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Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Special Memorial Day Blind Coloradan

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


Remembering Those Who Have Sacrificed for Us, This Memorial Day

Dear Federation family, friends, and allies of the Federation,
This could be called the Memorial Day issue of the Blind Coloradan. As I assembled this material. It struck me that none of the work we are doing to enhance our rights and make it possible for people who are blind to participate on equal terms would not be possible without the courageous men and women who sacrificed their very lives for this nation. As we share our accomplishments and take the actions to build opportunity and meet the challenges ahead let us please take a moment to ponder, to pray, to reflect, and to appreciate millions of American heroes. The National Federation of the Blind of Colorado wishes each and every one of you a safe, secure, happy Memorial Day of family and remembrance. ~KW

This Just in!

NFBCO State President Scott LaBarre is asking for our help!

Hey everyone!!
If you have or know of a blind person who has had trouble accessing Colorado state web sites, please let me know.  In particular, if folks have had trouble filling out the application for unemployment benefits or had trouble accessing COVID19 related information, we would really like to hear from you. slabarre@labarrelaw.com, office phone: 303-504-5979.

Editor’s note: One of the most informative and joyful Mountain Time at 5 sessions took place on Monday, May 18. Scott LaBarre shared a little bit of his life story with us. He also took great questions and provided us some wonderful anecdotes about some of his legal cases and some of his work and play over his 35 years as a member and leader of our organization. Find it on YouTube. Visit the National Federation of the Blind of Colorado YouTube channel for many of our Mountain Time at 5 gatherings.


National Federation of the Blind of Colorado Announces 6 Dot Dash!!Really?!?

Really! Details coming soon for the October 17th virtual 6 Dot Dash. There will be exciting ways to participate. T-shirts, finishing medals, special recognitions, fundraising opportunities galore! Dets coming soon!

From One Crescent Moon to the Next During the 9th Month of the Islamic Year

We send our Federation spirit and love to our Muslim friends and colleagues during Ramadan. Wishing our Muslim brothers and sisters a blessed Eid Al-Fitr, translated to Feast of Feasting,  this weekend as Ramadan comes to a close.   

Self-Advocacy. A View from Anahit LaBarre

From the aggregator: Most of our dear readers, know Anahit LaBarre. She is the mother of 2 wonderful teenagers. She is the First Lady of NFBCO. She facilitates and teaches in our CCB Seniors program. And, if that is not enough, she has returned to school. Here is what Anahit relates about the skills and attitudes necessary for self-advocacy. It is a word often used. But, as Anahit reveals, it is different for each one of us. And, it is also necessarily situational.

According to Oxford dictionary, self-advocacy is defined as “the action of representing oneself or one’s views or interests”. A seemingly simple task to do: figure out your thoughts, opinions and values and take action to represent them. Not so fast! Learning to be your own advocate is a life-long process. Being a part of a large organization, such as the National Federation of the Blind, gives us all the support necessary to feel confident about sharing our viewpoints. Through the NFB and affiliated programs, we can obtain the skills we need and the philosophy to support our confidence. And, theoretically, this should be a transferable skill. However, it does not always work this way.

Being a strong advocate for yourself does not necessarily mean only considering your own interests and values. It is a fine dance between knowing what you stand for, the values of those around you, how your viewpoints differ and how to bring it all together by letting your voice to be heard. I am a person in my late forties who had the courage to move across the world, to a place where I knew absolutely no one. I was 28 at the time. I knew where I stood, what I wanted and the life I did not wish to live. I found ways to advocate for myself with the support of my family. Finding the NFB and the Colorado Center for the Blind was what made a lot of it possible.  Starting a life of my own, finding a very supportive network of friends and family in Colorado was no little task. And, here I am, almost twenty years later.

As you can see, I am not new to self-advocacy. But I found myself puzzled and not knowing what to do within the past few months. In the life outside the NFB circle, I came across an environment where respect and mutual understanding were not the norm. And, for the first time in years, I did not know how to react, how to be myself. I discovered that when you advocate for yourself in ways that you are comfortable and familiar, the process is much easier. How do we transfer the skills? How do we take many viewpoints into consideration and weigh pros and cons of speaking up? What principals do we let go of, and which ones do we stand for firmly? I am working on figuring all this out. My NFB philosophy and family taught me so much about respect, and self-reliance. I know I can figure all this out with time. And I would love to share the message that we all struggle at times, no matter how confident we appear. Finding the strength and value anchor inside myself is what helps me, in addition to having a strong family to lean on.

I think, Oxford dictionary does not do the word self-advocacy justice. We define it within ourselves, in a different way at different times. Yet, we know we have the support of our organization and each other. Together we can!

Building Connections During the Time of Pandemic

Greetings colleagues and friends,

As you may know, The National Federation of the Blind of Colorado, NFBCO, has been holding a number of sessions blind people and their families can join over the zoom platform by phone, app, or website. These calls focus on topics which the blind of Colorado and the nation have found to be helpful during these challenging times. These Mountain Time at 5 calls occur at 5:00 Monday through Friday. You are cordially invited. Discussions range from yoga practice, exercise, nutrition, audible traffic signals, how to travel effectively in the time of pandemic, and much more. These calls have allowed us to meet some dynamic blind leaders, professionals, and contributors to society from around the nation. We cordially invite you to join one of these calls. The more the merrier! Spread the word!

Zoom information below.
Meeting ID: 595 506 6474
Password: 015571

One tap mobile
+13462487799,,5955066474#

Special note: No Mountain Time at 5 call on Monday, May 25, Memorial Day.

 

Colorado School for the Deaf and Blind Leading, Thriving, Learning, During Pandemic

Following CSDB social media will bring parents and families from around the state updates about the fun and exciting learning activities happening online. CSDB families and staff have been fully engaged nurturing these young caterpillars into smart, fun, funny, engaged butterflies. Hey, I tried. Best metaphor I could come up with in view of this great CSDB Facebook post. Congratulations to the parents and teachers for your innovative caring persistence.

Elementary students, in the School for the Blind, are reading “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” while making their own butterfly life cycles with supplies, at home. A family member of a staff member, who lives in Florida, also shared a video of their live caterpillars, hanging in chrysalises, in their backyard. Pictured are examples of what some of the students submitted to their teachers, on ClassDojo.

Critical Actions: College Board AP Tests

Last week, five blind high school students and the NFB filed a complaint against the College Board with the United States Department of Education Office for Civil Rights and Department of Justice on behalf of themselves and all other blind and deafblind students who are registered to take the May 2020 advanced placement (AP) tests from the College Board. Read the press release and complaint at https://www.nfb.org/programs-services/legal-program/rulings-filings-and-letters#highstakes.
If you are a blind high school student or the parent of a blind high school student who is scheduled to take a College Board AP test this spring and requires accommodations, including but not limited to Braille and tactile graphics, please contact our legal coordinator, Valerie Yingling, as soon as possible at vyingling@nfb.org.

Stability, Flexibility, and Accountability. Keys for Maintaining Business Success for Blind Entrepreneurs Under Pandemic Shutdowns.

Business Enterprise Program of Colorado takes united action to protect the most successful employment program for the blind. Blind operators of a variety of businesses on state and federal property have been impacted by the shutdowns we have all had to endure this Spring. As folks work at home and buildings are closed, most blind entrepreneurs are out of work. Fortunately, Program staff and blind entrepreneurs have enjoyed a level of unprecedented active participation and significant support from the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment in recent years. This is brought about a measure of stability. Through the extraordinary sacrifice and dedication of operators and staff, Elected Operator Committee Chairperson Brad Basta says, “we will get through this. We will get through this by working and sacrificing together.” This was the attitude expressed by Program Manager Dan Whalen and all who attended the annual all operator meeting, virtually of course, on Saturday May 16.

Open Mic Night With the Wild West

The NFBCO Wild West Chapter invites you to join us,
May 23, 6:30-8:30 p.m.,
for an evening of music, comedy, poetry and more, at our very first virtual Open-mic night!
Bring your talent and show us your best 3-5 minute family-friendly act.
Everyone (including children) is welcome!
You'll have to bring your own refreshments, but admission is free.

Show-spots are limited,
For more information or to RSVP; call, text, or email Nate Hecker: 605-610-7959 or heckerhead@gmail.com and we'll be happy to assist you.
We can't wait to see you there!

Blind Parents: Attend Upcoming Discussion

National Dialog Regarding Blind Parents,
Thursday, May 21, 2020,
12:00 p.m. PDT / 3:00 p.m. EDT.
Join us to discuss blind parenting during our nation's health crisis. Topics include:
            One thing your family is doing that is keeping you sane
            Distance learning and children in school
            Social distancing
            And more!
Chat with some of our nation's leaders in the blind parenting community and share your experiences, ask questions, and let us know what topics you would like to have us discuss on future calls.
Discussion Panelists
Featured leaders in the blind parenting community will include:
            Lisamaria Martinez, mom of three children ages nine, five, and three
            Melissa Riccobono, mom of three children, ages thirteen, ten, and seven
            Hai Nguyen, dad of two children, ages nine and seven
            Terri Rupp, mom of two children, ages ten and eight

We Welcome Amira Lucas and Her Family to the NFBCO Education Team

Here is a cute pic of young Kadyn Lucas stylin’ in his new glasses. Welcome to the Federation young man!
Headshot of smiley Kadyn Lucas, 1 year old, showing off his new eyeglasses


National Federation of the Blind Distance Education Resources

Rob Harris is the President of our NFBCO Parents of Blind Children Division. He reminds us that we have excellent resources for families working with their children during this time of pandemic. He also sends some wonderful tips for parents just having fun and teaching the kiddos all at the same time. See his wonderful article following Curtis Chong’s Aurora Chapter info.

Ring the BELL of Freedom Through Literature. Ring the BELL for Summer Fun and Learning. It’s the BELL Summer Academy In-Home Edition.

Martin Becerra-Miranda is the Director of Youth Services at the Colorado Center for the Blind. He is also managing our NFBCO BELL Academy In-Home Edition. We strongly encourage you to find families of blind kiddos and sign them up for what is certainly going to be a fun and fascinating adventure at home. Here is what Martin sent:

Attend NFB BELL® Academy In-Home Edition!

The National Federation of the Blind is offering three summer virtual programs of the NFB BELL Academy, Braille Enrichment for Literacy & Learning, to prepare blind and low-vision children to grow into confident and independent blind people by enhancing their education.

Take advantage of this opportunity for your child to connect with blind role models and more by registering for one of the following sessions:

• June 1, 2020 through June 12, 2020
• June 22, 2020 through July 3, 2020
• July 27, 2020 through August 7, 2020

Each registered student will receive the materials to complete all lessons alongside their parent/ guardian via mail. Each day during the two-week session, there will be two opportunities to connect via web or phone with an experienced teacher. This gives students and families the chance to ask questions and get to know each other.

Limited space available. Learn more and register now at nfb.org/bell.

Game On! Denver Chapter Update from Dan Burke


The Denver Chapter’s last two meetings on the Zoom platform have been the biggest since it was the only chapter in the Metro area. (Excluding, of course, our annual Holiday Party and summer barbecue.) And following Adjournment on May 16, about 25 members played a lively game of Scategories using the breakout room feature.

Board member Brett Boyer has previously hosted a couple of Zoom meetings where he's become proficient at dividing teams up and placing each in its separate room. Here's how it worked on Saturday:

We had three teams of eight or so, each with a scribe. We played several rounds, and on the final category, for example, we had to list things that began with the letter S related to the NFB. Then Brett sent us to our respective rooms where we brainstormed answers and our scribe furiously wrote them down. (Julie Deden used her Braille Sense Polaris.) When time was up, we were whisked back into the main room again and took turns giving our answers. Naturally, Scott LaBarre was the first thing on our team's list!

In some ways, this was even easier than playing at the kitchen table, because there was no chance that someone from another team might overhear us or (none of us would ever do this) drag their feet coming back to the meeting as they tried to get down a few more answers. The final result was a three-way tie.

In both April and May, we had 60 connections to the cloud meeting, which includes connections where more than one person is listening. I estimate we may have had 80 or 90 members on each of these calls.

And we welcomed four new members this month - two of whom were sent to us from our Mountain Hour at Five.

It's fascinating how we've become increasingly comfortable socializing via internet platforms such as Zoom. It has something to do with being in our own living rooms, not at the meeting room at the Center, passing around a wireless microphone. As the strangeness of doing everything Zoom fades into familiarity, these interactions paradoxically become more personal, even though we miss getting together in person.

Of course, we don't get the same social time before and after the meeting, but we do ask everyone to introduce themselves at the beginning of the meeting (I do an alphabetical kind of roll call). And I put social time right on the agenda so members can share a little with each other about how we are all doing in this strange time.

I shared a recording of the Western Meadowlark, my favorite bird, because Julie and I heard one calling every morning last week on our early morning walks.

Another paradox. I've never heard a meadowlark in our neighborhood till this shutdown. Meadowlarks nest on the ground in open fields, and they rarely sit on anything higher than a fence post. We live in the deep Denvurbs, not exactly prime meadowlark habitat. We walk on a short stretch of the High Line Canal Trail. It passes Millikin Park, and north of that are some small pastures for pet horses, and that's where the meadowlark is nesting, apparently. Because we're working from home due to the shutdown, we're out on our walks early in the morning when we’d otherwise be on the bus going to the center, just when meadowlarks are happiest to sing. The dull roar of Denvurbs traffic is much reduced, and there are almost no people out on the trail or in the park to disturb the birds.

The meadowlark's song has buoyed my spirit this past week, and so we all shared something like that which has been a balm to us. Steph Baldwin has been finding more time to meditate. A couple of folks are keeping a gratitude journal, some using an app designed for that purpose. At the same time, we were glad to know that Curtis and Doris are doing well in their retirement community. Though they can't go down to the first floor, their facility has not had an outbreak of COVID-19. Put that in your gratitude journal!

And Diane McGeorge fessed up to stepping out her back door at 8 p.m. to howl with her neighbors to thank all the essential workers that have seen us through the COVID crisis thus far!

Next month we'll have a new game, focused on NFB trivia in preparation for NFB Virtual 2020. and, with any luck, we'll play a recording of Diane howling!

May Meeting of the NFB of Colorado Aurora Chapter

From the aggregator: The Colorado affiliate and the Aurora chapter have certainly been fortunate and blessed by the arrival of Curtis and Peggy Chong from New Mexico. Readers of this rag have certainly been impressed and informed by the Blind History Lady, Peggy Chong. The Aurora chapter has a great secretary in Curtis Chong. And Curtis brings a feel for the Federation and a want to include and help. He’s also blessed with amazing expertise in the area of access technology.

Typically, when our Blind Coloradan carries meeting announcements, especially if they have already been posted elsewhere, we would simply print the who, what, when, and where of it all. However, This announcement from Curtis contains reminders on how best to use the zoom platform that you may wish to share with others. Especially those who are still figuring out that virtual landscape. And hey, if you’d like to join a Federation chapter meeting Saturday morning, I am sure our Aurora brothers and sisters would love your company. Here is what Curtis says:

Greetings Everyone:

The May meeting of the Aurora Chapter of the National Federation of the Blind of Colorado will be held on Saturday, May 23, starting at 10:30 A.M. We are pleased to be able to hear from Joan Lopez, who serves as Arapahoe County's Clerk and Recorder. She will address questions relating to voting, ballots, and elections in Arapahoe County.

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

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


Joining the Zoom Meeting With a Traditional Phone Call:

If you dial into the meeting with a phone call, you should bear in mind 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 669-900-6833. Enter the meeting ID: 9669-5510-434, followed by pound.

If you are using your iPhone to dial into the meeting, take advantage of the following one-tap mobile link here:
+16699006833,,96695510434#


Joining the Meeting With the Zoom Software:

Here is the direct link to join the Zoom meeting using Zoom:

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.

I look forward to seeing all of you at our meeting on May 23. Thank you.

Yours sincerely,
Curtis Chong, Secretary
Aurora Chapter
National Federation of the Blind of Colorado

Parents of Blind Children Take Note

Here are some wonderful reflections from Rob Harris and his blind daughter, Isabelle.

Spring is here and while out on a walk earlier this week I was reminded of nature emerging from the winter months. I think of the new season we are all in as this pandemic changes our normal. Give yourself a pat on the back, this is hard, and you are doing a great job! Normal routines are now disrupted, the classroom has moved to the home front. Be kind to yourself and to your family. If following a regular schedule is not the priority, that is ok, spend your day having fun together. Bring out all of the pots and pans with your littles, explore each and every item in all of the lower cupboards that are age appropriate. Lids, pans, colanders. Maybe this is the first time exploring these tools of the house, what do you want your child to know about it. Explain why it has holes, try it out together. As the school-aged children's education shifts to a model that we heard about, digital learning, that time is here. By now your students most likely have heard from their education team. If Braille is being taught materials should be sent home with communication from the TVI. Many of us are using the district's learning platforms such as Schoology and ClassLink. As a reminder, Freedom Scientific is offering a FREE home version of its popular software JAWS, ZoomText, and Fusion for both until June 30th, a great time to use the tools that most blind adults use in their jobs day today. With more time at home, this is a great opportunity to learn activities of daily living, ADL's. Laundry, lunch making, cleaning up a mess are all skills for lifelong learning, I spilled a box of shredded wheat and had to clean it all up, even that fine powder found at the bottom of the cereal bag, what a mess! The NFB Distant Learning program offers lessons to learn these skills. For older students in High School and on their way to college, now is a great time to practice these "on your own skills". Document what skills you want to learn as you identify tools in this online and digital world. What can help you be successful? Speaking up, self-advocacy and knowing what works for you is really important as we all figure this new learning model together. Always remember you have a team of resources in the NFB of Colorado, reach out, the number for help is 303-778-1130 extension 219.

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

Forward, always Forward!