NFB Open to All Conference Call
This past Thursday, March 15, we held our NFB Open to All Conference Call. For announcements we had the phone conference hosted yesterday by Walter Woitesek for NFB Newsline. Scott White, who administers the program for the NFB, was able to be on the call. Next month, on April 21, we will meet at Pat's Pizza on State Street in Augusta for our first Lighthouse At Large Chapter of the NFB of Maine meeting. We will also have an NFB Newsline Demonstration and hear from Ron Gardner about NFB Rehabilitation Centers (for anyone interested) and also he'll do a Leadership Training. Everyone is welcome, members and non-members alike. Come and chat and order some of Pat's great food and check out the National Federation of the Blind of Maine and one of our national programs that benefits anyone, NFB Newsline. We will meet at ten and adjourn in mid-afternoon...with a break for lunch, of course! (we will each order for ourselves from the menu).
Lyn Duplesis from Pine Tree Guide Dog Users Group announced their annual Spring Fling, May 5 at the Senator Inn in Augusta. The cost is $15 for the day, which includes speakers plus a light breakfast and lunch.
Then it was my privilege to introduce Joanne Wilson from our National Center for the Blind in Baltimore and we thank her for spending her evening with us. Joanne started the first NFB Rehabilitation Center in Louisiana in 1985 and also served as head of the Department of Rehabilitation for four years in the Bush administration. Her remarks were inspiring and full of thought provoking practical philosophy for blind people to consider.
By law, we have a choice in rehabilitation. Ms. Wilson advised that someone looking at any rehabilitation center talk with the graduates and see what they have to say and see what they are doing with acquired skills. She made the analogy that choosing the right training for you is like choosing a secondary school. If you can, go and visit. The Louisiana Center has rooms for visitors and tours. There are two other NFB Centers, one in Minnesota and one in Colorado. The curriculum is the same at all three: competent independent cane travel, Braille literacy, access to technology,independent living skills, developing your own philosophy of what it means to you to be blind and, finally, a Confidence Class. This also goes by another name...shop! Everyone learns to run power tools under sleep shade and makes a chair, because "Then you will know for sure that if you can do this, you can do anything!" explained Joanne.
The trainings run for six to nine months, depending on the individual. It is intensive immersion in acquiring the skills of blindness. Joanne says that it takes this long to completely and confidently apply the techniques in any setting we might find ourselves. She went on to explain that just a week here or four there just barely begins the process. Often times, the blind person has to go back for another period of training. Doing this repeatedly costs money and getting it done once, she said, is a better use of funds and a blind person's time. The result is a better trained and capable blind person ready to contribute to his or her community. Research has born this out.
If anyone would like to ask Joanne Wilson questions, you can contact her at:
410 659 9314 ex: 2335
I have been moderating these informal calls for our NFB Affiliate for eighteen months. I've enjoyed bringing people, professionals and resources together. However, March was our last regularly scheduled call...but we are still "open"! You can contact me to see how to learn more about NFB Newsline, Parents' Division and to attend by phone our monthly meetings of the Lighthouse At Large Chapter. We will have speakers and we welcome everyone to visit. To be a voting member, just send $3.00 to our Treasurer, Leon Proctor, 33 Morse Ave, Lewiston, 04240.
We will continue to participate in an open and helpful environment for all the blind of Maine, from students to seniors.
We are in the process of "building" the content of our website, which we will have Roger Cusson, our web master, announce by e-mail and postings.
Until then, you can find out about the NFB Centers, the temBrooke library, the technology center, the Independence Market, our Free White Cane Program, the National Association of Blinded Bets and get "Straight Talk on Blindness" at
Thank you so much for joining in our calls, for being a speaker and for your friendship!
"The Voice of the Blind-Changing what it means to be blind in Maine!"