Fall 2007
Newsletter of
The East Bay Center for the Blind, Inc.
2928 Adeline St.
Berkeley, CA 94703
Phone: 510-843-6935
Fax: 510-843-6006
Web site:

Editor's Corner
By Daveed Mandell

Welcome to the Fall issue of the Center's newsletter. I hope everyone had a pleasant summer.

Thanks to Jan Santos and Dorothy Vallerga for offering important announcements, and to Preston Moses for sharing a joke and a quotation with us. I hope that the Holiday Season will inspire Center members to continue offering poems, jokes, brief articles, recipes, tips on living with blindness and/or visual impairment, informational items or announcements for upcoming issues. Please contact me via e-mail at, or by phone at 510-665-9260.

On behalf of the Center's Board of Directors, I wish all of you a very Merry Christmas, Happy Chanukah, and a fulfilling, healthy, prosperous New Year.

President's Letter
By Jan Santos

Dear friends,

It is hard to believe that the summer is over and we are again heading into the fall season.

I am pleased to announce that the new back stairs and railings are now in place, with just a few finishing touches yet to be done. It is a great relief to have new sturdy railings, and we now have a larger landing at the top of the stairs for easier entrance and exit through the back door.

I am most sad to mention that we have lost one of our very dedicated and active members of the Center. Dennis Skeen died on September 5th. This is a tremendous loss to our Center, and many people will miss Dennis very much. He was my personal friend of many years, and I will always remember him with love and appreciation. The Center was Dennis's second home, and I believe that he would be very pleased that we held his memorial here at the Center.

On a happier note, remember we need your donations of baked goods and hand-made crafts for our harvest festival in November. I look forward to our sharing time together at our holiday events, and I hope to see all of you at our upcoming business meeting in October.

Wishing you well,

-- Jan Santos

Dealing with Vision Loss book available

"Dealing with Vision Loss", a book by Fred Olver for people coping with diminished sight, offers information on how to manage life issues such as transportation, finances, independence, and entertainment. The book is available for purchase in large print, audiocassette, and digital download. For more information visit or e-mail the author at To purchase a book by phone call 888-280-7715.

Upcoming Events

Quarterly Business Meeting: The Center's next quarterly business meeting will be held on Saturday, October 27, from 1 to 4 PM. We will elect three members of the Nominating Committee, which will choose a slate of officers for next January's elections. Lunch costs $8 for members and $9 for guests. The menu is yet to be determined. Please reserve your plate no later than Wednesday, October 24.

Harvest Festival: The Center's annual Harvest Festival will take place on Saturday, November 17, from 12 to 4 PM. We will be selling holiday craft items and baked goods. Please call the Center if you plan to bring your favorite hand-made ornaments or other wares to sell. Please also let us know if you wish to contribute your most tempting taste treats to be purchased by members and friends of the Center. We have yet to decide what will be served for lunch. The $6 lunch plate will be available for those who order it no later than Wednesday, November 14.

Holiday Party: Our annual Holiday Party will occur on Saturday, December 15, from 12 to 4 PM. Details about the dinner will be announced later. We will sell craft items, and our chorus will entertain us with songs and readings. Our Holiday dinner is free for all those people who pay their $10 dues before, or on the day of the party. Please reserve your dinner no later than Wednesday, December 12.

Access the Internet via telephone

Customers of the company InternetSpeech use the patented netEcho technology to access Internet web sites and e-mail by phone. Users are able to browse web sites, send e-mail, search specific words, and buy items on the Internet. InternetSpeech offers several monthly service plans that range in price from $14 to $74 per month, after an initial set-up fee of $20 to $26. For more information call 877-312-4638 or 408-532-8460 or visit

Center Announcements

Nominating Committee: As most of you know, Center elections take place next January. Therefore, during our October quarterly business meeting (see Upcoming Events), we will choose three members to serve on the Nominating Committee. Officers to be elected next year are First Vice-President, Recording Secretary, Treasurer and three two-year term Directors. Please attend this important meeting.

Dues: 2008 Center dues are now due and payable. The Board of Directors has raised dues to $10. If you pay now, your Holiday dinner will be "on the house."

Center Closures: The Center will be closed for Thanksgiving on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, November 21, 22 and 23. It will re-open on Monday, November 26. The Center will also be closed for the Holidays, from Monday, December 17, through Tuesday, January 1, 2008. It will re-open on Wednesday, January 2.

Library: Center Library Committee Chair Grace Rodriguez reports that the braille and audio library continues to thrive and has become quite popular. However, she says some members are not returning braille volumes. Grace reminds the membership that if some volumes of a book are missing, the book is no longer usable, and the Center must dispose of it. Please let her know which books you are borrowing, and the specific volume numbers you are taking. Grace adds that nonmembers are welcome to read books at the Center, but are not permitted to borrow them.

2008 Braille Calendars: The Center has just received its shipment of purse- or pocket-size 2008 braille calendars. The next time you come to the Center, please feel free to ask for one.

HandyPerson: The Center is looking for an experienced and reliable handyperson. Payment is negotiable, and will be given on a per job basis. Please Contact Jan if you would like to recommend someone.

Braille Writers: The Center has a number of braille writers that need to be repaired. Please call the Center if you can help us find a suitable repair person.

Descriptive-video movies for sale

AudioVision sells movies described for listening by vision- restricted individuals. Titles are available in DVD, VHS, or audio-only CD formats. More than five hundred titles are available for purchase. Content ranges from comedies and thrillers from the 1930s and 1940s to recent art house and suspense releases. DVDs are sold for $29.95, VHS tapes for $24.95, and CDs for $14.95. Libraries that sign a minimum purchase agreement with AudioVision receive a 20 percent discount on retail prices. To purchase movies, visit or call 866-297-7623.

Q: If two wrongs don't make a right, what do two rights make?
A: An airplane.

Community Announcements

Bay View Chapter, CCB, Holiday Dinner: The Bay View Chapter of the California Council of the Blind will hold its annual Holiday Dinner on Sunday, December 9, from 4 to 8:30 PM at the Buttercup Kitchen Restaurant, 229 Broadway, in Oakland's Jack London Square. Menu choices are prime rib, champagne chicken, grilled salmon and barbecued ribs. Win door prizes and sing carols. The cost is $22.50, payable by December 1. No refunds will be given after that date. Call in your reservation to Ida Johnson at 510-655-1982.

SF Chapter, CCB, Fundraiser: The San Francisco Chapter of the California Council of the Blind will hold its annual Pizza-Bingo Fundraiser on Saturday, October 20, from 12-4 PM, at Western Park Apartments, 1280 Laguna, between Ellis and Eddie, in San Francisco. Pay $10 for pizza, salad and dessert. There will be raffle and door prizes. The top three raffle prizes will be $200, $100 and $50. Reservations must be made by Friday, October 12. Call Sandra Fancher at 415-474-3659.

Cell Phone Accessibility

Cell phones have revolutionized life for most people. But for blind and visually impaired persons, finding a cell phone that they can use is very difficult. That is why the American Foundation for the Blind has launched a cell phone accessibility campaign, called "255 Action", named for the section of the law that requires telecommunications access for people with disabilities. For more information, including what cell phone manufacturers and carriers are supposed to provide under the Telecommunications Act of 1996, contact Barbara Jackson Lamoine, AFB Policy Analyst, by phone at 202-408-8169, or via e-mail at; website:

Do Not Call List

If you want to avoid receiving calls from unwanted telephone solicitors and telemarketers, join the federal government's Do Not Call List. Call 800-382-1212, or go online at

HumanWare US Town Hall Meeting HumanWare US will hold a "Town Hall Meeting" at the Center on Thursday, October 11, from 4 to 6 PM, for current and prospective customers, to share ideas, comments and suggestions. This informal get together will give everyone an opportunity to speak with company personnel, ask questions and contribute ideas so that HumanWare US can better serve its customers and agencies. Company President Phil Rance, Blindness Sales Vice President Dominic Gagliano, and Chief Operations Officer Greg Brown will be present. Refreshments and light snacks will be provided. For more information, call Karen Myers at 800-722-3393, x227, or email her at

Dennis Skeen Remembered

We are sad to announce that the Center has lost one of its most dedicated members. Ronald Dennis Skeen died in early September at Alta Bates Hospital of heart failure. He was 69 years old.

Dennis was the devoted husband of Center member and senior computer instructor Connie Skeen for 32 years. He was always available for those who needed his help. A kind and caring man, Dennis did what he could to make life easier for a significant number of blind persons in the community.

Dennis was born here in the Bay Area and worked for 20 years as a fire fighter and skuba diver for the Treasure Island Fire Department. He had a flair for writing, and published a book titled "The Uncharted Sea", which was used in high schools around the country. In his spare time he enjoyed building furniture and playing the organ. In the 1970's he built an electric car.

Dennis used to bristle whenever he was reminded about the greed, poverty and vilence in our society. He felt strongly that people should undertake constructive efforts to make the world a better place in which to live. Dennis applauded grasssroots projects, such as the Center, which is run by and for blind people and those sighted people who support our cause.

For several years, Dennis was an enthusiastic member of the Lake Merrit Breakfast Club in Oakland, where he enjoyed clowning around with other members. Never was he prouder than when, earlier this year, President Jan Santos delivered a presentation on the Center's services and activities. Both Dennis and Jan received standing ovations.

Dennis loved to spend time at the Center. There was nothing he wouldn't do for its members and friends. When people visited the Center, he talked about its services, classes and social events with pride. For many years, Dennis played an integral role in the daily operation of the Center.

We will miss Dennis Skeen very much. May he rest in peace!

Do you have material you would like brailed? Is there a book, paper, document, report or journal you would like to read? I emboss printed material from disc or email. Transcription from dictation to braille or print is also available. Quick turn-around at reasonable cost. Call Patty Nash 510-521-2042 or email

"Two things are hard on the heart: running uphill and running down people."