Winter 2020

Published by the


An American Council of the Blind Affiliate


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Carrie Chapman, President

200 Parkview Dr.

Waukee, IA 50263



Don Wirth, Co-Editor

921 9th St., #208

Ames, IA 50010



Sandy Tigges, Co-Editor

2904 34th St.

Des Moines, IA 50310



Table of Contents

President’s Message 3

ACB Community Calling Events 5

ACB Core Values 6

Shopping to Benefit ICUB 7

Are You Ready for Some Good News? 8

Friends of the Iowa Library Celebrate Fifteen Years of Service 10

And What Library Services Were There Before 1961? 12

Selecting ICUB as a Beneficiary 16

A Romp in the Straw 17

Coaching Corner 19

Those We Have Lost 20

News You Can Use 22

Donating Your Vehicle to Benefit ICUB 23

Wintertime Taco Pasta 24

Des Moines Chapter Report 25

Across Iowa At-Large Chapter Report 28

Digest of ICUB Board Activity July Through September, 2020 29

Calendar of Events 31

ICUB Board Members 34

President’s Message

Carrie Chapman

Hi, everyone,

I hope this Bulletin finds you, your family, and friends healthy. It has been a challenging year for everyone, and I think it is safe to say we are all looking forward to the end of 2020 and a new start with 2021.

First, I want to thank everyone for making phone calls and writing letters in support of accessible absentee ballots. Your efforts did not go unnoticed. Aside from our letter-writing campaign, we also were interviewed by WHO TV, KCCI TV, Iowa Public Radio, The Des Moines Register, and The Ames Tribune. In October, I was invited to speak at the Wells Fargo’s Accessibility Ambassador Program. I also joined with Jane Hudson, Executive Director of Disability Rights Iowa, in An AMOS--Mid-Iowa Organizing Strategy--conference call at which Secretary of State Paul Pate was the guest speaker. Finally, Jane Hudson and I presented on a voter panel at the Polk County Bar Association Seminar. The need for accessible absentee ballots was discussed at all these events. In total, we reached over 400 people, not including all those we reached through the news coverage and your calls and letters.

Although we did not get the outcome we were hoping for in this election year, we made huge progress in raising awareness. We are not done! ICUB, NFBI, and Disability Rights Iowa have worked way too hard to give up now. The next legislative session is just around the corner, and we will be asking for your help again. Stay tuned for more information.

On December 1st, our State Board met for our regular board meeting. It was decided to move our 2021 ICUB Annual Conference and Convention to a virtual format. This was not an easy decision to make, but we believe it is the right one. It will allow our members, including those who are at high risk and those who typically may not be able to attend, the opportunity to do so. This format is all new to everyone, so we will keep you updated as we figure everything out. Thank you for your understanding. We look forward to making the 2021 Conference and Convention a safe and memorable one.

In addition, the American Council of the Blind National Conference and Convention will be virtual again this year. The ACB Board of Directors has also voted to change the dates of the Convention to July 16 through July 23, 2021, to enable convention attendees to enjoy the primetime Olympics broadcasts in audio description. Details will follow.

Last year, we rolled out Tips and Tricks with ICUB on a conference line we had been using for some meetings. When the pandemic hit, we also began to use this line for weekly conference calls and for our Across Iowa and Des Moines Chapter meetings. I want to give you some related figures we should all be proud of. We have held 276 calls, used 8,507 minutes, and averaged 6 to 26 participants on each call. If we just take the lowest number of participants and multiply that by the number of calls, individuals have accessed our information 1,656 times. Keep in mind that most of these numbers are from this year. That’s a lot of calls, a lot of fellowship, 11 new members, and a lot of ICUB! Thanks to everyone for working together to make our efforts a success, and a big welcome to our new members! We look forward to getting to know you and having you be a part of this wonderful organization.

Happy holidays!

Carrie Chapman, President

ACB Community Calling Events

As President Carrie Chapman mentions in her message above, ICUB conference calls have been a great success. Did you know, however, that the American Council of the Blind also hosts a wide variety of community calls open to both members and nonmembers? A sampling of topics includes Coffee Chat, The Blessing Table, Crafty Chat, A Whole New World, Apps We Like, and so many, many more.

You can access these calls through Zoom or your phone. Some are even streamed live on ACB Radio. When you participate, you are asked to abide by community events expectations, including the ACB Core Values and Code of Conduct.

To receive the daily and weekly schedules, send a blank email to:

Those without email can access this information by phone by dialing 1-800-424-8666 and listening to the prompts. Schedules are also available through Alexa devices. Give it a try. You’ll be sure to find a topic you like.

ACB Core Values

Editor’s Note: These core values compose the guiding belief system that serves as the foundation of the American Council of the Blind. They were adopted by the Board of Directors at the 2019 pre-convention board meeting. They can also be found on the ACB website,

Integrity and honesty. Our word is our bond serving as a foundational element demonstrating our strong democratic principles and values.

Respect. We treat others as we expect to be treated. We welcome each individual's unique talents and honor diverse work and lifestyles.

Collaboration. We believe success comes from working together to create solutions that advance the organization's mission through partnerships and teamwork.

Flexibility. We adapt to ever-changing circumstances and situations. We are receptive to multiple points of view and ideas.

Initiative. We can and do make a difference in all of our efforts. We embrace continuous learning, hard work, personal accountability, motivation, and individual responsibility.

Shopping to Benefit ICUB

Are you an online shopper? You can help ICUB secure some additional funds when you shop at There, enter your email 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 ICUB will receive 0.5% of the value of eligible purchases.

You can also now 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:

Are You Ready for Some Good News?

Tim West

Editor’s Note: Tim is the Digital Recording Specialist at the Iowa Library for the Blind and Print Disabled.

How can your response to this question be anything but a resounding “YES!?” Sometimes, you know, GOOD NEWS is right in our backyard, but we miss it because its presence is a common thread of our lives. Perhaps the services you receive from Iowa’s Library for the Blind and Print Disabled are like that. In this pandemic era, the Library has developed some innovative and informative options for each of us to try. Check these out!!

IDB Read Program. Join us for IDB Read. Participants can call in and listen to one of our wonderful volunteer narrators read LIVE on the phone, followed by a short chat about the book. This is also a great opportunity for readers to get to know volunteer narrators, some of whom have read for us for decades, and give them kudos and feedback on their efforts. On Mondays and Wednesdays from 4:00pm-5:00pm, you can call in and listen to our narrator, Christine Mach, read a cozy mystery. On Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10:00am – 11:00 am, you can call in and listen to our narrator, Bob White, read a western from the Sacketts Series by Louis L’Amour. Please call the library at 515.281.1323 to get the conference call number for IDB Read. We look forward to reading with you!

Adult Winter Reading Challenge. The library is introducing a new program this winter, the Adult Winter Reading Challenge! Who doesn't like to curl up with a blanket and a good book while the snow swirls outside? Join the Iowa in a winter reading challenge and get rewarded for your cold-weather reading! If you read 7500 minutes between January 4 and February 28, 2021, you will be entered to win a Winter Reading Themed Gift Basket. The library is partnering with READsquared, an interactive online program, where you can log and track your minutes. Go to to register now! Please call Leslie at 515.452.1329 with any questions.

Library Podcasts. The library offers three great podcasts. Library Chat is a monthly podcast discussing books and podcasts on all sorts of topics. Library News is a monthly podcast highlighting library events, programs, services, books and more. Braille Bits is a podcast that corresponds with the lessons from our Braille Bits program. Each episode walks the listener through a braille lesson and includes an interview with a special guest.

For more information about these and other library services, programs, and events, go to

Friends of the Iowa Library

Celebrate 15 Years of Service

Don Wirth

Fifteen years ago, the Friends of the Iowa Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped—known as the Friends--was created by a group of individuals who wanted to enhance the services the library provides to its patrons. They included Library Director Karen Keninger, Louise Duvall, John Billingsley, Pat Smith, Peggy Chong, Jo Slayton, Corey Keninger, and Rosemary Higley. During the past fifteen years, the Friends have raised and donated tens of thousands of dollars to the library, providing such things as sacred texts and individual digital cartridges to patrons, financial support of the annual Braille Challenge to encourage Braille reading by children, and a 3D printer to produce tactile aids.

At its annual meeting on November 12, the Friends held a zoom meeting that included the usual business items of electing board members and presenting annual reports. But they also invited back the founders of the Friends to share memories of what their plans and hopes had been for the organization. Joining the call were Karen Keninger, now Director of the National Library Service for the Blind and Print Disabled (NLS) at the Library of Congress; Peggy Chong, popularly known as the Blind History Lady; Jo Slayton, long-time and well-known ICUB member and Library borrower; and John Billingsley, who prepared and filed the incorporating legal documents.

Jo Slayton and John Billingsley offered comments about the Friends’ early days and the many fundraising projects they worked on, including lucrative annual garage sales. Peggy Chong presented on “Before There Was the Iowa for the Blind, There Was What?” She detailed the difficulties and challenges blind Iowans encountered in obtaining reading materials. This included “the Braille wars” that revolved around a debate over which of the more than four competing tactile reading systems for the blind should become the single one that all publishers, teachers, and readers could agree on to education and availability of reading materials more quickly. The war ended in the 1920’s when the Iowa College for the Blind in Vinton advocated for the adoption of Braille. With the support of federal legislation, Braille became the official reading system for the blind.

Karen Keninger spoke about how the Friends evolved from an idea she had that would help her as Library Director to stretch limited agency funds to provide additional services for her patrons. She identified a dedicated group of volunteers who latched onto the idea and ran with it. Karen also spoke about her current role with NLS. Her latest and perhaps greatest accomplishment was to get the Library of Congress and then Congress itself to support the development of the NLS Braille eReader, which would be provided at no cost to any library patron who wanted one. The eReader is now in trial phase, the Iowa library being one of the first in the country to distribute them to its Braille borrowers. Many of those attending the meeting have received the device and enthusiastically endorsed it. Karen announced that she will be retiring this spring and returning to her home in Newton. Many thanks were offered to her for her years of service.

At the meeting, the Friends also announced their goal of providing a gift of $12,000 to the Department this spring. The annual membership campaign was also announced. To encourage the enrollment of new members, the board has offered a challenge pool, providing $20.00 in match money for each of up to 50 new members enrolling by February 28. A new member is defined as some one who has not been a member for at least 2 years and gives at any membership level. To participate, go to the Friends website: .You can also mail checks payable to Friends of Iowa Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped to P.O. Box 93046, Des Moines, IA 50393-3046. Thank you in advance for supporting this worthy cause.

And What Library Services Were There Before 1961?

An Interview with Jo Slayton

Sandy Tigges

Jo Slayton’s first experiences with Braille and library services for the blind started at the Iowa Braille and Sight-Saving School (IBSSS) where she began kindergarten in 1948. Even though she had a little vision at the time, it was soon evident that large print was not an option for her. In first grade, she began to learn how to read Braille, using a six-key Braille writer for writing. By third grade, she had learned the entire code and was taught to use a slate and stylus to write her assignments. In fact, by that age, IBSSS Braille students were no longer allowed to use a Braille writer. She became very fast at writing Braille with her slate and stylus and loved curling up in a chair to write long letters to her friends.

Even though the school taught students with little or no vision how to master Braille, IBSSS did not encourage them to just read and read and read. Textbooks were provided in Braille, but students were assigned to write only four book reports a year, and there were few consequences for those who didn’t complete this task. Tactiles—especially maps--were also a problem. Jo recalls she and the other Braille students sitting at their desks while partially sighted students were called to the front of the room to look at the brightly colored print maps hanging there. Although Braille students were told they could look at the tactile maps after class, there was no time since all students were expected to go to their next class promptly. As a result, for years, Jo had no clue where to locate states on a U.S. map.

IBSSS did have a small library on the second floor, but students were given little opportunity or incentive to visit it. There were a few double-spaced, print-Braille books on the shelves for younger readers and some fiction and nonfiction for older ones. Many of the reading materials were religious in nature, although some of the magazines did have articles about current events. Late at night, Jo and a student with partial vision would sneak into the bathroom in the girls’ dorm, where the student would read to Jo from True Confessions, a romance magazine considered pretty racy at the time. Braille books were expensive to produce and buy, so it was a big deal when the Lions donated a World Book Encyclopedia to the school. Warren Coleman, a long-time Lion, presented the set to the school in the auditorium filled with students. Jo was even selected to read some of the entries aloud.

Besides having few things to read at school, the lack of summer reading was a big problem for kids like Jo. The school library did not loan out books for the summer, and students and their families were not told they might be able to borrow books from the regional library for the blind in Illinois. Most students didn’t even have a Talking Book player to listen to books on record. The only summer reading Jo had was The Children’s Friend, a Braille magazine produced by a Seventh Day Adventist group. Because she spent the school year in Vinton, she had no friends in her hometown of Winterset to play with, so she spent long hours dialing through soap operas on the radio.

After graduating from IBSSS, Jo was fortunate to begin her Orientation Center training in 1961, just when Kenneth Jernigan was establishing a new library for blind Iowans. Jo loved wandering through the library stacks, delighted at being able to pull volumes off the shelves, sit on the floor, and read them. She could even do it at night when the library was left open for Center students to visit. Interested in doing secretarial work, Jo served as a trainee secretary for the library’s first director, Florence Grannis.

Jo’s experiences growing up convinced her how important it is to encourage children to read. When she and her husband Creig had children, she read to them constantly. Because not many print-Braille books were available then, she and a sighted friend and colleague would get together to Braille books, games, and puzzles on coffee breaks and weekends. She taught her kids their colors by labeling different-colored plastic fish with Braille. Jo later used the fish to teach Vietnamese immigrants the English names for colors.

Now retired, Jo reads constantly. For many years, she volunteered as a Braille proofreader for the library. She loves the new NLS eReader and is impressed that even people who have never used an electronic Braille device can use it. The Braille dots are distinct, and she can download Braille books almost instantly. No more dealing with a postal worker who doesn’t like delivering and picking up bulky Braille volumes from her porch!

Jo thinks that perhaps current borrowers take for granted the many services offered by the library, although maybe that’s a good thing. They have no idea that Braille readers in the past had to scrounge to get their hands on the few Braille materials available. They had little hope of finding a book on a topic they wanted to read about, like parenting. Now patrons have access to a wide variety of subjects and formats. The library will even transcribe books for them if they like. Jo advises today’s library borrowers to take advantage of these wonderful Library services and read, read, read!

Selecting ICUB as a Beneficiary

If you or a friend would like to remember the Iowa Council of the United Blind in your will, you may do so by using the following language: “I grant, devise, or bequeath unto the Iowa Council of the United Blind, a non-profit charitable organization, the sum of ______ dollars, ____ percent of my net estate, or the following stocks and bonds (please list them) to be used for its worthy purposes on behalf of blind persons.” If your wishes are more complex, you can have your attorney call 515-279-4284, or write to the Iowa Council of the United Blind, 4013 - 30TH Street, Des Moines, IA 50310.


Jackie Armstrong

I am often one to try new things, whether it be food, travel, crafts, or other entertainment.

This year, I attended a Home and Garden Show and learned about Strawbale Gardening through a presentation by Joel Karsten of Roseville, MN. He has written a book and established many remote areas where gardening has never been an option with rich and abundant amounts of fresh produce.

Now I have been trying to establish a small, raised garden in my backyard for over 5 years, and the results have been slow and disappointing due to the poor quality of our soil, which is heavy with clay. So when I saw what Joel was able to do with just a few bales of straw, I was ecstatic! I took notes at his seminar and came home with big plans.

Luckily, I have a husband who knows me all too well. He curbed my enthusiasm and convinced me to start with only six bales--I was all set to begin with fifteen.

Six bales was a good start. We purchased them from a local farmer for six dollars apiece.

We laid out the area with cardboard and placed the bales on top to discourage weeds from growing beneath them. We then pounded metal stakes in the middle and at each end of the row. We wrapped electric fence wire tightly around the poles at 2 heights to support the climbing of different types of vegetables, such as cucumbers, tomatoes, and beans.

I watered the bales heavily for 4 days and then sprinkled 2 cups of yard fertilizer into each bale. I continued to water them for 4 days and checked their temperature to see if decomposing was starting. Nothing happened. I repeated the same amount of fertilizer and watered and temped them again--nothing happened. We were told Blood Meal was the best way to help start the decomposing process, but it took us a week to find it. I added two cups of it, along with more fertilizer, to each bale. Finally, decomposition began!

The temperature of the bales can rise up to 120 to 140 degrees. You can use a thermometer, but I found it easier to just stick my hand into the bales and feel the warmth. I also knew they were decomposing because mushrooms were growing on them. I purchased tomatoes and peppers that were already started, and I planted green beans, zucchini, squash, and cucumber from seed. I watered them every day.

It seemed as though the plants were not taking off as I had expected. I thought it may be due to the cold weather we were having. I continued to water them daily. I continued to be disappointed. I then did some research online and learned that, if you overwatered the bales, you could be washing out the nutrients. I reduced the amount of watering. They finally began to show progress.

I was disappointed that the seeds for the squash and zucchini did not sprout. Next time, I will buy them already started. I also believe that, if I would have planted the green beans deeper, they may have been heartier. All in all, I was not overly impressed, but then also I was not overly disappointed. The perks were no weeds and no bending over! The yields were fair.

For next year, I have expanded my raised garden and have placed the partially decomposed bales in it. I think I will try planting carrots and potatoes in them next spring, since the second year is supposed to be good for root vegetables. In year three, the bales should be completely decomposed, leaving the black gold of real dirt.

It was fun to learn and try something new. But the biggest lesson I learned was that I should have spent the extra $25 to buy the book the day I attended the Home Show! I am hoping to get it for Christmas so I can continue to learn and improve on this new trend.

Coaching Corner

Teresa Gregg

This year in the Coaching Corner, we have been discussing your emotional welfare and how to become a dynamic communicator. I am sure in this time of being quarantined, your emotions are running a bit wild.

If you feel you are being bombarded by someone when they are talking to you, simply angle your body so you are diagonal to that person. This allows the other person to vent to you, but you are not directly absorbing their negative energy since you are at an angle and not directly in-line of their emotions. It is a deflection exercise.

Before responding, take a deep breath, count to ten, and decide if your response will create positive constructive energy or negative energy.

Those We Have Lost

Gary Patterson

Editor’s Note: Gary was a long-time member of ICUB and will be missed. He was a pioneer in the field of computer programming by blind people in the sixties, using a tactile reading device called an Opticon to do his work at a time when Braille and screen-reading access to computers had not yet been invented.

Gary Francis Patterson passed away unexpectedly on November 16, 2020 following a fall at his home in Des Moines, Iowa. Gary was born with congenital glaucoma and aniridia in San Diego on September 15, 1944 to Frances and Walter Lampkin. At the end of WWII, Frances moved back to Wichita Falls, TX raising Gary until her marriage to Wayne O.

Patterson in 1948.

Gary endured multiple surgeries on his eyes to relieve pressure from the glaucoma before age 3, eliminating the need to remove his eyes until he was an adult. At the age of 5, Gary was enrolled as a live-in student at the Texas School for the Blind in Austin. The rest of his immediate family moved to Austin in 1952. He was a member of the wrestling team and the track team while in high school and was fluent in Spanish. He graduated as valedictorian in 1962. He then worked for four years as a piano tuner for San Antonio Music Company before attending Southwest Texas State College (now Texas State in San Marcos) for 1 year before transferring to the University of Texas in Austin. He married and moved to Des Moines, Iowa, finishing his degree from Iowa State University in Ames with a major in math and minor in computer science. He worked for 33 years for American Republic Life Insurance Company in Des Moines as a computer programmer.

Gary had a subtle sense of humor. Once, when his mother came for a visit, Gary reserved her a rental car and insisted on going in to pick up the car. It was regrettable that he was unable to see the clerk’s reaction to the blind man standing at the counter waiting to pick up his rental car!

He continued his interest in computers until his death, utilizing new inventions for the visually handicapped – a bar code reader, color identifier (he could “see” the colors of his clothes), tabletop camera which fed to his laptop to "read" labels, and various voice synthesizing devices and mechanical reading devices. He was adamant and active in efforts regarding the retention and teaching of Braille for the visually handicapped. He enjoyed woodworking, Sudoku, reading, and cooking, especially Mexican food. He had an affinity for mathematics and had a voracious interest in money management and financial news.

He was raised to be independent, overcoming many challenges from his lack of sight, and he traveled extensively. He toured the Baltic Sea countries and England by himself. He was single and living independently at the time of his death.

News You Can Use

Norma A. Boge

NLS eReader Pilot Project. The Iowa Department for the Blind Library has been selected to participate in the NLS Braille eReader pilot project. eReaders, which have twenty refreshable braille cells and an eight-key Perkins-style keyboard, are currently being sent to library patrons for testing. If you are a Braille reader at any level and want more information or would like to participate in the pilot, contact Tyler Swett, Accessible Media Specialist, 515-452-1343 or

Instacart Launches New Senior Support Service. This grocery delivery service is a great way to safely obtain groceries, household essentials, and medications. When you use Instacart’s Senior Support Service, a dedicated specialist is ready to assist you with setting up an account, filling a virtual cart, and placing your first order. Call toll-free, 1-844-981-3433, to get more information.

Talk Description to Me Podcast. In this podcast, the visuals of current events and the world around us are hashed out in description-rich conversations. J.J. Hunt is an innovative Audio Describer and a natural-born storyteller. Christine Malec is a perpetually inquisitive member of the blind community who’s always wondering about something. Here their lively and witty discussions plunge into current events and topical issues to explore the content of important images and help place vivid descriptions in their cultural context. Listen directly from their web site,, or find them wherever you get your podcasts.

The National Federation of the Blind (NFB) has released version 3.0 of NFB-NEWSLINE Mobile to the Apple App Store. The brand new, redesigned app not only allows subscribers to access all of the content available through NFB-NEWSLINE from their iPhone, iPad, or other iOS device, but includes a free basic version of the KNFB Reader mobile app. For more information, visit: .

Donating Your Vehicle to Benefit ICUB

Do you need to dispose of a used vehicle? ICUB's Used Vehicle Donation Program offers a perfect solution. Your vehicle will be picked up from your home and sold at auction. A portion of the proceeds go directly to ICUB. You can claim a tax deduction equal to the dollar value of the vehicle. Call 800-899-4925 for more information.

Wintertime Taco Pasta

Carrie Chapman


1 pound ground beef or turkey

8-12 ounces medium pasta shells or other small dry pasta, cooked

1 small onion, chopped (about 1 cup)

1 clove garlic, minced

1 (14 ounces) can diced tomatoes with mild green chilies, drained

1 packet taco seasoning (4 tablespoons)

3 ounces cream cheese

1/2 cup sour cream