"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.
Our meetings take place every third Saturday in the community room of the Monte Vista Terrace Apartments (1101 Grant Road in Mountain View) and run from 9:30 AM. to 1 PM. The Monte Vista Terrace Apartments are one block from the intersection of Grant Road and El Camino Real and are accessible by bus #22. To read timely announcements and find out what will be happening during our next meeting, read our .
by Michelle McGrew
Thanks to all who got tickets for our raffle featuring donated prizes at our August picnic! Prizes included a $25 Starbucks gift card, various electronic devices, various picnic-related items, and a pair of tickets for Tabard Theatre's production of "Another Roll of the Dice." Congratulations to our winners: Mike, John V., Suzanne, Kathy H., Irene, Sam, and volunteers Mary and Trina! We raised $158!
Save the dates and spread the word! Please join us at our next fund-raising event at Marie Callender's (751 East El Camino Real, Sunnyvale, CA 94087) any time Monday, October 22 through Tuesday, October 23, 2018 (11 AM-8 PM) for a meal, dessert or snack, or even to purchase a pie to take home! Please call 408-245-3710 to make reservations if you have a party of 6 or more. Present one of our fund-raising event flyers to your server, and Marie Callender's will donate 20% of each purchase (excluding alcohol, tax, and tip) to SVCB's technology grant program! We'll have flyers at the September and October meetings, or you can download and print the required flyer by visiting . Marie Callender's will not have extra copies, and we will not receive credit for your purchases if your party does not have a flyer.
Dawn Wilcox will be baking Almond Cookies for our September Cookies of the Month fundraiser, to benefit our tech grant. Each bag of cookies will sell for $1. If you would like to volunteer to bake cookies for this fundraiser, please contact me by calling 888-652-5333 (leave a message to be forwarded to me, or look me up on our Membership List to call me directly), or send email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Let me know if you have a preferred month.
I am now taking orders for next year's large print/braille calendar featuring artwork by blind and visually impaired people of all ages. I have ordered 55 calendars, and expect them to arrive in time for the September meeting. Remember, these are great to share with others! This year, they will cost $10 each (sorry, prices went up, so we need to charge a little more). To reserve yours, please contact me as listed above.
We are still selling our various snack items throughout the summer. For $1 each, you may select from the following options: bags of Welch's Fruit Snacks (2.2-oz bags of chewy fruit-flavored candies), Kirkland Nut Bars (contains a sprinkle of salt and a little chocolate), or as part of our Summertime Snack Sale, nut mix with cranberries or with chocolate. To order in advance, please contact me as listed above.
Please let Michelle know if you have need of a Prodigy Voice Blood Glucose Monitoring System (comes with case and instructions). She can get it to you at the picnic if she knows in advance. You can contact her by calling 888-652-5333 (leave a message to be forwarded to her, or look her up on our Membership List to call her directly), or send email to email@example.com. A donation of any amount would be appreciated.
If you wish to purchase bags of Welch's Fruit Snacks, Kirkland Nut Bars, and/or nut mix with cranberries or with chocolate at the picnic, please order these items from Michelle in advance so she knows how many to bring. (Her contact info is listed above.)
Membership Meeting: tbd
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).
President – Susan Glass,
Vice-President – Alice Turner,
Recording Secretary – John Glass,
Correspondence Secretary – Naomi Grubb,
Treasurer – Vic Clifford,
Board Members – Mike Keithley, John McNulty, Lupe Medrano,
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).
Launched in 2010, this program annually awards a grant of up to $1500 to a blind or visually impaired person living in Santa Clara, San Mateo, Santa Cruz or San Benito Counties 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:
Ø Polarizing sunglasses
Ø Hearing aids and audiologist fees
Ø Mobility aids (like white canes) and payment for mobility instructors
Ø Adapted mobile devices
Ø Adapted computers
Ø Repair of adapted computers
Ø Magnifying systems
Ø Medical aids
Ø Bar code readers
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 .
Representative to support the Marrakesh Treaty. After many years of advocacy
work, we still have a hurdle to jump in order to see the Marrakesh Treaty
implemented in the United States - this time with the House of Representatives.
The Marrakesh Treaty is an international copyright treaty that provides a
copyright exception for libraries as authorized entities to make accessible
copies of entire articles and books for people with print disabilities and
distribute those copies across borders. Today, ask your Representative in the
House to support the Marrakesh Treaty Implementation Act by bringing it to a
floor vote. See: California Assembly Members (as of March
2018). See: California Senate Members (as of March
Last week ALA's
Washington Office (WO) staff were told by the lead staffer for the House
Judiciary that the Marrakesh legislation was not going to come to the House
floor until after the midterms. In O's words "This is
unacceptable!" After the midterms, there is a 'lame duck' legislature and
then a new Congres in January which means working all over again with the
legislation, delaying for really no good reason when there is no controversy
whatsoever. This is the same staff person who told WO and the Library Copyright
Alliance to stop lobbying in July and that he is just not that
interested in this issue.
Of course, the
Congress in general has a lot of things on their plate, but this is just a
floor vote. So please contact your congress members around the country and
let's get this noncontroversial and important treaty implementation passed. In
other words, we need the entire House to put pressure on the Judiciary
Committee since the committee is not interested in a simple floor vote. I
will be sending a letter to Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy of CA in addition to
my local House rep.
Mike L. Marlin,
California Braille and Talking Book Library
ALA Councilor at Large
Sent: Monday, September 10, 2018 2:18 PM
To: Marlin, Mike@CSL
Subject: new developments with the Marrakesh Treaty Implementation Act
Last week we were
told by the lead staffer for the House Judiciary that the Marrakesh legislation
was not going to come to the House floor until after the midterms. We
know this is unacceptable because after the midterms, we have the lame duck and
then a new Congress which means we will have to work all over again with the
legislation, delaying for really no good reason when there is no controversy
whatsoever. This is the same staff person who told us to stop lobbying the last
time. He is just not that interested in this issue.
So LCA and NFB
said we were going to have a advocacy campaign. (Of course, the Congress
in general has a lot of things on their plate, but this is just a floor vote).
I have not had a conversation with the rest of LCA or NFB but we did agree to
move forward so I wanted you to know. We will target House leaders on both
sides of the aisle. Ryan (Wisconsin) and McCarthy (California) set the
calendar, they are should be targeted. We talked about a day of action but
no details yet.
At the WO, we are
having a weeklong retreat with the Office for Library Advocacy, so I will not
be at my computer as much as usual, but I'll keep you updated. In the
meantime, please tell your colleagues (even beyond Wisconsin and California)
that this is going on. We have an action alert on the "take action"
Director, OITP Program on Public Access to Information
ALA Washington Office
1615 New Hampshire Avenue, First Floor
Washington, DC 20009
California Regional Meeting:
Come one, come all, to the Northern California CCB Regional Meeting.
When: Saturday, September 29, from 10 AM to 3 Pm.
Where: San Francisco LightHouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired, 1155 Market St., 10th Floor, San Francisco, CA 94103
Who: Any interested members of Northern California CCB chapters: Silicon Valley, San Francisco, Santa Rosa, Contra Costa, and Capitol Chapter. If you don't usually attend the annual CCB convention but would like to be more involved in the organization, its mission and its projects, then this gathering if one you won't want to miss. Fill out this registration form and email it to firstname.lastname@example.org. Bring your registration payment to the September 15 meeting. If you cannot attend the meeting but want to attend the CCB Northern California Regional Meeting, contact Susan Glass.
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 –
Another Roll Of the Dice – Sep. 14 – Oct. 7, 2018
The Explorers Club – Oct. 26 – Nov. 18, 2018
Uptown Holiday Swing – Nov. 30 – Dec. 16, 2018
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
Come and enjoy a free, old-fashioned band concert in a beautiful park setting. Each month, Ye Olde Towne Band of Los Altos provides an enjoyable concert presenting music ranging from rousing marches to popular musicals. Spend a lazy Sunday afternoon sitting on the grass listening to your favorite concert music. A playground is available for the youngsters. Bring a picnic lunch to enjoy.
Bev Clifford – Kaiser Permanente San Jose and Presciption Labeling
Before I begin this narrative, I want to pay tribute to the woman who started it all: the late Barbara Rhodes, long-time and treasured member of our Silicon Valley Council of the Blind chapter. Due to her tireless effort and New York chutzpah, Kaiser began offering Talking Pill Bottles to its patients in our area sometime in the early 2000's. We miss her, and our chapter has since created our Barbara Rhodes Technology Grant in her honor. I was one of the patients who benefited from her work, and her example inspired me to take action.
I was also inspired by a company called EnVision America, which for several years had been struggling to convince Kaiser Permanente that their product, ScripTalk (a playback unit that audibly reads a person all the information on their prescription labels) would be beneficial to its blind and visually impaired patients. Near the beginning of 2017, not long after Vic and I had signed up for the Kaiser Senior Advantage program, I determinedly began a phone campaign to encourage Kaiser to seriously consider ScripTalk—and that's making a long story short: there were many calls to many departments before finally, in April 2017, I reached someone who was willing to listen to and take notes on what I had to say. And whether because of their ongoing communication with EnVision America, or possibly spurred on by my insistent nagging, I received a call two months later informing me that my next prescriptions would arrive with a ScripTalk unit that would read the information that a mail-order pharmacist would record on a little label on the bottom of each prescription bottle or box. I was thrilled! And I made a special call to their Pharmacy Department that very day thanking Kaiser fervently for finally seeing the light.
In January of 2018, I became a member of Kaiser San Jose's Member Patient Advisory Council (MPAC), which meets once a month to glean important input from and listen to the concerns of patients on any and all issues, whether trivial or serious, surrounding their Kaiser facility here, so that patients and Kaiser staff can work together to address them. During my intake interview, I made it clear that my major reason for joining this committee was to advocate for people with disabilities, particularly (of course) those of us who are blind and visually impaired, and that I was especially interested in speaking with pharmacy representatives. For although I was extremely grateful for Kaiser's adoption of ScripTalk, I knew they could do more. I was aware that EnVision America also offers braille labeling on prescription containers (a fact that would be vital to the deaf-blind community), plus they have developed an iPhone app called ScripView that enables VoiceOver to read a specific kind of label affixed to the little instruction booklet that comes with each prescription, therefore allowing visually impaired patients with large print capability to read the information on prescription containers as well.
Just last month, when I received the agenda for our upcoming MPAC meeting, I saw that people from Pharmacy would be attending. And fortunately for me, I was in a position to demonstrate not only the ScripTalk unit, but also the braille labeling and the iPhone app, reason being that before I returned to Kaiser I was under AETNA's medical insurance, and AETNA had agreed to implement all three of EnVision America's options, wherez at that time Kaiser hadn't agreed to any of them. When I was asked which option I wanted, I requested them all, so that when the time came I could show somebody at Kaiser how they all worked. And now, at last, that time had arrived.
So I happily packed up my ScripTalk unit, an old AETNA prescription bottle with the braille label, the little instruction booklet to be used with the ScripView iPhone app (that I had just downloaded that morning), and off I went to the meeting. The other MPAC members and the assembled staff seemed impressed with the products--most of them had never heard about or seen them--and after the meeting one of the pharmacists came to my table to get a better look at the bottle with the braille label. I was pleased with my demonstration except for the iPhone app, which had worked (although slowly) that morning, but which I couldn't guarantee would work properly at the meeting. But at least I was able to explain the concept, showing them the app, and then turning up the volume to the max so they could listen to how VoiceOver can read the prescription information from the history of the labels it had previously scanned this morning. Then I went home and forgot about it all.
That meeting was about two weeks ago. And just two days ago, I received a call from one of the Volunteer Coordinators we work with, who was delighted to spread the news that Kaiser San Jose's mail-order pharmacy has just ordered the braille printer they need to emboss braille labels for prescription bottles, and that when I refill my next prescriptions, the bottles/boxes will have braille on them! And if they'll do this for me, that means that any other San Jose Kaiser patient who wants braille on their bottles can get it, too. Hallelujah! I'm not sure if every walk-in pharmacy will have a braille printer quite yet, and I have no idea whether Kaiser will implement the large-print option in the future, but this is a good start. Hooray for advocacy!
SVCB Recognized with California Senate Member Resolution No. 137
California Senate Resolution
By the Honorable Jim Beall, 15th Senatorial District;
Relative to Commending
Silicon Valley Council of the Blind
WHEREAS, As a Mountain View-based, nonprofit membership organization, the Silicon Valley Council of the Blind has worked diligently for over 30 years to fulfill its mission to improve the quality of life for all persons with vision loss through its long-standing and singular advocacy, mutual support, and other consequential efforts, for which the Council and its members are deserving of special honors and commendations; and
WHEREAS, Extending a welcome to all persons who share its desire to improve the quality of life for persons with vision loss, the Silicon Valley Council of the Blind is a membership organization of persons who are blind or visually impaired, and their families and friends, that draws its membership largely from Santa Clara County and is organized as a chapter of the California Council of the Blind, which, in turn, is a state affiliate of the American Council of the Blind, a nonprofit organization with a nationwide reach; and
WHEREAS, In service to accomplishing its mission, the Silicon Valley Council of the Blind has undertaken a number of activities which include, among others, educating both the public and its own members about the capabilities, responsibilities, and special needs of persons who are blind or visually impaired, and working jointly with other organizations that share the Council’s goals; and
WHEREAS, Since the Silicon Valley Council of the Blind was founded in 1987, as its membership has undergone a substantial increase, so too has the scope of the organization’s efforts, which now include regular monthly meetings that provide opportunities for persons with vision loss to learn about and discuss issues of concern with public officials, professionals in the field of blindness, and other blind persons; the publication of a monthly newsletter in formats that include braille, large print, e-mail, and cassette tape; the hosting of a Web site with links to resources and contact information; and the sponsorship of social and recreational activities where persons sharing the Council’s goals can get to know one another and experience the solidarity that encourages them to “keep up the good work”; and
WHEREAS, Also reflective of the broader scope of the Silicon Valley Council of the Blind’s activities is the focus on members educating themselves about legislation and government regulations related to blindness, as well as members’ active efforts to improve legislation and regulations through testimony and hearings, especially in relation to matters vital to the independence of blind and visually impaired persons such as transportation; and
WHEREAS, In addition, since the initiation of its annual Barbara Rhodes Adaptive Technology Grant in 2010 and consistent with its mission, the Silicon Valley Council of the Blind has offered up to $1,500 to a blind or visually impaired person who can best demonstrate the need for adaptive technology as a means of improving quality of life, or advancing educational or employment opportunities, or both; and
WHEREAS, Having worked diligently for over 30 years to provide its members and the wider community of blind and visually disable persons with “Access to Life,” the Silicon Valley Council of the Blind has proved itself to be an effectual and laudably mission-driven organization, whose members’ advocacy, provision of mutual support, and diverse beneficial efforts have improved the well-being and quality of life for persons with vision loss throughout Santa Clara County and beyond; now, therefore, be it
RESOLVED BY SENATOR JIM BEALL, That he takes great pleasure in commending the Silicon Valley Council of the Blind for its exemplary efforts in fulfillment of its mission to improve the quality of life for all persons with vision loss, and extends his best wishes for the continued success of the Council’s invaluable services and programs in the future.
Members Resolution No. 137
Dated this 10th day of March, 2018
Honorable Jim Beall
15th Senatorial District
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.