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Thursday, June 25, 2020

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


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

Writer, aggregator Kevan Worley. 
Contributing editor Dan Burke.

Here is what you need to know

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

Greetings Dear Readers,

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

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

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

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

Congratulations Colorado!

 

Special Thanks to NFBCO Sponsor Comcast

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

 

Colorado Leads the Way in Accessible Voting, By Curtis Chong

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

Dear Curtis (and others),

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

M Mejia

 

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

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

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

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

 

No Barriers Free! Virtual Summit

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

Make the Most of Your Virtual National Convention

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

 

Important Committee Update from Our Very Capable Chairperson Darian Smith

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

Federation family,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Celebrating Pride, By JJ Aragon

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

Here is what Gail says: 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Congratulations to Our Colorado Springs Chapter!

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

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

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

 

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

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

Make us proud, Mile High

 

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

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

According to President, Dale Holden:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Sunday! Sunday! Sunday!

Greetings blind canine cruisers,

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

Join Zoom Meeting:

https://zoom.us/j/7206208007

Meeting ID: 720 620 8007

One tap mobile

+13462487799,,7206208007#

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


 The Blind History Lady, By Peggy Chong

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

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

 

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

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

2020 NOPBC Conference at the NFB Convention

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

https://www.facebook.com/CSDBBulldogs