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Thursday, August 6, 2020

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


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

Writer, aggregator Kevan Worley. 
Contributing editor Dan Burke.

Here is what you need to know

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Diversity and Inclusion, Sustaining the Effort

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 #NFB20Move

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

 Moving the Agenda

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

 Move the Mountain

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

 Fit Breaks

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

 Move Forward

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

 

Preserving Our History By Peggy Chong

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Update from Our State Library From Debbie MacLeod, Executive Director

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

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

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

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

 

Dog Days of Summer

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

 

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

Forward, always Forward!