November 2011

The Official Newsletter of the
Michigan Council of the Blind and Visually Impaired
An affiliate of the
American Council of the Blind

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, and equality in issues regarding blindness and visual impairment.

Joe Sibley, President
Donna Rose, Editor

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:
Visit our website at

Deadlines For Newsletter Submissions:
• February 1, 2012
• May 1, 2012
• August 1, 2012
• November 1, 2012

Contact the Editor:
New Number: 517-489-2233
Toll Free: 877-254-6397

Editor's Note:  Please help us keep costs down by not using our toll free numbers if you have unlimited long distance service.

Included In This Issue
• Help MCBVI by Joining the ACB MMS Program
• MCBVI Membership Campaign - Submit Dues & Membership Lists
• MCBVI Accomplishments & Future Goals
• Bedbugs
• 2011 MCBVI Resolutions
• New Rules for Companion Animals
• And Much More 

Follow MCBVI on Facebook! Search for Michigan Council of the Blind and you will find our page. "Like" us, and you will receive updates!

From the President

By Joe Sibley

As we head into this holiday season and prepare to launch another new year I am reflecting on the many events, challenges, and accomplishments of the past year. We faced some challenges regarding the Michigan Commission for the Blind board and raised our voices together. We have seen some chapters flourish while others are struggling. We have welcomed many new members from around the state who appreciate our message of positivity and productivity, not conflict for the sake of conflict. We have put Michigan back on the radar of our national ACB leadership. We are still facing challenges in this organization, but more and more great people are learning about what MCBVI represents and are joining their voice with us.

Let me address a problem that we need to look at, all of us together. We need to address our financial challenges. Our income has dropped significantly causing us to dip into our investment reserves to cover our basic expenses. This is not acceptable as we have had to make some cuts to the productive work we could be doing to benefit all of the blind and visually impaired citizens of Michigan. It is also bad for the long term future of this organization. If we do not increase our funding, MCBVI could someday cease to exist, and that would be a tragedy. I know what this organization has done for me personally and so many others over the years. I see the potential of what we could accomplish that would benefit so many people, youth and adults alike. We work hard to keep the cost of participating in this organization low both in dues and convention expenses. Of your membership dues, MCBVI receives five dollars. Sadly, that does not go very far these days. It is not often that we ask for extra donations, but as it is the end of the year and some people could use some tax deductible donations, perhaps you would consider an extra gift to the MCBVI general budget. I will put the address to send donations to at the end of this message. I realize that many of our members are unable to do that, which is fine. But for those that could spare an extra gift this year we will be very careful to put your funds to productive use. We are a registered 501c3 organization so your donations are tax deductible. Thank you in advance for at least considering this. 

One less painful way to help MCBVI is to participate in the ACB MMS or Monthly Monetary Support program. You can elect to have 10 dollars or more automatically deducted from your checking account or credit card each month. You can designate up to 50 percent of that amount to be sent to MCBVI. Mary and I are personally participating in the program. Even with a deduction of 10 dollars per month, 5 dollars will go to ACB and 5 dollars can come to Michigan to support MCBVI. A few of those can make a big difference in our budget. See the ACB website for how to contact them to participate in the MMS program.

As of this writing our 2011 convention is a few weeks behind us, and what a wonderful convention it was. Our convention is always one of my favorite events of the year. We are able to accomplish so much business and education while still enjoying the wonderful fellowship that this organization offers. I was especially pleased to see many new faces at convention, along with many who haven't been to a convention in a while. If I try to thank everyone who helped make this convention a success I will miss some key people, so a very warm thank you to everyone who helped or attended the convention. The Causeway Bay Hotel and Convention Center in Lansing gave us many more options for meeting space. More than 50 enjoyed our cruise Thursday night aboard the Michigan Princess Riverboat. We tried new things such as the continuing education presentation for social workers conducted by Donna Rose that was very well received and will be repeated next year. We had many teachers attending our presentations Friday. We had a much larger hospitality suite which many members and guests were able to enjoy.

I do have to recognize Casey Dutmer who stepped up during the preparation to assume the role of convention chair which he will continue next year. Sharon Dutmer again coordinated registration, finances, and hospitality, as she and Casey have done for four years now. Our convention committee included the Dutmers, Donna Rose, Mary Sibley, Michelle Visscher, Malaina VanderWal, Lisa Weber, and Cheyenne Blakeman. Thank you to the committee and the many many people that helped in any capacity. Look for more information about the 2011 convention later in this issue, along with the resolutions passed by our membership.

One of the most amazing experiences at this year's convention was to welcome Mitch Pomerantz, president of the American Council of the Blind. Mitch flew in Thursday and stayed until early Sunday morning so in addition to his presentations many of our members were able to speak personally with Mitch. Mitch's remarks as our banquet keynote speaker charged up all of us in attendance. If you heard that speech, you know who we are and why we are here, and how different we are as part of ACB than other blind consumer organizations. I hope to have that speech available on our website soon.  I could ramble on about the convention for several more pages, but Donna needs space for other things so I will stop, but plan on attending the 2012 convention which will be earlier, September 13-16, 2012. Watch for details.

I will also put in a quick plug for the national ACB convention in July. Mary and I along with 10 others from Michigan were able to attend the 2011 convention in Reno. If you have never attended a national convention, it is life changing. The 2012 national convention is in Louisville Kentucky in July. I hope many of our members will join us as it is a much easier trip.

I have much more I would like to talk about, but let me close by wishing everyone a joyous and blessed holiday season,  and we look forward to new adventures and projects for MCBVI in 2012. As always, feel free to contact me if you have questions or comments. Thanks!


To make a tax deductible donation to our organization please make checks payable to MCBVI and send them to:
c/o All Needs Accounting
7751 Lakeshore Road
Lakeport, MI  48059

Help MCBVI by Joining ACB's Monthly Monetary Support (MMS) Two-for-One Program
From the ACB Web Site

If you are an ACB member, would you like to be able to help your state affiliate or an affiliate of your choice, and at the same time, assist the ACB at the national level too? Well, now you can by participating in the new and improved "Two-for-One" MMS Program. 
Now, when you take part in the MMS Program, the funds are deducted from the account you designate, on a regular, monthly bases, as before, but with the change implemented by the ACB Board, you can designate to have all of the funds go to the national organization or you can, alternatively, designate an amount up to 50% of the net amount of your deduction to be given to an affiliate of your choice. This change allows you the choice of helping both the national organization and an affiliate of your choice at the same time. You can help two levels of our organization with one monthly deduction, thus, two-for-one! The affiliate you choose can be any of the state affiliates or any other ACB affiliate you wish. 
All amounts are greatly appreciated, no matter how small or large! The ACB financial office in Minneapolis, Minnesota will withdraw the amount you indicate each month from your credit card, or your bank account. All contributions are kept completely confidential. This is an excellent way in which you can provide support for the American Council of the Blind. 
To participate in the ACB Monthly Monetary Support Program, you can either enroll online at, Or by calling ACB's Finance Office at 1-800-866-3242.
If you have any questions or need additional assistance, please call the ACB office at the number above, or drop us a note at Info@ACB.Org . 
Thank you in advance for your participation in the MMS program. You are helping us to make a difference in the lives of those whom we serve.

2012 Membership Campaign
Information for Chapters
By Charis Austin, Treasurer & Membership Chairperson

Please follow the following guidelines when submitting membership lists and dues to me:
• All 2012 dues must be received by February 15, 2012.
• Please include $10 for each member: $5 is for MCBVI and $5 goes to ACB. 
• Checks should be made out to MCBVI with MCBVI Dues in the memo line
• Checks and all membership information should be sent to:
Charis Austin, Treasurer
2426 Thornwood, SW
Wyoming, MI 49519

You MUST include the following information for each member:
• Name, address, phone number (home, work, or cell)
• Email address, if available
•  Format preference for both the MCBVI NEWS and THE BRAILLE FORUM.  A member may choose not to receive either or both publications. ( Please specify each publication choice.) Format choices for the MCBVI NEWS are Braille, email, cassette, and large print. Format choices for THE BRAILLE FORUM include: Braille, audio cassette, CD, large print and email. Members wishing to receive The Braille Forum by podcast or email need to visit the ACB web site to sign up to receive these formats. 
• Is the member sighted? This relates to Free Matter mailing privileges offered by the US Postal Service.

Please contact me with any questions.

Charis Austin
2426 Thornwood, S.W.
Wyoming, MI 49519
(616) 532-4737

MCBVI Accomplishments and Goals
By Charis Austin, Treasurer & Membership Chairperson

In 2011, MCBVI became more visible. We are regularly represented at meetings of the Michigan Commission for the Blind (MCB) and other gatherings of the blind community. We are letting the people of Michigan know that there is a consumer organization that practices and promotes positive and constructive dialogue, while still representing the concerns of all blind or visually impaired citizens of Michigan. This is demonstrated by more telephone calls asking for information about our organization.

We have provided financial and volunteer support for youth activities including Michigan Regional Braille Challenge™, the Braille-A-Thon which takes place on the lawn of the State Capitol in June, and activities at Camp Tuhsmeheta (Camp T). Members of the Executive Committee had a meeting with Sara Conrad, National President of ACB Students to discuss strategies for getting more youth involvement.

Each year the Michigan Council of the Blind and Visually Impaired (MCBVI) holds a convention which offers members a chance to share fellowship and learn about important issues and new technology. This year we took some chances and did some new things.  For example, we hosted a seminar for social workers regarding working with blind clients. Social workers attending received three continuing education units (CEU's).  In partnership with Michigan Dept. of Education Low Incidents Outreach (LIO) we held a seminar which provided an overview of Apple products.  We took a dinner cruise aboard the Michigan Princess Riverboat on the Grand River and with the help of owner Captain John, we were able to use this as a fund-raiser because he gave us a break on the price of tickets.

2012 GOALS

During a goal setting workshop At the convention three top priorities were chosen by members to guide our organization in the near future:

• Better communication with members,
• Mentoring members,
• Stronger presence with our legislature

Read more about ideas to achieve these goals in upcoming issues.

Our President's goals for the coming year include:

• Develop new funding sources to expand our efforts to assist blind and visually impaired youth and adults through grants, scholarships, and sponsorship of events.
• Work to expand local chapters, especially in the southeast corner of the state where organizing a chapter is difficult because of transit and other logistical issues.
• Expand marketing efforts to make MCBVI more visible and more accessible to those who would benefit by becoming involved. This will include additional media outreach and utilization of social networks.

George & Jennie Move to Retirement Centers
By Donna Rose, Friend

As many of you are aware, George Illingworth, and Jennie Baly are the senior members of MCBVI.  They have reached a point where they have begun a new chapter in their lives, and thus have moved to retirement centers where their needs can be better met.  While growing older can be difficult I think I can say they are both happy with their new homes.  They don't want to lose touch with their old friends so I am including their contact information here so you can call and/or write to them with cards or letters.  They both read Braille.

George Illingworth
c/o The Bethany Nursing Home 
26 34th  Street NW
Canton, OH 49708

Jennie Baly
c/o Ferguson's Convalescent Home
239 S. Main
Lapeer, MI 48446 

"Medicare & You" Handbook Now Available In Braille

You can receive a copy of the Medicare and You 2011 handbook in Braille.  This is the official US government Medicare handbook, covering Medicare costs and coverage, health and prescription drug plans and your Medicare rights. It comes in three soft cover volumes, 257 pages.  You can call Medicare at (800)633-4227 and ask to speak to an agent to order it.  It may be available in other alternative formats as well.  To read the PDF version visit

Shopping At Meijer Just Got Easier With Door To Door Service 

The Grand Rapids, Mich.-based retailer, with 12 local superstores, has
launched a grocery delivery service available in all 50 states and
internationally. Orders for any of 5,000 items can be made at . Tack on shipping fees of $7.95 and up, and
items will typically hit doorsteps within two to four days.

The site offers non-perishable national and Meijer brand items as well as
baby supplies, pet food, cleaning supplies, laundry products and healthy
and beauty items. About 3,000 items are individual-sized and the rest are
multi-pack or bulk.

Developing a New MCBVI Chapter in Your Hometown
By Donna Rose, Editor

There are probably a trillion ways to create a new and successful MCBVI chapter where you live, but here are some tips for getting started.  

You must gather at least five people to start a new chapter.  If you don't know four other people, you can put up a flyer at your local talking book library, ask them to put a blurb in their newsletter regarding such interest, plan a meeting and place information about it for free in the events or calendar column of local newspapers, ask your local radio reading service to announce such a meeting with your contact info to its listeners, provide flyers to the Michigan Commission for the Blind for distribution to those living locally who may have an interest, place flyers at ophthalmologists or optometrists office with their permission, etc.  Always include your contact information in any advertising you do to try and develop your chapter.

After you have gathered at least five interested individuals you will have to devise a chapter name and come up with the rules and policies by which the chapter will operate.  These documents are called a constitution and bylaws.  At the same time you are developing your new chapter you will need to let MCBVI executive members know you are in the process of organizing a chapter.  They can guide you with the necessary resources which can help you establish a name and the other documents you will need to become an official chapter of MCBVI.  Along with these official documents you will be creating an executive board of directors with at least a president, vice president, secretary and treasurer, and deciding the terms of office for each.  In your bylaws you can allow for other positions, if needed, like a first and second vice president, or an assistant secretary or treasurer.  You will also need to determine the amount of your annual dues for each member, keeping in mind that your chapter will be required to pay $10 for each of your members to MCBVI for state and national dues.   Once you have your chapter's name, constitution and bylaws established you can ask for a charter from MCBVI.  If for any reason you must disband your chapter you will return your charter and any funds left in the chapter bank accounts to MCBVI.

Developing a good chapter takes commitment and dedication.  It is tricky to keep members interested, especially in the initial stages.  I would suggest you meet at a venue which is centrally located, possibly at a restaurant where there is separate room space and people can purchase the food of their choice on their own tab.  Often churches will offer space, but if this is the place you choose try and provide goodies for members to make it welcoming.  At the first meeting you will have to agree on a comfortable day, time and place for future meetings.  When making this decision, take into consideration members who work.  If you have a lot of working members you may want to have meetings in the evenings, during the dinner hour or on Saturdays.  

Your first few meetings will likely be centered on developing your chapter, preparing your constitution and bylaws and other related items discussed above.  Try and have a fun activity like social time, a door prize drawing, a short game to make meetings interesting.  Always make sure everyone introduces themselves at the beginning and always remind everyone when and where the next meeting will be held at the end.  Once you get rolling you may want to bring in speakers on topics of interest to your members.  Here at our Capital Area chapter we have had a representative from our local transit authority come and speak to us about paratransit, someone from our radio reading service come, and a person from our library services for the blind too.  They gave us information about their services and answered questions from members.  Advertise upcoming speakers so the community as a whole knows about the event.

Once established, ask members to join some committees.  I would recommend starting out with at least a hospitality/membership committee which can be those who welcome and recruit new members, and a fund-raising committee so your chapter can grow financially.

We would love to have new chapters develop all over Michigan.  There are many advantages to belonging to MCBVI.  We offer peer support, an annual state convention with topics of interest to those with vision challenges, blindness and visual impairment advocacy, and the strength which comes from being a part of something bigger than you.  If you are interested in starting a chapter please let our president, Joe Sibley, or one of our other executive board members know so they can be of assistance.

Michigan Lion's Offer Three $3000 Scholarships
Submitted By Charis Austin
The Michigan Lion's White Cane Committee will be awarding three $3,000 scholarships to individuals who are legally blind. Scholarships will be awarded during the Michigan Lions Forum on Saturday, February 18, 2012. Completed applications and accompanying documentation must be postmarked no later than December 31, 2011. To read the criteria and complete the application visit

Member Mike Smith's Internet Radio Show

MCBVI member Michael Smith has a radio show on HLDW.  He can be heard on Thursday evenings from 7-10 PM eastern time.  You can listen to his show at the following links.
Listen links when a dj is on
Tune-In Links
1. Winamp:
2. Windows Media Player:
3. Real Player:
4. QuickTime:

Video for Accessibility in Medical and Other Settings
Via Email From George Theriault, President & CEO
New Hampshire Association for the Blind

Editor's Note:  I watched this video on the youtube website and found it to be excellent.  This is a great story about advocacy.  The link is listed below.  Perhaps you can share it with your health providers. 

Last year, client members of the Advocacy Committee of the New Hampshire Association for the Blind shared personal stories about difficulties
they had experienced as persons who are blind or visually impaired in hospitals and other medical practices and facilities.  The group asked: "How can we change things?  "How can we train hospital staff so we can have the same access as sighted people?"

The decision was made: "Lets make a training video."  With this goal, the committee got serious, deciding what situations would best illustrate the problems blind and visually impaired people often face while getting medical care.

The committee met with Concord Hospital and discovered they had a partner with a strong interest - and the ability to produce training videos.  The Committee wrote the script, acted the roles, and trained hospital staff and volunteers.  The hospital filmed the video, partnering also with the New Hampshire Hospital Association, the NH Medical Society, and the Home Care Association of NH - total memberships of these partners total over 2,000 medical practices in New Hampshire alone.

This video is now available to all.  To Watch and\or Download: Go to: - on the front page menu open Resources Tab, select Video Links, read the story of how the video came about and select Watch or Download.  You can also see it on YouTube:

It is the hope of the New Hampshire Association for the Blind, that any
organization that wishes may use this video for staff and volunteer
training purposes and to promote accessibility for persons who are blind
and visually impaired.  We also encourage others to create similar tools and disseminate them broadly.

Hadley School for the Blind Opens Forsythe Center for Entrepreneurship

As of September 19, the Forsythe Center for Entrepreneurship is open for enrollment. The goal of this new business, entrepreneurship and technology program is to provide individuals who are visually impaired with the knowledge, resources and networking opportunities enabling them to advance in their careers or to successfully launch and grow their own businesses.  Ten courses are open for enrollment:
*	 Self-Employment with a Minimal Investment 
*	 Business Fundamentals 
*	 Business Communications 
*	 Business Law 1 
*	 Business Law 2 
*	 Business Writing 
*	 Using Excel 
*	 Screen Readers: Listening Skills 
*	 Screen Readers: Web Browsing 
*	 Screen Readers: Formatting Word Documents
Six new modules are also open for enrollment:
*	Market Research 
*	The Financial Plan 
*	The Marketing Plan 
*	The Business Plan 
*	Business Insurance 
*	Forms of Ownership

Hadley is embarking upon this program, in part, to address the deplorable employment rate among people who are visually impaired. Although statistics vary somewhat, the most reliable data sources suggest that the under- or unemployment rate of persons who are blind or visually impaired is 70%-80%.

The program is designed to be practical, relevant and interactive. Courses are open to anyone who is blind or visually impaired, over age 14 and is serious about starting or growing a business. Coursework is offered free of charge and is mostly online. 
To learn more and enroll, please visit
Please contact Tom Babinszki at with any questions.

By Donna Rose, Editor

Since some of us have more access to this information than others, I thought this might be good information to share with our members.  If you listen to the news of late you have probably heard stories about bedbug outbreaks in the U.S..  They are mainly found in hotels and can infestate your luggage and clothing hitching a ride back to your home.  Once in your house they are extremely difficult and expensive to eradicate.  As the name suggests, they like to live in your bed, biting you at night and cause a very bad rash with itching.  They also will live in furniture, carpets, clothing, curtains and many other places.  Recent stories have reported they transmit communicable diseases, like hepatitis.

Health professionals claim that European immigrants originally carried bedbugs to the United States. They were once common bed-fellows for most citizens here.  But they almost became extinct during the middle of the 20th  century with the invention of a strong pesticide called DDT. Health and environmental risks associated with DDT caused it to be banned in the second half of the century and, as a result, for the past 30 years the bedbug population has been steadily rising.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in Atlanta, the problem has reached epidemic levels.  Therefore it is important to learn about them, how they spread, and how to get rid of them quickly if you are unfortunate enough to meet up with them.   

While reading USAToday last spring I found a good resource to use to find out if a hotel you will be visiting has had a problem with them.  It is a bedbug registry.  You can visit  When I looked I found 151 motels, hotels and apartments which had reports of bedbugs right here in Michigan.  Most of them were located in Detroit, Ypsilanti and Ann Arbor, but it seems as though they can be found all over.

When making a reservation with a motel or hotel across America you might want to inquire about what the facility is doing to protect guests from these insects.  It is recommended that you have someone sighted lift up the covers of the beds in your assigned room and look for black specs on the bed linens, which are the bedbug droppings.  They like to hide in the seams of the mattress and box springs, so check there too.  If you notice any signs of them, ask for another room.  Don't be shy about asking hotel staff to help you look.  Hotels don't want an outbreak and are as eager as you are to find them so treatment can begin.  When you arrive home from your trip you should leave your suitcase in a hot car for several hours.  The heat should kill any bugs which have stowed away.

Should your home become infested with bedbugs, you will want to immediately call a company familiar with methods of eradicating them.  These methods usually involve special heat treatments.  It is recommended that you not try store bought pesticides because they are ineffective and can be dangerous to your health, particularly where you sleep.  Never use kerosene or gasoline to try to get rid of them yourself because this is an extreme fire hazard.  Several people have been badly burned trying this method, and it is not effective.

For more great information on bedbugs and tips for avoiding or getting rid of them, visit  Sleep well!!

Gone to the Dogs: Rules on Service Animals to Become Stricter
By James J.   McDonald, Jr., managing partner, Fisher and 
Phillips, LLP
( Editor's Note:  Taken from the ACB Human Service Providers Email List)

Regulations issued in 1991 following the enactment of the Americans with Disabilities Act required that public accommodations (which include restaurants, hotels, retail establishments, theaters, and concert halls) modify their 
policies, practices, or procedures to permit the use of a service animal by an individual with a disability.   Essentially this means that service animals accompanying persons with disabilities have to be admitted to establishments with policies that otherwise exclude pets or other animals.

When the ADA was enacted, most service animals were "seeing-eye" dogs that assisted blind or sight-impaired persons.   In most cases, these dogs were highly trained and, because of their extensive training, were not likely to create a nuisance or a sanitary problem.

Over time, however, a variety of species came to be characterized by their owners as service animals, including pigs, horses, monkeys, snakes, lizards, birds, and rodents.   Also, dogs and other animals that merely provide emotional comfort to their owners have been characterized as service animals.

This proliferation of creatures claimed to be service animals has posed obvious problems for many restaurants and hotels in terms of safety, sanitation, and disturbance of other guests.   Until now, however, proprietors were largely powerless to bar these types of animals from their establishments.

The U.S. Department of Justice has issued new regulations effective March 15, 2011, however, which will substantially limit the types of animals that will qualify as service animals under the ADA.   First, only dogs (and miniature horses in some cases) will qualify as service animals under the new regulations.

"Other species of animals, whether wild or domestic, trained or untrained," will not qualify.   The new regulations, however, do not place limits on breed or size of dog.

Second, the dog must be "individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability, including a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual, or other mental disability." The regulations go on to state that the work or tasks performed by the service animal must be directly related to the handler's disability.   Examples of work or tasks set forth in the regulations include:

a. Assisting sight-impaired persons with navigation or other 
b. Alerting hearing-impaired persons to the presence of people 
or sounds
c. Providing nonviolent protection or rescue work. 
d. Pulling a wheelchair
E. Assisting an individual during a seizure
f. Alerting an individual to the presence of allergens
g. Retrieving items such as medicine or the telephone
h. Providing physical support and assistance with balance and 
stability to individuals with mobility impairments
i. Helping persons with psychiatric and neurological 
disabilities by preventing or interrupting impulsive or 
destructive behaviors

Under the new regulations, the mere "provision of emotional support, well-being, comfort, or companionship does not constitute work or tasks" for purposes of the definition of service animal.   Thus, animals that provide only comfort or emotional support for their owners will no longer qualify as service animals.

For a dog to qualify as a service animal to an owner with a psychiatric disability under the new regulations, the dog must be trained to perform specific work or tasks.   Examples given in the guidance accompanying the new regulations of tasks performed by psychiatric service animals include reminding the handler to take medicine, providing safety checks or room searches for persons with posttraumatic stress disorder, interrupting self-mutilation, and removing disoriented individuals from dangerous situations.

The guidance also states that a dog that is used to "ground" a person with a psychiatric disorder will qualify as a service animal if the dog has been trained: (1) to recognize that a person is about to have a psychiatric episode and (2) to respond by nudging, barking or removing the person to a safe location until the episode subsides.

The new regulations additionally clarify that "attack dogs" trained to provide aggressive protection of their owners will not qualify as service animals.   The crime-deterrent effect of a dog's presence, by itself, does not qualify as "work" or "tasks" for purposes of the service animal definition.

The new regulations also formalize prior Justice Department technical assistance addressing the use and handling of service animals.   The regulations provide that a public accommodation may ask an individual with a disability to remove a service animal from the premises if the animal is not housebroken, or if the 
animal is out of control, and the animal's handler does not take effective action to control it.   (Ordinarily, the regulations state, a service animal shall have a harness, leash, or other tether, unless the person with a disability is unable to use a harness, leash, or tether or the use of such a device would interfere with the animal's ability to perform its work or tasks.) If a service animal is removed for any of these reasons, the person with a disability must still be permitted to access the establishment's goods, services, or accommodations without the animal being present.   The regulations also confirm that a public accommodation is not responsible for the care or supervision of a service animal.  The regulations provide that a public accommodation may not ask about the nature or extent of a person's disability, but that it generally may make two inquiries to determine whether an animal qualifies as a service animal; it may ask: (1) if the animal is required because of a disability, and (2) what work or task the animal has been trained to perform.   These inquiries may not be made, however, when it is readily apparent that the animal is a service animal, such as where a guide dog is guiding a blind person or a dog is pulling a wheelchair.   Furthermore, a public 
accommodation may not require documentation, such as proof that the animal has been certified, trained, or licensed as a service animal.   Nor may a public accommodation require a person with a disability to pay a surcharge for a service animal, even if it applies such a surcharge for pets.

These regulations will not apply to landlords or airlines, which are governed by the Fair Housing Act and the Air Carrier Access Act, respectively.   It is also not yet clear that these regulations, and particularly the definition of a service animal, 
will be applied by courts to cases brought under Title I of the ADA which covers employment.

A good argument may be made, based on existing case law, that a stricter standard would apply under Title I.   Unlike under Title III, where a dog must be allowed onto the premises if it qualifies as a service animal and does not leave a mess or cause a serious disturbance, an employee under Title I of the ADA is 
entitled only to such accommodations as are necessary to enable him or her to perform the essential functions of the job.

An employee, therefore, will likely need to show that the presence of a service animal is needed for the employee to be able to perform his or her essential job duties.   An animal that provides only comfort or emotional support to an employee, but that is not needed in order for the employee to be able to work, will not likely qualify as a reasonable accommodation under Title I of the ADA.

These new regulations give long-needed clarity to hotels, restaurants, retailers, and other public accommodations regarding which animals must be allowed as service animals, and under what circumstances.   No longer will these establishments need to allow patrons to bring exotic, dangerous, disruptive, or unsanitary animals with them as purported "service animals."

James J.   McDonald, Jr.   is managing partner of the Irvine, Calif.   office of the national labor and employment law firm Fisher and Phillips LLP
ADA National Network launches Disability Rights Web Course

This is a free, self-paced web course available 24/7 that provides an overview of disability rights laws. The course takes approximately 2 hours and includes real life scenarios, quizzes and a final exam. Upon completion of this course, you will have a general understanding of the major federal disability rights laws (the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Fair Housing Act, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and the Air Carrier Access Act). Additionally, you will be able to assess what laws apply in different discrimination scenarios, and have resources for help and information about disability rights laws.

Intended Audience
* People with disabilities
* Advocates for people with disabilities
* Rehabilitation counselors
* Social service providers
* Anyone with an interest in disability rights laws

Learning Objectives
Upon completing this course, you will:

* Have a general understanding of the major federal disability laws
* Be able to assess what laws apply in different discrimination scenarios
* Be aware of resources for help and information about disability rights laws

Learn more at: .

MCBVI Committee Reports

Constitution & Bylaws
Wayne Lepiors, Chairperson
HI everyone. I have nothing much to report about the Bylaws and Constitution at this time except I am still waiting for  a person or persons to get me a paragraph or two about junior and student memberships.  I listen to the    ACB membership focus meetings on the phone.  We talk about membership and how to get new members and young people into our charters and what we need to do to keep them interested so they will stay. There was a membership focus session at the ACB National convention  in Reno, Nevada and I attended it. David Ellingwood went with me, along with eight other people from MCBVI. We had a good time their.
   If you have any changes or additions to the constitution or bylaws you would like to submit to me let me know and we will work on it together. Call me at 810-982-8978. Well Happy holidays to one and all!

Nominations Committee
By Karla Fields, Chairperson

During the opening ceremonies of the Convention Joe Sibley notified members that due to a conflict of interest Matt Livingston could no longer run or serve as official treasurer.  Charis Austin resigned as assistant treasurer and was nominated to run on the ballot for treasurer.  John Jarzyna ran as first vice president, Pam Berryman as second vice president, and Mary Sibley as Assistant Secretary. All were elected by acclamation, so no election on Saturday was required. At our 2012 state convention the following offices will be up for election: President, Secretary, and Assistant Treasurer.  

Donna Rose, Chairperson

It has been a while since we have had a published newsletter.  My time is extremely limited due to my work, dialysis and my over all health issues related to kidney failure.  I am sorry this has affected my ability to get the newsletter out, and in the summer I told Joe I should resign.  Joe said he did not want to accept my resignation because he knows I really like doing it.  I don't know how much longer I can do it, and do it properly, but I do like putting it together.

You all can help me by sending me your chapter updates and committee reports by the specified deadlines, so the process can be completed quicker.  The next deadline for all submissions will be February 1, 2012.

Public Relations
Donna Rose, Chairperson

There are several of us working to let the public know of MCBVI's existence in our communities.  This is a job each chapter should be doing as well.  Prior to our state convention, all of the Lansing papers were notified of the weekend's events, and press releases were sent to local radio stations as well, including the local Radio Reading Service at WKAR-FM.

We also offered training to professionals to teach them general guidelines about working with those who are blind or visually impaired.  Information about this program was advertised far and wide in order to get as many participants as possible.  Next year we will start this effort earlier in order to get the word out sooner.  We had nine people present, mostly social workers, and two nurses.  We were able to offer social workers three continuing education credits for their attendance by applying through the state to do so in advance.

In the upcoming year we will definitely be getting a new brochure printed.  At our convention the membership has asked us to communicate better with members, so we will be working hard to this end.  Remember, though, we need to improve our financial outlook in order to have funds available to conduct regular organizational business, including better communication with our members.  That is where you come in.  Examine your own life and when possible join MCBVI committees.  We are in particular need of members interested in a fund-raising committee.  And there is an article earlier in this newsletter describing how you can join the ACB MMS Two for One program which would help MCBVI too.  We all need to be using our talents, big or small if we want our organization to thrive.

Chapter Updates

Blue Water league of the Blind - Port Huron Area
By Michael Geno, Former President

       The Blue Water League Of The Blind held an ice cream social last August, and shared a picnic with local area Lions in September.   At our October meeting we reviewed the latest GPS technology accessible to the blind, followed by a short business meeting.   We share a Thanksgiving dinner and fellowship in November, followed only two weeks later with a Christmas party.
       Twelve of our members  had a great time at   the MCBVI state convention in Lansing.   We plan an even bigger turn out next year.   We will make plans for 2012 activities at our first business meeting in January.   The BWL usually meets the third Thursday of each month.   But we do not have a meeting in July or December.   We enjoy an annual Christmas party with the Lions early in December, and spend time with our families and friends.   If you would like more information about our projects and events, please call us during day light hours at (810) 982-0717. Happy Holidays from all of us in the Blue Water League.

Capital Area Council of the Blind - Lansing Area
By Donna Rose, Member

The Capital Area Council of the Blind is at a crossroad.  We are looking for a new space in which to hold our meetings since Grumpy's Restaurant has moved to a location without separate room space.  Jim and Arlene are searching for a new quieter location.  We will be holding our holiday party at the new Grumpy's location since we made a commitment with the owner already.

Our chapter donated $300 to the convention committee to use for expenses to put on the state convention in October here in Lansing.  We also had several members who helped with convention preparations.  Members stuffed registration packets and Janine provided transportation to pick ACB President Mitch up from the airport.  Our chapter donated a wonderful basket of Michigan made goodies which were auctioned off at the MCBVI auction on Friday evening.  Jim and Arlene Moore donated a brand new microwave oven to the auction as well.  Those from our chapter who attended thought the weekend was a big success.  We want to wish everyone a Happy Hanukah and/or a Very Merry Christmas, along with a happy and prosperous new year. 
Kalamazoo Council of the Blind
Things Are Happening In Kalamazoo
By Marla Neubaum 

Kalamazoo Council of the Blind and Visually Impaired enjoyed a beautiful sunny autumn day at Husted Farms.  On Saturday, October 22, 2011, 9 KCBVI members, family and friends went to the apple orchard.  It began with a hayride.  The owner Mr. Husted drove the tractor through the apple orchards.  He was an excellent tour guide answering any questions we had.  He told us about the history of the farm and how many different types of apples and other produce they have available.  After the hayride had ended he gave us all samples of a couple different apples.  Of course anyone who has been to an apple orchard knows what comes next.  Doughnuts!  The group enjoyed fellowship while consuming doughnuts and cider both made fresh at the farm. Next the group went into the store to buy fresh produce.  The farm has several types of produce: squash, pears, peppers and every type of apple you could think of just to name a few. One of our members Sue Fluri is getting ready to take a trip to Australia and wanted to buy items made in Michigan to take with her.  She purchased honey, raspberry jelly and a few other items.  We had so much fun! 
Visually Impaired Persons for Progress (VIPP) - Grand Rapids
By Deb Wild

VIPP met in January, March, May, September and November of 2011 at the Grand Villa Restaurant. Our officers for 2011 are: Doug Koster, president; Mary Sibley, vice president; Tressa Conrad, secretary; and Casey Dutmer, treasurer. In November our vice president and treasurer were up for election. Casey was elected by acclamation for treasurer. Mary Sibley and Tom Shangle were running for vice president. Tom was elected by vote. His term begins in January of 2012. VIPP now has 48 members. We had a few new faces at November's meeting. The board put together a budget which passed in March. 

In March some of us attended the play "Hello Dolly" at the Civic Theater where local radio personality Andy Rent described the sometimes fast-paced action to us wearing headsets. Some of us attended the butterfly exhibit at Meijer Gardens in April where we could touch a few items: A huge bamboo trunk which felt very smooth, and banana leaves and other foliage. Some of us took a 45-minute narrated train ride around the gardens. In May there was a four-hour fund-raiser at Culver's Restaurant where a portion of the proceeds went to VIPP. Also in May there was a transit millage vote for 3.5% which passed. There is another voting opportunity in November. Please get out and use your AutoMark voting machines.  We attended a White Caps baseball game in June. Several of us attended the ACB national convention in Reno, NV in July. We learned a lot and had many fun times. In August we had a picnic at Wedgewood Park. In September we were presented fund-raising opportunities of purchasing VIPP hoodies and selling subs, croissants and garlic bread. There will be a Tastefully Simple Party in mid-November.  The bylaws will be sent to members for them to study before the January meeting. 

Many VIPPers were busy with MCBVI's convention in many ways. It was a joy meeting with you all there. The Thursday night dinner/cruise on the Michigan Princess was very enjoyable. 
Charis Austin and Mary Sibley put together a Comcast channel guide. If you are interested, contact Sibley Media Services at: (616-724-1650) and inquire about formats and prices, about Mary's cards and about their other services. If you have any questions about VIPP, please contact our membership chair Trina Edmondson at (616-243-0154.)  

MCBVI 2011 Resolutions

Resolution 2011-01
Resolution to the Hotel

WHEREAS, the Causeway Bay Hotel and Convention Center in Lansing Michigan has provided necessary services and important accommodations to the members of the Michigan Counsel of the Blind and Visually Impaired (MCBVI) attending its 2011 state convention; and

WHEREAS, the staff of the Causeway Bay Hotel and Convention Center have been cordial and accommodating to MCBVI members ; 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 (MCBVI)in convention assembled on this 9th day of October, 2011, at the Causeway Bay Hotel and Convention Center in Lansing, Michigan (MI), that this organization express its thanks and appreciation for the services and accommodations provided to its members by the Causeway Bay Hotel and Convention Center and its staff.

Resolution 2011-02
Resolution of Thanks to the Volunteers

WHEREAS, The Michigan Council of the Blind and Visually Impaired (MCBVI) cordially expresses its deep appreciation to all volunteers who worked to assist the attendees of the 2011 MCBVI state convention, and that this organization requests its participation in assisting and communicating this resolution, or its sense, to the volunteers; and

WHEREAS, volunteers, under the most competent and conscientious Volunteer coordinator, have provided excellent services in all ways to attendees of the 2011 MCBVI state convention; 

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED by the Michigan Council of the Blind and Visually Impaired (MCBVI)in convention assembled on this 9th day of October, 2011, at the Causeway Bay Hotel and Convention Center in Lansing, Mi, that this organization warmly and most sincerely express its appreciation to all volunteers who worked to assist the attendees of the 2011 MCBVI state convention; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization request one more accommodation from the Volunteer Coordinator that it is able to participate in communicating this resolution, or its sense, to all volunteers.

Resolution 2011-03
Resolution to the Staff

WHEREAS, the Causeway Bay Hotel and Convention Center in Lansing, Mi., has provided essential services and accommodations to the members of the Michigan Council of the Blind and Visually Impaired (MCBVI) attending its 2011 state convention; and

WHEREAS, the staff of the Causeway Bay Hotel and Convention Center have been friendly and helpful; and

WHEREAS, the quality of the services provided by the hotel determines the success of a convention; 

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED by the Michigan Council of the Blind and Visually Impaired in the state convention assembled on this 9th day of October , 2011, at the Causeway Bay Hotel and Convention Center in Lansing, MI, that this organization express its gratitude and appreciation for the services and accommodations provided to its members by the Causeway Bay Hotel and Convention Center. 

Resolution 2011-04
Resolution Thanking Hosts and Lansing MCBVI chapter

WHEREAS, the handling of local arrangements for the Michigan Council of the Blind and Visually Impaired (MCBVI) state convention is an enormous undertaking; and

WHEREAS, the host committee and members of the Lansing chapter in Michigan have met every challenge in hosting the 2011 state convention in Lansing , MI, and have welcomed and assisted MCBVI members in a friendly, cooperative, and exceptional manner; 

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED by the Michigan Council of the Blind and Visually Impaired in convention assembled this 9th day of October, 2011, at the Causeway Bay Hotel and Convention Center in Lansing, MI, that this organization wholeheartedly thank and commend the host committee and the MCBVI chapter of Lansing for their fine work.

Resolution 2011-05
Accessible Prescription Drug Labeling

WHEREAS, many blind and visually impaired citizens live alone; and 

WHEREAS, many have little family assistance or a limited network of support; and 

WHEREAS, a high number of citizens receive prescribed medications; and 

WHEREAS, the directions and information regarding the prescribed drugs are not accessible for persons with low or no vision; 

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Michigan Council of the Blind and Visually Impaired (MCBVI) in convention assembled on this 9thTH  day of October, 2011, at the Causeway Bay Hotel and Convention Center in Lansing, MI, support the legislative initiative put forth by the American Council of the Blind (ACB) to urge congress to introduce and pass the Prescription Drug Accessibility Act; 

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that members of MCBVI contact their congressman seeking their support for this act. 

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the MCBVI Executive Committee proposes to state legislators to introduce similar legislation in Michigan.

Resolution 2011-06
Low Vision Aid Exclusion 

WHEREAS, at present, assistive technology designed for blind and visually impaired users and other aids for low vision users are not covered by Medicare; and 

WHEREAS, many persons with low or no vision need these devices to function more independently within their homes and in their daily life activities within the community; and. 

WHEREAS, many need these devices to acquire employment; and

WHEREAS, Due to the excessive costs, many individuals are unable to purchase this equipment; 

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED THAT the Michigan Council of the Blind and Visually Impaired (MCBVI) in convention assembled on this 9thTH  day of October, 2011, at the Causeway Bay Hotel and Convention Center in Lansing, MI, that MCBVI support ACB in advocating to ask congress to introduce and pass the Low Vision Devices Inclusion Act of 2011.

Resolution 2011-07
Vehicle Donation

WHEREAS, many charities have been hurt financially by previous legislation that discouraged donations to various non-profit organizations; and 

WHEREAS, the Vehicle Donation Program has been one of the sources of income for the American Council of the Blind (ACB) and the Michigan Council of the Blind and Visually Impaired (MCBVI); and

WHEREAS, legislation has been introduced to amend the tax code to improve the circumstances for charities; and 

WHEREAS, (MCBVI may use this program again or something similar;

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the MCBVI in convention assembled on this 9thth  day of October, 2011, at the Causeway Bay Hotel and Convention Center in Lansing, MI, that MCBVI members contact their congressman and ask them to support HB 860 which would amend the tax code of 1986 to encourage more vehicle donations to charities.

Coming Out In Our Next Issue:  Look for a contact list of board members

Happy Holidays!