National Federation of the Blind of Alabama

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


The Focus          

Alabama’s Blind Community at a Glance


Volume II, Number 2, Winter 2014

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 Winter 2014 edition of The Focus.  A big Thank You goes out to the contributors of this issue. This newsletter is the voice of the NFB of Alabama. It is a newsletter filled with articles that demonstrate the NFB of Alabama's dedication and enthusiasm for changing what it means to be blind in our state!

Gail Smith, Editor

[email protected]

Table of Contents

From the President’s Desk - By Joy Harris

2014 NFB of Alabama Convention Fast Approaching-By Larry Povinelli

NFB of Alabama State Convention Flyer/Registration

Annual Convention Exhibitors Registration Form

Art Schreiber: A Witness to Rock ‘N Roll History-By Gail Smith

Working on Completing a Pass-By Jerry Yeager

Blind of Alabama Visits Congress-By Larry Povinelli

Greetings from Greater Rocket City Chapter-By Susan Povinelli

Update from the Talladega Chapter-By Jeffrey Wilson

Magic City Chapter-By Cindy Jones

Magic City 2013 Annual Walk-a-thon-By Tracy Watts

Montgomery Chapter-By Robert Kelly Jr

Mobile Chapter-By Minnie K. Walker

Blind Merchants: Forging Into a Brighter Future-By Barbara Manuel

Merchant Division Expands Membership-By Donna Bates

NFB 2014 National Convention

The Kenneth Jernigan Convention Scholarship Fund-By Allen Harris

NFB Vehicle Donation Program

Are You a Legally Blind College Student?

An Update From the 2012 NFB College Scholarship Winner From Alabama-By Brandy Wood

2013 Onkyo Braille Essay Contest Winners-From Jernigan Institute Newsletter

What I Learned From Winning the 2013 Onkyo Braille Essay Contest-By Jerry McKee

A Visit with Louis-By Jerry McKee

Confessions of a Blind Cook-By Carol Braithwaite

Southern Fusion Mobile-By Chef Ivan Walker

Cooking in the Rocket City-By Sue Povinelli

Cooking in the Magic City-By Cindy Jones

Cooking in Montgomery-By Robert Kelly Jr

Apple Core-By Susan Povinelli

VIP 3000 Talking Thermostat-By Susan Povinelli

Phone Faith-By Jaybee Johnson

Phone Faith Meet and Greet-By Lois William

Baby it’s Cold Outside-By Kate Smith

Closing Remarks-By Gail Smith, Editor

From the President's Desk

By Joy Harris 

It is hard to believe that another six months has passed since our last issue of the Focus was published.  The National Federation of the Blind of Alabama and its Chapters have been busy.   Our members have participated in a variety of fundraisers, such as raffles, walk-a-thons and nut sales, just to name a few.  The NFB of Alabama participated in the first annual White Cane Walk.  The event was planned and organized by ADRS, and many other groups participated in this event.  The NFB of Alabama had over 60 members at this walk.  You will read more about these activities later in this issue of The Focus.

During the week of January 27th through the 30th, six members of our affiliate attended the Washington Seminar.  The members in our Alabama Delegation were on Capitol Hill talking with our Congressmen, Congresswomen and our Senators about three issues supported by the NFB.  In this issue of The Focus you will read more about these issues.

Believe it or not, it is almost time for our annual State Convention that will be held at the DoubleTree Hotel in Birmingham on March 7th through the 9th, 2014.  On Friday the 7th of March our convention will begin with two informative seminars.  We will be holding an Orientation and Mobility seminar that will be conducted by our National representative this year, Dr. Fred Schroeder and a technology seminar conducted by Mr. Bill Boules.  Friday evening we will be having a Bingo fundraiser with some snacks, prizes and a lot of fun.  Everyone is invited.

On Saturday morning, March 8th, we will have a program that I believe will be fun, and informative for everyone. Watch for the agenda for more details. The highlight of the weekend will be our Saturday Evening Banquet.  Dr. Fred Schroeder will be giving our banquet address that you don't want to miss. There will be plenty of door prizes and an exciting Auction.  Sunday morning we will hold our business meeting.  We want this to be our biggest Convention yet.  That will not happen without your help.  You must attend!!

In this issue you will find our Convention flyer and Registration form for your convenience.  To get the hotel rates of $94.00 for a room, you must make your reservations with the hotel by February 15th 2014.  The final day to send your registration in by mail is February 28th to get the discounted registration fee and banquet price.  Hope to see all of you at our NFBA Convention.

A very important program of the National Federation of the Blind is our Newsline service.  Newsline includes access to more than 300 newspapers and magazines.  Newsline offers a job service which allows individuals to review work opportunities and to apply for employment.  Also, Newsline offers the Target store listings and TV programming. There is a State Information Channel where you can find upcoming events and articles of interest to the blind.  If you are not signed up for Newsline or want more information, please contact our Newsline coordinator Jeffrey Wilson at (256) 589-2096. 

In closing, the NFB of Alabama continues to advocate for blind persons and works to improve opportunities and services for all blind persons. I look forward to seeing all of you at our upcoming State Convention and I want to thank all of you for your continued support.  Without your participation and continued support, the NFBA would not be as effective as we are.



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2014 NFB of Alabama Convention

Fast Approaching

By Larry Povinelli


Come join us for our 2014 National Federation of the Blind of Alabama convention.  If you were able to join us in the Rocket City last March, you may recall that our 2013 convention really went off with a loud blast and roared all weekend.  This year is proving to be even bigger and better.  We will have exciting exhibitors, technology as well as informative seminars on Friday, March 7.


Our national representative is none other than Fredric Schroeder.  Fred is our current First Vice President of the National Federation of the Blind and First Vice President of the World Blind Union.  Fred is a good friend and an established leader in the world for the rights of the blind.  Fred was the Commissioner of the Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA) from 1994 until 2001.  So you will not want to miss the opportunity to meet Fred and gain some valuable knowledge from him. 


The weekend of March 7 through 9 will be like no other with many dynamic speakers.  We will be meeting at the DoubleTree Hotel located at 808 20th Street South, Birmingham, Alabama 35205.  You can reserve a room by calling (205) 933-9000 and asking for the NFB rate.  This year’s rate is $94 per night, plus tax.  A registration form is included elsewhere in the Focus and is also available online at  I know that the convention is always a time for me to recharge my battery.  We are always facing the negative attitudes from the general public about blindness, but this is one weekend I know that I can hang my blindness up at the door and be just like everyone else.  So please come join us in Birmingham.  I look forward to seeing you all there, renewing friendships and meeting new people.  The federation is one big family changing what it means to be blind. 

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President Joy Harris hopes to see all of you at

the 72nd annual convention of the

National Federation of the Blind of Alabama


When    :            March 7, 8, & 9, 2014


Where:       DoubleTree Hotel

808 20th Street South

Birmingham, Alabama 35205

(205) 933-9000


Please make your own hotel reservations by 02-15-14   and use the code NFBA for the room rates of $94 per night + taxes.  After this date, rooms will be available on a first come first serve basis and the rates may CHANGE!


Who:    Everyone is welcome to join us. You may pre-register by downloading a form from Mail your form and payment by Feb. 28, 2014.


Pre-Convention prices are:  Pre-Registration is $15; Pre-Lunch is $15; Pre-Banquet is $30.


At convention prices are:  Registration is $20; Lunch is $20; Banquet is $35.


2014 State Convention Chairpersons

Larry Povinelli                      Convention Coordinator         703-969-6476

Larry Povinelli                      Registration                         703-969-6476

Jeffrey Wilson                    Exhibits                       256-761-6823

Susan Povinelli                     Door prizes                          256-325-4120






The 2014 NFBA Convention will kick off on Friday afternoon, March 7. The afternoon will feature two informative seminars:  The first will bring you a wealth of information regarding Orientation and Mobility.  The second seminar will bring you up-to-date on the most current technologies for the blind.


Friday evening, March 7, there will be an exciting BINGO fundraiser for an opportunity to win terrific prizes. Come join us for fun and fellowship! 


On Saturday, March 8, we will hear from many outstanding speakers throughout the day, including our National Representative. Their topics will include issues that affect the Blind in Alabama and across the nation. 


Saturday evening, March 8, the highlight of the convention is our Banquet. You don’t want to miss this fantastic evening with your Federation family.  There will be a great meal and an inspiring keynote speaker. Make your plans to join us! 


On Sunday morning, March 9, our 72nd National Federation of the Blind of Alabama State Convention will conclude with our annual business meeting.


Come join us in Birmingham for the 2014 NFBA Convention!



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Annual Convention Exhibitors Registration Form

DoubleTree Hotel

 808 20th Street South- Birmingham , AL 35205

Ph # (205) 933-9000

March 7, 8 and 9 of 2014



Beginning Friday March 7 at 12:00 p.m. and concluding Sunday March 9 at 12:00 p.m.




If you are an exhibiter, Registration for the convention is not included in your Exhibitor Fee.


Exhibitor Fee:  (choose category that applies)

·      Community Rehabilitation Training program - $150.00

·      Commercial products vendor - $150.00

·      Other Consumer organization - $150.00

·      National Federation of the Blind Chapter - FREE

Exhibitor Guidelines:

Setup time: 

Exhibitors may set up March 7 at 10:00 a.m.

Exhibition hall hours:

·      Friday March 7, 12:00 p.m. until 7:00 p.m. 

·      Saturday March 8, 7:00 a.m. until 9:00 a.m. and 12:00 p.m. until 2:00 p.m.


Each exhibitor will have:

·      1-2 tables

·      Listing in the convention program

Exhibitor registration fee does NOT INCLUDE convention registration. Registration includes admission to all sessions and Friday evening activities. Convention registration is $15.00 before February 28 or $20 at convention.


Exhibitor Requirements

Check all that apply:  Power q Telephone q  Number of Tables_____________


Other: ____________________________________________________


Name of Exhibit: ____________________________________________

Name(s) of Representatives:_______________________________________________

Phone number:______________________________________________________

Address: _____________________________________________________

Email: _______________________________________________________

Website: _____________________________________________________



Checks or purchased money orders should be payable to: "NFB of Alabama".

Please return this form with payment to:


NFB of Alabama

Larry Povinelli, Treasurer

121 Cork Alley

Madison, AL 35758

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Art Schreiber: A Witness to

Rock ‘N Roll History

By Gail Smith


We are pleased to announce that fellow NFB member, Art Schreiber of New Mexico, will give a presentation at our state convention this year. Art Schreiber is one of only two American reporters who traveled with The Beatles on their first U.S. tour in 1964.  He will share his experiences about his time with John, Paul, George and Ringo during the three weeks that he spent with them. Art is the only American we know who played Monopoly with John Lennon and George Harrison during the tour.


Schreiber spent more than 50 years in broadcast journalism and covered many of the major American stories of the 1960’s and 1970’s, including the Space Program, the Civil Rights Movement, and John F. Kennedy.


Art’s presentation of this historic tour will give insight to the Beatles, America’s reactions and his perspective of how Beatlemania started. Join us for a trip back in time to learn the details from someone who was there living rock ‘n roll history for three weeks. This will be a captivating presentation that you won’t want to miss. 


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Working on Completing a Pass

By Jerry Yeager

 Editor's note: Jerry Yeager is a new member of the Magic City Chapter and was a team member for the Washington Seminar.  While this was his first time with Alabama, he previously led the NFB of Virginia's Washington Seminar effort for 33 years.


With Team Captain Joy Harris temporarily sidelined, First Vice President Cindy Jones led her NFBA squad to this year's Washington Seminar, where the NFB tackles the hard-hitting issues affecting the blind on a national level.  Specifically, Jones wanted to assist with the completion of three key legislative passes:  1) Passage of H.R. 831, the Fair Wages for Workers With Disabilities Act, which would phase out the practice of some sheltered workshops paying the disabled less than the minimum wage; 2) passage of the TEACH ACT, H.R. 3505, that would provide a standard format for educational materials used in higher education to avoid inaccessible electronic documents; and 3) the passage of the Air Carrier Technology Accessibility Act, which would make kiosks, websites and applications used by air carriers accessible to the blind.


To move these balls downfield, Cindy assembled a fearsome crew of veterans and rookies.  Second year man Jeff Wilson (Talladega) and recent trade Larry Povinelli (Huntsville) were sent ahead to the weekend seminar in Baltimore to study the playbook for the best advantages to be gained on the field.  Talented rookies Brandy Wood and Carol Braithwaite arrived on Monday the 27th for the Great Gathering and meeting at the Holiday Inn close to Capitol Hill.  They heard from Congressman Gregg Harper (Mississippi), the author of the Fair Wages legislation and Congressman Petri of Wisconsin, who had introduced the TEACH Act.  The pep in this rally was considerable, with teams from 48 states and two territories in attendance.  After a team dinner, all rested for the scrimmage ahead.


Fueled by Starbucks from the hotel lobby, the NFBA crew hit the House office buildings the next morning, pounding along the endless corridors of power in search of fair treatment for the blind.  Jones had crafted the maneuvers through tireless planning sessions with Hill schedulers and both Senate offices and all seven Congressional offices felt the strength of the NFBA's persistent offense.  Of particular note were the meetings with Congressman Rogers, Congressman Aderholt and Congresswoman Sewell, who passed on Michelle Obama's tips on taking a good photo to the team.  Every office was educated on the issues and promised to consider supporting the requests.


Despite an air travel hiccup for Brandy, all on the team had a good time and was thankful for the relatively warmer weather of our nation's Capital.  All appreciated the trust placed in them by their NFBA teammates to represent them in Washington, and all will follow up to ensure that these passes are completed.


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Alabama’s Delegation Visits Congresswoman Terri Sewell  

Blind of Alabama Visits Congress

by Larry Povinelli

Six Alabamians attended the 2014 NFB Washington seminar.  Two first time attendees, Carol Braithwaite and Brandy Wood, enjoyed attending our congressional delegation meetings and they both truly were excited to participate in our democratic process.  The delegation had the opportunity to meet with Congressman Robert Aderholt, Congressman Mike Rogers and Congresswoman Terri Sewell.  Pictures with Aderholt and Sewell appear elsewhere in the Focus.


This year's seminar addressed fair wages, accessible technology in higher education and equal access to air travel. Visit for complete fact sheets. 


Seeing 550 other Federationists on Capitol Hill really brings home our ability to change what it means to be blind.  Visiting and creating relationships with our Alabama delegation allows us to have our voice heard in our nation's capital.


I urge everyone to consider joining us in Washington next January to participate in our legislative efforts.  Despite the cold, snow and airport delays, all our NFB delegation have returned to our sweet home in Alabama. As you can see, the Federation is truly changing what it means to be blind.





Congressman Robert Alderhold Talks with the Alabama Delegates


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Around Our State


Greetings from the Greater Rocket City Chapter

By Susan Povinelli


We started the year with elections of our officers.  Congratulations to Lakeesha Acklin, President; Terry Matney, First Vice president; Richard Norwood, second Vice President, Susan Povinelli, Secretary; Larry Povinelli, Treasurer, Steve Turner and Leland Bunn as board members.


We celebrated the holidays with the Madison and the Pacesetters Lion Clubs with a traditional turkey dinner and loads of door prizes.  We all provided donations for the “Lunches of Love” Project so underprivileged school children could have food during the holiday break.


Larry povinelli will attend the Washington Seminar as our chapter and state representative.  He will also participate in a legist ration workshop at the National Center before the Washington Seminar.


Several members attended the state board meeting in December.  We participated in the planning meeting for the upcoming state convention. Congratulation to Richard Norwood for winning third prize in our state raffle.

We had some interesting speakers at our chapter meetings.  Ms. Ellen Rudykoff, from the Department of Veteran Affairs, VIST Coordinator, described Blindness programs at the VA Center in Birmingham. Larry Povinelli and Terry Matney shared their experiences on their first Matric Century – “All you can eat century”, on September 21, 2013.  Also Theresa Wilson, “Lunches of Love” Project described her program of supplying food so underprivileged students would have food during the weekend.  It was agreed this project would be our service project during the holidays.


Several of our members attended Birmingham’s Chapter Walk-a-thon- and the AIBD White Cane Day events in October.  Everyone had a great time at these events.

Our members are beginning to make plans to attend the state convention in Birmingham.  See you all there in March.


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

For more information, contact Larry povinelli at 256-325-4120 or [email protected].


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Update From the Talladega Chapter

By Jeffrey Wilson


The Talladega Chapter donated our annual contribution of $150 to the Alabama Instructional Resource Center for the Blind. We also sponsored a child’s Christmas at the Alabama School for the Blind.


Congratulations to Vince Armstrong, President of the Talladega Chapter, for being selected as ADVOCATE OF THE YEAR


 This award is public recognition of an individual (such as a family member or volunteer) or rehabilitation professional who has demonstrated exceptional devotion to duty toward promoting self-advocacy, employment, and improving the quality of life for individuals with disabilities.





Advocate of the Year

Winner – Vincent Armstrong

Nominated by– Jeffrey Wilson


I have known Mr. Armstrong since 1980. In 2002, I had the opportunity to work with Mr. Armstrong at the Alabama Industries for the Blind as a production worker.  It was during my time at the Alabama Industries for the Blind (2002 – 2005) that I saw him in a different light. He was always committed to ensuring that blind and visually impaired individuals, friends and co-workers were able to reach their maximum potential. Without being paid, he insured that co-workers knew as much as possible about their jobs by training them and answering any questions. If Mr. Armstrong felt that an individual could do more or something different, he would meet with the administration and make recommendations. In an effort to show off his skills as a blind person and possibly recruit more job opportunities for blind people, he was recommended to a public job in York, Alabama. This recommendation came with the agreement that if the job ended due to no fault of Mr. Armstrong, he would return to the Industries for employment. Well, the plant closed down and Mr. Armstrong returned to the Industries for employment. He was always determined to learn something new. If he was told that a blind person couldn’t do a job, it seemed to light a fire in him. He always became determined to teach himself that job which he was told he couldn’t do. While training others, training himself to run new machines and going to bat for others; he continued to do the job which he was hired to do. In 2012, Mr. Armstrong was hired as a trainer at the Alabama Industries for the Blind.


Also in 2002, he began volunteering his time to the National White Cane Safety Day. Mr. Armstrong remains committed to this annual event.


As long as I have known anything about the National Federation of the Blind (NFB), he has been a member. In 2004, he became the Chapter President here in Talladega. He continues to serve as President of the Talladega Chapter and has served as the State President as well. Under Mr. Armstrong’s leadership, the Talladega Chapter has made annual contributions to the Alabama Instructional Resource Center for the Blind. The Talladega NFB Chapter sponsors an annual children’s Christmas function each year at the Alabama School for the Blind. 


Over the years he has participated in all fundraising events for various organizations such as NFB, etc. Mr. Armstrong has always been willing to help anytime he is asked.


The Talladega Chapter meets on the first Tuesday of each month, at the Alabama Industries for the Blind, at 4:30 PM. We welcome all visitors. For more information please contact Vincent Armstrong at (256) 493-3811.


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Magic City Chapter

By Cindy Jones


The Magic city Chapter in Birmingham held elections in November and the results are as follows:

President Cindy Jones

First vice president Ellen Jones

Second Vice President Karen Underwood

Secretary Carol Braithwaite

Treasurer Tracy Watts

Board member Tangie duke

Board member Louis Donald



Magic City 2013 Annual Walk-a-thon

By Tracy Watts


The Magic City Chapter hosted our 2013 annual Walk-A-Thon, at Crestwood Park on October 12. It was an opportunity for our community to come together to raise proceeds and to provide scholarships for our members to attend our national convention. Chapter members recruited participants from throughout the community to help   change what it means to be blind. This event consisted of a walk committee, team captains, family and friends, volunteers, local merchants who sponsored food and prizes, and everyone had lots of fun. This year we      had over 75 in attendance. All participants were able to see old friends and meet new ones. There were a few spectators who watch the walkers go by. All and all it turned into a time for everyone   to socialize and a big Theme party at the park.    Everyone was able to get fit and have fun    out at the park. We would like to thank the Huntsville Rocket City and The Talladega Chapter for attending and help making our 2013 annual walk-a-thon a great success.  SEE YOU IN 2014 at our next Walk-a-Thon!


The Magic City Chapter meets the first Saturday of each month at the Birmingham Regional Center. The regional center is located at 220 34th street south And we meet at 11:00 – 1:00. If anyone needs more information they can contact Cindy Jones at 205-328-3989.


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Montgomery Chapter

By Robert Kelly Jr.


The NFB Montgomery Chapter recently accepted Donna Bates from Prattville as a new member. We meet by telephone at 6:00 PM on the 4th Tuesday of each month. The phone number to call is (218) 936-2070 Press # until you get to the menu. Press 15 pound and give your name.


If you would like more information about the Montgomery Chapter, please contact Robert Kelly Jr. at (334) 224-2403.


We distributed NFB Literature at the 2013 Extreme Retreat which was held in September.

Our Chapter celebrated Meet the Blind Month in October by sending each member literature to circulate throughout their communities. We learned that the literature was distributed to Tuscaloosa, Livingston, Dothan, Mobile, and Montgomery.

I was invited to speak to the vision impaired group at Aldersgate Methodist Church here in Montgomery about the NFB and I also disseminated literature to those in attendance.

This is the roster of officers for 2014:


President - Robert Kelly Jr.

1st Vice President - Al Eford

2nd Vice President - Brenda Houston

Secretary - Jeanette Grant

Treasurer - Thisia Kelly

Board Member # 1 - Jaybee Johnson

Board Member # 2 - Daisy Fann

Board Member # 3 - Charles Hutchinso


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By Minnie K. Walker


The Mobile Chapter elected new officers in December 2013. Term of office to begin January 2014.

New officers are as follows:

Minnie K. Walker - President

Tameka Williams - Vice President

Vendrick Tilley – Secretary

Gloria Mabry - Treasure

Member Tony Howard has returned from training at THE LOUISIANA CENTER FOR THE BLIND IN Ruston. He completed all required courses for graduation. He stated

He is happy to have had the opportunity to attend LCB. Mobile is very proud so far, to have had four members to

Attend the center. If there are others interested in attending please contact me for further information.

Monthly Lunch Outings are set to begin again February 2014. These outings are held the third Saturday of each month at different eating venues through out

the city. These are always fun opportunities to get out and explore Mobile.

Member Ivan Walker was recently invited as a guest on Trinity Broadcast Network (TBN) "Joy In Our Town Show".

Ivan spoke on the challenges, and stigmas associated with being blind. He also discussed the National Federation of the Blind (NFB) philosophy, and debunked some myths about blindness. Here's the link to view the

two part interview.

Part 1-

Part 2-

The Mobile Chapter meetings are held the first Saturday of each month at 1:00 PM at the Mobile Regional Library

5555 Grelot Road

Mobile Al 36609

For further information please contact Minnie K. Walker 251 344-7960.

We welcome new members!!



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Blind Merchants: Forging Into A Brighter Future

By Barbara Manuel


The Blind Merchants of Alabama are growing by leaps and bounds.

Two years ago, when we were founded, there were only ten members, but today, we are 35 plus strong. 2013 was a great year as we accomplished previously established goals and set new ones. Last year, for example, the meet and greet event held during our NFB annual conference, greatly increased blind merchants membership. At the same event, Kevan Worley, executive director of the National Merchant Division, generated much interest and enthusiasm in the organization with his comments and observations.


During our NFB and BEP annual conferences, fundraising activities were identified and Plans were made to meet these goals. Additionally, through the generosity of such teaming partners as Southern Food Services and KCA Corporation many of our members were able to attend the annual BLAST Conference held in Indianapolis, Indiana (May 2013). Many of the topics explored at the conference helped our managers to gain new business perspectives and enhance managerial knowledge.


Now that the pages of 2013 are closed, I challenge each of you to actively engage yourselves in our blind merchant movement for 2014. Yes, the membership is growing but we have only begun our move towards a brighter, more productive and rewarding future. In 2014 we endeavor to create greater opportunities for every blind and visually impaired person who is interested in propelling his or her business to higher heights. We also aspire to become more known at levels of state government where laws impacting the blind community are made. By doing so we assure that the needs and services of the blind community are properly and adequately addressed.


Will you join us in creating and executing programs that promote business opportunities and heighten the quality of life for the blind in our great state?


If you are interested in becoming a member of our great movement, contact:

Barbara Manuel, President

[email protected]



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Merchants Division Expands Membership

By Donna Bates


We are pleased to announce that eight new members joined the Merchants division during a meet & greet held during the annual BEP conference held at Perdido Beach Resort November 2013.  These new members include: Jerry Todd, Jim Waldie, Kathy Waldie, Zul Azzeh (Al), Bill Suter, Chris Parler, Mazzulles Wilson, and Beautiful Phillips. 


During the well-attended meeting, President Barbara Manuel began with opening remarks and shared an overview of Merchant activities during 2013. The Merchants Vision & Mission statement was read & Vice Chairperson, Tracy Watts, spoke about the National Business Leadership & Superiority Training Conference she and several other Alabama merchants attended in the spring of 2013 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  In addition to our new members, ten merchants renewed their membership dues for 2014. 


The Blind Merchants of Alabama will host another meet & greet at the NFB annual state convention this March in Birmingham Please make your plans to join us! 

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The National Federation of the Blind 2014

National  convention


The 2014 convention of the National Federation of the Blind will take place in Orlando, Florida, July 1-6, at the Rosen Centre Hotel at 9840 International Drive, Orlando, Florida 32819. The hotel is now accepting reservations. Call (800) 204-7234 to make a reservation. The 2014 room rates are singles, doubles, and twins, $82; and triples and quads, $88. In addition to the room rates there will be a tax, which at present is 13.5 percent.

Guest-room amenities include cable television; in-room safe; coffeemaker; hair dryer; and high-speed Internet access. Guests can also enjoy a swimming pool, fitness center, and on-site spa. The Rosen Centre Hotel offers fine dining at Executive Chef Michael Rumplik’s award-winning Everglades Restaurant. In addition, there is an array of dining options from sushi to tapas to a 24-hour deli. The hotel has first-rate amenities.



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The Kenneth Jernigan Convention

Scholarship Fund

by Allen Harris


Editor’s Note: Allen Harris is the chairman of the Kenneth Jernigan Fund Committee and was one of the people who came up with the idea of honoring our former president and longtime leader by establishing a program to promote attendance at the national convention, where so much inspiration and learning occur. Here is Allen's announcement about the 2014 Kenneth Jernigan Convention Scholarship Fund Program.


Have you always wanted to attend an NFB annual convention but have not done so because of the lack of funds? The Kenneth Jernigan Convention Scholarship Fund invites you to make an application for a scholarship grant. Perhaps this July you too can be in the Rosen Centre Hotel in Orlando, Florida, enjoying the many pleasures and learning opportunities at the largest and most important yearly convention of blind people in the world.

The three biggest ticket items you need to cover when attending an NFB national convention are the round-trip transportation, the hotel room for a week, and the food (which tends to be higher priced than at home). We attempt to award additional funds to families, but, whether a family or an individual is granted a scholarship, this fund can only help; it won’t pay all the costs. Last year most of the sixty grants were in the range of $400 to $500 per individual.

We recommend that you find an NFB member as your personal convention mentor, someone who has been to many national conventions and is able to share money-saving tips with you and tips on navigating the extensive agenda in the big hotel. Your mentor will help you get the most out of the amazing experience that is convention week.

Who is eligible?
Active NFB members, blind or sighted, who have not yet attended an NFB national convention because of lack of funding are eligible to apply.

How do I apply for funding assistance?
1. You write a letter giving your contact information, and your local NFB information, your specific amount requested, and then explain why this is a good investment for the NFB. The points to cover are listed below.

2. You contact your state president in person or by phone to request his or her help in obtaining funding. Be sure to tell the president when to expect your request letter by email, and mention the deadline.

3. You (or a friend) send your letter by email to your state president. He or she must add a president’s recommendation and then email both letters directly to the Kenneth Jernigan Convention Scholarship Fund Committee. Your president must forward the two letters no later than April 15, 2014.

Your letter to Chairperson Allen Harris must cover these points:

  • Your full name, and all your telephone numbers and label them--cell phone, home, office, other person (if any).
  • Your mailing address and, if you have one, your email address.
  • Your state affiliate and state president; your chapter and chapter president, if you attend a chapter.
  • Your personal convention mentor and provide that person’s phone number.
  • Your specific request:

Explain how much money you need from this fund to make this trip possible for you. We suggest you consult with other members to make a rough budget for yourself.

The body of your letter should answer these questions:

How do you currently participate in the Federation? Why do you want to attend a national convention? What would you receive; what can you share or give? You can include in your letter to the committee any special circumstances you hope they will take into consideration.

When will I be notified that I am a winner?
If you are chosen to receive this scholarship, you will receive a letter with convention details which should answer most of your questions. The committee makes every effort to notify scholarship winners by May 15, but you must do several things before that to be prepared to attend if you are chosen.

1. Make your own hotel reservation. If something prevents you from attending, you can cancel the reservation. (Yes, you may arrange for roommates of your own to reduce the cost.)

2. Register online for the entire convention, including the banquet, by May 31.

3. Find someone in your chapter or affiliate who has been to many conventions and can answer your questions as a friend and advisor.

4. If you do not hear from the committee by May 15, then you did not win a grant this year.

How will I receive my convention scholarship?
At convention you will be given a debit card or credit card loaded with the amount of your award. The times and locations to pick up your card will be listed in the letter we sent you. The committee is not able to provide funds before the convention, so work with your chapter and state affiliate to assist you by obtaining an agreement to advance funds if you win a scholarship and to pay your treasury back after you receive your debit or credit card.
What if I have more questions?

For additional information email the chairman, Allen Harris, at <[email protected]>

or call his Baltimore, Maryland, office at (410) 659-9314, x2415.

Above all, please use this opportunity to attend your first convention on the national level and join several thousand active Federationists in the most important meeting of the blind in the world. We hope to see you in Orlando.



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NFB Vehicle Donation Program


Editor’s note: Congratulations to the State of Alabama for being in the top five states with the most vehicles donated. Continue being diligent with passing out flyers and placing stickers in strategic locations around the state. This is a great way to support the National Federation of the Blind!


Donating your vehicle to the National Federation of the Blind is convenient, easy, and may qualify you for a tax deduction

And best of all, your donation of a used vehicle will ensure a brighter future for all blind children and adults.

All you need to do is call 1-855-659-9314 or visit

We will arrange to have the donated vehicle picked up and towed and provide you with a tax-deductible receipt—all at no charge to you!

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Are You A Legally Blind College Student?

Go to:

Blind High School Seniors through Grad School Students
The $12,000 Kenneth Jernigan Scholarship
1 Scholarship for   $10,000
2 Scholarships for   $7,000 each
4 Scholarships for   $5,000 each 
22 Scholarships for $3,000 each
PLUS additional gifts to our 30 scholarship winners!
2014 Deadline: MARCH 31 MIDNIGHT, Eastern Time
To apply:  During the five-month open period, read the rules and the Submission Checklist. If you are eligible, complete the official 2014 Scholarship Application Form (online or in print), supply all required documents, and request and complete one interview by an NFB affiliate president. Read the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page for more information on each requirement and useful tips for any applicant.
Questions to:    NFB Scholarship Program 
           Chairperson Patti Chang, Esq.
          E-mail: [email protected]
          Office: (410) 659-9314, extension 2415
          8 a.m. - 5 p.m. Eastern Time Zone


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An Update from the 2012 NFB College Scholarship Winner from Alabama

By Brandy Wood


Well… it’s been about a year-and-a-half since I was awarded the NFB scholarship and my life has been very eventful.  Since winning the NFB national scholarship, I have graduated from Auburn University, War Eagle, with my Bachelor Degree in Rehabilitation and Disability studies.  I graduated with God’s help, with honors and Magna Cum Laude.  I was so proud of that accomplishment.  It took me only twenty years, but I finally accomplished my goal! 

Because of this accomplishment and the NFB scholarship, I have so much more self-confidence and self-determination to go out into the work force.  The two-and-a-half years it took me to complete my degree were not all roses.  I was away from my family during the week, but it was something we all worked toward.  My family was there to see me and Rascal, my leader who walked with me, receive the degree I had only dreamed of for many years.  Thanks to my husband, Stephen, for traveling every weekend to and from Birmingham, AL to Auburn, AL, and back to Birmingham to bring me home, or to come to Auburn to visit with me.  Additionally, Stephen managed the house, children, work and life on his own during this time. I could not have done it without him! 

Now I’m in school again, at Western Michigan University, to complete my Masters degree.  At this time, I am taking classes online, and in my last semester of course work.  I will begin my internship sometime in May and graduate with my Master’s degree in August.  I’m maintaining a 4.0, and hope to maintain my grade point average until completion.  LOL… They all tell me once out of school; the GPA does not really matter! 

After completing my Master’s, I look forward to obtaining a position whereby I can utilize everything that I have learned and experienced during the past few years.  At the present time, you can find me at AIDB in Birmingham, where I help Joy teach Braille two days a week.  I’m enjoying teaching individuals to read through a different method.  I love when they read an entire word that they have struggled with difficulty.   I believe I get more excited than they do.  Working together with individuals who are learning that they can do, exactly, what they did before they lost their sight is so rewarding.  Getting paid to assist others to be empowered in their blindness is awesome!



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2013 Onkyo Braille Essay Contest Winners


Editor’s Note: This introductory paragraph was taken from the Jernigan Institute’s Newsletter, in the section “What’s New with the NFB”.


The Onkyo Braille Literacy Essay Contest is administered in the U.S. by the NFB on behalf of the North American/Caribbean Region of the World Blind Union. The essay contest, which is sponsored by the Onkyo Corporation and the Braille Mainichi, was created to promote Braille literacy and to encourage the sharing of social and cultural information among blind and visually impaired persons.

The essays were required to be written in Braille, and to pertain either to how the individual gains knowledge or independence through Braille, or to an individual concept about world peace from the viewpoint of persons with disabilities. There were two groups of competitors: a junior category for persons up to age twenty-five and a senior category for persons over age twenty-six. Each winner received a substantial cash prize, a plaque, and other gifts from the Onkyo Corporation.

The seven winners from the North America/Caribbean Region were as follows:

Ootsuki Prize
   Jerry McKee, Alabama

Excellent Work Award, Senior
   Lynn Spittle, South Carolina

Excellent Work Award, Junior
   Anna Avramenko, Kansas

Fine Work Award, Senior
   Jeremiah Rogers, North Carolina
   Carolyn Fish, Virginia

Fine Work Award, Junior
   Aspen Poole, New York
   Tamer Zaid, Texas



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What I Learned from Winning the 2013 Onkyo Braille Essay Contest Will Serve Me

for the Rest of My Life

By Jerry Glenn McKee


Editor’s Note: We would like to congratulate Jerry McKee of Talladega for winning the 2013 Onkyo Braille Essay Contest

 North American/Caribbean Region sponsored by the National Federation of the Blind and the Onkyo Corporation. His winning essay follows his introduction.

I felt compelled to enter this contest and I believe it was God’s Holy Spirit

leading me. I did not find out about the contest until April 23; this meant I only had one week to write the essay and get it to the required destination.

At first, I made excuses as to why I couldn’t enter. I was busy with my job as Case Manager at the Gentry Rehabilitation Facility. I was also busy at home taking care of my obligations with my aging guide, Adler, my three horses, preparing my Sunday school lesson as a teacher at Pleasant Grove Baptist Church where my wife Wendy and I attend church, and other life responsibilities. I talked with Wendy, my brother Terry, and two friends at work, Helen and Donna, about this, and all encouraged me to enter the contest. I asked them to critique my finished work, and all agreed it was a good essay. I sent it in, never dreaming it would win this contest.

On Monday, December 16, 2013, I received the notification I had won the Onkyo Award for the North American/Caribbean Region. On Tuesday, I had to hospitalize my beloved boy Adler due to cancer growing in his nasal cavity. If I had not entered and won the contest, I would have been in debt with this life twist. My reason for asking to write this introduction is simple and twofold. I wanted to illustrate how God in His infinite wisdom provided for me even when I did not know what lay ahead. My second purpose is to encourage someone who might be hesitant about entering this or another similar contest in the future. Enter the contest! You just might win!

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By Jerry Glenn McKee


If I could have a dream to dream and know it would come true, that a person from history could come to visit me and spend a day or two, the person that I would choose would be Louis Braille.  "Why Louis Braille?" you might ask.  The answer is so simple; I would want him to understand how his contribution impacts the world and more importantly one man, and that one man is me.  I can hardly fathom where my life would be in regards to my independence without his extraordinary invention of Braille.


After an exchange of pleasantries he might ask, "How has my invention changed the world since I lived so many years ago? How do you use it personally? I would like to know!"


My reply would be, "Whoa there, Louis! You will be here only a day or two.  I'll show you how I use Braille personally, and that should be enough to illustrate to you the importance of your invention."


First, I would show him my Braille watch which wakes me every morning with its crystal-clear alarm.  Next, I would present my Braille Bible where my God, my wife, and I fellowship each day.  Then we would be off to the kitchen, our breakfast to prepare using many Braille gadgets.  I'd put my turkey bacon in the microwave, which has a touch screen labeled with Braille abbreviations.  I'd set my Braille timer for the biscuits in the oven.  I'd use my Braille measuring cup to pour oatmeal into the boiler on the stove.


With breakfast finished, off to work we would all go, to the E.  H.  Gentry Facility, where I work as Case Manager for the Blind serving blind adults, and my wife works as a Technical Assistant in the Blind Communications Department teaching Braille.  As we traversed the hallways to my office, I would show him Braille signage on the walls beside each door defining the purpose of each space.  Arriving at my office, he would learn of office automation, including a forty-cell refreshable Braille display, a Braille embosser, and the Duxbury Braille translation software program.  He would also see my BrailleNote, which I use for note-taking in the meetings I attend.  I would show him even more tools of my trade; among these would be my Braille labeler for putting names on my student files and my Braille business card engraver, which contains my name, phone number, and email address.  I could imagine his stark surprise when I whisked out my iPhone 4S and allowed him to put his hands on my display screen as I activated the Braille Touch Application.  This allows for the typing of Braille letters on the screen using the code he invented.  This text can then be sent to others via email or text message.


I would then tell Mr.  Braille that not all Braille products are so high-tech and expensive.  I would produce my slate and stylus and show him how portable and accessible Braille writing can be.  Then I would ask him to come with me for a short excursion to the Braille classroom where my wife works.


In the Braille classroom, Mr.  Braille would see students learning to write Braille using both the Perkins Brailler and the slate and stylus.  He would observe students learning to read both uncontracted and contracted Braille.  My wife and I would explain to him that we learned Braille back in elementary school at the Alabama School for the Blind and have remained competent Braille users for over 35 years.  I would explain with pride how my wife obtained her literary Braille transcription certificate from the Library of Congress in partnership with the National Federation of the Blind, scoring 96% on her 35-page Braille trial manuscript.  While there, we would look at Braille graphics, the TeleBraille, and other products too numerous to mention.


After work, I would let Mr.  Braille know our day was not done.  Remembering that today was Election Day, we would stop by our polling place and let him observe as my wife and I did our civic duty by casting our ballots.  We would do this utilizing the special voting machine equipped with a Braille keypad and speech output.  This enables those with disabilities to vote independently and privately.


Back at home, we would explore how we use Braille to enjoy some of our leisure activities.  We would travel to our room, which we call our library, stocked with an assortment of books covering a variety of topics.  We would then move over to the area where we keep our games.  We would play a game with Braille cards, and then we would play our Braille Monopoly game.


Before we knew it, the day would be gone, and our time together would draw to a close.  Before he departed, I would sit down with Mr.  Braille and my wife and read aloud a chapter of the book I am currently reading.  The book is called The Shepherd's Voice by Robin Lee Hatcher.  I would let him know how much fun it had been showing him around my world of Braille products and invite him to come back in a year or two.  But then I would think about it and suggest that he put off his next visit for ten years or so.  By then, we might be able to take a spin in an automobile driven with a joystick and a Braille display.



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Confessions of a Blind Cook

By Carol Braithwaite

(Magic City Chapter member and

ADRS Rehabilitation Teacher)


In case I run the risk of reinforcing for anyone reading this article, the myth that blind people are by virtue of their blindness either dumb, inept, unsafe to themselves, or a danger to others by being in charge in the kitchen, that is NOT my intent. I strongly disagree with this myth because I have learned that good training of a blind person makes them just as able as a sighted person to cook. I just want to share with you some funny things that have happened in my kitchen, with the hope of illustrating what happens when a person with low vision cooks with the same techniques as if they had full vision without knowing that there is a better way. Sighted people and blind people alike have bizarre stories to tell. We are all human, and as the old bumper sticker from the sixties said, “….it happens.” With that said, read on. 


I began adventuring in the kitchen early. My parents knew that I had limited vision, but they believed I should do anything a fully sighted person could do short of driving anything with wheels and a motor.  Even though I was visually a bit klutzy, Mom was patient and let me try.  Mom taught me to bake sugar cookies and brew hot tea at age 8 and she allowed me to serve snacks to my friends in the neighborhood on her treasured childhood aqua china tea set. Special times. My Scout leader taught our troop to make Bisquick doughnuts at my house. Watching those puppies puff up as we dropped them into the Dutch oven full of hot grease was awesome. Life was good. My fudge, the result of a flopped icing recipe at age ten, became legendary in our extensive family and is still asked for today.


I decided to make oatmeal for our family of seven one Saturday morning. I got involved in watching Tom and Jerry cartoons, the oatmeal boiled over, and I cleaned up the mess only halfway and boiled another pot. As the old gas stove heated up, what had leaked down beneath the burners into the stove’s infernal guts adhered permanently to whatever it contacted. My mother discovered the charred goop a couple of hours later, and as I remember, I narrowly escaped a beating with a pancake turner and spent the rest of my Saturday scrubbing cold fused oatmeal off 25 stove parts.


Mom had to spend five nights locked in a downtown hotel during jury duty for a murder trial when I was twelve. I was the designated cook for my dad and us five voracious Watson kids. My dad could barely boil water, so I did what I had watched Mom do—skillet fried pork chops, green beans, boiled new potatoes, fruit salad. We all chewed hard and got the meat and crunchy beans down. Potatoes and fruit were great, except I forgot to pit the cherries and my dad broke a tooth. He praised me anyway.


Before I married, I worked for some months as kitchen help at a Bible study center in North Carolina. I was a whiz at making bread, pancakes and biscuits from sour dough starter which I had to “feed” weekly with some sugar, flour, and milk. My biscuits would come out golden brown, uniformly round, and about as  fluffy as hockey pucks, but they had great flavor piled with blackberry jam. The head cook begged me to tame the starter or banish it the day I forgot to use enough of it up and it blew the lid off the container and left stalactites and drool all over the fridge.

I was a really experienced cook by the time Tom and I got married in my mid-twenties. I had learned to make all kinds of bread successfully.  Tom and I together made my own recipe of apple butter and my grandmother’s dark marmalade. We canned them for Christmas presents for our family and friends that first Christmas as newly-weds. Canning is great fun. The first time we had a friend over for dinner, though, I let the water boil out of the steamer full of fresh zucchini squash and by the time she arrived, I was fanning smoke out the frosty kitchen windows and she had the rare treat of hearing the dinner veggies flushed down the toilet. Celery, tomatoes and onions were quickly chopped and seasoned as a replacement and my pride was baptized in mirth as we tried to eat while holding our noses.

Once our children started coming along, life got really interesting at mealtime. Our son Rob at age two got into my sewing supplies  without my knowing it and somehow transferred some needles and thread into empty Tupperware containers in the bottom kitchen cabinet. When I stored leftover vegetable soup in some of the containers, I did not notice foreign objects in them. The next time I served soup Tom pulled a needle out of his mouth and I followed with a long red thread hanging out of my mouth – attached to a needle lodged under my tongue!

Ah, yes –soup stories. There was the time I had my family’s favorite beef barley soup simmering.  in an open kettle on the stovetop. Rob, a hulking teenager by then, came through the kitchen sniffing the aroma and stopped to stir the pot with the ladle. Suddenly he exclaimed, “What’s this, Mom? Sock soup?” and pulled a nylon knee-high out of the broth. No worry—it was clean laundry I had lost as I headed from the dryer to my sorting table in the garage. The knee-high had just gone airborne as I whizzed by. Anyway,  boiling things always kills them germs!

My crowning escapade with soup occurred one weekend when I invited my parents to come for homemade split pea soup and cornbread. I had soaked dried peas for an hour and boiled them with carrots, celery, onion, bay leaves and ham. It smelled scrumptious! But it tasted a bit different. My dad asked if there were lentils in the soup. I looked puzzled and asked why he wanted to know. He said he just wondered what the dark chewy things were. I got to the bottom of my bowl and realized there were a lot of them. By then my husband Tom was finishing his third bowl. With horror I began to realize the “lentils” were weevils! My mother realized it at the same moment and gulped, laughed and said, “This is the first time I’ve had third-world soup!” Now I put any dried beans, rice, flour and the like that might have potential hatching-out critters growing up in them into the freezer. The whole world is blessed with unwanted protein in our food, folks,  but luckily in the U.S. we have the luxury of arresting some of it in the larval stage. Yuck!

Another time we invited the head of our home-schooling association to stay for dinner one night. I had made a good Southern meal of baked chicken, mashed potatoes, collard greens, black-eyed peas, sticker salad and cornbread. Conversation was lively around the table. Marjorie suddenly yelled, “No, Mom! Don’t eat that!” and plucked a large stewed cricket out of the forkful of greens I had raised to my lips. We only encountered one in that pot that time. I always wash my fresh collard greens in a laundry bag in the washer on the cold rinse cycle to remove any dirt and grit, and I always tear them before putting them into the pot, so I don’t know where that critter came from.

As we collected more kids underfoot, serendipities got pretty frequent. My vision was worsening steadily and my tactile sense was not as developed as it is now. I would miss those blasted stickers the grocers started slapping on every apple, pear, plum and tomato I bought. They ended up incorporated into our salads so frequently that to this day the family refers to my fresh creations as sticker salad. I also got more vigorous in putting salads together as I hurried to multi-task my way through meal preparations, homework supervision and answering the inevitable dinner hour phone calls. Marjorie, our middle child,  recently said as she peeled fresh spinach off the sink backsplash and window over her sink where I had prepared salad, “Mom’s given a whole new dimension to the meaning of the words ‘tossed salad’.” No, I’m not a tidy cook even now—but I’m good!

 One summer day I learned the hard way that I MUST check the contents of the oven before turning it on. Our youngest child Erin, then age four, was a fervent admirer of Barney, the singing purple dinosaur. She had put her plastic Barney in the oven on a cookie sheet, and without peeking in there first, I preheated the oven for roasting potatoes while barbecued chicken was on the outdoor grill. A vile smell began wafting out the kitchen window. I ran to find its source and noticed smoke oozing from around the oven door gasket and an orange glow through the window in the door. There lay a purple puddle with two  eyes staring upwards mournfully. “ Oh, Lord, get me outa this fiery furnace!”

Now I teach cooking classes to blind people as part of my rehab teaching  profession. How did that happen?  First, I refused to take myself too seriously and chose to laugh along with my family and guests at my culinary mishaps. A good sense of humor went a long way towards keeping me from being intimidated by myself and ditching the idea of cooking.


More importantly, I learned from my friends in the National Federation of the Blind that being blind was not the root cause of my difficulties. My problem was not that I was blind, but that I was using the wrong techniques to handle my blindness. I wish I had known as a child that I was depending on my vision for doing so many  tasks that I could have performed best using non-visual skills. I did not have the opportunity  to get the training in non-visual skills I needed. All I knew was to do what I could visually as a sighted person would, grin and bear it if I goofed up and was made fun of, keep trying to do normal tasks “normally” (meaning visually), and avoid the ones I was pretty sure were not possible without full vision. This approach served me pretty well, since vision loss was a slow progression for me, but my life could have been more self-confident and free.


If NFB-style training under a blindfold and with a cane had been available and considered needed by my parents, I would have known early on, for instance, to tactually check to see if there were any needles in my empty Tupperware containers or if I had little things crawling around in my package of dry split peas. I would have been taught not to use my vision to remove stickers from the fresh fruit. And I would have put my hand in the cold oven to check for any stowaways such as a plastic Barney before pre-heating the oven.

Most importantly of all, if the better way of non-visual  skills is not taught and used, the blind person with some usable vision tries to function as a person with full vision. This leads to lack of self-confidence, worry and sometimes failure.  A blind person’s inability to succeed while using full-vision techniques leads to being ashamed of  being blind because they have not learned to do all things as well as  fully-sighted people.  They have not learned that it is respectable to be blind and how to convince the general public of this. I am so grateful to the National Federation of the Blind and to my encouraging sighted family who know that those of us who are blind, given the right training and unbiased opportunities, can be competent, independent and joyful people—whole people who just happen to have the characteristic of blindness.



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Southern Fusion Mobile

By Chef Ivan Walker

Member of NFB of Alabama Mobile Chapter


Chef Ivan began his culinary career in 1997 at The Adam's Mark Hotel's Riverview Cafe and Grill. He moved from line cook to Chef de Parti within a year. He also took on the responsibility of creating daily specials, and running dinner service. Recognizing his passion for culinary art, he pursued furthering his education, and was accepted to The Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York. New York was far from home, so in 1999 he moved to Atlanta, GA to attend The Art Institute of Atlanta to study Culinary Art. While in Atlanta he began cooking at The W Hotel's SAVU Restaurant. Chef Ivan balanced full-time work at night in the kitchen and full-time classes during the day. Upon graduation from AIA in 2001, he was promoted to Kitchen Supervisor of SAVU. Chef Ivan took a liking to SAVU's Asian Fusion style cuisine while training under Chef Joe Babcox and Chef Peter Kliene of New York's cb5 Restaurant Consulting Group. Chef Ivan attributed his creative inspiration to Chef Babcox and his teachings. As time went on, Chef Ivan became Interim Executive Chef of SAVU and later went on to develop menus and create staple recipes for SAVU. He also won the highly acclaimed "Best Taste Presentation Award at The Taste of Atlanta's 2006 food show.







Chef Ivan's Smoked Turkey Spinach Wraps




1 Medium Whole Wheat Flour Tortilla

4oz Honey Smoked Turkey

3 tblsp Shredded Mozzarella

1/4 Roasted Red Bell Peppers

2 tblsp Sweet Pickled Jalapeños

3/4 cup Fresh Salad Spinach

1/2 Tsp Light Mayonnaise (optional)



First place the whole wheat tortilla in the microwave for 30 seconds. Next, place the tortilla on a cutting board, or clean kitchen surface. Now add turkey, cheese, jalapeños, and spinach in the middle of the tortilla wrap. Next, spread mayonnaise directly under the line of ingredients. Ok, now it's time to wrap it up. Started from the bottom of the wrap, tightly roll the wrap until the ingredients are just rolled. Next, fold both ends, and continue rolling until it’s complete. Lastly, cut the wrap into four pieces. Enjoy! 



Chef Ivan Walker


[email protected]


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Cooking in Alabama

Recipes Submitted By Our NFB Chapters


Cooking in the Rocket City

By Sue Povinelli


Slow Cooker Chicken Taco Soup


Yields 8 Servings




1 onion, chopped

1 can chili beans; (16 ounce)

1 can black beans; (15 ounce)

 1 can whole kernel corn; drained

1 can tomato sauce; (8 ounce)

2 cans diced tomatoes with green chiles; undrained

1 pkg taco seasoning

3 chicken breasts; whole, skinless, boneless

shredded cheddar cheese; (optional)

sour cream; (optional)

crushed tortilla chips; (optional)




Place the onion, chili beans, black beans, corn, tomato sauce, and diced tomatoes in a slow cooker. Add taco seasoning and stir to blend. Lay chicken breasts on top of the mixture, pressing down slightly until just covered by the other ingredients. Set slow cooker for low heat, cover and cook for 5 hours.


Remove chicken breasts from the soup, and allow to cool long enough to be handled. Shred the chicken and stir the chicken back into the soup and continue cooking for 2 hours. Serve topped with shredded Cheddar cheese, a dollop of sour cream and crushed tortilla chips, if desired.



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Cooking in the Magic City

By Cindy Jones


Hot Bacon and Swiss Dip



4 tablespoons green onions, chopped

1/2 cup mayonnaise

2 (8-ounce) blocks cream cheese, softened

2 cups shredded Swiss cheese

15 to 16 strips bacon, cooked and crumbled

1/2 cup crushed Ritz crackers




Combine onions, mayonnaise, cream cheese and Swiss cheese and spread in casserole dish. Stir together bacon bits and crushed crackers and sprinkle on top of cheese mixture. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes or until bubbly.


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Cooking in Montgomery

By Robert Kelly Jr.


A Cold Oven Pound Cake


All Ingredients are to be room temperature.



3 cups granulated sugar

2 sticks of butter

3 cups of cake flour

8 ounces of heavy whipping cream

6 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla flavoring

1/3 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon baking powder



Cream butter and sugar in a mixer.

Add 1 egg at a time. Mix well.

Add flour and cream alternating between the two.

Add the baking powder.

Add the salt.

Add the vanilla flavoring.


Grease and flour a cake pan with the stem in the middle.

Pour batter into the pan.

Place in a cold oven on the middle rack.

Turn oven to 350 and let it bake for 1 hour.

Remove from oven after 1 hour and let it cool.



Oven Fried Chicken



6 chicken legs and 6 chicken breast halves

3-1/2 cups of Ice water in a medium size bowl

1 cup of plain nonfat yogurt in a medium size bowl

cooking spray

1 cup of Italian bread crumbs

1 cup of all-purpose flour

1 Tablespoon of Ole Bay seasoning

1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon of Creole seasoning

1/2 teaspoon of thyme

1/2 teaspoon of basil

1/2 teaspoon of oregano

1/8 teaspoon of ground black pepper

dash of red pepper



You can remove the skin or leave it on the chicken. Place chicken in the ice water and mix all your dry ingredients in a gallon size zip lock plastic bag. Shake to mix well.  Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray and take a piece of chicken out of the ice water and dip it in the yogurt and then into the bag of breading mix, shake to coat and place on the baking sheet until all pieces are coated. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray all the chicken lightly with cooking spray and cook for 1 hour, turning the chicken every 20 minutes to cook it evenly.



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Apple Core

By Susan Povinelli


The Library of Congress released their BARD Mobile app last fall.  For me, it has simplified the downloading process and has become my favorite app.  I can quickly search for books and download directly to my iPhone.  No longer do I have to download the zipped files to my computer, then unzip them, and then upload to my Victor Stream before I can read them.  What a bother.

Here is some guidance on getting started.  Once you have installed the app from the App Store and entered in your current password, you are ready to find books and read. There are four tabs at the bottom of your screen.  They are (left to right), Bookshelf, Get Books, Settings and Now Reading.

The first thing we need to do is to find a book to download.  Double-tap on the “Get Books” tab.  The choices in the “Get Books” are Wish list, Recently added titles, Audio books, Audio magazines, Braille books, Braille magazines, BARD website and Browse BARD.  If you don’t have a book in mind, double-tap on “Recently added titles.”   Then double-tap on audio books.  This will bring up a list of books added in the last 30 days.  You can move through the list by single right flicking.  Following each title is a “More info” button, double-tap the “more info” button.  It will display the Book title, Author, Annotation, Narrator, Total time, Book number and a “Download” button. Double-tap the back button to go back to the Book list if you don’t want this book.

Once you find the book you want, double-tap the “Download” button.  It will state that it is downloading.  When downloading is complete, a chime will ring and tell you that your download has been completed.  Double-tap on the “OK” button.

Double-tap the “Audio book back” button and return to the list and search for another book.  If you know the title or the author, double-tap on “Browse BARD.” Right single flick to find the text field, double-tap in the text field to activate, then type your title, author or subject.  Double-tap the “Done” button. Double-tap the “Go” button.  This will bring up the number of Braille and audio books which contain your search terms.  Double-tap on audio books and a list of books will appear.  Single right flick until you find the book you want. Right flick to “Add to my wish list” for future reading or to the “Download” button to download.

Now that you have downloaded the books you wish to read, it is time to read the book.  Double-tap “Bookshelf,” right single flick to Audio books, double-tap and a list of books will appear.  Double-tap the book title.  You then will go to the “Now reading“ page.  Select the play button.  You can stop reading by double-tapping on the “Stop” button.

Once you have completed the book, you can delete list by going to “Bookshelf,” double-tap the edit button, right single flick until you get to the desired book, single flick upward.  It will say “delete.”  Double-tap and the book will be selected for deleting.  Then double-tap on the “done” button.

Another excellent reference is a link to a YouTube tutorial about using the new BARD Mobile app.

Hope you find the time to read all the books you found.  It seems I add more books to my bookshelf than those I can finish.



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VIP 3000 Talking Thermostat
By Susan Povinelli

Hopefully everyone has made it through the cold snap this January without frozen pipes and broken heating systems.  I can't say we were that lucky.  I returned home from my Christmas vacation and the outside temperature dropped to 5 degrees.  I notice my house was getting colder, dropping to 58 degrees, and I didn't hear my auxiliary heaters kicking on.  Larry was in Vermont cross country skiing in minus zero degree weather, so he wasn’t available to check my thermostat.  Since my thermostat did not talk and had a LCD display, I could not tell if it was set incorrectly or the heat pump was broken.  I called the neighbor over to investigate , and we decided that the heat pump wasn't working properly.

 I knew there were talking thermostats out there and I decided that when we replaced the heat system, I would install one.

 After my research on the internet and working with my heat system repair man I decided on the VIP 3000 talking thermostat from

 The criteria I wanted were well defined buttons, without a touch screen, speech output for programming and temperature setting, and easy to learn instructions.  The VIP 3000 was designed for visually impaired individuals and had all of these features. The VIP comes with audible CD and large print instructions written so a blind person can understand them.  It is a little pricy at $200 and the cost for an electrician to install, but it is worth every penny for independence.  I no longer need to rely on Larry to set the temperature, if I am too hot, I can adjust it.   Now that my new heating/cooling system with the talking thermostat is installed, I can sit in my warm house and survive the rest of the winter.



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By Jaybee Johnson


       The Phone Faith chat line brings to mind three major thoughts. When Phone Faith is mentioned, I think of inspiration, information, and communication. We’re inspired by seeing the many accomplishments of those who are visually impaired. On Phone Faith, many are willing to share both their successes and their failures, and we find that there are those who are willing to lend a helping hand in assisting others to move forward. In the Phone Faith forum, many new acquaintances are made, and many old acquaintances are renewed.

        Before we talk about the Phone Faith chat line, we need to mention the fact that an extension of the chat line is the Phone Faith mailing list. Anyone can join our listserv. All that’s necessary is an email address. On this list, we post daily schedules of what’s happening on the chat line, things of interest to blind individuals, and we entertain various opinions on important subjects. Thus far, we have more than 15 subscribed to the list, and we look forward to many others joining in the near future. Jaybee Johnson is our list owner, and both Barbara Manuel and Dexter Thomas (the line owner) are moderators.

        There are seven different boards for posting on Phone Faith, and one of these boards is an inspiration board. On this board, posts include reading inspirational scripture from the Bible, inspirational thoughts, and inspirational experiences. When one is feeling kind of low, this is the place to go. When one wishes to encourage others, there is no better place that can be recommended, and when one is feeling enthusiastic, this is where it ought to be shared.

        The other boards include the main message board, the friendship board; the health tips board, finance and business, trivial and music, and the blind services board. All of the boards are jammed packed with useful information which is for giving and receiving. Try it and you’ll definitely like it. These boards provide very helpful information for anyone that is visually impaired, and everyone is invited to partake of it.

        Finally, we extend an open invitation to everyone across the state and country to join us, and, here we list the layout of the Phone Faith chat line. First, here is our phone number: (218)936-2070. Once one enters this number, he/she can listen to the rules that governs the line, or at any time, they can press the pound key and be presented a choice of menus: 1 for live chat rooms, 2 for message boards, 3 for mailbox (voice mail), 4 for podcasts, 5 for recordings menu, and 6 to leave a message for the line owner. Dexter Thomas is the line owner, and he is constantly looking for new ideas to add to the many splendid ones he has already presented. Barbara Manuel is his able assistant, and she is doing an excellent job!

Enter the live chat rooms to view our schedule. On our Sunday’s schedule, we have Linda’s memories at 7:00 PM. (All times are Central). Here Linda Patten hosts conversations about memories from ASB (Alabama School for The Blind). On the fourth Sunday of each month, she Hosts the Gadgets Gallery where items that are helpful to the blind are discussed. On Monday’s agenda, Lois Williams hosts Health and Food Tips for those with diabetes. This is at 6:00 PM. Tuesdays at 7:00 AM Dr. Ruff presents The Skill Ability Program. Here Dr. Ruff discusses several helpful subjects, and she presents a lot of “how to” materials. On Tuesdays and Thursdays we have the Making a Difference Program at 7:00 PM. Barbara/Nikki invite various guests who present useful topics on a variety of subjects. At 6:00 PM Wednesdays, Dr. Ruff presents guests who discuss health issues, and on Thursdays in room five at 5:00 PM, Paris Renaud hosts a prayer session. (All other programs are in room seven). Looking at Friday’s schedule, we find another prayer session at Noon hosted by Dr. Ruff. We certainly do not want to miss Naomi’s book club at 6:00 on Friday where Naomi discusses various books. Our current book for discussion is “This Present Darkness” by Frank E. Peretti. We have three major events on Saturdays. First a study of the Bible hosted by Jaybee Johnson and his wife Ora at 11:00 AM. Next, Brother Renaud hosts church services at1:30, and finally at 5:00 PM, Barbara hosts Bible trivia which is taken from questions from the morning’s study. After each nightly program, we have several “skunkies” who meet and play the game of skunk. This game is hosted by Jaybee and Diamond.

Come and join us on Phone Faith. It’s the place for inspiration, information, and communication. In short, it’s where you need to be.


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HUMOR Submitted by Robert Kelly Jr.:

What do you use to fix a broken ruler?

Measuring Tape!

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PhoneFaith meet and greet

By Lois William


The long anticipated day had arrived, December 1, 2013.  The 2nd annual PhoneFaith meet and greet gathering in Montgomery, Alabama.  They came from the North & South, the East and West of Alabama, they came from Florida and Georgia.  They came with big bright smiles on their faces and joy in their hearts.


The program began with the warmest most gracious greeting by the Pastor of the Bethany Seventh Day Adventist (SDA) Church.  He went on "record" by telling us that we are welcome to have our meetings at the church whenever we were in Montgomery.


The meeting continued with a rousing singspiration interspersed with testimonies by the family.  Our own Dr. Dexter Thomas led out in this segment.  Dr. Leonora Ruff gave us a welcome which was very delightful and inspiring.


An impromptu male group sang several Christmas carols.  The group members were Jaybee Johnson, Robert Kelly Jr., Parris Renaud, Dexter Thomas and Morgan Williams.  They were given the name the 4 Blind Boys and 1 Sighted Boy of Alabama they were a great hit.

The highlight of this gathering was the presentations of awards.  Dr. Ora Johnson was given a certificate on receiving her Doctorate of Ministry. We are so proud of you, Ora! Louis Donald completed the Life Skills from the Louisiana Center for the Blind and received a certificate.  We are equally proud of you Louis! We wish Ora and Louis God's richest blessings as they go make their mark on the world.


Christmas games were played and enjoyed by most of us.  The others were involved in a hot game of dominoes.  It seemed that gifts of all kinds and sizes were being given and exchanged.

We would like to recognize the ladies from the Bethany Seventh Day Adventist Community Services, who proved to be invaluable to our group. Dr. Nettie Henderson, Disabilities Coordinator for the South Central Conference of Seventh Day Adventist, quietly and efficiently assisted wherever she saw a need.  Dr. Henderson was with us last year as well.  We PhoneFaith Family are deeply grateful to all of you.  This gathering was a tremendous success.


There are no words to express our gratitude to Barbara/Nikki, moderator of Room 7 and the organizer of the Meet & Greet Program.  Just as she does everything else, this gathering was fantastic.  From the bottom of our hearts we say, "thank you" Barbara.  We pray God's continual blessings on you.


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HUMOR Submitted By Robert Kelly Jr.:

I was sitting in the waiting room for my first appointment with a new dentist. When I read his diploma on the wall, I recalled a tall, handsome, dark-haired boy with the same name, who had been in my high school class some 40 plus years ago. What a crush I had on him! Could this be the same person?

Upon seeing him, however, I quickly discarded any such thought. This balding, paunchy man with the deeply lined face was far too old to have been my classmate. Or was he? I just had to find out for sure.

After he examined my teeth, I asked if he had attended Morgan High School.

"I certainly did," he said with pride.

 "When did you graduate?" I asked.

"In 1964. Why do you ask?"

"You were in my class!"

He peered at me for a moment.

And then that ugly old joker asked:

"Really? What did you teach?"

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Baby It's Cold Outside
By Kate Smith

The weather's been cold and I've been staying indoors. I confess, some days my husband can't pry me out of my chair.  But on Tuesday nights my knitting group meets and I don't like to miss that. So I bundle up and get myself over there so that I can participate in the gossip and practice new stitches.  

We all need to socialize. After all, human beings are social animals. But when I first started having trouble with my vision, I got self-conscious about participating in groups. I worried about all kinds of things. Had I spilled something on my blouse? Had I met the lady sitting next to me last week? Would I be able to find the bathroom? Should I tell people that I can't see very well?  That last question was a big problem for me. If I told others that I couldn't see well, it became all sorts of high drama.  People often responded by expressing pity or concern, when all I really wanted was understanding.  On the other hand, if I said nothing, I wouldn't be able to ask for any accommodation I needed to fully participate.

I found that one kind of group doesn't cause all of this anxiety.  Last fall, I started attending a support group that meets in Jasper, Alabama.  They call themselves the V. I. P.'s, which stands for "Visually Impaired Persons."  The group leader is Gail Smith, a delightful lady who has been blind since her teenage years.  Gail works very hard at finding interesting topics and activities for the group to explore and I truly enjoy attending their monthly meetings.  

Even more wonderful, I found out that Gail can knit, and I look forward to picking her brain about how she fixes a dropped stitch without vision.  You see, that's the big bonus about going to a support group. Everyone there is dealing with a vision impairment, just like me.  When I was in rehab, we met in a support group twice a week and I learned as much there from my fellow students as I did from my classes.  We talked about practical things, like how to navigate a busy airport without sight, and we talked about more "touchy-feely" things, like how to tell your old college roommate about your new disability.  I found out that the people who know best how to deal with vision loss are the people who are living with it.  

And, of course, the chance to socialize is as important as the chance to learn.  Regardless of any difference in age or background, I just naturally have a great deal in common with the other members of the support group. In rehab, I made friends who will, I know, be a part of my life from now on.  Although I have just started attending the Jasper group meetings, I know that it will give me a similar opportunity to meet like-minded people.  

As a final bonus, hanging out with other blind people in groups has helped me to participate in other situations. When I felt awkward and self-conscious about my vision impairment, my discomfort caused others around me to be uncomfortable too. Most groups of sighted persons didn't know what to do with me, and I didn't know how to help them figure it out. So, whenever I tried to participate I usually gave up after one meeting.

All that changed when I started going to a support group. Within six months, I had also joined a knitting group, a meditation group, and a yoga class. Alright, I went a little overboard, but I sure enjoyed socializing after all that time feeling stuck at home. And there was no magic elixir involved, I just spent time talking with other blind folks about our mutual social problems. Just knowing that my experiences and feelings were not unique did a lot to put my fears into better perspective.  

But the group also worked together on solutions to our issues that we felt were do-able and comfortable. So when one member mentioned that she no longer felt useful as a volunteer at her church's soup kitchen, the group brainstormed ideas and ended up suggesting she might offer to do the dishes. She was quite sure that she could do that job and her confidence helped her to convince the group organizer and other participants. Last fall, I remembered the group's advice to her when I was invited to a friend’s house for Thanksgiving. I felt a little awkward when all the other ladies started picking up glasses and napkins around the house, so I just rolled up my sleeves and sauntered over to the sink. Doing the dishes is not my favorite job, but it sure beat standing around awkwardly while everyone else bustled to and fro. I'm not sure I would have thought of it if I hadn't had that discussion in my support group.

I know spring will eventually come, but I am not going to wait for warmer weather. I'm going to keep going to my new support group and my knitting group despite the cold weather. And I've been thinking about starting a new hobby. I wonder if I would like pottery-making classes?


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HUMOR Submitted By Robert Kelly Jr.:

When is it proper to go to bed with your shoes on?

When you are a horse!


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A big Thank You goes out to everyone who submitted articles to this issue of The Focus. It belongs to all of us, so feel free to contribute your thoughts to our next edition.

If you have any comments or questions, please contact me. I would like to hear from you.

Gail Smith, Editor


[email protected]


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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