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Updated: Feb 26

Published by the


An American Council of the Blind Affiliate

Bettina Dolinsek, President

304 W. Cedar St.

Goldfield, IA 50542


Karen Keninger, Co-Editor


Sandy Tigges, Co-Editor


Table of Contents

President’s Report

Dear members and friends,

I can’t believe I have already been in my role as President of the Iowa Council of the United Blind for a year now and my first Convention is behind me. Where does the time go?

I want to thank all who worked on the Convention planning committee this year. I don’t think the Convention could have run more smoothly. Other than one cancellation, everyone who said they would be there to speak and exhibit showed up. I especially want to give a huge shout-out to the Des Moines Community Playhouse and Maryfrances Evans for arranging and performing an audio-described mini-musical during the luncheon.

If it weren’t for our members and friends attending in person or joining us via Zoom, though, it would not be possible for us to hold a Convention each year. So thank you so much for joining us! From the breakout sessions to the speakers and the banquet on Saturday night, our Convention was a huge success.

During our Saturday afternoon business session, we held elections for ICUB officers and directors. Current officers are now President Bettina Dolinsek, Ankeny; Immediate Past-President Carrie Chapman, Altoona; Vice-President Robert Martin, Cedar Falls; Secretary Liz Soenen, Goldfield; and Treasurer Jeana Mowery, Honey Creek. Current directors are now Don Wirth, Ames; MOe Carpenter, West Des Moines; Karen Keninger, Newton; Sarah Baebler, West Des Moines; Donna Seliger, West Des Moines; and Lori Trujillo Roush, Urbandale. You can find their contact information on the ICUB website,

Below you will find an article I have written about my adventures planning a Convention for the first time. You will also find copies of the two resolutions ICUB passed this year. A summary of the Convention will be included in the next issue of the Bulletin.

I look forward to starting the planning for next year’s Convention. If you have any interest in joining the planning committee, please let me know. Also let me know if you have any questions or concerns. I can be reached at

Bettina Dolinsek, President

Iowa Council of the United Blind

Planning a Convention

Bettina Dolinsek

Have you ever planned a Convention or similar event? Each year we all show up for the ICUB Annual State Conference and Convention, and everything is magically in place. How does that happen? How does the hotel staff know what we need? Seemingly without effort, they take care of everything from blocking rooms to giving us a special room rate to making sure our dietary needs are met to knowing how many spaces we require and to handling all of the other little details involved with carrying out a Convention. Isn’t it amazing that all we need to do is show up?

Well, not so fast. It takes many months of planning and work to meet our goal of insuring you have the best time possible so you can go back to your community fully recharged. Let me take you on a short journey in Convention planning so you will know what is really involved.

The first thing I do is put together a Convention planning committee, and we begin to brainstorm on a theme and dates we would prefer. Once we have agreed on these, we can then begin talking about what speakers we might like to hear from. Then I need to reach out to the hotel to see if the dates we want are available and get them booked. How exciting! We can now send out notices to our members to save the date.

The planning committee then meets again to discuss possible speakers, exhibitors, and special activities. When they are confirmed, I check with the hotel to make sure it can accommodate our plans, and I do an initial walk-through of the hotel’s facilities.

Next, the committee starts putting together meal selections and a draft agenda. We choose from the hotel’s menu options, taking into consideration our members’ food preferences and dietary needs. Putting together the agenda includes deciding who will speak when and for how long, how much time to allow for exhibits, what topics to have for breakout sessions, and programming for the luncheon and banquet.

As the date draws closer, we confirm all speakers and pivot to a backup if someone cancels. I do one final walk-through with the hotel and firm up the food choices. We can then send out the registration packet, which includes hotel and registration information, the final agenda, and meal choices. When we get registrations back from our attendees, we relay that information to the hotel so it can make its final preparations.

Now you know why I so heartily thanked the planning committee at the start of the Convention. It takes a village to plan the can’t-miss-Convention of the year, and a big thank you is just not enough to recognize everyone’s hard work. Okay! On to next year!

Resolutions Passed at

the 2023 ICUB Conference and Convention

Iowa Council of the United Blind

Resolution 2023-01

Subject: Appointment of a third member to the Iowa Commission for the Blind

Whereas, the Iowa Department for the Blind is accountable to the three-member Iowa Commission for the Blind appointed by the governor for the execution of its programs, the allocation of its funds, and maintaining a registry of the number of blind Iowans and the causes of blindness; and

Whereas, the Iowa Code, Chapter 216B, states that three commissioners shall be appointed by the governor for the previously mentioned purposes; and

Whereas, the commissioners appointed have an obligation to represent all blind Iowans, regardless of any affiliation they may have with consumer organizations of the blind; and

Whereas, for nearly a year, Governor Kim Reynolds has filled only two of the three Commission positions; and

Whereas, if one of the two current Commissioners is unable to attend a meeting, the Commission cannot perform its designated responsibilities because two members must be present to establish a quorum; and

Whereas, the appointment of a third member ensures that the Commission will fully represent blind Iowans and will be able to perform its duties of providing direction for the Iowa Department for the Blind actively and effectively.

Now, therefore, be it resolved by the Iowa Council of the United Blind in Convention assembled this day, August 26, 2023, in the city of Ankeny, Iowa, that the President of ICUB be directed no later than September 15, 2023, to submit this resolution to Governor Reynolds with a cover letter strongly requesting that she appoint a third Commissioner to ensure the timely performance of its mandated responsibilities, as well as its full representation of blind Iowans; and

Be it further resolved that the letter recommends her compliance with past ICUB resolutions asking that at least one Commissioner be a member of the Iowa Council of the United Blind and one be a member of the National Federation of the Blind of Iowa; and

Be it further resolved that copies of this resolution and cover letter also be sent to the Director of the IDB and to current members of the Commission.

Iowa Council of the United Blind

Resolution 2023-02

Subject: Attendance of Iowa Department for the Blind Vocational Rehabilitation clients and students of the Blindness Empowerment and Independence Center at conferences and conventions of consumer organizations of the blind

Whereas, it is the stated policy of the Iowa Department for the Blind (IDB) that it will provide financial support for Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) clients to attend no more than two conventions or conferences in the same calendar year when certain guidelines are met; and

Whereas, the IDB Center Student Handbook states that “Students who have been in Center training for 3 months on July 1 of each year are required to attend one of the two national blindness organization conventions. Students can choose either the National Federation of the Blind or American Council of the Blind convention. Expenses for attending these conventions will be covered as part of the student’s vocational rehabilitation plan if the convention activities would be related to their employment goal. If the convention expenses cannot be paid through the student’s VR plan, expenses will be covered by a grant from IDB’s Gifts and Bequests fund”; and

Whereas, both the National Federation of the Blind of Iowa (NFBI) and the Iowa Council of the United Blind (ICUB) hold annual statewide conferences and conventions where VR clients and Center students can develop relationships with other blind people and learn positive information about blindness; and

Whereas, it is a policy directive of the Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA) that informed consumer choice be an integral part of the Vocational Rehabilitation process in state VR agencies; and

Whereas, by attending state and national conventions of each organization, VR clients, including Center students, can gather valid information about blindness and learn which organization best meets their needs.

Now therefore, be it resolved by the Iowa Council of the United Blind in Convention assembled this day, August 26, 2023, in the city of Ankeny, Iowa, that the Iowa Department for the Blind provide balanced information to its VR clients, including Center students, about the NFBI and ICUB and the value of attending both conventions; and

Be it further resolved that the IDB strongly encourage these individuals also to attend the state and national conventions of these organizations; and

Be it further resolved that all of the IDB’s VR clients, including Center students, be made fully aware of the funding available to them to cover the cost of attending these conventions; and

Be it further resolved that the President of ICUB, by September 15, 2023, send copies of this resolution to the IDB’s director, program administrators, and current Commission members.

Older Blind Success Story

Mark Edge

Editor’s Note: Individuals mentioned in this article have given permission to have their names included.

In January 2021, Dorothy and her little dog, Toto, moved from Kansas to Ames, Iowa, where one of her daughters was living. One day her daughter, Ruth, was out on a walk when she came upon a blind man walking with his long, white cane. That man was Don Wirth. Ruth shared with Don that her ninety-year-old mother, who lives alone, was going blind due to macular degeneration. Don told Ruth about services offered by The Iowa Department for the Blind (IDB) and how to contact the agency. Ruth immediately shared this information with her mother, but Dorothy did not call IDB right away. In fact, several months passed by with no call made. Like many seniors, Dorothy was hesitant to reach out for help. It wasn’t until she reached a point of extreme frustration that she talked to her eye doctor who also gave her the phone number for The Iowa Department for the Blind. This time, Dorothy made the call.

Dorothy spoke with Marcella, the Resource Specialist at IDB, who assigned her application to Mark, an Independent Living Rehabilitation Teacher. Mark and Dorothy met at her home and completed her application for Independent Living Program services. An assessment was conducted to learn the areas where Dorothy had struggles due to her vision loss. She used a flashlight to set her appliances. She had difficulty baking and cooking because she couldn’t measure or pour ingredients very well, and she couldn’t tell the doneness of food. While she could see big letters on food labels, the package cooking directions were impossible to read. She never knew if she had on blue or black slacks unless she was in bright sunlight. She couldn’t read the labels on her prescription bottles.

For Dorothy, reading the newspaper meant only reading the headlines. She tried to read mail using the magnifier on her iPad. She had an iPhone but did not know about its accessibility features or the capabilities of the voice assistant Siri. She had difficulty writing in print and filling out a check. Being new to the community, she was unaware of public transportation options in Ames. Dorothy knew no one else who shared her struggles with vision loss. Besides experiencing the physical loss of sight, emotionally Dorothy was fearful, lonely, anxious, and depressed. This was not the golden years she had dreamed of.

During her assessment, Mark offered a solution to every one of Dorothy’s struggles. Tactile markings on her appliances could allow Dorothy to set them by touch rather than by sight. Bent measuring spoons could make measuring liquid ingredients easy and accurate with no spills. Nesting her measuring cups could allow her to quickly identify the quarter cup from the third cup. A talking meat thermometer could help her tell the doneness of her meatloaf, along with the nonvisual techniques of time, touch, and smell.

With the PenFriend3 Voice Labeling system, Dorothy could identify pantry items, get recipe and cooking directions, and identify colors and care instructions for her clothes. Audible prescription medication labels available through EnVision America’s ScripTalk Program could help her distinguish her medications. She could read newsprint with the Iowa Radio Reading Information Service (IRIS) and the National Federation of the Blind’s (NFB) Newsline service, including her favorite Kansas paper. She could read mail and other print information with blind-friendly apps on her iPhone or perhaps with a CCTV on loan from Easter Seals Iowa. She could access her iPhone with Siri and VoiceOver. With writing guides, she could fill out a check, write a list, address an envelope, and sign her name. Story County’s HIRTA bus could provide door-to-door transportation that is accessible and affordable. Through the Ames Low Vision Support Group and the two consumer organizations of the blind, she could connect with others with vision loss.

One day, Dorothy said to Mark, “I haven’t cried since my first meeting with you! I learned all those things are possible. When you demonstrated items--things like accessible measuring cups--I knew that I could cook again.” Together they had developed a training plan with 15 training objectives. To date, Dorothy has successfully completed 14 of them and is in process of completing the last one. Don, who coincidently lives in the same condominium community as Dorothy, is mentoring her as she is learning to use VoiceOver on her iPhone. Dorothy regularly attends the Ames Low Vision Support Group. There she has met others who have walked in her shoes and she has learned much from them. Loneliness has been replaced with new friends who share blindness. Fear has been replaced with hope due to blindness skills training. Anxiety and depression have been replaced with independence. The golden years are once again golden for both Dorothy from Kansas and her little dog Toto.

Underwood High School Graduate Receives Brailler Award

Mike Hoenig

Dylan Reineke, a 2023 Underwood High School graduate, is this year’s winner of the Marie Hoenig Memorial Perkins Brailler Award. Dylan received the award on Saturday, August 26, at the ICUB 35th Annual Conference and Convention in Ankeny with several family members and his Braille teacher looking on.

Upon learning in 2017 that Dylan was losing vision, Teacher of the Visually Impaired Becky Marth introduced Dylan to Braille. He learned it quickly and is now a proficient reader and writer. He plans to share his Braille skills with others by becoming a Teacher of the Visually Impaired.

Those We Have Lost

Editor’s Note: Below is a list of members of the blindness community we have lost this past year. Each of them has had a positive influence on the lives of blind Iowans. They will be missed, and our condolences go out to their families and friends.

Kevin Bodtke

Candace (Candy) Coleman

Lucille Dunlavy

Arlene Dayhoff

Louise Duvall

Carroll Jackson

Vivian (Adkins) Jones

Sherran Keir

Sue Monath

Mary Ann Nielsen

Don Paul

Rich Ring

Sandi Ryan

Jim Swanson

Don Thompson

Warren Toyama

Joe Van Lent

Teresa Wakefield

Richard West

Shirley Wiggins

John J. Willett

Nyla Wisecup

Dale Wolthoff

A Friend of the Friends

In Memory of Louise Duvall

June 3, 1946 – July 23, 2023

Sandy Tigges

Louise Duvall had a large impact on the lives of blind Iowans, both as an employee of the Iowa Department for the Blind (IDB) and as a volunteer. She believed in the abilities of blind people and worked hard to improve their lives. I first met Louise when I began working at the IDB in 1988 and was fortunate to be able to call her a colleague and a friend. We didn’t always agree on how to solve problems, but we could eventually agree to disagree on solutions. She had a quick wit, and it was often hard to keep up with her. She expected her staff to perform at the highest level, and we tried not to disappoint her.

Louise was my boss when I worked for several years as a Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor in the Department’s Field Operations Division. During that time, she taught me a lot of valuable information about the vocational rehabilitation process, especially when we wrote grants together. Louise used to offer her staff what she called “opportunities”—a word that would sometimes make us cringe and, like little children in a classroom, try to make ourselves look smaller so we wouldn’t be called on. One of those opportunities I happily volunteered for, though, was learning how to write grants—a skill I still use today. We would get together at her house to avoid interruptions—I sat at the keyboard while Louise paced back and forth as she came up with the perfect wording in response to a section of the grant proposal. Unfortunately, she talked faster than I could type. When I asked her to repeat what she had said, she would pause and get flustered, unable to repeat her words. We then had to come up with a new way to express our point.

Even after Louise retired, she continued to work on the behalf of blind Iowans. Reading was extremely important to her. As a student at the University of Iowa, she had worked as a reader for several blind students. At the request of then IDB Director Karen Keninger, she was instrumental in establishing the Friends of the Iowa Library for the Blind and Print Disabled. For several years, she worked tirelessly to build up this organization, including raising funds through an annual massive garage sale. Many ICUB members can remember her speaking at conventions about the Friends. She would then walk down the aisle, smiling as she “strong-armed” attendees into making donations and paying their annual memberships. Because of Louise’s hard work, the Friends remains a strong organization today. Her dedication to this organization continues even after her death. As you can read in her obituary below, it has been asked that donations be made to the Friends in her name.

Louise Carolyn Duvall, the only child of Edwin and Wilma (Hogueisson) Duvall, was born on July 3rd, 1946, at St. Anthony Hospital in Carroll, Iowa. She grew up on the family farm in Audubon County, Viola Township. She departed this life on July 23, 2023, while residing at Walnut Ridge in Clive, Iowa.

There was no kindergarten at the time, so Louise began her school career in first grade. She attended grade school at the Viola Center School, and high school at the Audubon Public School, graduating in 1964.

Louise was a 1968 graduate of the University of Iowa, earning degrees in History and English. She laughed in later years wondering what job she thought that would get her! After graduating, she began course work at Drake University to be certified to teach. She thoroughly enjoyed being a student until her dad called and said it was time to come home and get a job! There was a teaching position in Exira at mid-year, and without even an interview, she lived at home and began commuting to Exira to teach history, economics, government, etc. Louise was also the pep club sponsor—not something she enjoyed. She even offered to return the stipend given for it but to no luck. Her teaching career lasted 3 ½ years.

Louise met Bill Goettsch in a history class at Iowa and they were married on August 8, 1970. Tragically, two weeks after her wedding, her parents were killed in a car accident. A loss felt to this day. Louise and Bill would move to Des Moines when he began working for the Department for the Blind. She found work as a title clerk in a local car dealership. Louise's own career with the Department for the Blind began by driving blind clients to appointments. She would then become a rehab teacher having to learn and then teach Braille, how to use a white cane and other tasks to be adapted for her clients. She loved her work in this area. Her career path then moved into writing grants and to a new department under her leadership to serve the blind community. Louise chose to come out of retirement to create "Friends of the Library for the Blind" as a way to help purchase Braille and audio books for the library. She was proud of the work she did and would maintain friendships with many of those she served. She and Bill bought a brick ranch home in Urbandale in 1973. They divorced in 1975. Louise lived in her home for 49 years and had a host of pets, including a St. Bernard named Tammy, and cats Coco, Teddy and Lily, who were wonderful companions and greatly loved.

Louise traveled extensively with her job. She also loved playing bridge and entertaining friends. She was articulate, had a big laugh and a sharp mind. She especially loved sharing stories on family history. She was an avid reader all of her life and in retirement was known to read a book a day. She also loved cars and one day bought her first Mercedes. She also enjoyed driving fast, especially when chauffeuring blind friends back and forth to appointments in Iowa City. She had at least one encounter with a State Trooper!

As Louise's health declined she was no longer able to live in her home and moved to Walnut Ridge in Clive, Iowa. She enjoyed family visits and the helpful staff at the facility and those who cared for her from Hospice of the Midwest. Her cremains will be scattered on the family farm in Audubon County per her wishes. She is survived by her multitudes of cousins who were much loved.

Louise's family suggests any gifts in her memory be given directly to The Friends of the Iowa Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, PO Box 93046, Des Moines, IA 50393-3046. Thank you.

ACB 2023 Annual Conference and Convention

Don Wirth

I had the honor to represent ICUB as the delegate to the 2023 ACB Annual Conference and Convention. Mo Carpenter served as the alternate. As delegate I cast the ICUB votes at the opening general session and the final general session for resolutions and constitutional amendments.

New officers for all offices of ACB were elected. The new officers are President Deb Cook Lewis, Clarkston, WA; First Vice-President David Trott, Talladega, AL; Second Vice-President Ray Campbell, Springfield, IL; Secretary Denise Colley, Richmond, TX; and Treasurer Michael Garrett, Missouri City, TX.

This year’s Convention included the opportunity for all ACB members to vote either in person or virtually. Identification codes were sent to all members. These codes allowed members to contact the electronic voting center to cast their votes. Votes were held for numerous issues during the virtual sessions from June 19 to June 23 and during the hybrid portion of the convention from July 1 to July 6. I hope that many of you took advantage of this opportunity to have your voice heard.

A full slate of general and special sessions were held from June 19 to July 6. Podcasts of many of these sessions are now available at and via the ACBLinks app on smart phones. Also available at the sites listed above are vendor presentations.

Donna Seliger Receives Distinguished Service Award

Ardis Bazyn, First Vice-President, RSVA®

Donna Seliger received the Distinguished Service Award from the Randolph-Sheppard Vendors of America® (RSVA®) at the Awards Luncheon on July 2, 2023. Donna was honored for her many years serving RSVA® in many capacities, including Secretary.

When choosing award winners, the RSVA® Awards Committee looks at how people have supported the Randolph-Sheppard Program and the Randolph-Sheppard Vendors of America®. Donna has been a member of RSVA® for decades and volunteered on the RSVA® Convention Committee, the Sagebrush National BEP Training Conference Committee, and the RSVA® Publications Committee. She has been secretary for many years. RSVA® appreciates her long-term involvement in advocating for Randolph-Sheppard Vendors and the RSVA® organization. Congratulations, Donna!

IDB Director Report

Emily Wharton

On October 28th, it will have been 10 years since I left Minnesota to return to Iowa to work for IDB. Round number anniversaries like these tend to make me reflective. I’ve been thinking back to where our agency was in 2013. It might be a bit of an understatement to say that the relationship between the agency and the consumer groups at that time was adversarial. There was mistrust, anger, and disrespect on all sides.

As some of you probably know, I was diagnosed with stage 4 kidney cancer last January. Among the first to reach out and ask how I was doing was Catherine Witte. Those of you who know Catherine Witte probably aren’t surprised. But if you had witnessed some of our early interactions, you might be pretty surprised that years later she would be offering to drive me to cancer treatments. My 2014 self would never have believed this in a million years, but my 2023 self sees this as a poignant reminder of the beauty of change.

Now part of the reason for this offer of support is that Catherine is a good human, but another thing that made a huge difference is that we all put in the hard work to mend the relationship between the agency and the consumer organizations. It wasn’t easy, but we decided to take a step back and recognize that we all want the same thing—we want IDB to continue to serve blind Iowans and, because of this, we worked to rebuild relationships. We might disagree about how to best serve blind Iowans from time to time, but we all deeply care about the history, mission, and values of the Iowa Department for the Blind. This is one of the characteristics that makes IDB unique among Iowa state agencies and rare among blindness agencies across the country.

While I am winning my fight against cancer, it has been extremely difficult over the past seven months to deal with the stress and demands of my position. I have had amazing support from our leadership team and truly could not still be doing my job without them picking up the slack. But this has caused me to think about what will happen if I am no longer able to serve as Director. Now that the Director of the Iowa Department for the Blind is hired by and serves at the pleasure of the Governor, there is no guarantee that blind Iowans will have any say in who the next Director will be or whether that individual is a blind person or strong sighted ally, or has any experience in blindness rehabilitation. If I am no longer able to serve, it will be extremely important for consumer organizations to make their voices heard in regards to the selection of the next Director.

Because IDB is so beloved, serving as its Director is both a great honor and a huge amount of work. In the last year, the position has also become political in ways that it had never been before. While I’ve made mistakes, I am proud of what we have accomplished together. The leadership philosophy I’ve always tried to follow is that I need to own the failures and share the successes. While there is still so much to be done, there is a lot of success to share. Reflecting on the past ten years has reminded me that none of those successes would be possible without the hard-working and passionate IDB staff and the support and accountability provided by our consumer group partners.

Library Corner

Sarah Willeford

The library has created a list of books that have been read by our talented Iowa Narrators. This list will be updated as new titles are completed. The list can be found on the library’s Online Public Catalog under Collection Highlights, Books Read by Iowa Narrators. Below are links to get you to the online catalog. You can also find the link to the catalog on our library blog.

Iowa Library for the Blind and Print Disabled Online Public Catalog -

Iowa Library for the Blind and Print Disabled Blog -

Some tips for JAWS and NVDA users:

• The side bar where the “Books Read by Iowa Narrators” is called the “left panel content.”

• By default, when you arrive on the online catalog page, your cursor will be brought directly to the search bar. So you will need to shift back to the left panel content.

• You can use the find command for “Iowa Narrators” to locate the link

If you would like to have a specific book recorded, contact Leslie Heinzler, Special Services Librarian, 515-452-1329 or Here are a Few Titles Read by Iowa Narrators:

DBC20112 – The Ghost of Craven Snuggs: a Midwestern Murder Mystery by Sandy Moffett

DBC20106 – House of Cards by Michael Dobbs

DBC20073 – Coming Clean: Stories by Betty Moffett

DBC20101 – Igniting Faith in 40 Days by Steve Backlund

DBC20041 – Ice Bird: the Classic Story of the First Single-handed Voyage to Antarctica by David Lewis

DBC20046 – Inside the Bubble: Campaigns, Caucuses, and the Future of the Presidential Nomination by Barbara Trish

DBC19970 – Coach: Maury John’s Journey to the Pinnacle of College Hoops by Kris Kesterson

DBC01524 – The Hope of Spring by Wanda Brunstetter

DBC01667 – The Sign Painter by T. Davis Bunn

DBC19788 – 16,000 Suspects: a RAGBRAI Mystery by Barbara Lounsberry

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.

News You Can Use

Norma A. Boge

The Per-app settings on an iOS device allow you to enable accessibility settings on an app-by-app basis instead of applying them system-wide. This can be useful if, for example, you need your Messages app to have a bigger text size but not your Settings app. This tip works on iPhones running iOS 16 or newer and iPads running iPadOS 16 or newer. Here’s how.

Open the Settings app, and select Accessibility. Scroll down and select Per-App Settings. Select Add App. Select the app to add it to the list.

Once you’ve added an app, select it to access its available accessibility settings. Here you can enable, disable, and adjust a broad array of accessibility options to make the app easier to use, such as changing text size, inverting colors, and reducing motion.

Amazon’s well-known, much-loved voice assistant Alexa will read Kindle e-books with her voice or play Audible audiobooks. All you have to do is ask. This is surely one of the easiest options available for reading books. It’s a natural for people with vision loss and a great convenience for anyone who wants to continue reading while they do other things. Ironically, Alexa’s skills do not even come under the heading of “accessibility,” yet it is the functionality we’ve been waiting for.

On your iPhone, you can now ask Siri to read articles out loud. While speech-to-text has been available for a while, asking Siri to read any open articles is a new iOS 17 feature.

Due to staff shortages, turnover, and seasonal workers, the United States Postal Service (USPS) has instituted new policies for pickup of packages such as braille and digital books. USPS requests that patrons use the online form at to schedule the pickup of library materials. If you do not have computer or Internet access, you can call USPS at 800-275-8777 or reach out to your network library for assistance.

The FBI office in Denver recently warned consumers against using free public charging stations, stating that criminals have managed to hijack public chargers with the objective of infecting devices with malware or other software that can give hackers access to your phone, tablet or computer. To be safe, they advise the use of your own charger and USB cord with an electrical outlet instead.

Amazon’s Audible has delivered a valuable update for Apple Watch users. The popular audiobook app now works independently on Apple Watches for both streaming and downloading content. Now listeners can access their library and stream and download titles without having to sync with an iPhone. Begin streaming with just one wrist tap and easily adjust the speaking rate while on the move.

The NLS now offers a free Braille calendar in both wall-sized and pocket-sized formats for patrons. Please reach out to the library at the Iowa Department for the Blind by calling 515-281-1323 or 800-362-2587 if you would like to subscribe to receive a calendar annually.

On Friday, September 29 at 11:00 AM Central time, Accessible Pharmacy will be holding a webinar regarding blindness and mental health. Expert presenters will discuss psychology and therapy, medications and genomic testing. Information on peer and community support resources will also be discussed. To register for the webinar or to request a recorded copy of the session, visit:

FEMA, in coordination with the FCC, will conduct a nationwide test of the Emergency Alert System (EAS) and Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) on Wednesday, October 4. The national test will consist of two portions testing WEA and EAS capabilities. Both tests are scheduled to begin at 1:20pm Central time. The EAS portion of the test will be sent to radios and televisions.

Easy Breakfast Casserole

Carrie Chapman

1 lb. Sausage

6 Eggs

2 cups Shredded Cheese

1/2 packaged Frozen Hash Browns (15 oz.)

2 cups Milk

1 tsp. Salt

1/2 tsp. Pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Crumble sausage into a skillet and brown completely. In a large bowl, mix eggs and milk together. Stir in salt and pepper.

In a 9X13 dish, stir together the frozen hash browns, sausage, and cheese. Pour the egg/milk mixture over the top.

Cover the dish with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake an additional 15 minutes until the dish is bubbly and the cheese melted.

Note: I used the frozen hash browns with onion and green pepper. Recipe from .

Selecting ICUB as a Beneficiary

If you or a friend would like to remember the Iowa Council of the United Blind in your will, you may do so by using the following language: “I grant, devise, or bequeath unto the Iowa Council of the United Blind, a non-profit charitable organization, the sum of ______ dollars, ____ percent of my net estate, or the following stocks and bonds (please list them) to be used for its worthy purposes on behalf of blind persons.” If you have questions or your wishes are more complex, you or your attorney can contact ICUB by calling 866-436-0141 or through the webpage at:

Across Iowa Chapter Report

Don Wirth, President

The Across Iowa Chapter held our annual in-person meeting on August 25 during the 2023 ICUB Annual Conference and Convention. The meeting was hybrid. Pizza and beverages were provided to those attending in person.

During the meeting the nominating committee of Teresa Gregg and Mary Haupt presented the following slate of nominees: For President, Don Wirth; for Vice President, Carrie Chapman; for Treasurer, Jeana Mowry; and for Secretary, Teresa Gregg. No nominations were presented from the floor. All nominees from the nominating committee were elected.

As of the annual meeting, there are thirty members of the Chapter. Our meetings are the first Thursday of every month at 7:00 p.m. via zoom. Because the annual meeting was held in the last week of August, we did not hold a meeting in September. The next meeting will be October 5.

Des Moines Chapter Report

Cody Dolinsek, President

The Des Moines Chapter of ICUB continues to do its best to offer support to the blind of Des Moines and to the community at large. This past June, we held our monthly meeting, and Jill Wells was our guest speaker. A Fellow of the Harkin Center, Jill spoke to us about the accessible art that she makes. Her accessible art is motivated by tragedy within her family that has caused her to think about ways to make her art available to people of all capabilities.

In August, we held our monthly meeting at the Harkin Institute, and our Chapter members also had an opportunity to tour the facility. The Harkin Center is a place where everyone is made to feel welcome, included, and understood. Touring the Harkin Center and holding our meeting there allowed us to learn about the needs those with different disabilities have. It also gave us a chance to think about how providing accessibility for one group might hinder the progress of another in some circumstances.

On August 31, the Des Moines Chapter held a fund raiser with Panera Bread in Johnston, Iowa. The restaurant gave the chapter 25% of the proceeds from the sale of food purchased during the hours of 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. The only condition we had to meet was to show the flyer to the cashier. Members were encouraged to share the flyer with friends, family members, and anyone who might want to enjoy some good food and fellowship.

On September 2, the Des Moines Chapter volunteered time to package meals for hungry Iowans with Meals from the Heartland. This is one of the ways we seek to share our time and energy with our larger community. This opportunity gives us the chance to be reminded that we are part of a larger whole and that we have a responsibility to look out for more than just ourselves.

On September 12, we had a senior dinner with the Independent Living staff and some senior students at the Iowa Department for the Blind. Our monthly meeting in September featured Iowa senator (and Lutheran pastor) Sarah Trone Garriott. She talked to us about advocacy, especially with the Iowa Legislature. Also in September, the Des Moines Chapter will hold its annual picnic on the 30th at Legion Park in West Des Moines from 1:00 - 4:00 p.m. In November we will hold our annual trivia bowl at Felix and Oscar’s.

These are some of the things we have to look forward to, and we are excited to continue to serve and support the blind of Des Moines and the larger community of which we are a part.


To obtain a current list of State Board members and Chapter Presidents, including their contact information, go to our website,, and click on the “Who We Are” link. You can also get this information by emailing us through a form at the bottom of our website page.

The ICUB Bulletin is available in large print, via e-mail, and on an NLS-compliant digital audio cartridge. To subscribe to the cartridge edition, please contact the Iowa Department for the Blind Library at 515-281-1323 or 800-362-2587, option 2. Please direct other questions about format choice and address changes to Co-Editor Sandy Tigges.

ICUB offers a BIG thank you to FuseBox One for so graciously donating the printing and mailing of the print copies of each issue of the Bulletin. We also wish to thank Catherine Witte for so meticulously proofreading each issue.

Copyright 2023 Iowa Council of the United Blind, Inc.

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