IOWA COUNCIL OF THE UNITED BLIND
Web Site: www.acb.org/iowa
Affiliate of the American Council of the Blind
Robert Spangler, President
1505 W. 4th St.
Vinton, IA 52349
Mike Hoenig, Editor
3119 Spring St.
Davenport, IA 52807
Jo Ann Slayton, Secretary
4013 30th St.
Des Moines, IA 50310
(515) 279-4284 – home
(515) 710-7875 – cell
ICUB OFFICERS AND DIRECTORS
Robert Spangler, President - Vinton, (319) 472-4843
Donna Seliger, Immediate Past President - Des Moines,
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
Joyce Davis, Director - Fort Dodge, (515) 955-1634
Ruth Hamdorf, Director - Marion, (319) 373-8608
Rose Stratton, Director - Maquoketa, (563) 652-2546
Shirley Wiggins, Director - Cedar Rapids, (319) 550-6096
Stephanie Hunolt, Director – Kirksville, (660) 665-2404
Robert Nesler, Director – Dubuque, (563) 557-0987
Elsie Monthei, Director –Des Moines, (515) 277-0442
Gary Patterson, Director –Des Moines, (515) 278-2686
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.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Editor's Line 4
Resolutions Passed at the 2009 Iowa Council of the
United Blind State Convention 6
President's Message 8
Iowa Department for the Blind Unveils
"Opportunities for Independence" 9
IRIS Volunteers: Reading Radio 12
W. R. (Skeet) Powers 13 Beulah (Bea) Mae Maddalozzo 15
Tarecia Ann Hilmer 15
Martin B. Failor 16
Services for Blind Children Move into Homes 17
Des Moines Chapter Update 20
Cedar Rapids Chapter Update 22
Dubuque Association of the Blind Update 23
Tell Me Service 24
Free directory Assistance 25
Gardening Tip 25
By Mike Hoenig
The 22nd annual ICUB State Convention, held May 1-3 at the Holiday Inn in Des Moines, was a big success! On Friday night, Rose Stratton and her trivia buffs were once again crowned trivia champions, but it was a close match. Whether the topic was history, sports, or the music of the 30's and 40's, players were up to the challenge. The mood stayed upbeat as speaker Marlaina Lieberg updated us on ACB's many accomplishments over the past year.
Jo and Creig Slayton got us off to a good start on Saturday with a demonstration of some fun and useful gizmos and gadgets. Thanks to their enthusiasm, my wallet is now a bit lighter as I strolled right out to the exhibit area and purchased a Victor Reader Stream. The exhibit area was quite impressive this year, and I commend the committee for its hard work. Speaking of hard work, we certainly heard examples of it from members of the Iowa Department for the Blind staff in their annual update and from IRIS Director Rob Davis in his luncheon speech. The Department continues to seek solutions for the particularly high unemployment rate among young blind adults, and IRIS continues to keep pace with technological advancements through provision of more and more of its programming through digital and online formats.
Saturday afternoon began with elections. ICUB members elected the following officers: Creig Slayton, First Vice-President; Mike Hoenig, Second Vice-President, and Barb Richmond, Treasurer. Ruth Hamdorf, Elsie Monthei, Gary Patterson, and Rose Stratton were elected to two-year board positions. Robert Spangler was elected to serve as delegate to the ACB convention, with Donna Seliger being elected to serve as alternate. With Mike Hoenig's election to the position of Second Vice-President, Donna also assumed the position of Immediate Past President. Congratulations all. As Nominating Committee Chair, I would like to thank all members for your hard work.
Since this year's convention theme was "Celebrating Braille," it seemed only fitting to invite Braille Challenge participants Annabelle Costanzo and Lauren Thomson to tell us about their experiences at the national competition in Los Angeles. Annabelle and Lauren explained that the Braille Challenge tests skills in reading comprehension, writing speed and accuracy, and spelling. Both girls, who consistently place at the top of their age group in the national competition, told us that they enjoyed swimming in the hotel pool and meeting new friends. Listening to these two young ladies, I'm confident that the future is bright for blind Iowans.
Friends of the Library president Louise Duvall closed the Saturday business session with a rousing presentation. The Friends group has been extremely busy this year raising funds which they've put to very good use for the library. Louise is always up for talking about Friends, and she's willing to travel. If you'd like to schedule a presentation, call Louise at 515-276-0807 or email her at Library_Friends@msn.com. Membership, which includes an informative newsletter and provides an opportunity to support a very worthy cause, costs $20 per year. All memberships, renewals and donations may be sent to: Friends of the Iowa Library, PO Box 93046, Des Moines, IA 50393-3046.
The banquet returned our focus to Braille, as fifth grader Emily Brown was presented with the Marie Hoenig Memorial Perkins Brailler Award. Extremely outgoing and appreciative, Emily won the hearts of many ICUB members. Jo and Creig Slayton, who have worked on behalf of ICUB and the blind of this country for decades, were deserving recipients of the Linda Dietrich Volunteer Award.
Another stellar contributor to our organization, Shirley Wiggins, won the 50-50 raffle. Marlaina Lieberg's address, which encouraged us to reach for our potential, brought a fitting conclusion to an uplifting banquet.
I hope that you will all join me in thanking Shirley Wiggins for once again conducting the Sunday morning Memorial Service. I was unable to attend this year, and feel that I missed an extremely important part of Convention. This year's list of names, lengthier than any of us would have liked, included several of my friends and acquaintances. Shirley, your taking the time to help us remember our departed friends and family during such a busy weekend is much appreciated.
The rest of Sunday morning was taken up with convention business, including the passage of several resolutions reprinted below. This year's $100 door prize went to Stephanie Hunolt. Congratulations, Stephanie.
Plans are already underway for the 2010 state convention. It will be held April 30, May 1 and 2 at the Des Moines Holiday Inn Hotel and Suites, 4800 Merle Hay Road, Des Moines. ACB President Mitch Pomerantz will be our National Representative, so you won't want to miss it.
Resolutions Passed at the 2009 Iowa Council of the United Blind State Convention
WHEREAS: Americans depend on their automobiles to transport them to and from work, church, Social events and shopping; and
WHEREAS: The automobile industry is producing the quiet or hybrid car; and
WHEREAS: The quiet cars do not make any discernable noise; and
WHEREAS: The quiet car poses a danger to the blind and visually impaired pedestrians who cross streets at intersections; and
WHEREAS: The general population including elders, children, runners and bicyclists are all at risk from encountering the quiet car; and
WHEREAS: Senators John Kerry (D-MA) and Arlen Specter (R-PA) introduced S841, a Bill that is intended to protect pedestrians from injury or death as a result of the technology in quiet cars.
NOW, THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, this third day of May, 2009 at the Holiday Inn and Suites in Des Moines, Iowa the Iowa Council of the United Blind in convention assembled hereby instructs its President and Board of Directors to send a letter to each of Iowa’s Senators urging them to sign on to S 841 as co-sponsors. In addition, a copy of this resolution is to be sent to the ACB Resolutions Committee for its presentation to the convention attendees. This Bill mandates a study of the quiet cars and their impact on the blind and visually impaired population.
Adopted: May 3, 2009
Jo Ann Slayton, Secretary
WHEREAS: The Holiday Inn and Suites Northwest has hosted ICUB’s 22nd annual convention; and
WHEREAS: The staff has been courteous and helpful; and
WHEREAS: The meeting facilities, sleeping rooms, meals and onsite restaurant have met with approval from the ICUB members.
NOW, THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED: This third day of May, 2009 at the Holiday Inn and Suites, Des Moines Iowa the Iowa Council of the United Blind membership instruct its President and Secretary to draft a letter to the hotel with attention to Mr. Troy Thompson thanking the staff for their services during this convention, including a copy of this resolution.
Adopted: May 3, 2009
Barb Richmond, Resolutions Committee Chair
Jo Ann Slayton, Secretary
BY Robert Spangler
I am back from the National ACB Convention. Once again, it was a great learning experience. I attended all business sessions with the exception of the Monday session, as a friend gave us passes to Disney World that day. My daughter Stephanie, Stephanie Hunolt and I enjoyed the Disney experience.
There was much discussion concerning the recent closure of the Oregon School for the Blind. ACB is very concerned and has established a taskforce to study this issue. I have been asked to be part of the taskforce. It is clear that no matter what we are told here in Iowa, our school is still in danger. We should be working together to see that all avenues are investigated to prevent its takeover and/or closure.
I also attended the Presidents meetings, where it was made clear that together with the leaders of ACB each affiliate must begin getting more involved in issues concerning the blind and visually impaired. A Midwest leadership seminar is being planned for 2010. This will be a great way for Midwest affiliate leaders to discuss important issues and develop leadership skills.
Issues which will be discussed at the February 2010 President's Meetings include the lack of member involvement, difficulties with recruiting new members, and resistance to change. All affiliates were encouraged to attend.
On July 4, I participated in the first ACB walk/run. The Watermelon 5K was attended by around 30 ACB members and over 3000 from the general public. ACB raised over $24,000 with the event. As an added challenge, I pushed Stephanie Hunolt in a wheelchair but only made it about one and a half to one and three quarters of a mile. The heat and humidity affected many participants. With the help of volunteers assigned to assist ACB members, Stephanie and I made it to the end of the 3.1 mile course in 52 minutes and 52 seconds. The last runner came in at about one hour and fifteen minutes. It was a good thing the run was held early in the morning because if it had been any later, there would have been no way I could have pushed Stephanie that distance. We all had a great time and were proud to be apart of the EVENT.
The annual ACB Auction was held July 8th and took in over $24,000. Although it was supposed to be finished by midnight, it was around one before the last item was sold. I enjoyed this event. I began as a spotter taking bids from about six tables at the beginning of the auction, then "graduated" to being one of three running microphones around the entire room so bidders could be heard. Both bidders and spotters had fun with this event.
Next years convention will be held in Phoenix, Arizona July 10th through the 17th. Room rates will be $89.00 plus tax.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Marisol Molstre
Iowa Department for the Blind Unveils "Opportunities for Independence"
Department announces expanded outreach, new branding, and a unique tactile, public art exhibit: "Please Touch the Art"
Des Moines, Iowa - July 10, 2009 - Blind and visually impaired Iowans will have new 'opportunities for independence' and all Iowans will be able to get in touch with art in a unique way, according to an announcement made today by Karen Keninger, director of the Iowa Department for the Blind.
According to Keninger, the Department, with offices in Des Moines, Waterloo and Cedar Rapids, will expand its field staff - phasing in new counselors and teachers over the next three months to better serve all areas of Iowa.
"About 69,000 Iowans are blind or visually impaired," said Keninger. "Because the incidence of eye diseases increases with age, and Iowa has an aging population, we can expect an increasing number of Iowans to experience blindness or visual impairment. The Department believes Iowans who are blind or visually impaired can live independently and work productively. During this time of economic downturn, we know that blind and visually impaired Iowans are looking for jobs along with everyone else. Our expanded staff will help ensure that Iowans have ready access to the services they need. We are here to serve employees, neighbors, relatives, and friends who are experiencing vision loss."
With an 82% placement rate, Iowa ranks second in the nation in the percentage of blind or visually impaired people who are successfully employed, positively contributing to Iowa's economy. The Department partners with all types of businesses and organizations across the state who understand the capabilities of blind Iowans and who are willing to provide the opportunities for them to succeed on the job. The Department
educates, trains and places qualified applicants with potential
employers. Blind and visually impaired individuals work in all
professions and occupations including physicians, attorneys, teachers, construction, mechanics, nurses, and IT specialists to name a few.
To better reflect the vision and mission of the Iowa Department for the Blind, the re-branding of the Department was unveiled. "The new logo puts a strong emphasis on the small letter 'i' - for individual, for independence, for information, and for Iowa. And the tagline, 'Opportunities for Independence' conveys what we provide and offer Iowans who are blind or visually impaired," according to Keninger. "We believe the new logo and tagline exemplifies the mission of the Iowa Department for the Blind, which is to create opportunities for independence for all blind and visually impaired Iowans."
Also, during the announcement, a unique, public art exhibit by
nationally renowned tactile artist and sculptor Ann Cunningham of Denver, Colorado was unveiled. The 3D art exhibit - seven pieces of mixed media (slate, bronze and wood) - is installed throughout the Department's Des Moines offices. The installation is unique to Iowa, including a tactile interpretation of the famous Grant Wood "American Gothic," as well as a regionalist landscape, along with other elements. The 3D exhibit is open to the public.
"Most art is of the 'don't touch' nature," said Colleen Armstrong, Iowa Arts Council board member. "But this artwork is meant to be touched and interpreted. It represents how the Iowa Department for the Blind gets in touch with the blind and visually impaired, with their families, with employers."
The Iowa Department for the Blind helps educate, train and empower blind and visually impaired Iowans to live independently and work productively.
For more information or to make referrals, visit www.IDBonline.org, <http://www.idbonline.org/> or call (800)362-2587.
(Editor's Note: I will be happy to share detailed written descriptions of the art, which showcases Iowa's rural scenery, upon request.)
IRIS Volunteers: Reading Radio
By Sunny Layne
CEDAR RAPIDS/CEDAR FALLS (KWWL) -- Newspapers have existed in various forms for hundreds of years.
While many of us take them for granted, one group of volunteers understands the value of staying informed, bringing the newspaper to those who can't read it.
Volunteers with a group called IRIS are people you should know.
Shirley Wiggins' day consists of many normal tasks.
"We need to decide what we need to have for supper," Wiggins said as she searched through her freezer.
This Cedar Rapids woman just has to go about life a little differently. Wiggins has mastered living without sight, she has been blind her whole life. But there is one daily task where she appreciates help: reading the newspaper.
Seven days a week, 365 days a year, two readers come in to read local papers at locations across Iowa as part of IRIS: "Iowa Radio Reading Information Service for the Blind and Print Handicapped, Incorporated."
Listeners use a special donated radio to pick up the frequency. "I know people who benefit," volunteer Donna Davis said.
At the Communication Arts Building at the University of Northern Iowa, Davis says many listeners appreciate hearing the big stories all the way down to the smaller stories that only make their way into the newspaper.
"I think it feels much more connected to know what's going on," Davis said. "It's the grounds of conversation for everyone."
"It's another way of looking at news, besides TV and radio and it's lost to them without the opportunity to hear that," volunteer coordinator Larry Cardamon said.
All volunteers say reading takes relatively little effort to benefit so many. And they always need more volunteers.
"It's really very simple," volunteer Bea Koontz said, "to come up for an hour to read the newspaper; it doesn't require a lot of preparation."
"It really is a neat thing," Wiggins said.
Shirley Wiggins says she looks forward to feeling informed every day. IRIS volunteers allow her to connect and read the newspaper through the radio. "It's very important to me," she said.
W. R. (Skeet) Powers
VINTON: W. R. "Skeet" Powers, 93, died Tuesday, March 24, 2009 at Windsor Manor in Vinton following an extended illness.
Funeral Services will be held at 10:30 AM, Friday, March 27, 2009 at Wesley United Methodist Church in Vinton with Rev. Kären Larson officiating.
Interment will be held at Evergreen Cemetery in Vinton. Friends may call at Phillips Funeral Home Chapel, 212 E. 6th St. in Vinton from 4 to 7 PM on Thursday. A memorial fund has been established for Wesley United Methodist Church.
The son of Charles and Mildred (Chamberlain) Powers, Wilbur R. Powers was born on October 10, 1915 at Tipton. Known by all as "Skeet" he married his first cousin, V. Evelyn "Evy" Powers. They made their home in Vinton where Evy served as Secretary to several Superintendents at the Iowa Braille School and Skeet was a House Parent. Living in a dorm at the facility with twelve to thirty boys each year, the couple became "Mom and Dad" to about two hundred youngsters during their thirty-three years at the Braille School. In their eighties, Skeet and Evy once again shared their love of parenthood and adopted a young woman and her four children from Macedonia.
Skeet loved music and had written several songs that were incorporated into a community play he wrote and directed several years ago. He also served as director of a Sweet Adeline’s Chorus. Skeet and Evy found time to enjoy life and were devoted to each other. They shared a love of flying and bowling.
He is survived by his brother-in-law, Clair Powers of Iowa City; his sister-in-law, Wilma Gower of Hattiesburg, MS; his adopted daughter, Hane Powers; four grandchildren, Adlina, twins, Arina and Arben, and Albjona Balazhi.
In addition to his parents and his wife, Evy who died on January 25, 2004, he was preceded in death by his sister, Dielda Powers.
Skeet never met a stranger and will be fondly remembered for his musical talents, his kind and gentle nature and his wonderful sense of humor.
(Editor's Note: I want to take a moment of personal privilege to share a reflection about Skeet (always Mr. Powers to me). I last saw him at a restaurant, where he walked up to me and said, "Well, did you make your bed today?" That's the way he was-very spontaneous and always ready with a witty remark. He was one of very few of us who seemed to be able to adjust to our school's changing population during the 1970's. He found a way to bring many of our multiply disabled students out of their shell, showing us by example that these kids deserved the right to belong. If you would like to read tributes to Skeet written by other Braille School alumni, visit http://www.ibsssalumni.org/html/about_skeet.htm. If you do not have access to a computer and would like a hard copy, please contact me.)
Beulah (Bea) Mae Maddalozzo
Beulah (Bea) Mae Maddalozzo, 82, of Dubuque died Sunday, April 26, at her home.
Services will be held at 1:30 PM Monday, May 4, 2009 at Randolph Funeral Home, Seymour, Iowa. Interment will be in South Lawn Cemetery, Seymour. Friends may greet the family from 9 AM to 1 PM Wednesday, April 29, 2009 at Hoffmann-Schneider Funeral Home, 1640 Main Street.
Beulah was born August 3, 1926, in Aplington, Iowa, daughter of Julius B. and Lillian P. (Barber) Morck. She married David H. Schmitt July 12, 1951, in Waterloo, Iowa. He preceded her in death December 12, 1970. She married Aldo B. Maddalozzo May 11, 1974 in Waterloo, Iowa. He preceded her in death April 3, 2006.
She attended the Iowa School for the Blind, in Vinton, Iowa and graduated from Aplington High School Class of 1946.
She enjoyed keeping up on current events, working on her computer and visiting with her neighbor, Randy.
Surviving are a brother-in-law, Leno Maddalozzo, of Seymour, Iowa; a sister-in-law, Geneva Maddalozzo, of Niles, Illinois and many nieces and nephews.
She was also preceded in death by her parents and a sister Marlys and a brother, Vylas.
Memorials may be made to Hospice of Dubuque.
Tarecia Ann Hilmer
Tarecia Ann Hilmer, 64, of 3204 Wood Avenue SE, Cedar Rapids, died Friday, June 26, 2009 at Mercy Medical Center in Cedar Rapids, following an extended illness. Tarecia was born November 11, 1944, in Columbus, Ohio, to Leslie Grant and Verda Kathleen Day (Fetty) Ayres. She was married to Walter Hilmer on October 3, 1998, at First Baptist Church in Marion. Tarecia owned and operated Golden Images Styling Salon in Marion for 33 years.
Survivors include her husband Walter. She was preceded in death by her parents; one sister, Leslie Deerdorf; and two husbands, Andrew Petroff and James Henderson.
The family would like to thank Dr. Anne Voigts and the staff of the Mercy Medical Center Dialysis Program for all of their kind care and assistance.
Services: 11 AM Wednesday, July 1, 2009, at First Baptist Church in Marion. Conducted by Rev. Randy Bobzien. Burial: Oak Hill Cemetery, Cedar Rapids. Arrangements by Murdoch Funeral Home and Cremation Service in Marion.
Martin B. Failor
Martin B. Failor, 83, of Rhodes, died Sunday, July 5, 2009 at MMSC.
Funeral services will be at 2 PM Wednesday, July 8, 2009 at Mitchell Family Funeral Home. Burial will be in Rose Hill Memorial Gardens. Visitation will be on Tuesday from 4 to 6 at the funeral home. Memorials may be made to the Public Library of Des Moines-Iowa Library for the Blind, 100 Locust Street, Des Moines, Iowa 50309. For correspondence, please visit www.mitchellfh.com. The Mitchell Family Funeral Home is caring for Martin and his family. Phone 641-844-1234.
Martin Braley Failor was born on March 18, 1926 in Gilman, Iowa. He graduated from Rhodes High School in 1944. After graduation, he served our country in the United States Marine Corps during World War II, when he was blinded by mortar shell fire. He landed in Okinawa, Japan on April 1, 1945. He also served on Pavuvu in the Solomon Islands. On august 22, 1959, he married Ruth Beggs in Rhodes. They were married in the home where Martin had lived since age 14. Martin was HAM operator W0SLC. He raised chickens, liked to read, and enjoyed doing yard work and listening to the radio, especially Chicago Cubs games. He was a member of the American Legion and the Blind Veterans Association.
He is survived by his wife of nearly 50 years, Ruth Failor, of Rhodes; his two children, Gayla (John) Nancarrow of Plano, Texas, and Craig (Carmel) Failor of Oak Park, Illinois; his five grandchildren, Allie and Emily Nancarrow, both of Plano, Texas and Graham, Braley, and Evan Failor, all of Oak Park, Illinois; his brother, Gene (Margaret) Failor of Oneida, Tennessee, and a sister-in-law, Juanita Hoeppner of Southerland, Iowa.
In death, he has rejoined his parents, his brother-in-law Paul Hoeppner, his brother, Stewart Failor, and his sister, Carol Ann Failor.
Services for Blind Children Move into Homes
By Diane Heldt
Reprinted from the Cedar Rapids Gazette, March 11, 2009
VINTON - The stately campus of the Iowa Braille School here is home to 12 students this year. Just a few years ago, it had three times that number, and a few decades ago the campus was home to 160 students. The 12 students, who are blind or vision impaired, live on campus during the week and go home on weekends. All of their classes, meals and dorm rooms are in the same historic building, Old Main. The shrinking on-campus enrollment at the 157-year-old school is part of the transition to a Statewide System for Vision Services that aims to provide more and better services to students in their local schools and environments.
"The Iowa Braille School is intended to be a part of that whole continuum but not necessarily the significant part that it once was," said Patrick Clancy, who on Aug. 1 became superintendent of the Braille School and administrator of the new Statewide System for Vision Services.
The new system was established one year ago, a joint agreement of the four state agencies responsible for providing services to the blind. In 2005, just 23 percent of the Braille School's state appropriation was spent on services for students with vision impairment in Iowa, with the rest supporting the small residential program. This year, 45 percent of the school's $5.6 million in state money goes to help more than 400 students across Iowa.
Imoni Cardine is one of those students. The 6-year-old is a kindergartner at Kenwood Elementary in Cedar Rapids. Three times a week she meets in the school library with Joan Banse, a teacher of visually impaired students. Imoni punches the large keys on a Perkins Braille Writer, which is similar to a typewriter but spits out Braille-imprinted pages. She and Banse read a book with Braille phrases and plastic buttons for Imoni to put into slots. During an exercise to strengthen her fingers for the Braille Writer, Imoni connects bumpy, curved toy pieces.
Casey Duggan, the Kenwood paraprofessional who helps Imoni during class, said the time Imoni spends with Banse makes a difference.
"It's a slow process, but you can tell it's a consistent, positive influence," he said. Banse formerly taught at the Braille School but now travels to Cedar Rapids, Anamosa, Marion and Lisbon to teach seven students with varying visual impairments.
"They're in their home community, and they make friends, stay with their families," Banse said.
"It's good to 'blur the lines' that divided services before," said Guy Fisher, a teacher of the visually impaired based in Keystone Area Education Agency's Decorah office. Under a statewide system, all resources and experienced staff are coordinated to best help students, he said.
"We'll be able to provide services to more kids, kids who maybe sometimes slipped through the cracks," he said. In the first year of the statewide system, the budget savings and shifting of positions from the Braille School to other services allowed the addition of three orientation and mobility specialists and two math and literacy consultants who work with students around the state, Clancy said.
Eventually, all 31 teachers of Iowa's blind and visually impaired and the 13 orientation and mobility specialists will be employed by the statewide system. Currently, about half of the teachers are employed by AEA's. That reorganization streamlines the budget, referral services and operating procedures, Clancy said.
Cedar Rapids parent Renee Henderson said it's comforting to know her son, who turns 3 in July, will continue to get the services he needs in his home community. Her son, Terrel, was born almost completely blind. Banse comes to the Henderson home twice a month to read Braille books with Terrel. When he starts school, the services will be provided there.
"I think that is a really big deal," Henderson said. "Even though he's different, he won't feel like he has to be separated from everyone else."
But some parents still prefer the residential school model.
Clancy, the Braille School's director, said the residential school remains an important component of services. But it's possible the school's future will come up again, he said, adding he thinks residential enrollment will never break 30 again.
The Braille School is becoming more of a short-term option, he said, as more students attend for only one semester or year, or perhaps for intense summer instruction in Braille or independent living.
"We'll continue to look at what's the function and what can be offered here," he said. "What's important is that the children get what they need."
(Editor's Note: Fellow residential school alums and other supporters of residential education will notice that the above article fails to address the advantages which can be gained from long-term attendance at schools for the blind. Unfortunately, Iowa is not alone when it comes to scaling back or closure of residential schools. On June 26, Governor Ted Kulongoski signed House Bill 2834 which will close the Oregon School for the Blind on September 1. The school's board of directors will also be dissolved on that date. Blindskills Inc., publisher of Dialogue Magazine, has been evicted from the school premises and is seeking new space. Advocates in Kansas and North Carolina are working diligently to stave off closure or being combined with schools for the deaf, while Illinois advocates await news about the impact of deep budget cuts on their school. Robert, you've signed on to an important task force-do us proud!)
Des Moines Chapter Update
By Elsie Monthei
Here it is August, and we are enjoying the Iowa summer season. It was hot in Florida and it rained nearly every day.
Friends in Art was able to produce a fantastic showcase program. The vending was well supported, at least by the Monthei family. We got a JAWS upgrade and the MAGIC enlargement software which is compatible with JAWS.
Our summer fest potluck at the Department for the Blind had about 35 people come in and out during the day. I want to thank Mike Hicklin for coming in to make sure the speaker system worked well, so that everyone could hear the good and bad jokes. Two Orientation students came and had some of the very good food. I also want to thank Laura Lunsford for being our spotter at the pool. I had a good time swimming, and it was nice to have her children to swim with. Thanks to the Cedar Rapids Chapter for their support. Shirley Wiggins, Dove Tanner, Ruth Hamdorf, and Ruth Failor with her daughter Gayla Nancarrow from Plano, Texas attended. Thanks for coming. I want to thank my social committee: Donna Seliger, Creig Slayton and Frank Strong for setting the time and place and getting the letters off to all of you. Thanks to Frank Strong for keeping things lively and especially for your music and to Donna for making the sloppy joes. Thanks to Marilyn Natale and Teri Taylor for serving and helping with clean up and rides for us. I want to thank the Department for the Blind for the use of the Assembly Room and pool.
Announcements - The Cedar Rapids picnic is August 22. We took a head count to plan for transportation. We will be planning details during our next chapter meeting. Jo Slayton had information available on the new artwork in the building. It was in Braille and large print. Please see her if you are interested. The artwork dedication was July 10th at the Department for the Blind.
Our next chapter meeting will be held On August 14th at 7:00 PM in the Assembly Room at the Department for the Blind. Misty Allison from the Des Moines Police Department will be our guest speaker. I would like to invite you all to come. We hope to have information on services, and we can dialog with the police department for a better understanding of issues of blindness.
Louise Duvall sent me information on t-shirts being sold by Friends of the Library for a fund-raiser. Sizes run from small to 4 XL and cost $15.00. Checks can be made payable to Friends of the Iowa Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped. Mail these checks to: Friends of the Iowa Library for the Blind, P.O. Box 93046, Des Moines, IA 50393-3046 The shirts are 100% cotton. They are royal blue and short sleeved. On the front the letters will be white. Friends and the open book logo will appear on the left chest. On the back will be written: Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped. Let’s spread the word. Jo Slayton spoke about the plans for the Friends to be at the Iowa State Fair. This will give us a chance to help out and to wear our new t- shirts.
Saturday, October 31st is the Orientation Alumni celebration. It is the 50th anniversary of the Orientation Center. Please plan to attend and celebrate.
Cedar Rapids Chapter Update
By Shirley Wiggins
Our chapter has held two meetings since the State convention. Our May meeting was mostly a review of the convention for those members who were unable to attend. Our second meeting was July 15th. Our president, Ruth Hamdorf, Dove Tanner, and I announced we would be attending the Des Moines picnic. We did, and had a nice time seeing some of our long time friends. The food was very tasty. The group then made plans for the picnic which our chapter gives yearly. The picnic will be held August 22. Same time, 11:00am till 4:00pm Same place, Shawnee Park. I'm sure that after 25 years you all know where it is. If not call me at 319-550-6096. I know transportation is difficult and it is a long trip for some, but let's try to keep this and all of our activities going.
It saddens me to announce the loss of 3 of our long time friends. Beulah Maddalozzo passed away in April, Tarecia Hilmer passed away after a very lengthy illness, and on July 5th, Marty Failor left us. Marty was the husband of Ruth Failor. I know I shall surely miss them. And now on to the support group.
We have had some very interesting speakers. In April we had a speaker with information on free transportation for medical appointments and grocery shopping. May brought us Tracey Morsek, new director of the Iowa Library for the Blind. Tracy is a delightful person and of course what made her extra special was the new reading machine that she brought to all of us here in Cedar Rapids who had signed up for one. She spent much time with us explaining the machine, giving everyone a hands on look.
In June we had two speakers. One brought us news about the Linn County transportation bus that can be used to get anywhere with in the county. Our second speakers were with us to update us on what is happening at Low Vision Enhancement. Our speakers in July are well known to most of us. Our own Louise Duvall and Jo Ann Slayton had news of Friends of the Library and many of our members paid their dues or made contributions. The Friends of the Library are selling t-shirts which I know you have read about in this issue of the Bulletin. We all enjoyed Louise and Jo very much. This month we will be planning the support group picnic. It will be held September 2 at Shawnee Park. I have a speaker in October, but that can wait until our next Bulletin. That's enough for this time, but don't forget to come to our picnic the 22 of August. I'll be looking for you.
Dubuque Association of the Blind
By Bob Nesler
We have changed our meeting place for the Dubuque Association of the Blind to the Tri-State Independent Blind Center, and our meeting time has been changed to earlier to noon, the third Monday of each month. It is our hope to attract some of the Tri-State members to our Association, having membership in both. Our members will also have better access to the services at Tri-State.
We are planning to go to the picnic in Cedar Rapids and looking forward to that soon.
We certainly want to take this opportunity to invite you to our Dubuque Association of the Blind Annual Banquet held on Saturday, September 12, at Bishops in Kennedy Mall. We will have a local comedian for our speaker, music, and our usual auction. It will begin at 12 with social hour and eat at 1. Please join us.
(Editor's Note: I only received reports from Des Moines, Cedar Rapids and Dubuque for this issue. A gentle reminder to all chapter presidents and Bulletin reporters that this publication is a great way for you to let our members know about your activities. Let's shoot for 100% of chapters reporting for the Fall Bulletin.)
Tell Me Service, 1-800-555-8355
By Beth Dennis, Children's/Transition Consultant, DARS Blind Services Division
Reprinted from SEE/HEAR, summer 2004, Volume 9, No. 3, http://www.tsbvi.edu/Outreach/seehear/summer04/
A colleague informed me of the Tell Me Service, a telephone service he has used to obtain local travel information, as well as news, sports and entertainment information. A friendly computer-generated female voice answers the telephone, "Good afternoon. Welcome to 1-800-555-TELL," and provides all the categories of information. These categories are Stock Quotes, News, Sports, Entertainment, Travel, and Short Cuts.
Each of these categories has a menu. For example, the menu under the travel section includes Airlines, Hotels, Rental Cars, Taxi, Weather, Traffic, and Driving Directions. The service will obtain location information and connect the caller free of charge to a taxi service. This service will also connect the caller free of charge to the airline, hotel or rental car of their choice, as well as provide weather, traffic and driving directions. The driving directions were clear and easy to follow. Although it was unable to locate the address for the DARS Administrative Building, it was able to provide directions from the intersection where the building is located.