NFB of Montana Newsletter – 2024 2nd Edition

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2024 2nd Edition – Blindness is not what defines us.

From the President’s Desk:

Hello Colleagues in Making Sure Blind Montanans Can Live the Lives We Want,

It’s been a whirlwind of late, and we’ve only just begun. Here are a few bulleted notes of interest from the NFB of Montana President’s desk:

  1. National Convention is just a short while away. It’s July 3-8 in Orlando, Florida. Remember one can participate in the Convention on Zoom. We have a large delegation of Montanans attending in-person. More are welcome. Go to nfb.org/convention to register.
  2. The NFB of Montana Board of Directors issued three members $750 each to offset their Convention expenses. Two of these Montanans received scholarships from the Jernigan Fund. The Fund helps fund first time Convention attendees.
  3. Speaking of scholarships, Montana enjoys serious bragging rights this year. We have two Montanans in the National Scholarship finalist pool. Hannah Clemenson and Henry Young earned their place in the 2024 pool of the Nation’s brightest and best blind college students. Hannah grew up in White Sulphur Springs and is a lifetime member of our Affiliate. She is studying in San Francisco. Henry originally hails from New Jersey, but he came to the University of Montana to become a Park Ranger.
  4. Plans are underway for our State Convention to be held September 27 and 28 in Missoula. The Convention Planning Committee will soon provide more details regarding this important event.

The NFB of Montana is a proud and effective influencer of public policies. We don’t always get what we want, but we stick to our efforts until society considers fully the voices of blind Montanans. If you want to help out to make the world better off for blind people than we found it, please e-mail or call me. I can be reached at:

From the Mind of the Editor:

Welcome to the second edition of the NFB of Montana Newsletter! I’m Ed Worrell, your editor, and I’d like to start by extending a heartfelt thank you to all our chapters for their diligence in submitting updates early. As I will be out of the office throughout June, we decided to release this issue a bit ahead of schedule. Ordinarily, our newsletter is published quarterly-around the first week of March, June, September, and December. Additionally, keep an eye out for potential special editions that may cover various events throughout the year.

Happenings Around the State:

Treasure State At-large Chapter

The Treasure State At-large Chapter, our statewide chapter, meets by zoom at 2:30 p.m. on the second Friday of each month. We want this to be a safe place for everyone to learn about the NFB of Montana and its unique and positive philosophy of blindness, programs, interest groups, and statewide and national outreach. Although it is intended especially for those persons who do not have a local chapter in their area, anyone is welcome, whether or not you belong to a local chapter or any chapter. We hope that by listening and learning about the NFB of Montana, you may choose to become more involved and perhaps form a chapter in your own locality.

We also use this time to become informed and involved in local, state, and national issues, political and otherwise, that interest or affect us. We often discuss technology and other barriers we have faced and how we have overcome them.
We all are at different stages in our lives. Our commonality is our blindness. We are a diverse group of people who meet to encourage each other to live the lives we want, knowing that blindness is not what holds us back.

Joy Breslauer, President – NFB of Montana Treasure State At Large Chapter


Electric City Chapter – Great Falls

The Electric City Chapter had its first meeting in quite some time. We used this meeting to catch up with both new and old members. We discussed changing the chapter dues to align with the rest of the state at $5 per year, reduced from $10 per year. As a group, we have decided to change the meetings to the first Wednesday of each month via Zoom at 2 PM. Our next meeting will be on June 7 at 2 PM.

Joy Breslauer, Treasurer/Secretary – Electric City Chapter – Great Falls


Helena Chapter

The fledgling Helena Chapter is blossoming and flourishing. We have outgrown our previous meeting place, which is a great problem to have. Our new meeting place is the Sarah Power conference Room at the Lewis and Clark Library. We will continue to meet at 5:30 on the fourth Wednesday of each month as well as offer a Zoom option.

We have a variety of new exciting projects. We continue to work with the City of Helena to establish a code enforcement system to ensure that residents and business owners abide by city codes such as requiring snow removal and ensuring that sidewalks are free of obstructions. The Secretary of State’s office has also invited our chapter to partake in a pilot program being implemented in Lewis and Clark County which is attempting to address the issue with the Express Vote machines that currently prevents us from selecting the party that we wish to vote for in primary elections without sighted assistance. We hope it goes well so it can be utilized across the state in future elections.

It’s not all work and no play though. Please make sure to join us for our social hour that occurs every second Sunday at Blackfoot Brewery at 12 PM. This event is open to all, not just NFB members.

Jacob Krissovich, President – Helena Chapter


Missoula Chapter

The Missoula chapter is small but active, and we’ve been busy gearing up to host the affiliate convention in our hometown this year. We’re looking forward to welcoming you to our beautiful town.

Our chapter has focused on advocacy in a variety of areas. We’ve produced a resource packet for those experiencing sight loss who are seeking support. It includes information about the federation as well as supports from around the state. We’ve also written a number of sections offering what support and guidance we might have wanted at the beginning of our sight loss journey, and this packet is being handed out at vision centers in our area.

Due in part to our continued pressure, the Beartracks Bridge on Higgins Avenue, a major pedestrian walkway now passable during the summer months by those traveling with a service animal. For the past several years, the surface temperature of this walkway was too hot for animals to walk on, but a new coating has made for a more equitable transit for all.

Much of the rest of our efforts are dispersed and individualized. Several of our members are peer advocates at Summit Independent Living Center, where they serve on various committees and task forces for the state independent living council. We’ve participated in walking audits for city planners, education and focus groups for future pharmacists and have provided accessible technology training as needed for iOS, Android and NVDDA.. A member of our chapter has also authored several articles on blindness and related issues for our local news organization, the Missoulian, and has had three run to date.

As we look to the future, we are looking forward to seeing more members at our meeting with our new in-person meeting time and location at the public library. We can’t wait to see all of you in September in Missoula!

Reggie Herbert – Missoula Chapter


The InSight Podcast

We are extremely proud to see the level of interaction the NFB of Montana is receiving with the newly started podcast. It’s been great recording the episodes, and we’ve had some excellent early guests. We kicked off the podcast with a short get to know the hosts, Jacob and your’s truly. then moved on to more important guests such as: President Jim Marks, and Reggie Herbert from the Missoula Chapter. Just today the 4th episode of the Podcast was released, covering the Medical Device, Non-Visual Accessibility Act, I finally got that one right! Jacob will be so proud. These episodes have been fantastic and very different from one another. This diversity highlights the varied backgrounds and experiences of our members. Now if we could just get Jacob to show up to the studio on time for recording, life would be great!

Ed Worrell, Co-host, audio expert, face for radio, and over all nice guy – InSight Podcast


Montana Book Readers Group

Hey!

There is a new way to spend some time with old friends on the third Monday night of each month. It’s a good way to make new friends, too!

The activity, quite shockingly, is really starting to catch on. We have discovered that folks really still like to read. Yes, that’s right, reading! How about that? And then, we actually like to talk about the stuff we are reading, or have just read.

So then, reading is the focus of discussion each month at 7 o’clock Mountain time in the Montana Book Lounge on Zoom. It is free, and it is hosted by At Large Treasure State chapter member, Rik James.

The program began earlier this year, and it has been fun. All are welcome. We discuss the month’s book selection, and any other thing that comes to mind, about the how, why and what we know and want to learn about reading. We will tend to have a nice variety in our selections, as there are so many different types of things to read and enjoy. Each book selection is assured to be available in the various accessible formats, such as the NLS BARD Mobile, Braille, Bookshare, Audible, etc. For more information, and to sign up for the club, send an email to Rik James – d28Rik at MSN dot com. Or call him at 406.451.1874. You can also send a note to your Editor, or any of the leaders across the state affiliate. Finally, this book of the month club, or whatever we finally call it, is not exclusive to blind folk. An interest in reading is the primary focus. And it is also not just for Montana folk. Although we may have to spend a little time helping the out-of-staters to learn some of our western lingo. C’mon, Pokey, let’s ride! (clippety-clop, to the sound of thundering hooves in the Zoom Book Corral.

BOOK SELECTIONS (So Far)

  • April: The Country of the Blind: A Memoir at the End of Sight, By Andrew Leland – 2023
  • May: The Boys in the Boat, By Daniel James Brown – 2013
  • June 17 (our next meeting): Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, By Robin Wall Kammerer – 2015

Final Editor’s Note:

If you have any suggestions for the next edition of the Newsletter, please send an email to: media@nfbofmt.org.

You can live the life you want; blindness is not what holds you back.

The National Federation of the Blind knows that blindness is not the characteristic that defines you or your future. Every day we raise the expectations of blind people, because low expectations create obstacles between blind people and our dreams.

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