of the

San Mateo County Council of the Blind


June 2001 Vol. 2 No. 5


President's Message

by Frank Welte

Video magnifiers, also called closed-circuit televisions, are a significant segment of the assistive technology marketplace. This is especially so for those of us who are new to vision loss. I recall a time not so long ago when one could find these machines essentially in two forms. There were the ones with big monitors and separate cameras that looked like something the astronauts might have taken with them to the moon. Then there were small ones that looked like black-and-white portable television sets with a stand underneath where one placed material to read.

Color models were still just a gleam in some engineer's eye. Now, the marketplace is crowded with products of many types and prices from numerous manufacturers. These range from inexpensive hand-held cameras that you hook to your television to large, color units that permit you to look at just about any document from newspaper print and pictures to the information on your computer screen.

James McCarthy, who will be our San Mateo County Council of the Blind June meeting speaker, represents Freedom Vision, a local producer of video magnifiers. He will be showing us some of the unique items in the Freedom Vision product line. I enjoyed checking out these gadgets at the CCB state convention last month in Sacramento. I think you'll enjoy them too. I bet your friends would be interested as well. So invite one or two to join you at the meeting.

During our May meeting several of our members expressed an interest in blind bowling. Please call me if you're interested in participating in a bowling league or in some other regular bowling outings here on the peninsula.

Don't forget that we meet on the first Saturday of each month at 10:30 AM. 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]

Blind Agriculture & Equestrian Group Plans for Philadelphia 2001

From: "Fred's Desktop#5" <[email protected]>

The following is a re-post/revision of our blurb in this month's Braille Monitor. Read the whole thing at Attend the convention in Philadelphia. It's the NFB's 61st annual convention. Feel free to pass it on.

Agriculture & Equestrian Interest Group

Expanding on our popular Ramsay Thoroughbred Ranch tour in Atlanta, our plan for Philadelphia is for horses and more horses. Beginning on Sunday with miniatures, then on Thursday we'll meet powerhouse draft horses. On Sunday, July 1st, we'll attend the National Association of Guide Dog Users NAGDU 7-10pm. The Guide Horse Foundation will be the top item on the agenda. Bring questions for a spirited discussion of this miniature equine mobility tool. Find out more about horse guides by visiting:

Meeting, Tuesday 7pm July 3rd. Hear farm advisors from the AgrAbility project. Learn of resources we can tap for a career in food and animal production. Find out more about AgrAbility and Breaking New Ground at

Tour: Our Philadelphia Agriculture & Equestrian tour is on Thursday, July 5th, 1-6pm. With the help of the 76 Carriage Company, we go to 3 sites. Leave the Marriott at 1pm. First stop is the home of the 76 Carriage Co.. Learn of this humane and efficient urban draft horse operation. Next stop the Monastery Stables. You can ride in Fairmount Park. Others will explore nearby gardens. Then at the Manayunk Brewery the brewmaster, Jim Brennan, provides a tour. Cost: $25, includes transportation, refreshments, and gratuities. Horseback riders, dress appropriately. Bring an additional $17.


Call, write, Braille or email for reservations to Mon, June 18. Contact Agriculture & Equestrian Interest Group. For info, & finding roommates.

President, Trainer & Riding Instructor, Diane Starrin, Phone: 530-223-9084 1042 Hawthorne St., Redding, CA 9602

Tour Organizer & Aquaculturist, Fred Chambers, Phone: 760-505-8500

[email protected]

Research Study Looking for Volunteers

acb-l Message from Terri Lynne Pomeroy <[email protected]>

This pertains to an Epidemiology Study of Macular Degeneration at Vanderbilt University and Duke University. You must meet the following criteria, For additional information, call Molly Hogan at: 615-322-0832 or 1-888-717-4319.


• diagnosed with AMD (wet or dry)

• over the age of 55

• has at least one sibling with AMD who can participate in the study

(arrangements will be made for people who live outside of Nashville, TN)

Participants must provide family information, a blood sample, and an eye exam. Arrangements can be made for eye exams with your ophthalmologist.

MS Drug Combats Blindness

Message from "Barry J Campbell" <[email protected]>

Glaucoma is the most common cause of blindness. A drug developed to treat multiple sclerosis may prove to be an effective treatment for one of the most common causes of blindness. A team from the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel used the drug to block loss of eyesight in animals with a disease like the human condition glaucoma. The finding suggests that the drug, Copaxone, may also stop, or at least slow down, the loss of eyesight in people who have a chronic form of the disease.

The majority of patients with chronic glaucoma have increased pressure inside the eye due to defective drainage of the transparent fluid that bathes the eye and nourishes its outer cells. We know that eye pressure is an important factor in glaucoma, but not the only one. So any other effective approach would be welcome Keith Barton, Moorfields Eye Hospital The increase in this intraocular pressure (IOP) damages the optic nerve, causing it to degenerate and often leading to loss of eyesight. For many years, the search for improved glaucoma therapies focused on correcting the eye's drainage system to reduce IOP. Eventually, however, it became clear that reducing the pressure was not enough to halt the ongoing degeneration of the optic nerve and did not eliminate the risk of blindness.

Secondary damage

Professor Michael Schwartz, from the Weizmann Institute, discovered that the initial damage to the nerve triggers the release of chemicals that cause further damage. These chemicals play an important role in keeping the eye healthy, but when the optic nerve starts to degenerate they are released in higher, toxic quantities. One of these chemicals is the neurotransmitter glutamate, which spills from damaged nerve cells and adversely affects healthy neighboring cells. However, Professor Schwartz and her team found that Copaxone was apparently able to shield the nerve from the toxic effects of glutamate. In rats immunised with Copaxone only about 4% of nerve cells died in the glaucoma-affected eye, compared with 28% in rats that were not immunized.

Human trials expected soon

Trials of the drug in human patients with glaucoma are expected to soon. Keith Barton, a consultant ophthalmologist in the glaucoma service at Moorfields Eye Hospital in London, said the study sounded "very exciting". He told BBC News Online: "At the moment there is only one type of Treatment for glaucoma and that is to reduce the pressure in the eye. "We know that eye pressure is an important factor in glaucoma, but not the only one so any other effective approach would be welcome." However, Mr Barton warned that the research was at a very early stage and is often difficult to draw conclusions on the back of studies on rats. Mr Barton estimated that around 7% of glaucoma patients do not respond to current treatments.

The research was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of

Sciences USA.


ACB-L is maintained and brought to you as a service of the ACB.

Your San Mateo County Council of the Blind

In Action This Month

This is the third 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. Members who have participated include; Pui and Wai Chan, Bill Hobson, Frank Welte, Jeff Taylor and Phil Kutner.

One way of outreach to the community is by exhibiting and at booths at fairs. Last month there wee two held at The College of San Mateo. Again this month we participated in two fairs. Both were held on Sunday, May 20. The first was in conjunction with the Wellness Center of the Mills/Peninsula Hospitals. The theme was Grandparents as Caretakers. It seems that there is an increasing number of children moving home after divorces, etc. With the aging process and the partial loss of the sensing abilities it creates an additional burden on theses seniors.

Battling the crowds for the Bay to Breakers Race across San Francisco was the prelude to the other event. Here was a presentation on a panel at the Healthy Futures Forum & Fair presented by the Montefiore Senior Center, Entitled New Beginnings

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

Five members are continuing their education at The College of San Mateo with heavy emphasis in Assistive Technology--especially using computer- aided devices. It was the first time that our Bulletin went out in formats other than hardcopy. Are you getting it the way you want it.

Go to Top

Go to Homepage