Summer 2017


Official Newsletter of the

Michigan Council of the Blind and Visually Impaired

Affiliate of the American Council of the Blind

John Jarzyna, President


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Chapters in Michigan Include:

• Cadillac

• Grand Rapids

• Lansing

• Port Huron


Highlights in this Issue

• 44th Annual MCBVI Convention

• Audible Pedestrian Signals

• Committee & Chapter Updates


President's Update

John Jarzyna


While the calendar is approaching summer, MCBVI has already been hard at work these past few months on many issues concerning its members. At our April Board of Directors meeting, the first issue addressed was the official approval of the appointment of Rosemarie Facilla as Second Vice President to fill the unexpired term ending at the end of the 2017 MCBVI convention. Following the appointment of the new Second Vice President the regular business meeting continued with the agenda as presented.

During new business we created the Opportunities Unlimited for the Blind Fund Raising Committee. This committee will specifically address fundraising ideas and opportunities for OUB.

On May 10 I participated in a National Town Hall conference call entitled Hot Topics in Vocational Rehab and Aging Policy and Practice. It was hosted by the American Foundation for the Blind (AFB). Many issues concerning vocational rehab services and changes taking place at the federal level were discussed. One of the services mentioned on this call was the discontinuation of the Homemaker program and how funds are no longer available for this option.

In closing, I want to wish everyone a great summer and I look forward to seeing many of you at our state convention. It will be held in Kalamazoo, October 6-8 at the 4 Points by Sheraton hotel.


Save the Date - 44th annual MCBVI Convention

Kyle Austin, Chair


Make your plans now to attend the 44th Annual MCBVI Convention, to be held in Kalamazoo MI, October 6-8, 2017.  You will be able to check in on October 5.  The convention is being held again this year at the Four Points by Sheraton, 3600 E Cork St in Kalamazoo.  The room rate is $75.00 per night with 11 percent tax.  Please make your room reservation directly with the hotel by calling (866)-961-3006.  Reservations must be made by September 5, 2017 to get the group rate.  Convention registrations must be in by September 15, 2017.  The rest of the convention information is in the convention materials that you should have received or will be receiving by e-mail or regular mail.

The theme for this year's convention is: Your Health and Safety.  Topics to be covered will include: Non-24 and other sleep problems, skin care, what to look for with skin problems and what to do to prevent problems, and also safety around the home.  Additional information on the program is included in the convention materials.

The key note speaker for this year's convention is Dr. Bill Robinson, Director of Bureau of Services for Blind Persons.  He will be speaking on an illness that changed his life, the challenges he and his family dealt with, and how he came back from it to do what he is doing today.

Finally, if you want to exhibit at this year's convention or be a sponsor, please call Charis Austin at 616-532-4737 ASAP.  Don't forget door prizes and auction items. All items must be new.

If you have any questions regarding this year's convention, please call me at: 616-532-4737.  See you in Kalamazoo in October!


Good Problem Solving

Donna Rose, LMSW


I think many people who are blind or visually impaired have become excellent problem solvers. It is probably because we need to adapt and readapt to our circumstances, and often at a moment's notice.

What are the traits of a good problem solver? First, they don't give up easily. They are more willing to see a problem through rather than throw up their hands in hopelessness. This brings them the life-saving characteristic of resilience. Being resilient is one of the most helpful traits a person can develop within themselves. It means that no matter what happens you know you will still be okay. Being resilient means you know, even though something is tough, you will make it through, and you do!

Good problem solvers can think about options when it looks like there are none. Not everyone is good at this, but everyone knows someone who is, so seek their counsel if you need it. It is probably wise, if you have time, to consult a couple of your friends to get their input on possible options. Unfortunately, depending on the importance of the problem, people can get extremely stressed and become unable to see any options. This is when it is best to sit down, take a few deep breaths to bring yourself back in the present moment so you can think more clearly.

Some problems seem like they have no end, but most do, so just hang in there. Some problems can be solved immediately, while others will take time and patience. You always have options and need to keep your mind open to them. One thing is for sure, if you ignore a problem too long it will only get worse. People who are the most resilient live the fullest lives because they don't allow their trials and tribulations to keep them down, and they know they have options.


Audible Pedestrian Signals

Donna Rose


Have you ever lived near an intersection and wished there was an Audible Pedestrian Signal (APS) there? Or, have you known of an intersection that is being modified or renovated only to find out the only disability access planned is curb cuts with truncated domes? Well, there is something you can do to get the APS devices you need at intersections.

Several times now, people who are blind in Greater Lansing have advocated for audible signals and actually have had several installed. The first thing you need to do is find out who is responsible for the roads where you want the signal installed. Sometimes roads are the responsibility of the city, county, state or federal government. You can usually find out by calling your County Road Commission, or Department. Once you have identified who is responsible for each road you can visit a meeting of that jurisdiction and speak about your need during public comment time. It is best to bring others with you who can also speak to the need for the audible signal. You can also follow up your visit with an email or letter to the individuals you are addressing. For a city or township you would visit your city council or board of trustees. For county roads, if you don't have a county road commission, you can usually write to the director of the road department and visit your County Board of Commissioners with your request. For state roads you would address the transportation section of the Michigan Department of Transportation.

Recently, here in Greater Lansing, we discovered a major intersection was to be totally renovated. It is the first intersection after exiting I-96 on Okemos Road and Jolly Road. As with many communities, ours is developing areas which would have never been developed in the past. In that particular corridor are now hotels, restaurants, and soon new apartments. Nearby are Okemos High School and many large corporations, like Jackson National Life and Blue Cross Blue Shield. So there are a lot of possibilities for jobs, and leisure activities there. These are county roads, so we asked our township to pass a resolution to put an audible signal there. They passed a resolution 6-0. In the meantime I wrote to the Director of the county road department with our plea for audible access there. I explained it would cost about $6,000 if they do the signal now, but $20,000 more if they retrofit later. We gathered these figures from the installers of our other audible signals in the area. We have used Polara devices previously.

Unfortunately, there is a misconception among people responsible for roads, that there needs to be people who are blind living or working in the area to substantiate the installation of an audible signal. But how does anyone know who will be present at any given time? I wrote in my letter there were two people working at Jackson Life who were visually impaired, there were other opportunities for employment there, many people stay in the surrounding hotels, eat at the restaurants, and the bus goes by there. The Director wrote me back and said the audible signal would be installed.

If you would like to get an audible signal at a street near you and don't know where to start, let me know and I will help you. Reach me at 517-489-2233.


Summer Lions Camp

Malaina VanderWal


The Muskegon Lions club will once again be hosting their summer camp for adults who are blind or visually impaired. This year the camp will take place from August 18-20. There are a variety of activities for attendees to enjoy.

Registration forms will be mailed soon as of the time of this writing. If you or anyone you may think might be interested in attending please contact Rosemarie Facilla at 231-759-8734 for more information!


Committee Reports


Accessible Prescription Labeling

Malaina VanderWal, chair


The Accessible prescription labeling committee is very close to a final draft of the flyer we hope to distribute to pharmacies doctor offices and more. The Executive Committee gave us feedback which has been taken into consideration and the flyer revision will reflect those changes. Once the flyer is completed and approved we will then decide our next course of action. We do not want to get ahead of ourselves, but the committee is dedicated to making steady progress and completion of the flyer will greatly move us along.

Again as always if you or someone you know would like assistance with an accessible labeling issue or for more information I can be reached at or by calling 616-308-9644.


Constitution & Bylaws

Wayne Lepiors, Chair


There isn't anything new at this time to report. If you have ideas about changes or amendments needing to be considered for our Bylaws or Constitution, I can be reached at: or 810-982-2378. Thanks and have a Great and Safe Summer to All.



Karla Fields, chair


There are four offices up for election at our upcoming State Convention. They are: First vice President, Second Vice President, Treasurer, and Assistant Secretary. The following incumbent candidates have announced they will seek another term. They are: Phyllis Magbanua for First VP, Charis Austin for Treasurer, and Mary Sibley for Assistant Secretary. There is currently no candidate for the Second VP position. If you are interested in running for any of these offices or would like to suggest someone please call a member of the committee: Arlene Moore 517-374-8681, Lora Leggett 586-791-4243, Debbie Robinson 616-235-8189, and myself Karla Fields 586-465-2338.


Opportunities Unlimited for the Blind

Rosemarie Facilla, Chair


Our committee to raise funds for OUB has met three times. We have discussed fund raising ideas both for the upcoming state convention as well as attempting to solicit donations at local Lions Club events with those of us who belong to Lions. We probably will need to obtain a raffle license and are working on that for convention. We will contact Kyle Austin regarding speaking to the hotel to be able to have the possibility of opening the raffle to the public at convention. At present, we are considering at least four baskets filled with items we can raffle off license pending.  If we don't have time to obtain a license and the ability to track tickets and keep a report for the state, then we will be looking at a Jail and Bail activity at convention instead. We will also consider placing donation canisters at the registration and information areas so people may donate if they so choose. If persons making donations want to be able to take a tax deduction, then a check made out to MCBVI would be a good choice. We are continuing to consider approaching our Lions Clubs to ask if donation canisters may be placed at each Lions Club event for donations as well.

We are also considering a few other ideas. There will be more to come as we continue to meet and plan. Our next meeting is July 13, 2017 prior to the next business meeting on Saturday July 15, 2017.



Donna Rose, Co-Editor


Malaina and I have been working hard with the goal of bringing you an informative and well written newsletter. We still are not getting participation from all of our committees who should either give us a written update, or let us know when there will be no report.

I have not put our newsletter survey questions into an accessible online survey yet, but I hope to get that done very soon. It's annoying how so many things seem to come up and can steal one's attention away from our goals. I have been having a difficult time with my health in the past three months, but MCBVI is important to me and when I don't make deadlines I am angry with myself.

Once again, please, please spellcheck your submissions to us and, if possible check your grammar. Sometimes we edit your items to shorten them without losing the meaning, or there is a better way to say what you want to say. It's not a personal thing, just an editing move which hopefully smooths the flow. The next MCBVI News deadline is October 15. Our contact information is located at the end of the newsletter in case you would like to submit something to be considered for publication in one of our issues.


Chapter Updates


Blue Water League - Port Huron Area

Phyllis Magbanua


It's going to be a busy summer for us. We have a lot of activities plan. On May 10th some of the BWL board members attended the Saint Clair Community Resource Fair and had the opportunity to meet other organizations and talked with them about ours. We had a table for our information, including braille samples, along with Leader Dog's. It turned out to be a really good day!

On May 13, one of our member's relatives had us over for a cookout with steaks and fish which were very good.

Then, on June 13th there are about twelve of us going to Lansing to The Library without Walls. Thanks to the Knights of Columbus and United Way for their generous donation for the van rental we will be using to get to Lansing.

Along with other plans, we will be walking in the Blue Water International Day Parade on July 19th with the Port Huron Host Lion's Club. The following day is Family Day for the Mackinac Island Sailboat Race, and we are hoping to have a table there to pass out goody bags with our chapter information, along with the Lions Club which will offer eye exams for children. We also have planned our annual picnic in July, then an ice cream social and another picnic sponsored by the Lions Club in September. We hope to see you at the MCBVI State Convention in October. Have a happy safe summer.


Capital Area Council of the Blind Greater Lansing

Donna Rose, President


Our chapter has reduced its meetings to five times per year. Since January we have had a demonstration of the ScripTalk machine for hearing your prescription information, and we had speakers from both the Tri County Office On Aging about their service and Elder Law as well. Our next meeting is in September when we hope to have a speaker from the Michigan Medicaid Medicare Assistance Program (MMAP). We all look forward to our annual picnic in August. And we will take a ride on the Michigan Princess in the fall as well. Guests are welcome and the cost is $41.50, and includes a barbecued rib dinner. Anyone interested in our chapter can call 517-489-2233. Happy summer!



Malaina VanderWal, President


During our May meeting, VIPP welcomed guests William Robinson director of the Bureau of Services for Blind Persons (BSBP), Lisa Kisiel director of Rehabilitation Services and Sue Luzenski. Director Robinson and Director Kisiel were there to address our group. We had close to 50 people in attendance, some who were not members of VIPP but interested in information about the BSBP.

After Kisiel and Robinson spoke briefly on changes taking place on a federal level which will impact some services at the state level they also took some time to answer questions.

One of the items brought up during the March meeting and revisited during the May meeting was whether or not VIPP should get a table at the Great Lakes Eye care conference in June taking place in Grand Rapids. Thanks to Bill Robinson and Leamon Jones at the BSBP We will be sharing a table with the BSBP and the Library for the Blind with two volunteers. In the next issue of the newsletter I will be able to report more about our participation in the event. It is important to note that without the assistance of the BSBP VIPP would not be able to participate in this conference.

We also discussed plans for our picnic in August and more will be sent to our members throughout the summer!


Member Concerns

Malaina VanderWal, coeditor


MCBVI has members in many areas of Michigan, and some members who live out of state. Unfortunately, sometimes this can make it difficult to feel connected and apart of MCBVI and we want to change this. There are members within our organization who are going through a difficult time whether it is health related or other circumstances. Donna and I invite members to let us know if you may be going through difficult times and for the members of our organization to keep you in our thoughts and prayers. Of course this is completely up to you. When we send out newsletter reminders those requests can be included. No need to explain just that you wish to be in the minds of your fellow members.

I will begin in this issue.

We will not publish names without the person's permission first. For now we ask that the Northerners and some members in VIPP be in your thoughts with their respective situations! It can be of help just knowing others are thinking of you. I hope this new section can lift those up who are in need!


MCBVI News Deadline

October 15, 2017

Submissions received after this date will be saved for the next newsletter


To Contact the Editors:

Donna Rose (note there is a dash between wild and rose)


Malaina VanderWal



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To act as a catalyst in changing the lives of people who are blind and visually impaired and their families through education, advocacy, and camaraderie.


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