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News and Views December 2015

National Federation of the Blind of Arizona

News and Views

December, 2015

In This Issue

Greetings from Our President
Word on the Street
Guess Who Just Took Another Trip Around the Sun
Freedom Scientific and Optelec Join Forces in Assistive Technology Merger
Lawsuit Challenges Charge for Wheelchair Accessible Taxi Service
Join Us at VRATE on Friday
Summer Internships Available in Washington D.C.
Bringing Home the Christmas Tree
Health and Wellness Opportunities at SAAVI
Your SHIP Has Come In
The Bookshelf, 2 Selections
Holiday Safety and Security, Part 2
Packaging Tips and Tricks
Blindfold Bowling
Healthy Choice, Healthy Living, A Time to Celebrate
East Valley Christmas Party
Phoenix Chapter Christmas Party
West Valley Chapter News
Flick, Swipe, and Tap, Dictation
The Recipie Box, Velvet Mashed Potatoes
Debbies List
Stay Connected
Grins and Groans, the Usual Endings


The NFB of Arizona newsletter has been produced in such a manner that makes it easier to stroll through the articles. If you are using JAWS, System Access, NVDA, or Window Eyes, press the letter H to move through the headings. If you wish to go back to a previous article, simply press the shift key + the letter H. For MAC users, press Control Option Command plus the letter H and to go backwards through the articles press Control Option Command shift plus the letter H.

Greetings from Our President

Hello, fellow Federationists,

Whether you are celebrating Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, or Yule Solstice, I wish you and yours a happy and safe holiday season!

The Arizona Parents of Blind Children division of the NFBA has just reinvigorated itself and is looking for parents and teachers of blind children to join up. Melanie Martinez is the new, eager, and motivated president of the division and is starting the year with a membership recruitment drive. If you, a parent, or teacher you know want to know more, please contact Melanie at,
520 977 1724.

We will have a sizeable contingent of NFBA members participating in the 2016 Washington Seminar January 25 through 28. The deadline for reservations and request for financial assistance is coming up. If you have considered participating, there may still be room for you. Please call me as soon as possible for details.
Enjoy the holidays, and a happy new year to you,

Bob Kresmer, President
1 888 899 6322.

Word on the Street

Sorry folks, no news was sent in this month to share.

Got any news to share with us? Send it in to:
We look forward to sharing your news with our extended family here within the NFB of Arizona.

Guess Who Just Took another Trip around the Sun?

Happy birthday to the following people!

December 7, Jenny Kasl, from Tempe.
December 10, Kristi Bruchok, from Chandler.
December 17, Lynn Kresmer, from Tucson.
December 21, Garret Mooney, from Mesa.
December 24, Eve Sanchez, from Northern Arizona.
December 26, Habib Pierce-Byrd, from Tempe.
December 30, Debra Smith, from Tempe.
Please help us build our birthday list, by sending your first and last name, date of birth, (year optional), and the city you live in to:

Freedom Scientific and Optelec Join Forces in Assistive Technology Merger

ST. PETERSBURG, FL and BARENDRECHT, THE NETHERLANDS - NOVEMBER 16, 2015. Freedom Scientific and Optelec announced today that the two companies have merged to create the worlds largest assistive technology provider for the visually impaired. The two companies have a long history of providing innovative technology solutions that enable blind and low vision individuals to reach their full potential, to gain an education, obtain employment, succeed in professional careers, and live independently throughout their lives.

quote, Combining our complementary businesses gives us the broadest portfolio in the industry and unmatched worldwide distribution and customer support, quote, said John Blake, CEO of Freedom Scientific. Quote, The combined company will be able to offer customers a broad portfolio of well known brands of video magnifiers, scanning and reading solutions, refreshable Braille displays, and the industrys most recognized screen reading software, JAWS® for Windows. Quote.

quote, Our employees are energized by the capability that results from this merger and we are eager to start working together to deliver market leading solutions, training and support to the broadest audience of blind and low vision users, quote, said Maarten Bosch, CEO of Optelec.

Both companies were recently acquired by Vector Capital, a San Francisco based firm that invests in market leading global technology companies.

quote, We are excited to bring together two of the industrys leading companies to create a global, diversified end to end technology provider to the low vision and blind community, quote, said Andy Fishman, a Managing Director at Vector Capital. Quote, The combination, integration and platform created will enable continued investment, support and growth for the combined company. Quote.

The combined holding company will retain the individual Freedom and Optelec brands and product portfolio as the two businesses work on the integration and realization of all the anticipated customer benefits.

Lawsuit Challenges Charge for Wheelchair Accessible Taxi Service

November 19, 2015

A class action lawsuit filed today in the United States District Court for the District of
Arizona alleges that Total Transit Inc. (TTI), doing business as Discount Cab, violates federal and state law by charging wheelchair users a $10.00 fee per trip in addition to the standard fare, because they require accessible taxis. TTI is a large transportation provider in the Southwest, and Discount Cab is one of the largest taxi companies in the United States. The complaint alleges that Discount Cab’s policy discriminates against persons with mobility disabilities and violates both the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Arizonans with Disabilities Act.

The suit is brought by three individual Plaintiffs who use wheelchairs because of mobility disabilities, and who need a lift or a ramp to board a taxi. Plaintiffs have used Discount Cab or sought to use Discount Cab but were charged or deterred by the charge of an additional $10 for the taxi trip. Plaintiffs are represented by Disability Rights Advocates and the Arizona Center for Disability Law, both non profit organizations specializing in litigation on behalf of people with disabilities.

In Arizona, Discount Cab operates a fleet of more than 1,100 taxis, of which 132 are wheelchair accessible. TTI is a comprehensive mobility management company which provides fixed route transit and paratransit in addition to retail taxi service. TTI has operations throughout Arizona and in several other states, including Colorado and Utah.

Bill Stokes, one of the Plaintiffs in the lawsuit, said, quote, We are not looking for preferential treatment from Discount Cab. We are just looking for the same taxi ride, for the same price, as everyone else. It is prejudicial for Discount Cab to charge us this extra fee because of our wheelchairs. Quote.

quote, Discount Cab told me that the $10.00 charge was because I needed an accessible van,” said Plaintiff Jennifer Longdon. Quote, But a person who needs an accessible taxi does not have the choice to ride in a different type of vehicle. I believe the surcharge violates the ADA and needs to be corrected. We tried to address this through dialog, but Discount was not open to education on the ADA. Quote.

Plaintiff Donna Powers agreed. Quote, For me, this case is about equality. I should have the same opportunity to use Discount Cabs services as someone without a disability. There should not be additional fees or obstacles in the way, quote she said.

Jessica Jansepar Ross, Staff Attorney at the Arizona Center for Disability Law, said, quote, We appreciate that Discount Cab includes accessible vans in its fleet to provide lifts and ramps to individuals with mobility impairments: this is good for the community and good for Discount Cabs business. But the additional costs of operating accessible vans should not be passed on to people with disabilities. Quote.

Mary Lee Smith, Co Director of Litigation at Disability Rights Advocates, said, quote, Transportation can be a real challenge for people with mobility disabilities, who often do not have access to their own vehicle and who frequently cannot depend on paratransit because it is unreliable. Accessible taxis facilitate societal integration for persons with disabilities, and Discount Cabs $10 charge undermines this potential. Quote.

Join us at VRATE on Friday

By Barbara McDonald

Are you or is someone you know experiencing vision loss or a combined vision and hearing loss?
Are you looking for information, help or support with your, or a family members vision or combined vision and hearing issues?

If so, mark your calendar for December 11, 2015 from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm, for the 20th Annual Vision Rehabilitation and Assistive Technology Expo (VRATE) at the Phoenix Convention Center in the South Building located at 33 South 3rd Street.
At this FREE event, there will be speakers and exhibitors presenting information and products that will be of great interest to you.

There will be presentations from retinal specialists where you will learn about the newest eye care treatments and ongoing research.
Blindness consumer and provider organizations will be there sharing information on the services and support they provide.
There will be presentations on website accessibility, assistive technology and the Business Enterprise Program.
The captivating Jessica Loomer will present her popular, Blind Girls Can Rock Heels talk, on dating and relationships.
The movie, Going Blind, with closed captioning and audio descriptions, will be available for viewing throughout the day.
You will gain knowledge about the Talking Book program and hear about web based radio stations with broadcast content specifically intended for people with eyesight disabilities.
There will also be opportunities for you to get a personal hands on look at the newest assistive technology products.

If you have a lot of questions about vision loss or combined vision and hearing loss and the services, tools and methods that support independence and maximize functioning.
The answers can be found at VRATE.

For the most current information, go to,

Summer Internships Available in Washington D.C.

The AAPD Summer Internship Program places college students, graduate students, law students, and recent graduates with all types of disabilities in paid 10 week summer internships in Congressional offices, federal agencies, non profits, and for profit organizations in the Washington, DC area. Each intern is matched with a mentor who will assist them with their career goals. AAPD provides the interns with a stipend, transportation to and from Washington, DC, and fully accessible housing.

The 2016 Application is Now Live!
Please submit all documents to by Friday, January 15th at 5:00pm Eastern Standard Time

At the beginning of the summer, interns participate in a 1 week orientation session to learn about AAPD as well as the disability rights movement, meet the other interns, and participate in a variety of engaging workshops and events. As part of the AAPD network, interns also receive opportunities to attend events on Capitol Hill, conferences, community events, happy hours, and more.

Bringing Home the Christmas Tree

Below is a link to an audio version, of one of the stories in our 4th Kernel Book called, “Making Hay”. This story, written by Dr. Marc Maurer, relates the experiences and traditions of the Maurer family during the holiday season. “Bringing Home the Christmas Tree” is a memory that many of us cherish when thinking about our joyous childhood lives. Please take a moment to listen to this story as we enter this enchanting time of year, and relive those special memories! Click on the link below to listen to the story.
Bringing Home The Christmas Tree

Health and Wellness Opportunities at SAAVI

By Mike Armstrong

My name is Mike Armstrong and I am the Health and Wellness Coordinator for the Southern Arizona association for the Visually Impaired (SAAVI). As a totally blind Certified Personal Trainer I understand how serious the need is to improve the physical fitness of our VI/blind community. This is why I am excited about a fitness/health and wellness program we are continuing to grow. We are expanding our services in recreation and personal fitness training to the visually impaired of all ages with an emphasis on the senior community in the greater Phoenix area. This will enable financially challenged visually impaired to receive free personal and group fitness training. Through the use of our proven Health and Wellness model we assess the participant’s fitness level and build a custom program to fit their needs regardless of age or fitness level.

Children that are blind or visually impaired are often left out of physical activities. This is generally because the PE teacher does not have the time to work with them one on one. This can lead to a lack of physical fitness, depression, anxiety and obesity throughout their lives into adulthood.

In regards to our adult and senior population the loss of eyesight is extremely difficult to adapt to. Movement in general is difficult and the lack of confidence in their environment often leads to a less active lifestyle. A lack of exercise often results in several serious medical issues even death.

Our personal fitness trainers use the guidelines and regiments from the National Academy of Sports Medicine’s Optimal Performance Training program for weight, cardio, flexibility, and endurance training. We utilize classes in Karate, Jujitsu, Tai Chi Zoomba, and Yoga to improve strength, balance, and endurance. In addition we run outings exposing the participants to recreational activities like hiking, swimming, rock climbing, Stand Up Paddle Boarding, kayaking, and tandem cycling. We also run workshops for both adult and youth on adapted sports like Goalball, Beep Baseball, Blind Golf, and water sports. Now here is the best part of all, it is totally free!.

If you are interested in our program, or know somebody that would benefit from our services, please contact Me at, If you would like to contact me via phone, you can do so at, 602 795 0195, extension 102.

Your SHIP Has Come In

Do you have Medicare or Medicaid health insurance? If so, you may be one of the many people who have questions about these programs. Perhaps, you are not sure whether you are taking full advantage of them. Maybe you are not sure about your eligibility and would like to get personalized information. Sometimes problems need to be resolved.

There is an excellent source of help. It is called SHIP, which stands for The State Health Insurance Assistance Program. It is described on the SHIP website as quote, a national program that offers one on one counseling and assistance to people with Medicare and their families. Through federal grants directed to states, SHIP programs provide free counseling and assistance via telephone and face to face interactive sessions, public education presentations and programs, and media activities, end quote.

Every state has a SHIP program, but they are called by various names. To speak to a SHIP counselor here in Arizona, call 800 432 4040

The Bookshelf, 2 Selections

Do you love to curl up with a good book? Been meaning to read that best seller? Here are two book selections that you may wish to read! If you have a book that you absolutely loved and want to share your thoughts about it with us, please send in your write up to:
Happy reading!

Book #1, The Martian: A Novel


Written by Andy Weir

Read by J. P Linton

Reading time 12 hours, 45 minutes
Genre: Science Fiction. Bestsellers.
Six days after becoming the first man to walk on Mars, astronaut Mark Watney is caught in a wind storm. Though his support crew thinks he died, Mark survived and now faces abandonment, failed machinery, and a hostile environment. Strong language. Bestseller, 2011.
Download The Martian: a novel

Book #2, Undue Influence


Written by Steve Martini

Read by Ray Foushee

Reading Time 14 hours, 7 minutes

Genre: Mystery and detective stories. Legal fiction.
Before she died, the wife of attorney Paul Madriani asked that he help her younger sister, Laurel Vega. Laurel is fighting her ex-husband and his new wife for custody of her teenaged children. Then, the second Mrs. Vega is killed and Laurel is in realj trouble. She was seen at the house, she fled the state, and she destroyed evidence. Strong language. Explicit descriptions of sex, and some violence.
Download Undue influence

Holiday Safety and Security, Part 2

By Robert D. Sollars

This is the 2nd part of my attempt to help you stay safe during the holidays. To fully be safe would take an entire book. But in the meantime, here are the last 6 tips for this Christmas.

Check your rear view mirror frequently. Again, this may seem a tad bit weird and unusual during the holiday season, but the reasoning is just as simple. Having a car load of gifts can be an invitation to criminals. They may not assault or rob you in the mall parking lot, but they can follow you home and take what they want when you are most vulnerable, like in the driveway or garage unloading those special packages.

If you have spent a hard day shopping, what can happen, especially, if you are on a limited budget. All of those gifts that you shopped for, budgeted for, coveted, and thought were perfect for the receiver will be stolen. That means that your entire season will be spent with anguish and anxiety and you will miss the joy of giving to your closest loved ones!

Now, for some other tips. Always check for frayed cords on your lights or other appliances and never put them under rugs. This may seem a bit obvious to everyone, but it really is not. Christmas time is when most house fires will occur. And because of this, you have to be even more careful when plugging in those beautiful lights on that glorious tree to celebrate the season.
Fire hazards will happen if a cord is the least bit frayed and placed under a rug to prevent people from tripping on it. Inspect the cords and plugs carefully before utilizing them to decorate. If they are the least bit frayed, then use them away from other flammable items. However, the best solution is to throw them away and buy new cords and new sets of lights if possible.

Also, ensure that your outlets are not overloaded with all those pretty lights and other items. While the multiple outlet extensions say they are safe, take care to ensure your tree is well watered and the lights are out. A Christmas tree can literally go up in flames within 30 seconds. It becomes a torch if ignited. So ensure that you use an artificial tree or that the tree you put up in the window is fresh and well watered every day to prevent it from drying out. Always turn out the lights when you go to bed or leave the house.

LOCK THE HOUSE, (INCLUDING THE BACK GATE) & WINDOWS!You may think this is a super simple thing, but it is not. People have to be constantly reminded to lock their windows, doors, & back gates to try and keep criminals out of their homes. Our minds are on other happier subjects. Sometimes we forget to lock the house, and if a door, window, gate, or otherwise is left unlocked, then a criminal can enter the home.

Wrap those pretty packages and place them in a closet. Does this sound a little weird? Well, it is. But, you can imagine the surprise on a criminals face when he opens the gifts meant for your family! Did you realize that it is not unusual for a thief to break in thru the front window and take the packages from under the tree? Despite the racket it makes, criminals will do most anything to give gifts they did not work, shop or pay for!
So, make it difficult for them! If they do break in to steal your packages, then they will be sorely disappointed when they see nothing under the tree!

I hope this, and last months article has given you some tips that you may utilize to help keep you safe and secure during the holidays. I sincerely hope that this upcoming holiday, whichever one you celebrate, will be happy, joyous, and full of the heart warming love that it deserves.

Packaging Tips and Tricks

By John Justice
Reprinted from the Consumer Vision Magazine
December, 2015

Here is some important info for shipping those special packages to loved ones during the holidays!

When preparing a package for shipment, the most important thing to remember is to plan for the worst, as it just might happen. When you are packaging anything, there are three basic dangers to consider.

1. Impact from outside sources
2. Change in the internal weight distribution
3. Vibration

As your package travels through the system, it's going to rub shoulders with other items and be bounced around quite a bit by automated handling equipment. If the contents of your shipment are delicate in nature, remember that at no time should the contents ever be allowed to come into contact with the outside of the container. Follow the three rules of packing.

1. Protect
2. Isolate
3. Encapsulate

Have you ever wondered why an electronic device is fitted into a Styrofoam shell which seems to be much thicker than it has to be? Well, the fact is that it must be in that kind of enclosure for the reasons shown above.

The device must be isolated from any impact that might occur during transit. In order to prevent damage from inevitable contact, the package is designed to encapsulate the product. The foam absorbs any vibration and cancels it out. You may have noticed that occasionally you will receive a box which is definitely travel-worn: scratched, dented, or even torn. Yet the contents have survived intact. Many manufacturers spend inordinate amounts of money in designing the packaging they use. It is a fact that if you package a fresh egg correctly, it can make it all the way to Russia without breaking.

Part of the process of preparing anything for shipment is making sure that what you send cannot move inside the outer container. If the contents of your carton are heavy enough, they can subside to one side of the box during transit and create so much pressure that the seams will split. In a modern shipping environment, there is no such thing as package orientation; "This Side Up" just doesn't work. The valuable contents should be centralized and should remain stable, no matter what happens to the external carton.

Rigid material such as glass or china will often be a victim of vibration. An aircraft or truck often generates vibration during normal operation. If an item you're trying to ship contains glass panels, remove them if at all possible. Pack the glass sheets separately. If the glass panels can't be removed, try running a strip of duct tape from each corner of the glass toward the center. Allow the strips to meet in the middle of the glass. This simple trick tends to disturb the vibration created in rigid structures like glass and will often save the mirror or glass door. If a vibration is set up between the glass components and the jet engines or road noise, the glass will shatter without ever being impacted. If you are packaging china or glasses, once again, the key is putting a lot of absorbent material between the pieces. Try opening a new set of china or glassware. A lot of effort goes into isolating and protecting those pieces.

Some of the cheapest packaging material available is newspaper, but it has one distinct problem. It will change shape when a great deal of weight is applied. Try this yourself. If you wad up paper and place it inside a plastic bag, at first you have a large volume of space taken up by the paper and the air surrounding it. Then stand on that bag. Suddenly, you have lost no less than 60% of the volume. That is what can happen on a smaller scale within the carton. Also, newspaper can be used to wrap individual pieces, but the printing ink will often rub off onto the china or glass. Printer’s ink is toxic. If newspaper has been used for packing, every piece of glass or china should be washed thoroughly before use.

There are three kinds of packing material we can recommend without reservation.
1. Styrofoam ball packing (so-called “peanuts”)
2. Bubble wrap
3. Corrugated paper matting

This type of packing material has its drawbacks, but “peanuts” are available from almost any packaging store. The product comes either loose or in pre-filled plastic mats. This material will split, crack, and flatten when struck, but it will never flatten entirely, and even the broken pieces will still have the ability to cancel out impact or vibration.

Peanuts are extremely difficult to use in the loose state, especially for those with limited or no vision. The individual balls are extremely light and will float around with the slightest breath of air. Even someone passing nearby can cause the peanuts to rise and drift around. They can clog a vacuum cleaner quickly, and are sometimes dangerous to pets who try to eat them. The safest way to use peanuts is by enclosing them in plastic bags. The bags can be shaped or tucked into open areas within a carton and do make excellent packing tools.

When used in sufficient quantity, this remarkable packaging material is the safest and most reliable form of protection you can buy. The blisters are filled with air, and they will explode when enough weight is placed on them, but it takes a concerted effort to break all the bubbles in a given area. When several layers are used in conjunction with one another, tests have proven that very little can completely rupture the barrier they present.

This product is not as easy to find as the others mentioned here. It is a good foundation and can be used with the other materials. Hundreds of layers of paper are pressed in a manner that creates padding. Because of its multi-layer construction, punctures from outside are unlikely. This type of packaging is used with furniture and other items in which the surface is delicate and the product is relatively bulky.

One of the best ways to deal with the isolation of the contents within a larger container is to build an enclosure around the items. Use cardboard and bend or cut it to form a structure which allows for the centralization of the item and permits the introduction of other packaging aids, such as bubble wrap or peanuts. The structure should be designed in such a way that it comes into evenly distributed contact with all six sides of the interior of the box. During transit, a box might end up on any one of the four sides or on the top or bottom.

Make your structure fit tightly enough that it can't move, but allow enough room for the leaves of the carton to close smoothly. Do not leave any free space at any point which is in contact with the inner sides of the box.

Never, never use duct tape to seal a carton. Duct tape is not water resistant. If the box is outside in a rainstorm during transfer from the aircraft or truck, the tape will break free and the contents may be damaged or lost entirely. Use only approved packaging tape. There are several types of packaging tape. The most common variety is the two-inch plastic packaging tape which comes in a roll. The manufacturers present this tape with a relatively large diameter sleeve. This makes the packaging easier. You can roll the tape along the seam for smoother application.

Reinforced paper packaging tape is also available. The paper is filled with linen threads throughout its length. This is harder to use, as it has to be moistened as it is applied. It too comes in large rolls and is quite effective.

The first layer of tape is the vital one. Begin with the opening of the carton facing up. Try to run the roll along with the seam at the center. This allows for the most contact with the adhesive on either side of the joint. Start with a single strip along the seam and then add additional layers as seems appropriate. Remember that the tape never sticks as well to itself as it does to the surface of the box.

Don't be afraid to "strap" your box. After binding the center seam, run reinforcing strips in a perpendicular fashion around the container as well. These straps will reduce the pressure born by the paper joints in a cardboard box. Remember that your box might be at the bottom of a large stack in the aircraft or truck. Secure taping gives the box a better chance of arriving intact.

Never, never wrap your carton! For security reasons, most shipping companies will not accept externally wrapped packages. This is true of both domestic and international shipments. Please remove or deface any prior address information to avoid the misdirection of your package.

Finally, whenever possible, use plain brown containers, those without company stamps or signs. Nobody needs to know what is in your box if it's traveling within the U. S. If your package is going outside of the country, you are required by law to provide a detailed list of the contents, which is carried outside the container. This rule is sometimes circumvented by the postal authorities, but today, even the Post Office is finding that they, too, must comply with international law.

As a rule, most companies provide coverage against loss or damage. It isn't expensive, usually about 50 cents per $100 of coverage. Paying for insurance during transit is recommended. Most company insurance policies will allow for the cost involved in replacing anything lost or damaged during transit. Over-insuring is a costly mistake. Each shipping company will research the replacement cost and reimburse you on that basis.

Blindfold Bowling

Blindfold Bowling is a fully accessible audio game that is similar to the ten pin bowling. In Blindfold Bowling, you can play by yourself, against a variety of computer opponents, or side by side with another person.
You throw the bowling ball by either flicking with one finger, or aiming with one finger and flicking, or setting the exact angle with your thumb and forefinger, and then flick. The faster you flick, the faster you throw the ball. You hear the ball rolling down the alley, and hitting pins. Like real bowling, you can get a strike, or a spare, or even miss completely with a gutter ball. And you can post your high scores to Facebook or Twitter.

Healthy Choice, Healthy Living, A Time to Celebrate

By Lawrence MacLellan

December is a month where there is lots of celebration and gift exchange, not to mention lots of calories.
I would like to focus on the celebration and gifts that we indulge in, and oh by the way, good luck with the calories.
We may have more to celebrate than you think. We may have more gifts than you think. Let me explain.
Recently I was chatting with a neighbour who has always taking an interest in me. She is 16 years old and over the years she would ask me lots of questions about how I do things like shoveling snow, cleaning my house and the thousands other things that blind people do.
She recently asked me if there was anything that could be done to fix or improve my vision, and so I asked her if she thought that my life would be a lot better if I was born with normal sight. She said, quote, well of course it would quote. I responded with quote, maybe I would have been a drug addict or an alcoholic. Maybe I would be in prison, maybe I would have turned out to be a real nasty person. Quote.
She said that I would never turn out like that and I said there is no guarantee how I would have turned out.
How much has our blindness shaped our lives.? Has it made us into the people that we are today?
Let me give you a few examples in my life. I met my wife through a blind sport event. She volunteered to help at the event and that is how I met her. We have 3 wonderful children and I received a book from the library for the blind on reflexology, and that led me to a full time career that I do not think I would have found if I did not receive that book over 22 years ago. Would my life have been better? I do not think so.There are many other examples in my life, and so I invite you to take a look at how your blindness has shaped your life.
Yes, maybe your life would have been easier, but there is no guarantee how your life would have ended up. It is very easy to think that it would be better but take a look at who is in your life. Do you have a partner that you love? Do you have children, friends and any number of other blessings in your life that your blindness brought you? It is so easy to focus on our blindness and not see the gifts we have.
I invite you this season to look at all of the blessings, all of the gifts that we have. Celebrate this season. You have more to celebrate than you know.
Have a wonderful time this December with all those wonderful things that your blindness gave to you.

East Valley Christmas Party

By Megan Homrighausen

Warm Season's Greetings to you, our Federation Family!

This was a great year for the East Valley Chapter!

You are cordially invited to our annual Holiday Celebration.
What: East Valley Holiday Party
When: Saturday December 19th 2015
Time: 3:00 PM to whenever
Where: At Ruth Swenson & Jim Sohls Home
311 West McNair

We will be doing a gift exchange. If you would like to participate, please bring a gift to share worth about $10 or more.

We will also be auctioning off a very nice holiday basket to help the student division. If you plan on bidding please bring cash.

This is a potluck celebration. Please give Megan a call, and let her know the type of dish you intend to bring with you to the party. Contact her at, 480 510 6196.
Thank you very much, and see you at the party!

Phoenix Chapter Christmas Party

By Sharonda Greenlaw

Well, December is here! And, do you know what that means? That means it is almost time for the Phoenix Chapter Christmas Party!!!!

Come celebrate with us at Claim Jumpers Restaurant at, 1530 West Baseline Road, in Tempe!! The date and time is Saturday, December 12, from 4:00 to 7:00 PM. We are ordering from the open menu this time, so you can customize your meal to what you like! If you have questions, just call, text, or inbox me! We look forward to seeing you there!!!

Remember, Claim Jumpers is accessible by both Phoenix and East Valley Dial a Ride without transfer. Also remember that we are having agift exchange. If you want to participate, bring a gift with at least a $10 value and mark it m for male, or f for female. If it is unmarked, then it will be distributed to anyone who is participating in this years exchange, regardless of gender. Get a gift! Receive a gift in turn as well!! Come ready to celebrate the holidays and have a great time!!

West Valley Chapter News

By Marc Schmidt

Dear fellow federationists:
Since many of you were unable to attend our November 4th chapter meeting,
a chapter board meeting was held last Friday, at which the following 3
items were discussed:
1) Future meeting location: Since we've been unable to meet the 15
people minimum at Dennys, we decided to look into meeting at a
Phoenix hospital again, unless someone opens their home for future
meetings. Stay tuned for further developments on this.
2) Chapter fund raiser: We will continue working on selling T shirts
to raise funds, with K.J. and Kay fleshing out the design, Juanita
investigating the silk screen printing costs and Nicki helping with
promotions thereafter.
3) Christmas social: We will be joining the Phoenix chapter Christmas
party on December 12th from 4:00 to 7:00 PM, held at the Arizona Mills, Claim
Jumpers, located at, 1530 West Baseline Road, Though it is located in Tempe,
Phoenix Dial a Ride does go there.

Other upcoming events include:
1. VRATE Expo on December 11th at Phoenix convention center (south
building), at which our very own John Bolton will conduct a workshop
on state web site accessability.
2. Washington seminar end of January. Those seeking financial
assistance will need to contact Bob Kresmer by December 15th. The
affiliate board decided to set aside $2500 this year for this
worthwhile legislative effort.

Flick, Swipe, and Tap, Dictation

By Ritas iDevice Advice

Dictation lets you talk where you would type. Tap the microphone button on the bottom row of the keyboard, say what you want to write, and your iPhone converts your words into text.

When you are running VoiceOver, there are two ways to get dictated text in to the Edit Field when the field is active.

When you get to any place where you want to enter text: perform a one finger double tap to make the Edit field active. The bottom half of the screen will show the QWERTY keyboard. Make sure the VoiceOver cursor has focus in the Edit field by touching or swiping with one finger until VoiceOver says, text field is editing.

Then you can perform a two finger double tap, and you will hear a single beep sound: Start talking immediately after hearing the beep. When you are finished dictating, perform a two finger double tap to stop it from listening to your dictation. The edit field should then auto fill with your dictated text. I estimate that you can say almost 50 words when you are dictating before the dictation is cut off.

Another way to dictate text into an active edit field is to find the Dictate button, which is located just to the left of the space bar on the keyboard. Perform a one finger double tap to start the dictation and you will hear a single beep. start dictating and when you are done talking, perform either a one finger double or a two finger double tap to stop it from listening for further dictation.

It is time to do less typing and more talking with the new real time voice to text feature in iOS 8.

Relatively little has been said about the new real time dictation function in iOS. But as of the iOS 8 update, Apple has restored bragging rights when it comes to voice dictation and mobile devices.

Past iOS dictation implementation would not show the text you dictated until you tapped the Done button, which meant activating the feature several times for long form dictation. You do not need to add a new keyboard, and it works in any iOS application. However, you can only activate voice dictation using the default Apple iOS keyboard. It does not show up in third party keyboards.

The feature also requires an Internet connection to work. What you dictate is recorded and sent to Apples server, and in turn it converts what you say into text on your device. The feature will also access the names and nicknames in your devices address book for more accurate spelling of names.

Here is the biggest challenge for writing dictation though: when you dictate your thoughts into a computer or mobile application, you have to think about what you are going to say before you say it. Dictating text does not necessarily improve your writing skills, it just alleviates the task of manual typing.

Using the dictation option also does better when you speak entire phrases and sentences at a time, instead of single words. To add punctuation, you can use commands like period, comma, new paragraph, and new line. Like any word processor, and it will start a new line for you as you dictate.

The Recipe Box, Velvet Mashed Potatoes

By Debi Chatfield

8 to 10 medium, peeled potatoes, cut into pieces
1/2 teaspoon, salt
Dash of pepper
3/4 cup, milk
1 package, 3 ounces, cream cheese, softened, cut into cubes
1/3 cup, butter or margarine, softened

Step 1. Place potatoes in large saucepan. Cover with water and bring to a boil.

Step 2. Cook over medium-high heat for 15 to 20 minutes or until the potatoes are tender, then drain.

Step 3. Mash the potatoes until they are smooth.

Step 4. Beat in the milk with an electric mixer, in small amounts. The amount of milk needed to make potatoes smooth and fluffy depends on the variety
of potatoes.

Step 5. Add cream cheese and butter.

Step 6. Beat until potatoes are light and fluffy.
Enjoy! Best Dishes!

Debbies List

No, this is not Craigs List, but it is the next best thing! If you have something to sell, or announce, send us your ad, and we will post it, as long as there is space available in the newsletter. Send your ads to:

** Are you blind and a lover of craft making? Would you like to share your love
of crafting with other like-minded people? Would you be interested in
learning a new craft taught by and geared specifically for blind folks? If
the answer to any of these questions is yes, then visit the NFB Crafters
Division website at
We offer a free email list for discussion of all crafts with friendly folks
ready to help in any way.
We also offer classes in both phone conference call as well as email
formats, which are only available to members of our division. The cost for
membership is $20 per year allowing a member to take as many classes as they
wish. Having offered 72 classes in 2014 in a wide variety of crafts, you are
certain to find classes to peak your interest.
Check out our membership page, join during our early bird special in March,
and get four months free.
For questions, please contact our president Joyce Kane at,
Cathy F.

** a Useful, Stylish New Idea!
When you go out for a walk, or running to class, are you looking for a way to easily carry your water bottle and cellphone, in a way that would be both stylish and practical? Are you looking for something that can hold many items, yet is not heavy on its own? Well look no further than the Invisibag! This is a stretchable belt like strap that clips easily around your waist. It contains two zipperred pockets, one for a conventional water bottle, and one that is the perfect size for your smartphone. With the water bottle pocket you will be able to carry around a water bottle, without the need to carry a purse or backpack, as it simply hangs from your belt. The cellphone pocket allows you to carry your cellphone in a safe, secure environment. You can feel your cellphone vibrating, yet it is difficult to steal as one must open the zipperred pocket to get the cellphone out. And when you're done using it for the day, just take all your items out and let it sit around your waist. it is so light you will not even notice.
As these are imported products, you will not find them anywhere on the U.S. market. I personally handle all the importing and costs myself. I'm asking only $20 per each one.
Please send me an email at, if anyone is interested.
Harrison Tu

** Join a Free Voice Chat Site Community on the Web!
Would you like to meet other blind or visually impaired individuals from across the country and around the world? Do you like challenging interactive games, old time radio, learning about adapted cooking techniques, a monthly book club, product presentations, chess instruction, computer tech help, Bible Study, a blindness support group, a weekly talent show, iPhone discussions, and much more? Join our free chat community at:

Stay Connected

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and we will send your info to the appropriate people and make the necessary corrections.

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Grins and Groans - The Usual Endings

Submitted by Bob Kresmer

What did the hotdog say when he crossed the finish line?
I am the weiner!

How do you keep a bagel from getting away?
You put lox on it.

Why do birds fly south for the winter?
Because it is too far to walk.

Debi Chatfield


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