Published by the
IOWA COUNCIL OF THE UNITED BLIND
An American Council of the Blind Affiliate
Bettina Dolinsek, 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
Hello members and friends!
I hope you are all doing well and have recovered from such a great State Convention. I can’t tell you how exciting it was to be in person again and how long ago it seemed since we have been able to be together. It was so wonderful connecting with old friends and meeting new ones. From the speakers and exhibits to the impromptu jam session at the fire pit on Friday night, the Conference left me full and ready to begin working with you all this year. Thank you to each and every one who made this year’s Conference such a great one! A special thanks to our Convention sponsors, Democracy Live, Greater Iowa Credit Union and FuseBox One, and to all the vendors who added another dimension to the excitement of being together in person again!
As you know, this great organization cannot be run by just one person; it takes a village. I know as I am settling into my new role as President, I am going to lean on many of you for support. There are many members with years of experience and knowledge which I look forward to tapping into. Even in such a short time since my election, Carrie, Jeana, and many others have offered so much, and I’m so thankful to them. Please feel free to reach out if you need anything. I’m happy to do what I can.
Let me tell you a bit about myself. I’m married to Cody Dolinsek, and we will celebrate twenty-five years of marriage in December. We have one cat, Stella, and she is the life of our house. Cody and I reside in Ankeny. I work full-time for Nationwide Insurance as a Digital Accessibility Analyst. I have been with Nationwide for 7 years. Cody is a professor at Drake University in the Philosophy and Religion Department. He just started his eighth academic year.
I really enjoy athletics, and I’ve begun running with a guide running group, Synergy. On September 17, I will run/walk a 5K with them. I’m super excited to be a part of this group. In 2013, I received my Level 1 certificate with CrossFit, and still enjoy doing those workouts. Since the pandemic began, I started to workout at home, and we built a gym in our garage. We continue to add to it, and I love the freedom to workout whenever it fits in my day. I do miss the comradery with friends at the local CrossFit gym.
I’m so excited to get to know you all in the up-coming months. I know this is going to be a great year for ICUB. As I said earlier, my door is always open, and I look forward to hearing from you all soon. Cheers until next time!
Bettina Dolinsek, President
Iowa Council of the United Blind
Results of Board Elections
One of the major responsibilities of the ICUB State Conference and Convention is the election of officers and members of the Board of Directors. At this year’s Convention, we elected a President, Treasurer and four Board members. Contact information for each person can be found on the ICUB website at icublind.org. Those elected were:
President: Bettina Dolinsek
Treasurer: Jeana Mowery
Board members to serve 2-year terms: Karen Keninger, Robert Martin, and Mike Hoenig
Board member to serve a one-year term: Monica “MO” Carpenter
With nearly every election comes the end of the tenure of some Board members. This year Carol Flickinger, Rosemary Russell, and Norma Boge finished their service as Board members. With the election of a new president, Carrie Chapman will now move into the Board role of Immediate Past President, which means that Robert Spangler will conclude his tenure in this position.
The Bulletin editors ask you to join us in congratulating the new Officers and Board members, and offering them our support in the new year. We would also like to extend our sincere appreciation to those whose time on the Board has ended. Their work has helped ICUB move forward.
Meet the Board – In Their Own Words
Compiled by Liz Soenen
Editor’s Note: A quasi-regular feature of the Bulletin is an interview with one Board member to provide fuller knowledge to all about those who are leading our organization. In this issue, we are taking a different approach. President Dolinsek has requested that all Board members share some of their personal background so that they can get to know each other better and the ICUB membership can get to know them better as well. Here is what each one shared.
Bettina Dolinsek: I’m honored to be your State President, and I want all of you to know you are welcome to contact me at any time. My phone number is 866-436-0141, or you can email me at email@example.com. Besides representing ICUB as the State President, I work full-time for Nationwide Insurance as a Digital Accessibility Analyst. I have been at Nationwide for seven years. I also love sports and working out with my husband Cody. During the pandemic, we have turned our garage into a home gym. I will also begin working with Team Run Free in their guide running program, Synergy. Cody and I live in Ankeny and have one cat, Stella. Cody will continue teaching Philosophy at Drake University in Des Moines this fall. It is his eighth academic year at Drake.
Don Wirth: Getting to catch up with so many people at the Convention was a highlight for me - followed closely by the great information shared. I am currently in my second year as Vice President of ICUB. I also am President of the Across Iowa Chapter and facilitate a book group that meets every other Wednesday. I am serving as the ICUB representative to the Iowa Library for the Blind and Print Disabled Consumer Advisory Committee and on the Friends of the Library Board. I am a lifelong resident of Ames proper or a farm outside Ames. My wife Sharon has been a longtime community activist in Ames. We have two children—one in Ames and one in Chicago. I am a Yankees and ISU fan. I love reading, especially history and mysteries.
Jeana Mowery: Greetings to the 2022-2023 Board!! It is so interesting to learning all the backgrounds of our Board membership!! There is a wonderful amount of knowledge and experience in our new and returning board members, and I am very excited for the upcoming year!
I am a born-and-raised Iowa farm girl. I grew up east of Ames, attended the University of Iowa and graduated from Drake University with a BA in education. I have resided in Iowa all my life from the eastern side to the western border and several places in between, sometimes corralled in a town or city but always loving it when I could get back to the countryside.
In the mid-eighties, when I was a student in the Orientation Center at the Iowa Department for the Blind, I became acquainted with ICUB and attended a couple of ACB National Conventions. Then marriage, three children, homeschooling, volunteer work, etc. took the major part of my attention. One day, what seemed a lifetime later, Cynthia Qloud, then ICUB President, called my husband Dennis and asked if he would consider taking on being the Treasurer of ICUB. At that time, he was treasurer of a youth organization and quickly said, “No.” (He’s been told by a dear friend that he is smarter then he looks--maybe she was right!) Since CIP had me on the phone, she said, “Jeana, how about you?” I must not be smarter than I look, because I said “Sure, I will help out for a little while.” And here we are today, 8 years later.
I love reading, watching movies, hiking, camping, fishing, horseback riding, cooking, traveling, and living life to the fullest. I am so looking forward to serving on the ICUB board with each of you as we work together to connect with and advocate for blind folks in Iowa and beyond!
Liz Soenen: Hello! I’m starting my second year as Secretary for ICUB. My husband Greg and I live in Goldfield. I am a retired (as of January, 2021) Rehabilitation Teacher with the Iowa Department for the Blind, (IDB). While what I really loved in my job was the opportunity to teach independent living skills and to assist with adjustment to blindness for older blind and visually impaired Iowans in their homes, I really love retirement too. We’ve been biking some beautiful trails in Iowa and Minnesota this summer and also enjoy entertaining interesting folks on our big deck overlooking the Boone River.
I volunteer with several groups, such as a nearby community theater, my church, domestic relief projects with GoServe Global, ICUB, the summer youth library program with IDB, and more. I’m enjoying the book group led by Don every two weeks on zoom. I spend a lot of time in my puppet shop. I do make some, but I really enjoy introducing others to the joy of puppets. When masks are no longer mandatory in nursing homes, I have materials and ideas ready to present some fun scripts about aging, thoughts of leaving this earth, and of course Gaston and Lena jokes. Lena says, “Darling, do you still love me now that my hair is all grey?” Gaston replies, “Why not, honey? I’ve loved you through all those other colors!” Is anyone interested in joining with us? We could always use some joy-filled puppeteers! Denise Bean has two of my famous IDB puppets, David and Evelyn, now living in the youth library. Puppet on!
Mo Carpenter: Hello everyone! I'm so happy to be here and excited to see how we can all help ICUB grow over the next year and beyond.
A bit about myself: I am a married mom with four boys. We reside on the edge of West Des Moines and Waukee. We also have 4 pets: 1 dog and 3 cats. I grew up in Clinton, moved to Boone to start my adult life, and moved down to where we are now about 6 years ago.
I basically had no knowledge of the American Council of the Blind, (ACB) as a whole until about 2 years ago when I was appointed to ACB Crafters. Since then I have tried to get involved where I can. I am a Director on the Board for ACB Next Generation and its fundraising committee chair. I participate in a range of community calls and am a trained ACB community host. I help out ACB families where I can. With my involvement in ACB, I stumbled across Penny Forward, and now am working for them as an administrative assistant. As my children are now all in school, I plan on diving back into fiber arts, which is one of my biggest passions, and growing Penny Forward and parts of ACB in which I participate. Other random things I like are the color blue, sapphires, dolphins, alpacas, reading, exploring, and podcasting.
Bob Martin: I am relatively new to ICUB, so this summer’s Convention that I attended virtually on Zoom was both interesting and enlightening. I hope to be able to attend in person next year and have the opportunity to become better acquainted with many of you. As for my bio, I am a native of northwestern South Carolina, a graduate of Wofford College in Spartanburg, SC., and the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill. After completing graduate study in U.S. History in 1975, I served in part-time temporary teaching positions in three schools in North Carolina’s Research Triangle until 1981 when my wife Kate and I came to Iowa. Here I taught for 39 years and was a Department head for sixteen of those years at the University of Northern Iowa, and Kate served as a librarian and library administrator there. We both retired in 2020 just as COVID was rapidly transforming the world of higher education.
We continue to live In Cedar Falls, as does our son Andrew. Unfortunately, my guide dog, Nick, died in May 2020, just as I was completing my work with UNI, but we have a rescue dog, Samson, who considers himself lord of the manor. In retirement, we both are working on a project researching and writing the history of UNI’s Price Laboratory School. Kate also volunteers for the Cedar Falls Historical Society, while I spend my spare time exercising daily on my treadmill, reading widely, and learning to play acoustic guitar. Initially, I was so bad at it that Nick would routinely leave the room whenever I began practicing. As I indicated above, I am new to ICUB and look forward to learning from and working with all of you in the coming months.
Karen Keninger: I am honored to be elected to the ICUB Board and will take this opportunity to introduce myself. I am an Iowan, born and raised. I graduated from the Iowa Braille School and went on to get a B.A. in journalism from Drake and a Masters in English/Technical Writing from Iowa State. Not that all that matters, except to say that at this point in my life, I see myself as a writer.
I served as Regional Librarian at the Iowa Library for the Blind for eight years and as Director of the Iowa Department for the Blind for four years. My most recent employment was as Director of the National Library Service for the Blind and Print Disabled, Library of Congress, in Washington, D.C., where I spent nine fruitful years. I retired a year ago. I have a large family, a Seeing Eye dog named Dave, and a partner named Bryan. I live outside Newton on an acreage, and love reading, writing, tandem biking, traveling, crosswords, and learning new things. I look forward to working with Bettina and the ICUB Board as we embrace the opportunities of the next two years.
Donna Seliger: After graduating from the Iowa Braille and Sight Saving School in 1962, I studied at Gates Business School in Waterloo, Iowa. The next four years I worked at State Auto Insurance Company in Des Moines. I left the state for a few years. Upon my arrival back in Des Moines, I became employed at American Republic Insurance Company in the word processing department for nine years.
After my son John was born, I spent time at home with him. When John entered kindergarten, I began looking for work again. This time I found myself in an entirely different vocation. I went from filling vending machines to cashier at the cafeteria in the Iowa Department for the Blind Building. Along with making sandwiches, helping to prepare lunch and handling the breakfast crowd, I assisted with serving and washing dishes. This job enabled me to meet and keep many friends.
I retired in March of 2003, but have kept very busy with my involvement in ICUB, ACB, Randolph-Sheppard Vendors of America, (RSVA, and the Nevada Council of the Blind. My husband Bob and I traveled a great deal while he was still able. His favorite destination was Hawaii, so we visited 57 times! I still travel with friends from a number of states. I live in a retirement community and love it. There are so many fun activities to keep me busy along with my joy of knitting.
Rose Stratton: I am a longtime member of ICUB and go as far back as being the initial editor of its publication called “The Trumpet’s Voice.” My husband Bob helped with this project, too, while working at Clinton Engines on the assembly line, as he was also a member of ICUB. I used a large print typewriter and ran off copies for large print readers, I Brailled by hand the copies for Braille readers, and Bob and I recorded the publication for those who needed it in that form. It was a team operation for the good of the cause. I have enjoyed being on the board and being a part of everything. I’m turning 87 next week and am now living in the nursing home. I like to make people happy and I enjoy staying connected and active with blindness issues. I want to keep advocating for the blind until I’m ready to leave this earth.
Mike Hoenig: I recently retired after working as a program coordinator for the University of Iowa Center for Disabilities and Development for 29 years. Before that, I worked for IDB as a rehabilitation teacher and later for a local Center for Independent Living as a program director. I’ve been an ACB member since 1980 and served on the ICUB Board in the early 2000’s during which time I had the honor of serving as State President. I treasure the memory of serving as ACB Tour Coordinator for the Houston ACB National Convention. I’m a die-hard St. Louis Cardinal baseball fan! Other interests include travel, walking, traditional jazz music, and cooking (more for groups than for myself)!
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 e-mail 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.smile.amazon.com . ICUB will get 0.5% of the value of eligible purchases.
You can also 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
2022 ICUB Resolutions
Editor’s Note: Another important piece of business accomplished at the ICUB State Annual Conference and Convention is the passage of resolutions about issues that are important to our membership. This year 3 resolutions were presented and passed. Resolution 2022-01 recognizes the efforts of the State Historical Museum of Iowa to make exhibits more accessible for the blind. Resolution 2022-02 recognizes Maryfrances Evans for her work with audio description and honors her receipt of An ACB award. Resolution 2022-03 expresses ICUB’s support for the need to provide Braille materials to K-12 students in the most efficient and financially effective manner. All 3 resolutions are printed below.
Iowa Council of the United Blind
Subject: Commendation of the State Historical Museum of Iowa for Creating an Accessible Exhibit
Whereas, museum access has long been a barrier to individuals who are blind; and
Whereas, accessibility barriers prevent persons who are blind from enjoying the wealth of historical and cultural information which museums offer; and
Whereas, the State Historical Museum of Iowa created an audio described tour of the museum and presented it at the 2021 Iowa Council of the United Blind (ICUB) virtual State Conference and Convention; and
Whereas, following the ICUB 2021 conference and convention, museum curator Leo Landis began exploring additional services which could be designed to enhance the experience of blind museum patrons; and
Whereas, in consultation with ICUB member Bettina Dolinsek, Mr. Landis created a tactile tour of the museum’s “People and Places in Iowa” exhibit; and
Whereas, the State Historical Museum of Iowa premiered the tactile tour on the first day of the 2022 ICUB Conference and Convention on August 26, 2022; and
Whereas, the tactile tour will be permanently available to museum patrons upon request.
Now, therefore, be it resolved by the Iowa Council of the United Blind in convention assembled on the 26th day of August, 2022, that ICUB commends the State Historical Museum of Iowa and Curator Leo Landis for their leadership and initiative culminating in the creation of accessible museum exhibits; and
Be it further resolved that the ICUB Secretary send a copy of this resolution to the State Historical Society of Iowa Board of Trustees.
Iowa Council of the United Blind
Subject: Honoring Maryfrances Evans
Whereas, audio description provides essential information about visual content, and having equal access to information has a direct impact on an individual's well-being and quality of life; and
Whereas, Maryfrances Evans has provided exceptional leadership of the Iowa Radio Reading Information Service (IRIS) as Executive Director for the past several years; and
Whereas, as the executive director of IRIS, over 11,000 blind Iowans have gained access to information through reading services; and
Whereas, Maryfrances has expanded IRIS beyond its original mandate to include audio description for live theatrical productions such as plays, operas, and ballets put on by the Des Moines Playhouse, Des Moines Civic Center and local performing art theaters; and
Whereas, Maryfrances has been at the forefront for creating new audio described community opportunities for blind individuals including but not limited to the IRIS Big Band Bash, craft tasting and tour of Fox Brewing Company, drive-in movie night, and a day with IRIS at the Iowa State Fair; and
Whereas, Maryfrances led and adapted IRIS through the challenges presented by the pandemic, thereby ensuring a continuity of service for listeners; and
Whereas, Maryfrances has been an example of leading without borders, serving as President of the International Association of Audio Information Services, an organization that promotes equal access to information and has been involved in setting standards of good practice worldwide; and
Whereas, Maryfrances has been honored at the 2022 American Council of the Blind (ACB) Conference and Convention with an Audio Description Project award for an individual achievement in audio description/performing arts.
Now, therefore be it resolved by the Iowa Council of the United Blind convention assembled on this 27th day of August 2022, that we congratulate Maryfrances for receiving this award and for being recognized nationally for her outstanding contributions in this area.
Be it further resolved that the Iowa Council of the United Blind overwhelmingly thanks Maryfrances for her continued support, dedication and service toward improving the lives of blind individuals everywhere.
Iowa Council of the United Blind
Subject: Termination of agreement between the Iowa Department for the Blind and the Iowa Department of Education for the ordering of and payment for Braille instructional materials
Whereas, studies have shown that blind and visually impaired individuals who are proficient in Braille are more highly educated, have better jobs, and are more financially self-sufficient than their non-Braille using counterparts; and
Whereas, the Iowa Legislature had demonstrated its understanding of the importance of Braille instruction and proficiency through the passage of a Braille literacy bill in April 1993, which states that “…proficiency in Braille reading and writing is essential for satisfactory educational progress for a visually impaired student who is not able to communicate in print with the same level of proficiency as a student of otherwise comparable ability at the same grade level;…” and
Whereas, the Iowa Council of the United Blind (ICUB) and the National Federation of the Blind of Iowa (NFBI)—the premier advocacy groups for blind and low vision Iowans—historically have strongly endorsed and supported the teaching of Braille to blind students; and
Whereas, for many years, the Iowa Department for the Blind (IDB) and the Iowa Department of Education (IDE) have partnered to provide a reliable source of high-quality Braille educational materials to blind students attending Iowa schools; and
Whereas, the agreement between the IDB and the IDE had provided a streamlined process for purchasing Braille instructional materials and distributing funds through which the IDB could receive payment for these materials that had been ordered; and
Whereas, in the summer of 2022, the IDE abruptly terminated this contractual agreement with the IDB, thereby negatively impacting the provision of and payment for timely Braille instructional materials to blind students; and
Whereas, Iowa’s school systems will now be required to expend their own funds and then request reimbursement from the IDE, which will place additional administrative burdens on the schools for the ordering, payment, and reimbursement for materials ordered; and
Whereas, the IDB will incur additional administrative and personnel costs to invoice schools and process payments for materials ordered.
Now, therefore, be it resolved by the Iowa Council of the United Blind in convention assembled on the 27th day of August, 2022, that ICUB strongly recommends that the IDB and IDE partner to implement a reasonable and efficient system for providing and funding Braille educational materials to schools and their blind students similar to that which was in place until the summer of 2022; and
Be it further resolved that ICUB call on the NFBI to join this effort by passing a similar resolution at their 2022 state convention; and
Be it further resolved that the ICUB President present copies of this resolution to the Director of the Iowa Department for the Blind, the Director of the Iowa Department of Education, the President of the National Federation of the Blind of Iowa, and to the Governor of the state of Iowa within 2 weeks of its passage.
A Unique ACB Conference and Convention
By Donna Seliger
I must say the 2022 ACB Conference and Convention was certainly different. To begin with, prior to the actual in-person and virtual conference, several virtual-only meetings were held. As Secretary of the Randolph-Sheppard Vendors of America (RSVA), I attended the pre-convention board meeting. I also listened in on several other events.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Des Moines Chapter of ICUB for the financial assistance I received to help defray the cost of the Convention. This year I traveled to Omaha, Nebraska on June 30 for the in-person convention. The next day I attended the opening ceremonies. Several topics were covered, including Life Member Presentations. ACB Angels added two more plaques to The Wall representing those members who passed on and were honored by their affiliates. More Angels were recognized throughout the week. First Timers were introduced to the Membership and the final event was the Roll Call of Affiliates. As secretary of the Nevada Council of the Blind, I proudly represented this affiliate.
Throughout the Convention, ACB business such as elections were held. ACB is sponsored by several businesses which were recognized throughout the conference. Scholarships were presented to a class of deserving college students. These presentations are a highlight for me as these young people are the future of ACB.
Eric Bridges, formerly from Iowa, gave his report as Executive Director of ACB. Also, there was a report from the ACB Brenda Dillon Walk which has become an annual event. Each year more people participate in the walk and raise an impressive amount of money which is shared by ACB and affiliates who participate.
I attended the Life Members’ Breakfast and the annual banquet on Thursday night. We heard from Judy Heumann, who gave an inspiring motivational speech. The final act of the evening was the drawing of the Braille Forum Raffle tickets. The Des Moines Chapter purchased four tickets, but, unfortunately, didn’t win.
I have attended many ACB Conferences and Conventions throughout the years and I must say this one was very different. Approximately 450 people attended in person compared to nearly 2,000 in past years. I am hopeful more people attend next year when the conference will be held in Schaumberg, Illinois.
Iowa Department for the Blind Report
Director Emily Wharton
I want to express my appreciation to ICUB for your resolution regarding the Braille production funding changes suddenly enacted by the Iowa Department of Education this summer. As we had feared, the way this change was rolled out at the end of July, 2022, and communicated to school districts has led to widespread confusion and misinformation resulting in delays and frustrations for all. In the last three weeks, our Library’s Instructional Materials Center, (IMC), has received over 300 phone calls and e-mails from principals, teachers, para-educators and teachers of the visually impaired, (TVIs). Here are a few examples of the most common questions and comments we are currently receiving:
The IMC will be closing on September 30, 2022, so schools want to know where they should go for Braille materials when this occurs.
The school district is unable or unwilling to pay for Braille materials, so orders for students are being cancelled.
School district staff have been told to go to the publisher for Braille versions, and, when they did this, they were sent back to our IMC to produce the Braille. Over a week was spent each time a school staff tried to determine how to procure the Braille. Previously, orders could have been placed directly with the IMC and filled immediately.
Teachers of the Visually Impaired (TVIs) have told schools and our IMC staff that they will no longer be placing orders for students’ materials because they do not want to incur costs for the school. Yet no one within the school building has been assigned or trained to do the ordering which is repeatedly causing delays in the ordering of materials.
TVIs are recommending to schools that students read Braille in the English Braille American Edition, 1994, (EBAE), code, rather than the current Unified English Braille, 2004, (UEB) Braille code to avoid or reduce costs. Thus, poor decisions affecting students’ sources and learning are being made based on costs.
In order to fix the situation, I am asking the Iowa
Commission for the Blind to approve a State Fiscal Year 2024 (SFY24) budget request that includes three elements: funding for our IMC staff positions, funding for collection development through our procurement of accessible educational materials which can be added to our Library and used without any additional costs to students across Iowa, and funding to pay for consumable materials such as worksheets that cannot be added to the collection because once used, they cannot be reused by others. We realize our request is a large amount and will result in a significant increase to our appropriation request, so we have broken the request down to individual elements to provide the Governor and the legislature with more information and options. Receiving funding for all three components would allow us to create a robust, reliable, and efficient statewide system for provision of accessible educational materials.
We are taking another big step forward in preparation for such changes with the roll out of our Athena order and production tracking system. With this new interface, the individual at the school district placing the order will be able to track the order’s status and all its orders. We will soon be adding a vendor portal where Braille and large print producers can bid on projects to simplify and expedite materials’ assignment and production.
As this process is rolling out, we need to change our business model which presents a problem: we are not a business; we are a library! We do not make money, nor are we pursuing a profit. We care about students getting the same quality of materials as their sighted peers in a timely fashion at the best possible cost. We want to build a system that saves school districts’ resources and saves their staff time and frustration; ensures delivery of high quality Braille in a timely fashion; and prevents Iowa taxpayers paying for production of materials which are already sitting on our shelves. We appreciate your support and hope that you will continue to help us put this common sense solution in place to resolve a problem that should never have been created.
There are several other significant concerns regarding the education of blind children in Iowa. I hope to share more with you