of the

San Mateo County Council of the Blind


May 2001 Vol. 2 No. 4


President's Message

by Frank Welte

As spring takes hold I am changing as well, from ski enthusiast to advocate for the blind. As I write this message, I am preparing to visit our state legislature in Sacramento where I will take part in the CCB's spring convention. I'll visit Assemblyman Joe Simitian, State Senator Byron Sher, the offices of State Senator Jackie Speier and Assemblyman Louis Papan. Since they represent San Mateo County, I will be talking to their staff members about bills of importance to the blind community in our county. SMCCB members, Terry Stoker, Jean Ackerman, and perhaps others also will visit the legislature.

I wrote the following letter to State Senator John Burton, the author of

Senate Bill 105–The Commission for the Blind Bill. Due to budget confusion over the energy crisis this bill has been held over until next year. It is urgent that you contact Senator Burton and your local state representatives. While the bill may be held over to next year I hope it will receive strong support when it is brought before the legislature.

Thanks to Pui and Wai Chan, Phil Kutner, and Bill Hobson, who staffed the SMCCB table at two events this month at the College of San Mateo’s Health Fair on April 3 and 4, and The Volunteer Fair on April 18. This is one example of the numerous ways in which individual SMCCB members are reaching out in service to the local community. Activities such as these help us build our local blind community by publicizing SMCCB to our friends and neighbors. With over 30 members our chapter is building the foundation for a vibrant blind community in San Mateo County. Re could double the size of our membership this year!

Our next meeting will be on Saturday, May 5. Assoc. Prof. Carolyn Fiori, at the High Tech Center of the College of San Mateo, will tell us of the technologies and services available at CSM to help disabled students succeed. Several SMCCB members are enrolled at the college. Is it time for you to pick up your old book bag and head back to school? We hope this month's speaker will help you make that decision. We'll also hear about our trip at the state capitol and at the CCB convention in Sacramento.

Don't forget that we meet on the first Saturday of each month. Due to a

schedule conflict our May meeting will begin at 11:15 AM. at the B of A at El Camino Real and 3rd Ave. in San Mateo. Feel free to call me for further info.

Frank Welte, SMCCB President


[email protected]

Assistive Technology for the Blind and Visually Impaired

at the College of San Mateo (CSM)

CSM is a facility of which we should all be cognizant. For the advent of computer-aided programs, the funds and staff to fulfill the commitment to educate the disabled, no one needs to be left out of the Information Age.

This article was gleaned from an interview with Associate Professor Carolyn Fiori. She has a masters degree in communicative disorders from San Francisco State University and will be the speaker at the next meeting of our chapter Saturday, May 5th, 2001.

Prof. Fiori stated that the sequence a new student should use is to first visit the campus and speak with a counselor to learn a little about what programs are available and what assistance can be given. This starts at the Disability Resource Center, which can be reached at (650)-574-6438.

The intake process starts with a verification of your condition by a doctor, or rehab counselor. Counseling of the course programs and the accommodations needed follows this. These accommodations that are available include enlarging services, providing a note-taker, taping of lectures, and the liaison with the faculty member.

One must have orientation and mobility training depending on the degree of sight loss. The college does not offer this service; however, there are organizations in the community that can be utilized, namely the Peninsula Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired in Palo Alto. Prof. Fiori becomes involved when one starts to learn the vision aids. This work is done in Building 16, room 151 which is a small teaching lab, that also has two scanning stations.

In learning to use the computer to its fullest potential one must develop a level of keyboarding-skills. Here again outside assistance is available both from the Peninsula Center and also from the Hadley School for the Blind.

Before discussing the particulars, Prof. Fiori listed the five modules of DSKL 817, which comprise the core of the program. They are:

• Screen Reader

• Screen Magnification

• Voice Recognition

• Keyboard Access

• General Computer Access

At this point one is now ready to learn the computer programs, which can permit the utilization of the computer. The programs taught here are Jaws for the blind and ZoomText for the visually impaired. Neither one at this time can be run on a Macintosh. These two programs can run within Windows 98, Excel, MS Word, and Explorer.

The aim of this training is to prepare the student for regular classes at the college. One of the problems has been relates to the instructors not knowing how to assist in accessing the aids. Here is where Prof. Fiori steps in to act as a wonderful resource. She also stated that there are Braille facilities and that Skyline College is also instituting a like program–so contact the college!

College of San Mateo Health Fair

For the first time SMCCB ran a booth at a Health Fair. It was a wonderful experience and involved participation of Bill Hobson, Phil Kutner and Carolyn Fiori who is their Assistive Technology Instructor. They handled the booth 10-2 and 5-7 pm Tuesday, April 3. The next day Frank Welte, Pui Chan and Susan, teacher’s assistant handled the booth.

The exhibit and demonstrations included a slide show on the Disability Resource Center at the college. There were demonstrations by Bill on Guide Dogs and orientation and mobility using the white cane. Finally Frank showed Braille production with a slate and stylus.

The entire table was covered with handout materials from the Lighthouse International, Guide Dogs for the Blind and SMCCB publications. CSM Disabled Student Program services had handouts. Our Chapter had copies of the latest Bulletin, our newsletter, membership applications, and our mission statement.

Braille Fortune Cookies

You can have plain or chocolate dipped. Cookies with customize sayings. They also have GIANT Fortune cookies that have messages in Large Print and Braille. The Giant cookies are about 4X5X3 and are individually gift packed in corsage boxes. Special holiday baskets are available. Contact:

Lucky Touch Fortune Cookie Company

California School for the Blind

500 Walnut Ave.

Fremont, CA 94536

Attn: Judith Lesner

or call (510) 794-3800 xt 300

e-mail: [email protected]

From Colorado

Our site was designed and coded by Ted Nicholas, a professional graphics artist who is legally blind. He designed our 3-D logo for the SIXTH SENSE. We at ACBC are grateful to Ted for sharing his talent, skills, and time.

I saw your web site, and I'm impressed! It’s informative and easy-to-navigate site. If you find anything in the SIXTH SENSE that you'd like to share, feel free to use it. May I do the same with your information?

We are working on a project that will involve the members of ACBC, the Lions, and the foster care parents and kids.

Sandy McAviney, Editor

Talking Signs

Caltrain has made it easier for the visually impaired to navigate its main San Francisco station at 4th and King Streets. It has Talking Signs, a wayfinding technology that helps identify the main features of the station like the correct track, ticket office and restrooms.

Transmitters are installed in the station to identify these features. A receiver hears the messages. They say key words when the receiver is pointed in the direction of the feature. The message gets louder as the customer nears the landmark.

Caltrain has receivers for rent for a $25 refundable deposit. They are available at the ticket office at the 4th and King station. Call Caltrain’s Accessible Transit Services at 650-508-6202, work at other buildings and key locations in San Francisco--main library, City Hall & Powell BART/Muni station.

Your San Mateo County Council of the Blind in Action This Month

This is the second month in which we talk about your chapter in action during the past month. A dynamic chapter is the result of vibrant members at work, at play, in school and involved in service to the community--from church leadership, to editor, to President of a national group.

One way of outreach to the community is through exhibiting and having booths at fairs. Both of the ones we were at this month were at the San Mateo Community College. First was the two-day Health Fair and then the Volunteer Fair. In the latter we were one of 56 non-profit organizations telling the college and community about vision loss. The next fair will be in conjunction with the Wellness Center of the Mills/ Peninsula Hospitals. It will be May the 20th and the theme is Grandparents as Caretakers.

Having attended the forum at the Lions Center in San Jose to bring attention to the need of a commission to replace the system of control by the Rehab Dept., we followed this up by meeting with our state representatives in Sacramento just prior to the state convention.

Our web site is the second of only two of the 43 chapters of the CCB. It is already being linked by other organizations as we are beginning to be recognized.

Five members are continuing their education at the San Mateo Community College with heavy emphasis in Assistive Technology--especially using computer- aided devices. It was the first time that the Bulletin went out in formats other than hardcopy.

The Bulletin
San Mateo
Council for the Blind

Phil Kutner: Editor
1128 Tanglewood Way,
San Mateo, CA 94403


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