WCB Newsline Summer 2020






Opportunity, Equality, Independence

Founded 1935



Summer 2020 Edition

“Discovering Brilliance through Resilience”


Julie Brannon, President

206-478-3164      Email:


Heather Meares, Content Editor

720-519-9104      Email:


Reginald George, Technical Editor

816-721-3145      Email:


WCB Newsline is the 2011, and now the 2020,
winner of the Hollis Liggett Braille Free Press Award, presented annually by
American Council of the Blind to a deserving affiliate for promoting best
journalistic practices and excellence in writing.


WCB is a 501(c)(3) organization, which means
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the Blind may be
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George, at PO Box 675, Yakima, WA 98907-0675. 


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Calling All Members

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Table of Contents
"Discovering Brilliance Through

President’s Message by Julie Brannon. 5

from the Editors
. 6

It’s Your Newsline, Just Say It! 7

Announcing your Readers’ Choice
nominee for the spring 2020 issue
. 9


Cat Interviews #9
“The Good, the Wild, and the Lovely” by Heather Meares  9

Solitaire Scrabble and Simulated
Spades by Rhonda Nelson
. 13

Resilience and Altruism by Andy Arvidson. 15

Crackerjacks and the Pandemic by
Alco Canfield
. 17

Down Route Covid-19
by Holly Turri 18

Virtual is the New Reality for These
2020 Graduates by Lisa George
. 20


Book Chat by Alan Bentson. 22

Dreamscape by Heather Meares. 25

A Walk Through the World of
Essential Oils by Alco Canfield
. 28

Offerings by Hayley Agers. 30

by Holly Turri 31

What’s On Your Plate? by Hayley Agers. 32


Chronicle of a Happy Warrior
#4:  Discovering Brilliance Through
Resilience by Mark Adreon

Birth of the ADA by Frank Cuta. 37


Let The
Buyer Beware
by Carl Jarvis. 37

The Story of Charles Abbott by Peggy Chong. 39

History Quiz by Carl Jarvis. 45

.. 48

by Frank Cuta. 48

Coffee Magic at a Price by Reginald
. 51


Noteworthy Blogs: Blind Abilities by
Reginald George
. 54

Podtastic Casts "How Being
Blind Made Houston’s Christine Ha a Better Cook" by Reginald George

Bits and Pieces Compiled by Reginald
. 58


of Services for the Blind
by Michael MacKillop. 59

Washington Talking Book &
Braille Library by Danielle Miller


Chicago: The Greatest Convention
That No One Attended by Frank Cuta
. 63

Path to the Future: Reflections on a
Virtual Convention by Julie Brannon
. 65

the Dots
by Cindy Hollis, membership services coordinator, American Council of the Blind. 67

WCB Board
Meets in the Cloud
by Frank Cuta. 69

Results of GiveBIG Washington 2020 by Lisa George. 71

Announcing WCB Diabetics: A New
Special-Interest Affiliate by Danette

Aging and Blindness by Holly Kaczmarski 73

Remembering Berl by Carl Jarvis. 73



2020 WCB Calendar of Deadlines and
. 83



by Julie


How very well this Newsline’s theme, “Discovering Brilliance through
Resilience,” describes how Washington Council of the Blind (WCB) members have
been functioning during this time of coronavirus protections with the stay-at-home
order in place.


held a moment of silence at our May 23 board meeting in remembrance of WCB
members who passed in April and May of this year: Joanne Hunter, member of

Peninsula Council of the
Blind; Mildred Johnson, member of
County Association of the Blind; Lori Allison, member of Pierce County
Association of the Blind; and Joan Lord, longtime member of United Blind of


committees thrive in this difficult time by continuing to meet and accomplish
their goals. Committees and their work are truly the heart of WCB. Some
committees are finding themselves in a strange space, not sure what kind of
planning can be done in either the near or extended future due to the
constraints of the virus. However, people are handling the unknown and
uncertainty with patience and grace.


this time of not being able to meet in person, chapter presidents have truly
rallied to meet the need to connect in alternative ways with chapter members by
having Zoom and phone meetings, often more than once monthly.


conferencing training is being addressed in a variety of ways among WCB
chapters and members. This allows WCB and chapter functions to happen via this


Finance Committee is forging ahead with strength, for the first time allowing
WCB to be involved in the statewide GiveBIG fund that raises donations for
non-profit organizations throughout Washington state. Monies were raised for
Lori Allison’s Angel tribute via ACB, for various chapters that took part in
the process, and for WCB itself. For more details, read Lisa George’s note on
the results later in this issue. 


presidents are working hard on the development of a connecting/mentoring
process. We realized, who better to support and advise, mentor and share with
each other about the ups and downs of these very important roles within our
organization than presidents themselves.


connecting with one another within Washington and around the country has been
possible via the American Council of the Blind’s community events, organized
and orchestrated by our own WCB member Cindy Hollis, now serving as ACB’s
Services Coordinator
Read her article "Connecting the Dots." Many people have shared how
these events have provided much needed connection and structure.


as you can see, WCB is truly surviving and thriving brilliantly and with
resilience during this unique and difficult time in our lives.


Julie Brannon, WCB


***Letter from the


Greetings all,


For all intents and purposes of this letter
alone, we will refer to our organization as Washington Council of the Brilliant
(WCB), because that is exactly what every single one of you are. Observing the
resilient efforts and accomplishments you have achieved has been compelling to
say the least – some on a national level, hosting community event sessions and
serving in crucial positions for American Council of the Blind (ACB), some
dealing with educating your children at home, some educating yourselves in new
ways through online classes and webinars, some trying to keep local chapters
strong, some giving so many hours of time to fundraising efforts and committee
work, some keeping in communication with those of our members who are struggling
with medical or other situations, and all of us finding new and diverse ways to
get through every single day. All of us are dealing with the loss of loved ones
and supporting each other in the best ways we can find.


We would like to take a moment to say thank
you for all you have contributed to the Newsline. It is because of your
excellent submissions, feedback, committee efforts, and support that your WCB
Newsline has received the 2020 Hollis Liggett Braille Free Press Award,
presented by ACB’s Board of Publications for promoting best journalistic
practices and excellence in writing. Congratulations, and may we keep serving
you as your Newsline editors to the best of our abilities.


With sincere gratitude and best wishes,

Your Editors,

Heather Meares and Reginald George: TheWCBNewsline@gmail.com


***It’s Your
Newsline, Just Say It!


We are pleased to
present your very own section to express your most important thoughts, voice
your valued opinions of our articles, inspire us with your grandest ideas, and
share your honest concerns so that we may continue to evolve our publication
into the Newsline you can’t wait to read. Opinions expressed are those of the
individuals, and not those of WCB.



From Frank Cuta:

I continue to be
amazed by the quantity and quality of the articles being contributed to this
publication.  Boy, you guys really know how to bare your souls! I can feel
the enthusiasm of the students learning Braille, the desperation of those
finding love, and the frustration of those struggling with uncooperative



From Julie

I just completed the
reading of this quarter’s entire Newsline, with a cup of coffee alongside as I
listened. Excellent, as always. Since the content is fresh for me, I’d like to
vote for my reader’s choice article for this issue, an article by Mark Adreon,
"Are You Socially Relevant?" This is because Mark dared to deal with
a topic that has been an issue for many blind persons when being alone in a crowd. 


Such good content.
You really do a marvelous job at pulling in very involved and not-so-involved
WCB members for article submissions. 


From John

I want to say this
is the best Newsline I’ve ever read.  All the articles written "from
the heart" were so interesting. With the loss of my wife, Sue, I’m
not daily reminded of blind issues.  But, this Newsline has brought so
many memories of what daily interaction in blind issues meant to both of


If I had to pick one
article, it would have to be the one by Andy Arvidson. It was so much
"from his heart" and he opened his history for all of us to
understand how he dealt with blindness in his life and overcame many
troubles. I’ve met Andy and know what a good man he is. I didn’t know his
history in this much detail and I’m so happy he has found happiness and success
in both his marital and business life.


Thank you, and all
of the contributors to this issue.


From Holly Turri:

The best article in
the Newsline we just got is Andy Arvidson’s. It takes a brave man to write what
he did. His honesty, transparency, and darned good writing are why I vote for




***Announcing your
Readers’ Choice nominee for the spring 2020 issue


This was an
interesting one. We actually had a tie between Andy Arvidson for his article
"Building Relationships," and Mark
Adreon’s Happy Warrior
column, "Are You Socially Relevant?"

We believe that our
readers have great taste, and we appreciate your participation. Both are in the
running for our Reader’s Choice Award for 2020, which will be presented at the
WCB convention. 


Please vote for your favorite article in the
summer issue. Deadline for all votes and article submissions is Aug. 31.

Send all votes, feedback, and submissions to




***Cheshire Cat
Interviews #9

Good, the Wild, and the Lovely”

by Heather Meares


So many of us spend our whole lives searching
for that special something we are meant to do in life. Whether it is volunteer
work, careers, or creative endeavors, we try a variety of options along the way
and hopefully grow into a more well-rounded person throughout the process. If
we are honest with ourselves, we know that process is never really done, even
after retirement or moving on to the next chapter. There are those people who
figure it out at an early point in life and are able to contribute their gifts
for a very long time.


Linda Wilder is one of these gems. She worked
for Washington Department of Services for the Blind (DSB) for more than 30
years as a vocational rehabilitation counselor and has been retired for the
past three years, but is not slowing down in the least bit.


Linda says, “I had my dream job for 30 years.
I loved every day of my work. It was so rewarding to assist people who were
newly blind, or had been blind all their lives, helping them get to the goals
that they wanted to reach. It was always interesting to work with people
because they are so different in their attitudes. No one’s blindness is exactly
the same. I cared greatly for each one of them. It was rewarding in the sense
that just giving them a little information, or a signature guide, something to
get them started thinking ‘I could actually sign my own name,’ or with a
talking watch, ‘I don’t have to ask other people.’ I loved seeing them light up
with the smallest devices and moving on from there."


"I miss the clients. I don’t miss
getting up at 4:00 in the morning. In my retirement, I don’t need as much
structure. I immediately got involved with Pierce County Association of the
Blind (PCAB) and am on the Public Relations Committee. It was an easy
transition from being a counselor to being just one of the members of PCAB, and
I like that a lot. We have done Spaghetti in the Dark the past three years,
which is a fundraising event and also creates awareness about what blind people
can do. I can’t tell you how much fun it is doing all that cooking. When Lori
Allison was alive, (PCAB member and Washington Council of the Blind board
director, who passed earlier this year), I would go over to her house and we’d
do all the chopping, dicing, and cooking together. We also baked a lot of
cookies for the rest stop at Federal Way. We served coffee and hundreds of
cookies as another outreach and way of fundraising."


"I was just asked in January to join the
board of the Hope Vision Foundation. We are developing a website and a Care Provider’s
Handbook for family members or loved ones who are losing their vision, that
together will serve as a guide with really great information. I’ve written
eight articles for it, and another couple has written at least that many. It
has answers to questions people might ask about topics like etiquette for
dining, personal hygiene, reading, writing, low-vision equipment, how to make
your home safe, and emergency and disaster situations, with great resources for
every article."


"I have a fairly large family, including
three sons, who have given me 11 grandchildren and one great granddaughter. My
sons are quite successful, and I’m really proud of them because they weren’t
always. My kids were heavily into drugs. My youngest was a heroin addict, and
spent half of his life in prison. He has been clean and sober now for seven
years, is married with kids, and has written two books. Talk about a 360-degree
turnaround. That man has done it. He owns his own business on Whidbey Island.
My middle son lives in Olympia, has five sons, and owns the Olympia Mattress
Company. My oldest son lives in Sedona, Arizona, and he’s a massage therapist
and does everything in the world with plants and gardening and that sort of
thing. I really enjoy life, people, and traveling. My husband and I spent a
month in the British Isles and it was incredible.”


Heather: “How have you been handling the
shelter-in-place times and what have you been doing to get through it all?”


Linda: “My husband and I are both avid
readers and I’ve probably read about 30 books in the last three months,
sometimes two or three at the same time. The author I have really gotten into
is Wilbur Smith, from South Africa. He has over 50 books and I haven’t read
them all yet. Stephen White is another one I enjoy. Sometimes my husband and I
will read the same book and then compare notes. Reading is a huge outlet for
us. I have also been attending a lot of webinars.


I am on the State Rehab Counsel for the
Blind, which meets every three months and, of course, is now meeting by phone.
I am also on the Families Committee for WCB.


One of my big things is fashion. I’m going
through my closet now and it’s disgusting how many clothes, purses, shoes, and
jewelry I have. Oh, my goodness!”


Heather laughs and replies: “You and I have
that in common.”


Linda: “I kind of have a reputation of
being well-dressed and in fashion, so last year at the WCB convention, I was
asked to talk to the youth about fashion. It was wonderful and so much fun. We
talked about what to wear on a date, to school, and to a wedding. We had all
this clothing for them to put outfits together and describe them, and tell us
why they chose them. They really got into it. It was interesting to see how
excited they were."


At the age of 28, Linda was struck with a
disease that affected her entire body. She said goodbye to her significant
other who was leaving for a trip, and woke up in the hospital two days later,
deaf, blind, paralyzed from the neck down, no sense of smell or taste,
everything was just gone. After being in the hospital for four months, she
still had a positive, upbeat attitude, knowing she would eventually get out and
back to her kids. As it turned out, her previous husband and his wife had to
take custody of her children, all except the youngest one. It was the most
horrible thing that had happened in her life. She spent years feeling so guilty
that she had lost her boys, who were moving around different Naval bases,
including Virginia, Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and Puerto Rico, even though she was
able to visit them.


The best part of the story is that she
started at DSB’s Orientation and Training Center (OTC) in 1976, even though she
couldn’t walk well, and she was able to regain everything except her vision.
She took a taxi every day, first to the babysitter with her 1-year-old, then to
the OTC and back. In 1979, Linda went to school, first getting her AA degree,
then a degree in vocational counseling. She was then hired by DSB, which saw
the importance of hiring her.


Linda says, “Blindness is not something I
would wish on anybody and I’d love to be able to see my kids, but it has not
been horrible for me. I learned good skills. I’ve never been able to read
Braille, though, which has been a deficit, because I have a nerve condition,
Raynauds, in my hands. I’m so impressed with people, like Julie Brannon (WCB
president and former OTC director), who reads Braille faster than some people
can read print."


"Have you heard of the Kubler-Ross
stages of grieving: denial, anger, and the rest? I’ve added something to the
end of that. Live a happy, full life. Don’t let anything stop you.”


Heather: “It sounds like you have done
exactly that.”


Linda: “Yeah, I think so!”


Heather Meares: hdmeares@gmail.com


***Solitaire Scrabble and Simulated Spades
by Rhonda Nelson


I’m a big fan of getting together with family
and friends to play Scrabble and cards. Too bad for her, you may be thinking;
stay-at-home mandates have eliminated that fun. Oh, maybe think again. Though
not ideal, with some modifications, the games have gone on.


For those of you who have not yet experienced
the joy, and sometimes frustration, of Scrabble, this board game involves
forming interlocking words, cross-word fashion, using letter tiles of different
values. Players compete for high score by taking advantage of letter values, as
well as premium squares on the board.


In my solitaire version, I simply play the
game as usual, drawing tiles, forming words, and keeping track of the score.
One advantage is that if a play I make sets up a nice opportunity for a high
score on a subsequent turn, I know the opportunity will remain mine and not be
grabbed by an opponent. My scores have varied, the highest being 805 points. A
pamphlet included with one of my long-ago acquired print/braille Scrabble sets
says that in a two-handed game, a good player scores in the 300- to 400-point
range. So, pretending there were two of me, we played pretty well that
particular time.


A game that doesn’t appear to lend itself to
a solitaire version is Spades. In this card game, the players’ goal is to
accurately bid on the number of tricks they will take in a given hand, get
points accordingly, and not lose points by overbidding. Tricks are taken by
playing the highest card in the suit led or a card from the trump suit.
Typically, spades is trump, thus the game’s name, but my friend Mike and I have
modified that a bit.


Mike is one of the people who taught me Spades
a long time ago and with whom I have played many in-person games over the
years. Somewhere during the new stay-at-home normal, he had the idea that we
could try Spades over the phone. We did, and it worked! We spoke the number and
suit of cards as we played them, as is our usual procedure anyway. The main
change from an in-person game was that we each played with a full deck… of
cards at least. This created the potential, if not likelihood, that there could
be duplicates in any given hand. What would we do if we, in fact, played the
same card in a particular turn? This could be especially pertinent if that card
happened to be a good one, such as the ace of spades. We decided that whoever
played the card first would get the credit, thus perhaps causing the other
player to lose a counted-on trick. I can’t put the blame there, but in our
telephonic experiment, I played horribly while Mike played very well. Our final
score was Mike 276, Rhonda negative 5. While these modifications have been fun,
I look forward to the time when in-person get-togethers are again an option,
and to the camaraderie and good food that come therewith.


Rhonda Nelson: rhonels36@gmail.com


***Resilience and

by Andy


In the past couple of months, during the
coronavirus pandemic, life has taken on a new meaning for me. It has brought me
to a new realm of altruism, more giving of oneself for the benefit of others,
without asking for reward. How did all of this happen?


Remembering back to
my childhood, when things were all about me, “I am not much, but I am all I
think about,” just does not fit my lifestyle today.
has been a long journey, but a worthwhile one. I cry at sad movies, feel sorrow
when things happen to others, turn the other cheek when I am attacked verbally
or physically, and smile whenever possible.


My wife Colette and I decided to buy a new
car, realized what they would probably offer us on a trade-in, and decided that
we weren’t willing to let our beloved Prius go that low. Therefore, we put our
thinking caps on and looked at who could use a nice car for a reasonable price.
Lo and behold, my son Andy Jr. needed a car.


Colette said, why don’t we sell it to him for
$1?  No, I said, let’s sell it to him for
$10. The state has made it impossible to gift a car to family members.


When I told my son, he was pleased. I
explained the conversation that Colette and I had about the price and asked him
to choose. He picked $10 instead of $1. Brilliant choice, I thought.


In the past, I would have been upset at the
car dealership and stormed out of there with a bad temper, but not this time.
Calmly, I was able to say thanks, we will just not do a trade-in and will give
the car to one of our children. The salesman said are you sure, and we both
said yes. It is a good car and my son is always in need of wheels.


There’s another story about my son and
vehicles. Thirty years ago, he was going to take my truck without permission.
This was near the end of my driving time. Anyway, when I found out, I kindly
explained to him that I would have had him arrested if he had done that. He
said, but you are my dad. I replied yes, I am, but if you steal from me, you
are a common criminal, son or not.


He was shocked, but later he thanked me for
the lessons I taught him. In fact, at one point I asked him if he’d rather I be
his dad or a friend. He said he would like me to be his dad and not a friend,
and that has worked well for us. We have learned a lot together.


He taught me how to communicate with one of
my daughters. I told him she would not return my calls, and he said most people
don’t talk on phones anymore, they text. So I learned how to text, and she
responded immediately. Wow!


Speaking of communication, we had purchased several
Echo Dots, and at our chapter meeting asked if anyone would be interested in
receiving one for free. Out of the blue, one of our older members said that she
would. She was the last member that I believed would take one. I was blown
away, as she has always backed off of technology.


Early the next day we drove to her house and
dropped it off on her porch. Her son and his family came over later that day
and set it up for her.


The same evening, she left us a voice-mail,
overly excited and elated that Alexa was playing “Danny Boy” for her, as she is
from Ireland.


If I had not come to the point of being
resilient in these times, and learned how to be altruistic in nature, neither
of these events could have occurred.


Andy Arvidson: arvidsonandy@gmail.com


***Crackerjacks and the Pandemic
by Alco Canfield


"What do you want when ya gotta eat
somethin’, and it’s gotta be quick, and it’s gotta be a lot, and ya gotta have
it now, what-do-ya-want? Crackerjacks!" Guaranteed to be savory, sweet,
and salty; best of all, a prize at the bottom, a reward for loyal indulgence.
"Candy-coated popcorn, peanuts and a prize. That’s what you get in


This little ditty summarizes our culture. We
want, got to have, a lot, now, whatever it may be! We assume that whatever we
want will be at the grocery store, toilet paper to Clorox. Lately, our routines
and our assumptions have taken a hit.   


I am not unmindful of the grief, fear and
suffering stalking so many people along with Covid-19. But perhaps this time
spent staying at home or in forced distancing may provide us with an
opportunity to reflect about what’s really important. I heard a woman remark
that she had been so busy that she had lost track of her priorities. Spending
meaningful time with her family was something she had been missing without
realizing it.


The pandemic has called forth extraordinary
goodness and generosity from people in our country – from selfless medical
personnel risking their lives to treat patients, to individuals stocking
shelves in grocery stores and delivering groceries to those who can’t or
shouldn’t go out. I am heartened by the resilience of so many people who have
lost so much personally and economically. 


With the din of advertising in our ears
goading us on to gluttony and other forms of unbridled consumerism, we might also
hear a kinder, gentler, compassionate call to a genuine caring for those inside
and outside our immediate spheres.


What do you get when you want to give
something, and it’s gotta be quick, maybe not a lot, and you want to give it
now? What do you get? Not candy-coated popcorn, or peanuts, but the prize of
contributing to the community of which we are all a part. A phone call, a
letter, or financial contributions are a few examples of the many ways we can
show our concern. The opportunities to give that present themselves will
further our equality and independence, and will give us the satisfaction of
knowing that, in small and great ways, we CAN make a difference.


Alco Canfield: alcocanfield@gmail.com



***Striding Down
Route Covid-19

by Holly Turri


When the coronavirus slunk onto the stage of
our lives, I was scared to death. "Could this be the end? Are we all going
to die?"  These were just some of
the many things I prayed about and, frankly, worried over. 


Then one day it hit me. We all have to climb
this mountain.  Whether we like it or
not, each of us must join the hike. While we are on the journey, we can decide
to sing or whine. This is a conscious choice. Although I will hurt your ears, I
choose the song route.


For 32 years, my commute to my place of
gainful enjoyment was either a 2- or 4-hour roundtrip. What a pleasure it is to
sit in my house and obey a proclamation discouraging me from going somewhere.


Resiliency is the ability to adjust to
difficult situations in a creative and timely manner. Blind people naturally
have this in our makeup. Learning and adapting are things we have done since
toddlerhood. Getting groceries with Instacart, talking on Zoom, and cooking
with different foods are just some of the ways this excellent trait has been
manifested. In many ways, my sighted friends find this whole thing daunting and
discouraging. It’s just our lives. 


What if this virus situation occurred in the
dead of winter? Can you imagine how hard it would be to deal with all these
changes in the cold, wet, and darkness? 


God has given us the gift of spring. Even if
we can’t leave our homes, we can sit on the balcony or open the window to
appreciate the beauty all around us. He dressed up our world. Even at a
distance, it’s our job to host his party. 


Even though we have to wear masks, yuck,
people have designed attractive and interesting ones. I’ve heard of cat,
dinosaur, floral, smart sayings, and many other kinds. We’ve got a new way to
express ourselves. Yay team! Now, if they’d only come up with one that didn’t
make me sweat like a pig. Walking with my guide dog, Pima, and wearing mine is
a sight to see. 


Meetings should always be held online. Look
at all the fossil fuels we are saving. Ditto church. Sorry if that offends
someone or other. Sitting on my couch with a cup of coffee causes me to feel so
much more in touch with Jesus. Also, since I don’t actually have to sing, I
have had a chance to really listen to and ponder the words of our songs and
hymns. Yes, it will be wonderful to go back, but I’m not in a super hurry.


Creativity has been shown in so many ways. My
granddaughter, Nina, celebrated her 7th birthday. Her best friend and her mom
drew a 6-foot-long “happy birthday” banner with the usual greeting, plus
pictures of all the things my angel loves to do.  Then they drove by the house with it. What a
wonderful idea.


So many people have created corona parodies.
Truly, laughter is the best medicine.


Most importantly, my chapter, WCB, and ACB
all care. Although I’m a member of other groups and organizations, nothing like
what we are experiencing has been forthcoming. Our entities have and are taking
steps to keep us together. All the online discussions, like the local and
national coffee meetings, have helped me get to know absolutely amazing and
fascinating people. We can learn with groups about technology and books.  Romance and dating are covered. We mustn’t
forget computer games. Meetings for cancer survivors and recovering alcoholics
have just been added. The healthy benefits with essential oils, as well as
yoga, are offered. Our chapter is throwing a virtual May Day party. Frankly, if
I chose to, I’d be on Zoom all day and part of the evening. All this is free.
Thank you Cindy for being the force behind this amazing concept and for making
it so.


A famous hurricane forecaster and researcher
named Isaac Cline lived by this maxim: "Time is our most precious gift.
Wasted hours can never be reclaimed." Heartfelt thanks to all those who
are so generous with this commodity.


My heart hurts for the unemployed and hungry.
I do what I can to help. We all should. However, anything we try ought to be
given with a glad spirit. From sadness and trouble, we have chosen to enjoy
opportunities of which we have never dreamed.


Holly Turri: holly.turri9@gmail.com


***Virtual is the New Reality for These 2020

by Lisa George


It’s a tradition.
It’s a rite of passage. It’s a celebration of the hard work and achievement of
a major goal in a young life. What is it? High school graduation, of course.


This year, six
Washington State School for the Blind (WSSB) graduates experienced the same
unusual situation as many other students, when the pandemic shut down schools
across the country. Demonstrating their resilience, they were successful in
their academic endeavors and will have a unique story to tell about their high
school graduation.


Rather than the on-campus
gathering of family, friends, and well-wishers, the ceremony in 2020 was
literally a production, put together as a YouTube video, complete with audio
description. It allowed each graduate to speak from the heart, faculty and
staff to share their best wishes, and all those watching to get a front-row
seat to the festivities.


Both WSSB Director
of On Campus Programs Sean McCormick and WSSB Superintendent Scott McCallum
gave their remarks to the graduates before commencement speaker Lt. Gov. Cyrus


Lt. Gov. Habib
shared his experiences with WSSB activities and encouraged the graduates: “We
know that we will continue to have to change to do things. As blind people,
we’re in a good position to help others adapt. We have strategies, we’re
creative. You have a special responsibility to be leaders, you have earned that
right. Behind you are all your memories; ahead of you are all your dreams;
beside you are all who love you; within you is all you need.”


Civil Rights
activist Dolores Huerta also had a message for the graduates: “Resilience is
your muscle that will get stronger.”


The WSSB Board of
Trustees Award was announced by Nancy McDaniel, chair, and awarded to two
recipients this year: Alex Murillo-Collins and Quincy Vague.


Without a physical
stage for this commencement, Director of Curriculum and Instruction Jennifer
Langley “took the stage to the graduates” and traveled across the state to
capture those moments. With balloons flying, tassels swinging, and smiles all
around, each student received his or her diploma, and also got the chance to
ring a handbell for each year spent at WSSB (the tradition which understandably
had to be transformed for this road show).


Congratulations to
the WSSB Class of 2020!

Freckleton, Portland

Katrina Manalo,
Camano Island

Murillo-Collins, Moses Lake

Parra, Olympia

Schaffer, Monroe

“Quincy” Vague, Friday Harbor


If you’d like to
watch the WSSB 2020 graduation ceremony, go to








***Book Chat
by Alan


Now, where were we? Oh yes, we were talking
about World War II and how it still casts a giant shadow over our world and our
books. I have been reading “Hidden Figures: the American Dream and the Black
Women Mathematicians Who Helped to Win the Space Race” (db86835), by Margot Lee


It is a bestseller with a movie to go along
with it, so I’m probably the last person in the world to get around to it. If
you’ve read it, you will remember how during WWII the National Advisory
Committee for Aeronautics (NACA) — later to become the National Aeronautics
and Space Administration (NASA) — was very short of computers to help them
design and test the planes. Lots of this work was being done at Langley
Memorial Aeronautical Laboratory in Hampton, VA, a southern city with a pool of
African-American women teachers who were greatly overqualified for their jobs.


The computers the agency was looking for were
not machines, but people to do the endless calculations involved in the work of
building the planes. In the old days, “typewriters” were the people who did the
typing, not the machines, and the same is true for computers. These women might
never have been hired if the men had not been off to war and if there had not
been such a huge amount of work to be done because of the war. This book
provides many examples of women who thrived at this work, changed and grew as
the years went by, and came to program the computers instead of being


This postmodern era in literature is known
for blending genres, and this book is a great blend of social history,
individual biography and scientific study of the development of aeronautics
into astronautics.


Our author was lucky to have a wealth of
examples, but after a while I had a hard time remembering who was who, since
their careers were so similar. This is not the author’s fault, really. As much
as I love history, I often have a hard time keeping track of everyone.


Shetterly seems more concerned with what the
work these women did was like than with what they were doing, but to this uneducated
eye, her descriptions of engineering challenges do seem right on the money,
clear and concise.


Those wishing for more descriptions of the
problems of rocketry, and a more detailed history of the early space program,
may wish to try “Rocket Men: The Epic Story of the First Men on the Moon
(db69775), by Craig Nelson.


This book also has a long opening section
about WWII, focusing on the German rocketry program and the hardships visited
on the forced labor who largely staffed the project. “Hidden Figures” is
narrated by Emily Ellet, and she is particularly good, precise without being
mechanical, and yet conveying a lot of warmth for the people in the story and
excitement about their accomplishments.


“Rocket Men” is narrated by Lou Harpenau, one
of the veteran American Printing House for the Blind guys. If you have ever
read Newsweek or The Reader’s Digest, you know what a good narrator

he is.


Would there have been a space race or a moon
landing without WWII? Would there have been a modern women’s movement or a
civil rights struggle without the impetus of WWII? Possibly, but the war lit a
fire that encouraged these events, and none of them would have happened as
quickly or as dramatically. I certainly hope we do not have to put on another
major war to promote progress in space exploration or in advancing human


I seem to be reading a lot about war lately.
I read a book from audible.com called “Storm and Fortress, the Clash of Empires
in the Eastern Seas, 1809,” by Stephen Taylor, that brought the Napoleonic war
at sea to life.


Narrator James Adams from Blackstone Audio
vividly recreates a world of wooden ships and endless sea voyages, men fighting
other men, but also taking on hurricanes in order to bring saltpeter from
thousands of miles away in India to make gun powder for the war in Europe.


The author points out several characters that
have fictional counterparts in the famous Captain Aubrey series by Patrick
O’Brian, and he frequently uses “Pride and Prejudice,” by Jane Austen, to
illustrate the dilemmas of the characters of ladies in the story.


I just cannot imagine willingly boarding one
of those awful, cramped, leaky ships to travel very slowly halfway around the
world. Think of all the parents who put their children aboard these same ships
to travel by themselves an unimaginable distance just because an English
education was thought to be superior.


I also read “St. Patrick’s Battalion,” by
James Alexander Thom, about the Mexican War (1846-1849) in which we conquered a
large part of our present country. Mark Ashby narrates this novel and if all
you have ever heard him read is magazines, I think you will find his rendering
of this story a true revelation of talent. This book also inspired a movie.


I have not seen Hidden Figures, but I have
seen St. Patrick’s Battalion, and it is good, if nothing else than for the
music provided by the Chieftains.


This book seemed especially gruesome, even
for a war story, as it depicted the sufferings of both sides in a world of poor
medicine, poor sanitation and downright bad food. The "battalion" was
made up of Irish soldiers in the American army who deserted in the face of very
prejudiced treatment from their officers, and a desire to fight with fellow
Catholics rather than Americans who did not appreciate them. It is a sad and
thought-provoking story that makes you see this war from a different point of


Hope you are all finding good things to read
in this era of staying home. Be safe.


Alan Bentson, Readers’ Advisor: a.bentson@comcast.net


Heather Meares


Whenever I move to a new home, my head
immediately fills with ideas of what I could create in the outside spaces. Even
in small apartments, I somehow can’t keep myself from filling the tiniest patio
with many plants and unique accoutrements to transform it into a place of
refuge. I have owned my past three homes, which allows me to think big and
design long-term landscape plans. My current residence has been the most
challenging in the sense that it has been the first one done from a completely
blind perspective. It has also been the most powerful and rewarding one. Not
only have I considered the visual beauty others will behold, but I have
incorporated functionality and accessibility to garden independently if I so desire.
That’s all well and good, but what I really want to show you is the magic. Take
a walk with me through my garden paths and let them cast a spell over you, if
even for a moment.


As we exit the front door, we land on “The
Front Porch of Happiness.” First, we have to say hello to Henry, the pot
person. His body is an upside-down clay pot painted with green overalls and a
yellow shirt. He has two smaller pots as arms connected with a rope, and a
right-side-up pot as a face. He has had many different hairstyles, but is
currently wearing hens and chicks as a man bun and dreadlocks. He has an
antique wooden toolbox he has cultivated with verbena and other annuals. Most
of the things here came with me from Denver and were given to me by friends
near and dear to my heart: an apple cider press; an old wooden and wrought iron
bench facing the crabapple tree in the front yard; a giant 3-foot urn, given to
me by my great Aunt B, topped with a blooming fuchsia basket. The blossoms hang
upside down, with tiny threads dangling from the center of a ruffled, puff
ball, wearing four pointed petals as a collar. The buds start as fragile little
berries that explode into magnificent showers of flowers. Hundreds of dainty
little lobelia blossoms, no bigger than a pea, peek through the fuchsias and
cascade down the sides of the basket. As you sit on the bench, you hear deep,
echoing chimes above your head in the key of C, which is a very happy key,
indeed. The clicking of several hummingbirds surrounds you, accompanied by chirping
birds and chattering squirrels, all finding the gifts provided for them. You
set your drink on a table that is actually an antique iron and thick glass
window, rescued from an old, historic brick building that had been torn down.
The window rests on two sets of cement blocks with lots of annual flowers
spilling from the tops on both ends. The combination of the raw hard materials
with the softness and color of the plants is quite intriguing. The sweet, heady
perfume of jasmine and vanilla-scented heliotrope consumes you, making you
wonder if you may actually be dreaming.


Next, you step down onto a quartz crystal
stone step leading into “The Secret Courtyard of Contemplation and
Conversation.” As you step down one more time, you hear the crunching of very
small, round river rocks that cover the entire area. Here you must stop for a
moment and reach out your arms in both directions. On the left you find long,
5-foot-tall grass-like foliage that is actually a brilliant, colorful daylily.
The giant, star-shaped trumpets are a tropical shade of coral red that grow on
spikes much taller than me. On your right, you feel soft pine needles and tiny
pinecones beginning to form. Below these, as you walk along a path of stepping
stones, on either side are old apple crates filled with several varieties of
mint. Apple-, mojito-, and strawberry-scented on one side, orange, ginger, and
chocolate on the other. There are also two flats of the most minuscule and
surprisingly potent Corsican mint, which is used to make Crème de Menthe
liqueur, and the softest wooly thyme, waiting to be planted between the
stepping stones. They release their fragrance every time they are walked on and
I am sure the fairies dance on them at midnight, too. Of course, you must bend
down and feel, taste, and smell them all. This will clear your head of any
troubling thoughts for sure. Straight ahead is an inviting table and chairs,
placed under the natural umbrella of a large pine tree. The rain begins to
fall, but you don’t even get wet. You sit here listening to the droplets
singing their quiet song in gentle harmony with the crickets, as a squirrel has
taken over the bamboo birdcage hanging behind the table. This makes you chuckle
a bit. On the table, you also notice a pot of orange thyme and a larger pot of
silver posey-thyme that is so fluffy you literally cannot quit petting it. The
teardrop-shaped leaves lightly dance under the palm of your hand and tickle
your fingertips, leaving their fresh scent on your skin. When I say this is a
secret courtyard, I am only being half-truthful. It is currently enclosed by
brand new cherry laurel hedges that will eventually grow to be about 12 feet
high. This will completely block the side garden area from the neighbors and
front yard – unless you enter it through the old antique door nestled in the
hedge. For now, the hedges are not very tall and the door is still in the
garage, but we can imagine, right?


Now that we have enjoyed our glass of wine,
we must continue back to the stone path because it has one more room to lure us
into. There is a beautiful wrought-iron archway, covered in sparkling crystals
in many different colors, reflecting the sunlight passing through them. Before
you enter, you must stop and smell the roses. And by roses, I don’t just mean
any old roses. These are two identical, lollipop-style tree roses on each side
of the arch. But wait…there’s one more secret. They are a graft of two
different varieties. The first is a lovely yellow Julia Child rose, and the
second is a delicious magenta-purple clustered rose called Ebb Tide, and it is
quite intoxicating. The two contrasting colors emerging from the same plant are
like stunning parasols, standing about 5 feet high, a convenient height for
taking in the aroma as you pass through the arch into “The Rainbows and Roses
Destiny Garden.”


This garden is a straight, symmetrical
pathway, lined on either side with one of my favorite lavender varieties,
Grosse Bleu. A riotous rainbow of roses and perennials create a menagerie of
all shapes, sizes, colors, scents and textures, including blue delphiniums,
poppies, peonies, black-eyed Susans, ornamental onions (which are so adorable I
could not leave them at the nursery), lilacs, blue hydrangeas, blue salvia,
lupine, forget-me-nots, and lots of potted herbs and heirloom tomatoes. In the
center of this glorious path is a simple yet beautiful fountain that just so
happens to be outside my bedroom window. Well, perhaps I do not actually have
the “Fountain of Destiny” yet, but I can hear it there already, trickling and
bubbling, attracting the butterflies and bluebirds to come take a dip, dream a
bit, and reflect upon their own destinies.


Heather Meares: hdmeares@gmail.com


***A Walk through
the World of Essential Oils
by Alco


I have always loved fragrance. As a child, I
remember the pungent smell of incense at midnight mass, sure to keep one awake.
As an adult, I purchased one of those incense burners and had a glorious time
lighting the charcoal and dropping the odoriferous powder on top of it. My
mother gasped when she saw the blackened urn. I lit stick incense for a while,
but was always afraid some stray ember might cause a fire.


I have just recently begun my journey into
the world of essential oils. I had no idea there were so many different
vendors. New Directions Aromatics is a wholesale company selling essential
oils, soap, hair-care products, and supplements, to name just a few items.
doTERRA is a multi-level marketing company, but one can sign up to buy
wholesale without being hounded to do more. I know some members of Washington
Council of the Blind are involved with Scentsy.


Some oils are safe to use internally while
others are not. The literature promises they do all kinds of things, from
calming to improving focus and energy. Each individual will need to decide
which oils work best for the desired effects.


Many diffusers are on the market and I have
had difficulty finding one that carries the fragrance throughout the room. I thought
perhaps I was not adding enough oil. There are pipettes available, which allow
one to squeeze the oil in drop by drop. I just shake and guess. I bought some
diffusers from Amazon and Target. I am still looking for the perfect one. 


I am excited to see
so many possibilities in the world of essential oil fragrance. Placebo or not,
using essential oils just makes me feel better. However, I am still


There is a wealth of information about
essential oils on YouTube and the material on many company websites is very


I hope you venture
into this land and have a good time smelling the wonderful oils from the
beautiful plants created for us to enjoy. 


Alco Canfield: alcocanfield@gmail.com


Hayley Agers

Almost 15 years ago, I decided to
give up my career as an occupational therapist to start a family. I’ve known
since I was a young girl that I wanted to be a Mum, and I had big ideas about
what that would look like. I had already been through three miscarriages. I
wanted to be a Mum more than anything.

When Brayden was born, and then
three years later Sydney, my life changed in the most amazing ways. I’ve spent
the last 15 years devoting my life to being the best Mum I could be. I gave up
many things I enjoyed because the joy of motherhood was greater.

My children are growing up now, and
need me differently than in the past, which leaves me wondering what I have to
offer. I questioned whether or not I’d want to go back to being a therapist. I
lacked computer skills and was convinced I had nothing to offer an employer.

It wasn’t until my dear friend Cindy
asked me if I would be interested in hosting an American Council of the Blind
(ACB) call discussing essential oils that I wondered if I had something else to
give. Self-doubt crept in. Would people want to hear what I had to say? All it
would have taken was a low turnout on that call, and I would have been
convinced what I had to offer was only valuable to me.

This was not the case. More than 20
ACB members from around the country joined me that first week, listening as I
spoke about oils, and sharing how they’ve helped me deal with health concerns
in a natural way. Many have returned week after week, sharing their own stories
and needs. I have been blessed to meet some amazing people. Some have purchased
oils to try and some simply join us for the company. Both reasons are fine with
me. I never dreamt I’d get this response.

From the beginning, my intention was
to share myself with others, reach out a helping hand, and spread hope in such
uncertain times.

Here is my new truth: Because of
this opportunity, many have joined my team, purchased oils, and attended
classes. I never intended this to be a business, but that’s what it has become.
Does it mean my intentions have changed? No, not at all. For the first time in
15 years, I am making my own money, and it feels good. It’s not much, but no
longer do I have to turn to my husband for money so I can go out for coffee
with a friend, or buy that new dress. I can now buy my husband a 26th
anniversary present.

I feel a renewed sense of purpose.
Who I am, and what I have to offer is enough. I am so grateful for good friends
who believed in me before I believed in myself, and for the new friends I have
made. I am thankful to ACB, where everyone has a place they can belong.

Hayley Agers: haydav8@comcast.net



***Masks Unmasked
by Holly


Earlier today, my guide dog and I walked to
the community food co-op to pick up a few groceries. The new rule in Bellingham
is that if we are outside, masks must be worn at all times. Suddenly, I had one
of those amazing thoughts I get far too infrequently.  When wearing our face coverings, blind people
have the advantage over our seeing counterparts. Here is why.


Sighted people process most of the
information from interactions with others through vision. "No duh,"
you say. Think about it. The face is covered. Facial expressions can’t be seen,
so they are uncomfortable and can have trouble cluing in to conversational nuances.
Does this sound familiar? Often they say the same thing about us. 


Emotions are challenging for them to
decipher. That danged mask gets in the way. For all our lives, we’ve gathered
information through vocal inflections. Sighted people never learned to do this


Do you think we should teach them some
tricks? Or should we let them learn the hard way?


Holly Turri: holly.turri9@gmail.com


***What’s On Your Plate?
Hayley Agers


Summer is here, yes that’s right. Although,
right now the days seem to run into one another and we wonder if outside
picnics, family gatherings, and parties will ever exist again. I’m here to tell
you they will. When they do, you’ll want to try these easy recipes.


Cheesy Rigatoni Pepper Bake

Yield: 6 to 8 servings


1 lb.
rigatoni pasta

2 tbsp.
olive oil

4 cloves
garlic, minced

1 onion,
finely diced

2 28-oz.
cans of diced tomatoes

1 6-oz.
can tomato paste

2 8-oz.
balls of fresh mozzarella, cut into cubes (or use 4 cups of shredded)

9 tbsp.
grated parmesan cheese

1 1-lb.
bag of mini sweet bell peppers (you can use large, too)


1.   Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
Cook the rigatoni according to the directions on the box, about 10 minutes.
Drain and set aside to cool.

2.   Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium
heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook until the onions are golden, about 3 to
4 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes and tomato paste and mix until everything is
combined. Add salt and pepper and simmer for 15 minutes.

3.   Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

4.   Spread a thin layer of the sauce in the
bottom of a 9×13 baking dish. Layer in half of the cooked noodles, half of the
cubed or shredded mozzarella, 3 tbsp. of the grated parmesan, and half of the
diced bell peppers. Top with half of the remaining sauce. Repeat the process
with the remaining noodles, mozzarella, 3 tbsp. parmesan, sweet peppers and the
last of the sauce. Top with the 3 tbsp. of parmesan cheese you still have
remaining. If making ahead, cover with tinfoil and place in the refrigerator.

5.   Cover and bake until the sauce is bubbling
and the peppers are cooked through, about 40 minutes. Let sit 10 minutes before


If you are a meat lover and must have some
meat in this dish, add in some Italian sausage such as Jimmy Dean, along with
the onions and garlic. Continue on with the rest of the recipe as instructed.


Parmesan Balsamic Vinaigrette

Yield: 1 cup


2 tbsp.
white balsamic vinegar

1 lemon,
peeled and halved

1 garlic

1 tsp.

4½ tsp. fresh
basil leaves, chopped

1½ tbsp.
fresh thyme leaves

¼ cup
grated parmesan cheese

¼ tsp.
ground black pepper

½ cup
olive oil


Blend all ingredients in a blender and serve
over a bed of greens. You may want to add additional vegetables if serving by
itself. But if serving it with the above rigatoni recipe, greens alone will
work just fine.


Aguas Frescas

A delicious blend of fruit and herbs to cool
you down and hydrate you during hot summer days.


1 cup
roughly chopped fruit (strawberries, cantaloupe, peeled cucumber, pineapple)

1 cup

½ medium
lime, juiced

1 tsp.
agave or sweetener of choice

2 large mint leaves, perfect with the cucumber


1.   Combine all of the ingredients and blend
until smooth. Taste and, if necessary, add more lime or sweetener and blend

2.   Serve immediately over ice.


Hayley Agers: haydav8@comcast.net




***Chronicle of a Happy Warrior #4:
Discovering Brilliance through

by Mark Adreon


The future looked daunting and depressing.
Why did I have all this happen to me and continue to expand like dominos, one
after the other? 


What a nice day, until I severely and
violently broke my leg. The ride to the hospital was excruciating with the
emergency vehicle hitting every pothole and me without any pain medications.
Three hours of surgery, notable loss of blood and recovery in ICU. After three
days, transfusions were needed to bring blood pressure from 70 to a normal
range. On day three, waking up and not being able to take a breath with the
oxygen being normal, anxiety attack with medication causing hallucinations.
X-rays revealed pulmonary edema, meaning blood clots on air sacks in my lungs,
which immediately required a Heparin drip. My blood sugars were out of whack,
and pain medications were creating a fog.


Yea, time to be released from the hospital
after eight days to a rehab center to begin the long journey to walking again.
Packed and ready to go, oh, the available bed was no longer there. Yea, time to
go again – what, no bed? After realizing that the rehab centers were afraid to
have a blind patient for rehab, it was time to launch a strong and targeted
advocacy plan to hold rehab centers accountable to the policies of Swedish Hospital.


This story continues with challenges of
equity at the rehab center, making gains on mobility, and having them disappear
after additional incidents. Working part-time from home, then full-time. Having
additional issues like carpal tunnel, rotator cuff pain and weakness, and the
outside of my left leg completely numb. Every limb was now having an issue.


The definition of resilience as a noun is: Ability to recover from
adversity, depression or sickness.


As an adjective, the ideas of rebounding or springing
forward, leaning in, or fighting the obstacles around us defines it.  


Staying engaged, staying focused on the
positive outcome and maintaining enough strength to keep moving forward while
feeling everything is moving the opposite way. 


If making it through without giving up is
resilience, does this make it brilliance? How does resilience become a pathway
to brilliance?


Brilliance as a noun can be great brightness,
luster, splendor, excellence
or distinction, eloquence.


Surviving or making it through adversity does
not necessarily mean it was eloquent, brilliant, excellent or distinctive. It
does mean you made it through to the other end of adversity. This has high
value and should be celebrated. 


We have all heard the stories about the person
who lost their vision and started climbing seven of the world’s highest
mountain peaks. The person who loses both their legs and, with prosthetics,
runs a national marathon. These stories are certainly excellent, distinctive,
and an example of brilliance. Does everyone need to climb mountains or run
marathons to be considered examples of brilliance? The answer is no.


There are many ways to achieve brilliance
through your personal resilience. Staying positive, fighting for resolution,
supporting others as you support yourself, finding how your experience is
bigger than yourself and the fight is for your community.  


can be the perception of how you see the situation. Is it about banding
together or standing alone?

is personal and defined by you. Is it a goal or an outcome?

brilliance provide incentive for others to stay in the moment and stay strong
in the face of adversity? Are you modeling or mentoring? Are you an example to
support others? Or is the focus personal?

All the above can be signs of resilience, and
pathways to brilliance. Choose your own path and walk with others to the mountaintop.


Mark Adreon: mark.adreon@gmail.com


***Birth of
the ADA
by Frank


Access denied! rights stripped! ripped off!
outraged! dreams shattered! righteous wrath!

Shackled! cast aside! special treatment!
smothered! bitter pill! lynch mob math!

No ramps! no trial! no rights! no Braille! no
doubt no clout! legal rape!

hell fire! hurt bad! endured forever, fuse
ignited! now fire inside, verdant state!


Rallied round, ground swell, byte it off, out
in front!  fears ironed out! must not fail!

Not diverted! not divided! not denied!
determined, directed pressure will prevail!

Nineteen ninety pulled it off, glorious new
world! give us wings! everybody wins, sweet victory!

Revered prize, red rockets ablaze! blue
bunting, awesome all American alabaster!

A! D! A!





***Let the Buyer Beware
by Carl Jarvis


P.T. Barnum said,
"There’s a sucker born every minute." And then he set out to prove


It’s true that there
are users and scammers swimming like sharks in the pool. But they are very
small, both in numbers as well as in social responsibilities. We have become
accustomed to being "entertained" by our mass media, with the wicked
and evil happenings, as if they were what we all are about. Tragedy and
violence, according to those experts who keep score, appear to sell more
product than do the average activities and kindnesses that go on daily. This is
why diversity and history are both so important if we are going to make sense out
of today’s events and protect the gains and advance forward in our struggle as
blind people to become equal members of society.


Diversity: In the
sense that we need to be open and involved in conversations of all sorts,
weighing and considering the information that makes sense to us, and which
meets the needs of our fellow blind, as well as our own needs.


History: Because we
need to know where we have been and what has worked and what has not worked.
Knowing our history and how it fits into the larger history of our nation
should give us guidance and hope as we plan our future. 


We can no longer
afford the luxury of saying, "I’m not political."  We all are political, whether we like it or
not. It’s part of life. And if we plan to live life, we are all a part of the
body politic, we are teachers. All blind people are teachers. 


Again, regardless of
whether or not we want to be, our very existence is observed and impacts how
others believe they understand blindness.


It’s difficult to
understand that a position of no action is actually an action. By not speaking
up when confronted with discrimination, we are giving silent support. As blind
people, far too often we shrink back in fear of drawing unwanted attention to


First, we need to
identify and understand the basic issues. We need to become aware of all sides
of the issue. We need discussion among our trusted friends, understanding their
views. And finally, once we have arrived at a position, we must answer the call
to action. In other words, we become political beings.


I point out this
rather obvious thought because too often we shrink back from current events,
fearing that if we speak out we could jeopardize our favored status. But this
current favored status is the result of hard struggles by the blind. From the
street beggars, to the alms houses, to the sweatshops, to the organized blind,
we have fought our way to our present place. 


Still, we are just
on the edge of society. If we are to become part of society, then we must take
the plunge and become active citizens.


It is no accident
that in my 55 years as a blind man, we have moved from being seen as patients
being treated, to being clients being served, to being participants taking an
active part in planning our future. 


We are on a road
that goes two directions. We can continue becoming active participants, and
move forward, or withdraw and go backward.


Years from now, I
would hope people looking back on today’s events will say, "They rose to
the challenges of the times, and did what was necessary.”


Carl Jarvis: carjar82@gmail.com


***The Story of Charles Abbott
by Peggy Chong

(Reprinted with the kind permission of the


(Biographical Note:
Peggy Chong is known as “the blind history lady,” as her work over the years
has brought about her books and articles about people in history who were blind
and nearly lost until Peggy dug up the articles and stories from relatives and
schools to breathe some life into the lives they lived. Currently, Peggy lives
in Aurora, CO, and is actively working to preserve the history of the blind of


Charles Abbott was
born in Baltimore, Maryland, in December of 1864, to William and Lizzie Abbott.
He was one of the youngest of at least twelve children.  His family can date their roots in Sommerset,
Maryland back to the late 1600’s when his Gr., gr., gr., gr., Grandfather, John
Bounds, moved to Sommerset from Virginia. 


At about the age of 8, Charles went blind from an
undocumented illness.  He was sent to the
School for the Blind in Baltimore, MD, where he learned the skill of piano
tuning and studied music.  It may be that
the illness that blinded him, also took the life of his parents as they both
died near the same time in 1871 when Charles was blinded.  The Abbott children went many separate ways
at that time.


When he was 15, he went to stay with his brother-in-law,
William Taylor, only 17 himself, who was working on a farm as a servant.  Charles was not working there, rather, staying
with William that census year and most likely attending public school during
the winter months.  There is no evidence
that Charles attended a school for the blind. 


In 1890, Charles traveled across the country and took a job
at the Iowa College for the Blind in Vinton Iowa where he taught piano tuning
classes in their Industrial department. 
In 1895, about the time the college stopped focusing on full-time
instruction for blind adults, he left the school and moved to Black Hawk
County, Iowa.


After leaving Vinton, he kept his tuning customers from
outside the school, traveling back there several times a year to build up and maintain
his tuning business. Charles Abbott was soon well-known as the totally blind
man who worked as a musician and a piano tuner in the Webster City, Laporte, Iowa
Falls area.  He was known to be an
enthusiastic, intelligent man who made friends easily wherever he


Mr. Abbott built his own house in Iowa Falls, just north of
the, then, Ellsworth College, no longer at that location.  It was a small two-story home that served his
needs as a bachelor and as a business location to house pianos in need of much
work.  By the spring of 1904, he owned it
free and clear. 


As a piano tuner, he would travel with his heavy wooden
tuning tool case by railroad, from town to town, by himself.  Other than asking for directions of
passers-by from time to time, he walked the streets without assistance, to earn
his living.  When he had some extra
money, he would place an ad in a local paper, but many times, just leave a
hand-written flyer on a board at a local post office, as was the custom of
traveling salesmen at that time.   To
help him organize his appointments, he would have those looking to have their
piano tuned leave a message with a shop owner or at the post office where he
had an agreement in the town.  Charles
would check in when he got to town with his local contact.  Then he would walk to the customers’ homes or
business.  He would either tune the piano
that day or make an appointment to do so while in town, or on his next visit if
extensive work was needed.


When Charles traveled to a town where he had arranged an
appointment to tune a piano, if he got to the community early, he would drum up
other business for himself, by going door-to-door, networking with those he
knew in town and just asking around. 
Sometimes, this might result in a concert at a local church or meeting
hall, to earn a few extra dollars.  Often
he stayed for several days on a canvasing trip in a local hotel or boarding


His memory was very good. 
He could remember the street layout in many communities as well as the
locations of his clients, where they lived and some about their lives.  He enjoyed conversing with folks in his
high-pitched voice, at the local businesses gathering tidbits of news to open
conversations with strangers in town. 


Abbott taught private classes in piano and violin.  Mostly, his music students were in the
community that he was living in at the time. 
His classes were advertised and announced in local papers.  At times, this was the majority of his


In late December of 1903, Charles went down to the train
depot in Webster City, where he was working at the time, to board the midnight
train to his home in Iowa Falls.  A trip
that he had done many times by himself. 
He purchased his ticket and waited for the train.  At midnight, the Illinois Central train
pulled in and Mr. Abbott started to board the train.  A new conductor stopped him and asked if he
was blind and was there any sighted person traveling with him to take care of


Charles responded that, no there was no one traveling with
him, but that was not a problem.  He was
quite able to travel by himself and had done so hundreds of times on the trains
and in many towns in Iowa for many years. 


The conductor said that it did not matter.  There was a rule on the Illinois Central
Railroad that a blind person could not travel alone and that he could not let
Mr. Abbott on the train. 


No matter what Charles said that night, he was unable to
convince the conductor to let him on the train. 
There was no one at the depot that night who new Charles who could help
him or another passenger that he knew who would vouch for him.  So, Charles went back to his hotel for the


The next morning, he told many of his friends in Webster
City what had occurred the night before and how he needed to get to Iowa Falls
to celebrate Christmas with his family. 
A friend of his said that he would help, but he could not take the time
to ride all the way to Iowa Falls and back because of the holiday.  So, the two men set out to the train depot to
catch the noon train.  His friend
pretended to be in charge of Charles. 
Charles bought their tickets. 
They boarded the train, and just before the train pulled out of the
station, his sighted friend jumped off the train.  Charles proceeded to Iowa Falls alone and
without incident and was able to get home and celebrate the holidays with


But Charles could not let this matter drop.  Immediately, he telegraphed the Illinois
Central Railroad office and asked if there was such a rule about blind persons
being unable to travel without a sighted person.  He received a telegraph from the railroad,
saying that, yes, there was such a rule in place.  The rule was over a year old and that the
railroad had every intention of enforcing the rule.  The home office wholly supported their
conductor in refusing to allow Mr. Abbott to ride, unattended.


Such an unknown and unwanted rule regarding the blind would
cause Charles Abbott and other blind persons who frequently traveled alone on
the trains of Iowa, a great hardship.  As
an independent piano tuner, Charles could not afford to pay the way of a
sighted person to travel with him, nor all the other costs such as lodging and
food in requiring a person to travel on the trains. 


Charles had been traveling across the state and even the
country by train for many years, most of his trips by himself.  He had never had an accident or fallen on a
train.  To ban him from riding, just
because he was blind was wrong. 


Charles hired an attorney, D. C. Chase, of Webster City to
file a lawsuit in district court, against the railroad.   In July of that same year, the lawsuit was
settled.  Mr. Abbott was given $100 to
cover his expenses of having to bring a sighted person along on his travels
with the Illinois railroad before the court decision.  He also got a pass that allowed him to ride
the Illinois Central Railroad at no cost, but most of all, Mr. Abbott was able
to force the Illinois Central Railroad to drop that unfair rule requiring blind
persons to be accompanied by a sighted person when riding their trains.


In the Waterloo newspaper for July 21, 1904, it was reported
that Charles had won his case.  Not only
could he and any other blind person ride the Illinois Central trains without a
sighted person necessary to accompany him, but the article also documented that
he also got to ride the trains for free as part of the payment for the
embarrassment they had caused him, not because he was blind.  He won a substantial monetary settlement as
well.  The amount was not disclosed. 


Money did not make times always good for Charles.  In 1900, he married Esther Bowman, from
Webster City, and the couple had two children, a boy and a girl.  Just after Thanksgiving, of 1904, Charles was
attacked by his wife after an argument over the punishment of the


According to newspaper accounts, Mrs. Abbott’s sister, Mrs.
James Kepler, told Charles, when he got in one Saturday night after work, that
Mrs. Abbott had struck the couple’s 2-year-old with a whip, nine times.  Mr. and Mrs. Abbott argued over the
punishment.  Charles said it was much too
harsh.  Mrs. Abbott hit and scratched him
on his face severely.  She even
physically attacked her own sister several times.  Mrs. Abbott pulled a gun on the family.  Charles and his sister-in-law barricaded
themselves in the bedroom.  Mrs. Abbott
was trying to break down the door by using an ax and a hatchet.  By the time the police had arrived and broke
up the fracas, neighbors could hear the whole event.  No one went to jail. 


Charles left the home and went to live in the Cooper House
Hotel in town, that night and for weeks to come.  The next day, when his friends saw his
scratched-up face, they asked him what had happened.  When telling his story of how his wife was a
very angry woman and very abusive to him and his children, friends took his
side.  Charles said that he never struck
back as he was not the kind of man that would hit a woman.  He also did not believe in divorce. 


A few weeks later, Charles tried to file a bill for a
separation from his wife and to gain custody of his two children.  He also wanted to keep the money from the
financial settlement from the lawsuit with the Illinois Railroad for himself.  The petition claimed that his wife was cruel
and inhumane.  But the courts would not
allow the separation under those circumstances, leaving his wife with no
money.  Charles had to file for divorce.   As this could cause him to lose custody of
his children and his savings, the couple stayed married, but rarely lived


At the end of 1906, Charles had turned inventor.  Not only did he teach music, tune pianos and
perform music at many functions, but he, as many of his neighbors did, raised
chickens.  Charles needed a non-visual
way to regulate the heat in the pens so that his flock would continue to grow
and thrive.  He designed a heater
regulator that had a bell that sounded when the temperature was falling below
the desired temperature or went too high for the chickens.  When the temperature changed, it would break
a circuit, causing the bell to ring and sound the alarm.   He filed letters and papers for a patent in


Charles Abbott died in January of 1924.  His obituary appeared in many Iowa papers for
weeks after his death.


Peggy Chong: https://theblindhistorylady.com/



***History Quiz
by Carl Jarvis



What do the following organizations have in common?

Washington Council of the Blind (WCB)

Patron Advisory Council for the Washington Talking Book and
Braille Library (WTBBL)

Governor’s Committee on Disability Issues on Employment (GCDE)
State Rehabilitation Council (SRC)

Accessible Communities Advisory Committee (ACAC)

Disabilities Awareness Starts Here (DASH)

Jefferson County Council of the Blind (JCCB)

Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)





These organizations
are among those for which Sue Ammeter volunteered her time and expertise. 
And then there were the myriad of committees and boards that were necessary in
keeping the work going.  And of course, in addition, Sue worked full time
during most of the 50 years she was involved in community service.


around 1969-70, I was taking training in the Business Enterprises Program (BEP)
in the training stand at 3411 South Alaska Street.  We’d been putting in a
great amount of time attempting to breathe life into the Washington State
Association of the Blind (WSAB.) Ken Hopkins had been appointed director of the
new Idaho Commission for the Blind, and he and Mary would drive from Boise to
Seattle to help organize.  Berl Colley and Bob Sellers traveled back and
forth from Olympia, and Sue Anderson, a college student at the University of
Washington, along with me, formed the core group.  So when Sue Anderson
began dating this young outspoken (opinionated) fellow, we worried. 
Already it was plain to see that Sue had leadership qualities.  But here
was this man in her life, and we were concerned that he would not want Sue to
continue being so deeply involved in the Blind Organization.


Well, we
called that one wrong! They say that behind every great man there is an even
greater woman. That works the other way, too.  John Ammeter became a
mainstay in the state organization, as a sighted partner at first, and then as
time rolled along he became a strong force in his own right.  John and Sue
became a team. 


We who
have been fortunate enough to have such partnerships know how much better two
heads are than one. I know everyone knows this, but I just didn’t want John’s
contribution to be overlooked.


our 1990 merger, President Sue Ammeter appointed Jim Eccles to head a committee
with the task of developing a new, much needed committee.




Can you
name the committee and the person who first chaired it?



The name
of the new committee was the Crisis Committee.  This new committee
would provide grants to assist blind people in our state. The board allocated
$5,000 to fund this new program. Each chapter would have a representative on
the Crisis Committee.


Taylor was appointed chair by President Sue Ammeter. After getting established,
the program gave out four grants by the November 1990 convention.


Who was the last president of the United Blind of Washington State (UBWS), and,
who was the first president of the Washington Council of the Blind (WCB),
following the merger of those two organizations in 1990?


Answer: If
you said, "Sue Ammeter" then you are absolutely correct.

It was
primarily through Sue’s diligent efforts that UBWS and WCB came to the table to
begin talk of a merger.

Sue’s Celebration of Life on April 29, 2018, our History Committee suggested we
take time to talk about the contributions of one person, Sue Ammeter,
nationally and across our state.  Also, what were the influences she made
in our personal lives?


And now
here we are, two years later. A bit of time has passed, but not so much as to
cause us to forget.  Just enough time for us to reflect upon how our own
lives have changed because of our good fortune to have walked together.


Carl Jarvis, History Quiz Master: carjar82@gmail.com






by Frank Cuta


I am excited that after nine years of
depending on the Russians, we are finally again launching spacecraft from
American soil.  However, as great as the
live video coverage is, it has been very difficult for me to find satisfactory
descriptions of what is going on. After putting a little extra effort into it,
here is what I have learned.


The Falcon 9 rocket is slim and sleek. Where
the old Apollo Saturn V was a massive space truck 360 feet high and 33 feet in
diameter, the Dragon Falcon is a white speedster 230 feet tall, just 12 feet in


The Saturn slowly lifted off of the launch
pad, but the Falcon virtually blasts off, pulling the crew into their seats
with over 4G of force. The nine engines in the Falcon rocket’s first booster
stage get the Dragon payload out of the atmosphere.


After 2.5 minutes, it is going at 2,000 mph
and three things happen: The main engines cut off, the first stage drops off,
and the rocket engine on the second stage ignites. The first stage then uses
its remaining power to return into the atmosphere where it independently
descends and lands aboard a drone ship that is waiting 350 miles off the


The single engine in the second booster stage
carries the Dragon capsule and crew the rest of the way into space and, 10
minutes after liftoff at a speed of 17,000 mph, this second stage is discarded
and the capsule is released into low Earth orbit. 


At about 12 minutes into the flight, the nose
cone opens, exposing a docking port, guidance and navigational instrumentation,
and the four forward bulkhead engines. It is these thrusters that are then
ignited periodically in order to enable the vehicle to chase the international
space station (ISS). Depending on the respective positions and velocities of
the Dragon and the ISS, it will take the Dragon capsule two or three orbits
over the next 17 to 24 hours to catch up with the space station. 


The Dragon 2 vehicle is 27 feet long and has
two parts. The lower cylindrical trunk service module holds cargo on the inside
and has aerodynamic fins on the outside. The front side is black and covered
with solar panels, and the back side is covered with a white heat


The crew cabin is a white conical capsule
with black trim that sits on the top of the trunk. It has four oval windows
installed around its perimeter. The nose cone on the end hinges open to expose
the docking port. Just below it is the parachute hatch, and below that is the
black crew entry hatch, which is centered between two of the window ports. This
hatch also has another window mounted in it. 


There are no less than 30 rocket engines
mounted in various places on the Dragon, and four legs for emergency landings. Painted
on its side is an American flag and the word "Dragon," surrounded by
a line drawing of a winged serpent. There is blue lettering that spells out


Several hours before launch, the crew takes
an elevator up 255 feet to the crew access arm. Just before they step onto the
arm, they have at their disposal a standard land line telephone that is traditionally
there for astronauts to make any last-minute goodbyes. The crew enters the
Dragon capsule through the side hatch. Inside, they find an efficient modern
interior that lacks all of the dials and knobs of past spacecraft. There are
four custom contoured seats side by side. They face an uncluttered control
panel that is dominated by three large touch-sensitive screens.


Each of the crew wears a striking
custom-fitted, white spacesuit accented with shiny black accents, silver grey
gloves, and elbow pads. It is tailored to strongly suggest a two-piece uniform.
There is a reverse American flag on the right sleeve in the military style, and
a NASA patch on the left sleeve.  Below
this patch is the word "SpaceX.” Red lettering on the chest spells out


Unlike the baggy U.S. space ware of the past,
the design is intended to be inspiring. The resemblance to Star Wars is not
accidental. The helmet is much cooler than the old shuttle headpiece. It is a
real helmet with a faceplate that swings up. 
Functionally, the suit is a mechanical and electronic extension of the
Dragon capsule. But it is just a pressure suit and is not enough protection for


Unlike all previous U.S. space launches, the
crew of Dragon boards before the fuel is loaded. At 2.5 hours before liftoff,
they get seated. After another 1.5 hours, the hatch is closed and they


The explosive rocket fuel is not loaded until
the last 35 minutes.  Theoretically, this
is much safer and, very quickly after the tanks are topped off, the rocket
blasts off.


After its approximately 20-hour journey, the
Dragon catches the ISS and parks exactly 60 feet from the docking hatch. Six
arms then extend from the nose port of Dragon, supporting a soft-capture ring
assembly. This is soon followed by 12 hard-capture hooks. 


After a 2-hour re-pressurization process, the
crew passes through three hatch doors and enters the ISS.


To return to Earth, the Dragon undocks and
proceeds to re-enter the atmosphere. Its protective nose cover rotates back
into place, and it discards the cylindrical trunk assembly, which exposes its
heat shield. 


With this as the new protective nose of the
vehicle, the friction with the atmosphere and a sub-orbital burn soon reduces
the speed from 17,000 mph to less than 700 mph. Its four chutes open and
further slow it down before it splashes into the ocean.  The capsule is removed from the water with a
net before the hatch is opened, and the crew finally get a breath of fresh air.


Frank Cuta: frank@cuta.net


***Coffee Magic at
a Price

by Reginald George


Let’s start with this little-known fact:
Seattle is the official coffee capitol of the universe. Everett and Vancouver
are right behind.


This is my article, and I say it’s true, so
you should just believe whatever I write. In case you doubt, Wikipedia says
“Seattle is regarded as a world center for coffee roasting and coffee
supply-chain management. People in Seattle consume more coffee than in any
other American city, one study stated.”


So how far are you willing to go for a good
cup of Joe that is easy to make and pour? For myself, I’m finding it’s pretty
far. The $15 coffeemakers out there are not cutting it anymore for my exacting
requirements. My Keurig is eight years old and, besides, it’s sadly stuck
waiting for me at my office. I needed something at home to help me stay alert
while working. 


I had spent about six months obsessing over
finding just the right coffeemaker, when one day my co-editor, Heather, walked
into a Bed Bath and Beyond in Walla Walla and walked out with what must be one
of the most stand-alone, accessible, blind-friendly units available. It’s not
perfect, but it’s close. 


I have always been a fan of one device to
rule them all. My iPhone reads me my books, takes me on walks, wakes me up and
puts me to sleep, and if I could get it to make coffee, I would. 


I was originally fascinated by what are
called grind and brew coffeemakers. What I really wanted was a machine that
would sing sweetly to me in the morning; accept whole beans, ground coffee and
K-cups of any brand; give me hot water on demand for a cup of soup, tea, mulled
wine, or cider; make a pot or cup of the size I specify; and do it all
automatically. I don’t ask for much, do I? 


The Keurig K-Duo Plus is an incredibly
well-designed, compact machine for around $220 before discounts, which, with
the exception of singing and grinding whole beans, checks all those boxes for
me. I learned that most grind and brew coffeemakers need to be cleaned every
day, and tend to break down. It’s better to find a good, dedicated grinder, so
I gave up on that part of the dream for now. 


There is a version of this coffeemaker called
the Keurig K-Duo Essential at Walmart for around $100, but it lacks many of the
best features. More on that later. 


The Keurig K-Duo Plus comes with a removable
60-oz. reservoir, or tank, that is supposed to make a 12-cup coffeepot. If you
believe, as they do, that a cup holds five ounces, you might even buy this
ridiculous claim. The big, round, insulated, stainless-steel pot that comes
with the machine is easy to pour from, and it keeps the coffee hot for up to
two hours without burning it. This replaces the typical heating plate
underneath your coffee, which tends to make it too hot and causes bitterness
over time. Life can be bitter enough without bad coffee. 


The water reservoir has the unique ability to
be rotated on a platform to either side of the machine or behind it. This lets
you adapt the Duo Plus to your environment, and it should fit nicely under most


The K-Duo Plus takes standard paper filters,
and comes with a reusable gold filter and a long, disposable charcoal filter
that slips into the tank to keep the water tasting sweet and pure. This also
keeps minerals out of the machine and will extend its life, so it’s a good idea
to change this every three months or so. 


The main controls are individual push-buttons
that circle around the brew button in the center with a large raised letter K
on it. 


Starting at the bottom of the dial between
five and seven o’clock, you have two buttons that specify either carafe or cup.
Then, moving clockwise around the dial are the buttons for choosing your sizes,
which are 6, 8, 10 and 12 oz. or cups, depending on if you are making one cup
with a pod, or brewing a pot of coffee. 


The differences with the less-expensive
Walmart version include:

three sizes: 8, 10 and 12.


can’t move the tank, as it’s in a fixed position behind the machine.

button for a stronger brew.

It comes
with a glass carafe that must be heated on the plate underneath. 


Still, if this meets your needs, it’s well
worth the price. 


There is much more I could say about these
models. One downside is that there is no beep or signal built in, so singing is
out of the question. However, if you are listening, you can hear when the
machine turns on and when the coffee has finished brewing. A beep would have
been helpful to know if it’s low on water or if some error has occurred. But as
long as you follow the steps in order, you will have excellent results. 


My old Keurig stayed on all the time to keep
the water hot, so coffee was ready very quickly. To save energy, this machine
automatically powers down after five minutes, so it takes a little longer to
boil the water, but you don’t have to wait to start the process. You can put in
your pod, hit the power, choose your size, press the strong button if desired,
then press brew and walk away. In a few minutes, you come back to a perfect cup
or pot of coffee. You can also operate the machine with no pod and have just
straight hot water. 


When you first plug it in, you are asked to
set the time and, of course, this isn’t very accessible. It can be done if you
know you are starting at midnight, and count the taps to the correct time. The
timer remembers the last time it was set, and this makes it difficult to set
without sight, but this feature was not important to me.


If anyone has any thoughts on the best
grinder to go with this, or anything coffee-related, you can write to me or the
Newsline, and we can all enjoy your comments together, over the hot beverage of
our choice, in the next issue.


Follow this link to experience a
high-fidelity stereo demonstration of this best in class Keurig coffeemaker:



Reginald George: reggeorge@gmail.com




Blind Abilities
Reginald George


Today, we feature
the Blind Abilities Blog, or is it a podcast or an app, or is it interviews
with influencers in the world of blindness? I’m confused! Actually, it’s all of
these, and so much more. There are more than 620 podcasts, a newsletter, and
lots of great content to inspire advocates and activists of all ages to
"be the change they wish to see in the world." 

Blind Abilities is
really Jeff Thompson of Minnesota, but he keeps a pretty low profile. His blog
and podcasts are peppered with famous and not-so-famous people from around the
world who have a lot to say. He speaks to everyone who is trying to find their
way in this life of visual impairment, quietly sending the message: do
everything! You can achieve all your dreams from the simple to the fantastic. 


Jeff is blind
himself, and he recorded a community story worth hearing for the Be My Eyes app
in which he discusses how and why he started Blind Abilities. Jeff originally
introduced Be My Eyes to the United States on his podcast, and it has now grown
to over three million volunteers. You can listen to it here:


The following
excerpt comes from the Blind Abilities “About” page, and speaks to their
mission much more eloquently than I can:


“When we share what
we see through each other’s eyes, we can then bridge the gap between the
limited expectations and the realities of Blind Abilities.


“The free Blind
Abilities app is the quickest way to reach your high school students,
college-bound students, and those seeking information about blindness.


“All of our podcasts
and blogs are created by fellow blind/visually-impaired people who have or are
breaking down the obstacles and sharing their experiences.


“From accessing the
voice-over features on the iPhone or iPad to cleaning a bathroom with
alternative techniques, Blind Abilities draws from the community of members who
not only share their experiences, but listen and offer advice when needed.


“We work with
developers of software, apps, and devices (including Android and Alexa) on
getting accessibility right. We interview designers and blindness advocates to
share their developments and initiatives. Blind Abilities’ focus is aimed at
building skills and confidence, transitioning to college and the workplace, and
is here for the individual experiencing vision loss, and for the role models
sharing their stories. Counselors and educators can share and learn from the
library of podcasts and blogs on the Blind Abilities app and on the
BlindAbilities.com website.


“Whether you use the
app yourself or have clients that could enhance their opportunities, the Blind
Abilities team is working for you.”


Jeff has built
something special from the ground up. He continues to infuse it with fresh
content, and asks for nothing in return. It certainly qualifies as a
"Noteworthy Blog."




***Podtastic Casts
"How Being Blind Made Houston’s Christine Ha
Better Cook"
Reginald George


The title of this
article comes directly from an episode of a podcast produced by Houston Public
Media called Houston Matters. The show airs daily for an hour on many Texas
public radio stations, and covers a wide variety of topics of local and
national interest. This particular segment is interesting to me because it is
an interview from last year with Christine Ha, legally blind winner of Master
Chef’s 3rd season in 2012. Last year
, she opened a
restaurant in Houston
, serving modern Vietnamese fare,
The Blind Goat.


Without giving too
much away
, I can say that her family came over as Vietnamese refugees,
and she was born in the year of the goat.


Christine lost her
mom to lung cancer when she was 14, but she credits her mom’s cooking, her own
strong memory, and her exceptional pal
ate, as a huge part of what made her a
good cook. 


According to an
article in
The Houston Chronicle,
"Ha gradually lost her vision between 1999 and 2007
due to an autoimmune disease called Neuromyelitis optica."


Christine was
teaching herself to cook in her 20
s, while she was
losing her sight. Every time she lost more vision, she had to re
how to use her tools and create new techniques so she could continue to become
a better chef. In this short, 10
minute segment, she tells the story
of how she lost her sight and how she learned to find her way around the
kitchen. Christine states that she is a very determined person. I can only
imagine. She would have to be. The interviewer is quick and thorough, and asks
insightful questions, not fluff questions. Even the ones that some might find
to be a little questionable, Christine has great answers for. It will be worth
your time to visit the following link from your phone or computer, and take a
listen to this interview with someone who has chosen to experience everything,
do it without fear, and embrace her mistakes.


Listen using the
accessible player at the following link:


For more background
on Christine Ha
, you can read The
article at the following link:


Reginald George: reggeorge@gmail.com




***Bits and Pieces
Compiled by Reginald George


PayPal Giving Fund

Did you know that
you can donate to WCB anytime directly from your PayPal account?  On the Summary page in your account, you’ll
find a button “Set your favorite charity” which allows you to search for a
charity so you can “give to a cause you love with PayPal Giving Fund.”  Search for Washington Council of the Blind
and click the button to set it as your favorite charity.  You can then donate now, or return to account
summary.  When you check out with PayPal
in the future, you can also donate to WCB.


All donations made
go to PayPal Giving Fund, which is a 501(c)(3) charity, who then distributes
the funds once a month to the directed charities.  PayPal covers all the fees.  You have the option to share your name and
email with the charity you selected or remain anonymous.


This is how to
request the audio version of the voter’s guide on a thumb drive that is
playable on digital talking book players:



Many WCB chapters
are using this little public address system to assist their members with
hearing challenges. It is relatively inexpensive, light, rechargeable, and
requires no wired connections.   We use ours at all chapter meetings
and picnics. 


Portable PA System with Dual Channel Wireless Microphones (two handheld),
Lithium Rechargeable Battery, Bluetooth Streaming Music From your Cell Phones,




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
TheWCBNewsline@gmail.com and put “Bits and Pieces” in the subject





***Department of Services for the Blind
by Michael MacKillop


Since March, Washington State Department of Services for the Blind staff
have been providing services remotely. DSB has been busy providing quality
services in an alternate manner.


Youth Services is replacing our usual in-person summer programs with a
multi-week, virtual, work-readiness and career-exploration program consisting
of instruction in five career-related topics and offered two hours per day.
Youth can also enroll in our weekly STEM program where students will complete
STEM projects at home and – in a live, interactive, Zoom call once a week –
discuss the past week’s activity and interact with new friends from all over
the state. The array of panelists the Youth Services team has gathered to speak
to students on a range of professional careers from a blindness perspective is
so exciting to me. If you were part of connecting us to these panelists, or
will be one yourself, thank you!


The Orientation and Training Center and DSB field staff have also
developed new techniques, using remote technologies, to continue to help
participants develop the mobility, independent living, and technology skills
needed to succeed in the changing workplace.


Even in the midst of COVID-19, there is some good news: DSB has been
able to release all cases off the Order of Selection wait-list, and has opened
all categories for immediate vocational rehabilitation services for all
individuals who apply for and are eligible. We are excited that, for the first
time since October 2018, we are able to serve all who are eligible without


However, although we are excited to open up all categories of the
wait-list at this time, we are cautious, as well. Order of Selection will
continue to remain in place as a tool, as a way to manage future fiscal
challenges. The post-COVID-19 economy will be bumpy, and we may need to
reinstate a wait-list and delayed services.


That bumpy, post-COVID-19 economy is already presenting itself. The
state is implementing drastic measures to mitigate the economic impact during
the month of July. Due to the downturn in revenue, Gov. Jay Inslee announced
that state employees will be furloughed one day per week for the month of July,
and one day a month until year-end.


This is in addition to the freeze on hiring, equipment purchases, and
personal-service contracts announced in May. At that time, Gov. Inslee also
asked all Washington state cabinet agencies to participate in a budget exercise
to identify areas of potential cost savings to address the budget shortfall
created by the COVID-19 pandemic.


Even with all of these challenges, DSB will strive to continue to
provide services with minimum changes to our usual service schedule.


While we continue to tackle current challenges, the state of Washington
and DSB are looking to the future. Businesses are returning in a measured and
data-driven manner, and so will state agencies.


DSB will follow the Governor’s Safe Start
reopening guidance and adhere to the following guiding principles as we reopen:

·      Emphasis on safety
of employees, participants and, more broadly, customers and stakeholders of the

·      Relying on the
best public health and safety practices, and knowing that the understanding of
those practices may change over time.

·      Minimizing risk,
maximizing spatial distancing, and prioritizing those in-person services and
tasks that can’t be accomplished in a remote manner. For many of us, remote
work will continue to be a big aspect of our work.

·      Considering the
unique aspects and prevention strategies in providing adaptive skills of


We do not yet have a specific go-live date for returning to in-office
and in-person services. But, as mentioned earlier, “No in-person services”
doesn’t mean “no services” and we will continue to provide effective services


Finally, the weeks since the death of George Floyd, and the protests in
response, have sparked a national movement highlighting the necessity of
upending targeted systemic racism toward Black Americans and people of color.


DSB supports the meaning and need for action behind the Black Lives
Matter movement. As an organization committed to issues of equity in the
context of disability, DSB strongly aligns with the sentiments and the call to
action to change the course of discrimination in all its forms. DSB stands with
tenets of this movement and condemns racist practices and policies in our
workplace and workforce.


This truly is an incredible time in our state and world. We knew that we
would have challenges ahead when the world shut down in March. DSB has
weathered challenges before, and we will again. We will use all of our skills
and creativity to continue to meet the future need for job readiness for
individuals with visual disabilities to be able to meet the needs of the
post-COVID economy.


Michael MacKillop,
Acting Executive Director:


***Washington Talking Book & Braille Library
by Danielle Miller


On Thursday, June 4,
Gov. Jay Inslee approved 
a waiver for the Washington Talking Book &
Braille Library (WTBBL) to begin providing limited services. We are able to
send out books and equipment and are thrilled to be back serving our patrons
after being gone since March 25. We can receive mail, so books and equipment
can be returned and circulation can proceed normally. We are looking forward to
having the rest of our staff return and getting back up to full operations as
King County moves into Phases 2 and 3, but we do not have specific dates. You
can watch our website, social media, and voicemail for updates.


During the shutdown,
we have been checking and responding to voicemail messages, email messages,
supporting BARD and BARD users, as well as assisting more people to sign up for
BARD. Staff have been working from home on projects supporting the WTBBL
mission, continuing to edit local audio and Braille books in production,
uploading books to BARD, and also doing professional development training.


Thank you to
everyone who helped advocate to get us back to WTBBL and circulating books.
Your support is so valuable, and your voice makes a difference. We know what a
vital service WTBBL provides and are grateful to be able to serve you.

Danielle H. Miller (she/her), Director &
Regional Librarian:










***Chicago: The Greatest Convention
That No One Attended
Frank Cuta


spent the first week in July attending the 2020 national convention of the
American Council of the Blind (ACB), but I never left the comfort of my living
room. We were supposed to be in a hotel in Shamburg, IL, but COVID-19 hit just
as arrangements for the in-person convention were being finalized. With just
four months’ notice, our leadership miraculously shifted gears and took the
convention into the Cloud. Over 1,500 members and friends connected online or
dialed in to actively participate in this first virtual ACB convention.


course, nothing can replace an honest-to-god, face-to-face convention, but
there are definitely advantages to virtual meetings. For example, no lines, no
pileups at the elevator, no hotel bill, and no need to jump out of bed and get
dressed for an 8:30a.m. session.


in the Cloud enabled us to open up convention attendance to lots of members and
prospective members who otherwise would not have attended. I heard many
attendees report that, for this reason, this was their first convention. Many
others commented that health issues would have prevented them from going to


is not surprising that most of the regular general session presentations
translated easily to this virtual format. However, it was interesting that even
more active activities such as the fundraising walk, the live auction, the
fitness sessions, the showcase of talent, and the question-and-answer sessions
also translated smoothly. You might anticipate that a conference-call meeting
would be less exciting than an in-person meeting, but ACB cheerleaders Dan
Spoon and Cindy Hollis kept us on our toes all week long.


convention seemed to be more conversational and interactive. I particularly appreciated
the community calls each evening where we were able to share our favorite
experiences with one another.  


as with our in-person conventions, there were as many as five program
presentations going on at any given moment. At a physical convention, it is
very difficult to jump around from one event to another, but at this virtual
one it was just a matter of electronic channel hopping.


enjoyed the presentations on smart-home technology, the deaf/blind Randolph
Sheppard vendors, amateur radio, cutting the cord to your TV, and accessible


our in-person conventions, the tours are always a big draw for attendees. But a
physical tour involves a serious time commitment, and I can usually only
justify one a year. This year, there were a total of 17 virtual tours offered.
Because they were electronically on demand, I was able to listen to all of
them. I especially enjoyed the Helen Keller, the Wright
Brothers, Mount Rushmore, and the
Holocaust tours.


scholarship award winner presentations are always impressive, and Past
President Denise Colley co-chairs this program. Early in the week, Meka White
was awarded the Ned E. Freeman Award for excellence in writing, and then at the
banquet, we were all proud when Reg George and Heather Meares were presented
with the Hollis Liggett Braille Free Press Award for producing the best
newsletter in the country.


virtual convention was a rip-roaring success, and it could not have happened
without the technical advances that have been made in just the past few years.
Kudos to major technical assistance provided by WCB members Jeff Bishop, Deb
Lewis, Rick Lewis, Meka White, Viola Bentson, and Cindy Hollis.


out all of the great audio from this year’s convention available from the
following link:


year we are planning to be in Phoenix for a regular face-to-face convention.
However, we learned something very valuable this year: A virtual component is
not only possible, it is invaluable. And I expect that from now on it will
continue to be an important part of our annual conference and convention.


Frank Cuta: frank@cuta.net


***Path to
the Future: Reflections on a Virtual Convention

by Julie Brannon


As I listened to the
infamous American Council of the Blind board meeting via ACB Radio Mainstream
in March when the decision was made to hold a virtual convention, I had mixed
feelings as many did. We were disappointed because we had to cancel our plans
to travel to Illinois after having to miss last year’s convention, but we also
felt some relief from our concerns for our potential safety due to the virus
and being in large crowds. 


As I got off the
emotional roller coaster, my rational mind took over with thoughts such as: how
on earth can they do that? And, there’s no way the many typical convention
events can be presented in a virtual framework.


None of these
concerns and doubts came to fruition, as the capable, skilled, talented and
hardworking people behind the scenes did magic.


And it came to me,
with member virtual convention costs being so minimal, many more people would
have the opportunity to experience an ACB convention than may otherwise not
have been able to do so.


We found ourselves
with one Zoom session open on a computer, and two Alexa ACB radio streams
playing at the same time because there was so much to take part in, and we
didn’t want to miss anything.


For example, one
station would be playing tours, another station carried exhibits, and on the
computer, we would be using the Zoom software to participate in a presentation.
What an answer to the often-frustrating inability at the in-person convention
to get to everything when you find three or four events you’d like to attend
occurring simultaneously.


It’s difficult to
say what my favorite sessions were from the 108 options available. The
transportation sessions, Microsoft and Braille presentations, and the excellent
legislative boot camp full of advocacy how-to’s were all at the top of my list.


The exhibitors’
recorded presentations were exceptional and done so professionally. They were
filled with information and practical applications for their products and/or
services with details as to how to obtain them. 


And I can’t forget
the tours with their audio descriptions. They were outstanding, filled with
riveting details and phenomenal descriptions of all aspects covered. I
particularly enjoyed the tours of Mount Rushmore and the White House.


And I can’t forget
the banquet! The audio describer’s speech by Roy Samuelson was informational,
entertaining, and revealing regarding the skill and artistic genius involved in
the process. But the true exhilaration came for me when Washington Council of
the Blind got placed on the ACB map. Both the Newsline publication and First
Vice President Meka White won BOP awards.


Because of the
ability to interact via Zoom, and listen to so many offerings, I personally
felt more connected at this convention than many others; and what a treat, not
having to spend so much time and concentration to look for room and event
locations as is often the case at in-person conventions.


As has been said
already by many, hurray and congratulations to ACB for pulling off a
never-before-attempted virtual large venue as this year’s 2020 convention.


Julie Brannon: jbrannon0612@gmail.com


***Connecting the Dots
by Cindy Hollis, membership services coordinator,
American Council of the Blind


(Editor’s Note: Reprinted
from ACB.org with permission of the author.)


I can remember as a
little girl trying to color pictures that were dot to dot. The premise was to
assist one in drawing the prescribed picture. Of course, I could never see the
dots well enough to color the picture to look like anything recognizable, no
less what it was supposed to be. But this was during a time in my life when we
lived in a neighborhood of young families. Kids played together, schooled
together, and grew up together. When a family was on vacation, others watched
their home. When kids were playing outside, one of the parents watched through
a window. Birthday parties, sleepovers, sharing meals, and yes, even the
occasional quarrels occurred in that neighborhood. But we were connected by
location, schools and Scouts, age of children, and an unspoken sense of


Now let us talk
about the American Council of the Blind (ACB). Our neighborhood is made up of
68 affiliates spread out all over the country and covering a myriad of interest
areas. Annually, a representation of those affiliates join at the Conference
and Convention, but many aren’t able to travel to those in-person events for
whatever reason. When we are there, however, we feel that sense of connection,
as a picture of ACB is drawn in that week-long moment in time.


And then a pandemic
hit, and our world experienced an upheaval. Suddenly, local groups who normally
met on a regular basis in person could no longer do so. Our annual event was
changed to a virtual one, and many of our members have been confined to their
living quarters – human distancing.


But we are a
resilient bunch. We’re used to finding creative ways to do things, to clear
obstacles on our pathway, to charter new territory. We’re also accustomed to
talking on the phone and using technology. The government says we need to
distance ourselves from one another, and so we abide. Then we create ways to
connect via different avenues by using tools known to us.


In mid-March, two
conference calls were held by ACB for affiliate leaders, exploring ways to stay
connected with our membership. Ten weeks later, those calls have turned into 40
to 50 calls each week, covering a variety of topics, several social in nature.
A weekly schedule is sent out to members and friends of ACB, and there is an
email list where the daily schedule is shared each morning. Over 1,000 people
join one or more of these community events each week, and several people have
come forward to facilitate or host these calls. ACB Radio has supported these
events along the way and has now provided a dedicated community channel for the
expressed purpose of sharing them with even more people. Listen to our
community on the ACB Radio Community channel, www.acbradio.org/community, or
access through your favorite Amazon device by saying, “Open the ACB Radio
Community skill.”


Today, members of
ACB from all over the U.S., and often guests from within and outside of our
country, are becoming active members of a community not connected by streets
and sidewalks, but rather by hearts and passion. The dots on ACB’s proverbial
coloring page are the hearts of our members, the lines are the events we join
in on via Zoom, and the connection takes place each and every time we meet.
Through these community events, regardless of where we each live, we’re
reminded we’re not alone. We truly are a community.


If you have not yet
joined us for one of these calls, we are ready to welcome you. The first step
is to subscribe to the ACB Community Events email list so that you, too, can
receive your morning email with that day’s schedule of events:
http://acblists.org/mailman/listinfo/acb-community-events  Next,
join us!


***WCB Board Meets in the Cloud
by Frank Cuta


On Saturday, May 23,
we all tuned in and turned on to our second totally electronic Washington
Council of the Blind (WCB) board meeting of the year. President Julie Brannon
chaired a very effective online meeting, assisted by Viola Cruz, Jim Turri,
Jeff Bishop and Cindy Hollis, who were operating the Zoom conference controls.


We lost four of our members
this spring. Julie called for a moment of silence for Mildred Johnson, Joanne
Hunter, Lori Allison and Joan Lord. 


Treasurer Lisa
George reported that she has received dues from all affiliates. This quarter,
she paid our insurance and the Morgan Stanley fees. We are operating within
budget for our 2020 expenses. Since Lisa has taken on the bookkeeping, this
former expense has been reduced to zero. At the advice of the Finance
Committee, the board took action to make adjustments in the management of our
considerable investment portfolio.  


Julie has been
requesting written reports from each committee in advance of the meeting. This
has resulted in an expedited board agenda. However, we did hear from a few
committees who wanted to highlight their activities or had questions for the


Denise Colley
reported from the Advocacy Committee that there is a serious concern with the
compromised medical benefits at Kaiser Permanente due to their use of an
inaccessible staff kiosk.  The board
authorized a letter to be written on behalf of WCB to bring attention to this


Lisa reported from
the Finance Committee on the completion of our Give Big fundraiser. This year,
each chapter was encouraged to set up their own Give Big websites and share in
the profits. The board passed a motion to remove the original monetary
threshold restrictions, and to share all profits with each chapter regardless
of how much was raised by each site. We received 48 donations, and we are
already planning how to participate in an even bigger way next year. 


Sheri Richardson
reported from the Government Affairs Committee that it is taking on the serious
problem of the inaccessibility of our state’s mail-in ballot system.


Julie is creating an
ad hoc working group to revive the strategic planning effort that was performed
by our leadership in 2018.  Sheri will
co-lead this effort, and the group will have a total of 10 members. The group
will include officers, board members, and old and new members of WCB to bring
as much diversity as possible to the project.


Julie is matching
presidents of chapters in pairs in an effort to promote connection and mutual
support for one another. 


Jeff Bishop reported
from the Communications Committee that Rick Lewis is updating our WCB list-serve
memberships. Jeff and Deb Lewis are providing advanced Zoom management training
to Viola Cruz and Jim Turri. Our WCB website has recently been updated to reflect
our officers and board member changes. Also, the affiliate list and the
scholarship application have been updated.


We had just $200 in
the budget for our support of all American Council of the Blind (ACB)
convention activities. Several members offered to make personal contributions
to the ACB auction in the name of WCB so that the entire budgeted $200 could be
allocated for door prizes.


Danette Dixon came
to the meeting with a request for the board to approve the chartering of a new special-interest
affiliate, WCB Diabetics.  The charter
officers are Danette Dixon, president; Andy Arvidson, vice president; Jim
Turri, secretary; and Kim Moberg, treasurer. 
They currently have 11 members, and have fulfilled all of the associated
requirements. Their application for affiliation was unanimously approved by the


A motion was also
passed to reallocate $500 from the chapter visits budget line item to this new
affiliate as a startup stipend.


Julie announced that
we have raised the $500 in personal donations required to make Lori Allison an
ACB angel. Cindy Hollis suggested that we make the presentation at next year’s
ACB convention.


Cindy also reported
that the current channels on ACB radio are being reorganized and that, at her
request, a new channel for ACB community has been created to promote membership
and social interactions. This new resource has been an immediate and
overwhelming success.

Frank Cuta: frank@cuta.net


***Results of GiveBIG Washington 2020
by Lisa George


In what we hope will
continue to be an annual tradition, old friends and new supporters of
Washington Council of the Blind (WCB) came together and contributed over $3,000
during the short timeframe for this online fundraiser. We’re ecstatic to report
that WCB had 20 first-time donors. Our heartfelt thanks to all who made
donations, all who shared the links with their family and friends, and the
chapters that joined in raising funds. (See the back page for more details on


When all was said
and done, WCB had 48 donations totaling $3,009.21, which included 44 who
covered the corresponding fees. The net donations received were $2,876.37. The
eight chapter pages generated $1,023.55 as their 50/50 share. The page to make
Lori Allison the newest ACB Angel netted $590.40.  WCB’s share of the chapter pages and
donations directly to the WCB profile page resulted in $1,262.42.

Lots of
give-a-little added up to GiveBIG!


Lisa George, WCB
: treasurerWCB@gmail.com


***Announcing WCB Diabetics:
A New Special-Interest Affiliate

by Danette Dixon


I am so excited to
introduce a new special-interest affiliate, WCB Diabetics. Before I get into
details, I would like to tell you why I am deeply passionate about this new


I have been a Type 2
diabetic since 2000. My diabetes was controlled by a twice-daily pill until
2017, when I became insulin dependent. Just the thought of taking insulin
really scared me. I reached out to a couple of WCB members with diabetes, who
suggested American Council of the Blind Diabetics in Action (ACBDA). At first,
I just listened because I needed support. But at the 2018 ACB national
conference and convention, I became second vice president. Last year, I went to
the national convention as an ACBDA delegate, and currently I am vice


Last November, I
sent an email to the WCB email list-serve, checking to see if there was an
interest in Washington in having a special-interest affiliate concerning diabetes.
To my surprise, there is a huge interest, which is very exciting for me. One of
my passions is to support and educate those with diabetes.


WCB Diabetics (WCBD)
was formed, and has been accepted as Washington Council of the Blind’s newest
special-interest affiliate. We are here to support those who are borderline
Type 1 or Type 2 diabetics, and those who have friends or family members with
diabetes. WCBD has a monthly meeting/call on the second Monday. We are planning
speakers and topics such as nutrition, exercise, fitness, and accessible apps
to count carbs and calories.


If you are
interested, please contact me at


A goal of mine for
WCBD is to eventually be part of ACBDA. As you can tell, I am deeply passionate
about diabetes and what we can do here in Washington.


***Aging and Blindness
by Holly Kaczmarski


We on the Aging and
Blindness Committee (WCB) are revising our brochure, "Living with Fading
Vision," as well as creating a Spanish language version.


This brochure will
be distributed widely throughout the state to agencies, doctor’s offices,
senior centers, assisted-living facilities, state prisons, and other places
where people gather and need information on blindness as people age. All WCB
chapter presidents will receive 25 copies of the brochure to distribute.


We are also updating
our resource list to provide information for people who need to know about, and
have access to, state and federal resources.


We welcome questions
or comments sent to our committee at  


***Remembering Berl
by Carl Jarvis


I learned yesterday morning of the passing of Berl Colley
following a long illness. Among his many activities, Berl was former Washington
Council of the Blind president and longtime active member in the blind
community. I sent the following note to the WCB chat list:


“Berl, my friend, I am sure going to miss you. Time can be
so fickle. When we’re young, we think we have so much time that we too often
waste it.  And if we hang around long
enough, time has a way of turning us old.


“It’s been more than 50 years since you and Bob Sellers
began making the trip from Olympia to Seattle, to play a major role in
organizing the blind students into, if my memory serves, what we named the
Youth Association.  There were some 32
blind students enrolled at the University of Washington, with only a scattering
of blind students in other colleges around the state. You and Bob were
attending the Olympic Vocational Tech, and after we had organized the students,
I think Greyhound should have named a bus after you for all the trips you made.
But it paid off big time. 


“By that July, we all showed up in Hoquiam for the 1971
Washington State Association of the Blind convention, and we ran members in
every position except one. Cecil Phillips was re-elected president. We’ve come
a long way since those distant days, in great part due to your steadfastness.


“The other trouble with time, other than the fact that it
seems so long when looking ahead, but so very, very short when looking back, is
the fact that as time passes, we begin to wear out. And just about the time
we’re smart enough to do all the stuff we weren’t smart enough to do way back
then, we don’t have the energy to do anything about it.


“But just so new members know what a tireless and committed
person you have been over the years, I’ll tell you, Berl, without your energy,
along with Sue Ammeter, this organization would not be what we are today. 


“So while I’m going to miss the heck out of you, I want to
say, thanks for the memories.”


Carl Jarvis: carjar82@gmail.com



compiled by Rhonda Nelson


We extend our heartfelt congratulations to, and celebrate
with, the following WCB members:


·      Shirley Gray, on the wonderful occasion in
June of her 100th birthday, with a family celebration via a “window

·      Carl and Cathy Jarvis, for 25 years of
bringing hope and support to over 3,000 blind and low-vision seniors in five
counties, through Peninsula Rehabilitation Services, which closed June 30.

·      Tim Schneebeck, whose second
great-grandchild, Julie Ann, was born in May.

·      Julie Harlow, on receiving her master’s
degree in health-and-wellness coaching, with a minor in herbal medicine, from
Maryland University of Integrative Health.

·      Andrew Nance, receiving a Bachelor of Science
degree in sociology, with a minor in psychology, from Eastern Oregon

·      Alexann Turemann, accepted into the Eastern
Washington University social work program.

·      Meka White, winner of ACB’s 2020 Ned E.
Freeman Excellence in Writing Award, for her article “Shrimp, Drinks, and the
Bill: A Moment of Accessibility.”

·      To WCB Newsline, your 2020 award winning
publication, recipient of the Hollis Liggett Braille Free Press Award,
presented by American Council of the Blind, for promoting best journalistic
practices and excellence in writing. 


If you or someone you know has something for inclusion in
Hats Off, email TheWCBNewsline@gmail.com  with “Hats Off” in the subject line. Those
items that may not meet the criteria listed below, may still be very
appropriate in your local chapter’s “Around the State” article.


The following are reasons for inclusion in this column:

Birth of a child, grandchild or great-grandchild

Birthdays 75 years and up in 5-year increments
(yearly after age 90)

Marriage or wedding anniversary 25 years and
more in 5-year increments

Graduation from high school, college or
vocational program

New job, career promotion, or retirement

Partnering with a dog guide

Appointment to a city, county, statewide, or
national board or commission

Exceptional recognition or award




Valley Council of the

by Lisa




YVCB is trying to
stay connected to our members with our conference-call business meetings and
our “Newsline Live” calls during the usual Friday bowling time. We’ve made it
through the Spring 2020 edition (great job, Newsline team!) and we’re looking
forward to the next issue.


We were excited to
participate in the GiveBIG Washington 2020 online fundraiser, and pleasantly
surprised that we were able to get some donations to WCB that will be split
50/50. We’re definitely hoping that GiveBIG 2021 will be available to us so we
can improve on our process to share the opportunity.


Our hope is that
everyone reached by this magazine stays safe and healthy throughout these crazy



***United Blind of Whatcom County
by Holly Turri


Even though the
corona virus is stalking the land, UBWC has been busy. Due to Beth Marsau’s
enthusiastic encouragement, our members are now familiar with both Free
Conference Call and Zoom meetings. 


In April, we had a
speaker from AARP who discussed and described Internet fraud. Particularly
interesting were his warnings of COVID-19 tricksters. 


We are conducting a
coupon book fundraiser. We’ve had other ideas, including a May Day party,
Easter celebration, and another virtual party. 


Although we are far
apart in distance, through electronics we are close in hearts and minds.


***United Blind of Walla Walla
by Heather Meares


When we chose our
motto of “New Directions” last year, I don’t think any of us could have
predicted how drastically this concept would be tested. Finding new and
creative ways to stay strong as individuals and as a chapter has been our main
goal the past few months, and I have to say I am honored to be a part of such a
determined and resilient group.


One of the ideas we
implemented was creating small groups of two to four people with our member
list to help check on each other during these times when it is so easy to feel
isolated. Our meeting for May was conducted via conference call, and was
anything but smooth due to lots of technical and logistical issues. For June,
we decided to do more of a hybrid-style meeting in which all the officers met
in person, in an open outside area, six feet apart, and wearing our masks. Each
of us used our phones to connect with members, and used a PA system, which was
quite successful. We passed a constitutional amendment to allow us to meet and
vote via phone or other methods in the future and encourage you all to do the
same. Our meeting was a mini version of a tech call with Reg and Frank so, of
course, it was lively and full of lots of great questions, comments, and
friendly banter.


As for our future,
we are going with the flow and continuing to thrive in our community. The city
is currently making plans to build a roundabout and remove traffic signals. Our
chapter has had some preliminary discussions with the city and will continue to
do so to ensure an accessible solution is considered and hopefully implemented.
Roundabouts are not only new directions, they are all directions
simultaneously, and extremely challenging to navigate, even for sighted
drivers. For the disability community, they prove to be a nightmare, at best.
We will keep you all in the loop about the loop and the final outcome.


Also on the horizon
is a new partnership with a local plant ecologist who contacted us via our
website. She is teaching online courses for Shoreline in Seattle and currently
has a blind student needing techniques for plant identification. We are working
on this together and are also talking about a future accessible demonstration
garden project in our community, possibly for next year.


Walla Walla is
slowly coming back to life, with openings of restaurants and outside expanded
seating areas marked with orange tape, and live music is beginning to be heard
again. The UBWW is staying as active as always.           


***United Blind of the Tri-Cities
by Frank Cuta


It has been getting
into the 80’s here in Benton County and soon will reach the 90’s. Those of us
who can are taking advantage of the cool mornings to work in the yard or are
going for walks in small groups.  


We are grateful that
the COVID-19 crisis hit us just as we were winding up our annual candy
fundraiser. All of the chocolate that was stored at Sherry’s home has been
turned into cold hard cash, and it’s in the bank where it should not melt.  


No electronic
virtual meeting can replace the camaraderie of a face-to-face get-together with
your friends. However, we feel very lucky that the current crisis has come at a
time when phone conference-call technology is a functional alternative to
physically meeting. 


In April and May, we
held our monthly chapter meetings by phone. On our April program, Reggie
demonstrated his new coffee maker and in May, Janice, Lisa, and Reggie told us
about the new Apple iPhone SE. 


Most members report
that they are just sheltering in place and not taking any unnecessary risks.


The conference-call
line has also made it possible for us to continue to hold our monthly book
group and tech group gatherings. This allows us to at least talk with each
other several times a month and monitor how everyone is doing. Most recently,
we participated in the WCB GiveBIG fundraiser. We expect that this fundraiser
will grow to be a valuable annual activity.


Kitsap Council of the Blind

by Kim
L. Moberg

With the impact of COVID-19, life has surely changed, and
in one aspect, it is for the good. We are a chapter that is spread out across
our county. For some, finding transportation to get to the meetings is
difficult. At the moment, there are no issues with
transportation and that is a good thing.

Staying connected has been a big goal for all of us.
Conference calling has become a way of life. Socializing, church, and our
chapter meetings are all done by conference call these days. What would we do
without our devices and computers?

We did not hold a meeting in March, as we were busy
figuring out how to notify all members and help them learn how to access the
system that we would be using to conduct meetings. In April, we had our first
chapter meeting by conference call. It turned out to
be a really good meeting. I am also happy to report that we even had a new
person join us. Welcome Jan Johnson. This meeting was a wonderful time for all
of us to touch base. We did not get a lot of business taken care of, but that is OK. The main purpose was to see how everyone was
managing during this pandemic.

Our members are coping as well as can be expected during
this time of lockdown. We have been staying well-connected as a group, as
family, and as friends. Committees in this chapter
are very eager for this social distancing to end. They have much work they
would like to get started and moving forward. The Food Committee is especially
eager to share what they have lined up for us. Please stay well and healthy.


***Skagit and Island
Counties Council of the Blind

by Andy


Hello WCB, we here
in the counties of Skagit and Island hope you are staying healthy and safe
through this coronavirus pandemic. We have decided to meet twice monthly to
keep in touch. On our normal schedule, we had decided to take the months of
July and August off, and this year we are going to meet during those months to
keep up with each other.


The Summer Newsline
theme of Discovering Brilliance through Resilience fits into our chapter’s plan
of action for the current times. Most members have never met using conference
calls before. And, we offered free Echo Dots to our members, and some of them
jumped right in and took one. We have a group of people who shy away from
technology and are stepping up to try new things. One of the ladies was so
elated that she called and left us a very gratifying voicemail. We are inviting
state legislators to our meetings, and Vanda Pharmaceuticals has reached out to
do a presentation on Non-24 for us in June.


We are a blessed
lot, and glad to be part of a bigger picture by being members of WCB and ACB.


***Pierce County Association of the Blind
by Julie Harlo


Every year, the
Pierce County chapter struggles to find a space to hold our Christmas party. We
have a large group, and facilities are limited with access. So we had a Ringing
in the 2020 New Year in late December, rather than a Christmas-only party. It
was a great turnout, and we all had a good time. During this event, we honored
Arnold Kammeyer for his dedicated service to Pierce County Association of the
and WCB.  


After canceling our
March meeting due to COVID-19, we regrouped and began to get our members
acquainted with Zoom.  We held a practice
session, and we have held the past two months’ meetings using Zoom, with a high


April was an
incredibly sad moment for our chapter as we lost two of our members. We lost
Mildred Johnson, 94, on April 9. She was a member for more than 35 years. She
had been treasurer, secretary, and at the end she was our Sunshine Committee
chair. Mildred volunteered to call and remind our members every month of our
upcoming meetings. We had been ready to present Mildred with a gift for her
dedication to the chapter, a beautiful clock and plaque. Luckily, a week before
she passed, another member brought her the gift, and she had it on her side
table to enjoy before she left us. 


Then on April 24, we
lost Lori Allison, who is so very well-known throughout WCB. She did so much
for our chapter and WCB alike. 


These two losses
left our group sad and struggling to regroup, with two noticeably big holes to
fill. They will be very missed. Thanks to many from WCB, we were honored to add
to contributions to have Lori Allison placed on the Angel wall of the American
Council of the Blind. Thank you to all who have contributed with our chapter.


We will continue to
work with our members and get them engaged with Zoom, and we are actively
working to keep our membership engaged with each other during this difficult
time. We had to cancel our fundraising event in May and our BBQ in July. We
have all had to create new visions due to this pandemic, and we are all going
to persevere with new ideas and creations. We had a third member, Kitty
Cummings, who we also wanted to honor, and had her gift delivered recently. We
do not know when we will be able to meet face to face again, so we are trying
to make sure we can carry out what we started. We have been planning for many
months to honor the sighted members who volunteer their time and dedication to
our cause. From us to them, we thank you.


***Jefferson County Council of the Blind
by Carl Jarvis


We are traveling in
strange times and wild, uncharted waters. In mid-March, per Gov. Inslee’s
request, the JCCB board met via telephone, and cancelled our March 27 meeting.
This was followed by cancellations of our April, May and June meetings. Since
we normally hold a picnic in July or August, we also decided to cancel any
plans for a group event. This means our next scheduled meeting will be the
fourth Friday of September.


We will continue to
stay in close contact with our members by email or telephone. During this
downtime, we will seek ways of conducting business via long-distance methods.
Rather than declaring that we are a chapter in trouble, we are looking at
developing new ways to assist the blind and low-vision people in our area, and
to advance skills training and community services. Finally, we are open to any
suggestions from around WCB.


Dog Users of Washington State

Vivian Conger


GDUWS had to
postpone its 2020 Spring Fling. Since things are still totally up in the air,
we are looking to have a membership call/virtual meeting in August, which
hopefully will contain some of the items we had originally scheduled for the
Spring Fling. Please look for more information as time goes by.


***2020 WCB Calendar of Deadlines and Events

For more details
on events listed, call WCB at 800-255-1147



26 – The Americans
with Disabilities Act (ADA) turns 30!

27 – WA State ADA 30th anniversary celebration
event at 11a.m. with a rebroadcast at 7p.m, and on demand access from the
online archive later. This can be viewed on cable, or live on TVW, Washington
State’s accessible Public Affairs Network at the following link:

27 – WCB
Presidents call at 7 p.m.




WCB summer
Board Meeting Zoom call from 10 a.m. to noon

10 – WCB
Diabetics call at 7 p.m.

16 – 3rd
Sunday Tech Chat with Reg and Frank at 7 p.m.

24 – WCB
Presidents call at 7 p.m.

26 – Washington
Talking Book and Braille Library (WTBBL) Patron Book Club call at 2 p.m.

31 – Deadline to
submit articles for the fall Newsline issue

31 – Deadline to
submit WCB awards nominations.




11 – State Rehabilitation Council (SRC) public meeting from 9
a.m. to 3 p.m. (meeting will be virtual)

14 – WCB
Diabetics call at 7 p.m.

20 – 3rd
Sunday Tech Chat with Reg and Frank at 7 p.m.

23 – WCB
Committee leaders call at 7 p.m.

25 – Washington
State School for the Blind (WSSB) Board of Trustees meeting

28 – WCB
Presidents call at 7 p.m.

30 Deadline for dues to be received by
the WCB Treasurer for members to have voting privileges at the annual business




1-2 – WASILC
meeting at Alliance of People with disAbilities office in Seattle

12 – WCB
Diabetics call at 7 p.m.

15 – White Cane
Safety Day

17 – WTBBL Patron
Advisory Council call at 9 a.m.

18 – 3rd
Sunday Tech Chat with Reg and Frank at 7 p.m.

26 – WCB
Presidents call at 7 p.m.

29-31WCB Annual
Convention at
by Hilton Seattle Airport



  9 – WCB Diabetics call at 7 p.m.

13 – WSSB Board
of Trustees meeting

15 – 3rd
Sunday Tech Chat with Reg and Frank at 7 p.m.

23 – WCB
Presidents call at 7 p.m.

25 – WCB
Committee leaders call at 7 p.m.

30 – Deadline to
submit articles for WCB Newsline Winter 2021 issue




11 – SRC public meeting from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. (meeting
location to be determined)

14 – WCB
Diabetics call at 7 p.m.

20 – 3rd
Sunday Tech Chat with Reg and Frank at 7 p.m.

28 – WCB
Presidents call at 7 p.m.

Washington Council of the Blind

is honored to recognize
donors who have made a difference






contributions (16)

Julie & Nathan Brannon            Bill Muse

Teresa Breitenfeldt                    Gary Nelson

Ellen Cooper                               Rhonda

Danette Dixon                             Sheri Richardson

Gaylen Floy                                 Andrew

Reg & Lisa George                    Kathleen Tracy

Holly & Byron Kaczmarski        Leila Wassom

Sally Mayo                                   Ron
& Susan Whitman

Anonymous (through
ACB Monthly Monetary Support Program)

Anonymous (through

Anonymous (through
Benevity Fund)

Anonymous (through
Network for Good)

Anonymous (through
PayPal Giving Fund)

Hans and Ingrid
Skacel Gift Fund



contributions (2)

Carol & Chris Brame        Gaylen Floy

Julie & Nathan Brannon   Beth Greenberg

Donna Brown                     Cindy

Danette Dixon                    Holly & Byron Kaczmarski

Pierce County
Association of the Blind



Anonymous contributions (4)   Rhonda Nelson

Colette Arvidson                         James Turri