Sarasota Council of the Blind Updates

By Karen Christie

As I sit writing this column, I find it hard to believe that it is already fall. The summer seemed to go so fast, and now the business meetings are back in session. Our Council of the Blind’s September meeting was held on the 12 at Denny’s restaurant. President Rick Wilkinson told us how he attended the annual conference and convention, which took place in Minneapolis this year. He reported that there were many exhibits on the latest technology and informative meetings as well as fun places to tour.

For September’s meeting, our speaker was Gary Speidel, paratransit manager for Sarasota County. He told our group about the Ride Right service, which is the service one can call if you need a ride to a doctor’s appointment, a trip to the grocery store, a commute to your job, etc. Gary’s talk provided useful information, such as how to apply for the service, and he also was ready to answer questions if anyone wanted to find out more about Ride Right. He also heard remarks from members of our group describing past trips and any concerns they may have had with the service. Gary was patient, letting our group know that Ride Right’s goal is to get people in and out of the vehicles as quickly and safely as they possibly can. He said that they would continue to do their best so that everyone is in and out and brought to and from their destinations in as timely a manner as possible.

On Tuesday, September 20, nine members of the Chapter met with the Sarasota Board of County Commissioners. The Commission chamber was filled as a White Cane Awareness Proclamation was read out and presented. Following the proclamation, the council members in attendance walked a half-mile to a restaurant for breakfast, carrying their white canes.

Amanda Tolson of En-vision America spoke to us at our October business meeting. She demonstrated both the ScriptTalk and ID Mate devices for the visually-impaired. The ID Mate is a barcode reader that allows you to scan and identify products containing a barcode. It doesn’t actually read the price of the product, but it tells you if it’s a can of soup or tuna, for instance. Though some may have felt it was rather pricy, it did seem like it would be a helpful tool to have.

The ScriptTalk is a medication identifier. This is a small device upon which you place a bottle of pills, and it will read which medicine it is, how much you should take, the doctor who prescribed it, etc. If you’re only wanting to know certain information on the label (for example, the doctor’s phone number), you can make it read only that part of the label. The ScriptTalk comes in handy, especially so that no one has to rely on other friends or family members to tell them about their personal information regarding medicines. It is available at some, but not all, local pharmacies.

October 15 is White Cane Awareness Day. In an effort to educate the public, we will pass out literature about our chapter at the downtown farmer’s market and distribute the ever- popular bookmarks imprinted with the White Cane Law.

As you can see, it’s been a busy time for the Sarasota chapter, and next month will be as well. At November’s meeting, our yearly dues will be collected, and new officers will be elected.

On behalf of everyone in our Council, we hope you spread the word about the importance of white cane awareness – both on White Cane Awareness Day and every day! With everyone’s help, we can make a difference in our community.