Palmetto Blind

Palmetto Blind Spring 2017


The Palmetto Blind

The voice of the National Federation of the Blind of South Carolina


Raising Expectations:

Parnell Diggs being sworn in as a Social Security Administrative Law Judge



The PALMETTO BLIND, published twice a year in large print, in digital format, email and Braille by the National Federation of the Blind of South Carolina. David Houck, Editor. The National Federation of the Blind of South Carolina is chartered under the laws of the state of South Carolina to promote the spiritual, social and economic well-being of all blind South Carolinians. The state organization is an affiliate of the nation’s oldest and largest organization of the blind–the National Federation of the Blind.

The PALMETTO BLIND is the voice of the National Federation of the Blind of South Carolina and is available free of charge to any blind individual or member in large print, Braille online or in a digital format from the SC Talking Book Services. Other subscribers are encouraged. If readers desire to do so, donations to cover the annual subscription cost of $10.00 per year may be made payable to the National Federation of the Blind of South Carolina and sent to: Valerie Warrington, Treasurer, National Federation of the Blind of SC, 119 S. Kilbourne Rd., Columbia, SC 29205

Braille or large print copies may be retained for personal libraries.

Giving A Dream

One of the great satisfactions in life is having the opportunity to assist others. Consider making a gift to the National Federation of the Blind of South Carolina to continue turning our dreams into reality. A gift to the NFB of SC is not merely a donation to an organization; it provides resources that will directly ensure a brighter future for all blind people.

Seize the Future

The National Federation of the Blind of South Carolina has special giving opportunities that will benefit the giver as well as the NFB of SC. Of course the largest benefit to the donor is the satisfaction of knowing that your gift is leaving a legacy of opportunity. However, gifts may be structured to provide more.

  • Helping the NFB of SC fulfill its mission
  • Realizing income tax savings through a charitable donation
  • Making capital gain tax savings on contributions of appreciated assets
  • Providing retained payments for the life of a donor or beneficiary
  • Eliminating or lowering federal estate tax in certain situations
  • Reducing estate settlement costs

NFB of SC programs are dynamic:

  • Making the study of literacy and technology a real possibility for blind children and adults • Providing hope and training for seniors losing vision
  • Promoting state and local programs to help blind people become first class citizens
  • Educating the public about blind people’s true potential
  • Advancing technology helpful to the blind
  • Creating a state and national library on the progress of blindness
  • Training and inspiring professionals working with the blind
  • Providing critical information to parents of blind children
  • Mentoring blind job seekers. Your gift makes you a partner in the NFB of SC dream. For further information or assistance, contact the NFB of SC, 119 S. Kilbourne Rd., Columbia, SC 29205. 803-254-3777 or

Honors and Remembrances


Support the blind of South Carolina by Honoring or Memorializing a Loved One

Please apply my gift to:

National Federation of the Blind of South Carolina

Rocky Bottom Retreat & Conference Center of the Blind

Federation Center of the Blind

Send check payable to the one you chose, address and mail to:

(organization name)

119 S. Kilbourne Rd., Columbia, SC 29205


  1. To Honor Someone Special:

I am donating $__ in honor of __ who lives at (address)

Please acknowledge me with a copy of this honorary letter:

My Name


My check is enclosed. (Tax deductible)



  1. OR To Memorialize Someone Special:

I am donating $__ in memory of __. Please send letter to next of kin or:__

who resides at (address).

Please acknowledge me with a copy of this memorial letter:

My Name


My check is enclosed. (Tax deductible)


Thank You!


For more information regarding these organizations of the blind contact: or email or call 803-254-3777 for brochures.


Table of Contents



5 Longtime Greenville Chapter Member, Ruth Jordan Passes


7 Washington Seminar – Hard Work and Great Progress By Frank Coppel


9 47th Annual Statewide Seminar Highly Successful


12 A Festive Valentine’s Evening… By, Debra Canty


14 Over 60 Attend the March 4 Upstate Seminar! By Frank Coppel


15 NFB of SC 2017 Greenville Convention Details


16 Comments on Feeling My Way into Blindness By Donald Capps


17 Organization Helps Visually Impaired Citizens By Anna Brown


19 Rocky Bottom is Alive and Well By Frank Coppel


21 From the President’s Desk By RBRCCB Chairman Frank Coppel


23 From the Desk of the President Emeritus By Dr. Donald C. Capps


25 Successful Transitions: Lessons Involving Future Endeavors By Jennifer Bazer


27 Rocky Bottom Children’s Camp 2017—SOAR in Strength By Jennifer Bazer


28 From the Editor’s Desk By David Houck


29 Final Thought




“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. You can live the life you want: blindness is not what holds you back.”

Longtime Greenville Chapter Member, Ruth Jordan Passes


(Editor’s Note: Ruth Jordan was a highly valued Associate member of the Greenville Chapter. Even before she joined the Greenville Chapter, she was instrumental in the development of the Library of the Conference Center at RBRCCB. This is revealed in a reprint of a 2009 Spotlight article published in the Positive Note. This Library was named the Carrie Lee Cox Memorial Library in memory of her mother who was a blind braille reader.)


Ruth Ellen Cox Jordan passed away on Wednesday, April 5, 2017 at the age of 89. She was a longtime and valued Associate member of the Greenville Chapter of the NFB of SC. In fact, as a retired educator, an annual scholarship has been given in her name from the Greenville Chapter. Born in Pickens County, she was the daughter of the late Rev. John M. Cox and Carrie Cox King. A retired educator, she also taught piano lessons for free. An annual scholarship was given by the Grenville Chapter at the state conventions of the NFB of SC named in her honor. Current Greenville Chapter President and NFB of SC and Federation Center board member JW Smith, stated that Ruth Jordan was an active Associate member, participating in all areas of the chapter’s activities, filling in wherever she could. She participated in fundraisers and the attended the annual Fun Day Festivals at RBRCCB. Below is a reprint of the October 7, 2009 Positive Note Spotlight article by Dr. Donald Capps concerning more background on Ruth Jordan:

“It was just about the last thing I expected. An article on the beginning of RBRCCB was carried in the Greenville News about 27 years ago describing a new program for the state’s blind. Shortly after this article was published, I received a letter from Mrs. Ruth Jordan of Greenville which included a check for $1,000 made payable to this new state facility. The author of this gift and letter explained she had a mother who was blind for 25 years. Her mother was Mrs. Carrie Lee Cox and Mrs. Jordan wanted to give a living memorial in memory of her mother and also wanted to help in a program conducted for blind students and their parents. The NFB of SC state convention in 1982 was held in the Clemson House located on the campus of Clemson University. Because of her sensitivity and unprecedented gift which resulted from an article appearing in the Greenville News, we extended an invitation to Mrs. Jordan to be our Banquet guest at our 1982 NFB of SC convention. She accepted and as we had agreed to do so, we both arrived in the Banquet Hall about 15 minutes before the beginning of the Banquet. This memorable event occurred 27 years ago. However, Mrs. Jordan has continued to make contributions to both RBRCCB and the NFB of SC. For example, with Mrs. Jordan having taught school for 60 years, she is a noted educator. We suggested to Mrs. Jordan that she might like to contribute to the Dr. Sheila S. Breitweiser Scholarship as Mrs. Breitweiser was an educator and an administrator for 11 years at the SC School for the Deaf and the Blind. Mrs. Jordan promptly sent a check for $100 which is about 10% of the scholarship. In the late 1980’s, RBRCCB officials made plans to erect an administration building. We approached Mrs. Jordan with our plan to name the library in the new facility in memory of Mrs. Carrie Lee Cox who was blind and a school teacher. This project was completed in July 1991 when the dedication of the facility was held. Some 500 persons filled the Jack Garrett Memorial Dining Hall to capacity featuring standing room only. The late Governor Carroll Campbell was the featured speaker. Mrs. Jordan stood at the entrance of the Carrie Lee Cox Memorial Library and greeted hundreds who had the opportunity to see this special room for the first time including a large picture of Mrs. Carrie Lee Cox. About 10 years ago Mrs. Jordan wrote to us and suggested that we contact Mrs. Maxine Bock who was the administrator of the Bock Foundation in Chicago. Following her husband’s death, Mrs. Bock moved to Columbia and as Mrs. Jordan suggested, I contacted Mrs. Bock who met us at the Federation Center. She carefully listened to our proposal which consisted of financial assistance to renovate the Federation Center. Mrs. Jordan knew what she was talking about as Mrs. Bock promptly issued a grant of $50,000 to cover the renovations. The Board Room in the Federation Center is named in honor and in memory of Mrs. Bock who passed away a few years ago. Shortly thereafter, I requested Dr. Breitweiser, President of SCSDB to contact Mrs., Bock for assistance to the School. Shortly thereafter, the Voss Center at the School was created because of a large grant made by Mrs. Bock. Three years ago Mrs. Jordan joined the Greenville Chapter of the NFB of SC and is enjoying her membership. For the first time, Mrs. Jordan attended the Fun Day Festival at RBRCCB this year on Monday, September 7. Asked about her well-being, Mrs. Jordan stated she had just visited her Ophthalmologist and was told her eyes had not changed one bit since she was examined one year ago. She also quickly snapped that, “I feel good.” We sincerely trust that this highly intelligent and charming lady will be with us for many years to come for there’s no one who adequately measures up to this special lady. It’s an honor to spotlight this special lady who is both a very good friend and benefactor.”


Washington Seminar – Hard Work and Great Progress

By Frank Coppel


Editor’s Note: Reprinted from Positive Notes 1589 & 1590)


On Saturday, afternoon January 28, I traveled to Baltimore, Maryland to participate in a State Presidents Seminar which is being held at our Jernigan Institute. At the conclusion of that meeting, I traveled on Monday, January 30, to Washington D.C. to join the South Carolina delegation as well as a large number of Federationists from across the country to participate in the 2017 Washington Seminar. The other members of the South Carolina delegation who are traveling to our Nation’s Capital Sunday, January 29, are Shelley Coppel, NFB of SC First Vice President, Lenora Robertson, Ellen Taylor, NFB of SC Second Vice President, Debra Canty, Diana Singleton, NFB of SC Board member, Ed Bible and his wife Julie, and NFB of SC Student Division President, Alexus Blanding. Because of a severe winter snow storm last year, we were unable to send anyone to the Washington Seminar. I am extremely proud of the size of this year’s South Carolina delegation. The four legislative initiatives which are being presented to the U.S. Congress next week are as follows:

The Accessible Instructional Materials in Higher Education (AIM HE) Act

Electronic instructional materials have replaced traditional methods of learning in postsecondary education, but the overwhelming majority of ebooks, courseware, web content, and other technologies are inaccessible to students with print disabilities. The law requires equal access in the classroom but fails to provide direction to schools for the way it applies to technology. AIM HE creates voluntary accessibility guidelines for educational technology to improve blind students’ access to course material, stimulate the market, and reduce litigation for schools.

The Access Technology Affordability Act

Currently, blind Americans rely on scarce sources of funding to acquire access technology. By providing a refundable tax credit for qualifying access technology purchases, Congress can stimulate individual procurement of access technology and promote affordability of these tools for blind Americans.

Appropriation to the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS) for the Purchase of Refreshable Braille Devices

Established in 1931, the NLS provides its patrons with accessible format copies of printed works. With the latest innovations in refreshable Braille, it is now easier than ever before to put Braille into the hands of more Blind people. A one-time appropriation to the NLS will save money and lead to the proliferation of critically needed Braille material for blind Americans.

The Marrakesh Treaty to Facilitate Access to Published Works for Persons Who Are Blind, Visually Impaired, or Otherwise Print Disabled

Despite the ability to convert print books into accessible formats like Braille, large print, audio, and digital copies, millions of blind and otherwise print-disabled Americans are excluded from accessing 95 percent of published works. The Marrakesh Treaty calls for contracting parties to provide, in their national copyright laws, for a limitation or exception that allows for the reproduction, distribution, and cross-border exchange of accessible works.

These priorities will remove obstacles to employment, education, and access to published works. We scheduled our appointments on Tuesday January, 31, with our South Carolina Congressional delegation to discuss these four very important initiatives.

I along with more than five hundred Federationists representing 52 affiliates of the NFB gathered for the purpose of descending on Capitol Hill to discuss with their congressional delegation the legislative agenda of the nation’s blind. The 2017 Washington Seminar officially begins Monday January 30, at 5:00 p.m. with the “Great Gathering In” meeting. President Riccobono will conduct the meeting and there were be other Federation officials present informing participants on various NFB activities occurring during 2017. Tuesday January 31, was a very busy day for the South Carolina delegation as we met with our congressional delegation at various times throughout the day. Also, on Tuesday from noon to 1:00 there was a Don’t DenyAim High: Rally to Fight for Equal Access in the Classroom. Tuesday evening a Congressional reception was held from 5:00 to 7:00 in the Derksen Senate Building. This week the work we did on Capitol Hill will lay the ground work for passage of the four legislative initiatives which were outlined above. All of us need to continue to contact our Congressman and Senators throughout the year to ensure passage of these four legislative initiatives.


47th Annual Statewide Seminar Highly Successful


As the Saturday, February 4, 2017 Statewide Seminar was being gaveled to order at 10:00 a.m. sharp, the Federation Center of the Blind’s meeting hall was already filled to capacity. Isaiah Nelson had been working for the past two days preparing the luncheon being served at noon. President Coppel welcomed the large gathering and recited the One Minute Message. This was followed by the Invocation and Pledge of Allegiance. Columbia Chapter President Tiffiny Mitchell welcomed the seminar participants and spoke about upcoming chapter events. Center Executive Director David Houck greeted everyone and directed the membership as to where to find the literature table, turn in dues, bus tickets, etc. Speaking of Orlando Bus Tickets, Lenora Robertson encouraged everyone to turn in their tickets before the drawing at the end of the day. Thom Spittle spoke about the Auction as there was a variety of items ranging from gift baskets to cakes and food items and even a two night, three day stay at a Myrtle Beach Hotel obtained courtesy of Juanita Frink and the Conway Chapter. By the end of the day, $900 was raised from Auction sales for the Federation Center of the Blind. There were also several drawings going on as well as sales of T-shirts, coffee thermoses, soap, etc. by the NFB of SC and various chapters and divisions. Debra Canty also sold tickets to the second annual Sweetheart Dance on February 18 to raise funds for the Federation Center. The podium mike was passed around so that everyone present could state their name and the chapter they represent.

Commissioner Jim Kirby of the Commission for the Blind introduced Kyle Walker who reported on progress at the Commission. The Commission has been hiring new counselors and is looking at the Rehabilitation Center’s curriculum including GED services, cane travel and job placement for the blind. New 3D printers will be used for training and job placement or self-employment. The Commission is proud of its three Career BOOST providers including the NFB of SC which Jennifer Bazer will report on later. The Commission also will hire a consultant to advise those on Social Security and Medicare who are returning to work about their benefit changes as they receive increased income.

Scott Falcone, Director of the South Carolina Outreach Centers for the SC School for the Deaf and the Blind, addressed the audience concerning the SC School for the Deaf and the Blind. Additional funding was received for early childhood intervention for those six and under. Braille production at the Lee County Correctional Facility is ever expanding with 32,664 pages of braille and 4,017 pages of tactile production in 2016. Construction continues on the School’s Spartanburg campus and Summer Camps as well as the 4th annual NFB of SC Bell Academy which will take place this summer. The School’s master development plan is being updated to accommodate changes in programs and facilities needs for the future. Finally, outreach programs are growing rapidly as well.

Two prominent Upper Dorchester Chapter President Loretta Green and Sumter Chapter member Gary Engle, spoke on “Why I am a Federationist.” The audience enjoyed their presentations. Following this, the meeting broke for lunch as Isaiah Nelson and his kitchen crew had prepared hot vegetable soup, chicken salad sandwiches, cookies and drinks for everyone. There was also a board meeting of the NFB of SC during the luncheon. Ed Bible and Alexus Blanding spoke about their first Washington Seminar trip. Since Orlando Bus Fund ticket sales are one-third the cost to charter a bus, it was decided to equally divide the funds by the total number of those who got their way to the NFB Convention and registered and these funds would be dispensed by participants coming to Frank Coppel during the Friday convention session. The NFB Convention Delegate will be Frank Coppel and the Alternate Delegate will be Debra Canty. President Coppel reported that he learned much at the NFB State Affiliate President’s Seminar on chapter growth and membership development. We have narrowed down our state convention location to two hotels in Columbia, one in North Charleston and one in the Folly Beach area. A final decision and date will be set by the end of February.

During the afternoon session, Sandy Knowles, SC talking Book Services Director reported that Katlyn Hodges recently had a baby girl. Katlyn works at TBS. There are 5,000 to 6,000 Talking Book patrons in South Carolina with 700 new users, 1,000 BARD users and a circulation of 230,000 books in 2016. The Assistive Technology “Petting Zoo” is a traveling assistive technology hands-on exhibit. By the way, Talking Book Services is thinking of expanding their summer reading program for children into an additional adult version. Be watching for more details!

The Rocky Bottom Report was hosted by Chairman Frank Coppel. The new mattresses, box springs and mattress covers in the Ellenburg Lodge look and feel great. Other facilities beds will be looked at in the near future. Shelley Coppel reported that there will be a Southeast Regional training week for blind seniors at Rocky Bottom the second week in October. Chairman Coppel was excited to report that NFB President Riccobono wants to use Rocky Bottom for a training base for youth and adults. If we are going to take on these regional and national responsibilities, we need to take ownership of our facilities and get up there and take care of our property. More chapters also need to contribute financially to RBRCCB. Vice Chairman Ed Bible reported on the various people and groups which will be working at Rocky Bottom including Linda Bell, Mt. Hebron United Methodist Church, Boy Scouts Indian Waters Council, Liberty Lions Club, etc. Children’s Camp Director Jennifer Bazer reported that Summer Children’s Camo is scheduled for June 23 to July 1. Senior Blind Camp weeks will be May 21-25 and September 13 to 17.

Loretta Green announced a trip to the NFB National Center August 4-6, 2017. Reservations are first-come, first served on the 54 passenger bus leaving Columbia at 8:00 a.m. August 4, returning 8:00 a.m. from Baltimore on August 6 with activities and tours all day Saturday. The trip costs $100 per person. Pay Isaiah Nelson. Linda Dizzley is holding bowling for the blind on March 25 followed by a fellowship dinner and she also makes her own chocolate candies for sale. President Coppel announced the second annual Upstate Leadership Seminar to be held March 4 from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. in Walker Hall at SCSDB. Those attending need to get $10 per person to JW Smith, Greenville Chapter President.

Jennifer Bazer reported on NFB of SC Career BOOST mentoring program transitioning blind high school students from school to their educational and career goals. This program is in its implementation and expansion phase. As its Director, Jennifer Bazer has regional coordinators in the Upstate, Midlands ad Low Country and is looking for additional qualified mentors. If you are interested in mentoring, contact Jennifer Bazer at 803-252-5655.

David Houck, Center Director, announced that Computer training in the number of students has expanded, virtual training opens up new aspects of computer training off-site from the Federation Center and we are seeking new qualified virtual trainers statewide instructing adaptive computer technology. In spite of our offices being demolished last September by an auto accident, we did not skip a beat in services and restored the offices by Thanksgiving. It is to be noted that Career BOOST, the Cedar Springs Chapter, annual Children’s camps and monthly free white cane letters, all of these are designed to acquaint a younger generation of blind people with the Federation and recruit them into our local chapters. A poll of the audience found few attending the seminar to be under the age of thirty. We need a new generation of blind people to perpetuate the NFB of SC.

After the final Auction items were sold and chapter and divisional drawings were made, it was time for the Orlando bus ticket drawing. There was $3,761 in tickets sold and the Columbia Chapter won $300 by coming in first-pace, selling $1,128 in tickets, Sumter was second with $524 in sales and Rock Hill third with $414. The seller of the winning ticket drawn was Tiffiny Mitchell who won $100 and the buyer of the winning ticket was Anthony Doyle who won $300. The meeting adjourned with a number of members staying a while to fellowship with members they may not see again until the state convention later this year.


A Festive Valentine’s Evening…

By, Debra Canty


(Editor’s Note: Debra Canty is the Second Vice President of the NFB of SC and the Chairperson of the Fundraising Committee of the National Federation of the Blind of South Carolina.)


On Saturday, February 18th the temperature’s peek was 76 degrees on the afternoon of the 2nd Annual Sweethearts Dance and by the end of the evening it was a nice 56 degrees. The National Federation of the Blind of South Carolina (NFB of SC), Fundraising Committee hosted our “Second Annual Sweetheart’s Dance” at the Federation Center in Columbia.

As you entered, there were two balloon columns that stood 6 feet tall, one to the far left and one to the far right. They were swirled in pink, white and red latex balloons. The balloon columns were topped with large open heart red Mylar balloons which were perfect for taking memorable pictures on mobile devices and Facebook.

We paid very close attention to all the details beginning with covering the 8 guest tables with white, pink and red rectangle table cloths. There were also 8 jumbo twenty-four inch latex balloons in alternating colors of red and pink in the center of each table on a “Happy Valentine’s Day” heart center piece. Keeping the jumbo balloons secured were silver fringe and red sparkle heart tinsel tied from the bottom of the balloon to the red shiny table weights.

There were 50 in attendance including chapter presidents such as Tiffany Mitchell, Columbia Chapter, Linda Dizzley, Lee County Chapter, Debra Canty, Sumter Chapter, Loretta Green, Upper Dorchester Some of their members as well.

The event was opened with a welcome from yours truly, a scripture from Judy L. Simon, the invocation from Dorothy C. Barksdale and remarks from Frank Coppel.

Kudos to the Federation Center for providing the venue, David Houck for ticket transactions, Tanisha & Corey Gibbons for the beautiful decorations, Jennifer Bazer for the many wonderful door prizes, Sedric Heard for the music provided for dancing and James Green for a delicious dinner which consisted of roast beef, seasoned center-cut pork chops, brown rice with gravy, mixed vegetables, dinner rolls, apple cobbler, lemonade, tea and water.

The cheerful servers were Lee & Diana Singleton, Jerry & Judy Simon, Michael Wells, Annie Getter and James Green who are members of the Sumter Chapter.

The atmosphere was filled with folks who came to have a good time. The dinner was catered by James Green and we dined, danced and most won a door prize to add to the fun filled evening of conversation and laughter. We dressed to impress; red was the dominant color worn by most for the evening to show LOVE for the season of Cupid.

We appreciate the chapters and supporters for coming together and raising funds for our statewide federation where we help improve the quality of life for the blind and sight impaired throughout the state of South Carolina. A special thank you to Lavern Wilson, Isaiah Nelson, Lee & Laura James, RL Fullard, Azalee Knox and the Sumter Chapter for monetary donations towards raising over one thousand dollars on this fund-raiser. Jennifer said, “I want to thank all of you who provided door prizes for the event. Chapters, divisions and individuals gave generously and 16 prizes were given out including: wine; gift cards to Outback, Applebees, Walmart, i-Toons, Starbucks. Among the delectable and delightful gifts to owere homemade chocolates and bath beads and so much more that were given out to very excited winners.”

Mega thanks to the planning committee, Dorothy Barksdale, Jennifer Bazer, Ed Bible, Debra Canty, Shannon Cook, Frank Coppel, Linda Dizzley, Loretta Green, David Houck, Valerie Warrington and Lavern Wilson.

We look forward to your participation for the Third Annual Sweetheart’s Dance on Saturday, February 17, 2018. Remember, Live the life you want, blindness is not what holds us back!


Over 60 Attend the March 4 Upstate Seminar!

By Frank Coppel


This past Saturday, March 4, Shelley and I had a wonderful time attending the second annual Upstate Seminar which was held in Walker Hall on the campus of the SC School for the Deaf and Blind. Approximately 65 Federationists were in attendance representing the Greenville, Cherokee County, Anderson, Spartanburg, and Columbia chapters. J.W. Smith and Jamie Allison did a great job organizing and planning the program for this event. Agenda items included presentations from the NFB of SC, Rocky Bottom, NFB of SC Career Boost program, and The BELL Academy. The audience also heard reports from the SC School for the Blind and the SC Talking Book Services. A great deal of enthusiasm was generated throughout the day as an auction was held during the lunch break and door prizes were handed out at the conclusion of the seminar.


NFB of SC 2017 Greenville Convention Details


If you have not done so already, please make your hotel reservations for the 2017 NFB of SC State Convention which will be held at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Greenville, SC August 18-20. Room rates are very affordable. Rates for this year’s convention are $99 per night for up to four in a room. In addition to the room rates there will be a tax, which at present is 12 percent. There will also be a limited number of rooms available for the $99 rate Thursday, August 17, for those individuals wanting to arrive at the hotel a day prior to the official start of the convention. The deadline to make reservations will be July 27, 2017. If you pay in advance, your reservation will be guaranteed; however, you will not have to pay as long as you arrive by 6:00 p.m. Any amount you pay, of course, will be applied toward your bill.

You can make your room reservations by calling the Hyatt Regency reservation telephone number 402-592-6434 and inform the reservationist you are reserving a room for the National Federation of the Blind of South Carolina state convention. The Hyatt Regency hotel has also made available a dedicated website to book your hotel rooms online. Reservations can be made starting immediately at this web address:

We are now accepting your $80 preregistration fee for this year’s State Convention. Please send your $80 preregistration fee to the Federation Center of the Blind, 119 S. Killbourne Rd., Columbia, SC 29205. This year the NFB of SC board of directors voted to offer a discount for families with children regarding the preregistration fee. Parents will pay the $80 preregistration fee and each child eight teen years of age and younger will pay $20. All preregistration fees are nonrefundable and nontransferable. As in past years, the $80 preregistration fee will cover the reception on Friday evening, continental breakfast Saturday morning, the luncheon, banquet, and a continental breakfast Sunday morning. The deadline to accept your $80 preregistration fee is August 9. If you wait until after the deadline of August 9, the registration will increase to $100. Save $20 and preregister early!


Comments on Feeling My Way into Blindness

By Donald Capps


(Editor’s Note: This article was first featured in the January 24, 2017 Positive Note in Dr. Capps’ portion and is being reprinted here for our Palmetto Blind readers.)


The Federation on a local, state and national level spends a great deal of time improving the understanding about blindness. Thus it is crucial to correct or challenge any information that distorts the true meaning of blindness. In the November 20, 2016 Editorial edition of the New York Times there was a letter to the Editor written by a blind person that was severely derogatory about blindness. President Mark Riccobono responded to the negative letter by also writing to the New York Times. We are sharing with you President Riccobono’s letter:

“Feeling My Way Into Blindness,” New York Times, Sunday, November 30, 2016

By Mark Riccobono, President, NFB. To the Editor: Re: “Feeling My Way Into Blindness” (Disability Series, Sunday Review, November 20):

My heart went out to Edward Hoagland when I read his essay. I remember that I once let blindness make me a passenger in my own life. That changed when I encountered a vast network of other blind people who convinced me that blindness did not define me, who taught me nonvisual ways to handle everything and not-so-everyday tasks, and encouraged me to expect more of myself.

Without that experience, I might still live in fear of hurting myself or breaking things as I walk down the sidewalk, and I might regularly mismatch my socks.

I am now a successful blind man married to a blind woman, living a rich, full life with her and our three children, and serving as President of the National Federation of the Blind, a membership organization of tens of thousands of blind people.

So my next correspondence will be to Mr. Hoagland, to offer him the love and support from an extended blind family that changed my life and can change his.”

I was impressed with President Riccobono’s response and wrote the following to him: “December 1, 2016, Mark Riccobono, President, National Federation of the Blind, Dear President Riccobono: Congratulations on your excellent response yesterday (Wednesday) which appeared in the New York Times. Your letter was very effective in dealing with the terrible letter that appeared in the Sunday Times. The way you handled this was very uplifting to me and made me even more proud to be a part of the NFB. With kind regards, Donald C. Capps, President Emeritus, NFB of SC.”

I was grateful that President Riccobono responded about my letter to him: “December 1, 2016, Dear Dr. Capps, I appreciate your note very much. It is an honor to serve and to have had the mentoring of outstanding individuals such as yourself. That we get to carry on the tradition of excellence branded by our organization is fun, challenging, and a great honor. I hope you are doing well. Sincerely, Mark”

We are fortunate in having an outstanding National President who is continuously called upon to deal with crucial issues. As individuals we can also contribute to PR initiatives.


Organization Helps Visually Impaired Citizens

By Anna Brown


(Editor’s Note: Published in the Union Daily Times in March, longtime Union Chapter President Vernon Smith submitted the following article. Public relations with the media like this open doors to potential new members.)


Picture Caption: Members of the Union County Chapter of the NFB of SC include (left to right) Albert Sanders, Mabel Beam, Vernon Smith, Sherry Jenkins and Vickie Trammell


It’s not an embarrassment to be blind, just an inconvenience.

Vickie Trammell, an associate member of the Union County Chapter of the National Federation of the Blind of SC and its acting Secretary, said that’s a truth she already knew, but it’s also a fact that officials stressed when she attended the national convention in Orlando, Florida in July. “Blind people get along and do things as well as sighted people when they are trained,” she said.

By the same token, she said, some sighted people have a lot to learn about the blind, including the significance of someone using a white cane – they are visually impaired.

For 38 years, the visually impaired and the sighted have been working together locally in the Union County Chapter of the National Federation of the Blind. The group is celebrating its anniversary this month.

President Vernon Smith said Jeff Scales and his wife Eve, and Jeff’s sister Linda Pardue, and her husband Gene, spearheaded the organization of the chapter in 1979. The late Shuford and Clara Mayhue were original members. Their daughter Sherry Jenkins, continues as a member. Other current members include Albert Sanders, Mabel Beam, Jim and Mary Maness, Valerie and John Wilson and Jason Jenkins.

Members enjoy attending state and national conventions for many reasons, including meeting other visually impaired people and learning about advances in technology. Trammell and her grandson, Jay, attend the national convention.

Sanders recently went to Rocky Bottom Retreat and Conference Center of the Blind in Sunset. It is the only center [recreational complex] owned and operated by the blind in the United States. It is open year round free of charge to the blind of South Carolina and their immediate families.

“I enjoyed it,” Sanders said. “I didn’t know there were that many blind people in South Carolina, people going through the same thing I am going through.”

Sanders, a former truck driver, developed glaucoma at 45. He uses the white cane and he says people are usually very accommodating when he is in public. Sanders lives within walking distance of Main Street and he said he appreciates the improvements that have been made to sidewalks downtown. Bumps indicate when the sidewalk has ended and a person is about to walk into the street.

Smith said he would never have been able to travel to Arizona, Texas and some of the other states where the national convention was held had it not been for the National Federation of the Blind.

“I have been to so many different places – I touched the Liberty Bell,” he said.

Once he was on an elevator with Billy Dee Williams in Atlanta – he knew it because a woman with no visual impairment on the elevator shouted it out.

Smith and some of the other members also attended the 1991 national convention when Dana Elcar from MacGuyver spoke. Four seasons into playing the character Peter Thornton on the adventure series that debuted in 1985, Elcar told producers he was going blind.

They told him, “The fact that you are losing your eyesight does not mean you have forgotten how to act,” Elcar recounted in his 1991 speech.

Smith, Trammell and her grandchildren, Tyler and Brandon, attended the state convention in October.

As much as members of the group enjoy attending conventions, it is becoming financially harder each year. In the past a bus has been provided for the blind to use at a minimal cost. Last year officials were unable to provide the bus to the national convention. Volunteers are also needed.

“It would be nice to have sighted volunteers to take us around,” Sanders said.

(Anyone wanting to donate to the Union County Chapter of the National Federation of the Blind may mail a donation to Park Sterling Bank, 203 West Main Street, Union, SC 29379. Checks should be earmarked for the chapter.)


Rocky Bottom is Alive and Well

By RBRCCB Chairman Frank Coppel


The past seven months serving as the Chairman of the Board of Directors of Rocky Bottom Retreat and Conference Center of the Blind has been extremely busy and challenging, but it has also been a very enjoyable and rewarding experience as well. During this time, I have had the opportunity to work closely with many talented and wonderful people in the NFB of SC, and I have enjoyed working with these individuals a great deal. The past several months have also been a learning process for me. I am learning that the office of Chairman of the Board of Directors of RBRCCB can be quite demanding at times.

After three months of observing the performance of the Resident Manager, it was very apparent to me by February 4, we as board members needed to make a personnel change at RBRCCB. With unanimous approval of the board, I as Chairman and Ed Bible as Vice Chairman met with Brooke Rivers on Saturday, February 11, to discuss with her the board’s decision to move in a different direction regarding the position of Resident Manager and relieving her of her duties in this position. As the board and I begin the process of filling this position, Linda Bible, Ed Bible’s sister, graciously agreed to serve as the Interim Resident Manager on a voluntary basis during that time. At the April 22, meeting of the RBRCCB Board of Directors, the board voted unanimously to hire Ms. Bible as Resident Manager on a permanent basis. Linda’s previous work history consisted of a great deal of experience in the area of grounds keeping, as well as, extensive experience in the area of commercial and residential cleaning. During the time Linda Bible filled in as Interim Resident Manager, she did an excellent job managing our facilities and she worked very hard to improve our relations in the Rocky Bottom community.

During the past seven months, Rocky Bottom has been the recipient of much generosity and hard work from churches, civic groups, chapters and some of our members. On March 16, Shelley and I traveled to Rocky Bottom where we joined the mission’s team from Mt. Hebron United Methodist Church in a very productive work weekend at our facility. Approximately 30 individuals were in attendance for the weekend. The missions team worked on such tasks as repairing leaks around the chimneys at Osterneck Cottage and the Conference Center, cleaning gutters on all of the buildings, painting three rooms in the Ellenburg Lodge, planting flowers and replacing light bulbs around the gate of the property, organizing closets just to name a few of the tasks which were completed. On March 19, Vice Chairman Ed Bible, his wife Julie and Jennifer Bazer were invited to speak at the Liberty Methodist Church in Liberty, SC. As a result of their presentation, a few weeks later the church donated four vacuum cleaners for Rocky Bottom. We also received a generous contribution from the Salem Lions Club who has been long time supporters of Rocky Bottom. The Upper Dorchester County Chapter and its President Loretta Green was very gracious in donating much needed supplies for the camp. Special recognition goes to J.W. Smith and the Greenville Chapter for all of their hard work and support to Rocky Bottom since February. J.W. has hauled off countless loads of trash and one of his members has repaired the golf cart free of charge.

On Wednesday, March 22, I traveled to Baltimore, Maryland to meet with our NFB National President, Mark Riccabono, for the purpose of discussing possibilities to how the NFB as well as state affiliates could utilize our facilities at Rocky Bottom. It was apparent President Riccabono believed Rocky Bottom is presently, “one of the best kept secrets in the NFB,” and therefore, we discussed at great length the need to put forth an effort to promote Rocky Bottom to state affiliates and their members through social media and other means. We also discussed the possibility of the National Organization, its divisions, and state affiliates utilizing Rocky Bottom for the purpose of holding seminars and programs designed to improve the quality of life of blind people. Although much work still needs to be done to implement these ideas, I feel my trip to Baltimore was very successful and I look forward to further working with President Riccabono and others to develop a plan that will enable us to utilize Rocky Bottom on a national level.

Many activities are currently being planned for the summer, and I will report on these in the Fall edition of the Palmetto Blind. In closing, I would like to challenge all chapters and members to “step up to the plate” and donate supplies and their time for the benefit of Rocky Bottom. Rocky Bottom belongs to all of us. We need to take ownership and we need to take pride that we have such a unique facility in South Carolina.


From the President’s Desk

By Frank Coppel


It has been a busy time In the NFB of SC since the beginning of 2017. On Saturday, afternoon January 28, I travelled to Baltimore, Maryland to participate in a State affiliate President Seminar which was held at our Jernigan Institute. The seminar was extremely informative as I learned a great deal regarding the operation of a state affiliate and I was able to network with my fellow state presidents. At the conclusion of this meeting, I travelled on Monday, January 30, to Washington D.C. to join the South Carolina delegation as well as 500 Federationists from across the country to participating in the 2017 Washington Seminar. The other members of the South Carolina delegation who travelled to our Nation’s Capital Sunday, January 29, were NFB of SC First Vice President, Lenora Robertson, Ellen Taylor, NFB of SC Second Vice President, Debra Canty, Diana Singleton, NFB of SC Board member, ED Bible and his wife Julie, and NFB of SC Student Division President, Alexus Blanding. Because of a severe winter snow storm last year, we were unable to send anyone to the Washington Seminar. I am extremely proud of the size of this year’s South Carolina delegation.

On Saturday, February 4, the 47th annual State-wide Seminar was held at the Federation Center of the Blind in Columbia. Approximately 150 people representing eighteen chapters from across the state were in attendance and their energy and enthusiasm was at a high level throughout the day.

On Saturday evening, February 18, Shelley and I had a great time attending the second annual Sweetheart Dance Sponsored by the NFB of SC. Approximately 47 individuals were in attendance and it was very apparent everyone enjoyed all the festivities of the evening. This event raised over $1000 for the NFB of SC. Very special thanks go to Debra Canty, our state Fundraising Chairperson and her committee for putting together this event.

On Saturday, March 4, Shelley and I had a wonderful time attending the second annual Upstate Seminar which was held in Walker Hall on the campus of the SC School for the Deaf and Blind. Approximately 65 Federationists were in attendance representing the Greenville, Cherokee County, Anderson, Spartanburg, and Columbia chapters. J.W. Smith and Jamie Allison did a great job organizing and planning the program for this event. A great deal of enthusiasm was generated throughout the day.

During the month of February, I along with other federationists spent a great deal of time looking for a suitable location for this year’s NFB of SC state convention. I am pleased to announce the 2017 state convention will be held at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Greenville (220 Main Street), the weekend of August 18-20. Room rates for this year’s convention are very affordable. Room rates are $99 per night for one to four in a room. In addition to the room rates there will be a tax, which at present is 12 percent. The Hyatt Regency is a beautiful hotel and it has excellent accommodations and facilities to host our state convention. I am very excited we have the opportunity to return to the Greenville Hyatt Regency as it has been approximately thirteen years since we held a state convention in this location.

I hope many of you have made your plans to attend the 2017 NFB National Convention in Orlando Florida. The date of this year’s national convention will be July 10, to July 15, 2017 and will be held at the Rosen Shingle Creek Resort. One of the purposes of the national convention is to become more familiar with issues facing the blind on a national level. I hope we will have a large turnout of South Carolinians to attend this year’s national convention in Orlando.

As you can see, it has been a very busy time in the NFB of SC. By all of us working hard and working together we can make it possible for the blind to live the life they want!


From the Desk of the President Emeritus

By Dr. Donald C. Capps


(Editor’s Note: Printed in the May 10, 2017 Positive Note, Dr. Capps’ contemporary relationship with Tommy Ingle is reprinted here for our Palmetto Blind readers.)


It is with sincere regret that I report the death of longtime federationist, Tommy Ingle which took place on Friday, May 5. Tommy was only five months older than I am as he celebrated his 89th birthday on March 31 this year. I first met Tommy when we were both ten years old and students at SCSDB. Since we were contemporaries, I especially regret the death of Tommy. We spotlighted Tommy on May 26, 2010 in Positive Note 1241which was thoroughly researched and printed. I’m taking the liberty of reprinting the May 26, 2010 Positive Note as it yields very thorough and interesting information on Tommy. We extend sympathy to Tommy’s daughter Renee and his son Roy.

“The spotlight this week shines on Tommy Ingle – one who has been in the federation for 40 years, joining the Columbia Chapter in 1970. He served as President of the Columbia Chapter for one year. He now serves as Assistant Secretary of the Greenville Chapter. Born in Greenville on March 31, 1928, he and I are virtually the same age as I was born on August 30, 1928. Tommy stated that he had been blind from birth and has never seen daylight. It is believed by Tommy and his family that the wrong medications were accidentally used in both eyes, causing his blindness. Incidentally, no one has better mobility skills than Tommy, especially without the use of a cane or guide dog. I enrolled at SCSDB in 1939, some five years after Tommy and we’ve been good friends throughout the years. Tommy’s father drove a bread truck and would frequently visit Tommy at SCSDB, bringing cookies and other goodies which he gave to Tommy who was good enough to share some of his goodies with me. Tommy learned piano tuning shortly after graduation with his first employer being Alexander’s Piano Company in Spartanburg. The Division for the Blind, which was a part of the Department of Public Welfare, bought Tommy his piano tools and he received for his first employment $15 per week from the Division for the Blind and $15 per week from Alexander’s Piano Company. He also worked at Seigling in Charleston, and according to Tommy, was the first piano store in the U. S., established in 1918, Harmon Piano Service in Greenville and Case Brothers and Rice Piano Company. Finally Tommy found permanent employment at Westinghouse in Columbia in 1970. He worked for Westinghouse for 26 years (1970-1996), retiring at that time but he continued as a piano tuner as a part-time business. Tommy has one daughter, Renee who has two daughters and her husband who is an attorney and one son, Roy, who has three boys. Tommy has attended about 20 NFB of SC state conventions and about 12 national conventions. When asked about Rocky Bottom, he stated, “Its great and I never pass up an opportunity to go there.” It wasn’t difficult to guess Tommy’s hobby – singing gospel songs. Recognized by his associates as being quite religious, Tommy attends the Washington Avenue Church of God. Finally, born in tough times, Tommy faced many challenges and worked at many different piano companies from the Upstate to the Low Country trying to make a living for himself. Before landing the 1970 Westinghouse job, Tommy had already reached 42 years old but still managed to work faithfully for Westinghouse for more than a quarter of a century. Since Tommy and I are contemporaries, I probably understand the efforts and diligence Tommy has faced for several decades. This is the primary reason this week we are pleased to spotlight such a good person and a good federationist.”


Successful Transitions: Lessons Involving Future Endeavors

By Jennifer Bazer


Successful Transitions, an affiliate of CareerBoost, is a federally funded program set up through the National Federation of the Blind of South Carolina (NFB of SC) in conjunction with the SC Commission for the Blind (SCCB) to fulfill the workforce Innovation and Opportunities Act (WIOA) while specifically providing funding and training for Pre-employment transition services (PRE-ETS). The program works with agencies, nonprofits, and schools to recruit students between the ages of 13 and 21 that are eligible or potentially eligible for Vocational Rehabilitation and prepare them for employment. Successful Transitions covers the entire state of South Carolina. Four components of the grant include: self-advocacy, work- readiness, work-based learning, and post-secondary exposure.

The NFB of SC Successful Transitions’ team is comprised of Jennifer Bazer, Director along with an administrative assistant and transition consultants around the state. Over half of the team is blind and the consultants who are sighted have family members who are blind or have worked in the field of blindness.

Since the signing of the grant on September 15, 2016, the team has made a positive impact in South Carolina. Ninety students have completed the six week self-advocacy class and there are currently 21 students in class at this time; ninety-four students have completed work-readiness and there are currently 16 students in work-readiness at this time; eight students have toured colleges with exposure to Disability Services, Financial Aid, touring a dorm, and speaking with department heads in the field they are interested; sixty-four students have been on job tours as well as had a job shadow experience; three students went on a job or internship interview; one student was offered a position after the internship was completed; seventeen teens participating in the SCCB summer teen program have been placed on internships around Columbia starting July 10, 2017.

Consultants have taken students on tours of colleges and technical schools including: Limestone, Frances Marion, Florence Darlington Tech, and the Culinary Arts of Myrtle Beach. Students have been exposed to jobs including: cosmetology, veterinary assistant, IT, web design, and auto body. “I enjoy helping my students become self-advocates and watch them use that knowledge in choosing a college or job that fits their skills and interests,” said Casey Eubanks.

The Successful Transitions team is spreading the word about their free program by attending conferences including: South Carolina AER, Pinegrove Autism conference, the Hopes and Dreams conference along with presenting at transition alliance meetings at schools and participating in local career fairs. The team will be present at the Dare to Be Remarkable conference in Baltimore, Maryland in November sponsored by the National Federation of the Blind’s national office.

“It is truly rewarding to see students excited about their future, “said Loretta Green. Pam Schexnider, administrative assistant for the team said, “I am proud to be a part of a team where everyone is passionate about helping youth who are blind discover how their strengths, skills, and interests will assist them in future endeavors.


Rocky Bottom Children’s Camp 2017—SOAR in Strength

By Jennifer Bazer


Rocky Bottom children’s Camp of the Blind will be held June 25-July 1, 2017. Currently, 25 campers who are blind are excited to attend camp at the bottom of Sassafras Mountain. The campers will participate in music, art, dance, mobility, home management, outdoor recreation and swimming. Activities outside of camp are being planned. Campers are looking forward to the annual climb up Sassafras Mountain along with roasting marshmallows.

Derique Simon said, “I have been going to Rocky bottom children’s Camp for a long time, and now, I am excited to be a junior counselor as a role model for the campers and helping MS. Jennifer wherever she needs me.” “A lot of time and dedication goes into planning a camp for 65 campers and volunteers, and I am proud to steer a team that is excited to be involved in children’s camp,” said Jennifer Bazer, Director of Rocky bottom Children’s Camp.

The response to assist during camp has been overwhelming, and at this time, all volunteer roles have been filled. The camp wants to thank individuals, chapters, and divisions who have contributed to Children’s Camp already this year. It cost between $5,000 and $6,000 to run children’s camp for a week during the summer, and the camp needs an additional $1,800 to meet its goal. Monetary donations can be made to Rocky bottom Children’s Camp and mailed to, Federation Center of the Blind, Attention Jennifer Bazer, 119 S. Kilbourne Road, Columbia, SC 29205. A list of needed supplies for children’s camp is listed below, and can be left at the center, or you can call Jennifer Bazer at 803-661-6622 or email her at to make arrangements for pick-up of in-kind donations.


Needed Supplies for children’s Camp


pool items/toys

Items to play with outside for rec

spray on sunscreen at least 30 SPF

travel sizes of toothpaste, toothbrushes, soap, and shampoo

cleaning supplies including: toilet bowl cleaner, tub cleaner, everyday cleaner, furniture polish, etc.

paper products: toilet paper, paper towels, paper plates, cups, bowls, plastic ware

55 gallon trash bags, liquid dish soap, liquid laundry soap, etc.

snacks (all individually wrapped please: juice boxes, little Debbie’s, animal crackers, goldfish, chips, etc.


“It takes the help and support of so many to ensure camp is successful, and I thank you for considering how you can contribute to Rocky Bottom children’s Camp for campers who are blind in South Carolina.” Said Jennifer Bazer

From the Editor’s Desk

By David Houck


Recently there have been a few of our members who have passed away like Ruth Jordan who made an impact in the lives of so many, both blind and sighted alike. A close friend to the Federation, she had a great impact upon Rocky Bottom, the NFB of SC, blind scholarship recipients and the Greenville Chapter. Cheryl Mott Sims was also such a person as her leadership in the Lee County Chapter will be missed as I am certain NFB of SC State Board member Linda Dizzley and others can relate her many contributions. Tommy Ingle passed away in early May. He was a longtime active member of both the Greenville and Columbia Chapters and he attended the School for the Blind about the same time as Dr. Capps did. He had an uncanny way with mobility and could tell you exactly where you were while riding in a car. He also loved Rocky Bottom, did piano tuning and worked at Westinghouse Nuclear. I also think of Martha Robertson whose funeral I attended. Martha was a great friend and volunteer to Rocky Bottom, the NFB of SC and especially to the Rock Hill and Columbia Chapters. To her, everyone was considered to be family.

“Raising Expectations” which was our theme since the October 2016 NFB of SC Convention, means not just remembering those who laid the foundation and served the blind along the way; it also refers to constantly reaching out, recruiting new members, revitalizing chapters and divisions, and assisting the blind of South Carolina in new ways. In this way we perpetuate ourselves like those who have gone on before us.

Let me take this opportunity to congratulate the Honorable Parnell Diggs, the new Administrative Law Judge for Social Security who just left his job as Director of Governmental Affairs at the NFB National Office to assume this new position in Cincinnati, Ohio. Those years of representing blind South Carolinians in their Social Security hearings paid off. Before he was NFB of SC President and active in the Student Division, and even before going to the USC School of Law, I remember Parnell Diggs as a member of the Summer Teen Program at the Commission where he and Chris Danielsen (now NFB Public Relations Director) both heard my presentation concerning the NFB of SC. Many others worked with Parnell and Chris as well but at that time no one understood just how far they would go. Get out there and recruit new members! You just never know how much they will in turn change the lives of others to help them to live the life they want.




A lesson on living the life you want:


The Road Not Taken

By Robert Frost


TWO roads diverged in a yellow wood,

And sorry I could not travel both

And be one traveler, long I stood

And looked down one as far as I could

To where it bent in the undergrowth;


Then took the other, as just as fair,

And having perhaps the better claim,

Because it was grassy and wanted wear;

Though as for that the passing there

Had worn them really about the same,


And both that morning equally lay

In leaves no step had trodden black.

Oh, I kept the first for another day!

Yet knowing how way leads on to way,

I doubted if I should ever come back.


I shall be telling this with a sigh

Somewhere ages and ages hence:

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—

I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference.


The National Federation of the Blind of South Carolina gratefully accepts gifts, living memorials, grants, bequests, stocks and wills. As a 501(c)(3) tax exempt organization, your gift is tax deductible.