Michigan Council of the Blind and Visually Impaired

Fall 2008

Official Newsletter of the
Michigan Council of the Blind
and Visually Impaired

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 visualimpairment.

Joe Sibley, President
Donna Rose, Editor

Editor's Note: See Membership Committee Report For New Treasurer's address for dues.

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

Contact the editor

From Our incoming president
By Joe Sibley, MCBVI President

Hello good friends! First, I want to express again how honored and humbled I was when you enthusiastically endorsed me as your new president at convention. As of this writing, I have been president for a whole week! Yes, I am just a little intimidated by the task, I have a lot to learn, but we have great people serving in leadership positions. I am excited to be a part of this great team, and look forward to being of service.
I would be remiss if I did not pay proper homage to our immediate past president Michael Geno who thankfully remains on the executive board. If I were to list everything Michael does for the blind and VI community both in and separate from this organization, Donna would have a really long newsletter, and we would have to ship the Braille copies by freight. Suffice it to say, Michael's leadership and service have touched countless lives. Plus I have enjoyed working with him for a number of years now, he's just a great guy, and I am honored to have him as my friend. Many fine individuals preceded Michael in this position as well.
At the convention this year, I was struck by what a great group of people we have. We are a diverse group from across the state, but the fellowship we enjoy is wonderful. We enjoy the social aspects, but there are many people ready to jump into service when needed.
When I lost most of my sight, now more than ten years ago, the best thing I ever did was to get involved with VIPP, and later the state organization. More people need to know about MCBVI and how beneficial it is to be of service, and how each individual benefits from being a part of this fine group. We need to expand our public relations efforts giving us more exposure in the media, and to those who council or medically serve those with vision loss.

We need to reach out to the young people. We need to examine why some chapters are growing, and others are struggling. I hope to visit every chapter in the next year. We have a great thing going on here, and we need to offer it to as many people as we can.
Well, this is getting a little wordy, so I will close by once again thanking everyone who attended the 2008 convention, and the many many hands who helped in any way to make it a success. Group hug!

From The Past President's Desk
By Michael Geno

By the slight change in the title of this column, those who were not at our recently ended 2008 annual convention, are informed of the election of our new President Joe Sibley. New officers also affirmed were, Donna Rose as our first Assistant Treasurer, and Matthew Livingston I recently appointed to serve the remainder of John McMahon's term as Treasurer. Mat's professional skills as an Accountant will help us keep our payments, books, and reporting in good order and up-to-date. While Matt will not be able to attend all Board meetings, Donna will partner closely with him to be sure that checks are written, and vouchers responded to at our face-to-face Board meetings. I also want to congratulate Deb Wild upon her re-election as Secretary for another two year term. I will remain active as immediate Past President, and plan to have a little more time to devote toward our Technology Committee.
Five years ago when Jeanette and I discussed my decision to run for President, we had no idea what additional challenges lay before us. In 2005 we were told that her brain tumor that had been dormant for so many years began growing again. I also was diagnosed with cancer that year requiring surgery, and follow-up treatments. For the next two years our journey took us through unplanned medical tests and treatments and weeks of travel to and from Detroit every day. Now after a second surgery and recent test results, my cancer is not showing signs of activity and Jeanette's tumor has stopped growing. Both of us are regularly checked for changes, and remain hopeful and very thankful for these results. We also deeply appreciate your many kind messages and prayers sent on our behalf. During this time of service and challenge, we witnessed a pulling together of our Leadership Team, and involved members to carry on necessary duties and activities supporting the efforts of MCBVI and my responsibilities as President. We couldn't have experienced the success and growth during my two terms as president without you. The awards I was honored to present at our last convention banquet were well deserved. I wish we could have recognized all of you deserving of our appreciation. I expect that our fine awards program will continue a tradition to highlight at future banquets, more of you who continue to set a fine example of leadership and service to others.
Preparing my final contribution under this column heading, I am reminded of all we have faced and accomplished in the past years. There is so much to celebrate, and so much more to be done to brighten the lives and aspirations of persons who are blind and visually impaired. Joe Sibley and I will be working closely together to maintain our momentum, and continued growth here in Michigan. I urge each of you who regularly read this publication to also support our Leadership Team and hard working committees with your time, financial support, and talents.
Noah's story in the Bible revealed that nobody in the desert was interested in building boats where there was no water and the sun was shining. Then when the rains began and the water rose, the sense and need of that very thing became all too clear. If your life is free from challenges to your freedom or rights to fully participate as a respected citizen, the need to work on protecting those rights and respect may not seem urgent. We need to remain aware that there is always a storm of darkness brewing or actually raging somewhere on this planet in the lives of persons who are blind. We need to get involved, stay active and prepared. Human nature wakens to this wisdom every time there is a loss of electric power in a community. All of a sudden people are interested in finding things they usually don't need or use every day. Where are the flashlights, batteries, candles or matches? If it is already dark when they truly recognize the need for these items, they vow to better prepare the next time it gets light.
The Michigan Council Of The Blind and Visually Impaired along with our national organization and local chapters are good preparation for the storm. There is a great need regarding vision loss, to educate the public, advocate in the courts, and demonstrate success and independence on the job or at home. Don't wait until it rains on your parade to look for an umbrella. When you or someone you know faces all the related challenges of blindness and the public myths and assumptions involved, the MCBVI is that network of friends and support that can help. We are your link to the best ideas and resources that can result in hope, and self confidence, and success. I invite you to take up what skills or tools you have and join us to keep that ark strong and ready to float and shelter through the storms we know will regularly come. Jeanette and I have recently traveled through some of our own personal storms. During our dark times, God's grace and the lights from each of your involved caring hearts helped guide our way and gave us hope. We are truly thankful.

35th annual convention wraps up in September
By Joe Sibley, Convention Committee Chairperson

Success Without Sight, A Vision for the Future was the theme of the 2008 MCBVI convention held September 25-28 at the Howard Johnson Plaza in Wyoming, on the south side of Grand Rapids. As no chapter hosted the convention this year, a statewide planning committee was formed with Joe Sibley, Linda Brown, Tyrone Hamilton, Michael Geno, Jackie Boomstra, and Mike and Sandy Smith.
Events this year included a MoPix movie on Thursday, and a large vendor and exhibit display featuring technology from MEE Inc. and many other exhibitors. Friday afternoon activities were open to the public and included well attended presentations by Michelle Visscher from MCB, and Carlos Gallusser from leader dogs for the blind. Friday evening new officers were voted in by acclimation including Joe Sibley as the new president, Deb Wild returning as secretary, and Donna Rose the new assistant treasurer. The annual auction with Kyle Austin raised 926 dollars to help with convention expenses. Mike & Sandy Smith then offered Karaoke with lyrics available in Braille and large print.
Saturday featured sessions on transit with Dave Bulkowski and Casey Dutmer, an MCBVI board presentation on your rights and responsibilities if approached by a law officer, technology and more thoughts by Mike Ellis, and voting rights by Tom Masseu. Mike Ellis also donated a Victor Stream and 3 sets of computer speakers to auction off for an additional 342 dollars of income.
Saturday night's banquet featured an inspiring keynote address from Lowell Miller, a blind pastor now in Ohio, but who served many years at a Hudsonville church. After the banquet Greg Brayton, a nationally known blind musician entertained.
Sunday morning George Illingworth conducted the annual memorial service, and the business meeting wrapped up activities.
Many helping hands from VIPP members and other volunteers From the area and statewide pitched in to make this year's convention a success. The decision was made at the business meeting to accept a two year offer from the Howard Johnson Plaza to host the convention based on modest costs and outstanding hospitality this year, and in years past. The 2009 convention is tentatively scheduled for the second weekend in October.

MCBVI 2008 Resolutions
by Chris Schumacher, Chairperson

The following resolutions were adopted at the 2008 MCBVI convention:

WHEREAS, having textbooks in an accessible format so that they can be read independently without needing the assistance of sighted readers and thereby also eliminating some of the cost for a student's education when sighted readers are hired; and
WHEREAS, the ability to read and take notes on such materials at the student's leisure without having to consider the schedule and time constraints of a sighted reader; and
WHEREAS, receiving materials in a timely manner so that class assignments can be prepared accordingly is a desire of all blind and visually impaired students; and
WHEREAS, having skilled volunteer readers enhances the listening experience for the student; and
WHEREAS, Recordings For The Blind and Dyslexic has been recording textbooks at its unit in Michigan since 1958;

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED by the Michigan Council of the Blind and Visually Impaired in convention assembled at the Howard Johnson Plaza Hotel in Wyoming, Michigan, on Sunday, September 28, 2008, that this organization wishes to heartily congratulate and express its appreciation to the Michigan Unit of Recordings For The Blind and Dyslexic for 50 years of outstanding service to blind and visually impaired students.

WHEREAS, the American Printing House For The Blind (APH) was founded in 1858 in Louisville, Kentucky, and is the oldest organization of its kind in the United States; and
WHEREAS, this organization has received federal support every year since President Rutherford B. Hayes signed the Act to Promote the Education of the Blind in 1879; and
WHEREAS, its mission statement is to "promote independence of blind and visually impaired persons by providing specialized materials, products, and services needed for education and life"; and
WHEREAS, APH is the world's largest nonprofit organization creating educational, workplace, and independent living products and services for people who are blind and visually impaired; and
WHEREAS, APH offers accessible teaching, learning, and recreational products including audio books and computer software; and
WHEREAS, these services have highly impacted the lives of the
blind and visually impaired for the past 150 years;

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED by the Michigan Council of the Blind and Visually Impaired in convention assembled at the Howard Johnson Plaza Hotel in Wyoming, Michigan, on Sunday, September 28, 2008, that this organization wishes to express its appreciation for all of the work of the American Printing House and sends its warmest congratulations on 150 years of outstanding service to the blind and visually impaired.

MCBVI Resolution 2008-03
WHEREAS, the Detroit Radio Information Service (DRIS) has provided a vital news and information resource since 1978 which is accessed by blind and print handicapped persons using dedicated radio receivers and internet streaming of broadcasts in southeastern Michigan; and
WHEREAS, each year DRIS airs 760 hours of continuous programming and information not otherwise accessible to the blind and print handicapped such as local and national newspapers, magazines, popular books, and currently published printed information; and
WHEREAS, volunteers read more than 100 newspapers and magazines during 120 different broadcast programs each week; and WHEREAS, Many DRIS listeners prefer radio broadcasts of live human voices reading printed information not immediately available to the blind and older Americans who are not able to read printed publications; and
WHEREAS, DRIS also has offered unique rehabilitation programming including a call-in support group reaching thousands of metro Detroit residents in their homes, senior centers, and care facilities; and
WHEREAS, DRIS provides a cost-effective method of support and recognition of every citizen's right to have equal access to the same quality and quantity of information commonly available to the sighted public; and
WHEREAS, DRIS volunteers annually contribute some 6,000 hours (worth $90,000) combined with radio station WDET and Wayne State University contributions of facilities and administration worth more than $52,000; and
WHEREAS, radio information services of this type bring together special population communities with important information, helpful resources, and mutual encouragement;

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED by the Michigan Council of the Blind and Visually Impaired in convention assembled at the Howard Johnson Plaza Hotel in Wyoming, Michigan, on Sunday, September 28, 2008, that the membership of this organization along with thankful Detroit Radio Information Service listeners applaud and celebrate he tremendous contribution DRIS has made and is making to inform and encourage DRIS listeners; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that blind and print handicapped consumers of DRIS and similar radio information services encourage the public and funding sources about the tremendous success and positive influence dedicated radio information service programs bring to their daily lives; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization circulate this resolution as a public record of our deep appreciation and recognition of the countless volunteer hours freely given along with the financial contributions of supporters and dedicated professionals who have made this vital alternative service accessible to the blind and print handicapped.

WHEREAS, the staff of the Howard Johnson Plaza Hotel in Wyoming, Michigan, has provided necessary services and important accommodations to the members of the Michigan Council of the Blind and Visually Impaired (MCBVI)

attending their 2008 convention; and
WHEREAS, this organization has had several excellent convention experiences with this facility; and
WHEREAS, the hotel staff have been friendly and most helpful to all convention attendees; and
WHEREAS, the success of a convention is dependent upon the quality of services provided by the hotel;

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED by the Michigan Council of the Blind and Visually Impaired in convention assembled at the Howard Johnson Plaza Hotel in Wyoming, Michigan, on Sunday, September 28, 2008, that this organization express its thanks and appreciation for the services and accommodations provided to its members by the Howard Johnson Plaza Hotel staff.

WHEREAS, the handling of arrangements for a Michigan Council of the Blind and Visually Impaired (MCBVI) convention is a mammoth undertaking; and
WHEREAS, the convention committee has met every challenge in hosting the 2008 MCBVI convention in Wyoming, Michigan, and, through committee members and volunteers, has welcomed and assisted MCBVI members in a friendly and courteous manner;

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED by the Michigan Council of the Blind and Visually Impaired in convention assembled at the Howard Johnson Plaza Hotel in Wyoming, Michigan, on Sunday, September 28, 2008, that this organization wholeheartedly thank and commend Joe Sibley and the Convention Committee and volunteers for their excellent work.

Mike's Victor Reader Stream Review
In August ACB Forum
By Donna Rose

Did you notice that Mike Geno had a great review on the Victor Reader Stream printed in the Braille Forum in August 2008? If you missed it you can read it by going to the ACB web site, www.acb.org. His review discusses the functions, uses and improvements which could be made to this device in the future. It is an excellent overview.
I just purchased mine from Mike Ellis who provided it with an 8gb SD card and a very nice leather holder with a strap for $375. I wear the device around my neck for easily listening while out and about. It has completely improved the amount of reading I do, and makes waiting for rides and doctor appointments a lot more enjoyable.
To subscribe to a one-way low traffic email newswire about the Stream you can register at: http://www.humanware.ca/stream_news_form_en/

New No Expiration On
Do Not Call Registry

Editor's Note: This information is taken directly from the Do
Not Call website.
The National Do Not Call Registry gives you a choice about whether to receive telemarketing calls at home. Most telemarketers should not call your number once it has been on the registry for 31 days. If they do, you can file a complaint at www.donotcall.gov. You can register or remove your home or mobile phone for free at this website as well, or by calling (1-888-382-1222). You can also verify if your number is registered or remove it by visiting the website.
Your registration will no longer expire. Telephone numbers placed on the National Do Not Call Registry will remain on it permanently due to the Do-Not-Call Improvement Act of 2007, which became law in February 2008. Read more about it at, www.ftc.gov/opa/2008/04/dncfyi.shtm
The National Do Not Call Registry is managed by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the nation's consumer protection agency.

VIPP Co-Hosts Community CruiseFest
By Joe Sibley, MCBVI President

Visually Impaired Persons for Progress (VIPP) teamed up with Bridge The Gap Ministries, another non-profit organization in an ambitious new project in August. Community CruiseFest was a new two day event that coincided with the fourth annual 28th Street Metro Cruise which draws about 12,000 classic and custom cars and about 200,000 people to 15 miles of 28th street through five cities. Community CruiseFest was held in the parking lot of Studio 28, a 20 screen theatre in Wyoming. There were food vendors, live entertainment, activities for kids, and a road rally with great prizes. The event was designed to be both a fund raiser, and a community outreach for VIPP and Bridge The Gap which is working to open a center for teens that will include activities, counseling and much more. Although attendance numbers were a little below projections, the first year event was considered a success. "It was a great event" said Lisa Weber, VIPP president. "The hundreds of people that came through had nothing but good things to say". There were some minor behind the scenes issues, including electrical problems, and a pouring rain Friday morning during setup, and Saturday evening. A number of people visited the VIPP booth, inquiring about blindness issues. "We have a list of things to improve on for next year" said Weber" and we have more time on our side. We built a solid foundation for next year".
Stage entertainment included a variety of music, jazz, rock, Christian, and hip hop. Nationally known gospel hip hop artist George Moss closed out the entertainment Saturday night after the rain let up to an enthusiastic crowd.
Other sponsors for CruiseFest included Studio 28, Meijer, and Backyard Grillmasters BBQ.

Community Cruise Fest
A Volunteer's Point of View
By Deb Wild, MCBVI Secretary

Several of us from Visually Impaired Persons for Progress (VIPP and Bridge the Gap Ministries and other organizations served as volunteers at this major event on Friday and Saturday, August 22 and 23. An incredible amount of work was done by the leaders of this undertaking and sighted volunteers who helped in any way they could, from helping us get around, setting up and taking down things, moving tables, on and on it goes. Many folks worked both Friday and Saturday.
There were several pit stops along the road rally site where we sat with a sighted partner. At my first sitting we had a rally group of three ladies and another group of two ladies. At each stop the rally participants answered a question or completed a task as part of their challenge or puzzle. Each individual received a small gift and one color sticker for a correct answer or another color for incorrect answers. Their stickers had to be signed or initialed to verify their participation. At our stop they had to figure out what our Braille message said. "Community Cruise Fest." The words of course were not printed on the Braille message, but there was a printed and brailed alphabet from which they could study and compare letters. They would then move on in their cars to the next stop. At my second location we had no rally visitors.

The paratransit driver with whom I rode Saturday morning said he and his sons on Friday saw the Batmobile in mint condition! We were facing 28th Street, so old cars, like Corvettes, muscle cars, one old car with an aruga type horn, lots of motorcycles, and all kinds of traffic was going by. One lady said she saw a Rolls Royce. We all wished we could see those classic cars and trucks as they passed! Our small road rally was part of another major event going on where old and classic cars were riding up and down an approximately 15 mile stretch of 28 Street. Expressways were a mess too with all the backed-up traffic and work being done on the lanes. Paratransit drivers had their hands full getting to us! Kudos to Ken Weber who shuttled us to our various stops.
Back at our headquarters there was always music playing, thanks to bands that performed and material Joe Sibley and his partner put together, along with food vendors. I almost chickened out, but I am glad I had a change of heart thanks to a long talk with Lisa Weber. There was a great sense of excitement and fun in the air.

Bits & Bytes

If you have access to a computer the following web sites may be of interest to you. Editors Note: Items listed below are not necessarily endorsed by MCBVI.

Need to compare which new cell phones will be the most accessible to you as a person who is blind? Then you will want to visit Accessible Phones at: www.accessiblephones.com for details on phones to fit every need.

Have you wondered about buying a home and whether there are any special mortgage options for those with disabilities? Then you will want to visit, www.mortgageloan.com/disabilities/ for a guide outlining the purchase of a home for people with disabilities.

Need to learn better ways to search the web? WebVisum is a unique and free Firefox add on which greatly enhances web accessibility. Its aim is to allow you to better enjoy surfing the net and be significantly less dependent upon outside help. Visit www.webvisum.com/ for more information about this free product.

Want a free internet tutorial? Visit, www.divshare.com/download/5046375-ece for one produced by Gene Asner. He used to charge for this and is no longer offering support for it, but it is free.

Jobs From Home
By Donna Rose, Editor

The following are some websites you may want to checkout if you are interested in working from home. I received them from the ACB Human Services listserve from a reliable person. I have not checked them out myself.

Editor's Note: MCBVI doesn't necessarily endorse the following information.

This website lists an extensive employer's directory listing jobs by category. Visit www.homeworkersnet.com

Then there is:
www.SOJOjobs.org and

Let us know if you visit these websites and what your opinion might be about them.

A New Model for an Old Device
Perkins School for the Blind

Fifty Seven years after the launch of the original Perkins Brailler, we are introducing the NEW Next Generation Perkins Brailler. Initially the Next Generation model will be for sale only in the United States and only through American Printing House for the Blind or Perkins Products.
The Next Generation Perkins Brailler retains all of the features that made the Classic Perkins Brailler the most widely used braille writer in the world, plus incorporates new features users have been asking for. This Next Generation Perkins Brailler is: More portable due to its lighter weight and smaller size. More comfortable to use with a shorter keystroke and less force required, and quieter.

New features and improvements in the Next Generation Perkins Brailler include:
Easy-Erase Button so you can correct mistakes while brailling
Reading Rest so you can proofread the page with ease
Front Panel Margin Guides so you don't have to reach around the
Greener construction through the use of less oil and manufactured
Modern colors and a sleek, new design

This brailler was developed with support from the American Printing House for the Blind. In recognition of this, braillers sold in the United States for the first six months may be ordered exclusively through APH or Perkins

Products and will be available only in APH Blue. In April 2009, the new brailler will be available through our resellers in the United States.
We are planning the international launch of the Next Generation Perkins Brailler for early 2009. At that time we will make available a list of international resellers who will be selling the Next Generation Perkins Brailler.
We invite you to visit PerkinsBrailler.org to learn more about the new brailler and the enhancements we have made. Also, listen to and download the Next Generation song, written by Raul Midn for the Next Generation Perkins Brailler. All of us at Perkins are truly committed to braille literacy and we are honored to support children and adults in learning and using braille in their daily lives. After working diligently on the reengineering of the Perkins Brailler for two years, we are excited to offer the Next Generation Perkins Brailler and look forward to hearing from you.

Better Education for Blind
and Visually Impaired Children

Submitted by Commissioner Geri Taeckens, MCB board liaison to the education coalition
The quality of education for many of Michigan's blind and visually impaired children has been a concern of parents, students, educators, and blind and visually impaired adults. On 9-19-08, the Michigan Commission for the Blind held a panel discussion on this very topic during the afternoon session of the quarterly board meeting. This panel consisted of two parents of blind children, Gwen Botting, President of Michigan Parents of Children with Visual Impairments, Lydia Schuck, Quest for Success coordinator for Camp TUHSMEHETA, Shaun Williams, blind student and participant of MCB Summer program, Maria Peak, Eaton County ISD Transition Coordinator, Shawnese Laury-Johnson, MCB Rehab Counselor for transitioning blind youth, and Leamon Jones, MCB Director of Consumer Services.
Areas discussed: What is going well in terms of education for our blind children? What are the existing needs? What are potential solutions?
Many wonderful experiences and ideas were shared by panel members and participants from the audience. The goal to develop a coalition to address the needs of educating blind and visually impaired children was established. Pat Cannon, director of the Michigan Commission for the Blind offered the agencies support in this effort.
The results of this meeting were shared with over two hundred participants in the annual MCPVI retreat on 9-26-08. Collette Bauman, director of Michigan Low Incidence Outreach program, her colleague Pat Love, and Elizabeth Bauer from the Michigan Dept. of Ed, are also in support of this endeavor.
Further information on how individuals can become involved will be announced in the near future. You can check the MCB web site, join the list serve, or contact Commissioner Geri Taeckens, MCB board liaison to the education coalition at, geri.taeckens@isahealthfund.org or call her at (906) 632-4565.

American's With Disabilities Act
Technical Assistance
Available On CD ROM

If you have ever wondered about your rights under the ADA, there is new information available to you. The US Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division has issued an updated version of their TA CD ROM. This CD ROM contains Regulations, Technical Assistance Documents and ADA Status Reports. You can order a copy on-line at, http://www.ada.gov/cd%20order%20forms/cdrequestform.htm or call the DOJ TA Line at 800 514-0301 (voice) or 800 514-0383 (TTY).
There are also a number of helpful brochures available in HTML and Acrobat PDF format. All documents are also provided in WordPerfect and text formats. A large amount of updated ADA information can be found by visiting www.ada.gov. From your rights as an employee to how hotels can make their services more accessible to people with vision loss, you will find a large variety of helpful guidance and regulatory compliance documents at this link.

Michigan Commission for the Blind
Job Openings
Submitted by Bob Robertson

Three vacant MCB positions have been posted on the Michigan Department of Civil Service website. The link below will take you to the list of all posted jobs in state government and you will need to scroll down a ways to find the three for MCB: http://web1mdcs.state.mi.us/vacancyweb/VaancyInq.asp
One is a Rehabilitation Counselor in our Lansing Regional Office, another is a Blind Rehabilitation Instructor at the Training Center in Kalamazoo, and the third one is a Trades Instructor at the Training Center. More information about each position, including an updated position description, as well as the instructions for applying can be found on the posting at the website.

My Opinion: Social Security
Debit Card Not A Sound Investment
By Donna Rose, Editor

You may have learned that Social Security has contracted with a private company to offer a debit Master Card as an option for you to receive Social Security or Supplemental Security Income Benefits. I foresee some problems with these cards, particularly with fees which will be attached to them. Once a month your debit card would be recharged with your benefit funds for you to use as you wish. The card would have the Master Card logo on it. I would strongly recommend instead that individuals use direct deposit for their benefit checks from Social Security. Even though you do not have to have a bank account to use one of these cards, a bank or credit union will offer you more services for free with your checking account. For example, if you want to pay a bill using your loaded benefit debit card you will pay .50 for each one. A credit union will offer this bill pay service for free, either on the website or via phone, and many of their websites are accessible to screen readers so you can bank and pay bills independently. Although this debit card is advertised as free to use, there are actually limits on how many withdrawals and other transactions you can make before being charged each month. I can only imagine what could happen if this card gets lost or stolen. And for people on lower incomes, will they be able to keep close enough track on their remaining funds so as not to run out of money too early in the month? Many checking accounts will offer you interest on even smaller balances, so for my money I believe direct deposit is a much better investment. If you are trying to establish good credit a relationship with a bank or credit union is essential. Just a note, I have discovered you get a lot more services and much lower fees at a credit union and your deposits are insured as with other financial institutions, currently up to $100,000 per account. And either a bank or a credit union will offer you the option of receiving a debit card attached to your checking account with most of these protected in case of fraudulent use.

Alert To All Concerned Citizens,
by Michael Geno

"We are Appalled at the depiction of blindness in this film!" The movie "Blindness" just released is a serious attack on the dignity of humanity. It gashes at the respectability of people who experience vision loss. The disgusting portrayal in this film of the average person after loosing sight is worse than insulting because it vividly suggests negative myths and helpless depravity whenever vision is absent. It suggests that blindness is contagious, reducing those who are blind to depraved selfish abusive animals without morals or concern for others. Those who may have little experience or knowledge about living with vision loss, may assume the propaganda about blindness in this movie to be believable. The circumstances in the plot tug at more than the imagination. The sick producers of this film are promoting fear and misconception often assumed by the sighted who close their eyes and speculate what it might be like if blindness occurred. Without the knowledge and reality of adjustment and training, viewers who even buy into a small part of this film's scenario, may project that nastiness onto people they meet who are blind.
In the play "The Miracle Worker," Helen Keller is more than blind and deaf. At first she is a small child uncivilized, and isolated. Her behavior and skills improve with training and understanding. By contrast the adults depicted in the movie "Blindness" seem to lose so much more than their sight. The premise in this film is that vision is the only thing that separates civilized adults from behaving like depraved selfish animals.
I would be outraged even if I were not blind. This film is more than an imaginative lie. It is brutally abusive toward human kind in general. Disguised as entertainment, producers of this film called "Blindness" slash mercilessly at the common character of mankind, and rape the spirit of humanity. While blindness is used as a triggering threat, the nauseating idea behind this misleading film defecates on the common sense and dignity of all humanity.
Respond to the twisted ingrates who gambled on such trash making them money with the outrage they deserve. Do more than avoid the stench of this film. Contact all involved in the entertainment business and challenge the distribution and showing of this terrible movie. Call the ACB national office at 800 424-8666 for more information. Then contact your local churches, government leaders, and neighbors who need to know about the ugly worm this film crawls on. Snuff flicks are pornographic depictions of the abusive murder of children. This film knocks at that same door, and our failure to react now to the filth that it is, will only open this door to worse.
Editor's Note: In its first weekend out in theaters the movie Blindness was a huge flop, coming in last for box office sales. ACB and NFB are commended for their quick action to educate the public through press releases and theater gatherings to hand out educational information to patrons attending the film.

Braille Challenge 2009
By Charis Austin

Please consider being a sponsor of the Michigan Regional Braille Challenge, a program of the Braille Institute. When we support literacy we seldom think Braille, yet for thousands Braille is the path to literacy. Your support will benefit Braille students, grades 1 through 12, in an exciting day long event. The students will compete in reading speed, spelling, comprehension, proof reading, grammar, charts & graphs and more.
On Saturday, February 14, 2009 the Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired will host the Michigan Regional Braille Challenge in Grand Rapids. The Braille Challenge is a two-stage academic competition designed to motivate school-age Braille readers to excel in this vital medium. Everyone can compete in this regional challenge with the top students eligible to attend the National Competition in Los Angeles in June. Our aim is to build their enthusiasm through this family oriented event as this competition can be a great motivator for all Braille-reading students. As a sponsor your company/organization will be listed in the program and in any advertising, announced at meal time, and shared at the closing awards ceremony. Sponsors over $999 will also be listed in all advertising for the event. The budget for this event is just over $4,500 plus awards and prizes. We are looking for sponsors to insure a quality event with fun and class. Can we count on you??We will require many volunteers to make the day go smoothly. Perhaps some of your associates would be willing to spend a Saturday being amazed by Michigan's children who are visually impaired.
To be a sponsor or to volunteer you are invited to e-mail Charis Austin at caaustin@abvimichigan.org or call her at 616-458-1187 or 800-466-8084 Ext. 328. You will be contacted for your level of sponsorship, volunteer names, or answers to any questions you may have.

Committee Reports

Membership by Donna Rose
Outgoing Chairperson

In 2008 we had 161 members enjoying the benefits of MCBVI. We passed out membership pins at our 2007 convention and chapters are encouraged to request pins as needed for new members who have not received them.
Charis Austin will be our new membership chairperson. You will send your 2009 dues to Matt Livingston, our newly appointed state treasurer. His address is:

All Needs Accounting
Matt Livingston
7751 Lakeshore Road
Lakeport, MI 48059

It will be helpful to put a note inside the envelope stating the name of your chapter with your dues list and that your dues are for MCBVI. Charis will be handling membership for 2009, so you will need to get your dues into Matt no later than Feb 15, so she will have time to prepare the list for ACB. It might be helpful to Charis as well to use your membership list from last year and use the following codes before each name to indicate changes.

*COA = Change of Address, email or phone
*DEL = Delete this member
*Dec - Deceased Member
*CF = Change Format
*NEW = New Member

It has been a pleasure working on this important job for the past four years, but as you all know I am a bit burned out on it and glad to pass it on to someone else. Contact Charis if you would like to help with this committee.

Her phone number is: 616-532-4737. Eventually she will probably be assigned a toll free number. An updated contact list of the leadership team will be provided in a future issue.

Publication Committee
By Donna Rose, Chairperson

New members will start receiving their newsletters in 2009. Please make sure you offer the email option to all members when they renew their membership. The email version is extremely cost effective. We will still offer Braille, large print and audio cassettes as well. The Braille Forum is no longer available in disk format, but can now be received via email.
The deadline for the winter newsletter will be January 31, 2009. Please send all reports and chapter updates to me by that time with contact info. If you have a person in your chapter who deserves special recognition please submit a short article about them. One will be chosen each issue for publication.

Public Relations
Donna Rose, Chairperson

A press release went out to twenty four Michigan newspapers and a few radio stations prior to our convention. In early October I distributed an ACB press release to these same sources regarding the movie, `Blindness'.
In the upcoming year we will work diligently to bring information to the public about MCBVI and our local chapters. Joe is planning to visit each chapter and hopefully we can work to re-establish those in places where they have disbanded. We will also increase our contact with the Michigan Parents of the Visually Impaired. If you would like to be a part of this effort please contact me at 517-333-9117.

Chapter Updates
Blue Water League Of The Blind
Port Huron Michigan
By Jeanette Geno President

Hello from the BWL! In July the Blue Water League shared a summer pizza and ice cream social with visitors and new members. In August we held a pool party at one of our member's homes. Because they had to take down their pool early, we kept cool with iced drinks and great picnic food. More fun and fellowship was enjoyed by all at another picnic shared with a local area Lions club in September.
We also sent ten of our members in September to the MCBVI convention in Wyoming Michigan this year. All reported having a good time. I couldn't attend the convention this year with them, but, I wanted to thank all involved with presenting a plaque to Michael at the conclusion of his second term as president. I know that he always puts his heart into everything he does for the MCBVI, and will continue to do so. All in the BWL express our Thanks and send our best wishes to incoming president Joe Sibley, and new assistant Treasurer Donna Rose.
October finds us busy with a meeting of our Book Talkers Club, followed the next week by our annual Harvest Party. In November we will celebrate Thanksgiving with our Canadian friends with a traditional catered dinner. wrapping up the Christmas season in December we look forward to sharing our annual Christmas party with our Lions friends. Until my next report, we in the BWL wish each of you a blessed Fall and Holiday season.

Capital Area Council
By Donna Rose, President

Our chapter had two game nights earlier in the summer where we shared a meal and had tables with members playing Skipbo, Black Jack and Hearts. We have been meeting in the back area of a quaint little restaurant called the Gone Wired Caf‚ in Lansing. The owner, Colleen, has been very generous and helpful. Her business is centrally located for all of us and is on a major bus line which many of our members use.
Six members from Lansing attended the September state convention and we all had a blast. We would like to raise more funds to sponsor other members who are low income for next year. At the convention we sold $150 in knives and soup mixes. We still have more, so contact me if you want to purchase them for $6 a piece. They make great gifts. We have baked potato soup mix and cheddar broccoli soup which require adding four cups of water and bringing them to a boil. We also have a black bean chili which requires adding a pound of ground beef and a couple of other ingredients. And we are still selling the paring knives which come in storable plastic containers and which are extremely sharp.
Our upcoming plans include our Christmas party on December 2nd, a Michigan Princess cruise in the spring, game nights, possible bingo party and a summer 2009 picnic.

Detroit Northwest Chapter
By Chris Schumacher, President

Due to scheduling and transportation issues, all of our summer meetings were conference calls. The main focus of those meetings was our trip to Grand Rapids for the MCBVI convention. Nine members of our chapter attended, and a good time was had by all. We would especially like to thank the Royal Oak Lions Club for their generous donation that enabled us to use a van from the Salvation Army. Also, a big thank you goes out to our chapter members Mike and Sandy Smith for all their hard work in providing the musical entertainment for the convention, Mike for the music and Sandy for brailing all the words to those karaoke songs. At our next meeting we will be discussing future plans for our chapter, election of officers, etc. Have a wonderful holiday season!

Kalamazoo Council of the Blind
By Sherry Gordon

The KCBVI had our annual picnic just a bit late this year. We actually had a picnic at Lisa Kisiel's home for our September meeting. All 15 in attendance had a lot of great food to eat and enjoyed great camaraderie!!
On October 19, we will be going to VerHague's Orchard for our annual supply of apples, cider and donuts. That is always a great trip and very pleasing to the palate!! We will also pick up some Halloween table decorations like pumpkins, gourds, etc.
In November, we will hold our annual membership meeting, followed in December with our annual Christmas party. At this time we do not yet have a date for our Christmas party.