of the

San Mateo County Council of the Blind


September 2001 Vol. 2 No. 6


President Frank Welte's Message:
Let's Speak Out on Transportation

Members of SMCCB have dealt with transportation issues in the past. At our next meeting on September 8, we'll have the opportunity to give our input to our county government about the future of transportation in San Mateo County. During the meeting Katy Rhoades and SMCCB member, Gerda Cohen will lead us in a focus group discussion on the future of transportation in our area.

Ideas collected from this meeting and similar meetings with other community groups will be included in a report that will finally guide government officials as they plan future transportation policies. Come join us, and let your voice definitely be heard on this important topic. Our meetings begin at 11:30 A.M., an hour later than prior meetings.

Three cheers, and more, go out to Jean Ackerman, Bill and Ellie Hobson, Phil Kutner, and those others who put together our August picnic on short notice and made it a gathering to remember. We met at Twin Pines Park on Ralston Avenue in Belmont, just a block from El Camino Real, and we shared plenty of great food, friendly conversation, and many competitive bingo games. I was delighted to see so many of you on hand for the festivities, especially those of you who were new to our group. Given the positive reaction of the participants I expect that our picnic will become an annual tradition for SMCCB.

Remember that we meet each month (usually it is on the first Saturday) at 11:30 A.M. at the Bank of America branch on the corner of El Camino Real and 3rd Avenue in downtown San Mateo. I look forward to hearing from you. You can reach me by calling 650-508-8329 or sending e-mail to [email protected].

Helen Gotinco Moves to Antioch

I cannot make it to the meeting for I have moved to a beautiful home in Antioch. I will miss all of you. Please extend my greetings to other members, and keep me on your mailing list. I still want to know your news.

Updated Information on Caltrain and SamTrans
One-Dollar On-Board Ticket Surcharge Returns to Caltrain

Effective as of Sunday, August 5, the one-dollar surcharge for not buying tickets at stations prior to boarding the train went back into force.

Caltrain had waived the fare surcharge during the introductory phase of Ticket Vending Machines, which are now in operation system-wide.

Customers should be sure to buy tickets through the mail or at a station — whether from a ticket clerk or a TVM machine — before boarding the train, or else will be subject to an extra one-dollar charge.

The Ticket Vending Machines are accessible to people who have disabilities. They include an audio button, and Braille and tactile materials on the face of the machine to guide you through the transaction.

If your disability makes it too difficult to use the ticket vending machines, advise the conductor when and the conductor will waive the one-dollar surcharge. The surcharge is intended to help free up time for conductors to spend on other operational and passenger assistance duties on the train.

SamTrans Telephone Operators Describe Routes
for the Visually Impaired

If you are in need of SamTrans bus information and would like to have a general description of the route you intend to use, the SamTrans Customer Service Center will be glad to assist you in getting this information.

Just call the toll-free number 1-800-660-4287 and tell the Customer Service Center representative your starting point and final destination. They will determine the best SamTrans route for you to use. In addition if you would like to have a general description of the route as well, inform the representative that you are visually impaired and that you would like them to describe the route for you. They will give you a brief verbal description of the route, using the route map that is on the printed schedule. These bits of information are intended to empower you on Caltrain and SamTrans.

My Visit to Enchanted Hills Camp
By William Hobson

This 350 acre camp is owned by Rose Resnick for the visually impaired and blind. It is located in Napa, in a wooded area. It is especially rigged for visually impaired with ropes to guide you on the paths. There are guides if you want need.

First Day

The ride started from Palo Alto Veteran's Administration Hospital on the great and beautiful highway 280. We linked up to 19th Avenue in San Francisco, and then over the Golden Gate Bridge to Marin County and toward Napa. We arrived at a burned grass field in the afternoon while the sound of birds was everywhere. The smell of the pine trees and the various plants made you feel you were hundreds of miles from anywhere.

The welcome staff greeted and offered us cold water. It was a welcome relief from the long drive from Palo Alto. They checked us in and asked what medicines we were taking. They made sure that we would enjoy ourselves.

We had comfortable cabins. Lunch was ready at the dining hall. At 1 P.M. a bell was rung to tell us lunch was being served. The first order on the program was to assign a counselor to us all. This counselor would be available to us for the complete stay. He or she would answer questions and be with us on all outings to make sure we knew where we were. These counselors even would make sure you had your lunch and all you wanted.

We had horse back riding, basketball courts, boating, fishing, nature hikes, golf practice, camp fires, swimming and even gambling one night. My favorites were the nature walks. A person who lived on the property gave the tour.

Horses–There was a horse corral with many available horses. The counselors are experienced in helping you ride.

• Lake–There is a lake in the center of the property. The man-made lake was put there for safety of all the campers. There are rowboats and paddleboats.

• Fishing–The lake is stocked with catfish. A catch and release program is enforced so all had a chance to catch fish.

• Bowling–We had a one-lane bowling alley with the pins set up manually.

Swimming pool–The camp has a very large swimming pool for all the guests.

• Golf–There are clear areas to practice golf and hit balls to your heart's content. They even have an instructor, with good advice, to help you improve your game

Campfire–The first night we had a campfire and did fun things. We met men from the different services Navy, Army, Air Force and the Marines. We talked, joked and had a great time.

Second Day

The camp put on a gambling setup that was much work for the camp staff. They had all the popular games–poker, blackjack, craps, keno, the money wheel and all of it was free. You played with tickets. The person with the most tickets won the grand prize–a talking compass.

Third Day

The experience was great. There was a bond in our group. Our visit counselor (The one who informs us of our GI benefits) was here for support. The trip home went too quickly. We look forward to camp next year.

Telephone Aids for the Blind and Visually Impaired
By Pui Chan

Telephones with special features, such as large blocks and Braille, can make life easier for blind or visually impaired persons making phone calls. They are available on loan from the California Telephone Access Program (CTAP). For application call 1-800-806-1191.

An easier way to find a phone number is to call 411, whose service is not free of charge. Free 411 service is available to those certified to be legally blind. Those having such a need also should contact CTAP, which will arrange to have the applicant certified and referred to Pac Bell for approval.

It is no fun for a sighted person to look for a pay phone when in a hurry. What can a blind or visually impaired person do when he or she is on an unfamiliar street waiting for a long-delayed pick-up? A mobile phone is something that money cannot buy. So it is advisable always to keep one handy.

Phil Kutner, Editor

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