Published by the
IOWA COUNCIL OF THE UNITED BLIND
An American Council of the Blind Affiliate
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
Dear Members and Friends,
First, let me apologize. In the last issue of the Bulletin, I listed the dates for our State Convention incorrectly. The correct dates are August 26-27, 2022. The Convention will be held at the Courtyard by Marriott, 2405 SE Creekview Drive, Ankeny, Iowa, 50021. I am sorry for any confusion.
Have you checked out ICUB’s recent blog? There you can find our Bulletin archives, Convention updates, Chapter news, and more. We are just getting started adding content, so check back often. You can find our blog on our website at: www.icublind.org .
Have you been receiving e-mails from us? Did you receive the last Bulletin? If not, please check your spam/junk folder. I would also encourage you to add firstname.lastname@example.org to your contact list. If you need to update your e-mail address, please reach out to us.
We want your feedback! Do you enjoy our quarterly Bulletins? What articles do you most enjoy? Is there a feature you would like to see added? Do you have an article you would like to submit? If so, you can email email@example.com . We value your feedback and would love to hear from you.
Thank you to everyone who is submitted their 2022 membership dues. We are still accepting dues for the 2022 year and would love to have you join us. If you would like to find out more about ICUB or become a member, please visit our website at: www.icublind.org . You can also call 1-866-436-0141. We are always happy to hear from you.
Below you will find information about consumer issues with which ICUB and other organizations have been dealing: web and application accessibility, electronic absentee voting, and service animal restrictions. ICUB has joined over one hundred organizations—including the American Council of the Blind, (ACB), American Foundation for the Blind, National Disability Rights Network, and National Federation of the Blind—in signing a letter insisting that the Department of Justice take quick action to finalize rules on web and application accessibility. That letter follows this article.
The other two items are bills that had been proposed this year for passage by the Iowa legislature but did not make it through the funnel. ICUB registered its support of the electronic absentee voting bill (HF2426). Unfortunately, it did not survive this year as a stand-alone bill, but could still be added to another bill. Although HF2426 doesn’t include all of the provisions we need, it is a start. The text of the bill appears following the letter to the Department of Justice.
SF2035, which also did not pass through the funnel this year, attempts to put restrictions on the use of service animals, including guide dogs, in the context of county and city breed restrictions. Current law grants a person with a disability, a person assisting a person with a disability by controlling a service animal, a service-animal-in-training, or a person training a service animal the right to be accompanied by the service animal or service-animal-in-training, under control, at public facilities and accommodations without being required to make additional payment for the service animal or service-animal-in-training. The proposed bill provides that the right does not apply if the public facility or accommodation is in a county or city that prohibits or restricts the possession of a specific breed or perceived breed of dog and the service animal or service-animal-in-training is of the prohibited or restricted breed or perceived breed of dog. For example, if you have a service animal that falls under a prohibited breed in a particular area, that area does not have to follow the guidelines which typically protect you and your dog. ICUB has joined the Humane Society, the Animal Rescue League of Iowa, the Iowa Pet Alliance, the ACLU of Iowa, and others in registering opposition to this bill.
Take care and stay safe!
Carrie Chapman, President
Letter to the Department of Justice
Editor’s Note: This is the letter President Chapman refers to in her message above. While only ACB is shown as a signatory because of space restrictions, the letter was signed by more than 100 advocacy organizations.
U.S. Department of Justice
Civil Rights Division
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20530
Dear Assistant Attorney General Clarke:
The 181 undersigned disability organizations believe that there is an urgent need for digital accessibility regulations. We urge the Department of Justice to maintain this rulemaking process as a priority and finalize a rule by the end of the current administration.
The U.S. Department of Justice has long held that the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) includes websites and other technologies that are critical to accessing a business’s or agency’s services or facilities, but has failed to define when and how they should be accessible. In 2018, the Department reconfirmed its position that the ADA applies to the internet but never completed rulemakings that were begun in 2010 under Titles II and III of the ADA and withdrawn in 2017. Meanwhile, courts have diverged in interpreting when and how the ADA should apply to the internet, and business groups are on the record seeking clear standards that clarify their obligations under the ADA.
In 2016, the National Council on Disability (NCD) recommended that the Department of Justice issue a notice of proposed rulemaking that reinforces that the ADA applies to the internet. NCD also recommended that multiple agencies complete existing rulemakings and initiate new rulemakings on accessibility of various types of information and communication technology (ICT), including web content, applications, hardware, and software. The absence of digital accessibility regulations in the intervening time period has resulted in persistent exclusion of people with disabilities from digital spaces covered by the ADA.
Recent research has shown the breadth of barriers that people with disabilities face. Several studies find persistent barriers in telehealth accessibility. A study of 74 deaf participants who had recently used telehealth found that 65% of participants experienced communications accessibility barriers. Deaf patients frequently experience the inability to connect remote medical interpreters or real-time captioners through a secure telehealth platform, the inability to see the provider on video, and other technical issues, including poor audio quality. Another study found that of 285 blind and low vision participants who had used telehealth to meet with their healthcare provider, 21% reported the telehealth platform was not accessible with their assistive technology, and preliminary data from a forthcoming study suggests that the number could exceed 50% a year later. Moreover, while there are no studies directly examining the telehealth experiences of deafblind people, anecdotal reports suggest that the vast majority of deafblind people are completely unable to utilize telehealth as it currently exists.
The challenges are present in every sector of society. Nearly 60% of the educators surveyed in a fall, 2020, study reported their blind and low vision students could not access one or more of the digital learning tools they were expected to use in class. A 2022 study found that about 50% of survey respondents experienced accessibility challenges when filling out electronic onboarding paperwork. Moreover, an annual automated analysis demonstrates how common inaccessibility barriers are, finding that of one million webpages reviewed in 2021, 97% had accessibility issues, and an average of 50 errors appeared on every page.
These findings are neither exhaustive of all website-related issues nor comprehensive of the entire disability community. The disability community is large and diverse, facing access issues that continue to grow and evolve with the ever-changing landscape of websites and applications. While the studies cited primarily explored the experiences of people with sensory disabilities, accessibility issues are pervasive, frequent, and harmful for people with other disabilities as well.
The scale of inaccessibility and its impact on access to nearly every type of web or application-based activity necessitates regulatory action. As the COVID-19 pandemic has made abundantly clear, we live in a society that increasingly lives and works through digital tools and online spaces. When websites and applications are inaccessible, people with disabilities cannot apply for jobs, work efficiently, attend school, access healthcare, schedule a ride, shop, find public health information, apply for public benefits, and more.
We remind you that Congress intends the ADA to cover the internet and applications. We urge you to continue the rulemaking process at a pace that ensures a rule can be finalized by the end of the current administration. Thank you for your consideration and work on behalf of people with disabilities.
American Council of the Blind
Clark Rachfal, CRachfal@acb.org
HOUSE FILE 2426
BY GERHOLD, BRADLEY, and DUNWELL
A BILL FOR An Act relating to the electronic delivery of absentee ballots for persons with certain physical disabilities. To BE ENACTED BY THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE STATE OF IOWA:
Section 1. Section 53.2, subsection 2, Code 2022, is amended by adding the following new paragraph:
NEW PARAGRAPH. e. Absentee ballot applications shall include a space for a registered voter with a physical disability that prevents the registered voter from reading or marking a printed ballot without assistance from another person to request that an absentee ballot be delivered to the registered voter electronically. A voter requesting that an absentee ballot be delivered electronically shall explain why the voter cannot read or mark a physical absentee ballot without assistance from another person. The state commissioner shall adopt rules regarding the form of electronic absentee ballots.
Sec. 2. Section 53.8, subsection 1, paragraph a, unnumbered paragraph 1, Code 2022, is amended to read as follows:
Upon receipt of an application for an absentee ballot and immediately after the absentee ballots are printed, but not more than twenty days before the election, the commissioner shall mail an absentee ballot to the applicant within twenty-four hours, except as otherwise provided in subsection 3 or 5. The absentee ballot shall be sent to the registered voter by one of the following methods:
Sec. 3. Section 53.8, subsection 3, paragraph c, Code 2022, is amended to read as follows:
c. Nothing in this subsection nor in section 53.22 shall be construed to prohibit a registered voter who is a hospital patient or resident of a health care facility, or who anticipates entering a hospital or health care facility before the date of a forthcoming election, from casting an absentee ballot in the manner prescribed by section 53.10 or 53.11, or from completing an electronic absentee ballot in the manner prescribed by subsection 5.
Sec. 4. Section 53.8, Code 2022, is amended by adding the following new subsection:
NEW SUBSECTION. 5. a. (1) When an application for an absentee ballot is received by the commissioner from a voter who has indicated that the voter has a physical disability that prevents the voter from reading or marking a printed ballot without assistance from another person, the commissioner shall determine whether the voter qualifies to receive an electronic absentee ballot. If the commissioner determines that the voter qualifies to receive an electronic absentee ballot, the commissioner shall transmit an electronic absentee ballot to the voter in a form that allows the voter to electronically read and mark the ballot on a personal computer without the assistance of another person. An electronic absentee ballot shall not be transmitted prior to the mailing of physical absentee ballots. In addition to an electronic absentee ballot, the commissioner shall mail all physical materials other than an absentee ballot as provided in subsections 1 and 2.
(2) If the commissioner determines that the voter does not qualify to receive an electronic absentee ballot, the commissioner shall inform the voter by the best means available that the voter does not qualify to receive an electronic absentee ballot, the reason for the rejection, and that the voter shall be mailed a physical absentee ballot.
b. An electronic absentee ballot completed pursuant to paragraph “a” shall be printed by the voter and returned to the commissioner as provided in section 53.17, using the same method as required for physical absentee ballots in that election. An electronic absentee ballot shall not be returned electronically.
c. The state commissioner shall adopt rules for the transmission and marking of electronic absentee ballots.
Sec. 5. Section 53.22, subsection 2, paragraph a, subparagraph (1), Code 2022, is amended to read as follows:
A registered voter who has applied for an absentee ballot, in a manner other than that prescribed by section 53.10 or 53.11, or by section 53.8, subsection 5, and who is a resident, tenant, or patient in a health care facility, assisted living program, or hospital located in the county to which the application has been submitted shall be delivered the appropriate absentee ballot by two special precinct election officers, one of whom shall be a member of each of the political parties referred to in section 49.13, who shall be appointed by the commissioner from the election board panel for the special precinct established by section 53.20. The special precinct election officers shall be sworn in the manner provided by section 49.75 for election board members, shall receive compensation as provided in section 49.20, and shall perform their duties during the ten calendar days after the ballots are printed if the commissioner so elects, during the fourteen calendar days preceding the election, and on election day if all ballots requested under section 53.8, subsection 3, have not previously been delivered and returned.
The inclusion of this explanation does not constitute agreement with the explanation’s substance by the members of the general assembly.
This bill relates to the electronic delivery of absentee ballots to certain persons. The bill requires the state commissioner of elections to include a space on absentee ballot request forms for a voter to indicate that the voter wants to receive an electronic absentee ballot because the voter has a physical disability that prevents the voter from reading and marking a physical ballot without the assistance of another person. If, upon receipt of an absentee ballot request form, the county commissioner of elections determines that the voter qualifies to receive an electronic absentee ballot, the county commissioner shall transmit an electronic absentee ballot to the voter at the time that physical absentee ballots are mailed. If the county commissioner determines that the voter does not qualify to receive an electronic absentee ballot, the county commissioner shall inform the voter of the rejection, the reason therefore, and that the voter will receive a physical absentee ballot.
The bill requires an electronic absentee ballot to be transmitted in a form that allows the voter to read and mark the ballot using a personal computer. The bill then requires the voter to print the absentee ballot and return it in the same manner as prescribed for physical absentee ballots. The bill does not allow a voter to return an absentee ballot electronically. The bill requires the state commissioner of elections to adopt rules regarding the form, transmission, and marking of electronic absentee ballots.
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.
Answers to Trivia Questions
In the last issue of the Bulletin, we asked 12 trivia questions and offered a prize for the winning entry. We had 5 entries. At the February meeting of the Across Iowa Chapter, we had a drawing for a winner from those entries. Carol Flickinger won. Below are the answers to the questions. Watch for more opportunities to win big prizes by reading the Bulletin.
1. “Witchy Woman” was sung by the Eagles.
2. “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself,” was said by President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
3. The comedian famous for imitating several presidents was Rich Little.
4. Saul Bellow did not win the Nobel Prize for Literature for any one of his writings but for his excellence in the “understanding and analysis of culture” found in his writings. His book Herzog was published in 1974, the same year he won the Nobel Prize for Literature.
5. C.S. Lewis wrote the Chronicles of Narnia.
6. Betty White played Rose Nylund on The Golden Girls.
(Note: This quiz was not beneficial for two of the personalities whose names were the answers. Betty White passed away since we published the quiz. See below for the second person lost).
7. Many SNL stars started their careers at Second City in Chicago.
8. President James Polk signed a bill on December 28, 1846, that made Iowa the 29th state in the union. HAPPY 175th BIRTHDAY, IOWA.
9. Meatloaf made the album “Bat out of Hell.” Sadly, he too passed away since we published the quiz.
10. The bicentennial year for the United States was 1976. Many celebrations happened between April 1, 1975 and July 4, 1976. That means only 4 more years until the quarter millennium (250th birthday).
11. Mariano Rivera was the only baseball player to have a unanimous vote to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. Let’s hear it from all you New York Yankees lovers!
12. Fess Parker played the characters Daniel Boone and Davey Crockett, wearing a coonskin cap in both roles. In reality, Daniel Boone wore a beaver hat.
Meet the Board: Norma Boge
Editor’s Note: This is the latest in a series of articles to provide readers with more information about the people who are leading ICUB through their service as Directors on our State Board.
Working together on common causes is something Norma Boge has been doing her entire life. It started growing up on a farm near Charles City. She worked with her family members to raise livestock and grow corn and beans. She operated most, if not all, of the farm implements while working with her parents and siblings.
Norma carried her cooperative work attitude to performing with the marching bands at her undergraduate colleges. Norma was able to travel to and perform at the Rose Bowl while at the University of Iowa. When she transferred to Washington State University (WSU), she was able to travel to Japan for performances. Norma’s work on the Board of ICUB is just the latest in her efforts of cooperative work for improving programs and projects that are important to her.
Norma lost her sight in a car accident while commuting to an intensive French class at WSU. After the accident, she returned home to Charles City. As part of her transition to living with blindness, she entered the Orientation Center at the Iowa Department for the Blind. There she learned Braille.
Something else you should know about Norma: she doesn’t like to leave things unfinished. When she lost her sight, she was within 6 months of completing her bachelor’s degree at WSU. She contacted the Dean of the College of Liberal Arts. She was able to complete her course work remotely. In cooperation with the school, Norma was able to submit her training in Braille as the foreign language component she needed to graduate. The Dean agreed that “Braille would be more important than French.” And he was right. Approximately two years after the car accident, Norma and two van loads of family and friends travelled from Iowa to Pullman, WA, to celebrate as Norma walked across the stage to receive her degree.
After completing her bachelor’s degree, Norma worked in Senator Tom Harkin’s office in the Des Moines Federal Building for several years. She worked as a receptionist and case worker dealing with constituent concerns. She would facilitate the communications between the constituent and the appropriate federal office. Norma often met Senator Harkin. One of the more recent meetings occurred while she and her husband Eldon were at the State Fair. She heard someone say, “Wait a minute. I need to go say hi to someone.” It was Senator Harkin who came over to greet Norma. Norma was then able to introduce Senator Harkin to Eldon.
Another fortuitous meeting took place while she was working for Senator Harkin. It occurred in the cafeteria at the Federal Building in Des Moines. The cafeteria was run by a member of ICUB. After talking with the ICUB member, Norma accepted the invitation to a Chapter meeting and joined ICUB in 1994.
Over the years, Norma has worked for the Governor’s Statewide Independent Living Council and for Iowa Legal Aid. She also completed a Master’s degree from Drake in vocational rehabilitation administration.
Anyone who knows much about Norma knows she has a great deal of knowledge about technical issues, including computers and Android phones. When asked how she became so knowledgeable, Norma answers that she is stubborn and wants to learn about the things she uses. So she has explored a number of resources to learn more.
Norma’s goal in working with ICUB is to help forward the business of living blind. Working with ICUB allows her to work with others to identify problems, solutions and promote implementation of those solutions through lobbying and advocacy. Norma’s working philosophy is that many blind people came before us and helped us make great strides in what is now accessible to us that was not previously available. It is our job to help make life even better for ourselves and those who will follow us.
Some of Norma’s takeaways from working with ICUB are how great the group of people you get to interact with and become friends with are; the amount of volunteer work that is done; and the value of the Conventions. Regarding state and national Conventions, Norma is extremely enthusiastic and encourages everyone to attend. “Conventions are the only places you can go where blind folks are in the majority,” she said. “Everyone knows what it is to be blind and the level of support is phenomenal. It is how the entire world should be, but probably won’t become.”
Norma is ending her service as an ICUB Board member later this spring. She will be splitting her time between Maine and Des Moines. In Maine, she will be teaming up with her partner in adventures of some 40+ years to take on even more challenges. But her dedication to ICUB and our goals will not fade. Norma is planning to be at the national Convention in Omaha this summer.
More Marching Bands
Don Wirth, with a big assist from Jo Slayton
Editor’s Note: This is how my mind works. After interviewing Norma Boge for the Board member profile, my mind went to the ultimate marching band story, “The Music Man,” and Iowa composer Meredith Willson. “The Music Man” just happens to be starting a new run on Broadway. And, just a second, didn’t Jo Slayton once tell me a story about a marching band at the School for the Blind in Vinton? And wasn’t Meredith Willson involved in that story in some way?
So I called Jo. Boy, did I get an earful, that is, memories filled with joy, romance and anger. I promised Jo I wouldn’t get too detailed. Suffice it to say that Jo marched in Chicago and her husband, Creig, marched in New York City in the performances described below. You will have to contact Jo for more details.
After we spoke, Jo found the following article about the Iowa Blind Marching Band. It first appeared in the January, 2010 Lion, the international magazine of the Lions’ Clubs. Jo did mention that in order to stay in step, they marched elbow to elbow. She said this was challenging for someone of her height while playing a piccolo. The drum major used a series of whistles that indicated forward, stop, left, right, speed up and slow down. The band spent many hours practicing before they made their world premiere on the streets of Chicago.
Iowa Braille School Marched Its Way into History Books
Under the direction of John Best, Iowa Braille and Sight Saving School had the first marching band of all blind musicians. The 35-member band marched in closed rank with partially sighted students flanking the outside of each row.
This Iowa band made its first appearance in Chicago at the Lions International Convention in July, 1958. In the spring of the next year, the band marched again. That time it was at the Lions International Convention in New York City. The Vinton Lions’ Club provided new uniforms for the New York trip and the Iowa students proudly strutted to “76 Trombones,” as a tribute to Meredith Willson, Iowa’s own composer.
“In 1961 John Best passed the baton to his understudy and capable student teacher, James Grupp, who carried on the tradition of the now famous marching band as well as the symphonic band which toured the state of Iowa,” Miner said.
The school’s archives state that in October, 1961, all students and faculty at the school heard the all-call bells announcing frantically for everyone to come to the Chapel. All were greeted with a rare opportunity to meet a very special guest—none other than Meredith Willson himself.
“He explained to the surprised audience that he had seen the Iowa Braille band in the New York parade two years earlier and was so impressed that when he and his wife were passing through Vinton, they decided to stop at the school to express their appreciation and admiration to the group,” Miner said.
Records show that much to the delight of the students, Willson and his wife, Renee, gave an impromptu concert including many of the hit songs from “The Music Man,” and a sneak preview of Willson’s next musical “The Unsinkable Molly Brown.”
In July, 1967, under Grupp’s leadership, the marching band (sporting new hats and plumes provided by the local Lions) made its third and final appearance at the Lions International Convention parade in Chicago.
Editor’s Note Again: Did you enjoy this article? Do you have a fond memory that you would like to share? If, so, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
Pizza Soup with Garlic-Toast Croutons
Carrie’s Note: This soup recipe, which I found in a magazine, is very good. Note that I did not use the spinach.
28 oz. can diced tomatoes, drained
15 oz. can pizza sauce
1 lb. boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch pieces
3 oz. sliced pepperoni, halved
1 C. sliced fresh mushrooms
1 small onion, chopped
½ C. chopped green pepper
¼ tsp. pepper
2 14.5 oz. cans chicken broth
11.25 oz. package frozen garlic Texas toast
10 oz. frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
1 C. shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
In a 6-qt. slow cooker, combine the first 9 ingredients. Cook, covered, on low, for 6-8 hours, until chicken is tender. For croutons, cut Texas toast into cubes; bake according to package directions. Add spinach to soup; heat through, stirring occasionally. Top servings with cheese and warm croutons.
Freezing option: Freeze cooled soup in freezer containers. To ready for use, partially thaw in the refrigerator overnight. Heat through in a saucepan, stirring occasionally. Prepare croutons as directed. Top soup with cheese and croutons.
News You Can Use
Norma A. Boge
Helen Keller has been added to Barbie’s Inspiring Women™ Series, which pays tribute to incredible heroines of their time. The Helen Keller Barbie is fully poseable and comes dressed in a striped skirt and blouse with ruffled lace details, a style inspired by Helen’s time as a student in the early 1900s. She carries a book with molded braille on its cover, and the display packaging has information in both print and Braille. A doll stand and Certificate of Authenticity are included. This collectible can be found at Amazon, Target, Wal-Mart and similar retailers.
Now you can play the popular game Wordle with a screen reader. Wordle is an online word game that you can play every day. It’s simple, enjoyable, and, like a crossword puzzle, can only be completed once per day. There’s a new word of the day every 24 hours, and it’s up to you to find out what it is. For information on playing Wordle using a screen reader, visit:
Hy-Vee pharmacies now offer talking prescription labels. Using En-Vision America’s ScripTalk product, pharmacists are able to program and place a small electronic tag on the prescription package. The tag contains all of the prescription label information. By scanning the label with either a ScripTalk reader or the free ScripTalk mobile app, patients can have all of their information read aloud. To enroll in ScripTalk’s talking prescription labels program, contact the manager at your local Hy-Vee pharmacy.
CVS Pharmacy is also offering Spoken Rx “talking” prescription labels in all of its 10,000 locations. The labels can be read by iOS and Android smart devices using the CVS Pharmacy app and also work using RFID (radio-frequency identification) technology. For more information, visit:
https://www.cvs.com/content/pharmacy/spoken-rx or call 888-287-5654.
Do you need help ordering your free COVID-19 tests? If you’re having difficulty accessing www.COVIDtests.gov or need additional help placing your order, call 1-800-232-0233. They are open every day from 7:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m., CT. Please note that these tests are not accessible to the blind.
DoorDash, the on-demand food delivery service, is committed to making sure everyone can enjoy the convenience of their platform. If you need help using the service because of a disability, please contact 1-855-300-8985.
The Food and Drug Administration has cleared what is described as the first-ever smartphone application capable of initiating insulin delivery on both iOS and Android operating systems. The system comes from Tandem Diabetes Care, and the application ties into the company's t:slim X2 insulin pump. For more information, go to:
Maryland U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen and other Congressional leaders want the U.S. Post Office's, (USPS) Inspector General to investigate the USPS Free Matter for the Blind or Other Physically Handicapped Persons program after reports of delayed delivery of materials sent under the program. To learn more, go to: https://tinyurl.com/2p8a2mj5 .
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 your wishes are more complex, you can have your attorney call 515-279-4284, or write to the Iowa Council of the United Blind, 4013 – 30th Street, Des Moines, IA 50310.
Iowa Department for the Blind Report
Emily Wharton, Director
As part of our SFY22 appropriation, Governor Reynolds and the General Assembly generously included funding for a seventh Independent living Rehabilitation Teacher (ILRT). Last fall, we happily announced that we hired Alyssa Munstermann to fill this role. Alyssa has recently completed her Blindness Empowerment and Independence Center Training and is now training with Kim and the IL teachers.
Alyssa Munstermann will be accepting cases within Polk County based on her and Mark Edge’s caseload size. She will be assigned to counties south of Polk County to reduce Susan Howard’s regional area. These counties include Adams, Adair, Clarke, Decatur, Jasper, Lucas, Madison, Marion, Polk, which is shared with Mark Edge, Ringgold, Taylor, Union, Warren, and Wayne. In addition to sharing Polk County with Alyssa, Mark will be serving two counties to the west of Polk and three counties just immediately to the north and slightly north and west of Polk County. Susan serves most of southeast Iowa. Connie Mendenhall serves the eastern corridor. Kelsi Hansen serves the Northeast corner of the state and Lori Berglund covers much of Northwest and North Central Iowa. Monica Venesky serves the western and southwestern edge of our state.
Alyssa grew up on a farm in Southwest Iowa and attended Iowa State. There she got the opportunity to study abroad for six months in London where she was able to travel all over Europe on the weekends. She settled in Des Moines and is married and has two young daughters, a kindergartener and a toddler. Her husband works for Hy-Vee and they have a dog named Lolo. She has worked for IDB for three and a half years now, so she's not new to the Department, but new to her position. Her work as IL support staff made her very familiar with IL's processes. Alyssa says, “I am really looking forward to getting out there and helping my clients become as independent as possible. I know how much having independence means to someone. It inspires me to look outside the box when problem solving against any obstacles that might keep them from getting a task done in their day-to-day life. I want to be that person that they can trust to help provide those tools and tricks to be successful on their own."
We are also excited to welcome Julie Skinner to fill Alyssa's previous role as IL secretary. Julie worked for IDB several years ago as a temp and we were very excited to see her application for this position. She has just completed her Center training and is working with Kim to train on her daily job duties.
It is a time of joy and excitement at IDB and in IL and Maintenance especially, as we recently congratulated Kim Barber and Randy Walford on their marriage. IL and the Center are busily planning the IL Integration that will be held from April 10 through April 15th.
At-Large Chapter Report
Our meetings are held the first Thursday of each month at 7:15 p.m. via the ICUB Zoom number.
In December and January, our discussions were social, focusing on getting to know each other a little better.
In February, we received an update on activities at the Iowa Library for the Blind and Print Disabled. These included a temporary suspension by NLS of the large print version of Talking Books Topics due to supply chain issues with the paper used to print the books. The library is producing mini-volumes based on different topics. Also, NLS is preparing to roll out a project where patrons will be able to get soft cover volumes of Braille books that the patron will be able to keep. Details regarding which books and when they will become available are forthcoming.
In February we heard from the Hadley Institute’s Director of Outreach. Hadley offers a variety of courses, podcasts, seminars and community Zoom meeting which one can view at their website: www.Hadley.org , or for which one may subscribe. All Hadley courses and services are free.
Des Moines Chapter Report
Lori Trujillo Roush
In January, our speaker was Sarah Willeford, Director of the Iowa Library for the Blind and Print Disabled. Due to high Covid19 numbers, the meeting was held via Zoom.
In February, the Chapter partnered with researchers from Iowa State University, (ISU), to provide a unique opportunity to blind and low vision members of the community. Members and friends met with the ISU team to test the accessibility of ballot tabulators. Jacklin Stonewall, a member of the ISU research team, presented information and discussed the project with us.
February also marked our first official hybrid meeting. We had approximately 20 members attend the meeting in person, while a number of others attended via Zoom. Toward the end of the agenda, members approved funding to purchase the conference speaker phones necessary to enable hybrid meetings to become part of the Chapter's permanent platform. This will give members and friends access to our Chapter meetings in whatever way they feel most comfortable.
At the end of February, we met with transition students. There were approximately twelve students and five Department staff attending, along with six volunteers from the Chapter. We provided a chicken dinner for all in attendance.
Afterward, we held a scavenger hunt. Students were divided into four groups and provided with sleep shades. ICUB members were matched with students and staff. We were then given Braille instructions directing us through the skywalk. Along the way, we had to find certain landmarks and then answer questions about them, writing the responses in Braille. For example, one direction and follow-up question was, “After exiting the elevator lobby, turn left and go through the second set of automatic doors. Find the Braille sign before the doors. What does it say?” Students and members did a great job of working together, and everyone seemed to have fun!
The next day, Chapter volunteers hosted a table at the Department’s STEM Festival. ICUB provided two activities for those attending. The first was a Lego activity where people could make models using accessible instructions. The second activity provided an opportunity to build circuits to motorize a fan, turn on a light, or play music. The circuit board kit and Lego kit were then given away to students via a drawing.
Our Chapter would like to become more involved in our community. Discussion of how we might do so began at our January meeting and will continue on through our March agenda. Those attending our March Chapter meeting are encouraged to bring and share their ideas for community participation.
I hope we see everyone soon!
To get a current list of State Board members and Chapter Presidents, including their contact information, go to our website, icublind.org , and click on the “Who We Are” link. You can also e-mail us through a form at the bottom of that 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 and address changes to Co-Editor Don Wirth.
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 as well.
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