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Published by


Affiliate of the American Council of the Blind

Cynthia Qloud, President

1918 E. 12th

Des Moines, IA 50316

(515) 266-5110

Norma A. Boge, Co-Editor

2324 Riverwoods Ave.

Des Moines, IA 50320-2808

(515) 288-1938

Don Wirth, Co-Editor

921 – 9th St., #208

Ames, IA 50010

(515) 451-3379

Catherine Witte, Secretary

200 Parkview Dr.

Waukee, IA 50263

(515) 987-4490 – home

Jeana Mowery, Treasurer

1007 E. St. Clair

Missouri Valley, IA 51555

(712) 600-6028 – home

(712) 310-7140 – cell


Robert Spangler, Immediate Past President - Vinton, (319) 550-1748

Mike Hoenig, First Vice-President - Davenport, (563) 344-8787

Creig Slayton, Second Vice President – Des Moines, (515) 279-4284

Joyce Davis, Director - Fort Dodge, (515) 955-1634

Donna Seliger, Director – West Des Moines, (515) 284-0505

Arlo Monthei, Director –Des Moines, (515) 277-0442

Rose Stratton, Director - Maquoketa, (563) 652-2546

Sandy Tigges, Director – Des Moines, (515) 277-1256

Shirley Wiggins, Director - Cedar Rapids, (319) 362-7138

Carol Flickinger, Director – Rockwell City, (712) 887-1109


Anyone who cannot read this print Bulletin, finds it difficult to have it read or wishes an e-mail or cassette version may receive a copy at no charge. Please contact Jo Slayton at (515) 279-4284 to request an alternative format. Cassette readers may keep their copy of the Bulletin. However, to return cassettes when you are finished with them, please place them in a NEW standard mailing envelope, write “Free Matter for the Blind” in the upper right hand corner, and return them to the editor at the address on the front of this Bulletin. Please remember to contact the editor if your address changes. We want to make sure that anyone who wants to receive a Bulletin gets one!


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 may have your attorney call (515) 279-4284, or write Iowa Council of the United Blind, 4013 30TH Street, Des Moines, IA 50310.


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 claim a tax deduction equal to the dollar value of the vehicle. Call 800-899-4925 for more information.


Are you an online shopper? You can help ICUB secure some additional funds when you shop at . 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 be the charity of choice each time you shop at . ICUB will receive 0.5% of the value of purchases. If you do not yet have an account at Amazon, go to their website, establish an account, and then go to to make your purchases. Happy shopping!

Table of Contents

President’s Letter 4

Vision Loss Resource Fairs 6

2015 ICUB State Convention, April 10, 2015 – April 12, 2015 7

Friday’s Opening Session 7

Saturday’s Sessions 10

Elections 13

Banquet Highlights 13

Sunday’s Session 14

In Memoriam 14

Resolutions 15

Braille Writer Awarded 18

ACB Mid-Year Legislative Meeting Report 19

Connections Peer Support Social Network 20

Meet the Board 21

Des Moines Chapter Report 23

Des Moines Chapter Annual Picnic 24

President’s Letter

Dear Members and Supporters of ICUB,

I would like to express my thanks and the thanks of ICUB to the many individuals who helped make this year’s convention a good one.

In particular, there were several people who helped both financially and by giving their time toward putting the convention together and enabling as many people as possible to come and participate. Thank you, Creig and Jo Slayton, Sally Vander Linden, Don Wirth, Catherine and Jim Witte, Jeana Mowery, Ray Campbell, vendors presenting exhibits, and all of our trainers and speakers.

It takes a lot of effort to put on a good convention! Our program committee, Sandy Tigges, Linda Manders, Carrie Chapman, Carol Flickinger, Donna Seliger, and Cynthia Qloud, gave a great deal of time and worked hard to put together an excellent program.

We do need your help in planning our next convention. Please bring ideas to me, Cynthia Qloud (CIP). I would be happy to hear them. It is not too early to start our work for next year. Your ideas are essential to our providing presentations that will benefit you, our members.

Again, thanks much.

Cynthia Qloud, President

Editors’ Notes

We’ve been working hard to transition your Bulletin to a new committee of folks who will be responsible for all phases of getting the Bulletin to you. Many thanks go to Mike Hoenig for his years of service as editor. Mike put in countless hours assembling, editing, and formatting. It is not an easy job. Mike’s guidance and patience during our transition have been invaluable. We appreciate his help.

Speaking of transitions, the time has come for the audio cassette production of the Bulletin to come to an end. The need for change is causing us to explore some neat new ways of getting your Bulletin to you, and details will come in a future issue. If you currently receive the cassette edition and are ready to switch to either e-mail or large print, please contact one of us using the contact information at the end of this article. If you’d like to wait and see what other options emerge, that’s okay, too. We just want to make sure everyone understands our cassette duplicating machine won’t last much longer. We’re not even sure they are still being made. Stay tuned. We think you’ll be excited about what’s in the future for Bulletin delivery.

Lastly, remember this is your Bulletin. Please send us articles or stories or whatever you think might interest our members. Not a writer? That’s okay. We’ll write it--just tell us what you want to say.

You’ve waited quite a while for this issue, so let’s get to it, shall we?

Norma A. Boge and Don Wirth

Vision Loss Resource Fairs

The Iowa Department for the Blind has announced details for two upcoming Vision Loss Resource Fairs. Details follow.

Tuesday, June 23, from 12:30 P.M. to 2:30 P.M.

Iowa Department for the Blind

524 Fourth Street, Des Moines, Iowa, and

Wednesday, June 24, from 1:00 P.M. to 4:00 P.M.

Broadway United Methodist Church

11 South 1st Street, Council Bluffs, Iowa

These events are free and open to the public. Information and items on display will include:

• Large print and audio reading books delivered to your home by mail • Free newspaper reading programs • Resources to assist with completing schoolwork • Vocational Rehabilitation Services for retaining or seeking employment • Computer speech programs, CCTV’s and text-to-speech technology • Devices to help with everyday activities -- talking clocks, handheld magnifiers and more

• Tips on how to complete everyday tasks when vision loss makes them difficult

For more information contact Barb Weigel, Iowa Department for the Blind, (319) 231-3059, .

2015 ICUB State Convention

Friday’s Opening Session

The session opened with an invocation by Deb Caldbeck, and greetings from the Des Moines local chapter president, Jo Ann Slayton.

President Cynthia (CIP) Qloud then presented her report.

Iowa Department for the Blind (IDB) IDB issues triggered many of our activities. We maintained a presence, and will continue to do so, at agency Commission Board meetings. We presented our resolutions from the 2014 convention. We spoke out several times on numerous issues.

In an earlier newsletter, we notified you of a new library practice to keep blind Iowans from browsing the library stacks because staff said it was unsafe and not secure for blind people. ICUB’s letter and your letters resulted in the practice being rescinded.

We worked for and achieved the reversal of a decision to spend $200,000 in funds from the IDB Gifts and Bequests Fund to cover costs of departing IDB staff. The money was returned to the fund.

Legislative efforts: Our primary effort during the 2015 legislative session was to have the membership of the Commission increased from three to five members, maintaining a majority of members who were blind, and limiting the representation of any statewide organizations to no more than two of the five seats at any one time. This resolution was first passed in 2014, and was ratified again at the 2015 convention. It appears as Resolution 2015-01 elsewhere in this Bulletin issue.

We were able to get bills in support of the change drafted by members of each House. We lobbied by e-mail, post, and telephone. We testified at a subcommittee hearing on the proposal. We were not successful. But take heart--we will try again!

A second initiative was to lobby for the appointment of Dr. Sandra (Sandy) Tigges, one of our Board members, to the Commission Board. Sandy is most qualified. Again, we did not have success, but not for lack of a concerted effort on ICUB’s part.

On April 1, 2015, we held our first Capitol Day at the Iowa Legislature, sponsored by Iowans with Disabilities in Action (IDAction). Through this same organization we secured funding for transportation for members to attend the event. Fourteen ICUB members gathered. We received a brief tutorial on the legislative process, and we had opportunities to meet and speak with our own Representatives and Senators. The training was both instructive and invigorating. We hope to introduce more ICUB members to the process. So look for a legislative seminar sponsored by ICUB in the fall.

Know, too, that we need your help, input, and action in order to restore IDB to its world class status. We need to know about your experiences and interactions with the agency. We have general knowledge about a decline in service and timeliness of help. We need to have you step forward and document your issues. Unless you are willing to step forward, state your issue, and detail your complaint, corrections or improvements will not happen. If you have legitimate complaints, please, bring them forward. We will work with you toward resolutions to correct and improve inadequate services for all.

ICUB website: Visit our new web site: . Robert Spangler has been working with the site, and is continuing his efforts. Thank you, Robert, for all that you have done to establish and maintain our site. Our next efforts will be focused on use of social media. We will let you know when ICUB has a presence there.

Grants: We applied to Allegra Printing Company, Urbandale, Iowa, for a grant. We $500 in services for brochure and business card printing.

Publicity: ICUB collaborated with Iowa Radio Reading Information Service (IRIS) at a gala celebrating IRIS’s 25th anniversary of service. For 25 years, IRIS volunteer readers have given voice to local newspapers and magazines. IRIS has expanded over that time to a statewide service benefiting most blind Iowans. ICUB member Lisa Davis organized the fundraising element of the gala by planning “Dancing with the Stars.” Lisa trained several blind Iowans and ICUB members for dance numbers and secured the services of her colleagues at the Des Moines Ballroom Studio to partner with the novices. Recognizing the crucial value IRIS to blind Iowans, both the state organization and the local Des Moines chapter were financial sponsors for the gala.

Des Moines Register reporter Michael Morain covered two Des Moines chapter events which educated him and the general public about a positive philosophy of blindness. The first was December 12, when ICUB members rode a bus to tour Jolly Holiday Lights with descriptive audio provided by IRIS volunteers. The second was the descriptive audio movie event mentioned above.

Communication to the ICUB Membership: We published one ICUB Bulletin issue in the past year as well as letters and notices advising you of urgent issues and events. We plan to issue the Bulletin with greater frequency. And we will continue to advise you, in as timely a fashion as we can, of noteworthy events which require your attention and action.

Delegate to ACB Midwinter Conference: The ICUB Board voted to send Robert Spangler to the American Council of the Blind (ACB) midwinter conference in February, 2015, in Washington, D. C. His report is included in this Bulletin.

ACB Report: Ray Campbell represented ACB and participated with us throughout the convention. He reported to our group on many items of interest including the WIOA, an acronym which stands for the Workforce Investment Opportunity Act. This legislation is replacing the long-lived Rehabilitation Act. Federally, rehabilitation of the blind is being taken out of the Department of Education and placed under the Department of Labor. There are numerous issues with the new Act. It requires 15% of money presented to a state to be used for transition services for blind youth, ages 14 and above, without regard to the variations in state populations. There are new requirements which will compel what was formerly two plans, one from IDB and one from the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation focusing on all other “disabled” persons, to be developed and combined as one. Therefore, IDB will not be as autonomous as it has been in the past. The language of the law stresses collaboration which will be challenging and “messy” for all concerned. The agencies are awaiting regulations from the federal government.

Ray also informed us about coming regulations for cable companies which will make their menus and programming accessible to the blind. Soon all such systems will be required to be accessible for blind users.

Prescription drug accessibility is another initiative the ACB has been pursuing. Prescriptions are to be made accessible to blind people. Currently there are a couple of readers, one from En-Vision America, and one developed by Walgreen’s for its own prescriptions.

Two Committees’ appointments were announced. The Audit Committee reviews the financial reports and internal control procedures. Chair Kevin Slayton served with Dan Tigges and Jim Witte.

For the Nominating Committee, Mike Hoenig, First Vice-President, was selected as chair. Carrie Chapman, Carol Flickinger, Gary Patterson, Barb Richmond, and Sandy Tigges served with Mike.

Proposed amendments to the ICUB Constitution: Gary Patterson proposed two amendments to our constitution. The first said that ICUB’s treasurer could decide with which bank our state affiliate would do business. Currently the President and the treasurer must determine and agree upon which bank.

Amendment two, in brief, said that delegates who received significant funding from ICUB to attend major events would have to submit a written report for publication in the ICUB Bulletin no more than three weeks after attending the event in order to be reimbursed. These two amendments were read on Friday evening, as required, in preparation for discussion at the ICUB business meeting on Sunday.

Saturday’s Sessions

Summaries of programs and Council actions follow.

Transportation in Iowa: Issues and Solutions--Panel and discussion (Arlo Monthei, and Lisa Davis, moderators). Topics included use of bus systems, UBER, hiring drivers, taxis, use of friends, family and network contacts to assist us in our transportation. In-town transportation becomes more difficult as community size decreases and as distance from the core of larger communities increases. Suggestions for personal contacts for transportation assistance included getting to know members of church groups or social groups; trading transportation for training/education on topics with which you have skills, e.g., teaching dancing for transportation to the classes.

Adaptive Sports (Mike Boone, Frank Guerra, and John Patterson). This was a discussion of how to get blind people more involved in sports and other physical activity. We also received an update on an Iowa beep ball team, the Iowa Reapers. The Beep Ball World Series will be held in Ames in 2016. Mark your calendars to attend and support the Iowa Reapers which includes a number of ICUB members.

Iowa Radio Reading Information Service for the Blind and Print Handicapped, IRIS (Maryfrances Evans, Executive Director). We were updated on what’s happening at IRIS. Highlights of the past year included acknowledgement of how much ICUB and its members assisted with the 25th anniversary gala and other volunteer appreciation events, and comments on the several local theater and music performances described by IRIS volunteers.

Friends of the Iowa Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (Dave Hammel, Friends’ President, and Sandy Tigges, Friends’ Board member). A major gift from the Friends this past year was the purchase of a 3-D printer for the Library. It is used to create objects to supplement the learning experience for students. Dave brought samples, i.e., replicas of frogs, which were circulated throughout the audience to give us a “feel” for the printer’s capabilities.

One Touch and iPhone Training: What You Need to Know (Carrie Chapman and Lori Trujillo Roush). Carrie and Lori are certified trainers in the One-touch self-defense system that has proven effective for blind persons and in use of Apple iPhones and iPads. They reviewed the training options and benefits. Both women will provide personal training sessions on these topics.

Walgreen’s talking prescription reader (Mike Fuller). Mr. Fuller demonstrated the prescription reader that is available free on all prescriptions filled there. The reader is filled with information specific to the prescription in hand. Audience members offered their personal experience with the readers.

At Saturday’s luncheon, Sarah Willeford, Librarian, Iowa Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, spoke on a 21st century version of the Five Laws of Library Science. Treasurer of the Des Moines Chapter of ICUB, Jim Witte, then presented a check to Sarah to support the Library’s annual Elizabeth Perowsky Volunteer Workshop and Recognition Luncheon. Beth Jordan from the Great Plains Region Office of the Helen Keller National Center also spoke. She informed us about the Center’s programs for deaf-blind citizens, including many Iowans.

Advocacy and Legislation (Dave Price, WHO-TV political reporter). Mr. Price presented observations on how to promote a topic to the media to get media coverage for it. Ideas included: making it compelling, being persistent, and avoiding reliance on press releases which do not stand out among the many that are distributed.

Iowa School for the Blind (Steve Gettel, Superintendent). Steve Gettel, the new superintendent of the Iowa Braille and Sight Saving School, talked to our audience about some of the new programs in North central Iowa for blind youngsters who are able to remain in their homes while attending a public school. He seems to understand that blind children in Iowa need more than just the traditional three R’s. He is working to remove obstacles that create problems for blind youth so that they can learn to be as independent as possible.

Iowa Department for the Blind (Richard Sorey and staff). The Iowa Department for the Blind came well-prepared, and presented a report on the various projects that have occupied them during the past year. A major initiative is a peer support program called Connections. An article on the program appears later in this issue. They are also focusing on offering individual computer training in various areas of the state by appointment. To find out more about these two programs call the IDB, 1-800-362-2587, or visit their web site .


Results of election of officers and board directors: Jeana Mowery was elected to fill the final year of the Treasurer position.

Lisa Davis, Rose Stratton, Arlo Monthei, and Donna Seliger were elected to two-year terms as Board members.

Robert Spangler was elected to fill the remainder of the term for Past President.

Carol Flickinger was elected to fill the remainder of Robert Spangler’s Board member term.

Cynthia Qloud was elected as delegate to the American Council of the Blind (ACB) national convention. Donna Seliger was elected as alternate.

Banquet Highlights

Certificates of appreciation and an award were presented at the banquet:

Julie Bergeson, Independent Living rehabilitation teacher with 18 years’ service, presented by Carrie Chapman, a former student of Julie’s;

Brenda Criswell, vocational rehabilitation counsellor with 36 years’ service, presented by Becky Criswell, Brenda’s colleague for more than 30 years;

Carol Eckey, Instructional Materials Center librarian with 33 years’ service, presented by Catherine Witte, Carol’s former supervisor and colleague for 17 years;

Betty Hansen, deaf-blind specialist with 29 years of service, presented by Carol Flickinger, a client with whom Betty worked as Carol was dealing with both blindness and hearing loss;

Sandy Johnson, vocational rehabilitation counsellor, with 5 years’ service, presented by Mark Edge, a former colleague of Sandy’s;

Tracy Mosman, Orientation Center Braille teacher with 4 years’ service, presented by Mike Harrold, a former student of Tracy’s; and

Laura Williams, Braillist with 14 years’ service, presented by Sandy Tigges, Laura’s former supervisor.

The Linda Dietrich Special Volunteer of the Year Award which is given to someone within the Council for dedication and commitment to improving the lives of blind Iowans and supporting the organization was presented to Jim and Catherine Witte.

Keynote speaker, Ray Campbell, accompanied by his wife, Karyn, then addressed us. Ray, who hails from the Chicago area, gave us a “pep talk!” There is no doubt that the world of blind persons, of work, and of technology are all on fire with change. As an organization, he encouraged us to take hold of what is new rather than fearing or resisting change, and using what is new to help us to grow and strengthen our efforts to advance the quality of life for all blind persons as well as the quality of our organization and its endeavors.

Sunday’s Session

Our Sunday morning session began with our annual memorial service. Jo Slayton officiated and offered some beautiful poems and prayers. We remembered the following individuals:

Larry Cobb - IBSSS alumnus.

John Gillson - retired from the Business Enterprise Program.

Mae Green - retired Library staff member at IDB.

Virgil Hagen - friend of Teri Taylor, and chapter members.

Sandy Harmon - Member of ICUB and of Muscatine Support Group.

Sandy Jacobs - member of ICUB.

Gary Jennings - brother of Marjorie (Jennings) Collins

Bernadette Parcel - member of Cedar Rapids Chapter of ICUB.

Jim Saeugling - IBSSS alumnus.

Clem Sharp - brother of Rose Stratton

Pat Smith - long-time volunteer Braillist and President of The Friends of the Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped.

Teri Taylor - ICUB member, and wife of well-known ICUB member and former Director of IDB, John N. Taylor.

Kate Thorpe - ICUB member.

Dolores Underwood Tjaden - Secretary for many years in the Cedar Rapids office of IDB.

Marvin Price - many of us knew, his being husband of well-known ACB member, Patricia Price.

Business meeting

Secretary’s and Treasurer’s reports were presented and accepted.

Audit Report accounts “were in apple pie order.” They suggested that we have the President write an authorization for each check written against our account to more clearly document our expenditures. We will implement the recommendation.


The following resolutions were passed at the convention:


Subject: Five-member Commission for the Blind.

WHEREAS, for the past 25 years, care has been taken by the two state-wide organizations of the blind—the Iowa Council of the United Blind (ICUB) and the National Federation of the Blind of Iowa (NFBI)--to recommend and support candidates for the three-member Commission for the Blind who are knowledgeable, fair-minded, and members of differing state-wide organizations of the blind; and

WHEREAS, during the past two years, circumstances have changed to the point that all three Commissioners are now members of a single state-wide organization of the blind, the National Federation of the Blind of Iowa; and

WHEREAS, open meeting law requirements are such that it is advisable to have a Commission made up of at least five Commissioners and that these members will represent the interests of all of the blind of Iowa:

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED by the Iowa Council of the United Blind in Convention assembled this 12th day of April 2015, in the city of Des Moines, that the President and Executive Board be instructed, through legislation, to continue to pursue actively a change in the makeup of the Iowa Commission for the Blind, which may include the following elements:

1. A minimum of five members,

2. A requirement that three of the five members be blind,

3. At least one member represent the Iowa Council of the United Blind,

4. At least one member represent the National Federation of the Blind of Iowa,

5. Limit organizational membership to no more than two from any one organization, and

6. The Commission meet all other gender and political requirements established in the Iowa Code; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the President and Executive Board continue to take action to move forward with this endeavor, keeping in mind any other related issues.


SUBJECT: Accessible Mass Transit

WHEREAS, it has long been recognized that blind individuals have an ongoing need for accessible mass transportation of all kinds; and

WHEREAS, it has come to this organization’s attention that it is increasingly more difficult for persons who do not drive to access both buses and trains for travel between cities because of the location and business hours of depots and stations; and

WHEREAS, it has become more commonplace to locate bus depots adjacent to interstate highways or, even when they are located in the central city, to restrict their operational hours to 12 or less, making it difficult for non-drivers to effectively use these modes of transportation; and

WHEREAS, train stations exhibit some of the same problems, as they are few in number and are often located in small communities that cannot be reached by other forms of mass transportation.

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED by The Iowa Council of the United Blind in convention assembled in the city of Des Moines this 12th day of April 2015, that the President of the Iowa Council of the Blind appoint a transportation committee to explore the particular needs of blind Iowans, to recommend priorities for advocacy, and to recommend action steps for the Council and its members to pursue; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that, based on the transportation committee’s recommendations, and with Board approval of same, this organization call upon transportation carriers and governmental bodies to take into account the needs of non-drivers, particularly blind persons, when deciding where to locate depots and stations; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that when these facilities are located in remote areas, alternative arrangements are developed to assist non-driving patrons; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the President and Board of Directors of this organization be instructed to actively pursue the purposes of this resolution.

A third resolution concerning the Aids and Devices store at the Department for the Blind failed. A motion directing the Board to support retention of Aids and Devices at IDB was made and passed.

Unfinished business

The two Constitutional amendments presented on Friday (see Friday Session notes) failed.

A motion was passed to direct the Board to review the travel reimbursement practices and policies and report back at the next convention as to whether this could be handled as policy matter or required a constitutional amendment.

New business

A motion was made and passed to provide $100 worth of auction items for an Iowa prize at the ACB national convention.

Braille Writer Awarded

ICUB board members Mike Hoenig and Rose Stratton presented Kyle Simmons of Delwood, Iowa, with the 2015 Marie Hoenig Memorial Perkins Brailler during a May 5 ceremony at Kyle’s second-grade classroom.

Kyle submitted a one-paragraph essay to the Marie Hoenig Memorial Selection Committee explaining why he should be awarded a Braillewriter. He wrote that he does his homework on a Braillewriter. He also uses a writer to type up notes for a blind friend who is ill.

“Brailling makes me happy,” Kyle said grinning from ear to ear.

“I can tell you that this Braille award is given to a really bright student,” Hoenig said when he presented the writer.

An article covering the ceremony was published in the Maquoketa Sentinel/Press from which some of the above information was used with permission.

ACB Mid-year and Legislative Seminar Report

In February, Robert Spangler attended the ACB Mid-Year Conference and legislative days in Washington, D.C. He traveled through a terrible snow storm, which is an interesting story in itself that we hope to include in a later issue of the Bulletin. Weather delayed his arrival until late in the day so that he missed most of Sunday’s session. A recap of what Robert learned and of his experiences on the hill follows.

Eric Bridges explained, at Monday’s session, how to communicate with our Congressmen and Senators. We discussed Bill 729, a Medicare bill that would provide a demonstration period for funding items which would benefit low vision persons who require items with lenses. Currently such items are excluded from Medicare coverage. We also learned about the Annie Sullivan Macy Act which would address education for people who are blind, visually impaired, deaf or hard of hearing.

Tuesday, I headed to my first meeting, which was with Congressman Blum, where I visited with him about the Medicare bill and the Annie Macy Act. I was well received and staff reviewed the information I presented while I was there. My next meeting was with Congressman Loebsack. Although I did not obtain appointments with everyone, each member of Iowa’s Congressional delegation received a visit from me and written information for aides or staff to review.

My final visit of the day was with Senator Chuck Grassley. His staff was great and well-informed. Senator Grassley himself met and talked over issues with me. Since I was on the Senate side, I looked up Senator Joni Ernst and dropped off information at her office. It was a great experience.

Introducing the Connections Peer Support Social Network

The Iowa Department for the Blind (IDB) would like to invite blind Iowans to participate in Connections, its peer support social network. The purpose is to provide an avenue for blind Iowans to help each other by sharing various kinds of information and expertise.

The Connections peer support social network of the Iowa Department for the Blind (IDB) is a group of blind people who share blindness skills, information, emotional support, and experiences. Connections may be short - or long-term, and may be in-person, by telephone, or through e-mail or social media. The network can be easily used by all parties in a spirit of positive growth and enjoyment of companionship, as it is a resource facilitation program, not a mentoring program.

If you are interested in participating in Connections as a connector, someone willing to share knowledge or expertise through the network, please apply. The application form can be found at Information on the form will be recorded in the confidential Connections database, and will be used to match connectors with connectees. So a connectee can initiate a relationship with you, the connector, we will be sharing only the contact information from your application, such as name, phone number and e-mail address with him or her. To assure the safety of all persons involved in the Connections network, you will receive a letter from us, IDB, detailing a few further steps you must complete before becoming a connector following receipt of your application.

Since you will be working closely with the connectees, one requirement is your consent for an Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI) background check. All network connectors must also sign a Confidentiality Agreement which verifies you accept the obligation to maintain the confidentiality of the people with whom you may be working. Appropriate forms and a free matter envelope addressed to IDB will be enclosed in a letter to you in response to your submitted application. Once you clear the background check, the Connections staff will inform you of your connector status.

The Connections database will be available to Connections staff to aid them in matching connectors with connectees seeking solutions. Information provided will be limited to contact information as noted above. The connectee will have full responsibility for initiating the relationship. We anticipate that, with your help, Connections will succeed and grow. We hope the network will add a vital component to assist and strengthen the blindness community and will provide an additional opportunity for blind people to share knowledge and experiences individually and collectively.

For more information, please contact one of the members of the Connections staff listed below. Rick Dressler, 515-281-1314, Shawn Mayo, 515-281-1313, Keri Osterhaus, 515-281-1281,

Meet the Board

Editors’ Note: This is the first in a series to better get to know our Board of Directors.

“Everybody should be like the little bird who gets pushed out of the nest. Are you listening?”

Clearly, Shirley Wiggins was listening all those many years ago when her father gave her this advice. Since then she has lived a long and productive life advocating for the blind community through career and service. And, she credits a lot of it to her parents and neighbors who treated her like any other child and not like a blind kid who needed special treatment.

Shirley is an 82-year-old advocate for the blind who lives in Cedar Rapids. She has been on the ICUB Board of Directors for longer than she can remember. She was born blind and attended the Braille School in Vinton, but dropped out before graduating. But, true to her life of advocacy and leadership, she returned to obtain her GED. “I wanted my son to appreciate the value of education. So, I felt I had to show him by completing my GED.”

It was at Vinton that she met many of her lifelong friends and had experiences in independence that she is fearful young blind people today are missing. The Braille School students shared so many experiences and had the opportunity to provide support to each other 24 hours a day. Such support not only developed long-term bonds, but also developed a sense of confidence that helped every day for the rest of their lives.

After working in Des Moines in vending, Shirley returned to Cedar Rapids to pursue a career in entertainment. She loves music. She used her knowledge of reading braille music and playing by ear to sing and play the keyboard and accordion while travelling throughout Iowa. Shirley continues to perform for senior groups in and around Cedar Rapids.

Shirley has been a member of ICUB as long as there has been an ICUB. She first got involved when she and others became disenchanted with the direction the NFB and Kenneth Jernigan were taking the educational and training of the blind of Iowa.

While the Cedar Rapids chapter of ICUB is small, it is working hard to attract new members. Shirley also continues to foster blind advocacy by working with a local support group that has around 18 members. She does the planning and organizing of the meetings, including lining up speakers and calling everyone prior to the gatherings. The support group provides members with the opportunity to be around other blind people and share experiences.

Shirley recently moved into a retirement community. She finds opportunities to share how active and independent blind people can be through her interactions with the other residents. She makes presentations to various groups. Through her daily activities, other residents now understand how independent Shirley and all blind persons can be.

As she looks to the future, Shirley is concerned about both older and younger blind people. The older blind are less active in advocacy and more concerned with sharing experiences. This is especially true of people who lose their sight as they age. How can we work with newly blind people to move beyond the personal to advocacy on major issues affecting all blind persons? As for the young, Shirley is concerned about the loss of contact and interaction among them that is missing since the Braille School closed. Are the students getting the social support needed to become fully independent? How can we as ICUB members connect with the younger blind and provide additional support and assistance?

Shirley has lived a life of advocacy and support. She doesn’t show any sign of slowing down or backing down from the challenges that are ahead.

Des Moines Chapter Report

On December 12, the "Fun Committee" of our Chapter went all out and many of us experienced a "party bus" for the first time, traveling around Des Moines with audio description of the Jolly Holiday Lights provided by IRIS volunteers while enjoying a myriad of snacks and libations. I should note that not only did our members enjoy touring the Jolly Holiday Lights, but we were able to donate to a most worthwhile cause, Make-A-Wish Foundation.

December 13, found members and friends attending the brand new Flix Brewhouse at Merle Hay Mall. We were able to sample the theater's wide variety of choices from its restaurant menu, while having the Lorax movie audio described. The Saturday matinee was an awesome event--we're planning another outing to Flix Brewhouse this summer.

Mr. Rik Shannon from IDAction presented to our group in January. He gave us valuable information about working with the Iowa legislature, and informed us about IDAction's website, a resource for information on noteworthy legislation. His presentation planted the seed for an ICUB Legislative Day at the Capitol.

Members participated in the Braille Challenge February 7th. We gave financial support, and gave each participants in the Braille Challenge print/Braille Valentines with conversation hearts and other candies, plus an invitation to our 2015 Conference and Convention.

We made a team effort for the Community Days at area Younkers stores on February 27 and, raising about $300 for the chapter.

In March, Director Sorey addressed us regarding WIOA, and its effects on blind Iowans. There is much still to be determined regarding the new law. We began preparations to host the 2015 ICUB Conference and Convention on April 10-12.

In April we firmed up convention assignments and discussed the positive results of the ICUB Legislative Day at the Capitol. We also learned how UBER works using a smart phone, thanks to Carrie Chapman. Applications for free directory assistance from three major phone companies were also distributed.

On May 11, Ms. Ellye Kovner, Mobility Coordinator for the Des Moines Area Regional Transit (DART) Company, will speak to us.

We currently have around 45 members in our chapter, and are continuing to grow. We're fortunate to have our own ICUB State President, CIP Qloud, in the Des Moines Chapter.

Jo Ann Slayton, President, Des Moines Chapter, ICUB

Des Moines Chapter Annual Picnic

The Des Moines chapter cordially invites you to join us at our annual picnic on August 15. Please bring a side dish or dessert and $2.00 per person to cover the cost of Hy-Vee’s yummy fried chicken. We will enjoy each other’s company, a great meal, and some spirited summer games. The picnic will be at the American Legion Park at the corner of Fourth and Vine Streets in Wes Des Moines. Please make your reservation with Cynthia Qloud no later than July 31. Call her at 515-266-5110 or e-mail her at .

Copyright 2015 Iowa Council for United Blind, Inc.

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