THE NATIONAL FEDERATION OF THE BLIND OF MAINE NEWS MATTERS NEWSLETTER: FREE NFB PRESIDENT!!
Vol.2 Issue 1
SEASONS GREETINGS January 31, 2012
editor: Patricia E. C. Estes
First Vice President, NFB of Maine
PR & Information
"The Voice of the Blind in Maine-Changing What it Means to be Blind"
President, Leon Proctor, Jr"
In This Issue:
*Leon is in Jail!
*Deadline to apply for NFB Scholarships approaching
*Winter Camp for students 8 to 18
*Do you know your rights?
*Join us for Goal Ball, March 23!
*Welcome to our new members!
*Message from President Leon Proctor
*Bits of News
*Calendar of Important Dates & Events
*Final Thoughts from the Editor
*HELP THE NFB OF MAINE SET OUR PRESIDENT FREE!!
Oh my goodness! President Proctor has been put behind bars because the work of the Federation is beginning to touch the lives of blind people in Maine! Some professionals are running for the RSA regs, others are blind people who are beginning to dream just a little bit, but don't tell anyone. Just go to the home page of our website www.nfb-me.org and help us out with your vote and donation! This fundraiser runs through February and certainly will change the lives of our members that qualify for the scholarships that we will be giving to attend our NFB National Convention and to strengthen training here in Maine. We thank you so much! And please do it, share it, like it and post it!
President Leon Proctor and our Legislative Lead, Roger Cusson, will be meeting with Maine's Congressional Delegation on Capitol Hill February 5-7 about the national agenda that we will be focused on for the 113th Congress. There are three items: the continued work to repeal section 14C of the(un)Fair Wages Labor Standards Act . This would repeal the unfair and immoral practice of a company being able to get a contract/permission to pay disabled workers less, much less, than the minimum wage. The next is a bill that is being introduced into the Senate and needs another sponsor and came from our National Association of Blinded Veterans Association and has to do with the military's "space Available Program." This allows retired military personal to fly on military transport free of charge when there is space available. But this does not extend to the disabled Vet because s/he has not been able to earn enough time in service. The third Bill is a very important one and deals with the findings from the Accessible Instructional Materials Board. The "TEACH Act" (Technology in Education is Accessible in College and higher learning Act)calls upon the Accessibility Board to follow through and also on institutions, manufactures and
professors to be sure that users have full and equal (not separate) access to the instructional materials. We can assist this work back throughout the year with follow up calls and appointments and we will hear from Leon and Roger at an upcoming meeting.
*NFB National Scholarships Application Deadline Approaches: March 31!
The National Federation of the Blind awards thirty generous scholarships annually at the banquet of our annual convention. It was so very exciting to be present to hear all of the interesting things that these winners are studying and planning.
Skip and I held our breath to see if Brandon Terry from Southern Utah University, our son's friend, would, maybe, just maybe, be one of the top winners. I had spoken with him a little over a year before then when he had won an NFB of Utah Scholarship to continue his studies to become a construction site manager. But I could tell that he still wasn't sure whether or not there were the tools he needed or whether or not he could
even actually do this! Hooray! He did it! And he won one of the top three scholarships! We spoke with him later and his confidence and poise was natural now. You can't tell me that the NFB doesn't change lives!
To apply for a 2013 Scholarship there four requirements to meet: that you live in the US and will be attending higher education in the US, that you fill out an application (go to www.nfb.org), that you have an interview with the NFB Affiliate President of your state and, finally, that you are legally blind.
There seems to have been some confusion in Maine of late on this last point, which is quite straight forward. Legal blindness means that your visual acuity (even with best correction) is no better than 20/200 in both eyes. In Maine there is a legally recognized category called "visually impaired" and my understanding is that is anything better than 20/200and the other end I just don't know. Being Visually impaired still qualifies you for some services you may not have received in other states. But as far as these visual acuity measurements, only A TRAINED PROFESSIONAL CAN MAKE THE LEGAL BLINDNESS DETERMINATION OR INTERPRET THE visual acuity tested NUMBERS. A supervisor, a case worker or a TVI cannot look at the written report from the eye care specialist that you chose and from that report determine whether or not you have "usable vision", especially if you have a deteriorating condition. Only the trained eye care professional can make these interpretations of the acuity test numbers because they also have a knowledge of the history of the progression of your individual problem and expert analysis that they can bring to bear. You are not just acuity numbers and if you have any questions, contact your eye specialist and ask for their reply in writing.( Please and thank you.)
*Do you know your Rights?
The previous paragraph prompts me to remind you that you can be an informed consumer and do not have to be alone or to feel alone when working with The System. You can talk to someone in the NFB, go to our website, or you can call the Consumer Advisory Program, called CARES, in Maine. It is a free program and is Federally mandated to be sure that the rights of the disabled are being protected. Their website is www.caresinc.org and there is contact information there as well as lots of other interesting ideas. Kathy Despres was our guest on a conference call for our BETA Students and their Parents and it was extremely helpful. You are able to call the CARES office if you just have a question or a "what if" type of scenario. "We take 'what if' questions all the time!" Kathy assured us. Even if you don't have any questions, now, visit their site and see what it is all about.
*Time for Winter Sports Camp with Mark Sinclair & NEBAA!
Mark will be helping with Goal Ball on March 23. He teaches at Sports Camps as well as each semester at UMO. The New England Blind Athletics Association sponsors four sports camps for students from the ages of eight to eighteen every year. Got to their website www.nebaamaine.org and check out the skiing events and camp for the second week end of March at Sugarloaf, I believe. You can fill out the form on-line and there is no cost for the students. Get moving!
*A Message from the NFB President of Maine, Leon Proctor, Jr:
Motivational Team Building:
Hello to all you Maniac Federationist! Happy New Year to you all and your families. I hope that this message finds all of you well. We as a chapter here in Maine have ended year 2012 in grand fashion and elected a whole new board to kick the beginning of year 2013 off to a strong start. I want to start off by asking all of you a question. I am not looking for an answer but for you to truly look within yourselves and answer it honestly to yourself. "Why are you in and/or participating in the NFB?" I believe we are all here for many different reasons. Even though all these different reasons are valid and are the right reasons for you. I also believe we are all here for a common reason together as well. This common reason is simply known as "TRUE FREEDOM"
We stand side by side to fight for the rights of every blind person in Maine. The right to live in the world, The right to have fare wages for fare work that you do. The rights to be equal to those around us in this world., The right to make our own educated decisions, The right to vote, The same rights as every other human being! These all fall under the simple phrase of "TRUE FREEDOM" Really think about it. Let it sink in for a moment. Aren't we all just fighting for our given rights to have our own freedom as human beings in the world?
The more we come together in the NFB of Maine and unify as a strong chapter of the blind community in Maine the stronger we all will be in our quest for equality and acceptance as humans not known as the disabled, unfortunate or out cast in society. We will be known as the people in our communities that contribute to society like everyone else! The people that stand proudly in 'TRUE FREEDOM" as a human being!
So in closing I want to leave you with this. Dream big! So big you may thing it is impossible to reach that goal. Share your dreams with others that way they can help you obtain the impossible With in your "TRUE FREEDOM" you will find the strength and hope to fight for that dream. Lastly go for it. Live your dream and let your federation brothers and sisters help you obtain your dreams! Together anything is possible and nothing is too big for your dreams.
Leon Proctor, Jr.
President, NFB of Maine
*Welcome to all new members and everyone check out the changes at www.nfb-me.org! We now have a Pay Pal button to use to pay or to renew dues and membership with and of course the Pay Pal button for our fundraiser, "Free the President! February fundraiser! Membership entitles you to vote and effect leadership and policy of our Maine affiliate. It also makes you eligible for grants to the National Convention and to other trainings that are held at the National Center for the Blind in Baltimore. On our NFB of Maine web site, you will find directions to listen to the monthly Presidential Release and to be connected to what is going on Nationally. www.nfb.org has many resources, literature, links to other NFB programs as well as helpful information about "how to's." The calendar below introduces you to most of what we are doing in the NFB of Maine that hasn't been mentioned yet!
*Bits of News:
Walter Woitesek, our Newsline Board Member, tells us that he has two demonstrations of Newsline set up and one is at the Iris Center's next CAC meeting. He has had a large percentage of return mail expressing interest in receiving Newsline:
Correction! The next BETA Activity is Saturday, March 2 (not 3) at the Estes', 790 Pownal Road, Auburn.
We are looking into what is required to get passport/I.D. to use between the US and Canada. It is supposed to be quicker and easier to apply for.
And another ongoing problem we will be getting back to you on, is a collaboration of low income and disabled consumers meeting to get creative about actually doing something about our transportation problem in Maine.
President Leon Proctor appointed Mark Tardiff to the NFB of Maine Board of Directors as the Chair over Fund Raising...and Mark said "Yes!" We are so pleased to have Mark join the leadership here, as he is an experienced Federation Leader in other Affiliates, finally returning home! Mark had an idea that we all liked on the board and that would be simple for an At Large Chapter as far flung as ours (from Grand Isle to Mount Desert Island to Elliot!) to pull off! Thank you, Mark!
Leeann Nelson is leaving February 3 for Leader Dogs to train with her third Guide Dog! Hooray! She returns on February 28 and we will have our February BETA Activity on March 2. We will hear about Lee Ann's trading, meet her new Guide Dog, talk about canes and dogs and go for a walk on Nana's very, very long paved drive way next door. Have a wonderful trip, Lee Ann and be sure to Haytel us!
President Proctor leaves on March 16 for the Louisiana Center for the Blind! Yes, Ron and Garrick, he is really doing it! His dear wife, Suzanne and his NFB family here in Maine are fully behind the important personal work Leon is taking on. I see that Leon is a pioneer for others who really want what we have seen: full and complete access for the competent, competitive, skilled blind person...just the same as the sighted in line behind him/her! Leon, I can't wait for you to meet your Mobility Instructor!!! No cane throwing there! and be assured that we will stay close to Suzanne while you are gone for six months. (Suzanne, what say we turn your nice little place into a girlie Day-Spa??!)
-March 2, BETA Activity, Estes' home, ten to noon
-March 23, Saturday, nine to noon, BETA Activity, Goal Ball...all welcome!
-February 7, 7-8, NFB of Maine Board Meeting by Teleconference
-February 21, 7-8, Lighthouse At Large Chapter Meeting by Teleconference for all members
-April 26, Lighthouse 2nd Annual In Person Meeting at Pat's Pizza in Augusta from ten to two. Order from the menu.. Our membership has grown, we may need to use their other room. We will have an iPhone demo after lunch and a bit of a program before lunch.
-Our NFB State convention is the last week end in October, Friday and Saturday in Auburn.
-Register NOW for the NFB National Convention In Orlando, July 1-6! Details are in the Braille Monitor, Presidential Release and on the website.
-FEBRUARY FUNDRAISER!!! "FREE THE PRESIDENT" GO VIRAL, ANY DONATION IS GRATEFULLY APPRECIATED AND WILL BE PUT TO WORK!
*Some Thoughts from the Editor:
So, is this newsletter late? Well, according to the time-stamp, it is still January. It's in the nick of time, I'd say. Yes, as President Proctor said, there is quite a bit going on in and planned for the Maine Affiliate of the NFB. It is powerful to watch and to be a part of, there's no going back, now! The Federation has been firmly planted in Maine by a volunteer army armed with the power of common sense, human dignity and equality. We have the tenacity to teach what we were taught: that it is ok to be blind because our God is no Respecter of persons, that all men are created equal. And we have the nerve to demand nothing less for us and the future's children in Maine.
And even as we are each engaged in doing what we can to move this cause forward, Life goes on! There cancer treatments, job cuts, extra classes to take, no job, try to buy oil, get to the emergency Room, fix the car...you know the drill. What I am saying that even with a double portion of Life, our leaders and members are moving the NFB forward in Main. We each have our jobs, our interests and we share, care about each other and laugh. I would like to take a moment to thank our NFB Family for helping Skip and I these past few days as he had day surgery scheduled more quickly than we expected (that's why most of you didn't know about it). Thank you Leon, Suzanne and Lee Ann for your prayers and letting me know that you could help me to help Skip. And Bobbie and Richard, that meal was yummy tonight! It means so much to me. Thank you, all.
I had thought I would use this issue to write about the definition of blindness, but we did touch upon it. I also wanted to help you to protect your true identity, but as it turns out, Leon did touch on that. But I will finish that up next month.! There are at least two pieces of state legislation that we'll need to decide what our policy and stand will be. One member during the 765 work would say that it was just like we were all rounded up for show: our canes and dogs and that we were the sign carriers helping the professionals say, "See? My job is important!" We certainly are all for more teachers, but when the bill kinda sorta passed, and it might have been our turn, the consumer-props turn to talk to the professionals about how to teach blind people, it was a one way relationship. We rarely heard from them again. We don't hear about the VR programs that they run, the times and dates or newsletters of the state financed parent support group and we still want to try to maintain some sort of working relationshpp. We share our information, the consumer deserves choice and we published information from other groups. But the State seems to be holding their cards tight, which is too bad, because they'll just end up with, well, tight cards and no living, breathing program! Funny thing how blind tax payers can't seem to get consumer information about state supported peer group services and VR trainings. We would be glad to participate and/or spread the word.
More on the details of the legislation on a call, but as one member put it, he was sick of being paraded out when we were needed but invisible otherwise and that, perhaps, it is time "to play hard ball." You mean like the consumer advocacy group for Autism who just filed a class action law suit because they had a waiting list for services? Sound familiar? Well guess what, we have another waiting list this year!
"Think about it, is it better to get a pat on the back or a pay check? And what is happening to the Transition Age population? No, not just the college bound kids. The blind students who want a trade or skill or the high school graduate who wants to go directly into the work force, they all deserve counseling guidance as laid out in Title 1. These people are critical to reach-now. Yet Maine has been cited for one of the lowest percentages served. Think about them. another member offered,
"We need to think about our response: play the same old game or truly go for the mark and it's time to play hard ball."
Patricia C. Estes
First Vice President
NFB of Maine
207 344 8292
"The Voice of the Blind-changing what it means to be blind in Maine!"
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