GCB Digest (Text Version)
GCB Book Club:
We are excited to announce that the Georgia Council of The Blind now has a book club. The book club meets monthly via the telephone on the fourth Thursday at 7:30 p.m. Judy Presley and Deborah Lovell co-host the book discussions. All books selected are available through GLASS and are available for download from BARD. We are always seeking suggestions for future books and encourage others to lead the book group. In April, we read the book “Lake of The Ozarks” by William Geist. In May, we read the book “The Guardians” by John Grisham. In, June we read the book “giver Of Stars” by Jojo Moyes. In July, we are going to read the book, “Miss Julia Speaks Her Mind, by Ann B Ross. We hope you download, read the book and join in on our discussion.
Update from Pagiel Griffith:
Pagiel Griffith lives in Chickamauga, Georgia, recently graduated school and soon will be off to college. It may be hard, with the corona virus, but I know it is possible to fulfill my dream of becoming a Romanian translator. After I turn eighteen I will go off to an NFB school in Minnesota. My mother and I chose this because it is known to teach visually impaired people to be fully independent. The corona virus may slow this down but I am prepared to learn all I can. Another school I wish to attend is known as Visioneers, which is a school in California which teaches people without vision how to see like bats. Echo location has been a dream of mine to learn and learn it I will. After all this is complete I wish to become a Romanian translator. To speak the language and help others understand it has always been a dream of mine and I cannot wait to fulfill this dream of visiting the beautiful nation of Romania. I have enjoyed my time in school and learned a lot. My road ahead is exciting and I am ready to learn more. Even if it is hard I am ready to grow and continue learning.
Update on Darcey Bennett:
Darcy Bennett lives in Douglasville, Georgia and planning on attending Kennesaw State University as a business major. He stated that he is in the process of getting all of the tools he will be using for school and is taking classes on how to use JAWS.
Update on Daniel Cline:
Daniel Cline lives in Warner Robins, Georgia and is planning on attending Mercer University and majoring in mechanical engineering. After obtaining that degree he is planning on attending the University of New Orleans to pursue a degree in naval architecture. He stated that he will be starting a pre-calculus course on Monday, June 22, 2020 and, at Mercer, he will be taking multiple classes in the fall.
Recipe: By Kathy Morris
Cube Steak Casserole
2-4 pounds of cube steak; flour (to coat the steak); oil (to brown the meat); 1 cup instant rice; 1 cup water; 2 cups water; 2 packages of brown gravy mix.
Add salt and/or pepper to the steak; cut steak into approximately 2-3 inch pieces; Coat meat with flour; heat the oil in an into frying pan; place steak in oil and brown on both sides; remove and drain on paper towels. In a casserole dish (sprayed with a non-stick spray), put the rice in the bottom of the dish and pour 1 cup of water over the rice. Mix gravy packets with 2 cups water and pour into casserole dish. Place steak randomly throughout and cover tightly with aluminum foil. Bake in 250 degree oven for 2 hours and stir before serving.
Alternate gravy mix. Instead of using brown gravy and 2 cups water, use a large family size of Cream of Mushroom soup and 1 can of water. Mix well and pour over rice; place Steak in dish; cook as directed.
Braille in Our Lives
By, Cecily Nipper, Junior
Have you ever wondered what it is like to learn Braille? Are you a long time Braille user who is interested in hearing about the experience of others? Join us as we travel through the journeys of three lifelong Braille users: Betsy Grenevitch, Phil Jones and Tom Ridgeway, as each share their experience with us.
The first is our own Betsy Grenevitch, who was five years old when she began learning Braille from her Kindergarten Braille teacher, Phyllis Gordon. Both Betsy and Phil agree, now, since the advent of UEB, to emboss projects takes more pages than in the past. In practical application, by the time the contractions which were added are balanced against those that were taken away, UEB takes up more space.
Betsy has not found any advantages to UEB, and feels because they have combined four different levels of Braille, it also takes more concentration to read and write in UEB, All areas of Betsy’s daily life are benefitted by Braille including the following: labeling items such as a microwave, reading books, writing down addresses and emails etc. One of the most valued aspects of Betsy’s life is Braille and she would definitely tell students learning Braille “Do whatever you have to do in order to succeed.”
Learning to read Braille with the fingers, rather than the eyes, is vital for those who still have some vision.
For the first two years of his education, Phil attended the Georgia Academy for the Blind in Macon. That was where he began his Braille learning using a slate and stylus. When he transferred to a mainstreaming program in public school in the 3rd grade, the resource teacher at the school began teaching him to use the Perkins Brailler. From the start I loved to read,” Phil said, “and having this knowledge helped me to read very well.” Braille is a way of life for Phil. He read many books in Braille! Braille is also helpful for labeling, such as braille letters and numbers on his microwave. When he attended Georgia State University, as in hotels today, having room numbers marked in Braille was extremely helpful. Phil feels his job performance would have suffered if he had not had Braille in his life. Today he would tell Blind and visually impaired students to learn Braille and become proficient in their Braille Skills. Being able to read and write will enable us to do well in other areas including using technology. “The bottom line,” Phil said, “is that I cannot imagine my life without Braille!”
Tom Ridgeway, who lives in Macon, worked for forty-two years at the Georgia Academy for the Blind in Macon. While there, he was a piano instructor, band instructor, taught Algebra, Geometry and Braille. He served on the BANA committee from the late 1970s until recently. He actually had the opportunity to travel to Switzerland in 1992 to a conference to internationalize the Braille music code. He calls the development of Braille over the years “the War of the Dots.” Tom describes Braille as a neuromotor skill: nerves in motion. Starting Braille early in school is therefore very important for children; although it is often a fight with schools who want to put it off for children who can read large print. Compared to reading large print, Tom feels that Braille is much more efficient and enjoyable.
Thank you for joining me on this journey of three lifelong Braille users. I wish to thank Betsy, Phil and Tom for sharing their experiences with us.
Georgia Blind Lions: Helen Keller and Lions History
By Mike Hall
As Georgia Blind Lions meet on our monthly conference calls, we have been talking about how to involve more blind people as blind lions in local clubs. As a part of that conversation, it was suggested that we need to learn more about our history and in particular about the role of Helen Keller in challenging Lions to be "knights of the blind." If you are like me, when you think of Lions, you picture eye glasses or think of some service lions have done for the blind. My first recollection of lions happened when I was in first grade at the Cedar Springs School for the blind, now known as the South Carolina School for the Blind and Deaf in Spartanburg, South Carolina. The local lions sponsored a Christmas party for the students of the school. It was a big affair right before the Christmas break. Parents were invited to be there which a big deal was since most students lived at school. I was one of the few who got to go home each night. Each student received a bag of fruit, which contained some small gifts from the teacher. In addition, each student received a present provided by the lions. I still have the Jack in the Box I received, even though Jack is long gone. I want to attempt to answer two questions about lions. How did lions clubs begin and how did they become involved with people who are blind. Lions Clubs were started by Melvin Jones, a Chicago businessman who owned an insurance company. After attending many business lunches, Jones began to think about how businessmen could use the same energy that made their businesses successful to serve people in their communities. Lions Clubs were formed in 1917, with Lions Clubs International celebrating 100 years of service in 2017. Lions became international in 1920 with the first club in Canada. There are lions clubs around the world now with each club being sponsored by another club and each member being sponsored by another member. The first Lions Club in Georgia was the Atlanta Lions Club, which is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year. The second club was the Macon Lions Club, which will turn 100 next year. I am not sure how Helen Keller received an invitation to speak to an international gathering of Lions, an organization that was not yet ten years old at the time. From reading her speech, which was given on June 30, 1925 in Cedar Point, Ohio, I learn that she was seeking support for the 4-year old organization known as the American Foundation for the Blind. I have heard many long and rambling speeches. Helen Keller's speech was short, powerful and to the point. She described herself as an opportunity to the lions and she asked them to adopt her. What she said she offered the lions were full of "splendid opportunities for service." She asked them to think about suddenly being struck blind and how they would work and what they would do. They would appreciate a friend who would come along and offer to teach them how to do some of the things they used to do when they could see. She said that the American Foundation for the Blind was that friend. Helen Keller's speech ended by asking Lions to foster and sponsor the work of the American Foundation for the Blind and to "hasten the day when there shall be no preventable blindness, no little deaf children untaught, no blind man or woman unaided." She ended with a challenge: "I appeal to you Lions, you who have your sight, your hearing; you who are strong and brave and kind. Will you not constitute yourselves as Knights of the blind in this crusade against darkness?" In the years since that time, Lions have done just that by creating camps, sponsoring schools, funding eye banks and eye clinics, paying for eye surgeries and glasses, buying braille books, braille writers and so much more. In either the late 1980's or early 1990's, Lions Clubs International started a worldwide project called Sight First to challenge Lions to raise one million dollars to eradicate preventable blindness. Eye clinics and hospitals have been set up in developing countries to eliminate such diseases as river blindness, which is a parasite spread from bathing in unclean water. I hope to learn how Helen Keller was invited to speak to the international convention of lions and what caused the lions not only to accept her but to take on her challenge. Did Helen Keller talk about blind people as charity cases or in an unflattering way? Perhaps in some ways she did just that. She did say that the American Foundation for the Blind was “called into existence by the sightless themselves.” I can't believe she called us sightless. But that was 1925. She did describe AFB's objective “to make the lives of the blind more worthwhile everywhere by increasing their economic value and giving them the joy of normal activity.” While that wording is still a little strange, it seems to me that Helen Keller is talking about independence as well as employment, daily living skills and training. These are issues we continue to be concerned about today. Finally, I believe that Helen Keller and her challenge were accepted because she spoke well, she made her vision clear and she was doing something. By the time you read this, Georgia Blind Lions will have had our July conference call. With us on that call will be Ms. Lori Upchurch, a lady from Baxley, Georgia who talks about Helen Keller. When I called her about being on with us, she asked if I wanted her to talk about Helen Keller or to be Helen Keller. I'll be sure to let you know what happens. If you would like to read Helen Keller's speeches, you may want to check out the book Helen Keller, Public Speaker: Sightless but Seen, Deaf but Heard by Lois J. Einhorn. It is available from NLS as DB52120. To find out more about Georgia Blind Lions or if you would like to join one of our calls, please contact Lion Marsha Farrow at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mad dogs, Bad Dogs and a Tale of Two Booties, by Janet Parmerter
Now that summer is here, even though Covid has put a damper on traveling overseas, I thought I’d share a bit of travel talk. First let’s discuss an attitude of some people in third world countries. When you really need help, don’t act like an entitled American. People may be indifferent about work, or helping a foreigner get things done. In that you really need help, don’t demand it, and beg for it. Remember, people like to feel important, so use the words, “Oh please, I really need help, are you the one who can help me.” It never ceases to amaze me when people feel they have the power, they are more willing to prove that power by helping. It is AMAZING how those few words cause someone to reply, “Yes, “I” am the one who can do it.” I have seen that work many, many times. Then what about the reputation of American travelers? Being in the travel industry for over forty years, I must admit, Americans don’t have a great reputation for tolerance. Unfortunately, with regards to almost everything, including accessibility issues, many Americans think the world should be on an equal plane with the United States. Some travelers cannot understand why ice is not added to drinks, why butter is not put on the table with bread, why shops close in the middle of the day, why people dine with their pet dogs, and last but not the very least, why everyone does not speak English. Of all the comments written by travel writers, my favorite line regarding intolerant attitudes of some American tourists was written by Sydney Clark. His exact words were, “Americans walk the face of the earth expecting universal mastery of the English language to precede them wherever they go! In one sentence, Sydney Clark beautifully summed up the attitude of numerous inexperienced travelers. Having been an international tour guide for decades, I would be rich if I had a dollar every time I heard an American tourist say, “Don’t let them kid you, they know exactly what you’re saying.” The truth is, they don’t, just like that tourist doesn’t understand the foreigner, and the foreigner doesn’t really understand that tourist. They want to sell, so if they say they don’t understand, believe me, they don’t. In addition, too many times American tourists expect everything to be just like home. Much too often I have heard comments like, “At home we get, or at home we do this or that, or at home it’s not like this.” More than once I had to bite my tongue not to ask, “Then if you want things to be like home, why didn’t you just stay there?” I know, that’s not a very nice tour guide comment, so that’s why I only have half a tongue, I bit the other half off years ago.
As a tour guide who loves historic European cities, walking the narrow cobblestone streets of a 15th century city can be frustrating when listening to uninformed visitors complain about eighteen inch wide sidewalks. They fail to realize that’s all they could take away from the narrow cobblestone street. The tiny streets were made for walking and perhaps a horse or two, not for the modern day cars and buses which fight tourists for the right to drive on their ancient roads. Therefore, before considering a trip overseas, I offer two suggestions. First, buy flat crepe soled shoes to prevent twisting your ankle on the cobblestone streets, and now that we all have time to read, order some books and study about wherever you would like your dream trip to be. If you are an educated, knowledgeable tourist and you will not be easily “blind-sided” by the inevitable, yet unexpected different situations. For example, at 18 years old I was in Europe for the very first time and wanted to prove I was all grown up. I wanted to use the rest room alone but failed on my first attempt. Blaming my poor eyesight, or perhaps my Italian was worse than I thought, I returned to the table and once again asked the waiter for the second time where the rest room was. This time I felt sure I understood the directions. But once again, there wasn’t any rest room. The third time I asked, he took me right to the same door I just came from, pointed to the WC, said, “Cabinetto” and walked way. What? Cabinet? Did the WC mean woman’s cabinet? I was so confused so I went into the room supposing there might be another door inside, but there was nothing. At this point, my bladder was telling me if I didn’t find the rest room right away, the WC would mean wet clothing! There was no other choice but to go back to the table and humbly ask my parent’s for help. My mother took me right back to the same door and explained the WC meant Water closet. Now I was ready to cry and sighed, “But mommy, I have been in there three times and it’s not a bathroom.” Calmly she took me inside, pointed to the floor and said, “Do you see those two ceramic feet? Put one foot on each, squat, aim for the hole in the floor and try not to wet on your shoes.” Please let me add, though I came back to the table a bit embarrassed my shoes were dry. That experience was the beginning of my learning to accept, embrace and love the differences of other countries.
As for those with disabilities and service animals, much of Europe is ready, willing, and able to help with both.
To assist disabled travelers, Rick Steves wrote a wonderful book which includes an excellent rating scale for accessibility levels and the helpfulness of hotels, restaurants and tourist attractions. Still, in European restaurants it is not unusual to see pet dogs inside restaurants alongside their owner’s chair. Being a tour group director, I was accustomed to the European experience of dining with dogs, but that was not so for my American clients. For example, one evening after skiing Mont Blanc in Chamonix France, for dinner I brought my tour group to a quaint little French bistro. Our group used almost every table and only about three tables had other patrons. Under the table nearest mine, someone’s large furry pet dog was quietly sleeping. All of a sudden, the woman’s peaceful pet lifted its head, glared out the floor length tablecloth and began a low, constant growl. At first, many of my American clients were surprised by the unleashed and growling dog under the next table, but when the low growl turned into full blown barking they became a bit frightened.
All the French patrons in the restaurant seemed oblivious to the disturbance until I got up to go to the restroom. Immediately, the dog leaped out from under the table and went after my feet. In a second, it attacked my white furry, knee high, goat skin after ski boots. Apparently, he had been watching them from under his table. Each time I moved either foot, which was every second, the disturbed doggie began growling. When I stood up to go to the WC, the dog suspected his meal was escaping and pounced on my legs. Let me tell you this, being visually impaired and in a dark restaurant, I had no idea what was happening and screamed with terror. Well, of course, that made the disinterested diners finally pay attention to the dog’s bad manners and without an apology or a single word to us, the owner called the dogs cute little French name and the sulking canine returned to its concealed spot under the tablecloth.
Granted perhaps they were embarrassed they could not apologize in English, but any gesture of concern or any expression of regret in French would have calmed my pounding heart. So in that terrifying moment, because of the indifferent attitude of the dog’s owner and her friends, I almost lost my temper, I lost a wad of goat hair off my expensive apres ski boots and I lost my appetite. You would think the French dog story ended here, but no. As we left the bistro and began walking toward our return bus to Italy, once again, a tiny little rat size dog bit my leg. This time, one of my clients was videotaping the gorgeous snowcapped mountain when he heard my second scream. He lowered the camera just in time to catch the old French owner of the mangy mut hit my leg with her cane. Not once, but twice. Yes, it’s on video, the old French bitty actually hit me twice, boom, boom, with her cane. I only wish I knew what she yelled in French when her feisty pooch in the red sweater bit my leg. Every time anyone watched the video they laughed and ask, “What’s with the angry old lady and the crazy dog?” Who knows, it was probably the buddy of the bistro dog and they were both out to kill my boots. So, am I done with the apres ski goat hair boot stories? No, I saved the top dog story for last. Up to that point, I thought the problem was, French dogs hated my boots. However, a year later in Cortina d’Ampezzo Italy, our tour group stayed at the Hotel Vittoria Parc and the owner of the hotel had a dog that absolutely loved my goat hair boots. Was that better? No, it was worse. Much worse. I mean the dog loved my boots. He was really in amorato with my goat hair boots and I couldn’t walk through the lobby without that male dog thinking his lover was running away. I’d be walking toward the front door for a relaxing passagiatta, or evening stroll, when the dog would come running from behind, wrap his two front arms around my knees and, well, he would, Um, let’s just say he wouldn’t let go. It was so bad, when we returned from skiing, if the owner saw me, she would have to pull him into her office and shut the door. Unfortunately, the door was glass and when he saw me come into the hotel lobby, he would begin howling and slam his body against the glass door trying to get the attention of my indifferent boots.
This One sided love affair became the evening entertainment for my tour group. Our clients began waiting with their video cameras to record the dogs hilarious attempts at amore. If I knew how to post a VHS video, I would definitely post the evening I came into the lounge for a glass of vino. As I walked in, the dog leaped from behind and attached himself to my right leg. Since he came from behind, my knee buckled and I almost fell over. As I caught myself on the couch, would anyone help me? No, they were all busy laughing and filming the dog trying to have a good time with my boots. For a second I pushed him away but he chased me around the couch three times and jumped onto my right leg. As soon as I pulled that one away, he leaped onto my left leg. When I got them both free, he chased me around the room. When he leaped across the floor and wrapped all four legs around my knee and thigh, I dragged him across the floor limping on the other leg like the hunchback of Notre Dame. Did anyone try to help now? No, because they were bent over laughing. Finally, this big dog knocked me over and when I pulled myself up, I began pushing him off with my right arm. At that point, his face was in my elbow and I guess this fickle dog figured he liked my mink jacket better than my goat skin boots, because in a second, this emotionally confused dog wrapped himself around my arm and wouldn’t let go. Amidst the laughter, you can hear me yell, “This dog is nuts! Hey, let go, this jacket cost a lot of money!” After jerking my arm away, once again, the dizzying race around the couch was off. When his mortified owner caught sight of the fiasco, I was in the lead, but in frustration and failure, she dragged him away to the office doggie jail.
From that point on, I decided I would keep those goat skin apres ski boots out of Europe. They were strictly relegated to US ski resorts where well behaved service dogs were allowed; and good little pet dogs stayed at home with the pet cats.