Spring 2010 Bulletin



Published by


Web Site: www.acb.org/iowa

Affiliate of the American Council of the Blind

Robert Spangler, President

1505 W. 4th St.

Vinton, IA 52349

(319) 472-4843

E-MAIL: Ka0wjz@commspeed.net

Mike Hoenig, Editor

3119 Spring St.

Davenport, IA 52807


E-Mail: mhoenig@q.com

Jo Ann Slayton, Secretary

4013 30th St.

Des Moines, IA 50310

(515) 279-4284 – home

(515) 710-7875 – cell

E-Mail: slayton4284@msn.com

Ruth E. Hamdorf, Treasurer

439 Lindale Drive, #218

Marion, IA 52302

(319) 373-8608 – Home

E- Mail: elliewag@q.com


Robert Spangler, President - Vinton, (319) 472-4843

Donna Seliger, Immediate Past President - Des Moines,

(515) 284-0505

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

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

Jo Ann Slayton, Secretary - Des Moines, (515) 279-4284

Ruth Hamdorf, Treasurer - Marion, (319) 373-8608

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

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

Shirley Wiggins, Director - Cedar Rapids, (319) 550-6096

Stephanie Hunolt, Director – Kirksville, (660) 665-2404

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

Gary Patterson, Director –Des Moines, (515) 278-2686

Dove Tanner, Director – Cedar Rapids, (319) 364-7128

Frank Strong, Director –Des Moines, (515) 285-7254


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


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


Are you trying to decide how to dispose of a used vehicle? ICUB's Used Vehicle Donation Program offers the perfect solution. Your vehicle will be picked up from your home and sold at auction, with a portion of the proceeds going directly to ICUB. You claim a tax deduction equal to the dollar value of the vehicle. To donate or to learn more, call 800-899-4925.


Editor's Line

ICUB 2010 Convention in Retrospect

Resolutions Passed at the 2010 ICUB State Convention

Iowa Braille School Marched Its Way into History Books

Is Our Education Important?

Strong Selected for International Arts Fest

Digital Talking Books – Year One

Braille Challenge Update

In Memoriam

Margaret Meyer

Kathleen "Kay" Valen

Chapter Reports

Des Moines Update

Cedar Rapids Update

How Do You Spell It?

Recipe Corner

Editor's Line

By Mike Hoenig

Another convention is in the books! A big thank-you to the convention planning and arrangements committees for all the up-front and behind-the-scenes work. Each task, whether signing the contract with the hotel or providing transportation across town to pick up a last-minute item, is essential to a smooth, successful convention. A special thank-you to Donna Seliger for her convention summary which serves as this issue's lead article. Donna, you did a terrific job of summing it all up while saving the Bulletin editor a lot of time!

At our business meeting on Sunday morning, conventioneers offered two suggestions for the Bulletin which I am happy to implement. "How Do You Spell It" will give the correct spelling of words, names or phrases which we may frequently hear but not have occasion to read. "Recipe Corner" is self-explanatory. I welcome and encourage your submissions for both columns. If "Recipe Corner" generates sufficient interest, we'll add a "Recipe Review" section in which you can tell the readership what you thought about a recipe you tried.

Thanks to those of you who submitted your chapter reports. I implore those of you who did not to set aside some time each quarter to write an update on your activities. It doesn't have to be long, and if you'd prefer to do it by phone as Elsie Monthei did this time, that's great! I recently subscribed to the "Missouri Chronicle," quarterly publication of the Missouri Council of the Blind (MCB). It’s through those chapter reports that I really learn what makes MCB tick!

I'm anxiously awaiting the ACB convention in Phoenix to be held July 11-17. I'll be going out early in order to realize my dream of visiting the Grand Canyon. Tell you all about it in the next issue.


By Donna Seliger

The lobby of the Holiday Inn and Suites in Des Moines was a busy place on Friday, April 30. As members checked in at the front desk, they chatted with old friends and met new ones.

Down the hall ICUB’s treasurer, Ruth Hamdorf was handing out agendas, meal tickets and information. Ruth was assisted by a number of people throughout the convention with registration.

The convention got off to a fun start with Mike Hoenig throwing out trivia questions to two teams. Everyone had a great time again this year.

The first meeting of the 23rd annual convention began at 8:00pm with Robert Spangler, President, presiding. A five-member nominating committee was chosen with Donna Seliger as Chair. President Spangler appointed a three-member Audit Committee and our special guest, Mitch Pomerantz, President of the American Council of the Blind, gave a national update. Pomerantz began by explaining that thanks to the hard work of many advocates and ACB's attorneys, the Social Security Administration must now provide statements and other pertinent information in accessible formats to beneficiaries. As one might expect in this digital era, access to communication (websites, audio book readers, and on-screen menus) is demanding a great deal of attention. ACB continues to work with other advocacy groups, including NFB, to reach a solution to the pedestrian safety issues surrounding "quiet cars."

Of course, Hospitality followed with lots of conversation and singing accompanied by Frank Strong on the guitar. Several members donated a variety of delicious snacks.

On Saturday we began by listening to a panel of Karin Ford, a Disability Consultant from the Department of Public Health, Robert Spangler, Emergency Manager in Benton County and Shirley Wiggins, a 2008 Cedar Rapids Flood Victim. Following the presentations, many questions were asked of the panelists. For many of us, Shirley’s re-play of her experience was overwhelming.

As this is the 20th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, Mitch Pomerantz was asked to speak on the subject. Mitch is now retired from a 34-year job as ADA Consultant with the City of Los Angeles. He gave an overview of the history of the ADA, explaining how it has impacted blind and visually impaired people and improvements which could be made.

Senator Harkin (D) sent a personal video in lieu of a spokesperson from his office.

The morning rounded out with the annual report from the Iowa Department for the Blind's Independent Living Program's Becky Criswell. She replayed some stories about clients she had encountered and helped to keep their independence. Becky has been a welcome guest on our agenda for the past several years.

The annual luncheon was especially enjoyable this year. Mary Swander, Iowa’s Poet Laureate, read from one of her works and enlightened the audience with short tales about her class and how they became involved in making art accessible. The Marie Hoenig Memorial Award was presented to Kadyn Haggard, a second grader from Humboldt who was delightful and excited about having his own Perkins Brailler.

After lunch everyone gathered for the annual elections. This year all officers and four Director Positions were up for election as well as one Director Position to fill a one-year term. Those elected were: President, Robert Spangler; First Vice President, Creig Slayton; Second Vice President, Mike Hoenig; Secretary, Jo Ann Slayton and Treasurer, Ruth Hamdorf. The four Directors elected were: Joyce Davis, Stephanie Hunolt, Dove Tanner and Shirley Wiggins. All of the above positions will expire in 2012. Since Dove Tanner replaced Ruth Hamdorf when she became Treasurer, a one-year position was open. Frank Strong was elected to fill that position.

The next presenter, Mike Hicklin, Iowa Department for the Blind Building Manager, chronicled the history of the building that sits at the corner of Fourth Street and Watson Powell (formerly Keo). It has undergone a number of renovations through the years including the restoration of the Rec Room so now it looks much as it did in the early years.

ICUB welcomed 13-year-old Tyler Juranek who was a delight to all of us. He talked enthusiastically about his computer skills and his interest in ACB Radio. By the end of his presentation, during which he demonstrated a variety of technology and computer applications, most of us felt like dinosaurs!

We heard from Louise Duvall, President of the Friends of the Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped. She reported the Friends group received donations and the proceeds from the annual garage sale to donate a check to the Library for $10,000. Membership in Friends has exceeded 100. The funds will help with the children’s Summer Reading Club, production of sacred texts, and other projects the Library has planned.

Superintendent Patrick Clancy from the Iowa Braille and Sight Saving School answered questions and addressed concerns ICUB members had pertaining to the possible closing of the school. He noted that the 2010 Iowa Legislature asked the Board of Regents to convene a study committee which is charged with making recommendations to the Legislative Council by August 31, 2010, regarding the future of residential services in Iowa. Committee membership is comprised of the presidents of ICUB and NFBI, parents of children with visual impairments, and representatives of a variety of state-level organizations such as the Iowa Department of Education and the Iowa Department of Human Services. Meeting agendas and minutes are available on the Iowa Board of Regents website.

The final presenter, Karen Keninger, Director of the Iowa Department for the Blind, made a few remarks and then asked each Department Supervisor to report on his/her area. Director Keninger explained that so far, the Department has not had to cut positions and went on to say that this may not be the case next year. She noted the many celebrations planned throughout the year to recognize anniversaries of the library and Independent Living program. In offering the library update, Beth Hirst recognized our own Rose Stratton for receiving the Florence Grannis Award for her volunteer work as a proofreader.

This year’s banquet was well attended by members, friends and families. Arlo Monthei emceed with a variety of humor. We were honored to have the President of the American Council of the Blind with us. He covered several topics of interest during his time at the microphone and echoed Tyler Juranek's message about the importance of advocacy.

Each year one of our members is honored with the Linda Dietrich Volunteer Award. This year I, Donna Seliger, was shocked and surprised to receive this coveted award.

On Sunday morning, Shirley Wiggins officiated over the non-denominational memorial service.

The ICUB business meeting was held with reports from the Secretary, Jo Ann Slayton, who read all of last year’s minutes; Ruth Hamdorf, Treasurer, who reported on ICUB’s assets and Bulletin Editor Mike Hoenig, who thanked everyone who wrote articles and those responsible for copying and sending out cassette tapes and large print versions of each issue.

Creig Slayton, Resolutions Chair, read three resolutions which were approved by the assembly. Mike Hoenig read a fourth on the subject of IBSSS which was also approved. Resolutions are reprinted at the end of this article.

Each chapter was given the opportunity to report on its activities and upcoming events.

Robert Spangler, president of the IBSSS Alumni Association invited all to attend the reunion to be held June 10-13, 2010 at the school. Conventioneers held a lengthy discussion of the need to grow ICUB's membership. President Spangler appointed Shirley Wiggins to chair a membership committee.

Cedar Rapids, Des Moines, Dubuque and Fort Dodge chapters each donated $25 for the final door prize. This year it was won by Dove Tanner of Cedar Rapids. Congratulations Dove.

Keep checking the Bulletin for updates on the 2011 ICUB Convention.



SUBJECT: Audio Information Services.

WHEREAS, The Iowa Council of the United Blind recognizes the need for audio information services to assist blind persons with current topical information; and

WHEREAS, The Commission for the Blind has long recognized two audio information services serving distinct separate populations of blind Iowans through monetary and staff support; and

WHEREAS, The Iowa Radio Reading Information Service for the Blind and Print Handicapped (IRIS), principally serving older and technologically-challenged blind persons with recorded newspapers and periodicals over a radio signal provided by Iowa Public Radio and other private radio stations; and

WHEREAS, Newsline is the other service providing newspapers and periodicals over the telephone using synthesized speech with interactive control by the listener; and

WHEREAS, The Iowa Council of the United Blind recognizes the need for both of these services in order to serve all blind Iowans equally;

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, by The Iowa Council of the United Blind in convention assembled in Des Moines this second day of May 2010, that this organization calls on the three-member Commission for the Blind to affirm through policy that these two audio information services serve separate, but equally important segments of the Iowa population; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the three-member Commission for the Blind require through policy that both of these important services be treated equally when developing funding and other staff support; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that when dealing with the Iowa Legislature Commission staff be instructed to clearly inform legislators regarding these policies; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the President and Board of Directors of this organization be directed to disseminate this resolution where appropriate.


SUBJECT: Accessible Mass Transit

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

WHEREAS, it has come to this organization’s attention that it has become increasingly more difficult for persons who do not drive to access both buses and trains for travel between cities because of the location and business hours of depots and stations, for example, it has become fashionable to locate bus depots adjacent to interstate highways or when they are in the central city, restricting their operational hours to 12 or less, making it difficult for non-drivers to effectively use these modes of transportation; and

WHEREAS, train stations exhibit some of the same problems as they are few and far between and can be located in small communities without other transportation;

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, by The Iowa Council of the United Blind in convention assembled in the city of Des Moines this second day of May 2010, that this organization calls upon transportation carriers and governmental bodies to seriously consider where depots and stations are located;, and

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

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


SUBJECT: Iowa Braille and Sight Saving School

WHEREAS, The Iowa Braille and Sight Saving School (hereinafter referred to as IBSSS) has educated blind children through its residential programming established in 1852 and housed in Vinton since 1862, once enjoying a reputation of being one of the top-rated schools in the country; and

WHEREAS, The number of students in residence at the school has dwindled from a peak of over 200 to nine, with a further reduction anticipated during the 2010-11 school year; and

WHEREAS, Students educated in public schools continually report feeling isolated from their peers without sufficient opportunities to participate in extracurricular activities; and

WHEREAS, Time constraints placed upon itinerant Teachers of the Visually Impaired make it impossible for mainstreamed students to receive adequate expanded core curriculum instruction, thereby leaving students with independent living and social skills deficits; and

WHEREAS, Federal law requires that all states offer a continuum of educational placements, including residential placement, to blind and visually impaired children; and

WHEREAS, a number of states, including Ohio, Washington, Alabama, Arkansas and Massachusetts operate residential schools which consistently demonstrate high student achievement levels; and

WHEREAS, Short-term placements at IBSSS have proven highly successful for many mainstreamed blind children in Iowa; and

Whereas, Iowa Administrative Code Section 270.10 stipulates that IBSSS shall be closed no sooner than two years following a thorough legislative study; and

WHEREAS, the 2010 Iowa General Assembly has asked the Iowa Board of Regents to appoint a committee to study the future of IBSSS and issue recommendations to the Legislative Council by August 31, 2010; and

WHEREAS, IBSSS superintendent Patrick Clancy has informed parents of current IBSSS students not to anticipate availability of a residential program in Vinton for the 2011-12 school year; and

WHEREAS, Elimination of the residential program in 2011 violates Iowa Administrative Code Section 270.10; and

WHEREAS, Significant human and capital resources critical to the education of blind and visually impaired children remain in Vinton;

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED BY THE IOWA COUNCIL of the UNITED BLIND in convention assembled in Des Moines this second day of May 2010, that this organization direct its representative serving on the Legislative Study Committee to strongly oppose the elimination of residential programming in Iowa; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that ICUB's committee representative be directed to demand that Iowa comply with Federal statutes requiring a continuum of educational options, including a residential option; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization strongly advocate the position that a final recommendation be deferred to the full legislature, rather than the Legislative Council; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the ICUB Committee representative support this organization's position that a residential component be retained at the present IBSSS campus in Vinton; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization send a letter articulating these positions to Regents President David Miles, Department of Education Interim Director Kevin Fangman, Governor Chet Culver, Senate President Jack Kibbie, and House Speaker Pat Murphy.