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.
Alice and I are back from our mini vacation feeling relaxed and rested. An adult beverage or two plus some tasty meals did the trick. I was told that there was a good turnout for our August meeting, and that many picnic signups mean that there will be a good crowd there, too. Stay cool and hydrated during this hot and humid weather.
Have you wanted to step into a leadership role in CCB, but been daunted by the prospect? Do all the rules involved in running a meeting intimidate you? Have your questions answered and your concerns laid to rest at the CCB Future Leaders Seminar. Join us as speakers discuss different leadership roles and responsibilities.
When: Thursday, September 28-Saturday, September 30
Where: Over the Zoom platform.
Contact Membership Committee chairman Joe Green at
It seems to me that Fall is in the air. And when I wake up early in the morning, I want to turn on the heat. There's probably going to be some really hot days before we're through with summer, but Fall is definitely coming. Amazing: why just yesterday was Christmas!
Remember our picnic on September 16. The registration cutoff date is September 11, so if you're coming, better get cracking! It's $20 for SVCB members and $25 for guests. You can send a check to the address at the top of this newsletter with "picnic" in the memo, or you can use PayPal with the name:
We've discovered that our contact at VTA no longer works there. But signage at Martial Cottle Park is good, and the Edith Lester site is easy to find. There will be updated information in the Phone Tree message.
At our August meeting, John Glass gave a very nice demonstration of the Blind Shell 2 phone. This is a smart phone with buttons instead of a touch screen. Unfortunately, technology didn't cooperate, and the session didn't get recorded. But if you're tired of touch screens, look into this phone by contacting SVCB member Mickey Quenzer.
Let's wish happy September birthdays to Donald Reelfs, Diane Wetzel, and Mike Keithley.
"Happy birthday to me,
Happy birthday to you,
Happy birthday to me and you,
Happy birthday to all!"
Well now, King, I was wondering when you'd show up. "All this talk about birthdays woke me up."
Between September 28 and September 30, the CCB Membership Committee will host a CCB leadership seminar on Zoom. Zoom information is not available at this time, but will be published in the Phonetree message if available. If you want more information, contact Joe Green at:
By Mike Keithley for Victor Clifford and Susan Glass
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.
My name is Kurt Weston, and I am a legally blind photographer and artist. For those of you in the San Francisco Bay area, please check out the exhibition "Sight Unseen" at the Bedford Gallery in Walnut Creek,
1601 Civic Drive
Walnut Creek, CA 94596
Sight Unseen is an international exhibition featuring my work, along with 12 other very accomplished blind artists. The exhibit explores ideas about the nature of seeing. The gallery presents the work with braille descriptions, and some of the artworks are touchable. The exhibition is at the gallery until September 17th. Here is the link to the Bedford Gallery:
CVS is introducing a new line of tweezers, nail clippers, and other self-care tools designed to be easier for people with disabilities to use.
The drugstore's Universal Tools collection includes six items that the company said were all created in collaboration with members of the disability community.
The nail clippers, scissors, tweezers, nail nippers, cuticle nippers, and pumice stones have special features to make them more accessible like wide, open handles and non-slip, easy-to-grip silicone, CVS said. Surveys and in-home testing informed the products and their packaging.
The new products are part of CVS' one+other brand, which debuted earlier this year with an eye toward offering consumers a way to practice self-care at an accessible price point, the company indicated.
The Universal Tools collection is available online at:
Oral O. Miller, fourth president and former national representative/executive director of the American Council of the Blind, second president of the United States Association of Blind Athletes, passed away August 6, 2023. He was 90.
Originally from Sophie, Carter County, Kentucky, Miller moved to Ashland at a young age. He was the third of four brothers, and was the last living of the four. He lost his sight in an unfortunate accident when he was in the third grade. Following his recovery, he attended the Kentucky School for the Blind, and was mainstreamed during high school, graduating as the valedictorian of Louisville Male High School in 1951.
Miller became interested in sports while in high school, participating in wrestling and track and field. When he went on to Princeton University, he continued his interest in sports by joining the crew team. He wrote an article about the experience, which was published in the July 2005 ICEVI newsletter, "The Educator." See:
In it, he stated, "My most touching experience as an oarsman took place late in my senior year when I received the Biddle Award, which is presented to the senior who, in the opinion of his fellow oarsmen, has contributed most to crew at Princeton that year. In my athletic life, I have been fortunate enough to win a number of honors, but the Biddle Award is among my most treasured."
He went on to study law at the University of Chicago Law School, graduating in 1958. Two of his classmates were former presidential candidates, Ralph Nader, and former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. Shortly afterward, he began practicing law under Claude Asbury, an attorney in Catlettsburg, KY.
Miller moved to Washington, D.C. in the late 1950s. After working with the U.S. Navy, Miller practiced with the U.S. Small Business Administration for 22 years.
While in D.C. he became involved with local blind bowling leagues. In 1969, he was elected president of the American Blind Bowling Association. In the early 1970s, he was actively involved in Ski for Light, a cross-country skiing program for people who are blind and visually impaired.
He also got involved with the American Council of the Blind, and was active with the American Blind Lawyers Association, becoming president of the affiliate in 1976. Two years later, he was elected ACB president, serving until 1981. A few years later, he married Roberta A. Douglas.
He continued his interest in sports by working with the United States Association of Blind Athletes, where he served as the organization's second president, and with the International Blind Sports Association. More recently, Miller was a member of a D.C. area rowing club, called the "Out of Sight Dragons".
While researching Amazon's Accessibility, we discovered just how desirable it can be to have Alexa read to us. Amazon's well-known, much-loved voice assistant will read Kindle e-books with her voice, or play Audible audiobooks. All you must do is ask.
This is surely one of the easiest options available for reading books. It's a natural for people with vision loss, and a great convenience for anyone who wants to continue reading while they do other things. Ironically, Alexa's skills do not even come under the heading of 'accessibility', yet it is the functionality we've been waiting for.
Amazon Fire 7 Tablet Unboxed:
We learned more about this fantastic feature in an email from our friend Steven. He wrote, "I purchased the brand-new Fire 7 tablet." Fire tablets vary in screen size, storage capacity, and price starting at $60. "It is hands-free using Alexa vocal commands to open a book, pause the book, fast forward, go to a different chapter, etc., all of which I saw demonstrated at the (Amazon Books) store. Alexa is built in to the Fire tablet: no additional devices are required." He appreciated his in-store experience. "The salesperson was great, totally setting up and downloading my tablet, and it was fully functional when I left the store except for connecting it to WiFi when I got home."
Steven's in-store approach can no longer be duplicated, since Amazon has closed all 24 of its physical bookstores. Another good option is to phone Amazon's Accessibility Customer Service at:
They can help you make the purchase online, and walk through the setup which requires entering a WiFi password and Amazon account.
The very same voice commands that control the reading on the tablet do the same on an Amazon Echo speaker. Alexa can read Kindle books that are authorized for Text to Speech or Screen Reader Enabled. It seems that a majority of books are eligible; just be sure to check before you buy a Kindle book.
Alexa will also read your Kindle and Audible books on an iOS or Android device, although it's not quite as hands-free or as agreeable as it is on an Amazon device. In this case, you would open the Alexa app and tap the button to ask.
How to Ask Alexa
Kindle Alexa commands:
Read my Kindle book "To Kill A Mockingbird".
Skip Back/Skip Ahead
It is Alexa's very own familiar voice that reads the Kindle books, and she's a very good reader. Audible books are read by an array of professional readers including authors, actors, and celebrities.
We are excited to announce that you can now reach out to a LEGO representative directly in the "Be My Eyes" app to receive real time video assistance with LEGO® products and services!
Reaching out to a LEGO representative through the Be My Eyes app is quick and easy: choose Specialized Help on the homepage of the app, select "Games and Toys" and click on 'LEGO Group' to open their profile. From here, you can start a call and get connected with one of their agents to receive real-time visual support! You can also visit the LEGO Group's profile on "Be My Eyes" by clicking on these links:
If you are based in the NA region (Canada, USA), you can visit LEGO's profile here.
If you are based in the EMEA region (Belgium, France, Ireland, Luxembourg, Switzerland, United Kingdom), you can visit LEGO's profile here.
You can receive visual support from LEGO representatives in a wide range of topics, like:
Unboxing a new LEGO set.
Reading building instructions.
Identify bricks and get real time video assistance while building your favorite LEGO set.
Navigate the LEGO Group's website and discover new LEGO sets in their store.
Learn more about the LEGO Group's products and services. And much more!
LEGO Group support on "Be My Eyes", is available from September 1st in the following countries: Belgium, Canada, France, Ireland, Luxembourg, Switzerland, United States and United Kingdom. The service is available both in English and French, and you can reach out to LEGO representatives Monday through Friday 10am to 4pm in your local time zone.
Learn more about our partnership with the LEGO Group in our new blog post!
PS: Do you know someone who can benefit from this new service? Make sure to forward this email to them and invite them to join Be My Eyes!
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 through 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: