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Summer 2001 Bullletin


Published Quarterly by


Affiliate of




3912 SE 5th St.

Des Moines, Iowa 50315

(515) 284-0505

1-888-404-5562 (Toll Free)



2012 - 40th Place

Des Moines, Iowa 50310

(515) 279-2817



1437 Guthrie

Des Moines, Iowa 50316

(515) 263-1441



4013 - 30th Street

Des Moines, Iowa 50310

(515) 279-4284



ICUB Officers and Directors 2

Notice to Readers 3

From the President’s Desk 4

Convention Thoughts 6

Creig Slayton, Director of Iowa Department for the Blind

Announces Retirement 10

Retirement - Reprinted from Des Moines Register 11

Blind Want Equal Access, Chances 12

“Cars R Us” 15

Kids Ask the ‘Darndest’ Things 16

Cedar Rapids Chapter Report 16

Des Moines Chapter Report 18

Dubuque Association of the Blind 19

North Central Chapter of the United Blind of Iowa 20


President, Donna Seliger

Des Moines, 515/284-0505

1st V.P., Michael Hoenig

Davenport, 319/344-8787

2nd V.P., John Taylor

Des Moines, 515/279-2817

Secretary, JoAnn Slayton

Des Moines, 515/279-4284

Treasurer, Michael Barber

Des Moines, 515/263-1441

2-Year Directors

1-Year Directors

Dick Natale

West Des Moines, 515/277-1167

Julie Bedard

Des Moines, 515/243-8593

Sylvester Nemmers

Des Moines, 515/276-2729

Sue Hergert

Coralville, 319/337-7691

Robert Nesler

Dubuque, 563/557-0987

Dorothy Janvrin

Fort Dodge, 515/573-6043

Gloria O’Neal

Waterloo, 319/235-1789

Shirley Wiggins

Cedar Rapids, 319/362-7138


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) 279-2817, or write Iowa Council of the United Blind, 2012 - 40th Place, Des Moines, Iowa 50310.

Anyone who cannot read this print bulletin or finds it difficult to have it read may receive a cassette copy at no charge. Cassette readers are invited to return this Bulletin for re-use. Please help us keep you better informed.



****October 1, 2001 ****

NOTICE: Michael D. Barber, Treasurer

You may now receive your personal issue of the ICUB Bulletin electronically. That's right! Your issue of the ICUB Bulletin can be e-mailed to you personally. To start receiving your copy of the Bulletin electronically, send a message to the following e-mail address:

In the subject line, type the words ICUB Bulletin. Leave the body blank. Your name will then be added to the list of those receiving the Bulletin.


By Donna Seliger

I sit here at the computer wondering just where to start. For the past year we have been planning for the 40th annual American Council of the Blind convention. From June 30 through July 7, more than 1,400 people converged on Des Moines for this event. The above figure includes convention attendees, exhibitors and volunteers. Before I venture further with my report, I want to pause and thank all of you who helped make this convention a gigantic success. Without all of the Iowans who spent days before and hours during the convention, it would not have been possible. Please, please accept my heartfelt thanks for all you have done. There are too many wonderful people to name and besides, I wouldn’t want to overlook anyone.

The convention week was filled with meetings, workshops, seminars, socials, breakfasts, lunches and much more. This year was a big one for elections since all the ACB officers’ terms expired except one and that person decided not to run again. Nearly every state and special interest affiliate held caucuses to decide who to vote for since each position had two declared candidates. In the end the following slate of officers was elected: president, Christ Gray from California; 1st vice president, Steve Speicher from Nebraska; 2nd vice president, M. J. Schmitt from Illinois; and Donna Seliger from Iowa as secretary. Since M. J. Schmitt moved from a board position to officer, that slot was filled by Brian Charlson of Massachusetts.

The Welcome to Iowa party held on June 30 was attended by many ACB members and friends.

On Sunday afternoon several ICUB members gathered at the Department for the Blind to hold a mini state convention. Our own elections were held to fill four outgoing board positions. Shirley Conrad and Monty Habben chose not to run for another term. At this time, I would like to thank both of these people for their involvement and support of ICUB during the past two years. Gloria O’Neal of Waterloo and Bob Nesler from Dubuque replaced Shirley and Monty. The remaining two positions were Dick Natale and Sylvester Nemmers who were reelected for another two years. Congratulations to everyone!

A fall board meeting of the ICUB officers and directors will be held September 15, 2001 at the Iowa Department for the Blind. As always, this meeting is open to all members. Since there is a Domino’s Pizza just down the block, I thought we might take our lunch break there or perhaps order in.

From every indication I have had, we can count the ACB convention in Des Moines a huge success! Hats off to ICUB for a job well done. There were door prizes donated from every chapter as well as individuals and they were much appreciated. The Welcome to Iowa party and Iowa Suite enjoyed donated snacks as well.

Enjoy your summer and we’ll see you in Cedar Rapids or Dubuque later on.


By ACB Members

(The following are excerpts taken from messages sent on the ACB Listserv. Judging from the comments, all ICUB members are to be commended for a great job.)

While I do enjoy attending conventions (when I can) I have to say that the coverage of the opening session was really great and provided a truly exciting experience! There I was, sitting on my couch, in the comfort of my own living room listening to the opening session ... LIVE! I didn't have to deal with folks talking around me, people getting in and out of the rows, canes, dogs, bags, or anything else. Furthermore, I was able to get up and get a drink whenever I wanted, use the men’s room, eat a bowl of chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream, etc.

Technically speaking, the sound is outstanding! Keep up the great work, folks!

I too am enjoying the convention coverage and especially loved last night's session. My husband and I were in our pajamas listening to it, and it was just fabulous! The content was to! I've only heard Paul Edwards' last two addresses as President, but I've got to say that Tom Harkin was right. He is a hell of a speaker, and I am really going to miss him though I have never spoken to him. He's real, and he's natural, and he's unapologetic for those characteristics. I was also pleased that tom Harkin spoke as well. I caught this morning's session live too, but it doesn't appear that I'll get to hear the rest of the week's live. I'll have to catch up when they are replayed.

Donna. Have been enjoying your convention. It would be too costly for Canadians to attend, but hearing it on ACB Radio is almost as good, although being there would be more fun.

Hello All: Well, we arrived home this afternoon from Des Moines, tired, and frankly, a little sad that we had to come home. The people of Des Moines are so warm and friendly and made us feel so welcome, it was very hard to leave and come back to the big city of Chicago.

Overall, it was a wonderful convention. The Iowa Council of the United Blind and all who helped them need to give themselves a collective pat on the back for the work they did. They made things so easy for all of us to enjoy the convention.

We have got to find a way to get more of our business done when more people are in attendance. Then again, people know when the convention is scheduled to end and if at all possible, should plan to stay through Saturday if they want to take part in all of the convention business.

The banquet entertainment was top notch. Jonathan Mosen and the rest of you who put it together, our hats are off to you for a job well done. Especially Allan Beatty for his rendition of "The Mississippi Squirrel Revival."

The setup with the skywalks and the convention center and four hotels worked out great in our opinion. People who immediately turn up their noses at the prospects of going to a convention in a setup like this should really give it a chance, sometimes things aren't as bad as they seem. The security officials and others in the skywalks were very helpful. It was good that they had the electric carts for those who do have trouble walking great distances.

We didn't see a lot of the pushing and shoving and biting people's heads off that is usually associated with the end part of convention week. I only saw one incident where a couple of people got into it a little bit on the Marriott elevators, but that was it.

We were pleased with how the elections came out. ACB will be well served over the next two years by the officers who have been elected. These people are well prepared to face the challenges that ACB will have to respond to in the next two years such as reauthorization of the Rehabilitation Act, IDEA Reauthorization, improving ACB's finances and dealing with accessible voting among other things.

It was a pleasure to meet many of you during this year's ACB convention. To those who could not attend, we missed you and we hope you can return next year in Houston.

We hope everyone had as satisfying a convention experience as we did. While we're about walked out, we had a wonderful week with the wonderful people of Des Moines and ACB. If we ever move anywhere, it will be a city like Des Moines, laid back and full of people who don't hesitate to call you friend.

Hi All! Well, I arrived home yesterday tired and as Ray and Karen said, sad to leave both old and newly made friends. Since this was my first convention, I was unsure of what to expect. I took things a bit slowly and cautiously, sampling a little bit of everything...sessions... and a bit of helping out where needed. All in all it was such an energizing and wonderful experience. I have been a member of ACB for many years, as well as a member of GDUI. This year's convention just made me want to work harder to be involved and to help in whatever way I can. I agree, the people of Des Moines were wonderful. Coming from New England where people tend to be more reserved, I had no idea of the difference. People were so willing to help...not in a patronizing condescending manner, but in a generally friendly and accepting way. I met several local people at the fireworks at the capital on the 3rd, which a friend and I attended. To let you know of how helpful people were...My friend and I were told by the hotel shuttle driver where to meet after the festivities. We called to let him know we were ready to go back to the Marriott. Well, we started talking to two women and their daughters who helped us get to the appointed meeting spot. Well, due to tons of traffic, the shuttle driver was unable to get to us. So after an hour of talking to these really nice people, they took us back without hesitation! They were so much fun and really great! Enough rambling! To those of you who I got to meet, it was a pleasure. I cannot wait till next year. To those who did not attend, I hope to meet you next year!!!

I agree that the convention went really and even the heated Saturday session was a view into democracy in action.

I really enjoyed seeing all the folks from the list and hope all who did not make this year's event get to Houston next year. Hats off to everyone who worked so hard on the convention and all of us salute the Iowa affiliate for a job very well done! ACB Radio shined through it all, our people were involved and excited and it was truly a great fortieth birthday convention.

Hello Donna! I just want to let you know that I thought this year's convention was just great! I have visited a number of cities in the country, and I found Des Moines to be the friendliest and most hospitable of them all. That's why I was sad when I had to leave. Those people in Iowa want to make me move there. Thank you for all the information about the convention. Because of it I was well prepared. I thoroughly enjoyed the skywalk. It was a real adventure. In short Donna this convention was one of the absolute best. Again, thank you and your wonderful affiliate for having us and doing an outstanding job. Also I offer my congratulations to you on becoming our secretary. You will do a great job.



Des Moines, IA -- At a regular meeting of the Iowa Commission for the Blind, R. Creig Slayton, Director of the Iowa Department for the Blind, notified the Commission of his plan to retire on or before August 31, 2001. He has worked at the Iowa Department for the Blind for 36 years.

It is with much regret that the Commission moved to accept Mr. Slayton’s request to retire from an exemplary career serving the blind of Iowa. He has directed the agency for 14 of his 36 years of employment. He is a proven leader, and above all has been the utmost advocate for the blind, both statewide and nationally.

Following Slayton’s announcement of his upcoming retirement, the Commission began the process to launch a search for his replacement. Advertisements for applicants will begin appearing within the next few days in newspapers, special publications, and a national computer network shared by rehabilitation agencies.

The deadline for the applications will be July 20. The three-member Commission--John Wellman of Des Moines, Robert Martin of Davenport, and Julie Scurr of Coralville--will then screen the applications and interivew the prospective candidates.

Qualified candidates should send resumes by July 20, 2001, to:

Julie A. Scurr, Chair

Iowa Commission for the Blind

524 Fourth Street

Des Moines, IA 50309-2364


The director of the Iowa Department for the Blind is retiring after 14 years at the job.

R. Craig Slayton, 60, who has worked for the state agency for 36 years, plans to retire on or before Aug. 31, the Iowa Commission for the Blind announced Tuesday.

Slayton is “very well respected, not only statewide but nationally. He’s been a great leader for the state of Iowa,” said Julie Scurr, commission chairwoman.

The agency has a nationwide reputation for providing quality service, training and opportunities for the blind, she said.

“The agency serves the blind of Iowa through vocational rehabilitation and independent living services,” Scurr said.

Scurr said the search for a successor has begun. The deadline for applications is July 20.


by Tara Deering, Reprinted from Des Moines Register July 1, 2001

Deb Caldbeck has worked as a word processor for the Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals for 17 years. She sometimes gets hungry during the day and heads to the vending machine for a snack.

Caldbeck cannot see the candy bars and chips or their selection numbers when she stands in front of the vending machine. She cannot tell if her dollar bill is facing the right direction. Caldbeck, 40, has been blind since birth.

“Under normal circumstances, I cannot walk up to a vending machined and get a pop or a candy bar,” she said. “I have to take someone with me. It’s just not something a sighted person would think about.”

Equal access, employment opportunities, adequate transportation, pedestrian safety and descriptive television programming are just a few of the issues the blind say should be addressed.

Many of those issues will be discussed this week at the 40th annual American Council of the Blind National Convention in Des Moines. About 1,500 blind and visually impaired people from across the country are expected to attend the convention, which began Saturday and runs for a week.

Donna Seliger, president of the Iowa Council of the United Blind, said members of her organization travel to Washington, D.C., each spring to discuss their concerns with legislators. She said they have been somewhat successful in being heard.

Seliger said her group has become increasingly concerned about voter accessibility after controversy surrounding the 2000 presidential election.

“We want to stay on top of it to make sure that we’re not forgotten when these new voting machines roll off the line,” she said.

Caldbeck said finding employment continues to be one of the biggest obstacles for the blind. She said blind people must work twice as hard to convince employers they can do the job.

Polk County Public Defender John Wellman agreed, saying each blind person who is employed helps to dispel the perception that blind people are incompetent.

“There are certainly many qualified blind people holding jobs,” he said.

Wellman is widely regarded as among the best criminal attorneys in Iowa. An accidental shotgun blast stole Wellman’s sight at age 17.

Wellman said guaranteeing equal employment opportunities for the blind cannot be legislated.

“Change has to come step by step,” said Wellman, who has served 18 years on the Iowa Commission for the Blind.

Wellman said some ideas to help the blind are unnecessary. He said, for example, that audio signals on traffic lights simply give the impression that the blind cannot fend for themselves.

The Iowa Department for the Blind helps people who lose their sight re-enter the work force by teaching them Braille, computer skills, and how to use a cane. About 57,000 Iowans are visually impaired.

“Our basic goal is to get people back to work and back to doing the basic things they did before they lost their sight,” said Craig Slayton, director of the Department for the Blind. He announced last week that he is retiring in August after 36 years with the Department.

Advancements in computer technology have opened up a number of job opportunities for the blind. Caldbeck uses a computer at work that reads her the words on the screen through a headset.

“If it weren’t for my computer, I wouldn’t have a job,” she said. “I wouldn’t.”

Slayton said, “They’ve truly become reading machines.” He was using his talking computer Friday to send e-mails.

Slayton said recent state budget cuts will make it more difficult for the department to provide its services. He said the department will be forced to serve fewer people and eliminate a couple of positions.

The state reduced the department’s $1.8 million budget by $70,000. Slayton said the department’s total budget will be cut by significantly more because it receives four federal dollars for every state dollar.

Seliger said her organization would like the government’s help in pushing for media enhancements. The hearing-impaired have closed-captioning. Seliger said the blind should have what’s called Separate Audio Program, or SAP, where a person describes the non-verbal expressions or silent action during movies and television programs.

“We would like to see that on network programming like with closed-caption,” she said.

Seliger said video description is available on some movies, such as “The Sixth Sense,” “The King and I” and “Home Alone.” She said the videos take a lot of time to make and are expensive to buy.


by Donna Seliger

Just about two years ago ICUB entered into a contract with the Vehicle Donation Processing Center of Monrovia, California. The way it works for us is rather simple; however, there are some things that must happen before we receive any money.

An advertisement saying “Donate that car” and the toll free number 1-800-899-4925 first appeared in the Des Moines Register last November. An individual who wishes to donate their car, truck, boat, or motorcycle to ICUB can call that phone number. The processing center people contact a pre-assigned company in Iowa to pick up the donated vehicle. It then goes to an auction house where it is sold. ICUB receives 50 percent of the proceeds after payment of advertising, pick-up, auctioning, and administrative fees.

We received our first payment early this spring. Our share of the proceeds is around $3,000 thus far. The amount of money we get depends entirely on how many vehicles are picked up and sold.

If you know of anyone who wishes to donate a car to ICUB, please have them call 1-800-899-4925. Any vehicle can be donated, whether in running condition or not. If you have family or friends who would like to donate a vehicle and receive a tax deduction as a contribution to a non-profit organization, please ask them to call.


One Sunday morning, the priest saw little Davey staring up at the large plaque that hung in the church’s foyer. The plaque was covered with names, and small American flags were mounted on either side of it.

“Father Donovan,” the boy asked, “What is this?”

“Well, son, it’s a memorial to all the young men and women who died in the service,” the priest explained. They stood together quietly, staring at the memorial plaque.

Little Davey softly asked, “Which service? The 9:00 or the 10:30?”


by shirley Wiggins

Hi, did you attend the A.C.B. National Convention in Des Moines, or did you stay home and miss the greatest event I.C.U.B. might ever host again? Dove Tanner and I were the two from our Cedar Rapids Chapter privileged to attend. Between the two of us, we have much information to share with our small but mighty chapter when next we meet.

The members of our chapter asked Dove and me to collect door prizes for the convention. We also donated $100 toward door prizes. Now we are at work planning the August picnic. The picnic will be held August 25th, eleven A.M. until Four P.M. As always, it will be held at Shawnee Park, nineteenth Street and F. Avenue N.W. Bring your own tableware. We’ll have coffee, lemonade, and cups. Bring your favorite covered dish, let’s see what good cooks we have around the state.

The Support Group too is planning a picnic the first day of August. There are many good cooks in that group.

The Support Group had a speaker from the LIFT transportation. LIFT buses transport disabled and seniors. The buses are equipped for all handicaps and can be used to get to appointments, go to the Malls and grocery shopping. The price is $1.25 a ride.

In May we learned of a program “Cabs Pass.” It was originally for working handicapped and seniors only. Cabs Pass is sponsored by Five Seasons Transportation and Good Will Industries. They obtained a grant at least for one year that allows all handicapped to use the service for only $2.00 a ride anywhere in Linn County. Those of us who have good health and access to a close-by bus stop are asked to use our passes after six in the evening when our buses no longer run. The service can be used by all of us if it is medical or bringing home groceries. For all who ask for passes, you must fill out an application after which we receive a billfold sized pass good for a year.

That is it for now. Just don’t forget our picnic the 25th of August.


by Michael Barber

Members have spent this quarter helping to put the final touches on the upcoming 40th annual American Council of the Blind Convention which will be held from June 30-July 7 in Des Moines. Vending machines are receiving Braille labels; final touches are being applied to the Skywalk orientation guide; volunteers are being recruited and trained; and many other last-minute details which need tending as we enter the home stretch for the convention.

Some of our members attended the various neighborhood meetings held by the Metropolitan Transit Authority where proposals for changes and improvements in bus service were discussed.

In May, we had a visit from Margarine Beaman from Texas who was here on behalf of the American Council of the Blind to train the convention volunteers.

On June 7, June 27 and June 28, the Des Moines Chapter and the Department for the Blind conducted training sessions for staff members from each of the convention hotels, staff members from the Des Moines International Airport and the staff from the Convention and Visitors’ Bureau. During these sessions, our message to them was, “Treat blind people like everyone else.” “Use common sense when dealing with a blind person.” The sessions were extremely successful.


by Inez Schultz

The April DAB meeting was held in the dining room at Finley Hospital. Bob Nesler called the meeting to order. A letter from Gloria O’Neil concerning door prizes for the Convention was read. DAB decided to donate a case of Trappestine caramels from Our Lady of the Mississippi Abbey. Inez will see that they are labeled and delivered to Des Moines. Our group hopes to exhibit the Braille flag fashioned by Sharon Wagner. Shirley Conrad, Delores and Darwin Reber will not be at the next meeting. They are planning a fun trip to Branson, Missouri.

The May meeting was held in the comfortable Conference Room at Finley Hospital. Arrangements to get prizes to Des Moines were made. Gene Scholtes picked up Iowa T-shirts, a cooler, picture prints, and caps from Rose and Bob Stratton of Maquoketa. Since Bob and Rose are going by bus, our group will deliver their things to Des Moines via car. A group from Tri-State Independent Blind cancelled.

At the May meeting a van was hired to go to Cedar Rapids for the August 25th picnic. We are looking forward to this special get-together of old and new friends. Arrangements for our DAB banquet September 22 are almost completed. “If it works, don’t fix it,” is our attitude. Of course, are always expecting some last minute changes. Bob Nesler will be installed on the ICUB board in July.

Inez Schultz spoke about her appearance before the Board of Regents Meeting at Council Bluffs School for the Deaf. Anna Decker drove to Council Bluffs to ask the Board that the pay scale for the itinerant Braille teachers remain the same as last year. That is, without a cut in money as presented by the Board of Regents. The cuts would have affected the teachers for Inez’ grandson, Ann’s son, Stevie Decker. These teachers have been teaching the blind, many for over 25 years, and their expertise and friendly services are needed in Iowa.

The June meeting was called to order by Thelma Kerth. A package of items was sent to Joann Slayton to be used in the “Goody Bags” for the upcoming convention. Linda Curfman phoned and Thelma and Inez volunteered to man the “Welcome” booth at the Savery Hotel from Sunday to Wednesday 11:00 A.M. until 3:30 P.M. Arrangements were made so that we also could be at the “Welcome Iowa” party on Saturday night.


by Thelma Hoover

Busy, busy, busy seems to be the tempo we enjoy every day. Keeping busy is no problem at all. Just finding the time to accomplish everything that needs to be done seems, sometimes, a problem.

The Fort Dodge Chapter is equally busy. Within the past year, we have welcomed three new members to our group. We remember, too, the two members who passed away from our midst. We shall miss them.

Our attendance has been pretty regular, with approximately 24 members attending each meeting.

Our ‘Nomads’ have returned from their winter travels. This is always a comfortable time; to have everyone back together again.

In May, we had a visit with Merry-Noel Chamberlain, the Independent Living Coordinator for Iowa Department for the Blind. Her presentation was full of new methods of how to handle small problems that often appear huge for eye-impaired people. She told about the help that is available for those who need individual help in learning how to cope and, in doing so, how to become more independent. She stressed that for all eye-impaired people, there is “hope.”

The Club is now planning an “IRIS Appreciation Luncheon” to be held in September. We exalt our IRIS readers. They do such a wonderful service, ever ready, and ever faithful.

Our meetings are never ‘dull.’ One member is bringing stories or information he has gleaned from his computer and we welcome everything he shares with us. It either makes you think or you enjoy a good chuckle.

Some of our members attended the convention held in Des Moines and we will be hearing from them at our August meeting.

We welcome you, you, and you, when in Fort Dodge, on the first Tuesday of any month to visit with us. We are located at 127 North 10th Street.


A teacher asked her young pupils how they spent their vacation.

One child wrote the following:

“We always used to spend the holidays with Grandma and Grandpa. They used to live here in a big brick house, but Grandpa got retarded and they moved to Florida and now they live in a place with a lot of other retarded people. They live in a tin box and have rocks painted green to look like grass.

They ride around on big tricycles and wear name tags because they don’t know who they are anymore.

They go to a building called a wrecked center, but they must have got it fixed, because it is all right now. They play games and do exercises there, but they don’t do them very well. There is a swimming pool, too, but they all jump up and down in it with their hats on. I guess they don’t know how to swim.

At their gate, there is a doll house with a little old man sitting in it. He watches all day so nobody can escape. Sometimes they sneak out. Tnen they go cruising in their golf carts.

My Grandma used to bake cookies and stuff, but I guess she forgot how.

Nobody there cooks, they just eat out. And they eat the same thing every night: Early Birds.

Some of the people can’t get past the man in the doll house to go out. So the ones who do get out bring food back to the wrecked center and call it pot luck.

My Grandma says Grandpa worked all his life to earn his retardment and says I should work hard so I can be retarded some day too.

When I earn my retardment I want to be the man in the doll house. Then I will let people out so they can visit their grandchildren.”

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