ICUB BULLETIN Summer 2022 Published by the IOWA COUNCIL OF THE UNITED BLIND An American Council of the Blind Affiliate Website: www.icublind.org Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Iowa-Council-of-the-United-Blind-183367918760610/ Carrie Chapman, President 304 W. Cedar St. Goldfield, IA 50542 866-436-0141 E-mail: email@example.com Don Wirth, Co-Editor 921 9th St., #208 Ames, IA 50010 515-451-3779 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Sandy Tigges, Co-Editor 2904 34th St. Des Moines, IA 50310 515-277-1256 E-mail: email@example.com
Table of Contents
President’s Report 3 Serving as a Blind Juror 5 New and Exciting Fundraiser to Launch at ACB Omaha Convention 10 Shopping to Benefit ICUB 11 Self-Week Social Discovery Experience 12 Meet the Board: Liz Soenen 14 ACB Awards 16 Donating Your Vehicle to Benefit ICUB 17 Those We Have Lost: James Omvig 18 News You Can Use 20 Air Fryer Pork Chops 23 Selecting ICUB as a Beneficiary 24 Iowa Department for the Blind Report 24 At-Large Chapter Report 26 Des Moines Chapter Report 27
Dear ICUB Members & Friends, The American Council of the Blind National Conference and Convention is right around the corner. Norma Boge has agreed to represent ICUB as our delegate, and Don Wirth has agreed to be both our alternate and our representative on the ACB Nominating Committee. We have been hosting conference calls to provide our members with information about the convention. ACB Convention Coordinator, Janet Dickelman, joined us on our first call to talk about speakers, breakout sessions, and tours. Our second call was regarding transportation. We plan on having one more call at the end of June. I have also created an email group for those attending the convention so they can stay connected. If you plan on attending and would like to be added to this email group, please let me know. Since our last Bulletin, we have participated in a Spring Family Conference, new Staff Training at the Iowa Department for the Blind (IDB), a dinner for IDB clients 55 and older, and a low vision support group. Member Carol Flickinger and I also taught some iPhone basics to independent living clients through the Department’s community-based training program. In May, the United States Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Iowa and the Disability Rights Section, Civil Rights Division of the United States Department of Justice, invited ICUB, along with other organizations, to discuss The Americans with Disabilities Act and the Rights of Iowa Voters with Disabilities. Also on the Department of Justice call were Timothy T. Duax, Acting United States Attorney for the Northern District of Iowa; Matthew Gillespie, Assistant U.S. Attorney; Brandon Gray, Assistant U.S. Attorney; Elizabeth Johnson, Trial Attorney, Disability Rights Section, Civil Rights Division of the United States Department of Justice; and Jean Conner, Paralegal Specialist. It was a great opportunity for discussion among a broad array of stakeholders regarding the barriers faced by individuals with disabilities in the voting process. Don’t forget the dates for our ICUB Conference and Convention are August 26th and August 27th! Have you reserved your room yet at the Ankeny Courtyard Marriott? You still have time to do so by calling 515-422-5555. A big thank you to the Greater Iowa Credit Union (GICU) for sponsoring our 2022 convention and to FuseBox One for providing all our printing needs. I hope you all have a wonderful summer, and we will see you in August! Sincerely, Carrie Chapman, President Iowa Council of the United Blind
Serving as a Blind Juror
Don Wirth and Sandy Tigges Editor’s Note: The following article describes experiences dealing with an uncommon but not unusual activity. As you read it, think about a similar situation you have encountered and then consider contacting Don or Sandy about an article for a future issue of the Bulletin. As blind folks, we want to participate in activities as much as possible. There are certain areas that all Americans are called to do as part of their civic duties—we want to contribute there as well. One of those duties is to serve on juries when called upon. Recently, I was notified that I was selected for a jury panel, which meant was that I was included on a list of registered voters who might be called upon to serve on a jury for a trial during a two-week period. The notice presented some opportunities and some challenges. I wanted to serve to demonstrate a blind person active in a setting and role sighted people might not expect. For myself, I simply looked forward to a new experience. The challenges included ensuring that I had access to all information that might be presented during the trial, such as written materials, charts or videos. How was I going to do this? Well, court systems are working under legal requirements to permit inclusion of blind people on juries. To assist in handling print or visual materials as well as other issues, they have accessibility officers. The jury duty process begins in the same way for all potential jurors. You receive a postcard notice of your selection which includes a website address to be used to create a profile including information that determines whether you are eligible to serve. The profile contains questions such as whether you or your family members have been involved in law suits. You can also enter telephone and email information for updates about your status for any upcoming trials. The profile also asks if you might need special accommodations. I said yes to that query. Within a few days, I received a call from the court’s accessibility officer. In our conversation, I listed some of my concerns. I told him that I had an OCR (optical character recognition) app on my iPhone that would allow me to read printed material while using earbuds so it would not distract others. Would I be allowed to bring my phone into the court and use it? I also had concerns about getting descriptions of charts and actions in videos. The accessibility officer said “Let me check on these and I‘ll get back to you.” The dates for my jury duty were still several weeks away so we had time to work on it. Within a few weeks, the officer called me back with the results of his research. He told me I could use my OCR app on my phone. He also said he had contacted IRIS (Iowa Radio Reading Information Service for the Blind and Print Handicapped), who would be available in the courtroom to provide audio description of any videos and charts. The officer and I agreed that, regardless of whether or not I was called to serve on a jury, we both had learned a lot. The officer would have information that he could use in the future with any potential jurors who were blind. Knowing accessibility concerns would be addressed, I was feeling more comfortable about the potential of serving. Transportation might still be an issue, but I had options to address that. So, after all the preparation, there were no trials during the two weeks I was on the panel! Still, laying the groundwork and investigating options for serving on a jury was an interesting experience, and I am glad I participated. I didn’t serve on a jury, but I made myself and the court ready for doing so. I helped court system personnel learn about accessibility options for including blind folks in the jury process. I was able to educate others and demonstrate a blind person effectively participating in society. Such is my recent experience with the jury process. What follows is Sandy Tigges recounting her experience of several years ago. In the early 1990’s, I was working in Davenport as a Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) Counsellor for the Iowa Department for the Blind when I received a letter from the Scott County Clerk of Court summoning me for jury duty. In the letter was a phone number I was to call on a Friday night to see if the number assigned to me was up. Unfortunately, it was, and I reported to the Scott County Courthouse early the next Monday morning. As often happens when we confront a new experience, I was a little nervous. First, we all had to watch an informational film on jury duty. We were then assigned in groups to go to various courtrooms. I followed my group to my assigned courtroom and was directed to the jury box. Once I learned what the trial was about, I knew that I would be selected because of the nature of my job. On a rainy fall morning, a local attorney who specialized in researching property abstracts was driving in a Davenport shopping area when he was rear ended by a woman driving another car. Her insurance company would not pay him any damages, claiming that his back pain was caused by a rheumatic condition he had called ankylosing spondylitis. The plaintiff decided to sue the insurance company, saying the accident had aggravated the condition, preventing him from doing his legal work and pursuing his hobbies. Who better to put on the jury than a VR Counselor whose job it is to put people with disabilities to work and who also seemed to have dealt well with her own disability? After each juror went through the process known as voir dire —an interview with the opposing attorneys to determine the competence of potential jurors—the names of those who have been selected were called and they were asked to stand. I stood when my name was called. One gentleman who moaned and groaned the whole time was openly relieved that his name was not called. Certain he was done for the day, I had to smile when he was sent to another courtroom where they still needed jurors. He was not happy. Interestingly enough, I was never asked about my blindness during voir dire. I knew that they could not legally dismiss me based on my disability alone, but unlike Don, I was not asked about making accommodations for my blindness. I could not have improved on the ones they did make, however. The attorneys read the charts aloud, and the lawyer for the insurance company would often use the phrase, “For the benefit of the entire jury…” when something needed to be described. It got a giggle from the other jurors when the plaintiff was asked to describe himself physically—he was not in the best shape! When the testimony was done, we went to the jury room to deliberate. The juror we elected as our “captain” read the paperwork to me. After discussing the trial for a few hours, we decided that the accident had some effect on the plaintiff’s medical condition but was not totally the cause of his back pain. We awarded him $25,000. We did not have to return to the courtroom, but the judge did come in to answer any questions we had. Serving on a jury was a great experience. Years later, my daughter was a law student at Drake and asked me to serve as a volunteer juror on one of their mock trials. The two student lawyers ignored my blindness and never read the charts and graphs aloud or asked me how they should make accommodations. When the judge asked the volunteer jurors to comment on their performance after the trial ended, I chided them for their omission and shared with them my earlier experience as a juror. The judge thanked me for my remarks afterwards. I must be honest, though. When I got a letter from Polk County summoning me for jury duty a few years later, I was relieved when the number assigned to me was not called.
New and Exciting Fundraiser to Launch at ACB Omaha Convention
Norma A. Boge The Merchandise Committee—comprised of myself and two other ICUB State Board members, Carol Flickinger, and Jeana Mowery—has been working hard preparing to sell ICUB-branded items at the ACB National Conference and Convention next month. ICUB will have a table at the Conference marketplace located near the main exhibit hall at the Hilton in Omaha. We’ll be at our table from 7:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. on Tuesday, July 5, and Wednesday, July 6. In addition to selling our ICUB items, we’ll be selling 50/50 raffle tickets. Not going to Omaha? No problem. Some items will also be available at our own ICUB Annual Statewide Convention in August. We’re also looking for volunteers to help at our booth. If you’re friendly and like to chat people up and enjoy selling, we need you! Please call Jeana Mowery at 712-310-7140 to assist us. This is a new fundraising effort for our organization. We think it can be a winner for us. In the future, we hope to expand our selection of items and offer additional ways to purchase items on an ongoing basis. Stay tuned, and please support ICUB’s new and exciting venture!
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.
Self-Week Social Discovery Experience
Moe Carpenter Hello, my name is Moe, and I participated in the Iowa Department for the Blind’s Self-Week training this past May. Being the housekeeper for a family of 6—I have four children and four fur babies—I don’t get much time away from the family. In fact, since I started my family around 16 years ago, my focus has basically been on keeping things afloat for all of us. I cannot think of any time during those past 16 years when I have been away from the household for more than an overnight, and then it’s pretty much been for family occasions. Never have I been truly on my own, let alone for a week! The Self-Week Program was started just in the last couple of years. It is basically a week of Iowa Department for the Blind (IDB) training sessions on travel/O and M (orientation and mobility), Braille, technology, and home management each weekday. There is also some time for after hour outings, and meals with the full group of Self-Week participants. The weekend days are basically for arrival and departure--moving in and back out again! All of this was fine. I am not a fan of the forced sleep shade experience, or as IDB calls it, structured discovery, but I survived. In fact, as much as they tried, I am probably even more firm on my stance that I will never be able to learn fully what I need to learn while wearing sleep shades because I already do so much with nonvisual techniques. Adding sleep shades takes so much of that away for me. However, I did learn something about myself during this experience. I rediscovered my social abilities while attending Self-Week. This is not something I had anticipated, and it really surprised me that it stood out for me during the training, or rather around the structured training. During meal times and after hours, I spent a lot of time getting to know our small group members better. I found out that I am much more than just a mom to four boys trying to make it day-to-day, but rather I am a pretty social person who enjoys watching others progress in their blindness skills. I am also a person who really does not like being alone—ever. Staying alone in a room with minimal necessities to get by is not something I will be looking forward to when going back for more training. However, the late night outings we had with just this group, a group of strangers to me for the most part, was truly the highlight of my entire time. I really excel in an environment away from home where I am forced to not stand behind or alongside someone else, but rather stand on my own. So in that roundabout way, I did get the confidence boost the Self-Week is designed for, but probably not in “classes,” but in the alternative way, as it was the afterhours where I really felt I excelled. As far as sleep-shaded structured discovery, yes, I understand it is probably needed for some if not most blind people. I think, however, for those of us who have been blind all our lives, where we have learned to adapt during all that time without really relying on that non-existing vision, we should have another option for skills training in Iowa. However, I am so glad I had that week away from my family, the stresses of running it, and finding out they could all survive without me for a bit. Perhaps Guide Dog school is in my future?
Meet the Board: Liz Soenen
Don Wirth 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. You know how you sometimes see that wonderful item, vacation, or experience that you would love to have, but it just isn’t in the cards right now? So, you wait and keep checking on it and hope you are in the right place at the right time when it all fits together. Well, that is somewhat the story behind Liz Soenen’s work on the ICUB board. Liz worked at the Iowa Department for the Blind for about 18 years. For several of those years, she was a member of ICUB but couldn’t be as active on the Board or in ICUB as she might have liked. During her time at IDB, Liz got to know a number of ICUB members. She grew to respect their dedication to educating blind folks and helping them live fuller and more accomplished lives. And the ICUB folks were watching Liz. When Liz retired a few years ago, she had more time available to give back to projects that interested her. Continuing to work with blind folks was one of them. Liz first came in contact with IDB when her mother lost her vision as an adult. Liz assisted her mother in working with IDB in transitioning to blindness. Through those interactions, Liz developed an interest in working with other blind individuals. She started her career with IDB as an Independent Living instructor. During her time at IDB, she worked mostly in north central Iowa. One of her closest clients/friends/compatriots is Carol Flickinger. They performed a lot of outreach, sometimes using puppets to educate. And they learned a great deal from each other. At the end of a dedicated career, Liz retired. The ICUB Board was looking for new officers. ICUB knew a lot about Liz from our members who had worked with her. They were in the right place and the right time to capture this coveted leader’s interest. Liz was recruited for the Board. Luckily for ICUB, she agreed to join us. Liz is currently serving as Secretary. When asked what she hopes to accomplish on the Board, Liz says community service. She wants to expand the reach of ICUB and expand the goal of enhancing the opportunities for blind individuals which she has watched ICUB doing for several years. She sees that there is so much to learn in the area of living as a person who is blind, including continuing to grow and expand as new technologies and methods develop. Liz wants to learn and then teach others. Her work with ICUB blends with her other service activities in her church and the Iowa River Players Community Theater in Rowan. Biding our time and acting at the right time to get Liz on ICUB’s State Board will be rewarding for current and future ICUB members.
Don Wirth Each year, the American Council of the Blind (ACB) presents a number of awards. Any ACB member can nominate an individual or organization that they feel qualifies for and meets the requirements of any award. Awards are presented during the National ACB Conference and Convention. These presentations are among the most exciting events during the Convention as we get to hear not only about who won but also about the work they are doing to assist blind individuals to live more fulfilling and productive lives. Word has it that an ICUB member nominated a local individual and organization for one of the more prestigious awards. The winner of the award will be announced on Monday, July 4, 2022, during a plenary session at the American Council of the Blind's virtual Conference and Convention. Plan to attend this session either in person or virtually via Zoom or ACB Media. Hopefully, blind Iowans will have something to celebrate in addition to the nation’s birthday. The recipient’s name will also be announced in the next Bulletin.