« March 2022

Graphic image with the word March.Welcome to the ACB Maine Newsletter for March 2022

President's Message - Leona McKenna

When I was elected as President of ACB Maine last October, my vision for this year was to encourage the growth of our membership and increase the involvement of our members.  I feel that this is being accomplished by the combined efforts of many of you!

First, Our Membership Committee is working tirelessly to bring in new members.  We now have a total of 53 members, which includes 8 new members since last October!  

Second, We have had an exciting start to our new year with our sponsorship of Steve Sawczyn’s “Tech Talk” which began in February.  It has drawn much participation to a well needed platform for those who have questions about assistive technology.

Third, This newsletter has been a fabulous way to keep our members involved and informed!  Thanks go out to Roger and Carolyn!

Fourth, A summer weekend retreat is being organized to be held at the former Camp Molly Mollasses.  The East Eddington Church purchased Camp Molly Mollasses in 2013 and is now the Cross Roads Christian Camp.  This will prove to be a fun-filled weekend for individuals who are blind and their families.  ACB Maine has tentatively reserved the camp for the weekend of August 5-7.  Please Save The Dates! 

Fifth, Our website is being updated on a regular basis.  New content is being added, resources are being  updated, and the content is being  consolidated for easier navigation.  

Thanks go out to all of you who have made suggestions and to Steve Kelley, our webmaster, for all his patience with us.”

Last, but not least, ACB Maine is joining up with the Pine Tree Guide Dog Users for our Fall Convention, to be held in early November in the Portland area.  The committee is working on securing a venue for either the first or second weekend of November.  

Please stay tuned for future updates.  A great way to become involved in ACB Maine is to join one of our very active committees, which I have listed below.  If one of them sparks your interest, contact me and I will connect you to the appropriate person

Constitution and By-Laws 

Fund Raising


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Next Board Meeting

The next board meeting of ACB Maine will be held on April 7, 2022 at 7:00 PM.

All members are welcome to attend the board meetings.  Contact Leona for the Zoom link.         Inspirations1000@gmail.com

Honoring Marj and Hugh Awalt

Leona McKenna, President of ACB Maine, presents Marj with the  plaque honoring her Treasured husband, Hugh Awalt, for his dedication and generosity to ACB  Maine.  Marj is surrounded by loved ones, Mike McLaughlin, Andrea Salib, and Rachael Buchanan.

The American Council of the Blind of Maine dedicates our 2021 Annual Convention in honorable memory of Hugh Awalt.  Hugh was a Life Member who graciously and tirelessly supported the council throughout his decades of service.  We shall always be grateful for the commitment, loving support, advice and laughter that Hugh brought to our organization.  Thank you, Hugh.

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A ten minute video interview by President Leona McKenna with Marj Awalt follows on Hugh Awalt’s work and contributions with ACB of Maine and many of his community volunteer activities. 

 Video Credit - Jason Levasseur, Acoustified Media; Andrea Salib

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ACB of Maine has launched a new technology-related program called Tech Talk, hosted by Steve Sawczyn.  Tech Talk is a program that will allow folks to get technology questions answered, and have an opportunity to learn something new.  Tech Talk will take place via Zoom on the second Tuesday of each month at 7:00PM from February - July.  Information for joining the Zoom meeting will be sent out prior to each program.  

The sessions are a great opportunity for you to provide input on the types of topics you would like to see covered during future editions of the program.  Also, we’ll review how to effectively use the Zoom conferencing system which may be helpful to those who are new to using Zoom, and to those who just might want a refresher.

I hope you will join me for Tech Talk, where together, we can share information about accessible technology, learn from one another, and find ways to use tech in ways that can improve our lives. 

Tech Talk Dates:

April 12

May 10

June 14

July 12

To register for the program and if you have any questions about Zoom, contact Steve Sawczyn at Steve@Sawczyn.com  Phone:  (207) 458-8270. 

The summary of the first session by Steve Sawczyn follows: 

For those who were unable to attend, we do have a recording of tonight’s program, but we’re still working out the details on how to make that available.  As soon as we have all the technical stuff ironed out, I will share a link to the recording.

In addition to introductions, here are some of the topics that were discussed, with relevant links

Note, I do my best to keep track of all topics and resources discussed, but there’s a lot going on behind the scenes during the program and so if I missed anything, please let me know and I’ll include it in the next update.

Thanks again for joining me for Tech Talk, I look forward to our next discussion on Tuesday, 03/08 at 7:00 PM.

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TECH TALK - Summary for March 8

Steve Sawczyn and participants discussed the accessibility of iOS including some of the many things we can now do with our mobile devices such as:
• Reading books.
• Reading printed materials.
• The ability to control the iOS device using voice only.
• Resources for additional training.

Below are links to some of the resources we discussed.  As always, I have done my best to capture everything, but if there’s something I missed, let me know and I’ll make sure to send it out to the group in the next update. Gutenberg, free resource offering thousands of classic books.

National Library Service app which provides audio and braille access to the NLS catalog for NLS members.

Audible:  Commercial resource offering professionally produced audio books.  Audible is not free, but they do offer the ability to purchase books individually and also offer monthly subscription options to their service.

iOS Access For All:  Fantastic book for learning all things relating to iOS and its accessibility. The book is available in PDF and ePUB formats making it possible to read electronically on a wide array of devices.

Thanks again for joining me for the March edition of Tech Talk.  One final note, many of you have asked me about whether Tech Talk is recorded and how to get access to those recordings.  The short answer is that yes, the program is recorded, however, I am still working out the best way to provide access to those recordings.  As soon as I get that figured out, I’ll be sending out an announcement and will also include a link in these recaps going forward.

Again, thanks for joining me and for contributing to Tech Talk, I look forward to seeing all of you for our next edition on April 12 at 7:00 PM.  The information for joining will be the same as last time, however, no worries if you no longer have it as I’ll be sending it out again as we get closer to 04/12.  

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Sail Away!

Have you ever wanted to learn how to sail?  Would you be interested in being part of a documentary that embodies the capabilities of persons who are blind?

If you answered yes to the above questions then this could be a great opportunity for you!  

Around June 17, The filming will begin for the documentary that will capture the sailing abilities of people who are blind.  Sailing instructions will be provided by Albert Kolodji, a licensed Captain and one of the founders of Maine Challenged Sailors, a program that taught people who are blind how to sail.  Albert expects that this will take a 4 to 5 day commitment.  

If you are blind and able-bodied  and feel you would like to take advantage of this great opportunity, you can call Albert at 207-846-1066

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Reps. Maloney and Bilirakis Reintroduce Bill to Help Visually Impaired Americans


Reps. Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY) and Gus Bilirakis (R-FL) reintroduced the Medicare Demonstration of Coverage for Low Vision Devices Act. This legislation would help vision-impaired Medicare beneficiaries live safe and independent lives by creating a five-year national demonstration project to evaluate the economic impact of allowing reimbursement for low vision devices, which are currently excluded from Medicare coverage. Read the full news release at https://www.acb.org/news-release-reps-maloney-and-bilirakis-reintroduce-bill-help-visually-impaired-americans-0.

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