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Thursday, August 6, 2020

We May Be In Dog Days of Summer But This Issue of Blind Coloradan Packs a Wallop


National Federation of the Blind of Colorado logo including tagline Live the Life you Want

Writer, aggregator Kevan Worley. 
Contributing editor Dan Burke.

Here is what you need to know

Ready, Set, Go! Announcing the 3rd Annual NFBCO 6 Dot Dash. Sponsored in Part by Comcast

This will be the virtual race for the ages. The swag! The prizes! The awards! The personal development! The fun! The accomplishment! The pride! This year, we take the event out of the hot summer sun and into your heart. There will be so many ways for you to participate throughout the month of October, Meet the Blind Month. So, lace up those walkin’ and runnin’ shoes. Complete details coming soon. For information about how you can begin supporting this event now email assistance@nfbco.org.

 

National Federation of the Blind of Colorado State Convention Anywhere and Everywhere

Well, some of you have already guessed. Another restructured NFBCO activity. Due to the pandemic we will not be having our physical state convention at Denver’s Marriott South this year. Instead, we will gather virtually. The convention will be held the last weekend of October. Schedule of activities and registration information coming soon.

 

Language, Action, and Destiny: The Lived Experience of the Organized Blind Movement

From the aggregator: For many of the most ardent members of the Federation the high point of our National Convention is the banquet address. The address, given by our President, Mark Riccobono, virtually this year on July 18th, was the culmination of an incredible convention that truly was anywhere and everywhere. This was President Riccobono’s 6th banquet address since his election to the office in 2014. The address came to us over a number of platforms this year, Zoom, YouTube, and others. In some ways, his observations, cautions, and inspiration may even have carried more weight and import than usual. Speaking from his heart during this time of pandemic, both blind and nonblind listeners were treated to an amazing articulation of our living philosophy as we begin the second decade of the 21st Century. If you heard the speech that night you know what I am talking about. But we guarantee it is worth revisiting. Whether or not you heard the speech it is worth a read. Scott LaBarre strongly recommends this speech as a great chapter discussion item. Please consider urging all chapter members to read the speech and the chapter can spend some time discussing during the next chapter meeting. The Blind Coloradan is also interested in your comments and observations.

 

Are There Virtual Chapter Meetings or Meet-Ups in My Area? Of Course There Are. For Info Just Email Assistance@nfbco.org

 

Horsin’ Around at the Colorado Center for the Blind By Dan Burke

Monday August 3 students and staff at the Colorado Center for the Blind met up with members of the Arapahoe County Sheriff Offices Mounted Unit at nearby Sterne Park. Four Sheriff Deputies were there, along with 20 volunteers. They brought with them eight mounts, along with a pony named Rainbow and two miniatures – Love Bug and Happy Times.

 When Lt. Rich Anselmi, the unit's commander first contacted Julie Deden a while back about planning something, Julie immediately reacted that it sounded like a lot of fun. She probably meant it would be fun for the students, too.

 “We feel like we benefited and learned at least as much today as your students did,” said Lt. Anselmi. “We are very much looking forward to working with the students and staff at the Colorado Center for the Blind again!"

 Thanks to Lt. Anselmi and the other deputies and all the volunteers. Here's to the next time we meet!

Will Lewis, CCB Student from Conifer, extends his upturned palm with a treat for a grey horse named Booger

 

Diversity and Inclusion, Sustaining the Effort

From your aggregator: As readers of the Blind Coloradan may recall, the 2019 NFBCO State Convention featured an amazing array of breakout sessions, trainings, and seminars. One such seminar was devoted to inclusion and diversity. So many members shared stories and ideas. NFBCO President LaBarre appointed a committee to study and develop initiatives and approaches to ensure that not only the discussion continues. But that action reflecting the authentic experiences of all of our members are reflected in the work we do. Darian Smith has taken up the torch. The committee consists of ReNae Anderson, President, Mountains & Plains Chapter; JJ Aragon, President, Greeley Chapter; Ileen Gallegos, Board Member, Wild West Chapter; Melissa Green, long-time Federation activist; Monique Melton, leader in our Mile High Chapter; and Kevan Worley from our Colorado Springs Chapter. We urge you to be in touch with this committee if you have ideas. They will be working on activities for this Fall’s state convention. They are also planning bi-monthly calls for representatives of chapters to discuss concerns, initiatives, and progress. To get in touch with the committee chair, dsmithnfb@gmail.com.

Headshot of Darian Smith, Chair, NFBCO Diversity and Inclusion Committee

 

Colorado School for the Deaf and the Blind Returning to Learning August 24

From the aggregator: Like so many things in the year of our Lord 2020, “when we do what” is an ever-changing target. However, our CSDB has a target for students for their return to learn. According to school officials, students return on August 24. The school has received guidance from Colorado’s education officials, El Paso County Health, and others. Of course, there may be changes yet to come but we know that the school has been working with staff and families to do the very best they can to meet the needs of the children they serve in a number of ways. Including many who will be returning to campus. To get all of the details, please check out the CSDB website. NFBCO and the Colorado Center for the Blind is looking forward to working with Jamie Lugo, the highly capable and energetic principal of the School for the Blind to provide some virtual engagement mentoring for the students this Fall. We are proud of our school and we are proud of our partnership. Go Bulldogs!

 

Sports and Recreation: Moving Through Our First Virtual Convention By Jessica Beecham

The National Federation of the Blind Sports and Recreation Division loves new adventure, and we were pumped going into the first ever virtual National Convention. Like any new adventure, we knew that the virtual convention would be filled with challenges and opportunities that we had never before encountered. Our typical convention model consists of doing lots of really neat hands-on activities throughout convention week, that not only give people the opportunity to move but also increase their confidence and belief in the capacity of blind people to live the lives we want. Since a week of long days on Zoom presents the very real opportunity for Zoom fatigue, we wanted to be creative and come up with a new way to engage our members and convention attendees both within and beyond the typical virtual meeting space. Although the adventure was new, the answers to the question of “how” was the same as ever. Just MOVE!

 #NFB20Move

Before convention, we set up a Sports and Recreation Facebook Group which allowed us to engage with members, convention attendees, and allies who wanted to move in solidarity with us throughout the week. We used #nfb20move, developed a challenge, and invited our friends to play along. We asked people to post their step counts, calorie burn, or description of their workout for the day using #nfb20move. Everyone who posted was entered for a chance to win 1 of 3 $75 gift cards. Participants could receive a bonus entry for posting a described photo or video of themselves completing their daily movement and 5 bonus entries for sharing a described workout that others could enjoy. The response was overwhelming. The President of the National Federation of the Blind, Mark Riccobono, and First Lady Melissa both popped in to tell us about completing their daily step goals. Students from Hawaii told us about taking a virtual walk with President Riccobono while visiting the Presidential Suite. New mom Danielle Frampton posted mommy and me workouts with her new baby Kada. Eve Sanchez posted daily motivational videos to encourage people toward their daily movement goals. Renee Anderson posted a video showing her new treadmill desk. Maureen Nietfeld posted some of her BreakingBlind YouTube workout videos. Physical Education Major Megan Hale posted a family workout. Holman Prize Winner Tyler Merren shared some of his ReVision Training workouts and the list goes on. People shared their adventures and videos with kettle bells, martial arts, CrossFit, skim boarding, hula hooping, hiking, taking walks on the beach, lifting product to stock vending machines at work, and much more. The movement, videos, and photos shared were diverse, motivating, and definitely made a statement that blind people get our exercise and movement in almost every way conceivable.

 Moving the Agenda

During our business meeting we covered a wide array of topics including 1Touch Self Defense, aromatherapy, pairing blind and sighted runners and walkers through United in Stride, eating healthy during the pandemic, ReVision Training by Tyler Merren, moving during the pandemic, and business of the division. We had over 170 individuals in attendance which was over double the attendance of our biggest in person meeting. Attendees left the meeting with new ideas, resources, and a healthy National Convention sized dose of motivation.

 Move the Mountain

In addition to working diligently to make sure that blind people have the confidence to move in any way that we want, we also work diligently to make sure that opportunities to enjoy movement-based activities are accessible. The Sports and Recreation Division worked to co-author a resolution focused on making virtual fitness content including applications, websites, videos, and supplementary material accessible. The resolution was adopted. We are happy to report that we have already begun working closely with upper management of BeachBody, one of the largest providers of virtual content. They are eager to make their content more accessible and usable for people who are blind and low vision and we are excited to help them take steps in the right direction.

 Fit Breaks

For the last few years, the Sports and Recreation Division has offered Fit Breaks as a way to get convention attendees out of their seats and moving during General Sessions. Since we are typically instructing people to move in very tight quarters, virtual fit breaks gave us the opportunity to let our creativity flow. We did the Cupid Shuffle with Dr. Maurer, we twisted with Mrs. Maurer, we Zoomed with the NFBCO Mountain Time at 5 Crew, we did the Tootie Ta with Oriana Riccobono, and much more. All of our feedback indicated that Fit Breaks were once again a General Sessions highlight for many convention attendees.

 Move Forward

If you missed the fun at convention but would like to get involved with our division, join our Facebook Group. We will be using the group to facilitate fun challenges throughout the year. You can also contact our Outreach Chair Linda Melendez to learn more or to become a member of the Sports and Recreation Division. While we were sad that we could not be with our friends in person at the 2020 convention, we learned a lot more about utilizing the virtual space. We are excited to continue to incorporate this knowledge to create more dynamic program opportunities. Thank you to everyone who moved with us during convention and we look forward to moving forward together.  

 

Preserving Our History By Peggy Chong

Only we can tell our story from our point of view.  Our affiliate is in possession of wonderful, single-source records that tell the birth of services to the blind of Colorado, from our point of view.  Records describe the occupations and living conditions of the blind of Colorado for more than a century.  No other library, school or collection is as complete as ours. 

When we are finished, our goal is to have a searchable and accessible data base for not just us as members, but for the world to read and learn our history, in our own words.

Fifteen months ago, Julie Hunter and I began together to work on the preservation of our old records in the basement of the Colorado Center for the Blind.  Julie had sorted through boxes after a water leak and put many in file folders.  This was a great start for us. 

We are quickly finishing phase one of our History Preservation project of our old records dating back to 1915.  The files have been sorted and sent off to a digitization firm who will have them back to us by the end of August.  We are anticipating good news financially to help start phase two. 

Phase two involves beginning of the corrections to some of the OCR’ed files as well as transcribing the files that were in handwriting or such bad shape that they just don’t make sense.  What can you do to help phase two?  Here is a list.

1.            If you or your chapter has not done so already, we welcome your financial contributions to get through the next four phases of this five-year project.  With your help, we might shorten our timeline. 

2.            Ask friends, family and local businesses to help support this project.  Soon we will be sending out a fundraising brochure via Colorado-talk, targeted specifically to this project that you can save to your computer then hand carry for an ask or email far and wide.

3.            Send to me, Peggy Chong at chongpeggy10@gmail.com, your chapter or division’s electronic files of minutes, newsletters, announcements, correspondents, and other material you feel is relevant.  Even if you don’t think it is relevant, but proud of your chapter or division’s accomplishments, send it along.

4.            If you have braille records, ask a chapter member to transcribe them and email the finished project to me.  If you do not have a braille reader who can complete the project, give me a call at 303-745-0473 to work out a solution.

5.            If you have connections with a local newspaper, ask them for copies of old newspaper articles about the blind of your area, going back as far as you can.

6.            Check with your local library.  Do they have a file on your chapter?  If so, there may be information we do not have.  Get a copy and send it on to me. 

7.            Do you have pictures of chapter activities?  Please sent them along with a caption of who is in the photo, when and where the event took place. 

Look for more exciting news in the near future regarding our progress on this important project.  

 

Ring the Bell! Ring the Bell for Learning, Literacy, and Fun in the Summertime

The pandemic hasn’t stopped the National Federation of the Blind from bringing our unique brand of empowerment and education to school-aged children and their families this Summer. The highly regarded National BELL Academies switched gears this summer. Kids and families were able to enjoy the BELL Academy At-Home Edition. 13 blind Colorado students participated in this year’s Braille Enrichment for Literacy and Learning. Adjusting to new realities on the fly is one of the things that NFB does best. We congratulate our BELL participants who attended 1 of 3 two-week BELL experiences this summer. We will continue finding ways to add spice, flare, fun, and support for the educational pursuits of our blind youth as we move into Fall 2020. For information about our variety of youth programs contact Martin Becerra-Miranda, Director, Youth Programming, 303-778-1130.

 

The Education of Blind/Low Vision Students in the 21st Century
A Call for Innovation and Creative Thinking

From the aggregator: As Summer youth programs wrap and return to learning in some form or fashion is just around the corner, we thought we would post this thoughtful and provocative piece from the Colorado committee on the future of education for blind students. Here it is:

Times are changing at an accelerating pace! How can students who are blind/low vision keep up? A working group has been formed in Colorado to explore innovative ways to enhance the education of students who are blind/low vision. This group is comprised of educators, parents, and members of the National Federation of the Blind.

There is a severe shortage of qualified teachers of students who are blind/low vision, and projections into the next five to ten years show this shortage will grow even more acute. This shortage exists nationally and is not confined to the state of Colorado. In addition, the availability of educational services for blind/low vision students varies widely across the state, and there are parts of the state where these services do not exist at all. Educational materials, technology, and curricula are evolving at a rapid rate, often introducing unintended barriers which make them inaccessible and unusable for blind/low vision students. That is painfully obvious during this pandemic as our blind/ low vision students work from home, possibly required to use online learning systems which are not accessible to their assistive technology.

In light of these challenges, the working group developed and circulated a survey targeted at parents of blind/low vision children. There will also be a series of virtual town meetings in collaboration with partners such as the Colorado Center for the Blind, The Anchor Center for Blind Children, and, perhaps, other partners. The group hopes that the results of the survey and town hall meetings will gather enough data to formulate an action plan to design and implement a new and forward-looking system which offers educational services addressing the unique needs of blind/low vision students as they prepare to become productive and fully-contributing citizens in our rapidly-changing society. What do parents feel is the appropriate class size for their blind/low vision children? To what extent do parents want their students to have the opportunity to acquire or increase their ability to use technology, whether it be designed for the blind or the mainstream? How do parents feel about their students receiving more instruction in daily living skills, career exploration, and self-advocacy?

The working group is aware that Colorado has two service delivery models for students who are blind/low vision: the residential setting at the Colorado School for the Deaf and the Blind and the public school setting with itinerant services provided by Teachers of Students with Visual Impairments (TSVIs) and Certified Orientation and Mobility Specialists (COMS). Is there room for another model of service provision? How do we support and strengthen the basic education models that currently exist?

The working group is considering whether or not a private school could serve as a viable alternative for blind/low vision children. A private school of this nature has never been implemented in Colorado for blind/low vision children.

Two principles govern the thinking of this working group: First and foremost, children who are blind/low vision are entitled to an academic education equivalent to that which is provided to their sighted peers. Secondly and equally as important is the provision of specially designed instruction which addresses the unique needs of these students, among them literacy, independent travel, and a positive belief in their ability to compete on terms of equality with their sighted peers.

The goal of the working group, and indeed of parents, educators and members of the National Federation of the Blind everywhere, is to ensure the availability of educational systems for blind/low vision students which enables them to achieve success and to realize the same positive and fulfilling outcomes as their sighted classmates.

 

Update from Our State Library From Debbie MacLeod, Executive Director

We are open to staff and operating with everyone healthy at this writing.  Staff are sending you books. Our process for calling is just a bit different now. When you call the library, you will leave a message and the reader advisors will call you back. As an alternative you can always email at ctbl.info@cde.state.co.us

The fall newsletter is going to print and will be sent out in your requested format. It will be posted on the website in all the versions including HTML. Since our volunteers are on pause or working from home, we will not have a braille hardcopy version of the newsletter but are working on creating .brf files for the Spring and Fall issues on the web.

NLS staff have been working from home too so some of their processes have slowed. There was a slowdown on books being posted to BARD but that has been resolved. As a reminder, if you have broadband, a smart device and email, you can sign up for BARD and download audio books to your smart device. It is a great way to get books 24/7. Just as a reminder, you must use your account at least once every 180 days - ~6 months - or NLS will suspend the account. If that does happen, just email the library and we can reinstate the account, but your password will need to be reset.

If you want to follow us on Facebook here is the link: https://www.facebook.com/foctbl.org.

 

Dog Days of Summer

Colorado Association of Guide Dog Users will hold our August Board Meeting at 4 p.m. on Sunday, August 16th. All COAGDU members are encouraged to attend. Nonmembers are invited to join us for the conversation. For Zoom coordinates send an email to assistance@nfbco.org or call 303-929-2369.

 

That’s It for This Edition of the Blind Coloradan.

Forward, always Forward!

 


Thursday, June 25, 2020

Powerful New Blind Coloradan. We Hope You Will Read and Enjoy


National Federation of the Blind of Colorado logo including the tagline Live the Life You Want

Writer, aggregator Kevan Worley. 
Contributing editor Dan Burke.

Here is what you need to know

National Federation of the Blind of Colorado Sets Record for National Convention

Greetings Dear Readers,

This is a jammed packed edition of your Blind Coloradan. Right at the top, we want to invite each and every one of you to join us for our upcoming National Convention, July 14-18. We expect a fabulous agenda and a record-breaking turnout. NFBCO President LaBarre says we will be having our usual NFBCO convention caucus. Virtually of course. Details coming soon. You will want to participate in our caucus.

Registration for the 2020 National Federation of the Blind National Convention is closed. Those who registered will receive helpful introductory emails as well as be eligible to vote in elections and receive door prizes. However, if you did not register you are still welcome and encouraged to participate in all convention events as listed in the agenda. Find the latest information on national convention at nfb.org/convention.

NFBCO sets record for National Convention. Congratulations Colorado! You are a part of a momentous accomplishment. As you know, some of us have been speculating about the number of people, both members and non-members alike, would register for the National Convention. The goal was 300. Due to the outreach efforts of many on this team we smashed expectation!

We have registered 365 for this first virtual convention. Special word of thanks to Ileen Gallegos and her team for their amazing effort to reach blind people across the state. Kudos to our chapter presidents for their work. The National Federation of the Blind of Colorado works hard to improve the lives of blind and vision impaired people. We are pretty much on the case 365 a year. And 365 souls registered for the convention. Note: coming soon, you will receive word about pre-convention training sessions. We want to make sure that everyone will be able to access as much of this convention as you wish.

Congratulations Colorado!

 

Special Thanks to NFBCO Sponsor Comcast

Although we had no 6 Dot Dash this Spring. Comcast continues to sponsor our work in a big way. Thank you! We toast you and appreciate you.

 

Colorado Leads the Way in Accessible Voting, By Curtis Chong

On June 14, 2020, the Associated Press published an article entitled Blind voters fear loss of privacy with shift to mail voting. The article reports that because of the coronavirus pandemic, states are moving quickly to implement voting by mail so that voters who are concerned about voting in person in light of the coronavirus pandemic can request an absentee ballot. It goes on to say that for blind voters, the printed absentee ballot cannot be filled out without assistance from someone who can see the print and that this is a step backwards from using accessible systems at the polls to mark a ballot. The article mentions legal actions filed in Michigan, New York, and Pennsylvania by the National Federation of the Blind along with other organizations leading to agreements by the three states to make electronic ballots available during the primaries to voters with disabilities.

Colorado is a vote-by-mail state and has been since 2013. Last year, the National Federation of the Blind of Colorado spearheaded a successful effort in the General Assembly to enable voters with disabilities to vote using an accessible online ballot marking system. This new system has been used successfully in two previous elections and shows every sign of working well for the election in which we are now participating. Colorado is far ahead of the states mentioned in the Associated Press article. We are not rushing madly to implement an untried and untested system. What we have works and could be used as an example to the other states. As long as a registered voter with a disability has access to a computer, smart phone, or tablet; an Internet connection; and a printer, there is no need to visit a polling service center to cast an in-person vote. I appreciate that lots of folks do not have printers. But the law can be changed, and if we put our minds to it, we can work with the state of Colorado to come up with a secure way for our ballots to be submitted electronically—just as uniformed and overseas voters can today.

Note from the aggregator: We appreciate the work of Curtis Chong, Dan Burke, and others to ensure that we can vote secretly and securely. Remember that in our nation the most effective way to work for change is through the ballot box. Don’t forget to vote by the June 30 deadline. The Blind Coloradan has previously posted detailed instructions for voting by people who are blind.

You should also know that following the media coverage mentioned in Curtis’s article above, NFBCO President LaBarre sent a letter to the media further detailing our effort.

 

We Received the Following Powerful Letter from Mary Mejia. We Think It Is Important to Share

From the Aggregator: Mary Mejia is a member of NFBCO Denver Chapter. She is blind and in a wheelchair. In this post she expresses so well why we in NFBCO must continue to advocate for change.

Dear Curtis (and others),

Thank you for your hard work to make voting less difficult for Colorado citizens.

Voting in Colorado has been a demeaning experience for me personally for years.  One time I voted in Jefferson County in a fire station.  The election volunteer I was assigned was an older gentleman with hearing loss.  I had to shout my choices ACROSS THE FIRE HOUSE SO THAT ALL THE VOTERS HEARD MY PRIVATE CHOICES.  THERE WERE LOTS OF GAWKING VOTERS AND I TRIED TO DECIDE IF IT WAS MORE IMPORTANT TO VOTE OR HAVE MY PRIVACY BE INVADED.

Then there was the time I went to a school.  (I’m in a wheelchair) I took a cab and rolled into the school.  Guess what?  There were stairs and I could not get access to the voting machines.   I made a lot of racket so that the people there knew there was a problem.

A couple years ago I went to Prince Street first thing in the morning.  I attempted to vote and two of the computers broke down.  The IT department had to come down and try to remedy the situation.  A couple printers went offline.

The bosses were called in to assist.  Sheriffs and deputies came.  Other people in the building came down to see what was the fuss.

About noon I finally voted.  I attempted to put my ballot in the ballot box AND IT DIDNT FIT.  None of this was my fault.  What should have taken 15 minutes took several hours and MY PRIVACY WAS AGAIN DENIED.

This land of the free and home of the brave has a different meaning for the disabled community.  Thanks for bringing some solid answers forward.

M Mejia

 

Keeping the Empowering Training at Our CCB Alive and Thriving During the Pandemic, Needing Your Help in Congress, From Dan Burke

Blindness training programs like the Colorado Center for the Blind and our other NFB training centers have felt the effects, and we will continue to feel the effects of the health and safety measures imposed by COVID-19.

We are currently working with the National Federation of the Blind to secure an appropriation in the next coronavirus aid legislation that will benefit blindness peer support training centers, such as the Colorado Center for the Blind. If enacted, this appropriation would allocate $10,000,000 to help adjustment-to-blindness training centers to remain open; the amount of funds awarded to any one training center will not exceed 1.5 million dollars. We are asking you to call your senators and representative and urge them to include this provision in the next Coronavirus relief bill.

You can call or write your Senators and Representative in Congress. Email Dan Burke for contact info for Colorado members and for a fact sheet to email them. Reach Dan at dburke@cocenter.org

 

No Barriers Free! Virtual Summit

On the 26th and 27th of this month the NFB will have virtual exhibit space at the No Barriers Virtual Summit. The No Barriers Virtual Summit will reproduce the feel and content of the annual No Barriers Summit and Festival. This is a great opportunity for Center students. It’s a great space in which to learn about other organizations, agencies, and companies that provide support and some amazing opportunities for all people with disabilities. It will be fun to navigate a virtual summit on June 26th and June 27th. It might be a nice training or warm up for navigating an online convention, such as the great National Convention of the Federation.

Redefine what’s possible at the 2020 No Barriers Virtual Summit! Curious about what this is? No Barriers’ goal is to share the stories of truly inspiring people and to help others break down their barriers, unleashing their individual or collective potential.

They have had the privilege of working with some of the world’s most extraordinary people, like Erik Weihenmayer, one of No Barriers’ founders who was the first blind person to reach the summit of Mount Everest!

Are you ready to break through barriers? Come see what the hype is about at https://www.nobarriers.live/

We encourage you to share this info with your friends, colleagues, and students. Check out the lineup of impressive speakers and performers. This will be my 3rd No Barriers Summit. I discovered Aira at my first No Barriers Summit. And I learned salsa dancing from Paralympian Amy Purdy, who has 2 prosthetic legs. You might just find new possibilities and new passion at the No Barriers Virtual Festival. Check out the lineup, register free, and check out this audio described promotional video.

 

National Federation of the Blind, Colorado Center. This is Robert. May I help you?” By Julie Deden, Executive Director, Colorado Center for the Blind

For the past 16 years when you called the Center, you would talk to Robert Dyson. His welcoming voice was the hallmark of the Center and our NFB office.  Robert has made the decision to move to Canon City to be close to his family. He is looking forward to his new home there and plans to look for work when he arrives.

Even though Robert is leaving the Center, he is not leaving us. We will continue to benefit from his love, passion, and dedication through his work with the National Federation of the Blind of Colorado. I wish Robert the very best and look forward to seeing what the future brings him! 

Note: Julie Deden has written a longer beautiful tribute to our dear friend and colleague Robert. We encourage you to read it here on our BlogSpot. Simply put, he is one of the very best human beings on the planet. Our loss is Canon City’s gain. Robert, can you say, “new chapter?!”

 

Make the Most of Your Virtual National Convention

As readers of this blog know, Jessica Beecham is the First Vice President of NFBCO. She recently wrote an article featuring some of her famous tips and tricks. Check out the May Braille Monitor for suggestions about interesting ways to enjoy the upcoming National Convention.

 

Important Committee Update from Our Very Capable Chairperson Darian Smith

You will see that this committee is more than on task. They are tackling the serious mission to include every single member in the effort of the National Federation of the Blind. In words from our NFB pledge, “to insure equality, opportunity, and security for the blind.”

Federation family,

First, the National Federation of the Blind of Colorado Diversity and Inclusion committee expresses a heartfelt thank you to everyone who joined and participated in the Diversity and Inclusion Mountain time at 5 call this past Wednesday, June 17. Your questions, your thoughts, your honesty was felt and appreciated, and needed as we all seek to rally together to do the needed work to make ourselves and our organization stronger.

I have been asked to talk a bit about our diversity and inclusion committee here in our Colorado affiliate, who we are and what we do.

Well, let me first introduce the committee, they are a talented, thoughtful and, of course diverse collection of strong Federationists and people which I am truly fortunate to have the pleasure to work alongside.

Our committee is currently composed of ReNae Anderson, Melissa Green, Monique Melton, JJ Aragon, Kevan Worley, Eileen Gallegos and of course yours truly.

This committee was born from a collaborative effort which resulted in the diversity and inclusion seminar at last year’s state convention.  At that convention we discussed diversity of ethnic background, diversity of sexual orientation, diversity of blindness skill and diversity of lifestyle among a number of things that one could squeeze into a two hour long gathering.

After the seminar, we all thought that the conversation should continue beyond the annual convention of our affiliate and President LaBarre agreed and saw fit to create a committee and asked me to chair it.

I have enjoyed the fact that this committee, as is the case with any sustainable and successful effort, has truly been a team effort and we plan to broaden the scope of that teamwork.

We are currently planning ways to engage our chapters in a meaningful way around the topic of diversity and inclusion, with intentions on more frequent, potentially monthly gatherings.

We will also start to turn our attention towards planning for the state convention in the coming weeks, thinking about what impactful ways we can bring awareness, appreciation and of course inclusion of all of our blind brothers and sisters no matter what characteristic we carry with us as a part of us.

If you have any suggestions as to what we should talk about or how we should talk about it, we want to hear from you.

If you have any ideas around types of diversity we should be thinking about, should be working to bring greater attention to, we want to hear about this as well.

I can be reached at dsmithnfb@gmail.com if you have anything you would like to contribute.

Our goal as a committee is to do whatever our affiliate feels is needed to see that all blind people are recognized and respected.  Even more than that, that all of our blind brothers and sisters feel loved, because without the love we can’t have the hope or the determination that transforms our individual and collective dreams into reality.

We need you to make this happen, we need all of us in order to make this happen.

Let’s make a reality where love conquers hate, and let’s continue to build the National Federation of the Blind.

 

Celebrating Pride, By JJ Aragon

JJ is an accomplished student, activist, and President of our Greeley Chapter.

This pride month of June, I am celebrating my tenth year of being out of the closet. At age fifteen, I began to notice my attraction to women. At age seventeen, I came out as bisexual. Today, I am living an open and content life with my partner of five years.

But before all of that, I was blind. My first "coming out" happened three months before anyone expected. What can I say? I was a bouncy baby girl who couldn't wait to see the world, and so what if I was only two and a half pounds!

Note: Read more of JJ’s amazing story on our BlogSpot.

 

Change the Way You Think, and You Will Change the Way You Live, By Gail Hamilton

Gail is a nationally recognized motivational speaker and accomplished author (memoir, “Soaring into Greatness,” blogs, articles, and daily inspirations) who is totally blind. She has earned two Masters degrees, sang leading roles in two major opera productions, helped build her former Habitat for Humanity home, and was crowned Ms. Colorado Senior America. Her astounding experiences, immense knowledge and unparalleled determination have inspired thousands to live lives of vision, purpose, and action. Gail believes if you change the way you see, you will change the way you live!

Here is what Gail says: 

The Black Lives Matter movement has given many the opportunity to give thoughtful consideration to racial injustice and system oppression of people who are Black. 

As a blind person, I empathize with all people who feel ‘less than’, lacking in value, unloved, and not respected. I too have been living in a society that has me sidelined because of my ‘difference’. 

All people are valuable, lovable, and should be respected. It’s okay to be different; never okay to be treated as less than. I am as valuable an individual as those who have sight. Even though my physical eyes don’t see, my inner vision is strong. 

I have a voice. I have worth. In my unique circumstances I am qualified to say “just because you have eyes, doesn’t mean you see.” Just because you have eyes, doesn’t mean you are more valuable than me.

I am not less than, I am equal too. As society starts to wake up from its too-long slumber regarding racial inequality, we will more fully grasp that all people, regardless of race, gender, color, ethnicity, religions, or disability, are equal. 

Our skin, our abilities, or our disabilities, aren’t what makes us worthy or important. It is our hearts, our humanity, our kindnesses, and our love towards others that makes the greatest impact. 

Right now is the opportune time to embrace our differences and inner vision, and importantly, to decide how we want to evolve. Do we want to live like we have in the past? Do we want to keep living automatically reacting to external circumstances? Or do we want to be in charge of our lives? In charge of our futures? And in charge of creating our destinies? 

If we look inside our hearts and minds and consider deeply our beliefs and faith, our attitudes on diversity and inclusion, and focus on what action(s) we can take to move ourselves forward, then we will truly change the way we see, and we will truly change the way we ALL live.

 

Congratulations to Our Colorado Springs Chapter!

On June 13th, our Springs chapter elected the following leaders:

President: Jeanette Fortin
Vice President: JoAnne Franklin
Secretary: Betty Pearson
Treasurer: Lynn Harrington
Board members: Brian Smith, Jillian O’Connor, Julie Newman.

Keep up your great work and thank you for your leadership!

 

Congratulations to the newly elected Board of our NFBCO Mile High Chapter

President: Cody Bair
Vice President: Monique Melton
Treasurer: Gary Van Dorn
Secretary: Jodi Witthaus
Board members: Lisa Bonderson and Pipi Adams

Make us proud, Mile High

 

Aurora June Chapter Meeting Happens Saturday Morning, June 27 at 10:30 a.m.

From the Aggregator: We received the following notice from Curtis Chong, Secretary, Aurora Chapter. In this announcement Curtis provides all! the info to join the chapter. We are posting it in detail so that folks become even more familiar with joining our zoom events. Here is what Curtis says: 

According to President, Dale Holden:

"You will be able to participate in the meeting from your easy chair so that you can enjoy life along with the rest of us.” 

"We will hear an excerpt from the June Presidential Release, 'National Federation of the Blind Stands in Solidarity with All Those Impacted by Racial Injustice'. We will also be starting a new meeting segment in which individual members will tell us about themselves and how blindness may have affected them. Joe Triplett, our vice president, will tell us about himself; many of you may know that Joe moved to Colorado late in his life.” 

As we did for our May meeting, we will be using the Zoom platform. As the host and meeting moderator, I plan to check into the meeting on or about 10:00 so that early arrivals can connect in and chat with each other before the meeting actually begins. 

You can join the meeting in a number of ways—from a traditional conference phone call or using the Zoom program on a computer, smart phone, or tablet. 

Joining the Zoom Meeting with a Traditional Phone Call:
To join the meeting, call 1-346-248-7799. When asked to enter the meeting ID, enter 96527827064 followed by the pound sign. 

While in the call, you can use the following two commands which you can enter with your telephone's dial keypad: 
Star 6 to mute and unmute yourself during the meeting. 
Star 9 to raise or lower your virtual hand. 

If you are using your iPhone to dial into the meeting, take advantage of the following one-tap mobile link here:
+13462487799,,96527827064# 

Joining the Meeting Using the Zoom Software:
Here is the direct link to join the Zoom meeting using Zoom:
https://zooSm.us/j/96527827064?pwd=cHBTa0lZT0ZBZFUwQm9iWjlBT0t4dz09

The following information is available if you need it:
Meeting ID: 965 2782 7064
Meeting Password: 809923 

If any of this information is confusing, please feel free to call me directly at 303-745-0473. Also, if you have any trouble connecting on the day of the meeting, please call me right away at this same number. 

I look forward to seeing all of you at our meeting on June 27. Thank you.

 

Sunday! Sunday! Sunday!

Greetings blind canine cruisers,

Our next Colorado Association of Guide Dog Users meeting is Sunday, June 28 at 4 p.m. We will appreciate hearing the voices of those of you who can make it.

Join Zoom Meeting:

https://zoom.us/j/7206208007

Meeting ID: 720 620 8007

One tap mobile

+13462487799,,7206208007#

 German Shepherd guide dog in harness lying down in front of Fidelco logo.


 The Blind History Lady, By Peggy Chong

Peggy Chong is working on a project to preserve our NFB of Colorado and blindness history of Colorado.  From time to time, she likes to share tidbits of our history to entice all of us to learn more and look for articles and documents relating to the history of the NFBCO that we can add to our archives.  You can help!  Does your chapter have old records, files, or documents to contribute?  You can send an ear marked contribution from yourself, your chapter, friends, or community organizations that would love to help us preserve our history.  Contact Peggy Chong, 303-745-0473 for more information.

Find the History Lady’s latest offering about the relationship between the President of the United Workers for the Blind and the 1st President of the National Federation of the Blind, Jacobus tenBroek, back in 1941. Read and enjoy our history on the BlogSpot.                    

 

It is 2020 National Organization of Parents of Blind Children, NOPBC, Virtual Convention Time! Register TODAY!

An important note for parents and educators from our Colorado Organization of Parents of Blind Children President from the Grand Valley, Rob Harris:

2020 NOPBC Conference at the NFB Convention

Welcome to the 2020 NOPBC Conference Registration portal. This conference will be held July 14-18, 2020, in conjunction with the Annual Convention of the National Federation of the Blind.

Virtual Reality: Accessible Learning, Activities, and Networking Opportunities for Blind Children and Their Families.
We will meet and gather virtually. The knowledge we gain and the relationships we make will form our reality.

 

End of Academic Year Brings Accolades to Staff and Students at Our Colorado School for the Deaf and the Blind

Congratulations to this year’s Valedictorian Jack Lambert. Jack often makes an appearance at our Colorado Springs city blind meetups. A very bright young man from the school for the blind, Jack has ambitious plans for education and employment. With a big heart and generous spirit, it seems that Jack Lambert is always ready to lend a helping hand. Congratulations. I think we are going to hear big things from Jack Lambert in the years to come!

We also congratulate the Rookie Employee of the Year, Michaela Parlin, IT.

There was a tie for Employee of the Year! Amanda Padilla, Student Life Supervisor, and Pete Peterson, Shipping and Receiving.

Of course, the year culminated with graduation ceremonies. They were certainly much different this year. In fact, CSDB was still planning and getting approvals up until the very last minute. Nevertheless, we say job well done seniors. Congratulations and best of luck on your future in an ever-changing world. If we in the National Federation of the Blind of Colorado can ever be of service and support, we genuinely look forward to it. 

We urge you to check out all of the end of year happenings on the Colorado School for the Deaf and the Blind Facebook page.

https://www.facebook.com/CSDBBulldogs