2024 July - August White Cane Bulletin

* The below online The White Cane Bulletin includes a Table of Contents with live links leading to the start of each article.  You may choose those links or read down the whole publication.  You may also choose to download the following formats:

MS Word small print with live Table of Contents links
MS Word large print with live Table of Contents links
Text .txt file with navigation cues to skip to articles

The White Cane Bulletin July - August 20024

Articles for the White Cane Bulletin must be submitted to Sally Benjamin no later than the 15th of the month before it is published.  Sally’s email is: editor@fcb.org.

If you do not have access to a computer and email, please find someone in your chapter to help you. We want to hear from anyone who wants to contribute to our newsletter, so if you cannot find a way to submit your article, call Sally and she will be glad to assist you.

Articles published in The White Cane Bulletin are in compliance with Public Law No. 104197, Copyright Law Amendment of 1996. This law allows authorized entities to distribute copies of previously published non-dramatic literary works in specialized formats, including Braille, audio or digital text that are exclusively for use by Blind people or those with disabilities. Any further distributing of such articles in another than a specialized format is an infringement of copyright.

Those much-needed contributions, which are Tax-deductible, can be sent to the Florida Council of the Blind Treasurer, Mark Lear, at:
P.O. BOX 214235
DAYTONA BEACH, FL 32121.

To remember the Florida Council of the Blind in your Last Will and Testament, you may include a special paragraph for that purpose in your Will or Trust. If your wishes are complex, please contact the FCB at
800-267-4448.

The FCB is a 501(c)(3) organization.

For other ways to support the Florida Council of the Blind, visit our Fundraising page found at www.fcb.org.

ARE YOU MOVING? – Sally Benjamin

If you are moving, please notify me of your new address so you will continue to receive your White Cane Bulletin. Also, if you know of anyone interested in joining FCB and who would like to receive the White Cane Bulletin and the Braille Forum, please contact me at: (850) 980-0205 or E-mail: editor@fcb.org  
***

TABLE OF CONTENTS

President’s Message by Mikey Wiseman
Convention Thanks by Kati Lear
2024 FCB Awards by Kati Lear
Reflections from Your Immediate Past-President by Sheila Young
First Time Impressions by Chantale Napier
Book Corner submitted by Sheila Young
Jottings from Jacksonville by Paul Edwards
Recipe Corner submitted by Sheila Young
Chapter News
Tech Tips by John Richards from the Technology Committee
Poetry Corner submitted by Shelley Sawyer
FCB OFFICERS, 2024 - 2026
2024 – 2026 FCB Chapter & Special Affiliate Officer Liaisons
Handy Telephone Number References
***

President’s Message by Mikey Wiseman

Hello readers of the White Cane Bulletin!
I want to start out this article by reiterating my sincerest thanks for electing me and trusting me to be the President of our beloved FCB.

It's a strange time on many levels to be assuming the presidency. Personally, I am definitely adjusting to the new normal and dealing with my mother's recovery from an unexpected illness. This has required me to assume a much more intensive role as caretaker. Professionally, the winds of change are blowing within Florida's rehabilitation services and every day seems to be a new opportunity or challenge. That affects my role working in that field!

At the Florida Council of the Blind level we are gearing up to play an important role in the upcoming national American Council of the Blind convention in Jacksonville next month.

Here are a few updates in reference to FCB.  The new Executive Committee has to take care of our priorities and we are focused on ensuring that FCB continues to thrive and grow. We have already held one Executive Committee meeting and, as many of you may know, we have held our first Presidents' meeting since the new administration was elected! Our immediate past President Sheila Young has played an integral role in the transition and will be my sounding board for the foreseeable future to keep me on track and remind me of the plethora of responsibilities and timelines I must meet. Our Executive Committee began by going over the most important priorities faced by FCB and ensuring that, organizationally, it will be smooth sailing for the immediate future. That has meant focusing on ensuring that all the responsibilities of the hosting state for the national convention are being met.

I'm very happy to announce that seven individuals will be receiving a $500 stipend in order to assist with their expenses attending the national convention and I am personally looking forward to seeing Florida well represented there.

We will be accepting any type of monetary donations, whether they be from  chapters or individuals in order to defray some of the incredible amount of expense that we have encumbered as hosts. Among the expenses we have incurred are goodie bags we need to help fill for the national convention and events we are sponsoring there.

We will be taking a look at the organization and its overall progress, including committees, committee chairs, and any adhoc committees we might need after national convention. I would strongly encourage any of you that have any specific interest in committees to reach out to me directly whether it be to participate on a committee, or to serve as chair.

I also would like to take this opportunity to let all of our members know that one of my priorities as President is to maintain an open door and to encourage dialogue. I would welcome any of you to reach out to me or to any other members of the Executive Committee with any specific issues that you would like to see the Florida Council of the Blind take on as a priority.

I look forward to seeing many of you at National and expect to hear from many of you with ideas and suggestions.
***

Convention Thanks by Kati Lear

We put FCB Convention 2024 to bed on May 19 and now we are reliving our memories of it.  On Thursday evening we enjoyed a pizza party with delicious cupcakes celebrating Carl McCoy’s 97th birthday.  On Friday and Saturday we attended programs where we gathered information and asked questions.  We spent time and money in the exhibit hall looking at products and socializing.  Our banquets were meaningful where we applauded our deserving award winners and listened to speeches given by Kolby Garrison and Scott Thornhill.  On Sunday morning, at our business meeting, we elected new officers.  Our 2024-2026 state officers are: Mikey Wiseman, President; Cassandra Jessie, First Vice President; Shelley Sawyer, Second Vice President; Elizabeth Bowden, Recording Secretary; Mark Lear, Treasurer; Sally Benjamin, Membership Secretary; and Sheila Young, Immediate Past President.

Special thanks goes out to our Jacksonville FCB Chapter for their assistance in stuffing the goodie bags, and overseeing the hospitality room.  Their assistance was instrumental in setting up for the pizza party and passing out food as well as assisting our members in the hospitality room after the banquets.

Our convention committee worked tirelessly long before and during the convention to make it successful.  Thanks to Leslie and Dan Spoone for getting sponsors and running the virtual and live FCB auction, to Wanda Stokley for locating exhibitors and setting up the exhibit hall, to Sally Benjamin for handling registration before and during the convention, to Cachet Wells for assisting with portions of the program and locating Jacksonville information, and to Mikey Wiseman who did an excellent job in hotel coordination before and during our convention.  Our convention meetings were lively and everybody had great ideas and suggestions.  Thanks again to Leslie, Dan, Wanda, Sally, Cachet, Mikey, Sheila, Mark and Cassandra for all of your assistance.

We would like to thank Rick Morin and the ACB Media team for the use of their Zoom rooms and their assistance with streaming and monitoring.  Thanks to our hosts for hosting in our Zoom rooms, you all did a great job.  Thanks to Ryan Cordell who set up the equipment in the Zoom rooms and operated the camera in the ACB Media Room.  Thanks to John Richards who operated the sound board for the audio only Zoom Room.

As you can see, it takes a village to set up and run a convention and you all did a fabulous job.  But most of all, our appreciation and gratitude goes to our members who attended the convention.  You gave us ideas, and coordinated and ran the programs. You made this convention your convention and that’s why it was so successful.  Let’s look forward to FCB Convention 2025 where we will all do this again.  We will be in Jacksonville at the same hotel from May 15-18.  See you then.   
***

2024 FCB Awards by Kati Lear

At the FCB Awards and Scholarships Banquet, the following awards were presented to talented and deserving individuals:

State Awards

  • Dolly Gamble Award: Doug Hall
  • William Farrell “Just Bill” Award: Kathryn Frizzell
  • Cooke Chapter President’s Award: Anthony Corona
  • President’s Special Awards: Paul and Patty Odham, Jim Brooks, Paul Edwards, Cachet Wells, Koni Sims, and Kati Lear

Scholarship Awards

  • Gayle M. Krause-Edwards Scholarship: James Yesel
  • Teresa Blessing Scholarship: Marisa Costello
  • Timothy Turpin Scholarship: Niklas Sergey Ham
  • Nancy Burgess-Hall Advocacy Scholarship: Z’Leah Liburd

Chapter Recognition Awards

  • Miami Beach Council of the Blind: David New
  • Pinellas Council of the Blind: Kim Batke, Jeannie Harrelson
  • Halifax Council of the Blind: Joni Boone, Michelle May
  • Greater Orlando Council of the Blind: Asli Goncer
  • Tallahassee Council of the Blind: Cheryl Pater
  • Palm Beach Council of the Blind: Jordan Thomas

Congratulations to our award and scholarships winners.  We are proud of you.
***

Reflections from Your Immediate Past-President by Sheila Young

Dear FCB Family and Friends,
As the immediate past-president, I reflect on our journey with immense gratitude. Serving as the president of such an amazing affiliate for the past six years has been an honor beyond words. The challenges we faced together not only strengthened our affiliate but also allowed me to grow personally and professionally.

Reflecting on this journey, I am reminded of the unwavering support of the Executive Committee and each member. Our bond, akin to a family, was the cornerstone of our success. It is your dedication, as members, which cements our status as one of the strongest affiliates of ACB.

Looking ahead, I am filled with optimism. Our new president is poised to lead us to new heights, and I, along with the rest of the Executive Committee, stand ready to offer our full support.

Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for the trust and camaraderie that have been the hallmark of our time together. Here's to the future, bright with promise and potential!

Sincerely,
Sheila Young
***

First Time Impressions by Chantale Napier

Hello! My name is Chantale Napier and I’m the current President of Southwest FCB. I had the privilege of attending my first FCB convention in May of 2024 where the theme was ‘So Much More in 2024’.

I met so many wonderful people at the convention, like Julian, Sally, Jason, Leslie and Dan, as well as a host of others. What I enjoyed the most about the conference was seeing other Blind and Visually Impaired individuals navigating, living, and promoting our community. They are passionate, engaging, and informative. I was very much inspired to be the best I can be and that there is more I can achieve, not just within the organization, but as a person with blindness. The only limits are the ones we place on ourselves.

Some of my takeaways from the workshops were when dealing with legislators, know what you want to accomplish, establish a relationship and be mindful. This can be applied to fund development as well as other areas of leadership.

Knowing there are resources for accessible games, such as the Braille Superstore, was exciting. The Easy Chair Yoga workshop with Leslie Spoon was fantastic. I was informed she does this via ACB media on Mondays at 4. I’ll be looking for that once I’m home.

There were so many things to partake in and I tried to visit them all. One take away while I was listening to Robert Doyle in The Town Hall was we, as in the Blind and Visually Impaired community, cannot relax our guard. We must continue to advocate for ourselves and others. Without effective and consistent advocacy we could lose what rights we’ve garnered as well as any future rights. Some would like to see us and others like us go away, but we have the right to accessible and reasonable accommodations.
As a person with blindness, I want to make a difference. Whether it’s mentoring someone, advocating, being a apart of committees, as an officer, or writing articles, I know I can do it. I was really inspired to get involved and participate. Who knows, maybe I’ll hold an office at the State level one day.
***

Book Corner submitted by Sheila Young

The Women
Kristin Hannah
Historical fiction, war stories, psychological fiction
DB118896

Women can be heroes. When twenty-year-old nursing student Frances “Frankie” McGrath hears these words, it is a revelation. Raised in the sun-drenched, idyllic world of Southern California and sheltered by her conservative parents, she has always prided herself on doing the right thing. But in 1965, the world is changing, and she suddenly dares to imagine a different future for herself. When her brother ships out to serve in Vietnam, she joins the Army Nurse Corps and follows his path. As green and inexperienced as the men sent to Vietnam to fight, Frankie is overwhelmed by the chaos and destruction of war. Each day is a gamble of life and death, hope and betrayal; friendships run deep and can be shattered in an instant. In war, she meets and becomes one of the lucky, the brave, the broken, and the lost. But war is just the beginning for Frankie and her veteran friends. The real battle lies in coming home to a changed and divided America, to angry protesters, and to a country that wants to forget Vietnam." -- Provided by publisher. Unrated. Commercial audiobook.
***

Jottings from Jacksonville by Paul Edwards

Learning to Speak for Ourselves

Virtually anyone who takes a course on the history of the disability rights movement will be told that it all started in California in the 1970s. That is a lie! Others are taught that the disability rights movement started when the National Federation of the Blind was organized in 1940. That is a lie! Both of these events were important. In fact both have made a huge difference in the lives of people who are blind everywhere. But the first organizations to work specifically on disability rights issues were created in the Midwest during the last third of the nineteenth century. Some of these groups were formed by blind people; others were created by those who worked with blind people. Many included both groups. Their importance is that they began to ask questions that led to the raising of expectations for people who were blind. The current ACB chapter in Kansas claims to have existed since the 1870s.

I think it is also arguable that the American Foundation for the Blind which started right after World War One was also a disability rights organization in that they used charitable dollars to create rules of the road for service delivery, the first talking book program and, perhaps most crucially for Florida, AFB paid Helen Keller to go around the country promoting training and recognition of the capabilities of people who are blind. Her actions certainly did much to persuade people to help folks who are blind.

It is sobering to think that the attitudes to people with disabilities that operated in this country in the 1920s was used by the Nazis to create the infrastructure that eventually led to the holocaust. Blind women were sterilized because it was believed that their genes were inferior and marriage of two people who were blind was universally discouraged. In some cases women were not even told that they were being sterilized. Of course it wasn't only people with disabilities who were considered inferior. Eugenics as it was practiced in this country ranked blonde, white, Teutonic people at the top of the list and it was all downhill from there. If you came originally from the Mediterranean area you were inferior to Scandinavian and German people. If you were a different color you were way down the list.  This was the same period that created an absolute ban on the immigration of Chinese people. It is just a little amazing to think just how much attitudes have changed in the last century.

Until the formation of the National Federation of the Blind in 1940 there really was no organization of a disability group that suggested it was interested in their rights. The NFB said that people who are blind can and should make decisions about themselves for themselves. They also suggested that blindness the disease is not nearly so much of an issue as is blindness of the rest of society about the capabilities of people who can't see. Long before the independent living movement thought of itself the NFB was working to create special tax write offs for people who are blind. They were working on creating a special level of income that would disqualify blind people from receiving Social Security Disability Insurance.
That income was and is twice what it is for other groups. Once people who are blind qualify for SSDI, they can earn almost twice as much as people with other disabilities before they lose their benefits. In several states there was a "blind pension" which the NFB supported. There was a special deduction for blindness that used to be quite large but has now shrunk to the point where it's not worth very much. Until the separation of the two organizations blindness policy was not an issue. The problem that those who left the NFB had was with the high-handed attitude of those on the Board of the NFB about governance, money and organizational practices.

When the American Council of the Blind was formed in 1961 the same notions of who blind people are were imported into our organization. We left the Federation because we disapproved of their governance not because we espoused different notions about blindness. I believe that both organizations tried to paint a picture that suggested the two groups were farther apart than they were. ACB and FCB owe a lot to the NFB! Many of our leaders came to our organization from the NFB and left the NFB poorer. The fact is that there are not a lot of people who are blind in this country. As a tiny minority, it does us no good to ask for different things either at the state or the national level. I think that both organizations are coming to be closer and closer with their demands and are probably cooperating now more than they ever have. That is a good thing! We are proud in Florida that  NFBF (the National Federation of the Blind of Florida) works hand in hand with FCB to make our state a good place for people who are blind to live.

It is difficult to know how to communicate all that is involved in the notion of disability rights in a short document. At the center of the philosophy that underpins what we do and what other people with disabilities do is the notion that it's not the medical condition we have that limits our ability. Instead we are "handicapped" by the way that society sees us, treats us and excludes us! By the end of the 1970s the organized blind movement had already carved out a number of meaningful changes at the national and state level. In Florida we were beginning to work on the "Little Randolph-Sheppard Act" which made vending facilities possible in state and private locations as well as in Federal facilities. We worked to get the agency moved to the Department of Education and for it to become a Division. We worked hard to encourage the expansion of the talking book library and supported strongly the idea that our agency needed to remain separate from the Vocational Rehabilitation agency that served people with other disabilities.

It is important to recognize and validate the work done in California and beyond starting in the 1970s By Judy Heumann and others. Their efforts have become known as the "independent living" movement. They said what the NFB and ACB had been saying for years. "nothing about us without us". People who are disabled are people first and have the right to be treated as people rather than as entities with medical conditions. The problem isn't that we are sick. Society is the issue because they are not prepared either to fully include us or to recognize that we are people who have the right and the capacity to think for ourselves. We also have the right to make choices about who we are and what we want to do! Agencies and care givers should not seek to tell us what we can or cannot do! At the heart of disability rights philosophy is also the notion that the only people we must please are ourselves! We know what we can do! We can judge our performance! This frees us to be proud of who we are and allows us to evaluate what we do based on a set of values which places our own judgments above those of the society as a whole!

The Civil Rights movement essentially ignored people with disabilities when it passed laws in the 1960s. I will speak in another article about the laws that have passed. What's important in this article is that disability rights activists by 1990 had got to the point where the Americans with Disabilities Act was passed. In 1992 the notion of consumer choice became an inherent part of the rehab system and this only happened because people with disabilities demanded the ability to choose rather than being coerced by rehab counselors. This meant that the desires of the person being served by Rehab needed to be paramount in deciding what plans to make leading to a decision about how that person would spend the rest of his or her life. Disability rights has also changed the way that society sees those of us with disabilities.

Once we got up and said we had rights, society decided we were just like all the other minorities trying to get an increasingly large piece of a pie that was getting smaller and smaller. Before we began demanding our rights we could expect and receive charity! Today we are seen as people who are not as grateful as we should be for all we get! Society believes we need to recognize that our disability by definition makes us inferior to those who do not have disabilities. They have not yet been able to put away the medical model that suggests we need to be fixed. We, on the other hand, believe that society needs to be fixed. It needs to be open to us, accessible to us and inclusive of us!

In Florida as in many states there have been efforts to build coalitions of people with disabilities. In the years after the passage of Section 504, Florida built coalitions and many statewide meetings of people with disabilities helped introduce our legislators and local governments to a united cadre of people who knew what they wanted and demanded we be heard. Local transportation, laws protecting dog guides, bills to insist braille be taught in schools and many more areas felt the effect of disabled people standing up for who we are. Florida probably has a larger disabled population than most states. Most estimates say that over twenty percent of our population has a disability. As people live longer they will end up with more disabilities which is one of the reasons why the percentage of folks with disabilities in our state is so high.  Coalitions are not happening nearly as readily now as they once did! The voice of the disability community as a whole is seldom heard now. That is sad! Part of the problem is that there is only a limited number of dollars that are available for people with disabilities. As with other minorities, there is competition among the groups to see who can persuade the government to give them the dollars even if that means other groups don't get as much. Blind people are a tiny population compared to other disabilities like folks who are developmentally disabled. This means that it's hard for us to compete for extra funds. There is still a lot that needs to be done and FCB decided this year to send folks to Tallahassee to meet with folks from the legislature just to let them know that people who are blind are out there and are important! All the consumer groups went together and that is one coalition of which we can all be proud! During this visit we shared information with legislators. Next year we expect to ask for some things we can all agree we want.

Florida's web sites are still not fully accessible in spite of our efforts!  Transportation options between cities are shrinking all the time! People with disabilities still find it much more difficult to find work than their non-disabled peers do! There is still lots for us to do!

What is important is to recognize that we have a proud history of coming together as people to make a difference in the lives of others with disabilities! Without consumer organizations people with disabilities would be much less likely to be successful! We have created a place where people can feel valued and important and where their issues matter! That is no mean feat! We know who we are! We just have to be sure the rest of society knows it too!

At least since the 1960s the Division of Blind Services operated an advisory council. For a long time the Council included representatives of various groups including Lions Clubs, agencies serving folks who are blind in local areas and parents of children with visual impairments. Those groups worked to create opportunities for people to get training in facilities that were partly funded with dollars both from the state and the Federal government. A substantial sum of money has been donated to the Division of Blind Services and is in a special fund. Periodically, those funds have been used to fund projects. Project Insight was actually funded originally with funds from this source.

Federal and state laws have been introduced that have changed the Advisory Council into the Rehab Council for the Blind which has twenty or so members and meets four times a year. FCB has had members on that council though there is currently not a currently designated member on it right now. Members are appointed by the Governor and hopefully we will have full representation soon.

A state legislator from Jacksonville named Steven Wise sponsored a law which created the Blind Services Foundation which is funded by revenue received from the sale of tags that are purchased for motor cycles. That Foundation is run by a Board of Directors and has for well over a decade been funding projects that make things better for blind people in Florida. I am currently Chair of that Foundation and, in my last article about the future, I will tell you about some of the innovative things we are doing!

Perhaps more than ever before, consumer organizations have an opportunity to be heard by the Division of Blind Services! It is the rest of state government that we are having a hard time persuading to listen to us! We have shaped services for the blind in this state with our efforts but there is still lots to do! Next time we will explore laws! What we can say for now is that people with disabilities in Florida have managed to have a huge part to play in shaping how we are treated by advocating for the kinds of laws we need! Next time we will explore what those laws are and why they are important!
***

Recipe Corner submitted by Sheila Young

Lemon Cheese Cake

2 8-ounce packages cream cheese
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/3 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice (2 to 3 lemons)
1 graham cracker crust
Beat together cream cheese and milk; add vanilla and lemon juice; beat until well mixed.
Pour into pie shell and let set in refrigerator until set.
***

Chapter News

GOCB Update by Martha James

On June 15, we will have our annual scholarship and awards luncheon. Because Red Lobster has closed, we will have it at Buffalo Wild Wings from 11:00 to 2:00.

In August, the cookout pool party will make a comeback. This year it will be held at the home of Alicia in Winter Springs.  We thank her and Rick for opening their home to us.

The audio described theater plays continue to be available for those interested in attending. Much time and effort has gone into making these plays accessible to the blind and visually impaired audience. We take a break in July, so our next chapter meeting will be held in September!

We hope everyone has a wonderful and safe summer!
***

Tech Tips by John Richards from the Technology Committee

The Rabbit R1, what is it? Will it be fully accessible for blind users?

The Rabbit R1, is a small handheld AI device approximately half the size of a smart phone. It is bright orange, and has a 2.8-inch screen, a scroll wheel for navigation and a 360 degrees rotating 8-megapixel camera. It runs on rabbit OS, its own operating system. According to rabbit Founder and CEO Jesse Lyu, “Our Large Action Model takes it one step further: it doesn't just generate text in response to human input – it generates actions on behalf of users to help us get things done.”

As for this device being fully accessible for blind users, at this point in time, The Rabbit R1 does not have voice guidance for navigation. A blind person would need this for setting up the device out of the box and having the ability to navigate the device thereafter; however, once the device is setup, one can interact with the Rabbit R1 with Voice control; by issuing voice commands eliminating the need to see the screen.

Reviews on this device are mixed; one issue I have noted in reading reviews and opinions is that battery life is poor; this would be a factor when using voice guidance.

In my opinion The Rabbit R1 has potential. This will also enhance development of like devices from other manufacturers. Hopefully, these new devices will offer full accessibility for blind users out of the box.

Below are a couple of links to demonstrations of the Rabbit R1. Both have "play" buttons on their respective pages. These two demonstrations offer differing opinions on the device. If you are unable to click on the links, copy  each URL in to your browser.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bUjamYr5kFg

https://www.theverge.com/2024/5/2/24147159/rabbit-r1-review-ai-gadget
***

Poetry Corner submitted by Shelley Sawyer

Greetings Dear Reader:

While on A recent FCB Presidents’ call, I requested articles to put in the Poetry Corner. I will reiterate that request here. Do you have a favorite poem or poet? Perhaps you enjoy writing poetry, but don’t know what to do with it after you’ve written it. If so, please, please share them with us. If you write them, I'll gladly submit them to the WCB for you. If you have a request, I'll research it, find it if I can and submit it. I am definitely not a poet, but it would give me great joy to help any of you share your writing talents with your FCB friends and family. The FCB White Cane Bulletin might be a small beginning, but who knows where it could lead?

I received the following from Ms. Sheila Young, our Immediate Past President. Thank you, Sheila for sharing this one. While its author is unknown, there is much to think about here.

Sharing Your Gift with Others
Author Unknown

Your earthly existence provides you with ample opportunity to explore your purpose and use your gifts.

The gifts we are born with and those that we work to develop throughout our lives vary in form and function. Some gifts we use every day, while others are only useful in specific circumstances. Yet, many times we overlook opportunities to share our unique gifts with others. It may be fear of criticism that holds us back or the paralyzing weight of uncertainty. Ultimately, we doubt that our innate talents and practiced skills can truly add value to others’ lives. But, the world as a whole benefits when we willingly share our gifts. Whether you have been blessed with the ability to awaken beautiful emotions in others through art or industry, or your aptitudes transmit more practical advantages, your gifts are a part of who you are. As you make use of those gifts as best you can, be assured that your contribution to worldly well-being will not be overlooked.

Your personal power is defined in part by your gifts. To use your talents is to demonstrate to the world that you understand yourself and are truly attuned to your capabilities. Your earthly existence provides you with ample opportunity to explore your purpose, to utilize your skills in a life-affirming way, and to positively touch the lives of others while doing so. Yet, you may feel that your gifts are not as valuable or worthy of attention as those of others, and thus, you hide them away. However, every gift lying dormant in your soul has the potential to fill a void in someone else’s life. Just as your existence is made richer by the love, support, friendship, aid, and compassion of others, you also can add richness to their lives. Your natural ability to soothe hurt, inspire compassion, bake, dance, knit, organize, or think outside the box can be a boon to someone in need.

As you embrace your gifts and allow their light to shine, you will discover that more and more opportunities to make use of them arise. This is because your gifts are a channel through which the universe operates. By simply doing what you are good at and what you love to do, you make a positive difference. The recognition you receive for your efforts will pale in comparison to the satisfaction you feel when fulfilling your innate potential.  
***

FCB OFFICERS, 2024 - 2026

President, Mikey Wiseman
wisemanmikey@gmail.com  (305) 331-4870

1st Vice-President, Cassandra Jessie
cassandrajessie@gmail.com  (850) 980-0177
    
2nd Vice President, Shelley Sawyer
seabelle031@gmail.com  (407) 403-2099

Treasurer, Mark Lear
learm52@icloud.com   (386) 788-0463

Membership Secretary, Sally Benjamin
Salbenjamin60@gmail.com  (850) 980-0205

Recording Secretary, Elizabeth Bowden
bowdenelizabeth5@gmail.com (850) 345-0822

Immediate Past President, Sheila Young
sheilayoung125@att.net   (407) 425-9200

Editor of White Cane Bulletin, Sally Benjamin
editor@fcb.org  (850) 980-0205

FCB Administrative Assistant, Kati Lear
(800) 267-4448
(386) 763-3836    
floridacouncil@comcast.net
***

2024 – 2026 FCB Chapter & Special Affiliate Officer Liaisons

NOTE: Officer changes will be updated after the ACB Convention.

Please contact your officer liaison if we can be of assistance or if you need anything from the Executive Committee.

CALM (Chapter At Large Members) Sheila Young
sheilayoung125@att.net
(407) 425-9200

Greater Orlando Council of the Blind: Mark Lear
learm52@icloud.com
(386) 788-0463

Halifax Council of the Blind: Sheila Young
sheilayoung125@att.net
(407) 425-9200

Jacksonville Council of the Blind: Cassandra Jessie
cassandrajessie@gmail.com
(850) 567-4288

Manatee County Council of the Blind: Sally Benjamin
Salbenjamin60@gmail.com
(850) 980-0205

Miami Beach Council of the Blind: Mikey Wiseman
wisemanmikey@gmail.com
(305) 331-4870

Miami Metro Council of the Blind: Mikey Wiseman
wisemanmikey@gmail.com
(305) 331-4870

Northwest Florida Chapter of the Florida Council of the Blind: Mikey Wiseman
wisemanmikey@gmail.com
(305) 331-4870

Palm Beach Council of the Blind: Sally Benjamin
Salbenjamin60@gmail.com
(850) 980-0205

Pinellas Council of the Blind: Sheila Young
sheilayoung125@att.net
(407) 425-9200

Sarasota Council of the Blind: Mary Tyson
mtyson541@bellsouth.net
(386) 212-9496

Southwest Florida Council of the Blind: Mikey Wiseman
wisemanmikey@gmail.com
(305) 331-4870

Tallahassee Council of the Blind: Sheila Young
sheilayoung125@att.net
(407) 425-9200

Tampa Council of the Blind
cassandrajessie@gmail.com
(850) 567-4288

Braille Revival League of Florida: Mary Tyson
mtyson541@bellsouth.net
(386) 212-9496

Coalition for the Concerns of the Totally Blind: Mark Lear
learm52@icloud.com
(386) 788-0463

Florida Council of Citizens with Low Vision: Sally Benjamin
Salbenjamin60@gmail.com
850-980-0205

Guide Dog Users of Florida: Mary Tyson
mtyson541@bellsouth.net
(386) 212-9496
***

Handy Telephone Number References

Project Insight: (800) 267-4448

Bureau of Braille & Talking Book Library: (800) 226-6075

Division of Blind Services, State Office:
(800) 342-1828

American Council of The Blind: (800) 424-8666
(Available 3:00 to 5:30 P.M. EST Mon - Fri only)

ACB Legislative Hotline: (800) 424-8666
(Available evenings 8:00 P.M. to 12:00 Midnight EST and weekends 9:00 A.M. to 5:00 P.M. only)

AT&T Disability Services: (800) 872-3883
(Press 00 and speak with your long-distance carrier, or Florida only: (800) 982-2891)

BellSouth Disability Services: (800) 982-2891
(From anywhere)

Social Security: (800) 772-1213
(24-hour voice and touch tone accessibility)