Legislative Hotlines, current issues for blind persons:
CALIFORNIA CONNECTION: 800-221-6359, after 5 PM and weekends
WASHINGTON CONNECTION: 800-424-8666, 3 to 9 PM and weekends
DISCLAIMER: This publication contains announcements from the Silicon Valley Council of the Blind and is also a forum for opinions relating to blindness issues. Signed articles reflect the views, and research, of their authors.
STATUS: SVCB is a 501(c)3 non-profit, tax-exempt organization under the California Council of the Blind.
Monthly in-person meetings are held at the Santa Clara Valley Blind Center (Vista Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired San Jose). Meetings run 9:30 AM to 1 PM the third Saturday of the month and are open to all.
I sure enjoyed our picnic. My intention was to get there early, but Access came an hour late, and there were two pickups and a dropoff before we got to Hellyer Park. John Kanze and Suzanne Smith were in the same vehicle, so I was able to check in with them, which made the long ride seem shorter. I got there just in time for a tasty hamburger, with just the right condiments. We couldn't hold a raffle, but Noel and Mike brought items to give away. A huge thank you to Beverly and Victor, Carol and Joe, Naomi and Steve, and our three volunteers who made it all possible.
We need three people to step up and serve on our Nominating Committee. Please contact me if you are willing to serve. The following positions are up for election:
President Rob Turner (third term)
Vice president Mike Keithley (third term)
Treasurer Victor Clifford (no term limit)
Recording secretary Gail Roe (third term)
Corresponding secretary Carol Silveria (third term)
Director Joe Silveria (third term)
Director Lupe Medrano (third term)
Our next meeting will be in person and on Zoom. I learned that Lisa got way too much exercise by running back and forth with the microphone. We'll make sure to remedy that next time. Our speaker for October is Triet Hoang, a representative from California Phones. I look forward to seeing you all there.
Editor's Note: It is with sad hearts that we tell you of the passing early Saturday morning, October 2nd, of Roger Petersen's beloved partner, Bernice Kandarian. Bernice had been ill for quite some time, and in hospital for the past 3 weeks. She was a dedicated member of CCB and ACB, and for many years was active in our SVCB chapter. We fondly remember her work on such chapter projects as our member cookbook and our fund-raising tea. I believe that she founded the Council of Citizens with Low Vision, Inc. (CCLVI). She was a tireless legislative advocate and a mentor to many. We extend our hearts and prayers to Roger at this most difficult time.
As we move into the autumn months of the year, we are still not able to do any fund-raising. As I reported in the last newsletter, SVCB is a chapter of CCB, and until CCB gets its 501C3 tax exempt status reinstated as a non-profit organization, we cannot do any fund-raising. As soon as it has been reinstated, we will start fund-raising again.
In the meantime, and as always, please keep yourselves safe and well!
Well now, how about the picnic! "Didn't notice many of my friends there. But then, it was kinda windy, so I stayed under the table a lot of the time. Those two hamburgers Victor snuck to me were really good!" Well, King, I guess you earned it, so I won't check it out. "Please don't, wouldn't want him to get in trouble. After all, he was running around doing this and that." But how about the other volunteers? "They're great, too, but—well, you see, I got focused on Victor: the food, you know." Just like a dog! "That's right." I got the chance to meet people I haven't seen in 2 years, imagine! So even though the picnic was rather small, everyone I met was having a grand time.
Be sure to come to our October meeting. We'll have the California Phones presentation, plus various devices to examine. And don't forget that you can get lunches from Subway the way you did before COVID. And we hope to have the Zoom link working. Information is included in the Event Calendar.
Among other items in the business meeting will be the announcement of the Nominating Committee. If you want to serve on this committee, read Rob's President's Message and contact him.
Let's wish happy October pumpkins to John Kanze, Donna Sanchez, and Michelle McGrew—they'll love you! Michelle is often on the Social Hour call, and we hear she is doing well in Tennessee.
In Mike's Tidbits column this month, you will read about AIRA, a service that connects blind and low vision people to highly trained, remotely located agents. Through an app on your smartphone, AIRA delivers instant access to visual information at the touch of a button, enhancing everyday efficiency and independence. John and I have been AIRA clients for several years now, and may even have shared our experiences in an earlier newsletter. At the risk of sounding like an AIRA advertiser and promoter, I'd like to share an experience that I had on September 20 wherein AIRA saved my day as well as Omni's.
On the day in question, John and I were flying home from Lincoln Nebraska. Due to minor mechanical problems and repairs that delayed our flight, we missed our connecting flight from Denver to San Jose. So we booked a later flight that kept us in Denver International Airport for 7 hours. Despite all my precautions of withholding food and water from OMNI, she eventually needed to go to the bathroom. No personnel from United Airlines were readily available to help us. So I called an AIRA agent named Tracy. First she pulled a map of Denver International Airport up on her computer. Then she located the United Terminal and Gate 92 where John, Omni, and I were sitting. Next she found the Indoor Pet Relief area located at Gate 37. Then, using the camera on my I phone and the map loaded on her computer, she guided Omni and me on a 20 minute walk from Gate 92 to Gate 37. The airport terminal was noisy, but my iPhone was connected directly to my hearing aids through Bluetooth, so I could hear Tracy's directions well. We passed restaurants, gift shops, ticket counters and agents, crowds of passengers and their luggage. We twisted and turned our way through several hallways, and even caught an elevator to another floor. This was the longest and most complicated walk that I have ever taken independently in an airport. I was nervous, but also thrilled. And we did eventually reach the Relieving Area.
I thanked Tracy, and asked if she could hold the line while I attended to Omni. She said that she would be glad to do so, as she still had 2 hours before her AIRA work shift ended.
Alas, we lost our connection when Omni and I entered the Relieving Room. Worse still, it was an unsanitary mess in there, and Omni refused to use it. I decided to call another AIRA agent and see if we could locate an outdoor Relieving Area.
As it turned out, I did not have to do this, because just outside the Pet Relieving Room I met a fellow passenger who happened to be a dog lover, had two hours to kill before her own flight, and eagerly offered to help us find a clean outdoor Relieving Area, which we ultimately did. This in-person guardian angel's name was Cory, and Omni and I were equally grateful to her, and equally profuse in our thanks.
Once safely back in my seat at Gate 92, I opened the evaluation part of the AIRA app and wrote a text note that sang Tracy's praises. AIRA always gives you the ability to rate the service that you receive, so I made sure to give this experience 5 stars.
So you're feelin' kinda munchy at a meeting on a Saturday morn, goody goody!
Should you bring somethin' next time, or enjoy someone else's—you're torn, goody goody.
So perhaps you volunteered last year,
Or you didn't, cuz you have this fear
That you won't bring enough little pieces
To feed your friends—oh dear, oh dear!
So you lie awake agonizin' over what you should do, goody goody.
Then it hits you that next month's goody-bringer should be you—oo-oo.
Hooray and hallelujah! Good sleep's now comin' to ya!
Goody goody for you! Goody goody for us!
And your Goodies Chair's satisfied, you angel you!
Okay, now that you've heard my little song, think about it. Would you like to be the Angel of the Month sometime in 2022? Three angels have already stepped up to take the months of January, July, and October, but all other months are still up for grabs. So avoid sleepless nights of agony, pick your month, and contact me by calling our SVCB phone number (1-888-652-5333) to leave a message for me, drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or look me up in our SVCB membership list and contact me directly. I'll be delighted to talk to you and answer questions, to allay any remaining fears you may have. It's easy!—it's fun! Talk soon!
AIRA offers two special pricing plans for ACB members. The Intro Power Plan includes 30 minutes per month for $20.00, and the Standard Power Plan includes 140 minutes per month for $99.00. These plans are available for ACB members in good standing who sign up through December 31, 2021. Please contact Customer Care at 800-835-1934 for more information, and to confirm your status to purchase a plan.
Medical Device Nonvisual Accessibility Act
The Medical Device Nonvisual Accessibility Act (H.R. 4853) aims to make home use medical equipment and devices accessible to blind and visually impaired Americans. The majority of home use medical devices and out-patient equipment utilizes digital display interfaces that are inaccessible to blind and visually impaired users. Devices such as glucose monitors, blood pressure readers, and at-home chemotherapy treatments do not have nonvisual accessibility features such as text to speech output, tactile markings, or audible tones. As a result, it is very difficult for blind and visually impaired individuals to use medical devices properly and safely, making it difficult for these individuals to manage their health independently. The passage of this bill would ensure that product manufacturers incorporate accessible design in the beginning stages of development.
We encourage all ACB members and friends to contact their representatives and urge them to cosponsor and support the Medical Device Nonvisual Accessibility Act (H.R. 4853). To learn more about how to contact your representatives about this issue, visit:
McDonalds Partners With Vispero on Accessible Kiosks
Vispero, an assistive technology supplier for the blind and visually impaired, has been selected by McDonald's to assist in providing customers with an accessible kiosk experience. Vispero's product, JAWS Kiosk, has been deployed to select McDonald's US company owned restaurants, as well as newly deployed kiosks in US franchise locations. McDonald's is in the process of deploying this solution to corporate-owned stores and select franchise locations across the US.
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. For event listings, call Lori Gray at 510-843-4398, or visit