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Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Standing on One Foot: Reflections on Sports and Recreation


By Kevan Worley

In the 1990’s and on into the first decade of the 21st century, the National Federation of the Blind published a series of little booklets comprised of stories, observations, and essays from our members. We call these booklets kernel books. The purpose was to educate the public about the true nature of blindness. They provided what you might call “more than a kernel of truth” to refute some of the myths and misconceptions that people, both blind and sighted, hold about us. One of my favorites from the series is “Standing on One Foot.” Dr. Kenneth Jernigan, editor of this collection of short stories, began with an essay bearing the title of the book.

Over the past few years, the Federation has established a special interest division for people who are blind and interested in sports and recreation. What does this growing division of the Federation have to do with standing on one foot? Can blind people stand on one foot as easily as the sighted? The perspective offered by Dr. Jernigan may surprise you. Can we practice yoga, Thai Chi, compete in long distance running, swimming, biking, or wrestling? How do we enjoy adapted games like beat ball or goal ball? What are the barriers, which might keep us from maximizing health and wellness? What collective action might we take through this division of the Federation to achieve greater access to integration in athletics, and the more active leisure pursuits. What is the social conditioning which might inhibit our involvement in sports and recreation?

As the Colorado affiliate launches our new sports and rec division, the questions posed above and the one posed by Dr. Jernigan’s vignette may be interesting to contemplate. Is it more difficult for the blind to balance on one foot? Here is the link to the short essay.https://nfb.org/images/nfb/publications/books/kernel1/kern0602.htm. It is about seven regular Braille pages. Read. Discuss. Decide. And determine to jump in with both feet and live the life you want. Or, as Dr. Jernigan said “we should have faith in ourselves and keep both feet firmly on the ground, but we should also know that sometimes we will be found standing on one foot.”

National Federation of the Blind of Colorado to Welcome Leaders from Across the Nation at 60th Annual State Convention


National Federation of the Blind of Colorado to Welcome Leaders from Across the Nation at 60th Annual State Convention

by Kevan Worley

They will come from Georgia, Tennessee, New Mexico, Oregon, California, just some of the affiliates to be represented at this weekend’s convention of the NFB of Colorado October 30 through the morning of November 2 at the Denver Marriott South at Park Meadows. Why do they come? They come for Colorado hospitality, a welcoming spirit, and Federation camaraderie. They come for a dynamic, informative, entertaining, program that highlights possibilities for people who are blind. They come because it is a program that directly deals with the challenges all of us who are blind face to live the lives we want, ensuring the protection and advancement of our civil rights, rehabilitation reform, Braille literacy for all who want it, access to technologies of every kind, and application. They come for the personal stories of pain, transformation, and triumph. It will be an inspiring agenda. NFB of Colorado has set a standard of excellence often envied and often emulated.

Over this past year, our affiliate chapter and community development director, Jessica Beecham, and I have been honored to travel to our California affiliate for some targeted chapter building and member engagement. The beauty of a national Federation family is how we share what works from affiliate to affiliate. This weekend, the President of the NFB of California, veteran activist, and longtime teacher of blind students, Mary Willows, will be with us. We will also welcome the new treasurer of the NFB of California, Rochelle Houston. We are especially proud to have these two dynamic Federation women with us.

They will hear the first banquet address ever delivered by James Brown of Tennessee, the President of our Tennessee affiliate. Last summer, James Brown was elected to the Board of Directors of the National Federation of the Blind. This weekend, he will serve as National Representative for the first time.

But wait, there is more. Terry C. Smith is also from Tennessee. Terry is the Business Opportunity Specialist for the National Federation of the Blind Entrepreneur Initiative. He will report to our convention on issues and actions of importance to people who are blind in business. Terry directed Services for the Blind in Tennessee for many years before retiring two years ago to take on his current position providing analysis and advocacy in the area of Randolph-Sheppard and entrepreneurship for the Federation.

Those who are regular readers of this Blind Coloradoan blog know about the dreadful condition of the Colorado division of Vocational Rehabilitation. As a director who built strong rehab programs for the blind in Tennessee, Terry will be appalled at the woeful state of vocational training and employment placement services available, or should we say not available, to Colorado’s blind citizens. Perhaps, he will have suggestions from the perspective of a director who built a high quality program in the volunteer state. While here, he may volunteer to advise and assist less committed Colorado bureaucrats.

Also attending, Carla McQuillan, President of the NFB of Oregon, has been with us before. Carla always brings her unique perspective and special brand of humor. Curtis Chong, Treasurer of the NFB of New Mexico, and longtime Federationist, is nationally respected for his knowledge of, and advocacy for, appropriate access technology.

Mellissa Smith, no relation to Terry, is also from Tennessee. She will be attending her first NFBCO state convention.

For some of our Federation family members, the Colorado State Convention is a homecoming of sorts. Garrick Scott, President of the NFB of Georgia, attended the Colorado Center for the Blind.

Members of our Federation family, from across the nation, will Twist and Shout with us on Thursday evening as Art Schreiber, another out-of-stater, New Mexico, brings his tales of travels with the Beatles to life along with the music of Colorado’s own Fab 4 Beatles tribute band. Tickets are still available for that event. Out of state colleagues will take part in our deaf-blind seminar, an action-packed sports and recreation session. We know they will enjoy a scary good time on Friday evening as chapters host Halloween hospitality. They will observe our blind students in action, and I bet there will be some fundraisers in which they can participate. We will be glad to have their cash for the cause.

In the Federation, we share a common bond of love, hope, kinship, and determination. So, to our out-of-state friends, our family is your family. We welcome your wit, wisdom, and enthusiasm. We hope we have some ideas you can take home to help you build the Federation. We know you will enjoy your Colorado convention experience. We hope you will return home inspired to reach for new heights of excellence. Above all, welcome and have fun.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The Current State of DVR: DVR Director Demoted After Only One Year


DVR Director Demoted After One Year

One year nearly to the day after starting as Colorado DVR's new Director, Joelle Brouner was  demoted on October 6, adding insult to the injury already inflicted on nearly 9,000 Coloradans with disabilities since the state's vocational rehabilitation program nose-dived into an all-categories waiting list in early 2013. 

The move by DVR's umbrella agency, the Department of Human Services (DHS) triggered a flurry of angry and concerned e-mails from disability advocates, as well as the resignation of Josh Winkler as Co-chair of DVR's State Rehabilitation Council (SRC) in protest. 

In his letter of resignation to Governor John Hickenlooper Winkler wrote, "I am writing to formally resign my position on the State Rehabilitation Council (SRC) in protest of the demotion of Joelle Brouner from Executive Director of the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR) ... by the upper management at the Department of Human Services (CDHS). I will not serve on behalf of an administration that doesn’t support the employment of people with disabilities in professional jobs, including state government jobs."

Blind Coloradans are all too aware of the crisis that Colorado's state-federal program has been in since early 2013.  It is a crisis that was years in the making, and which saw DVR's previous Director Nancy Smith quietly eased out of view and out of state employment while Coloradans with the highest priority disabilities were put on hold for a year and longer.

Steve Anton, previously serving as a financial staffer in the Disability Determination unit, has been named as Interim Director.  He has no background in Vocational Rehabilitation, but is a self-styled “numbers guy.”  Brouner, who has spent her career in Rehabilitation and has a refreshingly strong grasp of the program’s intent as well as the Rehabilitation Services Administration’s regulations and policies,  has been moved to a newly created position as Director of Client Relations.

The Questions

The NFB of Colorado is left with a lot of questions about DVR's viability as an agency though, to be completely fair, we've had a number of them for years.

What problem does Brouner's re-assignment fix for DVR, an agency that had clearly gotten into the worst mess in the United States? 

“Everybody’s watching Colorado,” an administrator of a neighboring state’s VR program told us about Colorado’s dramatic  entry into what the Rehab Act calls “Order of Selection.”  “This has never happened before.” 

That is, no state VR program has so dramatically ended up with a waiting list, and no waiting list has ever grown as large as Colorado’s had.  Despite the enormity of the problems, Brouner was slowly beginning to get the results that her superiors and the auditors and the Governor seemed to want.

And what is the plan now?  DHS says it will soon announce a search for a new administrator.  Who do they think they can possibly attract to the job?  What qualified Rehabilitation administrator would possibly consider Colorado’s DHS a good prospective employer?  Make no mistake, DVR needs someone who knows Rehab and can walk the thin line of running an effective VR program while keeping the numbers crunched satisfactorily. 

Are we destined to the start-and-stop approach for the long run?

Have DHS administrators ever driven with a clutch, or only an automatic?

Chugga, chugga, chugga.

Brouner’s Year

Only eight days after taking the DVR job, Brouner came to our 2013 convention in Colorado Springs.  She was hired in October, 2013 after Colorado experienced the worst disaster in Vocational Rehabilitation since the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, which marks the beginning of the modern history of the program.  During her one-year tenure, though with a lot of drag from her DHS superiors, Brouner managed to open the waiting list  which was in danger of becoming larger than DVR's active clients at the time (It was approaching 7000 names), and removed about 4000 of those names from the waiting list.  Another 1000 or so names were removed this month after her demotion.

Brouner came on board only two months before the devastating Legislative Audit Council's report of December 10, 2013 – an audit that DHS Director Reggie Bicha called for.  That report found serious fiscal and administrative failures in DVR, and made 64 major recommendations to address them.  Most of the recommendations were without question necessary and overdue, but some were draconian and completely out of synch with Rehabilitation Act's strong requirements for individualized plans and informed choice.  Coming so late in the audit process, it certainly appeared that Brouner was given little if any latitude in negotiating those recommendations.  Nonetheless, 58 of 64 of those recommendations were implemented in the ten months prior to her demotion.

She was doing what was asked of her.    In fact, in the Gubernatorial Disability Forum on September 26 both Governor Hickenlooper and challenger Bob Beauprez  stated that DVR was on the right track thanks to Brouner's leadership.  The forum was live-streamed by Metropolitan State University and the Denver Post, and was re-broadcast on KCDO-TV in half-hour segments the same week that Brouner's demotion was announced.

On July 29, the Colorado Cross-disability Coalition (CCDC) announced that Brouner would be one of its Annual ADA Access Award recipients for 2014.  CCDC chose Brouner "for her commitment and efforts to fix the Colorado Vocational Rehabilitation Program …"

In addition, DVR held four public hearings in April on its state plan - its first public hearings in seven years.  Federal rules require the submission of a plan for providing services from every state, and states are also required to seek and consider public comment.  DVR's four hearings were a little ragged around the edges, but it should be commended and encouraged for getting back in the saddle.  After seven years, there surely was very little organizational memory about how to do a public hearing.

The Spin
In response to e-mails of outrage from disability advocates, including other members of the SRC, DHS Deputy Director Viki Manley tried to put an astonishing spin on things, claiming that not only was the move mutually agreed-upon, but that Brouner actually sought the change.

Sure, and ketchup is a vegetable.

But there is another question on our minds – how does DHS just create a new position in state government?  Where did the money come from?  Is this a political move made with some sort of unencumbered funds from somewhere?  And if it is more or less a political appointment of sorts, just how secure is this position, which reports say still doesn’t have a job description?

Apparently, Manley and DHS Director Reggie Bicha weren’t keeping Hickenlooper in the loop.  That, or fixing DVR is no longer a political priority.

Really, the question is whether we can expect DHS to ever show itself capable of understanding, let alone administering, a successful vocational rehabilitation program in the state of Colorado.  DHS has shown itself to be utterly clueless as to the purpose and nature of vocational rehabilitation and indifferent to the Coloradans with disabilities who apply looking for a hand up.  We should expect what they have shown us so far – mismanagement, misdirection and obfuscation. 

Chugga, chugga, chugga

FREE HOTEL SHUTTLE


 As you all know convention is just around the corner. We look forward to seeing everyone at 10345 Park Meadows Dr. Lone Tree, CO on October 30-November 2. When planning to attend convention  transportation is one of our biggest considerations. This year we are very lucky that the Marriott Denver South Park Meadows is just off the light rail!

For those of you who are traveling to convention via light rail  (hotel is a 6 minute walk from Lincoln Station) or who have plans to go out and paint the town red, green, purple, or maybe glitter pink, here is some information that you might find useful. If you have a room booked at the Marriott Park Meadows South you may use the hotels free shuttle service. The service runs within 8 miles radius of the hotel. The shuttle runs from 7am-11pm. You should try to make a reservation a couple of days in advance on your way to the hotel to make sure you get a seat. Call the hotel at 303-925-0004. You can try calling when you arrive but there is no guarantee you will have a spot. If you are already at the hotel and wish to go somewhere else just go see the fron t desk and let them know.  Happy ravels and see you at convention!

Monday, October 20, 2014

Halloween Fun at NFBCO State Convention

Halloween Fun at NFBCO Convention!

If you see zombies, witches, princesses, ghosts, and other mythical creatures with canes walking around the Marriott Park Meadows South on Friday, October 31 don't be surprised it is Halloween FUN! 

Join us for some good o'l Halloween fun!
  • candy
  • games
  • prizes
  • costume contest with CASH prize
  • Karaoke contest with CASH prize
  • cash bar FOR ADULTS ONLY
Put on your costumes, learn the words to your favorite song, and come have a good time with the National Federation of the Blind of Colorado

Art Schreiber's Interview on KEZW

Listen to Art Schreiber and Scott LaBarre's morning interview with KEZW.

https://www.nfbco.org/library/Art_Schreiber_Interview.mp3

To purchase your Beatlemania tickets go to http://nfbco.org/beatlemania

Emma Crawford Memorial Coffin Run



Exciting news from the Colorado Springs Chapter of the National Federation of the Blind. This Saturday, we will participate in the great Emma Crawford Memorial Coffin Race. Who says we don't find interesting ways to reach out to the community?

Emma Crawford Memorial Coffin Race
Saturday October 25
800 block of Manitou Ave.
Parade at 12:00 p.m.
Races begin at 12:30 p.m.

Our coffin will be the National Federation of the Blind and The Independence Center. Chapter member and Independence Center consumers are welcome to join in the parade and we have signs for people to carry. Join us in cheering our team on. Three of our chapter members will be participating in the race: Randy Hampton, Mike Jackson, and Jeanette Fortin. Call Jeanette Fortin at 719-332-7549 if you have any questions. During the late 1990s, our Colorado Springs chapter built and raced a coffin in this quirky Manitou Springs event. It is a classic annual Halloween event. Come join us for the fun. It should be a spooktacular good time. For more information about the legend of Emma Crawford, visit http://www.emmacrawfordfestival.com/emma-crawford.html.



Thursday, October 16, 2014

Throw Back Thursday Art Schreiber


Today we are throwing it back to Art Schreiber who was on the first U.S tour of the Beatles 50 years ago (1964). Besides touring with the Beatles, Art has done all kinds of cool stuff. Check out Art's Brief Bio below and purchase your tickets for "Twist and Shout" Beatlemania October 30 Marriott Denver South 10345 Park Meadows Dr. Lone Tree, CO.

For tickets call 303-778-1130 x 223 or visit www.nfbco.org/beatlemania


ARTHUR A. SCHREIBER
A Brief Biographical Account


Arthur A. Schreiber was eight years old and living on an Ohio farm when he first began listening to the radio. He promised himself that one day the voice coming over the airwaves would be his voice. He kept the promise.

After two years in the U.S. Army and earning a college degree, he got his first job with a radio station in East LIverpool, Ohio. He began work as a radio news broadcast reporter. Eventually his career took him to California where he became general manager of KFWB-­‐AM in Los Angeles. For a time, he also ran Westinghouse Radio’s national and international news service operations in Washington D.C.

During his career in radio broadcast news, Art interviewed such notables as John F. Kennedy, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Beatles.

Eventually his radio broadcast career took him to Albuquerque, New Mexico, where he was general manager for KOB-­‐AM and KOB-­‐FM, two of the state’s major broadcast radio stations, owned at the time by Hubbard Broadcasting, Inc.

His life changed dramatically when he became legally blind in 1982.
After facing total despair, Art plotted his return to the top while learning to live life in a new way in a new world. His refusal to fold his tent when his eyesight failed and his struggle to live life to the fullest will inspire any person who reads his story. Art’s greatest reward in life is encouraging and motivating others who face similar challenges. 

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Convention Message from Scott LaBarre

In this video, our President, Scott Labarre tells us about the upcoming NFBCO State Convention! If you haven't booked your room at the Marriott South Park Meadows book it today 303-925-0004!

https://www.youtube.com/edit?o=U&video_id=jpchLipyc-c


Thursday, October 2, 2014

Throw Back Thursday: The Blind Buzz


Today we are throwing it back to the Blind Buzz, one of our favorite silly, whitty, snarky columnists from the old "The Blind Coloradan" newsletter. Buzz shares goofy gossip while giving important   information and blindness related matters across Colorado. In the 2013 Labor Day Edition of the Blind Coloradan Buzz gives us "the buzz" on writing resolutions.  Read what Buzz had to say in September of 2013 followed by a blurb on resolutions written by Kevan Worley. We hope this throw back inspires you to put the stylus to slate and write some 2014 resolutions

Blind Buzz
By: Buzz

From the Editor: Blind Buzz is a column which will have announcements, notes, vignettes, profiles, assertions, snap-shots, rumors, innuendo and observations. Blind Buzz is solely responsible for the content. What’s happening? Blind Buzz wants to know.

Our friend, Mark Lucas, Executive Director of the United States Association of Blind Athletes, based in Colorado Springs has won another award.  He is the 2013 recipient of the American Optometric Association (AOA) Distinguished Service Award.

Looks like it was another busy summer for Colorado kids of all ages!  We don’t know how they do it!  Every summer the Colorado Center for the Blind programs seem to get bigger, better, and bolder.  The programs educated and entertained kids from 4 to 92.  For the little kids, a Louis Braille carnival day starring Louis Braille himself.  They had a high school Earn and Learn event, as well as college and senior citizen programs.  That place must have been a buzz!
Congratulations to Arielle Silverman, longtime Federation member.  She married Jason Gwinn in Boulder on September 1st.  She and Jason met at CU and are completing their doctoral studies together.

Buzz welcomes Dan Burke to Colorado.  He has come to us from Montana.  He was the longtime President of the National Federation of the Blind of Montana.  Dan served for many years on the NFB National Board of Directors.  Dan is now directing a number of programs in the areas of transition and college preparedness for the blind.  Travis Moses moved from Colorado to Montana a number of years ago and is now the President of the NFB of Montana.  Rumor has it that The Buzz may be traded to Wyoming for a player to be named later.

Senator Michael Bennet’s office in Washington, DC tells the Buzz that they received many emails and well over 100 calls from Colorado citizens in early August just prior to the vote of the Senate Help Committee on the authorization of the Workforce Investment Act.  Unfortunately, Senator Bennet was 1 of 18 votes for the markup of the bill.  The bill would continue to encourage payment of subminimum wages to people with disabilities.

Maryann Migliorelli wishes to thank her Federation family for their continued support throughout her college and career endeavors.  Your encouragement has given her the drive to become an entrepreneur with Migliorelli Magic Moments, her own events management company.

Buzz congratulates Jack Riley.  Jack is a blind businessman operating food services at Schriever Air Force Base.  Jack provided a compelling overview of his distinguished career and insight into the management he provides at his large troop dining facility.  He addressed the 150 delegates attending National Training Conference on business enterprise procurement sponsored by the Rehabilitation Services Administration in Baltimore, MD.
Buzz wonders how many teachers at Colorado School for the Deaf and Blind are certified to teach Braille?

WHEREAS, the blind of Colorado gather in convention each year to discuss, debate, and decide how best to build futures full of equality of opportunity based on the common sense philosophy of the National Federation of the Blind; and

WHEREAS, Federationists assembled at the annual convention often consider policy statement of fact and principle which guide the activities of the affiliate in the months and years ahead; and

WHEREAS these policy statements are adopted in the form of resolutions; and

WHEREAS, these resolutions often commend or condemn actions taken by those in positions of power and influence with respect to blind Coloradans; and

WHEREAS resolutions also may set forth principles, systems, or plans intended to guide and govern our affiliate; and

WHEREAS, the President of the affiliate appoints a committee to consider resolutions brought by the members; and

WHEREAS, this committee consists of one member of each chapter or division as appointed by the chapter or division President with the approval of the National Federation of the Blind of Colorado President; and

WHEREAS, any member of the National Federation of the Blind of Colorado may offer a resolution for consideration; and

WHEREAS, the deadline for submission of resolutions for the 2013 convention is Monday, October 7th; and

WHEREAS, the committee in its discretion may consider resolutions submitted after this deadline although it is not required to do so; and

WHEREAS the committee will meet at 7 pm on Friday October 18th to consider resolutions which if passed will be presented to the delegates assembled in general sessions during the weekend typically during the Sunday morning business session.  Now, therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED that all resolutions be submitted to the Chairman Brent Batron, Second Vice President, by email at bbatron@cocenter.org by close of business Monday October 7th; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that any member offering a resolution must be present at the Friday evening committee meeting to advocate for his or her policy recommendation.

That’s the Buzz on resolutions.
And on a final but very appropriate note for this Labor Day issue, renowned labor leader John L. Lewis once proclaimed “Let the workers organize. Let the toilers assemble. Let their crystallized voice proclaim their injustices and demand their privileges. Let all thoughtful citizens sustain them, for the future of Labor is the future of America”.
That’s the Buzz for this issue.

Lets Go Write a Resolution!
By: Kevan Worley

Convention is coming. Convention is many things to many people. It is a weekend of empowerment, training, inspiration, job exploration, Beatlemania, and fellowship. The NFB of Colorado state convention is also the place where consideration of issues, which affect the lives of all blind people in Colorado take place. At the convention, we consider statements of policy, which set the agenda for the actions of our affiliate. These policy statements are in the form of resolutions. These resolutions become the official policy of the organization. In these resolutions, we clearly state the problem or acknowledge the accomplishment. We then offer criticism, commendation, or solution. Do you have high praise to offer an individual, agency, or organization, which has made a difference in the lives of the blind of Colorado? Do you have a concern about unmet needs, which should be acknowledged and acted upon by the members of the National Federation of the Blind of Colorado? If so, offer a resolution on the matter to be considered by the convention. The resolutions committee will meet Friday morning, October 31st, during the convention at 8:30 a.m. Deadline for resolution submissions is Friday, October 17. Please contact Tom Anderson, or Brent Batron, co-chairs of our resolutions committee for information or explanation. 303-778-1130. The resolution process is part of our National Federation of the Blind democracy in action.