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Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Your Thanksgiving Blind Coloradan

(Up there on top you got the NFB of Colorado Who’s It)

Blind Coloradoan Blog November 21, 2018

Here is what you need to know in brief.
The most recent state convention of the National Federation of the Blind of Colorado was one for the history books. One of the highlights was the seminar entitled “How Did We Get Here?” The attendees were able to interact with a distinguished panel facilitated by Dan Burke, co-editor of this Blind Coloradoan Blog. The powerful panel included Dr. Marc Maurer, President Emeritus and the longest-serving President of the National Federation of the Blind; Diane McGeorge, Founder and now Chair of the Colorado Center for the Blind Board of Directors and long-time President of the NFB of Colorado; Peggy Chong, the Blind History Lady and Recipient of a 2018 Dr. Jacob Bolotin Award; and Madeline Williams, Ph.D. candidate in history at Harvard. The Blind Coloradoan will feature pieces of that history in future additions. 
In last month’s Blind Coloradoan, we wrote of the Mission to Nocterra, a pitch-black puzzle room intended to put sighted and blind people on equal footing. As you walked in you were told about how we found an alien vessel containing samples of the Nocterran planet, whose sun emits all wavelengths except light.  Each of the five walls inside had a unique puzzle to explore and solve and each person entering got one wall for herself for the 10-minute allotted time. This exhibit was brought to the convention by the Colorado Center for the Blind. I am sure it won’t be the last time people will be able to enjoy this escape room. The lines were long, so I did not get a chance to try it. During October and November, one fun Fall adventure often taken by some of my friends is to ramble through a corn maze. I have always wanted to try it. I wonder how me and my trusty guide dog, Onyx, would do? 
And now, for audience participation, we describe the escape room as a pitch-black puzzle room. I am curious, if someone asks you what you see as a blind person what do you say? Being totally blind I am often asked, well what do you see? One response that often occurs to me is, “well, interested sighted person, what do you see out of the back of your head. It’s not dark. It’s just nothingness.” Dear reader, does that make any sense to you? Thoughts? 
Speaking of seeables, a.k.a., pictures, I need yours. We have colleagues and friends who would like to see pictures of the things we do. So, take some pictures. Send them to me. How about a selfie with you and your turkey. Just an idea. Seriously, I need pictures! Otherwise we have five or six pages of unbroken text. Makes your eyes hurt, your ears ache, and your fingers blistered with all that text. 
Let’s chat chapter. Don’t miss upcoming chapter meetings and holiday parties during December. Below, find a brief list for your consideration. 
·      Colorado Springs will have its annual Christmas part at Old Chicago on Academy and Austin Bluffs on Dec. 8th from 11 am to 2 pm. If you want to participate in the white elephant gift exchange, bring a wrapped gift valued no more than $10....that's right, $10 or under! 
·      Boulder Valley Chapter will have a Holiday Open House at Maryann Migliorelli’s house starting at 3 p.m. on December 8th. Contact her for more information,
·      Grand Valley Chapter will have its annual Christmas party December 7that the Center for Independence, 740 Gunnison Ave. They will also be gift wrapping at Barnes and Nobel. Contact Margaret Williams for more information about the dates and times, 970- 314-7676. 
·      Pueblo will have its annual Christmas party December 8thstarting at noon at 85 Stanfort Ave.
·      Denver invites you to their chapter holiday festivities, Colorado Center for the Blind, 2233 West Sheppard Saturday, December 15th from 10 a.m. until whenever. They will wrap it up around 1 or 2. Cheers!  
If you would like us to chat about your chapter send me the information. 
Next Fundraiser for the Blind Parent Division. A Christmas Carol. Date: Sunday, December 16, 2018. Time: 1:30 pm. Place: Stage Theatre. Ticket Price: $35. The show will be 2 hours and 30 minutes with an intermission. Essential to the holiday season in Denver, A Christmas Carol is a joyous and opulent musical adaptation that traces money-hoarding skinflint Ebenezer Scrooge's triumphant overnight journey to redemption. For information, I am told you can contact Lorinda Riddle, 303-778-1130, or email,
Do you have an Ebenezer Scrooge Award nomination? Which Ebenezer Scrooge do you hope will find redemption? Here is my list: National Accreditation Council (NAC), The AbilityOne Commission for deciding to establish a third central non-profit agency without consultation with the organized blind. How about Wal-Mart for their inaccessible self-checkout stations. What about Goodwill for continuing to pay many employees with disabilities sub-minimum wage. I look forward to hearing about your Scrooge Award nominations. 
And then there is this. Some have begun calling this the social event of the season. You can get the information by contacting Brad Basta, The Wild West Chapter and the Colorado Association of Blind Merchants invite you to their Holiday Soiree. Advance tickets are a must. Make your reservations with Brad, learn about the meal and ticket pricing. You never know who will attend. Last year I saw the power couple David and Maureen Nietfeld, and NFB of Colorado State President Scott LaBarre and First Lady Anahit LaBarre. And this year I saw the name of Steve Anton, Director of the Colorado Department of Vocational Rehabilitation on the guest list. 
Speaking of Steve. At the recent NFBCO Convention, we passed 7 resolutions. One of which offered our appreciation and congratulations to the Director of Vocational Rehabilitation Steve Anton and the soon-to-be retired Julia Zanon, Manager, Blindness and Low Vision Services. Almost three years ago they made it happen. They worked to ensure that Colorado now has a unique unit to provide targeted services to blind and low vision citizens. Resolution 2018-03 Regarding Colorado Blind and Low Vision Services reads, in part, “WHEREAS, this  unit  stood up  under  the leadership  and  stewardship of  the  Director of  the  Division of  Vocational  Rehabilitation  Steve Anton;  and  WHEREAS, the  unit  was nurtured,  developed,  and supervised  by  its first  manager  Julia Zanon  along  with her  team  of committed  professionals;  and WHEREAS,  Julia  Zanon has  served  the blind  of  Colorado with  professionalism,  grace, and  distinction  for almost  30  years; and  WHEREAS,  Blind and  Low  Vision Services  (BLVS)  Manager Zanon  will  retire at  the  end of  2018;  and WHEREAS,  BLVS  has garnered  acclaim  from clients,  employers,  and stakeholders  including  the National  Federation  of the  Blind  for the  immediate  impact the  unit  has  had  on the  lives  of hundreds  of  Colorado’s citizens  who  are blind  and  low vision:  Now,  therefore, BE  IT  RESOLVED by  the  National Federation  of  the Blind  of  Colorado in  Convention  assembled this  twenty  sixth day  of  October, 2018,  in  the City  of  Lone Tree,  Colorado,  that this  organization  commend the  Director  of  the  Colorado Division  of  Vocational Rehabilitation  Mr.  Steve Anton  for  his community  spirit,  dedication to  the  Blind and  Low  Vision Services  mission,  and his  unwavering  quest to  understand,  communicate, collaborate,  and  lead with  kindness  and warmth;    and BE  IT  FURTHER RESOLVED  that  we applaud  our  blind sister  and  first manager  of  the Blind  and  Low Vision  Services  unit Julia  Zanon  for more  than  29 years  of  dedicated service  to  the blind  of  Colorado; and    BE  IT FURTHER  RESOLVED  that this  organization  pledge to  continue  working closely  with  BLVS to  ensure  that all  Colorado  citizens are  given  the opportunity  to  open the  doors  which will  allow  us to  live  the lives  we  want.” The entire text of resolutions can be heard on NFB Newsline and you will soon find them up on the NFBCO website. There is even one about blind hockey! Big thanks to the NFBCO Resolution Committee co-chairs Dan Burke and Brent Batron. Big thanks to Chris Parsons for her help with proofreading and other tasks. 
I challenge you! The National Federation of the Blind Braille Readers are Leaders contest is now open! So is the Braille Challenge. The Braille Challenge: Students in grades 1-12 are invited to compete in a series of five skills contests demonstrating braille reading and comprehension, speed and accuracy, spelling, proofreading, and tactile graphics. Colorado Regionals. Students test your skills at one of two locations!   
Colorado School for the Deaf and the Blind Regional Braille Challenge
•          Thursday, January 17, 2019
•          9:00 a.m.-2:30 p.m.
          Colorado School for the Deaf and the Blind
           33 North Institute Street
          Colorado Springs, CO 80903
Denver Metro Regional Braille Challenge 
•          Thursday, January 24, 2019
•          9:30 a.m.-3:00 p.m.           
Colorado Center for the Blind
2233 W. Shepperd Avenue
Littleton, CO 80120 
Permission forms must be signed and returned by January 10, 2019.
Please contact Diane Covington with questions and for the permission form, or 719-578-2225.

Calling all kids, teachers, and parents! The National Federation of the Blind of Colorado, in partnership with the NFB Jernigan Institute and The American Action Fund for Blind Children and Adults, announces the annual Nation-wide Braille Readers Are Leaders (BRAL) contest for kids. Entrants compete to read the most Braille pages, going against other students in similar grades across all participating states. The contest runs for seven weeks, encouraging students to be proud of their Braille reading ability and to work to improve their Braille skills -- while possibly winning prizes in the process. For each student who enters, a certifying official (parent, teacher, etc.) must fill out and submit a registration form,

In the words of that fun NFB song, sung to the tune of Jingle Bells, “Braille is here. Braille is here. Braille is here to stay!” Once again, the National Federation of the Blind is helping Santa Claus send letters in Braille to young blind children across the country. More than ten years ago, Santa asked us to be his honorary elves. Ever since, we have been helping him send letters in contracted Braille to blind boys and girls who are ten years old and younger in the United States.  Along with the Braille letter, Santa includes a print letter so that parents who might not read Braille can follow along.  He also includes a fun tactile coloring sheet. To make a request, fill out the online form located at  Requests must be received no later than December 14 so that Santa’s letter will arrive before Christmas.

Washington Seminar is just around the corner. A number of NFBCO members will be heading to visit our Colorado Congressional Delegation in D.C. Festivities kick off on Monday, January 28. We will be on Capital Hill trying to educate members of the Colorado Congressional Delegation on Tuesday the 29thand Wednesday the 30th. The planning begins now! For information about the work we will do you can contact Dan Burke at 303-778-1130. If you have a personal connection with one of our Colorado members of congress talk with Dan about it. There may be some funding available to help members defray costs. Stay tuned for further information. Just one more good reason to read your Blind Coloradoan. 

Here is a note from the National Federation of the Blind President Mark Riccobono. Scholarship Application Now Available. Every year through our scholarship program, we award more than $120,000 to blind scholars from throughout the United States in recognition of their achievements and professional aspirations. The scholarship application period opened on November 1 and runs through March 31, 2019. To learn more and to apply, please visit our new scholarship webpage at 
National Federation of the Blind of Colorado State Scholarship chair-person, Jessica Beecham, tells Santa that our state scholarship application form will be available for distribution December 15. Let’s make sure all students know about our robust! State and National Scholarship Programs!  

Thanksgiving Traditions. On Thanksgiving I will often watch the classic concert movie, The Last Waltz. I usually find time for the famous WKRP episode, “As God as my witness, I thought turkeys could fly.” And I always play Arlo Guthrie’s 25-minute anti-war folk ballad, Alice’s Restaurant. For those of you who do not know that song, it is all about Thanksgiving dinner, being busted for littering, and the draft board. It’s a great sing along! You ought to try it! But here is another tradition. You can listen to some of the most iconic NFB banquet addresses on NFB Newsline. Enjoy the spoken word version or the text version. The system currently is featuring speeches by Kenneth Jernigan, Marc Maurer, and Mark Riccobono. 
Start by pressing one off the main menu and enjoy. I mean, how much football can one person endure?! 

Who’s up for a little flag football sometime this weekend? I am reminded of the Jerry Whittle article about the flag football played at the Louisiana Center for the Blind. Yes, the blind can play football as adapted. Read all about it in the December 2012 Braille Monitor or the Summer 2013 Future Reflections. 

Scott LaBarre will be honored on November 29 at the first annual San Francisco Lighthouse Gala. Scott will be honored for his work to combat the book famine through the recently passed Marrakesh Treaty. NFBCO President LaBarre was appointed by Doctor Marc Maurer to lead our effort back in 2009. The President of the United States signed enactment legislation into law last month. Simply put, the treaty and related pieces of legislation will make it possible for more blind people of the world to access literature. Negotiation and passage of this far-reaching treaty was not an easy lift nor was it a forgone conclusion. On Thursday the 29th, our President LaBarre and our Federation will receive a well-deserved award. Congratulations President LaBarre! At this time of Thanksgiving we are grateful for the hard work you and your family do for the blind of Colorado and the world. 

I am making a personal appeal to you. It goes like this: 
1) Reach out to the parent of a blind child and tell them about Braille Readers are Leaders, The Braille Challenge, and how they can get their child a letter in Braille from Santa.
2) As you know, the Colorado Center for the Blind is a sister organization. We need to find ways to fund our CCB programs. I invite you to consider contributing to our Center on or before Colorado Gives Day. Spread the word. When we contribute on or before December 4, our contributions allow the Center to secure matching dollars from the Colorado Gives fund. I will be making my contribution before this newsletter is even published. Join me won’t you. If you have trouble making an online contribution call the Center and someone there can help you do it on the phone. As easy as pumpkin pie! Almost as sweet as Diane McGeorge fudge! And much better than Worley’s turkey! 

Did you vote? What was your experience? The Online Survey of Blind and Low Vision Voters Closes November 30th! Please complete the blind and low vision voter experience survey, the link to the survey is Red, Blue, or Purple if you voted we need to hear from you. There is no rhyme for purple. I was thinking that orange was the only word without rhyme. My Google search turns out that there are many. My favorite, you might imagine, is discombobulate. Whether your voting experience was easy or discombobulate we want to hear from you.

The Blind Coloradoan is aggregated by myself and Dan Burke. We need your feedback and material. We will edit as appropriate. I will make snide observations about it. And we will all be thankful for it. We aren’t promising a regular publication schedule, but we are working with our social media and NFB Newsline teams to bring you greater access to more current information about items in which you may have interest. We will be finding a space on our website and in social media and we will be posting all this information on NFB Newsline. We will also post on Colorado Talk and we will be developing other channels as we move forward. We will need your announcements and any brief observations. Just send me a note and we will get started. 

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