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The New Jersey Council of the Blind
January, 2013

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 and our website www.njcounciloftheblind.org. We thank Audiovision's John Hart and our webmaster Dave Casterline for their technical assistance. The Chronicle is read by Bob Lucas. For more information about Audiovision call 1-800-792-8322 or visit their website at www.audiovision-nj.org. The NJCB Chronicle is also available on Newsline.

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 March 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, Larry Morgan, 53 Pollman Ave., Hamilton, NJ 08619, (609) 588-5012; 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, 520 Ewingville Road, Ewing, NJ 08638, (609) 882-2446.

Meeting Notice

The next quarterly meeting of NJCB will be on January 26, 2013 at the Trinity United Methodist Church at 1985 Pennington Road at the corner of Pennington Road and Carlton Avenue in Ewing across the street from The College of New Jersey. Lunch will be served at noon for a cost of $5.00 and the general business meeting will begin at 1 PM. The day's activities will be over at about 4 PM.

Call Ottilie Lucas at (609) 882-2446 to ensure that Mercer County Association of the Blind, the host chapter, will have sufficient refreshments for all attending.


Get onto Route 95 heading south. (From Route 1 south, from Route 295 heading north or Route 195 heading west to Route 295 north)

Get off at Exit #4 making a left turn onto Pennington Road (Route 31 South heading toward Ewing)
Turn right at the 4th traffic light, Carlton Avenue. It is across the street from The College of New Jersey.
Immediately turn left into the parking lot of Trinity United Methodist Church. Phone: Lucas' Cell: (609) 638-4232. In case of inclement weather, call Lucas' cell phone to confirm meeting status.

President's Message

Hello everyone. I hope all of you had happy and healthy holidays with family and friends. As I sit here writing my first President's Message, I am saddened by the tragic events of this past year. The property damage and loss of life inflicted by Hurricane Sandy was compounded by the senseless shootings in theaters, malls and Sandy Hook Elementary School. Whatever happened to the "Peace on earth, good will to men" message proclaimed so many years ago?

We can't change the past, but. it is now a New Year and we have all set our personal goals for 2013. I typically set mine a little higher than I can actually achieve in order to keep myself motivated for the entire year. Our theme for the 2012 Convention was "Keep it moving". Let's use that theme as our overall guideline for achieving specific goals that are of importance to New Jersey's blind and visually impaired community.

Education, employment and transportation are critically important to all of us. It will be my privilege in the coming year to work alongside of you as we set, plan and implement realizable, achievable goals for improvement in these areas of importance. I will begin by establishing committees to focus on these issues.

Doug Heine, Chris Ward and Pat Kay have agreed to be board members in 2013 and 2014.

Please bring any suggestions, comments or ideas you may have to our attention. We want as much input from our membership as possible. I believe we need to make people aware of our goals and I also believe we need to look for ways to increase our membership.

Everyone has something to offer. So let's talk, let's work and let's keep it moving. My best to all of you in 2013.

Larry Morgan, President

NJCB Convention Recap

The 2012 NJCB convention was a great time of learning and fellowship. We thank all who participated in the day to make it such a success.

Ken Stewart of the American Council of the Blind did a yeoman's job by first speaking at our banquet luncheon about Pedestrian Safety, later in the afternoon about quiet cars and finally about the importance of exercise to keep our bodies healthy. Steve Fitante of NJ Transit spoke about several aspects of transportation. He has held many positions throughout the state of New Jersey and has experience at many levels of transportation for the disabled. Vito DeSantis, Executive Director of The NJ Commission for the Blind and Visually Impaired gave us an update of CBVI's progress during the last year. Adam Szczepaniak, Director of The NJ State Library Talking Book and Braille Center, told us of the latest happenings at TBBC regarding the new digital program and other outreach efforts.

We had Trisha Ebel from Heightened Independence and Progress exhibit as well as tell us of the new Script Talk product which has a chip placed onto a medication bottle on which is recorded the information that is printed on labels which can be read aloud using a special machine that is free to those who request this program from their pharmacist. Many of our members have already signed up for this accessible drug labeling system.

Two of our members, Pat Kay and Leigh Tilden, gave presentations in their areas of expertise. Pat demonstrated the Native American flute. She told how she got involved and gave us the opportunity to play rhythm instruments to accompany her as she played the flute. It was very enlightening. Leigh gave an informative presentation about the iPhone. Many conventioneers have them and asked questions and provided input about their favorite apps.

Six vendors participated and several had products to demonstrate and sell. They were Chuck Cohen from C Tech, Michelle Zulli from Midnight Crafts, Joan Markey and Kim Geczi from The Seeing Eye, Trisha Ebel from Heightened Independence and Progress, Sherlock Washington from SW Unlimited and Adam Szczepaniak from The NJ State Library Talking Book and Braille Center. Several of the vendors donated gifts for our raffles. We thank all of them for helping our convention be so informative.

Last but definitely not least, we thank all of the people who donated their time and door prize items, raffle prizes, center pieces, etc. to give our members fond memories of the convention. We thank the Sowas for providing volunteers from both sides of their family which included sorority sisters from Muhlenberg College. They assisted our members with meals, vendor visits, etc. The chapters donated cash prizes. The Morgans, Schacks and Sowas collected raffle prizes and goodie bag items. Marcia Morgan made and donated the centerpieces. Joyce Schack did her usual excellent job of coordinating the registration process. We thank the members of NJCB who served on the Convention Committee and who worked before and during the convention to make the day flow smoothly. These people are: Frank and Joyce Schack, Larry and Marcia Morgan, Steve and Joyce Sowa, Bill Dougherty, John Vernon, Lauren Casey, Bob and Ottilie Lucas and Chris Ward.

This was John Vernon's last meeting as President of NJCB. We thank him for his capable and willing leadership these past 4 years. We elected Larry Morgan as our next president. He is enthusiastic about this role and is looking forward to helping NJCB become even more responsive to the needs of the visually impaired people in NJ.

We did ratify 2 minor changes in our constitution that reflect our changing from annual to biennial conventions. We will start planning the 2014 convention in the near future. Please let any of the officers know of any topics or speakers that you would like to have featured. We all enjoyed this convention and had several comments how well everyone worked together and how much fun everyone was having. This is a great tribute to all of us. Keep up the enthusiasm and get more involved to make NJCB even better.

Social Security COLA and SGA Increase

On 10/16/12, Eric Bridges ebridges@acb.org wrote: The monthly SGA amount for statutorily blind individuals for 2013 is $1740. That represents a $50 increase over 2012.


Social Security Announces 1.7 Percent Benefit Increase for 2013 Monthly Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits for nearly 62 million Americans will increase 1.7 percent in 2013, the Social Security Administration announced today.

The 1.7 percent cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) will begin with benefits that more than 56 million Social Security beneficiaries receive in January 2013. Increased payments to more than 8 million SSI beneficiaries will begin on December 31, 2012.

Some other changes that take effect in January of each year are based on the increase in average wages. Based on that increase, the maximum amount of earnings subject to the Social Security tax (taxable maximum) will increase to $113,700 from $110,100. Of the estimated 163 million workers who will pay Social Security taxes in 2013, nearly 10 million will pay higher taxes as a result of the increase in the taxable maximum.

Information about Medicare changes for 2013, when announced, will be available at www.Medicare.gov. For some beneficiaries, their Social Security increase may be partially or completely offset by increases in Medicare premiums.

The Social Security Act provides for how the COLA is calculated. To read more, please visit http://www.socialsecurity.gov/cola.

Attention: Members at Large

Thanks to all of you that already paid your $10.00 for your NJCB 2013 dues. Those who have not paid please send your check made out to NJCB with your name, address, phone number and E-mail address and send it to

NJCB, Robert Lucas, Treasurer
520 Ewingville Road
Ewing, NJ 08638.

Also include your media choice (LP, cassette or E-mail) and whether you are fully sighted or visually impaired. Thank you in advance. Bob Lucas

Ask Ottilie

One of the hardest things after losing vision is asking for help. Some of us apologize too much for our bothering people and others are bossy and insist that our needs be put first. Both of these approaches will not get others to want to help us. In order to have a friend, we have to be a friend or to be friendly. We could say, "When you have time, could you read this letter to me". Often we interrupt someone's doing something and expect them to drop everything to meet our needs immediately. We who can't see do not always realize what someone is doing and do not realize that they are in the middle of something important. The better way is to ask what they are doing and ask them to let you know when they have time to help you to do a task.

It is not enjoyable to be around people who are constantly complaining or expecting everyone to know what they need before they are asked. There is no doubt that life is difficult with vision loss but we should try to look at our cup as half full and not half empty. In other words, emphasize what we have to be thankful for and not always tell how hard we have it as visually impaired people.

Transportation to doctors' offices, shopping, church, events, etc. is difficult for us. Try to find different people to meet these specific needs and not depend on the same person to transport you to everything. If others are going to a meeting, ask them if they could pick you up. If someone goes to the same beauty parlor or barber shop as you, ask them if you can tag along and that you will take them out for coffee on the way home. Remember that you do not have the cost of a car including insurance, repairs and gasoline. Some people will not accept a monetary sign of appreciation but a lunch or gift card may be appreciated. At least try. They can say "No thank you" but do not take their kindness for granted. We always need assistance in one way or another. Everyone does. No one is totally independent. There is no shame in needing help. We do appreciate others' acts of kindness. Let's be sure to show how much we appreciate them.

Note-Ottilie Lucas is a retired rehab teacher who worked for the NJ Commission for the Blind for over 27 years.


NJCB has had 3 Perkins Braillewriters donated to us. We have sold 2 and have only one remaining. Richard Heigh, a certified Braille Repairman and NJCB member, has cleaned and repaired them at a much reduced price. The remaining writer is for sale for $250.00 and is in very good condition. They cost about $650 new. Contact Robert Lucas, Treasurer of NJCB, with any questions or to order at:
(609) 882-2446 Home
(609) 638-4232 Cell
520 Ewingville Road
Ewing, NJ 08638
zcpabob@verizon.net E-mail

This is a great buy. Share this opportunity with your friends who are looking for a dependable Perkins Braille Writer.

Transportation Security Administration Update

Taken from Matilda Ziegler Magazine for the Blind, Special Notices and Pen Pals Supplement, September 24, 2012

Travelers may call TSA Cares toll free at 1-855-787-2227 prior to traveling with questions about screening policies, procedures and what to expect at the security checkpoint.

The hours of operation for the TSA Cares helpline are Monday through Friday 9 a.m. - 9 p.m. EST, excluding federal holidays. After hours, travelers can find information about traveling with disabilities and medical needs on TSA's website at: http://www.tsa.gov/traveler-information/travelers-disabilities-and-medical-conditions

When a passenger with a disability or medical condition calls TSA Cares, a representative will provide assistance, either with information about screening that is relevant to the passenger's specific disability or medical condition, or the passenger may be referred to disability experts at TSA. TSA recommends that passengers call approximately 72 hours ahead of travel so that TSA Cares has the opportunity to coordinate checkpoint support with a TSA Customer Service Manager located at the airport when necessary.


Updated Braille & Large Print Menus at Red Lobster Restaurants. Red Lobster wants you to know they care, no matter whether you can see or not. All of the nearly 700 Red Lobster restaurants in the United States are handing out new updated Braille and large print menus to guests who request one at their host-stand. So if you're someone who loves seafood but can't see food, Red Lobster is the place to need to go.

Science Sense Tours in New York City. Science Sense tours are available to individuals or groups. Space is limited and advance registration is required. Programs may be subject to change.

For additional information or to register for a Science Sense tour, please call (212)313-7565 or emailaccessibility@amnh.org

Chapter Reports

Garden State Guide Dog Users. The Curley's graciously hosted our winter meeting on December 7th at their home. The topics of discussions were: accessible roundabouts, GDUI's reorganization and the layoffs at The Seeing Eye. Vickie sent us conference call information for us to listen in on the GDUI Board meeting. The Board is working hard to resolve several problems. Seeing Eye has laid off several regional instructors as well as an outreach person and counselor. A group of concerned graduates are attempting to meet with the Seeing Eye Board of Trustees to find out what can be done to help this loss and prevent further problems. The Curleys will attend a Top Dog Conference in Savannah, Georgia in mid-January. Vickie will report back on this conference. We will have a special conference call on Wednesday, January 23rd at 7 PM to follow up on these matters.

Call in number: (712) 432-0180
Access Code: 425-373#

The next regular March conference call will be scheduled on this conference call. We all hope that your holidays were full of blessings and we wish you a Healthy and Joyous New Year.

Mercer County Association of the Blind. We had our biennial election of new officers at our November meeting. The new officers are: Ottilie Lucas, President; Lauren Casey, Vice President; Susan Yochim, Recording Secretary; Marcia Morgan, Corresponding Secretary and Larry Morgan, Treasurer. We thank Bob Rindt for his capable service for the past term and ask for everyone's prayers for him in this time of illness. The members of MCAB have had a busy fall with a birthday party for the members whose birthdays are during the months of September through December. We had over 20 participants at the Lucas' home enjoying baked ziti and chicken pot pie and other goodies. We are looking forward to another birthday dinner for those whose birthdays are during the months of January through April. About 40 of us enjoyed a Christmas Party at Tessara's in Hamilton Township on December 8th. Great food and festivities were enjoyed by all. Santa Eberle again added to our fun with his jolly humor. We are looking forward to hosting the next quarterly NJCB meeting on January 26, 2013 in Ewing. Check for further details in the meeting notice at the beginning of this issue.

Twenty-seven of us have signed up to go to The Hunterdon Hills Playhouse to see "Butterflies are Free" on April 6th. We always enjoy the dinner and show. We hope that your holidays were enjoyable and that our winter weather permits us to get together at our upcoming meetings. Ottilie Lucas, President

New Jersey Blind Citizens Association. The NJBCA was present at Middletown Day the end of September and was able to distribute pamphlets and information to a number of people in attendance. We were also able to sell a few of the items we brought from the Thrift Shop. Several of our Day Camp attendees were able to pitch in for a few hours. It was a beautiful day with lots of sunshine.

We then held our First Annual Auto & Motorcycle Show on Saturday, October 13th at the Middletown Shopping Center. This show was previously held by the Middletown Lions to benefit the NJBCA. Again, we were able to get some exposure to the public and had a fun time which included a DJ who brought Mickey and Minnie Mouse with him. The kids in attendance (including some adults!) were absolutely thrilled at their appearance.

The following day was the Johnny T benefit concert at the Red Oak Diner. It was a wonderful evening of Doo Wop music and a great fundraiser for the NJBCA. In case you missed this fantastic evening of music and fun, we plan on having more of these concerts next year. It was a great concert for a great cause. Thank you Johnny T for your generous donation of time and talent to our organization.

Thank you to all the individuals who donated food items, cash and desserts for our Spaghetti Dinner Fundraiser that was held on Saturday, October 20th. Also thank you to all the attendees and individuals ordering take out dinners that evening. Due to everyone's support, we had a very successful fundraising event.

We also want to thank the people who volunteered that evening: NJ Natural Gas (Grace Rosner, Linda Strang, Lori Backer, Mike Yamrus and Anna Czugh), Kathy DeVito, Clay Pratt, Dottie Lee, Stacey Stefanski, and Mary Graham. They all did a fantastic job and our event would not have been as successful without their help. Thank you all!

Mark Your Calendar

Saturday, January 26, 2013. The quarterly meeting of NJCB will be held at the Trinity United Methodist Church in Ewing. See Meeting Notice for more details.

Saturday, April 27, 2013. The quarterly meeting of NJCB will be held at the Trinity United Methodist Church hosted by The Garden State Guide Dog Users. More details and directions will be in the April issue of the NJCB Chronicle.

Saturday, July 27, 2013. The quarterly meeting of NJCB will be held at Camp Happiness in Leonardo, NJ hosted by NJ Blind Citizens Association. More details and directions will be in the July issue of the NJCB Chronicle.

Saturday, October 26, 2013. The quarterly meeting of NJCB will be held at Grace Lutheran Church in Perth Amboy hosted by the Members at Large. More details and directions will be in the October 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.