National Federation of the Blind of Alabama

Live the life you want!    Changing what it means to be blind!

The Focus - Summer 2013

                  "The Focus"          


Alabama’s Blind Community at a Glance


Volume II, Number 1, Summer 2013


National Federation of The Blind

Of Alabama


Joy Harris, President

5209 Sterling Glen Drive

Pinson, AL 35126

Home: (205)520-9979

Cell: (205)515-5220



Welcome to the Summer 2013 edition of The Focus. Your interest, articles and feedback has made this a very exciting first year. The NFB is moving forward and there is nothing quite like being a member in Alabama!


Gail Smith, Editor


[email protected]




*From the President's Desk By Joy Harris3

*The NFB Conventions Will Never Let You Down By Allen Harris

*From the Editor By Gail Smith

*Goodbye to My Alabama Friends By Alice Hebert

*Blind Merchants of Alabama Now Charter Members of NABM

  --By Donna Bates       

*Indy Super BLAST 2013 By Tracey Watts


Around The State

*Greater Rocket City Chapter Continues to Blast Off

   --By Susan Povinelli

*Magic City, Birmingham Chapter -- By Cindy Jones

*Mobile Chapter

*Talladega Chapter

*Montgomery Chapter - By Barbara Manuel

*Considering Becoming a Dog Guide User?- By Carol Braithwaite

*National Association of Guide Dog Users Sponsors  Innovative

   -----Hotline Submitted by Marion Gwizdala

*The Long White Cane By Kate Smith

*Alabama’s White Cane Walk

*Apple Core - By Susan K. Povinelli

*Phone Faith Chat Line - By Barbara Manuel

*Extreme Experience Retreat

*Easy Holiday Recipes

*Closing Remarks - By Gail Smith



                                        From the President's Desk

By Joy Harris


As I write this article for the Focus, I am reflecting on the wonderful benefits I receive as a member of the Federation.  I have been a member of the Federation for many years, and there are many reasons why I am a Federationist.  I wanted a better life for myself as a blind person, and to help change the lives of other blind persons throughout the Country.  We need to change the myths and mysteries of blindness and educate the public about what blindness is and is not.  Because of the Federation, I have had so many blessings and opportunities which have enriched my life.


In May I was diagnosed with cancer.  As you can imagine, it was quite a shock to receive that diagnosis.  With my family by my side I face some pretty extensive surgery.  The prognosis is hopeful and I am having a few months of chemotherapy. 


I received an outpouring of love, strength and prayers from members of the Federation all over the country and I am especially thankful for the support from my Alabama Federation family.  Some of the members came to my home and brought food, drinks, a cherry shake and a banana split, because at that time I was struggling to find things that I felt I could eat.  There is nothing they would not have brought to me if I had asked. 


I am reminded of just how meaningful my participation in the Federation has been.  I have always believed in our Federation family, but the support of my Alabama Federation family was never more helpful than during this difficult time.


Our work must continue and as President of the NFB of Alabama I intend to help move us forward  .  For example, we have a number of projects coming up this fall and spring such as our State board meeting on the 14th  of September and also the Magic City chapter will be holding its annual walk-a-thon on October 12th.  On October 19th there will be a cane walk for White Cane Safety Day, and we would like to have as many members as possible to participate in this walk. 


It is not too early to plan our State convention that will be held on March 7th through the 9th 2014.  It will be held in Birmingham at the Double Tree Hotel. 


In order to keep our Federation strong, we must continue our efforts on behalf of all blind people through the programs of the NFB of Alabama.



<<< >>>



The NFB Conventions Will Never Let You Down

By Allen Harris


As some of you know, I have been going to National Federation of the Blind Conventions since 1971 and am blessed to say that I have never missed one. I cannot remember going to any  NFB Convention and leaving with the feeling that I did not learn something or make new and lasting friendships.

For many years I have attended such marvelous conventions that I thought could not be duplicated or matched in future years.  I am fond of telling Dr. Maurer and Dr. Jernigan, "What on earth will we do to match or top a particular convention?”  They would always assure me that we would have even more productive, meaningful  state-of-the-art projects going on.  In addition, they would remind me that I could contribute to the success of our NFB Conventions by finding ways to participate and work to make things happen.

Over the years, I have had the pleasure of assisting in our Federation in a wide range of activities.  Moreover, I have been blessed to be in leadership positions as well.

I was President of the Teachers Division from 1977 through 1985.  I did not exactly campaign for this position, but the truth is that the President did not show up.  For the first number of years, I would recruit Mrs. Maurer to help with our meetings.  She, among her other jobs, was a credentialed teacher and we moved the Teachers Division in a positive direction.


In 1981 in , Baltimore, MD, I was elected to the Board of Directors of the National Federation of the Blind.  My ability to participate fully in our Convention opened up even more opportunities to do things which I wanted to do in an effort to be worthy of the honor I had been given.

In 1985, I was elected as Secretary of the National Federation of the Blind.  What an honor!  But I soon found out that much responsibility came with the position.

I am not going to list all of the offices I had the pleasure of
serving in, but I never thought of the next opportunity.  I did my best to uphold the values and serious work we do in the Federation.

Of course, not all of our members are going to hold leadership
positions, but I can tell you that being a dependable, active person committed to our Federation is an honor.  Think of the meaningful work each of us can do.  You can participate in your local chapter.  You can get new persons to come as guests to a Chapter or State Meeting.  Some of us are able to sell items to raise money for our work and to support activities that strengthen our Federation.  Not a person who likes to sell?  Well. there are other things each of us can contribute to improve the lives of the blind.

The National Federation of the Blind has become the most elevated and influential organization in the field of blindness.  We followed our Federation Philosophy, we never gave up on a matter of importance to blind persons until we finished the work. Think about your participation in the NFB and reconsider additional contributions you are able to make.  Do not wait to be selected for an assignment in your Chapter or State Affiliate.  Raise your voice and volunteer.  Each of us can work to make and keep our Federation strong.  If all of us come together, we possess many individuals to work for our rights.   We are working for "first class citizenship."  However, we know there is much work ahead. If one of us is being discriminated against because of blindness, everyone of us must see this circumstance as an obstacle the NFB will overcome.

So you wonder why I began this opinion piece with my thoughts about conventions?  It was because the NFB National Conventions have such a great impact on the lives of those who attend and are very influential in my life personally.  You may also wonder why I told you about my personal opportunities to work in the NFB.  I wanted to share my experiences in order to hopefully inspire others, because all of us can give of ourselves to help, no matter how great or small our contribution.  I believe you will share my belief that the National Federation of the Blind is the most effective, forward looking and successful organization on behalf of the Blind.


<<< >>>


From the Editor

By Gail Smith


The Alabama Affiliate of the National Federation of the Blind has many accomplishments of which to be proud. We are continuing to grow and strive to impact the lives of more blind/low vision people in our state.  The members are very committed, as was evidenced by the attendance in Huntsville at the 2013 NFB of Alabama State Convention. It consisted of three outstanding days full of seminars and informative presentations by leaders in the blindness field. We heard from special guest speakers such as Kevan Worley from the National Association of Blind Merchants and Anil Lewis from our National Center in Baltimore.  What an inspiring three days!


On Sunday, the last day of our state convention, we held our NFB of Alabama business meeting. During that meeting, among other items on the agenda, we held elections for some of the board positions. 


The 2nd Vice-President, Minnie K. Walker, declined to run again.  She has served the State well over the last decade. She has been the President of the Mobile Chapter since 2002 and continues to hold that position, as well as being 2nd Vice-President of the National Division of the Diabetes Action Network. Soon after becoming the President of the Mobile Chapter, she was elected to the State Board and has served our state as Vice-President, 2nd Vice-President  and President. We would like to thank her for all her services to the NFB of Alabama State Board!


During this business meeting, Alice Hebert was re-elected as State Treasurer. However, in the spring it was necessary for her to move out of state because of her job. Alice has contributed so much of her time and efforts to the NFB of Alabama over the last eleven years. She joined the Magic City Chapter and soon became the chapter secretary.  She served as President of the Magic City Chapter for the last 7 years. Alice also served on the State Board as secretary and then as  treasurer.  She has also helped with NFB of Alabama  Convention registration and convention planning. Alice we would like to thank you for your hard work and dedication! 


The following is a list of the NFB of Alabama Board members:


Joy Harris, President

Cindy Jones, 1st Vice-President

Vince Armstrong, 2nd Vice-President

Larry Povinelli, Treasurer

Gail Smith, Secretary

Robert Kelly Jr., Board Member

Jeffrey Wilson, Board Member

Tracey Watts, Board Member

Barbara Manuel, Board Member

Ellen Jones, Board Member


< >



Good-bye to My Alabama Friends

By Alice M Hebert


Just a short note to say Good-bye to all of my Alabama friends.

My job with AT&T sent me to Minneapolis, MN so I can be reached at:


2101 Bryant Ave. S

# 209

Minneapolis, MN 55405

My e-mail and cell number have not changed for now.  I do plan to join all of you in Birmingham for your 2014 state convention.


Until we meet again, Roll Tide, War Eagle and go LSU Tigers!



<<< >>>


Blind Merchants of Alabama Now Charter Members of NABM


By Donna Bates


“The Blind Merchants of Alabama has recently celebrated its one-year anniversary, which means we are now charter members of the National Association of Blind Merchants. During this time we have grown our membership to over thirty people and plan to continue to expand our efforts as we move forward,” said founding President, Barbara Manuel. 


We were pleased to have several of our members represent our group on a national level at the BLAST held in Indianapolis last May.  At that convention, Manual was the first recipient of the Scott Young Award for her tireless efforts to advance blind people in business and because she was a leading force in forming the Blind Merchants of Alabama in April 2012. 


On behalf of all of the merchants, I would like to thank Southern Foods for providing transportation to and from the BLAST convention.  They generously provided a minibus and driver to our group for the trip, which allowed us to travel safely and helped to keep conference expenses more affordable.  Merchants who attended the BLAST include: Ray Dennis, Eldridge Hardy, Lataria Johnson, Robert Kelly Jr., Barbara Manual, Donna Moore, Richard Norwood, Michael Talley, Karen Underwood and Tracy Watts.  


We were so proud that so many of our entrepreneurs could attend and make a positive showing on a national level.  This was an excellent opportunity for our managers to network with other BEP managers across the country.  During the recent BLAST convention, Miss Manual was asked by Daniel Frye, from the United States Department of Education, to speak on a leadership panel (The Randolph Shepherd National Forum) in Baltimore, Maryland at the end of August.  She is honored to be serving on this panel of three Business Enterprise Program managers, who will be sharing their personal journey and their contributions toward  the success of our current BEP Program.


The Alabama Blind Merchants is an active and involved group of blind entrepreneurs who are committed to raising awareness about blind individuals who manage successful businesses and who network to share effective business practices and technology.  One example of this is the Amerisource rebate program.  Managers can sign up by calling Pat Skidmore at 706-397-2456 and receive a quarterly check based on their volume of vending sales. 


 Many of the merchants traveled to Orlando for the annual NFB Convention in July as well.   Each conference is a new opportunity to reach out to, and learn from, others in similar circumstances.


The Alabama Blind Merchants will hold their next quarterly meeting in October on the phone chat line.  Please contact Barbara Manual at [email protected] if you are interested in learning more about the Blind Merchants of Alabama.



Barbara Manuel receiving NABM of AL Charter

from Kevan Worley



<<< >>>


Indy Super BLAST 2013

By Tracey Watts


The Indy Super BLAST 2013 was a huge success!   It was by far the biggest and best BLAST yet.  With more than 500 people in attendance, the general sessions were full and the speakers gave truly dynamic presentations. Many merchants and entrepreneurs in attendance were able to bring home knowledge and tools that can be used to help us continued to have success in our business endeavors and in our lives.


On Monday, May 20, the buzz was all about the exclusive state licensing agency training.  It was packed wall-to-wall. It was a very informative day of training. In this industry we have to cover every angle of every situation and this SLA training helps us accomplish that. Also on Monday was a first time Women With Purpose Seminar.  Jean Brown, a blind entrepreneur and wife of Ron Brown, blind vender an O and M instructor, has a Day Spa that offers all of your pampering needs in an elegant setting.    Several blind venders participated in the specials that Mrs. Brown offered at her Spa


Tuesday, May 21, was kicked off with an inspirational speech by Jim Gashel, Vice President of Business Development for K-NFB Reading Technology, Inc. Later the Healthy Vending Panel presented on the proposed healthy snack ratios that could seriously affect blind operators.  The excitement did not fade later as anticipation for that afternoon’s trade show had attendees outside the doors. Once they opened, entrepreneurs made their way from booth to booth, filling their bags with products and talking with executives from Coca-Cola, Einstein Bagels, National Vending, AT Guys, and more.


Wednesday, May 22, was the luncheon that was outrageous!   Our own Barbara Manuel received the first time Scott Young Award. We, the NABMA, are very proud of her.  Keep up the good work.


On Thursday, May 23, the general session came to a close with the teaser that the next BLAST will be heading to Texas in the Fall of 2014.  Merchants, let’s do something outrageous!


Barbara Manuel was honored with the Scott Young Award at BLAST 2013

<<< >>>




Greater Rocket City Chapter Continues to Blast Off

By Susan Povinelli


Greetings from the Greater Rocket City Chapter of the National Federation of the Blind of Alabama.


We were delighted to see 162 of our fellow NFB Alabamians at this year’s NFB of Alabama convention.  A lot of good business was conducted, we raised over $3000, and a lot of fun was had by all.  The Greater Rocket City chapter hosted the 2013 convention and we want to thank everyone for making it the best NFB of Alabama convention ever. 


Since hosting the convention, our members have been busy the past five months.  Several members attended the Alabama Institute for Deaf and Blind (AIDB) Technology Symposium in June.  Also, 6 members attended the National Federation of the Blind Convention in Orlando, Florida.  We want to congratulate Terry Matney on receiving a Kenneth Jernigan fellowship to attend his first national convention.  I know everyone who attended learned about new technologies for the blind, heard about self-advocacy, networked with blind people from all over and had a good old federation good time.


The Rocket City Chapter hosted several fundraisers: a pancake breakfast at Applebee’s in June, and selling cane mittens at the convention.  


We had some great speakers during our chapter meetings, such as, Bob and Dona Lovelace; from the Madison Lions Club, discussed their Mexico mission trip where they assisted those less fortunate in Mexico to see with new glasses.  Also, Earl Williams, Massage Therapist, came to our meeting and told us how he has been running a successful business for over 10 years as a totally blind person. 


The chapter conducted several outreach events:  We hosted an information table at “The Miracle Worker,” a play about Helen Keller, held at the James Clemens High School in Madison.  


Mrs. Susan Povinelli participated in the AIDB High School Forum in Leeds, Alabama.  At the forum, Susan shared her work experiences with blind high school students.  She talked about working as a Materials Engineer with the Navy and Program Manager with the Army


If you are ever in the Huntsville area on the second Tuesday of the month at 6:45 p.m., stop by the Huntsville Library, located at 915 Monroe Street in downtown Huntsville, and come on in and say hi.


We continue to blast off and change what it means to be blind in the Rocket City.

< >


Magic City Chapter

By Cindy Jones, President


On October 12, 2013 The Magic City Chapter will hold its annual walk-a-thon. The walk will be held at Crestwood Park, which is located at 5400 Crestwood Blvd. in Birmingham.  There is a 5 dollar registration fee for adults and 3 dollars for children over the age of 5. Registration will begin at 8:00 that Saturday morning.


This walk is designed to be a fundraiser for our NFB chapter, but it is so much more. It is a time for fun, fellowship and family, for we are brothers and sisters in the federation. Please come visit with our NFB family on October 12, 2013 and join in our fun. If you have any questions, please contact the walk’s coordinator, Tracy Watts, at 205-907-4727.


< >


Mobile Chapter News


Meetings are held the first Saturday of each month at the West Mobile Regional Library, 5555 Grelot Road, Mobile, Alabama, 36609. Meeting time is 1:00 PM.


Minnie K. Walker, President

Tameka Williams, Vice-President

Ruby Anderson, Secretary



< >




Talladega Chapter


Meets monthly on the first Tuesday of each month at the Alabama Industries For The Blind Cafeteria at 5:00 PM. 

Alabama Industries is located at:

1209 Fort Lashley Avenue

Talladega, AL 35160

The Talladega Chapter board members are:  Vincent Armstrong, President;  Jeffrey Wilson, Vice President;  Martha Thompson, Secretary;  Thelma Turner, Treasurer;  Willie Ward, Board Member;  Pazater Turner, Board Member;  Antonito Wiggins, Board Member.


< >



Montgomery Chapter News

By Barbara Manuel


Reaching the Blind, One Person at a Time


The Montgomery Chapter of NFB is continuing to seek out persons to share the exciting things we are doing on a state and local level. Currently, each month we are participating with a local group of visually impaired individuals at Aldersgate Church where information is being shared by all. The Louisiana Center for the Blind is on our radar for this year. We are nailing down final plans with Pam Allen, Director of LCB. October is almost here and we will plan a membership drive.


Meetings are every fourth Tuesday via the telephone. Mr. Robert Kelly Jr. is continually looking for ways to inspire and connect our community and telling everyone about the benefits and privileges of becoming a part of this great movement.


<<< >>>

Consider Becoming a Dog Guide User?

By Carol Braithwaite


 “Why would a person want to use a dog guide instead of a cane? A vocational rehabilitation counselor recently asked me. ” It’s a good question. The only good answer is “personal choice.” It’s like preferring an Acura over a BMW, or like choosing to remain single n instead of getting married. Different people are suited to different choices.


I consider it a great privilege to have the choice to use a dog guide in addition to using a cane, because other people who care about blind people having choices have made it possible for me to team up with one of these very specialized animals. It costs between $50,000 and $75,000 to train a dog guide team for the entire life of the dog. That covers breeding, veterinary care, puppy-raising, food and grooming tools, toys, travel expenses for emergency care if the dog must return to the schools’ vet for treatment, AND trainers’ and administrators’ salaries. It also covers training costs for the handler who ends up as the dog’s partner. For some schools that means room, board, and travel costs as well as paying training and administration costs.  I have had two dog guides provided by others’ generosity


Traveling with my Guide Dog Reyna gives me freedom in certain ways that using a cane does not. For instance, I can hike with my husband without having to depend on him to tell me about every overhanging branch I should avoid. When one comes along, Reyna stops briefly for me to check in front of me to see tactually what she sees visually. With Reyna I can run up a flight of stairs or travel through a puddly parking lot without wading in a big puddle. She also keeps me out of dangers that a cane cannot. For instance, when a Prius is backing up in a parking lot I am crossing, she sees it rolling toward us before there is any sound coming from the engine to alert me to get out of the way, and she pushes my leg to let me know which way to move to get out of the way. This actually happened to us at work one day

I have more opportunities to interact with people around me out in public because they are curious about my dog or want to pet her. This gives me the opportunity to politely say “no” or to take her harness off to oblige them. Reyna always loves that, to be petted, and it gives me the chance to chat about how enjoyable life is in spite of, or sometimes even because of, being blind.  It also gives me the chance to increase their awareness of how a person who has some vision, as I do, can be blind. I like advocating for us in this way. Using a cane does not arouse as much curiosity from the public as Reyna does. Somehow people seem to want to avoid a person with a cane more often than not. Reyna helps me to stay in the mainstream of life.

With the freedom of traveling with a dog guide comes certain responsibilities, of course. I had to consider all of these carefully before committing to train with my first guide Daniela in 2002. The dog must be supervised at all times, which is somewhat like having a child with you 24/7. Even when Reyna sleeps, I have her within earshot so I can be aware if she is sick or needs to go outside during the night (which hardly ever happens, thankfully). I must keep her groomed daily, which includes regularly brushing her teeth. I must keep her skills sharp by going through her obedience routine often and walking with her regularly. I must pay for food, toys, medicines, some vet care, and maybe kennel care upon rare occasions. I must keep other people from feeding her, interacting with her when the harness is on or hurting her. Sometimes people who fear dogs scream when we come near, and sometimes people do not control their children around Reyna. Sometimes they are downright rude by, insisting upon petting my dog even after I have asked them to leave her alone. I must be prepared to be patient with the public’s ignorance, patient with their questions, firm with setting their  boundaries, and considerate of their fears. I must give my attention, approval, discipline, and lots of love-- sometimes even when all I want to do is be left alone.


I must commit wholeheartedly to being a team player. That’s a tall order. I chose to live this way, though, and it is one of the most freeing things I have ever done. To travel through a mall without fear of running into people or benches or kiosks while reading store signs is so much faster and fun than using my cane. Crossing busy streets where the traffic is so loud I cannot tell by the sound that a car is turning right on red in front of me is not nearly so much work with a well-trained guide dog as with a cane because my furry friend will not go forward into the street, even if I tell her to.  When the harness is off and my guide becomes just a well-trained pet for a while, my family and I have the joy of playing with her. This is especially fun at the beach, where she snaps at foam as the waves roll in and furiously digs for sand crabs.  At the lake she swims for two hours at a time with no break except to paddle over to me occasionally, roll on her back, and rest her head on my shoulder.


I hope I have given you readers who are considering training with a dog guide some insight as you make your decision. And you devotees of the long white cane, I want you to know that I am still appreciative of my long cane and use it every day when Reyna is on tie-down. A person cannot even qualify to get a dog guide without first being a proficient cane traveler, and a dog guide is never a full replacement for the cane’s invaluable ticket to freedom


Cane traveler, dog guide traveler--they are equally worthy lifestyles, and each skill carries with it its own challenges and joys for the traveler.



<<< >>>

National Association of Guide Dog Users Sponsors


Submitted by Marion Gwizdala


The National Association of Guide Dog Users (NAGDU), a strong & proud division of the National Federation of the Blind, sponsors an innovative telephone service. The NAGDU Information & Advocacy Hotline not only offers information about the legal rights of individuals who use service animals, it offers the option to speak with an advocate who is trained to resolve access denials. According to the federal guidelines that took effect on March 15, 2011, , a service animal is “any dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability”. (28 CFR Part 35.104 & 28 CFR Part 36.104).


“We find that most access problems are the result of a lack of information,” says Michael Hingson, the Association’s Vice President who serves as Project Manager for the hotline. “This hotline is an excellent resource for accurate information.”


The NAGDU Education & Advocacy Hotline currently offers general information about service animals under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA),   as well as specific guidance concerning restaurants, taxicabs, and health care facilities. Callers needing immediate assistance can connect directly to a live trained advocate. Future plans for the hotline include summaries of each of the state laws concerning service animals, more industry specific information, and guidance in a variety of languages, such as Spanish, Mandarin and Arabic. The Hotline is available anytime by calling, toll-free,888-NAGDU411 (888-624-3841).


The NAGDU Information & Advocacy Hotline was created by a grant from the National Federation of the Blind’s (NFB) Imagination Fund, as well as with contributions from the California and Florida Associations of Guide Dog Users. The National Association of Guide Dog Users is a strong and proud division of the NFB. NAGDU conducts public awareness campaigns on issues of guide dog use, provides advocacy support for guide dog handlers who face discrimination, supports effective legislation to protect the rights of service animal users, offers educational programs to school and civic organizations, and functions as an integral part of the National Federation of the Blind. For more information about the National Association of Guide Dog Users or to support its work, you can visit their website at




Or send an email message to

[email protected]


<<< >>>

The Long White Cane

By Kate Smith


I just finished a summer teaching in the Summer Training and Employment Project (STEP) at the Louisiana Center for the Blind. It was a remarkable experience in so many ways, but one thing that was particularly eye-opening for me was how thoroughly the STEP teenagers embraced the long white cane.  They even wrote and performed a song for their talent show which included the line "find yourself with a long white cane."  Isn't that awesome? They really took to heart the NFB message that the cane meant independence and freedom for them.  And what teenager does not want independence and freedom?


A few days after I returned from Louisiana, I had the pleasure of going to my daughter's baby shower.  A dear old friend, Georgia, was there, wearing a lovely pink outfit honoring my soon-to-be-born granddaughter.  Georgia is in her early 80s and she has macular degeneration. As usual, when we meet these days, Georgia and I talked about our mutual encroaching blindness. Georgia knows all about my training at the LCB and this time, she was curious about my decision to teach in the STEP program.  I quickly stepped onto my soapbox to tell her how dismal education services can be for blind and partially sighted K-12 kids, and set about describing how the STEP program, like all the programs offered at LCB, encourages blind people to be independent.  


I told Georgia that some of the teens had a little useful vision and had not used a cane very much before the summer, but their skills rapidly improved in the STEP program.  I described how one of the girls who feared crossing streets under a blindfold had stayed at a street corner for nearly half an hour on her first day in class, never making the decision to go -- and how that same girl was confidently and proudly crossing streets after a few weeks in the program.  I enthusiastically told Georgia how the STEP students walked home from a restaurant at night, attended the Peach Festival in Ruston, went to the farmer's market, and independently shopped at the Boardwalk in Shreveport.  


"They did all those things?" Georgia was impressed that vision-impaired teenagers could be so independent.  "Sure," I answered, "they were really motivated and excited about doing things with their peers--and without their parents hovering about."  She chuckled at that, and shook her head knowingly.  Like myself, Georgia knows from personal experience that teenagers value their independence above all else.  That desire for independence keeps a lot of younger folks committed to their training in STEP and the LCB adult program.  


Before we parted, I told Georgia that there are retreat weekends for seniors at the LCB and reminded her that she could get a free cane at the NFB site on the Internet.  Although her son began to make encouraging noises, Georgia quickly shook her head dismissively.  "I don't need that yet," she said.  


Of course, I said no more.  Georgia has her own choices to make about how to deal with her vision loss.  But I am always curious when I meet a blind person who resists carrying a white cane because they have some limited vision.  Why not use every tool available to deal with the difficulties?


Now, I really shouldn't be wondering that at all, because I resisted learning blindness techniques myself for many years.  And probably for the same reason ... like Georgia, I have residual vision enough to navigate around obstacles and see bright colors like pink.  Until recently, I just didn't think of myself as being blind.   But my "vision impairment" sure caused me a lot of problems.  Before I learned how to use a cane, I could not walk around at night and I wouldn't consider going to a crowded street festival or the farmers market.   Shopping by myself was out of the question, too.


And that was not all. While I was still stubbornly insisting I wasn't blind, I expected my daughter to help me shop for groceries and I wanted my son to take the day off from work and drive me to the doctor.  I repeatedly asked my husband to look for my sweater ... my cell phone ... my tea cup.  And he had to sweep the floor ... walk the dog ... fold my socks ... plug in the lamp ... fill the coffeepot ... in short, endlessly wait on me.  Because I didn't know how to do those things anymore.  Or rather, the way I had learned to do those things was not working for me anymore.  In fact, I was clearly blind long before I was willing to believe it.


I knew I needed to change the way I did things, so I finally learned some blindness techniques like using the white cane. But everyone is different.  Perhaps Georgia does not feel too restricted by her vision loss.  And maybe her family lives closer and doesn't work or raise children.  I only hope that Georgia does not tell herself she's too old to learn new things or to do much anyway.  She has too many good years left to sit rocking on the porch.


And I wonder if Georgia has considered how a cane could help her in ways other than getting around obstacles?  I know I did not know how a cane could help me until I had been using one for a while.  Did you know that you can use a cane to find something you dropped just by laying it flat on the ground and sweeping it in a wide arc around you?  And of course, a cane can tell you whether that dark spot on the ground in front of you is a shadow or a hole.  My husband suggests that it could be used to poke one's spouse awake -- I promise you I have never done that.  But, hmmm, that brings to mind all sorts of possibilities . . . .


Seriously, I know some folks think carrying a cane is like carrying a sign that shouts, "I am blind."  But who do they think they are kidding?  When they go shopping they hold a can of beans two inches from one of their eyes and tilt their head sideways so as not to block the light.  And then they ask their companion if it’s a can of beans.  And at the family reunion, they bend way down close to the buffet table, looking for the mashed potatoes but looking for all the world like they are sniffing the food.  They carry on a conversation with the person next in line at the grocery store, not realizing his comments are directed to the person at the other end of his cell phone call.  And they have, at least once, tried to get into a stranger's car just because it’s the same color as the car they came in.


I have done all of those things and I have heard many similar stories from my blind compatriots, particularly those who lost their sight slowly and incompletely.  There is something about that little bit of vision that keeps our brains believing we are getting along alright doing things the same old way.   We have just enough vision to get us in trouble.


Maybe Georgia will eventually see some value in getting a cane.  She has already begun to show one sign of acceptance -- she tells her friends and relations that she can no longer see well enough to recognize who they are.  When I started to do that, I had crossed a Rubicon -- every time I communicated my vision loss to others, I was admitting to my heart and soul that I was going blind.  The relief was tremendous, because I was no longer working so hard to keep up appearances.  It was only a small step from there to being glad that the cane announced my blindness to the world.  It was a relief to know I could ask the kid at the cash register in McDonald's for help reading the menu, and that he could see I wasn't illiterate.


For me, the white cane represents more than a means to get around physical obstacles; it represents a way to get around the obstacles I built for myself in my head.  It reminds me that, instead of thinking, "I can't do that," I need to think "how can I do that?"  And, yes, it tells the entire world that I am blind. But that's not all it says.  In fact, it proudly shouts, “I am blind, and I'm dealing with it and I'm OK."  And I can live with that.


<<< >>>


White Cane Walk


Please join the Alabama White Cane Walk being held on October 19, 2013 at the Disability Rights & Resources Center, 1418 Sixth Avenue, North, Birmingham. The route is from the Disability Rights and Resources Center to Linn Park. Registration begins at 8:00 AM and the walk begins at 9:00.

The following activities will take place:  Free Vision Screenings; Hands-On Activities; Recreation; Entertainment; Career Exploration; Assistive Technology; Low Vision Aids; Blind and Low Vision Resources & Assistance


For more information and to register online, visit our website at:

<<< >>>


Apple Core

Where Did I Put My Shopping List?

By Susan K. Povinelli


I remember growing up that my mother had a note taker which contained a four inch roll of paper.  She used the note taker to write her grocery list, or a to-do list.  These notes were helpful reminders of what items my mom needed or what tasks she had to accomplish.  Now that I think about it, she would post notes in many different places.  She would also hang notes on the kitchen cupboard door or on the front of the refrigerator by using magnets.  I guess I have picked up a few of her bad habits.  I love using my slate and stylus to generate shopping lists, but I find it difficult to check them off when I am done.  I also hate it when you get to the store and remember your shopping list is still hanging on the refrigerator. And, what about the times when your spouse reminds you that you need to buy something and you are miles away from your list? 


One thing I wanted to learn to do with my IPhone was to create lists.  I tried a few of the grocery list applications, but they weren’t user friendly.  Then I came across Listo by SlippySoft, Inc.  Listo helps you keep grocery lists, a list of books to read, your to-do list and on and on.  The lists are available whenever and wherever you need them. Listo is simple to use.  You double-tap on the “Add New list” button and then type in the list name and press Done.


Once you have created the list, open it by double-tapping on the list name.  Once in the list, you will see the following buttons: “My List Back,” “Export List,” “Re-order Items,” “Clear Complete,” and “Add Items.”  Just like paper lists, you add items and cross them off.  Cross off completed item such as cheese, by double-tapping on the item.  The item is visually crossed off, Voice Over says “Cheese completed,” and the  completed item moves to the bottom of the list.  I like this feature because I don't have to read them again.  You can turn off this automatic feature in settings. Completed items remain on your list, so you can un-cross them to re-use next week, or double-tap the “clear completed” button to remove all the completed items from your list.


The items on a list can be rearranged.  Double-tap on the “Re-order Item” button.  You will hear “re-order (the item name), dragable” button.  Double-tap and hold until you hear the chime.  Slide your finger in any direction until you get to the desired position on the list, lift your finger, and then double-tap on the “Done” button.


I have sent lists by email or text message to Larry when I wanted him to pick something up at the store for me, by double-tapping on the “Export Items” button.  Listo does not have the capability of printing directly to a printer.  I work around this difficulty by sending my list to my printer’s email address.

Listo uses iCloud to keep your lists instantly up-to-date on all your ios devices. Listo assigns a device tag for each item so you know who added it to the list.  Share and Unshare lists by tapping on the gear icon to access list settings. In the settings application, ensure that all your devices are logged into the same iCloud account and that "Documents & Data" is on. I would recommend that you use a bluetooth earphone so you can hear it better while shopping.


So stop writing yourself notes on sticky notes, 3 by 5 cards, or the back of that napkin.  Stop losing those paper lists you leave laying around the house.  Join the technology age and create a list in Listo and you'll never lose your list again.  You can always call your phone and find it.



<<< >>>




 Phone Faith Chat Line is Going Strong

By Barbara Manual



The Chat Line is reaching its goal of educating, inspiring and connecting the blind community. We are receiving the approval and support of more and more individuals willing to join the movement!


Recently we initiated a “Fitness Room,” room 348, Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. Jenny from Indiana hosts “Walk Away the Pounds.”


Michael Talley continues to “WOW” everyone with “The BEP Round Table. People are calling in from Massachusetts, Oregon, Texas, Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina, just to mention a few states participating.


All roads will lead to Montgomery this December as we once again have our “Great Gathering” with our Phone Faith Family!


Join us as we forge into our “Bright Future!”



<<< >>>











September 29 – October 2nd, 2013 --Andalusia, Alabama

4 days and 3 nights All inclusive fellowship, education, recreation

and joy-filled community.  Come “see” Blue Lake Camp through different eyes as we host the 4th Annual Extreme Experience Vision Retreat for blind and sight-impaired adults.  Independent living skills, technology training, medical awareness, and everyday tips are taught by experts who are themselves sight impaired.  Attendees swim in Blue Lake, enjoy the water Slides, go fishing, shoot archery, hit the driving range, crafts, community sharing and campfire and many other exciting activities are offered!


Extreme Experience Retreat is a partnership of Blue Lake Camp and the Covington County Blind and Low Vision Outreach group

$190.00 for this all inclusive learning workshop.

Call for more details!


Wanda Scroggins (334) 428-3335


Email:  [email protected] .




8500 Oakwood Lane Andalusia, AL. 36420



<<< >>>





Easy Holiday Recipes


Submitted by The Magic City Chapter



(6-8 Servings)

       1 pkg. "JIFFY" Corn Muffin Mix

       1/2 cup margarine or butter, melted

       1 can (8 oz.) whole kernel corn, drained

       1 can (8 oz.) cream style corn

       1 cup sour cream

       2 eggs


Preheat oven to 375°, grease 1-1/2 quart casserole dish.

Pour margarine or butter and corn into prepared dish. Blend in sour cream. In separate bowl, beat eggs and stir into casserole along with muffin mix. Blend thoroughly. Bake 35-40 minutes or until center is firm. Serve hot with butter.



Submitted by Montgomery Chapter



2 cups sugar

3 cups water

2 apples

2 oranges

2 cups cranberries

Boil sugar and water together for 5 minutes. Add peeled and sliced apples and cook slowly for 15 minutes. Add oranges, cut in thin slices, and cranberries, and continue cooking for 10 minutes longer.

Serve cold with meat or poultry, or as a dessert.





1 qt. cranapple juice

2 cinnamon sticks

6 whole cloves

Simmer for at least 20 minutes on low to medium. Let spices sit in juice for an hour before turning on heat for best flavor.

This looks so pretty in clear mugs with an orange slice on the mug.



<<< >>>



Thank you for reading this issue of The Focus:  Alabama's Blind Community At A Glance.  Our first year has been a success.  We appreciate those who took the time to contribute articles to this issue.


Contact me if you have any questions or comments concerning this newsletter.  We would like to hear from you.


Gail Smith, Editor


[email protected]

(205) 221-1514


















Thank you for your interest and support. By donating to the NFB of Alabama, you can help make a significant difference in the lives of blind people across the great state of Alabama.

Please make all donations payable to the NFB of Alabama and mail them to: Attention NFBAL donations

Lawrence Povinelli, Treasurer 

121 Cork Alley

Madison, AL 35758