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The New Jersey Council of the Blind
October, 2011

We thank Audiovision, the Radio Reading Service of the New Jersey State Library Talking Book and Braille Center for the use of their recording studio to produce the cassette and digital formats that are aired on Audiovision at www.audiovision-nj.org and our website www.njcounciloftheblind.org. We thank John Hart of Audiovision and our webmaster Dave Casterline for their technical assistance. The Chronicle is read by Bob Lucas.

The New Jersey Council of the Blind's mission is to strive for the betterment of the blind and visually impaired community. The purpose of this publication is to provide a forum for the free exchange of ideas, opinions and information that concern blind and visually impaired people.

The New Jersey Council of the Blind NJCB) is a 501 (c) 3 corporation and all gifts are tax deductible. Tax deductible donations should be sent to the Treasurer of NJCB.

Four quarterly newsletters are sent to members free of charge in either large print, audio cassette or E-mail. Non-members may request the NJCB Chronicle by E-mail and for an annual donation of $5.00 may receive copies in large print or on cassette.

In order to make the Chronicle better, we need and appreciate information from our chapters, from individuals and from agencies and other outside groups and organizations which serve the blind and visually impaired. Articles to be included in the NJCB Chronicle, requests for copies of the newsletter or membership information should be sent to NJCB, 520 Ewingville Road, Ewing, NJ 08638. They may also be e-mailed to njcounciloftheblind@verizon.net or phoned to (609) 882-2446. All information must be received by December 1st to be included in the next issue of the Chronicle.

You may obtain the current and back issues of the Chronicle and other information from our web site at www.njcounciloftheblind.org

The NJCB officers are: President, John Vernon, 447 Bellevue Ave., Apt 7-I, Trenton, NJ 08618, (609) 392-3674; First Vice President Frank Schack (973) 595-0116; Second Vice President Joyce Sowa (732) 596-9675; Secretary Ottilie Lucas (609) 882-2446 and Treasurer Bob Lucas (609) 882-2446, 520 Ewingville Road, Ewing, NJ 08638.


The next quarterly meeting of NJCB will be October 29, 2011 and will be hosted by the Members at Large at Grace Lutheran Church, 600 New Brunswick Avenue, Perth Amboy, NJ 08861. It is Access Link accessible and the cross street is Convery Blvd. The meeting begins with lunch at noon. The business meeting is from 1 to about 4 PM. The cost for lunch is $5.00. Contact Bill and Betty Dougherty at (732) 283-1688 by October 20th to let them know that you are coming and if you plan to have lunch.


Grace Lutheran Church
600 New Brunswick Ave.
Perth Amboy, NJ 08861

Cross Street is Convery Blvd.
Take Route #1 to Route 287
Take 287 south ramp to NJ 440/interstate 95/Raritan Center/ Perth Amboy
Merge onto 287 South
Continue onto 440 North
Exit onto US 9 north
Take New Brunswick Avenue exit toward Perth Amboy/Fords
Turn left at County Road 616/New Brunswick Ave.
Church is at 600 New Brunswick Ave.

President's Message

Hi, fellow NJCB Members. Well, the season reads autumn and the temperature reading is finally starting to get lower. Now if the rainfall totals would also diminish a bit we will all be much happier. They report that 2011 will have the highest recorded rainfall total in one year ever for this part of the country. We can complain. However, I'm willing to bet that the states of Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona would trade with us in a quick minute. Therefore, let us be thankful and move on.

As you probably realize, October is Blindness Awareness Month. Thirty-five states now recognize the accomplishments, needs, and desires of the blind community every October. This effort was begun in our own state of New Jersey by Rocco Fiorentino when he was five years old along with his parents Rocco and Tina. Tina continues her work for her son and his fellow blind citizens as the President of the Little Rock Foundation. More information can be obtained by going to their website at www.tlrf.org or by calling (856) 768-2298.

Fall also begins the renewal of The Central New Jersey Commission for the Blind Community Advisory Board. John Reiff, the Central New Jersey Manager, has chosen his new Board which will start their quarterly meetings in October. NJCB will be well represented with five members. Ottilie Lucas, Larry Morgan, Joyce Sowa, Betty Dougherty, and Pat Kay are informed citizens and will serve the board and The NJCB well.

The city of New York continues to buy more diesel-electric powered buses. The quietness of these vehicles when operated in the electric mode continues to provide a safety problem for all blind and visually impaired citizens. Some school districts are also beginning to buy these diesel-electric powered vehicles as well. ACB and each state need to continue addressing this safety issue. I realize that we are only one percent of the population. However, if you or one whom you love happens to be the one injured by such a vehicle, then you would find the issue a priority that needs to be addressed.

I look forward to seeing everyone at our next quarterly meeting on October 29th. If you have any requests or ideas for a guest speaker, please feel free to contact me at (609) 392-3674 or at whynot48@comcast.net. All the Best! John Vernon, President, NJCB

Attention Chapter Officers

All chapter 2012 dues and membership lists are due to be given to the Treasurer, Bob Lucas at the NJCB quarterly meeting on October 29th. Please include in the membership list: member's name, address, phone number, E-mail address, legally blind or fully sighted and desired format for newsletters (large print, cassette or E-mail)

The dues are $6.50 for each voting member. Please make your checks out to NJCB.

It will be appreciated if the Members at large would also pay their individual dues of $10.00 to Bob Lucas at this time or mail your check for $10.00 to Bob Lucas, Treasurer, 520 Ewingville Road, Ewing, NJ 08638-1410. Renewal forms for the Members at large will be available at this meeting.

Invoices will be sent out near the end of the year to our members at large who have not paid their 2012 dues.

Thank you. Bob Lucas, Treasurer, NJCB

FCC's Video Description Rules and What They Mean to Us

Video described content will be required in 2012. Below is a summary of the critical components in the rule. Commercial network affiliates of ABC, CBS, Fox, and NBC in top 25 markets must provide 50 hours of described prime-time or children's programming per quarter, starting with the quarter beginning July 1, 2012; expands to top 60 markets in July 2015.

Cable nets subject to same rules - top 5: USA, the Disney Channel, TNT, Nickelodeon, and TBS; via their carriers: cable and satellite systems that serve 50,000 or more subscribers (officially "multichannel video programming distributors" - MVPDs - which includes Verizon's FiOS-TV and AT&T's U-verse). Determination of top 5 based on Nielsen ratings will updated at three- year intervals. All broadcast stations associated with any television network must pass through video description when the network provides it, if the broadcast station has the necessary technical capability. All MVPDs of any size must pass through video description of any broadcast station or nonbroadcast network. Described programs can be counted twice toward 50-hour requirement - that is, one original airing and one repeat. Second airing can be in next quarter from original airing.

Exemptions can be petitioned-for and granted by FCC upon a finding that the requirements would be economically burdensome ("imposing significant difficulty or expense"), based on costs, resources, operations of provider. Public notice and comment period required. Program considered exempt until FCC decision issued.

Complaint procedures detailed in R&O; no private right of action allowed (consumers cannot sue responsible parties for compliance). Penalties for violation of rules can be assessed by FCC, including additional description requirements.

HHS Announces 2012 Medicare Advantage and Part D Plan Options

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced that on average, Medicare Advantage premiums will be 4 percent lower in 2012 than in 2011, and plans project enrollment to increase by 10 percent. Of people with Medicare, 99.7 percent continue to enjoy access to a Medicare Advantage plan, and benefits remain consistent with those offered in 2011. This follows an earlier announcement that average prescription drug plan premiums will remain virtually unchanged in 2012.

CMS was able to use authority provided by the Affordable Care Act to protect beneficiaries from significant increases in costs or cuts in benefits in 2012, leading to average premium declines for the second year in a row: 2012 premiums are projected to be 11.5 percent below 2010 premiums. In 2012, all beneficiaries will have access to Medicare-covered preventive services without paying a co-pay or deductible, including an Annual Wellness Exam with their physicians. Those who reach the donut hole will enjoy deep discounts on brand name drugs and expanded coverage for generic drugs under provisions of the Affordable Care Act.

This year marks an important change in Medicare's annual open enrollment, the time period during which people can choose to change plans or shift from Medicare Advantage to Traditional Medicare. Open Enrollment starts earlier - on October 15, 2011 - and lasts longer (7 full weeks) to give beneficiaries more time to review and make changes to their coverage. As a result, however, beneficiaries will need to make their elections for next year's Medicare coverage by December 7, 2011 rather than the usual December 31.

For the first time, in 2012 CMS will provide financial rewards to those Medicare Advantage plans with high quality scores, under its Five-Star rating methodology. CMS is also allowing Five-Star Medicare Advantage and Part D plans to continuously market and enroll beneficiaries throughout the year, as an extra incentive for high quality performance.

Over the next several months, CMS will work with beneficiary advocates, State Health Insurance Assistance Programs and beneficiaries to ensure that people are well equipped to make decisions about health coverage that will best meet their needs in 2012. Only one percent of Medicare beneficiaries are enrolled in plans that will not be available next year, and those enrollees will receive a notice of non-renewal from their plan in the next few weeks. Beneficiaries currently enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan will revert to Original Medicare if they do not choose a plan on their own; however everyone will need to enroll in a Part D plan to keep their drug coverage. Beneficiaries eligible for the Part D low-income subsidy will be enrolled in a zero-premium drug plan by CMS and will have the option to select a different Medicare plan throughout the year.

Starting October 1, 2011 users of the Medicare Plan Finder, available at www.Medicare.gov, will be able to compare plans' quality summary rating from the previous year, identify which drugs may or may not be on a plan's formulary or be restricted, and compare the cost ranges for plans available in their community. Information on 2012 plans will be available online starting October 1, and on October 12, will include the plans' Five-Star quality rating.

Additional resources are available at the following links:

Press Release - http://www.hhs.gov/news

HealthCare.gov Blog Post - http://www.healthcare.gov/news/blog/medicare09152011.html

Medicare Health and Drug Plan State-by-State Fact Sheets - http://www.cms.hhs.gov/center/openenrollment.asp

2012 Plan Landscape Files - http://www.cms.hhs.gov/PrescriptionDrugCovGenIn/

Thank You, NJN
By Anne McArthur

Many thanks to NJN for its service to the blind. I thank NJN for hosting a radio reading service to blind New Jerseyans since 1983. For 28 years, NJN broadcast Audiovision, a free statewide information channel for New Jerseyans who cannot read standard print because of blindness or other print disabilities. It also broadcasts emergency alerts for people with disabilities in New Jersey. Audiovision's content is provided by the New Jersey State Library Talking Book and Braille Center. This free 24/7 service connects senior citizens, veterans and others with print disabilities to news and information. Coverage includes seven major Jersey newspapers, such as The Times of Trenton and The Newark Star-Ledger, as well as The New York Times and The Philadelphia Inquirer. More than 75 volunteers contribute their time every week to provide news to New Jerseyans who cannot read the printed word.

As recently as 2009, the Legislature recognized the value of the partnership between NJN and Audiovision, when it provided $360,000 to Audiovision as part of the FY2009 capital budget. These funds allowed Audiovision to transition to digital transmission as part of the national digital TV conversion in 2010.

Through June 30, when it went dark, NJN broadcast Audiovision over the air and on Cablevision, Comcast and Verizon. Now, Audiovision can be accessed only through its internet streaming service at audiovision-nj.org.

It is my hope that NJTV will continue NJN's mission of news coverage and emergency alerts for New Jerseyans who cannot see to read.

The writer retired as head of Audiovision. From Times of Trenton, August 3, 2011, Page 8, Letters to the Editor. Editor's note. To sign up, call John Hart at (800) 792-8322, ext. 812.

NJCB Member participating in Artificial Vision Research

A longtime friend and member of New Jersey Council of the Blind (NJCB), Charlotte Poole, has volunteered to participate in artificial vision research being conducted at the John Moran Eye Institute in Salt Lake City, Utah. Under the direction of Professor Richard Moran, research is being conducted that could result in some restoration of vision to individuals who have lost their vision. More information about this project can be obtained by calling (801) 581-7645.

2011 ACB Convention Highlights
By Bob Lucas
Reaching Blind and Visually Impaired Seniors

Editor's note. Following is an excerpt from an article written by Ardis Bazyn that appeared in ACB's September, 2011 Braille Forum. The article summarizes a membership growth seminar she led at the ACB Convention in Reno this past summer. The information presented here is contained in a brochure handed out at the conclusion of the seminar.

"Seniors often don't want to identify as "blind" people, so it's necessary to reach them where they are.

- Make friends with your state's division of blind services older blind coordinator and suggest they advertise your meetings, and add your information to their web site.

- Leave brochures and business cards with ophthalmologists, audiologists, and sight/hearing impairment centers offices and suggest distributing your meeting information as well as a resource list.

- Contact your local senior centers, assistive living facilities, state or county aging and blindness committees, support groups, and eye-related conferences to suggest speakers from your chapter to explain the purpose of your group and the resources you can provide.

- Find the Department on Aging and deaf-blind agency in your community and offer to assist them with blindness or low-vision resources (including chapter contact information).

- Offer tip sheets with a list of resources that would interest those losing their sight. This information could be disseminated to social workers on staff at any agency.

- Contact Ears for Eyes (1-800-843-6816) and order some of their audio cassettes to distribute to newly blinded older people.

- Ask some of your older members to choose one older newly blinded person to contact by phone and suggest helpful ideas for independent living learned from ACB.

- Ask your local Lions Clubs for help locating newly blind people and finding transportation to meetings.

- Check the ACB web site for more helpful resources for this age group. We have a list of program ideas and blindness-related resources."

Computer Training offered by AccessTech

Did you know that you can learn to use a computer even if you are blind or visually impaired? AccessTech classes are fun and free-of-charge. Little or no computer experience is needed!

Learn to Use:

Learn to Use:

The New Jersey Commission for the Blind and Visually Impaired

Statewide at public libraries and other community facilities; inquire for current sites and counties served.

Enroll: Contact 877/447-6500 Press Option #3, or info@4dewitt.com.

Attention Members at Large

We are considering resuming the quarterly conference calls for those who cannot attend our quarterly meetings. This was attempted in the past with little participation. It is important to keep all of our members informed and this is another way to do this.

Many of our members have unlimited long distance dialing privileges. We have a free conference call phone number and access code that will be given to you. Be advised that while the conference call is free, it is not a toll free call-in number. The date and time for calls will be announced in advance.

If you would like to take part in this conference call group, contact NJCB's secretary, Ottilie Lucas, at (609) 882-2446 or by E-mail at njcounciloftheblind@verizon.net . We believe this is a good way to stay connected.

Chapter Reports

Garden State Guide Dog Users.

I am writing this and feeling relieved that we made it through Hurricane Irene and its aftermath. I hope you and your dogs made it through okay. By the time the Chronicle goes to press GSGDUI will have had a conference call meeting. The call is scheduled for Wednesday evening September 14th at 7:00 PM.

Our next face to face meeting is scheduled for Saturday December 10th from 10:00 AM until 12 noon at Ottilie and Bob Lucas' home. The address is 520 Ewingville Road, Ewing NJ 08638. Phone (609) 882-2446 for directions.

Please feel free to e-mail me at lrcasey1@verizon.net or phone me at (609) 912-0657 if you need to contact me for any reason. Wishing all of you a wonderful fall season. Lauren Casey, GSGDUI, President

Mercer County Association of the Blind.

MCAB has had a full summer. Many of us celebrated summer birthdays of many of our members on July 4th with a picnic at the Lucas'. Four of us attended the ACB conference/convention in Reno. Several enjoyed a picnic and the summer quarterly meeting at Camp Happiness on July 16th. On August 6th, the Trenton Elks provided their picnic grounds and served a picnic to about 70 of our members and friends.

We as a chapter regret that we cannot attend the Fall Festival with the Talking Book and Braille Center at the Grounds for Sculpture in Hamilton. Twenty-six of us are going to see Neil Simon's The Odd Couple at the Hunterdon Hills Playhouse and Dinner Theater. We would all like to have been twins to attend both events. We had tried to reschedule The Odd Couple event but they did not have any other available dates.

We are looking forward to our annual Christmas Dinner Party at the Trenton Elks on December 2nd. We always have a fun evening with good food, gifts delivered by Santa and music by Stan Partyka.

We all hope to see many of you at the NJCB quarterly meeting on October 29th. We also wish you a very happy and healthy remainder of 2011.

New Jersey Blind Citizens Association.

Editor's note. Following is the Director's Message from the September, 2011 NJBCA monthly newsletter. "A number of exciting new fundraising initiatives will be announced in the next Newsletter if approved by the Board. We are now without our Director of Development, and it will be very difficult to fill this void. NJBCA Board elections are coming up, and we are always looking to recruit qualified and dedicated folks to serve on our Board. If you are reading this, and would be interested in learning more, please give Doug a call at 732-291-0878. The primary responsibility of a non-profit Board member is to set policy and maintain a strategic plan for the organization, while doing everything possible to ensure financial viability. I hope to hear from you.

We are grateful to the Matawan Rotary for sponsoring a 'Day at the Races' at the Monmouth Park Turf Club. Please call me for ticket information on what will be a great day.

Marisa, our former Director of Development, initiated an automobile donation program through Vehicle Management Services. It only took a week to be notified of the first donation. We are anxiously awaiting the proceeds, and future donations. Please call our office if you know anyone considering a car donation.

The NJBCA is entering an exciting period. We have begun our second century of service, expanding programs and services to an ever growing clientele. Our founders would be proud. J. Douglas Scott, Executive Director."


Saturday, October 29, 2011: NJCB Quarterly meeting at Grace Lutheran Church in Perth Amboy. Check for details and directions in prior article.

Saturday, December 3, 2011: The Friends of the NJ Library for the Blind and Handicapped meeting at the Hamilton Public Library. Call Ottilie Lucas at (609) 882-2446 for details and directions.

Saturday, January 28, 2012: Quarterly meeting at the Trinity United Methodist Church in Ewing. Watch for details and directions in The January issue of the NJCB Chronicle.


NOTE: Disclaimer. The views and opinions expressed in this newsletter are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinions and views of the New Jersey Council of the Blind officers and/or members. The editor reserves the right to edit articles submitted for both space and content.