Published by the
IOWA COUNCIL OF THE UNITED BLIND
Web Site: www.icublind.org
An Affiliate of the American Council of the Blind
Cynthia Qloud, President
1918 E. 12th St.
Des Moines, IA 50316
Norma A. Boge, Co-Editor
2324 Riverwoods Ave.
Des Moines, IA 50320-2808
Don Wirth, Co-Editor
921 – 9th St., #208
Ames, IA 50010
The ICUB Bulletin is available in large print, via email, and on an NLS-compliant digital audio cartridge. To subscribe to the cartridge edition, please contact the Iowa Department for the Blind Library at 515-281-1368 or in Iowa 800-362-2587, ext. 1-1368. Please direct other questions about format and address changes to Co-Editor Norma A. Boge.
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 may have your attorney call (515) 279-4284, or write Iowa Council of the United Blind, 4013 30TH Street, Des Moines, IA 50310.
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 claim a tax deduction equal to the dollar value of the vehicle. Call 800-899-4925 for more information.
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 be the charity of choice each time you shop at
smile.amazon.com. 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 smile.amazon.com to make your purchases. Happy shopping!
by Carrie Chapman, Acting President
As many of you know, this last April our President, Cynthia “Cip” Qloud, suffered a stroke. Cip is currently at Mercy Hospital in Des Moines. Please continue to keep her in your thoughts and prayers.
To give you a quick update, in April we had our state convention. Approximately 50 people registered. Members and their guests enjoyed topics such as voting, transportation and fitness. In the evening, friends gathered for food and fellowship in the banquet hall. Attendees finished off the night by participating in the annual auction.
The ACB national convention was held July 1st through the 9th in Minneapolis. This year ICUB was able to award five scholarships to its members. We look forward to hearing all about their experiences.
Moving forward, we are looking into updating our website and getting us more involved in social media.
We are also in the beginning stages of starting an at-large group. This will be another great way for our members to stay connected and be involved!
If you have an idea or would like to participate in any way please let me or a board member know.
Over the next few months, I hope to do my best to represent & serve the organization. To let you know a little about me, I play beep baseball for the Iowa Reapers. Off the field, I’m an active member in my community. I serve on the board of the Friends of the Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped. I am the co-founder of The White Cane Community, a Facebook resource page, and I was instrumental in the startup of two support groups in my area. I helped in the formation of Connections, a mentoring program through the Iowa Department for the Blind, and most recently, in my spare time, I have taken up ballroom dancing.
I look forward to working with all of you. If you have any thoughts, questions or concerns please feel free to contact me at 515-657-1461 or email@example.com.
I wish all of you a safe and happy summer!
State Convention Highlights
by Catherine Witte, Secretary
Convention chatter—that’s one of the great things about the Iowa Council of the United Blind Annual State Conference and Convention. The presentations, the presence of so many members, and the enthusiasm lead to much good conversation.
Yes, the traditions of the Convention were part of the 2016 version. Reports from the Department for the Blind (IDB), the Iowa School for the Blind, the Friends of the Library and the Iowa Radio Reading Information Service brought us up to date.
Starting a new tradition, Tyler Juranek and J.R. Swank oversaw the streaming of convention proceedings through the American Council of the Blind (ACB) radio. We hope this afforded armchair attendance via listening to some members. We intend to continue streaming of events in the future.
Other content this year was unique. We learned about the latest television entertainment options such as Apple TV and Netflix from IDB staff member Marci Duty. Jeremy Johnson-Miller, Mobility Manager from the Iowa Department of Transportation, and Arlo Monthei oversaw a lively discussion of the needs of blind Iowans in this area. Dawn Williams, State Elections Director, Office of the Secretary of State, made an accessible voting machine available throughout Friday and Saturday. She, together with Cynthia Qloud and Sandy Tigges, presented information on the options that should be available to all voters, including those of us who happen to be blind. Jeff Bishop, who represented ACB this year, updated us on national concerns and his area of expertise, technology.
And toward the end of a day of sitting and listening, Bettina Dolinsek shared with us her story of changing from couch potato to a certified CrossFit Trainer! We were inspired!!
Our banquet was well-attended and rewarding. Earlier in the day, Mike Hoenig announced that the Marie Hoenig Memorial Perkins Brailler Award had been presented to second-grader Kayla Bartholomew of Dexter, Iowa. (See feature article later in this issue.) At the banquet itself, several persons who had served blind Iowans well throughout their careers at IDB were given distinguished service awards in appreciation. Honorees included Dave Coulson, David Lenz, Larry Sidwell, Gail Stricker, Rosie Thierer, Vivian Ver Huel, and Barb Weigel. Ed Sheppard, a long-tenured member of the Council, as well as a former IDB counselor and supervisor, was recognized with the Linda Dietrich Award. Both Jeff Bishop of ACB and our own Mike Hoenig spoke to those gathered. Mike’s keynote speech was stirring and is summarized elsewhere in the Bulletin. The results of elections, the actions at the business meeting, and the resolutions passed at that meeting are summarized in this issue as well.
Each year, Council members work to plan a Convention that informs, educates, entertains, and inspires. ICUB’s 2016 State Convention met all of those expectations. And right away, we begin to work on elements of 2017’s gathering. If you have comments, ideas or suggestions that would contribute to an energizing Convention next year, please share them with any one of the Board members or a Chapter President.
Summary of State Convention Elections and Business Meeting
by Catherine Witte, Secretary
Elections were held during the third session of the Convention. A slate of proposed officers and board members was presented by the Nominating Committee and accepted. Officers and Board members elected include: President Cynthia Qloud (Des Moines), First Vice President Sandy Tigges (Des Moines), Second Vice President Mike Hoenig (Davenport), Treasurer Jeana Mowery (Nevada), Secretary Catherine Witte (Waukee), Board members Carrie Chapman (Altoona,), Carol Flickinger (Rockwell City), Tyler Juranek (Council Bluffs), and Linda Manders (Dubuque).
President CIP Qloud presided over the meeting which was conducted on Sunday, April 24, 2016. Thirty members were in attendance.
1. To suspend reading of the minutes of the 2015 State Convention Business meeting.
2. To distribute board meeting minutes more widely. Full minutes will be posted to www.icublind.org. Summaries will be published in the Bulletin along with information about how to obtain the full document.
3. To accept the Treasurer’s report as presented: The report showed total assets, as of April 20, 2016, of $79,553.75, after year-long income of $7,894.28, with expenses of $6,733.90, resulting in a net income of $1,160.38.
4. To review and evaluate our current website and make recommendations for change or improvement and authorization of use of up to $500.00 to pursue professional assistance with development of the site.
5. Resolutions for consideration. Each one was moved, seconded and approved. They include:
a. That the President and Executive Board be instructed to continue to pursue actively a change in the makeup of the Iowa Commission for the Blind through legislation which will assure a broader representation of blind Iowans.
b. That this organization express its appreciation for Representative Rob Taylor’s efforts and his willingness to work with and for blind Iowans toward passage of House File 235, a bill to change the makeup of the Commission as noted in the first resolution.
c. Calls upon the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to continue to move the home entertainment industry forward toward making all navigation devices for cable and satellite services accessible.
d. Calls upon the organization to expand the role of the Transportation Committee to serve as advocates for blind Iowans on transportation issues including placing transit stations at accessible locations, developing transportation alternatives where none exist, ensuring stations and depots are open at all times, and provision of transportation information and schedules in accessible formats.
6. To accept the Audit Committee report which found the Council’s finances and records to be in order.
7. To authorize use of up to $1,500.00 of State Council funds to support attendance of delegate Cynthia Qloud to the American Council of the Blind National Convention.
No motions or resolutions were presented that were not passed.
The meeting adjourned at approximately 12:15 P.M.
Please note: A complete set of minutes is posted on our website, www.icublind.org . If you need a full set by e-mail or in print, please contact Catherine Witte by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by telephone at 515-987-4490. Thank you.
It’s All About the Living
by Mike Hoenig
Two months before the 2016 ICUB convention, I received a surprising, flattering request from President Cip Qloud, “Will you give the banquet speech this year?”
I felt a deep sense of honor, combined with a deep concern about whether I was the “right guy” for the job. After all, the room would be filled with many of my mentors, including Cip. The ACB rep, who typically is charged with delivering the banquet address, would also be there. “Wouldn’t someone else be more suited for the job?” I asked Cip. By now you can guess that her one-word response was, “No.” And who was I to question Cip. If she thought I had something valuable to say, then I’d better start figuring out what that was.
As Convention approached, it became clear that I should talk about the people and experiences which helped me understand that “It’s all about the living.” Once I’d settled on the theme, the sequence of what I wanted to share came naturally. First came the valuable lessons I learned from mentors like Bob Stratton, who taught me that blind people could be president of an organization, and Cip Qloud, who taught me that making biscuits which looked more like hockey pucks was not the end of the world. I shared some valuable lessons learned through hard knocks at the Orientation Center, explaining that no one came to the rescue when I put two bottoms of cheeseburgers together at Coney island and then complained that my second “burger” was nothing more than two buns and veggies. I recounted the endless mistakes I made during the “travel lesson from hell” in downtown Des Moines, and the liberating message which instructor Rosie Thierer shared afterward, “It wasn’t a bad lesson if you learned something.” I explained that Rosie’s message turned on a light bulb for me, as I suddenly realized that part of being a successful blind guy was making mistakes and learning from them. I concluded with some practical examples of how that realization has led to success in my own personal journey, and some suggestions for responding to the challenges which vision loss brings.
Delivering the banquet address was one of those once-in-a-lifetime opportunities which I will always cherish. It forced me to challenge and overcome the self-doubt which I thought I’d shed years ago. Thank you, Cip, and thank you, ICUB, for allowing me to grow and to share my experiences with you.
Thank You, Outgoing Board Members
by Don Worth
During this year’s annual convention three board members completed service on the Board of Directors. At the annual banquet President Cynthia Qloud acknowledged and thanked them for their years of service.
The three members are Creig Slaton, Des Moines; Shirley Wiggins, Cedar Rapids; and Joyce Davis, Fort Dodge.
We would also like to thank them for the work they performed for ICUB and all our members. It is the dedicated work of members serving on the board that provides the leadership to further the efforts of ICUB.
Compiled by Jo Ann Slayton
The following people were remembered by ICUB at the April 24, 2016 Memorial service:
Randy Carney, son of Milly Carney
Kenneth Chapman, husband of member Carrie Chapman
Louis Collins, husband of Marjorie (Jennings) Collins
Jacquie Cummings, former IDB staff and friend
Dick Glaza, brother of Jim Glaza, and friend
Gene Haverland, husband of member Violet Haverland
Charles Hodge, held various ACB offices over the years
Mary Keener, IBSSS alumnus and friend
Robert Martin, former member Commission for the Blind and member
Roland Saeugling, IBSSS alumnus, father of Becky Dunkerson, and friend
Pat Scholl, former Treasurer and friend
Debra Sharp, niece of Rose Stratton
Dolores Sharp, sister-in-law of Rose Stratton
Carl Shawhan, former IDB staff and friend
Chuck Stockstill, husband of Lynn (Curtis) Stockstill, and friend
Harlan Watson, retired from DVRS, volunteer narrator of IDB
Lyle Williams, IBSSS alumnus and longtime member
Norman Winter, IBSSS alumnus and friend
Summary of May ICUB State Board Meeting
by Catherine Witte, Secretary
Sandy Tigges, First Vice President of the Board, convened the meeting. Board members and Chapter Presidents were in attendance. As agreed during the 2016 State Convention, Chapter Presidents may attend and participate in Board meetings. Only Board members will act or vote on motions.
Neither the First nor Second Vice Presidents are able to serve as interim President during CIP Qloud’s illness. It was agreed that a Board member should be identified who could fill the position. Carrie Chapman agreed to serve.
1. It was moved and seconded that Carrie Chapman be elected to serve as interim President. Motion carried.
No other motions were made.
Discussion of how to distribute a $5,000 grant from the Des Moines Chapter for outreach followed. It was determined up to $4,000 would be allowed for scholarships to attend the 2016 American Council of the Blind national convention. The remainder will be used for ICUB participation in vision fairs or other events. Requirements for scholarship applications were determined.
Changes on letterhead and within the text of the brochure were discussed and will be made as needed. For the time being, ICUB’s mailing address, for items other than treasury business, will be Catherine Witte’s residence, 200 Parkview Dr., Waukee, IA 50263.
The meeting adjourned at approximately 8:45 P.M.
Please note: A complete set of minutes is posted on our website, www.icublind.org . If you need a full set by e-mail or in print, please contact Catherine Witte by e-mail at email@example.com or by telephone at 515-987-4490. Thank you.
Student succeeds in braille at Southeast Polk
by Jonathan Krueger
Originally published in the Des Moines Register, May 3, 2016. Used with permission of Jonathan Krueger and the Altoona Herald-Index.
Learning to read is tough enough.
Learning to read when you can't see, adds a new level of challenges.
But Kayla Bartholomew, a second-grader at Willowbrook Elementary, continues to surpass expectations.
Bartholomew was born with only a few hundred optic nerves while the average person has a couple million. While she can't see, she has continued to thrive in her classwork.
'She doesn't let being blind keep her down,' said her mother, Natasha Stucker. 'She doesn't let anything hold her back.
At the age of 8, Bartholomew has exceeded what many other visually impaired people struggle with, learning braille, the writing system used for blind individuals. It consists of a six dot system that represents letters, words and even contractions.
'I read statistics about the literacy rate of blind and visually impaired people and only around 10 percent can read braille,' Stucker said.
Bartholomew started reading in braille when she was 3 and enrolled in preschool. She picked it up quickly and now reads at a higher proficiency in braille than most sighted kids read print in her grade at school.
'It is not hard to learn braille,' Bartholomew said.
Bartholomew just won a new brailler, a tool used to write in braille, for an essay she wrote about why she needed the tool.
'Southeast Polk has been an amazing support system for us,' Stucker said.
'They started her off as early as possible just so she didn't fall behind.
They wanted to start her off early so she is very proficient with her braille.
Bartholomew is autistic as well as blind. Fixating on her brailler and her BrailleNote has helped her excel.
'I think she is a joy. She always has a smile on her face,' said Willowbrook Elementary principal, Robin Norris. 'Even though she might not be able to see the same things, she understands what is going on and what is being said.
Associate Amanda White and special education teacher Marissa Fickbohm work with Bartholomew at Willowbrook, along with Kim Stocks, a teacher for the visually impaired.
Teachers have had to come up with creative ways to teach her about things she cannot see.
In science during a lesson on weather, the teacher used cotton balls to represent clouds and dipped them in water to represent the rain.
'We try to meet every students needs as best as we can and provide the accommodations where they need to be made,' Norris said.
Despite how much her family appreciates what Southeast Polk has done to help with Bartholomew, next fall she will move to the West Central Valley school district. Her family now lives in Dexter.
'Right now I didn't want to rush moving her into a new school district,'
Stucker said. 'I have been transporting her every day so we could give West Central Valley time to prepare for Kayla and I didn't want to pull her out of the school district quite yet. This is the only place that she has gone to school and we are kind of scared to move.
Prairie Meadows Grant Awarded to ICUB
by Sandy Tigges and Carrie Chapman
As many of you may know, in January the Iowa Council of the United Blind applied for a $22,293.63 Community Betterment grant from Prairie Meadows. In June, we were notified that we were awarded $5,000 for our proposed project, Voting Is for Everyone. Although we did not receive our full request, this amount, combined with the $1,500 authorized by the ICUB board, will help us achieve at least part of the project’s goal.
The goal of Voting Is for Everyone is to ensure that Iowa’s blind and severely visually impaired citizens have the opportunity to participate fully in the state’s voting process. We know that citizens who vote are more apt to participate in their communities and are more likely to be listened to by their elected officials. We also know that blind and visually impaired citizens often face barriers to voting, both in accessing the voting process and in gathering current information about the issues and candidates that will allow them to make informed decisions. Through this project, participants will learn about the voting process in Iowa and how to access it using blindness and low vision techniques. We will be available to make presentations in your local communities. We will also be able to provide you with information about voting through large print and digital cartridges, the ICUB website, the Iowa Department for the Blind Library, and IRIS broadcasts. In addition, we will make our assistance available to individuals who have more questions or need help advocating for themselves.
Unfortunately, the smaller grant amount forced us to eliminate the direct iPhone training we had hoped to provide in order to help individuals learn how to use its assistive technology features to access the information essential for becoming an informed voter. Instead, we will include with the voter information an annotated list of speech-accessible apps and websites that can help you make informed decisions about voting. We will also include a list of tutorials you can use to learn how to access the iPhone, Facebook, and Twitter with VoiceOver.
Please contact us if you would like us to make a presentation about voting to one of your groups. We would also like to hear from you if you have a good story about a voting experience or if you have a favorite app or website you would like to share with others. Let us know, too, if you need some help sorting out a problem you may have had dealing with the voting process. You can reach Sandy Tigges, the Project Director, at 515-277-1256 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can reach Carrie Chapman, ICUB President, at 515-657-1461 or at email@example.com.
We’ll keep you posted as more information about the project becomes available. We also wish to thank Prairie Meadows for their generous gift in support of these efforts.
Stepping Outside My Comfort Zone
by Lori Trujillo Roush
(Editor’s Note: Below is a story by an ICUB member who pushed herself beyond what she thought she was capable of as a blind person. The result was a memorable experience. After reading it, let us know of an experience that pushed you out of your comfort zone and what you learned from it. We would like to start a regular column of these stories. You can either write it and send to the editors or contact Don Wirth and he will take down your story. Enjoy Lori’s story and share one of your own.)
When Cynthia “Cip” Qloud asked me if I was interested in going with her to an ACB legislative conference in Washington D.C., she tried to sell me by saying, "It'll be great! While I'm in meetings, you can take the subway and explore the city. Maybe take in a museum or try some new food. And there'll be all kinds of people you can meet!" It sounded fun, but I was a bit hesitant. Partially because flying in the wintertime has never really appealed to me (long layovers in subzero temperatures, cancelled flights, icy wings, et cetera) and also in part because, even though I've been at this for a little while now, I'm still the person who finds herself saying, "How am I going to do all this?" However, I had the perfect answer: a tour guide. I decided I would go despite my hesitation and that I would book a tour for us. They would pick us up right at the hotel, take us around, tell us what we were looking at, and then drop us back off at the hotel when we were done. Want to sample new and interesting food? Not a problem - food tour. Want to meet new people? There are people on tours. I have to say, I was pretty impressed with myself.
I enthusiastically called Cip with my idea, but to my dismay she was a little less enthused. She said I didn't need to do that. She said I could just get an UBER to the museum and once inside, ask for the information desk and request a tour. If I wanted to go to the National Mall, I could just ask for directions. She said there would be plenty of people around to ask about the monuments and nearby restaurants. I had known these were options, but at times I am still that person who wants to get from point A to point B without too many obstacles.
So here is what happened. I did my best to help find us a tour guide. It seemed as though we had one lined up, and then the hotel concierge gave us the bad news that our plans had fallen through. We were faced with the decision of spending more of our day trying to find a tour guide, just staying around the hotel or coming up with a new solution. So we decided to follow Cip's suggestion, and bravely took an UBER to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. Once there, we asked for directions to the information desk where we requested a tour. The woman behind the desk stated that there were no tours available at that time but that she could step away for about 10-15 minutes to help show us around. She also was blind, and as she took us through the museum, she described in great detail the exhibits and the horrific events that had taken place. About 40 minutes later, we found our way to the theater where we parted ways with our guide. There we sat in silence, listening to survivors tell their personal stories. We eventually made our way out through the museum and back onto the street. Along the way, we found a cafe for lunch, and each of us tried knish for the first time. Afterwards, we spent the rest of the day walking around the National Mall. It was the end of February and sixty degrees and perfect for wandering the trails, stopping every once in a while to take a photo or two with Tap Tap See. When we were unsure of directions, we just asked a passerby. On one of these occasions, we struck up a conversation with a couple who was also visiting the area. They joined us at the Vietnam Memorial where we felt along the tapered walls and ran our fingers across the names of the over 58,000 U.S. service members who had given their lives. We finished our afternoon walking down Canal Street and climbing the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. I wish I could better describe what it felt like to be in the center of the monument, to feel the Gettysburg Address inscribed on the interior wall, to walk between the large Greek-style columns, and to imagine the view of the cherry blossom trees that would be in full bloom in just a few weeks. This was a perfect ending to a perfect day that never would have happened without good friends, sage advice, and just a touch of bravery.
Meet the Board – Sandy Tigges
by Don Worth
Alice French has been very important to Sandy Tigges.
The original Alice French was an author writing under the name Octave Thanet while living in Sandy’s home town of Davenport, Iowa. French wrote in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s before her death in 1934. Needless to say Sandy never met her. However, Sandy did get to know her very well while working on a dissertation for her PhD in English at the University of Iowa. French continues to impact Sandy today, but more on that later.
Sandy grew up in Davenport graduating from Assumption High School. Along the way she spent a year at the Vinton School for the blind and a summer at the IDB Orientation Center. After graduation, she returned to the orientation center where she met her future husband. After the Orientation Center, the Tigges moved to Iowa City to work on their degrees.
With her relationship with Ms. French in full bloom and the PhD in hand, Sandy spent the next 14 years teaching English at the U of I, St Ambrose College and Augustana College.
After teaching that long at college, it was time for change. Sandy obtained a job at the IDB as VR counselor. From there she moved on to become the Director of the Orientation Center. She was also the Director of Maintenance even though, as she says, she can’t tell a Phillips from a flat head screw driver. She retired 2 years ago.
When visiting with her, she shared some of her favorite stories of working for the IDB. Included was the Orientation on the Road week long seminars held at the state park at Lake Rathbun. A group of 10-12 students were brought to the park cabins for short course seminars on technology, braille, navigation, cooking and basic life skills. Most of these students were recently blind and were wrestling with the transition from sight to blindness. The classes offered them the opportunity to interact with other blind individuals for the first time. It gave them the chance to see that they were not alone.
Another experience Sandy shared was the time the Des Moines University students spent at the IDB. They would attend classes at the department like blind students, including the workshop. Sandy and the workshop teachers developed a special project for the DMU students to show what it was like to work the power tools without sight. The students would make a stand for a desktop pen holder without being told what the project was. The object was to give the students the experience so they could better relate to members of the blind community.
Like her work experience, Sandy sees involvement in ICUB in much the same way. ICUB offers members the opportunity to interact with other blind people. It’s a place where we can find positive, supportive interaction as a respite from the day to day activities with sighted people who don’t understand our issues.
Sandy joined ICUB in 1980. During the time with ICUB she sees her strengths in dealing with the behind the scenes activities such as editing documents, dealing with the bureaucratic issues and participating in the legislative efforts.
Now that she is retired, Sandy is sharing more of her skills by working on the ICUB board. She is also spending more time with Alice French. Not the author but the present day incarnation – her cat. The current Alice is 17 years old. She has been Sandy’s and husband Dan’s companion for most of those 17 years. When looking for a name, Sandy decided she already had a long relationship with Alice French. The new cat would continue that relationship in a more feline way.
Letters to the Editor
(Editor’s Note: the following two letters were originally printed in the Des Moines Register
Iowa Commission for the Blind needs new leadership
by Jo Ann Slayton
June 4, 2016
Although I followed the required criteria, I was denied the opportunity to read a statement at the May 7 meeting of the Iowa Commission for the Blind, the three-member policy-making board of the Iowa Department for the Blind (IDB). I believe the Commissioners realized my comments would be critical of their past behavior, especially with the resignation of Director Richard Sorey.
Blind myself, I worry about the Commissioners’ ability to hire a new director when they supported Director Sorey’s systematic dismantling of what was once a world-class agency. Both the Commissioners and Director have been poor stewards of IDB resources. Unable to manage the budget, they withdrew $305,000 From the Gifts and Bequests Fund, intended to aid needy blind Iowans. Agency programs suffer from the departure of nearly 50% of an outstanding staff over the past three years. Commissioners have repeatedly made offensive and perhaps illegal remarks about whether the IDB should serve blind Iowans with multiple disabilities.
The Commissioners must resign. Governor Branstad must appoint new ones who truly represent blind Iowans and who will hire a qualified director, restore the Department’s core values, properly manage all agency resources, and obey federal laws integral to agency funding and management.
Commission structure is outdated
by Richard Sorey, Des Moines
June 12, 2016
I concluded my tenure as director of the Iowa Department for the Blind on June 2 and am responding to the letter "Iowa Commission for the Blind needs new leadership" [June 5].
When I arrived in June of 2012, it was necessary to implement many changes to ensure that the agency was operating in accordance with federal regulations and enhance the service delivery model for blind Iowans. Some employees were not interested in changing, especially those who had worked for the agency for many years. Those who retired or changed jobs were replaced with well educated, qualified employees.
It has been a common practice for the agency to use Gifts and Bequests funds to address budget shortfalls, as evidenced by the fact that Gifts and Bequests dollars have been used on four occasions since 2003. Gifts and Bequests funds were used in 2016 to maintain level funding for the program that provides services for elderly, blind Iowans. The governor could not recommend a budget increase due to the poor economic outlook, so Gifts and Bequests dollars were used to address rising operating costs and cover the increase in wages for employees required by union contract. Interestingly enough, the author of the previously published letter is the president of the local chapter of a consumer group that didn't support the agency's request for a budget increase. During the March 22 commission meeting, the commissioners showed contempt for the federal law and expressed reluctance to serve clients with severe disabilities in addition to blindness, due to a lack of understanding and concerns about the increased cost. The commission structure is outdated and should be replaced with a State Rehabilitation Council that promotes diversity and will ensure that all blind Iowans receive the services they need to achieve gainful employment and live independently.
Des Moines Chapter Report
by Jo Ann Slayton
Oh, what a beautiful morning, as we begin the Fourth of July weekend, and we have members traveling to participate in the ACB National Conference and Convention in Minneapolis. Earlier this year, The Des Moines Chapter granted $5,000 to the ICUB to assist members attending the ACB National Convention, and to aid in membership development.
On February 13, several members traveled to Vinton for the annual holiday luncheon, which had been rescheduled from November. Our March meeting featured Peggy Wharton, Elder Rights Specialist of Aging Resources of Central Iowa. Accompanying Ms. Wharton was her brother, Don Paul, an alumnus of IBSSS and retired public school teacher, which was a pleasant surprise for those of us knowing Don. In May, Phil Simmons, Program Director-Urban Missions, Wellmark YMCA presented an overview of services available through the various facilities of the YMCA of Greater Des Moines.
Our April meeting had us finalizing plans for Des Moines hosting the Annual ICUB Conference and Convention held April 22-24. What a wonderful convention it was, and members came away with good information gained throughout the sessions and having had an accessible voting machine present to get hands-on experience. Thanks to Tyler Juranek for streaming the convention - I know of several members who listened to the sessions. Innovative ideas were incorporated into the programming of State Convention this year, mainly due to President CIP Qloud's vision.
Chapter members helped with the Perowsky Volunteer Workshop and The Friends of the Library Annual Mini-treasure Sale April 22. Additionally, our chapter provided financial assistance for the luncheon.
April 14 found members attending an IRIS Gala at Prairie Meadows, with some of our members dancing in the gala, and others cheering on the dancers. Thanks to Lisa Davis for her hours of dance instruction to members participating in this IRIS fundraiser.
Items discussed during our May meeting included a possible new fundraiser, Commission meetings, and Des Moines Area Regional Transit (DART) bus stops at 2 local malls. We authorized $300 for the Iowa Reapers Beep baseball team and finalized plans for members to attend a Passenger Transportation Summit May 12 in Marshalltown.
In June Cody Dolinsek, Adjunct Instructor in philosophy and religion at Drake University and Member Rep 2 for Nationwide gave an informative overview of his education and employment experiences. Julie Aufdenkamp, Transition Vocational Rehab Specialist for IDB discussed a new LEAP Program for transition students currently being held at the IDB. Members are planning to meet with students July 20 for an evening of fun with a focus on voting; we'll get acquainted over pizza and goodies, and discuss the importance of advocacy and talk about ICUB. Members are planning on attending the Beep Baseball World Series in Ames on July 28, as we have a few members who will be playing in the games all week long - GO REAPERS!! Finally, be sure to mark your calendar September 10, at noon to 4:00 for our annual Des Moines Chapter Picnic, being held at Legion Park in West Des Moines.
I will note here how much we miss having our ICUB President, Cynthia (CIP) Qloud at our meetings in May and June, following a stroke she had April 27. We've been very appreciative and excited about CIP's leadership of ICUB over the past couple of years, and our thoughts and prayers are with her as she continues her recovery. Thanks to Carrie Chapman for stepping up to the plate and assuming the position of Acting President during this time.
The Des Moines Chapter meetings are held the second Monday of each month, with the exceptions of July and December. The time is 5:30 p.m. in the Director's Conference Room at the Iowa Department for the Blind. You are welcome to come and meet with us. Enjoy the remainder of this beautiful summer!
Dubuque Chapter Report
The Dubuque Association of the Blind had a good crowd and nice weather at its picnic on Sunday, June 4. Held at the Soggy Bottom Up Campground in Cassville, Wisconsin, members and friends enjoyed playing games, taking ATV rides and a nice potluck meal. Lions Club members handled grilling responsibilities and a very nice time was had by all. The chapter is making plans to attend concerts in the Dubuque Arboretum which are held on Sunday nights during the summer. Coupon books for Younkers Community Days were sold as a fundraiser for the chapter. Chapter President Violet Haverland and Linda Manders are looking forward to attending the ACB Conference and Convention in Minneapolis the first part of July.
Be sure to note October 8 on your calendars for this year’s annual banquet. Last year’s banquet was very well attended and created quite a buzz, so don’t miss the fun this year!
For more information on the Dubuque Association of the Blind, please call President violet Haverland at 563-543-4777.
Bookshelf Instructions for Talking Book Cartridges
(For multiple books on a cartridge)
Step 1: Press and hold down the large square green center play/stop button until you hear it beep and announces bookshelf, release immediately.
Step 2: Press, but don’t hold, the ff (fast forward) button to the right of the play button to scroll through the book titles. Press the rw (rewind) button to the left of the play button to go back the other direction.
Step 3: When you hear the book title you want to read, press the play button to select it.
**if you hold the fast forward or rewind buttons down too long, it will take you to the end or beginning of the cartridge.
News You Can Use
The annual IRIS Ice Cream Social will be held Thursday, August 25. Please come from 3:30 to 5pm at the IRIS Studios – lower level of the park fair mall, 2nd & Euclid, Des Moines. Join us for a sweet afternoon celebrating our fantastic volunteers!
ICUB Officers and Directors
Cynthia Qloud, President
1918 E. 12th St.
Des Moines, IA 50316
Robert Spangler, Immediate Past President -
Sandy Tigges, First Vice-President
Mike Hoenig, Second Vice President
Catherine Witte, Secretary
200 Parkview Dr.
Waukee, IA 50263
Jeana Mowery, Treasurer
68306 180th St.
Nevada, IA 50201
Carrie Chapman, Director - Altoona, (515) 657-1461
Donna Seliger, Director – West Des Moines, (515) 284-0505
Arlo Monthei, Director –Des Moines, (515) 277-0442
Rose Stratton, Director - Maquoketa, (563) 652-2546
Lisa Davis, Director – Urbandale, (515) 278-2722
Carol Flickinger, Director – Rockwell City, (712) 887-1109
Tyler Juranek, Director - Council Bluffs, (402) 594-5384
Linda Manders, Director - Dubuque, (563) 590-3887
Copyright 2016 Iowa Council of the United Blind, Inc.