Winter 2010 Bulletin



Published by


Web Site:

Affiliate of the American Council of the Blind

Robert Spangler, President

1505 W. 4th St.

Vinton, IA 52349

(319) 472-4843


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


Ruth E. Hamdorf, Treasurer

439 Lindale Drive, #218

Marion, IA 52302

(319) 373-8608 – Home

E- Mail:


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

Donna Seliger, Immediate Past President - Des Moines,

(515) 284-0505

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Robert Nesler, Director – Dubuque, (563) 557-0987

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

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

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


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


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


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


Editor's Line 4

Fans With Visual Impairments 5

Gain Enhanced Access To

Free Credit Reports in Accessible Formats 7

A Deaf-Blind Person's Experience at the Rose Parade 8

Blind violinist trapped in Haiti's rubble retreats to 10

musical memories

Visually Impaired Skier Gains Attention at Olympics 15

Commission for the Blind Training Director 16

Is Fired Over Safety Regulations

In Memoriam 18

Mary Hockenberg

Patricia Beattie

Jeff DeVilder

Chapter Reports 20

Dubuque News

Des Moines Update


By Mike Hoenig

March, 2010

It's time once again to pack your bags for convention! April 30, May1 and May 2 are the dates. The Holiday Inn Hotel and Suites, 4800 Merle Hay Road, Des Moines is the place.

This year's convention promises a little something for everyone. Trivia night, back by popular demand for a third year, will kick things off on Friday evening. The opening session, featuring remarks from ACB President Mitch Pomerantz, will follow. Hospitality, hosted again this year by the gracious Arlo and Elsie Monthei, will round out the evening.

A sampling of Saturday's programming includes a panel on emergency preparedness, remarks by a staffer from Senator Harkin's office, and updates from Friends of the Library, the Statewide System of Vision Services, and the Iowa Department for the Blind. Frank Strong has assembled an excellent group of exhibitors, and arranged a luncheon speech by Iowa's Poet Laureate, Mary Swander. With all officer positions and four board seats up for election, you'll want to be present on Saturday afternoon to cast your votes. Saturday evening will mark a first for ICUB, as we will have two emcees: Catherine and Jim Witte. You won't want to miss it!

You will also not want to miss the Sunday morning memorial service, led again this year by Shirley Wiggins. I did miss it last year because of a commitment in Davenport, and felt quite a void. Shirley does such an excellent job of inspiring us while honoring our friends and family members who have gone before us. The remainder of Sunday morning will include a board update, chapter reports, and of course the $100 door prize.

We are again offering a $5 discount for those of you who pre-register. Costs are as follows: convention registration: $15; Saturday luncheon: $17; Saturday evening banquet: $23. By pre-registering for all events, you pay $50, while those who register on-site pay $55. The luncheon will feature turkey and chicken wraps plus coleslaw, chips and a drink. The banquet fair sounds terrific: a six-ounce whisky sirloin with green beans, au gratin potatoes, salad, rolls and beverages. There will be a vegetarian option for both the luncheon and banquet. Please complete and return your registration packets to Ruth Hamdorf by April 15. You may now make your hotel reservations by calling the Holiday Inn at 515-278-4755. Rates are $79 per night plus tax. When booking your room, please indicate that you are with the Iowa Council of the United Blind. You must reserve your room by April 8 to qualify for the special ICUB rate.

Secretary Jo Slayton, Treasurer Ruth Hamdorf and I will be updating mailing lists during 2010. An increasing number of Bulletins and other ICUB mailings are being returned by the post office as undeliverable. If your address changes, or if you no longer wish to receive the Bulletin and other ICUB mailings, please call Jo Slayton at 515-279-4284 or write her at 4013 30th Street, Des Moines, IA 50310.

I had the pleasure of visiting the Cedar Rapids Support Group on March 3 to present information on a new emergency preparedness training program. I felt right at home, greeting old friends and making new ones. When Shirley commented on the noise level in the room, a member quipped, "We're a support group, and we're supporting each other!" Shirley, you do a terrific job with that group. Keep it up!

Congratulations to Kadyn Haggard, the 2010 winner of the Marie Hoenig Memorial Perkins Brailler Award. Kadyn is a second grader at Taft Elementary School in Humboldt. He will receive his braillewriter on Saturday, May 1 at the ICUB convention luncheon. Please make a point of greeting this future ICUB member! Thank you, ICUB members, for your ongoing support of this award. A special thanks to Rose Stratton for continuing to carry out Bob's wishes by making posthumous contributions to the fund in his name.

For those who cannot make it to this year's convention, Happy Spring. Hope you can join us next year. To the rest of you--start studying your trivia! See you in Des Moines.



(Editor's Note: We open this issue with a tribute to the start of the baseball season and to Major League baseball for making its website accessible. I've visited the site and am amazed by the improvements made during the off-season. Go Cardinals!)

NEW YORK, February 11, 2010 - Baseball fans with visual impairments will benefit from the implementation of functional improvements to, the official Web site of Major League Baseball, and all 30 individual Club sites as a result of a joint collaboration between MLB Advanced Media, LP (MLBAM), the American Council of the Blind, Bay State Council of the Blind and California Council of the Blind. All three organizations applaud this fan initiative taken by MLBAM.

"MLBAM has undertaken groundbreaking work to make its web sites accessible and has assumed a strong leadership position among sports, media and entertainment properties in doing so," said Mitch Pomerantz, President of the American Council of the Blind. "We certainly urge similar sites to make this level of commitment in following MLBAM's lead."

As part of its initiative, launched an accessible media center for its Gameday Audio(tm) subscribers, offering features such as volume control, ability to choose the home or away feed and access to archived games. Additionally, has ensured that fans with visual impairments can continue to participate in the annual online voting programs associated with the All-Star Game and will be providing an accessibility page on its site detailing information on accessibility, usability tips and customer service resources. As it continues to deliver technological innovations for following baseball games, will make additional accessibility enhancements available to fans with visual impairments.

Brian Charlson, a Boston baseball fan and Director of Computer Training Services at the Carroll Center for the Blind in Newton, Massachusetts, described how's accessibility efforts have improved his enjoyment of the game: "As a member of the blind community, the kind of changes was willing to make on its web sites keeps me coming back for more. It shows how much can be done when people with disabilities find willing partners. For example, with the changes in Gameday Audio, I find myself enjoying switching back and forth between the home and away broadcasters the same way my sighted friends do. And knowing my votes were counted in this year's All-Star balloting made listening to the game much more meaningful. I'm excited about what has done and about its commitment to further improvements." utilized guidelines issued by the Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). The web content accessibility guidelines are of particular benefit to blind baseball fans who use a screen reader, through which information on a page is read aloud, or magnification technology on their computers and who rely on a keyboard instead of a mouse.


(Reprinted from the ACB Leadership listserv, November 8, 2009.)

Dear ACB Members and Friends,

As part of the historic agreement negotiated by ACB, The California Council of the Blind (CCB) and several blind individuals, free annual credit reports available through are now designed to be accessible to blind consumers. Each person is entitled to one free report each year from each of three different companies. By the end of this coming December, these companies will also be providing the free reports in Braille, Large Print, and Audio formats. ACB and CCB used Structured Negotiations to reach the landmark agreement with the Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. To access your free on-line credit report, go to . After selecting your state and requesting your report, you will be taken to a form that must be filled out. At the end of the form there is a security feature (known as a Captcha) as well as an alternative request page for blind and visually impaired consumers who cannot see the characters that need to be entered into the box. Unlike some on-line audio Captchas that are difficult to understand, the security feature on the credit report site includes a phone number to call that will clearly provide you with the code you need to enter into the site. These security features are designed to help companies make sure that you are a real person, and not a computer. The credit reporting companies have worked hard over the past several months to make the Captcha on this site an accessible one. When you have completed the form and the security feature, you will be asked to select which of the three companies you want to receive your report from.

There will be a small number of people who will be unable to obtain their report on-line because of the need for additional authentication. This happens with sighted people also and has nothing to do with visual impairment. If this happens to you, and you are unable to get your report, please contact our lawyers using the information below. If you have any difficulties obtaining your report, please contact them as well. The companies are working closely with ACB and its lawyers to make sure the reports are accessible and the process is as usable as possible. If problems occur we will try to resolve them as soon as possible. Feedback can be sent to our lawyers, Lainey Feingold and Linda Dardarian, by emailing, or calling (510) 548-5062.

Please keep this information for future reference and share it with other blind or visually impaired people you know.

Melanie Brunson, Executive Director

American Council of the Blind


(Retrieved from the ACB Leadership Listserv, January 1, 2010.)

I thought some of you might be interested to read about my experience at the Rose Parade this morning. I live three blocks from the parade route, so I had no excuse to miss it! My description is from a DB (deaf-blind) perspective, with extra information provided by my sighted-hearing friend.

First, the Ohio State School for the Blind marching band was great! They were the first marching band, and people cheered them enthusiastically. Imagine marching for 5.5 miles while walking with a guide and playing an instrument! Many people gave them standing ovations.

The parade began with police on motorcycles who make sure that the street is clear for the performers to come through safely. They wore their regular police uniforms, but their motorcycles were decorated with bouquets of flowers on the back. My friend said the flowers looked a lot like centerpieces you would find on a table. I asked if they looked a little like fluffy rabbit tails on the motorcycles, and he said yes.

The Rose Parade has three types of participants: floats, marching bands, and equestrian (horse) teams. I will describe each type.

The floats are completely covered in flowers and other natural materials like leaves, bark, and seeds. They all have different themes. For instance, one was a tall ship with cannons and big sails. One had a ski slope with real pine trees on it, and a house at the top with a chimney blowing smoke. One had a model of the Rose Bowl stadium, and another one had a big model of the Hollywood Bowl, which is a famous outdoor concert hall. Several floats were sponsored by cities near Pasadena. The float for South Pasadena had a model of their city hall and their water tower, and a children's orchestra rode on it and played music. It was like the whole town was squeezed onto a float! Near the parade route, there are huge tow trucks waiting just in case a float breaks down. At one point, the parade stopped, and Bob's Towing, a tow truck big enough to pull a semi-truck, drove along the side of the parade to help a stranded float and pulled it along for the rest of the parade.

The marching bands are the most fun part for a deaf-blind person--or at least for me. They have big drum sections, and I could feel the beat in my chest. Many of the drumbeats were complicated and interesting. There were many excellent high school bands, and one from the Kansai region of Japan.

The equestrian teams had a lot of variety. There were Victorian ladies dressed in big skirts, riding side-saddle, which means that they sit sideways with their legs together on one side of the horse. There were Los Angeles mounted police. There was a military unit from Ft. Hood, Texas, with soldiers in uniform riding horses, and they had huge pack mules riding with them. Behind each equestrian group, there were three people wearing

white Rose Parade uniforms who cleaned up what the horses left on the street. One person has a broom, another has a shovel, and the third person has a trash can with a Rose Parade logo on it. The audience enjoyed cheering for the horse clean-up crews.

Now here is a little behind-the-scenes description of the audience. Every year, people camp out overnight on New Year's Eve so that they can get a good view of the parade the next morning. Every parking lot in Pasadena is filled with campers and RVs. People bring grills and chairs and tents, and they sleep in sleeping bags on the sidewalks and in the streets. It is much more orderly than you might imagine. By the time the parade starts, people's chairs are lined up in neat rows like any other audience. Families sit together in chairs or on blankets, and some even bring old sofas to sit on, even though they're not supposed to. During the parade, I could smell the onions and hamburgers people were cooking on the grills they brought from home. After the parade, it only takes a few hours before everything is cleaned up and the city returns to normal again.

I hope you enjoyed this description. I was surprised how much I could enjoy the parade, even without being able to see or hear much. Especially the marching bands. And especially the Ohio State School for the Blind!


By Michael Sallah

(Reprinted from The Miami Herald, January 20, 2010.)

Romel Joseph, a blind violinist, was pulled from the rubble of his conservatory in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, after 18 hours. His pregnant wife, who was also in the school, was not found. Romel is not sure if he will ever play violin again because his left hand was crushed in the rubble. Romel spoke about his ordeal from the side of his hospital bed at Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami, Florida, Wednesday, January 20, 2010.

MIAMI -- Somewhere in the dust and blood of his own grave, blind violinist Romel Joseph began to play the strains of Tchaikovsky's violin concerto.

Even with his left leg pinned in the rubble of his collapsed music school, he moved onto Brahms and then Mozart.

By the time he was pulled from the ruins of the New Victorian School 18 hours later, he had recited every concerto in his mind that he had ever performed during his renowned career.

"I never thought I would get out," said Joseph, who has already undergone two surgeries at Miami's Jackson Memorial Hospital to repair his shattered legs.

"The earth just opened up."

Despite his remarkable rescue after last week's earthquake, the 50-year-old violinist -- like so much of his homeland -- must now confront wrenching losses.

His pregnant wife, Myslie, 26, perished in the disaster two floors below him. The school where he taught classical music to impoverished Haitians, in the Port-au-Prince neighborhood of Turgeau near the National Palace, is destroyed.

Yet even in the heartache, Joseph said he came to a stark conclusion while lying in the rubble: He needs to rebuild his school and continue teaching children the beauty of classical music.

"As long as Haiti has children, you have a purpose of being there," said the divorced father of two children who reside in Miami. "As long as there are kids there, they have to have a reasonable level of health, and they have to have an education."

He may not be able to join them. With two severe fractures in his left hand, the Juilliard graduate may not be able to play the violin again.

"Two of my fingers are fractured," he said from his hospital bed on Wednesday. "At this time, the doctors don't know."

Remarkably, the school he founded burned to the ground precisely 10 years to the day of the earthquake -- Jan. 12, 2000 -- after a short-circuit. Within 12 days, Joseph was teaching classes again.

Born in poverty in a northern village in Haiti, the middle of five children, Joseph -- blind in one eye and barely able to see shadows in the other -- was raised by nuns in a boarding school in Port-au-Prince. There, he was first exposed to the string instrument that would become his life's passion.

With the help of scholarships and a Fulbright grant, he went on to the University of Cincinnati and The Juilliard School, where he earned degrees in violin performance. By the time he trained with the Boston Symphony, he was married with two children to come.

Instead of launching his own musical career in the United States, he turned to help the poorest of the poor in Haiti.

"He could have recorded. He could have done so many things. But he wanted to go back," said his daughter, Victoria, 22, a senior music major at the University of Miami. "He would say, 'I came from nothing. One pair of socks. Holes in my shoes. You have to do what you can for others.' "

After opening his private, nonprofit school in 1991, partly as a way to safely teach his children during a violent period in Haiti, he began providing music and general education to grade school children. Students are able to attend through scholarships and private funding.

It was while he was trapped in the twisted metal and concrete blocks -- cramped, trembling and alone -- that he said his life's arc passed through his mind.

He thought of his daughter and son, Bradley, 17. He thought of his pregnant wife, whom he married in October. He thought of his students, who were out of the building when the quake struck. "That would have been a true disaster," he said.

Joseph just as easily could have been with his wife when the concrete, five-story school was ripped into pieces. He had just left their apartment on the first floor when he walked to the third floor of the school to deliver a phone message to a friend. "I was on the balcony," he said.