June 2008 Issue

Opportunity, Equality, Independence
Founded 1935


Denise Colley, President
(360) 438-0072
Lacey, WA
Gaylen Floy, Editor
(253) 217-9586
Federal Way, WA

Table of Contents

From the President’s Desk

Editor’s Comment

How to Give to WCB

Leadership Seminar Report

Spring Board Report

Convention in Vancouver

Legislative Victories and Defeats

Award a Deserving Person

Working with the Media

WCB History 1991

Louis Braille School

WTBBL Transition Report

Washington State School for the Blind

Around the State

Bits and Pieces

Hat’s Off to You!



From the President’s Desk

By Denise Colley


Spring has come and summer will soon be arriving. While it hasn’t felt like spring most of the time, we can all still hear, touch and smell the signs of freshness and new growth. There is nothing better than the feel of warm sun on our faces, the sound of a bird’s song or the smell of freshly mowed grass or spring flowers. With spring comes growth and new life.


As we recognize these signs of spring, so do we also see growth and new beginnings in the Washington Council of the Blind (WCB). In March we turned in membership information for 429 members, to the ACB national office, and at the time of this writing, we have already increased our membership to 460 – an all-time high.


Over fifty members are serving on WCB committees, and three committees have brand new chairs. About thirty WCB members will be attending this year’s national convention in Louisville to learn more about and become more involved in American Council of the Blind business.


One hundred and thirty-seven WCB members have graduated from our leadership training seminars over the past eight years. The theme of this year’s leadership seminar was “Stepping Up to Leadership,” and this is continuously being demonstrated as members take on new responsibilities in their local chapters and as members of WCB committees. 


How gratified I am to watch local chapters grow and flourish, just as spring flowers grow and flourish. As they do every year, our leadership participants came away empowered with a renewed sense of themselves and the part they can play in the growing of WCB.


One area where WCB is experiencing some growing pains is in the area of our finances. WCB has seen decreasing income from our two major fund-raisers; the Vehicle Donation Program and our yearly Santa Show. The finance committee and the WCB Board are going to be looking at ways to reduce some of our expenditures in the 2009 budget to meet these decreases. We will also be exploring new fund-raising opportunities and you will be hearing more about these in future issues of Newsline


It is important to embrace the knowledge that it is only as we each step up to do our part to create a thriving growing organization that we will create something truly special. Every individual with his/her particular strengths and abilities helps to make this organization blossom and grow even more vibrant.


So, just how can you “step up to leadership?” Every time you make a phone call to let a chapter member who wasn’t at a meeting know they were missed, talk to a stranger in your community about your chapter or services for blind people, take the lead on a project, make a phone call or write a letter concerning an important legislative issue or volunteer to serve on a local or state committee, you are taking that step. I know it isn’t always comfortable to do this, and it often requires us to take a risk and move outside of our comfort zone. However, I am challenging every member to do just that, whether you’ve been a member for ten years or one month.


Every one of us has something to contribute that is instrumental to our nourishment and growth. The work you do may sometimes seem as if it is going unnoticed, but it is all of the seeming little things that collectively continue to make a positive difference in keeping us healthy and vibrant. And we certainly don’t expect you to do it all alone. It is the responsibility of both your chapter and WCB leadership to nurture and empower you, and we are always here for just that purpose. So let’s all step up and together make a difference.


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Editor’s Comments

By Gaylen Floy


How do we win in the court of public opinion?


After church, a friend approached me about the currency case. She did not see the value in accessible currency and asked the usual questions, like “Can’t you just fold your money or use a debit card?” The question that really bothered her was, “Would someone actually cheat a person that is blind?” Like many, she hasn’t ridden the bus lately or been at the transit center after dark.


So, what are your experiences and how do you share them effectively? This is the perfect opportunity for chapters to work on a news release. The currency issue is on the public’s radar. Find out who in your chapter has been ripped off? Get their stories in writing. Contact your community paper, radio and TV station.


Whether in court or in the media, whoever tells the most convincing story wins.


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How to Give to WCB


The Washington Council of the Blind is a non-profit organization with 501(c)3 status. Financial contributions, whether in the form of a one-time donation, bequest or ongoing gift, are tax-deductible and much appreciated.

Please send your support to WCB at the address below.

P.O. Box 1085

Tracyton, WA 98393-1085


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Leadership: Commitment to Progress

By Catherine Golding, member, UBTC


In a room full of leaders, what can a leader-in-training learn? The obvious answer is leadership, but it’s more than that.

Twelve participants from across Washington met the weekend of April 24-26 in Everett. As members of WCB who were judged to have leadership qualities, we listened to WCB leaders talk about their roles and what our roles could be. How many standing committees are there in WCB? How does one write a resolution? What skills does a leader need to develop?


The inspiration of the leaders came from their commitment to progress. Time moves forward, issues shift and rebalance themselves, leaders change, but clearly, WCB is about impacting the lives of blind and visually impaired of Washington in a positive way. It is also about sharing that responsibility with similarly committed people across the nation.


We learned that as individuals we can advocate, motivate, and educate ourselves through our participation in our chapters. We can effect change in laws and attitudes of the public by our active participation in state and national issues. Progress happens because enough people want change and agree to work together to achieve it. There is a powerful energy in having so many committed leaders. The Leadership Conference embodied that philosophy superbly.


By the conclusion of the Board meeting on Sunday, I believe we all felt more a part of the process than we did before we came. Returning home to our respective chapters, I believe we all said to ourselves, “I, too, can effect change.” Thanks for the opportunity.


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Spring Board Meeting Report

By Nhi Duong, member, SKB


Treasurer’s report:

The Christmas Show brought in $950 and car donation sales brought in $4,693.14 last quarter. WCB experienced a loss this quarter.


President Denise Colley added two more people to the Newsline committee, Cynthia Henton and Randy Tedrow.


The WTBBL received six applications for the Director’s position. Denise Colley, Sue Ammeter and Alan Bentson were part of the interview process. Danielle King was selected as the new Director.


Berl Colley gave the VDPC report. For the month of February, we had 89 offers and 110 sales totaling $2,560.68. For the month of January, we had 111 offers and 109 sales totaling $1,564.45.


The theme for the Leadership seminar this year was “Stepping Up to Leadership” and there were 12 participants. A recording of the Public Service Announcements (PSA’s) produced by the participants was played; these were talking to an assigned target audience about WCB.


We currently have 452 members.


Legislative update: The funding that the Secretary of State requested for WTBBL, including the 21.5 FTE’s was included in the final budget signed by the Governor.


There were two bills WCB supported this session. The first dealt with Disability History Month (to promote understanding and awareness about people with disabilities). This October will be


Disability History Month and WCB is hoping to have information about blindness and our rich history included in the educational materials surrounding this event, possibly producing flyers of our own.


The bill regarding assessment of the preparation program for teachers of blind and visually impaired students was the other Bill we supported. That bill didn’t pass, but will be re-introduced next session.


Scholarship report: The application is now online at . Please share this information with anyone who could benefit from receiving a scholarship.


Advocacy report: Sue shared about the Eric Nelson case. Eric was hired for a position as a fitness trainer. Soon after, he was let go solely because of his blindness. We had the privilege of hearing from both Eric and his wife who not only shared their story, but thanked us and gave WCB a $500 donation.


The advocacy committee helped in 6 other areas. If you are facing discrimination, call the Advocacy committee, (360) 437-7916.


Convention Committee Report

The convention is October 23-25 at the Hilton Hotel in Vancouver.


First Timer Award: Aug 31 is the deadline to apply.

Sept. 8 is the deadline to apply for a free room. Oct.1 is the deadline for convention and exhibit registrations, hotel and bus reservations and travel stipend requests.


The 47th Annual ACB Convention is July 5th-12th in Louisville, Kentucky. It will be streamed via the ACB Radio website.


Membership Committee: Each chapter should have a membership representative to network with the committee. The committee is planning conference calls and sharing documents and ideas via a special listserv to support membership in local chapters. The Pierce Chapter has secured a booth for September 14 and 15 at the Puyallup Fair; this will be a WCB activity and we will be looking for members to help man the booth with the WCB banner and information, and a possible Braille demonstration.


Families with Blind Children: The committee is working with DSB on the Youth conference. The theme is recreation. The committee is open to suggestions.


Crisis committee: The committee received 15 applications and approved 12 to help with electric bill and food expenses. There was discussion on the definition of legal blindness.


Environmental Access Committee: Sound Transit is installing talking signs and is hoping to get the information out. The committee is also interested in Driver Training and would like to make changes in the driver’s handbook.


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We’re Heading South for Convention!

By Cindy Van Winkle, Chair, Convention Committee


Yep, we’re heading south. Not south of the border, but to the beautiful city of Vancouver, Washington. The 3-year-old Hilton Vancouver and Conference Center will be the site for this year’s WCB convention.


There will probably be no sombreros, maracas or margaritas, but it will be a fiesta of sorts, done WCB style. It will be a weekend of information, entertainment, socializing and fun. We’ll have a convention visit from ACB First Vice President Kim Charlson, several tours of the School for the Blind throughout Friday, a variety of breakout sessions Friday afternoon, the popular talent show Friday night and many other presentations on Friday and Saturday mornings.


The preconvention board meeting Thursday night and the annual business meeting Saturday afternoon are where elections and other business of the organization take place. The weekend culminates at our annual banquet where over $20,000 in scholarships will be awarded to deserving blind students and external WCB awards will be presented.


In conjunction with our convention, the sixth annual Washington State Conference for Blind Youth will be taking place. So mark your calendar for October 23-25, 2008 and begin saving up for a very memorable time with your WCB family and friends.


Now here are the details! The Hilton is located at 301 W. 6th Street in Vancouver. Our conventioneers are offered the reduced room rate of $89 per night (plus applicable taxes and fees). This special rate is good for up to 4 persons in a room at no extra charge. Reservations must be made by October 1, 2008 to ensure our discounted rate and may be made by calling Hilton Reservations at 1-800-hiltons (1-800-445-8667).


Please remember to mention the Washington Council of the Blind conference to assure getting our convention rate, and be sure to make reservations early if requesting a wheelchair accessible room as these are in limited quantity.


There will be 3 convention registration options: $90 for registration with meal package (including 5 meals); $45 for registration plus the banquet only; $10 for registration only. A late registration of $140 will be imposed for registrations received after our deadline of October 1, 2008.


WCB is providing a chartered bus to convention leaving from downtown Seattle with a stop in Tacoma for anyone registered for the convention regardless of membership. A travel stipend in the amount of $75 for those living east of the mountains and $40 for those living west of the mountains is available to WCB members who meet a 6 month membership requirement (joining on or before April 23, 2008) and who make their request by the deadline date of October 1, 2008. Those who live in King, Pierce and Clark Counties, or who are riding the chartered bus, are not eligible for this stipend. Bus reservations and stipend requests can be made by contacting Shirley at (206) 362-3118.


Members who are attending their first WCB convention and who meet the 6 month membership requirement may apply for a first-timer scholarship. This covers hotel (based on double occupancy), registration (including the 5 meal package) and travel expenses (a travel stipend or riding the chartered bus). Those members wishing to apply for a First-Timer scholarship should write a letter telling how this scholarship would benefit them and why they’d like to go to the convention. Send letters to the First-Timer Committee, by the deadline date of August 31, 2008.


Another option is the availability of 2 free rooms for the 3 nights of convention, one for 2 men and one for 2 women. Again, the 6 month WCB membership requirement applies. those interested must phone in between the hours of 9:00 AM and 4:00 PM on Monday, September 8, 2008, by calling 1-800-255-1147 and pressing 0 to speak directly with Marilyn. Voice mail messages will not be accepted. First priority will be given to those who have not previously used the free room, and a lottery will be used for any remaining space.


Our exhibits room will be open on Friday, October 24, from 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM. Those wishing to secure their spot in this popular event should contact Exhibits Coordinator, Glenn McCully, by email at or by phone at (206) 782-2179. This year Exhibitors will be charged a $25 fee per table, with a maximum of 2 tables.


Convention information will be available on our website. So check back often to the “convention” link at and we’ll see you all in Vancouver!


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The 2008 Legislative Session – Victories and Defeats

By Denise Colley, WCB Legislative Committee Chair


As is usually the case, this year was another busy year for the Washington State legislature and for your WCB legislative committee. After last year’s defeat in getting increased funding for the Washington Talking Book and Braille Library (WTBBL), we knew that we were going to have to begin strategizing and making legislative contacts much earlier this year.


Our work began last December with representatives from WCB, the NFBW and the library’s Patron Advisory Committee securing a meeting with representatives from the Governor’s office. The purpose of this meeting was to request that the supplemental budget request for WTBBL that was part of the budget for the Office of the Secretary of State be included in the Governor’s budget. Shortly after that meeting the Governor’s budget was released and we were all elated to learn that the full budget request of $341,433 and maintaining 21.3 staff positions was included in that budget.


While we had managed to successfully make it over our first big hurdle we knew that our work was far from done. We still had to work to ensure that it was also included in the budgets submitted by the House and Senate. And when we learned that the budget shortfall in our state’s current economy was projected to be $425 million, we knew this could have serious consequences for the budget request for WTBBL. (Once again WCB members and friends stepped up to the plate, when asked, and sent letters and made phone calls to the members of the House Appropriations and Senate Ways and Means Committees. The House budget was the first to be released, and we held our collective breath waiting to see what would happen. Thanks to the hard work of many people we made it over our second major hurdle fully in tact. At that point we knew we could breathe easier because there was not much doubt that the Senate would follow suit. We made it over our third and final hurdle and the Washington Talking Book and Braille Library will be able to successfully transition to the state on July 1 with the needed transition funding and staff positions.


Another piece of legislation we were monitoring and saw successfully pass was Senate Bill 6313, recognizing disability history in the public education system. This bill requires that each October public schools, colleges and universities must conduct and promote educational activities that provide instruction, awareness, and understanding of disability history and people with disabilities. This can be done through school assemblies or guest speakers.


A second bill that WCB was monitoring, but did not pass this year, was House Bill 2813. This bill required an assessment of teacher preparation programs for teachers of visually impaired and blind public school students, birth to age twenty-one. Currently there is no specialty endorsement certification in Washington State for persons who teach blind/visually impaired students. There is no in-state teacher preparation program specifically for teachers of visually-impaired and blind students. The closest program is at Portland State University.


The legislation would have required the Higher Education Coordinating Board to conduct an assessment of the need for undergraduate and post-graduate degree programs in Washington that specialize in teacher preparation programs for teachers of the visually impaired and orientation and mobility instructors. It would have also required that the Professional Educator Standards Board look at approving specialty endorsements from out-of-state colleges and universities.


WCB sent letters of support to both the House and Senate Education Committees, and the bill made it all the way to the Rules Committee, where it stayed. Some form of this legislation will be introduced again in 2009, and WCB will be there to educate members on the issues and provide support where needed.


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Deserving People Will Receive Awards at the 2008 WCB Convention in Vancouver

By Julie Brannon, Committee Chair


If you're at all like me, through the year you often think of people, both inside and outside WCB, who give of their time, talent, resources and passion to blind and visually impaired persons in a variety of ways. It was so exciting to first be aware of the awards committee which was developed as an ad hoc committee at the suggestion of President Cindy Van Winkle at the March 2004 board meeting. Marlaina Lieberg and her committee members, along with input from other WCB members, developed an all-inclusive array of both internal and external awards, and those attending WCB convention banquets have witnessed the joy and appreciation from those much-deserving recipients.


It's time to begin taking action, and contacting the awards committee with your ideas about deserving persons. This year as in years past, we will continue to give:


1. Certificates of appreciation to those who have completed their board/officer tenure within the year

2. A certificate to chapters honoring ongoing growth with 10 percent or more membership increase in the past year

3. Honorable mention to chapters who have submitted a chapter update quarterly for the past year in the WCB Newsline


Internal awards will consist of:


1. Certificate for outstanding service to WCB

2. Chapter of the year award (to a chapter that has demonstrated actions of outstanding community outreach)

3. Outstanding advocacy award

4. Newsline editor's award (to a writer who has written an outstanding article for Newsline within the last year on some aspect of blindness)


External awards will consist of:


1. Employer of the year award (going to an employer who has employed blind/visually impaired persons along with allowing for access and upward mobility, who isn't in the rehab/blindness field)

2. Business of the year award (given to a business that has provided outstanding customer service to blind/visually impaired persons)

3. One-world award (given to a person or entity who has assisted in minimizing the impact of blindness in some way)


If you would like further explanation regarding the criteria for each award, feel free to write me at with your questions, or go online to the WCB website, and look at the Newsline article from June, 2005, written by Marlaina Lieberg outlining detailed explanations of each award. There will be more information posted on the WCB website, including a letter you can send out to your families, friends and organizations for their suggestions for possible recipients for the external awards.


Your submission for award considerations must not exceed 350 words, and contact information for both the recipient and yourself must be included. Please either e-mail or send via phone email your nominations to my email address: The deadline for the receipt of your award nominations is August, 31, 2008!


The awards committee, Bill Hoage, Michelle Pryor and I, look forward to this being the year with the greatest number of award nominations. This is your chance to translate your thoughts of appreciation and gratitude into action!


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Working with the Media

By Gaylen Floy, Editor


It is estimated that at least 70 percent of news stories are generated by press releases (probably more) In any given news organization; they come by mail, fax and email around the clock. Wouldn’t it be great to see each committee and chapter with an annual plan for executing press releases?


The ACB Public Relations Committee is preparing a press release handbook that will offer chapters all sorts of practical ideas and information. The PR Committee will present the handbook in Louisville this summer. The reason people are aware of the currency case and negotiation successes is because people, like Dr. Ron Milliman, have been getting those releases out on a regular basis and making calls. The next project will be a handbook sharing how to produce a Public Service Announcement (PSA).


One factor that might keep us from utilizing a release is that we feel intimidated. A couple years ago, member Jackie Cabrera called me, very nervous about contacting the local paper. But she did and the result was not only a brief about a South Kitsap event, but an article about Jackie’s cooking skills.


Speaking of being intimidated, last February I received a call from a friend in England asking me to pitch story ideas for Peter White, the BBC’s disability affairs correspondent. Peter is the esteemed presenter for the Radio 4 program “In Touch” along with “You and Yours.” What was bringing Peter to the Pacific Coast? In Vancouver, B.C., a story related to the 2012 London Olympics and in California, legislation restricting teen drivers. What story might he find in Seattle?


But what do I know about British listeners? My best guess was that employment, transportation and health might be of interest to people who are blind anywhere. A list of people that would be good interviewees was developed. The most timely idea was Kirk Adams, who had just been promoted to CEO at the Lighthouse. I sent all these ideas with background information, waiting to hear from Peter. He called on a Friday, wanting a tour of the Lighthouse on Monday. Protected jobs are being eliminated in the UK because of cost. Seattle was an example where sheltered work was profitable and contracting with the private sector.


Lighthouse management works with the media periodically and they were prepared with interviewees and a Braille annual report. I was so nervous about meeting a BBC reporter. Peter and his producer arrived shortly before 1 p.m. Monday. Introductions were made and we were off to a quiet meeting room. Peter laid out what he needed before each interview began. His producer deftly handled the digital recorder and mics. Peter’s first interview was with Don Helsel, director of recruiting and accessibility. Peter’s memory and ability to direct the conversation to get the answers needed were impressive. He was so personable I almost forgot this was being recorded for BBC radio.


Peter and his producer left the next morning for California. I was left thinking what a great experience to witness a professional at work, but also marveled at the resources in Washington State. Did you know that Marlaina Lieberg is the one who first suggested an accessible interface for the machine shop at the Seattle Lighthouse and helped make it a reality? What other stories lurk within our membership?


Working on a news release and talking with a reporter might be a step out of your comfort zone. But it’s a great step in connecting with the community at large. Check with your local paper, radio and TV stations to see how they would like to be contacted. There may be a specific editor or reporter who handles certain topics. Maybe it would be helpful to post news release information to the WCB website, as well.


For those of you interested in listening to Peter White’s “In Touch” online, go to and search for “In Touch.” To learn more about Peter White, go to Yes, he’s even listed in Wikipedia.


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WCB History 1991

By Berl Colley, History Committee Chair

After the merged Washington Council of the Blind’s (WCB) very successful first convention in Issaquah, the organization moved in to 1991 with a strong feeling for a bright future. At the winter board meeting at the Roosevelt hotel in Seattle, The final paperwork was signed to register the New WCB with the state. The WCB attorney, Ken Hopkins, was appointed as the agent for the organization with the Secretary of State’s office.


The board heard a report from Rhonda Nelson who attended the ACB winter board meeting in Tampa, Florida. She informed the board about the facilities that members attending the 1991 national convention, June 28 through July 6, would find. The WCB delegate to the national convention was President Sue Ammeter and the Alternate Delegate was board member Marilyn Donnelly. The stipend for those attending the ACB convention was $150.


A new program was started to provide members with an opportunity to apply for a loan to attend the national convention. Members could apply for a loan of up to $600 to attend the Tampa convention.


A committee, chaired by Jim Eccles, was appointed to look at a viable process for making crisis grants to blind people in our state. The board allocated $5,000 to fund this new program. Each chapter would have a representative on the Crisis committee and Shirley Taylor was appointed chair by Sue. After getting established, the program gave out 4 grants by the November convention.


Michelle Eccles was thanked by the board for all of her efforts to provide background material to the committee.


A new Newsline editor, Jim Eccles was appointed at the June board meeting in Richland. Jim told the board that he would produce at least 3 issues a year.


Pedestrian safety was a concern of the organization in 1991. Terry Atwater, president of the newest WCB chapter, Capital City Council of the Blind, was hit by a car while crossing a street near his work. It was the same place where Capital City member, Berl Colley had been hit several years earlier. Atwater had some injury to his legs. The board instructed attorney Hopkins and President Ammeter to write a very strong letter to the city of Lacey, expressing WCB’s concerns about the safety of its blind citizens. Later in the year, the board asked President Ammeter to look into another incident of a blind pedestrian who was hit in Tacoma.


A flier was developed for raising money. Cynthia Towers led the fundraising flier effort and produced a flier that was given to the Vantage group to mail out to those people who donated money to the organization. The contract with Vantage was renewed for the 1992 year. The fundraiser started working with the United Blind of Washington in 1985. The Vantage show was held on November 1, 1990 and June 7, 1991. WCB received about $25,000 from each show.



Sue reported to the board that Peggy Shoel had been appointed to the Department of Services for the Blind advisory board. Shirley Taylor and Peggy were appointed to the Independent Living advisory board. Sue had been designated to attend the Governor’s Library and Information conference. The board granted Sue’s request for expenses coverage to attend the library meetings.


Dan Tonge was selected to represent WCB at the California convention, May 23-26, in San Francisco. The board voted to cover the expenses of Daniel Delcambre, a deaf-blind Washingtonian, who received an ACB scholarship at the Tampa convention.


The WCB received bad news from the IRS, in 1991, when it was find for turning in its 1989 990T form too late. WCB gave $1,000 to the Talking Book Library to refresh the WCB Brailing fund. Sue appointed the organization’s first nominating committee. Appointed were Frank Cuta, Rhonda Nelson and Denise Colley.


WCB gave out 9 scholarships in 1991. One scholarship was for $2,000, five scholarships were for $1,500 and three scholarships were for $500. A total of $11,000 was given in scholarships.


The 1991 state convention was held on November 1-3, at the Best Western Executive Inn, in Fife. The National representative was the editor of the Braille Forum, Nolan Crab. Winifred Downing represented California. Carl Jarvis was the banquet MC and John Dashney was the banquet speaker.


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Have you Been to an SRC Meeting Lately?

By Mark Adreon, Communications DSB


Okay then, what is an SRC anyway?


The State Rehabilitation Council for the Department of Services for the Blind (DSB) is a Council appointed by the Governor to represent designated constituency groups (those we serve). All members are Washington residents and the primary purpose of the Council is to review and make recommendations to the Department on our policies, operations and priorities. 


The SRC meets 4 times a year and tries to meet at different locations throughout the state. This gives our consumers and others that are interested in DSB and blind services a chance to stay current on issues that impact the Department as well as issues that may have impact in the future. 


As part of the SRC meeting, there is a public comment period where members from the public have the opportunity to give comment in areas they feel are relevant to DSB and the services we influence.   


So what does a typical meeting look like? 


The SRC met on Saturday, June 7, 2008 at the Doubletree Hotel Spokane City Center. Below is a sample of what topics were covered and what the public was able to observe or participate in. 


The meeting began at 9:03 a.m. and the chair, Cindy Van Winkle, recognized Lou Oma Durand, Executive Director of DSB for an update on DSB and program services.


Lou Oma highlighted current activities and challenges and reported on the following: 

   DSB’s current spending and that the agency is in good shape on the budget.

   Resource concerns in the Independent Living program and in providing services.

   Progress made in relocating the Orientation and Training Center residential center.

   The transition to the new case management system and that DSB is still working on the challenges it has presented.

   The development of the State Plan. The state plan is the contract that DSB has with the federal government with respect to how we will implement the Rehabilitation Act in the Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) program. Simply put, this tells the major funder of DSB services what our operational priorities are and how we are going to spend the federal funding.

   Information on the Braille focus and Independent Living focus groups. DSB is looking at how we support Braille in our VR program and the IL group is tackling the challenge of being able to serve all applicants and how to measure results from this program.


After Lou Oma’s report to the Council, the public in attendance was asked to share their comments. A number of folks stepped up and expressed concerns ranging from the Independent Living program service delivery to access options in the Spokane WorkSource Center. 


The remaining SRC agenda continued through the day and included information on DSB’s budget and Strategic Plan development; an update on the Department’s Job Developer Initiative and DVD project, and SRC Client Satisfaction Survey and committee reports. 


As you can tell there is much information covered and there is much to learn about the partnership between DSB and the blind community. The above was just a very small sample of what is covered in an SRC meeting that concluded at 3:30 p.m. 


If you have any interest in blind services, issues that impact service delivery or broader issues facing the blind community, I would highly recommend attending a State Rehabilitation Council meeting when it comes to a city near you. 


The next meeting will be held in Bellingham in September. 


To get information on the SRC, meeting dates and locations, minutes and past meeting minutes; go to our web site at


Enter on the State Rehab Council or look on our Community/DSB Calendar for meeting times and links to information on the Council. 


Look for DSB’s year end results in the next issue of the Newsline as June 30, 2008 marks the end of the state fiscal year. 


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Louis Braille School

By Carolyn Meyer and Eric Brotman


It is my pleasure to introduce Eric Brotman, Director of Development for our growing school. Eric hails from California where he worked for most of his professional life in communications. His resume includes freelance journalist (with credits in the L.A. Times and San Francisco Chronicle), production coordinator for an audio book publisher, occasional acting and voice-over work, and broadcaster for community and NPR radio stations.


For ten years, beginning in the 1980s, Eric produced and hosted "Insight," a weekly community radio program devoted to those who are blind or visually impaired. He read books, magazines, newspapers, and newsletters over the air. At that time, the program was one of only a handful of "open channel" radio reading services nationwide broadcast over an AM or FM station and not restricted to a special, or sub-carrier, channel.


Please call Eric at 425-776-4042 or email and introduce yourself. Following is Eric's article about our May benefit auction.


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Louis Braille School 2008 Benefit Auction

By Eric Brotman


The 2008 Benefit Auction for the Louis Braille School was held in downtown Edmonds last May 17th and we raised over $5,000 on a day when record high temperatures reached the upper 80's.


Looking back on the event, I'm impressed with the variety of items that were donated. There were tickets to a Mariners game, a ride on a local fire truck, lunch with the mayor of Edmonds, 6 cubic yards of premium black mulch, and many other offerings. Where else could people have walked into one large room and had the opportunity to bid on over 100 items in just two short hours?


Unusual donations weren't the only memorable aspects to the auction. There was humor, too. A motorcycle rental-for-a-day was promoted as "Throttle Therapy."


Paul Rucker, our smooth and congenial master of ceremonies who is with the office of Development and Alumni Relations for the University of Washington, was promoting a pair of football tickets from rival Washington State University. He obviously generated some excitement because his four-year-old daughter, Saesha, grabbed a bidding placard lying on her table and enthusiastically held it up. Tom Snyder, our auction spotter, reflexively pointed to the bid. A moment later, when Paul was told who the bidder was, he good-naturedly laughed, "It better not be!"


I bought a pair of newly-made, hand-painted wooden coat hangers that looked like they belonged to the late 19th- or early 20th-century. (I'm giving them as a gift to a friend who owns a hundred-year-old house.) Other bidders vied for everything from beautifully quilted table runners, to cordless power tools, to a large antique storage chest. A few gardeners and horticulturalists eagerly scooped up certificates good for 6-yard loads of topsoil or mulch donated by Ron Robin, owner of Earthworx and a Louis Braille School board member.


Some well-deserved recognition and applause went to Sue Ammeter, this year's recipient of the Louis Braille School's Distinguished Service Award. The award read:


"Thank you, Sue, for your outstanding contributions as an advocate for those who face challenges because of disability issues. No matter how large or small a person's hurdle, you always have time to help. You exemplify the effort to make 'equality, independence, and opportunity for all' a reality."


Carolyn Meyer, Director of the Louis Braille School, presented the award. In addition to acknowledging Sue's many other awards and notable achievements, Carolyn said, "Sue is extremely intelligent, articulate, and has a memory like a steel trap. She is a true and honest person and friend."


A contingent of attendees from the Washington Council for the Blind had the happiest-sounding table in the hall, led by Cindy and Tim Van Winkle. The Council donated tickets to various events that were well-received at the auction, including tickets to the Husky/Stanford football game, the Mariners/Redsocks game, and a Steve Miller Band concert at The Gorge.

The food and refreshments were good. We served up a half-dozen large, freshly-baked pizzas donated by Pagliacci, a fresh fruit platter, assorted nuts and cookies, and fancy bottled water in various flavors. Kids and adults alike came back for seconds.


We couldn't have begun to put on the benefit auction without the help of many volunteers. They not only made the event possible, but kindled the spirit of community, and that is at the heart of the mission, effort, and continuing presence of any non-profit organization. We thank those who took part in the 2008 auction—volunteers, donators, and attendees—and look forward to seeing them, and you, at the Louis Braille School's 2009 Benefit Auction.


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Library Transition

By Cathy Turk, Transition Coordinator

Washington State Library


The administrative transition of the Washington Talking Book and Braille Library from the Seattle Public Library to the Washington State Library (a division of the Office of the Secretary of State) is in the home stretch. The transition will be effective on July 1.


This has been a big project and has been a long time in the works. There are many details that we are wrapping up to make this transition happen. However the biggest issues have centered around funding, staffing and resolution of ownership of the building that houses the library.


On the funding issue, I would like to start by saying a huge “thank you” to the Washington Council of the Blind for their consistent and effective support for the budget request submitted by the Office of the Secretary of State’s office to the 2008 Legislature. The additional funds requested were included in the legislature’s budget for Fiscal Year 2009. These additional funds will end reliance on private gift funds for ongoing library operations, put the library on more secure footing financially and avoid the need to institute any budget or service reductions.


Secretary of State, Sam Reed and State Librarian Jan Walsh appointed, and are very pleased to welcome, Ms. Danielle H. M. King as the new Washington Talking Book and Braille Library Program Manager, effective April 28, 2008. King has a Master of Library and Information Science degree from the University of Washington, where she has also completed doctoral course work in Information Science.


In anticipation of the transition, Gloria Leonard, the former WTBBL Director and an employee of the Seattle Public Library, has decided to retire at the end of the year. Gloria is assisting with the transition of operations to the State until June 30, 2008. She became director of the Washington Talking Book and Braille Library in 2002 and describes her six years of working with the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped headquarters and network libraries as the most rewarding part of her 36-year career as a librarian. We thank Gloria for her years of dedicated service to the WTBBL and her many accomplishments. Danielle can be reached at (206) 615-1588 or


Other staff changes are also underway. Some loss of current staff was anticipated, as the staff had to choose to become State employees or pursue other options. Losing dedicated and experienced staff members is always difficult. Library staff members had to make personal decisions about what career move was best for them. For many, this was a very difficult decision. Our best wishes go with those that have chosen another career path. Over the past 2 ½ months, the Office of the Secretary of State has been working hard to fill current or impending vacancies so as not to negatively impact the library’s services and the volunteers. We are very pleased that we have been able to recruit several terrific new staff members who are eager and excited to be part of this important library service, and we know that you will join us in welcoming them.


Finally, the Office of the Secretary of State and the City of Seattle are continuing to work toward conversion of the current library building to a 4-unit, non-residential condominium. Under this arrangement, ownership of the first and second floors of the library building would be transferred to the State; the City will retain ownership of the roof and basement to maintain the current police precinct parking. As you might imagine, this process takes some time, but we are proceeding and anticipate that the ownership transfer will be complete by this fall. This arrangement will guarantee that the Talking Book and Braille Library can remain in its current location and at no additional cost to the State.


Please feel free to contact me at if you have any questions or concerns about the transition.


You are invited!


Please join Sam Reed, Secretary of State, at an open house to welcome the Washington Talking Book and Braille Library to the Office of the Secretary of State and the Washington State Library.


When: July 3rd, 2008


Time: Noon to 2:00 pm


Where: Washington Talking Book and Braille Library, 2021 9th Avenue, Seattle, Washington, 98121



Noon – 2:00 pm, Light refreshments served

12:30 pm, Presentation and welcome by Sam Reed, Secretary of State and Jan Walsh, State Librarian

1:00 pm, Tour of the Library, for those interested


We hope that you will be able to join us in welcoming this very special library to the Office of the Secretary of State. Please RSVP to Marilyn Lindholm at or (360) 704-5249.


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Teachers of the Blind/Visually Impaired Needed

By Dr. Dean O. Stenehjem, Supt. WSSB


Do you know someone that would have the passion and desire to become a teacher trained to work with blind and visually impaired (BVI) children?


Throughout our country we are continuing to experience a tremendous shortage of highly qualified individuals to provide a vital service that makes a huge difference in the lives of children who are BVI. Each year thousands of BVI students do not receive the type of education they need to be successful due to the fact that not enough people are entering this vital profession to meet growing demands. It is not uncommon for school districts to go a year or more without a trained teacher, not because they are not trying to hire the right person, but because there are not enough teachers to meet the demand.


Each year in our state, we estimate that anywhere from 5-10 positions go unfilled; currently we are aware of 8 open positions, which represents a minimum of 160 children that may not be receiving specialized training. What can we do? How can you help?


First, there is a grassroots movement in Washington to try to get an endorsement or certification in the area of Teacher of the Blind and Visually Impaired. This is just one step, but we do believe it will help attract more trained teachers to our state.


Second, if each person reading this newsletter knows of someone interested in going into the teaching profession, that you think would be an excellent person to work with BVI children, get in touch with WSSB and we will help provide some guidance. Most teacher training programs for the BVI require a bachelor’s degree, and a master's in education of the BVI. Please note, due to the shortage, many of the masters programs have stipends that will help with the advanced degree.


Third, just help us get the word out. This is a great profession and we need dedicated people who are passionate about helping children who are BVI become competent individuals with the skills necessary for success and a great future.


With your help we can make a difference! For more information, contact Jessica Sydnor, WSSB Human Resources Director: or 360-696-6321 ext. 129. The Washington State School’s for the Blind website is: If you go to “resources” you will also be able to access information regarding University training programs throughout the United States.


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Around the State


Capital City Council of the Blind

By Berl Colley, President


In February we had a speaker from the Foundation For Preventing Blindness come and talk to us. They are interested in getting a chapter started in the state of Washington. The primary thrust of this organization is to raise money to prevent blindness.


Berl was not at the March meeting as he and Denise were attending the School for the Blind Board of Trustees meeting which was at the Northwest Association of Educators and Rehabilitation workers in Tacoma. Gloria Walling ran a short meeting on March 15. We had 1 new member join in March. He is Michael Edwards.

On March 29 the club sent 12 members to Lacey to participate in our spring wine tasting party. A good time was had by all. CCCB also partnered with the Lacey Sunrise Lions club to host their spring pancake feed. It is a fundraiser for their club. We also had our spring pizza feed at Apollo’s in West Olympia. It is amazing how much pizza our chapter can eat.


At our April meeting, we had a speaker from 211 give us an overview of what the 211 call center is about. It is pretty new and not well known yet. Jackie Lopez joined at that meeting. Welcome to both Michael and Jackie.

May 17 was suppose to be the day of our chapter meeting, but we cancelled it, because our members were involved in 2 different community functions. Some of our members were working with the Lacey Lions Sunrise club at the Lacey Fun Fair on Saturday and Sunday. We brailed over 900 first names of kids that weekend. Other members were working with the Olympia Lions Host club at a low-vision fair on Saturday. Berl made a presentation and Michael Cunningham and Jackie Lopez served on a panel to answer low-vision questions from the public. Michael and Howard Ferguson manned a CCCB table that day.


In addition to the above activities, 4 of our members went to the WCB spring board meeting in Everett.


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Greater Everett Area Council of the Blind

By Chris Coulter, member


Greater Everett Area Council of the Blind meets at 2 p.m. on the second Saturday of each month with the exception of July and August. We meet at Patty's Egg Nest. The address is 6720 Evergreen Way in Everett. The food is good; the conversation runs the gamut from jokes to politics and there are always lots of good blindness-related tips and tricks. We even have good guest speakers.

At our meeting on June 14th we will be hearing from Tom King of Marysville about the installation of audible pedestrian signals on several of that community's intersections. Stay tuned for lots of information about this subject.

We also have a new member who joined us in April. Wes Derby is one of the reader advisors at the Washington Talking Book and Braille Library. I'm sure many people who read this magazine have ordered books from him. Wes says that he spent several years mulling over the decision of whether to join an organization of the blind -- and if so, which one. He says he's very excited about having finally made his decision to join WCB. He subscribed to the e-mail list right away and has made several very interesting contributions to the discussion on the list.

We here in Everett hope you have a good summer and that you make Newsline part of your reading material at the beach.


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Guide Dog Users of Washington State

By Joleen Ferguson, Immediate Past President


Big thanks go to our Spring Fling planning committee: Bill Hoage, Randy Tedrow, and Gina Allen! Thanks also to member Michele Weiding for all the running she did for us during our meeting.


We completed our 5th successful, day-long, Spring Fling on Saturday, April 26, 2008. Twenty-five people registered, but there were a few absences. There was representation from Guide Dogs for the Blind and from Guide Dogs of America. Following our business meeting, led by our new president Vivian Conger, our program focused on the history of guide dog harnesses. Andy Krusoe from Guide Dogs of America and Nick Terrones each presented and brought samples of harnesses from their schools as well as from other countries. It was very fascinating and informative. There is still more that could be said on the topic than they had time to offer.


Debby Phillips filled in for the minister who was scheduled to come, but was unable to make it due to communication problems. She did a nice job on the spot with discussion and prayers for those teams who requested it.


Tina Leighton, our fund-raising chair, and her committee had many items for sale at the display table again this year. Tina was assisted by Dodie Brueggeman at the table. Kitty Hoage’s hand crafted, Multi-purpose scrubbers were a popular item as were home made dog beds. Proceeds from the scrubbers are targeted to pay for our 501(c)3 status that we plan to obtain. We also received a very generous donation, from one of our members, to make this dream a reality.


This year, again, we met in conjunction with the WCB Leadership Training and April Board meeting. We met at The Holiday Inn Downtown Everett this time. Several of us stayed to attend the WCB board meeting on Sunday.


We have had web page problems for some time. In February, we took steps to change to a different web provider. Craig Phillips, our web master, was unable to access our site to make any changes for several months. The web provider was unable to help him with the problems. In the process of moving to, our domain name was inaccessible and then unavailable. Then we discovered it had been sold to someone else. The short of it is that we have a new web address now. It is Think of it as “net” for “new.” Now we are updating the files and plan to have the page up and ready to access by the time you receive this information. Check us out.


We are already making plans to have a great offering in conjunction with the WCB convention this October in Vancouver Washington. Be watching for details as they become available.


There is no bad time to join GDUWS. You need not be partnered with a guide dog, but you do need to have interest in matters relating to working guide dog teams. Make out your dues payment check to GDUWS in the amount of $15.00 and send it to our treasurer, Byron Kaczmarski, P.O. Box 194, Dayton, WA 99328-0194


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Jefferson County Council of the Blind

By Carl Jarvis, Secretary


We keep on growing. President Sue Ammeter welcomed four new members at our March meeting. Joining us are: Ann Bradbury, Jim DeCava, Gloria Grant and Juanita O'Hara


Most of our March meeting was spent in learning about the activities of Morningside's Port Townsend branch. Holly Stone-Cabe and Christen Bryant told us that Morningside is 45 years old. But they have only been in Port Townsend for 5 years. Holly and Christen are the only two employees here, but there are about 150 employees in the region. They told us that the mission of Morningside is: To advance the employment and self sufficiency of people with disabilities and other significant barriers to employment. In Port Townsend they are focused on job development and placement.


In April we once again participated in the Port Townsend Disability Awareness Day. Lynn Gressley, Bonnie Sherrell, and Cathy and Carl Jarvis accompanied the folks who were experiencing what it is to be blind. The focus was on access to designated emergency locations. Also there was an evacuation drill by the fire department at the courthouse. Several methods of evacuating someone in a wheel chair were demonstrated.


At our May meeting we agreed to send a contribution of $200 to the WCB Scholarship Committee. Then we turned to the serious business of deciding where and when to hold our annual picnic. When the dust had settled we decided once again to accept the gracious hospitality of the Ammeters and gather Friday, July 25 at Noon.


Our other concern is that we are growing too large for our present meeting room at the Fiesta Jalisco Restaurant. Lynn has tracked down a place that sounds interesting. It is the historic Water Street Brewery. In addition to their home-made brew they serve a variety of tasty sandwiches and have a much larger meeting area. We decided to hold our September meeting there. We wrapped up our May meeting listening to Jenny Devens relate some of her adventures as a new student in the Orientation and Training Center in Seattle.


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King County Chapter

By Marilyn Donnelly, Treasurer


Love and marriage is alive and well among many members of the WCB. I recently returned from California, where I attended the May 18th wedding of Chris Gray and Marvelena Quesada. The wedding was held on the 12th floor of a downtown San Francisco hotel. The ceremony itself was beautiful, with all the traditions of a very formal wedding. Then it was down to the 10th floor to enjoy hors d’oeuvres and beverages and the receiving line.


And then, with place cards in hand, my cousin and I found our seats at Table 14. We enjoyed a delicious meal and were surrounded with all the bells and whistles of a very formal dining experience. All the while, the DJ was playing music that we could all enjoy and many took advantage of the dance floor.


The wedding began at exactly 12 noon and the reception ended at 4:00 PM. Shirley Gray, mother of the groom and member of this chapter, and also a member of the wedding party, was very busy during all these festivities, along with other members of the Gray family. On a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being the highest, I gave this one a 50.


Many thanks to my cousin Joan DeAlejandro from Santa Rosa, California, that made this whirlwind weekend possible for me.


Two couples from this chapter have celebrated wedding anniversaries lately. Tim and Virginia Schneebeck celebrated Number 18 on May 27th. Some of you will remember that special day when we attended the wedding and reception on the historic passenger vessel, the Virginia V, and then it was down the Cut, through the Ballard Locks and a cruise around Elliott Bay. Roger and Darlene Hilling celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary on April 2nd. That was the silver, folks, and now on to the golden.

By the way, on May 7, Darlene began a 90-day work evaluation at the Lighthouse for the Blind.


Speakers from our March, April and May meetings are as follows: Missy from the Outdoors for All program, formerly known as the Ski for All program, gave us a wonderful description of all the outdoor activities that this program has to offer. I just may try that side-by-side bicycle some day.


Our very own Frank Johnson and Shirley Gray talked about identity theft and what we call Bits and Pieces was plenty of feedback from those in attendance. Michael Miller from Sound Transit talked to us about talking signs and where they will be placed along the transit route from Tacoma to Everett. He passed around the gadget that, when pointed at the designated sign, will tell us exactly where we are and when the next train comes.


We end this article with special get-well wishes for Patt Copeland for a speedy and complete recovery from her eye surgery.


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Pierce County Association of the Blind

By Lori Allison, President


Hello Everyone! PCAB has been hard at work this spring. In April we have had 2 new members join our group -- Tami Dawes and Jimmy Jacks.  Also, in May, David Wermuth rejoined our group. Many of our members have been working on a business plan to start up a descriptive video library service. Members of PCAB have been given access to a booth at The Western Washington Fair. We have also had a committee working on a picnic as an outreach project in August.  


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Peninsula Council of the Blind

By Meka White, Secretary


The Peninsula Council of the Blind has had a very exciting quarter. We never seem to be able to get enough of each other’s company. There seems to always be something happening to foster the deep friendship and comradely that we all have for one another.


First of all, we have had some wonderful guest speakers who have come to our chapter meetings. In April, Carl Jarvis and his lovely wife, Cathy joined us for our monthly meeting. As you can well imagine, the meeting was very informative and a hoot as well. In May, Stephanie Wells from the Foundation Fighting Blindness spoke to us about that particular organization’s mission and goals.


We have had numerous socials and have started up a new activity as well. There is a monthly support group meeting held at the home of Eric and Joanne Hunter for those of us who are blind, and our sighted counterparts. It is a great time for sharing, coming up with new techniques, and simply being there for one another to answer questions, give advice, or even just to vent. The Easter brunch was held in April. There was plenty of food and fellowship to be had, and the kids (little and kids-at-heart), had a blast.


We’ve also taken two trips to the other side of the pond in to Seattle for the Louis Braille book signing and for the premiere of Blind Sight, all within a week of each other. The ladies of the group had a fantastic time at a Girls Day Out which took place at the mall and culminated in a scrumptious lunch at Applebee’s. We did not want to leave the men out of the fun, though. They met at the Masonic Temple for a Men’s Breakfast social. We finally brought the gang back together again for a Sais de Mayo dinner at Azteca and a few weeks later, for a meal at the Sizzler.


Our guide dogs began to whine that they weren’t getting in their requisite amount of fun, and so two poochie pow-wows were scheduled at the Bark Park where they could run around and play. Their handlers enjoyed talking with each other and watching their four-legged bundles of energy racing through the large field. Their fast-paced antics certainly kept us on our toes.

And speaking of pace, a new activity has sprung to life and really taken flight. The Walkers Club welcomes anyone to come to the mall on Mondays and Thursdays from 9 to 10 AM. The club walks around the mall, and I’ve heard rumor that there are a few stores that just might be open to sell coffees and chai. Not that this crowd likes its mochas and lattes, mind you, but I just thought I’d at least mention it.

PCB would like to extend our congratulations to Nicole Torcolini. She will be graduating from high school and has been chosen as Salutatorian of her class. She will be interning with Microsoft this summer and beginning Stanford in the fall. We’ll miss her, but we know that she’s going to be doing some incredible things.


We hope that you all have a wonderful summer, and we’ll be back with another update for you in the fall.


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South King Council of the Blind

By Maida Pojtinger, Vice President


Even though May 3 was a cold and rainy day, some of the members of SKB and United Blind of Seattle took part in a car wash. We appreciate so much their work; washing cars, holding signs and most importantly, collecting money.

Gaylen Floy has been very busy with an exciting and very worthwhile project sponsored by the Federal Way Chamber of Commerce. This project brings seniors and kids who are at risk together. The seniors mentor the kids and the two groups are preparing the soil for a garden. Later in the summer, the vegetables will be harvested. The seniors and youngsters will work together and learn many valuable lessons from each other. Hopefully, other communities will start similar projects.

We welcome John and Carol McConnell as new members of our chapter. John has worked with Alaska Airlines for 9 years. He recently returned to Kent with his new friend and guide dog. She is a sweet yellow lab named Naja. John plans to attend a conference in St. Louis. The conference will be presented by the Lutheran Blind Mission. This year the focus of the conference is to organize groups of people who are interested in sharing their Christian faith and promote social activities. I am sure we will hear more from John as the program is developed.

Jack Schnider was one of about 15 people who went to Oral Hull in Sandy, OR during the Memorial Day weekend. This was Jack's first time to go to Oral Hull and his impressions were all good. He said the hike near Mount Hood was the best with paved accessible trails. Second on his list were the delicious meals prepared by Becky. One does not have to leave the grounds at Oral Hull to enjoy the gardens and beautiful surroundings. If you have an opportunity to go there next Memorial Day, we encourage you to do so.


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United Blind of Seattle

By Ursula McCully


How time flies. It is spring, but I think Mother Nature is still in winter mode. But UBS membership is in spring mode, and in that spirit we are heading on with various committee activities.


In the previous update, I mentioned that UBS, along with other King County chapters and low-vision support groups, was going to a described tour of the Seattle Art Museum’s Roman Art Exhibit from the Louvre.


About 23 members enjoyed the tour, learning about the arts and artifacts from the Roman Empire. We were divided into small groups, so we could all view the statues and artifacts leisurely. We enjoyed the tour. Mother Nature generously provided a sunny Saturday.


April 5th, UBS members with other King County chapters and low-vision support groups, enjoyed an audio-described musical, Cabaret. The Activity committee is really on the go for UBS members to be out and involved.


Our monthly meeting was at the new location and Julie read the names of members in chapter committees. We now have a fund raising committee, chaired by Steve Barnett.

We had a wonderful guest speaker, Yang-Su Cho, an Assistive Technology Specialist with the Department of Services for the Blind (DSB). He came to talk about his summer project with blind and visually-impaired Korean students who are coming to Seattle to experience our American culture. He started this summer project to share his own personal experience with the Korean students. He asked if any of us would like to be involved and be foster family with the Korean students. A few of the members voiced their interest. He also talked about his work at DSB. As a blind individual, he finds it very challenging, but very fulfilling. He enjoys learning new stuff daily.


We had our 50/50 raffle and the pot was bigger as we were almost 25 in attendance. With the consensus of the board and membership, we are donating $500.00 to the WCB scholarship fund.


We had a car wash on May 3 at the Skippers parking lot in Burien. We joined forces with members of South King Council of the Blind to raise funds for the Super Picnic on July 19. The car wash was a success, despite the rainy day. We raised $345.00.


Last Saturday, May 17, at our monthly meeting -- boy, oh boy, it was a summer day with 85 degrees. I think a lot of us took the day off as only 24 members came to the meeting. Tyler, a guest speaker, joined our chapter. The outreach committee discussed goals for this year. The foremost goal is informing our community about UBS and WCB.


The fund raising committee reported on events planned, such as the Walk of Green Lake and a dinner and raffle in Northgate. The activity committee reported that there are 17 Braille students and 9 volunteer teachers for the Braille class at WTBB. About 41 members are going to the Mariners’ game, Sunday, May 18. The membership committee reminded us about Friends Day, June 21 at Virginia Mason Hospital. A gift certificate will be given to the member that brings 2 or more friends.


We had a guest speaker, Michael Miller, from Puget Sound Transit. He talked about the audio signs. Puget Sound Transit received a federal grant to test these devices in 9 transit stations in King County. Michael invited members to volunteer and test the audio receivers. He will send the volunteer application to Kathe O’Neil and she can send it to UBS members.


We had our 50/50 raffle and adjourned early to enjoy the warm weather. We will meet in August as July 19th is our annual super picnic.


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United Blind of the Tri-Cities

By Janice Squires, Member


Once again the United Blind of the Tri-Cities is proud to welcome our three newest members -- Cheryl Stone, Antoinette Reisenhower and Ruth Shook. This will bring our 2008 membership count to the grand total of 52! We are ever so proud of this accomplishment and hope to continue to grow even more.


We were so proud to hear the news that one of our members, Laura Fink, was selected as the WCB first timer to the ACB national convention in Kentucky this year. Laura and new member Catharine Golding were both also chosen to attend the WCB Leadership Seminar. Laura spoke at our May meeting and shared with us all that she had learned and experienced at the meetings.


Members, Holly and Byron Kaczmarski and Bill Hoage represented the UBTC guide dog users at the 2008 annual Guide Dog Users of Washington State’s Spring Fling. Bill serves as GDUWS First Vice-President and Byron serves as their treasurer. The theme of the program this year was the “History of the Harness” and all found the topic to be ever so interesting. Frank Cuta is our UBTC representative on the WCB board and reports to us on many of the happenings and decisions of the board.


We were ever so pleased to have Debby Phillips, WCB board member, be our guest speaker at our April chapter meeting. She shared with us about many of the WCB events and history of the Council. We thank Debby and her husband Craig for taking the time to be with us.


At our May chapter meeting, we welcomed guest speaker, Catharine Ostrum, the new director of the Ben Franklin Transit’s Dial-a-Ride system. She introduced herself to us and explained to us about some of the changes that may be occurring in our service.


Holly Kaczmarski, one of our newest members, was our guest speaker in March. She presented a speech on her future training in Orientation and Mobility and Independent Living Rehabilitation. She talked about why she was interested, what was involved in the schooling, what the trained person does to help the blind, and about the need for people in our area to help individuals with O and M and other Independent Living issues.


Carmen Walker has really stepped up to the plate and organized not only our April and May lunches, but has already taken on the task of organizing our Christmas party. We continue to have close to 25 people sharing in a meal together and also sharing friendship with each other. We had 19 loud and rowdy card playing ladies at our monthly game day and what a great time we have.


The book group meets once a month, and if you can believe it, sometimes we even talk about the book! The latest books we have read were, “Blessings” and “Crashing Through.” The narrated play for March was the Agatha Christie play, “And Then There Were None”. We are now looking forward to our June Play, "The Importance of Being Earnest." Thanks to Brenda Vinther, Margie Kickert and Frank Cuta for keeping this program organized and enjoyable for all of those who attend. We have just completed our 2008 candy sale and the money from this project helps offset the cost of many of our activities.


Have a wonderful summer.


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United Blind of Walla Walla
By Vivian Conger, Secretary

Well it is time for another chapter update - so here goes.

At our March meeting, we had a person from our local fire department speak on how to prevent falls in the home. She told us that more people die from falls than vehicle accidents.

We had Catherine Golding, Washington State School for the Blind, speak to us in April. Catherine travels all over Eastern Washington, working with students who are blind, school districts, and folks wanting to become Braille transcribers and instructors.

At our May meeting we had a gentleman visit us who has macular degeneration. He has been receiving shots for this and has had some improvement with his condition. We have several members who have been diagnosed with macular

We are continuing to work with the cities of Walla Walla and College Place in regards to accessible pedestrian signals. Soon several of our members will be participating in training on how to utilize our transit system.


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United Blind of Whatcom County

By Betty Sikkema, President


Greetings to everyone from UBWC! We hope all of you had a pleasant winter and are looking forward to a warm rest of spring and summer. At our March meeting, one of our members, Marget Kingston, gave a demonstration of her portable Kurzweil reading machine. It was really interesting to see, but you had to have lots of patience to point it just right on the paper in order for the camera to take a picture correctly.


On April 27, after coming home from a board meeting, Yvonne Miller, as well as Lynn Schouten, Diane Kirscheman, and Beth Marsau, attended the Whatcom Volunteer Center’s annual Heart and Hands Ceremony. Yvonne was nominated by Beth Marsau for a volunteer award. A certificate was presented to her. Ice cream sundaes were enjoyed by all.


Bruce gave a presentation about his trip to Chili which was really interesting. Bruce was generous by bringing us some coins that we could take home.


We also had a guest speaker in May, Dr. William Freeman. Yvonne also spoke about the group that was formed in the Lummi community. This group consists of various disabilities.


They are currently working on a video project about developmental disability. The purpose is to create disability awareness.


Our social lunches still take place once a month, but the difference is that instead of going to the same place all the time, we switch to another restaurant. In March, we went to Arlis’s in Bellingham, in April to Dutch Mothers in Lynden, and in May to Denny’s in Ferndale. Everyone seems to like the change.


May God grant you all a safe summer season.


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Bits and Pieces

By Cindy Van Winkle, WCB Immediate Past President


The Digital TV Transition: What you need to know


What Is The Digital TV (DTV) Transition?

Currently, many over-the-air stations are broadcasting in both analog and digital TV formats. After February 17, 2009, full-power TV stations will only broadcast in digital. The DTV transition will affect those who watch free over-the-air television (through a rooftop antenna or "rabbit ears"). If you watch over-the-air programs on an analog TV, you must take action before February 17, 2009.


Why Are We Switching?

Federal law requires the switch, which will free up frequencies for police, fire, and emergency rescue communications, allow broadcasters to offer programming with better picture and sound quality and offer more programming choices, and allow for commercial advanced wireless services.


What Should I Do to Be Ready?


You have three choices:

1) Connect your analog TV to a digital-to-analog converter box. Digital-to-analog converter boxes are in stores and have a one-time cost of $40-$70. To help you pay for the boxes, the U.S. Government is offering two $40 coupons per household. For more information on the coupons, visit, or call 1-888-388-2009 (voice) or 1-877-530-2634 (TTY).


2) You should not need a new antenna if you get good quality reception on analog channels 2-51 or buy a digital television (a TV with a built-in digital tuner). You do not need a High Definition TV (HDTV) to enjoy digital broadcast television. You only need a digital TV (or an analog TV connected to a digital-to-analog converter box).


3) Subscribe to a paid service, such as cable or satellite TV. You should contact your provider to see what, if any, equipment you may need. Remember that you will need a digital-to-analog converter box for any analog TV in your home not connected to your paid TV service.


For More Information:

1-888-CALL-FCC (Voice)

1-888-TELL-FCC (TTY)


Blind Bargains


Blind Bargains scours the net to find sales, deals, and news on computers, screen readers, notetakers, braille printers, hard drives, accessible cell phones, memory cards, talking products, and much more. They also offer Bargains by Email, where every weekday, they send out an Email containing the hottest deals posted to their site. To subscribe to this free newsletter or to read their bargains online, visit Blind Bargains at



RoboBraille automates the translation of text documents into Braille and speech. The service is available free of charge to all non-commercial users. With RoboBraille, you can

• Translate documents into contracted Braille

• Translate documents into speech

• Translate text into visual Braille

• Convert text documents between different character sets

• Convert Braille documents to specific Braille character sets

• Partition documents into smaller parts


Using RoboBraille

The current version of the Sensus Braille Mail Robot supports a range of popular document formats, including standard text, HTML, Word and Rich Text Format (RTF). Adobe’s Portable Document Format (PDF) is expected to be added to the list in the near future. Prior to translation, Word and RTF files are converted into text.


In addition to contracted Braille, the Sensus Braille Mail Robot supports translation of text into synthetic speech. First, the translation system translates an attached document into a WAVE file. WAVE files are rather large and unsuitable for transmission via the Internet. Therefore, the WAVE file is subsequently encoded and compressed into an MP3 file. The resulting audio file is stored with a unique name on a web server and a link to the file is returned to the user.


The translation processes are supported by the email accounts listed below. To invoke a process, simply send email with an appropriate attachment to one of the following email accounts: Translates the attached document into contracted eight-dot Braille. Translates the attached document into contracted six-dot Braille. Partitions in file into smaller parts (up to a maximum of 30 parts) to allow it to fit into the memory of older Braille note takers. If no size is specified, the file is divided into parts each approximately 60kbytes. Other sizes may be specified in the subject field. Converts the attach file end returns the converted file. Converts documents in the standard Windows character set to the character set of a particular Braille device, such as a note taker or embosser.

• Translates the attached document into synthetic speech using an American English Text-to-Speech engine.


Learn more about RoboBraille by going to


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Hat’s Off to You!

By Gaylen Floy


Congratulations to Nicole Torcolini, member of Peninsula Council of the Blind, on her graduation from Central Kitsap High. Nicole was salutatorian of her class and is interning with Microsoft this summer. This fall, she begins work on a computer science degree at Stanford.


Congratulations to Chris Gray, immediate past president of ACB, and Marvelena Quesada, on their wedding in San Francisco.


Best wishes also go to Glenn and Ursula McCully, members of United Blind of Seattle.


Editor’s note

Events appropriate for mention in this column are as follows: the birth of a child or grandchild, a marriage, a new job or important job promotion, retirement, graduation from school, appointment to an agency or community board or council, awards or scholarships and birthdays--starting with the 75th and in five-year increments. After 90, every birthday should be submitted. Wedding anniversaries, starting with the 25th and in five-year increments deserve recognition.


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July 3 WTBBL Open House, Noon to 2 p.m.

July 5-12 ACB National Convention, Louisville, Kentucky

Aug. 1 WCB Summer Retreat and Seminar, Vancouver

Aug. 2 WCB Summer Board Meeting, Vancouver

Aug. 30 Deadline for the September Newsline

Aug. 31 Deadline for WCB award nominations

Aug. 31 Deadline for first timer applications for WCB convention

Sept. 6 DSB State Rehabilitation Council Meeting, Bellingham

Sept. 8 Call-in day to apply for free rooms at WCB convention

Sept. 19-20 WSSB Board of Trustees meeting

Oct. 1 Deadline for requesting travel stipend, making hotel reservations and registering for WCB convention

Oct. 23-25 WCB Annual Convention, Vancouver

Nov. 14-15 WSSB Board of Trustees meeting

Nov. 29 Deadline for the December Newsline

Dec. 6 DSB State Rehabilitation Council Meeting, Vancouver


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Special thanks go to the Newsline Committee and production volunteers.


Article deadline: To be considered for inclusion in the next issue, article submissions and other information for publication must be received by August 30, 2008. Articles may be edited for clarity and space considerations.


Publication policy: to ensure accuracy, we require submissions be e-mailed to with a cc: Articles should be no longer than 750 words.


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