News — Summer 2023

Photo of East Bay Center’s Blind Support Group
Photo caption: Friday morning in-person at last,
East Bay Center’s Blind Support Group

The East Bay Center for The Blind is owned and operated by people who are blind. We are a 501(c)(3) corporation; donations keep us going.

There is something good happening more and more at the East Bay Center. Laughter and a family spirit make the center a welcoming place. Come join us. Bring your ideas, joys and concerns. 

Who said change is hard? Our East Bay Center support group made the jump to Zoom from our in-house conference line. Now a few of us must learn to host meetings, so small chaos can be managed; we’re getting there!


The Vision Support Network (VSN) means the East Bay Agencies for the blind are in touch, collaborating to get services to people in three counties: Alameda, Contra Costa, and Solano. 60,000 postcards have gone out, a virtual open house has happened. The East Bay Center for the Blind joins Lions Center for the Visually Impaired and the Vision Resource Support Network making services available. Call one of us; you’ve called all of us. 


By Maureen Schulz

Well, it was a happy coincidence that our last program committee meeting found us coming into the center right in the middle of the bingo group get-together. In less than a minute, we became part of the game. The group was great. There was candy as well as other prizes. It was fun. 

During the summer, we are holding two Bingo games each month, on the first and third Wednesdays from 11:00 AM to 1:00 PM. Caller Supreme Lennon Humphreys and Vice President Connie Thomas set a festive friendly tone.

Regular weekly classes

Our exercise class and our ceramics classes are on summer break. We have held two brand-new nutrition classes taught by Kathleen Davis, which, if approved by the Berkeley Adult School, will continue in the fall at 1:00 PM, right after exercise. Member interest is what makes a class such as this possible; please help to ensure its continuation. If you’re looking for very current nutrition information, check it out.

We’re glad to say that David will keep the weekly meditation group going throughout the summer. Meditation happens Thursdays 10:00 AM to 11:00 AM. We welcome new members, both experienced meditators and those who would like to explore meditation.

We are also hosting a speaker series, which started on June 2, and will be held every first Friday of the month at noon, featuring speakers on a variety of topics. Our first presentation was on gardening, with speaker Porter Poirier, friend of David Cook. It was informative and delightful. Each person was able to experience plants, hands-on and close-up, while appreciating their fragrance and texture. We learned interesting facts about the plants as well. 

We invite you to stay informed about our continuing “lunch and learn” event series. Bring your lunch, join us! 

July’s installment of the speaker series was an informative presentation on “single payer” healthcare, by Ernie Isaacs.  This is such an important topic for us to learn about, which if voted in by Californians could bring good health care to all. We welcome suggestions for future speakers. Please contact David Cook with ideas; he is generously coordinating this project for us, and wants a variety of interests to be represented. 

It’s fine to read, fun to share impressions and ideas from our reading. Join us for book club, every second Wednesday of the month, beginning July 12th.

In August, we are planning a barbecue

The Solano Stroll occurs this year on September 10th, all day.  Please contact Mike Cole if you want to help plan or participate in this event.  

On September 30th, Fran Franks is planning an open mic event at the center, so think about music, poetry, comedy, or tell a story. Definitely think about coming to this open mic event; feel free to show us your stuff. If you plan to perform, you will sign up with Fran and she will put your ten minute contribution in the schedule, and you will not pay to attend. Adult beverages, and night club food offerings will keep us going. 

The Program Committee is gathering ideas for events and projects. We’d love to hear your suggestions. If members would like to plan an event, please let us know. Members of the program committee are Maureen Schulz – chairperson, David Cook, Barbara Lassen, Fran Franks, and Mike Cole. Here’s to a fun summer at the center. 

Individual appointments, with Fran Franks as technology instructor and Vileen Shah teaching braille, are available to anyone blind or partially sighted. Please contact the center at 510-843-6935 to arrange your individual appointment.

The East Bay Center for The Blind is made up of members and friends. Consider the Center when donating to do some good in the world; we have no government contracts, but what we do have is a spirit of support for each other. Feel free to recommend the East Bay Center to those who might be thinking about making a tax deductible donation to a local nonprofit. 


By Josh Miele

There’s nothing surprising about blind people building electronic devices and gadgets. We’ve been doing it since the earliest days of ham radio, and things have only gotten better since then. The new tools of the hobby robotics movement, like Arduino and Raspberry Pi, have made it cheaper and easier to build simpler and more powerful devices than ever before.  

The third Saturday of the month is Blind Arduino Day at the East Bay Center. These monthly meet-ups are part of a long tradition of blind people teaching other blind people how to design and build electronic devices. These events are fun and relaxed with people of all skill levels coming together to learn and share their knowledge. It’s an opportunity to get hands-on experience with all kinds of technologies, tools and techniques blind people use to independently build with electronics. 

We welcome folks of all levels of experience with electronics and all levels of vision. We’re happy to teach everyone the things we know and eager to learn more from anyone who wants to contribute. Sighted folks are always welcome as volunteers or if they want to learn more about blindness, accessibility, and design. We usually have snacks and refreshments; we always have fun and interesting conversations about blindness and building accessible tools and devices. 

To connect with our schedule and community, please subscribe to the Bay Area Blind Arduino Monthly Meetup email list by visiting 

This low-traffic email list keeps you up-to-date on any special blind Arduino events, schedule changes, or cancellations. Please subscribe to become part of the Blind Arduino Community!

What exactly is Arduino you might ask? Come to our meetup and find out!!


By Vileen Shah

Learn-At-Home braille classes

The Center is proud to announce the launching of our “Learn-At-Home” braille series. The first out of four courses in this series, Braille 101, an uncontracted braille reading course, is available starting July 1, 2023. Anyone interested in learning or refreshing braille skills is encouraged to enroll in these courses. The enrollment application is available on our website or can be filled out by calling 510-843-6935. This course allows you to learn braille while sitting at home with instructor help available via phone or email. An audio teacher will walk you through the braille workbook and your assignments will be graded by our braille instructor.

I Love Braille

You are all encouraged to participate in our weekly webinar, I Love Braille via Zoom or phone. Anyone having little or excellent braille skills is most welcome to login for I Love Braille. We meet at 9:00 AM Pacific time, for approximately one hour, and discuss various aspects of learning and using braille. I Love Braille is an international group in which participants login not only from various parts of the US, but also from several other countries. 

For more information on “Learn-At-Home” braille courses and I Love Braille, email or call 510-843-6935.

See you in September at the East Bay Center’s Open Mic event; display your favorite performance, ten minutes of fame in a nightclub atmosphere, dare I say dimly lit? Smile, be funny, be bold, and have some fun. Play an instrument? Tell a story? Sing a song? If you perform, you will not have to pay to come. Can’t wait!


We express gratitude to these wonderful people.


Dear Members, 

East Bay Center for the Blind is an organization, but more than that, the center is a community of people with love and respect for all who participate together to provide service and support for each other. The East Bay Circle of Men has shared our mission over the years. When problems have arisen, you have been there with your expertise, your time and your financial support. Our friends and volunteers help us in many ways; your friendship moves me to write to you with our deep gratitude for all you have done and continue to do. We will strive to be worthy of your support. The Pandemic slowed us down, but your loyalty has never wavered. Just now, Max’s campaign to get us up-to-date with our electrical systems and lighting, as well as the funds to cover the cost, are heart-warming – not to mention crucial. As you know, we receive no government help; we survive on fundraising and friendship. You are among our most steadfast colleagues. We are proud to share our space in some small return for all you do. 

The Board of Directors and our membership thank you most sincerely. 

Mike Cole, 

President and Executive Director, East Bay Center for the Blind Inc.

East Bay Center for the Blind
2928 Adeline Street, Berkeley, CA 94703
Phone: (510) 843-6935