The Consumer Vision

September/October, 2013

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

Telephone: 508-994-4972

Web Site:

Email Address:

Publisher: Bob Branco

Editor: Janet Marcley

CD Production: Allen Hensel

Email Production: Bob Branco and Janet Marcley

Braille Production: Perkins Braille and Talking Book Library

Board of directors: Clement Beaulieu, Darryl Breffe, Steve Brown, Lauren Casey, Dan Germano, Bob Hachey, Allen Hensel, Alan Soule and Gail Teixeira

Note: For searching purposes, three asterisks (***) have been inserted just before the beginning of each new article or section.

Table of Contents

For Immediate Release: NJ Senate Proclamation Supporting Service Animals

A New Opportunity Model for Employment for the Blind

A Letter from Brian Coppola

A Guide to Self-Advocacy

Community Notices (3 items)

Making a Difference in This World

Blankets of Many Colors

Consumer Vision Trivia Contest

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For Immediate Release


August 14, 2013

The Seeing Eye Applauds NJ Senate for Proclamation Supporting Service Animals;

Seeing Eye President & CEO Calls on NJ Assembly to Pass Dusty's Law

MORRISTOWN, N.J. — On Wednesday, August 14th, The Seeing Eye participated in New Jersey's first Assistance Animal Recognition Day, an event established through a resolution created by Senator Donald Norcross and signed into law last week by Governor Chris Christie. The proclamation highlights the essential role that Seeing Eye® dogs and other service animals play in the lives of New Jersey residents who are disabled and promotes awareness of the rights of persons with disabilities to be accompanied by their service animals in public places.

The proclamation also highlights the need for pet owners to control their animals in the presence of service animals and for local governments and law enforcement agencies to step up their efforts to better protect service animals. It comes on the heels of the Senate's passage of "Dusty's Law," a bill sponsored by Senator Anthony Bucco, and spearheaded by The Seeing Eye after a Seeing Eye® puppy named Dusty was attacked and seriously injured while walking with his volunteer puppy raiser. Dusty was unable to complete Seeing Eye dog training due to the psychological damage caused by the attack and his puppy raiser sustained permanent injuries in the attack. The bill (A-4105), which would penalize the owners of dogs who attack guide dogs and puppies in training, was passed by the N.J. Senate in 2013 but has yet to be heard in the Assembly committee for Law and Public Safety.

"The Seeing Eye applauds the efforts of Senator Norcross and the New Jersey legislature for designating the second Wednesday of every August as Assistance Animal Recognition Day," said Seeing Eye President & CEO Jim Kutsch. "It is our hope that the New Jersey Assembly will follow the Senate's lead by hearing and passing Dusty's Law, which would offer real protection to guide dogs and puppies in training."

The proclamation also alerts the public to the harm that can be caused when pet owners misrepresent their dogs as legitimate service animals. New Jersey is one of the few states that makes it a crime to misrepresent pets as service animals. Each month many businesses contact The Seeing Eye to express concern about customers fraudulently claiming they have the right to be accompanied by their pets or emotional-support animals. These pets are often reported to be disruptive and poorly behaved, jeopardizing the access rights of those individuals who truly rely on their dogs to live independently.

"Although pet owners may enjoy having their dogs with them everywhere they go, the experience may not be as pleasurable for the dog," cautioned Peggy Gibbon, Director of Canine Development at The Seeing Eye. "Without the benefit of extensive preparation and training like that given to Seeing Eye® dogs, an ordinarily well-behaved pet dog can quickly become stressed or fearful when forced to go into an unfamiliar setting."

Established in 1929, The Seeing Eye provides specially bred and trained dogs to guide people who are blind. Seeing Eye® dog users experience greatly enhanced mobility and independence, allowing them to retain their active lifestyles despite blindness. The Seeing Eye is a philanthropy supported by contributions from individuals, corporations and foundations, bequests, and other planned gifts.

The Seeing Eye is a trademarked name and can only be used to describe the dogs bred and trained at the school's facilities in Morristown, N.J. If you would like more information on The Seeing Eye, please visit the website at, email or call (973) 539-4425.

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A New Opportunity Model for Employment for the Blind

by Daniel Aronoff

Have you ever realized all of the incredible ways in which the rights and abilities of people who are visually impaired have evolved over the past centuries? As someone who is totally blind, I have studied the history of people with disabilities and it is refreshing to discover how many privileges we possess nowadays. In most areas of life, including technology, travel, and cooking, we have the capability to perform on the exact same level as our sighted peers!

Even though times have changed, many attitudes and barriers have unfortunately not. I am particularly concerned with unemployment among the blind. I have been regaled with stories about how high this rate is for years and years and the reality has finally set in. Given that we have the required knowledge, skills, and assistive technology, what is the real problem? The truth is that it is multi-faceted.


1. While many people have the required education, there is a need to develop business skills and experience in such fields as sales, marketing, customer service, research, analysis, and social media promotion. In other words, when you graduate with any kind of degree, employers are already looking for people with years of experience that you don't possess. Many employers will choose to interview somebody else hoping not to have to invest time and money on training someone new because an experienced employee can hit the ground running on the first day.

2. In today's business world “what you know” is very important, but “who you know” can be a game changer! It is critical to increase your expertise regarding professional networking, keep making contacts with business people, and find opportunities to network face to face or virtually. Using sources such as LinkedIn is important, but understanding how to maximize this type of networking is vital.

3. Opportunity is critical. While many may have the education, the right skills and even the professional network, one needs an opportunity platform to get into the employment game. An opportunity platform and its creation are extremely important. Imagine you own a phenomenal Ferrari. Can you expect to get the best out of it using flat tires?

4. Perception and Awareness: This becomes the next important criterion to sustain proper functioning and keep moving forward. Many employers have never even met someone who is blind and therefore have no idea about how the blind can function. We need to show them that we have the potential to get the job done; helping employers see our value is the biggest change and paradigm shift to create awareness. In other words, our Ferrari is ready to drive but it often feels as if the road is unpaved with potholes and big bumps to navigate.

5. One needs to understand there is no job security. There never has been, and there never will be. However, a candidate who is blind can build employment security not just by learning skills in one or two areas but by gaining a well rounded experience. For instance, if a person who is blind has experience in customer service but can't find a job, the next step to employment would be to learn additional skills in sales, social media promotion, or marketing, which are associated professions. In this way, the person creates more value than any of his/her peers, which stands out to an employer.


Project Starfish America aims to offer a new type of opportunity: a socio-economic platform for talented individuals who are blind or disabled seeking to learn, be productive, make money, raise awareness, and be employable. Participants in Project Starfish work virtually from home via phone, internet, and Skype, and can be based anywhere in the United States. By joining, you can be part of a talent pool of management consultants.

Project Starfish offers a variety of hands-on opportunities which allows its consultants to learn. They not only discover how to focus on their best skills, but learn to work together as a collaborative team, giving them a feeling of working in an office. As you start to sharpen your skills, you are pooled into what is known as a shared service. In order to define this concept, think about a number of skilled resources which can be shared among multiple businesses. As you might know, small businesses and start-ups are America's biggest employer, and they either are not aware or can't afford the right resources. Businesses work and collaborate with the talented blind via the Project Starfish platform and can get the work done at an affordable cost because the same resource can be used by multiple companies. This is exactly what small businesses need because cash flow is their biggest challenge. This combination creates a win-win camaraderie between the blind and disabled and businesses.

Project Starfish hopes to change the face of employment among the visually impaired, and it doesn't need anyone's financial resources to run for the time being. Based on the value of the services offered, the businesses pay a token of money directly to the consultant. The potential to earn money ranges from person to person but on average you can earn $800 to $1,000 per month without losing SSDI benefits. If you choose to stay with the platform for some time, it will provide you with all you need to become employable with other larger companies.

To summarize, Project Starfish can offer a great amount of assistance to the blind through gaining experience, professional networking, augmenting your skills, acquiring recommendations, and proving to society that blind and disabled people have talents and capabilities to offer the business world. This kind of opportunity is excellent because it allows you to work from home, the amount of work is flexible, and the potential for learning is vast. I have found this to be a phenomenal work environment where people help each other, but most importantly everyone has fun and sharpens their creativity!

Project Starfish is looking for Consultants with a strong educational background, having some business skills and / or are willing to learn new things. They prefer that applicants are savvy in the areas of communications, technology, and social media. If you are ambitious and are willing to prove and improve your capability, Project Starfish is right for you!

If someone is reading this and feels shy about joining, we suggest talking to our already existing consultant Daniel Aronoff, who is also the writer of this article, along with the Founder, Subhashish Acharya (better known as Subs).

Please contact Project Starfish: email; phone 508.395.6379

Daniel Aronoff, LMSW

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A Letter from Brian Coppola

Dear Consumer Vision readers and members of the Federal Communications Commission,

My name is Brian J. Coppola, a 48-year-old legally blind and hard-of-hearing man, and had been that way since birth, due to my mother's contracting the German Measles during her pregnancy with me.

I am writing to bring to your attention the fact that blind and deaf/blind members of the community are not able to enjoy many facets of the American life, such as emergency information, entertainment, and even music.

As you know, the law already dictates that manufacturers of electronic products must make new models accessible. However, manufacturers argue that the FCC's rule-making process on forcing them to make things accessible for the disabled is "unconstitutional." So Americans with these disabilities are put into an inferior category by being forced to go to manufacturers of consumer electronics themselves to request specific, reasonable accommodations to make their products accessible to the visually or hearing disabled, or both.

The 21st Century Video and Communications Act of 2010 was intended to restore the requirements (which had been taken away by the Supreme Court) that major television networks provide audio descriptions of movies and other television activity. The Supreme Court, as you may or may not recall, had stripped the FCC's power to do so based on the constitutional technicality that the Act had not given that power to the FCC.

Now that Congress has given you people this power, our friends, the Consumer Electronics Industry and manufacturers of these products (such as televisions, radios and even the newer E-readers) should not be allowed to scuttle or skirt the laws through the power of lobbyists.

As part of the American fabric, the blind and deaf/blind members of the community need equal access to consumer electronic products that provide communication to the American public. The ADA provides us the right to live independently in a safe and effective manner. To have the laws enforced would be justice delivered and not justice denied.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me at (978) 702-9403.

Sincerely Yours,

Brian J. Coppola

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A Guide to Self-Advocacy

by Alan Dalton

I would like to talk about the process for applying for vocational-rehabilitation / social-rehabilitation services.

To gain services, a person must be found eligible, having some form of physical or mental disability that prevents him from gaining employment. Therefore, upon making an initial application, he is sent to a doctor or doctors that have contracted with the State to do evaluations or eligibility determination.

When it's been determined that he has a disability, an appointment is made to come into the nearest VR office to fill out the appropriate papers (application) or to write the IWRP (individualized written rehabilitation program). It's at this point that a counselor from the Client Assistance Program (CAP) is assigned. This person has been trained by the Government to understand programs and services, and to make sure that, as a person goes through the process, he gets the services he's entitled to receive.

The eventual goal is to gain employment and it is, therefore, very important to pay attention the what you write on the IWRP. If you mention something you might need, like a computer, further education, etc., it can come back to bite you in the rear. Hopefully, the CAP person will be on the ball enough to be sure the IWRP is exactly what you need.

Certain goals are set, and should be reevaluated at least once a year or every six months to be sure you are on track to meet your goals. Depending on these goals and various training needs, certain statuses are assigned, and usually given a number. (For example, status 32 means that you are job ready, while an 05 status puts you in some form of training. Note that these numbers have changed since I was involved, so don't quote me on the proper number.) Here again it is all important for the CAP representative to catch any problems, and to make sure that your VR counselor doesn't use the various statuses to make their case load look good for next year's funding, known as qualitative methods. (A person can be bounced around from status to status indefinitely, so be careful.)

Furthermore, once a person reaches the age of 55, VR might say that there's nothing they can do to help him find a job. (Keep in mind that the older you get, the less attractive you become to an employer. It costs money to hire and train, and if certain adaptive equipment is needed, again, additional expenses for the company.) However, Congress has provided a program for Americans over age 65 known as the Older Americans Act. This program must be used for people who are older and not necessarily looking for work, but have independent-living concerns. If you need a computer to stay in contact with your health providers or friends who contribute to your mental health, this act can help you a great deal.

Another portion of the VR is known as the Social Rehabilitation program. Under this program the VR will pay for you to have your teeth fixed, get new tires for your car so you can get to work, get a suit for the interview, etc.; and if the monies allocated for these purposes aren't used, the VR system might find other uses for them.

Rehabilitation and Social Security use the Eligibility Determination Unit (which is federal but is assigned to the State) for determining eligibility. In most cases, both programs will send you to a doctor or doctors of their choice, and the findings will be sent to this unit. More than 95% of the time a person will receive a letter of rejection when first applying for services. Don't take no for an answer. Appeal the finding, ask for a hearing, and usually at this level, Hearing for Reconsideration will get you the desired results.

Should you be unsuccessful at this level, there are other steps and procedures one can take. Besides the initial evaluation that was sent to the Eligibility Determination Unit, as more information becomes available concerning your disability and is sent to this unit, to your Rehabilitation Counselor, or to Social Security, this will keep your medical information up-to-date, and at some future point, could be the basis for reconsideration for services. Most VR Counselors won't tell you this — they have in most cases far too many clients . So that's why you must be in charge of your own future.

Another thing to consider is that Rehabilitation Counselors have these little boxes that they tend to put certain kinds of clients in, since they don't have a clue what to do with you when you apply for services. Your CAP (Client Assistance Program) Worker can't help you if you don't keep him informed of your goals and desires for employment, and you must ride herd on them if anything is going to be done.

However, the more you can do on your own, the better. Reliance on others never works, or rarely works. So you need to network yourself by joining various service clubs since members of these organizations are the people who own the jobs, know people that can help you, or even help to find the necessary money to start your own business. Also, the Small Business Administration has various programs that can help. They can help provide up to 90% insurance on bank loans. Another place to obtain starter money for your business is through a Stock Brokerage House. They have many clients that have money they don't know what to do with, and in some cases, if you present your business plan properly, they'll fund the project. I guess my main point is, you need to be in charge of your life and not rely on others to do it for you. In my opinion, if you're waiting on a Rehab Counselor to find you a job, you're not ready to work.

Also, if you expect to become gainfully employed, you'll need to think about some of the possible questions that might come up in an interview. The interview is not the place to try and figure out how to answer some difficult questions.Also, when you get out of an interview, your mind going a mile a minute, think about what was asked of you. Sometimes you may not have given a complete answer, or you think of things that you could have said but didn't, and now here's your chance. Write a letter of appreciation, thanking the interviewer for taking time out of his or her busy schedule to interview you for the position. In the second paragraph, in five or six sentences, state your qualifications that make you the ideal person for the job. Most people don't do this, or even think about it. But by sending this letter of appreciation, it keeps your name before the person doing the hiring, and may help in getting that job.

Interview question: When asked how you would do the necessary office paperwork, how would you answer? Don't just blurt out any kind of answer that might come to your mind. You really need to answer the question by asking a question; for instance, what is the office procedure, and what kind of records are required?

Once you know the type of information-recording required, you can then give a good answer, which hopefully you thought about before the interview. Nowadays, with the use of computers and by using both an ink and a Braille printer, a print copy can be made for the file chest at the same time you're making a Braille copy for your use as well.

How do you expect to get to and from work? If you can't get to work, you can't work. If you have to rely on another person to drive you to work, that can lead to problems. Suppose that person becomes sick, or has a family crisis, how then would you get to work. Are you near enough where you can walk, or is there a bus line or a taxi company? The ability to answer this question may be the difference between getting the job and not getting it. So if you haven't thought about it, now is the time. Once at work, in some rare cases, a secretary-driver is provided with either the employer picking up the cost or its falling to you. If you're only making so much money, you might not be able to handle that additional expense and you might need to look at moving closer.

Inner-office memos and office communications used to be done on paper, but nowadays most supervisors use e-mails, so not much of a problem. Hand-outs at staff meetings can now be read by the use of a scanner, in conjunction with your computer, so, again not much of a problem. If you're a secretary-receptionist and it's your responsibility to do the office scheduling, again, the computer is a valuable tool. The point is, think of these and other issues before going for the interview.

Proper dress is essential. Even though others in the office get off wearing blue jeans, you should not. Because of your blindness, you are constantly in the public eye, so being well dressed helps to take away certain attitudinal barriers, such as preconceived ideas of blind people. If you're messy at the table, try to improve your independent living skills; again, you'll be judged by how you do. If you're at a very important business meeting and half of your dinner is either on the table or in your lap, it doesn't make the right impression.

Remember, you'll be held to a higher standard than the general public. If you lack the necessary independent skills, this is the time to get them. You gentlemen, don't forget to shave daily, and you ladies, no low-cut blouses or short skirts. That's inappropriate. While others may be doing it, don't allow yourself to engage in off-color jokes in or out of the office, like after work with coworkers or going for a drink on Friday night. How people view you reflects on other blind people.

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Community Notices


August 5, 2013

CONTACT: Nancy Pelletier



Former Dartmouth resident publishes new book and launches campaign to promote hurricane readiness and a spirit of volunteerism

As hurricane season approaches, Cape Cod resident Nancy Pelletier has launched a new book and a new mission to encourage both hurricane readiness and a spirit of volunteerism.

When Hurricane Andrew hit Florida in 1992, Pelletier, then a resident of St. Augustine, Fla., knew that while her own life wasn't filled with abundance, those who had been hit by Andrew needed her more than she needed anything else. Hurricane Andrew had unleashed severe damage, including leveling the town of Homestead, Fla. Watching news reports of the devastation overwhelmed Pelletier, who packed her bags and headed to the nearby Red Cross office.

“I was overwhelmed by Andrew's destruction. Two hundred thousand homes had been destroyed. There was no food, water or communication. I cried every time I watched the news reports,” said Pelletier, whowould spend the next two months of her life working for the Red Cross on Hurricane Andrew's devastation.

Her stories are now captured in the recently published book“Andrew's Angels: A Common Thread.”The book is available online, in e-book and print, from Amazon and Barnes and Noble, also from Smashwords online, with various downloading options. Pelletier's book shares the tale of the destruction she witnessed, as well the heartwarming giving, gratefulness and bonding that happened as the area rebuilt.

“Working as a volunteer on a national disaster is the hardest work one could ever do for no pay and yet the most gratifying,” said Pelletier.

By publishing the book, Pelletier hopes to not only share her experiences after Andrew, whose 21stanniversary is August 24th, but she also hopes to use the book to launch a campaign that will help New Englanders be prepared for hurricane season and create a new spirit of volunteerism.

“National disasters seem to be happening more and more,” said Pelletier, citing recent hurricanes, fires, floods and even terrorist acts like 9/11 and the Boston Marathon bombings.

“I hope to inspire others to think about volunteering because there will always be disasters. We all need to be prepared, and we have a moral obligation to give back. As disasters become more frequent and more intense, there will never be enough volunteers to go around,” she said.

After working on the effects of Hurricane Andrew, Pelletier continued to volunteer for the Red Cross and received the Clara Barton Award from the St. Augustine local chapter. She has also volunteered at a women's shelter, helping to counsel victims of domestic violence.

For more information about”Andrew's Angels: A Common Thread,” visit Pelletier's website, where you can also get tips for the hurricane season.

Enjoy! (To Jo, Trey's story starts in Chapter 4 and finishes at end)

On Kindle - with color pictures

On E-Books - with color pictures

Print Book - Pelletier/dp/1484971949/108121&sr=1-2

Nancy Pelletier, C18 Shellback Way, Mashpee, MA 02649 phone: 508-274-0667

2. “Global penfriends” is a penpal site that allows people from all over the world to submit their ad and connect with other penfriends. Profiles are manually approved and if you activate your premium membership, you could access all features of the site. I highly recommend it to others because I have tried it myself. If you would like to have a look, the link is:

3. Join a Free Voice Chat Site on the Web!

Come check us out for some fun interactive games, classes, and general chat, free to all users!

Some examples of games are Sing It To Me Baby, Jeopardy, Family Feud, Slogans, Chain Reaction, Play it by Ear, Make a Scene, Alphabet Soup, Password, and lots and lots more. We also feature On Stage, where you can share your musical talents with us and listen to others sing and play instruments. We have Chess chats where you can learn anything from the basics to advanced strategies, and how you can get an accessible chess board and pieces. We also have iPhone discussions, Book Club, and guide-animal discussions. We have many more activities to offer, and we are constantly looking for volunteer hosts and hostesses for new games and events. So come join us for all the fun. Sign up for the daily announcement to hear all of the details by sending a blank email to:

Debi Chatfield

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Making a Difference in This World

by Sue Small

I have a disability, but it does not stop me from laughing, crying, or feeling loved.

I have limbs, but they do not work.

I have ears, but they can not hear.

I have eyes, but they can not see

I have a disability.

God has given me a brain to think with.

Remember, God has given me the window of my soul where Divine light shines through.

I am special; I can make a difference in this world.

I can plant a seed, and watch it grow.

I can feel the vibrations of music and dance.

I can hear the strong waves push against the shore.

I can have incredible thoughts.

I can see the flowers grow with their beauty.

I can have sensitive touch, and can do incredible things.

Even if I can't hear or see, God has given me talent.


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Blankets of Many Colors

by Karen Crowder

As a child at home during summers

We had light cotton/flannel blanketson our beds

On a cold fall or winter night, soft wool blankets made us feel comfortable and warm

In school, there were old-fashioned thin wool blankets

They did not give us the comfort of those soft blankets at home.

I missed their comfort and line-dried scent.

School spreads were pretty, but made of thin cotton

At home, heavy winter spreads kept us secure and warm,

Thin gauze spreads keeping us cool on hot summer nights.

At school, I missed the smell of line-dried sheets,

They often smelled of detergent and starch.

Yet we had comfortable latex foam pillows seldom found today,

In teen and early adult years at home.

Blankets were soft and comforting on frigid winter nights,

My spreads often changed looking feminine in pastel colors,

School sheets and pillowcases, were still thin cotton,

Topped with drab wool blankets and colorful cotton spreads.

At home, softness and comfort were what I anticipated on Friday nights

Ihave a thin cotton/flannel blanket for warm spring/summer nights,

When touching it I remember backyard grass and summer air,

A mother's love as she put summer blankets on our beds.

I have Pillows which aredown or fiber-filled.

Bedtime in winter or summer is colored with white, blue, rosy-red or pink blankets.

Soft wool fleece or velour cotton making fall/winter nights cozy and warm.

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Consumer Vision Trivia Contest

Here is the answer to the trivia question submitted in the July/August Consumer Vision. The character on General Hospital known as Spanky Buns is Tracy Quartermain. Congratulations to the following winners:

Jan Colby of Brockton, Massachusetts

Chad Grover of Horning, New York

Michelle Verrette of Fairhaven, Massachusetts

And now, here is your trivia question for the September/October Consumer Vision. What do Fred Ruthaford from “Leave It to Beaver” and Mel from “The Dick Vandyke Show” have in common? If you know the answer, please email or call 508-994-4972.

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