December 2010

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 visual impairment.

Joe Sibley, President

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:

Contact the Editor:
Donna Rose
Toll Free: 877-254-6397

Editor’s Note:  To keep costs down please do not use our toll free numbers if you have flat rate long distance services.  Thanks!

From the President
By Joe Sibley

Well, we’re getting ready to wrap up 2010 and it’s been a busy year. We have faced some challenges, but have made some progress in many areas as well. As I reflect on the past year and contemplate 2011 I am struck by how proud I am of this organization and the diverse group of amazing people that are its members.

The 2010 convention is history and what a tremendous event it was. Convention is absolutely one of my favorite events of the whole year, mainly because I enjoy the fellowship of our members. We had a great program, a great banquet with Tim Skubick challenging us all, and a very productive business meeting. We welcomed many visitors from outside the organization who gave me very positive feedback on the convention and our membership. I want to thank again Kyle Austin and the many many hands that made this convention a great success. We successfully audio streamed our convention for the second year thanks to the hard work of Mike Smith and Michael Geno. We also received great feedback from those that listened in. 

Next year is a huge year for our convention as we move it to Lansing for three years at the Causeway Bay Hotel and Conference Center. This is a beautiful facility which will give us more flexibility to try new things. We will be working very hard to think out of the box to bring in many people that might not be familiar with MCBVI. In lieu of a convention chair I am appointing a committee to plan and oversee the convention. Right now Donna Rose and Lisa Weber will be coordinating the committee with Sharon Dutmer serving as business manager handling the finances. If you didn’t hear my announcement at convention, Mitch Pomerantz the president of the American Council of the Blind will be our keynote speaker. I am very excited to welcome Mitch back to Michigan. Please make plans now to join us, October 6 thru 9, 2011, especially if you have never attended a state convention, or if it has been a while.

The next few months will be very interesting in Michigan as Governor Snyder takes office. I’m sure many things will be adjusted and it is our responsibility to make our voices heard both to the new governor and our legislators. There is always the possibility of adjustments to the Michigan Commission for the Blind, and we need to advocate that it is more productive to have the MCB continue to exist as a standalone agency, not merged with other rehabilitation services. Always keep in mind that MCBVI promotes positivity and dialogue, not rudeness or attacks.

So, let’s take a moment to look back at our accomplishments as an organization, look over the areas where we need to improve, stand shoulder to shoulder and push ahead to make 2011 a great year for MCBVI! On behalf of Mary and myself, I hope you all have a very blessed holiday season and enjoy a wonderful new year!

Save the Date
MCBVI 2011 State Convention October 6th – 9th 

Mark your 2011 calendars for the Michigan Council of the Blind annual statewide convention to be held in Lansing on October 6th – 9th.  Plans include a walk-a-thon to raise money for future activities, scholarships and other expenses.  Once again the agenda will include interesting topics, and our banquet will feature Mitch Pomerantz, president of the American Council of the Blind.  If you would like to volunteer to be on the committee please contact convention coordinators Donna Rose, or Lisa Weber.  We will require a lot of help from members statewide to pull this wonderful event together.

Help Reading Box Directions
From Penny Reeder via Email 

If you are a computer user the following information may prove to be quite useful.

A new service from non-profit organization Horizons for the Blind
called directionsforme is a free online database that lets you look up package instructions and other information.  Through a licensing agreement with Gladson, a seller of product databases, directionsforme features more than 300,000 products in food, health and beauty and general merchandise categories. It provides preparation directions, nutrition facts, ingredients, allergy and drug interaction warnings and more. Users are encouraged to contact companies to add their products to the database.    Visit this easy to use website at,

Michigan’s Seedlings Braille Books Available For Loan
Submitted “By Charis Austin

Seedlings Braille Books For Children has print -&- braille books available for loan at the Michigan Department of Education's Low Incidence Outreach Division (MDE-LIO) through our ABCs for VIPs (Visually Impaired Preschoolers) Program.  This wonderful program was made possible by a grant from Art Van Furniture an  has allowed us to make over 1,000 braille books available for loan to teachers, schools, libraries and parents throughout the state. With access to a large pool of braille books, teachers have the materials needed to encourage early braille reading, libraries have books available for ALL children, and parents are able to nurture the love of reading at home.  This is a great opportunity for schools, libraries and families to obtain braille books on a loan basis. Upon receipt of the application, MDE-LIO will send a collection of 25 braille books, which are available to loan for a 3 month period. 

To request a collection of books, visit the link: and click on the “Request Form”.

Accessible Free Annual Credit Reports Now Available
Submitted By Gary Wood

Have You Ordered an Accessible Credit Report Recently?  As a result of ACB's structured negotiations efforts, credit reports are currently available in accessible formats from all three credit reporting companies in the United States.  Everyone is entitled to one free report from each company every 12 months, for a total of three free reports per 12-month period.  You can order your credit report in Braille, large print, or audio CD formats by calling toll-free 1-877-322-8228.  This is an automated system.  You will need to speak or use your telephone keypad to provide your name, mailing address, Social Security number and date of birth. If you call from your home telephone number, they will already have some of this information and ask you to confirm their records. 
After providing the identifying information, you will be asked "if you require your free annual credit report in a format accessible to the visually impaired, press or say 1."  You will then hear the following: "To certify that you are a person who is blind or visually impaired within the meaning of the Americans with Disabilities Act, press or say 1."
Everyone who certifies that they are blind or visually impaired will next hear "Please choose the format you would like to receive your credit report in. For large print, press or say 1.  For Braille, press or say 2.  For audio, press or say 3."  Then, after choosing the company you want to get your first report from, you will be finished.  You may order all three reports at the same time, or you may spread your requests over the 12 months. 
You can also get your free credit report on-line by going to the official credit report web site at:  

Editor’s Note:  I tried three times to get my online report and finally did get it.  You have to call a phone number to get the capta numeric code, enter it and then you will have access to your report.

If you have any problems obtaining an accessible credit report, or want to let Lainey and Linda know about your experience, please contact them by e-mail at:
or through the toll-free telephone number at Linda's office, 1-800-822-5000.  You can read more about ACB's accessible credit report agreement on Lainey's web site at:

Michigan Ski For Light – Jan. 14 -16
Submitted by Kevin Ridsdale

It is time to plan for another fun weekend at Higgins Lake where we will be staying at the Ralph A. MacMullen Conference Center. The Michigan Ski for Light regional rally / race takes place January 14, 15, 16, 2011.  The cost of this year's event is $138 (double occupancy) for the weekend, which includes meals and lodging. New this year we have a limited number of rooms in the Straits at $183.(double occupancy) per person.  Ski rentals if needed for the weekend event is $26.00 (must be booked 2 weeks in advance).  If we do not have your application with ski rental information by January 4th, you will be asked to rent your own skis.  Also, MSFL is providing transportation to the event from strategic locations for a $15.00 fee.  Please note transportation seating is limited. Complete the registration form early to reserve a ride.  The above cost includes a $20.00 membership fee. If you are not planning to attend this year's event but would like to remain a member and stay on the mailing list, please send your $20 membership fee to the address below.

The event is based around guide/skier pairings. A visually- impaired skier will be paired with a guide for the weekend. Mobility- impaired skiers will be provided with a sit ski and a guide for instructions. The skiers and their guides will navigate the different ski areas, depending on the ability of the skier. (Note: visually-impaired and mobility-impaired persons are also referred to as skiers and participants.  Registration starts at 3:00 PM on Friday, and a buffet supper is available as people continue to arrive. The official opening by Kevin Risdale, President of Michigan Ski for Light is at 7:15 PM.

To register you can visit the web site and fill out the appropriate form:, or use the following contact information.
Michigan Ski For Light, 32900 Hees, Livonia, MI 48150
phone: 248-210-3154, alt: 734-513-5423

Sleep Disorder Study Needs help from those Who Are Blind
Submitted by Christian Lavedan

Vanda Pharmaceuticals, a biotech company from Maryland, is currently
conducting a clinical study to test a new experimental treatment for
individuals who are blind and suffer from a sleep disorder known as
Non-24 Hour Sleep Wake Disorder. In the US, this disorder affects
approximately 65,000 totally blind individuals, because they lack the light sensitivity necessary to reset their body clock.  Below is an announcement regarding this study which is conducted in several locations including in Michigan.

Clinical Research Study Recruitment

Blind individuals with no light perception needed.

A local doctor is conducting research to evaluate a new investigational
treatment for insomnia and daytime sleepiness in individuals who are
totally blind.

Individuals may qualify who:
* are between 18 and 75 years of age
* are blind with no light perception
* have trouble sleeping at night or experience daytime sleepiness

Participants will be compensated for their time and effort and will
receive study medication and study-related medical evaluation at no
cost.  For more information Call 1-888-389-7033 M-F 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM ET.

Committee Reports

By Donna Rose, Chairperson

I love putting together this newsletter, but I have to admit it is becoming a frustrating burden as I try to get support from many of our members to submit reports and chapter updates on time.  Only a handful of people cooperate.  The newsletter is time consuming, and its production is costly.  I don’t know if people are reading it either.  I just know the interest in providing material to me is waning.  I take a lot of time to try and provide information you might not see elsewhere, so I think it can be a useful tool.  If you want a newsletter you need to help out, or communicate your desire not to have an organizational newsletter to the executive board.  Remember guidelines prohibit me from copying articles already published in other publications.  

Public Relations
By Donna Rose, Chairperson

I am in the process of reworking our MCBVI brochure to include a picture of someone reading Braille on the front.  I should have a price for printing it or doing it on my own printer by our January board meeting.  I am also hoping to buy some card stock and make business cards for at least the executive committee and other committee chairs who deal with the public.  We are hoping to have a walk-a-thon at the state convention next October, so these cards will be useful as we try and gather support from local businesses and corporations.  Such an event can be very helpful to our organization’s public relations efforts.

By Chris Schumacher, Chairperson

The resolutions voted on and passed at the 2010 MCBVI state convention are listed in their entirety at the end of this newsletter.

Chapter Updates

Blue Water League Of The Blind – Port Huron Area
  By Jeanette Geno BWL President
The BWL enjoyed for the second year a successful Fall camp outing for 3 days at Silver Trails woods.  Highlights included fireside ghost stories, and a class providing us with an opportunity to listen and identify Michigan bird calls.  Those who performed well received a prize CD recording of some commonly heard calls in our area.
Those who could not join us at our Thanksgiving dinner, missed a great time. Delicious food followed by Michael challenging us with a fun game involving sounds, songs, and famous voices to identify.
On December 3rd we again share a festive Christmas party with our Port Huron Host Lions friends.  This event includes fellowship, great food and The King's Men country folk band to play Christmas music for us.  They are such a fun group to sing along with, our favorite carols.
We begin the new year conducting a regular planning meeting and officer elections in January.  We follow this in February with a Valentines dance and dinner. Please come join in our fun and helpful activities.
     The BWL usually meets the third Thursday of each month except for July and December. for more information call President Jeanette Geno at (810) 982-0717.

Capital Area Council of the Blind – Lansing Area
By Donna Rose, Past President

The Capital Area Council members attended a Lansing Lug nuts baseball game in late July where we had catered food and a lot of fun and fellowship.  We had T-Shirts printed with our chapter’s name on the front and the Lug nuts logo on the back.  It’s not like the old ball game though, nobody calling out the plays.  Just a bunch of catchy games which include the patrons and some loud music.  Next year we will just opt for a picnic.  Member Suellen Hozman has offered her backyard for this event.  We have had elections and Jim Moore is now our president.  

Our holiday/Christmas/ Hanukkah party will be on December 6th at the Grumpy’s Diner in Lansing.  We hope you have a fabulous holiday season and New Year.

Kalamazoo Council of the Blind
No report submitted

VIPP (Grand Rapids Area(
No report submitted

MCBVI 2010 Resolutions

The following were the resolutions passed during the 2010 MCBVI business meeting in October.  We hope you will use these whenever possible to advocate for issues which our membership has approved.


WHEREAS, in March 2010 at a special meeting of the Elected Operators Committee (EOC) with the Michigan Commission for the Blind (MCB) board, an ad hoc Committee was proposed to assist the EOC with a variety of issues pertaining to the Business Enterprise Program (BEP); and

WHEREAS, many of the concerns being addressed by this committee have a long history; and WHEREAS, numerous issues relate to establishing positive and productive relationships among all parties; and

WHEREAS, having these positive relationships will strengthen both the EOC and BEP; and

WHEREAS, presently the program is being threatened by a lack of trust among all participants; and WHEREAS, the committee has met on one occasion with the assistance of a facilitator; and

WHEREAS, one more meeting in fiscal year 2010 with the use of a facilitator will be allowed to occur; and

WHEREAS, there are around 50 different issues to attempt to resolve; and

WHEREAS, because relationships are strained, there is a lack of trust;

  NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED by the Michigan Council of the Blind and Visually Impaired in convention assembled on Sunday, October 17, 2010, at the Howard Johnson Plaza Hotel in Wyoming, Michigan, that MCBVI urge the MCB board and administration and the BEP to support the use of a facilitator for as long as this ad hoc committee feels the need for this resource; and BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the MCB board and administration use other resources, paid or voluntary, to assist the EOC in moving forward with their responsibilities which are required under both Public Act 260 and the Randolph-Sheppard Act.


WHEREAS, many drug companies have designed tamper-resistant packaging; and 

WHEREAS, many of the packaging methods present challenges for people with various disabilities in their efforts to access the medications; and

WHEREAS, medication bottle caps are now designed in such a way as to require persons to line up the arrow on the cap with the arrow on the bottle, making it extremely difficult or impossible to open the medication bottles (e.g., Tylenol Extra Strength); and 

WHEREAS, bottles with childproof safety caps that need to be pressed and turned simultaneously can be hard to open; and 
WHEREAS, pills that are enclosed in tamper-resistant packaging (e.g., blister packs) are very difficult to push out of that packaging because the backing is made of foil which makes it challenging to dislodge the pill; and 
WHEREAS, the end of the cardboard backing needs to be folded in order to peel back the corner so that the pill can be removed; and 
WHEREAS, the correct end to be pulled back is only marked visually, so a person who is blind or visually impaired cannot be certain as to where to fold it to best remove the medication from the packaging;

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED by the Michigan Council of the Blind and Visually Impaired in convention assembled on Sunday, October 17, 2010, at the Howard 
Johnson Plaza Hotel in Wyoming, Michigan, that drug manufacturers provide bottles where the arrows on the bottle caps are more clearly defined so that they can be lined up accurately, and the bottle caps should be much easier to turn so that people with visual impairments or other disabilities can open their medication bottles independently; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that manufacturers should be more sensitive to the needs of blind and visually impaired users when designing packaging (e.g., providing well-defined tactile markings) to make it easier to open blister packs; and 

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that copies of this resolution be sent to the American Council of the Blind for their consideration and possible communication of this resolution with other disability organizations.


WHEREAS, the use of public transportation is increasing in most communities; and

WHEREAS, more counties and cities have approved new millages for this service; and

WHEREAS, in August 2010 fifteen of the sixteen millages were supported by the voters; and

WHEREAS, Governor Granholm appointed a task force to come up with recommendations for the future funding of public transportation; and

WHEREAS, a report was given to the legislature in 2008; and

WHEREAS, no action has been taken to increase funding for this need; and

WHEREAS, because of the cost of operating a motor vehicle and wages being either stable or decreasing; and

WHEREAS, building a more efficient system will help stimulate jobs for economic growth; 
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED by the Michigan Council of the Blind and Visually Impaired in convention assembled on Sunday, October 17, 2010, at the Howard Johnson Plaza Hotel in Wyoming, Michigan,
that this organization encourage the Michigan Legislature to pass parts or all of the recommendations presented to the Legislature by this task force; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that copies of this resolution will be sent to the American Council of the Blind (ACB) as requested in their Resolution 2010-05.


WHEREAS, there are different philosophies regarding the methods of vision rehabilitation training; and

Whereas, consumers are individuals with needs that are unique to them and therefore may require alternative techniques to achieve their desired goals in gaining independence and competency; and

WHEREAS, those seeking vision rehabilitation training may not be fully aware of all of these various philosophies; and 

WHEREAS, consumers have the right to determine the appropriate method of training to meet their rehabilitation and travel needs;

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED by the Michigan Council of the Blind an Visually Impaired in convention assembled on Sunday, October 17, 2010, at the Howard Johnson Plaza Hotel in Wyoming, Michigan, that this organization does not support one philosophy to the exclusion of all others; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the members of MCBVI become more knowledgeable of the differences in philosophies including that of the American Council of the Blind to be able to assist consumers in understanding their rehabilitation choices; and 

BE It FURTHER RESOLVED that the members of MCBVI work with Michigan Parents of Children with Visual Impairments (MPVI) and other consumers to make sure that the different philosophies and methods of teaching are understood so that an informed choice can be made regarding the methods chosen for training; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the MCBVI leadership develop the mechanism by which a program pertaining to the subjects in this resolution could be implemented in 2011.


WHEREAS, On June 22, 2010, the Michigan Senate voted to reject the reappointment of several commissioner positions including two members from the Michigan Commission for the Blind (MCB), Michael Geno and Margaret Wolf.; and

WHEREAS, Mr. Geno and Ms. Wolf have a strong history of service and fairness and were part of a very cohesive commission board which had been making great progress and had been responsive to the needs of the MCB staff and the legally blind consumers of Michigan; and

WHEREAS, the Senate again rejected these reappointments in September; and

WHEREAS, many other appointments were also rejected; and

WHEREAS, we, the members of the Michigan Council of the Blind and Visually Impaired (MCBVI), believe this to be a partisan political move, and no consideration was given to the merits and service of the individual commissioners or to the effect these rejections would have on the citizens of Michigan; and

WHEREAS, this action also brings the state into violation of Michigan Public Act 260 which requires five commissioners, and as of September 30, 2010, there will only be three serving on the MCB board for many months until reappointments are made;

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED by the Michigan Council of the Blind and Visually Impaired in convention assembled on Sunday, October 17, 2010, at the Howard Johnson Plaza Hotel in Wyoming, Michigan, that we are outraged by this action; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that we condemn the action of the Michigan Senate and demand an explanation from the members of the Senate on why this unjust action was taken and;

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the members of MCBVI feel that these commissioners should be reinstated by the new governor as a priority pertaining to government appointments.


WHEREAS, the Howard Johnson Plaza Hotel in Wyoming, Michigan, has been our home for the past three Michigan Council of the Blind and Visually Impaired (MCBVI) conventions; and

WHEREAS, this organization has had several excellent convention experiences with this facility prior to the above mentioned conventions; and 

WHEREAS, the Howard Johnson Plaza Hotel has provided essential services and important accommodations to the members of MCBVI attending its 2010 convention; and

WHEREAS, the staff of the Howard Johnson Plaza Hotel has been
friendly and helpful; and

WHEREAS, the success of a convention is dependent upon the quality
of the services provided by the hotel;

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED by the Michigan Council of the Blind and Visually Impaired in convention assembled on Sunday, October 17, 2010, at the Howard Johnson Plaza Hotel in Wyoming,
Michigan, that this organization expresses its thanks and
appreciation for the services and accommodations provided to its
members by the Howard Johnson Plaza Hotel and its staff.


WHEREAS, volunteers, under the most able stewardship of the members of the Convention Planning Committee, have provided superb services in all ways to attendees of the 2010 Michigan Council of the Blind and Visually Impaired (MCBVI) convention,

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED by the Michigan Council of the Blind and Visually Impaired in convention assembled on Sunday, October 17, 2010, at the Howard Johnson Plaza Hotel in Wyoming,
Michigan, that this organization warmly and most sincerely expresses its appreciation to all volunteers who worked to assist the attendees of the 2010 MCBVI convention; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization requests yet one more accommodation from the committee, that being to assist in communicating this resolution, or its sense, to all volunteers.


WHEREAS, the handling of arrangements for a Michigan Council of the
Blind and Visually Impaired (MCBVI) convention is a mammoth
undertaking; and

WHEREAS, Kyle Austin has most capably chaired the 
convention committee on several occasions; and

WHEREAS, the Convention Committee has met every challenge in hosting the 2010 MCBVI convention in Wyoming, Michigan, and has
welcomed and assisted its members in a friendly, helpful, and grand fashion;

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED by the Michigan Council of the Blind and Visually Impaired in convention assembled on Sunday, October 17, 2010, at the Howard Johnson Plaza Hotel in Wyoming,
Michigan, that this organization wholeheartedly thanks and commends Kyle Austin and the Convention Committee for their excellent work.