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Current Events

This is the part of the website where you will be able to find the most current information about subjects of interest to the National Federation of the Blind of Missouri.  Check this page often as it should be updated anywhere from daily to weekly.

8-12-17 Website Article courtesy USABA.org website (Link to Article)

Fitbits Help National Fitness Challenge Participants Set and Meet Realistic Goals

By: USABA Contributor

For Jenny Carmack, walking had always been a way to ease her worries -- that is, until two years ago, when she lost all of her vision.

“I’ve always enjoyed walking,” the 43-year-old said. “It’s been a stress reliever for me over the years. But it was causing more stress than it was relieving stress when I lost all my vision. It became intimidating just to walk a few blocks.”

Luckily, walking is back to being an enjoyable activity these days -- which is important, considering Carmack has been wearing a Fitbit and tracking her steps as part of the National Fitness Challenge. Slowly but surely, Carmack has gotten back out there, and it’s safe to say she’s no longer intimidated. If anything, others should be intimidated by all the walking she’s been doing.

The National Fitness Challenge has impacted the lives of more than 3,000 people who are blind and visually impaired. The goal of the Challenge remains the same every year: to raise the physical activity level of each participant, with the goal of engaging in 30 minutes of moderate physical activity and 10,000 steps a day.

Here’s how it works: Anthem Foundation awarded the U.S. Association of Blind Athletes grant funding, as it has for the fifth year in a row -- and USABA partnered with 13 agencies across the nation -- including the Missouri affiliate of the National Federation of the Blind, which Carmack is a part of -- to recruit participants and provide resources, along with physical activity opportunities, so that participants could reach their daily goals.

The technology plays a key role in motivating and tracking success. The funding from Anthem Foundation provided a Fitbit Flex 2 wearable device to each participant. The Fitbit acts as a way for people to monitor their progress. It also introduces a level of interaction with other participants, as the 13 groups are competing with their fellow team members on active minutes and number of steps each month.

Back to Carmack: Growing up legally blind, she was involved with marching band, and she tried her hand at softball. But really, she just liked to walk. So perhaps that’s why she was a perfect fit for the Challenge.

Ever since it started this year, Carmack has been an “extremely dependable and reliable” participant, said Robin House, the chairperson for the Missouri group’s sports and recreation committee, who has been with the organization for 20 years.

So would it surprise you to learn that initially, Carmack wasn’t so sure about the Challenge? In addition to the recent loss of her vision, which happened due to complications involving her glaucoma, Carmack also lives with a heart condition, and she wasn’t sure how well she’d do.

But Carmack was smart. When she set her step goal at 10,000 a day and failed to reach her mark, she didn’t lose hope. Instead, she tweaked the system to her advantage.

“It felt discouraging to never reach the 10,000-a-day (step goal),” Carmack said. “But then I learned you can move your goal around. So I started aiming for 4,000 steps a day. Now I’m up to 9,000 a day. And when I hit 9,000, that vibration from the Fitbit gives me that, ‘Yay, I did it!’ feeling.”

Carmack said she likes getting the feedback from the wearable device, and her goal is to hit 10,000 a day soon. And she doesn’t dismiss her heart condition. Carmack is well aware of how it affects her body.

“I have a hard time pushing myself some days,” she said. “And then some days I’m more tired than others. ... I just have to listen to my body.”

Throughout the week, Carmack walks with her husband or on the treadmill. She also tries to attend the group walks with NFB Missouri’s Lewis and Clark chapter.

Stephanie McDowell, 38, has been embarking on the group walks, as well. Although she too is visually impaired, tracking her steps and living in St. Louis -- just like Carmack -- the two are very different.

When presented with the opportunity to take part in the Challenge, McDowell didn’t hesitate.

“She has such a positive attitude -- it’s inspiring,” House said. “(McDowell has) faced adversity. But she’s always very positive and forward-thinking.” Both women “display such commitment to the Challenge,” House said.

It was easy for McDowell to commit to the Challenge because a lot of her steps come from a normal day’s activities. This is her first time wearing a Fitbit. She said she plans to continue all the walking after the Challenge is over. It helps that she’s not in pain anymore.

Three years ago, McDowell was hit by a car. A driver went up on the curb and smashed right into her. The crash broke McDowell’s collar bone and pelvic bone. It really hurt to walk afterward, and recovery was painful, she said.

On top of that, McDowell recently had two stents put in her heart.

“It’s been six months,” she said. “I get tired easily. But the Challenge has helped me get moving again. Being around others helps. And you’re supposed to exercise as you recover from a heart attack -- eat better and move around. So it all fell in line.”

McDowell said she was en route to a cleaner lifestyle, but wearing the Fitbit motivated her even more to keep up with the healthy habits. She either hits 10,000 steps a day or comes very close, she said.

Between the heart complications and the car accident, “I think I’ve hit my quota,” for unfortunate health events, McDowell joked.

“This has been really fun to see what I’m capable of and how well everyone else is doing,” she said.

McDowell has been involved with NFB Missouri for 10 years and lived with visual impairment since she was 14.

The NFB is headquartered in Baltimore. Missouri, an NFB affiliate, is then broken into chapters -- for example, the Lewis and Clark chapter in St. Louis.

This Missouri team is the only group of the 13 organizations competing in the Challenge with statewide competitors, House said. This marks the NFB Missouri’s first year with the Challenge, as well.

“It’s really going well,” House said. “We love it. For a long time, we wanted to do some work in terms of promoting fitness for blind people and our members. But we didn’t have the right framework to build any momentum. Missouri had its own (sports and recreation-type) committee that we’d just started in the fall when we learned about the National Fitness Challenge from USABA. We thought it’d be perfect. The Challenge gave us that direction and framework that we needed.

“We were kind of asking ourselves, ‘What should our purpose be?’ We didn’t get too far when the opportunity became available.”

House said the group just finished in third place for the third consecutive month.

“We’re proud of that, although we’d love to see the top two spots.”

 

6-16-17 Began training Page Managers

With the training of Page Managers you should start to notice updates to the Chapter, Division and Group pages.

 

6-15-17 Site Updates

Added standing meetings to "Calendar/Events" page.

Added Twitter Link to site.

Numerous minor site updates.

 

5-13-17 Site Updates

Added retirement video for Gary Wunder to "About NFBMO/President Emeritus" page.

 

5-11-17 Site Updates

2017 Convention Audio added to "State Convention\Archives" page

Updated "About NFBMO/Contact Us" & "About NFBMO/Privacy Policy" pages.

 

4-20-17 Site Updates

"About NFBMO/President Emeritus" page

"About NFBMO/Officers & Board Members" page

"State Convention" page

 

3-22-17 Urgent Message from Shelia Wright

Dear Federation Brothers and Sisters,

 

I just took five on our behalf. Can you help too!

 

There is a critical issue for this week. Please give this priority and call today. There are direct attacks on the ADA which was enacted to give us equal access to buildings, programs, transportation, employment, etc. Please call your U.S. Representative and the Chair. Below is what President Riccobono had to say in alerting us in his weekly message. Our lack of action helps the misinformed that want to destroy the progress we have made. It is time to speak out!

 

Shelia Wright

 

Call to Action From President Riccobono: Opposition to H.R. 620, the ADA Education and Reform Act of 2017:

 

As you know, we ask members from time to time to contact their representatives in Congress in support of legislation that would benefit the blind community. But today I am calling upon all Federationists to contact their representatives in opposition to H.R. 620. The phone number for the Capitol switchboard is (202) 224-3121. From there, simply ask to be connected with your representative. In addition, please call the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Robert Goodlatte, at (202) 225-5431.

 

Here are some brief talking points to share with the offices of your representative and Chairman Goodlatte: (1) the ADA was enacted in 1990, so covered entities have had ample time to learn about and comply with the law; (2) the ADA already contains an “undue burden” provision to protect covered entities when the costs of making facilities accessible are too high; and (3) Title III of the ADA (which applies to public accommodations) does not allow monetary damages for noncompliance.

 

The National Federation of the Blind has joined with 216 other allied civil rights organizations in opposing this bill. You can read our joint letter at https://nfb.org/images/nfb/documents/pdf/sign-on-letters/comments_on_hr620_03162017.pdf. If you want to know how this bill would affect us, consider internet access guaranteed under the ADA and our comments filed with DOJ last October <https://nfb.org/ada-title-ii-internet-regulations-joint-sanprm-comments>  as just one example. 

 

3-4-17  Exciting Announcement from Robin House

Are you interested in participating in the national fitness challenge?  The National Federation of the Blind is partnering with the United States Association of Blind Athletes and Anthem Foundation for the 2017 National Fitness Challenge.  If you are interested and can commit to the nine month program you will receive a free fit bit, T-shirt and will be participating with others in the state of Missouri who are blind. There will be other events that you will be asked to participate in. The cost to you is $10.

For more information, contact Robin House. My phone number is 314-265-6852. We are currently looking for 25 blind people in Missouri. If you are interested in a life-changing event, please let me know. Hope to hear from you. We plan to have 25 people signed up and ready to go by March 15.

 

3-4-17 Created a Legislative Affairs section on the Website & massive content updates site wide.

 

3-1-17 Social Media Update from Amy Plumlee

I would at this time inform everyone of the work we are planning on doing on our Facebook and Twitter page. The date for these will start today and go until April 6th.  First on our Facebook page we are running a contest through these dates above. The contest is simple. Whomever comments or shares on our Facebook post the most will win their money back for their registration fee for convention. You can earn double points if you share and comment on the same post. Anyone can participate except for social media committee members. Good Luck.

Second we will be posting #whyimafederationist stories on our Facebook and twitter accounts. Facebook will be a couple times a week and Twitter we are going to go for gold and do at least once a day for the month of March. To make this happen successfully we need you stories and simple reasons why you are a federationist. Example because the federation is my second family.

Third we will be promoting convention on Mondays post and on our live show every week. The live video show goes live on Facebook every Wednesday at noon. Please join us on the show. We share lots of information on the show about the federation.  On Friday we highlight a member of the Missouri affiliate. Its a time to acknowledge members and share your personal stories about the member.
If anyone has questions about any information above I am happy to answer.

Amy Plumlee  olddrumnfb@gmail.com

 

2-28-17 Legislative Update from Shelia Wright

It is great to be able to report today that SB 362 was voted do pass by the Senate Education Committee. This is a great start for the bill. Let's keep
up the momentum and see this through the next level.

Thank you to Rita Lynch, Kathy Hurley, and Ron Hurley, who sat through lots of hearing testimonies today before the committee got to the vote. I think
it is always great to have some interested parties in the audience and it certainly allows us to get the news of what happened more quickly.

Thanks to you that called or wrote members of the committee over the past week. Now a thank you to those senators could certainly be appreciated.

 

2-23-17 Legislative Update from Shelia Wright

On Tuesday there was a hearing for SB 362 on the use of the National Reading Media Assessment for determining present and future reading and writing needs of blind students. Senator Hummel presented the bill and Kathy Hurley and I testified in support of the bill. There was a brief testimony in
support of the bill from the Special Education Administrators. There was testimony in opposition to the bill by a lawyer representing several
Optometrist and optometry associations.

Below is a list of the Senators who serve on the Education Committee. Please contact them and urge them to support SB 362. While the bill does not have valid and reliable in the text as we had hoped, it does require the NRMA or a research base  assessment to be used in determining whether braille, print, or print and braille should be used if educators believe braille is not appropriate.

The committee meets on Tuesdays at 12:00 noon. It is possible they would vote on the bill this Tuesday, February 28. Please take a few moments to
contact these senators.

You can call the Missouri State Information Switchboard at 573-751-2000 and they will connect you to any of these senators offices. The email addresses are included in the list below.

Senate Education Committee

Senator Gary Romine, 3rd, Chairman Gary.romine@senate.mo.gov  Gary.romine@senate.mo.gov

Senator Bill Eigel, 23rd, Vice-Chairman Bill.eigel@senate.mo.gov  Bill.eigel@senate.mo.gov

Senator Maria Chappelle-Nadal, 14th  Maria.chappellenadal@senate.mo.gov  Maria.chappellenadal@senate.mo.gov

Senator Ed Emery, 31st  Ed.emery@senate.mo.gov  Ed.emery@senate.mo.gov

Senator Jason Holsman, 7th  Jason.holsman@senate.mo.gov  Jason.holsman@senate.mo.gov

Senator Andrew Koenig, 15th  Andrew.koenig@senate.mo.gov  Andrew.koenig@senate.mo.gov

Senator Doug Libla, 25th  Doug.libla@senate.mo.gov  Doug.libla@senate.mo.gov

Senator Bob Onder, 2nd  Bob.onder@senate.mo.gov  Bob.onder@senate.mo.gov

Senator Jill Schupp, 24th  Jill.schupp@senate.mo.gov  Jill.schupp@senate.mo.gov

 

2-17-17 Photo Added

From left to right Sarita Cann, Representative Brandon Ellington and Ruby Polk at the 2017 Legislative trip to Jefferson City.  Sarita is a constituent of Representative Ellington.  He has introduced HB 520 which provides for accessible voting machines in all elections.

 

2-16-17  Rittgers Fund section added to the State Convention Menu

 

2-16-17 Newspaper Article

courtesy of the News Tribune, Jefferson City Mo  (Link to Article)

Blind Federation members lobby lawmakers

Members of Missouri's National Federation of the Blind (NFB) chapter visited the Capitol this week, delivering their message that "low expectations create obstacles between blind people and their dreams. Blindness is not what holds us back."

Their annual lobbying effort involves informing lawmakers of some of the key, special issues facing blind Missourians that those with sight may not have considered.

Those include:

Requiring a research-based, standardized reading media assessment.

Missouri law says "no blind person shall be denied instruction in Braille," but it does allow school districts to determine whether print or Braille is "the most appropriate method for reading and writing for a given student," the NFB reminded lawmakers. "Far too often print is determined to be the most appropriate reading medium because the process used in making evaluations is flawed and because the strong preference of teachers and school administrators is to teach what they know and use the resources easily available to them."

However, if blind students aren't provided materials in Braille when they need them, the group said, there can be physical and health consequences.

"It is common practice for students with visual impairments to hold reading materials very close to their faces, and/or to hunch their bodies over the materials when reading," the NFB explained.

"In addition to the posture and other health concerns these reading positions raise, years of field practice and experience have demonstrated that youth who read print materials at very close distances suffer eye strain, headache, neck and back pain, fatigue, and diminished concentration, reading speed, and comprehension."

So any test the state uses should "ensure that children are evaluated when sitting up straight and with materials held or placed at standardized distances," the group said. "We urge the Missouri General Assembly to embrace literacy for the blind with the same vigor that our society embraces literacy for the sighted."

Mandating accessible voting in all elections.

The federal "Help America Vote Act" requires each polling place to have at least one voting machine, during each federal election, that can be used by a blind person without requiring the assistance of a sighted person.

The federation wants to see those voting machines used "consistently" in state and local elections as well as federal contests — and doing so would bring the state into compliance with two other federal laws, the Americans With Disabilities Act and the 1973 Rehabilitation Act.

Changing state law involving the identification required to buy alcohol.

Recently, the NFB told lawmakers, a blind chemist, 35, visiting from another state was not allowed to buy alcohol because Missouri law didn't recognize his state's non-driver license as being valid.

They said current law, which lists Missouri's non-driver license and a valid out-of-state driver's license as acceptable identification, should be updated to include valid non-driver's licenses from other states.

 

2-13-17 Jefferson City Legislative Session

On Monday & Tuesday (February 13 & 14) a large group of dedicated members of the National Federation of the Blind of Missouri convenes in Jefferson City to address lawmakers on our current legislative agenda.

2017 Legislative Agenda

 

Great News!  SUCCESS on the "Required Identification to Purchase Alcohol" agenda item.

From MO Revised Statutes

Identification, acceptable forms.

311.328. 1. A valid and unexpired operator's or chauffeur's license issued under the provisions of section 302.177, or a valid and unexpired operator's or chauffeur's license issued under the laws of any state or territory of the United States to residents of those states or territories, or a valid and unexpired identification card or nondriver's license as provided for under section 302.181, or a valid and unexpired nondriver's license issued under the laws of any state or territory of the United States to residents of those states or territories, or a valid and unexpired identification card issued by any uniformed service of the United States, or a valid and unexpired passport shall be presented by the holder thereof upon request of any agent of the division of alcohol and tobacco control or any licensee or the servant, agent or employee thereof for the purpose of aiding the licensee or the servant, agent or employee to determine whether or not the person is at least twenty-one years of age when such person desires to purchase or consume alcoholic beverages procured from a licensee. Upon such presentation the licensee or the servant, agent or employee thereof shall compare the photograph and physical characteristics noted on the license, identification card or passport with the physical characteristics of the person presenting the license, identification card or passport.

 

2-12-17 Online Convention Registration goes live.

 

2-4-17 Convention Archives Added

Convention Archives have been added under the State Convention Menu.

 

1-31-17 Launch of the new nfbmo.org site

I like to call it nfbmo.org 2.0.  This is a completely new, redesigned website.  I have gone to the drawing board and built the website from the ground up.  Changes include a more professional, cleaner look, an updated platform that will be used to support possible future upgrades, an easier to navigate layout and a large number of fixes.

 

Please take a look around and let me know what you think.  I can be reached at randycarmack@gmail.com  All feedback is greatly appreciated.

 

Randy Carmack, Website Administrator