Spring 2012 Bulletin

ICUB BULLETIN

SPRING 2012

Published by

IOWA COUNCIL OF THE UNITED BLIND

Web Site: www.acb.org/iowa

Affiliate of the American Council of the Blind


Robert Spangler, President

1505 West Fourth Street

Vinton, IA 52349

(319) 472-4843

E-MAIL: Ka0wjz@q.com


Mike Hoenig, Editor

3119 Spring St.

Davenport, IA 52807

563-344-8787

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


Stephanie Hunolt, Treasurer

1505 West Fourth Street

Vinton, IA 52349

(660) 216-4369 – cell

E-Mail: Msmouse74@sbcglobal.net


ICUB OFFICERS AND DIRECTORS


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

Stephanie Hunolt, Treasurer – Vinton, (660) 665-2404

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



CHANGE OF FORMAT OR RETURNING CASSETTES

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!


SELECTING ICUB AS A BENEFICIARY


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



DONATING YOUR VEHICLE TO BENEFIT ICUB


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.


LIST OF TOPICS


Editor's Line

A Letter to Louis Braille

Prison Inmates Create Braille Materials for

Students across California

South African Chain Reaches Out to Visually

Impaired with "Braille Burgers"

Blind Beatitudes

CDC Report Finds Large Decline In Lower-Limb

Amputations Among U.S. Adults With Diagnosed Diabetes

Braille Sudoku Now Available

Churches Reach Out To Blind

At Perkins, Applause For Stamps Honoring Service Dogs

Branstad, Reynolds Urge Preparation, Launch Website

reminding Iowans of "N11" codes in advance of storm season

In Memoriam

H. Robert (Bobby) Palmer

Dubuque Association Of The Blind Update

Recipe Corner


EDITOR’S LINE

By Mike Hoenig


As I write this, the Cardinal baseball game is playing in the background-a sure sign of spring. Another important sign of spring is the ICUB State Conference and Convention to be held May 18-20 at the Holiday Inn Hotel and Suites, 4800 Merle Hay Road, Des Moines.


This will be a very special convention, as ICUB will be celebrating its 25th birthday! Several events are planned to celebrate this milestone. Robert Spangler and Mike Hoenig are preparing questions with a 1987 theme for Friday night's Trivia Challenge. You'll be able to enjoy a piece of birthday cake at Hospitality, which will immediately follow Friday night's opening session. Throughout convention, veteran ICUB members will share memories of how ICB came into existence and reflect upon our many accomplishments. I'm personally looking forward to Shirley talking about those first meetings and Rose talking about her days as editor of "The Trumpet's Voice." Remember that great newsletter? Twenty-fifth anniversary mugs will be used as nut cups for the banquet and will be available for sale throughout convention. Come prepared to share your ICUB memories.


Carla Ruschival, ACB Treasurer and a long-time advocate in the blindness field, will be our ACB rep this year. You'll enjoy Carla's passion, outgoing nature, humor, and commitment to quality services for blind people. You'll want to ask her about the work which she and her husband, Adam, have done to preserve Kentucky's residential school for the blind.


Saturday is chock full of presentations, and you'll again have time to peruse the exhibits. Elections are especially important this year, as they will include all officer positions, four board seats, and delegate and alternate to the ACB Convention. We hope to introduce the Iowa Department for the Blind's new director during the IDB annual update. Back by popular demand, our program will include a session called "These are a Few of Our Favorite Things." Come with your favorite gadgets, tips, tricks, and websites in mind to share!


The planning committee has done another outstanding job with food selections. For lunch, you'll be able to choose from a club or veggie sandwich and soup. Our dinner choices are whiskey sirloin with twice-baked potato or pasta primavera.


It seems that our attendance is often low on Sunday morning, and that's a real shame. Shirley does an excellent job of honoring those who have passed since our last convention. Plus, it's the one time during the year when members from across the state can come together to discuss the business of the organization. Please make a commitment to hang in there and attend Sunday's events.


You should have received, or soon be receiving, your pre-registration form. In order to take advantage of the $5 pre-registration discount and ensure your luncheon and banquet ticket, you MUST return it by May 4. You may also make room reservations by calling the Holiday Inn at 515-278-4755 or 800-465-4329. Be sure to mention ICUB in order to receive the convention rate of $79 per night plus tax for a standard room.


Creig Slayton will again chair the Resolutions Committee. He asks that you send your resolutions to him at least two weeks prior to Convention at slayton4284@msn.com. This will facilitate the committee being able to complete its work in a timely manner.


I wish to publicly congratulate Karen Keninger on her appointment to the position of Director of the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped. It was gratifying to see the turn-out for Karen's farewell reception. The process for selecting the new director has been intense, educational, and constructive.


I wish you all a good Spring, and look forward to seeing you in Des Moines!


A LETTER TO LOUIS BRAILLE

By Ketan Kothari

(Retrieved from the ACB Listserv, January 4, 2012.)

(Editor's Note: Ketan Kothari lives in India.)


Dear Uncle Louis,


I am happy to celebrate the 203rd anniversary of your birth and would like to gratefully acknowledge your contribution in my life. In fact, it is only due to you that I am what I am today. You probably could not have imagined at the time when you created a totally new script the monumental development that it was. But let me assure you that you are God for most of us especially in places where people are not living in palaces and owning large properties. Your script is the greatest gift that has been bestowed upon us.


In these days of so-called modernization, it has become fashionable to look down upon your invention as either out of date or even worse, archaic but those that talk that way do not realize what mistakes they are committing. In fact, it is only through your contribution that more and more of us who are deprived of light have been experiencing the divine light and live our lives with a fair amount of success.


I have always believed that even when people will give up your script (hopefully that day will never come) you will still have won as the contribution that you have made in our lives is indelible. Even today when computers and other media have come about, people are still talking of Electronic Braille displays. And yes, there is no alternative for reading and writing and no other technology will equip the poorest of the poor amongst the blind to access the printed word.


Let me thank you for the immeasurable hours of pleasure you have given to fill my solitude with the treasures of the creation of the greatest authors and poets resulting in broadening the vistas of my knowledge. You have filled void in my life on days when I had given up on life and only through reading some of the greatest works of literature I have been inspired to continue.


On another note, in the world filled with parochial conflicts, Uncle Louis, yours is probably the only script that can be written in any language of the world and if it were used by all we would rid the world of the conflicts that have created havoc in our lives.


I am extremely pained to read about the treatment meted out to you in your lifetime but unfortunately the world is a place where mere mortals have always failed to recognize great souls and later worshipped them as Gods.


There has been a fashion to find out alternatives for your script but let me assure you that those of us who have benefitted by your invention will never let this happen. Braille has a place that is very difficult to be taken by anyone, least of all by scripts that are very rudimentary.


Dear Uncle, on this 200th anniversary of yours, let me share with you one secret: the linguistic skills that I possess have all been developed by you and had it not been for you I cannot imagine my status. I am horrified when I hear that these days' children are discouraged from learning "literacy" but as Jesus Christ had said: “God forgive them for they know not what they are doing”. I hope that God will send you back amongst us and save my brethren. People are not even aware of the immense loss that they are suffering.


May God let the better senses prevail. I cannot thank you enough for making me what I am and let me assure you that till the last day of my life I will work for the propagation of your great script and will create awareness amongst all classes of people about its efficacy and utility. May God grant you the highest place in his divine abode and may you come to us one more time to recreate the great atmosphere for the literacy of my brethren.



PRISON INMATES CREATE BRAILLE MATERIALS FOR STUDENTS ACROSS CALIFORNIA

By Cindy Von Quednow

(Retrieved from the ACB Listserv, January 3, 2012.)


BLYTHE - When Casey Tuley leaves Ironwood State Prison in January after nine years of incarceration, he will be the first of 21 inmates in a training program to walk out as a certified Braille transcriber.


Tuley, 26, works at the Blythe Prison as a contractor for a Camarillo-based production center that specializes in making Braille and electronic books for blind and disabled students in California.


"It seems like everybody is struggling out there and it's really hard, so for me to be able to leave here and actually take away something from all of this - it's huge," said Tuley, serving time for assault with a deadly weapon. "This is the only program I've ever heard of where you can actually get something out of it and use out there."


The Alternate Text Production Center Braille program, considered the cream of the jobs crop at Ironwood, is in a row of bungalows near the main prison yard. Sheltered from the sweltering desert heat, which can reach 120 degrees in the summer, the center resembles a computer lab.


On a recent weekday morning, inmates worked on three rows of computers that displayed an image of the neighboring Colorado River and read "Inmate Access Approved." The work stations had software that allowed inmates to transcribe, format and proofread Braille. They wore uniforms of blue chambray shirts and sweats. Some wore beanies and jean jackets and had tattoos covering their arms.


Through a grant, the production center pays the inmates 55 cents to $1.35 an hour, depending on their level of expertise.


During the five-year program, inmates can eventually be certified by the Library of Congress in literary Braille and learn specialized Braille texts like math and science.


The center, based in Camarillo but run under the auspices of the San Bernardino Community College District, has worked with Ironwood inmates since 2008. The center previously was at Ventura College and overseen by the Ventura County Community College District.


Seven inmates have been certified in literary Braille so far, and 13 Braille and 148 electronic books for the disabled have been produced, according to the prison. Those materials go to community colleges across the state and other institutions nationwide. The center also works with Avenal State Prison in Kings County.


If the inmates are paroled, like Tuley, they can do the work as independent contractors from wherever they live. The center will lend Tuley hardware and software so he can do the work from his planned home in Hemet.


Model inmates must take a test to get into the program. Many said it has helped transform their lives and taught them a trade they can use in a work world that often shuns ex-convicts.


Earl Pride, Ironwood's Braille coordinator, said “The program helps in the rehabilitation process and can mean a job in a rough economy and reduce recidivism. Finishing the tedious program in a prison environment shows tenacity and dedication.”


"The program has been a beacon of light in a storm. It has created hope within an institutional setting," Pride said.


HELPING INMATES HELP OTHERS


The men in the back row of the bungalow worked on a project: Each was in charge of a section of "The Little, Brown Handbook," a fixture in college English courses. Those in the middle row had finished a Braille lesson plan and were waiting to be certified. Sitting in a circle toward the front of the classroom, near a whiteboard, were inmates going through the Braille curriculum.


Among these imposing tattooed men was a petite woman with glasses who read from "The Murders in the Rue Morgue," an 1841 short story by Edgar Allan Poe. Saralyn Borboa, a Braille instructor based in San Diego who visits the prison twice a month, said a story involving a murder is more likely to keep the inmates focused and intrigued.


She helps inmates understand the nuances of Braille translation and how to convey an author's message without changing the words. On this day, Borboa, a literary specialist with the National Braille Association, discussed how to deal with foreign words that are italicized and what to do if a word cannot be found in the dictionary.


Marlene Nord, a proofreader for the production center, visited the prison for the first time last month. She showed the inmates the newest technology for blind or visually impaired people.


"I think it has made them more aware of how to make things easier to navigate because they were asking a lot of questions related to those things," said Nord, who has been blind since birth. "Everybody was so kind and so welcoming, and I was really glad I came."


Glen Kuck, an administrator for the San Bernardino college district, said he was impressed by the inmates' professionalism and dedication.


"Seeing the level of work, the education, the training and the red tape that they have to commit themselves to get through - that's huge. ... The amount they are able to do is overwhelming," Kuck said.


"It's one thing to produce Braille, but there are stories behind the people who do it as well as the people it goes to. This is an awesome project that really touches everybody."


STORIES BEHIND THE DOTS


Timothy Malone, 31, of San Jose, said the program has expanded his knowledge and helped him get away from the typical prison life.


"At first it was just dots to me, but to actually see what goes into it makes every single dot that much more important," said Malone.


His day, like the other inmates', starts at 5 a.m. Breakfast is served at 6 a.m., and the work starts at 7 a.m. The inmates get a lunch break at 10:30 a.m., and the workday usually ends about 2 p.m.


Malone said that sometimes at night, while watching TV, he'll realize he made a mistake on a book. "I can't wait to get to work the next day and change it," he said.


Rolando Rodriguez got the best birthday present he could ask for three days before he turned 36. His 16-year-old daughter, Leslie Denise, called to say she was proud of him.


"She told me something beautiful that really touched my heart. She said, 'Everything that you do encourages me to be better,' " Rodriguez said with a big smile, his voice breaking.


Rodriguez credits his daughter, who was 7 when he was incarcerated for assault with a deadly weapon against a police officer, as the reason he joined the Braille program.


"She is my motivation behind my efforts," he said. "I have to find a way to do good."


He said he sends her $50 every month with the money he earns in the program, which not only helps him regain his life but also helps students across the nation.


"It's the ultimate feeling that you can have: making a difference for someone else," Rodriguez said. "It's amazing to know the feeling that we're taking the taxpayers' income by being here, but we're actually giving back to the community. I feel useful."


Andy Enriquez grew up with the wrong crowd and got into a life of crime at a young age, he said. At 18, while in a gang, he shot and killed a person "without even thinking about it," he said. "That was the worst choice of my life."


Today at 32, he is studying the ministry and trying to steer his younger brother down a different path. He has been in the Braille program for three years and was recently certified in literary Braille.


Aside from learning how to read Braille, Enriquez said, the program has taught him how to organize files, work on deadline and multitask. He hopes one day to produce Braille books for a Christian printing company.


David Rey, 31, hopes to open a drug counseling program for troubled youths and teach them how to translate Braille.


"Having a trade like that and giving them the proper counseling will show them another way, so they don't end up here like us," said Rey, who is in prison for murder. "We took from society and now we're trying to give something back, instead of dropping dead."


When Tuley leaves prison on Jan. 11, he also plans to work as a roofer and get married. He said that after nine years in prison, he never wants to return.


"I'm going to hit the ground running," Tuley said. "I've tried to not let this place change me for the worse and tried to stay as normal as possible."




SOUTH AFRICAN CHAIN REACHES OUT TO VISUALLY IMPAIRED WITH "BRAILLE BURGERS"

By Susan Krashinsky

(Reprinted from Globe and Mail, January 14, 2012)


Advertising is such a visual medium – whether it’s 30-second spots on TV or the image onslaught of outdoor billboards and street furniture – that blind and visually-impaired consumers are, for marketers, often invisible. But South African fast food chain Wimpy is bucking the trend with an unusual marketing campaign: a Braille Burger.


Youtube video shows how it was done: a chef uses tweezers to gingerly arrange sesame seeds, one by one, on balls of dough to mimic the bumps of the Braille code. What resulted was a message baked right into the burger bun, customized for the diner who can read Braille: “100 per cent pure beef burger made for you.”

The team behind the campaign then took 15 burgers to three local organizations for the blind – Blind SA, Braille Services, and Louis Braille House.

The video is a delight to watch as those who volunteered for a nosh burst out laughing upon discovery that their food is talking to them.


The campaign was aimed at “letting people know that Wimpy is a place where everyone can feel at home,” explained the video, which was posted on YouTube by Dale Mullany, the art director behind the campaign, from agency Metropolitan Republic.


Blind SA released a statement praising the campaign on Friday. According to a rough translation, it pointed out that Wimpy has printed menus in Braille and distributed them on a national basis since 2002, but that not everyone was aware of it.


Blind SA participated in the campaign, and in its statement praised the company for sending a message that the blind are an important target market for all advertisers.


The quick-service restaurant chain kicked off a television campaign this week as well, debuting ads on Wednesday to promote the Braille menus, South African newspaper The New Age reported. The campaign got attention in Braille newsletters and online discussion forums, and the agency claims its research shows the message reached more than 800,000 visually-impaired people. (According to 2006 data, there are more than 300,000 blind people in South Africa.)


“For people who use their hands as their eyes, this is the first time they could do more than just taste their food,” the online video explained, “they could see it.”



BLIND BEATITUDES

(Retrieved from the ACB Listserv, December 20, 2011.)



BLESSED ARE THEY that refrain from shouting when they speak to me.


BLESSED ARE THEY that talk directly to me and not to some one else.


BLESSED ARE THEY that say who they are when entering a room and say hello to me.


BLESSED ARE THEY that say goodbye to me when they leave so I am not left speaking to the air.


BLESSED ARE THEY that do not hesitate to say "SEE" when talking to me.


BLESSED ARE THEY who tap my shoulder gently when they approach from behind or from the side when speaking to me.


BLESSED ARE THEY who wait for me to extend my hand before shaking it.


BLESSED ARE THEY who place my hand on an object such as the back of a chair when telling me where it is, so I can seat myself.


BLESSED ARE THEY who do not leave me in a strange environment without orienting me to it.


BLESSED ARE THEY who offer me their arm so they can serve as my guide, instead of grabbing, pulling or shoving me.


BLESSED ARE THEY who come up to me in a large crowd and offer to help me when I appear disoriented.


BLESSED ARE THEY who do not embarrass me in a group of people by openly referring to my blindness in word or action.


BLESSED ARE THEY who laugh with me when I tell a joke related to blindness.


BLESSED ARE THEY who read me the menu and its prices and allow me to order my own meal.


BLESSED ARE THEY who take me to the cashier so I may pay for my own meal.


BLESSED ARE THEY who do not distract my guide dog from being my active eyes.


BLESSED ARE THEY who treat me like a human being, for like it or not I AM a human being.


CDC REPORT FINDS LARGE DECLINE IN LOWER-LIMB AMPUTATIONS AMONG U.S. ADULTS WITH DIAGNOSED DIABETES

(Retrieved from the MCB Listserv, February 2, 2012.)


The rate of leg and foot amputations among U.S. adults aged 40 years and older with diagnosed diabetes declined by 65% between 1996 and 2008, according to a new study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Better blood glucose (sugar) control, foot care, and diabetes management, along with a drop in heart disease, likely helped cut the number of amputations, according to CDC researchers.

Despite the decline, amputation rates were still eight times higher among people with diabetes in 2008 than for people without diabetes. Nontraumatic amputations are those that do not result from an injury; diabetes is the leading cause of nontraumatic amputations of feet and legs among U.S. adults.

Diabetes complications such as nerve damage and poor circulation can lead to amputation of feet or legs. People with nerve damage may not realize they have a foot injury that needs care, because they do not feel any pain from it. Poor circulation also slows healing, and a minor injury can become so serious that it leads to amputation.

* People with diabetes should manage blood sugar to lower the risk of complications.

* People with diabetes should check their feet for sores or injuries once a day, and wear shoes that fit right and do not cause blisters.

* Health care providers should examine the feet of people with diabetes at every checkup, but at least once a year.

The age-adjusted rate of nontraumatic lower-limb amputations was 3.9 per 1,000 people with diagnosed diabetes in 2008 compared to 11.2 per 1,000 in 1996. The article, “Declining Rates of Hospitalization for Nontraumatic Lower-Extremity Amputation in the Diabetic Population Aged 40 years or Older: U.S., 1988–2008,” is in the current online issue of Diabetes Care. It was written by researchers based in CDC’s Division of Diabetes Translation.

For more information on foot care for people with diabetes, please visit www.cdc.gov/Features/DiabetesFootHealth.


BRAILLE SUDOKU NOW AVAILABLE

(Retrieved from the MCB Listserv, February 8, 2012.)


Sudoku: Easy to Hard, Volume 3 in Braille or eBraille, $6.95

100 wordless crossword puzzles! From puzzlemaster and New York Times crossword editor, Will Shortz, comes Sudoku, the “wordless crossword” puzzle that’s taken the world by storm! Once you start, you won’t want to stop. These addictive puzzles are easy to explain – just fill the grid with numbers according to the few simple rules – but incredibly fun and engaging to complete. You don’t need any math to solve them – just an inquisitive mind!


The brand-new collection features original Sudoku ranging from effortlessly easy to devilishly difficult, along with an introduction from Will Shortz that explains these fascinating puzzles and how to solve them. If you’re a crossword puzzle fan, a fan of logic puzzles, or just a puzzle lover in general, you will be engrossed and delighted with Sudoku!


Order this book – and check out links to Sudoku game boards and an online chat group: http://www.nbp.org/ic/nbp/SUDOKU.html


To order any books, send payment to: NBP, 88 St. Stephen Street, Boston, MA 02115-4302 or call and charge it toll-free (800) 548-7323 or (617) 266-6160 ext. 520. Or order any of our books online at: http://www.nbp.org/ic/nbp/publications/index.html



CHURCHES REACH OUT TO BLIND

By Megan Spees/Staff Writer

(Reprinted from The Daily Gate City, February 1, 2012.)


Two local congregations of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod are offering blind and sight-impaired residents of the Tri-State Area the chance to network with others and gain access to Braille and large-print reading material.


Messiah Lutheran Church of Keokuk and Concordia Lutheran Church of Warsaw, Ill., hosted the community’s first Lutheran Blind Center lunch meeting Thursday at Messiah. Six sight-impaired guests, a caregiver and three spouses had a baked chicken lunch prepared by the churches’ Food Committee. The gathering will be held every fourth Thursday, 10 to 12 months of the year, with the location(s) to be announced.


The Rev. Les Dumer of the Messiah and Concordia churches said those who attended last week’s meeting were pleased that the ministry is being offered locally.


The Missouri Synod has a mission center and library in St. Louis for the blind and sight-impaired. Literature is produced by volunteers, often by request.


At Dumer’s first church assignment in Kansas during the 1960s, he inquired about a large-print hymnal for a nursing home where he was conducting services. No such item was available, so Dumer sent a list of hymns. Today, the hymnal is in its fourth printing.


Outreach to the blind and sight-impaired throughout the Missouri Synod is 65 centers strong and growing. Each location is supported by a local congregation.

The center, which does not have a brick-and-mortar location, has enough money to prepare meals for the next several months.


“We have also received promises of funds from two non-church organizations,” Dumer said. “We are learning of more blind and sight-impaired people in both Iowa and Illinois.”


Blind Center Council members Dumer, the Rev. John Abraham of Sandusky United Methodist Church and Melrose United Methodist Church, Don Hagmeier, Bob Mason and Betty Redenius will meet once a month.


Those who want to attend the lunches or obtain reading material don’t have to be members of a Lutheran church or any other congregation. For more information, call 309-737-6215.



AT PERKINS, APPLAUSE FOR STAMPS HONORING SERVICE DOGS

By Cindy Cantrell, Globe Correspondent

(Reprinted from The Boston Globe, February 9, 2012.)


Anne DeFeo, 73, with "the love of my life," her guide dog, Viv. "She's the love of my life, and she loves me. We're joined at the hip," DeFeo said of her 4 1/2-year-old yellow Labrador retriever, Viv.


On Valentine's Day, DeFeo and Viv will participate with other guide dogs and their owners in a ceremony at Perkins honoring the US Postal Service for its new 65-cent "Dogs at Work" series of stamps. The series depicts a guide dog, therapy dog, military tracking dog, and search-and-rescue dog, and celebrates the "enduring partnership between dogs and people." Designed by Postal Service art director, Howard E. Paine, the four stamps feature original paintings by John M. Thompson, an illustration professor at Syracuse University.

Television newscaster Randy Price will emcee the 1:30 p.m. ceremony Tuesday in the historic Howe Building on the Perkins campus, 175 North Beacon St.


The event will include speakers on the importance of guide and service dogs in their lives, and a presentation by Perkins Elder Book Club members on "Thunder Dog," a true story recounted by Michael Hingson about a guide dog's heroics on Sept. 11, 2001.


There will be gift bags of dog biscuits made by Perkins students, and the presentation of a plaque to Boston's postmaster, James Holland, in honor of the Postal Service's longtime commitment to the blind and visually impaired.


DeFeo will be there as a person with first-hand knowledge of the bond between guide dogs and their owners. "She's meant a whole new life of independence for me," said DeFeo, describing the confidence she feels from Viv’s presence, guiding her almost imperceptibly. "I'm a people person, and now I'm never alone. My pal is always right by my side. She's just the best."


Watertown resident Kim Charlson, director of the Braille and Talking Book Library at Perkins, coordinated the event after learning about the stamps. Through the Postal Service's free delivery of reading material and sound recordings for the blind, the library serves 25,000 people across Massachusetts who cannot read ordinary printed material due to visual impairment, reading disability, or physical disability. "We wouldn't be able to do what we do without the post office," said Charlson, who will attend the event with her 3 1/2-year-old guide dog, Dolly, a 44-pound German shepherd who accompanies her to conferences nationwide. Charlson said she estimates that there are 100,000 residents who would qualify to use the library's free services and materials such as large print, Braille, and digital audio books and magazines, but aren't aware of its existence.


"Events like this help get the word out that the library is here and we can help," she added. "So many borrowers say they don't know what they'd do without access to books and reading. It makes such a difference to their quality of life."


Canton resident Dave Lynn, the Blinded Veterans Association representative to the Braille and Talking Book Library, will be accompanied Tuesday by his 6-year-old guide dog, Blazer, a red Doberman pinscher. Lynn, whose degenerative retinitis pigmentosa forced him to medically retire from his 14-year Air Force career in 2003, will share the steps involved in being matched in need and personality with a service animal, and how Blazer has improved his life.

While he previously used a white cane to navigate public transportation, Lynn said, Blazer helps him find doors, escalators, and elevators more quickly.

At times, however, Blazer has become too smart for his own good, Lynn said. He emphasizes the importance of dog handling and directional skills, particularly when long-practiced routes suddenly change -- such as when he gets a new class schedule at the University of Massachusetts Boston, where he is majoring in history.


"Blazer gives me the ability to navigate the world much more efficiently," said Lynn, who describes the 94-pound canine as a "terrific" guide dog, but also "the biggest goof on the planet" who resumes his fun-loving, attention-seeking ways the second that his harness is removed.


In addition to posting a sign on the harness alerting strangers that Blazer is working, Lynn said, he looks for opportunities to educate the public that guide dogs are service animals, not pets. As such, he is serious about his responsibility of properly controlling his dog in public places. In return, he wishes people would ask before petting Blazer -- a distraction that can be compared to pulling on a driver's steering wheel. "I understand people like dogs, but it's so nice when I walk into a place and they don't acknowledge the dog is there," he said. "They treat me like everybody else, which is what should happen."


Brighton resident Carl Richardson, President of Guide Dog Users of Massachusetts, will speak about "these amazing dogs who dedicate their entire lives to us" and the assistance they provide for a wide range of disabilities: safely navigating around obstacles, retrieving items, helping with balance, alerting people to everything from a ringing doorbell to an oncoming seizure.


Richardson, who is visually impaired and hard of hearing, emphasizes that the use of a service dog versus a white cane is strictly a personal choice. And while he agrees that people should ask permission before approaching guide dogs, he credits his first guide dog, Kiva, with helping to court his wife, Megan Sullivan, a Boston University associate professor.


Richardson credits his current guide dog, Kinley, a 7 1/2-year-old black Lab, with reducing his reliance on his wife, and providing an extra set of eyes and ears throughout his daily commute on the bus and subway.


"She doesn't have to worry about me because that's Kinley's job," said Richardson, who is the Americans with Disabilities Act coordinator at the State House.


Richardson said he is fortunate to still have Kiva, a 14-year-old yellow Lab whom he retired as his service dog due to her arthritis at age 9. Because 70 percent of the blind community are unemployed, he said, many guide-dog owners can't afford to care for multiple animals.


"I'm so glad the US Postal Service is honoring these magnificent dogs, because I can't imagine my life without one," he added. "I also hope the stamps bring more recognition and awareness so when we bring our dogs into public places, people know it's not a big deal."



OFFICE OF THE GOVERNOR

Governor Terry E. Branstad < Lt. Governor Kim Reynolds

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Monday, March 12, 2012

Contact: Governor's Office (515) 725-3518


Branstad, Reynolds urge preparation, launch website reminding Iowans of "N11" codes in advance of storm season


Iowa Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management urges Iowans to take three steps toward prevention


Website launched to assist Iowans in using codes to reach special community resources


(DES MOINES) - Iowa Governor Terry Branstad and Lt. Governor Kim Reynolds are urging Iowans to be prepared year-round for emergencies. The recent tragic tornado outbreaks in the Midwest and South, and a forecast by accuweather.com that predicts 2012 will see above-normal tornado numbers, is reason for everyone to increase their awareness of services available easily from your phone.


Most people are familiar with dialing 911, but some may not be aware of the seven other "N11" codes. N11 is a three-digit shortcut to reach special community resources. The numbers are set aside by the Federal Communications Commission and operated by the community service provider. For example, the Iowa Department of Transportation (DOT) operates the 511 service describing road and traffic conditions.


To assist in the awareness of these N11 codes, the Branstad administration has directed the creation of a website containing the information. It is found here: http://www.iowa.gov/pages/n11


The following N11 codes are available for Iowans to use:




* 211 - Community information and referral services, including food, shelters, clothes, health insurance programs, support groups, counseling, financial assistance, meal services, child care, legal services, etc. There are 2-1-1 call centers serving all 99 counties in Iowa.


* 311 - Nonemergency police, fire and municipal business. Local and municipal governments administer 311 calls.


* 411 - Local telephone directory assistance. Landline 4-1-1 service is provided by local telephone companies. Wireless services are provided by your wireless phone carrier. Some telephone companies and wireless carriers charge for this service.


* 511 - Travel information, including the status of roadway construction, accidents, detours and winter road conditions. Iowa information is provided by the Iowa DOT. 511 services are available in most other states. The information you receive is based on the location from where you are calling. 511 is the abbreviated number for 800-288-1047 (available nationwide).


* 611 - For customers of some telephone companies, 611 is used to report a problem with telephone service. Many wireless phone providers also use 611 as a general customer service access number.


* 711 - The Telecommunications Relay Service that allows people who are deaf, hard-of-hearing or speech-disabled to place calls to sta