Disabled American Veterans
Blind Veterans National Chapter
OFFICERS OF THE BLIND CHAPTER
Commander Eddie Humphrey
Senior Vice Commander Floyd Britting
1st Junior Vice Commander Dan Holden
2nd Junior Vice Commander Dennis O’Connell
3rd Junior Vice Commander Paul Kaminsky
4th Junior Vice Commander Dave May
Judge Advocate Gerard Boucher
Chaplain Tony Martino
Comrades , a short message from your commander. The BVNC is losing members due to their passing. So folks we need to start to put more effort into getting more members into our chapter. We are down to only 4 delegates and 4 alternates and may lose another delegate and alternate if we do not recruit more members very soon!
Commander Eddie Humphrey
Blind Veterans National Chapter
From Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki
WASHINGTON (March 13, 2009) - Following is an open letter to Veterans
from Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki:
"My name is Ric Shinseki, and I am a Veteran. For me, serving as
Secretary of Veterans Affairs is a noble calling. It provides me the
opportunity to give back to those who served with and for me during my
38 years in uniform and those on whose shoulders we all stood as we grew
up in the profession of arms.
"The Department of Veterans Affairs has a solemn responsibility to all
of you, today and in the future, as more Veterans join our ranks and
enroll to secure the benefits and services they have earned. I am fully
committed to fulfilling President Obama's vision for transforming our
department so that it will be well-positioned to perform this duty even
better during the 21st Century. We welcome the assistance and advice of
our Veterans Service Organizations, other government departments and
agencies, Congress, and all VA stakeholders as we move forward,
ethically and transparently, so that Veterans and citizens can
understand our efforts.
"Creating that vision for transforming the VA into a 21st Century
organization requires a comprehensive review of our department. We
approach that review understanding that Veterans are central to
everything VA does. We know that results count, that the department
will be measured by what we do, not what we promise, and that our best
days as an organization supporting Veterans are ahead of us. We will
fulfill President Lincoln's charge to care for ". . . him, who shall
have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan . . ." by
redesigning and reengineering ourselves for the future.
"Transforming any institution is supremely challenging; I know this from
my own experience in leading large, proud, complex, and high-performing
organizations through change. But the best organizations must be
prepared to meet the challenging times, evolving technology and, most
importantly, evolving needs of clients. Historically, organizations
that are unwilling or unable to change soon find themselves irrelevant.
You and your needs are not irrelevant.
"Veterans are our clients, and delivering the highest quality care and
services in a timely, consistent and fair manner is a VA responsibility.
I take that responsibility seriously and have charged all of the
department's employees for their best efforts and support every day to
meet our obligations to you. Our path forward is challenging, but the
President and Congress support us. They have asked us to do this
well-for you. Veterans are our sole reason for existence and our number
one priority-bar none. I look forward to working together with all VA
employees to transform our department into an organization that reflects
the change and commitment our country expects and our Veterans deserve.
"Thank you, and God bless our military, our Veterans, and our Nation."
Signed: Eric K. Shinseki
DAV Mid-Winter Conference of the Commanders and Adjutants Association
Legislative Talking Points
VA Health Care Funding Reform - 111th Congress
Strategy for 2009.
Support for ADVANCE APPROPRIATIONS by President Obama, VA Secretary Shinseki, HVAC/SVAC, entire VSO/MSO community and AFGE.
H.R. 1016 / S. 423
Veterans Health Care Budget Reform and Transparency Act of 2009
Beginning in Fiscal Year 2011, funding for VA’s medical care account would be provided one-year in advance.
Congress would still be required to conduct oversight on VA. It must debate and approve (and the President would have to sign) each “ADVANCE APPROPRIATIONS” bill as with all other discretionary appropriations bills.
Although the “ADVANCE APPROPRIATION” would be enacted one year before the start of the fiscal year, the approved funding would not flow to VA until the first day of that fiscal year.
The Government Accountability Office (GAO) would study the adequacy and accuracy of the projected budget and make the report available to Congress and the public.
The GAO reports would also include recommendations, if any, to improve the accuracy of the Model’s projections and the integrity of VA’s budget projection process.
Next steps - - - Hearing and Congressional Action
DAV GOAL: Enactment of bill to achieve SUFFICIENT, TIMELY and PREDICTABLE funding for VA Health Care.
Advocacy Needed NOW!
Blind Veterans, Please contact your congressional leaders, your Representatives and Senators, to support “ADVANCE APPROPRIATIONS” (H.R. 1016 and S. 423). This will not cost a penny more to do this, “ADVANCE APPROPRIATIONS”.
Remind your Representatives and Senators of their promise to guarantee VA Health Care funding.
Keep the pressure on elected officials to REFORM the flawed VA funding process.
Stress the need for a LONG-TERM, PERMANENT SOLUTION to VA’s funding problem.
COMPENSATION for LOSS of QUALITY of LIFE
The DAV believes a realistic increase in VA compensation raise should be made to bring the standard of living of disabled veterans in line with that which they would have enjoyed had they not suffered their service-connected disabilities.
The Veterans’ Disability Benefits Commission (VDBC) issued its report, Honoring the Call to Duty. Veterans’ Disability Benefits in the 21st Century, which identified eight principles as a guide to the development and delivery of future benefits for veterans and their families. One principle is that benefits and services should be provided that collectively compensate for the consequence of service-connected disability on the average impairment of earnings capacity, the ability to engage in usual life activities, and quality of life.
The current statutory basis for disability payments based on the VA Schedule for Rating Disabilities is an average impairment of earning capacity. Yet, service-connected disabilities can impede veterans from engaging in usual life activities and can impair their quality of life. Consequently, the VDBC recommended increasing the compensation rates up to 25 percent as an interim and baseline future benefit for loss of quality of life pending development and implementation of a quality of life measure in the VA Rating Schedule. In particular, the measure should take into account the quality of life and other non-work related effects of severs disabilities on veterans and family members.
The VDBC consulted with the Institute of Medicine (IOM) and Center for Naval Analyses Corporation (CNAC) on the loss of quality of life for service-connected disabled veterans. A chapter in the IOM Medical Evaluation Committee report, A 21st Century System for Evaluating Veterans for Disability Benefits, is entirely dedicated to addressing impairment, disability and quality of life, and recommended compensating disabled veterans for three consequences of service-connected injuries and disease: work disability, loss of ability to engage in usual life activities other than work, and loss in quality of life. The CNAC analysis of the VA disability compensation system found that the program does provide for reasonable earnings adjustments for most disabling conditions.
Additional, recommendations contained in the report by the President’s Commission on the Care for America’s Returning Wounded Warriors, includes quality of life payments to compensate for permanent loses of various kinds , as well as compensation for loss of earning capacity. While the DAV disagrees with this Commission’s recommendation for a new compensation structure for the newest generation of disabled veterans that would eventually eliminate VA earnings loss payments and shift to Social Security, it is clear that current VA disability compensation does not adequately provide for the full effects of service-connected disabilities.
Congress should increase VA disability compensation to include compensation for the loss of quality of life resulting from service-connected disabilities.
for up-to-date veterans’ issues.
U.s. Representatives Edolphus Towns and Cliff Stearns introduce pedestrian safety enhancement act
National Federation of the Blind applauds measure to protect lives and preserve independence of blind Americans
Washington, dc (January 28, 2009): Representatives Edolphus "ed"
Towns (D-NY) and Cliff Stearns (R-FL) today introduced HR 734, a
bill intended to protect the blind and other pedestrians from injury
or death as a result of silent vehicle technology. The Pedestrian
Safety Enhancement Act of 2009 requires the Secretary of
Transportation to conduct a study on how to protect the blind and
others from being injured or killed by vehicles using hybrid,
electric, and other silent engine technologies. Thirty-two original
co-sponsors have already signed on to the bill.
Because blind pedestrians cannot locate and evaluate traffic using
their vision, they must listen to traffic to discern its speed,
direction, and other attributes in order to travel safely and
independently. Other people, including pedestrians who are not
blind, bicyclists, runners, and small children, also benefit from
hearing the sound of vehicle engines. New vehicles that employ
hybrid or electric engine technology can be silent, rendering them
extremely dangerous in situations where vehicles and pedestrians come
into proximity with each other.
"The National Federation of the Blind appreciates the wise and
decisive action taken today by Congressmen Towns and Stearns to
preserve the right to safe and independent travel for the blind,"
said Dr. Marc Maurer, President of the National Federation of the
Blind. "The blind, like all pedestrians, must be able to travel to
work, to school, to church, and to other places in our communities
without being injured or killed. This bill will benefit all
pedestrians for generations to come as new vehicle technologies
become more prevalent. The blind of America will do everything in
our power to ensure its swift passage."
"The beneficial trend toward more environmentally friendly vehicles
has had the unintended effect of placing the blind and other
pedestrians in danger," said Representative Towns. "As someone who
taught travel with a white cane to the blind for many years, I
understand that the sound of traffic is critically important in order
for them to travel safely and independently. This bill will prevent
many injuries and fatalities while still allowing more clean vehicles
on our nation's roads."
"I understand the safety concerns of blind pedestrians with these
quiet automobiles; I have heard the same concerns from senior
citizens in my district, and I appreciate the threat to children,
bicyclists, and runners," said Representative Stearns. "I deeply
appreciate the support of all parties in supporting this important
The bill requires the Secretary of Transportation, within ninety days
of its enactment, to commence a two-year study to determine the best
means to provide the blind and other pedestrians with information
about the location, motion, speed, and direction of vehicles. Upon
completion of the study, the Secretary will report the findings of
the study to Congress and, within ninety days, establish a minimum
vehicle safety standard for all new vehicles sold in the United
States. Automobile manufacturers will have two years to comply with
the vehicle safety standard.
Caps mailing list
Perkins school for the blind: all we see is possibility...
"Let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind
nation's wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and
for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations."
President Abraham Lincoln spoke these timeless words at his
inauguration in 1865. Lincoln is among the most complex, most revered, and most studied individuals in United States history. The Braille & Talking Book Library collection contains a wealth of information about Lincoln, his Presidency, and his times. In commemoration of the 200th anniversary of his birth, many books about Abraham Lincoln are available to read in many formats.
Recorded cassette (rc), Braille (br), large print (lt), and
DVD (DVD) copies of these materials are available from the Perkins
Braille & Talking Book Library. Please contact the library to
order any of these items.
You can also see the complete list of the Abraham Lincoln
titles available through the BTBL on the website at http://support.perkins.org/site/r?i=4wpvxxh0ctzmkbmpjplwog
A LITTLE ABOUT THE AMERICAN COUNCIL OF THE BLIND
The American Council of the Blind (ACB) is the largest consumer-based
organization of blind and visually impaired Americans advocating for the rights of blind Americans. Comprised of more than 70 affiliates across the United States, the organization is dedicated to making it possible for blind and visually impaired Americans to participate fully in every aspect of American society.
For more information about the American Council of the Blind, and the
issues it supports, visit
or contact the American Council of the Blind,
2200 Wilson Blvd., suite 650, Arlington, VA 22201; phone (202) 467-5081
or toll-free, 1-800-424-8666.
The department of defense announced today, in collaboration with the department of veterans affairs (VA ), a process designed to expedite a service member Seriously injured in combat from military to veteran status, by waiving the standard disability evaluation system (des), resulting in receipt of benefits in three to four months, compared to a recovery and standard des process that would normally take much longer.
You can read the entire news release at
Purpose: to create a technology bill of rights for the blind that mandates consumer electronics, home appliances, and office equipment to provide
user interfaces that are accessible through nonvisual means.
Background: in recent years rapid advances in microchip and digital technology have led to increasingly complex user interfaces for everyday
products like consumer electronics, home appliances, and office equipment. Many new devices in these categories require user
interaction with visual displays, on-screen menus, touch screens, and other user interfaces that are inaccessible to individuals who are
blind or have low vision. No longer are settings
on the television, home stereo system, or dishwasher controlled by knobs, switches, and buttons that can be readily identified and whose
settings can be easily discerned, with or without the addition of tactile markings by the user. Moreover, the use of inaccessible
interfaces on office equipment such as copiers and fax machines makes these devices unusable by the blind and therefore a potential threat to a
blind person's existing job or a barrier to obtaining new employment.
This growing threat to the independence and productivity of blind people is
unnecessary since digital devices can function without inaccessible interfaces. Today text-to-speech technology is inexpensive and more
nearly ubiquitous than it has ever been; it is used in everything from automated telephone systems to the weather forecasting service
broadcast by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Indeed, a few manufacturers have incorporated this technology into their products to create talking menus or to articulate what is on the display; there is no reason why other manufacturers cannot do so as well. And
text-to-speech technology is not the only mechanism by which consumer electronics, home appliances, and office equipment can be made accessible to blind people.
Need for legislation: currently there are no enforceable mandates for manufacturers of consumer electronics, home appliances, or office
equipment to make their devices accessible and no accessibility standards to provide guidance to manufacturers on how to avoid creating barriers
to access by the blind. Congress should therefore enact a technology bill of rights for the blind, which clearly establishes that manufacturers must create accessible user interfaces for their products, provide a means
for enforcement, and establish standards that will provide meaningful benchmarks that manufacturers can use to make their products accessible.
Congress need not mandate a single, one-size-fits-all solution for all consumer technology. Rather any such legislation should mandate regulations that set meaningful accessibility standards, while at the same time allowing manufacturers to select from a menu of potential solutions that, singly or in combination, will allow blind users to operate
the technology easily and successfully. This will not only give manufacturers the freedom and flexibility they desire, but encourage
innovations that make consumer technology more usable for everyone.
Proposed legislation: Congress should enact a technology bill of rights for the blind that:
* mandates that all consumer electronics, home appliances, and office equipment be designed so that blind people are able to access
the same functions as sighted people by nonvisual means and with substantially equivalent ease of use; and creates a commission to establish standards for nonvisual accessibility of electronic devices
intended for use in the home or office. Such a commission should represent all stakeholders, including organizations of the blind;
manufacturers of consumer electronics, home appliances, and office equipment or associations representing such manufacturers; and experts on
universal design, electronic engineering, and related fields. This commission should have enforcement powers or be housed within a government agency having such powers (e.g., u.s. Department of Commerce), and should be authorized to reexamine and rewrite standards periodically, as consumer electronic technology continues to evolve.
Requested action: please support blind Americans by introducing legislation to create a technology bill of rights for the blind (or by cosponsoring
once legislation has been introduced) so that blind people will be able to participate fully in all aspects of American society. Increased
access leads to increased independence, increased employment, and increased tax revenue.
Government Programs Specialist
National Federation of the Blind
Phone: (410) 659-9314, extension 2240
Gathering the articles for the BCNC newsletters is not just a one man job. I want to thank Dave M. & Jerry B. for helping me out with this difficult endeavor. In the future, if anyone sends me articles please send it normally instead of all capitals. It would make my life easier. Send them to email@example.com and put in subject line article for BCNC. If need snail mail, my address is Dennis O’Connell, 303 Carnation Avenue, Floral Park, NY 11001-3435.
Again, thanks to Jim F. & Paul K. for sending out the newsletters on tape/print and on line respectively.
GOD BLESS AMERICA!