"Access to Life"
Mailing Address: P.O. Box 493, Mountain View, CA 94042–0493
Phone: 888-652-5333 (leave a message)
The Silicon Valley Council of the Blind (SVCB) is a 501(c)3 non-profit, tax-exempt organization under the California Council of the Blind. We are a membership organization of persons who are blind or visually impaired, our families and friends. Our goal is to improve the quality of life for all persons with vision loss through advocacy and mutual support. We are organized as a chapter of the California Council of the Blind, which is a state affiliate of the American Council of the Blind, and draw our membership largely from Santa Clara County.
The Silicon Valley Council of the Blind (SVCB) is a membership organization of persons who are blind or visually impaired, and our families and friends. Our goal is to improve the quality of life for all persons with vision loss through advocacy and mutual support. We are organized as a chapter of the California Council of the Blind, which is a state affiliate of the American Council of the Blind, and draw our membership largely from Santa Clara County. To accomplish our mission, we have undertaken the following activities:
Ø Educate both the public and ourselves about the capabilities and responsibilities as well as the special needs of persons who are blind or visually impaired.
Ø Work jointly with other organizations who share our goals.
Since our founding in 1987 both our size and the scope of our efforts have increased substantially:
Ø Regular monthly meetings are held where persons with vision loss can learn about and discuss issues of concern to them with public officials, professionals in the field of blindness and other blind persons.
Ø Through our annual Barbara Rhodes Adaptive Technology Grant, we offer up to $1500 to a blind or visually-impaired person who can best demonstrate the need for adaptive technology that will improve his/her quality of life of advance her/his educational and/or employment opportunities. To access the current grant application, see www.svcb.cc or email email@example.com.
Ø A newsletter is published monthly featuring items of current local interest provided in large print, braille, E-mail, and cassette tape.
Ø Our web site has links to resources and contact information.
Ø We continually educate ourselves about legislation and government regulations related to blindness, while actively trying to improve them through testimony and negotiation. For example, we are continuously engaged in efforts to maintain and improve the quality of public transportation, which is so vital to the independence of our members.
Ø SVCB sponsors social and recreational activities where persons who share our goals can get to know one‑another and experience the solidarity which helps us all to "keep up the good work".
Participation in SVCB is extended to all persons who share our desire to improve the quality of life of persons with vision loss. Suggestions, donations and volunteers to support our work are welcome.
– CCB is a non-profit tax-exempt organization composed primarily of Californians who are blind or have low vision.
Toll-Free in California: 800-221-6359
Outside California: 916-441-2100
- ACB strives to increase the independence, security, equality of opportunity, and quality of life, for all blind and visually-impaired people.
For many years our monthly chapter meetings have taken place every third Saturday in the community room of the Monte Vista Terrace Apartments, 1101 Grant Road in Mountain View, CA
Starting with our February 16th, 2019 meeting, from then on SVCB will be meeting at the Santa Clara Valley Blind Center, 101 N. Bascom Avenue, San Jose, CA 95128. 1-408-295-4016, every third Saturday from 9:30 AM. to 1 PM. The center is now under the direction of , Palo Alto, CA.
We are in the process of developing a lunch function at the new location much like we currently have in Mountain View, and we will announce our results as soon as possible.
To read timely announcements and find out what will be happening during our next meeting, read our .
Our Next Membership Meeting: January 19, 2019, Monte Vista Terrace Apartments, 1101 Grant Road in Mountain View, CA, from 9:30 AM. to 1 PM.
Note that the
room must be cleared by 1 PM.
9:30: Coffee and conversation. The lunch order deadline is 9:45.
10 to 11 AM: Program
11:10 to 12 AM: Business
12 to 1 PM: Lunch and socializing
Our Program speaker will be Jose Rivera, Executive Director of work2future Foundation. The foundation's mission is to assist businesses and individuals in meeting the workforce demands and opportunities of the global economy. It works with businesses, residents, government, educational and community-based organizations to maximize local and regional employment opportunities. Mr. Rivera joined work2Future foundation after having been the executive director at Stagebridge, the oldest performing arts entity in the nation for older adults, and a leader in intergenerational literacy programs, providing program services to underserved schools. You may recall that Stagebridge was our main entertainment at our SVCB Christmas party three years ago.
SVCB Meeting Programs – To skip instructions, click SVCB Program List.
Welcome to the index page for SVCB's meeting program segments. Through links on this page, you can stream or download presentations that occurred during the program segments at monthly meetings of the Silicon Valley Council of the Blind. Program segments posted here have been approved by their presenters for online availability. Other segments that have not been approved are available to SVCB members by contacting
Feedback is welcomed. Send comments to
What is streaming and downloading?
Each month in the list below has two links associated with it: "stream" and "download." Both links let you listen to your selected program but in different ways.
When you select "stream," your media player starts, and you hear the program almost immediately. Problem is, you can only listen to it, you can't move forward or backward easily nor do you have a copy of the program on your computer to listen to later. But if you just want to sit back with your favorite "whatever," selecting "stream" is the right choice. When you need to stop the program, exit your media player (typically with the alt-f4 key combination).
Selecting the download link for a program starts the sequence you use to download a file. After the file is downloaded, you start your media player, open this file and begin listening to your program. The difference is that now you can easily move backward and forward through the program as well as increase the speech rate (on some players). The downside of the download process is that getting the file to your computer can take some time, perhaps two minutes.
Depending on file associations on your operating system, you may have trouble with the audio links. If nothing happens when you click on the "listen" link, try the "download" link as experiments indicate that this may behave like the "listen" link.
If you can only listen to audio, the audio file can still be downloaded. Here's how:
Do the keystroke to stop the audio. This is control-p in Windows Media Player.
Pull down the file menu:, typically with alt-f.
Select the "save as" function.
The name of the audio file will be highlighted so all you have to do is click the "save" button.
You will be returned to your media player after the file has downloaded to your computer.
Choose a year, and then select stream or download.
All SVCB Officers and Board Members may be contacted by phone at: 888-652-5333 (leave a message).
As of January 1, 2019:
President – Susan Glass,
Vice-President – Alice Turner,
Recording Secretary – Rob Turner,
Correspondence Secretary – Naomi Grubb,
Treasurer – Vic Clifford,
Board Members – Mike Keithley, Lupe Medrano, Joe Silveria,
Immediate Past-President – Rob Turner,
All SVCB Committee members and Chairpersons may be contacted by phone at: 888-652-5333 (leave a message).
Barbara Rhodes Adaptive Technology Grant:
Chair: Alice Turner –
Committee: Alice Turner, John Glass, Susan Glass, Diane Harms, Bev Clifford, Lynette Kersey, Mike Keithley, Michelle McGrew –
Chair: Bev Clifford –
Committee: Bev Clifford, Susan Glass, Mike Keithley, Rob Turner –
Constitution & By-Laws – Roger Peterson,
Database Information – Mike Keithley,
Goodies – Bev Clifford,
Fund-raising – Michelle McGrew,
Hospitality – Naomi Grubb,
Chair: Susan Glass –
Copy Editor: Bev Clifford –
Legislation – Mike Keithley,
Membership – Mike Keithley,
Sound – Mike Keithley,
Transportation – Lupe Medrano,
Volunteers – Naomi Grubb,
Webmaster – Vic Clifford,
Due to content sensitivity, for online IN-TOUCH Newsletter review prior to February 2018, email an access request to:
Become a member of SVCB
SVCB is a support group for visually impaired people. If you're visually impaired or want to help, become a member. Although our meetings are open to everyone interested in the blindness community, SVCB membership has these additional benefits for you:
Ø Opportunity to serve on the Board or committees and directly influence chapter activities in the blindness community.
Ø May participate in special SVCB activities such as parties and outings.
Ø Become a member of the California Council of the Blind, whose mission is to improve the quality of life for visually impaired people in California. SVCB is a local chapter of CCB, and we actively assist members to participate in CCB conferences and conventions as well as network within the CCB family.
Ø Become a member of the American Council of the Blind, the national organization dedicated to improving the quality of life for visually impaired people in America and the world. Since CCB is a state affiliate of ACB, you'll belong to the ACB family, and we help visually impaired people attend ACB conferences and convention.
Becoming an SVCB member is easy - fill out a membership application, and along with membership dues send it to P.O. Box 493, Mountain View, CA 94042-0493. Dues are $10 per year (or $13 if between 7/31 and 12/31 to cover through the next year). Click for a print application to be downloaded that gives all the instructions. For more information, email or call our voicemail box at 888-652-5333 (leave a message).
WHAT IS THE PURPOSE OF THE GRANT?
The purpose of the grant is to ensure greater economic opportunity and a richer quality of life for all blind and visually impaired people, which is also the goal of the California Council of the Blind (CCB).
In keeping with this goal, the Silicon Valley Council of the Blind (SVCB), a chapter of CCB, will make a grant of up to $1500 to a blind or visually impaired person who can best demonstrate the need for adaptive technology that will improve his/her quality of life or advance his/her educational and/or employment opportunities.
Examples of items that the grant might fund include, but are not limited to:
· Polarizing sunglasses
· Hearing aids and audiologist fees
· Mobility aids (such as white canes) and payment for mobility instructors
· Adapted cell phones
· Adapted computers
· Repair of adapted computers
· Magnifying systems
· Medical aids
· Bar code readers
WHO WAS BARBARA RHODES
Barbara Rhodes was a respected and valued member of SVCB from 1991 (when she joined the organization) until her death in 2007. She was diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa midway through her adult life. Friends and colleagues remember her good-natured (if sometimes feisty and outspoken) tendencies whenever issues of accessibility for blind and visually impaired people arose. She was a born advocate. A native New Yorker, she, along with her husband Bill and their son Kenneth, moved to San Jose, California, in 1976 where they bought a home in Almaden.
With CCB, Barbara worked tirelessly on the Committee for Access and Transportation (CAT), the Governmental Affairs Committee, the Public Relations Committee, and the Seniors with Vision Loss Committee. In San Jose, she served on the Elderly and Disabled Advisory Committee and the San Jose Disability Advisory Commission. This latter group was responsible for getting over 40 audible pedestrian signals installed throughout the city of San Jose and Santa Clara County. Barbara was passionate about accessible health care, and her voice did much to influence California's Kaiser Hospital system to implement "talking pill bottles," that make taking prescription medications infinitely easier for blind and visually impaired patients.
Barbara Rhodes lived a committed life. Her legacy is one of determination and concrete accomplishment.
WHAT ARE THE QUALIFICATIONS FOR THE GRANT?
The qualifications for the grant are as follows - the individual must be:
· Legally blind
· A resident of one of the following counties: San Mateo, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, or San Benito
· Sixteen years of age or older
· Planning to use the technology for educational, vocational or quality of life purposes
· Seeking technology that the Department of Vocational Rehabilitation or other service/educational organizations will not fund or do not have available
WHO WILL SELECT THE WINNERS?
The winners will be selected by a task force comprised of SVCB chapter members who will read all applications and select a winner.
WHAT IS THE AWARD PROCESS?
The award process consists of a completed application, which must be postmarked no later than Thursday, February 28, 2019.
The Barbara Rhodes Technology Grant task force will review all applications. If you are selected as a finalist, you will be invited to meet with the committee for an in-person or telephone interview. The committee will notify the winner by early April, and present the application award at our May 18 general membership meeting, where the winner will be invited to attend a special ceremony.
HOW DO YOU APPLY FOR A GRANT?
Individuals who are applying for the grant need to complete the following steps:
1. Submit a completed application form, see: ‘ ’ Please fill in all the blanks.
Note: If you would like coaching to get you started on your application, call 888-652-5333 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. A committee member will contact you.
2. Write a 200-word personal statement, typed and double-spaced. At the end of the application form, you will find instructions explaining what is required in the statement.
Note: Some information asked for in the personal statement is the same as in the application form. Consider the statement an opportunity to tell your story more fully, using, if necessary, the facts listed in the application form.
3. Be sure to include a letter from an eye care professional, medical doctor, or blindness professional stating that you are legally blind.
IF YOU HAVE QUESTIONS, leave voicemail at 888-652-5333, or email email@example.com.
Past Award Winners:
Grant Recipient Awarded $1000 for a Trekker Breeze
Our first recipient, Fulton Mah of San Jose, received a Trekker Breeze, a GPS system designed for visually impaired people, at SVCB's February, 2011 meeting. Fulton told us how his award will help him travel on foot and use public transit.
The 2012 grant recipients were Ms. Lynette Kersey and Mr. Abdihakiin Ahmed, both from San Jose. Both award recipients are blind. Ms. Kersey was awarded a Language Master talking dictionary to help her teach braille to blind students whose first language is not English. She also used her grant funds to purchase a 1-year maintenance agreement for her braille notetaker, a computer that she uses for teaching, and for her work as a braille proofreader.
Mr. Abdihakiin Ahmed is the founder and developer of a nonprofit organization called East African Visually Impaired Community (EAVIC) which advocates for the East African Blind Community in both the Bay Area and Africa. He was awarded an iPhone, which he plans to use to enhance both his personal independence and his nonprofit organization.
The 2013 technology grant was awarded to Ms. Susan Durst of Santa Cruz California. Ms. Durst is a client of Vista Center for the Blind, and she has been losing her eyesight for some time now. She received a Junior Goose Neck Lamp that affords good lighting for low vision people, and a Pico Magnifier, a small CCTV that fits in a purse. Though retired from her career, she enjoys an active life complete with lots of reading.
The fifth-annual Barbara Rhodes Adaptive Technology Grant, awarded at SVCB'S April, 2015 membership meeting, was awarded to Mr. John Vandervort of San Jose! Mr. Vandervort has partial sight, and for some time now has found reading difficult. He requested the following items: Reinecker MANO Portable CCTV (a portable video magnifier), ZoomText Update version 10.1, and the Jim Bliss Low Vision System +training course.
Our 2015 Tech Grant award winner was Ms. Camille Gilmore. Diagnosed as legally blind with glaucoma at the Vista Center Low Vision Clinic, Ms. Gilmore has attended Mission College since 2011, where she is earning a Community Health Worker certificate, and an Associates Degree in Sociology. She has thus far completed 60 units, and she has 3 more semesters to complete. In addition to her studies, Camille volunteers as an assistant in the Adaptive PE program at Mission College. She will use her grant award to purchase school supplies and adaptive technology. From the Vista Blind Center store, she'll purchase Eyewear shades, 10-20 pens, bold line paper, Symantech Endpoint Protection, a Kurzweil 1000 upgrade, and a Clear View c Speech 24-inch HD Desktop Magnifier. Congratulations, Camille!
The 2016 Barbara Rhodes Technology Award was given to Lupe Medrano. Lupe is a long-time SVCB member, and she received an iPhone along with funds to pay for training at the Silicon Valley Blind Center and funds to cover transportation costs to and from the center. Lupe hopes that her iPhone will help her be more independent.
The 2017 Barbara Rhodes Technology Award was given to Gabriela Aldana. Gabriela is a mentor to new clients at the Santa Clara Valley Blind Center, and she continues to learn new technology to further cope with her blindness. She received the grant to purchase accessible computer technology, specifically an Apple iPhone 7 Plus phone and an HP Laptop computer – replacing outdated and failing equipment.
For more info about the Barbara Rhodes Technology Grant, call 888-652-5333 or email . Click for a print application to be downloaded that gives all the instructions.
American Foundation for the Blind - "We’re the dreamers and the doers, improving the lives of the more than 20 million Americans who experience blindness or vision loss by amplifying those voices and ensuring equitable access for all."
- Departs every Sunday at noon from Pier 40 in San Francisco.
Visit or call: 415-281-0212
- BORP believes that everyone should have access to the unique challenges that outdoor recreation provides, and makes every effort to accommodate each person's needs, including providing transportation and volunteer support. Visit 510-843-4398 (Lori Gray)
– Resource guide offered through VISTA Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired.
Bookshare – Bookshare makes reading easier. Access a huge collection of ebooks for people with reading barriers.
Breast Cancer Support Group - For questions, call Lori Scharff
- Organizations serving the blind, and employment organizations.
Classical Guitar Using Braille – Let’s Play
With Let’s Play, people who are blind or visually impaired can take lessons, and read music using Braille.
- A mission-driven search firm that is committed to social impact. Our purpose is to support the hiring needs of organizations that are dedicated to tackling today’s most pressing social problems. Contact Jessica Mah at:
- CCLVI is an advocacy membership organization for people with low vision ability. The monthly "Let's Talk Low Vision" conferences from CCLVI can be accessed as podcasts at:
– Annual International Technology & Persons with Disabilities Conference. 1-818-677-4929
- A nonprofit public charity. We provide, free of charge, audio lessons that teach adaptive daily living skills to the vision impaired and their caregivers.
When you live with a physical disability or illness, keeping fit can be difficult.
- Guide Dogs for the Blind empowers lives by creating exceptional partnerships between people, dogs, and communities. 1-800-295-4050
Dog Users, Inc. - Publishes Handbook to Help People Who
Are Blind Decide If the Guide Dog Lifestyle is Right for Them. Guide Dog Users,
Inc. (GDUI), the largest membership and advocacy organization representing
guide dog handlers in the United States, is pleased to announce the recent
publication of a revised handbook for perspective guide dog users which shares
comprehensive information about acquiring and using a guide dog for safe and
independent travel. "A Handbook for the Prospective Guide Dog
Handler" is available as an E-book and in print from Amazon.com,
Smashwords, and other online sellers. Visit this link for further information
and to explore options for purchase:
Help Colleagues With Disabilities Succeed in Meetings - If you’re working with a colleague with a disability in a new capacity, you probably have questions about how to address their needs. You and your organization can easily make accommodations for your colleague, whether you’re working with them remotely or in person. Here’s how to respectfully hold meetings with or onboard a disabled colleague.
Hidden Talent - How Leading Companies Hire, Retain, and Benefit from People with Disabilities, edited by Mark L. Lengnick-Hall
Hotlines - current issues
for blind persons:
800-221-6359, after 5
PM and weekends
800-424-8666, 3-9 PM and weekends
- The monthly
conferences from CCLVI can be accessed as podcasts at .
Lighthouse For the Blind and Visually Impaired - Promote the equality and self-reliance of people who are blind or visually impaired through rehabilitation training, employment placement, Enchanged Hills camp and other relevant services. 1-415-431-1481
Get paid to watch
movies: Seeking blind CA residents for paid AMC Theatres user study. Do you
enjoy watching movies with audio description? Want to contribute to the
accessibility of the AMC Theatres audio description experience for blind
patrons? The LightHouse is seeking a limited number of committed,
detail-oriented Bay Area and Los Angeles residents over age 18 for a
multi-part, paid usability testing project. In 2017, the LightHouse settled a
lawsuit with AMC Theatres wherein AMC agreed to ensure that audio description
equipment was installed and properly maintained in all theaters, and as part of
our collaborative agreement, it's now the LightHouse's task to investigate the
progress of the accommodations at AMC's many California theaters.
This study is part of the continued collaboration between LightHouse and AMC to ensure straightforward and seamless access to audio description for all theater patrons. Study participants will document information about the audio description experience at pre-selected AMC theaters in the Bay Area and Los Angeles between September 1, 2018 and April 1, 2019. Sign up for the study at
- Supports a lifetime of opportunity for blind children through braille literacy and provides access to information that empowers blind people to actively engage in work, family, and community affairs. 1-617-266-6160 or 1-888-965-8965
Online Shopping For Consumers With Disabilitiesguide designed to help people with vision impairment and other common disabilities regain their independence by shopping online. The resources mentioned will help individuals with low vision, colorblindness, or dyslexia have a positive online user experience by helping them read what’s on their computer, tablet, or smartphone screen.
Online Writer’s Group for the Blind
goal is to improve the quality of our writing by sharing and discussing our
work with each other. If you are a lover of fine writing, we encourage you to
join us. Even if you're not an author yourself, you can help by critiquing.
We have created a mailing list, Writersretreat on . There you can post any writing you wish the group to discuss. To subscribe to the group, send email to . The link to the group is .
– Board Meeting
SVCB Board meeting. Call-in:
800-662-6992; ID: 1184109. If you're not on the Board but wish to attend, contact the beforehand.
- A non-profit, non-residential organization which serves all people with all types of disabilities, including seniors with disabling conditions, who live in Santa Clara County. 1-408-894-9041
- Empowers individuals who are blind or visually impaired to embrace life to the fullest through evaluation, counseling, education and training.
1-650-858-0202 or 800-660-2009
VTA ensures a comparable paratransit service is provided to with disabilities who cannot use conventional public transit service due to their physical, visual or cognitive disabilities. Read to , eligibility, and how to apply.
VTA Access: Call . After dialing the VTA Access number, press 1 for English or press 0 for an agent and you'll get the recording you need. Then press 1 to schedule a ride, 2 to cancel a ride, 3 for status of a ride (late vehicle), and 4 for general info and client account info. With complaints, concerns, or compliments: call Robert Gebo at .
Tabard Theatre shows: To order tickets, call the Tabard box office at and speak to Marilyn Watts, or visit . SVCB members and Blind Center clients should use Discount Code BC27 when ordering. Performances take place at The Tabard Theatre, .
2018-2019 Season –
Snapshots: A Musical Scrapbook – Jan. 11 – Feb. 3, 2019
Beau Jest – Feb. 15 – Mar. 10, 2019
Queen Of the Mist – Apr. 5 – Apr 28, 2019
For shows described by AudioVision:
Get tickets for Broadway San Jose by calling 866-395-2929. Performances are at the San Jose Center for the Performing Arts (SJCPA), 255 West Almaden Boulevard, San Jose, on Sundays at 6:30 PM unless noted. Note:
For all San Francisco productions (Golden Gate and Orpheum theatres): Tickets are generally on sale four weeks before the production opens. To charge tickets and reserve receivers, call
Access Technology Manager
Vista Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired
2500 El Camino Real, Suite 100
Palo Alto, CA 94306
650-858-0202 ext. 123
Bill Tipton - Celebrating Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD)
May 17 was Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD). To celebrate that day and the importance of accessibility, Bill Tipton shares a blog posted by his employer, Hewlett Packard Enterprise Community, which includes a tip to assist in increasing one component of accessibility. The blog also describes some of the importance of accessibility and its content can be located at this URL:
Honorary membership in SVCB awarded to Ms. Cathy Spielberger Cassetta, Tabard Theatre Company
This certificate is awarded September 16, 2017, San Jose, CA to: Ms. Cathy Spielberger Cassetta
The members of the Silicon Valley Council of the Blind, an affiliate of the California Council of the Blind, celebrate and commend Ms. Cathy Spielberger Cassetta, Producing Artistic Director at the Tabard Theatre Company, for her lifelong dedication to bringing live theater to blind and visually impaired patrons. She does this through carefully choreographed pre-show descriptions of stage settings, and hands-on experiences that let blind patrons touch actors' costumes and other props and artifacts that are integral to a particular show. She also provides accessible play bills, discounted tickets, and donated tickets that are part of Silicon Valley Council of the Blind's fund-raising efforts. We therefore present her with a Lifetime, Honorary Membership in the Silicon Valley Council of the Blind, with all benefits and privileges that accompany such membership.