Monday, November 22, 2021

November Blind Coloradoan

 


 

Blind Coloradoan Blog

November 24, 2021

Writer, Aggregator: Kevan Worley.
Contributors: Dan Burke & Erin Daley

Here is what you need to know-

Better late than never!

By the time you read this Thanksgiving will be upon us or you have just finished the last of the leftovers. This is probably my favorite Blind Coloradoan to assemble each year. Most of us have so much for which to be thankful. Of course, we have obstacles that we must confront as blind people, as well as the tumultuous times in which we all live. In this Thanksgiving issue, we will focus on the gratitude. In many ways, we reflect the struggles, machinations and disparities, injustice, and divisiveness all too prevalent in society. NFBCO members are a microcosm of society. We just happen to be blind. I submit that while rage, recrimination and rants roil around us, we who are blind, our families, and allies have a National Federation of the Blind for which to be extremely grateful. We are grateful for you, each and every one of our dear readers and members. As we gather with friends and families to celebrate this season, we give thanks for a strong, loving family, The National Federation of the Blind of Colorado. So, a happy giving of the thanks to you all. By the way, did you know that the names of the turkeys pardoned by President Biden are Peanut Butter and Jelly?

 

The 67th state convention of The National Federation of the Blind Of Colorado was held in Lonetree Colorado, October 28th - October 31st.

More than 150 joined the fun and wide-ranging deliberations and dozens more joined over zoom. (Imagine trying to explain to our organization founders a “hybrid convention?”) There is really no other way to describe this convention other than it was remarkable! We were grateful to have our national president, Mark Riccobono with us to provide a steller national report and a sturring banquet address. It was a convention of transition. Our long-time president Scott LaBarre decided to step away from the presidency, and we elected the energetic entrepreneur Jessica Beecham for a 2-year term. There will be much about the activities of the 2021 convention to report in this blog and blogs to come.

 

After her election to the presidency, Beecham made the following remarks:

“NFBCO is built on a foundation of tremendous leadership. Ray and Diane McGeorge and Scott LaBarre have led our affiliate to astounding heights.

Our Colorado Center for the Blind, outstanding advocacy efforts, and impactful legislative efforts have created an environment where blind leaders can flourish and thrive. As a result, we have a deep pool of leadership and talent.  if you are a blind person, there is truly no better place to live and there is certainly no better affiliate in which to serve.

Thank you for your trust and confidence in my ability to lead us into the next chapter. As President Riccobono mentioned, we have not found the limit of possible when it comes to the capacity of blind people. I look forward to working with each of you as we continue to push the envelope.

From time to time we may stumble, we will most certainly have some incredible successes and I am inspired and energized to think about all the ways we will continue to make life better for blind people.

Together with love, hope, and determination, let’s go build the National Federation of the Blind of Colorado.”

During the Thursday evening opening ceremonies an audio tribute to Scott LaBarre was played. Scott served as president for 16 years and he has been a member of the federation since 1986. You will enjoy Scott’s story and the voices of the people in Scott’s life. Enjoy the 22-minute audio tribute on our youtube channel. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jBTHYWe7gnI



 

Thankful for the resolute blind

Conventions are a time for informative seminars, camaraderie, and celebration. The hard work and heavy lifting we do throughout the year is very often a result of the policies on which we deliberate and pass in the form of resolutions during our annual convention business. This year the membership passed 7 resolutions deemed important to the blind of Colorado. These resolutions will power our work in the coming year and beyond.  Here are the titles of the 7 resolutions:

*Resolution Regarding an Accessible, Equitable and Inclusive Solution to Rideshare Pickup Locations at the Denver International Airport

*Resolution Regarding Commendations and Congratulations to Debbi MacLeod upon her retirement from many years of service to the Colorado talking book library

*Resolution Regarding the Inaccessibility of Remote Device Interfaces For Assistive Hearing Instruments

*Resolution Regarding Accessible Technology in Colorado State Government

*Resolution Regarding Rideshare Services in Colorado

*Resolution Regarding the Inaccessibility of Kronos

*Resolution Regarding the Danger that Leading Pedestrian Intervals Present to Blind Pedestrians

It is our understanding that some positive change has already resulted from our resolution concerning accessible technology in Colorado state government. We will be reporting on all of this work in upcoming blogs. The full text of each resolution will be found on our website nfbco.org. According to our new president, “we need all hands on deck, we are the blind of Colorado taking individual actions, collectively focused. So pick your passion. Pick your pleasure. And let's act on the policies we have set for ourselves”

 

Of little scavengers and rocketeers

On a Saturday in October aka blind achievement equality month, 8 school aged students and others came together for a tactile art scavenger hunt inside the Colorado Center for the Blind. The kids then built water rockets from 2-liter soda bottles and shot them off outside the north door of the Center. The lesson of course was all about propulsion, and each rocket was fitted with a sounding device that made it easy to audibly track the progress of the rocket after take-off. Some went left, some right, and one went straight up! Everyone had a wonderful time and we were all surprised to see how far the rockets soared.

The program combined NFBCO’s Learning Box program with CCB’s FAST (Fun Activities and Skills Training) programs. Of special help were CCB shop teacher Paul Stewart (a CCB grad) and CCB student Cragar Gonzales. Cragar graduated November 19 and returned to Houston where he is studying Atmospheric Science.

 

Learning box

From the aggregator: It has been at least a year since our private school initiative folks started teaming up with our Colorado association of blind parents for our monthly learning box adventure. Blind children and families come together over zoom for learning and fun. If you know of a child who might enjoy receiving their own learning box and the opportunity to learn and share with others please contact Michelle Chacon rascal.angel2@gmail.com. Here is what Michelle says about our December learning box program:

December 12, 2021 2:00 to 3:00 p.m.:

Which way should we go on the number line? Let’s learn about positive and negative numbers. Students will be provided with a Braille/large print number line. They will have opportunities to engage in math problems that would require use of the number lines.

Please register by December 6 to give us enough time to mai out the learning boxes. You can register at: https://cocenter.org/learning-box/

 

Braille readers are leaders

The American Action Fund for blind children and adults has launched this year's braille readers are leaders contest. The contest is open with categories for children and adults. Sign up today and try your hands. Put your fingers to work. Details and signup here https://actionfund.org/programs/braille-readers-are-leaders

 

Ho! Ho! Ho!

Every December, the National Federation of the Blind helps Santa send letters in Braille to young blind children across the country. Get your favorite blind child on Santa’s list today.  https://nfb.org/programs-services/early-childhood-initiatives/santa-letters/english-form

 

Curtis and Peggy Chong receive Raymond W McGeorge award

The highest honor a Colorado federationist can receive is the Raymond W McGeorge award. This year the award was presented to Curtis and Peggy Chong. This blind dynamic duo are leaders in our Aurora chapter. Peggy and Curtis move to Colorado from New Mexico only 3 years ago. They have served the organized blind movement wherever they lived throughout the nation in a career of service over 50 years. When the Chongs moved to town stuff gets done. Our readers know of Peggys work as the blind history lady. Readers know of Curtis for his technology expertise, his advocacy on the 16th street mall project, and his constant commitment and staunch leadership to ensure equal access to the ballot. But those descriptions fall short. The Chongs bring leadership, humor, and humanity to everything they do. It was not the technical expertise that made Ray McGeorge the leader and teacher so revered for over half-century, although he had technical expertise in many areas. It was Ray’s determined effort to do everything possible to build the federation. It was his wit, grace, and love. Therefore, honoring the Chongs was so appropriate. We lost Ray in 2010. Of course, Ray knew the Chongs. Ray would have been so proud and so are we. With much gratitude, we send our appreciation and love to Curtis and Peggy.

 

What I learned after using electronic ballot return during the coordinated election

By Curtis Chong

From the aggregator: I dare say, no one knows more about or has given more effort to how to bring true voting equality to disabled citizens of Colorado. Here’s what Curtis has to say about his most recent voting experience. Note, I'm pretty sure Jena Griswold, Colorado Secretary of State, and Curtis Chong are pretty much on a first-name basis.

We who are blind or print-disabled in Colorado now have access to a nonvisually-accessible system through which we can mark our ballots using the access technology with which we are most familiar and (now that SB21-188 is law) submit our marked ballots electronically without having to print or sign anything. With the advent of the November 2 coordinated election, I and several others decided to try the new ballot return system. I can tell you that I received quite a few calls and emails asking for help after the official ballots were mailed out on Friday, October 8. Based on those calls and my personal experience with the new voting system, I learned a few things which I want to share with those of you who are reading this article.

The first thing I learned was the importance of knowing how to find and upload files through the Internet. The electronic ballot return process requires the blind or print-disabled voter to upload three files: the ballot itself (in PDF format), the filled-in ballot application document (also a PDF file), and a picture of your identification document, usually the Colorado State ID. Each one of the three files needs to be uploaded separately. There is no way to select all of the files and upload them in a batch.

The second thing I learned was that the dialog which opens up when the voter activates the Print Or Download Your Ballot function is not the same dialog which opens up when the voter activates the Download Ballot Package function. The former brings up a dialog which assumes that something is to be printed, and the latter brings up a dialog which behaves as if you want to download something.

The third thing I learned is that if you have taken a picture of your Colorado State ID using your iPhone, the file which holds the picture may not be of the usual JPG variety. Instead, the iPhone creates a file type of HEIF (High Efficiency Image Format). HEIF files are currently not allowed when you try to upload your ID into the ballot upload system. The file must be converted into the JPG format. Fortunately, on Windows and/or an Apple Macintosh, there are utilities available to convert HEIF files to JPG. Also, there is a way on your iPhone to change the default format of pictures that are taken from HEIF to JPG.

1.         Unlock your iPhone or iPad, launch the "Settings" app on your device, and activate the "Camera" option.

2.         Activate "Formats."

3.         Activate “Most Compatible.” This will set the picture-taking format to JPG instead of HEIF.

The fourth thing I learned during this election was that when you go to the ballot upload page, your screen reader’s focus is set into the first edit field, which is where you would enter your first name. If you fail to move backwards toward the top of the page, you will miss all of the information and controls which enable you to upload the three files I was talking about earlier.

Looking at all of this with a broader perspective, I am more convinced than ever that accessibility and usability are two different things. Is Colorado’s electronic ballot delivery and return system accessible to nonvisual users? Yes, it is. Is it easy and efficient for a blind person to use with a screen reader? Not for everyone. The system is more usable to people who possess a high degree of situational awareness and the confidence and ability to find specific files on their systems. For blind people who do not feel comfortable with the complexity of the Worldwide Web, I fear that Colorado’s electronic ballot delivery and return system will not deliver the results which all of us are hoping for.

 

NFBCO Blind Parents Division elect leadership team

Monday evening October 25th our Blind Parent's Division held their annual meeting. The Blind Parents Division was founded to provide mutual support, advocacy, fellowship, and a forum to share tips and tricks. The board members who will lead the effort over the next year are Maureen Nietfeld, president, Shon Spears, vice president, Brittany Savage, secretary, Kevin Kovacs, treasurer, board members are Pipi Adams, Jo Elizabeth Pinto, Nate Trela, David Nietfeld.

 

Please just drive normally. A cartoon in words by Nate Trela. Stolen from Facebook with his permission.

Had a long and painful conversation with a parent today as I dropped off Suana at daycare. She asked questions about driving near a blind person and I really appreciate that, but man she would not listen.

Parent: I see you walking your little girl all the time. I was wondering, is there anything I can do when I'm driving around you that is helpful.

Me: That's nice to ask, but really, just driving normally is the best thing. The noise of the cars when I walk actually tells me a lot about what traffic is doing, what the road looks like, and where the cars are.

P: Oh, OK. But in the parking lot, would it help if I honked?

Me: No, not really. I hear the engine of the cars, everyone moves slowly through the lot and the echo from my cane lets me know if there is a parked car in front of me.

P: OK, but would the honking help?

Me: Uh, if everyone did that it would actually be pretty distracting. Just driving normally, yielding when you should, is great.

P: Oh, OK. Should I honk when I slow down?

Me: No. I can hear your car stop moving.

P: OK.

Me: Have a good ...

P: I'm sorry, so I had another question.

Me: Sure.

P: Well, at the light you guys cross, does it help when I stop back from the crosswalk?

Me (thinking, so, you're one of them): No, actually that can throw me off. I walk through a tunnel of sound, I guess. Cars waiting on one side and passing on the other. If you stop back, it could make a blind person think the crosswalk is further back.

P: Well, I know that crosswalk is crooked.

Me: Right - I know that too because I walk through it all the time.

P: Right, so if you didn't know I wouldn't want you to bump into my car because you didn't know that.

Me (silently screaming behind my mask before I speak): OK, but I listen to where your car is. If you stop back from the crosswalk, if I didn't know the intersection, I'd think the crosswalk was straight and I could miss the curb cut. Does that make sense?

P: I guess. Does it help if I honked if I waited back?

Me: No. Just pull up like you should.

P: OK .. and I'm sorry it's taking so long. But does it help if I wait to go when the light changes?

Me: No, just driving normally is best.

P: But what if you step off and go into the middle of the intersection.

Me: If that happened, yes, please stop. But I listen for the cars close and parallel to me to go. That's when I know when to cross. If you wait, that makes me think the signal is still red and I end up with less time to cross.

P" Well what about the buzzing when the light changes.

Me: I don't go based on that. Sometimes they malfunction and these ones sound the same whichever way is supposed to be clear to cross. It's helpful when there are no cars around really early in the morning but really, driving normally and going when the light changes is the most helpful thing.

P: OK, but what if I'm turning.

Me: Just do what you would do with any pedestrian.

P: OK - so one time I kind of sat before making a right to block you from crossing. Then I went when the light changed. Does that help?

Me (hoping to God my eyes aren't showing what I'm thinking): No. Are you talking about a right on red? If I wasn't already at the intersection when the light changed and I wasn't confident I had enough time to cross, I wouldn't go in front of you. So just turn normally like you would with anybody there.

P: No, I stopped when it was green and waited until it turned red and then I went.

Me (certain the incredulity on my face has to be apparent): Uh, no, I think I remember that actually from the other day. That is really not helpful because it threw your car in the way when I should have been able to cross. Please, just drive normally.

P: OK, sorry - I just want you and your little girl to be safe.

Me: Me too. So, please just drive normally. That is the biggest way you can help.

 

Life lessons at the turkey trot

From the aggregator: Readers of this blog may know that I am absolutely smitten by the writings of Jo Elizabeth Pinto. I find her stories endearing and often profound. They are real stories of real people. Jo Elizabeth is a leader in our blind parent's work. I would also suggest that her books would make wonderful Christmas presents. Here’s what she submitted for our thanksgiving blog.


'Life Lessons at the Turkey Trot'

by Jo Elizabeth Pinto

My eight-year-old daughter Sarah inspired my socks off yesterday. Actually, I was wearing fur-lined snow boots, but she inspired me just the same. I went to watch her participate in her school’s annual Turkey Trot with the rest of her third-grade class.

Fortunately, the storm from the day before had subsided. It was still nippy out, and the ground was slippery with slightly melting snow, but the sun shone brightly.

“I won’t win, Mom,” Sarah had predicted glumly that morning. “I’m the slowest girl in the third grade.”

“Just have fun and try your best,” I had encouraged her as she left for school.

The race started, and my daughter was soon well behind the pack. She had left the winter jacket she usually wore at a friend’s house. The one she had on was a hand-me-down from an older cousin. It was too big for her, and the hood wouldn’t quit flopping over her eyes. She had also forgotten to put on gloves that morning. I had let her borrow mine before the race. They were too large for her hands, so she kept pushing the hood out of her face with these hopelessly floppy leather gloves that fit her like swim flippers.

I stood at the finish line as the runners came in. Soon, my daughter was left on the race course--alone. My heart sank as the seconds ticked by, lengthening into a minute, then two. A teacher went out to walk the last of the course with Sarah. I could have hugged that woman. At least my baby wouldn’t have to cross the finish line all by herself under the stares of her classmates.

Finally the dean said, “We have one more friend to cheer on.”

The entire third grade began to chant in unison, “Sarah! Sarah! Sarah! Sarah!”

I held out my arms, and my little girl rushed into them, burying her face in my purple coat to hide her humiliation.

“They’re all cheering for you!” I told her.

“Because I came in last,” she whispered.

“No!” I turned her around to face the other students. “They’re cheering for you because you kept on walking. You could have given up. You could have quit, but you didn’t. You kept right on walking. That means a lot.”

I gave my little girl one more bear hug, and sent her off with the rest of her class to finish the school day. No more fuss. She inspired the socks off me. But at the same time, I hope she learned some valuable lessons about perseverance, about tenacity, about acting with dignity when victory doesn’t come her way. Because to tell the truth, life will hand her more opportunities to practice perseverance than to take victory laps. She’ll need to remember how to keep on walking when she’s the only one left on the course, when the ground is slippery and her hood is falling in her eyes, when the way is long and lonely. As her blind mom, I know a thing or two about that. But blindness doesn’t give me a corner on that market. Tenacity and fortitude are life skills any mom should be more than ready to pass along to her daughter when the chance arises.

This story appears in my mothering memoir, “Daddy Won’t Let Mom Drive the Car: True Tales of Parenting in the Dark.” The book, full of similar lighthearted vignettes and a few more serious ones, is designed to show that while blindness might alter a few everyday logistics of parenthood, it doesn’t change what it means to be a family. It’s available in audio, Kindle, and paperback formats on Amazon or by visiting my Website at https://www.brightsideauthor.com.

 

Walk While Seated with your new miniTREAD®!

From the aggregator: One of the new and exciting products shown at our recent state convention was a product called, “The miniTread” Your friendly aggregator bought one to test it out for you dear reader. You’re  welcome! I love it! Here is information from the company.

The miniTREAD® turns any seated activity into an opportunity to feel your best, get stronger, and live a healthier lifestyle. Its compact size (it fits under a desk) and portability deliver a calorie-torching walking workout while working, or sitting in your favorite chair while watching TV or reading. The miniTREAD® is designed for use by those of any fitness level from beginners to seasoned experts. It packs a powerfully quiet motor and unlike walking on the pavement, walking while seated is low-to-no-impact. Your hips, knees, and back can't wait for the relief! Get Fit While You Sit on the miniTREAD®!

https://onthemuv.com/


 

That’s It for This Edition of the Blind Coloradan

Forward, always Forward!

Thursday, September 30, 2021

October Blind Coloradoan

 

 

National Federation of the Blind of Colorado Logo including the words Live the life you want.

Blind Coloradoan Blog

October 1, 2021

Writer, Aggregator: Kevan Worley.
Contributors: Dan Burke & Erin Daley

Here is what you need to know-

This issue is dedicated to the members and allies of The National Federation of the Blind. This October, we celebrate National Blind Equality Achievement Month. Congratulations! We celebrate our achievements and we pledge to continue our quest for true equality.

State convention! State convention!

 

This year, our NFBCO state convention will be held at the Denver Marriott South in Lone Tree. Activities begin early Thursday afternoon, October 28. Much of the convention will also be anywhere and everywhere over Zoom. It will be a hybrid convention of the highest order. Keep checking the NFBCO website for full agenda coming in mid-October. Our affiliate leadership is planning extraordinary, fun, uplifting opening ceremonies. They will begin at 5:30 Thursday afternoon the 28th, in-person and over Zoom. Zoom coordinates will be included on the agenda. Please make hotel reservations and register for the convention as soon as possible.

We are very proud to announce that the president of The National Federation of the Blind, Mark A. Riccobono, will be with us all weekend long. If you have not met Mark, we urge you to come to the convention and make a point to do so. He is leading our movement with grace, kindness, innovation, strength of character, and love. He will provide a national report. He will also offer a banquet address on Saturday evening, October 30.

This year we will again have great exhibits of technology, chapter fundraisers, and other products and services. You will not want to miss the latest and the greatest. If you are interested in exhibiting please email Peggy Chong at chongpeggy10@gmail.com .

For registration and reservation information, rates, and deadlines, please visit our website. We urge you to come to the convention to be a part of the action. Invite others and bring a guest. Our annual convention is where the blind meet to consider policy, network, and enjoy the company of our federation family.  

https://www.nfbco.org/nfbco-state-convention-review

 

Please note: this will be a historic convention. Our long-time president Scott LaBarre has indicated that he will not be seeking another term. As he says, “I'm not going away. I’ll just be wearing different hats.” He has endorsed our first Vice President, Jessica Beecham, to become our next president. You will want to be where the action is.



Resolutions time

 

Scott LaBarre in a suit speaking at a podium
The National Federation of the Blind of Colorado can point to a number of significant achievements in recent years that have improved the lives of all blind Coloradans, including one of the strongest laws in the country protecting the parental rights of citizens with disabilities and true vote-from-home accessibility. Of course, there was a lot of work that got these things done, but each of these began as a resolution at our annual NFBCO convention.

Resolutions are one of the principal ways we as members guide the work of our affiliate, whether to applaud good work on behalf of the blind or to call out barriers to opportunity for the blind. So, if you think the NFBCO should call out a barrier or applaud the removal of one for blind people, you can, and should, write a resolution. If you are unsure about how to do so, Resolutions Committee Co-chairs Dan Burke and Curtis Chong are glad to help.

The deadline for submitting resolutions is Wednesday, October 20 – a week before we convene in Lone Tree. If you have an idea for a resolution, but aren’t sure how to approach writing it, please contact Curtis or Dan before the deadline! Otherwise, send your drafts to burke.dall@gmail.com or chong.curtis@gmail.com.

 

What a race! What a race!
Folks gather at registration table before race

 The 4th annual NFBCO 6 Dot Dash was an amazing success! More than 250 people gathered on the beautiful grounds of our Colorado Center for The Blind for family fun, exhibits, an amazing Puerto Rican food truck, inflatable slide, Guiding Eyes puppy kissing booth, and more. 173 participants ran, wheeled, rode, or walked the idyllic picturesque course, beginning from our campus over the Centennial Links Trail. Participants in the dash ranged from world-class runners to families out for a stroll. Listening to the joyful smiles everywhere that Saturday morning was reason enough to hold our 6 Dot Dash, but the dash was also a financial success, raising approximately $20,000 for our braille literacy and other education programs. If you were there, you know how fun it was. We thank you for your contributions and participation.

We also thank our incredible title sponsor Arise Beyond Barriers. Arise Beyond Barriers is a Colorado Springs non-profit operated by people with disabilities to create greater opportunities for people with disabilities to enjoy everything from athletics and recreation to arts and entertainment.

 

Runners gather at starting line ready to race

We also offer our appreciation to platinum sponsors FSIG and JB&K Services; Gold sponsors Labarre Law, Southern Foods, Comcast, Vanda & First Bank; Silver sponsors Blackstone Consulting, Ability Counseling, Philadelphia Insurance, NanoPac, and MagniSight of the Rockies.

You can read more about our sensational Saturday in the sun in future issues. For now, we hope to see each and every one of you at our 5th NFBCO 6 Dot Dash in 2022!

We have a great team of people who work hard to make the dash the success that it has become. One of the key players (some on the team call her our fearless leader) is NFBCO First Vice-President Jessica Beecham.


This just in:

A very special Mountain Time at 5 happens Wednesday October 6 sponsored by our NFBCO Equality and Diversity committee. Please join Monique Melton, and the usual Mountain Time at 5 crowd and members of the committee for an insightful discussion of our efforts to include everyone on equal terms in our great organized blind movement. What time? Mountain Time At 5. Of course.

https://zoom.us/j/97417562247

One tap mobile: +13462487799,,97417562247#

Dial in number: +1 346 248 7799

Meeting ID: 974 1756 2247

 

Jessica Beecham ready to receive racers with their medals at finish


 

White Cane Day celebration and rally

From the aggregator: We received the following exciting announcement from Diane Taylor, director, community relations, Colorado School for the Deaf and the Blind. Many organizations of and for people who are blind will be celebrating and drawing attention to the important White Cane Awareness Day on Friday, October 15. It’s a great day for people who are blind and it is celebrated on October 15 smack dab in the middle of National Blind Equality Achievement Month. Here’s what Diane reports.

White Cane Day Celebration and Rally

 

Friday, October 15, 2021

10:00 am - 11:30 am

 Acacia Park Band Shell

115 E. Platte Avenue

Colorado Springs, CO


Federation mourns a loss and celebrates a life

 

Our dear friend and accomplished colleague, Doris Willoughby, left us on September 8, 2021. Doris had been in ill health for quite some time. On Saturday, September 18, a service was held at the United Methodist Church in Wheat Ridge where Doris and her husband Curtis have been members for over 25 years. The service was a hybrid of in-person and Zoom, with Doris’s niece, Laura Baumgartner, adding a unique family feeling and understanding of Doris’s significant contributions to the NFB as she co-officiated on Zoom. Laura is pastor of Lake Haller United Methodist Church in Seattle and described car trips with her Aunt Doris behind the wheel leading sing-alongs mile after mile. Other speakers included Scott LaBarre and Julie Deden. Federation members Paul Sandoval, Scott LaBarre, Dan Burke, and David Dawson were pallbearers. Our deepest condolences go to Doris’s husband of 56 years. Doris was one of those special nonblind people we call “blind at heart.” We urge you to read Doris’s complete obituary at the end of this issue. She was kind, compassionate, and generous. She was a talented educator. Many of us benefited from the teaching she did at our Colorado Center for the Blind.  We will miss her spirit, humor, and capacity.

During the celebration of Doris’s life, we learned one thing many of us did not know. Doris loved line dancing and she was very good at it.  Doris, keep on dancing.

 

Our annual auction is coming!

From the aggregator:

MaryAnn Migliorelli wears many hats in our affiliate. One of which is to chair and collaborate closely with co-chair Gary Van Dorn and others on our team for our convention auction. She and co-chair Gary Van Dorn wear many hats to make sure the work of our affiliate gets done. They are seeking auction items, so please contribute auction items big and small. Here is what she says about a new game in our 2021 auction.


Play Heads or Tails for Broncos Tickets

This year, the NFBCO auction team brings a new game to our annual State Convention: Heads or Tails. That’s right, ladies and gentlemen! For $20, you get the chance to play the game that could net you two tickets to see the Denver Broncos crush The Los Angeles Chargers on November 28.

You may ask, ”How will this work?”

You will purchase your $20 ticket in person at the State Convention and be in the banquet ballroom when we play the game. Each time the coin is flipped, you will put the ticket on your head or your tail. As long as you have made the correct choice, you will stay in the game. We will keep flipping the coin until there is one lucky Broncos ticket winner.

Shine up your lucky shoes and make plans to have a new kind of fun on Saturday, October 30 at the NFBCO annual banquet.


Head on over to Avenue Q

From the aggregator: We received the following exciting announcement from NFBCO board member Maryann Migliorelli. She's always putting together interesting, accessible outings to the theater. Here's what she says about Avenue Q.


The NFB Boulder Valley Chapter is proud to celebrate Blindness Equality Achievement Month on October 10 by taking an audio-described accessible trip to Avenue Q.  Normally, there is no Avenue Q in Boulder, but thanks to the wonderful talents at BDT Stage, for a limited time we have Avenue Q.

Picture Sesame Street mixed up with South Park and you have the brilliant, heartwarming comedy that is Avenue Q. Songs include “Everyone's a Little Bit Racist,” “It Sucks to Be Me,” “The Internet Is for Porn,” and “I Wish I Could Go Back to College.” Although there are as many as sixteen puppets that take us on a journey through life on Avenue Q, this show is not for children and contains adult content.

Those who wish to join us for this accessible trip to Avenue Q will start the day at 11:00 am with a tour of the props, set, costumes, and puppets from the show. We will have lunch at noon followed by the show, which will be audio described by Bonnie Barlow. As a special treat, some of the waitstaff in the dining room are also the actors in the show.

If you would like to join our group, call the BDT Stage box office at 303-449-6000 and tell them that you want to buy tickets at Maryann Migliorelli's table. Each ticket costs $70 and includes lunch and the show.

Check out www.BDTStage.com http://www.BDTStage.com  for the menus, show information, and tickets in alternate locations. Please let me know if you are joining us for the 11:00 am tour. If you have any questions or need further information about this special trip to Avenue Q, please contact me at 720-284-2318 or email maryannmigs@gmail.com.


Calling all scavengers!

From the aggregator: When it comes to fun activities at the upcoming state convention, you can count on your Colorado Association of Guide Dog Users. Check out this poetic announcement from Maryann Migliorelli.


Come one come all,

Whether tall or small.

With canes that tap

Or tails that slap.


Get ready for a new kind of convention fun,

At the first ever COAGDU scavenger hunt.

You can play by yourself or make up a team,

Solve all the clues and discover our theme.


Five dollars per person,

Gets you into the game,

At the end we’ll draw for prizes,

We want to call your name.


Everybody get ready,

Let the sleuthing begin,

Let’s all go exploring,

May the best scavengers win.


Who let the dogs out?

 

Colorado Association of Guide Dog Users will hold a scavenger hunt at state convention. Whether you use a cane or dog, you are welcome to participate. Find the lady with the clues beginning Friday afternoon at the convention. Join the adventure and be a winner.

The Colorado Association of Guide Dog Users will hold their annual general business meeting over Zoom on Sunday afternoon, October 24, at 4 pm. This year's agenda will be jam-packed with stories of handlers and dogs. There will be a national report detailing the progress we have made and the challenges we must still confront. We will also be discussing the state of our division, policy, constitution, as well as holding elections. Please join the crowd. Zoom coordinates coming soon.

 

NFBCO crafters make it happen at state convention

 

Hello Colorado Crafters!

Are you a crafter that enjoys making items, but don’t always know what to do with them once they are finished? Well, at the state convention in October, we will have a craft sale and event that everyone will enjoy. If you knit, crochet, bead, leather craft, clay, or any of the many other crafts, we want to offer the opportunity for others to buy your creations.  For more information, contact ReNae Anderson at mother27dragon@gmail.com or Sandy Schleich at allisonean@comcast.net.

Happy crafting!


Doris Willoughby June 29, 1936 - September 8, 2021-Obituary from the Denver Post

 

Doris Mellott Koerner Willoughby was born on June 29, 1936, in Easton, PA, and died on September 8, 2021, in Lakewood, CO. She moved to Boulder, CO, with her family when she was 11 and graduated from Boulder High School as class valedictorian in 1953.

She earned a bachelor's degree in education from Grinnell College in Grinnell, IA, in 1957 and taught second grade in Cedar Rapids for 11 years. She met her husband D. Curtis Willoughby in 1966. They were married on June 24, 1967, in Cedar Rapids, IA, and honeymooned in Clear Lake, IA, Los Angeles, and Hawaii. The event in Los Angeles was the national convention of the National Federation of the Blind, the first of over fifty NFB conventions for Doris. From the time they met, Doris became a driver and reader assistant for Curtis. Since he was an electrical engineer, perhaps the first blind electrical engineer in the country, and most of the material he wanted to read was technical, Doris's assistance was extremely valuable. During the school year 1966/7, Judy Young, a young blind woman, was seeking a degree in elementary education from the State University of Iowa, but the University had difficulty finding a place for her to do her student teaching. Doris volunteered to be the supervising teacher and enjoyed the opportunity to work with Judy. Together they found techniques to make Judy an excellent teacher. Doris received her certification in the teaching of blind children in 1969 after studying during the summers and evenings and then began teaching blind children. The Willoughbys moved to Des Moines in 1972, and Doris taught blind children there until 1993. Curtis was often asked to work on electrical and telephone equipment at the Iowa Commission for the Blind, and Doris often assisted. Shortly after they were married, she said with a smile, "I married an electric wire. In 1990, she received her ham radio operator's license. Her husband, mother and sisters have all been hams. Doris continued to work with Curtis on many projects for nearly 30 years. Doris was an active member of the United Methodist Church and invited Curtis to join. They continued in this denomination in Des Moines and in Colorado. The Willoughbys moved to the Denver area in 1993, and Doris received a master's degree from the University of Northern Colorado soon after that. Doris taught blind children in the Adams 12 School District near Denver. She later taught blind adults at the Colorado Training Center for the Blind, where she helped students prepare for citizenship and the GED test, among other things. Doris was a pioneer and leader in the education of blind children for at least 4 decades and wrote or co-authored 4 books on that subject. At its 50th anniversary convention, the National Federation of the Blind honored Doris with its highest award in education: the Distinguished Teacher of Blind Children Award. Doris was soft-spoken, kind, generous, creative, and hardworking. She was preceded in death by her parents Margaret and Harold Koerner. She is survived by her husband and her sisters (Margery Herrington of Pueblo, CO, and Marian Lord of Omaha, NE). There are 6 nephews and nieces and 9 great nephews and nieces. Doris was an important part of the Willoughby and Koerner families, her church congregations, the NFB, and her communities and will be missed by all. A celebration of Doris's life will occur at 1:00 pm on Sept. 18, 2021, at the Wheat Ridge United Methodist Church in Wheat Ridge, CO. Memorial donations may be made to the National Federation of the Blind or the Wheat Ridge United Methodist Church.


That’s It for This Edition of the Blind Coloradan


Forward, always Forward!

Thursday, September 2, 2021

September Blind Coloradan

 

National Federation of the Blind of Colorado Logo including the words Live the life you want.

Blind Coloradoan Blog

September 1, 2021

Writer, Aggregator: Kevan Worley.
Contributors: Dan Burke & Erin Daley

Here is what you need to know-

 

From the President’s Virtual Desk

I want to thank Kevan and his team for another outstanding Blind Coloradan which I’ve had the opportunity to preview before writing this piece!!  I just wanted to add this quick note to this issue for the purpose of expressing a few thoughts about State Convention.  We have shared the Convention registration and hotel reservations logistics elsewhere in this Blind Coloradan, and I urge you to register and make your hotel reservations as soon as you can.

As the Delta Variant of the COVID-19 Pandemic rages across our country and the world, many have asked me if our Convention will be going entirely virtual.  As of this writing which I am scribing on September 1st, we have not altered our plan to conduct a hybrid convention.  Events will start on October 28th at the Denver Marriott South, and we will be putting out as much of the Convention content as practical onto the Zoom platform including major meetings like Resolutions, all general sessions, and the Banquet as well as other selected breakout sessions.  We request that even virtual participants register for the Convention so that you can be eligible for door prizes and, if you are a current dues paying member, the ability to vote.  The registration fees will also help us defray the considerable internet expense we will be incurring at the hotel.  Unfortunately, they don’t give access to the Internet away for free.

The detailed agenda for the Convention will come out in early October, but I want to share a few highlights.  As we have indicated elsewhere, we are delighted to announce that President Riccobono will be serving as our National Representative.  On Thursday October 28th, we plan on conducting some seminars in the afternoon focusing on personal empowerment from education to employment to personal safety and more.  Thursday evening will feature our Opening Ceremonies followed by a fun filled, festive, and competitive Trivia Night with socializing galore.  Friday will offer the Resolutions Committee; opening of the Exhibit Hall including an Hour of Power where our exhibitors will tell you about their goods and services; the beginning of our General Sessions including a special Scholarship Luncheon; the conducting of several substantive, breakout sessions; and the holding of several exciting social events in the evening including all kinds of adaptive games pitting Federationists against  each other in friendly competition and the offering of interactive arts and crafts.  Saturday comes with more General Sessions, breakout meetings, and our Annual Banquet.  Sunday closes the Convention with our Federation Family breakfast including chapter reports and highlights and it is also when we will conduct our Business Session where we will consider and adopt our resolutions, consider important reports like our financials, and elect our officers and members of our Board.

As I discussed in the last Blind Coloradan, this Convention will be special in that we are affecting a major transition of leadership.  After October 31st, I will no longer be your President, and I fully expect that we will elect Jessica Beecham our next President.  We will spend some time at the Convention marking this important transition and celebrating it as well.  All in all, I believe we will have a tremendous State Convention, and I hope you will join us either at the Marriott or in the Zoomisphere.  Don’t miss it!! 

 

Colorado Center for the Blind Update

This summer CCB resumed its outdoor challenge recreation activities, the first since skiing was cancelled at the beginning of March 2020. We took two groups whitewater rafting on Clear Creek near Idaho Springs to get things started with a splash. (No, nobody fell out of their raft!) And last week, we started rock climbing again with a new group, the Denver Climbing Co.

During morning announcements on Tuesday, August 31, student Amanda Juetten called for recognition and announced that she had someone on the phone.

“I’m safe and sound,” we heard a voice say from her iPhone’s speaker. Cheers broke out, along with cries of “Thank you for your service.” The voice was Amanda’s son Lorenzo, a U.S. Marine Corporal just back in Kuwait after participating in the mission to protect the Kabul Airport during the evacuation. He was one of more than 5,000 Marines deployed in that mission. We all had been worrying along with Amanda since Lorenzo’s deployment and felt relief and gratitude for his service and the safe return of Lorenzo and for his fellow Marines, and all send our love, thoughts, and prayers to the grieving families of the 13 Marines who gave their lives on that difficult mission.

A smiling Amanda Juetten wearing a U.S. Marines lanyard.


Ready! Set! Go!

Register now for the 4th Annual NFBCO 6 Dot Dash! Saturday morning September 18, at Colorado Center For The Blind, Littleton Colorado. Register for in person event or join the action virtually. Please support our literacy programs. Walk or run with us in person or through your own neighborhood, the treadmill or jog in place. Doesn’t matter how you do it. Just do it! There will be finishing medals, t-shirts, and a feeling of accomplishment. Bring your family for a day of fun and games. We will feature a beer tasting in partnership with our friends at Brewability. Tours of The Colorado Center for the Blind will be provided. As in the past. There will be a number of exhibits, items for sale, and a puppy raisers kissing booth sponsored by Guiding Eyes Puppy Raisers.

This is our annual signature fundraiser and we all know of the important work these organizations do for all of our blind students and their families. Those who raise $100 in donations may participate in the race at no cost. What a deal!

We want to thank all of our sponsors. This year we thank our title sponsor Arise Beyond Barriers. If you have questions you may email assistance@nfbco.org. You may also reach out to Jessica Beecham jbbeecham@gmail.com. Register now you will be glad you did. http://6dotdashco.com/

Breaking News!

We are more than excited to announce that the President of The National Federation Of The Blind Marc Riccobono will be attending our upcoming state convention. You read it here first! It’s a Blind Coloradan exclusive.

67th ANNUAL STATE CONVENTION

October 28 through October 31

The 67th Annual State Convention kicks off Thursday October 28 with a variety of seminars and initial socializing. The programming will continue all weekend long with exhibitors, informative and inspiring presentations during general sessions, additional breakout seminars including meetings of our several special interest divisions, interactive and exciting social events, and much more!  Join the largest gathering of blind people in Colorado to make a difference in the lives of the blind across the state!

We will hold a hybrid convention starting Thursday, October 28.  The main sessions for exhibitors will be on Friday, October 29 with other opportunities sprinkled throughout the weekend.  Virtual participants must register and pay the $20 registration fee to be eligible for door prizes.

Please note that the Convention is still being planned and not all sessions are finalized.  Stay tuned for a full Convention Agenda slated to be released in early October. 

THE NFBCO CONVENTION HOTEL:  Our 2021 convention will be held at the Marriott Denver South at Park Meadows located at 10345 Park Meadows Dr., Lone Tree, CO 80124.  Just off the Lincoln light rail stop (E Line), the Denver Marriott South at Park Meadows offers convenience, the beauty of Denver, exciting entertainment options of the Park Meadows Mall, and the comfort that has become synonymous with the Marriott Brand.  When you add in over 300 of your favorite blind friends you have one FANTASTIC NFBCO convention! 

HOTEL ROOM RATES:  The NFBCO room rate is $104 a night.  There is no limit on room occupancy.  Reservations MUST be made by Friday, October 8.

To reserve your room, call the hotel at 303-925-0004.  You will need to press 1 for reservations which will take you to the Marriott 1-800 number call center.  You must mention that you are with the National Federation of the Blind of Colorado.  If they cannot find our block under our full name, try asking for NFB.  If this still doesn’t work please contact Lisa Bonderson at 303-504-5979.  You may also use the following link to make a reservation:

click here to make a reservation

Convention registration has gone live, and you can register using the following link.

Registration for NFBCO Convention | NFBCO

Pre-registration fees:  BEFORE October 15

$20 registration

$0.00 Thursday reception

$25 Friday luncheon

$25 Saturday luncheon

$40 Saturday banquet

$0.00 Sunday breakfast

Total:  $110.00

Registration fees:  AFTER October 15

$25 registration

$0.00 Thursday reception

$30 Friday luncheon

$30 Saturday luncheon

$45 Saturday banquet

$0.00 Sunday breakfast

Total:  $130.00.  You save $20 by pre-registering.

Stay tuned to your email and check our web site at www.nfbco.org for more information about convention registration. OR Contact Lisa Bonderson at lkb@labarrelaw.com.

FOR MORE CONVENTION INFORMATION CONTACT:

Scott C. LaBarre, President

Phone: (303) 504-5979  

slabarre@labarrelaw.com    

 

Memorializing 9-11

From the Aggregator

We dedicate this issue of our Blind Coloradoan Blog to the memory of those thousands who lost their lives, endured great injury, or worked tirelessly to bring relief and healing during and in the aftermath of the horrific 9-11 attack on our nation. Blind or non-blind, all of our lives were changed on that day. It's been 20 years and we remember.  We remember and honor the sacrifice of so many.

Colorado Center For The Blind board member Mike Hingson was one of the thousands fighting through the smoke and thunder of the explosions. Perhaps you have read Mike's account of that day.  He and his guide dog escaped with hundreds streaming down from the highest floors of The World Trade Center. His book Thunder Dog is Mike's account of his harrowing escape. The book is available on Amazon or on Bard. It also makes a good gift. The book offers a perspective on this American tragedy, guide dogs, and a positive philosophy of blindness.

Another story, I had not known about was of a second blind man and his guide dog who also escaped from the World Trade Center on that terrible day. It was brought to my attention by the blind history lady Peggy Chong. We will post that account later in this blog. As we gather for chapter meetings, our annual 6dotdash event, and all of our ongoing NFBCO activities, I know we will keep all of our American heroes in our thoughts and prayers. With all of the social and political strife our country is now struggling with, there is an organization for blind people and our families to come together as a big family regardless of all other characteristics.  In The National Federation Of The Blind, we say together with love, hope, and determination. We transform dreams into reality. The American dream is still alive. The dream of blind Americans to live the lives we want with true equality, security and opportunity remains our guiding principle. Love to you all.

 

Personal Empowerment Starts from Within

By Julia Zanon

From the aggregator: Many of you have offered glowing comments about this series of articles by NFBCO Mile High Chapter member Julia Zanon. Many of you also know Brenda Mosby as one of our activist and through her work as an employment specialist at our Colorado Center For The Blind. We think you will enjoy this profile.

Headshot of Brenda Mosby

As we explore employment experiences and the many ways people have found their careers, it is crucial to note that being able to work and have a job contains its own intrinsic value. Whether one is the family caregiver, providing volunteer services or employed and earning a wage, people need to feel valued, productive and respected and having an occupation is key.

Having the knowledge, confidence, means, or ability to do things or make decisions for oneself is one of the many definitions for empowerment. Having a job can bring a sense of empowerment. Overcoming difficulties, barriers and negative attitudes also creates empowerment.

A career supporting others and watching them find their inner power is what excites Brenda Mosby. Brenda has been self-employed as the owner of Mosby Employment Services, LLC for over 20 years. She has created a powerful program called Personal Empowerment through Emotional Intelligence which takes individuals through a process to change negative thoughts and beliefs that hinder them into positive beliefs that help them grow into a positive and happier person.   

Brenda, who became blind at the age of 40, was able to overcome her own barriers and negative beliefs and learned the blindness independence skills needed to be successful. She received assistance from the Colorado Division of Vocational Rehabilitation to acquire her skills and academic training. Combining her own experiences with education and a master's degree in counseling, Brenda discovered that self-employment was the best fit for her. Brenda also realized how paramount it is that she first looked inward to clarify her own talents and goals before coaching others toward success.

When asked how her current job compares with what she wanted to do in high school, Brenda responded, " It isn’t even close. I was sighted and knew nothing about the community of people with disabilities.  Actually, I did not have an employment goal coming out of high school."

Brenda lives in Denver and is excited about getting married this year. What is her dream for her future?  She imagines herself living in a small village in Spain off of the Mediterranean Sea.

And, finally, what does Brenda say about what makes NFBCO so great? "The NFB is a role model for the blind and other groups who are marginalized."

 

Member of NFB Performing Arts Division brings her viola magic to the stage on Sunday November 14, 2021, 7-9pm, University Park United Methodist Church

From the aggregator:

We were delighted to see this announcement on our Colorado Talk email list serv. We have heard of the beautiful music played by National Federation Of The Blind 2021 scholarship winner, Christina Ebersohl. We hope you will join us for a special night of music. Tickets are available now. Here’s what Christina says about the concert.

Picture of Christina Playing the Viola

Join violist Christina Ebersohl for a Fall charity concert extravaganza with pianist Beth Nielsen!

In addition to an evening of stunning music, join in to win raffle baskets, bid on silent auction items, and treat yourself to a complimentary reception.

Here is a sneak peek at what the raffle tickets may win you:

THE DENVER EATS BASKET: full of local eateries and coffee shop goodies and gift cards

THE DU YOU BASKET: full of DU swag, concert tickets, and signed CD's from some of the stellar musician faculty

THE COFFEE CURRICULUM BASKET: full of fresh beans from local roasters, coffee mugs, and flavored treats to add to your morning joe

THE PASS-GO-GRANDMA BASKET: fun games for the family, snacks, and all things needed to make family game night a blast

...and much MORE!

All proceeds will go to the National Federation of the Blind Performing Arts Division.

This concert will be in-person and live-streamed, with options to donate or bid for both audiences!

Tickets are now live! Find out more information at https://www.christinaebersohl.com/events/2021/11/14/viola-visions

https://youtu.be/Z3_y72pKKFY


A new chapter begins by Silvia Vigil

From the Aggregator

Sylvia Vigil has become a frequent contributor to this blog. Many of us have enjoyed her recipes as well as her articles that detailed her journey. One of the priorities of importance to the National Federation Of the Blind and our Colorado Center For The Blind is employment. We spend a good deal of time on the challenges faced by people who are blind who are seeking a job. No one exemplifies hard work, courage, and creativity in pursuit of employment like CCB Graduate Silvia Vigil.  Sylvia exemplifies the hard work, courage and creativity necessary to secure employment. She grew up in Walsenburg, Colorado. We could have titled this article Small town girl makes it big in the big city. Here is what Sylvia says. 

A New Chapter Begins:

Written By: Sylvia Vigil

I was a little blind girl in a little town.  I went to school of course.  Even attended Blind School at CSDB for a few years.  Then a few years ago I made the decision to attend the Colorado Center For The Blind in 2019.  I started my training on June 24 2019.  After months of training I was about to graduate.  I had three weeks to go.  But my graduation was postponed for quite a few months due to COVID!  Not to mention I had just learned how to travel here, and there by myself, and we got hit with the stay at home order due to COVID.  I needed something to keep me busy so I joined Mary Kay, and became an independent Beauty Consultant and started my journey  with Mary Kay. 

I met Patty at an arts and crafts fair at the center.  I had bought some things from her for Christmas gifts.  She asked me if I would love to do a facial.  So she came to my apartment, and gave me a good facial.  And of course we talked about things. 

 I decided to join Mary Kay.  I like working my business, but it has its ups, and downs.  But I still stick with it. I am trying to get active again. It is not easy.  But I’m going to try my best!

In February  2021 I joined Tupperware to see if I could do better in that.  I haven’t done much there, because they switched to a new system, and everyone has to learn how it works.  So far I’ve been studying how-to videos.  But I believe once I get going I will be fine.

During the pandemic I stayed home, did chores around the apartment, and ran my business.  After waiting for 5 months to go back to the center to finish my training I finally graduated from the center.

During the time I had with a very slow business, and the new system I was applying for different jobs here, and there.  One job in particular was a job at Texas Roadhouse.  I had applied for a hostess job in Sheridan.  I hadn’t heard from them for a while!  Then a month later, like out of the blue I get an email from Texas Roadhouse.  It was an invitation to a hiring event in Northfield.  I wasn’t too sure about attending because it was far away.  But somehow Davina convinced me to go.  So I scheduled my interview, and printed  3 copies of my resume to take with me. 

The day of my interview I took with me my resume, and some questions for asking at the interview. I was interviewed by 3 different people.  I showed them my resume, and they had me do some scenarios.  And I also got to ask my questions.  They really liked my resume, and the answers I gave for the scenarios.  Not to mention the fact I asked questions of my own.

So after all of that interviewing the head manager didn’t think the hostess position would be a good fit for me, but he did offer me a job.  I told him well it may not be the job I wanted, or applied for, but it’s a job so I’ll take it.

I went to orientation, and learned about the company rules and policies. Not to mention the benefits.  And I was given two work shirts, and my work schedule.  I started working Monday June 7, 2021.  So as of June of this year I became a Roadie.

So I guess you can say I have 3 work titles.  They are as follows.. Mary Kay  Consultant, Tupperware Lady, and Roadie.  And just recently I became a student at Penn Foster online college studying Event Planning.  I can’t wait to see what will happen next!

 

Colorado Springs Chapter highlights Presidential Release

As you know, In recent times President Riccobono has been offering his monthly presidential release live. Typically on the first of each month at 6pm mountain time. Following the live release a recorded version is available at NFB.org. The Springs Chapter meeting now features a Presidential release contest. At the beginning of the meeting, members can win prizes by answering questions from information heard on the release. Great idea Springs Chapter!

 

From the aggregator: as mentioned above this issue memorializes those we lost on 911. We also celebrate our blind American heroes. Here is what we received from Peggy Chong, The Blind History Lady.

 

The Denver Post

Sunday, October 7, 2001

Sounds, smells conveyed terror

Blind survivor fled WTC tower

By Winnie Hu

The New York Times

NEW YORK – While much of the world will never forget the images of destruction, Omar E. Rivera will never forget its violent, terrifying sounds.  Even in quiet moments, Rivera, who is blind, still hears the explosive boom of a hijacked  plane smashing into 1 World Trade Center.

He still hears the crying, the screaming, and the desperate praying of men and women inching down flights of stairs through chunks of debris and pools of water.

And he still hears the crackling of walls and floors buckling and then falling apart.

He heard everything that day, but saw nothing.

Guided down stairs Rivera, 43, and his yellow Labrador retriever, Salty, escaped unharmed with many of his co-workers from the 71st-floor office of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. A senior systems designer, he was sitting at his desk when the first of two hijacked planes hit the World Trade Center on Sept. 11.

“It was very big, very strong, very violent,” Rivera said.

He struggled to find more words to describe the impact, and then simply formed a fist with his left hand and smacked the palm of his right hand. “It was like something exploded,” he said, then added, “It is difficult to describe sounds with words.”

Afterward, River said, he heard the rustling of scattered papers, the crunching of broken glass and the thud of his computer sliding off his desk. He also heard the panicked screams of co-workers.

He quickly said his own prayers, and then called Salty to guide him through the commotion.  “He was very nervous,” Rivera said.  “But he didn’t run away.”

With one hand on Salty’s harness and the other on a friend’s arm, Rivera descended into an unknown world filled with acrid smoke and the sickening smell of jet fuel. He said Salty refused to leave his side, even when another co-worker tried to take the dog’s leash.  Together, they kept pushing forward.

Rivera, who lost his sight to glaucoma 14 years ago, said he was able to focus on getting out because he did not have to see the destruction everywhere.

“Not being able to see also allowed me to concentrate on asking God to please allow me to go back and hug my family,” he said.

An hour and 15 minutes later, Rivera and Salty came out on the ground floor.  Salty was exhausted, Rivera said, but they both kept walking. Then they started running. He could hear the crackling sounds, louder now, echoing through the building. A short time later, he heard it collapse.

Rivera said he has not returned to the World Trade Center since then. He has tried to resume his work at home, but it is difficult, for many reasons. His computer, which was equipped with voice-recognition software and had files dating back 13 years, was lost, and many projects have been interrupted.

For many nights, Rivera woke up hour after hour. Sleep comes easier now, he said, but sudden noises still make him jump. Gone are the routines that once made his life manageable and comfortable.

“I feel like I’m also at ground zero,” he said. “And I need to start building again.”

He paused a moment, then sang a line from a Colombian song above the din of passengers scurrying to catch their trains. He said it was about a walker who suddenly found himself without a path. “There is no path, there is no road,” he said. “You have to make your own path.”


That’s It for This Edition of the Blind Coloradoan

Forward, always Forward!