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ICUB BULLETIN Winter 2024

Published by the

IOWA COUNCIL OF THE UNITED BLIND

An American Council of the Blind Affiliate

Bettina Dolinsek, President

304 W. Cedar St.

Goldfield, IA 50542

866-436-0141

Karen Keninger, Co-Editor

515-333-9612


Sandy Tigges, Co-Editor

515-277-1256


Table of Contents



President’s Report

Bettina Dolinsek


The 2023 holidays are past, but it’s a good time to look both back over the past year and ahead to 2024. 


We made our voices heard in February and March regarding the Governor’s plans to realign the Iowa Department for the Blind within state government and her failure to appoint members to the Commission. Although we didn’t get what we wanted, we all pulled together with one voice and will continue to do so as circumstances demand. 


We had a great Convention in August, and much of this issue will be devoted to a recap of those presentations. We also elected two new Board members, and you can read about them later in this issue. 


Looking ahead, we are beginning to plan for the 2024 Convention. It will be held at the Courtyard Marriott in Ankeny, the same location as last year. Mark your calendars. The dates are Friday, August 23, and Saturday August 24. 


As you plan for 2024, I encourage you to consider opportunities to support your ICUB Chapter and the organization as a whole. Plan to participate in your Chapter’s monthly meetings and special activities. Lend your voice to the issues facing blind Iowans. Reach out in friendship to new ICUB members, and look for ways to put your particular talents to use. 


As always, I'm just a phone call or an email away.  Please feel free to reach out to me with ideas or questions.


Cheers!

Bettina Dolinsek, President



ICUB Convention Recap

Karen Keninger


The 2023 Conference and Convention of the Iowa Council of the United Blind, (ICUB), was held on Zoom and in person at the Courtyard by Marriott in Ankeny, Iowa on August 25 and 26. It was also broadcast on ACB Radio.  Fifty-five people registered for the convention, including seven who participated on Zoom—three from Iowa, three from California and one from Louisiana. Forty-four people attended the luncheon, and thirty-eight attended the banquet. 


The convention theme was “Art Is …,” showcasing a variety of art forms throughout the Convention. Several of the activities and presentations focused on the arts. Other presentations focused on information and services of interest to ICUB members. 

President’s Report:  State President Bettina Dolinsek reported on ICUB activities over the past year. 


In the spring, while the Iowa Legislature was in session, ICUB members mobilized to protest the Governor’s Realignment Bill. President Dolinsek thanked ICUB members for responding to her call for action with emails, phone calls and in-person attendance and presentation at committee hearings. The bill passed, nonetheless, with the Governor’s new language in place regarding the Iowa Department for the Blind and the Commission. 

President Dolinsek also reported that The Board of Directors approved a policy to govern the use of an ICUB DropBox account. The purpose of the account is to consolidate and organize all of ICUB’s files in one place for reliable storage and easy access. Finally, she thanked the Convention planning committee for all their hard work and explained the Convention theme, focusing on a wide variety of art forms and styles. 


Art is …:  Two preconvention training and hands-on sessions were held on Friday afternoon.  Lisa Davis, an ICUB member and also an active member of the Des Moines Ballroom Dance Studio, taught basic steps in ballroom dancing.  Madelyn Mayberry from the Des Moines Art Center and Denise Bean from the Iowa Library for the Blind and Print Disabled presented basic concepts in visual arts through hands-on activities using accessible materials. This presentation was followed by the opportunity for participants to create personal artwork. The sessions were well received by those attending.

In the opening session, ICUB member Steve Hagamoser performed a creative rendition of the Star Spangled Banner on electric guitar. He and a fellow musician provided entertainment during after-hours hospitality as Two Tall Guys and a Guitar. Cody Dolinsek, Des Moines Chapter President, gave a keynote focusing on the value of reading and the power of words. He talked about his own experience discovering books at the Iowa Library for the Blind. 


During the ICUB Luncheon, members of the cast of Once from the Des Moines Playhouse presented a scene from this musical which they would present in the fall, while Maryfrances Evans, Director of IRIS and experienced audio describer, provided audio description for the audience. 


Jill Wells from the Harkin Center presented a session on accessible art, requesting feedback from the audience about what makes art accessible and what the barriers are. In her presentation titled “Dancing Through Life,” ICUB member Lisa Davis described her journey as a successful blind competitive ballroom dancer. She talked about the steps she took to make sure she was not left on the sidelines. 


Iowa Department for the Blind Services:  The Iowa Department for the Blind (IDB) staff made a total of four presentations to the ICUB membership. Director Emily Wharton reminded ICUB members that she holds a Director’s Forum on the third Tuesday of each month via Zoom and encouraged people to join the discussion. She also reminded members that grants and loans are available from the Department’s Gifts and Bequests fund and that the application form is located online. Grants can cover a range of things, from the cost of personal assistive technology to attendance at state or national consumer conventions. She said the Department is undergoing some restructuring, specifically moving vocational rehabilitation teachers into the Iowa Empowerment and Independence Center. Functions of the rehabilitation technology specialists are also being reorganized to address worksite accessibility and efficiency in delivering training in the field. A change in the provision of educational materials to Iowa’s K-12 blind students has shifted the cost to individual school districts instead of the Department of Education. This has impacted the IDB’s Instructional Materials Center’s (IMC) funding. The IMC continues to provide existing materials upon request and is creating enrichment materials for students as well. 

Contact: 515-802-7313; Emily.wharton@blind.state.ia.us   


Keri Osterhaus, Program Administrator for Vocational Rehabilitation, reported on a series of partnerships being established with Workforce Centers and other service providers. A needs assessment conducted last year revealed several challenges, including recruiting and retaining staff; a reduction in applications for services, training and employment outcomes; perceived lack of community awareness of IDB services; and a need for more teachers for training in independent living skills. Training for IDB staff and partner staff has focused on addressing the needs of persons with multiple disabilities. She reported that last year forty-four clients obtained jobs, making an average of $17 per hour and working an average of 28 hours a week. 

Contact: 515-205-8583; keri.osterhaus@blind.state.ia.us 


Karly Prinds, Program Administrator of the Iowa Empowerment and Independence Center, discussed the activities of the LEAP program this summer. She indicated that one of the twelve participants will be attending the Center this fall. Karly invited ICUB members to consider leading a business class in the Center.

Contact: 515-802-8162; Karly.prinds@blind.state.ia.us 


Sarah Willeford, Program Administrator for the Iowa Library for the Blind and Print Disabled, reported on an extensive list of activities in the Library. She talked about partnerships developed with public libraries to spread the word about the Library; creating accessible StoryWalk materials for fifty communities with brailed pages and audio renditions; a summer reading program for youth which included three Zoom conversations each week; and themed youth story boxes with talking books or braille books and a variety of goodies to keep. A new similar program for adults called Peek-A-Box is also being launched. Collections of books for the ICUB book club are also available upon request from the Library. Library patrons can sign up for these programs by calling the Library at 515-281-1323 or emailing library@blind.state.ia.us. More information on these programs is available at iowalibrary.blog

Contact: 515-494-8439; sarah.willeford@blind.state.ia.us 


Don Wirth, a member of the board of the Friends of the Iowa Library for the Blind and Print Disabled, reported that the Friends had donated $12,000 to the Library for special programs last year. They hope to be able to fund a new 3D printer for the Library soon. More information about the Friends is at iafriendslibraryfortheblind.org .   

Iowa Educational Services for Blind and Visually Impaired, (IESBVI):  John Cool, Interim Superintendent for IESBVI, and Jonathan Karli, Chief Academic Officer for blind students, discussed services to blind and visually impaired students in Iowa. Headquartered at the Iowa School for the Deaf facilities in Council Bluffs, the IESBVI programs continue to train and supervise Teachers of the Visually Impaired, (TVIs), and Orientation and Mobility Specialists, (COMs), throughout the state. Oversight of the programs was moved from the Board of Regents to the Department of Education on July 1, 2023. No significant impact to students is expected from this change. IESBVI is serving 736 students in 407 separate school buildings. Besides academic education, IESBVI provides enrichment programs, including such athletic competitions as wrestling, track and field, goalball, cheerleading, bowling, and forensics. Teams compete with teams from other schools in the North Central Schools for the Blind, (NCSAB), Conference.


Iowa Radio Reading and Information Service (IRIS):  Maryfrances Evans, Executive Director of the Iowa Radio Reading and Information Service, (IRIS), provided an update on IRIS activities. A reader who had been including personal comments was asked to resign. IRIS volunteers are required to read the words on the page without editorializing. Some schedules were changed in order to add the Quad City Times and the Washington Post to IRIS offerings. Movies with audio description will be broadcast on Saturday nights, and programming will include more health, legal and financial information for listeners. IRIS is now available through TuneIn on the Alexa app. Maryfrances and IRIS volunteers will continue to do live audio description for events in Des Moines, including the Civic Center and the Des Moines Playhouse. They are also scheduled to describe events in Iowa City and Cedar Falls. Additional information and schedules are posted on the IRIS website at www.iowaradioreading.org . 


The IRIS annual ice cream social took place on Tuesday, September 12 at 4:00 PM. IRIS’s fundraiser, the Big Band Bash, which featured the ten-piece swing band Jukebox, was held on October 10 at the Franklin Junior High in Beaverdale. The evening featured dancing, a costume contest, snacks and cocktails. 

Contact: 515-243-6833, or 877-404-4747, or IRIS@IowaRadioReading.org 


Central Iowa Center for Independent Living, (CICIL):  Laura Gibson, CICIL’s Executive Director, described CICIL’s services and the history of the Independent Living movement. She discussed the CICIL Connection Center and programs aimed at making connections and providing peer support among people with disabilities. More information can be found at www.cicil.org .


American Council of the Blind, (ACB), Update:  Kolby Garrison, Development Officer for the American Council of the Blind, reported on ACB activities and ACB legislative initiatives. These include proposed laws that would guarantee nonvisual access to all aspects of digital media, exercise and fitness equipment, and home-use medical equipment. More information is available at www.ACB.org . Kolby also reminded ICUB about ACB Media and the Audio Description Project, which has over 9,000 titles listed at www.adp.acb.org . 

Contact: 202-559-2045; kgarrison@acb.org  


To round out the convention, Kolby delivered an enthusiastic and musical banquet address in which she encouraged her audience to take a chance, even when they’re afraid to try something or think they can’t do it.  She took this approach when auditioning for American Idol.



Meet the New Board Members

Karen Keninger


During the business meeting at the 2023 ICUB Convention, Lori Trujillo Roush and Sarah Baebler were elected to two-year terms on the ICUB Board. They are well qualified for these positions.


Lori Trujillo Roush has been busy with ICUB through the Des Moines Chapter for the past ten years. She loves planning events, working on projects, and motivating others. “Sometimes I stretch myself too thin,” she admits. She has served as a Board member and President of the Des Moines Chapter, worked on the scholarship committee, and helped initiate the Chapter’s ambassador program. 


In 2007, Lori went through the Iowa Department for the Blind’s Orientation Center. Because she still had some functional vision, she says, she didn’t use her new skills very much. She realized that was a mistake as her vision continued to deteriorate. After her sister Carrie Chapman also went through the program in 2013, they started looking around for a way to get connected with other blind people. They were looking for a sense of community, and there was “not a lot we could find,” she says.  Cynthia Qloud (Cip) suggested attending a meeting of ICUB. “We did,” Lori says, “and we never left.” 


Lori had the opportunity to travel with Cip to conventions in Washington D.C. and Dallas. “I remember it opened up so many opportunities for me,” she says. “Just the confidence you feel after doing that. At first it can be so intimidating. I’m hoping that when other people go to D.C., they will find some of the same things I did. I’m really trying to get people to apply for scholarships.”  


Lori has worked for Nationwide Insurance as an Insurance Analyst 2 for the past seven years. “It pays for the things I like to do,” she laughs. She lives in Urbandale and has two grown children and three grandchildren ages one, four and seven. She also has a Great Dane puppy named Ollie.


Advocacy is at the top of the list for new ICUB Board Member Sarah Baebler. “I love all of ACB’s legislative initiatives,” she says, and she wants to take an active role in helping to promote them through ICUB. She attended the midwinter ACB Leadership Conference last year and plans to attend again this year. Her experience includes working in advocacy for NFB and for the Blindness Industries and Services of Maryland (BISM). 


Sarah has worked at the Iowa Department for the Blind for the past six years, first as a teacher and, for the last three years, a vocational rehabilitation counselor. She’s finishing up a Master’s degree in Vocational Rehabilitation Counseling from Texas Tech University and is also working on a certificate from Grandview College in Des Moines on Disability, Equity and Inclusion. 


Sara has been blind from birth and hails from Lodi, Wisconsin. She is married and has two college-age daughters attending school in New York State. She says she has eclectic tastes in music and likes a wide variety of activities. “I’m up for anything,” she says. 


When asked what drew her to ICUB, Sara said it was the people and the warm welcome she got when she and her husband attended the Des Moines Chapter’s summer picnic. “I liked the culture, the feel, the excitement and openness,” she said. She was also impressed with the number and variety of activities the Chapter and ICUB are involved in, including the volunteer opportunities, legislative work and fundraising. 



Great Expectations: An Editorial

Karen Keninger


The expectations others have for us as blind people often put us in strange boxes. When I was taking guitar lessons and having some trouble hitting the right strings with my pick, my teacher, somewhat exasperated with me, said, “Well Doc Watson was blind and he could do it.” Somehow in his mind, if one blind person could do it, surely we all could. Spoiler alert—I’m no Doc Watson!


The other side of that coin comes up often as well. People don’t expect us to do even the simplest things. They are either amazed, or custodial, or both. Recently a group of ICUB members talked about things they had done that their neighbors and friends didn’t expect them to do. Shoveling snow, driving a go-cart, managing a work team, participating on a professional board; raising children; archery target practice;  driving an amphibious vehicle; taking pictures; bringing supplies to social function; sky diving; learning Judo; facilitating Zoom meetings—ordinary tasks which, with the proper training and expectations, blind people do every day. 


Do we change the expectations of our sighted neighbors and friends? Sometimes. Do we change and reinforce the expectations we have for ourselves? Yes. And one of the advantages of belonging to ICUB is meeting folks who, as our peers, not only hold high expectations of us, but also stand ready to show us how it’s done. 


Do you have an experience with a blind role model who has helped you expand your horizons? Consider sharing it in an upcoming ICUB Bulletin. Just drop me an email at kakeninger@gmail.com or give me a call at 515-333-9612. 



2023 ACB Conference and Convention

Donna Seliger


Last summer I traveled to Schaumburg, Illinois, (a suburb of Chicago), to attend the American Council of the Blind (ACB) 62nd annual Conference and Convention. The in-person activities were held from June 30 through July 7, 2023.  Prior to this a number of meetings were held via Zoom.  Many items were voted on before the in-person Convention began so there were very few questions to be voted on during the live sessions.

During the opening session I was honored to be asked by the members of the Hawaii Association of the Blind (HAB) to remember Warren Toyama, a native Hawaiian and founder of HAB.


Throughout the following days, several panels presented a variety of issues facing the blindness community, including public transportation and paratransit. This year’s talking book narrator was Jake Williams who read excerpts from “As We See It.” The banquet was well attended as the keynote speaker was Louie Sharp, a speaker well-known throughout the country.


The 2024 ACB Conference and Convention will be held in Jacksonville, Florida, from July 5 through July 12.   



Iowa Library for the Blind and Print Disabled Consumer Advisory Committee Update

Don Wirth


The Iowa Library for the Blind and Print Disabled Consumer Advisory Committee (ILCAC) is a group of library patrons who meet quarterly to provide feedback and input to the Library Director about issues and activities affecting the Iowa Department for the Blind Library.

The ILCAC has a minimum of six members with one being a representative of ICUB and one being a representative of NFBI. Currently we have 8 members, and I serve as the ICUB representative. Other ICUB members on the ILCAC are Bob Martin and Jean Nicol-Geran. Feel free to contact any of us for more information about ILCAC or to provide feedback for us to convey to the Library Director.


At the October meeting, we discussed several topics. The Friends has been making annual contributions to the IDB Library to support activities. For the past several years, we have contributed $12,000. This year, the Library identified an additional special need for a 3D printer. After exploring a number of possible sources for funding the printer without success, the Friends made an additional gift of $9,000 to cover the costs. The Director reported that, with these funds, the Library was able to obtain 2 printers and rehab the recording space to provide better zoom meeting facilities.


The Library has started a new program called Peek-a-Box. This program for adults is a companion to one the library has been offering to pre-school and school-aged children to promote literacy. In the Peek-a-Box program, an adult library patron contacts the library and asks to be added to the program’s list. Then periodically, a box shows up at the patron’s home. Included in the box is a letter explaining what the theme of the box is. Also included are some items related to the theme and a book cartridge with several books on that theme.


Last week, I received my first Peek-a-Box. The theme of this box was “Fall.” In the box was an insolated tumbler for hot beverages, a packet of coffee, some fruit roll-ups, and a pumpkin-flavored lip balm. The book cartridge contained 15 books with “Fall” in the title of each book. It was a fun shipment that I wasn’t expecting since I had forgotten I had signed up for it.


Iowa Department for the Blind Staff Reconnecting

Catherine Witte


Thinking about having a party?  An event with an unknown, but probably large number of people?  Here’s what you need:  outreach, via e-mail, U.S. post, social media, and word-of-mouth to advertise the celebration; a handy location with all the amenities; hosts and helpers to set up, take down, and clean up after the event; coffee and cold beverages; food (lots of food!); plates, napkins, silverware and decorations; a sound system…and, most importantly, guests—as many as you can gather!


On Saturday evening, October 28, there was such a party—such a party!!  Staff who worked at the Iowa Department for the Blind (IDB) in 2014 or before, many of whom are ICUB members, reunited and truly reconnected, as the party invitation proclaimed.  Using whatever lists they had at their disposal, Carolyn Hicklin and Jo Slayton contacted as many IDB alumni and present workers who joined IDB before 2014 as possible.  Brenda Criswell sought folks out via social media to do the same.  Thanks to their efforts, approximately ninety people--colleagues as well as their friends and families--gathered at the Ralph Whitten Shelter at Lions’ Park in Urbandale for an evening of reminiscing, remembering, sharing and laughter.  The hallmark of our being together was the buzz of constant, earnest conversation.


It’s not possible to recount a list of all who were there, or those whom we missed and wished had been there.  Nor can we share the menu (too long, thanks to the food gifts of many guests).  It is beyond our knowledge to compile and retell every story and anecdote shared that evening.  But here are a few glimpses:


Sandy Tigges stationed herself near the entrance in an effort to get everyone to sign the guestbook.  Sometimes life became quite congested there because people would realize a particular friend and colleague was nearby and the chatting would start up immediately, long before folks found a seat.  Looking around the room, we saw people from every work unit of the agency, staff whose employment occurred through the late 1900s, those who came on after 2000, and a few folks who remain there today working with and for persons who are blind.


Because our guests were so intent on talking with one another, we had to request several times that they enjoy some food.  Mary Clarke was welcoming guests, coaxing all to eat, and dispensing food trays to each person as they started along the food table.  Carolyn Hicklin, Brenda Criswell, and Becky Criswell Olsen staffed the table, making sure everyone found sandwiches, sweets and beverages that appealed to them.


As a host, one is encouraged to be welcoming, and, well, tactful.  I have been away from the Department since 2000, and there were many people present whom I did not know.  As I was going around the room to greet and welcome everyone, I began several conversations with, “I’m sorry.  We haven’t met.  I’m Catherine Witte.  And you are…?”  Well into the evening, a fellow I did not recognize appeared at the food table.  I simply dispensed with all tact and asked, “Who are you?”  Fortunately for me, Alan Harder has a good sense of humor and took no offense!


Let’s just make note here of someone who intended to join us and was very enthusiastic about the party—Dawn Kruse.  However, a few days before the event, Dawn was out trimming trees and fell and broke her leg.  I wish she had sought my advice.  Years ago, I had occasion to research the most dangerous work tasks, and tree-trimming is in the top ten!


Brenda Criswell emceed a brief program.  We read the names of all who were in attendance.  Brenda also mentioned three or four staff members who had recently died.  Sadly, the list of names of deceased colleagues was too lengthy to read in full.  Brenda shared the hosts’ belief that we were all blessed to have been able to work in an agency that made such a positive difference in people’s lives and enabled them to move forward on their own.


We also gave a few awards.  Mind you, there were no golden statuettes involved.  And no one was taking notes!!  So, please forgive any failures to recognize the best in any category. For earliest arrival, per the guest book, Jodi Aldini was recognized.  We also saw Cody and Bettina Dolinsek helping with set up long before guests crossed the threshold.  For longest distance travelled, Jolene Horstman from Olathe, Kansas, and Victoria Kollmann from Wisconsin shared first place.  I could hear much discussion of who, among those present, was the longest-tenured at the Department.  I know Harlan Freerksen was a 40-plus-year employee, and others, i.e., Mark West and Doug Cole, were chiming in similar numbers.


A significant reason why everything came together so well was the experience, expertise and shepherding offered by Carolyn and Mike Hicklin.  Carolyn has the talent to organize and prepare for any eventuality.  And Mike anticipated every possibility or told us not to worry and helped us make the best use of a space new to all.


Thanks, too, to all the guests who helped set up and / or tear down and clean up.  Someone, who shall remain nameless, took away a bag of our oversupply of garbage to discard in her own bin!


We have heard from many folks since late October that they look forward to another reunion.  It’s not a sure thing or calendared yet.  But should we have a second party, we will be calling on all who joined us and other friends and colleagues to help create another memorable occasion.



IDB Director’s Report

Emily Wharton


The IDB Library has a couple of exciting new initiatives I’d like to highlight. This summer, the IMC began offering Braille Transcriber Courses for Educators. They had seen an increase in paraeducators transcribing materials for students. Because we know that individuals who do not receive training in Braille transcription tend to produce Braille that contains errors and is otherwise hard to read, the IMC wanted To make sure that these educators have a good foundation to be able to produce quality Braille for their students. 

The transcriber training is broken down into two sections. Course 1 covers Lessons 1- 12 in the National Library Service for the Blind and Print Disabled Instruction Manual for Braille Transcribing. It introduces Braille and transcription. Our certified Braille transcribers on staff are serving as mentors as the participants work through both the lessons in the manual and online class resources that our staff created to supplement the manual. 17 participants registered for the first offering of course one. This course ends in December. 


Participants who complete course 1 can then continue on to course 2 which covers Lessons 13- 20 in the NLS Instruction Manual for Braille Transcribing. This course also includes the submission of the final manuscript to be reviewed for certification. Course 2 begins in January. The IMC has received enough interest to offer another section of Course 1 starting in January as well. 


The IMC Team and Denise Bean have created a program for classrooms and school libraries called Book Bundles. These bundles have 10 books each in braille or print/braille or large print. They are checked out to the classroom or school library monthly, giving them a small collection to make available to their blind students. This allows these students to browse options during free reading time just as their classmates do. Denise has also added visiting school libraries and classrooms to her outreach. More information can be found on the library blog and the IMC Blog.


In addition to Commission Board meetings, there are several other regularly scheduled opportunities to learn about what is happening with IDB programs and services. Independent Living (IL) Forums are an opportunity to get in-depth updates regarding the IL program and give feedback to the IL team. These forums are recorded and released as podcasts. For links to all the IDB podcasts, visit our podcast page. The next IL Forum will be held at 1:00 p.m. on February 14th. 


People can also keep up-to-date on IDB activities through the monthly Director’s Forum, which is held on the 4th Tuesday of every month at noon. Due to the holiday, the December forum was held on December 19th. The Elected Committee of Blind Vendors meets generally at 3:00 p.m. on the first Tuesday of each month via Zoom. This is a great way to learn about what is happening in the Business Enterprise Program. To receive a Zoom link for this meeting, contact Dorothy Gerischer, VR/BEP Secretary, at dorothy.gerischer@blind.state.ia.us  or (515) 240-1818.




Library Corner

the Iowa Library for the Blind and Print Disabled


Are you interested in a Braille calendar?  The National Library Service for the Blind and Print Disabled can provide braille and print/braille calendars to library patrons.  Calendars are available in two sizes.  The larger wall calendar is print/Braille, while the smaller pocket-sized calendar is Braille only.  Patrons can get both calendars if they wish!  Please contact the Iowa Library for the Blind and Print Disabled at 515-281-1323 to subscribe to the calendar of your choice.  Once you are subscribed, you will continue to receive the calendar each year unless you stop your subscription.  


Save the date!  The Iowa Regional Braille Challenge will be held Saturday, February 24, 2024, at the Iowa Department for the Blind.  Braille readers in grades 1-12 from Iowa will gather to test their Braille skills in five categories:  reading comprehension, braille spelling, charts and graphs reading, proofreading, and braille speed and accuracy.  Winners of the Iowa Regional Braille Challenge may go on to compete in the national finals in California!  The theme for 2024 is “Braille is Beautiful.”  This year, following the competition, there will be a fun, Braille themed activity guaranteed to put smiles on competitors’ faces.  Participants will visit with an author, build their very own stuffed animal, and create their own story.


The Library has two popular programs that are entering their second year.  Peek-A-Box and Story Box both began in January of 2023 and are going strong!  Peek-A-Box offers patrons ages 18 years and older a monthly box of books and goodies just for them.  Each month patrons in the program receive a special box filled with books – audio or braille or large print – and goodies centered around a theme.  Books to borrow and goodies to keep!  The Story Box program offers young patrons, ages 0-18 years old a monthly box of books and themed-selected gifts that highlight the Youth Library’s nine book neighborhoods:  Favorites, Our World, Stories, Fairy and Folk Tales, Concepts, Transportation, Rhymes and Songs, Nature, and Celebrations.  Don’t miss out on these fun programs!  You might find some new favorite books!  Call the library to get signed up today!!

In the mood for a holiday or winter themed book?  Look no further!

My True Love Gave to Me by Stephanie Perkins DB80242 / BR20593

The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden DB87310 / BRG04006

Skipping Christmas by John Grisham DB52929 / BR13636

The Winter People by Jennifer McMahon DB78879 / BR20793

The Christmas Shoes by Donna VanLiere DB58657 / BRD22066


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.


 

A Smile…

Becky Criswell Olsen


So simple

So natural

Spontaneous and irrepressible.


It warms the heart

soothes the soul

lifts a heavy spirit.


It can burst forth with joy.

It can offer tenderness to sorrow

It can be big and broad

It can be a tentative and gentle


Its language is universal

unfettered by words

understood by the heart


It is the heart's eternal rainbow

An offering and a receiving


The more you smile

The more you smile


It will always be so.



News You Can Use

Norma A. Boge


Now that cold weather is here, check out the schedule of USA Audio-Described TV Programs Produced by the American Council of the Blind’s Audio Description Project. Browse the weekly schedule, which is updated every five minutes, at:  http://bit.ly/adptv 

Want to order an Uber ride but don’t have a smartphone? You have options! You can call 1-833-USE-UBER (1-833-873-8237) 7 days a week, from 3am to 9 pm CT. Another option is to request an Uber ride online via m.uber.com , whether that’s on an older phone with Internet browsing capability, a tablet, laptop or public desktop computer with Internet access, such as in a public library.


NVDA, the robust and free screen reader, has launched yet another major feature improvement. AI-Content-Describer is an NVDA Add-On which makes it possible to obtain detailed descriptions of images and other visually inaccessible content. Even if you use another screen reader, why not install this package and experience AI for yourself! Download NVDA at https://www.nvaccess.org/download/ . Read more about the add-on at https://groups.io/g/tech-vi/message/5621 .


In an effort to enhance accessibility, TuneIn's extensive catalog of music, podcasts, live sports and more is now available through HumanWare's VR Stream 3 at: 


Radio G lets you listen to online radio stations from 210 countries / territories and in 283 languages as advertised in their Google Play description at: https://accessibleandroid.com/app/radio-g .


Accessible COVID Tests are again available. For more information, visit https://acl.gov/accessibletests .


Recordings of the 2023 Let’s Go Shopping event are now available. Get acquainted with hardworking, passionate entrepreneurs with disabilities. Hear their stories, their mission, and their best gift ideas for holiday shopping at: https://rb.gy/ndfffa .


A new mail client, Betterbird, bills itself as a fine-tuned version of Mozilla Thunderbird—Thunderbird on steroids, if you will. It claims to be better than Thunderbird in three ways: It contains new features exclusive to Betterbird, it contains bug fixes exclusive to Betterbird, and it contains fixes that Thunderbird may ship at a later stage. Find information at:  https://www.betterbird.eu/ 



Crockpot Meatballs with Grape Jelly and Chili Sauce

Carrie Chapman


Ingredients:

32-ounce bag frozen meatballs

12-ounce jar of chili sauce

18-ounce jar of grape jelly 

½ teaspoon each of onion powder, garlic powder, and black pepper


Instructions:

Add your grape jelly, chili sauce, onion powder, garlic powder and black pepper to your crock pot and mix well.

Add meatballs to the sauce and mix together. Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours or on high for 3-4 hours, until the sauce is hot.


Recipe from: Crockpot Meatballs with Grape Jelly and Chili Sauce (slowcookermeals.com).


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 you have questions or your wishes are more complex, you or your attorney can contact ICUB by calling 866-436-0141 or through the webpage at: www.icublind.org .

 


Across Iowa Chapter Report

Don Wirth


The Across Iowa Chapter (AI) meets the first Thursday of every month at 7:00 p.m. via Zoom.  Everyone is welcome to join us.


In October we focused on literacy.  April Enderton of the Beulah Reimers Legacy Company talked about the dual vision braille/print books they create. She talked about how to order them and that they distribute free copies to newborns. Then Karen Keninger spoke about the 10th anniversary of the Marrakesh treaty that permits libraries for the blind and print disabled to share books among countries.


In November we shared experiences about activities we participated in that sighted people would not expect blind folks to do. Some of the experiences were ax throwing, driving go-carts, overseeing the construction of a house on a rural acreage, and leadership in organizations of composed primarily of sighted people.


In December we had our holiday get together with storytelling and sharing. We wrapped up the session with a bingo party to test this activity for possible regular bingo sessions.


Des Moines Chapter Report

Cody Dolinsek


The Des Moines Chapter of ICUB continues to think about its vision of being both a supportive organization of and for the blind as well as fostering community-mindedness among its members.  Regarding the former of these goals, we participated in legislative meetings, making our voices heard about the potentially disastrous effects of the governor’s Realignment Bill on the Iowa Department for the Blind.  We did not win that fight, but those of us who could attend the public meetings did so.  Many of us also wrote letters and emails to our legislators to encourage them to vote in ways that addressed our concerns.  


In March, our Des Moines Chapter hosted Representatives Heather Matson and Eddie Andrews to raise awareness again of the limitations faced by blind Iowans regarding the inaccessibility of the absentee ballot.  In September, we invited Iowa Senator Sarah Trone Garriott to join us over Zoom to discuss ways to further our involvement with legislative issues of concern to us.  


Regarding our efforts to promote community-mindedness, we participated in our annual packaging of food with Meals from the Heartland. We also enjoyed our annual Trivia Bowl with one another at Felix and Oscar’s, raising money that the winning team donated to its favorite charity.  


It is a privilege to serve as president of the Des Moines Chapter.  It would be remiss of me not to single out other individuals who regularly help to ensure that things happen in a timely fashion and to guarantee that I do not make ill-advised and uninformed decisions.  I make special mention of Lori Trujillo Roush, Carrie Chapman, Linda Gonzalez, Steve Hagemoser, and Donna Seliger.  Each of these individuals helps in invaluable ways to make this Chapter run smoothly.  My overriding sentiment is one of gratitude.  



To obtain a current list of State Board members and Chapter Presidents, including their contact information, go to our website, icublind.org, and click on the “Who We Are” link.  You can also get this information by emailing us through the form at the bottom of our website page. 


The ICUB Bulletin is available in large print, via e-mail, and on an NLS-compliant digital audio cartridge.  To subscribe to the cartridge edition, please contact the Iowa Department for the Blind Library at 515-281-1323 or 800-362-2587, option 2.  Please direct other questions about format choice and address changes to Co-Editor Sandy Tigges.  

ICUB offers a BIG thank you to Catherine Witte for so meticulously proofreading each issue, as well as to everyone else who plays a part in producing the Bulletin. 


Copyright 2024 Iowa Council of the United Blind, Inc.

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