Michigan Council of the Blind and Visually Impaired

MCBVI News June 2008

The Michigan Council of the blind and Visually Impaired unites people: to promote cultural, social, and personal growth, as well as understanding toward progress, dignity, equality in issues regarding blindness and visual impairment.

President: Michael Geno

Editor: Donna Rose
(517 333-9117

General Inquiries regarding the activities of MCBVI may be made by calling toll-free 1-888 956-2284, or we can be contacted by email at, mcbvi1@verizon.net

From The President's Desk
By Michael Geno

Our organization is definitely having a positive impact on the lives of citizens with vision loss. Because of our work and influence the blind and visually impaired will now be able to enjoy voice computer access to on-line credit reports or receive them in large print or Braille from the nation's major credit reporting companies. Another major corporation, Rite Aid has also entered into an agreement with us and will now be launching a nationwide initiative to improve their web site affording blind and partially sighted customers improved accessibility. They have also begun installing new point-Of-sale equipment with tactile key pads that will help protect the privacy and security of customers who find it difficult to enter numbers on a flat touch screen.
There is more! We have also cooperated with a coalition of disability groups to provide important testimony on the “Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act draft legislation. Our efforts are directed toward the passage of laws that will result in information technologies that must be accessible to citizens who cannot see. Currently this draft legislation strengthens existing law, Section 255 requiring telephone designs that are accessible to the disabled. The original law passed in 1996 would now be expanded to require increased audio and descriptive video options in TV programs. The new draft legislation would also mandate that all on- screen controls, electronic program guides, and menus be accessible to persons without sight. Also included are provisions to help pay for phone access and Braille displays necessary for the deaf blind to communicate.
More good news! Our ACB Director of Governmental Affairs has been invited to represent our interests as a member of the Federal Communications Commission's Consumer Advisory Committee. This allows us an opportunity to provide input regarding communication barriers on a very significant level. In addition we are also actively seeking support for the Pedestrian Safety Enhancement Act (H.R.5734) to protect blind and elderly persons from the dangers quiet cars add to street crossings.

We have recently influenced more just decisions in the courts. Because of our involvement one of our visually impaired members negotiated a settlement agreement protecting his civil rights and freedom after being unjustly accused of a crime he did not commit. You can learn more about this at our September annual convention.

In another suit we filed in U. S. District court, a Federal judge ruled in our favor ordering the Social Security Administration to accommodate blind benefit recipients who request their communications in accessible large print, audio recordings, or Braille. This action was brought by our organization to put a stop to the Social Security Administration's insistence on sending print announcements and time sensitive information that effect blind beneficiaries. The judge justly ruled the Administration has been violating existing anti-discrimination law requiring the federal government to provide the disabled equal access in all federally funded programs. We continue to protect the favorable ruling we won last fall ordering the U.S. Treasury to design and phase in U.S. currency that is identifiable by touch. Many other countries already mint equally accessible money enabling their blind citizens to conduct financial transactions with independence and equality. Our present form of money forces blind persons to be dependant on others to identify bills. Such dependency makes the blind vulnerable to fraud, and robs us of our dignity.

On May 20, 2008, a federal appeals court ruled that the U.S. Treasury Department does indeed discriminate against people who are blind by producing currency that cannot be identified independently without vision.

These are just a sampling of the many reasons we have to continue our efforts at all levels, encourage others to join, and celebrate. So do you need more reasons to join, or celebrate? Then you won't want to miss our technology exhibits and programs being readied for our September 2008 convention. The technology you will be able to observe and try out is changing the landscape of our future right now. Come and learn why we believe that new and exciting options promise brighter opportunities for the blind and visually impaired.

Imagine that you hear about a book that sounds interesting to read. In fact, many of your friends and colleagues are now reading and discussing it at social gatherings. Your past experience has included contacting the Library for the Blind talking book service, and asking if the title is available for mailing. If it is, you must wait until they process it, and send it out via "Snail Mail." At best you will receive it in a few days, and hopefully it is a fairly good copy with no erasures or twists in the cassette tapes. That scenario will soon fade into the past. Soon readers of this publication will know why.

I was asked to test a new device for our local sub-regional Library for the Blind and prepare a report for them and consumers. I have completed my tests, and will share my report with you in our next newsletter. You will be amazed and excited about what is now possible, and learn how much more blind consumers will have access to, and quickly! So stay tuned, and be informed about all the exciting developments positively changing what it means to be blind.

Nominations anyone?
By Karla Fields, Chairperson

Hi everyone! Well, here it is, spring 2008 and time to start thinking of nominations and elections to be held at our fall convention. The offices up for election this year are president, secretary and assistant treasurer. The duties of these offices are as follows per our constitution:

The president shall preside at all meetings of the Board of Directors and of the membership; see that all orders and resolutions of the Board of Directors are carried into effect; appoint committees not provided for in these Bylaws; be an ex-officio member of all committees with the exception of the nominations committee.

The secretary shall attend all board meetings and membership business meetings; preserve all records belonging to the council minutes of the proceedings of all such meetings; Give all notices required by statutes, bylaws or resolutions and be responsible for all other correspondence relative to the council; keep files of all such statutes and forward all records to the incoming secretary at the expiration of his or her office; and perform such duties that may be delegated to him or her from time to time by the Board of Directors.

Assistant Treasurer
A. The assistant treasurer shall be familiar with all the records and duties of the Treasurer as prescribed in the previous subsection “5. Treasurer, under section D. General Duties, Article III Officers and Committees.

B. Assistant Treasurer shall assist the Treasurer in the performance of all the duties, of the Treasurer and be able when necessary to carry them out in the Treasurer's absence.

C. the Assistant Treasurer must attend at least one half of all the meetings requiring the Treasurer's presence. This assistant may not cast a vote at such meetings. The Assistant Treasurer may cast votes for the Treasurer as an alternate at meetings, on behalf of the Treasurer when he or she is absent.

D. In addition to performing the duties of Treasurer during the absence or disability of the Treasurer: He or she shall automatically succeed to that office upon the resignation, impeachment or death of the Treasurer.

E. The Assistant Treasurer shall also perform such other duties that may be delegated to him or her from time to time by the Treasurer and Board of Directors.

If you wish to run for any of these offices please contact any member of the nominations committee. Also, if you feel a person would be able to fulfill the duties of an office, please let the committee know. The committee will then follow up by contacting that person to see if, indeed, they would like to run for that office.

At the current time, we have one person running for Secretary, Deb Wild. We would encourage you to run for an office and competition is always welcome.

Please contact any of the following committee members: Karla Fields, Chairperson (586) 465-2338, or Arlene Moore (517) 374-8681, Casey Dutmer (616) 534-0581 home or George Illingworth (734) 326-4770.

Finally, a friendly reminder. To be eligible to run for office or to vote in this fall 2008 election, your membership dues must be paid NO LATER than August 31, 2008.

MCBVI Convention Update
By Joe Sibley, Chairperson

Success without Sight, A Vision for the Future is the theme
for the 35th annual MCBVI Convention coming up September 25 thru 28 in Grand Rapids. This year the convention returns to the Howard Johnson Plaza Hotel, 255 28th street SW in Wyoming. Your convention committee has been meeting and emailing like crazy, putting together the finishing touches to the program. More details will be released soon, but plans include; a large technology and vendor expo on Friday with help from MEE Inc.; extra educational sessions Friday reaching out to non-members, parents of blind children, and those new to vision loss; hospitality room open all three nights; extra party opportunities in the meeting room after the banquet Saturday night; a number to call 24 hours a day for the latest convention updates before and during the convention; sessions that will address current issues and information; And of course, the annual auction with Kyle Austin returning to the auctioneer post. Gee, how much will the baked goods go for this year?

The vital operations of the MCBVI are there too, with the annual business meeting, resolutions, and election of officers. And yes, Tyrone Hamilton is back with his special brand of entertainment during the social hour before the banquet.

Room rates are an affordable $75 per night plus tax for single or double occupancy. Room reservations may be made now by calling the hotel directly at (616) 241-6444. Be sure to specify the MCBVI convention to get the discount room rate. Again this year, there will be no convention registration cost for MCBVI members with dues paid up by August 31st. Information packets should be out before August 1 with all of the details. In the meantime, chapters and individuals could consider donating auction or door prize items, and chapters can reserve an exhibit table in the display room for their own fund raising efforts.

If you have questions or concerns, or wish to reserve a table for your chapter, contact Joe Sibley, convention chairman at joe.sibley1@sbcglobal.net, or call (616) 724-1650 You won't want to miss the education, inspiration, fun, and fellowship at the 2008 MCBVI convention!

News Notes From Everywhere
By Donna Rose, Editor

"Label It! Braille & Audio Strategies for Identifying Items at Home & Work", a book by Judith M. Dixon. In braille and PortaBook, $10 from National Braille Press. For more information visit www.nbp.org or call them toll-free (888) 965-8965.

Full-Page Braille Slate - Letter-Size, 25 Lines and 28 Cells, $19.95. Braille a Whole Page at once. Those of us who have this item love it. Available from Future Aids, The Braille Superstore by calling 1-800-987-1231.

Raffle To Support The Braille Forum! ACB is once again holding a raffle. First prize is $5,000; second prize, $1,000; and third prize, $500. Tickets cost $50 each, and you may share the cost with friends (maximum 4 people per ticket). Winners will be drawn at the banquet on Friday, July 11. You don't need to be there to win. But you do need to buy a ticket to get the chance! So get together with friends, family, your affiliate's officers, and go in on a ticket. To get yours, contact Sharon Lovering in the ACB national office, 1-800 424-8666, or e-mail slovering@acb.org.

WRBH Reading Radio - your source of current news, entertainment, periodicals, books, and more available at www.wrbh.org. Our mission is to turn the printed word into the spoken word so that the blind and print handicapped receive the same ease of access to current information as their peers. No hooks, no fees, no memberships. We are funded by foundations, underwriting, and private contributions.

BeaconSysInc. - A new company producing accessible applications using Smart Phones with Screen Readers as their operating platform. Soon your cell phone could include a simple currency identifier, barcode scanner, that will identify any nationally registered barcode, and transportation system that will give buss scheduling and location information. These products are still in development and are expected to beta toward the end of 2008. for more information please visit www.beaconsysinc.com.

Traditional Light Bulbs are on the way out, and some people with vision problems are up in arms since they can't easily tolerate the new fangled fluorescents. As part of the energy bill passed last year, lawmakers phased out traditional bulbs in favor of longer lasting Compact Fluorescent bulbs. These fluorescent bulbs are better in many ways. They last longer, use less electricity and throw off less heat. Consumers will reportedly save about $30 over the life of each bulb. Be careful if you break one, though, because they do contain a small amount of mercury. Another downfall to these bulbs is you can't just throw them out in your regular garbage due to the hazardous mercury. Consult your local recycle center to find out where to take bulbs that are burned out.

FamilyConnectTM - an online, multimedia community for parents and guardians of children with visual impairments. Located at: www.familyconnect.org. Family Connect gives parents access to message boards where they can talk to other parents, compelling videos featuring real-life families, parenting articles, a mom-authored blog, a glossary of more than 30 eye conditions, and links to local resources. The site also features sections dedicated to multiple disabilities, technology, education, and every age group from infants to teens.

Breakthrough: Foundation Fighting Blindness (FFB)
Gene Therapy Restores Sight

From Gordon Gund, FFB Chairman and Co-Founder. Three young adults who were nearly blind can now see thanks to a landmark gene therapy clinical study taking place at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. Simply put: These nearly blind young adults are now able to see thanks to research funded in part by the FFB. The study participants, all of whom have a severe form of retinitis pigmentosa known as Leber congenital amaurosis or LCA, can now read several lines on an eye chart and see in a dimly lit setting. One participant can even navigate an obstacle course that he couldn’t before.

The investigative team is optimistic that the therapy will give near normal vision to children with LCA. Their next step is to study the treatment in younger patients. This is great news for all people affected by retinal degenerative diseases. The breakthrough paves the way for the development of gene therapies to treat a wide variety of retinal conditions including: other forms of LCA, many forms of retinitis pigmentosa, Stargardt disease, Usher syndrome, and age-related macular degeneration.

Speaking of Computers
By Donna Rose

Free Web Based Screen Reader - Screen Access To Go is a free web based screen reader available on the web at: www.satogo.com. You must turn your screen reader off while using it, but if you don't have one it will give you screen reading capacity for free right on the spot. Look for a review of this in an upcoming newsletter.

PDF to TXT 3.0 released - Now available at http://EmpowermentZone.com/p2tsetup.exe. This program has now been updated with two substantive enhancements that broaden the range of PDFs from which text can be obtained. If a PDF is locked with a password that you know, type it in the edit box that has been added to the main dialog. If the PDF is primarily an image format without textual characters, e.g., the result of a scan, mark the new checkbox so that optical character recognition (OCR) is performed rather than the usual text extraction techniques. Google Tesseract technology is used for this, which is currently the best free OCR available. Note that OCR should be used as a last resort, since it takes much longer and is more error prone. Essentially, PDF to TXT now incorporates the Pdf2ocr package, which has been available at http://EmpowermentZone.com/pdf2ocr.zip. The download size of the new installer is much larger, about 22 megabytes, in exchange for the additional OCR capability. The program's batch conversion features work with the latest enhancements. Thus, all the PDFs in a directory, or all those on a web page, may be processed with a single command if they share the same password or image format.

Trouble Reading Online Newspapers?
By Donna Rose

If you are having trouble reading newly designed online newspaper pages click on the “Mobile” link on the home page of your favorite paper. This page is meant for PDA’s and cell phones, but it works very nicely with screen readers as the page isn't constantly refreshing with new news feeds as so many online papers do now. There are also very low or no graphics to interfere with the text.

JAWS Tid Bit
By Donna Rose

Did you know if you are using JAWS 8.0 or higher you now have a powerful tool at your fingertips? JAWS now allows you to copy some text on a page for pasting later and then go down and copy some more. All this text will be saved on the clip board for pasting as long as you use the windows key plus the letter c instead of control plus c. When you do this the screen reader will say "appended." When you want to copy something else, but have already pasted everything you wanted from the clipboard go back to using control plus c and previous items on the clip board will not be saved. Grabbing text here and there is great when you are copying certain, but not all, items on a page, like recipes, addresses, or other information.

Descriptive Video Service (DVS)
Discontinues VHS Media

Descriptive Video Service has discontinued offering movies, documentaries and other described media on VHS tapes. Films are now being distributed for sale and rental on DVD, BluRay DVD and through video on demand (either rental or download to own) services via the Internet. WGBH's Media Access Group, home to the Descriptive Video Service, has been working to transition the home video efforts to DVD and to these online movie delivery outlets. Lack of available memory space on DVDs has been stated as the reason why more description tracks, created for theatrical release in the over 300 movie theaters with WGBH's Motion Picture AccessR (MoPixR) systems, are not making the migration onto DVDs. WGBH maintains a list of DVDs that have description tracks on them at the Web page listed with other description-related links at the bottom of this post.

http://main.wgbh.org/wgbh/pages/mag/resources/dvs-home-video-cata logue.html.

To hear a list of titles, and/or to place an order, please call:
(317) 579-0439 (24 hours a day, 7 days a week).

Choosing a TV Converter Box
That Supports SAP

Information From Mary Watkins at DVS
At midnight on February 17, 2009, all full-power television stations in the United States will stop broadcasting in analog and switch to 100% digital broadcasting. Digital broadcasting promises to provide a clearer picture and more programming options and will free up airwaves for use by emergency responders. Congress created the TV Converter Box Coupon Program for households wishing to keep using their analog TV sets after February 17, 2009. The Program allows U.S. households to obtain up to two coupons, each worth $40, that can be applied toward the cost of eligible converter boxes.

A TV connected to cable, satellite or other pay TV service does not require a TV converter box from this program. To learn how to get DTV converter boxes and coupons, necessary to continue receiving over-the-air broadcasting after February of 2009, please visit www.dtv2009.gov or call 1-888 388-2009 (That's "DTV-2009") or 1-877-530-2634 (TTY).

Video Description and Converter Boxes

WGBH's Media Access Group has tested two of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration/NTIA-certified coupon eligible converter boxes and has determined that you can indeed receive and hear video description from a broadcast digital TV signal that properly includes it. We tested two boxes:

Insignia from Best Buy
Digital Stream from Radio Shack

We tuned in two different PBS kids programs broadcast on WGBH's digital channel and heard the descriptions coming through. Even better news is that both boxes have both CC and SAP (or audio) buttons on the remote controls that allow you to access the various caption signals and alternate audio channels without having to go through the set-up menus. You will find discrepancies in the on-screen menus when you use the two different methods for controlling the alternate audio: both boxes display "English 1" and "English 2" in the on-screen menu when you use the SAP or Audio button on the remote control. Use English 2 for accessing the video description (or Spanish if you are looking for that).

In their set-up menus, both boxes display "English/Spanish/French" as the options in the pick list in those menus. And, of course, neither of the boxes have audible/talking menus for control of the set up and control of the boxes. The broadcaster must be properly tagging and sending the alternate audio in order for the boxes to pick up those signals and present them to the viewer.

VIPP Sponsoring Community Cruise Fest
By Joe Sibley

Visually Impaired Persons for Progress (VIPP) is partnering with Bridge The Gap Ministries, another community organization in an ambitious new fund raising and outreach project. Titled the Community Cruise Fest, the new event will be a part of the annual 28th Street Metro Cruise which draws about 200,000 people to miles of classic cars and activities along 28th street in Grand Rapids, Wyoming, Grandville, Kentwood, and Cascade. The Community Cruise Fest will include a road rally where participants will pay a fee to ride in a new or classic car to area business destinations, solving problems along the way, as well as a community picnic in front of Studio 28 Theatre featuring food vendors offering BBQ and more and live entertainment. Additional activities are in the planning stages. Businesses supporting the Community Cruise Fest include Studio 28 (Loeks Theatres/Celebration Cinemas), and Grill Masters BBQ.

Proceeds will be divided between VIPP and Bridge the Gap Ministries which is working to open a teen activity center in the community.

Plans are to make the Community Cruise Fest an annual part of the Metro Cruise, which this year is scheduled for August 22-23.

Not Everything Is Made In China!
By Donna Rose, Editor

A short time ago a woman wrote to a local columnist in Lansing about an ironic event which had recently happened to her. She was enjoying a meal in a Chinese restaurant with some friends. AT the end of her meal she opened up her fortune cookie. After reading her fortune she turned it over to see if there were any lucky numbers written on the back and to her surprise it read, "Made In Chicago".

Committee Reports

Editor's Note: Please see the beginning of the newsletter for articles regarding the activities of the nominations and convention committees.

by Heather Seaman Chairperson

The following Bylaws amendments to create the position of Assistant Secretary have been proposed for review and approval at our MCBVI's 2008 annual convention and business meeting. Specific changes are noted between quotation marks.

Proposed amendment to add under Article III Officers and Committee Subsection D General duties, and Subsection E Terms Of Office:

(Amendment One)
5. Assistant Secretary
A. The Assistant Secretary shall be familiar with all the records and duties of the Secretary as prescribed under Article III Officers and Committee Subsection D General duties, and Subsection 4 Secretary.

B. The Assistant Secretary shall assist the Secretary in the performance of all the duties, of the Secretary and be able when necessary to carry them out in the Secretary's absence.

C. The Assistant Secretary must attend at least one half of all the meetings requiring the Secretary's presence. This Assistant may not cast a vote at such meetings. The Assistant Secretary may cast votes for the Secretary as an alternate at meetings, on behalf of the Secretary when he or she is absent.

D. In addition to performing the duties of Secretary during the absence or disability of the Secretary: he or she shall automatically succeed to that office upon the resignation, impeachment or death of the Secretary.

E. The Assistant Secretary shall also perform such other duties that may be delegated to him or her from time to time by the Secretary and Board of Directors.

If adopted, the following amendments are necessary:

(Amendment Two)

Under Article III Officers And Committee, E. Terms Of Office, sub part 2.

2. During each annual convention or general membership business meeting of this organization convened during years ending in odd numbers, the membership shell conduct elections for the office of First Vice-President, Second Vice-President, "Treasurer, and Assistant Secretary."

(Amendment Three)

Under Article III, section B Board Of Directors:

1. The Board of Directors shall consist of: President, Immediate Past President, First Vice-President, Second Vice-President, Secretary, Treasurer, and one delegate elected from each chapter. The editor of the MCBVI News letter, the Membership Chairman, "Assistant Treasurer, and The Assistant Secretary" shall be ex-officio members of the board.

(Amendment Four)

Re-organizational changes are also necessary to, Article III Officers and Committee, D General Duties:

5. Treasurer to "6. Treasurer and
6. Assistant Treasurer to “7. Assistant Treasurer"

(Amendment Five)

"F. Upon adoption of this amendment, the President, with the approval of the Board Of Directors, may appoint an Assistant Secretary if one is deemed necessary. Such appointment shall be for a term of one year, opening that office for elections in succeeding odd numbered years. The purpose of this amendment shall expire in October of 2009, and therefore assumed to be null and void, and will be deleted after that time."

Membership Committee
Donna Rose, Co-Chairperson

As of the mailing of this newsletter we have 153 members. We still need to collect dues from the Detroit chapter which could increase this number significantly. I would like to thank Frank Cunningham for his work to provide the mailing labels for this issue. By the way, Frank took my label making training last November. This training is a perk of membership as it is offered at no charge to members of MCBVI. It will be offered again soon.

For our 2009 dues I would suggest that you use codes on your membership list to indicate changes on the line above each name which has a change. For example, change of address will be *COA, a change in format preference could be *For, and a new member would be, *NEW. Anyone who has no changes will not have a code before the name. This will make it very easy for the person putting together the membership list to just go through your list and append the master list rather than recreating it completely as is currently done. There will be more discussion regarding this method closer to dues collection time.

We need someone to step forward to take on the task of handling memberships. I would like to keep doing the newsletter as I really enjoy it, but the added burden of membership makes it difficult for me to concentrate on the newsletter and public relations. Please let President Michael Geno know if you are interested.

Public Relations Committee
Donna Rose, Chairperson

One thousand MCBVI Brochures were requested and mailed again to the Commission for the Blind. We will be putting forth a large public relations blitz as we get closer to the state convention. I am hoping to hit the radio stations and other news media, especially in Grand Rapids and in nearby areas. Remember all of you can be PR ambassadors as well. If you need help advertising the activities of your chapter please contact me.

Publications Committee
Donna Rose, Chairperson

Our next newsletter will be after the state convention. Please get all the committee reports, chapter updates and other items to me by October 6, 2008. It will be my goal to get that issue out for distribution by the end of October.

Resolutions Committee Report
by Chris Schumacher, Chairperson

First, I would like to welcome Pamela Berryman and thank her for agreeing to serve on our committee. I am sure she will be a great asset to our group. I would also like to thank Casey Dutmer, Neal Freeling, and Deb Wild for working again with me this year. We have met three times so far in 2008 and have begun discussing and researching various issues that may possibly result in resolutions that will be brought to our convention in September. However, it is not our intent to just have the concerns that the committee members express be the only sources for those resolutions. That is why we need to hear from you, the members of MCBVI. Do you have a particular problem or challenge that you think having some action from our organization might be able to resolve? Has there been an organization or company's service that you have appreciated where we could write a resolution of commendation? The deadline for submissions is August 20th. Feel free to contact me or any member of our committee in Braille, on cassette, or in typewritten formats with your ideas. We look forward to hearing from you.

Chapter Updates

Blue Water League Of The Blind
Update By Jeanette Geno, President

Hello from the BWL. We hope each and every mother had a wonderful Mothers day. In April we hosted our game night. All had a great time playing cards and trying out games on the computer while Enjoying snacks that our members brought in.

In May we went to the Visions 2008 Technology fair in Washtenaw County. Nineteen of us came home with information, resource brochures, and new gadgets to learn and use. Our following meeting also featured technology with presentations by the new director of our sub-regional Library For The Blind And Physically Handicapped. We learned more about a new digital audio device known as the Victor Stream. A representative from Leader Dog also demonstrated Trekker, the new talking satellite global positioning equipment they are training blind persons to use while traveling. Some of our members are planning to take advantage of the computer and mobility training they offer at no charge.

In June we went on a weekend training and relaxation get away. Next August we are going to a member's house for a pool party picnic. Until my next update, happy Summer to each and every member of MCBVI.

Capital Area
Donna Rose, President

The Capital Area Council now has 26 members. We have been meeting at the Gone Wired Café. To accommodate my work schedule we changed our meetings to Saturdays, but that did not prove to be a positive move as many members were not available. For the summer we are meeting once a month or so to play cards or other games of the members' choosing. We are hoping to do another Michigan Princess Cruise in the fall if we can raise the money again. Last year the Okemos Wal-Mart sponsored our cruise. Contact Donna Rose for meeting times at 517-333-9117.

Detroit Northwest Chapter Report
By Chris Schumacher, President

After three months of meeting via conference calls, our chapter got together in April and May for lunch at Brownie's Diner in Wayne. We are pleased to welcome five new members: Linda Brown, Karla Fields, Mike and Sandy Smith, and Merisa Musemic. The focus of our meetings has been on fund raising projects. We are also in the process of planning an activity this summer with the Blue Water League. For more information about our chapter's schedule of events, contact George Illingworth at (734) 326-4770.

Kalamazoo Council Of The Blind
And Visually Impaired
By Sherry Gordon

We had a very interesting speaker at our April 2008 meeting. Dale Hein from the Kalamazoo County Transit Authority spoke with us. In January 2009, the two transportation entities in Kalamazoo which are currently known as Care-A-Van and Metro Transit (which includes the Para transit system called Metro Van) will combine and will be called the Kalamazoo County Transit Authority. Dale explained that the planners do not know exactly how transportation will look for Kalamazoo, which is a bit scary. We plan to have Dale come back and speak with us later in 2008 when further details are known regarding this transportation management change.

We have a new web master for our KCBVI web site. His name is John Hulsebus. John works at Western Michigan University and has developed his own web site related to high school football teams. If you were to ask John the mascot for any Michigan high school football team, I guarantee he knows it! Welcome, John, and thanks for your assistance! Our KCBVI web address is: www.kcbvi.org.