March 2017

Address: 359 Coggeshall St., New Bedford, MA 02746

Phone: 508-994-4972



Publisher: Bob Branco

Editor: Terri Winaught       

Proofreaders and Secondary Editors: David and Leonore Dvorkin


Each article's title will be separated from its author by three asterisks ***.

For your convenience and to make using your browser's search feature easier, three asterisks *** will also be used between articles.

Finally, three asterisks *** will be used between recipes in Karen Crowder's column as well as in Readers'Forum and Special Notices when those features contain more than one item.

1. LETTER FROM THE EDITOR *** by Terri Winaught

2. HEALTH MATTERS *** by Leonore H. Dvorkin

3. THE IMAGE OF YOURSELF *** by Dennis R. Sumlin

4. TECH CORNER *** by Stephen Théberge

5. COMMENTARY AFTERMATH *** by James R. Campbell

6. THE MOUNT EVEREST OF EQUALITY *** by Brian J. Coppola

7. SOCIETY'S TRENDS *** by Bob Branco








15. TIPS FOR VIPS (Because Visually Impaired People Are Important, Too) *** by Penny Fleckenstein

16. RECIPE COLUMN *** by Karen Crowder





Do you like roller coasters? As a young child who could ride endlessly without feeling sick or dizzy, I loved all rides that were wild. Pittsburgh weather has been very much like a roller coaster this winter: One day, temperatures soar to the sixties, and the next day, they tumble to the thirties. Still, I thank and praise God that we haven't been ravaged by floods or tossed about by killer tornadoes. For those of you who have had these or other wintry woes, I pray that you are safe, warm, and well.

Just as February was Black History Month, complete with celebrations that acknowledged the contributions of African-Americans, so March is Women's History Month or, as some might say, Herstory Month. If there are women whose impact on history you'd like to discuss, I'd love to hear about them in Readers'Forum. If that's more of a public forum than you're comfortable with, however, call me at 412-263-2022 or e-mail me at or at

Take care, have a marvelous March, and thanks for reading with me.

Terri Winaught, Editor



by Leonore H. Dvorkin



The Benefits of Herbs and Spices: Part Two (C 2017)

(Note: The original version of this article was published in a Denver newsletter in 2008. It has been slightly altered for this appearance.)

Here is the basic difference between an herb and a spice. The leaf of a plant used in cooking is an herb, whereas any other part of the plant (often dried) is a spice. Spices can be buds, bark, roots, berries, aromatic seeds, and even the stigma of a flower, as in the case of saffron.

The record of the use of herbs and spices goes back thousands of years. The traditional Indian system of medicine known as Ayurveda evolved more than 5,000 years ago in the Himalayas. Emphasizing diet, it focuses on the prevention of disease. In Ayurveda, basil is used to protect the heart, cinnamon is used to stimulate circulation, and ginger is the  universal medicine.

The ancient Sumerians recognized the health benefits of thyme as early as 5000 BC, and the Mesopotamians cultivated garlic as early as 3000 BC. The ancient Egyptians fed their slaves radishes, onions, and garlic to keep them healthy. In ancient Greece and Rome, mint was used to aid digestion, and rosemary was used to improve the memory. Rosemary is still burned today in the homes of Greek students who are preparing for exams!

Nowadays, scientists are researching the effects of herbs and spices as they affect cardiovascular health, metabolism, aging, cancer, mental health, and cognition. There is growing recognition that herbs and spices can do far more than simply make food taste better or provide extra nutrition.

Some like it hot with good reason: Cayenne pepper, Tabasco sauce, ginger, and even cinnamon can increase metabolism and the body's fat-burning ability. Mustard also has fat-burning properties, and it can relieve respiratory complaints. Ginger can also relieve motion sickness and nausea. Be careful with it, though, as it can hinder blood clotting. If you're going to have surgery or if you take blood thinners or aspirin, you might want to avoid ginger.

Good, and good for your heart: The consumption of garlic and garlic oil has been linked with the reduction of total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol (the  bad kind), as well as triglycerides. Rosemary can help prevent damage to blood vessels that raises heart attack risk.

Battling cancer: As a breast cancer survivor, I am always interested in anything that research says can help protect against cancer of any sort. One lengthy and scholarly article I read (it had more than 100 scientific articles listed as references) named basil, lemongrass, mint, nutmeg, parsley, rosemary, spearmint, and turmeric as having shown anti-cancer effects in animal studies. Certain components of rosemary may inhibit breast cancer. Turmeric, a main ingredient in curry, seems to be especially good at helping to prevent cancers of the colon, skin, liver, and prostate. My husband and I use powdered turmeric in cooking and consume turmeric capsules as a daily supplement. (See below for a recommendation on where to obtain high-quality supplements of many sorts at excellent prices.)

Plants and mental health: There is a long history of using plants to influence psychological states. Various herbs have long been used to reduce anxiety and promote relaxation. Even Peter Rabbit's mother knew about the relaxing properties of chamomile, and passion flower is recommended as a sedative by the German Commission E, a government-supported committee that evaluates herbal preparations from medicinal plants. Valerian also has sedative properties. I frequently use chamomile tea or valerian capsules if I have trouble sleeping. Both are available in health food stores and online. (A new note: Nowadays, I am using 3 mg time-release melatonin pills to help me sleep. Natrol brand seems to be very good.) 

If your goal is to perk up your brain and/or improve your memory rather than to relax, try ginkgo biloba or ginseng, both used in traditional Chinese medicine. Sage is also potentially helpful to the memory, and there is some evidence that garlic can slow brain aging through its antioxidation properties. However, no study that I read suggests any more than a slight boost to cognition from any one food.

Most people find that reliable old caffeine, as found in coffee, tea, colas, and chocolate, gives them as much of a mental boost as they need. Just be careful with those popular  energy drinks, as they can contain excessive and even dangerous amounts of caffeine and other stimulants.

Herbs, spices, and Type 2 diabetes: I found many references to herbs and spices that can help manage diabetes. Italian herbalists use bilberry, cinnamon, dandelion, garlic, ginseng, and prickly pear cactus for glucose control. Some sources say that Ceylon cinnamon is the best and most effective; I purchased some online. Ginseng can help some people lose weight, as well.

Osteoarthritis: Ginger has been shown to have a mild to moderate effect in reducing knee pain. In spite of its hot, spicy taste, ginger appears to inhibit the inflammation process.

It's common for older people to have some loss of the senses of smell and taste, especially if they take several medications. By increasing their intake of herbs and spices, seniors can increase their enjoyment of food without increasing their salt intake. Basil, oregano, and thyme are not only delicious, but also provide valuable antioxidants.

So, dear readers, enjoy all those wonderful herbs and spices, knowing that they are both good and good for you!

A concluding note: I recommend Swanson Vitamins, at, as a good source for thousands of high-quality supplements at very reasonable prices. They even offer frequent, attractive sales.

Leonore H. Dvorkin is the author of four published books: two works of fiction and two of nonfiction. Her husband, David Dvorkin, is the author of 27 books, both fiction and nonfiction. Since 2009, Leonore and David have been offering reasonably priced editing and self-publishing assistance to other authors. The majority of their clients are blind or visually impaired. The books are sold worldwide by Amazon, Smashwords, and multiple other sellers in e-book and print formats. Note: Their editing business is now DLD Books. Full details of the Dvorkins'comprehensive services can be found at:



by Dennis R. Sumlin

Three Steps to Transform Your Past

Anyone who has been born has a past. As we get older, this past fills up with people, places, and experiences that shape who we are. The thing that really shapes us is the way we look at our past. The events in our lives happen, and it is up to us to interpret them; therefore, we can change our past, and here's how.

Step 1. Stop defining yourself by your past.

As we grow, we learn. The important thing to remember is that your past does not define who you are. You are not your failed marriage; you are not the child you were; you are not your business that went under; you are you. When we come to understand that we are not the mistakes and lapses of the past, then we open ourselves up to the understanding that we can, at any moment, change for the better. We have the power to define ourselves, right now, in this moment.

When we over-identify with dust and particles from the past, we run the risk of repeating mistakes and begin defining ourselves with disempowering messages. We also deny ourselves the chance to correct unhealthy patterns, because we believe that they are fused with us. Do not give away your personal power to events and situations that will never happen again.

Step 2. Learn from your mistakes.

After we understand that our past is not who we are, then we can learn from what history has to offer. Being able to look at the past in an objective manner allows us to see things from many different angles and take multiple lessons from it. We can ask ourselves what we could have done differently, why we felt a particular thing, and so on. This information will help make us ready for the future challenges ahead, and it will allow us to come to terms with our past.

When we see that the past is one of the best guides for the future, then we begin to appreciate where we have been. Mistakes and failures help us get closer to our personal values and help us know who we are. When I first started to look at my mistakes this way, it was hard and a little painful, but the way we improve our past is to change the way we see it.

Step 3. Make a better now.

The best way to improve the past is to make the best out of this moment. Every current moment will become the past. Living life as our best selves every day will create days, weeks, and months of a great past.

When we make a better now, we let go of shame and guilt. Shame causes us to hide who we are and avoid situations. Shame implies that who we are has to match with somebody else's standards, or else. Who are we living for, anyway? Guilt is about our actions and whether they meet up to a moral or value code. The question you may want to ask yourself is,  Whose moral code? Nobody has to live with your past but you.

When I used these steps, I was able to come to terms with the past and get a better sense of who I am and what drives me, and all that allowed me to make each moment the past I want to look back on. Remember, you can look at your past to learn from it, but do not become it.

Dennis R. Sumlin is a Communication and Self-Mastery Coach and speaker.

He is dedicated to helping you become the highest version of yourself through effective speaking skills and conscious living.





An Opposing Dark View on Technology of the Future

by Stephen Théberge

Last month, I discussed how technology and automation could be a great thing. It seems that many experts feel we are at a crucial time. Last month, the White House published a report on this issue.

It predicts that 83% of jobs where people earn less than $20 an hour will become irrelevant or subject to automation. From 9% to 47% of jobs are likely to be made obsolete. These cuts will affect mostly uneducated people. Between 2.2 and 3.1 million bus, car, and truck driving jobs will be replaced by automated vehicles.

From the source article:  Self-driving cars are the most obvious job-destroying technology, but there are similar innovations ahead that will dislocate cashiers, fast food workers, customer service representatives, groundskeepers and many others in a few short years. How many of these people will be readily employable elsewhere?

It is said that 4 million jobs have been lost to automation since the year 2000, and these people did not go back into the labor force. Some attribute the opioid epidemic, in part, to unemployment.

Venture for America is an organization tackling this problem. They are focused on entrepreneurship, education, and other means of making people able to work. It is estimated that having more than a high school education will be very important in this future if we want to solve the problem. When you consider that Uber is looking at automated vehicles, we have to wonder what a jobless future will look like.

Read the full story at:

Go here for details of and buying links for my science fiction novel, The MetSche Message:

Watch my YouTube channel, which has many blindness-related videos:



by James R. Campbell

Confronting the Modern Plague

Welcome to Commentary Aftermath for March 2017. This month, I am taking up a topic of extreme importance to medical researchers and the general public at large.

How often do we take the advances that have been made in medical science for granted? We probably never give it a second thought unless we have a loved one who is hospitalized or we wind up in that position. Then we are grateful for the leaps and bounds in health care that have been made thanks to modern technology.

When Alexander Fleming discovered penicillin in 1928, a new era began. This discovery was heralded as one of the greatest breakthroughs of the 20th century. From this accidental discovery, a whole host of antibiotics emerged. For the first time in history, death rates from diseases dropped sharply from what they were before antibiotics became widely available.

Antibiotics are powerful tools in the fight against illness and disease. But the over-prescribing of antibiotics has created strains of bacteria that are resistant to the drugs that once defeated them. According to the Centers for Disease Control, 23,000 people in the U.S. die each year from antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria.

A recent news story dealt with bacteria called CRE. These are intestinal bacteria, such as E. coli, that have become resistant to antibiotics. The medical field refers to them as nightmare bacteria, because they defeat the drugs of last resort (cephalosporin and others). The danger posed by these microbes is a horrifying prospect for doctors, nurses, and the general population.

Right now, the bacteria seem to be confined to hospitals. But what happens if they get into the community? This is the fear of epidemiologists who make their living studying such events. At one time, MRSA was hospital-acquired, meaning that it was confined to hospitals. Now, it is a public concern, reaching far beyond the hospital room. Again, the overuse of antibiotics is to blame, because the bacteria mutate at such a rapid rate that they outstrip the capacity of modern science to contend with them.

Proper sanitation measures and curtailing antibiotic use are our best hope at this point. Hospitals are encouraged to disinfect bedding, utensils, medical equipment, and patients'rooms. Hospital staff should wash their hands with soap and warm water to kill bacteria on their hands. Hospitals have taken the precaution that no visitors are allowed in the hospital if they are ill. They cannot afford to have patients give their illnesses to those who are fighting illnesses of their own, and vice versa.

The same procedures used in hospitals work at home. Wash your hands, and disinfect when necessary. White vinegar is a very good natural disinfectant. Treat wounds promptly. I use tea tree oil, but some may be allergic to it. You can buy it in health food stores. As always, follow directions. If you develop an abscess on your body, get prompt medical help. And by all means, when a doctor gives you a prescription for antibiotics, ask,  Do I really need it?

Evidently, more research is needed in order to confront the modern plague we now face, but we must do our part to take care of ourselves. The simplest measures work, and our survival depends on it.



by Brian J. Coppola

Blind Pen Pal; in reply to Changes to Make Life Better for the Blind

In a group called Blind Pen Pals on Facebook, the group leader, whom we will call A.P., asked a question:  What changes would you like to see to make things better for the blind?

I had talked about extending the Olmstead Act to the independent blind to allow them to live in the Least Restrictive Environment, such as in large cities that have mass public transportation. As we all know, taking taxi cabs to do grocery shopping on our own is expensive in and of itself, because doing so means paying a driver so much money a ride, whereas those who drive cars only pay once in a while for gas, when the tank nears empty. This would be similar to the way those who were institutionalized or placed in nursing homes were given the opportunity to live in the Least Restrictive Environment by the Olmstead decision of 1990 by the United States Supreme Court. It is equally important for the blind and the physically disabled to have the same rights that were afforded those who were institutionalized. Remember, friends and family will always have different schedules, and the inevitable is there. The reality is that family will not be around forever, as no one can really predict the future. So it is time for the blind to start insisting that their independent living centers start advocating and lobbying for them to have these same rights as those who were institutionalized or placed in nursing homes. Our independent living programs should not be catering only to those who were institutionalized. They should be providing their services, including advocacy services, to people with all disabilities, as these independent living programs receive federal monies to do. Those in their twenties to their fifties should be insisting that their independent living centers start catering to the blind as well. Aging brings more disability, and it may be too late when you're in your sixties, seventies, or eighties.

I agree. Folks, this is why we need to stand up and have the Olmstead Act extended to us, and not just to those who were institutionalized or were in nursing homes. The parents who have blind children should seriously consider living in or near large cities, in nice neighborhoods, when a blind child reaches their teen years, because that's when the more adult-like training will really begin. As to educating children about disabilities, that should be a law and a requirement nationally and statewide in all schools across the country. Parents should be told right out by the training centers what assistive technology is available to the blind, such as blind training centers or blind school, no matter what student disability population they may be catering to at the time. We should be talking to Donald Trump about this. This is all part of Make America Great Again. This would also be part of my plan, if I were the president, of repealing and replacing Chapter 766 and IDEA. Those who have disabilities but for whom it is dangerous to go on field trips should be accompanied by a behavioral aid, especially when the disability involves severe impairment of the brain and the mind, otherwise known as the psyche, because some of these individuals cannot control acting out. Parents of the blind and also blind adults should be informed regarding what resources are out there and also what type of assistive technology exists that can help the blind.

As to making the cost of adaptive technology cheap for the blind, the government can go about this in two ways: Make deals with the assistive technology companies to purchase it in bulk quantity along with a good warranty or a good service maintenance agreement, or start requiring that manufacturers of newer consumer electronics, such as computers, televisions, microwaves, and durable medical equipment include in the newer models of the products features that make the products accessible for the blind as well as those with other disabilities. Last but not least, as an alternative to the small print format, there should be accessible labeling, to allow people who are blind or visually impaired or have dyslexia to read labels on prescription bottles and on OTC medications. Have any of you heard of Scriptalk?



by Bob Branco

Laws, Laws, and More Laws

(Originally published in Word Matters,

I often wonder why politicians keep adopting new legislation when they have a difficult time enforcing what's already on the books. I hear this all the time. We have so many laws in this country that there is either not enough manpower to enforce all of them or legislators really don't care. Here are some examples of what I am talking about.

With all the minority and special interest groups, and all the pressure put on the politicians to make laws in order to protect these people, I will assume that these politicians have all their bases covered when it comes to these groups. There are laws everywhere protecting their dignity and their rights, as well as to protect them from discrimination. With that said, I wonder if much is known in the political community about all of these laws. I say, very little. If enough legislators knew that these laws already existed in order to protect the rights of minority groups to the fullest, then why was there a move to pass a new law entitling transgenders to either use whatever restroom they choose or to have their own restroom? The law already protects these people. There is no need to make a new one. Just enforce the one that already exists.

You're probably wondering how I know that some legislators aren't informed about the existing laws that protect transgenders and other minority groups. On a radio talk show months ago, Barry Richard spoke to a local state representative who admitted knowing little or nothing about such laws, yet he was on a committee whose members supported the adoption of the new transgender bathroom bill. I also learned that several legislators who voted to adopt this bill didn't read the language. The end result sounded good, so they voted for the bill. Is this what we should expect from people we vote for? Absolutely not!

In my city, there is an ordinance prohibiting the use of alcoholic beverages in public parks. That sounds good, doesn't it? If you think it sounds good, don't express your opinion to all those who enjoy having a beer in a public park and expect them to agree with you. These people will continue to drink their beer, and they will get on your case if you even suggest that there's an ordinance forbidding it. However, I understand why these people feel the way they do. They'll tell you why. First of all, they are adults, so they believe they can do as they please. Furthermore, they will continue to drink in a public park because they never see anybody enforcing the no-drinking law. They are not bad people. They simply learned from experience to accept what's going on. So it is acceptable to drink socially wherever we want as long as we believe we will never get caught.

Now, let's talk about panhandling. If a panhandler is in the way of traffic, why should we adopt a new law forbidding this behavior? Isn't there a loitering law in most cities and towns which already forbids panhandlers from getting in someone's way? Yet how many legislators bother to find out about it?

Here's my advice to all legislators, whether they're doing a good job or a bad job for their constituents. Before you get completely engrossed with the adoption of new laws, read the old ones carefully. You will likely find out that the language you are asking for already exists.



Walking by Inner Vision: Stories & Poems

© 2017 by Lynda McKinney Lambert

Pennsylvania artist, teacher, and author Lynda McKinney Lambert invites readers into her world of profound sight loss to discover the subtle nuances and beauty of a physical and spiritual world. She takes strands from ancient mythology, history, and contemporary life and weaves a richly textured new fabric using images that are seen and unseen as she takes us on a year-long journey through the seasons.

All stories in this book were created after her sudden sight loss in 2007 from Ischemic Optic Neuropathy. Lambert invites us to see the world with new eyes.

Available in e-book ($3.99) and print ($14.95) from Amazon, Smashwords, and other sellers. Full details, free 20% text preview, and buying links:

Edited by David and Leonore H. Dvorkin of DLD Books:

Cover photo and back cover text by the author / Cover design and layout by David Dvorkin 



by Steve Roberts

With the heavy rainfall in California this winter, we have heard about atmospheric rivers that are the principal culprit for all of this rain. So what exactly are atmospheric rivers?

An atmospheric river is a juicy jet stream flow that can carry ten times more water than the Mississippi River. You may have heard your local TV meteorologist talk about the Pineapple Express. The Pineapple Express is an atmospheric river. Atmospheric rivers can range in width from tens of miles to hundreds of miles.

Due to their persistence, atmospheric rivers can produce double-digit rainfall, rainfall of ten inches or more, and snow that is measured in depths of yards, not feet. These flows can produce rain that falls very heavily over a truly vast area. The heavy rains brought on by these atmospheric rivers have ended California's drought.

As impressive as that may seem, scientists tell us that an even bigger flood may be on the way for California. This so-called mega-flood would handily dwarf this year's great rains. California is due for one of these mega-floods.

In the winter of 1861-62, a flood of Biblical proportions occurred in the State of California. An atmospheric river got locked into place, drenching the Golden State for over six weeks straight!

This river system caused heavy rains that fell for 45 days in a row. The resulting flood turned the central valley into a vast inland sea. This vast lake was 300 miles long, 50 miles wide, and 30 feet deep. Los Angeles got 66 inches of rain from that great event. That is four times its annual rainfall in six weeks'time.

A similar flood today would cause $700 billion in damage. To give you a perspective of just what that is, it would be three Katrinas in one disaster. Experts say that it would take up to five years to fix the mess created by this great atmospheric river.

Can Atmospheric Rivers Set Up in the East?

Atmospheric rivers are rare in the East. However, they do occur on occasion. Most of the atmospheric rivers that set up in the East are a result of nor'easters that have a tropical hookup. Nor'easters that are tropically connected have a conveyor belt of moisture that extends from the nor'easter into the tropical Atlantic. This conveyor belt of moisture provides a constant feed of moisture to the nor'easter.

A nor'easter on Mother's Day 2006 had a tropical connection: a conduit of deep, tropical moisture that fed the storm with tons and tons of water vapor.

A nor'easter that is operating under its own devices will give steady, heavy rain what meteorologists call moderately heavy rain over a vast area. A tropically connected nor'easter will produce moderately heavy rain with torrentially heavy downpours.

Another kind of atmospheric river setup can occur when a trough line or slow-moving cold front approaches the East Coast of the United States. This boundary focuses lots of tropical moisture on the Eastern seaboard. These can be the most impactful atmospheric rivers, as you have a feed of moisture straight out of the tropics.

Such was the case on October 7, 2016. A front approached the East Coast, pulling in increasing amounts of moisture as it traveled. Once the front was stationed off the East Coast, a conduit of deep, tropical moisture was launched up the East Coast toward New England. This flow came out of the deep tropics, producing torrentially heavy rain in the process. This fire hose of moisture produced rain that was so heavy that it compelled the National Weather Service to issue flash flood watches and warnings throughout southern and central New England.

Though atmospheric river events are currently rare in the East, climate change may make them more common and impactful. In next month's installment, we will talk about how climate change may bring us a one-in-one-thousand-year rainfall event that results from an atmospheric river.

Note: Steven P. Roberts is the author of The Whys and Whats of Weather, C 2014, 404 pages in paperback, also in e-book format. Full details and buying links can be found at:



by Ann Chiappetta, M.S.

There is trouble out there in service dog land.

This entry is for all the handlers out there who keep a protective eye and paw on our access rights.

The nationwide acceptance of pet owners passing off their dogs as service animals has become a current event. To be more specific, there is an epidemic of pet owners trying to pass off their dogs as working dogs. Did you know that with just a minimum of information, you can go online and purchase a vest and ID for your pet stating it is an assistance animal? It's like buying fake identification. Plainly stated, it is fraud.

Moreover, businesses are caught between following the laws protecting the rights of people with disabilities and their service dogs while also not having a clear way of identifying people trying to pass off pet dogs as service animals. As a result, many businesses unknowingly contribute to allowing the fraud to continue because of the threat of being dragged into litigation and the burden of proving that the person and dog in question are not a legitimate service dog team.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) allows a business to ask only two questions to help them identify whether or not a dog is a service dog. 1. Are you a person with a disability? 2. What task does the dog perform to mitigate your disability?

This leaves a loophole large enough for an Irish Wolfhound to jump through, in my opinion.

As a guide dog handler, I am worried about the growing number of pet owners who misrepresent their pet dogs as service animals. I am worried that these fraudulent people with poorly mannered dogs will give well behaved dogs and handlers a bad rap, and we will be the ones who pay the price. These kinds of clashes have increased exponentially, and dog guide teams feel it each time we are barred from legitimately entering a place that accommodates the public because of a pet owner who doesn't want to leave their poorly behaved dog at home and poses the dog as a service animal to avoid pet fees in hotels. Another type of conflict resulting from this is businesses that have encountered poorly behaved dogs posing as service dogs, and the negative experience biases them against any service dog team from then on.

Likewise, many people and businesses do not understand that dogs and other types of animals known as Emotional Support Animals, whose sole function is to provide comfort, emotional support or well-being, therapeutic benefits, or companionship, are not qualified as service animals. Under the Americans with Disabilities Act, only service animals that perform physical tasks or work to mitigate a disability are given the right to accompany their disabled partners in all public places. The only kinds of service animals stated in the ADA trained to perform these tasks in public are dogs and miniature horses. Federal agencies representing the transportation and aviation industries and other service dog organizations are struggling to find positive ways to inform the public that posing as a person with a disability with a service dog is harmful to the people who depend on genuine service dogs to assist them.

The United States is the most accessible country in the world. The guide dog movement has been established for over fifty years. Many of those early years were spent fighting for our civil rights as people with disabilities and blindness. Our dogs are indeed the quiet, masterful companions we depend upon. If someone you know is passing a pet off as a service animal, we hope you email this to them and let them know they are hurting others by posing as a person with a disability who uses a service animal.

Ann Chiappetta, M.S., is an author and poet. To read Ann's blog, go to To purchase her first poetry collection, Upwelling: Poems, go to

Follow Ann on Facebook: Annie Chiappetta. Or follow her on Twitter: AnnieDungarees.



by Terri Winaught

A review of mental health treatments in Western cultures would indicate that modalities like chains, other restraints, and medications with debilitating side effects lacked both dignity and respect. By the late 20th and into the 21st centuries, newer medications with fewer side effects were being developed; state hospitals were being closed, and chains were no longer being used as restraints.

With the current belief that recovery (even from serious mental illness) is possible, persons like me with lived experience hear words and phrases like  empowerment,  person-centered care,  personal medicine, and  self-care. The phrase I will explore in this Turning Point column is Personal Medicine. The questions I will answer are: What is Personal Medicine? Who developed this concept? How does it differ from  traditional medicine? Does Personal Medicine replace pills? And how is it a turning point in the mental health recovery process?

What Is Personal Medicine?

Personal Medicine, as developed and defined by Pat Deegan, Ph.D., is  something you do that puts a smile on your face, and not a pill that you take. (Worth noting is that, though diagnosed with schizophrenia as a teenager, Pat Deegan owns a world-renowned consulting, training, and research business.)

Returning to Personal Medicine: It does not replace the pills I take to regulate my chemical imbalance, but serves instead as a healing, transforming supplement.

Because writing this column is something I do that makes me feel good and puts a smile on my face, it is an example of Personal Medicine. For my supervisor, Personal Medicine is cooking and playing the guitar. Personal Medicine, then, supplements traditional medicine and differs from it by being something you do and not something you take. Personal Medicine being something one does can be a turning point in his or her recovery because it is something over which the user has control. (I choose what puts a smile on my face, and choice is empowerment!)

To summarize and conclude, personal and traditional medicine differ in that personal is what one does to feel better, and traditional is the pills an individual takes to regulate biochemistry. Each supplements and complements, but neither replaces the other. Because Personal Medicine is something I choose, whereas pills are what my healthcare provider prescribes, I am empowered by Personal Medicine, and that makes it a recovery turning point and wellness tool.

The only drawback I see to Personal Medicine as it currently exists is that the many cards on which valuable, detailed information is provided are inaccessible to persons with blindness or low vision in that they are neither in Braille nor large print. Especially since Pat Deegan's library, in which there are over 3,000 multimedia resources, is vision-impaired friendly, my hope is that there will be a way to make the informative Personal Medicine cards equally accessible.

In next month's column, I will be providing a brief bio of Pat Deegan, since her achievements are world renowned and March is Women's History Month. I will also give examples of the health, wellness, and recovery-oriented information Pat Deegan's library contains for persons in recovery, peer supporters, family members, therapists, and psychiatrists.

(Information for this article was taken from:

To share your recovery story or give feedback on this column, e-mail or



Name: Ann Chiappetta, M.S.

Employer: The White Plains Vet Center, Department of Veterans'Affairs, White Plains, New York

Occupation: Readjustment Counseling Therapist

Education: Master of Science in Marriage and Family Therapy from Iona College

Responsibilities: To assist combat veterans, active duty personnel and reservists with adjusting back into civilian life post deployment; to assist family members with understanding the issues related to readjustment; treat trauma and moral injuries related to military service; provide safe and confidential counseling services for veterans who lost a comrade or for family members who have lost a service member during deployment.

How I got there: I interned during graduate studies and eventually was able to apply for the job posting through

How I access the computer files and paperwork involved with my position: I have a computer with text-to-speech software, a scanner with OCR software, and other tools to assist me with handling the information required for my position. I also rely on the office manager and director to assist me when I cannot access information, and they provide a workable alternative when necessary. The VA has supplied me with an iPhone that has voiceover software so I can manage my patient load when not in the office.

I use a guide dog for my mobility and use public transportation.

I am charged with doing much of the couples and family therapy, and because I have been trained in these specific modalities and therapeutic techniques, I often forget I cannot see my patients. I use my other observational skills, pay close attention to tone, where they sit in the room, how loudly or softly a patient is speaking, how a patient answers my questions, and other observations that assist me in identifying how distressed a patient is, etc.

What I love the most about my work: It is a well-paying position, commensurate to my master's degree and advanced training. I am proud to be part of the VA and believe it is an honor to serve those who have served us so unselfishly and with courage and pride. Vets and their families deserve the best care, and I know I provide it.

Ann Chiappetta, M.S. is a writer and poet. To read more about Ann, go to . To purchase her first collection of poems, Upwelling: Poems, go to


Hello, my name is Chad Grover. I am a telephone operator at an office where 58 people work. I work three days a week, eight hours a day. I also perform other tasks on the side.


Hi, Bob,

I am the administrator of a primary school development project in Namibia, a country of about 2 million people on the African continent.

My job started in 2015. When the project was planned, resources such as land, building material, and human resources were sourced. Then I oversaw the construction of the first phase, which is a four-room private school with limited boarding spaces for 150 students, grades kindergarten through third grade.

I am responsible for disbursement and acquisition of funds i.e., sourcing investors and donors, for liaising with local and national authorities for school certification, for administering the school budget, for human resources, such as builders, teachers, etc., for overseeing boarding of kids so they are treated fairly and by responsible caretakers, and for planning the next phase of construction for grades four through seven.

Jens Naumann

Gems Field Private School


Working at Home and Out in the Community

Shepherd House, Inc., in Lehighton, Rennsylvania, is the food pantry system that provides three days of food each month. Shepherd House has nine food pantries covering every school district in Carbon County. Food pantries are in Beaver Meadows, Jim Thorpe, Lansford, Lehighton, Nesquehoning, Palmerton, Summit Hill, Tresckow, and Weatherly. Most of the pantries are in churches and other public places.

I came to the job with no grant experience. My only qualification was a background in sociology from Eastern College in St. David's, Pennsylvania. I also have a Master of Divinity Degree from the Evangelical School of Theology in Myerstown, Pennsylvania. I was a licensed Local Preacher in the Evangelical Congregational Church from 1982 to1990. In 1991, my license was changed to Alternatives to Non Pastoral Ministry. The Evangelical Congregational Church finally recognized my work at Shepherd House in social ministry. I am assigned to my home church by volunteering to teach an adult Sunday school class, and by serving on different church committees.

At Shepherd House, I manage both Federal and state grants. I must also complete grant proposals for the local United Way that serves our area. Each month, I prepare a Board Agenda that covers received donations, updates on specific funding, and any necessary reports that must be completed for the different funding sources. All of this work is done at home. My brother and sister-in-law read the donation checks so that I can put them into the computer. The food pantry reports are handwritten, and they too must be read aloud for processing. On the second Monday of each month, the Shepherd House Board meets to cover and discuss grant happenings and actions.

This job has helped me to discover all the kinds of social service agencies that Carbon County has to offer those who need their services and programs. Finding satisfaction in doing my best is accomplished only through the grace and gifts that God has given me. Jesus expects Christians to do their best for Him and on behalf of others.



Hi, Consumer Vision Readers!

Isn't this a great magazine for factual and fun info?

Let me introduce myself for those who don't know me. My name is Patty Fletcher, and I am a resident blogger at the Campbell's World blog. See below for the link.

I enjoy reading this magazine even more than ever before with the bringing aboard of such talented writers. Here, I'd like to comment on a few things I have particularly enjoyed.

Great job on the new tech column, Steve Theberge! I love learning new stuff about all things tech. For me, technology is a window into a world I never would have found any other way. I can learn more things, go more places, visit new lands, and meet all sorts of new people. At times I can also get confused, hopelessly lost, and quite frustrated, so having this column here is quite helpful.

However, regarding the comment about Windows 10 being something a blind person couldn't do: That is just not so. I cannot use Microsoft Edge, although I understand they're working on a fix for the problem of not being able to click links in email, because it is not accessible. I wrote and suggested to Microsoft that they create a button that says  Microsoft Edge/Default and gives you a choice to click in your chosen browser. So my question to you is: Do you think this is something they could do?

I also want to speak to the voiceover on my iPhone and other Apple products since the latest IOS update. I find more and more accessible things every day, and in my search for accessible apps, I found a great Facebook group for blind accessible app use and testing. In the testing portions, there are some moneymaking opportunities, so I'd recommend checking that out.

The weather column is awesome, Steve Roberts. You're doing a great job, and I hope to read your book soon. Happy to advertise you any time you wish.

To the recipe lady, Karen Crowder, I've just got to say YUM! Please feel free to email submissions to The Neighborhood News.

I also wanted to add my compliments to Robert for doing such a great revamp on his magazine, and to the staff (Terri, Leonore, and David)    for a job very well done.

By the way, I emailed a couple of you writers personally at your email addresses provided, and I hope you'll write me back.

In my not-so-distant past, I've had a lot of things go wrong tech wise, personally, and with illnesses. I have not been in such a great place, but like Terri, I believe that recovery is definitely possible, and I'm more than on my way. I am making great strides in the moving forward and positive perspective areas of my life. I hope to renew old friendships and create new ones, and this magazine is giving me an ability to do this.

Thanks to all, and blessed be.

Patty L. Fletcher

Author of Campbell's Rambles: How a Seeing Eye Dog Retrieved My Life (C 2014). In paperback and e-book from Amazon, Smashwords, and multiple other online sellers.

Full details and a 20% text sample:


My blog, Campbell's World:



by Howard A. Geltman

VFO Group now holds the monopoly on most products for the blind and visually impaired. This group purchased Ai Squared, the publishers of ZoomText text magnification software and Window-Eyes Screen Reading software. It also purchased Freedom Scientific, publishers of JAWS Screen Reading Software and Optelec, which makes closed circuit TV text magnification units.

With its acquisitions of these companies, VFO Group now also holds all rights to sell other products once sold by the above-mentioned individual companies.

As a concerned, mostly blind person, I spoke with a spokesperson the other day to find out what was going on. I was told that VFO Group started with Freedom Scientific as an umbrella company and moved on from there. They plan to phase out Window-Eyes and keep JAWS, which is the most widely used screen reading software.

I asked them if they were going to make an upgrade option available, because a copy of JAWS Pro goes for $1,100 and JAWS Home goes for $900. Add to those costs a Software Maintenance Agreement (SMA) for about $300; this allows you to receive usually two updates. That is a lot of money for someone to spend, especially since most state agencies for the blind are broke.

Before Window-Eyes was sold by GW Micro to Ai Squared, GW Micro had a wonderful policy. It allowed a blind user to purchase the product for $99 a month, to be paid at one-month intervals. Each month's purchase would finally add up to a full license after nine months. That was great. Ai Squared, when it acquired GW Micro, kept that licensing option. When VFO Group purchased all of these companies, it stopped the option.

Now I believe that the blind and visually impaired communities are in trouble, because all prices will be fixed, with no competition to stop this practice.


Howard A. Geltman is the author of the memoir A Few Moments in Time (C 2011, 231 pages).

The book is about his years at Oak Hill School for the Blind, located in Hartford, Connecticut.

Full details and a 20% text preview can be found at:


15. TIPS FOR VIPS (Because Visually Impaired People Are Important, Too)

by Penny Fleckenstein

Penny blogs at:

Happy spring, everyone! It's been a mild winter. We've had days approaching 70 degrees! Sure helps my cabin fever. I'm considering buying myself flowers, so I can enjoy spring earlier. How having cut flowers in my home uplifts my spirit and puts me in a dreamy state of relaxation and calm! much like a hot shower, bath, or jacuzzi. It stops my mind from racing. Little splurges for yourself are worth it. The productivity gained is rewarding.

Occasionally, I do an evaluation of myself and my situation. I ask,  What can I do to make things better for my family and me? I figure out a couple of things I can work on. I've heard that it takes 21 days to establish a good habit. I feel it takes a year of consistency. I take steps backwards. This year, I resolved to replace my critical spirit with an appreciative spirit. It has done wonders. Appreciation changes the outside atmosphere by encouraging more help from others. It makes me smile on the inside. I am truly blessed to be living in America, where I can get help with food, furniture, and clothing, and where my children have the opportunity to receive a good education and I can receive the assistance I need.

Along with appreciation, I'm working on being prepared. I know I need to buy an extra charger and battery for my BrailleNote Apex. I applaud myself for buying an extra HDMI cord, which connects our cable box to my bedroom TV and the Playstation 4 to the living room TV. The boy I watch stepped on the Playstation 4, breaking my HDMI cord. I immediately ran to Dollar General. They wanted $14 for a 6-foot cord. I resisted the temptation for immediate gratification and turned to, which sold it for $7. We ordered the two plus an extra.

Zachary and I went to a church for a Cub Scout overnighter. I packed two comforters, a foam pad, and two light, fluffy blankets. We'd be sleeping inside; it couldn't get THAT cold. The temperature dipped. I was shivering, proclaiming,  This too shall pass. Next overnighter, I will bring snacks and more bedding.

As a loyal Comcast customer, I call Comcast about once a year to ask for a reduction in price. It gives me a few dollars in my pocket. It benefits you to ask what expenses you can do without. I know a woman who pays for a storage unit and has done so for over 30 years, and a man who paid for storage for 10 years. When he went through the storage unit, he found little that he wanted to keep. Is your stuff really that valuable? In the past, when I would hang onto clothes that didn't fit, I would eventually give them away and tell myself that I was passing the blessing on.

I recently discovered a letter from my health insurance company offering a financial incentive when you meet certain health care needs. My company gives $25 for a dental visit, which they put on a prepaid Visa card. This card can be used at hundreds of stores. You keep this card, and they load it as other health care goals are met.

I also discovered when I lost my debit card that I can call my bank and put a block on my card so it can't be used. I can call the bank back and have them unblock it when I find it. I always thought that if I lost my card, I would need to order a new one. I never did find my card, so I did order a new one. It's nice to know that in case of forgetfulness, I don't have to start from scratch.

My most exciting news this month is that I was gifted an iPhone 6. I was also gifted lessons from, which has greatly assisted me in learning how to use my iPhone. It is a learning curve. Why did I allow fear to keep me from something so life-changing and helpful?

Like our faithful reader Susan Jones, I plan to acquire the Uber App and be more independent. I am becoming proficient. I'm learning how to do things the hard way by entering text and exploring the screen and also the easy way by using Siri. My old self would have kicked myself unmercifully for not taking the leap of faith sooner. But now, I thank all those, including Susan Jones, who have been instrumental in my life by exemplifying the benefits of a smart phone. I am grateful that someone has given it to me and that I have the talent and perseverance to make it work for me. So, readers, thank you for your correspondence, encouragement, and suggestions. I hope to hear about your leaps of faith at . I can share them with other readers in the future.



by Karen Crowder

Since February 23, the northeast has experienced temperatures in the sixties and seventies: a foretaste of an early spring? The Lenten season begins on March 1. Daylight Saving Time begins March 12. Saint Patrick's Day is on March 17.


This month has two recipes, one for Welsh Rarebit and one for Fabulous Crescent Rolls.

Welsh rarebit was served at Perkins as a light supper dish. I liked it, finding the recipe I use today in the transcribed Braille cookbook Aunt Sammy's Radio Recipes. It was written in 1931, during the Great Depression. I hope this book is still available in print, but to my knowledge it may no longer be available in Braille.


The crescent roll recipe is from the cookbook Homemade, available in Braille and digital cartridge.



A. Old Fashioned Welsh Rarebit

B. Fabulous Crescent Rolls

A. Old Fashioned Welsh Rarebit

 I have made changes to the original recipe, adding Worcestershire sauce, more prepared mustard, and optional catsup and American cheese. My guests and my husband all loved it. Paired with salad and fruit, it makes a light, nutritious lunch or supper on cool or warm evenings.


Four tablespoons flour

Four tablespoons butter or margarine

Two cups whole milk

Dashes of Worcestershire sauce

Prepared mustard

Catsup (optional)

Four to six slices deluxe American cheese. (A supermarket brand is all right.)

Four ounces sharp cheddar cheese (half of an 8-ounce block)

One large egg

Four slices buttered toast

Tomato (optional).


In a 3-quart saucepan, melt butter on low heat. After 5 minutes, turn burner off and add flour. Whisk butter and flour together until mixture is smooth. This should take 30 seconds. Add milk.

Stir sauce infrequently on low heat for 25 minutes. Add Worcestershire sauce, mustard, and optional catsup. Turn off heat, then add broken"up the American and cheddar cheese. The cheese will take 10 minutes to melt on low heat. Stir infrequently with a wooden spoon.

Break room"temperature egg into a small glass bowl. Add one-fourth cup warm cheese mixture. Beat mixture with a fork for 1 minute. Add it to the simmering cheese sauce. Stir with a metal or plastic stirring spoon. When you feel the sauce thickening, immediately turn off the heat.


Serve Welsh rarebit over broken-up buttered toast accompanied by a green salad and strawberries. Your family and friends will keep requesting this dish.



B. Fabulous Crescent Rolls

These are the best dinner rolls I have ever made. I discovered this recipe when reading Homemade in 2011. I made the rolls Thanksgiving Eve. Every one who has tasted them loves their tender texture and buttery flavor.

I have made changes to the original recipe, adding extra water flour and butter.


Two sticks butter

One cup whole milk
Three large eggs

One-half cup granulated sugar

Six and one-quarter cups flour

One teaspoon salt

One package standard active dry yeast

One-half cup water

One tablespoon sugar


In a large mixer bowl, put one stick of butter. While allowing butter to soften, microwave water in small glass bowl for 40 seconds. After one minute, add one tablespoon sugar to very warm water. Add dry yeast and stir. Allow it to dissolve for 8 minutes. If yeast foams, it is alive. Measure flour into a medium sized plastic or metal bowl.


Microwave milk for 40 seconds. Add sugar and milk to butter. Stir for a minute with a wooden spoon. Add room"temperature eggs and salt. Stir for another minute. Add yeast mixture and two cups flour. Stir for two minutes, then add two cups of flour. The roll mixture will get progressively harder to stir. Add one and three"quarters cups flour, stirring for another minute. Put mixer bowl under the mixer while attaching kneading hook. Turn mixer onto low/medium speed. Allow mixer to knead roll dough for five minutes. If the dough feels too sticky, add rest of flour. Knead on medium speed for three minutes. It should spring back and feel smooth. After turning the mixer off, grease another large stainless steel mixing bowl with butter. Place roll dough in greased bowl. Grease dough with butter.


Cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Put covered bowl in oven on lowest rack. Allow dough to rise for one and three-quarters to two and one-half hours. Check infrequently. The dough has risen enough when it pushes against the plastic wrap. It is ready for the next step.


Flour a silicone baking board or wooden pastry board. Remove plastic wrap and place bowl on counter. In a glass soup bowl, microwave almost one stick of butter for 40 seconds. Punch dough down. Place half of dough on floured baking or pastry board. Flour the dough. With rolling pin, roll dough in to an oblong. With a biscuit cutter, cut dough into rounds. Brush each round with melted butter. Roll each one up. Place each roll on a foil-lined cookie sheet. Repeat this procedure with both halves of roll dough, brushing each one with melted butter. Drizzle leftover  butter on rolls. You should have approximately 44 to 46 rolls.

Cover baking sheet with plastic wrap. Allow roll dough to rise for an hour and a half on low rack of oven. When rolls push against the plastic wrap, they are ready to be baked. Put baking sheet on counter, removing plastic wrap. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Bake rolls for 22 minutes. If you can resist, wait until rolls cool before sampling them.

Freeze extra rolls in quart or half-gallon Ziploc bags. Refrigerate rest of crescent rolls in half-gallon Ziploc bags. Crescent rolls are delicious with chowder main dishes, with coffee for breakfast, or as a snack.

I hope Consumer Vision readers enjoy this lovely month with spring's arrival. Longer days, melodies of birds, and blooming flowers bring Americans hope. Let us keep praying for a more peaceful and civil country and world.



By Roanna Bacchus

In today's society, individuals with disabilities face many setbacks and challenges. They are often discouraged when trying to lead independent and productive lives. Blind students are often asked to use technology that is inaccessible to the visually impaired. As a recent college graduate, I have encountered many obstacles throughout my college journey. They have provided me with opportunities to advocate for myself and ask for things that I needed. This article will discuss some of those challenges and highlight my steps toward independence from my childhood in Boston to pursuing a bachelor's degree and being deterred by the Division of Blind Services, who refused to pay for my courses at the undergraduate level.

I was born in the winter of 1970 in Boston, Massachusetts, at Boston City Hospital. I was born four months premature and weighed one pound, nine ounces. I spent the first six months of my life in the hospital and received too much oxygen. My lungs were not developed properly, causing one of them to collapse, and as a result, I was blind. As a toddler, I attended the Early Intervention program at the world-renowned Perkins School for the Blind in Watertown, Massachusetts, where Helen Keller also attended. The teachers from this program came to my parents'house to teach me the essential skills that I would need to succeed in life. I also attended a baby group at Perkins when I was little. After Early Intervention, I attended a preschool in Boston, where I was exposed to an array of activities. They prepared me for the rest of my school journey, which will be discussed in the remainder of this article.

My quest for literacy began when I was five years old. I attended Lake Mary Elementary School in central Florida, where I began learning to read and write Braille. Braille is my primary medium of literary and written communication, allowing me to complete assignments and other job-related tasks. My teacher of the visually impaired (TVI) worked with me during the school day to learn both contracted and uncontracted Braille. In first grade, my vision teacher had me work with the Perkins Brailler on a daily basis. Eventually my school sent me home with a Perkins Braille writer so that I could complete my homework and bring it in the next day for transcription. In my third-grade year I began reading books in Braille. After I finished the books in class, I was allowed to take them home for further reading. Each night, I studied my flash cards, which allowed me to effectively learn the contractions for certain words. Because my family members were sighted and I was not, they were not aware of the kinds of lives that blind people can live.

My parents and sisters migrated to the United States from the Caribbean islands of Trinidad and Tobago when I was two years old. I have always attended public schools and been mainstreamed into the regular classroom. My parents did not believe in sending me to a school for the blind because they held high expectations for me, and the school for the blind is far from our home. They expected me to do the same things that my sisters were doing when they were five years old. My mom has worked hard to assist me with the completion of assignments and other activities. She also made sure that I completed all of my household chores and checked to ensure that they were done correctly.

My independence journey took off in June of 2014, when I was first taking classes at the University of Central Florida. During my senior year in high school, my teacher of the visually impaired worked hard to instill a sense of independence in me. I was only allowed to use sighted guides for the first few weeks of classes at the beginning of the school year. By February of that year, I was able to navigate to all of my classes independently. We also worked on heating up meals in the microwave and cutting bread, which satisfied my independent"living skills. My mom provided us with the meals on a weekly basis and allowed me to make my own lunch at home.

In the summer of 2010, I participated in the transition program for visually impaired teenagers. We were able to stay in the apartments located on the campus at the University of Central Florida for two weeks. While we were there, we learned about how to run a house and how to wash and dry our clothes. Each room in the apartment had a Resident Advisor and about five or six students that the advisor was responsible for being with at all times.

In college, my Division of Blind Services counselor wanted to pay for my Associate of Arts degree in General Studies. Before I began college in the fall of 2011, both my high school and college counselors at Division of Blind Services worked to make sure that everything was in place for me to start college. After receiving my Associate of Arts degree, I decided to further my education and pursue a Bachelor's in Interdisciplinary Studies. Unfortunately, I was told that I did not need a Bachelor's degree in order to get a job. However, I pursued my degree with the help of my family and paid for my courses with financial aid funds.

This article discussed my journey toward independence. As a recent college graduate, I am charting a course toward gainful employment. My family members have always supported me in all of my endeavors. I hope that readers will see that anything is possible for a blind person.



Here is the answer to the trivia question submitted in the February Consumer Vision. The first woman to ride in the space shuttle was Sally Ride. Congratulations to the following winners:

Jo Smith of West Dennis, Massachusetts

Jan Colby of Brockton, Massachusetts

David Faucheux of Lafayette, Louisiana

Roanna Bacchus of Orlando, Florida

Abbie Taylor of Sheridan, Wyoming

And now, here is your trivia question for the March Consumer Vision. What President designated February as Black History Month in 1976? If you know the answer, please email or call 508-994-4972.