Disabled American Veterans

Blind Veterans National Chapter

March-April, 2009 Newsletter



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

Adjutant/Treasurer Steve Moffitt



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


An Open Letter to Veterans

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.


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 more information for those who have a computer please visit www.standup4vets.org and www.dav.org

for up-to-date veterans’ issues.


Legislation for blind pedestrian safety

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

safety legislation."

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 up the
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 second
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 described
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


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



A technology bill of rights for the blind

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.

Contact information:

James McCarthy

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 navy1vet@verizon.net  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.