Follow by Email

Thursday, April 23, 2020

We Are Family and You Are Invited

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

This issue of your Blind Coloradan is dedicated to the young and the young at heart. Perhaps more than ever this is the time for family. It is the time for our nuclear families, the human family, and, of great importance to our dear readers, it’s the time for our Federation family. We send our appreciation to our parents and educators who are seeking and implementing some wildly new strategies to teach and keep our kiddos active, learning, growing, and connected. The National Federation of the Blind of Colorado is here to help.

We also send our Federation love to our blind and low-vision seniors. Our Colorado Center for the Blind continues to connect with and offer instruction to Denver Metro area seniors. Seniors are often isolated in the best of times. We complement our Center for using every virtual tool and heart to reach the senior blind.

One way our affiliate has been able to reach families is through our COVID-19 hotline. This special service consists of a network of volunteers, blind and sighted. These volunteers can offer supportive ideas, a helpful word or two, as well as coordinating ways to meet some physical needs such as finding someone to run to the store, pick up a prescription, deliver a cane tip, or help someone get to dialysis. Maureen Nietfeld, Secretary of NFBCO, is leading this effort along with our First Vice President Jessica Beecham. This voicemail is checked several times a day, 303-778-1130 extension 219. You can also email assistance@nfbco.org.

NFBCO chapters across the state are continuing to meet over Zoom at their regular time and day. Please be in touch with your chapter president. You may even want to engage with your chapter at an even greater level. Building our NFB is a great way to spend a little extra time and imagination. There is always interesting and important work to be done.


Register Now for the Chance to Win a Free Orbit Writer, the $99 Braille Keyboard

Visit, http://www.atguys.com/orbit.

FAST and Zoom, Zoom and FAST: Our FAST Program for Blind Youth Goes Virtual This Friday! By Dan Burke

Here is some news from Youth Director Martin Becerra-Miranda. Martin has been busy hosting lots of Zoom meetings for our staff and ITP students. But he has also had time to think about what he wants to do with our FAST (Fun Skills Activities and Training) for youth, and maybe, just maybe, he misses the real energy of working with kids. So, we are going virtual with FAST starting this Friday!

Who?
Blind students of all ages and their family members.

Where?
This will be a virtual meeting on the Zoom platform.

When?
Friday, April 24, 2020 at 7:00 PM.

Observing “Social Distancing” guidelines doesn’t have to mean being socially disconnected. The Colorado Center for the Blind FAST program will therefore host a virtual get-together every other Friday evening at 7:00 PM., starting April 24.

April 24: We have all been doing school and work online for weeks now. Much of it is working well, but we know that there are also real barriers for blind students in the virtual classroom. In light of this ever-changing virtual learning landscape our blind and visually impaired students face due to the pandemic, the Colorado Center for the Blind want to know how this is affecting blind and visually impaired students and to determine if there are resources we can offer. We know that by now, most if not all of your school districts have made the difficult decision that in-person classes will not return the remainder of this school year. The Colorado Center for the Blind, the National Federation of the Blind of Colorado, and the National Federation of the Blind stand together in supporting your educational and extracurricular needs.

Here are a couple of resources with which to get started:

Oh, and we’ll definitely include some fun and “social” activities too!

For additional information or to receive the Zoom Meeting link/phone number, please contact Martin Becerra-Miranda by emailing mbecerra@cocenter.org.

Be safe, be kind and be fair.

COVID-19, Social Distancing, It’s a Dogs Life.

One of the most popular Mountain Time at 5 NFBCO Zoom sessions was a major discussion of challenges, opportunities, tips and tricks for guide dog handlers and those who may have an interest in becoming guide dog handlers. A number of guide dog school representatives along with members of the Colorado Association of Guide Dog Users Board took questions and provided a wide array of timely and helpful information and perspectives. We particularly want to thank Paul Sandoval, board member of our National Association of Guide Dog Users, and COAGDU Board Member Melissa Smith. Thanks to Guide Dogs for the Blind, Guiding Eyes, and Fidelco Guide Dog Foundation for their participation.


Guiding Eyes for the Blind Student runs the Boulder trail with his new yellow lab, running toward camera.  Photo credit: Melissa Smith

Guiding Eyes for the Blind Student runs the Boulder trail with his new guide dog.
Photo Credit: Melissa Smith, Guiding Eyes Field Rep.

Melissa Smith recently wrote an enrichment article for Guiding Eyes graduates. Here is just one of her encouragements from that article:

Most of you may now be working from home or not at all, therefore not walking as much. You can still go outside for a nice walk!  Sunshine and fresh air seem to be our best medicine right now. Get out there and explore some new areas if you are able. Check out a new park or venture into a nearby neighborhood if you feel safe. Your dog will find all the new sights, sounds and smells very enriching! This may also give you the opportunity to work on distractions and focus. If learning a new route, remember you can always use your cane first to gain confidence and then teach it to your dog. Make sure to observe social distancing as best you can while out and about.

Don’t forget your mask!

Presidential Release Goes Live!

Mountain Time at 5 enters week 7 with a special “Meet the Blind Monday”, April 27th. Mountain Time at 5 will take a hiatus on Friday May 1st. Instead, we encourage members and friends of the Federation to listen to President Riccobono’s May Presidential Release live at 6 p.m. May 1. Look for the Zoom coordinates available soon.

NFBCO Sends Appreciation to Anchor Center for Blind Children Recognized by Denver Active 20-30. The Anchor Center Has Been A Real Part of The Solution for Blind Preschoolers and Families

The Anchor Center for Blind Children has created a Virtual Education Center on their website for students and families to continue their education during this global pandemic. The Education Center webpage features downloadable lessons, assistive technology and app recommendations, stories and music videos on YouTube, and other creative learning ideas on their Pinterest board for children with visual impairments. Anchor Center is adding new content weekly, as well as additional resources that can help families, researchers, educators, and others learn more about early intervention and education for young children (birth to age 5 years) who are blind, deaf-blind, or visually impaired.

North Metro Chapter Members Ron & Marie In Need of Our Prayers and Positive Energy

Michelle Chacon, leader in our North Metro chapter informs us that Ron Atchison is in critical condition on ventilator. His wife Marie is now also sick but not admitted to hospital. Please send our Federation love to these 2 wonderful people.

Wild West Chapter Activist Ileen Gallegos Informs Us That Her Cousin Who Is Employed at A Nursing Home Has Tested Positive For COVID-19

She is extremely ill. They have asked prayer warriors to please pray.

Remote Learning Continues for CSDB

From the aggregator: We have received the following from Diane Taylor, Community Liaison for Colorado School for the Deaf and Blind:

Colorado School for the Deaf and the Blind (CSDB) has decided to continue Remote Learning for the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year. Considering guidance from the governor that normal, in-person learning is “highly unlikely” as well as looking at our traditional school year end dates, we cannot say for sure that we’ll be able to offer any substantial in-person instruction this school year. Rather than prolong that uncertainty, we have decided to extend the school closures, similar to our neighbor districts, and continue Remote Learning through the remainder of the traditional school year. We will continue teaching, learning, and assessing during this time, because students are getting valuable learning and they need that foundation as we prepare for next year.

CSDB will continue Remote Learning through June 5, 2020, the last day of classes (and through May 28 for seniors, which was their original last academic day). All athletic events and activities are canceled for the remainder of the school year.
We will continue to follow the guidance of our local health experts, government officials and the CDC as we make decisions with thoughtful consideration to finish the year strong in support of our students and staff.

A Big Heart! Leading the Way! Walking in Big Shoes. Commentary by Kevan Worley

Imagine being hired to become the superintendent of the Colorado School for the Deaf and Blind to lead the school through the 2019-2020 academic year. This was the opportunity handed to the new superintendent, Dr. Nancy Benham. She took up this new responsibility with a generous spirit, a reform-minded approach, and years of experience. CSDB Board of Directors, administrators, staff, and students have mentioned the winds of energy, change, and innovation blowing through the CSDB campus. Who knew that during her first year she and her team would be hit with the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. I have had the pleasure of being present at a number of the CSDB Board meetings this year. The kindness and creativity with which Dr. Benham shoulders whatever seems to come her way is quite compelling. It is exciting to note that the caregivers and educators have been able to reach and engage with every single student and their families in a constructive and concerted way. We in the National Federation of the Blind of Colorado are sensitive to the personal and professional needs of CSDB staff and families during this difficult time. We stand ready to collaborate to provide additional enrichment activities.

Mountain Time at 5 is a big part of our affiliate’s response to the need for virtual connections and learning. Most, if not all of these sessions would not only be appropriate, but we think they would be informative and inspiring for blind and visually impaired youth. Learning from and connecting with blind role models is essential when raising well-rounded, active blind students. For information email assistance@nfbco.org. We also send fondest wishes and congratulations to our blind graduates from CSDB in 2020. We will be seeking ways we can honor these fabulous seniors.

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

We have received the following from Michelle Chacon. Michelle is a nationally recognized teacher of blind students, as well as an administrator in high demand. Here is what she says:

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 of Colorado.

There is a severe shortage of qualified teachers of students who are blind/low vision; this shortage exists nationally and is not confined to the state of Colorado. The availability of educational services for blind/low vision students varies widely across the state; 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.

In light of these challenges, the working group has developed and is currently circulating a survey targeted at parents of blind/low vision children. The group hopes that this survey 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 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?

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

Two principles govern the thinking of this working group: First and foremost, children who are blind/low vision must have 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 here is to have available educational systems for blind/low vision students which enable them to achieve success and to realize the same positive and fulfilling outcomes as their sighted compatriots.
For information about the group’s work and to receive the parents survey, please email blindedcolo@gmail.com.

Aurora Chapter Meeting, April 25, 2020. Much More Than a Meeting Announcement

From your aggregator: We received the following from Curtis Chong. You will learn about the upcoming Aurora chapter meeting over Zoom but keep reading. Much of what Curtis Chong shares below may be helpful for many of us who are still grappling with all the Zoom logistics. We want to be as warm, as inviting, and as user friendly as possible for members and friends of all ages. Here is what Curtis says: 

Greetings Everyone:
This is a reminder that the Aurora Chapter of the National Federation of the Blind of Colorado will be holding its April meeting on Saturday, April 25, via Zoom. The meeting will start promptly at 10:30 AM and will adjourn no later than 12:30 PM. If anyone would like a specific item added to the meeting agenda, please email Dale Holden, Chapter President, at DaleLHolden@me.com.

In addition to our usual business, we will be hearing from a representative of the Aurora Human Relations Commission. According to the Commission's website,

"The Human Relations Commission of the City of Aurora seeks to further understanding within our community and to preserve recognized rights of residents of the city and those who interact within the community, particularly in the areas of equal employment, housing, and access to public services and facilities. If you believe you are the victim of discrimination, you may file a complaint with the Commission."

For this meeting, we will be using the Zoom platform. Zoom has become quite popular during this time of trouble in our world. IMPORTANT NOTE: THE ZOOM INFORMATION HAS CHANGED.

As the host and meeting moderator, I plan to check into the meeting on or about 10:00 so that early arrivals can check in and chat with each other before the meeting actually begins. I will bring loads of virtual coffee and maybe some cookies <smile>.

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:

If you dial into the meeting with a phone call, remember the following two commands which you can enter using the phone's dial keypad:

•             Star 6 is the command to mute and unmute yourself during the meeting.
•             Star 9 is the command to raise or lower your virtual hand.

To join the meeting, call 346-248-7799. Enter the meeting ID: 96868505558. Then enter Pound (#) two times.
If you are using your iPhone to dial into the meeting, take advantage of the following one-tap mobile link here:
+13462487799,,96868505558#


Joining the Meeting Using the Zoom Software:

Here is the direct link to join the Zoom meeting if you are running the Zoom program itself.


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, 303-745-0473.

Thank you.
Yours sincerely,
Curtis Chong, Secretary, Aurora Chapter

Upcoming Virtual Federation Meetings. A Long List With Zoom Coordinates

From your aggregator: Here is a lengthy list of instructive and fun NFB Zoom meetings from across the nation. Colorado families are encouraged to participate.

The National Federation of the Blind continues to connect and protect blind people through our nationwide network. The following virtual gatherings are open to everyone in the coming week. Zoom instructions below:

Thursday, April 23

3:00 p.m. EDT | HumanWare Showcase #1

Sponsored by NFB of Pennsylvania, Joel Zimba from HumanWare will demonstrate the HW Buddy App running on a BrailleNote Touch Plus.
Zoom Meeting ID: 215 988 0888.
One tap mobile: +13126266799,,2159880888#

5:00 p.m. EDT | Kernel Book Discussions: Sharp Knives and Chickens

Sponsored by NFB of Pennsylvania, join this meeting as we listen to and then discuss the Kernel Book story " Sharp Knives and Chickens" by Elsie Hiebert Lamp.
Zoom Meeting ID: 215 988 0888
One tap mobile: +13126266799,,2159880888#

7:00 p.m. EDT | Mountain Time at 5

Sponsored by NFB of Colorado, ReNae Anderson will share methods for the home-making of cleaning and disinfectant supplies.
Zoom Meeting ID: 595 506 6474
One tap mobile: +13462487799,,5955066474#

7:00 p.m. EDT | Apps, Apps, Apps for iOS

Sponsored by NFB of Pennsylvania, learn about specific iOS apps, how to get them, how to download them, what they are for, and how to use them on your iPhone. If you have suggestions for apps you would like to see featured please email: marsha.drenth@gmail.com.
Zoom Meeting ID: 215 988 0888
One tap mobile: +13126266799,,2159880888#

8:00 p.m. EDT | All About Braille

Sponsored by NFB of Oklahoma, join a panel of Braille readers for tips, tricks, and resources on learning Braille or improving your skills. We'll discuss the importance of Braille literacy and talk about how we use Braille on a daily basis.
Zoom Meeting ID: 597 239 273
One tap mobile: +14086380968,,597239273#

8:00 p.m. EDT | Higher Education Discussion

Sponsored by NFB of Alabama, discuss higher education related issues.
Zoom Meeting ID: 251 656 5165
One tap mobile: +16468769923,,2516565165#

8:00 p.m. EDT | Discussion: The Future of the Federation

Sponsored by NFB of Florida, join this discussion of Dr. Jacobus tenBroek’s 1966 banquet address titled “ The Future of the Federation.”
Zoom Meeting ID: 959 6429 5244
One tap mobile: +13126266799,,95964295244#

8:00 p.m. EDT | Meals: Plan, Prep, Preserve

Sponsored by NFB of Louisiana/Louisiana Center for the Blind, learn how to plan meals effectively and find creative ways to make what is available at the store work for you. Share ideas about how to preserve the food you buy and stretch it to make it go further.
Meeting ID: 927 7626 6822
Password: 778773
One tap mobile: +13126266799,,92776266822#,,#,778773#

8:00 p.m. EDT | NABS Book Club

Sponsored by the National Association of Blind Students, an NFB division, dive into some great literature and discuss the themes and messages. This week’s book is “The Glass Castle” by Jeannette Walls.
Zoom Meeting ID:  614 307 0858
One tap mobile: +16468769923,,6143070858#

9:00 p.m. EDT | Salsa Dancing

Sponsored by NFB Performing Arts Division, attend this Salsa Dancing Workshop that will cover a few basic steps of salsa, a spunky, spicy, Latin-inspired dance. No prior experience necessary. All steps will be taught thoroughly and verbally.
Zoom Meeting ID: 946 327 2523
One tap mobile: +16468769923,,9463272523#

Friday, April 24

12:00 p.m. EDT | JAWS Training (Advanced)

Sponsored by NFB of Pennsylvania, explore the JAWS screen reading application with a certified trainer. Learn to operate a computer on Windows 10 and Office 365.
Zoom Meeting ID: 215 988 0888
One tap mobile: +13126266799,,2159880888#

1:00 p.m. EDT | Fitness and Wellness Warriors

Sponsored by NFB of Pennsylvania, boost the immune system and take care of our mental and emotional health with brief workouts, meditations, and yoga during this thirty-minute session.
Zoom Meeting ID: 215 988 0888
One tap mobile: +13126266799,,2159880888#

3:00 p.m. EDT | Kids’ Story Hour

Sponsored by NFB of Pennsylvania, join this call of reading favorite stories for kids in Braille.
Zoom Meeting ID: 215 988 0888
One tap mobile: +13126266799,,2159880888#

5:00 p.m. EDT | Using Smart Home Technology

Sponsored by NFB of Pennsylvania, take a virtual tour of the fifty-plus sensors and devices that can make up a home automation system.
Zoom Meeting ID: 215 988 0888
One tap mobile: +13126266799,,2159880888#

7:00 p.m. EDT | NVDA Training

Sponsored by NFB of Pennsylvania, learn about NVDA, the free screen reader for Windows.
Zoom Meeting ID: 215 988 0888
One tap mobile: +13126266799,,2159880888#

7:00 p.m. EDT | Philosophy Friday

Sponsored by NFB of Colorado, join this discussion on questions such as: Would you let a blind person take care of your newborn? Would you use a blind person for home repairs? Would you let a blind hair dresser cut or color your hair? We will consider these questions and more.
Zoom Meeting ID: 595 506 6474
One tap mobile: +13462487799,,5955066474#

8:00 p.m. EDT | Angel Towel Origami

Sponsored by NFB of Alabama, learn how to make angels out of towel art. Items needed: one rectangular kitchen towel, one square kitchen cloth, one square potholder, five rubber bands, and a long ribbon (optional).
Zoom Meeting ID: 251 656 5165
One tap mobile: +16468769923,,2516565165#

Saturday, April 25

4:00 p.m. EDT | Parents Corner

Sponsored by NFB of California Parents of Blind Children Division, share experiences and offer support to one another in regards to distance learning. Topics include but not limited to IEP’s, accessibility, and children’s social and emotional development and well-being during school closures.
Zoom Meeting ID: 209 589 6058
Password: 4187
One tap mobile: +16699009128,,2095896058#,,#,4187#

8:00 p.m. EDT | NABS Chill Zone

Sponsored by the National Association of Blind Students, an NFB division, take a little bit of time to relax and unwind with this casual meetup.
Zoom Meeting ID: 614 307 0858
One tap mobile: +16468769923,, 6143070858#

Monday, April 27

12:00 p.m. EDT | Coffee and Conversation

Sponsored by NFB of Nevada, join this casual discussion with your favorite cup of coffee or beverage.
Zoom Meeting ID: 423 336 763
Password: 420120
One tap mobile: +16699006833,,423336763#,,#,420120#

12:00 p.m. EDT | Beginner JAWS Training

Sponsored by NFB of Pennsylvania, explore the capabilities and usability of the industry-leading JAWS screen reading application. Mondays will be devoted to beginner-level JAWS skills.
Zoom Meeting ID: 215 988 0888
One tap mobile: +13126266799,,2159880888#

2:00 p.m. EDT | Coffee and Legislative Issues

Sponsored by NFB of Pennsylvania, discuss legislative issues facing blind Americans, laws affecting the education of your blind children, and more. Please note that this event is informative and does not represent any form of legal advice. To contact Emily, email her at: vp2@nfbp.org.
Zoom Meeting ID: 215 988 0888
One tap mobile: +13126266799,,2159880888#

5:00 p.m. EDT | Reading Roundtable

Sponsored by NFB of Pennsylvania, share your favorite books and reading media. Have you discovered any new favorites recently at home while practicing social distancing?
Zoom Meeting ID: 215 988 0888
One tap mobile: +13126266799,,2159880888#

5:30 p.m. EDT | Be My Eyes and Audio Gaming

Sponsored by NFB of New York, join this call to discuss the app Be My Eyes and audio gaming.
Zoom Meeting ID: 528 850 6207
One tap mobile: 16468769923,,5288506207#

8:00 p.m. EDT | Learn and Practice Zoom

Sponsored by NFB of Florida, get more practice with Zoom so you can easily participate on these calls and virtual meetings.
Zoom Meeting ID: 976 2339 2098
One tap mobile: +13126266799,,97623392098#

Tuesday, April 28

11:00 a.m. EDT | Accessibility Boutique: Web Accessibility

Join this two-part workshop for an intro in nonvisual access and how to manually test a website. Registration required for accessibility boutiques.

3:00 p.m. EDT | Kids’ Story Hour

Sponsored by NFB of Pennsylvania, join this call of reading favorite stories for kids in Braille.
Zoom Meeting ID: 215 988 0888
One tap mobile: +13126266799,,2159880888#

5:00 p.m. EDT | Kernel Book Discussion

Sponsored by NFB of Pennsylvania, join this meeting as we listen to and then discuss a Kernel Book story.
Zoom Meeting ID: 215 988 0888
One tap mobile: +13126266799,,2159880888#

8:00 p.m. EDT | NABS Yoga

Sponsored by the National Association of Blind Students, an NFB division, connect with your inner Zen and release all the tension built up during these trying times.
Zoom Meeting ID: 614 307 0858
One tap mobile: +16468769923,,6143070858#

9:00 p.m. EDT | Improv Workshop

Sponsored by the NFB Performing Arts Division, attend this entertaining and interactive session on an exhilarating performing art. Anything can happen, and you can be a part of the fun.
Zoom Meeting ID: 946 327 2523
One tap mobile: +16468769923,,9463272523#

Join a Zoom Meeting:

To join a Zoom meeting via web or phone, click on the following Zoom link, dial the appropriate phone number, or hit one-tap mobile, and add the corresponding meeting ID listed for the event you are joining. For an accessible tutorial of the Zoom platform, access the audiobook, Meet Me in the Cloud.

Web:

https://zoom.us/j

Dial by Your Location:

+1 646 876 9923 US (New York)

+1 312 626 6799 US (Chicago)

+1 346 248 7799 US (Houston)

+1 408 638 0968 US (San Jose)

+1 669 900 6833 US (San Jose)

+1 253 215 8782 US

+1 301 715 8592 US

Find your local number:

https://zoom.us/u/ab3E5IUcW

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

Forward, always Forward!
Guiding Eyes for the Blind Student runs the Boulder trail with his new yellow lab, now running away camera.  Photo credit: Melissa Smith

Thursday, April 9, 2020

Philosophy! Heart! Action!

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


Message from the Director

We are pleased to lead off this blog post of the Blind Coloradan with a message originally offered in the newsletter of the Colorado Center for the Blind, CCB. CCB is the principle program of NFBCO. The Executive Director is Julie Deden. Here is what she relates:

So much has happened since our last newsletter came out. I want to thank everyone for all of your support in this time of the coronavirus crisis. I realize how resilient we all are. From day to day, we have all made so many changes. One of the things that we focus on teaching our students at the Center is to be flexible. Well, what a lesson we are all learning right now.

On Monday, March 16, we made the decision to begin teaching class from the apartments. That day our students gathered their belongings from their lockers, and we took Braillewriters, books and food over to the apartments. On March 17, several of our staff members took a trip to the grocery store in order to buy food for everyone. They found soups, oatmeal, peanut butter, bread, sandwich meat and even bananas. This was just days after the first rush of near-panicked buying, and it was difficult to find much of anything in the supermarkets.

On Tuesday morning March 17, we held our first telephonic philosophy class. My heart was both warmed and sad hearing everyone on the phone. But it wasn’t destined to last. When we went to our “remote learning” model, we thought this would see us through a couple of weeks. We thought at the time that would be long enough to get a sense of how things would go for all of us. But by the morning of Thursday, March 19, it was clear that the COVID-19 crisis would extend far beyond two weeks, and we made the very painful decision to get our students back to their homes if at all possible. So, on March 21, most of our students left their apartments to go home. They were all anxious, sad and overwhelmed to have their training disrupted and their worlds turned upside down in just a few days. My goal for all of us was (and is) to be safe and for everyone to take all necessary precautions to stay healthy.
I reassured our students that they will all be back with us and be able to finish their training! I can’t tell you all how anxious I am for that day to come!

Today we have seven students, one former student, and three staff members at our apartments. We have an 8:15 check-in call each day. The full Center participates in philosophy class Monday through Friday. We have already had a number of dynamic guests from all over the country and will continue to schedule more. This class has been inspirational as well as instructive for all of us.

Here is a little advice from me: keep a good routine each day, stay disciplined, look good even though you will not see too many people, be grateful for everything that we have, bake, exercise, read a lot and keep in contact with friends and family.

The Adventures of Gus and the Burrito

Gus is the son of Nate Trela. As many of you know, Nate is the President of our Colorado Organization of Blind Parents. As you will see, he has some interesting conversations with his son.

G: Hey Dad, did I tell you we almost won a dodgeball tournament at school on Valentine's Day?
 Me: No.
 G: Yeah, we lost and then some friends of the other team rushed the court and they almost got disqualified.
 Me: Ah, that sucks.
G: Yeah. Everyone was chanting burrito at me.
 Me: Hmm ... wait, what?
 G: I was wearing a burrito costume.
 Me: For Valentine's Day?
 G: Well not because it was Valentine's Day, It was because we had a dodgeball tournament.
Me, trying to remember if I hit my head recently: So you wore a burrito costume because it was a dodgeball tournament?
G: Well because it was a Valentine's Day tournament. I was picking up all the ladies.

 

Let the Blind Be Counted

Thanks to the Colorado Center for the Blind for all of their effort to educate citizens who are blind, and vision impaired about best accessible approaches to ensure completion of the census. It is critical that we play our part and be counted. Even as the CCB building shut down, our own Dan Burke was hurriedly putting together this video. Check it out! If you have questions, feel free to email assistance@nfbco.org.

Scott LaBarre Has a Dog?! Not That Kind of Dog! A Family Pet Labradoodle. And Here Is What She Says:

GREETINGS FROM MOKA LABARRE!

Hello Fellow Federationists, Moka LaBarre here.  I just want you to know that I am thinking of all you two leg creatures as you battle that awful pandemic.  I thought, though, I would offer my canine perspective.  Never in my fourteen months here on the planet have I been so spoiled.  Scott, Anahit, Alex, and Emily have all been home, all of the time.  I get to go on so many walks, play with my family so much, eat yummy treats, and it’s great to be petted and get belly rubs whenever I want.  I know you humans are very worried about this virus, but speaking on behalf of my dog colleagues, we will get through this together.  I also want you to know that I am very proud of the National Federation of the Blind and its response to COVID19.  We are truly a great family.  So, stay healthy, stay safe, and don’t stop petting me!!

Woof, woof, and with love,
Moka      

Anahit LaBarre sits reading a Braille book as Moka, a light tan labradoodle, looks on waiting to be petted

 “Well FUDGE!” Who needs this COVID-19 madness!

Now more than ever we must share the love, positivity, and possibility. The Blind Coloradan is happy to share another video vignette from the talented, gracious, and highly energetic Maureen Nietfeld. She represents so well the members of the National Federation of the Blind. Why not share another “Breaking Blind” story from Maureen’s YouTube channel and live the life you want. It’s a good time to learn how to make fudge.

It’s Elementary Dear Watson

Audio Description Artist Bonnie Barlow invites you to a special audio described showing of Mr. Holmes. Here is what Bonnie says:

Thursday, April 9, at 7:00 I will do an encore description of Mr. Holmes.  Before our main feature, I will provide a description of the iconic 1984 Olympic gold medal winning skate-dancing performance of Torville and Dean to Bolero.  

When I first started writing audio description for movies, I did a script for a movie called, Mr. Holmes, starring Ian McKellan as Sherlock Holmes in his 80s, and retiring to the seaside.  His memory is starting to go which for him, of course, would be extra devastating given his brilliance and mystery solving abilities.  The description I wrote only accompanied the theatrical release of the film.  Gail and I went to it at the Cinemark Theater and listened.  It's not available on DVDs or streaming, though.     
Join Zoom Meeting:
https://zoom.us/j/590111247
Meeting ID: 590 111 247


The Guide Dog Life. Life in the fast lane or more trouble than it's worth?


Thursday, April 9th at 5 p.m., NFBCO's zoom session will survey the guide dog landscape. President, Colorado Association of Guide Dog Users will facilitate this special session featuring guide dog handlers and representatives from major guide dog schools. NFBCO has been holding these 5:00 Mountain time zoom interactive training and networking sessions since the outbreak of COVID-19. They have become very popular across Colorado and the nation. Feel free to spread the word and join in.
"Is a guide dog right for me? How would I find out? What's the process? What are the major issues that confront guide dog handlers and the guide dog community? What are some tricks and tips to support guide dog wellness during the COVID-19 lockdowns?”

In Colorado we are very lucky to have some experienced and knowledgeable guide dog handlers and trainers leading our effort in the Colorado Association of Guide Dog Users. I am confident we will enjoy their contributions to the call.

Forward, always forward!
https://zoom.us/j/5955066474…
Meeting ID: 595 506 6474
Password: 015571
One tap mobile
+13462487799,,5955066474#

Philosophy in Action. Happy Hour Zoom Session with Maureen 5:00 Friday, April 10

Celebrating the Success of the National Federation of the Blind of Colorado, Honoring Our Chapter Activities All Over the State We Will Enjoy a Zoom Happy Hour!
Please join Maureen Nietfeld as she shares an easy peasy dip recipe. We can make it along with her. Then we can share some of our favorite cocktail and mocktail recipes.

Ingredients:
15oz can of chili,
8 oz cream cheese softened,
2 cups cheese I prefer shredded sharp cheddar.

Directions:
Combine all ingredients in a microwave safe bowl and microwave five minutes. Stir until all hot and combined and serve with your favorite chips.

This is a great recipe because it’s very versatile. Use vegetarian chili or turkey chili for a healthier option. You can also choose to use reduced fat cream cheese and reduced fat cheese. You may also want to use vegan substitutes to make this dish completely vegan. It’s also gluten-free!!

Winner, Winner, Winner! Zoom, Zoom, Zoom this Saturday Morning in Colorado Springs

Jeanette Fortin, President, Colorado Springs chapter will gather everyone together at 10 a.m. sharp for the April 11th meeting. Where! On Zoom, of course! She brings that gavel down at 10.

Join Zoom Meeting
Dial-in: +1 301 715 8592
Meeting ID: 248 911 1969
Password: 1000

The Games Blind People Play

One of the best attended NFBCO 5:00 Zoom sessions featured Brett Boyer leading a discussion about accessible e-games. The session also included presentations from Richard and Emily Gibbs. They are the founders of 64oz Games. If you love playing games with family and friends but are seeking those which are accessible contact 64ouncegames.com. Tell them NFBCO sent you!

Brett, who teaches technology at Colorado Center for the Blind, has also put together a list of fun accessible games on various platforms. To receive that list or to add to it email assistance@nfbco.org.

NFBCO COVID-19 Helpline is a Hot, Hotline

It’s doing some biz’ness!

The email, assistance@nfbco.org, will put blind people directly in touch with our helpline hotline program. People who may need a little extra volunteer support to handle some outside of the home tasks made particularly difficult during our COVID-19 isolation, such as help with groceries, a vital bank run, trip to dialysis, and the like, the phone number to call is 303-778-1130 extension 219. This line is checked several times a day.

We are indebted to Jessica Beecham and Maureen Nietfeld for recruiting the volunteers, working with our callers, and bringing their unique brand of energy to yet another NFBCO effort.

Flatten Inaccessibility Curve Survey

Important COVID-19 survey. We received this note from the President of the National Federation of the Blind Mark Riccobono. We are urging Federation members to take part.

The National Federation of the Blind joined many other organizations in the field of blindness to develop and distribute a survey to explore the increased accessibility barriers due to the coronavirus crisis. Your feedback is needed. This survey may take thirty minutes or longer, but it is critical in understanding the additional impact COVID-19 is having on blind people. Take the Flatten Inaccessibility Curve Survey today.

Avoiding Disability-Based Discrimination in Treatment Rationing

On March 28, 2020, the US Department of Health and Human Services issued a bulletin entitled “Civil Rights, HIPAA, and the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19),” stating that “HHS is committed to leaving no one behind during an emergency, and this guidance is designed to help health care providers meet that goal.” Review the linked guidance endorsed by organizations with expertise in federal disability rights laws that provides a more detailed explanation of how the requirements set forth in the HHS bulletin would apply, and how states and health-care providers can take steps to modify policies and practices to avoid disability discrimination.

Tech, Tech, Tech!

NFBCO would like to thank AT Guys for their knowledge and wonderful support. Tuesday’s April 7 Zoom session featured a wide-ranging discussion of accessible technology meeting the needs of blind folks teleworking or providing the knowledge necessary to engage with the world, gain information, and have a little fun. NFBCO is committed to advancing access to technology. The call featured facilitators Curtis Chong and JJ Meddaugh. If you have suggestions for upcoming tech sessions let us know. Curtis is one of the leading experts in the field. JJ Meddaugh is CEO of AT Guys and cohost of the Blind Bargains podcast. Check out the lineup of tech gear available through AT Guys! Tell them NFBCO sent you!  

Next Week at 5

It is hard to believe that next week will be week 5 of our 5:00 training and networking Zoom sessions. Next week will feature topics from the more difficult to the silly to the sublime. Please look for dates and topics coming soon on Colorado Talk. A session dealing with trauma during the difficult COVID-19 crisis is planned. As has become the norm. We will have Workout Wednesday and Philosophy Friday. (That was a bizarre sentence to write. “As has become the new norm.”)

The Next Blind Coloradan Will Feature Our Kiddos

It’s a time of stress, and the time of stretching to meet the needs of our families. Share what works for you. Please share your challenges and joy as you work to provide education and wellness for your families.
We want to hear from you!

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

Forward, always Forward!