Legislative Hotlines, current issues for blind persons:
800-221-6359, after 5 PM and weekends
800-424-8666, 3-9 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 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.
The topic for our July membership meeting program was the national convention of the American Council of the Blind. As the meeting time drew nearer, I began to worry that discussing the convention would take too little time, and our program would be boring. I realized that no one from our chapter attended the convention in person. This probably never happened before. I figure that traveling to Schaumburg, Illinois, staying at the Renaissance hotel, the price of meals, and so forth, would cost a minimum of a thousand dollars. Now that the convention is available virtually, it's no wonder many members choose to stay home instead. My worries about the program turned out to be unnecessary. The discussion proved to be quite lively, and the time went by quickly. Because our meeting was virtual, Michelle from Tennessee and Mickey from Kentucky were able to participate.
If you recently called VTA to check on a bus schedule, then you know their new system is extremely unwieldy. All you needed to know to use the old system was the number of the bus route. After that, you could choose the direction of travel, then you could move along the route by bus stop at any time of day. To use this new system efficiently, you need to know the six-digit numbers of the bus stops you're interested in. Thanks to Lupe, a member of VTA's Committee on Transportation and Mobility Access (CTMA), we had the chance to encourage VTA to bring back the old system. The new system may be fine for many users, but for the blind the old system was far more efficient.
Be sure to sign up for our picnic and, if possible, pay your 2024 dues early.
"Master has been very nice to me. He didn't send me off to Phoenix, where they've had three weeks of temperatures over 110 degrees. Working dogs down there have a real problem walking. I can remember how Master tried to put booties on my feet when it was 95 degrees outside, and I wouldn't work. 'No, no way, off!' But Red Arrow at the dog park told us that when humans want us to wear booties, they know what they're talking about."
Very interesting, King. You were my only dog who refused to wear booties, ever!
We had quite an interesting program segment at the July meeting, where there was far-ranging commentary on happenings at the ACB convention. You can hear the program at:
Let's wish happy August birthdays to Bev Clifford and David Hunter. Bev we see all the time, bright and spritely. But long-time SVCB member David Hunter lives in Virginia, and Mickey Quenzer, who lives in Kentucky, is the only SVCB person who keeps in contact with David. So, check out David's phone number in your membership list and give him a call.
You haven't registered for the picnic yet? Well, shame on you! Do it right away. Last I heard, the count was around 20 people. We can do better than that, my goodness! "It does make for more food for me." Yah yah, but your food is already registered. "Where is it?" Gotta have faith!
So read the picnic article in this newsletter and register with Victor at the August meeting.
It's time to sign up for our annual SVCB picnic. This year we are picnicking at Martial Cottle Park, located at 5283 Snell Ave, San Jose, CA 95136. The site name in the park is Edith Lester. It is near restrooms and easily accessible by sidewalks.
-Here's the pertinent information, followed by some fun facts from the park website:
Picnic Date and time: September 16, 2023, from 11:00 am to 3:00 pm.
BBQ choices will be hamburger, hotdog, veggie-burger all you can eat, with side dishes, drinks, and dessert provided. The cost is $20 for members and $25 for non-members. Sign-up and payment starts now, and can be done at our meetings, by mail, or by PayPal using:
When you sign up, be sure to include your BBQ choice. The cutoff for signing up and paying is Monday, September 11th. We are planning a 'mega-raffle', so come prepared!
-Here is the additional park information that Victor found for us on its website:
Welcome to Martial Cottle Park, Santa Clara County Parks and Recreation Department's newest urban park. Martial Cottle Park celebrates our shared agricultural past, and highlights innovations in modern organic, sustainable, and urban farming practices. Throughout the park's 287 acres, visitors can enjoy aspects of a traditional urban park, such as trails, green space, and picnic areas, as well as learn the Cottle family's story and how agriculture remains an integral part of this historic ranch. All of this comes with an emphasis on organic farming incorporating the latest in water conservation techniques and ongoing community education.
Sending off our outgoing board chair and welcoming our incoming board chair!
Alt Text description of a picture: Vista Center logo with paintbrush strokes forming a "V" in blue and turqouise.
Alt Text description of a picture: A circular image of John Glass with scripted font reading "Thank you, John!" and "Outgoing Board Chair" underneath.
Today we celebrate the incredible impact that our outgoing Board Chair John Glass has made during his tenure. John first learned of Vista Center as a child and has been a client since 1967. John's successes as Board Chair, include shepherding Vista Center through the COVID Pandemic, resulting in commendations for exemplary client service from county government, and insuring Vista Center maintained impeccable financial health during his tenure. As his Board Chair tenure ends, John Glass is turning over the reins with many innovation accomplishments, and a bright future for continued growth, serving the community of people living with vision loss. On behalf of Vista Center's clients, staff, donors, and board: Thank you for your incredible leadership, John!
Alt Text description of a picture: A circular image of Patrice Maginnis with scripted font reading "Welcome, Patrice!" and "Incoming Board Chair" underneath.
Please welcome Patrice Maginnis as our incoming Chair of the Board of Directors. Patrice is no stranger to Vista Center, initially receiving client services, volunteering as an Assistive Technology Instructor, serving as interim Director for Vista Santa Cruz, as well as Board Vice Chair, prior to stepping into this new role. Some of you may know Patrice as the Executive Producer of Voices for Vista, bringing musical talent to the Kuumbwa Jazz Center stage, to raise funds for client programs. Patrice has had an accomplished career in the realm of opera, as a founding member of Opera San Jose. Much gratitude to John and Patrice for their dedication to Vista Center and the blind and low vision community! Donate in Honor of John Glass; Vista Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired
Communication Devices for Helping Individuals Who Are Deaf-Blind
Communicating with others can be challenging. For individuals who are deaf-blind, communicating with others presents some additional challenges. Some devices (low and high tech) are available to assist deaf-blind individuals in communicating with those around them.
(DBPC) is a low-tech device available through the American Printing House for the Blind (APH). The slim device can easily fit in a purse or bag. It features a lanyard for more carrying flexibility. The DBPC uses communication cards featuring large print and braille that a deafblind individual can use when asking questions. The cards are customizable to meet communication needs. The APH Tactile Graphics Library provides a template that can be used with a 3D printer to create more customized cards.
You can learn more about developing customized communication cards and communicating with individuals who are deafblind courtesy of the following agencies and resources:
-- Helen Keller National Center, Communication Training at:
Additional Resources: The DeafBlind Pocket Communicator is not the only device available to help individuals communicate. Manufacturers such as Vispero and HumanWare sell high-tech devices that may be more suitable, depending on the needs of the individual.
Learn More at National Center for Deaf-Blindness Assistive Technology:
-From the tech-vi list firstname.lastname@example.org
Walmart+ Is Now Half-Priced for Families on Government Assistance
Families and individuals who receive government assistance, such as SNAP or Medicaid, are now eligible for the Walmart+ Assist program. The idea is pretty simple; you get all of the Walmart+ benefits at half the usual price. That means free shipping, free grocery deliveries, access to Paramount+, and more for $6.47 a month or $49 a year.
Walmart+ debuted a few years ago as an Amazon Prime competitor. It normally costs $12.95 a month or $98 a year, and it includes several unique benefits.
Here's a quick rundown of Walmart+:
Free shipping from Walmart.com
Free grocery delivery on orders of $35 or more
Free Paramount+ membership
Ad-free streaming on some Pluto TV content
Walmart will pick up returns from your home
Mobile scan-and-go at Walmart stores
Early access to Black Friday prices
Save 10¢ per gallon at Exxon, Mobil, and Murphy stations
A rotating selection of limited-time offers
With Walmart+ Assist, you get all of these benefits at half the usual price. All you need to do is visit the Walmart+ Assist page at:
where your eligibility will be verified through SheerID. (Note that you'll also get a month-long trial, so long as you're a new member.)
Qualifying government assistance programs include SNAP, WIC, Medicaid, SSI, TANF, TTANF, NSLP, and LIHEAP. If you're on one of these programs, Walmart+ Assist may be worth your consideration. It's certainly a lot cheaper than Prime. Obviously, a Walmart+ Assist program may seem like a bit of a luxury. But it can save you a ton of time and money. This is especially true for families or individuals who do not own a car (or who cannot drive).
-From the CCB-Presidents@ccbnet.org list
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Penny Forward Leads the Way: Simplifying Social Security for the Blind Community
As the nation pauses to reflect on our independence, Penny Forward, www.pennyforward.com/a grass-roots Minnesota 501(C)(3) nonprofit organization, is proud to announce the launch of its latest financial literacy course specifically tailored for the blind community. Titled "Simplifying Social Security: A Basic Introduction to the Social Security Administration and Programs it Offers," this course aims to empower the over 7 million legally blind Americans by providing them with a comprehensive understanding of how Social Security programs impact their financial plans.
The National Federation of the Blind reports that, shockingly, only 29 percent of the working-age blind community was employed full-time, with 1,048,600 individuals living below the poverty line in 2016. Many of these individuals are eligible for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits, but due to confusing requirements, they are reluctant to apply or to return to work, fearing the loss of their benefits.
Moreover, the National Disability Institute reports that over 40 percent of Social Security recipients receive at least one overpayment notice while receiving benefits. This alarming statistic only exacerbates the fear, uncertainty, and doubt experienced by blind individuals when navigating these benefit programs.
Recognizing the need to address these challenges, Penny Forward has developed the "Simplifying Social Security" course. This course provides a platform for blind individuals to gain clarity and confidence in understanding Social Security benefits. Participants will delve into various key aspects, including:
The purpose and existence of Social Security
The significance and usage of Social Security numbers
An overview of the different types of benefits offered by Social Security
Guidance on determining eligibility for specific benefits
Strategies for accessing communications from Social Security in accessible formats
Resources and support available for resolving queries or issues
By offering comprehensive and accessible information, Penny Forward seeks to alleviate the anxiety and stress associated with Social Security benefits for blind and disabled individuals. This course empowers participants to make informed decisions regarding their financial well-being.
The "Simplifying Social Security" course is available through Penny Forward's web site, and IOS and Android apps and can be accessed by blind individuals nationwide.
-Have a disability? What to know about Medicaid and scams
By Carol Kando-Pineda
Attorney, FTC's Division of Consumer and Business Education
Every July, Disability Pride Month is a powerful reminder about the importance of disability rights. This July, it's also a time to talk about Medicaid renewal scams that could affect millions of people with disabilities.
To make sure people had insurance during the pandemic, states had to keep people enrolled in Medicaid—but that requirement has been phased out.
So where do scams come in? Well, people eligible for Medicaid now need to re-enroll. If they're not eligible for Medicaid, they need to find new insurance. And that means scammers will start targeting those people—including people with disabilities.
To avoid the scams, here's what to know:
--Medicaid won't charge you to renew or enroll. Your state Medicaid agency may call, text, or email you to renew. But it won't ask for money or information like your credit card or bank account number. Learn about eligibility at: Medicaid.gov/renewals.
--Start at HealthCare.gov if you need new insurance. HealthCare.gov compares insurance plans, coverage, prices, and your eligibility. It only asks for your monthly income and age to give you a price quote. Don't share your bank account or credit card number to get a quote for health insurance. That's a scam.
--Scammers try to sell medical discount plans that are not medical insurance. Medical discount plans charge a monthly fee for supposed discounts on some medical services or products from a list of providers. They're not a substitute for health insurance. Some plans just take your money for little or nothing in return. If anyone pressures you to sign up quickly for a medical discount plan, that's a red flag.
During Disability Pride Month, share this information with your friends, family, colleagues, and social networks. And if you spot a scam, tell the FTC at:
Events take place at The Tabard Theatre, 29 North San Pedro Street, San Jose.
For weekly information about these events, contact Marilyn Watts as above to be placed on Tabard Theatre's email list. There will no longer be Tabard Theatre articles in this newsletter about upcoming events unless something shows up that your Copy Editor thinks many of our readers might enjoy.
The phrase "On Demand" means that an event can be viewed by services like Comcast.
3. Shows Described by AudioVision Bay Area
For all productions (Golden Gate, Orpheum Theatres, Broadway San Francisco, and Broadway San Jose), tickets are generally on sale four weeks before the production opens. To charge tickets and reserve receivers, call:
888-746-1799 (SHN Theaters), or fax your order to 415-581-2121 and ask for AudioVision tickets. If you have any questions, please email:
8. Bay Area Outreach and Recreation Program (BORP)
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: