Opportunity, Equality, Independence
PO Box 834
Twisp, WA 98856
WCB’s Newsline is a 2011 winner of the Hollis K. Liggett Braille Free Press Award presented by the Board of Publications of the American Council of the Blind promoting best journalistic practices and excellence in writing in publications of ACB’s state and special interest affiliates.
Steve Fiksdal, President
Federal Way, WA
Meka White, Editor
Federal Way, WA
Those much-needed contributions, which are TAX deductible, can be sent to the Washington Council of the Blind Treasurer, Deb Lewis, at or PO Box 834, Twisp, WA 98856.
To remember the Washington Council of the Blind in your Last Will and Testament, you may include a special paragraph for that purpose in your Will or Trust. If your wishes are complex, please contact the WCB at 800-255-1147.
The WCB is a 501(c)(3) organization. For other ways to support the Washington Council of the Blind, visit our fundraising page found at www.wcbinfo.org
Table of Contents
A Quarter for My Thoughts
My First Convention
Awards! Awards! Awards!
Take the Next Step in Leadership
2016 Scholarship Recap
Helping to Build Our Future
Popcorn in the Front Row
Around the State
WCB Committee Chairs, 2017
Bits and Pieces
From My Kitchen to Yours
Calendar of Deadlines and Events
2017 WCB Officers and Board of Directors
By Courtney Cole
For many people, college is a time of exploration. It’s a time of finding oneself, learning to understand yourself, and discovering the real world. Now having one quarter of college under my belt, I fully understand the world, how it works, my place within it, and what I need to do with my life.
In truth, I learned a lot from my first quarter of college, and not just about Marx, Nietzsche, and Freud. (If you’re reading this Ben, shout out to you for helping me survive that class) Here’s a little list of a few things I found especially enlightening.
*Photo – Courtney Cole
1. Your past does not define your present.
This was a big relief for me. In the past, I was never the student I wanted to be. I did alright, but I never reached my potential because I was stuck in a rut of self-doubt and apathy. This quarter, I worked harder in my academic and professional life than I ever have before. It was completely exhausting, and also completely worth it. It turns out that with determination and confidence, you can develop your work ethic and accomplish things you never thought you could.
2. Let little things go.
Ever since I started using my cane, I’ve dealt with things from people approaching me asking what happened to me to people asking if I’m actually blind. I’ve learned that most of the time, people are just curious or uninformed and the most productive thing you can do is either try to educate or simply let it go.
3. You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.
In this case, I felt like our lovable silly old bear friend got it right. Life will throw things at you that you never expected, things that you may not think you can survive. The truth is, we can handle a lot. Often, you’ll surprise yourself by not only surviving, but thriving, in dark or challenging circumstances. When going through the most difficult times, you’ll also discover who will be there for you when it matters.
4. Pay attention to those with more experience, because you don’t know everything.
This one seems a little ironic given this list, but it’s perhaps the most important item. There will always be someone more experienced, especially when you’re in college and you most likely lived in a much smaller environment 1-4 years ago. There’s a lot to learn about the world, and although you shouldn’t take everyone’s opinion for gospel, it’s important to recognize those who are worth listening to.
5. You can always be working on yourself, so you don’t have time to work on others.
This one is pretty simple. Everyone has things they can work on within themselves, so we really don’t have time to be “fixing” other people.
6. I don’t have time to blog.
I apologize to those of you who read my writing for my long, long hiatus, but alas, due dates wait for no one. I’m working on time-management and making blink updates part of my schedule.
Going into college, I was a mixture of excitement and terror. I was worried about how I would perform having a challenge that most other students didn’t, and how well I would deal with being so far away from everything familiar to me. The darkness I experienced in the past made me anxious for the future. When it came down to it, I found that my biggest obstacle was my own doubt. Perhaps the most important thing I have come to learn is that I am more capable than the world or I myself ever expected me to be.
Courtney Cole is one of the scholarship winners that you will learn more about in a later article. You can find her blog, The Blink butterfly, at http://blinkbutterfly.wordpress.com where you can find this, and many other posts. Thank you, Courtney, for giving us permission to publish this piece.
By Steve Fiksdal, President
2016 has been a banner year for WCB. While some state affiliates across the nation struggle, WCB is growing. This year alone we have added three new affiliates, two local affiliates and one special interest affiliate. In May we welcomed the Wenatchee Valley Council of the Blind (WVCB) and then in August the Skagit and Island Counties Council of the Blind (SICCB) joined our family. Then at this past convention we accepted the Beep Ball Clubs of Washington State (BBCWS) as our newest special interest affiliate.
Over the past 12 months the committees of WCB have been hard at work; there accomplishments far too many to mention them all, here are a few.
• Advocacy Committee assisted 23 individuals this year.
• Families with Blind Children hosted another successful Braille Challenge and, in conjunction with our state convention, sponsored a Student Forum for youth 14 -21.
• Aging and Blindness has compiled a list of public transportation training services across the state.
• The Scholarship Committee awarded nine scholarships this year.
• The Leadership Committee launched the WCB Leadership Institute, an extension of the Leadership Seminar.
• Constitution & Bylaws proposed a major restructuring of our committees.
• WCB Cares reached out to over 30 individuals.
• And we concluded the year with our best attended convention…ever!
I wish I had space to list all of the accomplishments this year, but do not. I would like to thank all for their hard work and commitment to improving the lives of our blind and visually impaired members across the state.
Looking ahead to the coming year we have great momentum. We, in cooperation with other service providers have come together to form the Coalition on Aging and Blindness. The Coalition, started by WCB, will focus on state and federal support for our growing older blind residents. While this segment of our population is increasing in numbers, financial support is not. The next 12 months will be a year of building our platform and authoring our “ask”.
We will also be focusing a good deal of effort on fundraising. In order to continue to deliver the benefits we are accustomed to, WCB has had to draw from our reserves. We do not want to continue down this road. My conversations with members across the state tell me that we need to continue to grow in services and benefits. In order for this to occur, we need to look to new revenue sources. Fundraising, grant writing, corporate and employee giving, and national campaigns are all in WCB’s future. The Finance Committee is in need of members willing to help undertake this effort.
As I noted at the convention, I am in the process of forming a special task force that will look to pulling policy and procedure language from the bylaws and in turn creating a Policy and Procedures Manual. As an organization our hands are tied to making decisions only once a year; that being at convention. We elect a Board of Directors to direct the affairs of the organization; we need to afford them the ability to fulfill their role.
As the Department of Services for the Blind (DSB) works to fulfill the expectations set forth in the new Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), the reauthorization of the Rehab Act, new opportunities for WCB to serve youth will emerge. The Student Summit was just our first step forward. Much more is yet to come.
Accessible prescription labeling is still a concern of mine. While progress is being made among national chains, thanks to the efforts of the American Council of the Blind (ACB), locally we are meeting resistance. Bartells just in the past month announced that they would offer an audible label option. What they didn’t announce was that such labels would be produced in a central location and there would be up to a 48-hour (business hour) delay in delivery. If you’re in pain and need relief, are you willing to wait up to four days to get your prescription? Or make a second trip to the pharmacy? The Advocacy Committee will continue to work towards the availability of audio described labels in all pharmacies in the coming year.
Until next year…Happy 2017!!!
By Pima as told to Holly Turri
My mom was asked to write an article describing her experiences at the Washington Council of the Blind convention. After much thought and prayer, she said that everything has already been said by other humans about these kinds of events. So, she asked me if I would share my impressions as a first timer guide dog. Since my paws can’t type, and Siri does not understand my language, I am dictating my impressions.
Before proceeding further, please understand that on the 29th of October, we graduated from the San Rafael campus of Guide Dogs for the Blind. So all things about Washington State, my home, my family, and the convention were new and exciting.
Eight members of the United Blind of Whatcom County attended. Most of us rode down on the Airporter shuttle bus, which was loud and funny. The people brought great lunches. Unfortunately, no one offered this tiny lab two year old a bite. Oh well…..
At SeaTac airport, which is very crowded and confusing, we transferred to the shuttle for the hotel. I was so happy to follow my group, and thanks to Bruce we didn’t get lost.
Before I forget, many thanks should be given to the volunteers who on Sunday rode back and forth on the hotel shuttles. Their assistance made our trip home relaxing.
The Marriott was lovely. Our room was spacious and comfortable. When I was put on my tie-down I didn’t have to worry about being stepped on.
The relieving areas were not what I am used to. Mom said these were much better than the ones at the national convention she and dad attended in Dallas.
At first seeing so many guide dogs was kind of overwhelming. Most were well behaved and treated me kindly.
We attended a guide dog lunch where they had a search and rescue dog. His demonstration was fascinating. I wanted to go assist, but mom made me stay, which I did.
The morning meetings which we attended on Friday were very crowded. It was hard to keep out of people’s way. Some lady kept stepping on me. So, mom and I left and went on to do other stuff.
Working at the information desk was especially enjoyable. Being near to people and their dogs, and watching them from behind a table was much more restful.
On that afternoon, mom and Mr. Fiksdal talked to blind parents whose children attended the youth summit. Even though I took a nap, I could tell that they were really helping and listening to these ladies.
The talent show was a highlight for me. Listening to Boze sing was so funny. He did a great job too. Those German Shepherd dogs have so much personality.
The board and business meetings were confusing to me. Although I could tell that these were serious and exciting times, where many human ideas were exchanged and things were accomplished, it all started to sound the same.
The Saturday night banquet had a big surprise. The two Seahawk announcers mom listens too every week got the One World Award. What nice and sincere men they were. Mom was so excited and kept jumping up and down in her seat.
Well this is all I have to say. My first convention was so much fun that I hope mom and dad take me back to a second one next year.
By Julie Brannon, Awards Committee Chair
2016 proved to be another year full of excellent nominations and subsequent awards given to many persons and organizations at the 2016 WCB Convention.
First, let’s look at the awards given to persons not requiring nominations:
Awards given to outgoing officers and directors were given to:
Sue Ammeter, Carol Brame, Denise Colley, Frank Cuta, and Gaylen Floy.
Thank you all for your dedicated service in your various positions.
Awards given to chapters for recognition for 10 percent or more in membership growth were given to:
The Pierce County Association of the Blind, President John McConnell, (President at the time of the award)
South Kitsap Council of the Blind, Kevin Jones, President
United Blind of Spokane, Danielle Maher, President
United Blind of Walla Walla, President, Alco Canfield (President at the time of the award)
*Photo – David Edick
Employer of the Year Award was presented to:
Stemilt Growers LLC
(A large fruit grower, processor and shipper in the Wenatchee area)
The Business of the Year Award was presented to:
For its commitment to accessibility.
The outstanding service award was presented to:
For his selfless service, particularly in the area of sound maintenance.
*photo – Steve Raible and Warren Moon
For her article on her daughter’s revelation of her mother’s blindness
For her original poem about being blind.
The One-World Award was presented to:
Steve Raible and Warren Moon
Seahawks football team radio announcers, who honored us by coming in person to receive their awards.
So, as you can see, 2016 didn’t lack in providing a number of deserving persons and organizations to receive awards. Thank you WCB members for all your work, and your willingness to bring forth your nominations.
By Meka White
“I’m new to the Washington Council of the Blind and would love to learn how I can be an active participant as well as learn more about the organization.”
“I’ve been a long-time member and I think it’s time that I stepped into a leadership role, but I’m not sure how.”
“I’m ready to take my involvement in my local chapter and WCB to the next level.”
If you have had these thoughts, or some variation of them, then allow me to present you with a fantastic opportunity.
The Washington Council of the Blind’s Annual Leadership Seminar will be held on May 5-6. This is an informative, highly interactive weekend of learning about the organization, how to become an active participant in your local chapter, and getting to both know and share ideas with others. This event culminates with the WCB Board Meeting on May 7.
In order to apply, you need to have been a member of WCB on or before February 5, 2017. Past participants cannot apply. Send an emailed letter to with your contact information, an introduction of who you are, your involvement in your local chapter and/or community, and why you would like to be a part of this opportunity. Remember, toot your horn. Space is limited, and we want to have the opportunity to get to know the person behind the application. Applications are due by March 31.
If you are selected to attend, WCB will take care of traveling expenses, lodging, and most of your meals. Come and take that next step on the path to leadership with us!
By Tim McCorcle
*Photo – Scholarship Winners
Eric Werbel lives in Sammamish and is a 2016 graduate of Skyline High School where he completed his studies with a 3.98 GPA. Eric is a freshman at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina and is pursuing a B.S. in Engineering. The WCB awarded Eric a $4,000 scholarship.
Tracy Fejeran hails from Spokane and is a sophomore at Spokane Falls Community College. She plans to complete her AA degree during the spring of 2017 and transfer to Eastern Washington University to pursue undergraduate and graduate degrees in social work. She is active in United Blind of Spokane, Sports for the Blind, & Shadle North Lions Club. Tracy received a $2,000 scholarship.
Jeff Bowler, who lives in Olympia, is a graduate student at the University of Northern Colorado. Jeff is carrying a 4.0 GPA in his Teacher of the Visually Impaired – Orientation and Mobility Specialist Master Degree program. Jeff, a 4-time WCB scholarship honoree, received $2,000.
Cindy Van Winkle, from Bremerton, is a senior at Southern New Hampshire University where she is taking the final few courses online needed to earn her BS in Organizational Leadership. Cindy is a 4-time WCB scholarship recipient and the immediate past President of the WCB. She is active at the national level with the American Council of the Blind and works in development for the Seattle Lighthouse. The WCB awarded Cindy a $2,000 scholarship.
Shelby Kappler lives in Vancouver and is a senior at the University of Wyoming in Laramie. Shelby has a 3.46 GPA in her dual majors of International Studies and Spanish and is minoring in anthropology and disability studies. She is studying in the Netherlands this year as an exchange student at University College Utrecht. Shelby received a $2,000 scholarship from the WCB, her fourth such award.
Amanda Sutherland resides in Marysville and is a graduate student at the Fuller Theological Seminary. She is seeking a Master of Divinity degree. Amanda is a 2005 graduate of Western Washington University, has her teaching certificate, and was a long-time staff member of the DSB’s YES program. Amanda received a $1,500 scholarship.
Erick Vasquez, a Pasco resident, is a sophomore at Columbia Basin College where he is working towards a BA in early childhood education. He is a member of the United Blind of Tri Cities, participates on the Columbia Basin College Accessibility Committee, and volunteers as a translator and assistive technology resource at the volunteers at Edith Bishel Center in Kennewick. Erick’s $1,500 scholarship is his second award from the WCB.
Courtney Cole graduated from North Kitsap High in 2015 and attended the DSB’s Orientation and Training Center in 2016. She is currently a freshman at Seattle University where she is studying psychology with a career goal of becoming a mental health counselor. The WCB awarded Courtney a $1,500 scholarship.
Abby Griffith of Vancouver moved to the United States from Ethiopia in 2008 and graduated from the Washington State School for the Blind in 2014. She attends Clark College working towards an education degree with plans to transfer to the University of Washington and a career goal of being a teacher of the visually impaired. Abby received a $1,000 scholarship.
By Debby Clark
Everyone has a story to tell. From United Blind of Spokane here is Loren Miller’s story.
In 2005 Loren had a work-related accident and suffered massive facial and head injuries and was in a coma for weeks in a Seattle Hospital. He retained his sense of touch, and is completely blind, can hear minimally in one ear with aid, and no sense of smell or taste.
He remembers nothing of the first few weeks of rehabilitation therapy and overcame many difficult obstacles to go on and live a very full life including church at Living Hope in Spokane, Beep Baseball, bowling, working out, karaoke, Blind Man Bingo, darts, fishing with his good friend and dancing four times a week. “I’m a bona fide dancing fool!” With a mischievous smile, he says others, “Get out of my way when they see me coming.” He says they welcome him though, and are happy for him that he can get out and cut a rug with them. His week is very structured with his activities, meetings, doctor appointments, and errands with people from Comfort Keepers.
One of the great loves of Loren’s life is woodworking. It is something he has done his whole life and has begun to pick it up again. He has an entire shop dedicated to this purpose and seems very busy with many projects, wood and tools, etc. But a closer look shows meticulous organization. Using the saws and tools is no problem for Loren because he still has his sense of touch. He makes birdhouses and birdfeeders, beautiful planters, trellises, bee traps, solar lights and much more.
“If I didn’t do anything, I’d go nuts from inactivity. It’s the way I was brought up, to work, work, work.” His favorite phrase is, “Visually impaired, mentally unstoppable.” He sells his handmade wood crafts and if you would be interested in seeing what he has, you can give him a call at 509-953-0847, for an appointment. With the aid of special equipment, he is able to carry on a conversation on the phone. He also has a Facebook page where you can see his work displayed with pricing. It is called Loren’s Wood Crafts at https://www.facebook.com/lorenswoodcrafts.
Loren would like you to know how he builds a birdhouse. Here it is in his own words.
A four-hole birdhouse. I have a pattern for all the pieces and make the very bottom first. The floor is a certain size. I make four pieces so I have enough to do four birdhouses. Then do the big tall walls that have a little bit of an angle on the roof to make the pitch of the roof on top. Then the next bigger size which is the front and back walls and have another pitched roof that are shorter but the same width as the big walls. Then I make the walls. The first side is a wall. The second wall is a door that can open up that will clear the roof when opened. It will be hinged to open so it can be cleaned out. Then I do the bottom walls on the shorter houses and then cut the roof lines to where they are a little bit wider than the wide boards, but cut to the roof pitch like 3/12 or 4/12 angles so that it looks like a regular house. I do the side walls of the birdhouse that are shorter and wider. The windows are cut out of molding that is 3 or 4 inches tall. I have a talking pen that will gauge the floor height from a dot on the wood so that all the windows are the same height on the bottom of the birdhouse and I have another dot that goes up to the second floor to do that window height and the side windows where it follows the roof line up over the top of the house and I put that window underneath and it makes a cool looking birdhouse. I do the four holes on bigger pieces of molding that is about 4×5 inches wide by drilling a hole for the peg for the birds. I center that in front of the hole. Drilling the rest of the way through the 4×5 to match that hole and build the post holder at the bottom of the birdhouse so it can hold a post solidly.
By Lori Allison
Wow, what a terrific year it has been for the Washington Council of the Blind’s Family’s with Blind Children committee. This year the FBC committee worked with the Department of Services for the Blind (DSB) to host the 2016 Student Summit at the Seattle Airport Marriott on November 4th. Parents and students had the opportunity to meet other blind students and their parents, as well as learn of some great resources to help them to succeed with their life goals. The feedback received from the participants and their family’s was great. The FBC committee will soon start planning for next year’s Student Summit to be held in Pasco, WA.
On February 18, 2017 the Washington Council of the Blind’s FBC Committee and the Washington Talking Book & Braille Library will be hosting the 2017 Regional Braille Challenge. This event will take place at the library located at 2021 9th Avenue, Seattle. This academic competition is for students enrolled in grades 1-12 and encourages braille literacy in a fun and competitive atmosphere.
The Braille Challenge was created by the Braille Institute of America (BIA) in 2000 and has become a national program. Any visually impaired student who reads braille is eligible to participate in the preliminary challenge contest events.
If you would like to be a part of this exciting and very busy committee, contact Steve Fiksdal, President, Washington Council of the Blind (206)669-8001 or
Movie Review Column
By Kevin Daniel
Movies Featured: “Loving” “Collateral Beauty” “Joe Somebody”
As a lifelong movie enthusiast, I’m hoping to bring my perspective, insight, opinion, and recommendations on what to see and what to definitely miss to the WCB community. My hope would be to inspire and ignite interest in theatrical offerings in the hope that readers might be compelled to go see a movie that could offer an escape, educate, inform, inspire, or simply present a wonderful opportunity to get lost in a cinematic vortex of entertainment. My reviews will span through all genres, ratings, and categories. I will rate each movie I review on a six point “Braille Cell” style system, where “6” dots is the very best rating a reviewed movie may receive; meaning it is extremely good and recommended, and “1” dot will be the worst rating. A “1” dot rating will indicate that the movie reviewed isn’t at all recommended and should be avoided. Each article will feature recently released movies that I’ve screened. In addition, I’ll add fun facts, insightful tidbits, and general information about the featured films. I hope you’ll enjoy the columns, and GET OUT TO THE MOVIES!
Movie #1 “Loving” Released on November 4, 2016 and is rated PG-13.
This true story accounts the trials and tribulations of the Lovings – Richard and Mildred, an interracial coupled who fell in love and got married, not realizing the ramifications of blacks and whites doing such a thing in southern Virginia in the late 1950’s. I really like this film, and found the performances by Ruth Negga and Joel Edgerton solidly done. They both were just nominated for Golden Globe awards for best performance by an Actress and Actor in this film. The movie doesn’t try to over dramatize the whole interracial issue nor the sociological impact of the law that decriminalized marriage between blacks and whites being struck down by the Supreme Court. I think this would have been easy to do given the major societal ramifications. The only issue I had with the film overall, is the lack of romance and passion between the main characters. Yes, it was evident that they love each other but I never felt a strong sense of passion that would have connected me deeper with the characters and their plight. I rooted for them, but at the same time I wanted to empathize and ache with them for all they had to go through just to be husband and wife. But I needed more defined love story than the film provided. However, I do recommend this film and give it 4 out of 5 braille cell dots.
Movie #2 “Collateral Beauty” Released December 16, 2016 and rated PG-13.
Collateral Beauty stars two of my favorite actors, Will Smith and Edward Norton, in a highly anticipated movie. So imagine my disappointment in discovering after two hours that this movie wasn’t going to meet my excitement. I loved the preview! When I’d watch the trailers it felt like it was going to be a life altering experience of understanding loss, dealing with pain, and something deeper that might help make sense of life. I was hoping for a movie like, “Grand Canyon” or “Contact”, which are movies that really made you think about life and what it all means. These movies came out over a decade ago so I was ready for another. It wasn’t “Collateral Beauty”. The movie just didn’t deliver. The screenplay, the direction, and the pacing just didn’t work. The premise was that a man who lost his daughter unexpectedly because of a terminal illness will struggle to cope and need intervention to become a functional part of life again. I think this is an interesting topic worthy of dedicating a Hollywood film with a topnotch cast. So I’m going to guess that the makers put all the resources in casting and preview. They needed to do the same with the story, screenplay, and maybe a better director. I guess I can recommend the movie for Will Smith or Edward Norton fans, but not anyone else. I give this movie 2 out of 6 braille cell dots; 1 for the great title and 1 for casting Will Smith and Ed Norton together.
Blast from the Past
Movie #3 “Joe Somebody” Released in 2001 and rated PG-13.
This fun little gem may be the movie you’ve never heard of. It stars Tim Allen in a role where he is the romantic lead. It’s light-hearted, funny, and has a message that you can leave with that resonates in life. I just happened to catch this movie while channel surfing on cable, and loved it – wondering why I hadn’t caught it or known about in the theatre. If you are looking for a family friendly romantic comedy and you like Tim Allen, I highly recommend, “Joe Somebody”! I give this one 4 out of 5 braille cell dots.
Greater Everett Area Council of the Blind
By Chris Coulter
This fall Greater Everett Area Council of the Blind has been extremely busy and we’ve learned a lot.
At our September meeting we welcomed Ryan Peterson and George Basioli. Mr. Peterson was the featured speaker, talking to us about the job of keeping pedestrian walkways barrier-free and making sure that audible pedestrian signals in Snohomish County are in compliance with the ADA. We were encouraged to attend upcoming hearings about pedestrian safety and accessibility in the county.
The October meeting was strictly a business meeting. The real highlight of the meeting was the planning for our December 10th Christmas party. There were also reminders of final deadlines for convention preparations.
In November we welcomed a new member to our chapter. Her name is Leslie Irwin. She has been blind for a couple of years and is very committed to learning the skills that will help her live independently and happily. Leslie was accompanied by her sister Christie, who was visiting from Los Angeles. Final preparations were made for the Christmas party and members who attended convention talked about things that stood out for each of them.
Each of our fall meetings were enlivened by a new feature that is part of many of WCB’s local chapter meetings. Thanks to Carl Jarvis, we have monthly quizzes about the history of the blind community. President, Steve Fiksdal sends the questions out to the chapter presidents’ list and from there they are sent to someone who will facilitate reading and discussion of the questions. I led the quiz this fall for Everett and we had a great time talking about the different questions and learning about the blindness movement.
Finally, I’d like to close with a personal note. Jon and I will be stepping away from chapter activity for at least the next year. We are making plans for the next season of our life as Jon approaches retirement and we think about whether we will be staying in Washington. We will both be members at large in WCB and I am looking forward to doing some committee work next year. We are leaving open the option of staying here and returning to one of the WCB chapters but we may end up moving out of state and being part of another affiliate. Either way, we’ll keep in touch and we truly appreciate everyone we’ve come to know in this wonderful organization.
Guide Dog Users of Washington State
By Sheri Richardson
Guide Dog Users of Washington State (GDUWS) held our annual business meeting and convention in conjunction with the WCB annual convention in November.
I am pleased to announce the following results of our board elections:
Marlaina Lieberg was elected to a second term as Vice-President. Danette Dixon was elected as Secretary. Andy Arvidson was elected as a Director.
These three leaders bring many talents and abilities to GDUWS, as well as passion and enthusiasm for our work and membership. Congratulations to Marlaina, Danette and Andy!
I also want to thank Vivian Conger who will be completing her second term as secretary. We will miss Vivian’s great attention to detail and ability to remain calm in the midst of any storm, but I am very happy to report that she has agreed to be our membership committee chair in 2017.
At our Saturday luncheon, we were very fortunate to meet and hear from Robert Calkins and his search and rescue dog, Ruger. Bob talked about his work, and the qualities that a search and rescue canine needs to possess, many of which are similar to those needed by guide dogs. He also gave us a brief demonstration of his dog’s ability to find a hidden object in the room. You can learn more about this fascinating team at www.robertdcalkins.com.
GDUWS looks forward to 2017. Please check out our newly designed website at www.gduws.net. We would love to hear from you, so please feel free to contact us through our website or the WCB Buzz line at (800) 255-1147. As our four-legged friends like to say, “Happy tails to you” in the new year!
King County Chapter Update
By Linda Wickersham
Hello from the King County Chapter. Happy Holidays everyone!!
In October we held our annual elections and the Officers are:
Linda Wickersham, President
Tim Schneebeck, Vice President
Heidi Campbell, Secretary
Lynn Hunter, Treasurer
Darlene Hilling, Asst. Treasurer
The two year terms started in November.
Marilyn Donnelly decided not to run for Treasurer this time. She will truly be missed.
Fred Chapman took a fall after our September meeting at his residence and has chosen to live in assistive living. We all wish him the best.
The September meeting included the League of Women Voters, one of our traditions, so that members are aware of issues. They do an absolutely wonderful service that is very informative.
The December meet up was our Christmas Party. A good time had by all!!
Several of our members attended the State WCB Convention. All attendees said they had a good time.
In January our speaker will be Mike Shaw, ADA Coordinator at Seattle Department of Transportation. It will be a productive meeting.
The King County Chapter wishes everyone a very Merry Christmas, hopefully without snow, and a safe and good New Year in 2017.
Peninsula Council of the Blind
By Cindy Van Winkle, Secretary
The last quarter of 2016 had us electing a new chapter President for the coming two years, take our change jar which had been passed around at meetings since April and donate to a local food bank, had 10 members attend the WCB State Convention, and that’s not even mentioning book club, dinner socials and our Christmas party. What a fun few months and a great way to end President Stuart Russell’s term.
We welcomed a new guide dog to our meetings, Cindy’s very expressive Shepherd, Boze, and hope to see Sarah with her new partner, Grace, a female German Shepherd, at a meeting very soon.
As mentioned, elections were held in October, and the following officers and directors will lead us in 2017:
President: J.R. Kinnison,
Vice President: Eric Hunter,
Secretary: Cindy Van Winkle,
Treasurer: Joanne Hunter,
Director: Gary Beck,
Director: Carrol Gray,
Director: Kat Woofter, and
Immediate Past President: Stuart Russell.
We meet on the second Saturday of each month at Allstar Lanes in Silverdale, from noon to 2pm. We’d love to have you join us sometime!
Pierce County Association of the Blind
By Lori Allison
This year the PCAB members have been talking about the future and what we can do to benefit the visually impaired in our community. This planning has PCAB and Tacoma Tide Beep Ball Club doing a “Spaghetti in the Dark” event, which involves the visually impaired hosting cooking and serving dinner. The hope is to show our sighted community what we, the visually impaired, are capable of doing; while raising funds. The “Spaghetti in the Dark” will be taking place on March 4th; for more information contact Lori Allison (253) 537-4428 or .
In November President John McConnell and Carol McConnell resigned from PCAB as President and Secretary. John and Carol will be moving to Spokane to be closer to family; we wish them well. In January PCAB will be holding a special election for a new president and secretary.
On December 4th PCAB held our Christmas Party at the Homestead Restaurant with nearly 40 people in attendance. During the party everyone had the opportunity to become better acquainted while having a fantastic time.
We hope that if you ever get the opportunity to be in Tacoma on the third Saturday of the month that you stop by and visit Pierce County Association of the Blind (PCAB). For more information about PCAB visit pcabinfo.org
South Kitsap Council of the Blind
By Kim L. Moberg
Merry Christmas one and all! Winter is here and soon the cold chill of it will be sure to bite. In fact as I write this article it is getting really cold out and they are calling for snow. Maybe here in Kitsap County we will have a white Christmas.
The big thing that has happened in our chapter which was sad and a big shock to all of us was that a very dear member, Bob Herman passed away at the end of October. He was a long time member of the chapter and is very much going to be missed.
We had elections at our November meeting. Congratulations to the following who are now our new officers. We have President Kevin Jones, Vice President Pat Whitlow, Secretary Chris Brame, Treasurer Carol Brame and Kim Moberg as Chaplin.
*Photo – Dorothy Bryant
Several members attended the WCB Convention this year. We had a table in the exhibit hall. One of our members even participated in the talent show. Dorothy Bryant, 91 years young, did a wonderful heartwarming, dramatic skit. It was really a treat to see her perform. If you missed this part of the talent show you missed quite the actress at work. The rest of the talent show was as outstanding as always.
United Blind of Spokane
Walking in a Winter Wonderland
By Debby Clark
One of the biggest challenges for our Spokane chapter is mobility in the snow. Finding our way in an ever changing snowscape can put us at the limit of ingenuity. So on to brighter things like sunny 15 degree days.
We had an all-time record of nine members and two dogs travel to the convention.
“Even if you fall on your face, you are still moving forward! Those words resonated in my mind as I left the convention, remembering Vivian Huschke. I never have seen so many blind people and dogs at once. Okay, so maybe I still haven’t seen them physically. I had the wonderful experience of meeting and exchanging stories with so many interesting individuals. The speakers touched my heart and ignited my own sense of challenge and purpose. It was fascinating to hear the medical advancements towards sight restoration giving people hope. The most meaningful event for me was with a former client of mine, newly dealing with vision loss. It was really exciting to see the light come on for her that so many opportunities are available as she makes this transition in her own life. I am already making plans to attend next year’s convention.
Debra Jantzen said, “It was my first WCB Convention and it exceeded all of my expectations. I had so much fun getting to know other members, and I enjoyed the exhibits, women’s expo, the food, and speakers. I especially enjoyed presentations by Tim McCorcle (Ski for Light) and by Dr. Lisa Olmos de Koo (Advances in Ophthalmology). I tried the Orcam, a device you wear on your glasses that can read signs and other text back to you. I learned that having a vision impairment doesn’t need to limit you.”
Our meetings in September, October, and November were full of guests, food and fun. Cindy Glidden was elected Vice President, Frank for Treasurer and Debra Janzen is now our corresponding Secretary. We are looking forward to a great new year.
Hope to see you on the third Monday of the month at Lilac Blind in Spokane
Our annual Chapter Picnic in the backyard of Dixie McDaniel and all had a great time.
Our annual Christmas Party and gift exchange this year was at The Country Gentleman. We had a food drive with many pounds of canned food donated to the local food bank.
We have had several special speakers since the last chapter update. One speaker was Spencer Peterson, board member of the Edith Bishel Center. He talked about the future of self-driving cars which was interesting but also sort of scary. Our recent speaker was Holly Cox who is the Director of Project Warm Up in the Tri-Cities. She discussed what her agency does to help those less fortunate.
Stay tuned for future news.
United Blind of Walla Walla
By Annee Hartzell
The holiday season has arrived in Walla Walla again bringing with it both the anticipation of spending time with family and friends and the joy of remembering time gone by. It is a time to celebrate and a time to reflect and plan. These are the current pursuits of the United Blind of Walla Walla.
In October, the organization gathered to begin planning for 2017, considering its priorities, its goals, needs, and direction. We discussed community outreach and programming, the need to discuss our achievements, frustrations, and day-to-day blindness-related workarounds–being an active forum for our membership and community.
In November, the UBWW gained two members: Andrew Nantz and Vivian Conger. The organization also held annual elections.
In December, the UBWW will celebrate the holiday season with an annual Christmas party and Secret Santa gift exchange. Hosted by Andrew Nantz, the party will be filled with plenty of delicious food and beverages, laughter, and fun.
United Blind of Whatcom County
By Holly Turri
Adventures, change, and growth would be the three adjectives most of our members would use to describe our fall.
In September, we took our annual field trip. This year we visited the Outback Kangaroo Farm which is located near Arlington. Interacting with the animals is encouraged at this wonderful facility. We got to touch kangaroos, wallabies, and some of us let alpaca’s eat out of our mouths.
For the first time ever, during October Betty Sikkema hosted a pie social. Members enjoyed homemade apple pies and picking up those they had purchased to support a local Christian school.
We continue to enjoy our book club which meets every six weeks.
After many years of meeting at the health support center in Bellingham, this facility has closed. During the autumn we gathered at the Bellingham Senior Activity Center which graciously offered to let us use their facilities during 2017.
This quarter we have grown by two members. There are others who will be signing up very soon.
Wenatchee Valley Council of the Blind
By Mike Symonds
Christmas greetings from cold and snowy Wenatchee Valley.
Since organizing our chapter last April, we have been busy learning the ins and outs of being a part of WCB. Interestingly, our biggest challenge seems to have been securing our 501(c)3 status so that we can be financially operative.
One of our members, Rick Barnard, introduced us to Beep Ball and we organized and fielded a team for an exhibition game with Spokane. They won, but we caught the fever and will be a contender next season.
Our chapter partners with Lilac Services for the Blind here in Wenatchee. We meet in their office on the second Wednesday of every month and Lilac Volunteers and Support Group folks are invited to our meetings. Several of them are WVCB members and hopefully more will come aboard in 2017.
Hosting a visitor who has good information for our group is a goal to enhance our meetings. Sue Ammeter informed us about advocacy at our October meeting and the meeting ran long because of the interest in her subject. In November we hosted a representative of the Yakima office of DSB and was joined by two representatives of our local transportation provider, Link Transit, to tell us all about transportation, both local and worldwide. We had twenty or so gather for that session which also ran overtime with lots of questions and personal experiences. Since our meetings are at Noon, we encourage folks to bring something to eat and possibly to share.
Our December meeting is a Christmas Party with pot luck food. We hope to have a good turnout and welcome a number of guests and potential new members.
There is some interest in some of the issues that are aired on the Council’s listserv and we will further discuss them. For instance, we will share our experiences with pets passing for service animals on airplanes and other modes of transportation as well as in other public places. Also the issue of dealing with the public about being blind or impaired. The comment we seem to most often hear is “You don’t look blind”. We have fun.
Our chapter was especially pleased that our nominee for Employer of the Year was selected as the winning candidate. The employee for whom Stemilt Growers modified his workplace is one of our WVCB members and the Beep Ball coach. Unfortunately, we don’t see him often as he is at work at meeting times. But we know he’s there and is thinking of us.
Two of our members attended the Convention at SeaTac and returned with glowing reports.
We look forward to growing in 2017 and to welcoming visitors to our Valley.
Yakima Valley Council of the blind
By Lisa George, Secretary
Hello from snowy, sunny Yakima! We just had our annual Christmas party and were happy to be together, eating great barbecue and enjoying the musical stylings of Frank Cuta and our own Reg George.
All the big elections were in November, of course, and we’re glad that ours turned out unanimous. Darla Hatfield will be President, Gina Ontiveros will be Vice President, Howard Underwood remains Treasurer, and Lisa George continues as Secretary.
We’re excited that next fall’s convention will be in Pasco and will be offering assistance to the host chapter as needed. We’ll be busy throughout 2017 with our usual bowling outreach and other ideas to be determined in the new year.
Advocacy: Sue Ammeter
Aging and Blindness: Deb Lewis
Awards: Julie Brannon
Communications: Steve Fiksdal
List Serve (subcommittee): Glenn McCully
Constitution and Bylaws: Frank Cuta
Convention: Cindy Van Winkle
Crisis: Jim Turri
Families with Blind Children: Lori Allison
Finance and Investment: Tim McCorcle
Government Affairs: Sue Ammeter
History: Chris Coulter
Leadership: Meka White
Membership: Carol Brame
Newsline: Meka White
: Tim McCorcle
WCB Cares: Hayley Agers
Compiled by Cindy Van Winkle
This column is presented for your information and enjoyment. Inclusion of information, products, and/or services does not constitute endorsement by the Washington Council of the Blind. If you have items for inclusion, email: Newsline and put “Bits and Pieces” in the subject line.
Users of the NLS BARD service will thoroughly enjoy BARD Express. This is a new PC program that makes downloading BARD books easier and at the same time adds multiple actions for the experienced user. No more needing to use the web to get books!
What is BARD Express
BARD Express provides NLS patrons with an easy way to access BARD. Use BARD Express to browse thousands of audio books and magazines, download them to your Windows-based computer, and transfer them to an NLS cartridge. BARD Express simplifies the process by providing a menu-driven interface, reducing the need to memorize a complex set of keyboard commands. What does this mean? BARD Express can be used with as few as four keys, while providing advanced functionality for the more adventurous user.
Learn more about BARD Express by checking out the Frequently Asked Questions https://nlsbard.loc.gov/nlsbardprod/NLS/FAQ.html#BARDExpress or by browsing the BARD Express Continuous User Guide. https://nlsbardpractice.loc.gov/LOC_02/LOC_02_BARDExpressUserGuide.html
If you’re already running BARD Express, access the help topics by pressing F1.
How to get BARD Express
You can visit the link below and directly under the heading entitled:
How to get BARD Express
There is a download link to the BARD Express Program.
To download BARD Express, do the following:
1. Locate the link for downloading mentioned above.
2. Click the right mouse button and select “save target as”
or from the key board, press the application key. Then arrow down to “save target as” and hit enter.
3. Press shift plus tab twice and navigate to the location where you wish the file to go. Usually IE will download a file into downloads. However, if you have downloaded something and put it in a different directory, IE will choose that location again. So I always make sure my downloads are in a folder I have chosen.
4. Once selecting a location for the download to be placed, press alt plus the letter s. Your anti-virus software may say, “running security scan.” This is just fine.
After saving it to your computer, locate the file and open it. Follow the on-screen instructions to complete the installation process. If you have questions contact your regional library. Visit the link below for screen shots of menus. https://nlsbardpractice.loc.gov/LOC_02/BARDExpress.html
Please direct all BARD Express support related questions to . A BARD Support Team member will contact you regarding your query.
***Following is a list of TV providers who now provide some kind of audio or talking menu structure for blind subscribers. Mostly, these providers require that the subscriber have the top of the line DVR box for this to work.
Spectrum (formerly Charter)
Federal Communications Commission
The Telecommunications act requires provision for talking menu and or talking guide structure for blind subscribers of TV providing services. This link takes you to a FAQ sheet with information for filing complaints if necessary.
***IRS Tax Products and Services
IRS Services for People with Disabilities
Hundreds of accessible federal tax forms and publications are available for download from the IRS Accessibility Web pages. Visit IRS.gov and select the Forms & Pubs tab to access the Accessible Forms and Pubs link. You can choose from large-print, text, accessible PDFs, e-Braille, or HTML formats that are compatible when used with screen readers and refreshable Braille displays. The IRS also provides videos in American Sign Language with the latest tax information and has a dedicated ASL YouTube Channel that houses the videos.
IRS Tax Return Preparation Help is Available
People who are unable to complete their tax returns because of a physical disability or are age 60 or older may get assistance through the IRS Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) or Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) programs. You can find a nearby VITA or TCE location by using the available locator tools or calling 1-800-906-9887. Publication 907, Tax Highlights for Persons with Disabilities, explains the tax implications of certain disability benefits and other issues, and is available at www.IRS.gov.
By Cindy Van Winkle
Enjoy these year-round favorites. Great for entertaining at home or sharing at a potluck or party.
*** Baked Jalapeno Cheese Dip
1lb cream cheese
½ cup Mexican blend cheese, grated
½ cup parmesan cheese
4oz mild chiles
4oz hot jalapeno chiles, diced
1 cup panko bread crumbs
½ cup parmesan cheese
3 tbs butter
Mix well the first five ingredients. Place in 9”x13” pan. Mix bread crumbs and parmesan cheese with the butter and crumble of the top. Bake at 375F degrees for 35 minutes, placing on broil for the last couple minutes. Serve hot with tortilla chips or bread pieces.
*** Savory Stuffed Mushrooms
8 oz cream cheese, softened
2/3 cup sharp cheddar cheese, finely grated
1 cup real bacon bits
½ tsp minced garlic
½ tsp minced onion
30 large mushrooms (exact number may vary dependent on size)
Wash mushrooms and remove the stems. Mix cream cheese, cheddar, bacon bits, minced garlic and minced onion until smooth. Scoop cheese mixture into prepared mushrooms. Place on a cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees F for 25 minutes. Serve warm.
*** Party Sausage Balls
1 lb Italian sausage (sweet or spicy)
1/4- cups Bisquick
6 oz shredded cheddar cheese
1/⁄4 cup onion, very finely chopped
1/⁄4 cup celery, very finely chopped
1/⁄4 teaspoon garlic powder
Combine all ingredients and form into 3/4 inch to 1 inch balls. Place meatballs on a greased cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees F for 25 minutes. Enjoy!
We extend our heartfelt congratulations to, and celebrate with, the following WCB members:
Diane and Gary Beck (PCB) on the celebration of their 35th wedding anniversary.
Steve Fiksdal (SKB) for being elected to serve as chair of the State Rehabilitation Council for Washington State Department of Services for the Blind.
Joleen Ferguson (UBWW) on receiving her new guide dog, a cute little female, caramel-colored yellow lab named Mensa, from Guide Dogs for the Blind.
Gaylen Floy (SKB) as an independent contractor with her business Skal Technology, she has been contracted by Department of Services for the Blind to provide computer training at the Orientation and Training Center and hopes to teach remotely in the near future.
Dana Marmion (UBS) on retirement from the Lighthouse for the Blind, Inc. after nearly 20 years of providing customer service, most recently in the Contact Center.
Sarah Schweizer (PCB) on receiving her Seeing Eye dog Grace, a sweet German Shepherd from The Seeing Eye.
Holly Turri (UBWC) on being paired with her affectionate Black Labrador, Pima, from Guide Dogs for the Blind.
Cindy Van Winkle (PCB) on being partnered with her handsome guide dog, a male German Shepherd from Gallant Hearts Guide Dog Center.
Meka White (SKB) on her new position in the Contact Center at the Lighthouse for the Blind, Inc. in Seattle.
If you have something for inclusion for future Hats Off articles, please send to with “Hats Off” in the subject line.
27: Deadline to make lunch reservations for Winter Board meeting. Send reservation to:
4: WCB Winter Board Meeting, 9 A.M., Seattle Best Western Hotel
5: President’s call, 8 P.M.
7: Career Forum, 8 p.m., 800-977-8002 code: 5419226
10: Deadline to submit chapter membership lists and information
11: Washington Talking Book and Braille Library Patron Advisory Committee meeting, Seattle, time TBA
14: Technology Forum, 7 p.m., 800-977-8002 code: 5419226
18: Puget Sound Regional Braille Challenge to be held at the Washington Talking Book and Braille Library in Seattle
21: Book Club Forum, 7 p.m., 800-977-8002 code: 5419226
27: Diabetic Forum, 7 p.m., 800-977-8002 code: 5419226
3: Department of Services for the Blind Rehabilitation Council meeting, 9 a.m., Seattle
7: Career Forum, 8 p.m., 800-977-8002 code: 5419226
14: Technology Forum, 7 p.m., 800-977-8002 code: 5419226
17: Washington State School for the Blind Board of Trustees meeting, 8 A.M., Vancouver
27: Diabetic Forum, 7 p.m., 800-977-8002 code: 5419226
31: Deadline to submit Letters of Application for the WCB Leadership Seminar.
2: President’s call, 8:00 pm
4: Career Forum, 8 p.m., 800-977-8002 code: 5419226
11: Technology Forum, 7 p.m., 800-977-8002 code: 5419226
24: Diabetic Forum, 7 p.m., 800-977-8002 code: 5419226
28: Deadline to make lunch reservations for the Spring Board meeting. Send to:
1: Deadline to submit Letters of Application for First-Timer Scholarship to ACB Conference and Convention. Send to:
2: Career Forum, 8 p.m., 800-977-8002 code: 5419226
5-6: WCB Leadership Seminar. Location TBD
7: WCB Spring Board Meeting. 9 a.m. Location TBD.
9: Technology Forum, 7 p.m., 800-977-8002 code: 5419226
15: Deadline to make stipend and loan requests for national convention. Send to: .
16: Book Club Forum, 7 p.m., 800-977-8002 code: 5419226
19 Department of Services for the Blind Rehabilitation Council meeting, 9 a.m., Seattle
29: Diabetic Forum, 7 p.m., 800-977-8002 code: 5419226
2: Washington State School for the Blind Commencement, 9:30 a.m., Vancouver
2: Washington State School for the Blind Board of Trustees meeting, 12:00 p.m., Vancouver
4: President’s Call, 8:00pm
30: Opening Session of the ACB Conference and Convention, Sparks, NV.
6: President’s call, 8 P.M.
11: Deadline to make lunch reservations for upcoming WCB Summer Board Meeting. Send to:
19: Summer WCB Board Meeting, 10 A.M., Washington Talking Book & Braille Library
8: Department of Services for the Blind Rehabilitation Council meeting, 9 a.m., Seattle
1: President’s Call, 8 P.M.
26-28: WCB Annual Convention, Pasco Red Lion Hotel
1: Department of Services for the Blind Rehabilitation Council meeting, 9 a.m., Seattle
3: President’s Call, 8 P.M.
President: Steve Fiksdal
First Vice President: Meka White
Federal Way, WA
Second Vice President: Sue Ammeter
Port Hadlock, WA
Secretary: Frank Cuta
Benton City, WA
Treasurer: Deb Lewis
Immediate Past President: Cindy Van Winkle
Director: Lori Allison
Director: Andy Arvidson
Director: Carol Brame
Port Orchard, WA
Director: Danette Dixon
Director: Holly Kaczmarski
Director: Jim Turri
The Newsline is available in large print, on cartridge, via email, and on our website at www.wcbinfo.org.
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Newsline Article Submissions
To be considered for inclusion in the spring issue, article submissions and other information for publication must be received by March 10, 2017. Articles should be sent as a Word document and should not exceed 750 words, while chapter updates should be no more than 350 words. Contributions may be edited for clarity and space considerations. Email to . If you have pictures to go along with the articles, chapter updates, or Hat’s Off column that you are submitting, the Newsline Committee welcomes and encourages you to send them.
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