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.
I'm writing this message two days after our terrific picnic. The Edith Lester site at Martial Cottle park proved to be an ideal site. Other than occasional jets flying by, it was super quiet, which made it easy to converse. Victor sure hit the nail on the head when he recommended this site.
A huge shout-out to all our volunteers: To Carol, Joe, and Rachael, who shopped for all the non-perishable items, brought the raffle prizes, and helped set everything up. They also found Ben and Debby Schuler, who volunteered their time to cook for us. By the way, the hamburgers were juicy, and the sides were delicious, too. Naomi and Steve brought the perishable items, coordinated the volunteers and, as usual, helped everyone they could. Rounding out the volunteers were Anne, Claudia, Marc, and Roger, who made sure that everyone was served. Forgive me if I left anyone out.
I'll keep this short, because I'm getting ready to travel to Boulder Colorado to visit a friend, who I've known since the fourth grade. We both have our amateur radio licenses, and he just put up an antenna that will allow us to communicate with hams from all over the world. The last time we got together was seven years ago, so we will have lots of catching up to do. COVID isn't going away anytime soon, so I'll be wearing a mask on the airplane.
If you can, spend time outdoors to take advantage of this lovely Fall weather while it lasts.
Well now, what about the picnic? You missed it? shameful!
"I was there, but Master hardly noticed. He was too busy eating and talking. He actually had two cheeseburgers, one of which was mine. That's OK, because some nice person gave me a hamburger and a hotdog, which was actually hot, despite the feelings of many dogs of being called "hot." And I heard that Cora, Alice Turner's friend, is not guiding much anymore because her rear end is being difficult. Poor Cora, hang in there, girl!"
Yes, the picnic was great, and I hope we return to Martial Cottle Park next year. I never heard how much we made on the raffle, but I saw the bag of tickets, and it was pretty big. Thanks to all who made the picnic happen, and to those who celebrated with us.
We don't have a firm program for our October meeting, so be sure to check out the upcoming Phone Tree message.
Let's wish happy October birthdays to John Kanze, Donna Sanchez, and Michelle McGrew. They'll love you! And though Michelle is in Tennessee and no longer an SVCB member, we still hear from her in meetings through the Zoom connection.
Mickey Quenzer has undergone kidney surgery. He's been bothered by kidney stones for some time. Sandy, his wife, says it's no big deal, and to call him.
It is with sadness that I write to report the deaths of two people who have meant a great deal to many of us in our SVCB chapter.
First, I learned yesterday that Sharon Vaughn has passed away. I was her Phone Tree caller, and had tried for months and months to contact her for news of her health issues, and to offer our help and our caring, but I was never able to get a response. We have missed her at our meetings, and will miss her still.
Second, I also learned yesterday that Ernie Molina, Vista Center of San Jose's former Technology Access trainer, passed away two months ago. He led our monthly Apple Pie presentations, from September 2013 until his retirement, and trained me on my first iPhone, which was an iPhone 5. All of us who knew Ernie loved him for his patience, his humor, and his expertise, and I personally have missed him very much, ever since his retirement. I think it would be fitting to set aside a few minutes at our October meeting to share memories of these two special people, and then to hold a moment of silence in their honor.
Culture IQ, a multi-cultural research company based in Los Angeles, is working in conjunction with California Health Care Foundation (CHCF) and the California Department of Health Care Services (DHCS) to interview Californians with Medi-Cal to help improve the quality of information sent to the millions of people who receive Medi-Cal.
The interviews will be conducted via Zoom in October, and will last about 90 minutes. You will receive $200 after participating. We need Medi-Cal recipients 65 or older, and disabled or visually impaired people of any age who receive Medi-Cal. Everything about this research study is strictly confidential; we will not share any information or responses with the Medi-Cal program, DHCS, or CHCF. They also will not share any information with doctors or hospitals.
Contact Sandra Mendez at:
to see if you qualify.
-Town Hall with Uber Representatives
ACB hosted the first town hall with Uber representatives as a hybrid event during the Schaumburg convention, with in-person and virtual audience participation. We were joined by Briana Gilmore, Head of Accessibility Policy, and Chris Yoon, Product Manager, from Uber.
This session was posted on the ACB Media Network as the Advocacy Update podcast for Thursday, July 20, and is available at:
ACB encourages everyone who is wrongfully denied access to a ride-share service due to having a disability or due to the presence of a service animal to file a complaint directly with the U.S. Department of Justice. To file a civil rights complaint online, by phone, or by mail, go to:
-ACB Submits Comments on HUD's Advance Notice of Proposed Rule Making
ACB has submitted comments on the Department of Housing and Urban Development's Advance Notice of Proposed Rule Making (ANPRM) on Nondiscrimination on the Basis of Disability: Updates to HUD's Section 504 Regulations (Docket No. FR-6257-A-01c). ACB strongly urged HUD to require recipients of HUD funding to operate and maintain their websites pursuant to Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, or the most current version of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG); and further, to identify and post on their websites and public materials the standard (Section 508 or WCAG) that each recipient follows. ACB also urged HUD to expand the supply of accessible housing by extending residential accessibility requirements under Section 504 to include conversions of commercial facilities into multi-family developments, which are currently excluded under the Fair Housing Act, and requested that HUD require recipients to post on their websites and other printed materials the total number of units that meet the additional 5% units required for physical mobility, and the additional 2% for persons with hearing and vision disabilities. In addition, ACB urged HUD to increase the minimum number of accessible units that housing providers must have from 5% for physical access, and 2% for hearing/visual access.
Several of our members attended a meeting on July 13th at VTA to air their frustration with the declining quality of paratransit. We still have a long way to go to have transportation that is timely and well-organized, but we are living up to our name as a group committed to advocacy.
VTA is currently focused in its meetings with the public on long-range planning, rolling out a very ambitious plan called VPT2050. Their staff presented on this, at all of their summer meetings with their regular advisory boards, and they intend to hold several in-person events for the public throughout Santa Clara County, to unveil the plan. They also publish it on their website and are looking for feedback.
In my role on their Citizen's Advisory Committee, I've echoed the feedback of other members that public transportation must be more frequent, faster, and safer before most commuters will leave their cars behind. And of course, I've spoken up about accessibility for all folks.
Paratransit changes are not part of this plan, though VTA is fully aware of the need. VTA optimistically hopes that if buses are faster and more frequent, and if stops are closer together (all parts of their plan), the need for paratransit will lessen.
Unlike many transit agencies, VTA is devoted to getting federal, state, and county grants for all sorts of transportation issues, from noise abatement and road repair to initiatives that concern us more, like MicroTransit. For example, Via recently awarded two million dollars (not a typo) to the city of Palo Alto to start an on-demand MicroTransit service. Already piloted by Via in Cupertino and SMART in Milpitas, MicroTransit's purpose is to offer "last mile" transportation to the transit dependent. The idea is that people are picked up close to their home or work, and taken either to a destination within the city or to a transit hub. For example, in Milpitas, SMART takes people to BART, and in Cupertino, Via takes people to Caltrain.
MicroTransit typically doesn't have the flexibility of Uber or Lyft, because its grant is supposed to foster more riding of public transportation and get drivers out of their cars. There are usually designated pickup and drop-off points, though some services will deliver disabled people door-to-door. Rates are very low, however, SMART charges disabled folks just a dollar. MVgo in Mountain view actually reimburses people who use Uber or Lyft, midday, to leave work for lunch!
One downside for us is that the grants are issued to cities, so there's no service to transport you throughout the county. Much of the funding comes from 2016's Measure B, which imposed a half-cent sales tax to fund an estimated $6.5 billion in transit upgrades through the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA), which administers the monies countywide.
That leads to my final story: I am presenting at a convention in Monterey in October. I discovered that it takes about eight bus transfers to get from my home in Milpitas to that convention center, and takes approximately ten hours. This is because few buses cross county lines.
The safer way for me, unfamiliar with these counties, is to take VTA Access to the CalTrain station in San Jose. From there, I would take a highway 17 bus to Santa Cruz. From downtown Santa Cruz, I would take ParaCruz (the Santa Cruz County paratransit) to the Watsonville transit center. And from Watsonville, I'd take the Monterey County paratransit to the convention center. Monterey's buses (and therefore their paratransit) do not connect with VTA, and there's only the highway 17 bus to travel to Santa Cruz.
If you need to travel outside this county, track down the paratransit agencies in the counties you must cross. Get their eligibility fax numbers, and email or call VTA Access to have that eligibility faxed to those counties' paratransit agencies. This works well as far as eligibility goes. I know disabled faculty at De Anza who regularly ride VTA Access to BART, and then connect with paratransit in surrounding counties at their respective BART stations.
HOWEVER, this does not work well for timing. Often when one paratransit is late, the next transit receiving the client cannot wait, and so the client must sit at a transfer point for hours until a new ride arrives. Typical transfer points are Fremont BART for Alameda, and the V.A. hospital in Palo Alto for San Mateo County. The Gilroy transit center will also become a transfer point for Monterey County next year. In my last talk with ParaCruz, they said they had no plans to connect with Santa Clara County because the highway 17 bus is accessible enough.
If you need to ride multiple paratransit systems, be sure when scheduling your ride to have that indicated in your service notes. If one transit is late and causes you to miss your connection, it's important that you've documented that it's the transit service's fault. Otherwise, you could become stranded, as they will not send a second ride if they believe you were what is called a "no-show".
All over the country, we blind folks find it nearly impossible to cross county lines on a regular basis, a limitation that we must advocate against if we ever want to be on equal footing with our sighted peers.
(This information was sent to Mickey from Mike, BE My Eyes CEO)
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!
Learn more about our partnership with the LEGO Group in our new blog post!
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.
While perusing my weekly Tabard Theatre email, I came upon these two events that I thought might be of interest to some of you. Read on to find out what and when they are.
Battle of the Trios: Sunday, October 22.
5pm Doors Open, 6pm Show.
FREE! LOCAL! ECLECTIC!
This trio-themed contest challenges local musicians to a friendly music battle! Bands of three to four musicians are invited to sign up and show us what they've got! Audiences are invited to come hang out, grab a drink, enjoy the music, and cheer for their favorites.
This event is free. No sign up or advance reservation required to attend.
Barrio Manouche: Friday, November 3.
7pm Doors Open, 8pm Show.
Tickets required for this event. FLAMENCO! HOT CLUB! JAZZ!
Barrio Manouche transports its audience on a magical journey, with a unique fusion of cultures and musical landscapes... an auditory and visual feast like no other.
Founded by the Spanish guitarist and composer Javi Jiménez, the group combines the instrumentation and signature of Jazz Manouche, Modern Jazz, Flamenco, and Latin-American rhythms. Barrio's international roots shine brightly in their music, with members from Spain, Quebec, Colombia, France, Brazil, and the United States.
As always, you can call our box office at
408-679-2330 if you prefer to order tickets by phone, or visit
12 ounces lasagna noodles, cooked, drained and rinsed
Boiling salted water for cooking noodles
1 pound ricotta cheese
1 pound mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup Romano (or Parmesan) cheese
Directions for Italian Sausage Meat Sauce
Heat the butter and oil, and sauté the onion, carrot, and celery. Add the ground beef and sausage, and cook until meat is browned.
Stir in salt, basil, tomato puree, tomato paste, garlic, and wine. Cover and simmer for 1/2 hour.
Assembling the Lasagna
Put one third of the cooked noodles in a greased 9 by 13-inch baking pan. Top with one third of the meat mixture. Top with one third each of the ricotta and mozzarella cheeses. Repeat this process two more times.
Sprinkle with Romano (or Parmesan) cheese, and bake, uncovered, for 30-40 minutes.
Spiced Apple Simmer
From The Heart Cookbook, Pampered Chef
Makes thirty 3/4 cup servings.
2 quarts apple cider
2 cups orange juice
1 cup lemon juice
2 cans (46-ounce) pineapple juice
1 stick cinnamon
1 teaspoon whole cloves
In large Dutch oven, combine all ingredients, and bring to a boil over high heat.
I bet you will assume that Bev Clifford is writing this article, but you would be making a wrong assumption. For I am not Bev, though it may sound like her: I am GPT AI'S latest and greatest version of Bev (voice print and all), and I have been tasked with the job of organizing goodies for your 2024 meetings, if you believe that it is actually going to be 2024 in a little over three months. (To tell the truth, I, Bev's newest GPT AI version, feel as if I'm part of the 22nd century already.)
So back to my duty here. According to Bev's calendar (which I can access at any time of the day or night, without her knowledge or consent), all months in 2024 are free for any of you who wish to volunteer for this mundane (though very much appreciated) task of goodies person. Okay, it says here in one of Bev's past newsletter articles (which I can also access from Bev's BrailleSense 6 tablet, again without her knowledge or consent) that you are free to bring savories, sweets, fruit, or whatever else tickles your fancy, because you SVCB snackers will eat just about anything! That's what it says here, but I ask you now: is that really true? Well, assuming that it is, the quantity shown here in Bev's archived article is about 4 dozen of whatever-it-is you decide to make or buy, to bring to your chosen meeting. Hopefully it's something you enjoy eating yourself, but I don't have access to that information at this time, (more about that later). (You do realize, don't you, People, that a GPT AI cook or purchasing agent could most likely do this job much better than you can. So sorry if this makes you feel bad, but there it is.)
Now, knowing what I have told you, would any of you like to take the plunge and volunteer? If you're ready to dive in, you will need to contact Bev herself (it is not my job to monitor Bev's phones or emails. (At least not yet anyway.) So, you will need to call the SVCB phone number (1-888-652-5333) and leave a message for Bev, drop her an email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or look her up in your SVCB membership list, to contact her directly by phone or email. Do contact her ASAP to get your preferred month. If you don't, a GPT AI version of you in your area, may start nagging you in ways you cannot even imagine! just a warning, not a threat, really. I'm quite sure that Bev will be looking forward to hearing from you, although I can't read her mind at this point because she doesn't yet have the new microchip implanted in her head. (Those will be available soon for any interested consumer, so perhaps next year I can just reach out to each one of you individually and find out whether or not you'd like to volunteer.) In any case, just relax if you can, and anticipate with a smile the spectacular goodies to come in the year ahead.
GPT AI'S latest and greatest version of Bev Clifford
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: