Skip navigation bar
Lighthouse of the Big Bend, Guiding People Through Vision Loss (Logo)
Lighthouse of the Big Bend ~ formerly FIRE
Mission: To assist people with vision loss in their pursuit of independence
Home
About Us
Services
Local Resources
Newsletter & Calendar
Links
Donations
Volunteers
NEWSLETTER & CALENDAR

Calendar & Newsletters:
Spring 2013
Fall 2012
Summer 2012
Spring 2012
Fall/Winter 2011
Summer 2011
Spring 2011
Fall 2010
Summer 2010
Spring 2010
Winter 2009/10
Fall 2009
Summer 2009
Spring 2009
Winter 2008/09
Fall 2008
Summer 2008
Spring 2008
Winter 2007/08
Fall 2007
Summer 2007
Spring 2007
Winter 2006/07
Fall 2006
Summer 2006
Spring 2006

Google Groups
Subscribe to LighthouseBigBend Email List
Email:
Visit this group

And now you can find us on facebook: Lighthouse BigBend
Lighthouse BigBend




As We See It
Lighthouse of the Big Bend
Spring 2013 Newsletter

In this issue:
1. Celebrating 30 Years of Service: Top Ten Historical Facts about LBB
2. Welcome Audrey, Early Intervention Staff!
3. Positions Open at the Lighthouse of the Big Bend
4. Palmer Eye Center Helps Veterans
5. Mobility 101: StarMetro Update
6. Upcoming Events: SPORTSABILITY, April 11-13
7. Lighthouse TECHNO DEMO June 21-22
8. Frequently Called Numbers
9. Helpful Websites
10. Spring 2013 Classes
11. About the Lighthouse


1. Celebrating 30 Years of Service: Top Ten Historical Facts about LBB
10. Founded in 1983, the original name of the organization was the “Rural Center for Independent Living” and was housed with the Gadsden County school system.

9. Staff originally had no computers so reports were dictated on cassette tapes and a receptionist used a typewriter for notes.

8. The organization’s second name was Independence for the Blind, and in 1993 the staff helped start “Independence for the Blind WEST” in Pensacola.

7. The second location was a small office suite in the United Way building on Seventh Ave. beside the police department. When Evelyn was learning to teach O&M, she went under blindfold to learn cane travel. She was walking along the sidewalk and her cane found an object that she whacked repeatedly with her cane to figure out what it was, only to find out it was a police car. Oops!

6. The first computer system at Independence for the Blind took two and a half days to print a monthly report on green bar paper—the staff would start printing Friday and it would still be printing when they returned on Monday!

5. The Lighthouse has grown in building size of an initial 600 square feet to the current location which is 5,600 square feet.

4. Over the past 30 years, the organization has only had three executive directors: Claude Seale, Skip Koch and Barbara Ross.

3. Many staff members have a great deal of longevity here - Wayne Warner, Vocational Director has been working at the organization since 1987 (26 years), Evelyn Worley, Assistant Director since 1988 (25 years) and Jeanine Kane, Independent Living Supervisor since 1993 (20 years).

2. Fundraising events have grown from hotdogs sold at a Springtime Tallahassee booth by staff and board to a four-course meal served in the dark by the LCSO SWAT Team!

1. For the past 30 years the organization now named Lighthouse of the Big Bend, has served clients who are visually impaired or blind in the 11 counties of the Big Bend and this will always be our number one priority!



2. Welcome Audrey, Early Intervention Staff!
Greetings Lighthouse friends! As of February 19, I became the new staff member working with children age 0-5 and their families, and am enjoying working alongside Jennifer Crowder in the Early Intervention program. My background in early childhood special education at UF prepared me well for the variety of teaching experiences I've had since graduating with my Master's degree in 1995. As a Pre-K vision teacher in Pinellas County, I did work similar to what my current position demands – and loved it! After moving back to Gainesville for my husband's post graduate work, I signed on as an adjunct professor at UF supervising interns and designing seminars for the special education department. Since my husband (John Elzie) and I are both native to Tallahassee, we chose to move back here in 2001 to establish his medical practice and raise our three kids. Since being back home, I have worked as an educator with the Tallahassee Museum and a substitute teacher for Leon County Schools. My children also keep me very busy. Owen, my 15-year-old son, participates in the Capital City Rowing club and ROTC at Leon High School. His twin sister, Sophia, is on the competitive Latin team at Leon and plays viola in the orchestra. Everett, 11, swims for ATAC and plays the trumpet in the band. I spend my slivers of free-time cooking, gardening, remodeling the house, and tending bees and chickens. I am happy to be here and I look forward to working with you!


3. Positions Open at the Lighthouse of the Big Bend
We are growing and have several openings listed below. To see a detailed job description for each of the positions, please visit our website at www.lighthousebigbend.org. To apply, please email a cover letter and resume to info@lighthousebigbend.org .

(1) Lighthouse Transition Specialist

Full time OR part time professional staff needed to provide instruction to high school students who are blind and visually impaired in adaptive travel skills, personal and home management, communications, social services, recreation & leisure, and vocational skills. The primary goal of this position is to provide the highest quality instructional services possible to assist teens who are blind or visually impaired with “transitioning” to independence whether a job or college. Works under the direction of the Assistant Director; can be part time hourly or the full time salaried position from $25,000 - $35,000 with excellent benefits including paid annual, sick & holiday leave, 100% health insurance, life insurance, retirement.

(2) Lighthouse Independent Living Specialist

Part time professional staff needed to provide the highest quality instructional services possible to people who are blind or visually impaired, primarily age 55 or older. Curriculum includes, but is not limited to, the following: independent living, personal and home management, communication, indoor orientation and mobility (pre-cane skills), social services, and recreation/leisure skills. Works 20 hours per week as a member of the instructional staff under the direction and training of the Independent Living Supervisor; hourly wage $14-$18 per hour.

(3) Lighthouse Orientation & Mobility Specialist

Part time professional ACVREP Certified Orientation & Mobility Specialist needed to provide 15-20 hours per week instruction in adaptive travel skills to adults who are blind and visually impaired in the area of orientation and mobility within the 11 counties of the Big Bend (North Central Florida). Works under the direction of the Assistant Director; hourly wage of $18 per hour.

(4) Lighthouse Summer Part Time Drivers

After school is out from approximately June 10 – August 2, three part time drivers are needed to drive a rental van and bring Transition students back and forth to their Summer Program, Monday – Thursday, 6-9am and 3-6pm; hourly wage of $8 per hour.

To apply, please email a cover letter and resume to info@lighthousebigbend.org . A resume submitted without a cover letter may not be considered. Thank you!


4. Palmer Eye Center Helps Veterans
Palmer Eye Center is participating in the Homeless Veterans Stand Down held April 5-7 at the North Florida Fairgrounds. If you have any readers or plano sunglasses to donate, it would be very much appreciated in order to help Veterans with vision needs.

Palmer Eye Center will pick up whatever you would like to donate at a time that is convenient for you; just contact Susan at susan@palmereye.com or (850) 877-7337.

These veterans will receive an array of free services over this 3-day period including vision screenings, dental exams, haircuts, showers, hot meals, pet therapy, Medicaid applications, job and employment applications, and pharmacy services to name a few. To find out more about the Stand Down event, go to www.northfloridastanddown.org . Thanks in advance for helping us help these deserving veterans.

~ Susan Conklin, Palmer Eye Center


5. Mobility 101: StarMetro Update
StarMetro continues to make improvements to their system to make transportation safe and accessible for everyone. Additional fine-tuning of the decentralized bus system has taken place in recent months. Several of the buses in the downtown area were re-routed to once again go through C.K. Steele Plaza, making transfers to certain buses more convenient. The gate labeling system changed from letters to numbers. Ride Guides were updated and published in December. Accompanying Braille and large print Ride Guides and tactile diagrams of the transfer plaza were produced and are available by calling StarMetro.

You may have noticed that the buses pulling into the Governor’s Square Mall (C and, Saturday A and E, and Night 1 and 4), whether eastbound or westbound, pull into the mall parking lot on the side of the driveway closest to the storefronts. This eliminates the need to cross the driveway to get into the store entrances (JC Penney, Macy’s and the general mall entrance between them.)

Progress has been made with intersection improvements and the installation of audible signals where bus routes intersect. Ten out of the fifteen intersections previously identified as high priority have been completed. StarMetro asked the Lighthouse to coordinate obtaining feedback from the blind community on making some changes regarding the priority list. This was done through TABI and other email contacts. As a result, the installation of an audible signal at the intersection of Tennessee and Adams St. will be moved to a lower priority slot in favor of moving ahead with installation of audible signals at Mahan and Magnolia Dr. and Seventh Ave. and Monroe St. (near the Senior Center).

FTA funding has been approved for moving forward with installing Braille placards at bus stops. Feedback was sought about locations of priority and it was determined that transfer points and major destinations (shopping centers, hospitals, etc.) would be installed first, with others to be added later. The material to be used (metal or acrylic) is still to be determined. Some of the factors in the decision are cost versus durability.

StarMetro reports that their goal is to select a vendor to create the bus stop signs by mid-April. New benches and bus shelters are coming soon. A comprehensive list of locations can be found at the StraMetro website (www.talgov.com/starmetro) under the “In the News” section. The Lighthouse bus stop location is not currently on the list but will be considered in the future as the inventory is replenished.

Stay tuned for more StarMetro updates. Continue to advocate for your needs and to provide feedback on your experiences (both bad and good!) and ideas by contacting StarMetro at 891-5200.

As always, the Lighthouse’s Orientation & Mobility Specialists, Evelyn, Angel and Sharon, will be happy to answer your mobility questions at (850)942-3658 or email eworley@lighthousebigbend.org .


6. Upcoming Events: SPORTSABILITY, April 11-13
SportsAbility is a program where families and friends can all recreate together. All abilities and all ages are welcome. equipment enables people to focus on what they CAN do. SportsAbility utilizes hands-on training to help people with disabilities become more comfortable and confident in getting out and being active. Everyone is encouraged to come out and see what is possible and realize there are no boundaries too great to overcome! For more information go to www.fdoa.org or call 850-201-2944.

4/11, 6-8pm Miracle Field in Messer Park: (FREE) SportsAbility kicks off with baseball and lawn games on Thursday night. See what Miracle Sports is all about!

4/12, 10am-2pm TCC’s Lifetime Sports Complex: (FREE) Friday features accessible, inclusive indoor activities, games, entertainment, martial arts demonstration, and Disability Resource Expo for people to learn about the latest in products and services.

4/12, 5:30-8:30pm Active Leisure for Life Banquet (tickets $30/person or $50/couple) at the TCC’s Workforce Development Banquet Hall. Enjoy dinner, acoustic guitar performance by Carlos & Carlos Duo, & a silent auction. The keynote speaker is comedian, Derrick Tennant.

4/13, 10am – 3pm Ochlockonee River State Park: (FREE) Saturday’s activities include sit water-skiing, kayaking, sailing, SCUBA, archery, swimming, pontoon boat rides, horseback riding, a nature trail ride featuring three interpretive stations (moonshine, worm grunting, and turpentine) and much more. A free shuttle from the CK Steele Plaza in Tallahassee is available leaving at 9 & 10 AM and returning at 3 & 4 PM. Activities free thanks to your sponsors.


7. Lighthouse TECHNO DEMO June 21-22
The Lighthouse of the Big Bend is sponsoring the 3rd annual Techno Demo on June 21, 2 - 5pm and June 22, 9am - 2pm at our office at 3071 Highland Oaks Terrace, in Tallahassee.

The previous Techno Demo events received positive feedback from those who attended. We will again have numerous vendors showing off all the latest technology and demonstrating how many daily tasks can become accessible for persons who are visually impaired or blind, with the use of large print, speech and/or braille. Local agencies will have displays and information available on a variety of helpful services. There will be demonstrations of adaptive computer programs, desk top & portable digital magnifiers, several types of iOS devices (such as an iPad) and different accessibility features, along with other types of technology.

This event is free and open to anyone interested in learning about adaptive technology and resources for persons who are visually impaired or blind. For more information, or if you plan to attend, please contact Jeanine Kane, IL Supervisor at (850) 942-3658 ext 215 or jkane@lighthousebigbend.org .


8
. Frequently Called Numbers

211 Big Bend (24 hours) 211

Big Bend Transit 574-6064

DBS 245-0370; 1(800)672-7038

Dial-A-Ride 891-5199

Elder Care 921-5554

Insight Support Group 878-1923

Lighthouse of the Big Bend 942-3658

Magnifiers & More 671-3936

Medicaid 921-8474

Project Insight 24-hr Helpline 1-800-267-4448

Senior Center 891-4000

StarMetro 891-5200

Talking Book Library 1-800-226-6075

VA Low Vision Clinic 878-0191 ext. 2086

Yellow Cab 580-8080


9. Helpful Websites

American Foundation for the Blind — http://www.afb.org/

American Printing House for the Blind — http://www.aph.org

Blind Bargains — http://www.blindbargains.com/

Family Connect — http://www.familyconnect.org/parentsitehome.asp

Florida Braille and Talking Book Library — http://webopac.klas.com/talkingbooks/florida

Hadley School for the Blind — http://www.hadley.edu/

Lighthouse of the Big Bend — http://www.lighthousebigbend.org

National Federation of the Blind — http://www.nfb.org/nfb/Resources.asp

Self-help Resources for Vision Loss — http://www.visionaware.org/


10. Lighthouse Spring Classes 2013

Braille Class: 1st & 3rd Thursday, 10am-2pm

i-devices Technology Class: 2nd & 4th Tuesday, 2-4:30pm

Independent Living Class: 2nd & 4th Wednesday, 10am-3pm

Quarterly O&M with Dog Guides: Saturday, April 20, 11am—1pm

Suwannee Co. Advent IL Class: 1st Monday, 1:30-4pm

TECHNO DEMO: June 21, 2-5pm and June 22, 9am-2pm

Transition Summer Program 2013: June 10— August 1, Monday through Thursday, 9am-3pm

Way to Work, Strategies for Employment: 2nd & 4th Wednesdays, 10am-12pm

Save the Date: DINING IN THE DARK, Sunday, October 13 !

11. About the Lighthouse
Lighthouse of the Big Bend provides free services to individuals who are visually impaired or blind in Franklin, Gadsden, Hamilton, Jefferson, Lafayette, Leon, Liberty, Madison, Suwannee, Taylor & Wakulla Counties.

Address: 3071 Highland Oaks Terrace

Phone: 850-942-3658

Toll-free: 1-888-827-6063

Fax: 850-942-4518

Email: info@lighthousebigbend.org

Website: http://www.lighthousebigbend.org

Board
President: Evelyn Sewell
Vice President: Fred Sanguiliano
Treasurer: Lynda Breen
Secretary: Jamie Ito
Members:
Sam Atwood
Fred F Flink, OD
Ted Judd
Jada Michael
Jon Peck

Staff
Executive Director: Barbara Ross
Assistant Director: Evelyn Worley
Assistive Technology: Elizabeth Bowden
Client Information Specialist: Tinetta Cooper
Early Intervention: Jennifer Crowder & Audrey Robbins
Independent Living: Jeanine Kane, Toni King & Julia Kamm-Cohen
Office Manager: Simone Cunningham
Specialist Assistant: Mike Worley
Transition: Amanda Kan
Transition and O&M: Angel Fazio
Vocational Services: Wayne Warner & Eva McElvy

FREE SERVICES: Do you know someone in your life who might benefit from services? We’d love to help. It’s easy—just call 942-3658 or email info@lighthousebigbend.org. Thanks!




As We See It
Lighthouse of the Big Bend
Fall 2012 Newsletter

In this issue:
1. Dining in the Dark: Sunday, November 4
2. THANK YOU SPONSORS!
3. Meet the Board
4. Mobility 101: Asking for, Accepting or Refusing Assistance
5. NFB White Cane Event 10/20, 10am-1pm
6. Top Ten Reasons to Dine in the Dark
7. DINING IN THE DARK RESERVATION CARD
8. Lighthouse Fall Classes 2012
9. About the Lighthouse

1. Dining in the Dark: Sunday, November 4

You are invited to the 8th Annual Paula Bailey “Dining in the Dark” benefit to assist children & adults who are blind/visually impaired. This year’s benefit will take place on Sunday, November 4, 2012, 5:30-8:30pm, at the University Center Club. At this unique event you will experience food, drink and conversation as you may never have before – without your sight. In pitch black darkness your other senses are stimulated to savor the smell, taste and texture of your dining experience. Conversation becomes more intimate. And ultimately, it is the Lighthouse’s hope that this event will expand your understanding of what individuals who are blind experience throughout their lives.

There is a reception before dinner with Honorary Host Representative Alan Williams. The ever-popular popular basket raffle is back. The Leon County Sheriff’s Office SWAT Team will once again wait on you with their night vision goggles. We have an exciting new menu and tactile ‘tic tac toe’ to play in the dark between courses. After dinner the Paula Bailey Inspirational Community Member Award will be presented by Representative Williams.

Tickets to the event (or a scholarship for someone who can’t afford to come) are $60 each. Buy a reserved table for eight for $600, or a table for ten for $700. Just send a check payable to the Lighthouse to 3071 Highland Oaks Terrace, Tallahassee, FL 32301. To donate by credit card or PayPal visit www.lighthousebigbend.org and click on the link to “Network for Good.” Make sure under DESIGNATION you type Dining in the Dark and we will mail you your tickets.

For safety purposes, no children under age 12 permitted. If you need any other assistance, please feel free to call (850) 942-3658, or email info@lighthousebigbend.org.
Thank you for your generosity!

2. THANK YOU SPONSORS!

Tallahassee Community College
Tallahassee Democrat
Doug & Elizabeth Bailey
Franz Braatz
Glen & Sharyn Davidson
Southern Vitreoretinal Assoc.
Sundstrom, Friedman & Fumero, LLP
University Center Club

3. Meet the Board

We are excited to share that over the last year, we have added several new members to the Lighthouse Board of Directors. Below, each member has shared a little bit about their background to introduce themselves to you.

Fred F Flink, OD
I was appointed to the Board of Directors of the Lighthouse of the Big Bend last year. I spent my early youth in Green Cove Springs in North Florida, and then moved to Miami Springs in South Florida. I graduated from the University of Miami with a Bachelor’s degree in Chemistry, and then achieved a Doctorate in Optometry at the Illinois College of Optometry in Chicago. As a native Floridian, I found the winters of Chicago too cold, but became accustomed to the change of seasons. After marrying my wife, Carole, we moved to Tallahassee, which is a great place to live. I was approved to be on the Medical Advisory Board for the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles by Governor Jeb Bush, and reappointed by Governor Charlie Crist. In that position, I have to ensure the safety of our roadways by assessing whether a driver has the proper visual requirements to drive. When I find a driver too visually impaired to drive, I am acutely aware of what the loss of the privilege of driving means to that individual. Therefore, I am happy to be on the Board of the Lighthouse, which helps people who are visually impaired better adapt to their impairment, and in maintaining their productivity and independence.

Ted Judd
I became associated with the Lighthouse four years ago as a newsletter mailout volunteer. My father was battling macular degeneration, so when I was asked if I would be interested in serving on the board, I felt I had a relationship with the Lighthouse and its mission. My wife Barbara and I moved to Tallahassee from Virginia in the summer of 1990, about a year after I retired as a captain with Eastern Air Lines. Prior to that, I graduated from the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy and I’ve been an Admissions Representative for more than 25 years. Within a couple months of moving here, I was volunteering at the Junior Museum, serving as a certified court mediator, and was one of the founding members of TPD’s Citizens’ Handicap Parking Patrol where I served for 15 yrs. I am a graduate of the Senior Center’s Tallahassee Active Lifelong Leaders (TALL), Ted continued: have served as a coordinator of TALL’s Culture and Arts Day, and enjoy acting in student films and on stage. For recreation my wife and I have traveled to more than 100 countries around the world. At the present time I am a member of the Dining in the Dark Committee and Chairman of the Lighthouse Internal Committee. While I'm on the Board, I would like to see the Lighthouse expand by 100%, increase fund raising and promote public awareness of the existence and mission of the Lighthouse of the Big Bend.

Jada Michael
I am proud to have been asked to serve on the Lighthouse’s Board of Directors. I was born in Tallahassee, graduated from Leon High School and FAMU, and worked in Human and Social Services for the State of Florida. As an adult, I became blind as a result of a brain tumor which irreparably damaged my optic nerves and caused me to lose my sense of smell. The tumor also caused me some memory loss, so I don’t remember how I became a client of the Lighthouse, but I’m glad I did. The staff helped me through the stages of grief for the loss of my vision. They encouraged me to move from denial to acceptance to thriving while living with no vision. I have also volunteered and had a work experience with the Lighthouse. Last year was my family’s first time attending Dining in the Dark. The best part of the evening was that my family finally got it! The event allowed them to ask questions about things they never thought of before. As a Board member, I am looking forward to helping the Lighthouse serve the visually impaired in our community. I plan to advocate for the blind and visually impaired beyond my service on the Board of Directors. By telling my story, and living life to its fullest, I hope to be a testimony to all that the Lighthouse can offer. Hopefully, others who are losing, or have lost their vision will be motivated to become Lighthouse clients, thus becoming prosperous members of our community.

Jon Peck
After eight years in journalism and then 26 years in state government, I started experiencing life in the private sector when I went to work as a senior account manager for Ron Sachs Communications in January 2012. The highlight of my time in state government was serving as press secretary to Governor Bob Martinez, and I also spent 15 years working for Attorneys General Bob Butterworth and Charlie Crist. I also worked as communications director for the Department of Community Affairs, Department of Elder Affairs and Florida Commission on Human Relations. None of which can compete with what really matters in my world: my incredible wife of 30 years Brenda, our three amazing sons and two daughters-in-law (with another on the way) and three wonderful grandchildren. In my view of the world, everything in life can find an analogy in either baseball or the Beatles. My service on the Board is an outgrowth of my decades-long interest in public service and my 92-year-old mother’s experience with macular degeneration, which stole her ability to read the books that were her passion. I hope to use my time on the Board to play some small role helping others deal with the challenges of vision loss.

4. Mobility 101: Asking for, Accepting or Refusing Assistance

Most of us, whether sighted or visually impaired, sometimes need to rely on others for information or assistance. For example, we may ask directions to a new friend’s home, the location of restrooms when in an unfamiliar building, or we may follow a hostess to a table at a restaurant. This is the typical give and take of our society. For people with visual impairments, the additional details and techniques listed below may prove helpful in making the experience a pleasant and non-frustrating one.

1. State your objective and ask for what you need. Once you’ve gotten someone’s attention, explain what you’re trying to do and ask for what you need. An example while in the mall could be, “I’m trying to get to the food court. How do I get there from here?”

2. Check your understanding. Verify your understanding of the information provided by repeating the directions or the information. Sometimes people get their “right” and “left” mixed up when explaining to others, so clarify things by pointing or making a gesture in the stated direction can be helpful. Then you can go it on your own.

3. You have options when you say yes. If someone offers to take you and you agree, you can do several things. You could ask the person to accompany you and provide verbal information while you independently use your chosen mobility device. Or you could use the sighted guide technique. This technique involves holding the guide’s arm above the elbow, standing to their side and a step behind, and following their movements. You are in control, and can let go of their arm if needed.

4. You can say no. Occasionally, people can be overly enthusiastic in helping or they may simply be uninformed. They may grab your cane and try to pull you along, physically manipulate you by grasping your shoulders and turning you in the desired direction, or they may grab your arm and push you ahead of them. These approaches are certainly an invasion of your personal space and can be unsafe, too.

Your first line of defense against these approaches is verbal. Refuse and then redirect. Say, “no” or “wait” and then instruct the person in what to do, “Let me hold your arm.”

Most people are well intentioned but some may be insistent. If someone refuses to let go of your arm and is trying to push you along, your second line of defense is physical. Stand still while they’re moving - dead weight is usually hard to move. If they won’t let go of your arm, try this maneuver. While keeping your feet stationary, raise the grasped arm towards your opposite shoulder. Twist your upper torso and arm away from the person and shift your weight to the foot opposite the grasped arm. If needed, grasp the person’s wrist with your free hand and pull it forward, breaking the grip.

Another option is to bend your elbow, bring your arm forward and rotate it backward until it passes your head. This will usually break the grip, too. If you choose to pursue assistance from this person, you are usually now in a position to take their arm.
5. Appreciation. After you are to your destination, remember to say, “thank you.” The person who helped you will know they are appreciated and will be more likely to help others in the future. They may also have just learned a new skill from you!

As always, the Lighthouse’s Orientation & Mobility Specialists will be happy to answer any questions you may have at (850)942-3658.

5. NFB White Cane Event 10/20, 10am-1pm

On October 20th the Tallahassee Chapter of the National Federation of the Blind will hold a White Cane Event to bring awareness to the White Cane Law which is a statewide law protecting the blind and visually impaired pedestrians . We will have an information table in front of Gold's Gym on Apalachee Parkway from 10am to 1pm We will also have blind and visually impaired persons crossing the street at the corner of Apalachee Parkway and Magnolia Dr. So come on out learn about the White Cane Law, and about the National Federation of the Blind changing what it means to be blind. For more information contact Toni King at 850-443-3991.

6. Top Ten Reasons to Dine in the Dark

10. You have the chance to be in "someone else's shoes" for a night.
9. Meet some really cool people based on their voice first.
8. The SWAT Team rocks with their night vision goggles!
7. You will be more aware of your sense of hearing, touch & taste.
6. You don’t have to worry about table manners.
5. Mystery meat takes on a whole new meaning.
4. You may get surprised by eating a forkful of air.
3. You can play with your food without anyone knowing.
2. No one will stare at you if you do something embarrassing.
1. In the future, you will be better able to empathize with and assist others who never get to "turn the lights back on."

7. DINING IN THE DARK RESERVATION CARD

YES! I'd like to support the Lighthouse in raising awareness & funds to assist people who are visually impaired or blind!
Sunday, November 4, 2012
University Center Club
FSU Stadium Building B
4pm Doors Open
4:30pm Reception, 1st Floor - Basket Raffle, Cash Bar & Training on “How to Walk, Sit & Eat in the Dark”
5:30pm Dinner, 3rd Floor Ballroom (Served by the Leon County Sheriff’s Office SWAT Team!)
8pm Raffle Drawing & Award Ceremony

___ $60 Individual Ticket(s) #:__________
___ $60 Scholarship Ticket(s) #:_________
___ $100 a la carte Angel Sponsor (donation)
___ $600 Table of Eight
___ $700 Table of Ten
___ $1,000 Silver Spoon (plus table of eight)
___ $2,500 Gold Goblet (plus table of eight)
___ $5,000 Platinum Platter (plus table of eight)
___ $10,000 Diamond Dining (plus table of eight)
___ I'd like to donate a gift certificate to go in a raffle basket

Your Name:
Address:
City, State & Zip:
Phone:
Email:

Mail to: Lighthouse, 3071 Highland Oaks Terrace, Tallahassee, FL 32301
- OR -
Pay online: http://www.lighthousebigbend.org Questions? 942-3658

8. Lighthouse Fall Classes 2012

Braille Class: 1st and 3rd Thursday, 10am-1pm
i-devices Technology Class: 2nd & 4th Tuesday, 3-6pm
Independent Living Class: 1st & 3rd Tuesday, 10am-3pm
Orientation and Mobility 101: Wednesdays, 10-11:30am
Quarterly O&M with Dog Guides: Saturday, January 19
Strategies for Coping with Vision Loss Group: 1st Wednesday, 1-3pm
Transition Groups: Every afternoon, varies by county
Way to Work, Strategies for Employment Group: 2nd & 4th Wednesdays, 10am-12pm

9. About the Lighthouse

Lighthouse of the Big Bend provides free services to individuals who are visually impaired or blind in Franklin, Gadsden, Hamilton, Jefferson, Lafayette, Leon, Liberty, Madison, Suwannee, Taylor & Wakulla Counties.

Address: 3071 Highland Oaks Terrace
Phone: 850-942-3658
Toll-free: 1-888-827-6063
Fax: 850-942-4518
Email: info@lighthousebigbend.org
Website: http://www.lighthousebigbend.org

Lighthouse Board of Directors
President: Evelyn Sewell
Vice President: Fred Sanguiliano
Treasurer: Lynda Breen
Secretary: Jamie Ito
Members:
Sam Atwood
Fred F Flink, OD
Ted Judd
Jada Michael
Sila Miller
Jon Peck

Lighthouse Staff
Assistant Director: Evelyn Worley
Assistive Technology: Elizabeth Bowden
Early Intervention: Jennifer Crowder, Sharon Scherbarth
Executive Director: Barbara Ross
Independent Living: Jeanine Kane, Toni King, Julia Kamm-Cohen
Office Manager: Simone Cunningham
Specialist Assistant: Mike Worley
Transition: Amanda Kan, Amanda Bernath
Vocational Services: Wayne Warner Eva McElvy

FREE SERVICES: Do you know someone in your life who might benefit from services? We’d love to help. It’s easy—just call 942-3658 or email info@lighthousebigbend.org




As We See It
Summer 2012
Lighthouse Newsletter
Technology Edition

In this Issue:
1. I-What? I-Devices Improve Accessibility
2. Unexpectedly Awesome: Dining in the Dark
3. Five Helpful iPad Apps (Applications)
4. Mobility & Technology 101: Accessible Pedestrian Signals
5. Top Ten Ways Technology Has Increased Accessibility for the Blind
6. Upcoming Summer Events
7. Lighthouse Summer Classes 2012

1. I-What? I-Devices Improve Accessibility

During the past two years, technological changes have greatly expanded possibilities for visually impaired persons with the development of devices such as the iPad, iPod, and iPhone. These “i-devices” can fit in your pocket or a small bag, and can be used to perform a variety of tasks. In the past such tasks required separate gadgets. I-devices make it easier to complete many tasks using just one gadget. One innovation is that for any “i-devices” to be made accessible, software does not need to be separately purchased and loaded on to the unit, making it much easier for a blind or visually impaired person to use their new gadget immediately.

Accessibility comes in the form of print enlargement or speech output from a screen reader called Voiceover. Often you can have these options set up at the store where you buy the item with little effort on the part of the sales representative. Applications for all kinds of activities or services are being developed every day, making access to them better than ever for the person with a visual impairment. A standard Bluetooth keyboard obtained on line or from the Apple store makes screen navigation more efficient, as keyboard commands can be used on this device as well. If someone wants to purchase a Braille device to enhance the experience, many can be purchased at less than half the cost of a standard proprietary Braille note taking device.

Let’s examine a day in the life of an iPhone user. An iPhone alarm wakes you up and tells you the time. You check the weather and your iPhone tells you that there is supposed to rain. The bus breaks down on your way to work, so you tell the phone to “call work” & let them know. While you’re waiting, you can surf the internet, access the radio, find a podcast or read an audible book. At work, you use your reminder list to stay on task. After work, you go grocery shopping and use the digit-eyes application to identify items you want to purchase. You call a cab to go home using the contacts in your phone. When you get in the cab, you use a GPS application to check your location and the money reader to check the $20 bill to pay the cab. While cooking dinner, you use the timer on the phone to remind you when to check your food. The phone notifies you of some email messages, and you use an application to pay some bills. Finally able to relax, you use the Comcast application on the phone to look up a TV show to watch.

These are just a few of the tasks that can be completed using an iPhone or other Apple devices. Interested? The Lighthouse will offer an i-devices class starting July 10th, from 3-6pm on the 2nd & 4th Tuesday of each month. Questions? Call Elizabeth Bowden at (850)942-3658 or email ebowden@lighthousebigbend.org.

2. Unexpectedly Awesome: Dining in the Dark
By Austin Davidson

To be honest, the first time I attended Dining in the Dark, I had pretty low expectations. I figured we'd eat dinner in a room with all the lights off, and I’d still be able to see, of course. I didn't think it would be all that different from any other boring fundraiser dinner, and I really wanted to just hurry up and get it over with so I could score the brownie points from my mom and move on.

To my surprise, the evening proved to be opposite of nearly all my assumptions and is now an event that I look forward to each year. Simply put, Dining in the Dark is a wonderfully executed glimpse into what it's like to be completely blind. The real fun starts when it's time for your party to be seated. After stepping out of the elevator, you and your friends will be lined up single-file and guided to your table by, yes, a blind person! It seems odd until you start to make your way into the dining room, where you realize that they have somehow managed to block out any trace of light, so a sighted person would be pretty useless. It is pitch-black like you've never experienced before. You literally can't see a hand waved in front of your face much less the table setting (or anything else for that matter).

As the dining room fills up, boisterous laughter and conversation fills the room, as first-time guests realize the evening is more than they signed up for. It is impossible to describe, but I will toss out a few highlights that I think are fun and unexpected. First, your wait staff is none other than the Leon County Sheriff’s Office SWAT team, equipped with night-vision goggles. Second, I challenge you to accurately guess what you eat over the course of the evening. You'd think that your tongue would do a pretty good job of identify what's on your plate, but not knowing what you're eating really throws things off. At my table, we were pretty embarrassed at some of our guesses after the lights were turned on and we could see again. Third, don't expect your eyes to "adjust." At no point during the evening will you regain vision; you're in a world of pitch black until the lights are restored.

There's also a more serious side to the evening. It can be difficult to put yourself in another person's shoes, especially when it comes to things like "what it's like to be blind." Sure, you may think that you can imagine what a blind person goes through, but I promise, it will impress upon you a mountain of respect and wonder for those who navigate the world in darkness, adapting so well that we forget how hard it must be for them. For me, it helped me to understand something I've been exposed to all my life (my grandmother is blind), but had never felt connected to in a meaningful way. It showed me the challenges of being blind first-hand, and it made me sincerely appreciate organizations like the Lighthouse that help people adapt to life without vision. I can't recommend the evening enough; you will be entertained and educated in ways that are sure to surprise you, and if you're like me, you'll leave the event saying to yourself, "What an awesome experience that was! I can't wait to bring some friends to try it out next year..." Join us November 4, 2012 for this year’s event!

3. Five Helpful iPad Apps (Applications)
By Lynn Evans

Since Apple has increased accessibility, if you have an iPad or an iPhone, what can you do with it? Here are just a few examples:
I Blink Radio: I chose this one to keep folks updated on the latest technology. It is from Serotek and it’s free.
I Say: This is a scanner that will read text such as a restaurant menu once you take its picture. And hey - this one is free.
Look Tell Money Identifier: This app will recognize any denomination of bills provided you have any bills left over after buying all these apps—this one costs $1.99.
The Big Clock: Turn your iPhone or IPad into a huge digital clock with day and date display for 99 cents.
Navigon Mobile Navigator: At $44 this should do everything you expect a GPS app to do. It will get you there and get you back home.
For more information about the above apps go to the link below: http://tinyurl.com/6pqeoh6

4. Mobility & Technology 101: Accessible Pedestrian Signals

From buzzers and bells to cuckoos and chirps, accessible pedestrian signals have come a long way over the years. You may still find some of all these types in Florida. However, the standard for newly installed accessible pedestrian signals (APS) includes several valuable features that help solve old problems, listed below.

Pushbutton Locator Tone
The exact location of pedestrian signal poles is inconsistent from intersection to intersection throughout the city. So, locating the pole and pushbutton with little or no vision can be a challenge. Under the new standard, the button has a locator tone which sounds repeatedly every second during the non-walk phase of the signal. This can help one find the pole and pushbutton when approaching the intersection.

Tactile Arrows
Determining which button to push to get the signal for the desired street can also be difficult. Until now, this information was often not provided for sighted pedestrians, and even less often in an accessible format for those with vision impairments. The new standard is that each signal has a raised arrow pointing in the direction of the crossing. This will either be located on the pushbutton itself or on a sign near the button.

Audible Walk Indicators
For the past several years, the cuckoo and chirp sounds have been used to indicate the walk phase of the signal. Research has shown that people have difficulty remembering which sound is associated with which direction or street (ex: cuckoo for north/south crossings). These sounds may also be confused with the calls of real birds in the area. The sound of the new standard is an unmistakable, rapid ticking sound (think machine gun!). The ticking sound continues throughout the walk phase. The sound may alternate with a verbal message of “walk.” If you are touching the button at the beginning of the walk phase, you may also feel a vibration. (This vibrotactile feature can be helpful for someone with a hearing impairment.)

Additional features to the new signals may also include the volume adjusting automatically to the loudness of the surroundings, a countdown of remaining seconds for the crossing, and informational messages such as the cardinal direction of travel or the name of the street to be crossed. (The last two may be activated by holding the button down for several seconds.) As with the old style signals, the new signals are tied into whatever information the existing visual pedestrian signal provides. Examples of the new APS standard are currently in use in Tallahassee at the following intersections: Park Ave. and Capital Circle SE, Governor’s Square Blvd. and Reece Park Rd., and Tennessee St. and Monroe St. More are scheduled to be installed, especially at some busy intersections that serve as bus transfer points.

A few words of caution: The information provided by the APS is meant to supplement, not replace, traffic cues. It is still important to familiarize yourself with the intersection, to use standard alignment techniques, and to pay attention to the traffic before crossing.

For more detailed information about accessible pedestrian signals go to www.acb.org/node/617 or www.apsguide.org . As always, the Lighthouse’s Orientation and Mobility Specialists will also be happy to answer your questions at (850)942-3658.

5. Top Ten Ways Technology Has Increased Accessibility for the Blind

10. Devices can now identify money or color. ~ Carolyn Lapp
9. Online banking and bill paying eliminate the need to write checks or address envelopes. ~ Lois Butterfield
8. Talking glucose meters enable blood sugar level checks and determine how much insulin to take . ~ Lynda Jones
7. You can find almost any appliance that talks... even things you’d rather not hear, such as a talking scale! ~ Jeanine Kane
6. Portable software programs can make any computer accessible ~ Carolyn Lapp
5. Almost everything can be ordered online and delivered to your front door. ~ Wayne Warner
4. Talking GPS programs make it possible to easily find destinations—you may never get lost again! ~Lois Butter field
3. Bar code scanners can be used to scan products, get info on the item and comparison shop. ~ Carolyn Lapp
2. You carry more power and access to information in your pocket now than a room-sized computer in years past. ~ Wayne Warner
1. Email and texting greatly expands communication and frees many from the use of printed documents. ~ Elizabeth Bowden

6. Upcoming Summer Events

New Tech Class Begins July 10th: I-Devices
Recent changes in technology have made many devices produced by Apple accessible to the blind and visually impaired without the purchase of separate adaptive software. Such devices can be daunting, due to the nature of the touch screen and differences between Microsoft versus Apple operating systems. A new training will teach how to use the iPhone, iPad and iPod at the Lighthouse on the 2nd & 4th Tuesdays of each month from 3:00 to 6:00 p.m. Interested? Please contact Elizabeth Bowden, AT Specialist at 942-3658 ext 214 or ebowden@lighthousebigbend.org .

Freedom Scientific Demo Day: July 11
You are invited to the Lighthouse on July 11th for a demonstration of equipment from Freedom Scientific.. From 9am– noon, come learn more about low vision technology. Afternoon sessions from 12:30-3pm include technology solutions for the blind. A Door Prize Drawing for a free RUBY Handheld Video Magnifier. The schedule is below:
9:00 AM Event begins
9:30 AM Video magnifiers including RUBY, ONYX, and TOPAZ
11:00 MAGic magnification software for the PC
11:30 SARA (Scanning And Reading Appliance) as a low vision tool
12:00 Complimentary Lunch
12:30 Scanning and reading with the PEARL camera and OpenBook
1:45 Screen Reading with JAWS and FOCU Braille Displays
3:00pm Conclusion of the event
Register for this event with Charlie Madsen by phone: 1-800-336-5658, by e-mail: seminars@FreedomScientific.com, or online: www.FreedomScientific.com/Seminars
The event is free and a complimentary lunch is included.

Dog Guide Group Outing: July 21 Cook Out!
Do you have a dog guide or want one? Join the Quarterly Dog Guide Group! Last quarter was a trip to the Tallahassee Museum, and on July 21, Sila and Robert are hosting a cookout. If you are interested, please contact Evelyn Worley, Orientation & Mobility Specialist at 942-3658 x 203 or eworley@lighthousebigbend.org .

Introduction to Independent Living Class Aug. 21, 10am-1pm
This class is an opportunity to learn all you ever wanted to know about resources, adaptive aids, and techniques for coping with vision loss. You even get to make your own lunch. The introduction to the class is 8/21 and the class runs from September through December, 1st and 3rd Tuesdays, 10am-3pm. If you are interested please contact Jeanine Kane, CVRT at 942-3658 x 215 or jkane@lighthousebigbend.org .

7. Lighthouse Summer Classes 2012
Braille Class: Every Wednesday, 11:30am-2pm
Diabetes Group: 3rd Thursday, 10am-12pm
i-devices Technology Class: 2nd & 4th Tuesday, 3-6pm
Independent Living Class Introduction: August 21, 10am-1pm
Orientation and Mobility 101: (Tentative) Wednesdays, 10-11:30am
Quarterly O&M with Dog Guides: July 21, Cook Out
Strategies for Coping with Vision Loss Group: 1st Wednesday, 1-3pm
Transition Summer Program 2012: June 11th— August 3rd, Monday through Thursday, 9am-3pm
Way to Work, Strategies for Employment Group: 2nd & 4th Wednesdays, 10am-12pm






AS WE SEE IT
Lighthouse of the Big Bend
Spring 2012 Newsletter
Early Intervention Edition

In this issue:
1. Lighthouse Awarded Extreme Makeover!
2. Learning to Work with Blind Babies: FSU’s Program in Visual Disabilities
3. Mobility 101: How Do Blind Babies Learn to Walk?
4.Eleven Ways to Detect Vision Loss in Infants and Toddlers
5. New Way to Help: Toner & Phone Recycling Program = Training Supplies!
6. Free SportsAblity Fun: Thursday to Saturday, April 12-14
7. Dog Guide Group Outing: Saturday, April 21
8. Lighthouse 2nd Annual Techno Demo: Friday, April 29, 1-6pm and Saturday, April 28, 9am-3pm
9. 2012 Lighthouse Classes & Events
10. Frequently Called Numbers
11. Helpful Websites
12. About the Lighthouse


1. Lighthouse Awarded Extreme Makeover!
We are delighted to share that the Lighthouse was one of four agencies that the United Way of the Big Bend’s Young Philanthropist’s Circle awarded with an “Extreme Makeover” grant.

On Saturday, February 18, a group of Access Tallahassee United Way volunteers descended upon the Lighthouse to makeover our Early Intervention classroom for blind and visually impaired toddlers! Access Tallahassee not only supplied the free labor—the United Way bought and delivered all the materials that were needed, as well. What a luxury!

The makeover began with the entire room being painted with bright blue semi-gloss to be able to wipe off smudges from little fingers—the existing flat paint was in sad shape despite our best efforts. Special magnetic paint was added to the bottom half of one wall for children to play with large alphabet magnets, to learn the shape of letters. On a different wall chalkboard paint was added to the bottom half for kids to draw with chalk, learn and play. To complete the surface re-finishing, a colorful area rug was rolled out to cover the indoor-outdoor carpeting that had been harsh for little knees to crawl on.

As you can imagine, learning to move around and explore the world when you are little and can’t see is a challenge. In a world with only adult-size furniture, it is just about impossible. Therefore, for the first time the Extreme Makeover grant allowed the room to be outfitted with child-sized tables and chairs, the type you see in preschools.

Thank you, United Way of the Big Bend, Access Tallahassee, and two other donors who gave cash to add a few extra special additions—our early intervention families are already benefitting!


2. Learning to Work with Blind Babies: FSU’s Program in Visual Disabilities
The faculty in the Visual Disabilities program at Florida State University joins the Lighthouse in celebrating the makeover of their Early Intervention classroom! The Lighthouse’s long-standing commitment to early intervention is an investment in the future of the children and families who are served by this important program. When children with visual impairments and their families receive early intervention services, those children are more likely to start school with a foundation in the motor, language, social, and conceptual skills that are key to school—and life—success.

FSU is proud that many Lighthouse staff members in Tallahassee and across the state are graduates of our program. Started in 1963, the Visual Disabilities program works to ensure that Floridians of all ages with low vision and blindness will have teachers, orientation and mobility specialists, and rehabilitation therapists who have the knowledge and skills to rehabilitate individuals with visual impairments.

The Teachers of the Visually Impaired (TVI) program teaches students to focus on the “whole” child and to meet students’ needs across the spectrum of developmental areas, often referred to as the Expanded Core Curriculum. TVI students learn how to facilitate student success in school, and also to teach life skills such as basic orientation and mobility, social, career, independent living, recreation and leisure, sensory efficiency, assistive technology, and self-determination. FSU also prepares O&M (orientation and mobility) Specialists to teach those who are blind how to travel independently. This program requires that students spend time under a blindfold to learn how to travel without sight.

Both the Florida Department of Education and the Division of Blind Services have provided financial support to the FSU Visual Disabilities Program over the years. The cost of tuition and other college-related expenses are often reduced through grants from these agencies, as well as from the U.S. Department of Education, making this an affordable major, one for which there are many job opportunities after graduation.

The Visual Disabilities Program is housed in the School of Teacher Education at FSU. Two tenured faculty members, Amy Guerette and Sandy Lewis, provide instruction and coordinate the activities of the program with the support of a full-time grant-supported (thanks to the Florida Department of Education!) instructor, Mickey Damelio. Our efforts are supported by many Lighthouse employees who teach courses for us and provide our students with practicum and internship experiences. In addition, our students often benefit from being able to work directly in the homes of families from the community. We are grateful for this help in preparing the next generation of educational specialists in this field.

For more information about the FSU’s Visual Disability Program, please contact Sandy Lewis at 850-644-8409 or at slewis@fsu.edu .


3. Mobility 101: How Do Blind Babies Learn to Walk?
When thinking about getting babies who are blind or visually impaired to move on their own, first you have to consider how to create the desire to move in the child. For babies who are blind, crawling and walking are not instinctual and are not motivating in and of themselves.

Children with normal vision see their family members moving around their environment. Baby sister wants to keep up with her big brother who is running around the yard. Hence, this sight can create the intrinsic motivation to pull up on furniture and try to walk after her brother to keep up – thus developing independent mobility.

A baby who is blind or visually impaired literally does not see her caregivers or siblings moving about. Therefore, the family needs to be introduced to strategies to encourage their baby's early movement. Babies need to feel safe and secure with their caregivers and within their environment before they will be willing to move.

Motivating babies with visual impairments can be accomplished through use of toys that have audible, tactile, or (for babies with a little vision) light emitting features. Once a baby is aware of the fun and interesting toys around them, they are more likely to reach out and grab them. Using a toy with an audible feature will help the baby figure out where the toy is and move towards it. Using light-up toys for babies with some vision can encourage them to hold their head up and look. Using specific toys that a baby has shown interest in will make the task of encouraging movement a bit easier.

The baby's relationship with her caregivers is also motivating. For example, Mom can be sitting a few feet away from her baby and encourage the baby to come to her with her voice. The baby will scoot or crawl to get to Mom. The same is true for baby’s first steps. Once the baby is standing, Mom can move a couple of steps away and encourage her to walk to her. If Mom has her arms stretched out, it is an even shorter trip. When the baby reaches Mom by crawling or walking, she can get a hug or a tickle or another physical reward to reinforce the skill.

As the baby grows and develops the foundation skills of movement, safe movement within their environment needs to be addressed. When the child begins to take a few steps at a time and independently maintain their balance, beginner mobility devices can be introduced. Things as simple as a play grocery cart or lawn mower that is pushed with the child walking behind can be used to introduce beginning travel and cane skills. The child can learn to use the toy as a warning of environmental obstacles like drop-offs and changes in terrain.

As the child learns to react to the information from the push toy and walks with more stability, a more traditional pre-cane can be introduced. Pre-canes are usually made from PVC pipe and look similar to a large rectangle. The child holds onto the pre-cane with two hands and pushes it ahead of them. The pre-cane is a little bit wider than the child's body. After the child masters the use of the pre-cane, she can begin her instruction in using a straight white cane, just as adults use. The straight cane is the traditional mobility cane which is white with a red tip. The mobility cane is the tool that will follow the little one throughout their lifetime.

Orientation and mobility for infants and toddlers is essential. Building a child's self-confidence and independence through these skills will help them grow to be successful adults.

4. Eleven Ways to Detect Vision Loss in Infants and Toddlers
11. No eye contact by about 3 months.
10. Not able to focus vision or follow by about 3 months.
9. Eyes don’t move together by about 4 months.
8. Can’t accurately reach for objects by about 6 months.
7. Horizontal or vertical rapid eye movements.
6. No clear black pupil (hazy cornea or whitish pupil.)
5. Continual tears when the baby is not crying.
4. Reacts to bright light with great discomfort.
3. Constant redness of the white area of eyes.
2. Eyelid that sags and blocks the pupil.
1. Difference in the shape, size or structure of the eyes.
Disclaimer: This should not be construed to be medical advice. If a baby has several of these problems, it’s recommended that she or he see an eye-care physician and contact the Lighthouse at phone: (850) 942-3658, toll-free: (888) 827-6033, email: info@lighthousebigbend.org or web: http://www.lighthousebigbend.org.


5. New Way to Help: Toner & Phone Recycling Program = Training Supplies!
As you probably know, nonprofit organizations across the country have been dealing with huge budget cuts. The Lighthouse is thrilled that we’ve found a way to supplement our (much appreciated) funding from the Division of Blind Services to get free supplies for our Blind Babies program!

The Lighthouse of the Big Bend has just become involved in the Funding Factory Recycling Program. This fundraiser is FREE and simple because there’s nothing to sell, no paperwork to fill out and no deadlines. The program runs year-round, accumulating constant income for our efforts. But we won’t get very far without your support.
How can you help? Instead of throwing away your empty printer cartridges, old cell phones, small electronics and laptops, donate them to the Lighthouse! See below for specifics. We have a collection box located in our office at 3071 Highland Oaks Terrace, Tallahassee, FL 32301.

If your whole organization or business wants to help, we can sign you up for the Business Support Program which includes displays for your office and free shipping labels to mail items in on our behalf. We are also happy to come pick items up from you.

Last year alone, more than 300 million cartridges were thrown away, while 30,000,000 cell phones were tossed or replaced. We’re alleviating the volume of waste that goes into landfills while collecting points for products we need.

Your help is vital to our fundraising success. If you have any questions about this great opportunity, please feel free to call Simone or Jennifer at 850 942-3658 or email us at scunningham@lighthousebigbend.org, jcrowder@lighthousebigbend.org.

Products and/or Brands You Can Donate to Recycle:
Apple, Blackberry, Brother, Cannon, Casio, Dell, Digital cameras (all), GPS devices (all), HP, HTC, IBM, Laptops (all), Lexmark, LG, Motorola, MP3 players (all) Nextel, Nokia, Palm, Panasonic, Pantech, Samsung, Sanyo, Sony, Xerox and more.
THANK YOU for the SUPPORT!


6. Free SportsAblity Fun: Thursday to Saturday, April 12-14
You are invited to the SportsAbility event put on by the Florida Disabled Outdoors Association (FDAO), which is for people of all abilities, their families and friends.
• Thursday, April 12, 2012, 6 - 8PM: Baseball at Miracle Field
• Friday, April 13, 2012, 10AM - 3PM: Indoor Recreation and Disability Resource EXPO at TCC Lifetime Sports Complex
• Saturday, April 14, 2012, 10AM - 3PM: SportsAbility Outdoor Recreation, Music, Food and Fun at Ochlockonee River State Park. Free shuttle on Saturday from CK Steele Plaza: Pickup: 9:00 & 10:00 AM / Return: 3:00 & 4:00 PM
For more information, sponsorship opportunities or to reserve a booth, contact the Florida Disabled Outdoors Association at info@fdoa.org or 850-201-2944 or go to http://www.fdoa.org.


7. Dog Guide Group Outing: Saturday, April 21
If you have a dog guide or are interested in learning more about them, please join our group as we journey to the Tallahassee Museum (aka the Junior Museum for those who have lived here awhile). Please contact Evelyn for more details: (850) 942-3658 x 203 or eworley@lighthousebigbend.org .


8. Lighthouse 2nd Annual Techno Demo: Friday, April 29, 1-6pm and Saturday, April 28, 9am-3pm
Numerous vendors will demonstrate all the newest technology both inside the building and outside under our tents. There will be adaptive computer programs, CCTV-type devices, and all kinds of nifty technology. We also plan to show several types of the new smart phones and the different accessibility features. There are many new phone apps that are free and accessible!

A speaker from Social Security will be giving a talk on the work incentive program on Friday for those who have questions about SSI or SSDI and employment. The Techno Demo event is free and open to anyone interested in learning about adaptive technology and resources for persons who are visually impaired or blind. For more info call Jeanine or Elizabeth at (850) 942-3658 or info@lighthousebigbend.org .


9. 2012 Lighthouse Classes & Events
Braille Class: Every Thursday 10:30am-2pm
Independent Living Class: 1st & 3rd Wednesday, 11am-3pm
Quarterly O&M with Dog Guides: April 21, Tallahassee Museum
Strategies for Coping with Vision Loss Group: 1st Wednesday, 1-3pm
Technology Forum: 4th Thursday, 3-6pm
Transition Program: Mon, Tues, Wed, Thurs. & Saturday afternoons (please see calendar for specific times and counties)
Transition Summer Program 2012: June 11th— August 3rd
Way to Work, Strategies for Employment Group: 2nd & 4th Wednesdays, 10am-12pm


10. Frequently Called Numbers
211 Big Bend (24 hours) 211
Big Bend Transit 574-6064
DBS 245-0370; 1(800)672-7038
Dial-A-Ride 891-5199
Elder Care 921-5554
Insight Support Group 878-1923
Lighthouse of the Big Bend 942-3658
Magnifiers & More 671-3936
Medicaid 921-8474
Project Insight 24-hr Helpline 1-800-267-4448
Senior Center 891-4000
StarMetro 891-5200
Talking Book Library 1-800-226-6075
VA Low Vision Clinic 878-0191 ext. 2086
Yellow Cab 580-8080

11. Helpful Websites
American Foundation for the Blind — http://www.afb.org/
American Printing House for the Blind — http://www.aph.org
Blind Bargains — http://www.blindbargains.com/
Family Connect — http://www.familyconnect.org/parentsitehome.asp
Florida Braille and Talking Book Library — http://webopac.klas.com/talkingbooks/florida
Hadley School for the Blind — http://www.hadley.edu/
Lighthouse of the Big Bend — http://www.lighthousebigbend.org
National Federation of the Blind — http://www.nfb.org/nfb/Resources.asp
Self-help Resources for Vision Loss — http://www.visionaware.org/


12. About the Lighthouse
Lighthouse of the Big Bend provides free services to individuals who are visually impaired or blind in Franklin, Gadsden, Hamilton, Jefferson, Lafayette, Leon, Liberty, Madison, Suwannee, Taylor & Wakulla Counties.

Address: 3071 Highland Oaks Terrace, Tallahassee, FL 32301
Phone: 850-942-3658
Toll-free: 1-888-827-6063
Fax: 850-942-4518
Email: info@lighthousebigbend.org
Website: http://www.lighthousebigbend.org

Lighthouse Board of Directors
President: Evelyn Sewell
Vice President: Fred Sanguiliano
Treasurer: Lynda Breen
Secretary: Jamie Ito
Members:
Norris Coster
Fred Flink, OD
Ted Judd
Sila Miller
Christopher Thomas

Lighthouse Staff
Assistant Director: Evelyn Worley, ext 203
Assistive Technology: Liz Bowden, ext 214
Data Entry Specialist: Simone Cunningham, ext 213
Early Intervention: Jennifer Crowder, ext 202
EI / O&M Specialist: Sharon Scherbarth, ext 220
Executive Director: Barbara Ross, ext 201
Independent Living: Jeanine Kane, ext 215
Toni King, ext 211
Alex Crawford, ext 228
Specialist Assistant: Mike Worley, ext 204
Transition Specialists: Amanda Kan, ext 208
Angel Scruggs, ext 206
Transition / O&M Specialist: Amanda Bernath, ext 216
Vocational Services: Wayne Warner, ext 210
Eva McElvy, ext 205
Lynda Jones, ext 212

FREE SERVICES: Do you know someone in your life who might benefit from services? We’d love to help. It’s easy—just call 942-3658 or email info@lighthousebigbend.org. Thanks!




AS WE SEE IT
Lighthouse of the Big Bend
Fall/Winter 2011 Newsletter

In this issue:
1. Dining in the Dark: October 2nd
2. Top Ten Reasons to Dine in the Dark
3. Thank You Sponsors!
4. Transition Students Conquer Fears
5. The New StarMetro, Part 2
6. Tech Tip: Going Mouse-less
7. Tallahassee Council of the Blind
8. THANK YOU, Institute for Intergovernmental Research Staff
9. Lighthouse Fall 2011 Classes & Events
10. Dining in the Dark RSVP Form
11. About the Lighthouse

1. Dining in the Dark: October 2nd
In one week on Sunday, October 2, the Lighthouse is holding the 7th Annual Paula Bailey Dining in the Dark benefit at the University Center Club in Doak Campbell Stadium Building B. As of today, 9/23, we only have 31 tickets left!

At this event you will experience food, drink and conversation as you may never have before – without your sight. Unable to see in the pitch black ballroom, your other senses are stimulated to savor the smell, taste and texture of your dining experience. Conversation becomes more intimate… and a bit noisy, as apparently when sighted people can’t see, our brains tell us to speak louder.

We are thrilled to share that this year the Dining in the Dark event is supported in large part by Diamond Sponsor Tallahassee Community College, and our Honorary Host will be none other than TCC President Dr. Jim Murdaugh, on his birthday!

The benefit begins at 4:30pm with a reception, complete with cash bar and our popular raffle of fun-filled baskets. During the reception, in the first floor auditorium, a training will assist guests in learning “How to Walk, Sit Down and Eat in the Dark,” exactly the same as our clients learn in their training at the Lighthouse.

At 5pm guests are seated in the blackened ballroom—and yes, you can even gat a bib. The wonderful Leon County Sheriff’s Office SWAT Team are volunteering their time to wait on you with their night vision goggles. We have an exciting new menu of an appetizer tray, salad, entrée, and a mini dessert sampler. And for the first time, guests will get to play tactile ‘tic tac toe’ in the dark!

We have always been fortunate to sell out, so please get your tickets or a table ASAP online with a credit card or paypal at the Lighthouse donation link found at www.lighthousebigbend.org. Thank you!


2. Top Ten Reasons to Dine in the Dark
10. You will be much more aware of the taste, smell and texture of your food than when you can see it.
9. No one will stare at you if you do something embarrassing.
8. Next time the electricity goes off during a storm, eating or walking in the dark won't be such a big deal.
7. If you take two rolls and slather them with a ton of butter, no one will notice.
6. You will be pleasantly surprised by what you are eating.
5. You don’t have to worry about table manners—feel free to put your elbows on the table or eat with your hands.
4. You might get to be escorted to the restroom by a strong SWAT Team Sheriff Officer who will make sure you are well protected.
3. You may find yourself inspired by this event which is named in honor of Paula Bailey who was a remarkably inspirational woman.
2. The evening will become an interesting adventure you will share stories about for a long time.
1. In the future, you will be better able to empathize with and assist others who never get to "turn the lights back on."


3. THANK YOU SPONSORS: A huge thank you to those who have supported the event and made it possible!
Diamond: Tallahassee Community College
Silver:
Doug & Elizabeth Bailey
Leon County Sheriff Office SWAT Team
Patti Liles
Rose, Sundstrom & Bentley, LLP
Tallahassee Council of the Blind
UCC


4. Transition Students Conquer Fears
This Summer, the Lighthouse Transition students dared to try new experiences and overcame many of their fears. To share a couple of examples (with their permission) Vick had not had much experience in the water and was not very comfortable with swimming or water activities.He and the rest of the Lighthouse Transition group participated in swimming lessons and Vick worked extremely hard each week to overcome his fear of the water and build his water safety and swimming skills with the help of FSU swim instructors. Another student, Zach, conquered the diving board!Heights seem to make many people nervous, including Zack.After some of his peers experienced jumping off the high dive at the FSU Leach Center pool, Zach decided he wanted to give it a shot as well.Once he got to the top, he needed some time to decide if he really wanted to go through with it. After deliberating at the top of the high dive for about 10 minutes, Zach took hold of his fear and went for it!We are extremely proud of each and every one of you, and your accomplishments in the Transition Program.


5. The New StarMetro, Part 2
Nova2010 launched on July 11, 2011 and both novice and veteran public transportation consumers have been utilizing the new system since – some out of necessity, some out of curiosity and some with more success than others. Whether you are comfortable with the new system or still getting your bearings, below is some information that may prove useful while navigating Tallahassee on the Nova2010 bus system.

Since the launch of Nova 2010, StarMetro has implemented several changes in order to increase rider safety and ease, maintain route and transfer schedules, and accommodate increased ridership due to the beginning of the universities’ fall semester.

StarMetro initially planned for Nova2010 to only have 3 routes at the C.K. Steele Plaza downtown. They have now expanded the number of routes to 6. Current routes entering the downtown plaza are: Azalea, Big Bend, Canopy, Dogwood, Evergreen, and Forest.
Outside the plaza there are still 40+ transfer locations around the city, and there are a few different ways commuters can maneuver between routes at these locations. Customers may make transfers anywhere two or more routes intersect. StarMetro identifies 2 types of transfers: parallel and perpendicular. Parallel transfers take place where two or more routes are running in the same direction on the street, side-by-side. To transfer from one of these routes to the next, customers should simply disembark at a StarStop serving both routes, and then wait for the next bus serving the other route to arrive.

Perpendicular transfers take place where two or more routes cross over each other's path. To make this type of transfer, travelers have 2 options. One is to cross the road toward the direction s/he is traveling. The other, new option is for travelers to continue walking towards the intersection after disembarking the bus, and follow the sidewalk around the corner to locate the intersecting route’s StarStop location. This change was decided upon as it was noticed that many riders were making hurried, unsafe crossings at intersections in order to catch their connecting bus. The new StarStops all have an information blade depicting which particular routes serve that particular stop. Each StarStop also features an octagonal pole, to allow tactile discrimination between StarStops and other informational poles. Each StarStop will soon feature a Braille informational placard, as well.

Two new resources that are available on the StarMetro website (http://talgov.com/starmetro) include a text file Ride Guide and a Trip Planner tool. The text file allows visually impaired consumers to access route and schedule information via screen reader. The trip planner tool allows travelers to enter various pieces of information about a desired trip (starting point & destination addresses and date & time to begin or end travel), and provides a description of different options for reaching the desired destination.
Public transit users can also take advantage of another resource through Commuter Services of North Florida. If you ride StarMetro, the Gadsden Express, carpool, vanpool, bike, and/or walk to work at least 3 days per week, you qualify for Commuter Services of North Florida’s free Emergency Ride Home Program. This program provides you with a free taxi ride home when emergencies arise. For more information see www.commuterservices.org.

For more information on the new Nova2010 system, contact StarMetro at 891-5200, and press 1 for ‘Route and Schedule Information’ during business hours. For specific mobility instruction on bus travel, street crossing, or any other travel skill, please contact one of our Certified Orientation & Mobility Specialists at 942-3658.


6. Tech Tip: Going Mouse-less
For some people, especially those with vision loss, using a mouse can be difficult. A mouse is almost impossible to use with screen reading software — and with screen enlargement software you end up moving the mouse four times more than with a standard computer screen. Therefore, it is handy to learn ways to navigate your computer without using a mouse.

One technique you can use is called first letter navigation. When you open a computer folder containing documents, your files are usually arranged in alphabetical order. If you have a large list of files, you’d need to use the mouse to scroll down until you reach files in the list that begin with (for example) the letter “W.” Instead of scrolling, you can type the letter “W.” You will then jump directly to the files in your list that begin with “W.”

To take this a step further, if you have several files in the list that begin with W and you need the second “W” file, you can press the letter “W” twice. Also, if you need to access the file “Writing” in your list of files you can press “WR” quickly, to jump directly to all the files that begin with those two letters. After you have reached the file you wanted, double click or press enter to open the file.

This technique also works in menus. In the start menu, for example, you might have “set program access and defaults” and then alphabetically next would come “settings”. To reach settings (the 2nd “S”) you would press S twice. If the item you need is the only menu item beginning with the letter, the item will be activated. For example, my start menu has “open office document” and is the only item on the menu that begins with the letter O. Pressing O opens the item, placing the curser in the file name edit field.

If you try first letter navigation, you may be surprised at how much time you save, especially if you are a file pack rat. Have other technology questions? Contact Elizabeth Bowden, Technology Instructor at 942-3658 or ebowden@lighthousebigbend.org.


7. Tallahassee Council of the Blind
Shortly following the purchase of and move to the new Lighthouse facility, Tallahassee Council of the Blind (TCB) began holding its meetings in one of the Lighthouse's conference rooms. This provided a central location, easy access to members and a comfortable, friendly space in which to meet. TCB is a local, grass-roots advocacy organization of and for people who are blind. TCB strives to improve the quality of life for people who live with a visual disability in Leon County and the surrounding areas. Major areas of focus include transportation issues, access to buildings & information, and pedestrian safety. TCB also participates in community events in order to help inform people about needs and share various techniques that are used in daily life, such as white cane travel, guide dog use and braille awareness. you'd like to find out more please call TCB President, William Benjamin at (850) 877-1512. TCB thanks the Lighthouse for opening your doors to TCB and other organizations serving people who are blind!


8. THANK YOU, Institute for Intergovernmental Research Staff
Upon hearing that the visually impaired children who the Lighthouse serves needed school supplies, the wonderful IIR staff took up a collection and delivered six boxes overflowing with everything the Lighthouse students needed. Thank you so much for your generosity!


9. Lighthouse Fall 2011 Classes & Events
Assistive Technology Seminar: Fourth Thursdays, 3-7pm
Braille Class: Every Thursday, 10:30am-2:30pm
Independent Living Class: 1st & 3rd Wednesday, 11am-3pm
Quarterly O&M with Dog Guides: October 15, 10am-2pm Lake Ella
Strategies for Vision Loss Class: First Wednesdays, 1-3pm
Technology Forum: 4th Thursday, 3-6pm
Transition Program: Mon, Tues, Wed & Th afternoons (see calendar)
Way to Work, Strategies for Employment Group: 2nd & 4th Wednesdays, 10am,-12pm
White Cane Day: Saturday, October 15, 10am-2pm, Lake Ella


10. Dining in the Dark RSVP Form
October 2, 2011 at the University Center Club
Doors Open 4pm ~ Reception 4:30pm ~ Dinner 5:30pm
With Honorary Host Dr. Jim Murdaugh, TCC President

Please join TCC in supporting the Lighthouse through Dining in the Dark! Because of your generosity, the Lighthouse is able to educate the community about blindness and assist people who have lost their vision.

To attend, please complete the following information:
Your name:
Business name:
Address:
City & State:
Zipcode:
Phone:
Email:
Website:

Choose a Sponsorship Donation Level:
___ $55 Ticket(s) #:_____
___ $55 Scholarship ticket
___ $100 Angel (donation)
___ $600 Reserved Table of 8
___ $700 Reserved Table of Ten
___ $1,000 Silver Sponsor (includes table)
___ $2,500 Gold Sponsor (includes table)
___ $5,000 Platinum Sponsor (incl table)
___ $10,000 Diamond Sponsor (incl table)

Please list the person or company to receive recognition:
CHECK ONE: ___Total enclosed: $____ ~OR~ ___I paid online
Please mail form & check to: Lighthouse of the Big Bend, 3071 Highland Oaks Terrace, Tallahassee, FL 32301
Donate online with a credit card or paypal at http://www.lighthousebigbend.org (just designate “Dining in the Dark”)
Thank you for your support!


11. About the Lighthouse
Lighthouse of the Big Bend provides free services to individuals who are visually impaired or blind in Franklin, Gadsden, Hamilton, Jefferson, Lafayette, Leon, Liberty, Madison, Suwannee, Taylor & Wakulla Counties.

NEW Address: 3071 Highland Oaks Terrace
Phone: 850-942-3658
Toll-free: 1-888-827-6063
Fax: 850-942-4518
Email: info@ lighthousebigbend.org

Lighthouse Board of Directors
President: Evelyn Sewell
Treasurer: Lynda Breen
Secretary: Jamie Ito
Members:
Norris Coster
Fred F Flink, OD
Ted Judd
Caroline Mathews
Sila Miller
Fred Sanguiliano
Christopher Thomas
Susan Whaley, OD

Lighthouse Staff
Assistant Director: Evelyn Worley, ext 203
Assistive Technology: Liz Bowden, ext 214
Data Entry Specialist: Simone Cunningham, ext 213
Early Intervention: Jennifer Crowder, ext 202
EI / O&M Specialist: Sharon Scherbarth, ext 220
Executive Director: Barbara Ross, ext 201
Independent Living: Jeanine Kane, ext 215
Toni King, ext 211
Public Awareness: Lynda Jones, ext 212
Receptionist: Lauren Moore, ext 213
Specialist Assistant: Mike Worley, 204
Transition Specialist: Amanda Kan, ext 208
Transition / O&M Specialist: Amanda Bernath x 216
Vocational Services: Wayne Warner, ext 210
Eva McElvy, ext 205




AS WE SEE IT
Lighthouse of the Big Bend
Summer 2011 Newsletter

In this issue:
1. StarMetro’s New Bus System
2. June 25: Hands Helping Anglers
3. Save the Date! Dining in the Dark: 10/2
4. My Story: Sam Copeland
5. It’s Easy—If I Did It, You Can Too!
6. What is Legal Blindness & Low Vision?
7. Tech Tip: Using the Windows Key
8. Strategies for Vision Loss Class
9. Welcome Summer Transition Students!
10. Top Ten Ways to Relieve Stress
11. Lighthouse Summer 2011 Classes & Events


1. StarMetro’s New Bus System
As you may already be aware, our Tallahassee city bus system is about to receive a major ‘make-over.’ StarMetro has announced that the new system, Nova2010, will officially be launched on July 11th – just a few short weeks away! In this article we hope you will gain a general overview of the new bus system. StarMetro has set up a Nova2010 Hotline for questions at 891-5281.

Nova2010 will decentralize our current single-transfer, downtown-oriented bus route structure by breaking apart the current routes and re-orienting them to follow a more grid-like pattern. It will create 41 new transfer options across the city. The new routes will run north/south or east/west to transport riders to their desired destinations. With only 3 routes actually entering the C.K. Steele Plaza downtown, Tallahassee’s public transportation patrons will soon be completing bus transfers at shelters and other designated transfer points around the city. One of the biggest changes will be that more walking is required for bus patrons to transfer routes. However, this should result in faster ‘A to B’ travel due to a higher frequency in service, lower travel time and more transfer options.

Per the StarMetro website (http://www.talgov.com/starmetro), the Nova2010 system will utilize 766 bus stops, 473 of which are currently being utilized in today's system. Come July, there will also be 266 new bus stops added to the mix, located along strips that are not currently served today. All of the Nova2010 bus stops currently have double-sided red and blue signs are that are posted at the designated StarStops with single-sided information plaques. Routes that are currently in use have and ‘Active’ sign attached to the pole. Each StarStop will eventually feature an octagonal pole for riders who are visually impaired, along with Braille and large print information placards.

Information included on each stop includes StarMetro’s phone number and website, in case travelers have questions during their travels. Shelters will be provided at many of these locations. StarMetro will offer a ‘Next by Text’ service where travelers can text their StarStop ID number (available on the stop signage or by contacting the StarMetro office) to 27299, in order to receive a responding text indicating the next bus arrival times for each bus serving that stop.

Another change coming with the new system is the way the various routes are identified. All routes under the current system are recognized by their numerical assignment. Nova2010 will introduce named routes that reflect some of the city’s culture and geography (Tall Timbers, Red Hills, Evergreen, San Luis, etc.). Transfers will still be free with each one-way fare purchase and will be valid for 90 minutes from the time of issue. A transfer ticket may be used for up to 2 transfers within the allotted 90-minute timeframe.

For more information on the new system, public transit users can contact StarMetro at 891-5200, and press 1 for ‘Route and Schedule Information’ during business hours. StarMetro also has a Nova2010 Hotline that can be accessed at 891-5283. Ride Guides are available online, at the C.K. Steele Plaza, or at the StarMetro offices on Appleyard Drive.

Electronic information about anticipated route coverage and timing, or stop and shelter locations can be accessed through StarMetro’s website at http://www.talgov.com/starmetro/routes2.cfm. Other ways to view information include liking StarMetro's official facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/starmetrotransit and following StarMetro's Twitter page at http://www.twitter.com/ridestarmetro.

If you need specific mobility training on the use of bus travel, please contact one of the Lighthouse’s Orientation & Mobility Specialists at 942-3658 ext. 203 or email eworley@lighthousebigbend.org.

Questions about the New Bus System? Call the StarMetro Nova2010 HOTLINE at 891-5283!


2. June 25: Hands Helping Anglers
On Saturday, June 25th, the North Florida Gulf Fishing Club and the Florida Disabled Outdoors Association (FDOA) will be holding the 18th annual Hands Helping Anglers event. Much thanks goes to the volunteers from the North Florida Gulf Fishing Club, Tallahassee Northside and Tallahassee Capital Rotary Clubs for providing this opportunity. Individuals with disabilities are invited to enjoy fishing at NO CHARGE. The event includes lunch and transportation. Individuals with disabilities can bring an assistant along for the fishing trip. The first 25 people to reserve a spot by calling (850) 201-2944 x 4 will enjoy a wonderful time of fishing. Please call!


3. Save the Date! Dining in the Dark: OCTOBER 2nd!
The Lighthouse of the Big Bend is pleased to announce that the 7th Annual Paula Bailey Dining in the Dark benefit is scheduled for Sunday, October 2nd.

We are also more than thrilled to share that this year our Honorary Host will be TCC President, Dr. Jim Murdaugh! Upon learning the date, he said, “That is my birthday and I can’t imagine a better way to spend it.” We are honored and excited to have him aboard.

Our “DID” event committee is already up and running with volunteers meeting every month. From planning the reception, to deciding the menu, to organizing the logistics of the pitch-black dining room, and making the public aware of the benefit—these volunteers are outstanding. It couldn’t happen without them.

In addition to “saving the date” in your calendar, it is never too early to reserve your table! We have always been fortunate to sell out, so if you missed the opportunity last year and would like to make sure you get to experience Dining in the Dark 2011, please contact Lynda at 942-3658 or ljones@lighthousebigbend.org.


4. My Story: Sam Copeland
My name is Sam Copeland and I am totally blind. I lost my vision due to diabetic retinopathy about four years ago. I’ve tried many eye surgeries, including laser surgery, cataract removal, and steroid shots in the eyes. First I lost sight in my right eye. The eye surgery was not successful so the doctor did everything he could for my left eye. I had low vision in that eye but after all the surgeries I lost all of my vision and can’t see any light.

When I first lost all my vision I was very angry. I couldn’t see how to turn on the stove, I couldn’t see television and my football games anymore and I couldn’t even go fishing. I was still going to the doctor, taking six to nine drops a day in both my eyes, day and night. Everything went to complete darkness and I went into depression.

I first contacted DBS three years ago but did not get signed up. Thankfully, I tried again this year and I got a response. DBS referred me to the Lighthouse and two weeks later I met Toni when she came out for a house visit. I waited two more weeks for Dial-a-Ride to approve my application and then immediately came to the Lighthouse of the Big Bend. I met Jeanine who has been my teacher for the Independent Living class and I have also started Braille class. I met Evelyn who has been teaching me mobility. Neither a thunderstorm or a hurricane could keep me from coming in to the Lighthouse for classes.

The Lighthouse of the Big Bend taught me that things I used to do with sight, I could do without sight. I never thought I’d be cooking and cleaning. I have learned how to use my sense of touch and smell. I figured out how to grocery shop by myself and stock my groceries so I know what everything is. I found out the different feel of coins in order to tell them apart. The adaptive items from DBS and the Lighthouse make it very easy for me to be more independent. With Wayne as a guide, I discovered I could actually go fishing again and have been about every weekend!

I never thought I’d be walking into the mall again myself. Amanda showed me how to identify the different stores so I wouldn’t get lost. She taught me how to maneuver up and down steps, elevators and escalators too. Through Braille class, I can now read the numbers on the elevator.

My plan is to finish Braille and take computer classes. After that I want to prepare for my Hadley GED course. And my dream is possibly, one day, to become a restaurant chef.

Thanks to the Lighthouse, DBS, and everyone I’ve met here. I’ve been inspired by the many other people I have met who are blind. Many doors have opened in my new life that I thought were closed forever.


5. It’s Easy—If I Did It, You Can Too!
In May, Lynda Breen (Board Treasurer) and I went to a fundraising workshop. We didn’t agree with the presenter; he insulted people who wasted time on special events. I wanted to stand up and tell him he was wrong because Dining in the Dark makes such a difference! I knew what he meant, though. He was trying to teach us that organizations spending all their time holding special events could be raising money more effectively through planned giving.

Lynda and I agreed that we had always thought to do planned giving we needed to understand taxes and gifts of property and have a lawyer. I learned we were wrong. It’s easy.

So we each went back to our office and called up our life insurance agent. Now, when Lynda and I eventually pass away, 95% of our life insurance will go to a loved one, and 5% will go to the Lighthouse.

It was so easy. It took 5 minutes. And if we can do it—so can you. Will you join us in donating a portion of your life insurance or retirement plan to the Lighthouse? All it takes is changing your beneficiary. It’s easy! Thanks for considering it. ~ Barbara L. Ross, Executive Director


6. What is Legal Blindness & Low Vision?
All people who are totally blind are legally blind, but all people who are legally blind are not totally blind. Confusing? Legal blindness is defined in two ways: 1) 20/200 best correction in better eye. Simply put this means the individual who is legally blind must be within 20 feet to see an object someone with normal vision sees at 200 feet. 2) A person whose peripheral vision is blocked except for a 20 degree angle in the center is legally blind. His or her vision may be 20/20 in the center, but the area is no wider than the view through a drinking straw. This is commonly called tunnel vision.

More than 75% of people who are legally blind have some usable vision, commonly called “low vision.” This vision may be blurry like looking through an extremely dirty windshield. Others may have no central vision at all, making it difficult to read without magnification, but they may be able to see to get around quite well using their peripheral vision. Still others may have splotchy vision as if something is constantly obstructing parts of their view. Some people recognize faces at a close distance and use various types of magnifiers to read and do other tasks. People with tunnel vision may recognize a friend across the room but without mobility training may stumble over a chair trying to get to the friend.

Individuals with low vision can do many tasks using their vision, but find many activities easier by following three simple tips:
1. Magnification: Some individuals find increasing the size of the print, picture, sewing machine needle, etc. through magnification increases success.
2. Contrast: Other tasks can be made easier by adding background contrast, i.e. slicing a red tomato on a white cutting board or white onion on a dark surface or playing with black dominoes on a light table cloth.
3. Lighting: For people with low vision, lighting is very important Some people need strong concentrated light while others prefer very little light depending upon their visual impairment.

For more information on low vision, please feel free to contact the Lighthouse at 942-3658 or info@lighthousebigbend.org.


7. Tech Tip: Using the Windows Key
Did you know there is a key on your keyboard that you may not have used? The Windows or Microsoft key is usually located beside the "Alt" key on either side of the keyboard.

One command you may find useful is to press the Windows key by itself. Using the windows key alone activates the start menu without having to use your mouse click the icon at the bottom of the computer screen. You can then use the up and down arrows to go through the items in the start menu quickly.

Another shortcut is to press the Windows key and “E” together, which activates the Exploration of "My Computer." This is an easy way to get to the same display as the "My Computer" icon on your desktop, and allows you to access your hard drive or a pin drive plugged in to your computer, or any network to which you may be connected. This is often faster than using your mouse.

These commands can be activated at any time; you do not need to be in any particular area of the computer to initiate these Window key commands.

For more information or technology training, please contact Elizabeth Bowden at 942-3658 extension 214 or ebowden@lighthousebigbend.org. Happy Computing!


8. Strategies for Vision Loss Class
Talking with others who are also dealing with vision loss can be very beneficial. If this might assist you, we’d like to invite you to the monthly “Strategies for Vision Loss” class held the first Wednesday of each month, from 1pm until 3pm at the Lighthouse of the Big Bend. The focus of each class will be to exchange ideas and strategies for coping with various issues and tasks with limited or no vision. The group will provide an opportunity for everyone to share about their experiences, as well as learning a variety of techniques from Lighthouse instructors. If you are interested in attending, please contact Jeanine Kane, CVRT at 942-3658 or jkane@lighthousebigbend.org. We look forward to seeing you!


9. Welcome Summer Transition Students!
We are excited to welcome the Transition Students to the eight week Lighthouse Summer Transition Program starting June 13th. This summer, teens who are visually impaired will be have the opportunity to gain new abilities that will help them “transition” from high school to college or a job after they graduate. This summer’s theme is “Get Fit, Get Smart & Get a Job!” The students will be taking swimming & self defense lessons. Each will gain experience in how to budget, shop for groceries and cook meals. They will learn how to use a computer with assistive technology, practice job interviewing, explore different career options, and tour college campuses. Students will discover how to use the new bus system and Dial-A-Ride. They will get to participate in team building, problem solving and self confidence exercises. A combination of practical knowledge and fun will assist these teens in learning the skills they need to become independent adults.

Questions about the Transition Program? Please contact Amanda or Leslie at 942-3658 or email akan@lighthousebigbend.org.


10. Top Ten Ways to Relieve Stress
10. Take a deeeeeeep breath. Let the tension go as you exhale.
9. Put on music & dance wildly (maybe with the door/blinds shut!)
8. Vent about it to a friend, spouse, co-worker, or random stranger.
7. Hide—in the bathroom for 5 minutes or play hooky for the day.
6. Take a walk outside to get away from the source of your stress.
5. Do something fun or silly to make yourself (and others) laugh: wear your clothes backwards, tell a joke, or re-arrange the furniture.
4. Buy something for yourself or for someone else.
3. Stop watching the news. Watch a funny movie instead.
2. Do something relaxing: nap, meditate, bath, massage, garden, etc
1. Take another deeeeeeep breath and know this too shall pass!


11. Lighthouse Summer 2011 Classes & Events
- Assistive Technology Seminar: Fourth Thursdays, 3-7pm
- Braille Class: Every Thursday, 10:30am-2:30pm
- Quarterly O&M with Dog Guides: Saturdays—July 16, October 15, January 21, and April 21
- Strategies for Vision Loss Class: First Wednesdays, 1-3pm
- Transition Summer Program: June 13 through July 28, Monday—Thursday, 9am to 3pm
- Transition End-of-the-Summer Trip: August 1-3




AS WE SEE IT
Lighthouse of the Big Bend
Spring 2011 Newsletter

In this issue:
1. Doors Opening at Area High Schools
2. Strategies for Vision Loss Class
3. Mobility Tips 101: Moving Safely at Home
4. My DBS Work Experience by Jada Michaels
5. Three Ways YOU Can Help!
6. Top Ten Websites with Info on Blindness
7. Lighthouse Job Opening
8. Lighthouse Spring 2011 Classes & Events



1. Doors Opening at Area High Schools
"It was a new & wonderful experience to listen to your knowledge about the eye and perform the activities you had for the class."

"It's important that everyone should learn a little bit about visually impaired people and realize that they’re not much different than other people." ~ Leon High School students

These messages from students following a presentation by the Lighthouse are just the beginning! After visits to all nineteen high schools within the eleven counties of the Big Bend, high school doors have begun to open. Faculty have been drawn to the Lighthouse’s class activities that add real-life experiences to the words in their students’ textbooks. Last year the Public Awareness Specialist taught the psychology classes at Leon High and the English classes at Liberty County High School. More presentations are scheduled this Spring at three other area high schools.

Presentations include What Is It Like to Have A Visual Impairment, Playing Sports Without Vision, Cooking Without Looking, and How Do You Surf the Internet. Students wear blindfolds or goggles that simulate visual impairments as they do activities. They have the unique opportunity to play goalball with blind athletes who have traveled the world and won Olympic medals.

Some administrators are realizing there may be unidentified visually impaired teens within their student body unable to meet their maximum potential. However, this continues to be a difficult door to open. Lighthouse staff believe, in time, more and more administrators will see this need and recognize how much Lighthouse Transition Services can improve student academics, increase summer employment opportunities, expand college options and enhance post graduate employment.

Interested in a High School Class Presentation?
If you know a high school in the Big Bend that would like a presentation, please contact Lynda Jones, Public Awareness Specialist at (850) 942-3658 x 209 or email ljones@lighthousebigbend.org

2. Strategies for Vision Loss Class
The Lighthouse of the Big Bend is starting up a monthly class for new and current clients who are visually impaired or blind. It will be held on the first Wednesday of each month, from 1pm until 3pm at the Lighthouse of the Big Bend.

Talking with others who are also dealing with vision loss can be very beneficial. Exchanging ideas and strategies for coping with various issues and tasks will be the focus of each class. The group will provide an opportunity for everyone to share about their experiences, as well as learning a variety of techniques from Lighthouse instructors.

If you are interested in attending, please contact Jeanine Kane, CVRT at: (850) 942-3658, extension 215.

3. Mobility Tips 101: Moving Safely at Home
Previous articles in the Mobility Tips section have presented information on advanced O&M topics such as using the city bus, accessing the Lighthouse’s new location, negotiating airports, and orientation concepts used for navigating in the community. Most people with severely limited sight do these activities with the aid of a mobility tool such as a long cane or a dog guide. Have you ever wondered how someone with limited sight navigates around the home safely without these tools? The two methods below can be helpful.

1. Trailing: The trailing technique is used to keep in contact with the environment, to aid in orientation, and to establish a line of travel. The traveler touches an object (such as a wall or a piece of furniture) with the hand, stands one step to the side of the object, and extends the arm ahead of the body into a position where the hand is half way between the hip and the shoulder. Maintaining this position, the traveler moves along, keeping in contact with the object. Regardless of how the hand is held, it is helpful to relax and curve the fingers slightly so that they act as “bumpers” when encountering uneven surfaces or new objects. Keeping the arm extended ahead of the body gives the traveler time to react to the things encountered. Interpreting textures, shapes, turns, and the presence of open spaces while trailing assists the traveler with establishing and maintaining orientation.

2. Self-protective techniques: These techniques are a way to prevent injury to the upper and mid section of the body while moving through space. The upper body can be protected by extending the upper arm away from the body to the front, bending the elbow and bringing the forearm across the body at shoulder level, with the back of the hand approximately one foot from the opposite shoulder. The forearm position can be adjusted upward to protect the face and head. The lower body can be protected by extending the arm diagonally across the body (from shoulder to the opposite hip), with the hand facing inwards, approximately one foot away from the hip. Again, the fingers should be relaxed and curved slightly. The correct positioning of the arms in either the upper or lower body protective position allows the arms to act as “bumpers” to protect the body.

Here are some extra safety tips relating to these techniques:

* The upper and lower body protective techniques can be combined to provide protection to the traveler from head to hip.
* Use protective techniques when crossing an open area.
* Either of the protective techniques can also be used while trailing.
* When the trailing surface ends (such as when encountering an open doorway) employ one of the protective techniques until the trailing surface is re-established.
* When bending down to locate an object on the floor or when checking a seat before sitting, use the upper body protective technique to protect the face from injury.
* As extra protection, train family members and friends to keep doors and cabinets all the way open or closed.

For more information, contact a Lighthouse Orientation & Mobility Specialist at 942-3658 or email info@lighthousebigbend.org.


4. My DBS Work Experience by Jada Michaels
One Tuesday morning this past Fall, I made a telephone call to the Lighthouse. It was then that I learned about the Work Experience Program sponsored by the Division of Blind Services.
DBS works with businesses to establish training positions for a variety of different jobs. When a client is interviewed and accepted for a work experience, they literally go to work and simultaneously receive on-the-job training. Clients also receive a small stipend for the hours they work. A work experience can be for a few weeks to a maximum of 6 months.

I immediately contacted my DBS counselor who requested that I be considered for the open receptionist work experience position at the Lighthouse of the Big Bend. Later that same day, an interview was scheduled for Thursday; Friday, I was hired.

My working motto is, “When in doubt, seek Wayne out.” As my supervisor, Wayne has been helpful in teaching me the job skills involved in being a receptionist. My main responsibility is to answer the telephone, announce the caller, and transfer the call to the appropriate staff. When telephone requests are simple, like the need for information regarding the Talking Book Library, I assist the caller myself.

I also greet and announce clients and guests, receive mail and packages, retrieve and forward after hours voice mail messages, record and submit referrals, collate and bind embossed Braille material, and perform any other projects as requested. In addition, I assure that public service projects and special requests for Brailed information are properly disseminated.

Daily, I witness the magnitude of the thought and care the Lighthouse staff puts into setting clients’ goals. I have come to realize they operate as a team. Use of the staff’s different perspectives establishes the best outcome for each client. My experience here has both encouraged and inspired me to seek permanent employment when my work experience ends. Many thanks to DBS and the Lighthouse for this wonderful work experience!

5. Three Ways YOU Can Help!
1. “A State of Vision” Specialty License Plate
Get a specialty license plate and $25 of the fees will go to the Lighthouse in your area. To purchase a tag or get a gift certificate for someone you love, just visit your tag agency and ask for “A State of Vision” plate. It’s a great cause and generates important awareness.

2. Driver’s License Renewal “$1 Check Off”
We now have a $1 check off box on the back of driver’s license renewal forms for “Blind Babies & Blind Youth.” Circle it and add $1 which will help our Early Intervention Program.

3. Vehicle Registration “$1 Check Off”
There is also a new $1 check off box on the back of your vehicle registration form for “Seniors with Vision Loss.” Circle it and $1 will help our Independent Living Program.

Thank you for supporting the Lighthouse!
A COPY OF THE OFFICIAL REGISTRATION (#CH1481) & FINANCIAL INFORMATION MAY BE OBTAINED FROM THE DIVISION OF CONSUMER SERVICES BY CALLING TOLL-FREE WITHIN THE STATE 1-800-435-7352. REGISTRATION DOES NOT IMPLY ENDORSEMENT, APPROVAL, OR RECOMMENDATION BY THE STATE.


6. Top Ten Websites with Info on Blindness
10. www.afb.org/ American Foundation for the Blind—Wealth of resources including Career Connect and Senior Site
9. www.nfb.org/nfb/Resources.asp National Federation of the Blind—Resources for living, working, learning & recreation
8. www.visionaware.org/ Self-help Resource Center for Vision Loss
7. www.familyconnect.org/parentsitehome.asp Family Connect—For parents of children with visual impairments
6. www.lighthouse.org/about-low-vision-blindness/ Lighthouse International—About Low Vision & Blindness
5. www.blindbargains.com/ Blind Bargains—Deals & News for the Blind & Visually Impaired (technology related)
4. www.aph.org American Printing House for the Blind—accessible educational and daily living products for the blind
3. http://webopac.klas.com/talkingbooks/florida Florida Braille and Talking Book Library
2. www.hadley.edu/ Hadley School for the Blind— distance education programs for individuals who are blind or visually impaired, their families and blindness service providers
1. www.lighthousebigbend.org Lighthouse of the Big Bend—Check out our Links page for many more resources!

7. Lighthouse Job Opening
The Lighthouse of the Big Bend is looking to hire a part-time Assistive Technology Instructor teaching adaptive computer knowledge and skills including typing, screen magnifiers, screen readers, and Optical Character Recognition (OCR) software. The position would work approximately 20 hours per week, earning $14-$18 per hour. For more info please see the job description at http://www.lighthousebigbend.org. To apply, please submit a cover letter (required!) & resume by email to info@lighthousebigbend.org by April 1st.

8. Lighthouse Spring 2011 Classes & Events
Assistive Technology Seminar: Every 4th Thursday, 3-7pm
Basic O&M Skills: Every Thursday, 1-3pm
Braille Class: Every Thursday, 9:30-12:30pm
Independent Living Class: Every Wednesday, 10am-3:30pm
O&M with Dog Guides: 3rd Thursday, 5:30-7pm
Strategies for Vision Loss Class: First Wednesday, 1-3pm
Transition Group for Teens: Every Thurs afternoon (varies)
Transition Group for Teens (Gadsden): Every Monday, 3-5pm
Transition Group for Teens (Leon): Every Tuesday, 4-6pm
Transition Group (Leon): Every Tues. 3-4:30pm & Wed. 2:15-4pm
Transition Group for Teens (Suwannee): Every Monday, 3-5pm
Transition Group for Teens (Wakulla): Every Wednesday, 3-4:30pm
JUNE 13 to AUG 4: Transition Summer Program! Mon-Th, 9am-4pm



AS WE SEE IT
Lighthouse of the Big Bend
Fall 2010 Newsletter

In this issue:
1. DINING IN THE DARK
2. Thank You To Our Silver Sponsors
3. The Paula Bailey “Inspirational Community Member” Award Nominees
4. Mobility Tips: Negotiating Airports with Ease
5. Two Lighthouse Job Openings
6. How YOU Can Help!
7. Lighthouse Fall 2010 Classes & Events

1. DINING IN THE DARK!
You are invited to Tallahassee’s most unique four-course dinner—dining in pitch black darkness for a great cause on Sunday, Oct. 24 at the University Center Club. The evening includes:

4:00pm University Center Club doors open
4:30pm Reception on the UCC first floor with Honorary Hosts Mike and Representative Michelle Vasilinda, live music, basket raffle, cash bar, and training on “How to Walk, Sit & Eat in the Dark" in the 1st floor auditorium
5:30pm 4-course dinner in complete darkness on 3rd floor, served by the Leon County Sheriff’s Office SWAT Team with their night vision goggles
8:00pm Keynote Speaker Christopher Thomas, raffle drawing and presentation of the Paula Bailey “Inspirational Community Member Award” by Mike Vasilinda and Representative Michelle Rehwinkel Vasilinda
8:30pm Event Concludes

The 6th Annual Paula Bailey Dining in the Dark benefit raises awareness and funds to help individuals with vision loss regain their independence. Please return the reservation form within this newsletter in the envelope enclosed to donate and/or buy tickets for $55, a table of eight - $600, or a table of ten - $700. You can also donate and get tickets online at the Network for Good/GuideStar — when you donate online, just make sure to put “Dining in the Dark” under the DESIGNATION field. Thank you for your support!

2. Thank You To Our Silver Sponsors!
Doug & Elizabeth Bailey
Glen & Sharyn Davidson
Leon County Sheriff’s Office SWAT Team
Patti Liles
Rose, Sundstrom &
Bentley, LLP
University Center Club

3. The Paula Bailey “Inspirational Community Member” Award Nominees
The Lighthouse is thrilled to announce the 2010 Nominees! Although the award winner will be announced 10/24, all are deserving of recognition for their inspiring lives:

« Barbara Riche—Barb is a successful massage therapy business owner, wonderful and loving mother of 5 children, and cares for her father who has Alzheimer’s disease. She is a leader in the local Business Networking International chapter. She lives her life as a confident and successful woman and lets nothing slow her down; to know Barb is to love her. (Nominated by Kristie Teal)

« Jennifer Chessher—Jennifer is the first person who DBS clients meet; her smiling face and warm welcome seem to put nervous applicants at ease. When families see Jennifer who is totally blind answering the phones, using a computer & note taker, and being productive, it shows there is hope for their blind family member to be a productive member of society. (Nominated by Beth Crain)

« Kevin Davis—A natural leader, Kevin rises to the top of any organization in which he is involved. He is a DMV Systems Project Analyst, Distinguished Toastmaster, a deacon in Covenant Presbyterian Church, on his 2 children’s School Advisory Committees, a Cub Scout den leader, and on the Mayor’s Transit Advisory Council. He is an inspiration to those around him because he is outgoing and willing to help people. (Nominated by Laurie Davis)

« Lynn Evans—Lynn is an active volunteer with the Lighthouse. He researches, compiles and updates information for the Tallahassee Area Blindness Issues newsgroup. Lynn has provided valuable input to Star Metro Nova 2010 on issues of pedestrian safety and accessibility for transit users. As an independent, involved citizen, Lynn is a positive model to the community. (Nominated by David Hand)

« Norine Labitzke—Norine’s smile, positive attitude, and willingness to give to others are contagious. Whether she’s knitting as she leads the Lighthouse board meetings, speaking to the Legislature, teaching an FSU class, mentoring students, participating in church activities, working out at the gym, or publishing a book, Norine shows blindness in a positive light. She inspires others to keep going and to not let a disability get in the way of living life to its fullest. (Nominated by Lynda Jones, Sharyn Davidson and Evelyn Worley)

« Owen McCaul—Owen has been an Assistant State Attorney for 21 years and is now Division Chief of their Intake Division. Justice, fairness and protecting his community are his priorities. He tirelessly advocates for safe and reliable public transportation and works hard to bring out the sometimes unpopular truth. He is a family man, leader in the Masons, serves on the FSDB Board, and truly an inspiration. (Nominated by Sila Miller)

« Sally Benjamin—Sally commits countless time to causes for people with vision loss, always saying, "People need to know and understand." As the Coordinator of Project Insight, she provides outreach services and resources to people with recent vision loss. She is an active volunteer for the Lighthouse, the Florida Council of the Blind, American Council of the Blind and the Lions Club. (Nominated by Wayne Warner and Elizabeth Bowden)

« Sharyn Davidson—Sharyn spends innumerable hours volunteering in various organizations. She has served on the Board for Community Christian School, the Lighthouse and as an active fundraiser the Foundation Fighting Blindness. Through an annual fundraiser at her home, a self-published cookbook, and the Tallahassee Vision Walk, Sharyn has raised nearly one million dollars to help fight blindness. (Nominated by Susan Whaley)

« Sila Miller—Sila has demonstrated her independence by working for the Dept of Revenue for 23 years, where she is an Operations Review Specialist. Through her volunteer work with the Lighthouse, Tall. Council of the Blind, Fla Council of the Blind and FSDB Alumni she helps & inspires many visually impaired peers. Sila’s ability to be a zealous advocate without being disagreeable is also very inspirational. (Nominated by Owen McCaul)

« Tinetta Cooper—Tinetta is a full-time student at TCC, maintaining a 4.0 GPA and has been honored by the college as an outstanding student and a “Woman of Excellence” during Women’s History Month. She was the focus of a Braille training, inspiring other instructors. She is an excellent role model and projects a positive attitude, motivating Lighthouse students, and as a member of the Lighthouse’s Board. (Nominated by Jeanine Kane)

« Wanda Stokley—Wanda is successful and independent in her work at DBS. She is a positive influence as the Tall. Council of the Blind Secretary, a member of the FL Independent Living Council, and she advocates for accessible transportation with the City Transit Authority. She volunteers giving presentations about visual impairment and how guide dogs assist with mobility skills. (Nominated by Sally Benjamin, Ana Saint-Fort and Beth Crain)

Congratulations to all the nominees!

4. Mobility Tips: Negotiating Airports with Ease
As the Fall and Winter holiday season approaches, many people make plans to visit family or enjoy a vacation. While anticipating these trips can be exciting, negotiating unfamiliar travel situations can add a level of stress for many visually impaired travelers. Air travel is one of the most challenging situations. Hopefully the following tips will help alleviate some concerns that may crop up while planning your airplane travels.

When making an airline reservation, you may wish to inform the attendant if you need assistance. This can help avoid unnecessary delays in obtaining assistance upon arrival. While it is not required that any traveler disclose the nature or extent of a disability, the more information you share about what assistance you need, the more prepared the airline can be to assist you during your trip. Providing at least 48 hours notice before arrival to the airport is suggested, so that there is time to organize the needed support. Airlines can arrange for someone to meet you and guide you to check-in, baggage check and customs, someone to alert you of when your plane is boarding if you are in a 'silent airport', or someone to assist you with stowing any luggage. You can also request the safety demonstration given by the cabin crew to all passengers at the beginning of a flight in other formats, such as Braille and audio versions.

Upon arrival to your gate, some visually impaired travelers prefer to request pre-boarding in order to situate luggage and locate their seat without feeling rushed by other passengers. There should be an airline attendant near the gate entrance to assist you with pre-boarding if desired. Once on board the plane, the cabin crew can provide more information about the plane, its services and location of the nearest lavatory.

Additional airline travel tips:
* Carry a collapsible cane. Even if you don’t use one, it helps notify others that you are visually impaired. Also, FAA regulations require airlines to stow all carry-on items during air flights. To comply with this, airlines must stow rigid canes elsewhere on the plane because they represent a safety hazard in the event of an emergency. Collapsible canes can be folded and stowed on your person or in a nearby luggage compartment.

* Consider using brightly colored luggage or high-contrast tape on dark colored bags to make it easier to identify on the baggage claim carousel (or for anyone assisting you.)

* Use a “luggage locator” that includes a receiver unit (attached to your luggage) and a transmitter for the traveler. When the button on the transmitter in pushed, the luggage beeps as long as it is within a five-foot range of the transmitter.

* Carry a signature guide for signing credit card receipts.

* Carry all medications in your carry-on bag. Include a copy of the prescription for any medication that may be red-flagged (insulin needles, narcotics, etc.)

* Try to bring only carry-on luggage to save time by avoiding a trip to the baggage claim terminal, and save money as most airlines charge a per bag fee for checked baggage.

There are, of course, many different modes of transportation that travelers may encounter during trips and vacations, including Greyhound buses, trains, subways, rapid transit or unfamiliar city bus systems. For specific instruction on airline travel or utilizing other transportation, please contact the Lighthouse to speak with one of our Certified Orientation & Mobility Specialists at (850)942-3658.

5. Two Lighthouse Job Openings
The Lighthouse of the Big Bend has two job openings if you or anyone you know are interested—and please spread the word. Located in Tallahassee, services are provided in the home, community, and after school in the eleven counties of the Big Bend.

Transition Specialist: Provides instruction to high school students who are blind and visually impaired in adaptive travel skills, personal and home management, communications, social services, recreation/leisure, and vocational skills. The primary goal of this position is to provide the highest quality instructional services possible to assist teens who are blind or visually impaired with “transitioning” to independence, living on their own and getting a job or attending college.

Teacher of the Visually Impaired/Certified Orientation & Mobility Specialist: Provides approximately 25 hours/week early intervention services, working with families of children from newborn to age 5 who are blind or visually impaired; provides approximately 15 hours/week orientation and mobility services to adults.

Both positions are full time with a Bachelor degree required. TVI, COMS required for Early Intervention, preferred for Transition. Each position pays $30-35K with excellent benefits. To apply, please submit a REQUIRED cover letter & your resume by email to info@lighthousebigbend.org .

6. How YOU Can Help!
Get a loved one a gift certificate for our specialty license plate and $25 of the fees will go to the Lighthouse. To purchase a tag or a gift certificate, just visit your tag agency and ask for “A State of Vision” plate. It’s a great cause and generates important awareness!

Make a difference in the life of someone who has lost their vision by donating to the Lighthouse of the Big Bend. Simply send a check to Lighthouse, 3071 Highland Oaks Terrace, Tallahassee, FL 32301. And now you can donate online by credit card or paypal at the Network for Good/GuideStar .

7. Lighthouse Fall 2010 Classes & Events
Assistive Technology Seminar: Every 4th Thursday, 3-7pm
Beginning Braille: Every Tuesday, 1:30-4pm
Braille Class: Every Thursday, 10am-3pm
Dog Guide Group: 3rd Thursday of each month, 5:30-7pm
Independent Living Class: Wednesdays until Dec 15, 9:30am-3pm
Support Group: Starting January 5, first Wednesday, 11am-1pm
Toddler/Pre-school Playgroup: Sat. 10/16, 2-3:30pm
Transition Group for Teens (Gadsden): 4-5:30pm Every Thursday
Transition Group for Teens (Gadsden/Leon): 4-6pm Every Tuesday
Transition Group (Leon): 3-4:30pm Every Tues. & 2:15-4pm Wed.
Transition Group for Teens (Suwannee): 3-5pm Every Monday
Transition Group for Teens (Wakulla): 3-4:30pm Every Wednesday


AS WE SEE IT
Lighthouse of the Big Bend
Summer 2010 Newsletter

In this Issue:
1. GRAND OPENING! Tuesday, 7/27, 5-8pm: 3071 Highland Oaks Terrace
2. Announcing the Multi-Sense-Ational ART Contest Entries
3. Mobility Tips: Long vs. Support Cane—What’s right for you?
4. Intro to Braille for People with Vision Loss, 9/1
5. Intro to Braille for SIGHTED Family & Friends, 10/6
6. 6th Annual Paula Bailey Dining in the Dark Benefit
7. September 17 & 18 TECHNO DEMO: Tools to Expand Your Possibilities
8. Top 8 Myths About Blindness
9. Lighthouse Summer 2010 Classes & Events



1. GRAND OPENING! Tuesday, 7/27, 5-8pm: 3071 Highland Oaks Terrace
You are invited to celebrate the Grand Opening of our new building on the Lighthouse’s 27th Anniversary—July 27, 2010, from 5pm to 8pm! The new facility is located at 3071 Highland Oaks Terrace, just off Capital Circle SE, between Park Avenue and Apalachee Parkway, on the other side of the road from Sam’s Club & Sonny’s.

Come meet friends, enjoy music, laughter, and…
· DELICIOUS FOOD donated by the Lighthouse Board, Marinated Mushroom & the Capital City Women’s Club;
· COOL DRINKS donated by Tri-Eagle Sales & Lighthouse Staff;
· TACTILE ART from various artists, clients and staff (see page 2) and FLOWERS donated by A Touch of Class Florist;
· TOURS of the facility & early intervention playground;
· BOUNCE HOUSE donated by How To Have Fun Rentals;
· 6pm RIBBON CUTTING CEREMONY & AWARDS with Representative Michelle Rehwinkel Vasilinda presiding and JCZ Photography donating photographs of the event;
· DINING IN THE DARK TICKETS go on sale if you want to ensure your seat at the October 24th event!

Thank you to the many donors and funders that have made this move to a new & improved home possible… we could not provide services to so many without the support of the community. Each and every one of you help make us who we are—whether it is by spreading the word about the Lighthouse, donating your time, donating items we could not otherwise afford, or providing funding. This celebration is our way of saying thank you, so we hope you come and enjoy the festivities!


2. Announcing the Multi-Sense-Ational ART Contest Entries
We are thrilled with your responses to the art contest! The Lighthouse held this contest to encourage accessible art that can be "seen" through touch, and enjoyed visually and tactually. The winners will be announced at the Grand Opening on 7/27 at 6pm, having been selected by a panel of three blind and two sighted judges.

Thank you to these amazing artists! Their entries include:
· “African American Singer” Fabric with silk screen by Phyllis Bosco completed in 1991 (for display)
· “Beach Party” Multi-media on canvas by Janet Ray completed in June 2010 ($150)
· “Break Time” Cutout wood and acrylic paint by Charles and Jo Stripling completed in July 2010 (donated—$1,150)
· “Delicate Beauty” Rustic wood creation with scroll saw by Reggie Thornton completed in July 2010 ($88)
· “Dread Head” Rope sculpture - twine, yarn, jute, garden hose, tree branch & clay by Jill Ashley completed March 2010 ($600)
· “Floral Reef” Original Folk Art with vintage fabrics from the 1870’s, pearl cuff-link, vintage buttons, and Braille label by Drew Watson, completed July 2010 ($1,150)
· “Mrs. Maintenance” Rope sculpture with yarn, jute, garden hose, and Freon tanks by Jill Ashley completed July 2010 ($150)
· “Outside My Window” Multi-media with photos by Suzanne Rita Byrnes completed in July 2010 (donated—$150)
· “When the Wind Blows” Kiln-formed glass by Cheryl Sattler completed in 2010 ($800)

There are also several pieces of amazing tactile artwork that have been donated or brought in for display that were not in the contest. So even if you can’t come to the Grand Opening, you are invited to drop by for a tour and to experience the art anytime.


3. Mobility Tips: Long vs. Support Cane—What’s right for you?
The main functions of all white canes are identification, feedback, and protection. The white color on the length of the cane, with the red section at the bottom, indicates that the person using it is visually impaired. When touching the ground, the cane also offers its user some tactile and auditory information. For example, touching a metal manhole cover feels hard and makes a distinctive “clank.” Touching grass gives a softer feeling and sound. (It may even sound “crunchy” in the winter when rain storms are few and far between!) The cane provides protection as well. It can alert its user to drop-offs or prevent run-ins with objects in your way.

When choosing which type of white cane to use, some considerations include physical challenges, level of vision, and personal preference. A support cane is usually recommended for a traveler who has balance or endurance issues and needs lean on something for stability or to rest. The support cane has a wide diameter, and is sturdy with a rubber tip that prevents it from slipping. It has a T-handle or curved grip that the palm of the hand rests on. It measures about mid hip level and is held vertically to the traveler’s side. The cane is generally moved ahead in stride with the traveler.

The long cane on the other hand is thinner and lighter weight. This accommodates the need to move the cane easily from side to side. The straight grip is held in front of the body and the tip extends two to three feet ahead of the traveler. Its tip is hard and slides or taps along surfaces. If the long cane is leaned on heavily and quickly to catch one’s balance, it may bend or break, and the tip will most likely slide out from underneath the traveler.

One’s level of vision is also a consideration when choosing a cane. If the traveler has sufficient low vision to determine what’s ahead in enough time to react safely to it, the use of a support cane alone may work. If the traveler has very little vision or no vision at all, use of a support cane only can be a slow and tedious process. The traveler would need to stop every step or two to sweep the cane across and ahead of the body to check for obstacles.

Travelers with very little or no vision who need to rely on the support cane for balance, adding the long cane, the use of a sighted guide or a dog guide may be beneficial. Using the two canes in tandem may initially seem cumbersome, especially when dealing with stairs or doors. With a bit of practice, however, most people develop a routine and a steady rhythm

S.upport cane, long cane, or both? The choice is yours! If you need help making the decision or would like to take a “test drive” please contact any of the Lighthouse’s Certified O&M Specialists at 942-3658 or eworley@lighthousebigbend.org .


4. Intro to Braille for People with Vision Loss, 9/1
Wednesday, September 1 from 1 – 3:30pm: Have you ever wondered what it might be like to be a braille user but have been scared to try it? If you used to read print you can learn to read braille! Even if you only learn the very basics, braille can be an excellent tool to have and is useful in so many ways. This exciting session will introduce you to braille, explain the concepts of the braille code, and provide you with several options for learning braille. RSVP to Jeanine at (850) 942-3658 ext. 215 or jkane@lighthousebigbend.org


5. Intro to Braille for SIGHTED Family & Friends, 10/6
Wednesday, October 6 from 11:30am – 1pm: Do you have a family member or friend who is a braille user? Have you ever wanted to make a braille card or personal note for them? Or be able to read a braille card or letter that they sent? Bring your lunch and join this exciting session which will introduce you to braille, explain the concepts of the braille code, and provide you with resources available to learn how to read and write braille with sight. RSVP to Jeanine at (850) 942-3658 ext. 215 or jkane@lighthousebigbend.org


6. 6th Annual Paula Bailey Dining in the Dark Benefit
This year’s unique four-course dinner in pitch black darkness is scheduled for Sunday, October 24 at the University Center Club and will include:

4pm University Center Club doors open
4 - 5:30pm Reception on the UCC first floor with Honorary Hosts Mike and Representative Michelle Vasilinda, live music, basket raffle, cash bar, and training on “How to Walk, Sit & Eat in the Dark" in auditorium
5:30-8pm 4-course dinner in complete darkness on 3rd floor, served by the Leon County Sheriff’s Office SWAT Team with their night vision goggles
8-8:30pm Keynote Speaker Christopher Thomas, raffle drawing and presentation of the Paula Bailey “Inspirational Community Member Award”

This benefit raises awareness and funds to help individuals with vision loss regain their independence. Please return the form within this newsletter in the envelope enclosed to donate and/or buy tickets for $55, a table of eight - $600, or a table of ten - $700. You can also donate online at http://www.lighthousebigbend.org. Thank you for your support!


7. September 17 & 18 TECHNO DEMO: Tools to Expand Your Possibilities
You are invited to attend the first ever Technology Demonstration at the Lighthouse on Friday, Sept 17 and Saturday, Sept. 18, from 10am until 4pm both days. Representatives from a variety of companies will be present to offer technology equipment and aids to assist people with vision loss, including magnification and speech devices and tools. The vendors will display and demonstrate the latest technology available for those who are visually impaired and blind. If you are interested in attending, please RSVP to Elizabeth at (850) 942-3658 ext. 214 or ebowden@lighthousebigbend.org


8. Top 8 Myths About Blindness

8. If you are blind you have “Super-Power” senses. (Truth: Without vision, you learn to notice & focus on your other senses more.)
7. You must talk loudly to a person with a visual impairment. (Truth: Not unless the person also can not hear!)
8. People who can’t see can feel your face to tell what you look like. (Truth: Most faces feel the same.)
6. All blind people read Braille. (Truth: Many people who are blind since childhood may, but most adults who become blind do not.)
5. Everyone who is visually impaired sees blackness. (Truth: There are many degrees of blindness, most people can still see a little, and the 10 to 15% who see nothing may see white or flashes.)
4. Strong enough glasses will help anyone who is visually impaired. (Truth: Glasses don’t help the retina, optic nerve, or brain.)
3. The Lighthouse staff use sign language to work with the blind. (Truth: Just speaking is effective unless the person is blind & deaf.)
2. To travel independently, a blind person needs a guide dog. (Truth: Very few use guide dogs (1%), many more use white canes (10%), and most do not need a cane or dog to travel independently.
1. Blind people will always recognize your voice. (Truth: Some people have distinctive voices, but most sound the same—it is helpful to identify yourself when you approach someone who is blind.)


9. Lighthouse Summer 2010 Classes & Events
Assistive Technology Seminar: Every 4th Thursday, 3-7pm
Braille Class: Every Wednesday, 10am-3pm
Dog Guide Group: 3rd Thursday of each month, 5:30-7pm
GRAND OPENING! Tuesday, July 27, 5-8pm
Independent Living Class: Intro on August 24 10am-1pm, Class starting Sept 7 every Tuesday until Nov 30, 9:30am-3pm
Intro to Braille for People with Vision Loss: Wed, 9/1, 1-3:30pm
Intro to Braille for Sighted Family & Friends: 10/6, 11:30am-1pm
Summer Transition Program: June 14 to August 4, M-Th, 9am-4pm
Support Group: First Thursday of each month, 11am-1pm
Techno Demo: Fri, 9/17 & Sat, 9/18, 10am-4pm
Toddler/Pre-school Playgroup: Sat. 7/17, 8/7, 9/18, 10/16, 2-3:30pm




AS WE SEE IT
Lighthouse of the Big Bend
Spring 2010 Newsletter

In the issue:
1. New Building GRAND OPENING July 27th!
2. Multi-Sense-Ational ART Contest!
3. Top Ten Advantages to Our New Home
4. Mobility Tips: Traveling to the New Lighthouse
5. SportsAbility Fun in Tallahassee: April 16-18
6. New Independent Living Class: Tuesday, April 20
7. Free GW Micro Training: April 21, 9:30am-3:30pm
8. Lighthouse Spring 2010 Classes & Events



1. New Building GRAND OPENING July 27th!
You may have heard over the past two years the Lighthouse has been looking for a new building as we had completely outgrown our space. We are thrilled to announce that in December 2009 we found a fantastic building. The Board signed a contract in January, and as a part of the deal it was renovated to our specifications. We moved in and have been open for business since March 15th!
Our new building is located at 3071 Highland Oaks Terrace, just off Capital Circle SE, across the road from Sam’s Club & Sonny’s.

The building is 5,600 square feet (3 times bigger than the old one) and has 2 large classrooms, a computer lab, a separate kitchen with space to teach and a Vocational Rehabilitation conference room. There is a real reception area with a listening library, a production room, storage/file rooms, plus 15 offices for staff. There is a big parking lot and nice landscaping. It is surrounded on the front & sides by narrow green spaces and a larger back yard. It is great for guide dogs and in back we are hoping to build a small playground for our Early Intervention program children.

One of the major issues with our old building was the dangerous walk from the bus stop with no sidewalks along Paul Russell. Now, we have a bus stop right at the end of our road (thanks StarMetro!) and a side walk that leads all the way to the front doors. Many more people will now be able to use the Lighthouse facility!

To celebrate, on the Lighthouse’s 27th Anniversary—July 27, 2010, from 5 to 8pm—you are invited to our official Grand Opening and Ribbon Cutting Ceremony. Please come enjoy live music, good food, great company. Stop by for a few minutes to tour the facility or stay awhile to meet old and new friends. Hope to see you there!

2. Multi-Sense-Ational ART Contest!
Calling all creative multi-media artists! Now that the Lighthouse of the Big Bend is in a new building, our spacious walls are bare. Therefore we are sponsoring a contest for accessible art that can be "seen" through touch, to be enjoyed visually AND tactually. A total of three winners and five honorable mentions will be selected by a panel composed of three blind and two sighted experts.

Tactual art work can by created with a variety of mediums. The Lighthouse challenges all artists to create a piece of art that really "stands out". A wide variety of mediums can be used to give a 3-dimensional effect, including fabric, paint, clay, wood, feathers, glass, wire – your creativity is the limit! The goal is to create a piece that can be appreciated by the Lighthouse clients who have lost their vision as well as persons who are sighted.

GUIDELINES: Please ensure...
- your art will not be damaged by repeated touch;
- nothing in your art is so sharp it might injure someone;
- your art is colorful and has both visual and tactile appeal (2-D or 3-D);
- your art must be able to be hung on a wall to avoid tripping hazards in the Lighthouse building where clients are learning mobility skills; it must have a sawtooth hanger or wire secured to the back;
- your artwork does not exceed 50 pounds, and does not exceed 4 feet in any one direction (including frame) to be able to fit through a standard doorway;
- you provide the artist’s name, the title of the art piece, contact information, sale price if any, and the date of completion of the piece.

DEADLINE: Thurs, July 15 by 5pm, bring or ship artwork to the Lighthouse at 3071 Highland Oaks Terrace, Tallahassee, FL 32301.

JUDGING: Week of July 19-23, 2010

WINNERS: Announced without prior notification at the Lighthouse’s Grand Opening on Tuesday, July 27, at 6pm

DISPLAY: The art will be displayed at the Lighthouse from July 27 until December 23, 2010 and may be for sale with the title of the artwork, artists name, contact info and price displayed. Sales inquiries will be referred to the artist. The Lighthouse does not act as an agent and no sales commission will be charged. Artwork can be picked up after December 23, 2010 or if unclaimed one month after the pick-up date will become the property of the Lighthouse of the Big Bend. The Lighthouse reserves the right to reject artwork that do not meet standards of quality and public safety, or are inappropriate for this venue, as deemed so by the Executive Director.

PRIZES: All winning and honorable mention artwork will be displayed in the Lighthouse building, and will receive publicity at our Grand Opening, on our website, and in our newsletter.
1st Prize: The first prize winner will receive 2 tickets to our popular “Dining in the Dark” dinner event ($110 value), scheduled for October 24, 5:30-8:30pm at the University Center Club and a first place ribbon displayed on the artwork, in the Lighthouse reception area.
2nd & 3rd Prize: Second or third place ribbon will be displayed on the artwork in the Lighthouse building.
Honorable Mentions: The art will be displayed in the Lighthouse.

QUESTIONS? Call Jeanine Kane at 942-3658 x 215 or email info@lighthousebigbend.org

3. Top Ten Advantages to Our New Home
10. The main hallway is wide enough for two people in wheelchairs to pass each other... and possibly good for bowling.
9. Four classes can meet at a time without all sharing one room.
8. If someone is in the bathroom there are three other options.
7. The building can be accessed by Bus #22, sidewalks with a crosswalk, curb cuts and even a handrail on the short ramp.
6. The mail person actually comes inside to pick up the mail.
5. There is a room solely for noisily producing documents and shredding confidential info - never interrupting clients again!
4. You can roam the building as exercise... and mobility training.
3. Waiting for a ride can now be enjoyable with comfortable armchairs and a special “listening library” for folks to continue to learn if you are dropped off early or picked up late.
2. Clients, volunteers & staff can find quiet, private place to work on projects or discuss confidential issues.
1. It's an open, bright and professional building, appealing for clients and the general public to visit and an exciting place to learn!

4. Mobility Tips: Traveling to the New Lighthouse
The Lighthouse finally has safe access to a bus route at our new location! Below is specific information for traveling from the C.K. Steele Plaza downtown, to the Lighthouse front doors.

Once you have arrived at the plaza, locate Gate R. Gate R is on the far south side of the plaza, which runs parallel to Call Street. If needed, do not hesitate to request assistance from your inbound bus driver or any other StarMetro staff stationed around the plaza.

You will take the Route 22 bus, which departs the plaza every 60 minutes at the bottom of the hour (8:30am, 9:30am, 10:30am, etc). Run times for Monday – Friday are 6:30am-8:28pm, and on Saturdays run times are from 8:30am-7:28pm.

Once you board the Route 22 bus, inform the driver of your destination. Politely request s/he announce when the bus has reached the stop at Highland Oaks Terrace and Capital Circle, the 2nd stop past Park Ave, before the Tallahassee Fan & Lighting Store. This is a new stop, added by StarMetro specifically for Lighthouse clients!

After exiting the bus, turn left/south and follow the sidewalk a short way towards the intersection of Highland Oaks Terrace and Capital Circle (about 30 feet from the bus stop). Turn right/west at the corner of the intersection to travel along Highland Oaks Terrace. You will cross two intersecting driveways before approaching the crosswalk on your left. Neither driveway is currently being utilized, as they both lead to an empty lot. Still, be sure to use appropriate caution in listening for traffic that may decide to use these areas to turn around.

The crosswalk is on the left/south side of the sidewalk and marked with curb cuts and paint. There is also a pedestrian crossing sign, but it is NOT a stop sign. It is advised to cross here under “all quiet” conditions, where you do not hear a car motor nearby. Traffic should be light as it is a cul-de-sac which dead ends.
After crossing Highland Oaks Terrace, continue walking south down a ramp with wooden railings and along the sidewalk. After the wooden railing, you will be walking beside the Lighthouse parking lot, so be careful of vehicles that may be pulled into a space with the bumper slightly over the sidewalk.

Turn left at the brick patio area (where there is also a building column on the corner), and look to your right for the main entrance of the building, which is the second or center set of doors.

Note: On your way back to the bus stop, the pole that denotes the stop location is offset several feet into the grass. It is recommended to travel an approximate distance of 30 feet after turning onto the Capital Circle SE sidewalk to wait for the bus.

Of course clients and visitors may still use other methods of transportation to the Lighthouse, such as para-transit (Dial-A-Ride) or taxi services; however, bus and foot travel are now also safe options for all!

For individualized assistance or instruction on the above information, or with other any bus travel needs, please contact one of our Certified Orientation and Mobility instructors at (850) 942-3658.

5. SportsAbility Fun in Tallahassee: April 16-18
SportsAbility is the premier event of the Florida Disabled Outdoors Association (FDOA). These free events are about enhancing the lives of people with disabilities by promoting active living. SportsAbility provides access to resources and demonstrations of activities to encourage participation, regardless of age or ability level. For more info please check the website at http://www.fdoa.org/sportsability.htm or contact info@fdoa.org or 201-2944.
Friday, April 16, 10am - 3pm: Tallahassee Community College; Indoor Accessible, Inclusive Recreation Experiences and Expo
Saturday, April 17, 10am - 3pm: Ochlocknee River State Park; Outdoor Accessible, Inclusive Recreation Experiences
Sunday, April 18, 11am - 3pm: Miracle Field at Messer Park Baseball and Power Soccer

6. New Independent Living Class: Tuesday, April 20
This class covers it all, and then some—and it’s lots of fun! These groups are so lively because it's fun to be a part of sharing with each other & learning together. It’s an opportunity to learn all you ever wanted to know about resources, adaptive aids, and techniques for coping with vision loss. You even get to make your own lunch. A new weekly group is scheduled to begin Tuesday, April 20 from 9:30am until 3pm at the new office: 3071 Highland Oaks Terrace in Tallahassee. It will run every Tuesday from 9:30am until 3pm for 12 weeks. If you are interested please contact Jeanine Kane, CVRT at: (850) 942-3658, extension 215 or jkane@lighthousebigbend.org .

7. Free GW Micro Training: April 21, 9:30am-3:30pm
Have you wanted to get your hands on a Sense notetaker, the BookSense, Window-Eyes or a certain SenseView low vision product? This is your chance to get some FREE hands-on training on these products and meet GW Micro staff. On April 21 from 9:30am-3:30pm, GW Micro and Easy Talk Computers are proud to announce a GW Micro technology workshop to be hosted at the Lighthouse at 3071 Highland Oaks Terrace, in Tallahassee. If you are a teacher, counselor, student, or blind professional, this training is for you. Space is limited, so register soon by sending an email to Marc Solomon at marc@gwmicro.com with your first & last name, address, phone number, email, and the GW Micro products in which you are interested. Sign up soon to reserve your spot and free lunch!

8. Lighthouse Spring 2010 Classes & Events
Assistive Technology Seminar: Every 4th Thursday, 3-7pm
Beginning Braille Class: 2nd & 4th Thursdays, 9am-2:30pm
Braille 2 Class: Every Wednesday, 10am-3pm
Dog Guide Group: 3rd Thursday of each month, 5:30-7pm
GRAND OPENING! Tuesday, July 27, 5-8pm
GW Micro Training: Wednesday, April 21, 9:30am-3:30pm
Independent Living Class: Starts April 20, Tuesdays, 9:30am-3pm
Jefferson Transition Group 4 Teens: Wednesdays, 3-5pm
Leon Transition Group 4 Teens: Thursdays, 3-6pm
Next Newsletter Mailout Party: Tuesday, July 20, 2-7pm
Summer Transition Program: June 14 to August 6, M-Th, 9am-4pm
Support Group: First Thursday of each month, 11am-1pm
Toddler/Pre-school Playgroup: Sat. 4/17, 5/15, 6/12, 7/17, 2-3:30pm
Wakulla Transition Group 4 Teens: Mondays, 12-2pm
Volunteer Dining in the Dark Committee Meeting: Wed, 4/14, 5:30-6:30pm
SAVE THE DATE: Dining in the Dark, October 24, 5:30-8:30pm










AS WE SEE IT, Winter 2009/10, Lighthouse of the Big Bend Newsletter

Articles in the issue:
1. 2010 Florida Vision Summit
2. Braille Challenge in Tally: February 12, 2010
3. New Support Group on First Thursdays, 11am-1pm
4. Mobility Tips: Tips on Tips!
5. Thank You for a Successful Dining in the Dark!
6. Top Ten Ways to Reduce Holiday Stress
7. Lighthouse Winter 2009-10 Classes & Events


1. 2010 Florida Vision Summit
The Florida Legislature’s Vision Caucus Chairman, State Rep. Kurt Kelly, invites you to the 2010 Vision Summit. This statewide event is being held in the State Capitol in Tallahassee on Tues, Feb. 9th.

The 4th Annual Florida Vision Summit will begin at 7:30am with a Legislative Breakfast on the top floor of the State Capitol. Then, starting at 9am, a 3 1/2 hour General Session will be held in the Florida House of Representatives Chambers on the fourth floor.

The Vision Summit will be a fast-paced, substantive discussion of key vision-related topics. The speakers will include Floridians who are visually impaired and blind, Florida legislators, senior State officials, vision care professions such as ophthalmologists and optometrists, and the leaders of vision-related nonprofit organizations. The State Capitol press corps will be present to provide statewide coverage.

The nonprofit Florida Association of Agencies Serving the Blind (FAASB) created the annual Florida Vision Summit. FAASB and the Florida Legislature’s Vision Caucus are the annual Co-Hosts of the Florida Vision Summit. The Vision Caucus is a bi-partisan Caucus of 71 Senators and Representatives, which is by far the largest single issue Caucus in the Florida Legislature.

Throughout the morning, vision-related exhibits will be on display in the State Capitol 4th floor rotunda. If you are interested in having a display ($500) or otherwise sponsoring the Summit, please contact Bill Hebrock at BillHebrock@HebrockSteiner.com or (850)222-1988. Thanks to our sponsors, the Legislative Breakfast, General Session, and all other Florida Vision Summit meetings and activities are free and open to the public. We look forward to seeing you at the Capital on Tuesday, February 9, from 7;30am-12:30pm.

2. Braille Challenge in Tally: February 12, 2010
The Braille Challenge is a national event sponsored by the National Braille Institute and is a competition is for students who are braille readers and students learning to read braille.

Three regional events for Florida’s students will be hosted by the Florida Instructional Materials Center for the Visually Impaired (FIMC-VI). The Third Annual Florida Braille Challenges will be held regionally in Tallahassee, Fort Lauderdale, and Tampa.

The students compete in braille reading fluency and comprehension, spelling, proofreading, and braille writing skills. At the completion of the Florida regional competitions, the scores will be submitted to National Braille Institute from which the top 60 braille readers in the US and Canada are invited to the international event. FIMC-VI is proud to join with the National Braille Institute to encourage the development of competent braille readers through fun and educationally relevant events such as the Braille Challenge.

While the students are involved in their testing events, the parents, teachers, and others will have the opportunity to participate in a workshop to learn more about braille literacy.

The Braille Literacy Workshop topics are:
• Introductions & discussion of techniques & materials in use
• Pre-Braille – Literacy concept development activities
• Braille Reading – Efficient Hand Movement and Placement
• Scanning and Tracking
• Interpreting Tactile Graphics

Dates and Locations:
January 29, 2010, in Ft. Lauderdale (South Florida)
February 12, 2010, in Tallahassee (North Florida)
February 19, 2010, in Tampa (Central Florida)

To download student permission forms visit the Braille Challenge section of the FIMC-VI website at http://www.fimcvi.org/index_braille.htm. To sign-up as a volunteer or to register for the workshop, please visit the FIMC-VI website (http://www.fimcvi.org/) and click on the link under Registration for Adults. For questions, please call 1-800-BRAILLE (272-4553).

3. New Support Group on First Thursdays, 11am-1pm
Lighthouse of the Big Bend is starting up a Support Group for new and current clients who are visually impaired or blind. Talking with others who are also coping with vision loss can be very beneficial, and the group will provide an opportunity for everyone to share about their experiences.

The group will be held on the first Thursday of each month, starting January 7th, from 11:00am to 1:00pm at the Lighthouse of the Big Bend. The office is located at 1286 Cedar Center Drive and participants need to bring a brown bag lunch. If you are interested please contact Jeanine Kane at: (850) 942-3658, extension 215.

4. Mobility Tips: Tips on Tips!
Tips for long travel canes are available in a variety of shapes, sizes, materials, and colors. In addition to the traditional white or red tip, they are now available in the fashionable colors of black, orange, or green. While the choice of a tip can be a way of accessorizing for some, there are also considerations regarding function.

Tips are made of different materials with different qualities. According to the Ambutech cane catalog, tips that are made of molded nylon are long lasting. Metal tips are hard to wear down, and offer great tactile feedback. Ceramic tips are also long lasting and are touted to offer “excellent audio feedback.” The shape of the tip and the cane technique to be used are also things to consider. Here is a summary of five tip shapes and recommendations for the techniques to be used:

Pencil – This tip is straight, thin (similar to the shaft of the cane), and lightweight. It can be used alone or as a base for a slip-on tip. This tip is good for those who use the cane mostly for ID, for indoor travel, or for those who use a very light touch technique.

Marshmallow – Yes, it is the same shape as a large marshmallow! The increased surface area provided by this tip helps it maneuver over cracks and ground irregularities with less likelihood of getting stuck or “jammed.” This tip adds weight to the cane and is helpful for use with the constant contact (sliding) cane technique.

Roller – This is pretty much a marshmallow tip with ball bearings inside which allow it to rotate on the axis of the cane. It maneuvers over cracks and ground irregularities with ease. It is a favorite among clients. Combined with the constant contact technique, it offers excellent tactile feedback. If one chooses to use it with the touch technique, it helps reduce the tapping sound.

Rolling ball – This is a 2” ball tip that, like the roller tip, rotates on the axis of the cane. It has a larger surface area and slides over irregularities easily while using the constant contact technique. It is advertised as being lightweight. This is a favorite of some students who walk across campus on varying terrain.
“Cross County” types – These tips are good for detecting major obstacles while navigating in rural environments such as trails, fields, or traveling on dirt roads. Two name brands are the Rover Free Wheeling tip and the Bundu Basher.

In general, prices for cane tips range between $2.00 and $12.00. When ordering, be specific about the brand and type of cane to be used. Different styles of tips attach to the cane differently. For example, the hook or string loop type fits inside the shaft of the cane and attach to the elastic cord. The “thread” type screws into the inside of the shaft. Other tips slip over the shaft of the cane.

So, when choosing a cane tip, think about price, materials, cane brands, and the different options for attaching the tip. Remember to consider your travel needs and your technique/style when choosing a cane tip. Being a little fashionable is an added bonus!

Resources:
Ambutech: 1-800-561-3340; www.ambutech.com
American Council of the Blind: 800-424-8666; www.acb.org
National Federation of the Blind: 410-659-9314; www.nfb.org
LS&S: 800-468-4789; www.lssproducts.com
Royal New Zealand Foundation of the Blind:www.rnzfb.org.nz

5. Thank You for a Successful Dining in the Dark!
The 2009 Paula Bailey "Dining in the Dark" benefit sold out with 372 guests! Plans are already underway to hold to the event again next year. The evening opened with a reception, live music from a Tallahassee Symphony Orchestra Trio and a raffle of fifteen amazingly beautiful baskets. We are very excited to share that the raffle itself raised and additional $1,400! After a training on how to dine in the dark, guests made their way up to the ballroom. Diners were guided through the dark to their table, led by volunteers who could not see, using a cane and their skills in orientation and mobility to make their way through the pitch black ballroom.

The Leon County Sheriff's Office SWAT Team again volunteered their time to serve dinner utilizing their night vision goggles. Guests do not know what they are eating in order to enhance the experience of utilizing their sense of smell and taste (and sometimes touch!) Therefore, to reveal the mystery menu, the dinner began with a clubhouse salad, fresh bread, and an appetizer platter of cheeses, nuts and fresh vegetables. The SWAT Team then served the main course of filet mignon and salmon with potatoes au gratin and sautéed string beans. For dessert, diners were treated to chocolate mousse.

After dinner, the lights came up and the "Paula Bailey Inspirational Community Member" award was presented to Michael Elliott, the Bureau Chief of Client Services for the Division of Blind Services. Michael received a plaque in Braille, stating "2009 Paula Bailey Inspirational Community Member Award Presented to Michael Elliott for Outstanding Contributions to the Community. Congratulations Michael!

Thank you again to all of our donors and volunteers for their contributions of time and money. With your help over $32,000 in funds were raised to support the Lighthouse of the Big Bend's services for individuals who are visually impaired or blind.

6. Top Ten Ways to Reduce Holiday Stress
10. When stressed, stop everything for a minute & breath deeply.
9. Make a truly unappealing dish for the holidays and listen to the interesting responses & reactions from your guests.
8. Treat yourself to the pampering of your choice for no reason, i.e. indulge in a favorite food or drink, listen to music, dance, take a nap, watch a funny movie, soak in a long bath, etc.
7. Decline to participate in all scheduled events that stress you out.
6. Open a discussion that makes those you have to tolerate squirm.
5. Imagine your most dreaded guest hiding inside the turkey.
4. Get food delivered & have all guests wear PJ’s to the festivities.
3. Reduce financial stress by making or baking a home-made gift.
2. Literally get away from your stress by taking a cruise or camping out far away from civilization.
1. Spend time with people you genuinely like who make you laugh!

7. Lighthouse Winter 2009-10 Classes & Events
Assistive Technology Seminar: As of January, every 4th Thurs, 3-7pm
Braille Class: Every Wednesday, 10:30am-3pm
Dog Guide Group: 3rd Thursday of each month, 5:30-7pm
Independent Living Class: Introductory session 1/19, 10am-1pm; Class starts 2/2, every Tuesday, 9:30am-3pm
Jefferson Transition Group 4 Teens: Wednesdays, 3-5pm
Leon Transition Group 4 Teens: Thursdays, 3-6pm
Next Newsletter Mailout: Thurs, March 4, 3-7pm &/or Fri, March 5, 9:30-11:30am
Spring Cleaning Day: Saturday, March 13, 8am-3pm
Support Group: First Thursday of each month, 11am-1pm
Wakulla Transition Group 4 Teens: Mondays, 12-2pm




AS WE SEE IT, Fall 2009, Lighthouse of the Big Bend Newsletter

Articles in the issue:
1. Experience “Dining in the Dark” 10/18!
2. THANK YOU to our Sponsors
3. Meet the Board: Sila Miller
4. Mobility Tips: Bus Travel Reminders
5. Top 10 Reasons to Dine in the Dark
6. Practical Tips for Living
7. Fall 2009 Classes & Groups
8. Get Published in “AS WE SEE IT”

1. Experience “Dining in the Dark” 10/18!
The Lighthouse’s 5th Annual Paula Bailey Dining in the Dark benefit will be held Sunday, October 18 from 5-8pm at the University Center Club. This is a unique chance to experience a gourmet, three course dinner served in total darkness. It is really pitch black, and without vision, you become much more aware of your sense of smell, taste, sound & texture, and conversation becomes more intimate. And if you are blind, this is a chance for your loved ones to experience for a few short hours what you live with every day.

New this year, we are thrilled to announce that FSU’s Ann Bowden is the Honorary Host of the reception, complete with music and a cash bar. The raffle of fun-filled baskets was so popular last year, we are doing it again! Basket themes include a Fall basket, gourmet Italian dinner, golf, pampering yourself, dining out and much more. Right beside the reception in the first floor auditorium, a training will assist guests in learning how to walk, sit down and eat in the dark… just as Lighthouse clients learn every day.

At the end of the reception, table numbers are called in order so guests can go up to the ballroom together and be seated. And yes, you can even gat a bib. You will be guided to your seat by volunteers that are blind and navigate in the dark every day. The dinner will be an entirely new three-course surprise, to be explored with your senses of smell, taste and texture. We are delighted to welcome back the Leon County Sheriff’s Office SWAT Team, who are volunteering to serve our guests with their night vision goggles.

Tickets cost $55 each or you can sponsor a ticket for someone who cannot afford to go. Reserved tables are available; a table for eight is $600 and the new table for ten is $700. You can pay on-line at www.lighthousebigbend.org or return the ticket form in the enclosed envelope. We look forward to Dining in the Dark with you!

2. THANK YOU to our Sponsors!
Doug & Elizabeth Bailey
Glen & Sharyn Davidson
Hebrock, Steiner, Inc.
Leon County Sheriff’s Office SWAT Team
Patti Liles
Rose, Sundstrom & Bentley, LLP
University Center Club

3. Meet the Board: Sila Miller
Hello, I am Sila Miller from Tallahassee. I was honored with a position on the Lighthouse of the Big Bend's Board late last year. I have been involved with the Lighthouse for almost 20 years in some capacity--through three names and all three Executive Directors.

I first became involved with this esteemed organization when Tallahassee Council of the Blind, another volunteer advocacy organization of which I am a member, held their monthly meetings there. I am an advocate and server at heart and I believe helping is my God given gift. So, naturally, I wanted to be a part of this organization which was making a difference.

I grew up in a small town west of here, Blountstown, and attended school in St. Augustine at the Florida School for the Deaf and Blind. I have worked for the state since 1986 so between the state education and career, I consider myself a "State Brat." I am married to a supportive and loving man, Robert, and together we own the local company, Easy Talk Computers. We will soon celebrate 21 years together. We are blessed with a beautiful grandson, Jacob, mutual interests and a home within walking distance of many businesses and the bus route. We are pet lovers and share our digs with Robert's guide dog, Harley and two cats who keep our ground mole, squirrel and snake population under tight control.

I have been blind since birth. My eye condition is a result of a drug my mother took during pregnancy referred to as DS. It was frequently prescribed in the 60s to help maintain pregnancy and control morning sickness. My mother, God rest her, suffered some guilt about this, I think, but before she died in 2000, realized my full potential and was very proud of me and my accomplishments. I have been blessed beyond belief with opportunities of employment, travel, love and health. I have a strong belief in Jesus Christ and give thanks to Him daily for such a good, full and productive life.

I very much enjoy my volunteer work, especially with the Lighthouse. I think it is fitting that I was asked to write about myself during this time of year when my thoughts turn to Dining in the Dark, dedicated to the memory of Paula Bailey. I was blessed to have known Paula and benefited richly from her example of perseverance and patience. What a lady!

Speaking of blessings and examples, the Lighthouse is fortunate to have a wonderful gang of dedicated and caring employees. Three specifically come to mind. Barbara Ross, the Lighthouse's Executive Director is a wonder. She lives and breathes improving this organization and has gone miles towards changing how the Lighthouse is perceived in our community. Evelyn Worley must be the best and most patient O & M instructor I've ever met and many have gained a great deal, me included, from her instruction. Wayne Warner's sense of humor and intelligent, offhanded manner adds the perfect blend to keeping things easy and fun.

Then there are my fellow Board Members, a hard working group of people with so much to offer. Together, we have formed a great team and are keeping busy developing and realizing ambitious goals for the continued growth of the Lighthouse of the Big Bend! It is my privilege and honor to serve.

4. Mobility Tips: Bus Travel Reminders
Travelers who are visually impaired or blind often use the local bus system to get places, as it is a cost effective method for independent travel. However, several aspects of the bus system can prove to be a bit tricky, so read on for O&M pointers to smooth travels!

The first step is to plan ahead. If you want to find out or confirm route information, you may want to contact StarMetro directly. Dial (850) 891-5200 and select the option (currently #1) for “Route and Schedule Information” in order to speak to an attendant. The attendant can help you plan your trip by providing route and gate information, as well as specific bus stop locations. If you need to know which route should be taken to get to a given destination, the attendant will need the specific address of where you want to go. Fare, route, gate, and other travel details can also be found on StarMetro’s website, www.talgov.com/StarMetro.

It is usually not hard to tell that a bus has arrived at a stop, as they are relatively loud vehicles. Once the bus has hissed to a halt, continue to use your listening skills to direct you to the bus entrance. Fellow passengers and/or the sound of the front door opening can serve as helpful cues during boarding. It is important to note that a second door often opens towards the back of the bus as well, to allow for a timely passenger exchange. This door is for exits only, and should not be used to board the bus.

Identifying your bus stop and knowing when to get off is a common problem for many bus travelers who are visually impaired. Some people choose to memorize their routes and identify their stops by counting turns, speed bumps, etc. You can also alert the driver that you are visually impaired and request s/he announce your stop. If at some point you become concerned that the driver may have forgotten about you, you might check with a fellow passenger to see if your stop has already been passed. If so, politely alert the driver and stay on the bus until it has returned to the terminal. There you can determine if you have time to remain aboard and try again, or need to make other travel arrangements.

Other helpful tips:
* It may help to sit near the front of the bus. Staying close to the driver (but not behind him) can be a reminder that he needs to alert you when your stop has been reached.

* Consider carrying your cane. It can help notify others that you are visually impaired. If it’s collapsible, you may want to fold the cane in half while riding, but completely folding it up is not recommended, as unfolding it before exiting can slow your departure.

* If you are traveling with a dog guide, be sure (s)he is tucked safely under your seat and is not causing an obstruction.

* If you need to complete a transfer and aren’t sure where your connecting bus’ gate is located, you can ask your driver for assistance before leaving the bus or ask an attendant at the terminal.

Mastering safe, efficient and independent bus travel can be a daunting task for many travelers who are visually impaired. Orientation and Mobility (O&M) Specialists can be resources, consultants and instructors, who can assist you in learning a variety of travel skills, including public transportation. Please contact a Lighthouse O&M Specialist for more info at 942-3658 x 203.

5. Top 10 Reasons to Dine in the Dark
10. You will be pleasantly surprised by what you are eating.
9. No one will stare at you if you do something embarrassing.
8. You can pretend you’re eating dinner with your favorite TV or movie star.
7. If you sneak food off your neighbor's plate or take ten pats of butter for your bread, no one may notice it!
6. You will be much more aware of your sense of hearing, touch and taste than when you can see.
5. You don’t have to worry about table manners.
4. You might get to be escorted to the restroom by a cute SWAT Team Officer who will make sure you are very well protected.
3. Don’t like the tomato? Hide it in your napkin or “spill” it. Oops!
2. The evening will become an interesting adventure you will share stories about for a long time.
1. In the future, you will be better able to empathize with and assist others who never get to "turn the lights back on."

6. Practical Tips for Living
Lights Out: In case of a power failure it is best to refuse any navigational help a sighted companion may offer. Failure to do so may result in bumps and bruises. ~ Barbara Kiger

Humpty Dumpty: If you drop an egg on the floor or counter, before wiping it with a wet cloth, use a paper towel or salt to absorb the excess liquid from the egg. Then finish the job with a damp cloth to wipe away any sticky substance remaining. ~ Patricia A. Lipovsky & Mary Ellen Ottman

Not Losing It: Try to purchase items like toothpaste or shampoo/conditioner with openings which do not detach so that there's less chance to lose the caps. ~ Anonymous

Penny For Your Thoughts: To mark how long to microwave an item, tape pennies to it. To heat it for 3 minutes, tape 3 pennies; if you heat for 3 minutes, stir and heat another minute, put 3 pennies, leave a space and tape another penny. ~ Marilyn Wright

More Cold Cash: You can also use pennies to tell difference between food items in similar containers. For example, put 1 penny on potato salad and 2 on coleslaw. Always use the same number so you remember what type of food it signifies. ~ Marilyn Wright

No Old Mold: To keep grated cheese fresh until you want to use it, put it in the freezer which will keep it from getting moldy. ~ Nancy Folsom

Thank you to everyone for their contributions! If you have a tip or an article you would like published in “As We See It,” please email: info@lighthousebigbend.org

7. Lighthouse Fall 2009 Classes
Basic Braille Class: Every other Thursday, 10am-2pm
Braille Class: Every Wednesday, 11am-3pm
Computer Class: Saturday 9/26, 10/25, 11/14, 12/12, 10am-2:30pm
Dog Guide Group: 3rd Thursday of each month, 5:30-7pm
Independent Living Class: Starts 9/22, every Tuesday, 9:30am-3pm
Jefferson Transition Group 4 Teens: Wednesdays, 3-5pm
Leon Transition Group 4 Teens: Thursdays, 3-6pm
Wakulla Transition Group 4 Teens: Mondays, 12-2pm

8. Get Published in “AS WE SEE IT”
Have something you’d like to write about?
Want to share an experience or opinion?
Please submit articles by email to: info@lighthousebigbend.org




__________________________________________________________


AS WE SEE IT, Summer 2009, Lighthouse of the Big Bend Newsletter

Articles in the issue:

1. It’s Summer (Transition Program) Time!
2. Meet the Board: Jamie Ito
3. Florida Disabled Outdoors Association Activities
4. Mobility Tips: Using Cardinal Directions
5. Top Ten Ways To Go Green & Save Money
6. Practical Tips for Living
7. How Many Copies Did You Get of This Newsletter?!
8. Save the Date!
9. Lighthouse Summer 2009 Classes

1. It’s Summer (Transition Program) Time!
Starting June 8th, the halls of the Lighthouse will be filled with teenagers, here for the Summer Transition Program. For the next two months, these students will learn to be active participants in their world, gaining career awareness, independent living skills, social skills, and self determination. As a part of the program, the students will participate in mock interviews, weekly work experiences, and a community service project at Second Harvest. They will learn assistive technology skills through blogging, home management skills when cooking at the Lighthouse and at the new FSU daily living skills lab, and they will be exposed to recreational activities through participating in exercise classes—and even horseback riding. Some students will experience the beach for the very first time when the group visits St. George Island!

To create awareness about blindness and the Summer Transition Program, it will be the subject of Dr. Liz Holifield’s National Public Radio show named 411 Teen. It airs on WFSU 88.9 from 2-3pm on Sundays, and our show will most likely air on Sunday, July 18th. Dr. Holifield will interview a panel consisting of three Lighthouse staff members, a Summer Transition Program student, a parent and a college student who is visually impaired.

At the end of the program (to demonstrate the skills they learned throughout the summer) the teens will be conducting a fundraiser at Bruster’s Ice Cream on Wednesday, July 22nd from 7-9pm. They will be taking your orders and serving ice cream. There will be a live band playing on the deck. The transition students will keep 25% of the profits and 100% of the tips made that night. This will give them the opportunity to use their skills to plan and budget for a trip with the funds they raise. The FSU Visual Disabilities program will be on hand to educate folks about blindness. Please tell your friends and come support the transition students on July 22nd!


2. Meet the Board: Jamie Ito
I am Jamie Ito and have been a board member of Lighthouse of the Big Bend for just over one year. I originally learned about the Lighthouse (at that time FIRE) through a co-worker at my old job with the Florida Department of Health. My co-worker, who had been a supporter for a number of years, invited me to attend Dining in the Dark with her. I was amazed at the experience of eating dinner in complete darkness with only my senses of sound and smell to guide me. I realized how my senses all work in harmony – it was difficult to trust what I heard or smelled without the accompanying sight to which I was accustomed.

At about the same time as my first Dining in the Dark experience, my very good friend Jeff English began working at the Lighthouse. He couldn’t say enough wonderful things about the organization and a little over a year later recommended me for a vacant position on the board. I was glad to become involved and am thankful for the opportunity to be a part of such a great group of people.

My first experience with individuals with vision loss was as a young child when my dad, a social worker with the Unites States Department of Veterans Affairs, worked in the Visual Impairment Services of the VA in Pensacola. I recall an occasion when the coordinator of the program came home with him. He had lost all of his vision when he was shot in the head during the Vietnam War and I marveled at his ability to navigate our home with the use of a cane.

I currently work as an attorney at the North Florida Center for Equal Justice, a legal services office based in Tallahassee. We represent indigent citizens primarily in housing and consumer law cases. My organization has a number of visually impaired clients with legal issues ranging from disability discrimination to unfair lending practices. In one case, my organization compelled a local county government to repair a badly damaged sidewalk along a street where an apartment complex houses individuals with disabilities. The residents had complained for months that they were forced to drive their wheelchairs in the street because of the condition of the sidewalk, but had no response from the county officials. In another case, my organization is fighting to save the home of an elderly gentleman with vision loss from foreclosure. Our client was given and signed loan documents that he could not read because of his vision loss, and misled about the terms in the documents. Many of our clients are referred to us by Legal Services of North Florida, our “sister organization.”

My husband Marc and I both attended the FSU College of Law and enjoy hanging out with our two and a half year old son, Max. Max was born with a cleft lip (which was repaired when he was three months old). My experience with Max’s birth defect has led me to become a supporter of a number of organizations such as the March of Dimes and the Smile Train, which trains doctors in developing countries to perform cleft repairs on children who otherwise would not have access to such surgery.

I am happy to be a member of the Lighthouse Board and look forward to watching the organization grow and evolve.


3. Florida Disabled Outdoors Association Activities
Do you ever find yourself just sitting around the house with not much to do? Why don’t you consider some activities with the Florida Disabled Outdoors Association (FDOA)? Each month the FDOA is helping to coordinate ongoing activities in our community. We would encourage you to come and participate. If fear or uncertainty is a barrier, please call one of the staff members at 201-2944 ext. 3 to help overcome those barriers or to express your leisure interests. All events or activities listed below have no charge.

FISHING, Hands Helping Anglers, Saturday, June 13—FREE
Enjoy fishing provided by volunteers with the North Florida Gulf Fishing Club (NFGFC), Tallahassee Northside and Capital Rotary Clubs. The event includes lunch and transportation. You may bring an assistant with you. Please register ASAP by calling 850-201-2944 ext. 3.

SAILING clinic, Saturday, August 22 from 11:00 am to 1:00 pm @ Shell Point—FREE
Come out and see if this sport might be for you; no prior experience necessary.
Please pre-register by August 19 at: kcarter@fdoa.org or 850-201-2944 ext. 3.

TENNIS, Every Monday 6:30 pm @ Jake Gaither Tennis Courts (801 Tanner Drive)—FREE Up - Down Tennis practice; Wheelchair Tennis Champion, Suni Patel, will help you learn to play! Contact Suni Patel at Sunil4fsu@aol.com850-443-2155.

POWER SOCCER—FREE; Power soccer excitement and interest keeps stirring! Power Soccer is the first competitive team sport designed and developed specifically for power wheelchair users. Contact David Lowe for more information at 850-544-2037.


4. Mobility Tips: Using Cardinal Directions
Implementing the use of cardinal, or compass, directions in your mobility adventures can enhance the efficiency and reliability of your routes. The term cardinal direction refers to the directions north, south, east or west.

When a traveler is learning to use cardinal directions, a compass is a useful tool. Compasses are available in multiple designs for accessibility to people with all degrees of vision loss. A compass will provide the most accurate reading when a traveler stops walking and positions the compass flat in the palm of the hand and perpendicular to the front of the body. In addition to Braille and print or tactile compasses, talking compasses are also available.

Using cardinal directions can assist a traveler in problem solving when he finds himself off-course. Cardinal directions provide the traveler a means to concretely describe her current location or desired location. The use of cardinal directions in street travel is also invaluable. While traveling on sidewalks through city blocks or neighborhoods, knowing your direction of travel and the street intersections you will encounter can help determine your progress and estimated time of arrival.

A traveler can even use cardinal directions without a compass. Learning the direction traffic flows on specific streets (i.e. north to south, east to west) will enable the traveler to analyze his or her position in relation to the flow of traffic. For example, a traveler might begin a journey at the corner of Copeland and Jefferson, going to Kleman Plaza. However, the traveler could be uncertain of the specific address. From previous experience, the traveler knows that Kleman Plaza is between two streets with traffic flowing in opposite directions. The first two intersections the traveler encounters has traffic flowing in two directions. The next intersection has traffic flowing one way, going south. The traveler can now anticipate arrival at Kleman Plaza and that then, the next intersection would have traffic flowing one way, going north.

A traveler who uses cardinal directions as part of daily mobility will experience the success of effective problem solving and the resolve that s/he knows where s/he’s going and where s/he’s been.


5. Top Ten Ways To Go Green & Save Money

10. Unplug your appliances when you are not using them; many actually still use energy when they are supposedly off.
9. On long trips wrap your favorite food in aluminum foil & place on the engine of your vehicle—ready to eat upon arrival!
8. Switch to energy-efficient fluorescent light bulbs when your old incandescent bulbs burn out… &/or dine in the dark!
7. Buy locally grown produce from the farmers of this area or even better, start your own garden.
6. Plant a drought-tolerant shade tree for your home.
5. Defrost food before cooking, as cooking from frozen uses twice the electricity; also turn off your oven 10 minutes early as ovens retain enough heat to finish the cooking.
4. Car pool to the grocery store with friends and make a day of it. Buy in bulk and split it up.
3. Skip the bottled water and drink our high-quality tap water from the faucet in a reusable container.
2. Borrow from libraries instead of buying books or movies.
1. After a bath or washing dishes, bathe your pet or offer the water to neighborhood children for water balloons or slip-n-slide!


6. Practical Tips for Living
Cleaning artificial flowers: Pour some salt into a paper bag and add the flowers. Shake vigorously and the salt will absorb the dust and dirt, leaving your artificial flowers looking like new.~ Bess Bradley

Easy mixing: Use a ziplock bag to mix anything! For example, put flour and chicken in a plastic bag and shake them together to put on flour. You can put eggs, onion, green pepper, cheese, etc. in a bag and shake it all together to make an omelet. ~ Sally Benjamin

Slick solution: Instead of measuring cooking oil use solid shortening, it won’t spill. ~ Elizabeth Bowden


7. HOW MANY COPIES DID YOU GET OF THIS NEWSLETTER?!

The Lighthouse now has one new mailing list for the whole agency, combined from many different lists. We attempted to delete duplicates, but you may still be on the list more than once — or if you had asked to be off the list, you may mistakenly be back on it. Please let us know and we will correct the mistake—and our apologies.


8. Save the Date!
5th Annual Paula Bailey Dining in the Dark: Sunday, October 18, 5-8pm, University Center Club
The 5th Annual Paula Bailey Dining in the Dark event is a unique dinner to raise awareness about blindness and raise funds for the local non-profit serving the blind, Lighthouse of the Big Bend (formerly FIRE.) We are honoring Paula Bailey, a former client and Board member, who was both blind & deaf from meningitis, and passed away in 2005.

Experience food, drink and conversation as you may never have before – without your sight. Your other senses are stimulated to savor the smell, taste and texture of your dining experience. This year we will have an exciting new menu, the Leon County Sheriff’s Office SWAT Team will once again wait on you with their night vision goggles, and after dinner the Paula Bailey “Inspirational Community Member Award” will be presented.

We have eight opportunities for you or your business to receive some publicity and partner with the Lighthouse to support our work in assisting people who have lost their vision:
Scholarship: $55
* Reserve a ticket for someone who can’t afford to go.
à la carte Angel: $100
* We will thank you in our event program.
Table for Eight: $600
* You will receive tickets for a private, named table of eight.
NEW! Table for Ten: $700
* You will receive tickets for a private, named table of ten.
Silver Spoon: $1,000
* You will be recognized in two ads in the Democrat, on Lighthouse’s website, newsletter, and on event signage.
* You will receive a framed certificate of appreciation. (Plus all the benefits above)
Gold Goblet: $2,500
* We will name one monthly Computer Class that takes place in the coming year in your honor. (Plus all the benefits above)
Platinum Platter: $5,000
* We will name one weekly Independent Living Class that takes place in the coming year in your honor. (Plus all the benefits above)
Diamond Dining: $10,000
* Your contribution will be recognized on the event’s annual award and we will guarantee a photo of the presentation in the Tallahassee Democrat. (Plus all the benefits above)

Simply send in your donation, or donate online at www.lighthousebigbend.org through Guidestar & Network for Good. Thank you!


9. Lighthouse Summer 2009 Classes
Braille Class: Every Wednesday, 9:30am-3pm
Computer Class: 1st Fri. & last Saturday of month, 10am-2pm
Dog Guide Group: 3rd Thursday of each month, 5:30-7pm
Independent Living Class: Every Friday, 10am-3pm
Perry Braille: Every Tuesday, 10am-3pm (in Perry)
Summer Transition Program: June 8 - July 30, M-Th, 9am-3pm




__________________________________________________________

AS WE SEE IT, Spring 2009, Lighthouse of the Big Bend Newsletter

Articles in the issue:
1. Legislative Vision Summit a Success!
2. Meet the Board: Fred Sanguiliano
3. Mobility Tips: Malls - a fun challenge!
4. Top 10 Ways You Know You’re a Guide Dog Owner
5. Upcoming Events: Save the Date!
6. Spring 2009 Classes & Groups


1. Legislative Vision Summit a Success!
A new record was set, with two hundred and fifty people attending the 3rd Annual Florida Vision Summit at the State Capitol on February 10, 2009. After a Legislative Breakfast, the program took place on the floor of the House of Representatives Chamber. This year’s program included many new speakers who had received services from a FAASB agency and the Division of Blind Services. Each eloquently illustrated the need for legislative funding.

From the Lighthouse of the Big Bend, Barbara Kiger, former Board President and client, spoke during the segment on seniors. She shared her journey through life after becoming blind 20 years ago due to a reaction to medication. Barb received enthusiastic applause as she held up her published mystery novel, Payback, which she joked was “not a figment of my imagination, people!”

Elizabeth Ricci, a local attorney and Lighthouse Board Member, spoke about her 3 year old daughter, who is visually impaired and receiving Lighthouse Early Intervention services.

Our last speaker was an unexpected surprise, when Representative Loranne Ausley received the Statesman of Vision Award. After she accepted it, Rep. Ausley shared her experience in attending last year’s Paula Bailey Dining in the Dark event. She stated that the dinner was “unsettling in a good way,” and “eye-opening.’ She was most surprised at how overwhelming the sounds were, when in the dark and unable to use her sight. Rep. Ausley then encouraged everyone to attend our event! Several Representatives have already shared their intention to do just that.

Thanks to The Florida Channel, many more Floridians will have the opportunity to view the 2009 Florida Vision Summit as it is aired throughout the year on local, cable television channels statewide. If you missed it on 2/10, stay tuned to your local station.


2. Meet the Board: Fred Sanguiliano
“You have what’s called Retinitis Pigmentosa, you’ll be blind in ten months, maybe two years.” Spoken in a matter-of-fact manner by an ophthalmologist in Balboa Medial Hospital, in southern California. “Oh, and by the way, there is no treatment and no cure.”

That was more than twenty-eight years ago. Those words haunt me to this day. I was a young Lieutenant in the US Navy. I had a bright future ahead of me. I had places to go, things to do. I had plans. Then in a blink of an eye my world changed. Like a speeding train hitting a brick wall my world came to a crashing halt. In the silence after the crash I thought, “But I don’t feel blind.”

A few months after learning I had RP I went back to college and earned a Master’s degree in Counseling Psychology and Rehabilitation Counseling. Four years later I married my best friend, Nancy. The day after we were married we left New Jersey and New York and moved to Florida. We raised two beautiful daughters who are both now in college.

My professional career focused on community based agencies. I ran a shelter for runaway and homeless youth. I served as the CEO of the Governor’s Commission on Community Service also known as Volunteer Florida. I spent countless hours roaming the halls of the Capitol as an advocate. I taught at FSU as an adjunct professor. I traveled the country as a consultant working with Governor’s Commissions from Hawaii to Minnesota.

Five years ago, at the age of fifty, I decided it was time to change careers. I left the nonprofit world behind and my wife and I started a construction company called KeyStone Design. We specialize in creating outdoor living areas. I was still able to see well enough to “fake it” so most people, including my customers, never suspected I had a vision problem. Our business took off and exceeded even our wildest dreams.

My Retinitis Pigmentosa progressed slowly, insidiously robbing my night vision and peripheral vision. Then about two years ago my world began to darken. My visual field dropped to less than 3 degrees in each eye. (A normal visual field is 180 degrees and legally blind is defined as 20 degrees or less). I can best describe what I see as looking at the world through a drinking straw. It began taking a lot of energy, time and effort just to function “normally.” It was time to seek assistance so I contacted the Lighthouse of the Big Bend (at that time called FIRE.)

Nancy and I went through the months of training together. She learned how to be a guide, I learned how to be follow her lead (good training for any husband). I am lucky to have my best friend with me. I am lucky to have the help of the caring professionals at the Lighthouse of the Big Bend.

I was delighted to be asked to join the Board of Directors of the Lighthouse of the Big Bend. In all the years I spent working with non-profit agencies, I found Lighthouse of the Big Bend to be a well run organization with a powerful blend of professionalism and compassion. I am honored to serve on the board.


3. Mobility Tips: Malls - a fun challenge!
Indoor shopping malls can be a great place for many activities. They can be a nice place to get exercise, practice mobility techniques, and to meet up with friends. There are many positives, but also challenges. This article will address both.

The mall offers a relatively safe environment, with many other people around to assist if needed. Unpleasant weather or uneven terrain is no longer an excuse to avoid exercise. The mall offers a temperature-controlled environment, with a generally smooth and consistent walking surface. It has the added bonus of background music. If you don’t care for the typical “Muzac,” then bring your own music or motivational recording. You can walk as long as you like and then sit down for a break at the food court or on the benches located throughout the mall. The malls are open early for walkers and those who want to grab coffee or breakfast.

Malls are a good place to practice mobility skills. Both malls in Tallahassee are within the city limits and are accessible by taxi, paratransit, and city bus. The even walking surface is a good place to practice cane skills such as straight line travel, keeping in step, maneuvering around obstacles, and focusing on your senses to aid with orientation. Take your pick between stairs, elevators, and escalators for moving between floors. The food court is an excellent place to work on “distractions” with your dog guide.

Need companionship? Make plans with a friend to meet for shopping, eating, or just hanging out. Tallahassee Mall also has a movie theater within the mall, where one theater has a video description feature. Finding your friend in the vastness of the mall may be challenging, so set a designated meeting spot. Be very specific such as “near the bottom of the stairs on the side of the aisle closest to the movie theater” or “inside at the customer service counter” rather than “near the movie theater.” A cell phone may also be handy if you can’t immediately locate your friend.

Mall travel often poses some other challenges like disorientation or dealing with crowds. Here are a few helpful hints:

-Plan ahead. Gather information about the shape of the mall and the location of interest in relation to major department stores.

- Use your senses. Although the floors of some malls offer little tactile differences to aid with orientation, you may be able to keep track of the number of stores you’re passing by the music played within. Other auditory information could include fountains, elevator/escalator motors, or a food court full of people chatting. Pet stores, perfume shops, bookstores, concession stands at the movie theatre, and coffee shops have distinctive aromas.

- When traveling in a crowded mall or in a store with narrow aisles, modifying the standard cane technique may be helpful. Narrow the cane arc to shoulder width, and pull the tip a bit closer to the body to help avoid unnecessary contact with displays or passersby. Take advantage of the people around to request information or a sighted guide. When confirming verbal directions by pointing, keep your gestures small and your arm close to your side to avoid touching anyone by mistake.

Hopefully with the ideas suggested above, your next excursion to the mall will be a pleasant one. Please feel free to contact Evelyn Worley, COMS for additional information at 942-3658 x 203.


4. Top Ten Ways You Know You’re a Guide Dog Owner

10. Your coat smells like dog treats and you jingle as you walk.
9. Saying 'Busy busy' makes you want to pee.
8. You have a callous between your fingers where you hold the lead.
7. Random people tell you how smart their dog is.
6. You’ve heard someone say to their kid, “Look at the blind dog.”
5. You keep hair removal devices for people who pet your dog and then complain about dog hair on their clothes.
4. You have a photo with a guide dog harness on your neck.
3. You’ve had 'No Dogs! No Dogs!' shouted at you.
2. You sit and appear to be talking to your feet.
1. You are quite happy to discuss anal glands and poop over lunch.


5. Upcoming Events: Save the Date!
Children’s Social Services Bazaar: Friday, March 20, 10am-3pm, Leon County Human Services Center located at 1000 W. Tharpe St.

New Support Group for Parents of Special-Needs Children: Thursday, March 19, 6pm, contact Megan at 850-728-4755 or mwilson1713@cfl.rr.com for location

Dining in the Dark Introductory Committee Meeting: Wednesday, March 25, 6-7:30pm; First volunteer meeting to plan, publicize and solicit sponsors for our big event!

Lighthouse Spring Cleaning Day: Saturday, April 11, 8am-3pm; Volunteer opportunity to help organize and clean our building interior, and spruce up our building exterior and grounds—pizza lunch & laughter provided.

SportsAbility:
Friday, April 17, 10am-3pm @ TCC Sports Complex
Saturday, April 18, 10am-3pm @ Ochlockonee River State Park
Sunday, April 19, 11am-2pm @ Messer Park—Power Soccer Clinic & Baseball

Active Living Expo: Thurs, May 14, 5-8pm & Fri, May 15, 9:30am-12:30pm @ Tallahassee Senior Center, 1400 N. Monroe

Summer Transition Program: Begins Monday, June 8, 9am-3pm, and Graduation is Thursday, August 6th

5th Annual Paula Bailey Dining in the Dark: Sunday, October 18, 5-8pm, at the University Center Club


6. Spring 2009 Classes & Groups
Braille Class: Every Tuesday, 9:30am-3pm
Computer Class: 1st Friday of each month, 10am-2pm
Dog Guide Group: 3rd Thursday of each month, 5:30-7pm
IL Outing Group: 2nd & 4th Fri, 9:30am-2:30pm
Independent Living Class: Every Thursday, 9:30am-3pm
Transition Group 4 Teens (Jefferson): Every Wednesday, 3-5pm
Transition Group 4 Teens (Leon): Every Thursday, 3-6pm
Transition Group 4 Teens (Wakulla): Every Monday, 12-2pm
Victor Reader Stream Class: Last Saturday of month, 10a-2pm
Window Eyes 101 Class: Last Saturday of each month, 3-5pm
For more information, please call 942-3658





__________________________________________________________

AS WE SEE IT, Winter 2008-09, Lighthouse of the Big Bend Newsletter

Articles in this issue:
1. Lighthouse Chooses New Name
2. Meet the Board: Kim Peaden
3. Most Successful Dining in the Dark Ever
4. William Benjamin Wins the Paula Bailey Inspirational Community Member Award
5. Top Ten Ways to Save $ for the Holidays


1. Lighthouse Chooses New Name
The new Lighthouse of the Big Bend (formerly FIRE: Florida Institute of Rehabilitation Education) recently held a new name contest and received over 150 names and 70 slogans from the community. The contest also attracted the attention of a public relations firm, The Kidd Group, who offered their pro-bono services.

Having spent many hours deliberating a new name and slogan, on October 19, at the 4th Annual Paula Bailey Dining in the Dark event, the agency announced its new name, Lighthouse of the Big Bend, (and slogan) Guiding People Through Vision Loss.

“Michael Elliott, the Bureau Chief of Client Services for the Division of Blind Services was the winner of our name contest,” announced Executive Director Barbara Ross. Michael and his wife Felicia won free tickets to the benefit and received the very first t-shirt portraying the new logo. The new logo uses the "i" in the word lighthouse as an actual lighthouse image with a beam of light streaming forth from it across the length of the word.

“One of our fabulous volunteers, Cyndi Mundell, suggested the slogan,” explained Barbara. “Our branding committee decided that the words ‘guiding people through’ was descriptive of what our staff do and reflective of the lighthouse image. The words ‘vision loss’ apply to all kinds of visual impairments without sounding too clinical.”

“Working with Colleen Schuster of the Kidd Group on our brand was the best thing that could have ever happened – she took us through the process of figuring out what we needed to portray to the community, choosing a name and slogan. Kidd Group designer Mary Liz Moody even helped create a logo and choose our colors – purple and gold.” exclaimed Barbara, “Kelly Robertson also jumped in and used the Kidd Group media contacts to get us more publicity than we have ever had! I can’t thank them enough.”

2. Meet the Board: Kim Peaden
I am Kim Peaden and I have been a board member of the Lighthouse of the Big Bend for almost one year now. Dr. Susan Whaley is my daughter’s optometrist and I learned about the Lighthouse of the Big Bend, which was FIRE at that time, through her. When she described the organization to me and all of the services it offered, I was happy to join such a wonderful cause.

My experience with low vision is through my daughter Kelsey who is now ten years old. She was born prematurely at twenty-five weeks along with my son Nicholas who died a short time after birth. Kelsey was 1lb. 5oz. when she was born and spent 3 months in the NICU and was on a ventilator for 7 weeks.

Because of the pre-maturity and the ventilator, Kelsey developed premature retinopathy. She had to have emergency laser surgery to prevent her retinas from detaching. The surgery was successful and the doctor was able to save her sight, however, she still has high myopia and a vision field loss. She is a very happy and strong young girl who gives us all strength and courage.

In addition to Kelsey, God blessed me with a son Kade, who is 8 years old, and a wonderful husband Kevin. We have a active life and are involved in many activities. We attend Wildwood Presbyterian Church.

I currently teach preschool at Killearn United Methodist Church and I really enjoy it. I am also involved with several other wonderful organizations. I am a committee member on the Leon County ESE committee, the for Dollars Scholarship Fund for students with disabilities, as well as the March of Dimes Leadership Team. All of these organizations, as well as the Lighthouse, are near and dear to my heart because of my daughter.

My hope for the Lighthouse of the Big Bend is for it to continue with much success and growth to better serve all ages that are blind or visually impaired. I would like for us to work toward the goal of providing services for the elementary children ages 6-13. I am proud of the hard work and dedication that, board and director gives to such a wonderful organization.

3. Most Successful Dining in the Dark Ever
$33,000 was raised at the 4th Annual Paula Bailey Dining in the Dark event, held 10/19/08, making this the most successful benefit ever held for the local non-profit serving the visually impaired. New this year, over fifty businesses, artists, and craftspeople in the region generously donated items and gift certificates to go in sixteen themed baskets. The raffle baskets alone raised $1,500, and according to guests, added to the fun of the evening.

One interesting aspect of this years dinner was that very few folks identified the main entrée. Many guests thought they were eating pork, beef or even meatloaf. To reveal the menu, the dinner began with a fried green tomato salad. The SWAT Team then served the main course of ballotine of free range herb chicken stuffed with spinach and fontina cheeze, buttermilk whipped potatoes, a stuffed tomato, and a vegetable medley. For dessert, diners had a double flavored treat of a fudge brownie and blonde brownie duo.

“The community truly comes together to make this event happen,” said Executive Director Barbara Ross, “We couldn’t have 365 people eat dinner in pitch black darkness without the amazing teamwork of our staff, board, volunteers, the University Center Club and the Leon County Sheriff's Office SWAT Team.” This year more SWAT Team members than ever before showed up to volunteer their time, with fifteen officers serving dinner in the dark utilizing their night vision goggles.

Special thanks goes to the Silver Sponsors of the event, Doug & Elizabeth Bailey, Glen & Sharon Davidson, Anne & Bill Hebrock, Patti Liles, Rose, Sundstrom & Bentley, LLP, Tallahassee Community College, Tallahassee Lions Club, and the University Center Club.

Ideas for next year’s Dining in the Dark event are already being suggested by our ambitious volunteers and staff! To expedite the seating process, the light lock will be expanded, and two entrances to the ballroom will be utilized to seat two tables at a time. This should make things go twice as fast. Another fun idea will be the addition of a tactile game to each table. When people are not eating, a game will give folks an additional experience between courses. Can you play “tic-tac-toe,” dominoes, or something similar in the dark? Plan to come next year and discover how!

4. William Benjamin Wins the Paula Bailey Inspirational Community Member Award
Each October, the Lighthouse honors one individual with the “Paula Bailey Inspirational Community Member Award.” This year there were nine outstanding nominees:

• Mycell Armington nominated by Chaplain Douglas L. Gingerich
• Sally Benjamin nominated by Elizabeth Bowden
• William Benjamin nominated by Frank Seidman & Shirley McEwan Moore
• Nancy Folsom nominated by Darla J. Rogers
• Cassandra Jesse nominated by the FSU Student Disability Resource Center
• Norine Labitzke nominated by Evelyn Worley
• Sila Miller nominated by Delores Wussler
• Evelyn Sewell nominated by Madrea Keeler
• Wanda Stokley nominated by Wendy Hoss

The judges had a challenge, narrowing it down between the amazing candidates, Representative Loranne Ausley announced the winner at the Dining in the Dark event, 10/19/08: William Benjamin! She presented him with a plaque in Braille, stating “2008 Paula Bailey Inspirational Community Member Award Presented to William Benjamin for Outstanding Contributions to the Community.”

William inherited retinitis pigmentosa and by the time he was a teen, was unable to read or discern colors. In college, he found he had an aptitude for piano tuning, graduated with the highest certification, and opened the Piano Boutique on Mahan Drive. William has been in business for himself ever since. Word of his expertise spread and William found himself tuning pianos for nationally renowned artists like Johnny Cash, Emmy Lou Harris, the Eagles and over 25 others. He not only tunes pianos, he dismantles, repairs, and renovates them by himself (along with tree houses!)

William has inspired the community through his lifetime of success as an independent, blind entrepreneur. He is also active on the Transportation Disadvantage Committee, is the volunteer grant writer with the Florida Council of the Blind and assists the American Council of the Blind, always willing to help with what needs to be done. He was recently elected President of the local Tallahassee Council of the Blind. Congratulations, William!

5. Top Ten Ways to Save $ for the Holidays
10. Bake holiday treats as gifts for your loved ones.
9. Use the comics as wrapping paper.
8. Don’t buy gift cards if the store may be going out of business.
7. In your family/group, draw names & each give to that person.
6. Raid your office/parent’s supply cabinet, wrap it up and give it back. (“Ooo! I love this brand—this is just what I use!”)
5. Switch to LED holiday lights (they use 90% less electricity.)
4. Agree to a price limit that everyone must stay under.
3. Make a homemade gift such as a certificate for a favor/chore, origami decoration, wall hanging, or personalized magnets.
2. Write a letter to each individual on your list, sharing your love.
1. Re-gift last year’s thing you didn’t want. But above all - have fun!


__________________________________________________________


AS WE SEE IT, Fall 2008, Lighthouse of the Big Bend Newsletter

Articles in this issue:
1. October 19th Dining in the Dark!
2. Thanks to our Dining in the Dark Silver Sponsors
3. Meet the Board: Sharyn Davidson
4. FIRE Hiring Transition Specialists
5. FAMU Architecture Students & FIRE Team Up to Design Facility for the Future
6. FSU Disability Awareness Week
7. Top 10 Ways to Prepare for a Hurricane

1. October 19th Dining in the Dark!
Please join us for the 4th Annual Paula Bailey “Dining in the Dark” event with Honorary Host Representative Loranne Ausley, on Sunday, October 19, from 5-8pm at the University Center Club. Served in total pitch black darkness, the dinner will be a unique experience into a world of smell, taste, sound & texture. Without vision, other senses become stimulated and conversation becomes more intimate. And if you are blind, this is a chance for your loved ones to experience for a few short hours what you live with every day.

The event begins with a reception, and this year we have added a raffle of fun-filled baskets; themes include kitchen treats, golf, original art, FSU, pampering yourself, dining out, gardening, eye care & much more. We are delighted to welcome back the Leon County Sheriff’s Office SWAT Team who will serve us dinner in the dark. After dinner, the lights come on and we will unveil our NEW agency name and logo designed by The Kidd Group. Lastly, the Paula Bailey “Inspirational Community Member” Award will be presented.

This event is named after Paula Bailey, a former FIRE client and Board member. She became blind and deaf in 1999 after an attack of meningitis, but regained her life and reached out to many others with her warmth and generosity. Paula was a founding member of the Dining in the Dark event and she passed away in 2005. This dinner is held, in part, to honor her brilliant spirit.

Tickets are on sale for $55 each or you can sponsor a ticket for someone who cannot afford to go. For more info, please check out www.firesight.org/DID.htm .

2. Thanks to our Dining in the Dark Silver Sponsors
Doug & Elizabeth Bailey
Glen & Sharon Davidson
Anne & Bill Hebrock
Patti Liles
Rose, Sundstrom & Bentley, LLP
Tallahassee Community College
Tallahassee Lions Club
University Center Club

3. Meet the Board: Sharyn Davidson
I am Sharyn Davidson and I have been a board member of FIRE for nearly one year. I originally came to know about FIRE and its work through my mother, Delores Wussler, when she lost what remained of her sight to retinitis pigmentosa (RP) in 1991. The FIRE staff helped her make the adjustment to blindness and taught her techniques which allowed her to continue living a full life, maintaining her independence.

I also have RP and have been coping with my gradual vision loss since I was diagnosed at the age of 16. Having spent many years fearing my own blindness, my mother’s successful adjustment to it, with the help of professionals at FIRE and the School for the Blind, spoke powerfully to me of the continuation of life after blindness. I became a client of FIRE two years ago when I became legally blind and sought some mobility training. Not only did my training with FIRE give me confidence that I can continue to function in spite of my loss, but I have been tremendously inspired by the other visually impaired people I have come to know through FIRE. They are people of incredible courage, fortitude and achievement, and I am honored to be associated with them and this organization.

My wonderfully supportive husband, Glen, and I met at FSU and have lived in Tallahassee for over 30 years. Glen was starting a local business when we met and I worked with him until we started our family. We are now the owners of PATLive, a telecommunications company.

Glen and I have four children, three of whom are now gone from home. Most of the recent years of my life have been spent raising our children and volunteering at school and church activities. We attend Wildwood Presbyterian Church, and my faith is an integral part of my life, providing guidance and sustenance for me on a daily basis.

With only one child left at home, I find myself with a great deal more time on my hands than I have known in a long time, and I have enjoyed indulging many of the interests which I had little time for in the past. We live on a farm just outside of Tallahassee with dogs, chickens, cows and horses. I love to be outside gardening or walking in the woods, as well as riding my horses. I also enjoy cooking and entertaining, as well as reading, although more of that is done on audio these days. I also revel in having all of my children home again on occasion.

In addition to my work with FIRE, Glen and I are very committed to the Foundation Fighting Blindness and its mission of funding research to find treatments and cures for degenerative retinal diseases. We are currently serving as co-chairs of the 1st annual VisionWalk in Tallahassee to be held at Maclay Gardens on November 1st. We are very optimistic about future treatments for many of the diseases which have brought me and numerous others to FIRE for assistance.

In the meantime, I am proud to be a part of this organization which provides such an important service in the lives of so many people.

4. FIRE Hiring Transition Specialists
FIRE is currently hiring two Transition Specialists to work with teens who are blind or severely visually impaired in the Big Bend. The first position is for a full-time Transition Specialist with salary & benefits. Full-time candidates MUST be eligible for TVI (Teacher of the Visually Impaired) certification. The second position is for a part-time Transition Specialist 20hr per wk, $18 per hour for teaching teens Orientation and Mobility AND/OR Assistive Technology. O&M instructors must have certification or be eligible for certification at the time of hire. To apply, please send a cover letter (required) & resume to FIRE, 1286 Cedar Center Drive, Tallahassee, FL 32301, fax to 942-4518 or email to fireinformation@earthlink.net; both job descriptions are on the web at www.firesight.org . Both positions close on 10/17/08.

5. FAMU Architecture Students & FIRE Team Up to Design Facility for the Future
Students in the FAMU School of Architecture have been given an exciting and important assignment: Design a facility where people who are blind or visually impaired can go to get the help they need to regain their independence. As you probably know, FIRE has out grown its current facility. In early August FIRE asked the faculty and students at FAMU School of Architecture for help designing a new facility and an unlikely partnership was formed.

“We knew what kind of facility the individuals we serve need, but we weren’t sure how to turn those needs into a practical, well designed structure,” said Barbara Ross, FIRE Executive Director.

The partnership was born earlier this summer when FIRE first contacted Rodney Wright, Dean of the School of Architecture. Wright loved the idea of students addressing a real-life community need and he quickly enlisted the help of Professor Valerie Goodwin, a practicing architect. Goodwin assigned the design of a facility for FIRE to students in her junior level summer class. The architectural students visited the existing FIRE location, met with staff and clients and learned about the needs of those with visual impairments. They then set out to design the perfect facility.

In all, seventeen (17) different designs were prepared. On August 8, the top four (4) designs were unveiled to representatives of FIRE’s Board and staff, as well as local architects. “I was amazed at how well these students captured the needs we had expressed and turned them into innovative building and site designs,” said Board Vice President Frank Seidman. “The designs provided not only practical and safe facilities, but through the use of texture, sound and even temperature variations, they provide a challenging learning environment in which independence can be regained.”

Frank continued, “They even include dog walks for guide dogs and an outdoor area for teaching recreational skills. Listening to the presentations, I was especially pleased with how the students threw themselves into the project. They put themselves in the position of our clients and looked at it from their point of view.”

6. FSU Disability Awareness Week
FSU’s Association for Creating Equality for Seminole Students (ACCESS), is celebrating progress toward equity with it’s 3rd Annual Disability Awareness Week. This year’s theme is "Reach One, Teach One." If one person is inspired by this event, that person can continue the reaching & teaching that can ultimately change attitudes and break down barriers. On 10/28, 11am, on the Moore Auditorium steps, President T.K Wetherell will kick off the event and Mr. James DeBeaugrine, the newly appointed Director for the Agency for Persons with Disabilities, will present the keynote speech. The events continue 10/28-29. For more info, visit http://union.fsu.edu/rso/access/events.html .

7. Top Ten Ways to Prepare for a Hurricane
10. Listen to NOAA weather radio obsessively.
9. Nail down anything in your yard that moves.
8. Buy 1,000 cans of spam, green beans and peaches.
7. Don’t forget the can OPENER.
6. Stock up on drugs (prescription) & first aid supplies.
5. Flooding likely? Buy a ladder to your roof or a boat.
4. Get a waterproof box & anchor for important papers.
3. Stash some extra cash in there, as well.
2. Stay away from all the flying glass & nails from #9.
1. Store a gazillion gallons of water for your pets, too!



__________________________________________________________

AS WE SEE IT
Summer 2008 FIRE Newsletter

Articles in this issue:
1. Choosing FIRE’s New Name
2. Save the Date! Dining in the Dark 10/19/08
3. Meet the Board: Norine Labitzke
5. Top Ten Funny Names for FIRE
6. Mobility Tips: Maintaining a Straight Line of Travel
7. Join the VIP Group!
8. Welcome, Summer Transition Class of 2008!

1. Choosing FIRE’s New Name
FIRE is currently going through a “branding” process (think name brand), part of which is choosing a name, slogan and logo. Thanks to everyone who submitted ideas for our new identity—we received 111 names and 70 slogans! The FIRE Board and Staff have already held several meetings full of lively debates with pro-bono assistance from The Kidd Group. But nothing is as simple as a democratic vote for us. With all of our diversity, we are nonetheless determined to reach consensus and find a catchy name that represents us all.

To share just one of the issues we have considered, we want to be inclusive of all our services and everyone we serve (babies, teenagers, college students, working adults and older adults), not to mention the many types of visual impairments. In our discussions, we realized that someone who has lost most or all their sight may be very comfortable with the word “blind.” However, someone who has just begun to lose their sight or has some useable vision may think our services are not for them if we only use the word blind. At the same time, we can’t only use words like “low vision” because we certainly do serve many who are completely blind. And since we want to have a name that is shorter than our current 13-word name… what an interesting challenge we have set for ourselves!

We are fortunate to have a dedicated team of Board and Staff members working on our new identity. Our goal is to have everything decided and ready to announce at the 2008 Dining in the Dark on October 19th, so we will share the rest of the story with you then!

2. Save the Date! Dining in the Dark 10/19/08
Make sure you mark you calendars for the 4th Annual Paula Bailey Dining in the Dark Benefit, Sunday, October 19, 2008, from 5-8pm at the University Center Club. We are excited to be adding a raffle to this years’ event, will once again have the “Inspirational Community Member” Award, and will conclude the evening with the announcement of the organization’s new name and logo! Tickets go on sale for $55 in August, but if you want to secure your seat now, sponsor a table for $600 or at a higher level. For more info, please check out www.firesight.org/DID.htm.

3. Meet the Board: Norine Labitzke
I am Norine Labitzke and am a Nurse Practitioner with certifications in Family Practice, Pediatrics, and Mental Health. One of the greatest losses I experienced when I suddenly lost my vision due to a stroke was the perceived loss of my career. The FIRE staff, and my dear friend, Linda Jones, assured me my career was not over and gave me the skills to return to nursing. I teach at FSU and do volunteer mental health counseling in disaster situations for the Red Cross.

I am the wife of a loving, caring husband, Dale. His encouragement and gentle but persistent pushing after my vision loss, and recent loss of the use of my legs due to MS, have enabled me to find a new life at every curve of the road. Because he would not let me be a recluse, I discovered FIRE and bright new ways to live without sight. He and FIRE encouraged me to keep on living both the life I once had, such as RV trips, other travel, and nursing, as well as enjoying the new opportunities that this change in my life could bring about.

From all this you now know that my experiences with FIRE have been positively life changing and life supporting. There isn’t a person there who hasn’t touched my life, but I have to give special thanks to four people: Jeanine Kane for teaching me independent living, Braille, advocacy, and many other skills; Jim Breen who patiently taught and nurtured me through relearning the computer with JAWS; Evelyn Worley who helped me progress from trying to find my way around with a fishing pole, to a white cane, and then with my guide dogs. Evelyn is currently helping me retrain my guide dog Princess, to work with me in a wheel chair. Finally, I cannot say enough for Barbara Ross, who has turned FIRE into an active, growing, community agency. I am currently serving my third term on the FIRE Board and working with Barbara has made me proud to be on the board and busier than ever keeping up with the Board’s ambitious goals for the growth of FIRE.

A fellow board member said one of the things he liked about “Meet the Board” was that he learned things he didn’t know about that person. On that note, I will share two little known things from my past with you. In the late 1950’s I was the Women’s Overall (tricks, slalom, and jumping), Master’s, National, North American, and International water ski champion and have been inducted in the Water Ski Hall of Fame. At the same time I also had my pilot’s license with multi-engine and instrument ratings, and flew a Cessna 310. Marriage and motherhood brought a new direction. I am the mother of four adult children. I have 4 ½ grandchildren – the oldest is 11 and the youngest is due in September.

My church, and faith, are significant aspects of my life. I belong to St. Peter’s Anglican Church and that offers many opportunities for learning, worshipping, volunteering in many roles, and interacting with others. Most of all my faith has given me the strength to keep moving forward after the loss of my vision, and the loss of my vision has given me new insight into my faith, and who and what is most important in my life.

Now, my hobby is knitting, and I am on the road to join the elite few with the designation of “Master Knitter.” I enjoy teaching other visually impaired persons to knit in a monthly group at FIRE. As long as the energizer bunny keeps my wheelchair batteries charged, and God, my family and friends keep my life batteries charged, I’ll keep rollin’ along.

5. Top Ten Funny Names for FIRE
10. No C Center
9. Eye Feel U
8. O&M, AT, IL, VR, EI Services
7. Blind Toys R Us
6. Vision in the House
5. Blind Sighted
4. Bumpy Stuff Store for the Optically Challenged
3. Textures, Sounds and Smells
2. 911 for Your Eyes
1. Blind Alliance Righteous Bureau And Rehab Agency

6. Mobility Tips: Maintaining a Straight Line of Travel
A fundamental component of successful independent travel is the ability to maintain a straight line of travel. Many basic orientation and mobility skills, such as grasp, cane position, arm position and arc width contribute to the traveler’s ability to maintain a straight line.

First, you need to hold your cane with your preferred grasp and finger position. Next, you position your cane hand at midline (think belly button). Your hand should remain at waist height.

When you begin moving, you should maintain the appropriate arc width to adequately cover your body. Arc width is the distance the traveler swings the cane from side to side. You should swing your cane with either your wrist or fingers, depending on the type of grasp being used. Utilizing the appropriate hand, wrist, and arm position will assure adequate body width coverage with the cane.

Once proper body form is achieved, align yourself as appropriate for the direction you intend to travel. As you move forward in space, your foot should stay “in step” with the cane tapping on the opposite side of your body. You should remain aware of your shoulder positioning as your body will tend to move towards the direction that your shoulders are pointed.

Once you master the skill of maintaining a straight line of travel, you will have the flexibility to travel in more varied environments. When you do not need to rely on shorelining to maintain a straight line, you will find that you can focus more on your route.

Do you have a question you’d like answered by our mobility experts? Send it in and it could be the subject of the next column! Write 1286 Cedar Center Dr, Tall, FL 32301 or email fireinformation@earthlink.net .

7. Join the VIP Group!
The VIP Group was begun last year for the purpose of offering a mingling time and activities for active visually impaired and blind people. VIP, the name chosen by the first attendees, was created so people could meet and share, support one another and discuss all kinds of topics, including living fully and vibrantly. The group also enjoys trying new things like drumming at Lake Ella, attending Sportsability or the Fair, having a potluck and playing adaptive games, and checking out the descriptive movie service at AMC 20.

It is my hope that the group continues to compassionately support those who attend and to foster friendship. Most importantly, it can be a pathway to greater independence for everyone, reaching for their goals to participate, joyfully for growth and success in living.

There will be two VIP events during the summer, one indoor activity and one outdoor adventure. Please stay tuned or call Eva at 942-3658 x 205 to put yourself on the phone call or email notification list.

8. Welcome, Summer Transition Class of 2008!
From 6/16-8/8, FIRE’s halls will be filled daily with teens learning how to ‘transition’ from living at home to being out in the world on their own—touring colleges, job sites, grocery shopping, cooking, & most of all, having fun while they learn!

__________________________________________________________


AS WE SEE IT
Spring 2008 FIRE Newsletter

Articles in this issue
1. Happy 25th Anniversary, FIRE!
2. Meet the Board: Lynda Breen
3. Welcome to FIRE’s Newest Staff - Amanda
4. Top 10 Ways to Display Your Independence
5. You are invited to SportsAbility April 18, 19 & 20
6. Mobility Tips: Navigating Stairs
7. Transportation Disadvantaged Day at the Capital
8. Saturday Drumming at Lake Ella by Scott Greenblatt


1. Happy 25th Anniversary, FIRE!
It has been twenty five years since FIRE opened its doors—congratulations to everyone who has made the agency what it is today, and all the amazing graduates who have gone through the program! Here are some thoughts from folks who have been associated with the organization over the years…

“I was one of the first clients to be served by FIRE in 1983. FIRE helped me to become and function in the big city. I thank FIRE for being here then, and now, and am grateful for all those who I can help as a Specialist working at FIRE. Thank you all for allowing me to serve you.” - Elizabeth Bowden

“FIRE gives courage to the discouraged, hope to the hopeless and independence and a new life to it's clients.” - Linda Mathis

“I have FIRE and its staff to thank for my return from depression into independence.” - Tinnetta Cooper

“Thank you, FIRE, for being there for me through the challenging times.” - Delores Wussler

"Without the help of my friends from FIRE, I never would have been able to manage life on my own through college. They've given me the tools I need to make my life enabled, not disabled." - Scott Greenblatt

“For 13 years FIRE has been integral to my personal & professional development.” - Norris Coster

“Thank you FIRE for always adapting to the needs of those we serve. Many years of continued services are wished.” - Wayne S. Warner


2. Meet the Board: Lynda Breen
I was born in Tallahassee, but raised all over the US as an “Air Force brat.” Since my father was from Tallahassee, we came back here every summer to spend time with relatives and at the beach. I loved it here, and when the time came to choose a college, I picked FSU. After graduation, I left for a short time before coming back and marrying my husband Jim (Breen). We lived in Atlanta and South Florida for a few years, but settled back here at the end of 1985.

In January of 1986, I began working at a law firm, where I am currently the office administrator. I also started searching for a way to involve myself in the community. Volunteer Tallahassee connected me with Independence for the Blind (IB). At the time, they had a reading program I was interested in. When I met with Claude Seale, the director of IB, he asked if I would also consider serving on the Board. For a number of years, I was honored to do both. I spent many a Saturday reading everything from Jehovah’s Witness materials to romance novels with Doug Smith running the tape machine and correcting my pronunciation! Serving on the Board was an entirely new experience for me, and one I found to be very rewarding.

After my time on the Board, my husband Jim was looking for a new career path, and he found it with IB, which a year or two later became FIRE. He was passionate about his clients, his computers and FIRE, right up to the very end of his life.

After Jim passed away in 2005, I very much wanted to continue my association with FIRE, and Barbara asked me to serve on the Dining in the Dark committee. Since that had been so near and dear to Jim’s heart, I was very excited to do so, and that led into my serving, once again, on the Board.

I just completed my first year on the Board, and am beginning my second year as Secretary. As with my previous experience, I’ve enjoyed working with the other Board members, and am continually amazed at all the staff of FIRE does each day in serving their clients. I am so very proud to be associated with such a wonderful group of people.

Outside of FIRE and my office, I spend many hours working in my gardens, and I swim or work out at Premiere. I’m always reading and after my nieces taught me how to work Sudoku puzzles, I became obsessed with those! And I can’t forget to mention “my girls” - my newly adopted kitties, Julie and Chloe, who delight me daily with their antics.


3. Welcome to FIRE’s Newest Staff – Amanda
A warm welcome to Amanda Bernath, hired in January as FIRE’s new Early Intervention and Orientation and Mobility Specialist. Amanda received her bachelor’s degree in Visual Disabilities from FSU and will complete her Master’s degree in Visual Disabilities, at FSU in April 2008. She recently married in early January and spends most of her spare time settling into her new home, spending time with her new husband & step-children, and meeting new neighbors thanks to her escape-artist dog. Amanda is very happy to have found a home at FIRE and is excited about the opportunity to work in both the EEI and O&M programs.


4. Top Ten Ways to Display Your Independence

10. Travel around your community under your own power by walking or wheeling, showing off your excellent orientation and mobility skills.
9. Grocery shop, gather or grow your own food.
8. Check for necessities before you go to the bathroom.
7. Owe no one.
6. Take notes during your meetings &/or classes.
5. Chase your guide dog through an agility course.
4. Generate your own electricity.
3. Choose your mate based on your own opinion and shoot an apple off his/her head.
2. Advocate for your rights and vote.
1. Volunteer and get involved in your community.


5. You are invited to SportsAbility April 18, 19 & 20
SportsAbility is the premier event of the Florida Disabled Outdoors Association (FDOA). This event is about enhancing the lives of people with disabilities by promoting active living. SportsAbility provides first hand access to resources and demonstrations of activities designed to encourage participation regardless of age or ability level.

People who attend SportsAbility learn about the value of recreation and active leisure for everyone – especially people with disabilities. People discover the latest in equipment, trends, and resources. This event provides an opportunity for people to network with people with disabilities, resource providers, and community organizations. There is NO CHARGE to participants thanks to our generous sponsors.

RESOURCE EXPO AND INDOOR ACTIVITIES
Friday, April 18, 2008, 10am - 3pm
Location: TCC Lifetime Sports Complex

OUTDOORS DAY
Saturday, April 19, 2008, 10am - 3pm
Location: Ochlochonee River State Park

Power Soccer Clinic - Sunday, April 20, 2008, 1-4pm
Location: Temple Israel at 2215 Mahan Drive
1-2pm - Free Power Soccer Clinic - Open to Everyone!
2-3pm - Power Soccer Game
3-4pm - Interactive Play between Audience and Power Soccer Teams

SportsAbility is much more than fun. It is a wonderful occasion to help educate the public about the importance of physical activity and about recreational opportunities while also providing valuable information of other important community resources available to people, including those with disabilities.

For more information, please visit the FDOA website at http://fdoa.org/sportsability.htm, email info@fdoa.org or call 668 -7323 or 201-2944.


6. Mobility Tips: Navigating Stairs
For many cane travelers, the idea of navigating stairs stirs up feelings of fear, or at least a bit of anxiety. Here are a few tips that will increase your safety and confidence when navigating stairs, and may also be useful for dealing with curbs. Consider using the constant contact (sliding) technique with your cane when approaching stairs. It will provide you with detailed information about your surroundings.

Once the cane has located the first step, keep the cane against the edge of it. Then, walk up to the cane. This will place you close to the step, in a position to go when you are ready. It also makes it unnecessary to search the area excessively with your feet.

Keep the cane against the edge of the first step and slide it side to side. This can help you locate a railing and it will let you know if you are lined up properly to begin traveling. It can also alert you if there is a drop-off to the side of the stairs. When ascending, shorten the length of the cane by sliding your hand down the grip and press the cane against the edge of the step ahead of you. This will put the cane in a position to “pop” up to the next step as you move up. Keep your center of balance forward.

When descending, make your cane long by sliding your hand to the top of the grip and keep your center of balance back. Position the cane one step ahead of you as you move to avoid entanglement with your feet.

When your cane reaches the landing, you have one more step with your feet. Always “sweep” the landing in front of you before moving forward. This will alert you to any additional stairs or obstacles.

For more detailed instruction on navigating stairs, please feel free to contact Evelyn at extension 203.


7. Transportation Disadvantaged Day at the Capital
The 2008 Annual Transportation Disadvantaged Legislative Day at the Capitol will take place on Thursday, March 6th. This year’s theme, “TD - The difference between life and living”, will reflect on the great difference the TD program makes on every rider’s quality of life. Consumers stories will go on posters that will be placed around the courtyard for all to see. It is hoped that these stories will assist in the continuing efforts to provide this life-sustaining service and help impact the Legislative decisions regarding the TD program and it’s funding. If you have any questions please contact Joel Perez at Joel.Perez@dot.state.fl.us or phone (850) 410-570. The toll free helpline is 1(800)983-2435.


8. Saturday Drumming at Lake Ella by Scott Greenblatt
There is a new Drumming Circle at Lake Ella which has met the past several weekends. It's been a great deal of fun to be out there in the open air, under the gazebo, allowing my hands to tap out the stress I've built up in the past week. I'd forgotten how much fun it is to join in on such a free-flow style jam session. So far the circle has been small, just Cassandra, Emmanuel, Sila and myself, but we're hoping that more of you will take the time to visit with us during the 2-5pm three hour time slot we're out there.

Emmanuel is the most studied among us in terms of music and he occasionally gives us tips to help us each play together in a more unified way. We share instruments among us so that each of us gets the opportunity to try out how to make another instrument sing. There are always additional instruments lying around for newcomers to use to join in with us whenever they arrive.

Our would-be performances, which are anything but actual organized performances, have become a popular attraction to people walking around the lake; we're always being approached by passers by who stop and listen to our music as well as joining in from time to time. The interactions with all of the passers-by give us the chance to take a break and pass on our instruments for them to try out, if we like, or just a chance to help inspire others who might feel the rhythm in their soul but who are hesitant to let it flow out their hands.

Right now it's the intention of the group to be out there each weekend to try to start up a dependable stress relieving diversion on Saturday afternoons, weather permitting. Everyone is welcome and encouraged to come around whether or not you have an instrument to play, want to play, or just sit around with us and enjoy the music.

I hope you can make the necessary scheduling accommodations to come around and have some stress-free fun with our funky rhythm. We hope you can all make it and help us bring the magic to life.



__________________________________________________________


AS WE SEE IT
Winter 2007-08 FIRE Newsletter

Articles in this issue:
1. 2nd Vision Summit: January 8, 2008
2. Meet the Board: Norris Coster
3. Dining in the Dark Success
4. THANK YOU Dining in the Dark Sponsors
5. Top 10 Holiday Wishes from FIRE
6. Outstanding Rehabilitation Professional Award goes to FIRE’s Own Evelyn Worley
7. New Saturday Independent Living Class


1. 2nd Vision Summit: January 8, 2008
The second annual Florida Vision Summit will be held in the Senate Chambers at the State Capitol from 8:30AM to Noon on Tuesday, January 8, 2008. The Summit will be followed by a luncheon in the 4th floor Rotunda. Both are free and open to the public.

The Summit is co-hosted by the Vision Caucus of the Florida Legislature and the Florida Association of Agencies Serving the Blind (FAASB). State Representative Loranne Ausley (D-Tallahassee), who serves as Chair of the 24 member Vision Caucus and is the parent of a visually impaired child, called the annual Summit, "a critical discussion of the vision-related issues that will eventually affect more than 50% of all Floridians."

"The Vision Summit covers the full spectrum of concerns, from preventing vision loss to living a full life with impaired vision," adds FAASB Chair Robert Kelly. He noted, "The Vision Summit is the most important annual meeting of State leaders, vision experts, and the blind. We meet to raise public awareness of the growing incidence of vision loss among Floridians and to work with State leaders in addressing these issues that affect the lives of so many Floridians."

Summit Speakers will include representatives of Bascom Palmer Eye Institute, Blinded Veterans’ Association, FAASB, FL Council of the Blind, FL Families of Children with Visual Impairment, FL Optometric Association, FL Society of Ophthalmology, National Federation of the Blind, Prevent Blindness America, Professional Opticians of FL, and numerous State leaders.


2. Meet the Board: Norris Coster
My story begins right here in Tallahassee where I was born. Starting from year one, I had surgery on my eyes to remove cataracts. Moving through 1st, 2nd & 3rd grades were a challenge as my vision worsened.

My strong family support was a key element in my personal development and finding my independence. We made many trips to Shands Hospital for treatments to prevent pressure from rising in my eyes, as the doctors tried to save what little vision I had. Nevertheless, the dreaded day came when my sight was gone. Glaucoma stopped me dead in my tracks or so it seemed. In between hospital trips my TVI Carol Kline had already started teaching me Braille. Thankfully, special people like Nancy Ruben and Susan Babcock played a pivotal role in instructing me in proper cane techniques. I mastered crossing streets, catching buses, all over town! I’m afraid however, my mother wasn’t too excited letting her blind son cross dangerous Tallahassee streets.

Fifth grade was probably one of the hardest decisions I had to make. Although I excelled in Braille and Mobility, I’d fallen behind in my academic classes. Maybe I knew it was time to make the next step up the independence ladder, so I left Tallahassee for school in St. Augustine, at the Florida School for the Deaf and Blind.

While attending school in St. Augustine, I met people who were going through vision loss on various levels, and felt a sense of togetherness. My educational, interpersonal, and daily living skills improved. I graduated in 1990 which was a great achievement to me. The next four years after graduation I went to college and the Rehab Center in Daytona Beach Florida enrolled in vending. Going back in my mind, life was setting me up like pool, “eight ball in the side pocket!”

I returned to Tallahassee and counselor Calvert Durden with Division of Blind Services spoke of an agency called Independence for the Blind (now FIRE). Having no idea of what to do, I enrolled to build skills to become more employable. Evelyn Worley, Mobility Instructor, re-introduced me to Tallahassee. Staff also helped me with assistive technologies like computers, applications for speech such as JAWS, and a work experience as receptionist. With all this exposure, how could I lose?

Ultimately, I was hired with the Florida Department of Health, and I give thanks to IB/FIRE and associates fighting to bring equality for visual impaired people. Independence for the Blind would later change its name to FIRE. No matter the name, FIRE continues to provide excellent services to the community.

In closing, I’m proud of my association with FIRE. From starting as a client to becoming a board member in January 2006, I have had opportunities to give back to the organization that helped me. 2008 will be interesting for me as the newly elected FIRE Board President; I along with wonderful board members will keep FIRE’S light burning bright. Whether board, staff or clients, we all function as an invaluable unit.


3. DINING IN THE DARK SUCCESS!
A sold-out crowd attended the 3rd Annual Paula Bailey Dining in the Dark fundraiser for FIRE on 10/14/07. The evening’s reception was hosted by Fire Chief Cindy Dick. After the reception, diners made their way up to the ballroom where they were guided through the dark to their table, led by volunteers who are blind. As people were seated, they were treated to the sounds of the Capital City Chordsmen Barbershop Quartet. During the dinner of filet mignon and grouper, a guest at each table received a door prize in the dark – free dance lessons for a month from “Dance ‘Til It Burns.”

The Leon County Sheriff’s Office SWAT Team again volunteered their time to serve dinner to the 309 guests utilizing their night vision goggles. UCC staff also had the challenge of learning to use the five sets of goggles loaned especially for the event by Rigel Optics.

Sergeant Charlie Strickland said, "This gives the guys good training working with their night vision. At one point I was carrying two desserts which I could see clearly, but when I looked up I couldn't see a thing 10 feet in front of me because my goggles were focused at arms length. Normally in a training exercise we can hold on to a weapon with one hand and reach up and focus the goggles with the other. This gives us more experience dealing with real life situations."

After dinner, the lights came up as Board President Frank Seidman presented the “Paula Bailey Inspirational Community Member” award. Both the event and award are named in honor of Paula Bailey, a former FIRE client and Board member who was an inspiration to the community. She became blind and deaf in 1999 after an attack of meningitis, but regained her independence and reached out to many with her warmth and generosity. She passed away in April 2005, but her memory lives on in this event she was part of creating.

The winner of this year’s award, Barbara Kiger, was in tears as she approached the podium to receive a plaque in Braille from Fire Chief Cindy Dick. “Those of you that know me, know I am never speechless… but thank you. Just thank you.” Kiger became totally blind in 1985, due to a reaction to medication. Among her many inspirational accomplishments, she published a mystery novel, “Payback,” served as a spokesperson for FIRE in last year’s United Way campaign, and is currently the President of the Pensacola/Tallahassee Diocesan Council for Catholic Women.

As the evening came to a close, FIRE Executive Director Barbara Ross said, “If you take one message away tonight, know that being blind does not mean being helpless.”

A huge thank you goes out to everyone who supported this event - $27,695 in funds were raised to support FIRE’s services for individuals who are blind.


4. THANK YOU Dining in the Dark SPONSORS!

Doug & Elizabeth Bailey
Dance ‘til It Burns
Fishback Family
Community Fund
Leon County Sheriff’s Office SWAT Team
Patti Liles
Mainline Information Systems
Nature Coast Eye Care Institute
Rigel Optics, Inc.
Rose, Sundstrom & Bentley, LLP
Tallahassee Community College
Tallahassee Council of the Blind
Tallahassee Lion’s Club
University Center Club


5. Top Ten Holiday Wishes from FIRE
10. For everyone reading this to buy “A State of Vision” specialty license plate.
9. A new 4,500 square foot building on the bus route.
8. Our very own 15 passenger hybrid van.
7. Every Eye Doctor in the Big Bend to refer to FIRE.
6. Gas vouchers for a year.
5. Transportation “petty cash” for clients in the outlying counties to come to classes at FIRE.
4. Every pediatrician in the Big Bend to refer to FIRE.
3. Speech software for clients (Window Eyes, JAWS).
2. High quality talking or tactile watches for everyone.
1. Give a loved one “A State of Vision” gift certificate!


6. Outstanding Rehabilitation Professional Award goes to FIRE’s Own Evelyn Worley!
Congratulations to Evelyn Worley, FIRE Assistant Director, for winning this year’s award for Outstanding Rehabilitation Professional for the Blind on November 28 at the FAER Conference. Evelyn has worked at FIRE since August of 1988 (nineteen years!). While working at FIRE, Evelyn earned her Masters degree in Visual Disabilities and obtained her Certification in both Vision Rehabilitation Therapy and Orientation and Mobility. In this role she has assisted countless numbers of college students, homemakers, business employees and senior citizens regain their freedom of movement and thereby, their independence. Evelyn also successfully advocates for pedestrian safety with local government officials. Thank you for all your hard work & dedication, Evelyn—you so deserve this award and more!


7. NEW SATURDAY INDEPENDENT LIVING CLASS!
Are you (or someone you know who is visually impaired) interested in joining an Independent Living class, but can’t attend on weekdays? This January through March 2008, Jeanine Kane will be holding her famous “IL” class on Saturdays. FIRE’s independent living classes are tailored for the students in the class, but generally cover topics such as methods for writing, reading, clothing identification, sewing, food identification, dialing a phone, finding phone numbers, using tools, and much more. Students will also get to learn new cooking techniques and recipes by preparing lunch together. If you might be interested in joining, please come to an orientation to discuss the class, what you will be learning, and meet potential classmates.
When? Saturday, December 8th, 10am – 2pm
What? Information on new Saturday Independent Living Class beginning in January 2008 for twelve weeks; Light lunch provided
Where? FIRE, 1286 Cedar Center Drive, Tallahassee, FL
Need more info? Call Jeanine Kane, CVRT at 942-3658 extension 215 or email jeaninek@earthlink.net




__________________________________________________________

AS WE SEE IT
Fall 2007 FIRE Newsletter

Articles in this issue:
1. Dining in the Dark is Back!
2. Meet the Board: Dr. Susan Whaley
3. New Fall Classes at FIRE — Join Us!
4. FSU Disability Awareness Week
5. Rally in Tally: TCB Tandem Bike Ride
6. Disability Employment Awareness
7. Top Ten Ways to Tell Summer is Coming to a Close in Tallahassee
8. Great Opportunity for Volunteers


1. Dining in the Dark is Back (and SOLD OUT!!!)
On Sunday, October 14, from 5-8pm, FIRE is holding the 3rd Annual Paula Bailey Dining in the Dark Benefit at the University Center Club! We are thrilled to have honorary host Fire Chief Cindy Dick joining us. There will be several new experiences for guests including the Capital Chordsmen Quartet serenading us in the pitch black ballroom before dinner begins.

At the reception, a training will assist guests in learning how to walk, sit down and eat in the dark… just as FIRE clients learn every day. The dinner will be an entirely new gourmet three-course surprise, to be explored with your senses of smell, taste and texture. The Leon County Sheriff’s Office SWAT Team will be waiting on diners with their night vision goggles, making this the most secure dinner in Leon County.

As the evening progresses, a door prize will be won by someone at every table. After desert is served, the lights will slowly come on, and the Paula Bailey Inspirational Community Member Award will be presented. Each guest will also be “awarded” a small token to prove you successfully dined in the dark. We hope to show diners that functioning without vision is entirely doable. FIRE believes you can do just about anything without sight except drive (and there are a few folks who are blind who have even done that!).

Tickets are on sale for $50 each, or a reserved table of eight is $500. Just contact Barbara at 942-3658 x 201 or fireinformation@earthlink.net to support FIRE!

THANK YOU TO FIRE’S SPONSORS!
Doug & Elizabeth Bailey
Dance ‘til It Burns
Fishback Family Community Fund
Leon County Sheriff’s Office SWAT Team
Patti Liles
Mainline Information Systems
Nature Coast Eye Care Institute
Rigel Optics, Inc.
Rose, Sundstrom & Bentley, LLP
Tallahassee Community College
Tallahassee Council of the Blind
Tallahassee Lions Club
University Center Club


2. Meet the Board: Dr. Susan Whaley
I am Dr. Susan Whaley, an optometrist serving on the Board of FIRE since September 2005. I have been an optometrist for over 14 years and have practiced in Tallahassee for the past 7 years. My practice, Tallahassee Eye Center, is a private primary care optometric practice offering comprehensive eye examinations for adults and children, contact lens fittings (including “difficult” fits), treatment and management of eye diseases including cataracts, glaucoma, macular degeneration, “pink-eye”, etc., and low vision.

Our practice also opened a low vision “store” called Magnifiers & More in the fall of 2006 to help provide low vision products such as hand-held magnifiers, electronic devices such as CCTV and Amigo, and non-optical aids such as talking watches, bold-lined paper, check writing guides and other items to the community. So, of course, my low vision specialty is how I became affiliated with FIRE.

During my years of practice in Orlando, my partner and I were considered the low vision “experts” in the greater Orlando area and received referrals from nearly all of the retinal specialists and general optometrists and ophthalmologists in the area. We also examined patients at the request of the Division of Blind Services and worked closely with the Lighthouse of Central Florida, often lecturing several times a year.

When I moved to Tallahassee in 2000, I began to research the low vision providers and resources and discovered FIRE. As my Tallahassee Eye Center low vision practice has grown over the years, I have referred many patients to FIRE for assistance and have been very impressed with the services provided. When I was approached with the opportunity to become a member of the Board, I agreed immediately.

In my life outside of optometry, I have a wonderful husband, Brian, a 10 year old daughter, and a 7 year old son. I am active in my church, Wildwood Presbyterian, and enjoy singing on the praise team, playing flute in the orchestra, helping with the children’s choir and various other volunteering. Like most other moms of elementary age children, I spend lots of time in my “mom-mobile”, bringing my children to various activities that they are involved in. I am also very active in numerous optometric organizations and the Tallahassee Chamber of Commerce. One of these days, I’ll learn how to slow down a bit and not take on quite so many activities, but for now, I’ll continue to enjoy every minute of it!


3. New Fall Classes at FIRE — Join Us!
~ Crochet/Knitting Group ~
Several people have expressed a desire to begin a monthly group at FIRE to get together and crochet or knit. A couple of experienced pros have offered to help those who haven’t done needlecrafts lately to get back into it. If you aren’t sure you can knit or crochet again, what we say about activities like this is you have “muscle memory”, like the old cliché of riding a bike. Once you learn it, it can come back to you and you can RE-learn how to do it by feel, with limited or no vision interested is welcome to the introductory meeting11/14.

~ Independent Living Skills Class ~
This class covers it all, and then some, and it’s lots of fun! These groups are so lively because it's great to be a part of the sharing with each other and the learning together. It’s an opportunity to learn all you ever wanted to know about resources available and about adaptive aids and techniques for coping with vision loss. You get to make your own lunch. A new weekly group is scheduled to begin on October 9th, from 9:30am – 2:30pm, for 11 consecutive sessions.

If you are interested in either class, please call Jeanine Kane at 942-3658 x 215. Jeanine is a Certified Vision Rehabilitation Therapist and has been with FIRE for 14 years. More classes are listed below, as well. Feel free to call-3658 about any of them!

Beginning Braille Class: every Thursday, 10am—2:30pm
Computer Class: 1st Friday of each month, 10:30am—2:30pm
Dog Guide Group: 3rd Thursday of each month, 5:30-7pm
Family Support Group: 3rd Monday of each month, 6-7:30pm
Independent Living Class: Starts 10/9, every Tuesday, 9:30am-2:30pm
Job Club: 2nd and 4th Fridays, 9am-12pm
Octopus Club Support Group: 1st Wednesday of each month, 1-3pm
Phone Chat: 2nd Monday, 10-11am (1-888-296-6500 code: 150283)
Transition Group for Teens: twice a week, 4-7pm (see calendar)
VIP Group Outings: 3rd Saturdays, times vary (see calendar)


4. FSU Disability Awareness Week
The FSU student group “Access” is hosting the 2007 FSU Disability Awareness Week, October 29 through November 1. All events will be held in the FSU Student Union Ballroom, Room T201 Oglesby Union. The week is focused to let people know what Access is all about and display the talents and abilities of persons with disabilities. Access advocates and voices concerns about issues and resources that can positively or negatively impact students’ ability to successfully complete their degrees. The week’s events include:

Monday, 10/29
12-3pm Kick off & Forum
7-10pm Dance

Tuesday, 10/30
9am-12pm Agency Forum
1-3pm Performance
7-9:30pm Movie Night

Wednesday, 10/31
9am-12pm Health Fair
1-4pm Simulation Games

Thursday, 11/1
12-2pm BBQ Lunch
7–9pm Talent Showcase

For more information, please contact Cassandra Jesse at cdj06c@fsu.edu (preferred) or 980-0398.


5. Rally in Tally: TCB Tandem Bike Ride
You are invited to join the Tallahassee Council of the Blind on Saturday, October 27 at 7:30am for the 3rd Annual Rally in Tally! Everyone participating in the bike ride will meet at the Upper level Sears & drive to Newport Campgrounds for a light breakfast. The ride is 22 miles total (or less if you want) to the St. Marks Lighthouse and ends with a spaghetti lunch. $15 registration is due by 10/22 which includes a t-shirt. For more info contact Mycell Armington at 591-3337.


6. Disability Employment Awareness
The Able Trust, Agency for Persons with Disabilities and the Florida Division of Vocational Rehabilitation have joined together to host the 2007 Disability Employment Awareness Celebration! The event will take place 10/9, 9-11am at the Tallahassee City Hall. FIRE will participate as an exhibitor, and everyone is invited.


7. Top Ten Ways to Tell Summer is Coming to a Close in Tallahassee
10. Football begins
9. Butterflies and birds head south except for the Canadian Geese on Blairstone that are fed daily
8. The mornings are slightly cooler with less humidity
7. Halloween candy reappears
6. West Tennessee street is repopulated with college students (sometimes intoxicated)
5. Hurricane season gets closer to ending
4. People start burning their leaves
3. Traffic becomes terrible again
2. Stores start their Christmas sales
1. People realize their New Year resolution to lose weight for summer will have to be resolved next year


8. Great Opportunity for Volunteers
For those of you who are looking for an opportunity to be a part of FIRE’s volunteer program, the time is now! Our hope is that if you have experience using assistive technology, you can put your expert knowledge to great use by volunteering in FIRE’s Computer Lab. If you have a general familiarity of the computer and like to assist others, this volunteer position would allow you to help others in the lab to use the computers and other assistive technology. There will be two training sessions: October 25, from 3:30 to 5pm, or October 30 from 6:00 to 7:30pm. If you would like to become a volunteer in the Computer Lab, please contact Toni King at 942-3658 Ext: 204 or toniking@earthlink.net .

FIRE’s Employment Computer Lab Hours
Tuesdays: 12:30 - 4:30pm
Wednesdays: 12:30 - 4:30pm
Thursdays: 11am - 4:30pm
Fridays: 9am - 4:30pm



__________________________________________________________

AS WE SEE IT
FIRE Newsletter, Summer 2007

Articles in this issue:
1. New Early Intervention Program!
2. Meet the Board: Calvert Durden, “A Little Touch of History”
3. Words from the Mouths of Teens
4. Radio Reading Service Needs You!
5. Top 10 Reasons to Label Your Household Items
6. Congratulations to Madrea Keeler!
7. Teen Car Wash - HUGE Success
8. Get Published in “As We See It”


1. New Early Intervention Program!
FIRE is thrilled to share that due to a contract with the Division of Blind Services, FIRE will now be offering services to children age 0 to 6. As of July 1, 2007, Jennifer Crowder will become FIRE’s full-time Early Intervention Specialist. For a few of you this will not be a change, as she may have already been working with your child through the Florida School for the Deaf & Blind.

Jennifer has been working with children for the last three years. She is a Certified Teacher of the Visually Impaired, Orientation and Mobility Specialist and has specialized trainings (VIISA and INSITE) for this population under her belt. She is working on becoming an Early Steps Infant Toddler Developmental Specialist, as well—we are fortunate to have such a highly qualified staff member and she is hitting the ground running.

Services that will be offered include assisting children that are blind or visually impaired in all areas of child development such as communicative, orientation and mobility, daily living, sensory and motor, and cognitive development. Services will also focus on determining parental concerns and priorities, providing information to the child’s family members and encouraging families to become actively involved in their child’s development. In addition to individual sessions, FIRE will offer a monthly support group for family members while the children have a play group.

If you or any family you know of is interested, please call Jennifer Crowder at 942-3658 or email jennifercrowder@earthlink.net.


2. Meet the Board: Calvert Durden, “A Little Touch of History”

In the beginning, before there was FIRE, there was the Rural Center for Independent Living. If my memory serves me correctly, our doors opened January, 1981, located under the school board of Gadsden County. This happened due to my successful work with getting adult basic education classes started in Gadsden. These classes were beneficial as an important means of getting services to clients needing on-going education and independent living services. I hope that all agencies concerned will see the benefits of these community based programs and get some going again. Sometimes we must look to our past to make progress. These programs were progress in those days, and getting what is now FIRE started back then was nothing but tremendous progress.

I am totally blind, but for about half of my life I had 20/800 vision in my left eye. I have been a Braille user since age seven. I am also hearing impaired which has required hearing aids for both ears. I am currently attempting to upgrade my aids so that I can hear better.

I am currently serving on the FIRE Board for my second term as Vice President. While on the board for the past seven years I also served as President. Due to term limits, I will have to leave the board in November. I am proud of all that the board and staff have accomplished during my period of leadership. As board members, we get to experience the outcomes of all that we do through the work carried out by the staff. Although I will be leaving, I hope to continue to have time to serve on special committees such as Dining in the Dark and our facility subcommittee. We are growing, adding new programs to serve younger clients.

By now you should have concluded that I have been around a long time. I will be leaving, but I will stay involved. I will continue to be an advocate for our ongoing transportation services by serving on the Leon County Transportation Disadvantaged Board. My hope is to remain active with the Local and Statewide Florida Christian Fellowship of the Blind. I also hope to become active in the Florida Council of the Blind as I once was just a few years ago.

While around home, I have to figure out who loves me most, my daughter, Nyisha, or my wife, Latasha. This will take a real long time. I will continue to enjoy reading, keeping up with current events, and staying active with community issues that concern us all.


3. Words from the Mouths of Teens
By Shanterria Williams and Breonna Willis

We, the high school summer transition students at FIRE, have learned an incredible amount this summer. We did not expect learning to be this much fun!

FIRE has introduced us to numerous activities and experiences. We toured a radio station, several museums, and visited the Florida Supreme Court. We also had a tour of Florida State University. Something new we didn’t know was that FSU has a place for visually impaired students, the Student Disability Resource Center (SDRC). This is where people with any kind of disabilities can go if they need any accommodations in dealing with their classes. We have also practiced tasks such as cooking, cleaning, shopping, comparing prices, and washing cars.

Some of us came to the summer program thinking, “We are blind. What can we do well?” Our confidence has increased. Our three teachers, Ms. Jennifer, Ms. Shannon, and Ms. Sam allowed us to prove the statement, “You can do anything you put your mind to.” They are helping us become more independent and are teaching us that we are able to do everything that people without visual impairments can do. It has boosted everyone’s self esteem. We believe that we are not helpless, as some might think, and that we are just like you who are reading this. We appreciate them for everything.


4. Radio Reading Service Needs You!
Radio Reading Service volunteers read news and other information over a sub-channel received by special radios. The Florida Department of Education-funded program provides these radios free to qualified individuals.

We're looking for listeners -- those who are eligible for the program and are not getting the information they want and need due to their disability. Contact the Radio Reading Service, 1600 Red Barber Plaza, Tallahassee, FL 32310, 850-487-3086 extension 366, toll-free 800-829-8809 or reading@wfsu.org for a receiver application. Please include your address (and ZIP) and phone number in your message.

We are also looking for readers. To become a volunteer-reader, you audition and, if successful, observe, train and start as a substitute reader with a partner. You can then move into a regular slot of one or two hours a week as spaces become available. The service runs seven days a week. Join us for this challenging and rewarding opportunity. Call 850-487-3086 extension 366 or email reading@wfsu.org for an information packet. Don’t forget to include your address (and ZIP) and phone number in your message.

Interested in more information? Check out the WFSU-FM Radio Reading Service web site at www.wfsu.org.


5. Top Ten Reasons to Label Your Household Items

10. So you don’t put salt in your coffee
9. Prevent pouring orange juice on your cereal
8. Escape making “Mexican cheese” lasagna
7. Spare your skin from applying bubble bath as lotion
6. Stop from putting Ovaltine on top of casseroles
5. So you don’t make congealed salad out of pudding
4. Quit pouring soup in your spaghetti
3. Stop making “burning hot” meatloaf with sausage
2. Avoid brushing your teeth with Preparation H
1. Pass up serving “cat food” tuna salad


6. Congratulations to Madrea Keeler!
Some great news about a friend of FIRE! Madrea Keeler, a renowned local artist, submitted one of her paintings to the American Printing House for the Blind. APH publishes a Braille calendar featuring artwork by individuals who are visually impaired or blind. Madrea’s piece was selected as one of twelve to appear on their 2008 calendar! Madrea shared that she became legally blind 2 years ago as a result of macular degeneration. She had always been a detailed artist and was so devastated that she stopped painting for a period. With the encouragement of friends and the support of FIRE and DBS, she started painting again. She says that her style has changed but the painting continues. The calendars will be on sale in November through the Tallahassee Council of the Blind. Way to go Madrea!!!


7. Teen Car Wash - HUGE Success
Thanks to everyone who came out for the Summer Transition Program car wash. The eight students earned $314 and are planning their end of the summer adventure! This was in part due to volunteer Lynn Evans passing out fliers… and reportedly only setting off one car alarm in the process. Thanks also to ABC Channel 27 and NPR 89.9 for covering the event.


8. Get Published in “As We See It”
Have something you’d like to write about? Want to share an experience or opinion? Please submit articles by email to: fireinformation@earthlink.net .


__________________________________________________________

AS WE SEE IT
FIRE Newsletter, Spring 2007


Articles in this issue:
1. State of Vision License Tag is HERE!
2. Meet the Board: Evelyn Sewell
3. Legislative Vision Summit a Success
4. SportsAbility Expo 2007 Tallahassee April 13-14
5. FCB Convention May 17-20, 2007
6. Top 5 Reasons (twice!)
7. Teens! Join Jennifer for Summer Fun
8. New Lab Drop-In Hours
9. FIRE Spring Cleaning Day April 28


1. State of Vision License Tag is HERE!
On February 8, Rep. Loranne Ausley was the first motorist in Leon County to buy the 'A State of Vision' specialty license plate. “This is a great day for the state of Florida and a great day for people who are blind or visually impaired,” Rep. Ausley said as she accepted the tag from Leon County Tax Collector Doris Maloy.

The specialty license plate, “A State of Vision,” portrays a shining lighthouse (on the left side of the tag) emerging from blue water with a colorful sunset in the background.

Each tag costs $25, which will go to the Association of Agencies Serving the Blind (FAASB). FAASB will then distribute the funds to the agency serving your area. For the 11 counties in the Big Bend, this will be FIRE. In addition to raising much-needed money, the tags will also increase awareness about visual impairments.

FIRE’s Executive Director, Barbara Ross, exclaimed, “I already have one on my car!” and hopes others will join her in purchasing the new license plate.


2. Meet the Board: Evelyn Sewell
I was born in Columbia, Mississippi. After I graduated from the University of Southern Mississippi with a B.S. degree in accounting, I went to live and work as an Accountant in New Orleans. I married my husband had two daughters in New Orleans.

Then in 1970 the family moved to Jacksonville, FL where my husband and I began working for the State of Florida. I worked a various accounting related positions for the State until I retired on February 28, 2001. My last position was the Chief of Fiscal Services at the Florida Public Service Commission. I worked for the Commission for 22 years, and was involved in preparation of financial statements, collection of revenues, cash management, budget preparation, and general accounting analysis.

Today, my two daughters are married. The oldest daughter lives in Texas. She is married to an Air Force Pilot and they have my two grandsons. I visit them as often as I can. My youngest daughter lives with her husband in Tallahassee & works as an insurance agent.
In my spare time, I like to travel. I also enjoy listening to books on tape. I love a good mystery. I find that life is a mystery, and I keep trying to solve it.

Serving on the FIRE Board and being elected to be the Treasurer is a great honor for me. I think that I will be able to put my years of experience to use in this role.

Also, as facilitator for the support groups, OCTOPUS and the Telephone Group, I would like to invite individuals to join us on the first Wednesday of each month at FIRE from 1-3pm for the OCTOPUS meeting and call in on the toll-free phone number on the second Monday of each month from 10am to 11am. On 3/12, 4/9, or 5/14, just dial 1(888)296-6500 and enter code 150283#. Reservations are NOT required!


3. Legislative Vision Summit a Success
The Florida Association of Agencies Serving the Blind (FAASB) and the Vision Caucus in the Florida Legislature held the 1st Annual Florida Vision Summit on February 6, 2007. The purpose was to educate the State Legislature and the public about the increasing number of Floridians dealing with some type of vision loss. A number of Legislators attended, including our own Representative Loranne Ausley.

The Vision Summit included speakers that discussed issues such as: prevention of vision loss, age-related conditions and diseases leading to vision loss, assistive technology, rehabilitation, transportation and voting.

“We cannot avoid the reality that Florida’s visually impaired population is growing by leaps and bounds. It’s necessary to educate our leaders and the citizens of Florida on the importance of visual health, and the services available to those already living with a visual impairment,” said Rep. Dennis Baxley, the founding member of the Vision Caucus.

If you were not able to attend, the 3-hour Vision Summit is available via Internet at www.fcb.org (choose the link for Florida Vision Caucus Summit) and will be aired on the Florida Channel over the next few months.


4. SportsAbility Expo 2007 Tallahassee April 13-14
Hosted by the Florida Disabled Outdoors Association, this free two-day event is about enhancing the lives of people with disabilities by promoting active living. SportsAbility provides first hand access to resources and demonstrations of activities that encourage participation regardless of age or ability level. Learn about the value of recreation and active leisure for everyone – especially people with disabilities. Discover the latest in equipment, trends, and resources. This event provides an opportunity for people to network with people with disabilities, resource providers, and community organizations. For more info, visit www.fdoa.org.

Friday, April 13, 2007 - 9:00am to 2:00pm is held at the TCC Lifetime Sports Complex and includes a resource expo and indoor activities.

Saturday, April 14, 2007 - 10:00am to 3:00pm is held at Ochlockonee River State Park and focuses on outdoor activities.


5. FCB Convention May 17-20, 2007
The Florida Council of the Blind State Convention will be held in Tallahassee from May 17-20, 2007. To make reservations, contact the Ramada Inn North, 2900 North Monroe, Tallahassee, FL, 32303; Phone: 850-386-1027. The room rates are $83 per night for rooms located in the main tower or $65 for rooms opening onto a covered walk and connected to the main tower.

On Thursday evening (5/17) kick back at a southern style barbeque at one of our members’ homes, with lots of food, fun, spirits and music. Friday afternoon (5/18) attend the annual FCB Legislative Seminar, an Employment workshop, and visit the Exhibit Hall. Friday evening, there will be a Welcome to Tallahassee Party along with a spirited game night.

Saturday morning (5/19) will begin with an address from a local official and the presentation of our annual awards and scholarships. Next, there will be several session options including seminars on new technology, the Braille & Talking Book Library, ADA law, VSA Arts, and a workshop for guide dog users. After lunch, attend our annual town hall meeting with Craig Kiser, Director of the Division of Blind Services. After the town hall meeting, our Special Interest Affiliates will meet. Saturday evening, FCB will begin the festivities with a happy hour reception, followed by the FCB Banquet where Mitch Pomerantz, ADA Coordinator for the City of Los Angeles will be our featured guest speaker. FCB will then gift you with a sensory experience, a folk music concert presented by Kevin Briody.

Last, on Sunday morning, the FCB convention attendees and Board will hold the annual business meeting.

Registration is $15. If you have any questions call Sally Benjamin, Project Insight Coordinator, at 800-267-4448 or email floridacouncil@comcast.net.


6. Top Five Reasons to Make Money More Accessible
5. Accessibility will promote independence
4. May reduce vulnerability & dependency on others
3. Will develop employment opportunities for people who are visually impaired or blind
2. U.S. should rise to the standard of all other counties
1. May reduce pity for and fear of blindness

Top Five Reasons to Keep Money the Same
5. People have been using organizational systems such as folding currency for a long time
4. The cost of making money accessible could be used for more important needs of people who are blind
3. Changes could require expensive adaptations to existing systems such as vending machines
2. May perpetuate the image that people who are disabled are needy
1. Avoid the potential backlash and resentment that might occur if the currency changes


7. Teens! Join Jennifer for Summer Fun
Calling all teenagers that are visually impaired or blind—you are invited to join FIRE’s Summer Program starting June 4th. We will be taking field trips, exploring career opportunities, learning about new and exciting technology and making friends. You will also learn how to be more independent as a teenager You will get the chance to learn how to cook, how to keep your hectic lives organized and how to contribute to the community. You will also be able to connect with other teens in the area who are blind or visually impaired. If you would like to spend your summer having fun while learning useful life skills contact Jennifer at 942-3658 X 206.


8. New Lab Drop-In Hours
Come surf the net, create your resume’, fill out an application, search for jobs, and much more!
Tuesdays: 12:30-4:30pm
Wednesdays: 12:30-4:30pm
Thursdays: 11am-4:30pm
Fridays: 9am-4:30pm


9. FIRE Spring Cleaning Day April 28
Join us for a Saturday morning or afternoon of spring cleaning on April 28th! Come for an hour or two, or help out as long as you like. This is an opportunity to help make our agency shine.

Outdoor jobs include:
Plant a flower bed outside the lab
Pressure wash the building & ramp
Make a small “guide dog park”
Clean off the roof and gutters… and more!

Indoor tasks include:
Organize & clean out the kitchen cabinets
Deep clean the oven and refrigerator
Dust all the baseboards… and more!

Please call Volunteer Coordinator Toni King to RSVP.


__________________________________________________________


AS WE SEE IT
FIRE Newsletter, Winter 2006/07

Articles in this issue:
1. Welcome to Four New FIRE Staff
2. Meet the Board: Delores Wussler
3. The Able Trust Grant Received for New Assistive Technology Lab
4. 2nd Dining in the Dark a Success!
5. Medicaid & Dial-A-Ride Transportation Conflict Resolved in Leon County
6. Top 10 Ways to Know Your Cooking is Over Done
7. Beginning Braille Class Starting Up


1. Welcome to Four New FIRE Staff
FIRE has grown from 8 folks to 12 this year, adding two part-time positions and two full-time staff. Here is a little bit about the newest members of our team:

Data Entry Specialist, Jeff English
Jeff brings with him an extensive background in database management. In his spare time, he is working to complete a Master of Arts in History at FSU. He enjoys spending time with his wife, spoiling his cat, reading, and listening to and playing music. Jeff says that he is very happy to have found a home at FIRE.

Transition Specialist, Jennifer Crowder
Jennifer is an FSU Graduate and a Teacher of the Visually Impaired. She has been a TVI in GA for two years. Jennifer states she is excited about this work because she will have the opportunity to teach daily living skills, social & recreational skills and intensive assistive technology which are critical for students to succeed in life.

Assistive Technology Trainer, Nancy Folsom

Nancy brings to FIRE her experience as the volunteer trainer for FCB’s Project Insight & experience training with computer software and assistive technology. She loves meeting new people and spends her spare time with her two children and two grandsons.

Volunteer Coordinator, Toni King
Toni is a lifetime native to Tallahassee and a former client and Board member of FIRE. She brings several years of volunteer coordinating experience to the     organization and is excited about the opportunity to work with such a wonderful staff.


2. Meet the Board: Delores Wussler
Plop!  No!  Not again.  I couldn’t have missed the ball again.  Excited voices hollered, “Catch it, catch it!” and then came moans and groans.  How can you catch a ball you cannot find?  I felt humiliated to the core, especially because my four brothers were in the bleachers watching this playoff game.  When the inning was over I insisted that someone take my right field position.  It was that evening the awareness first began to dawn that I was destined to follow in my father’s, not footsteps, but eyesteps, as I had inherited his RP. 

My life rolled on through college, marriage and the arrival of three sons and a daughter.  I taught school as a substitute and then full-time in Rockford, Illinois.  Later, my husband Lew heard Florida calling him to forsake the cold northern winters. One of the many things left behind were the regal and stately tulips in our rock garden that I loved so much.  The work transfer landed us in Jacksonville, Florida.  The climate was great for tending roses but not tulips.  However, since that move in 1973, Lew’s radiant roses have richly colored our lives.  Shared with others they became ambassadors of hope and beauty in dark places and passages.

Lew’s retirement from Blue Cross Blue Shield as a systems analyst precipitated our move to Tallahassee where all our children had settled.  The “D & L Lawn Service” blossomed, providing the outdoor work Lew loves.  Two years later in 1991, my remaining central vision faded to only light perception.  Following bouts of anger and grief I connected with DBS and the services of Independence for the Blind, now known as FIRE, which greatly helped relieve the emotional and physical stress.  I made a decision to go to The Daytona Rehab Center for the Blind, where I learned to cope in various ways.  I chipped away at my fear of the computer.

Parading perkily in and out of our 51 years as partners adjusting to diminishing eyesight were four adorable doxies and one gorgeous guide dog.  Hundreds of clumps of bread dough have been slapped, pounded and whacked, which provided a creative outlet and therapy for dealing with frustration.

I feel grateful for the assistance I have received from my husband and family, FIRE and many others in working through my loss of sight.  In gratitude I want to join FIRE in extending services and encouragement to others.  Thank you for your confidence in me.
Ready, aim, FIRE!


3. The Able Trust Grant Received for New AT Lab
FIRE is delighted to announce we have received a one-year grant from The Able Trust to create an “Employment Computer / Information Access (CIA) Lab”. We currently have a make-shift computer lab that does not meet the needs of clients who are searching for a job. To start up the project, the room for the lab will be expanded and made into an accessible workspace. It will be furnished with new computer tables and cabinets for storage of materials. Most importantly, new assistive technology equipment and software will be purchased for clients to use at FIRE to acquire job readiness skills, compose resumes, search for jobs, complete and submit job applications, and practice computer-related work skills.

We are also excited to announce that the grant has enabled us to hire a part-time Assistive Technology Trainer (Nancy Folsom) and a part-time Volunteer Coordinator (Toni King). Both positions will be for one year to get the program off the ground. Initially, the AT Trainer will instruct     clients in the use of assistive technology equipment as well as in job readiness skills. After it is built, the lab will be open for scheduled visits 15 hours per week. The Volunteer Coordinator will begin creating a program to staff the lab with volunteers, and as they are recruited, the AT Trainer will also train the volunteers. It is our dream by this time next year, FIRE will have a self-sufficient program up and running, and anyone who is visually impaired or blind and looking for a job will be able to come to FIRE and receive training and help from volunteers in the lab.


4. 2nd Dining in the Dark a Success!
Thank you to everyone who participated in FIRE’s 2nd Annual Paula Bailey Dining in the Dark benefit. As the event approached, we sold out early and squeezed in extra tables for more diners. The benefit then sold out a second time! 300 guests were served a sunrise salad, pork tenderloin rockefeller served with rice and sautéed vegetables (or an optional vegetarian entrée), and chocolate mousse for dessert—all in the dark.

Before dinner, Rep. Loranne Ausley kicked off the event at the reception with a rousing talk. Adam Gaffney put together a jazz band that kept everyone entertained before they went upstairs to be seated.  Charles Atkins played keyboard and improvised lyrics about Dining in the Dark—some brave souls even danced!

The Leon County Sheriff’s Office SWAT Team were wonderful as our servers. Sgt. Charlie Strickland explained they placed an infra-red glow stick in the center of each table, which lit up the whole ballroom for the team’s night vision goggles. They received a standing ovation and promised to come back next year. Thanks also goes to Rigel Optics, who again loaned FIRE night vision goggles sent all the way from WA.

The Paula Bailey Inspirational Community Member Award was presented to Delores Wussler. Congratulations Delores! FIRE was proud to have a whole slate of inspirational community members, and as Board President Frank Seidman said, wish we could have given the award to each one. In addition to Delores, the nominees included: Charles Atkins, Elizabeth Bowden, Michael Elliott, Adam Gaffney, Sila Miller, Dan Orange, and Evelyn Sewell.

FIRE could not create this awareness or raise this funding without the support of dozens of volunteers and many sponsors. Because of all of you, FIRE received $25,500 in contributions—so thank you everyone!


5. Medicaid & Dial-A-Ride Transportation Conflict Resolved in Leon County
Over a year ago, individuals that utilized Medicaid Transportation were un-enrolled from Dial-A-Ride or the Transportation Disadvantaged program. FIRE Board Member Lisa Raleigh took this on as a cause.

After many emails, phone calls and a meeting, City of Tallahassee staff member Donna Peacock wrote Lisa, “We have met with Byron Underwood and Lisa Bacot of the [Florida] Commission [for the Transportation Disadvantaged] and have discussed the issue of dual eligibility for both the Medicaid transportation and ADA or Dial-a-Ride in Leon County.  We have all agreed that the best method to serve our disabled population is to allow dual eligibility where the rider does qualify, with the understanding that medical trips should be taken through the Medicaid transportation system. This information is being communicated to the staff responsible for eligibility screening.”

Thank you to Lisa Raleigh for working to restore this vital transportation for people with disabilities!


6. Top Ten Ways to Know Your Cooking is Over Done

10. The smoke detector goes off
9. Eating requires a visit to the dentist
8. What started as a vegetable becomes a health drink
7. Inserting the meat thermometer is impossible
6. You add the fries to your Lincoln Log building set
5. You develop a new appreciation of the tenderness of beef jerky after grilling meat
4. You have to buy pots and pans on a weekly basis
3. Your soup resembles chips
2. After slicing the entrée, new knives are needed
1. Your dog refuses to eat the leftovers


7. Beginning Braille Class Starting Up!
FIRE is offering a Beginning Braille Class for individuals who are visually impaired or blind that want to learn Braille to use as a communication tool. A class setting has proven to be a very effective method of learning Braille; it is exciting to learn along with others. The classes will begin Dec. 14 and meet every Thursday from 9:30am - 2:30pm. Give yourself the present of learning how to read and write year! For our sighted friends who might be interested in learning Braille… the techniques used are different than what we teach in this class. We would be glad to share how & where to get materials you can use. Interested? Call Jeanine at 942-3658 extension 215.


__________________________________________________________


AS WE SEE IT
FIRE Newsletter, Fall 2006

Articles in this issue:
1. 2nd Annual Paula Bailey Dining in the Dark, 10/15/06
2. Meet the Board: Lisa Raleigh
3. FIRE Becomes a United Way Agency
4. FIRE Services to Teens Expanding
5. Local Magnifier Store Opening
6. “Weights” Benefit for Ability 1st
7. Top 10 Advantages of Dining in the Dark

Thank you to everyone who contributed to the creation of the FIRE Newsletter! Submissions related to vision loss are welcome, and may be edited for length.


1. 2nd Paula Bailey Dining in the Dark
FIRE will be holding our three course dinner in pitch black darkness again this year at the University Center Club on Sunday, October 15… but with some twists.

One exciting addition is the Leon County Sheriff’s Office SWAT Team. They have volunteered to use their night vision goggles to serve dinner and wait on you. The menu will be new, so you can savor the intensified tastes and smells as you eat without your sight.

Also new this year is a reception before dinner at 5pm on the first floor, with honorary host Representative Loranne Ausley. She will say a few words, there will be live music, a cash bar, and a sample table set up identical to the one at which you’ll be eating in the dark.

During the reception there will be lessons on walking and eating in the dark in a quiet area on the first floor. At the end of the reception, tables will be called in order by numbers 1-33, so guests can go up to the ballroom together and be seated. You will be guided to your seat by volunteers that are blind and navigate in the dark every day. Dinner starts at 5:45pm.

During the dinner there will be quiet background music, a fun surprise between courses, and afterwards the lights will come up as FIRE presents the “Paula Bailey Inspirational Community Member” award. Please see the enclosed form to nominate someone.

Tickets are on sale so please consider buying a table of eight for $500. Single seats are available for $50. Just fill out the enclosed form or call 942-3658 to reserve yours. We look forward to Dining in the Dark with you!

Thanks to our DINING IN THE DARK Sponsors!

Doug & Elizabeth Bailey
Sharyn Davidson
Hebrock, Steiner, Inc.
Leon County Sheriff’s Office SWAT Team
Patti Liles
Rose, Sundstrom & Bentley, LLP
University Center Club


2. Meet the Board: Lisa Raleigh
When a woman who has raised six kids tells you to do something, you do it. So when Barbara Kiger asked, I became a FIRE board member in the Spring of 2002. That year my son was three years old, I’d been married six years, and had practiced law for 11 years. It was a good time to branch out and do something new.

I have learned so much at FIRE, about listening, about young people struggling to be accepted as capable workers in a world that can’t quite believe they can do the job, about older people learning a whole new way of doing things. I served in the Navy for four years, and I thought I knew something about courage, but I’ve learned about daily courage while on the board at FIRE. I thought I understood discrimination, but I never saw how much a sense of humor helps in the face of discrimination, nor did I understand how hard it can be just to get a chance to try if you are disabled.

As the only lawyer on the board, I’m called on from time to time to address matters that come up, like contracts or HIPAA questions. I enjoy learning about different areas of the law. As an attorney, main focus is that we not be sued and put out of business.

Last year I missed the annual planning retreat. When I came to the next meeting, I was told that we would have a fund raiser called, "Dining in the Dark." Imagine how that sounded to an attorney. I suggested we change the name to, "Liability in the Dark." I was also told that because I was in the Navy, I must know all about night vision goggles, and so I was in charge of borrowing enough for all the waiters at the event.

It took me five months of calling every manufacturer and distributor in the United States, and then holding the phone away from my ear while they laughed hysterically when I told them I wanted $20,000 of gear so that waiters could wear them in the dark.

In the end, we were able to borrow sets from a generous Washington distributor (Rigel Optics), and the Leon County Sheriff’s Office received them, checked them out, brought extra batteries, trained the waiters, and supervised the whole event for technical problems. While attendees heard the entertainment and enjoyed the meal, I was just listening for the crashing sound of $12,000 goggles breaking. Everything went brilliantly, though, and the nervous lawyer was proven wrong.

As always when you engage in charitable acts, I have gotten a good deal more than I’ve given with FIRE. This year I’m running for County Court Judge, and my friends on the board have provided not just moral and financial support, but put out signs, sent out e-mails, and told their friends about my campaign. I’m happy, too, that this year I’m running is the first year that there will be technology available to provide blind and low vision people with private voting. So I hope that you will work your way through the ballot until you find my name, as the County Court Judge race is not near the top of the ballot. I’ll be pleased if everyone reading this shows up on September 5 to use the new voting technology.


3. FIRE Becomes a United Way Agency
Expanding the number of certified agencies under the United Way of the Big Bend (UWBB) umbrella, UWBB announced the addition of three new certified agencies July 13, 2006. FIRE is happy to be one of those agencies this year, having met all the stringent requirements.

“Becoming a United Way Certified Agency enhances the credibility and visibility of FIRE,” said Barbara Ross, FIRE Executive Director. “We hope we’ll be able to serve more individuals that are blind and provide more frequent services. Ultimately, it will help people with vision loss regain their independence more rapidly so they can become productive members of society again.”

While becoming a United Way agency does not automatically increase the funds FIRE will receive from United Way, individuals will now be able to select FIRE if they want to designate the agency that their United Way donation helps fund. We are thrilled to be participating in the United Way Kick-Off Luncheon on September 7th—already receiving more publicity!


4. FIRE Services to Teens Expanding
We are thrilled to announce that as of October 2006, FIRE will be able to expand our services to “Transition” or high school students throughout the school year in addition to our regular Summer Transition program.

Thanks to lobbying efforts and subsequently a contract with DBS, FIRE will be hiring a Certified Specialist to work with students during the school year. The Transition program will help high school students learn the skills needed to “transition” to being an adult, getting a job, and living independently for the first time.

During the summer months, FIRE will also expand our Summer Transition Program for high school students to include the entire Big Bend. An additional instructor will be hired during June- August to work with teen-agers when they are out of school for the summer.


5. Local Magnifier Store Opening
Finding the right magnifier can be a frustrating and time consuming experience. Now, instead of only being able to shop long distance, through catalogs or the Internet, FIRE is excited to share that Tallahassee has a new local store that can help.

Magnifiers & More carries magnifiers, low vision devices and helpful gadgets - everything from CCTVs to talking watches. Items to help you write letters and even pay the bills can be purchased. You can stop by and try them out before you buy them, as many items are in stock on the premises.

If you need further assistance or more advanced low vision devices, Dr. Susan Whaley is available for comprehensive low vision evaluations. Magnifiers & More is located at 2858 Mahan Drive inside Tallahassee Eye Center. Their phone number is 671-3936


6. “Weights” Benefit for Ability 1st
“Weights” is a one-man performance that utilizes prose, poetry and live music accompaniment to tell the real-life story of Lynn Manning. Lynn grew up in the foster care system of Los Angeles. At the age of 23 he was shot in a bar, losing his sight completely.

The show traces Manning's transcendence of the violence that changed his life, and his personal journey from being 'black' to being 'blind'. Determined to pursue his dreams, he has now become a successful playwright, actor, world-class athlete and volunteer.

Two shows are scheduled at the Tallahassee Little Theater: Friday, 9/29, 8pm for the general public, $15; To benefit Ability 1st, Saturday, 9/30, 6:30pm VIP reception and silent auction followed by an 8pm show for $50. For ticket information, please contact Ability 1st at 575-9621 or judithbarrett@ability1st.info.


7. Top Ten Advantages of Dining in the Dark

10. You will be pleasantly surprised by what you are eating (no one knows ahead of time).
9. If you make a mistake, no one will see.
8. You can pretend you’re eating dinner with your favorite celebrity.
7. You can hide the salt and no one will ever find it.
6. You will notice your sense of hearing, touch and taste much more than when you can see.
5. You don’t have to worry about table manners.
4. You’ll feel very secure dining with the SWAT Team.
3. If you eat with your hands, no one will know.
2. The evening will become an experience you will share funny stories about for a long time.
1. In the future, you will be better able to assist people who are blind if they ask for help.


__________________________________________________________


FIRE Newsletter, Summer 2006

Articles in this issue:

1. 23rd Birthday Wishes for FIRE
2. Meet the Board: Frank Seidman
3. Around the Town: “Delirium” by Chip Orange
4. “If I Have To Ask” by Barbara Kiger
5. Top 10 Ways to Tell if Your Drink is Full
6. Tips for Living by Delores Wussler
7. Vote for a Newsletter Name
8. License Plate Passes!
9. Low or No Vision Demo, June 6, 1-4pm, Senior Center


1. 23rd Birthday Wishes for FIRE
Toni King: My wish for FIRE is that we continue, through our amazing staff, to serve people who need our services, and that our agency grow to serve more people with the personal care our staff give.

Norris Coster: I would like to wish for super'sized growth in our efforts to bring sight to sightlessness and insight to others who may be "blind to the facts."

Barbara Ross: I wish FIRE a major donor to give five million dollars for land & building a brand new center!

Frank Seidman: I wish for FIRE, a diminishing need for its services, as medical breakthroughs solve the problems causing visual impairment. But, until then, I'm with Barbara - Show me the money!

Ericka Zdenek: My wish for FIRE is success in your advocacy work. Keep us accountable and engaged!!!

Barbara Kiger: Happy birthday FIRE! Thank you for letting me grow "independent" with you.

David Bigoney: I wish for the continuing strength of vision which has led the way, and for the lights beyond to only shine brighter!

Liz Bowden: I, too, would like the pot of gold so the technology department could have all the new toys that are coming out, and expand services.

Lynda Breen: I just googled anniversary gifts, and the gift for 23 is "silver plate."I take that to mean money---hopefully lots will be coming your way!!

Georgia Kellogg: Thanks for getting me involved with computers. FIRE has done a wonderful job. I appreciate the computer meetings I attend when possible. Thanks for your work & service to the community.

Delores Wussler: As the 23 FIRE birthday candles continue to light up the lives of the visually impaired and blind I wish for computers, instructors and adaptive equipment galore to be available for those interested. Thank you, FIRE, for being there for me in so many ways and Happy 23rd!


2. Meet the Board: Frank Seidman
It all began 67 years ago in Boston, Massachusetts, or so I am told. But I have been a Floridian since my 14th year. I still proudly retain some of my Bostonian roots – my accent, my love of hot tea, and from time to time, my taste for Scotch whiskey.

My life had been fairly routine – college, the Army, marriage, divorce, marriage, divorce, marriage. Wait, is that one too many? Oh, yes. I married my first wife twice – some people are slow learners. My life really began when I met my wife of now 30 years – Denny. What had been humdrum and less than fulfilling became meaningful and wonderful, which it continues to be to this day. When you finally get it right, you know it.

During all of this, I, alas, also had to earn a living. I had my engineering degree and my certification in Florida, but not being very inventive, I did what anyone in my position would do – I became a consultant. Amazingly, it seems to work. So, I make my living helping others do what they already know how to do, but who need someone to tell that to them. And for this, they pay me.

When I met Denny, she was raising two small children by herself and filling in her spare moments by attending Florida State University. She then went on to law school and became a member of the Florida Bar. She and I worked together for many years, but now she works for the state and disciplines bad practitioners in the health field.

Those of you who know me, know that Denny and I are rabid FSU fans. We have season tickets for football and men and women’s basketball. Plus we attend as many baseball and softball games as we can. What you may not know is that I got my degree from the University of Miami. How does a UM graduate become an FSU fan? Denny won me over big time.

My association with FIRE began only 3 years ago, but, in a way, it was bound to happen. I have been a friend of one of FIRE’s oldest board members (in age and association), Harold Martindale, for 30+ years. He asked me if I would be interested in joining the board. I knew nothing about FIRE, but I knew about Harold’s long battle with RP and all he had accomplished. I was interested, but hesitant. Then he told me they served food at the board meetings. How could I turn it down?

Needless to say, I have thoroughly enjoyed my association with FIRE. It continues to be a learning experience. My respect and awe continues to grow for the blind and visually impaired board members I serve with and others I now meet on a daily basis. I am sighted. For those of us that are, the fear of losing one’s sight is great. But because of FIRE, I am learning that those fears are groundless. What the FIRE staff does and can do for the visually impaired and, indirectly, for their family and friends is truly amazing. It’s an honor to serve with them.


3. Around the Town: “Delirium” by Chip Orange

"It takes a village to stage a multimedia production that mixes breathtaking acrobatics with dazzling special effects, vibrant costumes and soaring rock anthems."So begins a preview article in the Tallahassee Democrat, by staff writer Kati Schardl, of the Cirque du Soleil (pronounced "surk du solay"), show "Delirium" which came to Tallahassee the weekend of April 15th.

She continues, "It also takes about 110,000 pounds of gear, 23 trucks, 300 feet of projection screens that stand 40 feet high, a stage that's 130 feet long and 20 feet wide, and about 150 human beings to set it all up, perform, break it down and cart it to the next town on the schedule ...".

When I heard Cirque was coming to Tallahassee, with a show this spectacular, and that they had abandoned their tradition of basing their shows on their extraordinarily choreographed acrobats, and had instead designed this show based entirely around the musical performers, I decided to take a chance that someone blind would find the show as novel an experience as someone sighted. And so I went with a group of five people, each of us willing to pay the price of a ticket to experience something that's a cross between modern dance, a three-ring circus, a traveling acrobatic show, and a modern Latin-techno-funky opera.

According to Schardl, "The musicians performing onstage include percussionist brothers El Hadji Fall Diouf and Pape Abdou Karim Diouf of Senegal, the world beat band Gaia, rising Canadian vocal star Jacynthe and Brazilian Italo-Cuban singing sensation Dessy Di Lauro." As if they weren't enough, opening for the entire ensemble was Nitza, a self-described multi-ethnic, multi-lingual, singer/song writer (and perhaps my favorite of the evening's musical performances).

The music was everything the credits above promised, and more. At times, there were as many as 30 drummers playing at once together on stage. Our seats were on the floor of the civic center, within a few feet of the stage, and the sound was an incredible, body shaking experience. Luckily for me, it was loud, while being a style of music I really enjoy, so I didn't find the volume a problem.

The visuals however were something else again. I had two people trying to give me a running commentary of the acrobats, singers, costumes, (literally flying around at times), and the multi-media projections being beamed onto translucent screens that the performers were using as backdrops or front drops. Schardl says: "The show mixes video with virtual images and animation and sprinkles special effects over the whole to create a truly surreal experience."

Surreal doesn't even *begin* to do it justice. One scene has the "evil" character of the story, rising out of something like a submarine hatch, on stilts, shouting through a megaphone, and swinging a giant gavel at the "hero".

One sequence had a translucent screen being projected with an underwater visual, and behind it a "mermaid", in a 10-foot-high dress, singing while seemingly "swimming" under the waves.

Another sequence had a singer, rising up out of the stage, with her ever-growing dress turning eventually into a 30-foot-high volcano, and making her into what I believe was an earth-goddess in the story.

The costumes were as much a part of the show, as with any opera, as the singers and musicians. So were the special effects, which included the main character of the story "flying" suspended from a hot-air-balloon through-out the entire show. Yes, there was a "story", but figuring it out, and interpreting all the symbolism, wasn't easy. A libretto would have helped, but as with an opera, if you concentrate too much on the plot, you're likely to miss the entire point of being there.

Exactly how much of the visuals I was able to take in, with the aid of my two describers, and how much I still missed, is difficult to say. I certainly have never been to anything like that kind of non-stop intensely complex performance before. It was worth it, from that perspective, just for the novelty of it all.

I doubt it could be turned into something where the visuals were really accessible to blind people who did not have their own team of personal describers (yelling) into each ear, and trying to answer questions about the points I didn't catch. My two describers were both highly visual people, and both very articulate, and it took both of them for me to keep up with some amount of the activity that was taking place on the near-by stage.

There was one part of the show that was tactile, and it was the ending, where the audience was showered with confetti, and then balloons, perhaps six feet in diameter, were dropped on to us from above, to allow us to bounce them back and forth between one another. This was fun, even when we'd occasionally bump into one another as we ran about trying to position ourselves under a balloon as it came down. One man even held a balloon down for me so I could get an idea of it's size, and to see how it was constructed.


4. “If I Have To Ask” by Barbara Kiger
I lost my sight when I was fifty. Suddenly and irreversibly, due to a deterioration of the optic nerve, I was plunged into a world of total darkness. I thought my life had ended. Emerging after several weeks of vodka-soaked hand wringing, I crept out of my bedroom.

Surprisingly, there was still a world beyond my closed door. I remember groping my way through the dining room and living room to where my favorite chair had always stood. It was still there. Some things had not changed. Steeling myself against an avalanche of tears, I took stock of my life. I had my faith in God, though at the moment a bit tarnished, and a family who loved me despite the epithets I’d hurled at them during the past several weeks. I could still hear, think and speak. With “so” much going for me, surely...

I wish I could say that everything was smooth sailing from there on in, but it was not. Only after months that stretched into years of counseling and help from a pair of agencies whose mission it was to help the blind did I regain my self-respect and achieve a modicum of independence. It wasn’t until the day I was involved in a conversation with several other people though, that I realize my learning had just begun.

I was in a mixed group, male and female, some of whom I knew along with several others I did not know. The conversation covered a range of topics, settling finally on the hot potato issue of right to life. Being a Catholic I supported the Church’s views. It became abundantly clear, however, that several in the group were not of my persuasion.

Do you remember what it’s like trying to interject an opinion when several others are expressing theirs? Watching mouths close, then jumping in, is one way of doing it. When you can see, this is not a problem. Given my circumstances this was not an option, however. Losing track of where the arguments orginate because of the group’s rapid fire delivery, made active participation even more difficult.

I felt myself being cut off from the conversation when, to my way of thinking, a particularly “senseless” remark caught my attention. Angered, I turned to my husband and demanded, “What color is he?”

My mind came to a stand-still. The question I had asked was no better, no - worse than the remark that had precipitated it.

I tuned out my husband’s answer. If I had to ask, was it really that important? As difficult as it was to admit, I knew the answer was no.

I have learned many things since that day, but none have proved as valuable. Freed at last from judging a book by its cover or a person by the color of his skin, the world I now live in is filled with new ideas and even newer friends.


5. Top Ten Ways to Tell if Your Drink is Full


10. Stick your finger in it
9. Use a liquid level indicator
8. Listen for the pitch of the pouring liquid to go higher
7. Feel the temperature change on the side of the cup
6. Drink pre-packaged beverages
5. The waiter doesn’t ask if you need a refill
4. Put a fishing bobber in your drink and feel when it comes to the top of the glass
3. The guy in the apartment next door starts banging on the wall and yelling "Its seeping under the wall!"
2. Your cup “runneth over”
And the number one way to tell if your drink is full is…
1. Place your cup on the lap an unsuspecting person, and when they scream, you know it is full!


6. Tips for Living by Delores Wussler

Never lose a sock strategy: Pin the two socks together before washing. You will have all your socks matched up and ready to wear when dry.
Easy Measuring: To measure cooking oil, fill a wide mouthed jar with oil and dip in measuring spoon when oil is needed. To measure vanilla or other flavorings pour some into a small flexible container. Measure correct amount and funnel remainder back into bottle.


7. Vote for a Newsletter Name

A number of names have been suggested for the newsletter:
As We See It,
On Fire,
Fireside Chat,
The Spark,
The Igniter,
Fire Power,
The Eyeglass,
Firelight,
Fire-sighted, or
Eye Contact.
We have so many good names we couldn’t choose! Call 942-3658 or email fireinformation@earthlink.net your favorite and we will tally the votes for the next issue.


8. License Plate Passes!
We are thrilled that the new specialty license plate “A State of Vision” benefiting agencies such as FIRE passed. We’ll let you know when they go on sale!


9. Low or No Vision Demonstration
Tuesday, June 6, 1-5pm, at the Tallahassee Senior Center

Join FIRE for this excellent opportunity to examine the latest technology available for people that are visually impaired or blind. Representatives from adaptive aid companies will demonstrate a variety of magnifying machines, personal readers, and other devices that can assist individuals with a vision problem to stay independent. Magnifying Solutions is offering a door prize of a color digital magnifier worth $500. Free vision screenings will be available as well. There will be a Certified Vision Rehabilitation Therapist from FIRE available to answer questions. Call Jeanine Kane, CVRT for further Information at 942-3658 ext. 215.


__________________________________________________________


FIRE Newsletter, Spring 2006

Articles in this issue:

1. “State of Vision” License Plate
2. Welcome to Our New Staff!
3. Newsletter Name Contest
4. Thank You Capital Medical Society Foundation
5. SportsAbility in Tallahassee, April 21-22
6. TCB Makes Spring Cleaning Easy
7. News From DBS District II
8. Join FIRE’s Phone Chat
9. New FIRE Guide Dog Group
10. Top Ten Ways to Ruin Your Cane


1. “State of Vision” License Plate
To support organizations serving the blind, State Senator Carey Baker, R-Eustis, and State Representative Dennis Baxley, R-Ocala, introduced legislation that would create a specialty license plate called “A State of Vision.” The tag features a lighthouse and a shining beacon, in front of a colorful sky with water below.

The $25 annual fee for the plate would benefit the Florida Association of Agencies Serving the Blind (FAASB), which consists of 15 agencies across the state, including FIRE. After expenses to create the tag are paid, the $25 revenue would provide funding for direct services to the blind through FAASB agencies.

“These agencies that serve directly to blind people are usually struggling to survive,” said Baxley, who is the primary sponsor of the legislation, inspired by his adopted son, Jeffrey. At the age of 8 months, Jeffery lost his vision due to shaken baby syndrome. His father reports that Jeffrey, now a 19-year-old senior at The Fla. School for the Deaf and Blind, is doing well.

The legislation for the specialty tag has already passed through the necessary committees. It is ready for a vote on both the House and the Senate floors when the session begins in March. It is almost sure to pass, and the new license plates would be available within a year.


2. Welcome to Our New Staff!
We are delighted to welcome two new staff members to FIRE—Eva and Nancy, who both started on January 17, and are now trained and ready to go!

Eva McElvy, Independent Living Specialist, came to FIRE from Easter Seals, with a background in assisting people with disabilities. She is a mother of two girls, age 8 and 22. A native of Tampa, she has lived in Tallahassee for 14 years. She loves gardening, camping, traveling, art, music and having fun.

Nancy Krivit, MSW, Independent Living Specialist, has already had a long career both as a counselor and as an administrator, and is enjoying working directly with people again. A proud grandmother of five (two of whom are in college), she insists she was a mother at age six. And the tradition of FIRE humor continues!


3. Newsletter Name Contest
Have a catchy or interesting name for FIRE’s newsletter? We are looking to the community for your suggestions! You are welcome to call 942-3658 with an idea or email possible names to Fireinformation @earthlink.net.


4. Thank You Capital Medical Society Foundation
Ever wondered how FIRE is able to provide medical-related blindness aids? Thanks to a grant from the Capital Medical Society Foundation, some clients who are on fixed incomes and cannot otherwise afford it will be able to receive:
• Canes to assist in preventing falls and injury
• Magnifiers to help read prescription bottles, medication instructions and food labels
• Talking watches and clocks to help take prescriptions on time and keep medical appointments
• Medical talking equipment such as thermometers or glucose monitors
Thank you Capital Medical Society Foundation!


5. SportsAbility in Tallahassee, April 21-22
SportsAbility is the premier event of the Florida Disabled Outdoors Association (FDOA). This two day event is about enhancing the lives of people with disabilities by promoting active living. SportsAbility provides first hand access to resources and demonstrations of activities designed to encourage participation regardless of age or ability level. There is no charge for the event.

Friday’s festivities (4/21) will be held at Tallahassee Community College Lifetime Sports Complex which will include a resource expo AND indoor sports and leisure such as basketball, tennis, dancing and more. Saturday’s activities (4/22) will be held at the Florida State University’s Seminole Reservation and will included the gamut of outdoor recreation activities, including sit-waterskiing, pontoon boat rides, kayaking, ATV rides, Seadoo rides, horseback riding, volleyball and fishing.

People that attend SportsAbility learn about the value of recreation and active leisure for everyone – especially people with disabilities. People discover the latest in equipment, trends, and resources. This event provides an opportunity for people to network with people with disabilities, resource providers, and community organizations.

For more info, visit the FDOA website at www.fdoa.org.


6. TCB Makes Spring Cleaning Easy
It’s Spring cleaning time! Do you have things that are taking up space that you never use? Get rid of them AND do some good by donating them to the Tallahassee Council of the Blind's Garage Sale! It will take place on Saturday, April 8th, from 7am until 1pm. If you have items to donate, please label them with a price and bring them to 2201 Limerick Dr. on April 7th, no later than 6pm. The garage sale will take place on the corner of Delaney & Limerick. Everyone is welcome - you never know what treasures you may find! Only one condition—if you bring things to sell you MUST take them with you if they do not sell. Thanks!


7. News From DBS District II
First and foremost the DBS District II staff would like to wish everyone a Happy and Prosperous Year. Over the past months, the district has been engaged in several activities such as our Open House which was hosted in October 2005 during vision awareness month. On January 19-21, District II attended the Florida Rehab Council Forum. Once again this provided the District with information that we hope we can use towards better service provision.

Since then we have had the pleasure of putting together our 2nd Annual Employment Training Workshop for VR participants seeking employment, held 1/25-26. The first day the workshop covered interviewing techniques, job applications, job search, resume writing techniques, and professional work ethics/behavior. The second day included mock interviews and feedback.

In conclusion, we are looking forward to this Spring and Summer, as we have begun preparations for our one-day Middle School Enrichment Program and our four-week Summer Transition Program.


8. Join FIRE’s Phone Chat
With a service area of 11 counties, FIRE has had to think outside the box (or building) in order to provide support to folks who live outside Leon County. With little or no public transportation available, it is often impossible for clients to come to Tallahassee to attend the support groups offered here. To deal with this issue, clients anywhere in the Big Bend can call a toll-free number once a month and be connected to the FIRE conference call, which is facilitated by a member of the FIRE team. Different topics are discussed, along with anything callers may wish to bring up. Participants share resources to help each other with various issues. This priceless peer support, provided without anyone leaving the comfort of their favorite chair, has given the group a permanent home over the FIRE phone lines. Please join us!
WHEN: 2nd Mondays, 10-11am (3/13, 4/10, 5/8)
DIAL: 1(888)296-6500; code 187074


9. New FIRE Guide Dog Group

The first FIRE Guide Dog Group met on 1/26/06 at City Hall. After introductions, the participants shared information about grooming tips, food, obedience and play, and favorite and least favorite things about having a guide dog. Possible topics for the future were discussed.

Meetings will be held on the fourth Thursday of each month, in the Tallahassee Room of City Hall. The meeting time will be from 6:00 – 7:30pm.

The FIRE Guide Dog Group is open to all FIRE and DBS clients who are past, present, or future guide dog owners. Please come, share your experiences and ideas, and help us plan for the future. Feel free to bring snacks. (There are also vending machines near the meeting room.) We hope to see you 3/23, 4/27 & 5/25.


10. Top Ten Ways to Ruin Your Cane

10. Use it as a marshmallow roasting stick
9. Play tug-o-war or fetch with your dog
8. Use it as an oil dip stick for your car
7. Pole vault with it
6. Use it as a cooking utensil
5. Stick it between the spokes of a moving bicycle
4. Use it to practice fencing or sword fighting
3. Leave it in your driveway as a speed bump
2. Throw it like a boomerang
And the number one way to ruin your cane…
1. Use it as a lightening rod!


 
Graphic of an eye
For free services, please call the Lighthouse at (850) 942-3658 or toll-free at (888) 827-6033. You can also email the Lighthouse at info@lighthousebigbend.org
~ 3071 Highland Oaks Terrace, Tallahassee, FL 32301 ~