seemed to stall at each step in the legislative process.  Each time you were asked to contact your legislators and get the bill moving again.  You rose to the challenge, and each time, your calls got the bill moving again.  This time, too, we also had the opportunity to testify in favor.  And as the session was winding down, the bill passed unanimously.  ADVOCACY WORKS – THANKS TO YOU!!!  Your grade:  A+.

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Voter Access Machines:   What’s the big brouhaha all about?
by Gaylen Floy, President, South King Council of the Blind

Back in March, Carl Jarvis pointed out an editorial in the Belleville News-Democrat, an Illinois paper, making this voting option sound extravagant, pandering to the disabled, who didn’t even bother to use the new-fangled contraption. Was this just a Midwest reaction to something new? Closer to home, a panel at the University of Washington debated its viability. Reaction within my chapter seemed mixed. Wednesday, May 3rd, King County Elections brought two Diebold voter access machines for a hands-on demonstration at the Talking Book and Braille Library. Curiosity got the best of me and I had to get a peek. Only a handful of people showed, mostly WCB folks.

The presenters were knowledgeable, helpful and genuinely excited about the possibilities this technology offers. This project is the result of the 2002 Help America Vote Act. Congress actually did something proactive after the 2000 election mess. It's part of a bigger plan to have statewide databases.  Bill Hennigan, the project manager, believes the voting machines are much better than paper ballots, especially after counting over 900,000 of them for the governor's race. Washington State has contracted with four different vendors, so machines vary from county to county. Mr. Hennigan compared the initial response to this device to curb cuts in sidewalks, “At first, no one wanted to spend the money, but everyone benefited.”

After attending the HUB panel, Frank Johnson, a retired social worker, was primarily concerned about security. “I live in a time when I’m pretty suspicious of government and people with bad intentions. But after seeing the precautions built into these …I’m impressed. There may be some hiccups, but it will be okay,” Frank said.  Hennigan showed us under the hood; each machine has three ways of storing data -- two digital and one secure paper canister using thermal ink. Elections staffers said the thermal ink is easy to read. There is no server or wireless connection to be hacked. Procedures are in place to ensure the machines are in working order and the results tracked.

The Diebold machines look like large, tilted laptops with telescoping legs to accommodate wheelchairs and people with limited mobility. These machines weigh 29 lbs. and cost about $3,000. A voter can request to use the audio and screen at the same time. It looks easier than trying to read an absentee ballot with a CCTV. This is just the first generation and improvements are already planned. In order to use the voting access machines this fall, check with your county elections board.

Becky Bell was handed a voter access card with an imbedded computer chip. This card is programmed to use a specific ballot. When the voting is done, the machine beeps, the card ejects and is erased. Becky found where to insert the card and picked up the headphones. She figured out the number pad and touch screen. The audio selection repeats until you make a choice. It won’t let you overvote. Becky said the voice was very clear and spoke slowly. A staffer answered a question or two, but Becky went through the selections with ease. Tim Schneebeck and David Egan were asking all the techie questions while a photographer hovered round.

This summer, county elections people want us to try these machines out. They want to talk with chapters, Lions Clubs, senior centers and so on. To arrange a demonstration, call your county elections board.

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Adaptive Cycle Expo
by Betty Sikkema, President, United Blind of Whatcom County

On Saturday, May 20th, I had the pleasure of biking in the Adaptive Cycle Expo.  The event was sponsored by the Bellingham Parks & Recreation, which provided unique cycles for all ages and disabilities.  Participants came with walkers or wheelchairs.  I seemed to be the only one with a white cane.

Despite the cold, clouds, and even a little rain, we still had fun!

Included were hand cycles for riders with limited or no leg movement, 3-4 wheel cycles for those who needed more stability, and tandem cycles, for those who wanted a guide while cycling.

The first bike I tried was a four-wheeler with two seats side-by-side, which reclined slightly, as if lounging.  The steering and braking was done from the side of the bike.  My seat had to be moved forward a bit so my feet could reach the pedals.

We rode around a small loop.  I asked, “Is that all?”  My assistant was given permission to go around the city hall, where a staffer biked ahead of us.

The three-wheeler was even more exciting to ride!  It had a comfortable bucket seat with the steering wheel in front.  My assistant had chosen to walk backwards or jog in front of me.  She sure got her exercise!

The third bike I rode was a two-wheeler tandem, which differed from a regular bicycle built for two.  I sat in the front on a chair seat with the brakes and steering on the side.  It was wonderful to exercise my leg muscles.

Wouldn’t it have been fun if we could have pedaled on a bike trail?  It was a good experience!

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School of Piano Technology for the Blind: “Tune in to Opportunity!”

by Len Leger, Executive Director


On October 27th, over 170 people attended the 55th Anniversary Celebration and Fundraising Dinner for the School of Piano Technology for the Blind at the Red Lion Hotel at the Quay in Vancouver, Washington.

Over $30,000 was donated to support the School’s recruiting initiatives.  The evening began with the reading of a city proclamation citing the school’s leadership in vocational education for the blind and visually impaired since it was founded by Emil B. Fries in 1949.  Royce Pollard, Vancouver’s Mayor, alternated reading from a print version of the proclamation with Don Mitchell, Director of Instruction, who read from a Braille copy of the proclamation that was produced at the Braille Access Center at WSSB.  One of the evening’s highlights was testimonials by blind graduates of the School who have gone on to live independent, productive lives and enjoy financial success in the piano service industry.  Applications are now being accepted for admission into the piano technology program starting in September 2006.


Career Exploration Clinic

July 17-19, 2006

We are offering a Career Exploration Clinic to blind and visually impaired people interested in pursuing a career in piano technology. The clinic will consist of hands-on and classroom learning opportunities to enable the prospective piano technician to evaluate the personal skills and characteristics needed for success. The deadline is June 30, 2006.

For more information about the Piano Technology Career Exploration Clinic, please contact Don Mitchell, Director of Instruction at (360) 693-1511 or, or for general information about the school, visit the school’s website:

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What’s New at the Washington Assistive Technology Act Program (WATAP)?
by Debbie Cook, Member At Large

The Washington (WA) Assistive Technology Act Program (formerly Washington Assistive Technology Alliance), located within the UW Center on Technology & Disability Studies, now offers a wide range of services to help customers of all ages with disabilities of all types decide about and acquire the assistive technology (AT) devices that best meet their needs for work, education, independent living, and access to information technology.

·       Device Demonstrations and Short-Term Device Loans

WATAP offers guidance and consultation to consumers and professionals by providing hands-on experience with a variety of devices to help people with disabilities make informed decisions about the assistive technology devices and services they need.  The devices support activities such as seeing, hearing, daily living, oral communication, learning, mobility, computer access, environmental control, transportation and recreation.  The trials, available by appointment in Seattle and other locations throughout the state, and at community events, help consumers decide which device is right for them, or whether a non-technological solution might be best.  To further help consumers make AT decisions, WATAP also loans AT devices to consumers and professionals for up to six weeks.  WATAP can also loan AT devices to public entities for short-term accommodation and, based on availability, to individuals whose AT device is being repaired.  A fee, based on the value of the item, may be charged to cover maintenance costs.  An equipment loan application along with policies and procedures is available in hard copy and on the WATAP web site.

·       ATMATCH:  Assistive Technology Online Marketplace

ATMATCH is a reuse/reutilization online marketplace.  Users can sell, search for and purchase a wide range of assistive technology devices and durable medical equipment.  Registration is required, but there is no cost for registration.  There is a small fee for sellers to list items, and a selling fee is charged if the item sells.  Buyers pay no fees.  Washington residents without web access may call WATAP for assistance in browsing the database or posting an item.

·       Computer Loan Program

Easter Seals Washington runs a computer loan program, partially funded by WATAP, to support the education, employment, and enhancement of personal independence of people with disabilities through the use of computers.  Washington state residents with disabilities are eligible.  Applications must include a letter from a professional such as a doctor, teacher, or other qualified person describing the applicant’s need and qualification for a computer loan.  The application must also identify a mentor available to the applicant to set up the computer and provide assistance.

·       Low-Interest Loans for Assistive Technology

The Washington Assistive Technology Foundation (WATF) is also part of the AT Act program.  WATF is particularly interested in helping low income individuals find a way to pay for the technologies they need to be independent and to succeed at school, at work, at play and in the community.  WATF provides two types of low-interest loans.  Assistive Technology Loans are given for assistive technology and access modifications to homes and vehicles.  Telework Loans are available for equipment needed by employees and entrepreneurs with disabilities who choose to work from home or other “Telework” locations on a full or part-time basis.

·       CCTV Rental Program

One of WATF’s most popular programs is the CCTV rental program.  Fees start at $25 per month.  CCTV’s provide magnification up to 60 times for print materials and objects placed under a magnification camera.

·       Other WATAP Services

WATAP provides information and referral regarding assistive technology devices, services and funding options.  We publish a periodic newsletter, maintain a comprehensive web site of relevant resources, manage an online discussion list about AT, and offer publications on various technology topics.  We also provide training for service providers in the selection and use of AT devices, and provide consultation to government and industry regarding access to information technology.

For more information about WATAP services:  Call 800-214-8731;  Email;  visit

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WTBBL on Web-Braille and Book Clubs
by Gloria Leonard, Director

NLS Resumes Web-braille:  Recently the National Library Service (NLS) abruptly shut down the web-braille site for several days.  Any patron logging into Web-Braille during the shutdown received this message:  “Because of technical and security difficulties, Web-Braille will be unavailable in the near future.  NLS regrets the inconvenience and will provide further information as soon as possible.  For more information, contact Judith Dixon, Consumer Relations Officer, at

Compounding the situation was the fact that the public was not told how long Web-Braille would be unavailable nor given any specifics about the problem(s) that caused the shutdown.

The difficulties have apparently been resolved.  The NLS Web-Braille site is again available!  In an email to all network libraries on May 18, NLS Director Kurt Cylke wrote that “Access to Web-Braille was temporarily suspended because NLS became aware of copyright violations.  NLS has taken several steps to prevent such problems in the future.”  Mr. Cylke went on to say that “Web-Braille users will notice that NLS has made several modifications to the Web-Braille system.  First, users will be required to accept an agreement describing the appropriate use of downloaded material every time a volume of Web-Braille is accessed.  And second, NLS has instituted a monitoring procedure to track all access to the Web-Braille system.”  He concluded his message with “We very much appreciate your patience while the Web-Braille system is undergoing these necessary modifications.”

Another Visually Impaired Book Club:  As reported in the March Newsline, a Visually Impaired Readers’ Book Group is held at the downtown Seattle Public Library on the second Tuesday of each month, sponsored by the Seattle Low-Vision Support Group and the United Blind of Seattle.  United Blind of Seattle’s Patt Copeland and Camille Jassney, along with Cleo Brooks, Coordinator, Library Equal Access Program (LEAP), are coordinating this activity.

Thanks to WTBBL Reader Advisor Alan Bentson, the United Blind of the Tri-Cities has launched a second book club.  On May 17, Janice Squires held the first meeting at the downtown branch of the Mid-Columbia Library.  WTBBL will continue to provide support, including recommending titles and supplying copies of books on cassette and in large print formats.  The Tri-Cities group also started with the book, The Kite Runner.  Beginning with six participants, the Tri-Cities group has grown to ten blind and low-vision readers.  The members are enthusiastic and open to suggestions about “great reads.”  The club has chosen Persepolis, the 2006 “Seattle Reads” title, as their selection for the June meeting. WTBBL looks forward to supporting new book clubs led by visually impaired readers who love to read and enjoy talking about it with others.

Summer Reading Club Update:  The 2006 statewide Summer Reading Club theme is “Paws, Claws, Scales and Tales.”  To date, 40 young readers ages 6-12, representing 15 of Washington’s 39 counties, have signed up.  Of the total number of children enrolled, ages 10-12 is the predominant age span; 23 young readers are in this group.  In 2005, a total of 50 children participated.  We anticipate having significantly more readers this summer.  Much of the credit is due to the great work of our Youth Services Librarian, Linda Johns.  Linda has planned several activities which will be sent through the mail.  These include:  1) recipes for making people treats and dog treats accompanied by dog-bone shaped cookie cutters; 2) googly-eyed creatures/finger puppets made of pipe cleaners, and 3) hydro-grow lizards (small sponge lizards that grow 600% when put in water).  For further information or to register, contact  The Library urges WCB to encourage eligible young readers to join WTBBL’s Summer Reading Club.  Thank you in advance for your assistance.

PAC Meeting Highlights:  In the first (February) meeting, new and returning Patron Advisory Councilors (PAC) attended an all-day retreat to increase overall knowledge and understanding of their charge.  The agenda included roles and responsibilities; WTBBL’s funding, governance structure, history and policies; an overview of the relationship to the City of Seattle and the Seattle Public Library; relationship between WTBBL and the National Library Service (NLS); and relationship between WTBBL, the Washington State Legislature, and the Washington State Library.  Also reviewed was the wide array of library services provided by the WTBBL and NLS.  The Council orientation session concluded with an overview of some of the mega-issues facing WTBBL at the local, state and national levels.

The April meeting focused on brainstorming to develop strategies to implement the top two initiatives:  Advocacy and Outreach activities on behalf of WTBBL. 

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Effectively Utilizing a Digital Environment to Enhance Learning Opportunities

By Dean O. Stenehjem, Ed.D., Superintendent

Washington State School for the Blind

In 2002 a task force was formed to explore the option of expanding educational classes and resource options for students, beginning with those students at the high school level.  The task force was to examine how to more effectively utilize a digital environment in helping to reduce a widening educational divide among communities within the state of Washington by utilizing the tools and resources currently available and those that would be developed in the future. The task force recommended that Washington State design a digital education initiative that would meet the five following criteria:

·          Impact the largest possible number of Washington State students, teachers and parents.

·          Offer more than just the online classes offered in many states.

·          Take advantage of the wealth of existing resources, both within Washington State and elsewhere.

·          Build a system with an eye on the future education and technology.

·          Create a “Magnet of Innovation” that draws the best providers to Washington State.

With this in mind a service called the Washington Digital Learning Commons (DLC) was formed as a 501(c)(3) to facilitate the goals of the task force.  Initial funding for the projects was obtained from the Gates, Allen, and Hewlett Foundations and State of Washington.  Under the direction of Dr. Lewis Fox, Vice Provost for Educational Learning Technologies, University of Washington, the proof of concept pilot began the fall of 2003.  Dr. Judy Margrath-Huge was hired as the CEO of the DLC to provide leadership and direction for this new service.  Of the original 18 schools, the Washington State School for the Blind (WSSB) was instrumental in assisting the DLC in providing a focus on accessibility as the services were put into place.

The DLC has proven to be a highly successful program and has a goal of having this service available in every school in our state.  At this time the services are primarily for high school age students, their teachers, and parents.  Approximately 50,000 students are now accessing the DLC and those schools that have become members have increased course offerings at the high school level by over 300 classes.  What this has meant to WSSB is that as students enter and exit the on-campus program, the class options for students have increased tremendously.  Even though WSSB has access to a large high school across the street and a community college that is likewise as close, the options and opportunities for students has been very important in helping students meet their needs and providing another avenue to learning. 

Access to the DLC has also helped accelerate our emphasis on digital learning options for students, has assisted in increasing staff’s digital skill sets, and assisted with transition issues as students enter and exit back into their local school districts throughout our state.  WSSB has also begun to offer some of its own online courses and has increased online services and training opportunities for those providing services to blind and visually impaired students in the Pacific Northwest.

Beginning in the 2006-07 school year, WSSB will begin offering the online class options to blind and visually impaired students throughout our state through Outreach Services.  Also, the DLC has opened the opportunities for other residential schools for the blind throughout our country to become members of the DLC, which would allow them to access all the resources and class options for a very minimal fee.  The contact person for this service is:  Dr. Judy Margrath-Huge, CEO of the Digital Learning Commons

The DLC has been a great resource to WSSB and we hope that this type of service option continues to grow and open up new avenues of learning for many more blind and visually impaired students from throughout the country.  “We are only limited by our own lack of imagination when it comes to what we can do to expand opportunities for students.”  In closing, let me provide you with one of those golden opportunities that can happen. 

Theresa Tate is just one of WSSB’s teachers who have embraced the possibilities of digital learning.  Last year she received training so she could teach an online course through the Virtual High School.  This meant that she was now both a faculty member with us and the VHS.  This not only opened up an additional class for six blind and visually impaired students on our campus, but also for students from throughout the U.S. (Actually, with digital learning we had no idea whether all the other students were disabled or not, disabilities became invisible!)

The message below is wonderful and really shows a student’s view of what can happen within the digital environment. It also helps address and answer some of the concerns about isolation, teacher access, etc. 

“Oh My Goodness!

This class was the best. It was a new experience, and definitely one I will never forget. I remember signing online the first day of school, and wondering what it would be like, and who these people are, that I will most likely never see in person. But now, I don't want to leave, because I love the supportive environment we have all created for each other. We each love the poetry we get to read, and responding to it is awesome too.  I also loved the lessons. They were insightful and amusing. I have learned a lot more about my own writing styles and preferences than I thought that I would. I have written more different kinds of poetry, than I probably would have, had I not taken this class.  This was such a positive experience for me, one that I will cherish and never forget. I hope that everyone tries hard to stay in touch, and never forgets that no matter what anyone says, the real poet lies on the inside, and what comes out is a mission from one’s heart.  Love you all!”  Lilly

For more information on digital learning go to

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DSB Update – Peer Mentor Program, RSA Changes, New Service Delivery Positions
by Michael MacKillop, VR Team Leader

The past year has seen many changes, challenges, and successes for the Department of Services for the Blind.  LouOma Durand has served her first year as agency director.  Here are some of the things that are happening on the national scene and within the agency.

·       Changes at the Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA). 

As many people may know, the regional offices of Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA) have been closed.  The monitoring of the vocational rehabilitation programs has been centralized in the national office of the Department of Education in Washington, D.C.  We are working with the RSA Monitoring Team that is assigned to DSB.  We will be having our first visit from the team in August.  This will be an opportunity for agency administration and the monitoring team to become acquainted and to determine how we will be working together.  Additionally, the team will be meeting with the State Rehabilitation Council (SRC), the State Independent Living Council (SILC), Community Rehabilitation Programs (CRPs), consumer groups, and customers of the agency.  This initial trip was planned so that the monitoring team can better understand how services are provided in our state and become familiar with stakeholders.

·       Orientation & Training Center Update

To ensure more prepared and marketable customers, we have worked to have better communication and collaboration between the service delivery teams and our residential training program staff.  As a result, the training is more career-focused and linked to future employment.  The OTC has integrated a career seminar into the core curriculum, and has established a peer mentor program for OTC students to discuss issues, hopes and concerns with blind peers in the workforce.  (We always need blind professionals as mentors – call 1-800-552-7103 to volunteer.)  An ongoing workshop has been taught jointly by VR counselors and OTC staff to have students discover and speak to their consistent and dependable strengths, which increases each student’s self-esteem and confidence for job interviewing.

·       New Service Delivery Positions

We are pleased to announce that we have been allotted four new VR direct service positions through a Supplemental Budget request to the Governor.  We have received three counselor positions and one assistive technology position.  These positions will be phased in over the course of the next fiscal year.  The locations of these new positions are Olympia, Vancouver and Yakima.  The placement of these positions match population growth trends and will reduce oversized caseloads.  There is much work to do to accommodate these positions before they can be hired.  Recruitment and office space will have the most influence on how quickly we bring these positions on board.  This will have a positive impact on caseload and will increase our capacity to better serve our customers!

·       New VR Vendor Qualification Process

We have put into place a long-anticipated vendor qualification process to ensure safe and quality service provision for DSB customers.  A new vendor qualification process has been put in place to ensure all contracted service providers pass a national background check, and have the skills and certification to provide quality services to our clients.

·       Another Successful Year!

We are projecting that the highest number of customers in the history of the agency will achieve a competitive employment outcome this year.  We are anticipating that over 140 customers statewide will have achieved their employment goal.

If you are interested in learning more about DSB, visit our website at

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Louis Braille School Report

By Carolyn Meyer, Director

It is a busy time at the Louis Braille School. Sometimes it seems we are going around and around on a merry-go-round that will not stop. We do love the music, though. This article is a sampling of the events, meetings, and activities that are going on at the new Louis Braille School.

Braille Camp 2006, our annual summer program for children who are blind or visually impaired, will happen July 10-21. The Braille Campers will be the first children we welcome to the red brick building now known as the Louis Braille School. Chris Coulter, our main instructor for this year’s Braille Camp, has a fun program planned that includes lots of music and stories. She will be assisted by Louis Braille School employee Hy Cohen and by Sara Teshome, a Mountlake Terrace High School student, who reads both braille and large print. Special events include a day of pottery with Becky Bell, bowling at nearby Robin Hood Lanes, and a sing-a-long of French children’s songs - in French - with Janet Rayor of the French Cabaret music group Rouge.

The Louis Braille School will officially open for students in September 2006. In the meantime, we have been busy getting the school ready, meeting the community, receiving unique and wonderful gifts for the School, and seeking donations to our tuition assistance fund.

In April the Edmonds Lions Club met at the school. Pagliacci Pizza, our new neighbor to the west, donated delicious pizzas and salads. The School staff, two of whom are members of the Lions Club, made a special presentation honoring and thanking the Lions Club president for all his continuing work remodeling the building to make it a school.

The Christian Women’s Fellowship of Edmonds Christian Church held their May luncheon meeting at the school. They generously donated much-needed paper products by giving us a “paper shower.”  We now have plenty of paper napkins, plates, cups, towels, toilet paper, and computer copy paper. Two members of this group are volunteers at the school.

The Sno-Isle Library ADA committee met at the Louis Braille School in May to explore ways the School and the Library can collaborate. The committee members enjoyed a tour of the school and gave us a “thumbs up” on the ADA bathroom. They are very interested in and supportive of our unique academic and life skills program for the children.

Christina Ivanna, Outreach and Support Administrator, volunteered at an Edmonds Chamber fundraising event for the children’s 4th of July parade.  The fundraiser was at Robin Hood Lanes in Edmonds. As a result of a connection she made there, children attending our 2006 Braille Camp in July will be going on a field trip to bowl. We are considering having a similar fundraiser at the bowling alley later this year to benefit the School

Our first major fundraiser will be an auction in the spring of 2007 at the Edmonds Conference Center. We are seeking donations of items for the auction, and we are looking for an auctioneer who might volunteer his or her time.

We received a check for our tuition assistance fund from the Windermere Foundation, and the Safeway Foundation has promised a similar donation for our tuition fund. 

Our collection of musical instruments is growing. We recently received a wonderful large wooden drum from Ghana.

Garden Gear, an Edmonds garden shop, gave us four large outdoor pots. Wight’s Nursery in Lynnwood donated eight big bags of potting soil. A friend of the school donated bean plants that we planted in the pots. If we have plenty of sunshine, perhaps the children can harvest beans for lunch at Braille Camp.

Our search for an artist with a kiln for firing has lead us to a local potter who will be donating her time to fire the red clay projects the children make during Braille Camp.

An invitation is always open for you to visit the Louis Braille School. Perhaps your group would like to have a meeting at the School. Give us a call at (425) 776-4042. We hope to hear from you.


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Around the State

Capital City Council of the Blind 

Greater Everett Area Council of the Blind 

King County Chapter 

Lower Columbia Council of the Blind

Peninsula Council of the Blind 

South King Council of the Blind 

United Blind of Seattle 

United Blind of Spokane 

United Blind of Tri-Cities 

United Blind of Walla Walla 

United Blind of Whatcom County



Capital City Council of the Blind
by Berl Colley, President

At our February meeting, the chapter enjoyed a presentation from local media icon Dick Proust.  He is the station manager and an announcer on KGY Radio.  He has worked for KGY for 47 years.  He talked about the history of the station, which is one of the oldest in the United States.  It got its first license to send Morse Code in 1914.  As a result of Dick’s speaking to CCCB, we spent about 15 minutes being interviewed on his morning show.

In March, I was at a WSSB Board of Trustees meeting and Vice President Gloria Werstein chaired the meeting, which featured a presentation from Dorothy Sheppard and Sugar Murphy from the Lacey Sunrise Lions Club.  They talked about partnering with us at some of the community activities that they participate in during each year.  The next weekend, some of our members attended the Lions’ annual pancake feed.  Five bucks for a big breakfast?  You can’t beat that.

At our April meeting, we were pleased to have a presentation from Joan Rabinowitz from Jack Straw Productions.  Jesse Minkert was sick and unable to present.  Joan told us how Jack Straw and AVIA got started and about some of their projects.  She also encouraged the members of CCCB to get involved with one of the local theater groups.  Also, in April we had our spring pizza party.  About 18 people came to gorge themselves on Apollo’s pizzas and salads.

Three employees of Intercity Transit spoke to us at our May meeting.  Kittie Hutchen, head of Para Transit, her assistant, Jerry, and route trainer, Jane, told the group about some of the changes that we will be seeing as Intercity Transit installs its futuristic $5,000,000 communication system.  This system will call out stops, track buses through its GPS component, monitor buses for safety, and a number of other things that will benefit its riders.  On the same day as our chapter May meeting, we shared an informational booth with the Sunrise Lions at the Lacey Fun Fair.  Members brailled over 700 names and handed out about 100 CCCB flyers and WCB Aging and Blindness brochures.

We want to welcome five new members to our chapter:  Helen Iwai, Alex Woods, Dorothy Sheppard, Sugar Murphy and Bonnie Holmes.  We also want to welcome our new secretary, Denise Colley.


Greater Everett Area Council of the Blind
By Chris Coulter, Secretary

There’s a lot going on lately at Greater Everett Area Council of the Blind. We are exploring new opportunities for outreach, we’re looking at ways to have fun together and several members have things to celebrate.

Before I tell you about the above-mentioned activities let me start with a correction. Through my own typographical error my telephone number was reported incorrectly in the March Newsline. The correct number is (425) 775-1305. I wondered why no one was calling me.

We have had several speakers who have come to us from the community at large and have inspired us to be of service in whatever way we can. Robby and Sylvie Cashden from Kaisan visited us at our March meeting. They gave us a wonderful hands-on presentation on teaching blind people English and Braille. If blind immigrants have as much fun learning from them as we did, the experience must really be a joy every day for all concerned.

Our speaker in April was George Woods from the Lake Stevens Lions Club. He gave us a history of the Lions’ involvement with blindness-related issues. Through his presentation and through conversation with our own Allan Patchett and John Common, who are also Lions Club members, we all realized how closely connected our two organizations are.

We are looking at other ways of reaching out to the community including honoring businesses in our area that are making their products and services accessible to blind people.

We are also focusing on fun. We have begun getting together on the fourth Monday of the month at 3:00pm for informal social get-togethers at various restaurants. Not everyone can always attend but the social times are a great time to get to know each other better.

On August 20 we are planning to attend an Everett Aquasox baseball game. We’ve bought a special package that includes hot dogs and burgers an hour before the game and an announcement on the PA system so that people all over the stadium will know who we are.

We also are celebrating several personal milestones for people in our chapter. John Common was named Lion of the Year by the Lake Stevens Lions Club. He announced this at a recent meeting. Donna Patchett and Nancy Lind both celebrated their birthdays in May. Donna received a computer for her birthday and will soon be checking those tons and tons of E-mails along with the majority of us. At the end of May I will be graduating from the leadership training program for Co-creative Coaching and will be working as a CCC group leader as soon as my group forms. This will begin as a part-time job, but who knows where it might go from there?

This may be the longest chapter update I’ve ever written but since we are all growing so much as a chapter and as individuals we need more room to write about it so that’s what I’m doing. Please come and visit us at one of our meetings some time. We meet at IHOP in Everett on the second Monday of the month, with the exception of July and August. Come for breakfast some time before 10:00am and stay for fun, information and the announcement of our milestones.


King County Chapter
By Becky Bell, Member

Our January 14 meeting was possibly the shortest ever. We enjoyed lunch, discussed identity theft issues, and anticipated the upcoming January 28 WCB board meeting.

February 25, the Valentine month meeting, began with my January 28 board meeting report, followed by a discussion of a possible sound system to help people hear our meetings more clearly at the restaurant. Many of us took advantage of a special sale on homemade pies!

The March 25 meeting began with the usual enjoyment of a delicious lunch at Marie Callender's restaurant. I completed the board meeting report by discussing the variety of tours available to members attending the July ACB national convention in Jacksonville. Berl Colley has come through again with great tours to enjoy!

Congratulations to Janie Kimber on her new job at Alaska Airlines. Janie explained the process of applying for a job at Alaska.

Shirley Gray and I made a presentation about the Oral Hull Camp in Sandy, Oregon.  Shirley gave general contact information, and, as a long-time camp participant, I shared experiences and explained fantastic activities. Closing the meeting, Marilyn Donnelly held a trivia contest, including prizes.

April 22, a motion was passed to purchase two wireless microphones to connect to a system to assist in listening. Bring your own radio and headphones. President Tim Schneebeck reminded us of the panel discussion on accessible voting at the University of Washington, very significant for our voting rights.

May 27, Alan Bentson was our guest speaker. He gave an informative presentation about the situation at the Washington Talking Book and Braille Library.  My reading of the April 30 board report was postponed because of pressing business and lack of time.

It was voted to cancel the regular June chapter meeting so that members could have the option to attend a "super picnic" being held for members and guests of all three WCB chapters that meet in King County.


Lower Columbia Council of the Blind
by Karen Lewis-Keverline

I'm going to claim reporter's privilege and say how pumped Bill and I are at having attended the recent Leadership Conference. Paul Edwards, past-president of American Council of the Blind is surprising and one who has you sitting on the edge of your seat as you listen to him sharing his personal lifetime experiences and lessons learned. This is a man who has encouraged us to, "Be as good as you can be and help others to be the best they can be.” Julie Brannon spoke to us about empowerment, attitude and honestly believing that everyone has gifts and talents; that includes You. My Bill was so encouraged that he went out and found a part time job that pleases him very much (talk about self-esteem being lifted). Every speaker and interaction at the conference was helpful, educational, & fascinating with new information; we even made new friends. People were such a good help we were enabled to step out more boldly and in confidence.

Much excitement at our local level when we had two very special guests at our last meeting, Tom Almer and his mother Darlene. Tom is a local student to whom our chapter gave "Jaws", a computer program that speaks the typed words. Tom is very pleased with his new program. The Almers joined us for a bit of the meeting and also helped us as we celebrated our President Earla's birthday. Linda had baked the cake; thank you, Linda.

Member Ginger McCallum is looking forward to going to Seattle in June for a great nephew's wedding. She will also celebrate a belated Mother's Day with her daughter Carol.

Pam Dickey is back and at school through "WA On Line". She was recently promoted to the director of the United Methodist Learning Center in Kelso. Anna Hauser walks daily and works out three times a week at the YMCA on the Nautilus machine.

Linda Jacques still has the P.O. Box 7, Longview but has now moved, with "JOY" to Longview. Her new phone number is (360) 423-2992. Moving to town opens a new world of public services to her. She is so excited and pleased. Her husband owns Columbia Tarp and Liner Supply in the local area.

Fern Kelly is hard at work in her back yard garden. She and her daughter also rented a community garden plot. In addition, Fern joined a group from North Lake Baptist Church on a bus trip to the Iris Gardens, south of Woodburn, Oregon. She also enjoyed a trip to the Anacortes area, where she went to the beautiful Tulip Festival. Over Spring break she traveled to the LaConner Farm. The "Art Connection" will be local on July 1st. Fern will have hand-woven rugs on display.

Earla and Dale were able to get away for a few days of quiet and relaxing days at Seaquest Park near Castle Rock. They are currently enjoying this favorite time of year at home where the "Spring" flowers, blueberries, strawberries and raspberries are all beginning to come out. Dale has some asparagus coming up and Earla is planning to attend the Presidents retreat.

Our next meeting is June 10. We will meet at the Longview Public Library at 1:00pm and our guest speaker will be Scott Bowman from Vancouver. Mr. Bowman represents Freedom Scientific visual assistance equipment.

Our Picnic at Lake Sacajawea will be held 11:00am - 3:00pm on June 17th at Lyons Shelter on Nichols Blvd., Longview. All members and guests are welcome and encouraged to attend. We will not be meeting in July and August.

Enjoy your summer and remember to encourage someone daily!


Peninsula Council of the Blind

by Eric Hunter, President

A busy PCB spring culminated in our annual garage sale, attended by many of our members, and featuring great hamburgers and hot dogs prepared by Chefs Jack and Frances Pigott.  Sarah and Jeff Schweizer most generously allowed use of their home for the sale, which generated some much-needed income.

At Easter we had our traditional brunch, which was held at the home of Clair and David Bourgeois in Poulsbo.  Cindy Burgett brought delicious quiche, and there was bacon and eggs and pancakes and…..needless to say, many diets were ruined that day.  The weather was beautiful, too.

A huge congratulations to Michelle Denzer, a winner on two counts.  Not only is she the winner of the WCB first-timer scholarship to attend the ACB convention, but, to cap that, she has been approved by Guide Dogs for her own dog.  Way to go, Michelle.

Speaking of guide dogs, our May speaker was Andrea Crispin, who is just now raising her 23rd puppy.  Andy brought two other puppy raisers and gave a talk on puppy raising.  That the chapter was impressed was evident by the number of questions asked of our speakers, and the applause given at the end of the talk.

All of us at PCB are looking forward to our annual picnic, this year being held at Evergreen Park in Bremerton, an especially lovely park, running along the edge of the Port Washington Narrows and with great picnic facilities,

Talk to you all again soon.  Hope you have a wonderful summer.


South King Council of the Blind
by Maida Pojtinger, Member

SKCB has moved to a new meeting place at 24510 64th Avenue S, Kent. With the growth in our membership, we needed a bigger room. Thanks to Gloria Sanborn, who made all the arrangements for us to meet in the community room where she lives.

Gloria is a new member. Some of you will know her from her work at Washington Talking Book and Braille Library and Community Services for the Blind and Partially Sighted. Now in her retirement, she continues to do volunteer work and recommends it highly. Another new member is Gebre Shumhalal who immigrated to the United States from Eritrea, East Africa. He works at the Lighthouse, and wants you to keep in mind that he is a piano tuner.  Deng Jessica Kong is also a new member. She has worked at the Lighthouse for almost ten years, and last February, she received the Blind Worker of the Year Award. We also welcome the following people who have dual membership in other WCB chapters. Sharon and Bill Shauer, Mardel Kendall, Kathe and Mike O’Neil, and Gene Iwanski.

Community outreach is high on our list of priorities. In early May, Gaylen Floy had the opportunity to join the Kent Lions in the White Cane fund raiser. She answered questions on vision loss and the resources that are available. Later in the summer, I will speak to an Auburn group on the same topic with emphasis on good eye care.

At the moment, our focus is on contacting businesses and stores to seek out donations that will be used as door prizes at the 2006 convention.

Since summer is just around the corner, we all want to be outside, eat good food, and visit with friends. On June 24, we are having a picnic at Gas Works Park in Seattle. Everyone is invited.


United Blind of Seattle
By Doug Hildie, President

United Blind of Seattle (UBS) continues to meet on the third Saturday of each month at Virginia Mason Medical Center in Seattle.  It is centrally located, very near the main business area in downtown Seattle, on a frequent bus route connecting with virtually all bus routes in Seattle, and close to food service.  Now, if we can just get the microphone to work…!

Our membership has grown significantly this year.  We have an active and creative Community Outreach Activities Task Force, led by member Patt Copeland.  Patt and her crew have some very good ideas for “getting the word out” to the community about UBS and WCB.  These range from direct contact with individuals and groups who are visually impaired, and more subtly by organizing activities for UBS members and guests in various community areas.

In June, we will host Friends Day at our Saturday meeting.  Taking the concept of Friends Day “on the road”, so to speak, is being considered.  The task force believes that community outreach is accomplished both by direct contact, such as Friends Day, and through recreational activities which we encourage other visually impaired individuals to do with us.  In this way, we hope to maximize the awareness of visually impaired individuals in the community of a resource that can benefit them.

This year, we are engaging in review and updating of our Constitution, refining the structure of the chapter to be fully responsive to the goals of the membership as possible, serving the larger community of blind and visually impaired individuals, and endeavoring to make UBS membership both rewarding and fun.


United Blind of Spokane

By Dorothy Carroll, President

United Blind of Spokane is thrilled with our new sound system.  We have been using it for the last three meetings and what a difference it has made.  We finish our meetings on time and everyone is taking part in discussions and hearing all of the meeting.

Russ Richardson, one of our members who has a hearing problem, was so impressed that he could hear the meeting and what everyone was saying, he has offered to buy two more microphones and donate them to the chapter.

We have attended two plays at the Civic Theater:  Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and I'll be Home Before Midnight.  We have been invited to attend their dress rehearsal at no charge to our Chapter.

We have had two speakers at our meetings: a representative from Para Transit and another from the Department of Services for the Blind on the services offered to re-enter the work force.

Craig and Debby Phillips attended the Leadership seminar, representing our Chapter.

We are getting excited about our Chapter hosting the Convention coming to Spokane in 2007.


United Blind of Tri-Cities

Janice Squires, Treasurer

Busy as bees, the United Blind of the Tri-Cities is surging ahead. We have grown in membership and are adding new activities. We would all like to welcome our three newest members, Lucille Berry, Connie Long and Robert Phillips. We now have a grand total of 38 members and we want to wish a very warm welcome to each and every person.

Can you believe the cultural experiences we are offering to our members in the month of May! It all began with the final narrated play of the season, “Seven Keys to Baldpate”. Diana Softich along with Frank Cuta have spent many years giving of their time to organize this most successful program and we want to thank them immensely for their hours of great service to our group. Frank organized an art outing to two local art exhibits, the Spirit Brothers chain saw sculptures and the Tri-Art Gallery, an outdoor sculpture park. The event was just delightful and the weather was wonderful for our picnic on the river after the tour. Our third event is our first ever-book group, which was organized by Rosemary Adamski from the Talking Book and Braille Library and myself.  We will meet at the local Kennewick Library on the third Wednesday of each month; our first book for discussion was The Kite Runner.

Margie Kickert is still organizing our monthly luncheons, going to such restaurants as the Red Lion, Shilo Inn and Applebee’s. Irene Nielsen reported that we need more bowlers for our bowling group and one of our newest members, Dorothy Lacey, decided to come and join in the fun.

Our program in April was on Medicare Part D and in May we discussed new radio reading service receiver technology.

It is always a good thing to be a contributing part of one’s own community. Our President, Bill Hoage, is the newly elected President of the Kennewick Lions Club and also serves on the Citizens Advisory Committee of Ben Franklin Transit. Frank Cuta is now serving as engineer for the Reading Radio service broadcast of the local newspaper once a week. I have been asked to serve on the City of Kennewick’s Appeals Commission as an at-large member, representing the disabled community. The appointment is on an as needed basis when the Appeals Committee requests my assistance in addressing/hearing ADA issues under appeals with the City. It is great when our members step up to the plate and serve their communities in these ways.

Our second annual candy sale is under way and this is an excellent method to raise a little money for the organization. This is also an exceptional way to be a visible presence in the community and educate and bring awareness to the public on blindness and vision impairments.

One more big thank you goes to our new calling person, Marlene Vandecar. This is a most important part of keeping an organization together and aware of all of the exciting happenings that go on during the month. Thank you, Marlene, for stepping in and taking over this most important job.

Have a great summer!


United Blind of Walla Walla
by Vivian Conger

Recently, Ernie Jones and Elwood Mabley went to a health fair at Wheatland Village. They displayed a CCTV, a talking scale, and several other items that were well received by the public. They also had brochures from various entities on services for the blind and coping with blindness.

At UBWW’s May meeting, Larry Weiss and Sheila Turner visited us and spoke on changes and services that the Edith Bishol Center provides.  In June, UBWW will be having a local podiatrist speak to us on foot care. This should be very beneficial to our folks with diabetes, for those who walk for greater distances, and for everyone else in general.

We have moved our July meeting from the first Tuesday to the third Tuesday because of Independence Day and the convenience of our speakers. A crime prevention specialist, Darryl Pearson, will be clueing us in on identity theft and Vickie Ruley will be opening our eyes to scams that we need to watch for.


United Blind of Whatcom County

by Betty Sikkema, President

Hello, everyone!  I hope you are enjoying this warm weather as much as I am.

We have sad news to report.  On February 26, 2006, we lost long-time member Evelynn Larson Green, one of the first of few women who graduated from Western Washington University to become a school teacher.  She was 99 years old.  She had a wealth of knowledge of the history of Bellingham.  Our chapter has held many potluck picnics in the past at her summer home in Birch Bay.  Taking a walk along the beach after a good meal was such a joy!

In April, our group participated in the annual Macy’s “Shop for a Cause” fundraiser.  It was a big success, with volunteers manning the table at the mall.  We raised $705.00.  Macy’s has informed our chapter that we placed second for selling the most coupons.  Amazing for such a small group!

Our summer picnic has been scheduled for July 8th at JoEllen Barton’s home.  We have decided to have a white elephant swap.  Everyone will have fun swapping gifts.

On May 20th, I attended the Adaptive Cycle Expo held in front of the Bellingham City Hall (see article in this issue).

We have no business meetings scheduled for July and August, in order to enjoy a summer break.

Our best wishes for a safe trip for those traveling to Jacksonville, Florida for the ACB Convention.

I hope you all have a good summer, everyone!

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Summer Camp Opportunities for Vision Impaired

·       Camp Harobed in Belfair, WA

Available July 16-31

Activities:  trout fishing, camp sing-along, paddle-boating on the lake, roasting hot dogs & marshmallows, other group activities to enjoy in the beautiful outdoors.

Variety of registration/attendance options.

Contact Jack Pigott, Camp Director, at (360) 372-2735

·       Oral Hull Camp in Sandy, OR

August 5-12

Activities:  Sports, bingo, arts & crafts, touch and see garden, swimming.

For more information, call the Oral Hull Foundation,
(503) 668-6195

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Hats Off to You
 by Peggy Shoel

We are pleased to extend our congratulations to the following WCB members:

·                    Sati Wullabs, member, Yakima Valley Council of the Blind, and his wife Zeanna, on becoming proud parents of a second child.  Little Ayden was born one month prematurely at a birthweight of 8 lbs 5.2 oz with dark brown eyes and hair.  Papa reports Ayden is a happy and healthy baby and is adored by his three-year-old sister Nadia, who helps take care of him.

·                    Carl and Cathy Jarvis, secretary and member, respectively, of Jefferson County Council of the Blind, on becoming first-time grandparents.  Grace Elizabeth Petersen arrived at a birthweight of 7 lbs 13 oz with dark brown eyes, lots of dark brown hair, a very healthy pair of lungs according to grandparents, and is a delight to older brother Josh.

·                    Bob and Janice Squires on the birth of their second grandchild, a little 7 lb, 6 oz baby girl born on March 21.  Her name is Reagan Louise, and she was named after Janice, whose middle name is also Louise.

·                    Shirley Gray, member, King County Chapter, on becoming a great-grandmother for the 13th time.  John Russal Gray V arrived at a birthweight of 8 lb 1 oz with blond hair and blue eyes.  Note:  Shirley is the mother of Chris Gray, National President of the American Council of the Blind and baby John is Chris’s grand-nephew.

·                    Rose Schenk, Board Member, United Blind of the Tri-Cities, and husband, Edward, on becoming second time grandparents.  Logan Sol weighed in at 8 lbs, 15 oz, with brown hair and dark eyes, and is a happy and much-loved baby.

·                    Michelle Denzer, Secretary, Peninsula Council of the Blind, on being selected as winner of the WCB 2006 First-Timer Scholarship for the American Council of the Blind National Convention.  Michelle is excited about her trip to Jacksonville, Florida, and will be writing an article for the September (Fall) issue on her convention activities and highlights.

·                    Arnie Schrock, member, United Blind of Whatcom County, currently residing in Churchill, Tennessee, on the event of his 75th birthday.  Arnie likes to keep up-to-date on UBWC and WCB news, and maintains this connection.

·                    Stuart Russell, member, Peninsula Council of the Blind, who after 30 years with the Federal Internal Revenue Service, has retired as a customer service agent in the accounts department.  Stuart has many irons in the fire, keeping him busy in his retirement, such as joining a YMCA physical fitness program, interacting with the greater blind community in Bremerton, enrolling in a beginner’s Spanish class at Olympic Community College, and joining the local Democratic Party.

·                    Bruce Goebel, member, Yakima Valley Council of the Blind, who attended Guide Dogs for the Blind in Boring, Oregon, where he received his first dog guide.  Broderick is a 70 lb two-year old male black lab cross, and Bruce reports that he is a well-mannered, very well-trained dog with a happy disposition who has expanded his master’s activities and made traveling safer and more secure for him.

·                    Fernando Ramos, member, Yakima Valley Council of the Blind, on receiving his first dog guide, also from Guide Dogs for the Blind in Boring, Oregon.  Palace is a 73 lb two-year-old female black lab, and Fernando reports she is playful, loves attention, and is very responsive to his commands.

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Bits & Pieces
by Peggy Shoel

·       Air travel.  Individuals with disabilities experiencing problems while traveling by air may call a toll-free hotline, (800) 778-4838 for information and assistance.  The number is staffed seven days a week from 7am to 11pm Eastern Standard Time.  This service provides general information about the rights of air travelers with disabilities and helps resolve disability-related issues that need immediate action.  Note:  Carriers request that when you make a reservation you self-identify any accommodation and/or provision you will require as a passenger.

·       The Washington State School for the Blind announces that the newsletter, The Lion’s Roar, is now available online at   They will continue to mail the newsletter in braille or print.  Contact Janet Merz by phone at (360) 696-6321, Ext. 120 or

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Recipe from the BlindCook List

Easy to prepare and great
for summer barbecues, picnics and potlucks.

Dill Potato Salad

2 pounds new potatoes unpeeled and quartered

1 pound frozen petite sweet peas, thawed and drained

½ cup mayonnaise

½ cup plain yogurt

1 tbsp good mustard

1 tsp garlic powder

¼ tsp pepper

Salt to taste

1 small onion chopped

2 tbsp fresh dill, chopped

Chopped celery, if desired


Cook potatoes.  Drain well.  Add peas.  Mix remaining ingredients together and add.  Mix well and chill.

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An overweight 75-year-old woman wanted to get into better shape and asked her doctor if it would be okay to participate in an exercise class.  He said it would be a great idea, so she enrolled in an aerobics class in her neighborhood senior services center.

She bent, she stretched, she reached, she twisted, she jumped up and down.  She broke into a sweat for 45 minutes, and finally got her leotard on.  But it was too late.  Class was over.


2006 Calendar of Deadlines and Events

Note:  WCB Board meetings, the Leadership Training Workshop, and the 2006 State Convention will all be held at the Doubletree Hotel Seattle Airport.

·       June 17 – DSB Rehab Council meeting, Spokane

·       July 8-15 – ACB National Convention, Jacksonville, FL

·       July 29 – WTBBL Patron Advisory Council Meeting

·       Aug 11-12 – WCB Retreat/Summer Board Meeting

·       Aug 31 – Deadline for First-Timer applications for WCB Convention

·       Aug 31 – Deadline for Award Committee submissions

·       Sept 11 – Call-in day for one of the free rooms for the WCB Convention

·       September – Production & distribution of Fall Newsline

·       Oct 10 – Deadline for State Convention Registration and for room reservations

·       Oct 21 – WTBBL Patron Advisory Council Meeting

·       Nov 9-11 – WCB 2006 State Convention

·       December – Production & distribution of Winter Newsline



Article Deadline:  To be considered for inclusion in the next issue, article submissions and other information for publication must be received by August 19, 2006.  Articles may be edited for clarity and space considerations.

Publication Policy:  To ensure accuracy, we require typed, double-spaced submissions or preferably e-mailed articles to with a  Articles should be no longer than two pages (approximately 750 words).



·       To Brady Layman and Sherrill Lee of the Tri-Cities, for reading this issue onto tape

·       To Tim Schneebeck for providing the NEWSLINE via
e-mail and disk

·       To Bill Hoage for duplicating and mailing the cassette version of the NEWSLINE

·       To Viola Cruz for transforming the print issue into a Web version on the website

·       To the individuals who contributed articles and materials to this issue

·       To the NEWSLINE Editorial Committee for their many hours of work

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