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

American Council of the Blind

John Jarzyna, President

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Highlights in this Issue



by John Jarzyna


Following my last update in November 2017, The MCBVI Marketing Committee was established and I appointed Becky Kooistra as committee Chair. I want to thank Becky for stepping up and chairing this newly formed committee. The first meeting was held in December and the committee has met every month since. More details on what the committee is working on will appear later in this issue.

In addition to, creating the Marketing Committee, the long awaited MCBVI listserv is finally a reality. Thanks to the list owner and moderators for setting the list up and establishing guidelines for its operation. Much information can be shared by our members who are participating in the ListServ.

During the March Executive Committee meeting, a discussion was held regarding town hall meetings with our members and the next one will be on April 14, 2018 at 10:00AM by conference call. These town hall meetings are another way MCBVI members can stay in touch with one another until it is time for our state convention. The convention will be held this year at the Four Points by Sheraton Kalamazoo, in Kalamazoo Michigan. This was decided after the possibility of a joint convention with other surrounding states was explored. It was ultimately decided a joint convention would not work for MCBVI for 2018.

Finally, if anyone in MCBVI plans to attend the 2018, ACB Convention in St. Louis let me know by June 1, 2018. The number where I can be reached is 586-781-3646.





by Kyle Austin, Chair


Mark your calendars the 45th annual MCBVI state convention will be October 5-7, 2018. Attendees who want to arrive early may do so Thursday October 4, 2018. The convention will be held again in Kalamazoo at the 4 Points by Sheraton Kalamazoo in Kalamazoo Michigan.

The theme for this year’s convention will be “Your Health and Safety Part Two.”

The annual auction will be on Friday October 5, 2018 and all items must be new. We will not except used items. If you wish to sponsor or know of someone who would like to sponsor the convention, Charis Austin can be contacted at 616-532-4737 for details. Charis is also the person to contact if you know of someone who wishes to be an exhibitor.

Additional information will be published in the July newsletter. If you have questions regarding the convention, I can be contacted at 616-532-4737.




Editor’s note: Rosemarie Facilla submitted an essay for the Ernie Reynolds Essay Contest offered through Michigan Protection and Advocacy Services. She won first prize and was invited to a luncheon and accepted her award in the Capitol Rotunda in Lansing on February 27, 2018. Congratulations Rosemarie. Her winning essay is below.


I lost my sight from Retinitis Pigmentosa, while living in Salt Lake City Utah, shortly after moving there from Long Island, New York. Because of my loss of vision, I was forced to change educational goals and occupations. I became blind at age twenty-three.

I applied to state rehabilitation along with Social Security Disability since I had worked. I had access to the trust fund for my education.  I was asked what I thought I could do and I said I could talk to people. I became a Social Worker

When I didn’t care for the blind rehabilitation I went to the regular rehabilitation services and later transferred only after standing firm on that I would pick the person who would work with me.

I was fortunate to interview the two counselors available and picked a gentleman who was blind from the same eye disease and he became my mentor and support.

After obtaining my first dog guide, I had challenges in accessing public places. I had an issue at the local airport in 1976 where they wouldn’t allow my guide to go through security and insisted I leave it there. I told the person I was going to the phones and call the local news station to inform the public how blind people with dog guides were being treated at the airport. Before I was able to dial the number, the airport manager was at my side and spoke to the security people. After that I was never told that again. I had to advocate for myself to be allowed in restaurants with my dog. I usually had to explain the law to the proprietor and a couple of times the law was involved. This got better with disability rights, but a couple of years ago ran into an incident here in Muskegon and the police were called and they informed the proprietors they were in the wrong and explained the law.

At work I had again to work with the EEO to obtain an evaluation for my job and work station so recommendations could be made to make work easier. Technology has always been a huge challenge as assistive technology isn’t well known by IT people and when the computer wouldn’t work because of software issues I had to work these out by again standing firm on my needs.

Life with a disability can be challenging, but fulfilling with the right supports, technology and the ability to stand your ground and what your needs are to make it in this world independently. As a result of many standing strong together blind people now have the ability to go to the polls and cast their ballot secretly with the aid of a voting machine that speaks to you and allows you to select the candidates and print your ballot. Without advocacy and strength in numbers advances can’t be made and our ability to function independently is impaired.









by Donna Rose


Beginning on October 1, 2020 you will be required to have a Compliant “Real ID” in order to fly domestically to and from many federal facilities. Types of Compliant Real IDs include a US Passport, a Real ID driver’s license or State ID Card and about 10 others. An Enhanced Identification or Driver’s license already meets Real ID standards.

Congress passed the “Real ID ACT” in 2005 on the recommendation of the 9/11 Commission, that identification should contain certain features which make it difficult to reproduce so officials can be assured that you are you and to limit false identification!

The Michigan Secretary of State’s Office will continue to provide regular driver’s licenses and State Identification Cards, so it will be up to you to ask either at renewal time or before that you want the “Real ID” identification. If you ask when you are renewing your driver’s license or State Identification Card there will be no charge, but if you renew prior to the expiration date there will be a fee. You will need to bring certain documents to the Secretary of State’s Office in order to apply for a Real Compliant ID.

You could also get a passport for flying, but they are very expensive, $110 for a regular application, but with a passport you can travel outside the country, while the regular Real Compliant ID is for domestic air travel.

You can also request an “Enhanced ID” for your State Identification Card or Driver’s License which will also meet “Real ID” standards. It will always carry a fee and special documents will be required to apply. An Enhanced ID has advantages in that it currently allows you to visit North American Border countries without a passport. To learn more you can visit, and search for “Real ID”.



Malaina VanderWal, Chair

The MCBVI APL Committee attempted to contact the Michigan Pharmacist Association since the last newsletter was published. However, this proved to be more difficult than we anticipated. We were successful in making contact with the Michigan Optometric Association. The APL Committee plans on sending them a copy of our Accessible Prescription flyer. Included with the flyer will be personal stories highlighting problems experienced when prescription information is not accessible! If we can educate both the medical and consumer communities, more people may benefit.

Accessible labels are available in large print, braille and audio formats from select pharmacies. Each accessible label provides prescription information in the alternative format, which is on the standard print label.

If you are someone wanting to learn more about accessible labels, and where to get them the APL Committee is here to help. Also, if there is an issue you wish to bring to our attention, I can be reached at 616-308-9644.

Constitution and Bylaws

Wayne LePiors, Chair

There have been no submissions for the bylaws or constitution at this time. If you would like to submit an addition or amendment for consideration, please contact me at:, or by phone 810-982-2378.


Casey Dutmer, Chair

The Legislative Committee met several times this year. We prioritized issues we should be working on. On the State level, the issue which we believe needs the most attention is the new accessible voting machines which began to appear in all counties last fall. A meeting was held on March 12, in Lansing hosted by Senator Hertel's office. The SECRETARY of State’s office was represented as well as the Lansing City Clerk’s Office. The meeting was requested by residents of Ingham County, who are blind or visually impaired. MCBVI was represented by Donna Rose, Charis Austin and I.

Three different voting machines were displayed because all three are used throughout the state. We had an opportunity to try all of the machines. We discussed a variety of concerns expressed by the consumers who participated in this meeting. I believe MCBVI can play a vital role in improving the performance of these machines. We are working to have all three voting machines on display at our state convention in Kalamazoo.

Other legislative items include:

We urge you to start becoming involved to make your voice heard. Members of our committee are: Casey Dutmer, Chairman; Charis Austin, and Brenda Henige.


Becky Kooistra, Chair

For those of you who do not know me, my name is Becky Kooistra and I am Chair of the newly formed MCBVI Marketing Committee. Our mission is: “to recruit, renew, and retain relationships with our members and with others who have an interest in what we do.”

In an effort to recruit new and renew former members, we put together a Recruitment Challenge for all the chapters. The goal of the challenge is for each chapter to increase their membership by at least 10 percent between March 15, and September 15, 2018. Each chapter that attains the aforementioned goal will receive an award at the MCBVI state convention in October.

Our committee is working hard at coming up with other ideas to fulfill our mission. If any of you have any ideas or would like to join the marketing committee, please feel free to email me at:


Charis Austin, Chair

As of March, 2018, MCBVI has 139 members, a gain of eleven members. Because of a suggestion made during the Sunday morning meeting at the convention, a number of past members were contacted. Welcome to all new members!

The breakdown of members is as follows. This breakdown does not include people who belong to more than one chapter.

BWL: 30

Capital Area: 14

Northerners: 6

MAL: 13

Mitten Phone Chapter: 16

VIPP: 60

I am excited to announce that after much discussion, MCBVI is starting The Mitten Phone Chapter. It is on target to receive its charter at the banquet during the convention. There is information about this new chapter elsewhere in this newsletter.

Another project I have been involved in is setting up MCBVI_L, an email list to provide an opportunity where MCBVI members can share and discuss information relating to MCBVI or blindness. The Executive Committee and Tech Committee agreed that MCBVI-L should be open to MCBVI members only. Invitations have been sent to members who have email. If you did not receive an invitation or now want to subscribe, send a blank email to It may take a day or two to be approved. Please be patient. Malaina VanderWal and Joe Todd have stepped up to moderate the list. I am stepping back and letting them do the daily operation of the list. I do receive all messages so if there is a problem, I can help resolve it. Even if you don’t post messages, please take advantage of subscribing to the list because this will be a great way to stay in touch with what is going on with the organization. Members are starting to use this as a means to stay in touch with each other. The first message your post must be approved. This is a filter established by the list provider to help prevent spam.

In closing, please remember to let me or your chapter contact know of any changes in your contact information. If this information changes without our knowledge you will miss out on important information because we cannot contact you. This is our organization, let’s make it great! 


Karla Fields, Chair

The offices up for election at the 2018, MCBVI convention are: President, Secretary and Assistant Treasurer. As of this writing we have one candidate running for secretary, Lindsey LeVere. Please contact any member of the Nominations committee if you wish to run yourself, or if there are suggestions for a candidate. Members are: Arleen Moore, Debbie Robinson and I. I can be contacted at 586-465-2338.


Donna Rose, Co-Editor

Malaina and I take turns doing the newsletter. It is my turn this time. There is a lot to put together a newsletter like ours. We have to cut and paste the articles into the document, edit each, format each, and when we think we are done we have to edit again, re-edit, spell check, check and recheck formatting and make sure the front and back pages are added and accurate as well. We have to check every indent, run text analyzer in JAWS over the whole document to make sure we don’t have stray punctuation or spaces. This can take hours or days to achieve. We try to keep to the time schedule adopted a couple of years ago. We have done very well at keeping the schedule on track since then.

This newsletter comes out three times per year. We provide an issue in the spring, summer and fall. By doing this we avoid holidays and our membership drive.

Please remember to spell check your documents prior to sending them to us, attach your documents in MS Word whenever possible in Ariel 14 point font. Always remember to give us contact information with your committee report or chapter update.

Our effort to do a newsletter survey was thwarted when we could not find an accessible way to enter our questions into an online survey. Many survey programs are accessible to users, but not to those planning and producing a survey. We will be exploring other ways to gather this information and will keep you posted. The next newsletter deadline will be June 15, 2018.


Malaina VanderWal, Chair

The Resolutions Committee began brainstorming ideas for possible Resolutions for 2018. By the time you read this, we will have met multiple times. We have some ideas right now but, we want to hear from the membership. If anyone wishes to bring forth a suggestion for a resolution we are open to considering it. The committee does ask that a clear explanation of the issue is given. We may not always be familiar with the issue and we want to make sure it is understood so that an effective resolution is written.

It is the responsibility of the Resolutions Committee to write resolutions. However, it is the responsibility of the MCBVI membership to give us direction.

The Committee’s goal is to write resolutions our organization will act upon. This means everyone needs to participate in the process.

Adopting resolutions is not effective if there is no follow through from our organization! If we all work together we will be successful in achieving our goals!

If anyone wishes to learn more about the resolution process or would like to be a part of the committee contact me at 616-308-9644.


Charis Austin, Chair

At the beginning of 2017, we partnered with ACB Mini Mall and ordered 80 card cases. Cost to purchase each case from ACB was $6.50 = $540.00.

If paying cash or a check, the cost of each case was $12.00. A

$3.00 fee per case was added if paying using PayPal. It was anticipated that shipping would be approximately $4.00 per order. Thank you to Marcia Moses who donated the cost of shipping so shipping was not charged. She did not tell me how much it was. Amount Earned: $1,164.00

Fees: $43.09

Net Profit: $1,120.91.

The next project was to find sponsors and collect exhibit fees for the MCBVI Convention. Amount earned was $1,912.00. At the convention auction we brought in $813.00.

Thank you to Donna Rose for bringing forward the idea of selling products from Rada Cutlery. This is an easy fundraiser for us because all we had to do is go online and place our orders and promote, promote, promote! The company takes care of all shipping and emails me a check each month. Information was placed on Facebook and shared, reminders were emailed to members, and the information was placed on our webpage.  When the information was sent out to members, a deadline of December 30, 2017 was stressed, but we still have access to the fundraising page and if people want to place orders, they can do so. Thus far we have received two checks: $22.15 and $91.86 = $114.01. Checks have been forwarded to Matt.

Rada Cutlery has been very good about reminding me that we have a fundraising page. They send messages with recipes, pictures of things to be posted each week to bring attention, and marketing ideas. Unfortunately the pictures do not have alt-tags on them so I don’t know what I am posting.

We also receive some funds from donations through the MMS Program and other sources. In December, we received a $100.00 donation from Judge Joe Brown. I know nothing about him. I emailed him a thank you note along with a brochure in hopes that he will contact us for more information. 

Fundraising is an ongoing job for everyone. It is not a job for one person. People tell me that they want to have a fund for scholarships but if we want to do this, we need more money than was raised in 2017.

In closing, you can ask friend/family and local businesses for sponsors/donations even though you say you can’t. I was afraid when I first started. Think of how much time ACB is spending on fundraising to keep the organization going. It was everyone’s hope that if we posted the Rada Cutlery information on Facebook orders would come in. The more you work, the more you get. If we don’t do this ourselves, no one will do it for us. Stop saying I can’t, say “I Can.”


Jackie Boomstra, Chair


The MCBVI Technology committee has been very active these past few months. We have been working on the new initiatives that were announced last October. There are some exciting things going on in Technology for MCBVI.   

We have an MCBVI ListServ for MCBVI members. It has been up and running for a few weeks. There have been lots of technology tips shared on various topics of interest to those who are blind and visually impaired, including accessible mobile applications, Comcast accessibility, i-Devices and MCBVI Radio. Helpful information is being shared every day that is of benefit to all of us.

The MCBVI Radio station is now on the air. Joe Sibley is the program manager and Mike Smith is the Assistant Program Manager. MCBVI members have been listening to our station on their computers and mobile devices. Positive comments have been posted on our ListServ and requests for future programming have been received. We will put links to MCBVI Radio and ListServ on our website. We are also looking into putting links to MCBVI Radio on Tune-In Radio. The Radio station and ListServ will increase communication between members, offer entertainment and learning opportunities that were not previously available to us. We will be able to make recordings of live webinars, convention programs and interviews with members who use technology for broadcasting at a later time. 

We are exploring the possibility of using FM transmitters or commercial assistive listening devices so that hearing impaired people can participate fully in MCBVI conventions. Listening Technologies and Williams Sound are 2 vendors that provide assistive listening devices, although, they are more expensive than FM transmitters.

The Technology Committee welcomes your ideas and comments. Please contact me by phone at 616-455-6069 or by email at:



Phyllis Magbanua

Well here it is March just one step closer to spring, and that means more activities coming up in the months ahead for our chapter. This is going to be another busy spring and summer for us. We have several activities and two fundraisers ahead we are working on. We will let you know how it goes.

In January we had our annual meeting and in February our elections. There were 18 of us who met for our Valentine Luncheon at the Dorsey House for Pizza.

We have a meeting coming up this month where we will be planning activities for the upcoming year. We wish you all a happy safe spring with lots of sunshine.


Donna Rose

Our chapter had a nice party in December at our member Barb Johnson’s home. We ordered pizza, socialized and played a gift swapping game and board game. WE adopted a four member family for Christmas.

Several of us gathered the items needed which were on a list. We were surprised their wishes were very practical as they asked for clothes, coats, bedding and not one toy. At our February meeting we had a speaker at our luncheon meeting at Buddies Pub and Grill. We are hoping to have our transit authority, CATA, come to our next meeting which was postponed until May. We are starting with a new ADA paratransit contractor on April 1 and by then we should know how it is going.

We finally got a credit union account open at a new place. Our previous bank closed its branch on the east side of town prompting us to want to open accounts at one with more branches.

Anyone who would like more information regarding our activities or meetings can contact me at 517-489-2233.


Rosemarie Facilla

The Executive Committee and other members have been busy working on forming a conference call-in chapter. Participants have been meeting by phone. We have had five meetings now and have chosen a name for the chapter. The name Mitten Phone Chapter has been agreed upon by the members as an appropriate name as it reflects all in our state. 

We have a committee meeting regularly to form the Constitution and Bylaws. The committee members are Frank Cunningham, Marcia Moses and Toni Nye.

A chapter dues structure has been agreed upon of $10 for the chapter, for a total of $20 for the year once the chapter is chartered. All members at large or those who are unable to participate in a local chapter, or are just interested in being a part of this are welcome. Members who reside out of state and who are a member of MCBVI are also invited to participate.

Frank Cunningham is taking the office of President, Tyrone Hamilton Vice-President, Tony Nye Secretary and Rosemarie Facilla Treasurer.

A committee of two, Marcia Moses and Karla Fields agreed to be a calling committee to remind everyone of the meetings.

The Chapter meets the fourth Saturday of the month by conference call at 10:00A.M. The conference line is the same we use for all meetings: 515-739-1256, with an access code 383125#

We are happy about the progress that is being made and hope to be able to be chartered at our 2018, State Convention. For questions or more information regarding this chapter, please contact Frank Cunningham, president at 586465-6694.


Malaina VanderWal

In December 2017, several VIPP members along with their friends attended the play “Annie” at the Civic Theater in Grand Rapids. Thanks to the kindness of the Thornapple Valley Lions Club for making this possible! Everyone enjoyed the play immensely. Andy Rent, a local radio personality provided superb audio description for VIPP members and guests who requested it! Thanks go out to Andy for once again describing the visual elements of the play that we otherwise would have missed!

During our January meeting Tom Behler took office as Vice-President and Kyle Austin began another term as Treasurer. My sincere thanks to Bob Boruta for the last two years as Vice-President!

During our March 13, meeting our guest speaker was Senez Rodriguez, Manager of Security and Emergency Preparedness at Mary free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital. The topic of the presentation was what to do in the event of an “Active Assailant or Hostage Situation.” The presentation was great and we were provided with valuable information and tips. Thanks to Deb Robinson for arranging this for us!

On April 18, 2018, there will be a demonstration of the new voting machines for Kent County. The demonstration of the Dominion will take place at the Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired in Grand Rapids from 1:00-4:30PM. This will give those of us who previously did not experience the machine in November an opportunity to see how it works and provide feedback.

Next MCBVI News Deadline

June 15, 2018

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


Our Mission: 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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