American Association of the Deaf-Blind

November 2009

In this Issue:

AADB in Action

Fall Dinner Fundraiser

The AADB Fall Dinner Fundraiser, held at Maggiano's in Washington DC, was a great success with a full house of approximately 80 people, including representatives from corporations, national organizations, federal government agencies, and universities, as well as a diversity of deaf-blind, deaf and hard of hearing, hearing, and blind and visually impaired guests.

Mike Mays and Signing Interpreter

Photo Caption: Mike May speaks with the audience about his experiences.

Our guest speaker, Mike May, CEO of Sendero Group, a company that makes the Braille GPS, delivered an inspiring speech aptly called, “There is Always a Way”. He presented on his life and exploits, including the time when he skied downhill at 65 miles an hour, and became the fastest blind person on skis. He gave the encouraging message that people with disabilities can do anything if they try it.

Jamie Pope

Photo Caption: Jamie Pope speaks about AADB's advocacy efforts with technology.

The fundraiser's theme was on assistive technology for deaf-blind people. Jamie Pope, AADB Executive Director, presented on AADB's advocacy efforts for accessible technology. The fundraiser raised approximately $7,000 in funds for AADB. More information, including a photo album and a partial list of AADB's Advocacy Activities in our program book will be avaiable soon on the AADB website.

Lord and Taylor Benefit Bash

Lord and Taylor Logo

A BIG thank you goes out to those who supported AADB at Lord & Taylor's Benefit Bash on Tuesday, November 10th. One hundred dollars was raised to support AADB! Over 15 non-profit organizations, 60 volunteers and 5000 guests participated in the bash supporting all the organizations at The Mall in Columbia, Maryland. The all-day shopping event included live music, free gifts, prize drawings, book signings, fashion demonstrations and a “Taste of Columbia” event where local restaurants provided free food tastings from their menus. Thanks again to those who supported AADB and participated in the event!

FCC Broadband Accessibility Workshops

AADB staff member Elizabeth Spiers was a panelist in two meetings held by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in October and November. The October meeting focused on providing information to FCC staff working on broadband accessibility issues, while the November meeting was a field hearing hosted by Commissioner Michael J. Copps at Gallaudet University in Washington, DC. The November hearing was held to solicit input from people with disabilities in the community on their broadband accessibility needs.

Ms. Spiers focused on barriers, opportunities and experiences that deaf-blind people have when using broadband services. She emphasized the need for affordable, accessible technology for deaf-blind people, as well as developing and providing services such as communication facilitators for deaf-blind video relay service (communication facilitators are people who can sit with a deaf-blind user and interpret a VRS interpreter's conversation on a TV or computer).

Randy Pope, another AADB staffer, engaged in a policy discussion at the FCC's October meeting with businesses and consumer organization representatives. He emphasized that deaf-blind people need to be considered and involved while developing and implementing policies for broadband access for people with disabilities.

Social Security Administration Update

The Social Security Administration must give the nation's 3 million blind or visually impaired recipients the option of receiving benefit notices in Braille or by audio computer disc, a federal judge in San Francisco said recently. Ruling in a nationwide class-action suit, U.S. District Judge William Alsup said that by sending notices only by mail and phone calls, the agency is violating a law that guarantees the disabled equal access to its programs. He ordered the government to make the additional choices available by April 15.

The case involves some of the 100 million notices the Social Security Administration sends each year to its 61 million beneficiaries, advising them of scheduled appointments, program changes, tax filings and possible benefit cuts.

Under rules authorized by Congress in 1988 and 1990, they can choose to be notified of agency actions by mail, with a follow-up phone call, or by certified mail with a return receipt. Those who make no choice are contacted by mail without a phone call.

The agency must inform all blind and visually impaired recipients by Dec. 31 that they will have the choice of getting notices in Braille or by Microsoft Word CD in mid-April, Those who want another option, such as notification by e-mail, must be allowed to request it and show why they need it.


We gave the wrong date for the Deaf-Blind Explorers announcement in our last issue. The Deaf-Blind Explorers will host a trip to Orlando, FL on June 20 to 26, 2010. The trip will include a visit to Disney World, swimming with the dolphins, and feeding and touching stingrays in their special pool at SeaWorld. For more details, contact Lynn Jansen at 513-242-4171 Voice,, or 513-242-4287 fax.

Our apologies for this error and any inconvenience it caused.

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8630 Fenton Street, Suite 121
Silver Spring, Maryland 20910

301-495-4402 TTY/VP; 301-495-4403 Voice
301-495-4404 Fax