of the

San Mateo County Council of the Blind


April 2001 Vol. 2 No. 3


President's Message

by Frank Welte

Jack Donnellan, a member of our SMCCB, is an adaptive technology vendor. During our monthly meeting on April 7 he will tell us about his exciting products. Jack will attend the big Technology for People with Disabilities Conference this month in Los Angeles, and give us the latest news and gossip on new and improved products for vision impaired people. Be sure to come and hear him.

At our February meeting we discussed having a "Virtual Tea Party". Rather than ask folks to attend a fundraising dinner we’ll allow them to participate at their leisure. We'll send complimentary tea bags to our friends and associates along with a cover letter inviting them to give financial support. You can help at our April meeting by bringing a list of names and addresses of people to whom we can send these packets.

Thanks to those of you who participated in our candy sale in March. It appears that "World's Finest Chocolate" is easy to sell, and this may prove to be a great revenue source for the chapter for years to come. Fundraising is a chore, but the money we receive from this effort will allow us to do more to help our vision impaired neighbors in San Mateo county. I found a remarkably easy way to sell candy. I took a couple dozen bars with me to the Sierra Regional Ski For Light event. Hungry cross-country skiers make willing candy buyers! The skiing was great, too. The weather was marvelous, and the 24 blind and vision impaired skiers, the 31 guides who skied with us, and the other participants had a great time. In addition to myself, SMCCB members Pui and Wai Chan and Margie Donovan all got out on the snow. Pui, a first-time skier, took to the sport like a duck takes to water. I hope his sore muscles have recovered in time for our SMCCB meeting. Wai tried out snow shoes for the first time, and enjoyed this activity. I was pleased that Margie had recovered from last fall's knee surgery, and joined us on the ski trails.

The spring convention of the California Council of the Blind is nearing. If you need a convention registration packet, call the CCB office at (800)221-6359.

Don't forget that we meet on the first Saturday of each month. Due to a schedule conflict our April and May meetings will begin at 11:15 A.M. at the Bank of America at El Camino Real and 3rd Avenue in San Mateo. Feel free to call me for further information.

Frank Welte, SMCCB President


[email protected]


The story begins with A.P. Giannini early in San Francisco. The bottom portion of this mural depicts his stepfather’s produce firm. It was here that A.P. showed his business genius. He had contributed significantly to making the firm the largest commission house in California.

Moving upward the second phase of the story shows the original Bank of Italy building in San Francisco. A.P.’s new bank was established here in 1904. Bank of America with over 800 branches in California and offices around the world is proof of A.P.'s then-controversial belief.

The top segment of this mosaic symbolizes the early growth of B of A. When tragedy struck San Francisco in 1906, A.P. loaded his bank's records and cash into a wagon and took them to his home in San Mateo, for the bank's offices were in ruins. A.P. opened temporary quarters, and loans were made for rebuilding. The Bank of Italy grew by leaps and bounds.

This mural represents California's agriculture and industries. The bank was the first to finance small merchants and businessmen in California, the first to finance small farmers, the first to finance the motion pictures. In WW II, it financed the war-time industries and shipbuilding – which sprang up in California. Today B of A is a major backer of the electronic, R and D, and other space-age industries.

Surrounding the doorway is this mural bearing a written tribute to A. P. The illustration depicts where A. P. lived and worked: "Seven Oaks" in San Mateo and San Francisco. From these two locations he traveled to study the newest concepts in banking, and to make B of A the most famous and largest privately-owned banking institution in the world.

This bright panel represents the world-wide scope of Bank of America. The International Banking Department in San Francisco is the hub of a network which provides "on-the-spot" banking services for customers from California to Kuala Lumpur, from Buenos Aires to Bangkok. The costumes, cultures, industries, and other international features represent the nations around the world in which Bank of America's branches, representative office, and foreign affiliates, are located.

Finally there is a mosaic tribute to the young people of California. A.P. started B of A’s Savings Program in 1911. Since then the Bank offered Achievement Awards for high school seniors, Junior College Business Awards, and other vocational, educational, and honor programs. A.P. helped to establish the Giannini Foundation of Agricultural Economics. It helps finance agricultural experiments at UC Davis and has influenced agricultural education, research, and practice around the world.

These murals were designed by Louis Macouillard. His reproductions were in Holiday and Life magazines. Alphonso Purdinas of Byzantine Mosaics made the murals in glass mosaic. Architects were Miller & Steiner, San Mateo, and Wurster, Bernardi & Emmons. Interior design consultant was Maurice Sands.

The "Seven Oaks Room" in the A.P. Giannini Branch has a portrait of Giannini by Alfred Jonniaux.


Have you wished that you could watch a TV show or movie and knew exactly what was going on? Well, thanks to an organization called Descriptive Video Service, many of your favorite PBS television programs, and some Turner Classic Movies on cable, can be enjoyed with audio description. If you want, other movies on video can be bought or borrowed with description added.

How is this done? Trained "describers" speak, on a second audio track, in between the dialogue of a show or movie. All the original words and sounds are still there. But at the same time, you hear the narrator's voice from time to time, telling you such things as, "They move into the living room, " or, "Two years later, we see the outside of a gray house in the middle of a field."

Finally, a way exists to watch TV without asking your companions, "What happened?" You know just as much about the action as the sighted person sitting next to you.

DVS has been around for about 10 years. Their headquarters are in Boston, although they've recently opened a studio in Los Angeles. Examples of programs they currently describe are PBS's "Mystery," "Masterpiece Theater," "Nature," and "The American Experience." The toll-free telephone number for more information is:

1-800-333-1203. Their website is at

You can subscribe to their free newsletter, the DVS Guide, which comes out quarterly and gives much information about each of the areas. It includes a list of episodes coming up (by program) that will be described, and when they are expected to air.

Here's a brief description of how to receive DVS on your own TV or VCR. There are three ways to receive DVS. If you have either a stereo TV or a VCR with the "Second Audio Program" feature, you don't need anything else. Just follow your manufacturer's instructions on how to allow your set to receive the "Second Audio Program." On my TV, this is done with a button on the remote control that rotates between stereo, mono, and SAP settings. Most VCRs also have the Second Audio Program ability; again, it may require some button-pressing, but the results are worth it!

If your TV or VCR doesn't have the SAP feature, there are three specialty companies that make and sell stand-alone receivers that pick up the SAP signal. These are: Compol, Inc., 1-800-972-0881; Avocet Instruments, Inc., 1-800-443-0728; and FM Atlas, 1-218-8797676. We purchased ours from FM Atlas and keep it in the kitchen, where we use it both as a regular radio and as a DVS receiver.

One of our members mentioned that the Redwood City Public Library has described videos available to borrow; other libraries may have some, too. A catalog of described videos is available from DVS by calling 1-800-333-1203

Happy listening--and viewing--to everyone!

--Submitted by Linda Alviti



Dr. Leslie Weill, whose practice is in San Carlos, was our guest speaker at the March meeting. She is a practicing ophthalmologist and gave a thorough explanation of the main conditions causing blindness. In addition her excellent discussion of some of the cutting-edge research on vision was exciting. This was followed by a stimulating Q & Ar period.

The new web site is being picked up by several of the major search engines. If you haven’t seen it, take a look, you’ll like it.

We are developing a large database on hobbies and recreational activities. It will be followed by explanations on how the blind and visual impaired participate. If you are interested on working on this project let us know.

On April 3-4 our chapter will sponsor a booth at the S.M. Community College Fair. We have an exhibit and demos. Each day there also will be a college instructor at our booth explaining the program of Adaptive Technology. Bill Hobson and Phil Kutner are taking the course. Frank Welte will do a demo on Braille. Bill will show routines with his guide dog, Jimmy. Also assisting, will be Pui and Wai Chan. It is one of the programs of our expanding Speaker’s Bureau.

Arthur Kerderman is our newest member, and lives in the Regents, two blocks from our B of A meetings. He was in WWII and has a remarkable collection of photos taken of the last days of the War. He is looking for someone to help him get it ready for publication.


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