April News Letter 2019

Blindconnect Inc

Volume 20, #1 March, 2019

We thank our generous Donors
Doug Unger
Christine and Jim Wunderlin
The Kara Foundation
Erin and Ben Ericson
Alex Stone

Barbara Vivero
John and Joanne Townsley
CW Hoffman, Jr
Yvonne Townsley
Belinda Parica

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A Letter from Our President

Domino's Pizza — and many other companies — may soon have to change their
websites and apps to better serve customers who are blind. The U.S. Court of
Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, which applies to Arizona, ruled this week that
federal Americans With Disabilities Act protections apply to websites and mobile
apps. It sent the lawsuit against Domino's back down to the lower court in
California to decide what the pizza restaurant must do next to assure it is in
compliance.
The American Foundation for the Blind commented on the decision.
“As more and more companies conduct business online, it is unsurprising that we
are seeing a rise in these accessibility-related issues,” officials with The American
Foundation for the Blind told The Arizona Republic in a statement.
We at Blindconnect encourage low vision and blind Nevadan’s to speak out for
further and stronger inclusion such as what is mentioned in this timely article. As
the digital landscape ever changes, it is paramount that we continuously unite our
voices to be heard about what works for the sake of our independence. This value
of empowerment and many other reasons are why I am proud to be stepping into

leadership at Blindconnect.
My name is Raquel O’Neill, and I am
honored to introduce myself to you in
this first newsletter of the year as the
second president of Blindconnect Inc. At
age 14 I lost my eyesight from
progressive congenital glaucoma. Now I
live with my husband who is also blind
and our 6-year-old son who is low
vision. I share this so that you know that
our family lives completely independently because of the education, tools,
resources, and information that are made possible by organizations such as
Blindconnect. Not just any organization, but one that carries the value of blind
persons who teach and mentor other blind persons towards independence.
Therefore, I strive to carry forward the wonderful work that Jean Peyton along


with many others before have started. In this 21st year of our organization I
believe that we are at an exciting point for blind Nevadans with an ability to
increase access to services and I hope you will find the new format of our
newsletter informative and insightful.

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Updates

First and foremost, here are some updates relating to our organization. This will
be followed by an Angela’s House graduate highlight, a volunteer corner article,
and last but not least ways for you to stay connected and involved with us.
In the spirit of unity and advocacy, Blindconnect has recently joined with other
local blindness organizations including Nevada Counsel for the Blind, Nevada
Federation of the Blind, and Nevada Blind Children’s foundation to speak about
current pieces of legislation being considered in our own state. We are starting to
approach our assemblymen and senators to discuss such things as the importance
of having a school for the blind, protecting rights of blind parents, and ensuring


that previous legislation concerning prescription drug readers are upheld and
reinforced. All of these issues directly impacts our road to independence
therefore I attended our first visit to the legislature in Carson City on March 13,
2019 and am glad to report that it was a productive time met with positive regard
and respect. I look forward to many more meaningful conversations with our
representatives.
While spending a day in Carson City I had the opportunity to connect with some
of the blind of northern Nevada. This was a fierce group of folks who raised their
concerns for limited access to resources. I was able to encourage them by sharing
that Blindconnect Angela’s House graduated our first Sparks Nevada participant
and we look forward to continuing to invite additional participants from the north
to attend our training.
Blindconnect is excited to announce our newest project called, the family legacy.
Losing eye sight effects the entire family and every family has a story to tell of
how they have journeyed through vision loss overcoming the darkness to find
new meaning in life. Since we believe that every story is worthy of being told,
Blindconnect is partnering with Onyx Creatives to bring families together during
creative painting sessions. Once per month we are holding these painting sessions
where blind members and their family have an opportunity to display how they
see the world through tactile paints with essential oils. Family members are
blindfolded to create awareness in truly seeing things the way their loved one
does while expressing themselves through art. The paintings from this project will
culminate in our first gallery style viewing on October 17, 2019 known as, The
Color of Blindness. Stay tuned for further updates regarding this project and
please come in to join us for painting.

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Graduate Highlight!

Angela’s House training goes state wide with our
first northern Nevada participant.
Mayleen Hughes, a Sparks, Nevada resident, wife
and mother, has completed Angela’s House 90
hours of independence training program. Mayleen
has blessed our Angela’s House family with
infectious laughter, enthusiasm, and an opportunity
for us to introduce new curriculum focused on
parenting without sight. During her time with us at
Angela’s House, we held our first blind parents
workshop where we discussed important topics
such as, advocating for parental rights, explaining our
abilities to social workers, family members, and teachers, and how to bond with
our children through accessible games, administer medications, and match
clothing. Mayleen was able to involve her 5-year-old daughter and sighted
husband in her training process. She had mobility lessons with her daughter, and
even an outing where she caught her first ride on paratransit to Target for a
Starbucks visit and shopping experience. Mayleen says, “I used to think that due
to my vision impairment life will never be the same again. I allowed myself to be
engulfed with sadness and narrow-mindedness that had me do things with so
much limitations, uncertainty, and fear which often lead me in the corner of our
bed. Then I landed in this so called place Blindconnect Angela’s House. A month of
training, I regained my strength, courage, and confidence thanks to all the
mentors and staff who’s patience never ends. They imparted their skills and
knowledge. I left this what I call now, life changer place, equipped with new mind
set, friends and family. Who needs an eye to see?, to be a wife, to be a mother,
and to be a friend? I can be the person who I want to be and do what I want to
do.”

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Volunteer Corner

Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Ed Robichaud, and I am the new
volunteer coordinator/board member for Blindconnect. I have a retinal disease
called Myopic Degeneration. Essentially, this means I am extremely nearsighted. I
have lost central and some peripheral vision. I've had this condition from birth.
Growing up was always a challenge of adapting and adopting to my environment
and situation. I remember, as a youngster being told that I would probably be
blind by my mid fifties. Well, Dr Ford was very close to being spot on. At fifty
eight, I voluntarily gave up my driver's license. I also had to give up my job. So, I
found myself facing a "rock bottom", if you will. Along with all the emotions that
go along with loss, especially anger and depression. After a few months I realized
that I had a choice- Stay wallowing and stuck, or get moving. So, I chose the latter.
I have long recognized the healing power of support groups. I was also searching
for a professional, no nonsense place where I could feel safe and be myself. I
remember calling Jean at this place called Blindconnect. I was amazed she
returned my call within 24 hours. She encouraged me to come to Friday support
group to check it out. I had registered with Paratransit Services by this time, so off
I went. Well, the rest is history. I have been attending support group at Angela's

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House regularly for over 2 years now. It is here that I have found, in no particular
order, safety, professionalism, the business of 'say what you mean and mean
what you say'. A sense of like-mindedness in a positive environment. And perhaps
most importantly, a sense of hope, independence, and empowerment. Thank you
Jean!
With renewed confidence, I re-established connection with a homeless advocacy
organization here. Currently I am volunteering at both organizations in various
capacities. I have learned that vision loss does not need to equal the end of
independence. In retrospect, it took losing my sight to find my vision and focus. In
the next article, I will focus on what we are looking for in a volunteer for
Blindconnect / Angela's House. I will let you in on things the volunteers have been
up to, possibilities that exist for volunteers, and the process of becoming a
volunteer with Blindconnect / Angela's House. Until then, if you would like more
information on becoming a volunteer, please call Blindconnect at 702-631-9009,
and leave a message for me. Until next time... Ed

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Stay connected and involved

Many of our Angela’s House participant accomplishments along with current
information about events and resources can be viewed on our new Blindconnect
Angela’s House Facebook profile. Please search for us and become our friend.

We are only a call away. Did you know? Our phone number is a voice message
system where volunteers and Blindconnect board members receive and return
calls. You are welcome to call us anytime for resources or information by leaving
us a message. We strive to return calls within the same day/24-hours window and
if we do not reach you we will diligently call you back up to 3 times.

702-631-9009

Our website has a new and refreshed look with Blindconnect logo colors and
updated information. Thanks to our very own Angela’s House youth graduate,
Skye Dunfield, much needed photo descriptions were added so that when using a
screen reader we all can enjoy them. Please visit us at:
www.blindconnect.org

We set our sights on independence.

Truly yours,
Raquel O’Neill

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