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Wednesday, November 11, 2020

With Humble Thanks Giving We Offer You Our November Blind Coloradan


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

From the Aggregator:

We are putting this issue of the Blind Coloradan to bed on Veterans Day. We have not the words to express our thanks and profound appreciation for the heroic men and women who have given so much service to this country. A special thanks to our Veteran members and to all who have served or are serving. Thank you for making it possible for us to have the liberty without which there may not be a National Federation of the Blind.

So much to post. We will need a few blogs to catch you up on all the news of importance to the blind of Colorado. As we protect and connect the blind of Colorado through the holidays. We hope you will be informed and inspired by the blogs we post in the weeks to come. With a heart of appreciation for all of our members, allies, friends, Colorado Center for the Blind staff and students, wonderful sponsors, and others who read and contribute to this blog, and service to the blind and vision impaired of Colorado, thank you. Remember that the NFBCO hotline is checked regularly, 303-778-1130 ext. 219. As is our email address. If you are in need during this time of pandemic, throughout the holidays, please call or email your Federation family. We can offer advice, advocacy, and may be able to connect blind folks in need with helpful resources. We realize most of us are pretty self-reliant blind folks. But these are tough times. We will help if we can.

On October 9, Colorado Center for the Blind staff and students walked from the center to our apartments, a total of 2.2 miles or 3.54K. It was our celebration of October's Meet the Blind Month, White Cane Day and our NFB of Colorado/Colorado Center for the Blind Comcast 6 Dot Dash. Our route took us west to the South Platte River and then across it.

Throughout this blog, our non-blind friends will enjoy a few pictures snapped by CCB volunteer extraordinaire Mike Thompson. Fall is always beautiful in Colorado.

5 CCB students walking on a trail through trees whose leaves have changed from green to yellow and red

A Message of Thanks, Faith, and Love from Scott LaBarre, President, National Federation of the Blind of Colorado


It is, perhaps, in this turbulent year that I am more thankful than ever for my Federation family, and I just want to take a moment to express my gratitude.  Without you, this year would be so much more difficult to navigate successfully.  There are two major reasons why this is so.

First, when the COVID-19 Pandemic shut us down, I did not have to create a new community or find a new mechanism to cope with the isolation that so many have had to face.  My family was already there, ready to support me.  Not only were you there, you were ready to shift to a virtual environment almost immediately with great creativity and love.  In particular, our Colorado Federation was the first to offer Zoom meetings, our now famous Mountain Time at 5.  Many other affiliates recognized our success and copied our concepts. 

The other major reason is that our philosophy is much more than one addressing blindness, it is a meaningful philosophy for leading a successful and enriched life.  Just as we do not let our blindness negatively define us or       artificially limit our futures, we have not permitted this awful Pandemic and all the other strife to hold us back and detour us from our ultimate goal.  In fact we have grown and strengthened our roots during these difficult times.  I think we have proven our belief   that no force on this Earth is strong enough to preclude us from reaching the time when society views us first as fellow humans who simply experience the world in a different way and not as broken sighted people.  This is not to make light     of the serious barriers we face because of our blindness or the tragic loss caused by the events of 2020, but rather it is to say that we have the community and a strong set of values and beliefs that allow us to emerge from tough times prepared to meet the future with hope, love, and success.

Before I conclude these brief remarks and as we greet the coming holiday season, the LaBarre’s want to wish each an everyone of you a    healthy, safe, and joyous season.  We are truly grateful for your presence in our lives.

It is in this troubled year that I find deepening value in some of our core values.  Together with love, hope, and determination, we transform our dreams into reality.  Despite this difficult year, I am filled with that hope, energy, and love by participating in our Federation because my expectations are raised, my contributions make a difference to me and to others, and I can celebrate the realization of my dreams with my Federation family. 


Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold Participates in NFB State Convention Election Discussion

Friday afternoon, October 30, featured a powerful convention General Session. One of the most anticipated items was a presentation from and a planned Q&A session with Jena Griswold. Her staff has been working closely with our Chair of the accessible ballot initiative to fully implement the 2019 accessible voting legislation. Even with a general election in full swing, Secretary of State Jena Griswold took her valuable time fielding our questions, engaging with our Committee Chair Curtis Chong, and pledging to continue to consider options to make the process even more “blind user friendly.” You can listen to the entire conversation at


Did You Vote?

We don’t care if you voted for Kanye, Charlie Brown, Pat Paulson, or Paul Sandoval for President. But, in order for us to continue making progress toward our goal for complete accessible secret independent voting, your input is crucial! Blind friends, please take just a few.
Complete our national voter survey today!


Going for The Gold!

From the aggregator: you have heard that old great George Jones Country Western song, “The Race is On.” Well, the race is over for 2020. Thanks to all of you for participating in The Dash! We offer a special note of thanks to our Gold Sponsors: Blackstone Consulting Inc., Spectrum, LaBarre Law, First Bank, Philadelphia Insurance.
You can find The Dash results here.

The Monday, November 9 Mountain Time at 5 featured the final pep rally for this year’s Dash. If you missed it, you can enjoy a recording of our revelry on our NFBCO YouTube channel. It was more fun than humans should be allowed to have. Until next year, may the spirit of The Dash be with you.


Migs House of Improv

Greetings All,

Sunday, November 15, 1:00 p.m. Mountain time is your opportunity to become a better version of yourself by joining Migs House Improv. Whether you have acted before or just want to experience the fun for the first time, come join us for two action-packed hours of improv hilarity.

Dare to let your fellow improvisors make choices that guide your amusement and growth.

Join us at the Zoom coordinates below, and let the fun begin.

You are cordially invited to a scheduled Zoom meeting.

 Topic: Migs House Improv Zoom Meeting

Time: Nov 15, 2020 01:00 PM Mountain Time (US and Canada)

 Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 720 284 2318

Passcode: 632282

One tap mobile



Colorado Department of Labor and Employment Met with Mixed Emotions from NFBCO Membership at State Convention

From the aggregator: One of the most interesting discussions at the recent state convention occurred during the presentation by the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment and the CDLE unit, Blindness and Low Vision Services, BLVS. Blind Coloradan readers know that NFBCO has been the spearhead of accountability, efficacy, and change within the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation for decades. It was partially due to our efforts along with then State Representative and former rehabilitation counselor, now Lieutenant Governor Diana Primavera that brought about a distinct unit within the administration to focus on the real needs, aspirations, and goals of DVR clients who are blind or low vision. When Joe Barela, Executive Director, of the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment addressed the convention during our Friday afternoon General Session, he began his remarks by regaling us with the history of the transfer of DVR from Health and Human Services to the Department of Labor and Employment. Director Barela seemed not to know that we were there at the time, he was not. We worked very closely with his predecessor, CDLE Director Ellen Golombek. After working with stakeholders to guide the ambitious effort to bring the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation from the mammoth agency Health and Human Services, HHS, over to the Department of Labor and Employment, as well as to establish Blind and Low Vision Services with her trademark care and capacity she subsequently left the agency for a position in Washington, D.C.  Mr. Barela seemed unprepared to field substantive questions from blind consumers. He wasn’t there during the time of the transitions that took place 5 years ago. We were. We drove the change and we collaborated with our state partners to implement the change. Following Director Barela’s presentation, we heard from Krista Hedlund who for almost 2 years now has served as Manager of Blindness and Low Vision Services. Leaders of the Federation served with other stakeholders on the final round of interviews that recommended Krista Hedlund for the BLVS manager position. It was an honor as well as a right and a responsibility to be an integral part of the process. After all, this individual would be following the first manager of BLVS, Julia Zanon. Zanon had vast experience working within the division serving both blind and general rehab clients over a long and distinguished career. She was responsible for a smooth transition into the new BLVS unit. Over the past 2 years, it is clear that the unit has been extraordinarily successful in meeting the needs of blind consumers. There is no waiting list. Clients are being served. Wages for employment closures are up. Collaborations with counselors around the state who are not specifically assigned to the unit are working well. The unit is successful by most any measure. Manager Hedlund provided a glowing and rather detailed report during her presentation.

However, when it came to a thorough, responsive discussion of one of the most important employment programs for the blind within her unit, Director Barela and Manager Hedlund were mum! As one Federation member put it, “they both seemed like deer in the headlights. It seemed like they couldn’t get out of our convention quick enough. This lack of responsiveness and lack of respect is something we haven’t seen from agency administrators in a long, long time.” Although both Director Barela and Manager Hedlund had been well advised of the format of the session and the time allotted for their presentations. They both indicated that they had meetings scheduled for 3:00 and had to leave the convention of the organized blind of Colorado without engaging in a full discussion of the problems plaguing the Business Enterprise Program. Krista Hedlund, who has assumed day-to-day management of the Business Enterprise Program following the departure of long-time BEP Program Manager Dan Whalen last Spring, refused to answer substantive questions put to her by our State President Scott LaBarre. When Scott respectfully posed direct questions, she would not provide answers related to the operators’ claim of lack of oversight and active participation. Manager Hedlund hid behind the process fiction that the operators’ appeal was still in progress. Scott rightfully pointed out that this was not the case. She had already formally denied the grievance submitted by the elected committee of operators. The committee had not yet decided whether or not to take the next formal steps to appeal her ruling. Therefore, attorney LaBarre suggested that she was indeed free to comment.

Note, you can read the resolution passed by the convention regarding the disruptions and discord within Business Enterprise Program here. We urge Blind Coloradan readers to listen to the full discussion with CDLE here.

It is important to commend the Division, Manager Hedlund, and her dedicated staff for the great work they are doing to support blind consumers on their path to employment. It is important to recognize the collaboration the unit has with our Colorado Center for the Blind. But it is equally incumbent on the blind of Colorado to point out not only the abject failures now prevalent within the Business Enterprise Program as well as to express our outrage at the way the blind of Colorado, assembled in annual convention, were treated. It is very reasonable to expect the agency to set about making the change demanded in resolution 2020-05.

We urge you to review resolution 2020-05 to gain an understanding of the disfunction within the Business Enterprise Program of Colorado. As Krista Hedlund left the Zoom stage without providing answers to our questions, I received a text from a member that said, “what is she doing? This is the most important meeting of her constituents all year. Unless she has a 3:00 meeting with the Governor she should cancel. She should spend time at our convention and learning from the blind of Colorado who hired her.”

We think it is also important to point out that one of the first items of business for Joe Barela upon his joining the Governor’s cabinet, was to appoint a new Director of Division of Vocational Rehabilitation, DVR. As most readers of this blog know, in spite of precedent to the contrary, consumers were barred from taking part in that appointment process. At that time, we wondered if that would establish a pattern of exclusionary behavior from the new Executive Director.

Note: Following this presentation the convention heard from Lieutenant Governor Diana Primavera. The Lt. Governor reaffirmed her long-standing partnership with the National Federation of the Blind of Colorado.

Prior to their hasty departure from our Convention, Executive Director Barela and Manager Hedlund promised our membership that they would engage in serious discussions about the future of the programs affecting the employment of the blind in our state.  Since then, President LaBarre has been involved in two long and detailed conversations with Director Barela. LaBarre indicates that significant commitments have been made to improve the BEP and other programs but that we must remain vigilant and strong to transform these verbal commitments into reality. 


Join Springs Chapter Meeting, Saturday, November 14, 10 a.m. For All The Zoom Info Email


Now Therefore Be It Resolved by The National Federation of the Blind of Colorado Assembled at our 66th Annual State Convention

From the aggregator: WHEREAS, the convention is the supreme governing authority of the Federation; and

WHEREAS, we are a grassroots civil rights movement; and

WHEREAS, resolutions are a way for members to make their thoughts, ambitions, challenges, hopes, and dreams come alive in Federation policy; and

WHEREAS, these policies are the foundation for and guide the effort of the Federation in the months and years to come. We considered a variety of resolutions at the recent convention. The membership passed all 7 resolutions recommended by the committee. We encourage you to read the resolutions in full here. We will be discussing each of these resolutions in future posts of the Blind Coloradan.


Getting the Rest, Relaxation, and Mindfulness We Need to Nourish the Body and Spirit

Join co-hosts Maureen Nietfeld, Jessica Beecham, and Clinical Nurse Educator Shauna Jatho for a refreshing Mountain Time at 5 Zoom! Wednesday, December 2nd. The program is just what we need in the midst of the holidays. Learn about and enjoy some mindfulness exercises lead by Maureen. Learn more about Non-24 sleep disorder from Shauna Jatho. Ask your questions about non-24 sleep disorder, mindfulness, meditation, and relaxation. Of course, Jessica Beecham will have some of her famous tips and tricks.

For information email or call the hotline, 303-778-1130 ext. 219. We’ll get back to you when we wake up.


Governor Appoints New Members to Colorado School for the Deaf and the Blind Board of Regents

Governor of Colorado, Jared Polis, announces appointments to the CSDB Board of Trustees. We welcome Michael Merrifield, of Colorado Springs and Meghan Klassen of Denver. Michael was a long-time member of the General Assembly. Meghan is the Executive Director of the Anchor Center for Blind Children. They are both dear friends of NFBCO. We know they will serve CSDB well.

Headshots of Michael Merrifield and Meghan Klassen

 Calling All Parents! Calling All Parents!

It’s time to celebrate the holidays with the Colorado Organization of Parents of Blind Children, COPBC, and our NFBCO Blind Parents Division. It’s a big family holiday party with raffles, gifts, fun and games, and love Saturday, December 12 from 2 to 4. They will be making two crafts. A Santa Claus and candy canes.

For Santa Claus you will need:

One paper plate,

One red and black crayon or marker and to make it tactile we recommend a glitter pen,

Three buttons to make it tactile,

And several cotton balls.


For the candy cane craft you will need:

A package of pipe cleaners,

And a package of pony beads.

For more information and to find out how you can help plan the festivities, and/or if your family needs assistance with purchasing items for these crafts to be able to participate please be in touch with Maureen Nietfeld by November 25th, 215-353-7218.

Bringing Santa’s Magic to Your Blind Children

From the aggregator: So, I asked Siri, “how old is Santa Claus?” Siri said, “I hear you get on the naughty list for asking that.” Hey parents, stay off the naughty list! Request a Braille letter from Santa from the North Pole, the National Federation of the Blind Jernigan Institute.

Every December, the National Federation of the Blind helps Santa send letters in Braille to young blind children across the country. 

A young boy with a white cane sits on Santa's lap. 

Nothing promotes reading like a letter from Santa! Last year's letter inspired Louise to Braille her own letter to Santa to leave with milk and cookies, since, as she put it, "Santa must be able to read Braille if he can write it!" Thank you!

How did it start? Well, more than ten years ago, Santa asked us to be his honorary elves. Ever since, we've been helping him send letters in contracted Braille to blind children who are ten years old and younger in the United States. Along with the Braille letter, Santa includes a print letter so that those who might not read Braille can follow along. He also includes other fun holiday activities.

Submit your requests between November 9 and December 16.

Request a Santa Letter


Colorado School for the Deaf and the Blind, CSDB, Celebrates White Cane Awareness Day in Song

The Bulldog Band put their own blindness spin on the classic Journey song, Don’t Stop Believing. It’s all about their journey with a long white cane. If you were not able to join the opening ceremony of our 66th Annual State Convention you missed this joyful version. Check it out! Thanks, and go Bulldogs! 


Make a Joyful Noise

We’d like to thank choir director, President of our Mountains and Plains Chapter ReNae Anderson and our extraordinary Producer Engineer Kevin Kovacs, along with all of the members of the NFBCO virtual Convention choir. You guys were almost as good as the Bulldog band. It was wonderful to hear the choir at times during the convention. I can think of no greater example, no greater exhibition of the family teamwork it took to put this performance together virtually. As we often say in the Federation, our movement is made strong through individual actions collectively focused. As we approach the season of giving and thanks it gives us great joy to celebrate the harmony of this affiliate. It took a lot of people working closely together to put on our one-of-a-kind NFBCO virtual convention. In order to present content of substance this year, we needed a different kind of logistical coordination and technical expertise. We are truly in the debt of the team of Curtis Chong, Paul Sandoval, and Kevin Kovacs, among others. And we offer congratulations to the splendid music performed by our choir.

An old barn nestled among trees with changing colored leaves and reflected in the pond


A Note to Motivate Myself and Clarify My Path by Maureen Nietfeld

Maureen Nietfeld headshot

From the Associate Editor: The Braille Monitor is the flagship publication of the National Federation of the Blind. We often link you, dear reader, to articles we find interesting in the Braille Monitor. Those of you who read the Monitor will know that the November issue carried an article from our affiliate secretary and sister Maureen Nietfeld. During this time of great challenge and tremendous change we thought you might be interested in reading the entire article. She shows that you can be inspiring and motivating without being maudlin. She shows why she is our brilliant and undaunted Maureen Bassmaster Nietfeld. We offer you this article in love, peace, and Thanksgiving. Here is how Gary Wunder, Braille Monitor Editor extraordinaire began the piece.   

From the Editor: People who remember the scholarship class of 2019 will remember Maureen Nietfeld. She faces more obstacles each day than many of us will face in a lifetime, yet she does not complain. What follows is a diary and a motivational talk she gave to herself. When a friend saw it, Maureen was encouraged to send it to the Monitor to see if there was anything worth publishing. She did, we did, and now you can benefit. When I read this, I think of the number of pity parties I’ve attended on my behalf and how often I’ve seriously considered giving up. Whatever Maureen may have considered, giving up was not what she did. Enjoy! 

I let blindness and many medical problems act as a barrier to my ultimate dream of getting my degree, so in January of 2017, I made the decision that I would no longer let this be. I started going to school at Metropolitan State University of Denver and set my goal to pursue a bachelor’s degree in lifestyle medicine with a minor in pre-healthcare. It was also in January 2017 that a repeat MRI of my brain indicated that I would ultimately need another brain surgery and a treatment of stereotactic radiation. It seemed that my never-ending cycle of barriers was beginning again. I had said to myself that I was going to finish this degree no matter what challenge would meet me in the years to come. My journey began, and the challenges over the next three years were definitely not in short supply.

In February 2017 I had my first round of stereotactic radiation. The doctors assured me that there would be no side effects, and I could go about my life the very next day. Unfortunately, I fell in the 1 percent, and within one hour after radiation my brain began to swell. I had to begin a regimen of high doses of steroids to combat the brain swelling, and for the next two years, due to the brain pressure, I would throw up pretty much every single day. I continued to make it through my first semester. After discussing the need for a very dangerous brain stem surgery, we decided to schedule it in May so I could finish my semester. My plan was to recover over the break and begin summer classes in June.

Around this time, I was also notified that I was selected as one of the thirty finalists in the NFB national scholarship process. This meant that I would be going to national convention in July. I figured that having surgery in May would allow me plenty of time to begin school in June and attend the convention in July. 

The surgery was definitely more complicated than anyone anticipated, and my recovery was nothing like I had ever experienced in the thirty-plus surgeries prior to this one. The surgery caused severe damage to my right side, and I was left with the inability to use my right hand and arm. Ultimately the function and feeling in my right hand would never return, and I am left with increased balance issues and pain. I attended the national convention in July with the assistance of my mother and a wheelchair. I was awarded the top scholarship that year. To say that I was elated would be an understatement. My colleagues in the organized blind movement supported me again with not only this unbelievable honor but funding that would help me pursue my academic and vocational goals. I was more than elated. But I really had no earthly idea how I would finish my degree. How would I be able to finish school not being able to use a computer anymore, having to relearn so much, and living in this awful pain? I knew that the National Federation of the Blind believed in me, and therefore I had to find the strength to continue to believe in myself. My friends and loved ones rose up to support me as well, and I knew that together we would find a way. 

Learning to type one-handed was not an option because I had already been doing that. Due to a stroke when I was twenty-five, I had limited feeling in my left hand. I had been one-handed typing all these years using my right hand, and now that was taken away as well. I ultimately learned to be left-handed. Through the use of an iPhone, readers, and scribes, I continued with school. One of my dearest and best friends, Erin Daley, has worked tirelessly as my reader scribe. We developed a fantastic way of working together, and I was filled with promise that, with these modifications, I had found a solution. I was able to complete the summer courses that year and continued with the fall semester. I was also able to return to work as a home management instructor at the Colorado Center for the Blind. I continued to just slowly figure out my world with this additional disability. Travel became a major struggle, having to use my left hand and dealing with all of the balance issues, but I was able to receive a guide dog. Reilly has been an amazing addition to my life and my family’s life.

Nine months later I was continuing a slow recovery but ultimately felt like I was regaining my life. In February we received the biggest shock of my life—I was pregnant! I was always told that pregnancy would be too risky for me. Pregnancy can cause a progression in my disease and ultimately more tumors could grow. I also have a kidney transplant, and pregnancy could cause my transplanted organ to fail. There were so many fears, but the joy of this amazing miracle stifled all of them.

I continued to go to work, school, and adjust to my new normal. I was a new guide dog handler, a person with a multiple disability, and soon I would be a mom. On August 13, 2018, we went to the hospital, and I was in labor. Logan wouldn’t actually arrive until August 15 due to some major complications. I had become preeclamptic, my brain was swelling, and my kidney was failing. The physicians and nurses worked tirelessly around the clock to keep me stable, and Logan and I pulled through. The next seventeen days were the hardest of my life. Logan had to stay in the NICU because he was only thirty-four weeks. I was sicker than I think I ever had been in my life and was struggling every day. Eventually, after what seemed like an eternity, that nightmare ended, and we were able to bring Logan home. We had decided that I would leave my job at the Colorado Center for the Blind and stay home to be with Logan. I continued to attend school and was able to find employment that allowed me to work part-time from home. 

Once again, I was adjusting to my new normal. I was no longer a home management teacher at the Colorado Center for the Blind, but I was more than thrilled to be a mom. I loved every minute I got to be with Logan, and I continued to recover and took that fall semester off to adjust to our new life. I returned to school that January, and soon after the terrible headaches began again. It was the summer of 2019. The convention of the National Federation of the Blind was in Las Vegas, and of course David and I attended. It really became evident to me that something was very wrong that week. I constantly had terrible headaches, dizziness, and just knew something was wrong. When we got home, I made an appointment for my routine MRI of my brain. It showed that an existing brain tumor had gotten significantly larger, and we would need to operate. They wanted to operate that September, but I opted to deal with the side effects I was experiencing until December so I could complete another semester of school. On December 5, 2019, I had to get another brain surgery. This would make my thirty-fifth surgery. I was able to work with my teachers that semester and finished two weeks early. I was able to submit all my work in advance and took my finals early. I then had forty days to recover until the next semester. 

The semester of spring 2020 I took eighteen credits, meaning I only had five credits to complete in summer of 2020. August 13 has been an amazing day in my life. That day nine years ago David and I were married, two years ago I went into labor with Logan, and I received an email from my university that my bachelors of science in lifestyle medicine with a minor in pre-healthcare had been awarded.

Three years, two brain surgeries, brain radiation, and a baby later I am finally a college graduate!! I wrote this down as a reminder to myself and one day to Logan that dreams can become reality. No matter what challenges lie ahead, we all have the strength to rise up and face them.


#MyCaneMyIndependence An Effort by a Non-Blind Teenage Member

Only a couple of days before this year’s White Cane Awareness Day we received a note from Rishika Kartik. She is a thoughtful, imaginative young woman. She is also committed to equity for all. She had the idea that we could begin using the hashtag #MyCaneMyIndependence during our White Cane Awareness Day activities. Maybe it is something we want to focus on a bit more extensively next October. There just wasn’t time to pull the trigger on such a thoughtful campaign this time. It is all of the members like Rishika who make our Federation family what it is. Thank you, Rishika! #MyCaneMyIndependence.


Audio Information Network Brings News, Views, and More to the Blind of Colorado

From the aggregator: as our First Vice President, Jessica Beecham, said when offering appreciation to AIN, “AIN is like a sister entity to NFB-NEWSLINE here in Colorado. They bring content not available from NFB-NEWSLINE. NFB-NEWSLINE brings content that is mostly not available through AIN.” We received the following important notice from AIN’s energetic Executive Director Kim Wardlow. We hope you will participate in the survey. This is what she says;

I enjoyed participating in the virtual NFBCO Conference.  Thank you to everyone who stopped by the AINC booth!  There is still time to participate in the short survey to tell us what type of audio information would benefit you.  We will draw the names of two survey participants who will receive a $25 Amazon gift card.  The link for the survey is here.


NFBCO Activist Jennifer Spears Starts Up New Business With 10% of Sales to Benefit Colorado Center for the Blind

From the aggregator: if you are going to shop online, why not support our colleagues and friends this holiday season. At the recent NFBCO State Convention many door prizes and auction items came from La Bella Baskets, “the Spearit of Giving.” We thought you might want to read this announcement from Jennifer Spears.

I am writing to inform you of a fundraiser I have started by means of a nice side business. The company is called La Bella Baskets. My page is called Spearit of Giving. The beginning is spelled like my last name Spears rather than the standard spelling of spirit. Catchy, no? 

La Bella Baskets has products within the following categories:

Gift Baskets

Candles and Accessories

Cookies and Cookie Bouquets

Flowers and Plants

Chocolate-Covered Treats


Personalized Items

There is also a section called La Bella Boutique where customers can find items for $20 and under. On top of that, we offer candle, cookie, flower and discount memberships. 

Please visit for more details.

Ten percent of sales will be donated to the Colorado Center for the Blind.

Thank you for your time.



NFB-NEWSLINE Mobile 3.0 with KNFB Reader Basic Released

Free iOS App Now Available.

The National Federation of the Blind has released version 3.0 of NFB-NEWSLINE Mobile to the Apple App Store. The brand new, redesigned app not only allows subscribers to access all of the content available through NFB-NEWSLINE from their iPhone, iPad, or other iOS device, but includes a free basic version of the KNFB Reader mobile app. This is a powerful new tool from NFB-NEWSLINE. For information, go to the app store or learn all about NFB-NEWSLINE at Are you a subscriber to NFB-NEWSLINE? If so, thank you! I’ll bet there is more content up there that will excite you than you have even discovered. Search around. It is a powerful service. Want to give someone an easy gift this holiday season? Assist your blind brothers and sisters to get signed up for NFB-NEWSLINE. They will thank you, and together we will be building the National Federation of the Blind.


Sunrise and golden leaves reflected on the pond with mountains in the background

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

We wish for each and every one of you a safe and joy-filled giving of the thanks.

Forward, always Forward!

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

National Federation of the Blind of Colorado Virtual Convention Agenda


National Federation of the Blind of Colorado
 66th Annual State Convention
October 29 – October 31, 2020
 Anywhere & Everywhere!



Scott C. LaBarre, President

2233 W. Shepperd Avenue

Littleton, CO 80120



Black and white logo of the National Federation of the Blind of Colorado including the tagline Live the Life you want



  I pledge to participate actively in the effort of the

  National Federation of the Blind to achieve equality,   

  opportunity, and security for the blind; to support the 

  policies and programs of the Federation and to abide 

  by its constitution.




  The National Federation of the Blind knows that   

  blindness is not the characteristic that defines you or

  your future. Every day we raise the expectations of

  blind people because low expectations create

  obstacles between blind people and their dreams.

  You can live the life you want; blindness is not what 

  holds you back.



We extend our sincerest gratitude to our Live the Life You Want Sponsor, Colorado Center for the Blind.

Since 1988, the CCB has been changing what it means to be blind one life at a time.  The Center has provided world class blindness training to students from all over the world.  Contact Julie Deden, Executive Director,, 303-778-1130.  Also visit for more information.


Comcast, Title Sponsor

Vanda Pharmaceuticals, Inc., Platinum Sponsor

1st Bank, Gold Sponsor

Blackstone Consulting, Gold Sponsor

LaBarre Law Offices, P.C., Gold Sponsor

Philadelphia Insurance, Gold Sponsor

Spectrum, Gold Sponsor

Ability Counseling, LLC, Silver Sponsor

Audio Information Network of Colorado, Silver Sponsor

CREEC – Civil Rights Education and Enforcement Center,

  Silver Sponsor

HumanWare, Silver Sponsor




Each year, our National President, Mark Riccobono, appoints a national representative to represent the Office of the President at each state convention.  This year, we are delighted to host John G. Paré Jr. as our National Representative.  Here is his story:


John G. Paré

John G. Paré, Jr. is the executive director for the Advocacy and Policy department at the National Federation of the Blind.

In this position, he oversees the continuing growth of NFB-NEWSLINE®, the largest electronic newspaper service for blind people, and the NFB's national governmental affairs office. He has testified before the House of Representatives Committee on Appropriations Legislative Branch Subcommittee regarding library services for blind Americans. He has also appeared on CNN, Fox, BBC, and various radio programs to discuss issues affecting blind Americans. He has testified before the United Nations World Forum for Vehicle Harmonization regarding the dangers posed by silent vehicles. He is also a member of the Society of Automotive Engineers' Committee on Vehicle Sound for Pedestrians and has advised automotive manufacturers on the danger posed by silent hybrid vehicles, as well as the benefits of fully autonomous vehicles for blind people.


Convention registration was conducted online and is now closed. Those who registered will be eligible to win door prizes during convention. Registered members who were current on their dues and registered by October 13 will also be eligible to cast votes when the opportunity is presented. However, if you did not register, you are still welcome and strongly encouraged to participate in all convention events as listed in the agenda that follows.


Unless noted otherwise specifically in the agenda, most activities will be occurring in the NFBCO Main Zoom Ballroom.  Three large blocks of time have been scheduled for Thursday, Friday and Saturday during the convention.  Every block has the same link, password, meeting ID, and telephone number except where indicated otherwise in the agenda.  The Zoom information that we will be generally using follows: 
Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 389 515 0172

Passcode: 1111

One tap mobile


 Dial: 1-720-707-2699

When prompted for a meeting ID, enter: 389 515 0172 followed by pound.

No pass code required 


Although we are not all in the same room together for this convention, The National Federation of the Blind of Colorado auction will be happening live throughout the convention. Your auctioneer Maryann will be describing packages live and encouraging your bids.  

To bid you will need to be able to raise your virtual hand. If you are using the Zoom application, you will need to locate the “raise hand” button on the webinar screen. If you are joining using a Windows computer, you will use alt-y. If you are on a Mac use option-y. If you are calling in to our convention, please use star nine to raise your hand. Our Zoom hosts will lower all the hands between bids. 

As the bidding progresses, we will invite you to unmute yourself for some spirited live participation. If you are using the application, you will find the mute/unmute button on the bottom left corner of your screen. In Windows use alt-a. In Mac please use Cmd-Shift-a. If you are dialing in press star six. When you are finished with the vocal bids, please use the same button to mute yourself again. 

If you have registered to our convention and are the highest bidder, you will be contacted by Gary or Maryann to collect your payment and get your shipping details after the bidding finishes. If you are not registered for our convention, we will join you briefly in a Zoom breakout room to collect these details. 

All the auction packages will be shipped by the package donors. 

Thank you in advance for your support. Happy bidding! 


Monique Melton and Jennifer Spears serve as our Door Prize Chairwomen.  Door Prizes will be drawn in general Convention session. 


We will be offering a virtual Exhibit Hall.  All Exhibit Hall activities will occur between 11:00 a.m. and 1:15 p.m. on Friday.  Please consult Friday’s portion of this agenda for specifics. 


Well, we won’t have one this year.  It is BYODRA, Bring Your Own Dog Relief Area! 


Please note that there will be three tracks of Zoom offerings throughout Thursday morning and afternoon:  NFBCO Live Track, COPOBC Track and CCB Empowerment Track.  Each track is set-forth separately. 


The following breakout sessions are being offered live on the main NFBCO Zoom Ballroom.

Meeting ID: 389 515 0172

9:30 a.m. to 11:00 a.m.


Diane McGeorge, President, NFBCO Senior Division, Littleton, CO 

In this year when COVID-19 is changing how we live, we are accessing services in new and different ways. We will discuss methods to remain in control of our daily lives. We will share strategies for accomplishing our goals in different ways in the areas of medical treatment, organizing shopping, and financial management.


11:15 a.m. to 12:15 p.m.


Peggy Chong, Aurora, CO 

We will be talking about some of the early board members of the United Workers for the Blind of Colorado.  Having tracked down a few of them, we’ll find out a bit of their history.  We know of one UWB board member who had very poor vision; today we may say he was legally blind.  One of his former positions was Governor.  Can you guess who he was?  Our blind children, as well as all of our members and guests, should know our blind Colorado ancestors. We will share other finds in the old files and discuss the purpose of preserving them and the methods we have selected. 



12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m.


Monique Melton, Board Member, NFBCO, Vice President, Mile High Chapter, Littleton, CO 

We will give NFBCO members a chance to share their stories and talk about how their backgrounds have affected their blindness moving through life. We hope to find ways to showcase different walks of life to help other members feel welcome and get pumped up about helping us in the federation because we fight for everyone.


1:45 p.m. to 2:45 p.m.


The Parenting Journey, from Bringing Your Child Home to Watching Them Leave 

Nate Trela, President, NFBCO Blind Parents Division, Littleton, CO 

A series of short talks by blind parents about different stages of the parenting journey, ranging from 5 to 15 minutes per person. There will be discussions of the hospital experience (importance of being prepared and advocating for yourself), the adoption experience (best practices for making agencies comfortable and confident in your abilities), toddlerhood (helping your curious child explore the world), preschool (working with teachers for the first time), elementary school (managing homework, among other challenges), middle school (new issues with schooling as well as surviving the transition from kid to teenager) and high school (your child's bustling extracurricular schedule, their social life and challenges of blind parents getting sighted kids behind the wheel), as well as a focused talk on issues around online learning platforms that are now ubiquitous in the ongoing pandemic.

3:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Colorado Association of Guide Dog Users Cares!

Kevan Worley, President, COAGDU, Colorado Springs, CO 

COAGDU presents wellness and advocacy for human and dog. A special seminar for guide service dog handlers, trainers, and dog lovers who want to make the most of their canine experience. Raul Gallegos, President, National Association of Guide Dog Users; Scott C. LaBarre, LaBarre Law Offices, P.C.; Melissa Allman, Advocacy and Government Relations Specialist, The Seeing Eye; Courtney Kirman, Owner, Tender Hands Animal Training.


Join us for the NFBCO Comcast 6 Dot Dash!<>

Join my team, The Doggers!  Or build your own team. Thank you Vanda Pharmaceuticals, Philadelphia Insurance, Blackstone Consulting Inc., and other dear friends and supporters.  #comerunwithus


The following COPOBC meeting will use the following Zoom information: 

Join Zoom Meeting 

Meeting ID: 817 5111 1728
Passcode: 953147
One tap mobile
+17207072699,,81751111728# US

12:00 p.m.

Connecting and Supporting One Another Through Our Parenting Journeys 

Amira Lucas, Thornton, CO 

We will be holding roundtable discussions on topics ranging from education, social/emotional needs to recreation and orientation and mobility for all ages. There will be an opportunity to participate in a tactile art activity and create your own storybook at the end. We hope you are able to join us for this chance to learn from different speakers and support one another as we move through this parenting journey together.



Colorado Center For The Blind Empowerment Track 

These sessions were all recorded during the summer of 2020 as part of the CCB Youth Programs, and we are rebroadcasting them now because even though they were originally targeted at our youth, much of the substance is relevant to all our members.

Join Zoom Meeting 

Meeting ID: 849 0753 1553

Passcode: 694027 

One tap mobile

+17207072699,,84907531553# US 

Dial: 1-720-707-2699

When prompted for a meeting ID, enter: 849 0753 1553 followed by pound.

No pass code required


10:00 a.m.  to 11:00 a.m.


Looking at Blindness as an Opportunity Not a Hindrance 

You will not want to miss this opportunity to hear from Chris Downey, President, Architecture for the Blind, about his transition from sighted architect to blind architect, and why he wishes he had been blind earlier in life. 

11:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.

WHO BETTER THAN ME? How to be My Own Best Advocate 

Hear from our very own NFBCO President Scott C. LaBarre on why advocacy is important, and gain tips to get started down this path. 

11:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.

NATIONWIDE NETWORKING: Connect with Students from Across the Country and Help Make a Difference 

NABS Panel with National Association of Blind Students President Trisha Kulkarni, and 3 other outstanding board members will talk to us about why getting involved with NABS is important and how it can help you be successful in school.



3:00 p.m. to 4:15 p.m.

LEVELING UP: Tips and Techniques for Navigating College 

Join us to hear from three higher-ed students in varying stages of their post-secondary education journey. Charis Glatthar, Chemistry Major, Metropolitan State University of Denver; Kevin Darcy, PhD Student/Lead Researcher for the Digital Accessibility Office, University of Colorado Boulder; and Garrett Mooney, Law Student, University of Baltimore.




Main NFBCO Zoom Ballroom

Meeting ID: 389 515 0172 

Scott LaBarre, Maureen Nietfeld, and Jessica Beecham, Masters of Ceremonies 

Kick off convention with an engaging and dynamic opening ceremony!!! This is going to be packed with entertainment. Hear from the president of our host chapter, the At-Large Mountains and Plains Chapter. We will be welcomed by several national board members and our national representative John Paré. Listen to our very own virtual choir and enjoy some great music from local talent. The Bulldogs, the Colorado School for the Deaf and Blind band, will be joining us, and there will be so much more!! Learn some fun facts about Colorado and take a trip through history as we celebrate major advancements for blind people in Colorado. This is something no one will want to miss!


7:30 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.


(Zoom info TBD) 

Stop by our hospitality event to have the kids carve a pumpkin, play a game, socialize, or participate in some

improv.  This will be a fun evening with something for




Ann Cunningham and Rashika Kartik will be carving and decorating pumpkins with the whole family while learning about artistic techniques, the history of pumpkin carving, and pumpkin science.



Hosted by Brett Boyer, NFB of Denver 

What a great night for some mysteries. Come listen to some short stories and try to figure out how our old inspector solved the crime. The question for you is not whodunit, but howdunit!



Hosted by the Mountain and Plains Chapter 

Do you love music of all kinds? Are you one of the first to guess a song? Have fun competing with your friends to Name that Tune



Join Zoom Meeting 

Meeting ID: 720 284 2318

Passcode: 632266

One tap mobile

+17207072699,,7202842318#,,,,,,0#,,632266# US 

Dial by your location


Meeting ID: 720 284 2318

Passcode: 632266 

Join us for the best virtual fun we can create together! 

Maryann and Paul Migliorelli, Boulder, CO 

Join us for an evening of fun improv games designed to stimulate your creative juices, take you beyond your comfort zone, and grow you to places only your colleagues can imagine.  Come ready to laugh, play, and have more fun than a pack of puppies.




Main NFBCO Zoom Ballroom

Meeting ID: 389 515 0172 

9:00 a.m.


To start a revolution for the blind, it takes a resolution.  Come help us set our policy for the coming year and beyond! 

11:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.


This year, each Sponsor or Exhibitor who wishes to do so will have approximately 4.5 minutes to tell the whole convention about themselves and why we should visit them in their breakout room.  Let’s give a warm welcome to the following Sponsors and Exhibitors: 

Ability Counseling, LLC, Silver Sponsor

Arise Beyond Barriers, Exhibitor

A T Guys, Exhibitor

Audio Information Network of Colorado, Gold Sponsor

Blackstone Consulting, Gold Sponsor

Colorado Center for the Blind, Title Sponsor

Comcast, Title Sponsor

CREEC – Civil Rights Education and Enforcement

   Center, Silver Sponsor

DRCOG, Exhibitor

1st Bank, Gold Sponsor

Guide Dog Foundation for the Blind, Exhibitor

Guide Dogs for the Blind, Exhibitor

HumanWare, Silver Sponsor

LaBarre Law Offices, P.C., Gold Sponsor

NanoPac / Magnisight of the Rockies, Exhibitor

Philadelphia Insurance, Gold Sponsor

The Seeing Eye, Inc., Exhibitor

Spectrum, Gold Sponsor

Vanda Pharmaceuticals, Inc., Platinum Sponsor



12:00 p.m. to 1:15 p.m.


Please put on your Zoom shoes and visit our Sponsors and Exhibitors.  Each Sponsor/Exhibitor will have its own Zoom Room. 

The Zoom coordinates TBD.



2:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. 

2:00 p.m. 

Scott LaBarre, President, NFBCO, Centennial, CO

Meeting ID: 389 515 0172 

2:10 p.m. 

Joe Barela, Executive Director, CDLE, Denver, CO; Krista Hedlund, Manager, CDLE/BLVS, Denver, CO 

2:50 p.m. 

The Honorable Lieutenant Governor of the State of Colorado, Diane Primavera, Denver, CO 

3:20 p.m. 

The Honorable Senator Jessie Danielson, Wheat Ridge, CO

3:50 p.m.

4:00 p.m. 

The Honorable Secretary of State Jena Griswold, Denver, CO

Curtis Chong, Voting Rights Coordinator, NFBCO, Aurora, CO 

4:30 p.m. 

Jessica Beecham, First Vice President, NFBCO, Chair, NFBCO Scholarship Committee, Colorado Springs, CO 

Kristina Beam

Grand Junction, CO

Master’s First Year Clinical and Mental Health Counseling

Adams State University


Kevin Darcy

Longmont, CO

PhD Anthropology

University of Colorado Boulder


Charis Glatthar

Lakewood, CO


Metropolitan State University Denver


Traci Jones

Longmont, CO

PhD Organizational Leadership, Business Psychology

Chicago School of Professional Psychology


5:00 p.m. 


Zoom logistics

Meeting ID: 389 515 0172 

7:00 p.m.

Round up the kids to show off their best costumes!!

This event will be audio described by nationally renowned audio descriptionist Bonnie Barlow. This just the beginning of another fun filled evening no one will want to miss!  

8:00 p.m.

The Wild West Chapter presents a night filled with fun and prizes.  Please join us for our very first virtual NFBCO Wild West Talent Showdown. 

There will be talent of various kinds. We'll feature singers, poets, comedians and our very own enthusiastic MCs with even more comedy and surprises of their own.

We will also be giving away door prizes to those who donate to the chapter as well as incredible prizes to those who participate in the show. 


10:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

10:00 a.m. 

Scott LaBarre, President, NFBCO, Centennial, CO 

10:05 a.m. 

John G. Paré, Executive Director of Policy and Advocacy, Baltimore, MD 

10:50 a.m. 

Debbi MacLeod, Director, Colorado Talking Book Library, Denver, CO 

11:10 a.m.             

Julie Deden, Executive Director, CCB, Centennial, CO 

11:50 a.m. 

Scott C. LaBarre, President, NFBCO, Centennial, CO 

12:30 p.m.


1:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.

1:30 p.m. 

We will hear from three Members of the NFBCO who will tell their stories about blindness and how the NFB helps them live the lives they want. 

2:15 p.m. 

Julie Reiskin, Executive Director, Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition, Denver CO


2:35 p.m.


Darian Smith, Chair, NFBCO Diversity and Inclusion

Committee, Littleton, CO; Monique Melton, Board

Member, NFBCO, Denver, CO


2:45 p.m. 



2:50 p.m. 


Kevan Worley, Manager, Project Literacy, Colorado Springs,



3:00 p.m. 


Shane Wegner, Board Member, National Association of

Blind Students, Minneapolis, MN


3:10 p.m. 


We will discuss and adopt our resolutions, conduct elections, 

consider our Financial Report, take up our Honor Roll Call of

Chapters and Divisions, and augment our finances through

our auction.


4:30 p.m.



6:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.


Master of Ceremonies, Kevan Worley, Manager, Project Literacy, NFBCO, Colorado Springs, CO



John G. Paré, Jr., Executive Director of Advocacy and Policy, National Federation of the Blind, Baltimore, MD




Scott C. LaBarre, President, NFBCO, Centennial, CO 


Jessica Beecham, Chairperson, Committee on Scholarships, Colorado Springs, CO 



Maryann Migliorelli, Board Member, NFBCO and Annual Auction Chair, Boulder, CO 

8:30 p.m.  Zoom After Parties 

Various NFBCO members will be offering up their Zoom rooms for a little socializing post Banquet.  Once again, put on your Zoom shoes and do a little Zoom hopping.  We will publish the list of said rooms prior to the Convention.