Updated: Mar 30
Published by the
IOWA COUNCIL OF THE UNITED BLIND
An American Council of the Blind Affiliate
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com › Pages › Businesses › nonprofit organization
Carrie Chapman, President
304 W. Cedar St.
Goldfield, IA 50542
Don Wirth, Co-Editor
921 9th St., #208
Ames, IA 50010
Sandy Tigges, Co-Editor
2904 34th St.
Des Moines, IA 50310
Table of Contents
President’s Message 3
ICUB Convention Review 4
Happy Birthday, NLS e-reader 11
Shopping to Benefit ICUB 14
What’s New at the Iowa Department for the Blind 15
News You Can Use 17
Tips to Avoid Scams 18
Donating Your Vehicle to Support ICUB 21
Summaries of ICUB State Board Meetings 22
Across Iowa At-Large Chapter Report 26
Dubuque Chapter Report 27
Des Moines Chapter Report 29
Selecting ICUB as a Beneficiary 31
ICUB Board Members and Chapter Presidents 36
Dear Members and Friends,
I hope you all enjoyed our 2021 Iowa Council of the United Blind Conference and Convention. I think we can all agree that we would have preferred meeting in person. However, I think our virtual convention turned out great! Thank you to everyone who made it a success. At some point soon, we should have an audio version of it to share with you.
So, now we begin preparing for our 2022 gathering! If you are interested in being a part of our 2022 Conference Planning Committee, please let me know. We are always looking for members’ participation and help not only with Conference planning, but in a variety of ways.
Take care and stay safe.
Carrie Chapman, President
Iowa Council of the United Blind
ICUB Convention Review
This year’s ICUB Convention, held via Zoom August 20-21, was filled with lots of information and wonderful stories. From the opening virtual tour of the Iowa Historical Museum to the closing Happy Hour hosted by our Louisiana member and her Mississippi game show host, it was wall-to-wall non-stop action. Rather than try to recap everything that happened, let me offer highlights from some of the sessions that are still rattling through my head and inspiring me toward new initiatives.
Audio Described Tour of Iowa History Museum
The opening act was a first of its kind for an ICUB event—a virtual tour of an exhibit at the Iowa Historical Museum. Bettina and Cody Dolinsek worked with Leo Landis, State Curator for the State Historical Society of Iowa, to create an audio described tour of the exhibit, “Iowa's People & Places: An Introduction to 13,000 Years of Iowa History.” As it was a first for us, it was also a first-of-a-kind presentation of Museum artifacts by their staff.
My takeaway was that not only was the tour well presented, but also it sparked Mr. Landis to think of ways to offer more of the Museum’s treasures in an audio format. He indicated that he would like to do similar descriptions of other projects. To that end, he has contacted Iowa Radio Reading for training in audio description. He also indicated he will take this particular audio description project to the State conference of State museums to encourage them to consider creating similar tours of their exhibitions.
Travels with Karen
Later in the evening, Karen Keninger, retired Director of NLS (the National Library Service for the Blind and Print Disabled, spoke about the art of travelling. Karen has been everywhere (at least it seemed that way!). Her most important goals in travelling are to not only learn the territory, but, more importantly, to learn about and from the people. She makes a point on her ventures to meet and talk to residents, and to dig into the social climate. Before she departs, she researches the land she is visiting and identifies the specifics of where and what she will explore.
My most significant takeaway was Karen’s assessment that travelling can be educational and entertaining, but it doesn’t need to be expensive nor far away. Her next big adventure is to explore and get to know every inch of her acreage—in Jasper County, Iowa—investigating the nooks and crannies of the landscape as well as meeting the creatures that inhabit the space with her. That idea impressed upon me that I can make every day a travel adventure by being more attentive to my environment.
The Blind History Lady
Peggy Chong is a former resident of Iowa. She currently invests her time in writing about blind individuals throughout history, and so is widely known as “The Blind History Lady.” One topic Peggy presented concerned the history of Iowans attending Palmer College of Chiropractic. At one time, they were readily admitted; however, in recent years persons who are blind have met challenges to their enrollment and studies there.
But my takeaway came more from Peggy’s comments about why she does her research and writing. She is documenting our blind ancestors. Generally, in genealogy you research relatives—who they were and where they came from. But our blind ancestors generally are not related to us. We are related by our lack of sight. We probably did not have blind parents or siblings. But we all have a combined history of dealing with blindness. Our history is documented in personal records and in materials that may or may not seem significant elements of our lives. These resources are disappearing as the blind individual dies and his/her records or memorabilia are destroyed because they are not understood or not recognized being of historical value. Peggy’s mission is to make us aware of our blind ancestors so we can appreciate what has come before. The stories tell not only what others had to overcome, but give us insight as to how we can move forward. Being blind continues to be a challenge, but knowing what our ancestors had to deal with and how they attacked their issues can provide informative lessons for us. In addition, Peggy reminds us that we should be aware of our own history and help to record and retain information about our own lives.
Peggy’s writings can be found by subscribing to her newsletter, email@example.com. You can also find her books at smashbooks.com .
Louisiana Woman/Mississippi Man (Feel free to play the song while listening or reading the following summary)!
The wrap-up to the Convention was our Saturday night Happy Hour. While we were unable to get together in person, we did have an entertaining session hosted by Mary Haupt, the sole Louisiana resident among the ICUB ranks. Mary arranged for Ralph Smitherman, a member of the Mississippi Council of the Blind, to present a series of challenging games for our enjoyment. The Southern hospitality and flavor provided by Mary and Ralph added much to our Convention.
Our virtual Convention could not have been possible without the assistance of Deb Cook Lewis and her cohorts at ACB Media. Their flawless production of the streaming and Zoom sessions gave all of us an unhindered Convention experience. They filled programs interludes with messages from our sponsors, Greater Iowa Credit Union and Democracy Live. After the Conference was finished, they edited several of the sessions and streamed them on Sunday, August 22, over ACB Media. Thanks, Deb and crew, for all your work!
As time has passed ICUB’s state Constitution has aged. It required a few tweaks to keep up with the times. A Constitution Review Committee was appointed last year to review the document and recommend any changes that would reflect the organization today and would benefit us. Their recommendations follow.
Reduce the size of the board from 14 to 11. It was recommended that separate First and Second Vice Presidents offices be eliminated and replaced with a single Vice President position. It was also suggested that the number of non-officer directors be reduced from 8 to 6. Together, these changes would result in a Board membership of 11, and a requirement of 6 members in attendance for a quorum.
All officer positions ran concurrently for 2-year terms. To provide greater continuity, it was recommended that the President and Treasurer offices be filled in even-numbered years, while the Vice President and Secretary offices would be filled in odd-numbered years.
With a reduction in ICUB membership over the years, it has been more difficult to obtain the original required quorum of 25 to conduct business at State Conventions. It was recommended that the definition of quorum be changed to 25 or 20% of paid members, whichever is smaller.
Because Board members are to represent the members of ICUB, it was recommended the Constitution include a formal requirement that all Board members maintain payment of their dues throughout the length of their time in office.
It was recommended that members be notified of proposed Constitution changes at least 10 days prior to the meeting at which the changes are to be voted upon.
Should a Chapter disband, there was uncertainty as to what happens to any remaining funds. It was proposed that guidance for such circumstances be included in the Constitution advising that funds be directed to the state organization.
Information about the proposed changes were distributed prior to the convention. They were also read twice during the course of the convention. All amendments were passed.
Because there was no Convention in 2020, the terms of all Board members and Officers ended in 2021. The approved Constitution amendments reconfigured the Board to a total of 11 members. The Immediate Past President is not an elected position. The 10 elected were as follows:
President: Carrie Chapman - term expires in 2022
Vice President: Don Wirth - term expires in 2023
Treasurer: Jeana Mowery - term expires in 2022
Secretary: Liz Soenen - term expires in 2023
Norma Boge - term expires in 2023
Bettina Dolinsek - term expires in 2022
Carol Flickinger - term expires in 2022
Rosemary Russell - term expires in 2022
Donna Seliger - term expires in 2023
Rose Stratton - term expires in 2023
The following individuals have completed terms on the Board this year: First First Vice President, Sandy Tigges; Second Vice President, Teresa Gregg; Secretary, Catherine Witte; Directors Jackie Armstrong, Tyler Juranek, and Kristen Steele.
We and all ICUB members thank the current and retiring Officers and Directors for their years of service and their dedication to improving ICUB.
Happy Birthday! NLS Braille e-reader Is One Year Old
A year ago the National Library Service, (NLS), implemented a program to test a Braille e-reader via selected affiliate libraries. The goal was to develop a standard e-reader that could be distributed to library patrons in the same manner as audio book players. The Iowa Library for the Blind and Print Handicapped was one of the first test sites.
In September, 2020, distribution of e-readers was begun by the Library. Any patron who had record of requesting Braille books was contacted and asked if they would be interested in participating in the pilot project. Participants had to agree to use the e-reader and participate in a series of surveys. More than 200 e-readers were available for distribution. NLS also set up a listserv for participants in the project to enable them to share information and ask questions.
The e-reader distributed to Iowa patrons was developed by Humanware. Later in the year, NLS started distributing a second model of e-readers made by Zoomax to patrons of other libraries.
Users of Braille e-readers can get books, magazines and newspapers via download with a Wi-Fi connection; download books from Bookshare on a SD card; request books from the Library to be received on a cartridge; and get NFB Newsline newspapers. They can use Bluetooth to connect to an iPhone or an iPad to access applications on those devices.
Below is a description of the Humanware e-reader written by Frank Strong. Comments from some users of the e-reader follow his explanation of the unit.
What is the NLS E Reader? by Frank Strong
We are fortunate here in Iowa to be one of only four states which have been chosen to try out some new Braille technology. This project features the NLS e-reader.
What is the e-reader? The e-reader is a device which uses technology to bring Braille books and magazines to your fingertips. The device weighs less than a pound and is about the size of a large pencil box. The device contains 20 cells which represent Braille symbols. The line of cells is changed by the library patron as she or he follows the text of the book or magazine.
The e-reader is well-designed and includes a Braille keyboard. The keyboard is used to move from book to book and to search for new materials.
You do not need to be a computer expert to use this device. You do not need to know how to “download” books in Braille. Staff at the Iowa Department for the Blind’s Library will help you. In addition, there are support groups which may be available to help you become comfortable with using the e-reader. The e-reader includes a “User Guide” which is built into the device. It is also provided in hard copy.
The e-reader can hold many book and magazine titles. You can easily carry a small library with you. The beauty of it that it promotes Braille literacy, independence, and employment. The e-reader can open many doors of opportunity to blind Iowans. In addition, this system is usable by individuals who are both deaf and blind.
If you would like more information about how you can participate in this exciting opportunity, please call the Iowa Department for the Blind Library at 515-281-1333 or toll-free at 800-362-2587.
Here are some comments from the users of the e-reader:
“The e-reader has improved by Braille reading 10-fold. It’s an amazing little machine.”
“I really have enjoyed having access to more books as soon as I need them.” “If I think I’m going to have a wait for more than 10 minutes or so, the e-reader goes with me. Reading Braille has always given me the breaks I need from screen readers and text to speech. One of my favorite hobbies is spending time on our deck listening to a game and reading Braille. Very relaxing.”
“I use the e-reader every day! Thanks for such a great service!”
“I have intended to learn Braille better. This device is perfect for that. It goes everywhere (no excuse of carting around all those big volumes); books are immediately downloaded (don’t have to wait for mail) and I can listen to something else—music or ballgames—while reading, just like print readers. It is life-changing.”
Shopping to Benefit ICUB
Are you an online shopper? You can help ICUB secure some additional funds when you shop at smile.amazon.com .
There, enter your email address and password. You will be prompted to shop for the charity Amazon is promoting that day or to select your own. In the dialog box for selecting your own, type our name, Iowa Council of the United Blind. We will then be the charity of choice each time you shop at https://www.amazon.com . ICUB will get 0.5% of the value of eligible purchases. As of March 2021, ICUB has received $312.46 through this program.
You can also now support ICUB using the Amazon shopping app on your mobile phone. Download or update the app and then open it. Go to “Settings” in the main menu. Tap on “AmazonSmile” and follow the on-screen instructions to turn on AmazonSmile. You can also find the instructions by going to: https://www.amazon.com/b?ie=UTF8&node=15576745011
What’s New at the Iowa Department for the Blind? Orientation Center Update
Greetings, ICUB! Thank you again for the opportunity to contribute an article to your publication. I'd like to take this opportunity to introduce you to our new Orientation Center Director and offer a few updates about the Center.
On September 3rd, I was delighted to announce that Karly Prinds had accepted the position of Center Director. Karly has worked for IDB as the Home Management Instructor for six years. Prior to coming to IDB, she worked as the Home Management Instructor at Blind Industries and Services of Maryland (BISM) and the Colorado Center for the Blind. Prior to Center teaching, Karly worked in private business as a loan officer, customer service representative, nanny, and office manager.
Currently the Orientation Center has five students and two staff trainees. At the beginning of August, when the former director left, we were down to two students. Karly's first goal for the Center is to bring in more students. She is reaching out to clients who did not finish due to COVID and other life circumstances. She is working with counselors and teachers to increase the number of tours and following up with those tours to answer their questions and provide additional information. Karly and the Center Team are partnering with the Education and Training Team to better integrate SELF Week students with the Center students and promote their consideration of Center training. SELF Weeks are one-week intensive trainings for VR field services clients which can also be a great opportunity for these clients to learn more about the Center.
Beyond this immediate goal, the Center Team will be working to improve processes and procedures to ensure that the Center is running efficiently and providing the best possible training. This will include attendance procedures that emulate those found in the workplace, integration of education and volunteering into training, and the introduction of more challenging, confidence-building activities.
Karly will be joining me for the September Director's Forum on September 17th. For more information about what is going on at IDB, please join my monthly Director's Forum. These occur on the third Friday of every month from noon to 1:00 p.m. on Zoom at: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/109673957?pwd=bStha0U3WFdhdFhCS0wzcThnOVBZdz09
Meeting ID: 109 673 957
+1 312 626 6799 US (Chicago), Meeting ID: 109 673 957
Also, please sign up for our email updates. You can do this by visiting our website at https://blind.iowa.gov and choosing the "Sign Up" link.
News You Can Use
Norma A. Boge
Do you have an Alexa device but don’t use a computer? The Hadley Institute’s how-to workshops on Amazon devices and many additional topics are available in large print, digital talking book audio, or Braille. For more information or to request workshop materials in these formats, call the Hadley Institute for the Blind in Chicago at 1-800-323-4238.
The number of books in the Bookshare collection recently exceeded 1 million, a remarkable milestone. Established in 2001, Bookshare offers its books to qualified readers with print disabilities. These electronic books can be read on a computer, smart phone, tablet or Braille display, such as the Humanware e-reader. To find out more, phone 1-650-352-0198 or visit www.bookshare.org .
Accessible Pharmacy provides accessible packaging and labelling as well as personalized customer support, all free of charge to the consumer, and specifically designed for those who are blind or have low vision. Call 215-799-9900 for information or visit www.accessiblepharmacy.com .
Iowa Compass has information about services and support for Iowans with disabilities, their families, and service providers. Access thousands of local, state and national programs for people with complex health conditions and disabilities. Call 1-800-779-2001 or visit https://iowacompass.org/ .
Exciting new accessibility features are coming to iPhones, iPads and Apple watches. One feature which will benefit low vision users is the ability to set display and text size options within individual apps. For more on this and other accessibility improvements, visit https://tinyurl.com/25wkvfcs .
Tips to Avoid Scams
(Ed. Note: At the 2021 ICUB State Convention, Officer Kurt Kruger of the Ames Police Department presented tips to avoid becoming the victim of a scam. What follows is the documentation Officer Kruger used for his presentation.)
Tips to Avoid Becoming the Victim of a Scam
Recognize the "red flags" of a scam:
You didn't initiate the communication. Someone called, emailed, or otherwise contacted you.
You are made to feel excited alarmed, scared, or panicked. Scammers use your emotion to cloud your judgement.
You are asked to provide payment through online transfers, gift cards, or reloadable money cards. iTunes, GreenDot, PayPal Cash, MoneyGram, etc. are popular forms of payment for scammers. While these are legitimate companies, it is nearly impossible to reverse the transaction or trace the money.
Don't send money to strangers, to sellers who Insist on using the using the methods above for payment, or to anyone who claims to be a relative or friend in an emergency and wants to keep the request a secret.
Be wary of anyone asking for payment in gift cards. They are not a form of currency.
If you are contacted by a known company and asked to provide any form of payment or personal information, discontinue the contact, and call the company yourself.
Do not use the contact information provided by the caller. Instead, look the number up yourself.
With internet phone services, it is difficult to tell where a call is coming from. Some scammers will mimic the phone numbers of legitimate companies, agencies, or institutions (banks, the IRS, a police department, etc.).
It is a good idea to search online for the company name, website, and phone number.
Do not send money or give out personal information unless you initiated the call.
Government agencies such as the IRS will not contact you and/or accept payment by phone to pay fines, fees, taxes etc.
If you are informed via phone or email that you have an arrest warrant, it is probably a scam. Law enforcement rarely makes these contacts and will not accept payment to avoid you going to jail.
Law enforcement will not contact you to demand money for violations you may have committed.
Some scams involve an email or text message from a bank or other institution. Never click on links. Call the institution directly or look the information up yourself, through an app or website.
Computer repair scams can be used to access your personal information. If you think there may be a problem with your computer, that you can't fix, take it to a trusted, local repair business. Don't allow anyone to access your computer remotely.
If someone offers to pay more than they owe you, with the request that you send a portion to someone else, it is probably a scam. This common scam often involves sending you a forged, fraudulent, or stolen check. It will pass through your bank but after you send money from your account, the check will be found fraudulent and you will be out the money you sent.
If someone tells you that you have to pay to receive money you have won or been awarded, it is probably a scam. If it is too good to be true, it probably is.
Follow @AmesPolice on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for updates on scams that are being attempted in the area.
If you think you may be the victim of a scam please call your local police department.
Donating Your Vehicle to Benefit ICUB
Do you need to dispose of a used vehicle? ICUB's Used Vehicle Donation Program offers a perfect solution. Your vehicle will be picked up from your home and sold at auction. A portion of the proceeds go directly to ICUB. You can claim a tax deduction equal to the dollar value of the vehicle. Call 800-899-4925 for more information.
Digest of ICUB Board activity, Dec., 2020 – Aug. 2021 Catherine Witte
2020: December 1: Standard motions to approve the Sept. 22, 2020, meeting minutes and the Treasurer’s Report were made and passed. A motion to resume bonding of the Treasurer as required by our State Constitution was made and passed. The bonding covers up to $50,000 of our assets for a premium of $300.00 per year. The Treasurer was directed to draft a policy for 2-step verification of checks over $2,000.00 drawn on our account. It was noted that the Des Moines Chapter has provided funds to the State to cover organization and Board member insurance for the next 3 years. Conference call data during the pandemic shows that the platform has been used for 276 calls involving 6 to 26 persons on any one call and sharing information for 8,506 minutes. Efforts to secure accessible absentee ballots for blind Iowans for the 2020 general election were unsuccessful. ICUB was able to educate the public on the issue which received a great deal of positive publicity. Secretary of State Pate is expected to seek a legislative remedy in the next session. ICUB’s seat on the Library Consumer Advisory Committee is available to be filled. Following discussion of the pandemic situation, a motion was approved to convene ICUB’s 2021 state convention virtually. The Des Moines, Across Iowa and Dubuque Chapters presented reports. Dubuque is embarking on a major recruitment effort.
2021: January 2: This is a special ad hoc meeting to review progress on the accessible absentee ballot in Iowa. Recently, ICUB and several other group representatives met with Secretary of State Office staff regarding progress on Accessible Absentee balloting in Iowa. Essentially no progress has been made. The Secretary’s staff offered the same proposal as they did in 2019 which would result in a pilot program tested no sooner than November, 2022, and, if successful, no proposed legislation considered before 2023. The proposed bill was provided to the Board prior to the meeting for review. Our recent efforts to achieve accessible absentee balloting have garnered much positive publicity. Mr. Jim Obradovich of The Capitol Group, a lobbying firm, contacted ICUB on the basis of those stories and offered a sample contract with ICUB. It was provided to the Board prior to this meeting. The Capitol Group would represent ICUB on the accessible absentee balloting issue and possibly other concerns. Mr. Obradovich is known to us as he has long served on the IRIS Board. Mr. Obradovich recognizes and would adhere to boundaries set for non-profits in lobbying efforts. It was moved, seconded and approved that the Board authorize ICUB to spend up to $1,000 to secure a contract with The Capitol Group to represent ICUB on the balloting issue and other items as appropriate. The contract will cover both sessions of the 89th General Assembly, from December, 2020, through July 1, 2023.
January 26: Standard motions approving the Secretary’s and Treasurer’s reports were passed. Jeana Mowery offered a Financial Account Protection Policy, drafted at the Board’s request, for review. (It had been sent to Board members prior to this meeting). Some changes and clarifications were requested. It was moved and seconded that the policy, incorporating suggested changes, be approved. Motion carried. Other topics discussed included: a Convention update, accessible absentee balloting, the contract with the Capitol Group, Kristen Steele’s appointment to the Library Consumer Advisory Committee, pursuing grants or sponsorships for our Annual Conference, the status of our website, and a Dubuque Chapter Report.
June 1: Standard motions approving the Secretary’s and Treasurer’s reports were passed. The Constitution Committee Report’s recommendations were presented, discussed, amended, and passed. See review of the proposed changes which were passed by the membership at our 2021 State assembly elsewhere in this Bulletin. ACB Media is providing training on the Zoom platform to prepare us for a virtual State Conference and will be streaming the Conference on ACB radio. A motion was approved to donate $250.00 to ACB Radio. Our current voting procedures are not useful in a virtual meeting. Don Wirth developed procedures to be used in a virtual setting which were reviewed by the Board, moved for passage and approved. A delegate and alternate to the national ACB conference are usually nominated and approved by vote at ICUB’s annual meeting. None occurred in 2020. The Board nominated and approved Carrie Chapman as delegate to ACB’s 2021 Conference, and Don Wirth as alternate. A summary of the Constitution Committee’s recommendations was attached to these minutes. This same summary was mailed to all members prior to ICUB’s annual meeting.
August 3: Standard motions approving the Secretary’s and Treasurer’s reports were passed. ICUB had been relying on a member’s personal account to use Zoom as a meeting platform. It was moved, seconded, and approved that ICUB obtain its own Zoom account for costs not to exceed more than $150.00 per year. Other topics discussed included: availability of our website in the near future, mailing of registration packets, the Annual Conference voting guidelines (will require a membership vote), and proposed Constitution changes (will require a membership vote), status of financial audits, and Across Iowa and Des Moines Chapter reports.
August 21 (Annual meeting): ICUB’s 2021 Annual Conference was held virtually. Voting procedures for a virtual meeting were approved by the ICUB Board earlier, and then reviewed and approved by the membership at this meeting prior to any Council business discussions. A Nominations Committee was selected and approved by the membership. A standard financial audit has not been made since our 2019 meeting as we are not gathering in person. A monthly review of income and expenses is made by a Board member. It was moved, seconded and approved that we identify one person to review o